Monthly Archives: February 2017

Blog Tour – The Silent Wife by Kerry Fisher *Book Review*

I’m absolutely thrilled to be one of today’s blogs, along with Laura Bambrey Books, hosting for The Silent Wife by Kerry Fisher blog tour. Did I enjoy Kerry Fisher’s latest book? Read on to find out…

The Blurb

Would you risk everything for the man you loved? Even if you knew he’d done something terrible?

‘A heart wrenching and gripping tale. I was hooked from the very first page.’ Write Escape

Lara’s life looks perfect on the surface. Gorgeous doting husband Massimo, sweet little son Sandro and the perfect home. Lara knows something about Massimo. Something she can’t tell anyone else or everything Massimo has worked so hard for will be destroyed: his job, their reputation, their son. This secret is keeping Lara a prisoner in her marriage.

Maggie is married to Massimo’s brother Nico and lives with him and her troubled stepdaughter. She knows all of Nico’s darkest secrets – or so she thinks. Then one day she discovers a letter in the attic which reveals a shocking secret about Nico’s first wife Caitlin. Will Maggie set the record straight or keep silent to protect those she loves?

For a family held together by lies, the truth will come at a devastating price.

A heart-wrenching, emotionally gripping read for fans of Amanda Prowse, Liane Moriarty and Diane Chamberlain.

My Thoughts

Do you ever really know what goes on within a marriage?

I eagerly anticipated reading The Silent Wife by Kerry Fisher after really enjoying her previous novel, After The Lie. There is always a little trepidation in reading the latest novel by an author you have previously enjoyed as you hope it will live up to the expectations you have. I am pleased to say that Fisher has delivered again with an enthralling book that is unputdownable.

Told in first person narrative by the two main characters Maggie and Lara, The Silent Wife tells the story of Maggie who has joined the Farinelli family as Nico’s second wife following the death of his first wife and Lara who is the second wife of Massimo, Nico’s brother. While Lara struggles to maintain the public façade of her marriage and that of Massimo as doting husband and father, Maggie makes a discovery about Caitlin, Nico’s first wife, that could potentially devastate her husband and stepdaughter. The story lines make for compulsive reading as you eagerly anticipate what the outcome will be for the two women and the family as a whole.

Covering emotive subjects such as the difficulties that come with blending two families together, domestic abuse, and the dynamics of families; Fisher writes with empathy and yet also a wicked sense of humour which serves to draw you into the characters making The Silent Wife an emotional yet never maudlin read. Fisher writes with honesty about the subject of the emotions a second wife goes through in relation to her feelings about her predecessor that few would admit to out loud. Her depiction of domestic abuse within a relationship is also realistic and Fisher has clearly researched this subject carefully.

You cannot help but care about the main characters and Fisher has done a great job of giving both Maggie and Lara their own unique voice. That sense of the way we view other people compared to the reality and how they actually feel about themselves really comes through and is portrayed brilliantly.

I raced through The Silent Wife, finding it compelling and interesting. There were sentiments and responses I could really identify with and Fisher writes with an emotional intelligence. There is so much to think about and discuss it would make a great read for a reading group.

All-absorbing, emotionally acute and yet funny The Silent Wife is a compulsive read about secrets, lies, the complexities of families and keeping up appearances. A highly recommended read that will have you both laughing and crying and desperate to know the final outcome.

A huge thank you to Kerry Fisher and Kim Nash at Bookouture for the advance copy and the invite to take part in the blog tour. This is my honest and unbiased review.

Published on 24 February 2017 by Bookouture.

Purchase Links

UK 🇬🇧
US 🇺🇸

About Kerry Fisher

Born in Peterborough, Kerry Fisher studied French and Italian, and taught English in Corsica and Spain before climbing to holiday rep and grape picker in Tuscany. She eventually returned to England to ‘get a proper job’, and spent two years in features at Essentials magazine. She now lives in Surrey with her husband, two teenagers and a very naughty lab/schnauzer called Poppy.

Be sure to check out the rest of the hosts on The Silent Wife blog tour –

#AroundTheUKIn144Books Challenge Book 4 – County: East Sussex  


Blog Tour – Bad Little Girl by Frances Vick *Book Review*

I’m thrilled to be one of two hosts on the Bad Little Girl blog tour today, finally getting to share my review of this cracking psychological thriller by Frances Vick. Be sure to also check out Sarah’s review on By The Letter Book Reviews today.

The Blurb

 ‘I’m not safe – you have to help me…’

Little Lorna Bell is from a notorious family on a rundown estate. Everyone thinks she’s a nasty piece of work. The schoolchildren call her a thief. But Lorna’s hair is matted, her shoes pinch her feet and school teacher Claire Penny can’t help herself; some kids just need a bit more support, a bit more love, than the rest.

As the bond between teacher and pupil grows stronger, Claire sees Lorna’s bruises, and digs to uncover the disturbing tale behind them. Heartbroken, Claire knows she has to act. She must make Lorna safe.

Just when Claire thinks she has protected Lorna, a chance encounter brings enigmatic stranger Marianne Cairns into their lives. Marianne seems generous and kind but there is something about her story that doesn’t quite add up. Why does she feel so at home, and why is Lorna suddenly so unsettled?

Claire has risked everything to save Lorna. But what can save Claire from the shocking truth?

An utterly unputdownable and darkly compelling read that will have fans of The Girl on the Train, The Sister, and Gone Girl absolutely hooked.

My Thoughts

Bad Little Girl is the story of Claire Penny, a teacher, and her pupil Lorna Bell. When Claire suspects that Lorna is being abused by her family she feels she has to take action to make the little girl safe. With that action comes consequences she never imagined…

Vick completely pulls you into the novel from the very first page. The prologue starts with a bang and then chapter one teases you with just enough information to compel you to keep reading to find out more. Written in third person narrative, Vick writes really well with vivid descriptions and I loved her use of smells and scents, especially in relation to Lorna, to describe people and the contradictions within them mixing sweetness with something altogether less pleasant. Bad Little Girl is not a fast-paced story, it is one of those insidious, creeping novels that gets under your skin and sets your nerves on edge although you are often left wondering why. It has that ‘something’s wrong but you can’t quite put your finger on’ quality to it.

The characters within Bad Little Girl are key to the whole book and they are strongly portrayed. Vick has cleverly written them so that they often leave that seed of niggling doubt in your mind as to whether or not you can trust them or believe them. Claire is a character you warm to immediately, but she also drove me mad! She clearly cares deeply about her job and the well-being of her pupils, to the detriment of her personal life. While her actions are not right they come from a good place and are well-intentioned, but every one of my ex-social worker senses was screaming out at her to make different choices. She finds it hard to go against people despite believing they are wrong. Claire is a woman who has missed out on her life and those opportunities to start a family of her own and I really felt for her. Lorna fulfils something within her that she hasn’t been able to achieve on her own.

Lorna is the child who is tarred by the reputation of her family, who is unlikely to succeed due to the unfortunate hand that fate has dealt her by making her a member of the Bell family. Switching between empathy and distrust, the character of Lorna kept me on my toes and messed with my head.

And then there is Marianne. Unfortunate enough to bump into Marianne in Cornwall, Claire finds she cannot get rid of her. Blatantly unstable from the start, the consequence of meeting another unsettled mind is devastating. Is Marianne manipulator or manipulated? Marianne is a highly unlikable character who I found particularly intriguing.

Underneath the layer of psychological thriller Vick raises some serious themes. This is also a novel about manipulation, the impact the history of your family has on you and if you can ever escape it and whether children grow up to quickly and are too knowing. Bad Little Girl would work really well within a reading group as it raises lots of issues that are ripe for discussion.

Bad Little Girl is an unsettling novel that it has you doubting what you are reading and who you can trust. It centres around some disturbing ideas that are thought-provoking and uncomfortable and you are left feeling uneasy. A great psychological thriller, highly recommended.

A huge thank you to Frances Vick and Kim Nash at Bookouture for my copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Published on 22 February 2017 by Bookouture.

Purchase Links

UK 🇬🇧
US 🇺🇸

About Frances Vick

The only child of parents who worked at a top security psychiatric hospital, Frances grew up receiving disquieting notes and presents from the patients. Expelled from school, she spent the next few years on the dole, augmenting her income by providing security and crewing for gigs, and being a guinea pig for medical trials. Later jobs included working in a theatre in Manhattan, teaching English in Japanese Junior High Schools, and being a life model in Italy, before coming back to London and working with homeless teenagers and refugees.

Author Influences With Jennifer Gilmour

Joining me today to talk about her author influences is Jennifer Gilmour. Her debut novel, Isolation Junction, is a fictional account of one woman’s escape from her abusive relationship but draws on real-life experiences.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I loved the Goosebumps books by R.L.Stine especially the ones in which you could alter the plot line and ending, I used to re read them and change the way it would flow. As I went into high school I then became a fan of JK Rowling and the Harry Potter series and still thoroughly enjoy them now. My love for fiction then came in my teens when I started with Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison and continued to love the series.
Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
Yes English was one of my strong subjects at school, both literacy and language and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Other strong subjects were art and drama and I think that flourishes through me as a creative person and it is where I am most happy as well.
What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
As you may tell already I like fantasy and fiction. My love for fiction came in my teens and this certainly had an impact and is where I started to write.  I have three fictional novels which are unfinished from my teens and two fantasy novels. I found fantasy more challenging but fun to play with even more with my vivid imagination.
If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I would like to write fantasy but I think this would be a very committed challenge to take and I admire those who have written in this genre. I do like to lose myself in my own world and I have a very active imagination, I guess for me it’s where to start- I have actually written for years but Isolation Junction got finished because it has more of a passionate purpose for me.
Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
When I decided to start writing my debut novel and I was determined to finish this one, I watched a dramatised documentary about J K Rowling and how she was determined to get her novel published.  A few months later I watched the biographical film Miss Potter about Beatrix Potter. Both of these had an influence on me and that’s because they didn’t give up, JK Rowling because of finance and other personal factors and Beatrix for carrying on despite what others thought.
Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
JK Rowling because I have followed her Harry Potter series as I have mentioned before. I’m also eager to get any books by Sháá Wasmund MBE who is an inspiration with her knowledge and motivation, this shows through in her self- help books for small businesses and entrepreneurs as well as her passionate online presence.
Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
I really enjoyed The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and I read it and wondered how on earth she handled the time changes within it and the response from the characters along with not confusing the reader. My novel has dabbled with the time frames and I felt more confident in going down this path because I had read this particular novel a few times over.
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/ people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
My debut novel is in fact based on true events of my own personal experiences and other women’s. In this case it was highly influenced with my own emotions and feelings and I believe my frustration also comes through of this hidden behaviour.
A huge thank you Jennifer for taking part.

Jennifer’s debut novel Isolation Junction is out now!

About Jennifer Gilmour

Born in the North East, Jennifer is a young, married mum with three children. She is  an entrepreneur, running a family business from home and has a large readership of other young mums in business for her blog posts.

From an early age Jennifer has had a passion for writing and has been gathering ideas and plot lines from her teenage years. A passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, she has amalgamated and fictionalised other survivors experiences alongside her own to write her first novel detailing the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again. She hopes that in reading her debut novel, she will raise awareness of this often hidden and unseen behaviour and empower women in abusive relationships to seek help for themselves and find the confidence to change their lives.

Connect With Jennifer

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Review – Old Friends and New Enemies by Owen Mullen

The Blurb

The body on the mortuary slab wasn’t who Glasgow PI  Charlie Cameron was looking for.

But it wasn’t a stranger.

Suddenly, a routine missing persons investigation becomes a fight for survival. As Charlie is dragged deeper into Glasgow’s underbelly he goes up against notorious gangster Jimmy Rafferty and discovers what fear really is.

Rafferty is so ruthless even his own sons are terrified of him.

Now he wants Charlie to find something. And Jimmy Rafferty always gets what he wants.

There is only one problem…Charlie doesn’t know where it is.

My Thoughts

A dead body, missing money and Glasgow gangsters result in what could be Private Investigator Charlie Cameron’s most difficult case yet…not least because the dead body is that of an old friend and it has become personal!

Old Friends and New Enemies is the second book in the Charlie Cameron series. Initially I felt I had missed out as I have not read the first book The Games People Play and it took me a little while to get into the characters and the setting as I didn’t have the benefit of the backstory that had gone before in the previous book. However, as the book progressed I settled in, got to know the characters better, and it worked well as a standalone novel.

Charlie Cameron is a great character who I really warmed to. He has the right combination of being straight-forward with hidden depth which makes you want to get to know more about him. Mullen has created a great cast around Charlie in his friends which results in the reader feeling fully involved in their lives. I really liked the dynamics portrayed in the Rafferty family and Mullen has made the ‘bad guys’ gritty and two-dimensional with insights into their family and personalities. This always adds extra to the story as I always love to know more about the villains and their motivations.

Fast-paced with ‘Oh my God’ moments, Mullen writes well keeping up the momentum until the very end. With two investigations running concurrently, Mullen effectively keeps the reader’s interest with both until they reach their conclusions. There are also moments in the book in which Mullen writes about Charlie’s thoughts and feelings with a depth and sensitivity I wasn’t expecting.

A thoroughly enjoyable read, Old Friends and New Enemies is a great book with a protagonist I look forward to seeing more of. The Charlie Cameron series is set to become a firm favourite and I will definitely be reading The Games People Play, the first book in the series.

A huge thanks to Owen Mullen for my copy in exchange for my fair and unbiased review.

Old Friends and New Enemies is published in paperback on 6 February 2017 and Ebook on 21 February 2017 by Bloodhound Books.

#AroundTheUKIn144Books Challenge Book 3 – County: Glasgow

Cover Reveal – The Secrets of Ivy Garden by Catherine Ferguson

Delighted to be taking part in the cover reveal for Catherine Ferguson’s fifth book The Secrets of Ivy Garden. Published on the 3 April 2017 by Avon Books, it is guaranteed to get you in the mood for Spring. So what’s it about?

The Blurb

When Holly breaks up with her boyfriend Dean, she’s at a loss as to what to do next. But things go from bad to worse when her beloved grandmother Ivy dies – and Holly is left in charge of sorting out Ivy’s house and garden. As she sorts through her grandmother’s belongings and makes her way through the wilderness outside, Holly soon finds that there is more to Ivy than meets the eye, and uncovers a surprising family secret that changes everything…

This is a heart-warming and hilarious story from Catherine Ferguson about starting over, learning to garden and most of all learning to love.

Sounds like a great read. And here is what you have been waiting for, the cover…

How gorgeous is this cover? It certainly gets me in the mood for warmer weather and the sense of optimism that comes with the change in season from Winter to Spring.

Blog Tour – One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis *Book Review*

I love discovering new authors, so was delighted to be asked to take part in the blog tour for One Little Mistake the debut psychological thriller by Emma Curtis. Today I’m kicking off the tour with my review, but first will tell you what the book is about…

The Blurb

Vicky Seagrave is blessed: three beautiful children, a successful, doting husband, great friends and a job she loves. She should be perfectly happy.

When she risks everything she holds dear on a whim, there’s only one person she trusts enough to turn to.

But she’s about to learn that one mistake is all it takes; that is you’re careless with those you love, you don’t deserve to keep them…

My Thoughts

Relationships, motherhood and trust all feature heavily in Emma Curtis’ debut psychological thriller One Little Mistake…and with friends like Amber Collins, who needs enemies?

When Vicky makes a split-second decision to do something she wouldn’t normally do her life tumbles into a spiral of deceit and cover-ups. Turning to her best friend for help and support she begins to discover that her friend maybe isn’t as trust-worthy as she first thought.

Vicky, it would appear, has it all. A great marriage to Tom, three lovely children, gorgeous home, good job and a close best friend in Amber. However, scratch beneath the surface and, despite having a seemingly charmed life, all is not as well as it seems. Overwhelmed by her third, unplanned child, Vicky makes rash decisions that come back to bite her in more ways than she could ever imagine. Vicky is a normal woman with a normal life that you can identify with. While not agreeing with Vicky’s actions, I empathised with her and One Little Mistake would be a great choice for a reading group as there are a lot of issues to discuss and mull over.

And then there is Vicky’s ‘best friend’ Amber. In Amber, Curtis has created a complex, unlikeable character. She is that woman who we have all probably at some point met who has an agenda and yet people appear blind to it. Undoubtedly manipulative and jealous Curtis has, however, made her more than a simple ‘bad guy’ by paying attention to her back story and adding context to her behaviour. I did find myself having a degree of sympathy for her, however, was left wondering at the end if her version of events could be relied on.

You can’t help but be pulled into this story and it makes for a gripping read. For me, the joy in One Little Mistake was seeing Vicky’s slow realisation that her best friend is not what or who she thought she was and the ways in which Amber manipulates those around her. Curtis’ portrayal of this is realistic, especially with Vicky who has certain feelings about Amber’s behaviour at the start and yet dismisses them as being her over-reacting.

Switching seamlessly between past and present, the tale unfolds in the current setting of 2010 with glimpses of 1992. Curtis uses first person narrative and third person narrative to great effect, occasionally switching between the two within a chapter to clearly mark the characters and their experiences. Curtis is adept at building up the tension which inevitably results in a dramatic conclusion while also taking you by surprise.

A riveting page-turner of a book, Curtis has written a great debut novel that has all the elements you want from a psychological thriller. With thought-provoking themes a realistic situation and a shocking ending, I thoroughly enjoyed One Little Mistake and look forward to reading more by this author.

Thank you to Emma Curtis and Rosie Margesson at Pengiun Random House for the advance copy in exchange for my review and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

Published on ebook on 23 February 2017 by Transworld Digital and paperback on 15 June 2017 by Black Swan publishing.

Be sure to catch the rest of the stops on the blog tour…


Blogger Recognition Award!!!!!

Blogger Recognition Award

I am shocked, surprised and utterly delighted to have been nominated by fellow bloggers Ronnie Turner at Ad Astra and Mairead O’Driscoll at Swirl and Thread for the Blogger Recognition Award!! Bloomin’ Brilliant Books is a new blog and this is the first time it has been nominated for anything  so I’m pretty chuffed, a little shy and give a big thanks to Ronnie and Mairead.

Now there are a few bits of housekeeping to be done before I can raise my award high so let me continue…

Rules of the Award

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

2. Write a post to show your award.

3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.

4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.

5. Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.

6. Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide a link to the post you created.

How did I start blogging?

I have always loved reading and get my love of books from my mum. As a child I liked nothing more than going to the library and spending time in WH Smiths! A couple of years ago my life changed beyond all recognition (not going to go into the details as, quite frankly, it will bore you) and one of the things that remained consistent was  my love of books and reading. Books had always provided me with a way to relax and they became ever more important as a means of escapism.

Needing to find a meaning to my life and not having anyone around me who I could talk books with I decided to start reviewing on Netgalley. I loved it and my hubby encouraged me to take it that step further and set up the blog. Being technically challenged I wasn’t sure how I would get on, but to my surprise I managed it and it went from there. I was initially shy and embarrassed about putting my reviews out to the world as I do lack a little self-confidence in my abilities ( a lot to do with the life events) but I didn’t actually think anyone would look at them. 

Anyway, almost a year on and it’s still going! It means so much to have been nominated for this and my heartfelt thanks go to Ronnie and Mairead. I also owe a huge thank you to the fabulous book community who have supported, helped, cheered me on and welcomed me with open arms. Book people rock!!!

Two pieces of advice to new bloggers

1. It has been said before, but I reiterate the saying ‘no’ to requests. Only accept those you really want to read as it will take over your life and your TBR pile will become astronomical! You will have moments of stress when you look at your massive pile and will at times feel overwhelmed and guilty that you are not getting reviews done quickly enough or having to say no. This is overridden though by the positives and the sheer enjoyment you get from blogging and being involved with the book community.

2. Do it your way! It is your blog and they are your reviews. We all have our own styles of writing and opinions on the books we need. Stay true to yourself, it’s what makes the book blogging world so interesting.

The most important thing is to enjoy it! And there is a lot to enjoy, so if you are thinking of starting a blog give it a go!

And now the difficult part…nominating only 15 bloggers for the Blogger Recognition Award. There are so many wonderful blogs and amazing people behind them, I’m going to feel incredibly guilty not including everyone. Right, deep breath, here goes…

So aside from the two fantastic bloggers who nominated me…

Joseph at Relax and Read Reviews

Jen at Jen Med’s Book Reviews

Lorraine at The Book Review Café

Emma at Damppebbles Book Blog

Noelle at Crimebookjunkie

Linda at Linda’s Book Bag

Anne at Being Anne

Magdalena at Bookaholic Swede

Donna at Chocolatenwaffles’ Blog

Wendy at Little Bookness Lane

Karen at My Reading Corner

Kate at The Quiet Knitterer

Cleo at Cleopatra Loves 

Katherine at BibliomaniacUK

Leah at Reflections of a Reader

Sarah at By The Letter Book Reviews

Kate at Bibliophile Book Club

I could have nominated so many more as there are some fantastic blogs out there, all ran by great people. And yes I have cheated by mentioning 17 instead of 15 but hey, it’s my blog and I’m feeling rebellious!

Again thanks for the nomination Ronnie and Mairead…I’m still in shock and it means a lot xxx




Blog Tour – Sealskin by Su Bristow *Book Review*

I am absolutely delighted to be on the blog tour for Su Bristow’s Sealskin today and to be able to share my review. I will be honest and tell you that never has a review caused me so much difficulty to write. It has literally taken me a whole week as I loved Sealskin so much I couldn’t get my words down onto the computer screen. This review in no way does the book justice!

sealskin cover 2[3512]

The Blurb

What happens when magic collides with reality? Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous…and makes a terrible mistake. His action changes lives – not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. Can he ever atone for the wrong he has done, and can love grow when its foundation is violence? Based on the legend of the selkies – seals who can transform into people – Sealskin is a magical story, evoking the harsh beauty of the landscape, the resilience of its people, both human and animal, and the triumph of hope over fear and prejudice. With exquisite grace, Exeter Novel Prize-winner Su Bristow transports us to a different world, subtly and beautifully exploring what it means to be an outsider, and our innate capacity for forgiveness and acceptance. Rich with myth and magic, Sealskin is, nonetheless, a very human story, as relevant to our world as to the timeless place in which it is set. And it is, quite simply, unforgettable.

My Thoughts

Mix together folklore, magical realism and beautiful prose and what do you get? You get the utterly sublime Sealskin by Su Bristow. This is going to be a difficult review to write as how can you convey how much you love a book in just a few paragraphs?

In a fishing village on the west coast of Scotland, Donald lives a solitary life with his mother. He lacks confidence and shuns social interactions with the villagers. One night, when out alone in his boat, he witnesses an unbelievable event and his actions in response to it change his life forever. As well as being a modern take on Selkie folklore, Sealskin is a tale about the nature of being human and its hindrances, how the seemingly incomprehensible can result in fear and the consequences of our actions.

Bristow writes beautifully. The characters within the novel have a depth to them that draws you to them and makes you eager to understand them. Initially unsure of Donald due to his actions at the beginning of the book, he begins to demonstrate that he is not a ‘bad’ person and he goes on to redeem himself. But will his actions come back to haunt him? Can you ever get away with what you have done? Bristow’s depiction of Maihri is stunning, with her capturing the very essence of her perfectly. Maihri has an ethereal quality about her that is beguiling in her ability to be both incredibly gentle and yet intoxicate and potentially cause you harm. I adored her total lack of self-consciousness which is child-like and enchanting. Maihri’s relationship with Donald is, for me, the most wonderful layer of this story. Together they learn what it is to be human and Donald is able to meet his potential and become the person he was meant to be. A tale about the human condition and all its flaws are one of the reasons Sealskin is an incredibly special book. Bristow conveys this message in such a way that you have to pause and reflect on what you have read.

The setting adds so much to the story with Bristow’s descriptions of the sea emphasising its simultaneous beauty and savagery and the power it has over those who live by it and work within it. I found myself completely immersed within the village and partaking in the life of its inhabitants. Sealskin is pure escapism and has a magical quality that makes you fall in love with it.

Sealskin has you holding your breath at its sheer beauty and is one of those books you don’t want to let go. It is a quiet novel that soothes and calms and yet resounds deeply within you. A book I will return to again and again. If you have to read only one book this year, make it Sealskin.

A huge thank you to Su Bristow, Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for my copy of Sealskin and allowing me to take part in the blog tour.

Sealskin was published on ebook on 20 December 2016 and paperback on 15 February 2017 by Orenda Books.

Be sure to catch the other stops on the Sealskin blog tour.

sealskin blog tour[3514]

Author Influences with Caimh McDonnell

I am super excited today (and I must be as I never say ‘super’ anything!) to be joined by Caimh McDonnell, author of the fantastically funny Dublin Trilogy, today. Caimh has allowed me to pester him with questions about the authors and books that have influenced him and his writing. Enjoy!


Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?

The first author whose work I absolutely fell in love with was Terry Pratchett. While his early works were really an affectionate pastiche of the fantasy genre, the Discworld series developed into so much more than that. I’ve been looking forward to the moment when my nephew is old enough and I get to give him his very first Terry Pratchett book.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?

My handwriting has always been so phenomenally bad that as a child I was repeatedly tested for dyslexia and other forms of learning difficulties. I didn’t have anything but educators still kept putting me in the ‘pass stream’ as every time I got given an essay question to complete, nobody could read the answer. Essentially, the ‘pass stream’ in Ireland at the time meant you didn’t go to university. Thankfully, my mother is a formidable woman and she constantly battled to get me put back into the top stream. I ended up getting a degree in electronic engineering as there was no essay questions involved in it. While at university, I got to sit down in front of a PC with a word processing facility for the first time and suddenly people were able to read what I was writing.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?

Typically most of the novels I like to read either fall into the crime or sci-fi genres. Having said that, quite a lot of the ‘reading’ I do is actually audiobooks. I can often spend 16 or so hours in a week driving to gigs and I fill that time by devouring audiobooks. I think the influence of that can be seen very clearly in my writing. I write to be read out loud and I believe dialogue is usually the best way of conveying information. I have also read hundreds of TV and film scripts as I’m completely self-taught as a TV writer. People have said that dialogue is my biggest strength as a writer and I guess if you’ve spent as much time as I have forensically examining the work
of Aaron Sorkin, that’s no great surprise – not that I’m anywhere close to his level.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?

Almost certainly sci-fi. I’ve written quite a few short stories and I think that form works brilliantly for the sci-fi genre. I like taking a weird idea and having fun with it. I do have a couple of very odd sci-fi concepts that I do intend to try and turn into novels somewhere down the line but probably not for a couple of years.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?

As I mentioned, Terry Pratchett was a massive influence on me. I also remember reading Michael Marshall Smith’s classic ‘Only Forward’ and it completely blowing my socks off. As soon as I discovered the work of Christopher Brookmyre, I rocketed through everything he had ever written and I’ve been a devout fan ever since. I think you can see the massive influence he has had on my work. Some reviewers have been kind enough to compare my debut novel to him and that has been really humbling as he is a big hero of mine.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?

Christopher Brookmyre obviously and until his tragic passing, Terry Pratchett. To be honest, I’ve not read Sir Terry’s last book yet – I think a part of me doesn’t want there to be no more Terry Pratchett books left in the world that I haven’t read. I’ve oddly met quite a few people who have done the same. It might be the most beloved unread book on the planet.

Mark Billingham is a firm favourite and I would also add Dennis Lehane to that list. I saw the film ‘The Drop’, which is based on his short story of the same name a couple of years ago. I was breaking up a long drive to a gig and I only went to it as I’d missed the film I meant to go and see, best traffic jam ever! I was so impressed I googled the author and I couldn’t believe that he’d written so many other books that Hollywood had already turned into films. The only thing that surprises me about the genius of Dennis Lehane is that more people don’t know who he is.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?

Dennis Lehane’s ‘Gone Baby Gone’ pulls off an incredible ending that I think is one of the very best in the history of crime fiction. It is a great book all the way up until that point but, without giving any spoilers, I remember being caught wonderfully off-guard by the ending.

Also, Don Winslow’s ‘The Power of the Dog’ is a tremendous read in general but there is a scene in it describing someone being trapped in a skyscraper in an earthquake that is the most visceral piece of writing I think I’ve ever read. My last flat was on the 14th floor, if we hadn’t moved already, we would have to move now. Incredible writing.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be
careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)

There is a character in my debut novel called Bunny McGarry who kind of steals the show. Several people have asked me if he is based on Brendan Gleeson, the very fine Irish actor. Oddly, while Brendan would be incredible in the role for the movie (and please somebody, make the movie!) the truth is that the only reason the character of Bunny is a big broad shouldered man as described, is because it was changed very late in the process as I was worried the person who provided the inspiration for the character was far to recognisable to people who knew him.

I will also admit that the character of Phil Nellis in my books is heavily based on my friend and fellow comedian Phil Ellis. In fact, I did it specifically to annoy him.

A huge thank you Caimh for taking part.

A Man With One Of those FacesThe Day That Never Comes cover[2685]

The first two books in The Dublin Trilogy are out now. If you haven’t read them yet, you are missing out! You can read my review of A Man With One Of Those Faces HERE and The Day That Never Comes HERE.

About Caimh McDonnell

Caimh McDonnell is an award-winning stand-up comedian, author and writer of televisual treats.

His writing credits include The Sarah Millican Television Programme, A League of Their Own, Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You. He also works as a children’s TV writer and was BAFTA nominated for the animated series ‘Pet Squad’ which he created. He was also a winner in the BBC’s Northern Laffs sitcom writing competition.

During his time on the British stand-up circuit, Caimh has firmly established himself as the white-haired Irishman whose name nobody can pronounce. He has brought the funny worldwide, doing stand-up tours of the Far East, the Middle East and Near East (Norwich).

Connect with Caimh




Review – Death In Profile by Guy Fraser-Sampson


The Blurb

The genteel façade of London’s Hampstead is shattered by a series of terrifying murders, and the ensuing police hunt is threatened by internal politics, and a burgeoning love triangle within the investigative team. Pressurised by senior officers desperate for a result a new initiative is clearly needed, but what?

Intellectual analysis and police procedure vie with the gut instinct of a ‘copper’s nose’, and help appears to offer itself from a very unlikely source – a famous fictional detective. A psychological profile of the murderer allows the police to narrow down their search, but will Scotland Yard lose patience with the team before they can crack the case?

Praised by fellow authors and readers alike, this is a truly original crime story, speaking to a contemporary audience yet harking back to the Golden age of detective fiction. Intelligent, quirky and mannered, it has been described as ‘a love letter to the detective novel’. Above it all hovers Hampstead, a magical village evoking the elegance of an earlier time, and the spirit of mystery-solving detectives.

My Thoughts

 I really enjoy reading crime novels, but every now and again I feel the need for something a little bit different from the norm. Death In Profile by Guy Fraser-Sampson filled this need brilliantly. This is the first volume in The Hampstead Murders and it will definitely be a series I follow.

An interesting mix of modern day police procedural and old-school crime/detective novel, Death in Profile is quite unlike anything I have read recently. There is enough of the modern day—the nature of the crimes, methods of investigation—to keep you gripped and wanting to know ‘whodunnit’ and yet it is simultaneously soothing and comforting.

Initially it took me a little while to get into the rhythm of Fraser-Sampson’s style of writing, largely I think due to being used to the majority of crime novels being written in a certain way, but once I did I eagerly anticipated returning to the book after a break from reading. It transported me back to another era regardless of it being set in the modern day. The characters and the way they engage with one another took me back to a time when manners, consideration and politeness where a common day occurrence and I found this a real welcome break from modern-day life. There is a real charm to the characters within the book and I look forward to spending time with them again in volume two.

Fraser-Sampson draws on the Golden Age of crime novels throughout Death in Profile both in style and to add to the story, giving it an interesting twist. Add to this the copper’s instinct versus theorising and intellectualising aspect of crime solving and the use of psychology to aide investigations, the novel surprised me and made me think differently about the ensuing police investigation within the pages.

I really enjoyed Death in Profile and have no hesitation in recommending it. It was refreshing and engaging and if you are looking for a crime novel with a twist on the norm look no further. This promises to be an interesting series that will be on my ‘go to’ list when I’m feeling the need to escape from it all.

A huge thank you to Guy Fraser-Sampson and Urbane Publications for my copy in exchange for my unbiased and honest review.

Published on 18 March 2016 by Urbane Publications.