blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Hiding Place – Amanda Mason*

Some secrets can never be concealed . . .

Nell Galilee, her husband and twelve year old step-daughter Maude rent a holiday cottage by the sea, needing time and space away from home. Nell grew up in this small, wind-blown town and has mixed feelings about returning, and it isn’t long before she is recognised by a neighbour, seemingly desperate to befriend her. The cottage has been empty for some time, and from the start Nell feels uncomfortable there. Something isn’t quite right about this place . . .

Maude, furious about being brought here against her will, soon finds herself beguiled by the house’s strange atmosphere. There are peculiar marks in the roof beams above her bedroom, and in another room, a hiding place, concealing a strange, unnerving object.

As the house gradually reveals its secrets, Nell becomes increasingly uneasy – and Maude spellbound. But these women – and the women that surround them – are harbouring their own secrets too, and soon events will come to a terrible head . . .

A brilliant, unsettling and chilling novel of mothers and daughters, truth and deception and the lengths people will go to, to obtain power over their own lives, The Hiding Place is the second chilling novel from the acclaimed author of The Wayward Girls.

My thoughts: I do like a creepy house, possibly because neither my parents’ almost 200 year old house or any of the ancient cottages of my childhood holidays were suitably spooky. No ghosts roamed the tumbling down Devon farm hands’ home turned holiday lets we stayed in, and the creepiest thing about my parents’ was the yellow nicotine stained ceilings when we first moved in.

Thankfully books deliver a nice line in sinister houses, filled with witch marks and strange artifacts hidden away in the walls and under the floor. Like this cottage in Whitby. Nell and her family are supposed to be enjoying a holiday and attending a party. But instead she and step-daughter Maude are being haunted and become obsessed with a tiny shoe (not explaining that, read the book).

Things go bump in the night, Nell’s oblivious husband has to leave, they meet the slightly strange neighbours and the previously good relationship between Maude and Nell deteriorates further. Gradually the house gives up its secrets, thanks to two intrepid teenage girls who go digging in the local museum, and the weird hold it exerts meets a match.

This was really good, well written and solidly sinister. The half answers and not quite unravelled history of the house and the land it stands on was cleverly done, while Nell feels safer at the end, the house still isn’t quite right. Probably best to head home.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Woman in the Woods – Lisa Hall

She’s out there. Waiting for you.

A haunting read about witchcraft and superstition from Lisa Hall…

When Allie moves to a quaint old cottage with her husband, it’s their dream home. Nestled in the village of Pluckley, it seems a perfect haven in which to raise their two children. But Pluckley has a reputation. It’s known as England’s most haunted village. And not long after the birth of their new son, Allie begins to notice strange things…

What’s the flash of white she sees moving quickly through the woods to the back of their house? And what’s the strange scratching noise coming from the chimney?

As Allie discovers more about the history of their new home, she uncovers a story of witchcraft and superstition, which casts a long shadow into the present day. And not everything is as it seems. Her family might well be in danger, but it’s a danger none of them could have foreseen…

Bestseller Lisa Hall’s The Woman in the Woods is full of creeping unease and nerve-wracking tension, and will have readers on the edge of their seats…

My thoughts: this was really intriguing, it reminded me a tiny bit of Little Darlings, probably because both feature new mums dealing with something creepy and supernatural.

Allie’s new home seems full of ghosts, and she finds some creepy things stashed about it, things associated with witchcraft and curses. Just the thing a sleep deprived mother of two small children needs. And then there’s her husband, Rav, who’s gone for long periods of time at work and leaves her alone with the kids even though he knows she’s exhausted and struggling. Her friend Naomi seems to be ever present and I didn’t warm to her much.

Allie needs proper support, she’s leaning on her aloof mother and while her mother-in-law seems nice, she also doesn’t offer much comfort. Allie’s seeing conspiracy everywhere and is losing her grip somewhat. I think moving to a small village, doing two of the most stressful things you can do – move house and have a baby, at the same time, pushes her too far and then she hears stories of murdered children and witches living in her house in previous centuries. It’s enough to stress anyone out.

I know that postpartum depression and psychosis are terrible conditions, I’ve seen friends really struggle with their mental wellbeing after having a baby. I live with depression and anxiety so I recognise some of the symptoms in others. One of my close friends was very ill after her first baby, she struggled a lot. Thankfully she got better with the right help and her children are quite grown up now.

I think it’s important for writers to discuss things like PPD and help destigmatise them. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, no one will think less of you. The stories Allie hears about her new home would be easy to shrug off ordinarily but as she’s not well, and isolated, it feeds her fears and adds to her poor mental health. The ending is so ambiguous, is there something there or did Allie conjure it all up while she was sick?

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Mother’s Fault – Nicole Trope

She’ll do anything to save her son. But what if telling the truth means losing him for ever?

On a crisp winter’s evening, Beverly is cooking for her son. Eight-year-old Riley is climbing a tree in the garden, and Beverly smiles as she watches him. Nothing makes her happier than her precious child having fun – she never thought they’d be happy again.

The water on the stove is boiling, and Beverly slides in a handful of spaghetti. When she glances out of the window again, Riley is not there.

She races outside, her heart thumping. Riley is nowhere to be found.

Instinctively, Beverly knows that her son has not just run away. She knows this because of her secret – the one she has kept for eight years. The one that means she has no choice but to keep neighbours at a distance, that stops her sleeping at night.

She thought she’d made the right decision, that she was protecting her son. But now he’s gone. Could this be all her fault?

She’ll do anything to save him. Yet if she tells the truth, she could lose him for ever…

A totally gripping psychological thriller that will get your pulse racing like crazy as it hits you with twist after twist after twist! If you loved The Wife Between Us or The Girl on the Train you’ll be utterly glued to this page-turner.

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Nicole Trope went to university to study Law but realised the error of her ways when she did very badly on her first law essay because, as her professor pointed out, ‘It’s not meant to be a story.’

She studied teaching instead and used her holidays to work on her writing career and complete a Masters’ degree. In between raising three children, working for her husband and renovating houses, she has published six novels. She lives in Sydney, Australia.

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My thoughts: this was very clever and I didn’t see the twists coming at all. I got the identity of Riley’s abductor completely wrong, all signs pointed to different people, very nice work. The slow build up to Beverley’s nightmare, having her son taken, then the unravelling of all her secrets was very enjoyable. That second epilogue! I need a sequel.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Cheltenham Literature Festival Blog Tour & Book Review

Something a little different today, to celebrate this year’s Cheltenham Literature Festival. Read on for info on the Festival and a review of one of the books being celebrated there.

Cheltenham Literature Festival is the world’s first literature festival, leading the way in celebrating the written and spoken word, presenting the best new voices in fiction and poetry alongside literary greats and high-profile speakers, while inspiring over 9,000 school children with a love of books through its Literature for Schools programme. 

Cheltenham Literature Festival is part of Cheltenham Festivals – a charity delivering a pioneering year-round educational programme culminating in four internationally-acclaimed Jazz, Science, Music and Literature Festivals. Cheltenham Festivals creates experiences that bring joy, spark curiosity, connect communities and inspire change.

The Festival has an accompanying year-round programme of education and talent development outreach including its flagship Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils project which has rolled out nationally, enabling teachers and their pupils to rediscover the joy of reading. The other programmes include: the award-winning Beyond Words, a creative writing project working with vulnerable young people unable to access mainstream education in Gloucestershire, Words That Burn, a national human rights poetry project created in partnership with Amnesty International and Write Now, a unique mentoring, workshop and networking project that nurtures young people’s creative writing abilities.

One of the writers featured at the festival is crime writer Mick Herron, who will be at an event celebrating the life and career of John Le Carrè. Herron is sometimes seen as Le Carrè’s literary heir and his most recent title is Slough House, which I was kindly sent to review below.

Slough House – the crumbling office building to which failed spies, the ‘slow horses’, are banished – has been wiped from secret service records.

Reeling from recent losses in their ranks, the slow horses are worried they’ve been pushed further into the cold, and fatal accidents keep happening.

With a new populist movement taking a grip on London’s streets, the aftermath of a blunder by the Russian secret service that left a British citizen dead, and the old order ensuring that everything’s for sale to the highest bidder, the world’s an uncomfortable place for those deemed surplus to requirements. The wise move would be to find a safe place and wait for the troubles to pass.

But the slow horses aren’t famed for making wise decisions.

My thoughts: this was very enjoyable, with lots of intrigue and conspiracies to keep the characters occupied in chasing around London and out into the countryside after a pair of Russian assassins, who are chasing after Jackson Lamb’s team and he’s not happy about it.

Diana Taverner might be First Desk at M15 but she’s not as in control as she thinks, stupidly getting entangled with dangerous men who play the political long game and far better than she can. She’s in it up to her neck and only Lamb and his band of misfits can sort things out, whatever their reputation as slow horses suggests.

Jackson Lamb is probably the unhealthiest spy around, overweight, chain smoking, perpetually drunk and living on a diet of terrible takeaways, he’s hardly the suave, sophisticated ideal, but he’s survived a long time in this world and under the dishevelled appearance is a top notch brain. Same goes in many ways for the rest of his team – they might not be the ones pipped for bright futures but they’ve got skills and are innocuous enough that they don’t look like much of a threat.

I’ve only read one other book in this series, a while ago, but the writing is very clever and the plot gripping, just the right amount of convoluted. I might just have to check the rest of the series out, see what else Lamb and his slow horses have been up to.

This ends with question marks over the future for the team and indeed the life of one member. Will they be allowed to stay at Slough House, quietly doing boring busy work for MI5 or will there be changes coming?

*parts of this blog post were created using a press release but the opinions expressed in the book review are my own.*

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: A Clockwork River – J.S. Emery

A sister searches for her missing brother as a new power rises amid the splendour
and the squalor of a once great city in this thrilling hydropunk debut from J.S. Emery.
Lower Rhumbsford is a city far removed from its glory days. On the banks of the great river Rhumb, its founding fathers channelled the river’s mighty flow into a subterranean labyrinth of pipes, valves and sluices, a feat of hydraulic prowess that would come to power an empire. But a thousand years have passed since then, and something is wrong. The pipes are leaking, the valves stuck, the sluices silted. The erstwhile mighty Rhumb is sluggish and about to freeze over for the first time in memory.
In a once fashionable quarter of the once great city, in the once grand ancestral home of a family once wealthy and well-known, live the last descendants of the city’s most distinguished engineer, siblings Samuel and Briony Locke.
Having abandoned his programme in hydraulic engineering, Samuel Locke tends to his vast lock collection, while his sister Briony distracts herself from the prospect of marriage to a rich old man with her alchemical experiments. One night Sam leaves the house carrying five of his most precious locks and doesn’t come back…
As she searches for her brother, Briony will be drawn into a web of ancestral secrets and imperial intrigues as a ruthless new power arises. If brother and sister are to be reunited, they will need the help of a tight-lipped house spirit, a convict gang, a club of antiques enthusiasts, a tribe of troglodytes, the Ladies Whist Club, the deep state, a travelling theatrical troupe and a lovesick mouse.
Epic, rollicking and in love with language, Jacob and Sara Emery’s sprawling debut novel of humble kitchen magics and awe-inspiring civil engineering is a rare and delicious commodity – the world’s first hydropunk novel. Amazon


J. S. Emery is a brother-sister writing team, born in North Idaho into a homeschooling family of seven children, each of whom received an air rifle and a copy of The Odyssey by way of a fifth birthday present. This background prepared them wonderfully for writing fantasy novels
but very poorly for formal education. After dropping out of secondary school, they worked jobs including ballet dancer, emergency room janitor, and map librarian in various parts of Europe and North America. They now live in the United States, where they are godparents
(and, increasingly, dungeon masters) to one another’s children.

My thoughts: this is a big book, a nice chunky doorstop but I whizzed through it, like the river rumbling its way through the pipes beneath the city. The plot crackles and carries you through the streets of Lower Rhumbsford and out into the countryside beyond with Sam and the drawing rooms of the finest houses with Briony. They uncover ancient plumbing on its knees, plots to wipe the city away, murderers and theatrical types, Sam is forcibly enrolled in the army, Briony almost marries a despot and the two siblings have so many adventures on their way back to each other.

This was so much fun, even if it was a bit heavy to hold, it might have been good in two smaller tomes, each with a lovely cover – the bronze river flowing down the the dust cover. Also one of the heroes of the book, possibly the most heroic, is a small spotted mouse.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Room in the Attic – Louise Douglas

A child who does not know her name…
In 1903 fishermen find a wrecked boat containing a woman, who has been badly beaten, and a young girl. An ambulance is sent for, and the two survivors are taken to All Hallows, the imposing asylum, hidden deep on Dartmoor. The woman remains in a coma, but the little girl, Harriet, awakens and is taken to an attic room, far away from the noise of the asylum, and is put in the care of Nurse Emma Everdeen.
Two motherless boys banished to boarding school…
In 1993, All Hallows is now a boarding school. Following his mother’s death and his father’s hasty remarriage, Lewis Tyler is banished to Dartmoor, stripped of his fashionable clothes, shorn of his long hair, and left feeling more alone than ever. There he meets Isak, another lost soul, and whilst refurbishment of the dormitories is taking place, the boys are marooned up in the attic, in an old wing of the school.
Cries and calls from the past that can no longer be ignored…
All Hallows is a building full of memories, whispers, cries from the past. As Lewis and Isak learn more about the fate of Harriet, and Nurse Emma’s desperate fight to keep the little girl safe, it soon
becomes clear there are ghosts who are still restless.
Are they ghosts the boys hear at night in the room above, are they the unquiet souls from the asylum still caught between the walls? And can Lewis and Isak bring peace to All Hallows before the past breaks them first…

Praise for Louise Douglas
‘A brilliantly written, gripping, clever, compelling story, that I struggled to put down. The vivid descriptions, the evocative plot and the intrigue that Louise created, which had me constantly asking
questions, made it a highly enjoyable, absolute treasure of a read.’ Kim Nash on The Scarlet Dress
‘A tender, heart-breaking, page-turning read’ Rachel Hore on The House by the Sea
‘The perfect combination of page-turning thriller and deeply emotional family story. Superb.’ Nicola Cornick on The House by the Sea
‘Kept me guessing until the last few pages and the explosive ending took my breath away.’ C.L. Taylor, author of The Accident on Your Beautiful Lies
‘Beautifully written, chillingly atmospheric and utterly compelling, The Secret by the Lake is Louise Douglas at her brilliant best’ Tammy Cohen, author of The Broken
‘A master of her craft, Louise Douglas ratchets up the tension in this haunting and exquisitely written tale of buried secrets and past tragedy.’ Amanda Jennings, author of Sworn Secret
‘A clammy, atmospheric and suspenseful novel, it builds in tension all the way through to the startling final pages.’ Sunday Express, S Magazine

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Louise Douglas is the bestselling and brilliantly reviewed author of 6 novels including The Love of my Life and Missing You – a RNA award winner. The Secrets Between Us was a Richard and Judy Book
Club pick. She lives in the West Country. Louise’s first book for Boldwood, The House by the Sea was published in March 2020.

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My thoughts: this was really enjoyable and clever, moving between timelines, 1903 and 1993. The terrible events the boys uncover the story of in the school library, shouldn’t have happened and they wonder if they can change them.

In 1903, nurse Emma Everdene is charged with caring with little Harriet, who’s suffered a terrible trauma, and slowly Emma coaxes the story out of the child, but it doesn’t add up with the mysterious Mrs March’s account.

In 1993, two lonely boys, Isak and Lewis become friends in the asylum turned school. They become scared and fascinated by the noises coming from the attic above their room. Finding out about Emma and Harriet, they try to find a way to save them from their terrible fates.

Slowly the two storylines converge and something magical and mysterious happens, something that changes the course of all of their lives. I was completely hooked by the plot, and really felt for Lewis and Isak – their families aren’t very warm or loving, their school is cold and still uses corporal punishment (something I’m pretty sure was illegal in 1993, I was at school then), but they’re so clever and caring boys who want to help change Emma’s terrible fate. Emma is also a hugely caring person, and far more intelligent than the men in charge think she is. She solves the case of Mrs March and Harriet a long time before anyone else. A hugely enjoyable and redemptive story.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Absolution – Rachelle Storm

Perfect for fans of I am Number Four and Gone, Rachelle Storm’s debut, Absolution weaves together an unforgettable plot of forbidden desire and sworn duty as three immortal brothers struggle to protect themselves—and all of humanity—from a corrupt world.

Chris Harris’s destiny was bestowed on him before birth, just as it was on his two brothers, John and Randy. Not human but the physical embodiment of elemental water, earth, and fire, they’ve been burdened with protecting Earth and freeing the world from the Ultimate Evil.

However, unlike their elemental forms, their human selves have desires of their own. After being hidden away in the remote town of Anderson, North Dakota, Chris and his two brothers hoped that their problems would end, but they’ve only just begun. Now their individual destinies are intertwined with the unpredictable McNamara sisters—Joanie, Victoria, and Stacie—and the Ultimate Evil is drawing ever nearer. Forced to choose love or duty, regardless of their decisions, nothing will ever be the same for the Harris brothers.

The first in a four-book series, Absolution blends together the forbidden romance of Twilight, the hidden magic and secret guardians of City of Glass, and the non-stop action of The Fifth Wave. Absolution is a whirlwind of adventure for Chris and his brothers as they explore a world more vast, and more dangerous, than any of which they’d dreamed. But now, the nightmare comes.

Author Rachelle Storm, a self-proclaimed fandom geek, has built a new world readers won’t want to leave. With a fast-paced story that hooks you immediately, this stunning debut will keep you turning the pages with straightforward writing that doesn’t overshadow the complex characters, plot, and action.

“A contemporary, modern fantasy-romance, the story is traditionally romantic and yet feminist, mainstream and diverse, with multiracial characters looking to break through the glass ceiling to shatter the expectations of what love interests and heroes in the genre can embody,” Storm says. “The book is a love letter to the YA fandoms of the past who embraced and welcomed me as a young adult.”

Wanting to write multiracial, diverse main characters she wished would have been available when she was a young reader, Storm’s story shares her message that what we are taught to believe and told we are in the world are not the only things that define us as people.

Rachelle Storm has been a fandom geek since its earliest beginnings and never stopped. A Black scholar holding a doctoral degree in Writing Studies, she researches rhetoric, music, and popular culture. In truth, Rachelle never isn’t writing or sharing her knowledge with her fans. However, on the off-chance she isn’t working or experimenting with paper and ink, you can find her at music festivals and independent bookstores. Absolution is her debut novel. The second book in the series, Absolution: Revelations, will be published July 2022. Find her online at rachellestorm.com or connect with her on social media (Instagram; TikTok; Twitter; and Facebook). Join the Absolution fandom on Facebook or Goodreads.

My thoughts: this was an interesting premise, and although the brothers start out sounding a bit like robots, as they get to know the McNamara sisters and interact with humans, they become less wooden and stilted in their speech. The idea of raising these heroes in isolation might have made sense to the mysterious Guardians, but it means they don’t really understand who and what they’re protecting.

The three sisters, on the other hand, are warm and affectionate, openly teasing each other and finding joy in life. The opposite in many ways. They offer a balance in terms of the way the Harris’ think and act. And when one of them is threatened, they band together in defence.

The epilogue sets up the narrative for the next book, offering up villains, people who want to find the brothers and manipulate them for their own means. As naive as they are of people, it will be interesting to see how they defeat this threat, while still learning about their own humanity.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Cold as Hell – Lilja Sigurđardóttir, translated by Quentin Bates

Estranged sisters Áróra and Ísafold live in different countries, and are not on speaking terms. When their mother loses contact with Ísafold, Áróra reluctantly returns to Iceland to look for her. But she soon realizes that her sister isn’t avoiding her … she has disappeared, without a trace. As she confronts Ísafold’s abusive, drug-dealing boyfriend Björn, and begins to probe her sister’s reclusive neighbours – who have their own reasons for staying out of sight – Áróra is drawn into an ever-darker web of intrigue and manipulation. Baffled by the conflicting details of her sister’s life, and blinded by the shiveringly bright midnight sun of the Icelandic summer, Áróra enlists the help of police officer Daníel, to help her track her sister’s movements, and tail Björn. But she isn’t the only one watching…

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurðardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, her English debut shortlisting for the CWA International Dagger and hitting bestseller lists worldwide. Trap soon followed suit, with the third in the trilogy Cage winning the Best Icelandic Crime Novel of the Year, and was a Guardian Book of the Year. Lilja’s standalone Betrayal, was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award for Best Nordic Crime Novel. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja is also an award-winning screenwriter in her native Iceland. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

My thoughts: this was very good, which isn’t a surprise when you consider the author. A clever, twisting narrative, where all the characters have secrets and you can’t quite work out who the killer is, there’s something very odd about Ísafold’s neighbour and he certainly knows more than he’s saying. Àroŕa might be an excellent financial investigator but she’s stumped by her sister’s disappearance and distracted by hotelier Hakon and his dubious financial dealings.

Flicking between different perspectives, slowly the events surrounding Ísafold’s disappearance start to coalesce. Then there’s Olga and Omar downstairs, with their own reasons for not wanting to speak to the police, trying to keep out of the way. But also not attract suspicion, unlike Ìsafold’s ex-partner, Bjorn, a thoroughly unlikeable man who thinks he’s above it all, despite being the main suspect.

It’s all very cleverly done, with the overlapping narratives weaving together as Daniel, the sisters’ sort of uncle, using his detective skills first unofficially, then very much opening a case, to try to find Ìsafold in the long sunny Icelandic summer. The writing is crisp and precise, keeping the reader hooked. A pleasure to read.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: We Are Not Like Them – Christine Pride & Jo Piazza

Told from alternating perspectives, an evocative and riveting story about the lifelong bond between two women, one black and one white, whose friendship is indelibly altered by a tragic event—a powerful and poignant exploration of race in America today and its devastating impact on ordinary lives.

Jen and Riley have been best friends since kindergarten. As adults, they remain as close as sisters, though their lives have taken different directions. Jen married young, and after years of trying, is finally pregnant. Riley pursued her childhood dream of becoming a television journalist and is poised to become one of the first black female anchors of the top news channel in their hometown of Philadelphia.

But when tragedy strikes, the deep bond the two women share is severely tested. Six months pregnant, Jen is in free fall as her family’s future and her friendship with Riley are thrown into uncertainty. Covering a career-making story, Riley wrestles with the implications of what this tragic incident means for her black community, her ambitions, and her relationship with her lifelong friend.

Like Tayari Jones’s An American Marriage and Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things, We Are Not Like Them considers complex questions of race and how they pervade and shape our most intimate spaces in a deeply divided world. But at its heart, it’s a story of enduring friendship—a love that defies the odds even as it faces its most difficult challenges

My thoughts: this is a powerful and thought provoking story, with terrible tragedy at the heart of it. We’ve all seen the rise in police killings of unarmed black men and boys, and the ensuing fallout as questions keep being asked but no real change takes place.

Riley is a black woman, a journalist and all too aware of how these things transpire, she’s at the heart of the story, interviewing the victim’s family. At the same time her beloved grandmother, Gigi, is dying in a hospital bed. Her lifelong friendship with Jenny, who’s white and married to a cop, is greatly strained by events.

Jenny is on the other side of the events, she doesn’t fully understand what the black community is going through or why Riley is so deeply affected. It stops her from being as close to her friend, her surrogate family, as she has been and means she misses out on seeing Gigi in her final days.

This was written with great sensitivity, an awareness of just how difficult these conversations can be to have with people who aren’t as aware or as well informed. Jenny isn’t a villain, she feels for the young man’s mother, but her lived experience means she can’t condemn the situation as wholeheartedly as Riley does. What saves them is learning a new way to communicate. To be more open with each other and to explain things more clearly. I can see this book starting a lot of conversations itself, with people seeing things from differing perspectives, much like the characters do. A timely and moving read.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Two Truths and a Guy – Jeannine Henvey

High school is hard enough. Imagine having to keep a secret that can change your twin’s life.

Sixteen-year-old twins, Stella and Peter, move cross-country with their parents to start fresh and leave their former life behind. Will the past determine their future, or will they finally get their happy ending?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Peter and Stella may be twins, but individually their struggles are one of a kind. Peter wasn’t always Peter. And Stella misses who he used to be –her sister Petra. From the outside, they seem like two kids just trying to find their way at a new school, but behind closed doors they deal with the emotional baggage from the past they’ve yet to unpack. Beauty queen Mom counts Stella’s every calorie rather than deal with Peter’s transition. And even though Dad supports Peter’s true self, he’s blind to seeing Stella for who she really is. She just wants to be a teenage girl known for anything other than her sibling. Meanwhile, with a skin-tight binder around his chest, and desperation to be one of the guys, Peter feels like he’s suffocating. All this, just to have his outside match his inside–and simply be. If anyone learns their secret, the family’s sacrifice of moving to California will have been for nothing.

Brimming with a rollercoaster of emotion and unwavering hope, Two Truths and a Guy is a heartfelt coming of age story that touches us with the power of loyalty, the need for acceptance, and the importance of living our truth.

My thoughts: this was a really good read, discussing serious issues around gender and sexuality but with enough lightness and general teen drama to stop it feeling heavy and “issues” ridden, which can be off-putting and feel more like a lecture.

Stella and Peter have allowed themselves to drift apart, from being super close to struggling to talk, both have been dealing with a lot, mostly around Peter’s transition and all that ensued back in Pennsylvania. Moving to California didn’t change that, you take your problems with you if you don’t deal with them. Their lack of communication leaves them without the other’s support when they need it most. Luckily they’re able to finally talk, and write, and build a new start.

The people around them, the genuine friends they’ve made, help them through all of this struggle and I really liked the way even Peter’s basketball coach had his back, it was great to see adults being supportive too.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.