Book Review: Folly Ditch by Anna Sayburn Lane

I’m a fan of Christmas Carol and I’m always intrigued by Charles Dickens’ life so the blurb of Folly Ditch by Anna Sayburn Lane drew me in.

Scroll down to see if the novel lived up to my expectations

Book Review: Folly Ditch by Anna Sayburn Lane

Book cover for Folly Ditch by Anna Sayburn Lane. A dark brooding sky, abare tree and stark landscape with a woman in a red coat. She's looking away from the reader.
Folly Ditch by Anna Sayburn Lane

Title: Folly Ditch

Author: Anna Sayburn Lane

Genre: Crime history

Release Date: 23rd August 2022

Blurb

A Dickensian murder mystery. A brutal modern-day gang. Can Helen Oddfellow outwit an old enemy – or will she be his next victim?

When literary researcher Helen Oddfellow finds an old newspaper cutting in an antiquarian bookshop, she uncovers a mystery dating back 200 years. Her quest to find the real woman behind one of Charles Dickens’ best-loved characters takes an unexpected turn, when the bookshop owner goes missing.

Helen befriends his distraught teenage daughter as they try to find the missing man. But the marshes of north Kent are home to a criminal gang more brutal than anything Dickens imagined. Murky money, royal connections and desperate people link the past with the present. But it’s the unexpected return of an old enemy that puts Helen herself in mortal peril.

FOLLY DITCH is latest in the series of mysteries featuring literary sleuth and London tour guide Helen Oddfellow.

Long-listed for the Stockholm Writers’ Festival 2022 First 5 Pages prize.

My Thoughts

The tone of this novel was set at the start with the raw scenes depicting people trafficking. They made my heart stop despite not being over graphic, so I knew I was in for a tense look into organised crime and the vulnerability of illegal immigrants. Luckily for my nerves, this was well balanced with the mystery surrounding a book which was potentially the key to Charles Dickens’ inspiration for Oliver Twist.

Despite Folly Ditch being my first introduction to amateur sleuth, Helen Oddfellow, she was easy to connect to. As her research placed her and others in danger and the tension increased, I was heavily invested in the characters and kept turning the page.

Would I recommend?

This is a series for fans of crime with historical threads. Folly Ditch can easily be read as a standalone but like all crime series, reading them as a whole adds to the reading experience. Well paced, with an intriguing plot and determined characters made this an ideal read for these cooler evenings. Tapping into my love of crime mysteries, novels about books and my fascination with Charles Dickens’ life made me wish to go on Helen Oddfellows’ Charles Dickens literary tour visiting all his haunts and inspiration.

Author Biography

Photo of Anna Sayburn Lane. White woman, dark hair with a fringe,dark eyes and smiling with lipstick on.
Anna Sayburn Lane

Anna Sayburn Lane is a writer, editor and journalist. She lives on the Kent coast, at Deal.

Anna has published award-winning short stories and was picked as a Crime in the Spotlight new author at the 2019 Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival. Her 2018 debut novel Unlawful Things was shortlisted for the Virago New Crime Writer award.

Contact hello@annasayburnlane.com

Find out more at www.annasayburnlane.com

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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A list of other blogs on the tour

12th Sep Ramblingmads @Ramblingmads
13th Sep Penfold Layla (IG) @Penfoldlayla
14th Sep Random Things Through My Letterbox @AnneCater
15th Sep The Shelf of Unread Books @Shelfofunread
16th Sep Little Miss Book Lover 87 @LittleMissBooks6
19th Sep From under the duvet
@Duvetdwellers
20th Sep Dr Alice Violett @Alicetheunique
21 Sept What Janey Reads (IG) @whatjaneyreads
22 Sep Books by Bindu @Booksbybindu
23 Sep Chaos Happiness Book Mama (IG) @Chaoshappinessbookmama
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Book Review: Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop by Kiley Dunbar

It’s never to early for festive reads and I’m excited to be on the blog tour for Kiley Dunbar’s Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop. This is a follow on from one of my favourite romances, The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday – review is here – so I couldn’t wait to revisit the idyllic village of Clove Lore.

Book cover for Christmas at the Borrow the Bookshop.  A traditional bookshop in the snow with a Christmas wreath on the door and decorated with lights. A woman in a bobbly hate and jumper walking towards it. Christmas trees are in the foreground
Christmas at the Borrow the Bookshop by Kiley Dunbar

Title: Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop

Author: Kiley Dunbar

Publisher: Hera

Genre: festive romance

Release Date: 1st September 2022

Purchase Links

AMZ: https://amzn.to/39v0coN

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3QpSgpj

Apple: https://apple.co/3Oewbs0

Hive: https://bit.ly/3HI1olz

Blurb

‘Tis the season for finding love… and the perfect book

With just two weeks until Christmas, everything in Clove Lore should be perfect. But the latest holidaymaker to the Borrow a Bookshop is feeling far from festive…

Icelandic ex-bookseller Magnús Sturluson might be surrounded by love stories in the Bookshop, but he’s nursing a sadness that not even fiction can fix.

When Alexandra Robinson finds herself stranded in Clove Lore, she finds a safe place to hide from heartbreak. After all, all that’s waiting for her at home is a cheater boyfriend and the memories of her parents. As Alex finds herself embraced by the quirky village community, she finds her tough exterior thawing – and as she grows closer to Magnús, she finds an equally soft heart under his gruff shell.

It seems that Clove Lore is working its magic once again – until a great flood on Christmas Eve brings devastation in its wake. It’s up to Magnús and Alex to batten down the hatches and help bring the village back together again, while also introducing the locals to the Icelandic tradition of the jólabókaflóð – Yule book flood – where families and friends gather on Christmas Eve to exchange books and read together.

But can Magnús and Alex truly rescue the ruins of the village, and salvage their Christmas spirit? Or is there another complication lurking even closer than they thought?

My Thoughts

Kiley Dunbar is an author I know I can turn to for a comfort read with quirky characters to love and a location I can immerse myself in. This book was no exception. Clove Lore and the bookshop welcomed me back like a hug and it was a joy to catch up with old favourite characters like Minty, Jude and Eliot, and of course, Aldous the dog.

The bookshop and its café is a perfect location for a Christmas story as it oozes cosiness and warmth especially when the characters sink into chairs in front of the fire surrounded by books. With the village decorated with Christmas decorations it made me feel festive even in September.

Magnus and Alex provided a fresh story and when their pasts were revealed, I was cheering them both on hoping they would both get the happy ending they deserved. Unlike many romances, Magnus and Alex get on so it was lovely to see the friendship flourish but then it meant the heartache cuts deeper when trials come their way.

The flood highlighted the devasting wide ranging effects disasters like this have but also showed the strength communities and people have when pushed to the brink.

Would I recommend?

Yes, with bookshops, the Christmas tradition of jólabókaflóð, a strong community and romance in the air, it’s an ideal match for a heart-warming festive read. It deserves to be read while huddled under your duvet with a hot chocolate or favourite drink.

It can be read as a standalone, but like all novels set in a village location, reading the first novel will give added depth to the reading experience as you have a connection with the secondary characters too.

Author Biography

Black and White of Kiley Dunbar. White woman, dark long hair and glasses
Kiley Dunbar

Kiley Dunbar writes heart-warming, escapist, romantic fiction set in beautiful places, with One Winter’s Night being shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Comedy Novel Award 2021.

Kiley’s five novels include: The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday (May 2021), One Winter’s Night (September 2020), Summer at the Highland Coral Beach (2020), Christmas at Frozen Falls (2019) and One Summer’s Night (2019).

Social Media Links


Website and newsletter: http://www.kileydunbar.co.uk

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCI8wM4Fmkbyg4S_XGSnfUCA

https://twitter.com/kileydunbar

https://www.facebook.com/KileyDunbarAuthor/

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.

Love

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Book Review: The Hive by Scarlett Brade

Book Review: The Hive by Scarlett Brade

Book cover for The Hive by Scarlett Brade
Vibrant purple and black, two women's faces on opposite sides of the title in white. A bee is crawling across the word Hive
The Hive by Scarlett Brade

Title: The Hive  

Author: Scarlett Brade

Publisher: Zaffre

Genre: Thriller, Psychological

Release Date: 21st July 2022

Purchase:

Blurb

SHOULD HE LIVE OR DIE? YOU DECIDE.

Charlotte Goodwin looks directly at the camera and reveals a chilling truth to the thousands watching her Instagram Live broadcast. She has killed her ex-boyfriend’s new partner in cold blood. But she is not finished yet. With bloodied hands she takes a calm sip of tea before continuing. Lincoln Jackson will now make his confession, then the viewers must vote to decide whether he should live or die.

The public display sends shockwaves rippling through the online community and the numbers of viewers skyrockets. But as Lincoln’s past is revealed, how will he be judged?

Bonded by mutual tragedy, Charlotte’s three best friends have supported each other through the soaring highs and devastating lows of their lives. Now, in Charlotte’s hour of need, her friends also face a choice, whether to help her get away with murder.

The Hive explores our darkest fears of the relationship between social media and mental health, but, most importantly, the strength of sisterhood against all the odds.

My Thoughts

This is one of those books that begins with the end and carries the reader into the protagonist’s life to explain why that outcome was inevitable. With a strong beginning where viewers of a live broadcast can choose whether Lincoln lives or dies, I was hooked. Social media has its bonuses but has a dark side which this novel taps into well. As much as I’d like to think the opening scenario was veering to the realms of fantasy, people have been encouraged to suicide so why not murder?

Charlotte is flawed and damaged but has a strong moral code but along with her friends tiptoe on the edge of the law. Her friendship group has strong bonds thanks to past traumas, shared experiences, and they all have issues. This connection and loyalty is pushed to the limits and can only admire the sense of sisterhood that drives them and the plot.

Living the Instagram dream with flash house, clothes, jewellery and meals, Charlotte lives in a different world than I and in reality, we could never be friends, but I needed to know what she’d do next, making me read past bedtime. When horrific events happen leading to the potentially deadly consequences, I had to feel sorry for her.  

With the judgemental and spiteful world of social media at its core, it threw up intriguing thoughts so would be a good book club choice to have in depth discussions especially the unexpected ending.

Would I recommend?

If you love your psychological thrillers, with flawed characters and moral dilemmas, this is a book to try. With an unusual view of the dark side of social media at its core, it is a fast paced and intriguing read.

Scarlett Brade has a strong voice and style so I’m looking forward to seeing what she writes next.

Author Biography

Scarlett Brade is the daughter of parents who migrated from the Caribbean to England in the early 1970s. She was born and educated in London, though as a child she spent her summers in Canada, where she developed her love affair with reading. When not writing Scarlett spends most of her time cooking, drinking fine wines, and entertaining family and friends. The Hive is her first psychological thriller novel, and she is currently writing her second.

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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Other blogs on this tour

Book Review: Nothing Else by Louise Beech

Today, I’m thrilled to finally share my review for Nothing Else by Louise Beech. Until now, I’d only read one other of Louise Beech’s backlist, I am Dust but I fell in love with her writing so I had high expectations for this novel. Scroll down to see if it dazzled.

Book Review: Nothing Else by Louise Beech

Book cover Nothing Else by Louise Beech
2 face profiles on different sides of an open book of empty music sheets
Nothing Else by Louise Beech

Title: Nothing Else

Author: Louise Beech

Publisher: Orenda Books

Genre: Fiction, suspense

Release Date: 23rd June 2022

Blurb

The multiple bestselling and award-winning author returns with an exquisitely moving novel about surviving devastating trauma and the unbreakable bond between sisters; a story of courage and love, and the power of music to transcend – and change – everything.

Heather Harris is a piano teacher and professional musician, whose quiet life revolves around music, whose memories centre on a single song that haunts her. A song she longs to perform again. A song she wrote as a child, to drown out the violence in their home. A song she played with her little sister, Harriet.

But Harriet is gone … she disappeared when their parents died, and Heather never saw her again.

When Heather is offered an opportunity to play piano on a cruise ship, she leaps at the chance. She’ll read her recently released childhood care records by day – searching for clues to her sister’s disappearance – and play piano by night … coming to terms with the truth about a past she’s done everything to forget.

My Thoughts

Oh my, this book pulled me in the first chapter and didn’t let me go until I finished the last page. Who needs sleep when the next chapter demands to be read? Unlike the ghost story I am Dust, this is an exquisite and emotional tale of family, the bond of sisters, music and secrets.

Heather is based in Hull which is my nearest city and there is something refreshing about reading somewhere you recognise in a book, it grounds you into the story even before you truly meet the characters. The underlying mystery of what happened to Harriet added tension throughout and I loved discovering the truth alongside Heather so I won’t delve to deeply into the plot her (you’ll have to read it for yourself) but the issues raised are handled with care and sensitivity without shying away from the emotional upset they bring.

I’ve never been on a cruise but it was easy to imagine walking beside Heather as she explored the ship and sit on a nearby table to listen to her play on the baby grand piano. I could feel the sway of the boat and hear the tunes. This strength of place and connection to Heather meant I couldn’t stop reading when I met the younger version and her sister Harriet. It was a joy to watch them learn to play the piano and their love for music, desire to play was contagious, I had to listen to the playlist. On the flip side, this connection meant my emotions took a hit when times hit hard times for the girls. This rollercoaster is a sign of a splendid read.  

Would I recommend?

Oh yes, it has been so hard not to shout about how much I loved this book until now. Louise Beech has a talent for bringing the music and the emotion it brings to life. It’s superb writing combined with the musicality, strong sense of place and soul makes it a novel to remember. It belongs on my forever shelf and is a clearly in the running for one of my favourite books this year.

I can’t wait to read more of Louise’s books and feel lucky my library has some of her back catalogue.

Author Biography

Photograph of Louise Beech
Louise Beech

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 Little Bookshop by the Sea by Eliza J. Scott

Today I’m excited to share my review The Bookshop by the Sea by Eliza J. Scott. Set in North Yorkshire, one of my favourite places, I was eager to visit the Happy Hartes bookshop and discover the residents. Scroll down to see if this book met my high expectations.

Book Review: The Little Bookshop by the Sea by Eliza J. Scott

The Bookshop by the Sea by Eliza J. Scott
The Little Bookshop by the Sea by Eliza J. Scott

Title: The Little Bookshop by the Sea

Author: Eliza J. Scott

Genre: Romance

Release Date: 3rd May 2022

Purchase Links

UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09YMMBQCY US:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09YMMBQCY

Blurb

Welcome to the Happy Hartes Bookshop in Micklewick Bay on the beautiful North Yorkshire Coast!

The Happy Hartes Bookshop has been a part of bookworm Florrie Appleton’s life as far back as she can remember. From the evocative smell of the books, to working alongside her beloved Mr H and his black Labrador, Gerty, there’s no wonder she calls it her happy place.

Living in a town she loves, with her family and group of close-knit friends nearby, life is sweet. Until one dreadful Monday morning, when everything is turned upside down and things are changed forever.

Devastated, Florrie finds herself thrown into an unexpected situation with handsome stranger, Ed Harte, owner of a pair of twinkly navy-blue eyes and a smile that has the knack of making mischief with her insides.

Despite being fresh out of a relationship, Florrie quickly finds herself falling for him, but she’s torn, reluctant to give her heart to someone who seems intent on not sticking around.

While her heart’s doing battle with her head, Florrie soon finds herself privy to a secret with Ed involving a heart-wrenching twist they could never have imagined.

Will love find a way to bring them together, or are they destined to go their separate ways?

My Thoughts

I’m a sucker for novels set in bookshops and add in the location of Yorkshire and romance I’m in heaven. This was no exception, the Happy Harte bookshop was somewhere I wished was real so I could visit. With the descriptions that evoke feelings of belonging, this novel has a strong and distinct sense of place and I kept looking for clues to see if I could recognise the inspirational location behind Micklewick Bay.

 Florrie is a relatable protagonist and I adored her relationship with Mr H. The love he had for Florrie and his grandson Ed, shone throughout the book and for his sake I flicked over the page to see if he had his happy ever after ending he dreamt of for Florrie.

Florrie has a large circle of friends and along with the warm community it is easy to see this as the beginning of a delightful series.

Would I recommend?

Yes, this is an enjoyable romance set in the delightful town of Micklewick Bay. The Harte bookshop is a special place that has in my heart. This is an ideal book fro fans of Jenny Colgan.

Author Biography

Eliza lives in the North Yorkshire countryside with her family. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found with her nose in a book/glued to her kindle or working in her garden, fighting a losing battle against the weeds.

Eliza is inspired by her beautiful surroundings and loves to write heartwarming romance stories with relatable female characters. Her books will always have a happy ending.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @ElizaJScott1

Instagram: @elizajscott

Facebook: @elizajscottauthor

Website: www.elizajscott.com/

BookBub: www.bookbub.com/authors/elizaj-scott

Amazon author page UK: amazon.co.uk/~/e/B07DMQWPMH

Amazon author page US: amazon.com/~/e/B07DMQWPMH

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.

Love

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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.

Love

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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.

Love

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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.

Love

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Book Review: The Library by Bella Osborne

Last month, I was excited to discover my local library delivers books every four weeks to those who are stuck indoors. Ever since the pandemic, lockdown and inability to use my mobility scooter for long distances I’ve been unable to visit my library. How I’ve missed browsing the shelves, discovering new books, finding those that have slipped under the radar and rediscover old ones. The Library by Bella Osborne was in my first library stash and what a joy it was. Scroll down to see why.

Photo of a stack of books form the library including The Library by Bella Osborne, The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
Library stash -February

Book Review: The Library by Bella Osborne

The Library by Bella Osborne cover - a colourful stack of books
The Library by Bella Osborne

Title: The Library

Author: Bella Osborne

Publisher: Aria

Genre: Fiction, Women’s fiction

Release Date: 2nd Sept 2021

Purchase: Amazon

Blurb

Two lonely bookworms. An unexpected friendship. A library that needs their help

‘A touching story of a friendship between a troubled teenager, a yoga-practising farming woman in her seventies and a local library. A delight!’ – Sunday Times bestselling author Katie Fforde

Teenager Tom has always blended into the background of life. After a row with his dad and facing an unhappy future at the dog food factory, he escapes to the library.

Pensioner Maggie has been happily alone with her beloved novels for ten years – at least, that’s what she tells herself.

When they meet, they recognise something in each other that will change both their lives for ever.

Then the library comes under threat of closure, and they must join forces to prove that it’s not just about books – it’s the heart of their community.

They are determined to save it – because some things are worth fighting for.

My Thoughts

Some books are meant to be treasured and like the village library depicted in this story, this is one of them. The distinct voices of Tom and Maggie shine on the page as they both battle with not only loneliness but their resistance to connect with other people and change.

The attention to detail and the everyday observations made me feel like I was experiencing their lives alongside them. Tom is a shy teenager with dealing with exams, unrequited love and his father. While Maggie is a feisty pensioner with a strong sense of independence. The novel has funny moments such as when Tom discovers his preferred genre to read and hands on experience at Maggie’s farm but also poignant times when they both reveal their lives to each other cementing their deep friendship.

Maggie’s farm is a delightful escape from the world. If I could stay there in reality, I would especially for the cakes and food she served. Also with a stroppy ram called Colin, how could I not fall in love with this location?  

The community the library serves has a collection of memorable personalities adding to the novel’s warmth and acts as a reminder that most people are sociable beings and need that human connection to help them through bad times and celebrate the good.

Would I recommend?

Yes, this is a timely read and highlights the fact loneliness can strike all ages but you can find friendships in unlikely places and it can cross the generations. The Library is a warm, honest heart-felt novel sprinkled with humour and leaves you with a sense of hope, calm and a grin.

Author Biography

Bella has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel.

In 2016, her debut novel, ‘It Started At Sunset Cottage’, was shortlisted for the Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year and RNA Joan Hessayon New Writers Award.

Bella’s stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She likes to find the humour in the darker moments of life and weaves these into her stories. Her novels are often serialised in four parts ahead of the full book publication.

Bella believes that writing your own story really is the best fun ever, closely followed by talking, eating chocolate, drinking fizz and planning holidays.

She lives in The Midlands, UK with her lovely husband and wonderful daughter, who thankfully, both accept her as she is (with mad morning hair and a penchant for skipping).

Social Media

Website www.bellaosborne.com

Twitter@osborne_bella

Instagramhttp://www.instagram.com/bellaosborneauthor/

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/BellaOsborneAuthor/

Happy reading and stay safe!

Love

signature of Katie

Book Review: Out of the Blue by Nettie Anderson

It’s another blowy day outside but I’m thrilled to share my review for a debut novel Out of the Blue by Nettie Anderson. With it’s blue calming cover, it promised to be an ideal escape from the storms. Scroll down to see if it reached my expectations.

Book Review: Out of the Blue by Nettie Anderson

Book cover for Out of the Blue by  Nettie Anderson
Out of the Blue by Nettie Anderson

Title: Out of the Blue

Author: Nettie Anderson

Genre: Women’s fiction, Romance

Release Date: 11th Oct 2021

Purchase: Amazon UK

Blurb

Family, love and friendship is at the heart of this story

They say change is as good as a rest, but Daisy is hoping for both when she escapes to Barley Ford. Is it possible that some time in this tiny remote hamlet can help her get her life back on track?

Daisy is a moderately successful writer of fantasy fiction, but she is struggling to complete the final book of her Rose Water Chronicles trilogy. No amount of pressure from her agent and editor can take her mind off the resurfacing memories of her childhood, when her mother left her and her dad, with no apology and apparently no explanation.

Daisy is becoming increasingly anxious, putting at risk her health and her career. With encouragement from her dad and best friend, she agrees to take a break deep in the countryside, hopeful that the solitude and beautiful surroundings will bring her peace of mind and enable her to finally finish her story.

So much for solitude, however. And so much for writing! Progress is slow as the truth about her mother begins to unravel. At the same time, Daisy is drawn into the Barley Ford community, which happens to include a handsome farmer by the name of Tom Weaver.

Daisy slowly learns the truth about her past, and realises she needs to learn how to trust people, too. Is it possible that opening her heart to love will set her free?

My Thoughts

Out of the Blue is a tender and beautiful novel. I connected to Daisy and this novel in a number of ways. I love reading about characters who are authors to gain an insight into how their minds work and Daisy is a refreshing fantasy writer rather than a romance author like many books I’ve read. Fantasy is a genre I love and dabble in writing so enjoyed how she not only battles with writer’s block and anxiety but the stress of balancing fantasy life with reality.

The strength of this book is in the depth of observation that brings the scenery to life and allows the reader to access the calm and tranquillity of the village of Barley Ford. It’s a perfect place to escape. I live near the Yorkshire Wolds and the beauty is captured well. Barley Ford is an unique place, full of mystery and secrets with a twist I would never have imagined or doubt I’ll ever read again. Full of intriguing personalities, it holds warmth and sense of community which is needed in this genre.

This observational skill is also used in the description of personal emotions, immersing the reader into Daisy’s panic and upheaval as the past catches up with her and she struggles to balance the need to fulfil deadlines, her readers’ expectations,  while grounding herself into a new reality. Writing requires more of the author’s self than readers know and can be detrimental to real life.

The arrival of relatable Tom with problems of his own brings a welcome distraction and Ed has a backstory I need to know more of. It is clear this is part of a series and I can’t wait to see how it develops.

Would I recommend?

Yes, this is a delightful journey into the Yorkshire Wolds with relatable and intriguing characters. Barley Ford is a place that has captured my imagination and I long to visit again, so I can discover more of the secrets it holds. This is a series to follow.

Author Biography

Nettie love of making up stories began as a child. Nurtured by her mum, she suggested carrying a notebook with her to scribble down ideas.

At school her English teacher encouraged her fertile imagination but wrung his hands at her never understanding grammar!

In between the writing, she’s a passionate gardener, reader and enjoy crafting and getting out into the countryside walking. 

Her remote area of the Yorkshire wolds has inspired the backdrop to Barley Ford.

Now working on book 2 of the Barley Ford series, she’s exploring Edward’s story.

Social media:

Twitter: Nettie

Blog: https://nettieandersonstories.wordpress.com/

Instagram: Nettie Anderson

Happy reading and stay safe!

Love

signature of Katie