I’m so excited to share the book cover for a dear writing friend of mine Emma-Claire Wilson. Having witnessed her journey to get this story published makes this more special. I’m so proud of her and know this book will a tear jerking read.
So first the blurb to lure you in and then the big reveal.
Are you ready?
When Stephanie is told she’s pregnant and that she is sick on the same day, she faces an impossible choice…
After trying for a baby for so long, finding out I was pregnant was supposed to be the happiest day of my life. But in the same breath as the news I had been waiting years to hear, the doctor told me I was seriously ill.
If I carry my baby to term, I will almost certainly die.
If I proceed with treatment, my baby will not live.
My husband – the father of this child – is telling me to save myself. But with all the secrets I know he is keeping from me, I can’t trust him anymore.
What would you do?
An emotional yet uplifting tear-jerker that will have you reaching for the tissues – perfect for fans of EMMA ROBINSON and JODI PICOULT
Born in Scotland, Emma-Claire travelled the world as the child of military parents. After almost 20 years in Spain, she returned to the UK with her husband, two daughters, and rescue dog, Pip. Emma-Claire worked as a journalist for English language magazines and newspapers in Spain and in 2015 launched The Glass House Online Magazine. When not writing emotional fiction, you can find her dreaming up new book ideas or wrapped in a blanket with a book in her hand.
It’s the weekend! A time to grab a book and read or in my current case, try to write. The witches and Rosa at the Enchanted Emporium were brimming with excitement at being on the blog tour for Milly Johnson’s Together Again and they agreed with me this hard hitting, emotional novel is one of her best. Based on ear splitting squeals heard when they opened the book post revealing this book, Whitby would need earplugs if she ever strolled down Black Cat Alley though Mrs Marley, the resident ghost would be rendered speechless for possibly the first time in life and death. She is a huge fan of the audiobooks, Willow leaves on for her while she’s working.
Scroll down to see what they had to say.
Are you a Milly Johnson fan? Which one’s your favourite? Let me know in the comments below.
Milly Johnson books are always popular in Rosa’s Box of Romance. As soon as one is returned another customer nabs it to read so you can imagine Rosa’s and the witches’ excitement of being invited to her blog tour for her newest novel, Together Again.
Scroll down to see whether it reached their high expectations
Book Review: Together Again by Milly Johnson
Title: Together Again
Author: Milly Johnson
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release date: 3rd March 2023
Together again after years apart, can they find a new beginning? The brilliant novel full of laughter, love, tears and hope from the Sunday Times bestselling author Milly Johnson.
‘This masterpiece honestly describes the strength and acceptance required to be a family. 5 STARS’ Adele Parks, Book of the Month, Platinum magazine
Sisters Jolene, Marsha and Annis have convened at their beautiful family home, Fox House…
Happy Sunday! I hope you’re having a lovely weekend and able to curl up with a good book. I’m excited to be part of the tour for The Daughter-in-law by Fanny Blake. With secrets and potential family tensions, the blurb drew me in.
Scroll down to see if it met my expectations.
Book Review: The Daughter-in-law by Fanny Blake
Title: The Daughter-in-law
Author: Fanny Blake
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release date: 16th February 2023
Genre: Women’s fiction
‘A moving, relatable and heart-thumpingly good story about family secrets and the lengths we’ll go to protect our loved ones.’ CATHY BRAMLEY
When Hope’s only son Paul met and married Edie, Hope was delighted that he had found love and was settling down to make his own family. Hope has loved bringing up her own child, and is happy to step in and help out now and again – but is always worried about overstepping the line between grandmother and mother.
Edie was hoping that having children with Paul would fulfil her as much as her busy job as a barrister has. But the reality is far from her dream. And with her mother-in-law Hope constantly poking her nose in where it’s not wanted, she finds herself frustrated and alone.
Both women could be each other’s greatest ally, but both have secrets that could ruin their relationship. Secrets neither wants Paul to uncover…
I was thrown into the tense family dynamics from the start, with a sunny Greek holiday that promised relaxation if only Hope and Edie got along. Told from both sides it was clear why each struggled to overcome the ever-increasing barriers in their relationship, but as much as I wanted to be neutral in my feelings, my sympathy kept being drawn to Hope. The love for her grandchildren and son, Paul, was clear and with a softer side, she was easy to connect to. While she had strong opinions, she was prepared to adjust to the needs of the relationship.
Edie was more complex and her viewpoint showed a different side to motherhood than the usual I’ve read recently. She wants it all, her career, control and the perfect family, but despite her ambition is trapped by the guilt that brings. With clashes of personality, generational differences of the approach of parenthood and opinions, I kept me turning the page even before secrets were revealed and their consequences caused an earthquake in the family. Thanks to all the characters having depth, I became entangled in their lives so felt their emotional rollercoaster.
This is an emotional story of unexpected revelations, ramifications of decisions made with good intentions and family bonds. This was the first Fanny Blake book I’ve read but won’t be the last because of realistic characters, ability to describe the heart of the matter and emotionally connect to the reader. WIth a healthy back catalogue, my TBR pile has increased.
Have you read any of her books? Let me know your recommendations below.
Fanny Blake was a publisher for many years, editing both fiction and non-fiction before becoming a freelance journalist and writer. She has written various non-fiction titles, acted as ghost writer for a number of celebrities, and is a former books editor of Woman & Home magazine. She has been a judge of a number of literary prizes, including the Costa First Novel award, the Desmond Elliott Award, the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year award and the British Book Awards. She is also the commissioning editor for Quick Reads and a book reviewer. She has written seven novels, including Our Summer Together and An Italian Summer.
Thank you Sara-Jade Virtue for the invite and advanced copy of this book to so I could give an honest and unbiased review.
A lonely recluse. A missing girl and a community in fear.
When the body of a young local girl is found next to an isolated lake, the main suspect is the old recluse who has lived next to the lake for many years – especially when the young girl’s purse is found on the old man’s doorstep.
But DCI Emma Gardner and her partner DI Paul Riddick aren’t so sure. Why would the old hermit leave such an obvious clue? And who would want to set the old man up?
As they dig deeper into the murder they discover a community in fear, determined to keep hold of long buried secrets. And Riddick is convinced that his own dark past is somehow linked to this crime, too.
Gardner fears that she may never get the answers she needs, until a break leads her down a path she’d rather not face. One that runs directly to her own front door…
This is the second book in the Yorkshire Murder series but can easily be read as a standalone as I did because all you need to know about the detectives from the previous book are revealed while reading. I love crime thrillers, but there are only a handful that make me search for the back catalogue as soon as I finish reading or browse for the next one. This is one of those.
DCI Gardner and DI Riddick are a complex police duo with messed up personal lives which engaged my attention just as much as the crime they were solving. With a psychopathic brother, a traumatised niece and a fellow detective dealing with his own turmoil, Gardner’s life is on a knife edge personally and professionally.
While the murder promised to be simple, the twists and turns kept me on my toes and turning the page to until the unnerving truth was revealed. The novel is chocked full of action, traipsing into the underworld of Knaresborough and looking at how the stigma of being seen as different, and vulnerable can lead to suspicions correct or otherwise. All the characters have depth and backstories which played into the current investigation and beyond.
The investigative team were well formed, with a strong chemistry and camaraderie that gives a good foundation for the in future books and scope for more drama, betrayal and fissions. Set against the backdrop of the stunning locations in Yorkshire, I’m eager to read the next one and was thrilled that my local library had the previous one, The Viaduct Murders available for loan. It was just as thrilling as this The Lonely Lake Killings adding to my conviction that this series will soothe my crime drama addiction now Happy Valley is over.
Wes Markin is the bestselling author of the DCI Yorke crime novels, set in Salisbury. His new series for Boldwood stars the pragmatic detective DCI Emma Gardner who will be tackling the criminals of North Yorkshire. Wes lives in Harrogate and the first book in the series The Yorkshire Murders will be published in November 2022.
Lockdown and my own research into the life of a pesky character in my head, rekindled my love of ballet which I was fascinated by as a child. While I never danced apart from my bedroom (two left feet) I’d watch The Red Shoes, Brigadoon and recorded videos of Wayne Sleep on repeat. When an invite to review Clara and Olivia by Lucy Ashe arrived in my email, how could I resist? It promised to thrill and throw me into the world of ballet, did it succeed?
Scroll down to find out more.
Book Review: Clara and Olivia by Lucy Ashe
Title: Clara and Olivia
Author: Lucy Ashe
Publisher: Magpie books
Genre: Suspense, Historical Fiction
Release date: 2nd February 2023
Perfect twins. Perfect victims.
Black Swan meets The Red Shoes in this perfectly-poised psychological thriller.
SADLER’S WELLS, London, 1933.
I would kill to dance like her. Sisters Olivia and Clara rehearse with Ninette de Valois at the recently opened Sadler’s Wells. Disciplined and dedicated, Olivia is the perfect ballerina. But no matter how hard she works, she can never match up to identical twin Clara’s charm.
I would kill to be with her.
As rehearsals intensify for the ballet Coppélia, the girls feel increasingly as if they are being watched. And as infatuation threatens to become obsession, the fragile perfection of their lives starts to unravel.
An exquisite goose-bumping debut from a former ballerina.
Wow! Before I began this novel I was wary because of the Black Swan mentioned in the tagline – I adored the dance sequences but struggled with elements of the plot but my fears were unfounded. It is much more than that film and encapsulates more of the obsession and glamour of the much adored The Red Shoes.
The first unnerving scene hooked me in and set up the suspense that would run through the novel building up at the plot was revealed. Without the knowledge of what was to come, the first few chapters could easily have lulled me into the idea this would be a tale of two sisters, identical to look at but different in personality and drive finding their way in a world where the corps de ballet demand everyone to be the same yet they long to find their own individual paths. (This still would have made a strong book) Knowing danger was lurking, made me suspicious of everyone from the off, adding to the thrill of the read.
Told in multiple POVs, the characters of Clara and Olivia, Samuel and Nathan are introduced. Each have depth, their own backstory and voice. The twins’ complex relationship entwined in their loyalty to each other, and love of the dance was a fascinating read as they begin long to be seen in their own right. With a complicated childhood, it brought home the attitudes of the day, and added to the depth of character.
There is a strong sense of place and time making this story immersive, adding to the tension and connection to the twins. It was the small details that made this book exquisite, thanks to intensive research and insider knowledge. Who knew there was an actual well, inside the theatre and the consequential superstitions surrounding it. The studios, and dressing rooms and Freed’s shop came alive on the page with the sounds, smells and touch described. I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction books on the history of ballet, and it was an added joy to see names and places set in context with an added layer of realism. The rabbit warren of rooms in the theatre and foggy nights in the streets of London, were perfect locations for tension and sinister goings on.
It was Samuel, the ballet shoemaker who captured my imagination. Again, he was complex, and through his eyes I was unable to grasp his true self, so I never knew whether to feel guilty for liking his scenes or not. Like the theatre, the descriptions of the inner workings of the workshop and shop, were immersive. I longed to know more of this world and could easily imagine another book based in the shop with the comings and goings of the customers and gossip between staff.
The tension builds up when obsessions revealed, and danger comes out of the shadows. With highly visual cinematic scenes, complex personalities, and dangerous obsession blended in the immersive world of ballet, this book was a hit for me and left me with a book hangover. A physical copy is needed for my forever shelf.
It’s ideal for those who love The Red Shoes, ballet, suspense and books like Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger.
LUCY ASHE trained at the Royal Ballet School for eight years, first as a Junior Associate and then at White Lodge. She has a diploma in dance teaching with the British Ballet Organisation. She decided to go to university to read English Literature at St Hugh’s College, Oxford (MA Oxon), while continuing to dance and perform. She then took a PGCE teaching qualification and became a teacher. She currently teaches English at Harrow School, an all-boys boarding school in North London. Her poetry and short stories have been published in a number of literary journals and she was shortlisted for the 2020 Impress Prize for New Writers. She also reviews theatre, in particular ballet, writing for the website Playstosee.com.
‘I have a great love of ballet and am fascinated by its history. I was lucky enough to meet many of the great dancers of the Royal Ballet, even Dame Ninette de Valois when she came to White Lodge to celebrate her 100th birthday. I have performed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and learnt the repertoire for many of the classical ballets.
My novel is closely researched, re-creating the early years of the Vic-Wells company at Sadler’s Wells, and the story is immersed in ballet history featuring characters such as Ninette de Valois, Lydia Lopokova, Constant Lambert, Alicia Markova and Nicholas Sergeyev. Frederick and Dora Freed and their pointe shoe workshop play a key role, as does the history of Sadler’s Wells theatre itself. In a book shop on Cecil Court, I found beautifully preserved theatre programmes from the 1932-33 season at Sadler’s Wells and it was magical to imagine my characters holding those pages.
One major inspiration for me was my twin sister. We spent the first part of our lives doing everything together: first day of school, first ballet class, first piano lesson. We were a unit, referred to simply as the twins, and we had a very special connection. That connection remains even though our lives are so entirely different now. And so, in my novel, I have been inspired by the connectedness and the bond of twins, Olivia and Clara staying so close despite their lives starting to take them in different directions.