The Girl I Used To Be – Blog Tour


How can you hide your mistakes when you don’t know what they are?

Gemma Brogan needs a break from her life.

A work event looks the ideal chance to get away. And a friendly new client seems like the perfect gentleman when he joins Gemma for an innocent dinner . . .

But the next morning she has no memory of how the night ended and he has vanished into thin air.

Suddenly, Gemma is plunged into a twisted nightmare she can’t control. To protect her future, and her family, she will have to confront shocking secrets from her past – and the truth about the girl she used to be.

Completely gripping and full of page-turning twists, this is the perfect psychological thriller for fans of Erin Kelly’s HE SAID SHE SAID and Laura Marshall’s FRIEND REQUEST.


I’m absolutely delighted to be closing the Blog Tour for Mary Torjussen’s new novel The Girl I Used To Be and I absolutely loved the twists and turns of this addictive and well-plotted new slice of Domestic Noir.

The Girl I Used To Be is a totally page-turning read that kept me gripped and glued to the page last week in rainy Aberfeldy.  Gemma is a memorable an sympathetic protagonist and we find ourselves gripped by the nightmarish situation that she ends up inextricably tangled up in. I was happy to be in from the rain, looking out at the gorgeous views from the warmth of our holiday home, totally caught up in this fast-paced and moreish read.

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One of the main reasons that I think we feel so strongly about Gemma’s situation is that she seems like the kind of person we actually might know. Despite the nightmarish situation she ends up in, we never feel like this is improbable or unbelievable. Gemma’s credibility helps make this such a pacy read as we really really want to know what happens to her and how her past decisions will ultimately affect her future. The fact that this is based in an estate agent’s will resonate with lots of true crime lovers as they’re bound to think about the Susie Lamplugh and it really does make you think about the most ordinary encounters we might have in quite a different light at times. Gemma’s client turns out to be a lot more sinister than she initially suspects and this is where the story really starts to get grippy.  Gemma’s inner voice tells us that things are not quite as they seem and I feel like this is a sound reminder to us that we should probably listen to that little niggle in real life as it might be the difference between life and death in some situations.Image result for susie lamplugh

I really enjoyed the way that Gemma was far from being a stereotypical female character, wondering about why men are so crappy or pining over her ex. Gemma has a career and is in a very modern marriage where her partner is the ‘Daddy Daycare’ in the marriage, looking after wee Rory whilst Gemma runs her very successful estate agents. The way that even the most normal of couples have secrets lurking beneath the surface of their marriage and might be very different people than their spouses suspect is a returning theme in domestic noir and I feel like it’s very well-handled here – we immerse ourselves in the facts that emerge and see things start to unravel before our very eyes in a wholly convincing way and I just could NOT put it down! So happy that I was somewhere so tranquil so that I could just keep turning those pages…

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The Girl I Used To Be is a must read for all fans of domestic noir who like to be pulled into a story and held there until the very last page.  I’d like to thank Anne Cater for inviting me onto the blog tour and introducing me to such a pageturner. I hadn’t read anything else by Mary Torjussen I can’t wait to explore her other books. Grab yourself a copy here and immerse yourself in Gemma’s nightmare collision of past and present for yourself!

I think that it looks gorgeous in my #OnTheShelfie and it’s put me in the mood for some True Crime so I’m off to explore the shelves and see what I can come up with.




Writer On The Shelf

Mary Torjussen grew up in Stoke-on-Trent. There was no television in her family home so books have always been her escape – she spent hours reading and writing stories as a child. Mary has an MA in Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University, and worked as a teacher in Liverpool before becoming a full-time writer. She has two adult children and lives on the Wirral, where her debut novel, GONE WITHOUT A TRACE, is set


Catch up with Mary on Twitter   


The Girl I Used to Be Cover


Sky’s the Limit – Q and A with Janie Millman


Sky is devastated when she finds that her husband is in love with someone else, even more that it is her oldest friend Nick. She has lost the two most important men in her life and can’t ever trust either of them again.

To escape, she goes alone on a dream trip to Marrakesh and meets Gail, on a mission to meet the father of her child, a man she loved but thought did not want her.

In Marrakesh, Sky and Gail both find unexpected joys – and surprises. For Sky these lead to France, to a beautiful chateau and a family whose relationships seem as complicated as her own. 


Today on the blog I’m absolutely delighted to return from my trip up north where we actually experienced some rain in what seemed like the first time in weeks and post a Q and A with the lovely Janie Millman.

We were staying in the gorgeous village of Comrie in Perthshire and it has been a great feeling to cosy up in our holiday home with a book and a huge cup of tea and hear the rain pattering down. Comrie is a long way from the more exotic destinations in Janie’s book and the contrast between the green fields outside my window and the heat and spices of a Moroccan evening was a fantastic combination. It certainly has me longing for my next holiday abroad and as Mr OnTheShelf has never been to Marrakech, it’s certainly got me thinking.

I loved escaping to the distant destinations of Sky’s the Limit and if you’re missing your holiday destination already, or packing for foreign climes then this is the perfect book to bring along with you. Treat yourself to a copy here

Thank you so much to Emily from Dome Press for inviting me on the Tour, I loved all of Janie’s replies and think we have a lot in common from our love of Scarlett O’Hara to our addiction to travelling. Thanks so much to Janie for her reflections on my questions and I am definitely looking forward to reading all about her next adventure, inspired by her trip to Crete and who knows, maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough to get to visit Chez Castillon for myself…

1. What is your first memory of a piece of writing that made you feel proud? How old were you and do you still have it?

When I was in my last year at primary school – I would have been about ten years old – we were asked to write a story that would then be turned into a small book. I can clearly recall the excitement I felt even though at that stage I had no aspirations to be a writer!

We had to design the cover ourselves and then the little book was bound up by our form mistress. I can’t remember what my book was called nor can I really remember exactly what it was about – I think it was about a family much like my own family but with a dog – I do remember the dog!
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I remember feeling incredibly proud as I was presented with my book. I know that the wonderment I felt then was replicated the other day when I held Sky’s the Limit for the first time and I imagine it will be the same with the next one. I hope so – I never want the magic to fade. I think everyone in Mrs Thomas’ class felt the same – it was an inspirational idea by an inspirational form mistress.

I have no idea if I still have it but I imagine it lurks somewhere in a box in my parents’ house because they throw nothing away! I’m not really sure I want to read it again – it may spoil the memories.

2. Your book, Sky’s the Limit, is set in two really gorgeous locations – where is your dream holiday destination and why?

This is a hard one to answer because basically, I want to go everywhere! I love Thailand and I loved India but the place I return to most is Greece. I have visited so many islands and I have loved every single one. I adore the culture, I adore the people, I adore the blue skies and the crystal water, I adore the food and I even adore the retsina!

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I studied Greek Literature at school and perhaps this is where my love of the country first started. One thing for sure is that it holds a fascination for me like no other place.

3. Sky goes through a massive journey in this book – literally as well as metaphorically. What part of the book did you enjoy writing the most and which parts did you find most challenging?

I guess the most challenging part was to make sure that Sky and Nick – and perhaps to a lesser degree, Miles – were sympathetically portrayed. I wanted to make sure that no one person was seen as the villain.

They are all victims of a very difficult situation, but it is through no fault of their own. They are all deserving of love and all deserving of a happy life. It just takes a while to get there!
To be honest I loved writing it all. I especially loved writing about Marrakech, it brought back so many fabulous memories and I loved bringing the reader to South West France – a place I now call home.

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I always love writing my characters; I enjoy discovering them, delving into them and finding out their hidden secrets and I love the fact that they constantly surprise me.

4. Which book – from any country – do you wish that you’d written and why?

Well really it has to be Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – such a hugely evocative book with the most superb characters. It is a book which stays with you forever and that is exactly the sort of thing I would love to achieve. It may not happen but one can dream…Image result for scarlett and rhett
I also love Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier for the same reasons and I love To Kill a Mocking Bird – but then again who doesn’t?

5. Your book is very atmospheric and really transports the reader to these gorgeous locations – where was it actually written and what was the inspiration for these locations?

Years ago, when I was fourteen, I visited Marrakech – it wove a spell around me and I promised myself I would go back. And I did! A few years ago, my husband and I spent a week in Marrakech staying in the very same Riad that features in Sky’s The Limit. That was when the idea was born – that was the real inspiration behind the book.

Sky’s the Limit was actually written in South West France because that is where I live. However just before I started writing it, I was diagnosed with cancer – so in fact a lot of it was written lying in bed in a Bordeaux Hospital or sitting in the salle d’attente waiting for my treatment!

6. Where do you write normally and do you have a regular writing routine?

I am lucky enough to have a library, so sometimes I write in there if is not in use – here at Chez Castillon , we run writing courses & retreats and so obviously the students have priority!Image result for chez castillon

I also write at our kitchen table, as I am doing now in fact, and sometimes I take my computer outside to a shady area of the garden overlooking the pool. I basically write whenever and wherever I can.

My alarm is set for 6.00 am and I like to get words down before the madness of the day begins. This doesn’t always happen of course but I do try!

7. What’s your next writing project and can you tell us a little bit about what to expect – will it have any parallels with Sky’s the Limit – for those of us that loved it and where will it be located?

My next book is set in Greece – we visited Crete last year on a research trip – oh okay, a holiday then – and we stayed in an old film directors’ house – we met some wonderful characters and I felt so inspired. Now I’m not going to say anymore – you’ll just have to wait and see!

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Open Your Eyes Blogtour

Haven’t we all wanted to pretend everything is fine?

Jane doesn’t like confrontation. Given the choice, she’d prefer to focus on what’s going well, the good things in life.

But when her husband, Leon, is brutally attacked in the driveway of their home, in front of their two young children, Jane has to face reality. As he lies in a coma, Jane must open her eyes to the problems in her life, and the secrets that have been kept from her, if she’s to find out who hurt her husband – and why.

Maybe it’s time to face up to it all. Who knows what you might find . . .


‘The UK’s answer to Liane Moriarty. Amazing.’ Claire McGowan

Thoroughly enjoyable – a big-hearted, empathetic novel about ordinary lives and the tremors that can rock them.’ Guardian

‘Kept me guessing right until the end. I devoured it.’ Claire Douglas

‘Deliciously dark and addictive. I defy anyone starts it not to race through the pages until they reach the final, brilliant twist.’ Colette McBeth

‘She writes with a singular voice and a fierce passion that roars off the page.’ Daily Mail

Open Your Eyes opens in a startling and traumatic way when we witness a brutal and relentless attack on Leon in his own driveway. The way that Paula Daly takes this attack and uses it to weave a clever, shocking and addictive read about the repercussions of violence and the secrets that can lurk just below the surface of everyday family life made for a page-turning summer read.

The fact that Jane is not just dealing with an attack but the domino effect this has on her peace of mind as events unravel made this very difficult to put down as we get caught up in the way that Jane’s mind is working and desperate to get to the heart of the mystery that we sense as we move closer to the ‘reveal’ Jane is a fantastic character and the fact that she and Leon are both writers is a brilliant touch. The fine line between truth and fictions and the characters that we invent for ourselves and others are intriguing themes and I loved the way that Paula Daly tantalises us with tiny glimpses of information throughout the novel so that we follow these breadcrumbs greedily throughout the novel.

In terms of a Domestic Noir read, this outclasses many of its competitors – the fact that Dark Water will be appearing on screen next year should show you that Paula Daly is really writing at the top of her game. If you love Liane Moriarty and haven’t read any of Paula’s books yet then you are definitely in for a treat. Get down to your nearest bookshop and order the lot – the setting, characterisation and level of suspense are fantastically sustained and you’ll end up like me with dark circles under your eyes the next day as I had to keep reading this until I was done.

I began Open Your Eyes on a flight home from an action-packed weekend in Ireland – and even though I was totally exhausted on my journey back, I continued reading it when I got home and didn’t close it until I turned the very last page.Image may contain: 6 people, including Jill Adams, people smiling, outdoor


I’d like to thank Anne Cater for inviting me on the blog tour and absolutely recommend that you get out there and buy it for yourself. This was hard to review with no spoilers because there are so many twists and turns, you’ll be dizzy. It’s a dark, immersive and dramatic read that I will be recommending to everyone…

Open Your Eyes is an absolutely fantastic Summer Read. What are you waiting for – Order a copy for yourself right here

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Writer On The Shelf

Paula Daly is the acclaimed author of five novels. Her work has been sold in fifteen countries, shortlisted for CWA Gold Dagger Crime Novel of the Year award, and her books are currently being developed into the ITV drama – Deep Water – set to air in 2019. She was born in Lancashire and lives in the Lake District with her husband, three children, and whippet Skippy.

Catch up with Paula on  Twitter

I also really enjoyed reading her Journey to Publication by Dead Good Books

Can’t wait to see Deep Water on TV next year!

Five Unforgivable Things. Blogtour

Almost thirty years ago, Kate’s dream came true. After years of struggling, she was finally pregnant following pioneering IVF. But the dream came at a cost. Neither Kate nor her husband Dan could have known the price they would have to pay to fulfil their cherished wish of having their own family. Now, years later, their daughter Natalie is getting married and is fulfilling her own dream of marrying her childhood sweetheart. Natalie knows she won’t be like most brides as she travels down the aisle in her wheelchair, but it’s the fact her father won’t be there to walk beside her that breaks her heart. Her siblings, Ollie, Beth and Jenny, gather around Natalie, but it isn’t just their father who is missing from their lives… as the secrets that have fractured the family rise to the surface, can they learn to forgive each other before it’s too late?

Five Unforgivable Things by [Brown, Vivien]

This was a moving and engrossing read about the journey to becoming a family – with all the twists and turns and ups and downs realised for you in a very humane way. You will enjoy reading about Dan and Kate’s journey – from the first time they met to their trials and tribulations on the rocky pathway to parenthood, Many readers will be ablevto identify with the situations they foind themselves in and be rooting for them as their story unfolds

The structure of the book a it mirrors the five Unforgivable Things was well done and allows the reader an inight into this family’s hjourney from several differnt perspectives. This gives us a 360 insight into the situations that arise and allow your sympathies and allegiances to subtly shift as the book unfolds. Whether you fel a stronger bond with Kate, Natalie, Jenny or Beth – you’ll certainly want to keep turning the pages to see what happens as you become engrossed in the fabric of their family life.

I love a novel with family secrets at the heart of it and I was intrigued to keep reading to see what was lurking beneath the surace of Kate’s family life. It is true that ew often don’t realise the consequences of our actions until years later – and this is definitely the case in Kate’s family history… I never give spoilers so I’m not even going to hint here about what is the ultimate cost of wanting a family so much that you’ll do anything to make it happen. You’ll just have to read it for yourself and find out.


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I feel that Viven Brown managed to balance the fictional world she created with the real life desperation so many people in this situation go through absolutely perfectly. This is a poignant read at times, made all the more affecting by the fact that her characters ring true and their situations feel like they are really unfolding to a family that you’ve come to know and care about as you are reading about their lives. If you love a good soap opera and can’t resist a family drama, you’ll find loads here that will draw you in and keep you engrossed until you’ve finished the very last paragraph. A great summer read that will keep you on the sunbed until you’ve finished the entire thing!

Buy yourself a copy here

Writer On The Shelf

Vivien Brown lives in west London with her husband and two cats. She worked for many years in banking and accountancy, and then, after the birth of twin daughters, made a career switch and started working with young children, originally as a childminder but later in libraries and children’s centres, promoting the joys of reading and sharing books through story-times and book-based activities and training sessions.

As Vivien Hampshire, she has written many short stories for the women’s magazine market and a range of professional articles and book reviews for the nursery and childcare press, in addition to a ‘how to’ book based on her love of solving cryptic crosswords. Now a full-time writer, working from home, Vivien is combining novel-writing and her continuing career in magazine short stories with her latest and most rewarding role as doting grandmother.

The Light Between Us – Blog Tour


Thea and Isaac first met at University. Theirs was an instant connection but it never went further than friendship.

Because, then and now, Thea only has eyes for her work. Not just her course, but also a private project – Thea is determined to prove that time travel is not just the stuff of science fiction. And she has never told anyone the reason why.

When one of their friends goes missing in an experiment, Isaac and Thea must work together to find her – forcing them to re-examine their own friendship.

Is it really as platonic as they used to think?

The Light Between Us is a story of unrequited love and second chances. It begs the dangerous question that we all ask ourselves – what could have been?


Katie Khan is a new writer for me and after reading this, I’m definitely going to seek out Hold Back the Stars. As a teacher, I love that Katie is blending Science with modern life and relationships and think it’s definitely something that a lot of my older students would really enjoy. Will be ordering both of them for the school library once we are back to school this month for sure!

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Thea is a fantastic character and a great role model for my students – to be so dedicated to such a big project and put such heart and soul into it is such a positive thing for young women to read about. There is definitely a lack of women in women’s fiction who are so passionate about STEM Subjects and because of this, I think it will attract a lot of love from the girls looking for someone in a story who’s like them and cares about the same kinds of things that they do. Rosy, Urvisha and Ayo are a fantastic #GirlGang for Thea and it’s great to read a novel with such convincingly depicted female friends – who talk about more than just boys!  Passing the Bechdel Test right there Katie 🙂


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Like Thea, I am fascinated by the idea of Time Travel and it’s something in fiction that I’m really drawn to – I love both The Outlander series and The Time Traveller’s Wife and think that it’s a very underrated genre. Thea’s passion and determination is vividly realised and you are so drawn into her story that you actually find yourself forgetting that this isn’t quite possible yet. I found that Thea’s determination to keep going with her theory when everyone around her is fairly dismissive of her theories a very convincingly depicted aspect of the novel and I’m sure lots of the readers will be able to relate to this in their own working life, even though most of us are not persisting with anything as revolutionary as time travel…

The relationship between Thea and Issac was also very well balanced. It was a relationship that a lot of us might have been in at one point in our lives so can really connect with. One of those relationships where like Dire Straights sings in Romeo & Juliet maybe ‘we were right, but the time was wrong’   I was really rooting for them throughout the novel to finally see each other in a different way and realise that despite her prickly nature and his seeming detachment that maybe the something that connected them together for so long was definitely more than friendship! If you want to know whether they ever actually do become a couple – no spoilers! – You’re just going to have to read it for yourself…

This is a fascinating read that is well paced and really makes Thea’s world spring to life right off the page.  It’s a little bit of a different read from my other books this summer and I found it a real palate-cleanser. It was a refreshing take on the coming-of-age novel with real insight into how friendships evolve and what it takes to make your dreams come true, no matter how many people tell you to give up along the way. Massive kudos to Katie for being brave enough to go somewhere a little bit different in her fiction – whilst still remaining accessible enough for non-scientific folks( like me!) to still really enjoy her writing.

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Massive thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the blog tour and for my copy of this fantastic book.  If you like something that will make you smile, make you think and carry you off into a different world then this might be your next favourite Summer Read.  I read it in a gorgeous loft near St Andrews in Fife and my sister has now pinched it as I talked about it so much 🙂


Writer On The Shelf

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Katie Khan has spent 10 years working in online editorial in the film industry,
including 4 years as Head of Digital at Paramount Pictures. She joined Warner Bros. in 2017 to work on a major film production. Her first book, Hold Back the Stars, is being adapted into a film by the producers of Stranger Things.
She is a graduate of the acclaimed Faber Academy writing course.

Katie lives in London with her boyfriend and rescue cat Artie.

Summer Reads 2018 – Part Three

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It’s been the perfect weather for reading in the garden and I’ve managed to spend these last few months whittling my list down so that I could recommend a great summer read, for my  Summer 17 Degrees Column.

In this final post of three, I’m reviewing six books that I selected from my non-fiction pile. I know plenty of people who love reading about real life on their holidays and hopefully there’s something here for you to enjoy.




Gin Made Me Do It

Jassy Davies & Ruby Taylor

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This is the only book you’ll need this summer for the hen night, birthday party or legendary barbecue that’ll have everyone talking about your fabulous cocktails for months to come. This gorgeous book would make the perfect gift, but once you’ve mixed yourself a few of its killer cocktails, you won’t want to be parted from it, I can assure you. It has a whole range of delicious summer cocktails – from a classic Bramble to some Sloe gin stunners. You’ll be bowled over by the range of botanical treats on offer here and there is genuinely something for everyone inside its beautifully illustrated pages. Whether you need to develop your palate or refine your garnishes, you’ll love experimenting with this guide to the hottest drink of the summer. By a few pages in, I was definitely reaching for the tonic to pour myself a sample. Mine’s an Aviation, if you’re asking. Cheers!

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I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

Michelle McNamara


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A masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer – the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorised California for over a decade – from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case. If you haven’t heard of this book, where have you been over the last few months? Little did I know when I picked it up, that the cold case it describes would be solved through groundbreaking DNA evidence whilst I was reading it. 12 murders, 51 rapes and over 120 burglaries is a trail of horror that’s difficult to fathom, yet this book effortlessly draws the evidence together and presents you with the key facts that puzzled cops for decades. I read this entire book in a single sitting and can’t recommend it enough; it’s just so sad that Michelle didn’t live to see him convicted. Treat yourself to this gripping read – you won’t regret it.


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First Man In – Leading From the Front

Ant Middleton

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Leaders are made, not born. By gritting his teeth and getting on with life’s many challenges, Ant Middleton has developed an understanding of what makes true leadership. First Man In describes these vital lessons to make us see that we can all aim to be that bit braver in our everyday lives. After 13 years in the military, 4 of them as a Special Boat Service (SBS) sniper, Ant Middleton himself is a walking advertisement for pushing yourself out with your comfort zone. In this fascinating book, Ant speaks about the highs and lows of his life – from dazzling military accolades to dealing with the early death of his father and ending up in prison – and draws valuable lessons that we can all use in our daily lives. You’ll be gripped by his bulletproof advice when you’re away and might be inspired to put some of his ideas into practice when you get home from your holidays. What a read.


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Rex v Edith Thompson

Laura Thompson


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On the night of 3 October 1922, Edith Thompson and her husband Percy were walking home from the theatre when a man sprang out of the darkness and stabbed Percy to death. That murderer was Frederick Bywaters, Edith’s secret lover. This is a case that is still hailed as one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in British criminal history and you will definitely be shocked at how little it took to convict her. Edith’s intense love letters, considered obscene at the time, were read out at their trial in the Old Bailey and sadly they would seal her fate. Laura Thompson’s research is meticulous; she really transports you back into Edith’s world where her taste for romance and melodrama has fatal consequences. This is my book of the year so far and I’m recommending it to everyone. It’s more gripping than any fictional crime story I’ve ever read and totally unmissable. Read it now!


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Why Mummy Drinks

Gill Sims

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Mummy Drinks is by Gill Sims, author of the online sensation Peter and Jane which you’ll definitely have seen popping up in your Facebook feed over the last year or so. At 39, Mummy isn’t keen to surrender to a world of advanced yoga classes, and polite book clubs where everyone claims to be tiddly and says things like ‘Ooh gosh, are you having another glass?’ She’s not a fan of becoming one of those women who ‘live for their children’ and stand in the playground trying to outdo each other with their offspring’s extracurricular activities and achievements. If you’re not afraid of a few swears and a distinctly ‘un-mumsy’ view of the world you’ll find plenty to connect with as you read this on your sunlounger. That’s if your awful offspring give you a second’s peace, of course. With lots of laughs and a few home truths, this is set to be a massive summer hit.


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The Vanity Fair Diaries

Tina Brown


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It’s 1983. A young Englishwoman arrives in Manhattan. Summoned across the Atlantic to save Condé Nast’s famous Vanity Fair, Tina Brown is plunged into the world of the competitive New York media. She survives on her sharp wits and her ability to make the magazine her own. If you love a hefty slice of celebrity gossip, you’ll love this sensational account of life in the Big Apple during some of the most turbulent events in the 80s. In her writing about Michael Jackson, Princess Diana and Donald Trump, Brown records her private thoughts, rather than the version that went to print. Tina Brown’s writing is sharp, biting and provocative and it’s maybe just as well that many of the people we get to hear her true feelings about are no longer with us. This book will make you feel like you’re at the best, gossipy lunch you’ve ever had. Enjoy!


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I have loved finding a bumper set of 18 recommendations for you this Summer.  I try to include a range of genres and writers so that there’s something for everyone – you might find new writers to enjoy as well as old favourites here.

If you’ve enjoyed this selection, you can check out my Twitter feed  @OnTheShelfBooks to see me chatting about lots of other great reads. Have a fantastic summer and if you’ve loved any of these books, drop me a tweet.


Summer Reads 2018 – Part Two

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It’s been the perfect weather for reading in the garden and I’ve managed to spend these last few months whittling my list down so that I could recommend a great summer read, for my  Summer 17 Degrees Column.

In this second post of three, I’m reviewing six books  in a category I’ve called Drama & Darkness – there’s genuinely something here for everyone no matter what kind of thrills and chills you enjoy on your Summer hols…



The President Is Missing
Bill Clinton &  James Patterson


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And now for something completely different. This is sure to be a runaway bestseller this summer-  a tale about a missing president told by… former POTUS, Bill Clinton in a unique collaboration with bestselling writer James Patterson. This exciting and innovative book combines the best of both worlds: its an insider’s story of exactly how the White House works, coupled with the narrative power of a writer at the top of his game. This gripping novel describes a terrifying three days in the corridors of power. Amid an international crisis, the President vanishes into thin air whilst his enemies are planning an attack of unprecedented scale on America. Uncertainty and fear grip Washington. There are whispers of cyberterror and espionage and a traitor in the cabinet. The President himself is even called into question as this fast-paced and gripping thriller thunders to a nail-biting conclusion. This unmissable collaboration is going to be a summer sizzler.

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Jade Sharma

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If you enjoy a book that breaks the mould, then you’re going to love Problems by Jade Sharma. Probably not one for sharing with your easily-shocked friends, but if you’re looking for a dark, provocative and edgy summer read then you’re going to love Maya and her no-holds-barred revelations. Just like Irvine Welsh in the 90’s, Sharma’s novel is in turns both hilarious and harrowing. Maya is having an affair with her married lecturer, is struggling with an eating disorder and her overdue dissertation and is hooked on heroin. Maya is a bit like Marmite: you’ll certainly have a strong response to her as she confronts you on the page with her caustic one-liners. Sharma is a performance poet and her lyrical and sharp turn of phrase is strikingly original and extremely clever.  If you want your fiction to challenge you and your narrator to shock, then you’re going to love Problems. Stash it in your beach bag and enjoy.


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Fault Lines
Doug Johnstone

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You know that I always like to include a Scottish read in my column and this one is a cracker. Doug Johnstone has created an alternative Firth of Forth – with a volcanic island right in the middle of it. Surtsey is planning an assignation with her married lover Tom on the River Forth’s volcanic island The Inch when she discovers his dead body. Fearful of their affair coming to light, she decides to say nothing about her dreadful discovery – but it’s all too late. Someone knows exactly what’s been going on. This novel hurtles on at a cracking pace as we start to see the cracks appear in her life. You’ll be gripped by Johnstone’s twists and turns as you try and work out what exactly Surtsey has got herself caught up in and how it will all end. A thrilling and intelligent summer read that you won’t be able to put down.


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Steve Cavanagh



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The killer is on the jury. The question is why? If you love a courtroom drama, then you’re going to absolutely love Th1rt3en which takes the entire genre and turns it on its head in an unforgettable way. Normally in a courtroom novel, the bad guy is right there in the dock but this novel is something very different. In Th1rt3en, Joshua Kane has been rumbled. Someone knows that the real killer isn’t the man on trial and time is ticking by all too fast whilst Kane hopes for a quick conviction so that he can escape scot-free. This is a rollercoaster of a ride.  Make sure you apply plenty of sunscreen before you start as once you begin, you won’t want to tear yourself away. I love Steve Cavanagh’s writing and if you’ve not discovered him yet, you’re in for a treat. A sharp, clever and twisty tale that I couldn’t put down.


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The Outsider

Stephen King

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When an eleven-year-old is found murdered in a local park, reliable eyewitnesses accuse the town’s popular sports coach, Terry Maitland.  Shockingly, DNA evidence confirms that the crime was committed by well-respected coach  Maitland. Horrified by the brutality of this killing, Detective Ralph Anderson, whose own son was on Maitland’s team, orders his arrest in a very public spectacle. But there is a problem: Maitland has a cast-iron alibi. And their investigation confirms that he was definitely out of town. As the full horror begins to emerge, King’s gripping tale of unbearable suspense winds tighter and tighter, holding you in its grip until its nail-biting conclusion. A man cannot be in two places at the same time. Or can he? This is another five star read from Stephen King; I guarantee you won’t be able to look up until you’ve finished it.


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Something in the Water

Catherine Steadman

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Erin is a successful filmmaker and fiance Mark is a handsome and successful investment banker. At the start of this novel, this golden couple seem to have it all until Mark loses his job. They go ahead with planning their dream honeymoon to Bora Bora and that’s where things begin to get sinister. Their scuba diving trip uncovers something in the water which they decide to keep under wraps. After all, if nobody knows about their discovery, there can’t be any consequences – or can they? Their silence sets in motion a terrifying chain of events where you’ll be on the edge of your seat, waiting to see if your darkest suspicions were correct. I’d love to see this one on the big screen: I’ve already cast the main characters so you’d better read it fast before it gets snapped up. This is a breathlessly tense beach read that you’ll be recommending to everyone.


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