Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Psychological Thriller

The Daughter-In-Law Nina Manning #BlogTour @ninamanning78 @BoldwoodBooks #PsychologicalThriller #AuthorInterview #PublicationDay

No one is good enough for her son…
As a single mother, Annie has an especially close relationship with her son, Ben. They have always been together. Just the two of them. So, when Ben brings home his mysterious beautiful new wife, Daisy, immediately Annie doesn’t trust her. Who is this woman who has taken her son away from her? And what is she hiding?
She’ll protect him with her life…
When Ben disappears, suddenly Annie and Daisy are all the other one has. Alone in Annie’s big, remote house, just the two of them, the tension is rising. And like any protective mother, Annie will stop at nothing to expose her new daughter in law, and the secrets she is hiding…

Amazon UK

Waterstones

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

My Thoughts…

Claustrophobic, menacing and yet so believable, ‘The Daughter In Law’, is a riveting read.

It was always Annie and Ben until it wasn’t. Annie can’t understand why her only child has left her and married in secret. Now he is bringing her daughter in law to visit, and she has to be prepared.
Daisy’s has secrets, her whirlwind romance with Ben offers her a new life, but still, she dreads meeting her mother in law.

Told from Annie and Daisy’s point of view, the story begins to unfold, and each chapter brings a new revelation making you uneasy as you read on. The characters are complex, emotionally damaged, but believable. Annie seems extreme in her dominance of Ben, but the bond between a mother and her child is strong, and not always easy to share.

The plot twists begin early on, and gradually you start to realise there is something sinister going on, but who is the true victim. The suspense building is excellent, making this a genuine page-turner.

The last few chapters are so atmospheric, creepy and visual. You can see the action unfolding in your mind, even though you are metaphorically watching through your fingers.

A classy psychological novel, with many unique elements, vivid imagery and characters that resonate.

Author Interview with Nina Manning – The Daughter in Law

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 What are the inspirations behind this story?

I was interested in the relationship between a mother and son and how it is different from a mother and daughter relationship. I was fascinated by how some mothers find it difficult to let go of their sons and how they can even feel threatened by their son’s partner. I wanted to explore that idea on a deeper and darker level.

What characteristics does your story have that makes it unique, in the popular psychological thriller genre?

The Daughter in law has many themes running through it, such as grief and love and friendships. It also tackles covert narcissistic abuse and the one thing that binds, Annie, Daisy and Ben are that they were all emotional neglected as children. My book also has book club questions!

Do you draw your characters from real life, your imagination, or are they a mix of both? How do you make your characters realistic?

It’s inevitable that a characters foibles, or the way they gesticulate have been drawn from observations of the thousands of people I have encountered during my varied and interesting life so far. But all the characters in the book are purely a figment of my imagination.

When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?

When I wrote The Daughter in Law, it was the ending that came first. I had in my mind, a dramatic climax to the story as well as a big reveal so I wrote the story towards that ending.

The second psychological thriller that I am writing at the moment is purely plot-driven. I have added characters in as and when I need them and then seeing where it takes me. But I have an overall plot in mind and again, that dramatic ending.

What made you decide to become a writer and why does this genre appeal to you?

Writing has been part of my life since I was a small child. I have always had an innate desire to write. I have tried working for other people but I was always drawn back to my writing. I have never been able to conform and I have never been any good at being told when to be a desk/place of work and when I can leave. I am now thankful writing is my job and I can fit all my work around my family life.  

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

I enjoy reading any kind of book as long as it has great prose, interesting characters and an engaging plot. I read a lot of books for my podcast, Sniffing The Pages which goes out every two weeks, so as well as reading books for leisure, I also review books. I have just read a women’s fiction book by Holly Bourne and now I am reading Circe by Madeline Miller. 

What’s the best thing about being a writer and the worst?

There are many best things but I would say being able to completely create an entire world, characters and scenarios from nothing, put them on to paper for the world to read and enjoy.

The worst bit so far is the painful part of getting that first draft done when you know what you need to do but it’s a struggle to get there. However, once the first draft is done, it’s an enjoyable experience moulding and shaping the novel to the finished piece.

Nina Manning

Nina Manning studied psychology and was a restaurant-owner and private chef (including to members of the royal family). She is the founder and co-host of Sniffing The Pages, a book review podcast. She lives in Dorset.

Nina’s Author Profile Website Twitter Instagram Facebook

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Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Murder Mystery

A Whisker in the Dark – LeighAnn Dobbs @bookouture @leighanndobbs 4* #Review #PublicationDay #CozyMystery #TheOysterCoveGuesthouse

Discovering the 300-year-old skeleton of shipping tycoon Jedediah Biddeford in the ballroom wall is a big old hassle for Josie Waters, owner of the Oyster Cove Guesthouse. Especially when Biddeford’s descendants turn up, certain that a family legend about treasure buried nearby must be true.

Josie is too busy dreaming up the perfect cake for the Oyster Cove’s 250th-anniversary celebration to worry about the Biddeford family – plus half the town – digging up her yard… until one of her guests is murdered in the guesthouse garden.

With worries that her guesthouse will get a reputation for being the kind of place you only leave in a body bag, Josie must put her detective skills to work to find the killer. Lucky for her, Nero and Marlowe and their gang of cat sleuths are also on the case.

From the old wharf to the town common, to the guesthouse itself with its many nooks and crannies, the cats are sure to sniff out the killer… but can they help Josie stop the person behind the mysterious murder before they strike again?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is the second book in the Oyster Cove Guesthouse cozy mystery series. Attracted by the cover, I love cats, and still fondly remembering reading ‘The Cat Who…’ cozy mysteries when I was younger, I dived in.

I was surprised that the characters didn’t immediately draw me in. Maybe, I needed to read the first book in the series? As I read on, there is the necessary backstory to Josie, her friends and family, to see how their story got to this point. The murder mystery is standalone, and the cats Nero, Marlowe and their friends are so perfectly characterised, they tell their own stories.

The characters, once you get to know are delightfully quirky, the family of guests staying at the guesthouse, less so, but they are flawed, and therefore realistic. The plot has plenty of twists and false leads, so just when you think you know who did it, another suspect appears.

The cats are major characters in this story, their detective musings are like a parallel universe to the main story. This story relies on a little ‘magic’, but everyone who has shared life with a cat or two will find this easy to accept.

The ending ties up all the loose ends, and guess what? The cats find the culprit.

If you enjoy reading cozy mystery with a New England setting, quirky characters, and cat detectives, this is for you.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Romance

The Secret Cove in Croatia – Julie Caplin 5* #Review @0neMoreChapter @JulieCaplin @rararesources #Croatia #Travel #Romance #holiday #RomanticEscapes #BlogTour #PublicationDay

Sail away to beautiful Croatia for summer sun, sparkling turquoise seas and a holiday romance that’s forever…

When no-nonsense, down-to-earth Maddie Wilcox is offered the chance to work on a luxury yacht for the summer, she can’t say no. Yes, she’ll be waiting on the posh guests… But island-hopping around the Adriatic sea will more than makeup for it – especially when Nick, her best friend Nina’s brother, is one of them.

Sparks fly when they meet onboard and Maddie can’t believe self-entitled jerk Nick is really related to Nina.

But in a secret, picture-perfect cove, away from the real world, Maddie and Nick discover they might have more in common than they realise…

Amazon UK

Amazon

Waterstones

I received a copy of this book from One More Chapter in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I always enjoy these romantic escapes, and this one takes place in Croatia, on board a luxury yacht.

Nick, Nina’s brother from ‘The Little Paris Patisserie’, has a glamorous, if shallow girlfriend, who has just invited him to the holiday of a lifetime. Maddie, Nina’s friend is at a loose end and jumps at the chance to crew for the luxury yacht. There are only six guests but Maddie soon has her work cut out, dealing with their constant neediness.

Nick and Maddie’s first meeting, gives both of them the wrong impression of the other, but the claustrophobic atmosphere of the yacht throws them together and they realise they have more in common than they thought.

The description of Croatia and the secret cove allow you to experience the culture, romance and scenery. The glamorous lifestyle is also interesting but the shallowness of its players makes Tara and her friends hard to like. Maddie is lovely, but lacking in confidence, Nick is out of his depth, but eventually realises beauty is more than fancy packaging.

The romance builds slowly between the two outsiders, but there is plenty of conflict and rough seas, even when their passion is undeniable. Thankfully, they get the happy ending they deserve.

A lovely holiday read.

Jules Wake announced at the age of ten that she planned to be a writer. Along the way she was diverted by the glamorous world of PR and worked on many luxury brands, taking journalists on press trips to awful places like Turin, Milan, Geneva, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam and occasionally losing the odd member of the press in an airport. This proved fabulous training for writing novels as it provided her with the opportunity to eat amazing food, drink free alcohol, hone her writing skills on press releases and to research European cities for her books.

She writes best-selling warm-hearted contemporary fiction for HarperImpulse.

Under her pen name, Julie Caplin, her twelfth novel, The Secret Cove in Croatia published in ebook format this July.

Twitter @Juleswake Facebook

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Literary Fiction

Beneath The Surface Everyone Lies- Fiona Neill – 4* #Review @MichaelJBooks #FionaNeill #FamilyDrama #Secrets #Mothers #Daughters #LiteraryFiction #BeneathTheSurface

After a chaotic childhood, Grace Vermuyden is determined her own daughters will fulfil the dreams denied to her.

Lilly is everyone’s golden girl, the popular, clever daughter she never had to worry about. So when she mysteriously collapses in class, Grace’s carefully ordered world begins to unravel.

Dark rumours swirl around their tight-knit community as everyone comes up with their own theories about what happened.

Consumed with paranoia, and faced with increasing evidence that Lilly has been leading a secret life, Grace starts to search for clues.

But left to her own devices, ten-year-old Mia develops some wild theories of her own that have unforeseen and devastating consequences for the people she loves most.

Beneath the Surface explores the weight of the past upon the present, the burden of keeping secrets and what happens when children get caught in the undercurrents of adult relationships. 

Amazon UK

Waterstones

I received a copy of this book from Penguin Book UK – Michael Joseph Publishing in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A complex and insightful exploration of the modern family.

Grace, Patrick, Lilly and Mia are on the surface an ideal, nuclear family. As the story progresses, the layers are peeled away, and the controlling behaviour, emotional damage, lies and secrets are revealed, and the family implodes.

This stories most poignant message is that children need protection, sometimes even from their parents, to ensure negative behaviours, unrequited ambitions and hopes, are not instilled into them.

Mia’s chance discovery during a family barbeque has a devastating effect. Not, only the revelation, but the chain of events it catalyses, and the secrets it forces to the surface.

The characters are multi-layered and realistic, Mia is the antithesis of Lilly, the ‘golden child’. They are both intelligent but influenced by their mother’s attitude towards them.

The story is suspenseful, with an underlying layer of menace. You are constantly waiting for something bad to happen, and this makes it riveting and unnerving to read. The authenticity of the setting, and characters adds to this.

I like the ending, it brings together everything that has gone before, through nail-biting action scenes and a poignant, yet hopeful final end.

Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Murder Mystery

Murder in a Country Garden – 5* Review – Betty Rowlands @bookouture @BettyRowlandsFP #MurderMystery #cozymystery #MelissaCraigMysteries #publicationday

A perfect country garden is full of flowers and gently buzzing bees… But the man lying dead beneath the trees can no longer see the beautiful scene.

Melissa Craig is thrilled that summer has arrived. She has decided to give up her career as an amateur sleuth and enjoy a quiet life in her beautiful cottage. The only digging in Melissa’s life now happens in her garden.

However, when a keen beekeeper is found dead, covered in multiple stings, her new resolve is tested. As she gets to know the family of the dead man, she realises he was no saint. Could someone have possibly wanted him dead? Could this be a very clever murder?

As Melissa starts to probe the victim’s friends and acquaintances, another member of the family is also stung to death. Who could have turned the bees against their keeper? And when will they strike again?

With the residents of Upper Benbury now fearful to open their windows to the summer air, and the police treating the deaths as accidental, Melissa must solve this case herself. To find the killer with the sharpest sting, she may have to delve deep into the hive…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

After reading book one in this series ‘Murder at Hawthorn Cottage’, I said in my review’ that the book is ‘The quintessential cozy mystery… the storyline is fast-paced and engaging… builds to an adrenaline fuelled ending, full of action and powerful imagery. An enjoyable, escapist read that I suspect may become my secret addiction.’.

Now, after reading book twelve ‘Murder In A Country Garden’ the end of the series, all these things are still true, and since I have read twelve books in under eight months the stories are addictive.

If you enjoy dastardly crimes, committed in beautiful country settings, with larger than life characters, who all have secrets, but are not all murderers this series is for you.

Melissa Craig is the perfect reluctant detective, with sound knowledge of crime, and how its perpetrators are motivated, from her career as a crime novelist. Melissa is perfectly placed to discover the truth behind the crimes she discovers.

The last book in the series can be read as a standalone, as the story is complete and the main protagonist and characters are well described. The plot is clever and full of twists and the family where the deaths have occurred very mysterious. For fans of the series, we get to enjoy the final instalments of developments in Melissa’s private life, which adds depth and authenticity to this likeable retro cozy murder mystery.

This is an enjoyable end to a lovely series.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Literary Humour

The Rosie Result – 4* #Review – Graeme Simsion @MichaelJBooks @GraemeSimsion #Autism #PublicationDay #Literary #Fiction #Humour#Family #Friends #Society #DonTillman

Big-hearted, hilarious and exuberantly life-affirming, The Rosie Result is a story of overcoming life’s obstacles with a little love and a lot of overthinking.

Meet Don Tillman, the genetics professor with a scientific approach to everything. But he’s facing a set of human dilemmas tougher than the trickiest of equations.

Right now he is in professional hot water after a lecture goes viral for all the wrong reasons; his wife of 4,380 days, Rosie, is about to lose the research job she loves; and – the most serious problem of all – their eleven-year-old son, Hudson, is struggling at school. He’s a smart kid, but socially awkward and not fitting in.

Fortunately, Don’s had a lifetime’s experience of not fitting in. And he’s going to share the solutions with Hudson.

He’ll need the help of old friends and new, lock horns with the education system, and face some big questions about himself. As well as opening the world’s best cocktail bar.

Amazon UK

I missed out on the first two books in this trilogy, and although I enjoyed the reading ‘The Rosie Result’, I felt I missed out on some of the character development of Don and Rosie, that reading the previous books would give me. In terms of the story, it does read well as a standalone, as this focuses on the problems Hudson, Don’s son is having with his school life.

The book explores being on the autism spectrum, and what this means to the individual, their family, friends and the society they are part of. The tone of the book is lighthearted and many of the family’s experiences are recounted in a humorous way.

The author explores some important topical issues relating to Autism, such as the benefit of an autism diagnosis and the pros and cons of being labelled, and crucially whether autistic children’s behaviour needs to be modified, or should society accommodate them, without the need to conform?

The characters are believable and the issues discussed are handled sensitively and in a readable way. You quickly become invested in the family and want them to have a hopeful, satisfying future.

In summary, even if you haven’t read the other books in the series this is a worthwhile read, I enjoyed it, but if you can read the whole series do. The ending is well-written and realistic, whilst giving an optimistic outlook on the family’s future.

Posted in Book Review, Book Spotlight, Crime, Extract, Thriller

A Beautiful Corpse – 5* #Review Christi Daugherty @HarperFiction- @CJ_Daugherty-@HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam #Paperback #PublicationDay #Crime #journalist #Savannah #Extract

It’s a thin line between love and murder…

A murder that shocks a city… 
Shots ring out on one of Savannah’s most famous streets. A beautiful law student lies dead.
  
A case full of secrets and lies…
Three men close to the victim are questioned. All of them claim to love her. All of them say they are innocent of her murder.
 
An investigation that could prove deadly…
As crime reporter Harper McClain unravels a tangled story of obsession and jealousy, the killer focuses on her. He’s already killed, one woman. Will he kill another?

Amazon UK

Extract from A Beautiful Corpse – Christi Daugherty

‘Eight ball in the corner pocket.’

Leaning over the edge of the pool table, Harper McClain stared across the long expanse of empty green felt. The cue in her hands was smooth and cool. She’d had four of Bonnie’s super-strength margaritas tonight, but her grip was steady.

There was a delicate, transient point somewhere between too much alcohol and too little where her pool skills absolutely peaked. This was it.

Exhaling slowly, she took the shot. The cue ball flew straight and true, slamming into the eight, sending it rolling to the pocket. There was never any question – it hit the polished wood edge of the table only lightly, and dropped like a stone.

‘Yes.’ Harper raised her fist. ‘Three in a row.’ But the cue ball was still rolling.

Lowering her hand, Harper leaned against the table. ‘No, no, no,’ she pleaded.

As she watched in dismay, the scuffed white cue ball headed after the eight like a faithful hound.

‘Come on, cue ball,’ Bonnie cajoled from the other side of the table. ‘Mama needs a new pair of shoes.’

Reaching the pocket lip, the ball trembled for an instant as if making up its mind and then, with a decisive clunk, disappeared into the table’s insides, taking the game with it.

‘At last.’ Bonnie raised her cue above her head. ‘Victory is mine.’

Harper glared. ‘Have you been waiting all night to say that?’ ‘Oh my God, yes.’ Bonnie was unrepentant.

It was very late. Aside from the two of them, the Library Bar was empty. Naomi, who had worked the late shift with Bonnie, had finished wiping down the bar an hour ago and gone home.

All the lights were on in the rambling bar, illuminating the battered books on the shelves that still covered the old walls from the days when it had actually been a library. It could easily hold sixty people but, with just the two of them, the place was comfortable – even cozy, in its way, with Tom Waits growling from the jukebox about love gone wrong.

Despite the hour, Harper was in no hurry to leave. It wasn’t far to walk. But all she had at home was a cat, a bottle of whiskey and a lot of bad memories. And she’d spent enough time with them lately.

‘Rematch?’ She glanced at Bonnie, hopefully. ‘Winner takes all?’ Propping her cue against a sign that read: ‘Books + Beer = LIFE’,

Bonnie walked around the table. The blue streaks in her long blond hair caught the light when she held out her hand.

‘Loser pays,’ she said, adding, ‘Also, I’m all out of change.’  ‘I thought bartenders always had change,’ Harper complained, pulling the last coins from her pocket.

‘Bartenders are smart enough to put their money away before they start playing pool with you,’ Bonnie replied.

There was a break in the music as the jukebox switched songs. In the sudden silence, the shrill ring of Harper’s phone made them both jump.

Grabbing the device off the table next to her, Harper glanced at the screen.

‘Hang on,’ she said, hitting the answer button. ‘It’s Miles.’ Miles Jackson was the crime photographer at the Savannah Daily News. He wouldn’t call at this hour without a good reason.

‘What’s up?’ Harper said, by way of hello.

‘Get yourself downtown. We’ve got ourselves a murder on River Street,’ he announced.

‘You’re kidding me.’ Harper dropped her cue on the pool table. ‘Are you at the scene?’

‘I’m pulling up now. Looks like every cop in the city is here.’ Miles had her on speaker phone – in the background, she could hear the rumble of his engine and the insistent crackle of his police scanners. The sound sent a charge through Harper. ‘On my way.’ She hung up without saying goodbye. Bonnie looked at her enquiringly.

‘Got to go,’ Harper told her, grabbing her bag. ‘Someone just got murdered on River Street.’

Bonnie’s jaw dropped. ‘River Street? Holy crap.’

‘I know.’ Harper pulled out her notebook and police scanner and headed across the room, mentally calculating how long it would take her to get there. ‘If it’s a tourist, the mayor will absolutely lose her shit.’

River Street was the epicenter of the city’s tourism district – and the safest place in town. Until now.

Bonnie ran after her.

‘Give me a second to lock up,’ she said. ‘I’ll come with you.’ Harper turned to look at her. ‘You’re coming to a crime scene?’

The music had started up again.

‘You’ve had four margaritas,’ Bonnie reminded her. ‘I made them strong. You’ll be over the limit. I’ve only had two beers tonight.’

Behind the bar, she opened a concealed wall panel and flipped some switches – in an instant, the music fell silent. A second later, the lights went off one by one, until only the red glow of the exit sign remained.

Grabbing her keys, Bonnie ran to join Harper, the heels of her cowboy boots clicking against the concrete floor in the sudden quiet, short skirt swirling around her thighs.

Harper still wasn’t convinced this was a great idea. ‘You know there’ll be dead people there, right?’

Shrugging, Bonnie unlocked the front door and pulled it open. Steamy southern night air poured in.

‘I’m a grown-up. I can take it.’

She glanced over her shoulder with a look Harper had known better than to argue with since they were both six years old.

‘Let’s go.’

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

My Thoughts…

Authentic, fast-paced, with an absorbing plot and a likeable protagonist, A Beautiful Corpse’ is the second book in the Harper McClain series, the crime reporter investigates the murder of someone she knows and uncovers a web of fear, lies and privilege.

This story works as a standalone read and there is enough backstory on the main characters and previous events for this to be enjoyable. However, it’s so good, you’ll want to read the first book too.

The setting is atmospheric and bought to life by the details of the buildings, people and the social ethos. The characters are vividly portrayed and their motivations and interactions with each other believable. The life of a crime reporter is intrinsic to the story and is expertly written.

I like Harper she is driven and skilled at her job and hides her vulnerability well. Her relationship with the police officers, whose cooperation she needs to succeed, is explored and provides some important conflict in the story.

There is an overriding theme to this story, the search for Harper’s mother’s murderer, more clues are discovered in this book but it ends with new questions that may lead the crime reporter into personal danger if she pursues the truth.

The exciting ending is ultimately satisfying, tieing up the plot, but posing further questions for Harper, presumably to be resolved in the next book.