The Secret Keeper of Jaipur Blog Tour

In New York Times bestselling author Alka Joshi’s intriguing new novel, henna artist Lakshmi arranges for her protégé, Malik, to intern at the Jaipur Palace in this tale rich in character, atmosphere, and lavish storytelling.

It’s the spring of 1969, and Lakshmi, now married to Dr. Jay Kumar, directs the Healing Garden in Shimla. Malik has finished his private school education. At twenty, he has just met a young woman named Nimmi when he leaves to apprentice at the Facilities Office of the Jaipur Royal Palace. Their latest project: a state-of-the-art cinema.

Malik soon finds that not much has changed as he navigates the Pink City of his childhood. Power and money still move seamlessly among the wealthy class, and favours flow from Jaipur’s Royal Palace, but only if certain secrets remain buried. When the cinema’s balcony tragically collapses on opening night, blame is placed where it is convenient. But Malik suspects something far darker and sets out to uncover the truth. As a former street child, he always knew to keep his own counsel; it’s a lesson that will serve him as he untangles a web of lies.


Fans of an epic read that transports you to another place and time and immerses you in a completely unfamiliar culture and setting will adore this stunning historical read based in Jaipur, the stunning ‘Pink City’ and somewhere I have always wanted to travel to and see with my own eyes. Needless to say, after reading this book, I’m even more desperate to see it for myself and think that this would be a perfect staycation read as you’re able to vicariously experience somewhere so stunnning for yourself, without breaking the travel ban…

Maybe it was because I am stuck at home rather than being able to dust off my travelling bags and head off to explore somewhere unfamiliar and exotic that 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 and it didn’t put me off that I hadn’t read ‘The Henna Artist’. It feels like Alka Joshi has done her utmost to make sure that The Secret Keeper of Jaipur can be enjoyed as a standalone. The book starts with a helpful index of all of the characters and the novel goes backwards and forwards in time so that you can get a sense of the back story withiout feeling lost. I was delighted to be invited on the tour by Anne Cater from Random Things Tours and found myself absolutely intrigued by this fasciniating insight into this setting and the story that unfolded through its pages of a beautiful city and the characters that live and love there…

red concrete building

This book whisked me off to this stunning location where we become wholly wrapped up in the story of Lakshmi, Nimmi and Malik. The fact that they live in completely different versions of the city and come from very different ends of the social divide made for fascinating reading and it was so interesting to see the culture of the villages come to life as we travel to Shimla and see a very different perspective from life within the confines of the city. I found this so fasinating and this really added to 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 these characters stories As an outsider, Malik has a perceptive view of the wealth and luxury enjoyed by the upper classes of Jaipur and it is where the writing truly shines as we get to see the streets, the jewels, the buildings and the busy streets spring to life in stunningly vivid prose that makes you feel like you could be there right alongside these characters.

beige concrete building under blue sky during daytime

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. I thought the contrasts between the Himalayas and Jaipur were really well delineated and we get a sense of the vastness of India and how different places can be from one another both in terms of terrain but also culturally. I really want to visit Shimla now and walk in their footsteps and can imagine the sights and sounds perfectly, even though they are so different from rural Dunblane…

city near mountain under blue sky during daytime

This novel presents this period of history in a fresh original way which makes you feel like you understand each of these characters’ perspectives equally. It has made me determined to read The Henna Artist this summer and go back and explore Laksmi’s past in more detail which will feel a bit like time travelling. She feels very much like a real person, despite the distance of time between us and you feel really caught up in her story. This is a really unique novel which has to be experienced to truly realise how special it is. I’d love to see it on the silver screen and see this fascinating tale unfold in such a beautiful setting – it really feels like an epic and you can bathe your senses in it as you read and feel the sights sounds and smells of India wash over you as you begin to see beneath the privilege and beauty and find out about the nepotism and corruption that lurk beneath the glittering pink facades…

city with high rise buildings during sunset

Alka Joshi is certainly a talented writer – and I really enjoyed researching more about Shimla and Jaipur online after I’d finished reading the book. You will be fascinated to uncover all that is going on beneath the surface and I defy anyone to finish this book and not want to read more by this writer immediately.Your relationship with the characters builds and builds as you experience the challenges and barriers that they face and you will be rooting for them as they all endeavour t overcome their individual challenges from the mountainous pathways of the Himalayas to the shimmering palaces of the Pink City itself.

brown and white concrete building during daytime

This is a book that I know I’ll be recommending to lots of readers as I was totally immersed in its characters, its stunning sense of place and the way it really allowed me to connect with its characters. I think that this would make an excellent Book Group read as it would be sure to provoke lots and lots of discussion about a nation and culture that most people don’t know very much about…

Treat yourself to a copy and discover this epic and fascinating story for yourself


“With its beautifully complex cast of characters, THE SECRET KEEPER OF JAIPUR plunges readers back into the sumptuous world of THE HENNA ARTIST, where power, money, and secrets abound — and where carefully cultivated reputations balance on the knife edge of influence.”–Bryn Turnbull, bestselling author of The Woman Before Wallis

“In this timeless tale of loyalty, ambition, and love, Joshi explores what it means to create and build–from architectural marvels to chosen families–in a way that not only endures but inspires.”– Nancy Jooyoun Kim, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Story of Mina Lee



New York Times Bestseller * Los Angeles Times Bestseller * USA Today Bestseller * Toronto Star Bestseller * Globe & Mail Bestseller * Indie Bookstores Bestseller *Longlisted: First Novel, Center for Fiction * Amazon Summer 2020 Readers Pick * Goodreads Finalist Choice Awards 2020: Best Debut Novel & Best Historical Fiction * Indigo 10 Best Books of 2020 * Cosmopolitan Best Audiobooks of 2020 * BookRiot Best Books of 2020

“Captivated me from the first chapter to the last page.”
–Reese Witherspoon

“Romantic, old-time Rajasthan leaps to life… I can hardly wait for Alka Joshi’s next masterpiece.” –Sujata Massey, internationally bestselling author of The Widows of Malabar Hill

“Rich in detail and bright with tastes and textures, . ..a fabulous glimpse into Indian culture of the 1950s.”–Bookpage, Starred Review

“Eloquent debut…moving… Joshi masterfully balances a yearning for self-discovery with the need for familial love.” –Publishers Weekly

“Joshi has constructed a bewitching glimpse into the past with a tough heroine well worth cheering on.”–Booklist

“Vibrant characters, evocative imagery, and sumptuous prose create an unforgetable tale.”–Christian Science Monitor

Writer On The Shelf

Alka Joshi is a graduate of Stanford University and received her MFA from the California College of the Arts. She has worked as an advertising copywriter, a marketing consultant and an illustrator. Alka was born in India, in the state of Rajasthan. Her family moved to the USA when she was nine, and she now lives on California’s Monterey Peninsula with her husband and two misbehaving pups. The Secret Keeper of Jaipur is her second novel.

Visit her website and blog at



At the centre of Foregone is famed Canadian American leftist documentary filmmaker Leonard Fife, one of sixty thousand draft evaders and deserters who fled to Canada to avoid serving in Vietnam. Fife, now in his late seventies, is dying of cancer in Montreal and has agreed to a final interview in which he is determined to bare all his secrets at last, to demythologize his mythologized life. The interview is filmed by his acolyte and ex-star student, Malcolm MacLeod, in the presence of Fife’s wife and alongside Malcolm’s producer, cinematographer, and sound technician, all of whom have long admired Fife but who must now absorb the meaning of his astonishing, dark confession.

contemporary American literature; literary fiction; Vietnam War; draft evaders; war resisters

Imaginatively structured around Fife’s secret memories and alternating between the experiences of the characters who are filming his confession, the novel challenges our assumptions and understanding about a significant lost chapter in American history and the nature of memory itself. Russell Banks gives us a daring and resonant work about the scope of one man’s mysterious life, revealed through the fragments of his recovered past.

contemporary American literature; literary fiction; Vietnam War; draft evaders; war resisters

Thank you to Hollie McDevitt from Oldcastle Books for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review, and for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

Anyone who reads my blog occasionally knows that I have a deep love of non-fiction and adore being introduced to fiction that reads like fact. I loved the the way that we really believe in Fife abd completely understad Macleod’s determination to fathom the meaning in his work.  I am a huge fan of documentary filmmaking and reading this gave me a unique insight into the process and hw all-consuming a career like this can be. I was absolutely delighted when Hollie wrote to me to ask if I’d like to be on the blog tour – and I’m happy to report that I enjoyed it every bit as much as I was anticipating.

contemporary American literature; literary fiction; Vietnam War; draft evaders; war resisters

This book tells the tale of Malcolm MacLeod’s determination to investigate all the long buried skeletons in Fife’s closet and see how close he can get to the truth, turning creator and ex-teacher into subject for once in his life as the lens is turned upon him. Fife’s life story unravels across a time of great upheaval in American history and the backdrop of this adds a great deal of richness and texture to the novel as it plays out in fromt of us.

contemporary American literature; literary fiction; Vietnam War; draft evaders; war resisters

The interview that he insists is also attended by his wife is quite a different one to the expected event and what unfolds across the event is a series of reflections and revelations that leave both the reader and Macleod reeling as they realise that they are the subjects of this event, rather than Fife himself, and the great creator has dreamed up a final set piece that none of them had ever anticipated…

contemporary American literature; literary fiction; Vietnam War; draft evaders; war resisters

Fife’s own set piece comes now he knows that he is dying and there can be no come back or repercussions – his last blast is a chance to air things knowing that he will not be around for too long to witness the repercissions or fsallout from this session and there’s nothing like a feeling of having nothing to lose to allow the floodgates to open wide, and they most certainly do…

contemporary American literature; literary fiction; filmmaker; Vietnam War; draft evaders

I loved the writing in this novels and found myself wishing at several points across the novel that Fife was real and I could learn more about him in real life. He is not someone who I think I’d have had much time for in real life, but his body of work sounds really inyteresting. was glad to have had a week of holidays to really enjoy the prose here and bask in the syory as it unfolded. An original and thought provoking read that will be an ideal book group choice – you could have hours of discussion about the way that we represent ‘truth’ and how honest a biography or autobiography can ever be, when human fallibility and our determination to curate our own lives and edit things out for our own purposes gets in the way

Buy yourself a copy here

Foregone by [Russell Banks]

‘As always, Banks’ prose has remarkable force to it… there is such brio in the writing… that we follow Fife into the depths. The book’s real theme is the curse of being convinced that one is unlovable. And who among us hasn’t suffered that conviction to one degree or another’ – New York Times Book Review

Foregone is, by far, the most cunningly metafictional novel of the author’s career… Banks is one of the most sociologically minded of contemporary American authors… he is still working at the height of his powers… a tale of deep grace and significance… If Foregone turns out to be Banks’s final novel (and, given its many strengths, one hopes not), it is a profoundly compelling valedictory’ – Los Angeles Review of Books

‘Gripping, human, beautifully written – Foregone is there with the best of Russell Banks’ work. I loved it’ – Roddy Doyle

‘Only Russell Banks could make a novel about how memory is created and edited such a thrilling and unputdownable masterpiece’ – Joseph O’Connor

Foregone is a subtle meditation on a life composed of half-forgotten impulses and their endless consequences, misapprehensions of others that are accepted and exploited almost passively, a minor heroism that is only enhanced by demurral. In the rages of a sick old man profound questions arise – what is a life? A self? And what is lost when truth destroys the fabrications that sustain other lives?’ – Marilynne Robinson

‘During a career stretching almost half a century, Russell Banks has published an extraordinary collection of brave, morally imperative novels. The same marrow-delving impulse runs through them all… He traces the forces that influence whole societies as deftly as he explores the impulses that drive ordinary people… a remarkably fluid use of prose to represent the experience of delirium while wrestling to the final moments with the challenge of absolution… in this complex and powerful novel, we come face to face with the excruciating allure of redemption’ – Washington Post

‘Russell Banks is, word for word, idea for idea, one of the great American novelists’ – Colum McCann

‘Vibrant new novel by a grand man of American letters… Banks’ crystalline storytelling is both one man’s deathbed quest to grasp his own life and a pure pleasure to read’ – Oprah Mag, The most anticipated books of 2021

Writer On the Shelf

Russell Banks, twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize with his novels Cloudsplitter and Continental Drift, is one of America’s most prestigious fiction writers, a past president of the International Parliament of Writers, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been translated into twenty languages and has received numerous prizes and awards, including the Common Wealth Award for Literature. He lives in upstate New York and Miami, Florida.

Good Company Blog Tour

Flora Mancini has been happily married for more than twenty years. But everything she thought she knew about herself, her marriage, and her relationship with her best friend, Margot, is upended when she stumbles upon an envelope containing her husband’s wedding ring—the one he claimed he lost one summer when their daughter, Ruby, was five.

Flora and Julian struggled for years, scraping together just enough acting work to raise Ruby in Manhattan and keep Julian’s small theater company—Good Company—afloat. A move to Los Angeles brought their first real career successes, a chance to breathe easier, and a reunion with Margot, now a bona fide television star. But has their new life been built on lies? What happened that summer all those years ago? And what happens now

With Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s signature tenderness, humor, and insight, Good Company tells a bighearted story of the lifelong relationships that both wound and heal us.

I absolutely adore books set in the theatre world, ever since I fell in love with ‘The Swish of the Curtain’ in 1982, I’ve been a huge fan of books that immersed me in the smell of greasepaint, that allowed me to vicariously tread the boards alongside the characters – and this thought provoking and atmospheric read drew me in from the very first paragraph and held me captivated by its Hollywood setting and fantastically realised characters until its very final page.

two bronze-colored rings

A wedding ring that mysteriously reappears, a long-awaited rise to fame and some long buried secrets – I mean – what’s not to love. These were some of the many reasons that I was so drawn to Good Company and why I’m so grateful to Anne Cater from Random Things for inviting me to participate in this blog tour – as this book was definitely right up my street!

I love immersing myself in a book that makes me feel part of its characters’ lives as they unfold and it is wonderful to be in such safe hands. Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney is a writer that I discovered through The Nest which I absolutely loved and it’s really exciting to hear that we might be seeing it on screen soon. I feel that Good Company would also be amazing to see on screen and would love to be there casting Flora, Julian & Margot if I got half the chance…

four reel films lying on white table

Because of her skill in creating such a beatifully realised version of the Manhattan theatre set and the Hollywood vibe,  you feel like you can totally surrender to this reading experience and spend a few days in a totally different world!  I really felt like I could imagine this glamorous world and found it very difficult to detach myself from this immersive reading experience and deal with the daily routine of washing and ironing when I could be ‘on set’ or navigating the complications of a 21st century marriage right there alongside Flora …

Is anyone else like me and love to go online and immerse themselves in the world of the book that they’re loving, to try and really place themselves in the characters’ world? I love doing it and I found myself scrolling through pages and pages of tales of Manhattan theatre companies and looking at Broadway shows both past and present and sneaking off to the Hollywood hillls virtually to imagine myself there – it was a wonderful opportunity to escape from everything that’s going on in the world at the moment and has made me determined to visit New York and Hollywood once I can and walk in some of the places that these characters inhabit for myself.

Hollywood, California

It was lovely to lose myself in a fantastic ‘people based’ read after a few months where I’ve been mostly reading non-fiction.  It’s funny that I get into reading zones and I’m now on a real summer fiction mission and have been drawn to books like this that explore relationships, allegiances and the way that friendships and connections can be affected by undercurrents that only some of the people in the situation are aware of or can see. The relationship here between the four people within the two marriages was certainly a long way from the kind of people I interact with in Scotland and in a much less ‘showbiz’ setting – but all the same I was fascinated by some of the ways that what was unsaid was the telling thing and how the unspoken ways that they interacted kept me reading on, to see if some of these thoughts and feelings came home to roost…

film tape on floor

The clever writing in this interesting and thought provoking read allowed me to have a lot of time to assess the way that the characters changed and transformed through this novel.   I really loved the way that Sweeney allows Flora to come to the realisation that she does not have to have the life that she thought that she would have forever and that sometimes moulding our life to suit others is not the most fulfilling way to live. The way that these three main characters’ stories interconnect and collide with one another was one of my favourite things about this book and it certainly allows you to see Margot’s controlling ways and Julian’s weaknesses in glorious technicolour as Flora starts to see that some people’s ‘good company’ is better off in smaller does and that putting yourself first is sometimes necessary for the soul.

man and woman sitting on bench beside body of water

This was the perfect Summer read for me – and if you’re having a staycation amd want the perfect book to lose yourself in on a dechkchair this July–  then this would be a great choice. If you love a character -driven read, with a real insight into the complicated way that marriages and friendships work and how lives can turn on a sixpence then you’ll love uncovering flora’s story. You should treat definitely yourself to a copy – I mean, just LOOK at that gorgeous cover!

I absolutely loved this book and enjoyed the fact that I could really dedicate some serious hours of reading to it.  I enjoyed the feeling of being immersed in this perfectly realised world where I was constantly thinking about these characters amd their relatioships and I’ve thought about them a lot since dfinishing it last week. I feel like I grew close to Flora on her journey and will definitely continue to think of the changes that she made to her life and how her choices started to impact the life she thought she had chosen across the arc of this story. Find out for yourself how things unravel and how the way that Flora reacts begins to change the course of her life in a way that she could ever have predicted before the morning of her daughter Ruby’s graduation…

Thank you so much to Anne Cater for aways recommending such great reads. 

Buy yourself a copy here and follow the tour to see what all of these great bloggers thought too

“Sweeney’s warm, witty novel plumbs the depths of two marriages. Secrets and resentments abound, but loyalty and abiding affection carry this bicoastal tale of actors finding their way in real life.” — New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice

“The vivacious and tender second novel by the bestselling author of The Nest  is an absorbing, wise, and tender tale of a marriage in mid-life.” — O, the Oprah Magazine

“Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s Good Company is a smart and nuanced examination of the growing pains of long relationships, sure to spark great conversations about marriage, friendship, and parenthood.” — Real Simple

“[T]errific wit and inventiveness…Now that’s entertainment.” — Wall Street Journal

“Sweeney’s effectiveness as a novelist stems from her protean sympathy, her ability to move among these characters and capture each one’s feelings without judgment. As we see some of the same events from various points of view, we don’t learn who was right — who could ever be right, after all? — but we get a poignant, sometimes comic sense of the way we each experience the same events, the same decisions, the same mistakes. In Sweeney’s hands, that’s not a recipe for endless conflict, but a road to understanding and — maybe — forgiveness.” — Washington Post

“This novel considers how much the bonds of friendship and marriage can withstand in a tale that has as much heart as it does intrigue.” — Good Housekeeping

“You don’t need to be a fan of Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s bestseller The Nest to appreciate the high stakes, sly class commentaryand masterful storytelling of Good Company—but it wouldn’t hurt. — Town & Country

“[T]ender and absorbing tale….Filled with humor and insight, Good Company is a warm and incisive novel about loyalty and the bonds of marriage and friendship.” — BookRiot

“This effervescent, tender second novel by the bestselling author of The Nest is an enthralling saga of a marriage in midlife and the secrets that threaten to upend it.” — Oprah Daily

“[P]ropulsive, character-steeped story of two best friends.” — Vanity Fair

“In ‘Good Company,’ Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s follow-up to her best-selling ‘The Nest,’ she deftly and empathetically charts the nuanced rhythms of friendships, particularly those that, under certain circumstances, take on the role of a close-knit family circle.” — Boston Globe

“If I could “go long” on a book the way it works with stocks, I would “go long” on Good Company. (Book Stock Exchange, anyone?) This will absolutely hit the lists due to its combination of approachable, skilled prose from the author of bestseller “The Nest,” the fantastic characters, and the universally shared desire to figure out who we really are.” — Zibby Owens,

“There are few writers who explore the depths of family and friendship with as much care and nuance as Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, whose new novel is a generous, empathetic portrayal of a marriage and friendship thrown into disarray by an accidental discovery. . . . D’Aprix Sweeney interrogates all that goes into building a life together — the messiness, the heartache, and the joy.” — Refinery 29

“[Sweeney’s] warmth and wit refresh a tale as old as time.” — Entertainment Weekly

“From the bestselling author of The Nest comes another charming yet deceptively sharp tale of friendship, family, and all the things that get in the way of both….This is a perfect book for a quick weekend read—warm, funny, yet full of insight.” — Elle

“A sheer delight.” — New York Observer

“After more than a year of social distancing, who isn’t craving some good company? If that’s still a few months away for you,Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney has the next best thing: Her new novel, “Good Company.” — Ron Charles, The Washington Post

Writer On The Shelf

Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney is the author of the instant New York Times bestseller, The Nest, which is currently in development as a limited series by AMC Studios. She lives in Los Angeles with her family.

Sleepless Blog Tour

It’s over, my angel. Today I’m going to die. Just like her. He’s won.

It’s been years since Nadja Kulka was convicted of a cruel crime. After being released from prison, she’s wanted nothing more than to live a normal life: nice flat, steady job, even a few friends. But when one of those friends, Laura von Hoven – free-spirited beauty and wife of Nadja’s boss – kills her lover and begs Nadja for her help, Nadja can’t seem to be able to refuse.

green-leafed trees

The two women make for a remote house in the woods, the perfect place to bury a body. But their plan quickly falls apart and Nadja finds herself outplayed, a pawn in a bizarre game in which she is both the perfect victim and the perfect murderer . . .

Dark secrets past and present collide in this haunting novel of guilt and retribution from the internationally bestselling author of Dear Child.

green trees during sunrise

Toxic friendship and ensuing betrayals make for an intoxicating read – and I absolutely loved this immersive and enjoyable journey into its bitter heart.  As soon as I started reading Sleepless, it made me want to throw all my marking down and dive right in. As a teacher in a boarding school in the midst of the countryside, I was gripped by the thought of this storyline and let me tell you, Romy Hausman did not disappoint,

green grass on trees

If you read my blog, you’ll know that I love a novel that asks us to think about our own lives and put ourselves in the place of the characters that we are reading about. When this is well done, it’s my favourite kind of book – but it can be notoriously difficult to pull off effectively. Often, I’ve been left disappointed by an uneven narrative or I’d feel unconvinced and put the book to one side.

green trees

Sleepless is fortunately not one of those books: the story of Nadja and Laura is totally engrossing and balanced beautifully throughout the novel: whether we are with them before or after their plan is executed and Nadja finds herself hoisted by her own petard I found myself equally engaged with all three parts of the narrative and enjoyed the way that I had to stay on my toes to keep up with the twists and turns of this original and clever read. The gorgeous cover with its intriguing tagline about the ‘perfect victim…and perfect murdurer…’ ensured that this novel never lasted long on my TBR pile and I lost myself in it during my first weekend off duty this term

trees on forest with sun rays

I think that part of its success is that it never really gives too much away so you find yourself obsessing about what kind of tiny ‘tells’ might be hidden in the text that might give the next part away – you’ll have great fun doing so as the story rattles along at a cracking pace as you try to second-guess the tapestry of truth, lies and twisted allegiances. I like the fact that we are constantly made to think about the ways that the decisions and promises we make – even the promises we make in good faith – can often come back to haunt us in ways that we might not expect – and Nadja certainly finds tis out to her peril…

green trees surrounded by fogs

If you are fascinated by novels that throw you in at the deep end and ask you to navigate your wa forward and try and work out the truth then you will definitely find much to engage your inner sleuth here. You don’t have to be a true crime addict like me to fall in love with this engrossing psychological thriller. I thoroughly recommend Sleepless to anyone looking for a book that will keep you up way too late and give you a few sleepless nights all of your own. I loved the way that I just couldn’t puzzle it out and that’s what made me recommend it to our book group as I know that lots of our members love a book like this – that keeps you guessing right up until the end.

green pine trees

I was gutted to be on duty and not be able to finish this gripping read in a oner – but if you get the opportunity – set aside a rainy Sunday, clear your diary and give yourself a real treat.

So many of my favourite bloggers are on this tour -so make sure you check out their reviews too

Thanks to Team Quercus for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for my copy of the book.

Sleepless is available now. Click here to order yourself a copy here

gray roadway between trees during daytime


‘Chilling’ People Magazine

‘[A] tantalizingly disturbing debut . . . As enthralling as it is thought-provoking’ New York Times

‘Hausmann is a force to be reckoned with. You can’t stop reading’ David Baldacci

‘Deliciously dark’ Alice Feeney

‘Very compelling’ Peter James

‘Disturbingly good’ Lesley Kara

Writer on the Shelf

Romy Hausmann was born in East Germany in 1981. At the age of twenty- four she became chief editor at a film production company in Munich. Since the birth of her son, Romy has been working as a freelancer in television. Her thriller debut, Dear Child, became a number one bestseller in Germany and is being published in twenty countries. Sleepless is her second thriller. Romy lives with her family in a remote house in the woods near Stuttgart.

The Darlings – Damppebbles Blog Tour


When Mark Darling is fifteen years old, he is the golden boy, captain of the school football team, admired by all who know him. Until he kills his best friend in a freak accident.

He spends the next decade drifting between the therapy couch and dead-end pursuits. Then along comes Sadie. A mender by nature, she tries her best to fix him, and has enough energy to carry them both through the next few years.

One evening, Mark bumps into an old schoolfriend, Ruby. She saw the accident first hand. He is pulled towards her by a force stronger than logic: the universal need to reconcile one’s childhood wounds. This is his chance to, once again, feel the enveloping warmth of unconditional love. But can he leave behind the woman who rescued him from the pit of despair, the wife he loves? His unborn child?

This is a story about how childhood experience can profoundly impact how we behave as adults. It’s a story about betrayal, infidelity and how we often blinker ourselves to see a version of the truth that is more palatable to us.

grayscale photo of two person holding hands with wedding rings

Absolutely delighted to be kicking off the weeked by sharung my review of The Darlings, by Angela Jackson.Thanks so much to Emma at #damppebblesblogtours for iviting me onto the tour and to her, the publisher and the author for starting my summer hols off with such a great book to review.

I absolutely loved this book and it’s already on my top reads list of this year and there’s some very strong competition there. I think that it stood out so much to me as it is both heartbreakingly original and originally heartbreaking. It is a engrossing and emotional read and if you’ve not got your Summer TBR scheduled already, you should definitely make a space for this thought provoking, well written and unforgettable novel

grayscale photo of man and woman holding baby's low-top shoes

The fact that this book is so wonderfully structured with such clever juxtapositions and thought provoking contrasts means that it is hard to write a review without any spoilers. I really want you to have the same amazing reading experience that I had – so I am committed to not giving anything away that will have an impact on that. Suffice to say that I adored this book – Angela Jackson’s writing allows you to fully immerse yourself in Mark’s world and experience the challenges that he encounters right there alongside him. It’s a pretty challenging endeavour to make someone going through thoughts of adultery seem both relatable and sympathetic, but Angela manages to do so, and sustains it throughout the novel. It’s one of those books that you find yourself thinking about when you’re washing up or driving and imagining what the characters are doing and thinking, just as if they are real people that you know…

grayscale photography of man and woman kissing

I really lost myself in the story of these characters whose lives, loves and losses were so well described that I felt that they were real people that I knew after I’d finished reading this story. I felt like I could really transport myself into Mark’s life and imagine the impact of the loss he’d experienced and the choices that he is wrestling with throughout the novel. The book deals so sensitively with the impact of loss and the way that it can make things that make no sense seem like the most logical thing in the world so eloquently that I feel that so many people will be able to conect ith Mark and his situation.

grayscale photography of man and woman standing on ground

I really feel that this is one of the main misconceptions about books that deal with ‘big’ subjects – that they will make you miserable to read them. Angela Jackson is definitely a writer who is not afaid to tackle difficult subjects with compassion, sensitivity and a open mind – but isn’t averse to making you wince at some of the on point moments that are experienced in this novel. It really is unique in that way and I feel the blend of joy and pain really helps the readers to gain a much better understanding about the way some of these issues affect the lives of thousands of people off the page too

man in black jacket sitting on chair

I feel that books about loss, grief and recovery are perhaps one of the most underrepresented in modern literature and this story goes a long way towards dispelling some of the misconceptions and allows us to see that this situation might be a lot more complex than the stereotypical idea about what the recovery from a significant loss and its ongoing and overwhelming impact actually are- I loved the way that things aren’t just neatly packaged up in a conventionally neat way and this book attempts to show human emotions in all their messy and unconfined realities…and shows cleverly the way that the past can cast a very long shadow indeed over your present day life, when you least expect it…

grayscale photo of concrete wall with hole

I am so grateful to Emma for inviting me to join the tour. You should definitely buy a copy and immerse yourself in this intelligent, morally complex and emotionally compelling tale. I loved that this book felt wholly original and enjoyed the way that it made me think harder about my own experiences through this fictional lens.

a boy crying tears for his loss

Buy yourself a copy right now and experience this moving and immersive read for yourself. And you don’t just have to take my word for it – look at all the praise this wonderful read has attracted already from the other bloggers on the tour

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Writer On The Shelf

Angela Jackson is a former psychology lecturer and teacher trainer. Her debut novel The Emergence of Judy Taylor won the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s First Book Award and was Waterstones’ Scottish Book of the Year. 

The Darlings is her second novel. 

Originally from the north of England, she now lives with her family in Edinburgh.

Twitter | Website | Instagram

Everything Happens for A Reason

Mum-to-be Rachel did everything right, but it all went wrong. Her son, Luke, was stillborn and she finds herself on maternity leave without a baby, trying to make sense of her loss.

When a misguided well-wisher tells her that ‘everything happens for a reason’, she becomes obsessed with finding that reason, driven by grief and convinced that she is somehow to blame. She remembers that on the day she discovered her pregnancy, she’d stopped a man from jumping in front of a train, and she s now certain that saving his life cost her the life of her son.

Desperate to find him, she enlists an unlikely ally in Lola, an Underground worker, and Lola’s seven-year-old daughter, Josephine, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results…

Both a heart-wrenchingly poignant portrait of grief and a gloriously uplifting and disarmingly funny story of a young woman’s determination, Everything Happens for a Reason is a bittersweet, life- affirming read and, quite simply, unforgettable.

If books were meant to fall into your hands at exactly the right time in your life, then this would be one of them.

I absolutely adored Everything Happens for a Reason and I’ve thought about it a lot since finishing it last week. It’s the perfect mix of being wonderfully readable as well as realky thought provoking and is the perfect read for this summer as it will definitely make you think positively about everything you have, rather than all the things you wish might be a little bit different

The characters and situations in this book are difficult to convey in a review as they feel so very real that you definitely get the sensation that you’ve lived through these difficult events right alongside them.

Rachel is a character that you really connect with, an ordinary girl who’s lived through such extraordinary events, I loved the fact that even though the book deals with such heart wrenching subject matter, that it’s dealt with so eloquently that you feel that it’s akin to having lived through this situation right as she does.

Suicide and stillbirth are triggering subjects for many people, but this book shouldn’t be avoided because of that. Sometimes it’s the case that books that make you live through things like that give yiu the same feeling of catharsis that the ancient Greeks loved – the idea that once you have got through such challenging moments you feel that the elation and sense of overwhelming positivity you feel as a result are invigorating and wash over you like a burst of sunlight once you’ve closed the final page.

I loved the fact that this book was inspired by the novelists’ own experiences and I think it shows in that this subject matter is treated with dignity, respect and humanity throughout. It’s one of the phrases that I most hate myself as it tries to diminish the feeling of pointlessness and frustration that it’s so natural to feel when it seems like the inhumane universe is conspiring against you.

Living through these experiences makes you feel grateful for the small things in your life that are going right, as sometimes we can fixate on the things that are frustrating and make us feel like the world is against us at times. This novel and Rachels experiences make us see that we can all look on the bright side and be grateful that we have had far fewer obstacles in our pathway than Rachel has and that we can share her journey and realisations alongside her

If you enjoy a book that will make you think as much as it will entertain you then you will love this compelling and assured debut novel. This is a perfect summer read and you’ll definitely be sharing your thoughts and emotional responses with your friends. This is a book that I’ll be thinking about for a very long time and I can’t wait to see what Katie Allen does next.

It had a great deal of personal resonance for me, so please don’t shy away from this or worry that it will be ‘too much’

Its both an emotional and thought provoking book and I know that it will be a book that you’ll want to pass on as soon as you’ve finished it too

Writer On The Shelf

Katie Allen

Everything Happens for a Reason is Katie’s first novel. She used to be a journalist and columnist at the Guardian and Observer, and started her career as a Reuters correspondent in Berlin and London. The events in Everything Happens for a Reason are fiction, but the premise is loosely autobiographical. Katie’s son, Finn, was stillborn in 2010, and her character’s experience of grief and being on maternity leave without a baby is based on her own. And yes, someone did say to her ‘Everything happens for a reason’.
Katie grew up in Warwickshire and now lives in South London with her husband, children, dog, cat and stick insects. When she’s not writing or walking children and dogs, Katie loves baking, playing the piano, reading news and wishing she had written other people’s brilliant novels.

‘Emotionally engaging, witty, clever and wonderfully satisfying’ Daily Express

‘A stunning debut … a wise, moving, and thought-provoking novel’ Susan Elliot Wright, author of The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood

‘A heartbreaking, deeply moving and wonderfully witty tale, which celebrates all it means to be human’ Isabelle Broom, author of The Getaway

‘A beautiful novel, bursting with raw emotional honesty and authenticity’ Gill Paul, author of The Secret Wife

‘So affecting. Profoundly sad. Funny. I just loved it’ Louise Beech, author of This Is How We Are Human

‘Darkly funny, yet poignant and moving … Rachel’s quest to find out if everything happens for a reason is both heartbreaking and heartwarming’ Anna Bell, author of In Case You Missed It

‘Some books teach you, others touch your soul, then there are books like this one that bury deep and create a home in your heart’ Emma-Claire Wilson, Glass House Magazine

‘A triumph … a book of hope and ambition and making sense of the world, a tale of acting spontaneously, living in the moment and throwing caution to the wind’ Isabella May, author of Oh! What a Pavlova

‘An incredibly important and beautifully written book. Bittersweet and brave, it will keep you both laughing and crying until the last page’ Kate Ford, actress, Coronation Street

‘The perfect mix of clever, funny and intensely moving’ Cari Rosen, author of Secret Diary of a New Mum Aged 43 1/4

‘A heart-wrenching, soul-lifting read about loss and redemption in unlikely places’ Eve Smith, author of The Waiting Rooms

‘Read it and weep but also, incredibly, find moments to laugh and to know there is life after death’ Julia Hobsbawm, author of The Simplicity Principle

‘Simultaneously devastating and hilarious’ Clare Allan, author of Poppy Shakespeare

‘A memorable, poetic read … The writing reminded me of Eleanor Oliphant’ Becky Fleetwood, author of the Chroma series

‘Quirky yet insightful, bright yet wistful, amusing yet emotional … full of contradictions that fuse into the most surprising, moving, and beautiful novel’ LoveReading

For fans of Jonas Jonasson, Matt Haig, Graeme Simsion and Rachel Joyce.

Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen is published by Orenda Books and is published 10thJune 2021

It’s available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through that supports your local independent bookshop. UK

The Cookbook of Common Prayer

When Gill and Gabe’s elder son drowns overseas, they decide they must hide the truth from their desperately unwell teenaged daughter. But as Gill begins to send letters from her dead son to his sister, the increasingly elaborate lie threatens to prove more dangerous than the truth.

A novel about family, food, grief, and hope, this gripping, lyrical story moves between Tasmania and London, exploring the many ways that a family can break down – and the unexpected ways that it can be put back together.

The Cookbook of Common Prayer by Francesca Haig

I absolutely loved this book ad it’s already on my recommmended reads list for 2021 and that’s no mean feat, as 2021 is already shaping up to be an amazing year for books.  

The Cookbook of Common Prayer is a recipe for forgiveness and resilence in a sea of pain and heartache. It is a mememorableand evocative read and it’s definitely one that you should make a space for on your summer reading list. Treat yourself to a copy of this thought provoking, touching and unforgettable novel as soon as you can, and you definitely won’t regret it.

person slicing vegetable

The fact that this book is full of such thought provoking contrasts means that it is hard to write a review without any spoilers. I want you to be able to have the same immersive reading experience that I had – so I am keen not to give anything away that will have an impact on that.

I adored this book – Francesaca Haig’s writing allows you to fully immerse yourself in Gill and Gabe’s world and experience the challenges that their family situation presents right alongside them. It’s one of those books that you find yourself thinking about whenever you’re not reading it and imagining what the characters are doing, just like they’re real people that you know…

person pouring seasonings on clear glass bowl

I really lost myself in the story of these characters whose lives, loves and losses were so well described that I felt that they were real people that I knew after I’d finished reading this story. I felt like I could really transport myself into their world and imagine the impact of these experiences myself. The book deals so sensitively with the impact of lost connections and separations that I could not put it down. I really feel that this is one of the main misconceptions about books about loss and grief – that they have to be deadly serious throughout.

This is a writer who is not afaid to tackle difficult subjects with compassion, sensitivity and reflection– but isn’t averse to making you smile at some of the on point moments that are experienced in this novel. It really is unique in that way and I feel the blend of anguish and positivity really helps the readers to gain a much better understanding about the way some of these issues affect the lives of thousands of people off the page too

person slicing cherry tomatoes

I feel that books about loss are perhaps one of the most underrepresented in modern literature and this story goes a long way towards dispelling some of the misconceptions and allows us to see that this situation might be a lot more complex than the stereotypical idea about what fame and its impact actually are- I loved the way that things aren’t just neatly tied up and this book attempts to show human emotions in all their messy and unconfined realities…

person holding brown wooden rolling pin

Francesca Haig has created characters we can really connect with, experiencing emotional dilemmas that have us rooting for them. Gill, Gabe and their fragile daughter Sylvie are such fabulous creations and we definitely feel their pain and loss as we see the full gamut of emotions that such experiences brings with them. My favourite character was Teddy and it was heartbreaking to experience this through his eys and see how hard he was trying to put everyone else’s emotions first. I read this book across last weekend in the sunshine and I’m so glad that I actually got the time to unwind and lose myself in this emotionally rewarding and thought-provoking read.

 It  is a moving and emotional story and I’d love to see it on the silver screen I am so grateful to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the tour. You should definitely buy a copy and immerse yourself in this sensitively wrought and emotionally compelling tale. I loved that this book felt wholly original and enjoyed the way that it made me think harder about my own experiences through this fictional lens.

brown mixing bowl with eggs and flour with whisk

Buy yourself a copy right now and experience this moving and unforgettable read for yourself. And you don’t just have to take my word for it – look at all the praise this wonderful read has attracted already

The Cookbook of Common Prayer by Francesca Haig

What a devastatingly honest – and brilliant – book this is. Its portrayal of grief and the absurdity of death – the bizarre, unfathomable fact that someone just isn’t there anymore – are simply incredible. Earth-shatteringly raw and resonant, it’s a book that will break your heart and heal it. […] The story reels and swerves to a truly edge-of-your-seat, hold-your-breath conclusion. While the family’s pain and grief always tangible, the buds of healing are too. What a book. ― Love Reading

Gill Jordan is at home in Tasmania, writing recipes, because that is what she does. Gabe is in England for the inquest into the death of their son, Dougie, drowned in a flooded cave. Daughter Sylvie is anorexic, fragile, so can’t be told, and lies are spinning out of control. Read with a box of Kleenex. ― Saga Magazine

Writer On The Shelf

Francesca Haig grew up in Tasmania and is an academic and writer, whose poetry and YA/crossover fantasy have been widely published. She lives in London with her husband and son. This is her first novel for adults.

Mary Jane blog tour

Almost Famous meets Daisy Jones & The Six in this “delightful” (New York Times Book Review) novel about a 14-year-old girl’s coming of age in 1970s Baltimore, caught between her straight-laced family and the progressive family she nannies for – who happen to be secretly hiding a famous rock star and his movie star wife for the summer.

In 1970s Baltimore, 14-year-old Mary Jane loves cooking with her mother, singing in her church choir, and enjoying her family’s subscription to the Broadway Showtunes of the Month record club. Shy, quiet, and bookish, she’s glad when she lands a summer job as a nanny for the daughter of a local doctor. A respectable job, Mary Jane’s mother says. In a respectable house.

The house may look respectable on the outside, but inside it’s a literal and figurative mess: clutter on every surface, Impeachment: Now More Than Ever bumper stickers on the doors, cereal and takeout for dinner. And even more troublesome (were Mary Jane’s mother to know, which she does not): the doctor is a psychiatrist who has cleared his summer for one important job – helping a famous rock star dry out. A week after Mary Jane starts, the rock star and his movie star wife move in.

Over the course of the summer, Mary Jane introduces her new household to crisply ironed clothes and a family dinner schedule, and has a front-row seat to a liberal world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll (not to mention group therapy). Caught between the lifestyle she’s always known and the future she’s only just realized is possible, Mary Jane will arrive at September with a new idea about what she wants out of life, and what kind of person she’s going to be. 

In Mary Jane, Jessica Anya Blau shows her extraordinary gift for taking us back in time and experiencing this fateful summer alomgside Mary Jane and her extraordinary array of fascinating and diverse characters. She is that rare writer who makes us laugh whilst reminding us of the joy, and the pain, of growing up and I absolutely could not put this book down…

Am so happy to be on today’s Blog Tour of #MaryJane today. I really needed something that would take me away from it all thos week, and this book absolutely did the job. I love Barbara Trapido and this book gave me the same sense of having spent time with a fascinating and eclectic array of characters that make you feel like you wish you could live in the story alongside them.

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I absolutely loved this book. It’s a warm and uplifting read that will genuinely draw you into its world and make you feel part of the Cones’ bohemian amd memorable word as she tries to navigate adult life and all the curveballs that it throws her.She was desperate to experience life outwith the confines of her boringly straightlaced and suburban family – and she finds out that sometimes you need to be carefulmexactly what you wish for…

Mary Jane herself was a fantastic character that you can totally believe in. When I was reading about her summer and the many areas to navigate as she tries to throw herself into adult life, it’s an easy sentiment to connect with – I’m sure lots of you will have had that feeling when you think you’re a lot more grown-up than you actually are and end up in situations that you could never have anticipated. The job working for this eccentric family sounds very different on paper than the reality and you will be creasing up, hearing about some of the situations she finds herself caught up in.

Her experiences with the family – with the rock star, Running Water and his wife Sheba in the household and other more liberal practices being explored through her innocent eyes is one of the best things about this book. You will have had lots of these moments yourself where you’ve ended up finding things in common with people you’d never have imagined and this coming -of -age tale does it so much better than most. I loved the way that you are transported back into the fasgion, music and pop culture of this time and enjoyed the kick of nostalgia you get to experience as you get taken back to an entirely groovier time…

Jessica Anya Blau can really write. This is a beautifully written period pirece that absolutely captures some of the thoughts and feelings of a young girl on the cusp of adult life.  It presents a picture of a unique, hilarious and memorable young woman and captures a moment in time perfectly. I would absolutely love to see this on our screens in the future. When you read the other reviews on the blogtour, you’ll see how much everyone else has loved it too, so you don’t just have to take MY word for it…

Get yourself a copy here and enjoy this insight into the Cones world alongside Mary Jane this summer!

Writer On The Shelf

Jessica Anya Blau is the author of US bestselling novel The Summer of Naked Swim Parties and three other critically acclaimed novels, most recently The Trouble With Lexie. Her novels have been recommended and featured on CNN, NPR, The Today Show and in Vanity Fair, Cosmo, O Magazine, and many other US magazines and newspapers.

Berlin Reload Blog Tour

“The time of reckoning is here, Gorilla Grant.”

Jack “Gorilla” Grant, retired assassin and former spy, is living a new life as a peaceful, successful businessman. But when his daughter is kidnapped in Rome, it is just the opening gambit in a series of events that pushes him back into the “Redaction” business that he once walked away from.

Unseen forces are moving against Gorilla and dangerous enemies from his past are threatening his future, intent on turning a cold war into a hot war. But Gorilla has one rule; don’t mess with my family.  And he’s willing to kill to enforce it.

From the dangerous streets of 1960’s Berlin to a hit contract in Austria, and finally to a race against time in East Germany, Berlin Reload is an epic cold war spy story that spans the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall, and throws James Quinn’s anti-hero Gorilla Grant into a mission where he may have to decide between the life of his daughter and the dawning of a new conflict between East and West.

If you love a genre-defying and eclectic read you can really get caught up in that will keep you up way too late reading it, then Berlin Reload might be your next favourite read. I’m always a sucker for any book that’s got the slightest connection to spies and I was really drawn in by Jack ‘Gorilla’ Grant’s story and really wonder why I’ve never heard of this writer before.  I love books that grab me with a real ‘voice’ from the very first page and ‘Gorilla’ is pretty unforgettable! I read this across a sunny Scottish weekend – totally losing myself in 1960s Berlin and the characters we meet in this immersive and thrilling read. I now have to go back and read the other three, as I loved these charachaers and setting so much…

Gorilla is a totally unforgettable hero and this race against time is so captivating that it’s easy to forget that this is fiction, you feel like it’s actually happening as you stay up way too late turning tese pages – witnessing the fast paced plot and deadly situations that he manages to get caught up in.

James Quinn has a distinct turn of phrase and uses his voice and way of approaching situations very skilfully in order to make these characters come to life in these pages. This is an exciting and satisfying read, where Gorilla’s exploits are wonderfully realised and his tenacity and resourcefulness is brought to life for us as we experience his attepts to keep life and limb together whilst getting caught up in some extremely difficult choices – with some curveballs along the way.

green and white typewriter on blue textile

If you want a memorable and energetially written book that brings a wonderfully realised setting to life whilst keeping you on your toes with many a twist and turn to navigate you’ll love this book and I know a few book-loving friends who are definitely going to be snapping this up and enjoying a new to me voice within crime and spy fiction.

Why don’t you treat yourself to a copy and find out more about ‘Gorilla’s’ unorthodox approach I’m sure that like me, once you’ve enjoyed one episode of his adventures, you’ll definitely be tempted to explore the rest…

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Writer On The Shelf

James Quinn is the author of the “Gorilla Grant” series of spy novels. A professional security consultant and corporate intelligence operative, he currently resides in the UK but likes to travel extensively around the globe.

His next projects are “Clandestine” – a short story anthology, based around espionage, deception and intrigue – and The Fisherman, which introduces a new character to the world of covert intelligence.