I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
‘The Final Trail’, is book five in ‘The Trail Series’ set predominately in Birmingham. I haven’t read the previous books in the series, but I enjoyed this one, as the characters are well written and there is sufficient back story.
The immersive, intense writing style makes it easy to connect with the characters and work out their motivations and relationships. The short chapters each from a main characters point of view, lets the reader see developments from several points of view.
Business, family and politics are the points of conflict. The suspense building is good, especially around the political aspects involving Erik. This story explores many areas of life. Business crime, family, love and politics, are all fused into an adrenaline-packed story.
Reading this book makes me want to read the whole series.
“I JUST NEED TO KNOW…WHICH ONE OF YOU SLEPT WITH MY HUSBAND?”
My One Month Marriage – Shari Low
You know that “till death do us part” bit in the wedding vows? Well, Zoe Danton believed it. One month after she said “I do”, the man she loved is gone, given his marching orders after Zoe discovered a devastating secret.
As teenagers facing a crushing loss, Zoe made a pact with her three sisters to stick together no matter what. Now she’s discovered that one of them may have been the reason her husband betrayed her. She’s lost her happy-ever-after, but has she lost a sister too?
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Not the most uplifting of titles, but certainly one that starts you turning the pages. Whilst Zoe’s unfortunately short marriage draws you into this story, what you find within the pages is an excellent family drama, full of emotions, laughter, lies, loss and secrets and many poignant moments that make you think.
The characters and setting are authentic and relatable, and despite the different viewpoints and timescales, it’s easy to read. You care about the characters, whilst experiencing a gamut of emotions with them.
Zoe and her three sisters are close especially after the loss they suffered as young girls. The family drama affected each of them in differing ways as they coped with it, and the resultant women are on the surface strikingly different personalities. This is a complex story, moving between the sisters’ points of view and the past and present. You learn what has made them into the women they are, and the connection they have Zoe’s failed marriage.
Some of the storylines are repeated, seen from a different point of view, but this part of this author’s writing style and is not a negative, but a way to see why the characters are motivated to act as they do.
A lovely story of family and sisters and learning to let go of the past.
Extract from My One Month Marriage – Shari Low
But back to the point. Yvie and Marina are right. If I worked anywhere else – the Civil Service, Top Shop, NASA – then none of this would have happened.
And to quote everyone in the entire history of the world who ever messed up, I just wish I could go back in time and change so many things.
In fact, right now I’d settle for just understanding what has happened to my life because there are still so many questions. So many uncertainties.
My phone buzzes and I stretch over a ceramic planter in the shape of a pair of wellies (from Auntie Geraldine – she has a picture of Alan Titchmarsh on her kitchen wall) to retrieve it from the table beside the sofa.
Marina’s heels click into the room and in my peripheral vision I can see that she slides elegantly into the armchair by the window, plate of sushi in hand.
The name at the top of the notification makes my anxiety soar. Roger Kemp. Sadly, no relation to anyone who was ever a member of Spandau Ballet. Or that slightly scary bloke who played Grant Mitchell in EastEnders and now makes documentaries about criminal gangs and serial killers.
With a shaking thumb, I swipe open the message.
Roger Kemp is a friend and client, the director of a hotel chain that employs our agency for all its marketing needs. After the proverbial hit the fan, I’d asked him for a favour. A slightly underhand, confidentiality-breaching, possibly borderline-illegal favour. With a bit of luck, the bloke that makes the documentaries about true crime won’t find out about it.
I’d asked Roger to check on who paid for a room in one of his hotels last weekend, on the night that my husband broke his vows only thirty days after making them. You know, that fairly insignificant one about being faithful in good times and bad. You see, I know it wasn’t my husband because he’d put his credit cards in my handbag that evening, so it must have been someone else. The other woman.
The thought forces me to take another swig of the unidentifiable pink cocktail.
Anyway, the favour I’d requested of Roger would mean asking someone in his financial team to pull up the credit card records and sharing the sordid details with me.
Now I stare in disbelief at the answer, typed right there on the screen of my phone.
Shari Low is the #1 bestselling author of over 20 novels, including One Day In Winter and With Or Without You and a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. She lives near Glasgow and her first title for Boldwood will be My One Month Marriage in January 2020.
I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
From the blurb, the reader knows that this is not the idyllic holiday you’d expect, but nothing prepares you for the twists and turns that appear with increasing alacrity as the story progresses.
Cora and Jonathan are on a dream holiday, Cora seems unsure whether she wants to be there. Jonathan is full of surprises, and it seems that life is on track. Until, their exclusive holiday retreat becomes crowded, with another couple, and they can’t fail to see the resemblance to themselves.
The story has a strong technological theme, which adds depth and complexity to the plot.
Progressing, through Cora’s point of view, things start to spiral in an increasingly uncomfortable way. The characters are believable and complex. They are not what they appear to be on the surface.
Cora is an unreliable narrator, and as the story progresses, she presents a hidden side to her character. Flashbacks to incidents in her past illuminate and reinforce her present actions. The last part of the story is an adrenaline rush, and at times full of confusion.
Even at the end, I still wasn’t sure I’d understood everything, but that’s what you want from a psychological thriller.
An absorbing, addictive read.
Guest Post : Smiling assassins By Pat Black
The psychopathic, murderous villains in my new novel The Beach House drew inspiration from a lovely couple we met on holiday.
When I’m on holiday I tend to stick to my own pen. I wouldn’t say I was unfriendly, but I am guarded. I realise this doesn’t reflect well on me, but bitter experience has taught me to be wary.
I remember one couple I got to know on holiday years ago who passed out business cards and tried to flog their home renovation business at every opportunity. This was odd enough – before the boorish male in that pairing then made some utterly jaw-dropping comments about the looks of a woman as part of a third couple who joined the group. I was astounded at the cheek, and the fact the woman just smiled and laughed at these comments, instead of absolutely battering him. “People like that actually exist! In the real world!”
Another couple on an overnight boat trip didn’t realise I was joking when I was… making jokes. It’s not like any of the daft comments and dad-on-holiday patter were certificate X, either. It was a bit like explaining that, you know, it doesn’t really matter why the chicken wanted to cross the road, or what might have awaited it on the other side. Now imagine that sort of scrutiny after every utterance. “It’s your accent,” the woman explained later, as if that explained anything.
So, I’ve learned. I’m happy enough drinking cocktails in our own group of two, reading a stack of books on my tod, worrying about sharks while we go for a swim in a pair, and forming our own pub quiz team.
Then one night (a while ago now, mind you; pre-kids anyway), we were approached by this cracking couple from the South West. The shutters went up immediately, but then something strange happened: I lightened up, and we… Well. We made friends. They were loads of fun. They didn’t want anything from us. They got my jokes, and I got theirs. Importantly, they also knew not to crowd us – I looked forward to having a drink with them at night back at the hotel, and was genuinely sorry to see them go home, a couple of days before we did.
Hey – maybe for them, we were the weirdos?
It was a nice, human experience. So of course my imagination twisted this into something unpleasant for The Beach House.
I wondered what would happen if you had genuinely evil people try to befriend you on holiday – evil people with an evil purpose. And you couldn’t easily extricate yourself from the situation. When your own sense of manners and social skills over-ride your instincts, which might have to scream at you in order for you to protect yourself and your partner.
One of my favourite parts of any modern thriller is in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, when Mikael Blomkvist confronts the novel’s villain. He has a chance to get away, but he refuses, because of good manners. The villain reflects on this with some astonishment. “All I had to do was offer you a cup of coffee.”
All my baddies had to do was order my heroine a pina colada. And it could happen to you. Of course it could. They’re out there. They walk among us. They go on holiday. They sit beside you on a train. They seem nice. They know exactly what to say to people. They see a person or a situation, and their minds instantly move onto how they can strip it to the bone.
Have you seen my business card, incidentally? Maybe we could swap? Hey, networking is networking, after all. No sense in ignoring the business angle, hey? We’ve all got to eat. Fancy a cocktail? Maybe we could go to the pub quiz…
Author and journalist PR Black lives in Yorkshire, although he was born and brought up in Glasgow. When he’s not driving his wife and two children to distraction with all the typing, he enjoys hillwalking, fresh air and the natural world, and can often be found asking the way to the nearest pub in the Lake District. His short stories have been published in several books including the Daily Telegraph’s Ghost Stories and the Northern Crime One anthology. His Glasgow detective, Inspector Lomond, is appearing in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. He took the runner-up spot in the 2014 Bloody Scotland crime-writing competition with “Ghostie Men”. His work has also been performed on stage in London by Liars’ League. He has also been shortlisted for the Red Cross International Prize, the William Hazlitt essay prize and the Bridport Prize.
Two little girls were out playing. One dared the other to knock on a neighbour’s front door and run away. But this was a game that had deadly consequences – only one girl returned home that evening. The ten-year-old told police what she saw: a man, village loner Bill ‘Creepy’ Cawley, dragged her friend into an old red pick-up truck and disappeared. No body was found, but her testimony sent him to prison for murder. An open and shut case, the right man behind bars. A village that could sleep safe once again.
Anna thought she had left Mapledon and her nightmares behind, but a distraught phone call brings her back to face her past. Thirty years ago, someone lied. Thirty years ago, the man convicted wasn’t the only guilty party… And now he’s out, he is looking for revenge. The question is, who will he start with?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A twisty plot, an emotive subject, and so many lies and secrets in this village, some of which are dark and dangerous. The disappearance of a village girl in 1989, motivates the village against the one reclusive person, who the children love to taunt. He is the character of urban myths and an easy scapegoat for the murder of the girl, even though the evidence is more circumstantial than factual. Thirty years ago forensic science was far less sophisticated, than now, and all this contributed to Billy’s conviction.
The suspense builds with every chapter, the clues are there, but there is never quite enough before you’re cleverly moved onto another point of view or timeline. The characters are complex but believable, and the plot is slow to give up its secrets but rewarding when it does.
A poignant, tense thriller that draws you into this noir tale, full of suspense and sinister secrets.
Relationships are complicated. Long-distance ones, even more so.
When Lisa Millar met AJ Williams online through mutual friends, she wasn’t prepared to fall in love with the man of her dreams. She was even less prepared to discover that he already had a wife. In a heart-wrenching story of love attempting to transcend miles, Lisa finds herself pregnant and on the wrong side of the Atlantic from the man she loves.
Will their love conquer all? Or will the intricacies of a relationship woven across the Atlantic be too much to take and tear them apart once and for all?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Another passionate chapter of the internet romance between Lisa and AJ. This new adult romance is emotional with touches of humour and sadness that draw you into their lives and make you care what happens to them. Lisa’s pregnant, and this leads to a new vulnerability, whilst highlighting the drawbacks of her relationship with A.J.
The story is sensitively written, and the characters, as in the first book, continue to be believable.The story charts the rough with the smooth, before tumbling to the inevitable cliff hanger, which is a signature of this series.
Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.
There’s only one way out from rock bottom and
that’s up, and Teri Meyer is finally crawling out from the worst time of her
life – no thanks to her best friend Lee. But no matter, she’s finally found
love – real love with a real man, a successful man, a man who accepts all her
flaws. Teri’s never felt like this before, and yet it’s changing her in ways
she doesn’t understand.
And there’s only one person who can help, one
person who truly understands Teri.
It seems that no matter how hard Lee Harper
tries, there’s a battle awaiting her at every turn these days, and she’s tired.
And as if she needs the extra stress, Teri continues to create constant and unnecessary
drama. But Lee’s the only one who really knows what’s going on under Teri’s
hard, convoluted exterior, and that’s why she’s always been there for her.
But the question is: will Teri be there when Lee
needs her most?
The brilliant and entertaining final book in the
unique FRIENDS trilogy dishes out another dose of rib-tickling mayhem for our
favourite thirty-something professional women.
A Forsaken Friend (book 2): 99c/p from November 18 – 25 (UK and US)Amazon UK Amazon
I received a copy of this book from the authors in return for an honest review.
It’s not always easy reading a book that is the last in a trilogy, but the inclusive writing style drew me in, from the first page, even though I didn’t know the characters and ethos of the series.
I didn’t instantly empathise with the characters, they seemed constantly at odds from the start of the book, behaving more like teenagers than adult women, but as I read on, more of their background emerged and the up and down nature of their relationship became clearer.
The story is told in the first person from both women’s points of view. Teri is forthright and appears to run from one crisis to the next. She often speaks before she knows the implications of what she is saying, and this trait is the crux of her current falling out with Lee.
Lee is gentler, a reflective thinker, and more aware of others, and how her behaviour affects them. She is the perfect sounding board for Teri, but understandably this becomes draining and tiresome occasionally. Lee’s current emotional turmoil makes her less sympathetic and the women’s friendship reaches a new low. Is it strong enough to continue? You’ll have to read this humorous, poignant story to find out.
This story will appeal to older women. Lee and Teri appear older than they apparently are. Family drama and dynamics are familiar and often funny. The vacillating friendship is well-written covering all the emotional nuances.
An enjoyable, unexpectedly good read.
Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape are both former newspaper journalists with extensive experience of working for national and regional papers and magazines and in public relations.
More recently they have worked in
higher education, teaching journalism – Sue at Sheffield Hallam and Susan at
Leeds Trinity University.
The pair, who have been friends for almost 30 years, wrote two successful journalism text books together – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction (both published by Sage), before deciding to turn their hands to fiction.
The first novel in their Friends
series, A Falling Friend, was released in 2016. A Forsaken Friend followed
two years later, and the final book in the trilogy, A Forgiven Friend,
published on November 19.
Sue, who is married with two grown-up
daughters, and the most ‘gorgeous granddaughter in the whole world’, loves
reading, writing and Nordic walking in the beautiful countryside near her
Susan is married and lives in a
village near Leeds, and, when not writing, loves walking and cycling in the
Yorkshire Dales. She is also a member of a local ukulele orchestra.
Some things you can never escape. I should know. I’ve been running away for fifteen years, and now I’m right back where I started…
Skye Turner’s family fell apart the day her twin sister Ginny died. Everyone in their tiny community in the Scottish Highlands accepted it was an accident, but more than one person in town is haunted by a secret from that night…
Skye left after the funeral, believing her mother blamed her for Ginny’s death. Skye should have taken care of Ginny, should have been there to stop her falling from the cliffs that night. Over the years, she’s barely spoken to her mother, until the day she receives a phone call asking her to return home.
As soon as Skye arrives in her childhood home, she knows something isn’t right. Her mother has kept the bedroom she shared with her sister like a shrine, Ginny’s clothes and diaries gathering dust, as though her mother thinks Ginny might come back. And there are whispers in town that Ginny wasn’t alone when she died…
Skye is desperate to find out the truth, but her mother just wants her family back together. As Skye begins to unravel everyone’s lies, she realises the truth might tear her family apart for good…
My Mother’s Silence is a twisty and emotional novel about the bonds between mothers and daughters, and what happens when we hide things from those we love the most.
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A family tragedy resonates on a small Scottish community, It tears a local family apart, but now it’s time for Skye to come home. She’s unsure of her reception, but her younger brother insists her mother needs her. Her new life is in tatters, she has nowhere else, but can she face going back? This is a story about sisters, mothers and daughters and the secrets families keep to protect those they love most.
Told in the first person from Skye’s point of view, this is a compelling, emotional tale of a woman’s search for answers so that she can finally lose the guilt and move on with her life.Skye has done most of her growing up with strangers, always moving, never finding the peace, she unconsciously seeks. Circumstances, force her back home for Christmas, but what she finds is not what she expects.
The characters in the family and the wider village are well written and realistic. They are all hiding something, but Skye’s return opens Pandora’s box and finally, with the help of Nick, an ex-detective the truth is uncovered.The family relationships and tensions are believable and poignant, The mystery part of the plot is cleverly constructed and its resolution satisfying.
The romance is secondary to the family drama and mystery, but adds light to the darkness and makes the ending romantic and hopeful.
Ordinary families and tragic events make absorbing reading when instilled with a perfect balance of angst, hope, love, mystery, romance and sadness.
This Christmas fall in love with the town of Chesterwood…
Christmas is meant to be a time of giving, so with Chesterwood food bank under risk of closure Fern knows just what to do to save it. She’s going to get the town to create a living advent calendar.
Fern and her best friends call for help from the local community to bring this calendar to life. When Kit, the new man in town, offers his assistance Fern’s heart can’t help but skip a beat (or two).
As they grow ever closer, Fern must admit that Kit’s breaking down the barriers she built after the death of her husband. But his past is holding him back and Fern doesn’t know how to reach him. No matter how hard she tries.
In this town, Kit’s not the only one with secrets. Domestic goddess Cara is behaving oddly, burning meals in the oven and clothes whilst ironing, and Davina’s perfect children are causing trouble at school leaving her son, Jasper, desperately unhappy.
Can the Christmas Calendar Girls find a way to bring the community together in time to save the food bank, while still supporting their families and each other? Can Fern find love again with Kit?
This is a story about kindness and letting go of the past. It’s about looking out for your neighbours and about making every day feel like Christmas.
Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely. When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines. She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association romantic comedy award
Zara Das is Bollywood’s hottest property, her every move watched by the eyes of the press. Riding high from the success of a string of blockbusters, she has the world at her feet, but the scandal from her latest film threatens to dethrone her as Bollywood’s reigning queen.
So when superstar director Raj Dillon stages a lavish retelling of Pride and Prejudice, moving the shoot from Mumbai’s soundstages to London, Zara knows this is the role that could put her back on top. Coming with them are the Bollywood Wives – Jackie, Sasha, and Rani – bringing their own off-screen drama.
But behind the diamonds, designer clothes and seven-star hotels lies the truth of how Zara reached the top. And when a dead body is found in her hotel room, it seems that someone is determined to take Zara down – and will stop at nothing to expose her darkest secrets.
Zara has spent years running from her past. But now it’s caught up with her…
A sexy, gripping, scandalous novel set in the world of Bollywood.
I received a copy of this book from Hera Books in return for an honest review.
This is a story full of contrasts, It opens up the Bollywood film world, and is fascinating to read, but there is a darker side to this book. Intelligent commentary on Indian society, and the deceit and depravity that simmers below Bollywood’s glamour and ostentatious wealth.
There is a wonderful cast of characters, including Zara, who the story revolves around. Despite her celebrity status, she has secrets, and these make her vulnerable. The writing style is informative and inclusive, you feel part of what is happening, even though most of the readers will have little experience of such a glamorous, dangerous world.
On one level this a bonkbuster romance, snapshots of lives, full of sex, secrets and money, but underneath there is a hidden noir world of abuse and desperation. The thriller is well-plotted and gives the story additional depth and interest.
The ending is poignant, but ultimately hopeful, as people who can make a difference and help others not to suffer, as they did, finally find the courage to act.
An insightful look at an important twenty-first-century phenomenon, with a clever fusion of genres, and believable, complex characters.
Alex Khan has spent his life dreaming of writing and starring in Bollywood movies while travelling the world visiting some of the most glamorous and exciting locations. Moonlighting as a crime writer he finally got the courage to pen the novel he wanted to write all his life-Bollywood Wives. Taking you into the glamorous sexy thrilling environment of the world’s biggest movie stars and the secrets they hide.
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK in return for an honest review.
This book explores how isolated we all are. Even though, many of us live in overpopulated cities, how many people do we interact with face to face in a meaningful way?
Lexie and Harriet live next door to each other, Lexie lives with Tom and is desperately trying to get pregnant. Harriet lives alone, but often has noisy parties, Lexie never goes to. Both can hear muffled sounds of life through their apartment wall, and they both envy each other’s life to a degree. Told from both of the women’s points of view, a story of deceit, obsession and deteriorating mental health unfolds.
Harriet’s past life is gradually revealed and you realise what an unreliable protagonist she is. Her story is heartbreakingly sad, and as you understand what motivates her behaviour, the sense of menace and suspense builds.
Lexie is also in the grip of an obsession, she wants a baby to exclusion of all else, this puts a strain on her relationship with Tom, and makes her wonder what it would be like to be Harriet, someone she knows little about.
The story is slow-paced and detailed, and probably slightly longer than it needs to be, but the characters are complex, flawed and relatable, and the plot has many subtle twists. However, what you see, is actually what you get. Whilst this story lacks the big reveal, the delivery has a relentlessness about it, that makes you dread, what is going to happen next. You know it isn’t going to end well for someone.