Monday, 27 February 2017

Book Review: The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

The Blurb


Mrs Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands.

And as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined…

My Review

My thanks go to Netgalley and the publisher for my copy of this book.

If you haven't read The Trouble with Goats and Sheep yet, then go get your copy right now and put at the top of your To Be Read pile!

I'm a little late to the game as this was published last year. It was a title I kept seeing everywhere, and I finally decided to discover what this curiously monikered story was about.

And it is such a delightful read. Set in the hot summer of 1976, being a child of the 70s myself, I found it to be full of nostalgia. From reminders of the old Nationwide programme to Kays Catalogues, it's a beautiful portrait of suburban life in the 1970s. 

There are many fascinating characters depicted, but my favourite are the main characters, 10 year old Grace and her friend Tilly. Grace narrates much of the book, but some chapters are told in the third person POV by some of the adults in the story, to reveal more of the secrets a 10 year old girl would be unable to comprehend. It's a brilliant study of attitudes back then too; the general mistrust of anyone who appears a little different; and the uncomfortable embarrassment when an Indian family move into the street.

I loved the way Grace idolised the older girl Lisa, and tried to emulate her style. I think we all had that one person we looked up to and tried to be.

Grace decides she and Tilly are going to solve the mystery of the disappearance of one of their neighbours, Mrs Creasey. But first they have to find God, and they are having trouble locating him. 

There's not much more I can say apart from go and read it!

You can buy The Trouble with Goats and Sheep from Amazon, Waterstones and other retailers.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Blog Tour: Girl 99 by Andy Jones

I first read Girl 99 back in 2014, when I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Andy Jones at a blogger event, just before his book The Two of Us was published. Then Andy has had another book published, The Trouble with Henry & Zoe, and they are both brilliant. Not that the original Girl 99 wasn't brilliant - it was - but since the success of the last two books, Andy has updated it and it is even more brilliant and funny.
Here's a little excerpt from this fabulous re-release:

I spot my turning too late and hit the brakes too hard.
  ‘Bollocks!’ Ben says, spilling a handful of CDs onto the floor between his feet.
  I reverse back to the turning and set off down a double-parked residential street. ‘You all right?’
  ‘Fine,’ says Ben, holding up a shattered CD case. ‘But I think I’ve killed Elton John.’
  Maybe I’m a little wired on adrenalin, but I laugh harder than the quip warrants.
  ‘Never liked him either,’ Ben says, picking up the debris and stuffing it back into the glovebox. ‘I’ll never get all this shit back in here.’
  ‘Leave it,’ I say. ‘We’ll sort it out later.’
 ‘Just need to make some space.’ Ben starts removing various items. ‘Torn map, hairbrush, plastic bag, pen, two pens, two batteries, what the hell is . . .?’
  In the corner of my vision Ben holds up something that might be a handkerchief. With a lace trim.
  Ben glances at me furtively and bundles the glovebox junk into the plastic bag.
  ‘What was that?’ I say, jerking my thumb at the bag.
  ‘What you just put in the bag.’
  ‘Just . . . you know, shit.’
  ‘That last thing,’ I say.
  Ben rummages in the bag and removes a battery. ‘Battery,’ he says with contrived offhandedness.
  ‘After that.’
  ‘Pen,’ Ben says, producing a capless red biro.
  ‘It looked like a . . . a rag?’
  ‘Yeah,’ says Ben. ‘A rag.’
  ‘Show me.’
  ‘The fucking knickers, Ben.’
   Ben smiles apologetically and hands over the plastic bag.
  I remove a pair of silk, rose-petal pink, La Perla pants. The thigh holes are bordered with butterflies trapped in inch-wide lace; the front panel is a delicate mesh, fine enough to show a shadow of pubic hair; at the back, below the waistband, is a small slit closed off with a knotted bow. Exactly like the pair I bought for £120 on Valentine’s Day last year. Presumably Sadie still has the matching bra.
Woah! Now doesn't that make you desperate to read on? Well you can - it's evah-so-easy - just click HERE and BUY IT! Girl 99 will be published on Valentine's Day by Lake Union as an eBook, paperback and audiobook.

About the Author
Andy Jones lives in London with his wife and two little girls. During the day he works in an advertising agency; at weekends and horribly early in the mornings, he writes fiction.

He is the bestselling author of three novels: The Two of Us, The Trouble With Henry and Zoe, and the soon-to-be-rereleased Girl 99. Additionally he has written a collection of short stories and two picture books for younger readers. His books have been translated into twelve languages.

Andy has not written any books about American presidents, farts, burps or risk management. Those were written by a bunch of other Andy Joneses. (It's a popular name.)
In case of doubt: if it's not on his Author Page, he didn't write it.

Follow Andy on Twitter and Facebook:

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Book Review & GIVEAWAY! A Song for Tomorrow by Alice Peterson

The Blurb
Tom fell in love with Alice the moment he saw her. He realises that being with her will not be easy, but she is a force of nature, a burst of sunlight in his otherwise ordinary world. 

Some people might look at Alice and think she has everything, but Alice knows she is not like other women. Her life is complicated, unpredictable, difficult. Alice does not like pity. All she wants to do, has ever wanted to do, is sing.

Alice has been told not to follow her dreams. So has Tom. But when fate has already dealt a tough hand, it’s time to stop listening to everyone else and only follow their hearts.

My Review
Thank you so, so much to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for an advanced reading copy of this inspirational, amazing book.

A Song for Tomorrow is an incredible story based on an incredible young woman, Alice Martineau, who wants to be a singer. 

She is beautiful, kind, has a fabulous voice, but there's just one thing in her way. She has cystic fibrosis. But Alice is an unstoppable force...

The story is told from three POVs; mostly Alice, but the occasional chapter from Tom, who falls in love with her at first sight in the opening of the book, and also Alice's mother, Mary, via her diary entries. I found these diary entries heart-rending; as a parent we can feel so helpless in protecting our children, so proud of them, and so very frightened for them.

Alice won't let herself be defined by her disease; she hates it when anyone calls her brave or pities her, but she bites her tongue and is patient with them, even when one vacuous girl envies her for being 'so skinny'. She is haunted by the words of school tormentor Daisy, 'She'll be dead soon!' and teacher Miss Ward 'You will never be a singer', and this drives her on to fulfil her dream.

Alice is supported by her wonderful family, doctor and friends, including the fabulous anti-support group. She convinces music mogul Peter Harris to help her, but will her determination to ignore her condition get in the way of her dream?

Seriously, you have to read this inspirational book. I'm desperate to get my girls to read it; to show them there is so much to live for. Life is precious, it's a gift. Don't throw it away.

You can buy A Song For Tomorrow from Amazon or Waterstones or other retailers....


I'm giving away one beautiful brand spanking new copy of this amazing book! To be in with a chance of winning, follow @alicepeterson1 and me @Vikbat on Twitter AND follow and leave a comment (a nice one!) on this blog (it'll be worth it, I promise!). Entries close at midnight on Friday 17th February 2017.

About the Author 
'I have published two non-fiction books, and eight novels, including the bestselling title, Monday to Friday Man. My latest novel, A Song for Tomorrow, published by Simon & Schuster, will be released in paperback 9th February 2017.

My writing is funny, romantic, powerful and emotional. At the heart of each novel is a love story but I always will include hard-hitting and thought-provoking themes within my storylines – such as addiction and disability. My protagonists often have to overcome adversity, based on my own experience of a professional tennis career cut short at the age of 18 when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I have never played tennis again, a sadness that will always be with me, but I have very much filled that void with writing. I am drawn to true stories and aim to write with deep compassion, empathy and humour about issues that resonate with my growing readership and that I believe have the potential of reaching and touching millions more.

I live in West London with my handsome Lucas Terrier, Mr Darcy.'

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Blog Tour: Dare to Remember by Susanna Beard

I'm delighted to be on the Blog Tour for Susanna Beard's new novel, published on 1st February by Legend Press.

The Blurb

Reeling from a brutal attack that leaves her best friend dead and her badly injured, Lisa Fulbrook flees to the countryside to recuperate. With only vague memories of the event, she isolates herself from her friends and family, content to spend her days wandering the hills with her dog, Riley.However, Lisa is soon plagued, not only by vivid flashbacks, but questions, too: how did their assailant know them? Why were they attacked? And what really happened that night?
As she desperately tries to piece together the memories, Lisa realises that there's another truth still hidden to her, a truth she can't escape from. A truth that may have been right in front of her all along.
My Review

Thank you to the publisher Legend Press for the advanced reading copy. This review is my honest opinion.

This is the story of the aftermath of a brutal attack which has left one woman dead, and her best friend struggling with all kinds of emotions, not least guilt that she survived, and the senseless loss of her friend.

The fear which constantly plagues Lisa's life is very real. She cannot remember more than flashes of what happened, and each fragment of memory serves to cripple her again; she struggles with day-to-day tasks; she trusts no one. She shuts herself off from the world, but soon comes to realise that to get over it, she has to remember exactly what happened.

Lisa has counselling; she doesn't find it particularly helpful as it is a major undertaking for her to even attend a session. The author has described feelings of anxiety, raw pain and overwhelming depression perfectly. I found myself immersed in this book; I could really empathise with the character's struggle in recovery.

Lisa reluctantly makes a tentative friend in Jessica, and shows great strength in supporting her when she needs help, even though she is terrified. John, the elderly neighbour keeps Lisa from becoming a total recluse; as she feels a responsibility to look after this lonely old man. The friendship becomes a vital part of the story as she takes on his dog, Riley, who is an integral part of Lisa's recovery.

Dare to Remember is an amazing read which had me gripped from the very start.

You can buy the book from Amazon, Waterstones and other booksellers.

About the Author

Susanna is a psychological crime writer who lives in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. Her day job in PR both demands and celebrates writing and she’s helped promote everything from websites to wine. She writes every day, all the time: news, articles, speeches, websites, blogs - and now novels.

She likes dark, contemplative stories with a twist; she’s fascinated by the psychology of relationships and the impact of insignificant events on people's lives. 

Susanna started writing fiction after attending a course at the Faber Academy. Other passions include her dogs, who keep her grounded, and tennis, which clears her brain of pretty much everything.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Book Review: Watch Me by Angela Clarke

The Blurb

The body of a 15-year-old is found hours after she sends a desperate message to her friends. It looks like suicide, until a second girl disappears.

This time, the message is sent directly to the Metropolitan Police – and an officer’s younger sister is missing.

DS Nasreen Cudmore and journalist Freddie Venton will stop at nothing to find her. But whoever’s behind the notes is playing a deadly game of hide and seek – and the clock is ticking.


My Review

Wow - I finished reading this last night and was left breathless. The book felt like an episode of  '24' - tense, dramatic, nail-biting, complete with each chapter counting down to the deadline for saving the sister of a colleague.

Gone is the brash, prickly Freddie Venton of Clarke's first book in the series, Follow Me. Freddie has been reduced to a nervous wreck by the villain, who is now locked up. He has left physical and mental scars on poor Freddie, who has been unable to cope and is living back with her parents. She suffers from panic attacks and anxiety, and the last thing she needs is old friend Nasreen turning up on her doorstep begging for help.

But of course Freddie agrees to help - after all, the case is similar to last time, and Freddie feels partly responsible. 

Nasreen has moved up in the world; she's on a new team, but still has to fight the prejudice of one of her colleagues. The usually by-the-book Nas finds herself discovering an inner strength and resourcefulness, going against the rules to get the job done. After all, she is guilty too. 

Social Media is again the star - or culprit - of this series; showing just how it can influence and damage our lives. The media used this time is Snap Chat; various Snaps are sent to Nas and her team, showing them videos of the poor abducted girl. (I'm guessing for the kidnapper to put a panting doggy filter over the poor victim would have been a bit too sick and twisted here).

The writing is taut, the dialogue natural and the humour as sharp as a blade, and again Angela Clarke has written a story that should strike fear into the hearts of the self-obsessed frenzied society of today.

You don't need to have read Follow Me to read this, but I highly recommend you do because it is a cracking series.

You can buy Watch Me, and it's predecessor Follow Me, from Amazon, Waterstones and other retailers.

About the Author
Angela is an author, playwright, columnist and professional speaker.

Her debut crime thriller Follow Me (Avon, HarperCollins) was named Amazon’s Rising Star Debut of the Month January 2016, long listed for the Crime Writer’s Association Dagger in the Library 2016, and short listed for the Good Reader Page Turner Award 2016. Follow Me has now been optioned by a TV production company. 

The second instalment in the Social Media Murder Series Watch Me (Avon, HarperCollins) is out January 2017. And the third Trust Me (Avon, HarperCollins) is out June 2017. 

Angela’s humorous memoir Confessions of a Fashionista (Ebury, Penguin Random House) is an Amazon Fashion Chart bestseller. 

Her play, The Legacy, enjoyed its first run at The Hope Theatre in June 2015. 

An experienced and entertaining speaker, Angela has given talks, hosted events, and masterclasses for many, including Noirwich Crime Writing Festival, Camp Bestival, Panic! (in partnership with Create, the Barbican, Goldsmiths University and The Guardian), Meet a Mentor (in partnership with the Royal Society of Arts), Northwich Lit Fest, St Albans Lit Fest, BeaconLit, and the London College of Fashion. She also hosted the current affairs radio show Outspoken on Radio Verulam in 2015, and has appeared regularly as a panel guest on BBC 3 Counties, BBC Radio 4, and the BBC World Service, among others.

In 2015 Angela was awarded the Young Stationers' Prize for achievement and promise in writing and publishing. She also works for The Literary Consultancy critiquing manuscripts and mentoring. Angela, a sufferer of the debilitating chronic condition Ehlers Danlos III, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, volunteers with Womentoring, Meet a Mentor and at HM Prisons. She is passionate about bringing marginalised voices into the industry. You can find out more about her at

Find out more at: and Follow Her (see what I did there?) on Twitter @theangelaclarke