Tuesday 31 October 2023

The Fortunes of Olivia Richmond - Louise Davidson

After a terrible tragedy, governess Julia Pearlie finds herself with no job, home, or references. When she’s offered a position as companion to Miss Olivia Richmond, her luck appears to be turning. But Mistcoate House is full of secrets.

Olivia has a sinister reputation. The locals call her the Mistcoate Witch, thanks to her tarot readings, and her insistence that she can speak to the dead. Her father, Dr Richmond, believes this to be girlish fantasy and is looking to Julia to put a stop to it. 

Determined to prove herself and shake off her own murky history, Julia sets to work trying to help Olivia become a proper young lady. However, as she becomes a fixture at Mistcoate, it is soon clear that there may be more to Olivia’s stories than Dr Richmond would have Julia believe – not least because somehow, Olivia seems to know something of the darkness that Julia desperately hoped she had left behind.

As the danger grows, and the winter chill wraps around the dark woods surrounding Mistcoate, Julia will have to fight to uncover the truth, escape her past – and save herself.

Original and engrossing, this chilling Victorian Gothic ghost story is an outstanding piece of storytelling, perfect for fans of Sarah Perry, Erin Morgenstern and Jessie Burton.

What did I think?

The haunting cover of The Fortunes of Olivia Richmond gives the reader some idea as to how dark it is inside and this spinetingling historical gothic novel is a great book to read over the spooky season.

Julia Pearlie comes from a wealthy family but as a woman she is left penniless when her brother inherits the family's wealth.  Forced to take a job as a governess, Julia now works for people who should have been her peers.  Of course the reader can't help but wonder how good Julia is at her job with a transcript from a drowning inquest at the start of the book and this is a sad story that literally haunts her.

Mistcoate House has its very own witch in the form of Olivia Richmond and Julia has been offered the position as Olivia's companion.  I felt so sorry for Olivia, living with a father who cares naught for her, a grandfather with dementia and a housekeeper who seems far too close to her employer for my liking.  It's like a bubbling cauldron of intrigue and it had me completely riveted.

Set in the late 19th century, it explores the Victorian obsession with the occult and how the body works.  Dr Richmond isn't beyond using his own daughter for experimentation to secure funding, after all she's only a girl.  Olivia is a talented tarot card reader and she seems to know more about Julia's past than she ought to, including the identity of the ghostly boy who lingers around Julia.

Spooky, creepy and mesmerising, The Fortunes of Olivia Richmond is a wonderful piece of historical fiction with a dark, gothic edge.  Perfect reading for Halloween.

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

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Sunday 29 October 2023

My Brother's Keeper (DCI Rohan Roy Crime Thriller Book 1) - M.L. Rose

A missing child.
A killer on the loose.
A Detective with a deadly secret.

Detective Chief Inspector Rohan Roy is close to burning out. He works night and day in London to bring a human trafficking gang to justice, but when he unleashes his own particular brand of the law, his superiors take notice. He is ordered to take a sabbatical. To his horror, he is dispatched to Sheffield, a place he knows only vaguely. But this isn't any ordinary sabbatical. A child has gone missing in Sheffield, and the kidnapper has left a ransom note with a white Lily attached...

It seems the dreaded Lily Man is back, the brutal killer who took children, and sent white lilies to the parents. The Lily Man was never caught, and his victims were discovered dead.

But one victim, a seven year old boy called Robin Roy was never found. He was DCI Rohan Roy's brother. No one knows what happened to Robin. The guilt sticks to Roy like a second skin.

After twenty seven years, has the Lily Man returned?

Over the years, Roy has made a name for himself, tracking down child abductors. It's the only way he knows to atone for his guilt. Now, he must seize the chance for a final retribution. But nothing turns out to plan. Despite Roy and his new team's best efforts, there is no sign of the missing boy. Frictions spark up in the local community, and nothing is what it seems behind closed doors.

As the days slip by, Roy begins to fear the worst. Then another little boys disappears. Once again, a note and a white lily is left for the parents. The Lily Man strikes again, taunting Roy and his team.

Roy's sense of reality begins to unravel as the stress worsens. Will he catch the Lily Man before the town loses another child?

My Brother's Keeper is the riveting first book in the Rohan Roy Series. Written by the author of the Arla Baker Series, this gripping tale will keep you turning the pages late into the night. If you like deep secrets of the past, white knuckle plot twists with a sprinkling of humour and romance, you've come to the right place.

What did I think?

My Brother's Keeper is a very intriguing start to an exciting crime thriller series and it's a great contender for the Kindle Storyteller Award 2023.  I have to get one small niggle out of the way first though.  Whilst I really enjoyed the storyline and the tantalising thread that runs throughout that makes you want to read more of the series, it could do with a proofread as the errors were rather distracting.

I do love a flawed main character with secrets and DCI Rohan Roy certainly fits the bill.  Rohan blames himself for his brother Robin's disappearance 27 years ago when he was just a teenager.  It inspired him to join the force but the guilt and not knowing what happened to Robin have given him anger issues and he is sent to Sheffield to investigate a young boy's disappearance that bears a striking resemblance to his brother's cold case.  

I thought that I had worked out what was going on quite early on, but I am delighted to say that I was completely wrong.  I really like Rohan Roy, although I certainly wouldn't like to cross him, and I am keen to continue the series, especially the way that the book ends.  The ending is nicely done; it's not a massive cliffhanger that leaves you feeling unsatisfied as M.L. Rose finishes the main story nicely but leaves you wanting to know what happens next.   

Incredibly gripping, disturbing and fast paced, My Brother's Keeper is a riveting read and a tantalising start to an intriguing new series.

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

My rating:

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Thursday 26 October 2023

BLOG TOUR: The Perfect Christmas Village - Bella Osborne

When Christmas-hating Sam moves to Holly Cross, he thinks he's found the perfect home, until he discovers that, each year, Holly Cross transforms into the most Christmassy village in the whole country...

Blythe is just one sale away from being Real Estate Agent of the Month, so she twists the truth to sell a home to city boy Sam, who is looking for the perfect house in the perfect location. Little does he know he's just bought a cottage in the middle of the most Christmassy village in the country. And if there's one thing Sam loathes, it's Christmas.

Sam's arrival puts Holly Cross's chance to win the title of Britain's Most Perfect Christmas Village now in jeopardy, and the villagers are soon up in arms. Meanwhile, Sam is in his own personal hell surrounded by fairy lights and everyone is looking to Blythe to fix things.

But as the festive season looms, maybe there's more than just Christmas in Holly Cross for Sam to fall in love with...

What did I think?

I didn't think it was possible to feel festive in October but The Perfect Christmas Village is so full of Christmas spirit that it was impossible to resist (virtually) joining in and I absolutely adored this wonderful book.

Blythe doesn't make the best first impression on me, although she has her reasons for being so competitive at work, and everyone knows that you take what an estate agent says with a pinch of salt.  So Sam only has himself to blame when he finds himself living in the most Christmassy village in Britain, as he really should have done his due diligence before signing on the dotted line.

I know some people can't understand other people who don't like Christmas but it's usually for a very good, and very personal, reason.  Blythe really annoyed me when she kept pushing Sam and making fun of him although she does redeem herself in the most heartwarming way that had me reaching for my tissues to dry my tears.

The community spirit of Holly Cross leaps out of the page and envelops the reader in a huge hug.  I felt as if I was part of this wonderful community and I really cared about what happened to them.  I also loved Turpin the cat and his ability to find new hiding positions - I think he is quite like Sam and just wants to hide away from the community Christmas spirit.

Fabulously festive and wonderfully uplifting, The Perfect Christmas Village is a delightful feelgood novel that completely warmed my heart.  I simply can't recommend it highly enough and I am already planning to visit Holly Cross again next year.

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:

Bella has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel. Since then she’s written nine best-selling romantic comedies, two best-selling bookclub reads and won the RNA Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year Award. 

Bella's stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She lives in Warwickshire, UK with her husband, daughter and a cat who thinks she’s a dog. When not writing Bella is usually eating custard creams and planning holidays.

For more about Bella, visit her website at www.bellaosborne.com or follow her on social media.

Social Media Links – 

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Wednesday 25 October 2023

The Rabbit Factor (Rabbit Factor Trilogy Book 1) - Antti Tuomainen (Author), David Hackston (Translator)

Just one spreadsheet away from chaos…

What makes life perfect? Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen knows the answer because he calculates everything down to the very last decimal.

And then, for the first time, Henri is faced with the incalculable. After suddenly losing his job, Henri inherits an adventure park from his brother – its peculiar employees and troubling financial problems included. The worst of the financial issues appear to originate from big loans taken from criminal quarters … and some dangerous men are very keen to get their money back.

But what Henri really can't compute is love. In the adventure park, Henri crosses paths with Laura, an artist with a chequered past, and a joie de vivre and erratic lifestyle that bewilders him. As the criminals go to extreme lengths to collect their debts and as Henri's relationship with Laura deepens, he finds himself faced with situations and emotions that simply cannot be pinned down on his spreadsheets…

Warmly funny, rich with quirky characters and absurd situations, The Rabbit Factor is a triumph of a dark thriller, its tension matched only by its ability to make us rejoice in the beauty and random nature of life.

What did I think?

I've had my eye on The Rabbit Factor for a while and now that it is being made into a movie, I wanted to make sure that I read the book first.  This is going to be one heck of a movie if it's even half as good as the book.

I loved Henri, he's Mr Logic and relies on mathematical calculations to solve all of his problems.  When he inherits a run down adventure park (not an amusement park as he's fond of telling people) he also inherits his brother's debts.  The criminals who want their money back with interest think Henri will be a pushover but they have seriously miscalculated.

The whole setting in the adventure park is fantastic and I could totally picture it in my head, thanks to the big rabbit on the front of the book of course.  There's a strange bunch of people employed there and Henri finds himself drawn to one of them as the find they have a shared interest in art.  Henri's relationship with Laura was so lovely to read as Henri is so naïve when it comes to the opposite sex.

The Rabbit Factor is a delightfully quirky comedy crime caper with the most unlikely and endearing protagonist.  I will definitely be picking up the other books in the series to continue Henri's adventure.

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

My rating:

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Friday 20 October 2023

BLOG TOUR: The Puppet Maker (Detective Alana Mack Book 1) - Jenny O'Brien

The scrap of paper looked as if it had been torn from a diary. The words written in faint pencil. The letters rounded, almost childlike: Please look after her. Her life and mine depend on you not trying to find me. 
When Detective Alana Mack arrives at Clonabee police station, in a small Irish seaside town on the outskirts of Dublin, she doesn't expect to find a distressed two-year-old girl sobbing on the floor. Abandoned in a local supermarket, the child tells them her name is Casey. All Alana and her team have to go on is a crumpled note begging for someone to look after her little girl. This mother doesn't want to be found. 
Still recovering from a terrible accident that has left Alana navigating a new life as a wheelchair user, Alana finds herself suddenly responsible for Casey while trying to track down the missing mother and solve another missing person's case… a retired newsagent who has seemingly vanished from his home.
Forced to ask her ex-husband and child psychiatrist Colm for help, through Forensic Art Therapy, Alana discovers that whatever darkness lies behind the black windows in Casey's crayon drawing, the little girl was terrified of the house she lived in. 
Then a bag of human remains is found in a bin, and a chilling link is made – the DNA matches Casey's. 
Alana and her team must find the body and make the connection with the missing newsagent fast if she is to prevent another life from being taken. But with someone in her department leaking confidential details of the investigation to the media, can Alana set aside her emotional involvement in this case and find Casey’s mother and the killer before it's too late? 
Heart-pounding and totally addictive, The Puppet Maker is the first in the Detective Alana Mack series that will have fans of Ann Cleeves, Angela Marsons and LJ Ross racing through the pages late into the night. 

What did I think?

Oh this book chilled me to the bone and I absolutely loved it.  The Puppet Maker is the first book in an exciting new police procedural series starring Detective Alana Mack and I can't wait to read more so I hope Jenny O'Brien is a fast writer.

Alana knows all about prejudice in the workplace as her boss is a blatant misogynist and not only is Alana female, she's also disabled.  Alana may have steel wheels but she also has a rod of steel for a backbone and she is a strong and inspirational team leader.  So you don't want to be in the shoes of the mole in Alana's team when she finds out who is leaking information to the press.

There's a lot going on in the story to keep the reader hooked and the police busy.  There's the heartbreaking story of a little girl abandoned in a supermarket, a gruesome discovery in a bin and a missing person.  All seemingly unrelated...or are they?

Just thinking about the 'puppet maker' makes my skin crawl but I also felt really sad as it just shows how things that happen in your childhood can leave very deep scars.  I liked the way that Jenny O'Brien showed different sides of the perpetrator, almost humanising them without excusing their heinous crimes.

The Puppet Maker is a chilling, heartbreaking and very gripping police procedural novel with characters that I can't wait to meet again.  This may be my first Jenny O'Brien book but it certainly won't be my last.   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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About the author:
Born in Dublin, Jenny O'Brien moved to Wales and then Guernsey, where she tries to find time to write in between working as a nurse and ferrying around 3 teenagers. 

In her spare time she can be found frowning at her wonky cakes and even wonkier breads. You'll be pleased to note she won't be entering Bake-Off. She's also an all-year-round sea swimmer.

Jenny is represented by Nicola Barr of The Bent Agency and published by Storm Publishing and HQ Digital (Harper Collins).

Social Media Links:
Twitter: @ScribblerJB
Instagram: @scribblerjb 

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Wednesday 18 October 2023

BLOG TOUR: Fatal Blow (DC Mel Cotton Crime Series 4) - Brian Price

A shattering revenge attack
Mexton’s Major Crimes team is targeted by an Albanian crime gang as an explosion rips through the unit’s base.

For DC Mel Cotton – the attack is all too personal
DC Tom Ferris is seriously injured in the blast. His fiancée, Mel, maybe physically unharmed but she’s dealing with wounds you can’t see. She’s determined to return to work, but is she ready?

Death on her doorstep
Mel’s latest case is close to home – investigating a body found in her and Tom’s garden, the body of someone last heard of in Australia. Can she catch the murderer? And can anyone stop the Albanian crime gang on their ruthless campaign of revenge?

What did I think?

I didn't think Brian Price could get better after reading Fatal Dose, the fantastic third book in the DC Mel Cotton Crime series, but he's only gone and outdone himself again!  Fatal Blow is the fourth book in this outstanding series and it can be read as a standalone as it has its own contained storyline, but it's even better when read as part of the series.

It has such an explosive start that it did actually take my breath away and I physically gasped out loud.  These wonderful characters feel like my friends and I really care what happens to them.  The danger level is ramped up to maximum with an Albanian gang targeting the police, especially when some members of the force have targets on their back.

DC Mel Cotton wants to finally rid Mexton of this dangerous gang but she has a case that is a little closer to home when a body is found in her own garden.  I absolutely loved this part of the storyline as the Fearon siblings are all interviewed and they clearly have something to hide but they are sticking together like glue.

Brian Price brings the police investigation to life with his meticulous attention to detail and I felt as if I was part of the various police investigations.  The character development over the series is wonderful to behold and they're so realistic and true to life that I almost have to remind myself that I'm reading fiction.

Fatal Blow is another outstanding instalment in this fantastic series.  It's a gripping, fast-paced and tense police procedural that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.

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 12 October 2023

BLOG TOUR: Can I Trust You? - Rob Gittins

Twenty years ago, his daughter vanished.
He was the last person to see her.

Twenty years to the day, a second girl vanishes.
He’s the last person to see her too.

Axel Petersen’s life implodes as his teenage daughter disappears. For twenty years, there’s no clue as to where she is, or what’s happened to her.

Exactly twenty years later, Axel meets a girl of around the same age his daughter was on the day she disappeared on a train. On jointly alighting at the final stop on the small rural line, he offers her a lift to her holiday cottage. Then that girl disappears too.

Axel plunges into the search for this second missing girl. Along the way he becomes increasingly convinced there’s a strong connection between the present-day disappearance and the twenty-year-old mystery – and he’s right, although in ways he can hardly begin to imagine.

What did I think?

Oh this book is SO good; there are so many tangled threads to untangle that you simply can't trust anyone.  With two missing girls, 20 years apart, the pacing is electric as they're clearly linked but I had no idea how.

It's 20 years since Axel's daughter Cara went missing and not a day goes by where he doesn't think about her, so imagine his surprise when he sees Cara on his train.  Only it's not Cara, but a young girl around the age Cara was when she disappeared.  The girl is stranded at the station and Axel offers her a lift to ensure that she gets to her destination safely, but after he drops her off, she disappears...leaving Axel as the prime suspect.

The two-fold mystery had me on the edge of my seat and my eyes were zipping down the page as fast as lightning.  It's so tense, dramatic and completely riveting and I had no idea what had happened to either girl but I pretty much suspected everyone in the book at one point or another.  I loved how it all came together at the end when everything is revealed.

Axel owns a bookshop so there are some lovely passages about books, particularly one where Axel explains to Cara about books having a soul, but not just one soul as it has the soul of the author as well as the souls every person who has read it.  This is a stunningly beautiful thought and one I completely agree with.

With more WTF moments than Gordon Ramsay's kitchen, Can I Trust You? is a superb psychological thriller that really got under my skin and inside my mind.  I absolutely devoured it and loved every second of it.  A highly recommended read.

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

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Wednesday 11 October 2023

BLOG TOUR: Artificial Wisdom - Thomas R. Weaver


An enthralling murder mystery with a vividly realised future world, forcing readers to grapple hard hitting questions about the climate crisis, our relationship with Artificial Intelligence and the price we would be willing to pay, as a species, to be saved. Perfect for fans of Blake Crouch, Neal Stephenson, Philip K Dick, Kim Stanley Robinson and RR Haywood.

It's 2050, a decade after a heatwave that killed four hundred million across the Persian Gulf, including journalist Marcus Tully's wife. Now he must uncover the truth: was the disaster natural? Or is the weather now a weapon of genocide?

A whistleblower pulls Tully into a murder investigation at the centre of an election battle for a global dictator, with a mandate to prevent a climate apocalypse. A former US President campaigns against the first AI politician of the position, but someone is trying to sway the outcome.

Tully must convince the world to face the truth and make hard choices about the future of the species. But will humanity ultimately choose salvation over freedom, whatever the cost?

What did I think?

Mind-officially-blown!  Wow, just wow, what an outstanding and completely mind-blowing debut from Thomas R. Weaver!  I didn't think I would ever find a book that could hold a candle to Orwell's 1984 but Artificial Wisdom is 1984 for a new generation and it's an instant classic.

Journalist Marcus Tully is in mourning for his wife and unborn child who were killed in the tabkhir, a devastating climate event in the Middle East that raised humidity to such a level that no one could survive.  With an upcoming election to appoint a dictator, a whistleblower sends Tully information about the tabkhir and how it may not have been the accident that everyone thinks.

The thing that takes Artificial Wisdom up to the next level is that one of the candidates in the election isn't human, Solomon is AI.  When Tully uncovers disturbing information about the human candidate's decision making, Solomon may be the only one who can save humankind.  I just have to share a quote from Solomon that really resonated with me and made me sit up and take notice:
"But if there's one thing I have learned about humankind, it's how bad you are at living in the now.  People seem to live in both the past and in the future, two big overlapping circles, but rarely focus on the intersection and enjoy the moments given to them right now."
Vote Solomon!  

It was interesting that while I was reading Artificial Wisdom, I heard about an AI version of Tom Hanks being used in an advert without the actor's permission.  I was initially thinking that Artificial Wisdom was futuristic but AI is here now and it gives me goose bumps now that I have read this fantastic book.

Intelligent, imaginative and scarily realistic, Artificial Wisdom had me so hooked that when I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it and I was so completely immersed in the story that I even dreamt about it.  Completely unmissable and very highly recommended.

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 9 October 2023

BLOG TOUR: Love Lindisfarne - Kimberley Adams

LOVE LINDISFARNE…Take a Christmas trip to magical Northumberland and find love amongst the stars in this feel-good novel, which will transport you to iconic Holy Island where dreams really can come true!

Dumped at the office Christmas party, Ellie is about to vent her spleen on social media when a photo of a cute little dog advertising a charity catches her eye. Her world suddenly changes dramatically when she is offered a month’s stay in Northumberland to help look after rescue animals.

Ellie isn’t too sure where Northumberland is, but accepts, eager to start a new life away from London. Her destination is Lindisfarne, and her arrival on the small island in the North Sea is terrifying, fearing for her life on the causeway as the tide comes crashing in.

Ellie finds herself living in a hilltop castle, and far from the cats and dogs she expected she would be looking after, she is faced with all kinds of furry and feathery animals - and she doesn’t have a clue about any of them!

Welcomed to island life by the warm-hearted residents, she quickly embraces living in this special place, and from the moment she spots the mesmerising Zen with the gorgeous coffee bean eyes, her plans to stay single and mingle begin to fade fast.

Thanks to a severe storm, Lindisfarne is cut off from the mainland, and the islanders work together to salvage the planned Christmas events. Ellie is kept so busy that she hasn’t much time to think about her future when her time on the island ends.

Will the universe give Ellie its blessing? Will she find her happy ever after on the enchanting island of Lindisfarne? If it’s in the stars, then it’s in the stars…

What did I think?

Love Lindisfarne is an absolute joy to read; it's like a romcom coupled with a visitors' guide to Holy Island and I loved every second of my virtual visit to Northumberland.  Although Northumberland is actually on my doorstep so I could just as easily go there in real life too and Holy Island certainly beckons after reading this fabulous book.

Ellie is very brave to up sticks from her life (and her amazing friends) in London and venture north to Lindisfarne to help look after a collection of hilariously named animals.  The names of the animals still have me giggling but I'm not going to share them as they're best discovered for yourself.  I'm surprised my kindle wasn't feeling hot with the amount of welcoming warmth and community spirit that's woven into the story.

Of course Ellie didn't plan to fall in love but Zen is her knight in a campervan who rescues her from the incoming tide on the causeway.  Silly Ellie didn't realise Lindisfarne was an island that's cut off twice a day at high tide.  Both Ellie and Zen have been hurt in the past so it was lovely to see their relationship develop from a firm foundation of friendship.

Funny, festive and romantic, Love Lindisfarne is as warm as it is witty and I feel rather bereft now that I have left the characters behind on the island.  There's only one thing for it...I'll just have to read the book again soon.  It's a hugely entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable read that I really can't recommend highly enough.  I loved it so much that I've already bought a paperback to place on my favourites shelf.

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

My rating:

Purchase links:
Amazon US

About the author:
Kim might be new on the writing block, but she was first published as a teenager writing happy ever after stories for other teens! She progressed to women's magazines before life and work got in the way. Kim began writing again seriously a few years ago and during that relatively short time has won and been placed in several well-known writing competitions. Love Lindisfarne started off life being shortlisted by Penguin Michael Joseph which gave Kim the impetus to finish it, and Kim turned down the opportunity of traditional publishing because she wanted to keep the cover and content she had dreamed of since the book's concept!  

Like buses that take forever then two come along at once, Kim will also be traditionally published this year too, with just one month between the books. Kim was a finalist in this year's Comedy Women in Print competition, and her prize was to see her work (this time based in Newcastle) in the Book of Witty Women to be published by Farrago in September.

Social Media links:
Twitter:  @kim_adamsWriter 
Instagram: @love_lindisfarne 

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Sunday 8 October 2023

Only You - Eva Jordan

Can true love survive betrayal?

Once upon a time, Ben and Leora fell in love and dreamt of a bright future together. But after he committed an unforgivable act, she was left heartbroken. Decades later he still had no memory of that fateful night . . .

Now, their worlds are about to collide in a way they never imagined. Drawn together again by an unforeseen tragedy, in a world that has drastically changed since they first met, Ben and Leora are about to discover whether true love really can endure. But will the couple’s reunion be more of a nightmare than a fairytale?

Only You is a powerful novel about passion, friendship and betrayal.

What did I think?

Oh my goodness, what a stunningly breathtaking book.  I am a huge fan of Eva Jordan's books and although I couldn't possibly pick a favourite from among them as they're all brilliant, Only You would definitely be a strong contender if I had to pin my colours to the mast.

This is what I would call a Humpty Dumpty book, as I was very much like Humpty sitting on my chair being immersed in some cracking nostalgia from the 80s, then SMASH! my heart broke for Leora.  Then, just when I thought I couldn't be more heartbroken, the heartbreak kept on coming and tears welled in my eyes causing the worst horror imaginable: I had to put my kindle down!

Eva Jordan provides the emotional superglue to piece together my fractured heart bit by bit but I think I left a little bit behind in the book as Leora and Ben have been on my mind since finishing this wonderful story.  Leora and Ben were meant to be together from the start but misunderstandings, a femme fatale and a bit of meddling crushed all of their hopes and dreams.

As well as Leora and Ben's love story, there's also the horror of events from the prologue hovering over the reader like a storm cloud and when it rains, it pours!  It's well worth reading the acknowledgements at the end to discover the inspiration for Leora's character and that particular lady is one heck of an inspiration.

Filled with nostalgia, heartbreak, emotion and inspiration, Only You is a beautifully written novel that completely captured my heart and hasn't let it go.  It's an unmissable story and one I really can't recommend highly enough.  All the stars for this one!

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

My rating:

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Thursday 5 October 2023

Liar's Beach - Katie Cotugno

WE WERE LIARS meets GOSSIP GIRL - this YA thriller with a splash of dark academia is full of secrets, lies, privileged teens and beach parties. The perfect summer read.

A body in the pool. A friend who might be an enemy. A vacation they'll never forget . . .

Linden has always felt like an outsider and spending the summer at his best friend's vacation house, surrounded by money and privilege is doing nothing to lessen his imposter syndrome. But he soon has bigger concerns than fitting in - there's a body in the pool and everyone's a suspect - including him.

What did I think?

Liar’s Beach is an enjoyable YA thriller set in Martha’s Vineyard with a colourful cast of privileged characters.

Their wealth and entitlement doesn’t make the characters very lovable so when a body is found in the pool, it really could have been any one of them.  The concept of a body in the pool isn’t as gripping as you would imagine, but I don’t want to say anything more about it as it could spoil the story for others. 

The main character Linden is perhaps the most likeable character as he’s not rich and he’s like a fish out of water being played with by the elite sharks.  It was nice for Linden to see a familiar face in the form of Holiday, the daughter of his mother’s employer.  I loved the dynamic between Linden and Holiday and how they joined forces to crack the mystery of the body in the pool.

Well written and entertaining, Liar’s Beach would be a good poolside read for teens this summer.

My rating:

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Tuesday 3 October 2023

The Stargazers - Harriet Evans

'Don't you think there should be a name for people like us?' he said. 'Who look up and who dream of more, who dream of escaping? Who never lose faith, no matter how hard it becomes?'

'Stargazers,' I said. 'That's what we are'

It's the 1970s, and Sarah has spent a lifetime trying to bury memories of her childhood: the constant fear, the horror of her school days, and Fane, the vast, crumbling house that was the sole obsession of her mother, Iris, a woman as beautiful as she was cruel. Sarah's solace has been her cello and the music that allowed her to dream, transporting her from the bleakness of those early years to her new life with her husband Daniel in their safe, if slightly chaotic, Hampstead home and with a concert career that has brought her fame and restored a sense of self.

The past, though, has a habit of creeping into the present, and as long as Sarah tries to escape, it seems the pull of her mother, Fane Hall and the secrets hidden there cannot be suppressed, threatening to unravel the fragile happiness she enjoys now. Sarah will need to travel back to Fane to confront her childhood, and search for the true meaning of home.

Deliciously absorbing and rich with character and atmosphere, The Stargazers is the story of a house, a family, and finding the strength inside yourself to carry on.

What did I think?

You can't help but be drawn to The Stargazers by its beautiful cover and it's as beautiful inside as out.  This is the story of the Fane family and the stately home that has been in their family for decades but is crumbling to dust around them.

Set in a dual timeline where we meet Iris in 1922 and her daughters Sarah and Victoria in 1969 to 2020.  Iris has been driven mad by Fane Hall falling into the hands of her father's brother, Uncle Clive.  It's her house!  As she keeps telling everyone, and it would have been her house if only she had been born a boy.  Iris's obsession with Fane Hall has driven a wedge between her and her daughters and it has also fractured the relationship between the sisters.

It is absolutely heartbreaking to see how Iris treats her daughters.  All that matters to her is Fane Hall and she is determined to get her Uncle Clive out of her house.  It's a deep-rooted simmering feud but it has taken over the whole of Iris's life and she has missed out on so much.

Sarah is living her best life in her new home with her husband, Daniel and their two daughters.  Sarah doesn't know how to be a mother and my heart really went out to her as she struggled to adjust to motherhood while Daniel entertains his entourage of local ladies who hang on his every word.

There is so much going on in this book from school bullying that horrified me to an incident with a tree that I am still laughing about now.  It's one of those books that make you experience the full spectrum of emotions and there are some stunning surprises in store for the reader that I didn't see coming at all. 

The Stargazers is beautifully written with an intriguing plot and a powerful message about home, which really is where the heart is.

I received a hardback copy to take part in the Tandem Collective readalong and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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