Tuesday, 31 October 2017

BLOG TOUR: All The Colours In Between - Eva Jordan

I am a HUGE fan of Eva Jordan's writing so I am honoured to be closing what has been quite an AMAZING tour.  For anyone who has read All The Colours In Between, I think it's fair to say that there's not a dry eye in the house after reading this much anticipated sequel to 183 Times A Year.


Release Date: 19th October 2017
Publisher: Urbane Publications
Genre: Contemporary fiction, women's fiction


It's not a life, it's an adventure!

Lizzie is fast approaching 50. Her once angst ridden teenage daughters, now grown and in their twenties, have flown the nest, Cassie to London and Maisy to Australia. And, although Connor, Lizzie's sulky, surly teenage son, is now on his own tormented passage to adulthood, his quest to get there, for the most part, is a far quieter journey than that of his sisters. The hard years, Lizzie believes, are behind her. Only, things are never quite as black and white as they seem... 

A visit to her daughter in London leaves Lizzie troubled. And that is just the start. Add to that an unexpected visitor, a disturbing phone call, a son acting suspiciously, a run in with her ex husband plus a new man in her life who quite simply takes her breath away; Lizzie quickly realises life is something that happens while plans are being made. 

Gritty but tender, thought provoking but light-hearted, dark but brilliantly funny, this is a story of contemporary family life in all its 21st century glory. A story of mothers and sons, of fathers and daughters, of brothers and sisters, and friends. A tale of love and loss, of friendships and betrayals, and coming of age. Nobody said it would be easy and as Lizzie knows only too well, life is never straightforward when you see all the colours in between.


What did I think?

I could not contain my excitement when I heard that my favourite fictional family were back: Lizzie Lemalf and her crazy blended family stole my heart in 183 Times A Year and I couldn't wait to read more about them.  It's so brilliant that you could definitely read All The Colours In Between as a standalone novel but it is made all the more poignant and emotional for having read 183 Times A Year and seen the characters develop before your eyes.

Never mind All The Colours In Between, I laughed, cried and experienced all the emotions in between.  I admit that I have cried at a few books in my time, but never have I been sobbing so much that I had to put the book down to wipe the tears that had rolled down my face and blurred my vision.  Looking back, I think I got to know Lizzie's family in 183 Times A Year but in All The Colours In Between I realised that I had fallen in love with them.  I felt very protective of them, especially Cassie; when they were happy, I was smiling and when they were sad, I was crying.

Eva Jordan has written characters that we can all relate to: perhaps you see yourself in Lizzie, about to turn 50 and hoping that she can finally take a breather now her daughters have left home, or you might recognise some of Cassie's qualities as your own, keeping a terrible secret and suffering in silence.  As the story unfolded, my heart was breaking for Cassie: I've always thought that a problem shared really is a problem halved but this is Lizzie's family I'm talking about so a problem shared is more likely to end up as a problem quadrupled!

What amazes me with Eva Jordan's writing is her ability to portray the unique voices of all of her characters, from teenage boy-man Connor to mysterious lynchpin of the family, Grandad Salocin.  Their voices shine through so vividly and uniquely that it feels as if the book has been written by the characters themselves.  I don't need a subscription to Audible for Eva's books, they speak to me through her beautiful emotive words.

Filled with emotion: you'll laugh and you'll cry but you'll never forget All The Colours In Between.  The characters are so enchanting that I think of them as my own family and I'm sure many readers feel the same: they're my family and they're your family.  I'll be singing Sister Sledge in a minute...  Now you're singing 'We Are Family', aren't you?  Sorry...

With such a memorable message: it's not a life, it's an adventure this is one book that I didn't want to end but my frown was turned upside down when I saw the final magical words: 'To Be Continued...'  YAY!

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:





BUY LINKS:
AMAZON US


ABOUT EVA JORDAN


Eva Jordan, born in Kent but living most of her life in a small Cambridgeshire town, describes herself as a lover of words, books, travel and chocolate. She is also partial to the odd glass or two of wine. Providing her with some of the inspiration for her novels, Eva is both a mum and step mum to four grown-up children. Her career has been varied including working within the library service and at a women's refuge. She writes a monthly column for a local magazine and currently works as a volunteer for a charity based organisation that teaches adults to read. However, storytelling through the art of writing is her passion. All The Colours In Between is Eva's second novel.

If you want to know more you can find Eva at all the usual places. She loves to hear from readers and reviewers so please feel free to contact her.

Twitter: @evajordanwriter


GIVEAWAY
2 x signed paperbacks and 2 kindle ebooks of All The Colours In Between (UK only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Saturday, 28 October 2017

BLOG TOUR: The Winter's Child - Cassandra Parkin

The nights are drawing in and winter is around the corner, so I am delighted to be taking part in The Winter's Child blog tour.  Not only do I have my review, I have a fantastic giveaway courtesy of Legend Press where you can win your very own paperback copy.  So do make you sure you scroll to the end of my post to enter!


Five years ago, Susannah Harper's son Joel went missing without trace. Bereft of her son and then of her husband, Susannah tries to accept that she may never know for certain what has happened to her lost loved ones. She has rebuilt her life around a simple selfless mission: to help others who, like her, must learn to live without hope.

But then, on the last night of Hull Fair, a fortune-teller makes an eerie prediction. She tells her that this Christmas Eve, Joel will finally come back to her.

As her carefully-constructed life begins to unravel, Susannah is drawn into a world of psychics and charlatans, half-truths and hauntings, friendships and betrayals, forcing her to confront the buried truths of her family's past, where nothing and no one are quite as they seem.

A ghostly winter read with a modern gothic flavour. A tale of twisted love, family secrets and hauntings.

What did I think?

I've always been intrigued by fortune tellers and psychics, although I have never been to see one, so the opening pages of The Winter's Child sucked me right in.  From that moment on, I couldn't put the book down as I wanted to know what had happened to Susannah's son and whether Susannah had finally received an accurate prediction from the people she brands as charlatans on her blog.

As much as she thinks they are charlatans, Susannah can't help but be drawn to people with such gifts as she is desperate to find out what happened to her son, Joel, who has been missing for 5 years.  On a visit to Hull Fair with her sister and her kids, Susannah sneaks off to a fortune teller who tells her that she'll finally be reunited with Joel on Christmas Eve.  Susannah is torn: she thinks these people are tricksters but she so wants to believe and I think this prediction started the unravelling of Susannah.

Susannah starts to hear Joel calling for her, she sees strange things, can smell mud and feels as if she is being drowned.  I think I even held my breath when Susannah was underwater, even though I didn't know whether it was actually happening to her or if it was all in her head.  It felt real to Susannah and it sure felt real to me!  The creepy goings on had the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end and my arms were plagued with the prickle of goosebumps.  

The pain that Susannah felt with the loss of her child was palpable and I really felt for her when I thought she was going mad with grief or even inability to grieve as she clutched at the last, almost transparent, threads of hope slipping through her fingers.  When we start to learn more about Joel himself, I don't mind telling you, my heart was broken into a million pieces.  I'm not giving away any spoilers but I just wanted to bundle Joel up and keep him safe, which is all Susannah ever wanted to do.  Susannah definitely has a special bond with Joel and it is clear that she will do anything for her precious boy, even at the risk of destroying her marriage.  I really couldn't read fast enough to get the answers that Susannah, and I, craved.

The Winter's Child is a dark, disturbing, creepy book; so beautifully written that it draws the reader into the tangled web that Cassandra Parkin has intricately woven.  It is deeply affecting and moving, haunting and haunted; quite simply a stunning piece of fiction.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon



GIVEAWAY!

The giveaway opens on 28th October and closes at midnight on Hallowe'en 31st October.

The competition is open to entrants in UK only and the winner will be contacted via email shortly after.




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Wednesday, 25 October 2017

BLOG TOUR: Love, Secrets and Absolution - K.L. Loveley

Before I share my review as part of the blog tour for Love, Secrets and Absolution by K.L. Loveley, I just have to share the fantastic book trailer.  It shows some of the main themes of the book and gives readers an idea of what the book is about, although nothing will prepare you for the emotional scenes you will read when you get to know (and love) the characters.


Read on for my review and the chance to win a signed copy and a tote bag!


People in the village gossip about Grace’s son, Alfie.

He’s a lonely boy full of secrets, lies, and obsessive thoughts.

How far can a mother’s love go? Will she ultimately sacrifice her life for his?

Set in Nottinghamshire, this family drama follows the lives of Grace and Alfie as he transforms from a naïve, young boy into a teenager spiralling out of control.

Love, Secrets, and Absolution is a coming of age story with a difference.

Deceit, betrayal, love, and addiction, a family falling apart in the midst of teenage angst and torn loyalties; will anybody find absolution?

What did I think?

What a wealth of emotions I experienced whilst reading this heartwarming book.  I always find that books told from different perspectives get right under my skin.  Seeing a story unfold from both sides gives the reader an insight that we wish we could have in real life.  Alas, you can never know what somebody is thinking but in the world of books and fiction we become marvellous, magical mind-readers!

K.L. Loveley has written an emotional, frank and thoughtful book on a family dealing with Asperger's Syndrome.  Now this story starts during the miner's strike of 1984 with Paul and Grace welcoming their longed-for first child into the world, in a time where kids weren't diagnosed with ADHD or autistm, they were just thought of as weird or naughty.  Baby Alfie is not like other children, he doesn't so much play with  toys or books as rearranges them: in straight lines, size order or colour coded.  His mother, Grace, loves him unconditionally but his father, Paul, thinks his brain isn't wired right.  As far as I was concerned, Alfie is bright and smart and so what if he is a little different.

I knew I would love Alfie from the minute he describes his birth.  He is like a little sponge, absorbing information and becoming smarter every day whilst seeing things that his young mind cannot fully understand but he knows is wrong.  He doesn't make friends easily but those who are lucky enough to befriend Alfie have someone on their side who would lay down their life for them.  He may not have fully developed social skills but he sure does go the extra mile for people he loves.

Grace's chapters are told via her diary and I loved this.  Rather than just telling the story from Grace's point of view, we are allowed a peep into her diary where she records her innermost thoughts and feelings.  Her love for Alfie shines through every page and you might be thinking that she sounds like an overprotective mother but she allows Alfie to make mistakes and learn from them, but Grace is always there to pick up the pieces and set him back on the right track (as long as it is straight).

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Alfie grow up before my eyes.  He's not perfect as he's an easy target for those scumbags who prey on the weak and vulnerable, but I like to think that, with his friends and family on his side, he becomes a stronger person because of his mistakes.

Open your heart to Alfie and pick up a copy of Love, Secrets and Absolution today!  It's something a little different from most family dramas as Alfie's condition isn't diagnosed until his late-teens.  So until then, his family and friends don't know what they're dealing with - he's just 'not right', but who decides what is 'right' and what isn't?  Perhaps people should look in the mirror before labelling something as flawed or 'not right'.  The world would be a boring place if we were all perfect.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:




Buy it from Amazon UK

Buy it from Amazon US



About the author:
K.L Loveley is a former nurse, who has seen, heard, and dealt with a wide range of medical, social and family dramas. She has used her nursing experience, along with her excellent people watching skills to create fascinating characters and intriguing scenarios within her books. She writes contemporary fiction, psychological dramas and poetry.

Her debut novel ‘Alice’ was published in February 2017, and the story tackles alcoholism head-on, and presents the reader with an empathetic account of a spiralling addiction and the resulting pattern of hopelessness that many fall into.

K.L Loveley’s second novel ‘Love, Secrets, and Absolution: An emotional and gripping psychological, family drama’ is a coming of age story with a difference. Deceit, betrayal, love, and addiction, this story is about a family falling apart in the midst of teenage angst and torn loyalties.

If you enjoy reading authors like Jodi Picoult and Diane Chamberlain, you will enjoy K.L Loveley!

K.L Loveley lives in Nottinghamshire, England and loves socialising with friends and family. She is an avid reader and enjoys a variety of genres including psychological, thrillers and historical fiction. Her favourite authors include John le Carré, K.L Slater, Marian Keyes and Philippa Gregory.

Twitter: @K_L_Loveley
Publisher: Globeflower Books www.globeflower.co.uk




GIVEAWAY TIME!!!




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Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Room 119 - 'The Whitby Trader' - T.F. Lince


High-flying trader Dean Harrison has it all – the London penthouse apartment; the fast car; the beautiful wife. But when the threads of Dean’s life start to unravel, they do so with alarming speed.

Following the advice of a frail stranger, Dean sets off for Welnetham Hall Hotel and is plunged into the mysterious world of Room 119 – a world where nothing makes sense. How does everyone in the hotel know his name? Why does he travel there on a train line that shut down over fifty years ago? And who is the sinister man in black who pursues him wherever he goes?

As he gradually pieces together the puzzle of Welnetham Hall, Dean is forced to re-evaluate his life and realises that nothing is more important to him than his wife and daughter. Desperate to gt back to them, he vows he would lay down his life for the people he loves.

It’s a promise he may have to keep.


What did I think?

Thank goodness I am passionate about supporting local North East authors, or I might have missed this amazing book.  I was expecting a novel about a stock trader who maybe takes one risk too many and loses his job, his family, and himself.  What I did not expect was the direction that the story went in and my wholehearted enjoyment of it.  Leave your expectations at the door for this one and just buckle up and enjoy the ride it takes you on.

For some readers, the beginning of the book might be a little off-putting, with all that testosterone flying around the trading floor.  I work in finance so I loved the buzz of the stocks and shares, the bulls and the bears and the backstabbing as the new guy tries to make a name for himself.  Whatever you do, don't give up if you don't like the first chapter or two; it is a necessary part of the story which comes full circle at the end, but the real story is about to begin and what an outstanding story it is!

I loved Dean's character.  He may be a city big shot but he hasn't forgotten his roots in the North East.  He is a classic case of a 'live to work' person: his life revolves around his job, often at the expense of his family.  A family he really does care about, after all, he's working so hard to give them everything they want but the only thing they really want is him.  He just doesn't realise it...yet.  A visit to creepy Welnetham Hall is about to change all of that.

Strange things happen to Dean when he stays in Room 119.  He wakes up to a fairground outside his window where he is rescued by a clown after being pursued by a tall man dressed in black with a silver topped stick.  I had just started to think that it felt like he'd fallen down the rabbit hole when Dean announced that they're "all mad here".  T.F. Lince then added some Back to the Future vibes and even a bit of Homer's Odyssey to the Alice in Wonderland pot and created a thoroughly entertaining rip-roaring story.

What I loved most of all, although it sounds quite lighthearted and a bit wacky, it has a pretty serious message running through it.  Getting that work/life balance just right is a tricky skill to master and Dean didn't even realise he'd got it wrong until it was almost too late.  It's also quite thought-provoking and I struggled to hold back my tears when reading the chapters about the care home for Alzheimer's and dementia patients.  I've often thought with such conditions that you've lost your loved one whilst they are right infront of your eyes; perhaps they are living in a between-world, I'd like to think so.

What an outstanding debut: hugely entertaining, thought-provoking and extremely emotional; I really would have kicked myself if I had missed it.  FIVE HUGE STARS, it is without doubt one of my top books of the year.  I highly recommend Room 119 - 'The Whitby Trader' and I can say with the utmost certainty that you won't have ever read anything like it!

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:



BLOG TOUR: Heart of Stone - John Jackson


I had the pleasure of meeting John Jackson recently and, as a fan of histfic, my ears pricked up when he told me he had written an historical novel.  As I was remaining in Newcastle from afternoon to evening, I had a self-imposed book buying ban but luckily there was an upcoming blog tour that I could join, so I am thrilled to release my review for the tour.


Genre: Historic Fiction
Release Date: 24th October 2017
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books

Dublin, 1730

When young and beautiful Mary Molesworth is forced to marry Robert Rochfort, widowed heir to the earldom of Belfield, she finds that her idea of love is not returned. Jealous, cruel and manipulative, Robert ignores her after she has provided him with a male heir, preferring to spend his nights with his mistress. Power-hungry, Robert builds up a reputation that sees him reach for the highest positions in Ireland. 

Caught in an unhappy marriage, Mary begins to grow closer to Robert’s younger brother, Arthur. Acknowledging their love for each other, they will risk everything to be together. But Robert’s revenge threatens their lives and tears them apart. 

Will Mary and Arthur find a way to escape Robert’s clutches? 

Based on real events, Heart of Stone is a tale of power, jealousy, imprisonment, and love, set in 1740s Ireland.


What did I think?

John Jackson has based his debut novel on his real ancestors and states that, as a work of fiction, this is the story that he thinks they should have had.  The real Robert Rochfort can even be seen on the cover of the book, and I think perhaps that John has put him on there so that many readers can stick pins in him!  Robert Rochfort is an odious, officious man!  He did anything he wanted and treated people like dirt, simply because he could.  His answer whenever challenged was: 'because I can.'  As the first born son, he lorded over and envied his brothers: Arthur and George.

When Robert finds himself widowed and without an heir, he arranges to marry young and beautiful Mary Molesworth.  I thought of her a bit like Cinderella as her father clearly loves her but her (wicked) step-mother wants rid of her so she can concentrate on marrying off her own daughters.  Mary thought she was happy on her wedding day until she locks eyes with Robert's brother, Arthur.  In that one precious moment, she fell in love.  How cruel to fall in love on your wedding day, but not with your husband.  Mary is a respectable young woman, so she does her duty and, after bearing him a daughter, produces an heir for Robert.  Robert now has what he wants so drops Mary and spends all his time with his mistresses.  Trapped in a loveless marriage, Mary's eyes once again catch those of Arthur and she finds that her feelings are mirrored in his eyes.  They begin a very dangerous liaison, knowing that they will face the full force of Robert's fury should they ever be found out.

As this story is based around fact, it makes it so much more emotional.  The fate awaiting Arthur and Mary would melt even the coldest heart, although it didn't even chip Robert's Heart of Stone.  Robert is a cold and jealous man, who treats people like his property and has no concern for their feelings.  His jealousy for his brothers, especially George who inherited the family home, had me absolutely mesmerised and eventually in stitches.  You will not even believe the lengths Robert will go to in order to get one over on George and that part of the story is true!

The writing is impeccable; it is engrossing and authentic and the fact that it is based on real people makes it a superb read.  I do hope John Jackson has more stories up his sleeve as Heart of Stone was so hard to difficult to put down and I wouldn't hesitate to read more of John's books.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon UK

Buy it from Amazon US


About the author:

Following a lifetime at sea, John Jackson has now retired and lives in York and has now turned his hand to writing fiction.
An avid genealogist, he found a rich vein of ancestors. They included Irish peers, country parsons, and army and navy officers. They opened up Canada and Australia and fought at Waterloo.

John is a keen member of the Romantic Novelists Association and graduated through their New Writers Scheme. He is also a member of the Historic Novel Society and an enthusiastic conference-goer for both.

He describes himself as being "Brought up on Georgette Heyer from an early age, and, like many of my age devoured R L Stevenson, Jane Austen, Edgar Allen Poe and the like."

His modern favorite authors include Bernard Cornwell, Simon Scarrow, Lindsey Davis, Liz Fenwick and Kate Mosse.

Twitter: @jjackson42

Monday, 23 October 2017

BLOG TOUR: The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities - Paul Anthony Jones

I love quirky books so I am delighted to take part in the blog tour for The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities.  This book could not be named any better, it is a veritable Aladdin's Cave of lost words and fascinating historical events.  Not only is it written by an author local to me, it led to my discovery of his brilliant @HaggardHawks Twitter account for more wordy-frivolity.

I am sharing my review for the blog tour but also an excerpt so you can see how each day is set out.  To save quarrelling with myself over what word to share for the tour (there are so many that stand out), I am sharing the word of today: 23rd October.


A whole year's worth of linguistic curiosities, just waiting to be discovered.

Within these pages you might leap back in time, learn about linguistic trivia, follow a curious thread or wonder at the web of connections in the English language.

1 January quaaltagh (n.) the first person you meet on New Year's Day

1 April dorbellist (n.) a fool, a dull-witted dolt

12 May word-grubber (n.) someone who uses obscure or difficult words in everyday conversation

25 September theic (adj.) an excessive drinker of tea

24 December doniferous (adj.) carrying a gift

Paul Anthony Jones has unearthed a wealth of strange and forgotten words: illuminating some aspect of the day, or simply telling a cracking good yarn, each reveals a story. Written with a light touch that belies the depth of research it contains, this is both a fascinating compendium of etymology and a captivating historical miscellany. Dip into this beautiful book to be delighted and intrigued throughout the year.


What did I think?

When I first opened The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities, I thought it might feel like reading a dictionary or an encyclopedia but even though there is so much to take in, I just couldn't get enough of it.  I read it as if a month was a chapter, but I also found myself flicking forward each day to see what the word of the day was and what fascinating little-known historical event I could regale my family and friends with.  

It is a treasure trove of interesting words and historical information and how the author links history to the word of the day is nothing short of brilliant.  It's a word of the day, a history lesson, and a fascinating fact book that would be the PERFECT gift for that person who is so difficult to buy for.  I've always preferred real books to kindle, but I really do think you would benefit from a hardback edition of this book.  It's a book you will always have to hand, whether you refer to it every day or bring it out when friends come round.  

I can see my copy of The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities being a firm fixture in my bookcase.  Actually, it will probably be as much out of the bookcase as in it, as I can't foresee a day going by when I won't open this fascinating book.  In years to come I may have to rein in my bookish-OCD and see a dog-eared copy as a much loved, much handled book rather than a mistreated book.  There's sure to be a word for such a well-used book so I'd better keep my eye on Haggard Hawks!

The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities is an awe-inspiring collection of trivia and fascinating facts for linguists, history lovers or anyone who loves the unusual and peculiar.  Definitely one I recommend and this is one book I will not be lending to anyone as I couldn't bear not to have it close to hand.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:




Buy it from Amazon




An excerpt from 23rd October:

thrimmel (n.)  to grudgingly repay a debt

Upon its independence in 1776, the United States was already in debt, and in 1789 that situation worsened when America assumed liability for $75 million of debts accumulated during the Revolutionary War. Concerted efforts brought that figure down to its lowest in history – $37,000 – by the mid 1830s, but spending on the military sent it spiralling back to the $1 bil- lion mark by the time of the Civil War. By the mid 1970s, debts had reached $500 billion, and on 23 October 1981, it was announced that the national debt of the United States had surpassed the $1 trillion mark for the very first time; half of that figure had been accumulated in just seven years. 

To repay a debt – and, specifically, to do so reluctantly – is to thrimble or thrumble, an English dialect word dating back to the mid sixteenth century. Thought to be derived from an earlier word, thrum, for a multitude or throng of people, on its earliest appearance in the language thrimble meant ‘to squeeze or press together’, like people standing in a dense crowd, or ‘to jostle’ or ‘to push your way through’. 

By the early seventeenth century, that meaning had broad- ened (perhaps with influence from the word thumb) to come to mean ‘to press or crush between the fingers’, and ultimately, ‘to toy or fiddle with something in your hands’. From there one last meaning developed in the late eighteenth century: according to the English Dialect Dictionary (Vol. VI, 1905), to thrimble is ‘to finger or handle anything as if reluctant to part with it’, and ultimately, ‘to dole or pay out money grudgingly or reluctantly’.


About the author:

PAUL ANTHONY JONES is something of a linguistic phenomenon. He runs @HaggardHawks Twitter feed, blog and YouTube channel, revealing daily word facts to 39,000 engaged followers. His books include Word Drops (2015) and The Accidental Dictionary (2016). His etymological contributions appear regularly, from the Guardian to the Telegraph, Buzzfeed to Huffington Post and BBC Radio 4.

He lives in Newcastle Upon Tyne and is available for all types of word-nerdery.  








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Friday, 20 October 2017

The Coven (Beatrice Scarlet book 2) - Graham Masterton


They say the girls were witches. But Beatrice Scarlet, the apothecary's daughter, is sure they were innocent victims...

London, 1758:

Beatrice Scarlet, the apothecary's daughter, has found a position at St Mary Magdalene's Refuge for fallen women. She enjoys the work and soon forms a close bond with her charges.

The refuge is supported by a wealthy tobacco merchant, who regularly offers the girls steady work to aid their rehabilitation. But when seven girls sent to his factory disappear, Beatrice is uneasy.

Their would-be benefactor claims they were a coven of witches, beholden only to Satan and his demonic misdeeds. But Beatrice is convinced something much darker than witchcraft is at play...

What did I think?

I had read the first Beatrice Scarlet book, Scarlet Widow, and rather enjoyed it so I didn't hesitate to accept a copy of the sequel, The Coven.  It sounded dark and scary but it turned out to be dark in a way I didn't expect and didn't enjoy, so I found myself getting more and more disappointed as I read on.  I almost didn't finish it, but for the fact that I wanted to find out what had happened to one of the characters.

After her son, Noah, is abducted by Indians, Beatrice leaves America and returns to London.  I'm not a mother, but really?  I can't imagine any mother would leave her son behind, the last link she has to her dead husband, when there is even the smallest chance he could return to look for her.  Anyway, Beatrice heads to London and she ends up living and working at a home that rehabilitates prostitutes.  Their benefactor picks the best looking ladies to go to work at his tobacco factory but when Beatrice enquires after those she befriended, they have disappeared and been branded as witches after leaving a gutted goat and a bloody pentagram.  Like Miss Marple, Beatrice smells a rat and begins an investigation into their disappearance.  As more girls disappear, Beatrice is drawn into the seedy underbelly of London which puts her at more risk than she can ever have imagined.

Scarlet Widow perhaps gave a little hint as to which direction the series was going in as there was quite a graphic sexual assault described.  At least I thought it was graphic until I read The Coven.  I'm not a prude by any means but the actions described in this book made me cringe in disgust and I felt quite uncomfortable at times.  Unfortunately, it has put me off reading any further books in the series.

The Coven is a sequel I was quite looking forward to but sadly I was very disappointed.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Thursday, 19 October 2017

BLOG BLITZ: Her Dark Retreat - J.A. Baker


The coastguard’s residence Chamber Cottage, which sits high up on the North Yorkshire cliffs, overlooking The North Sea, holds many dark secrets.

Alec and Peggy are struggling to overcome their marital problems. Both damaged by issues from their childhoods, they are trying to get on with their lives. But this is hard for them to do when they both believe they are being watched. As a result, Peggy, who has terrible scars on her face, becomes more agoraphobic.

To make matters worse, Peggy discovers her estranged mother is stalking both she and Alec, claiming she has a dark secret that is putting Peggy in danger.

What caused the scars on Peggy’s face? Is Alec really the monster Peggy’s mother believes him to be? And what secrets does Chamber Cottage hold?


What did I think?

This is one of those books that I find very difficult to review; it's a case of the less said the better for fear of revealing any spoilers but, believe me, this is a book that you really must read.  If you haven't read Undercurrent, J.A. Baker's debut, you don't want to miss that one either.  Although both Undercurrent and Her Dark Retreat are standalone novels, I don't want you to miss out on discovering some outstanding fiction.

The blurb tells us that Chamber Cottage holds many dark secrets, and doesn't it just!  Peggy and Alec live in the remote coastguard's cottage on the edge of a cliff where they struggle with their inner demons as well as their marital issues.  Peggy's face is badly scarred, leaving her with very low confidence and no desire to leave the house.  Her husband, Alec, tries and fails to encourage Peggy to socialise and he struggles to remain faithful to their marriage.  Is their marriage the only thing that is dying in their house?

Have a good look at the cover to get an idea of the setting: this remote house on the edge of a cliff, but even without the cover photo the description of the cottage and its surroundings are sublime.  It sounds so craggy and desolate that I could almost taste the salt on my lips and feel the wind whipping my hair.  I certainly wouldn't want to stand too close to the edge with the angry North Sea crashing against the cliff face.  It may be an isolated cottage but Maude, a distant neighbour, can see the comings and goings at the cottage and one day sees more than she bargained for.  The only problem is, Maude is suffering from dementia and nobody believes a word she says.

Each chapter is told from many different viewpoints: Peggy and Alec, Peggy's estranged mother Audrey, neighbour Maude, Maude's daughter Brenda, and Rachel who is searching for her missing sister, Sheryl.  At the end of a few chapters there's the intriguing voice of somebody clinging on to the last breaths of life - is it Sheryl? Where is she and who put her there?  For a reasonably short book (at 305 pages) there is a lot going on but with the dedicated chapters, it never gets confusing.  Whilst Peggy and Alec are the main characters (and both creeped me out), it was Maude's chapters that evoked the most emotion in me.  J.A. Baker's description of the mist descending in Maude's mind had me choking back tears.

Her Dark Retreat is another excellent edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller from J.A. Baker.  I thought I had worked it all out at one point, and I may have been right in some aspects, but there were still plenty of those wide-eyed gaspy moments to keep my pulse racing right up to the very last page.  

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:




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About the author:

J.A.BAKER was born and brought up in the North East of England and has had a love of language for as long as she can remember.

After gaining an MA in Education & Applied Linguistics with the Open University, she found herself with spare time and embarked on doing something she always wanted to do – write a novel.

She has a love of local history and genealogy and enjoys reading many genres of books but is an addict of psychological thrillers.

In December 2016 she was signed by Bloodhound Books who published Undercurrent. J.A. 
Her second novel, Her Dark Retreat was published in October 2017. J. A. Baker's third book, The Other Mother is due out on 5th December 2017.


She has four grown-up children and a grandchild and lives in a village near Darlington with her husband and madcap dog.

You find out more about J.A.Baker by visiting her website at http://www.jabakerauthor.co.uk/




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