blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Cherries – D.B Carter*

When they have broken you, when you have been humiliated, bullied, deserted and destitute, can you find a place where you may dare to be happy?

Susan travels with her mother, escaping a life of heartbreak and poverty in the city, to live with their one remaining friend in a small rural village.

At twenty Susan is still bound by the trauma of her youth, but starts to blossom into womanhood, thanks to the tender encouragement of Luke, the eccentric occupant of ‘The Cherries’, who lives surrounded by books and art. It is a journey of tears and laughter, helping to heal mind and spirit.

But can the past ever be truly behind you?

Feeling safe and secure at last, mother and daughter nurture artistic talents that they had long since thought worthless, and their lives take directions they could never have imagined.

Yet, amongst the kindness and love in their new community, there lies hidden grief and a long-suppressed secret that must come to light. Something that might force Susan to another life beyond the confines of the village.

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D B Carter writes contemporary drama and romance novels, dealing with difficult subjects as well has happier themes. A son of two painters, he grew up surrounded by art and through that world, he met many interesting characters. Later, he ran his own successful company for over 20 years, before taking up his life-long desire to be a writer.
He lives with his wife of 30 years in rural Devon, England. A lifelong bibliophile, he loves reading classical literature, including Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, Thomas Hardy and Anthony Trollope; a childhood of Saturday afternoon black-and-white movies added to his appreciation of sagas and drama.
His world view is, “If we look for the good, we will find it.”

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My thoughts:

This was a very thoughtful, moving book. The characters are well written and feel very real as they deal with life’s challenges and curveballs.

Susan’s life has been hard and she has struggled with it but on moving with her mum to a old friend’s home, she learns to trust people again and find her place in the world.

I found the characters, especially Susan, very relatable and empathetic.

The writing is crisp and inviting, flowing along well, taking you with it.

*this book was gifted to me in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: I Hold Your Heart – Karen Gregory*

‘You make me feel like there’s something good in the world I can hold on to,’ Aaron says. He kisses me again, draws me so close it’s almost hard to breathe. ‘I love you, Gem. And I promise I’ll hold your heart forever.’

When Gemma meets Aaron, she feels truly seen for the first time. Their love story is the intense kind. The written-in-the-stars, excluding-all-others kind. The kind you write songs about.

But little by little their relationship takes over Gemma’s life. What happens when being seen becomes being watched, and care becomes control?

Told in both Gemma’s and Aaron’s words, this is a raw, moving exploration of gaslighting in teenage relationships that skewers our ideas of what love looks like.

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Karen Gregory has been a confirmed bookworm since early childhood. She wrote her first story about Bantra the mouse aged twelve, then put away the word processor until her first child was born, when she was overtaken by the urge to write. Her first novel, Countless, published in 2017, was shortlisted for the Leeds Book Award and longlisted for the Branford Boase. Her second novel, Skylarks, was published in 2018. Karen lives in Wiltshire with her family.

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My thoughts:

With coercive control becoming more widely recognised as a function of domestic abusers, this is a timely and thoughtful account of how such manipulation works told through the relationship of teenagers Gemma and Aaron.

At times shocking and painful to read, the well written novel illustrates how easy it is to fall for an abuser and how hard it can be to see the reality of that abuse.

Gregory writes with passion and care, sympathetic to her readers, some of whom may recognise themselves in her characters, and perhaps be encouraged to seek help. This is a difficult subject handled with immense care and not given over to easy caricatures as a less skilled writer might. I hope many teenagers pick up a copy.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in order to take part in the blog tour.

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Blog Tour: The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston – John Tarrow*

Abandoned and alone, thirteen-year-old Joe’s world is shattered when he enters a deserted council house and becomes trapped within a labyrinth protecting the last magical places on earth. There, Joe discovers a book charting this immense no-man’sland, without time or place, its thirteen doors each leading to a different realm.

Hunted by sinister foes, the boy is forced ever deeper into both the maze and the mystery of his missing parents. What will he find at the labyrinth’s centre, and can it reunite him with the family he so desperately needs?

Crossing through diverse landscapes from Victorian Britain to fifties New Orleans, The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston is inspired by the internationally famous house and gardens dubbed ‘Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home’ by the Sunday Times. It is a classic YA tale of adventure that introduces readers to another world hiding in plain sight, cloaked in magic and steeped in imagined history. Yet beyond its fearsome huntsmen and battling magicians dwells the secret that lies within all of us – the power to live extraordinary lives.

John Tarrow is a novelist, poet, storyteller and award-winning writer. His fascination with folk and faerie tales has taken him around the world, gathering threads of story and legend to weave into his own mythologies: his extensive studies in Lakota Sioux and Druidic traditions offer readers stories resonant with magic, folklore and the wonders of the natural world. He spent twenty-five years transforming a three-bedroom, semi-detached, ex council house in Essex into the world-famous Talliston House and Gardens.

My thoughts:

Ok, so this book is inspired by a real place, that you can actually visit, in Great Dunmow, Essex. So I’ve added that to my list of places to go to asap.

A really accessible, clever, funny fantasy novel, full of little references to other fantasy books (and at one point Disney’s Pocahontas – at least to me!)

Joe is the relatable, every kid hero, who encounters magical birds, strange and powerful mystics, travelling through time and space via a mysterious house and its labyrinth.

I really enjoyed reading this, it’s a romp and so well written that it pulls you into the story swiftly, with its use of different myths and legends, locations, time periods and cast of unique characters.


*I was kindly gifted this book in return for taking part in the blog tour.

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Blog Tour: The Fragility of Bodies – Sergei Oluguin*

The first in a series of novels by Olguín starring the journalist Veronica Rosenthal. It is set in Buenos-Aires and has been made into a TV series currently showing in Argentina.

Veronica is a successful young journalist, beautiful, unmarried, with a healthy appetite for bourbon and men. She is a fascinating and complicated heroine, driven by a sense of justice but also by lust and ambition.

Sensual and terse, the novel is also fiercely critical of a system that tolerates the powerful and wealthy of Buenos Aires putting the lives of young boys at risk for their entertainment.

When she hears about the suicide of a local train driver who has jumped off the roof of a block of flats, leaving a suicide note confessing to four mortal ‘accidents’ on the train tracks, she decides to investigate.

For the police the case is closed (suicide is suicide), for Veronica it is the beginning of a journey that takes her into an unfamiliar world of grinding poverty, junkie infested neighborhoods, and train drivers on commuter lines haunted by the memory of bodies hit at speed by their locomotives in the middle of the night.

Aided by a train driver informant, a junkie in rehab and two street kids willing to risk everything for a can of Coke, she uncovers a group of men involved in betting on working-class youngsters convinced to play Russian roulette by standing in front of fast-coming trains to see who endures the longest.

With bodies of children crushed under tons of steel, those of adults yielding to relentless desire, the resolution of the investigation reveals the deep bonds which unite desire and death.

Sergio Olguín was born in Buenos Aires in 1967 and was a journalist before turning to fiction. Olguín has won a number of awards, among others the Premio Tusquets 2009 for his novel Oscura monótona sangre (“Dark Monotonous Blood“)

His books have been translated into German, French and Italian. The Fragility of Bodies is his first novel to be translated into English.

The translator Miranda France is the author of two acclaimed volumes of travel writing: Don Quixote’s Delusions and Bad Times in Buenos Aires.

She has also written the novels Hill Farm and The Day Before the Fire and translated much Latin American fiction, including Claudia Piñeiro’s novels for Bitter Lemon Press.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this, it reminded me of the Millennium novels,but without sexual violence.

The crimes Veronica investigates are seemingly accidental but turn out to involve powerful and corrupt men.

The writing is compelling and well paced, drawing you into the knotty investigation and Veronica’s own complicated life.

This is definitely a thriller for fans of Scandi noir – only hotter and with more South American. I hope there are translations of the author’s books in the pipeline.


*I was gifted this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour.

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Blog Tour: The Last Stage – Louise Voss*

At the peak of her career as lead singer of a legendary 1980s indie band, Meredith Vincent was driven off the international stage by a horrific incident. Now she lives incognito in a cottage on the grounds of Minstead House, an old stately home, whilst working in the gift shop. Her past is behind her and she enjoys her new life. But a series of inexplicable and unsettling incidents have started to happen around her – broken china, vandalised gardens… And when a body is found in the gardens of Minstead House, Meredith realises that someone is watching, someone who knows who she is and who wants to destroy her…

A dark, riveting and chilling psychological thriller, The Final Stage is a study of secrets and obsessions, where innocent acts can have the most terrifying consequences.

Over her eighteen-year writing career, Louise Voss has had eleven novels published – five solo and six co-written with Mark Edwards: a combination of psychological thrillers, police procedurals and contemporary fiction – and sold over 350,000 books. Her most recent book, The Old You, was a number one bestseller in eBook.

Louise has an MA (Dist) in Creative Writing and also works as a literary consultant and mentor for writers at http://www.thewritingcoach.co.uk.

She lives in South-West London and is a proud member of two female crimewriting collectives, The Slice Girls and Killer Women.

My thoughts:

This was such a good book I read it twice. Having read some of Voss’ previous work I knew I was in for a treat and I was not wrong.

Having read so many thrillers and watched so many crime shows (thanks dad for getting me into all this!) I am usually pretty good at figuring out whodunnit, but I was genuinely scuppered by this one. I had no idea who it was that was stalking Meredith and the final twist had me shouting “no way!!”

The writing is so sharp, the characters strong and well drawn. Honestly it was a treat to read.

*I was gifted a copy of this book in order to take part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: J SS Bach – Martin Goodman*

J SS Bach is the story of three generations of women from either side of Germany’s 20th Century horror story – one side, a Jewish family from Vienna, the other linked to a ranking Nazi official at Dachau concentration camp – who suffer the consequences of what men do. Fast forward to 1990s California, and two survivors from the families meet. Rosa is a young Australian musicologist; Otto is a world-famous composer and cellist. Music and history link them. A novel of music, the Holocaust, love, and a dog. The author’s writing is a wonderland, captivating and drawing the reader in to the presented world. Time becomes no object as a literary universe unfolds and carries the reader through eighty years, where emotions are real and raw and beautifully given.

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Martin Goodman was born in Leicester, and has lived and worked in China, Qatar, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy and France. Travel forms a large part of his writing: both for strictly travel-related books and also for novels and biographies. His first novel ON BENDED KNEES was shortlisted for the Whitbread prize, and his most recent biography SUFFER AND SURVIVE won 1st Prize, Basis of Medicine in the BMA Book Awards 2008. He is the Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Hull. He lives in Hull, London and the French Pyrenees. ‘Such narrow, narrow confines we live in. Every so often, one of us primates escapes these dimensions, as Martin Goodman did. All we can do is rattle the bars and look after him as he runs into the hills. We wait for his letters home.’ ~ The Los Angeles Times

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My thoughts:

I struggled to get into this book, which opens with the character of Katja in Australia after the war. She’s unrepentant about her role, her husband was the adjutant of Dachau concentration camp. I really didn’t find her likeable.

Once Otto enters the narrative I found it easier to read. He’s clearly the more sympathetic figure – a Jewish teenager, a talented cellist. The plot follows him to Dachau, to meeting Katja and then to Canada as a refugee.

Years later Rosa tracks him down in his California isolation, a famous composer, and interviews him with the intention of writing a biography. Or perhaps to learn about her own family past.

This is incredibly well written and very moving at times. Highlighting a single story of one person’s survival of the horrors of the Holocaust and the deep emotional damage done to him.

*this book was gifted to me in exchange in taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Our Little Secrets – Peter Ritchie*

This is the fifth book in the Grace Macallan series, but the first one I’ve read.

Written by a retired senior police officer with an extensive career, this book delves deep into the gangs and criminal conspiracies in Scotland’s underworld.

Grace Macallan is working in Counter Corruption, investigating dodgy officers like DI Janet Hadden who is running her own schemes involving some dangerous men.

I found this book really enjoyable and well written; the plot is well paced and draws you into the narrative.

The characters are well drawn, you even end up feeling sorry for one of the criminals; I don’t think he deserved what he got!

*I was gifted a copy of this book in order to take part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.