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

signature of Katie
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
Other Blogs on the tour

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

signature of Katie
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

signature of Katie

Promo post: Mirror Man by Lars Keplar

On the last day of May I’m excited to share info on the newest novel by Lars Keplar, Mirror Man.

Lars Keplar is a duo of writers specialising in crime thrillers with the protagonist, Joona Lina.

Mirror Man by Lars Keplar

The Mirror Man by Lars Keplar

Title: The Mirror Man

Author: Lars Keplar

Publisher: Zaffre

Genre: Crime, thriller

Release Date: 23rd June 2022

Blurb

IF YOU SEE HIS REFLECTION IT’S ALREADY TOO LATE . . .


Seventeen-year-old Jenny is abducted in broad daylight and taken to a dilapidated, isolated house where she is chained and caged along with several other girls. Their captor is unpredictable, and as wily as he is cruel: he foils every one of their desperate attempts to escape . . . and once caught they rarely survive their punishment.

Five years later, Jenny is found dead in a public park, and the police are scrambling to find a lead among the scant evidence. But Detective Joona Linna realizes that this murder has an eerie connection to a death that was declared a suicide years before. And now when Mia, a seventeen-year-old orphan, goes missing, it becomes clear to Joona that they are dealing with a serial killer-and the murderous rampage has just begun.

As the police close in on the killer, Mia and her fellow captives are plunged into ever greater danger, and Joona finds himself in a seemingly impossible race against time to save their young lives.

Author Biography

Photo of the writing duo behind Lars Keplar
Lars Keplar

Lars Kepler is the pseudonym of critically acclaimed husband and wife team Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril (b. 1966) and Alexander Ahndoril (b. 1967), authors of the No. 1 internationally bestselling Joona Linna series.

With seven instalments to date, the series has sold 15 million copies in 40 languages. The Ahndorils were both established writers before they adopted the pen name Lars Kepler, and have each published several acclaimed novels.

More information can be found in a past Q and A post The Minds behind Lars Keplar

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and giving me a sneaky look at this book

Love

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

signature of Katie

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

signature of Katie

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

signature of Katie

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.

Love

signature of Katie

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.

Love

signature of Katie

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.

Love

signature of Katie