Thursday, 30 June 2016

Florence Grace by Tracy Rees

Florence Grace
By Tracy Rees
Published by Quercus (30 June 2016)
ISBN: 978-1784296179

Publisher's description
Florrie Buckley is an orphan, living on the wind-blasted moors of Cornwall. It's a hard existence but Florrie is content; she runs wild in the mysterious landscape. She thinks her destiny is set in stone. But when Florrie is fifteen, she inherits a never-imagined secret. She is related to a wealthy and notorious London family, the Graces. Overnight, Florrie's life changes and she moves from country to city, from poverty to wealth. Cut off from everyone she has ever known, Florrie struggles to learn the rules of this strange new world. And then she must try to fathom her destructive pull towards the enigmatic and troubled Turlington Grace, a man with many dark secrets of his own.

My verdict
I really enjoyed Tracy Rees' first book Amy Snow, so was delighted when I fell in love with Florence Grace too, as I did have high expectations.

Florence Grace is page-turning historical fiction. It's the story of a young girl who is plucked from the remote Cornwall moors to discover she is part of a wealthy London family. Not all of her new relatives welcome her into the fold, however, and Florrie has a lot to learn about life in a city - and about large families.

Tracy Rees has captured the settings of Cornwall and London beautifully, with her vivid descriptive writing. Her dialogue is very realistic, as it was in Amy Snow, which makes the characters themselves feel very real and in keeping with the book's time period. Florence Grace is definitely a character-led novel, focusing on how the characters interact and respond to one another - in a family that should be close knit but isn't, thanks to its many lies, secrets and conflicts. Florrie is definitely the star of the show and it was interesting to see how she grew and flourished throughout the book.

Florence Grace is a story of belonging, destiny, secrets and courage. It was very easy to immerse myself in this emotional story and I read most of the book in one sitting. This is certainly a book I'll be recommending.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher through the Lovereading panel in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016


I am delighted that LISA HALL is joining me on my blog today. Her debut novel - Between You and Me - was published by Carina in March 2016. 

Your debut psychological thriller Between You and Me went straight to the top of the Amazon charts in March. Describe how your life has changed over the last few months?
Everything has been very busy – I never realised quite how much other stuff goes on behind the scenes once your book has been published!

Your next book – Tell Me No Lies – is being published in October 2016. Does it seem very different second time round?
There’s a lot more pressure the second time around – I wrote when I could when I was writing the first book, but the pressure of a deadline meant that I HAD to write at every spare moment for Book Two. Plus, there’s the added worry that readers might not like it as much as Book One!

Why do you think psychological thrillers are so popular, especially with female readers?
I think us ladies like to scare ourselves a bit…and it just so happens that we find everyday, ordinary things more scary than ghosts, monsters etc. The fact that things that happen in psych thrillers can potentially happen to all of us in real life is quite terrifying.

You’re off to New York in July for Thrillerfest, on a panel for debut authors – your first panel. Are you terrified, excited…?
A bit of both! I’m very excited to be meeting up with my fellow ITW debuts, but equally I’m a bit terrified about speaking on the panel, as it’s the first one I’ve done. I did a radio show last month which was scary, but not as bad as I thought it would be!

You’ve had a successful book blog for a number of years. Do you think reviewing books has helped you as an author?
I think the book reviewing gave me the courage to write my own book and put it out there. It was festering in the back of my mind for a long time but the idea of people reading something I had written was terrifying. Once I started reviewing and people started reading my words I managed to get over it a bit.

How do you make sure you’re getting the words down when you’re writing a first draft? What’s your writing routine like?
I am the queen of procrastination! I set myself a target of 2000 words a day – I don’t always hit it, but I find that once the words start coming I can usually make it, although not all of it makes it to the final cut. I should probably switch the Internet off when I’m writing, if I’m honest!

Looking back to your teenage years, what advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t think you just have to settle for what you have – you can do it; you just have to push yourself.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors, having been in that position not that long ago yourself?
Don’t give up – you just need your manuscript to land on the right desk at the right time.

And lastly, why should people read Between You and Me?         
Because it’s brilliant (apparently!).

About Lisa Hall

Lisa loves words, reading and everything there is to love about books. She has dreamed of being a writer since she was a little girl – either that or a librarian - and after years of talking about it, was finally brave enough to put pen to paper (and let people actually read it). Lisa lives in a small village in Kent, surrounded by her towering TBR pile, a rather large brood of children, dogs, chickens and ponies and her long-suffering husband. She is also rather partial to eating cheese and drinking wine.

Find Lisa Hall on her website and  Facebook page and follow Lisa on Twitter - @LisaHallAuthor

Between You and Me
Published by Carina (17 March 2016)
ISBN: 978-0008194505

They say every marriage has its secrets.
But no one sees what happens behind closed doors.
And sometimes those doors should never be opened …

Sal and Charlie are married. They love each other. But they aren’t happy. Sal cannot leave, no matter what Charlie does – no matter how much it hurts.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The Silk Merchant's Daughter by Dinah Jefferies

The Silk Merchant's Daughter
By Dinah Jefferies
Published by Viking/Penguin (E-book and Hardback out now; Paperback - 14 July 2016)
ISBN: 978-0241248621

Publisher's description
1952, French Indochina. Since her mother's death, eighteen-year-old half-French, half-Vietnamese Nicole has been living in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Sylvie. When Sylvie is handed control of the family silk business, Nicole is given an abandoned silk shop in the Vietnamese quarter of Hanoi. But the area is teeming with militant rebels who want to end French rule, by any means possible. For the first time, Nicole is awakened to the corruption of colonial rule - and her own family's involvement shocks her to the core...

Tran, a notorious Vietnamese insurgent, seems to offer the perfect escape from her troubles, while Mark, a charming American trader, is the man she's always dreamed of. But who can she trust in this world where no one is what they seem?

The Silk Merchant's Daughter is a captivating tale of dark secrets, sisterly rivalry and love against the odds, enchantingly set in colonial era Vietnam.

My verdict
The Silk Merchant's Daughter is a fascinating tale of a young woman torn between two cultures, thanks to her mixed parentage. Nicole's father is a wealthy French silk merchant while her mother (who died in childbirth) was Vietnamese. The book is set at a time of turmoil in Vietnam, as militant rebels want to end French rule.

The book is beautifully descriptive, bringing 1950s Vietnam to life. I was engrossed in the culture references and political background, as the author transported me to Hanoi - with its sights, sounds and aromas. Initially Nicole knows little about her Vietnamese background. But when her father gives her an abandoned silk shop in the Vietnamese quarter, she gradually learns more about her mother's heritage and about where she herself belongs. In gaining her independence, she becomes involved in a world of corruption and espionage.

The Silk Merchant's Daughter was partly a coming of age novel, as Nicole grows from a naive teenager to a more level-headed young woman. The book is also a tale of sibling rivalry, between Nicole and her older sister Sylvie, a love story and a family saga. There were plenty of surprises throughout and it was very difficult to know which characters Nicole should trust.

I really enjoyed The Silk Merchant's Daughter and thought that the book packed a lot into its pages. I remained intrigued by the family secrets until the final page.

I received an Advance Reader Copy direct from the publisher and through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Kill Your Darlings - by Rebecca Bradley - an author guest post

Today it's my stop on the blog tour for Made to be Broken by Rebecca Bradley. I'm delighted to welcome Rebecca to my blog. Made to be Broken was published on 20 June 2016.

Kill Your Darlings
by Rebecca Bradley

Can I first start this post by thanking Vicki for hosting me on her blog. Over the past week or so, I have found out just how wonderful and kind the blogging community really is and Vicki is among those filled with kindness. So, thank you Vicki.

Advice given to new writers is to ‘Kill your darlings’. You can trace this quote back to William Faulkner who said ‘In writing, you must kill all your darlings.’ It was then compounded by Stephen King when he said ‘Kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.’ This advice isn’t about killing off your characters, but about the harsh slice of the editing pen. When going through your manuscript you are told to make sure to kill those darling words, be harsh, get rid of any that don’t earn their keep. If they are there simply because you love the way they sound, but they hold no value, then they have to go.

So, am I going to tell you about my editing process today? How I rid my manuscript of all my beautiful and lyrical prose that I wish I could keep but it has no place in the Major Incident Room of DI Hannah Robbins?


I’m actually going to talk about killing my actual darlings. My characters. But, not really kill them.


A lot of series fiction has a regular set of characters. A team of detectives who deal with the crimes that occur on their watch. They get put through the mill at every opportunity and generally their lives are twisted upside down. When I set out writing, I wanted my series to be a little different. Having worked sixteen years in the police service I know life isn’t like that. It’s rare you work with exactly the same team year after year. The team you are a part of changes in a very fluid manner. People apply and join the team as and when someone else leaves or extra staff are needed. But when it comes to leaving, there are a multitude of reasons for someone moving on. You can have someone leave temporarily on maternity, move for promotion purposes, move for a sideways move in a change in department because of their own career plans, retirement, a forced move because the job requires staff somewhere else and sometimes people just decide to leave the job. Any police department is an evolving unit.

If the reality is so carousel like, I wanted my fiction to mirror this. I don't want my readers to be comfortable with any book they read in the series, I want them always to be wondering if any character safe, is one of their favourites going to be leaving? It's not that I want to torture my readers, it's that I want to insert a reality and also some unexpectedness.

Police procedural novels, as the phrase itself indicates, are usually run as a police murder investigation. Though, it's the case itself that gives the story its punch, as procedure isn't very gripping.

So, I thought if we can, in some way, have a fluidity of movement within the characters and is something else other than the main story, it’ll make it both realistic and, hopefully interesting as readers find out if their favourite character is going to make it through. That's not to say I want to make changes in every single book, because again you can go quite long periods of time with quite a stable team and I’m also not going to keep making changes for the sake of making changes.

But, at the end of the day, the only safe character in the series is Hannah Robbins because it is the DI Hannah Robbins series.

Though, don't test me on that… *Evil cackle

How do you feel about this, the movement of characters? Does it make you uneasy as you like a regular cast of characters, or do you think this could be an interesting look at a working series?

About Rebecca Bradley
Rebecca Bradley is a retired police detective who lives in Nottinghamshire with her family and her two cockapoos Alfie and Lola. They keep her company while she writes. Rebecca needs to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if she could, she would survive on a diet of tea and cake while committing murder on a regular basis.

Sign up to the newsletter on the blog at to receive the first 5 chapters of Made to be Broken, exclusive content and giveaways. Find Rebecca on Twitter - @RebeccaJBradley

Made to be Broken
By Rebecca Bradley
Published by CrateSpace/Amazon (on 30 June 2016)
ISBN: 978-1533651013

Book description

A rising death toll. A city in panic. 

A young mother is found dead in her home with no obvious cause of death. As DI Hannah Robbins and her team investigate, it soon becomes clear that the woman is the first in a long line of murders by poison. 

With the body count climbing, and the city of Nottingham in social meltdown, the team finds themselves in a deadly race against a serial killer determined to prove a point. 

And Hannah finds herself targeting an individual with whom she has more in common than she could possibly know. 

Visit Amazon to buy Made to be Broken here.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Epiphany Jones by Michael Grothaus - Blog Tour Review

I am delighted to be today's stop on the Blog Tour for Epiphany Jones by Michael Grothaus, which was published in paperback by Orenda Books on 16 May 2016. 

Here's my review of this unique and fantastic book.

Epiphany Jones
By Michael Grothaus
Published by Orenda Books (16 May 2016)
ISBN: 978-1910633335

Publisher's description
Jerry has a traumatic past that leaves him subject to psychotic hallucinations and depressive episodes. When he stands accused of stealing a priceless Van Gogh painting, he goes underground, where he develops an unwilling relationship with a woman who believes that the voices she hears are from God. Involuntarily entangled in the illicit world of sex-trafficking amongst the Hollywood elite, and on a mission to find redemption for a haunting series of events from the past, Jerry is thrust into a genuinely shocking and outrageously funny quest to uncover the truth and atone for historical sins.

My verdict
Epiphany Jones is a book that's as unique in content as it is in name. I don't think I have ever read a book quite like it. And I possibly won't find one again - although obviously I look forward to seeing what Michael Grothaus has in store next.

The book is about the sex trafficking industry, child abuse and how celebrity lifestyles aren't always the fairytale that we're led to believe. When Jerry is wrongly accused of stealing a priceless painting and murdering his colleague, he goes on the run with the help of a mysterious woman called Epiphany Jones. It soon becomes clear that Epiphany has her own agenda - and will do anything to make him comply with her demands.

I found it very difficult to put this novel down. Humour cushions the darkness and the madness, and I found myself laughing when I really shouldn't be laughing. Never before have I read a book in which a porn addict sees people who aren't there and a young troubled woman hears voices in her head that predict her future. Yet bizarrely, it all seemed so believable and real.

Just to warn you, Epiphany Jones isn't for the faint hearted - it's certainly a book that will take most readers out of their comfort zone. It's graphic from the outset, with hard-hitting language and vivid descriptions, and it covers some very shocking and traumatic issues. The book contains scenes that you may wish you hadn't pictured in your head as you read - yet it's so highly gripping and well written that you just can't help it. Not much fazes me, but some scenes still had me gasping out loud.

Despite its violence and dark humour, the book has a highly emotional journey at its core and left me reeling and in tears. Epiphany Jones may be the author's debut, but it certainly doesn't read like one with its high level of sophistication, depth and talent. Yet again, Orenda Books has found a novel that will grab your attention straight away - from the very first line (yes, it's that good) - and stir up all of your emotions (from fear, disgust and anger to sadness, surprise and joy).

If you're looking for...

  • something very different to read
  • that will keep you engrossed into the early hours of the morning
  • that tackles some very real and disturbing issues
  • that's totally insane, quirky, dark, emotional and compelling
  • and that will stay with you for a long time afterwards

... then you must buy this book.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Monday, 20 June 2016

The Killing Files by Nikki Owen

The Killing Files
By Nikki Owen
Published by Mira Books (2 June 2016)
ISBN: 978-1848454415

Publisher's description
Dr Maria Martinez is out of prison and on the run.
Her mission? To get back to the safety of her family.
Little does she know that this might be the most dangerous place of all…

Don’t miss the second in Nikki Owen’s electrifying Project trilogy, perfect for fans of Nicci French and Charles Cumming.

My verdict
The Killing Files is the second book in The Project Trilogy, a fascinating and action-packed series of thrillers. It's a fast paced, easy and relatively quick read filled with science and high octane moments.

Family secrets, lies and deception dominate the complex and intriguing story, which explores Maria's mysterious past. Maria's Aspergers is a main part of the plot, something you don't often find in crime or action thrillers. This gives The Killing Files a unique feel. The introduction of a new character, Chris, injects some humour into the book, especially in relation to his association with Maria. I'm hoping their friendship will be explored further in the final instalment of the trilogy.

The story switches between the past and present. The past is the 'what happens in the lead up to the present day' so there's actually very little time between the two different threads. There are also some flashbacks to Maria's earlier life and her association with the mysterious 'Project'.

As the book progresses, the tension builds up, with so many twists and turns that it left me quite breathless. Maria has no idea to trust - and nor did I, as the reader.

I suggest you read the first book - Subject 375/The Spider in the Corner of the Room - beforehand. This second book picks up not long after the previous one and I don't feel it could be read as a standalone very easily. You need the background in the first book to understand the characters, and you may miss out on the whole dynamics of the plot if you don't read these books in order.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 17 June 2016

AUTHOR IN THE SPOTLIGHT - Lucy Beresford - Blog Tour

I am delighted that LUCY BERESFORD is joining me on my blog today for her blog tour. Lucy's latest book - Hungry For Love - was published by Quartet Books on 26 May 2016. 

Your latest novel Hungry For Love is romantic fiction about food and love, but ‘shows you the importance of self-respect’. In Something I’m Not (published in 2008), you looked at whether all women want to be mothers. Your background is psychotherapy – do you think it’s important that all of your novels have a deeper meaning or pose questions that women are afraid to ask?
Wow, firstly thank you for exploring my back catalogue! I wouldn’t say all novels have to ask deep questions, but personally I adore books that explore relationships and I don’t think you can do that without having characters that are grappling with the kinds of things we’re all trying to work out. When I was writing Something I’m Not, my friends and I were all discussing that very thing – do we want kids. And for Hungry for Love everywhere I looked people were trying to mend a broken heart, find love again and, above all, develop self-respect. I don’t like air-brushed, neat characters; mine are emotionally messy – like me.

Your novels vary considerably in subject matter but often tackle controversial issues. In Invisible Threads (published in 2015), you covered the sex trade in India. Is there any subject that you wouldn’t feel comfortable tackling?
'Write what you know' is often what people are told, but I think that’s often misunderstood. I don’t know what it feels like to be a girl who has been trafficked (Invisible Threads) but I know about loss and fear. Similarly, I’ve not cancelled my wedding on the day, as Jax does at the start of Hungry for Love, but I know what it’s like to feel betrayed. So it’s possible that any topic is open to me, so long as I can find the right emotion. Although I suspect I might have to draw the line at Football, as I’m utterly clueless.

What’s the most interesting place that you have visited when researching one of your novels? And what’s the strangest?
Definitely the most gripping place was the red light area in Delhi when researching my last novel Invisible Threads. I saw some shocking sights but also you could tell the girls were trying to look out for each other. The best has to be the two cookery schools I went to (in Thailand and Majorca) when writing Hungry for Love – hilarious! Mouthwatering food, as you can imagine, but also observing relationships forming and then breaking up – like watching back-to-back episodes of Love Island!

Your non-fiction book – Happy Relationships at Home, Work and Play – was published in 2013. How easy do you find switching between writing fiction and non-fiction? Do you tackle them very differently?
I write fiction or non-fiction on different days. And although I like to plan my novels, I allow lots of scope for playfully seeing what comes up while I’m writing, whereas when I’m writing non-fiction I stick to the script.    

If you were writing a book about your own life, what would the title be?
Ha! Probably 'Call me Monica', after Monica in Friends. My friends call me that – heaven knows why!!!

What advice would you give your younger self?
What a great question… wouldn’t we all love to go back in a time machine and reassure our younger self. It would have to be something like: you’re beautiful and strong and magical things are going to happen, so don’t worry so much.  

What advice do you have for aspiring fiction writers?
It’s going to sound rather plain, but my only advice is to write. Write every day, every evening or every weekend, but just write. If you don’t write, you can’t become a writer.

And lastly, why should people read Hungry For Love?
Read Hungry for Love not only because it’s very funny, has a hilarious TV chef mother character who was great fun to write and has mouth-watering descriptions of food and recipes, but because it will remind you that love will come when you stop trying to please other people and instead learn to love yourself.

About Lucy Beresford
Lucy is a writer, broadcaster, psychotherapist and documentary maker. She hosts a 2-hour Sex & Relationships phone-in show on LBC Radio every week, is a regular on Sky News Press Preview and Sunrise, ITV’s Tonight, and blogs for Huffington Post UK Lifestyle.

Lucy writes fiction and non-fiction, as well as articles for magazines and newspapers. She offers 1-to-1 psychotherapy in private practice in central London, and at The Priory Hospital, Roehampton, and also works with a charity in New Delhi, India, helping women trafficked in brothels.

Find Lucy Beresford on her website and Twitter - @LucyBeresford

Hungry For Love
By Lucy Beresford
Published by Quartet Books on 26 May 2016
ISBN: 978-0704374096

Jax is about to cancel her wedding to Jonty. On the day. By text. A scrumptious celebration of survival for anyone who's longed for love or felt unworthy of it, Hungry for Love will show you the importance of self-respect and that love can be found where you least expect it. Jax is the daughter of Majella, famous British television chef and author of Food of Love, a best-selling cookery book due for re-issue. But if there s one thing Jax loathes more than her ex-fiancé, it's cooking. So when her boss orders her to use the week she'd booked off for her honeymoon to attend a cookery course in Majorca, Jax fears her life cannot get any worse. When tragedy strikes closer to home, Jax is forced to re-assess her relationship with food. As learning to cook inflames her desires, she must decide whether her plan post-Jonty to starve herself of men is such a great idea. Maybe there is a recipe for love out there, after all?

Find Hungry For Love on Amazon here.

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