Thursday, 23 March 2023

Twelve Secrets by Robert Gold #TwelveSecrets @books_gold @BooksSphere #BookReview

 


Ben Harper's life changed for ever the day his older brother Nick was murdered by two classmates. It was a crime that shocked the nation and catapulted Ben's family and their idyllic hometown, Haddley, into the spotlight.

Twenty years on, Ben is one of the best investigative journalists in the country and settled back in Haddley, thanks to the support of its close-knit community. But then a fresh murder case shines new light on his brother's death and throws suspicion on those closest to him.

Ben is about to discover that in Haddley no one is as they seem. Everyone has something to hide.

And someone will do anything to keep the truth buried . . .




Twelve Secrets by Robert Gold was published in paperback by Sphere on 8 December 2022. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 


This book has been sitting on my shelves for months, waiting to be read. My husband recently read the digital copy and loved it, so I knew it was time to read it. This was my first read of my recent holiday, and due to a five-hour delay on the flight (snow!), I managed to read most of it in one sitting. 

What a fabulous story this is and what an amazing debut from an author who really knows how to put a plot together. 

Ben Harper works as a journalist, he's very good at his job. He writes about crime and has become very successful. Ben's life has always been overshadowed by the brutal murder of his own brother who was killed, aged just fourteen, along with his friend, by two teenage girls. Ben's mother also died tragically ten years ago and it is the anniversary of this event that spurs on the whole story.

Ben's boss wants an article about his mother's death. Ben would rather not thrust his family into the spotlight again. He's had enough of that infamy and would really rather grieve in peace. However, when a murder is reported in a small town, Ben cannot help but get involved. The murder seems to be a copycat killing, relating to his brother, and when the identity of the victim is revealed, Ben knows that he has to investigate. 

The reader is taken to the small town of Haddley, the place where Ben grew up and where his family members died. The author gives various characters their own voices and the reader can never know quite who to trust.

I admit to having one of those 'sitting there with your gob hanging open' moments during one of the reveals. It's so cleverly done and everything surprised me, although really, nothing should surprise me! 

This is the first of a series and I already have a copy of the next book. I cannot wait to see what's next in store for Ben. Highly recommended. 



Originally from Harrogate in North Yorkshire, Robert Gold began his career as an intern at the
American broadcaster CNN, based in Washington DC. 

He returned to Yorkshire to work for the retailer ASDA, becoming the chain's nationwide book buyer.

He now works in sales for a UK publishing company.

Robert now lives in Putney and his new hometown served as the inspiration for the fictional town of Haddley in his thrillers, Twelve Secrets, an Irish Times bestseller, and Eleven Liars, publishing in 2023.






Wednesday, 22 March 2023

The Venice Secret by Anita Chapman BLOG TOUR #TheVeniceSecret @neetschapman @RandomTTours #BookReview

 


One hidden painting. Two women born centuries apart. A secret uncovered.

In 2019, Rachel is stuck in a rut when she discovers what appears to be a Canaletto painting in her grandmother's loft along with a note addressed to Philippa in 1782. With help from Jake at the local art gallery, Rachel endeavours to find out if the painting is an original and uncovers a secret from the past.

In 1780, governess at Chipford Hall, Philippa is offered the role of mistress by Earl Rupert. She escapes to Venice as companion to bluestocking, Lady Cordelia who reveals a secret that changes both their lives. They do their best to keep the secret from Lady Cordelia's social circle, but their nemesis is determined to reveal all and ruin them.



The Venice Secret by Anita Chapman was published on 1 March 2023. My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour. 




The Venice Secret is Anita Chapman's debut novel, and what a wonderful wonderful read it is. Expertly crafted and beautifully written, this has shot straight into my top books of the year list. 

I do love a dual-time narrative, and this author has done this so very well. It is perfectly paced, with alternate chapters moving between the modern day and then whisking the reader back to 1780. Sometimes, when reading a novel of this structure, it can be easy to become more involved with one of the time lines.  Not this this one!  Both narratives are compelling and thrilling, featuring female lead characters that are so well crafted, so likeable and strong. It's fascinating to look at how their lives differed in the two eras, yet for the male characters, not so much has changed! 

In 2019, Rachel is at something of a crossroads in her life. She's been made redundant, has split from her partner and has found herself living with her mother in the house that they inherited from her grandmother. She has very little money and desperately needs a job.  When she discovers an old painting, wrapped in brown paper, in the loft of the house, she's intrigued. There's also a handwritten note alongside it and it's clear that both the painting and the letter date back hundreds of years. Determined to discover if she's stumbled upon an original painting by Venetian artist Caneletto, she visits a nearby gallery and she and the gallery owner, Jake, embark on a journey to discover the truth.

In 1780, Philippa, the daughter of a local vicar must also find employment. Her father died leaving many debts and she and her mother must now earn their keep. Philippa is taken on as a Governess at Chipley Hall. The master of the house agrees to pay off the debts and give her a reduced income in return. When young Lord Rupert returns from his european Grand Tour, Philippa is more than a little dazzled by him. He's a smooth talker, with lots of experience and naive Philippa appears to be no match for him. 
Caneletto and his paintings form a big part of Philippa and Rupert's story. He brought them back from Venice recently and Philippa finds them to be delightful. 

It becomes clear however, that Philippa cannot stay at Chipley Hall, and accepts an offer from wealthy Lady Cordelia who intends to take her own Grand Tour, to research her latest novel. Philippa will be her companion. With mixed feelings, they set off on the tour, yet once again, it appears that Philippa has been misled, and the rich and wealthy believe that she's a woman who can be manipulated. 

Anita Chapman weaves a magical story, full of colour and life. The descriptions of the journey to Europe is at times quite terrifying,  yet the beauty and splendour of the countryside and sights are joyful. 

The modern day tale is also expertly executed. Dealing with relevant social issues that affect women, and the burgeoning relationship between Rachel and Jake, it's both compelling and intriguing. 

A story to relish and to treasure. I was totally captivated by both the plot and the writing style and can only look forward to seeing what this talented author writes next. Highly recommended. 






Praise for The Venice Secret 

'A beautifully-crafted story of love, loyalty and self-discovery, drawing together past and present in an irresistible romantic mystery.' Nicola Cornick

'Past and present intertwine in this fabulously intriguing mix of history, mystery and romance.' Celia Rees

'An intriguing tale of secrets and love.' Liz Fenwick

'Meticulously researched and a brilliant, intriguing plot that had me turning the pages as fast as I could.' Jules Wake aka Julie Caplin

'A fascinating dual time debut with enchanting descriptions of a vibrant eighteenth century Venice. Beautifully researched and interspersed with an engaging present day mystery, this was a charming read.' Jenni Keer

'A well-researched and beautifully told dual timeline story which takes the reader from present day England to 18th century Venice. Combining intrigue, romance and mystery, I was hooked from the very first page.' Clare Marchant

'The Venice Secret is a thoroughly engaging dual time story set partly in the 18th century and partly in the present. Full of romance, secrets and intrigue, it takes the reader on an exhilarating journey to solve a historical mystery - and what a journey it is! Following the chance discovery by the heroine in the present of a painting that could possibly be by the famous artist Canaletto, she sets out to prove its provenance. Along the way, she also finds herself and a new purpose to her life. Meanwhile, the heroine in the past has to navigate a difficult path between what is right and what her heart tells her to do. We follow both of them via sumptuous country mansions in the UK, across Europe and to the stunning city of Venice, the sights and sounds beautifully described by the author. I felt as though I was there, walking down those narrow alleys, visiting the famous piazzas and travelling along the canals. And as someone who loves programmes like Fake or Fortune, this book was right up my street!' Christina Courtenay

'Anita Chapman takes us on a mystery journey, linked by a painting. A strongly contrasted story with a rich mix of Grand Tours, country houses and genteel eighteenth-century behaviour, threaded with a modern-day heroine and her chaotic lifestyle. Travel from your sofa with this intriguing romance.' Angela Petch

'Anita Chapman sweeps the reader backward and forward in time in this well-researched story. Each character plays her or his part in bringing the dual timelines together beautifully. I recommend you read it!' Sue Moorcroft

'A delightful dual timeline debut. Impeccably researched and perfectly plotted with sumptuous descriptions, fascinating characters, plenty of romance and a captivating mystery. It's got everything I love in a story.' Donna Ashcroft



Anita Chapman enjoyed writing stories from a young age, and won a local writing competition when she was nine years old. Encouraged by this, she typed up a series of stories about a mouse on her mum’s typewriter and sent them to Ladybird. She received a polite rejection letter, her first.

Many of Anita’s summers growing up were spent with her family driving to Italy, and she went on to study French and Italian at university. As part of her degree, Anita lived in Siena for several months where she studied and au paired, and she spent a lot of time travelling around Italy in her twenties.
 
Anita likes to read journals and diaries from the past, and one of her favourite pastimes is visiting art galleries and country houses. 

Her first published novel, The Venice Secret is inspired by her mother taking her to see the Canalettos at The National Gallery in London as a child. 

Since 2015, Anita has worked as a social media manager, training authors on social media, and helping to promote their books. She’s run several courses in London and York, and has worked as a tutor at Richmond and Hillcroft Adult Community College.


 

 
Facebook Page: Anita Chapman Author 
 
Instagram: @neetschapman

TikTok: @neetschapman






Wednesday, 8 March 2023

One Moment by Becky Hunter BLOG TOUR #OneMoment @bookish_becky @CorvusBooks @RandomTTours #AuthorGuestPost

 


One moment in time can change everything...

The day Scarlett dies should have been one of the most important of her life. It doesn't feel fair that she'll never have the chance to fulfil her dreams. And now, she's still ... here - wherever here is - watching the ripple effect of her death on the lives of those she loved the most.

Evie cannot contemplate her life without Scarlett, and she certainly cannot forgive Nate, the man she blames for her best friend's death. But Nate keeps popping up when she least expects him to, catapulting Evie's life in directions she'd never let herself imagine possible. Ways, perhaps, even those closest to her had long since given up on.

If you could go back, knowing everything that happens after, everything that happens because of that one moment in time, would you change the course of history or would you do it all again?




One Moment by Becky Hunter was published in hardback on 2 March 2023 by Corvus. I adored this amazing debut from an astonishing new voice in fiction. My review will be published in S Magazine very soon.

As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour I am delighted to welcome the author here today, with a fabulous guest post. 





Guest Post from Becky Hunter

Why ONE MOMENT is such a ‘moment’ for me…

I have been trying to write for over ten years, dreaming of having my name on the front of a book. In actual fact, I first tried to write a book when I was eleven, on the very first computer in our house – big and clunky and with the dial up tone we all grew to love. It was called THE GHOST, and was, unsurprisingly about a ghost – and the girl who fell in love with him (and a necklace that was a beautiful, perfect triangle, as far as I can recall). I remember writing it as a short story, and reading the story to my dad’s girlfriend at the time, who asked if it was just the beginning of a book… I vividly recall sitting at the computer and forcing my older sister, Jenny, who is nearly 10 years older than me and was much better at typing than me, to type out the story as I dictated (something my niece, Jenny’s daughter, now does to me – it all comes full circle…). We were supposed to be going somewhere and were being told to hurry up, but I was refusing to leave until we got to a certain point in the story. I don’t know how or why, but at this point I managed to do something on the computer – and I deleted The. Entire. Thing. Jenny was so cross – this had been hours of work – and I was distraught. My future bestselling novel was GONE! She managed to see the funny side and we kept going and tried to remember the story. I have no idea where THE GHOST is now, lost somewhere on a very old computer, but it definitely kindled a love of writing.

Aside from the brilliance of THE GHOST, I first seriously tried to write a book when I was twenty-one, still at university. All good writers love to read, and I was no different, and I wrote the sort of thing I was reading at the time – a YA novel with a love triangle… I was convinced it was brilliant and would be a future bestseller. Needless to say, I was wrong, but I’m so glad I had this weird conviction at the time, because it made me see it through to the end – something I certainly wouldn’t have had the courage to do if I’d known just how hard writing a book and getting it published was. I wrote two more full novels before getting an agent, and had to learn a lot. I spent hours online, looking up writing techniques, and signed up for a creative writing course, paying on my credit card and convinced that it was an ‘investment.’. When I did get an agent, I was convinced that was it – my big break. I’d also started working in publishing by this point as a publicity assistant at Transworld, but I was still very much still na├»ve when it came to just how difficult and competitive this industry can be. 

Despite getting an agent, that book did not sell to publishers. I was distraught. I then tried to ‘panic write’ a novel, seeing what was doing well in the market and trying to write something that fit. It didn’t work – the book was really not very good. I had a few conversations with lovely agents along the way, who I was lucky enough to meet through my job, who gave me lots of advice and told me to keep going. In the meantime, I got a bit distracted by my job – I love working in book PR, but it can be a bit all-encompassing at times, with lots of out of hours work, and a lot of time spent reading for work (a great thing – but time consuming). In 2019, I took a career break and moved to Mozambique to volunteer with horses. It was fantastic. In 2020, I was looking after six horses on an island of the coast of Mozambique, when the pandemic hit – and I got stuck there. I say ‘stuck’ but it was really the best thing that could have happened. Everyone was isolating, I just happened to be doing so on a tropical island in the Indian ocean… It was at this point that I started taking my writing more seriously. I wrote another book – it didn’t actually go on to get published (still!), but it was definitely the best thing I’d written. With that book I got my now agent, and from that came One Moment. 

ONE MOMENT is the book that finally made it – the one that has my name on it and is published, in hardback, no less – the actual dream! It was the story that felt most natural to write, and I suppose that is why it made it. I’ve always loved a touch of the speculative in fiction, but I never thought I could pull it off – and I suppose it took until now for me to be brave enough to try. I’ve also always loved love stories – but again, for some reason I just hadn’t thought to write one before, and it was only in trying it that I realised I could. I also do think those years of ‘near misses’ were all practice – hopefully my writing improved as a result, and hopefully it will continue to get better!

It's taken me a while to get to this point, but the hard work has been worth it – and I hope it means that I won’t give up, should I hit more obstacles along the writing journey! It’s such a thrill to be here, featured as a blog post, which is something I have wanted for many of my authors in the past. So, thank you for having me, and if you do read ONE MOMENT then I hope you enjoy it! 



Praise for One Moment 

A thought-provoking and moving novel about loss, love, and the unique and life-affirming power of friendship. Poignant yet unwaveringly hopeful, One Moment is a fresh look at how grief can not only break us, but put us back together again. An unmissable debut. ― Holly Miller

'Completely involving. An emotional read about love and trust, with an OMG ending -- Jill Mansell

A joy from start to finish -- Sheila O'Flanagan. No. 1 bestselling author

An exquisitely written novel about grief, hope and the power of love. I loved every word. -- Cathy Bramley, Sunday Times bestselling author

Beautiful, hopeful, deeply emotional, incredibly wise and wonderfully romantic. One of those books I feel stronger for reading -- Cressida McLaughlin

Fantastic. Incredibly moving and very thoughtfully written -- Harriet Tyce

I adored this emotional debut from Becky Hunter. It's such a gorgeous tale of love and friendship, beautifully written and with characters you really believe in. ― Georgina Moore, author of The Garnett Girls

This stunning debut explores grief, love and friendship in a beautiful and original way - a powerful read full of both moving and joyful moments ― My Weekly

Sharp, funny, tear-jerking, so assured and well observed. What a debut! -- ELizabeth Buchan

A warm and thoughtful novel that skewers friendship, loss and negotiating grief in a touching and relatable way. I was completely caught up in Evie and Scarlet's stories. -- Fanny Blake

A poignant, uplifting and life-affirming tale of friendship, love, grief and learning to let go. It'll have you welling up one moment and smiling the next. And by the end, your heart will feel a little fuller. ― CultureFly

A hugely accomplished debut about dying, grief and loss, but also learning to live again. It's about love in all its forms, and, despite its subject matter, it manages to be uplifting and life-affirming. It's a story that will stay with me for a long time. -- Claire Frost

So moving and uplifting - I have no doubt that readers will fall in love -- Emylia Hall

An engaging story about love, true friendship and sacrifice ― Candis



Becky grew up in Berkshire, UK, and has loved reading since before she can remember. After
studying social sciences at Cambridge university, this love of reading led her to a career in publishing, where she worked as a book publicist in London for several years before taking a career break and moving to Mozambique to volunteer with horses. It was here that she decided to give writing a proper go, though it was still a few years, a few more destinations, and a couple more jobs before she had the idea that would become ONE MOMENT, her debut novel.

She currently splits her time between London, Bristol and Falmouth, and works as a freelance book publicist and editor, alongside her own writing.

Find Becky on Twitter (@Bookish_Becky) or Instagram (beckyhunterbooks) - she'd love to hear from you!





Love and Care by Shaun Deeney BLOG TOUR #LoveAndCare @shaun_deeney @Octopus_Books @RandomTTours #BookExtract

 


Shaun is finally free of responsibilities to anyone but himself; single, with two grown up daughters, he is just embarking on a new life in a new country when he gets a call to say his father is dying.

His mother has Parkinson's Dementia and is in a care home. Shaun faces a stark choice: should he give up his new-found freedom, or turn his back on the woman he'd fought so hard to protect, not least from his own father?

Shaun's mother had loved and cared for her son all her life. Could he now do the same for her?



Love and Care by Shaun Deeney was published in paperback on 9 February 2023 by Octopus Books.

As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you today. 



Extract from Love and Care by Shaun Deeney

I hold my mother under each arm as she takes tiny shuffling steps towards the car, and open the passenger door to ease her slowly back onto the seat. I lift her skinny legs one by one into the footwell and make sure her slippered feet are flat on the floor. 

'Where are we going?' she asks, as I lean over to buckle her seatbelt. 

'For a rest,' I say, 'to a nice place. With your own room.'

'Why?'

I can't tell her why. So I lie and say this will only be for a week or two, just to give her a break. 'Like a hotel.'

The care home is a 1930s red-brick building with turrets, no doubt built as a grand home for a wealthy family.  A carer meets us in reception and leads us through to the day room.



 Praise for Love and Care


'An honest and thoughtful memoir. Moving but, ultimately, full of hope. Beautiful.' KATE MOSSE

'Superb. Love & Care is a book about the unbreakable bonds of family, the cruelty of passing time and a love that never dies.' TONY PARSONS

'A beautiful, intimate story of love and understanding - candid and funny. This is a lyrical memoir of hope and forgiveness.' RAYNOR WINN, author of The Salt Path 

'A heart-warming, heart-wrenching, and beautifully humane account of loving and caring.' NICCI GERRARD, novelist and author of What Dementia Teaches Us About Love

'An insightful tale of care . . . this book needed to be written.' JO GOOD, BBC Radio London

'A vital subject, a really strong voice and, hurrah, humour makes this absorbing reading.' CAROLINE RAPHAEL, Radio 4's Book at Bedtime

'An eye-opening - and at times jaw dropping - account that will make you weep with its tenderness and compassion . . . A highly readable tale of redemption and a celebration of love's many hues.' PAUL BLEZARD, Love Reading

'Moving' DAILY MAIL




Shaun Deeney is a former journalist and Emmy award-winning film and TV producer. 


He has made current affairs programmes for ITV on social issues, including care. 

He is also the creator of a podcast on caring for his mother called Love and Care. 

Shaun has a degree in English and American Literature from Kent at Canterbury. 

He has two daughters and loves listening to Frank Sinatra. 

For more information visit shaundeeney.com.







Tuesday, 7 March 2023

The Half Burnt House by Alex North #TheHalfBurntHouse @writer_north @MichaelJBooks #BookReview

 


Katie Shaw always looked after her younger brother Chris - until she left him alone one carefree afternoon and he was savagely attacked. He hasn't spoken to her since.

Now a mother, Katie vows not to repeat her mistakes. Carelessness cost her one family, and she won't let it destroy another.

Then she receives a call from the police.

They're investigating a particularly brutal murder, in a half-ruined house that once belonged to a notorious local serial killer. The case has thrown up many unsettling questions, but only one prime suspect: Chris.

The detective wants Katie's help finding him, but she has only one thing on her mind: proving her brother's innocence, and finally making up for her negligence all those years ago. But soon it becomes clear that the killer isn't finished yet.

Which means that even as she attempts to save her old family, Katie is placing her new one in deadly peril . . .




The Half Burnt House by Alex North is published on 16 March 2023 by Michael Joseph. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

I am a huge fan of this author, his previous two novels; The Whisper Man and The Shadow Friend are two of my favourite crime fiction books of the past few years. It's been almost three years since The Shadow Friend and I've been longing to get to The Half Burnt House for all of that time. I know that this was not an easy book for the author to write, he mentions this in his author note, the ongoing pandemic and lock downs cannot have helped either. 

However, despite the wait and the difficulties, I can safely say that once again, Alex North has produced a novel that will delight. It's a complex, multi woven story, incorporating philosophical theories that are not always simple, but the author's ability to explain these, along with how they link into the plot is really quite excellent. 

The story revolves around Katie Shaw, a woman who is married to her childhood sweetheart, with a small daughter Siena. Katie and her brother Christopher were always close as children, however when tragedy struck Chris, Katie always blamed herself. Over the years, Chris has faced many issues, including addiction and homelessness and he and Katie have been estranged for two years. Their mother still has contact with him and when Katie receives a phone call from her Mum about Chris, her inner loyalty means that she must help, although her husband Sam would rather she stay out of it. 

Alan Hobbes, retired philosophy lecturer has been found dead in his sprawling mansion. The house is old and almost derelict and still bears the remains of the fire from many years ago that killed his infant son. Detective Inspector Laurence Page is assigned to the case, and from the very beginning he finds evidence that Hobbes expected his death, and even prepared for it. As Hobbes had spent many years teaching the theory of determination, this fits into his entire lifestyle. 

Christopher Shaw, who is missing seems to be connected to the death, but how, and why?

Prepare yourself for a roller coaster read that will sometimes take you out of your comfort zone and may challenge your beliefs. As new characters are introduced, seemingly unconnected, it can be a puzzle but North expertly weaves the characters together, creating ties that could never have been anticipated. 

Once again, as with his previous novels, the author concentrates on the parent-child relationship, this time it's the father/son relationship that is the theme and it's masterfully done, with a hint of the grotesque at times. Chilling references to murders from years before, soon become a huge feature of this plot and the clever and expert way that everything comes together is utterly spellbinding. 

Twisting, sometimes terrifying, but written so beautifully, The Half Burnt House is another cracker from this incredibly talented author. Highly recommended by me. 



Alex North was born in Leeds, where he now lives with his wife and son. 

He studied Philosophy at Leeds University, and prior to becoming a writer he worked there in their sociology department. 

The Whisper Man was a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller, and is being published in more than 30 languages.












Monday, 6 March 2023

Mother's Day by Abigail Burdess BLOG TOUR #MothersDay @AbigailBurdess @headlinepg @RandomTTours @Wildfirebks #BookReview

 


The last thing Anna needs is a baby. Abandoned, adopted and living hand to mouth, she never dreamt of having a real family.

But when she meets her birth mother, everything changes - because the same day, she learns she's going to be a mother too.

Marlene is eccentric, generous with her considerable fortune and overjoyed to become a grandmother. Anna's living the dream. But is it her dream, or someone else's?

Now she will have to decide what she's willing to sacrifice for a real family - her future, her freedom, even her unborn child.


Mother's Day by Abigail Burdess was published on 2 March 2023 by Wildfire. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour.




Mother's Day by Abigail Burdess is far more than just a psychological thriller. It's like a mash-up of a horror story, crime fiction, with some very dark humour thrown in for good measure. 

The premise of a woman who was abandoned as a baby, and is now pregnant and is just about to meet her birth mother for the first time is certainly intriguing, but the story is far far more than that. The characters are colourful and well drawn, and to be quite frank, most of them would be sectioned under the Mental Health Act in an instant. Only Anna, the newly pregnant mother seems normal, at first, but when she meets her mother and her half siblings, she seems to take on a new persona, added to the hormonal changes due to her pregnancy and it all goes a little bit crazy. 

However, crazy or not, it's a compelling story that I read in a couple of days (often with my jaw hanging in shock, to be honest!). There's something about the whole thing that makes the reader need to carry on, to find out just what's next in store for Anna and her baby. 

Oh, it's dark. Very very dark in places, and especially toward the end. Anna's birth mother Marlene is stark staring crazy, there's no doubt of that and her power and control over her children is astounding. She was never cut out for motherhood, but she does love a baby ... although she has no idea what to do with one. Marlene is the ultimate in narcissism, everything that anyone does or says, she turns around to make it about her. People seem to allow it, so she gets away with it ... well, for most of the book anyway. 

So, it you like a crazy ride of a book, that will make you wince in places, laugh out loud in others and then make you think a lot, this may be for you. 

I think Abigail Burdess writes really well, the descriptive prose is excellent and the characters are so well created. 

A difficult book to review, but one that I enjoyed reading. 




Abigail Burdess has written for and acted in various comedy shows for the television, radio and
stage. 

She also sometimes writes TV for kids, as well as plays and musicals. 

She lives in London with her husband, Robert Webb and their two children. 

Mother's Day is her first novel. 

For book updates, follow Abigail online: @AbigailBurdess








Friday, 3 March 2023

All The Little Bird-Hearts by Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow BLOG TOUR #AllTheLittleBirdHearts @TinderPress @RandomTTours @headlinepg #BookReview

 


Sunday Forrester lives with her sixteen-year-old daughter, Dolly, in the house she grew up in. She does things more carefully than most people. On quiet days, she must eat only white foods. Her etiquette handbook guides her through confusing social situations, and to escape, she turns to her treasury of Sicilian folklore. The one thing very much out of her control is Dolly - her clever, headstrong daughter, now on the cusp of leaving home.

Into this carefully ordered world step Vita and Rollo, a couple who move in next door, disarm Sunday with their charm, and proceed to deliciously break just about every rule in Sunday's book. Soon they are in and out of each others' homes, and Sunday feels loved and accepted like never before. But beneath Vita and Rollo's polish lies something else, something darker. For Sunday has precisely what Vita has always wanted for herself: a daughter of her own.




All The Little Bird-Hearts by Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow was published by Tinder Press on 2 March 2023. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour 



Sunday Forrester is one of the most carefully and beautifully created characters that I've come across in a very long time. Her story is one filled with joy, with anguish, with difficulties, but always with honesty. This is an absolute wonder of a book, I was enraptured from the opening paragraphs, right up until the ending. My heart broke for Sunday, I laughed with her, and I discovered so much. 

Sunday and her teenage daughter live in the house that Sunday grew up in. She lived there with her parents and her sister, none of whom are still with us. Dolly's father; known to readers by Sunday's name for him; The King, is now married to someone else. The King's parents own a local farm shop and garden centre business and Sunday still works there. Dolly is bright and confident and getting ready for her exams, in preparation for a future life at University. 

Sunday is neither bright nor confident. She has very quiet days, on those days she will only eat white food. Sunday lives her life by the rules set down in an old-fashioned book on etiquette, never straying far from those instructions and often getting herself into trouble because of it. 

Sunday has always been a little different. Her own mother couldn't put up with her funny little ways, only her sister understood her. Her own daughter Dolly is used to her, although is often perplexed by the plain chicken breast and mashed potato served up for dinner. 

And then, one day, Sunday meets Vita. Vita and Rollo are a wealthy, glamorous London couple who've moved into the holiday let next door. Vita thinks nothing of popping in to see Sunday, dressed in pyjamas, or a ballgown, drinking milk from the bottle and smoking her endless cigarettes. Sunday and Dolly are soon swept along by this couple, arriving every Friday evening for dinner. Eating delicacies from Harrods, being treated to the finest champagne.

However, things are never quite as they seem and it becomes clear that it's not Sunday who interests Vita the most, but her daughter Dolly. 

Dolly begins to adopt Vita's way of speaking, wearing clothes just like hers, giggling with her in corners and taking trips to London with them. 

Sunday can see her daughter changing but has little control over it. She can do nothing to stop it, but is so aware of it. Despite her difficulties with communication and language, Sunday is shrewd and wise and she knows Dolly better than anyone else. 

This is a skillfully written debut from an author who is very talented. Her clear and concise insight into the working of the autistic brain and the barriers felt by Sunday are eye opening, and often quite heart breaking. 

All The Little Bird-Hearts is such a glorious read, I loved every single page. Highly recommended. 



Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Kent. 


Like her protagonist, Sunday, in ALL THE LITTLE BIRD-HEARTS, Viktoria is autistic. 

She has presented her doctoral research internationally, most recently speaking at Harvard University on autism and literary narrative. 

Viktoria lives with her husband and children on the Kent coast.