#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:

#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.

#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.

#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!

#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

#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.

#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.

#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.

#Anna

Every cloud has a silver lining… doesn’t it? Anna is thirteen years old, lives in London with her father, and has Asperger’s syndrome. 

When her father dies, she moves to Scotland to live with her estranged, reclusive mother.  With little support to help her, she must use every coping strategy her father taught her—especially her ‘Happy Game’—as she tries to connect with her mother, discover her past, and deal with the challenges of being thrown into a brand new life along the way. 


This is the story of 13 year old Anna who’s has lost her father and so has to move to Scotland to live with her estranged mother. Anna has Aspergers* and finds very little support in her new home as she tries to fit in and understand her past.⁣

What can I say other than I love this book! Anna was so so sweet and loving and I absolutely love that. I think a lot of the time in literature characters with Aspergers* are shown as quiet cold and hard to get on with and I loved that it wasn’t the case in this book.⁣

There were quiet a few parts that reminded me of Pollyanna and I enjoyed meeting the grumpy bed bound old woman and the old man who had skeletons in his closet and all in between.⁣

This is a fantastic debut from Laura Guthrie and I can’t wait to see what she writes in the future.⁣

*I am aware the term Aspergers was changed to Autistic Spectrum Disorder in 2013, as is the author but the character, Anna, was diagnosed pre-change and thus uses the older term and is why I have used it in my review.⁣


Thank you so much to @lovebookstours and @cranachanbooks for my #gifted copy in exchanged for a review (please put me down for any future books by this author 🤣)

Laura Guthrie grew up in the rural Scottish Highlands (“I come from where the planes don’t fly”). Her creative influences include Nessie and the elusive ‘Caiplich Beast’, as well as some choice authors and their works.

She has an honours degree in biological sciences from the University of Edinburgh, and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Glasgow.

NEW BLOOD 2020 – VAL MCDERMID TIPS CRIME FICTION’S RISING STARS #TheakstonsCrime @HarrogateFest

NEW BLOOD 2020 – VAL MCDERMID TIPS CRIME FICTION’S RISING STARS

DEEPA ANAPPARA | ELIZABETH KAY | JESSICA MOOR | TREVOR WOOD

The New Blood 2020 panel will be streamed on Saturday 25 Julyon harrogateinternationalfestivals.com

Harrogate, Thursday 18 June 2020: The undisputed ‘Queen of Crime’ Val McDermid has unveiled the hotly tipped ‘New Blood’ authors for 2020, showcasing the year’s best breakout crime writing talent: 

–          Deepa Anappara – Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line (Chatto & Windus)

–          Elizabeth Kay – Seven Lies (Sphere)

–          Jessica Moor – Keeper (Penguin)

–          Trevor Wood – The Man on the Street (Quercus)

Since 2004, the best-selling Scottish author of the Tony Hill & Carol Jordan series has curated an annual celebration of the most formidable debuts taking the crime and thriller genre by storm, with an invitation to join the line-up of the world’s largest and most prestigious crime fiction festival: Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. 

This year, Deepa Anappara has been selected for her part coming-of-age, part detective mystery Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, a heart-breaking and thought-provoking social commentary of modern India’s slums that has been recognised for the Women’s Prize. Elizabeth Kay is on the list for her explosive Seven Lies, taking domestic noir to a whole new level in a deliciously dark blurring of truth and lies, and Jessica Moore is recognised for her brutal and beautiful Keeper, the addictive literary thriller that has had everyone talking. Concluding this year’s New Blood contingent is Trevor Wood and his debut The Man on the Street, a gritty thriller set on the streets of Newcastle.

Val McDermid said: “I have been hosting the New Blood showcase since the festival began in 2003 and, in my book, discovering and sharing new talent with an eager audience is the best job in crime fiction. I know exactly what I’m looking for on my quest: fresh and distinctive voices, a well-told, convincing story and the almost indefinable sense that these authors all have much more to say. Deepa, Elizabeth, Jessica and Trevor tick all of these boxes and more, and if this year’s debuts share a theme, it is the irresistible and devastating way in which crime fiction shines a light on our times: homelessness, domestic violence, child trafficking and mental health are all dissected with an unflinching gaze. Whilst we can’t gather en masse at the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate this year, I hope that readers will enjoy our virtual introduction to these brilliant new writers.”

The unveiling of McDermid’s selection has become one of the most anticipated moments of the publishing calendar, with readers on the lookout to uncover their new favourite author and add the ‘next big thing’ to their bookshelves. 

Former ‘New Blood’ alumni include Clare Mackintosh, SJ Watson, Stuart MacBride, Liam McIlvanney and Belinda Bauer, as well as three authors on this year’s shortlist for the UK’s most prestigious crime writing award – Theakston Old Peculier: Abir Mukherjee, Jane Harper and Oyinkan Braithwaite, who was chosen just last year for her Booker longlisted My Sister, the Serial Killer.

As part Harrogate International Festivals’ year round programme of events, each year the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival welcomes the world’s famous authors each year to Harrogate’s Old Swan Hotel – the scene of Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance in 1926 – for a celebration of the crime genre like no other. 

This year’s instalment – which formed part of Harrogate International Festival Summer Season – was cancelled, with much sadness, due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and so the 2020 ‘New Blood’ showcase will be streamed on the festival’s HIF Player on what would have been the legendary weekender on Saturday 25 July 2020.

Val McDermid will also interviewed by Mark Lawson about the legacy of the New Blood panel, discussing the vital role of the showcase in giving a platform to new writers in the industry and the crime community, and giving a peek behind the scenes into how and why she chooses the books.

Trevor Wood said: “As a kid I dreamt of playing in the cup final. I’m a fraction older now but being chosen for Harrogate’s New Blood panel feels exactly like that did.” 

Jessica Moor said: “To have been chosen for this panel, which has included some of my favourite new authors of the last decade, and to have been chosen by the legendary Val McDermid, is a such an honour.”

Deepa Anappara said: “I am thrilled and honoured to be picked for the New Blood panel, and grateful to Val McDermid for her immense generosity and support of debut novelists.”

Elizabeth Kay said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to have been selected for such a prestigious event. The ‘New Blood’ panel has an incredible history, and I’m delighted to be participating this year alongside three really exciting other authors.”

For further information, please contact Midas PR:

hannah.mcmillan@midaspr.co.uk | 07971 086649 | anna.zanetti@midaspr.co.uk | 07583 127515

Deepa Anappara – Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line (Chatto & Windus)

In a basti on the outskirts of a sprawling Indian city, nine-year-old Jai watches too many reality cop shows in the house he shares with his family. Jai thinks he’s smarter than his friend Pari (even though she always gets top marks) and considers himself to be a better boss than his hardworking friend Faiz (even though he has a job). When their classmate from school goes missing, the Djinn Patrol ventures out, wielding their detective skills into the bustling city to investigate; through the rattle-tattle energy and mouth-watering smells of the bazaar, to the dangerous rubbish ground and as far as the railway station at the end of the Purple Line. But children continue to vanish, and the trio must confront terrified parents, an unsympathetic police force and soul-snatching djinns in order to uncover the truth. As the disappearances edge ever closer to home, the lives of Jai and his friends will be altered forever. 

Deepa Anappara grew up in Kerala, southern India, and worked as a journalist in cities including Mumbai and Delhi. Her reports on the impact of poverty and religious violence on the education of children won the Developing Asia Journalism Awards, the Every Human has Rights Media Awards, and the Sanskriti-Prabha Dutt Fellowship in Journalism. A partial of her debut novel, Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, won the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, the Bridport/Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award and the Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, Norwich, and is currently studying for a PhD on a CHASE doctoral fellowship. Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line will be publised in America, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain and Sweden. deepa-anappara.com

Elizabeth Kay – Seven Lies (Sphere)

Only you know the truth: Jane and Marnie have been inseparable since they were eleven years old. In their twenties, they both married handsome young men. Years later, Jane and Marnie are still best friends – and both men are dead. But if Jane had been honest from the start – if she hadn’t told that first little white lie – then perhaps the person she loves most would still love her too. Perhaps everything would be different. This is Jane’s opportunity to tell the real story – if you can believe her. As Jane narrates hers and Marnie’s shared history and unpicks each of seven increasingly catastrophic lies, she reveals the pockets of darkness that have infiltrated their friendship; the toxic secrets still bubbling beneath; and a tale of obsession, of grief, and the real meaning of truth.

Elizabeth Kay (@AnyOtherLizzy) started her career as an assistant at Penguin Random House. She is now a commissioning editor and is simultaneously pursuing her passion for writing. Her debut novel, Seven Lies, will be published in 2020. Elizabeth lives in London with her husband. @AnyOtherLizzy

Jessica Moor – Keeper (Penguin)

He’s been looking in the windows again. Messing with cameras. Leaving notes. Supposed to be a refuge. But death got inside. When Katie Straw’s body is pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot, the police decide it’s an open-and-shut case. A standard-issue female suicide. But the residents of Widringham women’s refuge where Katie worked don’t agree. They say it’s murder. Will you listen to them?

Jessica Moor (@jessicammoor) studied English at Cambridge before completing a Creative Writing MA at Manchester University. Prior to this she spent a year working in the violence against women and girls sector and this experience inspired her first novel, KEEPER.

Trevor Wood – The Man on the Street (Quercus)

It started with a splash. Jimmy, a homeless veteran grappling with PTSD, did his best to pretend he hadn’t heard it – the sound of something heavy falling into the Tyne at the height of an argument between two men on the riverbank. Not his fight. Maybe it was another of his vivid nightmares? Since he found himself living on the streets, avoiding other people’s fights has helped him to survive. Trouble finds him easily enough without looking for it. Then a newspaper headline catches his eye: GIRL IN MISSING DAD PLEA. The girl, Carrie, reminds him of someone he lost.  This makes his mind up: it’s time to stop hiding from his past. But telling Carrie, what he heard – or thought he heard – turns out to be just the beginning of the story. The police don’t believe him. Who believes a homeless man? But Carrie is adamant that something awful has happened to her dad and Jimmy agrees to help her, putting himself at risk from enemies old and new. But Jimmy has one big advantage: when you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose.  

Trevor Wood (@TrevorWoodWrite) has lived in Newcastle for twenty-five years and considers himself an adopted Geordie. He’s a successful playwright who has also worked as a journalist and spin-doctor for the City Council. Prior to that he served in the Royal Navy for sixteen years. Trevor holds an MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) from UEA. The Man on the Street is his first novel.

About Harrogate International Festivals

‘Harrogate International Festivals’ is a charitable organisation with a mission to present a diverse year-long programme of live events that bring immersive and moving cultural experiences to as many people as possible. Delivering artistic work of national importance, the Festival curates and produces over 300 unique and surprising performances each year, celebrating world-renowned artists and championing new and up-coming talent across music, literature, science, philosophy and psychology. The HIF+ ongoing education outreach programme engages schools, young people and the local community with workshops, talks, projects and inspiring activities, ensuring everyone can experience the Festival’s world class programme and the transformative power of the arts.

Established in 1966, Harrogate International Festivals are an artistic force to be reckoned with and a key cultural provider for the North of England.

Find out more at: www.harrogateinternationalfestivals.com | Facebook: @HarrogateInternationalFestivals | Twitter: @HarrogateFest | Instagram: @harrogatefestivals