Space Hopper by Helen Fisher #BookReview

The blurb …

‘As much as I love and need my husband, over the past few months I’ve realised something important. I can’t tell Eddie what’s been happening, no matter how much I want to. Not because he won’t believe me, but because he might.

And if Eddie believes me, he’ll try to stop me’.

Faye knows she is lucky. She has two beautiful daughters, a caring husband, close friends. The only thing that is missing is her mother, Jeanie, who died a long time ago. It is a loss that Faye feels ever more keenly as her own children grow older. Although her grief is always there, she has learned to keep it locked away.

And then something extraordinary happens, something that might allow her to speak to her mother again.

Faced with the chance to finally ask her mother all the questions she never could, Faye finds it impossible to let go of the past and live in the present. But does she really need to choose between the two? If making that choice means saying a final goodbye to her mother, Faye will try anything to hold on to both.

My thoughts …

‘Take my hand and jump with me’

I was thrilled to receive an early copy of Space Hopper, which is Simon & Schuster’s lead debut for 2021 and I can see why because I loved it!

The whole concept of this book really piqued my interest, imagine having the chance of going back in time to see a loved one, to talk to them, to tell them things you wished you had said or to get answers to your questions. A lot of us would give anything to do that and it really did tug at my heartstrings right from the blurb.

Briefly, the main character in this book is thirty-eight year old Faye who tells her story directly to the reader and her narrative was quite unlike anything I’ve read before, so incredibly poignant. Faye’s mum passed away when she was eight-years-old leaving a huge whole in Faye’s life. One day she’s looking through her attic and as she steps into an old Space Hopper box she is transported back to Christmas 1977 when she was six and her mum was still alive. Here begins her adventure into time travel. She then finds herself torn between two worlds because she is desperate to find out more about her beloved long lost mother but at the same time terrified of not making it back to her husband and daughters.

In the present day Faye’s husband, Eddie, is training to become a member of the clergy and it was such a powerful theme of the book that Faye was struggling to understand his calling and unwavering belief in God, and would he believe in her travels to the past, it was such an interesting exploration of faith and belief.

I think this is one of the most meaningful and insightful books I have read for a long time. Insightful as to feelings of loss and grief but also in relation to Faye’s best friend Louis who is blind. The author used to work for the RNIB and her experience shines through in Louis’ character and really made me think about what it’s like to be blind from birth, it really was amazing to read about how Louis ‘sees’ the world and I thought he was a wonderful character.

In fact all the characters were brilliant and the interactions and dialogue between them was so natural at one point I felt that I was actually sat with Faye and her husband having drinks and playing cards it was so convincing, while others left me covered in goosebumps they were so realistic.

As the story progresses it becomes more intense and I was glued to the book eager to find out how things would pan out for Faye. I had my theories and they were all wrong, but let me just say that the ending left me open mouthed, it was fantastic and I highly recommend pre-ordering a copy!

About the author …

Helen Fisher spent her early life in America, but grew up mainly in Suffolk where she now lives with her two children. She studied psychology at Westminster University and Ergonomics at UCL and worked as a senior evaluator in research at RNIB. Space Hopper is her first novel.

You can follow Helen on Instagram @helenfisher_author and Twitter @HFisherAuthor

Thank you so much to Jess Barrett at Simon & Schuster for my gifted copy.

Thanks for reading!

🧡

Rescue Me by Sarra Manning #RescueMeBlogTour

I’m so pleased to be taking part in this blog tour today. Thank you so much to Hodder & Stoughton for the invite and for my gifted copy of the book, I absolutely loved it!

The blurb …

Margot doesn’t have time for love. Will is afraid to love’

And neither of them are expecting to fall in love with Blossom; a gentle Staffy with a tragic past, a belly made for rubbing and a head the size of a football.

After their first meeting at the rescue centre, both Margot and Will want to adopt Blossom so reluctantly agree to share custody. But Will’s obsession for micro-managing and clear cut boudnaries and Margot’s need to smother Blossom with affection, means that soon they have a very confused and badly behaved dog on their hands.

Can they put their differences aside to become successful ‘co-pawrents’ and maybe even friends? And meanwhile, does Blossom have plans of her own?

My thoughts …

This book was an absolute delight!

Margot is fed up of being let down by the men in her life, including her recalcitrant cat Percy, and at the age of thirty-six, knows that she doesn’t have time to waste on non-committal men any longer, so she decides to channel all her love into a rescue dog.

Will is on a break from his high powered career after recovering from a nervous breakdown and thinks that volunteering at an animal shelter with help him forge the connections that are lacking in his life.

When they both fall in love with rescue dog Blossom they reluctantly come to an arrangement to share her care, on a weekly rota. Will and Margot don’t particularly like each other but can’t bear the thought of letting Blossom go. This clever little dog knows how to work the situation to her advantage and soon has them both eating out of her paws. As her behaviour starts to deteriorate they seek the help of a dog trainer and Margot and Will slowly start to become friends.

I thoroughly enjoyed this heartwarming book and loved following Will and Margot on their individual journeys. I thought the characters were so well drawn and I particularly liked Will’s story, his family and his personal development and how Blossom helped teach him how to love again.

This is not your average ‘rom-com’ it is beautifully written, whip smart, touching, relatable and so funny – especially Percy’s antics and the reference to Kong dog toys – if you know, you know!

This really is a wonderful story especially for dog lovers, like myself. I could relate completely to the way Margot and Will fell in love with Blossom and how easy it is to go gaga over our furry friends!

It’s one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read for a long time, which left me smiling and having a little happy cry, and I would highly recommend it!

P.S. It was also lovely to read the author’s note ‘In Memoriam’ where Sarra tells us about her inspiration for Blossom, the beautiful late Miss Betsy ‘You can’t buy love, but you can rescue it’ ❤️

Rescue Me will be published by Hodder & Stoughton on 21st January 2021

About the author …

Sarra Manning has been a voracious reader for over forty years and a prolific author and journalist for twenty five.

Her seven novels, which have been translated into fifteen different languages include Unsticky, You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me, The House of Secrets and The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp.

Sarra has also written over fifteen YA novels, and light-hearted romantic comedies under a pseudonym.

She started her writing career on Melody Maker and Just Seventeen, has been editor of ElleGirl and What to Wear and has also contributed to The Guardian, ELLE, Grazia, Stylist, Fabulous, Stella, You Magazine, Harrper’s Bazaar and is currently the Literary Editor of Red magazine.

Sarra has also been a Costa Book Awards judge and has been nominated for various writing awards herself.

She lives in London surrounded by piles and piles of books.

Follow Sarra on Twitter @sarramanning and Instagram @sarra_manning

Follow the tour …

You can read more fabulous reviews of Rescue Me here …

Thanks for reading!

❤️

For When I’m Gone by Rebecca Ley

I have a real gem for you today. I absolutely loved this book and as I started it on New Year’s Eve and finished it on New Years Day, I don’t know whether it’s my favourite book of 2020 or 2021 or both! 

The blurb …

Sylvia knows she’s running out of time. Very soon, she will exist only in the memories of those who loved her most and the pieces of her life she’s left behind. 

So she begins to write her husband a handbook for when she’s gone, somewhere to capture the small moments of ordinary, precious happiness in their married lives. From raising their wild, loving son, to what to give their gentle daughter on her eighteenth birthday – it’s everything she should have told him before it was too late. 

But Sylvia also has a secret, one that she’s saved until the very last pages. And it’s a moment in her past that could change everything.

My thoughts …

Please don’t let the subject matter of this book put you off because you think it’ll be too sad. I have to admit that I was quite apprehensive about reading this one because I was worried that I would give myself a migraine from all the crying – I am very emotional! But I was so pleasantly surprised because this book is absolutely so much more than that. Yes it made me cry, but it also made me smile and left me in awe!

It’s a real page turner for a start, as it is brilliantly constructed via three timelines or perspectives, Sylvia’s manual ‘For When I’m Gone’, ‘Then’ and ‘Now’ which is brilliant because it breaks up the more emotional parts of the book. 

The book’s ‘Then’ chapters take us back in time to see how Sylvia and her husband Paul first met, their courtship and marriage and when their children came along, which I really enjoyed. Whilst ‘Now’ focuses on Paul and the children getting used to life without Sylvia around after she very sadly dies from breast cancer.

The chapters ‘Sylvia’s Manual’ are written from Sylvia’s perspective to Paul and covers everything he needs to know, from the kids’ favourite cheese to the prospect of him finding a new partner. These were definitely the most emotional chapters for me as Sylvia tells us her thoughts and feelings about her illness, her memories, her love for Paul and her hopes for their children’s futures. One thing to note is that the author doesn’t actually write about the event of Sylvia’s death which I thought was a good decision because I think it would have been too harrowing.

What I found most interesting about this book is that we get to know Sylvia ‘warts and all’, as a flawed character just like any one of us, she’s not glorified or portrayed as a saint because she’s ill or dying. She is a fascinating character with serious personal issues and complex relationships, and I loved getting to know her.

I felt that this story really spoke to me as a woman, wife and mother, about my hopes and fears and even just everyday life, it was so well observed and perceptive. I’m blown away that the author has taken one of my greatest fears in life and turned it into an achingly beautiful, touching, and uplifting story. 

I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

About the author …

Rebecca Ley is a journalist, writing for various newspapers including The Times and the Guardian. She is a graduate of the Faber Academy and lives in London with her husband and three children. For When I’m Gone is her first novel.

Follow Rebecca on twitter @rebeccahelenley or go to www.rebeccaley.com

I really hope that Rebecca is writing again because I want to read everything that she writes! No pressure 😂

Thanks for reading!

❤️

Victoria Park by Gemma Reeves

It’s publication day for Victoria Park and so I’m sharing my thoughts on this wonderful modern literary novel.

The blurb …

A moving, uplifting debut following the disparate lives of twelve Londoners over the course of a single year.

Mona and Wolfie have been married for sixty-five years and have lived on Victoria Park for most of them. But Mona’s been unwell, the cruel onset of Alzheimer’s meaning she’s slowly forgetting the community that she has known for so long.

Bookended by the touching exploration of their love, Victoria Park follows twelve people over the course of a single year. As the months unfold, ordinary days give way to extraordinary moments. A young man finds more than he bargains for when he breaks into a house. A couple navigate IVF with varying degrees of enthusiasm. A mother struggles with the morality of reading her daughter’s diary. Meanwhile, the lingering memory of an acid attack in the park touches each resident in a different way.

Told from multiple perspectives against a backdrop of the ever-changing seasons, these carefully interwoven tales create a rich tapestry of a novel and a touching exploration of resilience, love and loss.

My thoughts …

I loved this book and thought the concept was brilliant as we get a fascinating glimpse into the lives of twelve different characters over the course of a year, so each chapter is a different month and focuses on a different character, living or working around Victoria Park.  I really enjoyed this unusual structure and thought it was a really beautiful, fresh and modern piece of writing. 

The author sensitively writes about the challenges faced by an array of diverse and fascinating characters. With issues ranging from looking after a loved one with alzheimer’s, the pain of infertility, teenage issues and and an extra marital affair, amongst others. Each character was brilliantly drawn and so convincing that I felt I was listening in on the characters and observing each interaction myself. The author really picked up on each characters different personalities, mannerisms and backgrounds and I thought that the writing was exceptional in this regard. It was also interesting when the characters and their relationships would overlap slightly so that they would pop up in another chapter where you weren’t expecting them.

The story also subtly shows how events, such as a terrible acid attack in the park, can have a far reaching affect on a community even in a large city like London. And of course the thirteenth character in this book is Victoria Park, I loved the setting and the sense of place and the vibe of London through the changing seasons, it really added to the reading experience for me.

I thought that this was a brilliant debut novel. It was brilliantly observed, perceptive and thought provoking and I would highly recommend to fans of modern literary fiction.

About the author …

Gemma Reeves is a writer and teacher who lives and works in London. Victoria Park is her debut novel. Follow her on Twitter @g_c_reeves and Instagram @gemma__reeves

Thank you so much to the publicists at Atlantic Books for my gifted copy in return for an honest review.

Published by Allen & Unwin on 7th January 2021

Thanks for reading

🧡

White Ivy by Susie Yang #BookReview

Hello,

Happy New Year and welcome back to my blog for my first post of 2021! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year (under the circumstances) and I wish you all the very best as we start the new year with tougher restrictions and lockdowns, and the prospect of the dreaded homeschooling!! Just make sure the wine rack is fully stocked!! 😂 My plan is to escape into my books, and on that note, here is my latest review.

Headline publishers very kindly sent me a copy of White Ivy by Susie Yang, which I finished just before Christmas and I absolutely loved it! Here are the details …

The blurb …

Ivy Lin, a chinese immigrant growing up in a low-income apartment complex outside Boston, is desperate to assimilate with her American peers. Her parents disapprove, berating her for her mediocre grades and what they see as her lazy, entitled attitude. But Ivy has a secret weapon, her grandmother Meifeng, from whom she learns to shoplift to get the things she needs to fit in.

Ivy develops a taste for winning and for wealth. As an adult, she reconnects with the blong-haired golden boy of a prominent political family, and thinks it’s fate. But just as Ivy is about to have everything she’s ever wanted, a ghost from her past resurfaces, threatening the almost-perfect life she’s worked so hard to build.

Filled with surprising twists, and offering sharp insight into the immigrant experience, White Ivy is both a love triangle and a coming-of-age story – as well as a dark glimpse at what can happen when we yearn for success at any cost.

Cover Design by Grace Han / Photography Yuji KaraKi/Getty

My thoughts …

‘Ivy Lin is a thief – but you’d never know it by looking at her’

What a fantastic debut novel. I was gripped by this brilliantly written, dark and twisty literary novel.

Ivy Lin was born in China, but at the age of five immigrated to America with her parents and baby brother. Ivy is very close to her grandmother Meifeng, who helped raise her while they were in China, but Meifeng has a nasty shoplifting habit, which she passes on to Ivy. 

As Ivy grows up she feels that she is just a nondescript plain, poor Asian girl and all she wants is to fit in with the young american girls in her class. Unfortunately, Ivy’s relationship with her parents is strained as they are very strict and have struggled to acclimatise to the American lifestyle. She longs to escape her family’s way of life, she aspires to a higher social class. As a result, Ivy starts stealing the things she needs to blend in, and which she knows her mother will refuse to buy her, such as makeup, bras, tampons and clothes. She develops a crush on the school heartthrob Gideon Speyer but just as she is settling into his friendship group, she is devastated when her family decides to relocate. She thinks she will never see Gideon again, however, their paths cross as adults and Ivy realises she has another chance to be with him, but in order to be successful, she has to reinvent herself, and all is going swimmingly until her past comes back to bite her!

‘If there was anything she prided herself on other than being a thief, it was being a first rate liar’.

I really loved this book. I find immigrant stories fascinating, how the characters try to adjust to a different country, language and culture and how the older generations naturally have a massively different experience to the younger generations. 

The storytelling is brilliant and I was hooked right from the beginning I couldn’t wait to see how things would turn out for Ivy and how she would navigate all of her dysfunctional relationships. 

The characterisation is superb throughout and I hate to admit that I loved Ivy’s brilliantly flawed character, I found myself understanding her need to be accepted and desire to better herself, and almost empathising with her – but only up to a point – as her behaviour deteriorates and she starts to lose control.

The story reminded me a little of some other favourites of mine, ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ and ‘The Secret History’ in the way that Ivy reinvents herself and changes her ambitions to fit in with Gideon’s upper class American lifestyle, and how she will stop at nothing to get what she wants, but also in the outstanding, suspenseful writing style.

I highly recommend this book, it’s hard to believe that it’s a debut, and I’m really looking forward to following Susie Yang’s work.

Thank you so much to Headline/Wildfire Books for my gifted copy in exchange for an honest review. 

About the author …

Susie Yang was born in China and came to the United States as a child. After receiving her doctorate of pharmacy from Rutgers University, she launched a tech startup in San Fransico that has taught twenty thousand people how to code. She has studied creative writing at Tin House and Sackett Street. She has lived across the United States, Europe and Asia and now resides in the UK. White Ivy is her first novel.

Instagram: @susieyyang

Twitter: @susieyyang

Website: http://www.susiebooks.com

Thanks for reading!

❤️

Christmas with the Conduit by Wes Markin #BookReview #BlogBlitz #BlogTour

Today I’m taking part in the #BlogBlitz for the terrific new book from Wes Markin. Thank you so much to Caroline Vincent for inviting me to take part and for kindly sending me a gifted ebook.

The blurb …

DCI Michael Yorke and Emma Gardner are still plagued by guilt over their failure to catch the murderous psychiatrist known as the Conduit, and the loss of their former colleague to insanity.

On Christmas Day, following a brutal massacre in Leeds, Yorke and Gardner find themselves once again chasing the ruthless puppeteer, believing that they have the initiative.

But as the two investigators draw closer to the Conduit, they quickly discover that they were never truly in control, and completely vulnerable to what comes next.

A rising tide of psychological warfare.

And the horrendous truth behind the fate of their former colleague.

My thoughts …

Christmas with the Conduit‘ is book 6 in the DCI Yorke Series, although this is the first that I have read and I found it to be a great standalone novel. There were some references to the characters’ back stories but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book or my ability to follow the plot. But it’s always nice to start at the beginning, so I’ve included some handy purchase links below for the whole series.

In this most recent instalment DCI Mike Yorke has to cut short his much needed Christmas holidays to deal with a dreadful massacre in a care home in Leeds on Christmas day. It soon becomes apparent that a psychopathic serial killer, who so far has managed to escape justice, is back on the scene. Yorke and his partner, Emma Gardner, previously failed to catch the Conduit and their colleague Mark is still missing. The stress of the case became too much for Emma and she left the force, but as soon as she hears that The Conduit is back, she persuades Mike to let her help with the investigation.

With a new identity the Conduit returns to Leeds as a lecturer in Psychology, while at the same time seeing ‘patients’. On the pretence of healing his patients The Conduit abuses his power, and plays on the vulnerable to manipulate their deepest fears and tragic pasts, and by using a combination of drugs and hypnotherapy, he can become a ‘psychological puppeteer’ and they will carry out his horrifying acts of violence, such as the massacre in the care home.

‘My name is the Conduit. I am a channel. I become the piece that is missing from inside people, and I allow the thoughts, feelings and behaviours to move fluidly through me and within them.’

As the snow falls in Leeds at the most wonderful time of the year, DCI Yorke and his team must race to find the Conduit before this psychopathic killer strikes again.

This was a brilliant story, very well written, completely gripping and tense from beginning to end, although I was reading with a grimace on my face for some parts of it because there is a fair bit of sickening detail, violence and evil in this story, which was hard to read at some points.

I also really enjoyed the sub plot of Mike Yorke’s home life as he struggles to balance marriage and children with a demanding and emotionally traumatic job.

I found it very similar to Chris Carter’s books and I definitely got Hannibal Lecter vibes from the Conduit, so if you like dark psychological thrillers you’ll love this one!

(I have included some trigger warnings at the bottom of this post)

The DCI Yorke Series …

Prequel: A Lesson in Crime https://amzn.to/2ZCLW5v
#1 One Last Prayer for the Rays https://amzn.to/32o9KMp
#2 The Repenting Serpent https://amzn.to/3h0UaKK
#3 The Silence of Severance https://amzn.to/393bnQO
#4 Rise of the Rays https://amzn.to/2OxOUSv
#5 Dance with the Reaper            https://amzn.to/2B6dgzF
#6 Christmas with the Conduit https://amzn.to/3fDMvl9

About the author …

Wes Markin is a hyperactive English teacher, who loves writing crime fiction with a twist of the macabre.

Having finished ‘Dance with the Reaper,’ he is now working on the sixth instalment of DCI Michael Yorke’s wild ride. He is also the author of ‘A Lesson in Crime,’ a prequel to his DCI Yorke novels, which takes the reader back to his blood-soaked university days.

Born in 1978, Wes grew up in Manchester, UK. After graduating from Leeds University, he spent fifteen years as a teacher of English, and has taught in Thailand, Malaysia and China. Now as a teacher, writer, husband and father, he is currently living in Harrogate, UK.

Twitter twitter.com/MarkinWes
Facebook Author Page www.facebook.com/WesMarkinAuthor
Goodreads Author Page bit.ly/GRtoWesMarkin
Amazon Author Page author.to/WesMarkin

Follow the tour …

Thanks for reading!

Trigger Warnings: Sexual abuse, rape, violence

American Spartan by Jason Beech #CoverReveal #PublicationDay

I have a very exciting cover reveal and extract to share with you today for Jason Beech’s new crime thriller novel ‘American Spartan‘ which is the sequel to ‘City of Forts‘.

The blurb …

A rookie cop. A town on fire. Can he execute justice and survive?

It starts with a newspaper article. An economic miracle. A run-down town in the Midwest transformed. One man has effected this change, poured his wealth into converting old factories into new ventures, Main Street into a hub for deep-pocketed incomers, and put a spring into the step of a place people once avoided.

Ricky Nardilo, all grown-up, a rookie cop, isn’t having it. The man who has brought this boom is the man who shot him in his youth. The man whose son Ricky killed. He owns the town, he owns the local politicians, he owns the police force Ricky works for. As Ricky aims down the muzzle of his gun at this bigshot, his struggle between a quiet, complicit life and a personal war will tear Ricky apart and drag old friends and family into a chaos he never thought possible.

Sneak preview …

1

‘Ricky Nardilo peered over the rim of the unfinished block of apartments down to the open square in front of the renovated factory in the City of Forts. He wore a hoodie over his head, a handgun in hand, murder on his mind. 

Down there, on a podium above an invited crowd, stood Mr Harry Vale, aglow beneath a spotlight in the dusk. He talked of renovation, about a new start, about opportunities for old residents and fresh energy from incomers. The old factory would host artists, showcase their talents, bring in important works from around the world. 

Mr Vale swept an arm to the big red gate which once dazzled blue in the summer sun, made himself bigger than he already is, made himself a target. Ricky pointed the gun. Fifty feet above his man, half-hidden in the shadows of the half-built apartments’ skeleton, a throng of onlookers before him, hands banging together, polite, complacent, not so much excited for the art as a new place to hang out, Ricky didn’t have a choice but to exert pressure on the trigger. 

Harry Vale had transformed the town’s abandoned buildings, trampled its fields with new-builds out of most of the old residents’ price range, and pruned the woods into a manicured landscape which sat dull in contrast to its former wild glory. 

Mr Vale’s tone rose up and down, parts of the crowd surfed on his waves, some child cried, another asked a question which caused a laugh, but Vale strengthened his grip on their attention with his mineshaft-deep voice and vision of a new utopia. Ricky mingled with the crowd before he made his way up this building and he recognized two men and a woman. Everybody else arrived in the trail of the big man’s money.

Vale brought Ricky only broken friendships and a sweaty anxiety that squatted in his teenage years and lingered into his adulthood. 

The sting of salt in Ricky’s eye curdled some doubt. What if he missed? What if he hit an innocent? Seriously, how would he escape? A newspaper article, a puff piece in the local rag, about the great philanthropy of Harry Vale, his dynamism, this great, wonderful, wonderful Harry Vale – how had it sent him up the ribs of this apartment block to assassinate this man? He watched the town’s savior down the barrel of the gun. A handgun – at this distance? 

He wiped at his eye, blinked half-a-dozen times, backed deeper into the apartments’ murk, and thrust the gun back into his shoulder holster. This is no plan. Zipped his hoodie high and hoped the day’s heat didn’t foster a sheen of suspicion. He slouched back down the rough stairwell, shoulders bouncing off the walls through careless steps. He’d chickened out, but it’s as well he did, because he saw no escape from here if he’d followed through. 

Plastic wrapping flapped in the evening breeze down on the ground floor. Lots of plastic wrapping, all of it bunched up against the building’s wooden frame. Ricky flipped the lighter’s lid, penetrated the shadows for eyes that might watch, and touched the flame to the plastic. It glowed green and flared, caught the flammable contents inside. Ricky marveled at how it made a blaze in no time at all. He repeated on a couple of other packages. The first fire he lit embraced a wall and climbed for sustenance. Ricky jumped the tall metal gate and heard the first alarm, a woman’s high-pitched voice followed by a man’s. Ricky shoved his hands in his pockets and plunged down an alley between new shops with high-rent apartments crested above them as sirens replaced the voice of Harry fucking Vale’.

It sounds amazing doesn’t it?! Here are the purchase links:

City of Forts https://amzn.to/3fUCktk
American Spartanhttps://amzn.to/2JvlSDR

About the author …

Sheffield native, New Jersey resident Jason Beech writes crime fiction. His coming-of-age crime drama City of Forts was described as “tense, atmospheric, and haunting” by UK crime writer Paul D. Brazill.

His latest novel, American Spartan, is a sequel to 2018’s City of Forts.

Jason Beech on Twitter: https://twitter.com/beech_jason

Amazon Author Page: http://author.to/JasonBeech

Huge thanks to Caroline Vincent @CazVincent for inviting me to take part in the publication day events.

Thanks for reading!

Kerri x

No Room at the Little Cornish Inn by Nancy Barone #BlogTour #BookReview

Today is the last day of the blog tour and my turn to share my thoughts on this wonderful Christmas romance. Thank you so much to Aria Fiction for my space on the tour and for the gifted digital copy of the book – the gorgeous front cover just says it all!

The blurb …

Rosie Anderson was hoping to whisk her young son Danny away for a lovely Christmas with family, far from the hustle and bustle of her life in London. But then her boss at the head office – aka Susan the Sacker – suddenly assigns her to go in incognito and save a tiny inn in Cornwall from being closed permanently. Rosie doesn’t know why The Old Bell Inn is performing so badly but it’s on her to sort it out!

Hours in the car later, Rosie arrives at the inn to find she’s been double booked – there are no rooms left. And she isn’t there for more than a minute before she’s butting heads with the manager, Irishman Mitchell Fitzpatrick. He seems to dislike her on sight, so it’s confusing that he seems to get on so well with Danny… But if he’s as terrible as his reputation, Rosie will have to be the one to fire him.

This really isn’t the Christmas Rosie was dreaming of. But maybe, just maybe, it could be a whole lot more …

A sweet and uplifting Christmas romance, No Room at the Little Cornish Inn is perfect for fans of Philippa Ashley, Holly Martin and Jenny Hale.

My thoughts …

I’m so glad that my blog tour date was in December because it meant that I got to read this lovely festive book, with a view of my christmas tree and with a cup of tea and a mince pie in hand (I won’t touch a mince pie until December! 🙂

As you will read in the blurb single mum Rosie who works at Johnson Hotels head office in London is being forced to work over Christmas, by her frightful boss, which means that she has to take her eight-year-old son Danny to stay at The Old Bell Inn in Cornwall as a kind of ‘mystery shopper’ to try to find out why the Inn is failing and report back. She really doesn’t want to spend Christmas working and doesn’t like the thought of snooping on the employees, but if she refuses the assignment, she risks losing her job.

Rosie is soon charmed by the Inn and it’s employees, which isn’t hard when one of them is a handsome Irish man who is fantastic with her son. Instead of reporting the Inn’s failures back to Head Office, she decides that she will try to help them turn things around. As Danny spends his days at the beach or with the horses in the stables, they both start to fall in love with Cornwall and Rosie has some big decisions to make.

I loved the setting of the story, Cornwall is beautiful and the Inn sounded so quaint and cosy I could imagine how gorgeous it would be over Christmas. I also liked the way Rosie was portrayed as a strong working mum trying to do her best for Danny. I enjoyed all the different aspects of the storyline, from the inner workings of the hotel, the different relationships and the will they/won’t they romance, so there was plenty to keep me hooked.

This was a really lovely, well written story with plenty of romance, suspense and loveable characters within a wonderfully festive background and I would highly recommend adding this one to your Christmas reading pile.

About the author …

Nancy Barone Wythe grew up in Canada, but at the age of 12 her family moved to Italy. Catapulted into a world where her only contact with the English language was her old Judy Blume books, Nancy became an avid reader and a die-hard romantic. Nancy stayed in Italy and, despite being surrounded by handsome Italian men, she married an even more handsome Brit. They now live in Sicily where she teaches English. Nancy is a member of the RWA and a keen supporter of the Women’s Fiction Festival at Matera where she meets up once a year with writing friends from all over the globe.

Follow Nancy:

Twitter:@NancyNBW

Instagram:@nancybaronewythe

No Room at The Little Cornish Inn is published by Aria Fiction and is available now. Here are the purchase links:

Amazon:https://amzn.to/3b2IhlI

Kobo:https://bit.ly/31vpyMp

Google Play:https://bit.ly/3gskT28

iBooks:https://apple.co/3jhOnl6

Follow Aria Fiction:

Twitter: @Aria_Fiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

Catch up on the tour …

Thanks for reading!

The Man in Black – Peter Moore: Wales’ Worst Serial Killer by Dylan Rhys Jones #BookReview

I have a guest reviewer on my blog today in the form of my husband! When Dylan contacted me to ask if I’d like to review his book, I knew that Neil would love it and so I offered his services. Thank you so much Dylan for sending us a gifted copy of your book. Here is Neil’s review …

The blurb …

The sensational true story of Peter Moore, mild-mannered businessman and Wales’ worst-ever serial killer. At his trial, the prosecution branded him “the man in black, with black thoughts and the blackest of deeds” and the judge called him “as dangerous a man as it is possible to find”.

25 years after her was found guilty of four murders and confessed to more than 20 brutal assaults over two decades, Moore’s defence lawyer Dylan Rhys Jones finally tells all. As his brief, they spent hours together, discussing Moore’s compulsion for violent sexual assaults, his overwhelming urge to kill, his involvement with a circle of gay men who gained sexual gratification from domination and torture, his plans for further murders, and how it feels to end someone’s life. An in-depth, first-hand account of full and frank dealings with a particularly vicious and sadistic individual who gained pleasure from killing.

Review …

I volunteered to review this book for my wife as she didn’t want to expose herself to the dark subject matter. I can only say that I am so grateful that I made that decision. I’m a similar age to Dylan and I knew something of the story of Peter Moore. I have a vague recollection of TV news footage of him being interviewed regarding his one-man mission to save the North Wales cinema industry. I knew that he had subsequently been convicted of a series of murders but I didn’t know anything of the detail.

I enjoy books based on reality and I believe what I got from this book was Dylan’s 100% realistic and faithful recollection of an almost indescribable series of events. I was captivated from the preface when Dylan explains his journey and motives for writing the book, so long after the event. I believe that the contemplation period offered by the pandemic will strike a chord with so many readers.

When looking back 25 years I did wonder what sort of lens the author would apply? Would he embellish certain aspects to amplify his role or justify his actions. With every page I turned I got a huge sense of the integrity with which Dylan wanted to relay the story. I genuinely believe that he succeeds in taking the reader behind the curtain of some of the worst murders committed in Wales without bringing any sense of his own ego to distort the re-telling. 

I really liked the pace and rhythm of the book. This is a story that deserves to be told and there are certain sections which are truly remarkable such as the night-time confession and the day when Dylan and Dewi visited the scenes of the horrific murders. 

I actually think there are many facets of the book my wife would have enjoyed. She has a real interest in the Law and trained as a Legal Executive. Dylan does a wonderful job of explaining the legal processes pertaining to the case but for me the most fascinating aspect is the sense of professionalism and diligence he applied in such difficult circumstances. I found myself asking why on earth would a defence lawyer put themselves through such an ordeal. Even though the events had a massive negative impact on Dylan I can see why he never really questioned whether to put himself through the act of representing Peter Moore. He offers a range of insights, lawyers needing to be isolated and viewing through frosted glass/ peers leaving University with a sense of wanting to do some good in the World/criminal lawyers being gatekeepers against the power of the State. I came away with the sense that if you have trained for so long to do something that it is then almost impossible not to take on such a challenge when fate presents it. This is what drives so many committed and professional people and there is a message here about the need for society to do more to support these people.

I approached the end of the book with some trepidation as I was enthralled by the prospect of Dylan meeting Peter Moore again after 25 years. I won’t cover this in any detail as I don’t want to spoil this culmination of the book for the readers.

Da iawn Dylan and thank you for sharing your journey.

About the author …

Former criminal defence lawyer Dylan Rhys Jones is now a criminology lecturer, exam moderator and Criminal Justice and Offender Management foundation degree course-designer. He is a regular contributor to TV and radio news programmes about politics and law.

Published by Y Lolfa Cyf

Thanks for reading!

Neil

The Mist by Ragnar Jonasson #BookReview #BlogTour (Translated by Victoria Cribb)

I’m joining the blog tour for The Mist today – many thanks to Sriya Varadharajan at Michael Joseph for the invite and for sending me a gifted copy of the book 💙

The blurb …

Just before Christmas a blizzard sweeps across Iceland. In their remote farmhouse, Era and Einar are hunkering down for the night – when there’s a knock at the door.

It’s a stranger, desperate for shelter. They take him in – but they’ll wish they hadn’t. Because this man is not who he says he is. And, when the power cuts out, it’s the beginning of a terrifying ordeal.

Detective Hulda Hermannsdottir – recovering from a family tragedy – is called to an isolated farmhouse and a haunting mystery …

My review …

The Mist is the third in the Hidden Iceland series but I found it to be an excellent standalone read. Although if I’d had the time before my blog tour date, I would definitely liked to have read the series from the start as the author has very cleverly written them in reverse chronological order, which is so original and intriguing. But like I said, reading The Mist first didn’t take anything away from this fantastic Nordic Noir thriller, which is a genre that I’m really warming up to. I’ve read a couple of books lately which are set in Iceland at Christmas time and I’ve really enjoyed learning about the different traditions, especially that of gifting books on Christmas Eve or St Thorlakur’s Mass and spending the rest of the holiday reading!

Anyhow there’s nothing cosy about this story. It starts in February 1988 where we meet Hulda Hermannsdottir who has returned to work following a dreadful family tragedy. She is clearly depressed and struggling to function but takes on a new case to investigate after bodies are found at an isolated farmhouse. We are then taken back to a few days before Christmas where we are introduced to farmer Einar and his wife Erla. For Einar, farming is in his blood, but Erla feels suffocated by the loneliness and isolation of rural Iceland in the winter as they are snowed in and cut off from the community. The night before Christmas Eve, Erla and Einar are making the last preparations for christmas, and hoping that their daughter can make it through the blizzard to join them the next day, when a stranger knocks at the door looking for refuge. It is in Einar’s nature to be welcoming and helpful but Erla is more apprehensive, made worse by the subsequent power cut. The tension gradually builds as Erla becomes increasingly anxious. Who is this man? Why was he really out in a snow storm the day before Christmas eve?

The story alternates between Einar and Erla and then back to Detective Hulda’s home life as she prepares for Christmas with her husband and daughter and builds up to the tragedy that is alluded to at the beginning.

The author creates an incredible atmosphere in this story with the weather, the darkness, the remote landscape and sensational descriptive writing that I felt a real eeriness and tension as I was reading. And because we know at the beginning that bodies are found and that Hulda suffers a tragedy, I was just waiting for something terrible to happen to all of the characters, which was brilliantly unsettling.

I loved the author’s clean and smart writing style and the plot is so cleverly constructed, with convincing yet troubled characters, that I had no chance of figuring out the mystery. It really had me puzzled and I was gripped right from the start.

Highly recommended, it is the perfect wintery thriller to curl up with this Christmas!

I will definitely be reading the rest of the series, even though I’ll be reading it backwards, as I’m so intrigued by Hulda’s character and I’d like to find out more about her relationship with her husband.

P.S. Make sure to read the author’s notes at the end 🎄

About the author …

Ragnar Jonasson is an international number one bestselling author who has sold over one and a half million books worldwide. He was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he also works as an investment banker and teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University.

He has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, and, from the age of seventeen, has translated fourteen of Agatha Christie’s novels. His critically acclaimed international bestseller The Darkness is soon to be a major TV series.

Thanks for reading and make sure to follow the rest of the tour reviews!

💙