Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce | Blog Tour Book Review | #BloodOrange


Published by Wildfire
Available in ebook and hardback (21 February 2019)
336 pages
Source: Copy received from publisher for review


My thanks to Georgina of Headline for the review copy and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the blog tour invitation. I was fortunate to be able to attend the recent NewVoices2019 event featuring Harriet. Listening to her talking about the book made me even more keen to read it. My review is below but first the about the book bit…

About the Book


AN ELECTRIFYING DEBUT THRILLER FOR FANS OF APPLE TREE YARD AND ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL – INTRODUCING A STUNNING NEW VOICE IN PSYCHOLOGICAL SUSPENSE

Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…

Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.

Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.

I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.

Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.

I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.

But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….

My Thoughts

Alison is a successful criminal law barrister who seems hell-bent on pressing that self-destruct button.  Outwardly she has a home life to envy with an adorable young daughter, a husband who takes care of the house and childcare whilst she works and she has just been given her first murder case, a big step up the ladder in her career.  She also has a drink problem and a lack of self-control – one drink is never enough and inevitably she ends up making a fool of herself in front of friends and colleagues and worse, making decisions that she would regret.  In this category, falls her continuing affair with a colleague.  She knows that she should stop it but she just can’t bring herself to actually do it …and mean it.

When I first started reading this I really struggled to feel any empathy for Alison because of her reckless behaviour.   Even though her drunken binges didn’t seem to adversely affect the way she did her job, I didn’t like the way she neglected her family when she didn’t have to and whilst her love for her daughter was never in doubt, she was too easily side-tracked by the thought of another drink or another illicit meeting with the sometimes charming but rather quite odious Patrick. However as the story went on, with more tantalising disclosures together with reading between the lines, my opinion of her slowly changed and the more I began to understand, the more I was on her side.

The story is not just about Alison although she is the main character and the story is told from her perspective. The client she has been asked to defend has been accused of murdering her husband.  At first sight it looks a straightforward case but as the defence case is prepared, it becomes clear that there are unsettling parallels between the lives of Alison and her client Madeleine.  

It’s really difficult to review this in detail without giving away spoilers. Blood Orange is a both a domestic and legal thriller, with adult content, and a dark and disturbing storyline involving control and manipulation. Just when you think you know which way the story is heading, the author throws a curveball and you’re left blindsided.  There were one or two aspects that I had guessed, but nothing could prepare me for the conclusion.

Blood Orange is the author’s debut novel and it is an absolute cracker.  Tyce was a barrister herself for 10 years so the legal aspects are totally realistic. It is so cleverly structured and the characterisations are superbly done – any author who can bring their characters to life and make you feel such strong emotion, whether it be dislike or sympathy, has done their job well. 

This is another sure-fire contender for my top books of the year. I loved it and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. It makes for very uncomfortable reading at times and there are parts that may shock but its actually a very topical read and just so compelling.

I was delighted when Harriet signed my proof copy at the above mentioned New Voices event in London but I enjoyed the book so much, I had to buy a finished hardback to keep it company. That’s why there’s a different book picture – actually it’s because of the daffodils. Who doesn’t love them!

It has just been announced that Blood Orange has been optioned for a TV series by World Productions. This is excellent news but no surprise – it would make an excellent TV drama and I can’t wait. 

About the Author


Harriet Tyce was born and grew up in Edinburgh. She graduated from the University of Oxford in 1994 with a degree in English Literature before gaining legal qualifications. She worked as a criminal barrister for ten years, leaving after the birth of her first child. She completed an MA in Creative Writing – Crime Fiction at UEA where she wrote Blood Orange, which is her first novel.

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One Minute Later by Susan Lewis | Blog Tour Q and A

Published by HarperCollins
Available in ebook & hardback (21 February 2019) | paperback (25 July 2019)
416 pages


My thanks to Rebecca of Harper Collins for the invitation to take part in the tour and for providing the author Q&A.

About the Book

You think your life is perfect.

You think your secrets are safe.

You think it’ll always be this way.

But your life can change in a heartbeat.


With a high-flying job, a beautiful apartment and friends whose lives are as happy as her own, Vivienne Shager is living the dream. Then, on the afternoon of Vivi’s twenty-seventh birthday, one catastrophic minute changes everything.

Forced to move back to the small seaside town where she grew up, Vivi remembers the reasons she left. The secrets, lies and questions that now must be answered before it’s too late. But the answers lie in thirty years in the past…

Shelley Raynor’s family home, Deerwood Farm, has always been a special place until darkness strikes at its heart. When Vivi’s and Shelley’s worlds begin to entwine, it only takes a moment for the truth to unravel all of their lives.

Q&A with Susan Lewis

1.         What inspired One Minute Later? 

It was inspired by twenty-one-year-old Jim Lynskey and his real-life experience of waiting for a heart.  Getting to know someone in his position affected me deeply and brought home just how much more we can do to help or save those waiting for organs. 

2.         Why did you choose to include Jim as himself in the book alongside your fictional characters and is this a writing technique you would recommend to other writers?

I believe that featuring Jim as himself adds more impact to the story, and the campaign, Save9Lives is all his.  I feel very fortunate that he was happy for me to use it.   Yes, I’d recommend it provided you have the permission of the person concerned.

3.         The novel explores many different relationships including friendship, romantic, maternal and paternal. Which of these relationships is most integral to the book and which did you find the hardest to write? 

The romantic relationship is probably the most important, and was certainly the most difficult to write.  It couldn’t progress the way other relationships might, however it wasn’t as constrained either.  Striking the balance was quite a challenge. 

4.         What do you want people to take away from the book?

The understanding of how important it is to be an organ donor.  Also, how unpredictable life can be so why not seize every moment and stop being afraid? 

5.         What genres of book do you mostly read and do you have a favourite book?

 I move around genres all the time and I have so many favourites I could never list them all.  Here are three:   The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver; Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens; Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky.

6.         Who is your favourite character that you have written so far?

 I’ve always been pretty mad about Francois in Darkest Longings.  I’m also very attached to Laurie and Elliot from the Silent Truths quartet of books.

7.         A lot of your books explore important topics which require a lot of research. Do you have a particular process when researching and which of the topics that you have explored so far has been the hardest to write about? 

Without doubt the hardest to write about was the child abuse in No Child of Mine.  This is the story of a social worker who fights to rescue a little girl from an abusive home.  I spent a lot of time listening to social workers to make sure I had a proper understanding of the process and how desperately dealing with these tragedies affects them.  

8.         Do you remember the first story you ever wrote and what was it about? 

The first book I ever wrote was called Cloudesley, a teen fantasy-adventure story set in nineteenth century Cornwall.  It was never published but my stepsons and I still have great fun adding to it and naming characters such as Mobgoblin the mafia goblin; HoblinGoblin the one-legged goblin; Health Elf the doctor, Self Elf the narcissist. 

9.         What do you like doing in your spare time?  

Walks with my dogs, movies, spending time with my husband and friends and travelling.

10.       Any advice for writers struggling with writer’s block?

 It usually happens to me when I’m tired, so I’d say take a rest.  Go away for a few hours, or days and try again.   If you still have a problem, try sitting back and listening to the characters.

About the Author

Susan Lewis is the bestselling author of thirty-five novels. She is also the author of Just One More Day and One Day at a Time, the moving memoirs of her childhood in Bristol. She lives in Gloucestershire. 

Susan is a supporter of the breast cancer charity Breast Cancer Care: www.breastcancercare.org.uk and of the childhood bereavement charity Winston’s Wish: www.winstonswish.org.uk

Author photography copyright: Colin Thomas (2011)

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The Dressmaker of Draper’s Lane by Liz Trenow | Blog Tour Review

Published by Pan
Available in ebook and paperback (21 February 2019)
352 pages
Source: Copy for review provided by publisher

About the Book


The Dressmaker of Draper’s Lane revisits the opulence and extravagance of the London silk trade in the mid-eighteenth century which Liz Trenow wrote about in her previous bestselling novel, The Silk Weaver.

1768, London

As a foundling who rose from poverty and now runs her own successful dressmaking business in the heart of society London, Miss Charlotte is a remarkable woman, admired by many. She has no need, nor desire, to marry. The people she values most are her friend Anna, her recently-found sister Louisa and nephew Peter.

She feels herself fortunate, and should be content with what she has. But something is missing.

A small piece of rare silk discovered in a bundle of scraps at auction triggers a curious sense of familiarity, and prompts her to unpick a past filled with extraordinary secrets and revelations…..

My Thoughts

Charlotte Amesbury had a very poor start in life. She was left by her poverty stricken mother at the Foundling Hospital in London and by determination and some good fortune, has been able to make her own way as a costumière with her own business near the City of London. 

The art of the seamstresses’ and the beauty of the materials they work with are superbly described. Charlotte has made a name for herself with the well to do ladies of London who recommend her to their friends and business is good.  However, there is one area of Charlotte’s life that causes her sadness. She would love to know about her mother and upon sheer chance, she happens to come across a small scrap of silk which leads her to make connections beyond which she would not have thought possible – however the discovery is also the cause of much sadness and discord. I had my suspicions as to why one character was so against Charlotte trying to find out more about her background.

Although I knew about the term ‘foundling’ it was particularly interesting here to read about the way the hospital selected which babies to accept and the tokens that the mothers left with their child, as a way of identification, in case they were ever in a position to reclaim them at a later date.

Charlotte was an extremely engaging character; for all of her confidence and business acumen, she had suffered personal heartbreak and her success had come at a price. Her best friend Anna, who together with her husband, owned a silk weaving business brought some light hearted fun into her life.  Sadly the same couldn’t be said for Ambrose, her sister Louisa’s husband. For a minister of the cloth, he certainly didn’t practice what he preached.

For a single woman in the 18th century, Charlotte is very unusual.  She has an independent spirit, manages her seamstresses with great tact and skill and is prepared to stand her ground with the toughest of business men.  I think for me, this is why I kept being pulled out of the era.  Although generally, there is an excellent sense of place, it was Charlotte herself who seemed to be of a modern age and it was only when I encountered a reference to travelling in a gig, or to some other Georgian reference that I remembered that I was actually in the 18th century and not in the 21st.  This is not a criticism of the book, but just a personal reaction.

It is not a fast paced story but The Dressmaker of Drapers Lane is a very well written historical tale and the level of research which must have been necessary comes through clearly, also the author’s family has had a silk business since the 1700s so no doubt this personal knowledge was invaluable. The detailed clothing descriptions and way of life, the fear of catching the dreaded typhus and the limited medical treatment of those times (compared to what we know today), the difficulties of communication and travel – all these aspects are so well done.  In amongst the fictional characters are ‘real life’ historical people including artist William Hogarth, one of the benefactors and governors of the Foundling Hospital and his wife Jane, who is a great friend to Charlotte.

The book features some of the characters, including Charlotte and Anna, from a previous book, The Silk Weaver, but it’s not necessary to have read that one to enjoy this as it works perfectly well on its own.

I enjoyed getting to know Charlotte and fans of historical fiction and anyone with an interest in the subject will find much to enjoy with this story.

About the Author

Liz Trenow’s latest novel is In Love and War, also known in the US as The Lost Soldiers. Her previous novels are The Last Telegram, The Silk Weaver (The Hidden Thread in the US), The Forgotten Seamstress and The Poppy Factory, which will be published in the US as All the Things We Lost on 10th January 2019. She has been published all over the world and in nine foreign languages. The Last Telegram was shortlisted for a UK national award and The Forgotten Seamstress was a New York Times best-seller. 

The Lost Soldiers marks the anniversary of the end of World War One with a story about the thousand of bereaved families who within months of the Armistice made the difficult journey to the devastated battlefields of the Flanders and The Somme in search of their loved ones who were ‘missing, presumed dead’. The book is told from the perspectives of three women who undertook this pilgrimage, each of them from different countries and backgrounds All three bear their own burdens of sorrow and guilt, and their searches seem almost impossibly daunting. While initially regarding each other with suspicion what they eventually discover, together, is greater than any of them could have imagined. 

Liz is a former journalist who spent fifteen years on regional and national newspapers, and on BBC radio and television news, before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in East Anglia, UK, with her artist husband, and they have two grown up daughters. 

Please go to www.liztrenow.com, follow her on Facebook or join her on Twitter @liztrenow

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The Shape of Lies by Rachel Abbott |Blog Tour Review |#TheShapeofLies

The Shape of Lies (DCI Tom Douglas #8)
Published by Black Dot Publishing Ltd
Available in ebook and paperback (12 February 2019)
384 pages
Source: Copy provided for review via Netgalley


I’m a big fan of Rachel’s books (and in particular of Tom Douglas!) and couldn’t say no when asked by Maura Wilding to review and take part in the tour. Thank you Maura! My review is below, but first, a little about the book.

About the Book


Yesterday, Scott was dead. Today, he’s back. And Anna doesn’t believe in ghosts. Scott was Anna’s boyfriend. She loved him, but he ruined her life. When he died, she should have been free, but today Scott is on the radio, threatening to spill her secrets.

Anna is a mother, a wife, and head teacher of a primary school. And she’s a good liar. She made one mistake, and now she is having to pay for it. Scott is the only person who knows the truth about her past, but how can he be alive?

Soon, DCI Tom Douglas is going to knock on her door looking for answers. But Anna is already running scared: from the man she loved; the man she watched die; the man who has come back to life. She has one week to find him. One week to stop him.

My Thoughts

Having enjoyed Rachel’s previous books (the last one being a standalone And So It Begins), it was good to be back with the familiar and especially Tom Douglas and his team.

This is one of those stories that begins with a dilemma that you could understand a naive young girl struggling with. As a teenager at university, Anna made her decision and has been paying for it ever since.

Anna is now a respected head teacher with a husband and family of her own however her past comes back to haunt her when she hears her ex boyfriend’s name together with his nickname for her, on a local radio show phone in and makes reference to a place known to both of them – promising to tell all, if voted for, the following week.  Anna is totally bewildered and scared as to how this is possible. Scott is dead. So who else know their secrets.

Whilst this is happening, the police are dealing with a dead body found in a car, parked in a multi storey car park. With no identification, the body is assumed to be the owner of the vehicle. But as ever, nothing is as straightforward as it seems.

Anna was a difficult character for me to engage with, she had a complicated personality and whilst I felt sorry for her, especially as a young girl, I didn’t take to the adult version very much. I could see how the younger Anna could get sucked into a situation that spirals out of control but as an older woman with a family?  I just couldn’t really buy into the lies and deceit. 

Despite my misgivings about Anna, I was nevertheless completely sucked into the various strands of the story.  As the body count rises the police face an uphill task to find the person, or people responsible, before the next victim is claimed. In this midst of all this, Tom Douglas is facing a personal family crisis of his own. Luckily for him DI Becky Robinson is back from maternity leave and playing a good supporting role as his wingman.

I’ve always found Rachel Abbott’s books absolutely engrossing and this one is no exception. The story moves between the past and the present,  gradually revealing the truth as to what happened all those years before. I have to admit there were people in Anna’s past that I could quite happily have killed myself, I hated them so much. There are some very nasty characters here, none of which you would ever want to come across in real life, and the suspense is maintained throughout. And the twists!  Did I mention that that there are twists.  Well there are. 

The Shape of Lies is another brilliantly executed crime thriller from this very talented author.  I don’t know how she comes up with such intriguing and twisted plots each time, but I’m very glad she does!

About the Author

Rachel Abbott, born and raised in Manchester, founded her own interactive media company in the 1980s, before selling it and retiring in 2005. She then moved to Italy where she worked on the renovation of a 15th century Italian monastery, and it was here that, one day, she found herself snowed in and decided to begin writing for pleasure. This became her debut novel, Only The Innocent, which she went on to publish via Kindle Direct Publishing, topping their chart for 4 weeks.

A true self-publishing pioneer, The Shape of Lies is Abbott’s ninth novel. She splits her time between Alderney in the Channel Islands and Italy.

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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides | Blog Tour Review |#TheSilentPatient

Published by Orion
Available in ebook, hardback and paperback (7 February 2019)
352 pages
Source: Copy provided by publisher for review

About the Book

ALICIA

Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.

Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.

THEO

Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.

And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?

With film rights snapped up by an Oscar winning Hollywood production company, rights sold in a world record 43 territories, and rave blurbs from David Baldacci, Lee Child and A.J. Finn, The Silent Patient promises to be the debut thriller of 2019

My Thoughts

If you’ve been living in a cave for the last few months, then you can be excused for missing this one on social media. There has been a LOT of publicity about this debut. I, like many others, have this FOMO thing and when a review copy was offered, I didn’t hesitate to say yes please.

We know from the very beginning that Alice Berenson has been accused of killing her husband Gabriel. Following the trial, she’s now in a secure unit, rather than prison, known as ‘The Grove’.

What makes this book slightly different from others in this genre is that Alice is silent. Ever since Gabriel’s death she has refused to talk and has continued to do so for the six years since her incarceration.

Enter Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist who has become more than a little obsessed with Alice’s case, so much so that he waits for an opportunity to work at The Grove in order to become Alice’s therapist and to be the one to get her to finally speak about the crime.

Alice was said to be very much in love with Gabriel and they were thought to have the perfect marriage – so why did she kill him. We do hear Alice’s voice, by way of extracts of her diary entries leading up to the time of the murder. I found these fascinating and they give the best insight into the mind of a complex and unpredictable woman.

Theo turns investigator, delving into Alice’s past to try and find something he can use that will make her talk. He is up against the clock, as The Grove is being threatened with closure and it will be a real coup for the unit, if his treatment is a success.

Both Alice and Theo have had troubled pasts and the more detail that is disclosed about their lives, it becomes clear that they are damaged individuals. Can Theo really help Alicia or will she destroy him in the process.

The author’s experience of psychotherapy and working at a secure psychiatric unit brings authenticity to the story. I thought it was a fabulous read – that feeling of unease and of being unsettled was prevalent throughout, I was never quite sure what the truth was and it had me firmly hooked from the first page. It’s very much character driven however the slower pace suits the story perfectly as the reader is introduced to the characters and the backstory behind them gradually unfolds.

As you would expect in a thriller, nothing is straightforward and there are unexpected twists and surprises aplenty to keep the reader on their toes.

Is Alice mad, bad or a victim herself. You will have to read the book and find out.


My thanks to Orion for providing the review copy and to Tracy Fenton for the invitation to take part in the blog tour.

About the Author

Alex Michaelides was born in Cyprus to a Greek-Cypriot father and English mother. He read English at Cambridge University and received a MA in screenwriting from the American Film Institute. He wrote the film Devil You Know, starring Rosamund Pike, and co-wrote The Con is On, starring Uma Thurman and Tim Roth. The Silent Patient is his first novel.

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