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? I loved this! I don’t read much (hardly any) romance fiction, but this completely engaging story drew me in and kept me turning the pages. Leon and Tiffy are such different characters with such distinct voices. The writing is so vivid it was easy to imagine them and the cast of side-kicks, evil employers and assorted characters. Despite the humour, this definitely isn’t a frothy read and in Tiffy’s toxic relationship with Justin, the writer presents a tricky topic very sensitively.
THE BLURB: Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.
But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…
https://uk.bookshop.org/books/the-flatshare/9781787474413Buy from ukbookshop:
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.
MY VERDICT? Whoa! I genuinely could not put this down. I love dual narrative stories, especially with distinctive voices, and Ben and Phoebe’s pitch – perfect perspectives added to the twistiness of this complex plot. I also love domestic noir, so this hit the spot for me on every count. Highly recommended.
THE BLURB: SOME TRUTHS CAN’T BE TOLD.
I had the perfect life – a nice house, a loving husband, a beautiful little boy.
But in one devastating night, they were all ripped from me.
It’s been fourteen years, and I’m finally ready to face the past.
I’m taking my son back.
He just can’t know who I am…or why we were torn apart.
A nail-biting thriller packed with twists and turns, perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell and Shalini Boland.
MY VERDICT? I have a real love for books with a supernatural twist. Combine that with a quirky heroine and a cracking plot, and I’m in book heaven. ‘Sleep Tight’ ticks every five star box. Can’t wait for DC Rose Gifford’s next case.
THE BLURB:Even in your dreams you’re not safe…
The nightmare is only just beginning…
When DC Rose Gifford is called to investigate the death of a young woman suffocated in her bed, she can’t shake the feeling that there’s more to the crime than meets the eye.
It looks like a straightforward crime scene – but the police can’t find the killer. Enter DS Moony – an eccentric older detective who runs UCIT, a secret department of the Met set up to solve supernatural crimes. Moony wants Rose to help her out – but Rose doesn’t believe in any of that.
As the killer prepares to strike again, Rose must pick a side – before a second woman dies.
Buy from ukbookshop: https://uk.bookshop.org/books/sleep-tight-a-dc-rose-gifford-thriller/9780008390761
MY VERDICT? I loved this! Books with two time lines always hit the spot for me, and this was no exception. The depiction of loneliness seems especially poignant after the lockdowns. This book certainly had all the feels.
THE BLURB: In phone calls to his daughter in Australia, widower Hubert Bird paints a picture of the perfect retirement, packed with fun and friendship. But Hubert Bird is lying. Something has made him turn his back on people, and he hardly sees a soul. So when his daughter announces she’s coming to visit, Hubert faces a race against time: to make his real life resemble his fake life before he’s found out.
Along the way Hubert renews a cherished friendship, is given a second chance at love and even joins an audacious community scheme. But with the secret of his earlier isolation lurking in the shadows, is he destines to always be one of the lonely people?
MY VERDICT? I wasn’t disappointed by this creepy atmospheric story and the twists and turns of the plot kept me racing through the pages. I hadn’ t realised it was part of a series, but it made sense as a standalone and now I’m going to read the rest. I love discovering a new favourite author.
THE BLURB: It was meant to be a quiet family fishing trip, a chance for mother and daughter to talk. But it changes the course of their lives forever.
They catch nothing except a broken doll that gets tangled in the net. After years in the ocean, the doll a terrifying sight and the mother’s first instinct is to throw it back, but she relents when her daughter pleads to keep it. This simple act of kindness proves fatal. That evening, the mother posts a picture of the doll on social media. By the morning, she is dead and the doll has disappeared.
Several years later and Detective Huldar is in his least favourite place – on a boat in rough waters, searching for possible human remains. However, identifying the skeleton they find on the seabed proves harder than initially thought, and Huldar must draw on psychologist Freyja’s experience to help him. As the mystery of the unidentified body deepens, Huldar is also drawn into an investigation of a homeless drug addict’s murder, and Freyja investigates a suspected case of child abuse at a foster care home.
What swiftly becomes clear is that the cases are linked through a single, missing, vulnerable witness: the young girl who wanted the doll all those years ago.
MY VERDICT? I loved this creepy dystopian thriller. I could really empathise with Thea’s struggles to sleep. The premise is highly original and the promised twists and turns kept coming.
THE BLURB: Don’t close your eyes. Don’t fall asleep. Don’t let them in.
Thea is an insomniac; she hasn’t slept more than three hours a night for years.
So when an ad for a sleep trial that promises to change her life pops up on her phone, Thea knows this is her last chance at finding any kind of normal life.
Soon Thea’s sleeping for longer than she has in a decade, and awakes feeling transformed. So much so that at first she’s willing to overlook the oddities of the trial – the lack of any phone signal; the way she can’t leave her bedroom without permission; the fact that all her personal possessions are locked away, even her shoes.
But it soon becomes clear that the trial doesn’t just want to help Thea sleep. It wants to control her sleep…
Buy from Waterstones:https://www.waterstones.com/book/sleepless/louise-mumford/9780008412241
MY VERDICT? A truly unputdownable story of ‘witchcraft’ and the treatment of two women who refuse to conform to societal norms.
THE BLURB: Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband Richard is anxious for an heir. When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn’t supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy. Then she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife. Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby, and to prove the physician wrong. As Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the North-West, Fleetwood risks everything by trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye?
Buy from Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-familiars/Stacey-halls