The Christmas Pig by J.K. Rowling

EXCERPT: Compass stared at Jack for a moment longer, then her voice rang out across the Wastes, ‘They’ll talk of this for centuries! The Living Boy ‘oo walked into the Loser’s Lair to find ‘is pig and . . . well, we don’t know ‘ow the story ends, do we?’
‘Not yet,’ said Jack.

ABOUT ‘THE CHRISTMAS PIG’: Jack loves his childhood toy, Dur Pig. DP has always been there for him, through good and bad. Until one Christmas Eve something terrible happens — DP is lost. But Christmas Eve is a night for miracles and lost causes, a night when all things can come to life… even toys. And Jack’s newest toy — the Christmas Pig (DP’s replacement) — has a daring plan: Together they’ll embark on a magical journey to seek something lost, and to save the best friend Jack has ever known…

MY THOUGHTS: This terrified my almost five year old grandson when I gave it to him the Christmas before last. Once the treasured cuddly toy was lost, he didn’t want to read any more. ‘It’s too scary, Nana,’ he said, no doubt thinking of his own much loved cuddly ‘Tot’ and the devastation he would feel should anything happen to him!

Interesting, because he loves the Famous Five where all sorts of much scarier things happen to the children, but I guess he was still at the stage where he related more to something bad happening to his favourite toy.

Now he’s almost six, we might try reading this again.

I have read it in the interim. The Christmas Pig is a children’s story, but it deals with loss and love, grief, persistence and acceptance.

I enjoyed The Christmas Pig, but didn’t love it. I would have loved to have felt the magic.

I will revise this review to include Luke’s thoughts after he has finished reading it.


#childrensfiction #fantasy #illustrated

I: @jkrowling_official @littlebrownyoungreaders

T: #JKRowlong @littlebrownyr

THE AUTHOR: Jo grew up surrounded by books. “I lived for books,’’ she has said. “I was your basic common-or-garden bookworm, complete with freckles and National Health spectacles.”

The Dead of Winter by Stuart MacBride

EXCERPT: Bigtoria sank into an office chair, pulled the phone towards her and dialled. Sat there with the handset to her ear, frowning. Then hung up and had another go. More frowning. This time, instead of returning the handset to the cradle, she clicked the button-thing up and down a few times.
Edward wandered over. ‘Problem, Guv?’
‘Nine for an outside line?’ She poked the button again. ‘Not even getting a dialling tone.’
Sergeant Farrow tried another phone. ‘Fudge.’
Edward joined in, but the receiver just hissed in his ear. ‘This one’s buggered too.’
‘Honestly!’ Sergeant Farrow picked up another handset, jaw working on something tough as she listened. ‘How are we supposed to work like this? “State-of-the-art operation, designed to handle one of the country’s most challenging offender-management environments” my . . . bottom.’ Slamming the handset down.
‘OK . . .’ Edward raised his eyebrows at Bigtoria. ‘So we’ve no mobile signal, the Airwaves are shagged, and the landlines are down. We’re completely cut off, aren’t we.’ In a village populated with sex-offenders, murderers, and the general dregs of the criminal justice system.
And then some.

ABOUT ‘THE DEAD OF WINTER’: It was supposed to be an easy job.

All Detective Constable Edward Reekie had to do was pick up a dying prisoner from HMP Grampian and deliver him somewhere to live out his last few months in peace.

From the outside, Glenfarach looks like a quaint, sleepy, snow-dusted village, nestled deep in the heart of Cairngorms National Park, but things aren’t what they seem. The place is thick with security cameras and there’s a strict nine o’clock curfew, because Glenfarach is the final sanctuary for people who’ve served their sentences but can’t be safely released into the general population.

Edward’s new boss, DI Montgomery-Porter, insists they head back to Aberdeen before the approaching blizzards shut everything down, but when an ex-cop-turned-gangster is discovered tortured to death in his bungalow, someone needs to take charge.

The weather’s closing in, tensions are mounting, and time’s running out – something nasty has come to Glenfarach, and Edward is standing right in its way…

MY THOUGHTS: Black humour is Stuart MacBride’s speciality, and he delivers it in spades – along with a rollicking good novel laced with crime and corruption.

The storyline is unique and intriguing and I was instantly drawn in. To be honest, I’ve never before read anything quite like this.

Edward Reekie – I bet he had a hard time at school – is treated appallingly by his boss DI Victoria Montgomery-Porter, aka Bigtoria. She’s a horrible woman. Yet he doggedly continues to do his job, albeit with a fair bit of moaning and whingeing when he’s in her company. But when your backs are against the wall, he’s the one to rely on.

Initially, I thought the idea of a ‘retirement’ village for criminals who can’t, for one reason or another, be released back into the community when they have served their sentences was a good idea. I have since changed my mind.

The Dead of Winter is fast-paced, entertaining and unpredictable. I loved it.


#TheDeadofWinter #NetGalley

I: @stuart.macbride @randomhouse

T: @StuartMacBride @randomhouse

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #scottishnoir #thriller #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Stuart MacBride lives in the northeast of Scotland with his wife Fiona, cats Gherkin, Onion and Beetroot, some hens, some horses and an impressive collection of assorted weeds.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Bantam Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Dead of Winter by Stuart MacBride for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and

Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six by Lisa Unger

EXCERPT: Hannah drifted into the dining area to get a closer look at the sculpture. As she drew closer, she felt goose bumps come up on her flesh.
Yes, it was a skull, but not an animal. It was unmistakably human. She found herself transfixed by the dark eyeholes, moved in closer.
What surrounded it was not bleached wood but more bones. She was no expert but she could make out ribs, pieces of vertebrae, hip bones, collarbones, shards and fragments, sharp and ragged. Hannah released a little gasp, then backed up and found herself knocking into Chef Jeff.
‘Interesting piece, isn’t it?’ he said.
Hannah felt at a loss for words. ‘Is that real? Are those – human bones?’
He smiled coolly, holding a big pair of grilling tongs. His apron was smeared with something dark. It looked like – blood. His gaze was steely. Hannah felt her stomach churn a bit.
‘Yes,’ he confirmed. ‘Those are human bones. This piece is created by a local artist, a friend of the host’s. Are you familiar with the concept of memento mori?’
Hannah shook her head, wishing she could just return to the group but not wanting to be rude.
‘From the Latin,’ he went on. ‘Remember that you must die

ABOUT ‘SECLUDED CABIN SLEEPS SIX’: Three couples rent a luxury cabin in the woods for a weekend getaway to die for in this chilling locked-room thriller by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger.

What could be more restful, more restorative, than a weekend getaway with family and friends? An isolated luxury cabin in the woods, complete with spectacular views, a hot tub and a personal chef. Hannah’s loving and generous tech-mogul brother found the listing online. The reviews are stellar. It’s his birthday gift to Hannah and includes their spouses and another couple. The six friends need this trip with good food, good company and lots of R & R, far from the chatter and pressures of modern life.

But the dreamy weekend is about to turn into a nightmare. A deadly storm is brewing. The rental host seems just a little too present. The personal chef reveals that their beautiful house has a spine-tingling history. And the friends have their own complicated past, with secrets that run blood deep. How well does Hannah know her brother, her own husband? Can she trust her best friend? And who is the new boyfriend, crashing their party? Meanwhile, someone is determined to ruin the weekend, looking to exact a payback for deeds long buried. Who is the stranger among them?

MY THOUGHTS: I had no idea where Lisa Unger was taking me, but was I worried? No.

The characters are all flawed. There are layers of mistakes made both in the present and the past, bad judgments, failures, lies, deception and secrets.

Mako (Mickey), Tech Entrepreneur, and wife Liza, yoga instructor and lifestyle influencer, have an enviable lifestyle. But there are rumours about Mako, about both his business practices and what he gets up to in private. Liza is a very different person to Mako, almost diametrically opposite. She’s clean living and concerned about the environment. She’s also well aware of what Mako is really like, but loves him in spite of his deficiencies and deceptions.

Mako’s sister Hannah is married to Bruce, a nice solid guy who also works in the tech industry, currently for Mako. They have a baby daughter, Gigi, who they are leaving for the first time. Hannah adores her brother and always has. Although younger than Mako, it is she that has always been on the lookout for him, the one who has, on numerous occasions, pulled his ass out of the fire; not the other way around.

Cricket has been Hannah’s best friend, through school and beyond. She’s Mako’s ex, and they still have a very close relationship. Hannah, Mako and Cricket have been through a lot together, have a lot of history, a lot of shared secrets. This weekend Cricket is accompanied by her new boyfriend, Joshua who, she excitedly reveals to Hannah, may just be ‘the one.’

The approaching storm isn’t the only trouble on the horizon for this group. People are acting oddly, the chef and his wait staff are creepy, and Hannah is sure that they are being watched.

Running parallel to the main thread is the story of Henry, a young man of dubious origin, orphaned in his teenage years and brought up in a group home. I loved Henry’s character. Henry is the centre of a great mystery. Officially, he doesn’t exist.

Unger takes these two threads and weaves them together in a way I certainly wasn’t expecting, but one that I found very satisfying.


#SecludedCabinSleepsSix #NetGalley

I: @launger @legend_times

T: @lisaunger @Legend_Times

#contemporaryfiction #domesticdrama #familydrama #mystery #thriller #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Lisa Unger is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author. With books published in thirty languages and millions of copies sold worldwide, she is widely regarded as a master of suspense. She lives on the west coast of Florida with her family.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Legend Press for providing a digital ARC of Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six by Lisa Unger for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and

The Mistress Next Door by Lesley Sanderson

EXCERPT: He calls me his mistress. I like it; it sounds quaint and old fashioned and brings to mind a powerful woman, à la Anne Boleyn. Milk-white skin, dark hair and dangerous eyes, swishing around in her heavy brocade dress made from cascades of the ornate fabric, only her delicate shoulders and collarbones visible above her neckline, playing hard to get before eventually securing her prize.
I’ve already secured mine, and once that was done, I set my attention on his wife. Who’d have thought that we’d become friends, popping in and out of one another’s houses, stretching at yoga classes and sweating on the treadmill and sharing thick, green gloop afterwards, believing it is good for us. I even get to spend time with their children, which is extra sweet, and there’s no danger of them becoming mine. Children aren’t part of a mistress’s lot. But once I’m no longer the mistress . . .

ABOUT ‘THE MISTRESS NEXT DOOR’: I know what you did. You destroyed my life. Now I’m going to take everything from you, starting with your husband. I’m your worst nightmare, and I’m closer than you think.

Oliver, my husband and the father of our three little girls, used to be my rock. But recently he’s been behaving strangely, staying out late, working weekends and emotionally absent even when home. Now as I clutch a receipt for a hotel room and champagne for two, hidden away in his coat pocket, I’m devastated. What else can I assume other than he’s cheating?

I’ve risked everything for the life I have now, a life that’s a million miles from… before. Not that Oliver would know anything about that. I would do anything to hold on to the perfect future I so dearly long for. A future that is now about to come crashing down.

Because Oliver’s cheating isn’t the only threat to my family. This morning I received an anonymous note. One that changes everything. The past isn’t just haunting me, it’s coming back to destroy me. It seems that someone in our close-knit community of Prospect Close knows my secret. Someone who’s willing to do whatever it takes to get their revenge. They’ve already stolen my husband. How much further will they go? And what can I do to stop them…?

MY THOUGHTS: Is it me? Or is it you? I’m not sure. Usually Lesley Sanderson’s books draw me right in and I devour them in a day or two. But somehow The Mistress Next Door missed the mark for me.

The story is told over two timelines – now and 2006 – by the main character, Harriet, and the prologue from the point of view of the anonymous mistress. Maybe we should have heard a little bit more from her to keep the tension ramped up? And her revelation? – I’ll deal with that later.

I do admit that I had great fun trying to decide who she was, and frequently changed my mind as to her identity.

I had no particularly strong feelings about Harriet, whom I should have felt empathy for. She came across as sulky and petulant at times. Her husband Oliver I didn’t like at all. Martin and Edward were the most interesting characters, and we didn’t see nearly enough of them. They had a great vantage point from their penthouse apartment and I’m sure they saw and knew far more than they let on.

The motive behind all this and the great revelation just didn’t ring my bells and was disappointing, as was the revelation of Harriet’s secret. It was obvious from the moment she started telling her backstory what it was going to be.

This particular novel lacked the suspense I have come to expect from this author. While have enjoyed Lesley Sanderson’s books to varying degrees previously, this is definitely my least favourite. I kind of enjoyed this, mainly with a sense of anticipation that wasn’t, in the end, realised.

I was lucky enough to receive both a digital and audio ARC of The Mistress Next Door, switching from one format to the other depending on what I was doing. I absolutely adored Eilidh Beaton’s narration.


#TheMistressNextDoor #NetGalley

I: @lesleysandersonauthor @bookouture

T: @LSandersonbooks @Bookouture

#contemporaryfiction #domesticdrama #mystery

THE AUTHOR: Lesley spends her days writing in coffee shops in Kings Cross where she lives and also works as a librarian in a multicultural school. She loves the atmosphere and eclectic mix of people in the area, and she loves languages.

She attended the Curtis Brown Creative novel writing course in 2015/6, and in 2017 was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish fiction prize.

Lesley discovered Patricia Highsmith as a teenager and has since been hooked on psychological thrillers. She is particularly interested in the psychology of female relationships.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing both a digital and audio ARC of The Mistress Next Door written by Lesley Sanderson and narrated by Eilidh Beaton. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni

EXCERPT: My mother was not the object of their interest. It seemed that when the doctor had placed me upon my mother’s stomach to cut the umbilical cord, I’d finally opened my eyes. And that’s when the euphoria became bewilderment. The doctor froze, slack jawed. The attending nurse let out a yip, which she belatedly tried to cover by placing her hand over her mouth.
‘Give me my son,’ my mother had said amid the silent stares, whereupon the nurse had swaddled me in a blanket and handed me to her.
This was how my father found us when he waded through the crowd for a closer inspection and looked me in the eyes for the first time.
‘What the Sam Hell?’ he whispered.

ABOUT ‘THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF SAM HELL’: Sam Hill always saw the world through different eyes. Born with red pupils, he was called “Devil Boy” or Sam “Hell” by his classmates; “God’s will” is what his mother called his ocular albinism. Her words were of little comfort, but Sam persevered, buoyed by his mother’s devout faith, his father’s practical wisdom, and his two other misfit friends.

Sam believed it was God who sent Ernie Cantwell, the only African American kid in his class, to be the friend he so desperately needed. And that it was God’s idea for Mickie Kennedy to storm into Our Lady of Mercy like a tornado, uprooting every rule Sam had been taught about boys and girls.

Forty years later, Sam, a small-town eye doctor, is no longer certain anything was by design—especially not the tragedy that caused him to turn his back on his friends, his hometown, and the life he’d always known. Running from the pain, eyes closed, served little purpose. Now, as he looks back on his life, Sam embarks on a journey that will take him halfway around the world. This time, his eyes are wide open—bringing into clear view what changed him, defined him, and made him so afraid, until he can finally see what truly matters.

MY THOUGHTS: I wanted to like this a whole lot more than I did. Where do I start?

There were medical errors that made me cringe. Occular Albinism is not merely a case of having red eyes. There would have been multiple other complications affecting Sam’s sight and life. Also, Sam leaves the surgery for a child’s detached retina for a few weeks. This is an injury that is treated by immediate surgery. Delaying surgery is both dangerous and negligent.

Sam’s life isn’t particularly extraordinary. Any child who has a disability or is ‘different’ in any way experiences all the same prejudices and ostracism that Sam did. And any mother worth her salt will stand up and fight for her child, just as Sam’s did.

Mickie was the outstanding character for me, and I would have loved more of her story incorporated into the book.

There were parts of the story that I enjoyed and which touched me, particularly in the second half of the book, and parts that bored me. I didn’t dislike it, but nor did I love it.


#TheExtraordinaryLifeOfSamHell #NetGalley

I: @robertdugoni @amazonpublishing

T: @robertdugoni @AmazonPub

#familydrama #friendship #historicalfiction

THE AUTHOR: A writer turned lawyer turned writer.
Robert Dugoni was born in Idaho and raised in Northern California the middle child of a family of ten siblings. Dugoni jokes that he didn’t get much of a chance to talk, so he wrote. By the seventh grade he knew he wanted to be a writer.

Dugoni wrote his way to Stanford University, receiving writing awards along the way, and majored in communications/journalism and creative writing while working as a reporter for the Stanford Daily. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and worked briefly as a reporter in the Metro Office and the San Gabriel Valley Office of the Los Angeles Times.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Lake Union via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Mothered by Zoje Stage

EXCERPT: Given how the evening was progressing, Grace was starting to think he was taking advantage of the situation. He hadn’t even asked what medications “Miss Jacquelyn” was on when she requested a teensy refill and he splashed more wine into her glass. It was a fraction of what he and Grace had consumed – she had a cheap shiraz on hand that they dived into after finishing Miguel’s much better merlot – but, his conversational efforts were revealing a mischievous undertone: she got the feeling he was plying her mom with alcohol.
His questions played into Jackie’s worst social tendency to spin a funny tale – often at someone else’s expense to make herself look witty. Miguel made it almost too easy, focusing on Grace’s awkward elementary school years; he asked what sorts of hobbies she’d had, if she’d sung in the choir or played any sports. The less drunk part of her thought that he was probably hoping to hear Jackie boast about Grace’s early talents, and maybe he was ready with supportive retorts, “She always loved a good karaoke night!”, or “So that’s how she learned to crush her opponents!” (Miguel believed she was too competitive when it came to board games.) He might also have been digging for more details about Hope.
‘Can we do something else now?’ Grace asked, lifeless. The school assembly memory was all the more bitter for being one of the few times her mother had been in attendance. Grace had been so excited, so nervous.
Miguel blew her a kiss and she read in his expression This will be over soon, which made her feel a smidge better. Maybe this was good, give Miguel a hearty dose of Brassy Mommy – which was a better match to Grace’s descriptions than the Jolly Chef or Carefree Hostess he’d witnessed for most of the evening. Maybe Jackie hadn’t really changed as much as it sometimes seemed. Her stresses were different now and her culinary skills improved, but perhaps underneath she was still the poisonous viper from Grace’s youth, waiting to lash out.

ABOUT ‘MOTHERED’: Grace isn’t exactly thrilled when her newly widowed mother, Jackie, asks to move in with her. They’ve never had a great relationship, and Grace likes her space—especially now that she’s stuck at home during a pandemic. Then again, she needs help with the mortgage after losing her job. And maybe it’ll be a chance for them to bond—or at least give each other a hand.

But living with Mother isn’t for everyone. Good intentions turn bad soon after Jackie moves in. Old wounds fester; new ones open. Grace starts having nightmares about her disabled twin sister, who died when they were kids. And Jackie discovers that Grace secretly catfishes people online—a hobby Jackie thinks is unforgivable.

When Jackie makes an earth-shattering accusation against her, Grace sees it as an act of revenge, and it sends her spiraling into a sleep-deprived madness. As the walls close in, the ghosts of Grace’s past collide with a new but familiar threat: Mom.

MY THOUGHTS: Yesterday, upon the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there again today ; When I came home last night at three. The man was waiting there for me.
– William Hughes Mearns

Reading Mothered by Zoje Stage is a similar experience.

The author herself described Mothered as ‘batshit crazy’. I have to agree. I have no idea how to describe what I have just read.

I loved parts of it. I hated parts of it. Overall I fall somewhere in the middle.


#Mothered #NetGalley

I: @zoje.stage_author @amazonpublishing

T: @zooshka @AmazonPub

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #friendship #mentalhealth #mystery

THE AUTHOR: Zoje Stage lives in Pittsburgh with her cats.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Thomas & Mercer via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Mothered by Zoje Stage for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and

The House Guest by Hank Phillipi Ryan

EXCERPT: She patted her face dry with a fluffy white towel, monogrammed, and wondered if she could somehow cut all the monograms off. She reached out to pull down the blue-and-white striped duvet, then paused, arm in mid-air. She had never been in this bed alone.
Now she stared at it, a thing suddenly from another life. The elaborate headboard had been crafted from local driftwood, buffed and painted a bleached blue, like a stone tumbled by the waves and left in the sand. Blue-striped linens, thin white matelassé blankets, and an oversize almost threadbare antique quilt of pale blue and white diamonds draped across the foot of the bed, so lavish that both ends draped on the floor. Bill’s favourite ship model, the Cutty Sark, he’d explained, still sailed to nowhere atop three steamer trunks, stacked like unpacked Russian Dolls in the corner. She had half a mind to throw the thing over the balcony and onto the grass below, and it gave her chills, thinking about destroying Bill’s possessions. Destroying what he loved, just the way he’d destroyed her.

ABOUT ‘THE HOUSE GUEST’: After every divorce, one spouse gets all the friends. What does the other one get? If they’re smart, they get the benefits. Alyssa Macallan is terrified when she’s dumped by her wealthy and powerful husband. With a devastating divorce looming, she begins to suspect her toxic and manipulative soon-to-be-ex is scheming to ruin her—leaving her alone and penniless. And when the FBI shows up at her door, Alyssa knows she really needs a friend.

And then she gets one. A seductive new friend, one who’s running from a dangerous relationship of her own. Alyssa offers Bree Lorrance the safety of her guest house, and the two become confidantes. Then Bree makes a heart-stoppingly tempting offer. Maybe Alyssa and Bree can solve each others’ problems.

But no one is what they seem. And the fates and fortunes of these two women twist and turn until the shocking truth emerges: You can’t always get what you want. But sometimes you get what you deserve.

MY THOUGHTS: Yeah, nah, maybe . . .

Sometimes reading this was like wading through molasses, or being caught in a whirlpool, going round and round and round in circles over and over again. At other times it was intriguing and engaging.

The story started well with Alyssa meeting another down on her luck woman in a bar and taking her home to stay with her. Shortly after this the story gets a bit bogged down and repititious, not really becoming interesting again until the final 20%.

During the middle period my mind ran over all the possible scenarios and I was 90% correct with my predictions. Which isn’t a criticism, but had I been fully engaged and living ‘in the moment’ of the storyline, I wouldn’t have had time for my mind to wander . . .

None of the characters, with the exception of Mickey, are particularly likeable. And I was kind of rooting for Alyssa throughout but, for such a smart woman, she made some remarkably dumb decisions.

The plot is clever, but I never became fully invested. I have previously read books by this author and loved them. Had I gone into this not knowing who the author was, I never would have picked it to be Hank Phillipi Ryan.

A story of love, betrayal and revenge that isn’t up to the author’s normal standard. But I adore the cover.


#TheHouseGuest #NetGalley

I: : @hankpryan @macmillanusa

T: @MacmillanUSA

#contemporaryfiction #crime #domesticdrama #friendship #psychologicaldrama

THE AUTHOR: Hank Phillippi Ryan is an American investigative reporter for Channel 7 News on WHDH-TV, a local television station in Boston, Massachusetts. She is also an author of mystery novels.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The House Guest by Hank Phillipi Ryan for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and

The Devine Doughnut Shop by Carolyn Brown

EXCERPT: ‘Where’s the nearest convent or bootcamp?’ Grace Dalton stormed into the kitchen of the Devine Doughnut Shop that Friday morning. ‘That daughter of mine needs to spend some time in whichever one that will take her.’
‘What has Audrey done now?’ Grace’s younger sister, Sarah, asked.
She sent me a text last night after I’d gone to bed and said that she had been suspended for today,’ Grace answered as she slipped a bibbed apron over her head and tied the strings in the back. She tucked her hair up into a net and moved over to the sink to wash her hands.
Their cousin Macy, who was a partner in the doughnut shop, set the bowls up on the counter to get the dough made and rising. ‘Good Lord! What did she do?’
Grace flipped the hot doughnuts into a bowl of powdered sugar glaze, turned them over, and set them out on a different rack to cool. ‘She got caught with a pack of cigarettes and one of those little sample bottles of whisky at school. When she goes back after spring break, she gets to spend two days in the in-school suspension building. I’m paying for your raising, Sarah June, not mine. I was the good child.’

ABOUT ‘THE DEVINE DOUGHNUT SHOP’: For Grace Dalton, her sister, Sarah, and her cousin Macy, the Devine Doughnut Shop is a sweet family legacy and a landmark in their Texas town. As the fourth generation to run the Double D, they keep their great-grandmother’s recipe secret and uphold the shop’s tradition as a coffee klatch for sharing local gossip, advice, and woes. But drama brews behind the counter, too.

Grace is a single mother struggling with an unruly teenage daughter. Heartbroken Sarah has sworn off love. Macy’s impending wedding has an unexpected hitch. And now charming developer Travis Butler has arrived in Devine with a checkbook and a handsome smile. He wants to buy the shop, expand it nationally, and boost the economy of a town divided by the prospect.

With the family’s relationships in flux, their beloved heritage up for grabs, and their future in the air, it’s amazing what determination, sass, a promise of romance, and a warm maple doughnut can do to change hearts and minds.

MY THOUGHTS: I want a maple doughnut – more than one in fact. I am glad we don’t have a decent doughnut shop in our town or I would have been down there every morning buying a dozen to get me through the day.

Anyone who has a teenage daughter, or who has ever been a teenage daughter, is going to relate to this read. Audrey is at that age where being popular is the most important thing in her life. Her mother neither likes nor approves of her friends and Audrey is certain her mother is out to ruin her street cred.

The relationship between Grace and her daughter had me chuckling, recalling similar battles between my mother and myself. I loved the relationship between Grace, her sister Sarah and their cousin Macy. The saying goes that it takes a village to raise a child, but in this case it just takes a close knit family. I love the way these three support one another and indulge their love of ice-cream in times of crisis.

These characters are all smart, resilient and sassy. Carolyn Brown sure can write them.

This is a heartwarming story of family, friendship, faith and romance that kept me smiling throughout.


#TheDevineDoughnutShop #NetGalley

@carolynbrownbooks #montlake

T: @thecarolynbrown #Montlake

#christianfiction #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #friendship #romance #sliceoflife #smalltownfiction

THE AUTHOR: Hi! I’m twenty five years old and movie star gorgeous. The camera added thirty plus years and a few wrinkles. Can’t trust those cameras or mirrors either. Along with bathroom scales they are notorious liars! Honestly, I am the mother of three fantastic grown children who’ve made me laugh and given me more story ideas than I could ever write. My husband, Charles, is my strongest supporter and my best friend. He’s even willing to eat fast food and help with the laundry while I finish one more chapter! Life is good and I am blessed!

Reading has been a passion since I was five years old and figured out those were words on book pages. As soon as my chubby little fingers found they could put words on a Big Chief tablet with a fat pencil, I was on my way. Writing joined reading in my list of passions. I will read anything from the back of the Cheerio’s box to Faulkner and love every bit of it. In addition to reading I enjoy cooking, my family and the ocean. I love the Florida beaches. Listening to the ocean waves puts my writing brain into high gear.

I love writing romance because it’s about emotions and relationships. Human nature hasn’t changed a bit since Eve coveted the fruit in the Garden of Eden. Settings change. Plots change. Names change. Times change. But love is love and men and women have been falling in and out of it forever. Romance is about emotions: love, hate, anger, laughter… all of it. If I can make you laugh until your sides ache or grab a tissue then I’ve touched your emotions and accomplished what every writer sets out to do.


got serious about writing when my third child was born and had her days and nights mixed up. I had to stay up all night anyway and it was very quiet so I invested in a spiral back notebook and sharpened a few pencils. The story that emerged has never sold but it’s brought in enough rejection slips to put the Redwood Forest on the endangered list.

Folks ask me where I get my ideas. Three kids, fifteen grandchildren, two great grandchildren. Note: I was a very young grandmother! Life is a zoo around here when they all come home. In one Sunday afternoon there’s enough ideas to keep me writing for years and years. Seriously, ideas pop up at the craziest times. When one sinks its roots into my mind, I have no choice but to write the story. And while I’m writing the characters peek over my shoulder and make sure I’m telling it right and not exaggerating too much. Pesky little devils, they are!

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Montlake via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Devine Doughnut Shop by Carolyn Brown for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and

Who Did You Tell by Lesley Kara

EXCERPT: Just because you imagine yourself doing something and enjoy the way it makes you feel, doesn’t mean you actually want to do it. It doesn’t mean you’re going to do it. Of course not. Because sometimes the very opposite is true and something you never in a million years could imagine yourself doing is done in the blink of an eye and changes your life forever.
So if, in my head, I’m grabbing a handful of her braids and slamming her head into a brick wall till her skull’s smashed in, it doesn’t mean that’s what I’ll do. It doesn’t make me a bad person just thinking about it. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s normal to have the odd violent fantasy about someone you hate so much every muscle in your body contracts when you think of them. I mean, everybody does it sometimes, don’t they? Don’t they?
Seven slams, if you’re interested. That’s how many it takes till her braids run red.

ABOUT ‘WHO DID YOU TELL ?’: It’s been 192 days, seven hours and fifteen minutes since her last drink. Now Astrid is trying to turn her life around. Having reluctantly moved back in with her mother, in a quiet seaside town away from the temptations and painful memories of her life before, Astrid is focusing on her recovery. She’s going to meetings. Confessing her misdeeds. Making amends to those she’s wronged. But someone knows exactly what Astrid is running from. And they won’t stop until she learns that some mistakes can’t be corrected. Some mistakes, you have to pay for.

MY THOUGHTS: Wow! That was a crazy ride and a half!

Astrid is a resentful and angry character. She is an alcoholic, back living with her mum, who is insisting that she attends AA. Astrid can’t get her head around the whole ‘God’ thing and believes that only a few of the twelve steps apply to her.

Her fellow AA attendees are an odd bunch, but only three play a significant role in the storyline. Rosie is an older homeless woman who seems to be taking an unusual amount of interest in Astrid’s life. She repeatedly warns Astrid against continuing her friendship with Helen, another new attendee, the only person Astrid feels that she can relate to. She is surprised to find that a colourless seemingly ineffective man, Jeremy (Jez), is actually a well-respected lawyer and connected to a family Astrid is painting for. Which worries Astrid as she hasn’t revealed to them that she is an alcoholic.

It’s really engaging following Astrid’s faltering steps through her recovery which are complicated by a past she is unprepared to reveal and a series of threatening notes she receives which makes her sure that she is being targeted by someone who knows exactly what she is guilty of.

While initially I didn’t particularly care for Astrid, by the end of the book, I came to like and admire her.

Astrid’s mum is another great character. She loves her daughter and will do anything within her power to help her daughter through her battle with alcohol. But she’s no pushover. She doesn’t take any shit from her daughter.

There’s a little romance, but it fits nicely into the storyline and isn’t overpowering.

Lesley Kara has created a wonderful mix of psychological drama and personal struggles that was difficult to put down.


#WhoDidYouTell? #WaitomoDistrictLibrary

I: @lesleykarawriter @penguinukbooks

T: @LesleyKara @TransworldBooks

#contemporaryfiction #crime #mystery #suspense

THE AUTHOR: THE AUTHOR: Lesley Kara is an alumna of the Faber Writing Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course. She lives in the small town of Flinstead-on-Sea on the North Essex coast. The Rumour is her first novel.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Waitomo District Library for providing a paperback copy of Who Did You Tell by Lesley Kara for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my profile page or the about page on for an explanation of my rating system.

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and

The Doctor’s Wife by Daniel Hurst

EXCERPT: As the woman at the window watched the activity on the beach, she knew the body on the sand was going to be the event that turned this quiet seaside village into a hive of activity for several days to come. This isolated place was usually only frequented by local residents, delivery drivers from the nearby towns and the occasional tourist passing in and out of Scotland. Now it would be teeming with forensic experts, journalists and bystanders harbouring a morbid curiosity.
That was the thing about the appearance of a body in an unexpected place.
It demanded attention.
And it always got it.

ABOUT ‘THE DOCTOR’S WIFE’: He thinks his secret is safe. But she knows the truth…

My husband is a doctor. He’s smart and charming and everybody trusts him. Except me.

On the surface, it looks like I have it all – the perfect marriage, the perfect husband, the perfect life. But it’s far from the truth.

Doctor Drew Devlin is not the respectable figure he makes out to be. The reason we moved to this beautiful, old property with a gorgeous view of the sea was because we needed to put our past behind us. It should’ve been a fresh start for us both.

Except I’ve discovered my husband has been lying to me again. He’s using the power he has in his job to mess with people’s lives, and to get exactly what he wants – no matter who it hurts.

But he’s underestimated me. I’ve had plenty of time, in this big, isolated house, to think about all of his mistakes.

And my husband has no idea what’s about to happen next…

MY THOUGHTS: Which character did I dislike the most? I honestly don’t know!

I initially felt sorry for Fern, until she started to reveal her true colours. I disliked Drew throughout. I could have felt sorry for Alice, but I don’t. I do feel sorry for Rory. He was the true victim in all of this. He was easily manipulated by Fern, who is diabolically clever, and cold-hearted.

The story is told from the points of view of both Fern and Drew, covering both the present and the couple’s past in Manchester.

Don’t come into The Doctor’s Wife looking for a mystery, or a ‘whodunit’ – you know who’s doing what. The big question is, are they going to get away with it?

There are multiple twists and turns in this quick, entertaining read. There’s no depth to the characters, but in this case, it really doesn’t matter. I always finish Daniel Hurst’s books with a smile on my face, and I certainly did with The Doctor’s Wife, which ended with a bit of a cliffhanger. Normally I don’t particularly like cliffhanger endings, but in this case it was the perfect way to end and leaves the reader to decide whether or not the killer gets the comeuppance they deserve.

I was lucky enough to have both an audio and a digital ARC of The Doctor’s Wife for review and chopped and changed between the two media, enjoying both equally. One small point I don’t understand about the audiobook narrator’s roles is why David Wayman doesn’t narrate all the male voices as Sarah Durham’s rendition of male voices isn’t at all convincing.


#TheDoctorsWife #Bookouture

I: @danielhurstbooks @bookouture

T: @dhurstbooks @Bookouture

THE AUTHOR: Writer/wanderer.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via NetGalley for providing both an audio and digital ARC of The Doctor’s Wife, written by Daniel Hurst and narrated by Sarah Durham and David Wayman, for review. All opinions expressed in the review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page on or the about page on

This review is also posted on Twitter, Instagram, Amazon and