The Storyteller of Casablanca

In this evocative tale from the bestselling author of The Dressmaker’s Gift, a strange new city offers a young girl hope. Can it also offer a lost soul a second chance?

Morocco, 1941. With France having fallen to Nazi occupation, twelve-year-old Josie has fled with her family to Casablanca, where they await safe passage to America. Life here is as intense as the sun, every sight, smell and sound overwhelming to the senses in a city filled with extraordinary characters. It’s a world away from the trouble back home—and Josie loves it.

Seventy years later, another new arrival in the intoxicating port city, Zoe, is struggling—with her marriage, her baby daughter and her new life as an expat in an unfamiliar place. But when she discovers a small wooden box and a diary from the 1940s beneath the floorboards of her daughter’s bedroom, Zoe enters the inner world of young Josie, who once looked out on the same view of the Atlantic Ocean, but who knew a very different Casablanca.

It’s not long before Zoe begins to see her adopted city through Josie’s eyes. But can a new perspective help her turn tragedy into hope, and find the comfort she needs to heal her broken heart?

It’ll be no news to anyyone who follows the blog, but I’m getting so much pleasure from time travelling through the books that I’m choosing of late. I can’t stop reaching for historical fiction, and this is one of the best books I’ve read in this genre this year. I was absolutely intrigued by the premise of this book as one of my best ever holidays was to Morocco and I loved hearing about its fascinating history across these pages This book is a real tapestry of past and present, taking these characters and moments from history and bringing them to life before our eyes whilst justaposing them with a more 20th century narrative. I was delighted to be invited on the tour and found myself absolutely intrigued by this fasciniating insight into Josie and Zoe’s lives and found myself caught up in their stories as I enjoyed this tale over the last weekend.

This book definitely did not disappoint, it let me feel absolutely part of Josie’s story where we become wholly wrapped up in the life of this unforgettable and resilient character. Life is difficult enough for people leaving their own country now – you can only imagine how much more difficult things were then. We get to hear about events from Josie’s own perspective as she awaits safe passage to America in Casablanca. I found this period and setting so fasinating and this really added to the enjoyment of the story for me. It’s a book that you’ll find hard to believe it’s fiction as you’ll become so caught up in Josie’s story and you’ll feel real empathy with her as she navigates through these extremely uncertain times

I absolutely loved the unique atmosphere of this novel and definitely found it quite addictive. It was intriguing to imagine a world in which your choices and next direction are far more constrained than women nowadays and knowing that your choices are far more restricted than they would be nowadays. The contrast of Josie’s tale with Zoe’s more contemporary expat struggles was really fascinating and I enjoyed travelling between their stories and gaining an insight into two very different Casablancas.

This novel presents this period of history in a fresh original way which makes the story stay with us and make us feel connected to Josie even when we aren’t reading it. She feels very much like a real person, despite the distance of time between us and you feel really caught up in the twists and turns of her story. This is a really enjoyable novel which I know many of my reading buddies would enjoy – I’d love to see it on the silver screen and see Josie’s life unfold in such a beautiful setting

brown and purple wooden door

Fiona Valpy is a talented and original writer – and I really enjoyed vicariously travelling to Casablanca whilst reading the book. You will be fascinated to uncover all that Josie went through and shocked that you didn’t know more about this fascinating time in Morocco’s rich and turbulent history. Your relationship with the characters builds and builds as you experience the challenges and constraints of their individual circumstances and everything that they have had to go through. I definitely enjoyed the contrast betwen the two time periods and it kept me turning the pages – although I’d have to say that my favourite was definitely Josie’s story.

This is a book that I know I’ll be recommending to lots of readers as I was totally immersed in its characters, its gorgeous setting and the way it really allowed me to connect with its characters. I can’t wait to see what Fiona Valpy does next as I really enjoyed The Dressmaker’s Gift too. The idea that life for people in the past can be a lot darker than you might have learned in your history books is a fascinating one, and I think that this would make an excellent Book Group read as it would be sure to provoke lots and lots of discussion and comment about Morocco’s interesting history that most people don’t know very much about…

Treat yourself to a copy and discover this beautifully evoked and fascinating story for yourself. The delicious treats that we were sent truly evoked the spirit of the setting and was as beautiful as the stories between the pages – Thank you so much FMcM!

“A novel that will whisk you to another time and place, The Storyteller of Casablanca is a tender tale of hope, resilience, and new beginnings.” —Imogen Clark, bestselling author of Postcards From a Stranger

“Fiona Valpy has an exquisite talent for creating characters so rounded and delightful that they almost feel like family, and this makes what happens to them feel very personal.” —Louise Douglas, bestselling author of The House by the Sea

Writer On The Shelf

Fiona Valpy

Fiona spent seven years living in France, having moved there from the UK in 2007, before returning to live in Scotland. Her love for both of these countries, their people and their histories, has found its way into the books she’s written.

She draws inspiration from the stories of strong women, especially during the years of the Second Word War, and her meticulous historical research enriches her writing with an evocative sense of time and place.

An acclaimed Number 1 bestselling author, Fiona Valpy’s books have been translated into more than a dozen languages worldwide.

Black Reed Bay Blog Tour

When a young woman vanishes from an exclusive oceanfront community in the middle of the night, Detective Casey Wray’s takes on a case that leads her in chilling, unexpected directions … A twisty, breath-taking police procedural. First in a heart-pounding new series.

‘Urgent, thrilling and richly imagined. Without doubt his best yet’ Chris Whitaker, author of We Begin at the End

‘Reynolds captures the claustrophobic feel of a small town  … a tense slice of American noir’ Vaseem Khan, author of Midnight at Malabar House

‘If you were hooked on Mare of Easttown, this will be right up your street … I read this obsessively’ Nina Pottell, Prima

‘Rod Reynolds makes the most of this desolate, windswept location … a thrillingly complex narrative develops at speed … his superior cop saga is just the first instalment of a projected series’ The Times

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Don’t trust ANYONE…

When a young woman makes a distressing middle-of-the-night call to 911, apparently running for her life in a quiet, exclusive beachside neighbourhood, miles from her home, everything suggests a domestic incident.

Except no one has seen her since, and something doesn’t sit right with the officers at Hampstead County PD. With multiple suspects and witnesses throwing up startling inconsistencies, and interference from the top threatening the integrity of the investigation, lead detective Casey Wray is thrust into an increasingly puzzling case that looks like it’s going to have only one ending…

And then the first body appears…

For fans of Susie Steiner, Peter Swanson, M J Arlidge, James Lee Burke and Tana French

I haven’t been as excited to write a blogpost for a very long time and my only worry is that I won’t be able to accurately convey just how much I loved this book in words. When you read a lot, it’s hard to pick your favourites as there are so many books clamouring for your atttention. Once I’d read the blurb of Black Reed Bay, I knew that I couldn’t resist reading it straight away – and even though my TBR is looking very tempting right now, this book skipped its way to the top of the pile and I have absolutely zero regrets about that…

noir, crime, murder, American noir, lee child, Harlen Coben, police procedural, series, Vaseem khan

Although I was totally absorbed in the story in Black Reed Bay, it is undoubtedly the characterisation in Rod Reynolds’ writing that makes it such a treat to read.  Casey Wray jumps off the page as a fully-realised human being that I 100% believed in from the get-go amd I could not put this book down as I got entirely caught up in this tale that pulled me right into the investigation and didn’t let me go.

close up photo of black water at daytime

Casey is one of those rare characters that you instantly connect with, despite her life experiences being almost diametrically opposed to my own as an English teacher in a sleepy Scottish village. The setting of this beachside location was so well drawn that I could wholly imagine myself there and it definitely felt like a slice of true crime that I ws reading rather than a fictional rendition. It’s definitely one of those books that you feel like googling the events of it to see the news story behind it and I’d be intrigued to read more about the inspiration behind these cases…

noir, crime, murder, American noir, lee child, Harlen Coben, police procedural, series, Vaseem khan

Casey is definitely another fantastically strong Orenda heroine that you willl be rooting for as you read. I think that it’s a testament to the strength of the writing that we are rooting for her throughout the novel as we see all of the potential within her. Her relationship with the characters around her are convincingly and vividly depicted and you will absolutely believe in her relationship with Dave Cullen as they make a formidable pair. I love the fact that she’s an outsider and her perspective on the case as it unfolds brings a credibility to the narrative that’s often lacking in crime fiction. If you are looking for a fabulous new voice in crime fiction then look no further and I guarantee that you’ll be up unto the wee small hours, desperate to find out how this pageturner ends. It’s pace is just perfect – it’s engrossing without ever feeling rushed or too hectic and really gives you time to try and navigate the case for yourself alongside Casey and her team. I was absolutely blown away by how much I loved it and can’t wait to see what Rod does next.

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You will definitely find it hard to put this book down as you’ll be so wrapped up in this slice of American noir that you’ll need to keep reading and find out how it all ends. Casey is not a character to give up easily, no matter the circumstances, so it’s safe to say that there were parts of this novel that I read with a thudding heart and sweaty palms as I was not sure how it was all going to end. Needless to say, I was not disappointed and I’m really jealous of anyone who’s yet to start reading Black Reed Bay as they are definitely in for an absolute treat.

noir, crime, murder, American noir, lee child, Harlen Coben, police procedural, series, Vaseem khan

I  heartily recommend it to people who really like to get their teeth into a story that feels resolutely real and never lets you forget that even though this is fiction, there are hundreds of Caseys out there doing their best for the lost, the missing and the disappeared all over the world. I loved the skilful characterisation as much as I enjoyed the plot and I will definitely be recommending it to friends of mine who enjoy a crime novel that stands out head and shoulders above the rest of the competition.

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You need to buy this book, that is my Autumn reading advice for you – use these cooler nights profitably and treat yourself to an absolutely amazing read. Thanks to the lovely Anne Cater at Random Things for inviting me on the tour – another fabulous Orenda read to add to my huge pile of favourites. All I can do now is count down to Rod’s next book – but I can say one thing for sure, the murky waters of Black Water Bay will take some beating…

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‘Reynolds captures the claustrophobic feel of a small town … a tense slice of American noir’ Vaseem Khan
 
‘An awesome read. A turn of the screw in every chapter’ Oscar de Muriel
 
‘If you love Harlen Coben and Lee Child, you will love this … cinematic, epic, you will forget to breathe’ Miranda Dickinson
 
‘Compelling and stylish, with devious twists and a cleverly crafted ending. Very, very impressive’ G J Minnett
  
‘A twisty, high-stakes, high-voltage murder mystery’ Tim Baker
 
‘Beautifully written, deeply atmospheric and cleverly plotted, with a brilliant new protagonist’ Andrea Carter
 
‘Utterly gripping and packs one hell of an emotional punch. Perfect for fans of Bosch’ Steph Broadribb
 
‘There’s something particularly special about Black Reed Bay and it’s Detective Casey Wray … I felt like I’d known her all my life’ Joy Kluver

Writer On The Shelf

Rod Reynolds is the author of four novels, including the Charlie Yates series. His 2015 debut, The Dark Inside, was longlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger, and was followed by Black Night Falling (2016) and Cold Desert Sky (2018); the Guardian has called the books ‘pitch-perfect American noir’. A lifelong Londoner, Rod’s first novel set in his hometown, entitled Blood Red City, was published by Orenda Books in 2020.

Rod previously worked in advertising as a media buyer, and holds an MA in novel writing from City University London. He lives with his wife and family and spends most of his time trying to keep up with his two young daughters. Follow him on Twitter @Rod_WR.

Be Guid Tae Yer Mammy

Kate and her Granny Jean have nothing in common. Jean s great claim to fame is raising her weans without two pennies to rub together, and Kate’s an aspiring scriptwriter whose anxiety has her stuck in bad thought after bad thought.

But what Jean’s Glaswegian family don’t know is that she dreamed of being a film star and came a hairsbreadth away from making it a reality.

Now in her nineties, Jean is a force to be reckoned with. But when the family starts to fall apart Jean must face her failings as a mammy head-on and Kate too must fight her demons. Either that or let go of her dream of the silver screen forever…
be guid tae yer mammy (Paperback)

I added Emma Grae’s Be Guid tae yer Mammy to the top of my TBR as soon as I received it. I love supporting Scottish writing and adore any books set here in Scotland and I was desperate to see if Jeannie’s story would resonate as much as I hoped it would. I can safely say that it was even better than I hoped that it would be and I’ve been encouraging everyone in my Wine Library Book club to get themselves a copy and enjoy it for themselves!

Be Guid tae Yer Mammy is a gritty and realistic story that so many readers will feel a strong sense of connection with. It vividly brings to life the story of Jeannie who is battling to bring up her family in spite of all the challenges that life has throw at her in the fictional setting of Glasgow’s Thistlegate. Cathy, Sandra, and Stella-Marie might be adults now, but they certainly haven’t matured in the way they treat each other. Sibling Tensions are visible here in a way that mirrors both King Lear & Cinderella – as the youngest daughter certainly gets short shrift from her older sisters. Tensions rose to the extent that Stella-Marie decides to cut herself and her family loose from the negativity and toxic relationships and decides that her wee family will make their own way in the world, far from cutting comments and a serious lack of empathy that would seem to prove that in this family’s case, blood certainly isn’t thicker than water…

This is a story about pursuing your dreams and even though Stella-Marie’s daughter Kate is from a wholly different generation to her grandmother, Jeannie and has entirely different dreams and ambitions, there is more that connects them than separates them. Kate’s determination to study at University and create a new space for herself in the world has parallels with Jeannie’s ambitions to push boundaries on the silver screen. The family’s journey through time shows the difference in expectations for young women from ordinary families in what they could realistically aim for – Jeannie has to compromise for marriage and bringing up her family, whereas Kate is much more able to set off in her own direction and achieve her ambitions in her own right now that society has changed its expectations and restrictions.

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There was much I could connect with in Be Guid tae Yer Mammy and there were a fair few characters that spoke to me as I myself look backwards and forwards at opportunities for young women through the lens of my own family. I had the good fortune to study English literature at the University of St Andrews, whereas my grandmother was in service to a Doctor’s family in the Highlands by the time she was 14. There are lots of moments of both hilarity and pathos in this evocative portrayal of west of Scotland family life, warts and all and I really enjoyed immersing myself in the ups and downs of this family with everything they had to contend with and felt like I’d spent time with them as people by the end of it, rather than just characters in a book.

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Emma has created a wonderful cast of characters that’s so easy to connect with. Her scots language use brings their voices to life for me and makes me feel like I’m overhearing real folk talking to one another from the town I grew up in! I think it’s great to see so many writers feeling like they are able to write about the characters and settings that they grew up in and it definitely will be a book that ‘speaks’ to a diverse array of the population. Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the blog tour and introducing me to a fantastic new voice. I’ve followed Emma on Twitter and really look forwad to seeing what she does next…

Buy yersel’ a wee copy here

MEDIA REVIEWS

A smashing story with a strong Scots voice’ Dr Michael Dempster

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‘This is a brave novel… with a strong cultural identity. The main character – a thrawn auld besom wha’s guid tae hersel raither than her lassies an granddochters but whase sleekit sense o humour an couthie turn o phrase gars ye like her despite yerse’ Billy Kay, author of Scots: The Mither Tongue


‘Every so often a book comes along that pulls you in so completely you no longer see the pages when you are reading. This is one of those books. One of the characters has OCD, and as someone with OCD myself I found their experiences to be painfully familiar and brilliantly depicted. It’s refreshing (and important) to see characters with OCD depicted, where the OCD forms an integral part of their character but is not the driving thrust of the plot. I for one would like to see more of this in fiction! It’s great to feel represented like this. This book is both narratively and stylistically exciting. It opened my eyes to how beautiful Scots is and has made me want to read more literature by authors writing in Scots. But mostly this author! I can’t wait to see what Emma Grae writes next’ Lily Bailey, author of Because We Are Bad

Writer On The Shelf

Emma Grae is a Scottish author and journalist from Glasgow. She has been
writing in Scots since she was a student at the University of Strathclyde, tipsily
coauthoring poems with fellow writer Lorna Wallace before moving on to write
fiction in the language.

She has published fiction and poetry in the UK and Ireland since 2014 in journals including The Honest Ulsterman, From Glasgow to Saturn and The Open Mouse. As a journalist, she writes under her birth surname, Guinness, and has bylines in a number of publications including Cosmopolitan, the Huffington Post and the Metro. Be Guid tae yer Mammy is her first novel.

The Italian Girl’s Secret

An urgent knock on the wooden farmhouse door breaks the midnight silence. Heart racing, she tip-toes down the stairs, draws back the bolts and gazes into the eyes of a stranger. “Please, signorina. I must find a way to send my message. The war depends upon it.”

Italy, 1943. On her nonna’s tomato farm in the hills outside Naples, sheltering a soldier with an English accent is the most dangerous thing Carmela del Bosco could do. But with one look at his wounds, Carmela is filled with hatred for those who would tear apart her beautiful home and decides to risk everything, hiding the stranger in an abandoned watchtower outside the village.

In his pain and fever, he murmurs in English, but insists his name is Sebastiano and that he has a message to send that will end the war. Carmela tends to his injuries and smuggles fresh pasta from her grandmother to the watchtower whenever she can. But just as his strength returns – and passion grows between them – they are seen and betrayed by a member of Carmela’s own family.

With their lives on the line, the pair flee down the mountains into the city of Naples, where German soldiers patrol every street. Desperate, Sebastiano begs Carmela to send the message for him. But as soon as she hears it, her blood runs cold… Can she find the courage to do what’s right for her country, if it threatens the lives of everyone she loves? Will she ever see her beloved nonna again? And can she trust Sebastiano with her heart – or will he lead her into terrible danger?

An absolutely stunning and heartbreaking historical novel about the choices people are forced to make in wartime, and how one act of incredible bravery can change everything. Fans of The NightingaleAll the Light We Cannot See and Rhys Bowen will be captivated.

The Wedding Party Blog Tour

Till death do us part . . .

Lucy has dreamt of her wedding day for as long as she can remember.

And now the day is almost here. Her nearest and dearest are gathered on an idyllic Greek island and she just knows it’s going to be perfect. It has to be.

But even the best-laid plans can go horribly wrong. Why are her parents behaving so strangely? Why won’t the rather odd lady from the airport stop hanging around? Who is the silent stranger her sister brought as a plus-1?

And then they find the body.

It’s going to be a day to remember.

I absolutely love a book set abroad, where I can imagine checking in alongside all the characters and working out which of the residents are to be trusted and which ones have arrived with a few skeletons in their luggage! I also love books set in other countries at the moment since we are not able to literally travel abroad – and Tammy Cohen is one of the writers that I regularly enjoy vicariously ‘travelling’ with as some of my favourite reads of hers have taken me to Egypt and onboard a cruise ship alongside her fabulous cast of characters.

In ‘The Wedding Party’ once again, she has done an amazing job of letting me pack my bags and arrive at Kefalonia with Lucy and her guests and be a member of the wedding right alongside them – this pageturning and atmospheric read drew me in from the very first paragraph and held me captivated by its gorgeous setting and twisty plot until its very final page.

houses near body of water during daytime

There’s nothing more likely to spoil your trip to an amazing overseas wedding than finding a body – and a sense that this is only the start of it – as this set of nuptials certainly gets your pulse racing right from the start, for all the wrong reasons. When Lucy and Jason book their exotic Greek wedding, they were definitely not planning on the events that began to unfold. As the guests gather, so too do the number of secrets and undercurrents that are swirling around the forthcoming ‘happy event’

Tammy Cohen cleverly scaffolds a tale where literally no-one is being honest with one another, not even the happy couple! The way that we start to hear about events from several different perspectives enhances the tension as we begin to see the cracks appear in front of our very eyes as we work out exactly what secrets are being kept from whom. I just could not put this clever, atmospheric and gripping read down once I’d started and I’m so grateful to #RandomThingsTours Anne Cater for inviting me to participate in this blog tour – as she knows how much I’ve enjoyed Tammy’s previous books and how much I’d been looking forward to this one

I love immersing myself in a book over a weekend and not looking up apart from to pour myself a gin and imagine that I’m touching down on the runway and travelling to a Greek wedding myself – and this book answered the brief perfectly. I loved the way that all the threads of this mystery were so assuredly woven together and the tension level never let up as we begin to wonder just how many ghosts from the past are going to emerge as the novel unfolds.

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I feel like you can totally surrender to this reading experience and travel to stunning Kefalonia right alongside Jake & Lucy. I really felt like I could imagine being a wedding guest on this stunning island and found it very difficult to detach myself from this immersive reading experience that allowed me to plunge into the setting and experience the drama as it unfolded all around me. We’ve all met people like the ones in this story – from the stressed out bridezilla to the guests arriving with rather more baggage thaan the load they’re checking in with that made you feel like you really were living through these events alongside the wedding party I enjoyed the fact that we got to ‘participate’ in the interviews and read some journal entries too, threaded through the narrrative and this diverse storytelling helped keep us hooked on the events as they unfolded – I could not put this book down, every time I stopped reading it, I just couldn’t wait to get back to it.

I kept imagining myself lured back to Kefalonia trying to navigate the truth for myself and wondering whose secrets were going to unfold next. The plot is so cleverly constructed with false leads and echoes that connect, yet mislead that you’ll be addictedly turning the pages like me long unto the night. It’s a book to be devoured in one go as you won’t be able to rear yourself away and I’d absolutely love to see this on screen – it’d bring a new dimension to the idea of a big fat Greek wedding and the setting would be incredible to see on the screen in real life!

Even though this ‘holiday’ was about as far removed from a relaxing beach break as you can get, I still imagined myself packing my bags and heading off to this exclusive Greek getaway myself – it was a wonderful opportunity to escape from everything that’s so unsettling at the moment …and once you’re immersed in this wedding of the year, you’ll not be able to think of anything else except how you’re going to solve it before the final chapter!

golden hour under body of water beside rock formations

I really loved the way that Tammy Cohen draws the reader in and keeps you guessing alongside the characters and attempt to understand what exactly is going on as ‘facts’ become tangled together and questions arise as to who exactly we can trust as we try and navigate the deft twists and turns of the plot. The way that you never quite know who’s keeping something up their sleeve next was one of my favourite things about this book and it certainly does a fine job of not allowing you to put it down as it gives you a solid case of ‘one more chapter’

This was a absolutely first class read– and if you’re feeling absolutely fed up of no foreign travel and want to travel vicariously– then this would be perfect, it’s so immersive! The sense of tension never lets up as you try and stay one step ahead – I hate giving spoilers so you’ll just have to buy it for yourself to find out how all the mysterious strands are resolved by the final page. If you love a ‘locked-room’ mystery for modern times that will absolutely keep you gripped then you’ll really love The Wedding Party and should treat yourself to a copy

woman in white floral strapless dress holding flowers

Thank you so much to Anne Cater & Random Things Tours for aways recommending such great reads. I love being part of the blogging community with so many other fantastic book lovers and being able to share my views on the books I’ve loved is an absolute pleasure. Check out the other bloggers on the tour and see what they thought of Tammy’s latest fantastic whodunnit

Writer On The Shelf

Tammy Cohen is the author of six psychological thrillers, the latest of which is Stop At Nothing. She is fascinated by the darker side of human psychology. Her books explore how ‘ordinary’ people react when pushed into a corner, the parts of ourselves we hide from the world – and from ourselves.

Previously she also wrote three commercial women’s fiction novels as Tamar Cohen debuting with The Mistress’s Revenge which was translated all round the world. In addition, she has written three historical novels under the pseudonym of Rachel Rhys.

The first, Dangerous Crossing, was a Richard & Judy book club pick in Autumn 2017. She is a member of the Killer Women crime writing collective and lives in North London with her partner and three (allegedly) grown up children and her highly neurotic rescue dog. 

Visit http://www.tammycohen.co.uk to find out more, or find her on facebook or twitter as @MsTamarCohen or on Instagram as @tammycohenwriter

Three Stripes South Blog Tour

In 2016, desperate for a drastic change, Bex Band decided to walk the length of Israel with her husband: a 1000km trek including a dangerous crossing through the vast Negev desert. She’d never done anything like it before and the experience changed her life, building back her confidence and self-esteem.

Three Stripes South tells the story of this transformative adventure – battling heat, exhaustion, self-doubt and prejudice – and the new life Bex built for herself when she got home, founding the Love Her Wild women’s adventure community.


‘Lacking confidence is something that a lot of women can relate to’ says Bex. ‘For me personally, it began at school with undiagnosed dyslexia and bullying. This fed into my adult years where I found myself in a vicious cycle of unhappy jobs and bouts of depression. I had low self-esteem and a belief that I really wasn’t capable of achieving much in life.’


Fast forward to today and Bex has transformed her life, tackling gender inequality in adventure travel, and championing women in the outdoors through regular talks, blogging and leading women on adventures all over the world. Nominated for multiple awards for her work advocating women in adventure, her story is an inspiration.

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Three Stripes South is written by Bex Band and tells the story of a 1000km trek that has inspired thousands of women to ‘Find Their Wild’ and push themselves out of their comfort zone…

Right up until the point where she embarks upon her unforgettable journey, Bex is living a rather ordinary life that does not indicate at all her propensity for adventure and achievement. Her desire for ‘something more’ propels her towards this unforgettable adventure and this book allows you to experience it vicariously alongside her.

brown concrete building near body of water during daytime

Bex hits upon the idea to hike a 1000km trail through Israel, right through the indomitable Negev desert and see just how much her courage, tenacity and spirit of adventure will be tested on this unforgettable journey.

Although he has never had this yearning, when she suggests it to her husband Gil he is definitely up for the challenge and they decide that they will both take a career break and head off together on this epic adventure of a lifetime.

Bex Band takes uswith her as they navigate the ups and downs – both literally and metaphrically of the 52-day hike of the Israel National Trail, all the way to Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba.

bird's eye photography of road on dessert

The 52 days is full of unique challenges and experiences – which spring to life right off the page in Three Stripes South. The time and space to really think about her life and what she wanted on the trip ultimately led to her creating the UK’s largest female adventure community, Love her Wild, which was an unexpected result of this opportunity to find her own voice and ambitions whilst pushing herself in a wholly unexpected way

My own travels in Mongolia and China a few years ago gave me a similar space and freedom to experience the natural world in a wholly different way and I found much to connect with across these vividly written pages. Who knows, you might even be tempted to set off on your own mini adventure after being inspired by Bex and her journey into the unknown…

brown suv on dirt road during daytime

If you enjoy a great non fiction read and fancy reading something that is really different and will allow you to reflect like Bex on where your life is going and where you’d like to be in 5 years, you’ll find this book really inspiring and should order yourself a copy without delay.

Three Stripes South is published by Bradt and you can buy a copy here

Happy Reading and I very much hope that more of you are inspired by Bex to Find your own Wild!

brown rock formation during sunset

Writer On The Shelf

Bex Band

Bex Band is a full-time adventurer and conservationist. She founded the UK’s largest women’s adventure community, Love Her Wild. Her previous adventures include thru hiking the 1000km Israel National Trail, kick-scooting the length of the USA and kayaking the width of the UK against plastic pollution.

Bex has been recognised by Business Leader as UK’s top 30 inspirational entrepreneurs and was award the Next Generation Award by Enterprise Nation. For her work advocating women in adventure she has been shortlisted for a National Diversity Award and in 2018 was given ‘Legacy Maker’ status on the San Miguel ‘Alternative Rich List’.

You can follow Bex on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (@Bex_Band) or via her blog, which has had over a 1.3million readers: http://www.bexband.com

I Shot The Devil Blog Tour

Erin Sloane was sixteen when high school senior Andre Villiers was murdered by his friends. They were her friends, too, led by the intense, charismatic Ricky Hell. Five people went into West Cypress Woods the night Andre was murdered. Only three came out.

Ativan, alcohol and distance had dimmed Erin’s memories of that time. But nearly twenty years later, an ageing father will bring her home. Now a journalist, she is asked to write a story about the Southport Three and the thrill-kill murder that electrified the country. Erin’s investigation propels her closer and closer to a terrifying truth. And closer and closer to danger.

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As soon as I received this book, I knew that it was going to be hard to keep to my reading schedule and be disciplined as I knew that it was going to be something really special before I even opened it. It’s right up my street and I could not wait to embark upon this dark, intelligent and twisty debut…

I absolutely love books that take all the elements of the true crime genre that I love and mould them together into a reading experience that feels real all the way through. I’m led to believe that Ruth McIver based this on a real US murder case she encountered when she was younger and I was absolutely intrigued to see what happened as the aftermath of the events all those years ago in Southport, Long Island– so when Anne Cater asked me if I’d like to take part in the blog tour for Random Things Tours, I absolutely bit her hand off and I’m so glad that I did as I absolutely loved it!

Although I was totally absorbed in the story in I Shot the Devil, it is undoubtedly the twists and turns that are rendered so perfectly in Ruth McIver’s writing that makes it such a treat to read.  The story of the fateful night is as shadowy as the events themselves and the darkness in the woods is mirrored by the web of silence and misdirection that has been drawn over this case until Erin’s arrival.

Erin’s journey to unravel the truth about what happened all those years ago was depicted vividly – with the diverse ‘versions of the truth’ all unfolding around us as we join her in her efforts to try and work out who might be telling the truth, and who might have reasons to cover up the true events of that night and lead us down a path of misdirection in order to distance themselves from the events of that night and the truth behind what really went on.

Ruth McIver keeps you on the edge of your seat as you start to piece together the events of what might have gone on that fateful night when two young men went into the woods and never returned. Every voice tells you a different story, and you join with Erin in trying to make sense of what happened and finally uncover the truth. Once I’d started I found it incredibly difficult to put this book down and enjoyed the feeling of being a sleuth and trying to work out the facts for myself, among all the versions of that night we are presented with…

Erin’s personal involvement with events adds another dimension to the plot as that night cost her the love of her life. Ricky being denounced as a Satanist and a murderer is something that drives her to uncover the truth about that night’s events and see if there has been a different version of evenys than the one that has gone down in local folklore. The more Erin tries to unravel the events of the past, the closer she gets to her own family and the threats to her life become ever increasing. This pageturning read turns into a race against time as Erin herself becomes dangerously close to losing her life in the battle to uncover the truth

thriller, crime, adrian mkinty, gillian flynn, paula hawkins

You will definitely find it hard to put this book down as you’ll be so wrapped up in this dark tale of murder, lies and dark secrets that you’ll need to keep reading and find out how it all ends. Erin is not a character to give up easily, no matter the circumstances, so it’s safe to say that there were parts of this novel that I read with a thudding heart and sweaty palms as I was not sure how it was all going to end. Needless to say, I was not disappointed and I’m really jealous of anyone who’s yet to start reading I Shot The Devil as they are definitely in for an absolute thrill of a ride.

I  recommend this pageturning debut to people who really like to get their teeth into a story  that will grip them and reads like true crime in a fictional body.   I loved the fact that it really kept me guessing as much as I enjoyed the plot and I will definitely be recommending it to friends of mine who enjoy a page-turning read with a dark heart. If you haven’t added this to your autumn TBR, then be sure to grab yourself a copy. You will definitely not regret it

You need to buy this book, I’ve heard a lot of my book loving pals saying they are in a bit of a reading slump at the moment. I think that this could be ther perfect book to jolt you out of it! Thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me – she definitely knows my reading tastes. All I can do now is count down to Ruth McIver’s next book as I can’t wait to see what dark path she leads us down next!

‘An incredible thriller that kept me up reading. This is the book people will be talking about in 2021. Intense. Wickedly smart. A stunning debut from a gifted author.’ ADRIAN McKINTY, bestselling author of The Chain

‘One of the freshest debuts to come along in a long time. A tense, irresistible thriller shot through with moments of unnerving darkness. A clever, compelling read.’ DERVLA MCTIERNAN, #1 bestselling author of The Ruin, The Scholar and The Good Turn

A powder-keg with a slow burning fuse . . . perfectly balanced and terrifically twisting, I Shot the Devil is for fans of Alex Marwood, Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn‘ BOOKS+PUBLISHING

Writer On The Shelf

Tinder Press picks up McIver crime debut | The Bookseller

Ruth McIver is a Dublin-born, Western Australian and New York City raised writer currently based in Melbourne, Australia. She is represented by the Story Factory. In 2019 Ruth completed her PhD in the field of true-crime inspired fiction with Curtin University. Her unpublished manuscript, Nothing Gold, was runner-up in the inaugural Banjo Prize (2018) and was one of seven manuscripts selected to be pitched at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival (2014). I Shot the Devil is her debut novel and won the 2018 Richell Prize for Emerging Writers.

The House Beneath the Cliffs Blog Tour

A remote yet beautiful village. A tiny kitchen lunch club. The perfect place to start again.

Anna moves to Crovie, a tiny fishing village on the Moray Firth, for a fresh start. But when she arrives, she realises her new home is really no more than a shed, and the village itself sits beneath a cliff right on the edge of the sea, in constant danger of storms and landslides. Has she made a terrible mistake?

Yet as she begins to learn about the Scottish coast and its people, something she thought she’d lost reawakens in her. She rediscovers her love of cooking, and turns her kitchen into a pop-up lunch club. But not all the locals are delighted about her arrival, and some are keen to see her plans fail.

THE 10 BEST Crovie Cottages, Holiday Cottages (with prices) - Book Self  Catering in Crovie, Scotland | Tripadvisor


Will Anna really be able to put down roots in this remote and wild village? Or will her fragile new beginning start to crumble with the cliffs . . . ?

Beautiful, moving and utterly absorbing, The House Beneath the Cliffs is a novel of friendship and food, storms and secrets, and the beauty of second chances

‘A gorgeously remote and romantic great escape, brimming with foodie passion, friendship and heart’ Laura Kemp, author of A Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness

Crovie Village

The House Beneath the Cliffs opens with the upheaval as Anna heads to the reote village of Crovie to take refuge from the turbulence of her private life. But just as her previous life has eroded, so too is the house which she’s moved to starting to crumble away and is at risk of being damaged still further by its exposure to the srorms and winds of the north east coast  But as Anna discovers sometimes the past refuses to be neatly laid to rest. Anna starts to rediscover the things that made her heart lift and opens a fantastic lunch club with her amazing cooking skills .  Her club leaves a nasty taste in some of the locals’ mouth and the next steps are never easy as she tries to survive and rive, despite the obstacles that appear in her path. This story of transformation amd positivity despite everything was very more-ish and several nights kept me up much later than I’d intended with a real sense of ‘just one more chapter…’

The drive for Anna to succeed with the skilful characterisation combined to draw me into a story where I was really rooting for her and the stunningly evocative setting – where you could swear that you can hear the sea beating off the Crovie seacliffs all combined to keep me turning the pages. I really liked the way that it whetted my appetite as everythubg that was on the menu at the cafe sounded right up my street and made me wish that I could roll up to Crovie myself and enjoy the delicious array of treats on offer.

If you like a story that will remind you of why community and postivity are so important  you’ll love this book and I know that my mum’s definitely going to be pinching it from me for her holidays. I’d like to thank Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a fwonderful read that will be hard to tear yourself way from once you get started.

Buy yourself a copy here and discover Anna’s lunch club, Robbie, Crovie & Fisherman’s Luck for yourself

Human remains found at Crovie fire cottage - BBC News

Writer On The Shelf

Sharon Gosling lives with her husband in a very remote village in northern Cumbia, where they moved to run a second-hand bookshop, Withnail Books in Penrith. She began her career in entertainment journalism, writing for magazines in the science fiction and fantasy genre, before moving on to write tie-in books for TV shows such as Stargate and the ‘re-imagined’ Battlestar Galactica. She has also written, produced and directed audio dramas based in the same genre. When she’s not writing, she creates beautiful linocut artwork and is the author of multiple children’s books. The House Beneath the Cliffs is her first adult novel.

Twitter @sharongosling

The Beloved Girls – blog tour

The outstanding new novel from the Sunday Times Top Ten bestselling author of The Garden of Lost and Found.

Catherine, a successful barrister, vanishes from a train station on the eve of her anniversary. Is it because she saw a figure – someone she believed long dead? Or was it a shadow cast by her troubled, fractured mind? The answer lies buried in the past. It lies in the events of the hot, seismic summer of 1989, at Vanes – a mysterious West Country manor house – where a young girl, Jane Lestrange, arrives to stay with the gilded, grand Hunter family, and where a devastating tragedy will unfold. Over the summer, as an ancient family ritual looms closer, Janey falls for each member of the family in turn. She and Kitty, the eldest daughter of the house, will forge a bond that decades later, is still shaping the present . . .

A gorgeous epic . . . Wholly absorbing. I adored it’ MARIAN KEYES

‘This sweeping, absorbing story is a treat’ ADELE PARKS

‘A compelling story of female friendship, dark secrets and family bonds that pulls you in and won’t let go’ ROSANNA LEY

‘If you love atmospheric stories about old houses, families and secrets, this is for you’ GOOD HOUSEKEEPING

‘A gorgeous story to get immersed in’ Prima

A mysterious house, a disappearance and a compelling mystery – these are some of the many reasons that I was so drawn to The Beloved Girls and why I’m so grateful to Anne Cater from #RandomThings Tours for inviting me to participate in this blog tour.

I love immersing myself in a fabulous historical read and the setting here was one of the most memorable aspects of The Beloved Girls as I really felt like I could imagine myself there at Vanes with Janey and explore its hidden pathways and mysteries for myself.

Is anyone else like me and love to go online and look for settings of the book that they’re loving, to try and see its world come to life? I love doing it and I found myself scrolling through pages and pages of gorgeous houses, trying to walk in both Janey and Kitty’s shoes.

BOOKS FOR WOMEN, SUMMER READS, WOMEN’S FICTION, women’s fiction, romantic fiction

It was lovely to lose myself in a fantastic historical read after eight weeks of the Summer holidays where I’ve been mostly reading contemporary writing and non-fiction.  It’s funny that I get drawn to books in waves, and after reading The Beloved Girls  I’m now on a real Historical Fiction mission and am set on re-reading lots of novels set in big houses with stunning gardens and family secrets as well.

Book club brand authors, historical fiction paperbacks, must read books, must-reads, books for women

The closed and mysterious world of Vanes was so intriguing and really allowed me to travel back in time through its pages.  I really loved the way that Harriet Evans draws the reader in and keeps them guessing about the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Catherine and the secrets of the past that we begin to uncover and this made me turn the pages rapidly as I sought to uncover the mysteries of the past for myself. I found myself wondering about whaand what Catherine really saw and her story felt so real to me that I could almost imagine the people in it coming to life…

Book club brand authors, historical fiction paperbacks, must read books, must-reads, books for women

I loved the juxtaposition of Janey’s relationship with the glamorous Hunter family through the years, especially her obsession with Kitty  The deftly portrayed relationship between them lures you in and you are soon caught up in a mermerising tale where everything is not as it seems on the surface and ancient rituals and ceremonies chime unnervingly with the fates that are to unfold in the not too distant future. If you love an epic read, with credible and compelling characters then you’ll really love The Beloved Girls – I was a huge fan growing up of my mum’s Rosamund Pilcher novels and this novel reminded me so much of her immersive tales of history, intrigue and family secrets.

I absolutely loved this book enjoyed the fact that I was on holiday and could really dedicate some serious hours of reading to this unforgettable tale I enjoyed the feeling of being immersed in this world where hidden secrets and unspoken thoughts tug away at your subconscious.  I got so lost in this story that I stayed up far too late to finish it as I could not go to sleep without finishing it and immediately wanted my sister to read it too so we could have a long catch-up Marian Keyes loved it too – so what higher recommendation should you wish for ? Harriet Evans is probably one of my favourite writers of historical fiction and I can’t wait to see what she does next as in my eyes she can do no wrong.

Jane Austen, Kate Atkinson, Jojo Moyes, Where the crawdads sing, grown ups marian keyes

Two, two, the beloved girls,

Clothed all in green, O,

One is one and all alone, and evermore shall be so

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Buy yourself a copy here

Dear Grace Blog Tour

The most unlikely friendship. The most unexpected consequences.

When Anna’s husband cheats on her, she’s sure she’ll never be happy again. But then she meets 94-year-old Grace. Despite an age gap of more than fifty years, the pair set out together on a life-changing journey halfway across the country in search of some answers.

Sometimes the only way to move on is to revisit the past. But will Anna and Grace be prepared for what they find?

A story about love, female friendship, heartbreak and learning to forgive.

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Dear Grace was an absolutely heartwarming read. It’s a warm and uplifting story that will genuinely draw you into its world and make you feel part of Anna and Grace’s world as they embark upon an unforgettable friendship journey that neither of them could ever have predicted.

Grace was a fantastic character that you can totally believe in. When she loses ‘her Roy’ after so many happy years together since she was jilted at the altar, her grief is an easy sentiment to connect with – I’m sure lots of readers will connect with her heartbreak and sense of being lost and a stranger in her own life. Grace sees few things to look forward to in life and thinks of all of her best years as being behind her at the start of this tale

woman wiping her eyes

Grace’s blossoming friendship with her carer Anna is one of the best things about Dear Grace. You really feel their relationship bloom – drawn together by a sense of loss and both feeling that they might be alone for the duration, they find common ground and a sense of purpose in this developing friendship. Their age barrier makes no difference and despite the 50 years or so between them, they are soon thick as thieves. Once handsome Tom is thrown into the mix – who’s the grandson of Grace’s brother Ernest – things start to change in ways that neither of them might ever have expected

Claire Swatman has written this book from the heart, and it’s a great feelgood read to end the summer on. It reminds us all that friendship doesn’t come with age defining labels on it and the people that matter to us can appear at all stages of our lives. Readers will find much to connect with in the portrayal of Grace and Anna’s trials and tribulations in the name of love and you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be moved at several points in this story.

Seeing their friendship deepen with daytrips and shared confidences was an absolute joy and I’ll be gifting this to both my mum and sister as I know that it’s the kind of book they both absolutely love reading. We could all make a wee bit of room in our lives for Anna and Grace and this is a friendship novel that I think will strike a chord with women across the country as they think about their friends who’ve stood by them through thick and thin- and how it’s never too late for second chances at happiness, whether that’s through romance or through choosing to live your life again after feeling it was over…

two green, white, and red striped deckchairs near body of water

Dear Grace is a wonderful read, the friendship between these two women is a joy to read, despite them being from different generations you’ll be totally rooting for them to find their happiness again and see that life is for living. I loved hearing about Grace’s memories and found myself wishing I could go on a wee daytrip with her myself

man and woman sitting in front of beach

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Anne Cater for inviting me to participate in the Blog Tour – I’m totally certain that it’s going to be an amazing success. Buy your own copy here from Hive and find out why this friendship is so very special for yourself.

Dear Grace, Paperback / softback Book

Writer On The Shelf

Clare Swatman is an author and journalist. She has had two previous novels published, with her debut, Before You Go, selling in 22 territories around the world. She has also spent 20 years writing for women’s magazines in the UK.

Her latest novel, Dear Grace, is inspired by her love of Lowestoft, the town where she spent many happy holidays with her late grandparents.

Clare lives in Hertfordshire in the UK with her husband and two boys. Even the cat is male, which means she’s destined to be outnumbered forever.

Facebook  Clare Swatman Author

Instagram @clareswatmanauthor,

Twitter  @clareswatman