Wednesday 29 July 2020

#BlogTour Miss Benson's Beetle by Rachel Joyce

It's an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Miss Benson's Beetle by Rachel Joyce.
About the Author
Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Perfect, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, The Music Shop and a collection of interlinked short stories, A Snow Garden & Other Stories. Her books have been translated into thirty -six languages and two are in development for film.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book prize and long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. Rachel was awarded the Specsavers National Book Awards ‘New Writer of the Year’ in December 201 2 and shortlisted for the ‘UK Author of the Year’201 4. Rachel was a Costa prize judge and University Big Read author in 2019.

She has also written over twenty original afternoon plays and adaptations of the classics for BBC Radio 4, including all the Bronte novels. She moved to writing after a long career as an actor, performing leading roles for the RSC, the National Theatre and Cheek by Jowl. She lives with her family in Gloucestershire.

Follow on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit Miss Benson's Beetle

About the book
It is 1950, two unlikely women set off on a hare-brained adventure to the other side of the world to try and find a beetle, and in doing so discover friendship and how to be their best of themselves. This is quintessential Joyce: at once poignant and playful, with huge heart and the same resonance, truth and lightness of touch as her phenomenally successful debut, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

Britain, post Second World War. I n a moment of madness Margery Benson abandons her sensible job and advertises for an assistant to accompany her on an expedition. She is going to travel to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist.

Enid Pretty, in pink hat and pompom sandals, is not the companion she had in mind. But together they will find themselves drawn into an adventure that exceeds all expectations. They must risk everything, break all the rules, but at the top of a red mountain they will discover who they truly are, and how to be the best of themselves.This is a novel that is less about what can be found than the belief it might be found; it is an intoxicating adventure story but it is also about what it means to be a woman and a tender exploration of a friendship that defies all boundaries.

Miss Benson finally reaches her limit and decides to put all her resources and hopes into finding a golden beetle in the middle of nowhere. It's the last fond memory she has of herself and her father - learning about the beetle. She recruits an assistant, which leads to an unusual pairing and a relationship that teaches her more about herself and life than she ever expected.

I loved this book. It has echoes of Eleanor Oliphant and The Other Half of Augusta Hope, both of which feature women who learn to love themselves as they are instead of being burdened by the way society expects them to look, behave and live. Miss Benson embarking upon her journey and seeking that particularly elusive beetle, thereby discovering herself, her worth, friendship and true sisterhood - it's also a story of a woman accepting herself. 

There is this interesting part of the story where Joyce actually confronts the reader, albeit subtly, with the foursome of roles in regards to being a woman. You have Miss Benson, the worn down spinster. Enid, the loose woman and rule-breaker. Dolly, the subservient woman itching to break free, and Mrs Pope the diplomat's wife - the woman who becomes the foe of other women in an attempt to appease the patriarchal society. Judging other women instead of aiding and understanding, fitting in instead of standing up and being counted.

The quest to find the beetle becomes synonymous with acceptance of self, with a final confrontation with loss and with an acknowledgement of peace. The highest bar set by others takes on a note of irrelevance when the realisation dawns that you, or in this case Miss Benson, should be more interested in what makes you happy.

Joyce is a wonderful storyteller, who has a knack of capturing the absurd, the pain, the honesty and the core of humanity. Life isn't clean - it's dirty and it hurts, but now again we see the joy and feel the peace through the mists of life.

Buy Miss Benson's Beetle at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Doubleday pub date 23 July 2020 | £16.99 | Hardback. Ebook - Transworld Digital; pub date 23 July 2020. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Waterstones.

Tuesday 28 July 2020

#BlogTour You May Kiss the Bridesmaid by Camilla Isley

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour You May Kiss the Bridesmaid by Camilla Isley.

About the Author
Camilla is an engineer turned writer after she quit her job to follow her husband on an adventure abroad.

She’s a cat lover, coffee addict, and shoe hoarder. Besides writing, she loves reading—duh!—cooking, watching bad TV, and going to the movies—popcorn, please. She’s a bit of a foodie, nothing too serious. A keen traveler, Camilla knows mosquitoes play a role in the ecosystem, and she doesn’t want to starve all those frog princes out there, but she could really live without them.

Follow @camillaisley on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazonon Facebookon BookBubon Instagramon Pinterest, Visit Buy You May Kiss the Bridesmaid

About the book
Archibald Hill is handsome, single, and he’s going to his best friend’s wedding ready to make a conquest or two. After all, everyone knows weddings are the perfect setting to get lucky.

Summer Knowles used to have a life—friends, family, a sister who’d do anything for her—until she blew it all away with a terrible mistake. Now, attending her twin’s wedding as the party’s undesirable number one seems like more than she can handle. So, when a tall stranger with smoldering ice-blue eyes offers her a therapy of seven nights of no-strings-attached fun, she might even ignore that he has a beard and accept.

Problem is, Summer has never been good at keeping sex and feelings separated…

Summer isn't exactly looking forward to her sister's wedding. Her past has made her a social pariah and to be fair she has a lot going on in her private life anyway. She has sworn off men for good, maybe for a while at least. Until she meets the best man that is, then all bets are off when it comes to having a good time.

Archie thinks the groom is the luckiest guy in the world to be marrying the girl of his dreams. He is even a tad jealous, so a little distraction during the wedding week is exactly the right thing to keep him occupied.

The casual hook-up between Archie and Summer turns into something a little more when their secret trysts are discovered. Then fun becomes more serious and the thought of an adult relationship with the responsibilities that come with it drives a wedge between the two of them.

I kind of felt sorry for Summer. Everyone makes mistakes - should they be able to redeem themselves or get a second chance. Does it depend on the crime or the mistake? Does Summer deserve to be treated like a pariah, despite the fact the person she hurt the most has moved on and also forgiven her.

It's a delightful romcom, an amusing and yet sweet story at times. This series reminds me of work by Sarah Morgan. Fun-filled romance with moments of breathless passion, complicated emotions and people who are made for each other.

Buy You May Kiss the Bridesmaid at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Pink Bloom Press; pub date 23 July 2020. Buy at Amazon com. At Apple books. Barnes&Noble. At Kobo. Google Play.

Sunday 26 July 2020

#Blogtour Eleven Lines to Somewhere by Alyson Rudd

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Eleven Lines to Somewhere by Alyson Rudd.

About the Author
Alyson Rudd started out as a financial journalist but has been an award-winning sportswriter for 23 years, all of them with The Times, bar a two year stint at The Sunday Telegraph. She has written two non-fiction titles; Astroturf Blonde, about playing football with men and women’s teams and a biography of Matthew Harding, the Chelsea director who was killed in a helicopter crash.

She is a something of a judging panel addict and decided to write fiction after assessing the entries for the Costa First Novel Award. Her first novel, The First Time Lauren Pailing Died, was published by HQ in 2019. Her second, Eleven Lines to Somewhere, will be published in HQ in 2020.

Alyson, born in Liverpool, is a qualified football coach and referee, married with two sons and lives in Southwest London.

Follow @AllyRudd_Times on Twitter, on Amazon, on GoodreadsBuy Eleven Lines to Somewhere

About the book
Everyone is searching for love. Sometimes we just take our own route to find it.

When Ryan spots a young woman on the tube on his commute, he can’t take his eyes off her. Instantly attracted and intrigued, he’s keen to find out more about his mysterious fellow passenger.

Sylvie spends all day travelling the underground, unable to leave for reasons unbeknownst to Ryan. But Ryan hasn’t dated for nearly ten years, when he was at university and the love of his life tragically died.

For some inexplicable reason, he just can’t shake the feeling he wants to help Sylvie. In a world of missed opportunities and what-ifs, a connection has been made.

I wondered at times whether Rudd had specifically given this read a slightly disjointed feel. Sometimes the reader feels a little lost, other times the destination is known, and now and again the feeling of going steadfastly in the wrong direction grips you. That's what it's like on the tube sometimes. You can see it in commuters faces.

Sometimes there's a face or two that stand out. You wonder and then you go on with your own life. That's what the majority of this story feels like. Again, was it intentional, parallels drawn between the underground warrens in London and the threads in our lives. The entanglements, the choices, the crossroads we come to in life.

Ryan and what eventually becomes his quest or obsession, depending how you perceive his fascination with a stranger on the tube, is filled with emotions he doesn't want to face. Becoming distracted is an avoidance technique. Not having to face what he really feels.

It's a contemporary read with a literary fiction vibe. One that could do with being a little more concise at times, but the confusion adds to the storyline, especially when it comes to Sylvie and her story. It's very much a story of lives intersecting, connections being made, albeit often fleeting ones. It's also a story of loss, grief and ultimately one of love.

Buy Eleven Lines to Somewhere at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 23 July 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Love Virus by Eleni Cay

It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for The Love Virus by Eleni Cay. For bonus features go to it contains links to poems, videos and music that accompany her debut novel “The Love Virus”.

The e-book can be downloaded for free from all major retailers.  If you can afford to donate, please consider donating to Overcoming MS , or a charity of your choice. 

About the Author
Eleni Cay is a Slovakian-born poet living in Norway. Her award-winning first collection was published by Parthian Books and her second poetry collection ‘Love Algorithm’ is forthcoming by Eyewear Press. Eleni’s debut novel ‘The Love Virus’ was published in spring 2020.
When Katie finds out that her increasingly unresponsive legs and extreme fatigue is due to Multiple Sclerosis, she rides an emotional rollercoaster – anger, denial and fear – when faced with a wheelchair-bound existence. She puts her studies at Oxford on hold, and she splits up from her fiancĂ©, Mark, even though she still loves him.

While undergoing treatment, Katie is diagnosed with MS2 – a virus that paralyses the mind. In hospital, Katie has to cope with her irritating bedfellows who argue constantly, and where she is treated by Dr Andrews, a handsome psychologist. The closer she gets to him however, the worse her pain becomes. Compounding Katie’s struggle is Mark, who returns to her bedside day after day. Once Katie begins Dr Andrews’ new experimental MS2 treatment, Mark can’t recognise her anymore. He begins to wonder if Katie will ever be cured.

Although this kind of sails under the YA genre category I think this is a read that readers both young and old will be able to relate to. The subject matter doesn't change much in relation to age.

It's a powerful piece of writing. Provocative, excruciatingly detailed when it comes to moments full of embarrassment. Moments everyone else takes for granted. How Katie is betrayed by her body, which culminates in fear, rejection, and a feeling of having no control. Feeling full of doubt, because loved ones act out of pity. 'I felt more loved by her when I was miserable and in pain' - little shots like that between the mundane moments are what make this an emotionally charged response. Sway, sway - wham upside the head. Softly, softly - screams of pain.

I don't think the blurb does the content enough justice. It's far from just a story about a young woman who becomes a prisoner to a disease. It's far more than that. I wonder what a theatrical stage interpretation of this piece would look like.

This is an interesting one. It's a story written entirely in lyrical prose. It might not be everyone's cup of tea when it comes to style. You tend to get readers who want a story or want to read poetry.
I have to say I liked it, perhaps because it has a Shakespearean sonnet vibe, but more because Cay brings a compelling narrative to the table.

It's honest and doesn't pull any punches, especially when it comes to pain, pain management and having a sexual relationship with the physical and psychological limitations of an autoimmune disease. It's a speculative exploration of voice and words.

Saturday 25 July 2020

#BlogBlitz #Audiobook Wombat and Jones - The Great Banana Mystery by Arran Francis

Today it's my turn on the BlogBlitz for the Audiobook Wombat and Jones - The Great Banana Mystery by Arran Francis.
About the Author 
Arran Francis is the creator of multiple series for BBC's CBeebies Radio and has worked as an audiobook producer on behalf of MacMillan Audio, Audible and Harper Collins. He launched Wombat and Jones Audio in 2019 with the aim of writing children’s novels to be released exclusively in audiobook format.

The audiobooks for the Daisy May’s Daydream Parade and Wombat & Jones series were released last summer with further books in the series and standalone titles being scheduled for publication in 2020.

Follow @wombatandjones on Twitteron Goodreads, on Facebook, on Instagram, Buy Wombat and Jones - The Great Banana Mystery

About the book
Wombat and Jones are excited to attend the famous Boris Beaker's banana bread baking class and like many other friends in town they can't wait to get to work on making scrumptious banana bread. However, there’s just one problem — before class gets underway, Boris discovers that all of the bananas have gone missing!

Boris Beaker and his disappointed students know there is no chance they can make banana bread without this key ingredient, but Wombat isn’t willing to give up that easily. Putting her investigative skills to the test, she gets help from her trusty sidekick — Furlock Jones — and together they attempt to solve The Great Banana Mystery.

Written by author Arran Francis, creator of multiple series for BBC's CBeebies Radio, Wombat & Jones: The Great Banana Mystery is a funny tale about friendship, problem-solving, and teamwork. Simple mistakes and jumping to conclusions can happen after all, but Wombat & Jones try their best to put it right and learn from them. 

The famous sleuth Wombat and his sidekick Furlock are on the case when all the bananas go missing. bananas that are desperately needed for the baking class run by Boris Beaker. No bananas means no banana bread! It's a difficult job looking for elusive yellow fruit, but someone has to do it.

I have said this before and I can't say it enough - audiobooks really are a forgotten art of storytelling. They make me think of the way tales, folklore and legends were passed on throughout history. Audiobooks give listeners the opportunity to experience stories without having to read and it also conjures up a whole new world of imagination.

Experiencing sounds, noises, different voices without the all encompassing visual aids stories usually come with, is something I highly recommend for children. Learning to take a moment and enjoy is something I think society has lost in general.

It's a shame that the children who listen to this audiobook won't really be able to appreciate the tongue-in-cheek humour when it comes to the character names. Wombat and Furlock Jones, Boris Beaker - I love it. Although I have to say Wombat is clearly the one in charge when it comes to the investigations or mystery, despite him being the Watson to the Sherlock - Furlock. And Boris Beaker just happens to be a duck with a German accent. Luckily the narration absolutely matches the humour the author has infused this story with.

#BlogTour Blackwatertown by Paul Waters

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Blackwatertown by Paul Waters.
About the Author
Paul Waters is an award-winning BBC producer and co-presenter of the We’d Like A Word books and authors podcast, shortlisted for 2020 Books Podcast of the Year. Paul grew up in Belfast during ‘the Troubles’ and went on to report and produce for BBC TV and radio.

His claim to fame is making PelĂ© his dinner. Paul has covered US politics, created a G8 Summit in a South African township, gone undercover in Zimbabwe, conducted football crowds, reported from Swiss drug shooting-up rooms, smuggled a satellite dish into Cuba and produced the World Service’s
first live coverage of the 9/11 attacks on America.

He also taught in Poland, drove a cab in England, busked in Wales, was a night club cook in New York, designed computer systems in Dublin, presented podcasts for Germans and organised music festivals for beer drinkers. He lives in Buckinghamshire and has two children.

Follow @PaulWaters99 on Twitteron Goodreadson Amazon, Visit paulwatersauthor.comBuy Blackwatertown

About the book
When maverick police sergeant Jolly Macken is banished to a sleepy 1950s Irish border village, he vows to find the killer of his brother – even if the murderer is in the police. But a lot can happen in a week. Over seven days Macken falls in love, uncovers dark family secrets, accidentally starts a war, and is hailed a hero and branded a traitor. When Blackwatertown explodes into violence, who can he trust? And is betrayal the only way to survive?

The story begins with the way life is in general for Macken. Never quite on the right side of any situation and always just slightly short of a complete disaster. Banished to a backwater town he struggles to set a single foot right.

Macken tries to overcome the attitude of the majority, the mob-like nature of a code of silence. Familiarity breeds contempt, especially when everyone thinks you're the enemy. Not exactly an easy place to be in when you are trying to solve a case, and even more so when everyone thinks you're a traitor. Poor Macken just can't seem to catch a break.

What is Blackwatertown - a scathing commentary, a comedy of circumstance, a mystery or political minefield in the midst of a rural quagmire of religious undertones. As a reader it was sometimes a toss-up between smirking, feeling sorry for the character or anger at the entire situation.

I think prior knowledge, political and historical context are absolutely everything when it comes to this read. Without that the story can be perceived as a satirical commentary with plenty of comedic moments. It's easy to overlook the more serious undertone that flows throughout the piece, but to be honest it's what the world tends to do when it comes to Northern Ireland and the volatile, and divisive, history that comes with it.

Waters plays upon the above a wee bit, so depending on where you stand and interpret the story this will be a different reading experience. Blissfully unaware or acutely aware. Aware of the toxicity and hatred that flows like a mighty river underneath the people. Either way it's a good yarn.

Buy Blackwatertown at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound Digital; pub date 23 July 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Friday 24 July 2020

#BlogTour A Good Match for the Major by Josie Bonham

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour A Good Match for the Major by Josie Bonham.
About the Author
Josie lives in the English midlands, surrounded by towns full of history such as Evesham, Stratford-Upon- Avon, Warwick and Worcester. Which is perhaps why her favourite reads are historical. Out of all the periods to choose from the Regency Era stirs her imagination the most. The true Regency lasted from 1811 until 1820 but dates as wide as 1789 to 1837 have been included in the extended Regency period. For Josie the true flavour of this period emerges after the iniquitous hair powder tax of 1795, unsurprisingly, scuppered the fashion for hair powder almost overnight.

Josie has always dabbled in stories but it took the combined efforts of her sister and eldest niece to set her on the path to writing novels. Her Regency romances, with a dash of adventure and intrigue, are the result.

About the book
Pride meets prejudice – can love blossom?
Beautiful young widow, Lady Eliza Wyndham, is determined never to remarry after a disastrous first marriage. The undeniable attraction that fizzes between her and Major Nathaniel Overton terrifies her. She rejects his advances.

With his pride badly dented, Nat vows to forget Eliza until he finds her in danger from an old adversary of his army days. His protective instincts are stirred and he steps back into her life, but will Eliza be prepared to accept his help.

When Nat and Eliza crash into each other neither of them expects to find someone who can help to heal wounds and give each other what they want the most. Instead it's a case of Eliza being irritated and strangely aroused in equal measures and for Nat it's being attracted to the most annoying young woman.

But there is no such thing as plain sailing in the world of love, especially not when that world is structured by strict societal rules that prohibit a blossoming relationship. A relationship Eliza is reluctant to entertain. Personally I wouldn't spend that much time trying to convince someone who is so opposed to being loved by me. Nat gets a rough deal.

It's a sweet and tender story of love and helping Eliza to trust in her own emotions and in a man again. Nat gives her time, space and understanding. There is plenty of tension and build-up, a sensual game of lovers to be.

Bonham gives her readers a regency read that reminded me of the bodice rippers of the 80s, but with more of a gentle touch when it comes to the culmination of desires. It's an age old tale of love, apparent opposites who find each other irresistible and have no intention of admitting it to each other.

I think it's a perfect read for readers who love romance and even more when it falls under the category of Regency Romance.

#BlogTour Tapestry by Beth Duke

It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Tapestry by Beth Duke.
About the Author
Beth Duke is the nationally bestselling author of It All Comes Back to You, Delaney's People, Don't Shoot Your Mule, and Tapestry. She lives in the mountains of her native Alabama with her husband, Jay. Her favourite things are writing, reading, traveling with her family, and join in book clubs for discussion.

About the book
Twenty-one-year-old Skye Willis lives in Eufaula, Alabama, a tourist mecca of stately homes and world-class bass fishing. Her childhood friends are either stuck at dead ends or have moved on to accomplish Big Things.

Skye’s grandmother, Verna, insists on being called “Sparrow” because she suspects her ancestors were Muscogee Creek. She dresses in faux deerskin and experiments with ancient Native American recipes, offering a myth or legend to anyone who will listen.

Skye has no idea what to do with her life. She’s smart as hell, but she has no faith or knowledge there’s something out there she was “born to do.” Nor does she know much of anything about her father, who died in Afghanistan when she was a toddler. He and his family are a mystery her mother won’t discuss. But when Sparrow sets out to confirm her Creek ancestry through genetic testing, Skye joins in.

The results hit like a DNA bomb, launching them both on a path filled with surprises and life-changing events. Skye learns a harder truth than she ever expected. 

For me this story is about identity, both from a genetic and a non-biological perspective, but perhaps more importantly from a cultural and historical one too.

From Skye trying to discover something about herself by finding the family she doesn't know. Also by acknowledging the identity Sparrow carries like a blanket of comfort and support around her shoulders. Where one path leads to confirmation and a sense of calm, the other leads to confusion and at first a lack of connection.

Skye follows a path that leads her to a story of pain, and yet also one of strength and fierce determination. Duke gives this tale a note of frivolous joy, which often exists between those who care and love each other unconditionally.

I think it was important, especially given the sensitive historical nature of the topics, for the research to lead back to culturally appropriate sources. I wasn't aware of the place known as AfricaTown - Plateau, but had heard of The Clotilda or Clotilde. I think it's just another reminder that certain elements of history are whitewashed and are written by those who control the narrative. It deserves a larger place in history that's for certain.

I loved the way everything fit so well with this book. The title, the cover - the plot that depicts the way lives are threads drawn out from a central point and woven together with a variety of colours thereby creating a beautifully diverse tapestry. The picture of life, and in a way the picture of our DNA.

It's an intricate tapestry of the past, the present, and of family.

Buy Tapestry at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published in paperback, digital and audio formats by The Art of Dixie on 8th February 2020. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Book Depository. Buy at Barnes and Noble.

Thursday 23 July 2020

#BlogTour The Greenbecker Gambit by Ben Graff

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Greenbecker Gambit by Ben Graff.
About the Author
Ben Graff is a writer, journalist and Corporate Affairs professional. He is a regular contributor to Chess and Authors Publish. He is not a grandmaster but did draw with one once.

About the book
‘I only feel truly alive when the chess clock is ticking and the patterns on the squares in front of me are dancing in my head. Very little else gives me the same feeling. Nothing else, that does not involve a flame.’

Tennessee Greenbecker is bravely optimistic as he sets out to claim what he sees as rightfully his – the title of world chess champion. But who is he really? Is he destined to be remembered as chess champion or fire-starter? Either way, might this finally be his moment?

Given the very public meltdown of a very rich celebrity at the moment and the way people are divided about the interpretation of his words and actions - I find this an interesting parallel. Is it the ramblings of a man suffering from mental health issues or is it just a man and his particular view of the world and the place he holds in it. A view that is considered bizarre and unacceptable because it doesn't align with the norm.

Are our own views not guided and driven by society, those who raise us and govern us. What happens to rebels, misfits and rejects? Are they not wrapped up and labeled with a sign saying crazy for all to see and sneer at?

With that in mind Tennessee deserves a more detailed assessment and not just a brush off, which his brother does in such a monumentally worldly way. You don't live your life the way I expect, ergo end result disappointment and judgement.

What or who is Tennessee Greenbecker? The unacknowledged chess champion or a pyromaniac, perhaps a combination of both - the chess player with a penchant for starting fires.

I like the way Graff thinks and writes. For me this is a venture into literary fiction, but without the pomposity of the attempt to be said genre. The narration by Tennessee is nothing short of highly entertaining - I choose not to see it as internal dialogue of a deluded man, but rather the words of a man consumed by his own world. Not the lonely, often dangerous and erratic man. The genius, the expert, the misunderstood - may his name be remembered throughout history.

Buy The Greenbecker Gambit at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: The Conrad Press; pub date 16 April 2020. Buy at Chess and Bridge Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Precious You by Helen Monks-Takhar

It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Precious You by Helen Monks-Takhar.

About the Author
Helen's debut novel Precious You will be published in the UK by HarperCollins imprint HQ on June 11th 2020 and in the US by Penguin Random House on March 10th.

She is currently working on her second novel, as well as various TV projects, including the adaptation of Precious You with eOne and Mam Tor Productions. Helen is joint MD of production company Second Generation with her husband, screenwriter and executive producer, Danny Takhar.

Follow @HelenMTakhar on Twitteron Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit Buy Precious You

About the book
Trusting you was my first mistake.

To Katherine, twenty-four-year-old Lily Lunt is a typical "snowflake." Soft, entitled, unflaggingly earnest, the privileged, politically correct millennial will do whatever she can to make it big as a writer, including leveraging her family's connections. She's got it easy. To Lily, Katherine Ross, a career woman in her early forties, is a holdover from another era: clueless, old-fashioned, and perfectly happy to build her success on the backs of her unpaid interns.

When Lily is hired as the new intern at Leadership magazine, where Katherine is editor in chief, her arrival threatens the very foundations of the self-serving little world that Katherine has built. But before long, she finds herself obsessively drawn to Lily, who seems to be a cruel reminder of the beauty and potential Katherine once had, things she senses Lily plans to use against her. Is Katherine simply paranoid, jealous of Lily's youth as she struggles with encroaching middle age? Is Lily just trying to get ahead in the cutthroat world of publishing? Or is there a more sinister motivation at play, fueled by the dark secrets they're both hiding? As their rivalry deepens, a disturbing picture emerges of two women pitted against each other across a toxic generational divide--and who are desperate enough to do anything to come out on top.

This is a fascinating social commentary on the large divide between young and old, which is perhaps not so unusual, but certain generations of the last century have created a division that is much larger than usual. There is a certain disdain between the generation Katherine belongs to and the one Lily is a part of. Millennials have a reputation for having it so easy that they expect everything to be handed to them on a platter and are often described as 'snowflakes' for being offended by everything.
Personally I despise the use of that particular word - it's just a catchphrase devised by those inclined to the right to discredit anyone critical of their hateful rhetoric.

You'd think that the premise is a simple matter of young privileged, manipulative Lily does her best to sabotage the older and unwanted Katherine. Lily wants what Katherine has. Simple story of the old being replaced by the young.

This story is so much more, because it gives a more honest picture of both sides, especially when it comes to Katherine. Is she really as innocent as she pretends to be and is her way the right way just because it was always done the way she says it has to be done? Maybe Lily has a point or is Lily a creepy sociopath? Depends on perception and possibly also your own age and experiences, which is what makes it such an intriguing read.

The author makes some interesting points in the acknowledgements, something I often mention in my reviews. How women are often pitted against other women, and instead of the sisterhood supporting each other, they become their own worst enemies. Shaming each other, judging, being critical, laying guilt trips on each other - all so much worse when it's woman against woman.

It's a gripping psychological thriller immersed in the wars women wage against themselves and other women.

Buy Precious You at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 23 July 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley.

About the Author
Amelia Henley is a hopeless romantic who has a penchant for exploring the intricacies of relationships through writing heart-breaking, high-concept love stories.

Amelia also writes psychological thrillers under her real name, Louise Jensen. As Louise Jensen she has sold over a million copies of her global number one bestsellers. Her stories have been translated into twenty-five languages and optioned for TV as well as featuring on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestsellers list. Louise's books have been nominated for multiple awards.

'The Life We Almost Had' is the first story she's written as Amelia Henley and she can't wait to share it with readers.

Follow @MsAmeliaHenley on Twitteron Goodreads, on AmazonBuy The Life We Almost Had

About the book
This is not a typical love story, but it’s our love story.

Anna wasn’t looking for love when Adam swept her off her feet but there was no denying their connection, and she believed they would be together forever.

Years later, cracks have appeared in their relationship. Anna is questioning whether their love can really be eternal when a cruel twist of fate delivers a crushing blow, and Anna and Adam are completely lost to one another. Now, Anna needs Adam more than ever, but the way back to him has life-changing consequences.

Is a second chance at first love really worth the sacrifice? Anna needs to decide and time is running out…
It's fair to say that Anna is in a complete funk when she goes on holiday. Dumped and feeling unwanted - a pity party is the way to go. What she doesn't expect is to meet the love of her life quite unexpectedly.

Adam and Anna are a match made in heaven until Anna and her 'plans' start to destroy their solid foundation. Her obsession comes between them, but it's something else entirely that leaves their relationship in tatters.

There's a part of the book about halfway through. I can't go into details because of spoilers, which is a shame because it is an incredibly interesting idea. Personally I felt as if Anna was absolutely crossing boundaries and it was all about her, however the world it explores is futuristic and opens plenty of doors.

Henley gives readers the perfection the majority hopes for when it comes to relationships and romance, whilst simultaneously giving us the more realistic aspect of the same. Love is never perfect. Lives are never lived the way we quite expect.

It's a story that has a magical and inexplicable element to it and it's also one of hope. A tale of loss, being able to forgive oneself and understanding that sometimes life can be fulfilling even when it doesn't turn out the way you planned it. Enjoy the moments you have instead of longing for what could have been.

Buy The Life We Almost Had at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 23 July 2020. Buy at Waterstones.

Read my review of The Family by Louise Jensen (Amelia Henley).

Wednesday 22 July 2020

#BlogTour The Storm by Amanda Jennings

It's my turn on the BlogTour The Storm by Amanda Jennings.

About the Author
Amanda Jennings lives in Oxfordshire with her husband, three daughters, and a menagerie of animals. She studied History of Art at Cambridge and before writing her first book, was a researcher at the BBC.

With a deep fascination on the far-reaching effects of trauma, her books focus on the different ways people find to cope with loss, as well as the moral struggles her protagonists face. Her favourite place to be is up a mountain or beside the Cornish sea.

Follow @MandaJJennings  @HQStories, on Amazon, on Goodreads, Visit  Buy The Storm

About the book
To the outside world Hannah married the perfect man. Behind the closed doors of their imposing home it’s a very different story. Nathan controls everything Hannah does. He chooses her clothes, checks her receipts, and keeps her passport locked away. But why does she let him? Years before, in the midst of a relentless storm, the tragic events of one night changed everything. And Hannah has been living with the consequences ever since. Keeping Nathan happy. Doing as she’s told. - But the past is about to catch up with them.

The thing about coercive control is that it's like an invisible sickness you can't see. It destroys cells whilst you remain blissfully unaware of the slow destruction. It drags you down and weighs heavily on your psyche until suddenly you become aware that something isn't quite right.

Somewhere along the way freedom, choice and your entire self got lost or rather was taken by someone intent on destroying you - all in the name of love and control. Slowly chipping away at your confidence, your self-worth, your appearance, your intelligence until every part of you believes their way is the norm. Rocking the boat becomes a trip into the unknown.

Hannah has a perfect marriage on the surface. A caring husband and a loving son. Nobody sees the way Nathan controls what she wears, cooks, buys and in a way what she says and does. No rocking the boat, right?

It's a dark domestic thriller. A story of obsession, control and love, but not the kind of love that comforts, supports and cares. It's the kind of love that strips away and destroys your soul.

Jennings takes us from the present into past, which gives the readers an interesting before and after picture of Hannah. The carefree happy girl becomes the insecure, submissive woman. It's a slow process that isn't really evident unless you are paying close attention.

This is a crime read that draws from the reality of an insidious kind of abuse. Abuse we have only just gotten legislation for and has remained unpunished for far too long. It's a tale that isn't clear cut, but that in turn keeps the reader turning the pages.

Buy The Storm at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 23 July 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of The Cliff House by Amanda Jennings.

#BlogTour Lost Souls by Jonathan & Jesse Kellerman

Today it's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Lost Souls ( also known as Half Moon Bay) by Jonathan Kellerman.

Century will be publishing the new book from international publishing sensations, father and son duo, Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman. Lost Souls is a gripping new thriller featuring deputy coroner Clay Edison, who becomes involved in reopening a fifty-year-old cold case in the beautiful and atmospheric Half Moon Bay area of California. 

About the Author
Jonathan Kellerman was born in New York City in 1949 and grew up in Los Angeles. He helped work his way through UCLA as an editorial cartoonist, columnist, editor and freelance musician.

In 1985, Jonathan's first novel, When the Bough Breaks, was published to enormous critical and commercial success and became a New York Times bestseller. Bough was also produced as a TV movie and won the Edgar Allan Poe and Anthony Boucher Awards for Best First Novel. 
A detective under pressure - Deputy Coroner Clay Edison is juggling a new baby who won’t sleep with working the graveyard shift. For once he’s trying to keep things simple.

A haunting discovery - When infant remains are found by developers demolishing a local park, a devastating cold case is brought back to light.

A desperate search for answers - Clay has barely begun to investigate when he receives a call from a man who thinks the remains could belong to his sister – who went missing fifty years ago. Now Clay is locked in a relentless search that will unearth a web of violence, secrets and betrayal. - Because in this town, the past isn’t dead. It’s very much alive. And it can kill.

There are so many good crime reads flooding the markets it's hard to find one that delivers a great read and simultaneously doesn't leave a reader with that feeling it could have been just a tad better. When I do stumble upon one that manages to grip me from start to finish, and I have no qualms about recommending it - it leaves me with this feeling of having a sated reading experience. A bit like after having a piece of perfectly moist cake covered in sugary frosting. All the right ingredients can become a moment of perfect bliss - if mixed correctly.

Clay is called to a scene where the bones of an infant have been found. As his job begins a desperate and frustrated man contacts him because he thinks the bones belong to his sister. The mystery of the bones draws Clay into a dangerous world of white supremacy, the rebellious essence of the 70s and the sense that some lives fall through the cracks too easily.

Kellerman (both obviously) combines mystery, crime and the parallels between Clay and the people he interacts with, both victims and criminals. The unsung parents who are confronted with the reality of an infant that doesn't know the books have said it should do xyz at a certain time. Books and experts who, much like the NHS and other medical welfare institutions insist on giving advice to new mothers and fathers - advice that changes as often as the wind changes direction. Advice that doesn't cover every child or situation. Books written by experts that appear to be gurus in one era but are recognised as the mother-shamers, puppets of the patriarchal system and often nothing more than brand names with theoretical expertise.

It's a gripping character-driven crime read, an absolute page turner - a cracking read.

Buy Lost Souls at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Cornerstone Digital; pub date 23 July 2020. Buy at Amazon com. Lost Souls is published by Century in £12.99 hardback on 23rd July 2020. Buy at Waterstones.

Monday 20 July 2020

#BlogTour Hinton Hollow Death Trap by Will Carver

Today it's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Hinton Hollow Death Trap by Will Carver.
About the Author
Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.

About the book
It’s a small story. A small town with small lives that you would never have heard about if none of this had happened. Hinton Hollow. Population 5,120.

Little Henry Wallace was eight years old and one hundred miles from home before anyone talked to him. His mother placed him on a train with a label around his neck, asking for him to be kept safe for a week, kept away from Hinton Hollow. Because something was coming.

Narrated by Evil itself, Hinton Hollow Death Trip recounts five days in the history of this small rural town, when darkness paid a visit and infected its residents. A visit that made them act in unnatural ways. Prodding at their insecurities. Nudging at their secrets and desires. Coaxing out the malevolence suppressed within them. Showing their true selves.

Making them cheat. Making them steal. Making them kill.

Detective Sergeant Pace had returned to his childhood home. To escape the things he had done in the city. To go back to something simple. But he was not alone. Evil had a plan.

Do you just need a nudge? Are a massage (Carver's word) away from letting evil sit on your shoulder and whisper soothing words into your ear?

I kinda love it when evil or death pop out of the shadows to narrate a story. It gives the whole premise a different kind of depth and dimension. Evil is kinda like the truth-speaker. The wise old man who tells you tales and in this case he is there to lead DS Pace on a merry chase or is he following him around. Then again perhaps it has been Pace in charge all along.

What's interesting about this idea of evil walking into or submersing an entire town for a few days and causing chaos, pain, torture and all manners of deeds that wouldn't otherwise have been perpetrated, is the ring of truth. We all know of places that appear to be suddenly be overrun with erratic behaviour and tragedy. Is it possible that evil in the guise of temporary insanity or a tragic turn of events is actually at fault? Does evil leave a signature we haven't learnt to decipher yet?

Does it wander in and seep into the soil, contaminate people and places. Manipulate what is already there - to give a little shove to someone who is teetering on the precipice of darkness and evil.
It's noir, it's a breath of fresh air, it's the internal dialogue that follows you around daily and it's the kind of read you want to disavow because it's the truth.

I'll end this review on a note, you'll have to read the book to understand what it means and kudos to the author for making that point - I don't stand by. I never have and never will. I have acted.

Buy Hinton Hollow Death Trap at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Oenda Books 12 Jun. 2020. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at

Read my reviews of Good Samaritans and Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver.