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This Is Not A Love Story is a book for anyone who’s ever wished they were perfect. It’s a book for anyone who feels like a failure.

And it’s not a love story, it’s a real story. And it’s hilarious.

Maggie Gardiner isn’t good enough. She had six glasses of wine at a work conference, woke up covered in curry and has accidentally ended up living with the boring guy who was supposed to be a one night stand. Something has to change.

Every other twenty-something on Instagram seems to have their sh*t together, so why doesn’t she? And so she makes a list. When she’s ticked off every item, she’ll become Maggie 2.0 – the best version of herself, and the one she wants to be. Won’t she…?

1.       Go vegan. It worked for that girl on Twitter.
2.       Take up yoga – that woman she hate-follows swears by it
3.       Start practising mindfulness – all those people can’t be wrong…
4.       Quit smoking. It’s not 1999

Published by Trapeze on 11th June 2020

Reading this I could just see myself at 23, looking at everyone else’s perfect lives and wondering what I was doing wrong whilst simultaneously pouring wine down my throat and making poor life choices. I liked the authors direct writing style, it felt current and very much how I speak with my friends. The dry whit and the humorous situations the character got herself into made me laugh and on more than one occasion I send a picture of a line of text to a friend, example;

‘Ah, wine. You sneaky little bastard.’

Who doesn’t relate to that! The language was unfiltered and the whole book felt refreshingly new.

For the most part I really enjoyed this book but I do have to point out that there was a sentence about autism that was a more than a little uncomfortable to read and would more than likely be offensive for others but I have contacted the publisher and they have said that they will work to get it changed and hopefully the author will acknowledge what they wrote was unacceptable.

Thank you to @annecater and @TrapezeBooks for my #gifted copy in exchange for review.

Mary Hargreaves lives in Manchester and enjoys writing and reading things that cleverer people have written.  She hates waiting, musicals and Pinot Grigio.  This Is Not A Love Story is her debut novel.

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As a young woman boxes up her ex-boyfriend’s belongings and prepares to see him one last time, she wonders where it all went wrong, and whether it was ever right to begin with. Burdened with a broken heart, she asks herself the age-old question . . . is love really worth it? Out of Love is a bittersweet romance told in reverse.

Beginning at the end of a relationship, each chapter takes us further back in time, weaving together an already unravelled tapestry, from tragic break-up to magical first kiss. In this dazzling debut Hazel Hayes performs a post-mortem on love, tenderly but unapologetically exploring every angle, from the heights of joy to the depths of grief, and all the madness and mundanity in between. This is a modern story with the heart of a classic: truthful, tragic and ultimately full of hope.

Out Of Love by Hazel Hayes is published on 11 June 2020 by Unbounders, 354 pages

I loved this book!!!

The story starts off at the end, so you know that the couple have broken up. Their story is then told in reverse, each chapter revealing a little more of their history as individuals, as a couple and whilst showing pivotal moments in the relationship.

I think fans of Sally Rooney are going to go nuts for this book, the story has the same raw and emotional feel to it. Throughout the pages a range of topics are discussed such as mental health, guilt, sexuality, family and may other topics and it was fascinating to see how something so simple on the surface, like a break up, goes so much deeper. It felt real and relatable.

I have read a few books now with a reverse timeline and this is, by far, the most successful. I love that the author admits that the characters short fall when writing stories is endings which makes the reversed timeline even more ingenious.

I can’t wait to see what this author does next.

Thank you to @annecater @TheHazelHayes and @unbounders for my #gifted copy in exchange for review.

Twitter @TheHazelHayes

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Nora elbowed her way up to the railing and looked down. The paddle wheel was making its last turn, dredging up a mass of turquoise chiffon made almost transparent by the water. A hand, its red lacquered fingernails a contrast to the pale white skin, stuck up from a bejeweled cuff…

A relaxing cruise down the Mississippi on the Miss Delta Belle steamboat turns to tragedy when celebrity Delilah Dove falls from the deck and is swallowed by the river faster than you can say ‘man overboard!’

It’s touted as a tragic accident, but guests Miss Nora Marsh and her wily great-aunt Julia know a murder when they see one. Can they get justice for Delilah and crack the case without alerting the murderer to their suspicions?

As Nora and Julia hunt for clues it emerges that nearly everyone had a reason to want Delilah dead. And that’s bad news for the two sleuths—who want to solve the case pronto, before Mississippi police chief and Aunt Julia’s nemesis Artemis Leonard comes on board at the next port to launch the official investigation. She’s not letting him get the credit if she can help it.

With multiple suspects and a series of mysterious thefts onboard—not to mention the distractingly handsome Max Lawton turning Nora’s head—this is shaping up to be one tough case to crack. What started as a gentle river voyage is far from plain sailing.

A fun and lively 1920s murder mystery from bestselling author Leighann Dobbs, perfect for fans of T E Kinsey and Lee Strauss.

Published by  Bookouture on 1st June 2020

I absolutely love a cosy mystery and having read and enjoyed the Blackmoore Sisters series by this author I was excited to dive into this murder mystery set in the 1920’s.

Julia and Nora made a great team and have to work to solve the mystery in just a few days whilst keeping their investigation under wraps. I also really enjoyed the descriptions of 1920’s fashion throughout as it really gave a feel for the time.

This was a quick and fun read and a definite win for anyone who enjoys a cosy mystery and a bit of light historical fiction and any Agatha Christie fans out there!

I was not disappointment and am looking forward to the next instalment in this series!

Thank you to @bookouture and @netgalley for my #gifted ebook in exchange for review.

USA Today bestselling author, Leighann Dobbs, discovered her passion for writing after a twenty year career as a software engineer. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband Bruce, their trusty Chihuahua mix Mojo and beautiful rescue cat, Kitty.

Her book “Dead Wrong” won the “Best Mystery Romance” award at the 2014 Indie Romance Convention.

Her book “Ghostly Paws” was the 2015 Chanticleer Mystery & Mayhem First Place category winner in the Animal Mystery category.

Buy Links:


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THEAKSTON OLD PECULIER CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR 2020 | #TheakstonAward | @HarrogateFest | Images & further info here

Oyinkan Braithwaite | Chris Brookmyre | Will Carver | Jane Casey | Lee Child | Ann Cleeves

Will Dean | Louise Doughty | Helen Fitzgerald | Jane Harper | Mick Herron | Val McDermid

Adrian McKinty | Denise Mina | Abir Mukherjee | Alex North | Laura Shepherd-Robinson | Harriet Tyce


Harrogate, 7 May 2020: Today, the longlist of the UK and Ireland’s most prestigious crime novel award is unveiled with literary legends and dynamic debuts in contention for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year…

Now in its 16th year, the most coveted prize in crime fiction, presented by Harrogate International Festivals, received a record number of submissions and this highly anticipated longlist of 18 titles – 10 of which by women – represents crime writing at its best: celebrating four former winners, a Booker Prize contender, and the fresh new voices taking the genre by storm.

The line-up of returning champions is led by Scottish supernova Denise Mina, vying to become the first author to complete a hat trick with the deeply unsettling thriller Conviction. Mina is joined by fellow Glaswegian bestseller Chris Brookmyre and his psychological suspense Fallen Angel, ‘Queen of Crime’ Val McDermid’s latest masterful Tony Hill and Carol Jordan investigation, How the Dead Speak, and Lee Child CBE, with the final Jack Reacher, Blue Moon, before sharing authorship with his brother Andrew.

The longlist also features several previously nominated authors hoping to go one step further and claim the trophy with Mick Herron securing a fifth pick for his much-lauded Slough House series with Joe Countryand a nod for Abir Mukherjee’s new Wyndham & Banerjee instalment,Smoke and Ashes, and fan favourite Vera and Shetland author Ann Cleeves returns with The Long Call, marking the launch of a new North Devon series. Further Theakston alumni in the running include Adrian McKinty with his electrifying thriller The Chain, Helen Fitzgerald and the darkly comic Worst Case Scenario, and outback noir from Jane Harper in The Lost Man.

Rising stars of the genre are celebrated with three debuts on the list. Oyinkan Braithwaite, who was spotlighted in the Festival’s highly respected ‘New Blood’ panel in 2019, has been recognised for her Booker longlisted My Sister the Serial KillerHarriet Tyce is in contention for her electrifying domestic noir Blood Orange that draws on her own experience as a criminal barrister, and Laura Shepherd-Robinson for the deeply atmospheric Blood & Sugar, bringing the 1780s Deptford Docks to life.

Established voices joining the Theakston ranks for the first time include Jane Casey and her latest Maeve Kerrigan instalment Cruel ActsAlex North with his chilling police procedural The Whisper ManLouise Doughtywho is longlisted for the eerily unnerving Platform SevenWill Carver with the mesmerising thriller Nothing Important Happened Today; and Val McDermid’s 2018 New Blood selection: Will Dean and his eagerly awaited follow-up to Dark Pines, the stunning Scandi noirRed Snow

The full longlist for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2020 is:

–          My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Atlantic Books)

–          Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre (Little, Brown Book Group, Abacus)

–          Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver (Orenda Books)

–          Cruel Acts by Jane Casey (HarperCollins, Harper Fiction)

–          Blue Moon by Lee Child (Transworld, Bantam)

–          The Long Call by Ann Cleeves (Pan Macmillan, Macmillan/Pan)

–          Red Snow by Will Dean (Oneworld, Point Blank)

–          Platform Seven by Louise Doughty (Faber & Faber)

–          Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald (Orenda Books)

–          The Lost Man by Jane Harper (Little, Brown Book Group, Little, Brown)

–          Joe Country by Mick Herron (John Murray Press)

–          How the Dead Speak by Val McDermid (Little, Brown Book Group, Little, Brown)

–          The Chain by Adrian McKinty (Orion Publishing Group, Orion Fiction)

–          Conviction by Denise Mina (VINTAGE, Harvill Secker)

–          Smoke and Ashes by Abir Mukherjee (VINTAGE, Harvill Secker)

–          The Whisper Man by Alex North (Penguin Random House, Michael Joseph)

–          Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson (Headline Publishing Group, Wildfire)

–          Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce (Pan Macmillan, Mantle/Pan)

Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said: “Year on year, I’m astounded and delighted by how this exceptional genre continues to excel – we were deluged with record submissions and these 18 impressive titles demonstrate the quality and power of contemporary crime fiction. From the familiar faces to the new voices, we are immensely proud of this year’s longlist and raise a virtual glass of Old Peculier to all the authors, and what will be another fierce contest for this much-wanted award.”

The award is run by Harrogate International Festivals in partnership with T&R Theakston Ltd, WHSmith and the Express, and is open to full length crime novels published in paperback from 1 May 2018 to 30 April 2019 by UK and Irish authors.

The longlist was selected by an academy of crime writing authors, agents, editors, reviewers, members of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Committee, and representatives from T&R Theakston Ltd, the Express, and WHSmith.

The 18 titles will be promoted in a dedicated online campaign from WHSmith, digital promotional materials will be made available for independent bookstores, and the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival’s online community – You’re Booked – will raise a virtual glass to the titles and authors through interviews, features and a variety of further interactive content, as well as giving the opportunity to see a selection of events from the Festival’s extensive archive. This forms part of the Harrogate International Festival virtual season of events, which presents a raft of live music, specially commissioned performances, literary events and interviews to bring a free festival experience to your own digital doorstep.  

The public are now invited to vote for a shortlist of six titles on, which will be announced on 8 June.

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The Princess of Felling describes Elaine’s childhood and adolescence growing up on Tyneside in the 1970s and 1980s. The book pays homage to her home town of Felling on Tyne and is an extended, loving letter to her late parents.

This illustrated poetic memoir features a Foreword by Michael Chaplin, photographs of Felling taken in summer 2018 by Rossena Petcova and unique maps by poet and artist Steve Lancaster.

The book contains reminiscences by Felling folk plus guest appearances by Nick Heyward, David Almond, Tracey Thorn, Sir Kingsley Amis, The Reverend Richard Coles, Lady Elsie Robson, U.A. Fanthorpe, Gyles Brandreth and more.

Reading this was like getting snuggled up on the sofa with a glass of wine with your best friend while they told you tales of their childhood. I really enjoyed listening to the goings on of a small village and the changes that have come about, it felt really relatable as I have always lived in a small village!

You can really feel the authors love for her village shine through this is book and seeing the real pictures of the locations she was talking about.

I was also lucky enough to be sent the prequel which really explained where the name for the second book came from and read as such a lovely fairy tale that I wish it was a children’s book!

Thank you to @annecater and #RandomThingsTours for my #gifted copy in exchange for review

To find out more about the author, pick up a copy of this book!

 You can buy your copy online from Elaine’s publisher

Find out more about Elaine’s writing and forthcoming gigs by visiting, and by liking her Elaine Cusack writer page on Facebook.

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Reality TV turns deadly in Cherry Hinton’s first case

When Kenny Thorpe, a contestant on Expose TV’s Big Blubber, the hot new celebrity weight-loss show, is murdered on live television in front of 3 million viewers, the case seems pretty watertight. After all, everyone saw Barry do it, didn’t they?

Cherry Hinton knows there’s more to this than meets the eye. As an investigative reporter, she went undercover on dating show Caravan of Love… but after getting in too deep with one of the other contestants, she was caught knickerless in front of the nation. Humiliated, fired and heartbroken, she has fled to Brentwood, where she opens a cake shop, and tries to forget all about Expose.

Until Kenny Thorpe s sister walks into her shop with a letter that turns Cherry’s world upside down. Is Barry innocent? How is infamous gangster Leon Solent involved? Is Expose to blame, and is there a killer still on the loose?

Cherry is the only one in a position to find out.

Published by Farrago on the 2nd April 2020, 320 pages


Set in Essex, this is the story of ex journalist/reality tv star, Cherry
Hinton, who has fled to Brentwood and opened a cake shop in order to forget her
past and move on. But when a murder victims sister turns up at her shop
claiming that the person who was imprisoned for the crime might be innocent,
Cherry can’t control her investigative nature and ends up in all sorts of

I really enjoyed this book; it was a light and funny story that I read in
one go. It was a great cosy mystery and I really enjoyed that it was set in the
UK and mentioned locations close to home. I also liked that it made fun of the amount
of reality TV shows we have now.

I will definitely be on the lookout for the next instalment.

Thanks to @farragobooks for my copy and @NBmagazineUK for making me aware of this book!

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Meet the Skelfs: well-known Edinburgh family, proprietors of a long-established funeral-home business, and private investigators…

When patriarch Jim dies, it’s left to his wife Dorothy, daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah to take charge of both businesses, kicking off an unexpected series of events.

Dorothy discovers mysterious payments to another woman, suggesting that Jim wasn’t the husband she thought he was. Hannah’s best friend Mel has vanished from university, and the simple adultery case that Jenny takes on leads to something stranger and far darker than any of them could have imagined.

As the women struggle to come to terms with their grief, and the demands of the business threaten to overwhelm them, secrets from the past emerge, which change everything…

Published by Orenda Books on the 23rd January 2020, 300 Pages.

This is the story, set in Edinburgh, of a family who run a funeral home/detective agency. It is told through the perspectives of three females, the grandmother, the mother and the daughter. I was instantly hooked as I am very close with my mum and nana with my father not being in the picture and my grandad having passed away.

This was darkly comical and fabulously twisty. For me this was like a cozy crime mystery with a punch and I loved it,

The story has a few main story lines which I was concerned would get confusing, but it didn’t at all, and I loved seeing each of the different generations thoughts as the book progressed

I really hope this is going to be a series as I would love to know what the Skelf Ladies get up to next!

Thank you to @OrendaBooks for my #gifted copy in exchange for review.

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First Names Announced for The Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival #TheakstonsCrime #HIF2020


Well, today’s the day! The first special guests have been announced for The Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival for 2020! Now regular readers will know that this is my favourite crime festival and this year I’ll be attending for the 5th year in a row. It has been called The Best Crime Festival in the world and I have to agree! So let me tell you who’s going to be there this year (and one name has got me VERY EXCITED!!)

The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is thrilled to announce its 2020 Special Guests at the world’s largest and most prestigious crime fiction festival.

Crime writing royalty Martina Cole, Mark Billingham, Lisa Gardner, Kathy Reichs, Elly Griffiths, Mick Herron and Michael Connelly will be appearing as part of the killer line-up curated by this year’s Festival Programming Chair and Rebus author, Ian Rankin OBE.

From 23-26…

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Book Spa

22nd November 2019

This week I finally got to go to mt book spa appointment at Mr B’s Book Emporium in Bath (for those of you who don’t know what it is check it out here then come right back and find out what I thought!)

I had an absolutely amazing time at our book spa appointment, Mr.B’s Emporium was just a book haven and and any book lover that walks in will never want to leave!

The appointment started with a discussion on books I had read and enjoyed and then what I didn’t like. I was then brought coffee and cake while the shop assistant went off to pair me with a selection of books. I promptly had a nosy round and found a book I liked the sound of, so snuggled up into one of the arm chairs and began to read whilst enjoying my refreshments! The shop assistant then came back with a tower of books and proceeded to talk through each one with me!! It was incredible and definitely worth the money.
The only trouble was shortening the stack down!! But I am very happy with what I left with!
p.s they also have an American supplier so for my UK book buddies who are desperate for US books/certain book covers give them a call!!

The Flat Share – Beth O’Leary


This is the story of Tiffy, who needs to move out of her ex’s house and Leon, who needs extra cash. As Leon works nights during week then and stays at his girlfriends at the weekends he thinks he has the perfect solution to his money troubles, a flat share, of his one bedroom flat. Tiffy doesn’t have many options with her limited budget so an agreement is made of which hours the flat belongs to each person and they each have a dedicated side of the bed, simple. or not.

I found this a really fresh idea and was super excited when I nabbed a copy from my local library. It did not disappoint. I absolutely loved this book, it made me laugh so much that my husband told me to go and read somewhere else as I was annoying him. Tiffys character was entertaining and delightful and you cant help but warm to Leon! I could read a whole book of just the post it note exchanges between them!

I also really appreciated that topics such as mental health and emotional abuse/blackmail were dealt with and were not just glossed over, making this deeper than an average rom-com.

I can 100% see why it is WHSmith book of the year. Just days after reading this I was one of the lucky ones who got granted their net galley wish of getting the authors second book, The Switch, that’s out next April, as an ARC from the publisher, I cant wait to read it!

The Fall and Rise of Sadie McQueen – Juliet Ashton


This a tale of how friends become family and a lesson on avoiding isolating yourself. It used the life of a woman living/running a business in London to cover a variety of serious topics such as mental health, addiction, bereavement etc whilest still having some light hearted and amusing moments.

Overall I found the story enjoyable and well written but slightly to staged in places – so many slight misunderstandings that cause a ripple!

Would recommend to a friend for a summer read.

Thanks to net galley for the free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Love Secret Santa – S.A Domingo


This was a story of a study intensive young girl who opens herself up to new opportunities when she receives and advent calendar with hidden prompts to do each day.

I really enjoyed the slow build of the young romance and the lovely ideas that the author had about what schools organised over the festive period.

This was a lovely YA Christmas read that I could 100% see as one of those feel good Christmas Netflix films you look forward to watching, well written and definitely put me in the Christmas spirit.

Would recommended to anyone wanting an easy read to escape into over Christmas and I will be buying a copy to give to my bookish friends at Christmas!

Thanks to net galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold – Toshikazu Kawaguchi


This is four short stories (rather than one continuous story, you do see character cross over but they are ultimately separate stories) about people desire to go back to the past. At a little café you get the chance to do so by sitting in a particular chair drinking coffee (while its hot!)

It is a lovely idea and the stories are quick and easy to read but I felt that there was a lot of unnecessary page filler and I’m wondering if this is down to translation.

Thanks to net galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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15th November 2019

This week I’m super excited for the #bookstagramawards short lists to be revealed. One super awesome bookstagrammer decided that the awards that were out there were not representative of the bookstagram community and I have to say I agree, I see hundreds of book posts every day and hardly any of them show what’s nominated in these so called awards. So, she took on the mammoth task of picking categories and then opening the floor to nominations revealed (all nominations are for books published this year) so I have been really exited for these short lists to be revealed.

So far we have had the following categories:


Best Cover

Best Twist

Most Underrated

Best Debut

Head on over and check it out, I would love to hear from you if you have read any of them! I have only read four of them, will put my review for Queenie at the bottom of this weeks blog, the others (My sister is a serial killer, Girl Woman Other and The Silent Patient, can be found in past weeks)

I also started the Goldfinch and Frankly in love this week as part of buddy reads so wish me luck!

The Secrets we Kept – Lara Prescott


I found this book very easy to read and enjoyed the multiple character aspect, including the fact that some chapters were written from the point of view of one character and others from a collective of people voiced as one, i.e ‘the typists’.

I also though liked that it felt fast paced despite being set over such a long period of time.

my only let down is that I felt like it was building to a big twist that never actually emerged! i also which I had read Dr.Z before reading this as i feel like it would have given me more back story.

The Unhoneymooners – Christina Lauren

A truly feel good romance read, from the uplifting and colourful cover to the heart warming interactions between the characters you cannot help but smile.

This is the story of unlucky Olive who has to take her sisters place on her honeymoon when she and her entire wedding party succumb to food poisoning. She also has to go with the grooms brother who has shown complete distain for her from the day they met.

I love how easy I fell into this book and how I found myself starting it thinking, ‘I will only read a few chapters’, to looking up and noticing it was dark outside!

The characters were well developed and the tension that built really well, I loved the snippy dynamic between Olive and Ethan, their interactions constantly bringing a smile to my face.

The only reason I have give this four and not five stars is because of how believable the story line was, I mean I know its a romance and your going to be shouting at me, “what do you expect from a story that starts with an entire wedding getting food poisoning?!” but I found that it took away from my enjoyment just a little. That being said I will definitely be buying more Christina Lauren books.

Scars Like Wings – Erin Stewart

This is the story of how a young girl who survives a house fire that kills her parents and cousin moves on with her life after the fire. I got so involved in the story that I read it in a night.

The story line was easy to follow and the emotions felt real and raw. a very good piece of YA writing that I would recommend to friends. It also opened my eyes as to how we treat people with visual disfigurements and has made me more aware of what approaches are preferred.

Over all a very good piece of YA writing.

Thanks to net galley for the copy in exchange for review

Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams


Follows the story of Queenie and her downward spiral after breaking up from her long term boyfriend.

This story focuses on friendships, mental heath, racism and sexism. It does get very dark in places but is laugh out loud funny in others (mainly the group text conversations with her friends).

Enjoyable very good read although I did feel she went from 0 to full in crazy very fast!