blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Gin Palace – Tracy Whitwell

Ever since Tanz discovered she could speak with the dead, life has become a whole lot more interesting. But after putting herself in grave danger helping to solve a grisly murder, she’s now determined to ignore the voices and put all that nasty business behind her. So when she’s offered another acting gig in her hometown of Newcastle, it feels like a perfect opportunity to spend some time with family and have a laugh with old friends. But the dead won’t stay quiet for long. Soon Tanz is being drawn back into their world, and this time, the danger is much closer to home . . .

Tracy Whitwell was born, brought up and educated in the north-east of England. She wrote plays and short stories from an early age, then in the nineties moved to London where she became a busy actress on stage and screen. After having her son, she wound down the acting to concentrate on writing full time. Many projects followed until she finally found the courage to write her first novel – The Accidental Medium, a work of fiction based on a whole heap of crazy truth and now a trilogy, with more to come. Today, Tracy lives in north London with her son, surrounded by a neverending supply or Aperol Spritzes and a coven of friends as spooky as she is. Tracy is nothing like her lead character Tanz. (This is a lie.)

My thoughts: I love Tanz, The Accidental Medium was great so I was really pleased to read Gin Palace. I love her friends, I love her little mam. It’s just a really fun book. Even with the scary ghost.

Tanz is in Newcastle to play a supporting role in a TV show, although she’s not thrilled about it. I think it’s the mini skirt and bad hair. While she’s there, she encounters the ghost of a small boy and then a really horrible one that possesses her pal Milo and gives her nightmares. With Sheila out of action in London, it’s up to Tanz to exorcise this mean spirit.

Luckily she meets Gladys, a fierce old lady healer who gives her the boost she needs to sort out the spook. She’s also got enough time to befriend and help the lead actress in the show and have a Sunday roast with her parents.

Tanz packs a lot in, from ghost walks and a few G&Ts with Milo, to learning how to channel her powers better. And while she enjoys being back home, she misses her flat and of course her cat, Inka (who’s being spoiled with cheese by the nice neighbour).

She’s a great protagonist, down to earth, very funny and her relationship with Frank from beyond the grave, as a sort of spirit guide, is entertaining. I like quirky, eccentric people and Tanz definitely is one, talking to the dead in her no nonsense way and racing around sorting everyone else out. I hope in her next adventure, she takes a bit of time for herself too.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Murder at Waldenmere Lake – Michelle Salter

A murder shocks the small town of Walden. And it’s only the beginning…
Walden, 1921. Local reporter Iris Woodmore is determined to save her beloved lake, Waldenmere, from destruction.
After a bloody and expensive war, the British Army can’t afford to keep the lake and build a convalescent home on its shores yet they still battle with Walden Council and a railway company for
ownership. But an old mansion used as an officer training academy stands where the railway company plans to build a lakeside hotel. It belongs to General Cheverton – and he won’t leave his home.
When the General is found murdered, it appears someone will stop at nothing to win the fight for Waldenmere. Iris thinks she can take on the might of the railway company and find the killer. But nothing prepares her for the devastation that’s to come…

Michelle Salter is a historical crime fiction writer based in northeast Hampshire. Many local locations appear in her mystery novels. She’s also a copywriter and has written features for national
magazines. When she’s not writing, Michelle can be found knee-deep in mud at her local nature reserve. She enjoys working with a team of volunteers undertaking conservation activities.

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My thoughts: Iris is back in Walden and trying to help preserve the local mere, a beautiful nature spot and not something the locals want to see turned into a hotel or railway line. But they’re up against it, if the army sells their part of the land they can build a convalescent home, which is more popular.

Thankfully the owner of one section of land, General Cheverton, isn’t budging and he’s messing up the unpopular plans. Then he’s murdered. Iris thinks it must be linked to the proposed development but would the railway boss get his own hands dirty?

While all this is going on, she’s also having a great time with her pals, wandering the local lanes and enjoying the summer weather. But the case keeps nagging at her, so with the support of her boss at the paper, she starts digging. What she finds will be heartbreaking.

I really like this series, and Iris, although maybe her next case could hit a little further from home as so far it hasn’t been very happy for her.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Bellevue – Alison Booth

New South Wales, 1972. Following the death of her beloved Aunt Hilda, widow Clare Barclay inherits Bellevue, an historic property in the Blue Mountains township of Numballa, Australia. Giving up her teaching job to move to the mountains, Clare plans to restore the house to its original glory. She also hopes to track down a box of missing documents that may shed light on why husband Jack secretly second-mortgaged their former home.
Clare makes friends with the locals, including a young boy, Joe, and soon hears of plans to redevelop Numbulla and to exploit the land bordering the protected wilderness area. As she joins the protest against the rezoning, it’s clear someone doesn’t want her there and they’ll do anything to stop her…

Written from Clare’s and Joe’s perspectives, Bellevue highlights cross-generational bonds that grow between them as they struggle, individually and together, towards an acceptance of the losses each has sustained.

Born in Australia, Alison Booth gained a degree in architecture before transferring to economics. She is Professor Emeritus of Economics with a PhD from the London School of Economics and spent over two decades living and working in the UK before returning to Australia. She wrote her first novel at the age of nine, before other distractions set in.

Alison’s seventh published novel, Bellevue, will be out in March 2023. Her previous novels were published by Penguin and RedDoor. Her fiction has been translated into French and her short stories have appeared in international publications including Antipodes and New Writing. Awards include a Varuna Longlines Fellowship from the Eleanor Dark Foundation and the Highly Commended Award in the 2011 ACT Book of the Year Award. Her novels are: Stillwater Creek, The Indigo Sky, A Distant Land, A Perfect Marriage, The Philosopher’s Daughters and The Painting. For more information visit:

My thoughts: this was a really interesting book about community, friendship, outsiders and the environment. Clare inherits her late husband’s aunt’s house Bellevue in the small New South Wales town of Numballa. Hoping to build a new life and a permanent home for herself there, she finds that all is not well. Silent phone calls, vague threats, a car accident that probably isn’t an accident. Someone is trying to drive her away.

As the battle for the wilderness at the edge of her land heats up, she finds that she’s not alone. Other members of the local conservation group are also being harassed and frightened but Clare won’t give up.

She also meets Joe, a young boy with a love of birds, who draws beautiful pictures of them. Befriending him and offering him a safe space to work on his art, Clare expands her new world again.

Joe is struggling, after his mother’s death, left with an often absent older brother and a father who drinks too much, he’s a sensitive, artistic soul. Afraid to tell anyone except the local librarian of his passion, he’s sneaking into Clare’s hayloft to draw. Their unlikely friendship is a delight to read about. As Joe comes out of his shell, things seem to look up for his family too.

There’s a lot of heart in this book, and as Clare finds her place in Numballa, making friends and campaigning to save the wilderness, she slowly comes back to life after years in survival mode.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: His Fatal Legacy – Heather Atkinson

Edinburgh 1896
Amy Alardyce’s once-perfect life is in tatters. Her eldest son, Robert, has come of age, become the master of his own home, and married his childhood love Jane. But with maturity has come a terrible legacy, and the dark desires Robert inherited from his evil father Matthew, are fighting to get loose.
Whilst Jane is working hard to get her and Robert accepted into fashionable society, poor women are being hunted on the streets of Edinburgh, and Amy fears her son is to blame. And once the infamous Inspector Murphy takes up the case, Amy has to face a stark choice – denounce her son as a monster or risk her own safety to protect him from the consequences of his lethal actions.

Heather Atkinson is the author of over fifty books – predominantly in the crime
fiction genre. Although Lancashire born and bred she now lives with her family,
including twin teenage daughters, on the beautiful west coast of Scotland. Her
gangland series for Boldwood, set on the fictional Gallowburn estate in Glasgow
begins with the title Blood Brothers.

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My thoughts: Amy and Henry Alardyce are just too nice, they keep trying to save Robert from himself, from the darkness he’s inherited from his monstrous father, and in this installment of the Alardyces’ story, he’s actually trying as well. Married to the lovely Jane, father to a new baby daughter, he wants to change, to not bring the cruelty and violence within him home. But it keeps breaking out, and people are getting hurt.

I kept waiting for his Mr Hyde side to pop out and it did, learning to box leads him to almost kill a man, and his attacks on women continue. Now that the police, in the form of Inspector Murphy are on his tail, he’s running out of places to hide and his parents must decide what to do. Can Amy and Henry protect him anymore? And should they? I feel sorry for Jane, the Robert she knows isn’t all of him, and the part she doesn’t see is terrible. The village witch Magda (I love Magda) warns him that he will have to leave his family to protect it. Staying will have terrible consequences. More please!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize Longlist Review: I’m a Fan – Sheena Patel

Celebrating the international world of fiction in all its forms including poetry, novels, short stories and drama, the annual Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize is one of the most important awards for young writers, aimed at encouraging raw creative talent worldwide. The prize is named after the Swansea-born writer, Dylan Thomas, one of the most influential, internationally renowned writers of the mid-twentieth century, and invokes his memory to support the writers of today and nurture the talents of tomorrow.

The full longlist for 2023 is:

–               Limberlost byRobbie Arnott (Atlantic Books) – novel (Australia)

–               Seven Steeples by Sara Baume (Tramp Press) – novel (Ireland)

–               God’s Children Are Little Broken Things by Arinze Ifeakandu (Orion, Weidenfeld & Nicolson) – short story collection (Nigeria)

–               Maps Of Our Spectacular Bodies by Maddie Mortimer (Picador, Pan Macmillan) – novel (UK)

–               Phantom Gang by Ciarán O’Rourke (The Irish Pages Press) – poetry collection (Ireland)

–               Things They Lost by Okwiri Oduor (Oneworld) – novel (Kenya)

–               Losing the Plot by Derek Owusu (Canongate Books) – novel (UK)

–               I’m a Fan by Sheena Patel (Rough Trade Books) – novel (UK)

–               Send Nudes by Saba Sams (Bloomsbury Publishing) – short story collection (UK)

–               Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head by Warsan Shire (Chatto & Windus) – poetry collection (Somalia-UK)

–               Briefly, A Delicious Life by Nell Stevens (Picador, Pan Macmillan) – novel (UK)

–               No Land to Light On by Yara Zgheib (Atlantic Books, Allen & Unwin) – novel (Lebanon)

Worth £20,000, the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize is one of the UK’s most prestigious literary prizes as well as the world’s largest literary prize for young writers. Awarded for the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under, the Prize celebrates the international world of fiction in all its forms including poetry, novels, short stories and drama.

American poet, novelist and essayist Patricia Lockwood received the award in 2022 for her inventive debut novel, No One Is Talking About This (Bloomsbury Publishing). Chair of the 2022 Judges, Namita Gokhale, said: “No One Is Talking About This is a vital reflection on online culture today. A deeply timely winner, Patricia Lockwood is the voice of a generation of new writers who grew up under the constant pressures of real-time news and social media.”

The Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize shortlist will be announced on Thursday 23 March followed by the Winner’s Ceremony held in Swansea on Thursday 11 May, prior to International Dylan Thomas Day on Sunday 14 May.

In I’m A Fan a single speaker uses the story of their experience in a seemingly unequal, unfaithful relationship as a prism through which to examine the complicated hold we each have on one another. With a clear and unforgiving eye, the narrator unpicks the behaviour of all involved, herself included, and makes startling connections between the power struggles at the heart of human relationships and those of the wider world, in turn offering a devastating critique of access, social media, patriarchal heteronormative relationships, and our cultural obsession with status and how that status is conveyed. In this incredible debut, Sheena Patel announces herself as a vital new voice in literature, capable of rendering a range of emotions and visceral experiences on the page. Sex, violence, politics, tenderness, humour—Patel handles them all with both originality and dexterity of voice.

Sheena Patel is a writer and assistant director for film and TV who was born and raised in North West London. She is part of the 4 BROWN GIRLS WHO WRITE collective, has been published in 4 BROWN GIRLS WHO WRITE (Rough Trade Books) and a poetry collection of the same name (FEM Press). In 2022 she was chosen as one of the Observer’s Top 10 best debut novelists. I’m a Fan is her first book.Follow her on Twitter @Sheena_Patel_

My thoughts: I’m from the same part of North West London as the author and the narrator of this book, so every now and then as a place was mentioned I’d get a little surprise jolt of nostalgia. But otherwise the narrator and I are nothing alike. I couldn’t tell if this was purely fictional, autofiction or a mix of the two.

The obsession with “the man I want to be with” and his many girlfriends, especially the one she’s stalking on Instagram, the fact that he’s serially unfaithful to his wife, the way he toys with the narrator’s feelings and she never seems willing to just get away from him, the boyfriend she clearly doesn’t love anymore. All of it left me cold, we would not be friends.

The stream of consciousness style was interesting, the way it felt like the inner monologue of a young woman’s mind, her constant sense of being unbalanced, she knows none of this behaviour is healthy but yet can’t seem to break out of the cycle.

We all use social media to look at lives we want to live – the comparison, the shameless “where is that from?” and the copycatting of bits of other lives we can afford and hope will somehow make us more like them. This I could totally relate to. But her stalking of the other other woman, that I found a bit much.

As a story of obsession, emotional self harm this totally hits the mark. You’re not a fan, you’re obsessed and it needs to stop. Though I am now a fan of Sheena Patel, can’t wait to see what she writes next.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Reservoir – Livi Michael

Acclaimed novelist Livi Michael returns with a tense novel about memory, guilt and reinvention, and the dangerous power games played by children and adults.

At the International Conference Centre in Geneva, Hannah Rossier, formerly Annie Price, comes face to face with Neville Weir, someone from her childhood whom she never expected, or wanted, to meet again. As Neville’s reasons for attending the conference become clear, the dark waters of Hannah’s past start to rise. Hannah is a psychotherapist, with a specialist interest in memory and how connections are made between past and present. She has reinvented herself successfully, moving from a small northern town in England to Lucerne, Switzerland, with her husband, Thibaut.

Nobody, not even Hannah, knows the full truth about herself. Her ‘memories’ consist of glimpses of the place where she played in childhood, known simply as ‘The Wild’. Over the three days of the conference, she has to decide whether she can avoid Neville, or whether she should submit to an encounter with him and with her past. And in her keynote lecture about the neuroscience of memory, how much to conceal or reveal. But can her specialism save her from drowning?

LIVI MICHAEL has published seven previous novels for adults: Rebellion; Succession; Accession; Under a Thin Moon which won the Arthur Welton award; Their Angel Reach which won the Faber Prize; All the Dark Air which was shortlisted for the Mind Award; and Inheritance, which won a Society of Authors Award.

She has also published several novels for young adults and children and her short stories have been published in several magazines and anthologies. Livi has two sons and lives in Greater Manchester. She teaches creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and has been a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University.

My thoughts: a terrible incident from her childhood haunts Professor Hannah Rossier but she has been able to bury it deep enough to work, marry, build a reputation, until now when an unfriendly face from the past tries to bring her world down.

Neville was a slightly strange little boy who followed Hannah (then known as Annie) and her friend Joanna around, spying on them in the way of lonely, socially awkward kids. He was caught up in the incident and blames Hannah for the shape his life took. Although she was also a child at the time.

This was incredibly fascinating, I used to play in the woods with my friend at about the same age, and we were forever coming home soaking wet or coated in mud, famously once without a shoe (left in the sinking mud that took it) but luckily nothing serious ever happened. Children’s memories are often terrible and since we know that the part of the brain that understands consequences doesn’t develop till later, they can’t always explain their actions.

To place so much blame, although Neville insists it’s not about blame, on another child, is very wrong. It was the adults (his parents, teachers, social workers, police) who let him down, who punished him wrongly, who didn’t see that he was innocent, not Hannah. Indeed they hadn’t seen each other for 40 years and she had no idea what had happened to him. Her own experience was difficult enough.

The events at the conference, the confrontation, when it comes, is shocking. Neville carries so much anger, despite overcoming it all, despite his career and life now. It would be like carrying resentment of our childhood slights or bullies all our lives – it’s not healthy.

Hannah is confused and hurt by his accusations, by his genuine anger. He can’t even really say what it is he wants from her. He insists it’s not an apology he wants, but can’t articulate it. Jopi, the conference host, attempts to resolve things, but I don’t know if it actually makes it worse. There’s still a lot unresolved at the end and I found it unsettling not knowing how any of the characters were going to move ahead.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Space Between Us – Doug Johnstone

Lennox is a troubled teenager with no family. Ava is eight months pregnant and fleeing her abusive husband. Heather is a grieving mother and cancer sufferer. They don’t know each other, but when a meteor streaks over Edinburgh, all three suffer instant, catastrophic strokes … …only to wake up the following day in hospital, miraculously recovered.

When news reaches them of an octopus-like creature washed up on the shore near where the meteor came to earth, Lennox senses that some extra-terrestrial force is at play. With the help of Ava, Heather and a journalist, Ewan, he rescues the creature they call ‘Sandy’ and goes on the run. But they aren’t the only ones with an interest in the alien … close behind are Ava’s husband, the police and a government unit who wants to capture the creature, at all costs. And Sandy’s arrival may have implications beyond anything anyone could imagine…

Doug Johnstone is the author of fourteen previous novels, most recently Black Hearts (2022). The Big Chill (2020) was longlisted for the Theakston Crime Novel of the Year and three of his books, A Dark Matter (2020), Breakers (2019) and The Jump (2015), have been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year.

He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions over the last decade, and has been an arts journalist for over twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with six albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of writers. He’s also co-founder of the Scotland Writers Football Club, and has a PhD in nuclear physics.

My thoughts: at first I was disappointed it wasn’t a new Skelfs book but then I read it and now I want more Sandy & the Gang (as I am calling them). I loved Sandy the cephalopod from space. There’s several incredibly touching moments between them and the humans they’ve bonded with, Lennox, Ava and Heather, especially when Sandy can help check on Ava’s unborn baby for her. That was so lovely. All Sandy wants is to be reunited with the rest of their kind, fleeing from an invasion of their home. They’ve picked Earth even though it might not be super friendly because presumably the waters here are suitable and have the right environment for them.

Unfortunately a government organisation, possibly MI7, also wants Sandy and not for friendly reasons. Why are we so hostile to the idea of other people? It feels very timely with the current carry on in Westminster about refugees. Sandy and their kind are fleeing danger too, and they just want to be safe here on Earth in the sea loch off Ullapool. Which I’m sure the fish have no issues with, just the humans.

Funny, warm, with a huge heart and lots of brains (octopus have mini brains in each of their tentacles, so maybe Sandy does too!) and a real sense of the ridiculous (the ancient camper van, Sandy in a rucksack, waving), this is lovely and I hope there’s more. As Lennox says “now what, Sandy?”

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

The Wingate Prize Blog Tour; Two Reviews!

Something a little different today, I have two reviews of books on the shortlist for The Wingate Prize – The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft, and Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin.

The Wingate Literary Prize was established in 1977 by the late Harold Hyam Wingate. It is now run in association with JW3, the Jewish Community Centre. 

Now in its 46th year, the annual prize is awarded to the best book, fiction or non-fiction, to translate the idea of Jewishness to the general reader. The winner receives £4,000. The winner will be announced on the 12th of March.

Previous winners include David Grossman, Anne Michaels, WG Sebald, Zadie Smith, and Nicole Krauss.

This year’s shortlisted books are; Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, In The Midst of a Civilised Europe by Jeffrey Vehdlinger, The Memory Monster by Yishai Sarid, The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk, Come to This Court and Cry by Linda Kinstler, The Island of Extraordinary Captives by Simon Parkin and The Man Who Sold Air in the Holy Land by Omer Friedlander. More information about the prize and the shortlisted books, which range from memoir to poetry to fiction, can be found here.


In the mid-eighteenth century, as new ideas begin to sweep the continent, a young Jew of mysterious origins arrives in a village in Poland. Before long, he has changed not only his name but his persona; visited by what seem to be ecstatic experiences, Jacob Frank casts a charismatic spell that attracts an increasingly fervent following.

In the decade to come, Frank will traverse the Hapsburg and Ottoman empires, throngs of disciples in his thrall as he reinvents himself again and again, converts to Islam and then Catholicism, is pilloried as a heretic and revered as the Messiah, and wreaks havoc on the conventional order, Jewish and Christian alike, with scandalous rumours of his sect’s secret rituals and the spread of his increasingly iconoclastic beliefs.

In The Books of Jacob, her masterpiece, 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Olga Tokarczuk writes the story of Frank through the perspectives of his contemporaries, capturing Enlightenment Europe on the cusp of precipitous change, searching for certainty and longing for transcendence.

My thoughts: I chose to read this book from the shortlist as I had read the author’s previous book Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, which was a strange but compelling book and I wanted to see if this had the same odd magic.

First off, this is a big book, I was reading on an e-reader but it’s still a lot. And it ambles through the interconnected lives of a huge number of people, before Jacob even enters it.

It is however fascinating and reminded me of the huge tomes of the period in which its set – big, epic books like War & Peace, or something by Dostoevsky or even by the later Charles Dickens. The story roams across Europe of the 18th Century, as Jacob does, threading his way through the lives of Christians, Jews and Muslims, leaving mysteries in his wake. It’s an incredible undertaking and the translator, Jennifer Croft, has done an incredible job of bringing it from the original Polish to an English reading audience.

The 18th Century was a time of great change, when new ideas were sweeping the world. Which makes it ripe for Jacob and his thoughts to sow discord, confusion and a certain fanaticism among the people he encounters.

A fascinating and deeply layered book, one that requires probably more than one reading to truly understand what it is that Tokarczuk has done here.

Sam and Sadie meet in a hospital in 1987. Sadie is visiting her sister, Sam is recovering from a car crash. The days and months are long there, but playing together brings joy, escape, fierce competition — and a special friendship. Then all too soon that time is over, and they must return to their normal lives.

When the pair spot each other eight years later in a crowded train station, they are catapulted back to that moment. The spark is immediate, and together they get to work on what they love – creating virtual worlds to delight, challenge and immerse, finding an intimacy in the digital realm that eludes them in their real lives. Their collaborations make them superstars.

This is the story of the perfect worlds Sadie and Sam build, the imperfect world they live in, and of everything that comes after success: Money. Fame. Duplicity. Tragedy.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow takes us on a dazzling imaginative quest, examining identity, creativity and our need to connect.

My thoughts: this book has already become a word of mouth (or should that be social media) sensation and I had already bought but not read a copy before hearing about this tour so I am just as susceptible to peer pressure as anyone else.

I am not a gamer, so I was a bit dubious about a book set in the world of video game design, I worried I’d be bored. But while the characters do indeed make video games, it’s really about their relationships. The long friendship between Sadie and Sam and their connections to Marx and what happens when tragedy strikes the trio. It’s also about family, the found family they build and the complicated families they come from.

Meeting as kids and then again as students at Harvard and MIT, Sam and Sadie have one of those friendships that’s both very intense but can also go years without speaking and then click back into place like they’ve never been apart. Video gaming brought them together and when they reconnect it does again. With Sam’s roommate Marx on board, as well as Sadie’s creepy tutor/boyfriend Dov, they set out to create a brilliant new game.

And they do, the game brings them joy and success, but needing to replicate that drives a wedge between the two. And over the next few years as they ride the wave if success and failure, their friendship suffers. When Sadie and Marx become a couple, it changes the dynamic completely.

In terms of Jewish representation, as per the prize, it isn’t overt. Sam is more Korean than Jewish, having been raised by his maternal grandparents, who aren’t Jewish, so he doesn’t really understand that part of himself. Sadie is more Jewish, indeed she wins a prize for the amount of volunteering she does for her bat mitzvah. But as an adult it doesn’t really seem to be something she’s hugely aware of. Neither of them are practising Jews and it seems more of just a cultural thing if anything. Which is interesting.

The book as a whole was an enjoyable, at times funny and then really sad read. The tragedy that rips through their lives leaves a trail of pain and misery in its wake, and something both Sam and Sadie struggle to move on from. Their friendship shifts again and perhaps will never really be the same.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Web of Lies – Paul Gitsham

When mother-of-two Louisa doesn’t return home from work one night, her husband raises the alarm. Investigating the workshop where she ran her mail-order business reveals signs she was taken by force – and DCI Warren Jones is put on the case.

As Warren and his team begin to dig into the missing woman’s life, a complex network of relationships emerges. Who is Louisa’s husband talking to on his second, secret phone? What’s the truth about her relationship with the convicted criminal who works next door? And what happened to Louisa’s university housemate a decade ago?

Can the team break through the lies and get to the truth?

Paul Gitsham started his career as a biologist working in Canada and the UK. After stints as the world’s most over-qualified receptionist and a spell ensuring that international terrorists hadn’t opened a Child’s Savings Account at a major UK bank (a job even duller than working reception) he retrained as a Science teacher.

My thoughts: another cracking case for DCI Warren James and his team. Louisa seems to be a regular mum of two, running her own small business, renting a lock up to do so, although the walking home at 2am seems a bit off. Her husband also seems a bit strange, and the team dig into him and his past. He’s not exactly been faithful and he seems to be keeping secrets.

The couple’s friend went missing when they were at uni, is that significant? And what of their other housemates, which included Louisa’s sister? Who is lying about what? There’s a lot to untangle to get to the truth, where is Louisa and is she still alive?

A lot happens and there’s plenty of juicy stuff to get into, the brilliant twists and turns at the end, just when they think they’ve solved it, but something still feels wrong. Excellent.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Book Review: The Chase – Ava Glass


These are the instructions sent to new operative Emma Makepeace.

She’s been assigned to track down a man wanted by the Russians and bring him into MI5.

It should be easy. But the Russians have eyes everywhere.

Emma knows that if spotted she and her target will be killed.

What follows is a perilous chase through London’s night-time streets.

But in a city full of cameras, where can you hide?

AVA GLASS is a former crime reporter and civil servant. Her time working for the government introduced her to the world of spies, and she’s been fascinated by them ever since. She lives in the south of England.

My thoughts: this is a fast paced, high octane thriller as Emma Makepeace, who works for The Agency (which is neither MI5 or MI6) escorts the son of a Russian scientist on Putin’s hitlist through London to safety. London famously has an insane number of CCTV cameras and Emma and Michael must try to stay out of sight of them, the Russians seem to have control of them and Emma’s boss Ripley has disappeared. She can’t trust anyone else, the clock is ticking, and the enemy are on her heels. She’ll need to rely on her own cunning and training to survive.

I was hooked, this is not a book to read leisurely, you’re sucked in and I could not put it down. I know the streets they were racing through, along Regent’s Canal and trying to get across to Vauxhall and the famous MI6 building. I recognised so many of the places they passed through and I could easily imagine how hard it would be to keep hidden in a city that swarms with people all day but empties out very suddenly at night, leaving you exposed. I can’t wait to see what adventures Emma has next.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for reviewing it but all opinions remain my own.