Book reviews, Crime thriller

Bitter Wash Road by Garry Disher – Book Review


Hirsch is a whistle-blower. Formerly a promising metropolitan detective, now hated and despised, he’s been exiled to a one-cop station in South Australia’s wheatbelt. Threats. Pistol cartridge in the mailbox.

So when he heads up Bitter Wash Road to investigate gunfire and finds himself cut off without backup, there are two possibilities. Either he’s found the fugitive killers thought to be in the area. Or his ‘backup’ is about to put a bullet in him.

He’s wrong on both counts. But Tiverton when the next call-out takes him to the body of a sixteen-year-old girl, his investigation has disturbing echoes of the past he’s trying to leave behind…



#1 in the Paul Hirschhausen series.

Set in Australia, Constable Paul Hirschhausen, known as Hirsch, is now working in the Single Officer Police station after being moved to the remote town for whistleblowing. He in a small town where other cops make his life difficult to say the least.

So when reports of gunfire on the Bitter Wash Road, Hirsch is sent to investigate, he finds it’s just kids target shooting, but then finds the body of a hit and run victim on the roadside. Soon after there is another death, a suicide ?. Hirsch starts to wonder if there’s a link between the deaths but his odious boss doesn’t want them investigated…..why?

A tale of murder and corruption in a small town with a mix of suspects and plenty of twists to keep you guessing. With its clever plot and atmospheric setting this is a gripping, engrossing thriller.

Thank you to Rachel at Viper books for the opportunity to read Bitter Wash Road for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.



Garry Disher was born in 1949 and grew up on his parents’ farm in South Australia.

He gained post graduate degrees from Adelaide and Melbourne Universities. In 1978 he was awarded a creative writing fellowship to Stanford University, where he wrote his first short story collection. He travelled widely overseas, before returning to Australia, where he taught creative writing, finally becoming a full time writer in 1988. He has written more than 40 titles, including general and crime fiction, children’s books, textbooks, and books about the craft of writing

Book reviews, Crime thriller

Threadbare by Malcolm Hollingdrake – Book Review


The team is seeing changes. Cyril is away and for the second time, Owen finds himself in charge of the investigation. An elderly gentleman dies of a snake bite and unfortunately his carer is also attacked. The second murder is a shooting, an unusual weapon being used, again an elderly victim.

A photograph of four friends celebrating a win at the Great St Wilfred’s Stakes at Ripon races in 1986 seems to be significant, but the relevance, at first, is lost in the investigation.

Another victim, one of the friends in the photograph, is found dead in his home. Only one of the friends remains alive and Owen and his team fight against time to prevent his murder.

The investigation is hampered by two siblings, the Bostock brothers, who have a history of rivalry and hatred; one of them is in the Ripon races photograph.

DS April Richmond’s biblical knowledge proves critical in solving the crime. The snake, Lilith, conjures the Garden of Eden. Two more fatalities occur before the crimes are solved and the motive is revealed.



#9 in The Harrogate Crime series.

This starts with Cyril proposing and so has now stepped back a little on cases while on honeymoon. His team carry on as usual though, so there is more about them and their backgrounds which I felt makes the characters more rounded. 

They begin investigating a death and find it was caused by snake venom… the body count grows they find more secrets and it becomes a race to catch the killer before any more deaths…

This is a well paced thriller with the tension building as the story progresses, ending with a marvellous final twist that I really didn’t see coming. A thoroughly engrossing read.

Thank you to Caroline Vincent at CazVin Books for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest and unbiased review. 

Book reviews, Family drama, Historical fiction

You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr – Book Review


A beautiful and heart-breaking story set in South Africa where two mothers – a century apart – must fight for their sons, unaware their fates are inextricably linked.

Orange Free State, 1901. At the height of the Boer War, Sarah van der Watt and her six-year-old son Fred can only watch as the British burn their farm. The polite invaders cart them off to Bloemfontein Concentration Camp promising you will be safe here.

Johannesburg, 2010. Sixteen-year-old Willem is an outsider who just wants to be left alone with his Harry Potter books and Britney, his beloved pug. Worried he’s turning out soft, his Ma and her new boyfriend send him to New Dawn Safari Camp, where they ‘make men out of boys.’ Guaranteed.

The red earth of the veldt keeps countless secrets whether beaten by the blistering sun or stretching out beneath starlit stillness. But no secret can stay buried forever.



You Will Be Safe Here is a tale of South Africa and parts of its troubled history. Told in two distinct timelines, the 1900’s and more recently, 2010. 

There’s Sarah, a Boer woman whose husband has left to fight the British, leaving her, her son and servants at home. The British milithen arrive, take all their possessions, set fire to the home and take them all to a concentration camp. The conditions were horrific with sickness and starvation rife among the prisoners.

Then there is Willem, in 2010, his mother and stepfather leave him at the New Dawn camp to ‘make a man’ of him.

Both tales are brutal and heartbreaking. This is beautifully written and packed with emotion and a little hope.  It’s shocking and utterly compelling and will stay with me for a long time. A stunning, haunting read.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.


You can buy a copy here:




Maggie & Me’ is my memoir and ‘You Will Be Safe Here’ is my first novel. You can follow me on twitter @damian_barr and insta @mrdamianbarr. I host my own Literary Salon at the Savoy:

‘You Will Be Safe Here’ is set in South Africa in 1901 and now. It explores legacies of abuse, redemption and the strength of the human spirit – there is always, light even in our very darkest moments. I didn’t imagine it would feel so urgent when it was published.

‘South Africa, 1901, the height of the second Boer War. Sarah van der Watt and her son are taken from their farm by force to Bloemfontein Concentration Camp where, the English promise: they will be safe.

Johannesburg, 2010. Sixteen-year-old outsider Willem just wants to be left alone with his books and his dog. Worried he’s not turning out right, his ma and her boyfriend send him to New Dawn Safari Training Camp. Here they ‘make men out of boys’. Guaranteed.’

Inspired by real events, it uncovers a hidden colonial history and present-day darkness while exploring our capacity for cruelty and kindness. Here’s what some writers I admire are saying:


Book reviews, Non fiction

Act 3. The Art Of Growing Older by Judy Reith & Adrian Reith – Book Review


At last, the life you want . . . post 50.

We’re living longer, in better health, with higher expectations than any generation in human history. With an extra adult chapter to look forward to, what will you do? Who else could you be? How will you evolve the best plan for your life between 50 and 80?

Judy and Adrian Reith have decades of experience in helping people see hidden possibilities, clarify their goals and achieve life-changing results. In Act 3 they suggest practical steps to make your life more fulfilling as you age. From the ground up this book will help you identify and strengthen the four roots you’ll need for a happy and successful third act. It illustrates how your attitude, purpose, relationships and values are keystones to a life without regret.

Act 3 gives tools and tips to help you focus on what matters, with chapters on Work, Home, Money, Health, Play, the World and Friends. You’ll be inspired by original stories of those who have changed their lives after 50 and be able to re-imagine your future, and so get the life you want . . . at last.



Act 3 is a breath of fresh air, it’s packed full of positivity. It’s honest, has lots of very useful information and ideas on how to enjoy the aging process, to accept this as a part of life and something to be celebrated. Getting older is not something to dread but to relish.

There are lots of quotes and real life anecdotes from various people and circumstances that helps create such a positive attitude and a joie de vivre.

I found this to be a book to dip into depending on my mood or particular thought and the final chapters are so useful, for me personally it really struck a chord. It’s definitely a book I will refer to again and again.

A thought provoking and empowering read. Brilliant. 

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.


You can buy a copy here:




Judy Raith has been a coach and parenting expert for 20 years. She draws on her professional training in child development, counselling and parent education to help thousands of parents, some of whom are entering Act 3. She is the author of 7 Secrets Of Raising Girls Every Parent Must Know, Be A Great Mum and Transform Living With Teenagers.


Aged 50 in 2006, Adrian Raith ditched a successful career as a writer and director in advertising to help people unscramble their mental spaghetti. Having re-trained as a coach he works with executives and leaders to help them make the most of life and work. He and Judy live together in Cambridge. 


Book reviews, Classic style whodunnit

Mortmain Hall by Martin Edwards – Book Review


“You died once,” Rachel Savernake whispered. “Tell me who arranged your resurrection, or before the day’s out, you’ll be dead forever.”

  1. At her remote coastal estate of Mortmain Hall, enigmatic heiress and amateur sleuth Rachel Savernake is hosting a gathering – at the bequest of an eccentric criminologist – of people who have cheated the gallows. But the house party culminates in tragedy when a body is found beneath the crumbling cliffs.

The verdict is accidental death, but Rachel determines to foil an ingenious plot to get away with murder. She encounters an eclectic mix of suspects and victims, including a radical publisher risen from the grave, a fake medium with a sinister past, and a cricketer mauled to death by an escaped lion.

Rachel sets out to uncover the labyrinthine secrets of Mortmain Hall, but her relentless quest might just bring down the British establishment…

Who can we turn to, if justice betrays us?


Set in the 1930’s, this is a classic style murder mystery. It tells of Rachel Savernake, a wealthy, semi reclusive woman who lives in a large home with a staff of the Truelove family, who she is close to. Rachel is also an amateur sleuth.

Staying at Mortmain Hall with a group of people, a murder is committed and Rachel begins to investigate and find a killer. What links these guests?

Beautifully written with a real sense of time and place, this is a twisty, glamourous and thoroughly entertaining classic whodunnit. A marvellously fun read.

Thank you to Martina at Midas PR for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and a free copy of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.




Martin Edwards’ latest novel, Gallows Court, was published in September. He is consultant to the British Library’s Crime Classics series, and has written sixteen contemporary whodunits, including The Coffin Trail, which was shortlisted for the Theakston’s Prize for best crime novel of the year. His genre study The Golden Age of Murder won the Edgar, Agatha, H.R.F. Keating and Macavity awards, while The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books has been nominated for two awards in the UK and three in the US. Editor of 38 anthologies, he has also won the CWA Short Story Dagger and the CWA Margery Allingham Prize, and been nominated for an Anthony, the CWA Dagger in the Library, the CWA John Creasey Memorial Dagger, and a CWA Gold Dagger. He is President of the Detection Club and Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, and Archivist of both organisations. He has received the Red Herring award for services to the CWA, and the Poirot award for his outstanding contribution to the crime genre 

Book reviews, Crime thriller

Spider Games by K.J. McGillick – Book Review


Kate O’Brien is pure dedication; she believes in the justice system. This feisty, no-nonsense attorney works herself to the bone every day, tirelessly building her reputation and career. She is on the path to being a legal star. That is until her corrupt law partner, Bill Brown, a criminal defense attorney, achieves a degree of notoriety which attracts the interest of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

When the inconceivable happens, Bill is arrested, charged with multiple counts of drug trafficking and money laundering leaving the law firm in chaos. As Kate slowly digs her way out, what she finds sends her down a dark path that could lead to her imprisonment or death. Bill has meticulously set her up to pay for his malevolent crimes. His cohorts, fearing she knows too much, have marked her for death. Can she stay ahead of the FBI and unravel crimes that reach as far as China and Russia? Or will she need to assume a new identity to save her own life?

A fast-paced thriller that keeps you guessing until the end. Suspenseful crime fiction with twists and turns throughout this masterfully plotted novel keeps you on the edge of your seat. It may be read as a standalone and serves as the first book in the series, A Conspiracy of Betrayal.



#1 in The Conspiracy Of Betrayal series.

Kate O’Brien is a lawyer whose life and career are put in danger after her law partner, Bill,  is investigated by the DEA.

All the while she is still working cases but then finds links to Bill and his plans to implicate her in his crimes. Can she prove the truth before it’s too late ?

This is so well plotted that it keeps you on your toes with its twists and secrets. A tense and intriguing tale. Thoroughly entertaining.

Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest, unbiased review.




Kathleen McGillick is an author of fast paced mystery, suspense and thriller novels. Her fascination with the genre reaches back to her childhood when she read every Nancy Drew book she could find. This, one could say, laid the foundation for her future love of all things mystery and who dun it’s.

Although she has lived in Georgia for over thirty-five years and is practicing attorney in the Metro Atlanta, she will always call New York her home.

When writing her novels she draws from her extensive experience in the medical and legal field to weave her twisted plot lines. Kathleen counts herself an ardent student of art history which allows her to add a dash of art to her novels adding to the mystery of the story.

As a young person her dream was to become an English literature teacher. Although life took her on a different path, one might say she found her way back to her early love of books by spending her time now writing them.


Book reviews, Crime thriller

We Begin At The End by Chris Whitaker – Book Review


You can’t save someone that doesn’t want to be saved . . .’

For some people, trouble just finds them.

Thirty years ago, Vincent King became a killer. 

Now, he’s been released from prison and is back in his hometown of Cape Haven, California. Not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend, and sister of the girl he killed.

Duchess Radley, Star’s thirteen-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin – and to her deeply troubled mother. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but also the whole town. 

Murder, revenge, retribution.

How far can we run from the past when the past seems doomed to repeat itself?


30 years ago, 5 year old Sissy Radley died. A 15 year old boy, Vincent King was convicted of being responsible for her death.

King has just been released from jail and has returned home to the small town of Cape Haven.

We Begin At The End is a tale set in a small American town, where everyone knows each other’s business. There is a marvellous mix of characters, Chief Walker, a police officer addicted to pills, Star, Sissy’s sister, who is a mess of drink and men, and young Duchess, 13 years old and parent to her little brother and carer to her mother, Star. Duchess is a little obsessed with an old outlaw ancestor and she is as unpredictable as he was, but also she will protect her family at all costs.

This captures the claustrophobia of a small town, it shows people at their best, their worst and their most low. It is a thriller with an emotional heart.

Beautifully written in a way that reminded me of the writing of Harper Lee and John Steinbeck, it’s about the characters and their lives. Heart rending, utterly compelling and unforgettable, a must read.

Thank you to Tracy and Compulsive Readers for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest, unbiased review.

You can buy a copy here:





Chris Whitaker was born in London and spent ten years working as a financial trader in the city. 

His debut novel, Tall Oaks, won the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger. 

Chris’s second novel, All The Wicked Girls, was published in August 2017. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two young sons. 

Book reviews, Psychlogical thriller, War fiction

All In Her Head by Nikki Smith – Book Review


An emotionally charged suspense about the dark corners of a mother’s mind, perfect for fans of Erin Kelly and Louise Candlish.

A haunting and compelling book that shines a light on the darkest corners of the human psyche and makes us question our limits.

Alison is more alone than she’s ever been. She is convinced that her ex-husband Jack is following her. She is certain she recognises the strange woman who keeps approaching her in the canteen.

She knows she has a good reason to be afraid. She just can’t remember why.

Then the mention of one name turns her life upside down.

Alison feels like she’s losing her mind . . . but it could just lead her to the truth.


All In Her Head is the story of Alison who has amnesia after suffering a trauma in her past. 

She sees people who she thinks she knows but is worried one of them may have been responsible for her trauma. Her sense of fear and paranoia builds, as the reader begins to see the larger story, how Alison’s mental health is drawing her deeper into her fears.

With plenty of twists and surprises this unique thriller is so clever, utterly compelling and is a read in one sitting book. Brilliant.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.




Nikki studied English Literature at University before pursuing a career in finance. She always had a passion for writing and in 2017 she applied for a Curtis Brown Creative writing course. Later that year she had a short story published and submitted the opening chapters of her novel to a competition where she won the opportunity to be mentored by the author Amanda Reynolds, and the rest was history. 

Book reviews

Summer Of Reckoning by Marion Brunet – Book Review


A psychological thriller set in the Luberon, a touristic French region that evokes holidays in magnificent pool- adorned villas. For those who live there year-round, it often means stifling poverty and boredom. Two teenage sisters have grown up in a world where the main distractions are hatred of Arabs and booze. When Celine, 16, discovers she is pregnant and refuses to divulge her lover’s identity, her father embarks on a mission of revenge. A dark and upsetting account of an ailing society, filled with silent and murderous rage.

Brunet uses her tense and efficient novel to tell us a story of “people at sea, on a boat punctured just above the waterline, never far from a shipwreck”. No one describes better the poisonous claustrophobia of families trapped in small rural towns. She writes with a scalpel about couples, family, sexism, racism and poverty.

A story that is dark and luminous at the same time, dark following the slow unravelling of the crime story affecting Celine, and luminous in Joe’s conviction that she will escape this sinister world. A novel that leaves you heart-stricken and seduced.–Le Monde

With its intense rage, corrosive boredom and low-life scams, Brunet’s Provence is saturated with broken dreams. The last flickers of childhood are terrifying, proving that, even under the strong sun, social barriers remain implacable.–Paris Match


Set in the south of France this is a tale of envy, resentment and racism…..and a little hope.

16 year old Cèline is pregnant, she won’t tell who the father is. 

Her father is angry, he suspects her friend Said, a neighbour. As a result his resentment and racism comes stronger which adds to his feelings of inadequacy and makes him even more violent and angry. How far will he go ?

This is a relatively short novel but, my,  it packs a punch. It’s well written and you can feel the stifling heat and the simmering tension is palpable. A tale of male violence, of the casual sexism women suffer daily. It’s dark, unflinching and so compelling. 

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.


You can buy a copy here:


ABOUT The Author and the Translator


Marion Brunet, born in 1976 in the Vaucluse, is a well known Young Adult author in France. Her YA novels have received over 30 prizes, including the 2017 UNICEF Prize for Youth Literature. Summer of Reckoning is her first novel written for adults and her first work to be translated into English.


Katherine Gregor lives in London and has recently translated works by Alexander Pushkin from the Russian and plays by Carlo Goldoni and Luigi Pirandello from the Italian.

Book reviews, Non fiction

18 Tiny Deaths by Bruce Goldfarb – Book Review


‘For most of human history, sudden and unexpected deaths of a suspicious nature, when they were investigated at all, were examined by lay persons without any formal training. People often got away with murder. Modern forensic investigation originates with Frances Glessner Lee – a pivotal figure in police science.’

18 Tiny Deaths is the remarkable story of how one woman changed the face of murder investigation forever.

Born in 1878, Frances Glessner Lee’s world was set to be confined to the domestic sphere. She was never expected to have a career, let alone one steeped in death and depravity. Yet she was to become known as ‘the mother of forensic science’.

This is her story.

Frances Glessner Lee’s mission was simple: she wanted to train detectives to ‘convict the guilty, clear the innocent and find the truth in a nutshell’. This was a time of widespread corruption, amateur sleuthing and bungled cases. With the help of her friend, the pioneering medical examiner George Magrath, Frances set out to revolutionise police investigation.

Her relentless pursuit of justice led her to create ‘The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death’, a series of dollhouse-sized crime scene dioramas depicting actual cases in exquisitely minute detail that Lee used to teach homicide investigators.

They were first used in homicide seminars at Harvard Medical School in the 1930s, and then became part of the longest running and still the highest regarded police training seminar in America.

Celebrated the world over by scientists, artists and miniaturists, these macabre scenes helped to establish her legendary reputation as ‘the mother of modern forensics’, influencing people the world over, including Scotland Yard.

Frances wanted justice for all. She became instrumental in elevating murder investigation to a scientific discipline.





£16.99 HARDBACK,




18 Tiny Deaths is the story of Frances Glassner Lee, Captain Lee as she preferred.

Born to a wealthy family in 1878, she showed an interest in medicine from an early age. She also had an interest in dolls houses, which would come in useful later in life.

She was an amazing, strong and determined woman and certainly not content with the usual domestic life of women at that time. 

Captain Lee became pivotal in forensic science and used her dioramas of crime scenes to teach others. These dioramas were exact replicas of actual crime scenes, from wallpaper, carpets, plates and even blood spatter. They were used extensively as training aids and are still exhibited today. They have also influenced TV shows such as CSI, in the Miniature Killer episodes, which uses crime scene dioramas very similar to Captain Lee’s.

I found this to be a well written and totally fascinating insight into a relatively unknown exponent of forensic science. An incredible and compelling read.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.




Bruce Goldfarb is the executive assistant to the Chief Medical Examiner for the State of Maryland, US, where the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death are housed. He gives conducted tours of the facility and is also a trained forensic investigator. He began his career as a paramedic before working as a journalist, reporting on medicine, science and health.

He collaborated with Susan Marks – the documentary filmmaker who produced the 2012 film about Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshells titled Of Dolls and Murder.



Book reviews, Classic style whodunnit, Cosy mystery

Burying Bad News by Paula Williams – Book Review


Burying Bad News

One severed head, two warring neighbours – and a cold-blooded killer stalks Much Winchmoor. 

There’s the murder made to look like a tragic accident, and a missing husband. Could he be victim number two?

The tiny Somerset village is fast gaining a reputation as the murder capital of the West Country, and once again, reporter/barmaid/dog walker Kat Latcham finds herself reluctantly dragged into the investigation.

Things are looking bad for Ed Fuller, the husband of one of Kat’s oldest friends. Kat’s convinced he’s innocent – but she’s been wrong before.

Has Kat come across her biggest challenge yet?

Fans of Janet Evanovich could well enjoy this “funky, modern day nosey detective” transported to the English countryside. The third Much Winchmoor mystery is, as always, spiked with humour and sprinkled with a touch of romance.



#3 in the Much Winchmoor mysteries series, but can also be read as a stand-alone.

This starts with the discovery of a severed head, it appears a killer is again abroad in the village of Much Winchmoor.

Kat is working several jobs to keep her finances afloat, including being a journalist for a local newspaper. As such she deals with neighbourhood disputes of various kinds and she has a nose for murder. So she begins her investigation.

This is a marvellously entertaining cosy murder mystery. A classic whodunnit with great characters and a real sense of time and place. A thoroughly engaging read.

Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest, unbiased review.


Purchase Link


Author Bio – 


Paula Williams is living her dream. She’s written all her life – her earliest efforts involved blackmailing her unfortunate younger brothers into appearing in her various plays and pageants. But it’s only in recent years, when she turned her attention to writing short stories and serials for women’s magazines that she discovered, to her surprise, that people with better judgement than her brothers actually liked what she wrote and were prepared to pay her for it and she has sold over 400 short stories and serials both in the UK and overseas.

Now, she writes every day in a lovely, book-lined study in her home in Somerset, UK, where she lives with her husband and a handsome but not always obedient rescue Dalmatian called Duke. She still writes for magazines but now writes novels as well. She is currently writing the Much Winchmoor series of murder mysteries, set in a village not unlike the one she lives in – although as far as she knows, none of her friends and neighbours have murderous tendencies. 

A member of both the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Crime Writers’ Association, her novels often feature a murder or two, and are always spiked with humour and sprinkled with a touch of romance. 

She also writes a monthly column, Ideas Store, for the writers’ magazine, Writers’ Forum. And she blogs about her books, other people’s books and, quite often, Dalmatians at 

She gives talks on writing at writing festivals and to organised groups and has appeared several times of local radio. In fact, she’ll talk about writing to anyone who’ll stand still long enough to listen.

But, as with all dreams, she worries that one day she’s going to wake up and find she still has to bully her brothers into reading ‘the play what she wrote’.


Social Media Links – 

Blog. at

Facebook author page is


Twitter. @paulawilliams44


 Instagram. paulawilliams_author 



Book reviews, Mental Health, Non fiction

Everything Is Going To Be K.O by Kaiya Stone – Book Review



In Everything is Going to be K.O. Kaiya Stone writes about her own experiences of living with specific learning difficulties: from struggling at school to being diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia while at university, to performing her own one-woman stand up show inspired by her journey.

Always funny and unfailingly honest, Kaiya outlines the frustrations of having SPLDS but also the ways in which they have fuelled her creativity. She calls for neurodiversity to be celebrated and stresses that instead of questioning how we are ‘supposed’ to think we should take pride in our cognitive differences.

Everything is Going to be K.O. is an uplifting book for anyone who has ever wondered what it is like to live with learning difficulties today.



This is Kaiya Stone’s memoir, telling of her slightly unconventional upbringing with her marvellously ‘hippy’ parents, to her life with Specific Learning Difficulties.

She writes with such humour and honesty it makes this a delight to read, but at the same time it deals with the seriousness of living with SLDs. I learned a lot and now have a greater understanding of the difficulties many people have to deal with on a daily basis.

It’s honest, open and illustrated with charming drawings, all of which make this a thoughtful and uplifting read. Brilliant.

Thank you to Martina at Midas PR for the opportunity to read this for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

Book reviews, Legal drama, Thriller

No Truth Left To Tell by Michael McAuliffe – Book Review


February 1994—Lynwood, Louisiana: Flaming crosses light up the night and terrorize the southern town. The resurgent Klan wants a new race war, and the Klansmen will start it here. As federal civil rights prosecutor Adrien Rush is about to discover, the ugly roots of the past run deep in Lynwood.

For Nettie Wynn, a victim of the cross burnings and lifelong resident of the town’s segregated neighborhood, the hate crimes summon frightful memories of her youth, when she witnessed white townspeople lynch a black man. Her granddaughter Nicole DuBose, a successful journalist in New York City, returns to Lynwood to care for her grandmother. Rush arrives from DC and investigates the crimes with Lee Mercer, a seasoned local FBI special agent. Their partnership is tested as they clash over how far to go to catch the racists before the violence escalates. Rush’s role in the case becomes even more complicated after he falls for DuBose. When crucial evidence becomes compromisethreatening to upend what should be a celebrated conviction—the lines between right and wrong, black and white, collide with deadly consequences.

No Truth Left to Tell is a smart legal thriller that pulls readers into a compelling courtroom drama and an illusive search for justice in a troubled community.



This is a mix of legal thriller and courtroom drama which deals with the subjects of racism and civil rights.

It revolves around the horrific acts perpetrated by the kkk, the cross burnings, the hatred they encourage and the consequences of these acts.

It is an emotive read in many ways and will induce feelings of anger at those responsible and of empathy for the victims.

A clever plot and well developed characters make this a compelling thriller from start to finish.

Thank you to Anna at FSB Associates for the opportunity to read this for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.



Michael McAuliffe has been a practicing lawyer for thirty years. He was a federal prosecutor serving both as a supervisory assistant US attorney in the Southern District of Florida and a trial attorney in the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC. 

In 2008, Michael was elected and served as the state attorney for Palm Beach County, leading an office of approximately 125 prosecutors. He was  known for leading the ethics reform movement in county that resulted in the creation of a permanent inspector general, an ethics commission, and new ethics code.

He also has been a partner at a major law firm, a global company general counsel, a senior lecturing fellow at Duke University’s School of Law, and an adjunct professor at William & Mary’s School of Law. Early in his career, Mr. McAuliffe was a Civic Education Project fellow and visiting professor of law in the Czech Republic.

Aside from the law, Mr. McAuliffe is an alpine mountaineer, having climbed and reached the summits of Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro (with his daughter), Island Peak in the Himalayas, and many other mountains.

He received his JD from the College of William & Mary’s Law School and his BBA from the Business Honors Program at the University of Texas at Austin. Michael and his wife Robin Rosenberg, a US district judge, have three children, and live in Florida and Massachusetts.

Book reviews

The Cutting Place by Jane Casey – Book Review



From award-winning author Jane Casey comes an incredibly exciting new Maeve Kerrigan crime thriller!

You’ve got to be in the club to know the truth.

Everyone’s heard the rumours about elite gentlemen’s clubs, where the champagne flows freely, the parties are the height of decadence . . . and the secrets are darker than you could possibly imagine.

DS Maeve Kerrigan finds herself in an unfamiliar world of wealth, luxury and ruthless behaviour when she investigates the murder of a young journalist, Paige Hargreaves. Paige was working on a story about the Chiron Club, a private society for the richest and most privileged men in London. Then she disappeared. 

It’s clear to Maeve that the members have many secrets. But Maeve is hiding secrets of her own – even from her partner DI Josh Derwent. Will she uncover the truth about Paige’s death? Or will time run out for Maeve first?



This is #9 in the Maeve Kerrigan series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone but you will be missing out on a really great series.

When a body part is found by a mudlarker on the Thames shore, an investigation begins to find the identity of the remains and how they died.

They belong to a journalist, who believed she had an explosive story about the secretive Chiron Club whose members are rich and powerful men.

Maeve takes a short stint at undercover work at an event at the Chiron Club to see if she can find out more. Are the rumours true? Was Paige onto something before she died and did it result in her death?

Meanwhile, Maeve has a boyfriend, Seth, he seems the perfect man, attentive and romantic, but her friends feel he is changing her. Derwent really doesn’t like him and he’s suspicious of his motives, to say the least.

Maeve also has a secret, which comes to light and threatens her close friendship with Derwent.

This really is an astounding read, it is a murder mystery, a thriller but also about relationships, secrets and domestic violence. The domestic violence is brutal, honest and told in a non sensational way, that anyone can be a victim.

So well written,with great well developed characters and clever, dark and tension filled plot. I think this is the best in the series so far…..I loved every minute.

Thank you to The Pigeonhole and Harper Collins for an ARC of this amazing book. This is my honest and unbiased review.


Book reviews, Crime thriller, True Crime

From Innocence To Arrogance by Ezekiel King – Book Review


From Innocence to Arrogance is the most authentic British crime novel on the market today. This book takes the reader on the journey in first person as Cyrus Johnson lives his day-to-day life.

Every 15-year-old is somewhat the same, what makes Cyrus so different is his mentality and decision-making. Read this! It will open your eyes to a world you never knew existed right under your nose. The information to live this life is here, but after having it, would you still want to?



Set in Coventry, this is the tale of Cyrus, a young man living on a council estate in a, let’s say, less than wealthy area. He’s fed up and bored of this life and he wants more, to have cash in his pocket and a little respect.

So, he decides to be a drug dealer.

He ‘employs’ friends and even family to help and quickly becomes successful. Cy is quite naive and trusting at first, but he gradually becomes more wary, harder and arrogant. He has the money, cars, girls and the lifestyle he so sorely wanted, but at what cost?

This really is a glimpse into a world many of us never see (thankfully) but a world many young men get drawn into by the idea of easy money, the glamour and respect. But it’s a violent world too and so many become victims of it.  Ezekiel King knows this world and has eloquently shown both sides in this eye opening fictional tale. It’s honest, gritty and clearly heartfelt as it shows the consequences of this lifestyle…….it will not end well. I found this to be utterly absorbing from start to finish and I’m hoping to read more of Cy and what happens in his life. 

Thank you to the author, Ezekiel King for the opportunity to read From Innocence To Arrogance for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

Book reviews, Comedy, Japanese fiction

Spark by Naoki Matayoshi – Book Review


Tokunaga is a young comedian struggling to make a name for himself in Osaka, when he is taken under the wing of the more experienced, but no more famous, Kamiya. But as much as Kamiya’s indestructible confidence inspires him, it also makes him doubt the limits of his own talent, and his own dedication to comedy.

Winner of the prestigious Akutagawa Prize, Spark is about art and friendship, about what it means to be committed to our own ambitions and to each other. A novel about comedy that’s as moving and thoughtful as it is funny, it’s already been a sensation in Japan.


Firstly, Manzai is Japanese stand up comedy, but it’s not about jokes. It’s about word play and deliberate misunderstandings between the two comedians. A straight man and a funny man.

Spark is the tale of Tokunaga, one of the Sparks manzai duo. He wants to be a better comedian, so when he meets the enigmatic Kamiya he persuades him to take him on as an apprentice, a Kohai. This is the story of their escapades.

I found this to be a really touching story of friendship, it’s ups and down and ultimately of love and respect. It’s funny and emotional too at times.

While this is a short read, it is well written with great characters and really packs a lot in. It speeds along with so much to keep you thoroughly engaged and entertained from start to finish.

Thank you to Poppy at Pushkin Press for a free copy of Spark. This is my honest and unbiased review.


Book reviews, Science fiction

Guest Post from D. Ellis Overttun – Prophesy:Eve Of Darkness

I’m delighted to welcome D. Ellis Overttun to The Bookwormery today. David is raising awareness of his Terra Nova series. First, here’s some information about the background to the series….this instalment is Prophesy: Eve Of Darkness.


The Terra Nova series takes the reader on a journey of discovery to solve a mystery. Book 1, Universe: Awakening, suggests a universe on the verge of extinction when viewed through the lens of geologic time. Book 2, Genesis: Vision of the New World, suggests a safe haven.


But how to get there?


Through a series of seemingly disparate clues, this instalment, Prophecy: Eve of Darkness, shows us how. Along the way, the reader will encounter several themes.

One of the themes in the Terra Nova series is evolution.

Prophecy introduces us to the Nephilim, a clan descended from the Great Father and banished to the subterranean world beneath the planet. We see how this environment changed not only their physiology but also their ideology, culture and language. A universe away, we see how a genetically engineered species called “ProtoGendu” gain a foothold on a planet called “Terra Nova”. Finally, the Celesti themselves seem to be evolving as a new form of procreation called “life from life” offers hope to a dying species.

The Nephilim speak in a tongue called “clanspeak”, a form of communication that has devolved into a compact vocabulary designed to convey only the most basic information. What does this look like? I relied on the work of evolutionary biologist Professor Mark Pagel of the University of Reading. There have also been other physiological changes that have evolved that allow them to survive in this lightstarved environment.

Stealth, secrecy and deceit are suggestive of the concept of hidden or unrevealed. In Prophecy, we learn the Nephilim have adapted to survive in the harsh environment of the underearth by stealth and concealment. Now, they will use this skill to try to regain the position they once held. We think that language is a way to communicate. 

However, Professor Pagel has argued that, in fact, one of the functions of language has been to keep proprietary knowledge within a defined group. It is language as a vehicle of secrecy. (How many times have parents lapsed into the language of their forefathers when discussing sensitive matters in front of their children?) The reader will see this demonstrated in the “tongue of Taru” and the “old tongue”. Finally, lies and halftruths abound, inspired by Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting.

Nativism is a philosophy of favoring the interests of incumbents over those of newcomers. It resists change. It is the ideology of “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke”. It is embodied in their philosophy of “purity and justice”. The antagonism of the Nephilim to the Celesti has been drawn from current events. Their response is not unlike the metaphor of the camel’s nose. The reader can see the parallels from today’s society as certain groups respond to their perception of being pushed out or already feeling they are outside the tent. Prophecy describes how this feeling can be exploited by one with his own agenda.

Who are the villains in the series so far? As author, I can tell you that it’s Theodor and the Nephilim. To me, their philosophies and motivations are reprehensible. But are they? (Yes, they are.) I read or heard an interview somewhere that a villain never really thinks he or she is the villain. (The only exception I can recall is the Operative from Serenity who said “There’s no place for me there…I’m a monster.”) Villains are motivated by what they believe is right, just like the protagonists of any story. This theme has been drawn from current events. Who are the heroes and who are the villains? It will be decided by history, and history is written by the victors.

Concepts from quantum physics feature as more of Auberon’s abilities are revealed. A quantum particle approaching a barrier can simultaneously pass through it (quantum tunneling) and bounce off it as long as no one is watching. This is referred to as “quantum nonlocality”. The concept of the connection between the observer and the observed was introduced to me when I read The Tao of Physics which explores the relationship between physics and eastern mysticism. Would this allow someone to walk through walls? This is sci-fi. So, the answer has to be “yes”. But how?

Prophecy finally explains the technology of the Intrepid/Phoenix. In Book 1, we learned matterantimatter annihilation powers the ship from particles that pop in and out of existence. Something from nothing also has its parallel in JudeoChristianity in the concept of “ex nihilo” from Genesis 1:1. We also learn the ship travels in subspace but we don’t know how. Book 2, tells us that subspace is opened by the convergence of two beams. Book 3 reveals more about this process and subspace itself.

The series draws heavily from JudeoChristian traditions. We learn the firstborn of the Great Father was a son named “Nephilim”. Clan Nephilim believe their birthright was unjustly taken from them by what was once Clan Artaxiad. There is a parallel in the story in Genesis of Esau and Jacob. The Nephilim, sometimes referred to by biblical scholars as “fallen”, has been directly reflected in their epithet in Prophecy as the “Fallen Ones”. The uniforms the Nephilim wear to protect themselves from the light and volume of sound of the surface world is reminiscent of the scales of a snake. This image was inspired by the serpent in the Garden of Eden.

Intriguing that’s for sure…..Thank you to David for providing all this information and pictures.


Book reviews, Contemporary fiction, Womens fiction

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley – Book Review


Everybody lies about their lives. What would happen if you shared the truth instead?

Julian Jessop is living a lie. He’s lonely but refuses to speak to neighbours. He loved his wife when she was alive, but he didn’t tell her. (In fact, he wasn’t very kind to her at all.)

He feels invisible to the world but he doesn’t want to go out.

But now he wants to be honest.

So he writes his truth in a small green notebook and leaves it in his local cafe.

Monica gave up a high-flying career as a lawyer to open her own cafe,

but it isn’t going as well as she hoped.

On finding the notebook, she’s both inspired to write her own truth and to help Julian out of his loneliness.

Little does Julian know that his one small act is about to bring a whole group of people together as they discover the power, and the danger, of honesty.



This is the story of a little notebook.

Julian feels a bit jaded by life, he’s frustrated that no-one seems to be truly honest with each other any more. So he writes the truth about himself in a little notebook and leaves it in a cafe for someone else to find.

It is found and read by Monica, who adds her own thoughts and does the same….gradually a few people add their own worries and truths one by one.

With the anonymity comes a real honesty, but is there a cost? As these people gradually meet, friendships are made.

I found this to be a charming tale of home, dreams and friendships, with a gentle humour, great characters and some emotional moments too. A lovely, uplifting read and just what’s needed in these troubled times.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.


You can buy a copy here:




Clare Pooley graduated from Cambridge and spent twenty years in the heady world of advertising before becoming a full-time mum. She is the author of the hugely popular blog, Mummy was a Secret Drinker, under the pseudonym Sober Mummy and her memoir, The Sober Diaries was published by Hodder in 2017 to critical acclaim.

Her blog has had over two million hits and she recently gave a TEDx talk titled Making Sober Less Shameful.

Clare’s debut novel The Authenticity Project is inspired by the time Clare spent in advertising, a world where the line between authenticity and fiction is constantly blurred, and by her own experience of exposing truth about her seemingly perfect life in her memoir. 

Book reviews, Crime thriller, Nordic noir

Sister by Kjell Ola Dahl – Book Review


Oslo detective Frølich searches for the mysterious sister of a young female asylum seeker, but when people start to die, everything points to an old case and a series of events that someone will do anything to hide… Suspended from duty, Detective Frølich is working as a private investigator, when his girlfriend’s colleague asks for his help with a female asylum seeker, who the authorities are about to deport. She claims to have a sister in Norway, and fears that returning to her home country will mean instant death.

Frølich quickly discovers the whereabouts of the young woman’s sister, but things become increasingly complex when she denies having a sibling, and Frølich is threatened off the case by the police. As the body count rises, it becomes clear that the answers lie in an old investigation, and the mysterious sister, who is now on the run…

A dark, chilling and up-to-the-minute Nordic Noir thriller, Sister is also a tense and well-plotted murder mystery with a moving tragedy at its heart, cementing Kjell Ola Dahl as one of the greatest crime writers of our generation.



Frank Frølich is a private investigator, while investigating a case of purloined goods he meets Matilde. She has a friend, Guri,  who needs help finding the missing sister of an asylum seeker. 

Frølich takes the case as a favour, but is then contacted by an author who is working on a new book about the immigration system and wants him to check the motives of those searching for the missing girl…

But, then things get dark, the bodies begin to pile up and the tension builds.

With an incredibly taut plot, that really keeps you guessing, such likeable characters and the topical storyline, this really is a totally compelling read. Nordic Noir at its very best.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.


You can buy a copy here :




One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo. 

Balkan noir, Book reviews, Crime thriller

Living Candles by Teodora Matei – Book Review



The discovery of a woman close to death in a city basement sends Bucharest police officers Anton Iordan and Sorin Matache on a complex chase through the city as they seek to identify the victim. As they try to track down the would-be murderer, they find a macabre trail of missing women and they realise that this isn’t the first time the killer has struck. Iordan and Matache hit one dead end after another, until they decide they’ll have to take a chance that could prove deadly.

Buy Link







This is a murder mystery set in Romania. 

When a red haired woman’s body is found hanging upside down an investigation begins. She miraculously survives, but is she the only victim?

Commissioner Anton Iordan and Chief Inspector Matache find details of other missing women, but what links them?

This is a fast paced, relatively quick read with a very clever plot that keeps you guessing. I read this in one sitting and was completely engrossed from start to finish. 

Thank you to Kelly at Love Book Tours for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and a free ecopy of Living Candles. This is my honest and unbiased review.


Corylus Books


Corylus Book is a new venture aiming to publish fiction translated into English. The people behind the company have very different backgrounds, but what brings us together is a deep appreciation of crime fiction and a strong interest in books from countries that so have been under-represented in English.


It took a while before it turned out that everyone’s thoughts had been on similar lines – that we wanted to take a chance on presenting some of the great European crime fiction that wouldn’t normally make its way into English. With a mixture of language, translation and other skills between the four of us, it seemed the logical next step to take.