Monday 28 November 2022

BLOG TOUR: Cooking the Books: A Killer Collection of Recipes to Die For - The Hobeck Team

If an army marches on its stomach, what do crime fiction authors do? Here’s your answer, an exclusive collection of recipes from the Hobeck Books authors team served with a dash of brilliant flash fiction too…

If you love a dribble of ketchup or a drizzle of raspberry jus with your fiction, then this is the cookery book for you.

Discover the delights of mouth-watering Maltese rabbit pasta and luscious lamb in coffee. Or dare to sample chicken wings more deadly than a game of chilli roulette.

Then there’s the story of how a midnight cheese, cucumber and salad cream sandwich helped launch Hobeck itself.

This collection guarantees stomach rumbles and belly roils, and all proceeds help others through the Trussell Trust and their network of foodbanks across the UK.

What did I think?

This is a wonderful charity anthology with an unusual twist: there aren't just fabulous short stories to discover when you open the book, there are also some mouthwatering recipes to try.

Hobeck publish outstanding books so it's no surprise that this anthology is of the highest quality as the authors I have come to know and love have contributed to it.  Even Adrian and Rebecca, Hobeck itself, have written stories and it was lovely of Rebecca to share the personal story about the sandwich that helped to launch Hobeck.

I was entertained from start to finish and I loved the format of the book with each part headed up by an imaginative recipe that describes the different genres that Hobeck publish.  It's perfectly balanced with stories and recipes; I loved every single story and there are so many recipes I want to try.

Proceeds from the sale of the book are being donated to The Trussell Trust and with cost of living rising so rapidly, supporting food banks is even more important now.  It really is a fabulous anthology - definitely put this one on your Christmas list.   Not to be missed and very highly recommended.

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

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Friday 25 November 2022

BLOG TOUR: A Murder at the Castle - Chris McGeorge

King Eric is dead. And when the motive is succession, murder is a family affair...


* * * * *

During a violent snowstorm, the Royal Family gather at the Castle for a traditional Christmas together. Amid rumours that he plans to name a new successor, King Eric stands to make his traditional after-dinner speech. He sips from a glass of his favourite whisky - and drops dead.

The king has been poisoned, and only one of the royals could have done the deed. Trapped by the raging blizzard, it is up to Eric's beloved head chef, Jonathan Alleyne, to play detective and get to the bottom of this heinous crime.

Jon is determined to expose the truth, even if it puts him in grave danger, and threatens to shake the entire monarchy to its core...

What did I think?

A Murder at the Castle is great fun; it's very entertaining with a colourful cast of privileged characters who would kill to get their hands on the crown.  

Set in Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands, it's very atmospheric with snow falling heavily on Christmas Day.  Chris McGeorge's writing is so vivid that I found it very easy to visualise the grounds and interior of the castle.

The cast of characters is brilliant and I loved the chef, Jon.  Jon has a lot on his hands on the biggest day of the year as King Eric has given Christmas Day off to all of his staff except his chef and head of security.  Jon has prepared King Eric's final meal as the King drops down dead after drinking his after dinner whisky.  As they are completely isolated due to the snowstorm, the royal family turn to Jon to investigate.

It's very reminiscent of Agatha Christie with every character having a motive: the King was about to name his successor.  I suspected all of them, as I was meant to, but I was still surprised as the full story was revealed.  I liked the idea that the characters are supposed to be the descendants of Edward VIII, in an alternative history where Edward VIII was never forced to abdicate, but I didn't really feel this came through in the story and I quickly forgot about it.

A Murder at the Castle is an entertaining cosy mystery and a great book to read during winter as the snow falls and Christmas lights twinkle.  I enjoyed it and could totally imagine it being made into a festive film in the future.

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

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Thursday 24 November 2022

BLOG TOUR: A Mother's Christmas Wish - Glenda Young

'I hope this Christmas is better than last year's.'

Following a scandalous affair, wayward Emma Devaney is sent in disgrace from her home in Ireland to Ryhope, where she will live with her widowed aunt, Bessie Brogan, and help run her pub. Bessie is kind but firm, and at first Emma rebels against her lack of freedom. Struggling to fit in, she turns to the wrong person for comfort, and becomes pregnant.

Accepting she must embrace her new life for the sake of her baby, Emma pours her energy into making the pub thrive and helping heal the fractured relationship between Bessie and her daughters. She catches the attention of Robert, a gruff but sincere farmer, who means to win her heart.

As December approaches, thankful for the home and acceptance she's found, Emma is determined to bring not just her family, but the whole Ryhope community, together to celebrate - and to make one very special mother's Christmas dreams come true.

What did I think?

With her fabulous cosy crimes, entertaining weekly soap and heartwarming Ryhope sagas, Glenda Young has fast become one of my favourite authors.  There aren't many authors whose books I read without reading the synopsis but Glenda is one of them.  It's not only that the books are guaranteed to be good, it's also that I don't want to spoil a single surprise of the fantastic storyline.

It's December 1923 and 17 year old Emma is leaving her home in a small Irish village and setting off on a long journey to North East England.  Emma is leaving under a cloud and I love the wonderfully imaginative scandal that Glenda Young has come up with for Emma.  Emma makes quite a first impression when she reaches her Aunt Bessie's pub at the end of her journey: the small coal mining village of Ryhope.

I absolutely adored this book; I laughed, I cried (TWICE!!) and I was entertained from start to finish.  I really don't think any review I write could do it justice, you just really need to read it for yourself.  It's festive in the loveliest way with family and community spirit at its heart and I loved seeing the main characters from all of the previous Ryhope sagas making cameo appearances.  I also loved reading about the Irish tradition of Nollaig na mBan (the Women's Little Christmas) and it's so beautifully incorporated into the storyline.

You can save some pounds on your heating bill by reading A Mother's Christmas Wish; it didn't just warm my heart, it warmed me from head to toe.  Glenda Young breaks saga stereotypes with her hugely entertaining and incredibly inventive storylines and A Mother's Christmas Wish is not to be missed.

Very highly recommended - I wanted to read it again the moment I turned the final (soggy, tear-stained) page.  It's absolutely beautiful, unforgettable and unmissable.

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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About the author:

Glenda Young credits her local library in the village of Ryhope, where she grew up, for giving her a love of books. She still lives close by in Sunderland and often gets her ideas for her stories on long bike rides along the coast. A life-long fan of Coronation Street, she runs two hugely popular fan websites.

Social Media Links – 
For updates on what Glenda is working on, visit her website and to find out more find her on Facebook/GlendaYoungAuthor and Twitter @flaming_nora.

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Tuesday 22 November 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Coming Darkness - Greg Mosse

A thrilling debut that has been likened to John Le Carré and Raymond Chandler . . .

Paris, 2037. Alexandre Lamarque of the French external security service is hunting for eco-terrorists. Experience has taught him there is no one he can trust – not his secretive lover Mariam, not even his old mentor, Professor Fayard, the man at the centre of the web. He is ready to give up. But he can’t.

In search of the truth, Alex must follow the trail through an ominous spiral of events, from a string of brutal child murders to a chaotic coup in North Africa. He rapidly finds himself in a heart-thumping race against chaos and destruction. He could be the world’s only hope of preventing THE COMING DARKNESS . . .

What did I think?

With a dystopian setting and a hint of sci-fi, The Coming Darkness is a little out of my comfort zone but I rather enjoyed it.  It's a book of two halves for me; it took me quite a long time to get into the story and to work out who the characters were but once I got over that hump I absolutely flew through it.

Set in Paris in the near future of 2037, I loved the main character of Alexandre Lamarque and I hope this is the first of many thrillers starring Alex.  Greg Mosse has created a scarily realistic fictional future world and the book is filled with tension as you don't know who can be trusted or what they are willing to do for their cause.

The writing is outstanding and I think because of the almost sci-fi element to the novel, there's a lot of world building at the start which I'm not used to.  So I found the pacing at the start of the book to be slower than I expected but boy does it ramp up.  Once I became immersed in this new world, the thriller element completely gripped me and I couldn't read it fast enough.

An intelligent, thought-provoking and scarily realistic thriller, The Coming Darkness is a fantastic debut from Greg Mosse and one I would definitely recommend reading.  I think it deserves a reread and I wouldn't be surprised if it will be even better the second time round.

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

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Friday 18 November 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Shadows of Rutherford House - CE Rose

Darkness lies at the heart of this family…

In 1959 Milly starts her new life as a housemaid at Rutherford House, working for the aristocratic Rutherford-Percy clan. Entranced by her new mistress, Vivienne, she becomes deeply embroiled in the household and the keeper of dark secrets the family conceals beneath the mansion’s grand exterior.

In the present day, Christie is working as a psychiatric nurse when she meets troubled patient Lillian Percy, Vivienne’s granddaughter and heiress to Rutherford House. They soon bond over the loss of their mothers – Lillian’s died when she was a child; Christie’s mysteriously disappeared over twenty years ago – and Christie finds herself increasingly fascinated by Lillian’s family and their imposing ancestral home.

As Christie learns more about the Rutherford-Percys, she finds a shocking clue that could help her uncover what happened to her own mother. Desperate for answers, Christie puts her job, her family and even her very life on the line. But how much of the truth does she really want to know?

A twisty, chilling and unputdownable page-turner about family secrets, perfect for fans of Kate Morton, Louise Douglas and Harriet Evans.

What did I think?

With two intriguing and compelling dual timelines, The Shadows of Rutherford House is a gripping page turner that's impossible to put down.  It's filled with dark family secrets and has an eerie, gothic setting in the grand ancestral home of the Rutherford-Percys.

The present day storyline centres around the friendship between nurse Christie and her patient Lillian.  Christie is haunted by the disappearance of her mother and she is constantly looking for clues as to what happened to her.  Lillian may have lived a life of privilege as a Percy heiress but she also lost her mother at a young age.  Christie and Lillian have a lovely friendship but the dark cloud of Rutherford House is looming over them.

Buried in the past storyline is an absolute bucketload of secrets and tragic events.  The key to unlocking the secrets of the past is in the present and the story flicks seamlessly back and forth between them as I greedily devoured every single word.

How the storylines intermingle is nothing short of genius and just when you think you have uncovered all of the secrets, there's more!  I absolutely loved it and I was shocked and surprised at every twist in the tale.

Dark, twisty and gripping, The Shadows of Rutherford House is an outstanding gothic thriller that is full of secrets and suspense.  Very highly recommended.

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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Wednesday 16 November 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Prisoner - B.A. Paris


Amelie has always been a survivor, from losing her parents as a child in Paris to making it on her own in London. As she builds a career for herself in the magazine industry, she meets, and agrees to marry, Ned Hawthorne.


Amelie wakes up in a pitch-black room, not knowing where she is. Why has she been taken? Who are her mysterious captors? And why does she soon feel safer here, imprisoned, than she had begun to feel with her husband Ned?

What did I think?

You're always guaranteed a good read with a B.A. Paris book and The Prisoner is no exception.  This is one twisted tale and once I picked it up I couldn't put it down.

In a rags to riches story that would make Cinderella envious, Amelie goes from sleeping on the streets to sleeping in the luxurious bed of the most eligible bachelor in London.  Marriage to Ned Hawthorne should be everything Amelie has ever dreamed of but nothing is as it seems...and then Amelie is kidnapped.

I could almost feel Amelie's anguish and fear as I experienced every moment of her captivity with her.  I loved how she showed amazing strength of character and refused to give up.  The ransom request is ingenious - as a numbers person myself, I thought it was very clever and had never really considered such a thing before.  That's a virtual round of applause right there!

Fast-paced, gripping and completely addictive, The Prisoner is pure escapism (if you'll pardon the pun).  Maybe the characters make questionable decisions and perhaps some things seem unlikely to happen in real life but this is fiction and hugely entertaining fiction at that.  

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

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Tuesday 15 November 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Un-Family - Linda Huber

For better, for worse

Wildlife vet Holly's life seems blissful: husband Dylan is the man of her dreams, she has a rewarding career and a lovely home. And yet, a tiny niggle is growing daily. Dylan is becoming increasingly remote - but why? Holly is determined to mend the fissure in their relationship. But a shocking discovery changes everything...  

Family ties

Then there's Dylan's family: his wayward twin Seth and their widowed mother Elaine, who is rather fond of a glass or two of sherry. Nothing in Elaine's life is easy, bringing up teenage granddaughter Megan while the family grieves the loss of Megan's mother.

Family lies

A tragic event rocks the foundations of the family, and Holly's life starts to unravel. Dylan drifts ever further away. Megan is left uncertain and alone, while Seth falls deeper into himself.

The bonds that once bound the family together are breaking. Can they ever be repaired?

What did I think?

It's been a long time since I last read a Linda Huber novel and what a fantastic novel to reintroduce me to this fabulous author.  The Un-Family is a real page-turner; it's like watching a family implode in slow motion and I loved it.  

This is one massively dysfunctional family that might look cosy from the outside but they're practically fizzing with resentment for each other.  Elaine is the matriarch of the family, she's a mother of three and grandmother of one.  I really felt sorry for Elaine, her twin sons came along late in life and then her daughter Bryony died leaving Elaine to bring up her granddaughter, Megan.  It's no wonder she's a little tired and forgetful these days.

The twin brothers are something else - Dylan really doesn't like his twin brother Seth.  In Dylan's eyes, Seth appears to be Elaine's favourite and Dylan can't forgive him for that.  Dylan is absolutely delighted to know something about Seth's past and he likes to frequently remind Seth about it.  All this hate for his brother seems to be affecting his relationship with his wife and poor Holly can't say or do anything right.

I really loved Megan, her love for her grandmother really shines through and she is nothing like her uncles.  It was so lovely to see her relationship with Holly grow and it just shows how lovely Holly is when she devotes so much time to Megan even while her marriage is crumbling around her.

Suspense and tension oozes out from every page and I couldn't read The Un-Family fast enough.  There are so many shocks and surprises in store for the reader and you never know what's going to happen next.  A highly recommended read that makes you appreciate your own family that little bit more.

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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Friday 11 November 2022

Three Pint Problems (The Accidental Detective Book 3) - Melvyn Small

Doctor John Watson has reached into his archives to treat us to three feature-length adventures. In The Darlington Substitution, The Devil’s Advocate and Murder on the Teesside Princess we see Boro’s greatest detective at the height of his wisecracking, foulmouthed, law disregarding and deductive brilliance.

If the devil is in the detail, he has nowhere to hide.

What did I think?

I absolutely love Melvyn Small's Sherlock Holmes stories and Three Pint Problems has a hat trick of stories that delighted and entertained me.  This Sherlock Holmes may have the same deductive reasoning as the original but he's been brought completely up-to-date by adding razor sharp wit and a Teesside postcode.

The three stories are all brilliant and I couldn't pick a favourite out from among them as I loved them all.  They read perfectly as standalones but with the same characters throughout, it's good to follow their lives too.  It's definitely a book I would read again as this is actually the second time I've read The Darlington Substitution, as it was previously published as a novella, and I enjoyed it just as much the second time round.

The stories are told from the perspective of Doctor John Watson and they're sharp, clever and incredibly entertaining.  I love how the spirit of the original Sherlock Holmes has been perfectly encapsulated and reinvented as a witty, sweary Boro lad.  Melvyn Small's writing is fantastic, creating imaginative problems that only the brilliant mind of Sherlock Holmes can solve.

I'm not usually a fan of short stories but I'm a huge fan of Boro's Sherlock Holmes and I could (and will) read these over and over again.  Melvyn Small also pays homage to Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes with several references to the original stories, for example Boro Holmes drinks pints of Engineer's Thumb in The Twisted Lip which are nods to two of Conan Doyle's short stories.  There are probably loads more references hidden in the stories like Easter Eggs for Sherlock Holmes fans to discover.

I really can't recommend Three Pint Problems highly enough; it's funny, entertaining and absolutely brilliant.  It's a book not to be missed and worthy of every single one of the five stars I have rated it.

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

My rating:

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Thursday 10 November 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Confession - Maureen Myant

A house on a quiet street on the southside of Glasgow. Neat, terraced homes with manicured lawns and pruned trees. Not the sort of place that reeks of decay or where dead bluebottles pile up on a windowsill.

When the police break in, there’s a surprise in store for them. They find Julie Campbell’s decaying body at her desk, her laptop open beside her. She’s a well-liked, respectable woman. On the laptop is a confession – to five murders. There’s one major problem though - only one of the victims she names is actually dead.

DI Mark Nicholson is persuaded by his boss DCI Alex Scrimgeour that the confession is a fantasy, and to drop the case, but Mark senses there’s more to it than meets the eye. As he delves further, the darkest of secrets are revealed, and everyone around him is dragged into a vortex of fear, danger and murder. No one is beyond suspicion as The Confession becomes a murderous reality.

What did I think?

Maureen Myant kept me on the edge of my seat as I greedily devoured The Confession as fast as I possibly could.  I wasn't just hooked from the start, I was hooked from the cover - how can someone who has died confess to future murders?

Julie Campbell is found dead in her home with a written confession that claims she has murdered five people.  The confession is quickly disregarded by the police as the people Julie confesses to killing are still alive...for now.  When the bodies start to mount up, DI Mark Nicholson sees a connection to Julie Campbell's confession but Julie was dead long before the first murder.

It's such a puzzling premise that I was constantly asking myself 'how did she do it?' and it's so very cleverly plotted that I simply couldn't put it down.  Mark is such a flawed character that his story was almost as gripping as the murder storyline.  I really wanted to reach into the book and give him a good shake at times as he seemed intent on flushing his life down the toilet.

Fast-paced, intriguing and compelling, The Confession is a cracking 'how did she do it' that kept my eyes glued to the page from start to finish.  It's well worth reading and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

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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Tuesday 8 November 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Accidental Detective - Melvyn Small

Thrown together by the British legal system, Holmes and his court appointed psychologist, Dr John Watson, seem an unlikely pairing... but sometimes the stars align.

Our two heroes are soon drawn into a series of riotous adventures that both bewilder and beguile. Holmes’ mastery of data, deduction and logic combines with his gin-dry wit and a casual contempt for life-threatening danger to ensure there is never a dull moment as he and the good doctor battle the mysteries that have the local constabulary baffled.

The game is afoot... oh yes!

What did I think?

I love books set in my native north east of England but I never dreamed that I would ever read about Sherlock Holmes in Middlesbrough.  Melvyn Small's plotting is as clever as the famous sleuth himself in this fabulous collection of short stories.

Holmes is brought up to date with added wit and sarcasm but his brilliant deductive reasoning is true to the original.  I love how Melvyn Small pays homage to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle throughout the book; not just the character names but things like Holmes drinking pints of Engineer's Thumb in The Twisted Lip pub which references two of Conan Doyle's short stories: The Adventures of the Engineer's Thumb and The Man with the Twisted Lip.  There are probably loads more references that Sherlock Holmes fans will pick up.

There are six short stories in this collection and whilst each one can be read separately, I was like a runaway train once I got started and I had no intention of stopping at the end of each one.  The stories are told brilliantly by Doctor Watson and they flow together beautifully with the same cast of colourful characters and references to earlier cases thrown in for good measure.  The humour is outstanding; it's drier than the Sahara and it made me laugh out loud on several occasions.

With six cracking mysteries to solve, The Accidental Detective is hugely entertaining and absolutely brilliant.  It's a wonderful modernisation of Sherlock Holmes whilst staying true to the inimitable features of Conan Doyle's original characters.  A must-read for any Sherlock fan and anyone who loves a good old whodunnit mystery.

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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About the author:
Born in Stockton-on-Tees and raised in nearby Billingham, Mel left Northfield Comprehensive School at 16 to train as a civil engineering technician at Cleveland County Council Surveyor and Engineer's Department. It was during this time, spent either at a drawing board or on the clever end of a theodolite that, following a rather sharp haircut, he was bestowed the nickname Melvis.  Thanks go out to Joan the tea lady for that one.  Fortunately Mel is not a vengeful chap and has not once even considered informing HM Revenue and Customs of Joan's illicit below-the-tea-trolley line in Kitkats and Marathons.  Whether Mel retains any likeness to the King of Rock 'n' Roll is debatable, however even the most imaginative would now concede he is less GI Blues and more the Vegas years.  Mel loves a parmo.

On the completion of his traineeship at the council, which included BTEC qualifications studied on day release at both Cleveland Technical College and Teesside Polytechnic, Mel relinquished his unused right to countersign passport applications and photographs, and left local government for a period of employment in the private sector. This included stays at WS Atkins, WA Fairhurst and, perhaps his spiritual home, the now defunct Bullen Consultants Limited. During this period, interrupted by a bachelor’s degree in civil and structural engineering at the University of Sheffield, Mel undertook a lot of modelling work. Three-dimensional ground modelling work to be precise, Mel's use of isopachyte analysis being now the thing of legend.

A natural engineer, Mel expanded his capability into that of hydraulic engineering soon forming quite a reputation in the fields of both storm water drainage and sewerage design, his skills in this area being such that he soon earned the honorary title of the Shitman. It's no exaggeration to state that Mel has forgotten more about storm water attenuation than most people will ever know.

Feeling more inclined to a digital era the modelling shitman left the world of roundabout entry deflection and balancing ponds to embark on a career in information technology. Following a master's degree in information processing at the University of York, he gained employment in the IT department of a large financial services organisation. It wasn't his fault. None of it. Honest.

With respect to the written word, Mel's efficient writing style is perhaps the requirement of both engineering and computer science to communicate in a concise manner. The comedy in his literary output being more of a function of a Teesside upbringing. Mel's first foray into the world of creative writing came in the form of slogans for leading tee shirt retailer Shot Dead In The Head. Mel's work included the popular ”What Part Of Theoretical Physics Do You Not Understand?” and “If You Can Read This You Are Too Close”.

Upping the word count considerably into that of fictional crime writing, Mel's first printed work Holmes Volume 1 and the imaginatively titled Holmes Volume 2. The reviews for this reimagining of Sherlock Holmes a dry-witted, working class northerner plying his trade in current day Middlesbrough have been amazing. If you would like a copy of these classics including their cult cover art, act quickly, They will soon disappear to be republished as The Accidental Detective series in November 2022. This will include a new volume of stories including The Darlington Substitution. and two new feature length stories.

And it doesn’t end there. Mel has now turned his writing skills to music and Project Melv!s. The debut single from this initiative, Provisionally Yours, was released in September 2021 and was followed up with The Perfect EP at the end of 2021. Work on an album of original music is currently underway. It’s shaping up to be something quite special.

If you would like an email providing updates on Mel’s various endeavours please sign up to the newsletter.

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Saturday 5 November 2022

Demon Copperhead - Barbara Kingsolver

Demon Copperhead is a once-in-a-generation novel that breaks and mends your heart in the way only the best fiction can.

Demon's story begins with his traumatic birth to a single mother in a single-wide trailer, looking 'like a little blue prizefighter.' For the life ahead of him he would need all of that fighting spirit, along with buckets of charm, a quick wit, and some unexpected talents, legal and otherwise.

In the southern Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, poverty isn't an idea, it's as natural as the grass grows. For a generation growing up in this world, at the heart of the modern opioid crisis, addiction isn't an abstraction, it's neighbours, parents, and friends. 'Family' could mean love, or reluctant foster care. For Demon, born on the wrong side of luck, the affection and safety he craves is as remote as the ocean he dreams of seeing one day. The wonder is in how far he's willing to travel to try and get there.

Suffused with truth, anger and compassion, Demon Copperhead is an epic tale of love, loss and everything in between.

What did I think?

Oh my goodness, what a stunning book.  It's a weighty book at 560 pages long but it fully immerses the reader in the deep south of America where poverty is rife and people struggle day to day to simply survive.  The survivors are the lucky ones.

I thought it would take a while to get into the book with it being so chunky but I was hooked from the very first page.  The writing is raw and visceral which gives Demon his unique and memorable voice from the moment he is born.  I could have read much more than 560 pages of this sublime writing that's for sure and I already have my eye on Barbara Kingsolver's back catalogue.

Although I own a vintage copy, I have never read David Copperfield and I will definitely read Demon Copperhead again after reading David Copperfield to fully appreciate Barbara Kingsolver's brilliance in this modern day retelling.  Dickens gets a mention too which is a really nice touch.

I am struggling to put my feelings into words about this book as it totally consumed me and I don't think Demon will ever leave me.  It's heart-wrenching at times, especially the things that Demon has to go through at such a young age, and it's sobering to think that Demon's story is mirrored by countless youngsters in real life.

Harrowing, gritty and completely extraordinary, Demon Copperhead is a stunning novel that unreservedly deserves a place on my shelf of favourite novels.  Very highly recommended.

I chose to read a gifted copy for the Tandem Collective readalong and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Friday 4 November 2022

A Gift Called Hope - Eva Jordan

A heartfelt novel of a Christmas shadowed by loss and regret—and brightened by hope for renewal—from the author of Time Will Tell.
Six-year-old Jack is counting the days to Christmas. But his grandmother is just counting the days until it’s over. For Jill, the holiday comes with painful memories, and she wants only to escape the recent past and its tragedies.
She’s moved and started a new life running a food truck in Widmore Bay, a quaint seaside town, in order to flee her agonising history.
It’s only for little Jack’s sake that Jill tolerates the tree and decorations. She just wants to spend Christmas with the curtains drawn, reading a book and drinking coffee.
But this season, she may stumble onto a miracle that restores joy—and hope—in her heart . . .

What did I think?

I've been a huge fan of Eva Jordan since reading her fantastic debut, 183 Times a Year so I was very excited to read her latest novel, A Gift Called Hope.  I don't think I can write a review that does this book justice as it didn't just blow me away, it completely broke me.  I cried BUCKETS!  Although I prefer reading physical books, this is one occasion where I was grateful to be reading a kindle copy as I couldn't stop my tears from dropping onto the digital pages.

So you may have realised by now that this isn't a sparkly festive Christmas book; it's a book filled with emotion as main character Jill struggles to cope with her grief following tragic events on a Christmas day that she will never forget.  You find out quite early on about Jill's loss and even though I was expecting it, the flashbacks that reveal what happened completely broke me.  I will never forget Jill taking that telephone call and I've got a lump in my throat just thinking about it now.

Whilst there is a lot of sadness in this book, there is also fun and laughter as Jill makes a new life for herself and her grandson in a small seaside town.  Jill's Irish neighbour Mary cracked me up on many an occasion as Eva Jordan perfectly balances the darkness of grief with the lightness of laughter.

Jill's grief is portrayed in such a way that it's almost a character in itself as she experiences guilt, anger and blame but ultimately acceptance and hope (as the book title suggests).  I felt all of the emotions with her as I was completely invested in her story.  I left a piece of my heart in this fabulous book, which ensures I will return for a reread in the near future.

A Gift Called Hope isn't just a rollercoaster of emotions, it's a whole fairground.  I cried tears of sadness and laughed until I cried but overall I felt the uplifting emotion of hope, the gift that Eva Jordan is giving all her readers this year.  Simply wonderful and completely unmissable - worthy of five stars and more.

Many thanks to Eva Jordan for sending me a digital ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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