#BookReview: THE SECOND WIFE by Rebecca Fleet @RebeccaLFleet @TransworldBooks

The Second WifePublication: 5th March 2020 – Transworld

Everyone brings baggage to a new relationship.

When Alex met Natalie she changed his life. After the tragic death of his first wife, which left him a single parent to teenage daughter Jade, he’s determined to build a happy family.

But his new-found happiness is shattered when the family home is gutted by fire and his loyalties are unexpectedly tested. Jade insists she saw a man in the house on the night of the fire; Natalie denies any knowledge of such an intruder.

Alex is faced with an impossible choice: to believe his wife or his daughter? And as Natalie’s story unravels, Alex realises that his wife has a past he had no idea about, a past that might yet catch up with her.

But this time, the past could be deadly…

**********

WOW!!!  What a wonderful and gripping read. I loved Rebecca Fleet’s first novel, The House Swap, but I ADORED The Second Wife. I spent an afternoon with my nose stuck on my kindle and I didn’t get up from my couch until I reached the last page. I loved the claustrophobic atmosphere, the high tension, and beautifully-written plot. Also, I enjoyed the twists that just pop up when you less expect it, which is not an easy thing when you read many thriller.

Not only the plot is intriguing and completely captivating, but also the characters are brilliantly-drawn: there is Alex, trying to figure out the truth about the fire that almost destroyed his family; his second wife, Natalie, with a past that she doesn’t want to surface; and then Jade, Alex’s thirteen-year-old daughter from his first marriage, who claims that there was a man in the house the night of the fire.

The story is told from different perspectives and, as each character tell their story, you don’t know who to trust (I DO love unreliable characters!). Is the fire an accident or arson? Did Jade really see a man in the house the night of the fire? What is Natalie hiding? Why doesn’t Alex know much about Natalie’s past? So many questions that the author unravels in a slow-burning progression that keeps the reader engrossed.

The Second Wife is a suspenseful, engaging, and thrilling novel, perfect for all fans of psychological thrillers.

A huge thank you to Transworld and NetGalley for providing me with a proof copy of this fantastic novel.

 

Q&A: TANNADEE by Maurice Gray @matadorbooks

Good morning everyone! Starting my week with a fantastic Q&A with Maurice Gray whose new novel, TANNADEE, was published in February by Troubador Publishing.

First of all, what is TANNADEE?

Tannadee, a picturesque village in the Scottish Highlands, finds itself suddenly forced to fight for its life when Gordon Weever, a billionaire bully, reveals plans to build an exclusive golf resort nearby. Though most of the locals oppose him, Weever pushes on, employing dirty tricks and splashing cash. He trashes a rare woodland, he annexes land. Somebody needs to stop him. But who? 

Step up local teacher, Chizzie Bryson with his out-of-the-box idea for the villagers to compete in a Highland Games to raise funds – with a surprising ally. Weever’s own daughter rejects her father’s rapacious antics, time after time attempting to remodel him into someone she can respect… and failing.

The time of the Highland Games dawns, and a diverse range of local characters compete on behalf of Tannadee including a greasy wrestler, a hypochondriac miler, a suicidal hill runner, a pretty-boy hammer thrower, a hen-pecked cyclist, and a wild-boy sprinter. Can good morals and fairness win the day? And can they be the iceberg to sink Weever’s titanic ego once and for all?

Maurice Gray was so nice to answer a few of my questions…

9781838592332

Can you tell us more about your new novel, Tannadee?

Tannadee is a humorous novel about a fictional village in the Scottish Highlands. The village is forced to fight for its life when Gordon Weever, a bullying billionaire, plans to build an exclusive golf resort nearby. Though most locals oppose him, Weever pushes on, employing dirty tricks and splashing cash. He trashes a rare woodland, he annexes land. Somebody needs to stop him. But who? Step up local teacher, Chizzie Bryson. He inspires villagers to compete in a Highland Games to raise funds. He is helped greatly by Weever’s own daughter who rejects her father’s rapacious antics. She even confronts him in the hope of persuading him to become someone she can respect. But Weever is his own man, and he has no compunction about exploiting weakness, particularly that of a local aristrocat who is bedevilled by booze and gambling.  Through a mixture of satire, farce and challenging issues I think the novel delivers a story that is original, timely and engaging.

How did you come up with the plotline for the book?

As an adviser to golf courses throughout Scotland I had seen quite a few small communities benefit from the construction or upgrading of golf courses. They sometimes became the hub of the community’s social life and made the place more attractive to young families. So when Donald Trump submitted plans for a new golf course in Aberdeenshire, I was very much in favour of the project – it promised jobs and a higher profile for the region. However, the plans required  the acquisition of a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and a lot of debate and mixed feelings arose from this. With this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to see what could happen when another billionaire proposes a major golf project near a small community in the Scottish Highlands.

Do you have a favourite character you can tell us a bit more about?

My favourite character is Yolanda, the billionaire’s daughter. She could quite simply take on her father’s mantle and run the global business while enjoying the best that life has to offer. But she chooses a different path, her own path. She’s a confident young woman without being overly assertive and she is aware that life has a spiritual aspect to it, something that her father only now, in his sixties, is coming to realise. She may not take up the most space in the book, but she arguably has the greatest impact. She takes on men in a men’s world. And most tellingly of all, she is able to act as a bridge between the single-minded dynamism of her father and the community spirit championed by the other lead character who is opposing her father.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

For most of my professional life I was a sportsturf agronomist advising venues ranging from the renowned to the very humble. Before that, I was a biology teacher in Zambia and Scotland. Now retired, I’m not active in sports, but once was a prize-winning sprinter on the amateur Highland Games circuit.

What is a great book you’ve read recently that you would recommend to others?

I would recommend My Life on the Plains by General George Custer. This book, published two years before the Battle of Little Bighorn, provides a first-hand account of the ill-fated General Custer and his cavalry as they set about confronting native Americans on the vast plains of America. Well written, though in a slightly archaic style, the book draws the reader into the sights and feel of the plains as ordinary men edge their way ever forwards. But ordinary though these men were, they  were about to sweep away not just a nation, not just a people, but an entire civilization. These ordinary men changed the human face of America. Also changed in these reminiscences is Custer’s image, popularly known as a rash and arrogant man, the book reveals Custer as a more complex person capable also of dry humour, sensitivity and genuine empathy for the native Americans.

When did you decide to write and what prompted you to start?

While I was a student at the University of  Aberdeen, I wrote some articles for the student newspaper and did some script writing for student revues. This gave me an appetite for writing sitcom scripts, but when I took up full-time employment as a schoolteacher I didn’t have enough time to continue writing. It was only later when I became established as a sportsturf agronomist  that I decided it was now or never and I would use what little spare time I had to attempt some serious writing. I wrote two plays which were never performed but were held for a time by two theatres for possible production and one of them received a reading by professional actors, with a famous Scottish comedian, Chic Murray, in the leading role. As for the sitcoms, a BBC editor told me that my scripts would never reach production stage because I enjoyed my job too much. And he was right; I just never had enough time to do all the writing and re-writing required to produce scripts of professional standard. When I finally retired, I had the time I needed and I had a large heap of notes accumulated from years of jotting.

What comes to you first – the setting, the characters or some aspect of the story?

For Tannadee it was a combination of the setting and particular events, but future books will be based around a set of characters.

Has any other writer in particular influenced the way you write?

I wouldn’t say I was influenced by any particular writer, but I can think of many writers whose work I admire and whose styles I probably have been influenced by to some extent. They include the works of Henry Fielding, Dickens, Chekhov, Tolstoy, the essays of J.B. Priestley, Garrison Keiller, Philip Roth, Spike Milligan, and John Grisham, to name but a few.

Can you describe Tannadee in 3 adjectives?

Humorous, Highland, enlightening.

Can you tell us a bit about your plans for the future?

I have two books in mind at present. One is a sequel to Tannadee, and the other is based in Africa featuring Chizzie, one of the leading characters in Tannadee.

More about Maurice Gray…

Maurice Gray Photo

For most of his professional life Maurice Gray was a sportsturf agronomist advising venues ranging from the renowned to the very humble. Before that, he was a biology teacher in Zambia and Scotland, and was once a prize-winning sprinter on the amateur Highland Games circuit. Now retired, he is based in Perth. This is his debut.

#BookReview: A BODY IN THE BOOKSHOP by Helen Cox @Helenography @QuercusBooks @ellakroftpatel

Back in October, I came across the Kitt Hartley Yorkshire Mystery series which features librarian-turned-investigator Kitt and her best friend Evie investigating homicides in York. A Body in the Bookshop is the second fantastic novel in the series and it’s out today to in paperback so I am delighted to share again my review of this thrilling and suspenseful novel set among books.

A Body in the Bookshop

It’s nearly Christmas in York, but it seems the season of goodwill hasn’t touched everyone…

When DS Charlotte Banks is suspended from the police on suspicion of assaulting a suspect in the burglary of a local bookshop, librarian Kitt Harley and her friend Evie Bowes refuse to believe she is guilty. But why is she being framed?

With Charlotte’s boss DI Malcolm Halloran unable to help, Evie decides to take matters into her own hands. Kitt takes little persuading to get involved too – after all, as well as Charlotte’s career to save, there are missing books to be found!

From the tightknit community of York’s booksellers, to the most gossipy bus route in the country, Kitt and Evie leave no stone unturned to get at the truth behind the burglary.

Then the discovery of a body raises the stakes even higher. For Evie, and now Kitt, this case is as personal as it gets. Can they catch the murderer in time to turn a bleak midwinter into something merry and bright?

**********

A few weeks ago I was invited to join the media blast for the first novel in the Kitt Hartley Yorkshire Mystery series and I enjoyed reading about this librarian turned investigator. So, when I found out that the second book in the series, A Body in the Bookshop, was coming out on 31st October I knew I had to read it right away. Not only because I really love the title (it’s great, isn’t it?!?), but because I fell in love with the characters, the setting of the books, and I enjoy the author’s clear and flowing writing style.

So, in A Body in the Bookshop, we find the three funniest and smartest amateur detectives back for another case. It all starts with the robbery of some valuable first editions at Kitt’s favourite bookshop and the suspension of DS Charlotte Banks for assaulting a suspect. Feeling protective and grateful to DS Banks following the case in Murder by the Minster, Evie convinces Kitt, once again, to do their own investigation in the case. This case gives Kitt the excuse to visit all bookshops in town in search of clues, while Evie is determined to find out the truth and help DS Charley Banks. Helping them are the always loyal assistant librarian and online genius Grace and the 85-year-old psychic Ruby who reads tarots and gets her info on the bus 59.

While Murder by the Minster was more Kitt’s story, A Body in the Bookshop focuses more on Evie. She is still processing the events of the first book and its consequences. On the romantic side, she is struggling with her unexpected feelings for someone and we get to read more about her friendship with Kitt. I wish there had been more about Kitt and detective Halloran’s new romance (I love this couple!), but I enjoyed getting to know Evie better. Once again, Kitt is full of literary references that make me like her more and more (and increase my TBR pile) and I love the character of Grace. She is such a fun character, so smart, resourceful, and full of life and she always makes me laugh.

With good pacing and a few twists, the author addresses themes of police corruption, blackmail, secrets, and, of course, murder. Even though it is the second book in the series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone, but I highly recommend you read the first book, too, not only because it’s a fantastic read, but to better understand the characters and their story. A Body in the Bookshop is an engaging, thrilling, and addictive cosy mystery and I am already looking forward to the third book in the series which is out next March!

A huge thank you to Quercus and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the novel.

A Body in the Bookshop social media blast visual

#BookReview: STRANGERS by C. L. Taylor @callytaylor @AvonBooksUK

StrangersPublication: 2nd April 2020 – Avon

Ursula, Gareth and Alice have never met before.

Ursula thinks she killed the love of her life.
Gareth’s been receiving strange postcards.
And Alice is being stalked.

None of them are used to relying on others – but when the three strangers’ lives unexpectedly collide, there’s only one thing for it: they have to stick together. Otherwise, one of them will die.
 
Three strangers, two secrets, one terrifying evening.
 
The million-copy bestseller returns with a gripping new novel that will keep you guessing until the end.

**********

Thrilling, riveting, heart-pounding suspenseful… I am talking about the new novel by C. L. Taylor. What a rollercoaster of a read! It kept me on edge the entire time I was reading and full of questions when I took a break from reading. If you’ve read the author’s previous novels, you know how good she is to creating well-crafted plots that keep you glued to the pages and, with this new novel, she didn’t disappoint.

As the titles implies, this is the story of strangers, three people who don’t now each other. but whose path somehow crosses and becomes intertwined. There is Alice, a divorced mother who is trying to figure out the world of dating, but there someone is watching her. Gareth is a security guard who, when not a work, spends his time looking after his elderly mother and wondering who is leaving her mysterious postcards. And Ursula, a low-paid courier who found her own way to battle with her grief, a way that may get her into trouble. How are they connected? What are they hiding? And how will it end?

I adore this author. She manages to drag you into the story and keep you completely engrossed. Even though I didn’t always liked them, the characters are engaging, complex and well-developed. The story is twisty and you never know what to expect. What more would you want?

So to recap, in Strangers you will find fantastic characterization, brilliant writing, a gripping plot, slowly-building tension, and unexpected twists. It’s literally impossible to put this book down.

A huge thank you to Avon and Netgalley for providing me with a proof copy of the novel.

 

#BookReview: TO KILL A MAN by Sam Bourne @hannah_robbo @QuercusBooks

To Kill A ManPublication: 19th March 2020 – Quercus

Natasha Winthrop is a rising star in American politics, strongly tipped as a future candidate for president. One night she is violently assaulted in her home by an intruder. She defends herself and minutes later, the intruder lies dead. Winthrop is hailed as a #MeToo heroine: the woman who fought back.

But inconsistencies emerge in Winthrop’s story, suggesting that the attack might not have been as random as it first seemed.

When former White House troubleshooter Maggie Costello is drafted in to investigate, she finds intriguing gaps, especially over Winthrop’s early life. She likes this woman, who she believes could – and should – be president. But she can’t shake off the question: who exactly is Natasha Winthrop?

A cat-and-mouse conspiracy thriller of rare intelligence, To Kill a Man explores an unsettling world in which justice is in the eye of the beholder and revenge seems to be the only answer.

**********

If, like me, you regularly watched every episode of the TV series Scandal, then you are going to love this new novel by Sam Bourne. The protagonist is Maggie Costello who, like Olivia Pope on TV, is hired to solve the problems of Washington elite. She is the best at her job so when rising star Natasha Winthrop is arrested for killing an intruder in her house, she has no choice but to ask for Maggie’s help. As Maggie investigates, a darker and more complex truth comes to light, a truth that puts her in danger.

Let me give you a fair warning. As the author addresses themes of rape and sexual assault and highlights the holes in the American justice system when it comes to prosecuting rapists, some of the scenes may result thought-provoking, uncomfortable, and not easy to read (although they are not detailed). The plot is intriguing, twisty, complex, and, above all, timely: the author writes about fake news, #metoo movement, behind the scene of a presidential campaign, and how social media can easily influence people.

I really liked the character of Maggie Costello. She is a wonderful and brilliant character, determined to find out the truth. This is my first novel by this author, but I am really looking forward to read the other novels featuring this character.

To Kill A Man is a refreshing and fast-paced political thriller full of suspense and surprises with vivid and intriguing characters and a fantastic and unexpected ending that make this novel a must-read. Highly recommended!!!

A huge thank you to Hannah, Quercus, and Netgalley for providing me with a proof copy of this novel.

 

#CoverReveal: THE SUMMER ISLAND SWAP by Samantha Tonge @SamanthaTongeAuthor @aria_fiction @VickyJoss1

Happy Friday everyone!!!

Excited to take part in a fantastic cover reveal. THE SUMMER ISLAND SWAP, the new summer novel by Samantha Tonge, published by Aria on 4th June 2020.

What is THE SUMMER ISLAND SWAP?

Sometimes the best holidays are the ones you least expect…

After a long and turbulent year, Sarah is dreaming of the five-star getaway her sister has booked them on. White sands, cocktails, massages, the Caribbean is calling to them.

But the sisters turn up to tatty beaches, basic wooden shacks, a compost toilet and outdoor cold water showers. It turns out that at the last minute Amy decided a conservation project would be much more fun than a luxury resort.

So now Sarah’s battling mosquitos, trying to stomach fish soup and praying for a swift escape. Life on a desert island though isn’t all doom and gloom. They’re at one with nature, learning about each other and making new friends. And Sarah is distracted by the dishy, yet incredibly moody, island leader she’s sure is hiding a secret.

About Samantha Tonge

Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely. When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines. She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association romantic comedy award.

Follow Samantha:   

Facebook: @SamTongeWriter

Twitter: @SamanthaTongeAuthor

Buy links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/38xIJFD

Google Play: https://bit.ly/2IuyI1q

Kobo: https://bit.ly/333XuPn

iBooks: https://apple.co/39x8VS9

Follow Aria

Website: www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

And now let’s look at this beautiful cover…

 

Summer Island Swap_final

#BookReview: MY ONE TRUE NORTH by Milly Johnson @millyjohnson @simonschusterUK @BookMinxSJV @TeamBATC

My One True NorthPublication: 5th March 2020 – Simon & Schuster UK

Laurie and Pete should never have met.
But fate has pushed them together for a reason.
 
Six months ago, on the same night, Laurie and Pete both lost their partners.
Struggling to manage the grief, they join the same counselling group – and meet each other.
 
From their sadness, Pete and Laurie find happiness growing and they sense a fresh new beginning. 
Except, the more they talk, the more they begin to spot the strange parallels in their stories.
Then Pete discovers a truth that changes everything.
 
But, as surely as a compass points north, some people cannot be kept apart.
 
My One True North is a story of friendship and what love means, of secrets uncovered, teashops on corners and the northern lights.

**********

Grab your tissue and settle down because you’re in for a treat. Milly Johnson is back with a beautiful and emotional story that will break your heart and warm it at the same time. The protagonists are Pete and Laurie and we meet them at the worst time of their lives. What do they have in common? They both lost their partners in a car accident. They meet at a supporting group where, over cake and tea, people share their grief. Pete and Laurie are drawn to each other, but is their grief the only thing they have in common or is there something more?

One thing that I like about Milly Johnson’s novels is how lovable her characters are. Pete and Laurie feel authentic, entertaining, warm, and generous. Their story is moving and engaging and I loved how the perspectives switched between these two characters. Pete and Laurie are surrounded by a cast of characters that are mostly good and likable and who supported them through their grief. Friendship, family, love, honesty, and loyalty are all important themes in the story.

There is laughter and there is sadness, there is grief and there is happiness. The author describes in so much details the protagonists’ sorrow that I shed a few tears, but then she inserted the hilarious snippets from the local newspaper that made me laugh out loud (and made me shed a few tears of joy).

Milly Johnson is one of these authors I will never get tired of reading and My One True North is a fantastic, absorbing, and refreshing addition to her collection of already brilliant novels.

A huge thank you to SJ and Simon and Schuster UK for providing me with a copy of this novel.