Remember My Name by Sam Blake #remembermyname @RandomTTours

If she’d turned off her phone, instead of listening in, perhaps no one would have died…

When Cressida Howard catches her entrepreneur husband playing away from home, she hires security expert BrioniO’Brien to get the evidence she needs for a speedy and financially rewarding divorce.

But what Brioni uncovers goes beyond simple infidelity. Because Laurence Howard is also in bed with some very dangerous people. Bribery and blackmail are the least of his worries as someone comes after the women in his life – someone who is out to destroy Laurence and his empire, whatever the cost.

And Cressida and her teenage daughter could soon be collateral damage, if she and Brioni don’t act fast.

Well they say eavesdroppers never hear good of themselves but when Cressida accidentally overheard her husband talking to another woman, she acts like any other woman scorned and vows to divorce him and then take him for everything he has! Enlisting the help of security expert Brioni, she tries to find out every single detail of his infidelity as forewarned is always forearmed! But Brioni unravels much more than affair and her discoveries will put them all in danger…

What I love about Sam Blake’s books are her settings and sense of place as I always feel very at home within the pages of her thrillers! Cressida is my kind of heroine too-determined and strong enough to cope with the revelations that come from her and Brioni’s investigation. In fact, all the female characters here are very vividly described, purposeful and strong willed with an unwavering desire for the truth. Laurence Howard was such a selfish and greedy character that I just wanted to grab him by the shoulders and ask what the hell he was playing at, putting his wife and daughter at risk with his dodgy dealings! I got so annoyed with him!! I just love it when I feel such strong emotions about fictional characters!

Remember My Name is a gripping thriller and I devoured it in one sitting. It’s fast paced and great fun to read so if you’ve not read anything by Sam Blake before make sure you give this a go.

Sam Blake has been writing fiction since her husband set sail across the Atlantic for eight weeks and she had an idea for a book. Her debut novel, Little Bones, was No 1 in Ireland for four weeks, and was nominated for Irish Crime Novel of the Year. Her standalone psychological thriller, Keep Your Eyes On Me, went straight to No 1 and its follow-up, The Dark Room was an Eason Ireland No 1 for three weeks. Sam is originally from St. Albans in Hertfordshire but has lived at the foot of the Wicklow mountains for more years than she lived in the UK.

Follow her on social @samblakebooks. Visit for news and events and get a bonus free short story in audio & text when you subscribe to her newsletter.

Unfaithful by J.L. Butler #unfaithful @RandomTTours @tasminaperry

The gripping, sexy new thriller from bestselling author. Welcome to your new obsession….
Rachel Reeves has it all. The perfect family, a rich husband, and a gorgeous home. But when her only child flies the nest, Rachel feels lost – and succumbs to a mind-blowing one-night stand.
Instantly regretting her infidelity, Rachel cuts ties with Chris. But he won’t let her go that easily. She erases him from her life – until a text changes everything.
Someone knows what she did.
And they’re ready to destroy her entire life because of it.

Well, if you’re too young to have been put off having a passionate one night stand by the film “Fatal Attraction” don’t worry, because reading Unfaithful will definitely have the same effect! This is a gripping thriller but with an underlying warning not to put yourself in the same position as mum and wife Rachel! When Rachel’s daughter goes off to university and her husbands puts his job above Rachel and the needs of their family, she struggles with her “empty nest”. Feeling lost, she decides to go back to work in publishing where she was once a renowned success but a one night stand with an old flame could threaten everything she holds dear…

Unfaithful is a fabulously raunchy thriller where nothing is as it seems. I loved the character of Rachel-an intelligent woman who wants more now that she has an empty nest and not just be a caregiver for her family and her elderly neighbours. But when she makes a major error of judgment, she instantly regrets the decisions she has made. I didn’t judge her for her mistakes (she did a good enough job of that herself!) and could see that she was just seeking something she felt was missing in her life. But, as often happens in these cases, secrets are made to be discovered and when she starts getting anonymous messages her life starts to get very complicated indeed!

Although I’ve always been a fan of Tasmina Perry, her J.L. Butler books are much more my cup of tea and I really enjoy the darker side of her writing. I love older women in fiction as I find them so much more interesting with a confidence than younger women are still growing into. Rachel felt very authentic, she could be anyone of us, but with an edge that could make her unlikeable so I was desperately trying to work out who was trying to bring her down and why. I had my hunch which did turn out to be right but not for the reasons I had thought.

A gripping page turner from start to finish!

J.L. Butler trained as a lawyer and journalist. J.L. Butler is the pseudonym for international and Sunday Times bestseller, Tasmina Perry. Her books have been translated into seventeen languages and sold over two million copies worldwide.

The Couple at the Table by Sophie Hannah #blogtour #bookreview #thecoupleatthetable @JennyPlatt90

You’re on your honeymoon at an exclusive couples-only resort.
You receive a note warning you to ‘Beware of the couple at the table nearest to yours’. At dinner that night, five other couples are present, and none of their tables is any nearer or further away than any of the others. It’s as if someone has set the scene in order to make the warning note meaningless – but why would anyone do that?
You have no idea.
You also don’t know that you’re about to be murdered, or that once you’re dead, all the evidence will suggest that no one there that night could possibly have committed the crime. So who might be trying to warn you? And who might be about to commit the perfect impossible murder?

I’ve been a huge Sophie Hannah fan ever since Little Face, the first book in the Culver Valley series. So I was thrilled to find that this latest book by one of my favourite authors is another Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer book! But don’t worry if you haven’t read any others in the series and this can be read a stand-alone novel. And not only do Simon and Charlie play a part in the mystery, we also get to meet other previous players and it was so good to return to their lives and personal dramas but without them overpowering the practically impossible mystery at the heart of The Couple at the Table.

What I love about Sophie Hannah’s writing is that she makes the impossible possible! She’s the one author that always outsmarts me as I never guess her twists or endings! And so once again I went into The Couple at The Table with an open mind which was just as well as this is a mystery with no possible solution! In an exclusive resort a woman receives and anonymous note telling her to “Beware of the couple at the table nearest to yours”. But that night, all the tables are equidistant from her so who is she to be careful of but more importantly…why?! Well, we find out quite quickly that she did have something to fear but when she is killed and no one there could possibly have been involved it’s up to Simon and Charlie to investigate further.

This was a twisty thriller, full of red herrings to throw the reader off the scent of what was really going on. I thought I had guessed but as usual I was way off! But I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it! Some intriguing and very unlikeable characters mean that you don’t always have a lot of sympathy for them but that’s life isn’t it?! And Sophie Hannah has a talent for twisting every storyline until the reader is exasperated with themselves for missing all the clues. Lovely to have another addition to this series, and although it’s not one of my favourites, it was still a great read.

SOPHIE HANNAH is an internationally bestselling crime fiction writer. Her psychological thriller The Carrier won the Specsavers National Book Award for Crime Thriller of the Year in 2013. Sophie is the author of the bestselling Poirot continuation mysteries. The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives have been adapted for television as Case Sensitive, starring Olivia Williams and Darren Boyd. Sophie is also a bestselling poet who has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot award. Her poetry is studied at GCSE and A-level. Sophie is an Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. She lives in Cambridge with her family.

Left For Dead by Joy Kluver @bookouture

The detective stared at the young woman lying on the bed. She almost looked peaceful, her face like porcelain. Despite everything she had been through, she was still beautiful.

When DI Bernie Noel hurries to Keira Howard’s hospital bedside, she knows that Keira has been lucky. Barely conscious and badly injured, at least she is alive. Convinced that Keira’s attack is the latest in a string of increasingly violent assaults on young women in the area, the next victim might not be so fortunate. So she vows to find the man who did this, and to stop him before anyone else gets hurt.

Spurring her team into action, she quickly hones in on a prime suspect. But then he suddenly dies while on police watch, and Bernie’s investigation goes into freefall. When Bernie’s superiors won’t let her take the case any further, her gut instinct tells her there’s much more to his death than meets the eye. If it was murder, who would want him dead, and why? So she determines to set out on her own to find out what happened.

But the closer Bernie comes to discovering the truth, the more she is putting her own life in danger. And with Keira finally strong enough to talk her about her attack, Bernie worries she may be at risk yet again. There’s someone out there who has killed to stay safe in the shadows; can Bernie stop another senseless death, and save Keira, before it’s too late?

An utterly compelling crime thriller full of twists and suspense, perfect for fans of Val McDermid, Angela Marsons and Cara Hunter.

Left For Dead was the perfect book to keep me during during my recent (and ongoing!) self isolating due to Covid. My concentration levels haven’t been great so I needed a book that would really grab me and this series by Joy Kluver is one of the best crime series out there at the moment! Honestly, it’s absolutely brilliant-gripping, current and with a protagonist that is crying out to be transferred to the small screen. I really hope that this series is picked up for tv as I think Bernie Noel deserves a wider audience.

This is the third instalment of the DI Bernadette Noel series and every book is an absolute pleasure to read. I love seeing how Bernie’s personal life progresses from book to book but there’s also a very distressing crime for her to solve in Left For Dead. As the title suggests, a girl has been attacked and her life is hanging by a thread so Bernie is brought in to solve the case. She’s also helped by a character I became very fond of due to…well, I don’t want to explain further but I will say that their personal circumstances were perfectly described by the author and I loved the fact that they featured in this investigation (hopefully raising awareness of inclusiveness in the police force too). In fact, characterisation is one of the authors strengths in these books as I became really involved in the lives of all the characters who appear in these books. They are brought to life with just a few choice phrases and that’s one of the main reasons I love these books. Crime novels really have to stand out for me to keep me following a series and very few make the cut due to protagonists not being engaging or intriguing enough for me to stay with them but Bernie Noel always hits the spot and I love catching up with her.

Left For Dead kept me thoroughly entertained and on edge the whole time I was reading it. There were plenty of unexpected twists and turns to keep me engrossed and not get too complacent about finding out who had attacked Kiera or why. I can highly recommend it as a stand alone but feel you’d get even more from it if you’ve read the first two books in the series. And fingers crossed for book 4 and a tv adaptation in the future!

Joy Kluver has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. More recently she’s been escaping the madness of motherhood by turning her hand to crime novels. A book blogger, she’s also part of the First Monday Crime team and if you’ve been to any of their events it’s likely you’ve eaten one of her cookies. She also organises author talks for her local library. Joy lives in SW London with her husband and three children. ‘Last Seen’ is her debut novel and the first book in the DI Bernadette Noel series.

Joy is represented by Anne Williams at the Kate Horden Literary Agency

The Girl From Paris by Ella Carey @bookouture

I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for The Girl From Paris by Ella Carey today and being able to share a fabulous piece written by her with some background on a special dress in chapter one…

Vianne rushes through the crowded streets of Paris as the German bombs begin to fall. As she rounds the corner she sees the familiar spires of the old church burst into flames. Too late, she realizes that her mother and sister are trapped inside…

Paris, 1918. The end of war is in sight, and young seamstress Vianne Mercier is longing for the day when she can stop sewing military uniforms and start creating the beautiful dresses that she has been dreaming up in her head.

But just when it seems like peace is within reach, Vianne’s mother and sister are killed in a terrible air raid. To make matters worse, Vianne’s brother has returned home a changed man. Controlling and cruel, he presents Vianne with an ultimatum; give up her dreams of becoming a designer, or be forced onto the streets, penniless and alone.

With nothing left for her in Paris but sad memories, she decides to sail for New York. Determined not to look back, she throws herself into her new life—spending her days sewing dresses for wealthy Upper East Side women, and her evenings dancing the Charleston to Duke Ellington in the new downtown clubs. When Vianne meets handsome Italian Giorgio Conti, he encourages her career, and she feels safe for the first time since she lost her family.

Then news of a terrible accident compels Vianne to suddenly return to France, where she discovers proof of a wartime secret that changes everything she thought she knew about her family. Facing the threat of sickness and ruin, the people who forced Vianne out of her home now suddenly need her help.

Will Vianne find the courage to follow her heart, return to New York and her life with Giorgio? Or will duty bind her to the family she had left behind and force her to remain in France?

From Amazon Charts bestseller Ella Carey comes an utterly gripping and emotional historical wartime novel about the terrible choices people made during humanity’s darkest days. Fans of Fiona Valpy, Rhys Bowen and The Nightingale will adore this novel.

One of the loveliest things about writing The Girl from Pariswas the opportunity to do the most indulgent research into an area I’ve long loved- 1920’s fashion. I’ve always adored the way that dresses from that era are so simply designed, yet they feature some of the most exquisite detail you can imagine. It’s all in the detail with this era, and that’s also something I love.

In the opening of the book, Vianne, my lead character, is a young woman living with her family in their wildly beautiful apartment in Paris’ Marais district. The Marais district is one of my favourite areas of Paris, and Vianne lives right around the corner from the seventeenth century Places des Vosges, one of the most charming squares in all of Paris. Vianne’s father, Gabriel Mercier, owns an antique store called Celine, nearby. Gabriel loves to lose himself in his rarefied, poetic world, and in the same way, Vianne has a passion for sketching and designing her own dreamy garments as an antidote to the endless knitting of balaclavas that she carries out in order to support the French army in the Great War.

Vianne dreams of becoming a fashion designer one day. She has huge admiration for Paris’ leading designers, Gabrielle Chanel and Jeanne Paquin. Eventually, Vianne leaves Paris for fabulous 1920’s New York, where she is swept up into the enticing, exciting Jazz Age, working as a junior designer for a couturier on the Upper East Side.

Vianne designs many dresses throughout the course of the book, and each dress, while Vianne’s original work is inspired by a real garment, that I carefully researched. While I can’t share photos of the garments, I’d love to share a little background information behind one of the very special dresses in the first chapter of the book.

In the opening scene of the book, Vianne is sitting around a long wooden table in the once glamorous Belle Époque restaurant, La Violette. It’s March, 1918, and she’s knitted her way through the war, warm gloves, balaclavas, and socks for the French soldiers in the stinking cesspools that were the trenches of Northern France. For the last hour of her day, Vianne, who has finished her daily quota of knitting, is fixing the tiny rents in an evocative, early twentieth century summer dress owned by her beautiful Maman, who features strongly in the book. 

The dress, which captured my heart the moment I laid eyes on the real inspiration, is entirely handmade in frail lace and cotton lawn. It features tiny flowers ‘crocheted,’ in cotton and lace, using an insertion method, where the cotton lawn fabric base is carefully trimmed away and is replaced by lace and crochet in zig-zag patterns. The effect is so light, and delicate, that it’s almost ephemeral. The shape of the skirt is A-lined, falling to the ground with a small train. The skirt features rows of tiny pintucks. The dress is all white, and these miniature patterns were extremely fashionable in the early 1900’s, with the fashionable focus on attention to detail. The bodice is modishly bloused with larger clusters of hand crocheted flowers, and a deep V neck, and the elbow length sleeves feature lace edges and tiny pin tucks.

This dress was probably acquired by Vianne’s Maman, Marie-Laure, around 1907, when ethereal muslins and dainty laces were the mode du jour in London and Paris. While the dresses were soft and moveable, they were held in place by rigid corseting beneath the frothy lace.

The dress that inspired the one in the book was given to the Victoria and Albert Museum by the Baron Charles de Menasce. I fell in love with this exquisite garment the moment I lay eyes on its delicate details. I can only imagine what it must have been like to sit on a soft blanket under willow trees by a riverbank on a gentle summer’s afternoon, enjoying a glass of champagne, with perhaps a white parasol to match. Days gone by, never to be seen again, only, perhaps, between the pages of a book…

Ella Carey is the USA Today and Amazon charts bestselling author of eight novels of historical fiction, including the Secrets of Paris Series, published with Hachette imprint, Bookouture. Ella’s novels have reached over one million readers and have been translated into fourteen languages. Ella has recently signed a six book deal in Germany and a nine book deal in Denmark. Ella’s latest novels are A New York Secret, and The Lost Girl of Berlin, both published with Bookouture in 2021. The Girl from Paris is the third novel in this new series, and will publish in January, 2022. Ella has a music degree in classical piano, and an arts degree majoring in English and history. Her novels have been shortlisted for ARRA awards.

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

Chloe Davis’ father is a serial killer.
He was convicted and jailed when she was twelve but the bodies of the girls were never found, seemingly lost in the surrounding Louisiana swamps. The case became notorious and Chloe’s family was destroyed.

His crimes stalk her like a shadow.
Now Chloe has rebuilt her life. She’s a respected psychologist in Baton Rouge and has a loving fiancé.
But she just can’t shake a tick-tick-tick of paranoia that, at any moment, it might all come crashing down.

As does something darker.
It is the anniversary of her father’s crimes, and Chloe is about to see her worst fears come true –
a girl she knows goes missing.  

The nightmare has started again…

Wow,’well this debut novel has the “x factor”, whatever that magic ingredient is, that makes a book a completely addictive and enjoyable read!  It’s the first book I’ve read this year and it’s great to be able to give it a 5 star rating! 

Chloe is a psychologist living happily in Baton Rouge with her fiancé Daniel. But she has a disturbing past-her father is a serial killer of young girls whose bodies have never been recovered. In the lead up to her wedding, young girls start to go missing but they seem to have some sort of connection to Chloe. Why is this now happening again and is Chloe going to get involved in the investigation or leave it to the local police? Well ofcourse it wouldn’t be the book it is if Chloe just continues with her life instead of digging around in the past! I really liked Chloe as a character! She was flawed, self destructive and reckless but she was also a strong minded and unflinching in her search for the truth. I was mentally cheering her on the whole way and I found the ending to be the perfect denouement!

I read this book from cover to cover in one day, it grabbed my attention from the very first page and I didn’t want it to end. Highly recommended by me!

A Flicker in The Dark is published on 3rd February 2022 in ebook and Hardback by Harper Collins.

Stacy Willingham’s first novel, A Flicker in the Dark, is scheduled to be published in January 2022 by Minotaur Books, an imprint of Macmillan, and HarperCollins UK.

Prior to writing fiction full time, Stacy worked as a copywriter and brand strategist for various marketing agencies. She earned her BA in Magazine Journalism from the University of Georgia and MFA in Writing from the Savannah College of Art & Design.

She currently lives in Charleston, South Carolina, with her husband, Britt, and her Labradoodle, Mako.

My Top 10 books of 2021

So this is my last post of 2021 where I share my favourite books of the past year! I’m thrilled to have been sent some great books this year by authors and publishers but I am aware that I’ve not posted on here or even read as much as I have done in previous years so I do apologise. This has been due to a combination of things as my job has been full on this past 12 months plus I’ve had some health issues that meant I had to have surgery. Thankfully, I now have the all clear after the biopsies I had all come back negative which is a weight off my mind! But I’ve also had to cope with some mental health problems caused by coming off my HRT as it wasn’t until I was forced to stop taking it that I realised just how much it has been helping me these past few years. It’s been a real struggle so I took the decision to cut down on blog tours for a while and I also gave up one of my three jobs in school as I realised I needed to put myself and my family first and being exhausted wasn’t doing any of us any good!

Anyway, enough about me and back to the books!! I failed miserably in my Goodreads challenge of 200 books so I may need to rethink my target for next year! But I have still managed to read lots of books in 2021 and most of them have been absolutely amazing but I’ve chosen my top 10 favourites and those are the ones I’m going to share with you today-they aren’t in any particular order as they are all brilliant and all come highly recommended!

So I was flicking through Instagram on Saturday morning and I saw an ad for this book as it was on special offer at 99p. I followed the link and it seemed like my kind of book so I bought it and started straight away as I was just chilling on the sofa after my staff night out the night before! Well, I ended up reading it in the hairdressers chair in the afternoon, the queue for the chippy in the evening and in bed that night-not going to sleep until I reached the very last page. It’s not often I get so excited over a debut novel I had taken a chance on but The Girl Upstairs is fantastic! It’s just so beautifully written with a central character you are never quite sure about and another that is unraveled so carefully it was like unwrapping a delicate and fragile present. 

Suzie lives in a ground floor flat underneath Emily, a young woman in her early twenties. Emily is portrayed as a selfish neighbour-noisy and uncaring of those around her-but as we find out more about Suzie we come to realise that she is judging her actions without knowing much about her even though she appears to know EVERYTHING! But the devil is in the detail here and it’s not until Emily goes missing that the overheard lifestyle of the girl upstairs becomes a significant part of who she is but why she has suddenly vanished? Suzie is obsessed with finding out, so obsessed that there is obviously something in her own past that demands she investigates Emily’s disappearance herself when the police don’t seem very interested in helping…

I absolutely loved this book! It’s not fast paced or action packed but it creates a wonderfully atmospheric flow throughout the slowly revealed plot. It played with my emotions too as I realised I had misjudged some characters early on and the revelations when they came weren’t the ones I was expecting so I felt that element of shock as the shattering truths were uncovered. It’s a book I didn’t want to end and when it did, I felt momentarily bereft as though I had lost someone very close to me and I wanted to know where they are now and what they are doing! And, for me, that’s the sign of a brilliantly created fictional storyline-one that felt real and engaging throughout. 

A highly recommended 5 star read for me! 

The Girl Upstairs was published on 9th December by One More Chapter.

Oh my Goodness I feel like I’ve been thrown around in my tumble dryer for the last 3 hours!! Casey Kelleher second psychological thriller is heartstopping read full of twists and turns and I was glued to my sofa all afternoon reading it! It’s one of those books that you race through because you’re desperate to know what happens but as you near the end, you slow down as you now don’t want it to end! I had no idea when I started I’ll Never Tell just how gripped I would become by this brilliant book but by the end of it I knew that this is the authors best book so far! 

When Alessia starts receiving threatening notes and gifts, she knows straight away who they are from and why she’s getting them because many years ago Alessia and her friend did a bad thing…and that’s all you probably need to know about the plot of I’ll Never Tell because I am also NOT TELLING!! This book took me on an emotional and shocking journey with some mind blowing revelations as the narrative took me to places that I hadn’t been expecting to visit. Alessia was a complex character creation, perfectly crafted with a disturbing backstory that didn’t seem to want to leave her alone. As the ending approached I truly didn’t know what to believe until all the threads perfectly knitted together to give a stunning finale to Alessia’s story. 

A brilliant 5 star psychological thriller that is one of my December #hotbooks and I can highly recommend it.

I’ll Never Tell came out on 3rd December and is published by Bookouture.

I’ve read Gemma’s books before and I love her twisty, turny plots packed full of shocking revelations. Our Little Lies is co-written with Joe Cawley but thankfully it’s a seamless partnership that has produced a great psychological thriller that grabbed me from the very first page! 

At the start of Our Little Lies, we know that something terrible has happened but we aren’t quite sure what or why. Grace and Justin have a lot of history but what has happened to them both to get to this point? We find out that two years previously Justin disappeared from Grace’s life the very day she finally found out she was pregnant with their much longed for baby. And now he’s back on the scene but he still refuses to explain why. Unfortunately, he’s not the only one with secrets…

There are some really shocking twists in Our Little Lies and they aren’t all at the end of the book either! And because of where it’s placed, I think the first twist really does an absolutely brilliant job of letting the reader know that this narrative may not be the most reliable source of information about Justin and Grace! After the first time of literally picking myself off the floor, the shocks just kept on coming! The authors have crafted such a clever and unique storyline with characters that aren’t always likeable and possibly don’t always make the best decisions but where would the fun be in that! 

It’s not often that I’m left completely speechless by a book-I read so many that not much surprises me in the world of psychological thrillers-but I have to admit that I was left gobsmacked by the ending of Our Little Lies. But it was just the perfect end to this brilliant, breathtaking storyline told by fresh and exciting new voices. I hope Gemma and Joe collaborate again in the future as they have complimented each others perfectly with their debut, delivering a gripping storyline from start to finish. 

Highly recommended by me!

Lisa Jewell has delivered one of her best books EVER here, with an emotionally twisty psychological thriller that didn’t leave my hands from start to finish! It was a stunning read that slowly unraveled its beautifully written secrets with a heartbreaking story of motherhood, loss and identity. The female characters especially were relatable and likeable and I loved the contrast between Kim and Sophie and how, despite their very different family situations, these very different women complimented each other as they sort a mutual goal. 

The Night She Disappeared delivered so much more than I had been expecting. It was a mystery first and foremost but the backstory was so much more as we meet Tallulah in the days and weeks leading up to her disappearance. A teenage mum who adored her baby but who wanted so much more from her life, little realising that her dreams were going to lead her to make some very questionable decisions…

Emotionally draining to read at times but I was totally engrossed in each and every timeline of The Night She Disappeared. Insightful, powerful and haunting with a twisty plot that will have your jaw dropping-I loved it!

It’s no secret that I’m huge fan of Rebecca Griffiths’ writing and that I feel her books deserve a bigger audience so I was absolutely thrilled when I heard she had signed up with one of my favourite publishers Bookouture! And her new publisher also marks the start of a slight change in direction for her with this creative take on a real life criminal and his heinous crimes. In The Girl At My Door she has woven a tense and atmospheric fictional narrative around the serial killer John Reginald Christie, with imagined scenarios and characters who have been created to cross the path of this vile monster. 

From the very first sentence there was a sense of foreboding and, although I only knew the basics of the murders perpetrated by Christie before I read this book, whenever he was on the page he gave off a convincing realism that gave me goosebumps. I thought it was a brilliant idea to use him throughout this novel, silently stalking his potential victim and sharing in her personal tragedies as he looked for a way to indulge in his obsession. And when he finally becomes part of the chain of vicissitude, it has devastating consequences…

I can’t begin to tell you how much I loved this book. I became totally invested in the lives of Joy and Queenie as the friends unintentionally became the focus of attention for a man with no moral compass. The attention to detail is brilliant, both in the descriptions of the historical period it’s set in and the life of John Reginald Christie. The quality of the writing slowly draws you into this gripping thriller and it kept me on the edge of my seat as I waited to see how this dramatic chiller would play out and whether or not another victim would fall into the infamous rope chair.

Shocking, immersive and beautifully crafted, The Girl At My Door is a stunning book with unexpected twists and one of the creepiest portrayals of a serial killer I have ever read! I’ve also listened to the audiobook so if that’s your preferred reading choice then I have to say that you will be blown away by the narrators (I’ve never liked the word “moist” but after listening to the first 5 minutes of the male actor delivering Christie’s words, I never want to hear the word EVER AGAIN! ) 

Highly recommended by me!

Lauren North has taken a dilemma faced by every parent and woven a scarily realistic psychological thriller around it. It’s always a worry when you have to decide it’s the right time to leave your child home alone as it needs to happen for the first time at some point but here, that decision leads to an horrific situation both for Anna and especially her daughter, Harrie…

I loved the way the narrative was written here. We have Anna, a woman I think that everyone can relate to, making the decision to leave Harrie while she takes her youngest daughter to pick up Harrie’s twin from gymnastics. She knows that she’s seen as a worrier but her anxiety may be justified as her past is revealed and her present situation explained. And then there is Harrie. What happens to her when she’s left home alone? Why won’t she speak to her mother about it? And why is there a silver car now following her? Then finally, we meet Anna’s friends via their what’s app group. It’s here that we realise all may not be as we think as the group also has a secret “spin off” group that Anna knows nothing about! 

It becomes obvious when a newspaper reporter starts asking questions that the night Anna made her difficult decision has led to something quite shocking but we are kept in the dark about this till very near the end. In fact, there are so many twists, red herrings and secrets that I had absolutely no idea idea what had happened or why until everything was revealed! And that’s what I love about Lauren’s North’s books. She’s become one of those writers who is an automatic buy for me as I love the way she keeps me guessing throughout her gripping storylines. 

Safe At Home was one of my hot picks for September. It’s tension filled from start to finish as we become heavily invested in this family and their lives. I can highly recommend it!

This is probably going to be once of the most difficult reviews I write this year as I’m no writer and I know that I will in no way do this book justice. This Is How We Are Human is a stunning book-heartbreaking with an honesty and validity that sweeps the characters along with the broom of life-and it’s the best book I have read this year. I have to admit to having been a beta reader for Louise Beech when the book was in its infancy and it blew me away then but the polish applied by Orenda books has taken it to another level…

One of the reasons I read an early copy is because of the work I do. I obviously can’t go into details but most people who read my blog know that I’m a Teaching Assistant for SEN children and have lots of experience of autism in primary school aged children. And one of the toughest parts of my job is letting go when they move onto the next stage of their education. I worry about how they will cope with the outside world-will they marry, have children and what sort of job will they do? And I know that’s not for me to worry about but it’s part of who I am and what makes me so good at my job (which is a very bold thing for me to say considering I suffer terribly from Imposter Syndrome in most areas of my life!). So I can honestly say that Louise has written an authentic portrayal of autism and the needs and worries of those diagnosed as being on the spectrum. 

Sebastian, Veronica and Violetta are all beautifully drawn characters and I adored all of them for different reasons. Veronica just wants the best for her son and if that means finding him a professional to satisfy the very normal sexual needs of a young man his age, then that is what she will do. Violetta is a young woman who, like many others, is drawn into the “easy” money that prostitution promises although emotionally it ends up costing her far more than she is ever paid. And I defy anyone not to fall in love with Sebastian as he starts to find his own way in the world…

I had to read the last few chapters though my tears. Emotionally, Louise Beech gets me EVERY SINGLE TIME!! She is one of the best writers of her generation and her books just speak to me so profoundly that I don’t read them…I experience them with a welcoming intensity deep within me. It’s a difficult feeling to explain as Louise writes such different books with each one that she releases but I think that the title of this one explains what she does perfectly-she is able to define and channel what it is to be human within her fictional work. I have made no secret of the fact that I adore her books and am a huge fan but This Is How We Are Human is my favourite of her books so far. It’s just so beautifully written, perfectly crafted and made me cry…a lot! Due to Covid restrictions there hasn’t been an Orenda roadshow this year so Louise hasn’t been able to make me cry in person with her readings but once this is all behind us, I’m hoping that events will quickly get back to normal and I’m stocking up on tissues for when that day comes! 

A must buy for fans of Louise Beech…and for everyone who has had their life touched and enhanced by someone on the autistic spectrum.

The Nurse is a brilliantly dark and twisty book with some very disturbing themes throughout but I just have to start by telling you just how much I absolutely loved this book! I did something that I very rarely do the moment I finish a book and that was to send the author a message to tell her just how much her book had affected me and how much I had loved reading it. In fact, I read the whole book on a Sunday afternoon because once I started it there was no way I was letting it go until I had unwrapped all its secrets…and OMG there were plenty of shocking moments revealed as the storyline cranked up the tension towards the last few gripping pages. 

This is an intelligently plotted novel with a well crafted storyline told in the present with multiple flashbacks to the past. Rose Marlow, convicted murderer, opens up to writer Theo whilst she is in prison for a crime she has admitted to committing. But as Rose talks about her life, things come to light that may have some bearing on her conviction and Theo is convinced she is not a murderer. Their conversations were my favourite parts of The Nurse as I loved watching their connection build in that very difficult environment and how Theo becomes entranced by the woman he believes is innocent of murder. But we, the readers, are never quite as sure. Has Theo’s head been turned by a beautiful “woman in peril” with a hidden agenda? I didn’t know what to think as the author keeps us guessing as to how the past has influenced the present. The tapestry of Rose’s life unravels to lay bare some truly shocking secrets and when those threads finally come back together, I defy anyone not to be completely and utterly devastated and emotionally drained by the fallout. 

The Nurse is a brilliantly compulsive read but it’s more than that-it’s heartbreaking, haunting and harrowing; a powerfully crafted tragedy that slowly wraps itself around your emotions, tightening its hold on you until it’s impossible to catch your breath. I knew I would probably like this book (I’ve previously read Falling Suns by the same author so knew that she likes to tackle some very emotive issues) but I had no idea just how much I would become emotionally involved with these characters-their story overwhelmed me at times but I had to stay with them until the very end, no matter what happened…

This has to be one of my most difficult reviews to write as I know nothing I write will do this book justice plus I’m terrified of revealing spoilers! The Nurse delivered far more than I was expecting and is a book that I know will stay with me for a long time-just as Falling Suns did. A highly recommended psychological thriller that will keep you up till the small hours-you have been warned!

I love a missing/murdered child thriller (this makes me sound very callous but I’m a sweetie honestly!) and so I was immediately attracted to the blurb for When They Find Her. But I didn’t expect to be so swept away by a storyline that delivered something very special and refreshingly different to the normal formulaic plot-line. I don’t particularly walk to talk about the plot at all due to that as I would hate to reveal any spoilers and reduce the shock factors for readers that need to come to this book without any preconceived ideas. What I will say is that it’s a heartbreaking, tense and utterly absorbing domestic suspense with a first chapter that is shocking and unpredictable. And after that brilliant start, When They Find Her just gets better with each chapter until it reaches its breathtaking climax. 

So I’m sorry to leave you hanging a little but please believe me when I say you need to read this book especially if you have similar reading tastes to me! For a debut author, Lia Middleton has carefully crafted her characters and placed them in an horrifically unimaginable scenario that kept me guessing until the very end. Highly recommended by me!

This is probably going to be the most difficult review I’ve ever written and probably the shortest too! I would hate to inadvertently reveal any spoilers about this brilliant gothic chiller! I said recently during Tracy Talks over on Compulsive Readers that Viper Books have gone over to the “dark side” and this book was one of the main reasons for that statement! It’s taken me a few weeks to get my head around what I read and I’m still thinking about it now which is why it’s taken me that time to think about how I would review it. Unfortunately, I’m still no further forward so here’s a review that really doesn’t do the book justice but forgive me please! 

The Last House on Needless Street is a brilliantly crafted, disturbing tale narrated by Ted who lives with his daughter Lauren and his cat Olivia. It’s also narrated by Dee who moves in next door to Ted determined to find out what happened to her sister who disappeared when she was six years old during a family trip. There’s also a third narrator who may surprise you…it certainly did me! 

I loved this book and it’s one of my top reads of 2021 so far. It’s shocking in its intensity and it will worm its way into your heart and mind. Highly recommended for those looking for an extraordinary, horrific but memorable thriller.

So all that’s left for me to say is Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from My Chestnut Reading Tree and Darcy-the cutest Cavapoo in Cheshire! I hope to see you all (back on here or in person!!!) in 2022.

Jo xx

The Arctic Curry Club by Dani Redd @dani_redd @AvonBooksUK

For my whole life I had been looking for home. But why would that be in a place that I’d left? Perhaps I had to keep moving forward in order to find it…’

Soon after upending her life to accompany her boyfriend Ryan to the Arctic, Maya realises it’s not all Northern Lights and husky sleigh rides. Instead, she’s facing sub-zero temperatures, 24-hour darkness, crippling anxiety – and a distant boyfriend as a result.

In her loneliest moment, Maya opens her late mother’s recipe book and cooks Indian food for the first time. Through this, her confidence unexpectedly grows – she makes friends, secures a job as a chef, and life in the Arctic no longer freezes her with fear.

But there’s a cost: the aromatic cuisine rekindles memories of her enigmatic mother and her childhood in Bangalore. Can Maya face the past and forge a future for herself in this new town? After all, there’s now high demand for a Curry Club in the Arctic, and just one person with the know-how to run it…

A tender and uplifting story about family, community, and finding where you truly belong – guaranteed to warm your heart despite the icy setting!

The Artic Curry Club is a beautifully engaging book that deals with some heart wrenching issues within its storyline but is ultimately a feel good story about finding yourself and your “tribe”. When Maya accompanies her boyfriend Ryan to the Arctic, she has no idea of what awaits them there. While Ryan works, she tries to hide the anxiety that has always been part of her life whilst taking a job working as a chef-a career she has struggled with due to her mental health issues in the past. But when a customer asks for a curry, it sends Maya to her late mums recipe book and through its pages she discovers things about herself and revelations about her past that could also affect her future…

This is a beautifully written book that didn’t follow any of the expected pathways for me and was all the better for it! Maya was such a lovely character and I felt such empathy for her. The connection she developed with her dead mother through the use of her recipes became such a huge part of who they both were and I loved how the senses of smell and taste evoked such vivid flashbacks for her. As she became more aware of how the past had affected her present, I loved watching her face her fears head on-cooking up a storm as she did so.

My stomach rumbled constantly while reading The Arctic Curry Club! The recipes and the descriptions of the preparation process through to the tasting of the delicious food Maya cooked up left me hungry for more. Dani Redd is someone who really understands ingredients and the authenticity gives this book a really personal feel. It’s such a lovely storyline and I really wanted Maya to find her happy ever after. There is everything you want here in your “uplit”-stunning locations, quirky characters and food you could almost smell rising off the page. A rich, delicious and mouthwatering feast of a read that will take you away from your everyday life to a land of snow, ice and butter chicken.

Highly recommended by me.

Dani Redd is the debut author of The Arctic Curry Club, which was longlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Prize. She has an MA and PhD in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. This involved research trips to some of Europe’s remoter islands, including Spitsbergen, in the Arctic Circle. After this, she spent two years living in India. She now lives in Norwich with her husband, and is working as a food editor while writing that tricky second novel.

The Girl Upstairs by Georgina Lees @0neMoreChapter_ @GLees_author

How well do you know your neighbour?

Would you trust them with your life?

I heard Emily before I saw her. The harsh smack of heels against cheap wooden floorboards. The loud phone calls. The incessant music.

I knew Emily before I met her. Discarded receipts in our communal hallway. Sticky leftovers in the shared food waste bin. Wine shop vouchers in the letterbox.

Now she’s gone missing, and I’m the only one who can find her. The only one who can save her.

Because I know her best, and I heard everything.

The Girl Upstairs is a spine-tingling psychological thriller of grief and obsession that explores how lonely London can be and how sometimes it’s our neighbours who see us most, who know us best…

So I was flicking through Instagram on Saturday morning and I saw an ad for this book as it was on special offer at 99p. I followed the link and it seemed like my kind of book so I bought it and started straight away as I was just chilling on the sofa after my staff night out the night before! Well, I ended up reading it in the hairdressers chair in the afternoon, the queue for the chippy in the evening and in bed that night-not going to sleep until I reached the very last page. It’s not often I get so excited over a debut novel I had taken a chance on but The Girl Upstairs is fantastic! It’s just so beautifully written with a central character you are never quite sure about and another that is unraveled so carefully it was like unwrapping a delicate and fragile present.

Suzie lives in a ground floor flat underneath Emily, a young woman in her early twenties. Emily is portrayed as a selfish neighbour-noisy and uncaring of those around her-but as we find out more about Suzie we come to realise that she is judging her actions without knowing much about her even though she appears to know EVERYTHING! But the devil is in the detail here and it’s not until Emily goes missing that the overheard lifestyle of the girl upstairs becomes a significant part of who she is but why she has suddenly vanished? Suzie is obsessed with finding out, so obsessed that there is obviously something in her own past that demands she investigates Emily’s disappearance herself when the police don’t seem very interested in helping…

I absolutely loved this book! It’s not fast paced or action packed but it creates a wonderfully atmospheric flow throughout the slowly revealed plot. It played with my emotions too as I realised I had misjudged some characters early on and the revelations when they came weren’t the ones I was expecting so I felt that element of shock as the shattering truths were uncovered. It’s a book I didn’t want to end and when it did, I felt momentarily bereft as though I had lost someone very close to me and I wanted to know where they are now and what they are doing! And, for me, that’s the sign of a brilliantly created fictional storyline-one that felt real and engaging throughout.

A highly recommended 5 star read for me!

The Girl Upstairs was published on 9th December by One More Chapter.

Georgina studied creative writing and film at university and has since pursued a career in videogames journalism, covering some of the most popular games in the world. Her psychological thrillers are inspired by her surroundings, from the congested London streets to the raw English countryside.

The Silent Friend by Diane Jeffrey @dianefjeffrey Paperback is out today!

One night changed everything.

For Laura and Sandy, one tragic event changed the course of their lives forever.

Now they are the only ones who understand each another, drawn together by the night that changed everything.

But one of them is keeping a secret that could destroy their fragile friendship. Only she knows just how closely their lives are linked.

When the secret is revealed, will their friendship survive? Or will the truth tear them apart?

I don’t really want to talk too much about this book because I think that, like me, you need to go into it without any preconceived ideas about the plot. I will say that I found it very different to Diane’s previous books and less of a psychological thriller than an emotive drama that’s very much driven by two women who become friends in rather unusual circumstances. Their connection is explored via their heartfelt and emotional emails after they are brought together following the terrible night that changes both their lives forever.

The Silent Friend kept me glued to my sofa during my week off work and even through it surprised with its subject matter, I’m glad I didn’t know more before I read it. I think it hits you harder as you discover things at a similar time to the characters although Laura is kept in the dark for longer than Sandy is. The main twist occurs quite early in the narrative but Laura remains obvious until nearer the end. It’s a study in family and forgiveness that has a very topical plotline. The scenes set in France are, ofcourse, wonderfully vivid due to Diane living over there and I did find her descriptions of the hospital scenes very difficult to read due to my own family circumstances so I completely understand the emotions that were flying around Laura and her loved ones.

I hope I’ve given you enough to be intrigued by this wonderful book without spoiling anything for you. It’s a tough read at times due to the subject matter but it’s handled delicately without being judgemental. The Silent Friend is a brilliant read with plenty of talking points raised so I think it would make a great book club read as well. Definitely recommended!

Diane Jeffrey grew up in North Devon, in the United Kingdom. She now lives in Lyon, France with her husband and their three children, Labrador, cat and kitten.

Diane is an English teacher. When she’s not working or writing, she likes swimming, running and reading. She loves chocolate, beer and holidays. Above all, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

Readers can follow Diane on Twitter @dianefjeffrey
or on