Reputation by Sarah Vaughan – Review – First Monday Crime.

About The Book

Emma Webster is a respectable MP.
Emma Webster is a devoted mother.
Emma Webster is innocent of the murder of a tabloid journalist.
Emma Webster is a liar.
#Reputation: The story you tell about yourself. And the lies others choose to believe…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I rarely read political fiction and I have never read a novel by Sarah Vaughan, but I did recently watch the dramatised version of Anatomy of a Scandal which I enjoyed a lot. I’m glad I made the decision to read this book because it is a cracker and I’m certain that this will also be filmed at some point.

Many of us will see politicians being passionate about something they agree with and who want to make changes to make victims suffer less. But not everybody will see the impact that this passion could have on their private lives. Especially when their child commits an act they are trying to prevent and which consequently damages a relationship and leads to them being tried for murder. The character who has to deal with all of this is Emma, ex school teacher, divorcee and dedicated to her career as an MP despite it leading to so much time away from her daughter Flora.

Whilst the main storyline concerns the death of the journalist and subsequent trial there is also a lot of focus on the amount of abuse that MPs and other public figures face daily. I was horrified at what Emma and others, had to cope with. A lot of which wasn’t dealt with quickly enough. You also got to see the impact on loved ones, especially Flora who had to deal with her own trauma at school. Flora was a character who I liked a lot and had a lot of sympathy for. All I could see when she featured was loneliness.

Emma isn’t the only narrator, you also get to read Flora’s and her stepmother Caroline’s point of view and towards the end a handful of others. All of these showed a completely different side to the novel and Emma’s storyline and one in particular I read with a sense of relief.

A crime novel concerning politics will never be anything I read about a lot but I feel that this novel is an important one. Especially when you hear about the threat faced far too often by those who try and do some good. 

Sarah Vaughan will be appearing at First Monday Crime alongside Will Carver, Sinead Crowley and Victoria Selman. You can catch the event on the Facebook page at 7.30pm on Monday 6th June.

The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book


When a hurricane hits the Carolinas it uncovers two bodies, sharing uncanny similarities with a cold case in Quebec that has haunted Temperance Brennan for fifteen years.

At the same time, a rare bacterium that can eat human flesh is discovered in Charleston. Panic erupts and people test themselves for a genetic mutation that leaves them vulnerable.

With support from her long time partner Andrew Ryan, in a search that soon proves dangerous, Temperance discovers the startling connection between the victims of both murder cases – and that both the murders and the disease outbreak have a common cause

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have read a few of Kathy Reich’s books and watched the TV series Bones which was based on them but it was a bit of a a surprise to see that The Bone Code was the 20th book in the series. I don’t want to think about how many I need to catch up on!

The two main threads in this novel are totally different. One concerned bodies that were found in containers with similar circumstances, in different countries and years apart and the other was one which concerned capnocytophaga. It takes place after the Covid 19 pandemic and  it felt a little strange reading about a post covid world when we are still living in one. Reading about a new threat made me a little uncomfortable, it was a reminder that this could be the way life could be for many years to come. It was the storyline concerning the bodies in the containers that I enjoyed the most. 

There is a lot of medical terminology in this book, most of which I didn’t understand. I was relieved that the author simplified some of it for other characters in the book. And for this reader! 

It is evident that Tempe hasn’t changed throughout this series. The determination to bring closure to a case, her sense of humour and loyalty towards friends and colleagues. There were parts that made me laugh, especially her accounts of air travel with Birdie, her telephone conversations with Ryan and her thoughts regarding most of the police.

Whilst I haven’t read every book it didn’t take me long to remember who the recurring characters were and get immersed into Tempe’s life. I adore her relationship with Ryan and Birdie Cat and loved every scene they were together in.

Someone Who Isn’t Me by Danuta Kot – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

When everyone hides the truth, who do you turn to?

Becca’s had a hard time of it, but she has finally got her life together. She has a nice little flat, a steady job pulling pints, and she’s even seeing someone new: Andy, who keeps his private life to himself but is always good for a laugh. And then Andy vanishes. When his body turns up on isolated Sunk Island, Becca learns Andy wasn’t just another punter. He was a police officer, deep undercover, investigating a drugs ring that he believed operated out of Becca’s pub.

Staggered by the betrayal, Becca turns to the only person she thinks she can trust: her foster mum, Kay. But Kay has problems of her own. She’s just moved into a short-term let in the hopes of finding some peace and quiet. But peace and quiet are hard to come by on Sunk Island . . .

Before long, both women are drawn into a terrifying world of drugs, money and death.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I hadn’t realised when I started reading this book that it was a sequel to Life Ruins. Luckily it was easy to read as a stand-alone, I followed the characters and storyline very easily. And I struggled to put it down once I started to read, this is an extremely gripping storyline.

There are three female narrators, two of them Becca and Kay were connected from the previous novel. The third, Dinah, is a detective who was helping to investigate the murder of the one of their own. She was probably the only member of the police who featured that I had any liking for. Hammond and Curwen only seemed to be concerned with their own careers and had no compassion for victims or witnesses. The one thing all these women had in common is that none of them judged others and they were willing to listen to those who were in danger or less fortunate than themselves. I noticed it with Kay very early in the novel but as it progressed I saw it a lot more in Becca. Her willingness to help a young boy and a kitten that she finds near her home. In this novel there were plenty who would be ignored by those who had more comfort.

The setting was outstanding. Grim, often wet, remote and much of it on the poverty line, a true reflection of British Northern towns. But like Kay I could also see beauty and peace in certain areas. 

I would love to meet these characters again, I want to see what could happen to them in the future. Not just Becca and Kay, there are a few whose life I want to see change.

When The World Was Ours by Liz Kessler – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Three friends. Two sides. One memory.

Vienna. 1936.

Three young friends – Leo, Elsa and Max – spend a perfect day together, unaware that around them Europe is descending into a growing darkness, and that events soon mean that they will be cruelly ripped apart from each other. With their lives taking them across Europe – to Germany, England, Prague and Poland – will they ever find their way back to each other? Will they want to?  

Inspired by a true story, WHEN THE WORLD WAS OURS is an extraordinary novel that is as powerful as it is heartbreaking, and shows how the bonds of love, family and friendship allow glimmers of hope to flourish, even in the most hopeless of times. 

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I don’t read it a lot of YA or children’s fiction but I was intrigued by the synopsis of this novel. A tale about the Holocaust but told through the eyes of three different children.

The novel starts in 1936 on Leo’s birthday. You see the friendship between him and his two friends Elsa and Max, the love and respect they have for Leo’s father and the incident which led to lives being saved. From there each of the often very short chapters is narrated by each of the children and covers the period from then up until the end of the war. 

I have read books about the Holocaust before, but never through a child’s perspective. How a young boy is so desperate to get his father’s attention he follows his nazism views thus betraying his memories of his childhood friends. Max’s story was desperately sad but whilst I detested his actions and apparent beliefs I still had sympathy for him. I wanted him to remember what he had lost but he was too scared of giving up his new way of life and his wish for respect from his parents.

But it was Leo and Elsa I wanted to read about. Leo who gets a lucky escape and Elsa who believes that those around her will care for her and make sure that her and family and friends are safe. Their stories are mesmerising, heartbreaking and believable. Probably more so, because whilst they do show the horrors of the Holocaust it is from children who don’t really understand what is happening. They are not tall enough to see how many are crammed into transport or how many are discarded on the way. They are not old enough to understand what is happening when some are sent to the left and some to the right. 

It is pure coincidence that I read this book around Holocaust Day and saw the number of interviews that the author was doing on all types of media. If you get chance find those, they are just as fascinating as this novel.

For the week of the Blog Tour, readers will be able to get dedicated and signed copies of When The World Was Ours from Bags of Books here

When I Come Home Again by Caroline Scott – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

They need him to remember. He wants to forget.

In the last week of the First World War, a uniformed soldier is arrested in Durham Cathedral. When questioned, it becomes clear he has no memory of who he is or how he came to be there.

The soldier is given the name Adam and transferred to a rehabilitation home. His doctor James is determined to recover who this man once was. But Adam doesn’t want to remember. Unwilling to relive the trauma of war, Adam has locked his memory away, seemingly for good.

When a newspaper publishes a feature about Adam, three women come forward, each claiming that he is someone she lost in the war. But does he believe any of these women? Or is there another family out there waiting for him to come home?

Based on true events, When I Come Home Again is a deeply moving and powerful story of a nation’s outpouring of grief, and the search for hope in the aftermath of war.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Whilst I have read books about the impact of war before I have never read one that concerns those who are desperate for answers. Either from those who need to remember who they are or the loved ones who need to know what happened to their son, husband or brother. And both were equally heartbreaking.

When Adam is arrested after vandalism at Durham Cathedral he has no knowledge of his identity. All those around him know is that he was a serving soldier from the war. In a bid to help him he is transferred to a place of care in Westmorland. As a way of identifying him they go public but are unprepared for how many turn up to lay their claim on Adam. They filter it down to three and start the long and often upsetting process of trying to work out if any of them are related. I spent most of this novel trying to decide who I wanted to have the happy ending. 

Adam isn’t the only one who has issues, James, his doctor also had a bad war and struggles to talk about it. Both appeared to have suffered similar experiences but cope in different ways and also have different reactions to certain environments. Whilst Adam finds solace in the local woods, it a nightmare for James. 

This novel was at times extremely upsetting, especially towards the end. But it also shows a method of coping, even if it looked strange to others. It made me think about how many thousands of families had no idea what happened to their loved ones and I had no idea how I would even begin to cope if I was in the same situation.

I loved the Westmorland setting, the tranquility made a welcome change from a city based novel.  I think that it was the only type of setting that a book such as this could work in with the way that Adam could feel at ease with the nature around him, totally different from what happened in the woods during the war.