Let’s Fly by Giles Fraser

The Blurb

Nick Hunter is about to find out. He made a colossal mistake when he was barely out of school and now his whole world is in jeopardy as he races against the clock to save his family and his business from disaster.
In 1979 Hunter heads to London, and a squat in Notting Hill, with dreams of musical success. With his fellow squatters he forms a band and they record four short songs before tensions and misunderstandings drive them apart. Nick lies and tells the record company the songs are all his own work. Six years later one of the songs, Let’s Fly, is picked as the soundtrack to a blockbuster movie and Nick makes a fortune in royalties.
In 2017, Nick, his wife Sam and daughter Jen now live in the house opposite his old squat. His successful food business is about to go public, but someone is on his back. Nick is in massive debt and the heavies are closing in. Disasters are befalling the business just at the wrong time. Then Sam is snatched and, with a price on her head, Nick must come up with the money or lose her. With his life and family on the line – and just days to play with – Nick has to stop whoever is destroying his life and come clean with those he loves in order to hang on to everything he holds dear.

The Author

Giles Fraser co-founded and runs Brands2Life, one of the world’s leading PR and communications agencies specialising in the technology and online sectors. He studied under Richard Skinner at The Faber Academy in 2015/16. He lives in Barnes, West London.

The Review

I enjoyed this very much although I found Nick to be a bit of an unlikeable character. I couldn’t quite warm to him because he had way too many secrets held within him.

I think some of his secrets might be in his own imagination, but even then he just seems a wee bit too complicated for me.

I did enjoy the general story, the twists within it, and the way the descriptions of the way Notting Hill had changed between times.

I’d definitely be interested in reading more from this author in the future as overall it’s a very good story.

With thanks to Anne Cater, the Author and publisher for the advanced reading copy of this book.

Everything happens for a reason by Katie Allen

The Blurb

Mum-to-be Rachel did everything right, but it all went wrong. Her son, Luke, was stillborn and she finds herself on maternity leave without a baby, trying to make sense of her loss.
When a misguided well-wisher tells her that ‘everything happens for a reason’, she becomes obsessed with finding that reason, driven by grief and convinced that she is somehow to blame. She remembers that on the day she discovered her pregnancy, she’d stopped a man from jumping in front of a train, and she’s now certain that saving his life cost her the life of her son.
Desperate to find him, she enlists an unlikely ally in Lola, an Underground worker, and Lola’s seven-year-old daughter, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results…
Both a heart-wrenching portrait of grief and a gloriously uplifting and disarmingly funny story of a young woman’s determination, Everything Happens for a Reason is a bittersweet, life-affirming and, quite simply, unforgettable read.

The Author

Everything Happens for a Reason is Katie’s first novel. She used to be a journalist and columnist at the Guardian and Observer, and started her career as a Reuters correspondent in Berlin and London. The events in Everything Happens for a Reason are fiction, but the premise is loosely autobiographical. Katie’s son, Finn, was stillborn in 2010, and her character’s experience of grief and being on maternity leave without a baby is based on her own. And yes, someone did say to her ‘Everything happens for a reason’.
Katie grew up in Warwickshire and now lives in South London with her husband, children, dog, cat and stick insects. When she’s not writing or walking children and dogs, Katie loves baking, playing the piano, reading news and wishing she had written other people’s brilliant novels.

The Review

This is a novel I couldn’t pass by. It’s obvious in the telling that the author has personal experience of having a stillborn child. I know to the degree of miscarriage and the things people say to make you feel better, which truthfully, never do.

This was brutally honest and I did at times have to lay it aside, take a deep breath and a tissue. After a short while, I’d dive back in.

I loved the addition of Lola and the friendship there. It really made the story keep moving and going between emails to her stillborn baby and the obsession to find the man she’s sure is the reason.

Beautiful, heart wrenching and although I bawled, I loved it. So full of meaning, beauty and even moments of humour. I can’t recommend this more.

Thanks to Anne Cater, Orenda Books and the author for the advanced reading copy of this book.

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

The Blurb

From the author of the global #1 bestselling debut The Silent Patient comes a spellbinding literary thriller which weaves together Greek mythology, psychology, and murder…

St Christopher’s College, Cambridge, is a closed world to most.

For Mariana Andros – a group therapist struggling through her private grief – it’s where she met her late husband. For her niece, Zoe, it’s the tragic scene of her best friend’s murder.

As memory and mystery entangle Mariana, she finds a society full of secrets, which has been shocked to its core by the murder of one of its own.

Because behind its idyllic beauty is a web of jealousy and rage which emanates from an exclusive set of students known only as The Maidens. A group under the sinister influence of the enigmatic professor Edward Fosca.

A man who seems to know more than anyone about the murders – and the victims. And the man who will become the prime suspect in Mariana’s investigation – an obsession which will unravel everything…

The Maidens is a story of love, and of grief – of what makes us who we are, and what makes us kill.

The Author

Alex Michaelides was born and raised in Cyprus. He has an M.A. in English Literature from Trinity College, Cambridge University, and an M.A. in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. The Silent Patient was his first novel. It spent more than a year on the New York Timesbestseller list and sold in a record-breaking fifty countries. He lives in London.

The Review

I really enjoyed this book. A thriller, a mystery and then throw in some Greek mythology. What’s not to like?

It’s full of perfectly executed misdirection, lots of red herrings that lead you down entirely blind alleys and then shows you what was in front of your nose the whole time…almost!

I’d recommend reading this clever book and just becoming lost in its pages for a while. Clever, interesting and just what I needed to read right now!

With thanks to Anne Cater, the Author and publisher for the advanced reading copy of this book.

Meat is Murder by Chris McDonald

The Blurb

McNulty’s Meats, one of Stonebridge’s oldest businesses, is about to be taken over in a lucrative deal that would make brothers Ron and Kevin very rich men indeed. Unfortunately for them, local activist Tyler Love has other ideas. Convinced that the deal would be bad for the town, he burns the place to the ground and inadvertently kills himself in the process.

At least, that’s what the police think.

Tyler’s mum disagrees and pleads with amateur sleuths Adam and Colin to investigate. Although, going up against the psychopathic McNulty brothers, a rival businessman, a group of hippies, and a girlfriend with secrets of her own might not be such a good idea… Someone has something to hide, and will go to great lengths to keep that secret buried.

Meat is Murder is the third book in The Stonebridge Mysteries series of Cosy Crime novellas.

About the series:

Stonebridge is a small town on the north coast of Northern Ireland. Most of its inhabitants are friendly, happy people. Most of them… Because bad things happen even in the happiest of places. It’s a good thing, then, that Adam Whyte and Colin McLaughlin call Stonebridge home.
Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of detective shows, a misplaced sense of confidence and a keen desire to see justice done, these two are the closest thing the town has to saviours. Which isn’t that reassuring…

The Author

Originally hailing from the north coast of Northern Ireland and now residing in South Manchester, Chris McDonald has always been a reader. At primary school, The Hardy Boys inspired his love of adventure before his reading world was opened up by Chuck Palahniuk and the gritty world of crime. A Wash of Black is his first attempt at writing a book. He came up with the initial idea whilst feeding his baby in the middle of the night, which may not be the best thing to admit, considering the content. He is a fan of 5-a-side football, heavy metal and dogs. Whispers in the Dark is the second installment in the DI Erika Piper series, and Chris is currently working on his latest series, The Stonebridge Mysteries, published by Red Dog Press in 2021.

The Review

Another fantastic instalment in the Stonebridge Series.

Adam and Colin are developing as characters and it clearly shows how life has moved on, and things are changing for them. Both characters are well rounded and likeable, making you want to invest your time in them.

These are short reads, so perfect if you only have time to read something quickly, or a full length novel isn’t your thing.

This doesn’t mean, however, that you get short changed on a short story. These have to be some of my favourite books. Cosy crime has become something I now enjoy, and I’d say that was solely due to the writing of Chris McDonald.

There’s always humour and real down to earth things in the pages, although there’s a great balance of escapism too.

If you’ve not yet read any of these books, I’d strongly suggest you put that right quickly. I also have to save the covers of these books are fantastic. Very classic Agatha Christie mixed with up to date design.

With thanks to the publisher and the author for the advanced reading copy of this book.

This is how we are human by Louise Beech

The Blurb

Sebastian James Murphy is twenty years, six months and two days old. He loves swimming, fried eggs and Billy Ocean. Sebastian
is autistic. And lonely. Veronica wants her son Sebastian to be happy, and she wants the world to accept him for who he is. She is also thinking about paying a professional to give him what he desperately wants.
Violetta is a high-class escort, who steps out into the night thinking only of money. Of her nursing degree. Paying for her dad’s care. Getting through the dark.
When these three lives collide, and intertwine in unexpected ways, everything changes. For everyone.
Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, This Is How We Are Human is a powerful, moving and thoughtful drama about a mother’s love for her son, about getting it wrong when we think we know what’s best, about the lengths we go to care for family and to survive.

The Author


Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her 2019 novel Call Me Star Girl won Best magazine Book of the Year, and was followed by I Am Dust.

The Review

This is the best book I’ve read this year. And I’ve been waiting for it with baited breath, hoping and knowing, simultaneously that it would be exactly what people need to read. It is.

Whatever else I’ve read before, I’m not dismissing that they were great books, but Louise Beech broke my heart. Not once, not twice but into a thousand tiny pieces. Can you give ten stars? No! I would if I could.

This is how we are human hits the nail on the head in a very straightforward and honest way. I have worked with people on the ASD spectrum in the past, and they are the kindest most honest people I’ve ever come across. That isn’t a shortcoming, it’s magical and refreshing. The prejudice faced in the book is real for them every single day and they do know, even if they say nothing.

I read this book in a single sitting, with tears pouring down my face. Nodding in recognition at not only Sebastians struggles, but those of his Mum Veronica and Violetta. I felt for every character in a different way and I really can’t say how much I loved this book.

What I can say however, is that it’s now my favourite Louise Beech book, it’s one of my favourite books so far, and if you have a book that really can’t be missed this year, it’s this one! Also, if you don’t know anyone on the ASD spectrum, but think you know what ‘they’ are like, how ‘they’ think, read this! You will find that ‘they’ are really just ‘you’ and ‘I’ in a different skin, with a different skin, but stigmatised by ‘those’ who don’t take the time.

Thanks for the advanced reading copy of this book to Anne Cater, Orenda Books and Louise Beech for this wonderful book.

I’ll pray when I’m dying by Stephen Golds *BookBlitz*

The Blurb

DO ALL SONS BECOME THEIR FATHERS?

Ben Hughes is a corrupt Boston Vice Detective and bagman for the Southie Mob.

Already desperately struggling with obsessive compulsions and memories of a traumatic childhood, his world begins to fall apart at the seams, triggered by the photograph of a missing child in the newspaper and the anniversary of his father’s death twenty years earlier. 

‘I’LL PRAY WHEN I’M DYING’ IS THE STORY OF A BAD MAN BECOMING WORSE…

The Author

Stephen J. Golds was born in North London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life. 

He writes primarily in the noir and dirty realism genres and is the poetry editor of Close to the Bone Press and editor of Punk Noir Magazine. Some of his writing influences are Charles Bukowski, John Fante, James M. Cain, Tobias Wolff and Jim Thompson. 

He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling the world, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs.

He is the author of Say Goodbye When I’m Gone, I’ll Pray When I’m Dying, and Always the Dead, (Red Dog Press) as well as Poems for Ghosts in Empty Tenement Windows and the story and poetry collection Love Like Bleeding Out With an Empty Gun in Your Hand.

He has had stories and poetry published in a wide variety of online magazines and anthologies.

Find him on twitter @SteveGone58

Do they? Do they?

RDP: https://www.reddogpress.co.uk/product-page/i-ll-pray-when-i-m-dying

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B096KM1384

Amazon Universal: mybook.to/PrayWhenDying

Google Play Books: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=JHUxEAAAQBAJ

*Book Blitz * Far From the Tree by Rob Parker

The Blurb

Twenty-seven bodies, vacuum-packed, buried in a woodland trench – some have been there for years, some for just days.

DI Foley finds himself the Senior Investigating Officer on one of the largest murder cases the country has ever seen. This could make his career.

But as new discoveries unfold, this horrific gangland crime suddenly gets personal. Too personal.

Foley has a choice. Solve the crime and risk his family? Or leave well alone?

To a man like Brendan, that’s no choice at all…

Far From the Tree is the first in the Thirty Miles Trilogy and was an Audible #1 Bestseller

The Author

Rob Parker is a married father of three, who lives in Warrington, UK. The author of the Ben Bracken thrillers, Crook’s Hollow and the #1 Audible bestseller Far FromThe Tree enjoys a rural life, writing horrible things between school runs. Rob writes full time, attends various author events across the UK, and boxes regularly for charity.

He spends a lot of time in schools across the North, encouraging literacy, story-telling and creative-writing, and somehow squeezes in time to co-host the For Your Reconsideration film podcast, appear regularly on The Blood Brothers Crime Podcast, and is a member of the Northern Crime Syndicate.

The Red Dog shop (all formats available) https://www.reddogpress.co.uk/product-page/far-from-the-tree-limited-hardback-edition

Amazon mybook.to/FarFromTheTree

Publication date: 2 July 2021

The Cursed Girls by Caro Ramsay

The Blurb

Megan Melvick has spent years avoiding her inheritance, the dark and disquieting family estate Benbrae, now home only to her distant, aristocratic father, and her sister Melissa, dying quietly in an upstairs bedroom. Trapped behind her unreliable hearing aids and vulnerable to what others want her to see, Megan is unable to find the answers she wants: why is there a new woman on her father’s arm? And why has their absent mother not returned to say a final goodbye to Melissa?

Benbrae has always been a place of loss and misfortune for Megan, but as the Melvick family diminishes still further, she must ask one final question. If there is a curse on the house, will she be its next victim?

This gripping psychological thriller features Megan Melvick, a disabled woman with a traumatic past, fighting the malevolent curse on her isolated family estate

The Author

Caro Ramsay is the Glaswegian author of the critically acclaimed Anderson and Costello series, the first of which, Absolution, was shortlisted for the CWA’s New Blood Dagger for best debut of the year. The ninth book in the series, The Suffering of Strangers, was longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize 2018.

@CaroRamsayBooks | caroramsay.com

The Review

I really enjoyed this mystery/thriller story. The book starts off with a raft of questions and it gradually answers them via the clever use of a dual voice story.

There are secrets, lies and misdirection oozing from the pages. As in life it’s misunderstanding that causes a lot of problems.

If this book doesn’t hook you from the off I’d be surprised to say the least. Caro Ramsay has a unique and tantalising way of story telling that can draw anyone in to her work. This book though entirely different, is not an exception to that. I thoroughly enjoyed every second.

With thanks to Anne Cater, The Author and publisher for the advanced reading copy of this book.

Return to Harlech by Ruth Torjussen

The Blurb

When Tess arranges a weekend love trip back to husband Steve’s hometown, her secret plan to make a baby is not the only trap that he is walking into… 

 Tess and Steve are a dysfunctional couple in a rocky marriage. Despite this Tess yearns for a baby more than a divorce and plans a secret conception during a trip to her husband’s hometown of Harlech. But when they get there Steve is anything but horny. Instead, he begins to remember his supposed halcyon days of childhood with horrible clarity. He wasn’t the popular sports hero he thought he was. Now it seems his friends don’t want to know and he has no memory of the enthusiastic locals who greet him.

A young girl comes to Tess in her dreams, is this her child trying to warn her? Or the child of the mysterious Anwen who has lent them the cottage?  With her hopes for pregnancy fading, she longs for a different future without her domineering husband, but can she survive without him? 

 And can Steve survive his return to Harlech as the locals seek retribution for the crimes of his past.  

The Author

Ruth Torjussen grew up in Stoke but now lives and works in Brighton as a Shared Lives Carer.

She is a passionate advocate of eating local food grown through regenerative farming as the answer to climate change.

Follow her on Twitter @RTorjussen,

Instagram @ruth_torjussen

YouTube Torjussen Ruth

The Review

I enjoyed this book, although it is dark. I can’t say I liked either of the characters, but it’s a great exploration of people. The who they are, as opposed to who they think they are. Until they find out the truth.

The book is very descriptive and it does haul you in, so you want to know what happens and it’s a slow burn without being too slow.

Thanks to LoveBooksGroup, the Author and publisher for the advanced reading copy of this book.

Cwen by Alice Albinia

The Blurb

An archipelago off the east coast of Britain comes under female rule. Using resources traditionally the preserve of men — inspired by ancient British stories of islands where women ran society and controlled the climate — the women quietly take charge of the islands’ education system, businesses and civic institutions. 
        
But a revolution by stealth is not enough for Cwen. She has been here longer than the civilisation she has come back to haunt. Her name has ancient roots, reaching down into the earth and halfway around the world. The clouds are her children, and the waves; and the islands she inhabits have always belonged to women. Now she has returned to hold them to account.

Following in Cwen’s wake, young climate activists stage a rebellion against the patriarchy. A grandmother bequeaths her sons’ inheritance to a feminist foundation. And a public inquiry is launched into the archipelago’s outrageous mutiny. 

This remarkable novel is a portrait of a world on the cusp of change. Exploring female power and female potential, both to shelter and to harm, it reaches deep into Britain’s matriarchal past, to ask how radical we might be, if given the chance.

The Author

Alice Albinia is the prize-winning author of two books, Empires of the Indus and Leela’s Book: A Novel. RLF Fellow at King’s College London, she has spent the past seven years living in and traveling around the edges of Britain, from Orkney to Anglesey, discovering female-centred epic stories which have inspired this novel and a work of non-fiction, The Britannias, due to be published by Allen Lane in 2022.

The Review

The book is told by the mythical Cwen and by those who are around at the time she is there and after.

I felt it showed that the strength of the women within the pages was a good reflection of what can be achieved when women band together. The book is part mythical as Cwen just disappears, but it’s also an absorbing feminist read.

It’s a good read and I enjoyed it. Time to brandish those torches!

With thanks to Serpents Tail and the Author for the advanced reading copy of this book.

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