Friday, 17 August 2018

Open your eyes - by Paula Daly - gripping

Review - Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly

A well-written fabulous new page-turner from an author whose books never fail to grip you by the larynx and apply increasing pressure throughout, exactly what Grip-lit should be.

This is a stand-alone domestic Noir thriller about Jane, a would-be author, married to Leon, the couple have 2 young children and everything is going fine apart from the books Jane writes being constantly rejected for publication. She knows how hard it is to break into publishing, she is a creative writing tutor and her husband has several successful published books under his belt already.

One fateful day everything she knows is about to come crashing down around her ears, when suddenly Leon is attacked, right outside their own home and whilst he is in a deep coma in hospital she has to try and keep things at home on an even keel. But how can she ever feel safe where such a dreadful thing happened?

The story is gripping on two levels, there is the deep mystery of who did this to Leon and why, and there is the very realistic and moving story of a woman trying to cope with a massive change in her personal circumstances. Add some very authentic and quirky characters, lots of different threats and fears and you have the perfect recipe for a real page turner.

I obtained my review copy from Netgalley

The Blurb

Haven’t we all wanted to pretend everything is fine?

Jane doesn’t like confrontation. Given the choice, she'd prefer to focus on what’s going well, the good things in life.

But when her husband, Leon, is brutally attacked in the driveway of their home, in front of their two young children, Jane has to face reality. As he lies in a coma, Jane must open her eyes to the problems in her life, and the secrets that have been kept from her, if she’s to find out who hurt her husband – and why.

Maybe it’s time to face up to it all. Who knows what you might find . . .

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Review - A Little Bird Told Me - Marianne Holmes great debut novel

Review - A Little Bird Told Me by Marianne Holmes

What a terrific debut novel, I take my hat off to the author who has recreated the long hot summer of 1976 and turned it into a simmering heat haze of suspicion, misunderstandings and mystery.

A Little Bird Told Me is the story of siblings Robyn (nicknamed Little Bird) and her older brother Chistopher also known as Kit.

The book sweeps effortlessly back and forth in time from 1976 when the pair were children and 1988 when as young adults, they return to the small town of their childhood so that Robyn can try and make amends for an injustice she blames herself for.

In 1976 as the youngsters swelter in the heat, make dams by the river, play with friends and put up with bullying as well as a fractured family life. As they watch their Mum, keeping things hidden and constantly trying to evade someone or something it's clear that there is more going on than meets the eye.

Events which occurred in the past have left their mark on both these young people and its testament to Robyns lack of understanding as to what exactly was going on at the time has carried over to the present day and I read the whole book knowing that something dreadful happened but unsure what. Robyn blames herself for much if it and someone is missing and she is going to leave no stone unturned trying to solve the mystery despite Kit's reluctance to let her. But as her thoughts and actions are impaired by missing facts, so is the story a fractured version of events which will keep you wondering and guessing what dark secret is at the heart of Little Birds story. Robyn is a slightly unreliable narrator mainly because of her fractured memories of the past and her volatile personality.

This is a quality piece of literary fiction with psychological twists and something very nasty at the bottom of the woodpile writhing around showing glimpses of itself as some pretty nasty characters do some contemptible deeds.

I really felt for Robyn, her childhood has left her damaged goods, not only in the painful scar she carries around her waist but she tries so hard and frequently gets things wrong, she has a temper, she can be a very poor judge of character and yet she is very likeable.

This is a deceptively dark and twisty read, which starts out as a summer saunter down memory lane but becomes a morass of lies and puzzles you dread uncovering.

For anyone who likes their Domestic Noir to have a kick in the tail and really make you think.

My Thanks go to the publisher @AgoraBooksLDN for my review copy and my congratulations to the author for writing a compelling debut which indicates great promise.

This book is due out in September and can be pre-ordered now

The Blurb

In the scorching summer of 1976, Robyn spends her days swimming at the Lido and tagging after her brother. It’s the perfect holiday – except for the crying women her mum keeps bringing home.

As the heatwave boils on, tensions in the town begin to simmer. Everyone is gossiping about her mum, a strange man is following her around, and worst of all, no one will tell Robyn the truth. But this town isn’t good at keeping secrets…

Twelve years later, Robyn returns home, to a house that has stood empty for years and a town that hasn’t moved on, forced to confront the mystery that haunted her that summer.

And atone for the part she played in it.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Review - The Lion Tamer Who Lost - Louise Beech - heartbreaking fiction

Review – The Lion Tamer who Lost by Louise Beech

Be careful what you wish for it might just come true, is definitely the moral of this lovely, engaging romantic and heartbreaking read.

Ben has always wished he could work with lions, whilst Andrews wishes are more complex, so he keeps his written on post-it notes and concealed inside his Wish Box.

When these two meet it feels like fate could have thrown them together and this book is certainly a series of bizarre and pretty improbable coincidences.

When you read a book that breaks a piece of your heart and you turn to the back and discover your own name in the mentions and thankyous … perhaps that’s just another of those bizarre coincidences, for not only did that happen to me in my proof copy of this book, which eventually found its way to me via a long and circuitous route (and I was so thrilled to be mentioned I yipped out loud on the bus) but a similar thing also happens in the book to one of the characters.

The book alternates in point of view between the two main characters Ben and Andrew. Andrew is an author and every chapter of this book begins with a quote from the book he is writing, a childrens book called … “The Lion Tamer who lost” whilst Ben is tells his story from Africa where he is living out his wish by working on a Lion conservation project.

As other readers have already said, it’s quite difficult to describe the story without giving too much away. So I’ll tell you how it made me feel - I galloped through it, as it is a real page turner and the series of coincidences left me reeling, first with delight then with sorrow and there is a real punch in the gut OMG moment that I hadn’t anticipated which almost physically had me reeling.

The clever author, whose previous book Maria in the moon, which I also loved, covered some pretty difficult subjects, takes a handful of taboo and thought provoking topics and blends these ingredients together into a perfect, beautifully iced cake, which you bite into only to find a shockingly bitter and terrible core. Family dynamics are the main underlying base to this gateau, filled with love and passion, sprinkled with wishes and hopes, and sandwiched together with loneliness, impossibility, sickness and pain.

You do need to be able to willingly accept very unlikely coincidences and also believe in fate to go with the flow and enjoy this book as it was intended to be enjoyed. But hey, isn’t life often stranger than fiction and bizarre and unpredictable things can happen.

You also need to be able to read this somewhere a little private as it’s certainly going to make you ugly cry at some point. There is a certain point where the realisation that in one aspect at least this book is never, ever going to have one of the happy outcomes it’s made you long for, that completely knocked me sideways. But, many of the characters, the ones you grow to love and even the ones you dislike and get very exasperated with will surprise you and by the end, you will feel a part of the disparate family at the core of the story.

My thanks to for my copy.

The Blurb

Long ago Andrew made a childhood wish. One he has always kept in a silver box with a too-big lid that falls off. When it finally comes true, he wishes it hadn't...

Long ago Ben dreamed of going to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally goes there, it isn't for the reasons he imagined...

Ben and Andrew keep meeting where they least expect. Some collisions are by design, but are they for a reason? Ben's father would disown him for his relationship with Andrew, so they must hide their love. Andrew is determined to make it work, but secrets from his past threaten to ruin everything.

Ben escapes to Zimbabwe to finally fulfil his lifelong ambition. But will he ever return to England? To Andrew? To the truth? 

A dark and poignant drama, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is also a mesmerisingly beautiful love story, with a tragic heart.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Blog Tour and Review of The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden:
Blog tour and review.

Today I am part of the blog tour for the beautiful haunting tale which is the Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden.

The Girl in the tower is the second book in the Winternight Trilogy of which the first book is The Bear and the Nightingale. 

I am in the privileged position of having recently read both books which has left my heart pounding, my head reeling and my imagination well and truly fired. I will provide a brief synopsis of the first book in the series which I highly recommend you read first, as a) it helps make better sense of the second and b) It’s blooming amazing and you just don’t want to miss it.

This series admirably fills the gap left by the Abhorsen trilogy (Garth Nix) and His Dark Materials (Philip Pullmann) yet they are completely different based on traditional Russian folklore they seem as old as time, new as freshly baked bread and very, very original.

These are fairy tales with no fluttering glittering fairies. Coming of age novels for 12 to 90 year olds, Grimmer than Grimms fairy tales and filled with demons, some of whom will scare you, most of whom you’ll love. To this mix add wonderful horses you can communicate with and a handsome and enigmatic frost demon to freeze your fingers and melt your heart and you get a tiny flavour of what these books are about. 

Did you love the Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey? The Girl with glass feet by Ali Shaw? Ohhhh you’re going to adore this series then.

Now I must admit I found the first book took me a little while to get into, mainly because of its very uniqueness and my total unfamiliarity with anything Russian – Oh and my completely missing the superb glossary until after I’d read it! My tip is; use the glossary of terms and tips before you read these books (Duh, sounds obvious now doesn’t it?) as I found it rather confusing with all the different unfamiliar names, each of which has not one but often 2 or more diminutives, leading me to believe there were, in fact more characters in my book than there really were. Then there are the names of the demons – all new, unfamiliar and unpronounceable!

But once you get your head around the fact that Vasya, really Vasilisa who is called Vasoschka at times (and calls herself Vasilii when she disguises herself as a boy) are one and the same person and that everyone in the book has as many names as this and some are MUCH harder to pronounce – you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the superb narrative and magical storytelling.

Oh my! I’ve been blethering for ages and I haven’t even begun telling you what the stories are actually about!!

The Bear and the Nightingale: Book 1

In this, we meet Vasya (remember her - she’s Vasilisa ……)
Vasya is the girl who doesn’t fit in, different in appearance and in nature to her siblings she would rather be rampaging around the forest than sewing by the fire, in the house where she lives, in a small hamlet in the Russian wilderness. She has a natural affinity with horses and she can see demons – everywhere! 

That’s because they ARE everywhere, but not too many folk can actually see them. Vasya can talk to them, she understands them and one day this will be the making of her. But for now, it sets her apart from her family as does her frog-like appearance. Her new stepmother mistrusts her and her father can’t work out quite what to do with his wayward daughter - it's all too easy to get called a witch in these superstitious times.

Vasya doesn’t know quite where she fits in either, but she knows one thing she doesn’t want to be married off to a stranger and neither does she want to end up in a convent.

She has been brought up on folk tales told at her nursemaid Dunya’s knee huddled around the fire in the bitter Russian winter, and the most chilling and fascinating of all the legends is that of the Frost-demon Morosko the winter god who is also the bringer of death in the bitter winter cold. 

Little does she know that she is destined to face the Frost King and her story will become entwined with the creature of her childhood nightmares, the one-eyed man who is also a terrifying bear.

This is a wonderful, magical, mesmerising and haunting story of a feisty young woman who defies gender stereotyping in an age where women were expected to be submissive and obedient.

There is much MUCH more to this beautiful story but this review is supposed to be mainly about the second book which follows neatly on from the first. I don’t think I’ll be too guilty of spoilers when I say that as Vasya is also the star of the next book, therefore it follows that in a book of death and bloodshed she is a survivor!

The Girl in the Tower - Book 2

The girl in the tower begins with Vasya, now disguised as a boy, leaving her small village where she is accused of witchcraft and setting off for adventure and hoping to realise her ambition of being a traveller. Carried by her amazing bay stallion Solovey, she journeys towards the big city of Moscow. 

On her travels through the vast forest, she discovers that Tatar bandits have been burning villages and murdering the occupants then kidnapping the young girls, This incenses Vasya and being who she is, she steps in to try and help.

Eventually, her bravery earns her the respect of the Grand Prince of Moscow (who of course believes she is a young man) women being kept very much under the control of their husbands and barely allowed to show their faces in public. Their choices are few, marry bear children and obey the husband who has been chosen for you or become a Nun …. ermm and that’s it, not much of a choice there then.

Vasya revels in the freedom being a boy gives her and swears her gender will remain a secret. She eventually reaches her beloved brother and sister, who both left home when she was a small child and of course they also have to keep her identity secret, much as her deception appals them.

Her inborn skill with horses (aided by the fact that she can understand them, soothe and talk to them) also earns her a reputation as a brave young man, a title she longs to keep but as time goes on it gets harder to conceal her femininity.

I will say no more about the storyline, it is wonderful and heart-breaking and utterly joyous storytelling and I don’t want to spoil one tiny moment of your time, with Vasya in ancient Russia. 

For, read it you surely must, as I am at a loss as to what else to say to convey how stunning this series is. 

This second book is more adult in its themes and even darker than the first and Oh so sad, yet it glows with colour and vibrancy throughout.

Having read the first 2 books back to back I am left bereft and heartbroken waiting in deepest anticipation for the third in the series to come out. Already I am devastated that this is going to be a trilogy and when I do get my hot little hands on the final instalment it will be the last.

If you enjoy this series even 1/4 as much as I did you are in for a rare and delectable treat.

Connect with the author on her website

The books are published by Penguin Random House and my thanks go to Random Things Tours for inviting me to join this blog tour and opening my eyes to this world of magic.

The Blurb:

For a young woman in medieval Russia, the choices are stark: marriage or a life in a convent. Vasya will choose a third way: magic...

The court of the Grand Prince of Moscow is plagued by power struggles and rumours of unrest. Meanwhile, bandits roam the countryside, burning the villages and kidnapping its daughters. Setting out to defeat the raiders, the Prince and his trusted companion come across a young man riding a magnificent horse.

Only Sasha, a priest with a warrior's training, recognises this 'boy' as his younger sister, thought to be dead or a witch by her village. But when Vasya proves herself in battle, riding with remarkable skill and inexplicable power, Sasha realises he must keep her secret as she may be the only way to save the city from threats both human and fantastical...

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Blog Tour The Theatre of Dreams by Rosie Travers

Blog Tour The Theatre of Dreams - Rosie Travers

Today I've hopped on the Blog Tour for The Theatre of dreams by Rosie Travers as invited by @rararesources

This colourful and fascinating debut romantic novel sounds wonderful and I'd like to be one of the first to wish the Author great success with her new book set in the world of theatre.

Purchase a copy from Amazon UK

Here's what it's about to whet your appetite:
The Blurb

Musical theatre actress Tara is down on her luck and in desperate need of a job. 

When terminally-ill octogenarian Kitty invites her to take over the running of her former dance academy in the old-fashioned resort of Hookes Bay, Tara thinks she’s found her guardian angel. 

But it soon becomes very clear Kitty is being far from benevolent. 

Too late, Tara realises helping Kitty will signal the end of an already tarnished career, unless she can pull off the performance of a life-time...

The Author: Rosie Travers

or Twitter where she is @RosieTravers 

Here's what the author has to say ...

I like to write stories with a twist, a sprinkling of humour and a dash of tragedy.  My aim is to entertain and raise a smile.
I’ve always had a very vivid imagination and my passion for writing began at a very early age.  

As a teenager I scribbled, then typed, numerous novels and short stories, none of which I was ever brave enough to show to anyone. My hobby was put on hold while mortgages, marriage, and motherhood took over. In fact, it stayed hidden for a good twenty or so years until I unexpectedly found myself with some spare time on my hands. In 2009 I left the UK to accompany my husband on an overseas work assignment to California. 

I started a blog about my life in the US, and from there everything mushroomed. I re-discovered my creative juices. 
 I am a member of the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Scheme and Hampshire Writers Society. I now live on the south coast of England with my husband and a very spoilt cat.

The Theatre of Dreams is my first novel.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Blog Tour and Book Review of Fatal Inheritance - Rachel Rhys - dazzling delight

Blog Tour

Today I bring you my thoughts on a wonderful new book, welcome to the blog tour for the new book Fatal Inheritance by Rachel Rhys which was published on 26th July 2018 and you can find it here.

As my contribution to the tour and to whet your appetite here is my review of this wonderfully enjoyable book


I’m deliriously happy to be included in the blog tour for this absolutely wonderful, feel-good romantic mystery by Rachel Rhys, aka Tammy Cohen, a brilliant novelist who turns her hand to two different genres with each persona she dons and does it with ease and panache. She demonstrated this succinctly in her first historical drama “A Dangerous Crossing”, which I also loved. you can read my review of that book here.

Author Rachel Rhys

If you’re looking for the absolutely perfect book to enjoy on holiday or curl up and relax with over the weekend then look no further you’ve found it in Fatal Inheritance.

The period setting is post war England in 1948, where our heroine Eve is sadly very typical of many housewives of this era. 

The sheer monotony of her mundane life, married to a dull, pompous husband, who never appreciates her attempts to be the perfect wife and sees her as a mere accessory to his chokingly dull existence, is suddenly shattered by a letter announcing a completely unexpected inheritance for Eve.

Despite her husbands’ insistence that it will be a mistake and can all be dealt with by him, without her worrying her little head over it, she sees it as a ray of hope on an otherwise very bleak horizon, especially when she finds out she has been left a part share of an old villa in the South of France and, taking the bull by the horns, sets off, alone, to discover more about her mysterious inheritance.

Eve heads off to the sun-soaked Riviera to claim her inheritance and soon begins to rub shoulders with celebrities and the Nouveau riche. 

Whilst making some new friends she also discovers a simmering resentment towards her and a veiled sense of threat surrounding her presence in the charming pink villa overlooking the glittering Mediterranean.

In the hedonistic and cosmopolitan surroundings of the French Riviera she finds the situation even more puzzling than expected. She is an unwelcome intruder to the family to whom she is as great a mystery as this bequest is to her.

The story gallops along, with sublime characters, exquisite descriptions of the glitzy location and the occasional glamorous party and illustrates how a mousy everyday 1940s housewife throws caution to the winds and gradually creates a niche in this new life for herself. I adored watching her grow in confidence and self-worth and mutating from a subject of pity to a source of admiration.

If this had been a book purely about the upper class and privileged classes I may have found it a tad tiresome, but in creating a sympathetic relatable character in Eve, the author made this book very accessible, wholly enjoyable and a delight from start to finish. 

I loved following Eve's character developing and the strange mystery and stunning location, blended together to create an unsurpassed novel of sheer, dazzling, delight. A book which never lets up its pace and manages to fit an awful lot in to the pages without ever becoming overcomplicated nor twee.

I’m aware that the description may possibly sound as though similar stories have been told before. Not with such panache and deliciousness, this book is completely original and exciting all the way from start to the highly satisfying conclusion! 

Rachel Rhys has her own very unique writing style and I can hardly wait for this author to reach for her pen and begin to write in this historical genre again.

The Blurb

1948: an English housewife trapped in a dull marriage escapes to the South of France to claim a mystery inheritance. But rivals to her unexplained fortune begin to emerge, and now they want her out of the way ...

She didn’t have an enemy in the world… 
until she inherited a fortune 

London 1948: Eve Forrester is trapped in a loveless marriage, in a gloomy house, in a grey suburb. 

Out of the blue, she received a solicitor’s letter. A wealthy stranger has left her a mystery inheritance but in order to find out more, she must travel to the glittering French Riviera. 

Eve discovers her legacy is an enchanting villa overlooking the Mediterranean sea and suddenly, life could not be more glamorous. 

But while she rubs shoulders with film-stars and famous writers, under the heat of the golden sun, rivals to her unexplained fortune begin to emerge. Rivals who want her out of the way. 

Alone in paradise, Eve must unlock the story behind her surprise bequest – before events turn deadly…

Reminiscent of a Golden Age mystery, Fatal Inheritance is an intoxicating story of dysfunctional families and long-hidden secrets, set against the razzle-dazzle and decadence of the French Riviera. 

Monday, 30 July 2018

Blog Tour and my review of An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

Blog Tour and my review of An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena. Published by Bantam Press at Transworld publishers it is out on 26th July in Hardback.

My Review:

Welcome to the blog tour for An Unwanted guest, the new book by Shari Lapena author of twisty thrillers including the gripping book The Couple Next Door.

Come in out of the snow, pull up a chair in front of a roaring fire and settle down for this twisty and puzzling thriller. (I know it’s still summer and this is a great holiday read, but its also one perfect winter read to look forward to as the nights draw in)

This book is like a game of Consequences (I hope you used to play that party game when you were young or this isn’t a great start to my review)

Cluedo meets Agatha Christie at the Hotel from the Shining, people die in mysterious circumstances, nobody knows who they can trust and the consequence is … everybody suspects each other of murder.

Well, that sums it up quite nicely I think. It’s an out and out Whodunnit, which don't always float my boat but the author does it so very well you just get sucked right in and go along for the scary ride.

The tension builds nicely as the guests arrive at the remote hotel amidst a whiteout blizzard and find the hostelry staffed only by the owner and his son. They are all rapidly stranded and as the electricity fails and the disparate bunch of guests get to know one another, we begin to feel shivers, not just from the bitter cold weather, or the beautiful but chilling ice house in the grounds, but as realization dawns that there is a killer amongst this small group.

We get just the right amount of background on each guest to feel we are getting to know them, yet enough is left out to make sure we harbour doubts and suspect everyone in turn as things so from bad to worse, to absolutely terrible.

Plenty of curved balls are thrown at the reader to divert and distract us and the whole book is delightfully entertaining and creepy.

Great for thriller aficionados and readers who like to examine characters motives and flaws, whilst trying to guess who did what to whom and why!

The Blurb

We can’t choose the strangers we meet.

As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell’s Inn, they’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance. 

Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.

With a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in – or out. And then the first body is found . . . and the horrifying truth comes to light. There’s a killer among them – and nowhere to run. 

Until we find ourselves in a situation we can’t escape. Trapped.

My thanks to #RandomThingsTours for my copy.

Buy yours now on Amazon and all good booksellers.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Advance Review - When Winter Comes by V.A. Shannon

My Review of When Winter Comes by V.A. Shannon.

Wonderful, epic, historical fiction, I loved it and couldn't put it down. I consider myself very fortunate to have been chosen as one of the recipients of a copy in advance of publication. My advance review copy is now well creased, as I read this remarkable novel in bed, on the bus and crammed it in my handbag to take to work, I was so engrossed in the story.

Quite recently I read another fictional book with a supernatural angle The Hunger based on the same true subject, the Donner party of pioneers who came to grief, back in the mid 19th century when thousands of brave and some plain foolhardy, folk set off with their wagon trains to cross the Sierra mountains from Cincinatti, headed West towards California to try and build a better life. What bravery, how hard it must have been in these days centuries before tripadvisor and google maps and without even any real trail or markers to follow.

Both these books are wonderful, yet rather different accounts of the same true journey.

When winter comes is told in the intimate first person voice of a young woman who leaves her poverty stricken feckless and violent family home, following a series of mishaps.

The book begins in 1859 when our narrator is a rather sedate married woman, living a quiet life of domesticity bringing up her girls, meeting up with her friends at a quilting bee, and looking after her husband, Jacob, who presents her with a journal as a gift. As she begins to put pen to paper she is unsure what she will write about as every day is the same. But as soon as she begins, memories of her past come flooding back and memories she had suppressed clamour to be told.

In a series of flashbacks to 13 years earlier when she was just 15, we learn how she became involved with the fated journey of the infamous Donner party and her version of events unfolds in all its grim pathos. As winter halts the travellers in their tracks terrible choices have to be made which will scar her for life.

We watch her grow and change from quite a selfish young madam into a reliable and stoic young woman. This is a coming of age born of necessity and hardship that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

The descriptiveness of being part of a legendary journey in times gone by are painted with a deftness and utter plausablity, that makes the reader experience rather than merely read the story. It reads like a memoir and gives you an insight into a fictional characters thoughts and actions around a true event.

It is captivating and harrowing by turn, beautifully thought out and well written with evidence of much in depth research.

If you like historical fiction with a literary quality and a whole host of characters all the more real for their flaws and foibles you'll LOVE this book, I did.

Pre-order now from Amazon

The Blurb

In the voice of an unforgettable heroine, V.A. Shannon explores one of the most harrowing episodes in pioneer history—the ill-fated journey of the Donner Party—in a mesmerizing novel of resilience and survival. 

Mrs. Jacob Klein has a husband, children, and a warm and comfortable home in California. No one—not even her family—knows how she came to be out West thirteen years ago. Jacob, a kind and patient man, has promised not to ask. But if she were to tell her story, she would recount a tale of tragedy, mishaps, and unthinkable choices—yet also sacrifice, courage, and a powerful, unexpected love . . .

1846: On the outskirts of Cincinnati, wagons gather by the hundreds, readying to head west to California. Among the throng is a fifteen-year-old girl eager to escape her abusive family. With just a few stolen dollars to her name, she enlists as helpmate to a married couple with a young daughter. Their group stays optimistic in the face of the journey’s hazards and delays. Then comes a decision that she is powerless to prevent: Instead of following the wagon train’s established route, the Donner Party will take a shortcut over the Sierras, aiming to clear the mountains before the first snows descend. 

In the years since that infamous winter, other survivors have sold their accounts for notoriety and money, lurid tales often filled with half-truths or blatant, gory lies. Now, Mrs. Klein must decide whether to keep those bitter memories secret, or risk destroying the life she has endured so much to build . . . (less)

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Review - The Corset - Laura Purcell -

The Corset by Laura Purcell

My Review
WOW - brilliant, loved every word of this ravishing historical thriller.

I do wish I hadn't read this book!! Only because I'm pretty darned certain it's going to such a hard act to follow that I'm going to find each and every new book I pick up for months, lacking in comparison and I'm saddened and green with envy that everyone who is yet to read this, still has it's delights to look forward to.

The description had me chomping at the bit, the cover had me swooning and I KNEW without doubt that it was my kind of book to a T. Yet still I didn't know what absolute reading PERFECTION this completely spectacular book was going to be.

Reminding me very much of two of my all time favourite reads Affinity and The Observations I am almost lost for words, to describe my feelings adequately after reading this.

It is a historical twisty mystery which is deviously dark and devilishly delectable. Featuring two very different young women. Dorothea Truelove is a well off young lady who wishes to do good works, has an interest in reading the shape of the head, phrenology and in particular observing the characteristics displayed by criminals. She resists her fathers attempts to marry her off, wishing to choose her own suitor, though this is not an option of the well to do Victorian female.

Her choice of good works is to be a prison visitor in Oakgate womens prison, where she soon becomes intrigued and involved with the young murderess Ruth Butterham who is charged with murdering her employer. A talented seamstress, with self taught skills she hones creating herself a corset from scraps of left over fabric, Ruth falls on very hard times as a series of dreadful personal disasters leads her to believe she can cause death by sewing hatred and ill will into the garments she works on.

With her talent with a needle being the only way she can earn a living she ends up apprenticed to the vile and Dickensian sweat shop of the Metyard familys dressmaking business.

What follows is a life of drudgery which is revealed stitch by intricate stitch, as she slaves for the Metyards, crosses paths with the vile Captain, makes a friend in Mim and encounters the handsome Billy. The lives of these two women entwine as each struggles against the whims of others and the restrictions placed on women in this era.

Their are dastardly deeds aplenty, the writing is sheer poetry it has an eerie and compelling literary quality and the characters are sublime. It is worthy of comparison with the wonderful Sarah Waters writing and is a sensational follow up to the authors successful debut novel The Silent Companions and in my opinion is far superior to it.

Put this on your must read list. It will be published in September and you can pre-order it now so you have something to look forward to when the nights begin to draw in.

I received my advance copy of #TheCorset from #NetGalley
My thanks to Raven Books, home of deliciously dark books

The Description:

The new Victorian chiller from the author of Radio 2 Book Club pick, The Silent Companions.

Is prisoner Ruth Butterham mad or a murderer? Victim or villain?

Dorothea and Ruth.

Prison visitor and prisoner. Powerful and powerless.

Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.

When Dorothea’s charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted with the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person’s skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets teenage seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another theory: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread. For Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.

The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations – of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses – will shake Dorothea’s belief in rationality, and the power of redemption.

Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer?

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Review - The Perfect Friend by Barbara Copperthwaite - perfectly terrifying

My Review of The Perfect Friend by Barbara Copperthwaite:

It's just what we all want isn't it? The Perfect Friend?

Barbara Copperthwaite has excelled herself, yet again, with this terrific, tense and terrifying, twisty thriller. My goodness, I just can't imagine how she manages to dream up characters capable of such dastardly deeds. Just when I think she can't possibly get any better, my favourite writer of dark and daring deeds blows my socks off.

The Perfect Friend, scared me so much I really don't think I'll ever dare trust anyone, ever again!

On the surface it's a novel about friendship, surviving and learning to live with your own failures. Beneath its a seething maelstrom of lies, deceit and corruption that made my head reel.

The perfect Friend introduces us to two lovely ladies who become friends through a support group which helps people who are finding it difficult to cope with what life has thrown at them.
Both are damaged and traumatised. Despite their difference in ages they have become firm friends.

Alex is the elder woman. In her struggle to cope with her husband leaving her and offspring she can no longer speak to she has succumbed to the debilitating condition of Anorexia. With a lot of love to give she is pouring her affection into her friendship with the younger woman Carrie, almost young enough to be her daughter, Carrie is sweet and bright and cheerful despite fighting cancer.

The two women are drawn together and would, it seems, do almost anything for one another.

And maybe, not the most reliable narrators to tell this story.

Alex feels there is something she must make up for and throws herself into supporting her young friend who has become like a surrogate daughter to replace the one Alex is unable to spend time with any more.

But nothing - absolutely NOTHING, is quite what it seems and secrets and lies are peeled back from this toxic friendship, to reveal deeper layers of deceit and confusion. Reading it, I was swept along so swiftly I didn't even see the rapids coming until I'd hurtled over them and rose from the deep spluttering and in denial.

A fabulous convoluted cornucopia of trickery which will have you looking at your best friend and wondering .... what if??

The Blurb

She’ll do anything for you…

My name is Alex, and my world has been shattered.
My husband has left me.
My children won’t speak to me.
My friend Carrie is the only person I have.
She’s the only one I can trust to keep all my secrets.
She’d never do anything to let me down.
Would she?

This dark, gripping psychological thriller will have you holding your breath until the very last page. Fans of Behind Closed Doors, Sometimes I Lie, and The Girl on the Train will be captivated. 

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Review - Call of the Curlew - Blog Tour

Today I am part of the Blog Tour for the wonderful Call of the Curlew by Elizabeth Brooks.
This historical fiction set on the brooding Tollbury Marsh published by Penguin Random House is out now. Find it on Amazon and many other good booksellers. #CalloftheCurlew @ManxWriter

My review:

Call of the Curlew by Elizabeth Brooks:

This haunting and atmospheric book is set in a fabulously dramatic and brooding location which is painted in beautifully descriptive prose by the author. Saltwinds is an old house set on the edge of Tollbury Marsh a vast silent landscape of seeping water and sucking sands which come and go with the tides, populated with wading birds it’s nevertheless not a place to go walking, its eerie beauty belies the deadly nature of the swampy marshland.

Not the ideal spot you might think for a young orphan girl to be brought to live. But eleven year old Virginia considers herself fortunate to have been chosen by the childless couple who live at Saltwinds, for amidst the outbreak of world war 2 and the uncertainty in the air, she has been adopted and found her forever home at the edge of this Marshland which both fascinates and terrifies her.

Quite a lot scares her, not least whether her new parents will like her!

As the book begins she is taken of foot along the path beside the marsh by her new adoptive Father towards her new home, and won over by the rather dour man who hands her sweets from his pocket. But her new Mother Lorna seems constantly distracted and is a difficult women for the lonely little girl to love. But Virginia has a lot of love to give and this lonely place proves very insular and isolated making growing up difficult and confusing for her. My emotions were really tugged for this confused young girl.

The book takes us back and forth in time from Virginia’s childhood and upbringing to the present when she still resides at Saltwinds as lonely and old lady at 86 as she was as a child of eleven. But time has passed and she knows tonight is the time she is due to die, so, as she begins to make plans for her own demise, (should she leave a farewell note? Find someone to feed her cat) the past begins to throw up its own reminders of things she believed buried beneath the shifting sands of time and of the terrible marsh beyond the windows. Why has she lived all these years under a terrible pall of guilt? The dual time aspect creates a real sense of mystery and intrigue.

Back in the past, terrible events, involving a German pilot who crashes into the marsh is about to shatter her newly built family, fractured though it already seems, it is about to completely break.

As Virginia tries to come to terms with loss and being left behind with the mother she remains detached from, the pompous and sinister Max Deering, one of their closest neighbours and his family become embroiled in their lives and a secret she has promised to keep hidden threatens to be revealed and leave nothing the same ever again.

The writing is superb, it has a slightly misty, murky feel just like the marsh which surrounds us as we read it, nothing is quite as straightforward as it seems …. see that nice clear path across the Marsh – DON’T step on it, it will swallow you up!

The book is very atmospheric, the storyline creepy and sinister with a gentle tension which builds so subtly you are hardly aware your jaw is tightly clenched as you read it. It’s one of those books where you are lulled into almost believing not much is going on, until you look back after you read it and think - Oh my, that was something else!

In some ways this book reminded me of the wonderful modern classic novel – The Book Thief (not least of all the fat tear which wound its way down my cheek as I drew a gasping breath at the end) tempered with a hint of Daphne du Maurier.

This sublime book is perfect for anyone who enjoys a historical setting subtle mysteries and the slight other-worldly misty memory feel you get when we slip back and forth in time inside someone else’s memories.
Loved it.

The Blurb:

Virginia Wrathmell has always known she will meet her death on the marsh in reparation for the mistakes of her childhood.

On New Year's Eve, at the age of eighty-six, Virginia feels the time has finally come.

In 1939, Virginia is ten, an orphan arriving to meet her new adoptive parents, Clem and Lorna Wrathmell, at their mysterious house, Salt Winds. 

The house sits right on the edge of a vast marsh, a beautiful but dangerous place. It's the start of a new life for Virginia, but she quickly senses that all is not right between Clem and Lorna - in particular, the presence of their wealthy neighbour Max Deering, who takes an unhealthy interest in the family. When a German fighter plane crashes into the marsh, Clem ventures onto the deadly sands to rescue the airman. And that is when things really begin to go wrong...

Monday, 25 June 2018

Review - The House on Half Moon Street - Alex Reeve -

The House on Half Moon Street - Alex Reeve

My Review:

I feel a bit embarrassed that it took me a while to get around to reading this fabulous historical mystery with a difference. And my only excuse is that it arrived on my tbr accompanied by so many other great tales it took me lonegr than I wanted to get around to reading them all. This was worth the wait!

2018 has been for me THE year of the historical novel, with a plethora of wonderful, tempting new titles to entice and beguile me, and a delightful profusion of new historical fiction.

This one is no exception. A most entertaining, heartfelt and gripping murder mystery with twists aplenty and characters who entranced me.

This intriguing new title, features a hero I was a little unsure whether I'd relate to at first, but have to admit i fell head over heels in love with. Leo, born in a girls body has always known he is a man and left his family and his former female identity to live as a man, in the city of London.

An inevitable decision, yet nevertheless a very brave one as not only, if he were discovered living transgender in the Victorian era, would he be viewed as perverted and insane but is, every minute of every day, just by being his true self is breaking every law in the book and would face severe penalties.

In the course of his job, working in a hospital as a coroners assistant he comes close to the recently deceased and I was almost as shocked and horrified as he must have felt, when he peels back the covering from the face of a woman dragged from the Thames, to see the face of his beloved! Maria, a prostitute, nevertheless won Leo's heart with her gentle acceptance of his true self and her sweet nature despite her calling, made him fall hook line and sinker for this lady of the night and even though he has always known that she can be any mans for a few shillings, he dreamt of a future for them together as a couple maybe even as man and wife one day and all that is now shattered. Maria is dead and Leo, beside himself with grief decides th elast thing he can do for her, is uncover what really happened to his beloved girl.

Suspecting foul play he becomes embroiled in the lives of other people, Rosie Flowers recently widowed, his landlord the hapless pharmacist with an enterprising nature who tries to set up a dental surgery in his shop without great success and his young daughter Constance, who dreams of owning a kitten and tries to educate Leo in the manufacture of medicines and cures by constantly testing him on the properties of potions and physics.

But life gets more complicated as Leo becomes at first a suspect then gets himself further and deeper in the clutches of some nefarious characters who all surround the house in half moon street which is the brothel at the heart of his investigation.

He ends up with some truly terrible things happening to him one of which in particular made me really cry my eyes out and he makes discoveries that not only is he harbouring his own great secret but almost everyone else around him has their own secrets too. The reason I loved Leo is, he retains, together with some of the physical frailties of the womans body he is encased within, a gentle understanding of women which seems singularly lacking in most of his male contemporaries, making him slightly vulnerable and I just wanted to give him a big hug and mother him.

Peopled with wonderful characters, some likeable, some loathsome, located in the murkiest of 19th century London slums and dockland and mystery piled upon mystery all make for a truly entertaining genre and gender crossing and captivating, wonderful book.

Loved, loved loved it.

The best thing is this is number one in a forthcoming series and I can hardly wait to meet up with Leo again soon.

My review copy was from Netgalley and my thanks go to the publisher Raven Books for providing me with the ebook to read.

The Blurb
Everyone has a secret... Only some lead to murder.

Leo Stanhope. Assistant to a London coroner; in love with Maria; and hiding a very big secret. 

For Leo was born Charlotte, but knowing he was meant to be a man – despite the evidence of his body – he fled his family home at just fifteen, and has been living as Leo ever since: his original identity known only to a few trusted people.

But then Maria is found dead and Leo is accused of her murder. Desperate to find her killer and under suspicion from all those around him, he stands to lose not just the woman he loves, but his freedom and, ultimately, his life.

A wonderfully atmospheric debut, rich in character and setting, in The House on Half Moon Street Alex Reeve has created a world that crime readers will want to return to again and again.

Available now at Amazon and all good bookstores

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 M√ľnstereifel 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

Open your eyes - by Paula Daly - gripping

Review - Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly A well-written fabulous new page-turner from an author whose books never fail to grip you by the...