Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies Blog Tour

Inspired by true events, this is the story of how society’s ‘lovely ladies’ won a war.

Each year at secluded Shillings Hall, in the snow-crisped English countryside, the mysterious Miss Lily draws around her young women selected from Europe’s royal and most influential families. Her girls are taught how to captivate a man – and find a potential husband – at a dinner, in a salon, or at a grouse shoot, and in ways that would surprise outsiders. For in 1914, persuading and charming men is the only true power a woman has.

Sophie Higgs is the daughter of Australia’s king of corned beef and the only ‘colonial’ brought to Shillings Hall. Of all Miss Lily’s lovely ladies, however, she is also the only one who suspects Miss Lily’s true purpose.

As the chaos of war spreads, women across Europe shrug off etiquette. The lovely ladies and their less privileged sisters become the unacknowledged backbone of the war, creating hospitals, canteens and transport systems where bungling officials fail to cope. And when tens of thousands can die in a single day’s battle, Sophie must use the skills Miss Lily taught her to prevent war’s most devastating weapon yet.

But is Miss Lily heroine or traitor?

It’ll be no news to anyone who follows the blog, but I’m getting so much pleasure from time traveling through the books that I’m choosing of late. I can’t stop reaching for historical fiction, and this is one of the best books I’ve read in this genre this year. I was absolutely intrigued by the premise of this book as I love reading books about women’s contribution to history as we move towards International Women’s Day and I loved hearing about Miss Lily’s ladies and their fascinating contribution to history across these pages

This book has a real gift for bringing the events of the past right into the present, taking these characters and moments from history and bringing them to life before our eyes whilst juxtaposing them with our 20th century narrative and concept of the roles of women at the same time. I was delighted to be invited on the tour and found myself absolutely intrigued by this fascinating insight into these girls’ lives and found myself caught up in their stories as I enjoyed this tale over the last weekend.

This book definitely did not disappoint, it let me feel absolutely part of Sophie’s story where we become wholly wrapped up in the life of this unforgettable and resilient character. Life is difficult enough for women who want to break the mould nowadays – you can only imagine how much more difficult things were then. We get to hear about events from Sophie’s own perspective as she attempts to take what she’s learned and to roll out these ideas in her own inimitable way as the country copes with the war effort. I found this period and setting so fascinating and this really added to the enjoyment of the story for me. It’s a book that you’ll find hard to believe it’s fiction as you’ll become so caught up in Sophie’s story and you’ll feel real empathy with her as she navigates through these extremely uncertain times – it made me think of the real VADs and other volunteers as well as thinking about their legacy as women take up roles in conflict in their own right in the 21st century.

I absolutely loved the unique atmosphere of this novel and definitely found it quite addictive. It was intriguing to imagine a world in which your choices and next direction are far more constrained than women nowadays and knowing that your choices are far more restricted than they would be nowadays. The contrast of Sophie’s own tale with the way that women are expected to engage with a conflict and its fallout nowadays was really fascinating and I enjoyed traveling back in time and gaining an insight into life from the perspective of ‘the corned beef princess’

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

Jackie French is a talented and original writer – and I really enjoyed vicariously travelling to Shillings Hall whilst reading the book. You will be fascinated to uncover all that Sophie has to experience, and shocked that you didn’t know more about this fascinating time in our history. Your relationship with the characters builds and builds as you experience the challenges and constraints of their individual circumstances and everything that they have had to go through. I definitely enjoyed the contrast between life for women as it was then, and our lives now, and it kept me turning the pages – although I’d have to say that my favorite was definitely hearing about Sophie’s experiences.

This is a book that I know I’ll be recommending to lots of readers as I was totally immersed in its characters, its setting, and the way it really allowed me to connect with its characters. As I’ve said, I really can’t wait to enjoy the rest of the series. The idea that life for people in the past can be a lot different than you might have learned in your history books is a fascinating one, and I think that this would make an excellent Book Group read as it would be sure to provoke lots and lots of discussion and comment about women’s experience of war, that most people don’t know very much about…

Treat yourself to a copy and enjoy the rest of the blog tour! Thanks so much to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours and Harper Collins for inviting me on the tour.

Writer On The Shelf

Jackie French is an Australian author, historian,  ecologist  and honourary wombat (part time), 2014-2015 Australian Children’ Laureate and 2015 Senior Australian of the Year.

Jackie was born in Sydney; grew up on the outskirts of Brisbane, and is still not dead.  She has lived for more than 40 years at the top of the gorge in  the Araluen Valley, where her ancestors lived  too.  Only one school she attended burned down. This was not her fault.

Some of Jackie’s books have sold millions of copies and won over 60 awards in Australia and internationally. Others were eaten by the wombats.  

Instead of hobbies she has written over 200 books;  built a house and power system;  planted thousands of trees;  harvests about 800 of them;  lunches with friends; reads to her grandkids;  tries to find her glasses; eats dark chocolates, what ever fruit  is in season and the odd feral species. (Some are very odd). She coined the term ‘moral ominvore’ to describe her diet. There is a dispensation for dark chocolate.  

Jackie has studied over 400 wombats, and been the (almost) obedient slave to a dozen of them. She is an enthusiastic cook, married to an enthusiastic eater. If you visit, do not bring cake. It is the duty of a guest to eat. Lots. Then eat some more. If you are worried about calories hike up the mountain and look for endangered species. But you will find more on a bush mooch than a bush walk. Watch out for the eight species of snake. Don’t worry. They’ll also be watching out for you.

Jackie writes for adults, young adults, and even younger humans, on history, ecology, and her award winning historical fiction for  all age but write just one picture book about a wombat, and no one lets you forget it. Ever. Ever. Ever.

​Please do not mention Diary of a Wombat or the word ‘prolific’. Or the story of how her first book was accepted because a wombat had left its droppings on her typewriter, as after 25 years of repeating it she is bored.

Jackie is also dyslexic and patron of literacy programmes across Australia with a wide and deep – if accidental- experience in learning differences and methods, and their outcomes for students, as well as a passionate advocate for equal educational opportunity. She still can’t spell.

For even more information about Jackie, click here.

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Chasing Lions

Chasing Lions is an empowering and captivating memoir. It shows that a lack of self-confidence doesn’t have to stop you from living the life you want and finding the love you deserve.

When Amanda is mugged by a gang of schoolkids, she knows things have to change. She decides to go in search of her inner lion.

It proves to be a bruising experience both physically and mentally. But she perseveres, and surprises herself by becoming a truck-driving tour leader in the bohemian and male-dominated world of overland expeditions.

Over three years and 55,000 miles, Amanda faces her feelings of inadequacy as she strives to discover her roar. On her journey, she watches the moon rise over the Serengeti and the sun set behind Egypt’s pyramids, she rafts with Zambezi river gods and communes with gorillas, she faces lions in the wild, has her fortune told by a crab sorcerer . . . and meets her soulmate?

Chasing Lions is a compelling tale of inner transformation through immersion in the natural world and being open to the rich diversity of life. Amanda’s story encourages us to live life to the full, be brave, and choose love.

Katy Perry asks us to find our inner ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and Roar! This book explores the same idea through asking us how far we are all able to push ourselves and find the lion within, as we face challenges and adversity.  Chasing Lions, by Amanda Marks, is one of those books that is hard to explain – it has to be experienced rather than read and I firmly recommend it to anyone who is interested in exploring the depths of courage that they are capable of…

In 1987, Amanda Marks is young and just starting out in life in her advertising career, when she got the opportunity to hear about the opportunity to travel and see other cultures and places. Full of adventure and a taste for the unexplored, she takes the opportunity to become both an HGV driver and tour guide. This is the kind of job that only comes along once in a lifetime and lets her travel through countries that she’s only ever read about in books, or seen on TV shows. She’s far from a modern-day ‘travel Influencer’ or ‘Instablogger’ though and her taste of foreign travel is whetted through hard graft, determination, and a desire to show people that she’s just as capable as any man who’d have this job…

These trips were huge opportunities to spend time with people from far-flung places that most tourists never get to see. Her very own version of the ‘rough guide’ certainly takes her off the beaten track and into the types of travel experience that are far more Bear Grylls than Judith Chalmers! Her writing brings us with her on an epic cavalcade of countries and cultures that spring to life right off the page and will keep you entertained as well as educated about all the experiences she manages to cram into this unorthodox working life.

She is keen to show us the underbelly of these exotic locations as well as their beauty, culture, and history. We get to see how people live there far from the well-trodden tourist tracks and her explanation of the lifestyles she encounters never feels patronising or exploitative – instead, we get a refreshingly honest and reflective exploration of the countries that we are often just shown one face of – here we get the chance to ‘visit’ them vicariously, warts and all and the honesty shown by Amanda Marks makes this a travel writing experience with a fresh and insightful edge, that will keep you coming back for more.

The strength and resilience gained through her travel experiences help Marks to come to grips with a terrifying experience of her own – A youthful mugging means that she is determined to build the skills to look after herself later in life and we see this across the book as she explores how she found the courage to take control of situations, rather than feeling like a victim. Her lone river adventure, her courage at dealing with challenging situations either with the travelers she is meant to be helping or the administrations in the countries she is traveling through shows admirable grit and determination. I wholeheartedly recommend it for the traveler in your life, or if like me you are longing to see more of the wide world as we come out of the pandemic.

Chasing Lions is a book that you won’t easily forget – Get yourself a copy now and channel your inner tiger as you roar your way out of the pandemic!.

Writer On The Shelf

Ever since reading the Narnia novels of C.S. Lewis as a little girl, I yearned for a magical connection with nature. I found it. I found it in the hills of Durham and the north of England where I grew up, and I found it when I became a lifelong traveller exploring far-flung lands as a guide and then a travel company founder. I have sat, entranced, with gorillas and chimpanzees in the wild; I have paddled in a dugout canoe for 5 days on the Congo River; I have walked across living root bridges in north-east India and trekked through the Amazon forest in Peru.

I believe in taking myself out of my comfort zone now and then, to try new things, to meet new people and to open my eyes to different cultures, beliefs, and ways of life. Sometimes, though, talking to a tree is enough for me.

When not on my travels, I live in Suffolk with my husband, two grown boys, a cat and a dog, in a house that has ancient markings to stop witches entering.

www.amandamarks.co.uk

facebook@amandamarksauthor

Please do read some of the other reviews available on this blog tour.

You Never Said Goodbye

A DEVOTED MOTHER
Sam Cooper has a happy life: a good job, a blossoming relationship. Yet, there’s something he can never forget – the image seared into his mind of his mother, Laurie, dying when he was a child. His father allowed his grief to tear them apart and Sam hasn’t seen him in years.

A LOVING WIFE
Until an unexpected call from Firwood hospital, asking Sam to come home, puts in motion a chain of devastating events. On his deathbed, Sam’s father makes a shocking confession.

A LIAR?
Who was Laurie Cooper? It’s clear that everything Sam thought he knew about his mother was wrong. And now he’s determined to find out exactly what she did and why – whatever the cost.

What happens if you discover you’ve been lied to by your own family for twenty-five years?

Sam Cooper is about to find out.

As a real fan of Luca Veste,   I was definitely seduced by the premise of this book featuring a devoted mother, a loving wife & a liar – when I discovered that it featured a deathbed confession to boot that really sealed the deal for me and it quickly zoomed to the top of my TBR pile. I was delighted to be invited on the tour by the lovelyJenny Platt, I couldn’t wait to see if it was as rattling a good read as I expected

This book definitely did not disappoint, it pulled me right into the story. I was really intrigued by the premise of the book and wanted to uncover everything that’s going on for this unholy trinity – and the setting sang for me just as much as the page-turning and intelligently constructed plot.

I absolutely loved the setting of this novel and definitely found the gritty realism and the ensuing revelations about Sam’s own demons that have come back to haunt him. It was intriguing to see which trail of breadcrumbs would prove to be the right one as Luca Veste kept me changing my mind from one moment to the next. The fact that each new revelation presents us with fresh clues and small insights into what has happened in the past was a fantastic device and really kept me on my toes as a reader as this novel unfolded

Even though there have been lots of novels this year that focus on people being deceived and decades-old secrets coming to light, but the skill of the writing here ensures that the characters we meet evolve in an original way which makes the story feel fresh and innovative, rather than plowing a familiar furrow. I think that the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle, where you strive to find the missing pieces is an excellent analogy for this book and even the most addicted puzzle solvers will find much to occupy their brains here as it’s so well-crafted.

This book is so satisfying a prospect as a reader, that it’s hard to talk about without spoilers, so I’ll just need to tell you that you must read it for yourself. You will be intrigued by Sam’s unenviable situation and want to read on and find out exactly what is behind this family mystery and what else will emerge from the past that seems to be having such a seismic impact on the present day. It’s not one of these ‘keep looking for the big twist’ stories that people are getting a little bored of now. It is just that things start to appear through the murk and you’ll not be able to believe you never noticed them…

Anyone interested in twisty reads and who loves trying to work out which characters to trust…or not…will love this gripping novel. I had really high hopes for You Never Said Goodbye and I’m delighted to say that I was definitely not disappointed. It was definitely a book that  I’ll be recommending to lots of readers as I was totally intrigued by its pace and the way it really kept me guessing

The idea that life can be a lot darker and more interesting than you might think on the surface is a very intriguing one. I think that this would make an excellent Book Group read as it would be sure to provoke lots and lots of discussion…

Buy yourself a copy here if you want to get to the heart of the mystery

Writer on The Shelf

Luca Veste is a writer of Italian and Liverpudlian heritage, married with two young daughters, and one of nine children. He studied psychology and criminology at university in Liverpool.

He is the author of the Murphy and Rossi series, which includes DEAD GONE, THE DYING PLACE, BLOODSTREAM, and THEN SHE WAS GONE.

Part psychological thriller, part police procedural, his books follow the detective pairing of DI David Murphy and DS Laura Rossi.

The novels are set in Liverpool, bringing the city to life in a dark and terrifying manner…with just a splash of Scouse humour.

“Astringent and artfully constructed.” The Financial Times

“A darkly impressive novel… disturbing and intelligent.” The Times

“Page-turner.” Sunday Times

“A chilling début from a writer to watch…” Mark Billingham

“Gripping, unpredictable, genuinely shocking and impossible to put down, Dead Gone is a remarkable début.” Steve Mosby

“A twisty, psychological crime debut in a gritty setting: a new favourite for police procedural lovers” Clare Mackintosh

“Tense and darkly playful.” Chris Ewan

“A major new talent on the crime scene.” Eva Dolan

“Fresh…original.” Mel Sherratt

Murder In First Class

All aboard a train bound for… murder.

Kitty Underhay is looking forward to a week of long lunches and wedding planning with her husband-to-be, Captain Matthew Bryant. But the plan is derailed when he is called on to collect a former comrade-in-arms, arriving on the 15:50 from Bakerloo. As the train bearing Simon Travers pulls up to the platform, a piercing scream rises over the screech of its brakes. Travers is dead in his seat, a dagger in his heart.

Who gave this defenceless man a one-way ticket to the next life? And why? And could Matt’s close connection put him at risk? Only a few individuals had access to Travers’s compartment, and Kitty must find out which of these seemingly benign passengers is in fact a cross-country killer.

But when Kitty’s prime suspect, the travelling salesman with no merchandise, is found murdered, she is stumped. Until she makes the connection between the two victims and realises that this murderer has an even more deadly destination in mind. Can she stop them before they strike again? Or will Kitty’s own next stop be the graveyard?

A pitch-perfect and totally gripping Golden Age historical cozy mystery! Perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, T.E. Kinsey and Lee Strauss.

I’m delighted to be able to share my review of this classic crime read that drew me in from the very first paragraph and kept me entertained and amused by its setting and characters until its very final page.

A crime novel that features a bride-to-be, a traveling salesman and a dagger through the heart – I mean, what’s not to love? These were some of the many reasons that I loved Murder in First Class –  and why I’m so grateful to Noelle Holton & Bookouture for inviting me to participate in this blog tour – although this is the eighth Miss Underhay novel, you can absolutely read it as a stand-alone and I’m sure you’ll be off to look for the back catalogue once you’ve finished…

I love immersing myself in a setting and feeling like I’ve actually travelled back in time whilst I’m reading and this book really achieves this as you feel like you are there witnessing the events right there alongside Kitty & her family – I know it’s already been said plenty of times – But it really made me hopeful that this charming and addictive read will be part of a series of books that I can enjoy on the screen shortly- I am already casting Kitty in my mind’s eye and think it would be a fab crime series

Because you’re definitely in a safe pair of hands, with a writer who clearly knows and loves her subject matter and can craft a perfect cozy crime tale,  you feel like you can totally surrender to this reading experience and spend a few days in the company of this eclectic and memorable cast of characters. I really felt like I could imagine the railway journey in glorious technicolor and I absolutely loved the 1930s setting, which was wonderfully recreated on the pages.

It was lovely to lose myself in this cozy crime 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 Crime Fiction mission and our book club have just finished the classic crime Death On The Nile and am looking forward to losing myself in another of my favourite era’s crime stories once I see it on the silver screen. I am trying not to give any spoilers at all about this mystery as I do not want you to be able to guess what’s about to unfold for you once you open the covers of this wonderful take on cozy crime, but you should prepare to be absorbed, entertained and charmed by the idiosyncrasies of these characters and take note that sometimes the most surprising clues can turn out to be pivotal…

The host of engaging characters and their complementary character quirks in this charming and entertaining read allowed me to escape from everything frustrating in the modern world, and just focus on the twists and turns of the mystery. The way that we get to see the ensuing complications which unfold as we attempt to solve these crimes was one of my favourite things about this book and it certainly does a fine job of not allowing you to put it down as it gives you a solid case of ‘one more chapter’ as you wonder whatever is going to happen next and how Kitty’s unorthodox crime-busting techniques will win the day.

This was the perfect half term read for me – and if you’re growing absolutely fed up with this weather and you just want an escape from it all –  then this would be a perfect book to lose yourself in.  Fans of the cozy crime genre will have hours of entertainment trying to solve the mystery for themselves whilst managing to raise a smile and a theory or two themselves as they go.

If you love a humorous and intelligent read with memorable characters and a 1930s vintage setting that you’ll absolutely fall for then this is the read for you. I definitely enjoyed this book just as much as I’d been expecting to and I’m sure that it would appeal to lots of my Bookclub readers too. after Death on the Nile has whetted their appectites   Treat yourself to a copy this weekend and enjoy this trip into the world of 1930s crime for yourself


Readers love the Miss Underhay mysteries:

Five stars are not enough.’ Netgalley reviewer, 5 stars

‘This was excellent and I read it in one sitting, a page-turner I couldn’t put down.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘Fast, fun and utterly unputdownable… perfect for fans of Agatha Christie.’ Robin Loves Reading

What can I say? I loved it.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

Writer On The Shelf

Helena Dixon splits her time between the Black Country and Devon. Married to the same man for over thirty-five years she has three daughters, a cactus called Spike, and a crazy cockapoo. She is allergic to adhesives, apples, tinsel and housework. Her addictions of choice are coffee and reality TV.

She was winner of The Romance Prize in 2007 and Love Story of the Year 2010 as Nell Dixon. She now writes historical 1930’s set cozy crime.

Nell enjoys hearing from readers and you can read her news and contact her via her website at http://www.nelldixon.com or visit her blog at http://www.nelldixonrw.blogspot.com and find her on Twitter @NellDixon 

Off Target

A longed-for baby
An unthinkable decision
A deadly mistake

In an all-too-possible near future, when genetic engineering has become the norm for humans, not just crops, parents are prepared to take incalculable risks to ensure that their babies are perfect … altering genes that may cause illness, and more…

Susan has been trying for a baby for years, and when an impulsive one-night stand makes her dream come true, she’ll do anything to keep her daughter and ensure her husband doesn’t find out … including the unthinkable. She believes her secret is safe. For now.

But as governments embark on a perilous genetic arms race and children around the globe start experiencing a host of distressing symptoms – even taking their own lives – something truly horrendous is unleashed. Because those children have only one thing in common, and people are starting to ask questions…

Bestselling author of The Waiting Rooms, Eve Smith returns with an authentic, startlingly thought-provoking, disturbing blockbuster of a thriller that provides a chilling glimpse of a future that’s just one modification away…

When a one-night stand leads to a long-desired pregnancy, Susan will do anything to ensure her husband won’t find out … including the unthinkable. But when something horrendous is unleashed around the globe, her secret isn’t the only thing that is no longer safe…

In Off Target,  Eve Smith shows off her extraordinary gift for making you really think through her writing by making you consider the end point of genetic engineering and the potential impact on the tapestry of humanity. She is that rare writer who can write absolutely engrosing fiction that makes you as interested in its ideas as its plot and I was absolutey glued to it across this week. Reviewing this book during half term in stunning Krakow created the perfect opportunity to think hard about the ideas explored in its pages as I spent hours exploring the beaitiful streets of the old town – and it was great to have the mental time and space to explore the ideas and questions in the book over a few cold refreshments in its beautiful Beerhalls too

Am so happy to be on today’s Blog Tour of #OffTarget today. It’s wonderful to be able to really dedicate time to a book when you have totally switched off from work too. I love being able to shout loudly about great reads that people might not already have come across, and loved Waiting Rooms so was delighted to get the chance to talk about another of Eve’s books.

Thank you so much to Anne Cater & Random Things Tours for inviting me on the tour, it has been a great way to celebrate half term in such good company and it’d make a great gift for any other Aquarian in your life…

I absolutely loved this book. It’s a compelling and thought-provoking read that will pull you into its alternative world and make you consider the huge strides that we have made in fertility medicine from a very different perspective than you might have before. It really allows you to suspend your disbelief as you join Susan on her pregnancy journey here, as she tries to navigate all the curveballs that it throws her.

Susan was a character that you can totally believe in. When I was reading about her pregnancy dilemma, it was deceptively easy to connect with her experiences and imagine yourself in her shoes– I’m sure lots of you will have had that feeling when your choices leave you feeling completely out of your depth and you can end up in situations that you could never have anticipated.

Susan’s very real terror of never being able to become pregnant is damaging her relationship with her husband. She is convinced that their infertility struggles are down to her and feels paralysed with thiughts that she will never be able to have a child of her own. A drunken one night stand might have given her the chance to escape from the somewhat pefunctory sex tha t she’s been having; but she never expected a second blue line to appear and the ‘happy event’of an unplanned pregnancy to be a real possibility.

Not having this child is ot of the question for Sarah; she just can’t imagine ending a pregnancy that she’s longed for all this time. But there’s one huge problem, her one night stand had tanned skin and dark eyes, unlike her husband – Something drastic needs to be done – and that’s where the moral maze begins…

Susan’s determination to turn this most challenging situation on its head and try to overturn this ‘problem’ through genetic engineering is such a clever premise. We are already living in an era where so much is possible that this no longer feels like a ‘Brave New World’ – it feels like our world – and that is the scariest thing about this book. The way that money and science can come together to overturn centuries of evolotion is a fascinating idea to explore and Susan’s decision comes with a price as once she has engineered her way out of this complex dilemma, how is she able to tell where nature ends and where science begins?

There were loads of moments in Susan’s journey that I really connected with – motherhood is a challenging enough prospsition without the idea that your child has been affected by your choices in ways that would have been unimainable decades before. Again, it is due to the strength of Eve Smith’s writing that this moral proposition remains a story where you can connect with its characters and care about what happens to them – rather than just a philosophical debate dressed up as a novel. It asks serious questions about how far we are willing to go – both personally as Susan does in order to cover up her indiscretion and as a society too – how far are we willing to go in order to create ‘flawless’ children, and what indeed might be the cost of that in terms of humanity?

This is a book that you will be screaming out to talk about – it’s hard to imagine a more interesting book club read and I recommend it unreservedly.  It presents a picture of a journey we are on as a society and does not pull any punches when it asks us to consider the implications of the final destination on this genetic journey . I would absolutely love to see this on our screens in the future. When you read the ‘roll of honour’ below, you’ll see that there are so many fans of her writing that are far more eminent than myself – so you don’t just have to take MY word for it… you really need to follow the tour and satisfy your curiosity about the ethical minefield here by buying yourself a copy.

It’s one of the most interestingly written, intriguing and thought provoking books I’ve read so far this year, and will make you think harder than you have ever thought before about the dance of science and humanity that we are caught up in…

Do yourself a favour and order yourself a copy – It really is the definition of unputdownable and I enjoyed every single morsel of it as I devoured it in the cafes of the Old Town this week!

Praise for The Waiting Rooms

‘The first half is a high-concept thriller; the second edges into science fiction as a generation of genetically optimised children respond to the social pressures they are under … an astute, well-researched and convincing novel of ideas’ The Times

‘If you could create a “perfect” baby through genetic engineering, would you? A disturbing and interesting thriller, perfect for book club discussions’ Nina Pottell, Prima

‘A fantastic exploration of the ethics and allure of genetic engineering woven into a captivating, thought-provoking thriller. Provocative, pacy and scarily all-too-possible’ Philippa East


A brilliantly chilling work of speculative fiction – a disturbing but all-too-possible vision of the near future, where each of us gets to play God. Superb!’ Guy Morpuss

‘This is what speculative fiction should be – plausible, pacy, and with a story that packs real emotional punch’ Louise Mumford

‘Fast-paced, emotional, disturbing. Lovers of cleverly plotted speculative fiction should jump on this’ Catherine McCarthy

‘Eve Smith has done it again! A brilliant read’ J.M. Hewitt

‘One of the most exciting writers around … master of the high-concept thriller’ Chris McDonald

‘Eve Smith has crafted a world that feels not only lived-in, but utterly plausible’ Russel McLean

‘Captivating’ Professor Joanna Verran

‘Eve Smith is becoming the Jodi Picoult of speculative medical thrillers’ The Reading Closet


Writer On The Shelf

Eve writes speculative fiction, mainly about the things that scare her. In this world of questionable facts, stats and news, she believes storytelling is more important than ever to engage people in real life issues. She attributes her love of all things dark and dystopian to a childhood watching Tales of the Unexpected and black-and-white Edgar Allen Poe double bills. Her new thriller, Off Target, is another chilling, prophetic page-turner set in a near future, when genetic engineering has become the norm for humans, not just crops, and parents are prepared to take incalculable risks to ensure their babies are perfect.

Eve’s previous job as COO of an environmental charity took her to research projects across Asia, Africa and the Americas, and she has an ongoing passion for wild creatures, wild science and far-flung places. When she’s not writing, she’s chasing across fields after her dog, attempting to organise herself and her family or off exploring somewhere new.

Find out more at http://www.evesmithauthor.com

Follow Eve: @evecsmith on Twitter, EveSmithAuthor on FB & Instagram

The Go Between

A coming-of-age story set in Birmingham in the 1980s and 1990s, The Go-Between opens a window into a closed migrant community living in a red-light district on the wrong side of the tracks.

The adult world is seen through Osman’s eyes as a child: his own devout Pashtun patriarchal community, with its divide between the world of men and women, living cheek-by-jowl with parallel migrant communities. The orthodox attend a mosque down the road from the prostitutes and pimps. Children balance Western school teachings with cultural traditions. 

Alternative masculinities compete with strict gender roles, and female erasure and honour-based violence are committed, even as empowering female friendships prevail. The stories Osman tells, some fantastical and humorous, others melancholy and even harrowing, take us from the Birmingham of Osman’s childhood to the banks of the river Kabul and the river Indus, and, eventually, to the London of his teenage years. 

Osman weaves in and out of these worlds, struggling with the dual burdens of racism and community expectations, as he is forced to realise it is no longer possible to exist in the spaces in between.

I absolutely love it when I find a book that I’ve had no preconceived ideas about that I just can’t put down. I was absolutely swept off my reading feet by this unforgettable and captivating read. I can’t stop talking about it as I want as many people as possible to pick up this book and be as caught up as I was in this skilful portrayal of Osman’s unique and original coming of age tale in a completely fresh and marvellously direct way.

It’s great when a book you pick up really ’speaks’ to you in a voice you can just hear in your mind’s eye and I feel that it allowed me to spend time with Osman getting to know him and his family through the pages. I just can’t stop thinking about the way that this alternative 80’s tale cast a spell on me. It is a testament to the power of the writing that you are absolutely inside this story and feel like you get to know the people whose lives you have become entangled in. Osman’s story was not only immersive but absolutely emotionally compelling too and the writing will keep you turning those pages as you start to see his Pashtun community in all its vivid and diverse glory.

The closed world is so skilfully portrayed that you get to know the community through the eyes of someone who understands all of the beauty as well as the challenges that comes from living in such a tight knit way, in a country and time period where so many people see you as ’other’. The skillful way that he weaves the many and diverse strands of characters and their stories in this very topical and timely tale is superbly done and remains intriguing throughout. I found it intriguing to experIence the time of my own coming of age, through this teally different pair if eyes and appreciated this unique opportunity to feel like you were part of a community that you’d normally feel so remote from.

I loved the way that this book wove ideas about both the personal and the community together in a really balanced way which allows you to move between them and get more insight into the complexity of growing up as an immigrant, feeling both part of your own culture and yet other to it. This is the perfect read for half term as its one you can really immerse yourself in, and would be an absolutely amazing book club choice – I guarantee that you’ll be recommending it to so many people afterwards – as you’ll not be able to stop thinking about this 100% original and beautifully written autobiographical tale and you’ll want to see what other readers think as soon as they’ve finished.

If you enjoy a read that challenges your preconceptions and tests your prejudices in a fresh and original way then you will love this book as much as I did.  I absolutely can’t recommend it enough and feel like I haven’t been so emotionally caught up in a book for a very long time. Its also unexpectedly funny and I found myself reading bits of it aloud to Mr OnTheShelf and he enjoyed it just as much as I did…

If you feel intrigued and would like to order yourself a copy and find out for yourself what has had such a huge impact on me, then buy yourself 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 – You know that I love an original read and I love reading more and more eclectic reads each year on her recommendation!


Writer On The Shelf

Praise for The Go Between

Osman’s compelling and humane memoir shines light into a hidden world I didn’t realise existed down the road from me. It’s an essential book that will help you understand multicultural Britain in all its complexities — SATHNAM SANGHERA

The Go-Between is a portrait of the artist as a young man in a strictly religious immigrant community. Its colorful, compulsively readable evocation of childhood clashes between faith and self, family and freedom, is profoundly moving and beautifully wrought. Yousefzada’s journey from the home of an illiterate seamstress, shadowed by domestic violence, is extraordinary to witness. This debut is both an essential meditation on identity, and a transcendently great story — KATIE ROIPHE

Featured in the April 2022 issue of Harper’s Bazaar US

What Elena Ferrante does for Italy, Osman’s The Go-Between does for Immigrant Britain ― Dazed

Yousefzada’s funny and fascinating story of moving between two cultures . . . this memoir a welcome exploration of time and place ― Stylist

Yousefzada is a gifted storyteller who writes with such tender care — MONA ARSHI

I don’t think I properly understood the true nature of multiculturalism before reading Osman Yousefzada’s The Go-Between. Only really good writing can bring alive the truth, the colour, the reality and the meaning of an experience like Osman’s. And he really is a good writer . . . I read with such pleasure, terror, amusement, admiration and fascination – it is surely one of the great childhood memoirs of our times — STEPHEN FRY

Arresting . . . skilled . . . moving . . . What really lingers are the vividnesses of [Yousefzada’s] childhood world, the struggles and griefs of his parents, and especially of his mother, to whose life he bears loving witness ― Guardian, Book of the Day

Will be featured in New York Times, Vogue.com, Harpersbazaar.com and Psychology Today in March/April 2022    

Profound and universal . . . a remarkable insight into multicultural Britain and the pain inherent in following your own path ― Guardian

Unhinged Blog Tour

When a police investigator is killed execution-style and Blix’s own daughter is targeted by the killer, he makes a dangerous decision, which could cost him everything. Blix & Ramm are back in a breathless, emotive thriller by two of Norway’s finest crime writers…

‘An exercise in literary tag-teaming from two of Norway’s biggest crime writers with a bold new take … a series with potential’ Sunday Times 

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When police investigator Sofia Kovic uncovers a startling connection between several Oslo murder cases, she attempts to contact her closest superior, Alexander Blix before involving anyone else in the department. But before Blix has time to return her call, Kovic is shot and killed in her own home – execution-style. And in the apartment below, Blix’s daughter Iselin narrowly escapes becoming the killer’s next victim.

Four days later, Blix and online crime journalist Emma Ramm are locked inside an interrogation room, facing the National Criminal Investigation Service. Blix has shot and killed a man, and Ramm saw it all happen.

As Iselin’s life hangs in the balance, under-fire Blix no longer knows who he can trust … and he’s not even certain that he’s killed the right man…

Two of Nordic Noir’s most brilliant writers return with the explosive, staggeringly accomplished, emotive third instalment in the international, bestselling Blix & Ramm series … and it will take your breath away.

Maybe it was because I’m just about to go traveling again for the first time in two years through Covid, that I was really drawn to reading a book set somewhere else. and Unhinged fit the bill perfectly. I was delighted to be invited on the tour by Anne Cater & Random Things Tours and couldn’t wait to travel vicariously to Norway and experience the third instalment of the fantastic Blix & Ramm series, told by two crime writers who are definitely operating at the very top of their form.

When people tell me that they never read translated fiction, I’m always amazed as it seems so short-sighted to imagine that the only people capable of telling good stories are the people who happen to speak your language. Fortunately, Karen from Orenda keeps me supplied with an outstandingly diverse range of talented writers and translators who ensure that I am sampling a worldwide palette of talent right across the reading year! Thanks so much for the incredible translator Megan Turney for bringing this tale so beautifully to life for us.

This book was everything that I’d been hoping it would be. This is the third installment in the “Blix and Ramm” series written in collaboration by two of the godfathers of Norwegian crime fiction, Jorn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger. Horst is famous for his Wisting series adapted into television, starring Sven Nordin as the protagonist. Enger created the renowned Henning Jull series, which I know many of my bookish friends absolutely love. Each of these writers uses his past experience to guide his take on crime writing – and with Horst as an ex-police officer and Enger as a journalist, you get a really rounded view of the investigation and are completely drawn into this gripping tale

I was really intrigued by the premise of the book: and the fact that Blix’s own daughter has got caught in the crossfire in this installment of their adventures really added to the story for me. This unusual premise and the vividly realized location had a huge impact on the way that the novel ‘hits’ and it’s safe to say that I read this installment in two greedy gulps as I was so invested in finding out how things would end up for Blix as the tension cranked up once the investigation begins. These are two very diverse protagonists, and we start to see their differing perspectives more clearly as this intelligently structured novel unfolds.

brown concrete building near body of water during daytime

I absolutely loved the tense and snappy atmosphere of this novel as we switch back and forth with the narrative structure, and definitely found it quite addictive. It was intriguing to see exactly how Blix was going to handle the diverse pressures that were piling up, especially the NCIS involvement, and for anyone who has not already devoured Smoke Screen or Death Deserved, I guarantee that you will be rushing out to buy a copy as the writing is so evocative that in a time-starved of travel, this is definitely the best way to vicariously experience a wholly different criminal experience, filtered through a totally ‘other’ culture and world view.

Even though some of this novel deals with a kind of crime you might already have ‘met’ in fiction, you’ll definitely feel that this is a hugely original take on the way that the investigation feels for the reader. Both Blix & Ramm feel very much like real people – rather than mechanisms to carry forth a criminal investigation– which I’ve often found in novels that are designed to get people turning the pages. I love the way that both of these writers’ former careers come together to provide us with a masterclass in atmospheric writing that doesn’t let up until you’re turning the final page.

person walking on street during daytime

This is a brilliant read- it’s so hard to talk about this novel without spoilers, so I’ll just tell you that you must read it for yourself. I love the way that these two protagonists are developing and it’s a series that I keep recommending to people who are tired of crime books that feel far too ‘samey’ I’d bloody love to see them on the big screen and I think that the originality and cleverness of the writing would translate so well into a series that I’m ever hopeful might get optioned. Treat yourself to a copy of this taut and compelling read, you definitely won’t regret it.

people gathering outside building

This is a book that I know I’ll be recommending to lots of people as I was totally immersed in its characterization,, its pace and the way it kept me on my toes. I can’t wait to see what these two do next. Thank you so much to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for having me on the tour. Team Orenda for life!

Writers On The Shelf

Thomas Enger is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of five books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news. Rights to the series have been sold to 28 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Killer Instinct, another Young Adult suspense novel, was published in Norway in 2017. Rights have been sold to Germany and Iceland. Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.
Follow him on Twitter @EngerThomas, or visit his website thomasenger.net

Jørn Lier Horst first rose to literary fame with his No.1 internationally bestselling William Wisting series. A former investigator in the Norwegian police, Horst imbues all his works with a dash of unparalleled realism and suspense.

Dalvi – Six Years in the Arctic Tundra

An ancestry test suggesting she shared some DNA with the Sámi people, the indigenous inhabitants of the Arctic tundra, tapped into Laura Galloway’s wanderlust; an affair with a Sámi reindeer herder ultimately led her to leave New York for the tiny town of Kautokeino, Norway. When her new boyfriend left her unexpectedly after six months, it would have been easy, and perhaps prudent, to return home. But she stayed for six years.

Dálvi is the story of Laura’s time in a reindeer-herding village in the Arctic, forging a solitary existence as she struggled to learn the language and make her way in a remote community for which there were no guidebooks or manuals for how to fit in. Her time in the North opened her to a new world. And it brought something else as well: reconciliation and peace with the traumatic events that had previously defined her – the sudden death of her mother when she was three, a difficult childhood and her lifelong search for connection and a sense of home.

Both a heart-rending memoir and a love letter to the singular landscape of the region, Dálvi explores with great warmth and humility what it means to truly belong.

It is minus fifteen Fahrenheit the first time I arrive in the Arctic, in dalvi

Regular visitors to my blog know that I just love non-fiction and adore being introduced to stories that I haven’t heard of before, or that I think I know all about and then feel absolutely amazed that I have so little real knowledge of the subject by the end of my reading.  I also love traveling and hearing about places I’ve never been to – and was absolutely intrigued to be offered a place on the blog tour and really wanted to find out more about life in the Arctic tundra from someone who’d had such a unique opportunity to live there. I was absolutely delighted when Gabrielle Drinkald wrote to me to ask if I’d like to be on the blog tour for Dalvi and I’m happy to report that I enjoyed discovering life in the Arctic with Laura every bit as much as I was anticipating.

ground covered with snow

I’m expecting that not many of you have even visited the Tundra – never mind had thre chance to immerse yourself in its people and culture by getting the chance to actually live there. This novel allows us a real insight into this mysterious and beautiful space, allowing us to gain a fresh perspective on a place that seems as otherworldly as mars to the general public at times and in this wonderfully readable book, we are privileged to see a way of life that few people have ever been lucky enough to experience.

landscape photography of mountain in snow

We are given a wide-ranging insight into life here, and it’s not just Laura’s own life events that are so vividly rendered in this book, we are also able to expand our view of the world at a time when it’s been so hard to leave our own front rooms. Because I am a huge fan of biographies, I was so excited to read about her life in context with what was going on in the wider world around her, as well as get a fresh insight into this legendary place at the same time and I feel that through reading Laura Galloway’s words I could connect with the life of the Sami people in a very real way.

What I loved about the book was the feeling of getting to know this beautiful and fascinating place through being able to turn the pages of this book and feel like you are able to gain a small insight into Laura’s inner thoughts and feelings as her life there unfolded. It was also very interesting to hear about this place from the perspective of the other people who lived there, and see what living there was

I absolutely loved this intriguing and original book that transports you to a place where you can really connect with these characters and their lives. You do not have to be a nature lover, or fan of the Arctic fan to get drawn into this beautifully written story of self-discovery as well as travel, and you will be captivated by the range of experiences that you might never have imagined in this remote and unfamiliar place

ice blocks during daytime

I love doing my research after finishing a book I’ve enjoyed and if you are intrigued by this story, you could find out more here. You will be able to see other people and places and read all about the things that Laura describes to us, now that we have vicariously experienced it through her book. Her grit and resilience will astonish you and noone could finish this book without being moved, awed and inspired by her literal and metaphorical journey.

If you are intrigued by the sound of Dalvi, and would like to read more about this epic place then you should definitely buy yourself a copy of this fascinating read  if you feel intrigued to know more. Thank you to Gabrielle for always suggesting the most tempting reads and look back over the other blogposts below…

Meeting Laura Galloway in the pages of her memoir has been like dropping into the incredible life of someone who inspires you to the moon and back. How far would you go to save your own life? For Laura the answer is to the ends of the earth. This astonishing, tender, jaw-dropping story is a page turner.

Take this unforgettable journey with Laura and return with gems for your own life. — Sheri Salata, author of THE BEAUTIFUL NO: AND OTHER TALES OF TRIAL, TRANSCENDENCE AND TRANSFORMATION

Laura Galloway’s account of her escape to a new life in the Arctic tundra is an enchanting tale of courage, hope and breath-taking grit. I loved it. — Christina Patterson, author of THE ART OF NOT FALLING APART

An affecting memoir and a paean to the singular climate and landscape of the Arctic, Dálvi (winter in northern Sámi) is a profound exploration of connections lost and found. ― Traveller

[A] fascinating memoir. ― The New European

Remarkable…intriguing…readers can’t help but be impressed by her drive ― Los Angeles Review of Books

[T]his remarkable memoir is as stirring as it is gripping… a joyous, life-affirming read. ― LoveReading

Writer On The Shelf

Laura Galloway is a writer and communications strategist.

She began her career at the Los Angeles Times and holds a Master of Arts in Indigenous Journalism from the Sámi University of Applied Sciences in Kautokeino, Norway, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Southern California.

An ardent animal lover, she and her partner live with her two reindeer-herding dogs and two cats.

Twitter @lauragalloway @midaspr @gabriellamay @AllenAndUnwinUK