Should I Tell You? By Jill Mansell Review (Random Things Tours)

Today dear reader I am on the blog tour for Should I Tell You? (Published by Headline on 9 June 2022) By Jill Mansell. A big thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to read and review, always appreciated. Also to the lovely Anne for the invite to take part, always a pleasure to work with.

Should I Tell You?

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Amber, Lachlan and Raffaele met as teenagers in the seaside home of kind-hearted foster parents. Arriving in glorious Cornwall was the best thing that ever happened to them – and now, as adults, their bond is stronger than ever.

But Amber has a secret. She’s in love with Lachlan. She can’t confess her feelings because that would never work. Restless Lachlan dates a lot and definitely isn’t the settling-down type. Surely it’s better to keep him as a friend than to risk losing him for good?

Raffaele has his own dilemma. He had the dream girlfriend in Vee, until it all went horribly wrong . . . and he still can’t understand why. Is Vee hiding something from him?

Now their widowed foster dad Teddy thinks he’s found love again. Younger, charming and strikingly beautiful, is Olga as perfect as she seems? Or will she end up breaking Teddy’s heart?

Against a backdrop of sparkling seas and sunny skies, the unexpected is always just around the corner. Welcome to Lanrock!

About The Author

Jill Mansell is the author of over twenty Sunday Times bestsellers including The One You Really Want and Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay. Take a Chance on Me won the RNA’s Romantic Comedy Prize, and in 2015 the RNA presented Jill with an outstanding achievement award.

Jill started writing fiction while working in the field of Clinical Neurophysiology in the NHS, but now writes full time. She lives in Bristol with her family.

My Review

The narrative follows mostly Amber, Lachlan and Raffaele who all share a strong bond as they were all raised by foster parents Teddy and May. Years later after they have all grown up and left the confined comforts of their Cornish seaside home Lanrock, they still remain friends. Amber and Lachlan came back home after a few years and both have jobs they are passionate about. Amber works at Lanrock Glass and Lachlan works in a restaurant slicing and dicing to his heart’s content. Now Raffaele is joining them as he has recently brought a barber’s shop and plans to set up his own salon. A plan he hopes will help heal his broken heart after the breakdown of his relationship with Vee. The three musketeers are reunited and just in time as Teddy, their foster dad has come back from a long cruise with a new, glamorous girlfriend in the form of Olga. She loves high end fashion and money which sets alarm bells ringing for the three. They fear Teddy will be strung along and left broken hearted. Does Olga truly love Teddy? Will Amber and Lachlan finally admit their feelings for each other? And will Raffaele find out the real reason Vee left him when they were perfect for each other?

The setting for this story was a beauty to absorb. The gentle sounds of the waves, the colourful sunsets against a calm sea as chips and fish were devoured. It was bliss. I could feel the sand between my toes and fell in love with Lanrock. I didn’t want to leave. I loved every second.

The dynamics of the characters worked brilliantly. Amber is secretly in love with Lachlan and in turn Lachlan thinks the world of Amber. But neither will tell the other in fear that it will ruin their friendship. Lachlan is also not the settling down type as he is focused on his career and doesn’t commit or have relationships. I could feel so much tension whenever these two characters were together on the page. The yearning and desire to be together was intense. I found myself screaming at the page for them to just kiss already.

I adore the mixture of characters that you are always bound to meet in a Mansell book. They help bring the book alive and make sure that you have a good time during your stay. They make you smile, laugh and cry while making you feel a sense of belonging that welcomes you with warm comforting arms. It’s a feeling I will never, never grow tried of. How could I? I always find myself smiling so much when reading a Mansell book that my face aches when I finish. And I am always sad to leave. 

I give Should I Tell You? By Jill Mansell a Five out of Five paw rating

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You are always, always guaranteed great company when you embark upon a Mansell book. I laughed, I cried and I fell in love with the beauty that is Lanrock. I plan on visiting again, very, very soon.

Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below, enjoy!

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Fish Swimming In Dappled Sunlight By Riku Onda Review (Random Things Tours)  

Today dear reader I am on the blog tour for Fish Swimming In Dappled Sunlight (June 16 2022)  By Riku Onda. A big thank you to the publishers Bitter Lemon Press for sending me a copy to read and review, always appreciated. Also to the wonderful Anne for the invite to take part in the tour, always a pleasure to work with.

Fish Swimming In Dappled Sunlight

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Set in Tokyo over the course of one night, Aki and Hiro have decided to be together one last time in their shared flat before parting. Their relationship has broken down after a mountain trek during which their guide died inexplicably. Now each believes the other to be a murderer and is determined to extract a confession before the night is over. Who is the murderer and what really happened on the mountain? In the battle of wills between them, the chain of events leading up to this night are gradually revealed in a gripping psychological thriller that keeps the reader in suspense to the very end.

About The Author

Riku Onda, born in 1964, has been writing fiction since 1991 and has published prolifically since. She has won the Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers, the Japan Booksellers’ Award, the Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize and the Naoki Prize. Her work has been adapted for film and television.

My Review

Over the course of one night in Tokyo secrets and lies are slowly unravelled as Aki and Hiro spend one last night in their flat before going their separate ways in the morning. After going away together on a mountain trek their relationship fell apart after their guide died tragically. Both Aki and Hiro strongly believe that the other one is the murderer and are determined to get a confession before the end of the night. What really happened up on the mountain that lead to an innocent man’s death? Who can you trust?

The narrative follows both Aki and Hiro, told in first person, allowing the reader to see through their eyes, their version of events leading up to the guide’s unfortunate death. They both assume the other is the killer, latching onto the smallest of details to convince themselves to be true. They set traps and collect evidence while waiting for the other to confess. It’s an interesting concept to follow as both characters are adamant that they are innocent, so it must be the other. This makes them unreliable to the reader as they are unsure of who to trust leading them to feel similarly towards Aki and Hiro, one of them must have done it, but who? As the plot thickens, shocking and disturbing truths are uncovered that will leave your jaw hanging to the floor. I was flabbergasted dear reader. I did not see that coming. 

Both characters tell themselves that they are ready for this, that the false peace they have managed to maintain is beginning to crack and they need answers before morning. Onda traps you with them, only when the truth is revealed are you allowed to walk free.

Aki and Hiro are fascinating characters to follow. When you learn the truth about these two you will question everything you have discovered. Aki feels like she is on quicksand and constantly on edge. She can’t help but be suspicious of Hiro and look for evidence. Hiro needs answers, he wants to find a satisfactory explanation for the guide’s death so he can file it away and be done with it.

As the evening begins the couple do their best to keep up appearances by making trivial conversation, eating dinner and drinking beer. They are waiting for the right moment to begin and the tension is suffocating. Onda masterfully creates an atmosphere where there is nowhere left to hide. The apartment is bare and open. Only a suitcase sits between them which they use as a makeshift table. Both characters are silently waiting to pounce, to catch the other of guard and strike. They need to talk about what really happened on the mountain so they can move on with their lives. You find yourself questioning everything they say, are they lying, telling the truth? More questions than answers fill your head as you become entangled in this web of deceit that will leave you on the edge of your seat.

I give Fish Swimming In Dappled Sunlight By Riku Onda a Four out of Five paw rating.

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The paranoia and suspicion is thick throughout this book it will keep you in suspense from start to finish. You will find yourself doubting everything you thought you knew and suspecting everyone. I was on edge the whole time.

Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below, enjoy!

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Machine Journey By Richard Doyle Review (Kenyon Author Services Blog Tours)

Today dear reader I am reviewing Machine Journey (Published paperback – 23 Mar. 2022) By Richard Doyle. A big thank you to Isabelle from Kenyon Author Services for sending me a copy to read and review, always appreciated.       

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Machine Journey

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Machine Journey is a pamphlet of prose poems and flash fictions. Travel the road from Slough to Mars. Discover wild visions, strange tales and machine futures. Scramble your way to the perfect swimming stroke. Doyle leads us through museums, galleries and cobbled towns with a touch of Science Fiction and dark humour…

About the Author

Richard Doyle is an old-school SF fan who began writing seriously in 2001. He has a Diploma in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and collaborated on a book in 2006. He has had poems published in the UK poetry magazines Orbis and Sarasvati and is a regular member of the Bristol Stanza Poetry Group. His debut pamphlet “The death of the sentence” was published in 2020. Two of his poems appear in the Bristol Stanza pamphlet “The Weather Indoors” (2021).

My Review

Prepare to travel to the depths of space, galaxies far and wide, mysteries unknown, oh and the streets of Slough. Discover a collection of prose poems and flash fictions within this pamphlet dear reader that will give you cause for pause.

These poems make the reader think and have a sci-fi feel to them. They speak of stone computers and the trouble with spaceships. Doyle adds a dash of humour to keep things lighthearted, one must never take oneself too seriously in this day and age.

In Music on her Mind a batch of CDs are being sold on Gumtree for £20,000. The poem speaks of how since the Blackout the demand for original music recordings has shot through the roof. The seller wishes to be rid of them, they have been tampered with and could not be restored. The seller would have to visit an AI clinic to sort out the mess. It takes the reader back to the times before digital music was a thing, everything was on vinyl, cassette or CDs, and allows them to envision a future where music is no longer a comfort but a tool to earn money. A scary comparison to how the music industry today is quickly becoming a numbers game where the music is just a tangled mess.

I enjoyed The Stone Computer as it made me think about how much our lives revolve around a screen. How our fast typing is like music in ways and asking ourselves why did we spend so many hours staring into the luminous void. Because dear reader when you think about it, if you take away the content that is being shown on the screen, we are just gazing into a screen, zombified. We are free to leave our computers whenever we want but there is always that urge to stay. To resist leaving a little longer, we become addicted to it. Doyle shows the reader how in the future devices such as computers, iPhones, will be on display in museums much like typewriters and the like are. It is strange to think that future generations will look back and wonder what we found so wonderful on the blank screen in front of us, why we spend hours upon hours devoted to it rather than living in the moment. It baffles me now dear reader, we all need to limit our screen time for our mental health.

Doyle explores themes of the human condition in The Perfect Stroke. The poem dives into how the best thing about swimming is that sense of freedom you feel. You have no clothes, money or shoes and work is far from your mind. It’s just you and the water. This poem plunges into how swimming is the connection with our ancient past, that our bodies were meant to swim. It’s fascinating to read and makes you think about evolution and how we once had webbed hands and feet. It boggles the mind but is a interesting place to discover.

I give Machine Journey By Richard Doyle a Four out of Five paw rating.

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Alluring and intriguing Doyle takes you on a journey of wild visions and strange tales that will leave you with all the questions.

Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below, enjoy!

Machine Journey Blog Tour

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M is for Mummy By Katy Cox Review (Random Things Tours)

Today dear reader I am on the blog tour for M is for Mummy (Published 5 May 2022) By Katy Cox. A big thank you to the publishers Corvus for sending me a copy to read and review, always appreciated. Also to the lovely Anne for the invite to take part in the tour, you are a joy to work with and make being a part of this community wonderful.

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M is for Mummythumbnail_M is for Mummy Cover

Your family doesn’t fit the mould. So what?

Lucy had it all: an exciting career, a rock-star husband, great friends, a size ten waist, and pelvic floor muscles that could crack a walnut. And then, she had kids.

Since giving birth to her second child, Lucy’s life is totally unrecognisable. A ‘flab-alanche’ hangs over the top of her jeans, the romance in her marriage is officially dead and so is the career it took her years to build. Instead of playing the cello behind superstars at packed-out arenas, Lucy now spends most days mopping up broccoli vomit whilst listening to her four-year-old recite tedious facts about the gall bladder.

M is for Mummy is a frank and funny story about a unique family who don’t quite fit in to any mould in society, and about a mother doing everything she can to help her extraordinary son find his place in an ordinary world.

About The Author

Katy Cox is a classically trained cellist who has performed with some of the music industry’s biggest names including Michael Bublé, Elton John, Bryan Ferry, and Take That. After having her first child, her touring life was put on hold, and she started blogging as an alternative creative outlet. Her illustrated comedy blog Carry on Katy was born and was shortlisted for the BritMums Brilliance in Blogging award for two consecutive years. Katy is a mother of two autistic sons and lives in Wales with her husband. M is for Mummy is her first book.

My Review

The pressure to be the perfect mum and have it all is exhausting. You can’t escape it, the endless feeds on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram of ‘perfect’ mums having their sh*t together is overwhelming. Endless photos of clean houses with not a toy in sight, glamorous hair and make up on the school run with a Starbucks in hand and well-dressed children that behave and are well mannered. LIES! Oh the lies. As any real mum knows, that is all fake. Our houses are never tidy for long as they constantly look like a tornado has passed through. The school run is always a mad dash of messy hair accompanied by the latest set of panda eyes we earned from lack of sleep. And our children? Getting them out the door fully dressed with their shoes on the right feet is a big success, one that should always be celebrated. This is the real face of motherhood dear reader, this book tells it like it is. I LOVED every second!

There was a time when Lucy used to be playing the cello behind superstars at packed out arenas. A time where her and her husband Ed still had a sex life and she had a social life. But since she has had children, everything has changed. Now her days are filled with cleaning up puke from baby Jack and listening to facts about the gall bladder from her four year old Stanley. Life has become stale and she feels it is time she takes back control of her marriage, her career and to help Stanley find his place in this world as he is an extraordinary child.

From the moment I started reading I was laughing out loud, seriously. Cox doesn’t hold back and writes with a glorious, refreshing sense of humour when it comes to parenting. From an amusing ‘sexy’ scene with a dishwasher and dirty pan to Lucy being gaffa taped into a size 6 corset while having her whole body sprayed in glitter, I couldn’t stop laughing. I loved how real and honest this book is. Lucy doesn’t shy away from the truth with how much her life has changed since she has had children. She calls her vagina The Predator and her gut a flabalanche. Nothing is the same after childbirth, nothing!

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The struggles that Lucy faces with having a baby and a four year old who is autistic are extremely relatable to any parent who is going through the same experience. She has a lot of patience for Stanley and knows his triggers. He will say “Excuse me” instead of calling her “Mummy” and is very intelligent for his age. He can recite the alphabet backwards and tells her facts about the human body. There are many heart warming scenes where the bond between Lucy and Stanley brings a tear to your eye. She is a remarkable mother, a woman who goes above and beyond for her children. Lucy makes you feel less alone in any parenting struggles and inspires you to keep going as she often focuses on the good days over the bad. She reminds the reader that they are always worth it.

Lucy often feels guilty for wishing to focus on her career and misses her cello playing days. Her husband Ed is often off touring and playing his guitar behind the likes of Josh Groban on TV while she is at home making sure she serves Stanley his dinner correctly, otherwise all hell will break loose. I admired how Lucy doesn’t pretend that everything is ok, she faces the tantrums, the meltdowns head on and deals with them. She gets on with it as her main and only focus is always her children. She is an inspiration to a lot of mothers and she doesn’t even know it.

You grow attached to Lucy and by the end of the book see her as one of your friends. You cheer her on as she starts to get bookings again either solo or with her two friends Charlie and Jen, the Vixen Trio. She is more than ready to get back out there and remind her fingers that they are still highly skilled in playing some Mozart and not smearing Sudocrem on tiny bums. But her mind still wanders back to her family, her boys and it’s touching to read. Away from the glitz and the glamour of working on fashion shows she comes home to a beautiful scene of her family, calm and peaceful and shows the reader that beauty is everywhere. Her family are everything to her. I melted at moments like this, it makes you realise what is important in life and pulls at your heartstrings. You can’t help it as it is endearing to read.

Lucy also struggles with her body image since having children as all mothers do. Anyone who disagrees is in complete denial. Our bodies go through a lot, pregnancy, birth and then recovery. Of course they are going to change, it’s only human, but it doesn’t mean we have to like it. Lucy doesn’t feel sexy or desired as she feels she has piled the weight on and looks more like a hippo then a sultry fox next to her vixen friends. With a little encouragement from her friends they all go bra shopping in hopes she will relight the fire with her husband. This results in a hilarious scene where her boobs are transported to her back. My stomach ached from my laughing as I can highly relate to such a mishap. Just another example of the side-splitting scenes that are featured in this book. Amazing!

I give M is for Mummy By Katy Cox a Five out of Five paw rating

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My face still hurts from laughing. There are so many hilarious and might I add very detailed scenes in this book that will have you in hysterics. But there are also a lot of heartwarming moments that will have you in tears at the beauty of Lucy’s relationships with her little family.

Cox shows how life isn’t always perfect. Children will not tick every box or reach every milestone within a set time limit, they are kids. And each and every one will learn and do things to their own time. Not by a set of rules and list by a health visitor. That’s not life. Life is messy and unpredictable. You learn to adapt and adjust and Cox shows the reader that, hey it’s ok. You will figure it out in your own time, your own way. You have got this. Every parent needs this book in their life.

Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below, enjoy!

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A Tidy Ending By Joanna Cannon Review (Random Things Tours)  

Today dear reader I am on the blog tour for A Tidy Ending (Published 28 April 2022) By Joanna Cannon. A big thank you to the publishers The Borough Press for sending me a copy to read and review, always appreciated. Also to the wonderful Anne for the invite to take part in the blog tour, you make being a part of this community amazing.

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A Tidy Ending

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A NICE, NORMAL HOUSE

Linda has lived around here ever since she fled the dark events of her childhood in Wales. Now she sits in her kitchen, wondering if this is all there is – pushing the Hoover round and cooking fish fingers for tea is a far cry from the glamorous lifestyle she sees in the glossy catalogues coming through the door for the house’s previous occupant.

A NICE, NORMAL HUSBAND

Terry isn’t perfect – he picks his teeth, tracks dirt through the house and spends most of his time in front of the TV. But that seems fairly standard – until he starts keeping odd hours at work, at around the same time young women start to go missing in the neighbourhood.

A NICE, NORMAL LIFE…

If Linda could just track down Rebecca, who lived in the house before them, maybe some of that perfection would rub off on her. But the grass isn’t always greener: you can’t change who you really are, and there’s something nasty lurking behind the net curtains on Cavendish Avenue…

About The Author

Joanna Cannon graduated from Leicester Medical School and worked as a hospital doctor, before specialising in psychiatry. Her novels, The Trouble With Goats and Sheep and Three Things About Elsie, were both Sunday Times bestsellers and Richard and Judy picks. Her new novel, A Tidy Ending, was published in April 2022. She lives in the Peak District with her dog, Lewis.

My Review

A serial killer is on the loose, the Hexford Strangler is killing innocent young women. These murders are only a few miles away from where Linda and her husband Terry live and are all over the TV, newspapers, everywhere, wherever you go people are talking about them. There is a difference in the air, back doors are kept locked and the streets are empty. People are scared as they begin to slowly realise that a killer lives among them. But who? They have no idea how close to death they all sleep. This book will consume you dear reader as you find yourself holding your breath in antici….pation of the truth. Who is hiding in the shadows waiting to strike? 

The narrative follows Linda and the events that lead up to the Now chapters. It is never clear where Linda is in the Now chapters, only hints of possibly a special hospital or a psychiatric ward. No one knows who she is or why she is there. The reader is left to their own devices to solve the riddle. It is only at the end that all is revealed and your jaw is hanging to the floor. It’s a twist you don’t see coming and leaves a chill down your spine.

The reader learns that before her Now Linda is deeply unhappy in her marriage, her life. She spends most of her free time cleaning the house and works part-time at a charity shop. She has no friends and her only family is her mother who is constantly criticising her. She loves doing her crosswords as they keep her mind sharp and makes her think about how everything else fits together because you can’t answer one clue without considering all the others. She appears to be a devoted wife to Terry by having his dinner ready when he comes home from work but watches him eat to remind herself of how miserable she is. Terry begins to work odd hours at the tyre factory as the murders start happening but Linda isn’t too bothered by this as it means less of him being in the house. She can clean and listen to loud music without the annoyance of his presence. They have been married a long time, have no children and live more like roommates than husband and wife. When he kisses her on the cheek it feels more like a handshake to Linda. There’s no passion or desire there, it’s long dead. Then one day a clothing catalogue changes everything. It is addressed to the previous owner, Rebecca Finch. Linda instantly feels a strong connection. The catalogue is filled with glamorous people she used to think she could be and looks more like the life she should be living. She loves the feel of it in her hands and imagines herself in the photos, a life with no gaps or empty seats, no room left for misery. After another two more catalogues show up she starts to become a little obsessed with who the previous owner was. Linda and Terry only moved into the house a couple of weeks ago, it was the same estate they were previously on, just a different house. Linda hoped it would be a chance for a different life and to leave anything old behind them. But alas she soon found they were having the same discussions and unspoken rituals. Only difference was it was now in front of an unfamiliar wallpaper. Linda finds herself being both parts of the conversation when she talks to Terry. Their relationship is strained as Terry never believes a word she says and often warns her about getting into one of her states calling her ‘hysterical’. Linda quickly makes it her mission to find Rebecca, to discover what her life is really like and holds high hopes of them becoming friends. She has a lot of plans for Rebecca dear reader and boy are you going to want to find out what those are.

What I really enjoyed about this book was the complexity of Linda. Cannon has created a character with a vast number of layers and peels back just enough to reel the reader in. The reader can ether relate or sympathise with Linda and instantly take pity on her unfortunate life. Linda is lonely, has no social life and dreams up scenarios where she would go for coffee with someone who she just met. She is desperate for a friend, a best friend to have imaginary chats with where she would throw her head back in laughter at a joke. There are moments when Linda is interacting with other characters you can sense the uncomfortable tension, the awkwardness. Linda doesn’t appear to see it and comes off as a little intense. There’s enough evidence to support her behaviour to others but you start to wonder what happened to her to make her this way. Linda is unlike any character I have come across and she left me bewildered, scared but intrigued.

I give A Tidy Ending By Joanna Cannon a Five out of Five paw rating

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Highly addictive! You should never judge a book by its cover, the same goes for people.

I was left shouting NO! WHAT! OH MY GOD! I was in complete shock as I finished this book. My blood ran cold. I am so glad I got to read this, it has left me in a state of confusion and denial for days. You HAVE to read it to believe it! I did not see THAT coming!

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925898b903a4d9182622fda48f870f66_welcome-to-our-room-with-a-twitter-logo-clipart-png_1139-926@JoannaCannon

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The Attic Child Lola Jaye Review (Random Things Tours)

Today I am on the blog tour for The Attic Child (Published 28th April 2022) By Lola Jaye. A big thank you to the publishers Macmillan for sending me a copy to read and review, always appreciated. Also to the wonderful Anne for the invite, always a pleasure to work with.

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The Attic Child

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Two children separated by almost a century, bound by a secret…

1907: Twelve-year-old Celestine spends most of his time locked in an attic room of a large house by the sea. Taken from his homeland and treated as an unpaid servant, he dreams of his family in Africa even if, as the years pass, he struggles to remember his mother’s face, and sometimes his real name.

Almost a century later, Lowra, a young orphan girl born into wealth and privilege, will find herself banished to the same attic. Lying under the floorboards of the room is an old porcelain doll, an unusual beaded claw necklace and, most curiously, a sentence etched on the wall behind an old cupboard, written in an unidentifiable language. Artefacts that will offer her a strange kind of comfort, and lead her to believe that she was not the first child to be imprisoned there . . .

About The Author

Lola Jaye is an author and registered psychotherapist. She was born and raised in London and has lived in Nigeria and the United States. She has a degree in Psychology and a Masters in Psychotherapy and Counselling. She has contributed to the sequel to the bestseller Lean In, penned by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and has also written for the Huffington Post, CNN, Essence, HuffPost and the BBC. She is a member of the Black Writers’ Guild and the author of five previous novels. The Attic Child is her first epic historical novel.

My Review

Told in three parts the narrative follows Celestine and Lowra. Two people who are separated by decades but both have one thing in common, the torment of having being forced to live in the attic at 109 Ranklin Road. From the moment you begin reading Jaye sets the tone for the darkness and trauma that is to come.

The narrative switches back and forth from the early 1900’s to the 1990’s. In the 1900’s the reader follows Celestine, who is taken from his home, the Congo, by Sir Richard an explorer, to live with him as a companion in England. He is to become an English gentleman as he learns to read, write and attends school. However things change take a turn for the worse and Celestine finds himself beaten, face down on the cold, hard floorboards of the dark attic. 

In the 1990’s the reader follows Lowra, who is working as a catering assistant at the university café. She despises her boss Mr. Rice who pronounces her name incorrectly on purpose to provoke a reaction. She isolates herself from others, having no friends and spends most evenings in front of the tv as the noise drowns out her thoughts. She is alone and finds there is a safety in keeping to herself. She isn’t like other young girls her age, doesn’t go out or buy make-up and fancy clothes. Lowra wants to feel something, anything and doesn’t feel like she is actually participating in any sort of real life. She has no idea of who she has become. Her past stalks her. The memories of the attic still fresh in her mind.

Lowra’s past, like Celestine’s is a dark one filled with secrets and suffering. She grew up in 109 Ranklin Road for the first few years of her life with a loving mother and father, and for a time she was happy. She has one photograph of the three of them, her mother, father and herself. She often thinks about what could have been if only they had both lived. After her mother died everything changed. The attic became her prison.

It is a phone call that forces Lowra to return to the horrors of her childhood. Nina, her stepmother has passed away and the estate has been left to Lowra. As Lowra finds herself standing outside number 109 with the two lion statues snarling at her she has no idea of the journey she is about to embark upon. She is terrified of entering the attic but forces herself to. She finds the message on the wall that she found all those years ago when she was a little girl along with the items that were hidden under a loose floorboard. A claw necklace, three pieces of paper, and a small doll are among them, items taken from one world and into hers. When Lowra was locked away for days at a time in the attic she would find comfort with the doll, pretending they were having ice-cream and imagined that it belonged to her mother. Lowra becomes determined to find out who these items belonged to and give them back to their rightful owner.  She hopes it will bring her some sort of peace and for the first time in her life gives her a purpose. This leads her to Celestine and she follows his heartbreaking past of how he came to live in the attic. There is a strong connection, a link to them both that is woven delicately throughout the book. They both suffered pain and loss within the attic and know what it is to be completely alone.

Jaye has written two strong, powerful characters that tell their stories of how they survived the abuse and cruelty the world gave them. Celestine has been ripped from his home, his Mama, his brothers and taken to a strange land where he is the minority. Although at first Celestine is not made to work or serve Sir Richard he is still enslaved as his life is no longer his own. His own true name, Dikembe is replaced by Sir Richard as he names him Celestine. For a time while living with Sir Richard he experiences the finer things in life, gains an education and learns to speak like a gentleman. A manner that never falters, even when his own life is threatened. Celestine is also constantly reminded by others that he doesn’t belong and is stared at whenever he ventures outside the house. He is told he is a savage, a beast and this confuses him as he is the most civilised out of anyone. No one sees who he is or of the life he had before he came to England. He is at the mercy of his situation which he both enjoys and despises. The reader watches him struggle throughout, with him trying to figure out his identity while also enduring harsh, tedious labour that leaves him exhausted. But he doesn’t give up and that gives the reader hope. 

This book is difficult to read at times, it will break you physically and emotionally. The reality of our history is painted boldly in the blood of the innocent on the page. But this is a book that everyone needs to read. The stories of the unheard and denied need to be told, we need more books like this to make us aware of the absolute cruelty people were faced with on a daily basis simply for being different, for having colour to their skin. It always sickness me that humans were and still are disrespectful to others. I hold onto hope that it will change, it HAS to change. We must all be like the good king Mbidi Kiluwe.

I give The Attic Child Lola Jaye a Five out of Five paw rating

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Full of emotion and heartbreak this book is a must read! You have to read this! 

Jaye has written a powerful story that will break you again and again. The brutal images of two children fighting to survive will haunt you long after you finish reading.  If you read anything this year, make sure it is this. This powerful story is one that needs to be told.

Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below, enjoy!

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The Patient By Jane Shemilt Review (Random Things Tours)

Today dear reader I am on the blog tour for The Patient (Published 28th April 2022) By Jane Shemilt. A big thank you to HarperCollins for sending me a copy to read and review, always appreciated. Also to the lovely Anne for the invite, always a pleasure to work with.

The Patient

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She is his doctor. He will be her downfall. When Rachel meets Luc, the attraction is instant. But she is a doctor, and he is her patient. She gives him the drugs he needs – but in doing so, risks everything. And when a secret is exposed, they’re both in the firing line. Not all patients are telling the truth.

About The Author

Jane Shemilt is an internationally acclaimed, bestselling author of psychological suspense novels. As a medical student studying psychiatry, Jane would hang around in the ward for hours listening to patients and their stories. Later, as a GP, she was struck by the number of her patients who faced mental illness and felt stigmatised by their experience. These conversations form the backdrop for The Patient. The character of Rachel was born from Jane’s frustration with the limits placed on older women. She envisioned a character who decides to sidestep her responsibilities and prioritise her own desires. Given the opportunity, how many of us would dare to seize it? Jane’s first novel, Daughter, was selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club, shortlisted for the Edgar Award and the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, and went on to become the bestselling debut novel of 2014.

My Review

There is a good reason why you should never mix business with pleasure dear reader. It can get messy. From the moment you begin reading, Shemilt sets the chilling atmosphere that the reader is not alone. The sound of footsteps will follow them throughout the book and the creepy feeling that they are being watched will be difficult to shake off. 

The narrative is told in first person by Rachel as she recalls the very moment it all began, that has lead her to being held in custody. Her lawyer has advised her to write everything down from the beginning; but it didn’t have a beginning, not like that. Rachel had been walking towards this for years. Rachel is 49 years old, a wife, a mother and works as a doctor. She was on her way home one night when she decided to pop by the health centre to drop off some notes. She could have gone straight home but she didn’t. If she took the notes home she would be breaking a rule and as her husband Nathan would say, she went by the rules. It is important in her line of work to follow them. While at the health centre Rachel offered to take over a suicide call from a colleague. She had no idea that this encounter would change her life forever. When Rachel met Luc, her world stopped. She was instantly attracted to the half-frenchman and curious as to how he ended up in her office. Luc told Rachel how he wanted to end his life as he was driving home. She found out that he was an architect with a wife and adorable stepson. Rachel couldn’t help but feel a stab of jealousy. She felt drawn to him and found it concerning as she was his doctor and he her patient. Within minutes of meeting him she found herself breaking rules. She struggled to hide her desire and want for Luc and found herself blurring the lines between doctor and patient. 

From the outside looking in it would appear that Rachel has the perfect little family set up that everyone dreams of. But the reality is that she has little desire for her husband and is glad that sex is rare. Her relationship with her daughter Lizzie is strained as Rachel was always working as Lizzie grew up. Apart from her neighbour, Victoria who is never home for long as she’s always off on another photoshoot, Rachel spends most of her time alone. She doesn’t appear to have many friends and every attempt at mending the bond with her daughter always ends up with Lizzie pushing further away and more towards her father. Shemilt creates the illusion of the isolation and loneliness that stalks Rachel hauntingly well. She fears she is being followed and watched and tells Nathan who ignores her. The reader can see instantly why Rachel would be drawn into Luc’s strong, comforting arms and risks everything to be with him. She tells herself repeatedly that she made her first choices years ago and you don’t get to do them again. But maybe, just maybe she can finally let go and give in to pleasure and lust for once in her life.

There were many times throughout this book that my jaw was left gaping to the floor. Shemilt has woven in some brilliant twists and turns that keep you on your toes, you don’t even see them coming before it’s too late. What starts off as a forbidden love affair quickly turns into murder. The suspense of Rachel and Luc getting caught made me cling to the page, desperate to find out how this messy but passionate affair was going to end. Would it end? Shemilt teases the reader, knowing exactly how to push their buttons and lead them on. Brilliant writing!

I enjoyed the contrast of scenery that Shemilt paints at crucial moments. One minute the reader is running through the woods in the pouring rain as footsteps behind them grow louder, the next they are surrounded by sun and sunflowers that calm and relax you. It was heaven to escape and relax in the sun’s warmth in France. I didn’t want to leave but my curiosity wanted to know who was killing characters off in quick succession. Who can you really trust?

I give The Patient By Jane Shemilt a Four out of Five paw rating

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An intoxicating story of desire, passion and murder that will leave you yearning for more.

My heart was pounding the entire time, by the end I felt like I had ran a marathon. This book doesn’t stop or give you the time to think. You get caught up in the affair, a murder and disturbing secrets that will make you reevaluate everything you thought you knew.

Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below, enjoy!

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The Shadow Child By Rachel Hancox Review (Random Things Tours)

Today I am on the blog tour for The Shadow Child (Published in hardback 14 April 2022 By Century/Penguin) By Rachel Hancox. A big thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to read and review, always appreciated. Also to the amazing Anne for the invite, always a joy to work with, you make being a part of this community just wonderful.

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The Shadow Child

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Eighteen-year-old Emma has loving parents and a promising future ahead of her. So why, one morning, does she leave home without a trace? Her parents, Cath and Jim, are devastated. They have no idea why Emma left, where she is – or even whether she is still alive. A year later, Cath and Jim are still tormented by the unanswered questions Emma left behind and clinging desperately to the hope of finding her. Meanwhile, tantalisingly close to home, Emma is also struggling with her new existence – and with the trauma that shattered her life. For all of them, reconciliation seems an impossible dream. Does the way forward lie in facing up to the secrets of the past – secrets that have been hidden for years? Secrets that have the power to heal them, or to destroy their family forever …

About The Author

Rachel Hancox read Medicine and Social and Political Science at Cambridge, qualified as a doctor three months after getting married, and has juggled her family, her career and a passion for writing ever since. She worked in Paediatrics and Public Health for twenty years, writing short stories alongside NHS policy reports, and drafting novels during successive bouts of maternity leave. Rachel has five children, three dogs and a cat. She lives in Oxford with her husband and youngest children.

My Review

One morning without saying a word to her parents, 18 year old Emma leaves home, she vanishes into thin air. She had everything going for her, loving parents, a bight future, so why does she suddenly decide to leave without saying a word? It doesn’t make any sense. Beware dear reader this book is a can of worms just waiting to be ripped open and wiggle to freedom leaving a trail of dirt in their wake.

Told in three parts over the space of a year the narrative follows Cath, Jim, Lara, Nick and Emma as they all discover how the shadows from your past and the secrets you try to hide can slowly destroy or heal your life. Each character is hiding something from the other, the pressure builds as the intensity of the truth threatens to be heard. The reader is left questioning who to trust and will any of them come clean about the lies they have told. It becomes extremely frustrating at parts as you witness how close the lies become to being unravelled. You will be determined to read till the end to find out who is brave enough to open up and expose their dark secrets.

The reader follows the aftereffect of Emma’s disappearance that has left Cath and Jim heartbroken. Jim is slowly plodding along working as a photographer for the Gazette. He will still search now and then online for Emma, to no avail. He feels they should have looked harder, shouted louder and worries about what it is all doing to his wife. Cath still torments herself, asking herself over and over why did Emma leave and more importantly, where is she? She still holds out hope in finding her alive. She no longer works as a primary school teacher and doesn’t know how to fill her days. Cath often thinks back on memories when Emma was a child and how she would love to draw pictures of herself with her shadow, Rose. She blames herself for not noticing sooner that something was wrong and feels guilty every day since Emma left. Jim knows that things have been off kilter for a while and wants the old Cath back. They decided to both try and carry on and rent out a house in St. John’s Street. They hear from the agent that they have potential tenants, Lara and Nick, a married couple in their 20’s hoping to slowly step away from the busy city life and settle down. Jim tells Cath how the new tenants remind him of them back in the day. Cath wishes her and Jim were moving into the house and finds ways to ‘pop’ in on Nick and Lara. She forms a friendship with Lara and is reminded how much she misses that bond with Emma. She has a hole in her life and no idea how to fill it and so offers to help Nick and Lara look after their garden while they are at work in London. Lara is delighted, whereas Nick doesn’t approve of how close the two are growing and wishes at times that Cath would just leave them be. Jim busies himself in his work, always off somewhere to taking photos. He hates how he and Cath seem to walk on eggshells around each other since Emma left and wishes for them to be close again, to be intimate. His frustrations soon lead him down a path that will not only destroy his marriage but also threaten all hopes of ever finding Emma again. Emma in the meantime has not been that far away and is battling with her own demons. She tries to find peace and gain a better understanding of how she ended up where she is. She worries that anyone who gets close to her comes to harm and blames herself for a tragic incident that occurred before she disappeared.

A lot happens in this book, sometimes it builds slowly and others it’s in quick succession. You never know when you are going to be hit with a shocking truth that will turn everything on its head. The reader learns of how Cath and Jim met, the mysterious past that Lara is hiding and the reason why Emma left. It is fascinating to discover how these stories entwine with each other but also heartbreaking as this book covers themes of depression, adultery and baby loss. My heart bled for the trauma that Cath and Lara suffer. I grew to like these two strong women and couldn’t believe the heartache they went through. Hancox shows the reader these characters are vulnerable, struggling with their emotions and have no one to express them to. They have been carrying around these secrets for years, the weight bearing down on their shoulders. You want to desperately tell them to open up, be honest and breathe that huge sigh of relief they have been holding in for so long. It’s torture at times dear reader as you just want what’s best for the characters, some more than others as you get emotionally invested in this powerful story of loss and forgiveness. Make sure you have plenty of tissues nearby, you are going to need them.

I give The Shadow Child By Rachel Hancox a Four out of Five paw rating

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The atmosphere that Hancox creates is beautifully hypnotising. From the suburban streets of Surrey, to the calm tranquility of the woods, the reader is consumed by curiosity on every page.

This book gripped me till the end, I was in tears and couldn’t put it down till I knew: Why, oh why did Emma leave? We all have our shadows dear reader, no matter how far we run or hide they will always be there. Always.

Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below, enjoy!

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How To Spot A Psychopath By M Q Webb Review (Random Things Tours)

Today dear readers I am on the blog tour for How To Spot A Psychopath (Published 20 April 2022) By M Q Webb. A big thank you to the publishers TBR for sending me a copy to read and review, always appreciated. Also the lovely Anne for the invite to take part, always a pleasure to work with.    

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How to Spot a Psychopath

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We’ve all wondered about someone… are they… how do I know?  

How to Spot a Psychopath is a thoughtful, intelligent, psychological thriller full of conflicting accounts and sharp turns. How to Spot a Psychopath will keep you questioning who is hiding what, and why.  

When four-year-old Mia Edwards goes missing on a play date, everyone suspects that Jessica Green knows what happened to her, especially Mia’s mother, Holly, but Jessica isn’t talking.  

Psychiatrist, Dr. Oscar de la Nuit, is determined to save Jess from the same mistakes he’s living with. 

Will Jess lead to his redemption, or will she be his downfall? 

About The Author

MQ Webb enjoys writing thrillers, suspense, mysteries and horror. They once worked in an office in a building that was actually an old goal. How to Spot a Psychopath is the first book in the Oscar de la Nuit series.

My Review

Every parent’s worst nightmare is losing their child. The trust you place in another person to look after the most precious thing to you in the whole world is extremely important. To think that those you consider a friend would ever place your child in danger is not worth thinking about…but unfortunately dear reader, it happens.

When 4 year old Mia Edward goes missing on a play date everyone points the finger at the last person who saw her alive, Jessica Green. But Jessica is not talking and time is running out in the hopes of finding Mia alive. Jessica knows something. Mia’s mother Holly is desperate to find her daughter and is adamant that Jessica has murdered her. Psychiatrist Dr. Oscar de la Nuit refuses to believe that Jessica has killed Mia and is more interested in saving Jess from the same mistakes he is living with. With Jess not talking there is little hope in finding out what happened to Mia. Why won’t Jess speak? This question baffles the reader throughout the book as we begin to wonder what exactly happened on the day Mia disappeared. And why can no one find her? Where is she?

The narrative takes place between the events leading up to Mia’s disappearance, Then, to the present, Now, with Dr. Oscar treating Jessica as his patient. Jessica caught Oscar’s attention from the moment he saw her, she didn’t fit the typical killer profile. She was a suburban journalist with a four year old daughter, Zoe and hardworking husband, Clay. Oscar is a forensic psychiatrist, his job is to read people and he is extremely good at it. But he has a dark secret that taunts him daily. He finds Jessica interesting and sees the same silent suffering that he endures is weighing her down. He wants to save her from the torment. But can he?

Oscar puts in a transfer request for Jessica to be moved to Whitner Psychiatric Hospital and for him to be her psychiatrist. The media has made Jess look like a monster and with her not speaking it only makes things look worse. But why won’t she talk? What is she hiding? The questions whirl around Oscar’s head as he becomes more immersed in why she refuses to talk. There has to be a reason behind it. Oscar has already got his own theories about what happened and doesn’t believe that Jess killed Mia, but he thinks she might know where she is and is covering for someone or saw something that has traumatised her.

It’s interesting to read the exchanges between Oscar and Jess in the present. The reader starts to make their own assumptions about what happened and question if they can trust anything that Jessica says when she does finally start to talk. Oscar understands what she’s going through but that doesn’t make them the same. He has to remind himself not to get emotionally involved in a case as it is selfish and could cloud his judgment. He wants the truth and can tell instantly when Jess is lying to him. The scenes between these two are thick with tension as they need to trust each other. Oscar questions if he is getting the real Jess or a persona she’s created to get her through the days. She doesn’t eat much, avoids the other patients and refuses to see her sister when she visits. Oscar quickly finds that Jess seems to leave him with more questions than answers but the clock is ticking. Time is running out not only for Mia but also Jess and Oscar. The writing is intense and you can feel the pressure building, you cling to the pages desperate to find out the truth. It’s exhilarating! But so so worth it when you uncover the truth dear reader.

The chapters titled Then are events leading up to Mia’s disappearance the reader follows Jessica and how she is struggling with the new sudden friendship that Holly forces upon her. Wherever Jessica and her sister Niki go for coffee, Holly will appear. Jess doesn’t like her and avoids her but worries about her sister as she starts to spend more and more time with Holly. Jess learns that Holly is Mia’s mother, the little girl who has been telling on Zoe since she started kindergarten. Mia’s father doesn’t live with them and Holly tells them that he was violent towards them both. Jess feels for them both but is still unsure about Holly. Things don’t add up and she begins to question what it is about Holly that she doesn’t trust. Zoe isn’t adjusting to kindergarten and Jess suspects a child is hurting her as there are bruises on her arm. It soon becomes clear that Holly isn’t how she appears and only Jess can see her for what she really is. A Psychopath. There are many moments like this one that will shock and scare you to question just how well do we know the people we consider our friends…it’s chilling!

I give How To Spot A Psychopath By M Q Webb a Five out of Five paw rating.

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Highly addictive you won’t be able to put this book down until you know the truth about what happened to Mia Edwards. It will consume you, I loved every second.

Full of shocking twists and heart-stopping turns you will begin to question who can you really trust. What secrets are these characters hiding and who is telling the truth? This is a MUST read!

Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below, enjoy!

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The Coffin Club By Jacqueline Sutherland Review (Random Things Tours)

Today dear reader I am on the blog tour for The Coffin Club (Published 7th April 2022) By Jacqueline Sutherland. Happy Publication Day! A big thank you to the publishers Point Blank for sending me a copy to read and review, always appreciated. Also to the lovely Anne for the invite, you make being a part of this community wonderful!       

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The Coffin Club

The Coffin Club Cover

Everyone deserves a second chance. Don’t they?

After losing her husband in a car accident, leaving her permanently scarred, wealthy widow Kat Alexander moves to the countryside to start a new life. Mourning not only her husband, but her last chance of motherhood, Kat is distraught.

Encouraged by her new and only friend Ginny, owner of the local animal sanctuary, Kat joins Young and Widowed, dubbed ‘The Coffin Club’ by its members.

There she meets young Spanish widower, Nico. Instantly drawn to each other, Nico seems like Kat’s perfect match. He is kind, caring, handsome, eager to settle in the UK, and most importantly, a father to five-year-old Magdalena, ‘Midge’.

This could be Kat’s shot at the one thing she has always wanted: to be a mother.

But sometimes, be careful what you wish for…

About The Author

Jacqueline (Jack) Sutherland worked in corporate PR and marketing for over twenty years and now works part time as a copywriter. A few years ago, she bought her husband a beehive for his birthday, and she draws on her knowledge of beekeeping in her debut thriller, THE COFFIN CLUB. She began writing the novel on the 2020 Faber Academy course. Jack lives in Guildford with her husband and their four boys.

My Review

After a tragic car accident that killed her husband, Kat attempts to rebuild her life by moving to the countryside. She locks herself away and falls further into darkness believing the only way out is to end her life. However when her car collides with a deer she is brought to Ginny who runs the local animal sanctuary. She soon becomes involved in helping out with the animals and slowly starts to begin living again. When a flyer advertising New Horizons, a group who are looking for a second chance at love lands on her doorstep she starts wondering if she should check it out. Encouraged by Ginny who has become her only friend she joins and meets Nico on her first night. Kat is instantly draw to him, he’s kind, caring and best of all has a five year old daughter, Magdalena. They soon start to date and Kat is introduced to Magdalena. Kat forms a bond and goes into mama bear mode, she would kill for Magdalena. Kat and Nico appear a perfect match for each other, both have lost their spouses and they joke about New Horizons calling it the Coffin Club. Yet there is something that doesn’t feel right as Nico starts to have secret phone calls and withdraw large amounts of money from their joint account. Blindsided for her desire to cling onto her new found mother title Kat pushes it to the back of her mind. But it keeps creeping up until it’s too late and Kat is fighting for her life.

The narrative follows Kat as she visits her husband Sam’s grave. She recounts how much has changed since his death. She has remarried and become a mother, something she has always been desperate for and hopes Sam is happy for her. Kat talks about how after his death she sunk into a deep depression and she felt she did’t have anything to live for. She moved to the country, Lower Doyle and purchased a house which she calls the Nook, a doer-upper and hides away from the world. Thanks to her husband’s fortune Kat doesn’t need a job and lacks any sort of routine which only deepens her depression and loneliness. Not only did the accident scare Kat but it also left a physical scar across her face. A permanent reminder of her loss and the end to Sam and Kat Alexander. She is self-conscious of this and assumes that people stare and whisper when they see her. When Kat becomes friends with Ginny she starts to slowly piece her life back together. Kat spends her days working with the animals and her nights redecorating the house. The simple routines hold her together and she feels like she is on a recovery programme. The sanctuary gave her a reason to get up in the morning. Then the flyer comes through her door and she is tempted to start looking for love, love that could lead to her becoming a mother.

Kat is a complex and vulnerable character. She has a dark secret that once discovered will make the reader view her in a different light. Your heart breaks as you uncover her past and feel for her. She is so desperate for a child that she will do anything and I mean anything in order to be a mother that at times it is a little terrifying.  It sends a chill down your spine as you suddenly realise how far she is willing to go to obtain her goal. She falls for Nico the moment she meets him and feels guilty about Sam but knows she has to move on if she is to ever have a child of her own. Their relationship moves at lighting speed and when Nico starts to act withdrawn Kat starts to question how much she really knows about him. He fled from Spain after the death of his wife and never talks about any of the family or friends he left behind. When their wedding photo turns up online Nico sees red and demands it is taken down. Thrown by this sudden outburst Kat begins to wondered what exactly happened in Spain. Her curiosity is only piqued more when they ran into an old friend of Nico’s at a duck race and Nico brushes him off. What is he hiding? This book will keep the reader guessing up until the very end. When I discovered the truth of it all, my blood ran cold dear reader. 

At a first glance this book gives the reader the impression that this will be a story about a widow who will go on a journey of self discovery. But there’s so much more going on. There are so many layers, twists and turns that will have you on the edge on your seat. You feel scared at times as to just how far Kat is willing to go for what she wants.

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I give The Coffin Club By Jacqueline Sutherland a Five out of Five paw rating

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Intense and full of dark sinister secrets, this book will consume you until the very end.

I was addicted from the first page. I did not see the shocking twist coming even though it was right in front of me the whole time. Sutherland creates a suspense that makes you question everything you thought you knew. Who can you trust? Are you in danger from the people who are supposed to love you? It’s compelling and a MUST read for this year. I highly recommend, you will be left with your jaw on the floor.

Don’t forget to follow the rest of the tour, dates below, enjoy!

The coffin Club BT Poster

Links

Buy a copyThe Coffin Club Cover

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