Blog Tour: The Room in the Attic by Louise Douglas #BookReview

The Room in the Attic

Delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour for The Room in the Attic by Louise Douglas today. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part, and to the author and publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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A child who does not know her name…

In 1903 fishermen find a wrecked boat containing a woman, who has been badly beaten, and a young girl. An ambulance is sent for, and the two survivors are taken to All Hallows, the imposing asylum, hidden deep on Dartmoor. The woman remains in a coma, but the little girl, Harriet, awakens and is taken to an attic room, far away from the noise of the asylum, and is put in the care of Nurse Emma Everdeen.

Two motherless boys banished to boarding school…

In 1993, All Hallows is now a boarding school. Following his mother’s death and his father’s hasty remarriage, Lewis Tyler is banished to Dartmoor, stripped of his fashionable clothes, shorn of his long hair, and left feeling more alone than ever. There he meets Isak, another lost soul, and whilst refurbishment of the dormitories is taking place, the boys are marooned up in the attic, in an old wing of the school.

Cries and calls from the past that can no longer be ignored…

All Hallows is a building full of memories, whispers, cries from the past. As Lewis and Isak learn more about the fate of Harriet, and Nurse Emma’s desperate fight to keep the little girl safe, it soon becomes clear there are ghosts who are still restless.

Are they ghosts the boys hear at night in the room above, are they the unquiet souls from the asylum still caught between the walls? And can Lewis and Isak bring peace to All Hallows before the past breaks them first…

Goodness, what did I just read? From the very opening chapters of this new book by Louise Douglas, my heart was pounding, I was holding my breath, the hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end, and I was absolutely glued to the page.

I started reading this book very late one night just after I had gone to bed, which was a mistake because the book creeped me out right from the off. As soon as you crawl between the pages, you know you are reading something that is going to keep you on the edge of your nerves, so it may not be recommended for readers of a very nervous disposition. Set in an old asylum which then became a strict boarding school in the midst of the brooding expanse of Dartmoor, there could not be a creepier setting for a story. When I was young, I was addicted to the Famous Five books by Enid Blyton. The thirteenth (coincidence?) of these, Five Go To Mystery Moor, involved spooky goings on on a deserted moor and it scared the bejesus out of my as a kid, so any ghost story set on a moor is guaranteed to give me the wiggins. The author does an absolutely amazing job of bringing the very disturbing setting to vivid life, both in its incarnation as an asylum and a boarding school, a little too vividly for those with active imaginations perhaps!

The story line is divided between three timelines – modern day, 1993 when All Hallows was a boarding school, and the turn of the twentieth century when it was an asylum for those people deemed insane. The narrator in the first two timelines is Lewis Tyler, as a grown man and when he was a pupil at the school. Back in time, we are following the story of Emma Everdeen, a nurse at the asylum. The book switched between the stories with ease, never breaking the tension, and deftly entwining them to great effect. Each of the characters hooked me in, and I was truly feeling genuine fear for all of them by the end. The storytelling is so skilful that it is impossible not to become fully invested in the outcome for all involved.

The story is a clever and intriguing mix of thriller, mystery, ghost story, family drama and exploration of social issues affecting women in the early 1900s. There is something here to appeal to every type of reader, and I can’t imagine there are many people who would not enjoy it (other than those who really don’t enjoy being kept on the edge of their nerves throughout a book.) You can tell that the author did a lot of research into the historical aspects of the book, it is beautifully rich in detail, but this is only used to enhance and not detract from the story. I am honestly so impressed with the authors skill in balancing all the different aspects of this novel to deliver an engrossing, affecting and thrilling story. I think my heart has only just slowed back to its normal speed after finishing it.

I absolutely loved this book, I cannot recommend it highly enough. Perfect October reading, buy it immediately.

The Room in the Attic is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

Award-winning author Louise Douglas was a recent guest on the blog, and you can read my fascinating interview with her here.

Make sure you check out some of the other reviews posted by the other marvellous bloggers taking part in the tour:

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About the Author

Louise

Louise Douglas is the bestselling and brilliantly reviewed author of 6 novels including The Love of my Life and Missing You – a RNA award winner. The Secrets Between Us was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. She lives in the West Country. Louise’s first book for Boldwood, The House by the Sea was published in March 2020.

Connect with Louise:

Facebook: Louise Douglas Author

Twitter: @LouiseDouglas3

Instagram: @louisedouglas3

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Blog Tour: The Cosy Cottage in Ireland by Julie Caplin #BookReview

The Cosy Cottage In Ireland

Followers of the blog will know I am the hugest fan of Julie Caplin’s Romantic Escapes series, combining as they do my two great loves of romance and travel, so I could not wait to get my mitts on the latest title, The Cosy Cottage in Ireland. I was even more excited than usual as many of you will know my partner is Irish and Ireland is a place I love. So huge thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for giving me a place on the tour and to the publisher and author for my digital copy of the book, which i have reviewed honest and impartially.

The Cosy Cottage In Ireland Cover

Snuggle up in your favourite armchair and take a trip across the Irish sea for comfort food, cosy cottage nights and a heartwarming romance…

Talented lawyer Hannah Campbell is after a change in her workaholic Manchester life – so on an uncharacteristic whim she books herself a place at the world-renowned Killorgally Cookery School in Country Kerry. But on her first night in Ireland, sampling the delights of Dublin, Hannah can’t resist falling for the charms of handsome stranger Conor. It’s only when Hannah arrives at her postcard-pretty home at Killorgally for the next six weeks that she discovers what happens in Dublin doesn’t quite stay in Dublin …

Nestled amongst rolling green hills and breath-taking countryside, the cookery school throws Hannah and Conor together – for better or worse.

I’ve never thrown myself into a Julie Caplin book and not immediately been embraced by a cosy hug of a novel, and this book is no exception. In fact, I think this one might be my favourite yet (do I say this about every one of them? Probably!), although I was pre-disposed to like it because it centred around one of my favourite places in the world.

Starting off in Dublin and then heading west to Kerry, with a sojourn to the beautiful harbour town of Dingle, this novel takes you to some of the most beautiful parts of Ireland, and will make you feel absolutely like you are there. In fact, if you aren’t immediately whipping out the travel guides and planning your own trip to the Emerald Isle as soon as you’ve finished it, I will be mightily surprised.

Lawyer Hannah has pushed herself out of her comfort zone to take a cookery course at a famous school of cuisine in Ireland and, no sooner has she set foot on Irish soil, she begins to act very out of character, being bold and taking chances she never normally would. Well, travel can have that effect on us all, although my travels have never propelled me into the arms of anyone quite as scrumptious as Conor Byrne. (Again, I may be displaying some bias here, given my clear penchant for men with an Irish burr.) She comes to regret her hastiness later, but stories would be no fun if the participants behaved sensibly, now would they?

As with all of Julie’s travel novels, food plays a massive part in the story, and this one is no exception. Set in a cookery school and focusing on the connection between the ingredients, where they come from and the plate, it is a feast for all the senses, and feels topical for modern times. Foodies will revel in the descriptions of all the cooking processes, and I am sure many people will be familiar with the trials and tribulations of bread-making after the past 18 months, especially the travails of battling a sourdough starter. (If you follow Julie, you will know this is something she has been tackling herself, this is an author who believes in hands on research!)

The romance in this book is natural and spontaneous and passionate and seem to develop so believably on the page that I could not have accepted the two main characters not ending up together. The trials they face along the way were very understandable, they were not at all contrived and you could easily see how their misunderstandings could arise. They seemed to fit together like two puzzle pieces, and the chemistry between them flew off the page. Since the relationship is the heart of any novel calling itself romance, I can assure you that lovers of the genre will not be disappointed by this one.

My favourite part of the book was when Hannah takes a trip to Dingle and has an encounter with one of its famous residents. Dingle is my favourite place in Ireland, it is unique and beautiful and friendly and I absolutely adored it, can’t wait to go back. I had an encounter with that resident myself and the story took me back to one of my most magical memories.

This book is the perfect cosy romance to snuggle up with during this chilly autumn days. It will leave you happy, satisfied and with the warm glow of a Ready Brek kid (a reference that will only mean something to people of a certain age!) I’m looking forward to getting my paperback to add to my beloved collection of Romantic Escapes novels and am looking forward to seeing where this author will take me next. It is always a pleasure to take an armchair trip with her.

The Cosy Cottage in Ireland is out now as an ebook and will be released in paperback on 9 December. You can buy a copy here.

Make sure you check out some other reviews of the book by following the tour as detailed below:

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About the Author

Julie Caplin Bookshelf

Julie Caplin, formerly a PR director, swanned around Europe for many years taking top food and drink writers on press trips (junkets) sampling the gastronomic delights of various cities in Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Copenhagen and Switzerland. It was a tough job but someone had to do it.

These trips have provided the inspiration and settings for her Romantic Escapes series which have been translated into fifteen different languages.

The first book in the seven strong series, The Little Café in Copenhagen, was shortlisted for a Romantic Novel of the Year Award.

Connect with Julie:

Website: http://www.juleswake.co.uk/

Facebook: Julie Caplin Author

Twitter: @JulieCaplin

Instagram: @juliecaplinauthor

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Blog Tour: Murder at the House on the Hill by Victoria Walters #BookReview

Murder At The House On The Hill

It is my turn on the blog tour today for Murder at the House on the Hill by Victoria Walters and I want to thank Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for giving me a slot on the tour, and to the author and the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of the book for the purposes of review. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

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Once Upon A Crime…

Nancy Hunter and her grandmother Jane Hunter run the Dedley Endings Bookshop, selling crime, thriller and mystery books, in a small, quiet Cotswold village where nothing ever happens…

That is, until the wealthy and reclusive Roth family open up their mansion for the first time in twenty years, inviting the people of Dedley End to a lavish engagement party.

While everyone is thrilled to finally look around the mansion on the hill, the festivities are quickly cut short when beautiful Lucy, recently married to young Harry Roth, is found dead after being pushed over the first-floor balustrade.

But who among the guests could have been capable of her murder – and why?

Nancy and Jane decide to investigate – after all, not only do they own a crime themed bookshop, they were also both named after famous literary detectives – but soon wonder if they’ve taken on more than they can handle. Especially when it seems the killer has worked out that they’re hot on their heels…

Can they catch the murderer before the murderer catches up with them? Or will there be a deadly ending to this story?

I really love a cosy crime novel and the cover of this one drew me in straight away, I absolutely love it, it’s one I will be buying to grace my shelves and the marketing team have done a great job to reflect the book here. Kudos to the cover artist as well. The hook of the book also got me – a mystery-solving grandmother and granddaughter duo who own a crime book shop? Who wouldn’t want to read that?

I absolutely loved the dynamics in this book between Nancy and her grandmother, they make a great team. The author is fabulous at characterisation, and all of the players in this book are interesting in their own way. Nancy’s best friend, Jonathan, is also a fantastic character and his relationship with Nancy was one of my favourites.

The setting of the book in a quaint Cotswold village where nothing much happens is perfect and, Dedley End, what a great name that is. It just encapsulates this books completely, clever and funny, not taking itself too seriously at all.

This book was a really easy, quick read for me because the writing is clear and the plot so entertaining and pacy that I just rattled through it at speed. I did not work out the ending in advance and thoroughly enjoyed the journey of getting there. There was nothing about this book that was not a pleasure and I really look forward to reading more in the series. I really hop all the other covers are as good as this one. If so, I’ll be a paperback devotee!

Perfect as an autumn read now the days are getting shorter and chillier and fans of cosy crime will love it. Highly recommended.

The book is out in ebook and paperback now and you can buy a copy here.

Please do check out some of the other blogs taking part in the tour for alternative reviews:

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About the Author

Victoria Walters author picture

Victoria Walters writes up-lifting and inspiring stories. She’s the author of the bestselling GLENDALE HALL series, which continues with its third book HOPEFUL HEARTS at GLENDALE HALL in September, as well as two other standalone novels – SUMMER at the KINDNESS CAFE, and THE SECOND LOVE of my LIFE. She has been chosen for WHSmith Fresh Talent and shortlisted for two RNA awards. Victoria was also picked as an Amazon Rising Star, and her books have won wide reader acclaim.

Victoria is a full-time author. She lives in Surrey with her cat Harry, and loves books, clothes, music, going out for tea and cake, and posting photos on Instagram.

Connect with Victoria:

Website: https://victoria-writes.com/

Facebook: Victoria Walters

Twitter: @Vicky_Walters

Instagram: @vickyjwalters

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Blog Tour: The Shanghai Wife by Emma Harcourt #BookReview

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I am delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for The Shanghai Wife by Emma Harcourt. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part, and to the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Forbidden friendship, political conspiracy and incendiary passion draw Australian woman Annie Brand deep into the glamour and turmoil of 1920s Shanghai.

Leaving behind the loneliness and trauma of her past in country Australia, Annie Brand arrives to the political upheaval and glittering international society of Shanghai in the 1920s. Journeying up the Yangtze with her new husband, the ship’s captain, Annie revels in the sense of adventure but when her husband sends her back to Shanghai, her freedom is quickly curtailed.

Against her will, Annie finds herself living alone in the International Settlement, increasingly suffocated by the judgemental Club ladies and their exclusive social scene: one even more restrictive than that she came from. Sick of salacious gossip and foreign condescension, and desperate to shake off the restrictions of her position in the world, Annie is slowly drawn into the bustling life and otherness of the real Shanghai, and begins to see the world from the perspective of the local people, including the servants who work at her husband’s Club.

But this world is far more complex and dangerous than the curious Annie understands and, unknowingly, she becomes caught in a web of intrigue and conspiracy as well as a passionate forbidden love affair she could not have predicted: one with far–reaching consequences…

I was very eager to be on the tour for this book, as this is a time period and setting that I know very little about, and one of the great joys for me in reading is learning. I have to say, this book really opened my eyes to a fascinating time and place in history and am now keen to read more about it. You can’t ask much more from a book than inspiring curiosity in you whilst it entertains.

This book is an intriguing mix of history, social commentary and thriller, and I was drawn into the exquisitely drawn setting as soon as I started to read. The book opens with a young wife, Annie, as she travels up the Yangtze river with her new husband, a boat captain. The couple are still getting to know one another, and the scenes between them are sweet and tender. However, China in the 1920s is a place of political upheaval and danger, with rioting in the cities and banditry in the hills, and Alec, fearing that the journey is too dangerous for his wife and sends her back to the relative safety of the International Settlement in Shanghai.

Annie is an unusual character in the community, young and rebellious, having run away from home in Australia, she does not fit in easily with the constraining social rules of ex-pat society in China, and she displays an unseemly (in the eyes of the other women) interest in the local issues and grows too close to some of the Chinese community. She is very naive, and meddles in things she doesn’t really understand, whilst out of her husband’s immediate supervision, and ends up in a dangerous situation.

I found Annie’s story fascinating. From the perspective of a modern woman, I can sympathise with her feelings, and understand her frustrations, whilst recognising how inappropriate and unwise her actions are. You can see that the situation is not going to end well, and, boy, is this author cruel to her protagonist. This book is an emotional rollercoaster that the reader is propelled along with Annie by the power and beauty of the author’s writing. She has painted a rich and exotic world here, that you can practically touch through the pages and it feels very alive. I absolutely loved being caught up in the machinations of the ex-pat community in Shanghai at this time.

If I had any criticism of the book, it would be that the final segment unravelling the thriller aspect of the plot felt a little rushed, and I got slightly confused. I felt that the author had really luxuriated in the historical and romantic aspects of the plot earlier on, but was less invested in this aspect and just wanted it sorting out. It didn’t feel as richly developed as I would have liked, and it gave the book an uneven cadence in the final quarter. I also didn’t really understand what was the issue between Annie and her father, and this didn’t get resolved to my satisfaction.

These niggles aside, this book is a beautiful exploration of an experience in history that is ripe for story-telling and provides the reader with a feast for all of the senses. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would not hesitate to pick up another novel by this author. If you love historical fiction, you will want to give this a go.

The Shanghai Wife is out now in all formats and you can get a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour as detailed below:

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About the Author

Emma Harcourt Author Pic

Emma Harcourt has worked as a journalist for over 25 years, in Australia, the UK and Hong Kong. In 2011, she completed the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course and The Shanghai Wife was borne. Emma lives in Sydney with her two daughters. She is currently working on her second novel.

Connect with Emma:

Facebook: Emma Harcourt Author

Twitter: @emma_harcourt

Instagram: @emmaharcourtauthor

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Blog Tour: The Dating Game by Sandy Barker #BookReview

The Dating Game

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for The Dating Game by Sandy Barker. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part and to the author and publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Once upon a time, twelve women joined the hottest reality TV show looking for love. Except one had a secret identity . . .

Abby Jones is a serious writer. Or at least she will be, one day. Right now, she spends her time writing recaps of reality television under a secret identity.

When a recap for The Stag – the must-watch dating show – goes viral, her editor thinks she should be on set, writing the drama as it happens. The good news: the next season will be filmed in Sydney. Sun, sea and a glamorous trip abroad, this could be Abby’s big break.

The bad news: the producers don’t just want Abby to write the recaps, they want her to be on the show. Abby can’t think of anything worse than being undercover and followed around by cameras. But her career depends on it, and when she meets gorgeous producer Jack, Abby begins to wonder if this job might not be so bad after all . .

Even if I had never read a previous book by Sandy Barker and she hadn’t become one of my favourite romcom authors of recent years, I would have wanted to pick up a copy of The Dating Game, just based on the premise of the book alone. I’m not a devotee of reality TV shows as such, except the annual car crash that is Love Island, but the idea of a book set behind the scenes in that world was too delicious to pass on.

So, I was frothing with anticipation when I started this book, but I have to say this book exceeded even my extremely high expectations. This book is absolutely perfect in every single way and I can remember when I last enjoyed a romcom as much as this one. I devoured it in what was basically a single sitting, interrupted only when I physically could not stay awake a moment longer and I dropped my Kindle on the floor as I fell asleep, and revelled in every single moment.

Even if you have never seen a single episode of The Batchelor, (the reality show that The Stag of the book is clearly based on), you will immediately be drawn into the ridiculously fake world of so-called ‘reality tv’ which is about as far from reality as you can get and the whole scenario is scripted to play out for maximum drama and ratings. This book explores in great detail and with excoriating commentary the ludicrous notion of trying to make real people behave in a scripted way to make other people watching it believe that it is all true. When you step back and look at it, the absurdity is clear and the author plays this to the max in the book.

The main character, Abby, is very likeable and carried the story, and the reader, easily, but the person I really loved is her wicked alter ego, Anastasia Blabbergasted, an online commentator on reality TV. This woman is a total goddess with the wickedest wit and the fastest mouth in the west and her recaps on the episodes of The Stag were my favourite parts of the book and had me laughing out loud every time. In fact, Sandy could make an absolute fortune on any reality TV show doing the commentary, if Ian Bentley retires and TV companies weren’t overly worried about being sued. I’ve set myself a reminder to check out Sandy’s Twitter feed next time an reality TV show comes on. I wonder what she could come up with for the new series of Bake Off that starts on Tuesday.

There is a romance involved in the book, with the geeky but cute Jack, but for me this was a secondary plot concern compared with Abby’s dilemmas of pretending to be two things she isn’t, her struggles over her friendships in the programme with the part she is forced to play in the show, and the blurring of fiction and fact in reality TV-land. There is so much to unpack and enjoy in this book that the pages fairly flew by and it was obver well before I was ready for it to be, I was enjoying the story so much.

As I said early on, I am a massive fan of Sandy’s writing but these is by far and away my favourite of her novels yet. A big, fat five stars from me and I urge you all to go out and buy it immediately if you are looking to be amused and entertained.

The Dating Game is out now in ebook format (currently 99p!) and will be published in paperback on 9 December. You can get your copy here.

Please do check out some of the reviews of the book by the many other excellent bloggers taking part in the tour. You can find them listed below:

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About the Author

Author Photo Sandy Barker

Sandy is a writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list, and many of her travel adventures have found homes in her novels. She’s also an avid reader, a film buff, a wine lover and a coffee snob. She lives in Melbourne Australia with her partner, Ben, who she met while travelling in Greece. Their real-life love story inspired Sandy’s debut novel One Summer in Santorini, the first in the Holiday Romance series with One More Chapter, an imprint of HarperCollins. 

Connect with Sandy:

Website: https://sandybarker.com/

Facebook: Sandy Barker Author

Twitter: @sandybarker

Instagram: @sandybarkerauthor

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Blog Tour: Starlight Cottage by K. T. Dady #BookReview

Starlight Cottage

I am delighted to be taking part today in the blog tour for Starlight Cottage by K. T. Dady. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part, and to the author for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Welcome to Pepper Bay. A small close-knit community where you’ll find chocolate box cottages, quaint shops, drama, friendship, and love.

Starlight Cottage – Anna Cooper and Jake Reynolds both live at the luxury London building, River Heights. The only difference is that Jake lives in the penthouse, and Anna lives in a tent on the roof.

When Jake finds out, he offers Anna a chance of a new life in his grandmother’s childhood home in Pepper Bay, and she decides to take the opportunity to see if she really can make a fresh start somewhere else.

The beauty of Pepper Bay, with its quaint shops, chocolate box cottages, and all of Jake’s closest friends, immediately fills Anna’s heart with nothing but love, and it isn’t just Starlight Cottage that she finds herself falling in love with.

This is the first in a new series set in the charming Pepper Bay and sets up the community and a cast of characters that I am sure are all going to get their own full stories in future editions. However, in this first book we are mainly concerned with Jake and Anna in an ‘opposites attract’ story.

Anna has had a tough life. Raised without parents, she latched on to others who don’t treat her well and finds herself homeless and living in a tent on the roof of a posh apartment building in London with only her dog for company. Jake lives in the penthouse, and meets Anna by chance, eventually figuring out where she is living and taking her under his wing, despite them being totally different in every way, from personality to circumstance.

Anna as a character was someone that my heart went out to from the beginning. She seems kind and sweet, but way too trusting and I just wanted someone to take care of her. Her most recent ex is one of the most despicable characters I have ever seen written in a book and I was desperate for him to get him comeuppance, so the author has done a great job of getting me invested in the outcome of the book from early one.

Jake was a totally different personality and I wasn’t sure about him to begin with. He didn’t seem like a good fit for Anna, and I was worried he was going to crush her further, and I suppose that this tension is what makes for a compelling story. However, the author gradually reveals hidden depths to Jake, and we see that his life hasn’t been all sunshine and roses and that he has his own problems that make him more sympathetic.

Once we leave London and arrive in Pepper Bay, I was completely sold on the charming setting and great community that the author has created there and can see how this is going to make the beginnings of a great series. This is the perfect type of cute, cosy romance that will ease you out of summer and into the darkening, cooling days of autumn and you begin to curl up on the sofa of an evening and lose yourself in a good book.

If I had to pick any faults with the book that just stop it being a five-star read, I would say that the feelings between Anna and Jake develop a little too quickly to be entirely credible, given their vastly different circumstances, so the plot requires quite a stretch on the suspension of disbelief front. There were also a couple of places where events took an inexplicable jump and I thought I had missed a page out, which made me a bit confused (although I was reading late at night sometimes so it could just be my sluggish brain!).

Overall, I enjoyed the book very much and would not hesitate to recommend it to fans of the genre. An exciting new author to look out for.

Starlight Cottage is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Please check out the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour for more reviews:

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About the Author

Author, reader, mum, chocolate lover, and a huge fan of a HEA. I was born and raised in the East End of London, and I’ve been happily writing stories since I was a little girl. When I’m not writing, I’m baking cakes or pottering around in my little garden in Essex, trying not to kill the flowers. I’m the author of contemporary romance, middle-grade, and the thought-provoking thriller about mental illness, The Focus Program.

Connect with K. T. Dady:

Website: https://ktdady.com/

Twitter: @kt_dady

Instagram: @kt_dady

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Blog Tour: Before Pittsburgh by Kasie Whitener #BookReview

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Tony is dead and Brian’s world has unraveled. Still grappling with the harsh reality that his best friend’s suicide was not a nightmare that he just hasn’t awakened from, Brian plummets into a dark period of drinking and desperate actions.

Seeking healing and redemption for his ingrained belief that it should have been him, not Tony, that’s dead, Brian travels across the U.S. and Spain for answers. He starts counting the days in Barcelona: bar fights and threesomes. The months in San Francisco: short stories and a new romance. The seasons in Tucson, Nashville, Manila, and Seattle: The Crew growing up and apart. Three years unfold between before-Tony-died and after. Brian thinks he has finally left Virginia and its ghosts behind.

A near miss on September 11th brings time to a standstill and Brian faces a new devastation.

With so much work to be done Before Pittsburgh, Brian’s world expands in unexpected ways but contracts in the same old patterns of loss, redemption, and mourning. Can he earn his place in the lives of the people he loves? Or will he remain disconnected, unforgiven, and alone?

I’m delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for Before Pittsburgh by Kasie Whitener. My thanks to Kelly Lacey of Love Books Group Tours for inviting me to take part, and to the author for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This book is very different to my normal reading choices for a number of reasons. One of the reasons I love blogging is that it pushes my reading out of its comfort zone and makes me pick up books I would not normally come across. You never know when you are going to discover a gem, or a new genre that you might normally have overlooked. of course, you are never going to love everything you read, but you won’t know unless you try!

This is the second book in a series. However, I didn’t know this going in and it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book at all, it works perfectly well as a standalone. The main protagonist is Brian, a man in his early twenties who is struggling in the aftermath of his best friend’s suicide. This is the first thing that is very different to the books I normally read, most emotional fiction I read is written from a female perspective, so this was an interesting departure. The author, despite being female, has done an amazing job of getting under the skin of the protagonist and I was totally immersed in Brian’s pain and struggle. The writing of his distress and self-destructive behaviour is very visceral, which makes for a powerful but difficult read at times.

The book is written mainly in first person from Brian’s perspective, but there are also a series of emails between Brian and various other characters in the story, which breaks up the narrative and provides a clever and insightful glimpse into their personalities. The book takes place across a number of years and disparate locations and, whilst these are detailed at the beginning of each chapter, I did find it tricky to keep up with where in time and space we were at times which broke my concentration a little.

This book is powerful and truthful insight into dealing with the death of a person you love so deeply that you don’t know who you are without them in your life and I really believed in Brian’s reaction to the events in the book. However, the problem I had with it was that I didn’t really like him enough to make enough allowance for his behaviour in response to his pain. Maybe if I had read the previous book, I would be more invested and have more empathy for Brian and be able to cut him more slack in relation to his behaviour. As it was, from the beginning Brian behaves badly and I couldn’t find my sympathy for him. However, I do realise that this is probably largely down to my age. At approaching 50 with teenage daughters, I think my sympathy for the callous attitudes of twenty-something ‘boys’ has long since waned, I’ve become less tolerant of it over the years as I’ve gained maturity and understanding. I don’t think I am particularly the target audience for this novel and someone closer to the age and experiences of the protagonist will be more forgiving, so don’t let the my jaded perspective put you off.

The book was a little slow for me in parts, but again I think it may be because the developing (or not) love lives of young adults hold less appeal to me as I get older and other people will react differently. What I can say is that this is a brave and bold book with important things to say and it says them in a confident voice, coupled with exquisite writing. Despite my lack of empathy with them, there is no doubt the characters are well written and alive on the page and feel like honest portrayals of real people. The story is very moving, the author is skilled at drawing genuine emotion from the reader. It feels like a great accomplishment of a book, if not one that pushed my particular buttons. I would not hesitate to recommend it to the audience it was written for, which I don’t think is 49-year-old mothers from rural Yorkshire.

Before Pittsburgh is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Please do visit some of the other blogs taking part in the tour as detailed below:

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About the Author

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Connect with Kasie:

Website: https://kasiewhitener.com/

Facebook: Kasie Whitener

Twitter: @KasieWhitener

Instagram: @kasiewhitener

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Blog Tour: Dead Secret by Noelle Holten #BookReview

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Psycopaths can take root in the unlikeliest soil…

DC Maggie Jamieson crosses paths once again with Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood when a domestic violence survivor stumbles into her new refuge, unable to speak, desperate for help.

Then another case hits Maggie’s desk. A young man has been murdered, and a curious constellation of black dots has been inked onto his cheek.

That’s when DCI Hastings goes missing and Maggie uncovers a shocking connection that turns the case on its head.

Every family may hide secrets, but not every family buries them…

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the paperback release of Dead Secret, Book 4 in the maggie Jamieson thriller series by Noelle Holten. It is no secret that I LOVE this series ( you can read my previous reviews here, here and here.) My thanks to Sarah Hardy of Books on the Bright Side Publicity for giving me a place on the tour, and to the author and publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Maggie Jamieson has become one of my favourite characters in detective fiction over recent years, so I was very keen to get back to finding out what was going on in her world. This time, one of their own is caught up in some trouble, just to ramp up the drama.

This book has two distinct storylines to follow. Firstly, Lucy has found an unidentifiable beaten woman at the gates of her as-yet-to-be-opened refuge and feels obliged to take her in. The woman is scared and reluctant to reveal her story; as a survivor herself Lucy sympathises and doesn’t pressure her, but is curious about what she has gone through. Then there is the body of the young man, killed in the woods by a blow to the head. Whilst the investigation into this is going on, it becomes apparent that Maggie’s DCI and his family are missing and may be in terrible danger. Is this enough chaos to keep you entertained?

It definitely was for me as, along with the police, I tried to follow the threads of the different investigations they were juggling. There seemed to be so many loose ends to follow and red herrings to eliminate, and the small team were pulled in all directions trying to follow the different leads, none of which made much sense to begin with. Quite how the author managed to plot all this out and keep it straight I have no idea, in my imagination the plot looks like an impossibly tangled ball of wool with just a few loose ends trailing out which, eventually and with great skill, Noelle manages to gently pull until it all unravels neatly and beautifully into a straight line. So clever.

I was honestly flummoxed through most of the book. I even had a suspicion about someone close to Maggie that has always been one of my favourite characters and now I feel quite guilty about that! Although I did guess one tiny aspect of the outcome, the big reveal I had no idea about and it came as a complete shock, which only happens in the best type of thriller.

Alongside the mystery, we delve further into Maggie’s complex love life and her own tussles with her relationship status and how she feels about it. The portrayal of Maggie as a confused and vulnerable person in her love life contrasts sharply with her confident, maverick work persona and lends her a depth that makes her a more likeable and relatable character. She is someone I become more and more fond of as the books progress, and it parts of what makes me so eager to come back to them each time a new one is released.

All in all, this is an entertaining thriller that makes for compulsive reading. If you are already a fan of the Maggie Jamieson thrillers, this new one will not disappoint. If not, what are you waiting for? Dive one now, you won’t regret it.

Dead Secret is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour and visit some other fab blogs:

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About the Author

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Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog. Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

Connect with Noelle:

Website: https://crimebookjunkie.co.uk

Facebook: Noelle Holten Author

Twitter: @nholten40

Instagram: @crimebookjunkie

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Blog Tour: Under A Greek Moon by Carol Kirkwood #BookReview

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It’s my turn on the blog tour today for Under A Greek Moon by Carol Kirkwood and I want to thank Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Hollywood actress Shauna Jackson left the Greek island of Ithos twenty years ago and thought she would never return. Reeling from a scandal that has tarnished her success, she is drawn back to the beautiful olive groves and endless azure skies – and to the secrets she has tried hard to forget.

Looking down from his hilltop villa, enigmatic tycoon Demetrios Theodosis knows he can’t change the past, and looks to the future through his tempestuous daughter Ariana, but in trying to tame her free spirit, is he driving her further away?

Set against bleached white houses bounded by a sapphire sea, a yearning for the truth will compel them both to confront their shared past, and take them back to a distant summer that seemed to hold so much promise …

When I started reading this book, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The blurb makes it sound like a standard summer romance set on foreign shores. However, it starts out with a young girl being drawn into a glamorous world of money, fast cars and yachts where she is out of her depth and at the mercy of a playboy tycoon, so it initially read more like the start of a bonkbuster from the 1980s. In fact, the author even pays homage to Jackie Collins and Colleen McCullough early in the novel. Whichever of these genres the book was going to fall into was not going to be a problem for me, I love them both.

The story jumps around in time a little, between Shauna’s youth and the present day, so you need to pay attention to what is going on to keep up, but then the story is entertaining. Shauna is one of the luckiest people in the world, I have to say, with all the breaks she gets in her life. I wish just one of these things had ever happened to me, so be prepared to suspend your belief just a little. If you can do this, you will find a fun and intriguing story that will whisk you from Ireland to Monaco to Greece to LA, and from the student halls of Manchester to the Grimaldi palace. If you are looking for some pure escapism in you summer reading, this book will hit the spot.

Shauna is a sympathetic character to carry the story, and the author does a great job of getting the reader on side early in the book (despite her great dose of the luck of the Irish following her about). Demetrios is also a great character to play off against her. He is suitably ambiguous to begin with for the reader to wonder about his motives and worry about Shauna, but redeemable as we see things from his perspective as the book progresses. Carol also gives us some great minor characters to flesh out the story, Roxy and Nikos being my particular favourites.

I did enjoy this book, reading it over the course of only 24 hours. I loved the globe-trotting aspect particularly, and the glimpse into some of the sparkling worlds of monied Europe and Hollywood. However, I did feel that this book hadn’t quite decided what it wanted to be. Packaged as romance, but with bonkbuster undertones, I wish it had planted itself firmly in one camp or the other.

Under a Greek Moon is out now in hardback, ebook and audio formats and will be published in paperback in November. You can buy a copy here.

Please do follow the rest of the tour for this book and see the opinions of some other great bloggers:

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About the Author

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 Carol Kirkwood is one of the BBC’s most loved TV presenters, best known for presenting the weather. She lights up viewers’ homes every day, appearing on programmes such as BBC Breakfast, Strictly Come Dancing, Wimbledon Tennis Fortnight, and Zoe Ball’s Radio 2 Breakfast Show.

She is hugely popular with fans and Carol frequently trends on Twitter. Beyond the television screen, she can often be found ensconced in a book, singing, dancing, and driving fast cars.

Connect with Carol:

Twitter: @carolkirkwood

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Blog Tour: Grown Ups by Marie Aubert; Translated by Rosie Hedger #BookReview

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Ida is a forty-year-old architect, single and starting to panic. She’s navigating Tinder and contemplating freezing her eggs, but forces these worries to the back of her mind as she sets off to the family cabin for her mother’s sixty-fifth birthday.

But family ties old and new begin to wear thin, out in the idyllic Norwegian countryside. Ida is fighting with her sister Marthe, flirting with Marthe’s husband and winning the favour of Marthe’s stepdaughter. Some supposedly wonderful news from her sister sets tensions simmering even further, building to an almighty clash between Ida and her sister, her mother, her whole family.

Exhilarating, funny and unexpectedly devastating, Grown Ups asks what kind of adult you are without a family of your own.

I am delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour for Grown Ups by Marie Aubert. My thanks to Tara McEvoy of Pushkin Press for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, provided via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This was such a melancholic book to read, I wasn’t expecting it at all. We are following the story of Ida, as she goes out to her family’s holiday cabin on the edge of a fjord to celebrate her mother’s birthday, along with her stepfather, her sister and her sister’s family. Ida’s life isn’t going to plan at all. She is forty, alone and contemplating freezing her eggs before time runs out.

Ida is quite a hard character to like, to be honest. She seems pathologically jealous of her sister, to the point where she is actively destructive. I understand where she is coming from. Her sister is hugely annoying – demanding and self-centred – and everyone seems to pander to her. At least this is how it looks to Ida, and she feels side-lined by the rest of the family. I have three sisters, and sometimes they can wind me up because we are all very different people, but I would never behave to them the way Ida does. She seems quite sly, which is hard to warm to.

In fact, most of the people in this story, and it is a small cast, are quite dysfunctional. The one person who isn’t, probably because he is so peripheral, Ida hates, probably because he observations on her behaviour are so acute and she doesn’t like having her faults mirrored back at her. In fact, I am sure the author meant Stein to act a little as Ida’s conscience, not that she takes much notice of him.

This is an excoriating treatise on family relationships, and how some people’s are so transactional. If you don’t behave a certain way, affection can be withheld. It is a diatribe against the expectations society has, with the family acting as a microcosm of society here, on women and how women feel when they can’t meet those expectations. How it undermines their own opinion of themselves. I didn’t get the impression that Ida liked herself very much, she certainly isn’t happy, but I also wasn’t convinced she wanted the things she was pursuing particularly for herself, but because that is what society expects her to do.

The book is beautifully written, with very detailed and well-developed characters who were very realistic on the page. Perhaps too realistic. I fully believed in the relationships that were playing out on the page, and they made me deeply sad. It is astounding to me that this book was written by someone young, as it has such a world-weary air. It is a sorry reflection of modern society that this is how it still makes women feel when they do not conform to an outdated stereotype.

This is a fantastically crafted novel, with some beautiful imagery, impressive characterisation and thought-provoking themes. It reminded me of how I felt after reading Sarah Moss’s exceptional Summerwater last year. Moved but profoundly sad. If you are looking for something meaningful to read, look no further.

Grown Ups is out now in paperback and ebook formats, and you can buy a copy here.

Please make sure to visit some of the other blogs taking part in the tour for this book as detailed below:

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About the Author

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Marie Aubert made her debut in 2016 with the short story collection Can I Come Home With You, which sold more than 10,000 copies in Norway. Grown Ups is her first novel, and won the Young People’s Critics’ Prize (Norway’s equivalent to the Goncourt des lyceens) and was nominated for the Booksellers’ Prize. Rights have already been sold in ten other countries.

Connect with Marie:

Twitter: @marieau

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