Friday 11 February 2022

#Review The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont

'The Christie Affair is a stunning novel which reimagines the unexplained eleven-day disappearance of Agatha Christie in 1926 that captivated the world.'

About the Author

Nina de Gramont lives with her husband and daughter in coastal North Carolina, where she teaches Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her interest in writing about Agatha Christie began in 2015 when she first learned about the famous author's eleven-day disappearance. Christie's refusal to ever speak about this episode particularly intrigued Nina, who loves the fact that someone who unravelled mysteries for a living managed to keep her own intact. The Christie Affair is her fourth novel.

Follow @NinadeGramont on Twitter, Visit

About the book

In 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days. 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 . . .


Nan is a character everyone will love to hate, but they should perhaps admire her with equal passion. She envelopes the entirety of this plot in her web and consumes everyone in her path, she is also a wonderful narrator I might add. She has set her sights on Agatha's husband, the life she lives and perhaps even more.

When Agatha, yes the Agatha Christie, disappears in the aftermath of some emotional turmoil, the entire country is searching for her. Is she missing, dead or has she been kidnapped? Has the treacherous husband got something to do with it or Nan perhaps?

What is Nan up to in the background, does she have access to information we aren't privy to? It's an excellently spun web of lies, desires, memories and ultimately one of secrets and hidden truths.

My only complaint about this book is that it is fiction. That it is a story born from the mind of a creative just based on the factual event - the eleven-day disappearance of Agatha Christie in the 1920s. Part of me wishes it actually happened, it's a great scenario and well executed.

It's also nice wee homage to the Queen of Mystery Crime, although she may not have been amused by the drama of her life becoming the scene of a mystery and a crime, however I think readers will certainly appreciate the irony.

Buy The Christie Affair at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Mantle pub date 20 Jan. 2022. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Waterstones. At Pan MacMillan.

Monday 7 February 2022

#BlogTour The Language of Food by Annabel Abbs

It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Language of Food by Annabel Abbs.
About the Author
Annabel Abbs is the rising star of biographical historical novels. She grew up in Bristol, Sussex and Wales before studying English Literature at the University of East Anglia. Her debut novel The Joyce Girl won the Impress Prize and was a Guardian Reader's Pick and her second novel Frieda: The Original Lady Chatterley was a Times 2018 Book of the Year. 

She regularly appears on national and regional media, with recent appearances on Radio 4 Woman's Hour and Sky News, and is popular on the literary festival circuit. She was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award, the Caledonia Novel Award and the Waverton GoodRead Award. Annabel lives in London with her husband and four children.

Abbs’s third novel, The Language of Food, the story of Eliza Acton, Britain’s first domestic goddess, publishes in the UK in February 2022 and is currently being translated into 14 languages.

Follow @annabelabbs on Twitter, Visit

“When I inherited a collection of antiquarian cookery books I suspected a story might be lurking in one of them. Researching and writing the story of Britain’s first domestic goddess has been a wonderful culinary adventure.” – Annabel Abbs

About the book
Eliza Acton is a poet who’s never boiled an egg. But she’s about to break the mould of traditional cookbooks. And change the course of cookery writing forever.

England 1835. Eliza Acton is a poet who dreams of seeing her words in print. But when she takes a new manuscript to a publisher, she’s told that ‘poetry is not the business of a lady.’ Instead, she’s asked to write a cookery book.

Eliza is horrified but her financial situation leaves her no choice. Although she’s never cooked before, she is determined to learn and to discover, if she can, the poetry in recipe writing. To assist her, she hires seventeen-year-old Ann Kirby, the daughter of local paupers. Over the next ten years, Eliza and Ann change the course of cookery writing forever.

Told in alternate voices by the award-winning author of The Joyce Girl, The Language of Food is the most thought-provoking and compelling historical novel you’ll read this year. Abbs explores the enduring struggle for female freedom, the complexities of friendship, the creativity and quiet joy of cooking and the poetry of food, while bringing Eliza Acton out of the archives and back into the public eye.

As soon as I read the book of cookery every household should own I was thinking to myself - no matter what this says there is nothing better than Mrs Beeton. As the story unfolds and the author melds fact with fiction, well I ended up coming away with a completely different view.

I taught myself to bake, cook and take care of my household. I was given Mrs Beeton many decades ago, because her books contain the food of folk and are written with a common sense approach. Accuracy, simplicity and instant comprehension for a novice. My father taught me how to make the best Yorkshire puddings and pancakes, based on a less is more working kitchen and indeed working class kitchen. You can make something out of anything, and it should fill the stomach, satisfy the senses and doesn't need to break the bank or win a food fashion competition.

As a young mother at the start of my twenties, I began writing down recipes that I used the most, that pleased the recipients, and it includes the evidence of labour whilst creating the perfect choc chip cookie or shortbread for instance.

The aforementioned is probably why this book resonated with me. I understand how food is its own communicator and de-stressor. My own handwritten volume of three plus decades is evidence of that. The way the author draws from the power of food as it becomes an equalizer, a communicator and in this historical setting also an opportunity for independence in a society where women are always the second class citizen - it's a riveting and visceral journey of the senses.

I loved the way Abbs approached this, the way the main characters are both examples of their class status, whilst simultaneously being bonded by their commonalities. The story becomes it's own documentation of historical events, despite the fictional aspect.

Buy The Language of Food at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Simon & Schuster UK, pub date 3 Feb. 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

Wednesday 2 February 2022

#BlogTour We Know You Remember by Tove Alsterdal

It's a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour We Know You Remember by Tove Alsterdal.

About the Author
Tove Alsterdal is one of Sweden's most renowned suspense writers. She has written five critically acclaimed stand-alone thrillers and has won literary prizes in Sweden and France.

In the autumn of 2020, her latest book We Know You Remember was named Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year and won the Glass Key Award for Best Crime Novel from all the Scandinavian countries.

About the book
Where were you the night Lina Stavred went missing? - The case was closed. - Everyone in Ådalen remembers the summer Lina Stavred went missing. At first, the investigation seemed like a dead end: there was no body, no crime scene, no murder weapon.

The records were sealed. - Then a local boy confessed to Lina's murder. The case opened a wound - one the whole community has spent over two decades trying to heal.

But we know you remember. - Now Lina's murderer has reappeared, and detective Eira Sjödin must face the spectre of his brutal crime. This is her chance to untangle the years of well-kept secrets - but the truth is something Ådalen would rather forget.

Olaf doesn't intend to enter his old family home. He knows he isn't welcome, but instinct says something is wrong. He stumbles upon a dead body and of course all fingers point straight in his direction - again.

He is an known killer. The child who killed a child. Why would anyone believe anything he says? But the truth is much more complex and darker than anyone thinks. In a cleverly constructed mystery the masks of those above suspicion start to slide off, which also means certain people become more desperate to bury the truth, which shouldn't be too hard - it's happened before.

We need more English translations of Alsterdal's work, and indeed kudos to the translator Alice Menzies. You have to be able to do more than just translate word for word, you have to be able to capture the idioms, the spirit and the atmosphere of the story. Not everyone can do the original work justice, although I am certain this is a perfect interpretation of the author's work.

Whilst this is an award winning piece of fiction, this author doesn't have the same recognition as other Scandinavian authors, but certainly deserve to be right up at the top. The characters, the surroundings, the perfect imperfections of humanity and the beautiful prose - woven together the result is a gripping crime story. Cleverly paced with false trails and clues thrown into the trees for the reader to follow like a dog running eagerly after a stick.

Buy We Know You Remember at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Faber Books; pub date 3 Feb 2022 - Hardback £12.99, eBook £8.99, audio digital download £22.99. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin

It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin.

About the Author
Anne Goodwin writes entertaining fiction about identity, mental health and social justice. She is the author of three novels and a short story collection published by small independent press, Inspired Quill. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her new novel, Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home, is inspired by her previous incarnation as a clinical psychologist in a long-stay psychiatric hospital. Subscribers to her newsletter can download a free e-book of prize-winning short stories. 

About the book
At fifteen, she made a life-changing decision. Thirty years on, it’s time to make another. - When Diana escaped her misfit childhood, she thought she’d chosen the easier path. But the past lingers on, etched beneath her skin, and life won’t be worth living if her secret gets out.

As an adult, she’s kept other people at a distance... until Simon sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, the city that transformed her life. She’ll lose Simon if she doesn’t join him. She’ll lose herself if she does.

Sugar and Snails charts Diana’s unusual journey, revealing the scars from her fight to be true to herself. A triumphant mid-life coming-of-age story about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.

I was in two minds about the way to review this book. On one hand there's an opportunity to discuss and go into detail, but on the other hand it's also the kind of read that allows for the reader to discover the story at their own pace.

This is a story about identity, perception of identity and the way the world around us tries to fit us into preconceived notions and ready made boxes. It's also about the inner struggle when the aforementioned leads to a battle of self.

The premise has unfortunately become an embittered battleground in the last few years with great division and warring sides, with little thought left to the reality of the confusion and pain of those in this duality.

I have to agree with the sentiment in the author's note, if it had been written with both parents taking centre stage, the core and heart of this premise would have been non-existent. Writing it with Di at the wheel and steering the boat was much more intimate, frank and soul baring. It's as if the reader is at the emotional core of memories, emotions and the duality of spirit and being.

It's a really excellent piece of fiction, an exploration of a journey, of a life lived with expectations, hopes, and an unfinished jigsaw of self.

Buy Sugar and Snails at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Inspired Quill, pub date 23 July 2015. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Books2read

Tuesday 1 February 2022

#BlogTour The Long Weekend by Gilly Macmillan

It's a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour The Long Weekend by Gilly Macmillan.

About the Author
Gilly Macmillan is the New York Times bestselling and Edgar-nominated author of What She Knew, The Perfect Girl, Odd Child Out, The Nanny and To Tell You the Truth. She grew up in Swindon and studied at Bristol University and The Courtauld Institute of Art in London. She has worked at the Burlington Magazine and the Hayward Gallery and has been a lecturer in photography. She now writes full-time and lives in Bristol. Follow @GillyMacmillan on Twitter, Visit

About the book
In an isolated retreat, deep in the Northumbria moors, three women arrive for a weekend getaway.
Their husbands will be joining them in the morning. Or so they think.

But when they get to Dark Fell Barn, the women find a devastating note that claims one of their husbands has been murdered. Their phones are out of range. There's no internet. They're stranded. And a storms coming in.

Friendships fracture and the situation  spins out of control as each wife tries to find out what's going on, who is responsible and which husband has been targeted. This was a tight-knit group. They've survived a lot. But they won't weather this. Because someone has decided that enough is enough.

Three couples have planned a retreat together in the middle of nowhere. No neighbours, no internet and depending on the weather it's a bit like being the last people on earth. Plans change and six become three, three women thrown together by nothing other than the fact their partners are best friends, so spending the weekend together could go both ways.

They expect awkward moments, what they don't expect is for the weekend to start of with a life or death scenario. A scenario they can do nothing about, because they are not only isolated - they are also more or less stuck. The beginning of a nightmare, with the kind of revelations that can destroy lives.

It's a well executed domestic psychological thriller, which starts off with the revelation of who is pulling the strings when it comes to this dark plot. The author gives it a cat and mouse feel, and then throws a spanner in the wheel. In fact the unknown variables add to the isolation, the darkness and fear that grows as the women in the midst of it all become more desperate.

It's a read that weaves the complicated interactions between thrown together friendship groups with the tense build-up of a psychological thriller, so the best of both genres.

Buy The Long Weekend at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Century, pub date 3rd February 2022 - Hardback and eBook £12.99. Buy at Amazon com.