Liz Currently Loves…Freedom’s Child by Jax Miller


Publication Date: 30th July from Harper Collins

Source: Publisher Review Copy

Freedom Oliver has plenty of secrets. She lives in a small Oregon town and keeps mostly to herself. Her few friends and neighbors know she works at the local biker bar; they know she gets arrested for public drunkenness almost every night; they know she’s brash, funny, and fearless.
What they don’t know is that Freedom Oliver is a fake name. They don’t know that she was arrested for killing her husband, a cop, twenty years ago. They don’t know she put her two kids up for adoption.

Freedom’s Child is a brilliantly authentic and addictive read – one I devoured in two sittings and really did not want to raise my head from – it is dark, delicious and has the most amazing main protagonist, someone you will get right behind.

Freedom is in witness protection, she muddles through the days and nights, missing her children and taking no nonsense. When her daughter goes missing she sets off to find her, stalked by her husband’s family there is danger every step of the way.

Jax Miller writes with a kind of wild abandon that suits her characters and settings perfectly – there is a really sharp and imaginative edge to how she puts things across, enveloping the reader in the tale completely, making Freedom’s Child a really really great reading experience, one that will stay with you long after finishing.

And oh boy The Delaney’s – a family of trouble, but the most entertaining trouble ever – I adored them (well, you know as much as you can adore such villainous villains) but they were perfectly drawn – primitively savage with an underlying intelligence that made them so beautifully dangerous.

Freedom herself is flawed, unlikeable, distinctly random and sometimes really nasty – but that won’t stop you loving her. I’m giving huge brownie points to the author for not feeling the need to tone her down, or give her a genial vulnerability just because she is a woman. She is a raw, from the hip, realistic female lead, as such this novel has raised the level when it comes to writing strong female characters.

I won’t give anything away as to how it all pans out, but overall this is a tense, absorbing read with a restless energy about it that appealed to me completely – I hope to meet Freedom again one day, but whatever happens I’m fairly sure I’m sticking with this author for life.

Loved it. Highly Recommended.

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The Artificial Anatomy of Parks – Blog Tour.


Publication Date: Available Now from Legend Press

Source: Netgalley

At 21, Tallulah Park lives alone in a grimy bedsit. There’s a sink in her bedroom and a strange damp smell that means she wakes up wheezing. Then she gets the call that her father has had a heart attack. Years before, she was being tossed around her difficult family; a world of sniping aunts, precocious cousins, emigrant pianists, and lots of gin, all presided over by an unconventional grandmother. But no one was answering Tallie’s questions: why did Aunt Vivienne loathe Tallie’s mother? Why is everyone making excuses for her absent father? Who was Uncle Jack and why would no one talk about him?

The Artificial Anatomy of Parks is a beautifully written and moving debut from Kat Gordon – a deeply intense family drama with some brilliantly drawn authentic characters and actually a really emotional read.

A coming of age tale where family secrets are rife we see Tally growing up amongst an eclectic and fascinating group of family characters, where she is today very much informed by where she has come from.

The author has a really great way of telling the story in a gorgeously readable style and engages the reader from the very first page – this is a novel full of depth of character, emotional resonance and very insightful observations, as such it made for an intriguing read.

Kat Gordon is a writer to watch  – building the layers of her tale in a truly alluring way, keeping you immersed into the story of Tallie and her life this is a remarkably accomplished debut and I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next.

Highly Recommended.

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The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton – Blog Tour

23310342Rosamund Lupton. Photographed by Charlie Hopkinson. No use without rights clearance.

Rosamund Lupton.
Photographed by Charlie Hopkinson.
No use without rights clearance.


Publication Date: Available Now from Little Brown.

Thanks to the publisher for the Advanced Reading Copy

On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrived in Alaska.

Within hours they were driving alone across a frozen wilderness

Where nothing grows

Where no one lives

Where tears freeze

And night will last for another 54 days.

They are looking for Ruby’s father.

Travelling deeper into a silent land.

They still cannot find him.

And someone is watching them in the dark.

The Quality of Silence is a read that was worth waiting for (I’m a huge fan of Ms Lupton’s previous novels) and with this one she has taken a step up with some beautiful writing, an intense, chilly and emotional read that is utterly utterly gripping.

Ruby’s father is seemingly killed in a horrific accident – Ruby’s Mum however does not believe it and with Ruby in tow sets off across a bleak and unforgiving landscape to track him down. As the story unfolds from both points of view it is truly fascinating and this is one of those tales that you sink into without looking back.

Rosamund Lupton really does have the magic touch when it comes to characters, Ruby’s voice is amazing and really makes the whole novel so much more than it could have been – the yin/yang aspect between her observations and that of her Mother is well imagined and gives huge depth to proceedings, I loved both of them dearly.

As for setting, the author brings Alaska to vivid, realistic life around our two as they travel ever onwards, the beauty of the descriptive prose giving the reader a real feel for the challenges being faced, so realistically written that at times you may physically shiver, even in the current heatwave we are experiencing. Therein lies the power of words – in this novel that power is inherent in every chapter and is honestly addictive.

All in all then a truly marvellous read, one that will tug on the heartstrings, have you holding your breath, keep you turning those pages to find out the outcome, especially for Ruby and ultimately a story that you will never forget. I loved it.

Highly Recommended. HIGHLY.

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New Release Spotlight – Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton


Publication Date: Available Now from Bantam Press

Source: Review Copy

Three confessions. Two liars. One killer.

Three friends have had their lives ripped apart. Their pasts haunt them. They are consumed by guilt. And they don’t trust anyone. Not even themselves.
But in their small, isolated, island community, trust is the only way to survive.
Now a child has gone missing.
And no one knows who to believe…

So, no Lacey Flint in sight – this is a standalone novel – and whilst I adore the series fiction from Sharon Bolton  if this is not the best thing she has written (so far) I’ll eat my hat.

Set in the Falkland Islands, a place that the author brings utterly, vividly to life, we find a small community where tragedy struck, ripping apart close friends and leaving a dark sense of loss running throughout the lives of the inhabitants. When a child goes missing it starts off a chain of events which will bring old suspicions to the surface and threaten to widen the rift.

This is one of those novels that is exceptional both in the beauty of the prose and in the sheer addictive quality of the story unfolding before you. It packs a real emotional punch with authentic, sympathetic characters whose complicated and tangled interactions are exquisitely drawn by the author, insightful writing that makes you hit a range of feelings as you read it, from angry to sad and everything in between – all the while managing the mystery element of the tale with aplomb, the reveal moments when they come are perfectly placed.

There is no way to put a label on Little Black Lies – it is a tale of friendship and family, a mystery but with a real eye towards the realities of life, I loved every last minute of it, seriously there is not a wrong step here. From first page to last it is enthralling, emotive and engaging and despite the trauma (I cried great big buckets of tears when it was over for reasons I can’t now put into words) I have no hesitation in saying that this is one of the best novels you will read this year. If not the best.

Three Little Words for Little Black Lies. Intense. Traumatic. Unforgettable.

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New Release Spotlight: Way Down Dark by James Smythe


Publication Date: 2nd July from Hodder and Staughton

Source: Review copy

There’s one truth on Australia: You fight or you die. Usually both.
Seventeen-year-old Chan’s ancestors left a dying Earth hundreds of years ago, in search of a new home. They never found one.
The only life that Chan’s ever known is one of violence, of fighting. Of trying to survive.
But there might be a way to escape. In order to find it, Chan must head way down into the darkness – a place of buried secrets, long-forgotten lies, and the abandoned bodies of the dead.

Way Down Dark was simply fantastic – a rip roaring kind of old school adventure set in Space, a perfect piece of storytelling aimed at the young adult audience that anyone of any age will absolutely adore. Forget The Hunger Games – you ain’t seen nothing yet…

So anyway we meet Chan, who is fending for herself after her  Mother dies, living aboard Australia – where violence abounds, day to day living is tense and insecure and also where things are about to get a lot worse as one of the factions aboard begins a huge power play…

I sunk into this one without looking back – from the very first page James Smythe captures the imagination, sets the reading adrenalin pumping and things simply get better from there. I devoured it, completely immersed in this world as Chan fights for survival and tries to maintain at least a semblence of moral code. Discovering the ship’s secrets she is about to face even bigger challenges.

This is so terrifically multi layered – imaginatively speaking it is a corker, the world building is superb, the characters are all vivid, alive and gorgeously drawn and the crafting of the story is top notch. Really really great writing and a true touch of storytelling genius.

Best thing is this is a trilogy, and as a part one it sets the scene with pitch perfect rhythm, making your teeth ache in anticipation of book two. The end packs such a punch, the final line is so inordinately fist pumpingly good that I practically jumped in the air before coming back down and thinking “Oh darn. Now I have to wait”.

I feel pretty much  the same about this one as I did reading Red Rising – the guys over at Hodderscape will understand that one and may read this line then find somewhere to hide…but this is me you are talking to – I’ll find them.

Overall a truly wonderful read  – the kind of book that writing was meant for, ingenious, artistic and most of all a hell of a story. And as always for me, the story is the thing…


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Follow You Home by Mark Edwards. Blog tour. Guest Post.



The Wandering Author – How and Where I Write

This is a picture of my office at home. (SEE PHOTO) It’s not actually an office – that was turned into a nursery two years ago when my third child was on the way. No, it’s a corner of my dining room, with the smallest desk we could find because that’s all that would fit. Out of shot are the dining table, two high chairs, several boxes full of felt tip pens and an essential item for every writer’s workspace: a bright yellow puppet theatre.



A lot of readers – including me, before I became a full-time author – imagine authors locking themselves away in grand offices, probably on the top floor of a large house, with an inspiring view. A solid oak desk, piles of paper everywhere, shelf after shelf of books. A place where magic naturally happens. But I’ve discovered this is not at all typical, especially as most of us have to fit writing around normal life. And if you have small children, the challenge of finding time and space to write is magnified – like every other problem that child-free people can barely comprehend – ten-fold.

So it’s actually pretty rare to find me in my little makeshift office. Instead, most days I can be found wandering the streets of Wolverhampton, looking for a place to park my laptop and increase my word count. I have several favourite venues. The gym is one of them. My gym has a large coffee lounge where I can happily sit all day, using their wifi and watching active types jogging in and out of the changing rooms. Initially, I think the staff wondered what I was up to. When I told them I’m a writer they said, ‘Oh. Someone off The Secret Millionaire used to come here and do that too.’ Which is far more impressive because a) he’s a millionaire and b) he’s been on the telly.

I have a favourite café, called Latuskes, where they serve the best scrambled eggs in the West Midlands. The staff are lovely and at least one of them has read one of my books. I also go to Starbucks which is curiously empty on weekday afternoons. I sit there and pretend I’m Carrie from Sex and the City, imagining that I’m gazing out at Manhattan rather than Wolverhampton city centre and one of the country’s busiest Poundlands.

I’ve become so accustomed to working in public that I am usually able to block out the noise around me, though the occasional conversation pierces my concentration. I recently overheard a teen boy trying to impress his girlfriend by telling her about Orwell’s 1984. ‘Yeah, the TV show Big Brother was based on it. It was written in 1950…’

‘Actually,’ I wanted to cry. ‘It was written in 1948. Orwell reversed the final digits to get the year.’ But I resisted. Still, it was distracting.

I’m not complaining about having a tiny office and being forced to work in public, although it’s easy to forget how privileged I am being a full-time writer. It wasn’t always like this. My first books were written in snatched moments. One of them, my first under a publisher’s contract, was written almost entirely on a train. Thirty minutes in the morning, thirty more in the evening. Writing with a sweaty commuter crammed into the seat beside you while people yell, ‘I’m on the train!’ into their mobiles is not fun. So I may look like a lost figure, wandering about with a laptop under my arm, but I like being a wanderer. The Wolverhampton wanderer. It’s actually pretty apt.

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The 3rd Woman by Jonathan Freedland – Blog Tour.

The 3rd Woman Jacket imageJonathan Freedland PHOTO CREDIT Philippa Gedge 2015


Author Photograph by Phillipa Gedge

Publication Date: 2nd July from Harper Collins

Today I am absolutely delighted to kick off the blog tour for this novel –  you will see a full review from me any day now but at the moment I am about a third of the way through (appropriately) The 3rd Woman. I can tell you now that this is going to be one of my favourite thrillers of the year. The political landscape that Mr Freedland has imagined here is simply brilliant and totally absorbing. Added to that he has created some truly intriguing and intelligent characters and wrapped it all up in a beautifully strung together parcel of addictive reading material. I have no doubt that when I get to the end I shall be blathering on about it endlessly to anyone that will listen. Yes it is one of THOSE books.

And as if by magic, to back up my words, here is an extract to wet your appetite….


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Maddy had been up for twenty hours; all she was asking for was a few hours’ rest. Even a few minutes. She closed her eyes.

Something like sleep came, the jumble of semi-conscious images that, for a normal person, usually presages sleep, a partial dream, like an overture to the main performance. She remembered that much from her childhood, back when she could rest effortlessly, surrendering to slumber the instant her head touched the pillow. But the voice in her head refused to fall silent. Here it was now, telling her she was still awake, stubbornly, maddeningly present.

She reached for her phone, letting out a glum sigh: all right, you win. She checked the LA Times site again, her story still the ‘most read’. Then she clicked on the scanner app again, listening long enough to hear the police reporting several bodies found around town. One was not far from here, in Eagle Creek, another in North Hollywood.

Next, a long article on foreign policy: ‘Yang’s Grand Tour’, detailing how the man tipped to be China’s next president had just returned from an extended visit to the Middle East and analysing what this meant for the next phase of the country’s ambition. The piece was suitably dense. Sure enough, it came close to sending her off, her mental field of vision behind her lidded eyes darkening at the edges, like the blurred border on an old silent movie. The dark surround spread, so that the image glimpsed by her mind’s eye became smaller and smaller, until it was very nearly all black . . .

But she was watching it too closely, wanting it too much. She was conscious of her own slide into unconsciousness and so it didn’t happen. She was, goddammit, still awake. She opened her eyes in surrender.

And then, for perhaps the thousandth time, she opened the drawer by her bed and pulled out the photograph.

She gazed at it now, looking first at her mother. She would have been what, thirty-eight or thirty-nine, when this picture was taken. Christ, less than ten years older than Maddy was now. Her mother’s hair was brown, unstyled. She wore glasses too, of the unfashionable variety, as if trying to make herself look unattractive. Which would make a kind of sense.

Quincy was there, seventeen, tall, the seriousness already etched into her face. Beautiful in a stern way. Abigail was adorable of course, gap-toothed and smiling, aged six and sitting on Maddy’s lap. As for Maddy herself, aged fourteen in this photograph, she was smiling too, but her expression was not happy, exactly: it contained too much knowledge of the world and of what life can do.

She reached out to touch her earlier self, but came up against the right-hand edge of the picture, sharp where she had methodically cut it all those years ago, excising the part she didn’t want to see.

Later she would not be able to say when she had fallen asleep or even if she had. But the phone buzzed shortly after two am, making the bedside table shake. A name she recognized but which baffled her at this late hour: Detective Howe. A long-time source of hers from the crime beat, one who had been especially keen to remain on her contacts list. He called her once or twice a month: usually pretending to have a story, occasionally coming right out with it and asking her on a date. They had had lunch a couple of times, but she had never let it go further. And he had certainly never called in the middle of the night. One explanation surfaced. The sweatshop must have reported her for assault and Jeff was giving her a heads-up. Funny, she’d have thought they’d have wanted to avoid anything that would add to the publicity, especially after—

‘Madison, is that you?’

‘Yes. Jeff? Are you all right?’

‘I’m OK. I’m downstairs. You need to let me in. Your buzzer’s broken.’

‘Jeff. It’s two in the morning. I’m—’

‘I know, Madison. Just let me in.’ He was not drunk, she could tell that much. Something in his voice told her this was not what she had briefly feared; he was not about to make a scene, declaring his love for her, pleading to share her bed. She buzzed him in and waited.

When he appeared at her front door, she knew. His face alone told her: usually handsome, lean, his greying hair close-cropped, he now looked gaunt. She offered a greeting but her words sounded strange to her, clogged. Her mouth had dried. She noticed that she was cold. Her body temperature seemed to have dropped several degrees instantly.

‘I’m so sorry, Madison. But I was on duty when I heard and I asked to do this myself. I thought it was better you hear this from me.’

She recognized that tone. She was becoming light-headed, the blood draining from her brain and thumping back into her heart. ‘Who?’ was all she could say.

She saw Jeff’s eyes begin to glisten. ‘It’s your sister. Abigail. She’s been found dead.’

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Liz Currently Loves….In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. July Release


Publication Date: 30th July 2015 from Harvill Secker

Source: Netgalley

Nora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.

In a dark, dark wood there was a dark, dark house..

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room..

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

And in the dark, dark room…

Some things can’t stay secret for ever.

Seriously addictive and with such a gorgeous  flow that you could easily read it in one sitting if you have a free afternoon, In a Dark Dark Wood is definitely up there with the best psychological thrillers I have read.

It is beautifully character driven  –  to the point that even inanimate objects become characters in their own right – most especially the “dark dark house” mentioned in the blurb which takes on a life of its own and is so deliciously creepy that there is a touch of cinematic horror story to be had in here as well. Ruth Ware has a subtle yet affecting descriptive quality to her writing that sinks into your psyche, making this an edgy and highly intriguing read.

So we have Nora then – invited rather randomly and out of the blue to the hen party of an old friend she has not seen for ages, she is in two minds as to whether or not to go. Ultimately she makes the decision to attend, a decision that will change the course of her life…

The plot is tense, claustrophobic and completely fascinating – a small cast set up in a tightly woven environment where secrets hover just beneath the surface waiting to jump out – the entire character group are beautifully drawn both individually and in their interactions with each other. The author weaves a web of deceit around her carefully set pieces and the whole thing is just really so readable, involving and entirely captivating.

The ultimate solution may or may not surprise you but in this case the journey is the thing and the extremely compelling  utterly riveting story unfolding before you.

Highly Recommended.

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River of Souls by Kate Rhodes – A terrific series


Publication Date: Available Now from Mulholland

Source: Bookbridgr

Jude Shelley, daughter of a prominent cabinet minister, had her whole life ahead of her until she was attacked and left to drown in the Thames. Miraculously, she survived. A year later, her family ask psychologist Alice Quentin to re-examine the case.

But then an elderly priest is attacked in Battersea, his body washed up at Westminster Pier. An ancient glass bead is tied to his wrist.

The river has always demanded sacrifices, and now it seems a killer believes it’s calling out for more.

Alice is certain that Jude and her family are hiding something, but unless she can persuade them to share what they know, more victims will drown…

I’m a fan of the Alice Quentin books for sure – the first one started with a bang and they have steadily become more and more addictive – Now here we are at No 4 and this one was a doozy.

Jude was brutally attacked and left for dead – now hanging on, her mother asks Alice to take another look at the case. Before she can really get into it though another body turns up in horrifically similar circumstances. Are the cases tied together? Working once more with the police, Alice starts to delve deeper..

There are two things mainly about these novels that really appeal to me – first Alice herself, who has a great depth to her and is beautifully normal. Yes she has her ups and downs but for pure authenticity she is, for me, one of the top fictional female protagonists.

The other thing is the really gorgeous flow that Kate Rhodes manages to weave into the narrative. The very definition of addictive reading – River of Souls grips from the start, all the way through and then clings onto you for a fair while after you’ve finished it.  I mean really, what more do you need from a book?

There is a lot of emotional resonance to these also which is very engaging and cleverly done to tug on the heartstrings on occasion – whilst then sending you off on a bit of an adrenalin rush when things hot up in whatever case Alice is involved in. In the case of this instalment I was on the edge of my seat at the end there – I was not QUITE sure what the outcome was going to be….Whether I heaved a sigh of relief or had a good cry you’ll have to read the book to find out.

Overall I loved this one – and the ones that went before it. They come highly recommended from me and I am very much looking forward to seeing what is next.

Pick up a copy, batten down the hatches and enter Alice’s world. You won’t be disappointed.

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Liz Currently Loves… Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway – July release.



Publication Date: 16th July from Simon and Schuster UK Childrens

Source: Netgalley

Oliver’s absence split us wide open, dividing our neighborhood along a fault line strong enough to cause an earthquake. An earthquake would have been better. At least during an earthquake, you understand why you’re shaking.


Emmy and Oliver then – a book that made me cry just because really – this is a story of friendship, love and family and is written beautifully, with a gorgeous witty undertone and is at turns sad, heart warming, very very funny and extraordinarily insightful.

Emmy and Oliver are childhood best friends – living next door to each other and along with Drew and Caro, they are fixed to each other in that way that only young children seem to be able to do really well.  Before they can come of age however, Oliver is kidnapped by his Father and the ripples of that are still spreading years later when Oliver returns…

It is actually quite difficult to describe how wonderfully engaging this is – multi-layered and full of depth, I fell insanely in love with all the characters (especially Drew it has to be said) – Robin Benway has written a genuinely exquisite little novel here that really touches the heart.

We see snapshots in time from when Emmy and Oliver were young, whilst also seeing them take their first tentative steps towards rekindling that connection now both of them are teenagers. The ten year gap means they are walking a fine line between the children they were and the adults they are becoming. Add to that the fact that Emmy, Drew and Caro have continued on without Oliver, have their own friendship language, their own dynamic, Oliver’s return makes for some great interactions as everyone tries to resettle.

Of course there is also the family to take into consideration – Emmy’s parents wrap her up in cotton wool, so much so that she has to hide her life from them to a large extent, Oliver’s family has grown while he has been away and there are a lot of other pitfalls along the way as everything is changing for a second time.

As a reader you will be right in this – it is impossible not to become emotionally involved, not to root wildly for Emmy and Oliver and their growing struggle to find themselves – the supporting cast are all so important as well to the whole and it is all so perfectly flowing that you will practically live it with them.

I adored this with true passion. I think my tears at the end were mostly because I’ve had to leave them all behind. I really didn’t want to.

Highly Recommended.

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