Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Revenge Fiction, Family Drama

Knowing You – 5*#Review – Samantha Tonge @canelo_co @SamTongeWriter

An abrupt change; a new friendship; a dark secret…

Kind-hearted Violet has never fitted in, but despite being bullied at school is now content. She is dating ambitious Lenny, has her dream job in publishing and runs a book club at the local retirement home.

However, when her relationship with Lenny begins to falter, Violet, hurt and alone, seeks the advice of her new flatmate, Bella. She changes her image and with her head held high aims to show that she doesn’t need Lenny in her life to be happy and successful.

Her long-term friends Kath and Farah worry about Bella’s influence and slowly Violet starts to distance herself from them. When she was a child, her closest confidant and companion was a boy called Flint. Her mother didn’t approve of their closeness and he suffered a terrible end. She won’t let the same thing happen to Bella, no matter what anyone says…

Knowing You is about friendship and knowing who to trust with your deepest secrets; it’s about taking control of your life and not being afraid to stand out.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Violet has a career she loves, and a relationship that she is happy with, the first part of this story follows her life as a children’s book editor, which is interesting, she has lots of friends mostly older than her, but they value her friendship as she does theirs.

The present-day narrative is broken up with stories from Violet’s childhood, and a particularly momentous event that takes place and effects the young girl deeply.

It’s impossible not to feel empathy for Violet as a child, and to admire what she achieves as an adult. Then something happens to change her outlook on life and the secrets of her past resurface in a dangerous adult version.

This story is beautifully written. Violet is a lovely character and you want her to realise that beauty comes from within and that she doesn’t need the opinion of others to validate her. I loved the sincerity and the easy flow of this book, it’s easy to read but it makes you think. The characters are believable, as are their motivations and actions.

Even though you may guess what is happening, you are never sure until the end. The full impact of Violet’s story resonates, and it’s a poignant and powerful message.

A curious mix of revenge fiction and family drama, this story will hold your interest until the last page.

Posted in Book Review

Mine – J.L.Butler – 4*Review


Francine Day is a high flying lawyer about to apply for silk, ambitious and brilliant. She just needs one headline-grabbing client to seal her place as queen’s counsel … Martin Joy. The attraction is instant. Obsessive.

They embark on a secret affair, and Francine thinks she can hold it together. But then Martin’s wife goes missing. And Martin is the prime suspect. Francine is now his lawyer, lover and the last person to see Donna Joy alive.

As the case unravels so does Francine.


Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

‘Mine’ is an enjoyable read. The legal setting is interesting. The professional trust between a lawyer and client broken by the protagonist pushes her into the unreliable protagonist territory. Her mental health issues may also make her observations and perceptions questionable from the reader’s point of view.

A well written psychological thriller, regarding mystery, menace, pacing and suspense. The themes are well tried in this type of novel as are the characters; the mentally unstable obsessive mistress, the ruthless businessman for whom reputation and money is everything, but if you enjoy psychological thrillers the polished presentation of this one will please.

The mental disintegration of the Fran, the main protagonist, is realistic as are her actions, many of the choices she makes are bad, but they are understandable and therefore believable. The final chapters are atmospheric and suspenseful, aided by a wonderfully gothic setting and inclement weather.

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

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: More Than Us- Dawn Barker – Guest Post – 4* Review

When parents disagree on how to care for their child, is it justifiable to take extreme measures?

Emily and Paul have a glorious home, money in the bank and two beautiful children. Since leaving Scotland for Paul to play football for an Australian team they have been blessed. But sadness lies behind the picture-perfect family – sixteen-year-old Cameron has battled with health troubles his entire life. There’s no name for what he has, but his disruptive behaviour, OCD, and difficulty in social situations is a constant source of worry. 

When Paul’s career comes to a shuddering halt, he descends into a spiral of addiction, gambling away the family’s future. By the time he seeks help, it’s his new boss Damien who recommends and pays for a rehab facility.

While Paul is away, Emily has to make a tough decision about their son. She keeps it from Paul knowing he’ll disapprove. And when a terrible accident reveals the truth, Paul takes his son and goes on the run, leaving Emily to care for fourteen-year-old Tilly, who unbeknown to her parents is fighting battles of her own.

Can the family join together for the sake of their loved ones, or will their troubles tear them apart?

Links to Book:

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

More Than Us FB coveer

Guest Post – Dawn Barker

The writing process for More Than Us 

First of all, thank you for having me on your blog today. I’m very excited that More Than Us is out now!

More Than Us is my third novel, so I’d hoped I’d be a more efficient writer this time around, but it took me longer to write than either my first book, Fractured or my second, Let Her Go!

Generally, when I write, I start with a vague idea of a particular character or issue that I find intriguing and complicated. For More Than Us, this was the idea of a family disagreeing about the mental health treatment of their child. This is not unusual, and as a child psychiatrist, it’s something that I see quite often in my practice. I also see strong views in the wider society about both the diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues on children, both from the point of view of overdiagnosis and treatment (that I believe does sometimes happen), and the other extreme, people who do not believe that there is any place for psychiatrists in the treatment of children. I believe that the reality is somewhere between these opposing views, and wanted to explore that in fiction.

I began writing the first draft of More Than Us many years ago; I remember talking about it while I was living in Cape Town, over four years ago. At the time, I had just finished editing my second novel, and my mind was starting to look for new ideas.

Generally, when I write the first draft, I set myself a daily target of 500 words per day. I don’t plan what I’m going to write, or outline chapters or the plot, I just write scenes and characters and let them develop along the way. I’m not sure this is the most efficient way of writing, but it’s the way I’ve always done it! With More Than Us, knowing that I now had three young children, and was going back to work, I aimed for 1000 words a day just to get to the end of the first draft. I believe that getting all the ideas on to the page without worrying about how good or bad they are, is essential.

I then put the draft away. I had released my second book, Let Her Go, in Australia, and so was touring around promoting that, and I had gone back to work as all three of my daughters had started school. After spending a couple of years working hard on writing and promoting my first two books, I needed a break from it for a while.

In 2017, Canelo published Let Her Go, and I was thrilled when they said they would also like to publish my third novel…a year later! I panicked a little, as by now I was working essentially full-time, and busy with my family, but I know I work better with a deadline and agreed. I then opened up the draft of More Than Us on my computer…and panicked some more!

For the next six months, I wrote a second draft. I found it frustrating not to be able to work on it every day, as I had with my first two books, but also had to accept that I needed to work, and ultimately, family time was more important than writing when my children weren’t at school. I then wrote a third draft, this time having turned down some work and taken some time off my day job to fit it in, and then a fourth and a fifth… Finally, after many 4 am starts, I submitted More Than Us to my agent, and then to Canelo, at the end of 2017. The early part of this year was taken up by edits, and I’m so pleased that it has finally been published!

It’s been a lesson for me to accept that it’s not always easy to find the balance between writing and real life, but the satisfaction and excitement of finishing a 100000-word project is worth it!

Thanks again for having me on your blog and I hope you enjoy reading More Than Us.

My Thoughts…

Mental health issues are discussed more openly in the 21st-century, and this story examines the two extremes of ignoring mental health problems or labelling every behavioural difference as a mental health issue for a fictional family in Austrailia.

The scenarios portrayed are believable, and the differing parental reactions to their children’s behaviour are well-researched both regarding mental health facts and differing viewpoints on mental health. The family experiences addiction, depression, obsessive behaviour and low self-esteem issues and the circumstances surrounding them are authentic, and the strain on family relations is convincing.

Written from the two parents points of view, they view the same issues differently, which makes for discord, fear and finally understanding. There is no jargon overload, despite the book’s detailed content. What comes across is the human reactions to the problems they face and their differing ways of solving them.

A sensitively written story that examines mental health issues in children and parents and how they are perceived and resolved.

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

Dawn Barker is a psychiatrist and author. She grew up in Scotland, then in 2001 she moved to Australia, completed her psychiatric training and began writing. Her first novel, Fractured, was selected for the 2010 Hachette/Queensland Writers Centre manuscript development programme, was one of Australia’s bestselling debut fiction titles for 2013, and was shortlisted for the 2014 WA Premier’s Book Awards. Her second novel is Let Her Go. Dawn lives in Perth with her husband and three young children.

Twitter: @drdawnbarker




Posted in Book Review

The Taste of Blue Light Lydia Ruffles 2* Review


An incandescent, soul-searching story about a broken young woman’s search for a truth buried so deep it threatens to consume her, body and mind.

These are the things Lux knows:
She is an artist. 
She is lucky. 
She is broken.

These are the things she doesn’t know:
What happened over the summer.
Why she ended up in hospital.
Why her memories are etched in red. 

Desperate to uncover the truth, Lux’s time is running out. If she cannot piece together the events of the summer and regain control of her fractured mind, she will be taken away from everything and everyone she holds dear.

If her dreams don’t swallow her first.

Amazon UK


My Thoughts…

An intense, original story but it is so dark and specific. One person’s vision of mental illness, if you don’t share this viewpoint then connecting with the main character and the plot is hard work and probably not worth the effort. The pacing is too slow.
I am not the intended age group, but I have read a lot of YA literature and usually enjoy it, so I guess it’s just this story that’s not for me.
I received a copy of this book from Hodder Children’s Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.