Shake It Up, Beverley by Suzan Holder

As soon as I heard about this book, I wanted to read it. It’s got a fun cover, the blurb sounds great and it says it’s perfect for fans of Milly Johnson, which I am! I also loved that the main character, Beverley, is in her fifties like I am.

So, onto the story…

Beverley Wilson is from Liverpool, a widowed mum of three grown up sons and a part-time estate agent. She is also a huge fan of The Beatles and has just bought Paul McCartney’s childhood home in an auction. This has catapulted her into unwanted fame, the tabloids calling her Beatles Bev.

Meanwhile, encouraged by her friend Jools, Beverley decides to try online dating. Having tried this myself, I could definitely relate to her experiences. But then she meets Scott Smith, who also adores The Beatles. Could she finally have found her perfect match? Obviously, you’ll have the read the book yourself to find that out…

The book is written in the first person, so we hear Beverley’s voice and understand her well. It’s a lovely chatty style of writing, which makes the book very accessible and easy to get into. It’s very funny, witty and relatable. (We’ve all been there with our full wardrobes, but nothing to wear!) It does tear along at quite a pace though and sometimes you just want to tell Bev to shut up for a few minutes! 😀

The other characters in the book are well-written too. Jools is just lovely and I thought Tina in the clothes shop was spot on, beautifully observed! We’ve all met a Tina in a clothes shop!

I enjoyed the Liverpool setting, especially as I was there earlier this month for the World Gymnastics Championships. (We took photos at The Beatles statue on the Pier Head, which is mentioned in the book!) This meant I connected well with the places in the novel and enjoyed reading about some familiar streets and landmarks. If you’re a fan of The Beatles, you’ll love this book, as there’s a lot of great detail in it about their lives.

A fun read with lots of laughs throughout.

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The perfect, laugh out loud read for fans of Milly Johnson, Cathy Bramley and Jill Mansell!

Beverley Wilson has always loved the Beatles but kissing a poster goodnight isn’t really an option when you’re a fifty-something mum of three. So when she decides it’s time to get back into the dating game, she turns to a dating agency for help.

But the long and winding road to real love is littered with dating disasters – the pantyhose pervert being the real low point and in Bev’s opinon it’s all too much. But meeting fellow Beatles fan Scott Smith changes everything…

This hilarious romantic comedy explores life, love and lonely hearts in the suburbs of Liverpool. Is Bev’s attempt to shake things up foolish…or the bravest thing she’s done?

Dastardly Deeds at St Bride’s by Debbie Young

(A Gemma Lamb Cosy Mystery)

Gemma Lamb is thirty years old, she’s just split up with her long-term boyfriend Steven and has taken a job as a teacher at St Bride’s School for Girls – mainly because she’s now homeless and the job comes with accommodation. Set in a beautiful former stately home, it’s an idyllic setting and she is told all the staff and pupils are female, so Gemma feels it should be a good place to live and work.

We meet a variety of staff members at the private boarding school and many of the hundred pupils. I like the “not quite swearing” the girls do, that’s very clever. There are lots of funny bits and I loved the character of the P.E. teacher as well.

I also adored the Headmistress Miss Harnett, who has a fabulous black cat and is more concerned about appointing members of staff who show warmth and kindness, rather than considering their academic qualifications. I loved her attitude to the parents who expected special treatment, like wanting their daughter to be a prefect or Head Girl.

I adored the Malory Towers books as a child and hoped this series would be similar. While Malory Towers was wonderfully old-fashioned, the St Bride’s series is set in the present day along with all the trappings of modern life, like social media and e-books. However, it does have a charm and quirkiness of its own. The girls are certainly not of the St Trinian’s ilk, they seem very well-behaved and maybe the odd mischievous girl would have been a fun addition, but I did enjoy it.

This is the first of three books set at St Bride’s and I look forward to reading the other two. I enjoyed the setting, the characters and I would like to see what happens next.

Dastardly Deeds at St Brides

When Gemma Lamb takes a job at a quirky English girls’ boarding school, she believes she’s found the perfect escape route from her controlling boyfriend – until she discovers the rest of the staff are hiding sinister secrets:

  • Hairnet, the eccentric headmistress who doesn’t hold with academic qualifications
  • Oriana Bliss, Head of Maths and master of disguise
  • Joscelyn Spryke, the suspiciously rugged Head of PE
  • Geography teacher Mavis Brook, surreptitiously selling off the library books
  • creepy night watchman Max Security, with his network of hidden tunnels

Even McPhee, the school cat, is leading a double life.

Tucked away in the school’s beautiful private estate in the Cotswolds, can Gemma stay safe and build a new independent future, or will past secrets catch up with her and the rest of the staff?

With a little help from her new friends, including some wise pupils, she’s going to give it her best shot…

Purchase Linkhttps://amzn.to/3A3l13R

Sinister Stranger at St Brides

When an American stranger turns up claiming to be the rightful owner of the school’s magnificent country estate it could spell trouble for everyone at St Bride’s . . .

No one can believe it when the headmistress, Hairnet, instantly accepts the stranger’s claim, not:

  • the put-upon Bursar, ousted from his cosy estate cottage by the stranger
  • the enigmatic Max Security, raring to engage in a spot of espionage
  • the sensible Judith Gosling, who knows more about Lord Bunting than she’s letting on
  • the irrepressible Gemma Lamb, determined to keep the school open

Only fickle maths teacher Oriana Bliss isn’t suspicious of the stranger, after all she can just marry him and secure St Bride’s future forever. That’s if inventive pranks by the girls – and the school cat – don’t drive him away first.

Who will nab the stranger first? Oriana with the parson’s noose? Gemma with sinister secrets? Or could this be the end of St Bride’s?

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3dBLZZ1

Wicked Whispers at St Brides

Gemma Lamb is ready for an uneventful term at St Bride’s, she’s had enough of dastardly deeds and sinister strangers.

However, she’s barely back at school before:

  • Unlucky in love Oriana is sneaking around at odd hours
  • Handsome Joe is keeping secrets
  • Militant Mavis feels a scandal is brewing

It’s all a bit much, but when a stranger appears Gemma thinks she’s had enough. But this stranger isn’t so sinister, instead he looks rather too familiar. If Gemma can’t get him away from the school the whispers and scandal his presence could unleash may just close St Bride’s doors for good.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3Surw7g

Author Bio –

Debbie Young is the much-loved author of the Sophie Sayers and St Brides cosy crime mysteries. She lives in a Cotswold village where she runs the local literary festival, and has worked at Westonbirt School, both of which provide inspiration for her writing. She is bringing both her series to Boldwood in a 13-book contract. They will be publishing several new titles in each series and republishing the backlist, starting in September 2022.

Social Media Links –  

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDebbieYoung

Twitter https://twitter.com/DebbieYoungBN

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/debbieyoungauthor/ 

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/DebbieYoungNews

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/debbie-young

The Un-Family by Linda Huber

I’m always excited to read releases from Hobeck Books, who have proved themselves to be a hive of talent this year. This book is a thriller which begins fairly ordinarily, then takes many twists and turns as the story unravels through the pages…

Holly is a vet and is married to Dylan (30). They live in a nice house in East Sussex with their dog Fred. The previous month, Dylan was promoted to distribution manager at work and seems especially stressed, so that Holly is worried about the state of their marriage. Dylan has a twin brother called Seth and their mother Elaine (75) is bringing up her granddaughter Megan (16). As well as following events in the present day, there are also chapters set in the past when Elaine was bringing up the twins.

I really enjoyed this book. The story develops quite slowly, but never becomes boring and I found myself always wanting to read on and discover what was going to happen. All of the characters are very realistic and believable. I loved Holly, Elaine and Megan and found the brothers rather strange, but when you read the chapters set in the past, things become a bit clearer.

At a point in the book, things change, something shocking occurs – and then I had to keep reading, without stopping, because it was really exciting and I was desperate to find out what was going to happen. It’s a clever book, it hooks you in and pulls you along for the ride – and what a ride it is!

Highly recommended.

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For better, for worse

Wildlife vet Holly’s life seems blissful: husband Dylan is the man of her dreams, she has a rewarding career and a lovely home. And yet, a tiny niggle is growing daily. Dylan is becoming increasingly remote – but why? Holly is determined to mend the fissure in their relationship. But a shocking discovery changes everything…  

Family ties

Then there’s Dylan’s family: his wayward twin Seth and their widowed mother Elaine, who is rather fond of a glass or two of sherry. Nothing in Elaine’s life is easy, bringing up teenage granddaughter Megan while the family grieves the loss of Megan’s mother.

Family lies

A tragic event rocks the foundations of the family, and Holly’s life starts to unravel. Dylan drifts ever further away. Megan is left uncertain and alone, while Seth falls deeper into himself.

The bonds that once bound the family together are breaking. Can they ever be repaired?

Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop by Helen Rolfe

I’ve previously read The Farmhouse of Second Chances and Finding Happiness at Heritage View by Helen Rolfe and really enjoyed them both, so I was keen on read her latest book too – Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop. As sewing is something I love, this gave me an extra reason to read it and who doesn’t love a good Christmas book too?

This book is the story of Loretta (65) and her three daughters Daisy (31), Ginny (37) and Fern (41). The family have owned the Butterbury Sewing Box for over seven decades, it being started by Loretta’s grandmother Eve in 1948. Loretta’s husband (Harry) and her mother (Rebecca) are both deceased, but she still has her father Ivor, who is 88 and a whizz with the knitting needles! We find out early on that Loretta has something she is hiding from her daughters, so we are intrigued to know what is happening.

Daisy helps her mother in the shop, while her other sisters don’t seem interested in the family business and are doing their own thing. Fern is married, has children and works hard as a financial analyst in London. Ginny works in midwifery and likes to travel all over the world. The three sisters rarely meet up these days, but their mother is arranging for them all to come home for Christmas. I loved finding out about each sister, reading the chapters written from their point of view and following their lives.

The novel is set in the village of Butterbury and I love these settings, where you get to know the little shops and the characters who live and work there. I love the quirky independent shops you find here, much nicer than the generic High Streets of cities. I would definitely love to visit Butterbury Sewing Box and join in with its sewing groups, it sounds fabulous!

The book begins in December so has a really festive feeling throughout. Its main theme is family and trying to rebuild one that has scattered somewhat. There is a lot of heart and warmth in the book and Helen Rolfe’s writing style is beautiful. I will definitely be reading more of her work in the future.

Published by Orion Fiction on 27th October 2022.

Available in Paperback, eBook and audio £7.99

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Can three sisters stitch their family back together?

Loretta has run the little sewing shop in Butterbury for years, while bringing up her three headstrong daughters. Her own grandmother taught her how to quilt, and Loretta always found time to sit with Daisy, Ginny and Fern, pulling together scraps of material – and their hopes and dreams – into a beautiful whole.

But this Christmas the family is coming apart at the seams: Fern feels like she’s failing at motherhood and marriage; Ginny’s passion for her job as a midwife is fading, Daisy is keeping two very different secrets – and most of all, Loretta seems to be hiding something from her daughters…

As they come together to create a beautiful new festive quilt, memories are stirred, the bonds between sisters healed, and new friendships woven. But when Loretta reveals the real reason she’s gathered them all back to the sewing shop, can the sisters mend the quilt, and their family, in time for Christmas?

Full of kindness, community and festive magic, this is a treat to curl up with this Christmas! Perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Jenny Colgan and Ali McNamara

About the author:
Helen Rolfe writes contemporary women’s fiction and enjoys weaving stories about family, friendship, secrets, and community. Characters often face challenges and must fight to overcome them, but above all, Helen’s stories always have a happy ending

To learn more about Helen visit her on Twitter @HJRolfe or at www.helenjrolfe.com

Snowfall Over Halesmere House by Suzanne Snow

Suzanne Snow is one of the friendliest authors I know online and her Facebook group – Snowed In – is one of my favourite groups. I especially enjoy the Facebook Live interviews she does with fellow authors. I own three of her books, but hadn’t got round to reading them – then I got Snowfall Over Halesmere House and read it in a couple of days!

For starters, the book looks amazing! The cover is beautiful – a house, Christmas trees, a cute dog and lots of glitter! Yes, I know!!! Stunning! But what’s the story like? Well, they say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can with this one because the story is also beautiful, festive, glittery, based in a big house – and with a dog called Primrose in it!

The star of the novel is Ella Grant and we meet her in November, when she has just arrived at the impressive Halesmere House in Cumbria to begin her new job there. Her task is to relaunch the house as a holiday home from January. Straight away, she meets Noelle Bourdon (the French owner of the house) and her grandchildren Lily (6) and Arlo (4), who Ella will be helping look after. She then meets Max Bentley, Noelle’s son, who seems rather obnoxious. After that meeting, Ella isn’t even sure there’s a job for her anymore!

I was interested in the story straight away. Ella is a character I wanted to get to know and I was looking forward to finding out more about her throughout the book. All the characters just jump out of the page, they’re so authentic. Lily and Arlo are adorable, it’s often hard to get kids right in fiction, but these are perfectly done. Lily is often hilarious, with the things she says! I also loved Primrose the naughty, but adorable, dog! The relationships between Max and his mother, and Max and his children, are also interesting and he is trying so hard at being a single dad and juggling his work with his family commitments.

As with all good romance books, there are plenty of other topics covered. Both Ella and Max are dealing with grief and trying to move on with their lives following a tragedy. There are some brilliantly funny moments (especially with the children) and many serious moments too. Suzanne Snow has a great writing style that immediately draws you into the story and wanting to keep reading, to find out what the pages have in store for the cast of characters within them. Odd job man Stan was another of my favourites.

I liked the community setting of the book. Although a lot of the story is based at Halesmere House itself, we find out about the village, its community shop, pub, pretty cottages and those that live and work there. It’s a really idyllic setting and the Lake District is a beautiful part of the country. I loved getting to know the other characters there including Rowan and Marta. I do enjoy these kinds of books where the reader feels they are living there too and making friends with all the characters.

I enjoy a good Christmas book and reading this novel in November was great, as it really got me excited about the approaching festive season. I loved the way that Halesmere House was decorated for Christmas and all the events going on, like the Artisan Christmas Open Day.

I find in some romance novels that the developing relationship can seem slightly formulaic, as if the author thinks “Ooh this is going too well, I need to put in an obstacle here” and I understand why this is done, but I occasionally find it annoying. Suzanne Snow, however, lets the romance develop in a way that feels very natural. We know the obstacles are there, but they’re present from the start, not thrown in partway through. I loved how the characters form a friendship which develops slowly, as they realise how much they have in common. This is very believable and beautifully done.

As you can probably tell from my review, I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it.

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Welcome to Halesmere House, where romance might be just around the corner…

Ella is a successful chef who is looking for a temporary change of pace so she can figure out her next career steps. She’s been living in the past for so many years, it’s time she started living for herself. Luckily, Halesmere House in the Lake District is in need of a manager to kick-start its artists’ residence and Ella can’t wait to start.

There she meets single dad Max, the son of her eccentric new boss. He’s rattled by her presence and is convinced that Ella’s passing involvement in Halesmere will only prove painful to his children, who are already growing attached to the fun and lovely manager.

It isn’t long before Ella realises she’s falling in love with more than Halesmere and its community. But if she stays, is she really choosing a career for herself, or yet again for someone else?

A tender and uplifting Christmas romance for fans of Heidi Swain, Karen Swan and Sue Moorcroft.

You Don’t Know What War Is by Yeva Skalietska

Everyone has been moved by this year’s events in Ukraine. I personally have friends over there – one who I haven’t heard from for months now – and we have all seen the news reports of the Russians bombing Ukraine, President Zelensky being defiant against Putin’s threats. But this book – You Don’t Know What War Is – gives us another perspective, as twelve-year-old Yeva Skalietska shares her thoughts with us. The diary she kept from February to May 2022 follow events we watched in the News, but this is a first-hand account from a child who was there.

For starters, it’s a beautifully produced and presented book. The cover is blue and yellow – Ukraine’s national colours – with the country’s famous sunflowers on there. There are flaps at the front and back of the book, which can be used as bookmarks while you are reading. The foreword is written by the famous author Michael Morpurgo and there’s a map of Kharkiv (Yeva’s home city). The text is presented alongside news headlines, reproductions of text messages and photos from Yeva’s life.

The diary begins on February 14th – Yeva’s 12th birthday. Life is normal, she goes to school, her friends say ‘Happy birthday!’ to her and she is looking forward to her party at the local bowling alley. She lives with her Granny Iryna and they have a family birthday tea with other relatives. She’s like many other kids her age all over the world – she likes painting, plays the piano and is learning English. Kharkiv sounds amazing with its zoo, dolphinarium, gardens and the famous Gorky Park – a city full of culture, somewhere I would have loved to visit…

Then on February 24th, everything changes.

Yeva writes “I’ve grown up hearing about war, but I’ve never been in one. I was terrified.”

For quite a short book (240 pages), it is a powerful read. I follow quite a few Ukrainians on Twitter who tweet about their daily life in the war, but reading things from the perspective of Yeva who is just twelve, it really feels so evil that a young girl’s life is ruined by this political act. You can see the mental strain she is under, as she suddenly fears for her life. Her home no longer feels safe, but then, where is safe now?

Despite the tragedy behind the book, Yeva’s story isn’t all negative. I love the way she communicates with her classmates on their phones, you can see how they are trying to keep each other’s spirits up amongst all the terror and uncertainty. They chat about what is happening where they are and as the days continue, they update each other on where they flee to, if they leave Kharkiv. (At the end of the book, some of her friends write updates on their situations.) Although she’s only a child, Yeva tries to see the positives, enjoying some sunshine or telling people not to despair. The resilience shown here is one we have seen from many Ukrainians over the past nine months.

This is an important book and I highly recommend it.

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*Featured on This Morning, Steph’s Packed Lunch, Radio 4: Today and Channel 4 News*

Everyone knows the word ‘war’. But very few understand what it truly means. When you find you have to face it, you feel totally lost, walled in by fright and despair. Until you’ve been there, you don’t know what war is.

This is the gripping and moving diary of young Ukrainian refugee Yeva Skalietska. It follows twelve days in Ukraine that changed 12-year-old Yeva’s life forever. She was woken in the early hours to the terrifying sounds of shelling. Russia had invaded Ukraine, and her beloved Kharkiv home was no longer the safe haven it should have been. It was while she was forced to seek shelter in a damp, cramped basement that Yeva decided to write down her story. And it is a story the world needs to hear.

Yeva captured the nation’s heart when she was featured on Channel 4 News with her granny as they fled Ukraine for Dublin. In You Don’t Know What War Is, Yeva records what is happening hour-by-hour as she seeks safety and travels from Kharkiv to Dublin. Each eye-opening diary entry is supplemented by personal photographs, excerpts of messages between Yeva and her friends and daily headlines from around the world, while three beautifully detailed maps (by Kharkiv-native Olga Shtonda) help the reader track Yeva and her granny’s journey. You Don’t Know What War Is is a powerful insight into what conflict is like through the eyes of a child and an essential read for adults and older children alike.

Published in association with the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, with a foreword by Michael Morpurgo.
‘Everyone, absolutely everyone, should read it. You will love Yeva.’ Christy Lefteri, No.1 international bestselling author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo
‘Yeva speaks a truth all of us must listen to’ Michael Morpurgo, award-winning author of War Horse
‘Exhilarating, shattering, heartbreaking, brilliant’ Roddy Doyle, Booker Prize-winning author
‘The most important story of our times’ Viv Groskop, podcaster and writer
‘A herstory of Ukraine’ Olia Hercules, Ukrainian chef and food writer

A Winter Wish by Rosie Green

This is part of the Little Duck Pond Café series, but can be read as a standalone. However, as it’s part of a trilogy of Clara’s story, I’d recommend you at least read Clara’s Secret Garden first.

I love Rosie Green’s books. The characters are so believable, the setting is wonderful and her writing is full of warmth and heart. A Winter Wish also has lots of lovely horses in it and the stepsisters beginning riding lessons reminded me of when I learned to ride at the age of 48.

This novella begins in October, so we get to experience Hallowee’en and Bonfire Night through the characters, as well as the build-up to the festive season. The final part in the trilogy will cover Christmas itself – Clara’s Christmas Magic.

Lois and Rory are still together and Clara is still going out with Shaun. I feel a bit sorry for Shaun, as he seems a lovely guy, but Clara still cares about Rory – though she is pretending she didn’t have feelings for him and that he is nothing more than her stepsister’s boyfriend.

Lois is very annoying and often insulting to Clara, who I love, so I spent a lot of my reading time tutting at Lois and her behaviour and rudeness. I desperately wanted Clara to find her happy ending, while wishing Lois would fall headfirst into a pile of horse poo.

One of my favourite characters is Elsie, Rory’s little sister. She has really flourished since the first book and I loved following her journey and seeing how her dancing was improving. Bertie is adorable too, of course, and I enjoyed following the progress of Clara’s lovely Gran.

It was also really good to find out more about Irene (Lois’s mum and Clara’s stepmum)’s backstory, which sheds some light on why she is as troubled as she is. I felt real sympathy for her and it really seemed like I knew her better after reading this second book.

As this story follows on from Clara’s Secret Garden, I immediately felt I was back there in the pages, in Sunnybrook, catching up with a whole host of familiar faces. The action continues, it’s well-paced and holds your interest and I’m now looking forward to the final part of the trilogy to see how things end up.

And Lois is right, we could all #BeMoreClara

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A Winter Wish, Little Duck Pond Café

With her new-found happiness unexpectedly crushed, Clara is struggling to move forward. It’s hard – especially with step-sister Lois bouncing around the place with joy and making all sorts of plans for the future. And when the household is shocked by a mysterious break-in and a neighbour makes a shocking accusation, Clara finds herself in an impossible position. It’s a situation that threatens to destroy her blossoming romance almost before it’s begun . . .

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3JYkLI5

Author Bio –

Rosie’s series of novellas is centred around life in a country village cafe. ‘Clara’s Secret Garden’, the first in a trilogy telling Clara’s story, was published in August, and ‘A Winter Wish’ is Book 2. Look out for ‘Clara’s Christmas Magic’, the third and final book in the trilogy, out in November 2022.

Follow Rosie on Twitter – https://twitter.com/Rosie_Green88

The Confession by Maureen Myant

Hobeck Books have produced some excellent novels this year, I have been very impressed with them and the wonderful talented authors they publish. I was therefore looking forward to reading their latest release – The Confession by Maureen Myant.

Julie Campbell is 45 and a music teacher in Scotland. When she is found dead at her desk, the police are shocked to find a confession on her laptop, admitting to a series of five murders. The first part of the book is written from Julie’s point of view, so you get to see what she does and how she feels about everything.

Then we move on to following the police investigation, seeing things from the viewpoint of DS Mark Nicholson. Married to Karen (Great name, ha!) with three children, Mark is overworked and very stressed, the pressures of his long working days spilling over into his marriage and causing problems.

Then a woman called Suzanne appears in the book and everything becomes even more intriguing…

I loved all the twists and turns of this story. There are lots of surprises and “oooh!” moments throughout the book. I loved trying to untangle the tangled web. The writing is really good and the characters are great, I especially loved Mark. He doesn’t have an easy time of it and you have to feel sorry for him.

I loved the pacing of this book. Sometimes books in this genre whizz along at super-speed, but this one has perfect pacing – slow enough to let us meet the characters and get to know them, but still being a page turner. If I’d been able to have a lie in this morning, I’d have stayed up until the early hours reading this. It’s really clever, intriguing, draws you in and holds you there…

9 out of 10

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A house on a quiet street on the southside of Glasgow. Neat, terraced homes with manicured lawns and pruned trees. Not the sort of place that reeks of decay or where dead bluebottles pile up on a windowsill.

When the police break in, there’s a surprise in store for them. They find Julie Campbell’s decaying body at her desk, her laptop open beside her. She’s a well-liked, respectable woman. On the laptop is a confession – to five murders. There’s one major problem though – only one of the victims she names is actually dead.

DI Mark Nicholson is persuaded by his boss DCI Alex Scrimgeour that the confession is a fantasy, and to drop the case, but Mark senses there’s more to it than meets the eye. As he delves further, the darkest of secrets are revealed, and everyone around him is dragged into a vortex of fear, danger and murder. No one is beyond suspicion as The Confession becomes a murderous reality.

PROMO: The Cellar by John Nicholl

WARNING: You’ll need a strong stomach for this book!

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The Cellar

Dark, disturbing and gripping. This is not for the faint of heart.

Nurse. Protégé. Murderer.

Marcus Gove has been all these things. He’s reached the pinnacle of his art and now it’s time for him to take a protege. Lovely Lucy is perfect for the role, or she will be . . .

Artist. Teacher. Daughter.

Lucy Williams is just like everyone else. She’s had some success as an artist, not so much success in love, but she’s getting by. But soon she’s going to have to become something else if she wants to be a survivor.

Detective. Ex-husband. Underdog.

Ray Lewis’s career isn’t heading anywhere. But he’s a solid detective and he’s determined to find Lucy no matter what the upper brass throw at him.

Three people. Ten days. Who will live and who will die?

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3K0XBkc

Author Bio –

John Nicholl is the bestselling author of numerous psychological thrillers and detective series, previously published by Bloodhound, and inspired by his real-life experience as an ex-police officer and child protection social worker. Boldwood will be publishing the next title in his Galbraith series and a new psychological thriller in autumn 2022, and will be reissuing his bestselling backlist from May 2022.

Social Media Links –  

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JohnNichollAuthor

Twitter https://twitter.com/nicholl06

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/johnnichollauthor/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/JohnNichollNews  

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/john-nicholl

Christmas in Bellbird Bay by Maggie Christensen

This is the fourth book in the Bellbird Bay series and I enjoyed the previous books, so I was looking forward to reading the latest release by Maggie Christensen – Christmas in Bellbird Bay.

This book tells the story of Libby Walker. Widowed in her fifties, she lives in a cottage facing the ocean in Bellbird Bay with her dog Milo. She has settled into the community, has a job in the library and good friends around her.

The novel begins in November, but being set in Australia, it’s coming up to summer. Libby’s daughter Emma rings to tell her that she has split up from her husband, so she goes to Brisbane to be with Emma and her daughter Clancy (4).

Meanwhile, Adam Holland has to go to Bellbird Bay to fulfil the wishes of his friend. He rents a seaside cottage and plans to continue his work there, writing political thrillers.

Libby returns, Emma and Clancy accompanying her. (I loved Clancy, she’s so cute, but boy, could Emma be annoying!)

Of course, Libby and Adam meet. They are a similar age, both dealing with the loss of someone close. Can they become friends and help each other? Or even more than friends?

You’ll run into some familiar faces if you’ve read any of the previous books in the series. Ailsa, Martin, Bev, Ruby, Cleo and Will all feature here, as Adam gets to know the residents of Bellbird Bay. It was good to catch up with characters from earlier books and find out how they are getting on.

I do enjoy reading books that feature characters of my age, so with both Libby and Adam being in their fifties like me, I liked being able to relate to them in this way. They are both interesting and realistic characters and their stories kept me reading to find out what would happen.

Maggie Christensen’s writing is very accessible, it’s easy to get into the story and you’re interested in the main characters straight away. I enjoyed this being a Christmas book too and reading how festive traditions are in Australia.

The romances Maggie writes about are always very respectful, just the kind I enjoy. Libby’s deceased husband Bernie is remembered beautifully in the story and Libby explains how she will always love him, but after two years, feels it is time to consider moving on. I also love how the relationships are slow romances, not sudden bursts of passion, which feels much more believable. I am personally not a fan of reading details about characters’ actions in the bedroom, another aspect Maggie gets perfectly right in her novels. I much prefer the “behind closed doors” scenes in both my own writing and my reading and Maggie does this all beautifully.

Overall, a lovely read!

BLURB

Christmas in Bellbird Bay

Libby Walker never imagined she’d be moving into the dream house she and her husband had purchased for their retirement as a widow. Intent on making a new life for herself in the quiet coastal town of Bellbird Bay, Libby’s life is upended by an unexpected call from her daughter.

Adam Holland’s unhappy childhood and broken home has left him scarred. Content with the life he has built for himself as a journalist and author of political thrillers, Adam arrives in Bellbird Bay to fulfil the deathbed request of an old friend.

When Libby and Adam meet, there is an initial attraction. But Libby is grieving for her late husband and trying to help her daughter sort out her life, and Adam has no intention of forming a relationship, wary of commitment because of how his family was torn apart.

Will the peace and tranquillity of Bellbird Bay help these two move on from old hurts and make this a Christmas to remember, or will events conspire to keep them apart?

A heartwarming tale of family, friends, and how a second chance at love can happen when you least expect it.

Purchase Link – getbook.at/ChristmasinBellbirdBay


Author Bio –

After a career in education, Maggie Christensen began writing contemporary women’s fiction portraying mature women facing life-changing situations, and historical fiction set in her native Scotland. Her travels inspire her writing, be it her trips to visit family in Scotland, in Oregon, USA or her home on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast. Maggie writes of mature heroines coming to terms with changes in their lives and the heroes worthy of them. Maggie has been called the queen of mature age fiction and her writing has been described by one reviewer as like a nice warm cup of tea. It is warm, nourishing, comforting and embracing.

From the small town in Scotland where she grew up, Maggie was lured to Australia by the call to ‘Come and teach in the sun’. Once there, she worked as a primary school teacher, university lecturer and in educational management. Now living with her husband of over thirty years on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she loves walking on the deserted beach in the early mornings and having coffee by the river on weekends. Her days are spent surrounded by books, either reading or writing them – her idea of heaven!

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/maggiechristensenauthor
https://twitter.com/MaggieChriste33
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8120020.Maggie_Christensen

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/maggie-christensen?list=about