Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton #BookReview #BlogTour #PublicationDay (@BrethertonWords) @Unbounders @annecater #BoneLines #RandomThingsTours

Bone Lines Cover copy

“A young woman walks alone through a barren landscape in a time before history, a time of cataclysmic natural change. She is cold, hungry and with child but not without hope or resources. A skilful hunter, she draws on her intuitive understanding of how to stay alive… and knows that she must survive.

In present-day London, geneticist Dr Eloise Kluft wrestles with an ancient conundrum as she unravels the secrets of a momentous archaeological find. She is working at the forefront of contemporary science but is caught in the lonely time-lock of her own emotional past.

Bone Lines is the story of two women, separated by millennia yet bound by the web of life.  A tale of love and survival – of courage and the quest for wisdom – it explores the nature of our species and asks what lies at the heart of being human.

Although partly set during a crucial era of human history 74,000 years ago, Bones Lines is very much a book for our times. Dealing with themes from genetics, climate change and migration to the yearning for meaning and the clash between faith and reason, it also paints an intimate portrait of who we are as a species. The book tackles some of the big questions but requires no special knowledge of any of the subjects to enjoy.

Alternating between ancient and modern timelines, the story unfolds through the experiences of two unique characters:  One is a shaman, the sole surviving adult of her tribe who is braving a hazardous journey of migration, the other a dedicated scientist living a comfortable if troubled existence in London, who is on her own mission of discovery. 

The two are connected not only by a set of archaic remains but by a sense of destiny – and their desire to shape it. Both are pioneers, women of passion, grit and determination, although their day to day lives could not be more different. One lives moment by moment, drawing on every scrap of courage and ingenuity to keep herself and her infant daughter alive, while the other is absorbed by work, imagination and regret. Each is isolated and facing her own mortal dangers and heart-rending decisions, but each is inspired by the power of the life force and driven by love.”

Today I’m very excited to be on the blog tour for this very different book. I love the way that the books Unbound are producing via their unique publishing model are pushing the boundaries of what is available for us to read and this book is no exception. My thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for my place on the tour and the publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially. And a happy Publication Day to Stephanie Bretherton for her debut novel, I hope you have the day you always dreamed you would when your first book was published.

This book is a fascinating study of science, philosophy, religion, gender, morality, history, all bound up in the fascinating story of two women living 74,000 years apart. It is the story of Eloise, a scientist in the present day who is presented with the bones of a prehistoric woman to study, and of ‘Sarah’ that prehistoric woman, battling for survival and to protect her child in an extreme environment. As Eloise studies the skeleton and tries to learn all she can about the woman they belonged to, she is also finding out about herself, and about all of us and how we got to where we are now, what we have found and what we may have lost along the way.

This book presents the reader with so much to think about, so much to contemplate and leaves them with more questions than it does answers, which is a marvellous gift for us to be given. Eloise is a thoroughly modern woman, dealing with dilemmas facing many professional women in the modern day, especially in traditionally male-dominated sectors. She is confronted with the decisions and sacrifices she has made to get where she is, whether they have been worth it and what her contribution as a person and as a woman means for her. She is tussling with so many conflicts – personal, philosophical, moral, religious – some of these she attempts to work out by writing letters to Darwin which could seem a bit gimmicky when described so baldly but actually it worked really well within the context of the book to help set out and work through some of the issues Eloise is faced with.

Alongside Eloise’s story in the present day, we are alternately following the story of Sarah, battling with a hostile climate 74,000 years ago. For me, her story was perhaps the more compelling part of the book as we contemplate what she had to go through to survive back then and what was driving her to do the things she did. Some of them are things that have been lost to us in the modern day, buried under the external support we now have in our every day lives, that innate instinct to survive, listening to our gift as it tells us what we need to do to survive. Sarah relies heavily on something within herself telling her what to do, and it is this inbred, internal voice that compels her to leave her tribe and head away to where she believes at the very core of herself she will be safe. Is this something genetic? Is is something that has carried down through the generations by those who listened to it and as a result, survived to pass on their genes down the generations to the modern day? Is this something we could all still tap in to if we let ourselves and stop over-thinking everything? This is something I have contemplated  myself previously and this book has just given me even more food for thought. Some of the things are motives that still drive us today – self-preservation, bloody mindedness, the desire to protect our offspring and, therefore, our genetic legacy, and … love. There are perhaps more parallels between Eloise and Sarah than there are differences.

This book requires focus, attention and thought to get the most from it but it is one that is really worth the effort. It is not dry and dull, despite the complex issues addressed, but a really fascinating treatise on our origins and the  evolution of our species from then to now, how we got here, what our ancestors needed to do to survive, what they passed down to us, and the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of that history and what people are doing to explain it, to get to the truth of where we come from and how those origins have influenced who we have become. A very ambitious and intelligent book, meticulously researched, that the writer has pulled off beautifully and I look forward to seeing what comes next.

Bone Lines is published today and you can get your copy by following this link.

To follow the rest of the blog tour, check out the fabulous blogs listed below:

Bone Lines Blog Tour Poster

About the Author

Stephanie Bretherton Author Pic

Who do you think you are? A daunting question for the debut author… but also one to inspire a genre-fluid novel based on the writer’s fascination for what makes humanity tick. Born in Hong Kong to expats from Liverpool (and something of a nomad ever since) Stephanie is now based in London, but manages her sanity by escaping to any kind of coast

Before returning to her first love of creative writing, Stephanie spent much of her youth pursuing alternative forms of storytelling, from stage to screen and media to marketing. For the past fifteen years Stephanie has run her own communications and copywriting company specialised in design, architecture and building. In the meantime an enduring love affair with words and the world of fiction has led her down many a wormhole on the written page, even if the day job confined such adventures to the weekends.

Drawn to what connects rather than separates, Stephanie is intrigued by the spaces between absolutes and opposites, between science and spirituality, nature and culture. This lifelong curiosity has been channelled most recently into her debut novel, Bone Lines. When not bothering Siri with note-taking for her next books and short stories, Stephanie can be found pottering about with poetry, or working out what worries/amuses her most in an opinion piece or an unwise social media post. Although, if she had more sense or opportunity she would be beachcombing, sailing, meditating or making a well-disguised cameo in the screen version of one of her stories. (Wishful thinking sometimes has its rewards?)

Connect with Stephanie:


Facebook: Stephanie Bretherton

Twitter: @BrethertonWords

Instagram: @brethertonwords2

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Summer of Secrets by Nikola Scott #BookReview #BlogTour (@nikola_scott) @headlinepg @annecater #SummerOfSecrets #RandomThingsTours

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I am so delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for Summer of Secrets by Nikola Scott. I have been longing to share my thoughts on this book for a while and today is the day, so pull up a chair and get comfy so we can begin. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me on to the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly.

The Summer of Secrets Cover

“August 1939

At peaceful Summerhill, orphaned Maddy hides from the world and the rumours of war. Then her adored sister Georgina returns from a long trip with a new friend, the handsome Victor. Maddy fears that Victor is not all he seems, but she has no idea just what kind of danger has come into their lives…


Chloe is newly pregnant. This should be a joyful time, but she is fearful for the future, despite her husband’s devotion. When chance takes her to Summerhill, she’s drawn into the mystery of what happened there decades before. And the past reaches out to touch her in ways that could change everything…”

Before we launch in to the review of the book, let’s just take a moment to admire this stunning cover, shall we? It’s so striking and enticing, who wouldn’t want to pick up this book and dive in? Full marks to the cover designer for doing a fabulous job. I have an ARC copy with a plain blue cover but I think I am going to have to replace it with a published copy so this beautiful design can grace my shelves.

This is a dual timeline narrative, set partly in 1939 just before the outbreak of the Second World War and in the present day.

In 1939, Maddie feel cocooned in the isolated estate at Summerhill, spending her days sketching and waiting for her sister Georgina to return from a trip to Europe. But when Georgina does come back, she brings with her a group of friends who disrupt the status quo at Summerhill and Maddie’s peace of mind. She is also haunted by past events and secrets that eventually have to come out.

In the present day, Chloe has the perfect life which is just about to be rounded off when she finds out she is pregnant. But all is not what it seems to the outside world and Chloe begins to realise that her relationship is not perfect and she is in danger of losing herself. Circumstances conspire to bring these two women together to form a friendship which reveals parallels between their lives that help them both.

I really loved this book. I am a sucker for a dual timeline narrative and this one is done beautifully. The stories weave together seamlessly and are so cleverly aligned it is a joy to read. I was equally entranced by both timelines so there was no sense of rushing through one chapter to get back to the other timeline. I loved the way they came together and the friendship that grew between the two women in the modern day was lovely. In fact, all the relationships in this book were wonderfully drawn and really captivating, the author has a real skill for this.

The book has a leisurely pace which allowed me to really become engrossed and revel in the wonderful descriptions and all the small details that brought the time periods and settings to life but at the same time there was enough going on and plenty of clues, and small revelations to keep the pages turning to the end of the book. This is a novel that it was truly and enjoyable experience to read. It was a real treat and I immersed myself in the experience totally.

Definitely a book I would highly recommend to fans of this type of novel and one I personally will return to in the future.

Summer of Secrets is hot off the press and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the blog tour for the book, make sure you check out the blogs listed below:

Summer of Secrets Blog Tour Poster

About the Author

Nikola Scott Author pic

Nikola Scott was born and raised in Germany and studied at university there. Having been obsessed with books from a young age, Nikola moved to New York City after her Master’s degree to begin her first job in book publishing, a career in which she could fully indulge her love of fiction!

She spent ten years working in publishing in New York and then in London, editing other people’s books, before she decided to take the leap into becoming a full-time writer herself.

She now lives in Frankfurt with her husband and two sons.

MY MOTHER’S SHADOW was published in 2017 to wonderful reviews. Her new novel SUMMER OF SECRETS is coming in September 2018.

Connect with Nikola:


Facebook: Nikola Scott Author

Twitter: @nikola_scott

Instagram: @nikolascottauthor

Goodreads: Nikola Scott

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The False Men by Mhairead MacLeod #BookReview #BlogTour (@MacLeodMhairead) @ThunderPointLtd @LoveBooksGroup #TheFalseMen #LoveBooksGroupTours


“North Uist, Outer Hebrides, 1848

Jess MacKay has led a privileged life as the daughter of a local landowner, sheltered from the harsher aspects of life. Courted by the eligible Patrick Cooper, the Laird’s new commissioner, Jess’s future is mapped out, until Lachlan Macdonald arrives on North Uist, amid rumours of forced evictions on islands just to the south.

As the uncompromising brutality of the Clearances reaches the islands, and Jess sees her friends ripped from their homes, she must decide where her heart, and her loyalties, truly lie.

Set against the evocative backdrop of the Hebrides and inspired by a true story, The False Men is a compelling tale of love in a turbulent past that resonates with the upheavals of the modern world.”

Delighted to be taking part today in the blog tour for The False Men by Mhairead MacLeod. My thanks to Kelly Lacey at Love Books Group Tours for my place of the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I spent most of my holidays as a child in Scotland and it has left me with an abiding love of the country and a fascination with its history, which is colourful and brutal, so I was very excited to read this book which is set against the backdrop of probably the most shameful part of Scottish history, the Highland Clearances. If anyone is not familiar with the atrocities committed against the farmers and crofters of the Highlands and Islands at this time, this book will give you a compelling insight into what went on.

The heroine of the book is Jess, the privileged daughter of the factor on North Uist, an island of the west coast of Scotland. The factors were gentlemen appointed by the Laird to manage their estates in a particular area and collect rents from his tenants. Although Jess is the factor’s daughter, she is very friendly with her maid, Catherine, and Catherine’s family who are crofters so, when the Clearances come to North Uist, she is in a unique position to see the situation from both sides and is horrified by what is happening. She tries to intervene, putting her on the wrong side of the society which she is part of.

Jess is a wonderful character to carry this book. Brave and opinionated, she is very much a woman ahead of her time, which sets her against the norms of the day and puts her at odds with her friends and family which makes for great tension and conflict in the book. From our enlightened position 170 years into the future, our sympathies are entirely with Jess as she rages at the injustices being done to her fellow man and her own weak and powerless position as a woman, and basically a chattel, at that time.

The author brings the history and landscape of Scotland during this period vividly to life with beautiful descriptions and we are transported right to the heart of the islands and Highlands and the struggle and conflict. The book is absolutely riveting and had my pulse racing and my heart in my mouth and kept me reading late into the night. I could not help but become emotionally involved in the story and feel everything that Jess was going through. As a living history lesson, this book is masterful. The author makes the speech of the time sound authentic without being a pastiche which is very hard to do.

I loved the author’s style of writing and voice, with the right amount of description to bring the book to life but no so much that slowed the pace. The history lesson is given in a subtle and insidious way without feeling dry and lecturing, it is extremely skilfully done and this book is a great picture of this part of history which will hold anyone who has the slightest interest in learning about Scotland’s past and a policy of brutality against people which changed the face of Scotland forever and continues to have ramifications for the country to the present.

I loved this book and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an intelligent but gripping read.

The False Men is out now and you can purchase a copy here.

Follow the rest of the bloggers on the tour:


About the Author

M MacLeod author photo

Mhairead MacLeod was born in Inverness, Scotland and spent her early childhood on the Isle of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides.

She now lives in Brisbane, Australia where she worked as an ethics lawyer, investigator and university lecturer. She holds Masters degrees in both Law and in Creative Writing.

An earlier draft of The False Men was short-listed for a HarperCollins Varuna Award for Manuscript Development and also won a Hachette Manuscript Development Award.

Connect with Mhairead:


Facebook: Mhairead MacLeod

Twitter: @MacleodMhairead

Instagram: @mhairead_macleod_author

The Daughter of River Valley by Victoria Cornwall #BlogTour #BookReview (@VickieCornwall) @ChocLituk @RaRaResources #TheDaughterOfRiverValley

The Daughter of River Valley

Today is my turn on the blog tour for The Daughter of River Valley by Victoria Cornwall. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the tour and to the publishers for my copy of the book.


“Beth Jago appears to have the idyllic life, she has a trade to earn a living and a cottage of her own in Cornwall’s beautiful River Valley. Yet appearances can be deceptive …

Beth has a secret. Since inheriting her isolated cottage she has been receiving threats, so when she finds a man in her home she acts on her instincts. One frying pan to the head and she has robbed the handsome stranger of his memory and almost killed him.

Brought together by unknown circumstances, and fearful he may die, she reluctantly nurses the intruder back to health. Yet can she trust the man with no name who has entered her life, or is he as dangerous as his nightmares suggest? As they learn to trust one another, the outside threats worsen. Are they linked to the man with no past? Or is the real danger still outside waiting … and watching them both?”

I only jumped on this blog tour at the last minute when a space suddenly became free as this is not normally a genre that I read much. However, I’m really glad I did because I absolutely adored this book to a degree that really surprised me for something outside my normal genre comfort zone.

I was in love with the heroine, Beth, from the opening scene and if you read the book you’ll understand why. Anyone who is prepared to act that way when living alone in an isolated valley and faced with an unknown male intruder is a woman worthy of finding out more about, especially given the time she was living in when women were expected to be meek and subservient, In fact, one of my favourite things about the book was the strong line of historical accuracy running through the book, one of which is the role of women in society in the mid-1800s and what happens to women who refuse to fit into the role that the times and customs dictated at that time.

Joss was another character that was easy to warm to and the developing relationship between he and Beth was one that I was rooting for from early in the book. He will have fans of Poldark swooning with his swarthy good looks and gentlemanly nature, with just the right whiff of mystery and intrigue surrounding him by virtue of his amnesia and unknown identity.

The setting of the book is really well drawn and appealing; I could very clearly envisage the beautiful River Valley and its position on the wild Cornish coast and I understood why Beth did not want to leave it. There were also lots of well drawn and intriguing characters fleshing out the book and it felt like an authentic and well-rounded community that was portrayed.

Aside from the focus on the plight of unmarried young women in this period, there is also a thread of commentary on the divide between rich and poor at this time and also the ambitions of the middle classes who are looking to better themselves by education and endeavour rather than just money but also the impossibility of this path for people who could not afford to educate their children to improve their chances. The theme of social injustice was really interesting and elevates this book beyond just a historical romance.

This book was an enchanting mix of historical commentary, interesting characters, compelling mystery and a dash of romance that held me from first page to last and I enjoyed every minute of it. The author is a very accomplished writer and I intend to hunt out more of her work.

The Daughter of River Valley is out now and you can buy a copy here.

If you would like to follow the rest of the blog tour, the details are below:

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About the Author

Victoria Cornwall. Profile Picture JPG

Victoria Cornwall can trace her Cornish roots as far back as the 18th century and it is this background and heritage which is the inspiration for her Cornish based novels.

Victoria’s writing has been shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romantic Fiction and her debut novel reached the final for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hessayon Award.

Victoria likes to read and write historical fiction with a strong background story, but at its heart is the unmistakable emotion, even pain, of loving someone.

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Connect with Victoria:


Facebook: Victoria Cornwall Author

Twitter: @VickieCornwall

Instagram: @victoria_cornwallx

Goodreads: Victoria Cornwall

Barnabas Tew and The Case of the Missing Scarab by Columbkill Noonan #BlogBlitz #BookReview (@ColumbkillNoon1) @crookedcatbooks @RaRaResources #BookBirthday

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab

Delighted to be taking part today in the blog blitz to celebrate the book birthday of Barnabas Tew and The Case of the Missing Scarab. Happy Book birthday, Columbkill Noonan and a big thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part.

Barnabas Tew - Cover

“Barnabas Tew, a detective in Victorian London, is having a hard time making a name for himself, probably because most of his clients end up dead before he can solve their cases. His luck is about to change, though, for better or worse: Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead, notices him and calls him to the Egyptian underworld. A terrible kidnapping has occurred; one that promises to put an end to the status quo and could perhaps even put an end to the entire world. It is up to Barnabas (along with his trusty assistant, Wilfred) to discover the culprit and set things to right. Can he turn his luck around and solve the most important case of his life?”

First off, I just want to congratulate Columbkill Noonan for having the best author name to appear on my blog so far – isn’t it fabulous! I have no idea if that is her real name or just a pen name but I really hope it is the former.

Now to the book, which might just be one of the maddest but most fun books I have ever read. I mean, the plot is literally insane and I wonder if she jotted it down on the back of a cocktail napkin after a heavy night on the creme de menthe but if you can get your head around that and run with the sheer lunacy of the idea, this is a really entertaining read, particularly for anyone who is interested in myths and legends and Egyptology.

The hero of the book is Sherlock Holmes-wannabe, Barnabas Tew who aspires to be a private detective as astute and famous as his literary hero. He has the clothing, including deerstalker, he has the Victorian setting, he has his Watson in the shape of his erstwhile sidekick, Wilfred. Sadly, he is lacking Holmes’ sharp intellect (although he himself is oblivious to this deficiency) which has led to a lack os success in his cases so far. In fact, an alarming number of his clients have ended up dead. He is ever hopeful that his luck will change though, and his adventures in the Egyptian Land of the Dead may prove the turning point.

I absolutely loved the characters in this book, the author has drawn them brilliantly. The Victorian setting, dress and speech are pitched perfectly for authenticity (with a few minor colloquial slip-ups, possibly but I found them forgivable in the grand scheme of the book) and they were great fun. Barnabas has grand ideas which sadly fall short and it is really his assistant, Wilfred, who is the brains of the outfit, though neither of them seem aware of this and the author does a fabulous job of fully drawing the humour from this relationship. It reminded me of Hong Kong Phooey and his cat, Spot, who was the real superhero of every show (I apologise to Columbkill, whom I am sure did not spend the 1970’s watching British children’s Saturday morning cartoons and anyone not old enough to remember this show – it’s worth a catch up online if you’ve never seen it!)

The pair get into loads of scrapes and ridiculous situations, partly due to the ludicrous setting of the book and partly due to Barnabas’ often intemperate outbursts and the book has a lot of laugh out loud moments. It wasn’t perfect. There were parts that could have done with more editing to avoid superfluous phrases and repetition that slowed the pacing and there were so many twists and turns that by the end I had started to get confused to the point where I was in danger of no longer caring who had committed the crime. However, my overall experience was a good one, the book was original, funny and engaging with a really novel concept and fun characters. Columbkill is tackling Norse mythology next and I am intrigued to see where she goes with that.

Barnabas Tew and The Case of the Missing Scarab is out now and you can buy a copy here.The next book in the series, Barnabas Tew and The Case of the Nine Worlds will be published on 4 September and is available for pre-order here.

About the Author

Barnabas Tew - ColumbkillNoonanPhoto

Columbkill Noonan lives in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, where she teaches yoga and Anatomy and Physiology.  Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. Her first novel, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab” by Crooked Cat Books, was released in 2017, and her latest work, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds”, is set to be released in September 2018.

In her spare time, Columbkill enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, aerial yoga, and riding her rescue horse, Mittens. 

Connect with Columbkill:


Facebook: Columbkill Noonan

Twitter: @columbkillnoon1

Instagram: Columbkill Noonan Author

Wrecker by Noel O’Reilly #BookReview #PublicationDay @HQstories @NetGalley #Wrecker #NetGalley


“Shipwrecks are part of life in the remote village of Porthmorven, Cornwall. And as the sea washes the bodies of the drowned onto the beach, it also brings treasures: barrels of liquor, exotic fruit, the chance to lift a fine pair of boots from a corpse, maybe even a jewel or two.

When, after a fierce storm, Mary Blight rescues a man half-dead from the sea, she ignores the whispers of her neighbours and carries him home to nurse better. Gideon Stone is a Methodist minister from Newlyn, a married man. Touched by Mary’s sacrifice and horrified by the superstitions and pagan beliefs the villagers cling to, Gideon sets out to bring light and salvation to Porthmorven by building a chapel on the hill.

But the village has many secrets and not everyone wants to be saved. As Mary and Gideon find themselves increasingly drawn together, jealousy, rumour and suspicion is rife. Gideon has demons of his own to face, and soon Mary’s enemies are plotting against her…”

I first came across stories of wreckers in one Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books when I was quite young. Five Go Down To The Sea was a book that had me reading saucer-eyed, late in to the night, as I heard the story of wicked people who used lights to lure boats onto the treacherous rocks of the Cornish coast so they could plunder the cargo of the sinking ship, careless of the lives of any passengers or crew on board. I was truly horrified that people could do something so evil, but fascinated at the same time and it must be true that childhood impressions stick because I have remained fascinated ever since.

Subsequently I discovered the books of Daphne du Maurier and, of course, Jamaica Inn deals with the same subject matter and has always been one of my favourites. So when I saw Wrecker on Netgalley, firstly its beautiful cover caught my eye but then, when I read the description, I knew I had to read it. However, I have ended up with mixed feelings about the book.

In some ways it did remind me of Jamaica Inn – the setting, the squalor of living conditions, the roughness of the people, plus they both have a mystery at the heart of them. However, there were a few ways in which Wrecker was the paler shadow of Jamaica Inn.

The writing was good. The author did a fantastic job of portraying the time period and the way of life of the people in this remote area of Cornwall at this time and the reasons why they would turn to such a heinous crime to enhance a way of life that was otherwise poverty-stricken. The book paints a very clear picture of the people, their dress and how they lived and there were some fascinating characters throughout the book. He captured the way of speaking in a way that felt authentic to the time period and differing social classes within the story.  There is also a strong thread of superstition running through it which was really interesting to explore.

One of the main strengths of the book for me was the depiction of the very clearly delineated social structures within the population at this time, along both class and gender lines and how much this affected individual’s lives and what they were able to do. The main character, Mary, is a maverick who is fighting against both her class and her gender which are holding her back. Even within their mean and lowly village, she is at the bottom of the pecking order and is being kept down by the ‘bettermost’ when she tries to alleviate herself, and also shamed as a woman for wanting any kind of autonomy or self-determination. Lack of a male figure in their household exacerbates the problem. It is a fascinating inside into a time period and way of life that is totally alien to us and I loved this aspect of the book.

The downside was the fact that none of the characters were very sympathetic. Mary is rough and prickly and bitter, which is understandable and forgivable, but she is also very selfish and entirely motivated by avarice. Her goals are shallow and self-serving. Even when she thinks about bettering herself, she wants to do so purely with her own increased comfort and importance in mind, with no thought given to also raising up her mother and sister and I found it very hard to be too sympathetic to her for this reason. Most of the problems she is having are self-inflicted, she is no victim of circumstance. Even when she sets her cap at other people’s partners, it is not from genuine love but either lust or materialism, which are hard motivations to make a reader get behind a protagonist. Similarly, the main male character is weak and not particularly compelling as a romantic hero. The only really likeable character in the book is Mary’s sister Tegen.

That being said, having a deeply flawed protagonist is not totally fatal to the book,  the plot was still involved enough to make it no hardship to read to the end. I was involved enough in watching the struggles within the social hierarchy play out that it carried me to the end. The mystery at the centre was a minor side interest and I was mildly interested but not desperate to know who did it. Everything got resolved very quickly at the end and it was quite dramatic but for some reason felt like a bit of a cop out.

My main complaint was that there was barely any reference to wrecking in this book, despite the title and I was a bit disappointed. There is a wreck at the beginning but we begin in the aftermath, but no clear details about how it is done, or whether it is the work or wreckers or an accident. It was not what I was hoping for and this has definitely coloured my opinion as well.

Overall, this is not a bad book and as an examination of social mores in a time and place long past it is fascinating but the actual characters and story left me unmoved and a little disappointed. The writing itself is good but not enough in itself to make this a book I will return to. This book has had a lot of hype and was snapped up quickly and for a substantial sum which added to my expectations but my overall feeling at the end was it did not live up to them and left me feeling ‘meh’.

Wrecker is out today and you buy a copy here.

My thanks to NetGalley and HQ for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author


Noel O’Reilly was a student on the New Writing South Advanced writing course. He has worked as a journalist and editor at the international business media company RBI, and is now a freelance writer. Wrecker is his first novel. He lived in Brighton with his wife and children.

Connect with Noel:




Song by Michelle Jana Chan #BlogTour (@michellejchan) @unbounders @annecater #Giveaway #Song #RandomThingsTours

Song Cover Image

“Song is just a boy when he sets out from Lishui village in China. Brimming with courage and ambition, he leaves behind his impoverished broken family hoping he’ll make his fortune and return home. Chasing tales of sugarcane, rubber and gold, Song embarks upon a perilous voyage across the globe to the British colony of Guiana, but once there he discovers riches are not so easy to come by and he is forced into labouring as an indentured plantation worker.

This is only the beginning of Song’s remarkable life, but as he finds himself between places and between peoples, and increasingly aware that the circumstances of birth carry more weight than accomplishments or good deeds, Song fears he may live as an outsider forever.

This beautifully written and evocative story spans nearly half a century and half the globe, and though it is set in another century, Song’s story of emigration and the quest for an opportunity to improve his life is timeless.”

Isn’t the cover of this book just beautiful? It is so gorgeous and colourful, I have to have a physical copy to grace my bookshelf and you get an enthralling, epic journey of a story inside to boot.

To celebrate publication of this wonderful book, we have one copy to give away. To be in with a chance of winning, simply leave a comment at the bottom of this post telling me which is your favourite ever book cover. The winner will be picked at random. UK ENTRIES ONLY PLEASE.

If you are not lucky enough to win the copy, you can buy the book here.

Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for offering me a place on the tour and to the author and publisher, Unbound, for my copy of the book and the copy for the competition.

If you would like to read some reviews of the book. please follow the tour below:

Song Blog Tour Poster

About the Author

Michelle Chan Author Picture

 Michelle Jana Chan is an award-winning journalist and travel editor of Vanity Fair. She’s also contributing editor at Condé Nast Traveller, presenter of the BBC’s Global Guide and a writer for the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and Travel & Leisure. Michelle has been named the Travel Media Awards’ Travel Writer of the Year. She was a Morehead-Cain scholar at the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Connect with Michelle:


Facebook: M J Chan

Twitter: @michellejchan

Instagram: @michellejchan

Goodreads: Michelle Jana Chan

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