blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish – Bethany Turner*

Celebrity chef Maxwell Cavanaugh is known for many things: his multiple Michelin stars, his top-rated Culinary Channel show To the Max, and most of all his horrible temper. Hadley Beckett, host of the Culinary Channel’s other top-rated show, At Home with Hadley, is beloved for her Southern charm and for making her viewers feel like family.

When Max experiences a very public temper tantrum, he’s sent packing to get his life in order. When he returns, career in shambles, his only chance to get back on TV and in the public’s good graces is to work alongside Hadley.

As these polar-opposite celeb chefs begin to peel away the layers of public persona and reputation, they will not only discover the key ingredients for getting along but also learn the secret recipe for unexpected forgiveness . . . and maybe even love. In the meantime, hide the knives.

Fan-favourite Bethany Turner serves up a heaping helping of humour and romance with this thoroughly modern story centred on cooking, enemies, and second chances.


Bethany Turner is the award-winning author of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck and Wooing Cadie McCaffrey and the director of administration for Rock Springs Church in Southwest Colorado.

A former bank executive and a three-time cancer survivor (all before she turned 35), Bethany knows that when God has plans for your life, it doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say. Because of that, she’s chosen to follow his call to write.

She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado, where she writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight.

My thoughts:

I would quite like to be friends with Hadley, she just seems like a real nice person. Tbf my real life dream bff is Nadiya from Bake Off, who also seems super lovely. I must have a friend crush on lovely women who bake.

Hadley is a super talented, successful chef from Nashville, whose appeal is her Southern charm and the fact she is one of those women you just want to be friends with.

Max is a Gordon Ramsey style obnoxious uber macho chef. Basically the exact opposite of Hadley and really unpleasant when they first meet on what is basically Masterchef, where he throws a temper tantrum and gets into serious hot water with the Culimary Channel’s bosses.

Fast forward six months and they meet again. Has he changed? Can they ever get on?

This was such a fun book, funny too, the sparring between Hadley and Max, Hadley’s eccentric grandmother, the plot to stop the presenter of Renowned from making them fall out, the food (this book needs to come with a warning – it will make you hungry!) It has it all and it was just such a pleasure to read and just enjoy. This should definitely be Netflix’s next rom com.

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

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Blog Tour: Not the Deaths Imagined – Anne Pettigrew*

In a leafy Glasgow suburb, Dr Beth Semple is busy juggling motherhood and full-time GP work in the 90s NHS. But her life becomes even more problematic when she notices some odd deaths in her neighbourhood. Though Beth believes the stories don’t add up, the authorities remain stubbornly unconvinced.

Soon, Beth’s professional reputation is challenged. There follows a chilling campaign of harassment and she finds her professional reputation – and her family – are put at risk.
Is a charming local GP actually a serial killer? Can Beth piece together the jigsaw of perplexing fatalities and perhaps save lives? And as events accelerate towards a dramatic conclusion, will the police intervene in time?
From the author of Not the Life Imagined, this slow-burning tartan noir novel from a Bloody Scotland Crime Spotlight author follows Beth on another quest for justice. Reflecting Pettigrew’s own medical expertise, Not The Deaths Imagined re-affirms the benefits of growing up in a loving family and the need for friends in hard times, while offering insight into the twisted development of a psychopathic mind.

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A graduate of Glasgow (Medicine) and Wolfson College, Oxford (Anthropology), Anne Pettigrew has been a GP, worked in psychiatry, family planning/sexual health, lecturing, patient/women doctors pressure groups, BMA Media relations, Homeopathy, acupuncture, an EEC Committee, book reviewing and journalism (medico-political and humorous articles to The Herald, Doctor newspaper etc: a Channel 4 Despatches). Retiring from practice, she became a wedding planner for a charity theatre, before starting Creative Writing classes and mentoring at Glasgow University. She is now a member of Garnethill critical writer’s forum and has won short story and article trophies in Greenock Writer’s Club.

Retiring from practice, she became a wedding planner for a charity theatre, before starting Creative Writing classes and mentoring at Glasgow University. She is now a member of Garnethill critical writer’s forum and has won short story and article trophies in Greenock Writer’s Club.
Not the life Imagined was runner up in the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable Silver Stag Award 2018. The book was originally called No Sinecure, a title abandoned as no one under 35 in any class or group she joined knew what ‘sinecure’ meant (though some suggested it was apt, the book featuring ‘sin’ in those who ‘cure!’)

Two more books are underway. Anne has two grown up children and lives with her husband in North Ayrshire.

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My thoughts:

This was really good, I liked the mix of medical and legal professionals in Beth’s life, all invested in the mystery of the excess deaths and the rather nasty Dr Goodman.

Beth is a really great protagonist, clever, engaging and personable. I loved her relationships with her family and friends, she felt like a real person you might know. Which makes the terrible crimes worse in a way.

I have a suspicious mind (all those crime novels and TV shows!) so I immediately had my antenna up when the anonymous murderer started to narrate.

I really enjoyed this book, I hope there’s more and as an added incentive, money from these goes to support Plan International’s projects to help girls achieve.

*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 Wife – Shalini Boland*

Zoe fainted on her wedding day, and she never knew why. She’s always felt sure something bad happened. Ten years later, she’s going to find out what…

It was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. Zoe was sitting in her hotel room, in her perfect white dress, looking forward to the moment when she would make kind, handsome Toby her husband.

Then, there was a blank.

They said she must have fainted, overcome with emotion. But nothing felt quite right afterwards. Did something happen in that missing time?

Now, Toby and Zoe have two beautiful children and a perfect life. They’re planning their ten-year anniversary party for their family and friends. The invitations have been sent, the food ordered. They’re going back to the grand hotel where they got married.
But as the anniversary gets closer, it becomes clear not everyone is looking forward to celebrating. Zoe catches Toby lying about where he’s been. One of her best friends seems to be ignoring her. And someone is spreading stories that might stop the party from happening at all.
Zoe is increasingly sure that she doesn’t have the full story.

But does she want to know the truth, if it will destroy everything?From the million-copy bestselling author, this totally gripping psychological thriller will have you hooked from the first page to the last jaw-dropping twist. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl and The Wife Between Us.

Shalini lives by the sea in Dorset, England with her husband, two children and their cheeky terrier cross. Before kids, she was signed to Universal Music Publishing as a singer/songwriter, but now she spends her days writing psychological thrillers (in between school runs and sorting endless baskets of laundry).

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My thoughts:

This was really good. I couldn’t work out what the thriller twist was until it suddenly in the last third started to appear.

Before that I kept thinking it was going to be the former friend or the missing sister coming back, something they had done. The plot just kept me guessing all the way along. There just didn’t seem to be anything sinister.

Then it got really dark, really fast and boy, was that wait worth it. Talk about twists! Which I am not going to spoil.

So if you love an unexpected twist or three, a blast from the the past that’s just horrible but also so well done you gasp, then this book is a must read. And that epilogue, oh wow.

*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 Seven Doors – Agnes Ravatn*

One of Norway’s most distinguished voices, Agnes Ravatn’s first novel to be published in the UK was The Bird Tribunal. It won an English PEN Translation Award, was shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award and the Petrona Award, and was adapted for a BBC Book at Bedtime.

She returns now with a dark, powerful and deeply disturbing psychological thriller about family, secrets and dangerous curiosity…

University professor Nina is at a turning point. Her work seems increasingly irrelevant, her doctor husband is never home, relations with her adult daughter Ingeborg are strained, and their beautiful house is scheduled for demolition.

When Ingeborg decides to move into another house they own, things take a very dark turn. The young woman who rents it disappears, leaving behind her son, the day after Nina and Ingeborg pay her a visit.With few clues, the police enquiry soon grinds to a halt, but Nina has an inexplicable sense of guilt.

Unable to rest, she begins her own investigation, but as she pulls on the threads of the case, it seems her discoveries may have very grave consequences for her and her family.

Agnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is a Norwegian author and columnist. She made her literary début with the novel Week 53 (Veke 53) in 2007.Since then she has written three critically acclaimed and award-winning essay collections: Standing still (Stillstand), 2011, Popular Reading (Folkelesnad), 2011, and Operation self-discipline (Operasjon sjøldisiplin), 2014. In these works, Ravatn revealed a unique, witty voice and sharp eye for human fallibility.

Her second novel, The Bird Tribunal (Fugletribuanlet), was an international bestseller translated into fifteen languages, winning an English PEN Award, shortlisting for the Dublin Literary Award, a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick and a BBC Book at Bedtime. It was also made into a successful play, which premiered in Oslo in 2015.

Agnes lives with her family in the Norwegian countryside.

My thoughts:

I think Orenda Books (the publisher) is just so brilliant, bringing amazing international voices to an English readership. This book is one such example.

Inspired in part by the fairy tale Bluebeard (Angela Carter’s version is my favourite), this tale of a missing woman with a tragic history, and a literature professor searching for answers was right up my street.

I wanted to sit in on Nina’s lectures on Greek tragedy (I’m a literature graduate and I love Greek plays) and I liked her theory on why people like me would make good investigators.

As Nina unravels the life of the missing Mari and tries to find out what became of her, her personal life and her job start to suffer. Could they be related? Does someone close to her hold the key to Mari’s disappearance?

This was such a good read, I thoroughly enjoyed it, the author is brilliant and I could happily wax poetic on how everyone should read it.

*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 Watcher – Kate Medina*

If you see him it’s already too late…

Some secrets can’t be hidden.

The Fullers are the picture-perfect family, a wealthy couple with a grand home in the middle of remote woodland. But even they have something to hide – and it will prove fatal.

Some crimes can’t be forgotten.

Psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn and DI Marilyn Simmons arrive at the Fuller’s home to find a suburban nightmare. A crime scene more disturbing than anything they have ever encountered.

Some killers can’t be stopped.

Jessie knows that this is no random act of violence. And if she can’t unlock the motivation behind the crime and shine a light into this killer’s mind, the Fullers won’t be the only family to die…

Kate Medina has always been fascinated by the ‘whys’ of human behaviour, an interest that drove her to study Psychology at university and later to start a crime series featuring clinical psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn.

She has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and her debut novel White Crocodile received widespread critical acclaim, as did Fire Damage, Scared to Death AND Two Little Girls, the first three books in the Jessie Flynn series.

Before turning to writing full time, Kate spent five years in the Territorial Army and has lectured at the London Business School and the London School of Economics. She lives in London with her husband and three children.

My thoughts:

This was a twisted, complex and disturbing thriller, with a killer whose motivations are rooted in the past, but the police can’t see it as it’s so obscure.

Forensic psychologist Jessie, and Detective Simmons, (known as Marilyn for his heterochromia (different coloured eyes) – although I would have thought David Bowie was more obvious) are stumped. The extremely violent nature of the killings, which seem personal, appear to have been committed by a giant dog.

A series of strange break ins at the local dog rescue seem to be completely separate but could they be connected?

This was a really gripping read, with twists and red herrings that kept me guessing.

*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 Bone Shard Daughter – Andrea Stewart*

The Bone Shard Daughter is an unmissable fantasy debut from a major new voice in epic fantasy — a stunning tale of magic, mystery, and revolution in which the former heir to the emperor will fight to reclaim her power and her place on the throne.
The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.
Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.
Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.

My thoughts:

This is an incredibly good start to what is going to be an amazing fantasy series and the beginning of an excellent career for its author.

The book was so good I didn’t want it to end, I was that engrossed. The magic system is really intriguing, as well as sinister and a bit creepy.

As the plot unravels and the Empire literally starts to crumble, the intrigue grows – why is the Emperor losing his grip on the constructs and what made Deerhead Island sink?

People are starting to doubt the power of the throne and wake up in some cases. Setting up a confrontation in the next book already.

I liked Lin’s determination to find out what her father is up to and Jovis’ attempts to stop helping people, even as he helps them.

My favourite character was obviously Mephi, the magical creature Jovis rescues. I’m looking forward to finding out more about him.

This was a really great read, inspired by the author’s own Chinese ancestry, and I can’t wait till the second book is published.

*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 Inheritance Games – Jennifer Lynn Barnes*

A Cinderella story with deadly stakes and thrilling twists, perfect for fans of One of Us is Lying and Knives Out.

Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes.
Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.

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My thoughts:

This was really fun. Avery inherits a fortune – from a complete stranger and his family are far from happy.

There’s a puzzle to solve, and it’s upto Avery, and the Hawthorne boys, Grayson, Jameson, Xander and Nash, to help her solve it. Why did Tobias Hawthorne pick her to inherit almost everything?

Following a trail of clues around the Hawthorne estate, through secret passageways and the woods, will they solve the riddle or murder Avery?

I liked Avery, and felt a little sorry for her, as she attempts to adjust to suddenly being obscenely rich and having to live with people who hate her for existing. She’s still dealing with her mum’s death, her sister’s ex-boyfriend is a scumbag, her new schoolmates are awful (well, Thea is), there’s the dead girl everyone seems obsessed with and she can’t even get her best friend on the phone. It’s a lot.

The riddles and puzzles were fun, it reminded me of the Truly Devious books, and I love a mystery. I can’t believe I have to wait a whole year for the next book and more puzzles.

*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 Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life – Dani Jansen*

Alison Green, desperate valedictorian-wannabe, agrees to produce her school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That’s her first big mistake. The second is accidentally saying Yes to a date with her oldest friend, Jack, even though she’s crushing on Charlotte. Alison manages to stay positive, even when her best friend starts referring to the play as “Ye Olde Shakespearean Disaster.” Alison must cope with the misadventures that befall the play if she’s going to survive the year. She’ll also have to grapple with what it means to be “out” and what she might be willing to give up for love.

Alison manages to stay positive, even when her best friend starts referring to the play as “Ye Olde Shakespearean Disaster.” Alison must cope with the misadventures that befall the play if she’s going to survive the year. She’ll also have to grapple with what it means to be “out” and what she might be willing to give up for love.

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Dani Jansen is a teacher and writer who lives in Montreal. She should probably be embarrassed to admit that she has performed as part of her school’s Glee Club for eight years. She should probably also be ashamed to tell people that she named her cats after punctuation symbols (Ampersand and Em-Dash, in case you’re curious).

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My thoughts:

I am a recovering theatre kid so this book spoke to me on so many levels. I have been involved in shows where things can go wrong, as an extra I once stood on an actor’s stomach and thought I’d injured her badly (Romeo & Juliet 70s punk style, she was on the floor and I had to jump off a box and she wasn’t supposed to be there, then I fell off the stage and almost landed on the mayor!), then there was the year our leading man got stoned on opening night and couldn’t remember his lines in front of the headmaster, mayor and other local notables – as stage manager I had to stop our director/drama teacher from killing him during the interval. Basically I’ve seen a lot of drama on stage and off.

So I empathised massively with Alison, producing her school’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, when an actor quits, her costume designer has a relationship malfunction and she gets threatened by the theatre mafia!

This book was a total hoot, I was laughing out loud at times (cue some strange looks from my very own Mr Shakespeare, my husband (yes that is our last name)) and cheering Alison on as she went on a date with the hot girl of her dreams (and corgi lover), Charlotte.

I highly recommend this book to any theatre kids out there, or anyone who loves funny, entertaining books with heart.

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

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Blog Tour: A Burning Sea – Theodore Brun*

Doomed to wander. Destined for glory.

Erlan Aurvandil has turned his back on the past and his native Northern lands, taking a perilous journey to the greatest city in the world, Byzantium.

But as his voyage ends, Erlan is brutally betrayed, captured and enslaved by a powerful Byzantine general.

Meanwhile, Lilla Sviggarsdottír, Queen of Svealand, has lost her husband and with him, her kingdom. Leaving her lands and people behind, Lilla journeys east on a new quest: to find Erlan and raise an army mighty enough to defeat her usurper.

But when she reaches the great city of Byzantium, she discovers a place in turmoil. A dark tide is rising against the Emperor from within his own court.

As the shadows darken and whispers of war begin to strengthen, Erlan’s fate becomes intertwined with that of the city. Are they both doomed to fall, or can freedom be won in the blood of battle?

Theodore Brun studied Dark Age archaeology at Cambridge. In 2010, he quit his job as an arbitration lawyer in Hong Kong and cycled 10,000 miles across Asia and Europe to his home in Norfolk. A Burning Sea is his third novel.

My thoughts:

I haven’t read the previous novels in this series, but that didn’t seem to make a huge difference to enjoying this epic saga of Vikings in Byzantium. Erlan is seeking the King of Kings, a cure for the curse placed on him, and is told to head south.

Lilla is looking for Erlan and a way to claim back her queendom, stolen from her by a cruel and vicious thug of a man, who happens to be her late husband’s brother.

Both of them arrive in Byzantium (now Istanbul) just as an army arrives on its doorstep, determined to claim the city and its empire for the caliph Suleyman. They find themselves in the Emperor’s palace as war breaks out.

I really liked both Erlan and Lilla, but Einar (not so) Fat-Belly was easily my favourite character, a jolly, axe wielding Norseman, he comes with Lilla to protect her, and ends up serving Emperor Leo alongside Erlan.

A lot happens and is given plenty of room to happen in this chunky book, in between battles there’s romance and betrayal, feasts and hardship. There’s also religion and its many faces – Byzantium was a Christian city crowned by the Hagia Sophia, named for God’s female side and wisdom.

I found this interesting as I don’t know a huge amount about this period of history, being more familiar with the religious Crusades of the medieval period, which also saw Muslims and Christians clash over land for many years, and involved to the violent sacking of Constantinople (another of Byzantium’s names) in the 13th century.

This was a really interesting book and I really enjoyed it. Somewhere in my family history are some Vikings of some nation and I’ve always been fascinated by the history of the northern reaches of Europe.

If you like big historical epics, with lots of detail thrown in (although the author admits moving some things around historically speaking) and enjoy battles, plots and long journeys that don’t go to plan, then this is for you. Enjoy!

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

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Blog Tour: The Fallen Persimmon – Gigi Karagoz*

Japan 1985 – a young English woman battles her conscience.

A page-turning suspense novel…

Money blows across a field, the notes slapping against the stubble of dry rice stalks. Mr Ito walks towards the irrigation ditch at the end of his field, his rubber boots kicking up dust.

Standing at the ditch, he remembers the rumour; the one about the missing English woman.

But this is Mari’s story. She knows it’s her fault that her sister died, and trying to move on, she takes a dream job teaching English in small-town Japan. It turns into a nightmare when Mari learns that she’s employed by the yakuza (Japanese mafia), and that the man she loves has his own dark secrets. When the yakuza play their final hand, Mari believes that once again, it’s all her fault.

If you like a novel that builds suspense, is set in an exotic location, has a strong female lead, and a pinch of romance; then this book is for you.

Gigi has spent most of her life living and working in countries all over the world. Her big passion is travel, especially in Asia, and India is a favourite destination. Giving up a career in tourism, she qualified as a holistic therapist and worked in yoga retreats in the Mediterranean for twelve years. Currently, Gigi lives in Wiltshire with Isabella, the cat she rescued from the streets of Fethiye, in southern Turkey.

My thoughts:

Inspired by the author’s own time in Japan, although hopefully hers wasn’t quite as traumatic, this tale of English woman getting mixed up with the yakuza and paying the price for crossing them is gripping and shocking.

Hired to teach English in a language school in the 80s, Mari meets Kate at the airport and they become fast friends. Given a set of rules, which they immediately set about breaking, they see their chance to have fun and flirt.

But their employers are not happy, the contracts they signed turn out to belong to some pretty nasty customers and insulting them has deadly consequences.

The plot darkens the further the girls go into the nightlife and romance of their adventure. Mari falls in love with Ryu, who is engaged to another and despite warnings, they carry on their affair. Kate defies their boss at a night club and insults the wrong man.

Things turn very bleak and as outsiders they have nowhere to turn, who can they trust when everyone tells them to keep quiet?

When I trained as a TEFL teacher (teaching English as a foreign language) Japan was one of the more highly recommended places to go, although that was a lot later than the setting of this novel, but we were advised to stick to larger cities, unlike the one Mari and Kate end up in.

It made me think of stories of the Mafia in Sicily and other parts of Italy, dangerous places where dangerous men really run things, despite what the police and politicians say. That subtle darkness that suddenly flares into violence when people break the unwritten rules, though both women are given plenty of warnings, friendly and less so.

The switch from light hearted ‘two young women abroad’ to dark thriller exposing the rotten underbelly is slow and done skillfully and cleverly. You’re drawn into their world and carried along by their youth and enthusiasm, the violence is sudden and shocking, jolting the plot into something far grimmer – replete with dark deeds.

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