Many thanks to Fiona and Muswell Press for the review copy of ‘A Little Hope’, and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.
In the small city of Wharton, Connecticut, lives are beginning to unravel. A husband betrays his wife. A son struggles with addiction. A widow misses her late spouse. At the heart of these interlinking stories is one couple: Freddie and Greg Tyler.
Greg has just been diagnosed with a brutal form of cancer. He intends to handle this the way he has faced everything else: through grit and determination. But can he successfully overcome his illness? How will the Freddie and their daughter cope if he doesn’t? How do the other residents of Wharton learn to live with loss and find happiness again?
Celebrating the grace in everyday life, this powerful debut immerses the reader in a community of friends, family, and neighbours and identifies the ways that love and forgiveness can help us survive even the most difficult of life’s challenges.
There were a lot of situations in ‘A Little Hope’ to sink your teeth into, such as family drama, friendship issues, declining health and unforgiveable betrayal. Personally, at times, I thought that it was a lot of things to keep track of, which lowered my enjoyment of the storyline a touch. I’m all for jam packed storyline, don’t get me wrong, but there is a fine line between just enough, and too much.
That said, I take my hat off to the author for being able to write about such delicate and heartbreaking situations without minimalising the validity of each individual circumstance. I thought that that was very impressive and very well done.
It’s safe to say that my feelings of ‘A Little Hope’ are a bit mixed, and I don’t mean that in a negative way at all. The novel was memorable in terms of the authors writing style, characterisation, and their ability to put soul and life into their characters heartbreak.
Overall, ‘A Little Hope’ was indeed, full of hope. A soul searching, heartwarming novel.
Hugest of thanks to Jenny Platt and Hodder for asking me to be involved in the blog tour today, and for the ARC.
Molly lives a quiet, contained life in London. Naturally risk averse, she gains comfort from security and structure. Every day the same.
Her identical twin Katie is her exact opposite: gregarious and spontaneous. They used to be inseparable, until Katie moved to New York a year ago. Molly still speaks to her daily without fail.
But when Molly learns that Katie has died suddenly in New York, she is thrown into unfamiliar territory. Katie is part of her DNA. As terrifying as it is, she must go there and find out what happened. As she tracks her twin’s last movements, cracks begin to emerge. Nothing is what it seems. And a web of deceit is closing around her.
Where do I even begin writing this review!
You would have thought identical twins would know each other inside out, wouldn’t you? You would also have thought that they would be able to trust and rely on each other more than anyone else in the world. Sadly, that wasn’t the case for Molly and Katie. Whilst one twin was an extrovert who lived life to the full, grabbing adventures by the who-ha’s, the other twin was an introvert, fiercely afraid of her own shadow and worrying about what could happen….about anything.
I wasn’t expecting the storyline to unfold the way that it did, not at all. When it got to the half way point of the book, loose ends were becoming tighter and I couldn’t understand why. Had I missed something? I hadn’t missed a thing because what came next completely caught me off guard. I think the thought of ‘what the actual f……’ went through my head like a conveyor belt for 10 minutes straight.
Now I know you’re probably wondering what on earth am I going on about, but I can’t give too much away!
I didn’t want to put ‘First Born’ down, although I had to once or twice feed my child…and the dogs. Let’s just say that it wasn’t my choice to stop reading the book! I was hooked on ‘First Born’ like a little kid in a sweet shop! I have no idea how Will Dean managed to keep the timeline so iron clad throughout the entire thing without giving anything away. I was bloody impressed!
Stories such as this, is exactly why Will Dean is one of my most favourite authors of all time. The suspense levels were flawless, the attention to detail was absolutely spot on, and the gritty nature was enough to rival a sandy beach! If Will Dean isn’t on your radar, he really needs to be. I cannot wait to find out what he’s got up his sleeve next!
Brilliantly written with such a clever and gripping storyline – a belter of a book and then some.
Apologies for the day late review, I hadn’t quite finished reading it yesterday! Huge thanks to Penguin Michael J Books for the tour invite, and for supplying me with a copy of the book to read and review.
In 1999, seventeen-year-old Tone Vaterland was killed on her way home from work.
Desperate for a conviction the police deemed the investigation an open-and-shut case and sent her spurned boyfriend, Danny Momrak, down for murder.
But twenty years later William Wisting receives a puzzling letter. It suggests the wrong man was convicted for Tone’s death.
And the real murderer is still out there.
Wisting is quickly thrown into a terrifying race against time where he must find the sender, decipher this mysterious letter and catch the real killer – before they strike again . . .
I’m just going to put this out there, straight to the point – WHAT A BLOODY BOOK! It’s very rare for me to not even finish reading a book before I purchase another book from the series, but that is exactly what happened here.
‘A Question of Guilt’ is the fourth book in Wistings ‘Cold Case’ quartet, so if you’re one for reading books in order, then you might want to stary with ‘The Katharina Code’, however, I thought this installment read perfectly well on its own. Saying that, like I said above, I had purchased another book from the series before I had even finished reading ‘A Question of Guilt’. Honestly, it really was THAT good.
The storyline tells the tale of William Wisting, a Norwegian police detective, who ends up delving into a cold case or two, after being put onto their radar from an anonymous tip off. Because the book is about cold cases, the timeline does switch between years such as 1999, when the investigation was started originally, the present time, and other subsequent years in order to keep the flow of the book. Personally I found it easy to follow and pretty seamless.
I really didn’t know what to make of ‘A Question of Guilt’ to begin with, but it wasn’t long before I was sucked into the gritty storyline, the unanswered ‘whodunnit’, and the excitement of wondering what was waiting for me when I turned the page. I honestly thought this was a brilliant, brilliant novel, full of suspense, high energy moments, and a storyline that just kept on giving.
Without sounding too macabre, seeing as this book was in fact, a Nordic crime novel, I was gutted when ‘A Question of Guilt’ came to an end. I just wanted more! I recommend you put Jørn Lier Horst on your reading list PRONTO. I’m going to go and spend more money by buying the rest of the books!
Many thanks to the Hodder team for inviting me to take part in today’s social blast, and for providing me with a copy to review on my own free will.
THE BONES COME FIRST… When single mother Alex arrives at her new home with her two children, she can finally breathe easy. Pine Ridge, a rural community near the Australian coast, is beautiful, peaceful and most importantly, far away from the trauma she left behind.
NEXT, A DOLL… Then unexplained boxes start arriving at the house, and Alex’s teenage son begins to retreat into himself more than ever. As rumours and legends swirl through the community, Alex realises that Pine Ridge is guarding long-held secrets of its own.
AND THEN THE BLOOD. Something is lurking in the shadows, and Alex and her family are in grave danger. She must protect her children from the darkness at all costs – before it engulfs them whole…
The Shadow House intrigued me. From the get go there were questions being raised, such as why did they move, why did Pine Ridge have a ‘cult’ like feel to it, why were the other residents acting as though they were under some sort of spell.
Maybe that was just me who thought that, but it certainly gave me food for thought.
I have read many suspense/thrillers that have been slow burners, and I would have to say that The Shadow House falls under that category for sure. It took me a good while to get into the throws of the storyline as, even though the questions at the beginning gave me that all important hook, I found it a bit tricky to really grab the book by its horns. I’m not sure whether that was because I was a bit impatient, or whether the storylines full potential was a bit delayed.
With all that in mind, I enjoyed the concept of the novel, the drip feeding of eery moments, and the authors way of creating her characters. A thumbs up from me!
The Shadow House by Anna Downes, is published today in e-book/audio and can be purchased now fromAmazon
A boat washes up on the shore of a remote lighthouse keeper’s island. It holds a dead man – and a crying baby. The only two islanders, Tom and his wife Izzy, are about to make a devastating decision.
They break the rules and follow their hearts. What happens next will break yours. ____________________
What does TWG think?
If I were to describe this novel in laymen’s terms, I would say that it’s about a young girl who has an infatuation on a man who is nearly ten years her senior, and one who works on lighthouses on a secluded island, on his own, for a living. The young girl and the man build a life together which ends up breaking their hearts as well as the heart of someone they don’t even know exists…yet.
I will be extremely careful as to not spoil this book for anyone, so please forgive me if anything I say comes across like I am speaking in riddles!
I was blown away by the simplicity of the story in regards to Tom and Izzy’s relationship and where they built their life together, and I found the shell of the novel to be incredibly magnetic. Some may say that the novel was addictive, charming….words like that, and I would agree because it was. I couldn’t put it down, even though I knew in my heart of hearts that the storyline was going to end in a certain way. I saw it coming. The storyline gave hints that it was going to end in that way, however I had all my fingers crossed because I just wished it wouldn’t. Or did I?
I spoke about the shell of the story and how much I was drawn to that in particular. Now if I delve into the nitty gritty details, I had several dislikes. One of them being Izzy. Her immaturity really annoyed me. She never seemed to grow up, nor did she ever want to take ownership of her actions. I understand that things had happened to her which had made her view life differently, however, I felt as though she didn’t do herself any favours at all.
My second dislike was Tom’s ignorance. His job was to report anything that was wrong, right, or indifferent. He chose not to do that and wondered why things came crumbling down around him. Now I know that his relationship with Izzy was more important than his job, that said, I felt that it was quite selfish of Izzy to put Tom in the situation that she did. Also, if Tom felt so wrong about it, why didn’t he just go with his gut anyway? There were times where he couldn’t see further than his nose and it was a shame as, later in the story, his personality seemed to settle and I felt like I was seeing the real Tom. Too little too late perhaps.
For me personally, those dislikes weren’t make or break ones, because after all, it made the characters who they were, and the author clearly did a good job in creating them otherwise I wouldn’t have spent most of this review talking about two fictional people…but whatever!
It takes a lot to make me cry, however ‘The Light Between Oceans’ had me curled up in a ball sobbing my heart out because of what could have been and what was lost. This, in my eyes, was a life affirming, haunting, and tragically beautiful read.
As a huge fan of Jack Jordan and his books, I just had to say yes when I received the email asking me to be involved in the blog tour for National Storytelling Week. For those who don’t already know, Jack Jordan is a tutor at The Novelry. Here is a little bit more about them and what they do:
‘Offering support for beginner and established authors at any stage of their writing career, The Novelry will take writers from the very kernel of an idea through to a polished manuscript ready for literary agent submission. With mentoring from bestselling authors and editorial advice from leading industry professionals, The Novelry is the writing school recommended by leading literary agents.‘
Enough of my talking, time to welcome Jack Jordan to TWG!
When did you first realise that you were a storyteller? I’ve had a vivid imagination ever since I can remember, expressing myself through storytelling via various outlets, whether it be writing, acting, or childhood play. Still, it wasn’t until I was seventeen that I first sat down and wrote a full-length novel. I struggled with agoraphobia at the time, and it helped to escape through my old love of writing. It wasn’t until I reached the end of the story and realised that I had written 100k words of a novel that I had the eureka moment: I was a writer.
Do you remember when you came up with the first story idea that would ultimately go on to be published as a novel? How did you know this was the idea that was worth telling? I believe that story ideas, however creative or outlandish, resonate from something deep within the teller. My debut novel, Anything for Her, is about a mother covering up a tragic accident made by her child, and how far parents will go to protect their children. I’m drawn to these kinds of stories due to the strong bond I have with my mum, who raised me as a single parent. So when people ask me how they might begin to come up with a story idea themselves, I often recommend that they look closer to home and the personal dynamics at play because they so often tell us who we are.
Do you have a story of yours that you are most proud of? I have to admit, I have two! I love my novel, Do No Harm, which is out 26th May this year, due to the high stakes the hook brings, and how subliminally asks the reader what they would do in Dr Anna Jones’ shoes: a crime ring abducts the child of a leading heart surgeon and gives her an ultimatum: kill a patient on the operating table or never see her son again. I have a deep personal connection to my novel Night by Night, which is about institutionalised homophobia within the police force, inspired by victims of serial killer Stephen Port. I’m proud to have a novel that centres around LGBTQ+ issues and have it resonate with readers.
Why did you decide to write novels, as opposed to telling stories in another format? That’s an excellent question. When writing a novel, I find I have so much freedom to explore a character’s inner world, exploring who they are and how they grow when placed in a hostile or precarious environment. I like the long game of this: meeting the character on the first page and then slowly peeling back the layers of their humanity throughout the story, until we meet them at the end, often dramatically changed from who they were when the story started. I find that I get to explore this vividly with novel writing.
Why do you think stories are important? I think stories are important because they reflect who we are as a society and all the beautiful differences from culture to culture. Stories can educate on a profound level and open people’s eyes to experiences they might never have encountered or people they might never have met. They also serve as an escape from life’s woes and inspire us to grow and change – and dream. I often write novels with moral dilemmas at the heart of them, and I love this because it gives the reader the gift of testing their own moral compass: what would they do in the character’s shoes? It’s like a workout for the soul.
National Storytelling Week is all about the oral tradition of storytelling. Do you think it’s important to keep this tradition alive when we have so many other ways of consuming and telling stories these days? I believe that storytelling and expression, in whatever form, is the glue that holds us all together. Imagination and empathy bring people closer, especially during times of difficulty, whether it be global pandemics or politically challenging times. Whether it’s diving into a book to get lost in the pages or sitting around a campfire with friends exchanging ghost stories, storytelling brings out the humanity in us. It gives us ways to connect with each other in an often isolating world. I also believe storytelling allows us to explore who we are.
What do you think is different about writing a story down on paper as opposed to telling it out loud? I think there is a real beauty to telling stories aloud because it blends with the art of acting, giving a sense of performance to a story that can really bring it to life. Spoken storytelling also derails any literacy hurdles a story-lover might have and allow a person to enjoy the art in a way that works best for them. What I like about writing novels is the opportunity to delve into oneself. As the reader reads the story in their mind, they paint an abundance of pictures and ask themselves so many deeply personal questions, and the characters I create can often become deeply personal to them too.
How do you like to consume your stories? (Reading, listening, watching, etc.) My two favourite methods of consuming stories are reading and watching. I love devouring novels and getting lost in a television series, and I love seeing shows too, whether it be West End shows or stand-up comedy.
What is your favourite story of all time? The story that changed me as both a reader and a storyteller is Malorie Blackman’s novel Noughts and Crosses. I still remember that profound sense of shock I felt when I reached the last page as the last scene came to an end, and it completely transformed the stories I read and the ideas I had for my own thereafter. Whenever I pick up a book, I hope to have that same feeling, and when I write, I try my hardest to give the reader that same emotional reaction.
What do you hope readers will take away from your novels? As a reader, there is nothing more enjoyable for me than when I pick up a story I love and never want it to end. It’s that warm feeling in one’s chest, the buzz of excitement in one’s gut as we pick up the book again and think about the story when life draws us away. If I can give at least half of my readers this feeling, I know I’ve done my job well.
If you had one piece of advice for someone wanting to tell a story of their own, what would it be? Growing up, I had a poor education – I didn’t go to college or university, and I had to teach myself a lot of the basics of the English language. For many years, I subconsciously didn’t allow myself to fathom the career I have now because I didn’t think it was meant for people like me, nor a possibility open to me. Realising that storytelling is for everyone, regardless of education, background, ethnicity, sexuality or gender expression, freed me to tell the stories that would go on to be read by over one hundred thousand readers. So often, we hold ourselves back from what we want to achieve due to being led astray by other people’s ideas of the world and how it’s supposed to work. So I always suggest storytellers analyse the barriers they see before them and ask themselves if they too are partly the reason they are in the way. Storytelling is for everyone, and I think the first hurdle we have to jump is giving ourselves the permission to express ourselves and explore.
Thank you so much to Midas Pr, Jack Jordan and The Novelry for such an honest interview. I think Jack made a wonderful point regarding storytelling being for everyone, regardless of status, and I am so pleased that he found the confidence in himself to put pen to paper – I cannot recommend his books enough! Speaking of which, if you fancy getting your hands on any of Jack Jordan’s novels, check out the following links:
Huge thanks to Zoe for the blog tour invite and review copy.
War’s over, cherry-print dresses, parking above the city lights, swing dancing.
Beautiful, seventeen-year-old Violet lives in a perfect world. Everybody loves her.
In 2012, she’s still beautiful, charming, and surrounded by admirers.
Veronica “Ronni” Johnson, licensed practical nurse and aspiring writer, meets the captivating Violet in the assisted living facility where Violet requires no assistance, just lots of male attention. When she dies, she leaves Ronni a very generous bequest―only if Ronni completes a book about her life within one year. As she’s drawn into the world of young Violet, Ronni is mesmerized by life in a simpler time. It’s an irresistible journey filled with revelations, some of them about men Ronni knew as octogenarians at Fairfield Springs.
Struggling, insecure, flailing at the keyboard, Ronni juggles her patients, a new boyfriend, and a Samsonite factory of emotional baggage as she tries to craft a manuscript before her deadline.
But then the secrets start to emerge, some of them in person. And they don’t stop.
I do like reading a story that develops over time and, as much of an obvious statement that is, not all stories, in my opinion, do that. Luckily, (and thankfully), Beth Duke hit the ground running, gave me the hook and kept me under her indirect supervision until the end of the novel.
The historical elements surrounding Violets past were a joy to read, as well as also being an emotive roller coaster due to her friendship with Veronica. Violet left a bit of a imprint on my heart, despite only being ‘there’ for a small amount of time. Does it sound daft if I say that I felt it when when died?
Overall I enjoyed the story telling and Beth Duke’s fragile way with words. This story ticked multiple boxes for me, so I cannot complain at all. Nicely done.
ABOUT BETH DUKE
Beth Dial Duke is an Amazon #1 Best Selling author and the recipient of short story awards on two continents.She is eyeing the other five.Beth lives in the mountains of her native Alabama with her husband, one real dog, and one ornamental dog.She loves reading, writing, and not arithmetic. Baking is a hobby, with semi-pro cupcakes and amateur macarons a specialty.And puns–the worse, the better.
Travel is her other favorite thing, along with joining book groups for discussion. If a personal visit isn’t possible, she is fluent in Zoom.
Those who know me well, know that I ADORE jewellery and, since becoming a mum, I have always wanted a necklace that had a picture drawn by my daughter on it. After extensive Google searches and not being able to find ‘IT’, BelleFever contacted me regarding a collaboration and of course I jumped at the chance! Of course I wasn’t expecting to find exactly what I wanted, but finding that is exactly what happened and the process could not have been any simpler.
BelleFever are an Australian based company with additional bases in the UK, New Zealand, and USA. Each of their pieces are hand painted with enamel to ensure the inscriptions inscriptions designs stay looking as best as they can be. Also, as I found out, if you require an image put on an item, they send you a mock up design so you can approve it before it gets sent to the designer to be made. Their attention to detail and customer service is second to none.
Now I am sure you are all wanting to see my beautiful necklace that I received, yes?
How gorgeous is that! The picture is so special to me as my little girl, Eva, drew it when she was only 4 years old. I will forever hold this piece close to my heart, literally, and I cannot thank BelleFever enough for the gift.
Now, if you like the look of my necklace and want to see what you can get your hands on, head over to www.bellefever.com.au. Do bear in mind delivery times, but i only had to wait a couple weeks! If something catches your eye, use code KAISHA15 to get 15% off your order – how good is that!
Thanks again to BelleFever, and happy shopping to you all!
Many thanks to Zoe and Spellbound Books for having me on Rebecca Mascull’s blog tour today, where I will be sharing an extract from her new novel, ‘The Seamstress of Warsaw’. But first, here is a little bit more about the book:
1940 London A man learns a shocking truth about his past. Warsaw A mother writes a diary as the ghetto walls go up. From the bombed streets of London, to occupied Warsaw, to the Polish forests bristling with partisans, will their paths cross? Will their pasts be reconciled? And will they survive the deadly assaults on their freedom and their lives?
THE SEAMSTRESS OF WARSAW is a tale of endurance and loss, family and blood, stories and histories, that questions the nature of who we are and where we are going, when the road ahead is burning.
It was a beautiful Saturday, hot sun and pure sky. At three o’clock, Daniel was cycling back from the library when the air-raid siren sounded. Most in the street ignored it. Then came the heavy hum of bombers. He saw a couple of plane spotters on the roof of the nearest building, pointing into the air and blasting on their whistles. The drone became a roar and the air itself trembled.
He heard voices call to each other and the mad barking of dogs. The planes came. Leaping dots of light thickened to black spots. Dark rows filled the sky, flying in straight lines. People in the street were saying, are they British? No, they’re German, someone said. Our boys fly in Vs. How did they get through, some asked? What’s happened to the RAF, the ack-ack guns? People were shaking their fists at them, one man brandished a penknife. People were just standing and staring, hardly anyone was running. There were over a hundred planes.
Bombs began to fall. Daniel actually saw them drop. People ran and scrambled for cover, behind or beneath or beside anything they could find – a milk cart, a doorway, a policeman – more for comfort than safety. Daniel threw his bike against a wall and bolted to a shelter, filled with men and women and kids and the hot, rank smell of sweat and panic. The children whimpered and wept and everyone flinched at the explosions and clanging fire bells. Once the walls shook, the children screamed and Daniel saw huge black spiders crawl out of the cracks. People talked, about the terror of the shelter getting bombed and of being buried alive. One man said, “If I get it, I hope I cop a nice clean hit and go out like a light.” This made the children cry more and the mothers scolded him. A man appeared at the door and sat down. He wiped his brow and covered his face with shaking hands. A woman tried to soothe him, others ignored him, turned away even, as if he would infect them with fear. He spoke: “This is it! No more Phoney War! The big attack. They’re saying it’ll be every night from now on.” The mothers shushed him. A girl cried and two boys whispered. They were in there for two hours. Silently Daniel swore, he’d never to go into a shelter again.
When the All Clear sounded, it was curious how quickly they all returned to normal. Filing out of the shelter, the men argued about politics and the women about what was for tea. In the street, there were masses of people going to and fro. The air felt hot to breathe. Daniel’s nose filled with the tang of cordite. The streets were a mess of soot, brick and broken glass. The sky was tinged with red, with billowing smoke blotting out the sun. The air was alive with sparks and everyone patted them out on their clothes. There were families with cars loading up offspring and bags and driving off at speed, and people were saying, “The docks are on fire!” One man said, “Why did the poor have to get it in the neck? Why didn’t they bomb bloody Mayfair?” He watched young people running about to see the fires, rushing towards the docks. He found his bike and dashed down there. A terrible inferno – the great dock warehouses consumed by flames flaring high in the sky, furious black and orange. Dozens of firemen were working their legs off.
I am absolutely delighted to be sharing my thoughts on Louise Candlish’s latest novel, The Heights, as part of the blog tour. My thanks go to Jess and the Simon and Schuster team for asking me to be involved and for supplying a proof for me to read and review honestly.
He thinks he’s safe up there. But he’ll never be safe from you.
The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among the warehouses of Tower Bridge, its roof terrace so discreet you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren’t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there – a man you’d recognize anywhere. He’s older now and his appearance has subtly changed, but it’s definitely him.
Which makes no sense at all since you know he has been dead for over two years. You know this for a fact.
Because you’re the one who killed him. It’s time to confess what we did up there.
‘Kieran Watts has been dead for over two years when I see him standing on the roof of a building in Shad Thames…’
What does The Writing Garnet think?
When I see people say that a book is ‘unputdownable’, I think to myself that they’re fibbing because surely you would put a book down to pee and what not. How could a book be read cover to cover without putting it down? My answer to that, after reading ‘The Heights’ and only putting it down once to grab a chocolate bar and then pick it up again, is ‘very easily’. Heck, my 2 second put down to grab an aero bar doesn’t even count as putting it down as the cover was still warm from my hands!
After I had finished reading the book that literally took me 2 hours to read, my daughter asked me how many stars I would give it, and, without missing a beat, a response of ‘five stars’ flew out of my mouth. There was no doubt in my mind at all as ‘The Heights’ had the marital uncertainty, the troublesome pasts of the main characters, secrets that were too damaging to reveal regardless of how long had passed. The story had thrill, it had a chase, suspense, characters which you just wanted to dislike yet weirdly liked and visa versa.
I loved the way the author let’s us see both sides of the situation from two characters point of view, allowing readers to work out on their own, indirectly, which was bad cop and which was good cop. Which character was the most trustworthy? Which character was seeing things clearer than the other? Which one wasn’t being honest with themselves? The storyline was a well crafted, well oiled piece of ‘machinery’ so to speak as it hopped from different events flawlessly, without missing a single beat or filling the storyline with unnecessary padding. Every single word in this book had its place and played a vital role in bringing ‘The Heights’ to life.
If you hadn’t guessed already, Louise Candlish’s novel blew my mind and reignited my love for reading. Its books like this, written by authors as talented as Candlish, that make me excited about the written word. If youre after a new book to read, I highly suggest you buy and devour this one as yes, it really is and un-putdownable read.