Thursday, 23 March 2023

After the Burning: Dystopian Stories by N.S. Ford - #spotlight


Being released today, I am shining the spotlight on After the Burning by N.S. Ford. Enjoy!

The Blurb

“Things did not vanish. They were cleansed away.”

Five spine-chillingly plausible tales for our times. In a society without books, a labourer makes a shocking discovery. An artist starts an underground club for art made by humans instead of artificial intelligence. Parents who refuse to have their baby implanted with a communications chip must fight for their rights. A child goes on a school trip to the extinct natural world. Just before a general election, everyone becomes addicted to a new superfood.

A must-read collection of dystopian stories. They are works of fiction but, unless we act now, will soon be a reality.

About the Author:

N S Ford is a book fanatic, blogger and cat lover who lives in the UK.

She is the author of two cross-genre psychological thrillers, We Watch You and They Lie Here, plus this new collection of dystopian short stories, After the Burning.

You can find her blog at:

Wednesday, 22 March 2023

Top Ten New Releases in April 2023


It seems no time at all since I was posting with the new releases for March. The months pass by so quickly and here I am, posting about some great new releases for April. Here are ten which have caught my eye. Is there anything that tickles your fancy?

The Maiden by Kate Foster

Inspired by a real-life case and winner of the Bloody Scotland Pitch Perfect Award, Kate Foster's The Maiden is a remarkable story with a feminist revisionist twist, giving a voice to women otherwise silenced by history.

Edinburgh, October 1679. Lady Christian is arrested and charged with the murder of her lover, James Forrester. News of her imprisonment and subsequent trial is splashed across the broadsides, with headlines that leave little room for doubt: Adulteress. Whore. Murderess.

Only a year before, Lady Christian was newly married, leading a life of privilege and respectability. So, what led her to risk everything for an affair? And does that make her guilty of murder? She wasn't the only woman in Forrester's life, and certainly not the only one who might have had cause to wish him dead...

Foxash by Kate Worsley

Worn out by poverty, Lettie Radley and her miner husband Tommy grasp at the offer of their very own smallholding - part of a Government scheme to put the unemployed back to work on the land. When she comes down to Essex to join him, it's not Tommy who greets her, but their new neighbours. Overbearing and unkempt, Jean and Adam Dell are everything that the smart, spirited, aspirational Lettie can't abide.

As Lettie settles in, she finds an unexpected joy in the rhythms of life on the smallholding. She's hopeful that her past, and the terrible secret Tommy has come to Foxash to escape, are far behind them. But the Dells have their own secrets. And as the seasons change, and a man comes knocking at the gate, the scene is set for a terrible reckoning.

Combining a gothic sensibility with a visceral, unsettling sense of place, Foxash is a deeply original novel of quiet and powerful menace, of the real hardships of rural life, and the myths and folklore that seep into ordinary lives - with surprising consequences.

Florence Nightingale's Sister by Lynn Hamilton

They say that behind every great man is a hard-working woman. Behind the titanic that was Florence Nightingale, there was a lesser-known sister, Frances Parthenope. 

While Florence achieved iconic fame for her work with wounded soldiers in the Crimea, Parthenope spent her days gathering supplies for those same soldiers, especially the ever-needed dry socks, and sending them overseas. With hands badly damaged by rheumatic fever, Parthenope tirelessly penned letters to Florence’s supporters and tactfully requested donations. 

Eventually, Parthenope married and turned her writing talents to fiction and non-fiction that exposed Victorian injustices toward the poor and women. Florence Nightingale’s older sister never achieved the fame that came to the “Lady of the Lamp.” However, in her own right, Frances Parthenope Verney was a great Victorian. A novelist, journalist, and activist, she supported her sister’s reform of the medical profession while being a thought influencer on the subject of the urban poor and the British peasantry.

Dust Child by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

In 1969, two sisters from rural Việt Nam leave their parents' home and travel to the bustling city of Sài Gòn. Soon their lives are swept up in the unstoppable flames of a war that is blazing through their country. They begin working as 'bar girls' in one of the drinking dens frequented by American GIs, forced to accept that survival now might mean compromising the values they once treasured. 

Decades later, two men wander through the streets and marketplaces of a very different Sài Gòn: modern, forward-looking, healing. Phong – the son of a Black American soldier and a Vietnamese woman – embarks on a search to find his parents and a way out of Việt Nam, while Dan, a war veteran, hopes that retracing the steps of his youth will ease the PTSD that has plagued him for decades.

When the lives of these unforgettable characters converge, each is forced to reckon with the explosive events of history that still ripple through their lives. Now they must work out what it takes to move forward in this richly poetic saga from Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai at her very best.

The Royal Bastards of Twelfth Century England by James Turner

The many storied monarchs of twelfth century England lived, fought, loved, and died surrounded by their illegitimate relatives. While their many contributions have too often been overlooked, these illegitimate sons, daughters and siblings occupied crucial positions within the edifice of royal authority, serving their legitimate relatives as proxies and lieutenants. 

In addition to occupying roles and offices at the centre of royal administration, Anglo-Norman and Angevin royal bastards, exiled to the fringes of family identity by a twist of fate, provided the kings of England with military and political support from amidst the aristocratic affinities into which they were embedded. Rather than merely inert pieces on the dynastic game board or passive conduits of royal association, these men and women were engaged participants in contemporary politics, proactively cultivating and shaping the thrones' relationship with its principal subjects. 

This book, the first full length study dedicated to the subject, examines the seminal conflicts and changing shape of the royal dynasty during a period of turbulent and formative development in the nature and institutions royal government through the rarely before accessed perspective of the reigning monarchs' illegitimate family members and deputies. 

More than that this study aims, as far as possible, to illuminate and bring to life the lives, triumphs and tragedies of these fascinating half-forgotten personages. The victims of a rapid and profound demographic and social change which drastically recontextualised their position with royal family identity and aristocratic society, the bastards of the English royal family found new methods to survive and thrive.

The Viscount's Daring Miss by Lotte R. James

When her best friend and employer is injured, groom Roberta ‘Bobby’ Kingsley feels compelled to help him. She agrees to step into the saddle and compete in an endurance horse race to help secure his ancestral home. Yet the minute Bobby comes face to face with her opponent ― arrogant yet infuriatingly charismatic Lawrence, Viscount Hayes ― it’s clear that it won’t just be the competition that has her heart racing!

The House That Made Us by Alice Cavanagh

When Mac and Marie marry and find a home of their own, Mac takes a snap of them outside their newbuild bungalow, the garden bare and the paint on the front door still wet. It becomes a tradition, this snap, and slowly the photographs build into an album of a fifty-year relationship.
Every year they take a photo and though things change around them – the garden matures, the fashions change, they grow older – the one constant is their love. Every year, come rain, come shine, from the Seventies through the decades, every photo tells the story of their love. But life never travels the path you expect it to, though they know that a life with love is a life lived to the full.

Now, in the present day, the photo album belongs to someone who doesn’t know the people in its pages. As they watch the lives from the past unfold, will the truth of their love story be told…?

Ada's Realm by Sharon Dodua Otoo

WHERE IS ADA? - In a small village in West Africa, in what will one day become Ghana, Ada gives birth again, and again the baby does not live. As she grieves the loss of her child, Portuguese traders become the first white men to arrive in the village, an event that will bear terrible repercussions for Ada and her kin.

WHEN IS ADA? - Centuries later, Ada will become the mathematical genius Ada Lovelace; Ada, a prisoner forced into prostitution in a Nazi concentration camp; and Ada, a young, pregnant Ghanaian woman with a new British passport who arrives in Berlin in 2019 for a fresh start.

WHO IS ADA? - Ada is not one woman, but many, and she is all women - she revolves in orbits, looping from one century and from one place to the next. And so, she experiences the hardship but also the joy of womanhood: she is a victim, she offers resistance, and she fights for her independence.

This long-awaited debut from Sharon Dodua Otoo paints an astonishing picture of femininity, resilience and struggle with deep empathy and humour, with vivid language and infinite imagination.

In a Thousand Different Ways by Cecelia Ahern

Finding your way is never a simple journey…

Alice sees the worst in people.

She also sees the best.
She sees a thousand different emotions and knows exactly what everyone around her is feeling.
Every. Single. Day.

But it’s the dark thoughts.
The sadness. The rage.
These are the things she can’t get out of her head. The things that overwhelm her.

Where will the journey to find herself begin?

Living in Early Victorian London by Michael Alpert

London in the 1840s was sprawling and smoke-filled, a city of extreme wealth and abject poverty. Some streets were elegant with brilliantly gas-lit shop windows full of expensive items, while others were narrow, fetid, muddy, and in many cases foul with refuse and human filth. Railways, stations and sidings were devouring whole districts and creating acres of slums or ‘rookeries’ into which the poor of the city were jammed and where crime, disease and prostitution were rife. 

The most sensational crime of the epoch, the murder of Patrick O’Connor by Frederick and Maria Manning, filled the press in the summer and autumn of 1849. Michael Alpert uses the trial record of this murder, accompanied by numerous other contemporary sources, among them journalism, diaries and fiction, to show how day-to-day lives, birth, death, sickness, work, shopping, cooking, and buying clothes, were lived in the crowded, noisy capital in the early decades of Victoria’s reign. These sources illustrate how ordinary people lived in London, their incomes, entertainments, religious practice, reading and education, their hopes and anxieties. 

Life in Early Victorian London reveals how ordinary people like the Mannings and thousands of others experienced their multifaceted lives in the greatest capital city of the world. Early Victorian London lived on the cusp of great improvements, but it was a city which in some aspects was mediaeval. Its inhabitants enjoyed the benefit of the Penny Post and the omnibus, and they were protected to some extent by a police force. The Mannings fled their crime on the railway, were trapped by the recently-invented telegraph and arrested by ‘detectives’ (a new concept and word), but they were hanged in public as murderers had been for centuries, watched by a baying, drunken and swearing mob.


Monday, 20 March 2023

Just Like That by Nina Kaye - #CoverReveal

 I love a good book cover so I have been very excited keeping this one under wraps until today.

So, without further ado, here is the cover for Just Like That by Nina Kaye, along with a bit of info about the book. 

The Blurb 

Can she save a failing wildlife park and her love life?

Jess is smashing her events management job right now. Her boss is talking about a promotion, her clients love her and other companies want her. But all of that comes to an abrupt halt when her brother has a sudden stroke. Jess doesn’t think twice about stepping in as his carer, but her boss is not so understanding.

Demoted to managing low-end events, Jess is less than thrilled to be assigned to a small animal park in need of raising funds. She’s even less happy when she clashes with arrogant head keeper, Nick. He's frustrated with her squeamishness; she thinks he’s a lech. Nick wants a baggage-free life; Jess has so much drama going on, even the Kardashians can’t keep up.

But maybe saving the animals of East Lothian Wildlife Park will help these op-paw-sites find some common ground…

A stunning romance, filled with humour and heart, perfect for fans of Mhairi McFarlane, Miranda Dickinson and Laura Jane Williams.

Thursday, 16 March 2023

A Most Unusual Demise by Katherine Black - #BlogTour #Excerpt


I am excited to be bringing you an excerpt from this book today, as part of the blog tour. Any book with a dog on the cover has to be good. Right?

A Most Unusual Demise by Katherine Black.

The Blurb

Retired librarian and bookshop owner May Morrigan lives in the affluent village of Blackheath with Fletcher, her best friend since they met decades ago, and May’s two dogs. What could be more normal? But May is not your average little old lady . . .

After an unpleasant church volunteer and an annoying local butcher meet their untimely ends, Fletcher and May team up to do some sleuthing. Soon, the elderly pair start working with a young journalist to investigate the case of a missing girl and its possible link to previous unsolved crimes. May finds this new project quite intriguing. She’s never met a murderer before—and now she just may get the chance, if they play their cards right . . .


Back home, May warmed her still elegant hands over the radiator in her front room. Her

home, a regal double-fronted Georgian named Greenway, stood on a slight rise, providing a

picturesque view across the heath to St Julian’s church and Blackheath Village on the other

side. She could almost believe that she lived in a countryside hamlet, if not for the traffic and

the glass towers of Canary Wharf on the horizon.

Greenway, built in 1730, was a popular brothel until May’s great-great-grandfather won the

house in a game of cards in the back room of the Three Tuns. The following week the

harlots moved out and the Morrigan clan moved in. A Morrigan had lived there ever since.

May had been born, kicking and screaming, in an upstairs bedroom. After a decade away,

first studying and then travelling, the death of her father had pulled her back to Blackheath.

She brought a husband, James, with her and they made Greenway their home. May knew

every inch of the building, from the chimney pots on the roof to the darkest depths of the


She looked out at the heath, with its big sky and open space. It comforted May. Like her

home, it was a constant. On her desk were vintage postcards from the 1800s, and it was

much the same. Same buildings, same green with the church perched on one side and the

village crowding around the upper corner. It had all existed long before May and would

continue long after.

James had been gone for over a year, after two years of fighting that wretched disease. May

had given herself over to grief, mourned her loss, and now it was time to move forward.

Today was about new beginnings, about making the most of the time she had left. She ran

her hand across the pocket of her cardigan, feeling the reassuring shape of the little

container. Yes, it would be a pleasure to take charge of her life again.

Tuesday, 14 March 2023

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler - #Bookreview

I lost an arm on my last trip home. My left arm.

And I lost about a year of my life and much of the comfort and security I had not valued until it was gone. When the police released Kevin, he came to the hospital and stayed with me so that I would know I hadn't lost him too.

But before he could come to me, I had to convince the police that he did not belong in jail. That took time. The police were shadows who appreared intermittently at my bedside to ask me questions I had to struggle to understand.


In 1976, Dana dreams of being a writer. In 1815, she is assumed a slave.

When Dana first meets Rufus on a Maryland plantation, he's drowning. She saves his life - and it will happen again and again.

Neither of them understands his power to summon her whenever his life is threatened, nor the significance of the ties that bind them.

And each time Dana saves him, the more aware she is that her own life might be over before it's even begun.

This is the extraordinary story of two people bound by blood, separated by so much more than time.


This book was a little out of my reading comfort zone. However, I am so glad that I read it as it was fantastic and I enjoyed every page.

It was chosen for my book group read this month and I cannot wait to hear what my fellow book group members thought of it.

It is said to be the first science fiction novel written by a woman of colour. What pulled me so completely into this is the time travel element as it meant that many sections read like historical fiction, of which I am a devoted fan.

The main character, Dana, is a fully fleshed character and it was interesting to read about her in both time periods. For me, the most interesting parts of the novel were when she is called back in time to the plantation owned by her white ancestors. As a black woman she must assume the role of a slave while she waits to be transported back to 1976.

Although time travel is the device used to enable the reader to understand the history surrounding  slavery through twentieth century eyes, it is about so much more. The community formed by the slaves and the terrible lives that they had as possessions of a white owner were difficult to read at times. Punishments by white owners were handed out with little thought, and for those who survived, it was interesting to observe the way in which they learned to adapt to life as slaves.

This novel is about gender, race and survival. It is about how an educated modern black American woman witnessed and lived in one of the most atrocious periods in history. It is one of the best books I have read this year.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to those interested in historical fiction, science fiction and black history. I am definitely going to check out some of Ms. Butler's other books and venture a little further into the science fiction genre.

About the Author:

Octavia E. Butler was a renowned African American author who received a MacArthur “Genius” Grant and PEN West Lifetime Achievement Award for her body of work. Born in Pasadena in 1947, she was raised by her mother and her grandmother.  She was the author of several award-winning novels including Parable of the Sower (1993), which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Parable of the Talents (1995) winner of the Nebula Award for the best science fiction novel published that year. She was acclaimed for her lean prose, strong protagonists, and social observations in stories that range from the distant past to the far future.

She passed away on February 24, 2006. At the time of her death, interest in her books was beginning to rise, and in recent years, sales of her books have increased enormously as the issues she addressed in her Afro-Futuristic, feminist novels and short fiction have only become more relevant.

(Author photo and bio. information courtesy of the authors website )

Thursday, 9 March 2023

The Perfect Lie by Jo Spain - #BookReview


The day your life changes can begin in the most ordinary way. Danny's arm is draped across my body and I wake to the feel of him stirring. His hand cups my face. I sense he's actually been awake a while; that he might, in fact, have been watching me.

'You had a nightmare,' he says.

I crawl into the space of his body and inhale him.

I had a nightmare, again.

I never have to pretend with Danny.

My husband knows my history, all the things that haunt me. The bad dreams are frequent, even after all this time...


He jumped to his death in front of witnesses. Now his wife is charged with murder.

Five years ago, Erin Kennedy moved to New York following a family tragedy. She now lives happily with her detective husband in the scenic seaside town of Newport, Long Island. When Erin answers the door to Danny's police colleagues one morning, it's the start of an ordinary day. But behind her, Danny walks to the window of their fourth-floor apartment and jumps to his death.

Eighteen months later, Erin is in court, charged with her husband's murder. Over that year and a half, Erin has learned things about Danny she could never have imagined. She thought he was perfect. She thought their life was perfect.

But it was all built on the perfect lie.


This book begins with one of the most intriguing storylines. Within the first few pages we observe Erin's husband commit suicide in front of other witnesses. How then, is she on trial for his murder? This most unlikely of beginnings leads the reader on an interesting journey before the truth is revealed.

I have previously read and enjoyed The Confession by this author so I was hoping that this book would be every bit as good as that. In fact, I think The Perfect Lie surpassed my expectations, keeping me turning the pages to discover how something so unlikely could be explained.

The main character, Erin, was utterly believable and likeable and the author clearly intended our sympathies to lie with her. There was also a collection of more minor characters which aided in carrying the plot along.

It is a pacey read that kept the story moving with a suitable mixture of dialogue, narration and description.

There is a dual storyline between Erin who has chapters entitled Then and Now, and also Lauren's story, set at Harvard. I initially struggled to reconise the connection between these two characters, but the author expertly weaves the two strands together in a way which took me by surprise.

This was an addictive read which will keep you turning the pages way past bedtime.

ISBN: 978 1529407273

Publisher:  Quercus

Formats:  e-book, audio, hardback and paperback

No. of Pages:  400 (paperback)

About the Author:

Jo Spain is the author of the bestselling Inspector Tom Reynolds series and several international No. 1 bestselling standalone novels. Her first book, With Our Blessing, was a finalist in the 2015 Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller.

Jo, a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, writes TV screenplays full-time. Her first crime series was broadcast on RTE in 2018 and she's currently involved in a number of TV developments including adaptations of her own novels. In 2021, she co-wrote Harry Wild, starring Jane Seymour, with the Emmy award-winning David Logan (aired in 2022).

Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and four young children. In her spare time (she has four children, there is no spare time really) she likes to read. Her favourite authors include Pierre Lemaitre, Jo Nesbo, Liane Moriarty, Fred Vargas and Jodi Picoult. She also watches TV obsessively.

Jo thinks up her plots on long runs in the woods. Her husband sleeps with one eye open.

(book courtesy of NetGalley)
(author photo and bio. info. courtesy of Good Reads)

Friday, 3 March 2023

Where We Belong by Sarah Bennett - #BookReview #BlogTour

Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. Hope Travers groaned as the harsh sound of he alarm dragged her from the depths of sleep. Having tossed and turned for most of the night, she'd finally managed to drift off sometime after the church clock in the village had chimed a distant single note. There'd been a few complaints about the chimes over the years, mostly from weekend commuters who liked the idea of a pretty house in the country more than the realities of village life, but Hope found them soothing. The alarm buzzed again and she flailed her arm towards the bedside cabinet, knocking the phone off and under the bed in the process.

Buzz. Buzz. Buzz.


On paper, Hope Travers has an idyllic life.

Living in a bustling farmhouse with her mum, aunt and uncles, cousin and too many dogs to count, surrounded by the breath-taking Cotswolds countryside, she knows she is privileged and protected.

But all families have secrets, and the Travers family are no exception. Their farmhouse sits in the grounds of the Juniper Meadows estate, passed down through the generations and now being made to pay its own way with a myriad of businesses and projects. When a construction crew uncover what appear to be historical ruins, the history of the Travers family is put under ever closer scrutiny as a dig gets underway.

Hope may have found a blossoming romance with local archaeologist Cameron Ferguson who is running the dig, but when things start to go wrong around the estate and family secrets begin to be revealed, Hope wonders if she’s made a big mistake in digging up the past.


In this book, the author demonstrates her excellent storytelling skills. It's themes of love, secrets and belonging run throughout the book and are portrayed through a cast of characters who are all as charming as this book is.

In fact, I think I am a little in love with Cam, who is one of the main characters. He, alongside the other main character Hope, make for a heartfelt romance which runs throughout this book. Ms. Bennett allows the readers to familiarise themselves with the characters in this book. It is utterly charming, and I am thrilled that it is the first in a planned series. 

Set in the beauty of a rural Cotswolds village, I particularly liked the community spirit which is portrayed within it's pages. Not just by the family but by the village residents also.

I have never read any books by this author, but I am already greatly anticipating the next book in the series. In the meantime, I will be delving into some of her already published novels.

ISBN:  978 1804833155

Publisher:  Boldwood Books

Formats:  e-book, hardback, audio and paperback

No. of Pages:  336 (paperback)

About the Author:

Sarah Bennett is the bestselling author of several romantic fiction trilogies including those set in Butterfly Cove and Lavender Bay.

Born and raised in a military family she is happily married to her
own Officer and when not reading or writing enjoys sailing the high seas.

(ARC, author photo and bio info courtesy of the publishers/NetGalley)