The Blitz Detective by Mike Hollow

I’m pleased to share my review for The Blitz Detective by Mike Hollow, published by Allison and Busby last week. Thank you to the publisher for a digital review copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. This book was published previously as Direct Hit (The Blitz Detective).

Synopsis:

Saturday 7th September, 1940.

The sun is shining, and in the midst of the good weather Londoners could be mistaken for forgetting their country was at war – until the familiar wail of the air-raid sirens heralds an enemy attack. The Blitz has started, and normal life has abruptly ended – but crime has not.

That night a man’s body is discovered in an unmarked van in the back streets of West Ham. When Detective Inspector John Jago is called to the scene, he recognises the victim: local Justice of the Peace, Charles Villiers. The death looks suspicious, but then a German bomb obliterates all evidence. War or no war, murder is still murder, and it’s Jago’s job to find the truth.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this crime fiction / historical fiction book. I must admit that I was initially drawn to the book after reading the synopsis because the victim’s surname is Villiers and I am employed by the social mobility charity Villiers Park Educational Trust.

An older detective is working with a young detective to solve a murder of a local businessman and magistrate, complicated by the evidence being destroyed by a German bomb. I enjoyed the criminal investigations and also the historical details – 1940’s London was brought to life.

I look forward to reading more of the books featuring DI Jago – a number of the other books by Mike Hollow in the series are being republished by Allison and Busby over the next few months.

Mike Hollow information (from Goodreads):

I first got into print when I was eleven. A boys’ comic published a feeble limerick I’d sent them and paid me five shillings, a fat sum at that age. But the postal order was nothing compared with seeing my words in print.

After that I kept writing – teenage poems for a late-1960s “underground magazine”, then grown-up poems, and later a happy mix of copywriting, journalism, editing and translating. All ways of getting paid for playing with words.

My CV? I was born in 1953 in the Essex County Borough of West Ham – home of the Blitz Detective – on the eastern edge of London. I grew up mainly in Romford and went to the Royal Liberty School, then studied Russian and French at Cambridge University.

My first job was translating for the BBC, and I did various jobs there for sixteen years before moving to work in communications for development agency Tearfund, travelling widely in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In 2002 I went freelance as a writer, editor and creative project manager. Now I earn a living by translating and spend the rest of my time in the cellar of my house in Hampshire chronicling the adventures of the Blitz Detective.

Why write detective novels? Because I enjoy reading them and I love to create entertaining stories. Why set them in that place and time? Because overnight the Blitz turned everyday existence into a life-and-death struggle for ordinary people – and some of them were my family. 

Guest post by Laura Bambrey – author of The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness

I’m thrilled to share a guest post by Laura Bambrey on my book review blog today. Yesterday Simon and Schuster UK published Laura’s debut novel in ebook.

Today I’m pleased to welcome Laura to speak more about the main theme of her debut novel.

Hi Karen!

Thank you so much for having me on your wonderful blog and helping me to celebrate the publication of The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness

I wanted to talk a little bit about why I chose loneliness as the main theme of my debut. In reality it was Tori, my main character, who decided on it. She’s been pottering around in my head a lot longer than her story has. I’ve tried to get to know her several times, placing her in different situations and scenarios, with no luck. But then, at the beginning of 2019 when I finally committed to finding out her story, I realised where I’d been going wrong. I’d been busy trying to figure her out in relation to other people- but – other than three online-only friends – she had no one else in her life. And there it was – I had my theme.

I had to research loneliness and how it can affect you in order to understand Tori and tell her story. The first thing I did was to look back at my own experiences. I come from a loving family, I’m blessed with a wonderful partner and have lots of people – online and in real life – that I can turn to. But there have been those moments where I’ve felt truly lonely. Even saying that now, I can feel the shudder- the desire to delete that sentence. There is still so much stigma attached to admitting that you are, or have been, lonely.

– Sitting up at 2am, watching over my mum while nursing her during her last weeks. 

– A lunchtime walk at work while everyone else ate together. 

– Having a question and realising that the one person in my life who could answer it was gone. 

Of course, the entirety of this story was written before the pandemic burst into our lives. Sadly, loneliness has become even more prevalent – something we’ve all faced to some extent over the past four months. And still, it’s not talked about enough. I mean, did you know that there are 4 types of loneliness? Social, Emotional, Situational and Chronic. There’s so much to learn – so much we should be talking about!

It’s my hope that The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness will not only be an enjoyable, light look at some darker and more difficult issues like loneliness, loss, anxiety and phobias, but that it might also provide a bit of a conversation starter about them too.

Before I sign off I’d like to give mind.org.uk a shout out for their wonderful online resources. If you find yourself struggling or want to learn more, they’re a great place to start.

Thank you Laura for sharing this with us. I enjoyed reading your book and shared my review last month on this blog at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/07/02/the-beginners-guide-to-loneliness-by-laura-bambrey/

To purchase a copy of Laura’s book, visit:

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beginners-Guide-Loneliness-Laura-Bambrey-ebook/dp/B087QPN2S5

US: https://www.amazon.com/Beginners-Guide-Loneliness-Laura-Bambrey-ebook/dp/B087QPN2S5

Synopsis of the book:

The perfect feel-good read from an exciting new voice in women’s fiction, for fans of Heidi Swain, Cathy Bramley and Jenny Colgan.

Tori Williamson is alone. After a tragic event left her isolated from her loved ones, she’s been struggling to find her way back to, well – herself. That’s why she set up her blog, The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness, as a way of – anonymously – connecting with the outside world and reaching others who just need a little help sometimes.

When she’s offered a free spot on a wellbeing retreat in exchange for a review on her blog, Tori is anxious about opening herself up to new surroundings. But after her three closest friends – who she talks to online but has never actually met – convince her it’ll do her some good, she reluctantly agrees and heads off for three weeks in the wild (well, a farm in Wales).

From the moment she arrives, Tori is sceptical and quickly finds herself drawn to fellow sceptic Than, the retreat’s dark and mysterious latecomer. But as the beauty of The Farm slowly comes to light she realizes that opening herself up might not be the worst thing. And sharing a yurt with fellow retreater Bay definitely isn’t.  Will the retreat be able to fix Tori? Or will she finally learn that being lonely doesn’t mean she’s broken . . .

Welcome to The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness! Where you can learn to move mountains by picking up the smallest of stones…

For more information about Laura Bambrey:

Laura Bambrey was born in Dorset but raised in Wales. She’s worked as a trapeze choreographer, sculpture conservator and stilt walker, amongst others, and spent most of her time collecting stories from the people she met along the way. 

She has spent many years as a book blogger and reviewer of women’s fiction and now lives in Devon with her very own romantic hero and a ridiculously fluffy rabbit named Mop. The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness is her début novel.

You can follow her on 

Twitter:             https://twitter.com/LauraBambrey

Facebook:        https://www.facebook.com/LauraBambreyBooks/

Instagram:       https://www.instagram.com/laura_bambrey_books/

Blog:               laurabambreybooks.blogspot.com

The Better Half : On the Genetic Superiority of Women by Sharon Moalem

Today I’m pleased to share a review for a non fiction book on my blog. Thank you to Penguin UK for a digital proof copy via NetGalley – apologies for the delay in reading and reviewing.

Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

An award-winning medic and scientist makes the game-changing case that genetic females are stronger than males at every stage of life

‘A powerful antidote to the myth of a “weaker sex”‘ Gina Rippon, author of The Gendered Brain

Here are some facts: Women live longer than men. They have stronger immune systems. They’re better at fighting cancer and surviving famine, and even see the world in a wider variety of colours. They are simply stronger than men at every stage of life. Why? And why are we taught the opposite?

Drawing on his wide-ranging experience and cutting-edge research, Dr Sharon Moalem set out to understand why men are consistently less likely than women to thrive. The answer, he reveals, lies in our genetics: the female’s double XX chromosomes offer a powerful survival advantage.

Moalem explains why genetic females triumph over males when it comes to resilience, intellect, stamina, immunity and much more. And he calls for a long-overdue reconsideration of our male-centric, one-size-fits-all view of the body and even of how we prescribe medications – a view that still frames women through the lens of men. 

Revolutionary, captivating and utterly persuasive, The Better Half will make you see women, men and the survival of our species anew.

My thoughts:

This book was published back in April 2020 in the UK, at the start of Lockdown. I had a dip in my ability to concentrate and read mostly ‘light fiction’ full of uplifting stories. However, as a female in the middle of a global pandemic, I really should have read this because I now appreciate that my body may be more able to fight Covid-19 than those of the males in our house.

This was an interesting read. Admittedly I didn’t fact check the science but I did understand the majority of it, with my A level science and medical underwriting knowledge. My major concern was discovering that women are much more at risk of autoimmune conditions (a cousin has MS) and that many medicines haven’t been tested on women, so the dosages are based on men..

Definitely worth a read, to see why the X and Y chromosomes mean that we have different health issues and the risks to be aware of.

Author Bio:

Sharon Moalem, MD, PhD, is an award-winning physician-scientist and geneticist. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Survival of the Sickest and Inheritance, an Amazon Best Science Book of the Year, among other books. His work brings together evolution, genetics, and medicine to revolutionize how we understand and treat disease, and his clinical research led to the discovery of two new rare genetic conditions, and to his discovery of a first-in-class antibiotic which targets ‘superbug’ infections. His books have been translated into more than 35 languages.

One Step Behind by Lauren North

I’m thrilled to share my review for the new book by Lauren North. The Perfect Betrayal was one of my favourite books last year, so I was pleased to have chance to read and review her second novel, after taking part in the social media cover reveal a few months ago. Thank you to Transworld for a digital review copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

Jenna is a wife, a mother, a doctor. She’s also the victim of a stalker.

Every time she leaves her house, she sees him. Disturbing gifts are left at her door. Cruel emails are sent to her colleagues. She has no idea who this man is but she feels powerless against him.

Until the day he is brought into her hospital after a serious accident, and Jenna is given the chance to find out once and for all why this man is tormenting her. Now, the power is all hers.

But how many lines is she willing to cross to take back control of her life?

My thoughts:

I devoured this story very quickly, wanting to find out who was stalking Jenna. As a mum of two, the thought of having someone watching my family was at the back of my mind as this story unfolded.

The suspense kept building as the main characters were introduced, until I was suspicious of almost everyone. This is very dark in places, as Jenna struggles to cope with the presents being left for her and the emails accusing her of being a bad mother and an incompetent doctor.

Another tense thriller from Lauren North that I will be recommending to family and friends, this book keeps you guessing until the very end.

Lauren North:

Lauren writes psychological suspense novels that delve into the darker side of relationships and families. She has a lifelong passion for writing, reading, and all things books. Lauren’s love of psychological suspense has grown since childhood and her dark imagination of always wondering what’s the worst thing that could happen in every situation. 

Lauren studied psychology before moving to London where she lived and worked for many years. She now lives with her family in the Suffolk countryside. Readers can follow Lauren on Twitter @Lauren_C_North and Facebook @LaurenNorthAuthor

In Case You Missed It by Lindsey Kelk

I’m pleased to share my review for the latest book by bestselling author Lindsey Kelk today. Thank you to Harper Collins for allowing me to read the book early via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the free copy.

My thoughts:

One missed chance in life…one second chance in love

When Ros steps off a plane after three years away, she’s in need of a new job, a new flat and a new start. But her friends have moved on, her parents only have eyes for each other, and her bedroom has been moved into the garden shed. Suddenly, Ros has a bad case of nostalgia for the way things were.

Then her phone begins to ping with messages from her old life. Including one number she thought she’d erased forever: the man who broke her heart.

Sometimes we’d all like the chance to see what we’ve been missing…

My thoughts:

I’ve read and enjoyed many of the books by Lindsey Kelk over the years, and personally I think this is the best.

It is a ‘fun’ book, full of larger than life characters, perfect for enjoying on a summer day. Ros has returned home from the job of a lifetime in the USA (but was it?) and ends up reconnecting with her ex boyfriend by accident when her new phone connects to the cloud after 3 years abroad. Will Patrick make her happy? Will her parents make her live in the shed for the rest of her life? Will her podcast be successful? Will life with the her friends continue just as they did before she left, and who is their new friend?

This book should be enjoyed sat in a sunny garden or park, with a cocktail or a mocktail. Lots of humour, romance, and life changes wrapped up and delivered in this story.

Lindsey Kelk:

Bestselling British author based in Los Angeles. Lover of books, watcher of wrestling, wearer of lipstick. Karaoke enthusiast and cat wrangler. Lindsey is the author of twelve novels, including the bestselling I Heart series, About a Girl, The Single Girl’s To-Do List and Always the Bridesmaid.

OLIVE by Emma Gannon

I’m pleased to share my review for Olive by Emily Gannon on my blog today. Thank you to Harper Collins for a digital review copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

Independent.
Adrift.
Anxious.
Loyal.
Kind.
Knows her own mind.

OLIVE is many things, and it’s ok that she’s still figuring it all out, navigating her world without a compass. But life comes with expectations, there are choices to be made, boxes to tick and – sometimes – stereotypes to fulfil. And when her best friends’ lives start to branch away towards marriage and motherhood, leaving the path they’ve always followed together, Olive starts to question her choices – because life according to Olive looks a little bit different.

Moving, memorable and a mirror for every woman at a crossroads, OLIVE has a little bit of all of us. Told with great warmth and nostalgia, this is a modern tale about the obstacle course of adulthood, milestone decisions and the ‘taboo’ about choosing not to have children.

My thoughts:

As a mum of two in her forties, I found this debut novel to be well written and thought provoking. This was the first time I had read a book where the difference between being childless and childfree was discussed in such an honest way.

Olive and her three friends are all on different pathways at the start of the book, can their longtime friendship survive motherhood, IVF and choosing to be childfree? Emma Gannon shows how each friend is facing challenges that their other friends haven’t noticed, and actually need their friends more than ever before.

An impressive debut novel about friendship needing to evolve and making choices. I look forward to reading more by Emma Gannon in the future.

Emma Gannon:

Emma Gannon is an award-winning writer, speaker, Sunday Times columnist and podcaster. Her writing has been published everywhere from The Guardian to Glamour. She is the bestselling author of memoir Ctrl Alt Delete and The Multi-Hyphen Method, which became a Sunday Times bestseller. She is also the host of hit podcast series ‘Ctrl Alt Delete’, the No.1 careers podcast in the UK which has reached almost 6 million downloads, featuring guests such as Ellen Page, Greta Gerwig and Elizabeth Gilbert, plus the first podcast episode recorded inside Buckingham Palace.

Emma is currently working with the Princes Trust and Media Trust charities which helps young people develop their voices in the media. She’s recently been involved with other charities including Women For Women International and Plan International’s ‘Girls Get Equal’.

Emma lives in East London with her partner. Olive is her debut novel

The Shore House by Heidi Hostetter

Today I’m sharing my review for The Shore House which will be published in the UK on July 20th. Thank you to Bookouture for the digital review copy of this book. This is the first book I’ve read by Heidi Hostetter.

Synopsis:

When the Bennett family arrive at the shore house to spend the summer together, they bring more baggage than just suitcases…

When Kaye Bennett, matriarch of the Bennett family, summons her adult children to the shore house, she anticipates a vacation full of nostalgia. It’s a chance to relive the carefree joy of summers past: basking in the hot sun, cooling off in the surf and enjoying long, relaxing evenings watching fireflies on the deck. But when Kaye’s son and daughter arrive, late and uncooperative, it becomes clear the family desperately need to reconnect.

Kaye and her daughter Stacy have been quietly at odds for years and resentment has grown around words unsaid. Faced with spending the summer months in such close quarters, Kaye is determined to remind Stacy of happier times and why she once loved their beautiful beachside home.

But both Kaye and Stacy are holding something back… and only when a heart-stopping moment on the beach puts what Stacy most loves at risk are the two women finally able to set free the secrets in their shared past.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed visiting The Shore House at Dewberry Beach in New Jersey. Heidi Hostetter set the scene beautifully with her descriptions of the area and the food, which left me wishing I could travel there.

This book is about a family who need to take time to deal with events from the past and make plans for the future. All 5 adults have issues to deal with, ranging from recovering from a near death experience to finding a job that makes them happy. This is a family that need to start to communicate with each other again.

I enjoyed reading the book and will look out for the next book in the series (about a different family).

Heidi Hostetter:

Heidi Hostetter grew up in New Jersey and spent summers at her grandparents’ house on the shore. Every magical thing was there, from sparklers and fireflies at night to whole days spent swimming in the ocean and exploring tide pools. She moved to South Carolina for college where Southern culture inspired the Lowcountry novels. Her first job brought her to the Pacific Northwest, where she lived long enough to appreciate the rain and the mountains and to write the Inlet Beach novels. She and her family have recently moved back across the country to the DC-area and live in a one hundred-year-old house that’s definitely haunted.

When she’s not writing – or reading, you can probably find her digging in her garden, ripping back a knitting project, or burning dinner. She’s recently learned to kayak on the Potomac and is always up for a trip to a bookstore, no matter how far away.

Heidi is currently at work on the second book in the New Jersey Shore series. Her writing partner, a labradoodle named Emmett shares her office, keeping a careful watch for errant squirrels and neighborhood shenanigans.

She loves to hear from readers and answers all her own mail. You can find her here:

Facebook Author Page: facebook.com/AuthorHeidiHostetter/
Facebook Reading Group: facebook.com/groups/636728933179573
Goodreads: Goodreads.com/HeidiHostetter
Website: http://www.HeidiHostetter.com
Twitter: @HeidiHostetter

The Village Shop for Lonely Hearts by Alison Sherlock #blogtour

I’m thrilled to share my review for this uplifting new book by Alison Sherlock on my book review blog today. Thank you to Boldwood Books and Rachel’s Random Resources for the digital proof copy – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

After losing her job in New York, Amber Green isn’t looking forward to visiting her godmother in the sleepy village of Cranbridge. With its empty lanes and rundown shops, it’s hardly a place to mend her lonely heart.

But when Amber discovers that Cranbridge Stores, owned by her godmother Cathy and son Josh, is under threat of financial ruin, she realises that her skills as a window dresser might just be able to help save the struggling shop.

When disaster strikes, Amber and Josh must unite to save both the shop and the village from flooding.

Can Cranbridge Stores become the heart of the village once more?

And as the village begins to come back to life, perhaps Amber will discover a reason to stay…

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Alison Sherlock and it won’t be the last. This is a book about finding the right place to be, which may not be the one you originally planned.

I live near to the Cotswolds, where the book is set and this book was a lovely escape from the current anxious world that we live in. Amber and Josh are both looking at their lives to see why their intended career paths have changed so much. As they work together to modernise the shop and to help out the local community during a flood, they start to discover that they may have more in common than they expected.

This was an uplifting read during the global pandemic – a book to curl up with for a ‘virtual hug’. I enjoyed the community spirit of the book and the gentle humour of the characters. I hope we will be able to visit Cranbridge again in future books.

Alison Sherlock:

Alison Sherlock is the author of the bestselling Willow Tree Hall books. Alison enjoyed reading and writing stories from an early age and gave up office life to follow her dream. Her new series for Boldwood is set in a fictional Cotswold Village and the first title will be published in July 2020.

Social Media Links – 

Twitter https://twitter.com/AlisonSherlock

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/alison.sherlock.73

Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/alison-sherlock

Purchase Links – https://amzn.to/2VPGfzh

Here and Now by Santa Montefiore

I’m pleased to share my review for the latest book by Santa Montefiore on my book blog today. Thank you to Simon and Schuster for a digital review copy – my thoughts are my own and and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

Marigold has spent her life taking care of those around her, juggling family life with the running of the local shop, and being an all-round leader in her quiet yet welcoming community. When she finds herself forgetting things, everyone quickly puts it down to her age. But something about Marigold isn’t quite right, and it’s becoming harder for people to ignore.

As Marigold’s condition worsens, for the first time in their lives her family must find ways to care for the woman who has always cared for them. Desperate to show their support, the local community come together to celebrate Marigold, and to show her that losing your memories doesn’t matter, when there are people who will remember them for you . . .

Evocative, emotional and full of life, Here and Now is the most moving book you’ll read this year – from Sunday Times bestselling author Santa Montefiore.

My thoughts:

Occasionally I become so involved in an emotional story that I find myself crying. The last book to do that was The Sight of You by Holly Miller (reviewed at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/06/08/the-sight-of-you-by-holly-miller/ ) until I read the last few pages of Here and Now and found myself properly crying – this was not just moist eyes, but proper tears. So my first suggestion is when you buy the book (because you should), is to stock up on tissues too.

This is the first book I’ve read by Santa Montefiore and before you ask, I’m not sure why either. I requested the review copy via NetGalley back in March as the UK headed into lockdown and Simon and Schuster kindly approved it.

Marigold is a wonderful character, much loved by her family and neighbours and community. The way the story is written to show how her little episodes of forgetfulness become more serious is a heartbreaking tale uplifted by how her family and friends help her to stay happy. Marigold has been looking after her mum, her husband and daughters for many years, now they need to work together to help her.

The book is beautifully written, full of wonderful characters, some happy and some grumpy (Nan), humour (moles, christmas puddings etc), love (pink roses) and romance. At the time of reading this in July 2020, many of us are currently anxious about the global pandemic, a virus we cannot see whilst we also have an unseen condition which steals the memory of people that we currently cannot protect ourselves from. However, as the title suggests, we need to live in the here and now, to enjoy the small things – the birds singing, the food we eat, time with family and friends.

Thank you to Santa Montefiore for this wonderful story, I look forward to reading more of your books in the future.

Santa Montefiore (taken from Amazon):

Hi, I’m Santa Montefiore and I’ve been writing a novel a year for nineteen years now, which is quite astonishing as I didn’t really think beyond the first book, which took me five years to write. I didn’t think I had another in me, but here I am, celebrating my eighteenth and polishing my nineteenth for publication next year! Most of my novels are set partly in England and partly in a beautiful location, like Argentina, Italy or France. I write primarily for myself so I figure, as I’m going to be living in my imagination for the best part of six months, I might as well choose somewhere lovely. I adore nature, so I tend to plant my characters in rural settlings – by the sea or in the countryside – and most of them are stand alone, except Last Voyage of the Valentina and The Italian Matchmaker, and my recent trilogy, The Deverill Chronicles, which is set in Ireland from 1910 to the sixties. I love writing. I’ve always enjoyed stories, both reading them and writing them. I can’t imagine life without them. Not only are they entertaining, but they teach us so much about life – and enable us to live vicariously through characters who experience more drama than we do! I’m emotional. I love to be moved. There’s nothing better than sinking into a novel and empathising with the characters as they journey through the novel, experiencing both ups and downs…I love to laugh and cry and I want the book to stay with me after I’ve turned the last page. I don’t need a happy ending, but I need a satisfactory one. I hope I deliver satisfactory endings in my own novels.

I also write children’s books with my husband, Simon Sebag-Montefiore. The series is The Royal Rabbits of London, about a secret society of MI5 style rabbits who live beneath Buckingham Palace and protect the Royal Family from evil. Our son came up with the idea when he was six years old and it’s now being made into a movie by 20th Century Fox, which is beyond exciting. To see our characters in animation will be magical.

I live in London but rent a cottage in Hampshire, which is where I bolt to when I can no longer take the pace of the city and need to spend time in nature to find peace. We have two children, our daughter Lily and our son Sasha. We also have a Labrador called Simba who is definitely the most spoiled member of the family. My husband Simon is a historian, novelist and broadcaster. We manage to live and work in the same house without killing each other. My favourite place to write is at the kitchen table because it’s near the kettle and the fridge. If I start a packet of biscuits I can’t stop so I try not to start… but marmite toast is another matter, and a very serious one; nothing can separate me from that.


Visit me at http://www.santamontefiore.co.uk and sign up for my newsletter which I try to write every month, but sometimes struggle, so please forgive me if I miss one or two!

Queen Bee by Jane Fallon


I’m pleased to share my review of the latest book by Jane Fallon today. Thank you to Penguin UK -Michael Joseph for a digital review copy via NetGalley, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. The book was published in the UK on 9th July 2020.

Synopsis:

Welcome to The Close – a beautiful street of mansions, where gorgeous Stella is the indisputable Queen Bee . . .

It is here that Laura, seeking peace and privacy after her marriage falls apart, rents a tiny studio. Unfortunately, her arrival upsets suspicious Stella – who fears Laura has designs on her fiancé, Al.

When Laura stumbles on the big secret Al is hiding, suddenly Stella’s perfectly controlled world, not to mention Laura’s future, are threatened.

Taking a chance on beating Al at his own twisted game, these two former strangers are fast becoming best friends.

But has Laura forgotten that revenge never comes without a sting in the tail?

My thoughts:


I’ve read a few Jane Fallon novels over the years and enjoyed them, so I was pleased to receive a digital review copy back in January 2020. As lockdown hit the UK in March, the publication date was moved to July 2020 and I only read the book in June. Sadly, this was my loss as this is an enjoyable book.

This is a no spoiler review so I will be careful not to spoil any of the surprises in store for the characters. Laura has moved into The Close, a ‘posh’ area after splitting up with her husband and needing somewhere to rent – she is in the ‘servants flat’ owned by Gail and Ben. Laura is an entrepreneur – running her own cleaning company and employing a number of staff. The people she meets in The Close lead very different lifestyles and probably wouldn’t know what a vacuum cleaner was.

One of the residents is Stella, who with her two mini me daughters, aren’t nice to Laura and her daughter. However due to a series of events, Laura and Stella suddenly find that they have more in common than they ever expected.

I really enjoyed the book and likened it to a modern day Downton Abbey – where the ‘rich’ people have no idea how the majority of people live – everything is done for them. I laughed out loud at the ‘pizza in the oven’ story.

The Close is full of secrets and I enjoyed how Jane Fallon shared them one by one, changing your opinion about some of the characters as the story unfolded. There is so much more that I would love to share about the book but I don’t want to give any spoilers. I recommend this for your staycation 2020 summer read.

Jane Fallon:

Jane Fallon is an English producer and novelist, most famous for her work on popular series Teachers, 20 Things To Do Before You’re 30, Eastenders and This Life. She has also written many successful novels.

Fallon has been in a relationship with popular comedian Ricky Gervais since 1982, after they met while studying together at the University College London. The couple has lived together since 1984 and are based in North London.


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