Other Girls Like Me by Stephanie Davies #BlogTour

Hello and welcome back to my blog where today I have the pleasure of sharing an extract with you from Stephanie Davies’ inspirational new book Other Girls Like Me, a fascinating and lyrical coming of age memoir about a woman’s experiences at Greenham Common

The blurb …

Till now, Stephanie has done her best to play by the rules—which seem to be stacked against girls like her. It doesn’t help that she wants to play football, dress like a boy, and fight apartheid in South Africa—despite living in rural middle England—as she struggles to find her voice in a world where everything is different for girls.

Then she hears them on the radio. Greenham women—an irreverent group of lesbians, punk rockers, mothers, and activists who have set up camp outside a US military base to protest nuclear war—are calling for backups in the face of imminent eviction from their muddy tents. She heads there immediately, where a series of adventures—from a break-in to a nuclear research centre to a doomed love affair with a punk rock singer in a girl band—changes the course of her life forever. But the sense of community she has found is challenged when she faces tragedy at home.

Then she hears them on the radio. Greenham women—an irreverent group of lesbians, punk rockers, mothers, and activists who have set up camp outside a US military base to protest nuclear war—are calling for backups in the face of imminent eviction from their muddy tents. She heads there immediately, where a series of adventures—from a break-in to a nuclear research centre to a doomed love affair with a punk rock singer in a girl band—changes the course of her life forever. But the sense of community she has found is challenged when she faces tragedy at home.

Sneak preview …

Chapter One

FREE NELSON MANDELA The Specials

A CHILDHOOD IN St. Mary Bourne—an English village of thatched roof cottages winding along the banks of the Bourne River with its swaying water weeds, frogspawn, and fluttering ducks—was a childhood filled with wonders. I waded through fresh waters as the river rose anew from its barren bed each spring; swung across the river on tyres attached to ropes on summer nights; warmed my hands at autumn bonfires on golden evenings; and rolled in deep snow banks in the winter.

My family of six lived at the edge of the village, behind the flint schoolhouse adjacent to the primary school that my three siblings and I attended. There were eleven pupils in my year, with funny last names like Bone and Strange and Gibbons. We arrived in this peculiar land from the industrial north when I was six, my sister Kate was nine, my brother, Robert, four, with baby Sarah arriving not long after we did, bundled out of the ambulance one November afternoon and bustled into the bright kitchen for us to peer at in curiosity. People thought our Northern accents strange, but we soon lost them and became posh instead, never catching the lilting Hampshire accent that was so different from any I had ever heard.

Everything was different here. No lorries or buses rumbled past our front door, but instead there were fields and birds and horses wherever I looked, accompanied by the soothing sound of wood pigeons, hidden in trees. I lost myself in books and played classical guitar in the privacy of my attic bedroom, its slanted skylight revealing the stars, moon, and clouds in the changing sky. One evening at dusk, I watched spellbound from my bedroom window as two steaming bulls locked horns on the hill behind our house, the air visible from their flaring nostrils as they snorted and pounded the ground, dust flying. My father had landed a new job in what seemed like paradise.

But just fifteen miles away, a stretch of ancient common land, with jumping deer, bounding rabbits, and soaring kestrels, had been turned into an air force base that was soon to house the deadliest weapons ever held on our green and pleasant land: American cruise missiles, poised to strike against the Soviet Union. The first tiny signs came to us like the first buds of flowers in spring—first one American military family, then another, rented out cottages in the village; first one news piece, then another, announced the mounting support of our Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for the United States President Ronald Reagan’s build up to war.

St. Mary Bourne may have seemed like an unlikely breeding ground for an activist. But by the time the cruise missiles arrived, I was ready for them.

And to tempt you even further, here are some wonderful endorsements for this book …

“I read the first 200 pages of Other Girls Like Me in one sitting, I couldn’t put it down. It’s my story and yet it’s not. It speaks to all of us radicals, feminists, and lesbians who grew up in the 70s and 80s. Stephanie’s warmth and compassion shine through these pages. What a life!” — NERI TANNENBAUM, PRODUCER, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK

“Other Girls Like Me is funny and sad, powerful and inspirational, especially in these times that are calling for all of us to become activists. And Stephanie Davies can write. Her prose is lyrical, even at times mesmerizing.” — BEVERLY DONOFRIO, RIDING IN CARS WITH BOYS

“Other Girls Like Me is about women being concerned about the horrors in our world and being willing to protest and take nonviolent direct action – which is a very good thing. I do hope that lots of people read it and are inspired to take action themselves!”  ANGIE ZELTER, FOUNDER, EXTINCTION REBELLION PEACE

“Other Girls Like Me is a lyrical, fluent and elegant read—it is also funny and poignant in equal measure. In the pre Greta Thunberg era, this personal account of one young woman’s journey into activism is captivating and compelling—and a salient reminder of how the power and solidarity of communities of people with shared values can shape and change our lives—for good!” — ANN LIMB, CHAIR OF THE SCOUTS, #1 2019 OUTSTANDING LIST OF LGBT+ PUBLIC SECTOR EXECUTIVES

About the Author …

Photography: Nyra Lang

Stephanie Davies is a communications consultant who worked for many years as the Director of Public Education for Doctors Without Borders. A UK native, Stephanie moved to New York in 1991, where she taught English Composition at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus and led research trips to Cuba. Before moving to New York, she co-edited a grassroots LGBT magazine in Brighton called A Queer Tribe. Stephanie earned a teaching degree from Aberystwyth University in Wales, and a BA in European Studies from Bath University, England. She grew up in a small rural village in Hampshire, where much of her first book, Other Girls Like Me, takes place.

Photography: Ming de Nasty

The publisher – Bedazzled Ink is dedicated to publishing literary fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books that celebrate the unique and under-represented voices of women.

Other Girls Like Me is OUT NOW!

For all publicity enquiries, please contact Midas PR:

Bei Guo | publicitydesk4@midaspr.co.uk | 020 7361 7860

The Last Charm by Ella Allbright #BookReview

I recently took part in a week long readalong to celebrate publication of this gorgeous book with the publishers One More Chapter. Thank you so much to Claire Fenby at One More Chapter and Ella Allbright for inviting me to take part. I really enjoyed following the activities and chatting to the other bloggers involved, as well as reading this lovely story which was kindly gifted to me via Netgalley.

The blurb …

Leila’s charm bracelet tells a story of love, a story of loss, a story of hope.

This is the story of her … and the story of Jake.

When Leila Jones loses her precious charm bracelet and a stranger finds it, she has to tell the story of how she got the charms to prove she’s the owner. Each and every one is a precious memory of her life with Jake.

So Leila starts at the beginning, recounting the charms and experiences that have led her to the present. A present she never could have expected when she met Jake nearly twenty years ago …

My review …

I loved the concept for this story which starts when someone finds Leila’s precious charm bracelet and Leila has to prove that the bracelet is hers by telling the story behind each charm. Leila and Jake are around 12 years old when they first meet as children and become friends. They feel a strong bond straightaway, as they both have to deal with trauma in their childhoods; Leila has been abandoned by her mother and Jake’s dad is an abusive drunk. Leila moves away and they come in and out of each other’s lives for years. Jake always seems to turn up at the right time for Leila, like some sort of guardian angel, and he sends her a charm for every significant event in her life.

I completely fell in love with Jake’s handsome, strong and caring character and the main plot of the story is the ‘will they, won’t they’ romance between the two. Leila’s character is very frustrating as she was constantly pushing Jake away, but understandably so as she is afraid of commitment and uses anger as a way of protecting herself from abandonment, but it is Jake who understands her better than anyone and wants to help her to heal.

The supporting characters are just as charming, from Leila’s dad, who does a fantastic job of raising Leila alone, to Leila’s lovely group of female friends.

The setting of the story plays a big part in this book and you can tell that the author loves the pretty coastal town of Dorset. The beaches and coves are wonderfully described and they are a place of sanctuary for Leila throughout this story.

Leila and Jake take us on an emotional journey through the years and you really do need to keep the tissues handy for this one as the author writes about different forms of abuse and grief expertly and sensitively. The story is very well written all round and once I’d started, it was very hard to put down. Fans of romantic fiction will adore this heartbreaking love story.

About the author …

A self-confessed reading addict, Ella Allbright writes commercial women’s fiction set in her beautiful home county of Dorset. Her first novel in this genre, The Last Charm, was published on 21st August 2020 by One More Chapter, an imprint of HarperCollins, and she’s currently hard at work on her next book. Ella is represented by agent Hattie Grunewald at The Blair Partnership, who represent J.K.Rowling.

Ella also writes at Nikki Moore, the author of the popular #LoveLondon romance series. A number of the novellas featured in the Top 100 short story charts on Kobo and the Top 20 in the Amazon UK bestsellers Holiday chart, and in 2018 the collection was released in Italy. Her first published work was the short story A Night to Remember in the bestselling Mills & Boon/RNA anthology Truly, Madly, Deeply. Her debut romance Crazy, Undercover, Love was shortlisted for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award 2015.

When not writing or reading, she can usually be found working in her HR day job, walking the family’s cute beagle puppy or watching a Netflix series!

You can connect with Ella/Nikki on:

Twitter: @nikkimoore_auth

Facebook: @EllaAllbrightWrites

YouTube: Nikki Moore

www.nikkimooreauthor.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading!

💙

The Night of the Flood by Zoe Somerville #BookReview

Hello!

Today is a good day, not just because all three of my children have gone back to school full-time (hurray!) and I’m enjoying a quiet and productive day, but also because it’s my turn to review this wonderful book for the blog tour arranged by Head of Zeus – thank you so much for my gifted copy of the book and for having me along on the tour.

The blurb …

Summer, 1952. Verity Frost, stranded on her family farm on the Norfolk coast, is caught between two worlds: the devotion of her childhood friend Arthur, just returned from National Service, and a strange new desire to escape it all. Arthur longs to escape too, but only with Verity by his side.

Into their world steps Jack, a charismatic American pilot flying secret reconnaissance missions off the North Sea coast. But where Verity sees adventure and glamour, Arthur sees only deception. As the water levels rise to breaking point, this tangled web of secrets, lies and passion will bring about a crime that will change all their lives.

Taking the epic real-life North Sea flood as its focus, The Night of the Flood is at once a passionate love story, an atmospheric thriller, and a portrait of a distinctive place in a time of radical social change.

My review …

I loved this exquisitely written debut novel from Zoe Somerville. It was a pleasure to read and I found myself swept along with the wonderful characters’ lives leading up to the dreadful flood in January 1953.

In May 1952, Arthur has just come back from National Service after the war. He feels suffocated by his home town in Norfolk and has ambitions to move to London to become a journalist, but he is hopelessly in love with Verity and longs for her to leave with him.

Verity has her heart set on studying at Oxford University and has no desire to be a wife and mother. She loves Arthur, as her family took him in as an evacuee during the war, but she’s not sure whether she wants to take the next step in their relationship. So, when her head is turned by charming American pilot Jack, the three become involved in a heartbreaking love triangle.

The complex atmosphere of Norfolk in the post war era comes across brilliantly through the young characters in this story. The effects of the war are still being felt with a new threat of nuclear conflict hanging over them, whilst at the same time hope for the future shines through and the need to have fun and expand their horizons. There were many different threads of this story that dealt with the characters’ struggles against the societal limitations of that time period, (which I won’t delve into for fear of spoilers), that were beautifully written and very emotional to read.

The tension is maintained throughout this ominous story until the climax on the night of the devastating flood and this is when the heartbreaking effects of the love triangle all come to a head in a terrible night of darkness, fear and loss.  

‘Behind her eyes, this is what she sees.

Half memory, half nightmare.

Outlined against the setting sun over the salt-wrecked marsh, a white arm reaching from a black tree.

It does not make sense’

I was gripped by this thrilling love story from start to finish and I was fascinated by the inspiration behind the novel of the real-life North Sea flood of 1953. It is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year. I would highly recommend to fans of historical and literary fiction. I loved it!

About the author …

Zoe Somerville

Zoe Somerville is a writer and English teacher. Having lived all over the world – Japan, France, Washington – she now lives in Bath with her family. After completing a creative writing MA at Bath Spa, Zoe started writing her debut novel, which is inspired by her home county, Norfolk, and the devastating North Sea flood of the 1950s.

The Night of the Flood was published in hardback on 3rd September 2020 priced at £18.99

If you would like to read some more reviews from this book tour, then here are the other bloggers who are taking part …

For more information please see:

http://www.headofzeus.com / @HoZ_books

@zessomerville

Thanks so much for reading!

💙

The Things I Want To Say But Can’t by Carla Christian #BookReview

Today it’s my turn on the book tour for Carla Christian’s debut novel The Things I Want To Say But Can’t with Love Books Tours. Thank you so much to both the author and Love Books Tours for my gifted ebook.

I wanted to let readers know of the trigger warnings in this book, so apologies in advance if these act as a spoiler, but I didn’t feel able to review the book without mentioning them.

The blurb …

‘A lifetime of endings, a million goodbyes. None of them right. It’s funny what you remember when you’ve got nothing else to think about. All those things you should’ve said while you had the chance. You never learned, did you? You never, ever learned.’

Belle has a habit of losing things. Her friends. Her lovers. Her mind.

Everything ends eventually, or at least that’s what life has taught her. But what if everything she lost came back again? What if she got a chance to finally have her say? To face her past. To put things right.

Second chances aren’t easy when memories are all you have. So, when Belle invites the nightmares of her past back in, is she willing to deal with the consequences? Because maybe, just maybe, this time she’s getting what she deserves.

My review …

I found this book very tricky to review because the writing is incredible but the storyline and tone of the book is so devastating that it doesn’t feel right to say I ‘enjoyed’ it, as such, but it is a highly compelling and fascinating story.

Belle takes us with her as she travels back and forth in time, telling the story of her life as a young girl, a teenager and then as a wife and mother. Belle has an unhappy childhood and suffers various losses throughout her life, the effects of which are to set Belle on to a path of self destruction.

This story is a powerful and emotional examination of Belle’s inner thoughts, feelings and experiences. As such there is very little dialogue between the characters but instead takes the form of beautifully perceptive, descriptive writing. I felt surrounded by Belle’s pain and sadness as she takes us on her journey to breaking point.

There were parts of the story that were harrowing to read as Belle becomes involved in an abusive relationship. This is where a major trigger warning comes into effect as I don’t feel you would want to read this book, if you have been a victim of domestic violence yourself. The scenes of violence were upsetting but not gratuitous and Belle’s feelings and actions were written sensitively and with empathy and show the complexities of such relationships. The story then goes on to deal with themes of mental illness, suicide, eating disorders, alcoholism and substance abuse, which sounds like overkill but they were all necessary to the plot and well written.

This really is a thought provoking and hard hitting read which will keep you guessing right to the end and beyond. I can tell that the author has poured her heart and soul into this book. It really is an incredible piece of writing.

💗

About the author

Carla Christian

Carla Christian lives in the Lake District in the North of England. A busy working mum of two teenagers, she has a passion for writing, art and travel, and these interests have been a part of her for as long as she can remember. 

Constantly inspired by both the good and the bad in the world around her, she spends much of her time creating in one way or another; be it painting canvases for the blank walls of her new home, sketching pictures to capture memories of the many travel adventures she’s been lucky enough to go on, baking fantastical cakes with her daughter, or writing endless beginnings to a million unfinished stories.

The Things I Want To Say But Can’t is her first novel.

Instagram:

@carlachristian_author

@lovebookstours

Twitter:

@lovebooksgroup

#CarlaChristian

The Silent Daughter by Emma Christie #BookReview

Published by Welbeck Publishing Group

Out in paperback on 3rd September 2020

£8.99

I was so pleased to receive this gifted book to review from Annabelle at ed public relations. One of the first things I noticed was the very high quality print, which was a pleasure to read, and that eye on the cover completely draws you in!

The blurb …

Deceit runs in the family …

Chris Morrison is facing his worst nightmare.

His wife is in a coma.

His daughter is missing.

And the only thing more unsettling that these two events … is what might connect them.

Some secrets can change a family forever.

My review …

This is such a clever, intriguing and emotional story.

The story is based in Scotland in the seaside town of Portobello, which might sound quaint, but in December it sets a very damp scene. We meet main character, Chris, as he learns that his wife, Maria, has had a terrible accident and has been left in a coma, but as he says …

‘Did she fall or was she pushed?’

As he and his son, Mikey, keep a bedside vigil, Chris finds that his daughter, Ruth, is not answering her mobile or responding to emails, which is understandable as she is away travelling in Central America. But as time goes on and Ruth still hasn’t been in touch, Chris uses his background as a journalist to delve deeper into her social media posts and discover that, worryingly, all is not as it appears in Ruth’s online life.

As Ruth’s absence turns into a missing persons investigation we follow Chris in his desperate search for her, with the backdrop of his wife lying critically ill in hospital, and with his son Mikey becoming increasingly evasive. Chris’ pain and fear is palpable as he is tormented by what if’s and thoughts that he has not protected his family as he should have. There are so many twists, turns, lies and revelations in this fast paced story that it’s hard to write about without giving away spoilers.

Christie’s writing is superb. The story is full of suspense and makes you feel horribly uncomfortable at times, but also full of beautiful descriptive and emotive writing. This is a modern and original story dealing with highly emotional themes tangled with fear, regret and grief, which the author has written with the utmost empathy and sensitivity. It had me gripped from the start with an ending so staggering that it made me doubt what I’d read. A fantastic debut novel!

About the author …

Emma Christie was born and raised in Ayrshire, Scotland. After studying literature and medieval history at Aberdeen University she spent five years as a news journalist with one of the UK’s top-selling regional daily newspapers, The Press and Journal, covering crime, court proceedings and politics. She was also briefly the ‘Trump reporter’. Emma now lives in Barcelona and works as a tour guide and lecturer in history, culture and politics, leading educational journeys across Spain, France, Portugal and Greece. She loves hiking and coffee and volunteered as a translator on a coffee farm in Nicaragua. She also loves playing guitar.

The Silent Daughter is Emma’s debut novel.

For more information please contact Annabelle Wright at ed public relations on annabelle@edpr.co.uk

#TheSilentDaughter

@theemmachristie

The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue

Hello and welcome back to my blog where today I have the absolute pleasure of reviewing The Temple House Vanishing 💛

I loved everything about this book, the storyline, the setting, the characters but especially the exquisite writing. Even the cover is absolutely gorgeous with its shiny gold foil leaf cover. It is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. I think it’s actually going to be an all time favourite.

The blurb …

Twenty-five years ago, a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl and her charismatic teacher disappeared without trace…

When Louisa arrives at Temple House, an elite catholic boarding school, she quickly finds herself drawn to sophisticated fellow pupil Victoria and their young bohemian art teacher, Mr Lavelle. The three of them form a bond that seems to offer an escape from the repressive regime of the nuns who run the cloistered school. Until Louisa and Mr Lavelle suddenly vanish.

Years later, a journalist with a childhood connection to Louisa determines to resolve the mystery. Her search for the truth will uncover a tragic, mercurial tale of suppressed desire and long-buried secrets. It will shatter lives and lay a lost soul to rest.

My review …

This captivating story is told from the two different perspectives of Louisa, telling us her story from the past and ‘The Journalist’, twenty five years later, telling us the story of her investigation into the disappearance of Louisa and her teacher. The Journalist, whose name we never learn, grew up on the same street as Louisa, and is troubled by the unsolved mystery and feels haunted by her disappearance.

Set in Temple House a sinister catholic boarding school for girls, new pupil, sixteen year old Louisa arrives after winning a scholarship. She feels unseen and outcast in this cold religious institution inhabited by the entitled daughters of the rich elite.

Louisa is immediately drawn to fellow pupil Victoria during her first art class with Mr Lavelle. Victoria is alluring yet elusive and Louisa notices a concerning familiarity between Victoria and the handsome young teacher, who seems to have an almost cultish following among his pupils. Louisa quickly becomes involved in their relationship as she yearns to secure Victoria’s friendship even though as Louisa says … ‘I knew deep down there was was something cruel about them. An unthinking playfulness that might lead to hurt’ …

The truth behind Louisa’s disappearance and the devastating effect on the lives of those around her, is slowly revealed in this haunting tale of unrequited love, jealousy and societal class.

Donohue’s fascinating characters really came to life for me in this book, particularly Louisa and Victoria. The relationship between the girls is both mesmerising and uncomfortable as there is a sense of foreboding written into their relationship from the start. They are so well drawn and the dialogue written so naturally that I could visualise the characters, their mannerisms and presence.

I was completely immersed in the atmosphere and suspense of this story which has a subtle gothic edge. Rachel Donohue’s writing is incredibly skilled, graceful and beautiful and this is one of those stories that will stay with me forever.

A must read for fans of The Secret History and The Truants. I’ll be recommending this to all of my bookish friends.

About the author …

Rachel Donohue is a UCD graduate and has a highly successful career in communications and media relations. She was the winner of the 2017 Hennessy Prize for New Irish Writing

For more information please contact: Kirsty Doole, Publicity Director, Atlantic Books

Kirstydoole@atlantic-books.co.uk

07850 096902

@corvusbooks

@theotherkirsty

Published in paperback by Corvus on 3rd September 2020

Thank you so much to the author, Corvus and Kirsty Doole for my gifted copy of this wonderful book!

Thanks for reading! 💛

Innocent by Erin Kinsley

Good afternoon and welcome back to my blog! 🧡

Today is my stop on the Random Things Tours blog tour for Innocent by Erin Kinsley, which is described as ‘a gripping and moving thriller with the emotional drama of series like Broadchurch and Liar’

The blurb…

The pretty market town of Sterndale is a close-knit community where everyone thinks they know everyone else. But at a lavish summer wedding a local celebrity is discovered slumped in the gardens, the victim of a violent assault that leads to a murder investigation.

As the police search for answers, suspicion and paranoia build – and the lives of the locals are turned upside down. Secrets that lurk beneath the pristine façade of Sterndale come to light as detectives close in on the truth…

My review …

Set in Sterndale, the story centres around Tristan Hart, a handsome and well-loved local celebrity, who is viciously attacked whilst attending a wedding in the pretty market town. We are introduced to lots of different characters at the wedding, several of whom seem to have a motive for the attack and we follow the detectives as they try to piece together exactly what happened to Tristan that night.

Left to pick up the pieces is Tristan’s wife Izzy and their three-year-old daughter Flora. Izzy is sick with worry after the attack, but as Tristan lies unconscious in hospital, and later sadly dies, Izzy discovers she didn’t know Tristan as well as she thought she did as she begins to doubt their entire marriage and doesn’t know who she can trust.

I loved Kinsley’s writing style, I found that the story flowed gently along whilst still being a suspenseful page turner, sprinkled with some beautiful descriptive writing.

I thought the book had a great cast and variety of characters. I particularly liked Laura and related to her as a character so I enjoyed following her storyline. Small town life is portrayed brilliantly in this close knit community, where everyone knows everyone else’s business (or they think they do) with lots of gossiping busy bodies.

I really enjoyed following the detectives as they tried to solve the case.  This is a clever murder mystery with just the right amount of detail of the police investigation intertwined with the personal lives of the main characters, which kept the story really interesting.

I would definitely recommend this book to others, the story has lots of plot twists, brilliantly written emotional scenes and intriguing characters. However, I do wish we hadn’t known that Tristan was going to die, I felt that was a bit of a spoiler for what would have been a great plot twist!

About the author …

Erin Kinsley is a full-time writer. She grew up in Yorkshire and currently lives in East Anglia.

Innocent is published by Headline in paperback on 20th August 2020. Also available as ebook and audio.

Thank you so much to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for this fantastic book and thank you also to the author and Headline publishers for my gifted advance copy, I really do appreciate it.

To follow the blog tour and read some more great reviews, here is the tour poster:

Follow the author, publisher and tour host on Twitter:

@kinsleyerin

@headlinepg

@randomttours

Thanks for reading!

Kerri 🧡

Inside the Beautiful Inside by Emily Bullock

The blurb …

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest meets Mutiny on the Bounty – an exploration of love, sanity, suffering and compassion wrapped into the sensual and lyrical tale of one man’s lonely Odyssey. 

Based on the story of James Norris, American Marine and inmate of Bethlem Hospital for the Insane (1800-1815).

When the locks can’t hold James Norris they chain him, and when the chains won’t stay James Norris they fix him to a stake.  But they still can’t take the thoughts out of his head.  

Will James Norris find what he is hunting for? Can he ever sail free?

My review …

Firstly I’d like to thank Emma Dowson at Myriad and Everything With Words publishers for my review copy of this book, the cover is absolutely beautiful. Secondly I’d like to say that I feel completely under qualified to review this book because the author’s writing talent is incredible, but I’ll try my best!

I must admit I was a little unsure after the first chapter whether this book was for me, but by chapter three, after I had become used to the language and writing style I became fully immersed in this dark and heartbreaking story. 

In Deptford 1800 we meet Marine, James Norris who, delirious with a fever, is sent to Bethlem Hospital for the Insane to recover. James is not sent home even when he feels better and comes to believe he must stay in hospital for one year, without incidence, and then he will be released. However, James gets into a fight after being goaded by the ‘keepers’ and he is admitted to the ‘incurables’ cells and thereafter time slips away until James has no idea how long he has been held there.  

The conditions in the cells are absolutely diabolical. Initially he is kept with eighty other men, in dark cells covered in straw with no sanitation and barely any food and water. But the ‘incurables’ are kept in solitary confinement. He is chained to his bed and later chained to a stake. He suffers unimaginable cruelty at the hands of the keepers and the apothecaries of the hospital/prison, but James keeps himself going by dreaming of his love, Ruth, whilst plotting his revenge against a man who betrayed him with his sweetheart.

As time goes by James has to search inside himself to find a better place to remain mentally strong and survive, whilst also fighting his inner demons, and he finds his sanity hanging by a thread.

Bullock’s lyrical writing style is a work of art, I really am in awe of her talent. The verses within the book are beautiful;

‘I’ve left footprints on a glacier.

I’ve seen the sun burst out of the Atlantic.

I’ve eaten sweet papaya from a low hanging tree in Tahiti.

I’ve glimpsed Paradise.

Life made sense when I was all at sea.’

But will James ever be free to sail the seas again or be reunited with Ruth?

This story is a powerful exploration into the mind of a man in captivity.

About the author …

Emily Bullock won the Bristol Short Story Prize with her story ‘My Girl’, which was also broadcast on BBC Radio 4.  Her short stories have been included in collections such as Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology 2019, A Short Affair (Scribner, 2018), and Bath Short Story Prize Anthology 2014.  She has an MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia and completed her PhD at the Open University, where she is an Associate Lecturer in Creative Writing.  Her debut novel, The Longest Fight, published by Myriad, was shortlisted for the Cross Sports Book Awards, and listed in The Independent’s Paperbacks of the Year.

This book will be published in paperback on 24th September 2020

For all enquiries please contact Emma Dowson by email edowson@virginmedia.com

The Chalet by Catherine Cooper

The blurb …

Four guests

One luxury getaway

And one perfect murder

The French Alps, 1998

Two young men ski into a blizzard… but only one returns.

20 years later

Four people connected to the missing man find themselves in that same resort. Each has a secret. Two may have blood on their hands. One is a killer-in-waiting.

Someone knows what really happened that day.

And somebody will pay.

My review …

This story is set in a fantastic fictional ski resort in France called La Madiere. I absolutely adored the setting. The luxury chalets were exquisitely described. There was snowy scenery and fur throws, champagne and canapés and I couldn’t help but wish I was staying there myself, being waited on hand and foot, but maybe with a little less drama!

The story jumps between 1998 when two skiers go missing, to 2020 when a body is found and is absolutely full of surprises. 

In 1998 and from ski instructor Cameron’s point of view, we are told of two skiers who go missing while skiing down a black-run off-piste slope in appalling conditions, under Cameron’s supervision.

Ria and Hugo then set the scene in Jan 2020 and chapters are told alternately from their points of view. Ria and Hugo are married and have invited Simon, his wife Cass and their baby Inigo to stay at a luxury chalet in La Madiere because Hugo wants to impress Simon so that he will invest in his company. They are looked after by Millie their cabin girl and Cass’ nanny Sarah. We get to know these characters very well before the story backtracks to 1998.  

We then get to know another set of characters, brothers Will and Adam, and their girlfriends Louisa and Nell, and hear all about their eventful trip to La Madiere twenty years earlier.

There is then another storyline told from a different perspective and timeline, and this is when things get really interesting and it becomes clear that this story is an intricately woven murder mystery and that someone is out for revenge.

The atmosphere at the ski resort is chilling in more ways than one, and together with the increasing tension and with scenes of high emotion and nasty characters, meant that I couldn’t put this book down.

Absolutely the perfect read to take on a skiing holiday this year (covid permitting!)

Thank you so much to Phoebe Morgan at Harper Collins for my arc I really enjoyed it.

About the author …

Catherine Cooper is a freelance journalist writing for many national newspapers and magazines, specialising in travel. Most recently she has written several ski pieces for the Guardian and is currently compiling a 50 best family holidays round up for the Telegraph. She also makes regular appearances as a talking head on daytime TV. She lives in France with her husband and two teenage children, and is a keen skier.

The Chalet is her debut novel and will be published by Harper Collins on 12th November 2020

You can follow Catherine at http://www.catherinecooperauthor.com

Instagram: @catherinecooperjournalist

Twitter: @catherinecooper

Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough

It’s my pleasure to welcome you to my blog today for my stop on the blog tour for Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough. I would like to say thank you as usual to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for my invite and also to Harper Collins Publishers for my copy of the book ❤️

Synopsis …

There’s nothing like a woman scorned

Something old…

When Marcie met Jason Maddox, she couldn’t believe her luck. Becoming Jason’s second wife catapulted her into the elite world of high society. But underneath the polite, old money manners, she knows she’ll always be an outsider, and her hard-won life hangs by a thread.

Something new…

Then Jason’s widowed boss brings back a new wife from his trip to London. Young, beautiful, reckless – nobody can take their eyes off Keisha. Including Jason.

Something you can never, ever undo…

Marcie refuses to be replaced so easily. People would kill for her life of luxury. What will Marcie do to keep it?

My review …

This is the first book I’ve read by Sarah Pinborough and it was so much more than I was expecting. Pinborough is a highly skilled writer and this is not your run of the mill glamorous wives thriller!

The story opens with rich sixty-five year old widower William Radford as he presents his new wife to his high society friends in America’s deep south Savannah. He met Keisha at a strip club in London while travelling Europe, she is twenty-two years old, black and completely beautiful and she doesn’t fit in.

Watching the newly married couple arrive are Jason and his second wife Marcie. Marcie used to be the youngest and most beautiful of their circle of friends. She has clawed her way up the ladder from nothing, securing herself a handsome, rich and successful husband and she immediately feels threatened by the way Jason is looking at this gorgeous young woman while the phrase ‘once a cheater always a cheater’ comes to her mind.

Keisha, haunted by her past, has escaped her abusive African voodoo witch aunt and uncle in London, to live a life of luxury with this gentle older man and she thinks she (literally) has to ride it out until he dies and she inherits his fortunes! Unfortunately when she arrives in America she sees a cold and mean side to William and she appears to have gone from one abusive relationship right into another (cue some very uncomfortable sex scenes). And has the voodoo black magic followed her to the Deep South?

Marcie needs to befriend Keisha to keep an eye on her and this is where the story really starts to get interesting.

The book is set in a world of mansions, yachts and country clubs – sex, money and power. The fear of fading beauty and the desperation to cling onto rich husbands at the risk of losing it all and ending up back on the scrap heap.

Halfway through the book I still wasn’t quite sure where the story was going, but in a good way, it started off with an air of suspense, took quite an erotic and spooky detour and then ended up as a cleverly spun whodunnit.

The characters were fascinating and even though they may not have been likeable as such, I could understand what had made them the way they were, particularly Keisha.

The storyline is dark, captivating and mysterious and I thought the plot was brilliantly unusual. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

This book is OUT NOW!

If I haven’t convinced you to buy it yet, and you’d like to read some more reviews then take a look at some of the other fantastic bloggers on this tour …

Blog Tour Poster

About the author …

Sarah Pinborough

Hailing from Milton Keynes, Sarah has written more than 20 novels across a variety of genres. Her international number 1 bestseller, BEHIND HER EYES, brought widespread success. The book was a word of mouth sensation, receiving quotes and endorsements from authors such as Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Harlan Coben. It was one of the most talked about publications of recent years, with the hashtag #WTFthatending reaching over 600 million people on social media. The book was both a hardback and a paperback number 1 bestseller in the UK.

Left Bank Pictures and Netflix have just completed filming the TV mini-series of BEHIND HER EYES, starring The Night Manager’s Simona Brown, Murder on the Orient Express’ Tom Bateman, The Knick’s Eve Hewson and Game of Thrones’ Robert Aramayo. TV rights to DEAD TO HER have been sold to Tracy Y Oliver and First Look Media/Topic Studios.

Sarah also writes for film and TV and her YA novel 13 MINUTES is currently being developed by the team behind The O.C. for Netflix.

You can follow her on Twitter @sarahpinborough and instagram @sarahpinboroughbooks

You can also follow Random Things Tours on Twitter @RandomTTours

Thanks for reading! ❤️