Book review: The Shadow Child by Rachel Hancox

Today I’m excited to share my review for The Shadow Child by Rachel Hancox. The gorgeous cover of a partially hidden door promises a book of secrets, scroll down to see if it achieved this.

Book review: The Shadow Child by Rachel Hancox

Book cover for The Shadow Child by Rachel Hancox.

A blue door covered with ivy and the image of a young girl walking away through a keyhole.
The Shadow Child by Rachel Hancox

Title: The Shadow Child

Author: Rachel Hancox

Publisher: Century

Genre: Fiction

Release Date: 14th April 2022

Blurb

Eighteen-year-old Emma has loving parents and a promising future ahead of her. So why, one morning, does she leave home without a trace?

Her parents, Cath and Jim, are devastated. They have no idea why Emma left, where she is – or even whether she is still alive. A year later, Cath and Jim are still tormented by the unanswered questions Emma left behind and clinging desperately to the hope of finding her.

Meanwhile, tantalisingly close to home, Emma is also struggling with her new existence – and with the trauma that shattered her life. For all of them, reconciliation seems an impossible dream. Does the way forward lie in facing up to the secrets of the past – secrets that have been hidden for years?

Secrets that have the power to heal them, or to destroy their family forever …

The Shadow Child is a book of hope and reconciliation, of coming to terms with trauma and learning to love again. Most of all, it’s about how you can never quite escape from the shadows of your past – especially when one of those shadows is a child …

My Thoughts

The first chapter with young Emma hooked me into the story and though it isn’t a fast paced read, I couldn’t put it down because I connected to all but one of the characters. The beginning focused on the parents’ distress of having a missing child, their coping strategies, the mystery behind Emma’s disappearance and the relationship with their new tenants. Everyone had secrets and I kept turning the page to discover how they would all be revealed and whether reconciliation would be possible.

The arrival of Emma’s voice lured me in further. Her turmoil and reasons for disappearing surprised me and made this novel different to others I’ve read.  All the characters including those on the fringes had depth and believable backstories making it an emotional and engaging read. It is told with empathy and sensitivity which is crucial as it delved into the affects of grief, disability and the impact they have on families and individuals.

Would I recommend?

Yes, it’s an engaging and emotional read with well-developed characters thrown into an unimaginable situation. With some heart-breaking moments tissues maybe required but these are also balanced with moments of hope.

I look forward to reading more from the author in the future.

Author Biography

Photo of author Rachel Hancox
Rachel Hancox

RACHEL HANCOX read Medicine and Social and Political Science at Cambridge, qualified as a doctor three months after getting married, and has juggled her family, her career and a passion for writing ever since. She worked in Paediatrics and Public Health for twenty years, writing short stories alongside NHS policy reports, and drafting novels during successive bouts of maternity leave. Rachel has five children, three dogs and a cat. She lives in Oxford with her husband and youngest children.

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Book Review: Date of Betrayal by Julia Chapman

I discovered this detective series thanks to a discussion on Miranda Dickinson’s Fab Night in Chatty Thing on Facebook. The buzz around it made me try the first book, Date with and I was hooked. They make ideal binge reading material. When the arc for arrived I was eager to read thanks to the cliff-hanger of book six. Scroll down, to see if it reached my high expectations.

Book Review: Date of Betrayal by Julia Chapman

Book cover for Date with Betrayal by Julia Chapman
Date of Betrayal by Julia Chapman

Title: Date with betrayal

Author: Julia Chapman

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Genre: Crime and mystery

Release Date: 31st March 2022

Blurb

The seventh novel in international bestseller Julia Chapman’s Dales Detective series, perfect for fans of Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club and M. C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series.

In the seventh novel in Julia Chapman’s Dales Detective series, Date with Betrayal, betrayal is rife in the idyllic Yorkshire Dales as Samson O’Brien, owner of the Dales Detective Agency, is targeted by a hitman. Can Bruncliffe save him?

A brilliantly engaging and witty mystery, perfect for fans of Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club and M. C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series.

 Death is coming to Bruncliffe: its target is Samson O’Brien.

Oblivious to his impending date with fate, Samson is busy juggling a number of cases at the Dales Detective Agency. Too busy, in fact, to notice his partner behaving oddly.

 Because Delilah Metcalfe knows what is coming. A hitman. Sent from London with one objective: to finally silence the troublesome O’Brien before his corruption case can make it to court. With Samson’s life in peril, and betrayal around every corner, Delilah has no choice but to call in favours from all of her Bruncliffe connections in order to counteract the menace threatening to engulf the Dales town.

The only trouble is the townsfolk have long memories and deep grievances when it comes to Samson O’Brien. Trust must be earned and they will take some convincing before they put themselves in danger in order to save him. And even then, it might not prove enough . . .

Full of charm, wit and characters that will capture your heart, the series begins with Date With Death. Have you read them all? ‘As village murder mysteries go, this clever, witty and realistic series is quite out of the ordinary and strongly recommended’ – Crime Review

My Thoughts

It’s been a while since I’ve followed a crime series and am always worried that they will lose their charm the longer they go on but not here. This is the best book yet.

Delilah was always a great and complex personality, but she comes into her own in this novel when she has to manipulate circumstance to protect Samson. When her plan is revealed and saw it in action, it provided chuckles alongside fearful moments which made this a perfect book to escape in.

Tolpuddle is my favourite literary canine and his antics continue to make me love him in this novel.

The Dale Detective series is a clever blend of crime and a hug in a book. Bruncliffe is full of quirky personalities you’d love to have as neighbours, and reading about them makes you feel like you’re coming home, but the crime element is well paced, twisty and as thrilling as more graphic and gory novels. Death with Betrayal steps the tension and thrill up a notch when the evil of London collides with the genius of Yorkshire folk. Seeped with humour, friendship and community secrets with the undercurrent of romance, it was a joy to read and I didn’t want it to end.

Throughout the series, I’ve connected to many of the side characters and this book showcases them all as threads laid in earlier books start to come together, for this reason I’d recommend you start with book one, Date with Death to get the full enjoyment. You won’t be disappointed. They tap into the love communities have for their own and the prejudices, the wealth of personalities and unique knowledge of their location.

The wait for the next instalment is going to be too long.

Would I recommend?

Oh yes, like the others in this series, it was an addictive book as I was sucked into the life of Bruncliffe and the plan to keep Samson alive. Full of Yorkshire humour and quirkiness, it was a gripping, tense and clever read.

If you are a fan of Richard Osman’s novels, you’ll love these and maybe you’ll even agree with me, that these are miles better, with more character depth in a wealth of endearing personalities, and fuller plot with a visual, atmospheric backdrop of the Yorkshire Dales.

Author Biography

Julia Chapman

Julia Chapman is the pseudonym of Julia Stagg, who has had five novels, the Fogas Chronicles set in the French Pyrenees, published by Hodder. She is also the author of the Dales Detective series which follows the adventures of Samson O’Brien and Delilah Metcalfe as they solve cases in the Yorkshire Dales. Born with a wanderlust that keeps her moving, Julia has followed her restless feet to Japan, Australia, the USA and France. She spent the majority of that time as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language but also dabbled in bookselling, pawnbroking, waitressing and was once ‘checkout chick of the month’ at a supermarket in South Australia. She also ran an auberge in the French Pyrenees for six years with her husband. Having spent many years wandering, she is now glad to call the Yorkshire Dales home. Its distinctive landscape and way of life provide the setting for her latest set of novels, the Dales Detective series.

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Book Review: After The Rain by Lucy Dillon

Book Review: After The Rain by Lucy Dillon

Book Cover: After The Rain by Lucy Dillon

Yellow cover with a woman sitting at the window looking at blue skies with a cat and a dog
After The Rain by Lucy Dillon

Title: After the Rain

Author: Lucy Dillon

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Genre: Fiction, Women’s fiction

Release Date: 17th March 2022

Blurb

After the storm it’s time for a fresh start . . .

 First, the clouds… Tara Hunter is a therapist on a mission to restore Longhampton’s community spirit after catastrophic flooding. But with her boyfriend AWOL, her family fragmented, and only a cat for company, Tara’s own life is crumbling.

Then the storm… On top of everything, Tara’s father – last seen as he walked out on her when she was ten years old – is suddenly back, with a surprising offer that could change everything.

 And after the rain… Dr David Dalloway is Longhampton Wellness Centre’s new star counsellor. He’s charming, caring and has a knack for reading people’s minds – which is the last thing Tara needs right now. Will having David and her dad around make for a bigger storm on the horizon? Or is this Tara’s chance for a fresh start?

My Thoughts

Behind this cheery book cover is an honest, often heart-breaking story of a woman reaching breaking point while endlessly and selflessly helping others. It looks at the trauma large events have on communities and individuals long after the tv cameras have dispersed with their news coverage of people in their wellies, looking shell shocked at their destroyed homes.

I loved the uniqueness of the wellbeing centre with its collection of characters working and popping in which gave a good foundation for the story. Tara’s job as a counsellor has meant her own grief has been put on hold but life has a way of forcing her to take stock. The novel dug deeper into her emotions than I expected and this led to me have a true connection with Tara; I felt her grief, heartache and fatigue as she battled the aftermath of the storm on a personal level. Her journey took me through a gamut of emotions, with the tough times balanced with a slow burn romance with Dr David Dalloway and the humour of his unique way of helping his patients.

Would I recommend?

Yes, After the Rain is a beautifully told bittersweet story with an empathy and depth that will stay with me for a long time. Tissues are required throughout.

Author Biography

Photo of Lucy Dillon
Lucy Dillon

Sunday Times bestselling author Lucy Dillon grew up in Cumbria and read English at Cambridge, then read a lot of magazines as a press assistant in London, then read other people’s manuscripts as a junior fiction editor. She now lives in a village outside Hereford with a Border terrier, an otterhound and her husband.

Lucy won the Romantic Novelists’ Association Contemporary Romantic Novel prize in 2015 for A HUNDRED PIECES OF ME, and the Romantic Novel of the Year Award in 2010 for LOST DOGS AND LONELY HEARTS.

Social Media:

Twitter @lucy_dillon

Instagram @lucydillonbooks

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Book Review: The Lost Chapter by Caroline Bishop

I’m excited to share my review for The Lost Chapter by Caroline Bishop. The tagline ‘It’s never too late to start writing a different story’ called to my inner writer and I jumped at the invitation for this blog tour -thanks Random Things Tours. Scroll down to see if it met my expectations.

Book Review: The Lost Chapter by Caroline Bishop

Book cover for The Lost Chapter by Caroline Bishop
The Lost Chapter by Caroline Bishop

Title: The Lost Chapter

Author: Caroline Bishop

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Genre: Women’s fiction

Release Date: 3rd February 2022

Blurb

1957,France.

 Florence and Lilli meet at finishing school in Lyon. Despite some differences, they forge a firm friendship that promises to last a lifetime. But a terrible betrayal prematurely tears them apart. Years later in England, Florence has become the woman her friend knew she could be – creative, bold, and independent. The exact opposite of Alice, a young woman troubled by a recent trauma, whom Florence is determined to help bring out of her shell. Just as Lilli once did for her. When Florence discovers that the novel she’s reading is written by Lilli and is based on their time at school, the two stories begin to unfold together. Past events illuminate the future, and it becomes clear that long-held secrets can’t stay buried forever

My Thoughts

As I said previously, the blurb and tagline caught my eye but it wasn’t long before Flo captured my heart and I had to keep reading to discover her past. This is a clever book that intersperses Flo,  Carla and Alice’s narratives with that of Lilli, in the form of the chapters of an autobiographical novel, The Way We Were. This in turn tells the tale of two friends of opposite personalities which gives the foundation of the overall story.

Flo is a feisty, down to earth octogenarian with a talent for art and prints. The scenes describing the process of printing were mediative and made me itch to have a go. The chemistry between her and younger Alice was a joy to read as she attempted to soothe her fears and when secrets from all characters were revealed it brought tears. Flo is a character everyone needs in their lives. The strained relationship between Carla and her daughter was authentic and emotive.

The 1957 timeline was also a delight to read for other reasons. The attention to detail brought the  time period and location to life with a pace of its own and worked perfectly against the other chapters. Unlike some dual timeline novels, I wasn’t drawn more to one; I was invested in both threads.

The Lost Chapter is a beautifully written emotional novel that left a warm glow when it ended with unexpected turns.

Would I recommend?

A huge yes, this could be a contender for one of my top books of the year. With beautiful prose, strong emotional connections, characters to hold dear and a mystery that makes you turn the page it is a must read.

It’s perfect for fans of last year’s Dear Grace by Clare Swatman.

Author Biography

Photo of Caroline Bishop
Caroline Bishop

Caroline Bishop began her journalism career at a small arts magazine in London, after a brief spell in educational publishing. She soon moved to work for a leading London theatre website, for which she reviewed shows and interviewed major acting and directing stars. Caroline turned freelance in 2012 and a year later moved to Switzerland, where her writing veered towards travel and she has contributed to publications including the Guardian, the Independent, the Telegraph and BBC Travel, writing mainly about Switzerland, and co-wrote the 2019 edition of the DK Eyewitness Guide to Switzerland. For two years Caroline was editor of TheLocal.ch, an English-language Swiss news site, and it was during this time that she became fascinated with aspects of Swiss history and culture, particularly the evolution of women’s rights

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Book Review: The Helsingør Sewing Club by Ella Gyland

I’m happy to share my review for a historical novel The Helsingor Sewing Club by Ella Gyland. I read this on Holocaust Memorial Day making it more poignant and hard hitting.

Book Review: The Helsingør Sewing Club by Ella Gyland

Book cover for The Helsingør Sewing Club by Ella Gyland
The Helsingør Sewing Club by Ella Gyland

Title: The Helsingør Sewing Club

Author: Ella Gyland

Publisher: One More Chapter

Genre: Historical fiction

Release Date: 31st Jan 2022

Purchase: amzn.to/3nv7jR6

Blurb

Inspired by the incredible true story of how the people of Denmark saved their Jewish neighbours during WW2

Helsingør, Denmark, 1943

In the midst of the German occupation during World War Two, Inger Bredahl joins the underground resistance and risks her life to save members of Denmark’s Jewish community and help them escape to Sweden.

Copenhagen, 2018

Inger’s granddaughter, Cecilie Lund, is mourning her death when a mysterious discovery while cleaning out Inger’s flat leads past and present to intersect. As long-held secrets finally see the light of day, Cecilie learns the story of her grandmother’s courage and bravery, and of the power of friendship, love, and standing for what’s right…even when you have everything to lose.

An inspiring tale of the resilience of the human spirit and the power of community.

My Thoughts

This fascinating dual timeline novel showcased the bravery of the Danes in the second world war and their determination to protect and help the Jewish community against the Nazi regime. It was a revelation to me that 90% of Dutch Jews survived. Along with my recent reading of The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews, this story has made me have great respect for the Danes and provided me with hope that there is a good in humanity.

 In both time periods, there was a good sense of place allowing me to visualise the locations and added to my desire to visit Denmark and Copenhagan. Like many dual timelines, I was drawn to one protagonist’s voice than the other and it was Inger and her comrades that won here. I wanted to know more about Bodil and Gudrun so would have been happy to read this story as a single timeline. This would allowed more space to be devoted to them and dig deeper into the resistance movement. I wanted to feel more emotionally connected to them all as I felt I was being kept as an observer rather than in their heads. This detachment did help me cope when the expected dark themes were discussed.

With the title The Helsingør Sewing Club  I kept expecting to hear about sewing machines and thread but only discovered why it was called that towards the end so to save you scratching your heads while reading, Helsingør Sewing Club was a code name for the resistance. If the community’s phones were tapped it would sound as if they were discussing the village’s sewing circle.

Would I recommend?

Yes, this novel gives an inspiring account of a side of the war I knew little about and made me see the good in humanity when often it is hidden. It provides a springboard to discover more and will be enjoyed by those who love historical fiction based in the world wars.

Author Biography

Author Ella Gyland
Ella Gyland

Originally from Denmark, I have lived in London for many years, surrounded by my family, cats, books and the Scandinavian hygge I try to create everywhere I go. As a linguist I love playing with words and language, and I am addicted to story-telling. I also believe strongly in social responsibility and sustainable living.

Social Media Links

Twitter: Ella/Henriette Gyland, @henrigyland

Website: https://henriettegyland.wordpress.com/ 

Thank you, Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Other blogs on this tour

Book Review: Before We Grow Old by Clare Swatman

I’m excited to share my review for Clare Swatman’s new novel, Before We Grow Old. I adored her previous book Dear Grace so I couldn’t wait to get started with this.

Book Review: Before We Grow Old by Clare Swatman

Book cover: Before We Grow Old by Clare Swatman
Before We Grow Old by Clare Swatman

Title: Before We Are Old

Author: Clare Swatman

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Genre: Woman’s fiction

Release Date: 19th Jan 2022

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/2Y7Z8l7

Blurb

When seven-year-old Fran first met Will they knew instantly that they were made for each other. For eleven years they were inseparable, but then, at the age of eighteen, Will just upped and disappeared.

Twenty-five years later Will is back.

Is fate trying to give them a second chance?

Still nursing the heart break from all those years ago, Fran is reluctant to give Will the time of day. The price Will must pay is to tell the truth – the truth about why he left, the truth about why he’s back…

And Fran has her own secrets to hide. The time has come to decide what Fran and Will really want from life – before it’s too late.

My Thoughts

This is a love story with believable characters that grabbed me from the start. Fran and her son Kieran have a settled life which changes with the arrival of her childhood sweetheart Will. The themes of first love and second chance love are covered and I enjoyed reading the chemistry between Will and Fran in the past and the present. With the rediscovery of a list they made when younger listing all they wanted to do before they grow old, there are moments of joy, sadness and reflection. Both characters have secrets that could change their path forever.

It is a highly emotional read told with compassion and sensitivity. Fran as a narrator , allowed me to see her growth, her turmoil but also the depth of her love for Will.

Would I recommend?

Yes, it has a different feel to Dear Grace with the focus on a younger generation but is a delightful, and heart-breaking romantic novel to rival the classic  The Love Story. It’s one that requires a box of tissues and a duvet day to indulge in one day.

Author Biography

Clare Swatman
Clare Swatman

Clare Swatman is the author of three women’s fiction novels, published by Macmillan, which have been translated into over 20 languages. She has been a journalist for over twenty years, writing for Bella and Woman & Home amongst many other magazines. She lives in Hertfordshire.

Social Media Links  

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/clareswatmanauthor

Twitter https://www.twitter.com/clareswatman

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

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Book Review: The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy

Welcome to my review for The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy. The tagline intrigued me and I was keen to find out more so jumped at the chance when invited on this blog tour.

Book Review: The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy

Book Cover The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy
The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy

Title: The Gosling Girl

Author: Jacqueline Roy

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Genre: Crime Fiction

Release Date: 20th Jan 2022

Blurb

Monster. Murderer. Child. Victim.

Michelle Cameron’s name is associated with the most abhorrent of crimes. A child who lured a younger child away from her parents and to her death, she is known as the black girl who murdered a little white girl; evil incarnate according to the media. As the book opens, she has done her time, and has been released as a young woman with a new identity to start her life again. When another shocking death occurs, Michelle is the first in the frame. Brought into the police station to answer questions around a suspicious death, it is only a matter of time until the press find out who she is now and where she lives and set about destroying her all over again. Natalie Tyler is the officer brought in to investigate the murder. A black detective constable, she has been ostracised from her family and often feels she is in the wrong job. But when she meets Michelle, she feels a complicated need to protect her, whatever she might have done. The Gosling Girl is a moving, powerful account of systemic, institutional and internalised racism, and of how the marginalised fight back. It delves into the psychological after-effects of a crime committed in childhood, exploring intersections between race and class as Michelle’s story is coopted and controlled by those around her. Jacqueline writes with a cool restraint and The Gosling Girl is a raw and powerful novel that will stay with the reader long after they have turned the last page.

My Thoughts

The premise of this novel drew me in but the character, Michelle kept me captivated. Naïve, institutionalised, and surprisingly likeable she is understandably conflicted with the knowledge that she’d killed a child, and battles with guilt but as the story progressed it was clear nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

At times, my heart tugged when she is filled with hope of a new start with a new name despite a conviction looming over her while other times, I dreaded turning the page because I wondered where it would lead. Getting to grips with living outside prison and dealing with people with their own agendas is not a smooth path.

Child murder by children is a difficult topic to tackle but it is done sensitively, and is helped by keeping the reader at a distance from the action and having Michelle as an unreliable narrator. There isn’t a graphic description of her crime which allowed for it not to overshadow the emotional aspects of the book. It gives a snapshot into the consequences of actions and highlights the trauma on all sides of the crime including the perpetrator. It investigates the effects of race and in some respects, money and class, on a case and how easy it is for facts to be manipulated to fit different narratives.

Tyler, a police detective has her own battles with prejudices on the force which is topical and relevant in recent events in the Met.

Would I recommend?

Yes, this novel is gripping, thought provoking, and is one that refuses to let you go once you’ve read the last page. It evokes many emotions including initial guilt for connecting and liking a convicted murderer. I’m sure when I watch events unfold on the news the voices of Michelle and Tyler will sneak their way into my thoughts and influence my own judgements; they will remind me no one ever knows the full story and there are many things at play in how events came about and how things are seen. It is ideal for book clubs and initiating discussions.

Author Biography

Author Jacqueline Roy
Jacqueline Roy

Jacqueline was born and raised in London. Her father was Jamaican and her mother was English and she comes from a family of writers. She hated the pressure to conform at school and left early, so she did her degrees as a mature student and moved to Manchester to take up a full-time teaching post at Manchester Metropolitan University. She lectured in English for many years, specialising in postcolonial literatures. She also taught creative writing at MMU’s Writing School. She is particularly interested in exploring racial identities and the ways in which those who are marginalised find strategies for fighting back. She is now a full-time writer and has produced fiction for adults and children.

Twitter: @Jacquel27815478

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Book Review: The Quiet People by Paul Cleave

It has been a while since I have read a crime thriller, so the invite to this tour for The Quiet People by Paul Cleave  came at just the right moment and, with a blurb offering a writer-based mystery, I had high expectations for this book. Scroll down to see if these were met.

Book Review: The Quiet People by Paul Cleave

The Quiet People by Paul Cleave

Title: The Quiet People

Author: Paul Cleave

Publisher: Orenda books

Genre: Crime, Thriller

Release Date: 25th Oct 2021

Purchase: Amazon UK

Blurb

Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful New Zealand crime writers, happily married and topping bestseller lists worldwide. They have been on the promotional circuit for years, joking that no
one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living.
So when their challenging seven-year-old son Zach disappears, the police and the public naturally wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time… Are they trying
to show how they can commit the perfect crime?


Multi-award winning bestseller Paul Cleave returns with an electrifying and chilling thriller about family, public outrage and what a person might be capable of under pressure, that will keep
you guessing until the final page…

My Thoughts

When a group of writers get together, there is usually a conversation about what would happen if the police ever looked at their Google searches. Sometimes writer’s questions ask can lead to dark places and could be incriminating if seen under the wrong light. This is what happens here and it raises the question where does the author persona and stories they write end and reality start. A flippant comment said at a reading event is taken to heart by the police and media, forming the basis of a police investigation when Cameron and Lisa’s son, 7-year-old Zach is missing.

You’re thrown into the action from the start with a heart stopping moment which hooked me in and I was not released until the final page. This is a thrilling novel full of jeopardy, suspicion and action that led me to question everything and the motive of every character. It is told mainly in Cameron’s point of view but with many unexpected twists and turns, and glimpses into the investigation from DI Rebecca Kent’s perspective, there was always an edge of how reliable his narration really is. The suspicion and tension didn’t let up until the big reveal.

I loved it despite it being unrealistic and gung-ho in places. The New Zealand location made it a refreshing read. Maybe I’ve been watching too many UK based detective series recently where a family liaison officer is put in place at the family home as soon as a crime of this nature occurs, but I kept questioning where one was. It was a tiny niggle that soon passed when I became immersed into the plot. It is a good read for a long wintery evening.

Would I recommend?

Yes, if you want a thrilling read with a fast turning, twisting plot to keep you up at night urging you to read just one more chapter.

Author Biography

Paul Cleave
Paul Cleave

Paul is an award-winning author who divides his time between his home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, where most of his novels are set, and Europe. He has won the New Zealand Ngaio Marsh Award three times, the Saint-Maur book festival’s crime novel of the year award in France, and has been shortlisted for the Edgar and the Barry in the US and the Ned Kelly in Australia. His books have been translated into over twenty languages. He’s thrown his frisbee in over forty countries, plays tennis
badly, golf even worse, and has two cats – which is often two too many.


Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulCleave, and his website: paulcleave.com.

Thank you Random Thing Tours and Orenda Books for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Book Review: Flora’s Travelling Christmas Shop by Rebecca Raisin

Book Review: Flora’s Travelling Christmas Shop by Rebecca Raisin

Book cover for Flora's Travelling Christmas by Rebecca Raisiner
Flora’s Travelling Christmas by Rebecca Raisin

Title: Flora’s Travelling Christmas Shop

Author: Rebecca Raisin

Publisher: HQ Digital

Genre: Festive Romance

Release Date: 28th Oct 2021

Purchase Links

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3gtWYSS

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3ycZ6UM

Amazon AUS: https://amzn.to/3sHpYLx

Blurb

‘Tis the season for mulled wine, mince pies, and magic under the mistletoe…

Flora loves Christmas more than anything else in the world, so she’s gutted when her Scrooge-alike boss fires her from Deck the Halls Christmas emporium. But now she finally has a chance to follow her dreams – and what better place to start than the home of Christmas?

Before she can say ‘sleigh bells’, Flora’s on her way to Lapland in a campervan-cum-Christmas-shop. She can’t wait to spend her days drinking hot chocolate and taking reindeer-drawn carriage rides, but something Flora didn’t expect was meeting Connor, a Norse god of a man who makes her heart flutter and snowflakes swirl in her stomach. There’s just one problem: Connor hates Christmas.

Can Flora convince Connor of the joys of Christmas – and will she find a festive romance along the way?

My Thoughts

Straight talking Flora loves Christmas and excels at spreading the Christmas spirit so is the ideal person to work in a Christmas shop. As a Christmasphile myself, I connected to her immediately and adored the descriptions of Deck the Halls. It reminded me of my favourite shop, Käthe Wohlfahrt in York where I’d love to work. I understood her motivation to own a Christmas shop and travel to Lapland, another one of my dream places to visit. She is zany and over the top in many ways but has a heart of gold which gives the novel warmth and cosiness you need for a Christmas read. Connor was a great character and the vision of him in an elf suit made me chuckle and the idea of van life was intriguing and made this novel different to others.

Would I recommend?

Yes, this is an enjoyable escape to Lapland for some festive romance and fun with a Christmas loving heroine. You can’t help but feel in the Christmas spirit when reading and it makes you want to put your tree up already.

Author Biography

Photo of author Rebecca Raisin
Rebecca Raisin

Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been widely published in short story anthologies, and in fiction magazines. And now she is focusing on writing romance.

Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships and believe in true love.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaRaisinAuthor

www.twitter.com/jaxandwillsmum

https://www.instagram.com/rebeccaraisinwrites/

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love

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Book Review: The Post Box at the North Pole by Jaimie Admans

I’m excited to share my second festive novel review this week, The Post Box at the North Pole by Jaimie Admans. Again this is a new author for me but as someone who dreams of visiting the North Pole and a sucker for a vibrant festive book cover how could I resist agreeing to this blog tour. Scroll down to see what my visit was like.

Book Review: The Post Box at the North Pole by Jaimie Admans

The Post Box at the North Pole by Jaimie Admans

Title: The Post Box at the North Pole

Author: Jaimie Admans

Publisher: HQ Digital

Genre: Festive romance

Release Date: 18th Oct 2021

Purchase Links

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09DFHFNW3

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B09DFHFNW3

Blurb

Dear Santa,

I wish I could believe in magic again.

From, Sasha.

Sasha Hansley hates Christmas. As a child, it was her favourite time of year, but ever since the tragic death of her mother, it has completely lost its magic.

But when she gets an unexpected phone call from her eccentric estranged father, she’s forced to dust off her snow boots.

He has been running a Lapland-style Christmas village in Norway and after suffering a heart attack, he is on strict doctor’s orders to slow down. Eager to reconnect with her dad, Sasha books the next flight out there. Only she has never actually been on a plane before, let alone to the Arctic Circle.

 Met at the runway by drop-dead-gorgeous Taavi Salvesen, they sleigh ride through the snow with the Northern Lights guiding their way.

 When Sasha uncovers sacks of unopened Santa mail – letters that children and adults from all over the world write to Santa every year – she realises that she can send a little bit of magic out into the world by replying to some of them.

 With Taavi on hand to help, will Sasha rediscover her own excitement for Christmas and find love among the letters?

The Post Box at the North Pole is like one big romantic mug of hot chocolate with extra whipped cream and a splash of Christmas magic! Fans of Holly Martin, Sarah Morgan and Heidi Swain will love this novel!

My Thoughts

Oh heck! What a Christmas novel, it’s like a perfect festive movie, full of cheer, snow, emotion and everything I love about them.  Not only is the stunning location a character itself and I could imagine myself there happily Sasha is easy to relate to and Taavi with his childish wonder at the Christmas season took my breath away. I loved the descriptions of the North Pole village and as the story unfolded my love for it grew but it was the chemistry between Taavi and Sasha, and her troubled relationship with her father that drew me in. I needed to know how things could be resolved.

Despite being full of warmth, festive spirit and sprinkled with the magic of nisse, there is an undercurrent of deep emotions, secrets and darkness throughout. Without this depth, the idyllic nature of the scenery and theme of this novel could have veered towards sickly sweet but instead was a joy to read.

Would I recommend?

Yes. I’ve still have a few festive books in my stash but this is an exquisite journey to a magical place with a swoonsome love interest and realistic heroine to relate to. With a stunning location that oozes the seasonal magic, this is pure Christmassy escapism with romance, family drama and Santa. It  has to be one of my top festive books on my forever shelf and I’ll be visiting Taavi, the nisse and the North Pole again and again.

Author Biography

Jaimie Admans

Jaimie is a 36-year-old English-sounding Welsh girl with an awkward-to-spell name. She lives in South Wales and enjoys writing, gardening, watching horror movies, and drinking tea, although she’s seriously considering marrying her coffee machine. She loves autumn and winter, and singing songs from musicals despite the fact she’s got the voice of a dying hyena. She hates spiders, hot weather, and cheese & onion crisps. She spends far too much time on Twitter and owns too many pairs of boots.
She will never have time to read all the books she wants to read.

She is the author of several romantic comedies for HarperCollins – The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters, The Little Wedding Island, It’s a Wonderful Night, The Little Vintage Carousel by the Sea, Snowflakes at the Little Christmas Tree Farm, The Little Bookshop of Love Stories, The Wishing Tree Beside the Shore, The Little Christmas Shop on Nutcracker Lane, and The Post Box at the North Pole.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/be_the_spark

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jaimieadmansbooks

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love

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