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Saturday, 30 January 2021

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up - 30th January 2021


Sing it loud! It's Saturday once more! And what will February have in store for us I wonder??! More of the same!! Less rain would be nice as my garden is still very squelchy!!

It's been more of the same on the reading front this past week, with another 5 books finished from the list! There may have been extra visits to Netgalley too this week - oops! I'm blaming the crap weather! It made me do it!!

Here's my look back....




Shall we see what Netgalley tempted me with this week?!

publication date - March 2021

Girl in the Walls is a story of overcoming grief, of unconventional friendships and learning that we shouldn’t always fear what we don’t understand. It is about understanding the difference between a house and a home and what it means to lose both.

She doesn’t exist. She can’t exist.

Elise knows every inch of the house. She knows which boards will creak. She knows where the gaps are in the walls. She knows which parts can take her in, hide her away. It’s home, after all. The home her parents made for her. And home is where you stay, no matter what.

Eddie is a teenager now, almost a grown-up. He must no longer believe in the girl he sometimes sees our of the corner of his eye. He needs her to disappear. But when his fierce older brother senses her, too, they are faced with the question of how to get rid of someone they aren’t sure even exists.

And, if they cast her out, what other threats might they invite into their home?

out February 2021

This is a story about taking a leap of faith
And believing the unbelievable

They say those we love never truly leave us, and I’ve found that to be true. But not in the way you might expect. In fact, none of this is what you’d expect.

I’ve been visiting my mother who died when I was eight.
And I’m talking about flesh and blood, tea-and-biscuits-on-the-table visiting here.

Right now, you probably think I’m going mad.
Let me explain…

Although Faye is happy with her life, the loss of her mother as a child weighs on her mind even more now that she is a mother herself. So she is amazed when, in an extraordinary turn of events, she finds herself back in her childhood home in the 1970s. Faced with the chance to finally seek answers to her questions – but away from her own family – how much is she willing to give up for another moment with her mother?

Space Hopper is an original and poignant story about mothers, memories and moments that shape life.

out March 2021

A lyrical celebration of birdsong, and the rekindling of a deep passion for nature.

"At this time of year, blackbirds never simply fly: instead, like reluctantly retired officers, they're always 'on manoeuvres', and it's easy to see from their constant agitation that for them every flower bed is a bunker, every shed a redoubt and every hedge-bottom a potential place of ambush"

As the world went silent in lockdown, something else happened; for the first time, many of us started becoming more aware of the spring sounds of the birds around us. Birdsong in a Time of Silence is a lyrical, uplifting reflection on these sounds and what they mean to us.

From a portrait of the blackbird - most prominent and articulate of the early spring singers - to explorations of how birds sing, the science behind their choice of song and nest-sites, and the varied meanings that people have brought to and taken from birdsong, this book ultimately shows that natural history and human history cannot be separated. It is the story of a collective reawakening brought on by the strangest of springs.

And there was also some bookpost from Amazon Vine this week..


A family's love is tested when heroes-turned-criminals are forced to make the hardest decisions of their lives in this unforgettably moving story of love, resistance, and the lasting consequences of the Second World War.

After. Santa Cruz, California, 1953. Jean-Luc and Charlotte Beauchamps have left their war-torn memories of Paris behind to live a quiet life in America with their son, Sam. They have a house in the suburbs, they've learned to speak English, and they have regular get-togethers with their outgoing American neighbors. Every minute in California erases a minute of their lives before -- before the Germans invaded their French homeland and incited years of violence, hunger, and fear. But their taste of the American Dream shatters when officers from the U.N. Commission on War Crimes pull-up outside their home and bring Jean-Luc in for questioning.

Before. Paris, France, 1944. Germany has occupied France for four years. Jean-Luc works at the railway station at Bobigny, where thousands of Jews travel each day to be "resettled" in Germany. But Jean-Luc and other railway employees can't ignore the rumors or what they see on the tracks: too many people are packed into the cars, and bodies are sometimes left to be disposed of after a train departs. Jean-Luc's unease turns into full-blown panic when a young woman with bright green eyes bursts from the train one day alongside hundreds of screaming, terrified passengers, and pushes a warm, squirming bundle into his arms.

Told from alternating perspectives, While Paris Slept reflects on the power of love, loss, and the choices a mother will make to ensure the survival of her child. At once a visceral portrait of family ties and a meditation on nurture's influence over identity, this heartbreaking debut will irreversibly take hold of your heart.




Friday, 29 January 2021

#BlogTour CROW COURT by ANDY CHARMAN #BookReview #CrowCourt @AndyCWriter @unbounders @RandomTTours


Delighted to be sharing my thoughts on CROW COURT today on the fabulous Blog Tour! My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of  Random Things Tours for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

'Debut novels shouldn’t be this perfectly formed. Its subject is historic, yet its exploration of morality feels utterly modern. A rarity in historical fiction: it truly places you in the here and now of a world once removed. Crow Court already looks, feels and smells like a classic’ - Ben Myers, author of The Gallows Pole and The Offing 

'Inventive, original and deeply moving. There is a warmth and humanity, an acceptance of the vagaries and challenges of life' - Alice Jolly, author of Mary Anne Sate, Imbecile

Unbound’s lead fiction title for 2021: a stunning debut from a breathtakingly assured new voice in fiction Spring, 1840. In the Dorset market town of Wimborne Minster, a young choirboy drowns himself. Soon after, the choirmaster—a belligerent man with a vicious reputation—is found murdered, in a discovery tainted as much by relief as it is by suspicion. The gaze of the magistrates falls on four local men, whose decisions will reverberate through the community for years to come.

 So begins the chronicle of Crow Court, unravelling over fourteen delicately interwoven episodes, the town of Wimborne their backdrop: a young gentleman and his groom run off to join the army; a sleepwalking cordwainer wakes on his wife’s grave; desperate farmhands emigrate. We meet the composer with writer’s block; the smuggler; a troupe of actors down from London; and old Art Pugh, whose impoverished life has made him hard to amuse. Meanwhile, justice waits… 

‘A confident and exciting debut: exactly observed, densely textured and richly flavoured, Crow Court is throbbing with life' - Rick Gekoski, author of Darke 

‘This clever narrative is both page-turning and original - an innovative and beautifully-written historical novel that features an array of diverse characters and voices from its vividly-realised Dorset setting' - Jane Harris, author of Sugar Money

 'A gripping mystery, beautifully teased out over several decades, full of intrigue and ambiguity' - Andy Hamilton, author of Longhand 

Published by UNBOUND


About the author: 

Andy Charman was born in Dorset and grew up near Wimborne Minster, where Crow Court is set. His short stories have appeared in various anthologies and magazines, including Pangea and Cadenza. Crow Court is his first novel, which he worked on at the Arvon course at The Hurst in Shropshire in 2018. Andy lives in Surrey and is available for interview, comment and events.


I was drawn to this book because of the links to Wimbourne, a place where I spent many happy holidays as a child, and it was brilliant to be transported back in time for this 'history mystery' that had me anxiously turning the pages to see how things would pan out for all the characters.  And it was a novel experience not to be having much sympathy for the choirmaster victim!! His death shook the local community albeit tinged with relief, but as the story evolves and widens you see behind the facade and the beliefs, and get the reality of someone abusing their power but people keeping quiet about it.  

When a choirboy drowns in Wimbourne, nobody has any idea of the chain of events that  his death will lead to.  But the whispers begin and we get to see various stories of local characters who are linked with the tragedy and how the gossip affects them and their behaviour. 

The story is told in such a way that you get a real feel for the history of the times - the goings on, the way of life and the local dialect used, which has a handy glossary at the back of the book so you can understand phrase used a little more!

There are many secrets being kept and many 'naysayers' who won't even entertain the idea that the claims about the choirmaster and his 'indiscretions' - even as a reader, you are really left doubting the rumours at times, and struggle to pin down the accused as they all have seemingly good stories behind them!  So what really did happen that night?!  There's always more to the story than meets the eye!

I really loved the pace of this story.  The language did take some getting used to, but once I was accustomed to it I really felt that I was on the fly on the wall watching the crime being solved in front of me.  The different storylines are woven together very carefully and link brilliantly together! An impressive debut!


Tuesday, 26 January 2021




When practising what you preach is easier said than done …

Professor Maxie Reddick has her reasons for being sceptical of traditional policing methods, but, in between her criminology lecturing job and her Criminal Thoughts podcast, she stays firmly on the side lines of the crime solving world.

Then a young woman is brutally attacked, and suddenly it’s essential that Maxie turns her words into actions; this is no longer an academic exercise – this is somebody’s life.

But as she delves deeper, the case takes a sickening turn, which leads Maxie to the horrifying realisation that the attack might not have been a one-off. It seems there’s a depraved individual out there seeking revenge, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it … little by little … one by one.



This is a book that hits the ground running and then doesn't let up with the tension and twists! And I loved it!  It's one of those books that instantly grabs you and doesn't let go!! And in Professor Maxie, the author has created a character who you want on your side as she's tenacious in her pursuit of the perpetrator, no matter what it costs her personally.

When a young woman is raped, Maxie is brought in by her friend who wants Georgina to report the attack to the police.  She's obviously very traumatised by the attack and struggles to open up.  Maxie has a way with words to try and tease little snippets of information out of her and sets out to retrace her steps on the night of the wedding party when the attack took place.

Her role as a professor of criminology means she pays attention to the smallest of details and that proves her strength in her quest to find out just who would commit such an act.  And when the case takes an even darker turn, she is drawn in even more and might even be putting her own family at risk.

And we also get to see things from the viewpoint of the criminal himself which gave an incredible insight into his frame of mind and his attempts to justify his actions. Putting the blame on the victim and doing all he can to stay out of sight.

There is a great flow to this book. The action never lets up and alongside the investigation into the attack, we also see that things aren't great for Maxie in her own personal  life and haven't been for some time.  You often wonder if she's spending so much time on the case in order to avoid things at home.

This was an intense and thrilling story and I can't wait to read more from the author!


#GuestPost ONE BY ONE by HELEN BRIDGETT #PublicationDay @RubyFiction @Helen_Bridgett


Happy Publication Day to Helen Bridgett!  It's release day for One By One and I'm very happy to be handing over my Blog today for Helen to give you a little more info about her book!!

Over to you Helen...


One by One is my debut crime thriller for Ruby Fiction. Previously I’ve written romantic comedies but across both genres you’ll find a strong female protagonist right at the centre, dealing with whatever life throws at them.

One by One features Professor Maxie Reddick - a lively, intelligent character who teaches Criminology at the local university and has her own crime podcast. She gets very frustrated by all the TV cop shows and detective novels because she knows that, in real life, many crimes are never solved. In an outburst on her podcast, she tells her listeners that because the conviction rates are so low, she could probably do better herself.

Listening to her is a young woman who desperately needs the Professor’s help. Now that her bluff has been called, Maxie has to put her money where her mouth is and begin an investigation.

Throughout the novel, I’m asking the reader to put themselves in Maxie’s position and ask themselves – what would I do? Maxie cannot relax knowing that someone might get away with a horrific crime but as events progress she realises there is a thin line between seeking justice and vengeful vigilantism.

I looked at several career options for Maxie in the course of developing the story, but when I started to research the study of Criminology I found it completely fascinating. Students ask questions like: Who gets to decide what is a criminal act? and What new actions should be a criminal act? The questions seem even more pertinent after a year in which visiting one’s friends and family has suddenly become more or less illegal. I have to confess that I’d love to be debating these questions in a lecture theatre, and in writing the novel I was able to indulge that fantasy.

I have another Professor Reddick novel in development so I hope that this one is well-received and that I keep readers guessing right until the end!

Back of the book says

When practising what you preach is easier said than done …

Professor Maxie Reddick has her reasons for being sceptical of traditional policing methods, but, in between her criminology lecturing job and her Criminal Thoughts podcast, she stays firmly on the side lines of the crime solving world.

Then a young woman is brutally attacked, and suddenly it’s essential that Maxie turns her words into actions; this is no longer an academic exercise – this is somebody’s life.

But as she delves deeper, the case takes a sickening turn, which leads Maxie to the horrifying realisation that the attack might not have been a one-off. It seems there’s a depraved individual out there seeking revenge, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it … little by little … one by one.

About the author

I live in the North East of England with my hubby and our chocolate Labrador Angus. Walking the dog frequently inspires scenes, short stories or plotlines as we’re out in all weathers in the glorious Northumberland countryside.

I guess I began writing with a diary as I’ve kept one for as long as I can remember and I’ve always loved the physical act of writing – putting pen to paper. I love exploring words and discovering new books – everything about the craft. Whenever I talk to other authors, I hear similar experiences – how they loved to write poetry at school but never kept it up, how they used to make up stories for their siblings – I was just the same. However, when I left University I went into marketing and although I really enjoyed it, the urge to write a book never went away. One year, I simply decided it was now or never!

I made a new year’s resolution to write a novel and give it as a Christmas present. My first novel, The Mercury Travel Club was born and the characters took on a life of their own resulting in the sequel -The Heat is On.

In 2020 I signed with Ruby Fiction and a new set of characters took up the main stage in Summer at Serenity Bay.

You can follow Helen on twitter @Helen_Bridgett

Buying links: 

Kindle UK: 

Apple Books:


Sunday, 24 January 2021




For as long as I can remember feeling things, I’ve felt sadness. Now, for example, I feel sad that we have no money. Also a little mad that a bunch of idiots seem to have it all. But sad, mostly, because I think that’s just the way things are. It’s an all-encompassing feeling, like my lungs are filled with it instead of air.
You’d think it would feel better to be at one with the world.

Janet works at a rundown dog shelter in the woods. She wears black, loves the Smiths, and can’t wait to get rid of her passive-aggressive boyfriend. Her brain is full of anxiety, like “one of those closets you never want to open because everything will fall out and crush you.” She has a meddlesome family, eccentric coworkers, one old friend who’s left her for Ibiza, and one new friend who’s really just a neighbor she sees in the hallway. Most of all, Janet has her sadness—a comfortable cloak she uses to insulate herself from the oppressions of the wider world.

That is, until one fateful summer when word spreads about a new pill that offers even cynics like her a short-term taste of happiness . . . just long enough to make it through the holidays without wanting to stab someone with a candy cane. When her family stages an intervention, her boyfriend leaves, and the prospect of making it through Christmas alone seems like too much, Janet decides to give them what they want. What follows is life-changing for all concerned—in ways no one quite expects.

Hilarious, bitterly wise, and surprisingly warm, Sad Janet is the depression comedy you never knew you needed.



Bloody brilliant!!

I wouldn't call Janet sad, I'd call her a realist! A non conformist. A woman being herself!! And that's what made this such a striking read and hit home so much for me!! She doesn't follow fads or trends, and she almost embraces her 'sadness' in the way she sees the world! She knows it's not all puppies and unicorns, she despairs at the injustices and fakeness of the world where others seemingly throw themselves at ways of fitting in, scared of missing out on something.

Janet is a woman who is sad at the state of the world - she isn't alone on that front! She works at a local dog shelter where she can avoid people! A smart woman!! But her family and friend despair at her apathetic perception of the world. They want her to smile more and find the happiness they claim to have - courtesy of a variety of pills! - so constantly pester her to seek medical help. But that's just not Janet!! She embraces the rough with the smooth! She almost finds comfort in her sadness! She understands her sadness! The sadness just bothers other people!

Her sadness makes others uncomfortable so she starts to ponder the option given to her by the Doctor to take a pill that will let her leave the sadness behind. Is it easy to just take a pill and have a different reaction to life? It seems to work for many others in the world so maybe this new option could be a godsend for her.

I loved seeing her wrestle with this big decision. With her seeing through the b***s*** of life and all in it, she is happy being 'quietly sad'. But to please others she starts to consider the options, weighing up the pros and cons of being part of this trial period for this pill. Is it worth it to make others happy? Does that stop her being 'her'?

I could happily wax lyrical about this book and the character of Janet! She is so observant and incisive on the ways of the world! It totally captures the insanity of the world we live in - the obsession with popping pills, with being happy 24/7 and living in a medicated world where people just become emotionless robots, all doing the same thing, thinking the same way..... is that the true definition of happy?

She seems angry at the way the world and others think she needs fixing. What is wrong with feeling things? Why is she made to feel like she's the odd one out and should she just do what everyone else does just to fit in - something I think we all feel especially nowadays with the impact social media has on us all.

This was a book that is dark, cutting, witty, hilarious and beautifully insightful. As Janet begins her journey into a different way of life, we get to meet others who think the way she does and see how fitting in makes her feel. Will it appease her family? And at what cost to her? This is a book that has so many moments that make you think and reassess your viewpoint on doing what is right for yourself!

A brilliant read - go buy it!!! NOW!!!!


Saturday, 23 January 2021




**The BRAND NEW series from Holly Hepburn, perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley and Katie Fforde**

'Joyous – a treat of a tale that whisks your heart away to the beautiful shores of Orkney. Prepare to fall in love with this fantastic series!' MIRANDA DICKINSON

On paper, Merina Wilde has it all: a successful career writing the kind of romantic novels that make even the hardest hearts swoon, a perfect carousel of book launches and parties to keep her social life buzzing, and a childhood sweetheart who thinks she’s a goddess. But Merry has a secret: the magic has stopped flowing from her fingers. Try as she might, she can’t summon up the sparkle that makes her stories shine. And as her deadline whooshes by, her personal life falls apart too. Alex tells her he wants something other than the future she’d always imagined for them and Merry finds herself single for the first time since – well, ever.

Desperate to get her life back on track, Merry leaves London and escapes to the windswept Orkney Islands, locking herself away in a secluded clifftop cottage to try to heal her heart and rediscover her passion for writing. But can the beauty of the islands and the kindness of strangers help Merry to fool herself into believing in love again, if only long enough to finish her book? Or is it time for her to give up the career she’s always adored and find something new to set her soul alight?





This book started life as 4 novellas, but I'm extremely glad to have discovered it in its' new format! This had all the feelgood boxes ticked, full of characters that you instantly warm to and will have you ready to move to Orkney in a heartbeat to be part of the friendly community!

Merry is a writer who has hit the dreaded writer's block phase of her life, alongside recently being dumped by her boyfriend of 15 years! She needs a change of scenery so when the opportunity to go to Orkney for a 6 month writer in residence position she is fully up for it!

She finds herself living in a remote croft in a stunning setting - I want to live there! - and ready for this next chapter of her life, whatever that may bring her way. She is taking to the bosom of the local community straight away as they love a writer, treating them like rock stars!!

The characters she meets along the way are so warm and friendly, from Niall the perfect host showing her all the local sights, Magnus the hot viking, and Sheila her elderly neighbour, who is only old in numbers and not in spirit! She finds herself adapting to Orkney life really easily and starts taking inspiration from local history to spark her back into writing again.

Ooh and not forgetting Gordon the goat who causes chaos wherever he roams!! This was one of those books that I raced through as I just adored seeing how life would pan out for Merry - both professionally and personally! - and it didn't disappoint in the choices she made!! Wonderful!!





Have the tissues ready for this beautifully written, emotional debut novel.

What if you became an outsider in your own life?
Jennifer Hughes doesn’t have an extraordinary life, but that doesn’t matter – she loves her family and enjoys her job as a teacher. In her eyes, her unextraordinary life is utterly perfect.

But then, in the blink of an eye, Jennifer finds herself cut off from everything she knew and loved, confined to a strange new world and forced to watch from a distance as her family and friends pick up the pieces.

Can Jennifer hold her perfect life together, even though she’s not living it herself?










This was a really touching and emotional read that explores the possibility of a loved one watching over you after they've passed, and trying to help you get back on the path of living a happy life despite being overwhelmed by grief and not being able to see a way forward.

Jennifer is killed in a car crash and the rest of her family survive so the story is told from her point of view, as well as through the eyes of her family left behind.  Both viewpoints share that anger, the shock, the disbelief in how their lives have changed and the battles that lay ahead.  

From her point of view, you sense her frustration at the regrets, the injustice of it all and then the suffering of having to watch over her family as they try and move on.  Her husband David is the one who struggles the most and watching him return home without Jen was heartbreaking.  All those reminders of her dotted around, knowing she'll never return.

What gives him comfort is the feeling that she is watching over him, even if his kids think he's going mad with the way he starts acting, and that was the most touching thing about the story!  Those little things that make us feel like our guardian angel is taking care of things and keeping an eye out for us - just having that feeling that you're not alone make all the difference.

A really striking story that will bring a tear to your eye and a warm glow to your heart!


My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up - 23rd January 2021


Hello and Happy Saturday! Not many left now in January! Another year that's going to fly by again?!  A rather wet and blustery week here which has meant the garden has suffered a bit ... but still no snow here!

On the bookish front it's been another productive reading week with another 5 finished! But the pile I want to read still continues to grow so I've forced myself not to even peek at Netgalley this week!!

Here's my look back...



One book through the post for review...

publication date - 6th May 2021

In 2017, Rebecca Schiller turned fantasy to reality and moved her family to a countryside smallholding for a life of sowing and growing. But as the first few years go by, and the ever-expanding list of tasks builds to a cacophony, it becomes clear that this is not going to be simple.

Another January comes in, and with it the threat of a mental health crisis, and so Rebecca turns to the garden where she has made her home, and to the women of this place's past. Here, she stumbles on a wild space of imaginative leaps, where she begins to uncover the hidden layers of her plot's history - and of herself.

The ground under Rebecca's boots offers hard lessons as the seasons shift, delivering unflinching glimpses of damage done to peoples and the planet and regular defeats in her battle with the slugs.

Yet as the New Year returns, carrying a life-changing diagnosis and then a global pandemic, Rebecca begins to move forwards with hope: the small holding has become her anchor, her teacher and her family's shelter. Because when we find ourselves in an unknown land, we all need something small to hold on to and a way to keep ourselves earthed.



When practising what you preach is easier said than done …

Professor Maxie Reddick has her reasons for being sceptical of traditional policing methods, but, in between her criminology lecturing job and her Criminal Thoughts podcast, she stays firmly on the side lines of the crime solving world.

Then a young woman is brutally attacked, and suddenly it’s essential that Maxie turns her words into actions; this is no longer an academic exercise – this is somebody’s life.

But as she delves deeper, the case takes a sickening turn, which leads Maxie to the horrifying realisation that the attack might not have been a one-off. It seems there’s a depraved individual out there seeking revenge, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it … little by little … one by one.