A Litany of Good Intentions by Andrew Harris – Review.


About the Book

An end to world poverty is more than just a dream for young Chinese philanthropist Jock Lim. Through his charity connections, Jock has discovered a way to release 2.6 billion people from the imminent threat of death and disease.
Unpublished work by Albert Einstein helped unlock the scientific breakthrough that will
remove the constraints of Third World living conditions and create a new age of global
But not everyone will prosper.
Dr Hannah Siekierkowski is a guest speaker at a conference in Sweden where Einstein’s legacy and a strategic alliance with Rotary will light up the world. As the clock ticks down to the announcement, Hannah is drawn into a web of corporate greed, racial prejudice and a seething hatred of the new world order.
A hatred that someone is prepared to kill for.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

A Litany of Good Intentions is a slightly different novel for me, whilst there are crimes committed they are not just of the murderous kind. Instead the focus is on the crimes against humanity, from some who have the wealth and power towards those who have nothing.
Much of the novel takes place in India and even though it was difficult to read it was the part that interested me the most. I had been told years ago of the contrast between the rich and the poor by a family member who had to go on a business trip and was appalled. Reading this novel and remembering his account left me feeling sickened.
Nothing is restrained or made to sound anything different to how it must be. The reader can visualise the extreme conditions that some people live in. And you could also see that there were people who were prepared to suffer hardship themselves whilst trying to improve the life of others.
There were many characters in the novel, at times I had to read back to remind myself who they were. In part two, the novel goes back to various periods and countries in the 1900s. At first I wasn’t sure why, but it is explained later in the book.
It is very well written and even though it was part two in a trilogy I had no issues with not reading part one. It is strange to read a fictional novel that contains so much fact. At times it felt like a documentary but there is enough fiction to keep the storyline going. There are many strong characters and I hope that some of them will appear in the final book.

The Whitstable High Tide Swimming Club – Diving In by Katie May – Blog Tour Review.


About the Book

In the gorgeous seaside town of Whitstable, broken-hearted Deb begins to swim each day and gathers a new group of friends around her. But can the magic of sea heal the hurt of the past? Or will family ties drag her underwater again?
A heart-warming, funny and poignant story of romance, friendship and second chances. It’s also a song to the author’s home town of Whitstable, where the sea is smooth, the shingle is painful on bare feet, and the air is full of possibilities.

My Review

The Whitstable High Tide Swimming Club – Diving In is the first part of a trilogy that will be released over the next few months. I have only ever seen something like this once before and liked the idea then.
After reading this delightful novella I am eagerly looking forward to part two. I liked Debs very much, and had a lot of sympathy for her and the way she felt she was treated by her estranged husband and adult children. I can see some great friendships form between all the women, even though they don’t initially have much in common. Part one focused mainly on Debs and Marcie, I feel that each of the women will be focused on in the rest of the series. One of them I wasn’t keen on but if we do get to know more about her later my feeling may change.
It’s not an area I know but I could picture it clearly. A quieter area of a seaside town that has the usual beach huts and bars that the little club wanted to protect. They all get pleasure from the club and all use it for different reasons.
There is poignancy and loneliness, humour and loss. And an overwhelming unity to keep the club going. Bring on Part Two.
With thanks for the publisher for the copy received for review.


Cocktail Hour

Cocktail inspired by The Whitstable High Tide Swimming Club from Katie May.

My Instagram feed is testimony to the fact that I’m a bit of a cocktail fiend. Here is a cocktail to sip while you read.
West Beach Martini
A fragrant dry martini that reminds me of the beach in high summer.
50 ml gin (I love Bombay Sapphire in this)
I tsp white vermouth
1 strip orange zest
1 sprig rosemary
1 pinch sea salt

Half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
Add all the ingredients, crushing the rosemary between your fingers as you put it in (this releases the oils).
Shake very well, and strain into a martini glass.
Garnish with another shred of orange zest, or an olive

28775 Whitstable blog tour landscape

House of Spines by Michael Malone – Blog Tour Review.


About the Book

A terrifying psychological thriller cum Gothic mystery, as a young man with mental health issues inherits an isolate mansion, where all is not as it seems…
Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who it seems has been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, it seems Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror… the reflection of a woman… A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…

My Review

House of Spines is completely different to A Suitable Lie, the author’s previous novel and demonstrates that Michael Malone has more than one string to his bow. It is a dark thriller with a gothic slant that is at times creepy and  has an unreliable narrator. I like these types of novels a lot, and I imagine that they are difficult to write – this book does not disappoint.
Ran is very surprised when he discovers that he has inherited a mansion complete with huge library on the outskirts of Glasgow. He had never known any of his mother’s family, and never knew about their wealth. One of the few conditions he has to abide by is that the library stays intact. Initially he is overwhelmed and very happy but he soon starts to suffer. There is something unhealthy about the house, his mental state is under strain and it doesn’t take long for him to feel under pressure.
Firstly. I loved the title. The Spines are not human spines, they are the spines of the novels in the library. I could just picture the size of the library and how it must have looked. There couldn’t have been a more fitting title. With regards to the novel itself, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a more unreliable narrator than Ran. Knowing his past problems, the loss of his parents, the medication he stopped taking that controlled his bipolar condition made me question everything. I couldn’t work out which was reality and which was hallucinatory.
There are likeable and unlikeable characters, some of the more likeable characters do things that aren’t very nice, but you could see why they did them. There were a few moments where I had goosebumps. I would have liked more but I felt that the novel was more than just a gothic thriller, it was also a study of mental health and coercion. It had an unsettling ending that left me very uneasy. I sometimes wish the reader could know what happens after the last page has been turned. House of Spines is one of the better novels of this type that I have read this year.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received for review.


Maria In The Moon by Louise Beech – Blog Tour Review.


About the Book

Long ago my beloved Nanny Eve chose my name. Then one day she stopped calling me it. I try now to remember why, but I just can’t.’ Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria. With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges … and changes everything. Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…

My Review

Catherine, whose house was badly damaged in the Hull floods volunteers on a helpline for those who are in a similar situation. She finds that concentrating on being there for others helps her deal with her own life and she can relax knowing that she is helping somebody else. Not everybody who rings in has flood related issues but she listens to them regardless. Some of the phone calls are comical but most are serious and often upset her.
I thought Catherine was incredible. She was made homeless from the floods and sleeps on a friend’s sofa, she is determined, brutally honest and at times has a sharp tongue. Especially with her mother and spoilt, pampered step sister. She has a fractured relationship with her mother and takes pleasure in using bad language just to annoy her. There were many amusing moments where she was admonished. But she has no memory of being nine years old and its starting to trouble her more. As she struggles to cope with current events, she is also determined to remember what happened when she was nine.
There were a few times when I felt choked reading. It’s not a depressing book but it is very emotional and when I got towards the end I was in tears more than once. The descriptions of the flood damage could only come from somebody who went through it. When you see it on the news you don’t feel it, smell it and see the destruction that it leaves behind. And I could sense the frustration at being ignored by the Government and the media, but being humbled by the kindness of those nearby. When she remembers what happened when she was nine and how she dealt with it broke me. I can’t write about that part of the novel in my review without spoilers so you will have to read it to find out more.
Louise Beech is an incredible author who has touched my heart with each of her novels. I feel when reading her words that you can see her soul. Her words are powerful, emotional and there is a passion about things that are important to her and people who are close to her. She is an author who I will never tire of reading. Maria in The Moon is probably my favourite book so far.

To read about Louise’s publication day click here


Tin Man by Sarah Winman – Review.


About the Book

It begins with a painting won in a raffle: fifteen sunflowers, hung on the wall by a woman who believes that men and boys are capable of beautiful things.
And then there are two boys, Ellis and Michael,
who are inseparable.
And the boys become men,
and then Annie walks into their lives,
and it changes nothing and everything.

My Review

There is a quotation from Ellis’s mother that is mentioned a few times in this glorious book – ‘Men and boys should be capable of beautiful things.’ Dora only appears for a short time in this book but she was a character I warmed to instantly.
The novel concerns three friends Ellis, Michael and Annie. After a short but entertaining prologue, where you realise what type of woman Dora is, it moves forward in time to 1996. Ellis is in his mid-forties and struggling to move on from the death of his wife and best friend five years earlier. When he has an accident, and is off work he recalls his relationship with both of them.
I had never read any of Sarah Winman’s earlier novels so had no idea of how beautiful her writing was. Tin Man is only a short novel which I read in a day. But despite being short it has plenty of detail. There was the loss of loved ones, how they coped at the time and in later life. Ellis’s attempts to repair the relationship with his father which gave him the push to fulfil is promise to his mother. When the narrative switched to Michael it detailed how loyal he was to those he connected with. The time he gave to G. and Chris was humbling.
It was just the right length of novel, it is ram packed with emotion. If it had been longer it probably wouldn’t have had the same impact. Despite only making brief appearances Dora and Mabel showed that they wouldn’t be beaten or bullied into submission. Or turn away from somebody who needed love.
Tin Man was a novel that will stay in my thoughts for some time.