Saturday, 21 July 2018

BLOG BLITZ: The Second Cup - Sarah Marie Graye

I am delighted to be taking part in the Rachel's Random Resources Blog Blitz for The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye.  I am sharing my review on this final day of the blitz and there's also an amazing giveaway at the end of the post where you can win your very own signed copy.

Would your life unravel if someone you knew committed suicide? Theirs did.

Faye knows her heart still belongs to her first love, Jack. She also knows he might have moved on, but when she decides to track him down, nothing prepares her for the news that he's taken his own life.

Faye is left wondering how to move forward - and whether or not Jack's best friend Ethan will let her down again. And the news of Jack's death ripples through the lives of her friends too.

Abbie finds herself questioning her marriage, and wondering if she was right to leave her first love behind. Poor Olivia is juggling her job and her boyfriend and trying to deal with a death of her own. And Jack's death has hit Beth the hardest, even though she never knew him.

Is Beth about to take her own life too?

What did I think?

I love it when you stumble across a book that is so completely unique and unusual that you would struggle to place it in any one genre.  That’s precisely what happened when I picked up and tried to categorise Sarah Marie Graye’s wonderful debut, The Second Cup.

The story follows a group of four friends who have kind of drifted together and don’t seem to have much in common.  Or at least I thought so at first.  As we learn about each girl, I really felt as if I got to know them and their insecurities.  Faye seems to be the main character, although they all have equal parts to play, but the story and the whole ‘butterfly effect’ starts with Faye.  After a heart-stopping moment when she thinks she sees him in the street, Faye is reminded of her university boyfriend, Jack, and decides to trace him but unfortunately, Faye is too late as Jack has taken his own life.  As Faye recounts this story to the girls, the ‘butterfly effect’ takes hold to varying degrees as they each look at unhappiness in their own lives. 

There are so many topical issues discussed in The Second Cup, that it will resonate with so many people.  In addition to the difficult subject of suicide, I found the adult bullying of Olivia very thought-provoking.  When you think of bullying, you automatically think of schoolchildren but as we are now gradually becoming more aware of mental health we are learning to look for bullying in our adult life.  People can be cruel and unaware of the effect of their actions, but one thing they should be aware of is that karma really is a b*tch sometimes.

As a huge fan of our national drink, I loved the references to tea that are sprinkled throughout the story along with little anecdotes about tea-related things such as tea moths, teacup rides, and Alice in Wonderland's Mad Hatter's Tea Party.  I thoroughly enjoyed finding these little snippets hidden between chapters and even learned some things about tea along the way!  Sarah Marie Graye is spot on about one thing: you never need to answer the question about a second cup because the answer is always yes!

The Second Cup is an intensely thought-provoking, genre-defying book; what a wonderful, hauntingly beautiful debut.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Sarah Marie Graye was born in Manchester in 1975, to English Catholic parents. To the outside world Sarah Marie’s childhood followed a relatively typical Manchester upbringing, until aged nine, when she was diagnosed with depression.

It’s a diagnosis that has stayed with Sarah Marie over three decades, and something she believes has coloured every life decision, including the one to write a novel.

Sarah Marie wrote The Second Cup as part of an MA Creative Writing practice as research degree at London South Bank University – where she was the vice-chancellor’s scholarship holder.

Sarah Marie was diagnosed with ADHD in November 2017 and published an extended edition of The Second Cup in February 2018 that included character interviews so she could diagnose one of her characters with the same condition.

Amazon author page:


Win 3 x Signed copies of The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Friday, 20 July 2018

BLOG TOUR: No Further Questions - Gillian McAllister

The compulsive thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author. You'd trust your sister with your life. But should you?
The police say she's guilty.
She insists she's innocent.

She's your sister.
You loved her.
You trusted her.
But they say she killed your child.

Who do you believe?

Original, devilishly clever and impossible to forget, this is a thriller with a difference. You won't be able to tear yourself away from the trial that will determine both sisters' fates.

What did I think?

As if I don't get excited enough about books, it's a whole new level of excitement when a new Gillian McAllister book comes out.  Gillian McAllister is so super-talented that she has the amazing ability to write books that are brilliantly unique and pretty darn unputdownable.

No Further Questions is an outstanding courtroom drama with a thrilling twist and many thought-provoking moments, as I asked myself who I believed and what I would have done in the same situation.  It's Martha's worst nightmare when she receives a call that no mother should ever have to take: her 8 week old daughter, Layla, has died whilst in the care of her sister, Becky.  What at first appears to be a cot death turns into something more sinister when a post mortem is carried out and the results show that Layla has been smothered.  At the time of Layla's death, only Becky was in the house but Becky continues to profess her innocence.  Did she do it?

What an outstanding piece of fiction; I absolutely loved the courtroom setting and the flashbacks to the night Layla died.  I was like a bloodhound hunting for clues and sniffing through the evidence laid out before me, but I have to admit that I was a little too good at spotting the clues so I did work out some of the story way before the end.  It didn't spoil the story at all for me though, as I enjoyed it from start to finish, and rather enjoyed my little Hercule Poirot 'Aha!' moment at the end.

I love the relationship that Martha and Becky have and Martha's conflicting emotions; she so wants to believe that Becky is innocent but all the evidence points to her being guilty.  As we step back into the past though, we realise that there is a little too much 'take' and not enough 'give' in the sisters' relationship.  

The storyline of a baby's death is quite upsetting but I felt that Gillian McAllister wrote with a perfect mix of respect for the life lost and unequivocal clinical detail, which is precisely how it would take place in a real courtroom.  Not that I've ever been in court but I do love what you think are cold hard facts being proven to mean different things, depending on an expert's interpretation.

A gripping, compulsive and totally addictive page-turner, I guarantee that you will be riveted by No Further Questions.  It's one of those 'hooked from the start' books that you simply can't put down and Gillian McAllister continues to amaze with the depth of her talent.  Superb!

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:
Gillian McAllister has been writing for as long as she can remember. She graduated with an English degree and lives in Birmingham where she now works as a lawyer. Her debut novel Everything But The Truth was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. Anything You Do Say followed in January 2018 and was both a kindle and paperback bestseller. No Further Questions will be published in autumn 2018. 

You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @gillianmauthor. 

She also blogs at

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Wednesday, 18 July 2018

BLOG BLITZ: Pretty Ugly Lies - Pamela Crane

What causes a woman to murder her whole family?

Jo's idyllic life would make most people jealous. Until one day her daughter is abducted and the only way to find her is to unravel her dark past.

Ellie is a devoted wife... until she discovers the pain of betrayal. Now vengeance is all she can think about.

Party-girl Shayla knows how to hide her demons. But when she's confronted with a life-shattering choice, it will cost her everything.

June knows suffering intimately, though the smile she wears keeps it hidden.

Soon the lives of these four women intersect and one of them is about to snap…

From USA TODAY best-selling author Pamela Crane comes "a thought-provoking domestic noir novel perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and B.A. Paris ... A chilling look at the secrets mothers will hide for the sake of their families, and the gruesome reality of what can break an everyday woman."

What did I think?

If I could only write two words for this book it would be: ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT.  Talk about hooked from the start!  Once I'd read the opening page, I simply couldn't put the book down until I found out whose family had been killed and why.

What an absolutely jaw dropping start to a book: a woman holding her dead husband's hand whilst her other hand holds a knife covered with the blood of her children.  WHAT!?!?  Who is this?  Who lives at 15 Oleander Way?  Well I couldn't read fast enough to find out and as we peep through the curtains into the lives of four women we realise that any one of them could be our killer.

Jo Trubeau is hiding a secret from her past that comes back to haunt her when her youngest daughter is abducted from the playground.  It soon becomes clear that Amelia was chosen because she's Jo's daughter and Jo must decide exactly how much her secret is worth keeping.  As tension mounts between Jo and her husband, Jo is very close to breaking point and if Amelia is not found, who knows what she might do.

Ellie Harper has given up everything to be a wife and mother but her family treat her like dirt.  Her 11 year old daughter, Darla, acts like an insolent teenager and her 9 year old son, Logan, has been expelled from school for biting.  Both children treat Ellie like a slave and when Ellie finds lipstick on her husband's collar, it really could be the straw the broke the camel's back.

Shayla Kensington is suffering from bipolar disorder and has an affair in her manic state which she soon regrets, but by then it's too late.  When her son, Arion, finds Shayla with her fancy-man he transforms from a 'wet noodle' (as Shayla calls him) to a stick of dynamite.  If Shayla wants to stop Arion from telling her husband, she has to take matters into her own hands.

Our final suspect is June Merrigan.  We are introduced to June as she is hiding in a closet (a wardrobe to those of us this side of the Atlantic), desperate to escape her autistic son, Austin.  Also in the closet is a shoebox with a gun inside and June has very vivid fantasies of putting that gun to her head and pulling the trigger.  What secret is she hiding that would make blowing her brains out preferable to it being revealed?

Each woman became my prime suspect at one time or another and because of their juicy stories, any single one of them could have killed their family.  The way the whole story is put together is simply sublime; it's like doing a jigsaw with a missing piece and only when that piece is slotted in, can the whole picture be revealed.

The gripping, gruesome opening scene reminded me of the TV show Damages and Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies, where you see the end of the story and can't watch or read fast enough to find out how the characters got there.  I loved how the woman in Chapter 1 could easily be any one of the four women we are introduced to.  Their stories are quite heartbreaking when you delve into them despite each of them having the appearance of a Stepford Wife.  One of these women is a murderer...will you guess which one? 

Pretty Ugly Lies is what domestic noir is all about; gripping, shocking, surprising and absolutely brilliant.  If you like Liane Moriarty, you will LOVE Pamela Crane.  Take my word for it: Pretty Ugly Lies is pretty freaking great!

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Pamela Crane is a professional juggler. Not the type of juggler who can toss flaming torches in the air, but a juggler of four kids, a writing addiction, a horse rescuer, and a book editor by trade. She lives on the edge (ask her Arabian horse about that—he’ll tell you all about their wild adventures while trying to train him) and she writes on the edge. Writing murder mysteries is her escape from the real world of dirty diapers and cleaning horse stalls, and she bases her characters on real people, so be warned! She is a USA Today best-selling author of several award-winning thrillers, which you can find on her website at 

Author links:

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Tuesday, 17 July 2018

BLOG TOUR: She's Having Her Baby - Lauren Sams

Georgie Henderson doesn’t want to have kids, but her best friend, Nina, has wanted to have a baby for as long as she can remember. Sadly, Nina’s uterus refuses to cooperate. One drunken evening, Nina asks Georgie for the ultimate favour: would she carry a baby for her? Georgie says yes and spends the next nine months wondering why.

With intense bacon-and-egg roll cravings and distant memories of what her feet look like, Georgie tries to keep it all together in her dream job as the editor of Jolie magazine. Her love life’s a mess – and sauvignon blanc’s off the menu – leaving Georgie to deal with twists in her life she never expected.

Sams has created the Australian Bridget Jones in this hilarious story, an emotive trajectory that pushes the boundaries of rom-com fiction.

What did I think?

I didn't expect to love this book as much as I did.  It sounds like chick-lit with a serious storyline when Georgie agrees to be a surrogate for her best friend Nina, but it has a hilarious twist in the tale.  I laughed so much that I felt as if I'd had an intense tummy workout.  She's Having Her Baby is the best kind of exercise for those out of shape tummy muscles.

Georgie is a brilliant character; I absolutely loved her.  As a career woman with an aversion to babies, she somehow manages to be both selfish and selfless when she offers to carry a baby for her best friend.  Georgie's complete denial when she finds out that she is pregnant is so funny, it's only when she practically bursts out of her bra that it really hits home for her.  I almost choked with laughter when Georgie got fitted fitted for an F-cup and said that the F stands for 'fark me, your tits are massive'

Being friends from school, I loved the history that Georgie and Nina have.  Their school reunion is hilarious when Nina tells Kelly, the school bully, what everyone really thought of her.  Never mind rapturous applause from the people in the book, I was punching the air and applauding too.  It's funny how people remember the past differently and I wanted to smack Kelly in the face when she was being all sickly nice to Georgie and Nina but Nina saved me by giving her a well-deserved and well-overdue tongue lashing!

Georgie's job as editor of Jolie magazine reminded me of The Devil Wears Prada with all the minions running around while Meg The Big Boss swishes in and out issuing instructions.  Georgie might thinks she's friends with Meg but I've always said that you don't have friends at work and Georgie finds this out the hard way.  I enjoyed the trips to Georgie's office, as it gave us a little insight into the world of magazine publishing.

With her inimitable Aussie humour, Lauren Sams writes like an Australian Marian Keyes, as she manages to put an amusing slant on everyday observations.  The unbreakable, but often tested, thread of friendship is woven throughout the book so I knew that Georgie would 'get by with a little help from her friends'.  See what I did there?  Lauren Sams adds a few song references now and again and I bet I didn't even spot all of them but it was good fun seeing how she slipped them in there.

Both witty and heart-warming, She's Having Her Baby is as fresh as it is funny.  I loved every single page of it; fans of Lauren Weisberger, Marian Keyes and Helen Fielding should definitely not miss this one!

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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Saturday, 14 July 2018

BLOG TOUR: Confetti & Confusion (Paradise Cookery School Book 2) - Daisy James

The Paradise Cookery School is officially open!
Stepping in for a celebrity chef, Millie Harper is feeling the pressure to make the first ever Paradise Cookery School classes a dazzling success and ensure that bride-to-be Imogen and friends have an unforgettable experience.
Meanwhile, Millie is trying to play it cool around handsome estate manager Zach Barker. But whenever he is near Millie cannot fail to notice the chemistry between them – until someone from Zach’s past arrives and any potential romance seems out of the question.
When disaster strikes and the wedding is in jeopardy, Millie realises she may have to go above and beyond to make sure the school is a success. Can Millie manage to create a day that dreams are made of, and will she find a way to tell Zach how she feels?

Allow yourself to be transported to the balmy St Lucian sunshine by his uplifting summer read – perfect for fans of Jenny Oliver and Sarah Morgan

What did I think?

Sunshine and Secrets was my first Daisy James book and I enjoyed it so much that I couldn’t wait to slap on my factor 50 and head back to St Lucia for another instalment of the Paradise Cookery School.  Although Confetti & Confusion is the second book in the series, it can definitely be read as a standalone as Daisy James makes sure to include superb colourful introductions to all of her fabulous characters.  As I have read the first book, Sunshine and Secrets, I greeted these warm and friendly characters like old friends.

Confetti & Confusion picks up right where Sunshine and Secrets left off as the shiny new kitchen of the Paradise Cookery School opens for business.  Amelia (Millie) Harper and St Lucian native, Ella, worked so hard to get the kitchen ready and now the fun can begin.  The first customer is a bridal party, and while Imogen and the hens are cooking up chocolatey creations in the kitchen, Alex and the stags partake in some testosterone fuelled events like quad-biking.  Anything can happen, and often does, with Mishap Millie around but luckily hunky estate manager Zach is around to pick Millie up when she falls (literally).

Millie’s feelings for Zach have become more intense in Confetti & Confusion and every day she spends with him mends her broken heart a little more.  Millie’s stay on the island is only temporary and she is adamant that she doesn’t want a holiday romance but maybe Zach doesn’t either, only Millie is too insecure to find out.  As they spend more time together it is clear to the reader, if not to Millie, that Zach has feelings for her too but just when you think ‘the moment’ is approaching, Zach’s ex appears on the scene.  Millie retreats at the speed of light when it appears that Zach is back with Chloe and my heart sank for her but sometimes appearances can be deceptive.

When a fire in the hotel kitchen destroys the wedding cake and the wedding planner is nowhere to be found, Millie is determined to make sure that Imogen and Alex’s dream wedding goes as planned.  Well I say dream wedding, but it’s more Imogen’s mum’s dream wedding as Imogen and Alex would have been happy to get married at home in their local parish church.  As more things go wrong for the couple it looks like someone is out to sabotage their wedding…but why? 

Although I would have liked a bit more scheming and intrigue around the mystery of the wedding sabotage, this unexpected addition does manage to add more depth and drama to the story and sets Confetti & Confusion apart from a twee hearts and flowers chick-lit book.  It’s testament to the way that Daisy James writes a book so full of heart without leaving an overly saccharine taste in your mouth and that’s no easy feat when there are delicious recipes being described so beautifully that I could almost smell the chocolate!  Thankfully, Millie's story is far from over so I can't wait to jet off to St Lucia again soon. 

Confetti & Confusion is a mouth-watering, sunny delight; definitely a book to pack in your suitcase for your summer holiday this year!

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

My rating:

Buy links:
Apple Books (UK)

About the author:

Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her summerhouse, she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.


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Friday, 13 July 2018

BLOG TOUR: Between the Lies - Michelle Adams

What would you do if you woke up and didn't know who you were?

Chloe Daniels regains consciousness in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. She doesn't recognise the strangers who call themselves family. She can't even remember her own name.

What if your past remained a mystery?

As she slowly recovers, her parents and sister begin to share details of her life. The successful career. The seaside home. The near-fatal car crash. But Chloe senses they're keeping dark secrets - and her determination to uncover the truth will have devastating consequences. 

What if the people you should be able trust are lying to you?

What did I think?

I really enjoyed Michelle Adams' debut, My Sister, so I was very excited to read her new book, Between the Lies, and I am delighted to say that I was not disappointed.  The story is intriguing, the pacing is fast and I read it cover to cover one sunny weekend (yes, we do get the odd sunny day up here in the North East).

I loved the idea of Chloe Daniels waking up from a coma and not knowing who she is.  She has no alternative but to believe the people who say they're her family, even though she doesn't like the smell of them.  Chloe thinks her family is lying to her; I know they are, as I've seen the title of the book, so I was suspicious of everything and everybody.  Her dad is controlling, her mother is an alcoholic and her sister is afraid of their dad.  What are they all hiding?  Little gasp-out-loud landmines of truth are exposed at regular intervals to keep the pages turning rapidly and I was completely riveted.

The police are waiting to speak to Chloe about the accident that left her with a brain injury but she can't remember anything about it.  Chloe's dad is a neurologist so he has put himself in charge of her therapy and uses hypnosis to try to help Chloe regain her memory.  I really worried that he may have been inserting false memories as there are certainly some things that he doesn't want Chloe to remember.  I really wanted some things that happened to Chloe to be false memories but life can indeed be cruel.

Between the Lies is a riveting fast-paced thriller that had me completely hooked from the start and didn't disappoint.  I will definitely be recommending this book to my nice-smelling family and friends.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Michelle Adams grew up in the UK and now lives in Cyprus, where she works as a part- time scientist. She read her first Stephen King novel at the tender age of nine, and has been addicted to suspense fiction ever since. 

BETWEEN THE LIES is her second novel following the acclaimed psychological thriller MY SISTER.

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Wednesday, 11 July 2018

BLOG TOUR: Artful Eating - Karina Melvin

This book can change your life forever!

Rediscover the magic of eating for pleasure and enjoy a life of balance with the freedom to eat the foods you want without dieting.

Artful Eating will take you on a journey filled with stories, life lessons, practical tools and strategies all rooted in the most up to date scientific and psychological research. Learn how to reprogram your mind to lose weight and achieve the body you desire, by changing your thoughts, behaviours and approach to pleasure.

Successful weight loss is not about what you eat, it's about why and how you eat. We are missing the most vital ingredient in the weight loss battle: the mind. It is our mind that fuels every decision we make about food and by focusing solely on the symptom, the excess weight, we have lost sight of the cause.

There is no strenuous exercise regime, no food elimination, no strict meal plan, just powerful psychological tools and strategies which will create lasting change. You will be amazed at how easy it is to achieve the body you desire and truly deserve.

What did I think?

As a life long dieter, I am always looking for the next amazing diet book to be published.  I do always follow the plan and get varying results but one thing is constant: I always morph back into Miss Blobby as cutting out all my favourite food and drink just makes me want them more, resulting in the inevitable binge when I fall off the diet wagon.

So I opened Artful Eating feeling motivated and ready to try anything.  It wasn't long before I was nodding my head as everything Karina Melvin has written makes perfect sense.  Just making a simple conscious effort to eat half of everything is sure to make the pounds drop off.  As Karina says, the flavour and enjoyment is in the first few bites so if your body is crying out for a doughnut, simply have half of one and share the other half with a friend.  Your body will be satisfied and you'll feel good sharing too.

Any dieter will know that you have good days and bad days.  It's almost its own worst enemy; you have a good day so you reward yourself with a treat, meaning that you have a bad day.  This can sometimes result in falling off the wagon completely as you feel so bad that your diet has failed.  Karina doesn't encourage us to be good all the time, just good enough.  This completely removes the guilt out of eating so you can keep following the Artful Eating plan even when you have what traditional diets call a bad day.

I read Artful Eating with the purpose of reviewing it, so I didn't manage to complete all of the exercises which I think are pivotal to embedding this way of eating in your life.  I am definitely going to go back through the book to complete the exercises as Karina Melvin has completely inspired me to become an artful eater.  I have already begun trying to listen to my body and eat when I'm hungry - it's actually a lot harder than you think!

The hardest thing for me will be leaving food on my plate.  I think back to when we are young: as a baby being a 'good girl' or 'good boy' for eating everything and as a young child being rewarded with a pudding for clearing our plate.  We are taught from an early age to eat all of our food in order to get a treat, so no wonder so many people hoover up their meals as if it's a race.  This is going to be the hardest habit for me to break but I am absolutely determined to do it.

I love the way the book is set out in sections representing parts of a meal: starter, main course, dessert and digestif.  It really helped to instil the mindset that food is there to be enjoyed and therefore eating something you enjoy isn't bad.  Although she doesn't profess to be the greatest cook, Karina Melvin has included some amazing recipes in her book that I can't wait to try.  Some that caught my eye: four-bean chilli (I love beans and anything spicy), courgette cake (to satisfy my sweet tooth), kitchen sink brown bread (there's nothing better than fresh homemade bread) and mini scones (the perfect treat and super-quick to make).

For me the key things in Artful Eating are:
  • Listen to your body and eat when you're hungry
  • Respond to your body's cravings by eating what type of food you want
  • Taste and savour all of the flavours in your food
  • Halve anything you eat
  • Always leave food on your plate
  • Be 'good enough' and remove guilt from eating
  • Think of quality over quantity when buying food

Artful Eating is not like any diet book I have ever read before; you really can have your cake and eat it.  It isn't so much a diet plan as a way of life that will change the way you eat forever.  Artful Eating is so inspirational and I have every confidence that this amazing book will change my life.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Karina Melvin is a Psychologist, with an MSc in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy from the UCD School of Medicine, an MA in Addiction Studies and over ten years of formal training within the field of mental health, she has dedicated her work to helping people feel more at ease in themselves. She lectures in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy in University College Dublin and practices from her clinic in Sandymount. Her first book, Artful Eating: The Psychology of Lasting Weight Loss, became a bestseller in Ireland.

Karina currently runs an online program ‘Artful Eating: At The Table’ (, and hosts the Artful Eating podcast which is available to download from itunes.

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Sunday, 8 July 2018

BLOG TOUR: Needle Song - Russell Day

I am thrilled to be taking part in the damppebbles blog tour for Needle Song by Russell Day and I am sharing my review of this eagerly anticipated crime fiction debut (as it says on the amazing cover).

Spending the night with a beautiful woman would be a good alibi, if the body in the next room wasn't her husband.

Doc Slidesmith has a habit of knowing things he shouldn’t. He knows the woman Chris Rudjer meets online is married. He knows the adult fun she’s looking for is likely to be short lived. And when her husband’s killed, he knows Chris Rudjer didn’t do it. 

Only trouble is the police disagree and no one wants to waste time investigating an open and shut case.

No one except Doc.

Using lies, blackmail and a loaded pack of Tarot cards, Doc sets about looking for the truth - but the more truth he finds, the less he thinks his friend is going to like it.

What did I think?

I'm not usually drawn first to a book by its cover but Needle Song has one of those covers that you can't take you eyes off.  It strongly reminds me of Sons of Anarchy and apart from the lead guy having a motorbike, that's where the similarity ends.  Needle Song is something else entirely with Doc reminding me of Sherlock Holmes; a modern day whodunnit with clues just waiting to be found.

The story is told from the point of view of Yakky (real name Andy, which he hates) who is an apprentice tattooist working with the very unconventional Doc Slidesmith, kind of like Anakin and Obi Wan.  Doc isn't just a nickname, as he has a PhD in psychology so he knows how to read people which helps with his tarot card readings.  When Chris Rudjer, one of Doc's customers, is arrested for murdering his girlfriend's husband, Doc is determined to prove that Chris is innocent.  With Chris's girlfriend, Jan, turning to Doc and his tarot cards, this  gives Doc the perfect opportunity to winkle out everything that Jan knows about the events surrounding her husband's death.  I was so sure that she definitely knew more than she was letting on!

Although Doc is a great character with a lot of dry humour and Holmes-like deduction skills, I really liked Yakky.  Yakky is an ex-nurse and doesn't have the happiest life now that he's living with his dad, who absolutely cracked me up at times.  He is a master game-player and can play the sympathy and helpless card when he wants but I think he knows exactly what he's doing.  Yakky's dad reminded me of my Grandad who had to turn the TV up to earsplitting levels but could hear the phone ringing before any of us.

With such colourful characters in play, you could be forgiven for forgetting that there's a crime to investigate and what a criminal masterpiece that is.  Doc sniffs out the truth like a bloodhound and I really didn't know what was going to come next from page to page.  Hopefully this won't be the last we hear about Doc and Yakky, this modern day Holmes and Watson.

Needle Song is as unconventional as it is brilliant, Russell Day has played an ace and said to the crime genre: I'll see you and I'll raise you.  This is a riveting and completely astounding debut that I highly recommend.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Fahrenheit Press
Buy it from Amazon UK
Buy it from Amazon US

About the author:

Russell Day was born in 1966 and grew up in Harlesden, NW10 – a geographic region searching for an alibi. From an early age it was clear the only things he cared about were motorcycles, tattoos and writing. At a later stage he added family life to his list of interests and now lives with his wife and two children. He’s still in London, but has moved south of the river for the milder climate.

Although he only writes crime fiction Russ doesn’t consider his work restricted. ‘As long as there have been people there has been crime, as long as there are people there will be crime.’ That attitude leaves a lot of scope for settings and characters. One of the first short stories he had published, The Second Rat and the Automatic Nun, was a double-cross story set in a world where the church had taken over policing. In his first novel, Needle Song, an amateur detective employs logic, psychology and a loaded pack of tarot cards to investigate a death.

Russ often tells people he seldom smiles due to nerve damage, sustained when his jaw was broken. In fact, this is a total fabrication and his family will tell you he’s has always been a miserable bastard. 

Russell’s Social Media Links: Twitter

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