Category Archives: Fiction

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell


Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell


On a summer’s day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home?

Their mother, Agnes, is over a mile away, in the garden where she grows medicinal herbs. Their father is working in London. Neither parent knows that one of the children will not survive the week.

Hamnet is a novel inspired by the son of a famous playwright. It is a story of the bond between twins, and of a marriage pushed to the brink by grief. It is also the story of a kestrel and its mistress; flea that boards a ship in Alexandria; and a glovemaker’s son who flouts convention in pursuit of the woman he loves. Above all, it is a tender and unforgettable reimagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, but whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays ever written.

 My Review:

In my younger days I became fascinated by William Shakespeare and his plays and sonnets. I have been lucky to have been to the Globe on London’s South side of the River Thames number of times. One of my favourite writers has written an intimate historical novel based on one of Shakespeare’s sons. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder Press) is released on 31st March.


Hamnet born to William Shakespeare and his wife Agnes (Anne Hathaway) and the twin of Judith in the year 1585. One thing I will say here for Shakespeare aficionados is that this is a fictional account of the family life of the Shakespeare’s not so much about the man himself and his wife Agnes takes centre stage through the novel.

As the story opens with the young Hamnet in the house seemingly alone with his sister Judith in bed and is very poorly. Hamnet is searching for someone in his mother Agnes. Agnes is out in the fields. The story tells of how Agnes and William first met and their humble beginnings as married couple and how the couple spent time apart as William was in London trying to earn a living and Agnes was at home expecting twins.

Hamnet dies at the age of 11 at a time when a third of all children died before they reached the age of ten. It is suggested in further readings that Hamnet may have died from the bubonic plague and the plague itself takes a major part of the novel.

The effect of Hamnet’s death at such a young age has a devastating effect on the family. This is a heartbreaking story so tenderly told by Maggie O’Farrell. Losing a loved creates a feeling like the walls of life are closing in and a claustrophobic feeling and the feeling of loss never leaves as you and this comes through the storyline.

There are many characters that O’Farrell brings into the story and each has their own life that only O’Farrell can bring into her books. Even the everyday life of the people of Stratford-upon-Avon is beautifully told. There are many who question whether the death of Hamnet was when Shakespeare then wrote his play Hamlet this will be talked about but either way this is without doubt Maggie O’Farrell’s finest novel to-date and one I loved reading. I have thought a lot about Hamnet since I have read O’Farrell’s historical novel. Many might be put off because it has the ‘Shakespeare’ tag but I would highly recommend this book to anyone.

384 Pages.

Thank you to Georgina Moore (Midas PR) for the review copy of Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell is published by Tinder Press 31st March on 2020 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides


The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides


Alicia Berenson lived a seemingly perfect life until one day six years ago.

When she shot her husband in the head five times.

Since then she hasn’t spoken a single word.

It’s time to find out why.

 My Review:

I am rather late to the party with this terrific psychological thriller that has now sold over a million copies worldwide. The Silent Patient (Orion Books) by Alex Michaelides can be placed into a number of genres and is a real page turner of a debut novel.


If like me, you have allowed The Silent Patient to pass you by I will attempt to tease you with my review. An absorbing thriller with some more than interesting characters and what an ending Alex Michaelides has written into the storyline.

Alicia Berenson is an artist and seems to have the most perfect life with her husband Gabriel who is a successful fashion photographer. But then one day Alicia shot her husband in the head five times. For a seemingly happy and settled wife to commit this gruesome murder something must have happened. Alicia was arrested and convicted of Gabriel’s murder and sent to a secure psychiatric unit called The Grove throughout her trial she remained silent, never speaking a solitary word.

It is now six years later and Theo Faber arrives at The Grove to start work and he want to try and get Alicia to start to talk. Theo who is a psychotherapist believes he can get Alicia to finally open up and tell the story of Gabriel’s murder. Now the story begins to really get going and you will not want to put this gripping thriller down. The further you get into the plot the more you begin to think that there is more to what really is going on. Theo has his own issues away from work with his relationship with his wife on the verge of breaking down but he is obsessed with Alicia and her story.

Does Alicia finally find her voice and tell the story of what happened and why she killed the husband she loved or does she remain silent. Be prepared for the ending. I never saw that coming at all. The Silent Patient is a really compelling read. Alex Miichaelides has delivered the perfect thriller.

 352 Pages. (Paperback)

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides was published by Orion Publishers and was published in paperback on 12th December 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Beast by Matt Wesolowski


Beast by Matt Wesolowski


Elusive online journalist Scott King examines the chilling case of a young vlogger found frozen to death in the legendary local ‘vampire tower’, in another explosive episode of Six Stories… In the wake of the ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old Vlogger, Elizabeth Barton, had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as ‘The Vampire Tower’, where she was later found frozen to death. Three young men, part of an alleged ‘cult’, were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a ‘prank gone wrong.’ However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible. Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses people who knew both the victim and the three killers to peer beneath the surface of the case. He uncovers whispers of a shocking online craze that held the young of Ergarth in its thrall and drove them to escalate a series of pranks in the name of internet fame. He hears of an abattoir on the edge of town, which held more than simple slaughter behind its walls, the tragic and chilling legend of the ‘Ergarth Vampire’… Both a compulsive, taut and terrifying thriller, and a bleak and distressing look at modern society’s desperation for attention, Beast will unveil a darkness from which you may never return…

My Review:

It only seemed a short time that I read book one of Matt Wesolowski’s Six Stories. Now Matt is back with Beast (Orenda Books) the fourth in the series. If you have not discovered any of the books in the series, it is a fantastic gripping series based on a series of six podcasts as online journalist Scott King investigates true-life crimes. And the fourth in the series is not to be missed.


The winter of 2018 saw a bitterly cold period with snow and ice as the Beast from the East held the country in its icy grip, at the same time a successful Vlogger Elizabeth Barton was taking part in a social media challenge and she has been found dead in the ruin on part of the Northumbrian Coast and in what the locals call the Vampire Tower. It was a shocking discovery for those who found her.

Is the case against three young men who were part of a cult as rock solid as many believe? They were convicted and are now behind bars. But for journalist Scott King this is the perfect case for his true-life crime podcast series. Scott now talks to six people as part of the six podcast series to try and get behind what really happened to Elizabeth Barton the bitterly cold night.

Is there really a vampire stalking this part of the coastline just waiting for her next victim or is this really a case of cold blooded murder? The podcast interviews are gripping. The Beast from the East does not just refer to the snow storms but the Ergarth Vampire who many locals say came from Siberia. So this really is a spooky crime investigation for Scott King.

As the six podcast carry on more and more is known and revealed but then just wait until the final podcast. My mind was blown. For Elizabeth Barton who was taking part in the social media challenge ‘Dead in Six Days’ (except your do not really die) but something sinister happened to Elizabeth and the truth is out there. Beast is chilling and sinister and a novel you cannot leave alone. Brilliantly written with a storyline that will make you want to choke on your coffee. Dare you leave this one alone. Perfect as a standalone but you must read the others after. You will be hooked.

If reading about the Six Podcasts is gripping imagine what the audio book would sound like? One I am going to have to look into.

320 Pages.

Matt Wesolowski: @concretekraken

Orenda Books: @OrendaBooks

Thank you to Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books) for the review copy of Beast by Matt Wesolowski

Beast by Matt Wesolowski was published by Orenda Books and will be published on 6th February 2020 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

A Silent Death by Peter May

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A Silent Death by Peter May


Set in Southern Spain, A Silent Death is the scorching new thriller from worldwide bestselling author of The Lewis Trilogy, Cast Iron and I’ll Keep You Safe.


Spain, 2020. When ex-pat fugitive Jack Cleland watches his girlfriend die, gunned down in a pursuit involving officer Cristina Sanchez Pradell, he promises to exact his revenge by destroying the policewoman.


Cristina’s aunt Ana has been deaf-blind for the entirety of her adult life: the victim of a rare condition named Usher Syndrome. Ana is the centre of Cristina’s world – and of Cleland’s cruel plan.


John Mackenzie – an ingenious yet irascible Glaswegian investigator – is seconded to aid the Spanish authorities in their manhunt. He alone can silence Cleland before the fugitive has the last, bloody, word.

 My Review:

I have been a fan of Peter May’s thrillers since the Lewis Trilogy was first released so I was delighted to be asked to review A Silent Death (riverrun) that has just been released in the last few days.


Set in Spain and fugitive Jack Cleland is with his girlfriend and there is a pursuit involving a female police officer and Cleland’s girlfriend is shot and killed during the pursuit. Cleland wants revenge on the policewoman and vows to kill her when he finds her.

Now John Mackenzie a Glaswegian investigator is called upon to help investigate and find Cleland before he exacts his bloody revenge plot. Can Mackenzie find Cleland in time?

Jack Cleland is hell bent on finding Christina the policewoman and beyond mad enough to carry out his vendetta. The pace is hotter than the Spanish sun and the killer is cold enough to believe his own mindless thoughts that the policewoman is responsible. But there is something else in the plot, Christina’s aunt Ana who is both deaf and blind and is now part of Cleland’s mindless and cruel plan. But do not underestimate Ana as she is strong and clever. Mackenzie has to find the ex-pat fugitive before he strikes.

If you have read any of Peter May’s previous thrillers, then you are in for a real treat. This is a fast paced thriller and a real page turner that you will be hooked by the plot and storyline.

I read A Silent Death over Christmas and loved it. This is a standalone thriller and I am delighted to recommend to anyone who enjoys a well-paced thriller.

432 Pages.

Thank you to Martina Ticic (Midas PR) for the review copy of A Silent Death by Peter May.

A Silent Death by Peter May was published by riverrun and was published on 9th January 2020 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

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The Choice by Claire Wade


The Choice by Claire Wade


Everything you ate was monitored by the government.
Every step you took was counted.
Your children were weighed every day at school.
Neighbours reported on neighbours and no one was safe from judgement.
Sugar was illegal, and baking was a crime.

Imagine if that world was here… What would you do?

Toe the line or fight for your freedom…

My Review:

Imagine a time in the future when sugar has been made illegal. Imagine all those wonderful sweet things we have come to love that would be no more. Welcome to the superb debut novel The Choice (Orion) by Claire Wade.


In all my years of reading I have never come across a dystopian novel based around the banning of sugar. Just how was this going to play out. I am so pleased the publisher sent be a review copy of The Choice as it turned out to be a brilliantly written novel.

The UK is now run by a government that has decided to ban all baking and will make the UK a fit and healthy country again. We meet Olivia Pritchard who is a baker and she is a baker who loves baking. Now the UK is rum by Mother Mason is hell bent on health and happiness. Olivia is living in constant fear of being found out. If you are found out god help you.

I just loved the way Claire Wade drew the reader into the storyline and it does become a frightening storyline as you really understand Mother Mason’s regime and what she demands from her public. How disturbing it really became. Imagine just how one person who can come to power and effect the lives of those in the country and take them to the very edge before the country rises up against the government. This may be a novel about banning sugar and baking but there is a stronger message for us all her about who we choose to run our countries in our name and how quickly it can become a dangerous path. A novel that at times just makes you angry but one novel that you are so aborbed in that you just want more.

I could never allow any country to stop me eating chocolate. I certainly would rise up. The Choice by Claire Wade is just stunning and very readable.

400 Pages.

Thank you to Alainna Hadjigeorgiou (Orion Publishing Group) for the review copy of The Choice by Claire Wade.

The Choice by Claire Wade was published by Orion and was published on 26th December 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

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Fiction and Non-Fiction Books of the Year 2019

Fiction and Non-Fiction Books of the Year 2019

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As the old year comes to a close it is time to look back at the books I have read and loved through the year. This year I am going to do something a little different rather than just select my favourites I am going to simply select my best fiction and non-fiction. Two books that really made my year and really got my attention. So many books could have made the list that I had trouble just choosing the top ten.




The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

(Harper Collins)



In a remote hunting lodge, deep in the Scottish wilderness, old friends gather for New Year.

The beautiful one
The golden couple
The volatile one
The new parents
The quiet one
The city boy
The outsider

The victim.

Not an accident – a murder among friends.

Fiction Book of the Year 2019:

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley was my first read fiction read that I started on New Years Day and it was the perfect read for the time of year. It screamed Agatha Christie very quickly into the book. I was hooked and this is a story based at a Hunting Lodge on The Loch Corrin Estate in the Highlands of Scotland a group of friends who have known each other for many years gather again to bring in the New Year Hogmanay style. The weather is closing in with heavy snow falling and there is a murder. Nobody can leave. Among the group trapped in the lodge are the guests and a small number of staff and there is a murderer among them. But who is it?

A chilling and atmospheric crime thriller and a cast of characters that you will come to know and one of them could be the killer, but then again what of the staff? You will also get to hear their thoughts as well.

My Review from January 2019:

What a cracking start to 2019 with a good old fashioned murder mystery and The Hunting Party (Harper Collins) the debut crime novel Lucy Foley and what a cracking edge of your seat thriller it turned out to be. The perfect read between Christmas and New Year as you will see why.

It is New Year’s Eve at a group of friends have come together to see in the New Year in style at The Loch Corrin Estate which is a typical out of the way hunting lodge in the Highlands. A Hogmanay to remember as it turned out for all the wrong reasons.

Snow is falling and it is turning out to be a white out, real blizzard conditions. So a group of friends who all went to oxford spend their New Year’s Eve year on year together. The story starts on New Year’s Day and something is very wrong as one of the guests is missing and a body has been found. This was no accident in the snow. This is murder. So who done it and why?

This group of friends now in their thirties have known each other for some years so who has been murdered and it is clear the killer is one of the party. With the snow getting worse. No-one is leaving and the police cannot get to the lodge due to the bad weather.

We do not know who has been murdered as Lucy Foley keeps us guessing as we work back and forth and are introduced to each of the characters and what a group of characters they are. Then there are the staff. There are three on duty for the Hogmanay celebrations and we get to know each of them. The plot is thickening and past history is bubbling to the surface.

There is something brilliantly old about reading The Hunting Party, knowing you are trapped inside this old lodge and there is a killer among you and will they strike again?

The characters really do bring something to the party and eerie setting makes for a chilling and twisty plot.

This will keep you gripped to the very end. Brilliant writing from Lucy Foley makes The Hunting Party a one to watch for January 2019. I would order your copy today. How well do you know your friends?

So many great fiction titles I have read through the year and so many of them came very very close but The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley was the book that I just kept talking about through the year.



The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold



Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.

What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888.

Their murderer was never identified, but the name created for him by the press has become far more famous than any of these five women.

Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, historian Hallie Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, and gives these women back their stories.

Winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2019

Hay Festival Book of the Year 2019


If my choice of the fiction book of the year was my first book to have been read of 2019, then my choice of Non-Fiction book of the year was my last book to have been read of 2019 and what a book it was.

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold was released in late February of this year and I never got to read this until December despite many people recommending this to me and what an outstnading piece of work by Hallie Rubenhold. For over 130 years the five Women were all labelled as protitutes and finally Hallie Rubenhold tells the story of the five women and their lives. There only crime was that they were homeless and many of them turned to drink and so when their bodies were found they were labelled as protitutes. What Rubenhold tells in her account is the story of the five women. This book will leave a mark on me for many years and will make you angry at how badly each of the victims have been treated for over 130 years. A briliant book that will finally give a voice to the five women.

My Review from December 2019:

The brutal murders by Jack the Ripper took place in 1888, that was 131 years-ago and at last a landmark book has been written of the real lives of the five women that were murdered in London by a killer that has never been identified. The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Historian Hallie Rubenhold (Doubleday) gives a voice to the five women and it is without doubt one of the greatest books of 2019.

If you searched for books on Jack the Ripper it would take you the best part of the day to look at each one as each book sets out trying to identify who the killer was, but how many books have there been that give a voice to the five women: Mary Anne ‘Polly’ Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly. The research done by Hallie Rubenhold has been extensive and deserves the many plaudits she has received for this vital book. The misogyny that surrounds the many stories of Jack the Ripper through the years and even still today.

Each of the women has a chapter dedicated to them and follows their lives from day they were born to when they died. Each one found themselves alone and in poverty in the Whitechapel part of London. Each of the women led a life and someone’s daughter, friend, lover and deserves better than history has given them. At last in Hallie Rubenhold’s book their lives are detailed and the myths finally buried.

What Rubenhold explores is the extreme hardship of the times and being a woman meant having little or no support. Being born into hardship and spiralled downwards, alcohol dependency and being homeless, the police investigation tells of the women being prostitutes but this Hallie Rubenhold after extensive investigations finds that there is no evidence stating that three of the five being Nichols, Chapman or Eddowes were not prostitutes but they were preyed upon because they were just intoxicated, homeless and asleep. To Jack the Ripper they were targets.

Never has a book held me in its grasp as The Five has. History has been extremely shameful in what has been said of the five women but 131 year later, Hallie Rubenhold has provided justice for each of the victims for which I congratulate the author. It is though shameful that it has taken over 130 years for this wrong to be righted. Highly Recommend.

Books of the Year 2


So there we have it. Another year in books has come to a close. A year that I will remember for many great reasons. We celebrate books and the writers through the year and looking ahead to 2020 and a new decade it promises to be another exciting literary year.

To those who follow me here or through my Twitter feed, thank you for all your kind words and to the those who I have had the pleasure of meeting here is to the next time.

Let us hope for a more peaceful year ahead.

Happy Reading and Happy New Year.



Sherlock Holmes & The Christmas Demon by James Lovegrove


Sherlock Holmes & The Christmas Demon by James Lovegrove


It is 1890, and in the days before Christmas Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson are visited at Baker Street by a new client. Eve Allerthorpe – eldest daughter of a grand but somewhat eccentric Yorkshire-based dynasty – is greatly distressed, as she believes she is being haunted by a demonic Christmas spirit.

Her late mother told her terrifying tales of the sinister Black Thurrick, and Eve is sure that she has seen the creature from her bedroom window. What is more, she has begun to receive mysterious parcels of birch twigs, the Black Thurrick’s calling card…

Eve stands to inherit a fortune if she is sound in mind, but it seems that something – or someone – is threatening her sanity. Holmes and Watson travel to the Allerthorpe family seat at Fellscar Keep to investigate, but soon discover that there is more to the case than at first appeared. There is another spirit haunting the family, and when a member of the household is found dead, the companions realise that no one is beyond suspicion.


My Review:

As a boy I loved reading the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes novels and watching the TV adaptations, then all of a sudden I stopped reading them. It has been many years since I last read one of the books and this Christmas I was looking for something a little different and then I found it in Sherlock Holmes & The Christmas Demon (Titan Books) by James Lovegrove.


The year is 1890 and it is close to Christmas and everyone is looking forward to spending time with their families over the festive period including Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson but an unusual case has come to light and Holmes requests that Dr Watson journey with him to Fellscar Keep which is the family home of the Allerthorpe’s and it was Eve Allerthorpe who approached Sherlock Holmes with the ghostly goings on at the family home. Eve believes that the home is being haunted by the demonic Black Thurrick. Just to add to the mystery Eve Allerthorpe turns 21 on Christmas Eve and stands to inherit the family fortune from the late Mrs Allerthorpe. Could it be that there are some who do not want Eve to receive her inheritance?

Holmes and Watson find that they are not made welcome when they arrive and Sherlock Holmes in very wary to say the least of the ghostly goings on. It is said that the Black Thurrick is leaving bundles of birch twigs on the window ledges of Eve’s bedroom, a sign of the Black Thurrick. As the wider family gather at the Allerthorpe family home for Christmas the bitterness and the quarrels begin. A sign of jealousy towards Eve herself. Holmes and Watson begin the task of investigating the ghostly and demonic goings on in what is a terrific Christmas tale.

Fingers are point at various family members with whom some may have a real grudge and some who are just trying to deflect attention on to others. As the story unfolds there are more ghostly apparitions and even Dr Watson himself finds a bundle of birch twigs on his window ledge.

Holmes is looking for a murderer not a demon and he must solve this crime and prove there is no demon but just a murderer on the loose on the family estate but who is it?
This is just a great Christmas mystery that even the great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have loved. I really like James Lovegrove’s style of writing and the characters that he brought to the mystery as well the Black Thurrick from folklore to add a bit of Christmas ghostly goings on.

384 Pages.

Sherlock Holmes & The Christmas Demon by James Lovegrove was published by Titan Books and was published on 22nd October 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.


Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield


Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield


On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames, the regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open and in steps an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a child.

Hours later, the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

And who does the little girl belong to?

An exquisitely crafted multi-layered mystery brimming with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.

 My Review:

Finally got to write a review for one of my favourite books of 2019. From the author of The Thirteenth Tale comes a story based straight from the River Thames. Once a Upon River (Black Swan) by Diane Setterfield is tale based of folklore and suspense.


The story is based along the river at Radcot, Oxfordshire and there stands The Swan an old in. Here the locals partake in the favourite drinks but that is not all as tales are told here but it is on one of those evenings that the tales abruptly ceased when the door burst open and a man stubbles in and he carrying a young girl. The man passes out and it becomes clear the girl he was carrying in his arms is deceased.

Present in the inn is a midwife who examines the body of the deceased girl and at this point something miraculous happens. The girl who was clearly dead wakes and soon after the man regains consciousness and tells how he found the body of the girl floating in the Thames. But who is the girl and where does she come from. The girl now back from the dead never speaks.

Soon the story of the dead girl coming back to life spreads across the local area. Hearing the news more than one family come forward to claim her as their own. Now the mystery of the girl really begins who is she and just who is her rightful parents?

I have left my review of One Upon a River to very late in the year as this is pretty much close to being my book of 2019. It has just about everything the characters really stand out here and Diane Setterfield is a master of storytelling and you become totally absorbed in the detail and storytelling. The idea of locals gathering to tell stories over a pint on a dark evening and you can almost see yourself sitting there listening. A story of the Thames as a river and the people who live and work the river and the stories it gives up. If you have not yet read Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield and looking for a book to read over the Christmas holidays, then this is one book I happily recommend.

544 Pages.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield was published by Black Swan and was published in Paperback on 29th August 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy. (Watersones Book of the Year 2019)


The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy



Enter the world of Charlie’s four unlikely friends, discover their story and their most important life lessons.

The conversations of the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse have been shared thousands of times online, recreated in school art classes, hung on hospital walls and turned into tattoos. In Charlie’s first book, you will find his most-loved illustrations and some new ones too.

 My Review:

Sometimes when you write a review for a book that is just so special there literally are no words you can write because no matter what you write it would not do justice to the book or the author. The same can be said of The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy (Ebury Press) The most beautiful book of the year.


Our world is in a real mess right now and hope seems to be in short supply, many of us have been looking for something to cling to I guess call it a life raft for life itself and then comes along a book that is just so full of hope and is a real inspiration. It is a beacon for everything that is good in us and in our lives.

This is the story of Charlie’s four friends, it all started with a simple conversation with the horse confiding in the boy about the bravest thing he had ever said. ‘Help’ said the horse. Sometimes in life we all need to be brave and ask for help. It is not a weakness but it is a strength of character as well as brave.

The story is set in Springtime when the weather can be really strange a bit like life as we all know. The boy meets the mole. They set off on an adventure and soon meet the fox who is quiet for a reason that will become clear and then they meet the horse.

Throughout this beautiful story we meet ourselves in every character and there is nothing wrong with that. It is a book that will tug at your heartstrings and bring a few tears to your eyes and yet at the same time fill you full of hope. At times we are all fragile and doubt ourselves. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse will make your heart burst. We do sometimes forget the words love and also friendship then I recommend that you spend time with Charlie’s four remarkable friends and it is like a warm blanket on a cold winters night. I can feel my heart filling up as I write these words.

Voted as Waterstones Book of the Year for 2019 this will make the most beautiful Christmas gift for anyone of any age. Can I suggest that you go out and buy this book for yourself and one for anyone you know who is going through a difficult time. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

128 Pages.

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy was published by Ebury Press and was published on 10th October 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Violet by SJI Holliday

Violet Jacket

Violet by SJI Holliday


Carrie’s best friend has an accident and can no longer make the round-the-world trip they’d planned together, so Carrie decides to go it alone.

Violet is also travelling alone, after splitting up with her boyfriend in Thailand. She is also desperate for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express, but there is nothing available.

When the two women meet in a Beijing Hotel, Carrie makes the impulsive decision to invite Violet to take her best friend’s place.

Thrown together in a strange country, and the cramped cabin of the train, the women soon form a bond. But as the journey continues, through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel – because one of these women is not who she claims to be…

 My Review:

The first things that strikes you is the cover. It really caught my attention. There is something about Orenda Books and not only their authors but the jacket cover designers. They really are outstanding.

I have to say that I loved The Lingering and before that The Deaths of December by SJI Holliday. They are worth checking out especially The Deaths of December as that is a Christmas crime novel worth reading. Now SJI Holliday returns with Violet a chilling novel perfect for this cold winter evenings.

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To say this is dark is an understatement, it really is a dark and twisting psychological thriller that will have you glued to the plot all the way through.

Violet has just broken up with her boyfriend Sam and now she meets Carrie and the two end up travelling the world together. Two strangers who happen to meet but this is not going to be any trip for either of them

They end up on the Trans – Siberian Express sharing a cabin. They soon start to get to know each other but this is about to be tested as dark secrets and tension start to emerge. There is something so gripping as a thriller set on a long train journey. It is all here. Shattered and broken characters and minds. The pace is as fast as the changing scenery from the cabin. What are the motives of the two women? Something tells me we are not being told the truth and you get the feeling of unease with these two characters and each has an agenda but what exactly is it? I felt quite uneasy with Violet. Something about her made the hair on the back of neck stand up. This is a captivating and also compelling thriller that I dare you to try and put down. One not to be missed. If you are planning a long train journey ahead of Christmas, then Violet by SJI Holliday is one book I would pack.

276 Pages.

 Thank you Karen (Orenda Books) and also to Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the review copy of Violet by SJI Holliday.

Violet by SJI Holliday was published by Orenda Books and was published on 2019 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

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