Monday, 12 February 2018

The mother's secret


Love keeps us together

Sisters Kate and Georgie have always shared a close bond. While Kate enjoyed the freedoms of youth, Georgie remained at home. But now Georgie is grown up, it’s time she started exploring. 

Love can tear us apart

Their mother Jan loves her daughters with all her heart. So what if she kept them out of sight when they were young? She wanted to protect them.

What if your life was based on a lie?

Maybe there was another reason for Jan’s protective behaviour? If they ventured too far afield, it might destroy the facade of their childhood. This family is about to discover that while lies can cause pain, the truth could destroy them all.

About the author

Clare Swatman

Clare Swatman is a journalist for a number of weekly women's magazines. The Mother's Secret is her second novel. Clare was Features Editor for Bella and has written for BestWoman's Own and Real People. When not working on her next novel, she also writes for her local magazine as well as the travel pages for Take a Break. Clare lives in Hertfordshire with her 
husband and two boys.

My Review

An enjoyable read that whilst easy to read, explores more serious issues such as the loss of a child, bereavement, post-natal depression and child abduction. All these issues are sensitively dealt with and were far more interesting to me than the storyline itself. The story is well-told but to be honest it isn't that different from many other stories out there. I did like the ending and felt a kind of satisfaction that it wasn't the ending that the reader had been led to expect - a kind of non-twist that felt less contrived. I don't want to risk saying any more and risk spoiling it. Definitely worth a read.

Saturday, 10 February 2018



Book Blurb: In a razor-sharp legal thriller, Jack Kowalski must win two challenging trials to save his reputation and his career
Junior barrister Jack Kowalski is crushed. His client Timothy Smart appears to have committed a monstrous crime while on bail – a bail application Jack fought hard to win.
When a high-profile Polish footballer is charged with rape and demands a fellow countryman represent him, Jack must overcome his guilt and get back to work. Before long he takes on a second case, a GBH for instructing solicitor Lara Panassai, who Jack remains desperate to impress. But neither case is what it seems, and Jack will face an extraordinary uphill battle to see that justice is done…
The second Jack Kowalski novel, Unconvicted is a gripping courtroom drama written with the expert insight of a practicing criminal barrister, perfect for fans of William L. Myers, Deborah Hawkins, and Scott Turow.

Links to Book:
Author Bio:
Olly Jarvis is a writer and criminal defence barrister, originally from London but now working in Manchester. Drawing on his experiences, he writes both fiction and non-fiction with a particular understanding of the pressures and excitement of life in the courtroom. He wrote the highly acclaimed Radio 4 drama Judgement, and wrote and presented the BBC documentary Mum Knows Best. He is also the author of Death by Dangerous. Olly has two children and lives in Cheshire.

Twitter: @OllyJarviso

Olly Jarvis

Olly Jarvis is a writer and criminal defence barrister, originally from London but now based in Manchester.

Drawing on his experiences he writes both fiction and non-fiction with a particular understanding of the pressures and excitement of life in the English courtroom. He wrote highly acclaimed Radio 4 drama Judgement exploring a barrister’s thought processes whilst cross-examining a rape victim. His first novel, Death By Dangerous was long listed for the CWA Debut Dagger.

After leaving University, Olly travelled the world, teaching English, with stays in Paris, Singapore and Indonesia.

Years later, using his knowledge of the Indonesian language he returned to Sumatra where he wrote and presented a BBC documentary entitled Mum Knows Best, which compared two neighbouring tribes, one of which has a matrilineal system of inheritance.

My Review

Interesting book especially if you like Courtroom drama/ Police procedurals. This book has an added extra in that the protagonist is of Polish extraction so as a backdrop there is his relationship to those around him and the prejudice he receives from his peers. There are really three stories in this book and a fascinating insight into what goes on behind the scenes. The cases are obviously not clear cut so there are plenty of surprises along the way. The most important fact that the book deals with is not so much whether the person is guilty or not but that each defendant deserves the best defence until he has been found guilty. Our hero is quite naive and finds this concept difficult to deal with at first. I like the fact that he really is one of the good guys, which is borne out at the end.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Prosecco and promises


A feel-good story of self-discovery and love in the face of grief, join Mia in the beautiful Italian island of Ischia. Perfect for fans of Mhairi McFarlane, Lindsey Kelk and Lucy Vine.

Since her mother died when Mia was a child, her dad has been her best friend and her idol. Now, the cancer he survived years before is back, and this time there’s no fighting it. To make matters worse her dad’s last request is for Mia to leave him and visit her mother’s family on the Italian island of Ischia so she doesn’t have to be there at the end.
Arriving at the sun-soaked island, Mia is embraced by the warm, crazy family she doesn’t know. While she waits for the phone to ring with the dreaded news, Mia desperately looks for a connection to the mother she never knew. Stumbling upon an antique shop run by the charming Antonio and his grouchy but handsome grandson Salvatore, she throws herself into helping with the shop restoration. As Mia and Salvatore’s bickering soon turns to chemistry, will she risk having her heart broken when she knows what’s waiting for her at home?

A.L. Michael

A L Michael is a writer, currently living in Watford. She has a BA in English Literature with creative writing, and an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship, both from UEA. She also has an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes, where she researched the usefulness of therapeutic writing with those in recovery from eating disorders.

She writes books about women who are trying to figure out their place in the world, and who aren't afraid to make mistakes.

When she's not writing novels, she's working as a content writer, practicing yoga, looking at puppy videos or drinking too much red wine.

She is represented by Madeleine Milburn.

My Review

Having lost my own father two years ago, this book was very emotionally charged for me as Mia is sent away to Ischia by her dying father so that she won't be there at the end. This makes the book stand out as something different from the usual chick-lit fare and wasn't at all what I was expecting from the title. It's quite cathartic but I couldn't have read a book like this until recently. I loved the sense of place and the characters but it did feel as if there was a big black cloud hanging over the prose, despite the happy ending. Mia's crazy Italian family bring the story to life and I enjoyed watching Mia's relationship with Salvatore. I also like the way that her step-mother wasn't quite what Mia had thought either. An interesting and poignant read.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

The innocent wife


A young schoolteacher falls for a man on Death Row whom she believes is falsely accused, only to begin wondering after their marriage – and his release.

Twenty years ago Dennis Danson was arrested for the brutal murder of Holly Michaels in Florida’s Red River County. Now he’s the subject of a Making a Murderer-style true crime documentary that’s taking the world by storm – the filmmakers are whipping up a frenzy of coverage to uncover the truth and free the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice.

Samantha may be thousands of miles away in Britain, but she is as invested in Dennis’s case as any of his lawyers. Perhaps even more so, as her letters to the convicted killer grow ever more intimate. Soon she is leaving her life behind to marry Danson and campaign, as his wife, for his release.

But when the campaign is successful, and Dennis is freed, events begin to suggest that he may not be so innocent after all. How many girls went missing in Red River, and what does Dennis really know?

About the author

Amy Lloyd won the Daily Mail and Penguin Random House First Novel competition in 2016 with her thriller 'The Innocent Wife'.

My Review

If you've ever wondered what prompts a woman to fall in love with a man on Death Row, then this book goes some way to answering the question. In Samantha's case, she has a pretty dull life as a teacher and is looking to escape after the break-up with her boyfriend. She has anger management issues and it's clear that Dennis not only gives purpose to her life but he's safely behind bars. Thanks to the film crew and the efforts of the campaign to free Dennis, Samantha soon finds herself married to a man she barely knows and that's when the problems really begin. I enjoyed the suspense of not knowing if Dennis was guilty or not and whether Sam was in danger. Seeing how the world has moved on following Dennis's release is cleverly done and although the story is fairly predictable, it is well written.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The start of something wonderful


It’s never too late to follow your dreams… 
Forty-year-old air stewardess, Emily Forsyth, thought she had everything a woman could wish for: a glamorous, jet-set lifestyle, a designer wardrobe and a dishy pilot boyfriend. Until he breaks up with her…
Catapulted into a mid-life crisis she wishes she’d had earlier, she decides to turn her life upside-down, quitting her job and instead beginning to chase her long-held dreams of becoming an actress!
Leaving the skies behind her, Emily heads for the bright lights of London’s West End – but is it too late to reach for the stars?

About the author

Jane Lambert

My Review

This is a book many women will identify with - at forty something Emily Forsyth is at a crossroads and determined to make it as an actress. Her mother just wants her to settle down but fortunately her friends are supportive. I loved the route she took to get to where she wanted to be, even if it wasn't the most direct, she didn't let setbacks stop her and her career in rep is brilliantly funny. The story is told in a simple way but the themes are far-reaching. A really thought-provoking read that will hopefully encourage others to grab life by the shirt tails and make of it what they can - no more waiting for missed opportunities.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

The house of Christmas secrets



Release Date: 5TH DECEMBER 2017
Publisher: CHOC LIT
This year we’re just going to have a nice, normal Christmas…
Last year’s Christmas at Wrea Head Hall didn’t quite go to plan which is why Jess Croft is determined this festive season will be the one to remember, for the right reasons. And she has plenty of reasons to be hopeful, she’s going to marry the man of her dreams, Jack Stone, seven days after New Year’s Eve.

However, as family secrets are revealed in hidden letters and two unexpected guests turn up on the doorstep, Jess is left wondering whether her life will ever be the same again.

Can Jess and Jack still experience a peaceful festive season that they had imagined or are there some problems that even Christmas can’t fix?

House of Christmas Secrets  -
 House of Secrets  -  
Tell me no Secrets -  

Lynda Stacey 
Lynda grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire,
Her own chaotic life story, along with varied career choices helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.
Lynda joined the Romantic Novelist Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers Scheme and in 2015, her debut novel House of Secrets won the Choc Lit & Whole Story Audiobooks Search for a Star competition.
She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her husband, Haydn, whom she’s been happily married to for over 20 years.
Twitter: @Lyndastacey


2 x signed copies of House of Secrets (UK & Ireland)

My Review

I really enjoyed the first book, The house of Secrets, but I did wonder how Lynda Stacey could top it. After all there was a kidnapping, the murder of several of Jess's extended family as her half sister's psychopathic boyfriend went on the rampage. How much more trauma does Jess need? Fortunately once the story began, it proved just as engaging as the first although there was a fair bit of back story to wade through before the story proper began. Without wanting to spoil it, there it just as much drama in this book but with the added extra of a surprise Christmas ending. Very enjoyable but it's worth reading the first book before you do as it will make much more sense.