Today I’m joining in with the book blitz organised by Love Book Tours for this debut novel.
She’s not what she appears to be.
He’s got secrets of his own.
But someone has to lead this dance.
There is a story behind every face you walk by on the street, or that you bump into in life. But what about your own story?
Dan never thought about himself as being different, and the world would agree with him. Just a regular nice guy who works in a regular nice job in London.
His nice and normal London life in the hectic world of sales turns upside down when he meets the captivating Mary at a work event. Deep down he knew there was more to life than what he was doing. He had an inkling that things with him could maybe be a little different. That a life of drudgery wasn’t what he’d signed up for.
But there seems to be a lot more to Mary than meets the eye. And with her guidance and through their relationship, he learns things he never even knew about himself.
But Mary is not the only one with a secret. As the dance speeds up, the games begin, and the
stakes are raised.
And so begins the white knuckle dance of discovery, risk, and power.
But can there really be a winner in that deadly dance of theirs?
Andrew Cockburn is a Scottish writer who has lived in Asia for many years. As an anthropologist and sociologist by training Andrew has developed a keen interest in people, society and culture. Andrew’s debut novel, White Knuckle Dance, explores relationships and social norms though the lens of power and knowledge.
Thank you to Corvus Books for a copy of the legacy by Caroline Bond to read and review. The book was published last week in the UK. Here is my mini review.
A death in the family rarely brings out the best in people – even the deceased
Jonathan Coulter planned for his death meticulously, leaving nothing to chance. His will states that his three adult children must decide between them how to dispose of his estate. If they cannot come together over their inheritance, then they risk losing it.
But Liv, Noah and Chloe never agree on anything. And now, with only one weekend to overcome their rivalry, tensions begin to rise.
Why has Jonathan left the decision to them? And why has he made no mention of his new partner, Megan, or the children’s mother, Eloise? If he wanted to teach them a lesson from beyond the grave, what is it? And can the siblings put their differences aside for long enough to learn it?
A powerful novel about love and loss, and what we truly pass on to our children.
As a Business Law graduate, I was quickly drawn into this story. Jonathan knew he was dying and has asked his three children to make the decision how to split his sizeable estate. The only bequest they cannot change is a gift to the carer who helped look after him in his final months.
So how will the three adult children deal with this, they are all at very different stages of their lives, and there are secrets to be revealed too, which may change how the reader thinks and feels. There is also their mother, the ex-Mrs Coulter and his partner of over 5 years, Megan to consider too.
I enjoyed this book, which looks at how difficult it can be for families, especially families which have gone through the parents getting divorced, to consider what is fair and equitable. Would this help them remember their dad more fondly, mend their sibling issues or was this a bad decision by Jonathan?
This is a non spoiler review, so I won’t give away any hints about the ending, except to say that I enjoyed it. A thought provoking read for parents and their adult children.
Thank you to Anne of Random Things Tours for the invitation to join the blog tour. Thank you to Jacaranda Books for a stunning hardback copy of the book to read and review.
A Book of Secrets tells the story of a West African girl hunting for her lost brother through an Elizabethanunderworld of spies, plots and secret Catholic printing presses.
Susan Charlewood is taken from Ghana (then known as Guinea) as a baby. Brought to England, she grows up as maidservant in a wealthy Catholic household. Living under a Protestant Queen in late 16th Century England, the family risk imprisonment or death unless they keep their faith hidden.
When her mistress dies Susan is married off to a London printer who is deeply involved in the Catholic resistance. She finds herself embroiled in political and religious intrigue, all while trying to find her lost brother and discover the truth about her origins.
The book explores the perils of voicing dissent in a state that demands outward conformity, at a time when England is taking its first steps into the long shadow of transatlantic slavery and old certainties about the shape of the universe itself are crumbling.
A Book of Secrets gives a striking new perspective on the era and lets one of the thousands of lost Elizabethan voices, speak out loud.
This stunning historical fiction novel features a strong young woman. Taken from her birth country as a baby, Susan initially grows up as the companion for a young lady before tragic events change the course of her life again. Having been secretly brought up in the Catholic faith, she finds herself in London, helping a printer produce illegal documents supporting the Catholic faith, whilst searching for the brother she thought had died years earlier.
This book is beautifully written, bringing to life an era where secrets were kept to protect lives and religious beliefs. Quickly I was hooked into the story, as Susan dealt with the many challenges in her life. Having grown up in a manor house in the country, we find out how different living in London is for her.
Susan has to keep adapting to her different roles and to deal with her losses. Having the house searched for ‘illegal’ printing, the threat of torture and public execution and having to pretend to follow a different religion were a daily occurrence for Susan.
This is a no spoiler review, so I’m going to avoid discussing any more of the story. However, this is a book I’m happy to recommend to readers who enjoy historical fiction (although you may prefer to skip a couple of pages about the public executions if you are squeamish). This is a cracking debut novel, full of detail and emotion and I look forward to reading more from Kate Morrison in the future.
Kate Morrison is a British debut novelist. She studied English Literature at New Hall College, Cambridge and worked as a journalist and a press officer. Morrison was mentored by Ros Barber, the award-winning author of The Marlowe Papers and Devotion. She was a visiting scholar with the Book, Text, and Place 1500-1700 Research Centre at Bath Spa University. Kate Morrison currently lives in West Sussex with her family.
Kate Morrison is available for interviews, features and events across the UK
Contact Jazzmine Breary: Jazzmine@jacarandabooksartmusic.co.uk or Tiffany Cook: email@example.com
The Stonebridge Regatta is looming. The town’s annual face-off against neighbouring Meadowfield is usually a weekend filled with sunshine, laughter and camaraderie.
This year is different.
A week before the race, the body of Stonebridge team captain Matthew Henderson is found dead in the water. The police file his passing as a tragic accident however, his grieving widow disagrees and suspects foul play is involved. She enlists the help of Adam and Colin, the town’s amateur (self-proclaimed) private detectives to unearth the truth.
Did Matthew simply slip and fall into the water, or is there more to his death below the surface?
Thank you to Meggy for the opportunity to read and review this book ahead of publication day. An email arrived on Friday evening to invite me to download a digital copy and by Saturday afternoon I was curled up with the book on my Kindle.
I enjoyed catching up with Adam and Colin, in a story set a few weeks after the conclusion of The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello. I don’t believe you would need to have read book one first to enjoy this one (but I enjoyed it and I’m happy to recommend it). Life has moved on for Adam, he has set himself up in business. However that doesn’t stop him being interested when the widow of Matthew asks him to investigate the ‘accidental’ death.
I grew up reading the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books, and have enjoyed reading ‘amateur detective’ books ever since. I’m enjoying this series, with the friendship between Adam and Colin at the centre. There were plenty of suspects in this book and I enjoyed how the story progressed. Both Adam and Colin found themselves in some tricky situations. Was it murder or an accident? Did they solve the mystery? You will need to buy the book to find out…
Originally hailing from the north coast of Northern Ireland and now residing in South Manchester, Chris McDonald has always been a reader. At primary school, The Hardy Boys inspired his love of adventure before his reading world was opened up by Chuck Palahniuk and the gritty world of crime. A Wash of Black is his first attempt at writing a book. He came up with the initial idea whilst feeding his baby in the middle of the night, which may not be the best thing to admit, considering the content. He is a fan of 5-a-side football, heavy metal and dogs. Whispers in the Dark is the second installment in the DI Erika Piper series, and Chris is currently working on his latest series, The Stonebridge Mysteries, published by Red Dog Press in 2021.
Thanks to Sarah Hardy of Bookouture Books-on-Tour for the invitation to read and review the second book in the Epiphany Bloom mystery series. Regular readers of my blog may remember that I reviewed The Kensington Kidnap in December 2021 (see review at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/12/04/the-kensington-kidnap-by-katie-gayle/). This book was published in the UK yesterday by Bookouture, who kindly supplied a digital review copy for me to read and review.
Epiphany ‘Pip’ Bloom, would-be detective and London’s unluckiest woman, finds herself in a real costume drama when she unearths a theft at a fashion museum.
The missing dress is a proper piece of Hollywood history, worth a fortune. And as Pip investigates, she finds the museum staff all had reasons to want the garment gone. From fancy boutiques to sketchy back alleys, Pip discovers the fashion world is not all glitz and glamour as she hunts down her prize.
As if she doesn’t have enough on her plate, Pip also has her growing feelings for her housemate Tim to contend with, a family of cats to feed and her mother keeps phoning about a shipment of llamas arriving any day now from South America.
But there’s no time for distractions because Pip’s not the only one after the dress. And for the most dedicated collectors, a piece like this is worth any price – even murder…
A laugh-out-loud, light-hearted cozy mystery for fans of M.C. Beaton, T.E. Kinsey and Joanne Fluke, that will have you reading late into the night.
After over two months in lockdown in the winter in the UK, it was good to meet Pip again. When we left her at the end of The Kensington Kidnap, she was working for Boston Investigations. However, in true Pip style, she is now looking for another job so that she can pay her rent and continue living with her flatmate Tim.
As the synopsis above mentions, this time Pip finds herself looking for a missing iconic dress with a number of suspects to chat to and a suspicious death. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it is a cosy mystery with comedy moments, as we hear from Pip’s mother and find out more about why Pip has been asked to leave previous jobs.
Pip’s sister makes a reappearance, with her mixed up phrases, as do other characters from the Kensington Kidnap. However it would be possible to read this without reading book one because they are separate mysteries.
This book was a fun read, escapism from the real world and we all need that at the moment. Happy to recommend to all fans of cosy mysteries and amateur detective novels. Available in ebook and paperback formats now.
Katie Gayle is the writing partnership of best-selling South African writers, Kate Sidley and Gail Schimmel. Kate and Gail have, between them, written over ten books of various genres, but with Katie Gayle, they both make their debut in the cozy mystery genre. Both Gail and Kate live in Johannesburg, with husbands, children, dogs and cats. Unlike their sleuth Epiphany Bloom, neither of them have ever stolen a cat from the vet.
Thank you to Caitlin Raynor at Headline Books for a stunning hardback copy of book one of a new historical fiction series about Daniel Pursglove. I haven’t read any of Karen Maitland’s books before but I must admit that the setting of Bristol, just down the M4 from home, found me putting this to the top of my reading pile. The hardback book will be published tomorrow, 1st April, in the UK and is also available as an ebook and audiobook.
1606. A year to the day that men were executed for conspiring to blow up Parliament, a towering wave devastates the Bristol Channel. Some proclaim God’s vengeance. Others seek to take advantage.
In London, Daniel Pursglove lies in prison waiting to die. But Charles FitzAlan, close adviser to King James I, has a job in mind that will free a man of Daniel’s skill from the horrors of Newgate. If he succeeds.
For Bristol is a hotbed of Catholic spies, and where better for the lone conspirator who evaded arrest, one Spero Pettingar, to gather allies than in the chaos of a drowned city? Daniel journeys there to investigate FitzAlan’s lead, but soon finds himself at the heart of a dark Jesuit conspiracy – and in pursuit of a killer.
As regular readers of my blog know, I do read a mixture of genres including historical fiction, although the majority of the books I read tend to be modern history, i.e from 1900. This novel took me much further back in time, to the England ruled by King James I, after many years of Elizabethan rule.
Having studied the Tudors many years ago, I was aware of how Catholicism had been banned and the new Church of England established by King Henry VIII. This book looks at how the fear of Catholic spies corrupting the people results in Daniel Pursglove being sent on a secret mission to Bristol, a city recently devastated by a huge tidal wave.
KJ Maitland’s writing is stunning, and brings the era to life well (or slightly too well if you don’t enjoy reading about gruesome deaths). I found myself caught up in the story within the first few pages and I was pleased to have the time to continue reading uninterrupted whilst other members of my family watched an international football match on the TV.
Life in 1606 sounded dark and unpleasant, with danger lurking on every corner. Fear and superstition, disease and malnutrition, and now a deadly tidal wave, had devastated the port of Bristol. Would this be the perfect place for Catholic spies to hide?
Daniel has been given a mission but quickly finds himself trying to solve a murder mystery which may be linked to his mission. We start to find out more about why Daniel had found himself in prison at the start of the book and what skills have kept him alive.
There are some heartbreaking scenes in this book, including the mob attacking the family who had the only house left standing in one street. We hear about fake news now, but this story shows how this isn’t a new problem.
I enjoyed the historical details and the mysteries involved, and I hope that we get to meet Daniel Pursglove in future books by KJ Maitland.
Karen Maitland, who also writes as KJ Maitland, lives in the beautiful county of Devon and has a doctorate in psycholinguists.
Her new historical thriller, ‘The Drowned City’, is set in the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot, in 1606 and is the first of a new series featuring the character, Daniel Pursglove. For this Jacobean series, Karen is writing under the name of KJ Maitland,
Her first stand alone medieval thriller was ‘Company of Liars’, was set at the time of the Black Death in 1348. This was followed by The Owl Killers’, ‘The Gallows Curse’, ‘Falcons of Fire and Ice’, ‘The Vanishing Witch’, ‘The Raven’s Head,’ ‘The Plague Charmer’ and ‘A Gathering of Ghosts’, published by Penguin and Headline.
Karen is also one of six historical crime writers known as the Medieval Murderers – Philip Gooden, Susannah Gregory, Michael Jecks, Bernard Knight and Ian Morson – who together write joint murder-mystery novel, including ‘The Sacred Stone’, ‘Hill of Bones’ and ‘The First Murder’, ‘The False Virgin’ and ‘The Deadliest Sin’ published by Simon & Schuster.
Today I’m sharing a spotlight post for The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd published by Tinder Press on the 18th of March.
Ana is born in Galilee at a time when women are seen as possessions, only leaving their fathers’ homes to marry. Ana longs to control her destiny. Taught to read despite her mother’s misgivings, she wants to be a writer and to find her own voice. A voice that will speak for the silenced women around her.
Betrothed to an elderly widower, Ana almost despairs. But an encounter with a charismatic young carpenter in Nazareth awakens new longings in her, and a different future opens up.
Yet this is not a simple love story. Ana’s journey will bring both joy and tragedy, but it will also be enriched by the female friendships she makes along the way.
The Book of Longings is an exquisite tale of dreams and desire, and of the power of women to change the world.
Please check out the blog reviews shared by the fabulous book bloggers listed above taking part in the Random Things Tours blog tour.
Sue Monk Kidd is the author of The Secret Life of Bees, one of the most beloved novels of the 21st century. It spent 2.5 years on the New York Times bestseller list, and has sold over 8 million copies worldwide. It was long-listed for the Orange Prize (now the Women’s Prize for Fiction) and made into a film starring Sophie Okonedo, Alicia Keys and Jennifer Hudson. Sue’s subsequent novels, The Mermaid Chair, The Invention of Wings and now The Book of Longings, were all New York Times bestsellers.
Sue is also the author of several non-fiction books including the New York Times bestseller Travelling with Pomegranates, co-written with her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor. Sue lives in Florida.
Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to turn the blog tour for this new historical fiction fiction book. Thank you to Harper Collins for a digital proof copy via NetGalley to read and review.
1940. Three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes.
Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets. Imperious self-made Mab, product of east-end London poverty, works the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband. Awkward local girl Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles beneath her shy exterior.
1947. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter–the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum. A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together…
As the nation prepares for the royal wedding they must race against the clock to save one of their own.
This is the first book I’ve read by Kate Quinn and I will be looking to read more of her books in the future. As a regular reader of historical fiction books, I loved the sound of the synopsis of this book, especially the setting of Bletchley Park.
As the book starts, we find out about how three girls from three very different backgrounds who came to work at Bletchley Park. We also discover that one of them is locked away in an asylum and she needs help to escape and to find out how the real traitor was.
This book features many stories within the main story. Osla is a debutante, battling to prove how clever she is as a linguist. Mab is determined to put her past behind her and find a way out of poverty. Beth needs to escape her bully of a mother and use her problem solving skills to help the war effort. The story covers romance, aspirations, a literary club, dedication to work, heartbreak, mental health and a traitor in their midst.
The book is full of historical detail and emotions, the highs of cracking a code and the lows of losing a loved one. At the end of the book the author explains how she based the book on real people, determined to ensure that this part of the war effort isn’t lost behind secrecy laws.
Although the workers at Bletchley Park were in less physical danger than the soldiers, sailors and aircrew during the war, the book reminds us about how their determination to succeed led to mental health issues for many of the workers, and a lifelong fear about betraying secrets.
This was an enjoyable read and a book I didn’t want to put down, an excellent way to spend a lockdown weekend. Happy to recommend to readers of historical fiction and/or readers of how women helped win the war.
Kate Quinn is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple languages. She and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia.
Thank you to Simon for a digital review copy of his book to read and review in return for an honest review.
Dreamers, singers, talkers and killers; they can dazzle with their beauty or their talent or their unmitigated evil, but inside themselves they are as frail and desperate as the rest of us. But can you see them? Can you unravel the truth? These are people you know, but not as you know them. Peel back the mask and see.
Backstories is a unique collection of stories each told from the point of view of a famous, (or notorious) person at a pivotal moment in their lives. The writing is literary but accessible and the voices vividly real. The settings are mostly 60’s and 70’s UK and USA, and the driving themes are inclusion, social justice and of course, nostalgia – but the real key to these stories is that the protagonists’ identities are withheld. This means that your job is to find them, leading to that Eureka moment when you realise who’s mind you’ve been inhabiting for the last twenty minutes.
Initially the stunning cover design and the synopsis grabbed my interest in this book. I was also encouraged to read this by the review by one of my favourite book bloggers, Linda Hill.
This is a short book, full of short stories, each containing a ‘famous’ or ‘infamous’ person who isn’t identified to the reader at the beginning of the story. As each story evolved, we were taken to different locations and different periods in time, almost as if we had hopped on the TARDIS but without Doctor Who to guide us. Simon’s use of language brought each time period and person to life vividly.
Some identities I guessed before the end of the story, some I discovered due to the very last sentence of the story and a couple I had to resort to Google for.
I enjoyed the majority of stories, but did find a couple of them more dark than the sort of story I would normally choose to read. Definitely not one to share with a young teenager would be my advice.
It is also important to point out that Simon is donating some of his profits from the sale of the book to charity. He is sharing 30% of all profits from Backstories between Stop Hate UK, The North-East Autism Society and Friends of the Earth.
Simon Van der Velde has worked variously as a barman, labourer, teacher, caterer and lawyer, as well as travelling throughout Europe and South America collecting characters and insights for his award-winning stories. Since completing a creative writing M.A. (with distinction)
in 2010, Simon’s work has won and been shortlisted for numerous awards including; The Yeovil Literary Prize, (twice), The Wasafiri New Writing Prize, The Luke Bitmead Bursary, The Frome Short- story Prize, The Harry Bowling Prize, The Henshaw Press Short Story Competition and The National Association of Writers’ Groups Open Competition – establishing him as one of the UK’s foremost short-story writers.
Simon now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, with his wife, Nicola, their labradoodle, Barney and two tyrannical children.
Thank you to Anne of Random Things Tours for the invitation to join the blog tour. Thank you to Harper Voyager for a copy of the book to read and review.
A new dark fairy tale set against a Victorian backdrop full of lace and smoke- perfect for fans of Laura Purcell and Erin Morgenstern.
Once upon a time Ella had wished for more than her life as a lowly maid. Now forced to work hard under the unforgiving, lecherous gaze of the man she once called stepfather, Ella’s only refuge is in the books she reads by candlelight, secreted away in the library she isn’t permitted to enter.
One night, while among her beloved books, a fairy godmother makes her an offer that will change her life: seven wishes, hers to make as she pleases.
But each wish comes at a price and Ella must decide whether it’s one she’s willing to pay…
Melding history and fairy tale, this is a dark and intelligent new take on the story of Cinderella that looks at women, the price of labour and the cost of hope.
Having seen love for this new book from Dan Bassett, the Waterstones reviewer, and having recently enjoyed the latest Laura Purcell novel, I was pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this book.
Initially I felt very sad for Ella, it reminded me of the sadness I felt for Sara Crewe when reading the Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Ella had been a ward of Mrs Pembroke and had been given the opportunity to become socially mobile, to leave behind poverty and become a lady. But then her ward had died, she was relegated to a domestic servant and had to keep away from the unwanted attentions of Mr Pembroke.
Ella loved reading and would escape to the library at night to escape from the real world into a book (as many readers are doing at the moment, in the middle of a global pandemic). However, one night a twisted version of the Fairy Godmother appears and offers her the opportunity to make seven wishes, with the understanding that on the granting of the seventh wish, her soul will belong to the Godmother.
Ella now has the opportunity to improve the lives of her friends and herself, but what are the wishes she will choose and how will she deal with the consequences? The story becomes even darker and I found myself wondering if Ella still deserved sympathy.
I enjoyed the writing of this book, there is a rollercoaster of a journey for Ella and the other residents of the house as Ella starts to make her wishes. If you enjoy twisted fairy tales and Victorian Gothic novels, then I’m happy to recommend this book to you.
JJA Harwood is an author, editor and blogger. She grew up in Norfolk, read History at the University of Warwick and eventually found her way to London, which is still something of a shock for somebody used to so many fields. When not writing, she can be found learning languages, cooking with more enthusiasm than skill, wandering off into clearly haunted houses and making friends with stray cats.