Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, New Books

Idol Louise O’Neill 4*#Review @oneilllo #LouiseONeill @TransworldBooks #idol #truth #socialmedia #bookreview #preorder

‘Follow your heart and speak your truth.’

For Samantha Miller’s young fans – her ‘girls’ – she’s everything they want to be. She’s an oracle, telling them how to live their lives, how to be happy, how to find and honour their ‘truth’.

And her career is booming: she’s just hit three million followers, her new book Chaste has gone straight to the top of the bestseller lists and she’s appearing at sell-out events.

Determined to speak her truth and bare all to her adoring fans, she’s written an essay about her sexual awakening as a teenager, with her female best friend, Lisa. She’s never told a soul but now she’s telling the world. The essay goes viral.

But then – years since they last spoke – Lisa gets in touch to say that she doesn’t remember it that way at all. Her memory of that night is far darker. It’s Sam’s word against Lisa’s – so who gets to tell the story? Whose ‘truth’ is really a lie?

‘You put yourself on that pedestal, Samantha. You only have yourself to blame.’

Amazon UK Waterstones

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

My Thoughts…

Idol is a compelling and insightful contemporary story that explores current issues through the unreliable narrator Samantha, a phenomenally successful lifestyle and social media influencer. Her books are bestsellers, she has millions of social media followers, and her company is about to be made into a public corporation. Still, when a voice from the past challenges her latest expose, the foundation of her life and reality crumble devastatingly.

Dark and disturbing, many of Samantha’s experiences are challenging to read, but they show how she became the person she is. Perception, manipulation and reality are all effectively questioned in this addictive story. Relatable characters draw the reader into a world of judgement and lies. The brilliantly flawed individuals make it hard to like them in many cases.

I like the believability of the story and its contemporary relevance.

Published 12 May 2022 available for preorder

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery, New Books, Paranormal, Romance

The Belladonna Maze Sinéad Crowley 5* #Review @SCrowleyAuthor @SineadCrowley @HoZ_Books #literaryfiction #dualtimeline #gothic #fantasy #mystery #romance #histfic #TheBelladonnaMaze #IrishFiction #supernatural #BookReview

An old house can hold many secrets. Hollowpark in the west of Ireland certainly does. At the heart of the gardens is an intricate maze, named after a deadly poison, Belladonna. If you know the way through, it’s magical, a hiding place and playground like no other. If you don’t, it’s a place of fear and sinister riddles, where a young girl once went missing and was never seen again.

Grace comes to Hollowpark as a nanny for young Skye FitzMahon. Soon the mysterious past of Hollowpark has seduced her. Who is the woman she sometimes glimpses in an upstairs window? Or the apparition who keeps showing up unexpectedly, pleading, ‘Find me.’ And how can she fight her growing attraction to Skye’s father?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

My Thoughts…

Beginning with a telling incident in The Belladonna Maze in 1825, this story alternates between the nineteenth century and 2007. It is an absorbing medley of literary fiction with gothic and supernatural elements.

Lyrical and full of vibrant characters and vivid imagery, the story weaves its magic on the reader, immersing them in the maze and its secrets. It reads like a contemporary fairytale, and the reader is never sure what is fact and what is fantasy. Belladonna is known for its hallucinatory effects.

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Literary Humour, Motivational, New Books, Parenting and Famlies, Romance

Stepping Up Sarah Turner 5*#Review @TheUnmumsyMum @TransworldBooks #SteppingUp #LiteraryHumour #LiteraryFiction #FamilyDrama #sisters #romance #friendship #motivational #uplit #BookReview #parenting

Beth has never stuck at anything.

She’s quit more jobs and relationships than she can remember and she still sleeps in her childhood bedroom. It’s not that she hasn’t tried to grow up, it’s just that so far, the only commitment she’s held down is Friday drinks at the village pub.

Then, in the space of a morning, her world changes.

An unspeakable tragedy turns Beth’s life upside down, and she finds herself guardian to her teenage niece and toddler nephew, catapulted into an unfamiliar world of bedtime stories, parents’ evenings and cuddly elephants. Having never been responsible for anyone – or anything – it’s not long before she feels seriously out of her depth.

What if she’s simply not up to the job?

With a little help from her best friend Jory (purely platonic, of course …) and her lovely, lonely next-door neighbour, Albert, Beth is determined that this time she’s not giving up. It’s time to step up.

This is a story about digging deep for strength you never knew you had and finding magic in things that were there all along.

Amazon UK Waterstones

I received a copy of this book from Transworld Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I like this book because of its engaging blend of heartbreaking sadness and heartwarming humour. Beth is relatably flawed and easy to empathise with, and I care what happens to her. Sensory imagery brings the characters and events to vibrant life. Beth’s viewpoint captures the emotional clarity of their daily lives in a poignant way that keeps you immersed in their story.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Literary Fiction, New Books, Suspense

The Choice S.J. Ford 4*#Review @thechoiceauthor @HoZ_Books #TheChoice #LiteraryThriller #CrimeFiction #MoralDilemma #psychologicalfiction @ariesfiction

The Husband.
The Lawyer.
The Detective.
The Journalist.
The Murderer.
You are the jury.

When Jane Bell uncovered that her next-door neighbour planned to blow up their local primary school, she tried to get the police to listen to her. When they chose to do nothing, she took matters into her own hands.
Jane Bell saved the children. She is a hero. She stopped a terrorist attack. She murdered a man. Jane Bell committed a crime, and no matter what her reasons are she must face the legal repercussions of her actions.
Now several people follow Jane’s case, each with their own thoughts on what happened. Is Jane the hero or the villain? It’s up to you to decide.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The Choice blends literary and legal fiction with psychological elements. Told from several interesting viewpoints, many of whom are unreliable protagonists. The main protagonist kills a man she believes is a domestic terrorist. The story explores what led to Jane’s action and the legal redress for her alleged crime. Moral justice versus legal justice is a predominant theme here, and it forces the reader to ask, what if it was me?

Creative and plausible, this is an immersive read. The pace slows with detailed narrative at the expense of characterisation, but it’s compelling, and you keep turning the pages to find out what happens.

SJ Ford is twenty-six years old and lives in the Cheshire countryside. She currently works in online marketing and writes part-time – gathering the quirky, emotional and problematic to feed her imagination and unleash her pen. She has a Golden Retriever that she relishes going on adventures with, a horse that lets her fly, and her favourite place is Cemaes Bay on Anglesey. The Choice is SJ’s debut novel in this genre.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, New Books

The Lost Chapter Caroline Bishop 5*#Review @calbish @simonschusterUK @RandomTTours #BlogTour #BookReview #TheLostChapter #LiteraryFiction #Friendship #historicalfiction #1950s #Women #ComingofAge

1957, France. 

Florence and Lilli meet at finishing school in Lyon. Despite some differences, they forge a firm friendship that promises to last a lifetime. But a terrible betrayal prematurely tears them apart.

Years later in England, Florence has become the woman her friend knew she could be – creative, bold, and independent. The exact opposite of Alice, a young woman troubled by a recent trauma, whom Florence is determined to help bring out of her shell.  Just as Lilli once did for her. 

When Florence discovers that the novel she’s reading is written by Lilli and is based on their time at school, the two stories begin to unfold together. Past events illuminate the future, and it becomes clear that long-held secrets can't stay buried forever.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Simon & Schuster UK in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This story of friendship and living your best life is an absorbing read. Florence and Lilli shared a brief, but life-changing friendship, in 1950s France. Lilli's publication of a book prompts Florence to try and reconnect. She is a vibrant woman and is determined to help her young friend Alice fulfil her life potential.
The story tells Florence and Lilli's stories in the 1950s and Florence's present-day quest to find Lilli. It captures societal expectations for women in the 1950s through Florence and Lilli's experiences. I like the characterisation and the emotion the story evokes.
Caroline Bishop
Caroline Bishop began her journalism career at a small arts magazine in London, after a brief spell in educational publishing. She soon moved to work for a leading London theatre website, for which she reviewed shows and interviewed major acting and directing stars. Caroline turned freelance in 2012 and a year later moved to Switzerland, where her writing veered towards travel and she has contributed to publications including the Guardian, the Independent, the Telegraph and BBC Travel, writing mainly about Switzerland, and co-wrote the 2019 edition of the DK Eyewitness Guide to Switzerland. For two years Caroline was editor of TheLocal.ch, an English-language Swiss news site and it was during this time that she became fascinated with aspects of Swiss history and culture, particularly the evolution of women's rights.
Posted in Book Review, Literary Fiction, Mystery, New Books

The Christie Affair Nina de Gramont 3*#Review @NinadeGramont @MantleBooks #TheChristieAffair #BookReview #weekendreads

In 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days. Aside from the famous author herself, only I know the truth of her disappearance.

I’m no Hercule Poirot.

I’m her husband’s mistress.

Agatha Christie’s world is one of glamorous society parties, country house weekends, and growing literary fame.

Nan O’Dea’s world is something very different. Her attempts to escape a tough London upbringing during the Great War led to a life in Ireland marred by a hidden tragedy.

After fighting her way back to England, she’s set her sights on Agatha. Because Agatha Christie has something Nan wants. And it’s not just her husband.

Despite their differences, the two women will become the most unlikely of allies. And during the mysterious eleven days that Agatha goes missing, they will unravel a dark secret that only Nan holds the key to . . .

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Pan Macmillan via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This book’s storyline intrigues me, and I like the believably crafted characters. The writing style captures the 1920s ethos we meet historical characters alongside fictional ones. The story is complex and has elements of mystery but focuses on Nan’s life more than I expected. Her connection with Agatha puts her in the role of an unreliable protagonist. Her determination to achieve the life she wants makes her hard to like. This is more literary fiction than detective fiction but an engaging read.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, New Books, Thriller

White Dog Rupert Whewell 4* Review #WhiteDogBook @wearewhitefox @WhiteDogBook @midaspr #thriller #literaryfiction #publicationday

White Dog is a literary thriller set against the backdrop of the contemporary art world. It follows the fortunes of Ryder, a cynical art deal who aspires to the heights, yet despises the people who populate those realms.

On his way to the top, back down, and back up again, Ryder encounters a picaresque collection of characters and gets drawn into a web of intrigue that involves murder, money-laundering, and materialism. But can his newfound fame and fortune ever make up for the loss of the one thing he ever really valued in life?

White Dog will take you on a rollercoaster ride of sex, drugs, and art – of violence, blackmail, hedonism, and dark politics. Are you ready to face the wolves?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Midas PR in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Described as a literary thriller, I was intrigued to read this story completed and published posthumously by the author’s sister.

The author’s love of words is evident in his lyrical writing full of literary and sensory imagery. The writing style is in sharp contrast to the plot and setting that depicts a contemporary art world riven with materialistic people with little true feeling for the art they seek to possess.

Ryder, the main protagonist, is a young, ambitious art dealer who wants to be part of the art world’s elite even though he appears to despise them and what they represent. The story follows his career and life. Vividly depicted characters bring the story to life, but Ryder remains a mystery. He is self-absorbed, certainly, but his true self is hard to discern.

More literary fiction than thriller, but this will appeal to readers who enjoy this genre.

The only novel from budding author Rupert Whewell, who sadly lost his life in a tragic climbing accident in the Nanda Devi region of the Himalayas. At the time of his death, the manuscript of White Dog was left incomplete, with Rupert’s plans for the book’s ending remaining a mystery.

As a tribute to her brother and his love of words, Rupert’s sister Lisa Anson worked closely with renowned author John McDonald to complete White Dog, which allowed her to come to terms with his unexpected passing.

This book has been a long time in the making. Rupert always loved writing and talked often about his desire to write a book. Distracted by a full life and being present with his friends and family, it remained in the background, referenced, and variously started without real progress. In his late forties, he started to put pen to paper in earnest and White Dog was born. Rupert was a very special person; not just to me – as a lifelong presence – but to his many friends. His tragic death is something I will never get over and will never forget.

I have taken on the task of finishing and publishing his book, which he left 80 percent complete. It was important to me to see his story through and share his writing. It brought me closer to Rupert, and I hope it will keep his memory alive for those that knew him and will entertain others who did not.”

Lisa Anson, Rupert’s sister.
Posted in Book Review, Book Spotlight, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Literary Fiction, Romance

When the Music Stops Joe Heap 5*#Review @Joe_Heap_ @harperfiction @HarperCollinsUK #literaryfiction #music #love #life #loss #uplit #serendipity #BookReview #WhentheMusicStops @RandomTTours @fictionpubteam #Paperback #28October2021

Out in paperback today.

This is the story of Ella.
And Robert.
And of all the things they should have said, but never did.

‘What have you been up to?’
I shrug, ‘Just existing, I guess.’
‘Looks like more than just existing.’
Robert gestures at the baby, the lifeboat, the ocean.
‘All right, not existing. Surviving.’
He laughs, not unkindly. ‘Sounds grim.’
‘It wasn’t so bad, really. But I wish you’d been there.’

Ella has known Robert all her life.

Through seven key moments and seven key people, their journey intertwines.
 
From the streets of Glasgow during WW2 to the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll of London in the 60s and beyond, this is a story of love and near misses.

Of those who come into our lives and leave it too soon.

And of those who stay with you forever…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a beautifully written story of life, love, loss and serendipity. Music and the number seven define the parameters of this story which explores Ella’s life and her lifelong love of Robert. The writing is lyrical, as Ella revisits her past at seven pivotal times and introduces seven characters who left their emotional mark on her life.

The flashbacks are vivid and written with historical details and insight. They immerse the reader into the story and make it believable. Throughout, Ella is authentic and flawed. Her mistakes are a reflection of her humanity, and they make you consider your life and choices. The love story is gentle and tragic, but this is real love, and its ending is worthy of angst.

I read this in a day and enjoyed it for its originality, realism and supernatural twist.

Joe Heap

Joe Heap was born in 1986 and grew up in Bradford, the son of two teachers.

His debut novel The Rules of Seeing won Best Debut at the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards in 2019 and was shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag Reader Awards.

Joe lives in London with his girlfriend, their two sons and a cat who wishes they would get out of the house more often.

A note from Joe:
At a summer season in Ramsgate, 1959, two ice skaters held a party. My grandfather, a Glaswegian saxophonist who would rather have gone to the pub, was convinced by a comedian on the same bill to come along. My grandmother, another one of the ice skaters, sat down next to him and spilt her drink in his lap. Though she has since denied it, her first words of note to him were ‘Oh no, not another Scot.’

Nobody could have guessed how much would spin off that moment, myself and this book included.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Motivational, New Books

Freckles Cecelia Ahern 5*#Review @HarperFiction #Freckles @HarperCollinsUK @Cecelia_Ahern @fictionpubteam #BookReview

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
 
When a stranger utters these words to Allegra Bird, nicknamed Freckles, it turns her highly ordered life upside down. In her current life as a parking warden, she has left her eccentric father and unconventional childhood behind for a bold new life in the city.
 
But a single encounter leads her to ask the question she’s been avoiding for so long:  who are the people who made her the way she is?  And who are the five people who can shape and determine her future? Just as she once joined the freckles on her skin to mirror the constellations in the night sky, she must once again look for connections.

Told in Allegra’s vivid, original voice, moving from Dublin to the fierce Atlantic coast, this is an unforgettable story of human connection, of friendship, and growing into your own skin. 

Five people. Five stars. Freckle to freckle. Star to star.


Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Allegra or Freckles is a young woman finding her place in the world. She doesn’t relate well to others but enjoys her role as parking warden in Dublin. It is whilst doing her job she meets someone who tells her something she cannot forget. Her quest is to find the five people who define her. Told from Allegra’s viewpoint, the reader has intimate knowledge of Allegra’s often confusing world. The story has many layers and believable characters. Allegra draws the reader’s empathy, and you want her to succeed and be happy. Allegra develops as a character, learning from each encounter, and by the story’s conclusion, she knows herself.

The ending is poignant and uplifting and gives the reader hope that Allegra’s future is hopeful.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, New Books, Saga

The War Child Renita D’Silva 5*#Review @RenitaDSilva @bookouture #saga #WW2 #historicalfiction #histfic #LiteraryFiction #BookReview #TheWarChild #India #England #relationships #secrets

Everything will change, my love, she whispers to her only baby. I will make sure you are protected, looked after, loved. She commits his smell, the feel of him, to memory and fastens the gold St Christopher’s medal around his neck, tucking it into the blanket. Kissing him one last time, she lets him go. And with him go the pieces of her shattered heart.

London, 1940. Clara Knight grew up an orphan in the first world war and now is fighting to win the second. Nursing brave soldiers, she falls in love with one of her patients, whose warm brown eyes give her hope for a brighter future. But then he is sent to the front, leaving her alone with their child amidst the bombs raining down on the city… When she is offered the chance to give her son a better life, Clara makes the impossible choice to let him go. She leaves her mother’s precious St Christopher pendant with him, vowing to find him again when the war is over, so they can be a family once more.

Years later. Indira’s life has taken an unexpected turn and her only solace is caring for her grandfather. As he lies in bed, weak and confused, he calls her ‘Clara’, begging forgiveness for an unknown terrible act, tears rolling down his face. Indira goes looking for the truth… and discovers a tattered box of unsent letters, a gold St Christopher’s medal and a photograph of a baby swaddled in a blanket. Who was Clara Knight? And who is the baby in the photo? Her quest will reveal a devastating secret spanning decades, and change everything Indira thought she knew about her family…

An unforgettable and heart-breaking novel set in World War Two about the powerful bond between a mother and her child and a betrayal that echoes across generations. 

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Set across two continents and two world wars, this is an epic, and at times heartbreaking family saga full of betrayal, prejudice and sacrifice tempered with the power of love. This author writes from the heart with a myriad of emotions. Her writing is insightful and lyrical, riven with sensory imagery that transports the reader to the place and time. The two women face similar issues years apart determined, and driven they find a way through them.