Book Review for THE HEATWAVE by Kate Riordan

the heatwave kate riordon

SYNOPSIS

Elodie was beautiful. Elodie was smart. Elodie was troubled. Elodie is dead.

Sylvie hasn’t been back to her crumbling French family home in years. Not since the death of her eldest daughter Elodie.

Every corner of the old house feels haunted by memories of her – memories she has tried to forget.

But as temperatures rise, and forest fires rage through the French countryside, a long-buried family secret is about to come to light.

Because there’s something Sylvie’s been hiding about what really happened to Elodie that summer.

And it could change everything.

MY THOUGHTS

Oh how I loved this book!

It had all the ingredients I like in a novel. A tense psychological thriller, a buried past, sun, heat and the South Of France.  What a great book to loose yourself in at the moment.

I was whisked off to the building heat and tensions of a heatwave gripping The South of France as we follow Sylvie, as she heads back to France, to her old family home after receiving a letter to say there has been some damage to the empty property after a small fire.  Born and raised in France, Sylvie has been living in London for over 10 years, seemingly leaving home after traumatic events.  Needing to take her daughter with her she reluctantly heads off with a view to sort things out and finally put the house on the market, where it can be sold and finally gotten rid of once and for all.

As we enter the house and dust off its cobwebs so too do we learn, via flashbacks, of the mysteries that surround Sylvie’s first daughter Elodie, a brilliantly created character. The fear, pain and love that Sylvie experienced back then is wonderfully written along with the day to day happenings, some compellingly mysterious, that take place as we stay at La Reverie.  Evocative and captivating, tiny details in the narrative superbly evoke time and place with wonderful characters and the gradual build of tension throughout the book.

We slowly learn of the story that surrounds Elodie and read the reactions of both family and locals as the truths begin to surface.  Like the summer fires that surround the village, enclosing in on the house, so does the past and bringing with it it’s present danger.

Wonderful smaller characters add even more to the novel, bringing with then their own perspectives and past actions.

I don’t want to give any more of the story line away and spoil it for another reader but I was utterly absorbed in this book and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.  A sultry thriller that also had a wonderful dose of the french sun and way of life.  This has definitely gone into my top five reads of the year so far.  Loved it!!!

Available from BookShop.org https://uk.bookshop.org/a/1882/9781405922623

Amazon EBook https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heatwave-southern-gripping-psychological-suspense-ebook/dp/B08111P5CS/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3HEX5TP2I81CO&dchild=1&keywords=the+heatwave+kate+riordan&qid=1604425610&s=books&sprefix=the+heatwave%2Cstripbooks%2C173&sr=1-1

#bookreview #paperbackrelease THE NOTHING MAN by @cathryanhoward @CorvusBooks @AtlanticBooks

Paperback cover

SYNOPSIS

I was the girl who survived the Nothing Man.
Now I am the woman who is going to catch him…

You’ve just read the opening pages of The Nothing Man, the true crime memoir Eve Black has written about her obsessive search for the man who killed her family nearly two decades ago.

Supermarket security guard Jim Doyle is reading it too, and with each turn of the page his rage grows. Because Jim was – is – the Nothing Man.

The more Jim reads, the more he realises how dangerously close Eve is getting to the truth. He knows she won’t give up until she finds him. He has no choice but to stop her first…

MY THOUGHTS

I finished reading this book yesterday and I was utterly gripped. Wow! What a read.

The concept and structure of this novel sounds really complicated. A serial killer, who has remained uncaught for 20 years, reads a book written by a survivor of his last attack. In it she describes the attacks, what it has done to her and how she longs still to find out who he is, catch him and punish him. The narration switches from the killer to the survivor in present time, the attacks from when they happened in the past (and which are described quite vividly) and we also read in this novel from the true crime book, also called The Nothing Man, written by the survivor and being read by the killer!! Wow! Not your average time switching story, no. What this is is a wonderfully skilfully structured novel, which is extremely imaginative, totally gripping yet also really easy to follow.

As the synopsis reads, we meet Eve, now 30 years old, and hear of the night which changed her life completely. The night The Nothing Man, so called because the police had nothing on him, commits his fifth and final attack over a two year period back in 2000/1. Through her narration and the text taken from the book she has written we learn of that night, her life afterwards, and her investigation whilst writing the book. We also follow Jim Doyle in present day, as his world becomes untethered by reading the contents of The Nothing Man.

This is a really hard one to review, without giving any of the story away. Not only is the book a thrill to read because of it’s imaginative structure but it is also a great thriller full of shock, twists, heartbreak, and a constant low lying feeling of menace around it. The author wonderfully gets into the heads of all the characters and you really feel for the victims. The attacks are described quite graphically and the fear of the victims leaps from the pages. The aftermath of the attacks are also well portrayed and you really get a sense of what horror The Nothing Man has leased. There is a really great constant feel of imminent danger in this book which made for a great thriller.

The story moves at a perfect pace and the details and events come together superbly keeping me glued to the page with a great ending finishing off the book. I’ve read a lot of thriller/phycological thrillers over the last couple of years but this book took that genre up a notch, if you like your thrillers dark, but are in a bit of a slump, read this! It’s like nothing else out there.

ESSEX BOOK FESTIVAL 2021 WORDS MATTER HYBRID PROGRAMME #EssexBookFest @EssexBookFest

6th June – 29th August

essexbookfestival.org.uk | @EssexBookFest | #essexbookfestival

I’M DELIGHTED TO BE ABLE TO SHARE WITH YOU THE LINE UP FOR THIS YEARS ESSEX BOOK FESTIVAL. THERE ARE SOME FANTASTIC NAMES ON THE LIST AND I CAN’T WAIT TO CHECK OUT THE ON LINE AND IN PERSON EVENTS HAPPENING OVER THE 3 MONTHS WHICH IT RUNS FOR. LIVING IN SUFFOLK ESSEX IS LITERALY ‘UP THE ROAD’ FOR ME, SO I DEFINATELY WILL BE ATTENDING AS MANY AS I CAN.

Events include:

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT ESSEX GIRLS| REWRITING THE ARCHIVE | POLAND TODAY: WOMEN, CENSORSHIP AND HUMAN RIGHTS | IN MY STEPS: RADICAL WALKS IN ESSEX | ESSEX BOOK CAMP | MASKED| SHE HEALS | LIBRARY LOVE LETTERS | CRIMINALLY GOOD DAY | ESSEX WRITERS HOUSE | POETRY IN LOCKDOWN

With Authors, Artists & Speakers:

MONIQUE ROFFEY| MAT OSMAN | CLAIRE FULLER | ALEXANDRA WILSON | ALISON WEIR| IAIN DALE | SAMANTHA LEE HOWE | BEN OKRI  | MARINA WARNER | GAVIN ESLER | ELIZABETH HAYNES | CRAIG BROWN | PATRICK VERNON | CHRISTINE PENHALL | DAVID OMAND | SARAH PERRY | JUSTIN SOMPER | LIZ TRENROW |AGNIESZKA DALE | SYLWIA CHUTNIK | LEAH CROSS| GEORGINA HARDING |  BARRY FORSHAW | SARAH PERRY | SYD MOORE | SADIE HASLER | GLENYS NEWTON | MAJID ADIN | JOHN TARROW | DELAINE LE BAS | LOUISE HARE | DR HILARY JONES | DORIAN KELLY |JAMES CANTON | HARTLE O’HARE | KEN WORPOLE | GILLIAN DARLEY | ABIGAIL DEAN | TAMMYE HUF | NAOMI ISHIGURO | A.K. BLAKEMORE | KEN WORPOLE | ALEC MARSH |   FRANCES FYFIELD  | NIGEL SIMEONE  | PERRIAM GERALDINE  | SOPHIE HERXHEIMER |  JAMES CANTON  | TOM KING | NICOLA WERENOWSKA  | LILY HUNTER GREEN  | ESSEX STEAMETTES  | SALLY GARDNER  | LYDIA CORRY |  ROB RAMSDEN | INBAL LEITNER |  DEBORAH CHANCELLOR |  ROSE ROBBINS |  MARJOKE HENRICHS |  NEIL D’ARCY JONES |  JOSIE DOM  |  ANGENITA HARDY BOWERS | MADDY GLENN

Essex Book Festival is thrilled to announce its spectacular extended summer programme, combining digital and in-person events with a WORDS MATTER theme at its core.

Spanning across three months from 6th June to 29th August, the Festival will be welcoming over 200 speakers to take part in 100 events in 40 venues across Essex, including a new international digital twinning with Emerging Writers Festival, a kindred festival in Melbourne, and the inaugural Essex Book Camp hosted at Cressing Temple Barns, home to the World’s oldest solid oak beam barn and erstwhile stronghold of the mysterious Knights Templar.  

The festival opens with its WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT ESSEX GIRLSLAUNCH, a digital event featuring three fabulously talented, feisty and fearless women of Essex: Sarah Perry, Syd Moore, Sadie Hasler. Join them in a candid and comic discussion as they dismantle the Essex stereotypes and reshape expectations.

Set to entertain, challenge and inspire, this year’s programme combines a series of author events tackling issues such as race, gender, and the politics of borders, running in tandem with eight intriguing artist led walks fresh off the press for 2021: In My Steps: Radical Walks in Essex;  author talks galore featuring the likes of beloved Costa Book of the Year Winner Monique Roffey, barrister, activist and debut author Alexandra Wilson, rock star-turned-author Mat Osman of Suede fame, and much loved historian Alison Weir. All shining a light on the extraordinary creativity of Essex. 

Meanwhile, this year’s first ever Essex Book Camp and festival finale, will be packed with a huge array of events, including bookish conversations and debates with Dr Hilary Jones, novelist Georgina Harding and others; family writing workshops, storytelling, dance, circus, live music, inventive eco-crafts, plus complimentary drop-in family yoga sessions to help festival goers relax into the scenic landscape of Cressing Temple Barns’ rural idyll.  In other words, an August Bank Holiday paradise for book lovers and others alike!

With events taking place in venues and locations as diverse as Jaywick Martello Tower; Clacton Library; the UK’s most extraordinary house, Talliston House & Gardens; Harlow Museum; The Witches Trail, which extends from Manningtree to Mistley; Layer Marney Tower, one of Henry VIII’s favourite Tudor palaces; Hadleigh Country Park; Canvey Heights, one of the UK’s lowest flying mountains; and HMP/YOI Chelmsford, expect the unexpected: this is an odyssey not to be missed.

Ros Green, Festival Director of Essex Book Festival, said: “We are so excited about this year’s extended hybrid Essex Book Festival, which will be taking place online and in person in 40+ venues across Essex, June 6th – 29th August. Not just because it’s actually happening – a huge hurrah to that – but because of all the great new things in the mix. Whether that’s the inspired digital twinning between our Southend-based Pop Up Essex Writers House and kindred spirit Melbourne-based Emerging Writers Festival; something we would never have considered pre-pandemic. Our fascinatingly feisty launch event: We Need To Talk About Essex Girls, featuring 3 leading Essex Girls: Sarah Perry, Syd Moore and Sadie Hasler. Get those Essex Girls jokes at the ready. Or a walk or two on the wild side with our new series of In My Steps: Radical Walks in Essex led by the likes of Ken Worpole, James Canton and Gillian Darley. Watch out for those low-flying mountains on Canvey Island! It really is all to play for in 2021, so come and join in the fun.” 

Tickets will be going on sale online from 29 April 2021

FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS

NEWS & CURRENT AFFAIRS

LBC radio presenter and political commentator Iain Dale heads to the Cramphorn Theatre to discuss his empowering part-polemic, part-memoir book Why Can’t We All Just Get Along: Shout Less and Listen More. Scottish journalist and TV presenter Gavin Esler will be talking to Professor Lorna Fox O’ Mahoney about his latest book How Britain Ends, which analyzes the fraying ties binding the UK together. Agnieszka Dale, Sylwia Chutnik and Index on Censorship’s Leah Cross will be joining forces to talk about Poland Today: Women, Censorship and Human Rights; a conversation around why women and the LGBTQ+ community in Poland have been silenced and marginalized under the current right-wing, populist government and how this has impacted literature. Windrush campaigner Patrick Vernon OBE will be appearing at Basildon Library to discuss his book 100 Great Black Britons, which explores the role Black Britons have played in the island’s history over the past thousand years and the continued inequality faced by black communities across the UK.

OUT AND ABOUT

Taking the festival to the great outdoors is In My Steps: Radical Walks in Essex, a series of artist-led walks to be hosted by Tom King, Syd Moore, Dorian Kelly, James Canton, Hartle O’Hare, Ken Worpole and Gillian Darley. Join them as they explore Canvey Island, follow in the footsteps of John Ball in Colchester, bunker down with the Roundheads on Marks Hall Estate, keep time with the Essex Witches between Mistley and Manningtree, take a closer look at St Peter on the Wall Church, one of the UK’s oldest buildings. These ventures are interweaved with the history and politics of the county, and are sure to shine a new light on Essex.

AUTHOR TALKS: FICTION & NON-FICTION

Fiction fans will be spoilt for choice with the line-up of literary superstars, including award-winning author Monique Roffey whowill be joining the festival to discuss herpoignant novelThe Mermaid of Black Conch. Critically acclaimed novelist Claire Fuller will talk about her latest novel Unsettled Ground, which has been long listed for the 2021 Women’s Fiction Prize. New York Times bestseller Liz Trenow will be at Billericay Library presenting her latest coming of age, mystery The Secrets of the Lake, while and writer, presenter and podcaster Christine Penhall will be visiting Clacton Library to discuss her sun-drenched summer read The House That Bult Alice.

Offering a host of fresh new talent, Essex Book Festival welcomes Observer Top 10 Debut novelist Louise Hare to speak about her critically acclaimed novel This Lovely City. Abigail Dean will share insights into research behind her Sunday Times bestseller Girl A. Tammye Huf will discuss her hugely popular debut A More Perfect Union. Novelist Naomi Ishiguro will introduce her fiction debut Common Ground. A.K. Blakemore will talk us through the events that inspired her first novel The Manningtree Witches.

In addition, audiences will be treated to in conversations with ex-Director of GCHQ David Omand who will be recounting the lessons learnt from a career at the top of the espionage tree; Wild Writer and this year’s Essex Read James Canton will be heading to Colchester Library to discuss his latest book The Oak Papers, and Essex writer and journalist Tom King will be discussing his new edition of Thames Estuary Trail – A Journey round the End of the World.

For crime aficionados, the festival’s Criminally Good Day returns with Samantha Lee Howe sharing the success of her latest thriller House of Killers, and author and bassist of British rock band Suede Mat Osman who will betalking about his new novel The Ruins. Other highlights include family law barrister Alexandra Wilson who will be sharing the story behind her moving memoir In Black and White, and fellow lawyer and crime writer Frances Fyfield who will be joined in conversation with Nigel Simeone and Perriam Geraldine as they explore the life of Patricia Highsmith.

Other authors taking to the digital and hybrid stage includemythographer and culturalhistorian Marina Warner, who will joined by artist Sophie Herxheimer to talk about the remarkable family legends behind her latest book Inventory of a Life Mislaid – An unreliable Memoir. Alison Weir heads to Layer Marney Tower, to recount the extraordinary history that’s at the heart of her book Katherine Parr, The Sixth Wife. While critic and satirist Craig Brown and local broadcast legend Tony Fisher are set to discuss Brown’s funny and enlightening One, Two, Three, Four: The Beatles In Time – Winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2020.

POETRY, THEATRE & ART

The legendary Ben Okri will be joined by Dr Jak Peake in a virtual event to discuss his latest work A Fire in My Head, covering topics ranging from Grenfell Tower, the refugee crisis to the impact of Covid 19.

Playwright Nicola Werenowska presents a live digital viewing of her new play MASKED. Contemporary composer and visual artist Lily Hunter Green collaborates with Essex Steamettes – a group of young female digital coders aged 9-19 years – to present a new immersive work SHE HEALSat the Old Waterworks Gallery, Southend. While Chelmsford Library hosts Poetry in Lockdown tolaunch an inspiring collection of poems and artwork created by the prisoners at HMP/YOI Chelmsford reflecting the challenges they faced during the peak of the pandemic.

FAMILY

The Young Essex programme returns this year with a series of special events. These include an online author talk with Justin Somper about his bestselling children’s series Vampirates; a Makaton Workshop with Ace Music Therapy CIC; The Tindims of Rubbish Island Workshop with Mother and Daughter team and budding ecologists Sally Gardner and Lydia Corry at Old Harlow Library. And, of course, the fabulous Essex Book Camp at Cressing Temple Barns where  families can enjoy  some of  East Anglia’s finest storytellers; Scallywag Books children’s authors Rob Ramsden, Inbal Leitner, Deborah Chancellor, Rose Robbins and Marjoke Henrichs who will be running a rolling programme of workshops and author readings throughout the day; children’s writer Josie Dom’s crafty sports extravaganza Animalympics; traditional sun-printing with artist Angenita Hardy Bowers,Active Essex’s family yoga sessions …

WORKSHOPS

The Pop-Up Essex Writers House returns for a fourth year to host a three-month programme of writing workshops and activities at Chalkwell Hall in Southend. Events include a series of in-person and digital author events; Creative Journaling Workshop: Walk, Swim, Write Session: Fens, Forests & Fields: Bike Ride; Library Love Letters; Writers Hot Desks

Other workshops highlights include Writing the Wild with James Canton; Period Writing Workshop with Alec Marsh; How to Write Your First Novel Workshop with musician-turned-author Mat Osman, and industry expert and editor Maddy Glenn who will berevealing top tips on self-editing with her digital Successful Self-Editing and Routes to Self-Publishing Workshop.

Essex Book Festival is hosting a series of Rewriting the Archive Digital Workshops in partnership with Harlow Museum, Southend Museum and Thurrock Museum. Workshop leaders include UK-based Polish writer Agnieszka Dale, Essex writer and activist Syd Moore, and British Romany contemporary artist and performer Delaine Le Bas.

The festival is also hosting a series of Writing the Place Workshops as part of its’ Story Hunter Project and Flash Fiction Competition designed to get people out and about exploring Essex, while honing their writing skills at the same time. The workshops will be led by Jonathan Crane, Glenys Newton & Majid Adin, Agnieszka Dale and A.K. Blakemore.

FESTIVAL PARTNERS

Arts Council England, University of Essex, Essex County Council, Chelmsford City Council, Thurrock Council, Harlow Council, Colchester Borough Council, Essex Cultural Diversity Project, Explore Essex, BBC Essex, and Essex 2020.

PRESS CONTACT: MIDAS

Please contact Midas for further information, interviews requests and accreditation:

Gabriella Drinkald Senior Account Executive| Gabriella.Drinkald@midaspr.co.uk | 07894 587828

GABRIELLA DRINKALD

SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE

gabriella.drinkald@midaspr.co.uk

#newrelease #bookreview CHARITY by @MDewhurst3 @EyeAndLightning

Charity by Madeline Dewhurst

Published April 26th 2021

Publisher Lightning Books

300 pages

Huge thanks to the publishers Lightning Books and to Simon for sending me this copy for review.

SYNOPSIS

Edith, an elderly widow with a large house in an Islington garden square, needs a carer. Lauren, a nail technician born in the East End, needs somewhere to live. A rent-free room in lieu of pay seems the obvious solution, even though the pair have nothing in common.

Or do they? Why is Lauren so fascinated by Edith’s childhood in colonial Kenya? Is Paul, the handsome lodger in the basement, the honest broker he appears? And how does Charity, a Kenyan girl brutally tortured during the Mau Mau rebellion, fit into the equation?

Capturing the spirited interplay between two women divided by class, generation and a deeper gulf from the past, and offering vivid flashbacks to 1950s East Africa, Madeline Dewhurst’s captivating debut spins a web of secrets and deceit where it’s not always obvious who is the spider and who is the fly.

MY THOUGHTS

This debut novel from author Madeline Dewhurst centres around 1950’s East Africa and the conflict between the Mau Mau and the British authorities. A period in time I knew little about, is brought vividly, shockingly and with great skill to the readers attention. Moving back and forth between present day England and Kenya between 1947-1959 we follow Edith an elderly widow once married to a Captain Graham Forbes, who she met out in Kenya were she grew up. Now living in London, we are first introduced to her when she is interviewing for a live in carer and it is the interviewee, Lauren, who opens the story.

Beautician Lauren, currently staying with a friend, after being pushed out of home by her step-father and mother, takes up the job and moves into Edith’s house a week after the interview. A large house, it also has a tenant in the basement flat, Paul. The opening chapter, and indeed the synopsis on the back cover, gives an immediate impression that this take up of a new job isn’t as straight forward as one may expect.

With the chapters moving back and forth in time we learn of Edith’s childhood as a white European living in Kenya, her then young friend Mary and also of a young woman called Charity who is caught out in the town alone, having missed her bus back to school one evening. In present day Islington we read as Edith dreams of her old friend, struggles to get on with her daughter and learn more about Graham Forbes. But what is Lauren’s link to Edith and is she looking for more than just a rent free room?

I found myself totally immersed in this novel from very early on. The author writes with great skill and a wonderfully flowing style that is very readable. A great mix of characters are vividly brought to life with a seemingly effortless style and there is great dialogue between Edith and Lauren as they get to know each other. The author portrays the characters extremely well and is able to write extremely effectively whatever age, class or culture they are from. She switches between Edith and her struggles that her age bring her, Lauren and her vulnerability linked to her family and the horrors experienced by Charity in Kenya. It was however these local women in Kenya that drew me in the most and their story was at some points shocking to read. It is this bringing together of factual elements and fictional novel that make this an extremely original and engaging read and one that I would highly recommend.

Without giving away too much of the story or plot, this is a novel that looks at culpability and the complicit, and examines revenge, guilt, wealth, and generational differences. It is also a page turning, thrilleresque read with great characters which had me guessing right up to the very end! With a heart wrenching story at it’s centre this is one debut novel I strongly recommend you check out! It’s released Monday, April 26th.

#BOOKREVIEW #NEWRELEASE The Whispers by Heidi Perks #THEWHISPERS @penguinrandomhouse @Rachel90Kennedy

Huge thanks to Rachel Kennedy at Penguin Random House for my proof copy of Heidi Perk’s new novel THE WHISPERS. Having enjoyed Heidi’s books before I couldn’t wait to read this new release.

SYNOPSIS

A MISSING WIFE. FOUR FRIENDS. WHO IS TELLING THE TRUTH?

Anna Robinson hasn’t been seen since she went on a night out with her four closest friends.
She has a loving husband and a son she adores. Surely she wouldn’t abandon them and her perfect life. . .

But what has happened to her?

At the school gates, it’s not long before the rumours start. Anna’s oldest friend Grace is beside herself with worry – desperately searching for answers, and certain that someone is hiding the truth.

With each day that passes, Anna’s life is under increasing threat. And a the pressure mounts, it won’t be long before something cracks. . .

MY THOUGHTS

As with Come Back For Me, the author grabs your attention with a great opening, the discovery of a body, OK! But what follows is a slow burning psychological thriller and an insightful look at female friendship, ‘school gate politics’ and loyalty.

On returning home to Clearwater after 20 years, Grace alone with her daughter, as her husband works away, is keen to rekindle her friendship with her old best friend Anna, but Anna has moved on and her new set of friends aren’t willing to share. One night, after a Christmas get-together, Anna goes missing, yet no-one seems to want to involve the police……. so Grace sets out to find some answers. Right from the start something within the friendship group feels ‘off’ and reading chapters from Anna’s visits to a therapist, 3 months earlier, the mystery thickens and provides a wonderful slow burning build of tension.

The story is told from the perspectives of the 2 main characters but each of them give us a different view or take on past events, therefore only slowly revealing a true picture for the reader to understand which then is only completed in the third and final part of the story. A bit like the quiz show Catchphrase. Don’t know why that just popped into my head, but you know what I mean…right? 🙂

This build of tension and the author’s way of slowly giving us more and more information had my trust in Anna and Grace flipping one way to the next, to then not knowing who to believe at all! Plus what of Anna’s friends? None of them I particularly liked – are they involved some how?

As Grace’s obsession , and it really does become an obsession, over Anna grows, we come to the final part and the unexpected and unpredictable ending that was……. well you can find out if you read it!

A novel that isn’t just a phycological thriller but a story of intense friendship and how different people remember the past.

The Three Locks by Bonnie MacBird #bookreview #newrelease @macbird @janeacton_pr @HarperCollinsUK

Cover Image

RELEASED APRIL 1ST 2021

PUBLISHED BY COLLINS CRIME CLUB

IN HARDBACK, EBOOK, AUDIO DOWNLOAD

As both a Sherlock fan and a lover of Victorian crime novels, I was delighted when I received this wonderful hardback copy of Bonnie MacBird’s new Sherlock Holmes adventure, The Three Locks. The fourth novel in the series, but in this case a prequel to the other three, it can easily be read as a standalone or without having read the rest in the series.

Huge thanks to Jane Acton for my advanced copy.

SYNOPSIS

A heatwave melts London as Holmes and Watson are called to action in this new Sherlock Holmes adventure by Bonnie MacBird, author of “one of the best Sherlock Holmes novels of recent memory.”

In the West End, a renowned Italian escape artist dies spectacularly on stage during a performance – immolated in a gleaming copper cauldron of his wife’s design. In Cambridge, the runaway daughter of a famous don is found drowned, her long blonde hair tangled in the Jesus Lock on the River Cam. And in Baker Street, a mysterious locksmith exacts an unusual price to open a small silver box sent to Watson.

From the glow of London’s theatre district to the buzzing Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge where physicists explore the edges of the new science of electricity, Holmes and Watson race between the two cities to solve the murders, encountering prevaricating prestidigitators, philandering physicists and murderous mentalists, all the while unlocking secrets which may be best left undisclosed. And one, in particular, is very close to home.

MY THOUGHTS

The fourth novel in this acclaimed series by author Bonnie MacBird, THE THREE LOCKS, takes the reader to a sweltering London and Cambridge of September 1887 as they experience an unusually hot Indian Summer.

A prequel to the other three titles in her Sherlock Holmes Adventure series, it can easily be read as a standalone or without having previously read the other novels.

The first of the ‘locks’ involves a mysterious ornate box , sent to Watson from an unknown Aunt Elspeth, with profound apologies that she had forgotten to give this to him on his 21st birthday! A little late then as we find Watson six years into sharing rooms with Holmes at the age of 35. It was left for him, with the forgetful aunt, by Watson’s mother, who had drowned when Watson was a young boy. Unable to open it and with no idea as to what might be inside, he decides to try a couple of local locksmiths.

The second lock refers to the renowned Italian escape artist called the Great Borelli and his wife Madam Ilaria Borelli, who visits Sherlock asking for his help with the rivalry between her husband and another magician, Santo Colangelo and the third refers to the Jesus Lock in Cambridge on the River Cam, where the end comes for an independent thinking daughter of a well known don, who’s disappearance is brought to the attention of Holmes by a local Deacon and friend to the missing young woman.

Working the two cases, Holmes and Watson travel back and forth between London and Cambridge in the oppressive late summer heat, finding themselves in trouble with the police, lied to by the suspects and in physical danger!

I found this new book yet another wonderfully researched, highly enjoyable adventure, where I got to enjoy the delights of not just 2 old friends, but also a cast of entertaining characters, including some wonderfully strong and capable women. The interaction between Holmes and Watson is wonderful to read and portrayed brilliantly by the author. For me Sherlock had a delightful Jeremy Brett ‘flavour’ , the pursing of the lips and closing of the eyes when thinking, the dismissive wave of the arm. She had the mannerisms and banter between the two character just right. The plot and story moves at a great pace and things are always happening, keeping the reader both entertained and engaged. The short chapters help with the quick flow and the drop-cap with its picture relating to each new chapter was a really nice touch to the book.

Cambridge and London are wonderfully portrayed in the story and I followed the author’s online annotations, which gave a lovely visual aid and some extra information to add to the enjoyment.

A great read for any Sherlock fans but also for those that like their crime with a strong Victorian flavour.

#blogtour #bookreview LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO by @Mrssmithmunday @orionbooks @alexxlayt

Published 1 April 2021 Hardback, eBook and Audio

Published by Orion Books

It’s my spot on the blog tour today for Nikki Smith’s new novel LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO. This is Nikki’s second book and she’s written another cracker of a read! Many thanks to the publisher and to Alex Layt for my invite onto the tour and for my proof copy.

cover image

SYNOPSIS

Two people can keep a secret . . . if one of them is dead.

Sisters Jo and Caroline are used to hiding things from each other. They’ve never been close – taking it in turns to feel on the outside of their family unit, playing an endless game of favourites.

Jo envies Caroline’s life – things have always come so easy to her. Then a family inheritance falls entirely to Jo, and suddenly now Caroline wants what Jo has. Needs it, even.

But just how far will she go to get it?

MY THOUGHTS

After reading Nikki’s first novel ALL IN HER HEAD and finding it a brilliant read, I couldn’t wait for the chance to read her second novel LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO.

We follow two sisters, Jo and Caroline, after the death of their father. The two have never been close, favouritism by different parents, troubled teenage years for Jo, has left their relationship somewhat icy. But after years of Jo living miles away, she and her family have recently returned ‘home’, to work for the family business. However, after the reading of the will shows that their father has left a majority share to Jo, Caroline and her mother start to become concerned as to what cause of action Jo will take. We then get taken on a utterly gripping tale of secrets and lies, and the reader is given privy to a dark side of one marriage.

Wow! This book was a total page turner! Complex and extremely well written, I was gripped from the very first chapter. The suspense, tension and descriptions of a toxic marriage were horrific and yet I couldn’t tear my eyes off it! Amazingly portrayed. Each and every character in the book has secrets they are keeping from the others, but in the case of the female characters, still allowing the reader to feel sympathy for each of them. A fantastic blend of psychological thriller and suspense with an engaging and absorbing family story.

What stood out for me though was the way the author kept the tension and suspense of this novel going. Like a taut piece of string, always on the verge of snapping, she feeds the reader enough information, twists and turns to keep you utterly gripped, yet at the same time keeps you in the dark and guessing for as long as she possible can. I couldn’t stop reading, desperate to know what direction the story was taking next, who’s secrets were about to be discovered and what even those secrets were!

With a brilliant ending that brings the book to a full circle, this is another smashing read from Nikki Smith and one I would highly recommend!

#BookReview THE FAVOUR by Laura Vaughan @LVaughanwrites @RandomTTours @CorvusBooks

Publisher: Corvus Books

Published: March 4th 2021 in Hardback, eBook and Audiobook

Many thanks to Anne Cater, Random Things Tours and the publisher for my gorgeous hardback gifted copy and for having me on the blog tour today.

SYNOPSIS

When she was thirteen years old, Ada Howell lost not just her father, but the life she felt she was destined to lead. Now, at eighteen, Ada is given a second chance when her wealthy godmother gifts her with an extravagant art history trip to Italy.

In the palazzos of Venice, the cathedrals of Florence and the villas of Rome, she finally finds herself among the kind of people she aspires to be: sophisticated, cultured, privileged. Ada does everything in her power to prove she is one of them. And when a member of the group dies in suspicious circumstances, she seizes the opportunity to permanently bind herself to this gilded set.

But everything hidden must eventually surface, and when it does, Ada discovers she’s been keeping a far darker secret than she could ever have imagined…

MY THOUGHTS

I was initially drawn to this book, not just by the gorgeous cover (Yes, I am that person), but also by the story’s description of art, Italy and a suspicious death. Well for me it was a no brainer and I couldn’t wait to get hold of a copy and get stuck in! The story I found however goes much deeper, looking at youth, privilege money and status, friendship and identity. All this and more, wrapped in a wonderfully evocative mix of the beauty of Venice, Florence and Rome, the historical opulence of Italian Art and Architecture and the highly charged dynamics of a set of wealthy young things and their fickle and selfish nature.

Ever since Ada’s life changed at 13 years old and was forced to leave her beloved home, Garreg Las, in remote Wales, to live with her mother in Brockly London, she has had a constant feeling that ‘This was not my life’. A step father she misses, a status she believes was her natural right, coupled with a mother that has moved on and just wants to put the past behind her, Ada has always been looking for a way ‘back in’. At the offer from her eccentric and well off Aunt she books onto a modern day ‘Grand Tour’ of Italy. A chance she sees to mix with and befriend ‘the kind of people she aspires to be: sophisticated, cultured, privileged.’ Introducing herself to them, with a slightly varnished persona, she is desperate to become a part of their group. An event occurs at the end of the trip which, in a split second, Ada seizes the opportunity to provide some of them with ‘A Favour’. A secret that will have them grateful and indebted to her forever. However, secrets can often be discovered.

This was a super read, which I enjoyed very much. I was drawn in instantly and remained that way throughout the whole book. The settings were a joy to read, the slow burning tension builds wonderfully and the ever present sinister and sometimes ruthlessness of this group was delicious! Full of lies, secrets, twists and red herrings, with everyone looking over their shoulder or trying to cover their own back, are any of them really friends? Or is it just a question of who’s allowed inside and who isn’t?

Complex, insightful and engaging, I found this a well written novel and as the first novel for adults by this author, I look forward to her writing more.

THE AUTHOR

From Laura Vaughan’s Amazon Author Page: I’m the author of “The Favour”, which I like to think of as ‘gilded youth noir ‘ – i.e. it’s about bright young things behaving very badly! It’s inspired by the gorgeousness of Italy but also Wales: I grew up on the edges of the Brecon Beacons, which has given me a life-long love of wild landscapes and ancient myths. As a teenager, I studied Art History in Italy, then Classics at Bristol and Oxford. After five years working in publishing I left to focus on my own writing career, publishing eleven books for children and teenagers under the name Laura Powell. “The Favour” is my first novel for adults and although the murder and mystery aspect is obviously not autobiographical, some of the art history course hi-jinks just *might* be… I live in South London with my husband and two young children, and escape to Wales as often as I can.

Find me on Twitter @LVaughanwrites or visit http://www.lauravaughanauthor.com

THE DARE BY LESLEY KARA #bookreview #TheDare @penguinrandomhouse @alisonbarrow @LesleyKara

Published March 4th by Bantam Press

Available in Hardback

Signed Independent Bookshop edition available from Blackwell’s and other retailers

Affiliated link: https://www.blackwells.co.uk/?a_aid=babbageandsweetcorn

SYNOPSIS

As a child, it was just a game. As an adult, it was a living nightmare.

‘This time it’s different. She’s gone too far now.
She really has.’

When teenage friends Lizzie and Alice decide to head off for a walk in the countryside, they are blissfully unaware that this will be their final day together – and that only Lizzie will come back alive.

Lizzie has no memory of what happened in the moments before Alice died, she only knows that it must have been a tragic accident. But as she tries to cope with her grief, she is shocked to find herself alienated from Alice’s friends and relatives. They are convinced she somehow had a part to play in her friend’s death.

Twelve years later, unpacking boxes in the new home she shares with her fiancé, Lizzie is horrified to find long-buried memories suddenly surfacing. Is the trauma of the accident finally catching up with her, or could someone be trying to threaten her new-found happiness?

Twelve years is a long time to wait, when you’re planning the perfect revenge . . .

MY THOUGHTS

Lizzie suffers from epilepsy, but over the last two years her medication is working well and she has had no major seizures. She is seriously thinking of taking that step and going to University. Still grieving over the death of her best friend Alice, 12 years ago, in a tragic accident, things haven’t always been this good, however with a recent move to a new house with her boyfriend Ross, a GP, things are looking good.

They have decided on having a housewarming party, and although Lizzie is a little nervous, few of her friends will be there, well none actually, she is still determined to enjoy it. However…….. there is a guest that’s about to turn everything up side down for Lizzie and drag her back to her childhood. Is she ready to re live her past and deal with events she can’t even remember properly?

This is another well written, character rich, thriller from author Lesley Kara. I’ve enjoyed both her previous two books, The Rumour and Who Did You Tell? and I couldn’t wait to read this third and new novel.

A small number of characters allowed the story to really concentrate on each of them, giving the reader a really good sense of their personalities. I enjoy that about Lesley’s books, she really brings her main character to life, making me warm to them instantly. Lesley also carefully and thoughtfully deals with the main character’s epilepsy and uses it well within the story line.

Scattered with red herrings, and a big twist, I found this a fast paced, psychological thriller. Told in two different time lines the story builds as we are given the pieces which allow us to work out what really happened 12 years ago and why. The tension build up in the later part of the book was brilliant!

Many thanks to Alison Barrow of Transworld Books for my super hardback copy. The Dare is out today!

#blogtour #bookreview NICK BY MICHAEL FARRIS SMITH @noexitpress @oldcastlebooks #nicknovel @michael_f_smith

PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 25TH 2021

BY NO EXIT PRESS

AFFILIATED LINK https://www.blackwells.co.uk/?a_aid=babbageandsweetcorn Hardback £10.99

Book Trailer from No Exit Press https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEAyZoNl0xA

It’s my stop on the blog tour today and I’m delighted to share with you all my review. Many thanks to the publishers No Exit Press for my invite onto the tour.

The Great Gatsby is one of my all time favourite novels, having read it first when I was in my teens and falling in love with books set in this era. In this new novel by Michael Farris Smith he takes Nick Carraway, the narrator of The Great Gatsby, and imagines his life before he meets Jay Gatsby.

SYNOPSIS

Before Nick Carraway moved to West Egg and into Gatsby’s world, he was at the centre of a very different story – one taking place along the trenches and deep within the tunnels of World War I. An epic portrait of a truly singular era and a sweeping, romantic story of self-discovery, this rich and imaginative novel breathes new life into a character that many know only from the periphery. Charged with enough alcohol, heartbreak, and profound yearning to transfix even the heartiest of golden age scribes, Nick reveals the man behind the narrator who has captivated readers for decades.

MY THOUGHTS

This is a very different story from that of The Great Gatsby as we are introduced to Nick pre West Egg. We learn very little of Nick Carraway in the Fitzgerald novel, considering he is so central to the story, but here, in a raw and emotion fuelled account, we read of Nick and his time in and after the Great War with glimpses into his early years.

Rich in detail and highly emotive the story tells us of Nick’s account in the trenches of WW1 and really shows us the horrific and brutal experiences of the soldiers and the effects long term it has. Nick’s experiences and trauma are vividly written and the scenes taking place in the trenches are hauntingly described. This experience naturally effects him and we go on to read of his journey on to New Orleans where he almost stumbles into the violent lives of those that he meets.

His detachment and bewilderment with the world, after his experiences, is wonderfully portrayed not only in the dangerous chances he takes both in the trenches and later on, but also in the chapters which follow him, on leave in Paris, where he meets a women that he becomes romantically involved with. As he tries to hold on to himself, I felt some of the same hazy, dreamlike narration that can be found in The Great Gatsby, and that same mix of innocence and ‘what the hell you only live once’ attitude I got from him on my first encounter. I listened to the author talk about the book last night, and it was mentioned how little he talks in The Great Gatsby, instead telling us all that happens. Watching Gatsby and his friends all the time. I felt this also in Nick, watching his mother, watching and waiting during the war, and to those around him in New Orleans. Always in amongst great activity, but never really taking part.

A dark, moving and gripping story of a lonely and some what lost man, but one also not wanting to go home.

UNCOUPLING BY LORRAINE BROWN #review #blogtour #debut @orionbooks @LorraineBrown23 @AlainnaGeorgiou #Uncoupling

Published by Orion 18th February 2021

Hardback £14.99 Also available in eBook and Audio

Affiliated link for purchase from Blackwell’s https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/Uncoupling-by-Lorraine-Brown-author/9781409198383 Also available from other sites and your local bookshop.

It’s my stop on the blog tour today, and I’m delighted to share with you my review of this fantastic debut UNCOUPLING. Many thanks to Alainna Hadjigeorgiou of Orion Books for my wonderful proof pack and spot on the tour.

Cover Image

SYNOPSIS

Hannah and Si are in love and on the same track – that is, until their train divides on the way to a wedding. The next morning, Hannah wakes up in Paris and realises that her boyfriend (and her ticket) are 300 miles away in Amsterdam!

But then Hannah meets Léo on the station platform, and he’s everything Si isn’t. Spending the day with him in Paris forces Hannah to question how well she really knows herself – and whether, sometimes, you need to go in the wrong direction to find everything you’ve been looking for…

MY THOUGHTS

Hannah and her boyfriend Si are on an overnight train from Venice to Amsterdam to attend a family wedding. However, during the night the train carriages split, as European trains can do, and while Si continues to Amsterdam, Hannah finds herself on the way to Paris. Arriving with no passport, ticket or luggage, and very little money Hannah starts to panic. Not one for taking control of her life, she is out of her comfort zone.

Rushing through the Gard du Nord she trips over the bag of a fellow traveller called Leo, a resident of Paris, but who too was caught out by the splitting train, and so is also having now to wait for the next connection to Amsterdam. With a number of hours to fill before the train arrives, a confident Leo manages to persuade a reluctant Hannah, that not only is he willing to help her but could also show her the sights of the city before she has to leave. Oh…and how he does!

I flew through this utterly delightful book over a couple of days, losing myself in the well written, lovely story of how Hannah and Leo not only find each other but also themselves as they spend the day whizzing through the streets of Paris. This wasn’t just a romance story between two young people, but was very much a love story between Leo and Paris which oozed from the pages in his choices of destinations and the way they were described. I loved the way the author described each setting and used Hannah’s camera to capture it into the readers mind. I found it a delightful and delicious romance read, which whisked me away from this grey and anxious time, to the smells and sounds, sights and delights of a summers day in Paris. A reminder of being young and free, to be able to travel, to arrive at a bustling international train station, with the day ahead to drop in at cafes and restaurants, to enjoy the sun and sights. It really was just the ticket!

This is by no means a soppy love story, but a well written and believable tale. We learn of the back story to both characters, Hannah’s relationship with her boyfriend and watch as Leo and Hannah’s attraction grows. There is a good side story also taking place involving Si, and the pace and increase of intensity of ‘will they won’t they’ between Hannah and Leo was just right. I loved the character of Leo. He made my heart melt.

I heartly recommend this book and hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lorraine Brown previously trained as an actress and has just completed her final year of a postgraduate diploma in psychodynamic counselling. She lives in London with her partner and their 8-year-old son. Uncoupling is her first novel.

There is an interesting piece on how Lorraine became a published author here: http://booksbywomen.org/the-process-of-writing-uncoupling-from-school-secretary-to-published-author/

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