The Doll Funeral by @Kate_Hamer #review @faberbooks

The Doll Funeral by [Hamer, Kate]

I enjoyed Kate Hamer’s debut novel The Girl in the Red Coat when I read that a couple of years ago so was really pleased to to be asked to take part in the blogtour to celebrate paperback publication of her latest novel, The Doll Funeral.

The Doll Funeral is a book I find difficult to categorise. It’s not quite a psychological thriller, it’s not quite domestic drama, it’s not quite paranormal but a blend of all three which works remarkably well. Its also quite difficult to talk about without giving too much away. At the heart of the story is Ruby, a thirteen year old who has just been told that she has been adopted. Rather than this being a huge shock, it is instead a huge relief to Ruby. Barbara and Mick have never exactly been the most loving of parents, especially violent Mick, and the fantasy of finding her real parents suddenly becomes reality for Ruby. In between Ruby’s story, we also go back to 1970 and read about Ruby’s birth mother Anna, a young mother struggling to cope with the demands of married life and a young baby in a place far from home.

Ruby is a most unusual girl. She seems wise beyond her thirteen years and is of striking appearance with a vivid birthmark surrounding her eye. She is quite a remarkable character with an unusual way of seeing the world. Indeed, what she can see or believes she can see is a very important strand of the book. There are quite dark themes covered such as mental illness, domestic abuse and the lines between truth and secrets became quite blurred at times. It was difficult to know who or what to trust both for the characters and the reader which made for a really intriguing read.

What really stood out for me in this book was the lyrical quality of the writing. Kate Hamer has a remarkable turn of phrase particularly when describing the Forest of Dean, a place of great significance throughout the book. Through her words she created a very visual image in my head of the canopy of trees, the forest floor, the foliage throughout the seasons as well as the sounds and smells of the forest. 

Relationships between parents and children, particularly mothers and daughters, form an important part of the narrative and it is these relationships which really touched the emotions. It is a haunting book, full of beautiful imagery and mysteries.

My thanks to Joanna Lee at Faber Books for my copy of the book. The Doll Funeral is available now at all good bookshops or you can order a copy online here: The Doll Funeral

From the back of the book

My name is Ruby. I live with Barbara and Mick. They’re not my real parents, but they tell me what to do, and what to say. I’m supposed to say that the bruises on my arms and the black eye came from falling down the stairs.

But there are things I won’t say. I won’t tell them I’m going to hunt for my real parents. I don’t say a word about Shadow, who sits on the stairs, or the Wasp Lady I saw on the way to bed.

I did tell Mick that I saw the woman in the buttercup dress, hanging upside down from her seat belt deep in the forest at the back of our house. I told him I saw death crawl out of her. He said he’d give me a medal for lying.

I wasn’t lying. I’m a hunter for lost souls and I’m going to be with my real family. And I’m not going to let Mick stop me.

DF blog tour (2)

About the author

Kate Hamer

Kate Hamer’s first novel ‘The Girl in the Red Coat’ (Faber & Faber, 2015) was shortlisted for The Costa First Novel Prize, the British Book Industry Awards Debut Fiction Book of the Year, the John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger and the Wales Book of the Year. It was a Sunday Times bestseller and has been translated into 18 different languages. Kate won the Rhys Davies Short Story Prize and she has had short stories published in anthologies such ‘A Fiction Map of Wales’, ‘New Welsh Short Stories’ and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She’s written articles and reviews for The Independent, The Mail on Sunday and The New York Times. Kate grew up in the West country and rural Pembrokeshire and now lives with her husband in Cardiff. Her second novel ‘The Doll Funeral’ was a Bookseller book of the month and an editor’s pick for Radio 4’s Open Book.

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan #review @svaughanauthor @simonschusterUK

Anatomy of a Scandal by [Vaughan, Sarah]


I have read and thoroughly enjoyed both previous books by Sarah Vaughan – you can read my reviews here – The Art of Baking Blind, The Farm at the Edge of the World. In fact The Farm at The Edge of the World was one of my favourite reads in 2016. So I was truly delighted to be offered the opportunity to receive a very advanced copy of her forthcoming novel Anatomy of a Scandal. I knew it was quite a departure from her previous novels being a darker psychological drama, but I’m pleased to say it didn’t disappoint at all and could easily be one of this year’s top reads.

The book follows a high profile court case where well-known and successful politician James Whitehouse has been accused of a serious crime by one of his parliamentary researchers.  His wife Sophie is convinced that James is innocent and wants desperately to protect her young children from the scandal. Kate Woodcroft is the prosecuting barrister. She specialises in these kinds of cases but is perhaps a little too close to this particular case for comfort. As well as following these three characters both in and out the courtroom as the case progresses, the reader learns about James’ time at Oxford University and the privileged lifestyle he led then.

Anatomy of a Scandal is a book which really makes the reader consider all kinds of ethical issues regarding the alleged crime and the courtcase. It would be an excellent book for a book group to read and discuss as it could provoke all kinds of debate about sexual crimes and the difficulty of proving guilt when there is just one person’s word against another. I really felt for the alleged victim Olivia (and other women) on whose behalf Kate was working. The nightmare of going to court and effectively being put on trial themselves was evident. You can certainly see why some women just don’t want to go through it all when they are forced to discuss very private and intimate details about their lives. I can only hope that there are dedicated barristers like Kate out there fighting as hard as they can for justice.

The three main characters are all very convincingly depicted, with none being shown as completely without their faults and weaknesses. My feelings towards them changed throughout the narrative as I veered between sympathy and disgust, understanding and disbelief. At several points I wondered what I would have done in their situations and quite often I honestly wasn’t sure. At times everything seemed very clear-cut, particularly in regard to the court-case, and then another piece of information would be revealed which would muddy the waters. It is a very topical storyline, explored in great depth and you will be thinking about the issues raised long after you have finished the book.

I thought this was a truly outstanding read which deserves to be one of the big successes of 2018. It is beautifully written, as I have come to expect from this author, and utterly compelling.

 My thanks to the publishers Simon & Schuster for my copy of the book. It will be published in hardback and as an e-book on 11 January 2018. It is available to pre-order here: Anatomy of Scandal

Sarah Vaughan

Sarah Vaughan read English at Oxford and went on to become a journalist. After eleven years at the Guardian working as a news reporter, health correspondent and political correspondent, she started freelancing. Sarah lives near Cambridge with her husband and two small children.

From the back of the book

You want to believe your husband. She wants to destroy him.

Gripping psychological drama for fans of Apple Tree Yard, The Good Wife and Notes on a Scandal.

Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is sure her husband, James, is innocent and desperately hopes to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them. Kate is the barrister who will prosecute the case – she is equally certain that James is guilty and determined he will pay for his crimes.


A high-profile marriage thrust into the spotlight. A wife, determined to keep her family safe, must face a prosecutor who believes justice has been a long time coming. A scandal that will rock Westminster. And the women caught at the heart of it. 

Emma from Star Crossed Reviews #BloggerInTheSpotlight @starcrossed89


Well it’s been a while since I had a Blogger in the Spotlight feature to share with you but I have a few lined up for the next wee while. If you are a book blogger who fancies taking part, please email me on and I’ll send you the questions.

Today I am featuring the lovely Emma who blogs at StarCrossedReviews. In the photo above she is with author Lindsey Kelk and Emma tells me she met her again in September during her ‘I Heart Forever’ tour. As you’ll find out from one of Emma’s answers she’s quite a fan of the series.

Thanks for agreeing to be part of my Blogger in the Spotlight feature Emma. First of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?

Hello!!! For those of you that don’t know my name is Emma and I love reading. You may have previously known me as Chicklit vs Fantasy. My favourite genres if you hadn’t already guessed are Chicklit and Fantasy, I also love the sub genre paranormal and I read a lot of YA fantasy. have recently got into crime books too. I’m 27 but still pretending I’m 23. I live with my boyfriend and our Frenchie Basil. I have 5 brothers and growing up being the only girl taught me a lot about the other sex and exactly how to get them to see things your way. I’m a chocoholic and a bit of foodie. I love to eat but only enjoy cooking when I have a lot of time. I’ve always been a girly girl who loves make up and nails but I’m not the best at either lol. I’ve been a book blogger for 3 years now and it’s hands down the best decision I ever made.

What books/authors did you enjoy as a child?

I read this series of books about puppies. I really wanted a dog when I was younger but my parents said no at the time. I remember there was a farm where this black  and white border collie lived and other dogs would visit the farm.  They had dog training sessions and I think they did dog boarding. Each book would focus on a different dog and their story. I can’t for the life of me remember its name but I had about 20 of them. My mum gave me a Winnie the Pooh book for my 8th birthday which I still have and treasure. I also loved Jacqueline Wilson books and Harry Potter when I got a little older.

What do you enjoy most about blogging?

I love the community and that feeling when someone says they will read a book based on your review. There’s nothing quite like it.

Tell me about your blog – sell yourself!

I am not very good at selling myself but my blog is full of reviews of wonderful books, Q&A’s with authors, a few guest posts and lots of book news for you.

What’s your favourite book you’ve reviewed in the past year? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose.

A Song for Tomorrow by [Peterson, Alice]

I have read so many good books but the stand out for me is A Song for Tomorrow by Alice Peterson. This book had a personal connection as 2 of my brothers have CF like the main character.

What are you reading just now? (November 2017)

Lucy's Book Club for the Lost and Found: A heartwarming feel good romance novel by [Davies, Emma]

I am reading Lucy’s Book club for the Lost and Found by Emma Davies. I’m only a little way in but I’m really enjoying it.  

If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?

That is SO difficult. Erm probably one of the Harry Potter books.

How can people follow your blog or connect with you on social media?

If you have wordpress you can follow

otherwise I am on Bloglovin’




And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?

Oh wow toughie. Ok erm I would be Angela Clarke from Lindsey Kelk’s I heart series. If you have read the books you will know that Angela is the coolest. She is very brave.  She also goes through some of the most unfortunate things but comes out stronger for them. I heart Angela.

I Heart London (I Heart Series, Book 5) by [Kelk, Lindsey]

Three Things About Elsie by @JoannaCannon @bisscakes @boroughpress

I could not have picked a more perfect book to begin my 2018 reading year. I loved The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by the same author which I read a couple of years ago and I think this is even better. Although it is the first book I read in 2018, I am certain it will be in my and many other people’s Top Reads list come the end of the year. This is a book rainy days are made for, days when you can curl up and just savour the wonderful, insightful writing because once you start, trust me, you won’t want to put it down.

Florence has had a fall in her sheltered housing flat and as she lies on the floor, waiting to be found she reflects on her life. In between her memories, the reader also finds out about her more recent life experiences from Florence herself and staff members Handy Simon and Miss Ambrose. Florence is clearly living with some form of dementia and although it seems from others’ reactions that her condition may be deteriorating, Florence is quite adamant that she is not responsible for the strange things happening around her. As she says rather poignantly though, “I can’t find a memory I can trust”.  Elsie is her best friend. Friends from their childhood days, she can always say just the right thing to make Florence feel better and she also knows some big secrets from the past.

As you can probably guess from that opening paragraph, I absolutely adored this book. It is full of characters you will take to your heart, characters who are fully rounded, have their flaws, are ordinary yet extraordinary at the same time. Florence is the one whose voice we hear most often and the character I loved the most. I had a soft spot for Handy Simon too though, a character who did not seem to have much self-worth at the beginning of the book but grew in confidence and self-belief throughout. The power of friendship and kindness is all too evident. Fellow resident Jack is another character whose kindness and belief in Florence helps her to believe in herself even if she can’t trust her memory so well any more. 

There is so many layers to this book, not least of which are several mysteries: what happened to Beryl, Elsie’s sister, who exactly is Gilbert Price, what is the big secret Florence has been carrying all her life and who is responsible for all the strange things happening in her flat? It is not until the closing chapters, as the mysteries are resolved, that we see how seemingly insignificant moments mentioned earlier in the book are in fact all connected.

And that to me is the main message I took from the book – that we are all connected. As all the pieces of the story fall into place, like the jigsaw pieces on the front cover, each life is connected in so many ways to so many others. Each life, no matter how ordinary it seems, has a profound effect on so many others. In one of many passages I marked for its beautifully written perception, this conversation between Handy Simon and Florence sums it up. They are talking about a fossil which one of the care-home residents owns, but I feel it is equally relevant to the lives of the characters and indeed every one of our lives:

“Before this fossil was found….. it was still influential, wasn’t it? It changed the universe in some way. We just don’t know how…… And everything it influenced, all those things will change the universe in some way too. I don’t suppose we’ll ever know the impact it made.” “No matter how long or short a time you are here, the world is ever so slightly different because you existed”

I hope I have convinced you to read this wonderful book. It’s about friendship and trust, valuing yourself, respecting others and finding your place in life. With wonderful, warm, sensitive writing Three Things About Elsie will provoke all kinds of emotions as you read and may leave you with a lump in your throat but also with a song in your heart.

My thanks to Ann Bissell at The Borough Press for my review copy of this book. It will be published on January 11th in hardback and ebook though the paperback won’t follow until next year.  Don’t wait though, buy it now! It will be available in all good bookshops or you can order a copy online here: Three Things About Elsie

From the back of the book

There are three things you should know about Elsie.

The first thing is that she’s my best friend.

The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better.

And the third thing… might take a little bit more explaining.

84-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, Florence wonders if a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light; and, if the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly a man who died sixty years ago?

From the author of THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP, this book will teach you many things, but here are three of them:

1) The fine threads of humanity will connect us all forever.

2) There is so very much more to anyone than the worst thing they have ever done.

3) Even the smallest life can leave the loudest echo.

Holiday reading mini- reviews


I always try to take a bit time at the end of the year to fit in a few books from my personal to-be-read pile which does tend to get a bit neglected throughout the year! Here are a few short reviews for books which I read over the holidays. Click the book title to see the full book information or order on Amazon.


All That She Can See: Every little thing she bakes is magic by [Fletcher, Carrie Hope]

All That She Can See by Carrie Hope Fletcher 

I won this in a competition and was really looking forward to it. I have to admit though that this wasn’t a book for me and I  was a bit disappointed in it. The idea of mixing some kind of magic into food to help people reminded me of Joanne Harris’s Chocolat which I much prefer. I was rather surprised to find a dystopian aspect abruptly appear in the second part of the book which didn’t seem to fit with the romantic mystical element of the first half. I didn’t think it was badly written or anything, just a storyline which didn’t work for me.


Second Chance Cafe by [Prowse, Amanda]

The Second Chance Cafe by Amanda Prowse

I can always rely on Amanda Prowse for a heartwarming enjoyable read and this may be my new favourite of hers. Loved the Edinburgh setting at Christmas though it’s definitely not just a book for Christmas. Family drama with all the relationships and emotions insightfully portrayed. Wonderful, wonderful story with just the perfect ending. I must say though, I can’t imagine how much two weeks in The Balmoral just before Christmas would cost! This is currently only 99p for Kindle.


Fault Lines by [Johnstone, Doug]

Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone

I can’t say too much about this as it is a very early review copy. The Kindle version is available at the end of February, though you can pre-order now, and the paperback will follow in May. What I can say is that I think this is Doug Johnstone’s best novel yet and I absolutely devoured it! I am looking rather nervously at the Firth of Forth, which I can see from my house, just in case a new volcanic island appears as it does in the book!


The House on Cocoa Beach by [Williams, Beatriz]

The House on Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams

The House on Cocoa Beach is a gorgeous, escapist read. Full of passion, lies, danger and betrayal, it’s a sweeping epic which moves from the WW1 battlefields of France to the beaches of Florida in the 1920s. Its compelling storytelling transports you to another era. The final chapters made for heartstopping reading and the epilogue was very intriguing, leaving me wanting to know more.


Face the Wind and fly (The Heartlands Series Book 1) by [Harper, Jenny]
Face the Wind and Fly by Jenny Harper

Face the Wind and Fly tackles the topical issue of renewable energy in the face of community opposition. Kate Courtenay is a successful engineer but faces a challenge when asked to take the lead for a wind farm project in her own community.  She faces strong and very vocal opposition. I actually quite like wind turbines myself but can see why people think they’re unsightly. However, it’s not just her work life where things are difficult. Her son Ninian seems to be turning into a truculent teen who seems more perceptive than his mother! Her husband Andrew is considerably older than her and a successful author but is he seeing rather too much of one particular young fan? A vocal opponent of the wind farm is gardener Ibsen who has a very personal reason to be opposed. They are clearly attracted to each other but fight their feelings due to their being on opposing sides. I really enjoyed this well written and perceptive novel and learned a lot myself about wind power. I must also mention how much I enjoy the setting of the novel, the fictional Heartlands, just outside Edinburgh which the author describes so well. This is currently only 99p for Kindle.

So that’s a few books ticked off my list. If you read my post last week you’ll know there are plenty of books I’m looking forward to reading this year. I have just written up my review for Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon which seems to be universally loved going by the reviews I’ve read so far and I’ll certainly be adding to that love. That will be my first review of the year tomorrow. I’m sharing my review of the remarkable Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan on Monday and trust me, that’s going to be a huge success this year.  I’m also on the blogtour for Kate Hamer’s The Doll Funeral next week so watch out for my review of that too. 

And finally, I’m pleased to have a few more people lined up to take part in my Blogger in the Spotlight feature soon and will be starting with Emma from Star Crossed Reviews on Friday.  If you are a blogger interested in doing this, please do email me at and we’ll get that set up. 

Books to look forward to in 2018

I thought I’d round off this year with a quick look at some books being published in 2018 I’m looking forward to reading.


I'll Keep You Safe: the sensational new Hebrides-set thriller by [May, Peter]

Peter May – I’ll Keep You Safe 

I loved Peter May’s Lewis trilogy as well as Exit Island and Coffin Road. Looking forward to reading this one also set on Lewis and Harris. To be published by Riverrun on 11th January.


Niamh and Ruairidh Macfarlane co-own the Hebridean company Ranish Tweed. On a business trip to Paris to promote their luxury brand, Niamh learns of Ruairidh’s affair, and then looks on as he and his lover are killed by a car bomb. She returns home to Lewis, bereft.


Niamh begins to look back on her life with Ruairidh, desperate to identify anyone who may have held a grudge against him. The French police, meanwhile, have ruled out terrorism, and ruled in murder – and sent Detective Sylvie Braque to shadow their prime suspect: Niamh.


As one woman works back through her memories, and the other moves forward with her investigation, the two draw ever closer to a deadly enemy with their own, murderous, designs.



Anatomy of a Scandal: The brilliant, must-read novel of 2018 by [Vaughan, Sarah]

Sarah Vaughan – Anatomy of a Scandal

I have actually already read this and it is superb! Due to be published on 11th January by Simon & Schuster. 

Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is sure her husband, James, is innocent and desperately hopes to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them. Kate is the barrister who will prosecute the case – she is equally certain that James is guilty and determined he will pay for his crimes.



The Confession: The most addictive debut thriller of 2018! by [Spain, Jo]

Jo Spain – The Confession

Another due for publication on 11th January (by Penguin), obviously a popular date with publishers! I have really enjoyed all Jo Spain’s DI Tom Reynolds books and this sounds another cracking read!

Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear.

Just an hour later the attacker, JP Carney, has handed himself in to the police. He confesses to beating Harry to death, but JP claims that the assault was not premeditated and that he didn’t know the identity of his victim. With a man as notorious as Harry McNamara, the detectives cannot help wondering, was this really a random act of violence or is it linked to one of Harry’s many sins: corruption, greed, betrayal?

This gripping psychological thriller will have you questioning, who – of Harry, Julie and JP – is really the guilty one? And is Carney’s surrender driven by a guilty conscience or is his confession a calculated move in a deadly game?



Still Me by [Moyes, Jojo]

Jojo Moyes – Still Me

Very excited to have a proof copy of this to read and so looking forward to following Lou on her New York adventure. Also due to be published in January which is shaping up to be a great reading month but this one is published a little later in the month on 25th by Penguin Books. 

Lou Clark knows too many things . . .

She knows how many miles lie between her new home in New York and her new boyfriend Sam in London.

She knows her employer is a good man and she knows his wife is keeping a secret from him.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to meet someone who’s going to turn her whole life upside down.

Because Josh will remind her so much of a man she used to know that it’ll hurt.

Lou won’t know what to do next, but she knows that whatever she chooses is going to change everything.



Let Me Lie by [Mackintosh, Clare]

Claire Mackintosh – Let Me Lie

The latest from the author of the incredible I Let You Go and I See You is back with a book published on 8th March by Sphere and it sounds amazing.

The police say it was suicide.
Anna says it was murder.
They’re both wrong.

One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since.

Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to ask questions about her parents’ deaths. But by digging up the past, is she putting her future in danger? Sometimes it’s safer to let things lie . . .



Anna: One Love, Two Stories by [Prowse, Amanda]   Theo: One Love, Two Stories by [Prowse, Amanda]


Amanda Prowse – Anna and Theo

Not one but two books to look forward to from Amanda Prowse, Anna is due to be published on 8th March by Head of Zeus with the other side of the story, Theo, to be published on 5th April.

There are two sides to every love story…

Anna Cole grew up in care, and wants to start a family of her own. Theo Montgomery had a loveless childhood, and wants to find his soulmate.

Then, one day, Theo meets Anna, and Anna meets Theo.

Each shows the other how to love. And each shows the other what heartbreak feels like…



The Trick to Time by [Waal, Kit de]

Kit de Waal – The Trick to Time

I so enjoyed My Name is Leon, Kit de Waal’s debut novel and this sounds amazing too. And just how beautiful is that cover? The Trick to Time will be published by Penguin on 29th March.

Mona is a dollmaker. She crafts beautiful, handmade wooden dolls in her workshop in a sleepy seaside town. Every doll is special. Every doll has a name. And every doll has a hidden meaning, from a past Mona has never accepted.

Each new doll takes Mona back to a different time entirely – back to Birmingham, in 1972. Back to the thrill of being a young Irish girl in a big city, with a new job and a room of her own in a busy boarding house. Back to her first night out in town, where she meets William, a gentle Irish boy with an easy smile and an open face. Back to their whirlwind marriage, and unexpected pregnancy. And finally, to the tragedy that tore them apart.


Faultlines by Doug Johnstone

This is another I’ve been lucky enough to have a very early copy of. This latest novel from local author Doug Johnstone will be published by Orenda Books on 22nd May and I think it’s his best yet! As my house overlooks the Firth of Forth where, in the book, a new volcanic island has emerged, I am wondering whether I need to think about moving….

In a reimagined contemporary Edinburgh, in which a tectonic fault has opened up to produce a new volcano in the Firth of Forth, and where tremors are an everyday occurrence, volcanologist Surtsey makes a shocking discovery. On a clandestine trip to The Inch – the new volcanic island – to meet Tom, her lover and her boss, she finds his lifeless body. Surtsey’s life quickly spirals into a nightmare when someone makes contact – someone who claims to know what she’s done…



Transcription by [Atkinson, Kate]

Kate Atkinson – Transcription

Looking much further ahead, Kate Atkinson’s new novel Transcription will be published by Doubleday on 6th September 2018. I am a huge fan of this author and have no doubt I’ll enjoy this too. (Secretly I keep hoping for another Jackson Brodie novel!)

Transcription is a bravura novel of extraordinary power and substance. Juliet Armstrong is recruited as a young woman by an obscure wartime department of the Secret Service. In the aftermath of war she joins the BBC, where her life begins to unravel, and she finally has to come to terms with the consequences of idealism.



Studies for Resilience by [Gale, Patrick]

Patrick Gale – Studies for Resilience

As you can see, the cover for Patrick Gale’s new novel is yet to be revealed. He is one of my all time favourite authors so I am very excited to read his latest, due to be published on 6th September by Tinder Press.

1970s Weston-Super-Mare and ten-year-old oddball Eustace, an only child, has life transformed by his mother’s quixotic decision to sign him up for cello lessons. Music-making brings release for a boy who is discovering he is an emotional volcano. He laps up lessons from his young teacher, not noticing how her brand of glamour is casting a damaging spell over his frustrated and controlling mother.

When he is enrolled in holiday courses in the Scottish borders, lessons in love, rejection and humility are added to daily practice.

Drawing in part on his own boyhood, Patrick Gale’s new novel explores a collision between childish hero worship and extremely messy adult love lives.


So there you have just a selection of what I am looking forward to reading next year. I wonder what other amazing books I will read over the next few months? Do you have any you are looking forward to? Let me know in the comments. Happy New Year to all my readers!

The Girl I Used to Know by Faith Hogan @gerhogan #review @aria_fiction

Review copy from publisher


If I hadn’t already compiled by Top Reads for 2017, which happens to include another Faith Hogan book, Secrets We Keep, this book would have been a strong contender. 

In The Girl I Used to Know we have two strong female lead characters in Tess Cuffe and Amanda King. These two share a house though not particularly willingly. Tess rents the scruffy basement flat of Amanda and Richard King’s large and immaculate Georgian house in Dublin. The two do not have what you would call a warm relationship since Richard has tried unsuccessfully and at great expense to evict Tess. 

On the outside, Amanda appears to have the perfect life. In her 40s, she has two children, a beautifully stylish house, a successful and handsome husband and a group of stylish friends. Yet Amanda is increasingly wondering what happened to her life. She hardly sees her husband as he is constantly at work, her teenage son in particular is turning into a sneering youth with barely disguised contempt, she feels that her life has lost its way and she has lost her sense of who she really is along the way.

Tess is in her 60s, lives alone and appears to delight in being cantankerous. Her health isn’t the best and she has no friends. She didn’t initially seem to be a character who I would warm to she seemed to have very little redeeming characteristics. But with the arrival of Matt on her doorstep (a great addition to the story!) we soon begin to see her softer side.

Through the chapters woven through the book from years gone by, the author shows her readers the girls both Tess and Amanda used to be. I was so intrigued about what had happened in Tess’s life in particular to change her from the optimistic girl moving to Dublin to start at Uni to the grumpy woman, living alone with no enthusiasm for life. Faith Hogan writes movingly and with great insight about how Tess and Amanda’s hopes and dreams slowly ebbed away leaving them both with disappointing realities, and lives they felt trapped in. I loved the way the women blossomed and grew in confidence as they took the first tentative steps towards friendship just as their new keep fit routines saw them taking steps round the square where they lived. The author had just the right balance of insights into the past blended with their present lives to create understanding and empathy with her characters.

A wonderful warm-hearted book about missed opportunities, second chances, friendship and how it’s never too late to have a new adventure and to find love.

My thanks to the publishers Aria Fiction for my review copy of this book. The Girl I Used to Know is available now as an ebook and at the time of writing is only 99p. You can order a copy on the following links.





From the back of the book

A beautiful, emotive and spell-binding story of two women who find friendship and second chances when they least expect it. Perfect for the fans of Patricia Scanlan.

Amanda King and Tess Cuffe are strangers who share the same Georgian house, but their lives couldn’t be more different.

Amanda seems to have it all, absolute perfection. She projects all the accoutrements of a lady who lunches. Sadly, the reality is a soulless home, an unfaithful husband and a very lonely heart.

By comparison, in the basement flat, unwanted tenant Tess has spent a lifetime hiding and shutting her heart to love.

It takes a bossy doctor, a handsome gardener, a pushy teenager and an abandoned cat to show these two women that sometimes letting go is the first step to moving forward and new friendships can come from the most unlikely situations.


Faith Hogan portrait for inside cover of her book

Faith Hogan

Faith Hogan was born in Ireland.  She gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway.  She has worked as a fashion model, an event’s organiser and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.

She was a winner in the 2014 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair – an international competition for emerging writers.

Connect with Faith Hogan:

Twitter (her favourite)

On Facebook:


Web Page.

If you have missed any of the blog tour so far, here are all the details of who has taken part. Don’t miss Novel Gossip tomorrow and Boon’s Bookcase who is rounding off the tour on Friday.

TGIUTK Blog tour banner