Monday, 10 June 2019

Book Review ~ Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas

Genre:  Psychological Fiction
Publication Date:  27 June 2019
Publisher:  Penguin

Everything changed the night Flora Powell disappeared.
Heather and Jess were best friends - until the night Heather's sister vanished.
Jess has never forgiven herself for the lie she told that night. Nor has Heather.
But now Heather is accused of an awful crime.
And Jess is forced to return to the sleepy seaside town where they grew up, to ask the question she's avoided for so long:

What really happened the night Flora disappeared?

Claire Douglas's fifth novel has one of the most dramatic opening chapters that I think I've ever read!  March 2012 - seen through the narrator's eyes as they stand outside a house, shotgun in hand, seeming very calm and in control.  This sets the scene and forms the basis of what is to come.

Then She Vanishes is not only a gripping whodunnit but it's also an enthralling whydunnit and I could not turn the pages fast enough as the whole chain of events leading up to this horrific and shocking crime unfolded slowly and skilfully.

The story goes back and forth in time between 2012 and the summer of 1994 when the fair came to town and sixteen year old Flora disappeared and never came home again, leaving behind her bewildered mother, Margot (a character I really warmed to and felt empathy for) and younger sister Heather.

As Heather lies in a coma due to a shotgun injury, her then best friend, Jess, now a journalist working for the local newspaper, and no longer in touch with the family, has to return to her roots and obtain a story, while confronting her own conscience and guilt about that night Flora disappeared.  Margot was a mother figure to Jess in those days and the way in which their friendship was slowly and tentatively re-ignited was an absolute pleasure to read.

This is a complex story rich in detail, with family secrets, divided loyalties, betrayal, selfishness, guilt and fear with sympathetic and well drawn characters.  It has surprises and shocks - the story was at just the right pace - the perfect read for anyone who likes a good mystery full of suspense.

My thanks to Net Galley and publishers Penguin for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Available to buy from Amazon UK

Available from Amazon US

Available at 

Monday, 3 June 2019

Book Review & Blog Tour: Scared to Breathe by Kerena Swan

Today, I am excited to be part of Kerena Swan's blog tour for her new book Scared to Breathe, thanks to publishers Bloodhound Books ..... check out my review below ....

When Tasha witnesses a stabbing at the train station in Luton, she is compelled to give evidence in court that leads to Dean Rigby being convicted. But when Lewis, Dean’s brother, vows revenge, Tasha is afraid and no longer feels safe in her own home.
Tasha’s partner, Reuben, hopes to marry her and start a family soon. But Reuben is concerned about Tasha’s state of mind and urges her to see a doctor 
When Tasha is left a derelict country house by her birth father, she sees an opportunity to escape Luton and start a new life. After visiting Black Hollow Hall she sees it as the perfect opportunity to live a life without fear. 
At first Tasha feels liberated from her troubles. The gardener, William, who is partially paralysed but employed to maintain the grounds of Black Hollow Hall, is welcoming. 
But soon Tasha realises the Hall is not quite the idyll she imagined.
When she discovers that a woman jumped to her death there years ago following the murder of her husband, strange events begin to take place and Tasha fears for her safety.
Have the Rigby family found her?
Is someone trying to scare her into selling the house?
Or is she suffering from paranoia as Reuben suggests?  
As Tasha’s sanity is put under pressure she begins to wonder if Black Hollow Hall is going to be her salvation or her undoing…

Scared to Breathe had so much going on that, at times, I felt dizzy trying to keep up!

Tasha is happily living in Luton with fiance Reuben, until one day her life is turned upside down when she witnesses a horrific stabbing and, after the verdict, the perpetrators brother threatens Tasha.

She is quite a nervous and anxious person normally, but after the court case she is even more jumpy, she lives her life in fear, jumping at shadows, terrified that someone is out to get her.

After inheriting an old country house, she is desperate to live there and she finally feels at ease, she loves it, but Reuben is not so keen.

But strange things start happening there, scary things, but is it her mind playing tricks or has the brother found out where she's living now, or is something else going on?  I was never really sure, and I kept wondering how many more awful things were going to happen to her.  

I liked Tasha and did sympathise with her a lot, she had plenty of shocks but she kept focused and tried to keep normal.

This is a story full of suspense that kept my attention throughout, with twists, an old country house next to a deep dark lake, odd characters and plenty of unexpected events.

About the Author

Kerena Swan trained as a Social Worker and worked for Social Services for over 25 years. For the past 14 years she has owned and managed an ‘outstanding’ rated care agency for children with disabilities. Following serious illnesses she decided to fulfil her long-held ambition of writing a book and getting it published. ‘Dying to See You’, published by Bloodhound Books, was her debut novel.
After many years of writing professionally in the course of her work, Kerena has discovered the exhilaration and deep joy of writing fiction and can be found at all hours in front of her computer. She has recently completed her second novel 'Scared to Breathe' which is being released on 3rd June 2019.
Kerena lives with her family in a small village in Bedfordshire, UK and her books are set in the surrounding areas.
Drawing on her extensive knowledge and experience of the problematic world of social work and social studies, Kerena adds a unique angle to the domestic noir and crime genre.
If you would like to hear more about new releases, read Kerena's blogs and download a free short-story - the prequel to Dying to See You - then visit and join her mailing list.
         Author links
Twitter: @kerenaswan
Facebook: @kerenaswan

Available to buy from

Friday, 24 May 2019

The Lost Shrine by Nicola Ford - Book Review


Genre:  Thriller/Mystery/Women Sleuth
Publication Date:  23 May 2019
Hardback Page Count:  318 pages

Clare Hills, archaeologist and sometime sleuth, is struggling to finance her recently established university research institute along with her long-time friend, Dr David Barbrook. When Professor Margaret Bockford finds the Hart Unit commercial work with a housing developer on a site in the Cotswolds, the pair are hardly in a position to refuse. There is just one slight catch: the previous site director, Beth Kinsella, was found hanged in a copse on-site, surrounded by mutilated wildlife. Despite initial misgivings, Clare leads a team to continue work on the dig, but with rumours about Beth's mental state and her claims that the site was historically significant refusing to be laid to rest, and lingering disquiet between local residents and the developers, progress is impeded at every turn. When one of the workers finds something unsettling, Clare suspects there may be more to Beth's claims than first thought. But can she uncover the truth before it is hidden for ever?

The Lost Shrine is the second book in this series and, like the first book, The Hidden Bones, there is an enticing blend of murder mystery, archaeological digs and finds, mixed with perils and hazards for our protagonist Clare.  Some mentions of the last outing are made but there are no spoilers, so it can be read as a standalone.

There's something about digging in the soil looking for ancient artefacts that haven't seen the light of day for many years that I find absolutely appealing ...... combined with an unlikely (and likeable) amateur archaeological sleuth - and with my two favourite genres of mystery and history - this all makes for the perfect series for me.

This time, Clare and her colleague David have taken over a dig site that's proving unpopular with the locals, there's pressure from an arrogant house building developer to hurry the dig along, issues with illegal metal detectorists, a local druid who's following the developments and an exciting find, not to mention a dead body.

Author Nicola Ford's writing was a pleasure to read, her obvious knowledge of archaeology is evident throughout this engrossing thriller, her characters are well-developed, the storyline was well-paced and believable with a surprise or two, and I loved all the references to the archaeological process and the discoveries.

I can't wait to see where Clare and David are taken next and what they're going to unearth!

My thanks to publishers Allison & Busby for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book in exchange for an honest review.

About the author

Nicola Ford is my pen-name. I’m also Dr Nick Snashall, National Trust Archaeologist for the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site. Through my day-job and now my writing, I’ve spent more time than most thinking about the dead.

My writing brings together the worlds of archaeology and crime, unravelling the tangled threads left behind by murder to reveal the stories of those who can no longer speak for themselves.

You can read my review of the first book in the series The Hidden Bones here - buy it from Amazon UK - Amazon US - Book Depository

The Lost Shrine is now available to buy from Amazon UK - Amazon US - Book Depository

Don't miss this - from the 29th May till the 5th June The Lost Shrine is on offer!

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Spices & Seasons by Rinku Bhattacharya - Book Spotlight & Recipe

I am delighted to be shining the spotlight on Rinku Bhattacharya's new recipe book Spices & Seasons, Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors .... thanks to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources ... and I have a delicious recipe for you to try!

Spices and Seasons, Simple Sustainable Indian Flavors
Rinku Bhattacharya combines her two great loves―Indian cooking and sustainable living―to give readers a simple, accessible way to cook seasonally, locally, and flavorfully. 
Inspired by the bounty of local produce, mostly from her own backyard, Rinku set out to create recipes for busy, time-strapped home cooks who want to blend Indian flavors into nutritious family meals. 
Arranged in chapters from appetizers through desserts, the cookbook includes everything from small bites, soups, seafood, meat and poultry, and vegetables, to condiments, breads, and sweets. You’ll find recipes for tempting fare like “Mango and Goat Cheese Mini Crisps,” “Roasted Red Pepper Chutney,” “Crisped Okra with Dry Spice Rub,” “Smoky Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Puree,” and “Red Harvest Masala Cornish Hens,” to name a few. As exotic and enticing as these recipes sound, the ingredients are easily found and the instructions are simple. 
Rinku encourages readers to explore the bounty of their local farms and markets, and embrace the rich flavors of India to cook food that is nutritious, healthy, seasonal and most importantly, delicious.

Purchase Links.

Bulgur or Cracked Wheat Pilaf (VE)

Bulgur and cracked wheat are much loved in the northern regions of India, particularly as the preferred breakfast grain. Prepared simply as in this recipe, they also work well as a side dish. You could also add beans or lentils to make this a wonderful one-dish meal if you are in a rush.

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 35 minutes 
(mostly unattended) | Serves: 4 to 6

2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
¾ cup bulgur or cracked wheat
¾ cup cooked red kidney beans or chickpeas
½ teaspoon red cayenne pepper powder (optional)
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick, broken
1 lime or lemon, cut in half
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1. Heat the oil in a pot on medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and when they begin to sizzle, add the onion and sauté for about 6 minutes, until it wilts and begins to turn gently golden.
2. Add the tomato, salt, and bulgur and mix well. Stir in the red kidney beans, cayenne pepper powder (if using), and the cinnamon stick. Mix in 2 cups of water and gently bring to a simmer.
3. Cover and cook on low heat for about 25 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the bulgur is soft and cooked through.
    4. Squeeze in the lime or lemon juice and stir in 
 the cilantro and serve.
Tips and Tricks
This recipe can also be made with quinoa, farro, or 
any complex grain of your choice.

About the Author

Rinku Bhattacharya ( was born in India, and now lives in a house with a vibrant backyard in Hudson Valley, New York with her husband, an avid gardener, and their two children. Rinku’s simple, sustainable approach to Indian cooking is showcased on her blog, Spice Chronicles, and in her Journal News column “Spices and Seasons.”

Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past nine years, and works extensively with local area farmer’s markets on seasonal demonstrations and discussions. Rinku is also the author of The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles (Hippocrene Books, 2012), winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2013 for Best Indian Cuisine. She writes for the Poughkeepsie Journal, the Journal News, and several online sites, and is a frequent guest on CT Style TV.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Intuitively You: Evolve Your Life and Mend the World by Michelle DesPres

The Spotlight today is on a fascinating new book by author and certified clairvoyant medium Michelle DesPres called Intuitively You: Evolve Your Life and Mend the World

Genre:  Self-Help, Spirituality, Health, Education
Publication Date:  9 April 2019
Paperback | ISBN: 978-1-7329039-0-6
Ebook | ISBN: 978-1-7329039-1-3

More than a self-help book, Intuitively You is your pathway to the intuitive lifestyle that is transforming modern science and culture. Renowned teacher and intuitive Michelle DesPres has created a step-by-step, endlessly entertaining way to capture your fundamental intuitive powers and enhance your life’s journey. Those seeking personal health, wealth and well-being - as well as the secrets to transforming the world - will find this book invaluable. 

Also . . . teachers, medical providers, healers, activists and anyone who works with people to enhance their lives will uncover revolutionary tools for expanding your sensibilities and boosting your creativity and effectiveness. This is the education you never learned in school – but wished you had!

Get ready to tap into those “gut instincts” you’ve always wanted to trust . . . draw from your soul's history . . . and gain a higher perspective. Armed with this knowledge, you will:
•Take control over limiting patterns and behaviors. •Transform your life into your most authentic expression – so you love the life you live.
•Unlock the door to world peace once and for ALL! 

About the Author

Michelle DesPres is a certified clairvoyant medium trained under the Berkeley Psychic Institute program for inner development.
She is the author of the books The Clairvoyant Path and Intuitively You: Evolve Your Life and Mend the Word, designed to help others discover personal and collective fulfillment.
She also published the Intuitive Ethical Standards establishing guidelines for alternative therapists.
Michelle is a frequent speaker and motivational leader, and has been providing individual services and readings to a variety of clients for 15 years.
She is the founder of the Intuitive Practitioner Program, where students learn about mind, body, and soul integration–and how to hone these skills to build thriving businesses.

Visit her at

An Interview with

  1. What is intuition? Is it accessible to everyone?
Intuition is important because it serves as our primary personal-guidance system that allows us to discern and establish our most optimal health and well-being so we can then enact that balance in the world around us.
Not only is intuition accessible to everyone, but we have innate intuitive skills within us that we can enhance and make stronger, and therefore more reliable for creating our highest aspirations.

  1. When did you discover you were intuitive, and how has this changed your life?
Everyone is born into the world intuitive. Regrettably, our culture doesn’t recognize this basic human faculty and so we disassociated from this aspect of ourselves while still toddlers. I was no exception. As a young girl, I recall moments of interacting with the unseen world but was quickly told to disregard my “imagination” and do as I was told.  Unfortunately, after thirty plus decades of doing what I was told, I found myself depressed and unfulfilled by life’s meaningless expectations and endeavors. It was then, in a moment of deep sadness, that my intuition once again broke through, offering me a connection back to higher knowing where I could find the solutions to fixing myself and the life I could no longer live. Fifteen years of intuitive awakening later, my life is completely different. I have a career I believe in and feel makes a positive difference in the world. My health is better, my relationships are deeper and stronger, and for the first time in my life, I have a sustainable future.

  1. Intuition is sometimes widely misunderstood or mislabeled as just a thought in your mind. How do you identify true intuition and harness that gift?
Intuition can be as simple as a wisp of a thought that strolls past your mind. The key is to develop your intuitive awareness so you can distinguish a mental thought from an intuitive impression, which only comes with practice. Just as you have five senses that allow you to see, hear, smell, taste and touch your physical reality, you have a 6th sense with the ability to see, hear, feel and know what is taking place in your energetic reality – which by the way then becomes your material world – so really it’s your 1st sense. The only way to properly harness your intuitive gifts and master your ability to create your ideal life is to seek out intuitive development classes. Intuitive classes will teach how to explore your higher senses and how they operate uniquely to you so you can be more aware of when your intuition is speaking to you in your everyday life as a means of keeping you on your path.

  1. How have you seen the lives of others changed as a result of discovering intuition?
Every time a client leaves my office, I see how intuition has changed their lives for the better. Not only do they tell me how relieved, hopeful, empowered, and motivated they are to get back to their lives and resolve their issues, I’ve watched countless individuals overcome serious emotional, physical, mental and spiritual limitations just by being able to see their circumstances from another perspective. Intuition offers higher perception and understanding. Suddenly something like infidelity no longer feels like a betrayal because the energetic truth is one of higher agreement and perhaps a dedication to learning how to love one’s self more than another. When a client understands the greater purpose of their circumstances, their reality is automatically altered for the better.

  1. What does an intuitive session with you look like?
A session with me is relaxed, enjoyable, educational and empowering. I first like to intuitively witness a client’s energy for myself before they tell me what they are seeking. Usually, what I see in a person’s energy field (whether they are in front of me or on the phone) is exactly what they have come to see me about. It’s not uncommon that I’ll notice something like a void in their career center only to learn that they’ve just lost their job and are wondering what to do next. So I always get my first impressions which I share and then allow my clients to ask me anything they would like to know about health, career, relationship, etc. My clients generally like to record their sessions as we get in depth with understanding and explanation as well as offering tools and solutions for changing any aspect of their lives they desire. I think it’s important to note that I don’t consider myself a guru or anyone else’s authority. I present my clients with probabilities, possibilities and potentials, which they are free to incorporate or not. Everyone is his/her own authority in a session with me.

  1. How does intuition play into ethics?
Intuition is the ultimate form of transparency. I recall once meeting a girl my son was certain was the women for him. Immediately, I knew she was not – mother’s intuition. However, had I shared my wisdoms with my son, he would likely have not been able to hear that from me, maybe even intensifying his attraction to her. As it was, I said nothing and in a short time, he learned for himself she was not the one. The point is that just because you can intuit another person’s energetic dynamics doesn’t mean you should.

I'm intrigued by the sound of this book and look forward to reading it at some time in the future.

Available to buy from

*Disclaimer* If you buy a book through the above links I receive a few pennies from Amazon UK and affiliates which goes towards the postage for book giveaways


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