The Resort by Sarah Goodwin #bookreview

Mila and her husband Ethan are on their way to her sister’s wedding at a luxurious ski resort. As they drive through the mountains, surrounded by snow covered forests, Mila feels like everything is finally going to plan.

When the car engine suddenly stops and won’t start again.

Stranded, with night closing in, they make their way on foot back to where they saw a sign for some cabins.

When they finally reach them, they find the windows boarded up and the buildings in disrepair. They have the eerie sense they shouldn’t be there.

With snow falling more heavily, they have no choice but to break into one to spend the night.

In the morning when Mila wakes, Ethan is gone.

Now she is all alone. 

Or is she?

I thoroughly enjoyed Stranded by Sarah Goodwin so was looking forward to reading this! And OMG it was even BETTER than Stranded!! I was up till the early hours of this morning finishing this off as I just couldn’t put it down once I started it.

I actually don’t think I even read the blurb before I started reading as it quickly became obvious that this book wasn’t what I was expecting from the opening few pages. So that dealt me a few shocks from very early on. I was expecting the drama to start when Mila and Ethan arrived at her sisters wedding but it’s actually when they are on their way to the wedding that they become lost and end up in a small, inhabited area with some dilapidated buildings where they can take shelter from the snow and cold. But when Mila awakes the next morning her husband has disappeared. Without proper food and clothing Mila is forced to stay in the creepy cabin especially as she is convinced that there is someone or something out there…watching.

This is such a clever storyline that grips you immediately. I loved the flashbacks as well as the reader is given an insight into the relationship between the two sisters and why Mila is so determined to make her sisters wedding special. But the tension built up by the things that Mila finds whilst looking for Ethan is breathtaking! I thought I knew what was going on but I was pretty far off the mark!

The Resort is a brilliant page turner, gripping and shocking throughout. I absolutely loved it!

Sarah Goodwin is a novelist who grew up in rural Hertfordshire. She was raised on ‘The Good Life’ ‘Anne of Green Gables’ and ‘Little House on the Prairie’ by her parents, who turned a blind eye to her dabbling in herbal medicine, feminism, eco-warrior ideals and witchcraft. They were understandably unsurprised when she developed the lifetime ambition of building a hut in the woods and living there like a soothsayer. 

Her second preferred career, was author.

At Bath Spa University Sarah studied for a BA in Creative Writing and self-published many novels across various genres, including YA magical realism, contemporary women’s fiction, romance and horror.

Sarah graduated in 2014 with an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. After writing several historical novels, she decided to return to her roots and write instead about the wild, the darkness and survival, which led to her coming up with the idea for ‘Stranded’ which would become her first professionally published novel.

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Different Not Less by Chloé Hayden @RandomTTours

A neurodivergent’s guide to embracing your true self and finding your happily ever after
By Chloé Hayden
An empowering guide to celebrating and supporting neurodivergence from Netflix’s Heartbreak High star and disability advocate, Chloé Hayden.
Growing up, Chloé Hayden felt like she’d crash-landed on an alien planet where nothing made sense. Eye contact? Small talk? And why are you people so touch- oriented? None of it made sense.
Chloé desperately wished to be part of the fairytales she so dearly loved. A world in which the lead is considered a hero because of their differences, rather than excluded and pushed aside for them.
She moved between 10 schools in 8 years, struggling to become a person she believed society would accept. After years of being ‘weird, quirky, Chloé’ she was eventually diagnosed with autism and ADHD. It was only after a life-changing group of allies showed her that different did not mean less that she learned to celebrate her true voice and find her happily ever after.
Different, Not Less is a moving, at times funny story of how it feels to be neurodivergent as well as a practical guide, with insights on how autism and ADHD present differently in females, advice for living with meltdowns and shutdowns, tips for finding supportive relationships, communities and workplaces and much more.
Whether you’re neurodivergent or supporting those who are, Different, Not Less will inspire you to create a more inclusive world where everyone feels like they belong.

When I received the invite from Anne Cater for this blog tour I jumped straight away at the chance to take part as I had already preordered the book! Neurodiversity, especially in young adult girls is a subject that I am INCREDIBLY passionate about and to have a book like this published by someone who can give others a personal perspective is a HUGE deal for me. As some of you probably know, ADHD and autism are part of our everyday family life at home and also for me as part of my professional life so I knew I wanted to read and love this book which I am happy to report that I have!

Chloé comes across as such a likeable and empathetic person and it’s hard not to become emotionally involved with her journey so far and often I forgot whilst reading that she’s still only 25 years of age! But she has a maturity beyond her years as she uses her life experience so far to help others with a similar diagnosis to hers and for their friends and family members who want to understand how best to support them. Girls often present with very difficult traits and many of them aren’t the ones you would expect so Chloe goes through all of the symptoms she showed and ones she didn’t but that others may relate to.

Some of the subjects she discussed had trigger warnings attached so you can skip over these parts if you don’t want to trigger yourself, a brilliant idea that many readers will be thankful for. The honesty behind many of the subjects is so important and will be so well appreciated by readers struggling to make sense of their feelings and experiences in a world that doesn’t cater for neurodiversity. I brought the book to help myself and my family understand the world that our family member lives in and when they are a little older they will read it themselves (I’d say it’s suitable for older teens age 14+ due to subjects such as sexual assault but you know your child best ofcourse!)

I found Different Not Less a fascinating and helpful guide for everyone involved in the lives of those living everyday with neurodiversity. It’s funny, heartbreaking but unapologetic in its advice on supporting others to feel like they belong. An important, inspiring and influential insight that was a joy to discover and will hopefully go some way towards helping to create a more inclusive society. Highly recommended.

Chloé Hayden is an award-winning actor and disability advocate, motivational speaker and social media influencer. Whose story of being ‘different, not less’ has attracted a worldwide following. She is currently appearing in Heartbreak High, the Netflix remake of the iconic Australian series

The Engagement by Samantha Hayes #blogtour #bookouture

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Engagement by Samantha Hayes. Many thanks to Bookouture for my review copy of the book.

You thought you had escaped him. Until he proposed to your daughter.

‘There’s someone I want you to meet,’ Belle says, as a man draws up to her side. He’s tall with dark hair and stubble on his square jaw. He’s not exactly smiling, but the corner of his mouth curls upwards as he slides his hand around my daughter’s waist.

I grab my husband’s arm to steady myself, as the room spins around me.

I stare into the man’s eyes – jet black. Nothing and everything hidden behind them.

Fear prickles my skin as I remember what he did.

How I only just escaped.

All the lies I’ve had to tell since.

‘I want you to meet Jack,’ Belle says, brimming with excitement. ‘He’s my fiancé.’ She rests her head on his shoulder. ‘Isn’t it exciting? We’re engaged!’

Fear hammers in my chest. I have to stop this.

My daughter’s life is in danger, and it’s all because of me…

Samantha Hayes is one of my very favourite authors and a new book from her is the highlight of my year! So The Engagement was a highly anticipated book for me and thankfully lived up to my high expectations. Hannah is excited to welcome her daughter Belle back from a trip to France so that the family can celebrate her 18th birthday with her. But Belle brings a surprise of her own back to the UK-her new fiancé, Jack. From the start Hannah is shocked as Jack isn’t who he says he is and Hannah is forced to look back into her past to protect her family from the man she has been hiding from. But what secrets is Hannah hiding and how far will she go to make sure no one finds out? 
Told through two timelines and multiple viewpoints, The Engagement is an absolutely incredible tale of family life broken apart by an interloper who threatens everything Hannah holds dear. The characterisation was brilliant with all the characters inspiring a variety of emotions in me! Belle came across as spoilt and naive whereas Hannah was almost a female Liam Neeson who would do whatever it took to keep her family safe! Nothing would stop her!!
I thought I had everything worked out and to an extent I did but there was such a clever twist at one point that I physically slapped my forehead that I hadn’t seen it coming! Very,VERY clever Ms Hayes!!!! So I absolutely loved The Engagement-it had the wow factor I had been expecting but with added depth that really drew me in. Highly recommended!

Samantha Hayes grew up in a creative family where her love of writing began as a child. Samantha has written eight thrillers in total, including the bestselling Until You’re Mine. The Independent said “fantastically written and very tense” while Good Housekeeping said “Her believable psychological thrillers are completely gripping.” Samantha’s books are published in 22 languages at the last count.

When not writing, Samantha loves to cook, go to the gym, see friends and drink nice wine. She is also studying for a degree in psychotherapy. She has three grown-up children and lives in Warwickshire.

https://www.samanthahayes.co.uk/ https://www.facebook.com/SamanthaHayesAuthor/ https://www.instagram.com/samanthahayes.author/ https://twitter.com/samhayes

Top 20 Reads of 2022

So after doing a top 10 reads of the year in 2021, I have failed to whittle down my favourite books of 2022 and so am back to a top 20! I just couldn’t let any of them go! My Goodreads challenge is nearly complete and I am only 4 books away from my target of 200 so I’m hoping to get those last four read over Christmas now that I’m off work for a couple of weeks.

I’m aware that once again this year I’ve not taken part in many blog tours and my reviews are also down but it’s a good number for me at the moment and I think this will be me until retirement now! But it’s been lovely getting back into the social side of book blogging especially attending book festivals again this year. I have really missed getting together with likeminded readers so here’s to many more in 2023!

And now here is my top 20 recommendations from the books I read in 2022…

And my favourite book of 2022 is End of Story by Louise Swanson. An amazing book that worked on every level for me and left me emotionally exhausted!

So that’s it! I just need to finish by saying thank you to all the authors, publishers, blog tour organisers and bloggers out there who have supported me, becoming good friends in the process, and to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The Vanishing of Margaret Small by Neil Alexander @Tr4cyF3nt0n @neilalexander_ @emblabooks

Meet Margaret Small: 75, plain spoken, Whitstable native and a Cilla Black super fan. Shortly after the death of her idol, Margaret begins receiving sums of money in the post, signed simply ‘C’.

She is convinced it must be Cilla, but how can it be? To solve the mystery of her benefactor Margaret must go back in her memories almost 70 years, to the time when she was ‘vanished’ to a long-stay institution for children with learning disabilities.

An absorbing and page-turning mystery with a dual timeline, The Vanishing of Margaret Small takes readers into a fascinating past, and introduces an unforgettable literary heroine.

Perfect for fans of Libby Page and Gail Honeyman.

Many thanks first of all must go to Tracy Fenton who wrote such an intriguing and captivating review that I knew I just had to read The Vanishing of Margaret Small. Without her, I wouldn’t have discovered one of the most interesting and beautifully written characters I’ve read about in a very long time.

Margaret Small is living in the community after a lifetime of being institutionalised because of her learning disabilities. She has a wonderful carer called Wayne who keeps an eye on her but she has her own routines and many acquaintances as she walks around her home town of Whitstable. I loved following her around the supermarket and other shops plus her trips to eat fish and chips on the seafront. Her lifelong love of Cilla Black is an interesting plot point and Cilla follows her on these trips out via audio as Margaret listens to her CD player. Cilla’s death has hit her hard but shortly after she starts to receive letters and gifts signed “C”. She thinks it’s Cilla but who is the mysterious gift giver and why are they following her from a distance?

I have also been a Cilla fan and loved watching her on tv in the many shows she brought her special brand of star quality to. My mum was often mistaken for Cilla when she was in the 30s and we saw her sing a few times together-she was so charismatic and refreshingly funny. So it was my past that drew me to this book but it was my present that kept me there-making me run a gauntlet of emotions! I veered between anger, frustration, sadness, empathy and shame-ashamed that our country ever treated human beings like they did up until very recently. I work as an SEN TA and an ELSA, making main stream education accessible and inclusive for ALL children so to read about children with disabilities (physical and emotional as well as those having learning difficulties) being sent away by their families to be locked away and out of sight from society one of the most shocking times in our recent history. I’m sure Margaret’s story was repeated many times in real life so I am so thrilled that Neil Alexander created this wonderful, strong woman in his outstanding debut novel and gave her a voice-and a heartbreaking voice it is too…

Using a dual timeline to great effect, we are sent back through time to see how Margaret’s life evolved in an effort to understand what has happened to her and solve the mystery of the letters she is now receiving. It was a tough read at times as the reader is able to interpret what went on around her in a way that she wasn’t able to, so we are able to see how she is treated by others and it isn’t a pleasant experience. But Margaret is who she is and I loved her so much for her kind heart and her innocent soul-I was so scared for her throughout and didn’t want her to be hurt anymore that she had been in the past.

This is a wonderful book that has left a Margaret shaped imprint on my heart. I adored it and her and highly recommend it.

Neil is a graduate of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course, taught by Esther Freud and Tim Lott.

His first book, The Vanishing Of Margaret Small (Embla Books, publishing Oct 2022) tells the story of 75 year-old Margaret. After the death of her idol Cilla Black, she begins receiving sums of money in the post from an unknown sender who simply signs-off as ‘C’. Margaret is convinced they are somehow being sent from Cilla! To solve the mystery, she must go back in her memories almost 70 years, to the time when she was ‘vanished’ to a long-stay institution for children with learning disabilities.

Much of the inspiration for Neil’s first book came directly from the voices of people with a learning disability, and the incredibly moving first person accounts of living in long stay institutions, which he heard while working for Mencap. As the charity’s Artist Liaison Manager, he was instrumental in bringing BBC Radio 2 presenter, Jo Whiley, on board as a brand ambassador (Jo’s older sister, Frances, is disabled). Together, with a small team, they created Little Noise Sessions, an annual series of acoustic gigs held at the Union Chapel, Islington (and later St John at Hackney church), to raise money for the charity. During the festival’s hugely successful 8-year run, Neil worked very closely with Jo to secure acts such as Coldplay, The Killers, Adele, Amy Winehouse, Noel Gallagher and Florence and the Machine. Neil began his career working in health journalism and occasionally still writes for newspapers and magazines. He has also had poems published in Magma, The Interpreter’s House and Southbank Poetry, and in 2013 his pamphlet 9 Blows to the Head was shortlisted for the Pighog Poetry Prize. He is a regular performer at LGBT literary salon Polari at London’s Royal Festival Hall. Neil currently teaches English at a Secondary School in South East London and is working on his second novel, publishing in 2023 by Embla Books.

Homecoming by Isabel Ashdown @Tr4cyF3nt0n

Welcome to The Starlings… sun, sea and neighbours to die for.

Security, a sparkling sea view and the best kind of neighbours – The Starlings gated community has it all. Here, doors are left open, children run free, and at the heart of it all is the entrepreneurial Gold Family, who first dreamed up this aspirational vision of ‘Dorset’s Safest Community’. To the outside world the popular family appears glitteringly blessed… until an idyllic party takes a dark turn and one of their number is found slumped at the foot of the clocktower. Who knows what really happened? And what answers are harboured within the old building, the former Highcap Mother and Baby Home?’

A mesmerising, character-rich thriller with a long-buried secret vibrating at its core: this is Isabel Ashdown at her heart-stopping best, for readers who enjoyed Big Little Lies, Dr Foster or Little Fires Everywhere

Isabel Ashdown is a favourite author of mine and so I was delighted to be asked to be on the blog tour for Homecoming so huge thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me. I always find this authors books to be compelling reads and Homecoming lived up to my expectations by delivering a gripping story set within an idyllic gated community.

The Starlings gated community actually sounds too good to be true. People feel safe from crime and are smugly living their best lives with the right sort of neighbours! But under the surface can anything really be that perfect?

I loved everything about this book! It’s a bit of a slow burner but that gives you time to get to know the residents of The Starlings. And a weird and wonderful bunch they are too! I’m not sure I particularly liked any of them but I was gripped by their lives and what brought them to the supposedly safe environment by the coast. The arrival of a new resident sets in action a domino effect that leads to some nasty revelations about the mother and baby home that used to be on the site.

Isabel Ashdown writes so beautifully that you are immediately transported into her narrative and the mystery of what happened in the mother and baby home and how it relates to the those characters now living on the former site. The incident that everything leads up to is both shocking and unexpected, certainly not the path I thought I was following which was a surprise!

Homecoming is a family drama with a compelling mystery at its heart. I feel like I’ve been waiting a long time for a new Isabel Ashdown and I definitely took my time, savouring every word whilst reading. And it’s definitely made me want to live in the middle of nowhere without one single neighbour anywhere near me!

Homecoming was published by Orion on 24th November 2022.

Isabel Ashdown is the author of eight novels, including her Amazon bestselling thriller LITTLE SISTER and Mail on Sunday Novel Competition Winning debut GLASSHOPPER. Two of her latest novels have been shortlisted in the prestigious Dead Good Reader Awards, and in several translations, her dark family dramas continue to hook readers across the globe. Her latest ‘ingenious thriller’ (Sunday Times), 33 WOMEN, is out now – an Amazon Bestseller within its first month of sale.

Isabel was born in London and grew up on the south coast, where she now lives with her family and their two dogs, Charlie and Leonard. She is a full-time novelist, a Royal Literary Fund associate, and, when lockdown allows, a creative writer tutor and festival speaker. When not writing, Isabel can be found walking the south coast beaches and hills, bingeing a boxset or sewing in the company of a good audiobook.

You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan

Olivia fled her abusive marriage to return to her hometown and take over the family beekeeping business when her son Asher was six. Now, impossibly, her baby is six feet tall and in his last year of high school, a kind, good-looking, popular ice hockey star with a tiny sprite of a new girlfriend.

Lily also knows what it feels like to start over – when she and her mother relocated to New Hampshire it was all about a fresh start. She and Asher couldn’t help falling for each other, and Lily feels happy for the first time. But can she trust him completely?

Then Olivia gets a phone call – Lily is dead, and Asher is arrested on a charge of murder. As the case against him unfolds, she realises he has hidden more than he’s shared with her. And Olivia knows firsthand that the secrets we keep reflect the past we want to leave behind ­­- and that we rarely know the people we love well as we think we do.

I’m not normally a fan of the collaboration novel but I am a Jodi Picoult fan and I was incredibly intrigued by the blurb of Mad Honey so it was a must read. And I’m so glad that I didn’t overlook it just because of my fussiness!! Mad Honey is an absolutely amazing book that I can highly recommend!

One thing I will say is to not read any spoilers about the plot because I did and I wish I hadn’t! So all I will say about the plot is that it is superbly executed and beautifully written with attention to detail that shows the authors have done their research and have confidently applied it to their narrative. The characters are relatable and richly crafted-Olivia was my favourite and I found myself becoming totally immersed in her life as a parent and a beekeeper.

I didn’t really know much about bees or beekeeping before I read Mad Honey but I certainly do now! The descriptions of Olivia’s interactions with her bees and the challenges she faced were fascinating and I learned so much. But Olivia faces an even bigger challenge when her son is accused of murdering his girlfriend and it was this part of the story that really broke my heart.

Heartbreaking, thought provoking and relevant-I absolutely adored Mad Honey and know it’s a book I will return to in the future.

Mad Honey was published on 15th November 2022 by Hodder & Stoughton.

Jodi Picoult is the author of 25 novels, with 40 million copies sold worldwide. Her last twelve books have debuted at #1 on the New York Timesbestseller list, including her most recent, THE BOOK OF TWO WAYS. Five novels have been made into movies and BETWEEN THE LINES (co-written with daughter Samantha van Leer) has been adapted as a musical. She is the recipient of multiple awards, including the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction, the Alex Award from the YA Library Services Association, and the NH Literary Award for Outstanding Literary Merit. She is also the co-librettist for the musical BREATHE, and the upcoming musical THE BOOK THIEF. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband.

Jennifer Finney Boylan is the author of numerous works of fiction and non fiction, including the seminal She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders (2003), which was the first bestselling work by a transgender American. She is a trans activist and a professor at Barnard College, and has appeared on reality TV shows and various US media in support of her friend Caitlyn Jenner. Her most recent book is the memoir Good Boy: A Life in 7 Dogs, published April 20 by Celadon/Macmillan US.

The Judas Tree by Amanda Jennings

Childhood betrayal casts a long shadow…

From the author of The Haven and The Cliff House, this is a devastating thriller set in a Cornish boarding school.

‘A gripping page-turner’ Tammy Cohen, author of The Wedding Party

At a bleak boys’ boarding school in Cornwall in the eighties when bullying is rife, Will and his best friend, Luke, are involved in a horrific incident that results in Luke leaving.

Twenty-five years later their paths cross again and memories of a painful childhood come flooding back to haunt them both.

Will’s wife, Harmony, is struggling after a miscarriage that has hit her hard, and wishes Will would open up about what happened. But as Will withdraws further, she finds herself drawn to the charismatic stranger from her husband’s past, Luke, and soon all three are caught in a tangled web of guilt and desire . . .

From Amanda Jennings, author of The Cliff House, comes a haunting thriller about betrayal and revenge.

I’m a really big Amanda Jennings fan and I absolutely adore everything she writes! She always makes me run a gauntlet of emotions with her beautifully written novels so I was really looking forward to reading The Judas Tree which I had previously read under its original title of The Judas Scar back in 2014…or so I thought!! I have it marked as “read” over on Goodreads but it became apparent to me after just a few pages that I had NEVER read this book before! On one hand I’m furious with myself for missing out on a book I thought I had already read but being Miss Positive (as always!) I was just so glad that I finally had a chance to read one of the best books I’ve read this year! Yes, The Judas Tree will definitely be appearing in my Best Books of 2022 list-I adored every single page of this heartbreaking and tragic story.

At the heart of The Judas Tree is an event that happened during Will’s time at his boarding school in Cornwall. The reader isn’t told exactly what has happened to begin with but we are aware that it affected him badly alongside his best friend Luke. Will is now married to Harmony and hasn’t seen Luke since school…until he turns up one day at a social event they are both attending. This chance meeting acts as a catalyst for a shocking revelation that will ultimately affect both men but in very different ways.

This is a slow burning, character driven storyline that inspired many conflicting emotions in me. Harmony was probably the character I related to the most so I did find myself getting both frustrated and annoyed by some of the actions that she took. Her reaction to her miscarriage and the ensuring problems communicating with Will felt so realistic that I often felt as though I was invading their privacy, listening to a conversation that wasn’t meant for me to hear. I could understand why her relationship was struggling because of the information I knew about Will that she didn’t and I really wanted to shake them both and make them see the error of their ways! But I also understood Will and why he hadn’t opened up to the most important person in his life about the event that was now returning to cause difficulties in their lives. And then there was Luke and he was the character that I really wanted to hate but I just couldn’t-instead my empathy for him overtook any other emotions I had and all I could think about was teenage Luke and I cried for the boys that he and Will used to be.

I just didn’t want The Judas Tree to end. Probably because I was too scared of how it WOULD or COULD end! So it became a book that I read slower and slower, savouring every word and letting them fill me with a succession of emotions-apprehension, fear, sadness and anger. Honestly I really was an emotional wreck by the time I finished the last page! I’m so glad this book is getting another chance to be read by more readers and I can highly recommend it!

The Judas Tree is published tomorrow 24th November 2022 by HQ.

Amanda Jennings has written six novels, and numerous short stories for anthologies and magazines, and is published both in the UK and abroad. She is a contributor to BBC Radio Berkshire and a long-standing judge for the Henley Youth Festival literary competition, has taught writing workshops, and enjoys appearing at literary festivals. Before becoming an author, Amanda worked at the BBC as a researcher, and studied History of Art at Cambridge University. She lives in a cottage in the middle of the woods in Oxfordshire with her family and a varied assortment of animals.

Permission by Jo Bloom

Can your marriage survive if you’re both sleeping with other people?

After more than 20 years of marriage, Fay and Steve are happy enough, though life’s become routine and lacks excitement. Fay believes an open relationship could reignite the spark they’ve lost. But can sex ever just be sex?

Steve eventually agrees to the idea of sleeping with other people, but first they must set some ground rules; no sex with friends, no telling the kids, and a limit on how many times they can see the same person. Can their marriage survive non-monogamy – even if they have permission?

Permission is a contemporary novel that had such an intriguing storyline I knew that it was a book I needed to read! I find books about marriage, relationships and family life completely fascinating and in Permission there are so many different themes appropriate to modern day relationships. As the reader becomes more involved in the intricate details of an open marriage, not everybody will have the same opinions about how the characters react and judgements will be made (and sometimes reversed!) but I don’t think anyone will be able to predict their own feelings about what happens to Kay and Steve…

As with many marriages, it always seems to be one partner who makes the decision to enter an open relationship and one partner who goes along with it for usually for many other reasons but NOT because they want an open marriage! And here it’s Kay who wants to try something new whilst Steve agrees to go along with it to keep Kay happy. They are very adult and business-like about it , setting up ground rules so that no one will get hurt that way…or will they? A no strings affair without feelings attached is the ideal isn’t it but Steve struggles to raise much enthusiasm about a sex only relationship with another woman. Whereas Kay fully embraces her new role, Steve is left coping with the fallout at home and it becomes clear that their arrangement isn’t just affecting them…

This is a character driven domestic drama that will probably divide its readers but for me personally, Kay was an incredibly unsympathetic character whereas Steve maintained the dignity within their home life. This could be because of my own feelings about infidelity but I felt that I knew from the start that what Kay was suggesting was far more than an “adventure” and so the author very cleverly lets her actions speak for themselves. The underlying issues that led to this couple making such a decision are gradually revealed leading to some very emotional confrontations.

Permission is a beautifully written book that may divide its readers depending on their own views about the sanctity of marriage and how it needs both parties on the same page to even attempt the things described here. But the author has used the premise to create a believable storyline with characters you will either love or hate but who will burrow their way into your heart anyway.

Highly recommended by me.

Permission was published by Legend Press on 28th July 2022.

Jo’s debut novel, Ridley Road, was published in 2014 and adapted into a major four-part series for BBC One in 2021. Jo has worked as a freelancer in the communications field for over twenty years, with a focus on arts publicity and e-learning. She also contributed to the book review section of Time Out, London for a few years. Prior to this, she lived and worked in Prague and New York. She now lives in Brighton with her family. Permission is Jo’s first contemporary novel.

The App by Stuart James Spotlight on New Release

The App…

Once you’re in, they’ll never let you leave. 

Whatever happens, don’t download The App. 

* It will come in the form of a link. Maybe in your DM’s on a social media account, the junk folder of your emails or a WhatsApp message from a friend.

* You’ll be enticed by the chance of winning one hundred thousand pounds on offer every Friday, wired straight into the winner’s bank account.

* It’s not a joke.

* This part is genuine.

* Someone can and will win the money.

* But at what cost?

Marty Benson gets the link sent to him by a friend. So what is the harm in looking?
He clicks it, downloads the app and enters a few basic details.
A message prompts him to wait while he’s loaded onto the system.
An hour later, another message.

• Do not delete the app.

• Do not tell anyone outside of your family about the app.

• Send the link to one person who is close to you.

* Do not throw your phone away. 

* Always narrate while streaming. 

• If you break any of the rules, we’ll kill a member of your family. Then we’ll kill you.

Marty is sent a picture of his wife, who is shopping with her mother in Oxford Street.As Marty struggles to breathe, he clicks the links and watches the most recent streams, realising what happens within the
app.

Every Friday morning, a person is randomly picked from social media.

They now have a bounty on their head—a death warrant. But they don’t know it.

Their profile appears on the app’s main page; all their details are displayed.

Every app member must play the game at least once a month or face the consequences.

Kill the person randomly selected from social media.

Win one hundred thousand pounds.

As Marty watches the terror unfold and everyone streaming the hunt within the app, he realises he has to do something.

But how do you stop a murder, when everyone could be the killer?

I have always loved scary stories, especially ones that shocked me, left me terrified, looking under my bed or in the wardrobe before going to sleep.

There was just a fantastic buzz whenever I watched or read something that took my breathe away.

I remember going to my nan’s house in Ireland as a youngster with my mother and sister, on the West Coast, staying in a cottage, surrounded by miles of fields and my family sitting around the table in the kitchen at night telling ghost stories. Going out and exploring derelict farmhouses in the middle of nowhere. I remember clearly the field at the end of the road was supposed to be haunted by headless nuns. My cousins often remind me of the great times we had, frightening each other and running for our lives whenever we’d see something that didn’t look right.

This is why I love nothing more than to tell a story.

I’m so grateful when people not only read my thrillers but also take the time to get in touch and leave a review. To me, that is the greatest feeling, hearing from people that have enjoyed my work. I know then that I’m doing something right.

I’m 49, married and have two beautiful children. Currently, I’m a full-time plumber but would love nothing more than to make a living from my writing. I hope I write stories and people continue to enjoy them for years to come. That would be completely amazing and a dream come true.