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


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. 


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?


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*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)


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 |

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.

Bugger Banksy by Roy D Hacksaw

The Blurb

Did you ever wonder what happens to the inhabitants of a building after the artist known as Banksy leaves one of his artworks on their wall? Especially when there’s something slightly less than legal going on inside? Join Glyn and Kevin as they desperately try to keep their clandestine business secret after the world’s most famous graffiti artist makes his mark on the side of their old barn in South Wales, and their solitude is invaded by an endless parade of unlikely visitors…

The Author

For a council house kid from the middle of nowhere in the early eighties, the only real method of expressing yourself after leaving school was to shout very loud and bash things in a punk rock band. After stints in the nearly successful outfits DATWMF, the Beach Bums and the Cesspit Rebels, Roy remembered that an old English teacher told him he could write a bit and started up the fanzine Xerox Heaven, which was mostly about other fanzines. From there on he stumbled about doing the occasional writing gig before he found himself in London at the turn of the century editing an early student lifestyle website for Jim Kerr out of Simple Minds. That’s when he realised that he could probably start doing this larky for a living. Since then his journalistic highlights have included reviewing a noise festival in Shanghai for Metal Hammer, reporting from every Eurovision Song Contest since 1998, and answering the readers’ letters in Disney Princess magazine in the voice of Jessie The Cowgirl from Toy Story.

More recently he’s turned his hand to documentary filmmaking, and his first short film, The Bard’s Wife, was nominated for a dozen awards at festivals worldwide, and won a runners-up gong in the Whicker’s World Foundation Awards at the Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2017.

On top of that, he’s a retired semi-professional game show contestant, having appeared on shows as varied as The Weakest Link and Fifteen To One, via The Chase and Total Wipeout, to University Challenge and Mastermind, where his specialist subject was the children’s TV series Trumpton. In a case of poacher-turned-gamekeeper he now writes the questions, most notably on Tipping Point where he became the most prolific writer in the show’s history.

But he’s still happiest when he’s making a right old racket on stage in a dirty pub front of a handful of people, and is currently a member of the veteran bogroll-chucking duo Hacksaw, Bristol noise rock merchants GlueHorse, and the newly reformed eighties punk legends Chaotic Dischord.

He has absolutely no idea how he keeps getting away with all this nonsense, and fully expects to get found out for the chancer he is any day soon.

Roy was inspired to write Bugger Banksy after the illusive artist chucked up an artwork opposite his local chippy for Valentine’s Day, and he watched the unwelcome chaos that ensued for the unfortunate souls that lived on the other side of the wall.

The Review

What happens when you’re trying to do something and stay under the radar so you aren’t noticed, but somebody sticks a great big artwork on your shed and draws everyone’s attention to you?

This funny, witty and laugh out loud book follows just that story. It is full of comedic capers from the two main characters who are so hapless that they’re endlessly amusing.

A real good laugh out loud book that I’d recommend.

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

Save Her by Abigail Osborne

The Blurb

Bonded by their traumatic childhoods, Flora and Sophie are inseparable friends who married brothers. 

What they could not have anticipated was their mother-in-law, Cecelia. Disappointed that her children have married beneath them, Cecelia takes every opportunity to belittle and taunt her daughter’s-in-law.

When Cecelia learns that Flora and her son are moving away, her wrath escalates, and Flora’s world begins to fall apart. 

Meanwhile, Sophie’s life is also crumbling around her. Her marriage is not what it seems, and she is desperate to escape the clutches of the poisonous family she has married into. 

Is Flora being tormented or is she losing her mind?

Will Sophie and Flora be forced to leave their husbands in order to survive? 

With a mother-in-law like Cecelia, anything is possible…

The Author

Abigail is originally from the Lake District but moved to the West Midlands for University where she completed an English Literature & History degree. She lives in Worcestershire with her husband and is a board game fanatic, owning over 70 games. She has a huge collection of books, plays the violin, and used to play the piano until her husband sold it because it was too heavy to keep moving. Save Her is Abigail’s second novel. 

The Review


This is a fantastic read. It’s such a well written, twisting turning thriller. It has hints of crime on so many levels.

From the moment I opened it I was hooked and did not put the book down until it was finished. I just needed to know the who, what and why.

I hadn’t read anything by Abigail Osborne before, but I will definitely look out for her work now! Not only do I feel I may have a new favourite author on my list, but it’s definitely on my favourites of the year so far.

Absolutely astounding. It’s like starting on a roller coaster that starts slowly, then ramps it it up with sharp turns that leave you breathless.

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

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