Wednesday 31 January 2024

The Bad Weather Friend by Dean Koontz BLOG TOUR #TheBadWeatherFriend @deankoontz @FMcMAssociates


Benny is so nice they feel compelled to destroy him, but he has a friend who should scare the hell out of them in this breathtaking new kind of thriller by #1 New York Times bestselling master of suspense Dean Koontz.

Benny Catspaw’s perpetually sunny disposition is tested when he loses his job, his reputation, his fiancée, and his favorite chair. He’s not paranoid. Someone is out to get him. He just doesn’t know who or why. Then Benny receives an inheritance from an uncle he’s never heard of: a giant crate and a video message. All will be well in time.

How strange―though it’s a blessing, his uncle promises. Stranger yet is what’s inside the crate. He’s a seven-foot-tall self-described “bad weather friend” named Spike whose mission is to help people who are just too good for this world. Spike will take care of it. He’ll find Benny’s enemies. He’ll deal with them. This might be satisfying if Spike wasn’t such a menacing presence with terrifying techniques of intimidation.

In the company of Spike and a fascinated young waitress-cum-PI-in-training named Harper, Benny plunges into a perilous high-speed adventure, the likes of which never would have crossed the mind of a decent guy like him.

The Bad Weather Friend by Dean Koontz is published on 1 February 2024 by Thomas & Mercer. My thanks to Antara at FMcM who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour. 

Dean Koontz has written and sold so many books, in fact his titles have sold over five hundred million copies around the world. That is a lot of books!

This is my first experience of reading Koontz and I'm led to believe that The Bad Weather friend is very different to his normal style. 

I have to be honest, I really thought this book was more than a little bonkers! It is an incredibly easy to read story, with characters who are well thought out and easy to like, but the whole concept just blew my brain to smithereens at times. 

The story opens in Florida where we meet two men loading a very large trunk that is to be put on an aeroplane. We learn a little about the guy who is sending the trunk. We then meet the lead character of the story; Benny Catspaw (oh, most of the characters have VERY strange names). Benny arrives at work, he's an estate agent, only to be called immediately to the boss's office. He is then fired, but Benny doesn't know why and can get no straight answers from his boss. 

Benny Catspaw is a very nice bloke. We learn that he's had a terrible childhood, but that he is still very nice. His days are not getting any better when he is dumped by his girlfriend. So, no job, no girlfriend, what next?

The trunk that was being loaded in the opening in the book is for Benny, and when it arrives, Benny finds he now has a 'bad weather friend'; this is Spike, a seven-foot-tall 'craggle' and is supernatural. Benny also finds himself a new girlfriend; Harper Harper (yes, you read that correct, double Harper). This unlikely trio band together to try to discover why Benny was fired, and it's a crazy journey for sure. 

The current story is interwoven with snippets from Benny's past, some of this is really dark and violent and goodness knows how Benny turned out so 'nice'! 

Koontz often talks directly to the reader throughout the book which to be honest, I found a little off putting and it felt as though I was kicked out of the story at times, and was listening to his own opinions of current affairs. That's the style though and some readers may love it. 

The author can definitely spin a great yarn, his writing is easy to follow and his characters are vividly created (although those names!). Not really my usual type of read, but one that I did enjoy once I'd settled into the style.  

Dean Koontz is the author of many #1 bestsellers. 
His books have sold over five hundred million copies in thirty-eight languages, and The Times has called him a “literary juggler.” 

He lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, and their golden retriever, Elsa. 


Tuesday 30 January 2024

The Unfinished Business of Eadie Brown by Freya North #TheUnfinishedBusinessofEadieBrown @freya_north @welbeckpublish @ed_pr #BookReview


When your present meets your past, what do you take with you – and what do you leave behind?

Eadie Browne is an odd child with unusual parents, living in a strange house neighbouring the local cemetery. Bullied at school – but protected by her two best friends Celeste and Josh, and her many imaginary friends lying six feet under next door – Eadie muddles her way through.

Arriving in Manchester as a student in the late 1980s, Eadie confronts a busy, gritty Victorian metropolis a far cry from the small Garden City she's left behind. Soon enough she experiences a novel freedom she never imagined and it's seductive. She can be who she wants to be, do as she pleases, and no one back home needs to know. As Manchester embraces the dizzying, colourful euphoria of Rave counterculture, Eadie is swept along, blithely ignoring danger and reality. Until, one night, her past comes hurtling at her with ramifications which will continue into her adult life.

Now, as the new Millennium beckons, Eadie is turning 30 with a marriage in tatters. She must travel back to where she once lived for a funeral she can't quite comprehend. As she journeys from the North to the South, from the present to the past, Eadie contemplates all that was then – and all that is now – in this moving love letter to youth.

The Unfinished Business of Eadie Brown by Freya North is published on 1 February 2024 by Welbeck. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

Prepare yourselves, for I am going to GUSH about this book. I read a lot of books, and rarely do I feel so attached to the fictional characters in the stories that I read as I have in this one. This book is populated by the most wonderfully created and realistic characters, not only human, living characters, there are also destinations, and houses and nightclubs and a graveyard. Every single one of those things become a pulsating character of their own, utterly central to the story and perfectly imagined. 

We are introduced to Eadie Brown via the prologue, it's 1976, she is age six and she's having a terrible time at school. There's one particular boy who makes it his daily mission to torment her, to tease her, to say awful things about her clothes, and her parents. There's also one particular boy who stands up for Eadie, who shows her true friendship and kindness. 

This is a dual time story, the reader accompanies Eadie throughout her school years, on to university and beyond.  The more recent part of the novel is set on June 15 1999, as Eadie and her husband travel in a van up the motorway, to attend a funeral. 

Eadie is a wondrous character. Perfectly formed, quirky and kind and totally in charge of her own feelings. Her home life is a little unusual, although her parents love her, they are distracted by their own pursuits. Eadie's solace comes in the grounds of the grave yard next door to her home, there she finds her friends, not living, but always there to listen. There's also Michael the pipe-smoking gardener and Ross, the bag-pipe player. Two men who have an enormous impact on her life. 

This is a beautifully written coming of age story. As Eadie progresses through primary school, accompanied always by her two great friends Josh and Celeste, she encounters many bumps along the way. The absolute beauty of this childhood friendship is so skilfully crafted, their ups and downs, their discovery of music and fashion and the way their thoughts about their home town change as they grow older. It's not only Eadie, Josh and Celeste though. Each of them have their own family members who become such a large part of the story - people that become real and important to the reader, almost as much as they are important to Eadie. 

This is story of discovery, of a life journey, of break ups and break downs. It features the frenzy of the early days of the Hacienda club. The closeness of a bunch of students living together in a house that is draughty, with holes in the floor, but is also a place of retreat - with hot buttered toast and tears and support and listening ears. 

The 1999 part of the story is smaller, just short chapters interwoven into Eadies earlier life, yet those chapters are so poignant and warm. We see Eadie as a thirty year old, we learn more of her current life, we meet her husband, we accompany them to the funeral of someone who had such an impact on Eadie's early life, and it is testament to Eadie's character and upbringing when he discover who the deceased person is. 

I really have lost my words, I just want to encourage everyone out there to read this and to love Eadie as much as I do. It's powerful, sometimes heart breaking, often very funny and always entrancing. It is like a love letter to one's younger self, detailing the life journey in every little detail, learning from what has been done, and what wasn't done. It is utterly and totally beautiful and I have no doubt that it will appear on my top books of the year list. Highly recommended. 

Freya North is the author of many bestselling novels which have been translated into numerous languages. 
She was born in London but lives in rural Hertfordshire, where she writes from a stable in her back garden. 
A passionate reader since childhood, Freya was originally inspired by Mary Wesley, Rose Tremain and Barbara Trapido: fiction with strong and original characters. 

To hear about events, competitions and what she’s writing, join her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and her website.

Monday 29 January 2024

The Island Swimmer by Lorraine Kelly #TheIslandSwimmer @reallorraine @orionbooks @FrancescaPear #BookReview


When Evie's father falls desperately ill, she finally returns to the family home on Orkney and the wild landscape she left as a teenager, swearing never to return. Not everyone is happy at her arrival, particularly her estranged sister Liv, their relationship broken after a childhood trauma.

As Evie clears out her father's neglected house to prepare it for sale, lonely Evie finds herself drawn to a group of cold-water swimmers led by her old friend Freya, who find calmness beneath the waves. Together they help Evie face up to the mistakes in her past, unlocking a treasure of truths that will reverberate through the community, and shake her family to its core.

The Island Swimmer by Lorraine Kelly is published on 15 February 2024 by Orion. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

When my proof copy of The Island Swimmer arrived through the letterbox a couple of months ago, I was really surprised, I had no idea that Lorraine Kelly had written a book and was intrigued. I have to begin by commenting on the gorgeous cover of this novel, it is stunning and now I've read the book, I see that it fits the story perfectly. 

Set on the Orkney Islands, this is the story of Evie and her extended family. The author takes the reader through several generations; we learn about Evie's own parents and how they met and married, we learn about Evie's early life with her sister Liv, and there's the modern-day story, when Evie returns to the Orkneys after many years away. 

It's clear, as the story begins, that Evie has many reasons to be afraid to return to the island. However, her father is very sick and she has many regrets about the years that she has missed with him. Sadly, when she finally reaches her old childhood home, she is too late. Too late to try to make amends, too late to say sorry, Evie is devastated. It is her old friend Freya who supports her. Freya has had many challenges in her own life, but she has always been Evie's sanctuary. In fact, only Freya knows where Evie has been for all of these years and has kept her promise not to tell anyone else. 

In 1960, young Cara and Duncan begin to fall in love. Whilst still very young, they marry and Cora makes a home for them, whilst Duncan works so hard to look after their farm. Cora is a difficult woman, Duncan adores her but she has tantrums and bouts of anger that frighten him. After years of sadness and tragedy, they finally become a full family, with two daughters; Liv and Evie.

Whilst the reader is unaware of why Evie fled the island all those years ago, we do follow her to London. She's a sad, isolated figure who carries a burden of guilt around with her. Her only friend is Sophia, a woman who is vibrant and fun and who cares for Evie so much. Her love life, however, is not fun at all, and her choice of man will horrify readers, as it does Sophia. 

This is a cleverly constructed novel, which held my attention throughout. The mystery of why Evie left the Orkneys is such a pull and as she strengthens and begins to have more respect for herself, the reader will rejoice. 

This feels like a love letter to the Orkneys, the sense of place is wonderfully done, enough to send me on a Google chase for trips to the islands! The author has also created a vibrant and colourful cast of characters. The reader will hate some of them, but adore others. For me, Freya was the star, yet Cora was so very interestingly portrayed. 

The Island Swimmer of the title refers to a group of women on the island who call themselves the Selkies, headed by Freya, and who swim in the sea, regardless of the weather conditions. Evie is terrified of water, and this fear has haunted her for her whole life, these women give unconditional support and encouragement to Evie as she begins her journey to heal herself. 

I was so so impressed by this novel. The author deals with some emotional issues and does it with empathy and style. Despite some of the tragedy, there's a real feel-good factor to this one. Characters to take to your heart, who overcome their fears and long held secrets. Highly recommended. 

Lorraine Kelly CBE has worked in breakfast TV for forty years, joining TVam as Scottish correspondent in 1984 and now presents Lorraine on ITV.

She is married to cameraman Steve and they have one daughter Rosie, a journalist and broadcaster.
Lorraine is a Dundee United fan and gets her best ideas when out for a walk with her beloved border terrier Angus.

She first visited Orkney in 1985 and goes back every year.

The Trials of Lila Dalton by L J Shepherd #Giveaway #TheTrialsofLilaDalton @LJShepherdwords @PushkinPress @Stevie_Coops #Competition #Prize #Win


You are standing in the middle of a courtroom.

The judge, jury and prosecution team are waiting for you to speak.

But you have no idea who you are.

Lila Dalton finds herself the lead defence for a man accused of a terrible crime, his fate in her hands. She doesn’t know how she got there, but is surprised to discover that she possesses legal knowledge, and that everyone else seems to know who she is.

Outside the courtroom, things are even more unnerving: the courthouse is on a peculiar island where the locals are hostile, threats are slipped beneath her door, and her phone calls are tapped. Hints from strange sources suggest that someone from her forgotten past is in very real danger — but are the threats genuine, or a warning from her missing memories?

As the trial progresses, Lila must decide who and what she can trust — and whether that includes herself...

The Trails of Lila Dalton by L J Shepherd is published by Pushkin Vertigo on 1 February 2024

The publishers have given me a gorgeous, shiny hard back copy to give away to one lucky reader today. Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget in this blog post. UK entries only please. 


One copy of The Trails of Lila Dalton by L J Shepherd

L.J. Shepherd lives in Cardiff with her rescue cat, Coral. 

She studied English Literature at Christ Church, Oxford. 
After graduating, she decided to pursue a career in law. 
Laura began practising as a barrister in 2017. 
Since then, Laura has prosecuted and defended in many jury trials in the Crown Court. She is now a Human Rights barrister instructed in high-profile public inquiries.

Friday 26 January 2024

Kala by Colin Walsh #BookReview #Kala #ColinWalsh @AtlanticBooks


In the seaside town of Kinlough, on Ireland's west coast, three old friends are thrown together for the first time in years. They - Helen, Joe and Mush - were part of an original group of six inseparable teenagers in the summer of 2003, with motherless, reckless Kala Lanann as their group's white-hot centre. Soon after that summer's peak, Kala disappeared without a trace.

Now it's fifteen years later. Human remains have been discovered in the woods. Two more girls have gone missing. As past and present begin to collide, the estranged friends are forced to confront their own complicity in the events that led to Kala's disappearance, and to try to stop Kinlough's violent patterns repeating themselves once again...

Against the backdrop of a town suffocating on its own secrets, in a story that builds from a smoulder to a stunning climax, Kala brilliantly examines the sometimes brutal costs of belonging, as well as the battle in the human heart between vengeance and forgiveness, despair and redemption.

Kala by Colin Walsh was published in hardback by Atlantic Books on 6 July 2023, the paperback edition is published on 4 July 2024. I bought my copy from Blackwells, Oxford. 

I bought my copy of this book way back in August last year. I'd heard so much about it, and I have a real fondness for Irish writing. Like lots of my purchases, it has stayed on the shelf ever since then. I finally read it and I am so so glad that I did. How many of us buy a shiny new hardback and then don't get around to actually reading it before the paperback publication date arrives?? 

Kala has been described in Kirkus as 'part brutal Irish noir', and I could not think of a better description. For me, it was almost perfect; the setting, the characterisation and the mystery that runs through the plot, along with the pure 'Irishness' of much of the dialogue which reminded me of my Mum, and the many summers I spent in Donegal as a child. 

Kinlough is a small tourist town on the West Coast of Ireland and the story is set there, using a dual time line to inform the reader of things in the past, and how they impact on the current happenings.

Helen, Joe and Mush were great friends back in 2003, along with Kala Lannan and few others on the sidelines of their group. Their lives were turned upside down when Kala went missing and despite an investigation by the Guards, she was never found. Kala was unique; one of a kind. Wild, untamed and often hurtful, but with a large heart and much love to give. Her disappearance fractured the friendships and Helen and Joe both left Kinlough, whilst Mush stayed in town, working with his mother in the cafe. Mush is a quiet, steady man, yet locals only have to glance at him to remember what happened back then. 

Fifteen years later and Helen and Joe have both returned to Kinlough. Helen is there for a family wedding, she's a freelance journalist in Canada, whilst Joe is now a famous musician, recovering alcoholic and has returned to revive a local music venue. The reunion of these three people is awkward at time, overshadowed by their memories of years ago. And then, during an excavation locally, the body of a young woman is found. The remains are identified, and it is Kala. Helen and Joe are thrust back into the heart of the community, alongside Mush and becoming reacquainted with people they'd rather forget completely. 

Walsh is an incredibly clever and sensitive author. The two time lines are woven precisely, with each new discovery making the reader's journey much clearer. He doesn't hold back on the truths and there are some violent and distressing scenes throughout, but these just add a depth and a darkness to this extraordinary story. 

As long buried secrets are slowly uncovered, and two more teenage girls disappear, everything that Helen, Mush and Joe thought they knew, and what they believed to be true is torn apart, and it's often tragic to read. 

Dark, immersive and crafted beautifully, it's difficult to grasp that this a debut novel. I was so impressed, it's not a book to be rushed, it's a book to savour and digest slowly. Highly recommended.

COLIN WALSH's short stories have won several awards including the RTE Francis
MacManus Short Story Prize and the Hennessy Literary Award. 

In 2019 he was named Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year. 

His writing has been published in the Stinging Fly, the Irish Times and broadcast on RTE Radio 1 and BBC Radio 4. 

Kala is his first novel. 

He is from Galway and lives in Belgium.

Thursday 25 January 2024

Death Writes by Andrea Carter #DeathWrites #InishowenMysteries @andysaibhcarter @LittleBrownUK @lucy_martin20 #BookReview


A very public death in front of an adoring crowd... or something more sinister?

Early summer in Glendara and the town's literary festival, Glenfest, is about to begin with Phyllis Kettle, the bookshop owner, at the helm. The big news is that Gavin Featherstone, the peninsula's bestselling but reclusive writer, has been persuaded to take part.

An eager crowd awaits his first public appearance in ten years. Unexpectedly charming, he is just about to read from his new memoir when he collapses and dies on stage.

Ben discovers that she holds Featherstone's will at the office, drafted by her predecessor. But just as it is confirmed that the author's death was murder, his assistant appears in Ben's office, brandishing a rival will which is very different from the one Ben has.

Ben and Molloy are thrown into an investigation where they are pitted against a killer who has nothing left to lose. And although working together, there are secrets Ben has to keep from Molloy... but is he keeping his own secrets from her?

Death Writes by Andrea Carter is published today; 25 January 2024 by Constable/Little Brown and is the  next in the Inishowen Mystery series, featuring Ben O'Keeffe. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

I really love this series. I haven't read them all (although they are on my bookshelf), and to be quite honest they are easily read as standalone stories. Ben O'Keeffe does feature in the books throughout but the author gives enough back story, without overloading with information to make each one totally enjoyable on its own. 

I have to own up and say that the Donegal setting is what really sold this series to me. My late Mum was from Donegal and we spent three weeks of every summer there, I still think of it as 'home' and am always attracted by Irish authors, and especially a Donegal setting. 

The story begins as solicitor Ben and her boyfriend police officer Molloy are on a mad dash journey to Dublin to check on Ben's parents. She had a phone call from their neighbour, expressing concern that there seemed to be a gang of people living in their house. Ben is really perturbed by what she discovers when she arrives, her parents are vulnerable. Their other daughter, Ben's sister was murdered and it seems that there are folk who are taking advantage of this. 

Ben manages to persuade her Mum and Dad to stay with her in Donegal, she tempts her Mum especially with the news that reclusive author Gavin Featherstone will be appearing at Glenfast, the local literary festival in Glendara.

Gavin Featherstone certainly makes an impression, his appearance will never be forgotten. Not only is it his first public appearance in years, but he then drops dead on stage in front of the audience. 

As the local solicitor, Ben discovers that she holds Featherstone's will. However, his assistant arrives with a new, more up to date will. When the death is declared a murder, Ben and Molley become totally immersed in trying to find out who killed Featherstone, and why.

Ben and Molley are fabulous characters. Their personal relationship is quite tender and loving, yet when they have their professional hats on, they can find themselves holding back, keeping secrets and actually working against each other. It's a really complex case, with Featherstone's estranged family members appearing, the inclusion of his mysterious assistant and some long-held secrets that are key to the mystery. 

The sense of place is wonderfully done, the reader can almost hear the waves breaking on the shore and smell the fine salty air. The small community feel of the town is exceptional, with everyone knowing each other and their business ..... or do they know everything?
Coupled with the drama played out in Ben's own family, her work pressures and the development of her relationship with Molloy, there's a lot going on. However it is all so well tied together, always engaging, often tense and sometimes surprising.  A great addition to a fabulous series. Highly recommended. 

Andrea Carter grew up in Ballyfin, Co. Laois. 

She graduated in Law from Trinity College, Dublin, qualified as a solicitor and moved to the Inishowen peninsula. 
Having practised law for twenty years, more recently as a barrister, she now writes full time. 
She was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards in 2019 and her first three books have been optioned for television. 
She lives in Dublin with her husband and dog

Wednesday 24 January 2024

Eat To Your Heart's Content by Sat Bains BLOG TOUR #EatToYourHeartsContent @Octopus_Books #SatBains @RandomTTours #HealthyCookery #BookReview


Sat Bains worked out, always maintained a reasonable weight and considered himself fit and healthy, so it was a shock when, in March 2021, he had a massive heart attack and underwent an emergency triple heart bypass operation.

During recovery, Sat consulted his friend, nutritionist Dr Neil Williams, who guided him on a revised diet to help maintain heart health. Having two Michelin Stars and a three-decade long obsession with flavour, Sat was not willing to sacrifice great food just because his diet now had to be heart healthy. This collection of recipes is made up of those he devised following surgery and focuses on lean protein, a mix of legumes, good fats - such as avocado, nuts and olive oil - and vegetables and fruits.

These delicious, simple dishes are designed for every day, they use supermarket-friendly ingredients and are accompanied by nutritional advice highlighting the ingredients rich in heart-healthy vitamins and minerals.

Eat To Your Heart's Content by Sat Bains was published on 18 January 2024 by Kyle Books / Octopus Books. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour 

Heart-healthy recipes from celebrated chef Sat Bains, a two-star Michelin chef and heart attack survivor, with nutritional input from Dr Neil Williams, Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition at Nottingham Trent University.

I'm a huge foodie. Martin and myself love eating out, trying new places, discovering new dishes. I was brought up in Nottinghamshire and have always wanted to visit Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham, we really need to get a table booked soon!

In the meantime, I've really enjoyed reading through this recipe book, it is packed full of healthy eats that look so appealing. Roast chicken is one of my all time favourite, go-to meals and I'm going to create my version of Sat Bain's Chicken With Seven Bulbs of Garlic dish this weekend. I've ordered a free-range chicken and the garlic is ready!

This book is really important, the facts about heart disease are shocking and frightening, we really do have a responsibility to ourselves to try harder to look after ourselves.

Coronary heart disease (CHD; also known as ischaemic heart disease) is the most common cause of heart attack and is the single biggest killer of both men and women.

In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds.

Each year cardiovascular disease (CVD) causes 3.9 million deaths in Europe and over 1.8 milllion deaths in the European Union (EU). CVD accounts for 45% of all deaths in Europe and 37% of all deaths in the EU.

60 million people are living with cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) in the EU, and 13 million new cases of CVD are diagnosed every year.

In his introduction, Sat Bains talks about the day in March 2020 when he had his heart attack. He talks about how he was treated and how he has gone on to deal with it after the fact. He began to devise weekly heart-healthy menus, under guidance from Dr Neil Williams, Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition at Nottingham Trent University. 

The next section is 'Getting Started' and discusses Unami - the fifth taste. Bains describes how the chapters are organised:

Smoothies, snacks and breads
Soups, sauces, pickles and broths
Sweet things

There's a section on heart-healthy eating, written by Dr Neil Williams where he describes and talks about the top ten heart-healthy foods.  Most of these are basic everyday ingredients that we can all integrate into our daily diet.

The recipes then follow. In sections and all well laid out and really easy to follow. There are some stunning photographs too, and although we all want to aim for the images in the book, it's fine if yours don't quite look like the dishes in the photos!

This is a great book. It is certainly going to take pride of place in my kitchen and I'm already planning which dishes I am going to attempt.  Beautifully presented with a quality hard back cover and fabulous photos. 

Sat Bains is best known for being chef proprietor of the two-Michelin starred Restaurant Sat Bains
with Rooms in Nottingham, England. 

It also holds one Green Michelin Star. 

He won the Roux Scholarship in 1999 and worked in France before returning to the UK and opening his own restaurant. 

Sat won Great British Menu in 2007 and has continued making regular appearances on television.

Instagram @satbains1

Tuesday 23 January 2024

Every Smile You Fake by Dorothy Koomson #EverySmileYouFake @DorothyKoomson @headlinepg @ed_pr #BookReview


Please take care of my baby. But don't try to find me. You'll put him in danger. x

Profiler and therapist Kez Lanyon is shocked when she finds a baby on the backseat of her car, with an unsigned note asking her to take care of him.

Kez has a pretty good idea who the mother is - Brandee, a popular social media star with a troubled background, who once lived in Kez's house.

Brandee recently dropped out of the limelight and if the internet rumours are true, Kez knows Brandee's life is in danger.

Kez is torn. Should she simply take care of the baby as she's been asked, or should she risk her whole family by using contacts from her previous job to save this young woman?

Time is running out for Brandee. Can Kez find her before it's too late?

Every Smile You Fake by Dorothy Koomson is published in hardback on 15 February 2024 by Headline. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

I have been reading Dorothy Koomson for twenty years! TWENTY YEARS! Crikey that makes me feel old, especially as I can clearly recall those early books so well. In fact, her 2006 novel, My Best Friend's Girl is one of very few books that I've read more than once. 
Over the years, this author's style has changed and developed, her early novels were more romance and general fiction, her latter novels, including this one would be classed as psychological thrillers. 

Every Smile You Fake is a book that takes the reader on an incredible journey, incorporating domestic noir, undercover agents, the rise of online misogyny, with an overwhelming theme of the power of love and family connections. 

The story is narrated by Kez, we hear her present day story and she also takes us back many years. The second narrator is Brandee; an online influencer, she tells her side of the story in messages that she posts on her 'Joyn' platform. 

Kez is force to be reckoned with, we encounter her first at a book launch. She is part of the panel as she is a profiler and psychologist and has helped the author when writing the book. When an audience member makes a statement that clearly is aimed at Kez, she doesn't hold back and uses her psychological knowledge to make the man look so small. When he follows her across a dark car park after the event, Kez once again holds her own. It is then that she discovers a baby in the back of her car, just months old. There's a note asking her to look after the baby, but not to try to find the author of the note as this could put the baby in danger. 

It soon becomes clear that asking Kez not to do something is totally the wrong thing. She knows who the mother is and she knows that she has to find her. Brandee is like a daughter to Kez, she's cared for her for years, and she is worried about her. 

It's a complex story that takes some really unexpected turns along the way. As we learn more about Kez's early life, and how she met her husband Jeb, we also learn that she has experienced some dangerously dark and terrifying things. It is those past experiences that have made her who she is today, and that haunt her on a daily basis. 

This novel is extremely relevant to today's modern society. As we see Kez and Jeb's son Moe pulled away from his family; attracted by the slick messages put out by a man who has accumulated a massive following, we can only fear for the safety of both Kez and Brandee. 

There are many different threads woven throughout the book and Koomson cleverly and expertly ties these together to create a jaw dropping, totally unexpected finale. It's so classy, so extremely well put together and it is totally gripping throughout. Highly recommended. 

 is an award-winning, internationally bestselling author and journalist whose books have been translated into more than 30 languages, with sales that exceed 2 million copies in the UK alone.

Her third novel, 
My Best Friend's Girl (2006) was selected for the Richard & Judy Summer Reads Book Club, while a TV adaptation based on The Ice Cream Girls was shown on ITV1 in 2013.

Dorothy was featured on the 2021 Powerlist as one of the most influential Black people in Britain and appeared in 
GQ Style as a Black British trailblazer.

She loves reading and writing, and is passionate about supporting other writers no matter what stage they are at in their career.