Category Archives: Authors A to C

Reviews by authors surname A to C

Blog Tour – Kill Me Twice by Simon Booker *Review and Author Influences*

After really enjoying Simon Booker’s debut thriller Without Trace (read my review HERE), the first in the Morgan Vine series, I was eager to read the next book in the series. I’m really chuffed, therefore, to be on the blog tour for this much anticipated second novel, Kill Me Twice. Not only do I have my review but Simon has also taken part in my Author Influences feature for today’s blog tour post.

The Blurb

Karl Savage is dead.
He must be. His ex, Anjelica, is in prison for murdering him in an arson attack. Multiple forensic experts testified to finding his charred remains.
So when Anjelica begs investigative journalist Morgan Vine to prove her innocence, it seems an impossible task. It doesn’t matter that Karl was abusive. That Anjelica has a baby to care for. That she’s petrified of fire. The whole world knows Karl is dead.
Then he turns up outside Morgan’s window . . .

My Thoughts

Kill Me Twice is the second in the Morgan Vine series following on from Booker’s debut thriller Without Trace. I really enjoyed the first book and really looked forward to this one. While I have the benefit of having read the previous book in the series, Kill Me Twice stands up as a novel that can be read on its own.

What really appealed to me about this series is the fact that Morgan is an investigative journalist rather than a detective which gives this series a different slant and it, therefore, comes from a different perspective. In Kill Me Twice we meet with Morgan following the success of her book Trial and Error: A History of Miscarriages of Justice as she is setting herself up to help those who have been wrongfully convicted. This leads her to assist in the case of Anjelica Fry, a mother currently in prison for the murder of her partner and baby’s father Karl Savage. But is Karl Savage actually dead?

Booker has created great characters for this series. Morgan is an independent, tenacious single mother who will not give up on what she believes to be the truth even when those around her doubt her. Lissa her twenty-year-old daughter again plays a large part in this book. I’m not keen on Lissa, she is not particularly likeable and comes across as a bit of a spoilt brat although I sense a vulnerability about her that I don’t yet fully understand. This adds to the series in that it gives you a contrast of characters and Lissa, while I don’t like her, would be a miss as she adds to the trouble that Morgan faces and I feel that there is more to learn about her.

I always like it when we gain an insight into the antagonist and the writer gives them depth making them a fully rounded character. Booker has written the character of Karl Savage in such a way that while he is utterly despicable you understand why and how he ended up being this way and at points I did feel a degree of sympathy for him. This adds an additional layer to Kill Me Twice.

Kill Me Twice took me on a journey I really wasn’t expecting, I had read the blurb (and actually remembered what the synopsis of the book was, which is pretty amazing for me!) and, I guess, I was expecting a certain plot direction. Kill Me Twice’s trajectory ended up being far, far removed from the average storyline. While Morgan expects to be assisting in a miscarriage of justice case her relationship with Anjelica ends up in her discovering a seedy underground business that relies on vulnerable women to propel it forward and, ultimately, becomes very personal.

Booker’s use of short, punchy sentences in the first chapter are incredibly effective in building up tension, a sense of unease and ensures that the atmosphere and tone of the book is set. You just know that Booker is going to take you to some dark places.

A complex story that is well written and well plotted, Kill Me Twice takes you on one hell of a ride. The ending shocked me and had me muttering ‘oh my God’ to the book. A deliciously dark read that has me eagerly awaiting the third in the series.

Published on 24 August 2017 by Bonnier Zaffre.

Simon now takes over to tell you about his author influences.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I was hooked on Sherlock Holmes from the age of 10.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
My ‘best’ subject. I wrote and performed plays too, which gave me my first taste of applause. Been hooked ever since.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I read a lot of crime but it can become a busman’s holiday.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I’ve written rom coms for TV (as well as crime), including Perfect Strangers starring Rob Lowe and Anna Friel. A good rom com is a work of genius, but they’re few and far between, eg, When Harry Met Sally and The Apartment.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
Conan Doyle, for the reason above.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Sarah Waters is unmissable.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
More films than books (see above). If I could have written When Harry Met Sally, Little Miss Sunshine or Sideways I would die a happy man.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
My heroine Morgan Vine is obsessed by miscarriages of justice, and so am I. True story: my ex wife is now married to a man who spend 26 years in a US prison for a murder he didn’t commit.

Thank you for taking part Simon!

You can get a FREE Morgan Vine short story and find out more about my books Kill Me Twice and Without Trace at simonbooker.com

Follow me on Twitter @simonbooker

A huge thank you to Simon Booker and Imogen at Bonnier Zaffre for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Follow the rest of the tour…

 

Review – Our Country Nurse by Sarah Beeson and Amy Beeson

The Blurb

All seems tranquil as newly qualified Health Visitor Sarah motors into a small Kentish hilltop village in her new green mini. She’s barely out of the car when she’s called to assist the midwife with a bride who’s gone into labour in the middle of her own wedding reception. And so her adventures begin…

As a health visitor Nurse Sarah is as green as grass but she puts her best foot into wellies and braves the mad dogs, killer ganders and muddy tracks of the farming community. Despite set-backs young Sarah is determined to help the mums she meets, from struggling young mothers in unmodernised farmhouses, to doyennes of the county dinner party set who slave over stuffed olive hors-d’oeuvres.

Village life in 1970s isn’t always quite the Good Life Sarah’s been expecting; her attempts at self-sufficiency and cider making lead to drunk badgers and spirited house parties – but will it be the clergyman, the vet or the young doctor that win Sarah’s heart. During her first year in Kent, Nurse Sarah Hill get stuck in – reuniting families and helping mums in the midst of community full of ancient feuds, funny little ways and just a bit of magic.

My Thoughts

Our Country Nurse is quite different from the genre of books I normally choose to read, but I’m always happy to broaden my horizons and after reading so many crime/thriller books recently I was ready for a change. As they say ‘a change is as good as a rest’ and Our Country Nurse was certainly a welcome break and perfect for a lighter summer read.

The story follows the true experiences of health visitor Sarah Beeson in 1975 as she moves from London to Totley village in Kent. Our Country Nurse is the follow up book to The New Arrival, however, it works well as a standalone. With a new setting and, therefore, new characters you do not feel as though you are missing any threads of the story.

I really liked the characters within the book. Sarah is a fairly young health visitor and her compassion for the job shines through. She is the kind of health visitor you would love to have visiting you and your child – non-judgemental, warm, full of appropriate and good advice, and caring. I also enjoyed the mix of periphery characters; from the glamorous Hermione to the somewhat sour Mrs Jefferies.

While the move from London to a quieter village is a big change for Sarah, and would appear on the surface to be, perhaps, an easier option. However, she meets a whole mix of characters in the families she works with who each face their own issues and difficulties. As an ex social worker who used to work alongside health visitors, it was particularly interesting to me to see how things in relation to child protection procedures have changed. I loved the way in which Sarah was able to assist her families in a timely manner around issues such as housing, without being as strangled by the current procedures I suspect current day health visitors are affected by. The setting and the time period gave me a real sense of the community within the village which appears to be, sadly, lacking in today’s cities and this made Our Country Nurse a really enjoyable read. Not everything is rosy though, as Sarah discovers, and difficulties within families alongside attitudes of the time ensure that Sarah is kept busy and challenged. Being transported back to the seventies also brought back fond memories (and less fond memories when it came to the state of some of the housing Sarah’s families reside in). Beeson has portrayed the era really well.

Our Country Nurse is a warm and enjoyable read with Beeson mixing heart-warming stories with the more moving stories in a way that works really well. Those who enjoy Call the Midwife I have no doubts will enjoy this book.

Published on 25 August 2016 by Harper Element.

A huge thank you to Sarah and Amy Beeson for my copy in exchange for my unbiased and honest review.


#AroundTheUKIn144Books book 9. County: Kent

Review – Blood Sisters by Jane Corry

The Blurb

THREE LITTLE GIRLS SET OFF TO SCHOOL ONE SUNNY MORNING.
WITHIN AN HOUR, ONE OF THEM IS DEAD.

Two women. Two versions of the truth.
Kitty lives in a care home. She can’t speak properly, and she has no memory of the accident that put her here. At least that’s the story she’s sticking to.
Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. When a job in a prison comes up she decides to take it – this is her chance to finally make things right.
But someone is watching Kitty and Alison.
Someone who wants revenge for what happened that sunny morning in May.
And only another life will do…

My Thoughts

Having loved Jane Corry’s debut novel My Husband’s Wife I eagerly anticipated her second novel. The wait is over and Blood Sisters is out now. Corry has again written a compelling domestic noir that keeps you guessing until the very end.

Blood Sisters is told over two timelines – one which takes place in 2001 and the other which takes place from 2016 onwards. Told from the perspectives of Alison and Kitty, Alison in first person narrative and Kitty in third, you get unprecedented access into the thoughts and feelings of the two main characters. Corry’s writing talent really shines through as she makes the voice of both characters completely individual. She captures both of their personalities brilliantly, but what really stood out for me was how she portrayed Kitty. Locked into a body which doesn’t allow her to walk or express herself verbally following a brain injury caused by an accident, Corry portrays her thoughts, feelings and frustrations perfectly which results in the reader really feeling her emotions and how irritating it must be to have fluid thoughts but be unable to get them out.

There is always more than one side to a story. As the tale unfolds through the perspectives of both Alison and Kitty, we are never sure which version is correct especially as Kitty has lost her memory. Readers of my reviews will know how much I adore an unreliable narrator and Corry pulls this off with skill. We know an accident happened when the protagonists were young but what is the truth behind how the accident occurred? Corry constantly keeps you guessing as to the truth as she weaves a tale that twists and turns.

Alison takes a job as artist in residence at an open prison and her life begins to unravel as she begins to receive anonymous letters, which make it clear she is being watched, both at work and home. Alison has a secret and the letters she is receiving cause her concerns that it is about to be revealed.

Kitty is harbouring her own secrets about that day in 2001, secrets that are never likely to be revealed due to her inability to communicate … or are they as securely stored as we think?

Blood Sisters is a tale of rivalry between siblings and what the consequences can be when resentment constantly simmers just below the surface. All of the jealousies that can occur between siblings – especially half-siblings with very different personalities – are played out to maximum effect. It is also the story of guilt and the impact it can have on your life

You never know where Blood Sisters is going to take you as Corry guides you through a twisting plot in which nothing is ever quite as it seems. A great follow up to My Husband’s Wife, Corry has firmly established herself as an accomplished author of the domestic noir.

Published on 29 June 2017 by Penguin.

A huge thank you to Jane Corry and Penguin Books for my advance copy.

You can read my review of My Husband’s Wife HERE.

 

Blog Tour – Each Little Lie by Tom Bale *Review*

Regular readers of Bloomin’ Brilliant Books will know that I’m a big fan of Tom Bale’s books and I’m de-bloody-lighted to be kicking off the blog tour for his latest novel Each Little Lie with the lovely Chelle at Chelle’s Book Reviews.  It is publication day today so a huge happy book birthday to Tom and the Bookouture team!

Firstly what is Each Little Lie about?

The Blurb

One split second can destroy your life forever.

Single mother Jen Cornish is just trying to hold things together for the sake of her seven-year-old son Charlie. Until the day when she does an impulsive good deed to help a neighbour, setting off a terrifying chain of events that quickly spirals out of control…

When she is arrested for a crime she didn’t commit, Jen quickly starts to wonder if someone is playing a cruel game with her – or is she losing her mind?

Desperate to clear her name with the police, she must first untangle a chilling web of lies. But someone is watching her every move – and it isn’t just Jen who is in danger.

They’re watching her child as well.

An unputdownable psychological thriller with plenty of twists that will keep you hooked until the very last page…

Sounds good right? So what did I think?

My Thoughts

When Jen Cornish takes action to help out a neighbour who has lost her keys, little does she know that this split-second decision will change her life beyond recognition. Bale has the ability to make an everyday, mundane event into a terrifying experience, twisting the ordinary into the extraordinary in a way that makes you look again at those little decisions you make in your life. In Each Little Lie Bale uses this to its full advantage.

Bale’s protagonist in Each Little Lie is Jen; recently separated and going through a divorce, and single mum to seven-year-old Charlie. Credit to Bale for creating a likeable and believable character and effectively making her voice, thoughts and feelings female in tone. I completely forgot that the author was male! I warmed to her immediately, could empathise with her completely and was on her side throughout the whole journey. When she is arrested for a crime she did not commit, Bale gets to the very heart of a fear that all of us, at some point, have probably thought ‘what if?’ about, especially in the wake of television programmes such as ‘Making a Murderer’.

You are pulled into the story immediately and the plot and pace doesn’t let you go until you have reached the shocking climax. It has been a while since I last really devoured a book, but I read Each Little Lie within a couple of days as I just had to know what would happen. Just as you think the story is wrapping up, Bale takes it up another notch with unexpected twists that you don’t see coming.

Within the storyline there is the premise that money can pretty much buy you anything, including manipulation of the justice system. Full of particularly odious characters, Bale had my teeth set on edge and my skin crawling at some of their actions. He does not hold back when creating that cringe factor, letting it rip for maximum effect. This makes for creepy reading that gets right under your skin!

Each Little Lie has you perched on the edge of your seat throughout, and by the end of the book your nails are bitten down to the quick. Bale is a real master of the thriller, twisting everyday life into the horrifying with a plot that hurtles along at an unprecedented rate. Brilliant!

A huge thank you to Tom Bale and Kim Nash at Bookouture for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Published on 29 June 2017 by Bookouture. You can purchase your copy here:

UK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2qUMvVj
US 🇺🇸 http://amzn.to/2qU9ORi

Follow the rest of the tour…

 

Blog Tour – I’ll Eat When I’m Dead by Barbara Bourland *Review*

I’m delighted to be today’s host on the blog tour for Barbara Bourland’s debut novel I’ll Eat When I’m Dead.

The Blurb

RAGE Fashion Book is the world’s most dynamic, ambitious magazine.
Its editors ­- like Cat Ono – have the power to change minds and the market.
They’re savvy, sisterly and polished to perfection. Even the one found dead in her office.
Everyone thinks Hillary starved to death – but Cat knows her friend’s dieting wasn’t a capital P problem. If beauty kills, it’d take more than that. Hot-headed and fiercely feminist, Cat’s sure she can match the investigating skills of Detective Mark Hutton, solve the case, and achieve sartorial fulfillment.
But going undercover, Cat’s in over her head, and soon becomes snared in a very stylish web of drugs, sex, lies and moisturizer that will change her look – and outlook – forever.
Cat’s about to find out what it really means to be a fashion victim.

My Thoughts

Beauty can be deadly … quite literally in Hillary Whitney’s case. When the editor is found dead in one of the work rooms at Rage Fashion Book, the magazine she works for, a heart attack caused by near starvation is found to be the cause. However, friend and colleague Cat Ono suspects otherwise.

I have mixed feelings about this book, as somebody who doesn’t read magazines and has no interest in fashion and beauty, I’ll Eat When I’m Dead wasn’t an obvious choice of book for me. I was drawn in by the promise of biting humour and the investigation of a death. I did find some of the book amusing with its sardonic look at the fashion and publishing industry but I would have preferred more emphasis on the suspicious death of Hillary.

Cat Ono, the main character, is well constructed and likeable. A feminist at heart, she dislikes the way in which women are used as commodities but sadly finds herself pulled into this position. I loved the tongue-in-cheek humour with the names given to Rage’s photo shoots making me giggle. I’ll Eat When I’m Dead’s underlying theme is that of the murky side of the fashion industry and consumerism and Bourland highlights the impact of globalisation and how we, women particularly, are perceived to be worthy by the products they own, the clothes they wear and the way they look. The issues of bulimia are raised along with cocaine use and fad diets, all issues you would expect to see within the world of fashion.

Bourland has cleverly created a sardonic look at the world of fashion, however I would have liked more focus on the death of Hillary. While she captures the world of fashion and the pressures of working within a magazine environment really well, I did struggle to get into I’ll Eat When I’m Dead. I don’t think this is a reflection on the book or Bourland’s writing, but more about me and my tastes.

If you are interested in fashion and enjoy sardonic humour then give I’ll Eat When I’m Dead a read. The novel has a lot to say about some pertinent issues which I liked and parts of it made me laugh, however I was expecting more about the death and the investigation and the focus being on the fashion industry, sadly, meant it didn’t hold my attention.

Published on 18 May 2017 by Riverrun.

A huge thank you to Barbara Bourland and Alainna at Quercus for my advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Catch the rest of the tour…

 

Review – The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite

The Blurb

Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village.

Nothing can shake her happiness – until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home.

Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk? 

As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger…

A completely gripping psychological thriller with a twist you won’t see coming. Fans of The Girl on the Train, The Sister and Before I Let You In will be captivated.

My Thoughts

Melanie and Jacob Oak along with their teenage daughter, Beth, appear to be the perfect family. Happily married and living in a small Lincolnshire village, the life they knew comes crashing down when Beth goes missing. The discovery that Melanie didn’t know her daughter as well as she thought she did makes The Darkest Lies an absorbing read.

Copperthwaite tells the story through Melanie, Beth and a third voice. Copperthwaite pulls off the multi-points of view brilliantly, Melanie’s anguish comes through and as she addresses her daughter via second person narrative throughout, you really get the sense of her loss, the despair she feels and her guilt for not protecting her daughter. I did go through a mix of emotions about Melanie, swinging from feeling deep empathy for her to wanting to shake her, but under similar circumstances we never know how we would react. Copperthwaite clearly distinguishes between Melanie and Beth’s voices, capturing teenage thoughts and expressions really well. And then there is the malevolent voice, speaker unknown, that sends a shiver down your spine!

I adored the sense of space in The Darkest Lies. The marshlands and flatness of Lincolnshire add atmosphere amongst the pages with Copperthwaite using them to maximum impact. The prologue blew me away with prose that is both dark and beautiful. It sets the tone of the book perfectly and I found myself reading it several times to savour the words on the page.

The Darkest Lies is an absorbing and compelling thriller that careens through the web of lies held by almost everyone in the village, as Melanie seeks to discover the truth about what happened to her daughter. This is also a novel about the unravelling of a mother in a desperate situation and is, at times, heartbreaking. There is a rawness to the emotions contained within and the reader is involved every step of the way. Copperthwaite’s descriptions of grief are eloquently and beautifully written.

Engrossing, moving, wonderfully written and with twists you don’t see coming, The Darkest Lies is a wonderful read.

Published on 12 May 2017 by Bookouture.

Thanks to Barbara Copperthwite, Bookouture and Netgalley for my copy in exchange of my review.


#AroundTheUKIn144Books Challenge Book 5:  County – Lincolnshire

Blog Tour – Want You Gone by Chris Brookmyre *Review*

Very, very excited to be on the Want You Gone by Chris Brookmyre blog tour today and sharing my thoughts on his latest book. I LOVED his last book Black Widow and could not wait to get my mitts on this book. Anyway, on to what Want You Gone is about and my thoughts on it…

The Blurb

What if all your secrets were put online?
Sam Morpeth is growing up way too fast, left to fend for a younger sister with learning difficulties when their mother goes to prison and watching her dreams of university evaporate. But Sam learns what it is to be truly powerless when a stranger begins to blackmail her online, drawing her into a trap she may not escape alive.
Who would you turn to?
Meanwhile, reporter Jack Parlabane has finally got his career back on track, but his success has left him indebted to a volatile source on the wrong side of the law. Now that debt is being called in, and it could cost him everything.

What would you be capable of?
Thrown together by a mutual enemy, Sam and Jack are about to discover they have more in common than they realise – and might be each other’s only hope.

My Thoughts

After absolutely loving the last book in the Jack Parlabane series, Black Widow, I could not wait to get my hands on this book. I have to admit to being new to Chris Brookmyre and the series, however, I intend to rectify this (when I find the time!) and read the rest of the books. Want You Gone did not disappoint and I loved this book. If you haven’t read the rest of the books in the series, don’t worry you can easily pick this book up and read it as a standalone.

I was gripped immediately. The prologue is dark, brooding and leaves you with so many questions you want answering you cannot help but read on. The compelling voice that kick starts the main body of the book after the prologue drags you in further, and what follows is a fast-paced, suspenseful, relevant thriller with another great main character alongside Parlabane.

I don’t want to talk about the plot too much as you need to discover this book for yourself, but I will say that Brookmyre has crafted a current novel which deals with cybercrime, hackers and corporate greed. As someone who is wary of social media, Want You Gone had me checking my PC security! Brookmyre has clearly researched the issues of internet security and hacker groups meticulously as it comes across as authentic. The plot is complex but expertly put together and full of jaw-dropping twists and turns.

Brookmyre has a knack of creating complex characters who leave you with a combination of feelings towards them, and Sam Morpeth in Want You Gone is no exception. She is a well-rounded character with a depth that makes her believable, and this is one of the joys of the two books in this series that I have read. He manages to incorporate these layers without slowing down the pace. You can’t help but like Jack Parlabane, he has had his fair share of troubles and just as he seems to be getting back on his feet, he is thrust back into a complex situation that threatens his well-being.

Want You Gone is an absolute cracker and this has put Brookmyre firmly on my list of favourite authors. A nail-biting, tense and twisty book that needs to be on your TBR pile!

Published on 20 April 2017 by Little, Brown.

A huge thank you to Chris Brookmyre, Little, Brown and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for my review. Thank you to Grace at Little, Brown for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Make sure to catch the rest of the bloggers on the tour.

Blog Tour – We All Begin As Strangers by Harriet Cummings *Review*

I’m so pleased to be on the We All Begin As Strangers by Harriet Cummings blog tour. Regular readers of the blog will know how much I love to discover a debut author so I was delighted when I was asked to take part in this. Today I’m sharing with you my thoughts on this book, but first what is it about?

The Blurb

It’s 1984, and summer is scorching the ordinary English village of Heathcote.

What’s more, a mysterious figure is slipping into homes through back doors and open windows. Dubbed ‘The Fox’, he knows everything about everyone – leaving curious objects in their homes, or taking things from them.
When beloved Anna goes missing, the whole community believes The Fox is responsible.
But as the residents scramble to solve the mystery of Anna’s disappearance, little do they know it’s their darkest secrets The Fox is really after…
Inspired by a real events, and with a brilliant cast of characters, WE ALL BEGIN AS STRANGERS is a beautiful debut novel you’ll want to recommend to everyone.
If you loved THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP by Joanna Cannon, ELIZABETH IS MISSING by Emma Healey and THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY by Rachel Joyce, you’ll adore this wonderful British debut novel.

My Thoughts

We All Begin As Strangers is the debut novel by Harriet Cummings. Set in the 1980s it centres around a small village in the Chilterns, the inhabitants of which are experiencing break-ins by someone they have nicknamed ‘The Fox’. Nothing of value is taken from the homes but, for obvious reasons, it unnerves the residents. When a much-loved resident of the village, Anna, goes missing, however, all fingers point towards her being kidnapped by The Fox.

Cummings was inspired to write this book by real events that took place in the 80s. A person the newspapers dubbed ‘The Fox’ was breaking into houses in villages across the Chilterns, but not stealing anything. The story of the real Fox is more sinister as he committed rapes during his reign of terror.

Told from the perspective of four of the village’s residents who spent time with Anna, We All Begin As Strangers is more than the mystery of a missing girl and a strange intruder. It is a story about loneliness, trust, secrets and the idiosyncrasies of human beings. Deloris is the dissatisfied newly-wed; Brian, the village police officer whose personal life is not straightforward; Jim is the local clergyman who harbours a secret from his past and Stan manages the local supermarket and struggles with a part of himself he can’t tell anyone about.

Anna is the villager everybody loves – regular church-goer, unassuming and quiet – the village is rocked when she disappears. Curtains twitch as each resident becomes suspicious of the others. How well do they really know each other? Could one of them be The Fox? As secrets and histories are unfurled, it would appear that nobody is as they seem. The Fox is integral to those secrets coming to light and one by one they get to know each other better, although not necessarily with a positive outcome for some.

Cummings captures what I imagine life in a small village where everybody knows everybody would be like although, as we discover, we often only know the part that the person wants us to see. Cummings is a great writer and has crafted a plot that is carefully put together. I have to admit to having mixed feelings about We All Begin As Strangers through the course of my reading with moments of loving the book to moments of not being sure if I actually liked it, and if I’m honest I can’t put my finger on why. The ending, however, blew me away and led to me having a completely different view of the novel as a whole. The idea behind We All Begin As Strangers fascinates me and the ending left me feeling satisfied and wanting to read it again to see what I would perceive differently.
This is not a fast-paced novel as it centres around the characters, their lives and feelings in the midst of an awful event. It relies on an interest from the reader in the quirks and nuances of human behaviour and village life alongside the need to get to the bottom of who The Fox is and the motives behind their behaviour.

I think We All Begin As Strangers will have a mixed reaction from readers. It is a book I appreciated a lot more on finishing, and it is one of those books that makes you think over what you have read. It is a book that, for me, warrants discussion during the course of reading it and would, therefore, make a great book for a reading group. It has certainly left its mark on me and I look forward to what Cummings brings to us in the future.

Published on 20 April 2017 by Orion.

About the Author

Harriet is a novelist and copywriter with a background in history of art.

She currently lives in Leamington Spa, UK, with her husband and springer spaniel.

A huge thank you to Virginia at Orion Books and Harriet Cummings for my advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Catch the rest of the fab bloggers on the rest of the 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 🇬🇧http://amzn.to/2j4p7jt
US 🇺🇸http://amzn.to/2jTXxFE

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.

https://www.facebook.com/ChristieJBarlow

https://twitter.com/ChristieJBarlow

www.christiebarlow.com

 

Blog Tour – One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis *Book Review*

I love discovering new authors, so was delighted to be asked to take part in the blog tour for One Little Mistake the debut psychological thriller by Emma Curtis. Today I’m kicking off the tour with my review, but first will tell you what the book is about…

The Blurb

Vicky Seagrave is blessed: three beautiful children, a successful, doting husband, great friends and a job she loves. She should be perfectly happy.

When she risks everything she holds dear on a whim, there’s only one person she trusts enough to turn to.

But she’s about to learn that one mistake is all it takes; that is you’re careless with those you love, you don’t deserve to keep them…

My Thoughts

Relationships, motherhood and trust all feature heavily in Emma Curtis’ debut psychological thriller One Little Mistake…and with friends like Amber Collins, who needs enemies?

When Vicky makes a split-second decision to do something she wouldn’t normally do her life tumbles into a spiral of deceit and cover-ups. Turning to her best friend for help and support she begins to discover that her friend maybe isn’t as trust-worthy as she first thought.

Vicky, it would appear, has it all. A great marriage to Tom, three lovely children, gorgeous home, good job and a close best friend in Amber. However, scratch beneath the surface and, despite having a seemingly charmed life, all is not as well as it seems. Overwhelmed by her third, unplanned child, Vicky makes rash decisions that come back to bite her in more ways than she could ever imagine. Vicky is a normal woman with a normal life that you can identify with. While not agreeing with Vicky’s actions, I empathised with her and One Little Mistake would be a great choice for a reading group as there are a lot of issues to discuss and mull over.

And then there is Vicky’s ‘best friend’ Amber. In Amber, Curtis has created a complex, unlikeable character. She is that woman who we have all probably at some point met who has an agenda and yet people appear blind to it. Undoubtedly manipulative and jealous Curtis has, however, made her more than a simple ‘bad guy’ by paying attention to her back story and adding context to her behaviour. I did find myself having a degree of sympathy for her, however, was left wondering at the end if her version of events could be relied on.

You can’t help but be pulled into this story and it makes for a gripping read. For me, the joy in One Little Mistake was seeing Vicky’s slow realisation that her best friend is not what or who she thought she was and the ways in which Amber manipulates those around her. Curtis’ portrayal of this is realistic, especially with Vicky who has certain feelings about Amber’s behaviour at the start and yet dismisses them as being her over-reacting.

Switching seamlessly between past and present, the tale unfolds in the current setting of 2010 with glimpses of 1992. Curtis uses first person narrative and third person narrative to great effect, occasionally switching between the two within a chapter to clearly mark the characters and their experiences. Curtis is adept at building up the tension which inevitably results in a dramatic conclusion while also taking you by surprise.

A riveting page-turner of a book, Curtis has written a great debut novel that has all the elements you want from a psychological thriller. With thought-provoking themes a realistic situation and a shocking ending, I thoroughly enjoyed One Little Mistake and look forward to reading more by this author.

Thank you to Emma Curtis and Rosie Margesson at Pengiun Random House for the advance copy in exchange for my review and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

Published on ebook on 23 February 2017 by Transworld Digital and paperback on 15 June 2017 by Black Swan publishing.

Be sure to catch the rest of the stops on the blog tour…