#blogtour #bookreview THE MISSING PIECES OF NANCY MOON by Sarah Steel

Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for The Missing Pieces Of Nancy Moon by Sarah Steele.  Thank you so much to Rosie Margesson at Headline for my invitation to be a part of the launch and release celebrations of this lovely book and for my gorgeous hardback copy.

Published by Headline Review | 6th August 2020 | Hardback |





To unravel the story of that long-lost summer, she had to follow the thread…
Florence Connelly is broken-hearted; her beloved grandmother has just died and her marriage has collapsed.
But things change when she opens a box of vintage 1960s dress patterns, discovered inside her grandmother’s wardrobe. Inside each pattern packet is a fabric swatch, a postcard from Europe and a faded photograph of a young woman wearing the hand-made dress. Why did Flo’s grandmother never speak of this mysterious woman – Nancy Moon?
Her life in tatters, Flo decides to remake Nancy’s dresses, and to head across to the Continent to recreate Nancy’s Grand Tour of 1962. As she follows the thread, Flo begins to unravel an untold story of love and loss in her family’s past. And perhaps to stitch the pieces of her own life back together…




A wonderful read to sooth the spirit and to escape to Europe in this time where its not so easy to do so.

A story rich in wonderful characters and a strong sense of time and place.

I enjoyed reading The Missing Pieces Of Nancy Moon, and hope you have been able to catch the posts I have been making over the last few days, in the run up to my review.  Thank you so much to Headline for sending me the stunning ‘postcards’ created by Ellie Morley. I loved them!

I was instantly engrossed in this story and quickly felt invested in the characters with their vivid presence, and wonderfully described personalities. A softly flowing story and one that was very easy to read, I found that I loved both the main characters, Nancy and Flo, and really liked the way the author mirrored their two lives.

Nancy’s tale was full of classic time pieces which only added to her story.  The wonderful clothes and her adventures really had a sense of time to them and I loved the way the author used them to connect her to the character of Flo.  Both characters had a passion for making clothes and they are brilliantly described throughout the book.  I also really liked the way the author compared and highlighted the differences time has made on the places each character visits.  I think I preferred the 1960’s version.

The story is an emotional tale but with a mystery running through it.  With each new chapter we learn more of Nancy which in turn allows the reader to follow Flo as she traces her Great Aunts footsteps, hoping to find out what happened to Nancy and why she had never heard of her before.




Sarah Steele (c) Eoin Schmidt-Martin

Sarah Steele trained as a classical pianist and violinist in London, before joining the
world of publishing as assistant at Hodder and Stoughton. She was then for many
years a freelance editor. She now lives in Stroud and in 2018 was the director of
Wordfest at Gloucester Cathedral, which culminated in a suffragette march led by
Helen Pankhurst. The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon is her debut novel.


#blogtour #bookreview SET MY HEART TO FIVE by Simon Stephenson

Delighted to share with you all my review of this wonderfully funny, clever new book, from Simon Stephenson.  Thanks to Amber, at Midas Public Relations, for my digital copy and for my place on the blog tour.

Publisher: Fourth Estate

Available now in hardback and EBook.


Set My Heart To Five Blog Tour Banner



Set in 2054, when humans have locked themselves out of the internet by forgetting the names of their favourite teacher and first pet, Simon Stephenson’s dazzling debut, Set My Heart to Five, is a hilarious, touching, strikingly perceptive story of the emotional awakening of an android named Jared, and a profound exploration of what it truly means to be human.


Set My Heart to Five is set to become a major motion picture with Edgar Wright directing, and Working Title, Focus Features and Universal Pictures producing.




Set My Heart To Five is a wonderfully written, witty, clever, emotional and thought-provoking read.

Jared, our endearing narrator, is a human-looking, flesh and blood bot designed specifically to be a dentist in a slightly dystopian future. It’s clear he has some independent thought but his duties consume his day. Bots don’t have feelings, this lack of empathy makes them great dentists, but Jared wakes one day to find a number in his head, counting down to his retirement. Under the guidance of a friend he begins a journey of self-discovery.

The early part of the book sets up a recurring theme of the absurdity of human life and our (future) way of life as seen by the detached observer. This endears us to Jared as we join him on an odyssey of self-discovery.

As part of his therapy Jared falls in love with “classic” movies which as the reader you identify from his short descriptions, the titles are never revealed, each is cleverly used as a parable as Jared’s personality develops.

There’s plenty of fun and some jeopardy as first in paranoia and then in reality as Jared is chased to Hollywood, where he is, in turn, chasing his dream to make humans like bots, by an unlikely hunter. Full of cleverly written jokes, the story is a pacey mix of human behaviour, chasing a dream, love and loss, risk and reward. There are elements of a thriller, and the use of the future to look back on the absurdity of today is consistently used throughout.

Not wanting to give too much away the book is a classic underdog-with-special-powers story, which becomes a little ironic as Jared’s mission proceeds. It also has a serious message on the struggle of the outsider to be accepted and the desire, even for those without feelings, for a release from loneliness.





set my heart to 5 author


Simon Stephenson is a Scottish writer based in Los Angeles.  He previously worked as an NHS doctor, most recently in paediatrics in London.


His first book, LET NOT THE WAVES OF THE SEA (John Murrays, 2011), was a memoir about the loss of his brother in the Indian ocean tsunami. It was serialised as ‘Book of the Week’ on BBC Radio 4 and won ‘Best First Book’ at the Scottish Book Awards.


Simon moved to the US followed the success of his spec screenplay, FRISCO, a semi-autobiographical story about a depressed doctor who desperately needed a change.  The script was at the top of the Blacklist – an industry-voted list of Hollywood’s favourite unproduced scripts – and opened the door to a screenwriting career in the US.  In 2015, Simon was photographed alongside Phoebe Waller-Bridge as one of Screen International’s ‘Stars of Tomorrow’.  His friends never tire of telling him that Screen International were at least half right.


As a screenwriter, Simon nonetheless continues to be much in demand on both sides of the Atlantic.  He spent two years writing at Pixar in San Francisco, and originated and wrote Amazon’s forthcoming feature film LOUIS WAIN (starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy). Julia Roberts attached to his screenplay TRAIN MAN, and the film rights to SET MY HEART TO FIVE were pre-emptively acquired by Working Title Films, Focus Features, and Nira Park’s Complete Fiction Pictures. Edgar Wright is set to direct the film from Simon’s screenplay.


One of Simon’s most memorable moments from his time in Hollywood was taking a meeting with an actor he admired most, and then having said actor kindly insist on driving Simon home in his distinctive vintage Porsche while telling him about his mind-blowing stories about his canonical body of work.  As a token of thanks, Simon then gave that car to the villain in Set My Heart To Five!





The Chain by Adrian McKinty: Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Winner

I am delighted to share the news that uber driver turned best-selling sensation Adrian McKinty has won the UK’s most prestigious crime novel award, Theakston Old Peculier, for his page-turning thriller The Chain.


The Chain was chosen by public vote and the prize Judges, triumphing against a tremendously strong shortlist – including books from Oyinkan Braithwaite, Helen Fitzgerald, Jane Harper, Mick Herron and Abir Mukherjee – at a time when the UK is experiencing a boom in crime fiction. Adrian’s hit thriller marks the turning point in his life that has led him to a series of success, as he became a bestseller in 20 countries and had Universal snap up the film rights in a seven-figure deal.





harrogatetheakstoncrimeaward.com | #TheakstonAward | @HarrogateFest | Images & further info here



Adrian McKinty, winner of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2020 for The Chain said:

“I am gobsmacked and delighted to win this award. Two years ago, I had given up on writing altogether and was working in a bar and driving an uber, and so to go from that to this is just amazing. People think that you write a book and it will be an immediate bestseller. For twelve books, my experience was quite the opposite, but then I started this one. It was deliberately high concept, deliberately different to everything else I had written – and I was still convinced it wouldn’t go anywhere… but now look at this. It has been completely life changing.”


Harrogate, Thursday 23 July: Belfast born Adrian McKinty has been awarded the UK’s most prestigious accolade in crime writing, the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, for his best-selling thriller, The Chain, that sees parents forced to abduct children to save the lives of their own.


This phenomenal success comes after Adrian’s family were evicted from their home, forcing him to put down his pen and find work as an Uber driver and bar tender to make ends meet. Persuaded to give his dream one last go, Adrian began writing what would become his smash hit sensation The Chain, now a bestseller in over 20 countries with move rights snapped up by Universal in a seven figure deal to bring this chilling masterpiece to life on screen.


Described by Don Winslow as ‘nothing short of Jaws for parents’, The Chain was chosen by public vote and the prize Judges, triumphing against a tremendously strong shortlist – including books from Oyinkan Braithwaite, Helen Fitzgerald, Jane Harper, Mick Herron and Abir Mukherjee – at a time when the UK is experiencing a boom in crime fiction, with the genre exploding in popularity during lockdown and sales soaring since bookshops have reopened.


The news was revealed in a virtual awards ceremony on what would have been the opening night of Harrogate’s legendary Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, which was cancelled due to the pandemic. Instead, the announcement of this coveted trophy has marked the launch of the HIF Weekender, Harrogate International Festival’s free virtual festival bringing world-class culture to everyone at home, featuring performances and interviews with internationally acclaimed musicians, best-selling authors and innovative thinkers.


Adrian McKinty – who was previously nominated in 2011, 2014 and 2016 for his Sean Duffy series – will now receive £3,000 and an engraved oak beer cask, hand-carved by one of Britain’s last coopers from Theakstons Brewery.


Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said: “Looking at the titles in contention for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2020, it is clear to see why crime fiction remains the UK’s genre of choice. Adrian McKinty is a writer of astonishing talent and tenacity, and we could not be more grateful that he was persuaded to give his literary career one last shot because The Chain is a truly deserving winner. Whilst we might be awarding this year’s trophy in slightly different, digital circumstances, we raise a virtual glass of Theakston Old Peculier to Adrian’s success – with the hope that we can do so in person before too long, and welcome everyone back to Harrogate next year for a crime writing celebration like no other.”


About Harrogate International Festivals


Harrogate International Festivals’ is a charitable organisation with a mission to present a diverse year-long programme of live events that bring immersive and moving cultural experiences to as many people as possible. Delivering artistic work of national importance, the Festival curates and produces over 300 unique and surprising performances each year, celebrating world-renowned artists and championing new and up-coming talent across music, literature, science, philosophy and psychology. The HIF+ ongoing education outreach programme engages schools, young people and the local community with workshops, talks, projects and inspiring activities, ensuring everyone can experience the Festival’s world class programme and the transformative power of the arts.


Established in 1966, Harrogate International Festivals are an artistic force to be reckoned with and a key cultural provider for the North of England.


Find out more at:


About Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award


Launched in 2005, the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award is the most prestigious crime novel prize in the country and is a much-coveted accolade recognising the very best crime writing of the year. Previous winners include Mark Billingham, Val McDermid, Belinda Bauer, Denise Mina, Lee Child, Clare Mackintosh and last year’s champion Steve Cavanagh, who was awarded the trophy for the fifth book in his Eddie Flynn crime thriller series, Thirteen.


The award forms part of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, staged by Harrogate International Festivals in the Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, and is traditionally awarded on the opening evening of the festival.


The 2020 award is run by Harrogate International Festivals in partnership with T&R Theakston Ltd, WHSmith and the Express. It is open to full length crime novels published in paperback from 1 May 2019 to 30 April 2020 by UK and Irish authors.


The longlist of 18 titles was selected by an academy of crime writing authors, agents, editors, reviewers, members of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Committee, and representatives from T&R Theakston Ltd, the Express, and WHSmith, with the shortlist and winner selected the academy, alongside a public vote and the winner receiving £3,000, and a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston Old Peculier.


About The Chain by Adrian McKinty (Orion Publishing Group, Orion Fiction)


Adrian McKinty was born and grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland during the Troubles of the 1970s and 1980s. His father was a boilermaker and ship’s engineer and his mother a secretary. Adrian went to Oxford University on a full scholarship to study philosophy before emigrating to the United States to become a high school English teacher. His books have won the Edgar Award, the Ned Kelly Award, the Anthony Award, the Barry Award and have been translated into over 20 languages. Adrian is a reviewer and critic for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Irish Times and The Guardian. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.




‘You have never read anything quite like The Chain and you will never be able to forget it. Brilliant. Beautifully written. A masterpiece of tension. It scared the hell out of me but I could not put it down! The Chain belongs in the elite company of world-class thrillers like Gone Girl and The Silence of the Lambs. This is nothing short of Jaws for parents’ – Don Winslow


‘A masterpiece. The Chain is one of the finest novels ever produced in the genre – up there with Marathon Man and Red Dragon. It just doesn’t get any better than this. I may not read a better thriller in my lifetime’ – Steve Cavanagh


‘McKinty is one of the most striking and most memorable crime voices to emerge on the scene in years. His plots tempt you to read at top speed, but don’t give in: this writing — sharply observant, intelligent and shot through with black humor — should be savored’ – Tana French


‘The Chain is diabolical, unnerving, and gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘relentless.’ McKinty just leapt to the top of my list of must-read suspense novelists. He writes with confidence, heart, and style to spare. He’s the real deal’ – Dennis Lehane



#bookreview #blogtour THE UNCOMMON LIFE OF ALFRED WARNER IN SIX DAYS by Juliet Conlin



Delighted to kick off the blog tour today, along with some other great book reviewers, for The Uncommon Life Of Alfred Warner In Six Days by Juliet Conlin.



Approaching 80, frail and alone, a remarkable man makes the journey from his sheltered home in England to Berlin to meet his granddaughter. He has six days left to live and must relate his life story before he dies…

His life has been rich and full. He has witnessed firsthand the rise of the Nazis, experienced heartrending family tragedy, fought in the German army, been interred in a POW camp in Scotland and faced violent persecution in peacetime Britain. But he has also touched many lives, fallen deeply in love, raised a family and survived triumphantly at the limits of human endurance. He carries within him an astonishing family secret that he must share before he dies… a story that will mean someone else’s salvation.

Welcome to the moving, heart-warming and uncommon life of Alfred Warner.



This a wonderfully written end-of-life memoir a little in the style of “A Man Called Ove” and “The Secret Pilgrimage of Harold Fry”, with interesting and unusual twists.

Alfred Warner hears voices and at the end of his life he becomes desperate to meet his grand-daughter, Brinja, so she can understand the joyful side of the curse that also afflicts her. He is rescued by a young woman, Julia, who meets and befriends him when Brinja fails to meet him at Berlin main train station. It’s not clear why Julia takes this lonely, old man in for his last few days, but you get the impression she has her own troubles and Alfred’s curious story is a distraction during his pilgrimage around Christmas. Their short story is tenderly told.

Juliet Colin effortlessly uses multiple narrators to move between Alfred and his remarkable story of growing up in a rural farm community in 1930’s Germany, orphaned and rescued by Jews in Berlin, his subsequent life in a changing post-war Britain and the modern-day anguish of Brinja. Julia’s character carries the practicalities and she becomes increasingly involved, as we do, in Alfred’s story and why it so important to him and his grand daughter. In many ways this telling has much of the suspense of a thriller.

The poverty and growing threat to those around him as a child are brought to life in the early chapters. Alfred begins to hear voices when young, he finds it’s something he shares with his mother and previous generations of her Icelandic family. Through his life these voices are guardian angels, friends and bullies, the author guides us through the stages of denial, then caution on to acceptance and embrace as Alfred accepts these interlopers into his life, allowing him to live a largely normal and content life and apparently protecting him from the psychological impact of his early years. This normalisation of his mental health is in contrast to the impact of the same phenomenon on the more troubled, modern-day Brinja.

The story is well paced, as Alfred escapes from the things that oppress him externally and emerges into a comfortable life in post-war Scotland and England, we move with him through the trials of his life, including the early death of his first child and the later estrangement of his son, Brinja’s father, who is also visited by the voices. With the younger generations suffering with more malign voices, Alfred is compelled to tell his story to Julia in a hope to show his granddaughter the more helpful ways to interpret them.

A beautifully written, heartbreaking yet heartwarming tale that I would highly recommend.





Juliet Conlin

Juliet Conlin was born in London and grew up in England and Germany. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Durham. She works as a writer and translator and lives with her family in Berlin. Her novels include The Fractured Man (Cargo, 2013), The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days (Black & White, 2017), The Lives Before Us (Black & White, 2019).


The blog tour runs through to July 26th so please to check out the other reviews.

Thank you to the publishers for my digital copy of the book and to Kelly of Love Books Tours for my invite and place on the tour.

Alfred Warner Twitter tour poster







Twitter/Blog Tags

The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days by Juliet Conlin @julietconlin @bwpublishing @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstour

#BOOKREVIEW: If I Can’t Have You By Charlotte Levin

Delighted to share with you my review for this fantastic debut novel from Charlotte Levin. I found this an utterly captivating read!


If I cant have you pic


What if the problem with your love life is you?

If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin is an all-consuming novel about loneliness, obsession and how far we go for the ones we love.




Twenty-something Constance Little is running from her past and chasing after love.  Desperate to escape the loniness and monotony of London life (and her creppy housemate Dale), she develops an infacturation for Samuel, the handsome new doctor at the private medical practice where she works.

When Samuel ends their brief yet passionate affair, past wounds arising from her mother’s death and father’s abandonment come to the fore, with love morphing into obsession.



I found If I Can’t Have You a totally captivating and thrilling read.

Thrilling may not be the best word to use, as this book is a dark and unsettling read, dealing with a lot of serious and unpleasant issues.  Obsession, self harm, stalking, sexual abuse and physical assault, so a lot of triggers here.  However, it instantly sucked me in and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

The opening scene is brilliant.  We find our main character on a London tube, as everyone stares at her, battered, front tooth hanging by a thread and blood splatter down her  taffeta dress.  Something serious has happened  here, and I couldn’t wait to find out what!

I won’t talk about the story line. It needs to be read and I would not want to give anything away, I shall instead talk about the way it is written and the characters and emotions involved.

The author has thought up some seriously unlikable, damaged and unstable characters in this book but as I read on there was so much more.  Glimpsing inside Constance’s head, as we read of her actions and are told her inner thoughts and memories, I saw a whole other picture and it had my emotions all over the place! The issues and scenes within this story are raw and vivid, and truly make her a victim, but her own problems and obsessions are so wonderfully written and shown to us within the pages of the story that this is more about Constance’s issues as it is of the men encountered within the book.

I found it wonderfully descriptive and yet some of it so subtle, I couldn’t even explain how, yet I could see, so clearly, in my minds eye the surgery, her flat and streets the book is set in.  The characters, their actions and emotions leap of the page and the intensity and drama of the story give it such a dramatic yet claustrophobic fell.  I loved the feeling of secrecy and danger, and yet running through it such sadness.  The main character’s raw grief and the effect it is having on her cuts through the story like a knife, and it is the complex nature of Constance and the way she is written that is utterly superb.

The other characters in the book are also fascinating and add wonderfully to the story. I loved the moments she is with Edward and I thought the use of Dr Franco and the role he plays in the story not just as a character but as a tool to the narrative very well done.

A brilliant psychological thriller, that had me on the edge of my seat. I couldn’t believe that this was a debut! Role on the next book!!!


Thanks so much to Bethan James of ED Public Relations for my proof copy.



Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today, for Dark Waters by G R Halliday.  The second book in the Monica Kennedy series.

I really enjoyed reading From The Shadows ( my review can be found here: https://babbageandsweetcorn.wordpress.com/2020/06/23/book-review-for-from-the-shadows-by-g-r-halliday ) and meeting Monica and her team but wow! This new book was fantastic! Read on for my review.


Dark Waters Tour Poster final


Book Blurb

The haunting new novel from G. R. Halliday, author of FROM THE SHADOWS, shortlisted for THE MCILVANNEY DEBUT PRIZE

DARK WATERS is dark and disturbing from page one – in the best possible way. The plot is intricate and layered, and peppered with revelations that will keep you reading into the night’ Yrsa Sigurðardóttir


Annabelle has come to the Scottish Highlands to escape. But as she speeds along a deserted mountain road, she is suddenly forced to swerve. The next thing she remembers is waking up in a dark, damp room. A voice from the corner of the room says ‘The Doctor will be here soon’.

Scott is camping alone in the Scottish woodlands when he hears a scream. He starts to run in fear of his life. Scott is never seen again.

Meanwhile DI Monica Kennedy has been called to her first Serious Crimes case in six months – a dismembered body has been discovered, abandoned in a dam. Days later, when another victim surfaces, Monica knows she is on the hunt for a ruthless killer.

But as she begins to close in on the murderer, her own dark past isn’t far behind …


My Thoughts

If you like your thrillers a little dark, full of twists and turns, with fantastic characters giving the story new leads and information at every turn then grab a copy of this book!!  A fantastic read where I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, ever eager to find out what would happen next.  The pace and drama are totally engrossing and the narrative given by the main victim along with our protagonist DI Monica Kennedy was superb.

Following the end results of book one, Monica has cut back on her work by temporarily joining the traffic department, allowing herself time to heal and to spend more time with her young daughter Lucy.  However whilst out on a trip to the cinema, Monica receives her first call in months from her old boss back in MIT.  She is needed back!  After the discovery of a dismembered body in the more remote parts of the Scottish Highlands Monica joins back up with Crawford, Fisher and new team member Khan, on what turns out to be a major murder and abduction investigation.

Yet again the Highlands and their landscape and weather are wonderfully evoked and it was great to meet back up with the team and we learn a little more about them in this new book.  They also seem a little closer after the events of book one.  I loved the way each chapter was told mainly from the point of view of each of the two main characters and how they overlapped within the time frame of the investigation, plus a few back stories and earlier events which gave the story insights into the crimes taking place.  There are a number of characters but the author introduces them well, as you read about their involvement and learn of yet another lead for Monica and her team to follow up.

The chapters told by Annabelle are quite graphic and scary but boy did I found my heart pumping at each of her attempts to escape. Towards the end of the book the story line from Annabelle and Monica are full of such tense drama and adrenaline, and I loved the way their actions are told, one after another, so that you can follow them getting closer and closer but will it all be too late???

This second book can easily be read as a standalone but I’ve so enjoyed reading these two books that I can’t wait for book three and further enjoyment from this new series.

Thanks so much to Mia from Vintage, for my place on the tour and bringing this new series to my attention.



A Quiet Death In Italy header

A Quiet Death In Italy



Bologna: city of secrets, suspicion . . . and murder

A dark and atmospheric crime thriller set in the beautiful Italian city of Bologna, perfect for fans of Donna Leon, Michael Dibdin and Philip Gwynne Jones.

When the body of a radical protestor is found floating in one of Bologna’s underground canals, it seems that most of the city is ready to blame the usual suspects: the police.

But when private investigator Daniel Leicester, son-in-law to a former chief of police, receives a call from the dead man’s lover, he follows a trail that begins in the 1970s and leads all the way to the rotten heart of the present-day political establishment.

Beneath the beauty of the city, Bologna has a dark underside, and English detective Daniel must unravel a web of secrets, deceit and corruption – before he is caught in it himself.

Tom Benjamin’s gripping debut transports you to the ancient and mysterious Italian city less travelled: Bologna.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Quiet-Death-Italy-Tom-Benjamin/dp/1472131576/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Quiet-Death-Italy-Tom-Benjamin/dp/1472131576/


A QuietDeathInItaly_Final cover


Set in the slightly lesser known Italian city of Bologna, this detail rich, debut novel, follows an investigation into the death of a political protester.  With the police ‘unwilling’ to investigate and possibly even involved, it’s left to out main character, Englishman and private investigator Daniel Leicester to find out the truth.  And boy does it take him on a winding and involved story of Italian politics, corrupt government, and political protesters.  If you like your crime fiction to really have a sense of time and place this is a book for you.

A slow moving and multi layered novel which does a marvellous job at describing and evoking a city lesser known to the tourists which flood into Italy year after year.  The feel of the city with it’s history and it’s wonderful food and architecture are wonderfully described as well as the complicated and age old political and government situations, which are used to their fullest within the story line and plot.

I found Daniel a wonderful character, and felt I had already meet him before yet this is the first book in a new series.  A recent widower, having lost his Italian wife 3 years previously, he lives with his daughter Rose, father-in-law and two other family members. The adults also work together in the family owed business and this connection adds a lovely touch to the story, giving it a lighter thread to follow and grow.

There are a number of characters within the book whom all add their own authenticity  and backdrop to the story, and make this a well written, enjoyable, believable and evocative read.

Thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the tour and to the publishers Constable Books for my digital copy which has a wonderfully interesting glossary at the end of the book, along with the first 2 chapters of the next book in this series, The Hunting Season!

A Quiet - TomBenjamin

Author Bio

Tom Benjamin started off as a reporter before moving to the press office at Scotland Yard and running drugs awareness campaign FRANK. He moved to Bologna where his work as doorman at a homeless canteen inspired him to create English detective Daniel Leicester in a series that serves up equal helpings of the local cuisine and ubiquitous graffiti; the city’s splendour, decay, and danger.

Social Media Links –


Twitter: https://twitter.com/Tombenjaminsays

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tombenjaminsays/



I’m delighted to be taking part today in the blog tour for The Family Holiday the latest novel by Elizabeth Nobel.  Published June 25th.


The Family holiday cover

The Family Holiday

Elizabeth Nobel

25th June  Penguin (Michael Joseph)



Charlie and Daphne were happily married, and their children Laura, Scott and Nick were inseparable. But then, inevitably, the children grew up and their own messy lives got in the way.

Since Daphne died, Charlie can’t help but think about happier times for the Chamberlain family – before his children drifted apart. His wife was the family’s true north, and without her guidance, Charlie fears his kids have all lost their direction.

For his eightieth birthday, all Charlie wants is to bring his family together again. And by some miracle, they’ve all said yes.

So, for the first time in a long time, the Chamberlains are going on a family holiday.

It’s only ten days . . . how bad could it be?



A character driven and emotional story of one family and how they deal with loss, grief and personal life changing events.  I found myself ‘welling up’ on a few occasions reading this book, but it is a warm, tender and uplifting read, about a family coming back together.

Charlie, father and grandfather, is soon to celebrate his 80th birthday and now that his wife is no longer around to organise, cagoule and gather everyone together, his adult children with families and troubles of their own, have all slightly drifted from the fold.

So on a surprisingly impulsive act he has booked a lovely house in the Cotswolds and invites his 3 children and their families for a 10 day holiday and much to his delight and relief they have all accepted.

The first part of the book wonderfully introduces each character and explains their emotional state and what’s happening to them in their own lives.  It gives you a real feel for each of them and an understanding of how they may feel about all coming together and how the death of their mother has left such a huge hole within the family.

The dynamics of everyone once at the holiday house makes for a delightful, engaging and interesting read and the author uses short chapters, focusing on individual family members to give the story a nice flow and pace to the 10 day holiday. I enjoyed the sub plot between Laura and Joe and liked the way it seemed to highlight, in a way,  the fact that they were all starting to turn a corner and move on in their lives.  All the characters from teenager to octogenarian are well written with warmth and understanding and I found I zoomed through this book, finding it both emotional yet an easy, light summer read.





Elizabeth Noble lives in Surrey with her husband and two daughters. Her previous Sunday Times bestsellers include: The Reading Group, which reached Number One, The Friendship Test (formerly published as The Tenko Club), Alphabet Weekends, Things I Want My Daughters to Know, The Girl Next Door, The Way We Were, Between a Mother and her Child, Love, Iris and The Family Holiday. Between a Mother and her Child and Love, Iris were both Richard & Judy Book Club picks. Other People’s Husbands is her tenth novel.


Thank you to the publishers for my proof copy and to Ella Watkins for my stop on the tour.  The Family Holiday is available now both in paperback and EBook.

Check out the other reviews from these wonderful bloggers!

The Family Holiday blog tour asset

Book Review for The Lion’s Den by Katherine St. John

the lions den



Dare to step on board The Lion’s Den?

When Belle is invited by her old friend Summer on a luxurious girls’ getaway to the Mediterranean aboard her billionaire boyfriend’s yacht, the only answer is yes.

But once aboard the opulent Lion’s Den, the dream holiday quickly turns into a nightmare. Belle and the other six women Summer has invited are treated more like prisoners than guests by their powerful host, locked into their cabins at night, their every move controlled – and Belle finds Summer herself is no longer the girl she once knew.

It soon becomes clear someone has a dark secret. Pulled into a dangerous game of cat and mouse, Belle realises she must keep her wits about her if she is to make it off the yacht alive…



This enjoyable and gripping debut thriller from Katherine St. John has an interesting and pacy plot, which uses different time periods to build it’s story.

Told by our main protagonist, Belle, it is a mix of thriller, women’s fiction with a dash of psychological suspense.

Belle is invited by her old friend Summer, on an all expenses paid holiday aboard the luxury yacht The Lion’s Den, owned by Summer’s much older millionaire boyfriend John.  Also invited are 2 other female friends, Summer’s sister plus guest and Summer’s mother.  All except one, known to Belle, and all seemingly happy to tow the line for a piece of indulgent luxury, putting aside any current feelings for Summer for a week sailing around the Italian and French Rivieras.

The moment Belle boards The Lion’s Den , however, there is an uncomfortable dynamics between the people onboard and odd things are soon noted. Cabin doors locked from the outside at night, no wi-fi or photos to be uploaded, instructions and itinerary given out each morning by John and Summer.  Soon Belle starts to wonder why she ever accepted this invitation and discovers that things are about to become a whole lot more serious than she could ever imagine.

I really liked the way the author used the different time strands leading up to the trip to go back, cleverly and slowly revealing another piece of the puzzle in this story, allowing the reader to see what is behind the possible goings on, on board the yacht.  The character’s of Eric and his brother are well thought out and used within the book and the images of the yacht and all the different ports it stops at are vivid and wonderfully evoked.

With the high possibility of very little summer travel taking place this year, it’s a great book to escape with to imagine a bit of Mediterranean heat, sea and sun soaked towns, even within this thriller setting.  The story kept me hooked throughout and offers a number of twists and turn with a satisfying ending to top it all off!

A great debut and will look out for more from this author in the future.


A big thank you to Emily Patience at Headline for sending me a copy of this book via NetGalley.  The Lion’s Den is available now on EBook and out in paperback March 2021.



Bad Love Blog Tour Banner (2)


Bad Love, released as an audio book by Audible, is a title published by Jacaranda Books as part of their #Twentyin2020 campaign, publishing twenty titles by Black British writers this year.

The audio book was released on June 18th, along with it’s paperback release and is narrated by Vivienne Achempong.




About Bad Love


Bad Love tells the story of Ekuah Danquah, a London-born Ghanaian who is 18 years old when she falls in love for the first time. As both narrator and protagonist now in her 30s, she delves into her memories of angst and confusion that dismantled her experience of that first, impactful romantic relationship. It meets none of her rigid expectations and instead shines a light on other significant relationships in her life, especially the marriage of her parents, something she had long considered an unhappy pairing.


I listened to this audio book over a few days and found it a really poetic story of first love, growing up and looking at relationships old and new. Set in London, Venice, Accra and Paris we follow Ekuah from 18 to into her 30’s as she looks at her first love, relationships and learns about who she is as she grows into becoming an adult.

A wonderful look at messy relationships, what love means and what love is. Along with those first few years of adult freedom.



To coincide with the print release, the audio edition of Bad Love will be release exclusively on Audible on 18th June 2020. Jacaranda is the publisher for the print edition and Bad Love is part of Jacaranda’s #Twentyin2020 campaign, publishing twenty titles by Black British writers this year. Audible is partnering with Jacaranda to exclusively produce the audio releases of all twenty titles. Already released under the #Twentyin2020 campaign are: Lote by Shola von Reinhold, Through the Leopard’s Gaze written and narrated by comedian Njambi McGrath, The Space Between Black and White written and narrated by Esuantsiwa Jane Goldsmith and Under Solomon Skies by Berni Sorga-Millwood, narrated by Damian Lynch.





Maame Blue is a Ghanaian Londoner, writer, and project manager for not-for- profit organisations. As well as co-hosting Headscarves and Carry-ons – a podcast about black girls living abroad – she regularly runs social media campaigns for www.bmeprpros.co.uk and sporadically blogs over at www.maamebluewrites.com.  In 2018 she won the Africa Writes x AFREADA flash fiction competition for her story Black Sky. She has since been published in AFREADA, Afribuku, and Memoir Magazine; with stories forthcoming in Storm Cellar Quarterly and Litro Magazine.



Vivienne Acheampong is an actress and comedian, best known for featuring in Death in Paradise (2011), The Trap (2015) and Turn Up Charlie (2019).


Thank you to Amber at Midas Public Relations for my stop on the tour and a gifted copy of the audio book.