The Bad Neighbour is a psychological thriller and today I am closing the blog tour with a review, thanks to publisher – Hobeck Books for inviting me and for the book, in-exchange of an honest review, which can be found below the blurb.
By the author of Silenced, BBNYA (Book Bloggers Novel of the Year Award) SEMI-FINALIST 2022!
In March 2020, the Covid pandemic hits the sleepy English village of Brampton. At the start of lockdown, social climber and local busybody Tara Sanderson sets up a community group to help vulnerable residents through the crisis. Elderly Elspeth Chambers, her longstanding neighbour and friend, accepts Tara’s offer to buy food and collect medicine for her.
But it isn’t long before neighbourliness and community spirit turn sour. Tensions arise when Tara becomes jealous of Elspeth’s emerging friendship with Ashley Kahn, a recent arrival in Wilton Close. Suspecting there is more to Tara’s hostility toward them than meets the eye, Ashley and Elspeth start to uncover their neighbour’s long-buried secrets…
Everybody needs good neighbours, right? Tara Sanderson is one of those neighbours. This is what we are led to believe. She does everything right, helping those who are most vulnerable with their food shopping and medication collecting, she even set up a group to help in the darkest of times when the country locked down for Covid. The setting for showing goodwill and kindness couldn’t be more perfect and seemed the perfect time for Tara to do her bit for the community in-which she lives. What could possibly go wrong?
Tara’s neighbour really leans on her goodwill a lot and perhaps a little much. Ashley Kahn arrives on the close and becomes more friendly with Elspeth, the lady she is helping, a bit more than she would like to see and lots changes. Jennie Ensor captures the mood and atmosphere well, both when Tara is being that good neighbour and when she turns into the type of neighbour anyone would regret having in their vicinity – a bad neighbour.
It is an interesting read to see altruism turn into something else because there’s more to Tara than meets the eye and things twist as secrets emerge. The book becomes more gripping as tensions rise as people’s patience fray at the edges and the more secrets and opinions and attitudes are uncovered.
The Bad Neighbour is a dark psychological read that people will be able to relate to in one way or another and will have you gripped from beginning to end.
If you’re looking for a summery read with a stunning location, Summer at Green Valley Vineyard has got it with a big tick. Today I am on the blog tour for the paperback publication of this summer read, thanks to
A beautiful vineyard. A new beginning. A summer that will change their lives forever…
Linzi arrived at Green Valley Vineyard nine years ago, in need of a fresh start. In the lush emerald countryside and ripening grapes, she finally has a place to call home.
But Linzi’s world is rocked when the owner announces he is retiring, and his grandson is taking over.
When Elliot Montgomery first sets foot at Green Valley, Linzi’s worst fears are realised. He’s stepped straight out of the boardroom in shiny shoes and a tailored suit. How will a numbers man like him ever understand the magic of what they do here?
Elliot has his own demons, carrying the grief of his father’s death. Despite their differences, he has come to the vineyard for a new beginning, much like Linzi once did.
As the summer unfolds, Elliot and Linzi find themselves in an uneasy alliance while old secrets threaten to be revealed.
Could more be about to bloom here among the twisting vines than they ever thought possible?
An absolutely charming summer read that is perfect to escape with. Fans of Karen Swan, Phillipa Ashley and Sarah Morgan will be absolutely enchanted by this tale full of love, friendship and the beauty of winemaking.
Meet Linzi, she is preparing herself for what could potentially be a nightmare situation, her boss retiring and his grandson, who so far had tried to avoid the family business, is set to takeover to keep the vineyards going. You just know it isn’t going to be an easy ride when it is someone who cares more about numbers and pitches up in a sharp suit that sounds a little out of place, to try and make a mark. As a reader, you can totally understand her trepidation in what is otherwise a beautiful scenic place to work.
You can feel the friction between the Linzi and Elliott, as he wants a fresh start. The emotions come through the quality of the writing, it is clever as the vines twist, there comes some twists and turns in the characters lives. What looms is the exposing of secrets. There are also unexpected emotions that also materialise that could mean some love is in the air that may just well be trying to bud.
It is a summer read that whisks you away, but never strays too far from what goes on in the forefront of people’s lives, even in a picturesque place. There’s always challenges to overcome and certainly people about to make things difficult. This is captured well in this book of second chances.
Today’s the 1st anniversary of the #RespectRomFic movement I joined in collaboration with @BookMinxSJV & @RNAtweets aiming to shift the dismissive attitude I believe the genre receives. There are 500 other industry professionals involved in this movement. For this, as well as tweets I have chosen to write an article about what makes Rom-Fic relevant and important to today and how there is more to this genre than meets the eye.
Rom-Fic – More Than Meets The Eye
Publishers and many authors of the rom-com/romantic fiction – also known as contemporary fiction/women’s fiction are doing a shout out about their genre, to highlight its importance and relevancy in the world. As a blogger and reviewer, sure, I read and enjoy most genres and review them, but today I would like to also draw your attention to this in a short article about a genre, not just written by women, but also men and they’re doing it well and not necessarily in ways you may presume.
Rom-Fic(Romantic Fiction) it isn’t what it used to be, it is, nowadays far from slushy and no longer as overly flowery as it once was. Over the years it has evolved and changed. It also used to be the most read genre, over crime fiction, hard to believe nowadays with everything being about that particular genre, but true, and even today it is hot off the heels to crime and thrillers. There are even elements of mystery within some romantic fiction with puzzles to solve too.
Rom-Ficis far from dull. It has drama, spirit, intrigue, secrets and grit to get your readers eyes stuck into and to unravel. Romance features, but isn’t the only part of the books. Friendships, community spirit, family ties, discovering second chances in life and mystery also all feature with realistic protagonists who have lives that are relatable. Readers can be enveloped within their lives, through the good and hard times.
Rom-Fic is important! It contains the issues of the times it is written in, or issues people have lived through, that are universally acknowledged. There are themes of friendship, grief, community spirit, romance, family ties and splits. Within those themes, there is often tensions and struggles to overcome, leaving nothing sugar-coated or saccharine. Within this, is the power to flood all your senses. It has the power to move you emotionally, whether that’s laughing out loud and feeling good or making you feel empathy and sympathy, sometimes leaving not a dry eye in its wake. Sometimes the writing can be so evocative that you can almost touch or smell what is being written about, whether it is in the landscape, an object, food or a person. There is also the sensuality of romance, whether it is budding or in full bloom as well as the flip-side of tensions between failing relationships or the re-building of them or starting over.
The way the plots are constructed/written has grip, creating a intrigue and a page-turning experience as tensions are built up between characters and/or certain events happen, or in the way they whisk you off into a place you either know or you don’t, but there is always lots to explore.
Rom-Fic is good for your wellbeing as they are books you can relax into. It certainly gets the endorphins going as they often have a happy ending or one that you can revel in, but with the realism that to get to that place isn’t instant; there is often a rocky road to take before reaching there and success isn’t instantaneous when changing or adding to your life. This genre is also good for society as people develop a greater understanding of others or become inspired by something for when readers re-emerge from the books, back into the real world.
Below I have 6 quick reviews and links to the full reviews, that also include blurbs and open on a different page, of the many excellent Rom-Fic books I have read, reviewed and enjoyed. Each, I think shows something different within this genre. I wish I could show them all, but imagine how large this article would be…
The Summer Fair By Heidi Swain sees Beth working in a carehome. We see her struggle with the death of her mum as she denies all she loved prior to this event. She finds herself with a new opportunity in Nightengale Square to help with a special event in the community gardens. This is a feel-good uplifting book with community spirit, grit, friendship and romance in the offering. Find the full review here: The Summer Fair
Three’s A Crowd by S.R. Booker deals with a father and son estrangement. There is also Harriet who has many intrusive thoughts whirring through her complex neuro-divergent mind. She has had a few boyfriends, but can she find love this time? This book will have you laughing through many of the pages as well as having your heart-strings tugged. Find the blurb and full review here – Three’s A Crowd
The Daughter-In-Law By Fanny Blake is a multi-generational story showing the complexities of relationships. The romance is already there, this is more about the tensions of work and someone unexpected appears on the scene. The tensions build and the family are on a knife-edge as secrets are discovered by readers in this twisty book that show relationships are anything but straight-forward. Find the blurb and full review here: The Daughter-In-Law
In The Mood by M.W. Arnold is actually part of the Air Transport Auxiliary Mystery Club. This also, however a Rom-Fic. A marriage is breaking in 1944 through a harshness of words, but can it be saved? There is also the murky business of blackmail. This also shows how Rom-Fic can cross genres. Find my review here: In The Mood
Promise Me By Jill Mansell is a multigenerational book set in Foxwell, a place with lovely food and shops. It is also about Lou and the community of people she meets, including a curmudgeon octogenarian Edgar. He makes her a promise when she is working for him in what becomes an uplifting, heartwarming story. What is Edgar’s promise? There is also a single man in town. What will Lou make of him? You will also find out how all the different relationships develop. Find my full review and blurb here: The Promise
Love In Lockdown by Chloe James shows how rom-fic isn’t afraid of the hardest, darkest of the most recent times we have lived in. This covers the lockdowns at the height of Covid-19 lockdowns. It shows kindness and compassion. It is surprisingly uplifting as people connect through different technologies and even romance starts to bud. Find the blurb and review here: Love In Lockdown
Issac and the Egg is a surprising Must Read book. It has more to it than you’d ever think. I have a review on the Headline and Random Things Tours paperback blog tour.
THE INSTANT SATURDAY TIMES TOP 10 BESTSELLER* *A PANDORA SYKES/FANE BOOK CLUB PICK* *AS FEATURED ON BBC R4 OPEN BOOK*
Heartbreaking and heart-stealing, this modern-day fable is an unforgettable novel about sorrow, joy, friendship and love.
It is early. A young man stands on a bridge and lets out a heart-wrenching scream. From deep in the woods, something screams back.
It sounds improbable. But this is how Isaac meets the egg.
The two are unlikely companions. But their chance encounter will transform Isaac’s life in ways he cannot yet imagine.
Maybe he will finally understand why he went there that morning. Maybe he will find a way to tell the truth.
Sometimes, to get out of the woods, you have to go into them.
Immediately you’re introduced to Isaac Addy, which, for these days is quite refreshing. It starts in an unexpected breath-taking, jolt ensuing manner. The words, razor-sharp. Then he finds an egg and the tone softens, to a certain extent. How the author describes and paints what he wants you to see in the “mind’s eye” is amazing, like a close-up study with some broader strokes here and there to create the scene. Parts of the book (as in the odd page here and there), is almost pictorial, but in words, such some, creating an egg shape and one looks like a square of letters on first glance, but there are important words within this “word search” that pertain to the story and parts of grief, and there are other unconventional ways of writing. It’s all very clever and attention-grabbing!
As well as Isaac, there is Esther, Dr. Abbass and Mary, well, was Mary. The writing of grief is highly intense, as intense as the moments with the evolving egg, which takes quite an unexpected turn. The egg, which provides curiosity and a certain amount of grounding, in moments of despair to Isaac, although it does become an obsession, but at the same time, this “companionship” brings a different life-purpose as he feels it is something he needs to care for. It is life-affirming as people found about him still care about Isaac and there is hope in that help is sought for him with Dr. Abbass, which in-turn also lets you see his life before the total bludgeoning to his mental health.
Like something magical, the author astoundingly connects Isaac and his troubles, the egg and Mary into quite the compelling story. Yes, it is incredibly quirky, but this is actually one of those rare moments I am going say, this is an absolute Must Read! It has heart, warmth, sadness, humour, quirkiness and empathy throughout. Somehow, there is this amazing relationship between a human-being and an egg and the egg is not some add on part, it is integral to the story, yet fascinating and essential to Isaac’s life.
The Attic At Wilton Place is an eerily chilling thriller. Today, I am on the blog tour with a blurb and review, thanks to Hera Books and C.E. Rose.
The perfect life. The perfect home. But at what price? Introspective Ruth Parker is desperate for love and attention. Overlooked as a child by her cold and critical mother, her pain manifests in mloneliness and a crippling lack of self-esteem. When glamorous actress ‘Aunt’ Vanessa, her mother’s childhood friend, shows an interest in her, Ruth basks in the blinding light of her attention. Once Ruth escapes to university in London, Aunt Vanessa invites her to Wilton Place, her stunning Belgravia residence. As she blossoms under Vanessa’s guidance, Ruth finds herself torn between student life and the hypnotic, luxurious confines of Wilton Place. Belgravia wins out, but when Ruth explores the gloomy attic of her new home and finds a hidden, locked door, she discovers that Vanessa is hiding the darkest of secrets from her childhood, secrets that threaten everything Ruth knew about her own mother. How far will Ruth go to find the truth – and how much does she really want to know? A twisty, Gothic-inspired chiller that fans of Kate Morton, Louise Douglas and Kathleen McGurl will love.
Sometimes things from the outside can be too perfect. The house seems perfect, but behind the closed doors is a different story. There are deep, dark secrets.
Ruth Parker is in her teens and we see her embark on student life and we get to grips of her relationship of her Aunt Vanessa who is an actress, and her mother. Her own life is blossoming and full of so much potential, with her Aunt Vanessa taking her more under her wing, since her mother is cold and harsh and she had been suffering as a result of how she treated her daughter. You will for things to be well and for the blossom of Ruth’s youth to flourish, despite her mother, since she has so much guidance from her aunt, but things change. This is when it gets even deeper and darker, entering a more gothic style as she uncovers secrets in the attic. The book becomes even twistier and chilling, in a haunting type of way, as Ruth discovers not all is what it seems, making her life seem worse, not better, and she wants to dig more into what she begins to uncover. The suspense also heightens as you delve deeper into the characters lives and the home.
If you like a gothic style of book, full of suspense, dark secrets and family drama, I recommend this book.
Thanks to C.E. Rose and Hera Books for the book, in-exchange of an honest review
The Space Between Us by Doug Johnstone (author of the much-loved series – The Skelfs) featured recently on BBC Between The Covers, presented By Sara Cox and I am delighted to be part of the blog tour with the blurb and review, thanks to Orenda Books and Random T. Tours. Today, I have the pleasure of closing the blog tour with a review.
Lennox is a troubled teenager with no family.
Ava is eight months pregnant and fleeing her abusive husband.
Heather is a grieving mother and cancer sufferer. They don’t know each other, but when a meteor streaks over Edinburgh, all three suffer instant, catastrophic strokes …
…only to wake up the following day in hospital, miraculously recovered.
When news reaches them of an octopus-like creature washed up on the shore near where the meteor came to earth, Lennox senses that some extra-terrestrial force is at play.
With the help of Ava, Heather and a journalist, Ewan, he rescues the creature they call ‘Sandy’ and goes on the run.
But they aren’t the only ones with an interest in the alien … close behind are Ava’s husband, the police and a government unit who wants to capture the creature, at all costs. And Sandy’s arrival may have implications beyond anything anyone could imagine…
The Space Between Us is rather different from The Skelf’s series, where my reading of Doug Johnstone’s books began. This is a bit sci-fi, rather than crime, which The Skelfs is. I have to say though, for someone, like me, who only dips in and out of sci-fi, like me, this is a very good and compelling book. It is more than just sci-fi. It is more about what connects people and their lives.
The Space Between Us is set in Edinburgh and what links 3 people is that that they suffer some strange after effects after a meteor hits and an odd creature emerges. There is Lennox, a troubled teenager with no family. He is 16 and of mixed-race and is being brought up in a home. You find him around Portobello. Ava is in Longniddrey, is pregnant and trying to escape an abusive husband and Heather is grieving and has cancer. Strange streaks occur in the sky and everyone is affected and then the next day, it is as though the strokes they suffered from didn’t happen.
It is an intriguing tale that also has readers sweeping across Scotland, around and out of Edinburgh and the city centre’s surrounding areas. It also seems to be a premise of bringing “Sandy” the alien to earth and creating compassion to those who arrive in your country, wherever they come from seems to be one of the overarching messages. It becomes a story about community and an idea that there are perhaps bigger things than humans and bigger things that you’re living through right now. It seems that in the space between us is connections and that need for connections, however they are made and communicated, as well as place that is safe and to have a sense of belonging. Each character is seems to be desiring and needing this in what is a book full of different emotions. So, as much as it is sci-fi, there is also a human story running through it.
Having read The Space Between Us for review, thanks to Orenda Books and Random T. Tours who invited me to and provided a book, I was pleasantly surprised at how good this was, even though it is not my usual genre, more a genre I dip in and out of here and there. So, ultimately it is a book I recommend to both sci-fi fans and non-sci-fi fans alike.
About the Author
Doug Johnstone is the author of fourteen previous novels, most recently Black Hearts (2022). The Big Chill (2020) was longlisted for the Theakston Crime Novel of the Year and three of his books, A Dark Matter (2020), Breakers (2019) and The Jump (2015), have been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions over the last decade, and has been an arts journalist for over twenty years.
Doug is a songwriter and musician with six albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of writers. He’s also co-founder of the Scotland Writers Football Club, and has a PhD in nuclear physics.