The Cathy Connolly Trilogy by Sam Blake @samblakebooks @BonnierZaffre #blogtour

It is a real pleasure to be joining the blog tour celebrating the release of the third book, No Turning Back, in the Cathy Connolly Trilogy by Sam Blake today! My thanks to Imogen Sebba at Bonnier Zaffre for the invitation to join the tour!

I’ve read all three of these books and today, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the newest release, No Turning Back. Here is what the book is all about.


Author : Sam Blake
Title : No Turning Back
Series : Cathy Connolly #3
Pages : 341
Publisher : Bonnier Zaffre
Publication date : May 17, 2018


Orla and Conor Quinn are the perfect power couple: smart, successful and beautiful, they have an enviable relationship and an idyllic family life. But then the unthinkable happens. Their oldest son, Tom, is the victim of a hit-and-run. What was Tom doing out walking so late at night? Did he really have problems sleeping, or was he secretly meeting someone? Is it a coincidence that his friend, Lauren, committed suicide nearby – or is there something more sinister going on?

Detective Garda Cathy Connolly is part of the team investigating both incidents. As she delves deeper, she realises that all is not what it seems in the Quinn household and that everyone connected to both cases have their own reasons for hiding things from the police.

With her boss and mentor, Dawson O’Rourke, in line for a promotion on the other side of the country, it’s time for Cat to consider not only what she wants from her career, but also where their relationship is going. However, when a terrorist threat is unveiled close to home, will Cat be able to put the pieces together in time to save the day? Whatever happens though, there is no turning back …


No Turning Back is the third book in the Cathy Connolly series. I think you might possibly get away with reading this as a stand-alone but why would you want to? Read all three, as I have done and I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this latest one is the best one yet.

Young Tom Quinn is found dead in the road from what looks to be a hit-and-run. His parents are obviously devastated but something isn’t quite right in the Quinn household. Then Tom’s classmate, Lauren, is also found dead at the bottom of a cliff from an apparent suicide. Are these two events connected somehow? O’Rourke, Cathy and the rest of the team have their work cut out for them because these two families may look like they have it all but they’re all hiding secrets they desperately don’t want to reveal.

There are multiple exciting layers running throughout this story. Not only are there the investigations into the deaths of Tom and Lauren, we also get teasing glimpses of an unknown character seemingly plotting terrorist attacks. Meanwhile, Cathy is also getting increasingly confused about her relationship with O’Rourke while also wondering about her future and where the next step in her career might be. Things are definitely changing.

This is a well-plotted, compelling and tense addition to the series with an explosive and action-packed conclusion. The investigation spreads far and wide and held my attention from start to finish. However that was mostly due to a professor with an intriguing background and connections in the CIA. With many twists along the way, it is a suspenseful book that will keep you hooked and will make you think twice about modern technology. Although I must admit that some of that technical stuff went right over my head, I will definitely not forget to cover up the cameras on all my devices. Just in case.

No Turning Back wraps up this trilogy nicely and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s in no way an ending, but it does promise a new and exciting change for Cathy Connolly and it will be interesting to see where Sam Blake takes Cathy and this series next.

No Turning Back is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Goodreads


Sam Blake is a pseudonym for Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, who is originally from St. Albans in Hertfordshire but has lived at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland for (almost) more years than she lived in the UK. She has been writing fiction since 1999 when her husband went sailing across the Atlantic for 8 weeks and she had an idea for a book.

Vanessa is also the founder of The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and the Irish national writing resources website She is Ireland’s leading literary scout who has assisted many award winning and bestselling authors to publication.

Author link : Twitter



That Summer in Puglia by Valeria Vescina @Bookollective #blogtour

It is my pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for That Summer in Puglia by Valeria Vescina! My thanks to the publisher for my review copy and to Aimee at Bookollective for the invitation to join the tour!


Author : Valeria Vescina
Title : That Summer in Puglia
Pages : 303
Publisher : Eyewear Publishing
Publication date : March 12, 2018


Tommaso has escaped discovery for thirty years but a young private investigator, Will, has tracked him down. Tommaso asks him to pretend never to have found him. To persuade Will, Tommaso recounts the story of his life and his great love. In the process, he comes to recognise his true role in the events which unfolded, and the legacy of unresolved grief. Now he’s being presented with a second chance – but is he ready to pay the price it exacts?


Thirty years ago, Tomasso left Italy for England. He’s been living under the radar ever since, not wanting anyone to know where he is. But now, a young private investigator has tracked him down. Tomasso asks him not to divulge his whereabouts to anyone but in order to convince the private investigator, he’ll need to tell the story of his life and the reasons he left his home.

Most of the events are set in 1980’s Italy and the author really brings that setting to life. I could see myself sitting on a bench in the Piazza, smell the espresso in the air while watching the villagers go about their daily lives, disappearing into narrow alleys. Tomasso’s parents are property developers and they live in a villa outside the village, with glorious views all around. Again, the beautiful descriptions transported me straight there, from the olive trees to the scent of the flowers.

That summer, Tomasso meets Anna and they fall in love. This will set in motion a sequence of events that will affect Tomasso for years to come. At its heart, That Summer in Puglia is a love story but it’s so much more than that. It is a relatable character study full of complexities that oozes atmosphere.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. The way we react to certain things in the heat of the moment can have a huge effect. It isn’t until later on, that we maybe think “I could have” or “I shouldn’t have”. As a nineteen year old boy, Tomasso makes some dubious decisions based on very little but sheer perception. Did he make the right choices? That’s up to you to find out when you read this novel.

With beautiful descriptions and well-developed rich characters, Valeria Vescina takes us on a moving journey through Tomasso’s life. That Summer in Puglia is a brilliantly written, poignant, thought-provoking character-driven story about young love, loss, grief, family and second chances. An absolutely wonderful debut by Valeria Vescina.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | BookdepositoryGoodreads


Valeria Vescina is an author, reviewer and creative writing tutor.  She’s from Puglia (Italy), was educated in Switzerland and the UK, and has lived for years in London.  After a successful career in management, she gained an MA in Creative & Life Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Her first novel, That Summer in Puglia (Eyewear Publishing), had its debut at the FTWeekend Oxford Literary Festival 2018

Author links : Twitter | Website



The Chosen Ones by Carol Wyer @carolewyer @bookouture #blogblitz #TheChosenOnes

Absolutely thrilled to welcome you all to my stop on the blog blitz for The Chosen Ones by Carol Wyer! Make sure you also check out the other fabulous bloggers kicking off the blitz today! My thanks to Kim Nash at Bookouture for the opportunity to join and for my review copy.

Happy publication day, Carol! Hope it’s all kinds of fantabulous!


Author : Carol Wyer
Title : The Chosen Ones
Series : DI Robyn Carter #5
Pages : 409
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : May 24, 2018


They had not been forgiven. And they would never be forgotten ….

When a doting young father is murdered and his body discovered in a cornfield for his family to see, it’s a harrowing new case for Detective Robyn Carter. But just as Robyn starts to investigate, a popular local doctor and young mother, is found dead outside her surgery.

As Robyn tries to find the link between the victims, she uncovers a dark web of secrets. Were these much-loved members of the community as innocent as they seemed?

The killer has a message for Robyn and the carefully chosen victims. Can Robyn get to the truth before she becomes the next target?


From the very beginning, the Robyn Carter series captured my heart. From Robyn and her team, to the incredibly well thought-out cases and all the stuff in the background involving Davies, it had me hooked and I knew this series would be special. So whenever I’m offered the opportunity to read the next addition, I quite happily drop whatever it is I’m doing and tell the husband to take care of dinner himself because … well, priorities, people.

With every single book, I think this is the best one yet and that I couldn’t possibly love this series any more if I tried. And yet every time, Carol Wyer effortlessly proves me completely wrong. Not surprising then that I think The Chosen Ones is an absolute corker and the author has knocked it out of the park once again. Like way out of the park. At least two cities beyond it.

A young man is found murdered in a cornfield. Stuff of nightmares right there but I’ll let you discover that for yourself. You’re welcome. It seems the killer is somehow trying to convey a message but will the team figure out the clues? The case is hampered by a rich and hugely unlikeable businessman, who’s entirely unwilling to cooperate and making Robyn’s life a living hell. However, if you know her, then you also know she doesn’t give up without a fight and she’ll do whatever it takes to get to the truth.

Just when you’re settling into the investigation, trying to look for clues so you could maybe figure things out, Carol Wyer comes up with a devilish and heartbreaking chapter and just massively sucker-punches you right in the feels! Killers aren’t supposed to be people you feel sympathy for and yet. I enjoy moments like these. It makes them look human instead of just randomly psycho. That makes sense in my head and maybe it will to you as well once you get to reading this book. But at the same time, they’re insanely vicious, yet also highly creative. I almost sound as if I’m admiring them (I’m not, in case you wondered) but their murderous ways are quite something.

Of course, a Robyn Carter book isn’t complete without mention of Davies but my lips are sealed so tightly, I may never be able to open my mouth again. There is an event (vague, I know, so sorry!) that made me feel far more emotional than I thought it would. Like serious lump in throat sort of thing. I may never recover.

If you’re a fan of this series, I promise you, this book has everything and more than you could possibly ask for! It’s well plotted, gripping, utterly addictive, full of great characters and a total page-turner. In short, The Chosen Ones is an absolute corker and it will leave you begging for more! It gets all the stars from me and if you’re not reading these, you are seriously missing out! I continue to love this series fiercely and for as long as Carol Wyer keeps writing, I’ll be right there at the front of the line to keep reading.

The Chosen Ones is OUT TODAY!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | BookdepositoryKobo | WorderyGoodreads


Carol E. Wyer, who also writes as Carol Wyer, is an award-winning author whose humorous books take a light-hearted look at getting older and encourage others to age disgracefully. In 2017 she moved to the “dark side” and embarked on a series of thrillers. The first, gripping Little Girl Lost, shot to the #2 best-selling spot on Kindle #9 best-selling audiobook on Audible, and was also a USA Today top 150 best-seller.

Her book, Grumpy Old Menopause won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction 2015.

Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ‘Irritable Male Syndrome’ and ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ and on BBC Breakfast television. She has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’ featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and the Huffington Post.

Author links : Blog | Twitter | Website



This Week in Books (May 23)


Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Last book I finished reading


Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home. But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.

Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat. One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily. But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.

When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…

What really happened that day by the river? Why was Lily never found? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

The book I’m currently reading


When Marianne comes home from work one day to find her husband talking to a glamorous woman in the kitchen, insecurities resurface from a time when she was bullied at school. Jealousy rears its head and her marriage begins to fall apart. Desperate for a solution, she finds herself trying to track down her first schoolgirl crush: Edward Harvey. Even thinking his name made her tingle with half-remembered childlike giddiness. Edward Harvey, the only one from Brocklebank to whom she might write if she found him.

What I’m (probably) reading next


Everyone knows an Aisling:

Loves going Out Out, but secretly scared of liquid eyeliner.
Happy to drink the bar dry, but will bring her own coaster if necessary.
Would rather die than miss a cooked hotel breakfast, but can calculate the Points in a Snickers at fifty paces.

Aisling’s the girl with a heart of gold, but a boyfriend who still hasn’t made a peep about their Big Day even after seven years.

But then a disastrous romantic getaway shows Aisling that it’s time to stop waiting around and leave John behind for the bright lights of Dublin. After she’s wailed her way through Adele’s Greatest Hits, that is.

Between glamorous new flatmates, a scandal at work and finding herself in a weird love square, Aisling is ready to take on the big city. So long as she has her umbrella with her.


Bit of a mix this week. I quite approve!

What are you reading this week? Let me know! xx

Wrong Way Home by Isabelle Grey @IsabelleGrey @QuercusFiction @annecater #blogtour #RandomThingsTours

Thrilled to join the blog tour for Wrong Way Home by Isabelle Grey today! My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation and to the publisher for my review copy!


Author : Isabelle Grey
Title : Wrong Way Home
Series : DI Grace Fisher #4
Pages : 384
Publisher : May 17, 2018
Publication date : Quercus


Everyone in Southend remembers the night of the fire. Two lives were saved from the burning Marineland resort, while metres down the beach another was lost when a young woman was raped and murdered. The killer was never found. Now, twenty-five years on, DI Grace Fisher is handed new DNA evidence that could blow the cold case wide open. But what are the chances of really getting to the truth after all this time?

Meanwhile, eager would-be journalist Freddie Craig decides to prove himself by conducting his own investigation and turning his findings into a podcast. It will be good for his CV, and maybe he’ll even make a breakthrough in the case… Experienced hack Ivo Sweatman is flattered when the cub reporter turns to him for advice, but as Freddie becomes more obsessed with the case, Ivo starts to worry that the line between fact and wishful thinking is becoming dangerously blurred.

Just as a series of revelations lead Grace to believe the case is closed, a similar murder is committed. Does she have the wrong man? Or are there two separate killers to deal with?


How did I not know about this series?!

Wrong Way Home is the fourth instalment in the DI Grace Fisher series, a wee detail I didn’t actually know when I signed up for the blog tour. So once again, I find myself breaking my own rule of never starting a series anywhere else but with book one. Luckily, for me, this reads perfectly well as a stand-alone. There may have been a few tiny references to things I didn’t know anything about but as far as background goes, I’d say Isabelle Grey does a great job of hooking new readers without making them feel they are missing out on a truckload of information.

I came to the conclusion a little while ago that I actually really like reading stories about cold case investigations and this one was truly as gripping as gripping can be! Twenty-five years ago, a huge fire and the murder of a nineteen year old girl rocked the community of Southend. The killer was never caught but now, new DNA evidence may just bring DI Grace Fisher and her team a little closer to finding out what happened that night. But after all this time, is the killer still even alive? And if by chance there were any witnesses, how much do they even still remember?

On that same fateful night, Freddie Craig was born. He seems to feel there is some sort of cosmic connection between his birth and the death of the young woman all those years ago. Through a series of podcasts, he sets out on his own investigation into the murder and the mind of a rapist and murderer. Local reporter Ivo Steadman is happy to help out this budding journalist but things quickly turn rather creepy.

From corruption, to murder, to dysfunctional families, this story offers a lot of juicy stuff to sink your teeth into. What struck me the most though, is how Isabelle Grey never loses track of the victims in all of this. How events have affected them, how they’re dealing (or not dealing) with things. It added an extra layer you don’t always find in this genre, which I found just as absorbing as the actual investigation.

Wrong Way Home is a deeply compelling and engrossing crime fiction story. I really enjoyed my first introduction to DI Grace Fisher, although I must say that for a super investigator, she often seemed to jump to conclusions without any proof concerning more private matters and there was one colleague I felt quite bad for. She and her team work incredibly well together on the whole though, complimenting each other and all the while talking things through. The investigation wasn’t at all as straightforward as I thought it would be when I first started reading. Many times, I was convinced I had the whole thing figured out, only to be proven wrong.

This is a thrilling, compelling and utterly addictive story that I found pretty hard to put down. I’m incredibly glad I discovered this series now and I’m determined to catch up on the previous three books as soon as I can. Even though I really need another series like a hole in the tooth, I’ll gladly make some space on the shelf for this one!

Wrong Way Home is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads


Isabelle Grey is a television screenwriter whose credits include Jimmy McGovern’s BAFTA award-winning Accused: Tina’s Story as well as over thirty-five episodes of Midsomer MurdersCasualtyRosemary and ThymeThe Bill and Wycliffe.

She has also written non-fiction and been a magazine editor and freelance journalist.

Isabelle’s previous novels include two psychological thrillers, The Bad Mother and Out Of Sight as well as the first three books in the DI Grace Fisher series, Good Girls Don’t Die, Shot Through the Heart and The Special Girls. Isabelle grew up in Manchester and now lives in north London.

Author links : Twitter | Website



Three Secrets by Clare Boyd @bookouture #blogblitz

Welcome to my stop on the blog blitz for Three Secrets by Clare Boyd! My thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture!


Author : Clare Boyd
Title : Three Secrets
Pages : 392
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : May 17, 2018


Robert kisses his wife on the head before heading out to the shop for more wine; he walks up the hill, takes a left across the footbridge and jumps to his death on the busy motorway below.

Two years later, Francesca and her young daughter are leaving London for a fresh start, money is tight and Robert’s mother has found them a little cottage in her village. Francesca is grateful for the help, but why does Robert’s mother want to keep them so close? Does she know about what Francesca did in the hour before Robert’s death?

Soon Francesca begins to suspect there was more to her husband’s death than she realised, that there might be even darker secrets hiding in his past than her own…

The closer she gets to uncovering the truth, the more she asks: is her own life in danger now too?


Two years after her husband’s suicide, Francesca and her daughter move to live closer to his family. But living this close means Francesca starts to pick up on dynamics within the family that she hadn’t really noticed before. Soon, she begins to suspect there may be more to Robert’s death than she first realised.

Hello, incredibly dysfunctional family! If ever there was an award for this kind of thing, Robert and his family would be an absolute shoe-in! Ruled by the, quite frankly, awful mother-in-law, this family has secrets like no other. A few of them have a huge impact on the lives of these characters, leading to devastating consequences. You never know what goes on behind closed doors and honestly, if you read this story, me thinks that’s a blessing!

There are way more secrets than just three. A few are revealed quite early on and some I felt were a bit predictable. But overall, the suspense was highly entertaining. This story deals with a multitude of issues, from depression to addiction, from suicide to affairs … it’s like a wee soap opera all wrapped up into a psychological suspense tale. It left me both desperately wanting Francesca to find out the truth, and thinking maybe it was better if she never did at all. Who do you trust when all around you people are obviously lying to hide their secrets?

Three Secrets is a twisted and gripping story about lies, secrets and family. Some characters I could almost sympathise with, others I felt like slapping. Written from two perspectives and switching between the past and the present, it held my attention from start to finish. I had no idea where things were heading and didn’t see that ending coming at all. Quite satisfying though, I must say.

All in all a brilliantly written, tense, suspenseful and twisty domestic drama that will keep you hooked.

Three Secrets is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads


Clare lives with her husband and their two daughters in Surrey, where her little green shed at the bottom of the garden provides a haven for her writing life. Before becoming a writer, she enjoyed a career in television, as a researcher in documentaries and then as a script editor in drama at the BBC and Channel Four, where her love of storytelling took hold.

Author links : Twitter



The Man Who Lived Twice by David Taylor @matadorbooks @annecater #blogtour #guestpost #RandomThingsTours

Well, hello there! I’m kicking off the week with a guest post by author David Taylor for my stop on the blog tour for The Man Who Lived Twice. My thanks to David and Anne Cater at Random Things Tours!

Here’s what the book is all about.


Author : David Taylor
Title : The Man Who Lived Twice
Pages : 432
Publisher : Matador
Publication date : October 31, 2017


The Man Who Lived Twice is a panoramic novel that follows the exploits of Colonel George St Leger Grenfell, a courageous but deeply flawed Cornish cavalryman who was the highest ranked British officer in the Confederate army in the American Civil War.

A hero to General Robert E Lee and a legend to the gullible hillbillies under his command, Ole St Lege charged with the Light Brigade in the Crimea, hacked his way through the Opium War and defended the bullet-strewn barricades in the Indian Mutiny. Yet the mercenary that performed these feats of derring-do was a wanted criminal, a fraudster who bankrupted his own father.

In his search for redemption, Grenfell faces the raw realities of late nineteenth century America. He is frequently shot at and brutally tortured by prison guards, soars precariously over enemy lines in a balloon and rides the rails to the Old West, meeting the characters who made, marred and mythologised the American century: the beautiful spies and back-shooting gunslingers as well as the business tycoons and Lincoln conspirators. And somehow he survives to lead a better life.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads



Writing words on a page seemed a fairly uncomplicated form of communication until I read Stephen King’s book on the subject in which he claimed that the relationship between writer and reader was a paranormal activity. ‘All the arts depend upon telepathy to some degree,’ King stated, ‘but I believe that writing is the purest distillation.’

Well, there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth, and you cannot argue with a man whose books have sold more than three hundred million copies. But if, through thought-transference, you are sending your readers a flurry of feelings, sensations and imagery, there must be a strong connective thread which brings you back to the age-old question of where authors get their plots from.

Is there a moment of truth perhaps, a blinding light of creativity? For some very distinguished writers, blessed with vivid imaginations, the answer seems to be yes. Stephenie Meyer dreamed about a vampire meeting a high-school girl, woke up, and started to write the Twilight series. JK Rowling was travelling alone in a railway carriage when Harry Potter entered her head. All Kazuo Ishiguro needed to jump-start The Remains of the Day was one of his wife’s little jokes. The actual flashpoint for JRR Tolkien was the discovery of a blank page in an exam paper he was marking. On it, he scribbled, ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit’ and the rest was history.

Most of us, however, have to struggle to find our inspiration. In my own case, it took a 4500-mile journey and a large slice of luck before I had a compelling outline for The Man Who Lived Twice. It happened like this. My wife and I were on holiday in Key West when we noticed a dockside advertisement urging us to board a high-speed catamaran called the Yankee Freedom III and ‘escape to the secluded islands and tropical beaches’ of the Dry Tortugas where we could snorkel to our heart’s content in ‘crystal blue waters.’ We left the next morning for our ten-hour trip through the Gulf of Mexico.

As we voyaged west, the first of the Tortugas came into sight, an acre of coral reef covered in thick brushwood, mango and prickly pear. Our guide explained how such reefs were built out of the cup-shaped skeletons of small coral animals. But what he didn’t prepare us for was what came next. Out of the dancing heat haze, a weird-looking vessel loomed up. Although her outline was blurred by the thickening air, a turreted battleship seemed to lie in wait. As we got nearer, the battleship morphed into an immense fortification, a three-tiered, six-sided brick castle that appeared to rest on the surface of the sea.

‘Welcome to the Fort Jefferson National Park,’ said our fact-happy guide. ‘Consisting of over sixteen million bricks, it is the largest brick masonry structure in the Americas.’ I was utterly astounded. Why build such a massive fortress on a coral atoll in the middle of nowhere? It beggared belief. Everything must have been brought by ship: all the skilled artisans and labourers, all the timber and cement, every last brick and nail. And to what end? The guide had the answer. ‘To stop you from invading us,’ he said. ‘After the War of 1812 when the British set fire to Washington and the White House, we built a chain of coastal forts to protect ourselves. Fort Jefferson was designed to be the ultimate defence system.’

To take a closer look, we crossed the imposing drawbridge and went into the fort. The walls were eight-feet-thick and fifty-feet-high with embrasures for hundreds of heavy guns. And it wasn’t even finished. A guide in a National Park T-shirt explained what had gone wrong. ‘The fort took too long to build,’ he told us. ‘Technological advances in warfare rendered it obsolete. During the Civil War, it became a military prison, mainly for deserters. But its most famous inmates were the Lincoln conspirators who were given life sentences for plotting to assassinate the president. Would you like to see their cell?’

How could one possibly refuse such an invitation? Instead of snorkelling happily among the tropical fish and sponges in the azure shallows we found ourselves bent over in a dark dungeon, above which someone had scratched the words, ‘Whoever enters here leaves all hope behind.’ The National Park historian talked about one of the four men who had been locked up here in irons. Dr Samuel Mudd had had the misfortune to set John Wilkes Booth’s broken leg shortly after he had shot Lincoln. ‘People say Mudd was just an innocent country doctor but don’t you believe it. He knew what he was doing. Not that he was a bad man. There was a yellow fever epidemic in the fort and the surgeon died. Mudd took over the doctoring and saved many lives. He was helped by one of his cellmates.’ And who might that be? ‘Oh, an English spy called Grenfell. He was a strange guy; volunteered to nurse the sadistic officers who had tortured him months earlier.’

I sat up and took notice, banging my head on the cell ceiling. Why was he tortured? ‘Grenfell managed to get an anonymous letter published complaining about the casual brutality of the prison guards. Finding out who had written it, they strung him up on an iron grating, naked to the waist and without water, exposed to the burning sun and the mosquitoes for almost a day, before dragging him down to the quay and dunking him in the water several times with weights attached to his feet. But he was as stubborn as a mule. He wouldn’t die.’ What happened to him? ‘Oh, a year later, in 1868, Grenfell bribed a prison officer and escaped in a small boat, never to be seen again. They say he died at sea but there were several later unconfirmed sightings of him in Cuba.’

That was all the guide could tell me but I wanted to know more. This is what I eventually learned. Colonel George St Leger Grenfell was the highest ranking British officer in the Confederate Army. A mercenary by trade, he fought for the South without any payment. He was an incredibly brave man who rode with Morgan’s Raiders, trained the Confederate cavalry and was with Lee at Gettysburg before being arrested trying to break into a Confederate prisoner-of-war camp in Chicago. Sentenced to death by a military tribunal, he eventually ended up doing hard labour in Fort Jefferson. But what made him even more remarkable was his chequered past. Born into one of Cornwall’s most influential families, George Grenfell had bankrupted his father and been disowned. He was wanted for fraud in France and mosque desecration in Morocco. A man of infinite resource but no firm convictions, he had gone to war all over the world, seeking to redeem his reputation.

Here was the perfect antihero for my novel. Living as I do in Cornwall, I might have found him by going down the road to Penzance instead of crossing the Atlantic. But I rarely do things the easy way.


David Taylor was educated at the Royal Grammar School Newcastle and at University College London where he read history and was president of the students’ union. He has won national and international awards for print, radio and television journalism. His book Web of Corruption was published by Granada.

He wrote for the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph, reported for Panorama and World in Action, presented BBC2 series on defence and civil nuclear power, edited Radio 4’s current affairs programme File on 4 and BBC2’s Brass Tacks and On The Line, produced several series of Great Railway Journeys and of the Wainwright and Fred Dibnah programmes and was head of BBC Features before forming an independent production company called Triple Echo which has won scores of awards, mainly for adventure broadcasting.



Weekly Wrap-Up (May 20)


I’ve had one of those weeks where I thought I was being superbly productive but upon looking back, it looks as if I’ve not done much of anything.

Yesterday, I spent my day in front of the television. This is a big deal at my house. I don’t normally watch a lot of tv. Hence why I spent five minutes trying to figure out how our remote worked again and where the channels were. 🙄 Anyway, I watched coverage of the Royal Wedding and really enjoyed it. As a fan of Suits, I was looking forward to seeing the cast in all their finery and they didn’t disappoint. I don’t care what anyone else says, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are just lovely together and I wish them all the happiness in the world.

I also had a horrible migraine and a few really long phone conversations with my dad involving all sorts of complicated and bang-your-head-against-a-brick-wall family issues. Reading-wise, this of course put a bit of a dent into things. However, I still managed 5 books so it’s not all bad.

Books I read this week

Books I’ve bought this week

I wasn’t going to buy any. But my finger slipped.

ARC’s received via Netgalley

At least I still have this relatively under control. Downloaded for blog tour purposes.


On the blog this past week

I knew May was going to be nuts but seriously. Every week, I’m stunned I managed to fulfil all my commitments.

Monday : Joined the blog tour for A Mind Polluted by Martin Geraghty

Tuesday : Shared an extract on the blog tour for Absolution by Paul E. Hardisty

Wednesday : Joined the blog tour for Meet Me At The Museum by Anne Youngson

Thursday : Hosted a stop on the blog blitz for Blood Runs Cold by Dylan Young

Friday : Finally got to share my review for Dying Truth by Angela Marsons  on the blog blitz

Saturday : Reviewed The Brighton Mermaid by Dorothy Koomson

Sunday : Joined the blog tour for Juliet & Romeo by David Hewson

Next week on Novel Deelights

No less than eight (8!!!) blog tours. Yes, I’m losing the plot. Why do you ask?! 😜
Among them The Chosen Ones by Carol Wyer and I’ll be joining in the celebrations for the Cathy Connolly Trilogy by Sam Blake as well. Lots to look out for. May need to squeeze in a nap or two (ten).

In other news, the Annual Blogger Bash Awards Winners were announced yesterday. I didn’t win, didn’t even make the top three in my category. It’s okay, I’m over it now. 😄. Huge congratulations to everyone who won and was nominated! You’re all fabulous to me! And a massive thank you to those who nominated me and voted for me. I appreciate it all! Much love ❤️

And that’s it for another week. Off to prep some posts and start reading. Such a glamorous life I lead.

Have a fabulous week and lots of happy reading! xx

Juliet & Romeo by David Hewson @david_hewson @DomePress #blogtour #guestpost #review

Delighted to host a stop on the blog tour for Juliet & Romeo by David Hewson today. My thanks to the publisher for the invitation to join and my wonderful review copy!

Author David Hewson joins me on the blog today with a fantastic guest post on why he feels it’s perfectly acceptable to faff around with all things Shakespeare and I’ll also be sharing my thoughts on this novel retelling.


Author : David Hewson
Title : Juliet & Romeo
Pages : 256
Publisher : Dome Press
Publication date : May 17, 2018


Shakespeare’s most well-known and well-loved play has been turned into a gripping romantic thriller with a modern twist. Rich with the sights and smells of medieval Verona, peopled with a vibrant cast of characters who spring from the page, this is Shakespeare as you’ve never read it before – and with a killer twist at the end.


Ten Reasons to Mess with Shakespeare By David Hewson

People sometimes wave their red, white and blue flags in the air and demand, ‘How dare you faff around with Shakespeare? He is England’s finest, his words as holy as the Bible. He must always appear untouched as nature intended.’

Here are ten reasons why such statements are balderdash.


There’s no such thing as ‘the Bible’. Just lots of versions of a Hebrew original of uncertain provenance, sometimes in questionable translations that may have strayed some way from the original meaning. Oh, and arguments rage continually about what should and shouldn’t be included. It’s much the same with Shakespeare. See the ‘bad folio’ of Hamlet which is shorter and a lot less wordy than the accepted version we get in schools. Shakespeare didn’t leave behind any Word docx files or even an original manuscript. What we have tends to come from folios that are remembered scripts written down by performers. In fact…


What you think is Shakespeare may not be Shakespeare at all. I’m not going to step into any of the ‘he was really someone else’ controversies here. But the plain fact is that the plays do contain material that we know comes from other quarters and other hands. Take the three witches summoning Hecate in Macbeth Act III, Scene Five. Spooky stuff, often left out in performance because it’s a bit over the top. And most academics think Shakespeare never wrote it. And then there are the occasions when…


Shakespeare just nicked stuff. Plagiarism wasn’t a big deal in the sixteenth century. People ‘borrowed’ themes, story ideas, plots and even actual prose from time to time. Shakespeare certainly did the first two. The vast majority of his dramas – Romeo and Juliet included – used a variety of plays, novels and history books as their inspiration, and freely adapted them using his own imagination. What’s good for the goose…


The Shakespeare you think you know may not be ‘real’ at all. Most of has have grown up with his tales from school and his phrases – from ‘milk of human kindness’ to ‘all our yesterdays’ (both from Macbeth) – are scattered throughout the English language. But often what we believe to be the stories are simplified versions passed on almost by tradition and reinforced by stagings, moviies and TV versions that have followed. Take Lady Macbeth, an infamous figure who’s inspired everything from opera to the name of a science fiction spaceship. The archetypal evil woman or so most people think.

Now she’s no saint. But if you read the text carefully it’s only certain she participates in the murder of King Duncan, not the later slaughters of Banquo and Macduff’s family. She may be innocent of them. And how did she die? Suicide most people say, though the text is quite unclear on that point. There’s a lot unsaid in Shakespeare which is one reason why…


Theatre messes round with old Will all the time. The originals are too open to interpretation, almost demanding they be changed, to allow for that. Take Patrick Stewart’s wonderful Macbeth a few years back. This was very much of the devilish Macbeth variety. In it he takes part in the slaughter of the Macduffs in person which is not in the play. Take the recent film version with Michael Fassbender. It opens with the funeral of their infant son – a scene which isn’t in the play at all. Though Lady M has a throwaway line in which she reveals she lost a baby – something any modern dramatist will naturally seize upon.

The idea of a definitive version of Shakespeare is plain nonsense.


There’s a reason why my version is called Juliet and Romeo and not the other way round. With Shakespeare you all too often get just half the woman’s side of the story at most. Many of his female characters are either weak victims (Ophelia in Hamlet, Lady Anne Neville in Richard III who, cough, cough, is wooed by Richard at the funeral of her husband Richard just murdered). Or else they’re harpies (Lady Macbeth and Queen Margaret in Richard III).

There’s a reason why Shakespeare must have struggled with female characters – he couldn’t work with them on stage. It was illegal for women to act in public until sixty years or so after Shakespeare died. So all the female parts were taken by men or boys. This is a hell of a handicap to be working under especially when you consider that…


In Romeo and Juliet, it’s Juliet who’s really in jeopardy. Romeo is a lovestruck youth who’s desperate for a girlfriend and some poetry. Juliet is an intelligent young woman facing a fate that she regards as a death sentence – forced marriage to a man, Count Paris, she doesn’t know, primarily because her father thinks it will be good for business and in any case that’s his decision to make.

The more I read the play and the Italian versions Shakespeare pillaged and changed for his plot, the more I became convinced this was much more Juliet’s story than Romeo’s. If he loses his girlfriend he can always find another. If she married Paris… that’s it. If Shakespeare had been working with a woman editor like most writers today someone somewhere along the line would surely have gripped him by the shoulder and said, ‘Oi, mate. What about the girl?’


I like history which didn’t much matter at all to old Will. We know the story takes place in Verona but there’s not a clue when. Is that important? Not necessarily but it can be made important which is what adaptation is all about. So I place this tale in the real Verona where I spent a happy two weeks researching it, and at a pivotal time in history, 1499, when the shift in human perspective we now call the Renaissance was just beginning across Italy. Juliet is a smart young woman who wants to choose her life for herself. There’s no better time.


Different media demand different endings. When I adapted The Killing stories from TV to novel I found I had to come up with new endings because the dramatic ones didn’t work on the page. With plays the stage is the boss and tells you when a story’s over. With a book you can’t just say, ‘Curtain falls, go home.’ Novels mustn’t just end, they need to resolve. And that is why the closing scene of Juliet and Romeo may not be the one you expect.


And this most important of all… because you can. Stories are living things, always capable of change. I wanted to see the tale of Juliet and Romeo through the prism of a modern perspective and ask the question… how much has really changed?

From recent history you’d have to say… not as much as perhaps we thought.

[Thank you so much, David Hewson, for this incredibly insightful and interesting piece!]


I’ve never actually read Romeo and Juliet. I’ve tried but Shakespeare tends to go right over my head. I am of course familiar with their story, as I’m sure most of you are as well. Two rivalling families in the city of Verona, Italy. The son of the one family falls in love with the daughter of the other. Chaos ensues. Everybody dies. Something like that anyway. 😉

Admittedly, I was a little unsure about picking this one up. Proof of how shallow I am, lies in me confessing to you that I pretty much only opted to read this book as it was endorsed by Richard Armitage. Incidentally, he also apparently did the audio version which, even though I’m not a fan of audio books, I’ve been eying for a while now because Richard’s voice does funny things to me. He could read a good old fashioned phone guide to me and I’d be a puddle of goo. I’m sure you didn’t really need to know that so let’s quickly move on. (Note that the audio version has been nominated for this year’s Audies)

Seeing as I don’t have any previous experience with this story, I was pleasantly surprised by this retelling. Sixteen year old Juliet is a fierce and fabulous young lady. However, her father is trying to arrange a marriage for her and this doesn’t sit well with Juliet at all. There’s more to life than getting married, after all. During a banquet, Juliet meets Romeo.  Aw, young love. But then Romeo is banished from the city and everything goes to pot.

The atmosphere and the setting in Verona drew me in from the start. I could almost see myself wandering around the market stalls, smelling meats and whatnot, hear the horses and the chiming of the bell tower. The characters were really well written. Romeo, the quiet kind, the dreamer, the wanna-be poet. Although quite frankly I didn’t think he was very good with words at all. His family wants to send him off to study to become a lawyer.

But the one who stole the scene every single time was most definitely Juliet. She’s intelligent, wants to be independent and questions everything. I adored her spirit, her determination, her sheer belief that in that particular era, she could be whomever she wants to be. And let’s not forget Nurse, who made me chuckle numerous times with her endless and sometimes rather embarrassing ramblings.

This modern retelling works really well. Sure, there’s a lot of drama and I was actually stunned to see how many things happen in a really short period of time. But I was utterly enthralled and captivated. Even the author’s notes held my interest and if you grab yourself a copy of this, you should definitely read them.

For those, like me, who wanted and have tried to read Shakespeare, this is a fabulous way of being introduced to his stories without suffering a major headache and thinking your knowledge of the English language is non-existent all of a sudden. Although it does bear pointing out that David Hewson did make changes from the original Romeo and Juliet and based his interpretation more so on previous versions than the one we all know.

Intrigue, murder, sword fights, a dash of romance and a few chuckles … what more could you possibly want? I found this to be thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable!

Juliet & Romeo is available for purchase!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads


David Hewson is the author of more than 20 published novels including the Pieter Vos series set in Amsterdam and the Nic Costa books set in Rome.

His acclaimed book adaptations of The Killing television series were published around the world. His audio adaptations of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Hamlet with A.J. Hartley, narrated by Alan Cumming and Richard Armitage respectively, were both shortlisted for Audie Awards.

A former journalist with the Sunday Times, Independent and The Times he lives in Kent. His first book with The Dome Press, Juliet and Romeo, will be published in May 2018.

Author links : Twitter | Website




The Brighton Mermaid by Dorothy Koomson @penguinrandom


Author : Dorothy Koomson
Title : The Brighton Mermaid
Pages : 490
Publisher : Random House UK
Publication date : May 17, 2018


Brighton Beach, 1993: Teenagers Nell and Jude find the body of a young woman and when no one comes to claim her, she becomes known as the Brighton Mermaid. Nell is still struggling to move on when, three weeks later, Jude disappears.

Twenty-five years on, Nell quits her job to find out who the Brighton Mermaid really was – and what happened to her best friend that summer.

But as Nell edges closer to the truth, dangerous things start to happen. Someone seems to be watching her every move, and soon she starts to wonder who in her life she can actually trust.


Despite having had a copy of The Friend on my bookshelf for months, I’ve still not gotten around to reading it and so The Brighton Mermaid is my very first introduction to Dorothy Koomson. It only took a few pages for me to realise it won’t be the last time I pick up one of her books as I quickly fell for the author’s captivating writing style.

Twenty-five years ago, Nell and her best friend Jude, discover the body of a young girl on a Brighton beach. Despite having the most wonderful mermaid tattoo, the girl is never identified and her killer is never caught. A few weeks later, Jude disappears. Now, Nell has taken a year off work to try and figure out what happened to Jude and maybe finally solve the murder of the Brighton Mermaid, as she was called.

The story is told through the characters of Nell and her sister Macy, and seamlessly switches between the past and the present. Both sisters have been affected by past events. Nell has commitment issues and is seemingly obsessed, whereas Macy is riddled with anxiety issues. Even knowing where they were both coming from and sympathising with them, I found both the sisters incredibly hard to connect to. However, their character development is incredibly intriguing and often made me almost forget about the mysteries that needed solving. These are complex, multi-layered characters that drew me in and kept me immersed throughout.

There are some truly shocking moments that sometimes made this quite the uneasy read. Even more so as I have no doubt these things actually happen. Sadly. I don’t want to say anything more about this because I feel the impact will be even bigger when you read this for yourself. Suffice to say though, they pretty much all involve an absolutely vile and despicable character that made my skin crawl.

The Brighton Mermaid is incredibly well plotted and a truly compelling story. It’s dark, haunting, harrowing and disturbing. The first part of the story is relatively on the slow side as the scene is set but hold on to your pants when things really kick off! I couldn’t at all predict the outcome and ended up being suspicious of just about everyone. This brilliantly written book has put Dorothy Koomson firmly onto my radar and I very much look forward to reading some of her other work.

The Brighton Mermaid is available for purchase!

Amazon UK | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads