#Review – #TheFirstBreath by Olivia Gordon (@OliviaGordon) @Booksbybluebird @Panmacmillan #nonfiction #medicalmemoir

41+NRY+BIFL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_
(ARC received from the publisher, many thanks).

This is a story about the cutting-edge medicine that has saved a generation of babies.

It’s about the love and fear a parent feels for a child they haven’t yet met.

It’s about doctors, mothers, fathers and babies as together they fight for the first breath.

The First Breath is the first popular science book about the pioneering fetal and neonatal medicine bringing a new generation into the world – a generation of babies without precedent, who would not have lived if they had been born only a few decades ago.

Olivia Gordon explores the female experience of medicine through her own personal story and sensitive, intimate case histories of other mothers’ high-risk births. She details the relationship mothers develop with doctors who hold not only life and death in their hands, but also the very possibility of birth.

From the dawn of fetal medicine to neonatal surgery and the exploding field of perinatal genetics, The First Breath tells of fear, bravery and love. Olivia Gordon takes the reader behind the closed doors of the fetal and neonatal intensive care units, resuscitation rooms and operating theatres at some of the world’s leading children’s hospitals, unveiling the untold story of how doctors save the sickest babies.

What does TWG think?

2019 is the year I decided to lose myself in medical memoirs. I used to be quite afraid of reading books about such sensitive and often harrowing subjects that non-fiction books cover, however those topics are what people have personally endured. Those books tell readers about a journey that they would love other people to understand, or to be aware of. ‘The First Breath’ is one of those books. In fact, it’s one of those types of books which make a lump the size of a crater, form in your throat, hoping that no-one will talk to you until that lump disappears, in fear of personally turning into a puddle.

If you’re a parent of a child who ended up in NICU, required surgery through the womb, or anything like that, a lot of what Olivia Gordon discusses will obviously hit home. If you haven’t been directly affected by such uncertain times, you’ll no doubt find yourself moved by Olivia Gordon’s honest and harrowing account. I was. I was astounded by what the medical profession can do to try and assist a sick baby both inside the womb, and out. I had no idea about half of the things mentioned in this book, and at times I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer extent of the medical jargon and what not.

There are a lot of medical facts throughout this book, of course, and there is also a lot of medical jargon which, to be perfectly honest, went over my head at times. Thankfully I had Google to help me to understand such terminology, and the author did give the definitions some of the time which helped, however there was still a lot that didn’t make sense for someone who hadn’t been in the position that Olivia Gordon had.

Like I say, I was blown away by the work of the surgeons, genetics teams and, the strength of the female body. I have had one child, a 9lb baby girl in 2013 and, even though I was classed as a high risk pregnancy due to my own illnesses, I to this day cannot quite believe what the human body can do. Seriously, females have 2 hearts in their bodies when they’re pregnant, and then they have to try and expel the baby once the placenta says ‘right, get out’. I mean, us ladies need to dilate to the size of a bagel. A BAGEL. Shocking really, isn’t it. So yeah, I think the female body is an exceptional thing and, like ‘First Breath’ describes, there are many times where babies unfortunately do not make it into this world and my heart goes out to every single person who has had to go through that.

The science behind this book is utterly fascinating, medical jargon aside, and the way in which Olivia Gordon incorporates her own personal experience alongside it, was both mind-blowing and incredibly emotional. Not only did the author relieve her own heartache and give the other families (and their babies mentioned in the book) a voice, she also showed the reality of the aftermath so to speak. She didn’t gloss over how difficult it was to have a child in NICU, or to have a child who ended up poorly with various challenges, for the rest of their life. She didn’t pretend that everything was rosy, nor did she hide the devastation of the procedures the surgeons carried out through the womb, because that’s just not life. It’s not realistic and, as much as we would love no-one to endure the heartbreak of losing a child, multiple children, or even their spouse/family member due to pregnancy or giving birth, it happens. But then on the other hand, there could be an extremely sick baby yet due to advanced medical science and the knowledge of surgeons and other members of the medical team, that baby may pull through.

I’m not going to sit here and say that ‘The First Breath’ was an easy read, because it wasn’t. It was very difficult to read most of the time, due to the sheer amount of emotion throughout, yet it was also a read which opened my eyes to the incredible work of the medical profession. It also opened my eyes to the challenges that parents of sick babies face, as well as the emotional turmoil and stress throughout the whole process. It was very clear that the not knowing, or the uncertainty of the future was one of the hardest things to come to terms with, as was the putting the life of your child in someone else’s hands.

‘The First Breath’ is a poignant, powerful, and devastating read which covers a topic a lot of mothers, fathers, and families will be able to relate with. I can only thank the author for sharing her own personal story, and I would like to send love to anyone who has ever been in this position.

Buy now!

#BlogTour! #Review – #BloodSong by Johana Gustawsson (@jogustawsson) @OrendaBooks @AnneCater

Happy paperback publication day to Johana Gustawsson and ‘Blood Song’, I am so pleased to be today’s stop on the blog tour! Many thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda for both the blog tour invite and ARC. Here is my review:

The action swings from London to Sweden, and then back into the past, to Franco’s Spain, as Roy & Castells hunt a monstrous killer … in the lastest instalment of Johana Gustawsson’s award-winning series

Spain, 1938:

The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Therese witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Therese gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016: A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.

Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and soon finds herself on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer. Little does she realise that this killer is about to change the life of her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells. Joining forces once again, Roy and Castells’ investigation takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule.

What does TWG think?

As ignorant as this may sound, I wasn’t aware of the atrocities that Spain dealt with in the late 1930’s….I am now though! I have absolutely no words! My heart broke for all of the people involved, for all of the people who lost their lives, and for those who lost their life and were forced to continue as a shell. ‘Blood Song’ isn’t a comfortable read at all, in fact I would go as far to say that it is a deeply uncomfortable and unsettling read, however my reaction was nothing compared to the pain of those living in Spain during Franco’s dictatorship.

‘Blood Song’ is a dual timeline novel as it switches between Spain in the past, and Sweden in the ‘present’ where Emily Roy and Alexis Castells find themselves with the task of finding the cold hearted culprit who murdered three people in their own home. Why were they killed? What secrets, if any, were they hiding?

The murder investigation angle of ‘Blood Song’ was so addictive! I loved being able to follow Emily Roy as she attempted to create a profile of the killer, or killers, based on the evidence left and they way they chose to murder. A profiler is such an underrated part of a police investgation, however I thought it was one of the most fascinating.

Emily Roy is an intriguing character, her personal guard is so far up, anyone would need a ladder should they attempt to get past it!

I really did enjoy the complexity of the storyline – I found the uncertainty incredibly intriguing whilst it also kept me on my toes. I did find the storyline to be a little confusing at times due to the way certain situations flitted from one another, making me concerned that I had missed something along the way. A little bit too staggered for me at times!

That said, I thought that Gustawsson dealt with the topics in the storyline phenomenally. The historical nature of the book, whilst being very dark, was written beautifully and I found myself becoming emotional at the fact that stories were being told and voices were being heard, even if the original victim wasn’t telling the story themselves.

A heartbreaking, suspenseful novel which combines historical fiction and crime in the most unique and eye-opening manner, ‘Blood Song’ is a truly unforgettable read.

Buy now.

#BlogTour #Review – #TheDayWeMeetAgain by Miranda Dickinson (@wurdsmyth) @HQStories #TeamSparkly

HUGE thank you to HQ for inviting me to take part in Miranda Dickinson’s new novel, ‘The Day We Meet Again’. It was such an honour to receive such a lovely ARC package in the post as well, thank you again to HQ, and of course thank you to Miranda Dickinson for allowing me to be a part of #TeamSparkly!

‘We’ll meet again at St Pancras station, a year from today. If we’re meant to be together, we’ll both be there. If we’re not, it was never meant to be . . .’

Phoebe and Sam meet by chance at St Pancras station. Heading in opposite directions, both seeking their own adventures, meeting the love of their lives wasn’t part of the plan. So they make a promise: to meet again in the same place in twelve months’ time if they still want to be together.

But is life ever as simple as that?

This is a story of what-ifs and maybes – and how one decision can change your life forever…

What does TWG think?

Hello modern day ‘You’ve Got Mail’! ‘The Day We Meet Again’ had Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan all over it!

This book is romantic with a capital R. From the get go we see two strangers connecting on a level other people would only ever dream about. Some think that love at first sight is a load of tosh, however Phoebe and Sam are not afraid to listen to what their hearts are telling them. Me personally? I don’t believe in falling in love straight after meeting someone, however I do think that its more than possible to connect with someone new when you’ve only just met them. But love at first sight? I’m not convinced.

Thankfully my opinion on that matter was null and void because the story was about Phoebe and Sam, not me. The premise of the book was such a brilliant escapism and showed readers that you can still live your life even though you have fallen in love. Your plans do not automatically freeze because you have a partner. Again, not everyone realises that though. Take a look at Phoebe and Sam’s friends for example; they were obviously concerned for their friends decision, yet it was incredibly easy for them to pass their doubts onto both Phoebe and Sam. Would the couple find their way back to each other in a years time?

What I love most about Miranda Dickinson’s writing, is the way she creates her characters from her heart, making their personalities jump off the page as though they’re a real life human, like you and me. Dickinson’s storylines are addictive, beautifully thought out, and full of such joy, hope and companionship.

My only irk about the book was the ending. Considering how in depth the rest of the book was, I felt that the ending didn’t fit in with the strength of the rest of the book. It was still cute, I’m not saying that there was anything wrong with it, I just found it a little flat in comparison to the rest of the book.

I loved the fact that I was able to lose myself in Phoebe and Sam’s journeys of self discovery – it was very difficult to not fall in love with such a touching and enriching storyline like ‘The Day We Meet Again’. Phoebe and Sam gave me hope, and ‘The Day We Meet Again’ is the love story of all love stories – the perfect read.

Buy now.

#BlogTour! #Review – #LiesLiesLies by Adele Parks (@adeleparks) @HQStories

Please do excuse the lateness of this post, I’m not at all well! Thank you to HQ for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for ‘Lies Lies Lies’ by Adele Parks, and for sending me an ARC. It is an honour to be reviewing it as part of the blog tour today.

Daisy and Simon’s marriage is great, isn’t it?

After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. A happy little family of three.

And so what if Simon drinks a bit too much sometimes – Daisy’s used to it, she knows he’s letting off steam. Until one night at a party things spiral horribly out of control. And that happy little family of three will never be the same again.

What does TWG think?

With a title such as ‘Lies Lies Lies’, I was expecting the whole secrecy and lack of honesty thing, however I was not expecting Adele Parks to take those themes and up the ante on them tenfold. This book is classed as a ‘domestic thriller’, and I have to say that it is certainly a thrilling read!

Daisy and Simon’s relationship, to the outside world, may seem typical. The couple argue, they’re stressed after a hard days work, they’re trying to do right by their daughter. Instead of communicating to each other, Simon has his own recreational way of putting his issues on the back burner and, funnily enough, Simon doesn’t think that he has an issue when he clearly does.

I have never really understood the fixation with alcohol myself. Yes, I’ve had a few drinks, gone out clubbing and what not, but I just don’t get what it is that people grab a hold of and rely on. I know alcoholism is an addiction, I’m not disputing that at all, its just I’ve lived in a house with an alcoholic who not only drank himself into oblivion, he also used his fists.

Alcohol is actually quite an important stepping stone of this book actually, and watching how much it affected the lives of Daisy, Simon, Millie, and everyone else around them, really gave me food for thought when it comes to personality changes and honesty.

‘Lies Lies Lies’ covers several important topics, most of which reader will be relating to directly or indirectly. I found several chapters towards the end of the book, to be quite uncomfortable to read. Dylan was such an unsettling force of nature, and I could see just where Daisy’s fear came from.

The topic of honesty and secrets is the big thing throughout the storyline as things aren’t always as they seem. I mean, how often do we take part in an activity whilst there is something completely unrelated on our minds, only to then create our own blinkered version of that activity afterwards? Sometimes we only see what we want to see, and sometimes we only hear what we want to hear. We even refuse to believe what is in front of us at times as we just want to ourselves from the uncertainty.

Adele Parks has done her themes justice and gave her characters the voice that they so desperately needed. I really enjoyed the psychological aspects of the storyline most, as I felt more in tune with Daisy and Simon’s psyche as things began to progress. Okay, it was an uncomfortable read at times, but the things discussed in this book aren’t meant to be comfortable.

A raw, thrilling and psychologically talented novel – I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Buy now.

#BlogTour! #Review – #Endgame by Daniel Cole (@Daniel_P_Cole) @OrionCrime @OrionBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

Thanks so much to Tracy Fenton and Orion for the blog tour invite (and the ARC), I am delighted to share my review of ‘Endgame’ by Daniel Cole!

A locked room. A dead body. A secret that went to the grave.

When retired police officer Finlay Shaw is found dead in a locked room, everyone thinks it’s suicide. But disgraced detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes isn’t so sure.

Together with his former partner Detective Emily Baxter and private detective Edmunds, Wolf’s team begin to dig into Shaw’s early days on the beat. Was Shaw as innocent as he seemed? Or is there more to his past than he’d ever let on?

But not everyone wants Wolf back – and as his investigation draws him ever deeper into police corruption, it will not only be his career on the line – but the lives of those he holds closest as well…

What does TWG think?

If you aren’t already aware, ‘Endgame’ is the third installment in the ‘Ragdoll’ series. The author does state at the beginning of this book that it would be highly advantageous if you read the books in order, however i did not do that despite having the previous books ready to read! Whoops! Having said that, I didn’t find the story any less enjoyable not having the in depth backstory of each of the characters. In all honesty, I fluffing loved it!!!!

How amazing is Wolf!!! I was in hysterics at pretty much ALL of the things that came out of his mouth, and at times I felt a teeny bit guilty at laughing given the nature of the circumstances at the time.

‘Endgame’ is SO addictive! Retired police officer, Finlay, is found dead in his own home. Officers investigating the death class it as suicide, however Wolf isn’t convinced that Finlay would go to such lengths. Given Wolf’s unruly personality and ability to annoy everyone around him without even doing anything, Wolf’s idea didn’t go down well with his ‘colleagues’. Would it be in their best interests to trust his instincts, or would they be better off agreeing with the verdict of ‘suicide’ where Finlay is concerned?

Wolf doesnt exactly make it easy for himself, does he? Even though I wasn’t aware of what he had done to annoy his colleagues in the previous books, I got the jist after his personality shone through rather quickly.

As I said above, I fluffing love this book. I adored every single thing about it, from the flawed characters to the frayed relationships, to the thrilling events and the fast paced storline. Honestly, Daniel Cole is an incredible, incredible author – why I haven’t delved into his books before now is beyond me!

I thought this was such a cleverly written novel with outstanding humour running throughout. I wouldn’t expect a thriller to be laced with hilarity, yet Daniel Cole, and Wolf, made it work.

What a phenomenally twisted, thrilling, humourous and addictive read which, if reading this caused speeding tickets, I would be severely bankrupt now! What a book!!!!

Buy now in e-book from Amazon UK.

#BlogTour! #Review – #TheManWhoSawEverything by Deborah Levy @VikingBooksUK @bookswithbolino

(Many thanks to Viking Books for the ARC and blog tour invite.)

In 1988 Saul Adler (a narcissistic, young historian) is hit by a car on the Abbey Road. He is apparently fine; he gets up and goes to see his art student girlfriend, Jennifer Moreau. They have sex then break up, but not before she has photographed Saul crossing the same Abbey Road.

Saul leaves to study in communist East Berlin, two months before the Wall comes down. There he will encounter – significantly – both his assigned translator and his translator’s sister, who swears she has seen a jaguar prowling the city. He will fall in love and brood upon his difficult, authoritarian father. And he will befriend a hippy, Rainer, who may or may not be a Stasi agent, but will certainly return to haunt him in middle age.

What does TWG think?

Having not read any of Deborah Levy’s previous novels, I wasn’t at all sure what to expect. I was aware that this particular author had had several of her books nominated for the ‘Man Booker Prize’, so I had already guessed what particular league the story would be in.

‘The Man Who Saw Everything’ is like nothing I have ever read before and, whilst i attempted to remain openminded about the unique story, the uncertainty and unpredictability was slightly unnerving at times. It didn’t have the same sort of storyline stepping stones as a crime novel or a contemporary fiction, where you know where the story was heading based on where you were in the book. It seemed to have it’s own rules.

With one half of the book set in 1988 and the other half set in the ‘present’, ‘The Man Who Saw Everything’ tells the story of Saul, a historian who seems to spend most of his time battling with himself or embarking on some sort of romantic past time, if you catch my drift.

I don’t think that Saul didn’t care about who he hurt, I think that perhaps he cared a little too much at times….probably about the wrong things though, I must add.

I thought it was clever how the author used dissociation as the main ‘thing’ in her book, especially as Saul’s mind refused to let him see life in all its mismatch glory, instead he saw it as something only he could understand.

I appreciated the authors intricate attention to detail and the way she crafted such a uniquely blended storyline – I was quite moved by Saul’s reaction when he realised that reality was going to sink in and he had no other choice but to oblige.

Personally, I don’t think that ‘The Man Who Saw Everything’ was really my thing overall, however I thoroughly enjoyed stepping out of my comfort zone and reading a book which puts your mind to work, thinking about just how easily we take things for granted.

Buy now.

#CoverReveal! #ComingHomeToMerrimentBay by Emily Harvale (@emilyharvale) @RaRaResources

Omg, omg, omg!!! Emily Harvale is back with a brand new series!!! If you cast your mind back a couple of months, you’ll no doubt remember her ‘Lilypond Lane’ series which I, alongside many others, went completely gaga for!

I am super excited to be helping to reveal the cover of part one in Emily’s new series, ‘Coming Home to Merriment Bay’, and I cannot WAIT to lose myself in this authors writing again.

So, without further ado, check this out!!

After eighteen years apart, reclusive Cat Devon still recognises her mum’s handwriting. Plucking up the courage to open the letter, its contents send Cat and her teenage daughter, Kyra racing to Merriment Bay, the seaside village where Cat grew up.

But Cat is shocked to find the situation is worse than expected. Despite everything, Cat considers herself to be an optimist at heart and Kyra takes after her. Looking on the bright side may not improve things, but it definitely can’t make them worse.

Clearing out the house that, even now, Cat fondly thinks of as home, she stumbles upon more than just memories in the battered leather trunk in Granny Viola’s bedroom. She discovers a faded photo of an RAF pilot, a pile of unopened letters, and a mystery waiting to be solved.

Who is the man in the – clearly treasured – photo? Cat and Kyra are intent on finding out. But that’s not all Cat’s determined to do. It’s time she came to terms with her past and made peace with her mum and her gran. All the while avoiding bumping into the one man she never quite got over … and keeping a few secrets of her own.

This is Part One of a new, four-part serial. The other three parts are:

Coming Home to Merriment Bay – Part Two: Sparks Fly
Coming Home to Merriment Bay – Part Three: Christmas
Coming Home to Merriment Bay – Part Four: Starry Skies

This is the start of Emily Harvale’s Merriment Bay series which is interconnected to her Wyntersleap series. Each series can be read alone, but several characters appear in both series.

If you fancy pre-ordering a copy, you can do so via Amazon UK or Amazon US

#BlogTour! Is the #DeathOfJustice, a case of murder or suicide? #Guestpost by @TonyJForder @BloodhoundBook

Many thanks to BloodHoundBooks for inviting me to take part in Tony J Forder’s blog tour for ‘The Death Of Justice’. For my stop today, I have a guest post from the author himself. Before I share that however, is a little bit more about the book and the purchase link. Enjoy!

One night. Two shootings. Two victims.

When DI Bliss arrives at the scene of the second murder, he recognises the same three-shot pattern as the first. But there is one major difference: the second victim has been decapitated, the head nowhere to be found. When a second headless corpse is discovered the following day, Bliss and his team realise the killer is on a spree – and he’s not done yet.

After Bliss links the killings and forms a task force with officers from Lincolnshire, they uncover further disturbing news: the murders are not the first in the series – there are four more headless victims, and the Lincolnshire team believe they know why. Not only that, they are also convinced that more potential victims are on the killer’s list.

In a race against time to save further loss of life, Bliss constantly finds himself one step behind and chasing shadows. In order to flush out the hired assassin, he and his team have no choice but to put their own lives at risk. But will everyone survive?

Buy now from Amazon

Guest post.

IS THE DEATH OF JUSTICE A CASE OF MURDER OR SUICIDE?

When you’re writing a series book, you have to keep in mind both the past and future while you’re relating the present. It’s a weird kind of omniscience, because as the author you’re able to see the entire cast of characters, everything they do, everything they think, plus everything they are going to do and think. And not just in the book you’re writing at the time. Okay, I’m going to say it – we get to play God (if you happen to believe in that sort of thing).

A lot of decisions need to be made, especially in terms of story and character development. With The Death of Justice I was extremely aware that in the previous book, The Reach of Shadows, I had pulled together multiple strands extending from the very first book and tied them off, a deliberate decision designed to stabilise the main character, DI Jimmy Bliss, and to reset his foundations so that he could continue on into the final stretch of his police career. I was conscious, too, that the first four books weaved complex investigative webs, and that a change of gear might be needed all round.

I think The Death of Justice achieves that, but without tearing down every structure my loyal readers have come to expect from a DI Bliss novel. So, whilst there is only a single case for him and his team to focus on this time, and the pace is stepped up by a couple of gears, the storyline is a bit like an onion in that beneath it there are connected layers of mystery for Bliss to peel away and wrap his head around. I think it both moves on from the previous book and cements the overall theme.

New characters from the neighbouring county of Lincolnshire are introduced, one of whom becomes Bliss’s investigative partner on a couple of occasions. Although she is a rank above him, he is in command on his own patch and it allows them to operate together effectively without egos getting in the way. This was something I had wanted to do anyway, and DCI Diane Warburton became the ideal role for the winner of a charity donation to have a character named after her. I hope she will prove popular.

When I came up with the idea for this book, I was aware that the previous four had relied on the investigative skills and dedication of Bliss and his team in solving those cases, and that police work doesn’t always follow such a steady path. There are times when circumstances change so regularly that the operation mounted veers off course and the team are constantly being caught out and challenged by events overtaking them. I thought the time was right for Jimmy and his colleagues to endure just such a case, and for the reader to hopefully feel their frustrations as things don’t go quite according to plan.

For Jimmy Bliss, this chapter in his life represents a period of stability. Undergoing mandatory therapy in the wake of the circumstances that led him almost to the point of destruction, Bliss reluctantly accepts his treatment – though Bliss being Bliss he regards it as more of a punishment. But clearly the time is right for him to tread water a little, to focus his mind on the job and the job alone. He has accepted his place in the world and is no longer entirely unhappy with his lot. That said, by the end of this book he has cause to question the wisdom of change and the impact it has on him and those around him.

In my notes at the end of The Death of Justice I point out that the idea for the story began when I read an article about an unsolved case in the US. I was fascinated by it, but knew I couldn’t actually write my book about it in fictional terms. Instead, I asked myself what might have triggered the unusual events, as well as what the aftermath could have looked like. It was while I was considering the latter that the storyline fell into place. Rarely – for me at least – the entire story came to me almost at once, including a beginning, middle, and end. Well… almost. It soon became clear to me that the opening chapter would work better as the final chapter, and I am so glad I changed my mind about that, especially given what immediately precedes it.

As for the overall theme of justice, I think it can be viewed in many ways throughout this book, and I leave it to the reader to take from it what they find. To me, there is a related thread running along the spine of the story, one which might prompt people to question the very notion of justice and what it means to individuals.

I’m guessing that the final few chapters are going to provoke the majority of comments. No spoilers, but they are extremely emotional, and I have no idea how people might react to them. I don’t think I’m cutting my own throat, but you never can tell. If I have learned anything over the course of my eight published books, it is that you cannot please everybody.

About the author.

Tony J Forder is the author of the critically acclaimed, bestselling crime thriller series featuring detectives Jimmy Bliss and Penny Chandler from the Major Crimes unit in Peterborough. The first four books, Bad to the Bone, The Scent of Guilt, If Fear Wins, and The Reach of Shadows, will soon be joined by The Death of Justice, which will be published on 9 September 2019.

Tony’s dark, psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, featuring ex-detective Frank Rogers, was also published by Bloodhound Books. This is a stand-alone serial-killer novel. Another book that was written as a stand-alone was Scream Blue Murder. This was published in November 2017, and received praise from many, including fellow authors Mason Cross, Matt Hilton and Anita Waller. Before it had even been published, Tony had decided to write a sequel, and Cold Winter Sun was published in November 2018.

Tony lives with his wife in Peterborough, UK, and is now a full-time author. He is currently working on a new novel, and has also begun writing Bliss #6.

#BlogTour! #Review – #InTheAbsenceofMiracles by Michael J Malone (@michaeljmalone1) @OrendaBooks @AnneCater

Next up on TWG today is my review of ‘In The Absence of Miracles’ by Michael.J.Malone. Many thanks to Orenda and Anne for the blog tour invite and ARC.

John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke and she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again.

With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood.

For in a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover.

For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence.

What does TWG think?

Gosh, I don’t really know where to begin. ‘In The Absence of Miracles’ is such a unique story, one that is incredibly topical in todays society.

I would feel incredibly uncomfortable if I sat here and said that I loved this book because of the subject matter discussed, however, even though there were moments of discomfort on my part, I really enjoyed the way in which Michael J Malone delivered the story.

My opinions on the characters changed multiple times throughout the story as one moment I felt empathy towards John’s mother and anger towards John, and then the next moment those opinions reversed.

I was completely blindsided by the eventualities that were uncovered by John’s journey, many of which were difficult to read, yet the reality of said situations are difficult, distressing and often harrowing. Michael J Malone seemed to really get into the psyche of his characters which really made the emotional scenes come to life.

‘In The Absence of Miracles’ may be a dark, harrowing and destructive read, yet it is also a compelling, emotive, poignant and relatable story which describes the journey of locked away emotions, hidden agendas, as well as the miracle of learning how to protect yourself, even if you never realised you had to.

An incredible read that will stay with me for a long time to come.

Buy now.

#BlogTour! #Review – #LivingMyBestLife by Claire Frost (@fabfrosty) @TeamBATC @AnneCater

It gives me great pleasure to welcome to TWG debut author, Claire Frost and her debut novel, ‘Living My Best Li(f)e. Many thanks to Team BATC for the ARC, and thank you to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Here is my review:

Recently dumped by her boyfriend of ten years, Bell is struggling to move on with her life – and surrender the fleecy pyjamas she’s been living in since January. Haunted by #blessed on social media, she can’t help but compare her life to those she follows online, wondering where she is going wrong . . .

In the world of social media, Millie is the successful online influencer @mi_bestlife. But in real life she’s just a regular single mum trying to make ends meet, while fending off the younger competition and tenacious internet trolls. Her Instagram feed is far more #BestLie than #BestLife, and soon Millie begins to wish her life was more like her filters.

It isn’t until Bell and Millie’s paths cross that they begin to realise what they’re both missing. Can Millie prove to Bell that life online isn’t always what it appears to be? And in return, can Millie learn that she needs to start living for the moment and not for the likes?

What does TWG think?

Could this book BE any more apt?! How many of us have scrolled through social media, comparing the immaculate selfies with your bed head ones? Or what about the sheer happiness that oozes out of multiple faces on their Instagram grid, whilst you’re posting pictures of yourself looking bedazzled because your cat just threw up all over your child’s highchair, and your child chose that exact moment to reach for some food?

We have all been there. We are only humans after all so, ‘Living My Best Life’ is the story that is full of one liners that nobody ever dare say out loud. It’s the story which puts the human race under the spotlight, confirming that our insecurities are the norm and that faking our lives on Instagram isn’t frowned upon….to a point.

The hilarity throughout the story was impeccably timed. I loved the genuine humour and relatable factor of all of the characters, however Nick is an absolute end of a bell!!!! Seriously!!

It was refreshing to finally read a book that didn’t put single mums in a negative light, as though it’s something to be ashamed of. For that alone, thank you Claire Frost!

Usually when books are pre dubbed as ‘uplifting’, I find them to be anything but. However, i thought that ‘Living My Best Life’ really was the heartfelt and uplifting read that its being promoted as.

I am genuinely surprised that this is a debut novel, as the strength of the entire storyline has the calibre of an author who has been writing books for a long time. Bell and Millie’s friendship was an absolute joy to follow, and their journeys to self discovery was the antidote I never knew I needed.

A relatable, gigglefest, and heartwarming novel that is full of hope. I certainly was ‘Living My Best Life’ whilst reading this, that’s for sure! Loved it!!

Buy now.