Friday 28 October 2022

BLOG TOUR: Hear Me Cry - E F Wharton


A nun hiding a chilling secret. A literary agent, Katie Kovacs is ghost-writing her mysterious memoir, and delves into her grisly past. What secrets will be revealed?

Heather Parnell runs away from a commune in the 1970s and in a disastrous catalogue of events, is involved in the death of three elderly people. She becomes the focus of a media storm, who name her, The Commune Murderer.

Katie has her own demons. Haunted by an abduction she witnessed as a child, Katie believes she is being stalked. Her six-year-old son went missing years before, and Katie was convinced her husband was responsible. 

Will she ever find out what really happened to Oliver? 

Will she finally unearth the truth about Britain’s most notorious female killer?

SHE INVITED HER INTO HER HEAD, NOW SHE CAN’T GET HER OUT. 
 

What did I think?

I love Eileen Wharton's writing so I was eager to read her new psychological thriller, Hear Me Cry, and wow I was not disappointed.  This is a psychological thriller with a capital P that really kept me on my toes and I had several gasps out loud and many jaw-dropping moments.

I loved both Katie's and Heather's stories - there is so much to discover about each character that I simply couldn't read fast enough.  Heather is a killer who has always claimed she's innocent and the 'did she/didn't she' question was constantly see-sawing back and forth in my mind as Heather's story was revealed.  Katie is writing Heather's story but Katie could write a book about her own life with a missing son and a husband who could be a gaslighting champion.

Flicking between Heather's story and Katie's story, Hear Me Cry is a real page-turner.  I really can't write more about it as I might inadvertently release a spoiler and spoil the book for other readers.  In this case, a shorter review equals a fantastic book.

Hear Me Cry is an absolutely cracking novel that's an easy five star read.  Conflicting stories make it completely unpredictable and you can't tell what's real and what isn't - I loved it and most definitely recommend it.

I received a digital ARC to read and review for the blog tour; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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About the author:

Eileen Wharton is an Oscar winning actress, Olympic gymnast, and Influencer. She also tells lies for a living. Her first novel was published in 2011 to worldwide critical acclaim. And she’s won awards for exaggeration. It did top the Amazon humour chart so she’s officially a best-selling author. She currently has five ‘lively’ offspring ranging from thirty-three to fourteen years of age, and has no plans to procreate further, much to the relief of the local schools and police force. She lives on a council estate in County Durham. She has never eaten kangaroo testicles, is allergic to cats and has a phobia of tinned tuna. She’s retired from arguing with people on the internet.

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Nothing But The Truth (Charles Holborne Legal Thrillers Book 8) - Simon Michael


The past has finally caught up with Charles…

London, 1967

The psychopathic Kray twins rule London’s underworld, aided by their government connections, corrupt police and extreme violence.

Finally, Detective Superintendent “Nipper” Read’s taskforce has a chance to take them down.

The catch: Read needs barrister Charles Holborne to testify against them, while the Krays have evidence against him which would end his career and send him to prison.

Caught in the middle, and with his pregnant partner’s life and his career at stake, this time Charles has no choices left.

Can Charles put his past behind him once and for all? Will the Krays twins’ criminal hold over London finally be put to an end?

Or will everything come crashing down for Charles Holborne…?

NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH is the eighth crime novel in an exciting historical series, the Charles Holborne Legal Thrillers — gritty, hard-boiled mysteries set in 1960s London.
 

What did I think?

WOW!  I have loved every single book in Simon Michael's Charles Holborne series and if the previous seven books are the icing on the cake then Nothing But The Truth is the cherry on the top.  It is OUTSTANDING!  I don't think I've ever read a more perfect book; I was shocked, surprised, angered, amazed and I even cried.

Although it's the eighth book in the series, you can read it as a standalone as the essence of Charles' character is evident on every page, however, it is simply breathtaking for readers already invested in the series.  Charles has a long history with the Kray twins and their reign of terror could finally be coming to an end as the police are closing in.  Charles needs to be one step ahead of the twins if he's ever going to free himself from their grasp.  Can he do it?  You'll need to read the book to find out!

Weaving fact with fiction, Simon Michael has created a believable and atmospheric legal thriller that entertains from start to finish.  The court case scenes are always brilliant in these novels but oh my word, this one is stunning; I was on the edge of my seat and completely gripped as Charles wielded and deflected every single virtual punch.   

I have loved reading about the developments in Charles' personal life and he's a character I have come to know and love over the years.  He's more settled than he's ever been now that his relationship with Sally is standing on firmer ground but his mother's feelings towards him don't seem to be improving, even though her health is declining.  I love that Charles never gives up on her though - there really is nothing sharper than a mother's tongue and Millie's is particularly sharp.

Nothing But The Truth is a masterclass in crime writing; the characters are vivid and well-developed, the 1960s era is beautifully portrayed and the plot is sublime.  Whether it's the last we read of Charles Holborne or not, Nothing But The Truth is simply perfect in every way.  

I first used the word 'unputdownable' back in 2016 in my review of The Brief, the first book in the Charles Holborne series, and the eighth novel definitely deserves a similar accolade.   Nothing But The Truth is unputdownable, unforgettable and unmissable - words than can be applied to the whole series, in fact.  Very highly recommended.

I received a digital ARC from the author and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Monday 24 October 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Devil's Bridge Affair - Rob Gittins


Lightning splits the sky, night somersaulting into day
And in that moment, a life is lost…

The name of the Devil’s Bridge derives from a local legend, telling the story behind a bridge that was built centuries before for the town, built by the devil himself. But there was a price. The devil vowed to return at different times and in different guises with dark consequences for those who live in the bridge’s shadow.

Most in the town believe it to be just a colourful local story; a flight of fancy. Dark deeds can happen anywhere – and there’s no such thing as the devil.

Then a massive scandal, involving a schoolboy and his English teacher, hits the community, and even the most die-hard of sceptics begin to wonder if a devil-like figure is walking in their midst.
 

What did I think?

I was completely blown away by this outstanding novel from Rob Gittins; it's absolutely brilliant.  It's a thriller with a tiny element of the supernatural about it; it's really left up to the reader's imagination whether you think there's something otherworldly about it or not.

'I couldn't put it down' is a phrase I often use when reviewing books but it has never fitted a book more than The Devil's Bridge Affair.  I read it in two sittings and the world could have ended on my second sitting and I wouldn't have noticed.  I couldn't move my eyes fast enough to reach the jawdropping conclusion; the light was fading so I was holding the book up to the window rather than stopping to close the blinds and put the light on - I didn't have time for that!

I loved the story about the legend of Devil's Bridge - it would make small children have nightmares but naturally becomes a favourite hangout place for teens.  It's a focal point of the town that is about to be rocked by scandal as a teenage boy makes allegations about his teacher.  In a case of he said/she said, who is telling the truth?  The respected wife, mother and teacher or the hormone-addled teenager?

Absolutely fantastic and completely original, Rob Gittins has written an absolute blockbuster of a novel in The Devil's Bridge Affair.  It's one of the best books I've read this year and I don't just recommend it, I urge you to read it.  A well-deserved five stars and more!

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Sunday 23 October 2022

BLOG TOUR: Winter People - Gráinne Murphy


The wild Atlantic coast of Ireland.
Three strangers.
One question: who are we without the people who love us?

Sis Cotter has lived her whole life in a small house by her beloved beach. Here, she grew up, reared her family, and buried her husband. Now her children are far away and, in three days, her house will be taken from her.

Next door, Lydia has withdrawn from her husband, her friends, her life. She watches the sea as her own private penance for a wrong she can never put right.

Peter’s best friend is dying, and his long-time foster mother is slowly forgetting who he is. Adrift without his two anchors, and struggling with the ethics of displacing people for a living, he looks for something to remind him of who he is and who he wants to be.

Winter People is a story of forgiveness, resilience, and the power of the sea to unlock what we are most afraid to say.
 

What did I think?

Winter People is a literary feast for the eyes; it's so beautifully written with calm, gentle and soothing prose that reminded me of small waves lapping the shore.  The cover itself perfectly encapsulates the keen sense of place that is evident throughout the novel and I could look at this gorgeous artwork for hours.

There are three characters: Sis, Lydia and Peter, and three parts to the book: Storm, Sea and Sky.  I loved the layout of the three parts that brought the coastal atmosphere to the front of my mind and the long chapters that allowed me to really get to know the characters.  Each character has their own demon to face and Gráinne Murphy explores this sensitively and exquisitely.

This novel may be described as a slow burn but that's the best way to fully appreciate the sublime writing.  The cover of the novel mentions three days, three strangers, one question but I have to say that I wouldn't have been able to tell you what the question was if it wasn't in the blurb.  I think perhaps it's there if you look for it but I was carried away with the rhythm of the prose and simply enjoyed the beautiful writing.

Beautifully written, Winter People is a wonderful literary novel that should be savoured rather than devoured.  Gráinne Murphy is an author to watch and Winter People has the feel of a classic novel that will be enjoyed for generations.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Saturday 22 October 2022

BLOG TOUR: Yellow is for Sunflowers - Kathryn Freeman


Dean Baxter was everything a sensible thirty-two-year-old teacher should avoid. Five years younger, cocky, with a playboy reputation. Oh and guardian to Tom, one of her most promising students. But Lia was a rebel at heart.

Lia Stapleton was everything that was out of reach for an uneducated garage mechanic who’d made too many mistakes. Cambridge-educated, gorgeous and from a well-heeled background, she was his brother’s teacher. But Dean couldn’t resist her.

As Dean and Lia’s tentative relationship begins, can it survive Tom’s disapproval, her parents’ interference. And the dangerous return of his past.


What did I think?

Kathryn Freeman is one of my favourite authors; her books never fail to leave me with a smile on my face and Yellow is for Sunflowers is no exception.  Just like a sunflower, this book is all bright and sunny on the outside but it has a darkness at its core with a surprising page-turning thriller element added to the heart-stopping romance story.

I love the main character of Lia; she is a teacher who really cares about her students, encouraging and guiding them to get the best out of them.  Lia clearly loves her job but she disappointed her family when she didn't follow in their footsteps and practise law.  Just as well Lia has a twin sister who did exactly what was expected of her so her parents could feel proud.  I loved the relationship between Lia and Grace with all the resentment and envy that has built up over the years, it virtually fizzes off the page.

From fizzle to sizzle - I almost burnt my fingers on my kindle when mechanic Dean Baxter entered the scene.  Dean is Lia's love interest but he's younger than her, has the reputation of a gigolo, has a dark and dangerous past that is coming back to haunt him and he's the guardian of one her students.  All good reasons not to date him, but Lia is drawn to Dean like a moth to a flame - let's just hope she doesn't get burnt.

I absolutely raced through this fabulous book; I couldn't wait to see how Lia and Dean's relationship would unfold and whether it would survive both Lia's family's disapproval and Dean's past mistake.  I loved the dark and dangerous storyline - it added a whole new dimension to an already riveting story.

Yellow is for Sunflowers is thrilling, exciting, page-turning and simply fabulous.  I loved it and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

I received a digital ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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About the author:

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to write a book. It may have had something to do with my obsession with reading romance. Real life interfered and I headed off in a different direction – into the world of science, becoming a pharmacist before joining the pharmaceutical industry. I did end up writing, but it was about disease and medicines. Decades later, I’m finally doing what I always wanted to do. 

With a husband who asks every Valentine's Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), all the romance in my life is in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn't always about hearts and flowers - and heroes come in many disguises.



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Wednesday 19 October 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Butcher and the Wren - Alaina Urquhart


WREN WAS NEVER AFRAID OF THE DARK. UNTIL SHE LEARNED THAT SOME MONSTERS ARE REAL . . .

In deep Louisiana, a serial killer with a taste for medical experimentation is completing his most ambitious project yet. The media call him 'The Butcher' - and, so far, he's proved impossible to catch.

With her encyclopaedic knowledge of humanity's darkest minds, and years of experience examining their victims, forensic pathologist Dr Wren Muller is the best there is. The longer the Butcher's killing spree continues, the more determined she is to bring him to justice.

And yet, he continues to elude her.

As body after body piles up on Wren's examination table, her obsession grows. Pressure to put an end to the slaughter mounts. And her enemy becomes more brazen.

How far is Wren willing to go to draw the Butcher into the light . . .?
 

What did I think?

I really enjoyed The Butcher and the Wren and I read it in two sittings, although it is only 242 pages long.  I love the book title with 'The Butcher' being a serial killer and 'The Wren' being Dr Wren Muller, a forensic pathologist who is determined to end The Butcher's reign of terror.

The story is very fast-paced and incredibly intriguing, which kept me turning pages as fast as I possibly could.  There are plenty of shocks and surprises in store for the reader and several twists that I didn't see coming.  The writing is excellent and I found it really easy to visualise the often grisly scenes thanks to the fantastic descriptions.

Wren is a brilliant character and i hope there is more to come for her, especially as the ending gave the impression that there is unfinished business.  I definitely want to read more of Alaina Urquhart's writing anyway, whether Wren is included or not.

Chilling, gruesome and tense, The Butcher and the Wren is very well written and incredibly difficult to put down.  You can judge this book by the cover as the inside is as dark as the outside.  A very enjoyable read and well worth picking up if you're a fan of dark crime thrillers.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Monday 17 October 2022

BLOG TOUR: Riverside - Glenda Young, Ian Skillicorn


It's something a little different today on the blog, with a review of an audiobook drama.  Riverside is a soap opera written by one of my favourite authors, Glenda Young and it's published weekly in The People's Friend.  Ian Skillicorn wrote the script to convert it into an audiobook and it's fantastic so make sure you scroll down and enter the giveway to try to win an audio copy for yourself.


The feel-good, life-affirming story of love, friendship, family, and new beginnings!

Changes are coming to the riverside town of Ryemouth, and while some of the community are excited by new beginnings, others are finding it hard to let go of the past.

A new 14-episode audio soap with a cast of loveable characters you'll want to laugh and cry along with.

Susan and her boyfriend Dave can't wait to open their new café and deli, The Old Engine Room. But Susan's dad, George, is not so thrilled. He's never approved of Dave, who used to hang out with the wrong crowd. Can the happy young couple win George round?

Mary and Ruby have been friends since the first day of infant school, even though their lives have turned out very differently. Mary has a contented family life with husband George and daughter Susan. Poor Ruby has never been so lucky in love. Then she meets her teenage crush in surprising circumstances. Mary has her doubts about the charming Paul. Will Ruby finally get her own happy ever after?

Dave wants to put his past behind him. His dream is to make a success of the business, and one day be a good husband and father, like his own dad, Mike. Yet, he's forced to keep a secret from everyone he loves. Who should he turn to for help out of a tricky situation?

When the community comes under threat from developers, can everyone put their differences to one side to defend the town they love?

Riverside is full of romance, heartbreak and secrets, as well as gentle wit and humour.

The Riverside audiobook drama is based on the popular weekly magazine serial written and created by Glenda Young.

 

What did I think?

I love Glenda Young's books so when I heard that Ian Skillicorn had written a script for an audiobook drama based on Glenda's weekly soap opera that's published in The People's Friend I couldn't wait to listen to it.  I don't listen to a lot of audiobooks as I find it hard to maintain my concentration levels if I'm doing something else at the same time, but I didn't have that problem with Riverside as I was completely riveted from start to finish.

I've never listened to anything like it; Riverside is absolutely brilliant.  It's an audiobook drama with a full cast of characters and wonderful sound effects that bring the whole book to life.  Each chapter has its own little story as well as there being a thread running through all of them as we follow the characters' lives.  Running time is just under four hours with 14 chapters that average around 16 minutes each, so it's very easy to fit a couple of chapters in here and there.  I was so addicted that I could have easily listened to it in one sitting, if I hadn't had other books to read too.

The setting is the fictional town of Ryemouth (a nod to Glenda's hometown of Ryhope, where her fabulous historical sagas are set), and its undergoing a lot of change and regeneration following the closure of the shipyards.  The riverside, with its penthouse flats and artisinal vendors, is barely recognisable from its industrial past and, although it's sad that a lot of people lost the only job they'd ever known, most people think the change is for the better. 

The characters become instantly recognisable because of the amazing actors who play them and apart from one (who shall remain nameless) I loved each and every one of them.  There's a lot of drama, laughter and warmth in the stories to keep you entertained and they often finish on little mini cliffhangers so you always want to listen to more.  I could have kept on listening way beyond the 14 chapters as I am now totally invested in the characters' lives and I want to find out what else Glenda has in store for them.

Heartwarming, humourous and completely addictive, Riverside is so fantastic that I really can't recommend it highly enough.  I do hope there is more to come in audiobook as I absolutely loved it and I'm missing the characters so much that I am already considering listening to it again.  Without doubt, it's an outstanding audiobook drama that's not to be missed.  A definite five stars and I'd give it more if I could.

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

My rating:

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About the authors:

Ian Skillicorn is a publisher, producer and writer. He has written the script for the Riverside audiobook drama based on Glenda’s stories and characters. He also directed and produced the audiobook. Ian’s publishing imprint, Wyndham Books, publishes best-selling fiction by some of the best-loved novelists in the UK and Australia. He was a podcasting trailblazer, producing streaming audio programmes in the early 2000s well before the podcast revolution. 





Glenda Young is a best-selling author and award-winning writer. She’s written Riverside, a weekly soap opera published in The People’s Friend magazine since 2016. Meanwhile, she is the author of two successful book series – gritty sagas set in a northeast mining village in 1919, and cosy crimes set in modern-day Scarborough. She has also written official TV tie-in books for ITV’s Coronation Street. 



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GIVEAWAY!!
Giveaway to Win 5 x Audio copies of Riverside (Open to UK/US)
*Terms and Conditions – UK/US 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 Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Sunday 16 October 2022

BLOG TOUR: A Christmas Celebration - Heidi Swain


When Paige turns up unannounced at Wynthorpe Hall, she discovers the place she knew when she was growing up has changed beyond all recognition. She’s only planning to stay for a short time, but is quickly pulled into local life.
 
One night while driving home after delivering library books and shopping to residents she stumbles across an isolated cottage and meets Albert, its elderly and rather grumpy owner. She quickly realises there’s more to Albert than meets the eye and the same can be said for the other man she can’t seem to help running into, handsome but brooding Brodie.
 
All three of them have a secret and a desire to hide away from the world, but with Christmas on the horizon, is that really the best way to celebrate the season?
 

What did I think?

There's something so very special about a Heidi Swain novel so I was super excited to read A Christmas Celebration, and it completely exceeded all of my expectations.  Even though it's only October it made me feel rather festive, but more than that, it warmed my heart and filled me with goodwill.

I totally identified and emphasised with the main character of Paige.  She made a mistake in her job that she is totally beating herself up about and she keeps imagining the worst that could have happened, even though it didn't.  Paige is inflicted with that old 'what if...' that goes round and round inside your head and causes nightmares.

A visit to Paige's godparents is just the tonic that she needs and it seems like Paige has turned up at just the right time - with so much to do in the run up to Christmas, Paige is kept very busy and has little time to dwell on what might have been.  I couldn't help but be infected by some of Angus' enthusiasm for all things festive, especially from Heidi Swain's wonderful, magical descriptions of Wynthorpe Hall and the beautiful village of Wynbridge.

I was completely enthralled by the two men who enter Paige's life.  I could have reached into the book and given a huge hug to octogenarian Albert and reading about his lonely existence brought a tear to my eye.  It was so lovely to see the community spirit in Wynbridge that reaches out to people living alone in isolated homes.  Albert may have started my heart warming but Paige's love interest Brodie had my heart racing.  I mean, who doesn't love a Mr Darcy type character in a novel?  

I love how Heidi Swain's novels are standalone but often reference her earlier novels and I loved the mentions of the Cherry Tree Cafe and Skylark Farm, even though it has been many years since I read about them.  I felt like I was meeting old friends again and seeing how well they were doing added another couple of degrees on my heart temperature scale.

Completely heartwarming and gloriously festive, A Christmas Celebration is simply fabulous.  I really hope I get time to read it again nearer Christmas as it's the perfect book to read during the festive season.  Very highly recommended. 

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Thursday 13 October 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Empire - Michael Ball


Welcome to The Empire theatre

1922. When Jack Treadwell arrives at The Empire, in the middle of a rehearsal, he is instantly mesmerised. But amid the glitz and glamour, he soon learns that the true magic of the theatre lies in its cast of characters - both on stage and behind the scenes.

There's stunning starlet Stella Stanmore and Hollywood heartthrob Lancelot Drake; and Ruby Rowntree, who keeps the music playing, while Lady Lillian Lassiter, theatre owner and former showgirl, is determined to take on a bigger role. And then there's cool, competent Grace Hawkins, without whom the show would never go on . . . could she be the leading lady Jack is looking for?

When long-held rivalries threaten The Empire's future, tensions rise along with the curtain. There is treachery at the heart of the company and a shocking secret waiting in the wings. Can Jack discover the truth before it's too late, and the theatre he loves goes dark?

Musical theatre legend Michael Ball brings his trademark warmth, wit and glamour to this, his debut novel.

Enjoy the show!
 

What did I think?

I've admired Michael Ball for many years, and I've been lucky enough to see him sing live, so I was both excited and nervous when I discovered that he had written a novel.  Excited as it's THE Michael Ball and nervous as just because he's a successful singer and actor doesn't mean he'll be a good author. I needn't have been nervous at all though as there really is no end to Michael Ball's talent; we all know that he can sing but he sure can write too!

The Empire is set in 1922 when going to the theatre is perfect escapism following the horror of the Great War.  Jack Treadwell returns from the war to find that his parents have both passed away and he needs to find himself a job.  Jack turns up at The Empire theatre at just the right time as they have a vacancy for a stage doorman and he is given the job on the spot.  

Jack fits in so well and he quickly comes to love The Empire theatre as much as the other longstanding employees.  So, when rival theatre owner Joe Allerdyce makes it known that he wants to add The Empire to his collection (by fair means or foul), Jack and his colleagues set out to save the theatre.  They come up with the most brilliant and ingenious ideas that had me laughing out loud and giving virtual rounds of applause.

It's quite a busy plot with a large cast of colourful characters but it never gets confusing and there's a handy character list at the start of the book if you do need to refer back to it.  I am so impressed by the writing; every scene is so vividly portrayed that I felt as if I was there, front and centre watching the wonderful productions.  

Filled with skulduggery and glamour, The Empire is incredibly entertaining from start to finish and I absolutely LOVED it.  It’s so good that I almost forgot to drink my cup of tea, I was so engrossed in the story; that’s definitely the mark of a good book in my case as I love a cuppa!

It's a fantastic debut novel and I hope it's the first of many, if Michael Ball can find time in his busy schedule to write them.  I think the film rights will immediately get snapped up and if The Empire isn't made into a film, I really will eat my hat.  Bravo, Mr Ball.

I received a digital ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Puchase links:




About the author:
Michael Ball OBE is a singer, actor, presenter and now author. He's been a star of musical theatre for over three decades, winning the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical twice, he's also won two BRIT awards and been nominated for a Grammy. Michael regularly sells out both his solo tours and his Ball & Boe shows with Alfie Boe and has multiple platinum albums. The Empire is his first novel.

Social Media Links
Twitter: @mrmichaelball   //  @ZaffreBooks








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Wednesday 12 October 2022

BLOG TOUR: Squire's Hazard (The Meonbridge Chronicles Book 5) - Carolyn Hughes


How do you overcome the loathing, lust and bitterness threatening you and your family’s honour?

It’s 1363, and in Steyning Castle, Sussex, Dickon de Bohun is enjoying life as a squire in the household of Earl Raoul de Fougère. Or he would be, if it weren’t for Edwin de Courtenay, who’s making his life a misery with his bullying, threatening to expose the truth about Dickon’s birth.

At home in Meonbridge for Christmas, Dickon notices how grown-up his childhood playmate, Libby Fletcher, has become since he last saw her and feels the stirrings of desire. Libby, seeing how different he is too, falls instantly in love. But as a servant to Dickon’s grandmother, Lady Margaret de Bohun, she could surely never be his wife.

Margery Tyler, Libby’s aunt, meeting her niece by chance, learns of her passion for young Dickon. Their conversation rekindles Margery’s long-held rancour against the de Bohuns, whom she blames for all the ills that befell her family, including her own servitude. For years she’s hidden her hunger for revenge, but she can no longer keep her hostility in check.

As the future Lord of Meonbridge, Dickon knows he must rise above de Courtenay’s loathing and intimidation, and get the better of him. And, surely, he must master his lust for Libby, so his own mother’s shocking history is not repeated? Of Margery’s bitterness, however, he has yet to learn… 

Beset by the hazards triggered by such powerful and dangerous emotions, can Dickon summon up the courage and resolve to overcome them?

Secrets, hatred and betrayal, but also love and courage –
Squire’s Hazard, the fifth MEONBRIDGE CHRONICLE 
 

What did I think?

The fictional village of Meonbridge is one of my favourite places to virtually visit through Carolyn Hughes' fabulous Meonbridge Chronicles series.  Squire's Hazard is book five and I was as eager to read it as I am eager for more - I just can't get enough of these books!  

Squire's Hazard can most definitely be read as a standalone and for anyone new to the series, or established fans requiring a reminder, there is a handy of cast of characters at the start of the book.  

This book sees young Dickon de Bohun taking centre stage as he learns all the skills required to be the future Lord of Meonbridge.  Dickon has the misfortune to be studying alongside Edwin de Courtenay, who takes an instant dislike to Dickon and begins a campaign of bullying that certainly raised my ire.  I'm not one for violence but I could have boxed that Edwin's ears!

Dickon is growing up fast and so is his childhood friend, Libby.  With hormones raging, the pair become confused and excited by the new feelings they are experiencing but they know that they can never marry due to their very different positions in society.  I loved this part of the story, with Dickon and Libby falling in love but destined to be starcrossed lovers.  They are too young to understand the different forms of love but it's clear that they have deep affection for each other.

Carolyn Hughes' writing is once again exceptional as she takes us on a virtual journey into the 14th century.  The whole story is so immersive and vivid that I felt as if I was actually in Meonbridge watching events as they happened.  I've loved every single instalment in this fantastic series and I've become so invested in the characters' lives that I feel like I'm meeting old friends everytime I pick up one of the books.  

Vivid, immersive and compelling, Squire's Hazard is a stunning piece of historical fiction.  It's not a book you simply read, it's a complete sensory experience as Carolyn Hughes takes us back in time through her incredible writing.  Very highly recommended and not to be missed.

I received a digital ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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About the author:

CAROLYN HUGHES has lived most of her life in Hampshire. With a first degree in Classics and English, she started working life as a computer programmer, then a very new profession. But it was technical authoring that later proved her vocation, as she wrote and edited material, some fascinating, some dull, for an array of different clients, including banks, an international hotel group and medical instruments manufacturers.

Having written creatively for most of her adult life, it was not until her children flew the nest several years ago that writing historical fiction took centre stage, alongside gaining a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Portsmouth University and a PhD from the University of Southampton.

Twitter: @writingcalliope 




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