Cape May by Chip Cheek

Cape May

I was thrilled to be invited to an afternoon tea in Covent Garden at the end of last year celebrating the forthcoming fiction for Orion in 2019. You can see all about that event here.

One of the books I was lucky enough to bring home was Cape May by Chip Cheek and I’m delighted to be reviewing it today.

Cape May is published by Orion imprint Weidenfield and Nicholson today, 30th April 2019, and is available for purchase through the links here.

Cape May


Henry and Effie, young newlyweds from Georgia, arrive in Cape May, New Jersey, for their honeymoon. It’s the end of the season and the town is deserted. As they tentatively discover each other, they begin to realize that everyday married life might be disappointingly different from their happily-ever-after fantasy.

Just as they get ready to cut the trip short, a decadent and glamorous set suddenly sweep them up into their drama – Clara, a beautiful socialite who feels her youth slipping away; Max, a wealthy playboy and Clara’s lover; and Alma, Max’s aloof and mysterious half-sister.

The empty beach town becomes their playground, and as they sneak into abandoned summer homes, go sailing, walk naked under the stars, make love, and drink a great deal of gin, Henry and Effie slip from innocence into betrayal, with irrevocable consequences that reverberate through the rest of their lives…

My Review of Cape May

Henry and Effie’s honeymoon will be more than they could have imagined.

Cape May is a brilliantly written sensuous, and sensual, portrait of a completely hedonistic and sybaritic lifestyle that both fascinated and slightly repulsed me! It reminded me so much of The Great Gatsby but with greater carnality, and some readers might find the sexual references too frequent or graphic for their tastes, but I thought they were essential in creating the atmosphere. I felt Chip Cheek conveyed the brittle, sparkling veneer of a rotten and corrupt lifestyle in a manner that filled me with admiration. I actually felt quite tainted by events and almost voyeuristic of them at times. This is such effective writing because Chip Cheek made me experience first hand some of the emotions Henry in particular feels. Much of this effect comes through the taut, precise prose and imagery. There is, for example, great power and excitement in the crashing waves on the beach, but there’s also huge threat too so that disaster is never very far away.

The frenetic desire to enjoy life demonstrated by the claustrophobic quintet of Alma, Effie, Henry, Clara and Max has a feeling of desperation that made me glad of my mundane and monogamous lifestyle. For all the drinking, sexual activity and partying, I felt an underlying sadness for each of the characters. They seemed so real that I felt sorry for them in their pursuit of happiness and fulfilment. Reading Cape May made me wonder how much we every truly know those closest to us and how and why their lives turn out as they do.

The atmosphere of the setting, of Cape May and the empty, off season houses, vibrated with menace so that I fully expected an implosion at any moment. The vacant houses represented the vacant souls of the characters for me in a way I found surprisingly moving. I loved the way the book ended because it conveyed so perfectly the way in which a moment or decision can affect an entire life.

Cape May is a book I suspect will polarise readers. References to sexual acts and body parts may not suit all, but never did I feel they were inappropriate or gratuitous. In Cape May Chip Cheek is taking the reader on a voyage of self-discovery with Effie and Henry and the journey isn’t always a comfortable one.

I thought Cape May was sensitively and honestly written, atmospheric and affecting. I suspect I’ll be thinking about it for some time.

About Chip Cheek

chip cheek.jpg

Chip Cheek’s stories have appeared in ​The Southern Review​, ​Harvard Review​, ​Washington Square, and other journals and anthologies. He has been awarded scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Tin House Summer Writers’ Workshop, and the Vermont Studio Center, as well as an Emerging Artist Award from the St. Botolph Club Foundation.

He lives in El Segundo, California, with his wife and baby daughter.

You can follow Chip on Twitter @ChipCheek and visit his website for more information.

One More Lie by Amy Lloyd

one more lie

My huge thanks to Rachel Kennedy at Penguin Random House for a copy of One More Lie by Amy Lloyd in return for an honest review.

Published by Penguin imprint Century, One More Lie is available for purchase through the publisher links here.

One More Lie

one more lie

How do you live with yourself as an adult when you were convicted of murder as a child?

And when you can’t remember the crime…

Charlotte wants a fresh start. She wants to forget her past, forget her crime – and, most of all, forget that one terrible moment.

It’s the reason she’s been given a new name, a new life. The reason she spent years in prison.

But even on the outside, with an ankle monitor and court-mandated therapy, she can’t escape the devastating memory of the night that turned her and her only friend into national hate figures.

But now her friend has found her.

And despite the lies she tells to survive, she soon finds herself being dragged deeper and deeper into a past she cannot confront.

Even if it’s going to cost Charlotte her life…

My Review of One More Lie

A new life for Charlotte doesn’t mean the past can be escaped.

Oh my goodness – YES! I loved One More Lie. Amy Lloyd’s writing held me gripped from the very first word until the final full stop. Her style is just perfect for the genre, with a range of sentence structure that filled me with admiration because it matched so brilliantly the atmosphere of the moment. The narrative voice of Charlotte’s younger self is completely convincing. Amy Lloyd’s ability to convey taut, ominous, emotion through a single word or a lengthier sentence makes One More Lie an absolute masterclass in effective writing. It was only when I finished reading One More Lie that I realised I’d been holding tension in my body throughout. The book is so good that it had a physical effect on me.

Alongside that palpable tension is a first rate story. The plotting simply didn’t allow me to put the book down. I felt as ensnared by wanting to know what happened as Charlotte feels by the life she now has and her attempts to remember the past. The pace is fast, the balance of ‘Then’ and ‘Now’ as well as ‘Her’ and ‘Him’ and the gradual uncovering of the truth is completely hypnotic. Events are familiar to the reader too, as similar things have happened in real life which adds to the compelling nature of the read.

Both Sean and Charlotte are superb creations. Flawed, obsessive, vulnerable and deceptive they wormed their way into my mind so that I couldn’t help admire and like them in spite of the terrible crime they have committed. The way their relationship unfolds and the past and present gradually come together is fascinating.

I thought the themes explored were also brilliant. Amy Lloyd weaves in society’s rapid jumping to conclusions, and the treatment of difference, the impact of nature and nurture and the consequences of how a small untruth or event can unravel several lives,  completely perfectly. The author never preaches and is never obvious or unsubtle but still manages to make the reader consider their own standpoint and to experience what life on the outer edges of society can be like through those passages relating to Sean and the women in Charlotte’s accommodation, especially.

One More Lie is manipulative of the reader as it is impossible not to become embroiled in the story on so many levels. It is deceptive and shocking. I thought One More Lie was stunning and I can’t recommend it enough.

About Amy Lloyd

amy lloyd

Amy Lloyd studied English and Creative Writing at Cardiff Metropolitan University. In 2016 she won the Daily Mail Bestseller Competition for her debut novel The Innocent Wife which, when it was published, became a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. Amy lives in Cardiff with her partner, who is also a published novelist

You can follow Amy on Twitter @AmyLloydWrites and find her on Facebook.

Blog Tour – Our Life In A Day by @jamiefewery

Our Life in a day

I have to begin this blog post with an apology! I had completely forgotten that I’d agreed to be on the blog tour for Jamie Fewery’s Our Life in a Day organised by Tracy Fenton before I decided to take a blog tour sabbatical and I have already posted my review of the wonderful Our Life In A Day although I’m sharing it again today.

However, I’m sure Jamie will forgive me for sharing my review twice because I absolutely loved the book!

Our Life In A Day was published by Orion in ebook on 27th December 2018 and now available in paperback through these links.

Our Life In A Day

Our Life in a day

The rules are simple. Choose the most significant moments from your relationship – one for each hour in the day.

You’d probably pick when you first met, right?
And the instant you knew for sure it was love?
Maybe even the time you watched the sunrise after your first night together?

But what about the car journey to the holiday where everything started to go wrong? Or your first proper fight?

Or that time you lied about where you’d been?

It’s a once in a lifetime chance to learn the truth.

But if you had to be completely honest with the one you love, would you still play?

For Esme and Tom, the game is about to begin. And once they start, there’s no going back…

My Review of Our Life In A Day

When Tom’s best friend Annabel pushes him into chatting to Esme at a fancy dress party the consequences will reverberate throughout the next decade.

This is going to be one of those reviews that is difficult to write without including spoilers so I’ll state unequivocally that I absolutely adored Our Life In A Day and cannot recommend it highly enough.

There are so many aspects that make Our Life In A Day a poignant, touching and emotional read. The themes Jamie Fewery includes are devastatingly effectively portrayed so that the reader has complete understanding of how and why Tom and Esme behave as they do. I don’t think it is revealing too much to say the concept of depression gives an unexpected gravitas to the narrative that is compelling and affecting. I loved the fact that, with honesty as a major theme to the novel, when they meet neither Esma nor Tom is in fancy dress like everyone else. This is a portent of the way in which identity and truth will resonate throughout their relationship.

I thought the plot was a wonderful concept. Esme’s 10th anniversary game is the foundation of all the action in a manner that is authentic and also somewhat terrifying because I wasn’t sure throughout what the outcome of the game might be. The denouement to Our Life In A Day left me tearful and emotionally drained.

The balance of focus between Esme and Tom is delicately wrought giving each an importance and status in the story. The fact that there is only a small cast of supporting characters adds to the intensity and emotion and at times I could hardly bring myself to read on, whilst simultaneously not wanting to stop. It was Tom in particular who touched me. On occasion I wanted to shake him and remonstrate with him and yet I still wanted to hold him close and comfort him too. People close to me have experienced similar demons and the way in which Jamie Fewery depicts Tom’s struggles is incredibly accurate and impactful.

To try to explain Our Life In A Day further might risk spoiling the read for others. I think Jamie Fewery has written an important narrative because he has woven in aspects that are enormous problems and issues for both society and individuals. That said, Our Life In A Day is neither moralising nor didactic. It is instead a wonderful, heart breaking, and emotional depiction of love and life. I absolutely adored it.

About Jamie Fewery


Jamie Fewery is an author, journalist and copywriter. He has written for the Daily Telegraph, Five Dials and Wired, and works for a London-based marketing and creative agency. He lives in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire with his wife and son. Our Life in a Day is his first novel. You can follow Jamie on Twitter @jamiefewery and Instagram @jamiefeweryauthor.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Our Life in a Day blog tour UPDATED

The Daughters of Ironbridge by Mollie Walton

daughters of Ironbridge

My enormous thanks to Rebecca Mascull, aka Mollie Walton, for ensuring I received a copy of The Daughters of Ironbridge in return for an honest review. This author has a special place in my blogger heart because the launch of Song of the Sea Maid was one of the first bookish events I went to as a blogger and I wrote all about it here, interviewing Rebecca about the book here. I also reviewed Song of the Sea Maid here and another of Rebecca’s books, Miss Marley, completed as a tribute to her friend and fellow novelist Vanessa Lafaye, here.

The Daughters of Ironbridge was published by Zaffre on 18th April 2019 and is available for purchase here.

The Daughters of Ironbridge

daughters of Ironbridge

Anny Woodvine’s family has worked at the ironworks for as long as she can remember. The brightest child in her road and the first in her family to learn to read, Anny has big dreams. So, when she is asked to run messages for the King family, she grabs the opportunity with both hands.

Margaret King is surrounded by privilege and wealth. But behind closed doors, nothing is what it seems. When Anny arrives, Margaret finds her first ally and friend. Together they plan to change their lives.

But as disaster looms over the ironworks, Margaret and Anny find themselves surrounded by secrets and betrayal. Can they hold true to each other and overcome their fate? Or are they destined to repeat the mistakes of the past?

My Review of The Daughters of Ironbridge

Anny and Margaret form an unlikely friendship across society’s boundaries.

I so enjoyed The Daughters of Ironbridge because there’s a fabulous authenticity to the era presented by Mollie Walton. Her use of dialogue, dialect and her presentation of class differences in particular, draw in the reader to a vibrant and genuine setting. Having been to Ironbridge, I could see just how much assiduous and relevant research has gone in to creating a town that lifts from the page into sharp reality. It was as if I were actually there as I read.

The plot is a cracker. It starts relatively gently with Anny and Margaret becoming friends but builds and builds, creating real tension so that I wasn’t sure quite how this story would resolve itself. I found it hugely satisfying to read. Not everything resolved itself as I anticipated (or perhaps wanted) and so I’m now hooked into the story and desperate to know what happens next in the series.

Anny is a wonderful creation and she was the one who held my affections most, because I most identified with her. Her desire to better herself and the way Mollie Walton weaves in the importance of literacy and education to Anny’s life is a universal theme that I could relate to completely. Indeed, I felt The Daughters of Ironbridge was a surprisingly feminist read with a depth I wasn’t quite expecting and the journeys of self-discovery for Anny and Margaret are as relevant to anybody today as they were to women of their era. However, I really appreciated the balance of characters too. There are positive and negative characters of both sexes so that The Daughters of Ironbridge feels well-rounded and balanced in spite of the main plot elements (about which I won’t say more. You’ll have to read the book for yourself!)

Themes of poverty and wealth, cruelty and altruism, love and brutality give layers of interest that make The Daughters of Ironbridge a smashing story. It truly does have everything a lover of the saga genre wants in a narrative.

It’s some time since I read a saga and what a perfect example of women’s saga fiction The Daughters of Ironbridge is. Mollie Walton has created a glorious world of history, society, family and friendship, love and hate that slots right in to the genre without a glitch and has reignited my interest in this type of writing. I loved the way this first book in the series ends and can’t wait to find out what happens next. Brilliant!

About Mollie Walton


Mollie Walton is the saga pen-name for historical novelist Rebecca Mascull.

She has always been fascinated by history and on a trip to Shropshire, while gazing down from the iron bridge, found the inspiration for what has become her debut saga novel, part of a trilogy titled The Ironbridge Saga, published by Bonnier Zaffre.

Under the pen-name Rebecca Mascull, she is the author of three historical novels, The Visitors, Song of the Sea Maid and Wild Air.

She has also recently completed the final chapters of her friend and fellow novelist Vanessa Lafaye’s final work, a novella called Miss Marley, a prequel to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Rebecca has previously worked in education, has a Masters in Writing and lives by the sea in the east of England.

You can find out more on Mollie’s website and find her on Facebook. To find out more about Mollie as Rebecca Mascull persona, you can follow Rebecca on Twitter @rebeccamascull and find her on Facebook. Visit her Rebecca Mascull website here.

The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew by Milly Johnson

Mrs Mayhew

In exactly a month’s time on 24th May the Deepings Literary Festival will be in full swing and I’ll be heading off to have fish and chips with the wonderful Milly Johnson. I’m so looking forward to meeting up with Milly again. I last chatted with her at a Simon and Schuster Spring Blogger Evening that you can read about here. With that in mind I thought today would be a perfect time to share my review of Milly’s latest book, The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew. My enormous thanks to the lovely team at EDPR for sending me a copy of the book.

Milly was kind enough to write a piece for Linda’s Book Bag when The Mother of All Christmases was released in a post available here and I have my review of another of Milly’s books, The Perfectly Imperfect Woman, here.

The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew was published by Simon and Schuster on 7th MArch 2019 and is available for purchase through these links.

The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew

Mrs Mayhew

Behind every successful man is a woman.
Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

Sophie Mayhewlooks like she has the perfect life. Wife of rising political star John F Mayhew, a man who is one step away from the top job in the government, her glamour matches his looks, power, breeding and money. But John has made some stupid mistakes along the way, some of which are threatening to emerge. Still, all this can still be swept under the carpet as long as Sophie ‘the trophy’ plays her part in front of the cameras.

But the words that come out of Sophie’s mouth one morning on the doorstep of their country house are not the words the spin doctors put in there.  Bursting out of the restrictive mould she has been in since birth, Sophie flees to a place that was special to her as a child, a small village on the coast where she intends to be alone.

But once there, she finds she becomes part of a community that warms her soul and makes her feel as if she is breathing properly for the first time. Sophie knows she won’t be left in peace for long. Now she must decide: where does her real future lie?

My Review of The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew

Politician John’s wife Sophie the Trophy is about to make a life-changing decision.

One thing guaranteed when reading a Milly Johnson book is that the reader will finish it with a contented sigh that they have enjoyed a cracking story told with warmth and humour. The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew does exactly that, especially in the ‘Pom’ parts of the story. I so enjoyed it.

I loved the plot to The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew because it took me into realms of politics and the church that I rarely inhabit in a manner that left me intrigued and interested. I cared so much about what was happening in Sophie’s life that I found myself speaking aloud to her and making some choice (and unrepeatable) comments to some of the other characters; John and Len in particular. There’s one event that happens to Sophie during John’s political Machiavellian charm offensive tactics that left me reeling. I knew that whatever the outcome of the book I would never, ever, forgive him.

And it’s this element of characterisation that makes The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew so typical of Milly Johnson’s writing. She has the ability to write fiction that seems so completely real about people who leap from the page and ensnare the reader into their lives and hearts. I was desperate for Sophie to leave behind her gilded cage and to live and breathe as she deserved.

The setting of Little Loste is glorious. The sense of community spirit, the sea, Ells Bells and all the quirky inhabitants all made me want to move there immediately. The author understands perfectly the healing power of nature. More importantly, however, Milly Johnson showed me the importance of kindness, of being true to ourselves and of genuine altruism. In fact, it’s the themes of The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew that make it such a satisfying read. Amongst other aspects woven through the narrative are love and grief, selfishness and selflessness, politics and ambition, marriage and parenthood, education and nurture, fulfillment and denial, friendship and enmity so that as well as being a highly entertaining story about Sophie on one level, I found an almost philosophical depth too. I have a feeling that reading The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew might just make me a more community spirited person.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It seemed to have a deeper resonance than other of Milly Johnson’s books I’ve read and I really feel that The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew deserves to be read several times over so that all its nuances and joys can be fully discovered. It is warm, human and captivating. The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew is a perfect read.

About Milly Johnson


Milly Johnson was born, raised and still lives in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. As well as being a prolific author, she is also a copywriter for the greetings card industry, a joke-writer, a columnist, after dinner speaker, poet, BBC newspaper reviewer, and a sometimes BBC radio presenter.

She won the RoNA for Best Romantic Comedy Novel of 2014 and 2016 and the Yorkshire Society award for Arts and Culture 2015.

She writes about love, life, friendships and that little bit of the magic that sometimes crops up in real life. She likes owls, cats, meringues, handbags and literary gifts – but hates marzipan. She is very short.

You can follow Milly on Twitter @millyjohnson and Facebook.

Milly has an excellent website too where you can sign up for her brilliant monthly newsletter with exclusive, news, offers and competitions.

Dark Blossom by Neel Mullick

dark blossom

My grateful thanks to Ben at Cameron Publicity and Marketing for a copy of Dark Blossom by Neel Mullick in return for an honest review. Having loved my trip to India last year I’m delighted to be reviewing a book that gives 50% of its profits to IIMPACT, a charity that supports educational opportunities for girls from disadvantaged communities in India.

Dark Blossom was published on 14th February 2019 by Rupa and is available for purchase here.

Dark Blossom

dark blossom

Sam returns home from a business trip a day before his son’s thirteenth birthday and is looking forward to being with his family, when his world is cruelly shattered in one fell swoop.

Initially he thinks he can cope with the loss, but finally seeks the help of Cynthia, an experienced therapist, to regain his equipoise.

What he does not know is that Cynthia herself is trying to cope with a debilitating divorce and the sinister shadow of her ex-husband over her daughter…

What happens when doctor and patient find themselves in the same sinking boat? Moreover, when they are rowing in opposite directions–one clinging to the past, and the other unable to get rid of it!

In the midst of it all is Lily, Cynthia’s daughter, who harbours a secret that has the power to explode the lives around her.

Taut with tension and intensity, Dark Blossom is a glimpse of what lies under the surface of apparently ‘normal’ people.

My Review of Dark Blossom

Sam’s life is shattered and he seeks therapy from Cynthia to help him come to terms with recent events.

Well here’s a conundrum. Dark Blossom has left me totally unsure at to what I thought about it! It is an intense, intelligent book that raises more questions for me than it answers so that I have finished it feeling disturbed and unsettled. I don’t know if I can say I enjoyed the read, but I did find it utterly fascinating. Reading Dark Blossom is a bit like being in a lift with parallel mirrors that reflect an image within an image until your brain can’t cope any further.

The plot is deceptively simple, mostly revolving around Cynthia’s first person thoughts and her sessions with Sam. However, that doesn’t do the book justice as there are memories, conversations, emails and events that swirl and eddy making the reader a part of the story too as they are drawn in by Cynthia’s comments. I felt I was almost in a confessional hearing Cynthia’s story just as much as she is a counsellor listening to Sam. I found I couldn’t warm to Cynthia and reading Dark Blossom made me consider my own responses and personality as much as it made me think about the characters of Cynthia, Lily and Sam, because I felt I should have given Cynthia more sympathy.

There’s obfuscation, revelation and deception in this story making for a really thought provoking read. Themes of guilt, dissimulation, violence, relationships and redemption underpin the narrative so that I think there’s something that will resonate with every reader. I thought the iterative image of Gaudi running through was perfect (and it has had the effect of making me book a trip to Barcelona soon too). Gaudi’s work challenges and distorts reality and truth in much the same way as Neel Mullick does in Dark Blossom and I think it’s a perfect level of added texture for the book.

Despite contemplating the book for several days after having read it, I still don’t really know what I think to Dark Blossom. Never has a book floored me quite so much and I am quite perplexed. I do, however, think you should read Dark Blossom and decide for yourself!

About Neel Mullick

Neel Mullick

With degrees in software engineering from Carnegie Mellon, USA and business administration from INSEAD, France, Neel is the Head of Product and Information Security at a Belgian family-office technology company.

He mentors women entrepreneurs through the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women (UK), is involved in raising a generation of digital and socially aware leaders with the Steering for Greatness Foundation (Nigeria), and supports improvement in the quality of life of domestic workers at Emprendedoras del Hogar (Peru).

Spending his time across three continents, working with people from six, and having travelled to all seven, he firmly believes the solution to a rapidly fracturing world lies in peeling enough layers to discover the similarities, rather than judging on mere superficialities.

You can find out more about Neel by following him on Twitter @neelmullick and Instagram, visiting his website and finding him on Facebook.

Mr Todd’s Reckoning by Iain Maitland

Mr Todd

My enormous thanks to Ruth Killick Publicity for a copy of Mr Todd’s Reckoning by Iain Maitland in return for an honest review. I was thrilled to receive a copy as I thought Iain’s thriller Sweet William was sensational and you can read my review of that book here.

Mr Todd’s Reckoning will be published on 25th April by Contraband, the crime imprint of Saraband, and is available for purchase through the links here.

Mr Todd’s Reckoning

Mr Todd

Norman Bates is alive and well… He’s living just next door

Behind the normal door of a normal house, in a normal street, two men are slowly driving each other insane. One of them is a psychopath.

The father: Mr Todd is at his wits end. He’s been robbed of his job as a tax inspector and is now stuck at home… with him. Frustrated. Lonely. Angry. Really angry.

The son: Adrian has no job, no friends. He is at home all day, obsessively chopping vegetables and tap-tap-tapping on his computer. And he’s getting worse, disappearing for hours at a time, sneaking off to who-knows-where?

The unholy spirit: in the safety of suburbia, one man has developed a taste for killing. And he’ll kill again.

My Review of Mr Todd’s Reckoning

Malcolm Todd and son Adrian live in uneasy companionship.

I don’t really want to write a review of Mr Todd’s Reckoning because it is such a fabulous book I don’t think I’ll be able to do it justice.

Iain Maitland’s prose is sparse, gripping and mesmerising. The tension in Mr Todd’s Reckoning builds and builds so that I could hardly bear to glance away from the page in cased I missed a clue, a nuance, or a single superbly crafted syllable. I didn’t think Iain Maitland could surpass his debut, Sweet William, but although Mr Todd’s Reckoning is very different, it is equally as spellbinding and gripping. The plot races along with elements that surprise and shock, entertain and enthrall making for a heart thumpingly fabulous story.

Behind the compelling, dark and disturbing narrative is a brilliantly observed character in Mr Todd whose opinions and justifications are so wonderfully presented – especially with the wry humour that surfaces on occasion. Adrian too is depicted vividly with his obsessive behaviour and his run-ins with the police. Although one of these men is a psychopathic monster, both men engender understanding and pity in the reader which makes for a very interesting and somewhat disturbing read. The other more minor characters of Leon, Josie and Lily add to the atmosphere because the reader is never quite sure what the outcomes for them might be. A limited number of characters means there is a feeling of claustrophobia and menace that I felt in a visceral fashion.

The setting of an ordinary two bedroomed bungalow in suburbia is genius. Iain Maitland makes sublime use of the concept that none of us knows quite what goes on behind other people’s closed front doors so that the possibilities presented in Mr Todd’s Reckoning are quite terrifying. The stifling heat of the summer adds to the oppressive atmosphere so that the reader experiences the pressure-cooker tension with the characters.

I loved the blurring of morality, of what constitutes a crime, of the impact of nature and nurture and all the themes woven into this sparkling, mesmerising book. Mr Todd’s Reckoning is absolutely magnificent! Don’t hesitate to buy it. I thought it was amazing.

About Iain Maitland

Iain maitland

Iain Maitland is the author of Dear Michael, Love Dad (Hodder, 2016), a moving book of letters written to his son, who suffered from depression and anorexia. Iain is an ambassador for Stem4, the teenage mental health charity, and gives regular talks about mental health issues in the workplace. A writer since 1987, he is a journalist and has written more than 50 books, mainly on business, which have been published around the world.

Find Iain Maitland on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @iainmaitland and visit his website for more information.

Amazing Grace by Kim Nash


I know, I know! I’m not taking on new blog tours, but…

Lovely Kim Nash, author of Amazing Grace, is a friend and I couldn’t resist taking part with another friend Rachel, of Rachel’s Random Resources, organising the blog tour!

Published by Hera on 10th April 2019, Amazing Grace is available for purchase on KoboAppleAmazon UK and Amazon US.

Amazing Grace


She’s taking her life back, one step at a time…

Grace thought she had it all. Living in the beautiful village of Little Ollington, along with head teacher husband Mark and gorgeous son, Archie, she devoted herself to being the perfect mum and the perfect wife, her little family giving her everything she ever wanted.

Until that fateful day when she walked in on Mark kissing his secretary – and her perfect life fell apart.

Now she’s a single mum to Archie, trying to find her way in life and keep things together for his sake. Saturday nights consist of a Chinese takeaway eaten in front of the TV clad in greying pyjamas, and she can’t remember the last time she had a kiss from anyone aside from her dog, Becks…

Grace’s life needs a shake up – fast. So when gorgeous gardener Vinnie turns up on her doorstep, his twinkling eyes suggesting that he might be interested in more than just her conifers, she might just have found the answer to her prayers. But as Grace falls deeper for Vinnie, ten-year-old Archie fears that his mum finding love means she’ll never reconcile with the dad he loves.

So when ex-husband Mark begs her for another chance, telling her he’s changed from the man that broke her heart, Grace finds herself with an impossible dilemma. Should she take back Mark and reunite the family that Archie loves? Or risk it all for a new chance of happiness?

A funny, feel good romance about finding your own path and changing your life for the better – readers of Cathy Bramley, Jill Mansell and Josie Silver will love this uplifting read.

My Review of Amazing Grace

Grace balances single motherhood and her job in an estate agents with her personal hopes and dreams.

Oh what a lovely, romantic and uplifting story. I so enjoyed Amazing Grace because Kim Nash writes from the heart and understands exactly the anxieties, self-doubts and challenges all women can relate to. Grace is a universal Everywoman and it was a delight to meet her. I genuinely feel that reading Grace’s story has given me more self confidence and appreciation of my own life and I find it hard to think of any woman I know unable to find an aspect of themselves in Grace’s personality. Kim Nash manages to say exactly what every woman has thought at some point in their lives and she does it with enormous warmth, humanity and sensitivity.

I loved the way in which Kim Nash shows through Vinnie that not all men are lying, manipulative, charlatans. Mark, on the other hand, I could quite cheerfully have hit very hard with a blunt object. He made my blood boil and I thought his casual treatment of Archie was unforgivable. As for Monica – we all need a Monica in our lives! All the characters felt like real people whom any one of us might have in our lives so that reading Amazing Grace made me feel as if I belong.

There’s a smashing plot to Amazing Grace too. It made such a refreshing change to leave aside twisting psychopathic killers or high octane thrillers and read a story about an ordinary woman with an everyday lifestyle written with honesty, emotion and a considerable amount of humour! I sniggered along when Grace made a fool of herself, rejoiced when Grace stood up for herself and shed a quiet tear several times when she thought about her Mum.

Although Amazing Grace is what might be termed chicklit or a light read, there are several meaningful themes explored throughout. For example, several characters are experiencing grief, Archie is on the cusp of adolescence and isn’t always able to deal with life, Grace needs to realise she alone is responsible for her own happiness, and aspects of love, family, ambition and friendship are all presented sympathetically and authentically in a way that touches the reader’s heart.

I’m really hoping Amazing Grace isn’t the last we hear about Grace. I’d like to know what happens to her after the end of the book and I certainly don’t believe Monica has finished dishing out advice just yet! Amazing Grace is a smashing story and I really recommend it. I thought it was warm, funny and uplifting. I’m glad I’ve had it in my life.

About Kim Nash


Kim Nash lives in Staffordshire with son Ollie and English Setter Roni, is PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture and is a book blogger at Kim The Bookworm.

Kim won the Romantic Novelists Association’s Media Star of the Year in 2016, which she still can’t quite believe. She is now quite delighted to be a member of the RNA.

When she’s not working or writing, Kim can be found walking her dog, reading, standing on the sidelines of a football pitch cheering on Ollie and binge watching box sets on the TV. She’s also quite partial to a spa day and a gin and tonic (not at the same time!) Kim also runs a book club in Cannock, Staffs.

You can find out more by finding Kim on FacebookInstagram and following her on Twitter @KimTheBookworm.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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The Trouble With Rose by Amita Murray

The trouble with rose

My enormous thanks to the lovely folk at Harper Collins for a surprise copy of The Trouble With Rose by Amita Murray in return for an honest review.

The Trouble With Rose is available in e-book and for paperback pre-order through the publisher links here.

The Trouble With Rose

The trouble with rose

A missing sister. A broken heart.
A whole lot of trouble…

Rilla is getting married. Except she isn’t. She’s running away – from her confused fiancé Simon, her big mad family, and the memories nipping at her heels.

Her sister Rose would know what to do in such times of crisis.

But the trouble is, Rose is the crisis. She disappeared years ago, and Rilla’s heart went missing too.

Where is Rose? And who is Rilla without Rose?

If she’s to rescue some happiness out of all this chaos, she needs to find out.

My Review of The Trouble With Rose

Rilla is about to marry Simon, but events may not go according to plan.

I have a confession. I wasn’t especially interested in reading The Trouble With Rose and the only reason I did read it was because it was quite physically light and I needed to reduce the weight of books in my suitcase on a recent holiday! This ridiculous attitude just goes to show how wrong a person can be. I absolutely loved Amita Murray’s funny, touching narrative with a family mystery at its centre.

The Trouble With Rose is plotted perfectly so that whilst Rose’s absence is at the heart of the action, her presence is felt through every facet of Rilla’s life and personality. I was as desperate to know what happened to Rose as was Rilla.

Amita Murray writes in a style that is effortless to read. This isn’t to say it is lightweight or superficial but rather that at times her descriptions are beautifully wrought and her ability to convey Rilla’s feelings and emotions through the first person narrative is faultless. It felt as if Rilla was my friend and was speaking directly to me. There is also a sparkling wit, especially in the passages relating to Rilla’s extended family that made me laugh aloud with recognition at times.

I thought Rilla was a triumph. With Rose gone her feelings of stasis and guilt render her unable to fulfil her potential. As the totally apt cover suggests, Rilla is unbalanced and without Rose feels incomplete. At times she is her own worse enemy which makes her even more realistic and endearing.

Whilst The Trouble With Rose can be enjoyed as a highly entertaining light read, Amita Murray has woven in wonderful themes of identity, ethnicity, family, relationships, guilt and love so that there is real depth for those wanting it too. I thought it was a perfect read.

Having begun relatively disinterested in reading The Trouble With Rose, I have finished the book feeling thoroughly entertained, emotionally engaged and desperate to know what happens next in Rilla’s life. This is a totally smashing book from Amita Murray that I really recommend. I loved it.

About Amita Murray

Amita Murray has worked as a dancer, arts writer, fashion editor, seller of Christmas flowers, PR assistant for supercomputers, counsellor for a jobs website and hen party host. She was working as an academic when she did what you’re never supposed to do – she left her day job to try to become a novelist.

Even when she tries to write serious stuff, it tends to come out a bit funny, so she tries not to write about serial killers. She loves chocolate, dysfunctional families, and world peace. She blogs for the Huffington Post. Her short stories have been published in Brand, Inkspill, Front View, and other platforms.

You can follow Amita on Twitter @AmitaMurray and visit her blog for further information.

Why Mummy Swears by Gill Sims

why Mummy Swears

I so enjoyed Gill Sims’ Why Mummy Drinks, reviewed here, that I was delighted to be given the chance to read Why Mummy Swears and would like to thank the publishers for the opportunity.

Published by Harper Collins, Why Mummy Swears is available for purchase in all formats through these links.

Why Mummy Swears

why Mummy Swears

Monday, 25 July
The first day of the holidays. I suppose it could’ve been worse. I brightly announced that perhaps it might be a lovely idea to go to a stately home and learn about some history. As soon as we got there I remembered why I don’t use the flipping National Trust membership – because National Trust properties are full of very precious and breakable items, and very precious and breakable items don’t really mix with children, especially not small boys. 
Where I had envisaged childish faces glowing with wonder as they took in the treasures of our nation’s illustrious past, we instead had me shouting ‘Don’t touch, DON’T TOUCH, FFS DON’T TOUCH!” while stoutly shod pensioners tutted disapprovingly and drafted angry letters to the Daily Mail in their heads.
How many more days of the holiday are there?

Welcome to Mummy’s world…

The Boy Child Peter is connected to his iPad by an umbilical cord, The Girl Child Jane is desperate to make her fortune as an Instagram lifestyle influencer, while Daddy is constantly off on exotic business trips…

Mummy’s marriage is feeling the strain, her kids are running wild and the house is steadily developing a forest of mould. Only Judgy, the Proud and Noble Terrier, remains loyal as always.

Mummy has also found herself a new challenge, working for a hot new tech start-up. But not only is she worrying if, at forty-two, she could actually get up off a bean bag with dignity, she’s also somehow (accidentally) rebranded herself as a single party girl who works hard, plays hard and doesn’t have to run out when the nanny calls in sick.

Can Mummy keep up the facade while keeping her family afloat? Can she really get away with wearing ‘comfy trousers’ to work? And, more importantly, can she find the time to pour herself a large G+T?

Probably effing not.

My Review of Why Mummy Swears

Ellen Russell’s moppets, Peter and Jane, are growing up, but life hasn’t changed much!

Oh dear. I really shouldn’t read Gill Sims in public places as I am in danger of getting myself arrested or sectioned. People tend to look askance when you’re literally crying with laughter and, just like Why Mummy Drinks, Why Mummy Swears reduced me to a giggling, snorting heap so that I couldn’t read on because of the tears of laughter in my eyes. Once again my own long suffering version of Simon had to wait patiently whilst I pulled myself together enough to read him the passage that had just had me sniggering like a lunatic. It doesn’t matter at all if a reader hasn’t previously encountered Ellen’s life in Why Mummy Drinks before reading Why Mummy Swears because the references to the first book are seamlessly woven into this story.

Gill Sims understands family, marriage and parenting dynamics completely and through Ellen’s comments is able to present what all of us might have felt or experienced at some point. The first person narrative made me wish I could meet Ellen and talk through some of her ideas, thoughts and opinions with her. At times I felt she had looked inside my mind and then articulated my thoughts far more eloquently than I could ever have managed. Although I don’t have children, I found Ellen’s honest descriptions of Peter and Jane and her relationship with them truly entertaining.

Why Mummy Swears has a sparkling wit and a fast pace through the different dated entries as a complete year in Ellen’s life passes. Very frequently Ellen uses dreadful language (the clue is in the title) but not once does it feel inappropriate because it is the basis of so much humour as well as the result of her frustration which makes her so very human and believable.

Whilst Why Mummy Swears can be enjoyed (and my goodness I enjoyed it) as a very funny and entertaining read, Gill Sim’s consideration of the role of women in the home and work place is clever and thought provoking. She skilfully reveals the way sexist attitudes from both men and women perpetuate and I’d love to see both genders reading this book and pondering how they might respond in the different scenarios.

I loved Why Mummy Swears. Making me laugh aloud is no easy task and Gill Sims did it splendidly.

About Gill Simms

Gill simms

Gill Sims is the author and illustrator of the hugely successful parenting blog and Facebook site ‘Peter and Jane’. She lives in Scotland with her husband, two children and a recalcitrant rescue Border Terrier, who rules the house. Gill’s interests include drinking wine, wasting time on social media, trying and failing to recapture her lost youth and looking for the dog when he decides to go on one of his regular jaunts.

You’ll find Gill on Twitter @whymummydrinks, and can visit Gill’s Peter and Jane Facebook page or read her blog.