Friday 30 October 2020

The Breath of Sadness by Ian Ridley @IanRidley1 #TheBreathOfSadness #BookReview


When Ian Ridley's wife, the trailblazing sports reporter Vikki Orvice, died of cancer at the age of 56, he found himself plunged deep into a sadness that he expected and a world of madness that he did not. In an attempt to make sense of it all and seek some solace from the brutality of his grief and anxiety, he embarks on a summer of watching county cricket. Reliving bitter-sweet memories in places he and Vikki had visited together, he is alternately unnerved and consoled by the ebbs and flows of his mourning. But gradually, against a backdrop of the County Championship's peace and solitude - with the sun on his back and tea, cake and crossword at his side - he finds a way to survive the rhythms and cadences of his grief. The Breath of Sadness is an unflinching account of how we carry on when we are left behind, and a poignant, tender and candid exploration of love and loss.

The Breath of Sadness by Ian Ridley was published in hardback on 14 July 2020 by Floodlit Dreams. My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review.

Those who feel the breath of sadness
Sit down next to me
Lyric from Sit Down by James (1989)

The lyric, taken from the 1989 single Sit Down by James are the words that Ian Ridley used when he announced the death of his dearly-loved wife Vikki Orvice.
Vikki was a young woman, a talented and much-praised sports journalist who died of cancer.

The Breath of Sadness is Ian's tribute to Vikki. It's a searingly honest, and quite beautifully written account of their life, their love and their shared interests. 
Ian decision to spend the summer following Vikki's death following County cricket matches; travelling to various grounds, taking in afternoon teas and watching the sport that they both enjoyed was part of his healing process. Even though I know nothing at all about cricket, I do know about love and about loss and Ian's words are tenderly put together. This is a book that is both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time.

Whilst this is without doubt a love-letter to his beloved wife, the author doesn't paint Vikki as saintly and without fault, he also looks at his own perceived failings in life. It is this honesty and bravery that makes this book so special. I felt as though I knew Vikki and Ian, and their enduring and love for each other shines through.  Like Ian, I wish they'd met each other sooner, I wish they'd had more years together, both in their younger years and in their future.

I'd urge everyone to read this. If you have lost someone, it may bring you comfort to know that you are not alone and that grief is a many faceted thing that affects us all in different ways. There are no right or wrong ways to deal with grief and it's clear that Ian Ridley has slowly and steadily worked through his emotions here. 

A love story, a tribute to a woman who gave much to the world and a deeply personal book.

Ian Ridley is the author of 12 sports books, including the No.1 best-selling Addicted with the former Arsenal and England captain, Tony Adams, which was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year. 
Over a 40-year career, he has written for numerous publications, including the Guardian, the Observer, the Independent on Sunday and the Mail on Sunday, for whom he was chief football writer, and was named Sports Journalist of the Year in the 2007 British Press Awards. 

He has also written TV scripts, for Sky One's Dream Team, and a novel, The Outer Circle.

Twitter @IanRidley1

Thursday 29 October 2020

The Housewarming by SE Lynes BLOG TOUR @SELynesAuthor @bookouture #BooksOnTour #TheHousewarming #BookReview


Ava only left her daughter in the pushchair for five minutes. The buckle was fastened, and she was sure it was safe. But when she came downstairs, the door was open and Abi was gone – she walked down the road, past the Lovegoods’ house, and was never seen again.

A year later, the Lovegoods are planning their long-anticipated housewarming party. Ava doesn’t want to go. She can’t bear to look down that end of the road, to see the place where Abi vanished, and she doesn’t want to spend time with people who don’t share her grief. Her husband Matt persuades her: he’s worried about her. A night out might do her good.

But as her friends and neighbours chat, and the drink and gossip flows, Ava learns something new about the day she has re-lived a thousand times. A throwaway comment which could change everything.

Ava thought she knew every last detail of that day.

She’s about to find out she was wrong…

The Housewarming by SE Lynes was published by Bookouture on 21 October 2020. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review, and invited me to review for this Blog Tour.

There are some authors who I just cannot resist, and SE Lynes is one of them. Every time I review her books, I say that this one is my favourite. She gets better and better and better. Once again, her latest novel has become my favourite.  I devoured this intelligent and sensitively written dramatic story  of family and community in two sittings. 

The story opens one year after two-year old Abi disappeared and is narrated by her mother Ava. This is a poignant and increasingly difficult narrative to read, the author gets right to the heart of Ava's pain and despair. Little Abi's body has never been found and Ava and her husband Matt are stuck in limbo. To grieve her death is to admit that she's dead, but the ever disappearing hope of seeing their baby again is just so painful. 
Ava relives that awful night and the following days constantly. Whilst I have never been in Ava's position, I have no children, I have not lost a child. I did lose my oldest friend to cancer a couple of years ago, and like Ava, I relived my final hours with Rachel, over and over. The absolute reality of grief is portrayed beautifully in this book, it is breathtaking in its authenticity.

The story is also narrated by Abi's father Matt, and later in the novel we hear the voice of one of their best friends Neil, and one of their neighbours - I love this structure. It's the perfect way to see all sides of a story, allowing the reader to see more than what could be an unreliable narration.

Whilst this is absolutely a thriller, it has so much more than that. It's a complex and in-depth look at relationships, and how our childhood experiences can shape our adulthood. It's not just families, though, it is also community, and how those around us can be the kindest, but also the most aloof. 

The Housewarming is beautifully and elegantly written. The author drops tiny hints throughout her story, and the reader will assume that they know the ending, but I very much doubt that they will. 

I lived and breathed this story. I was there, alongside Abi and Matt. I winced as their relationship suffered, I gulped back tears as I read of their self-blame and their constant self-doubt. I wanted to take Abi by the hand and help her, I wanted to feed Matt and help him to mend. 

The finale of the story is utterly heartbreaking, and totally unexpected. I was left feeling as though my heart had shattered into tiny pieces as these characters who had become so real for me realise just what happened to their little girl. The frailties of human kind are laid bare, and the long term damage caused by impetuous and quite selfish acts are laid out starkly.

The Housewarming is a gripping thriller but is also a mediative look at the nature of community and close relationships. 
Her best novel yet, in my opinion and one that I would highly recommend.

Former BBC Producer, S.E. Lynes is the Amazon best selling author of 'intelligent and haunting', 'beautifully written' psychological thrillers, VALENTINA, MOTHER, THE PACT, THE PROPOSAL, THE WOMEN, THE LIES WE HIDE, CAN YOU SEE HER? and her latest novel, THE HOUSEWARMING, available for pre-order NOW.

After completing her MA, Lynes taught creative writing at Richmond Adult Community College for over ten years. She now combines writing, mentoring and lecturing.

She has also published three children's books in Italy: IL LEOPARDO LAMPO, LA COCCODRILLA INGAMBA, and the bilingual LA SCIMMIA SPIRITOSA/THE FUNNY MONKEY, all available at

Facebook S E Lynes Author
Twitter @SELynesAuthor
Instagram @susielynes

All Your Little Lies by Marianne Holmes BLOG TOUR @MarianneHAuthor #AllYourLittleLies @AgoraBooksLDN #BookReview


Annie lives a quiet, contained, content life. She goes to work. She meets her friend. She’s kind of in a relationship. She’s happy. Not lonely at all.

If only more people could see how friendly she is — how eager to help and please. Then she could tick “Full Happy Life” off her list. But no one sees that side of Annie, and she can’t understand why.

That all changes the night Chloe Hills disappears. And Annie is the last person to see her.

This is her chance to prove to everybody that she’s worth something. That is, until she becomes a suspect.

Drenched in atmosphere and taut with tension, All Your Little Lies takes a hard look at why good people do bad things.

All Your Little Lies by Marianne Homes was published by Agora Books in ebook on 22 October, the paperback is published on 19 November 2020. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour.

I read and reviewed Marianne Holmes' previous novel A Little Bird Told Me back in September 2018 and remember being really impressed by it. I've been looking forward to All Your Little Lies and once more, this clever author has created a complex literary crime novel that is both engaging and intriguing.

I'm keen on an unreliable narrator, it's well known that everyone has their own story of events that take place and lead character Annie is certainly not to be trusted. However, she's not an outright liar, or someone who is desperately trying to hide misdeeds. She is so much more than that, she's a woman who can be infuriating for the reader, but whose layers are peeled away in such a meticulous and precise fashion that one cannot help but become consumed by her.

Whilst All Your Little Lies is a 'missing girl' story, it is also a perfectly plotted tale of how society reacts to anyone who is a little bit different, and there are times when it is quite brutal.

So Annie, who is lonely, but claims not to be, has only one friend and also thinks she's 'almost in a relationship' is possibly the last person to have seen Chloe Hills, a twelve year old girl who has gone missing. Only Annie is not so sure that she actually did see her, that night is a bit of a blur due to feeling humiliated at a work conference.

However, Annie becomes involved in the search for Chloe and her strange ways and the fact that she's not quite like other people in the community lead to a mob mentality that is quite brutal, and then Annie becomes a suspect in Chloe's disappearance.

All Your Little Lies is not a fast paced thriller. It's a slow burner where the author gently reveals just a touch more. It can feel claustrophobic at times; the setting feels dark and dreary and there are very few characters, yet it is a compulsive read throughout.

Marianne Holmes is the author of A Little Bird Told Me, published by Agora Books in 2018. 
She was born in Cyprus and bounced around the UK, Germany, Kuwait and Belgium with her RAF parents as a child but is now firmly based in London with her own family. 
She has degrees in Classics (RHUL) and Linguistics (UCL), neither of which got much use while she worked in marketing. 

Author Page on Facebook

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Betrayal by Lilja Sigurðardóttir @lilja1972 #Betrayal - Translated by Quentin Bates @graskeggur @OrendaBooks #IcelandNoir #BlogTour


Burned out and traumatised by her horrifying experiences around the world, aid worker Úrsula has returned to Iceland. Unable to settle, she accepts a high-profile government role in which she hopes to make a difference again.
But on her first day in the post, Úrsula promises to help a mother seeking justice for her daughter, who had been raped by a policeman, and life in high office soon becomes much more harrowing than Úrsula could ever have imagined. A homeless man is stalking her but is he hounding her, or warning her of some danger? And why has the death of her father in police custody so many years earlier reared its head again?
As Úrsula is drawn into dirty politics, facing increasingly deadly threats, the lives of her stalker, her bodyguard and even a witch-like cleaning lady intertwine. Small betrayals become large ones, and the stakes are raised ever higher

Betrayal by Lilja Sigurðardóttir was published by Orenda in paperback on 1 October 2020 and is translated from the Icelandic by Quentin Bates. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour.

Having read and enjoyed this author's Reykjavik Noir series, I was really keen to read this standalone story from one of Iceland's finest thriller authors.

I read this in one day, and the hook really was the amazing lead character Ursula. Lilja Sigurðardóttir  excels in creating strong, feisty female leads and Ursula is one of the very best. She leads the story throughout, and is supported by an eclectic and varied cast of characters too.

Ursula has spent much of her career in lands that are savaged by disease and war. Tending to Ebola victims in Liberia and helping those whose homes have been destroyed in Syria. After much discussion with her husband Nonni, she's made the decision to return home to Iceland to spend more time with him, and their two children. Ursula loves her family, but has conflicting feelings about if she is still in love with Nonni. Her experiences overseas have left deep scars on her mind, and she suffers from occasional flashbacks, and often questions herself.

When she's offered a one year tenure with the Icelandic Government as a Minister, she is shocked and surprised, as are many others, both in Government and in the community. However, Ursula is determined that she can use these twelve months to do good for Iceland, and accepts the post.

Despite her initial insistence that she doesn't need an official driver, she comes to realise that, after a couple of incidents with a homeless man who appears to be stalking her, that her driver Gunnar is much needed. Gunnar then goes to to become her confident and her protector, and she really does need him.

Sigurðardóttir really takes her reader into the heart of Iceland, not just the fabulously described landscape, weather and people, but the dark and often murky areas of politics. What could be a dry and maybe boring subject is brought to life as Ursula uncovers truths that have been hidden by those in power. It is not just governmental issues that have been covered up though, whilst the investigation into an alleged rape by a policeman has certainly been halted, and the much wanted new road system is most certainly not above board, she also discovers that her own personal history has been shaped by the actions of powerful men.

Ursula is a complex character, but I loved her. This author creates wonderful characters and those that are not as upstanding as Ursula are also cleverly crafted. Whilst this is not a long story, the reader really becomes part of the story, getting to know both the personal and public sides of all of the players in the story.

Betrayal is a clever, classy crime thriller with a good dash of political intrigue thrown in. Sigurðardóttir  is a smart, empathic writer and I can't wait for more from her. 

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. 
An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. 
The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

Follow Lilja on Twitter @lilja1972 and on her website

Quentin Bates escaped English suburbia as a teenager, jumping at the chance of a gap year working in Iceland. 
For a variety of reasons, the gap year stretched to become a gap decade, during which time he went native in the north of Iceland, acquiring a new language a new profession as a seaman and a family, before decamping en masse for England. 
He worked as a truck driver, teacher, netmaker and trawlerman at various times before falling into journalism, largely by accident. 
He is the author of a series of crime novels set in present-day Iceland (Frozen Out, Cold Steal, Chilled to the Bone, Winterlude, Cold Comfort and Thin Ice which have been published worldwide. He has translated all of Ragnar Jónasson’s Dark Iceland series

Follow Quentin on Twitter @graskeggur and on his website

Christmas Under Construction by Rylee Ridolfi @RyleeRomance BLOG TOUR #ChristmasUnderConstruction @RandomTTours #McKennaSisters #Win #Competiton #Giveaway


How does one go from socializing at the country club with the perfect family, living in a mansion and driving a Lexus—to wrestling salamanders and tutus with two feuding daughters, living in a rundown ski lodge and driving a demonic minivan? Megan’s post-divorce life has proven more difficult than binge eating fruitcake. With no particular skill set, and the dating pool thinner than a piece of tinsel, she considers giving in to sweatpants, carbs, and bottomless mugs of eggnog. However, when her sisters ask her to renovate the old Mistletoe Lodge, Megan optimistically accepts.Stone Reynolds has sworn off work and women. However, upon hearing about a rustic ski lodge in desperate need of remodeling, the handsome, rugged handyman can’t help but want in. Megan is modern luxe, white fur, and chandeliers. Stone is rustic elements, vintage accents, and weathered wood. The last thing Megan wants is a flannel-wearing, country music loving, know it all contractor. The one thing Stone can’t afford is a beautiful, complicated distraction. As sleigh rides and mistletoe swirl around them, an unexpected kiss nearly melts the snow off their boots. As the old lodge gets a fresh start, will they discover that second chances aren’t just for fixer-uppers?

Christmas Under Construction by Rylee Ridolfi was published on 14 August 2020 by Paisley Cottage Books. As part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I am delighted to offer one paperback copy to one lucky winner. 

Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget at the end of this post.


One copy of Christmas Under Construction by Rylee Ridolfi


A bit about me. I have a mild addiction to shoes and secretly long to spend a day in Carrie Bradshaw's closet. I have not only the heart of a romantic, but the soul as well. Yes, I cry at sappy movies and silently clap when true love shows up. The mere mention of Christmas makes my heart dance while summoning up visions of twinkling lights, a reminder of the magic that exists in everyday life.  I believe in the power of spreading positivity and the importance of kindness.
When I'm not writing you can find me enthralled in a  decorating project, snuggled by the fireplace with a good book, escaping to my happy place the beach, or hosting family gatherings. I live in New Jersey with my husband, three children, and a rotund Shih Tzu.
My stories are meant to empower women to believe in themselves, to go for their dreams and above all recognize the beauty in their authentic self, all while delivering a smile to your heart.     Find your happy!

Tuesday 27 October 2020

The Death of a Sentence by Richard Doyle BLOG TOUR #TheDeathOfASentence #RichardDoyle @RandomTTours


The death of the sentence is the debut role of the writer; the plight of the poetry pamphlet; an inventive homage; science in the novel; science fiction in the real world; prose spaceship and singular music; both fun-

Simple in style yet steeped in emotion, I recommend The death of the sentence for poetry newbs and aficionados alike -

The Death of the Sentence by Richard Doyle was published on 10 July 2020. As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I am delighted to welcome the author here today. He's telling us Ten Things About Me.

Ten Things About Me - Richard Doyle

My mother is Spanish, from a village near La Coruna in Galicia. I also read and speak Spanish. My favourite poets in Spanish are Jose Luis Borges and Pablo Neruda.

When I was 15, I spent 6 months in Long Island, New York attending senior high school. 

Nettle Soup was the title of the book I collaborated on in 2006. This was the culmination of a year's work with fellow UEA students.

My favourite musical artist is Seckou Keita, a Senegalese musician who plays the kora, a truly majestic instrument.  I saw him perform live at the launch of Spell Songs at the Aldeburgh Theatre in 2019.

My favourite UK festival experience was Latitude in 2017, where my wife and I saw Fleet Foxes perform an amazing set. This was preceded by a fascinating talk in the Poetry Tent from Simon Armitage (before he became Poet Laureate). I still have my signed copy of Seeing Stars!

I almost became a primary school teacher in 2010. This involved spending a month in Zamora, Spain teaching at a Spanish primary school.

I took part in a sponsored tandem skydive in 2011. This was from a small airfield near Norwich on a beautiful sunny day with hardly a cloud in sight. It was something I had dreamt about for years, and it was as thrilling as I expected it to be!

I was an actor and director in an amateur drama group for over 15 years. Highlights include: performing and co-directing Arcadia by Tom Stoppard; directing Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco; acting in Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

I love reading spy thrillers. My favourite authors in the genre are: John Le Carre (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Robert Ludlum (The Bourne Identity), Len Deighton (Berlin Game), and Mick Herron (Slow Horses).

My top 10 SF novels are:  Protector (Larry Niven); The Naked Sun (Isaac Asimov); Childhood’s End (Arthur C. Clarke); The Demolished Man (Alfred Bester); Non-Stop (Brian Aldiss); Babel-17 (Samuel R. Delany); Martian Time-Slip (Philip K. Dick); The Man In The High Castle (Philip K. Dick); Camp Concentration (Thomas M. Disch); Gateway (Frederick Pohl)

Richard Doyle is an old-school SF fan who began writing seriously in 2001. 
He has a Diploma in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and collaborated on a book in 2006. 

He has had poems published in the UK poetry magazines Orbis and Sarasvati and is a regular member of the Bristol Stanza Poetry Group. 

Monday 26 October 2020

Burning Island by Suzanne Goldring @SuzanneGoldring @bookouture #BurningIsland #BookReview #Corfu


They were not her children. But she would protect them with her life…

Corfu 1944. Though they don’t know it, five-year-old Matilde and three-year-old Anna have kissed their mother for the last time. The Nazis have reached their sun-scorched home, and they are being taken to a place of safety, on the north-eastern tip of the rocky island, to be hidden at great risk by kindly Agata and her husband until the terrible war is over.

Matilde and Anna’s tears are soothed by Agata’s bedtime stories, but she is always alert. So far no soldiers have ventured down the steep rocky hillside to their secret haven, but Agata knows they are constantly scouring the island for missing Jews. And then, on a day when Agata’s husband is away, a German soldier appears…

2006. Under a baking June sun, Amber and her husband arrive in Corfu from England, hoping for a fresh start. But not everyone is pleased by their arrival, and with the pressures of pregnancy, the couple grow further apart. Desperate to find a sense of belonging for herself and her unborn child, Amber finds herself drawn to the local story of two little girls, left by their parents and hidden for their own protection.

But there are some who would rather Amber left Corfu’s terrible history well in the past. Can Amber uncover the heart-breaking truth about the two little girls, and what happened after a German soldier took a swim in the bay by their house? If she does, can the secrets of the past help her find happiness, or send her running from the island, alone?

Burning Island by Suzanne Goldring was published on 20 January 2020 by Bookouture. I bought my copy early this year with the intention of reading it whilst on my holiday in Corfu in June. Of course, we all know what happened in the world since then and my June holiday was cancelled.
However, we did manage to get away to Corfu for a week at the beginning of October and I read this wonderful, heart breaking and emotionally stunning novel as I sat, looking out to sea in a village on the North West coast of the island.

I'm a huge fan of novels set in Greece, and am especially fond of Corfu. We have visited over twenty times and it's become a very special place for us. I've got to know lots of people who live there, I've watched children grow up and become adults, usually working in the family business. It's an island of wonder and much beauty, and a vivid history, far more than just a holiday destination.

Burning Island is a story told over two time periods. The reader is transported back to 1944, just as the war in Europe is ending, and also to 2006, as Amber and her husband James leave England for a new life on Corfu. The stories are linked by history, and whilst I was more engrossed by the historical thread of the novel, the modern-day narrative was also intriguing and well written.

Just four days after the bombing of Normandy in June 1944, one of the most tragic and horrendous acts of cruelty was carried out on Corfu. The island had previously been occupied by Italy, who surrendered to the Allied forces, and after years of terror, death, starvation and suffering, it would be safe to assume that the islanders were beginning to feel safe again. However, for the small Jewish population of Corfu, this would be the most deviant and horrifying period of their war. The Nazis arrived and rounded up the Jewish community; many of them elderly, or children, and ordered that they be deported and taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The author concentrates on two young children; Matilde and Anna. Their parents were determined that these two girls would not be taken and entrusted their care to their friend Agata and her husband who lived on the remote mountain side. The author's description of the absolute horror that the Jewish community endured; being kept in the blazing sun, with little food or water in the town fort, and then the awful, barbaric treatment as they were transported across Europe in trains, like cattle is so emotionally charged. There were times when I had to set the book aside, to gather my thoughts, before I could continue.

The modern-day story is told in alternate chapters, giving a welcome break from the despair that one is reading about in the historical part of the novel. Amber and James are an ambitious young couple who are determined to make their new venture work. However, they meet typically Greek resistance to their plans, and it's clear that they have to choose their friends really carefully as they proceed. James is headstrong and makes rash decisions; about his project, and about the people he chooses to work with. Amber is emotionally fraught, newly pregnant, in a strange country and increasingly conscious of the difficulties that they face. Their story is interwoven with the events of the historical events in the book too, and it is clear that there are long-held beliefs that may put Amber and James in danger. 

Burning Island is an absorbing and emotionally charged read and I learnt so much about parts of Corfu's history that I had no idea about before. It is so well researched and the sense of place is so well portrayed, as is the essence of the people of Corfu. I'm sure that reading this whilst enjoying the beauty that is Corfu around me, added a great depth to my experience. 

One of my favourite reads of the year, without a doubt. I certainly read more from this author. Highly recommended by me.

Following an eventful career as a public relations consultant, specialising in business and travel, Suzanne Goldring turned to writing the kind of novels she likes to read, about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. 
Her debut novel MY NAME IS EVA draws on her experience of volunteering in a care home and was partially inspired by a cache of wartime love letters which were saved from the flames. 
Her second novel, BURNING ISLAND, is set in Corfu, a place of fun and beauty but also tremendous tragedy.
Suzanne writes in her thatched cottage in Hampshire and a seaside cottage in Cornwall.