The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary #CWIPShadowPanel CWIPShortList

Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…


I have to admit that in all like hood if not for the Comedy Women In Print Prize I might not have picked up The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary! Not sure why, I’m not a book snob, at least I hope I’m not? I enjoy reading lots of different fiction, but what I see as Chick lit, doesn’t normally rock my reading heart. Well, reading the shortlist for this amazing book prize has taught me a very important lesson, this form of fiction is both relevant, funny and will firmly be one of my favourite go to genres.

If you look at the cover alone, it appears like a gentle easy read, nothing heavy and it is all these things. But, it is also deeply moving, relevant and funny and joylessly uplifting! On the surface Tiffy is a young, zany modern girl, who is living her perfect life, works in publishing and has friends who care about her. Underneath this, she has been damaged by a controlling relationship with a man whose obsessive behaviour is deeply disturbing and has left her fragile. Leon has a great career as a nurse, but with a wrongly imprisoned brother, his life is also in free fall and is in need of help. Put these two together and you have the basis of a book of real poignancy, told with warmth and an understanding of the strength of the human spirit.

What makes Flat Share such a wonderful read is the warmth that permeates the story and the humour that stops it becoming dark. The writer acknowledges the traumas both Leon and Tiffy have been through and does so within a story that is original and quirky. She allows their friendship to develop gradually over time and makes both characters feel warm and caring. For the first half of the book that don’t even meet and are like ships in the night, as one gets up to go to work, the other arrives home and as she develops the story, she left me yearning that they would eventually meet in real life. Beth O’Leary has created a story of quite astonishing freshness, taking an unusual idea and creating a story of endless warmth, so much so, that by the end, I was in love with the characters and the story.

I don’t often add new writers to my list of books that should automatically be purchased, but Beth O’Leary has just joined. It take talent to deliver a story that tackles difficult subjects, while creating such a feeling of hope, with liberal dollops of humour and as such, creating a book that is one of my favourites reads this year!

You can purchase this book from Amazon and also Waterstones

But why not order it from your local indie bookshop?

About the author

Beth studied English at university before going into children’s publishing. She lives as close to the countryside as she can get while still being in reach of London, and wrote her first novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey to and from work.

She is now writing novels full time, and if she’s not at her desk, you’ll usually find her curled up somewhere with a book, a cup of tea, and several woolly jumpers (whatever the weather).

The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa #CWIPShortList #CWIPShadowPanel

Young, beautiful and ambitious, Bontle Tau has Johannesburg wrapped around her finger. Her generous admirers are falling over themselves to pay for her Mercedes, her penthouse, and her Instagrammable holidays. It’s her duty to look fabulous – after all, people didn’t sacrifice their lives in the freedom struggle for black women to wear the same cheap T-shirts they wore during apartheid.

Bontle’s come a long way, and it hasn’t been easy. Her shrink keeps wanted to talk about a past she’s put firmly behind her. And what she doesn’t think about can’t hurt her, can it?

Blessed adj. [pronounced bles-id]
The state of being blessed, often referring to a person, usually female, who lives a luxurious lifestyle funded by an older, often married partner, in return for sexual favours.


The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa is a darkly comic tale about mental health, men, sex and wanting wealth at all costs. The humour is razor sharp, so much so you could cut your fingers as you turn the pages, but that adds to the fact that it is a powerful, perceptive and ultimately empowering read.

On the surface Bontle Tau is a semi successful, but an always aspiring entrepreneur, whose funds her lavish lifestyle by having sex with older men! Now you might wonder how this can then be reviewed as a comedy and I can understand why! But, it is important to remember that comedy can be born from the darkest of themes, it’s not crude, important given the nature of some of the themes, but it does come from the idea that suffering and pain can be absurd, but never pitiable! What the writer does with such skill in The Blessed Girl is take serious subjects and uses the humour to tell a story, that could be without the black comedy become overwhelming. She balances a a story about exploitation, not just by the men who fund Bontle’s lifestyle, but by the character herself and creates a deeply moving tale about a young woman, who past influences her present in damaging ways, but at the same time allows her to live a life away from poverty, but at what cost to her?

She is a character that you come to love as the story progresses, the writer opening her up to the reader and explaining both her life choices and the events that have shaped her life, her opinion of herself and own self worth. It is often a painful read and you come to yearn that she will eventually see that she is worth both respect from others, but importantly from herself, for Bontle Tau is a wonderful creation. The pain comes from her struggle with her own mental health and the past, the humour from moments such as her asking the reader why they are questioning if she knows anything about construction! Her reply, what did Donald Trump know about being a President, which I admit made me laugh and rebalanced a story that is very dark in places.

I have no doubt that The Blessed Girl will feature in my list of favourite books this year. The writer is not scared to tackle a story about a deeply flawed character, to make you love her and best of all, to make you laugh with her, never at her. Angela Makholwa succeeded in making her venerable, yet strong, funny and endearing and I hope many other readers come to love her as much as I do!

You can purchase this novel from –



But why not consider purchasing from an Indie bookshop, all of which need our support at the current time!

About the author

Angela Makholwa is a South African author, the first black writer to write crime fiction in South Africa.

V For Victory by Lissa Evan’s #VForVictory #LissaEvans

It’s late 1944. Hitler’s rockets are slamming down on London with vicious regularity and it’s the coldest winter in living memory. Allied victory is on its way, but it’s bloody well dragging its feet.

In a large house next to Hampstead Heath, Vee Sedge is just about scraping by, with a herd of lodgers to feed, and her young charge Noel ( almost fifteen ) to clothe and educate. When she witnesses a road accident and finds herself in court, the repercussions are both unexpectedly marvellous and potentially disastrous – disastrous because Vee is not actually the person she’s pretending to be, and neither is Noel.

The end of the war won’t just mean peace, but discovery…

With caustic wit and artful storytelling, Lissa Evans elegantly summons a time when the world could finally hope to emerge from the chaos of war. As sharply comic as Old Baggage and emotionally poignant as Crooked Heart, V For Victory once again shows Lissa Evans to be one of our most brilliant and subtle writers.


Sometimes when I’m writing a review, I have to sit back for a while before putting pen to paper to sort out my feelings! Not because the book is bad, but because it is so good, I worry about doing it justice and V for Victory is one of those books! It is another superb novel from an exceptionally talented writer, that has taken a place in my happy reading heart.

I have been a big fan of Lissa Evan’s for a while, her writing always feels warm and the characters beautifully written, so much so, they feel by the end of V for Victory like friends. Those you will always be fond of! I felt joy spending time with them and sad to have to leave them behind after reading the last pages!

Vee Sedge is an utter joy, she is a matriarch of sorts overseeing life in a boarding house full of lodgers and her young charge Noel.  Despite having a questionable past, she is a character that shines off the page, is kind, resourceful and looking for a good life for those she loves. The writer made her not just a central part of the story, the glue that holds it the narrative together, but gave her a story of her own, relationships and friendships that made her feel richer. Her relationship with an American airman, bringing her vulnerabilities to the fore, Noel her gentle and nurturing side. She is a heroine who is not only easy to love, she is a women searching for happiness at a time when life is constantly throwing curve balls at her. I will never not love her, her wise, emotional and caring heart.

Then there is Noel himself who is awkward and geeky to use a modern phrase, the pitch perfect teenager. All angst and longing and justifiable anger, who through Lisa Evan’s gentle story telling endures a right of passage. During the ebb of the war years he becomes a young adult, under the studious gaze of his many tutors and Vee’s often rather unconventional mothering style,  He is a character that will always be with me, having wormed his way into my heart and I was left wanting to carry on his journey with him, watching him become a man. Am I hoping too much for the author to write another book with both Vee and Noel in? I would miss Vee, as I miss Mattie from Old Baggage, but I want to see Noel grow up!! Lissa Evans always produces stories full of characters that are unforgettable, who are wise and gentle and it is what ultimately makes this book, the generous wonderful read that it is.

The story feels gentle and yet there is so much going on. Ghosts from the past pop up, adventures to Brighton, Noel struggling through teenage angst, his past and his present. Threats to Vee and Noel’s carefully crafted home and relationship and war time culinary wizardry. Yet it never feels rushed, in fact it feels warm, invigorating and fresh. Your allowed to be a part of the story, given time to come to love the characters. The writer tells a tale that is wise, moving and funny and brings to life with touching details the reality of life during war time. She moves the story with seamless authority from the horror of London being bombed, the deaths of so many, to the moving interconnection between a group of characters that have to navigate a time of threats. Importantly for me, she never loses sight of one of her greatest gifts, the characters that people her story like radiant stars in the night sky.

V for Victory is gentle wise, funny and moving.

You can purchase this book from Amazon and Waterstones, but why not order from one of the wonderful Indie Bookshops that need our support more than ever!

About the author

Lissa Evans has written books for both adults and children, including Their Finest Hour and a Half, longlisted for the Orange Prize, Small Change for Stuart, shortlisted for many awards including the Carnegie Medal and the Costa Book Awards and Crooked Heart, longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams #Review #CWIPShortList #CWPShadowPanel


Queenie is a twenty-five-year-old Black woman living in south London, straddling Jamaican and British culture whilst slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white, middle-class peers, and beg to write about Black Lives Matter. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie finds herself seeking comfort in all the wrong places.

As Queenie veers from one regrettable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be? – the questions that every woman today must face in a world that keeps trying to provide the answers for them.

A darkly comic and bitingly subversive take on life, love, race and family, Queenie will have you nodding in recognition, crying in solidarity and rooting for this unforgettable character every step of the way. A disarmingly honest, boldly political and truly inclusive tale that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and acceptance and found something very different in its place.


Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams is quite an extraordinary book, it deals with some powerful and painful themes, race, inequality, feminism and misogyny, yet it is also laced with a dark vein of humour through Queenie’s story.

I suppose you might say that the humour in a book like Queenie couldn’t be described as warm, but the more I think about the novel, the more I find myself disagreeing with some of my initial assumptions.  The humour is dark as befitting a story of quite exceptional insight, because humour can come from the darkest of moments, it is not always laugh out loud, sometimes it is oddly healing and supportive and for me this is where the humour came from in Queenie. In this novel one moment your reading about her destructive sex life, wanting her to see herself as worthy of love and then the next your laughing as Queenie run’s upstairs because she can’t stop thinking about croissants. It comes in the most fortuitous of moments, bringing lightness to a story with some darker overtones; making this book as much about Queenie and what makes her special, as it is about the issues she is grappling with.

As a character Queenie is superb! Deeply troubled, damaged yes, but she has an inner strength and yet the men in her life feel absurd, manipulative and laughable and it feels fine to laugh at them, where as laughing at Queenie would feel wrong. Candice Carty-Williams creates the humour from those around her and her interactions with them. Hilarity ensues when even though Queenie lands up living with her grand parents at her lowest ebb, the humour in these moments is warm and from a place of love. You laugh at her grandfather switching off the broadband at night, her text messages with friends, never at her, always with her. Queenie is truly hilarious at points, even if that humour is laced with pathos. When it relates to Queenie is is sympathetic, kindly and full of compassion.

You will cry, there are moments when you wish you could just hug Queenie until she releases how special she is, but you will also laugh and that is what makes this novel so special.

You can purchase this book from Amazon and Waterstones.

But why not also consider purchasing it from your local Indie Bookshop all of whom are magical places and deserve our support at this time and into the future.

About the author 

Candice Carty-Williams was born in 1989, the result of an affair between a Jamaican cab driver and a dyslexic Jamaican-Indian receptionist. She is a journalist, screenwriter, and author of the Sunday Times bestselling Queenie, a book described as ‘vital’, ‘disarmingly honest’ and ‘boldly political’. In 2016, Candice created and launched the Guardian and 4th Estate BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) Short Story Prize, the first inclusive initiative of its kind in book publishing. As a journalist she has written for the Guardian, i-D, Vogue International, every iteration of the Sunday Times, BEAT Magazine, Black Ballad and more. She will probably always live in South London. She can be found on Twitter @CandiceC_W

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman #Review #CWIPShadowPanel #CWIPShortList

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

Meet Nina Hill: A young woman supremely confident in her own. . . shell.

Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, an excellent trivia team and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

So when the father she never knew existed dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers.

And if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny and interested in getting to know her…

It’s time for Nina to turn her own fresh page, and find out if real life can ever live up to fiction.


I am going to start off my review by proudly declaring myself as a Nina Hill super fan! I absolutely love her! From the first page to the last word, every sentence made me smile, laugh and sigh with happiness. Nina is in one word perfection.

It is the ultimate book for our troubled times, any time in fact, funny, warm and uplifting. When I was spending time with Nina I forgot about the tensions and anxieties that have plagued me in recent month sand the story is in one precise word, splendid.

The story focus is on bookworm Nina who lives her life through a series of daily to do lists. She is very precise, very bookish and works in a bookshop, but then her world is turned upside down. She discovers a whole family she never new existed. What comes next is a journey of discovery, of allowing people to love her for who she is and most importantly of all, learning to love herself.

One of the joys of The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill is Nina herself, she is quirky, funny and is surrounded by equally wonderful characters. I love her so much that she has vaulted into my list of all time favourite characters. I identified with her so much because I to set aside parts of the day to read and love making lists I often don’t follow. But it’s not just Nina that makes this book special, writer Abbi Waxman surrounds her with a supporting cast of characters who are all individually wonderful.

The humour is gentle and warm, which I found  immensely comforting, with the laughter comes from many different moments. Sometimes from Nina’s devotion to her to do lists, yet this also made me feel emotional, that feeling that I get, that making lists sometimes calms me and gives me some modicum of control, just as it does for her.  Humour also comes from her friends, food fights and a turf war over her beloved bookshop.  It all makes the story feel richer and gives it an emotional depth that made it all the more special. You laugh with her and never at her and I liked that very much.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman ticked every box for me and it made me feel content when I was cwtched within her world.

This is definitely going to feature in my favourite reads this year!

You can purchase this book from Amazon Waterstones.

Why not also consider ordering it directly from your local Indie Bookshop who need all our support at the moment.

About the author

ABBI WAXMAN is a chocolate-loving, dog-loving woman, who lives in Los Angeles and lies down as much as possible. She worked in advertising for many years, which is how she learned to write fiction. She has three daughters, two dogs, three cats, six chickens, two guinea pigs and one very patient husband.

I Was Told it Would Get Easier is Abbi’s fourth novel. Her previous books are The Garden of Small Beginnings, Other People’s Houses and The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.

You can keep in touch with Abbi through her website, or on Twitter at @amplecat


Reasons To Be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe #ComedyWomenInprintPrize

Reasons to be Cheerful

Teenager Lizzie Vogel has a new job as a dental assistant. This is not as glamorous as it sounds. At least it means mostly getting away from her alcoholic, nymphomaniacal, novel-writing mother. But, if Lizzie thinks being independent means sex with her boyfriend (he prefers bird-watching), strict boundaries (her boss keeps using her loo) or self-respect (surely only actual athletes get fungal foot infections?) she’s still got a lot more growing up to do.


I am the first to admit that I don’t always get humour in books, it’s such a personal reaction! I like my humour to be subtle, to be mixed with lots of other varied emotions and Reasons To Be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe fitted the bill perfectly. It wasn’t just funny and charming, it was filled with warmth and easy to love characters, so the perfect combination.

One of the things I most loved about this novel was the characterisation, because it felt real and radiated warmth!

Teenager Lizzie Vogel is an eccentric, quirky teenager from a far from quintessential family and she is a delight.  Much of the comedy comes from her coming of age story as she navigates the adult world and the eclectic, loveable characters that fill hers.  More than once her often innocent, sometimes unconventional view of the world and her own actions made me giggle out loud.  A rare event when I am reading and it just served to make me love her all the more

Then there was her mother whose off-centre actions and glorious determination to be a writer endeared her to me, because underneath all of that, her vulnerability explained her often oddly endearing behaviour.

The story itself is simple and quirky, but at the same time it deals with some difficult subjects such as metal health and loss. Making the story nuanced and delightful to be a part of. The humour springing up from Lizzie’s teenager rich out look on life and her mother’s and colleagues sometimes madcap actions. One such moment that reduced me to giggles was when she helpfully applied ‘Thunderclap’ eyeshadow to a nervous customer, now that has never happened at my dentist!

The humour is gentle as is the story, it all comes from a love of Lizzie, so we are laughing with her and not at her. It makes the story feel warm and generous to read and when it raises a laugh it’s the best feeling in the world. I like my humour pleasant and inclusive and Reasons To Be Cheerful gave me that.

If you are looking for a book with a generous and funny story at it’s heart then this is the book for you. The humour is endearing and the characters quirky and rich in personality.

Making it is a great book for our troubled times.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones.

But why not give your local indie bookshop a call, they need all our support, especially at the moment.

About the author

Described as the natural heir of Sue Townsend, British author Nina Stibbe made her breakthrough with her hilarious book, Love, Nina. A selection of letters from Stibbe to her sister when she was working as a live-in nanny for a London family in the 1980’s, the book – described by Stylist magazine as ‘like a 1980s Mary Poppins with a sense of humour’ – became a bestseller, inspiring a BBC series. Nina Stibbe’s other works include a loosely connected set of novels about the Vogel family: Man at the HelmParadise Lodge and 2019’s Reasons to be Cheerful as well as An Almost Perfect Christmas.

You can follow the author on her website and Twitter


The Innocents by Michael Crummey #Review #BlogTour #TheInnocentsBook

The Innocents Cover

From prizewinning author Michael Crummey comes a spellbinding story of survival in which a brother and sister confront the limits of human endurance and their own capacity for loyalty and forgiveness.

A brother and sister are orphaned in an isolated cove on Newfoundland’s northern coastline. Their home is a stretch of rocky shore governed by the feral ocean, by a relentless pendulum of abundance and murderous scarcity. Still children with only the barest notion of the outside world, they have nothing but the family’s boat and the little knowledge passed on haphazardly by their mother and father to keep them.

Muddling though the severe round of the seasons, through years of meagre catches and storms and ravaging illness, it is their fierce loyalty to each other that motivates and sustains them. But as seasons pass and they wade deeper into the mystery of their own natures, even that loyalty will be tested.

The Innocents is richly imagined and compulsively readable, a riveting story of hardship and survival, and an unflinching exploration of the bond between brother and sister. By turns electrifying and heart breaking, it is a testament to the bounty and barbarity of the world, to the wonders and strangeness of our individual selves. The remote landscape feels violent and dangerous, the perfect backdrop to the lives of the children on the edge of them the known world.  The writing evokes a remarkable and beautiful world, while exposing the flip side of the world they live in, the brutal weather, the mind numbing isolation and the reality of life on these remote outposts, all adding a sense of supressed tension and


The Innocents by Michael Crummey is the story of a brother and sister orphaned and living on an the isolated Newfoundland Coastline. Life is hard and survival takes both resilience and courage. Growing up they have little knowledge of the outside world and as the title suggests they are innocent of that and their own needs and feelings, in very authentic ways.

The story is about how innocence and loyalty to each other sustains them, but also creates tensions and often painful moments for both the characters and the reader.  Such moments, the writing and the backdrop creating a story of extraordinary power.

I think for me it’s brilliance comes from the remarkable way the writer explores how innocence is maintained, because the children are largely isolated from the world at large. How they seem unknowing and removed from the ways society would shape their development and perceptions of each other as they grow and become adults.  With sensitivity the writer also explores how such innocence, sinlessness, despite being isolated from the corruption of ‘civilisation’, is but a hairs breath away from something more tainted,

Parts of this novel are not an easy read, he explores friendship, love, need and sexual awakening, but it is without doubt a dazzling and sensitive exploration of what makes us human.  It is beautifully written and haunting, in that I can’t imagine ever not being able to conjure in my mind the lives of these children and the coastline that live in.

The Innocents feels dazzling not just because of the power of the characterisation and story,  but also the vibrancy of the setting and how Michael Crummey brings it to life.  It felt as if the cold was seeping of the page and the mountains seemed to fill the horizon as I read.  It felt like I was stepping out of the real world and into the brutal beauty of The Innocents Newfoundland setting. You could feel how the brutal beauty that surrounded them, was capable of not just protecting them, but also destroying both their lives and their innocence. The winds buffeting them, did so to me, so much so that looking up at the calm sky around me, left me feeling disjointed from reality.  It felt like walking within a world where innocence was forced to transform itself to stand any chance of survival.

This is a novel where character, landscape and story all have equal billing and they all dazzle to form a work of extraordinary beauty.

About the author 

Michael Crumey Author Pic

MICHAEL CRUMMEY is an award-winning poet and storyteller. Crummey was born in Buchans, a mining town in the interior of Newfoundland. He is the bestselling author of four critically acclaimed novels, River ThievesThe WreckageGalore, and Sweetland, as well as five collections of poetry. His novels have won or been shortlisted for many prizes, including the Giller prize, the Governor-General’s award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the IMPAC Award, and his books have sold over 225,000 copies in North America. He lives in St John’s, Newfoundland.I

The author can be followed on Twitter @MichaelCrummey

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This Side of Death by Andrew Barrett

TSD ebook 26.6.20

This Side of Death. When the past comes back to hunt you. 

Alex Sheridan believes the only way she can be free of her demons is to kill the men in her life. She has a list, and Crime Scene Investigator Eddie Collins is on it. 
Death misses Eddie by inches, and Alex is locked away in Juniper Hill high-security hospital.

Everything is fine for Eddie until one day four years later, when Alex escapes. This time she’s better prepared.

The week that follows ruptures Eddie’s life and shatters the belief he had in his own past, leaving him wondering what really happened, and facing one stark choice: who to kill and who to save.
This Side of Death is the most revealing CSI Eddie Collins novel to date. Prepare to see inside his past and understand what makes him the angriest, most feared, and yet most respected CSI in England.

If you like fast-paced and gripping crime thrillers with a strong forensic element, you’ll love Andrew Barrett’s This Side of Death. It will appeal to fans of Kathy Reichs, Robert Bryndza and Angela Marsons.
To experience Eddie’s battle to stay alive, buy This Side of Death today.


The new instalment in the Eddie Collins thriller series feels dark and utterly terrifying and I loved it!

To be honest I expected to, having been a fan of Eddie and Andrew Barrett’s writing for some time. There are always exceptions though, even with writers you adore, so I dived into This Side Of Death wondering if it would live up to my expectations and it did. CSI Eddie Collins is shall we shall anti social, moody and often down right rude and angry, but I still love him and this latest adventure just cemented that feeling. The writing made you understand why he is this way, life has thrown him some major curve balls, so you never find him annoying or dislikeable, or maybe that’s just me? I love Eddie and it’s the writing that made me feel this way. Especially in this novel where he faces Alex Sheridan a deeply disturbed women, seeking revenge on the men she believes wronged her. Andrew Barrett makes you feel his fear, his anger, confusion and mental anguish and so even when Eddie acts like a idiot to those around him, you sympathise not just with them, but most importantly of all, with Eddie.

Everything in a novel such as This Side Of Death for me relies on the antagonist being evil, chillingly so, but also intelligent and I need them to believe their actions are justified in their own minds! Alex Sheridan is not there just to obstruct Eddie, she is in her own right a fabulous creation. Her twisted mindset, her damaged mind, makes her the perfect foil to Eddie. You love to hate her and though I found her actions deeply shocking, you could almost feel how her mind justified her actions. Andrew Bartlett took us deep into her psychosis, particularly effective when Alex descended into a state of delusions and hallucinations. He opened up the mind of a tortured soul with great skill and made Alex the winning character she is.

Character is important, but in a thriller events are also paramount! This was done superbly as well. The thrills, excitement and terror came in waves, the violence fitting to the story and Alex’s deeply disturbed state. It gripped me as I felt Eddie descended further into mortal danger as all around him his life seemed to be on fire. No one felt safe and I couldn’t look away, even if there were moments when I wished I could, because me nerves were shredded. I was engrossed and chilled to the bone on times and I loved it. Even if on the odd occasion I was engrossed with the duvet cliched tightly as I read on.

This Side of Death is a brilliant addition to the CSI Eddie Collins series and Andrew Bartlett has delivered a tour de force in thriller writing.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon UK and US

About the author


Andrew Barrett became a CSI in 1996, and finished his first crime thriller, A Long Time Dead in 1997. Two more books completed the SOCO Roger Conniston trilogy.
Andrew still produces authentic crime thrillers with a forensic flavour. He’s known for his lead character, CSI Eddie Collins, and the acerbic way in which he roots out criminals. Eddie’s series is five books and three novellas in length.
Andrew is a proud Yorkshireman and sets all of his novels in Leeds.
You can find out more about him and his writing at

And on Twitter, FacebookInstagram

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The Twins Auschwitz – Eva Mozes Kor with Lisa Rojany Buccieri #TheTwinsOfAuschwitz #EvaMozesKor

The Twins Cover

The Nazis spared their lives because they were twins.

In the summer of 1944, Eva Mozes Kor and her family arrived at Auschwitz.

Within thirty minutes, they were separated. Her parents and two older sisters were taken to the gas chambers, while Eva and her twin, Miriam, were herded into the care of the man who became known as the Angel of Death: Dr. Josef Mengele. They were 10 years old.

While twins at Auschwitz were granted the ‘privileges’ of keeping their own clothes and hair, they were also subjected to Mengele’s sadistic medical experiments. They were forced to fight daily for their own survival and many died as a result of the experiments, or from the disease and hunger rife in the concentration camp.

In a narrative told simply, with emotion and astonishing restraint, The Twins of Auschwitz shares the inspirational story of a child’s endurance and survival in the face of truly extraordinary evil.

Also included is an epilogue on Eva’s incredible recovery and her remarkable decision to publicly forgive the Nazis. Through her museum and her lectures, she dedicated her life to giving testimony on the Holocaust, providing a message of hope for people who have suffered, and worked toward goals of forgiveness, peace, and the elimination of hatred and prejudice in the world.


The writer Lisa Ronjany Buccier has written this account of Eva Mozes Kor’s imprisonment in Auschwitz with her twin sister in Eva’s voice and it makes for a very moving and affecting read. Eva and her sister were one of Mengele’s twins, subjected to inhuman tests and experiments under the Nazi regime.

It has been written to be read by young adults, though for me it could be easily read by an adult as well and both would find it informative and moving. The true horror is laid bare about the brutal treatment suffered by those in the camps, though the way the writer weaves in the theme of the twins brave fight for survival, stops the reader being overwhelmed by the horrific reality of the genocide pursued within the walls.

Given this I would urge caution as some of the scenes are deeply upsetting and parent’s might want to read it before, if they are worried their children might be badly affected.  Having said that, it is written in as sensitive a way as possible given the subject matter.  To try and brush over such events would lesson the aim of this book. Reading this book is important, to educate the next generation so such horrors are never repeated. I just feel parent’s may need to be ready to discuss the themes in this book and reading it before hand would help with that.

What comes across is that Eva was a remarkable women and I loved how the writing brought across not only her determination to survive the camps, but not to allow the nightmare to blight her future. This book is as much about her incredible journey as it is about the horrors she and her sister survived in the concentration camps.  It talks about her work with young Germans, telling them about what she went through, also telling them that as children, they were not responsible for the sins of previous generations: but that they had a duty to ensure it did not happen again, as we all do!  She was a brave and resilient person and this is what this book celebrates.

It is an important read I feel, to act as a memorial to those that died. We owe them homage and remembrance and that should never change.

The writer has a remarkable gift, she gives us Eva’s voice and and you really feel as if your hearing a first hand account, as if Eva had written the book herself.  Not once do you feel as if the writer’s views are influencing the narrative. She tells us about  events with searing clarity and it makes for a powerful read.

For me as an adult it feels like I will never forget the what happened to Eva and so many others and that is testament to the writers skill.

You can purchase the The Twins of Auschwitz from Amazon and Waterstones.

About the author

Eva_Mozes_Kor Author Pic

Eva Mozes Kor was a resident of Terre Haute, Indiana. Following her survival of Auschwitz, she became a recognised speaker, both nationally and internationally, on topics related to the Holocaust and social justice. Eva created the CANDLES organisation in 1985 to locate other Mengele twins and found 122 twins across the world. Ten years later, she opened the CANDLES Holocaust Museum to educate the public about the historic event she survived. A community leader, champion of human rights, and tireless educator, Eva has been covered in numerous media outlets and is the subject of a documentary, Forgiving Dr. Mengele. She passed away in 2019.

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The Bench by Cromer Beach by R J Gould #BlogTour #Extract

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Five people in a sleepy English coastal town. One year that changes everything.
They seem to have it all. They’re in good health and are financially secure. They live in a pleasant and comfortable town. But as their lives intertwine, cracks emerge and restlessness grows.
For Clive, is retirement the beginning of the end? Can fun-loving Saskia break free from her adulterous husband? Will Andy marry his childhood sweetheart? Is Jamie prepared to change his dishonest ways? Might Ellie’s happy marriage be shattered by temptation?
Heart-warming and heart-breaking collide in this novel about aspirations, expectations and the realities of everyday life.

I’m delighted today to welcome author R J Gould to booksaremycwtches with an extract from his book The Bench by Cromer Beach. 

The bench by Cromer beach is set in a beautiful, largely unspoilt, town on the North Norfolk coast. There are five main protagonists, one of them the old man sitting on that bench overlooking the beach. As their lives intertwine, cracks emerge and restlessness grows. Another character is Ellie. She seems happily married but is in danger of throwing everything away unless she resists temptation. This extract covers an encounter with the person who threatens to shatter her comfortable life.

She was back down to earth as she got ready for that evening’s celebratory meal (universities always seemed to be celebrating something or other with food and drink). There would be time to resume her career, but for now her family came first.
She put on a summer dress that she’d bought a couple of months previously but had yet to wear, a waisted 1950s lookalike that made her feel good now that her body was back in shape post-pregnancy. She applied a new shade of lipstick, a deeper red than the usual neutral colour, and added rather a lot of mascara. She inspected herself in the corroded mirror, the diagonal crack dividing her face in two. She looked like a panda. Two pandas.
In true university style, there was lots of food, lots of drink, and over-long speeches, each speaker congratulating everyone involved and presenting flowers to administrators, managers, caterers and student helpers. It was gone eleven by the time the dinner drew to a close, at which point the hardy amongst the group retired to the bar. Ellie wasn’t hardy, but there she was, sitting next to Tom, drinking her God knows what number prosecco.
‘What a day! A huge well done, Ellie.’
‘Thanks, Tom. I loved it.’
‘What time are you planning to leave tomorrow?’
‘I suppose I’d better get going soon after breakfast. I need to check the house is still standing.’
Their eyes met – that unspoken pull again.
‘Why do you ask?’
‘Oh, I was wondering whether you fancied a walk around the Broads National Park. It’s a beautiful place and the weather forecast is promising.’
‘Tempting, but probably not.’
‘Well the offer’s there. See how you feel in the morning.’
Ellie looked down at her watch, the digits blurred by alcohol. Where had the last two and a half hours gone, it was half-past one?
‘I’d best be heading off to bed.’ She stood, stumbled and sat back into the chair. She managed to remain upright on the second attempt, though stability was in short supply.
Tom stood by her side and took hold of her arm. ‘Let me help you get back in one piece. My room is in the block next to yours.’
They walked together, arm in arm, Ellie all too conscious of the warmth of his body against her own. She edged closer, wanting more. She looked up at a full moon peeping through the trees, casting spooky shadows. The sudden head movement brought on a wave of dizziness and she stopped in her tracks, pulling Tom to a halt next to her.
‘You OK?’
Who started the kissing, Tom or her? Who kept it going for so long, a hungry exploration of mouths and tongues? Who was the first to reach naked skin, she caressing Tom’s lower back, his shirt pulled up, he stroking Ellie’s neck, shoulders, arms? Tom touched her breast, through her bra and then inside it. She shivered in the heat of it all.
When they froze it was like they’d been captured in a photo, her hand on his waist, his clumsily reaching to her breast, their faces depicting both bewilderment and lust.
Who pulled away first?
It was Ellie who was the first to speak. ‘We can’t do this. I can’t do this.’
‘Nor me. I want to but can’t either.’
There was no need for explanations or apologies. Both had happy families, loving partners who couldn’t be betrayed.
They sank down onto the grass and lay together. For Ellie the pull of sex swiftly waned, replaced by the comfort of leaning against this fine man. They remained there in silence for quite some time, the full moon casting magical shapes around them as the trees swayed gently in the breeze.
It was Tom who broke their reverie. He stood and held out his arm to lift Ellie. ‘Come on, best get some sleep.’
Ellie didn’t take hold. ‘You go, I’d like to stay here a bit longer.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘Yeah, I am. I’ll see you at breakfast.’
‘I’ll see you tomorrow then.’
Tom walked off, tucking his shirt in as he went.
Ellie was wiping away tears as she watched him.

You can purchase this book via the following links –

About the author

The Bench R J Gould author

R J Gould is published by Lume Books and Headline Accent and is the author of five novels: A Street Café Named Desire, The Engagement Party, Jack and Jill Went Downhill, Mid-life follies and The bench by Cromer beach. He is a (rare male) member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Having been selected for the organisation’s New Writers Programme, his first novel was short-listed for the Joan Hessayon Award. ​​Ahead of writing full time, R J Gould led a national educational charity. He has published in a wide range of educational journals, national newspapers and magazines and is the co-author of a major work on educating able young people. He lives in Cambridge, England.

You can follow the author on his website, TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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