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

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.

I’m Watching You by Amanda Brittany

Quarry Lake. Twelve years ago. Three young women are attacked, all with long, dark hair. The attacker wears a yellow jacket.

One is murdered.
One is left in a coma.
One escapes.

A small town lives in fear.

It’s Riona’s last summer before heading to university. One reckless night, she lets her two friends persuade her to spend the evening at Quarry Lake, drinking cider, sharing secrets, planning their futures.

They hear a scream and a splash. They’re scared but they feel they have to go and see what it is. But a sudden noise frightens them, and they run off.

NOW, Riona is back in her hometown, facing thirty with some of her dreams still intact.

They never did catch the Quarry Lake killer.

But one day Riona glimpses a mysterious figure in a yellow jacket. Staring intensely at her.

A note is shoved through her letterbox: I’m watching you.

Is the past coming back to threaten her? Is the killer back?

This is a a great psychological thriller, full of unexpected twists and turns with a very creepy atmospheric feel to it that made me so uneasy I couldn’t read it in bed!! Amanda Brittany always delivers a gripping read for me and that’s why she’s one of my “go to” authors!

When Riona and her friends spend time drinking by Quarry Lake, they are risking their lives as the lake has become the hunting ground for a serial killer who has been targeting young girls in the area. They hear a splash and a scream but they run away, too scared to do more than briefly search for the cause of the sounds. But years later, Riona, Erika and Stacey receive notes saying “I’m Watching You”. Has the killer returned to tie the loose ends of that night?

I thoroughly enjoyed I’m Watching You! There are some shocking revelations throughout the narrative that kept me on my toes, unable to pinpoint who was responsible for the notes or work out exactly why! Riona was a likeable if somewhat naive character and I couldn’t work out why someone would be playing with her emotions like they were! Her aunt Bernie was another likeable character and I would love to have had more of her in the book-in fact I think I can see a nice spin off book for her in the future!

I do love dysfunctional families and at the heart of I’m Watching You is a family who struggle to form and maintain relationships with others. I’m always fascinated by the “nature versus nurture” debate and here there was plenty for me to think about as the plot gradually gave up more of its secrets to the reader. From about half way through I couldn’t put the book down and the ending certainly lived up to my expectations.

Highly recommended!

I’m Watching You was published by Joffe Books on the 26th October 2022.

Amanda lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and cute dog. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her family and friends, walking her dog, reading (her go-to is fictional crime and psychological thrillers) and she is far too keen on red velvet cake. She loves sunny days by the sea, and snowy days through the window of a cosy room.Amanda has raised over £8700 in eBook royalties for Cancer Research UK in memory of her sister.She is the author of six psychological crime thrillers, and co-writer of psychological suspense novels with author Karen Clarke

Auld Acquaintance by Sofia Slater

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

And never brought to mind?

Millie Partridge desperately needs a party. So, when her (handsome and charming) ex-colleague Nick invites her to a Hebridean Island for New Year’s Eve, she books her ticket North.

But things go wrong the moment the ferry drops her off. The stately home is more down at heel than Downton Abbey. Nick hasn’t arrived yet. And the other revellers? Politely, they aren’t exactly who she would have pictured Nick would be friends with.

Worse still, an old acquaintance from Millie’s past has been invited, too. Penny Maybury. Millie and Nick’s old colleague. Somebody Millie would rather have forgotten about. Somebody, in fact, that Millie has been trying very hard to forget.

Waking up on New Year’s Eve, Penny is missing. A tragic accident? Or something more sinister? With a storm washing in from the Atlantic, nobody will be able reach the group before they find out.

One thing is for sure – they’re going to see in the new year with a bang.

Tense, moody and claustrophobic, Auld Acquaintance is the unputdownable debut by Sofia Slater

Auld Acquaintance has an incredibly intriguing blurb that attracted me immediately even though half of me thought it would just be “another island locked room mystery” (nothing wrong with that but I have read a few with a similar premise recently!) But I have to say that Auld Acquaintance really did knock similar books out of the water for me! It conveyed a fresh spin on the genre with its darkly humorous delivery and unreliable narrative and I absolutely relished every single page!

Celebrating New Year on a remote Scottish island with an attractive ex-colleague sounds like the perfect way to party for Millie Partridge so she packs her best winter wardrobe and travels via ferry to the cold, harsh landscape of the Hebrides. The journey itself doesn’t start well as Millie passes a nasty RTA and then has to share the ferry with other guests that she isn’t particularly thrilled to share her space with. And on arriving at the party venue, things get even more disturbing…

Auld Acquaintance definitely had “And Then There Were None” vibes but it was never predictable and the twist and turns felt organically conceived. Millie was a relatable character and I really liked her even though it became quite obvious that she was keeping secrets as were the other people invited to the New Years party. And the other guests were a very strange bunch indeed! Most were so unlikeable that I wasn’t even particularly bothered when they all started to get bumped off one by one-I was just waiting for the next gory death whilst trying to work out the clues that were subtly weaved throughout the storyline.

Auld Acquaintance was a gripping read that I read in one rainy afternoon and I thoroughly enjoyed it-it was pure escapism from start to finish.

Out on 3rd November published by Swift Press.

Sofia Slater was raised in the American West, and lived in France, Scotland and Oxford before settling in London. As well as writing fiction, she translates from French and Spanish. Auld Acquaintance is her debut novel.

The Titanic Tunnel by Glen Blackwell

‘It’s Titanic – aren’t you curious? No one alive today has seen it like that.’

Emmie & Jack are on a school trip with a difference. Visiting Belfast to see where Titanic was built, they step back to 1912 and discover the great ship itself. All too soon, they find out that the way home is blocked, and Jack gets dragged off to work by one of the crew. Who is the mysterious stranger lurking in the shadows, and can they solve his time riddle to escape from the doomed ship before it is too late…?

Written for 9-12 readers, and set 6 months after The Blitz Bus, The Titanic Tunnel aims to show what life was like above and below decks on this most famous of ships. Intended both for pleasure and to support primary learning, this sequel compels our modern characters to confront the challenge of literally being trapped on a sinking ship, whilst trying to help new friends survive too.

I love fiction that brings historical events to life for children and The Titanic Tunnel certainly does transport the reader back to the days of class segregation and the search for a better life as Emmie and Jack head back in time to the maiden voyage of Titanic. Now I haven’t actually read the first time travelling adventure featuring Emmie and Jack but I didn’t feel I was missing anything in respect to what happens here as this can definitely be read as a stand-alone. But it’s certainly now on my radar as I’d love to see how Emmie and Jack coped with their WW2 adventure too!

Anyway, back to The Titanic Tunnel and when Emmie and Jack head off on their school trip to see where Titanic was built, once again they end up going back in time to experience the opulence of one of the most famous ships in the world. They quickly make friends and realise they are there to save a particular passenger but when their path home is blocked, they realise they are in a dangerous situation that they may not be able to escape…

The Titanic Tunnel is a gripping read for younger readers with a fascinating setting onboard the infamous Titanic. Emmie and Jack are relatable characters and both myself and the 11 year old really enjoyed their adventures here. Glen Blackwell is an accomplished storyteller who grabs the reader from the very first page and drags them fully into the narrative. It was brilliant watching the 11 year olds face as she became so enthralled by Emmie and Jacks dilemma-would they manage to get off the ship in time and get back to the present day? She couldn’t stop reading until she found out!

Highly recommended by us both!

Glen Blackwell lives in Suffolk, England. He has a career in finance and The Titanic Tunnel is his third book. Inspired by bedtime reading with his 3 daughters, Glen loves to bring stories to life for young readers.

Keep It In The Family by John Marrs #bookreview @AmazonPub @FMcMAssociates

In this chilling novel from bestselling author John Marrs, a young couple’s house hides terrible secrets—and not all of them are confined to the past.

Mia and Finn are busy turning a derelict house into their dream home when Mia unexpectedly falls pregnant. But just when they think the house is ready, Mia discovers a chilling message scored into a skirting board: I WILL SAVE THEM FROM THE ATTIC. Following the clue up into the eaves, the couple make a gruesome discovery: their dream home was once a house of horrors.

In the wake of their traumatic discovery, the baby arrives and Mia can’t shake her fixation with the monstrous crimes that happened right above them. Haunted by the terrible things she saw and desperate to find answers, her obsession pulls her ever further from her husband.

Secrecy shrouds the mystery of the attic, but when shards of a dark truth start to emerge, Mia realises the danger is terrifyingly present. She is prepared to do anything to protect her family—but is it already too late?

I’ve long been a fan of John Marrs and his books but have to start my review by saying that Keep It In The Family is, in my opinion, his best book so far! For me it contained every single element I desire in my psychological thrillers, delivering a shocking and gripping read from start to finish.

Married couple Finn and Mia have just bought a “money pit” house at auction and are preparing to make it their forever family home. Everything seems to be going well for them apart from Mia struggling to get on with her in-laws and the fact that their family home is unlikely to be filled with babies and children due to their problems conceiving. But an exploration of a long hidden attic room sets in motion a nightmare that they may never recover from…

There are several points of view used to tell this compelling storyline. Both Mia and Finn plus Finns parents, Debbie and Dave, deliver their thoughts and actions before and after the horrific discovery in the attic. But there’s also an unknown narrator and it’s their story that shocked me the most as it moves backwards in time-a plot device that works brilliantly alongside the other POVs. And there were so many themes within the narrative that grabbed me and made this my dream read! Nature versus nurture is a huge interest of mine alongside attachment theory so I was enthralled by these rather unlikeable and untrustworthy characters. So this made Keep It In The Family “car crash” fiction at its very best and it’s hard to tear your eyes away from each page even though you know something very VERY bad is going to happen…

I find family life, especially that of others, absolutely fascinating as I love picking apart the family dynamics and dysfunctional relationships! Keep It In The Family pushed the boundaries of what I was comfortable with at times but as it made good with its promise of unpredictable and shockingly good twists and turns, it became a book I really wanted to put down but physically couldn’t!

Highly recommended-one of the best books I’ve read this year and one of the most unforgettable too!

John Marrs is an author and former journalist based in London and Northamptonshire. After spending his career interviewing celebrities from the worlds of television, film and music for numerous national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time author. His books include No1 bestseller and Netflix series The One, The Passengers, award winning What Lies Between Us and The Good Samaritan. Follow him at, on Twitter @johnmarrs1, on Instagram and on Facebook at