MY VERDICT? Charming, funny and unashamedly escapist fiction. This really made me laugh! There were so many great lines and hilarious, relatable episodes in this book. Fran Cooper is an engaging, if slightly infuriating, heroine. For an intelligent and capable woman, she has a mile wide blindspot as far as her awful, controlling boyfriend, Stew, is concerned, and I’m sure some readers will take issue with that. But even though she came across as a bit of a naive doormat, I read her as a woman stuck in a rut she doesn’t know how to climb out of…until true romance arrives. I really enjoyed this and highly recommend it to anyone who would like to escape to the glam and glitzy Crystal Ball for a few hours. Thanks to the author and Random Things for the chance to take part in the blog tour.
THE BLURB: Within days of wishing she could change her life, Fran Cooper is acting assistant to a celebrity, on a yacht in the Mediterranean, and en route to a tiny Italian island and the glittering Crystal Ball, along with the world’s rich and famous.
When she – quite literally – bumps into a handsome American called Evan, a man able to keep his cool in the face of chaos, the magic really begins. Evan makes her a promise: no last names, no life stories, just one unforgettable night. Yet Evan belongs at the Crystal Ball and Fran is a gatecrasher. They may be soulmates, but their homes are an ocean apart, and their lives a world apart. They’ll never meet again – unless, on a night like this, everything can change forever…
MY VERDICT? A heart-warming and hugely engaging character driven story that doesn’t shy away from exploring some deeper issues. Veronica McCreedy is an instantly compelling character and the supporting cast – Patrick, Terry, Daisy to name a few – are equally brilliantly drawn. What made this book stand out for me was the underpinning environmental message – clear and heartfelt, but at no point heavy -handed. It’s a beautiful, clever book that works on so many levels. I highly recommend it. Thanks to the author and Random Things for the chance to take part in the blog tour.
THE BLURB: Meet the heroine everyone’s talking about . . .
Fiercely resilient and impeccably dressed, Veronica McCreedy has lived an incredible 87 years. Most of them alone, in her huge house by the sea. But Veronica has recently discovered a late-life love for family and friendship, adventure and wildlife. More specifically, a love for penguins! And so when she’s invited to co-present a wildlife documentary, far away in the southern hemisphere, she jumps at the chance. Even though it will put her in the spotlight, just when she thought she would soon fade into the wings. Perhaps it’s never too late to shine?
MY VERDICT? Ever since I was a Point Horror obsessed teen, I’ve loved reading fiction that deals with the darker side of human nature. And if it comes with a supernatural twist, then I absolutely want to read it. The stories in the ‘Beyond the Veil’ collection satisfy on both counts and have a bang up-to-date feel, with references to the pandemic, killer viruses and anti -vaxxers. The near future world of Beechfield Miracles may have roots in ancient stories, but is juxtaposed with a post -Brexit nightmare world that feels uncomfortably close to the bone. Polaroid and Seaweed is the most revoltingly gothic, with some truly uncomfortable scenes that induce a sense of revulsion. Clockwork had an Angela Carter feel that I loved. The God Bag ends with a twist that seems inevitable, but is no less horrifying as it explores bad parenthood, a theme considered in several of the stories. Standouts for me were The Dark Bit, a grotesque psychological study of self harm and collective hysteria, and A Mystery for Julie Chu. The latter has a Black Mirror -esque feel with secret auctions, haunted objects and a lead with a gift. I’d love to read more of her adventures! Thanks to Flame Tree Press, the anthology authors and Random Things for the chance to take part in the blog tour.
THE BLURB: SOME TRUTHS CAN’T BE TOLD.
Beyond the Veil is the second volume in an annual, non-themed horror series of entirely original stories, showcasing the very best short fiction that the genre has to offer, and edited by Mark Morris. This new anthology contains 20 original horror stories, 16 of which have been commissioned from some of the top names in the genre, and 4 of which have been selected from the 100s of stories sent to Flame Tree during a 2-week open submissions window.