reviews, books, blog tour

Blog Tour: Second Chances in Chianti – T.A. Williams*

Alice thought her future was set in stone, until her past came knocking…
Alice Butler starred in a successful US sitcom until tensions in the cast and crew caused the show to be cancelled.

Now, five years later and working towards her dream job in art history, she’s called back for a revival of the show. It can only end in disaster, surely?

Flown to a villa in Chianti to meet with the rest of the cast, Alice must decide where her future lies – with her boyfriend, David, who laps up the Hollywood company, or with the mysterious Matt, who shies away from public attention?


I’m a man. And a pretty old man as well. I did languages at university a long time ago and then lived and worked in France and Switzerland before going to Italy for seven years as a teacher of English.

My Italian wife and I then came back to the UK with our little daughter (now long-since grown up) where I ran a big English language school for many years. We now live in a sleepy
little village in Devonshire. I’ve been writing almost all my life but it was only seven years ago that I finally managed to find a publisher who liked my work enough to offer me my first contract.

The fact that I am now writing romantic comedy is something I still find hard to explain. My early books were thrillers and historical novels. Maybe it’s because there are so many horrible things happening in the world today that I feel I need to do my best to provide something to cheer my
readers up. My books provide escapism to some gorgeous locations, even if travel to them is currently difficult.

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My thoughts:

This was a really enjoyable slice of escapism. I’ve been to Tuscany, many years ago, and it is truly beautiful. So u completely understood Alice’s reasons for wanting to stay there and enjoy the art, history, delicious food and sunshine.

Her former co-stars actually seem like quite nice people and I can see the appeal of recapturing their past triumphs, but also not wanting to deal with all the drama.

The romance was gentle and quite honestly it was the lovely dog she falls for first, very understandable too!

Considering the current sulky weather and ongoing lockdown, this was a dose of much needed sunshine and dreamy Italian countryside. Enjoy while thinking of escaping somewhere wonderful!

*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: Alone in the Woods – Charly Cox*

The sudden appearance of a man’s booted feet had Addis snapping her mouth shut. Screaming, she kicked out at the tall, muscular guy as he dragged her from beneath the desk…

It was a scene from a horror movie; Gabriel Kensington and his wife Lydia found, brutally slain in their luxurious home in New Mexico. The frantic, whispered phone call from their teenage daughter Addis, spending the evening with best friend Emerson, quickly alerts the authorities to the killings – and worse, that the killer is still inside the house.

But when detective Alyssa Wyatt and the squad appear at the house, the unthinkable has happened – the girls are nowhere to be found.

Waking up in a dilapidated cabin, nestled high in the woods north of Albuquerque, the girls find themselves at the mercy of a brutal stranger who could take their life at any moment. While they fight for survival, it’s up to Alyssa Wyatt and her partner Cord to discover just why the Kensingtons have been targeted – and fast.

Because for Addis and Emerson, solving this mystery might just mean the difference between survival – or an unthinkable death…

Born in the South, raised in the Midwest, Charly now resides in the Southwest in the Land of Enchantment where she enjoys eating copious amounts of green chile and other spicy foods. When she’s not reading, writing, or plotting sinister evils with her antagonists, she enjoys doing jigsaw and crossword puzzles, hanging out with her husband and her spoiled Siberian Husky, visiting her son in Arizona, and traveling, preferably to places surrounded by sun, sand, and warm uncrowded beaches.

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My thoughts:

This was really good, the two teenagers were brave and their connection kept them alive and carried them through their ordeal. The strands of the investigation wove together in an interesting way and I never would have guessed the culprit.

I hadn’t read the previous books but I don’t think it mattered too much, even though one strand of the case links back to it, as the main plot isn’t connected.

*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: Safe and Sound – Philippa East*

Home can be the most dangerous place…

In a small London bedsit, a radio is playing. A small dining table is set for three, and curled up on the sofa is a body…

Jenn is the one who discovers the woman, along with the bailiffs. All indications suggest that the tenant – Sarah Jones – was pretty, charismatic and full of life.

So how is it possible that her body has lain undiscovered for ten whole months?

My thoughts:

Inspired by one of the saddest real life stories I know, this book deals with some big themes – loneliness, family, mental illness and death.

Jenn’s discovery of the body of a tenant, forgotten and alone, who seems to have had no family or friends around her, sparks a determination to find someone who cared, especially when she realises there is a connection between them. At the same time she’s dealing with her own issues and worries.

Sensitively handled and written, the reasons why Jenn is so desperate for answers slowly reveal themselves in her own life. She’s an interesting protagonist and her hypervigililence around her son makes sense the further the book goes.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Bad Habits – Flynn Meaney*

Alex is a rebel with a purple fauxhawk and biker boots.
St Mary’s Catholic School is the strict boarding school where she’s currently trapped.
Despite trying everything she can to get expelled, she’s still stuck with the nuns, the prudish attitude and the sexism. So Alex decides to take matters into her own hands. She’s going to stage the school’s first ever production of The Vagina Monologues . . .
Trouble is, no one else at St Mary’s can even bear to say the word ‘vagina’ out loud!

A riotously funny novel about the importance of friendship and finding your voice.

My thoughts:

I went to church school, which wasn’t quite like this one, but I recognised certain elements and I think teenage me, who was so fed up of the hypocrisy and the useless sex ed lessons (raised by a midwife and nurse who used to treat sex workers and AIDS patients as part of her job meant I was a lot better informed than many of my peers) as well as all the usual things to hate about high school, and Alex would be friends.

I’d certainly be joining her Feminist Club and starting protests, I have been told I needed to tone myself down and focus on schoolwork.

Alex is a force to be reckoned with and I think Father Hughes has a bit of a soft spot for her, tolerating some of her excesses more than he might for another student.

I loved her quiet but determined friend Mary Kate, sometimes you don’t have to be the loud out there one to get things done.

This was overall just a really fun, smart book that sticks it to the patriarchy and celebrates friendship and empowerment in all its forms.

*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: Where Ravens Roost – Karin Nordin*

The raven cawed at him, craning its neck unnaturally. As it dug its hooked beak into the mess of dried grass and twigs that made up its nest, a shiny glimmer reflected off a low-hanging bulb. Kjeld edged closer to get a better look. It was a human tooth.

Detective Kjeld Nygaard wants nothing more than to forget his family and Varsund, the small mining town he once called home, even exist. But while on suspension after his last case went disastrously wrong, his estranged father Stenar leaves a message on Kjeld’s phone claiming he’s seen a murder.

But with no evidence and Stenar suffering from Alzheimer’s, the local police think he must have imagined it. Kjeld can’t stop himself from investigating what actually happened, and soon discovers a body. But when the police start to suspect Stenar, it’s a race against time to discover the truth before it’s lost forever.

But will uncovering the truth expose family secrets that are best left buried?

My thoughts:

A slow beginning turns into a gripping, complex thriller, revolving around Kjeld’s family and the secrets locked in his father’s memory, secrets that are slowly coming out as Stenar’s Alzheimer’s has him living half in the past.

The author deals with dementia sensitively and depicts the struggle of Stenar’s family, especially daughter Sara, well. It’s very hard to watch someone slowly lose their memories and forget who you are.

The crime scene in the barn, with its audience of watchful ravens is creepy and sinister. Even though corvids are clever birds, I felt a bit sorry for them, stuck away in the dark, unable to fly off.

Kjeld is an interesting protagonist, he’s dealing with the break up of his relationship as well as professional concerns following his last case in Gothenburg. Adding his troubled family situation – an estranged father, a resentful sister, to his plate could have sent him spinning but he focuses on the case in hand and manages to unravel a much larger mess than first appears.

A really good, solid crime thriller with well developed characters and a smart, knotty plot.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Jigsaw Man – Nadine Matheson*

There’s a serial killer on the loose.

When bodies start washing up along the banks of the River Thames, DI Henley fears it is the work of Peter Olivier, the notorious Jigsaw Killer. But it can’t be him; Olivier is already behind bars, and Henley was the one who put him there.

The race is on before more bodies are found.

She’d hoped she’d never have to see his face again, but Henley knows Olivier might be the best chance they have at stopping the copycat killer. But when Olivier learns of the new murders, helping Henley is the last thing on his mind . . .

Will it take a killer to catch the killer?

Now all bets are off, and the race is on to catch the killer before the body count rises. But who will get there first – Henley, or the Jigsaw Killer?

My thoughts:

This was really good, dark and twisted. I was hooked, it felt like a book by a very accomplished crime writer, so I was surprised that it was a debut.

Smart and gripping, the characters were well written and the South London locations were recognisable but unsettling as I could imagine finding the remains in them.

Genuinely excellent book, I can’t wait to see what the author does next.

*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 Black Coast Mike Brooks*

War Dragons. Fearsome Raiders. A Daemonic Warlord on the Rise.

When the citizens of Black Keep see ships on the horizon, terror takes them because they know who is coming: for generations, the keep has been raided by the fearsome clanspeople of Tjakorsha. Saddling their war dragons, Black Keep’s warriors rush to defend their home only to discover that the clanspeople have not come to pillage at all. Driven from their own land by a daemonic despot who prophesises the end of the world, the raiders come in search of a new home . . .

Meanwhile the wider continent of Narida is lurching toward war. Black Keep is about to be caught in the crossfire – if only its new mismatched society can survive.

My thoughts:

This was a really good, solid fantasy book, it’s also nice and chunky with lots to get your teeth into as a reader.

Setting up a new series can be tricky but this balances world building and lore with characters and a plot that draws you in, gets you invested – especially in the events in Black Keep, and starts building out the overarching narrative of conflict and politic machinations gone awry.

I liked the way the two very different societies start to get along, learning each others’ culture and traditions, beliefs and languages. They come together over festivities and sport, defending their home and feeding themselves. The author says the Brexit referendum sparked this book and I can see how – we are more alike than we care to admit – is a bit theme here.

It’s not just in Black Keep, the burgeoning relationship between Jeya and Galem also reflects this – though from different cultures and classes, they form a bond, which I imagine will only become stronger as the series progresses.

*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: Last One at the Party – Bethany Clift*


It’s December 2023 and the world as we know it has ended.

The human race has been wiped out by a virus called 6DM (‘Six Days Maximum’ – the longest you’ve got before your body destroys itself).

But somehow, in London, one woman is still alive. A woman who has spent her whole life compromising what she wants, hiding how she feels and desperately trying to fit in. A woman who is entirely unprepared to face a future on her own.

Now, with only an abandoned golden retriever for company, she must travel through burning cities, avoiding rotting corpses and ravenous rats on a final journey to discover if she really is the last surviving person on earth.

And with no one else to live for, who will she become now that she’s completely alone?

My thoughts:

Reading this, with the vaccination against Covid-19 providing hope in sight, was a bit weird. The story is set in the future, a few years from now, but with a pandemic that offers no hope of ending as everyone appears to be susceptible to it and it kills swiftly.

Our nameless narrator somehow seems to be immune and after her husband dies, tries to find other people. Her various coping methods – getting wasted, breaking into Harrods, developing a reliance on Tramadol, rescuing a dog, driving to Scotland in a blizzard, reflect what I think many people would do if they found themselves all alone.

Lockdown has demonstrated we’re not great at being alone. But in this case there genuinely doesn’t seem to be anyone left.

Utterly compelling and really enjoyable, despite the bleak subject matter, this was that Will Smith film for the 21st Century woman and darkly funny with 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: Never Ask The Dead – Gary Donnelly*

When only the dead have the answers, who can tell you the truth?

Retired PSNI cop Tom ‘Tucker’ Rodgers has a cracked ballpoint pen, one second class stamp and no time left. The best he can do is try to get a message to DI Owen Sheen, the only man he knows he can trust.

Sheen and DC Aoife McCusker are struggling with political agendas fed to them from the Chief Constable and now the single note from the missing Tucker is preying on Sheen’s mind. A list of four dates, decades old, and a cryptic message. Tucker says that they killed his friend, and now they’re coming for him. Sheen and Aoife’s search places them on the path of the most highly placed IRA double agent of the Troubles as well as another man with an old score to settle…

About the Author
Gary Donnelly is a writer and teacher who was born and raised in west Belfast. After attending a state comprehensive school, he read History at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and has lived and worked in London since the late 1990s.

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My thoughts:

This was really good, the detectives are part of a historic crime unit, mostly dealing with the Troubles, which brings them into contact with some very dangerous people. But they’re determined to do their jobs and solve the cases that have been left untouched for some time.

A letter addressed directly to DI Sheen, with a mysterious key word and a set of dates, spark a complex and deadly investigation into the role of a tout or grass, one who may have been responsible for an awful lot of death.

As they attempt to find the mysterious person, criss crossing Belfast, seeking out survivors who might have a clue, they’re unaware someone is out to stop them.

Edge of your sear gripping stuff, a smart thriller with a political element and the weight of the Troubles echoing through the places and people.

*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: Bad Blood – Lily Hayden*

Tim, Rose, Will and Belle led a charmed childhood growing up together on idyllic Bluebell Farm, but
everything changed when their mother died. Sixteen years on, they’re practically strangers.

An unexpected invitation from their estranged father brings them back together giving them an opportunity to heal past wounds and start afresh.
But when Frank is found dead on the morning of his wedding, suspicion turns to the four siblings’ motivations, and the bad blood of the past resurfaces.

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Lily Hayden writes chick lit with a kick. Modern day women want modern day heroines and Lily’s characters want sizzling romance, rewarding careers and equal partnerships, but like all of us, they face many challenges and it isn’t always easy.

A mother to four children, Lily graduated with a degree in Business in her hometown in South Wales
and enjoyed a successful career in Financial Services before fulfilling a lifelong ambition to write books.

Her debut novel Butterflies, a heartwarming alternative to the traditional boy-meets-girl story, was
released in 2018, reaching readers all over the world and she is the author of seven books, including a Young Adult Dystopian novel Project Terra under the alias SJ Woods (because who doesn’t love a bit of action and defeating bad guys every now and again).

Follow Lily on social media for the latest releases, promotions and occasional photos of her dogs.

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My thoughts:

Families are complicated, messy things, and I totally understood the complex relationship between the four siblings and their father in this story. It reminded me of my dad, his siblings and my grandfather, a not particularly pleasant man.

The four here haven’t been back to the family farm in a long time, but an unexpected invitation to their dad’s wedding, to a woman they’ve never heard of, draws them back.

Their own relationships with each other aren’t great and the tensions stretch as they spend more time together. They’re all suspicious of Linda, and slightly worried about their remote father.

Frank’s sudden death draws suspicion down on them and they have to bond in a way none of them expected as they’re accused of murder.

A clever, knotty thriller, revolving around the ties that bind and the people you can never entirely escape – your family.

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