Blog Tour – After She’s Gone by Maggie James – *Review*

Chuffed to bits to be hosting today’s turn on the After She’s Gone by Maggie James blog tour. I love a good psychological thriller so quickly agreed to take part in this one. What did I think? Read on to find out…

The Blurb

Lori Golden’s family has had more than its fair share of troubles. But through it all, Lori and her sister, Jessie, have always supported each other. Then Jessie is killed. And Lori’s world turns upside down.

Devastated, Lori struggles to cope with her loss, and to learn to live in a world without her bright, bubbly sister by her side. Around her, her already fractured family starts to fall apart. And as Lori and her mother try to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives, secrets long thought buried are coming painfully to light.

Faced with the unthinkable, Lori is forced to ask herself how well she really knows those who are left behind…

My Thoughts

Having never read a Maggie James novel before I was keen to discover a ‘new to me’ author. When Lori Golden’s sixteen-year-old sister, Jessie, fails to return home one night, Lori’s family are thrust into a rapid descent of grief, mistrust and suspicion as long held secrets are gradually revealed.

The prologue introduces us to a mysterious figure who is setting fire to Bristol’s disused buildings and serves to hook the reader in immediately. From there we are introduced to Lori hours before her world falls apart. I really liked the way James sets the scene in chapter one and the sense of foreboding she instils into the reader. Largely told from the perspective of Lori with brief glimpses into the thoughts and feelings of her mother, step-brother and the arsonist, you are taken along with the tide of emotions and individual worries they all have.

The beauty of After She’s Gone for me was the portrayal of a family unravelling in the wake of a tragedy. James depicts this brilliantly. The Golden/Hamiltons are a blended family and the small cracks that were there from the beginning become ravines in the aftermath. The doubts and misgivings Lori and her mother had about their newest family members become more prominent in their minds and take on more significance and meaning, resulting in the family becoming fractured. As long held secrets are gradually revealed they all begin to look at each other through different eyes.

I thought I had it all figured out in regards to who was responsible for Jessie’s death. In some respects I did, but in other ways I was very wrong…which won’t make sense unless you read it! James cleverly plants red herrings and the plethora of secrets within the family has the reader second guessing themselves. Who, if anyone, can truly be trusted?

After She’s Gone is a great psychological thriller which plays on the fear of not being able to trust those closest to you. I loved the combination of trying to figure out who had done it along with the emotional response I had to a family falling apart. A great read.

Published on 16 March 2017 by Lake Union Publishing.

Purchase Link (will take you to any amazon site world-wide)

About The Author

Maggie James is a British author who lives in Bristol. She writes psychological suspense novels.

Before turning her hand to writing, Maggie worked mainly as an accountant, with a diversion into practising as a nutritional therapist. Diet and health remain high on her list of interests, along with travel. Accountancy does not, but then it never did. The urge to pack a bag and go off travelling is always lurking in the background! When not writing, going to the gym, practising yoga or travelling, Maggie can be found seeking new four-legged friends to pet; animals are a lifelong love!

Connect with Maggie James

Goodreads Author Page:

A huge thanks to Maggie James and Noelle Holten at Thick As Thieves Publicity for the advance copy and inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Catch the other fab bloggers on the rest of the tour…

Blog Tour – Mystery At Maplemead Castle by Kitty French – *Book Review*

I am absolutely delighted to be one of two hosts on the Mystery At Maplemead Castle blog tour today. This is the second book in Kitty French’s The Chapelwick Mysteries series and was one of my hotly anticipated reads of 2017.  So what did I think of it? Did it live up to expectations? You bet it did! Carry on reading to find out what the book is about and my review…

The Blurb

Welcome to Chapelwick, a leafy English town in the hills of Shropshire, where chocolate pecan cookies come with a helping of sabotage.

Maplemead Castle is crawling with ghosts, and the new owners need them gone. When Melody Bittersweet and the Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency arrive on scene, they quickly identify the troublemakers swinging from the chandeliers… literally.

A century ago, stunning trapeze artist Britannia Lovell plunged to her death, and has done every night since. But did she really just fall, or was there something more to her demise?

Forced to work with Leo Dark, her scoundrel ex, and infuriating, irresistible reporter Fletcher Gunn, Melody’s investigative powers are under strain (i.e. lost in a pink mist of lust and confusion). She needs her team on top form, but best friend Marina’s cake pipeline goes AWOL, assistant Artie’s distracted by a giant sausage roll, and the pug is scared witless by a lion.

Somewhere, hidden in the castle, is a heart-breaking secret, but what will it take to find it? And is there a chance it could set Britannia free, or is she doomed to repeat her last fateful act forever?

An utterly hilarious, gripping, spooktastic read for fans of HY Hanna, MC Beaton, Gina LaManna and Jana DeLeon.

My Thoughts

Mystery at Maplemead Castle is the second book in The Chapelwick Mysteries and heralds the much welcome return of Melody Bittersweet and her ghostbusting agency. I was very excited to get my hands on this book after loving the first book The Skeletons of Scarborough House (previously titled Melody Bittersweet and the Girls Ghostbusting Agency).

If you haven’t read the first book, don’t worry, this book works perfectly as a standalone–although you are really missing out on a treat and should read it–as French introduces the characters in the first chapter which also helped as a great refresher for those, like me, who have a terrible memory.

The second case Melody’s new ghostbusting agency has been assigned to is at Maplemead Castle. Owned by brash American couple Lois and Barty Letterman, they have let out the castle to be used as a film set but some of the actors won’t step foot inside the place until it is cleared of its resident ghosts. How difficult can this be for psychic Melody? Very, when you add into the mix rival psychic and ex-boyfriend Leo Dark, reporter Fletcher Gunn who Melody should hate but finds herself attracted to and the ghosts of a circus troup! This is an unconventional, eccentric mystery and it works brilliantly.

The characterisation in Mystery at Maplemead Castle is fantastic. Told in first person narrative by Melody, French has a way of writing that makes you feel as though you are conversing with an old friend. I was drawn in immediately and found it really difficult to put the book down. You can’t help but fall in love with quirky, sugar-addicted Melody, her mother, champagne-swigging grandmother, slightly-scary-but-lovable Marina and sweet, geeky Artie. Then of course there is Lestat; Melody’s food obsessed, farting pug! You could really see yourself having a pint down the pub with Melody and her friends and family. French has also taken great care with the peripheral characters including the ghosts Melody has to try and send back to the other side.

The humour is wickedly funny and starts from the very first page. I love the references to popular culture French uses, demonstrating her sharp wit. There is also a depth to this book and I found myself being really moved by the final chapter. I was also touched by Melody’s experiences of being ‘different’ to everyone else and how this has made her feel throughout her life. French effortlessly combines comedy with poignant moments.

I love everything about Mystery at Maplemead Castle! It is quirky, has great characters, ghosts, a mystery, will-they-won’t-they romance and is pee-your-Wonder-Woman-pants funny! Fantastic…roll on book three in the series!

Published 16 March 2017 by Bookouture.

A huge thank you to Kitty French and Kim Nash at Bookouture for the advance copy and the invite to take part in the blog tour.

Purchase Links –

UK 🇬🇧
US 🇺🇸

Be sure to catch the rest of the hosts on the blog tour




Cover Reveal – Just For The Holidays by Sue Moorcroft

I am delighted to be able to reveal to you the cover for Sue Moorcroft’s next book, Just For The Holidays. Publishing in eBook and paperback on 18th May 2017 by Avon, this is what it is about…

The #1 bestselling author returns for summer! Grab your sun hat, a cool glass of wine, and the only book you need on holiday…

In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.

Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.

But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…

A glorious summer read, for you to devour in one sitting – perfect for fans of Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? And now for that all important cover…

Blog Tour – The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney *Book Review*

Thrilled to be taking part in The Missing Ones blog tour today alongside Shell at Chelle’s Book Reviews. I love discovering a new author and Patricia Gibney is one to look out for in the future. This is a cracking start to the DI Lottie Parker series!

The Blurb

The hole they dug was not deep. A white flour bag encased the little body. Three small faces watched from the window, eyes black with terror.

The child in the middle spoke without turning his head. ‘I wonder which one of us will be next?’

When a woman’s body is discovered in a cathedral and hours later a young man is found hanging from a tree outside his home, Detective Lottie Parker is called in to lead the investigation. Both bodies have the same distinctive tattoo clumsily inscribed on their legs. It’s clear the pair are connected, but how?

The trail leads Lottie to St Angela’s, a former children’s home, with a dark connection to her own family history. Suddenly the case just got personal.

As Lottie begins to link the current victims to unsolved murders decades old, two teenage boys go missing. She must close in on the killer before they strike again, but in doing so is she putting her own children in terrifying danger?

Lottie is about to come face to face with a twisted soul who has a very warped idea of justice.

Fans of Rachel Abbott, Karin Slaughter and Robert Dugoni will be gripped by this page-turning serial killer thriller, guaranteed to keep you reading late into the night.

My Thoughts

The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney is the first in a new crime series featuring DI Lottie Parker. I’m always excited to start a brand new detective serial, so really anticipated this debut novel.

I was hooked from the very start! The prologue, which is set in 1976, is chilling, creepy and unnerving—a great way to start a book—and draws you in immediately. It then switches to December 2014 and we are involved in the first murder. From there we are taken through the eight days of the investigation with Lottie and flashbacks to the past. The Missing Ones moves along at a fast pace with Gibney including teasers at the end of the chapters that leave you hanging and just having to read more.

I really liked DI Lottie Parker and she is character I look forward to seeing more of. She is a tenacious detective who is struggling to juggle her career with her role as a mother to three children. She has an intriguing background and has had her fair share of significant life events which still cause her issues. The relationship between her and fellow detective Mark Boyd is one that I will watch with interest. Gibney has set the ground for Lottie’s development through a series really well.

The Missing Ones is a dark novel that deals with corruption, the attempt to bury disturbing secrets and abuse. I don’t want to say too much as I don’t want to risk giving any of the plot away, but Gibney reaches into the disturbing echelons of Irish and Catholic history which is discomfiting and alarming.

Gibney is a talented writer and, weirdly, I found her description of the first victim’s death rather beautiful. She has created a wonderfully twisting tale that keeps you reading late into the night and the plot progression is flawless. She seamlessly weaves the tale together, combining past and present with great results. A very accomplished debut novel.

The Missing Ones heralds the start of a great new detective series. With a dark and twisting tale, an interesting lead character and wonderful writing this is a book not to be missed. Highly recommended for lovers of crime fiction.

A huge thank you to Patricia Gibney and Bookouture for the advance copy and for the invitation to take part in the blog tour.

Published 16 March 2017 by Bookouture.

Purchase Links

UK 🇬🇧
US 🇺🇸

Be sure to catch the other stops on the blog tour!



Blog Tour – Evie’s Year of Taking Chances by Christie Barlow *Book Review*

I am so pleased to be today’s host on the Evie’s Year of Taking Chances blog tour along with my blogging buddy Kaisha at The Writing Garnet. I was chuffed to bits to be asked to be part of this blog tour as I adore Christie Barlow’s books. Before telling you my thoughts on Christie’s latest novel I will tell you what the book is all about.

The Blurb

It’s Evie’s birthday and the start of a year she’ll never forget. An emotional story of love, friendship and grabbing life by the horns.

Evie’s job has always been her safe haven. As a librarian in the little town of Becton she loses herself in books – after all it’s far easier to read about other people’s problems than set about solving her own.

Then, one birthday, everything is turned upside down. A mysterious parcel containing a beautiful book with a poignant inscription arrives for Evie. It’s the beginning of a new chapter for Evie and she’s inspired to try and find her real mother.

Evie’s search leads her to meet handsome author Noah Jones. Charming and intelligent, Noah seems the perfect catch but what Evie doesn’t realise is that he is hiding something – a key to Evie’s past.

As Evie gets closer to Noah and discovering her mother, she must take a giant leap of faith. Can she embrace the new and make this her year of taking chances? And if she does, will she get her heart broken?

A romantic, funny and poignant story of living life to the full and finding love in the most unlikely of places. Fans of Debbie Johnson and Cathy Bramley will adore this book!

My Thoughts

I have a real soft spot for Christie Barlow’s books and couldn’t wait to get my hands on Evie’s Year Of Taking Chances and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Evie’s Year of Taking Chances begins on her birthday in January. The book loving librarian receives a signed book with a personal message from her favourite author, but she doesn’t know who sent it or how the author knew it was her birthday. It is also the day she decides, after spending her childhood in various foster homes, to take the plunge and try to find her birth mother.

Barlow always produces a novel that is so much more than a romantic comedy. Yes, the romance is there and it had the trademark Barlow wit, but she also always manages to add another layer to her stories. In this case that layer is Evie’s experience as a child in care and the impact it has had on her. Written with emotional acuity and a sensitivity towards her characters, it is clear that Barlow has spent time researching the impact of a life brought up within the care system. She manages to get right to the heart of the issues her character’s face and the affection she has for them shines through.

The characters in Evie’s Year of Taking Chances are just gorgeous. They have that down-to-earth, relatable quality to them and the fact that they are just like me and you make them feel like old friends. You can’t help but get completely immersed within their lives and I was really rooting for Evie. You feel every moment she goes through and she is the sort of person you would love to spend time with in real life.

I did figure out one aspect of the plot but this did not in any way hamper my enjoyment of the book. There were still lots of parts I didn’t see coming and in my opinion this book is as much about the journey Evie takes as it is about discovering the outcome.

I generally veer towards the dark novels, the ones that don’t always have a happy ending with characters you love to hate, but every now and again I need something different. Barlow’s books tick all the boxes in providing me with the warmth, humour and depth of emotions that I sometimes need in my reading. Evie’s Year of Taking Chances is no exception to this. This is a book to get cosy with, a comforting book that, despite the sad parts, lifts your spirits and gives you hope while wrapping you up in a snug cocoon. Barlow pretty much has it nailed when it comes to romantic comedy and women’s fiction and Evie’s Year of Taking Chances is testament to that. Just gorgeous!

A huge thank you to Christie Barlow and Kim Nash for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. This is my honest and unbiased review.

Published on 10 March 2017 by Bookouture. You can purchase a copy of Evie’s Year of Taking Chances via the following links –

UK 🇬🇧
US 🇺🇸

About Christie Barlow

Christie Barlow was born in Cheshire and had a successful career as a civil servant until she decided to trade it in for something more glamorous: ironing, mucking out chickens and horses and chasing a mad cocker spaniel while rearing four children. Christie wrote her debut novel, A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, as an example to her kids about realising their dreams.


Author Influences with Helen Bridgett

I am delighted to be welcoming Helen Bridgett to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books today. Helen’s debut novel The Mercury Travel Club is published tomorrow so a huge happy book birthday for tomorrow. Helen has kindly answered my questions about the books and authors who have influenced her and her writing.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
As a very young child I read Enid Blyton – practically everything she’d written. I loved the fantasy worlds of The Wishing Chair and The Faraway Tree but it was the characters and camaraderie of Mallory Towers and St. Clare’s that really caught my imagination.

Later I was influenced by the texts I had to read for English and French literature. I really enjoyed poetry and still do. I wasn’t particularly fond of Austen or Hardy but I loved Emile Zola. L’Assomoir is still my favourite novel of all time as it was the first that actually made me cry.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
Yes – I was good at it and I absolutely loved it! I’ve always loved reading and the very act of writing – no matter what it is. They are my passions.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I read quite a variety from the thrillers of Nicci French and PD James to the comedy of Carl Hiassen and Sue Townsend and the gothic of Erin Kelly. Often I’ll have a lighter and darker novel on the go at the same time – picking up the one that suits my mood at the time.

My debut novel falls into a new genre – “mid-lit” – a term coined by Helen Lederer. It’s a comedy about fresh starts and friendships so rather different to my darker reading material!

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I’ve actually started penning a thriller. I have the basic concept but the reveal takes a lot of planning. I didn’t really choose the genre – it just came to me; I had pictured a scenario and the question “what if?” came to mind. After that I had to start writing.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
I’ve always loved writing and have kept a diary since my early teens. I guess I was encouraged by Sue Townsend – she showed that you could convey a message and have a good laugh along the way.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Erin Kelly at the moment.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
The Tales of the City series – because I simply loved the characters and followed their stories throughout the years. I’m still convinced they’re real people!

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Oh yes! Let’s just say that many of my family and friends have inspired either scenes or characters! In particular, at one work karaoke event, I was forced with two other colleagues to get on stage dressed as Bananarama! The worst rendition of “Venus” you have ever heard!

A huge thank you Helen for taking part and I hope you have a fantastic publication day!

Helen’s debut novel The Mercury Travel Club is out on eBook and paperback on 16 March 2017, published by RedDoor Publishing and is a laugh-out-loud, feel-good book about second chances.

About Helen

Helen Bridgett has always loved books and always loved writing. One year she decided her New Year’s resolution would be “Write a novel to give as a Christmas present”. She spent the year writing and The Mercury Travel Club was born. Helen hails from the North East but now lives in Manchester with her Husband and their Chocolate Labrador Angus. When not writing, Helen can usually be found walking or drinking wine – not usually at the same time.
Helen is currently working on the sequel to The Mercury Travel Club.

Connect With Helen


Twitter: @Helen_Bridgett

Children’s Book Review – Fearne Fairy and the Chocolate Caterpillar by Sarah Hill

The Blurb

It’s April in Whimsy Wood and Fearne’s about to make a new friend! Find out how our new quirky character gets in a sticky situation and how Fearne rescues him, in this 9th chocolatey instalment from the award-winning Whimsy Wood series.

‘I loved it. It was a really charming book’ Bo Griffiths, 8 years.

‘I loved Mustard! His little legs kicking about covered in chocolate was very funny!’ Sadie Gregory, 6 years.

‘Sarah Hill brings Fearne Fairy and the Whimsy Wood folk to life, in a way that children will relate to. The alliteration and onomatopoeia combined with an uplifting and heart-warming story, make this a joy to read.’ Gemma Hodgson, English Coordinator at Wyberton Primary School, Wyberton, Lincolnshire.

‘I like the animals in this book as they make me laugh, especially when they say “C-c-crunching c-c-cucumbers!”‘ Annie Watts, 6 years.

‘I loved this book! It’s great that Fearne is different to other fairies and her awful singing made me laugh!’ Martha Barber, 7 years.

‘The Whimsy Wood folk are timeless characters in the fashion of Potter, Milne and White. In time, The Whimsy Wood series is likely to find it’s place in the lexicon of classic children’s literature.’ Reader’s Favourite, U.S.

My Thoughts

Fearne Fairy and the Chocolate Caterpillar is the 9th book in the Whimsy Wood series written by Sarah Hill and illustrated by Sarah Mauchline. The series is aimed at 5 to 8 year olds and each book is written for a specific month and the flora and fauna throughout reflect this. In this book it is April and this is highlighted with the use of hot cross buns and April showers. Although this is part of a series it works perfectly as a standalone.

For newcomers to Fearne Fairy there is a wonderful introduction to Fearne with a great description of her illustrating her bright and colourful clothing. In her rainbow raincoat and frog-patterned fairy wellies you warm to Fearne immediately. The characters are well thought out with each having their own unique personality and voice making them easily identifiable.

I loved the way this book is written. Hill’s use of alliteration gives the story a rhythm and makes it immediately engaging to the reader. The use of this technique within the character’s names makes them easy for children to remember. Brilliantly written for young readers, I can imagine that any child would be easily captivated by the story. It also has a conversational tone in plcaes making it an ideal book to read aloud to your child. The use of phrases such as ‘splish, splash, splosh’ encourage young, new readers to get involved in the story and I can imagine children saying these phrases loudly. Fearne Fairy and the Chocolate Caterpillar is the perfect length to keep young minds focused.

The humour throughout had me smiling to myself and as an adult I really enjoyed reading this book, so children will adore it and the fact that Fearne needs some practice in her fairy skills. As well as been fun to read, Hill has incorporated an educational element as Fearne learns that caterpillars do not stay caterpillars forever and go through their own magical transformation.

The illustrations throughout are beautiful and match the story and the characters perfectly. They really complement the prose and each has plenty to point out and talk about. The humour throughout the book shines through in the pictures. At the end of the book there is a map for the child to complete to engage them further and keep discussion and thoughts on the story going.

Fearne Fairy and the Chocolate Caterpillar is a real delight to read. It is charming, funny and enchanting and will really appeal to the age range it is aimed at and encourage them to develop their reading skills. Whimsically wonderful!

Published on 2 July 2016 by Abela publishing.

A huge thank you to Sarah Hill for the copy in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Book Review – Miss Christie Regrets by Guy Fraser-Sampson

The Blurb

The second of the Hampstead Murders series finds the team of detectives dealing with corpses at two iconic Hampstead locations. Though the killings are separated by several decades Superintendent Collison is convinced there is a connection between them, and in trying to prove it finds himself caught up in the shadowy world of Special Branch and a cold war drama worthy of John Le Carre.

When Agatha Christie emerges as a key figure in their enquiries the team must find ways to investigate her life in Hampstead, and scramble to identify and secure vital evidence before it is destroyed.

Praised by fellow authors, the Hampstead Murders offer a truly different kind of crime story, speaking to a contemporary audience yet at the same time harking back to the Golden Age of detective fiction. Intelligent, quirky and mannered, they have been described as ‘a love letter to the detective novel’. Above the series hovers Hampstead, a magical village on a hill hauntingly evoked, the elegance of an earlier time, and the elegiac memory of the Queen of Crime herself.

My Thoughts

After thoroughly enjoying Death In Profile, volume one in the Hampstead Murders, I eagerly anticipated the second book Miss Christie Regrets. It was a pleasure to return to the characters in Hampstead’s Serious Crime Time and the pace and tone of Fraser-Sampson’s prose.

Fraser-Sampson has a way of writing that transports you to another era while simultaneously keeping you within the present day. The mix of old-world charm and modern-day workplace political issues makes for a great combination and adds a unique quality not seen in current crime fiction.

When bodies are found at two of Hampstead’s iconic buildings Detective Simon Collison suspects that they are connected despite the deaths being decades apart. The discovery that Agatha Christie may somehow be involved results in a present-day tale with an historical slant.

With murders taking place within Hampstead’s Burgh House and Isokon Building I found myself intrigued about these two settings as well as the connection with Agatha Christie. I found myself resorting to Google to find out more and it became clear that Fraser-Sampson has undertaken careful research in order to be historically accurate. As a fan of historical fiction, I love that Fraser-Sampson has managed to seamlessly combine historical fact with detective fiction. I found myself totally drawn into the story, the characters and their world.

What I really love about these books is the return to the good old-fashioned detective story with the emphasis being on the process of eliminating suspects and evidence finding. Don’t take me wrong by my use of the phrase ‘old-fashioned’ as I mean this in a complimentary way. You get right into the nitty-gritty of the police work, and are constantly trying to piece the evidence together to try and work out who did it. With the addition of tongue-in-cheek moments when Fraser-Sampson refers to detective fiction as being unrealistic, Miss Christie Regrets is both charming and amusing.

Does it work as a standalone novel? Yes it does, however I feel the reader would benefit from reading the first volume, Death In Profile, to have gained knowledge of the characters’ history. I enjoyed spending time with the familiar characters and continue to be interested in how their stories will progress. Fraser-Sampson has given just enough information about Tom Allen to make him a character I want to know more about, and the relationship between Bob Metcalfe, Karen Willis and Peter Collins is a thread in which I am dying to know what the outcome will be. Fraser-Sampson has created interesting characters that easily sustain a series of books.

It’s fair to say that I have developed a real affection for this series and Miss Christie Regrets is a great follow-up to the first. I found it both interesting, charming and, strangely, comforting. If you want a change from your usual crime novel definitely check out the Hampstead Murders. It appeals greatly to my love of the classics and modern crime fiction adding a welcome change within my reading. While I enjoyed the first in the series I have to say I enjoyed Miss Christie Regrets even more, and I look forward to seeing where Fraser-Sampson takes us next.

A huge thank you to Guy Fraser-Sampson and Urbane Publications for my copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Published on 12 January 2017 by Urbane Publications.

Author Influences with Izzy Bayliss

I am pleased to welcome Izzy Bayliss, author of The Girl I Was Before, to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books today to talk about her influences.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
Like a lot of people Enid Blyton kept me enthralled with the Wishing Chair series, Twelve Silver Cups, The Faraway Tree and then Mallory Towers and the Famous Five. I fell in love with the magic of fiction with Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce; it weaved a spell over me. Under the Hawthorn Tree by Marita Conlon McKenna, a story about the plight of 3 children during the Irish potato famine, was the first time a book made me cry. As I got a little older I moved onto horror novels by Christopher Pike. As a teenager I devoured Viriginia Andrews’ books, reading them always felt like I was doing something illicit and Stephen King novels too.
Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I wouldn’t say I was particularly outstanding at English but looking back, I was good at essay writing. I was the girl punching the air whenever we got an essay title for homework. I can remember being asked to read some of my essays aloud to the class so they must have been okay.
What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I love women’s fiction, which is obviously the genre I love to write in. I love an emotional hook in a book and I try to connect with readers in this way in my own writing.
If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I’d love to try historical fiction. I’m not a big TV person but I enjoy a good period drama. I’m addicted to Victoria at the moment. I’d love to try and write in this genre but the level of research required is daunting.
Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
This is a really hard question because I’ve been inspired by so many talented authors. Perhaps Marian Keyes, her books showed me that it was okay to write the way people talk.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Maggie O’Farrell or Marian Keyes would be two authors that I always rush out to buy as soon as they release a book.
Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
Anybody Out There by Marian Keyes. I read it on honeymoon. I laughed and cried and despaired and then laughed again. I adored it and it is my favourite of all Marian’s books. As an author, Marian brings the reader through every emotion.
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
No, I’m glad to say I’ve never walked in to find my husband in bed with another woman (phew…) but I think writers inevitably absorb characteristics of people they know and put them into their writing without even realizing, like the way your friend might flare their nostrils. Sometimes a story you hear on TV or read in a magazine might inspire the seed of a story but basing your story on somebody you know in real life would be risky plus as authors, our job is it make it up – that’s the fun bit!
A huge thank you Izzy for taking part.

When Lily McDermott walks in to find Marc, her husband of just three months in bed with actress Nadia, life as she knows it is over. Lily thinks things can’t get any worse when she sees photos of her husband and his new lover splashed across the glossy magazine pages, but when she loses her job too, she is at her lowest ebb and turns to baking to soothe her soul. Wounded and broken she has to try and pick herself up again with the help of her best friend Frankie and with her encouragement, Lily decides to turn her hobby into a business and sets up Baked With Love. However whatever Lily does, it seems disaster soon ensues and when handsome stranger Sam comes to her rescue, Lily isn’t quite ready to turn her back on her marriage.
Can Lily risk opening her heart again or is she destined to allow Marc to shadow her life forever?

Izzy’s novel The Girl I Was Before is out now!

About Izzy Bayliss

Izzy Bayliss lives in Ireland with her husband, children and their dog. A romantic at heart, she loves nothing more than cosying up in front of the fire with a good book. Her motto is that reality is over-rated and she is happiest staring into space and day-dreaming.

Connect with Izzy


Facebook: @izzybaylissauthor

Twitter: @izzybayliss

Book Review – Everything But The Truth by Gillian McAllister

The Blurb

Everything but the Truth is Gillian McAllister’s stunning breakthrough thriller about deceit, betrayal and one woman’s compulsive need to uncover the truth.
It all started with the email.
Rachel didn’t even mean to look. She loves Jack and she’s pregnant with their child. She trusts him.
But now she’s seen it, she can’t undo that moment. Or the chain of events it has set in motion.
Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn’t Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost?

My Thoughts

I really love a book that makes you think beyond the storyline and Everything But The Truth, the debut novel by Gillian McAllister, is definitely one of those books. It’s going to be pretty tricky to say everything I want to in this review without giving any of the plot away but I will try. This is one of those books you are desperate to discuss with somebody else who has read it!

Everything But The Truth tells the story of Rachel who is pregnant with her first child to Jack; a man she has been in a relationship with for only a short period of time. Rachel begins to discover that the man she is involved with is not who she thinks he is. What follows is a tale of secrets, lies and insecurities which also has a psychological edge to it. Told over two timelines, switching with ease between the present and a year ago, it is told from the perspective of Rachel.

I had a feeling from the outset that I would enjoy this book as McAllister has chosen the following quote by H. Jackson Brown, Jr at the beginning of the book;

‘Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.’

The characters play an important part in this story and through the use of first person narrative the reader is privy to all of Rachel’s innermost feelings and thoughts and, therefore, her flaws. Her back story is drip-fed resulting in a feeling of anticipation throughout the novel. I found myself questioning how much I could rely on Rachel to accurately portray what was going on due to her own nuances. The result is that this is as much a story about the psychological effects of traumatic events as it is gripping domestic noir.

Add to this the moral dilemmas that are presented throughout—which had me constantly mulling over ‘what would I have done?—and McAllister has written a cracker of a psychological thriller that has that slow-burn I love so much. I was desperate to have a conversation about the book with somebody else who had read it to get another person’s perspective and thoughts.

McAllister has also written a gripping and compelling novel. I devoured Everything But The Truth in pursuit of finding out what that truth was and how things would work out for our main character. You are completely pulled into the novel from the very first line and the combination of prose, thought-provoking storylines and in-depth characterisation make this an accomplished debut.

Everything But The Truth is riveting, mentally stimulating and intelligently written; really giving the reader food for thought. It is a book to mull over and discuss. A highly recommended read and if this is anything to go by McAllister has a great career as a writer ahead of her.

Thank you to Gillian McAllister, Penguin Books (Michael Joseph) and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for my honest review.

Published on 9 March 2017 by Penguin Books (Michael Joseph).