BLOG TOUR: The Day That Changed Everything by Catherine Miller

This is a heart-warming and emotional story exploring the meaning of family and motherhood.

When you lose the love of your life, how do you find yourself again?For Tabitha, the day that changed everything started like any other.
She woke up, slid her feet into fluffy slippers, wrapped herself in a dressing gown and tiptoed out of her bedroom, leaving her husband Andy sleeping. Downstairs, she boiled the kettle and enjoyed a cup of tea as the sun rose.
Upstairs, Andy’s alarm sounded, and Tabitha took him a freshly brewed coffee, like every other morning. Except today, the incessant beeping rang out and her husband hadn’t stirred. She called his name, she nudged his shoulder. But Andy wouldn’t wake up.
Three years later Tabitha is trying her hardest to get by in the shadow of her grief. She may have lost the love of her life but she won’t give up on the family they dreamed of. Fostering troublesome teenage girls and a newborn baby is a chance to piece together her broken heart.
But being a mother isn’t easy, and neither is healing the heartache she carries around. After losing everything, could saving these three children help Tabitha save herself too?

I really enjoyed how this book explores the meaning and importance of family through the eyes of Tabitha and the girls she fosters. Tabitha herself is the key to this story, starting from the devastating moment she discovers her husband has died. It’s truly heartbreaking and the emotion pours out the page. The story flashes back and forward between two timelines. It focuses on the time directly after her husband’s death and a couple of years after when she starts fostering. It gives the reader a better idea of her character development and allows us to really connect with Tabitha as we see her progress.

The writing throughout is really beautiful at times, but it’s what I’d expect from Miller, who’s novel 99 Days With You I absolutely adored. It’s emotive, passionate, devastating at times and she writes everything that Tabitha feels so well. It’s a brilliant exploration into human emotions.

The two teenagers that Tabitha fosters, Syd and Max, are an excellent addition to Tabitha’s life. They are funny, stroppy, typical teenagers, but they are also genuinely struggling with their own emotions and experiences. The way that Miller manages to get this across without writing from the perspective of the twins is truly excellent.

This is a book less about a dramatic storyline and more about the characters and themes. I would highly recommend this for someone who wants to lose themselves in a character-driven, emotional and well-written book.

The Day That Changed Everything
Catherine Miller
Bookouture, 17th Jan 2020

Safe House by Jo Jakeman

Full of mystery, suspense and a stormy setting, this book is intriguing throughout.

The morning after a terrible storm, a woman turns up in a remote Cornish village. She calls herself Charlie, but it’s a name she’s only had for a few days. She keeps herself to herself, reluctant to integrate with the locals. Because Charlie has a secret.
Charlie was in prison for providing a false alibi for a murderer. But Lee Fisher wasn’t a murderer to her; he was the man she loved. Convinced of his innocence, Charlie said she was with him the night a young woman was killed. This sacrifice cost her everything.
And now she has a chance to start again. But someone is watching her, waiting for her, wondering if she’s really paid the price for what she did.

This is not your normal thriller – this is a thriller with a domestic drama feel to it and it really keeps you hooked throughout. Charlie’s flashbacks and memories of the past played strongly on domestic themes and the reader was made to feel really conflicted about Charlie herself. It was clever writing at times, making the reader question how they felt about Charlie.

The plot is fast-paced and tricky to predict – with lots of new characters being introduced and the finger of suspicion being pointed at all of them, there are times when it’s hard to guess who is behind the mysterious things that keep happening to Charlie. All the characters bring something to the story, there’s not one person who seems to be involved for the sake of it. Each person helps deflect suspicion, leaving the reader confused and curious right until the last minute.

I thought the ending was built up perfectly, with a nice storm to go alongside the suspense and emotions that Charlie was feeling. It was one of those chapters you just have to finish, and left the reader feeling satisfied by the end. The whole way through Charlie’s character and choices was described brilliantly, making the reader feel a connection with her right until the end and I loved the parts that delved into her past. It made the ending mean even more and overall everything tied in together nicely.

This is the perfect book to blend the genres of thriller and domestic drama together, with great characters and a plot full of suspense. I was hooked throughout and would recommend this to anyone.

Safe House
Jo Jakeman
Vintage, 31st October 2019

Bookish Bites: Secret Service by Tom Bradby

To those who don’t really know her, Kate Henderson’s life must seem perfectly ordinary. But she is in fact a senior MI6 officer, who right now is nursing the political equivalent of a nuclear bomb. While heading up the Russia Desk of the Secret Intelligent Service, one of Kate’s undercover operations has revealed some alarming evidence. Evidence that a senior UK politician is a high level Russian informer.
Determined to find out who it is, Kate must risk everything to get to the truth. Until a young woman is brutally murdered as a consequence, which puts Kate and her team under the spotlight.
With blood on her hands, her reputation to uphold, her family hanging by a thread and a leadership election looming, Kate is quickly running out of options and out of time
.

Loved Kate, the main character in this. She was tenacious, determined and a really likeable female lead.

Disliked the fact that the beginning took a little while to get into – but after a few chapters I started to really enjoy it.

Favourite moment? The ending – it sounds like the obvious choice but it wrapped up everything plot and sub-plot happening throughout the book. It combined elements of the spy, domestic and mystery genres to create a tense ending with a big reveal.

Favourite character? Kate! It was refreshing to read an action-packed MI6 novel like this with a really strong and well-balanced female lead, especially in a genre which is dominated by male characters.

Final comments? This was a fast-paced, action-packed but unusual spy/crime novel. It had brilliant characters and a plot that really picked up the pace. This has something that would appeal to anyone, so I’d definitely recommend it.

Secret Service
Tom Bradby
Atlantic Press, 5th November 2019

BLOG TOUR: Hold Your Tongue by Deborah Masson

This is probably one of the most chilling and gripping detective debuts I’ve read this year.

A brutal murder.
A young woman’s body is discovered with horrifying injuries, a recent newspaper cutting pinned to her clothing, and a particular body part missing.
A detective with everything to prove.
This is her only chance to redeem herself.
A serial killer with nothing to lose.
He’s waited years, and his reign of terror has only just begun . . .
On Detective Eve Hunter’s first Monday back at work following enforced leave, she is called to the scene of this gruesome crime. Hunter and her team spend the week chasing leads, until the following Tuesday, another body is discovered in similar circumstances. Each week brings another death and battling against a team who has lost respect for her and her own personal demons, Hunter must put herself inside the mind of a depraved killer if she is to stop this. . .

This starts off, quite frankly, with a horrendous but brilliant flashback. The insight that the reader is provided with into the mind of this killer is really chilling and helps set the tone for the whole book.

For DI Eve Hunter however, this is not an easy first day back. She is thrust into this horrifying crime, which seems to have no reason or pattern and the number of victims just keeps rising. Two key things for me that I need when reading a new detective book is a gripping start and a solid detective, and this certainly has both of those! I really liked Eve, she’s so easy to connect with but there are definitely elements of her past or personality that Masson keeps hidden, allowing for more in-depth character writing for later books in the series perhaps. There are clear vulnerabilities and weak spots for Eve and watching her battle these throughout the book makes her more likeable for the reader. She isn’t perfect, but that’s why she seems so real and solid.

This book also introduces the rest of Eve’s detective team and yet again Masson has done this excellently! All of the team have their weaknesses and strengths, and I personally liked all of them… even Ferguson by the end! (You’ll need to read it to see what I mean…!) But for me, I also liked the fact that they didn’t work perfectly as a team, they weren’t immediately successful, and watching the conflicts rise within the team kept me wanting more. I wanted to know if they could solve it, if they could all get past their issues, and it was really rewarding seeing each character develop and progress in their own way.

Turning to the actual crime now… how utterly horrible! The idea of taking the tongues of the victims was pretty grim, but it also clearly had a meaning behind it that was always just within reach but not quite figured out yet. The pace of this was really good, I felt that Masson allowed just enough time of the team feeling clueless and not getting anywhere before starting to drop clues and tips and the odd red herring. Once the team started getting somewhere the pace picked up even more. I thought the ending was brilliant, all the dots joined together at just the right time to build to really disturbing final scene.

I really did love this, I would highly recommend this to anyone wanting to find a new detective book to read and I do hope there are more DI Eve Hunter books to come! It’s chilling, fascinating and really gets under your skin at times… you’ll find it hard to put it down.

Hold Your Tongue
Deborah Masson
Transworld, 20th November 2019

BLOG TOUR: In My Mother’s Name by Laura Elliot

I LOVED this!

A swallow flutters its wings into a dimly lit attic as Adele Foyle stumbles across the secret diary of the mother she has never met, and a shocking account of a crime committed over twenty-five years ago…
With her mother’s words etched in her mind and in the pages tucked into her jacket pocket, Adele delays joining her fiancé for a new life abroad and returns to Reedstown, the last place her mother, Marianne, was seen alive. She has one purpose: to find those who carried out the devastating attack on her mother.
Born into a Mother and Baby home run by Gloria Thornton, Adele needs to first unlock the disturbing chain of events that led to her own birth if she is to understand what happened to her mother.
But news of Adele’s arrival and the diary spread like wildfire amongst the small close-knit community. Old memories are stirring up fresh wounds.
No-one wants the truth to be told. The diary is just a story, they say. Yet as Adele begins to unravel the layers of deceit, the tissue paper lies begin to fragment and her own relationship starts to break down.
Her mother was telling the truth. Adele just has to prove it, even if it puts her own life in terrible danger.

I absolutely loved this book. It was fast paced, unusual, emotional and full of historical intrigue which I loved. This combination of genres was really unique and kept me hooked throughout. 

Adele was such a great character. She was determined, passionate, and full of love. I really liked her connection with her mother, despite never having met her. I thought that the brief flashbacks with Marianne, via her diary, really worked as they helped to connect both Adele and the reader with Marianne. 

The plot was easy to follow and yet full of action. There was both the present and the past to understand, but the writing is so clear that it kept me hooked the whole time. It started off with a brilliantly sudden and shocking beginning and to be honest, it ended the same way. 

I would definitely recommend this for someone who wants a book with great characters, a story full of intrigue and a blend of some of the best genres. 

In My Mother’s Name
Laura Elliot
Bookouture, 24th October 2019

BLOG TOUR: Reckless Girl by Emma Tallon

I have loved this entire series so far, and this book was once again a brilliantly fast-paced, intricate and emotional plot!

She’s back and this time she has a score to settle.
Anna Davis and Freddie Tyler are finally getting their lives back on track when an unexpected face turns up on Freddie’s doorstep. Someone from the past. And she delivers a blow that will tear their lives apart.
Reeling from the news, Anna throws herself into her work. Her clubs are doing well and she’s opening a new business venture with best friend, Tanya. But she’s worried that her relationship with Freddie could be about to fall apart.
Freddie’s got big problems with the business. A new gang is in town, and they’re muscling in on Tyler turf and need to be dealt with. Plus, he’s still being closely watched by a Met detective determined to bring him down.
As Freddie plots to take out his rivals, tensions between him and Anna grow. Could this spell the end of their relationship? And will the rogue detective finally get the chance to arrest Freddie – burning the empire he’s built from scratch to the ground?

What an emotional rollercoaster this book was! Just before reading Reckless Girl I re-read the entire rest of the series, so I was totally in the zone to enjoy this even more than I would have done anyway.

I just love the characters in this series. Anna is a really strong, fierce and independent woman, and I’ve always liked the way her and Freddie’s relationship is written. They are not presented as a couple with all the power in one half, they are written as equals, with a great working relationship and real emotion between them romantically as well. Anna uses her emotions to motivate herself through difficult times, and it’s really powerful. I’ve always really liked Freddie as well, he’s a typical strong man, but very attuned to Anna’s emotions and needs. I love the way his morals are investigated at times, and there are clear do’s and don’t’s for him and his family.

The story in this book hits the reader deep. It plays on Anna’s deepest needs and wants, and it’s so emotional at times. It’s particularly interesting seeing how Freddie reacts to Anna. After the last book, where Anna was 100x more vulnerable and fragile, it’s great to see her coming back to her normal self, and how Freddie gives her the space she needs to do this. Their relationship isn’t perfect all the time, but that’s why I like them both so much, as it feels real.

The ending to this totally took me by surprise. It had sort of been building for a while, but I didn’t think Tallon would actually go there and do it! But this is why I like this series, is that it’s different and often unexpected. I would definitely recommend this book, and the whole series, as I love them.

Reckless Girl
Emma Tallon
Bookouture, 8th October 2019

Pretty Guilty Women by Gina LaManna

This was an emotional, tense and brilliantly written character focused novel.

You are cordially invited to the wedding of the year, at the famously luxurious Serenity Spa & Resort on the Californian coast . . .
Ginger is an overworked, under-pampered mother of three who’s barely holding the family together when she learns a secret about her daughter that could ruin everything.
Lulu is a wealthy retiree with four ex-husbands, and a fifth on the way.
Emily harbours a dark secret, which she’s become expert at forgetting with the help of a bottle of wine.
Kate is a powerhouse lawyer with her life in order – except for one little problem that won’t go away.
Only twenty-four hours later a man is found murdered.
All Detective Ramone knows for certain is that these four women sit calmly across from him, offering four very different confessions, each insisting they acted alone.
Why would they confess to the same crime? Only they know the answer – and they’re not telling.

I loved how this was divided between the four women, offering different perspectives on the same events, and on each other. I particularly love character-focused novels, and this did exactly that.

Ginger was the typical over-worked mother, caring and protective but also exhausted and frazzled. She gave life to her parts of the story, and I really liked her chapters especially.

Lulu was actually quite hilarious, despite her story being quite heartbreaking to read. Her attitude in the face of change was brilliant. She was independent, strong, but yet still really vulnerable, and her character had such depth.

Emily was a really fascinating addition to the group. Her issues ran deep, and this was clear right from the beginning. She gave a real darkness to the group in my opinion, but it balanced really well with the other women in the group.

Kate was absolutely my favourite. She was pretty badass, easy to like and easy to empathise with. Her story and character arc was by far my favourite of all the four women, and I was so pleased with how her story ended.

The actual plot was pretty slow, but this is a character-focused novel, and it does that really well. The women all have different and unique personalities and it’s such a fascinating examination of womanhood, female relationships and life itself. The ending did take me by surprise, and it was very satisfying, with the right amount of tension and surprise.

Pretty Guilty Women
Gina LaManna
Sphere, 24th September