Saturday, 16 June 2018

A gathering of Ghosts - Karen Maitland - wonderfully atmospheric historical writing

A Gathering of Ghosts by Karen Maitland

My review:

Karen Maitland smashes the bar again with another fabulous, bewitching medieval masterpiece.

She populates her latest book with a cast of superbly memorable characters.

A group of holy sisters in an isolated Priory, ruled by the indomitable Prioress Johanne assisted by a group of sisters including the wonderful sister Basilia (I must confess I instantly pictured her as the wonderful actress Patsy Byrne - most famous for her role of Nursie in Blackadder, and wonder if the author had this character in mind when she created her?)

Knights of St John, tinners working on Dartmoor living in impoverishment I shudder to imagine, and some wonderful mystical and magical pagan women.

The whole story is woven around survival, the battle between pagan beliefs versus Christianity, magic, ancient lore, the wisdom and fortitude of women from different walks of life entwined with the occult. Combine this with a stunningly believable storyline and strange happenings and you have a winner.

If you like your historical fiction to be scrupulously researched, scintillatingly imaginative and deeply engaging look no further. I was wowed by this latest book by one of my favourite historical authors.

The Blurb

The year is 1316 and high on the wilds of Dartmoor, hidden by the mist, stands the isolated Priory of St Mary, owned by the Sisters of the Knights of St John. People travel from far and wide in search of healing at the ancient holy well that lies beneath the chapel.

But the locals believe the well was theirs long before Christianity arrived and there are those who would do anything to reclaim their sacred spring... As plagues of frogs cascade from the well and the water turns to blood, is there witchcraft afoot? Or is the Old World fighting back at last?

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Wrecker by Noel O'Reilly - gritty historical fiction

Wrecker by Noel O'Reilly

My review

I can't resist a trip into the dark and murky past of our forbears and Wrecker plunged me into the world of bygone coastal Corwall.

(I must admit the beautiful cover drew me in like a moth to a flame)

This is a take of poverty stricken fishing folk who often struggle to put another pilchard on the table and whom desperation makes reckless. These villagers live in crude hovels with naught to their names but the hand me down pagan beliefs they have inherited. They eke out the meagre living they try to sustain with fishing and farming, by scavenging goods which have been washed up from the many shipwrecks which occur in the area.

In this twisty tale of times gone by we meet Mary Blight, a feisty feckless heroine, who lives with her ailing Mam and her beloved sister. Mary wants to better herself and is about to seize any opportunity that comes her way, but she is apt to make a bad decision or two:

like the time she goes to the beach to see what pickings she can find following a shipwreck and impulsively pulls a pair of expensive boots from the body of a dead woman whose body has already been mutilated by a previous wrecker, an act she is to come to regret.

Like the time she gets very drunk at a village gathering and lifts her skirts to try and ensnare a man who is promised to someone else, alienating herself from her peers.

Like rescuing a man from drowning and the attachment she makes to this man she rescues from the sea. Gideon Stone, a married Methodist minister who, after his salvation at Mary's hands finds in himself a burning ambition to save the villagers of Porthmorven from their pagan superstitions and returns to build them a chapel where he can preach and save their souls.

Mary is a character I rooted for, yet didn't wholly like, she is cunning with a mercenary streak but seems to lack the sharpness of wit required to fully make the most of her opportunities. She treats people badly and her motives are sometimes unclear but mostly driven by greed and understandable dissatisfaction with her lot.

The book is a gripping historical story, with love at its core and secrets and superstition at its heart, yet it's as far removed from a regency romance as the characters are from the drawing rooms of polite society.

Atmospheric and rather dark its a great read for the lover of gritty historical fiction.

The blurb

A powerful debut exploring the dark side of Cornwall – the wrecking and the drowned sailors – where poverty drove villagers to dark deeds…

Shipwrecks are part of life in the remote village of Porthmorvoren, Cornwall. And as the sea washes the bodies of the drowned onto the beach, it also brings treasures: barrels of liquor, exotic fruit, the chance to lift a fine pair of boots from a corpse, maybe even a jewel or two.

When, after a fierce storm, Mary Blight rescues a man half-dead from the sea, she ignores the whispers of her neighbours and carries him home to nurse better. Gideon Stone is a Methodist minister from Newlyn, a married man. Touched by Mary’s sacrifice and horrified by the superstitions and pagan beliefs the villagers cling to, Gideon sets out to bring light and salvation to Porthmorvoren by building a chapel on the hill.

But the village has many secrets and not everyone wants to be saved. As Mary and Gideon find themselves increasingly drawn together, jealousy, rumour and suspicion is rife. Gideon has demons of his own to face, and soon Mary’s enemies are plotting against her…

Gripping, beautifully written and utterly beguiling, Noel O’Reilly’s debut WRECKER is a story of love, injustice, superstition and salvation, set against Cornwall’s dark past.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Blog Tour and my Review – The Retreat by Mark Edwards

Blog Tour and my Review – The Retreat by Mark Edwards

I’m delighted to welcome one of my favourite authors of twisty psychological thrillers, Mark Edwards,  to Beadyjans books today with his latest terrifying new book – The Retreat.

My Review:

The Retreat is a clever and compelling thriller with great characters lots going on and plenty to scare the pants off you!

If you’re reading my blog it figures that you’re a keen reader, blogger or writer and most of us who write, whether it be books, articles, blog posts or book reviews will surely have dreamt of some place quiet and peaceful to get away from the stresses of everyday life - the phones constantly ringing, people clamouring for our attention and thoughts and memories crowding in and interrupting the creative process.

Well, that’s just what successful horror author Lucas thinks he’s found when he books a break at a newly created writers retreat in an old rural house in Wales, where owner Julia is trying to make ends meet after the sudden death of her husband by letting out rooms to writers so they can enjoy the peace and quiet and get on with creating their masterpieces.

However, relaxing tranquillity isn’t quite what he gets. There is a shroud of mystery and darkness over the whole rural area, which is steeped in local legends and myths, which he plans to use to good advantage hoping they will inspire him to regain his lost writing mojo. But local folk seem suspicious and sinister and seem to be concealing something.

He discovers Julia to be kind and attractive yet deeply troubled as not only was her husband killed in a tragic drowning incident but their only daughter Lily was lost in the same tragic accident, but as her body has never been found, 2 years on she still can’t accept this tragic loss of her beloved young daughter, closure hasn’t been granted to her and she is undoubtedly deeply troubled by the past.

Of the 4 writers currently staying at the Retreat, Lucas can relate to this, he has his own personal demons of grief and loss to deal with, but despite his feeling deeply attracted to the widowed Julia they hit it off on the wring foot and each time he feels he’s getting closer to her he puts his clumsy great foot in it once again.

Something or someone is causing strange occurrences around the house and despite his vivid imagination he finds it impossible to accept that it could be haunted, any more than he can believe in the old local legend of the Eerie Red widow who snatches children. He knows that this can’t have been what happened to Lily and he sets out to find out what really happened that fateful day at the river and hopes to give Julia the closure she so desperately needs.

He unleashes more than a spook when he begins to delve, he uncovers secrets and dark deeds which have been buried over the years and he might have put his own life in danger as the more he reveals, the more someone wants to shut him up.

There is everything you need to be scared witless in this story, death and mayhem, murder and mystery coupled with spooky goings on are the perfect recipe for a gripping and EEK inducing tale.

You gotta love Mark Edwards style - when you think he has wrung out every drop of horror and emotion from the situation he has written so cleverly about, he manages to give it another little squeeze right at the end and produce a few more juicy drops which send a final shiver down the spine.

Author Mark Edwards.

This book couldn't have come at a more appropriate time as I am in the process of launching my own little private writers and readers retreat by offering my lovely private chalet in Spain to rent for anyone needing a few days or a week retreating to the sun. Read about it here I can guarantee it won't be as exciting as the one in Marks book but will actually be a quiet and tranquil getaway spot for you to read and write.

The Blurb

A missing child. A desperate mother. And a house full of secrets.

Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home. But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.

Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat. One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily. But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.

When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…

What really happened that day by the river? Why was Lily never found? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

From the bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Magpies comes his most terrifying novel yet.

Order your copy now from Amazon.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Blog Tour and my review for The Old You by Louise Voss

Blog Tour and my review for The Old You by Louise Voss.

Today I am part of the buzzing blog tour for the fab twistiness that is the latest thriller from Louise Voss.

My Review

“Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive” …

There is a whole load of deception within these pages and to find out who is deceiving who and why, you’ll have to read it. I just read it and it blew my socks clean off.

If you like your books to mess with your mind then this will fit the bill.

The Old You begins quite gently with a dreadfully sad subject, the early onset of dementia and as we watch Lynn come to terms with her husbands sudden and rapid decline into senility it seems as though this is going to be a heart-breaking family drama, which it is …. in a way, however it is also Domestic Noir with a capital N, at its very darkest, filled with secrets and lies and OMG moments. Psychologically it’s mind blowing and so damned cunning it’s a joy to read.

Lynn married Ed ten years ago when they fell head over heels for each other despite him being older than her and she has built the perfect scene of domestic bliss, surrounded by a lovely group of friends, a stepson she eventually came to look upon as her own. She’s recently started a nice new job which suits her down to the ground and everything has been going so well. But that’s all about to change and not only because of Ed’s encroaching illness causing him to slip into periods of forgetfulness that make her scared to leave him alone.

Amidst coping with him behaving increasingly strangely, embarrassingly and occasionally violently, she feels there is someone watching her, things which cannot be easily explained are happening and she just wishes she could have the old Ed back together with their old life.

But that is NOT going to happen.

When a face from the past shows up bringing old memories of a past which has been carefully kept under wraps, things begin to unravel for Lynn and the sudden death of a close friend seems to be the final straw which will have her running screaming from her life. But she has to be the strong one, after all she has experience of dealing with change, she can cope with anything … or can she? Perhaps it’s not just Ed who is losing the plot.

This is brilliantly written with so many red herrings and about turns you’d think it would be confusing to read but the author is so highly skilled the transitions are seamless and the story flows so smoothly that every - single – little – bump, every gear change, on this journey jolted me out of my seat.

Reading it is like snoozing gently on a long car journey and suddenly waking up to find the car has left the road and is hurtling down a rocky mountain and all you can do is hold tight and wait for the impact! And when it comes, boy will you know about it!

Tense, scary and devious The Old You is out now – what are you waiting for?

You can buy a copy from Amazon and other great booksellers

The Blurb

Nail-bitingly modern domestic noir
A tense, Hitchcockian psychological thriller

Louise Voss returns with her darkest, most chilling, novel yet…

Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together. Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words. As some memories are forgotten, others, long buried, begin to surface … and Lynn’s perfect world begins to crumble. 

But is it Ed’s mind playing tricks, or hers…?

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Review - the Silence of knowing - Jenny Jackson

The Silence of Knowing by Jenny Jackson is a novella so its a quick and easy read.

I rattled through it in an evening and it kept me entertained as it's unusual in style and exciting in content. Set in the 1950s it is narrated by 11 year old Josie who is unable to speak, having been born with no vocal chords.

Because of this she communicates mainly by writing things down which leads her to have a vivid imagination and be very observant. Her twin brother Mitch and she don't know the identity of their father and its their dream to find him and they weave a mystery about his absence in their lives believing him to have been some kind of spy in the recent world war 2.

When a new teacher arrives suddenly at their school and reveals that his surname matches their names and he is an American they become convinced that he is their long lost Dad but soon events point to even greater mysetries surrounding him.

But meddling and prying soon get them and a small group of school pals in a few sticky situations. It sounds like a kids story but the content is aimed at the more adult reader, although it would suit any age.

This Famous Five style adventure story is great for grown ups who fancy revisiting their past who, like me, grew up reading Enid Blytons books and enjoys reminiscing about the fairly recent past, seen from a childs point of view.

A jolly good few hours entertainment, I can recommend this when you don't want anything too demanding and just need to be entertained by a riveting tale a little longer than a short story but not too long.

Get a copy for your kindle or in paperback now on Amazon

The Blurb

1952 - a small Kentish village seemingly little affected by the war years. 11-year-old Josie, dumb from birth and who communicates through her writing, is on the verge of puberty and life in the wider world. It is a time of childhood innocence. She and her twin brother, Mitch, are thrilled when an American teacher arrives at their village school, suspecting him of being their long-lost father. Together with their two best friends they set about collecting evidence for their suspicions but soon find themselves embroiled in deeper, darker secrets which land Josie in a life-threatening situation. As childhood recedes and mature thought begins to surface, Josie, who tells the tale, realises that she is not the only one who has been unable to speak.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Blog Tour and Review - Ghost by Helen Grant

I'm delighted to be taking part in the Blog Tour for the new novel by Helen Grant - entitled Ghost it has all the requisite elements of a rather gothic ghost story - with a unique difference.

The cover's lovely - so simple and clean yet really eye catching with that little key - Just who does it belong to?

My review:

Ghost is an eerie and haunting ghost story in the classic setting of a deserted remote old Gothic country mansion in the wilds of Scotland but the “ghost” within is not your typical spectre.

I loved this haunting and mesmerizing tale with a few terribly tantalizing twists along the way. It sucked me in right from the start as everything is just a little strange and spooky. Be prepared for some surprises in the pages which kept me reading this completely gripping, subtle yet fast paced book ramps up the tension beautifully with nail biting precision.

Part love story, part coming of age, this eerie book will have you hearing noises in the night and glimpsing shadows from the corner of your eye. If it all seems a little weird and wonderful - roll with it, you don't want to miss the nail biting conclusion.

Within the pages are all the elements of a memorable ghost story

The typical haunted house....
From the dense Scottish forest surrounding Langlands Hall you wouldn’t even know it was occupied. Rumours that it is haunted keep folk at bay. Dusty, ramshackle and huge it nestles in the woods, waiting for something or someone to give it the kiss of life.

But someone does live there.

The characters....
Old Rose McAndrew resides within with only her 17 year old grand-daughter Augusta for company. Augusta knows she can never leave the house or there will be dreadful consequences and she trusts her Gran who is the only other person Augusta ever sees or speaks to and she knows everything her Gran does is always for her own safety. She knows the second world war is raging outside, though the pair are safe from it here. But change is in the air ….

One day part of the roof is damaged and strangers have to be invited to Langlands Hall to make urgent repairs. Whilst the builders are present Rose insists that Augusta must hide and not be seen and she locks her in the attic so she will never be discovered.

The romance.....
Watching through the window the young woman sees that one of the builders is not much older than she is, he’s a handsome young lad and she overhears him being called Tom. She is entranced with the idea of making some small advance towards him.

Can she stay hidden forever or will the world come crumbling down if she does contact him? She is about to find out.

The mystery ......
One day Rose heads off in her old car for groceries as she regularly does, but this time she doesn’t return. How will Augusta manage alone? As she discovers nothing in her closeted life is quite what she had supposed it to be, secrets come tumbling from behind locked doors. Will her tenuous contact with Tom be her salvation or her downfall?

This is a coming of age story with a difference, a haunting ghost story which isn’t perfect for skeptics who don't like the supernatural (yeah really), a twisty mystery that keeps you on the edge of your seat, a whole bunch of secrets and lies, a tale of the past and the present meeting and above all a tender romance of doomed love and hidden family secrets. Enter the hidden world of Ghost if you dare.

Twisty, haunting and utterly compelling reading whether you’re 17 or 70.

The Blurb

Langlands House is haunted, but not by the ghost you think.

Augusta McAndrew lives on a remote Scottish estate with her grandmother, Rose. For her own safety, she hides from outsiders, as she has done her entire life. Visitors are few and far between - everyone knows that Langlands House is haunted.

One day Rose goes out and never returns, leaving Augusta utterly alone. Then Tom McAllister arrives - good-looking and fascinating, but dangerous. What he has to tell her could tear her whole world apart.

As Tom and Augusta become ever closer, they must face the question: is love enough to overcome the ghosts of the past?

In the end, Langlands House and its inhabitants hold more secrets than they did in the beginning...

The Author: Helen Grant

Helen was born in London in 1964. She showed an early leaning towards the arts, having been told off for writing stories under the desk in maths lessons at school.

Helen went on to read Classics at St. Hugh's College, Oxford, and then worked in marketing for ten years to fund her love of travelling. Her two most memorable travelling days were the one spent exploring Damascus in Syria and the day she went to the Raj Mandir cinema in Jaipur to see the romantic blockbuster Beta.

In 2001, she and her family moved to Bad Münstereifel in Germany. It was exploring the legends of this beautiful old town that inspired her to write her first novel, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, which is set there.

Helen now lives in Scotland with her husband, her two children and her two cats.

Visit her website

Follow her on Twitter @helengrantsays

Purchase Ghost from Amazon

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Blog tour and guest post - The Black Earth

Today I join the blog tour for The Black Earth by Philip Kazan.

Look at the beautiful cover doesn't it just make you want to know who the people are and what is happening in their lives? well you can find out by reading this book. I still have that to look forward to but as the book is set in Greece I am really looking forward to reading it this summer.

Here is a post The author, Philp wrote for my blog when I asked what led him to write his latest novel:

Guest Post: by Philip Kazan

The Path to The Black Earth

My latest novel, The Black Earth, is my seventh, but strangely enough it was the thing I began when I first decided to see whether I could write, about twenty years ago. 

My wife and I had moved into my grandmother’s old house in West London, which had been neglected since her death a decade earlier. It was a temporary arrangement: we were living there rent-free in return for renovating the place, so the two of us were knocking around in this enormous late-Victorian red brick house in Ealing, ripping up carpets, sanding floorboards, stripping paint from cast iron fireplaces. 

It was an odd time for me: Tara and I had recently moved back from New York and got married. I’d hit one of those periods of flux in my professional life (I’m just saying that for effect: I’ve never had what most reasonable people understand as a professional life) and was temping and working as a freelance editor, doing some gardening, writing blurbs and spending a lot of time alone in my grandmother’s old house, which held some very powerful memories.

My grandmother, Andromache, had come to England in the early 1920s to marry a man she’d never met. Arranged marriages were still common in Greece in those days, and so Andromache was put on a boat in Thessaloniki and sent to Southampton, where she was met by my grandfather and his two brothers. “I hope he’s the tall one,” she thought, when she saw them on the quayside. He was the short one. Andromache - always Yaya to me - never adjusted to London, though she lived there for nearly 70 years. Her home was a whole different country to me, a boy growing up in deeply rural Devon, with a very British father and a Greek mother. Her kitchen smelled of exotic things. There were icons on the wall, and a hand-tinted photograph of Kastoria, the lakeside town in the far north of Greece where she had been born. She taught me to cook, and I listened to her tell the stories of her childhood, and of her family - my family. I wish I’d listened more carefully.

The house had kept barely anything of Yaya’s presence as a palpable thing. It had been rented out, mistreated, abandoned, and now we were ripping it to bits and reassembling it. But still, I felt very close to her. All the stories I’d never quite paid attention to were still there, lurking in corners, tugging at my sleeve with the fragment of Macedonian embroidery I found in a cupboard, with the stack of old letters with pre-war Greek stamps in a drawer in the cellar. Up until then I’d spent my career, such as it was, in the publishing industry but I’d always wanted to write something myself. One day one of my uncles lent me a book, in Greek, about the Macedonian Struggle of the 1900s. I couldn’t read it but I suddenly remembered Yaya’s stories. How her father and her uncles had fought the Turks and the Bulgarians. How wolves had run through the streets of Kastoria on winter nights. 

We’d just bought our first computer, a huge Gateway PC (the one with the cow-print box), and I found that I quite liked typing on it. So one day I sat down and began to write about Kastoria. About wolves, and Turkish occupiers, and anything else I could pull out of the atmosphere in that partly colonised, partly haunted house. I had the basic bones of the story: an Englishman and a Geek woman, and their pasts, separate and combined. I wanted to write about memory, and the Greek diaspora, and about being someone with a foot in two worlds, and also with a foot in neither. There was a war, and exile, and…

I didn’t get any further than that. The story that I thought I had worked out, suddenly became far more complicated than I could handle. I wasn’t a writer yet. I had no idea about plotting, or about self-control. My Greek book burned itself out in about a fortnight. I dropped the whole thing, spent another fortnight attacking fireplaces with a blowtorch and a wire brush, then went back to the Gateway. I didn’t have a plot now, I just had a person, a feeling, and the Medieval history degree that everybody had said would be completely useless. My person turned out to be, not a 19th Century Greek freedom fighter, but a 13th Century novice monk. In a few days I had a chapter, then two, then three. We moved back to America soon after that, but I kept writing and Relics became my first published book. I wrote another three books about Brother Petroc, then turned to Renaissance Italy.

I came back to writing about Greece by accident, almost. Back in England, I’d decided to write about the bohemian art scene in Soho in the years on either side of World War Two and started fleshing out a plot. I’d been talking to my mother, who had been part of the scene in the 1950s, about the people she’d known. Somehow I decided that there needed to be a Greek character in the book. Then my mother told me about a cousin of hers who had survived the Smyrna Catastrophe of 1922, been orphaned, lost everything, had ended up in America, and had come to visit my grandparents after the war. I’d been listening to a lot of Greek music and one day I heard a song called Gazeli Neva Sabah, sung in 1934 by a woman from Smyrna, Rita Abatzi, who had become a refugee in Athens. Something in her voice - some quality of desperation, of loss - carried through the scratchy recording. I abandoned Soho and found that, finally, I was in touch with the ghosts in my grandmother’s house. It wasn’t the story I had set out to tell twenty years ago, but then again, perhaps it was the story the ghosts wanted me to tell.

My thanks to Anne Cater at Random things tours for arranging and inviting on the Blog Tour.

If you'd like to read more about the book here is the blurb:

1922. When the Turkish Army occupies Smyrna, Zoë Haggitiris escapes with her family, only to lose everything. Alone in a sea of desperate strangers, her life is touched, for a moment, by a young English boy, Tom Collyer, also lost, before the compassion of a stranger leads her into a new life. Years later when war breaks out, Tom finds himself in Greece and in the chaos of the British retreat, fate will lead him back to Zoë. But he will discover that the war will not end so easily for either of them.

You can find a copy for your kindle here on Amazon and at all good bookshops

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Review - The Lido by Libby Page - a feel good book

What an absolute delight this book was to read. It's a real feelgood book about loneliness, friendship and people, it has a real sense of place and community.

Set in Brixton, London it centres on a bunch of random and disparate people who are soehow drawn together by a sense of purpose and that reason is to save a Lido swimming pool from being closed down. We must all have come across something like this over recent years. A local council struggling for funds sells off a public building, maybe a library, a swimming baths or a community centre, we complain, we mutter and we possibly sign a petition to try and help save it, but how many of actually take action?

Rosemary and Kate do just that.

The Lido has been part of Rosemarys life for over 80 years, she swam there as a child, met her husband there and spent all of her married life using it, looking out at it from the window of her flat.

Kate is a junior journalist, she lacks confidence and suffers panic attacks, but when she is asked by her boss to write an article about the imminent closure of the local Lido pool, something makes her want to get involved. As this interest is born it begins to change her life in subtle little ways. She finally has a sense of purpose, she begins to make friends and as she gets more and more involved we feel her grow and change.

The main story is of the saving of a place which is important to many people. The real thread which holds it together is that of an unlikely friendship between an 86 year old woman and the young writer, 60 years her junior.

Even if, like me you're not a keen swimmer you won't fail to want the campaign to save the lido to succeed especially when in a series of flashbacks and lovely reminiscences we discover just how much of a part it has played in Rosemarys past.

The cast are wonderful, the story is completely absorbing and full of joy and warmth and love. It's absolutely, without question, the most perfect summer read imaginable and I hope you adore it as much as I did.

The Blurb

A tender, joyous debut novel about a cub reporter and her eighty-six-year-old subject—and the unlikely and life-changing friendship that develops between them.

Kate is a twenty-six-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. The lido has been a cornerstone in nearly every part of Rosemary’s life.

But when a local developer attempts to buy the lido for a posh new apartment complex, Rosemary’s fond memories and sense of community are under threat.

As Kate dives deeper into the lido’s history—with the help of a charming photographer—she pieces together a portrait of the pool, and a portrait of a singular woman, Rosemary. What begins as a simple local interest story for Kate soon blossoms into a beautiful friendship that provides sustenance to both women as they galvanize the community to fight the lido’s closure. Meanwhile, Rosemary slowly, finally, begins to open up to Kate, transforming them both in ways they never knew possible.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Blog Tour - The Man on the middle floor - Elizabeth S. Moore

Today I am part of the Blog Tour for The Man on the Middle Floor by Elizabeth S Moore, I was provided with a copy of this intriguing new novel by @RedDoorBooks to read and share my thoughts.

My Review

Review – The Man on the Middle floor Elizabeth S Moore
The man on the middle floor is a dark and rather disturbing novel about several dysfunctional people who live in flats on the 3 floors of a converted London townhouse who become unwittingly involved in a spate of deaths which occur close by.

Although the subject matter is dissimilar the writing style reminded me rather of early Hilary Mantel in particular her novel Beyond black. Although there is no hint of the supernatural in this tale of murder and mayhem and folk who just don’t fit the mould, there is the same sense of bleakness and desperation and cleverly constructed characters, shaped by their own pasts.

The Victorian townhouse in question, overlooks a park and each floor has a lone, single occupant, each ensconced in their own little world, practically unaware of the other residents apart from the odd door slamming or a glimpse through the window as people come and go.

On the ground floor is Karen, middle aged, divorced Mother of 3, devoted to her career as a medical researcher writing a paper on people with autism and aspergers she is sure will change the world. She puts her work before everyone, her colleagues, her family, her friends and neighbours and even herself. But is she absorbed and dedicated as she lurches from mishap to crisis, or so obsessed she misses what’s going on right under her own nose?

On the middle floor is Nick, a young man unused to living alone yet desperately seeking solitude. He battles his inner demons and his autism means he keeps everyone at bay, creating a haven of order and trying to live by the rules he struggles to make sense of. He wants to fit in but can he?

Up on the top floor lives Tam, a recently retired police officer, he is lonely and feels useless without the job he has called his life for so long. He seeks solace at the bottom of a whisky bottle but can he find what is missing from his life in the arms of a passionate woman?

Three individuals, 3 separate lives playing out within a small space. Unsurprisingly eventually all three characters paths cross. Will they be each others salvation or damnation?
I found this book much darker than I expected, there is a distinctly distasteful aspect and the fact that a cute kitten accompanies a very dead young woman on the admittedly very intriguing and eyecatching book cover should have warned me that all was not going to go well within these pages. Yet I quickly became engrossed in the events and it made for a very entertaining and thought provoking read.

There is a character whom the author possibly intended the reader to feel some kind of sympathy for, but I didn’t, I disliked them intensely, as their actions appalled me. But it is a book about failed relationships, disorder and discontinuity which made it difficult to relate to any of the deeply flawed characters so that shouldn’t surprise me.

There is a lot of dark humour in the morbid scenes which play out and a grim reminder that nobody is quite what they seem to be on the surface, nor how they perceive themselves.

Something about the book reminded me somewhat of Hilary Mantel's early work - Beyond Black with a similar feel to the writing and the same darkness buried in everyday lives.

A very well written absorbing novel which entertained throughout, kept me reading and ended up leaving quite an impression on me. What more can one ask of a book?

The Blurb

Lionel Shriver meets Mark Haddon in this break-out debut.

Despite living in the same three-flat house in the suburbs of London, the residents are strangers to one another. 
The bottom floor is home to Tam, a recent ex-cop who spends his days drowning his sorrows in whisky. 
On the middle floor is Nick, a young man with Asperger's who likes to stick to his schedules and routines. 
The top floor belongs to Karen, a doctor and researcher who has spent her life trying to understand the rising rates of autism. 
They have lived their lives separately, until now, when an unsolved murder and the man on the middle floor connect them all together. 
Told from three points of view, The Man on the Middle Floor is about disconnection in all its forms; sexual, physical, parental and emotional. 
It questions whether society is meeting the needs of the fast growing autistic section of society, or exacerbating it.

Thought-provoking and thrilling, The Man on the Middle Floor will leave readers talking. 

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Review - The Fear C.L. Taylor

My Review

A really exciting roller coaster read, with 3 wonderful psychologically flawed and desperate women as lead characters and one rather vile man, who almost had me fooled into having some sympathy for him at the beginning but whom I soon learnt to loathe and despise as he revealed his true colours and I joined in with wishing he'd get his come-upppance.

C.L. Taylor writes mind numbingly realistic - "Oh My God thank heavens that isn't happening to me" scenarios, with believable and relatable characters.

They say you never forget your first love - well Lou has never forgotten hers!!

The subject matter is both distasteful yet topical. The grooming of young girls by an older man in a position of trust, who abuses that trust and ruins lives.

That man is Mike Hughes, a teacher, a mature married man. Hardly surprising that young impressionable girls look up to him, hero worship him, fall in love with him. But it's how he misuses that innocent love to his own evil ends that makes this a twisty, oppressive and horrifying thriller.

It's the fact that nearly 20 years after he tried to abduct 13 year old Lou Wansworth, their paths cross again. The experience has left its scars on Lou and she still finds it hard to trust and build a real relationship with a man.

For almost 20 years her hurt has festered and she is about to seek retribution when she discovers the same man who ruined her life appears to be doing exactly the same thing all over again, this vile predator is grooming another lonely and vulnerable young woman. Well she's not about to sit by and let it happen to someone else.

We hear 3 points of view, that of Lou, then Chloe the newest young victim and then there is Wendy, obviously a rather unhinged woman who is to become the 3rd player in this nail biting drama.

I couldn't put my copy from Netgalley down, its terribly scary and scarily thrilling. A very entertaining and shiver inducing psychological thriller.

The Blurb

When Lou Wandsworth ran away to France with her teacher Mike Hughes, she thought he was the love of her life. But Mike wasn’t what he seemed and he left her life in pieces.

Now 32, Lou discovers that he is involved with teenager Chloe Meadows. Determined to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, she returns home to confront him for the damage he’s caused.

But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as Lou tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that she could once again become his prey…

The million copy Sunday Times bestseller returns with a taut, compelling psychological thriller that will have you glued to the edge of your seat.

Available from Amazon and all good booksellers now.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Blog Tour and Review - The Sapphire Widow - Dinah Jefferies

Blog Tour - The Sapphire Widow by Dinah Jefferies

It's great to be  part of the blog tour for another gorgeous historical title by the delightful Dinah Jefferies.

The cover is absolutely gorgeous - but what about the story? Read on for my own thoughts about this luscious new book set in 1930s Ceylon.

My Review

Dinah Jefferies has become my go-to author for sheer indulgent escapism. With all her books you know in advance exactly what you’re going to get:
A stunning location beautifully described so well you can feel the heat and smell the spices and a haunting love story with a realistic and likeable heroine.
Intricately researched details and a gripping historical read with a timeless quality which blends factual knowledge with a rich and vivid imagination to create a luscious book to transport the reader away from everyday humdrum life.

This latest offering is a cornucopia of glittering gems, garnished with pungent spices and wrapped in a silken bow of emotions.

In the Sapphire widow the lush location is 1930’s Colonial Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) resonant with the fragrance of cinnamon and tea. The gentle and compassionate heroine is Louisa, a young British woman who’s new life in Ceylon with her husband who turns out to be not quite the man she was hoping he’d be, is soon to be blown apart. It would be remiss of me not to mention the rugged and enigmatic Leo, as different as chalk is to cheese from her suave husband Elliott.

Dinahs life, which seems so promising at the start, is set to become studded with heartbreak and distress as she suffers miscarriage after miscarriage, begins to have doubts about her husband and is then widowed leaving many mysteries, which to overcome her losses she throws herself into uncovering but what she discovers may throw her whole world into complete disarray.

The historical events, painstakingly researched, include Spice trading and plantation life, the gemstone industry and the book with its themes of marital disharmony, loss and secrets, is filled with hidden pasts, lies, passion and opulent descriptions.

Lavish and descriptive and richly evocative, yet never trashy or light and fluffy, this epic romantic saga by one of my favourite authors swept me away on a spice fragranced, colourful magic carpet to experience life as an ex-pat in a foreign country both alien and familiar, with a story which is both heartbreaking and uplifting.

Dinah Jefferies was born in Malaysia and her love for the Orient shines through her writing.

The Sapphire Widow is a wonderful read. Parts were pretty difficult for me, especially when Louisa suffers repeated, heartbreaking miscarriages, loss is a theme which runs throughout the book and is handled with sensitivity by the author, yet still tugs at the heart.

I can recommend this enchanting book to anyone who has already discovered Dinah Jefferies work, perhaps when the Tea Planters Wife was recommended by Richard and Judy’s book club.

For those readers who haven’t read her work yet (and I have to ask - why not??) It’s a great starting point.

For more about the story I’ll leave you to read it. Newly published it's available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

The Blurb

A sweeping, breath-taking story of love and betrayal from the Number One Sunday Times bestselling author of The Tea Planter's Wife

Ceylon, 1935. Louisa Reeve, the daughter of a successful British gem trader, and her husband Elliot, a charming, thrill-seeking businessman, seem like the couple who have it all. Except what they long for more than anything: a child.

While Louisa struggles with miscarriages, Elliot is increasingly absent, spending much of his time at a nearby cinnamon plantation, overlooking the Indian ocean. After his sudden death, Louisa is left alone to solve the mystery he left behind. Revisiting the plantation at Cinnamon Hills, she finds herself unexpectedly drawn towards the owner Leo, a rugged outdoors man with a chequered past. The plantation casts a spell, but all is not as it seems. And when Elliot's shocking betrayal is revealed, Louisa has only Leo to turn to...

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Blog Blitz - Manipulated lives H A Leuschel

Last but not least today I am the final person to take part in the 3 day blog blitz for the manipulated lives series by H A Leuschel.

A series of 5 novellas highlighting how easy it is to be manipulated or indeed to become a manipulator.

Five stories – Five Lives

Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?

Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim.

In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.

I'm delighted to Welcome Helene to my blog:

Hello and thank you very much for inviting me to ‘Beadyjansbooks’!

There are many fantastic publications out there explaining narcissistic personality disorders, as well as self-help books and insightful websites that offer advice and support. What I wished to achieve with my fives stories in ‘Manipulated Lives’ is to make readers think about the idea that nothing is ever what it seems. Our capacity to interpret fellow human beings may be successful most of the times and helps us navigate through social life yet, when we are in the presence of a manipulative individual with a perversion, it’s a very different ballgame.

 Most manipulators are very shrewd, and research shows that it’s all too easy for a person to fall under their subtle control, with many victims not even realising this.
Each of the five fictional stories aim to depict how important awareness in this area has become and they are also written to engage in a compelling way.  Also, after witnessing someone close be abused, or even being a victim of abuse themselves, some people may find it consoling to read about fictional characters who have gone through and survived comparable experiences, whereas other readers may find it informative as well as thought-provoking.

In the fourth novella of my anthology ‘Manipulated Lives’ called ‘The Narcissist’, the reader meets the person himself - the manipulator in denial despite his incarceration and the evidence of the dark past that haunts him but which he refuses to endorse.

Five stories - Five Lives
Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?

Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public - tricks to snare their prey - but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim.

In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well-balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is Lisa, who has to face a parent's biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.

I seem to have lost all sense of time because the nurse is already back and holding my neck, while I struggle to lift my head towards the new glass of water. Is there something floating in it? My eyes strain to focus on the slight mist that is clouding my drink. They are poisoning me, I think, but my thirst is stronger than I, and I drink greedily. The freshness of the water lining the dry walls of my mouth and running down my parched throat is the best feeling I can remember having for a while. But keeping me company are painful thoughts, pulling me to and fro without making sense. I give a small nod as I lick my thin, chapped lips, trying to catch every remaining droplet of water, and sink back into my pillow, exhausted. A whiff of stale body odour reaches my nostrils. Argh. What kind of a place is this where I am simply left to rot?
The image of a spacious bedroom comes to my mind. The carpets are thick and my bare feet dig into the welcoming softness. The bathroom is heated, and the towel I pull off the rail to dry my wet hair is warm and soft. Only a 5-star-hotel can provide this kind of ostentatious comfort, a luxury they make you believe you deserve. I am addicted to being treated with such opulence. My mind has worked so hard to find a way to keep coming back to this haven. The food is layered delicately on porcelain dishes when I come down to the breakfast buffet. I raise my hand arrogantly to one of the waiters and order him to serve fresh coffee. The waiter says, ‘Certainly, with pleasure, sir’. This is the way I should be treated.
With a sigh, I let go of the surrounding white walls and close my eyes, suddenly convinced that the hospital room must surely be part of a bad dream, one I need to avoid at all cost.

 ‘Good morning. How are you?’
I don’t remember hearing or, for that matter, seeing the lady now sitting next to me enter the room. She looks to be in her mid-forties and is dressed in black trousers and a buttoned-up, light pink blouse. She is wearing no jewellery, but a soft smile is etched on a small mouth, and her eyes are a mix of brown and green, gentle but with a gleam of determination.
‘Another letter has arrived for you. Would you like me to read it?’
First encounters shape the impression we have of a person and can have an impact on how we predict and interpret them, I remember reading somewhere, a long time ago. I used to be good at that, excellent really. But now everything’s too foggy and vague to make any sense. The lady sitting cross-legged next to me on an uncomfortable-looking plastic chair rings a bell, somewhere in the depth of my memory, but not more than that.

Book Purchase Link:

About the Author
Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.

Author Links

About H.A. Leuschel

Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.

Follow H.A. Leuschel


Sunday, 11 March 2018

Book Review - Walls of Silence Ruth Wade - twisty historical psychological thriller

My Review

Oh My Goodness!

This book packs a powerful punch that smacked me in the gut, there's a real shocker of a twist that I really didn't anticipate until just a chapter or two before it is to be revealed I began to have a nauseous sense that there was something coming that I hadn't been expecting .... then wham!

But I digress, it's hardly surprising that my thoughts are a little muddled having just spent several days locked in the mind of a woman incarcerated in a lunatic asylum.

This woman is Edith Potter, daughter of the renowned Dr Potter leader in the field of examining the psychological impact of shell shock following the first world war.

Spinster Edith lives alone, since her father was murdered by an unknown intruder, no wonder she is jumpy and nervous living in the very house where he was killed.

It's clear from the onset that Ediths mind is a little disturbed, she has secrets and has built a wall to keep them away, but this is to become her undoing and one day she flips completely and ends up an inmate in a cruel and uncaring mental asylum where she is catatonic and unresponsive.

In comes Dr Stephen Maynard, young and ambitious he hears of Edith and her plight and decides she will be the perfect subject for him to test his theories using the new-fangled psychoanalysis to try and help her. But is he about to unleash more than he can cope with? As he starts to break down the walls that surround Edith and she begins to respond we realize that she is harbouring a few terrible secrets which she needs to keep buried at all costs.

There is quite a lot of detail about psychoanalysis as we delve inside the mind of this deeply disturbed yet very intelligent woman and at several points throughout the book I really thought it was me that was going inasne, so deeply does the author make us feel the despair and confusion of a deeply damaged psyche.

The story is rather disjointed but this all adds to the feel of unease, uncertainty and a terrible sense of madness. When I discovered the final secret she is keeping hidden, it both shocked and saddened me. It's a real twist I wasn't expecting, though the clues and hints are there.

This is a thoroughly great historical look at mental health issues and a twisty psychological thriller combined. It is dark and scary and despite the despair I loved it. Highly recommended.

The Blurb:

The patient has a story that isn’t told and which no one knows of. It is the secret, the rock against which he is shattered. Carl Jung

The Great War is over but for Edith Potter an equally devastating conflict is about to begin. 

She is unhinged by a secret so terrible her conscious mind doesn’t acknowledge it.

It is 1927 and Dr Stephen Maynard is using the new science of psychoanalysis to restore her sanity.

From his first meeting with her in the lunatic asylum, Dr Stephen Maynard is determined to bring her back to reality. During the long challenge, her disturbed behaviour forces him to confront his limitations – already severely stretched by the presence of someone prepared to use whatever weapons they can to ensure she maintains her silence.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Blog Tour and Review - Among the Branded - Linda Smolkin

Among the Branded – Linda Smolkin

Today I am taking part in the Blog Tour for the new debut novel by Linda Smolkin, arranged by RandomthingsTours.

My Review:

Among the Branded is a very modern and contemporary novel with historical connections to the fairly recent past.

In it, we meet Stephanie, a 40 something Mum who is a dedicated career woman juggling family life. This busy art director is planning a family day out, and ends up spending a day out at a world war 2 re-enactment day. Whilst there, she chances on a bundle of old letters she can’t resist buying. Little does she know they are going to draw her in completely and possibly even put her hard earned career in jeopardy. Even though time is one thing she doesn’t really have to spare she can’t resist a mystery to get her teeth into. These faded letters contain a real puzzle to solve at the same time as fostering an unlikely friendship.

One of the letters really connects with her, it’s from a desperate young mother who is imprisoned in a German concentration camp, who is writing to try and save her young son’s life. Her little boy is called Isadore, shortened to Izzy and Steph eventually decides to seek him out. 

Her research leads her to a sprightly 75 year old man she is instantly drawn to and with whom she develops a strong bond of friendship when she takes on the task of trying to re-unite him with the person who eventually did save him from the concentration camps. She plans to hopefully discover what happened to his parents who were last heard of headed towards the dreaded Auschwitz, after all this time.

What sounds as though it could make for grim and dark reading is, in the most part, actually quite light and refreshing, There’s a strong vein of humour running through the book, and it will undoubtedly appeal to fans of chick lit and contemporary womens fiction as well as lovers of WW2 history. 

The writing style does remind me very much of the books I’ve read by Liane Moriarty where a very dark subject is handled with such charm that it makes for a light and amusing book which nevertheless engaged my emotions and gave me much to think about. 

With it's themes of friendship, moral dilemmas and career choices it resonates with every day life for a career woman of the noughties as well as painting memories of the awful historical events which led to the incarceration of thousands of innocent people in the terrible war to end all wars WW2.

With a mystery at heart, and friendship at the centre of the story it should have wide appeal. 

The Author.

Linda Smolkin always wanted to be a writer—ever since she saw her first TV commercial and wondered how to pen those clever ads. 
She got her degree in journalism and became a copywriter. Linda landed a job at an ad agency, where she worked for several years before joining the nonprofit world. She's currently working on her second novel, which will be released in Spring 2018. When not in front of the computer, she's behind the drums (slightly) annoying her husband, son, and their 70-pound dog. 
For more information, visit her website at and follow her on Twitter @lindasmolkin and Facebook @AuthorLindaSmolkin.

The Blurb:

What if a 70-year-old letter from World War II changed the course of your life?

While attending Valor of the ’40s, art director Stephanie Britain stumbles upon a flea market selling letters from the war. She buys a handful, hoping they’ll inspire the redesign for a client’s website at her branding and design firm. She’s at first drawn by the lost art of penmanship, but soon discovers a hidden treasure nestled inside declarations of love from homesick soldiers. 

Stephanie enlists a coworker to translate one and realizes it’s not a love letter after all. When a shocking discovery about a client causes Stephanie to question her principles and dedication to her firm’s business, she’s forced to make a difficult decision—one that could give her peace of mind, yet ruin her career in the process.

Contemporary fiction with a historical touch, AMONG THE BRANDED explores family life, an unexpected friendship, and moral conflicts that make us wonder what’s more important: our livelihood or our beliefs. 

This moving debut novel by Linda Smolkin is a great addition for readers who enjoy books by Jodi Picoult, Kristin Hannah, and Liane Moriarty. 

Monday, 5 March 2018

BLOG TOUR Tell No lies by Lisa Hartley

BLOG TOUR for Tell No Lies by Lisa Hartley

Hello, pull up a chair and join me on the blog tour for the tense new thriller Tell No lies from Canelo books.

The Author has kindly provided this fascinating insight about her thoughts when asked, who IS your favourite character from all the ones you've created?

I hadn’t really considered whether or not I had a favourite amongst my characters. 

When I began to think about it, it felt a little strange, almost like considering which of your children was your favourite. It seemed off limits. All of the characters in a book have their part to play, otherwise they wouldn’t be there. Can one be more important than another? Probably. The protagonist seems an obvious choice, but is the main character always the most likable? The person you’d want by your side if you were in trouble? Not necessarily.

Still, I would guess most authors would say their main character is their favourite. They’re usually the person you know the best, the one whose story you’re telling. If you write a series of books, your main character is the one whose life you’re watching play out. 

Even so, they might not be your favourite. 

My protagonist is Detective Caelan Small. TELL NO LIES is the sequel to ASK NO Questions, the book in which Caelan was introduced. As an undercover police officer, Caelan is, by necessity, something of a chameleon. I thought about the sort of person who would be drawn to working undercover, and the traits and attributes a woman who spent much of her working life pretending to be someone else would need to have. I thought she would be brave, resourceful, quick thinking. Confident. She would need nerves of steel.

In the first book, Caelan is caught up in the aftermath of a case that was never really solved. Then people connected to that investigation begin to die, and Caelan realises she has been fooled, lead to believe certain things which weren’t true. In TELL NO LIES, as well as telling a new story, I wanted to begin to explore how these events have impacted on Caelan, both personally and professionally. How would pretending to be someone else affect a person? What about their relationships with their family, with their friends? What about romantic relationships? How could you fall in love with someone who could never tell you the truth about who they were, where they were going, or what they were doing?

Above all, I wanted to get inside Caelan’s head and see how she would cope with all of this. Caelan is probably my favourite character because I feel I’m beginning to know her so well. She’s brave, loyal, and occasionally frustrating, both to the reader and to her colleagues. She makes mistakes, and sometimes she doesn’t listen. In TELL NO LIES, she goes above and beyond what she has been initially instructed to do, and has to face the consequences.

I also wanted to take the reader undercover with Caelan, to stand beside her as she prepares to to walk into a situation she knows might become deadly. She will be alone and unarmed. I wanted to think about the emotions coursing through her in that moment. The adrenalin, the fear, the beginnings of regret? How would she feel? How would you feel?

Thankyou Lisa, Caelan sounds a complex and intriguing woman and I'm sure my blog readers are looking forward to meeting her already.

Here's the Book Blurb to whet your appetite:

Now they’re coming after Caelan’s team…

A tortured body is found in a basement. Drug dealing and people smuggling is on the rise. Then police start going missing.

There seems to be no connection between the crimes, but Detective Caelan Small senses something isn’t right.
Plunged into a new investigation, lives are on the line. And in the web of gangs, brothels and nerve-shattering undercover work, Caelan must get to the truth – or be killed trying.
And then there’s Nicky...

Utterly gripping, written with searing tension and remarkable dexterity, Tell No Lies is a blistering crime novel for fans of Angela Marsons, Rebecca Bradley and Faith Martin. 

Links to Book:
Author Bio: 

Lisa Hartley lives with her partner, son, two dogs and several cats. She graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Studies, then had a variety of jobs but kept writing in her spare time. She is currently working on the next DS Catherine Bishop novel, as well as a new series with Canelo.

Twitter: @rainedonparade

Saturday, 3 March 2018

My Review of Bring Me Back by B A Paris twisty and clever

My review of Bring Me Back by B A Paris

This is a very twisty and twisted, psychological thriller. If you love to be puzzled by cryptic clues and teeny hints that might not all be what they seem this is a must read book for you.

Narrated mostly by Finn, the main male protagonist who is engaged to be married to Emma. He used to be passionately in love with Emmas sister Layla who mysteriously disappeared 12 years ago, when the couple were on their way back from a holiday and has never been seen since.

But suddenly messages begin to appear which would seem to indicate that Layla is back, or soon plans to be back in Finn's life. He gets very confused and terribly frustrated and begins to find clues everywhere which disturb and worry him, many of these clues are deliberately placed tiny Russian dolls, which show up at every turn. They have a particular significance to Finn and Layla. He finds on on the garden wall and one on his plate when he goes to the pub ( a pub which is owned and run by yet another ex-girlfriend Ruby. Confused? You will be, you're meant to be, the author very neatly and cleverly fills the story with dainty little red herrings, which you keep sniffing out and thinking Ahh, then realizing you've been coerced into heading off up the wrong garden path, hence the twistyness which ensures you won't sleep a wink whilst this clever, dark and very gripping thriller is on your bedside table.

I must confess I disliked Finn he's a pretty flawed character, he was sparing with the truth when Layla went missing omitting some pertinent facts, even when telling the police what happened, now that's never a good thing is it? Oh and he seems to have a bit of a hot temper does Finn and I find it impossible to love a man who lashes out with his fists whatever the reason, but the main reason I just couldn't warm to him is, his past is lettered with ex girlfriends who he seems to think are all desperate to get back with him (when I fail to see how he ever managed to attract any woman in the first place!)

So - he's a bit of a fibber, who likes to lash out and he's really, really self obsessed. But would we wish what is going to happen to Finn on our worst enemy?

To find out you'll have to read it and see and while you're reading it #ForgetSleep because you won't rest easy until you uncover the mystery of where Layla went and what is going on. Get your copy from Amazon here.

Or see what people are saying about it on Twitter.

@HarperCollinsUK @HQStories @BAParisAuthor

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Review - West by Carys Davies

WEST by Carys Davies - my review

This book was, for me a very fast read, it's a short book with a big punch.

It tells the story of Cy Bellmann, a pioneering Brit who has previously emigrated to Pennsylvania to farm mules and horses, this act alone tells us he is man not averse to taking a great risk to achieve what he wants in life even if it is to the cost of those dear to him, you'd think he'd be satisfied with what he has! Now widowed and left alone with just his young daughter Bess who is now 10, for company, like many of us, he knows there must be something greater than his humdrum life.

He's only 35 but boy does this guy have a sudden mid life crisis. He hears news of a momentous discovery far away in Kentucky, a pile of colossal animal bones. He is convinced this skeleton reveals the presence of a yet undiscovered wondrous living creature and it ignites a fire in him he hasn't felt since before his wife died, he burns to be the one to find this huge animal.

Talk about throwing caution to the wind - he buys a new hat and overcoat, clambers on a horse and sets off in a Westerly direction, abandoning his only daughter to the not so tender ministration of his curmudgeonly spinster sister Julie telling her vaguely he may be back in a couple of years.

The book in turns follows his trail throughout the wild and inhospitable West as he follows his unlikely and foolhardy quest. Then it follows Bess as she matures without the love of a parent, and spends time at the library trying to follow his likely progress on maps.

The book is sparse without much of the embroidery and detail which often fills works of pioneers on a great journey yet it paints a starkly beautiful image of a land so vast that it is indeed possible creatures could be hiding and never have been seen in living memory. Cy encounters Native Indians and gets himself a travel companion/guide, a young American Indian lad with a wonderful tongue in cheek name, who speaks not a word of English.

Meanwhile whilst he is away, Bess grows older and begins to attract very unwelcome attention of the wrong sort and her Aunt who barely even acknowledges her is no protector.

This is a simple tale of how grief coupled with a deep yearning can cause us to lose sight of the treasures we already have, in the never ending quest for "there must be more than this".

It is also about seeking atonement and mentally punishing oneself for past deeds, whilst telling oneself that it is for the greater good that one makes decisions and not for self gratification.

It is a delectably enjoyable book and is almost allegorical in its nature with the extinct species at the heart of the tale continuing to have an impact over the years, how grief manifests itself as guilt and no matter how deeply buried the skeletons are they eventually rise to the surface, and the moral that even if there is something bigger than us out there it doesn't necessarily follow that it is what we need for our own survival.

The ending is satisfying and the path to reach it is a terrible and awesome journey of deprivation and dogged determination. A lovely little fable with great characters.

The Blurb

When Cy Bellman, American settler and widowed father of Bess, reads in the newspaper that huge ancient bones have been discovered in a Kentucky swamp, he leaves his small Pennsylvania farm and young daughter to find out if the rumours are true: that the giant monsters are still alive, and roam the uncharted wilderness beyond the Mississippi River.

West is the story of Bellman's journey and of Bess, waiting at home for her father to return. Written with compassionate tenderness and magical thinking, it explores the courage of conviction, the transformative power of grief, the desire for knowledge and the pull of home, from an exceptionally talented and original British writer. It is a radiant and timeless epic-in-miniature, an eerie, electric monument to possibility.

A gathering of Ghosts - Karen Maitland - wonderfully atmospheric historical writing

A Gathering of Ghosts by Karen Maitland My review: Karen Maitland smashes the bar again with another fabulous, bewitching medieval m...