Monday 31 July 2023

πŸ“–Book Review ~ The Housekeepers by Alex Hay

Headline Review
4 July 2023

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Mrs. King is no ordinary housekeeper. Born into a world of con artists and thieves, she’s made herself respectable, running the grandest home in Mayfair. The place is packed with treasures, a glittering symbol of wealth and power, but dark secrets lurk in the shadows.

When Mrs. King is suddenly dismissed from her position, she recruits an eclectic group of women to join her in revenge: A black market queen out to settle her scores. An actress desperate for a magnificent part. A seamstress dreaming of a better life. And Mrs. King’s predecessor, with her own desire for vengeance.

Their plan? On the night of the house’s highly anticipated costume ball—set to be the most illustrious of the year—they will rob it of its every possession, right under the noses of the distinguished guests and their elusive heiress host. But there’s one thing Mrs. King wants even more than money: the truth. And she’ll run any risk to get it.

πŸ“– My Review

The impressive House of deVries is about to hold a costumed ball which is in itself something of an scandalous oddity especially as the house is in deep mourning. With only weeks to go before the most unusual ball of the season, Mrs King, the housekeeper, is summarily dismissed for a misdemeanor which gives her the perfect opportunity to wreak her own very special brand of revenge on this dark house of secrets. With one foot firmly placed in the underbelly of society Mrs King gathers together an eclectic band of followers who, with meticulous planning, will pull off the most audacious heist of 1905. 

With a wonderful cast of eccentric characters The Housekeepers leads us on an impressive chase through the vagaries of Edwardian society. Some of the characters are truly delicious, far too many to mention individually, however, they all bring something totally unique and leave their own distinct mark on the story. From the minute I stepped inside the grand salon of this deliciously, dark Mayfair mansion, to the creeping darkness of Mrs Bone's pawn shop, there was never a moment when I lost my way as the description of life above and below stairs is done with a wonderful flair for Edwardian detail. 

The Housekeepers moves along at a cracking pace and all credit to the author for controlling such an intricate story-line which never fails to entertain in this glorious story of family secrets, retribution and the ultimate revenge. I loved it πŸ˜‰

About the Author

Alex Hay grew up in Cambridge and Cardiff and has been writing as long as he can remember. He studied History at the University of York, and wrote his dissertation on female power at royal courts, combing the archives for every scrap of drama and skulduggery he could find. He has worked in magazine publishing and the charity sector, and is a graduate of the Curtis Brown Write Your Novel course. The Housekeepers is his debut novel and won the Caledonia Novel Award 2022. 

Twitter @AlexHayBooks #TheHousekeepers


Thursday 27 July 2023

πŸ“– Publication Day Book Review ~ The Unforgiven Dead by Fulton Ross


27 July 2023

My thanks to the publishers and to Laura Sherlock for my copy of this book

You could have saved her. Sure as the tide against his Highland shores, the refrain beats into Constable Angus ‘Dubh’ MacNeil’s mind. For years it has haunted him, accompanied by the faces of those he could not save—the Burned Man, the Strangled Woman, the Drowned Boy. All witnesses to a secret he cannot share and a gift he now refuses to embrace. 

You could have saved her. The refrain drives Angus to the seashore at dawn, where a girl lies on the unblemished sand. She wears a green cloak and cradles a corps creadha , a Highland voodoo doll. She has suffered a ritualistic, three-fold death—her head bludgeoned, her throat cut, and symbolically drowned. 

It is Faye Chichester, daughter of an American billionaire whose mission to reintroduce wolves to the Highlands has embroiled the village of Glenruig. But even as media and police swarm the area, that refrain— you could have saved her —echoes in all Angus’s thoughts. For he carries a burden, a blessing, a curse, a secret— dΓ -shealladh , the second sight of Gaelic lore. Gills MacMurdo, noted folklorist, academic, and Angus’s oldest friend, confirms what the dΓ -shealladh is warning. Just as Faye’s death was three-fold, so must the murder victims fulfil the ancient pattern. More will die, unless Angus does what he must—close his eyes and see.

πŸ“– My Review

The Scottish Highlands are a place of secrets and shadows and this is captured in this mystery drama which incorporates the myths and legends of folklore and places them firmly into a sophisticated thriller. With its short sharp chapters I was quickly drawn into a murder/mystery which seems to have one foot in superstition, and the other in the drama of local animosity. 

Constable Angus ‘Dubh’ MacNeil carries the burden of having second sight. Plagued by dreams which interrupt his sleep and tear at his soul, and tormented by those victims he couldn't save, Angus is drawn to the beach early one morning where he discovers the body of a young woman. This macabre discovery, plunges Angus right into the heart of the mystery surrounding Faye Chichester's brutal, and ritualistic, death.  What then follows is a tightly packed drama which offers new insight into the popular Scottish Noir genre and combines dark and mysterious with a complex police investigation. However, this is no ordinary police investigation and the small community in the village of Glenruig, a place Angus calls home, is very much part of the developing drama.

The Unforgiven Dead is an atmospheric and brooding crime drama which starts slowly and builds into an imaginative picture of a place riven with secrets, and of a troubled man tormented by his past and of the victims he couldn't save. It is an interesting debut novel by an emerging writer and as it's already been optioned for television I look forward to seeing the story brought to life on screen.

About the Author

Fulton Ross is a writer and journalist from the Scottish Highlands. A graduate in Scottish Literature and History from Glasgow University, he has worked on national newspapers for more than a decade. Inspired by Gaelic folk tales, The Unforgiven Dead is his debut novel. Fulton now lives in Northern Ireland with his wife and three children.

Twitter @FultonLRoss #The UnforgivenDead



Wednesday 26 July 2023

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Nurse by Valerie Keogh


Boldwood Books
21 July 2023

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book
and to Rachel's Random Resources for the invitation to the blog tour

Bullied, overlooked and under-appreciated, Lissa McColl learns at an early age to do very bad things. As a nurse, she is respected and valued for the first time in her life. But Lissa hates her job and the selfish, rude and inconsiderate people she has to deal with. But being underestimated in this job had its advantages. Lissa can get close to people, find out their secrets… sometimes with deadly results.

πŸ“– My Review..

Lissa McColl has had an unhappy childhood and with good reason this sense of unease carries forward into her adult life. Filled with a painful anxiety Lissa negotiates the adult world with her usual sense of wariness, and even her job as a nurse only serves as a means of survival for Lissa and the one special person who depends on her. That Lissa carries her secrets close is an understatement but despite her many disturbing qualities I really rather liked her and all credit to the author for creating a softer side to what could so easily be  seen as a monster.

I'm being deliberately vague as I'm scared of giving away any spoilers to this clever physiological suspense story except to say that, right from the start, it kept me on the edge of my seat. From the opening chapter when we are introduced to Lissa as she negotiates the pitfalls of primary school in her own unique style, to the exhaustion of her adult life as she works as an agency nurse for an organisation which sees her constantly flitting between adult nursing homes, there is never a moment when the story drops its pace of fails to deliver a killing blow.

Tight, clever and skillfully manipulated The Nurse kept me guessing until the very end of a story which abounds with constant surprises, wonderful red herrings and a serial killer to die for...

About the Author

Valerie Keogh is the internationally bestselling author of several psychological thrillers and crime series, most recently published by Bloodhound. She originally comes from Dublin but now lives in Wiltshire and worked as a nurse for many years. Her first thriller for Boldwood was published in August 2022.

Twitter @ValerieKeogh1 #TheNurse

@BoldwoodBooks #Boldwoodbloggers @bookandtonic


Monday 24 July 2023

πŸ“– Book Review ~Unnatural Ends by Christopher Huang


June 2023

My thanks to the publishers and Claire Maxwell for my copy of this book

Sir Lawrence Linwood is dead. More accurately, he was murdered—savagely beaten to death in his own study with a mediaeval mace. The murder calls home his three adopted children: Alan, an archeologist; Roger, an engineer; and Caroline, a journalist. But his heirs soon find that his last testament contains a strange proviso—that his estate shall go to the heir who solves his murder.

To secure their future, each Linwood heir must now dig into the past. As their suspicion mounts—of each other and of peculiar strangers in the churchless town of Linwood Hollow—they come to suspect that the perpetrator lurks in the mysterious origins of their own birth.

πŸ“– My Review..

The book cover certainly captures the jigsaw nature of the murder mystery which is contained within its pages as this slow burning drama is characterised by several twists, turns and red herrings, all worthy of an interesting locked room mystery.

Returning to Linwood Hall, the adult children of Sir Lawrence Linwood, are faced with an impossible dilemma, as not only must they cope with the aftermath of their father's seemingly violent death but also as stipulated in his last will and testament the estate around Linwood Hall will be bequeathed to the child who solves his murder. As the story gets underway, we learn more about Alan, Roger and Caroline Linwood and of their unconventional upbringing by their tyrant of a father and the way in which their shared past influences their future going forward.

Unnatural Ends is a story of many parts, some of which are disturbing but the author's ability to recreate time and place is done well and the unnatural ends of the tale are accomplished with clear attention to detail and an ability to draw the reader into a story which is reminiscent of an Agatha Christie whodunit.

About the Author

Christopher Huang was born in Singapore. He migrated to Canada at the age of seventeen, but returned the following year to complete his two years of military service in the Singapore Army. He studied Architecture at McGill University, and lived for many years in Montreal, Quebec, before moving to Calgary, Alberta.

Twitter @misericordius #UnnaturalEnds



Friday 21 July 2023

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Start of Something Wonderful by Jessica Redland


Boldwood Books
17 July 2023

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
and to Rachel's Random Resources for the invitation to the blog tour

Autumn Laine has lost her creative sparkle. After losing her grandad and her job as an illustrator in quick succession, she is at a crossroads in life and needs a break. Spending time with her parents in Paris, even in the artistic community of Montmartre, doesn't appear to be the answer.

So when her penpal, Rosie, invites her to stay in the Lake District, Autumn jumps at the chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of Paris. After all, where better to re-discover her creativity than the place which inspired her heroine, Beatrix Potter?

Arriving at the picturesque lakeside village of Willowdale, Autumn is swept up by the beauty and magic of the stunning landscape. Welcomed into the community with open arms, she slowly starts to feel like herself again as her creative instincts re-ignite.

But when she meets Dane, who has escaped to the Lakes for his own reasons, will Autumn's walls come down to let someone in again after so long? Or will the secrets of her past continue to hold her back?

πŸ“– My Review..

Autumn Laine's life is at something of a crossroads and so it is with trepidation that she leaves her worries behind and heads for the Lake District to stay with her pen pal, Rosie and although they have exchanged lots of letters over the years Autumn and Rosie have never met in person. However, Rosie makes Autumn feel very welcome and soon the tranquility of the beautiful place, and its people, help to give Autumn some perspective on her life, especially when she meets Dane, another lost soul, who has also settled in the area for complicated reasons of his own.

With imaginative ease this lovely story takes us on a picturesque journey around the area around Derwent Water, and from the wonderful way in which the author describes everything it is obvious that she knows, and loves, this beautiful place very well. From the charm and quirkiness of Hill Top, Beatrix Potter's home, to the majestic beauty of the Lakeland fells there is never a moment when the story fails to engage with the reader. I was soon enchanted by Autumn, by her exceptional artistic talent, to her quest for fulfillment and her quiet determination to take her life in an altogether different direction.

Filled with the joy of friendships, old and new, the excitement of finding real purpose in life and the simple pleasure of being able to live in such a beautiful part of the world, this first book in the series really is The Start of Something Wonderful and I can't wait to see where this talented author takes us next on our journey to the English Lake District. 

About the Author

Jessica Redland writes emotional but uplifting stories of love, friendship, family and community. Her Whitsborough Bay books transport readers to the stunning North Yorkshire Coast where she lives with her husband, daughter and sprocker spaniel. Her Hedgehog Hollow series, set in a hedgehog rescue centre, takes readers into the beautiful rolling countryside of the Yorkshire Wolds.

Twitter @JessicaRedland

@BoldwoodBooks #BoldwoodBloggers


Thursday 20 July 2023

πŸ“– Publication Day Book Review ~ All of Us are Broken by Fiona Cummins


25 July 2023

DC Saul Anguish #2

My thanks to the publisher and Laura Sherlock PR for my copy of the book

It’s been a long time since the Hardwicke family has been on holiday. But thirteen-year-old Galen has wanted to see the wild dolphins at Scotland’s Chanonry Point for as long as she can remember, and her mother Christine – a lone parent since her beloved husband left – is determined she gets her wish. But their serene trip is about to be interrupted.

When DC Saul Anguish is called to investigate the shooting of an ex-police officer in Midtown-on-Sea, Essex, he quickly discovers that this is the first in a string of killings by Missy and Fox, a damaged young couple hell-bent on infamy, their love story etched in blood. In pursuit, Saul follows their trail north.

The paths of the Hardwickes' and the deadly couple are about to collide. When Saul and his forensic linguist partner, Blue, arrive on the scene, they witness the unthinkable: a mother forced to make an impossible choice.

Saul must uncover the truth about the couple. But can he find the strength to lay the ghosts of his past to rest before they break him?

πŸ“– My Review..

The dramatic, and nail-bitingly chilling, opening chapter sets the scene perfectly for this roller coaster of a drama which never loses pace or fails to serve up an emotional thriller which pulls you in and doesn't let go until the dramatic ending. Missy and Fox are perhaps two of the most unlikable protagonists I have ever come across and yet this talented author makes you feel an emotional connection to them even as their killing spree takes the story to a whole new level of horror. Countered against this evil is the inevitability of the lovely Hardwicke family, who have their own share of troubles, and who are inadvertently drawn into Missy and Fox's trajectory by simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

When I was reading this fabulously addictive crime novel all I could think of was what a wonderful TV drama it would be as both Missy and Fox, a modern day Bonnie and Clyde, would translate to television very well. By the time the story was done, and I read it over the space of one sitting as I literally couldn't put the book down without carrying it from room to room so I could snatch a few minutes to read some more, I felt like I had travelled everyone one of the hundreds of miles that Missy and Fox take towards their own inevitable destiny.

I won't spoil All of Us Are Broken by giving away any details about the plot as this is one story you really should read with no idea of what is about to happen next, so all I will say is that this is 320 pages of sheer brilliance, and it is, without doubt, my crime read of the year.

Twitter @FionaAnnCummins #AllOfUsAreBroken



Tuesday 18 July 2023

DESIblitz Literature Festival 2023


The UK’s leading book festival celebrating British South Asian writing will today announce the line up for the 2023 edition of the festival. Now in its 7th year the DESIblitz Literature Festival 2023, will take place across venues in Birmingham including from 20th – 29th October and will feature some of the biggest names in British South Asian writing, fiction, poetry, storytelling, music, film, TV and publishing as well as exciting up and coming talent.

Showcasing the real breadth of talent and creativity in British South Asian literature today, themed events will feature crime fiction, children’s fiction, historical fiction, poetry readings, memoir, as well as discussions about diversity in British publishing, with a variety of music from Bangla to Punjabi Folk Music being performed.

The UK’s biggest festival for South Asian culture was established by the beating heart of British South Asian news and media – an award-winning news and entertainment platform that showcases and celebrates all things British South Asian with a big focus on arts, culture and books.

Indi Deol

DESIblitz founder Indi Deol set up the DESIblitz Literature Festival because he wanted to create a platform that would establish writing as a viable career among British South Asian communities. At the heart of the festival is the desire to showcase the talents of established British South Asian writers to demonstrate to young minds and budding writers that it is possible to be a professional writer in the UK if you are from an Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Sri Lankan background. In order to make literature as accessible as possible most of the festival events are free. Tickets are available via Eventbrite, the DESIblitz Literature Festival website and through partner venues.

The DESIblitz Literature Festival also has a focus on bringing writing, storytelling and culture from South Asia to schools across the UK with the DESIblitz Truck Art Bus. The Truck Art Bus was decorated last year by world-renowned professional truck artist Haider Ali from Pakistan and has so far visited 11 schools and will be at the festival this year with a programme of story telling from a range of South Asian cultures.

Festival Director Indi Deol Said: "Our mission at the DESIblitz Literature Festival is to continue bringing together diverse audiences, transcending boundaries and celebrating the richness of cultures. With 90% of our festival events free to attend, we open doors to all, fostering inclusivity and accessibility. At the heart of our festival, we champion new and emerging voices, amplifying their stories and perspectives. We believe in nurturing talent and providing a platform for aspiring writers to shine. We invite you to explore the vibrant tapestry of storytelling, where renowned authors, thought-provoking panel discussions, interactive workshops, and mesmerising performances await. Mark your calendars and join us for a transformative experience that will leave you inspired, enlightened, and connected."


The headline event at the 2023 DESIblitz Literature Festival will be a 25th Anniversary panel with the cast of Goodness Gracious Me. Actors including Kulvinder Ghir and Nina Wadia will be joined by original script writer Sanjeev Kholi to discuss why Goodness Gracious Me was a watershed moment for actors from the British South Asian Community, and the legacy of the show 25 years later.

Broadcaster and Journalist Saima Mir, talking about her critically acclaimed Muslim female led crime novel The Khan with the theatre director and crime writer Ajay Chowdhury will discuss his latest crime novel The Detective published by Penguin Vintage in April. Historical fiction novelist Melissa Addey has written several historical fiction series covering histories in Morocco, Ancient Greece and India and will discuss her latest release.

Inspiration for children will come from established authors Bali Rai and Jasbinder Bilan. Bali Rai’s popular children’s book Rani & Sukh described as a "true mash-up of Shakespeare, Bollywood and Punjabi folk tales", was published in 2004 and later became a GCSE set-text, his latest novel A Sudden Storm comes out in October, while Jasbinder Bilan is the Costa Award winning children’s author of Asha and the Spirit Bird. In her writing she loves creating magical worlds inspired by her love of nature and wild places.

Nonfiction comes from some of the UK’s leading Doctors and Lawyers including Dr Shahed Yousaf is a prison doctor dedicated to caring for people on the margins of society. An outsider on the inside, in his memoir Stitched Up (Penguin August 2023) he introduces us to a cast of unforgettable characters, including killers, con men and auto-cannibals.

At a time when medicine is a highly sought-after career for Indian women, it is hard to imagine what it was like for the pioneers. Lady Doctors: The Untold Stories of India's First Women in Medicine by Kavitha Rao (Jacaranda Books August 2023) tells the story of how women were bound by the restraints of family, caste and society, and how fiercely they fought to escape.

Nash Ramji, who arrived as a refugee from Uganda in 70s and has gone on to become one of Leicester’s leading law practitioners and a justice of the peace, his novel The Price Of Honour: A Thrilling Story About An Honour Killing is inspired by the true story of an honour killing that he presided over.

Poetry is a big theme of this year’s festival, poets reading their work at the festival include Angela Rideau, Abda Khan, Charnjit Gill, Jaag Collective, Rupinder Kaur, Shamim Azad, Sharena Lee Satti, Sumera Farman, Anisa Butt and Suna Afshan.

Music will come from Channi Singh OBE the "godfather" of Bhangra in the West, Punjabi Music Composer Harbans Singh Jandhu, Kulwant Singh Bhamrah from the traditional Bhangra street band Apna Sangeet, up and coming Punjabi folk singers the Grewal Twins as well as the master of bhangra dancing Sukhi Bart.

Tying in with the festival’s theme of opening up the UK publishing industry to writers from the South Asian diaspora, the festival will host a panel discussion about representation in the UK publishing industry which speakers including Habiba Desai founder of Fox & Windmill the UK’s first independent publishing company for British South Asian writers, Nick Wells Founder of Flame Tree Publishing, Pooja Aggarwal, Director of Academic and Professional Publishing, Bloomsbury Publishing and Zaynah Ali Legal and Compliance department for Macmillan Children's Books.

Festival Details

Dates: Friday 20th – Sunday 29th October


Tickets: All events are free but ticketed apart from the Opening Night event with the cast of Goodness Gracious Me and Ajay Chowdhury at The Police Museum. Tickets are available via the festival website and Eventbright

Festival event Locations:

Opening Night Friday 20th: B Music (Symphony Hall), Goodness Gracious Me Panel

Birmingham City Centre: The Exchange Building, The Police Museum, B Music (Symphony Hall), Aston University, Birmingham City University, Apna Ghar

Hamdsworth: Hamdsworth Library, Grosvenor Road Studios,

West Bromwich: West Bromwich Library, Prince of Wales Pub

About DESIblitz Literature Festival

DESIblitz Literature Festival was created by the team behind the multi-award winning publication which publishes editorial content related to British Asian lifestyle with a South Asian theme.

Having developed over hundreds of writers, journalists and video producers in digital media, has acted as a tremendous catalyst to help kick-start careers and jobs. Helping those with ethnic and disadvantaged backgrounds to build careers in mainstream media, securing jobs with national newspapers, magazines and broadcast outlets.

Seeing the success of the DESIblitz website to develop the careers of aspiring journalists from the community, the DESIblitz Literature Festival was created to engage ethnic creatives and to give them access to the world of publishing.

OUR VISION: Equality of access to the arts, and equality of opportunity of careers in the arts and journalism for young people and minorities.

OUR MISSION: To support minority communities to experience, understand and create meaningful and ambitious art and journalism.


The term ‘Desi’ refers to a connection with South Asian subcontinent roots. It is derived from the word ‘des’ or ‘desh’ which refers to ‘country’ and in this case primarily India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. ‘Desi’ has emerged as a collective term that classifies culture and people from these countries. is the proud winner of the Best Publication/Website award for 2021 at the UK national Asian Media Awards, and the Best Website Award winner for 2017, 2015 and 2013. It is an Aidem Digital publication and as a social digital venture, the magazine aims to deliver quality rich content to primarily British Asian and Desi communities worldwide.

Wednesday 12 July 2023

πŸ“– Book Review ~ Lady MacBethad by Isabelle Schuler

2 March 2023

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Power. History. Love. Hate. Vengeance. She will be Queen. Whatever it takes...

Daughter of an ousted king, descendant of ancient druids, as a child it is prophesied that one day Gruoch will be queen of Alba.

When she is betrothed to Duncan, heir elect, this appears to confirm the prophecy. She leaves behind her home, her family and her close friend MacBethad, and travels to the royal seat at Scone to embrace her new position.

But nothing is as Gruoch anticipates. Duncan's court is filled with sly words and unfriendly faces, women desperate to usurp her position, and others whose motives are shrouded in mystery. As her coronation approaches, a deadly turn of events forces Gruoch to flee Duncan and the capital, finding herself alone, vulnerable and at the mercy of an old enemy. Her hope of becoming Queen all but lost, Gruoch does what she must to survive, vowing that one day she will fulfill her destiny and take up the future owed to her. Whatever it may take.

πŸ“– My Review...

Gruoch, daughter of Boite mac CinΓ‘eda, was born around 1015, and her early life is beautifully reimagined in this story which looks at the myths and legends which surrounds the story of Shakespeare's Lady MacBeth. Over the course of the story we get to know Gruoch as a troubled child, forced to flee her homeland, and obsessed with her grandmother's prophecy that one day she would be a great queen, and we watch in anticipation as she sets off on the road to her destiny.

There is much to enjoy in this imagined story about the early life of one of the most controversial figures in English literature and yet historically very little is actually known about the woman who would, one day, become Lady Macbeth. However, the author has done her research well, the ancient way of life is so beautifully described that I could clearly imagine Gruoch growing from rebellious child, to her more fraught teenage years as she struggles with marriage to Duncan, and her obsession that one day she would be Queen of Alba.  

This is definitely not Shakespeare's Macbeth reimagined, it so much more than that, and works beautifully as imaginative historical fiction which leads us back in time to the life of a proud and forceful young woman who believed in her destiny and who made her own distinct mark on the history of Scotland. 

I have both read, and listened, to my copy of Lady MacBethad and have enjoyed both experiences. The audio version is beautifully narrated by Sara Vickers ,whose authentic Scottish accent brought the story vividly alive, and yet I also became immersed in reading the book for myself.

You can read an interview with the author on her publisher's website by clicking here

About the Author

Isabelle Schuler is a Swiss-American actress, writer, and former bookseller. Lady MacBethad is her debut novel.

Twitter@belleschuler #LadyMacbethad


Tuesday 11 July 2023

πŸ“– Pick a shelf Book Review ~ Waiting to Begin by Amanda Prowse


It's my mission to read the books which have been left undisturbed on my book shelf for several years, however, with so many current reads dropping through the door or landing on my e-reader, it's not always possible.

Determined to rectify this I have adopted the pick a shelf, seven books along theory and this time my eye spotted the distinctive cover of Waiting to Begin by Amanda Prowse...

Lake Union

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

1984. Bessie is a confident sixteen-year-old girl with the world at her feet, dreaming of what life will bring and what she’ll bring to this life. Then everything comes crashing down. Her bright and trusting smile is lost, banished by shame—and a secret she’ll carry with her for the rest of her life.

2021. The last thirty-seven years have not been easy for Bess. At fifty-three she is visibly weary, and her marriage to Mario is in tatters. Watching her son in newlywed bliss—the hope, the trust, the joy—Bess knows it is time to face her own demons, and try to save her relationship. But she’ll have to throw off the burden of shame if she is to honour that sixteen-year-old girl whose dreams lie frozen in time.

Can Bess face her past, finally come clean to Mario, and claim the love she has longed to fully experience all these years?

πŸ“– My Review..

We meet first meet Bessie when she is on the cusp of her sixteenth birthday when she has the whole world ahead of her and plans for a sparkling future however, the fickle finger of fate shows just how tenuous this ambition can be. When we next meet Bess she is again celebrating a birthday but this time she is is turning fifty-three, married to Mario and her life seems to have been something of a disappointment to her. Over the course of this lovely story we delve into Bessie's past, learn about her mistakes and discover the secret she has kept hidden for such a long time.

I was very quickly emotionally involved in the story and enjoyed the dual timeline. Going back to 1984 when Bessie was a naive and impressionable teenager is done with great insight into what it was like to be filled with a zest for life only to have it knocked away by life's circumstances. Equally the author brings the rather jaded fifty-three year Bess to life, filled with remorse, self doubt and guilt over past secrets. I read the book quickly as it soon becomes one of those lovely immersive stories which really grabs your attention and I wanted to see how this complicated family drama would play out. I wasn't disappointed and closed the book with a great deal of satisfaction of a story well told.

This talented author never fails to disappoint and I have no idea why this lovely story has languished on my book shelf for such a long time as it deserved to have been read long before now. 

About the Author

Amanda Prowse is an International Bestselling author whose novels, non-fiction titles and  novellas have been published in dozens of languages around the world. Published by Lake Union, Amanda is the most prolific writer of bestselling contemporary fiction in the UK today.

Twitter @MrsAmandaProwse #WaitingToBegin

Monday 10 July 2023

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ Happy Ever After for the Cornish Midwife by Jo Bartlett

Boldwood Books
5 July 2023

Cornish Midwives #8

Thanks to the publishers and Rachel's Random Resources for my copy of the book
and the invitation to the tour

The emotional finale to the bestselling Cornish Midwife series! Get your tissues ready!

Midwife Jess is so used to helping other mums achieve their dreams that she’s put her own hopes of motherhood firmly on hold.After having her heart broken once before, Jess is determined to focus all she has on her small family and stepson Riley and make sure he feels safe, happy and loved.But when Jess is asked to care for a tiny baby and new mum in need of support, she’s torn. Jess wants to help, but she isn’t sure her battered heart could cope with saying goodbye to another baby she’s fallen in love with. Jess knows this could be the happy ever after she’s always dreamed of, but what if it costs her more heartache along the way? Is she brave enough to take one last chance at motherhood?

πŸ“– My Review..

I have followed this wonderful series from the beginning and am really rather sorry to say goodbye to these lovely midwives who have, over the course of the series, become as familiar as friends, and ending with Jess's lovely story brings this series to a wonderful conclusion.

As always the story flows beautifully so much so that I read the book in one sitting during a particularly rainy Sunday and it certainly helped to chase away the rainy day blues. Whilst this book focuses on Jess and her search for baby happiness it also brings us up to date with what's been happening with Megan and her partner Johnny whose lives seem to be heading in a very different direction much to the chagrin of Meg's grown up daughter, Tilly.  Both stories are compelling, and emotional, which again shows the depth of feeling, and compassion, which goes into every one of these books.

As it's the finale of the series there is a definite sense of the the tying up of loose ends and so it was really lovely to be able to imagine the characters going about their lives as change is about to happen for this little Cornish community, and with the opening of a bigger hospital the midwives are starting to go their separate ways. I think that's why the series has been so successful as it brings together a group of strong female characters whose bond of friendship, and sisterhood, has continued throughout and whilst this last book can, like all the others, be read as a standalone story, it does make sense to read the books in order, that way when you come to say goodbye to them all in Happy Ever After for the Cornish Midwife,  you may well, like me, shed a little tear of fond farewell.


About the Author

Jo Bartlett is the bestselling author of over nineteen women’s fiction titles. She fits her writing inbetween her two day jobs as an educational consultant and university lecturer and lives with herfamily and three dogs on the Kent coast.

Twitter @J_B_Writer #HappyEverAfterForTheCornishMidwife

@BoldwoodBooks #BoldwoodBloggers


Sunday 9 July 2023

πŸ“– 🎧 Blog Tour ~ The Mother Sun by Sui Annukka narrated by Nimmi Harasgama

Audible Original
May 2023

My thanks to the publishers and Midas Campaigns for the opportunity to listen to this book
and to be part of the blog tour.

Sent on a marketing conference from Sri Lanka to London by her boss, Surya is supposed to be enjoying a change of scene after a tragedy that has left her grief stricken and lost – and compulsively fixated on a long-buried, shameful episode from her past.

Finding herself in the same city as the boy she birthed for an English couple seventeen years ago – in exchange for the money that paid her college tuition – Surya is prepared to risk everything for a glimpse of him.

Surya promises herself that she will be satisfied with just seeing her boy and knowing that he is safe and well. But when she tracks him down and follows him to work at a local cafΓ©, she is left with more questions than answers. Why has he dropped out of school? Why is he at odds with the world? As they get chatting and he offers to give her a tour of London, she can’t resist the chance to get to know him better.

Forced to confront her past, Surya starts to navigate a way beyond her feelings of guilt, shame, and grief, towards a hopeful future – but what will happen when the boy finds out who she is? Could finding all she ever wanted mean losing everything for a second time?

Sui Annukka is the Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction Discoveries Award 2022. The Mother Sun is an exclusive novella for Audible.

πŸ“– πŸŽ§ My Review..

Surya has left her life in Sri Lanka to attend a marketing conference in London. The visit to London provides Surya with the ideal opportunity to find the son she gave up at birth, seventeen years ago, when she acted as a surrogate for an English couple. With no plan in mind other than to find her son in London, in order to check that he was well, and happy, Surya discovers that there is more to the boy than she expected and confronting her past is more painful than she could ever have imagined. 

Beautifully read by Nimmi Harasgama, the narration is pitch perfect, and each character, particularly Surya comes skillfully alive. The novella moves at a gentle pace as we learn of Surya's life in Sri Lanka and of her fears and anxieties particularly in light of a recent tragedy and of the cultural differences between herself and the boy she gave up at birth but whom she had never forgotten. 

Overall the 6 hours and 43 minutes of the story was an easy listen with interesting detail and there's a genuine sense of rapport between Surya and her boy which adds some poignancy to this story of motherhood, lost opportunities and forgiveness.

About the Author

Sui Annukka is a British author of Sri Lankan heritage. Sui has had poetry and short fiction published in the following anthologies: Filigree - contemporary Black British Poetry (Peepal Tree, 2018), Shots in the Dark (Crocus Books, 2018), Sounds Exceeding 80 Decibels (Crocus Books, 2017) and Elevator Fiction (Crocus Books, 2016). Sui currently lives in London where she writes and works part-time as a High School Teaching Assistant.

The Mother Sun is the first title from Audible’s collaboration with the Women’s Prize Trust and was an original commission offered to the winner by Audible as part of the Prize. As part of the commission Annukka received editorial support from Audible and audiobook production of her novella, which is brought to life by Nimmi Harasgama.

Twitter @suiannukka #TheMotherSun



Thursday 6 July 2023

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ Betrayal by Lesley Pearse


Penguin Michael Joseph
6 July 2023

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book
and to edpr for the invitation to the blog tour

Lesley Pearse is a global No.1 bestseller with fans across the world and sales of over 10 million copies of her books to date. One of the nation’s best-loved storytellers (a Lesley Pearse book is sold every 4 minutes in the UK) Lesley is a master of the gripping story-line, always introducing her readers to characters that are impossible to forget. Although there is no set formula or easily defined genre for a Lesley Pearse novel, strong heroines and jeopardy are pervasive, and she always engages the reader completely. 

2023 marks Lesley’s 30th Anniversary as a published author.

 Betrayal is her 31st novel

Eve should never have married Don Hathaway. Young and lovestruck, he’d given her two precious children - Olly and Tabitha – but he’s a bully. Worse than that, he is abusive. But, after one drunken rage too many, she realises if she doesn’t leave, she will die. With no money, or family to run to, she bravely summons the courage to escape and is helped by a network of women who give her sanctuary.

 The path is not easy but driven by the need to give her children a future, she starts to rebuild her life. Don, however, is bitter. And getting away entirely proves impossible. Until the day Eve tries to teach him a lesson - and it all goes horribly wrong. Now, shouldering a terrible burden that she dares not share, Eve sets up a business in her newly adopted town of Sidmouth, and her fortunes go from strength to strength. 

New business, new home, new love. But how long before the past catches up with her? And how will she reconcile the fact that in relentlessly pursuing a better life, she may have betrayed not only her own, but her children's future happiness.

πŸ“– My Review..

Eve Hathaway has no option but to leave her violent husband but as with all bullies Don Hathaway refuses to admit that he has a problem and can't let Eve and his children have the peaceful life they crave. Setting up a new life for herself and her children isn't easy for Eve but with sheer grit and determination she takes them out of poverty and into a more settled existence except that Eve is burdened by a dreadful secret which overshadows her future happiness. 

Betrayal looks at the worst kind of domestic violence and does so with a sharp eye for detail and a sympathetic way of recounting a story which is all too familiar namely that of women who are scared of the consequences of leaving a violent partner. In Eve Hathaway the author has created a feisty and determined woman, who once away from her violent husband, has the ability to make a new life for herself and her children and yet with the shadow of uncertainty hanging above her the author shows just how fragile this new life can be and learning to trust isn't easy as Eve discovers to her cost and that of her family's safety.

Beautifully written from start to finish and never one to shy away from uneasy topics, Betrayal covers some difficult subjects with this author's trademark skill of empathy, sensitivity and cracking good story telling.

Out in paperback 28 February 2024

About the Author

© Charlotte Murphy 2014

Lesley Pearse is a global No.1 bestseller with fans across the world and sales of over 10 million copies of her books to date; this year she celebrates the publication of her highly anticipated 30th novel. One of the nation’s best-loved storytellers – a Lesley Pearse book is sold every 4 minutes in the UK – Lesley is a master of the gripping storyline, always introducing her readers to characters that are impossible to forget. Although there is no set formula or easily defined genre for a Lesley Pearse novel, strong heroines and jeopardy are pervasive, and she always engages the reader completely. 

Twitter @LesleyPearse #LoveLesley30 #Betrayal

@michaeljbooks @ed_pr