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The Housewife, Valerie Keogh


There’s no place like home” – that’s what I tell myself as I pull another flawless meal from the oven. This perfect house on a quiet street was supposed to be my sanctuary, a place to recover. But everything changed the moment I saw that woman in the charity shop. She triggered something dark, buried deep within my memory…

Now I’ve started forgetting small things, like locking the front door.

And bigger things, like remembering to pick my little girl up from nursery.

I feel terrified every time I pass through a particular spot in our living room.
And sometimes, when I’m alone, I’m sure I can hear a baby crying…
I think the woman in the shop knows what happened to me. But if I can’t trust myself to believe she’s real, who will?

Available here

My review

NB, I wrote this review last week, before I’d seen the cover. OMG,  I just love it – the raw beauty of that blue and then the red – it just pops out at you. Even though I’ve read I’ve just gone ahead and pre ordered anyway just because of it. 

I’ve long been a fan of Valerie Keogh, my go to writer for nail-biting reads. Okay, so her Hudson/Connelly does make me feel a little uncomfortable but there’s something fundamentally wrong about a psychopathic murdering nurse don’t you think? Her Garda West series, more formulaic but with stunning locations and unusual plots is pure genius. 

But enough about that. The Housewife is the second of Keogh’s thrillers under the auspices of Bookouture. Secrets Between Us, my favourite thriller of 2018, her first. But this one is very different.

I don’t know if any of you are fans of Irish literature but there’s shades of that famous of all famous Irish playwrights, Seán O’Casey’s Kitchen-sink masterpiece, ‘Juno and the Paycock’, to be found amongst the pages of The Housewife. Keogh has taken a situation, a day in the life of a housewife and turned it inside-out and upside-down. After all there’s little to find that’s exciting in the day-to-day chores of washing, ironing, shopping and cleaning for a husband and small child – rewarding perhaps but exciting? No. But there’s something lurking, some element just out of the corner of the reader’s eye that is uncomfortable. Amongst the cooking and cleaning the husband is a little too controlling. The drive for Diane to be that impossible of all things – perfect – unsettling. And when she decides to try and get back into the workplace after a period of ill-health? Tragic.

There are no heroes between the pages of Keogh’s novel. There are no millionaires, yachts, blonde bombshells or other unrealistic characters. Here Keogh has made the ordinary extraordinary. The monotonous, riveting. Housework will never seem the same again and housewives? They each have a story to tell. 

More please. 

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Death Comes To Call – Clare Chase


When a promising local artist disappears, the victim’s brother begs Detective Tara Thorpe to take the case. It seems there’s no evidence of foul play… he simply disappeared without a trace.
Tara agrees to do some digging… never mind that her unorthodox approach to policing has got a few of her colleagues’ backs up. Amongst them is her former supervisor Detective Patrick Wilkins… he’s had enough of Tara calling the shots and will do anything to knock her down. She must be careful.
At least she has an ally in their boss, Detective Garstin Blake. He’ll always back her hunches. If anything, they work together too well… at least, that’s the rumour around the station these days.

When a body of a young woman is found frozen near the fens, Tara’s evidence suddenly becomes key to solving a high-profile murder. Is their missing artist still a victim… or in fact a clever murderer with a deadly plan?

Available here

My review. 

This is my fifth read by Clare Chase so you can probably guess I’m a huge fan of her writing. Tara Thorp and her boss, Blake get tangled up in a case of missing artist, Luke. But it’s not his body that turns up but that of art gallery hostess, Freya Cross. 

This is a riveting, ‘bum stuck in chair’ read where the complex characters add an extra layer of excitement to what is already a white-knuckle read. Chase drags you into her world, kicking and screaming, playing with you emotions until conclusions have been drawn and all loose ends tied off in a pretty bow. I like the added element of Blake’s relationship with Tara. It added an extra dimension to an already well-thought-out plot. 

Here we don’t just get a crime thriller. We also get a flutter of romance and more office politics than you can shake a stick at. 10 stars. 

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Vegetarian chilli-bean soup.

I haven’t been here for a while but, after a Christmas where health featured quite heavily, I decided to have a life rethink and one of those thoughts was that I wasn’t achieving what I wanted from my existence. 

Writing is all very well but it’s just one small facet. 

I’ve always wanted to be a vegetarian and even managed to convince the family a few years ago but, after about a year we all fell off the wagon. But I’m not getting any younger and, now that the kids are older I decided to jump the meat ship just before Christmas. 

This isn’t just for January. This is me for life. 

There was no planning and that first week I was finding it increasingly difficult to find anything in the cupboard that I wanted to eat. I’m also low carb, low salt and low sugar, which makes for an interesting diet but it’s my decision and I’m not moaning, just trying to work around it. 

Low carb is great although I’m not a slave to it. I just avoid bread and potatoes most days. I’ve never added salt to anything apart from porridge and dough so that was easy too. Low sugar is also easy as I don’t have a sweet tooth, giving up bread has been much harder. But giving up meat…

I’m not a brilliant cook but, more importantly, I don’t have either the time or the inclination to spend long periods in the kitchen when I could be writing.  The following recipe is a store cupboard accident and the purists will frown at the use of tinned but these ingredients can be easily substituted for dried beans and fresh tomatoes and I would have if I’d had any in the cupboard. 

This is cheap, quick, easy, low calorie and vegan as well as vegetarian but, I’m going to add either some feta cheese or a soft poached egg to the top of mine before serving to make up for the lack of crusty bread 😉. And while it’s cooking I’m going to continue editing my next masterpiece, a crime thriller set in Wales. 


Calorie wise it’s 240 calories for a large bowl but that’s a lot of soup! It meets all of the 5 a day in one bowl and is low in salt and only 10% the RDA of sugar. 


One tin tomatoes

One tin mixed beans

One small onion

I clove garlic

Teaspoon of oregano and basil

I small hot chilli

1 teaspoon olive oil


Purée onion and garlic, soften in 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add beans and tomatoes. Bring to boil and simmer for ten minutes. Pop in blender, add water to make it the correct consistency for you before serving. 

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The Stepsister. Book launch breakdown 

It’s been a week since the publication of The Stepsister, my first thriller but not my last. It’s also been another first – the first time I’ve signed up for a blog tour. 

As an Indy I tend to go for a softer book launch. If my book sells so be it. And if it doesn’t? The fault lies squarely on my shoulders. This year, for some reason I decided to act like a proper author for once. After all, it’s book number ten so it’s not as if I plan to disappear into the woodwork anytime soon. I have book number eleven all but written, a crime thriller set in South Wales. I’m currently going through the pain of structural edits at the moment. And as for book number twelve,  woman’s fiction set in and around Ireland’s west coast? I’ve written 25% and keen to get back to it but not until eleven is off my hands. 

So, back to the book launch.

I only decided at the end of August to publish The Stepsister. We’d just arrived back from a wonderful few days in Paris to celebrate GCSE results and I made the snap decision to go for it. The book had been lying around for 6 months and it was time. I contacted Rachel Gilbey, someone I’d seen post on Book Connectors and someone who I thought I could work with. Within a day she’d guided me through my options and I’d signed up for a week’s blog tour in addition to a cover reveal, when I didn’t even have a cover or a fully edited manuscript – early September was when the fun started. 

I taught myself book cover design early on and this was the first project. As the book has an underlying arty theme I wanted the cover to resemble a painting. It took 6 hours and a final panic over whether the word Stepsister should be hyphenated before I sent it to Rachel. Within days she’d managed to conjure up 40 bloggers to share the cover and kick start my pre-orders. 

September and October were spent doing final edits and working with the amazing Natasha Orme in order to produce the final version which, true to form, I uploaded to Amazon only hours before their deadline. Last Monday, book launch day was busy and I was thrilled with the amount of sales. I hit 3,000 + in the U.K. sales ranking which, for no publicity other than the tour is pretty good, certainly an improvement on other launches. In truth, I hadn’t had to do much other than prepare the book and cover. Rachel managed to find 21 bloggers who did a mixture of content from actual book reviews to guest posts and extracts from the book. 

There’s been a lot of talk about the value of book bloggers and whether they make a difference. But the bottom line has to be do they lead to more book sales? The Stepsister has had no money thrown at it. I haven’t signed up to BookBub or any other advertising network. I haven’t taken out any paid Facebook or Twitter ads. The only publicity has been to my followers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. So, the only differences between this and previous launches is genre and the blog tour. And my sales? They’ve quadrupled.  

Thank you to Rachel and the fifty plus bloggers who’ve helped me over recent weeks. Now it’s time to build on the momentum they’ve started. And the million dollar question… Will I sign up for another blog tour? Definitely. 

The Stepsister, a psychological thriller set between Guernsey and Holland is available from Amazon for 99p here

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Dead End: Book review

Book blurb

When the seventh Earl of Lowesdale is found hanging from the rafters at Wasdale Hall, everyone assumes the aging, hard-partying aristocrat had finally had enough of chasing the glory of his youth. But when the coroner finds signs of foul play, DI Kelly Porter is swept into a luxurious world where secrets and lies dominate.

At the same time, two young hikers go missing and it’s up to Kelly to lead the search. But digging deeper reveals ties to two other unsolved disappearances and Kelly and her team find themselves in a race against time.

Now, as all roads of both investigations and Kelly’s own family secrets lead to Wasdale Hall it becomes more important than ever for Kelly to discover the devious truths hidden behind the walls of the Lake District’s most exclusive estate…

Don’t miss this gripping crime thriller featuring an unforgettable detective. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Patricia Gibney and Robert Bryndza.

My review

This is the third book in a series, but the first one that I read. It’s also does well as a standalone. A dark mysterious atmospheric  thriller. Set in and around the Lake District the writer draws you in with her delft descriptions of both people and place. An old man is found hanged, discovered by his grandson. Is he the one? But what about the two missing hikers? Kept me hooked from page one. 

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Death on the River: Book review

Book blurb

When a body is pulled from the dank and dangerous fens on the outskirts of town, everybody assumes it was a tragic accident. But Detective Tara Thorpe, newly joined and determined to prove herself, suspects there’s more to the story.

Tara is desperate to investigate further, but her supervisor Patrick Wilkins has other ideas. He would rather die than let this ambitious upstart show him up – even if it means some digging in Tara’s secret past to keep her under his thumb. After all, it’s not like he can report her – everyone knows that his boss Detective Garstin Blake and Tara have a history…
When another body is found, it becomes clear that there’s a killer on the loose. Could the murders be linked to the secrets that Tara has been keeping from her team… and can she solve the case before another innocent dies?
Available here 

My review

It’s books like this that made me pick up crime fiction after a hiatus of ten years, ten barren years in the wilderness when all I could read was romance. Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with romance but I was brought up on crime (fictional as opposed to a life of). My mother introduced me to dear old Agatha when I was in my teens and I started on a thirty year blast of any and every crime fiction book I could lay my hands on. My husband despaired of this woman he’d married. And then I had kids and my view changed. I still have trouble reading certain types of crime fiction but this…

Tara appears in Chase’s first book for Bookouture but, in my view Murder on the Marshes is the aperitif, this the fancy main course. I can’t wait to see what she serves up next.

In Death on the River Tara has progressed from journalism to cop and the triangle between her, Blake and Wilkins is superbly handled. Add in a wayward wife and stray girlfriend and the tension in police central is high and that’s before the body count starts to rise. There’s so much to love about this book. The characterisations are spot on. People you both want to like and others you enjoy hating and that’s only the cops. Add in a superb tale with hatred at its heart, a tragic tale and  you have  a mouth-watering, Michelin 5 star read.

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The Paris Secret: Lily Graham

Book Blurb

A beautiful Parisian bookshop hides a heartbreaking secret that will tear one family apart forever …

The last time Valerie was in Paris, she was three years old, running from the Nazis, away from the only home she had ever known.
Now as a young woman all alone in the world, Valerie must return to Paris, to the bookshop and her sole surviving relative, her grandfather Vincent, the only person who knows the truth about what happened to her parents. As she gets to know grumpy, taciturn Vincent again, she hears a tragic story of Nazi-occupied Paris, a doomed love affair and a mother willing to sacrifice everything for her beloved daughter.
Can Valerie and Vincent help each other to mend the wounds of the past? Valerie isn’t after a fairytale ending, she only wants the truth. But what is the one devastating secret that Vincent is determined to keep from his granddaughter? 

Available here 

My thoughts

Would you just look at that cover? Isn’t it a beauty? As someone who spends half her life in France and the other half dreaming of going back this cover ticked all my boxes. I read this at the end of the summer after a delightful week in Paris so you can probably guess I was either going to love or hate it…

Guess what? I loved it! 

Two women meet on a train – one young and one old. Annie, isn’t really interested in the old lady, Valerie. She has too much on her mind. But, over the course of their journey she’s dragged deep as Valerie’s story unfolds. A story that takes her back to Paris, but an occupied Paris during WWII. 

This is a charming book, beautifully written and executed. It’s part set in a bookshop, which has an added piquancy as does the extremely well-rounded character, Vincent.

An easy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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The Christmas Sisters: Sarah Morgan 

Book Blurb

It’s not what’s under the Christmas tree, but who’s around it that matters most.All Suzanne McBride wants for Christmas is her three daughters happy and at home. But when sisters Posy, Hannah and Beth return to their family home in the Scottish Highlands, old tensions and buried secrets start bubbling to the surface.
Suzanne is determined to create the perfect family Christmas, but the McBrides must all face the past and address some home truths before they can celebrate together . . . Available here 

My review

There’s nothing wrong with reading Christmas books in September, especially if they’re written by this lady. I’m a huge fan and first in the queue when she has a new release out – and this book certainly didn’t disappoint. 

I have noticed a shift in her writing in both her previous book and now this one but it’s all good. I think I read something about a different editor but, whatever the reason, the writing is more rounded and the plot a little darker. You’re still going to get the trademark HEA but there are a few more bumps along the way to keep those pages flipping.

A story about three sisters who’ve drifted apart since a trauma buried deep. Three very different sisters, who always come home to Scotland for Christmas. This time, two sisters arrive early and Posy, who’s the stay-at-home one is desperate to leave the stifling clutches of such a small town setting. 

Told in the third person narrative and with the POV of each of the sisters and Suzanne, their mother, this is a delightful read full to the brim of Christmas cheer and a tree called Eric. If you’re a fan of theses type of books you’re going to love what Sarah Morgan has come up with.


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Secrets Between Us: Valerie Keogh

Book blurb

One letter a week for fifteen years. 780 identical white envelopes brimming with my sister’s darkest secrets. All the intimate details of a life as different to mine as could possibly be.

I read each letter slowly to make sure I understand it perfectly, one day very soon it will be a matter of life and death…

At the end of each letter, after signing her name, there is always one final sentence:
Don’t forget to burn this letter.
I’ll let you decide if I do…

A jaw-dropping psychological thriller that you will read in one sitting. If you loved dark, twisty thrillers like The Girl on The Train, The Couple Next Door and Friend Request, this unputdownable novel will have your heart racing long after you’ve finished reading.
One letter a week for fifteen years. 780 identical white envelopes brimming with my sister’s darkest secrets. All the intimate details of a life as different to mine as could possibly be.

I read each letter slowly to make sure I understand it perfectly, one day very soon it will be a matter of life and death…
At the end of each letter, after signing her name, there is always one final sentence:

Don’t forget to burn this letter.
I’ll let you decide if I do…

Available to pre-order here for only 99p

My review
I have no words, only feelings, and a mishmash at best for this book, but I’ll do my best to share my thoughts.

The plot revolves around identical twin sisters, Ellie and Tia, one a high-achieving business woman and the other suffering from a mild learning disability that means she’s lived in a sheltered-housing type set up for most of her life. When this ‘‘school’  closes Ellie decides to give her sister a home, not realising that…

On breaking it down Secrets Between Us is a character-driven novel that hangs on three individuals: Ellie, Tia and Will (Ellie’s husband). Oh, there are more than just three but they’re all minor. But unlike other books in this popular Psychological Thriller genre Keogh has done the previously unachievable. She’s made the reader invest in these characters as people. Yes. All three of them. I don’t know how she’s managed it but she’s made all of her MC’s equally likeable and hateable (I know it’s not a word, but it should be!). She not only managed to grab me from page one she had me rooting for each one in equal measures. The ending is superb, brilliant even and left me with the book-hangover from hell. I had to resort to a vintage Mills and Boon to cleanse my palate of all things Keogh and I still can’t get that ending out of my head. She’s managed to leave a never-ending trail of thoughts in her wake over this book. 

I was lucky enough to read a very early ARC of this book. My thoughts and opinions are my own. 

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Love at the Northern Lights: Book review

Book blurb

Runaway bride Frankie Ashford hops a plane to Norway with one goal in mind – find her estranged mother and make peace with the past. But when a slip on the ice in Oslo lands her directly in Jonas Thorsen’s viking-strong arms, her single-minded focus drifts away in the winter winds.

When it comes to romance Jonas knows that anything he and Frankie share has an expiration date – the British heiress has a life to return to in London that’s a world away from his own. But family is everything to Jonas and, as the one man who can help Frankie find the answers she’s seeking, he’ll do whatever it takes to help her reunite with her mother.
Now, as Christmas draws closer and the northern lights work their magic Frankie and Jonas will have to make a choice…play it safe or risk heartbreak to take a chance on love.

Available here

My review

A wonderful festive romance and set in such a great location, Norway. Frankie, a well-rounded modern woman who runs away from a life she can’t hack anymore. She has a desire to find the truth about her past and in the meantime finds love.  

Oh, how I loved this. Okay, so I know it’s only September but as someone that loves Christmas I can read these kind of books all times of the year. Boleyn has a knack of building characters readers care about and so she does here with Frankie…yum.