#BookReview for The Warden by Jon Richter

My review for The Warden by Jon Richter, 5/5 stars.

Wow, I loved this book! Set in the year 2024, with flashbacks to 2020, it shows an alternative reality to the Covid situation we’re currently living through. The virus has become even more virulent, and people are shut inside their homes, terrified to go out.

The protagonist, Eugene, is an agoraphobic ex-cop, who is content to live out his days in his bricked-up apartment, his life run by James, an artificial intelligence created to look after humans. Until the day things go wrong…

I loved the characters, the tension created from the first page, the flashbacks to Felicity’s past (James’s creator), and the gradual reveal as to what’s really happening. Having read Richter’s Auxiliary London 2039, I knew this would be a great read, and I wasn’t disappointed!

The story is far enough removed from our actual situation to be able to read without the constant reminder of what we’re going through. But as an alternative reality, it’s a pretty scary warning of how things could have gone! The Warden is more than a story about Covid, though – it’s a story of corporate greed, of human weaknesses, of strength and courage to overcome past traumas, of determination to do the right thing.

Well written, with a story that keeps you hooked until the end, this is a book I highly recommend!


#BookReview for Family by Owen Mullen

I’m delighted to join the blog tour for Owen Mullen’s latest book, Family. Many thanks to the author, Boldwood Books, and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the chance to participate.

My review for Family by Owen Mullen, 5/5 stars.

I’ve never read a book by this author before, so I didn’t know what to expect. What I got was a gripping page-turner of a read that kept me hooked all the way through!

It starts off slowly, but soon picks up pace, with a few twists and shocks along the way. With rival gangs in London, corrupt police officers, horrendous crimes and justice meted out, this is a story where family means everything and revenge is their number one priority.

It shows the hard, gritty life of a gangster, and as can be expected, there are a few shocking scenes and gore. But it also shows the fragility of someone continuously living on the edge, where a single event can lead to a descent into madness from which there is no return.

A great plot, well-developed characters who get under your skin, and subtle layers to the story that will keep you thinking after you’ve finished reading, tie together to make this a great read. Highly recommend!

Purchase Link – https://buff.ly/37rHomR

Family – might be the death of you…

The Glass family business is crime, and they’re good at what they do. Vengeance took Luke Glass behind bars – but now he’s free and he’s never going back. Luke wants out of the gangster life – all he has to do is convince his family to let him go.

His brother holds the reins of the South London underworld in his brutal hands – nobody tells Danny Glass no and expects to live – not even DCI Oliver Stanford, bent copper and one of the Met’s rising stars. The way Danny sees it, his younger brother and sister Nina owe him everything. The price he demands is loyalty, and a war with their arch enemy gives him the leverage he needs to tie Luke to the family once more.

Luke can’t see a way out, until Danny commits a crime so terrible it can’t be forgiven. Love turns to hate when secrets are unearthed which pit brother against brother. Left with no choice but to choose a side, Nina holds the fate of the family in her hands.

In the Glass family, Owen Mullen has created a crime dynasty to rival the Richardsons and the Krays. Heart-pounding, jaw-dropping with non-stop action, Family is perfect for fans of Martina Cole, Kimberley Chambers and Mandasue Heller.

Author Bio

When he was ten years old, Owen Mullen won a primary schools short story competition and didn’t write another word for four decades. One morning he announced he was going to write a book. He did. Since then he has written seven. Owen was born in Coatbridge, a few miles from Glasgow, where the Charlie Cameron stories take place, and where he ran a successful design and marketing business. A late developer, he has a Masters degree from Strathclyde University which he got in his forties. In his earlier life he lived in London and worked as a musician and session singer. People tell him he enjoyed himself and he has no reason to doubt them. The journey from rocker to writer has been a fascinating experience and the similarities between the music and book industries, never cease to amaze him. His passions are travel, food and Arsenal Football Club. A gregarious recluse, he now splits his time between Scotland and the island of Crete, along with his wife, Christine.

Twitter https://twitter.com/OwenMullen6

Facebook https://m.facebook.com/OwenMullenAuthor

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/owenmullen6/

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCirKpr7Dzji0x-0teu2nhqw

BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/owen-mullen

#BookReview for Aura by Lisa Hofmann

My review for Aura by Lisa Hofmann, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information.)

My review for Aura by Lisa Hofmann.
I’ve read a few of Lisa Hofmann’s books, and she is very good at writing short stories and novellas where you feel as though you know the characters already. Aura is no different – it starts in the middle of an event, and effortlessly carries you along to the end.
Set in the middle of winter in the mountains, it’s the perfect read for this time of year, snuggled under a blanket with a hot chocolate beside you. Well written, with a few twists along the way, it’s a wonderful way to pass an hour or so in another world. Highly recommend.


#Book Review #NetGalley #HeartbreakBay by Rachel Caine

My review for Heartbreak Bay by Rachel Caine, 5/5 stars.

I love the Stillhouse Lake series, and this latest instalment didn’t disappoint! Gwen Proctor is a wonderfully feisty character, determined to defend her loved ones to the death when another fanatic threatens them.

Gwen and her family have settled in a new home, although we get brief glimpses of the lake where it all started. It seems life is becoming normal for them, until odd things start happening. There’s a lot of emotion, as well as tension, throughout the book and the story keeps you gripped until the end.

The different points of view show the sheer determination of Gwen and Kezia, their dedication to their loved ones and each other, their internal struggles to overcome their pasts so they can have a future. Each book in the series is an emotional journey, this one even more so than the others. A fantastic read I highly recommend.

#NewBook The Healer’s Secret – pre-order now!

I first published The Healer’s Secret in 2017. Bloodhound Books offered me a contract for all three books in the series late last year, and now it’s going to be republished on the 7th September. I just love the new cover!

You can pre-order it here:

While you’re waiting to read it, here’s some background info about the writing of the book.

Three years ago, my husband, youngest son, and I went to Gallicano in Tuscany to do some research for The Healer’s Secret, which I had just finished writing. We had four days to explore the area and taste the local food, so we made the most of it!

We also found some hidden treasures which I then added to the story, such as the angel in the graveyard by St. Jacopo’s church. More about that later!

I took these photos during our journey to Gallicano – we live in a flat, industrial area near Milan, so it’s lovely to see mountains! (Apologies for the quality of the photos, they were taken with an old phone!)

Those steep, narrow streets Jennifer had to walk up to get to her aunt’s house really do exist, and make your legs ache if you’re not used to them!

Gallicano is a beautiful town, with hidden treasures around every corner and breathtaking views!

The church of San Jacopo is mentioned in The Healer’s Secret. We found it during a walk around Gallicano, at the top of a very steep hill, overlooking the town.

The overgrown graveyard was closed, so we couldn’t go in, but I saw a statue of an angel hiding among the grass and had to include it in the book. (It was also after the ‘Weeping Angels’ episode of Doctor Who, so it was pretty creepy!)

We didn’t go inside the church, but took lots of photos of it then went to a nearby bar for a coffee and a rest. Just like Mark and Jennifer in the book.

The trip I was looking most forward to during our long weekend in Gallicano was the guided tour around La Grotta del Vento (the Wind Cave).

These photos were taken on our way up to the caves, along a narrow road that wound around the mountain, with rocks overhanging the road occasionally! Just like Jennifer and Mark, we went up early to avoid the crowds, but unlike Jennifer, we didn’t get lost inside the caves!

When I was doing research for The Healer’s Secret, I came across La Grotta del Vento – The Wind Cave. With help from the website, I wrote the scene where Mark takes Jennifer there for a guided tour. But there’s nothing like seeing it for yourself, so when we spent some days in Gallicano, the caves were the first thing I wanted to see! It was as amazing as I’d hoped it would be, as you can see from the photos. And I even found some creepy steps leading down to who knows where, which I had to add to the scene! If you ever go to Gallicano, I highly recommend you visit the caves – but take a jumper, it was freezing inside, even at the height of summer!

After our guided tour around the caves, we stopped at a village on the way down to stretch our legs and take some photos. I found a stone-walled cottage that looked very similar to how I imagined Great-grandmother Luisa’s cottage to be.We walked around a curve in the road to take some more photos of the back of the cottage, and were amazed to see something in the back garden! If you look closely at the photo, you might be able to make it out.I’m not going to say what it is, but the spooky thing is, I’d already written the book, and the cottage has something similar in its back garden! If you’ve already read the book, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If not – read the book!

While driving around, we found this beautiful spot near the river (which according to Google Maps is Torrente Turrite di Gallicano, but I’m not 100% sure!).We spent a pleasant few hours soaking up the peace and quiet, it was lovely. I didn’t want to leave! These photos give you some idea of how beautiful Tuscany is.

On our last day in Gallicano, we went to a town high up in the mountains (I can’t remember the name, sorry!). We walked all the way to the church at the very top, and were rewarded with an incredible view. We even found an old British telephone box, used as a free library! It was an amazing end to an amazing holiday, one that I will treasure forever.

When we got home I used many of those experiences in my book. I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip to Tuscany and this look into the writing of The Healer’s Secret!

#BookReview for Stickychuck by Brian O’Gorman

My review for Stickychuck by Brian O’Gorman, 5/5 stars.

I love this author’s books, from Dawn of the Spiders to The Roland Sink Hour (a definite must-read), and couldn’t wait to read this collection of short stories.

I wasn’t disappointed. I have no idea what goes on in this man’s head, but whatever it is, it’s scary! It’s not only the stories themselves, it’s the way he creates such realistic characters. Brian O’Gorman has a talent similar to Stephen King’s for creating people you feel like you’ve known all your life. You invest time and emotions into getting to know these people, which makes their fates even more painful to read!

There’s a great selection of short stories, some mere pages, others much longer, some downright creepy, others that will make you think. My favourite is Diabolus Vanitas, it has a completely unexpected ending! Stickychuck, the story that gives the book its title, is one of those twisted tales that make you wonder how the author came up with it!

There are 14 short stories to freak you out, scare you, or show you the dark side of humanity, from a spider that won’t die to a wall that won’t let you leave town, and a chocolate-flavoured salad that’s too good to be true! A great collection that I highly recommend!



#BookReview #NetGalley #FlowersfortheDead by Barbara Copperthwaite

My review for Flowers for the Dead by Barbara Copperthwaite, 5/5 stars.

It’s not often you feel sorry for the bad guy, but the author has written his story so well that you feel sympathy for him! The chapters go from past to present, and as his story is slowly revealed, you can understand how he ends up the way he is.

I loved that we see into Adam’s mind, and how he feels that the girls he’s stalking should already know him, as he knows them so well. It’s creepy, scary, and completely believable, and sends shivers down your spine. The symbolic connection with flowers is cleverly done, and adds an emotional touch as it was learned from his grandmother, the only woman to ever show Adam some love.

Laura and Mike are great characters too. Laura is struggling to overcome a devastating tragedy, and her transformation from wanting to die to wanting to live at all costs has you rooting for her. Mike is also trying to overcome a tragic loss, while battling personal demons at the same time.

I was on tenterhooks towards the end, as Adam spirals out of control and Laura is unaware of the danger she’s in. The book is a roller coaster of emotions that keeps you turning the pages, and has an ending that doesn’t disappoint! Highly recommend.

#BookReview for A Starlit Summer by Kate Frost

My review for A Starlit Summer by Kate Frost, 5/5 stars.

I absolutely loved this story. Set in Cornwall, the descriptions take you away from the chaotic, humdrum city life and transport you to sandy beaches, picturesque ports, and the perfectly named Bramble Cottage.

The narrative is full of beautiful descriptions:

The night was starlit, the sea an endless black, the only colour the white surf catching the moonlight as it foamed onto the beach.

I also love how the author uses her own experiences on sets to bring the magic of film making to us, showing the dark as well as the glamorous side of being on TV.  And the mix of characters is just right, each one bringing warmth, or bitchiness, to the story.

This is a beautifully written, heart-warming story that evokes memories of endless summer days and true love. A 5-star read for me that I highly recommend.

Out on the 14 July, A Starlit Summer is only 99c/99p to preorder at the moment!




#NetGalley #BookReview for #DarkestNight by Jenny O’Brien

My review for Darkest Night by Jenny O’Brien, 4/5 stars.

I haven’t read the first book in the series, but found that didn’t cause any problems reading this book. Some events are alluded to, but with enough information that you can understand what happened.

I like the feisty protagonist, DC Gaby Darin. She’s flawed, she drinks and suffers from a hangover the next day, and she has barriers that very few people can break through. But she’s a dedicated detective who gets involved in her cases, determined to look beyond the obvious and discover what really happened.

There’s great camaraderie between the characters, all of whom are well developed and relatable, and I loved the friction between Gaby and Rusty, the pathologist. It will be interesting to see how the series develops.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC. A great read.

#NetGalley #BookReview for #TheSkylarksSecret by Fiona Valpy

My review for The Skylark’s Secret by Fiona Valpy, 5/5 stars.

Set in Scotland, with a dual timeline, the story follows the lives of Flora during World War II and her daughter, Lexie, in the late 70s. Lexie, disillusioned with life in London and no longer able to sing, returns to her late mother’s cottage in the Scottish village where she grew up. But she finds it hard to adjust to her new life.

I loved reading both the characters’ stories, and the background setting of the loch and the simple way of life added a touch of magic to the narrative. The two stories seamlessly interweave, and come together at the end with a lifelong secret being revealed.

I’ve already read a couple of books by this author and loved them, so I knew this would be a wonderful read. Her writing transports you to another time and place, with characters who will remain in your heart for a long time after you’ve finished reading.

A beautifully written story I highly recommend.

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