#bookblitz White Knuckle Dance by Andrew Cockburn #lovebookstours

Today I’m joining in with the book blitz organised by Love Book Tours for this debut novel.

Blurb:

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?

Author Bio

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.

Amazonhttps://amzn.to/3ckc3mV

Goodreadshttps://bit.ly/3rECUk2

The Legacy by Caroline Bond

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.

Synopsis:

 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.

My thoughts:

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.

A Book of Secrets by Kate Morrison

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.

Synopsis:

A Book of Secrets tells the story of a West African girl hunting for her lost brother through an Elizabethan underworld 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.

My thoughts:

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.

Author Bio:

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: tiffany@jacarandabookartmusic.co.uk

Dead in the Water by Chris McDonald #TheStonebridgeMysteries2

I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for the second book in the Stonebridge Mysteries series, published on 27th March 2021. I recently read and reviewed the first book in the series on this blog (https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2021/01/19/the-curious-dispatch-of-daniel-costello-by-chris-mcdonald-thestonebridgemysteries/). Thank you to Meggy of Red Dog Press for the invitation and digital proof copy.

Synopsis: 

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?

Buy Links: 

Amazon: mybook.to/DITW

The Red Dog Shop: https://www.reddogpress.co.uk/product-page/dead-in-the-water

My thoughts:

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…

Author Bio:

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. 

The Museum Murder by Katie Gayle

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.

Synopsis:

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.

My thoughts:

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.

Author Bio:

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.

https://www.facebook.com/KatieGayleWriter
https://twitter.com/KatieGayleBooks

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://bit.ly/3chaM1l

Apple: https://apple.co/3qzldlV

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3mTY1MV

Google: https://bit.ly/33QqdsO

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

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.

Synopsis:

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.

My thoughts:

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.

Author Bio:

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.

Backstories by Simon Van Der Velde

Thank you to Simon for a digital review copy of his book to read and review in return for an honest review.

Synopsis:

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.

Purchase Links:

http://bit.ly/Goodreads-Backstories
http://bit.ly/Amazon-Backstories
http://bit.ly/BookBub-Backstories

My thoughts:

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.

Author Bio:

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.

www.simonvandervelde.com

The Shadow In The Glass by JJA Harwood

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.

Synopsis:

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.

My thoughts:

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.

Author Bio:

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.

THE SHADOW IN THE GLASS is her debut novel.

Behind Closed Doors by Catherine Alliott

Today I’m pleased to be sharing my thoughts about Behind Closed Doors as part of the Michael Joseph Books blog tour. Thank you to Sriya Varadharajan for a proof copy to read and review.

Synopsis:

From the outside, anyone would think that Lucy Palmer has it all: loving children, a dashing husband and a gorgeous home.

But when her marriage to Michael comes to an abrupt and unexpected end, her life is turned upside down in a flash.

As the truth of her marriage threatens to surface, Lucy seizes the opportunity to swap her house in London – and the stories it hides – for a rural escape to her parents’ farmhouse in the Chilterns.

But Lucy gets more than she bargained for when she moves back to her childhood home, especially when it throws her into the path of an old flame.

Coming face-to-face with her mistakes, Lucy is forced to confront the secrets she’s been keeping from herself and those she loves.

Is she ready to let someone in? Or will she leave the door to her past firmly closed . . .

My thoughts:

This is my first time reading a book by Catherine Alliott. When I shared the photo of the proof copy on social media, I had a lot of people commenting about how they were looking forward to reading it because they love her books.

Despite the pretty cover, this isn’t an easy read due to the topics covered. There is humour involved, mainly when Lucy’s parents are enjoying themselves with their elderly friends and copious amounts of alcohol. However, Lucy has been living a difficult life, hiding from a fatal car accident when young and dealing with a controlling husband, who appeared to outsiders to be much nicer than he actually is. As the story unfolds, we discover how his children were also more aware of the situation than their mother believed.

Lucy needs to move forward with her life after her marriage ends, but first she needs to deal with her past, to become a free woman, to be able to do what she enjoys with fear or requiring permission from others. She has been a writer for many years, sharing her own personal story as part of the characters in her books. Can she now write her own positive future or will a neighbour send her to prison? As a non spoiler review, I’m not going to tell you what happens but I’m happy to recommend the book for a thought provoking read.

Author Bio:

Catherine Alliott is the author of fifteen bestselling novels including About Last Night, My Husband Next Door, A Rural Affair, One Day in May, The Secret Life of Evie Hamilton, and Wish You Were Here. She lives with her family in Hertfordshire.

Trust Me by T M Logan

Thank you to Zaffre Books and Readers First for a copy of Trust Me by T M Logan. This is the first book I’ve read by T M Logan although I do have some of his previous books on my Kindle writing to be read.

Synopsis:

Two strangers, a child, and a split second choice that will change everything . . .

Ellen was just trying to help a stranger. That was how it started: giving a few minutes respite to a flustered young mother sitting opposite her on the train. A few minutes holding her baby while the mother makes an urgent call. The weight of the child in her arms making Ellen’s heart ache for what she can never have.

Five minutes pass.
Ten.

The train pulls into a station and Ellen is stunned to see the mother hurrying away down the platform, without looking back. Leaving her baby behind. Ellen is about to raise the alarm when she discovers a note in the baby’s bag, three desperate lines scrawled hastily on a piece of paper:

Please protect Mia
Don’t trust the police
Don’t trust anyone

Why would a mother abandon her child to a stranger? Ellen is about to discover that the baby in her arms might hold the key to an unspeakable crime. And doing the right thing might just cost her everything . . . 

My thoughts:

Having read the opening chapters on Readers First last month, I was thrilled to receive a copy to be able to continue the story. I raced through this book, helped by having a midweek day off and staying up past my bedtime.

The book is called Trust Me and very quickly I didn’t feel I could trust anyone. We are slowly introduced to the main characters as little pieces of information are drip fed to the reader. The story is full of intrigue and fear. Can Ellen protect Mia from evil? I enjoyed the pace of the story and found myself unable to put it down.

This is a non spoiler review, so I’m not going to ruin the story for you. To find out more about Ellen’s challenge, grab a copy for yourself and enjoy the entertaining drama.