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#TheDare

When she was thirteen, Lizzie lost her best friend in what she always believed was a terrible accident.

Even though she was with Alice when she died, Lizzie has no memory of the accident itself. Now there is doubt around if it was in fact an accident at all.

Alice’s friends and relatives seem to suspect Lizzie had a part to play in Alice’s death, but Lizzie knows that can’t be true. She would never have hurt Alice.

Twelve years later, unpacking boxes in the new home she shares with her fiancé, Lizzie is finally beginning to feel like she can move on with her life.

But someone has other ideas.

Twelve years is a long time to wait, when you’re planning the perfect revenge.

Lizzie has no memory of what happened in the moments before her best friend Alice died, she only knows that it must have been a tragic accident. Skip ahead to 12 years later and Lizzie is moving on with her life, she has moved in with her fiancé and is going to go back to college. But strange things keep happening, is she being haunted by the past or is someone out for revenge.

This is the second thriller I have read by Lesley Kara as I was on the blog tour for who did you tell, and I think this is even better than the last. I read it in just a few sittings and was thinking about it when I was I put it down. The tension the author creates oozed off the page and at times I just wanted to shake Lizzie and say ‘can’t you see what’s happening here!!’

I did predict two of the main twists but in no way did this detract from my reading pleasure, in fact it enhanced it as it played out as I wanted it to in my head which gave me a whole separate sense of satisfaction.

Thank you to @randomttours and @lesleykara for my review copy of the book.

Lesley’s debut The Rumour was the bestselling crime thriller debut of 2019. It was a Sunday Times bestseller in both hardback and paperback, a Kindle No.1 bestseller, and has now sold over 350,000 copies globally. The Rumour has been optioned for TV by Cuba Pictures, and has sold in 15+ territories to date. Who Did You Tell? her critically acclaimed second novel was also a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller.

Lesley is an alumna of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course. She lives on the North Essex coast, inspiration for the locations in her novels.

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#AViolentGentleman

Jeremiah O’Connell made his name solving problems in London and now does the same in LA. The problems other people can’t or won’t touch? They’re the ones that end up at Jerry’s door.

Suddenly Jeremiah has problems of his own when he sets out to right a wrong and finds himself on the hitlist of one of LA’s most feared drug gangs.

As the stakes rise, so does the body count, and Jerry has the fight of his life on his hands. Now, with high-class escort Noah in tow, Jeremiah must revisit his old London stomping grounds and assemble his team in order to wage all-out war on the streets on Tinseltown…

Jerry ambled towards the strip club entrance, pulled open a

door and moved into a vestibule area, where a doorman sat

on a bar stool looking at his phone. Jerry tried to hide his

contempt, resisting the urge to tell the guy to get his arse

outside, which was where he should be. Standing. Watching.

Being a fucking doorman. Not sitting inside texting like a

kid.

The guy looked up at Jerry, down at his phone and then,

in a double take, back at Jerry. In the next second, he was

scrambling to his feet, broadening his shoulders and narrowing

his eyes. ‘What up?’ he croaked.

From behind him came the muffled thump of the strip

club music. The phone went away, hands into the pockets of

his bomber jacket. Making it clear to Jerry where he kept his

weapon – whatever that might be.

‘All right, mate?’ said Jerry. ‘You open for business, are

you?’ He was taking the piss, but it went clean over the head

of the doorman.

‘Always, always,’ nodded the doorman, ‘just as long as

you’re not after trouble . . .’

Jerry held up his hands. ‘Just here for the booze and the

birds, mate.’

The doorman held the door open for him and he moved

through into the foyer. A woman in a booth took his money.

He passed into the main club and took in the scene: dancers

gyrating at poles on a central stage; sleepyeyed

waiting staff;

a clientele who looked like part of the furniture. The overall

feel was one of lethargy, boredom. The afternoon after a

heavy night when the world has nothing more to show you.

He took a seat, ordered from a waitress who introduced

herself as Ashley, and then, when she returned with the

bottle, asked her, ‘You got a girl here called Commodore?’

Commodore. Fucksake. What a stupid name.

‘Yeah, Commodore’s here,’ replied Ashley warily. ‘Who

wants to know?’

‘A fan. I’ve been told her dancing is utterly sublime,’ said

Jerry, tongueincheek,

affecting the voice of a connoisseur.

Taking the piss again. He kissed his fingers. Grinned.

Ashley wasn’t having it. ‘She’s new.’

‘Word travels fast.’

‘All right. Well, you’re in luck, she’s on soon.’

Jerry sat back, drank his beer in three long slugs and then

ordered another one, Ashley even more wary now, which

was just as he intended. Sure enough, from the corner of

his eye, he watched the arrival of a guy he decided was

probably the duty manager. Jerry knew the type: scrawny

little guy with a wispy beard, cheap, shit suit and shoes that

didn’t match. The kind of guy who’d take advantage of the

women.

In turn, the duty manager beckoned to Ashley to join him.

They spoke briefly, the waitress glancing over at Jerry, nodding,

before the manager was joined by a bouncer in black

‘You’ve got a girl here called Commodore, yeah?’ began

cargo pants and trainers. More conversation. More glances

towards Jerry. Ashley departed to go about her business. The

Jerry. ‘Don’t answer that, it’s a rhetorical question. I know

bouncer and the duty manager remained, just at the periphery

of Jerry’s vision but staring his way.

Now Jerry looked over, maintaining eye contact. Next,

he stood, turned and very deliberately repositioned his chair

so that instead of facing the stage, it now faced the two men.

He regained his seat, lifted his beer bottle and saluted them,

mouthing Cheers.

They gave no response, just stared. The manager said

something to the bouncer. The bouncer nodded and made

his way over to Jerry.

He was a big guy: goatee beard, thick dark eyebrows.

Probably knew his way around a fight. As he arrived at Jerry’s

table, Jerry stood, reached for a chair, pulled it out. For a

moment or so, the two men faced one another, and then the

bouncer sat, Jerry doing the same.

‘What can I do for you?’ asked the bouncer. His gaze was

steady, but light glanced off a line of sweat on his forehead.

you have. Thing is, she’s leaving with me, so I’d appreciate it

if you’d let Commodore know that we’re going, like, now.

Tell her to pack a bag, take anything that’s hers. She’s not

coming back.’ Jerry checked his watch, the flash of his gold

Rolex not lost on the bouncer.

The bouncer regarded him. His expression barely changed.

‘Fallen in love, have we?’ he said.

 ‘It makes not a blind bit of difference to you why I’m taking

her. Just: I’m taking her.’

The bouncer pulled a face, shook his head. ‘Commodore’s

not free to leave. We set her up here, which means she works

for us until such time as she’s paid off her front money, and

she’s nowhere near doing that. What I’m saying is, she ain’t

going nowhere.’

Another bouncer had appeared and was standing a few

tables away, hands clasped in front of him, still as a statue.

Jerry gave him the onceover,

reflecting that you could

always tell if a geezer knew what he was doing by the way he

held his hands. Behind his back or down by his sides? Forget

it, guy was an amateur, you might as well have them in your

pockets. In front was a bit better, but the real pros had them

up high to make it easy to deflect.

Meantime, the girls on the poles were still dancing, but at

the same time were looking across. Even the few customers

had raised their eyes, their attention arrested by something

that was only slightly less commonplace than the sight of

‘And now,’ said the bouncer, as though he had regained

naked flesh and the taste of warm beer – the threat of imminent

A moment passed. Their eyes locked. Jerry didn’t move.

violence.

‘I’ll tell you what, I’m going to give you my card,’ said

the upper hand, ‘I’ll have to ask you to go.’

Jerry. It was already on the table. He slid it over.

‘Just says “Jeremiah O’Connell”, and a number,’ said the

bouncer without picking it up.

‘That’s all you need,’ said Jerry. ‘Make a few calls. I’ll wait

for you to speak to whoever you need to speak to.’

It took about ten minutes or so. Then the bouncer with

the goatee returned. ‘Commodore will be out in a moment,’

he said flatly. His eyes betrayed nothing, but Jerry saw the

tension in his shoulders. A vein that stood out on his neck.

Both tells that Jerry knew well – signs of one predator sizing

up another.

‘Well done, mate,’ replied Jerry.

The bouncer gave him an appraising look, seemed about to

say something, but thought better of it and then moved away.

Moments later, Commodore appeared, pale and drawn. Her

eyes were tired, and she wore streetwalker clothes.

‘They say I have to come with you,’ she said blankly.

‘They’re right, darlin’.’

Hope for the best, plan for the worst – that was what they

always said. He was prepared for a fuss. Tears. Screaming,

maybe even fists, and he was ready to carry her bodily out of

the door if needs be.

Instead, she just looked at him with tired, darkrimmed

eyes that no amount of caked on

makeup

could disguise.

She might be beautiful again, maybe, at some point in the

future. But right now her world had robbed her of looks and

life. Drugs had brought her low, and when she asked, ‘Did

my father send you?’ and he told her yes, the look on her face

was one of relief.

In short order, he made the call, drove to The Saddle

Ranch further along and delivered the girl into the grateful

arms of her father. An envelope was handed over. ‘There’s a

lot of money in there,’ said the father.

Jerry shrugged. ‘Price was agreed. Twenty grand for her

safe return. You got her back, you pay up. Simple as that.’

His face darkened. ‘Not planning on quibbling about it now,

are you?’

The man seemed to remember himself, shook his head,

and when he handed over the envelope, it was with a look of

gratitude, of relief. He watched as Jerry stowed the envelope

in his inside jacket pocket, got in the car and took off.

For his part, as he took off along Cedar Tree Avenue in

the shitty Prius, Jerry was looking forward to a drink at the

Naughty Pig on the Strip.

Which was when it happened.

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#FoulPlay

WELCOME TO EDWARDIAN ENGLAND

Lord D’Arque is dead, enquiries have led to the Lord’s loved ones being ruled out, and the search for a clear picture has put the servants of the manor in the frame. But what possible motive could the staff have for wanting their mean and miserly master murdered?

You’d be surprised what secrets are lurking behind the doors of the Manor! 

The servants are our lead suspects and it’s up to you as detectives to prove which one committed the dastardly deed. Playing good cop or bad cop? Picking from these two game versions will determine the type of investigators you’ll be whilst you try to solve the crime, but which detective will crack the case first?

Foul Play is a murder mystery card game for 2-5 players in which you need to find three clues to work out who the murder is and then convince the other players that you know who it is and put your evidence forward to back it up.

I sat down to play this with my husband after putting the little one to bed. The set up was really easy and there is even a photo on the website that shows how it should look for anyone who is unsure. We started off playing good cop but quickly moved on to bad cop as we are both very competitive and wanted to be able to win quicker! The game was fast paced and fun and we will definitely introduce the family to it over Christmas. The one recommendation I would give is to read the instructions online over the small card instructions as they didn’t seem to be as clear about what do with cards you had played/picking up new cards so the first few games we ran out of cards!

Thank you to @damppebbles , @DamppebblesBTs and @afterdarkmurder for my chance to play along! Check out these other lovely bloggers who will be taking part over the next ten days:

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#TheLockdownDiaryOfTomCooper

One man vs the coronavirus.

2020 was supposed to be a great year.

Unfortunately, Tom Cooper, like the rest of the world, has found himself stuck in the middle of a pandemic. He’s going to be spending the next few months trapped inside a small flat with sole responsibility for his two single digit children.

Separated from his girlfriend (and any possibility of help with childcare), Tom is plunged into a world of home schooling, awkward Zoom calls, supermarket feuds, al fresco workout sessions, cash strapped tooth fairies, aging parents who won’t stay home and competitive clapping for the NHS. Not to mention the problem of trying to fulfil his girlfriend’s request for an erotic selfie of his rapidly deteriorating body…


Join Tom as he navigates the lockdown in the stand-alone sequel to last year’s hilarious The Rebuilding of Tom Cooper. Laugh-out-loud with real heart.

Lockdown has never been so entertaining!

To be honest I was a little worried about reading this at the start of a second lockdown but this was a thoroughly enjoyable look at lock down from the perspective of a single parent. I really liked seeing all the parts I didn’t see from living in the country side and I especially enjoyed the observations of how different lockdown was for the rich vs the poor as (not knowing any very rich people) was something I was curious about.

This book is more about the challenges and joys of raising children and all the hilarious situations they put us in and is one I would recommend to all if you want a fun, light hearted read. That being said it did have some very tender and real moments that had me welling up!

I didn’t realise this was the second book when I signed up for the tour but I am glad of that as I might not have said yes had I know and it read absolutely fine as a stand alone. I will definitely be on the look out for book one!

Thank you to @randomttours @marottebooks and @thespencerbrown for my copy of the book in exchange for review.

Spencer Brown began performing comedy with the Cambridge Footlights alongside John Oliver (HBO’s This Week Tonight) and Matthew Holness (Garth Merenghi’s Darkplace), before becoming an internationally acclaimed stand up. He has performed everywhere from London’s The Comedy Store to Mumbai and the USA, TV credits including Nathan Barley (Channel 4), Edinburgh Comedy (BBC 2), Last Comic Standing (NBC), his own special on Swedish television. As a TV presenter, he fronted ITV’s Lip Service alongside Holly Willoughby and Five’s The Sexy Ads Show. He is also the writer-director of the multi-award-winning film The Boy with a Camera for a Face. The Lockdown Diary of Tom Cooper is his second novel.

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#wingingit

Emily is sure she’s getting this baby stuff all wrong. Why does everyone look like they’re smashing motherhood when she’s barely made it out of the house? She’s usually covered in sick, eating yet another beige freezer dinner, and relying on wet wipes to clean the baby, herself and the house. And coffee. All the coffee. Surely she can’t be the only new mum totally winging it?

Emily’s about to discover that when you’re starting a family, what you really need are your friends…

Our baby is stuck. The previously calm birthing room is full
of doctors shouting at the midwives.
‘We need to get her to the operating theatre, now!’ one
yells. ‘Why the hell isn’t she there already?’
I strain to see behind me as the pain grips and twists.
‘Nick? NICK? Where are you?’
‘Here,’ Nick says. His hand firmly grabs mine.
‘What’s happening?’ I shrill, my voice not sounding like
my own.
‘It’s OK, Emily,’ my midwife reassures me, ‘you’ve been
in second stage labour for some time now. We are going to
help you get your baby out.’ She squeezes my shoulder and
hurries out of the room.
‘Nick, what’s happening? What does she mean?’ I demand
as my entire innards crunch and tighten in the world’s
strongest vice.
‘It’s going to be alright,’ Nick says.
‘How do you know?’ I screech at him. The mother of all
contractions takes hold as I’m wheeled down the corridor.
‘Holy fuck!’ I hear myself scream.
The porters push the trolley through the swing doors and
the waiting doctor greets me, ‘Hello, Emily, I’m Doctor Marston.
We’re going to move you into a sitting position and ask
you to keep very still as I insert a spinal drip into your back.
Do you understand?’

‘Yes,’ I respond, as the contraction eases and I get my
breath back.
‘OK, Emily, you need to keep still. That’s it, remain absolutely
still.’
Can he stop asking me to stay still? It’s like asking a boxer
to remain static as his opponent repeatedly punches him in
the face. My body wants to push our baby out.
‘Right, it’s in!’ he says triumphantly, and my midwife appears,
guiding me back into a horizontal position on the bed.
‘You’re so close, Emily, you can do this,’ my midwife
encourages.
‘I can do this,’ I agree weakly.
‘You’re doing brilliantly.’ Nick wipes my sweaty forehead
with the sleeve of his jumper.
This isn’t how it’s meant to happen. I wanted ‘Here Comes
the Sun’, the Nina Simone version, playing triumphantly as
my child effortlessly slipped into the world. I’d imagined
doing the whole thing drugfree;
that I would get the baby
out on willpower alone. It’s all typed up in the birth plan.
Why isn’t it happening like the birth plan?
‘Get my baby OUT!’ The wave of another kneeshaking
contraction is starting to rumble. I can hear a low, Maorilike
wail, which I assume is coming from one of the other rooms
but as I draw breath, I’m surprised to fi nd it’s me making
the noise.
‘What are you doing?’ I ask as a doctor straps monitors to
me linked up to big beeping machines. ‘Is there something
wrong with the baby?’ I panic. Where’s Nick? He’s not next
to me anymore.
‘Nothing’s wrong. You’ve been crowning for a while now
and your baby has just become a bit distressed so we need to
monitor the heart rate. Just try to relax,’ the doctor explains.
‘Nick? Nick?’ Where has he gone?

‘I’m here. I’m right here,’ he soothes as I grab for his hand
and pull him close to me. He’s changed. He’s wearing blue
scrubs, George Clooney in ER style, and a net that tames his
uncontrollable curly hair; he looks like he works in a chip
shop. Where did he get the outfit from?
‘They know what they’re doing, Em.’ His voice is calm
but his eyes look wild with fear. My breath is becoming
shallow and panting. People sound like they are talking
underwater and the skin on my face feels like it is about
three sizes too small for my skull. I squeeze Nick’s fingers
together so tightly that his hand starts to twitch.
I close my eyes and try to take in a deep breath but only
feel as if I can fi ll about ten per cent of my lungs.
‘Just breathe, breathe, Emily. Release it slowly like we
practised. Make your lips really tight. Like a cat’s bum, remember?’
Nick’s voice sounds far away and echoey.
I exhale and open my eyes. My vision has altered, the
harsh strip lights have developed a seventies porno soft focus
quality; the doctors busy around me through a frosted
pane of glass. Nick grins at me and I know he is trying to
mask his panic. He’s squatting down so he’s at eye level but
his face is too close to mine. I can feel his warm breath on my
cheek and it smells like Cornish pasties.
‘I love you. I love you so much. You’re doing so brilliantly.
You’re amazing. Keep going, keep going. You’re
nearly there.’ He squeezes my hand and emphasises every
word.
I try to reply but no sound comes out. He tucks a sweaty
clump of hair behind my ear and I momentarily close my
eyes. When I open them, my legs are in stirrups. I hadn’t
even felt them move. These drugs are brilliant. Why hadn’t
I asked for them sooner? Stupid, self-righteous
birth plan.
I start to melt into a drug fuelled
bliss. My head feels like it is full of cotton wool; sentences drift off unfinished. I try
to smile at Nick but only half my face moves, like a kind of
Anne Robinson wink.
‘That’s my girl.’ He leans over and kisses my forehead.
‘We’re nearly there,’ he whispers, ‘we’re so nearly there.
I’m so proud of you.’
I reach out to touch his face but my arm feels like it weighs
a ton so I drop it back down onto the bed.
My midwife has both her hands pressed deep into my
stomach to feel when I am contracting; I can’t feel anything
at all now – thank fuck for drugs. ‘OK, OK, this is it. I can
feel another contraction coming, Emily. I need you to do one
last big push for me, can you do that?’
‘How? I can’t feel anything. How do I push?’ My body is
completely numb from my lower chest downwards.
‘Imagine you’re doing a poo. Push like you think you’re
doing a poo, Emily,’ she orders. ‘NOW! DO IT NOW!’
The world suddenly stands still. I’m looking at the silent,
scarlet faced
midwife barking orders at me. Her mouth is
moving but I can’t hear her. I am utterly gripped by fear. I
can’t do this, I can’t do this. I want all this to stop. I can’t
do this. I’m not ready. I scrunch my eyes shut as the tears
spill down my cheeks. Can all this just stop for a moment?
I’m not ready.
Then quick as a fl ash I’m back in the room like I’ve been
given a shot of adrenaline. A glob of spit sprays out the
midwife’s mouth as she screams, ‘I SAID NOW, EMILY!’
I shut my eyes again, but this time, a sheer determination
takes over my whole body. I tense every muscle I can feel and
focus on tensing all those that are numb. I imagine myself sat
on the toilet and then push. And push. And push. And push.
‘And PUSH. Keep going. The head is almost out. Your
baby is almost here. ONE MORE BIG PUSH, EMILY!’

The doctor standing between my legs is nodding frantically
at the midwife. Fuck. This is it. Come on, Emily, you
can do this. Let’s get this baby out.
I gulp in another huge breath, grip Nick’s hand with all
my might and scream a deep, powerful scream from somewhere
right down in my solar plexus.
‘That’s it, Emily, that’s it, keep going. This is the one,
we’re going to get your baby out on this one, KEEP GOING,’
she bellows.
I gasp for another lungful of air and use the last bit of
upper body strength to bend forward, imagining I’m doing
the biggest poo of my life.
Suddenly there’s a sharp tug between my legs followed
by what sounds like someone spilling a pint of water on the
floor.
‘Yes! Well done, Emily, your baby is here.’
Our baby is here.
Everything pauses. There is a collective intake of breath
followed by an ear bleedingly
loud wail and the room becomes
a hive of activity again. I flop back on the bed, sweat
dripping in my eyes.
‘Daddy, do you want to come and see what sex it is?’ It
takes me a moment to realise the doctor is talking to Nick.
‘Oh my God, Emily . . .’ His voice cracks. ‘It’s a girl, she’s
a girl!’
‘Can I see her?’ I croak.
The doctor carefully places her on my chest. I’m stunned
by the alien feeling of having the weight of a one breath old
human being on top of me. She has tiny, tiny fingers with
titchy fingernails and a mouth the size of an old five pence,
opening and closing like a goldfish.
We have a daughter. All slippery, a full head of black hair
matted to her purple scalp with blood and discharge.

I look up at Nick, who is taking a picture of us both on his
phone, and say in a voice that comes out so deep it sounds
more like a burp: ‘It’s our baby.’
Later, we look back at that photograph which he immediately
texts to everyone we know, and both comment on how
much I look like a transvestite.
‘Do you have a name?’ a nurse asks.
Nick and I look at each other and without hesitation,
proudly say, ‘Lucy’, in unison. Of the five million names we
toyed with, we always came back to Lucy. We don’t agree
on a lot of things, but thankfully we agreed on this.
There is another tug between my legs. I’ve been so busy
staring at our baby, I hadn’t noticed the doctor was still
ferreting around down there. She looks up at me and says,
‘Would you like to see your placenta?’
I nod before I’ve really had a chance to think it through
and she passes it to the midwife who presents me with what
looks like a massive bloody steak.
‘Are you keeping it?’ she asks.
‘Am I what?’
‘Some people like to keep them, have it dried and made
into capsules, or necklaces.’ She’s still holding the meat tray
of bloody flesh.
‘Err . . . No, no, I’m fi ne thanks.’
‘Yes, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.’ She shrugs, putting
it down.
‘Can I hold her?’ Nick whispers.
‘You can do better than that, would you like to cut the
cord, Daddy?’
I wish she’d stop calling him ‘Daddy’. It’s totally creeping
me out.
Nick looks terrified as the midwife gently takes Lucy
from me and hands him a pair of scissors. He says afterwards how he wished the midwife had done it.
‘It was horrible.’ he explains.’ ‘Like sawing through
really gristly cheap meat, knowing that you might slip and
stab your new born baby.’
Nick picks her up tenderly and holds her in the crook
of his arm. He reminds me of the Athena poster, if the guy
was dressed like he worked in a chippy. A wave of emotion
shudders through me. This is my family now.
Nick passes Lucy back and I wrap a sheet around us both.
A purple, wrinkly hand rests on my chest territorially and I
think, I’m your mum. I’m your mum. I’m your mum.
The room has emptied so it’s just me, Lucy, Nick, the
midwife and one doctor, who looks at me reassuringly as she
settles on the stool between my legs, which are still strung
up in the stirrups.
‘Just relax,’ the doctor says perkily. ‘We had to cut
through several layers of your vaginal wall to get your baby
out, so I’m going to sew it up for you. You won’t feel a thing
for now. I’ll tidy it up as best I can so it’ll be nearly as good
as new.’ I don’t think I ever want to use my vagina again.
She might as well just sew the whole thing up.
‘Would you like some tea and toast?’ the midwife asks in
a kind voice that makes me want to cry. I am suddenly the
hungriest I’ve been in my entire life, having done the whole
labour on two peanut Tracker bars and a Milky Way. Under
normal circumstances, that would be an in between snack
snack. I give my brand new
baby a big sniff on the top of
her sticky head, and gratefully say, ‘Yes please.’
‘I’ll go and put that toast on for you. Just relax, you’ve
done the hard work now.’ She smiles. Those words stick
with me, and later I will think how cruel it is to mislead
someone so much, so early on.

The hard work has only just begun…

Thank you to @orionbooks and @alexxlayt for letting me share this extract with you as part of the blog tour.

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#CityOfSpies

The stunning debut from the new name to watch in espionage thrillers. For fans of Charlotte Philby, and The Bletchley Circle, this is perfect Sunday night drama. 

LISBON, 1943.

When her cover is blown, SOE agent Elisabeth de Mornay flees Paris. Pursued by the Gestapo, she makes her way to neutral Lisbon, where Europe’s elite rub shoulders with diplomats, businessmen, smugglers, and spies. There she receives new orders – and a new identity.

Posing as wealthy French widow Solange Verin, Elisabeth must infiltrate a German espionage ring targeting Allied ships, before more British servicemen are killed.

The closer Elisabeth comes to discovering the truth, the greater the risk grows. With a German officer watching her every step, it will take all of Elisabeth’s resourcefulness and determination to complete her mission.

But in a city where no one is who they claim to be, who can she trust?

City of Spies is a spy thriller that had me hooked from page one. The story starts in France with our main character Elizabeth De Moray who is a trained SOE (Special Operations Executive) SOE agents purpose was to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe against the Axis powers, and to aid local resistance movements during the second World War.

Unfortunately, Elizabeth’s cover is blown, and she must leave Paris and the first part of the book follows her across France as she endeavours to contact London to receive new orders. When she does receive help, she is moved to Lisbon to start anew undercover assignment as Solange Verin, a wealthy French Widow mixing with high society to Spy on the Germans.

I actually had no idea that Portugal was neutral in the WW2 and to find out that there was a country where in the Capital City the British Embassy was across from the German Embassy and citizens of these countries mixed socially was a complete eye opener and had me reaching for google to read all about it. I enjoyed learning something new.

I very much liked that the main character was a strong and independent, intelligent woman who could very much hold her own against the male characters. Normally when a female lead shows these characteristics she is shown as a hard-facedball breaker, but I did not feel Elisabeth was. I would have liked her past to have been a explained in a bit more detail as we find out that she was shunned by her family for a bad marriage but we didn’t find out why the marriage was unacceptable. Also references to her family go unexplained but I believe this is done deliberately so it can be explored in future novels. This book had the terror of being in occupied France and trying to escape the Germans to the glamour of the 1940’s jet set in Lisbon with all the underlying twists and turns of espionage. Mara Timon sets the scene of both beautifully.

I was really enjoying the book and even before I had finished it was recommending it to people that is right up until the last page. I was disappointed that it just finished. Literally just stopped. I understand that this is so a follow up book can be written but I would have liked more of this book to be wrapped up and I was left feeling a little bit conned.

I would still recommend the book and will look out for the next instalment. It was cleverly written and very well researched and opened a chapter of WW2 that I knew nothing about.

Thank you to zaffrebooks and compulsivereads for my spot on the blog tour!

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#HomewardBound

George is a recently widowed seventy-nine-year-old. He nearly made it as a rock star in the 1960s and he’s not happy. Tara is his teenage granddaughter and she’s taken refuge from her bickering parents by living with George. Toby is George’s son-in-law and he wants George in a care home. 

George has two secrets. 1) He’s never revealed why his music career stalled. And 2) No-one knows just how much the disappointment of opportunities missed still gnaw at him. He craves one last chance, even at his age. When it presents itself, through the appearance of a long-lost distant relative – whose chequered past should set alarm bells ringing – he can’t resist. 

For Tara, living with her grandfather is a way to find her own path and develop her own musical ambitions. She isn’t prepared for the clash between different generations and living in a strange house full of her grandfather’s memories – and vinyl records.

They get off to a shaky start. George takes an instant dislike to the sounds from her bedroom that seem more suited to Guantanamo Bay than anything he would call musical. But as time plays out, they find there are more similarities – neither know how to operate a dishwasher – than differences, and parallels across the generations slowly bring them to recognise their shared strengths. But when Toby inadvertently sets in motion a chain of events, it leaves Tara with the same dilemma her grandfather faced five decades before with the same life-changing choice to make.

Homeward Bound features 79-year-old grandfather George, who didn’t quite make it as a rock star in the ‘60s. He’s expected to be in retirement but in truth he’s not ready to close the lid on his dreams and will do anything for a last chance. When he finds himself on a tour of retirement homes instead of a cream tea at the seaside his family has promised, it seems his story might prematurely be over.

He finds the answer by inviting Tara, his 18-year-old granddaughter, to share his house, along with his memories and vast collection of records. She is an aspiring musician as well, although her idea of music is not George’s. What unfolds are clashes and unlikely parallels between the generations – neither knows nor cares how to use a dishwasher – as they both chase their ambitions.

Everyone knows that I love an older character in a book so when the chance to be on this tour popped into my inbox I grabbed it and I am so glad I did!

This is a truly lovely story about family, old age and never giving up on your dreams. I really enjoyed the interactions between George and his Granddaughter, Tara, but felt that this was more of a story on the whole family rather than the pair of them as the blurb describes. That being said I enjoyed the whole family, all characters were well written and I loved that they were a realistic portrayal rather than a romanticised perfect family who could do no wrong. The only character flaw I found was that Tara’s character did come across as a little young for the age she was written (which 18 year-old do you know who would be caught dead reading a magazine called ‘Teen Tips”).

The musical element was a great addition to the book as really gave a feel of George’s era and his sense of character, I may have to make myself a new playlist!

Thank you to @rararesources @RichardWrites2 & @matadorbooks for my #gifted copy in exchange for review.

Purchase Links

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/homeward-bound-richard-smith/1136313433?ean=2940163088645

https://www.waterstones.com/book/homeward-bound/richard-smith/9781838591595

https://www.ink84bookshop.co.uk/product-page/homeward-bound-by-richard-smith


Richard Smith is a writer and storyteller for sponsored films and commercials, with subjects as varied as caring for the elderly, teenage pregnancies, communities in the Niger delta, anti- drug campaigns and fighting organised crime. Their aim has been to make a positive difference, but, worryingly, two commercials he worked on featured in a British Library exhibition, ‘Propaganda’.

@RichardWrites2    

richardsmithwrites.com

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#IfICantHaveYou #MeetConstanceLittle

f I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin is an all-consuming novel about loneliness, obsession and how far we go for the ones we love.

Samuel, the day we met I knew I’d finally found what I’ve been waiting for.

You.

Happiness, at last.

Then you left me.

And now I am alone.

Everyone I love leaves in the end.

But not this time.

I’m not giving up on us.

I’m not giving up on you.

When you love someone, you never let them go.

That’s why for me, this is just beginning.

If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin is published on 9th July by Mantle, priced £14.99 in hardback.

This is the story of Constance Little, a woman who has lost her mother and moved to a new city. She falls hard for a new Doctor at the practise she has been working at and we follow their relationship.


This was a very detailed and character driven plot build up. It shows how a normal relationship can quickly escalate to an unhealthy obsession. ⁣

I did like the ending and I can definitely see why lots of people are loving this one as it’s well written and leaves you with that creepy uncomfortable feeling so effortlessly, but for me it just felt a little slow & flat, with quiet a predictable story line.

Thank you to @ed_pr @Panmacmillan and @MantleBooks for my #gifted copy in exchange for review.

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#TheGirlFromWidowHills

Everyone knows the story of the girl from Widow Hills.

When Arden Maynor was six years old, she was swept away in terrifying storm and went missing for days. Against all odds, she was found alive, clinging to a storm drain. A living miracle. Arden’s mother wrote a book, and fame followed. But so did fans, creeps and stalkers. It was all too much, and as soon as she was old enough, Arden changed her name and left Widow Hills behind.

Now, a young woman living hundreds of miles away, Arden is known as Olivia. With the twentieth anniversary of her rescue looming, media interest in the girl who survived is increasing. Where is she now? The stress brings back the night terrors of Olivia’s youth. Often, she finds herself out of bed in the middle of the night, sometimes outside her home, even streets away. Then one evening she jolts awake in her yard, with the corpse of a man at her feet.

The girl from Widow Hills is about to become the centre of the story, once again.

I have read all the missing girls by this author and still have the last house guest on my tbr so I knew I wanted to give this a try when it was offered for reviewers and I am very glad I did.

This was a fantastic thriller that kept me guessing right the way through. Every time I thought I knew what was coming something threw me off the trail! The short sharp chapters really had me on edge and I loved the addition of the transcription at the end of each chapter that revealed what happened all those years ago.

I also really enjoyed that this was two mystery’s to solve in one, the past when the younger Olivia going missing in the storm and the present question of who has killed the person Olivia finds.

Thanks to @randomttours and @coverus for my #gifted copy in exchange for review.

Megan Miranda is the author of All The Missing Girls, The Perfect Stranger, and The Last House Guest, which was the August 2019 Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine pick. She grew up in New Jersey, graduated from MIT, and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children. Follow @MeganLMiranda on Twitter and Instagram, or @AuthorMeganMiranda on Facebook.

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#TheMiseducationOfEvieEpworth

Cold Comfort Farm meets Adrian Mole in the funniest debut novel of the year.


Yorkshire, the summer of 1962. Sixteen year-old Evie Epworth stands on the cusp of womanhood. But what kind of a woman will she become?


Up until now, Evie’s life has been nothing special: a patchwork of school, Girl Guides, cows, milk deliveries, lost mothers and village fetes. But, inspired by her idols (Charlotte Bronte, Shirley MacLaine and the Queen), she dreams of a world far away from rural East Yorkshire, a world of glamour lived under the bright lights of London (or Leeds).


Standing in the way of these dreams, though, is Christine, Evie’s soon to be stepmother, a manipulative and money grubbing schemer who is lining Evie up for a life of shampoo- and-set drudgery at the local salon.
Luckily, Evie is not alone. With the help of a few friends, and the wise counsel of the two Adam Faith posters on her bedroom wall (‘brooding Adam’ and ‘sophisticated Adam’), Evie comes up with a plan to rescue her bereaved father, Arthur, from Christine’s pink and over-perfumed clutches, and save their beloved farmhouse from being sold off. She will need a little luck, a dash of charm and a big dollop of Yorkshire magic if she is to succeed, but in the process she may just discover who exactly she is meant to be.

Published by Scribner on July 23rd 2020, 361 Pages

I really enjoyed this light, fun, coming of age tale set in the 60’s. I quickly fell in love with Evie as, I too, am a bracket-loving, celery hater! (read the book and it will make sense). Taylor really manged to capture the characters essence as you fall in love with Evie, feel sorry for her Farther and strongly dislike Christine.

I really enjoyed the small interludes that gave us quick snippets into the past and felt they worked really well to give us the parts of the story we were missing with it being in first person narration. I loved Taylor’s style of writing and will definitely look out for his future work!

Also I cant not say it, I LOVE THE COVER!!

The only thing that I didn’t buy into was how old Evie was, she came across as very young for her age, had I not been told she was 16 I would have put her at 12. This may have been done purposefully by the author to give us a sense of how grown up our teenagers are now or may just be that I feel teenagers are older, either way it didn’t take any enjoyment away from the book, was merely a feeling I had whilst reading.

Thank you to @ScribnerBooks @matson_taylor_ and @randomttours for my #gifted copy in exchange for review.

Matson Taylor grew up in Yorkshire but now lives in London. He is a design historian and academic- writing tutor and has worked at various universities and museums around the world; he currently teaches at the V&A, Imperial College, and the RCA. He has also
Camden Market, an Italian TV and been a pronunciation coach for Catalan worked on appeared commercial, in opera singers.