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Sunday 15 March 2020

#ForBetterForWorse @JaneIsaacAuthor @ariafiction

About For Better, For Worse 

Stuart Ingram was once a respected local councillor...
The first time the police knocked on Gina's door, they arrested her husband.
The second time, they accused him of child abuse.

But he died a guilty man.

This time, the police are here for Gina – to tell her that her husband is dead. Murdered, just two weeks before his trial.

Gina always stood by her husband. Even when everyone else walked away. She believed the trial would clear his name. But now Stuart is dead.

And his wife is the suspect.

It's a race against time for DC Beth Chamberlain to uncover the truth – especially when a second man turns up dead.

Domestic noir meets police procedural in this pacy thriller from Jane Isaac, perfect for fans of Samantha Downing, Fiona Barton and K.L. Slater. Previously published as Presumed Guilty.

My review of For Better, For Worse

A new Jane Isaac novel is always such a treat and For Better, For Worse, really is no exception. As always the writing is punchy, the pace is fast and the characters are well drawn. This book blends together a murder mystery and an unfolding family drama to create a dark, tense and unsettling read. I could not put this book down. 

The story begins with the death of disgraced local businessman and councillor, Stuart Ingram, who is about to face charges of child sexual exploitation. He is murdered, killed in a hit and run only a few weeks before the trial is about to start. Everyone has abandoned him, apart from his wife, Gina, who has stood beside him. But was she right to do so? Was Stuart guilty or innocent? Who killed him and why? The opening chapters conjure up so many questions and more are asked as another man is found dead. 

DC Beth Chamberlain investigates the murder and her role as Family Liaison Officer gives her a greater insight into the Ingram family dynamics. She meets not only Gina, but their estranged daughter. Beth starts to dig into the past and the allegations that Stuart faced. Is his death related to the trial or to something else? 

This novel looks closely at how a family deals with the strain and tension that is involved when a loved one is accused of a terrible crime. I thought the portrayal of Gina was incredibly genuine. I empathised completely with this character and felt her anguish and tug of war emotions for the man she loved.

We also have another strong female presence in the form of DC Beth Chamberlain. Wow, the strength of this woman. Wouldn't we all want to be like her. She is trying to juggle life on the force after a past traumatic case, while dealing with her sister who doesn't always make the best life decisions. I admire this character so much. She is so very real and an utterly fresh voice in the realm of detective slash domestic noir fiction.

For Better, For Worse, is a gripping, immersive and disturbing read. Having said that, this book is also full of hope and that there is light in a world of darkness. I look forward to reading the next instalment in the DC Beth Chamberlain series.  

With thanks to the publisher for the Advanced Reader Copy.

For Better, For Worse is published on March 19th by Aria. 

Tuesday 25 February 2020

#BlackRiver @willrdean @PtBlankBks #TeamTuva

About Black River

An electrifying return for relentless reporter Tuva Moodyson, from the author of Dark Pines and Red Snow.


Tuva’s been living clean in southern Sweden for four months when she receives horrifying news. Her best friend Tammy Yamnim has gone missing.


Racing back to Gavrik at the height of Midsommar, Tuva fears for Tammy’s life. Who has taken her, and why? And who is sabotaging the small-town search efforts?


Surrounded by dark pine forest, the sinister residents of Snake River are suspicious of outsiders. Unfortunately, they also hold all the answers. On the shortest night of the year, Tuva must fight to save her friend. The only question is who will be there to save Tuva?

My review of Black River

Black River is the third book in the Tuva Moodyson series that is set in the small, catastrophic town of Gavrik in Sweden. I'll just start by saying that I absolutely loved this book. I couldn't put it down. I now feel as if I know Tuva and all the residents of Gavrik. I can clearly see the liquorice factory, feel the heat of the blistering sun as people walk down Main Street, and the scrap yards of Snake River that is truly sinister. I know this town and the people, the sights and smells. It's an all consuming, breathtaking and addictive read. I loved it.

Tuva Moodyson is back in Gavrik. Her closest friend Tammy is missing, taken from her food van. Nobody knows where she is. Tuva joins forces with her previous employer, Lena, at the town's paper, putting up flyers and undertaking her own investigation. Her loyalty and love for her friend is made clearly evident. Will Dean beautifully explores the issues of female friendship and the bond that women share. What is also explored in the search for Tammy are the obvious undertones of racism that run throughout the streets of Gavrik. The fact that the residents see Tammy as an outsider, not a pure Swede, because of the colour of her skin. Although the police are investigating her disappearance, Tuva feels that they aren't really taking the case seriously and so she begins to delve deeper, her search leading to Snake River and the strange people who live there.  

What we get is a picture of a small town, far away from city life, and as it is Midsommar, there is distinctive shift in the air. That feeling that something bad will happen. We meet all the usual characters, those who are strange and make your skin crawl. The shoe shop guy in particular is a very strange and unsettling character. I questioned everyone that Tuva investigated. Could they be the kidnapper? There is a great sense of unease in the town that is fuelled by the stifling summer sun and the lack of darkness at night. An important question that is raised throughout the story is who can Tuva trust? 

Tuva is such a compelling central character. A young deaf woman who is an excellent journalist and who will do anything to find her friend. That is what is at the root of this story. Friendship. It is also about the strength of women and strong female characters. Tuva is a force to be reckoned with, dismissing people's assumptions, ignorance and prejudices about her deafness, about the fact that she is a young woman who is viewed as an outsider. But the women in Gavrik support each other, especially Lena who looks after Tuva, gives her somewhere to stay and feeds her. I loved this relationship. We also have Tuva's relationship with Noora, the police woman. I found the exploration of their relationship to be both tender and insightful, helping to explore Tuva's vulnerabilities and past demons.

Most importantly, Black River is a fantastic read. It has a central character who we care about, and a mystery that needs to be solved. Where is Tammy? What happened to her? It's a genuinely creepy and unsettling read and Tuva's visits to Snake River creeped me out. I couldn't read fast enough. I needed to find out what had happened.

Black River is a joy to read. It's a gripping thriller and Tuva Moodyson has now become one of my most favourite fictional characters. I must also warn you that this story will stay with you long after you have finished reading. 

With thanks to the publisher who provided an early review copy.

Black River is published by Point Blank/OneWorld Publications and is available to buy in ebook now and will be published in hardback on March 12th.

Friday 14 February 2020

#LoveBytesBack @ValleyMystery @matadorbooks

Today I have the pleasure of inviting author Angelena Boden onto the blog to celebrate the publication day of Love Bytes Back.

I first stumbled across Angelena when I read The Future Can't Wait, which I absolutely adored. You can read my review here. 

I then read her next book, Edna's Death Cafe, which is the first book in the Edna Reid investigation series. This book I found to be incredibly poignant, uplifting and life affirming. You can read my review here.

So, when I heard that Angelena was about to release the second book in the series I was very excited. The book is released on February 14th and is published by Matador. I will be reading this very soon and sharing my thoughts with you. But in the meantime I thought I would ask Angelena about Valentine's Day and how she celebrates this special day.

Enjoy!    ❤

How do you celebrate St Valentine's Day?

Christmas is over and the shelves are filling up with Valentine cards – cute ones, funny ones, serious ones, but all with the ubiquitous red heart and saccharine-sweet messages of love.

Romantics love it, cynics hate it for its commercialism but there’s no doubt that the 700 hundred year old tradition has stood the test of time. Sales of flowers, chocolates and cuddly toys with an “I love you” tag round the neck get a special boost, and where love is concerned, money’s no object. Sorry if I sound a little cynical myself!

The origins of this day are interesting, if not a little muddy. St Valentine was a priest in Roman times who arranged secret marriages for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. He defied an order given by the Emperor Claudius to desist from his activities but he wouldn’t. As punishment he was jailed and consequently beheaded on February 14, 270 AD thereabouts.

It is believed that the martyred saint became connected to the tokens of romantic love that brought in £650 million to the UK economy in 2018.

Not every country celebrates this day or if they do, it’s in their own way. The Welsh, for example, don’t celebrate St Valentine’s Day. Instead, the men give carved love spoons to their beloved on January 25, the feast of St. Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers.

In Scotland, you can opt to be someone’s Valentine for the day and who knows where that might go.

In South Africa, women pin hearts to their sleeves, sometimes with the name of their love interest. I discovered that this is linked to an ancient roman tradition known as Lupercalia.

Brazilians go for Dia dos Namorados or “Lover’s Day” on June 12 when they exchange gifts and share dinner with lovers and friends.

A popular Valentine's Day gift in Italy is Baci Perugina  -are small, chocolate-covered hazelnuts wrapped with a romantic quote.

As I walk round my town I spot the hotels and restaurants offering their Valentine Specials – romantic spa weekends, champagne suppers and walking retreats for couples. There’s no end to the imaginative ways we are encouraged to part with our money.

Here’s a personal story to make you smile. My husband and I were on holiday in Malta in February 2016. We were passing a flower cart bursting with buckets of single stem roses. I looked across at them and then at him. He’s the least romantic man on the planet. He thrust his hand in his pocket and jangled his change. ‘I suppose you want one of those,’ he said, sounding annoyed.  I’ll give you three guesses as to my reply.

So, how will you celebrate Valentine’s Day 2020? May I make a suggestion?

For just £1.99, download my new e-book, “Love Bytes Back” and see how falling in love isn’t all roses. Enjoy.

About Love Bytes Back

When lonely widow Kitty Merriweather moves to Derbyshire’s Hope Valley, she joins the Silver Rose online dating site because it offers a safe place for the over sixties to find romance.

There, she meets the enigmatic Harvey, a scientist working on a conservation project in Bali who promises her “hot days and stormy nights.”

Love blooms quickly but Kitty breaks all the rules laid down by the agency, putting herself at risk. When little things don’t add up she dismisses them as being unimportant. Nothing matters more than her plans for them to live happily ever after.

When she confides in her new friend, Edna Reid, octogenarian and former cafĂ© owner, Kitty gets angry at Edna’s implication she is likely the victim of a scam.

The more Edna hears about Harvey, the more she is convinced he’s only interested in Kitty for her money.

Using her knowledge of computers Edna finally uncovers the truth, but where does black magic and murder fit into this intriguing cosy mystery?

About the author

Angelena has spent thirty- five years as an international training consultant and counsellor, specialising in behavioural management, communication skills and conflict resolution. She has a Masters in Social Science from Birmingham University, and diplomas in Transactional Analysis, teaching, training, coaching and mentoring. Now retired, when Angelina is not dog walking, babysitting, landscape painting or reading astrology charts for clients, she writes the “Edna Read Investigates” series of cosy crime novels, which are set in the Peak District. She is also a champion for Autumn Voices, a website dedicated to promoting creative pursuits of authors over 60.

Tuesday 4 February 2020

#ADozenSecondChances @katehaswords @OneMoreChapter

About A Dozen Second Chances

What are the chances that twelve little tokens could change a life?

Seventeen years ago, Eve Roberts had the wonderful life she’d always dreamed of: a degree in archaeology, a gorgeous boyfriend, and exciting plans to travel the world with him, working on digs. But when her sister Faye died, the life Eve knew ended too. Faye’s daughter Caitlyn came to live with Eve, her boyfriend left, and she quickly gave up on her dreams.

Now approaching her fortieth birthday, Eve faces the prospect of an empty nest as Caitlyn is leaving home. Caitlyn gives Eve a set of twelve ‘Be Kind to Yourself’ vouchers, telling her that she has to start living for herself again, and that she should fill one in every time she does something to treat herself.

With her very first voucher, Eve’s life will change its course. But with eleven more vouchers to go, can Eve learn to put herself first and follow the dreams she’s kept secret for so long? Because life is for living – and as she well knows, it’s too short to waste even a moment…

My review of A Dozen Second Chances

A Dozen Second Chances is a gorgeous, heartfelt and emotional read. I loved it.

I have read, devoured and absolutely loved every Kate Field story I have ever read and A Dozen Second Chances is no exception. Written with warmth, understanding and great insight, the story of Eve and her quest for fulfilment and a second chance of living the life she has always dreamed of was an absolute delight to read. It's one of those books where you find yourself lost in the characters and the story they are living.

I adored Eve and understood her completely. She is a woman nearing middle age, who has put others before her own needs her entire life. Now that her daughter has left for university and is starting her own life, so too should Eve. What's to stop her? That's the real message at the heart of this book, that the only barrier to Eve becoming the person she wishes to be, and to live the life she has always wanted is Eve herself. So can she be brave and take those chances that she has been given? We follow Eve on this exciting journey and find out along with her.

This is a romantic read with so much heart. But it is also a book about the relationship between a mother and daughter, and of how this relationship evolves as we grow older. It's also a book about female friendship and the strength of women. Eve is a strong woman, she has had to be in her life, but she just needs a guiding hand to make her see that the life she deserves is out there for her. She just needs to grab it with both hands.

A Dozen Second Chances is a beautiful book.  This romantic story is gentle and presents us with a realistic portrayal of the difficulties that are found in any relationship. The miscommunication and the difficulty in expressing our emotions and feelings. I loved the interaction between Eve and Paddy. In fact, I loved Paddy full stop.

If you're looking for a romantic read that is heartwarming, thought provoking and simply gorgeous, then you'll love A Dozen Second Chances.

A Dozen Second Chances is published on 6th Feb by Avon's One More Chapter.

With thanks to the publisher for the Advanced Reader Copy.

Saturday 1 February 2020

#GrownUps @MarianKeyes @MichaelJBooks

About Grown Ups

They're a glamorous family, the Caseys.

Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together - birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they're a happy family. Johnny's wife, Jessie - who has the most money - insists on it.

Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much . . .

Everything stays under control until Ed's wife Cara, gets concussion and can't keep her thoughts to herself. One careless remark at Johnny's birthday party, with the entire family present, starts Cara spilling out all their secrets.

In the subsequent unravelling, every one of the adults finds themselves wondering if it's time - finally - to grow up?

My review of Grown Ups

I am always so excited to get my hands on a new novel by Marian Keyes as you are always guaranteed a thoroughly good read. Grown Ups is no exception. It was a pure treat to read and I was so sad to say goodbye to the Casey family at the end as they had all become such good friends to me. I felt as if I knew them, inside and out.

Grown Ups is essentially a book about family and family dynamics. Every family has its secrets and difficulties, but at the end of the day they are there for each other and it is so beautifully and eloquently explored in this novel. It sheds real insight into how it feels to be part of a large Irish family and the responsibilities that you may feel at being part of this group.  Jessie is very much the matriarch, the woman at the helm who ensures the smooth running of this extended family. On the surface she is confident, capable and unflappable, but as we read we get to see the real Jessie and the pressures and strain she is under at running a business and family. I empathised and understood her completely. I adored this character.

Grown Ups is a book that tackles many serous issues, but as with every Marian Keyes novel there is also much laughter, quick wit and a thoroughly enjoyable yarn of a read. Once i started I found it incredibly hard to put this book down, as the characters got into my head and under my skin. Nell, who is very much the new member of the family, newly married to Liam, is trying to find her way in this bustling and lively family who love to do everything together. Cara also intrigued me with her straight talking nature and successful career, but like everyone else in this book, she too was harbouring a secret.

This is a fast paced book involving many characters, but you quickly learn who is who and simply go along with the ride, learning about each of the couples in turn and how their secrets will impact the story as a whole. It's a funny read, it's a sad read and by the end you understand the importance of family and that at the end of the day no one is perfect.

It also asks many questions on what it actually means to be a grown up. Who knows? Do we ever really grow up or are we all just pretending and playing the game? It's such a refreshing read as it poses these questions throughout the book and makes us come to our own conclusions. 

Grown Ups was a pure joy to read. I loved every word. I just wish that I could read it all over again for the first time. It's a heartbreaking and heartwarming read in equal measures. It's a dazzling read. 

Grown Ups is published on 6th Feb by Penguin Michael Joseph.

With thanks to the publisher for the Advanced Reader Copy.

Sunday 26 January 2020

#Adults @emjaneunsworth @BoroughPress

About Adults

Jenny is unloved, unemployable and emotionally unfiltered. Her long-suffering friends seem sick of her and whilst her social media portrays her life as a bed of roses, it is more of a dying succulent.

Adults is what you want it to be. A misadventure of maturity, a satire on our age of self-promotion, a tender look at the impossibility of womanhood, a love story, a riot. And Emma Jane Unsworth is the only voice to hear it from. Adults is excruciating, a gut punch of hilarity and a book laden with truth that you will read again and again.

My review of Adults

Adults is a huge gulp of fresh air. I absolutely ADORED this book for its honesty, its humour, its frank commentary about how we live our lives on social media and the reality of modern day relationships while trying to achieve that work life balance when we find it so difficult to switch off. This book has a LOT to say and I devoured every word. It's a thought provoking read that makes you laugh on one page and cry on the next. It's a pure delight.

Adults is Jenny's story and even after reading only the first few chapters i found that I had a real sense of who she was and how she lived her life. I found her to be funny, insecure, ambitious but ultimately a nice person who had made some bad decisions in her life and who was trying to find her way in the world. This book works because she has such a powerful and distinctive voice. This is her story and we stay with her every step of the way as we don't want to miss a single second.

Jenny works, but this word should be used very loosely, as it is not exactly made clear to us the reader, or to Jenny herself, exactly what it is that she does for a living. Her day seems to involve posting photos on twitter and Insta, creating interesting hashtags and detailing every aspect of her life in her weekly column. But at what cost? That's the question that is being asked here. What happens when the lines between reality and online presence become blurred? What happens then? But just to add that I found her twitter posts incredibly current and funny.

We then read about Jenny's relationships. Throughout the novel we read about her past experiences and present day life, so that her relationship with her mother, best friend and now ex boyfriend become perfectly clear. What we read is both funny and tragic in equal measure, and in learning about her relationships, we learn more about why Jenny relies so much on social media. 

Adults is such a tender, honest and heart-warming read. It really does cover every emotion.  It is a compulsive and all consuming read. I found it hard to put down. It's hard to explain how so very important this book is for today's modern world of online profiles and trying to live that ultimately unachievable perfect life. I loved this book, I really did. And, I will never quite look at a croissant in the same way again.

Adults is published by The Borough Press on Jan 30th.

With thanks to the publisher for the advanced reader copy.

Tuesday 21 January 2020

#TheOtherPeople @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks

About The Other People

Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl's face appear in the rear window.
She mouths one word: 'Daddy.'
It's his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.
He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.
Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe's daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice . . .

My review of The Other People

The Other People is a book that you won't be able to put down. Once you read the opening chapter you will be hooked, just like I was. Gabe is driving home when an old rusty car grabs his attention, along with the bumper stickers. Inside he sees a fleeting glimpse of a little girl, his little girl, mouthing 'Daddy', and then she is gone from view. This scene is the premise for the book. Was the little girl really Izzy? Why was she in the car? What happens is that Gabe finds himself alone in life, the victim, and his life then starts on a different path. That of the search for his daughter.

I LOVED this book. Once i had finished I went back to the beginning, devouring every single word. I wasn't ready to say goodbye to these characters, because they had sunk their hooks in to me and wouldn't let me go.

Ultimately I found this to be a book about a man and the love he had for his daughter.  a love so fierce that he was prepared to do anything to find her against all the odds. The relationship between father and daughter is at the heart of this story. which is ultimately a dark and unsettling read. We meet Gabe at his very lowest. He is a man with no fixed address, living in a van, travelling up and down the motorway looking for his lost little girl, three years on from the event that changed his life. He is in limbo and my heart ached for him.

There are so many wonderful characters in this book. Some you may not particularly bond with, but all are relatable They get under your skin. Fran is utterly compelling and just wait until you meet the Samaritan. What I really liked was that all of these characters are troubled, they are all flawed, but all are interesting and a few you will grow to love.

The Other People is a book about seeking justice, protecting your family and unconditional love. It's a book about past regrets and learning to live with the past. Most importantly it is a book that is about hope and love, but be warned, The Other People will haunt you long after you have finished reading.

The Other People is published on 23rd Jan.

With thanks to the publisher for the early review copy.