#Blogtour Dawnlands by Philippa Gregory

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour Dawnlands by Philippa Gregory. ‘Political intrigue, rebellion, and scandal in the royal court of the Stuarts, brought to life by one of the nation’s foremost historical novelists’

About the Author

Philippa Gregory is the author of many bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognised authority on women’s history. Her Cousins’ War novels, reaching their dramatic conclusion with The King’s Curse, were the basis for the highly successful BBC series, The White Queen. 

Philippa’s other great interest is the charity that she founded over twenty years ago: Gardens for the Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for over 200 wells in the primary schools of this poor African country. Philippa graduated from the University of Sussex and holds a PhD and Alumna of the Year 2009 at Edinburgh University. In 2016, she received the Harrogate Festival Award for Outstanding Contribution to Historical Fiction. Philippa lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire. Follow @PhilippaGBooks on Twitter

About the book

In a divided country, power and loyalty conquer all… It is 1685 and England is on the brink of a renewed civil war against the Stuart kings with many families bitterly divided. Alinor, now a successful businesswoman, has been coaxed by the manipulative Livia to save Queen Mary from the coming siege. The rewards are life-changing: the family could return to their beloved Tidelands, and Alinor could rule where she was once lower than a servant.

Inspired by news of a rebellion against the Stuart kings, Ned Ferryman returns from America with his Pokanoket servant to join the uprising against roman catholic King James. As Ned swears loyalty to the charismatic Duke of Monmouth, he discovers a new and unexpected love.

Meanwhile, Queen Mary summons her friend Livia to a terrified court. Her survival, and that of the Stuart kings, is in the balance, and only a clever and dangerous gamble can save them… 

A compelling and powerful story of political intrigue and personal ambition, from one end of the empire to another, set between the palaces of London, the tidelands of Fowlmire and the shores of Barbados. 

Review

This is the third book in the Fairmile series, all of them can be read as standalone, but I would recommend reading Tidelands and Dark Tides just because they are great reads. They are also for the majority based on a set of fictional characters entwined with certain historical facts – a tad different from previous series.

What remains the same is the way this author in particular puts historical women at the forefront of her stories. The women who tend to be written out of history, forgotten and are often falsely portrayed. Their subtle manipulations from the side-lines, their importance as political tools, and perhaps most underestimated their power to drive the agenda as mothers, daughters and wives.

Moving slightly away from the usual political intrigue and power plays at court, although the court of the Stuarts gives plenty of fodder for those who seek it. The story also moves into other areas that carry the stamp of colonial oppression – the slave trade and the sugar industry for instance. 

I’m not going to go through all the characters we know and love (or dislike) from the previous books – needless to say Livia is doing what Livia does best, Ned follows his heart and a keen sense of justice or rebellion, depending on where you stand. At the core of this is a family, how they are tied to each, their experiences and home.

The author always delivers a riveting historical read – story and reader come before all else.

Buy Dawnlands at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Simon & Schuster, pub date 8th November | Hardback – £20.00. Buy at Amazon comBuy via Simon and Schuster.

#Blogtour The Yellow Kitchen by Margaux Vialleron

It’s my turn on the Blogtour The Yellow Kitchen by Margaux Vialleron. ‘Expectation meets Julie & Julia, The Yellow Kitchen is a brilliant exploration of food, belonging and friendship.’

About the Author

Margaux Vialleron is a French-born, London-based writer, self-taught cook and co-host of the The Salmon Pink Kitchen book club, culinary community and podcast. The Yellow Kitchen is her first novel. 

Find out more at her website margauxvialleron.com or connect with her on Twitter and Instagram @margauxvlln.

About the book

London E17, 2019. A yellow kitchen stands as a metaphor for the lifelong friendship between three women: Claude, the baker, goal-orientated Sophie and political Giulia. They have the best kind of friendship, chasing life and careers; dating, dreaming and consuming but always returning to be reunited in the yellow kitchen.

That is, until a trip to Lisbon unravels unexplored desires between Claude and Sophie. Having sex is one thing, waking up the day after is the beginning of something new. Exploring the complexities of female friendship, The Yellow Kitchen is a hymn to the last year of London as we knew it and a celebration of the culture, the food and the rhythms we live by.

Review

It’s an interesting one. I think it’s the kind of story that every reader – specifically women, will relate to – or not, through their own frame of reference. A very specific frame of reference – the relationship and bond between daughters and mothers. 

On the periphery it’s also about friendships, close friendships between women, especially long-term ones. The author captures an often overlooked and forgotten aspect of close friendships, when the boundaries of the bonds are slightly adjusted, which can solidify or make them slowly dissipate. The author also captures the minutiae of interactions, micro aggressions, passive aggressive subconscious moves. When two become three it can become a ticking timebomb of emotions.

Claude, Sophie and Giulia ultimately find themselves exploring their own identity, their first bond with another woman, and in a strange way a second sort of coming-of-age. When a woman enters an age of reflection and introspection, when the similarities between the mother and evident in the woman the daughter has become.

The writing style reminded me at times of flash fiction or performance art – many messages and thoughts thrown out into the universe in the hopes that some will provoke, others will make you pause and think. I found it refreshing and innovative.

Buy The Yellow Kitchen at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Simon & Schuster UK; pub date 7 July 2022 | Hardback | £14.99. Buy at Amazon comBuy via Simon and Schuster.

When We Fell Apart by Soon Wiley

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour When We Fell Apart by Soon Wiley.

About the Author

A native of Nyack, New York, Soon Wiley received his BA in English & Philosophy from Connecticut College. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Wichita State University. His writing has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and earned him fellowships in Wyoming and France. He resides in Connecticut with his wife and their two cats. When We Fell Apart is his debut novel.

About the book

A profoundly moving and suspenseful drama that untangles the complicated ties that bind families together – or break them apart…

When the Seoul police inform Min that his girlfriend Yu-jin has taken her own life, he’s sure it can’t be true. She was successful, ambitious, happy, just on the cusp of graduating from university and claiming the future she’d always dreamed of. Min, on the other hand, born to an American father and Korean mother, has never felt quite the same certainty as Yu-jin about his life’s path. 

After growing up in California, where he always felt ‘too Korean’ to fit in, he’s moved to Seoul in the hope that exploring his Korean heritage will help him find a sense of purpose. And when he meets Yu-jin, little does he know that their carefree relationship will set off a chain of events with tragic consequences for them both. Devastated by Yu-jin’s death, Min throws himself into finding out why she could have secretly wanted to die. 

Or did she? With a controlling and powerful government official father, and a fraught friendship with her alluring and destructive roommate So-ra, Yu-jin’s life was much more complex than she chose to reveal to Min. And the more he learns about her, the more he begins to doubt he ever really knew her at all.

As Yu-jin’s story – a fraught exploration of selfhood, coming-of-age, and family expectations – collides with Min’s, the result is an engrossing page-turner that poses powerful, urgent questions about cultural identity, family bonds, secrets, and what it truly means to belong.

Review

This is one of those reads I really want to talk about – get into the nitty-gritty of the premise, but I am also mindful of giving away the whole story.

Although the characters are quite similar in a sense that they are looking for a certain degree of autonomy, independence and searching for their self, their identity and it is indeed a discovery of self. Simultaneously they couldn’t be more different, and their paths are actually going in opposite directions, although for a while they walk together on the same path.

Yu-jin, my heart breaks for her and anyone who has to live up to the expectations of Tiger-parents (Tiger equality there). There are certain cultures where those expectations are higher, and held to a higher ransom, than say in other cultures. In a world where the pressure to succeed and be the best is already a standard bar, the failure to do so can appear to be the end of the world, especially when loved ones attach such importance to success.

There is no space for personal choice, for a pursuit of personal happiness. It’s not hard to imagine that for many young people the bar is too high and/or the fear of disappointing family and society is the last drop in the already very full barrel.

Min is an interesting character, and I think he is indicative of many who straddle two cultures, multiple origin stories. Feeling obligated to understand and become one with an identity that is drifting into the realms forgotten historical heritage and feeling as if the one you are living in and with daily is someone sub-par. The truth and peace lies somewhere in between the two. Know who you are, where you came from, and forge your own path.

It’s both a pivotal and heart-breaking piece of literature. Two people intersecting on each others trajectories, but perhaps never really knowing or understanding the other completely. I really enjoyed it and hope this is the first of many by this author.

Buy When We Fell Apart at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Simon and Schuster Uk, pub date 12th May 2022 | Hardback | £14.99. Buy at Amazon comBuy via Simon and Schuster.

#Blogtour Tell Me Your Lies by Kate Ruby

It’s my turn on the Blogtour Tell Me Your Lies by Kate Ruby.

Inspiration for the novel

Tell Me Your Lies was partly inspired by the true story of practicing therapist Anne Craig who was accused of tearing a number of young women apart from their high profile families. Craig was reported to have set herself up as a ‘spiritual healer’ with no formalised qualifications or professional supervision. 

Using highly unconventional methods such as dream analysis, Craig encouraged her clients to recover memories of past traumas and cut contact with their parents. In one of her most notorious disputes, the family of heiress Victoria Cayzer had Craig arrested and investigated (no charges were brought). Their daughter remained under Craig’s thrall, giving up her trust fund and refusing to resume contact with her family.

Kate has extensively explored therapy herself – via both conventional and unconventional modalities – and weaves these experiences into Tell Me Your Lies.

(Author pic – credit Simon Annand)

About the Author

Kate Ruby is a producer and screenwriter, with a highflying career in television. Tell Me Your Lies, a psychological thriller, is her debut novel and is currently in development for a major TV show. As an executive producer for drama, she spent a decade at the BBC, working on shows including Spooks and Being Human. Currently Head of Television for a global production company, she has worked on major Netflix shows including Watership Down, Traitors and The English Game. She has recently worked on the BBC/HBO adaptation of JP Delaney’s bestselling thriller The Girl Before, starring Gugu Mbatha Raw and David Oyelowo. Follow @katerubybooks on Twitter

About the book

You think she wants to help. You’re wrong. – Lily Appleby will do anything to protect the people she loves. She’s made ruthless choices to make sure their secrets stay buried, and she’s not going to stop now.

When her party-animal daughter, Rachel, spins out of control, Lily hires a renowned therapist and healer to help her. Amber is the skilled and intuitive confidante that Rachel desperately needs. But as Rachel falls increasingly under Amber’s spell, she begins to turn against her parents, and Lily grows suspicious.

Does Amber really have Rachel’s best interests at heart or is there something darker going on? Only one thing is clear: Rachel is being lied to. Never quite knowing who to believe, her search for the truth will reveal her picture-perfect family as anything but flawless.

Review

Trace the lie to its source – but what if the entire premise, ergo the source is based on a falsehood. What if you base your entire existence, traits, personality and actions on the words and memories of others. Specifically when the source is someone you trust implicitly. Why would someone entrusted with your care and wellbeing try to skew the way you and others perceive yourself.

What if the person you trust with your most intimate and inner feelings had something other than your health and sanity in mind. If they used their control, power and knowledge to steer you in a specific direction?

The inspiration, and indeed the reality of faux professionals, wellbeing and therapy gurus or fully certified professionals who aren’t capable of leaving their bias and personal agendas out of their work life – what a deep well of abuse and manipulation to draw from.

I think for me the actual core of the plot was the relationship between Rachel and her mother. The way two people can have such differing views about the same experience, especially when it comes to childhood. There is the issue of subjective views and different frame of references, but in this case the differences cement the negative opinions of one and allow for a sliver of doubt for the other.

It’s a dark domestic thriller, one that could have gone two ways – the twisted thriller it is, and the family relationship dynamics, which in itself is worthy of a solitary story. Nicely done.

Buy Tell Me Your Lies at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Simon & Schuster UK pub date 28 April 2022. Buy at Amazon comVia Simon & Schuster.

#BlogTour The Language of Food by Annabel Abbs

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Language of Food by Annabel Abbs.

About the Author

Annabel Abbs is the rising star of biographical historical novels. She grew up in Bristol, Sussex and Wales before studying English Literature at the University of East Anglia. Her debut novel The Joyce Girl won the Impress Prize and was a Guardian Reader’s Pick and her second novel Frieda: The Original Lady Chatterley was a Times 2018 Book of the Year. 

She regularly appears on national and regional media, with recent appearances on Radio 4 Woman’s Hour and Sky News, and is popular on the literary festival circuit. She was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award, the Caledonia Novel Award and the Waverton GoodRead Award. Annabel lives in London with her husband and four children.

Abbs’s third novel, The Language of Food, the story of Eliza Acton, Britain’s first domestic goddess, publishes in the UK in February 2022 and is currently being translated into 14 languages.

Follow @annabelabbs on Twitter, Visit annabelabbs.com

“When I inherited a collection of antiquarian cookery books I suspected a story might be lurking in one of them. Researching and writing the story of Britain’s first domestic goddess has been a wonderful culinary adventure.” – Annabel Abbs

About the book

Eliza Acton is a poet who’s never boiled an egg. But she’s about to break the mould of traditional cookbooks. And change the course of cookery writing forever.

England 1835. Eliza Acton is a poet who dreams of seeing her words in print. But when she takes a new manuscript to a publisher, she’s told that ‘poetry is not the business of a lady.’ Instead, she’s asked to write a cookery book.

Eliza is horrified but her financial situation leaves her no choice. Although she’s never cooked before, she is determined to learn and to discover, if she can, the poetry in recipe writing. To assist her, she hires seventeen-year-old Ann Kirby, the daughter of local paupers. Over the next ten years, Eliza and Ann change the course of cookery writing forever.

Told in alternate voices by the award-winning author of The Joyce Girl, The Language of Food is the most thought-provoking and compelling historical novel you’ll read this year. Abbs explores the enduring struggle for female freedom, the complexities of friendship, the creativity and quiet joy of cooking and the poetry of food, while bringing Eliza Acton out of the archives and back into the public eye.

Review

As soon as I read the book of cookery every household should own I was thinking to myself – no matter what this says there is nothing better than Mrs Beeton. As the story unfolds and the author melds fact with fiction, well I ended up coming away with a completely different view.

I taught myself to bake, cook and take care of my household. I was given Mrs Beeton many decades ago, because her books contain the food of folk and are written with a common sense approach. Accuracy, simplicity and instant comprehension for a novice. My father taught me how to make the best Yorkshire puddings and pancakes, based on a less is more working kitchen and indeed working class kitchen. You can make something out of anything, and it should fill the stomach, satisfy the senses and doesn’t need to break the bank or win a food fashion competition.

As a young mother at the start of my twenties, I began writing down recipes that I used the most, that pleased the recipients, and it includes the evidence of labour whilst creating the perfect choc chip cookie or shortbread for instance.

The aforementioned is probably why this book resonated with me. I understand how food is its own communicator and de-stressor. My own handwritten volume of three plus decades is evidence of that. The way the author draws from the power of food as it becomes an equalizer, a communicator and in this historical setting also an opportunity for independence in a society where women are always the second class citizen – it’s a riveting and visceral journey of the senses.

I loved the way Abbs approached this, the way the main characters are both examples of their class status, whilst simultaneously being bonded by their commonalities. The story becomes it’s own documentation of historical events, despite the fictional aspect.

Buy The Language of Food at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Simon & Schuster UK, pub date 3 Feb. 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Babes in the Wood by Mark Stay

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour Babes in the Wood by Mark Stay – this is the second book in the Witches of Woodville trilogy.

About the Author

Mark Stay co-wrote the screenplay for Robot Overlords which became a movie with Sir Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson, and premiered at the 58th London Film Festival. He is co-presenter of the Bestseller Experiment podcast and has worked in bookselling and publishing for over twenty-five years. He lives in Kent, England, with his family and a trio of retired chickens. He blogs and humblebrags over at markstaywrites.com. Follow @markstay  on Twitter. 

About the book

July, 1940 – In a quiet village in rural Kent, a magical mystery leads to murder . . . Woodville has returned to ‘normal’ after the departure of the Crow Folk. The villagers put out fires from aircraft shot down in the Battle of Britain, and Faye Bright discovers that magic can be just as dangerous as any weapon.

The arrival of a trio of Jewish children fleeing the Nazis brings the fight for Europe to the village. When their guardian is found dead, Faye must play nanny to the terrified children while gathering clues to uncover a dark magic that threatens to change the course of the war. And she must do it quickly – the children have seen too much and someone wants them silenced for good.

Review

This is the second book in the Witches of Woodville trilogy. Set in World War 2, the story follows Faye Bright, as she walks through life on a tightrope of magic and brutal reality.

Faye and Bertie are still getting used to being a prisoner to the restrictions of a world at war, including bus windows with special netting to keep people from being pierced by shards of glass in the eventuality of a bomb being dropped in their vicinity.

They more or less stumble upon the enemy in the middle of their village, well at least the majority of the villagers feel that way. Faye knows they are just scared, traumatised refugees who have been torn from their families in an attempt to save at least one member of a targeted family.

Whilst protecting them Faye must once again fight against a deep dark magic that has one goal – to change the course of the war to the detriment of many innocent people. It’s paramount that the darkness be stopped in its tracks.

This is a series I would recommend to both YA readers and also middle grade readers. The darkness tries to envelope the light It deals with traumatic and sensitive topics by melding history, fiction and magical realism to create a fierce main character and a compelling read.

Buy Babes in the Wood at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Simon and Schuster Uk; pub date 28 October 2021 | Paperback Original | £8.99. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian

 It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian – *Soon to be a TV series produced by Mindy Kaling*

About the Author

A Paul and Daisy Soros fellow, Sanjena Sathian is a 2019 graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She has worked as a reporter in Mumbai and San Francisco, with nonfiction bylines for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Food & Wine, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, and more. And her award-winning short fiction has been published in Boulevard, Joyland, Salt Hill, and The Master’s Review. Follow @sanjenasathian on Twitter, Visit sanjena.com

About the book

Neil Narayan’s parents moved to America for a better life, and his perfect older sister is now headed to an elite university. Neil is funny and smart, but he is not living up to his parents’ dream. While he tries to want their version of success, mostly, Neil just wants his neighbour across the street, Anita Dayal.

Once a lot like Neil, Anita is truly thriving academically, athletically and socially. Anita has a secret: she and her mother Anjali have been brewing an ancient alchemical potion from stolen gold that harnesses the ambition of the jewellery’s original owner. Anita just needs a little boost to get into Harvard. When Neil – who needs a whole lot more – stumbles onto their secret and joins in the plot, events spiral into a tragedy that rips their community apart.

Ten years later, Neil is an oft-stoned history grad student studying the California gold rush. Anita has given up her high-flying tech career and is working as an event planner, just for now. Anjali, the woman who gave them both so much, is in trouble, and only gold can save her. What choice do Anita and Neil have but to pull off one last heist?

Review

I loved the whole alchemy and magical realism aspect of this story and the way history, colonialism, racism is the beginning and the ghosts of the past are the companion at the end. Achievement, success can hardly be differentiated between greed and wealth, which is often synonymous with the word success.

I guess it depends on frame of reference, because although I found this an incredibly intriguing read with vast depth – I didn’t find it funny or amusing. Instead I couldn’t help but feel the enormity of the pressure put on these children, young women and men, to achieve and adhere to rules and the expectations of their families and the society they are born into.

What a heavy burden to carry, perhaps one that could make certain people crumble and bend with the weight. What if the burden could be lifted by an advantage? That’s the crux at the core of this story. Are Neil and Anita merely doing what they can to lessen the burden by achieving whatever they set their minds to by stealing the talents, the futures, the mojo of others – or is this just pure and simple greed.

It’s a read steeped in culture, history, myth and magical realism. Sathian certainly has her finger on the pulse of the inner workings of the culture embedded in this read and is a great storyteller to boot. This is the kind of multi-layered story that delivers no matter which thread you follow or relate to the most.

Buy Gold Diggers at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Simon & Schuster Uk; pub date 19 August 2021 -Hardback – £14.99. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour My Best Friend’s Murder by Polly Phillips

 It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour My Best Friend’s Murder by Polly Phillips.

About the Author

Polly Phillips currently lives in Australia, although she is originally from the UK. My Best Friend’s Murder won the Montegrappa Writing Prize at the Emirates Literature Festival in 2019. Polly has worked as a journalist in Australia, Dubai, Denmark and the UK. My Best Friend’s Murder is her debut novel. Follow @perthectpolly on Twitter

About the book

There are so many ways to kill a friendship . . . You’re lying, sprawled at the bottom of the stairs, legs bent, arms wide. And while this could be a tragic accident, if anyone’s got a motive to hurt you, it’s me. Bec and Izzy have been best friends their whole lives. They have been through a lot together – from the death of Bec’s mother to the birth of Izzy’s daughter.

But there’s a darker side to their friendship, and once it has been exposed, there is no turning back. So when Izzy’s body is found, Bec knows that if the police decide to look for a killer, she will be the prime suspect. Because those closest to you are the ones who can hurt you the most . . .

The Rumour meets The Holiday in this compulsive thriller with a toxic friendship at its heart that keeps you in the dark until the final breathless pages.

Review

Bec and Izzy. Best friends, childhood friends. Part of each others lives in every way and they have no secrets, right? Hmm perhaps the reports of their excellent relationship are exaggerated or viewed through a tinted lens.

Izzy has everything. Child, handsome husband, career, money and connections. So many advantages in life can make other people jealous, even people who are supposed to be their best friends. Maybe Bec hasn’t quite gotten over the fact Izzy turns everything she touches to gold.

Does it all get too much for Bec or is there something else going on? How does Izzy end up the victim of a crime or an accident?

It’s a really engrossing dark domestic thriller. The two main characters have a unique bond which is also completely toxic, so much for sisterhood and friendship. There is a clear imbalance in their relationship, but only one of them is actually aware of how malignant it is.

Phillips plays on the elements of friendships and how many people are often unaware that friendships can be toxic, much like romantic relationships can be, and don’t always recognise when they are in the middle of one. Negative nuances are mistaken for offhand jokes or rather the receiver doesn’t acknowledge what others interpret correctly for instance.

I liked the fact the ending was completely out of left field, although given the way the rest of the read was captivating enough to keep readers engaged until the end – it wouldn’t have mattered whodunnit.

Buy My Best Friend’s Murder at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Simon and Shuster UK pub date 8th July 2021 | Paperback Original | £7.99 | Publishing in Ebook and Audio onn 21st January 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Someone I Used to Know by Paige Toon

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Someone I Used to Know by Paige Toon.

About the Author

Sunday Times bestseller Paige Toon was born in 1975 and grew up between England, Australia and America. A philosophy graduate, she worked at teen, film and women’ magazines, before ending up at Heat magazine as Reviews Editor. Paige is married, has two small children and lives in Cambridge. She is the author of eighteen novels which have sold 1.5million copies worldwide. In 2016, The One We Fell in Love With, was selected for the WH Smith Zoella Book Club. 

Follow Paige at @PaigeToonAuthor and sign up to the Hidden Paige at www.paigetoon.com

About the book 

Then – At fifteen, George is the foster brother Leah never asked for. As the angry, troubled boy struggles to come to terms with his circumstances, Leah finds herself getting drawn closer to him. Theo’s wealthy family have mysteriously pulled him out of boarding school and he’s now enrolled at the local state school with Leah and George. When their worlds collide that summer, the three teenagers form a bond they believe will be unbreakable. But life doesn’t always go to plan…

Now – Shocking news brings Leah back to Yorkshire, baby daughter in tow. But Emilie’s father Theo isn’t with them, and George has unexpectedly returned. After half a lifetime, have they healed the scars of their pasts? Will coming back home set their hearts in a different direction?

Review

Leah, George and Theo are thrown together and bound by events, as one can only be bound in teenage experiences. Their friendships and feelings endure through separation, betrayal and tragedy.

Although at the core this is a story about love and broken hearts learning to trust, reconnect and love again, the surrounding story is not only poignant it is also timely. I think it’s fair to say that we are suffering a very particularly tragic crisis as the number of children being taken into foster care, into care and being removed from their homes, soars.

It’s important to shine a light on the foster carers who legitimately try to give children a safe haven, if only for a short time. Not everyone has the right motivation, but let’s focus on the people who genuinely become a sanctuary – like Leah’s parents are to so many.

It’s a heartwarming and incredibly sad story at times. So many damaged children in need of shelter, safety and care, making the only connections they can – with children going through similar trauma. In the midst of this a friendship and love blossoms, the kind of connection you don’t make often in life.

It’s the kind of read that makes you nostalgic and equally sad, and then hopeful that for some there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Buy Someone I Used to Know at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Simon & Schuster UK pub date 24 Jun. 2021 – £8.99 | Paperback Original. Buy at Amazon com

#BlogTour Your Life or Mine by Vicki Bradley

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour Your Life or Mine by Vicki Bradley.

About the Author

Vicki Bradley is a detective constable in the Metropolitan Police Service. She has had a varied career, as a uniformed response driver in Brent and then as a detective Constable in Southwark CID. She has managed High Risk Sex Offenders and worked on the Serious Organised Crime Command. 

Before I Say I Do won the Write Here, Right Now competition, came 3rd in the First Novel Prize and has been shortlisted for the Virago New Crime Writer 2017 and Peters Fraser and Dunlop Prize 2016. Vicki lives in London with her husband and baby. Follow @vbradleywriter on Twitter

About the book

Alana Loxton was part of the all-female team to take down Barratt, a notorious serial killer. He is safely behind bars when one of the detectives goes missing.

Her disappearance, and the connection to the killer, could be a coincidence – but when her body is discovered days later, a link begins to form. Then another detective from the team goes missing and the situation becomes horrifically clear. Someone is picking them off one by one – and Alana’s name is next on the list . . .

Review

DC Alana Loxton, and an all-female police team, managed to take down a dangerous serial killer. Edward Barratt is locked up, well when he isn’t trying to escape, and yet he still seems to be pulling the strings from behind bars. Who else could possibly be targeting the women brave enough to stand up to such a monster?

It starts with one. After a night out one of the detectives disappears, there is no trace of her and no clues as to when, why and to whom. The police focus on her boyfriend or ex-boyfriend, but Loxton is convinced that Barratt is behind the hunt on Loxton and her friends.

Cynics however would say that sometimes it isn’t the most obvious solution, but perhaps the one you can see just out of the corner of your eye. The reader can see the discrepancies, but Loxton is far too blinded by all the trees in the forest.

It’s a fast-paced crime read and I mean fast. You barely get over one victim when another pops up or gets dragged off. The main character seems to be a little blinkered when it comes to acknowledging the truth and ignoring what is right in front of her. If there is anyone left over after this lethal read then hopefully we will get to experience Loxton at her best, instead of charging ahead like a bull in a china shop.

I liked the way Bradley gives readers the solution right there on a silver platter, then turns the tables in a way that makes you wonder whether the author really knows whodunnit. I’m still not entirely convinced by the way. Watch this space.

Buy Your Life or Mine at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : Simon & Schuster UK pub date 27th May 2021 – Paperback £7.99. Buy at Amazon com.