The Gossips Choice

“Call The Midwife for the 17th Century” 

Lucie Smith is a respected midwife who is married to Jacob, the town apothecary. They live happily together at the shop with the sign of the Three Doves. But sixteen-sixty-five proves a troublesome year for the couple.

Lucie is called to a birth at the local Manor House and Jacob objects to her involvement with their former opponents in the English Civil Wars. Their only-surviving son Simon flees plague-ridden London for his country hometown, only to argue with his father. Lucie also has to manage her husband’s fury at the news of their loyal housemaid’s unplanned pregnancy and its repercussions.

The year draws to a close with the first-ever accusation of malpractice against Lucie, which could see her lose her midwifery licence, or even face ex-communication.

I am so excited to welcome you today to my opening stop on the blog tour on this gorgeous sunny Friday for another fabulous historical novel –  The Gossip’s Choice by Sara Read 

Thank you to Kelly and LoveBookstours for giving me the opportunity to read and review this amazing book that I might never have encountered without her. It’s one of my favourite things about blogging that I’ve serendipitously encountered so many fantastic books and authors to write about and share them with other book lovers too.

selective focus photography of person holding baby's feet

These characters in this book absolutely spring to life and I defy you not to be moved by some of their predicaments. It’s not just a great piece of fiction though – it is a thought provoking and intelligent piece of writing that poses some big questions about motherhood, love and loss that would make it a perfect book club choice once the lockdown is over. I absolutely loved the character of Lucie and its civil war setting provided me with lots of food for thought and a fair few hours researching this period online after I’d finished the book.

Infant's feet being held by a woman's hand with painted and manicured hands resting on a gray blanket

I really did get caught up in this book. They do say that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but Lucie’s story more than matched up to its gorgeous cover. One of my favourite things was the relationship between Lucie and the women she attends, and how their encounters allowed  for a real trust to develop amidst all the lies, speculation and deception in the novel and in these times themselves. Its a real strength of the novel that despite the drama and twists and turns  the characters in this novel remain absolutely down to earth and realistic and has you rooting for them as the pace heats up and things look pretty uncertain for them.

The Gossip’s Choice is a stunningly researched period read that had me totally captivated. It’s a moving and powerful evocation of life from a very different world as far as women are concerned, yet so many of its reflections on identity and motherhood are absolutely timeless and will resonate with so many readers.

child and parent hands photography

The Gossip’s Choice is available to buy now – here’s the link 

Check out what these other talented bloggers have to say about it on the Love Books Tour 

Writer On The Shelf

Sara Read

Dr Sara Read is a lecturer in English at Loughborough University. Her research is in the cultural representations of women, bodies and health in the early modern era.

She has published widely in this area with her first book Menstruation and the Female Body in Early Modern England being published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013.

She is a member of the organising committee of the Women’s Studies Group, 1558-1837 and recently co-edited a special collection produced to celebrate the group’s 30th anniversary.

She is also the co-editor of the popular Early Modern Medicine blog. With founding editor Dr Jennifer Evans, Sara wrote a book about health and disease in this era Maladies and Medicine: Exploring Health and Healing, 1540-1740 (Pen and Sword 2017).

Sara regularly writes for history magazines such as Discover Your Ancestors and History Today. In 2017 she published an article ‘My Ancestor was a Midwife’ tracing the history of the midwifery profession for Who Do You Think You Are? magazine in 2017. She has appeared on BBC Radio 3’s Freethinking programme and is often to be heard on BBC Radio Leicester and BBC Radio WM.

The One that Got Away

You love him. You trust him.

Mia thinks she has escaped her controlling ex-husband, Rob. She’s found herself a new home, a new boyfriend and a new life.

But when the police arrive to tell her that Rob has been found dead on his boat, things quickly fall apart. Mia is terrified she’ll be suspected, however the police are keeping all options open. They know Mia had reason to hate her ex-husband, but she’s not the only one. Plenty of people wanted Rob Creavy dead, not least his new wife, Rachel. 

What they don’t know is that Mia has a secret, one she’s desperate to protect.

But someone else knows. Someone with very dark secrets of their own.

I’m no fan of books being painted as ‘The next…’ and we’re all sick I’m sure, of seeing books compared with The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl. This definitely isn’t ‘The Girl who Got Away’  – it’s not trying to be anything else, it’s perfectly happy being its own dark self.  I’d actually love to see it on screen and will be dragging people along with me to see Mia in the flesh! Her resourcefulness and hidden dark side will certainly keep you entertained as you make your way through this novel – all too quickly, I might add

You know that I hate spoilers so I’ve tried hard to avoid mentioning exactly how this story of the past catching up with you unfolds – but suffice to say, there’s never a dull moment as Mia’s motto might be ‘All’s fair in love and war’ when it comes to keeping your friends close – and your dark secrets closer…

Rob is a character you will absolutely love to hate and you will definitely be up late turning the pages as you start to unravel the complexities of a relationship between two people who definitely have their fair share of skeletons in the closet…

Thanks so much to Tracy from Compulsive Readers for sending me this book to review for the blog tour – I absolutely love taking part in her tours and enjoyed reading what the other bloggers thought too. If you haven’t bought yourself a copy yet, you definitely should!

Grab yourself your own copy here

‘This one really pulled me in’ JANE CORRY

‘Tense, thrilling and full of twists and turns’ ANGELA MARSONS

‘Addictive, I was gripped from the opening chapter’ JO SPAIN

‘Plunges the reader in and leaves them gasping for air’ RACHEL EDWARDS

‘Utterly addictive’ CRIME MONTHLY

Writer On the Shelf

Egan Hughes writes twisty psychological thrillers that highlight the darker side of life. The One That Got Away is her debut novel, inspired by time she spent living on a boat in the Med. 

An early version of the novel was shortlisted for the Richard & Judy Search for a Bestseller competition. She splits her time between West Sussex and the South of France.

Stay up to date with Eagan’s work by following her on these social media accounts

  Facebook  |  Twitter  

Final Cut Blog Tour

Blackwood Bay. An ordinary place, home to ordinary people.

It used to be a buzzing seaside destination. But now, ravaged by the effects of dwindling tourism and economic downturn, it’s a ghost town – and the perfect place for film-maker Alex to shoot her new documentary.

But the community is deeply suspicious of her intentions. After all, nothing exciting ever happens in Blackwood Bay – or does it?

Blackwood Bay. An ordinary place, home to an extraordinary secret.

person showing left hand near body of water

When Anne Cater messaged me to ask me about the Final Cut  Blog Tour, I bit her hand off. I absolutely love S.J Watson’s writing and couldn’t wait to see what he was going to do next. I actually read it in full the day I received it, my anticipation had really reached fever pitch and I couldn’t wait any longer. Let me just tell you that Final Cut did not disappoint.

Tagline for Final Cut S J Watson

The cover hints at a dark and mysterious tale where everything is not quite as it seems and I’d have to say that once I arrived at Blackwood Bay I was absolutely invested and could not stop reading. It is rare to be able to dedicate a whole day to reading at this time of the year if you are a teacher – never mind in the middle of planning a cCOVID return to school. But this book had me hooked and I just could not stop until I’d found out everything I needed to know and discovered if my suspicions would be confirmed. I really want to chat with someone else who’s read it now as I am keen to see if their thoughts aligned with mine as the story unfolded. It is an absolute belter of a read and I promise you that you won’t be able to stop thinking about this documentary and its subjects…

Cover image

The thriller’s enduring popularity really means that writers have to think outside the box if they want their readers to be genuinely shocked at the end of their read and I am happy to report that SJ Watson manages this with skill and originality. I am also determined to ensure that there are no spoilers as this ending really is worth the wait. I am a literal true crime addict and this felt like getting a fix of something absolutely real. It is one of those novels that you finish and feel like googling as you are so convinced that the events actually happened. I absolutely loved it and think that it would make another superb movie adaptation. I’m surreptitiously casting it in my mind’s eye right nw, and we’ll see if ‘m right once it’s optioned!

Final Cut from Bestselling author SJ Watson

I absolutely love a novel where we get the past blurring with the present and Alex’s visit to Blackwater Bay and her documentary maker’s eye means you’re not just getting one voice that hints at there being more to their unfolding narrative than meets the eye, but several wonderfully contrasting characters that play with your mind and weave in and out of your sense of direction until you really are left wondering who on earth to trust. This jaded seaside location is the perfect backdrop to these tales of hopelessness, addiction and loss and made for compelling reading that was sensitively rathter than sensationally handled – something else that sets SJ Watson aside from other more run of the mill writers. The characters are not mere adjuncts to the plot but really are people we ‘meet’ in its telling. The exploitation that is uncovered is all the more affecting as we care about the people it’s happening to and Alex’s torment at the flashbacks she is plagued by is much more effective because we actually feel compassionate towards her as a real person.

body of water during sunset

As i said, I read this in a single day, being utterly loath to drag myself away from the claustrophobic and intriguing world of Blackwater Bay that we are drawn into. I love books that are even better than the one you’ve been anticipating and I have to say that this novel was definitely his best yet. This book is the narrative equivalent of a kaleisoscope – you know that there’s more going on below the surface and try as you might to decipher exactly why it is, things keep shifting before your very eyes and the final picture eludes you right to the very end. And perhaps even afterwards…

I think it’s difficult to make a thriller genuinely original without seeming to try too hard or feel contrived – but Final Cut manages the perfect balance of a perfectly created fictional world and a realistic portrayal of an unsettling place and all that unfolds there. A superb read that will keep you up too late and genuinely keep you on the edge of your seat.

Buy yourself a copy here

Dark and twisty, and full of surprises and so smartly done’ Joanna Cannon

‘I loved that behind this disturbing and clever plot there’s a genuinely heartrending story.’ Emma Curtis

‘If you go down to Blackwood Bay, you’re in for a dark surprise. FINAL CUT is a masterfully tense, taut and terrifying thriller.’ Tim Glister

‘The master storyteller SJ Watson is back with another clever psychological thriller’ Woman & Home

‘An intriguing and unsettling new thriller’ Fabulous

‘Watson adroitly [brings] the strands of his story together to create a disturbing journey to a shocking truth‘ The Observer

Writer On the Shelf

S. J. Watson’s first novel, Before I Go To Sleep, became a phenomenal
international success and has now sold over 6,000,000 copies worldwide. It won the Crime Writers’ Association Award for Best Debut Novel and the Galaxy National Book Award for Crime Thriller of the Year. The film of the book, starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong, and directed by Rowan Joffe, was released in September 2014.
S. J. Watson’s second novel, Second Life, a psychological thriller, was
published to acclaim in 2015.
S. J. Watson was born in the Midlands and now lives in London.

Blurred Lines

She spoke out. I stayed silent.

What would you do? 

 When Becky accidentally sees her boss with a woman who isn’t his wife, she’s horrified but keeps her counsel – she owes Matthew so much for all he’s done for her career. But when the same woman accuses him of rape and asks for the witness to come forward, Becky doesn’t know what to do.

Was what she saw rape? Or is this a young actress looking to get ahead? And can Becky separate her own traumatic past from the present?

As Becky attempts to untangle these blurred lines, she must risk everything to find the truth… 

When you get invited on a blog tour for a book with such a controversial premise,  you definitely cannot wait to grab the book and get to grips with your own take on its narrative.  I know that in a pretty hectic marketplace, it’s hard to find a summer read that really stands out and sets itself apart from all of the competition, but I can assure you that Blurred Lines definitely does tick all the boxes!

person holding clapperboard

When a novel hooks you in with the premise of – “She spoke out and I stayed silent. What would you do?” you know that you are in for a thrilling and immersive read, and I was definitely up for that! It is immediately intriguing to wonder exactly who we can trust in this cleverly constructed tale and speculate about what you might have done in these circumstances and to what extent people’s actions – or lack of them – might be lcrucial to all that unfolds. It’s hugely satisfying to me that lots of breadcrumbs are laid by Hannah Begbie in order to try and make sure we are kept on out toes land keep turning those pages until we think we can possibly get to the bottom of what exactly happened and what that means for her.

red woman's face neon light signage

I hate spoilers, so I don’t want to dwell too long on the plot of Blurred Lines – suffice to say that the skilful way that Hannah Begbie weaves the many and diverse strands of characters and motivations in this very topical and timely tale is superbly done and remains gripping and intriguing  throughout. I know at times it can feel like the fictional world is saturated with #MeToo stories with lots of  potential perpetrators whose diverse motivations create plenty of room for speculation and suspicion, but this time it’s really well done. The fast-paced plot zips along at a cracking pace, never letting up on the tension that is nicely manipulated by Begbie adding in lots of opportunities to second-guess yourself and adding another layer of enjoyment for the reader

I loved the way that this novel wove both threads together – a convincing depiction of the deed itself is perfectly juxtaposed with Beck’s own career aspirations and everyday life as and allows you to move between them and get more insight into her dilemma – and wonder if your guesses are correct about what will happen next. This is the perfect read for rattling through on your holidays and I guarantee that you’ll be passing it on to lots of people afterwards – as you’ll not be able to step away from the action til you close the last page and you’ll want to see what they think as soon as they’ve finished .

woman about to kiss man

Blurred Lines is definitely one of those novels that you should keep your eyes peeled for this summer and one that I will definitely be recommending to my friends – it really is a page turner; keeping you guessing throughout and firmly entertained by the fictional world it pulls you into and the moral dilemma it asks you to weigh up and charge yourself with .

If you enjoy an immersive and exciting piece of fiction that will keep you on your toes,  then you will love this book as much as I did.  I can’t wait to see what Hannah Begbie does next. I’m a sucker for a fantastic pacy Summer read and feel like this one will be one that stands out to me because of its topical look at gender politics and loyalty in a workplace that encourages competition rather than compassion and aspiration rather than loyalty.

If you feel intrigued and would like to order yourself a copy and find out for yourself what Becky saw, then you’ve come to the right place. Buy a copy here

Check out these other fantastic bloggers on the tour. Thank you so much to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for the invite @HarperFiction

Blurred Lines will be published on 20 August 2020 and is available for preorder now

‘Perfectly paced, the twists and turns and executed with precision’ Woman & Home

Writer On The Shelf

Hannah Begbie

Hannah Begbie was born in London. She studied Art History at Cambridge University before working as a talent agent, representing writers and comedians for more than a decade.

In 2016 she took part in City University’s Novel Studio, where she developed her debut novel, ‘Mother’, and won that year’s prize for new writing. Published by HarperCollins in 2018, ‘Mother’ went on to win the Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon Award for new writing and was made Book of the Month on Mumsnet and a pick for Fern Britton’s inaugural Book Club for Tesco.

Described as ‘simply brilliant’ by The Irish Examiner and ‘Human and true,’ by The Financial Times, ‘Mother’ has been optioned by the BAFTA-winning Clerkenwell Films for adaptation into a television drama.

Published in August 2020, Hannah’s second novel, ‘Blurred Lines’ is a timely and compelling portrayal of what it costs to speak out. Praise for Blurred Lines:

‘One of the most powerful stay-with-you books that I’ve read in the past year’ Jane Corry, author of I Looked Away
‘Blisteringly relevant, with an emotional pull that had me in hot, angry tears’ – Clare Mackintosh, bestselling author of Let Me Lie
‘Deeply compelling and gripping, with characters so realistic you feel as if you know them, I couldn’t put it down’ – Isy Suttie
‘A fast-paced, tightly-wound thriller with great dialogue and compelling characters. A brilliant page-turner perfectly designed for the #MeToo era’ – Viv Groskop
‘Beautifully written, very timely, very honest – I read it deep into the night’ – Emma Freud

Hannah lives in London with her husband, a screenwriter, and their two sons.

Twitter: @hannahbegbie
Instagram: @hannahbegbie

The Silence

It is 1997, and in a basement flat in Hackney Isla Green is awakened by a call in the middle of the night: her father, phoning from Sydney.

30 years ago, in the suffocating heat of summer 1967, the Greens’ next-door neighbour Mandy disappeared. At the time, it was thought she had gone to start a new life; but now Mandy’s family is trying to reconnect, and there is no trace of her. Isla’s father Joe was allegedly the last person to see her alive, and now he’s under suspicion of murder.

Reluctantly, Isla goes back to Australia for the first time in a decade. The return to Sydney will plunge her deep into the past, to a quiet street by the sea where two couples live side by side. Isla’s parents, Louisa and Joe, have recently emigrated from England — a move that has left Louisa miserably homesick while Joe embraces this new life. Next door, Steve and Mandy are equally troubled. Mandy doesn’t want a baby, even though Steve — a cop trying to hold it together under the pressures of the job — is desperate to become a father. 

The more Isla asks about the past, the more she learns: about both young couples and the secrets each marriage bore. Could her father be capable of doing something terrible? How much does her mother know? And is there another secret in this community, one which goes deeper into Australia’s colonial past, which has held them in a conspiracy of silence?

the silence, susan allott, thriller, debut, bestseller, fiction, borough press, australia

I really enjoy taking part in Random Things as it definitely makes sure that my bookshelf is always crammed full of books that I can’t wait to read. The Silence was one of those books that I got totally caught up in as it was so different to what I was expecting; it really caught me off guard. It was so much more than your average ‘disappearance’ story and really made me think about the ‘Stolen Generation’ and resolve to find out more about this shameful part of Australian history.

I love novels that deal with family relationships and how different generations interact and the complexities that lurk beneath the surfaces of most families’ lives.  As soon as I started reading it,  I wanted to find out how these family members’ lives would unfold when Isla returns to Australia and got totally caught up in this journey into her past. I loved the initial premise of Mandy’s disappearance but I found the rest of this story much more engrossing once I’d started: I really wanted to get to the heart of this story and discover more about the way that these Aboriginal children were wrenched from their families and the impact that these policies had on real people and their real lives.

brown lake under blue sky

I also enjoyed the way that Susan Allott’s novel allows us to see the reality of families and the complexity of relationships, rather than just skate over the surface in pursuit of plot that we are so often presented with in fiction and I think that this is one of the things that I enjoyed most about this book. The way that Steve struggles with the challenges of participating in this brutal and heartless initiative is exceptionally well drawn and a testament to her skill as a writer that we really believe in his response and see that the impact of this initiative was far wider reaching that I could ever have imagined.

The way that Allott builds in the layers to this story about what’s really going on beneath the surface and slowly develops our understanding of what is going on in the heads of these characters is convincingly done and leads to you feeling like you can really start to understand them as people. Islas’s journey is an emotional as well as a literal one and we start to see things in a different way as she starts to reach back into her past and see the perspectives she missed as a child and wonder exactly how much was being kept from her and what exactly lies behind the silence surounding the past.

the silence, susan allott, thriller, debut, bestseller, fiction, borough press, australia

The Silence is a fascinating and immersive read as it takes us on a journey into an aspect of history that isn’t talked about enough, but in a way that never feels ‘worthy’ or sermonising. It allows us to think about big questions about trust and secrecy whilst propelling us along with a gripping narrative that never lets go. I was totally captivated by these characters and found myself thinking about their interconnected relationships and the way that the past can cast its shadow on the future and test us in ways we could never have imagined. I could not believe it’s a debut and I’m really excited to see what she does next.

the silence, susan allott, thriller, debut, bestseller, fiction, borough press, australia

I always enjoy a book much more if I’m not hyping myself up before I read it and The Silence was exactly that. It was definitely a book that sneaked up on me and drew me in and I found myself thinking about these characters and the repercussions of Isla’s journey back to her past whilst driving to work and getting ready for our return to school. I will definitely seek out more books by Susan Allott and am recommending it to everyone in my Wine Library Book Club too. If you enjoy a mystery with a difference then you will absolutely love The Silence. It’s my debut of the summer so far and I think that it’ll be a hard one to beat.

Treat yourself to a copy of The Silence here and get a copy for yourself this summer.

the silence, susan allott, thriller, debut, bestseller, fiction, borough press, australia

Writer on The Shelf

Susan Allott is from the UK but spent part of her twenties in Australia, desperately homesick but trying to make Sydney her home. In 2016 she completed the Faber Academy course, during which she started writing this novel. She now lives in south London with her two children and her very Australian husband.

TheTwins of Auchwitz

The Nazis spared their lives because they were twins.

In the summer of 1944, Eva Mozes Kor and her family arrived at Auschwitz.

Within thirty minutes, they were separated. Her parents and two older sisters were taken to the gas chambers, while Eva and her twin, Miriam, were herded into the care of the man who became known as the Angel of Death: Dr. Josef Mengele. They were 10 years old.

While twins at Auschwitz were granted the ‘privileges’ of keeping their own clothes and hair, they were also subjected to Mengele’s sadistic medical experiments. They were forced to fight daily for their own survival and many died as a result of the experiments, or from the disease and hunger rife in the concentration camp.

In a narrative told simply, with emotion and astonishing restraint, The Twins of Auschwitz shares the inspirational story of a child’s endurance and survival in the face of truly extraordinary evil.

Also included is an epilogue on Eva’s incredible recovery and her remarkable decision to publicly forgive the Nazis. Through her museum and her lectures, she dedicated her life to giving testimony on the Holocaust, providing a message of hope for people who have suffered, and worked toward goals of forgiveness, peace, and the elimination of hatred and prejudice in the world.

A heart-stopping account of what Eva & Miriam endured from the Nazis: The Twins of Auschwitz is also a life-affirming celebration of our capacity to move forward with grace and empathy after experiencing inconceivable cruelty.

The Twins of Auschwitz is one of the most humbling and devastating books I’ve ever read and I’m so grateful to have been invited onto the blogtour to hear it and learn from Eva’s incredible story of resilience and survival. It allows us a real insight into the many thousands of people across the world who lost everything,  fled their homes and went through unimaginable suffering at the hands of the Nazis and the Angel of Death, Mengele himself. The fact that there have been a swathe of Auschwitz books of late should not deter you from picking this up – it’s by far the best one I’ve read in the last few years and really stands out through Eva’s strong narrative voice, guiding you through the hell she endured with grace and dignity. I didn’t know much about the Mengele Twins before reading this book and I think that Eva’s book reinforces the fact that we must keep talking about these things if we wish to ensure that it never happens again.

open gray wooden door

This unforgettable and affecting read allows us an unforgettable insight into the lives of these twin girls, Eva and Miriam whilst we see at close hand the devastating impact of the Holocaust from the perspective of someone who’s lived it. Auschwitz is brought vividly to life as a place full of people just trying to survive. These girls’ experience as young women at the hands of these people bonds them together even more closely as their jailors try to eradicate every last thread of compassion and humanity from those that they have incarcerated.

metal bar

The twins spring to life from the page and remain in your heart long after you’ve finished–  it’s impossible to close the final page of this book and  not feel a strong connection to Eva and a real sense of loss for all the other people she endured these privations with and who are not still here to tell their story. I was painfully aware all the time I was reading it that Eva’s story is one voice out of the many thousands of women who walked through those gateways and never returned  – and I could not stop thinking about those who did survive but sometimes wished that they hadn’t.


The difficult and challenging thing whilst you are reading a book such as this is that it is packed full of real stories of suffering and human endurance that are still happening in some places across the world.  The power of the narrative with its simple lyrical words to convey such powerful truths is an important part of why this novel has stuck with me and why I really think that you should read it too. The book is published in the year of the 75th Anniversary of the camp’s liberation, but even though all of this time has passed, these sisters are very much still alive in my mind and I can’t forget their story. Those of you who read my blog know that I often go off and do my research after reading a book I’ve absolutely loved and I was fascinated to read about this tale and discover some more shocking details of what these girls must have gone through – Read about it here

pile of assorted-color leather shoes

This is an important read and I can’t recommend it highly enough. A powerful insight into the strength of sibling love, suffering and the lengths we will go to to protect the things that are most important to us. This is not an easy read, but it’s a very important one and it’s one that I unreservedly recommend. The epilogue describing Eva’s decision to forgive, move forwards and try to bring hope to others is truly humbling and I will definitely try and use some of it in school when we are teaching The Holocaust. I am so grateful that I got the chance to read it and have really learned a lot from Eva’s honest, heartfelt and moving narrative. Read about her Candle Organisation here and find out about her lifelong work to inspire others.

Buy yourself a copy here and make sure that you follow the rest of the tour to hear the thoughts of the other bloggers on this Random Things Tour. Thanks as ever to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the tour and ensuring that my bedside shelf is forever groaning under the weight of her fabulous recommendations.

Writer On The Shelf


EVA MOZES KOR was a resident of Terre Haute, Indiana.

Following her survival of Auschwitz, she became a recognised speaker, both nationally and internationally, on topics related to the Holocaust and social justice.

\Eva created the CANDLES organisation in 1985 to locate other Mengele twins and found 122 twins across the world. Ten years later, she opened the CANDLES Holocaust Museum to educate the public about the historic event she survived.

A community leader, champion of human rights, and tireless educator, Eva has been covered in numerous media outlets and is the subject of a documentary, Forgiving Dr. Mengele. She passed away in 2019. 

The Night Swim

Ever since her true-crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall has become a household name – and the last hope for people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognised for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.

The new season of Rachel’s podcast has brought her to a small town being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. A local golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season 3 a success, Rachel throws herself into her investigation – but the mysterious letters keep coming. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insist she was murdered – and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody in town wants to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases – and a revelation that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.

The Night Swim

If I were to tell you that I love a True Crime podcast, it’d be a huge understatement – I devour them all and am currently engrossed in ‘Cold’ which is absolutely gripping. I absolutely loved The Escape Room and I’m happy to say that The Night Swim absolutely lived up to my level of anticipation. Megan Goldin has a real knack for creating a story that you absolutely believe in and The Night Swim is no exception. I could not put it down.

I love the way that Rachel’s voice is as appealing on the page as it seems to be in her podcast and draws us into her tale through a steady accumulation of detail, just like you would in real life. I’m a real true-crime junkie and this definitely filled the gap that Serial, S-Town and Making a Murderer have left in my life. Rachel is a character that you really feel comes alive as you uncover more and more details about the crime she becomes wrapped up in and you are definitely committed as she is to see how these two crimes interconnect by the time you near the ending.   In the same way that I felt a strong connection with some of the characters in my true crime podcasts, I really felt like I’d come to know Rachel and her family history by the final page and although I’m firmly committed to my ‘No Spoilers’ rule, I can’t wait to have a good chat with someone else who’s read it so that we can talk over it together, just like I love to do with a real podcast…

man in water during daytime
The Night Swim

I also liked the way that like the very best True Crime podcasts – Goldin allows space for our own feelings and responses. Rachel’s actions and reactions are not tied up in a neat little package with the ‘why’ on top. There is enough room for us to ask ourselves questions about who we believe and why we are inclined to do so that makes The Night Swim such an involving and ultimately rewarding experience.  I found myself genuinely being convinced to see things from a constantly shifting perspective as the novel bore me towards the conclusion and this was a rollercoaster ride that I definitely didn’t want to get off…

This book has a little bit of everything – mystery, social commentary on some very topical elements of the #MeToo dialogue, a ‘true crime’ feel, a fresh and interesting narrative structure, credible characters and a real sense of chill and menace. As you can probably tell, I loved this book and love the idea that even though Neapolis is a fictional construct, some of the events described here are sadly far from fictional representations in the world that we all live in. It is a book that you’ll want to pass on to other people so that they’ll have had the same experience you did, reading it for the first time. Megan Goldin could be your favourite new writer. Buy yourself a copy here so that you can find out how brilliant it is for yourself

condenser microphone with black background

I’d like to thank the lovely Mel Sambells from Mirror Books for inviting me to take part in the blog tour, it was fantastic to be able to enjoy a true crime podcast in a wholly new way and I feel like this book is going to be a real word-of-mouth hit as it’s so addictive and twisty. Check out the reviews below if I haven’t convinced you & make sure that you follow the rest of the bloggers on the Tour.

“The pages turn themselves…a sleek, well-crafted ride to a surprisingly twisty conclusion.” —New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice

“THE ESCAPE ROOM works as the ultimate locked-room mystery…Goldin excels at illustrating the pressures of a Wall Street career.” —Associated Press

“Addicting.” —Time Magazine

High wire tension from the first moment to the last. Four ruthless people locked in a deadly game where victory means survival. Gripping and unforgettable! —Harlan Coben

Fantastic. One of my favorite books of the year. —Lee Child

Amazing…a thriller set in an elevator [that explores] the vast territory of people’s worst natures. A nightmarish look inside ourselves. Simply riveting. —Louise Penny

“A shrewd, brilliantly structured thriller doubling as a takedown of corporate culture.” —Shelf Awareness

“There is clearly no happy ending likely for the four colleagues trapped inside [the escape room]; but fans of JP Delany and Ruth Ware will want to be right in there with them…a nail-biting tale of a corporate team-building exercise gone horribly wrong.” —Booklist

“Riveting…[a] tale of greed and revenge set on Wall Street…Thriller fans will eagerly turn the pages to see what happens next.” —Publishers Weekly

“Cancel all your plans and call in sick; once you start reading, you’ll be caught in your own escape room–the only key to freedom is turning the last page!” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Smart and compelling… I devoured this novel!” –Karen Cleveland, bestselling author of Need to Know

Writer On The Shelf

MEGAN GOLDIN worked as a correspondent for Reuters and other media outlets where she covered war, peace, international terrorism and financial meltdowns in the Middle East and Asia. She is now based in Melbourne, Australia where she raises three sons and is a foster mum to Labrador puppies learning to be guide dogs. The Escape Room was her debut novel.

We Are All the Same in the Dark

It’s been a decade since the town’s sweetheart Trumanell Branson disappeared, leaving only a bloody handprint behind.

Since her disappearance, Tru’s brother, Wyatt, has lived as an outcast, desperate to know what happened to his sister.

So when Wyatt finds a lost girl, he believes she is a sign.

But for new cop, Odette Tucker, this girl’s appearance reopens old wounds.

Determined to solve both cases, Odette fights to save a lost girl in the present and in doing so digs up a shocking truth about that fateful night in the past . . .

I read this fantastic read lying in the hot sun in my garden last week and the soaring temperature almost made me feel like I was in small town Texas myself for the day… All I needed was a few summer recipes from that Betty Crocker cookbook and I’d definitely feel like I was reading it on location.


We Are All The Same In The Dark is a fascinating and immersive read, describing the life in this town that has the gritty reality of any hard bitten southern noir writing with a sprinkle of something a little more ‘offkey’ and leftfield to spice things up. Some people are giving it a ‘Twin Peaks’ vibe, I’m saying imagine The Loney, but set in Texas for that off-kilter vibe of something a little different running just beneath the surface of this town. I love this kind of novel, where I finish it and end up thinking about its twists and turns for hours, looking at maps and photos of the real settings and trying to follow the elusive threads backwards through my remembered narrative and see where I was being led along the way.

red Texas store signage

Julia Heaberlin’s novel had me absolutely gripped as policewoman Odette Tucker is plunged into a complex case that will test every last bone in her body as she has to investigate the case of a ‘found’ girl, whose story is so interwoven with the history of this town and Odette’s own past that we are quickly drawn in to untangle the truths from the many strands of half remembered and rumoured sides to this story. Odette’s own involvement with the events that went on that fateful night at the Branson place and the shadows this has cast over her own life made for many intriguing possibilities as to who Angel is and what her connections are to Wyatt and Odette herself. I loved the character of Odette and I found it easy to connect with her grit and determination as she battles to overcome the many obstacles that she has to endure in a town where the simple truth is very often anything but…

brown and blue leather cowboy boots on rack

If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I really love a novel where you get involved with the experiences and feelings of more than one character. I think that Heaberlin is equally skilled at portraying the characters of Odette, Angel, our found girl, and Wyatt and his missing sister Trumanell whose disappearance a decade ago connects all the elements of this story together – the vivid writing means that all of these characters engage the reader and they spring to life off the page. Julia Haeberlin paints a vivid portrait of their interconnectedness whilst maintaining their integrity as characters and agents in their own right and I truly felt like they came alive for me as I read the book. I hate including spoilers so all I’ll say is that Odette’s determination makes her stand out, in a location and career where women trying to assert themselves is definitely a risky proposition and there are several tense moments when your heart will definitely be in your mouth.

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The way that Heaberlin brings the mysterious ways that these flawed and complex characters’ lives connect so vividly to life on the page made me totally lose myself in this fantastic read. I couldn’t tear myself away from the heat and the tense expectant atmosphere as we wonder exactly who we are dealing with and how this case will ever be solved. This lends We Are All The Same In The Dark an added poignancy and made me remember that even though this is a novel, the stories it tells were very much a reality for the families of the missing, the murdered and the lost – and the impact on a community of events like this are true crime stories for some, but a harsh and heartbreaking reality for others who have to deal with the Hobson’s choice of years of uncertainty versus the brutal reality of finding out the gruesome details of your loved one’s murder…

brown mountain under blue sky during daytime

If you love a crime novel with a twist and enjoy being totally immersed in a powerful and vivid narrative which challenges you and makes you pay attention to the small details then you’ll love We Are All The Same In The Dark. It’s a powerful story and I found myself quite emotional as it drew to a close, knowing as I did that even though Tru, Wyatt, Angel and Odette were fictional characters, they really lived for me whilst I was lost in their story. I will definitely look out for more from Julia Heaberlin, as the balance of an unforgettably atmospheric setting, wonderful characterisation and emotional punch was a winning combination for me.

Julia Heaberlin introduces We Are All the Same in the Dark at ...

I would like to thank Ella Watkins from Michael Joseph for inviting me to participate in the blog tour – I am a huge Southern Crime fanatic and have already suggested this novel to several friends as an essential holiday read. – I’ll definitely be looking out for the other blog posts to see what my fellow bloggers thought of this emotional and memorable tale.

Buy yourself a copy here and join the tour to experience its incredible writing for yourself I’m away to order Black Eyed Susans as I missed it first time around and just love her writing!

‘What a phenomenal book. The author doesn’t just give you a mystery to solve but a mesmerizing story with people who get into your soul. Poetic, gut-wrenching, suspenseful’ 5***** Reader Review

‘This story sucked me in and spit me out. Captivating, suspenseful and heart-wrenching. The characters grab you and don’t let go‘ 5***** Reader Review

‘Julia does it again! Brilliant, extraordinary, captivating. The excitability of this book pulls you into each page right along with Odette to solve the mystery. This is a must read‘ 5***** Reader Review

‘I devoured every page. A disturbing, sad and moving mystery’ 5***** Reader Review

‘Captivating from start to finish’ 5***** Reader Review

‘A fantastic psychological thriller. Julia knows how to write disturbing characters that will have you questioning their motives and capabilities right up until the end’ 5***** Reader Review

‘Twisty and atmospheric’ Prima

Writer On The Shelf

Julia Heaberlin (@juliathrillers) | Twitter

Julia Heaberlin is an award-winning journalist who has worked for the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, The Detroit News and The Dallas Morning News. She has edited numerous real-life thriller stories, including a series on the perplexing and tragic murders of girls buried in the Mexican desert and another on domestic violence. She lives with her husband and son in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, where she is a freelance writer and novelist. Black Eyed Susans was a Sunday Times top five bestseller.

Blacktop Wasteland Review

Beauregard “Bug” Montage: honest mechanic, loving husband, devoted parent. He’s no longer the criminal he once was – the sharpest wheelman on the east coast, infamous from the hills of North Carolina to the beaches of Florida.

But when his respectable life begins to crumble, a shady associate comes calling with a clean, one-time job: a diamond heist promising a get-rich payout. Inexorably drawn to the driver’s seat – and haunted by the ghost of his outlaw father – Bug is yanked back into a savage world of bullets and betrayal, which soon endangers all he holds dear…

Like Breaking Bad in a high-speed collision with Drive, this stunning crime novel holds up a cracked mirror to the woozy ideals of the American dream – a dazzling, operatic story of a man pushed to his limits by poverty, race and a scarred, self-destructive masculinity.

Blacktop Wasteland S. A. Cosby

After reading the extremely tempting blurb, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Blacktop Wasteland and, just as I suspected, I loved the main character – the legend that is Bug Montage. After hearing his writing described as both ” gritty and heartbreaking ” and ” dark, thrilling and tragic ” I couldn’t wait to grab a slice of this southern noir with a twist and experience it for myself.

When Bug is offered a one-time deal from his former murky associate, he is plunged back headlong into another intriguing case – with a link to his past and his father that was very intriguing. It must be so difficult for crime writers to keep coming up with fresh and exciting ‘cases to crack’ and I think that this is one of the aspects of S.A Cosby’s writing that is gathering the most acclaim. You really feel like you get a deep dive into the case with Bug and his somewhat unorthodox way of proceeding with things really sets him apart as a protagonist.

I hate spoilers, so I don’t want to dwell too long on the plot of Blacktop Wasteland as I want you to be able to experience all the twists and turns for yourself – suffice to say that the skilful way that Cosby weaves the many and disparate elements of this case into the narrative is superbly done and remains convincing throughout. I know at times it can feel like the fictional world is saturated with detectives with complicated back stories but the comparisons with Breaking Bad and Emore Leonard are absolutely deserved and I defy you to get beyond the fourth page and not be locked in for the ride!

Blacktop Wasteland S. A. Cosby

I loved the way that this novel wove many threads together – a convincing detective story, a look at what it means to be a man in a changing world, an examination of race and the impact it has on justice and the way that this os served in contemporary America – and I also enjoyed the references to fatherhood in this novel that definitely made me resolve to read more texts that look at parent/ child relationships from a male perspective and ask us to think about the ties that bind us and the connections we sometimes find impossible to maintain.

Blacktop Wasteland S. A. Cosby

Blacktop Wasteland is definitely one of those novels that stays with you long after closing its final page and one that I will definitely be recommending to my friends – it packs a powerful punch and never lets up in terms of maintaining its cracking pace and pitch perfect rendition of Virginia until you’ve closed its final chapter.   I can’t wait to see what  Cosby does next. I’m a sucker for a fantastically written crime read and Bug is one of my favourite new crime writing creations. I can’t wait to see where this series goes and heartily recommend it for anyone who is bored of generic crime novels and thirsting for something really different .  Away and treat yourself – You’ll thank me for it.

How To Do a Virginia DMV Change of Address |

“A fast-paced, fresh take on noir that tears through the underbelly of Virginia.”
―New York Times

“One of the year’s strongest novels. 
The noir story quickly accelerates and doesn’t lose speed until it careens to its finale. It’s a look at race, responsibility, parenthood and identity via pin-perfect characters with realistic motives. Cosby invests Blacktop Wasteland with emotion while delivering a solid thriller.”

“Violence-tinged heists, muscle cars, and dead-end poverty in America generate the full-on action and evocative atmosphere in this beautifully wrought tale.”
―Boston Globe

“S.A. Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland is the buzz book of the summer, and for good reason―this nailbiter of a thriller has everything, including road chases, fast cars, robberies gone south, carefully calibrated underworld shenanigans, standoff after standoff, and some deep family bonds.”

Cosby never misses a note in this high-energy readA superb work of crime fiction, uncompromisingly noir but deeply human, too, much like Lou Berney’s November Road (2018).”
Booklist, starred review

Blacktop Wasteland is an urgent, timely, pitch-perfect jolt of American noir. S. A. Cosby is a welcome, refreshing new voice in crime literature.”

―Dennis Lehane, bestselling author of Since We Fell and Mystic River

“Diamonds and fast cars, trailer park dreams and late night illegal street racing, S. A. Cosby reinvents the American crime novel. Black and white with bills unpaid and no exit in sight, his characters feel the pull of family and swagger with the melancholy ache of wanting to be someone. Blacktop Wasteland thrums and races―it’s an intoxicating thrill of a ride.”
―Walter Mosley, bestselling author of Trouble Is What I Do

“Sensationally good―new, fresh, real, authentic, twisty, with characters and dilemmas that will break your heart. 
More than recommended.”
―Lee Child, bestselling author of Blue Moon

“For fans of: BullittThe Fast and the Furious and gritty Elmore Leonard-style noir…[Cosby] never lets up on the gas. The result is a high-octane, white-knuckle thriller that will have readers whipping through the pages at breakneck speed…Cosby’s tightfisted prose fuels this story with heart-pumping (and often brutal) action that begs to be adapted for the big screen but never loses its compassionate edge.”

“High-octane neo-noir thriller…The gritty, brutal narrative is complemented by the author’s sublime use of sensory description and regional imagery. In addition, the epic, jaw-dropping chase sequences that figure prominently are reason alone to read this pedal-to-the-metal but profoundly sorrowful novel. Cosby is definitely a writer to watch.”
Publishers Weekly

“Beautifully wrought and worthy of envy…Call shotgun, and then buckle up. Blacktop Wasteland is a ride that will stick with you long after the engine has cooled.”

We’re in Elmore Leonard land…Bug’s got a conscience not typical of the thriller genre, but other than that, this novel recalls almost perfectly the classic heist thriller in the vein of Richard Stark’s “Parker” novelsIt’ll go like hot cakes.”
―Library Journalstarred review

“It’s fitting Blacktop Wasteland opens with a drag race. This is the literary equivalent of a muscle car―sleek, a little dangerous, and when it kicks into gear, you hold on for dear life. Lucky for you, Cosby is an expert wheelman.”
―Rob Hart, bestselling author of The Warehouse