The Cat Who Saved Books~Sosuke Natsukawa

Natsuki Books was a tiny second-hand bookshop on the edge of town. Inside, towering shelves reached the ceiling, every one crammed full of wonderful books. Rintaro Natsuki loved this space that his grandfather had created. He spent many happy hours there, reading whatever he liked. It was the perfect refuge for a boy who tended to be something of a recluse. After the death of his grandfather, Rintaro is devastated and alone. It seems he will have to close the shop. Then, a talking tabby cat called Tiger appears and asks Rintaro for help. The cat needs a book lover to join him on a mission. This odd couple will go on three magical adventures to save books from people who have imprisoned, mistreated and betrayed them. Finally, there is one last rescue that Rintaro must attempt alone . . .

Second book of 2022 complete and it’s only the second week of January!

Where do I start with The Cat Who Saved Books? A few months back while hitting a popular online bookshop for some much needed retail therapy, I came across this title and thought to myself that it would be a lovely read; I like cats and I like books so clearly would be a good choice. I read the blurb and figured if it’s an adult book with a talking tabby cat as a character, then that’s a book I seriously need in my life! And I’m wasn’t disappointed in the slightest!

Standing at 217 pages it’s a small book but there are plenty of sentences and paragraphs which have a massive impact on the reader and the characters are whimsical but so very strong in personality!

I adore how Tiger the talking tabby cat pops up one day in Rintaro’s hour of need (in my view Rintaro doesn’t know it’s his hour of need but as I got toward the end of the book it hit me that he really needed help from the cat rather than the cat needing help from him) and really brings Rantaro in to his own skin, so to speak, and takes him on this fantastical adventure that only someone with a life long love for books could possibly feel the true meaning of.

For me, this was the perfect short read to break up my habit of crime thrillers and I can’t rave about it enough! I’d give it a full on 10/10 and whenever I picked it up to read and Tiger came along, I heard Eddie Izzard’s voice in my head for the whole of his narrative! because it’s a translated book there’s use of Japanese words and culture throughout the translation giving it a truly original and cultural feel.

Sosuke Natsukawa is a doctor in Nagano, Japan. His first book Kamisama No Karute (‘God’s Medical Records’) won the Shogakukan Fiction Prize and received second prize at the Japan Bookseller Awards. It sold over 1.5 million copies and was adapted into a film in Japan.

The Shape of Darkness~Laura Purcell

Day 5 of 2022 and I have finished my first book (no one needs to know I started it mid December though! Our secret!)!

I have been a fan of Purcell’s since I was loaned a copy of The Silent Companions back in 2017 and that was the second book to ever give me nightmares! So needless to say, I knew all the titles that would follow would come with an eery plot! And The Shape of Darkness didn’t fail!

The twists and turns in this book were incredible! I have to admit that as much as I liked reading Bone China, it felt as if Purcell had been in a rush to finish it in order to go on to a new idea (the same sort of feeling I get with some Stephen King novels) and felt like she had grown bored of her characters, so the final chapter left me a little deflated somehow, but this was the opposite! For me, it was as if she was back launching herself high above her original standard. I loved every second of her latest title!

Admittedly it took me longer that I would have liked to get though this book and I have Covid-19 to thank for that, but once I had hit the half way point I was off! I read obsessively in the nights in bed until my eyes were gritty and I was half asleep!

The plot is a woman believes her clients are being murdered and seeks guidance from a young spirit medium, with the added stress of looking after her young nephew and elderly mother as well as her own health being vulnerable. But all is not as it seems and this is where it becomes incredibly interesting!

I thought that maybe Constance was alive after all and taunting Agnes, and I also thought that it was Montague at one point and bounced between these two theories for such a long time! There were two incredible plot twists at the end and I couldn’t believe what I had read! It took me re-reading the final pages three times to let it sink in-and I still have so many questions!

Honestly The Colour of Darkness is worth the read! I wasn’t sure if I found it difficult at first because of being unwell and tired or because it’s a historical fiction or even both, but I’m so glad I stuck with it because it shows that Purcell is still hitting the mark with her plots and characters!

About The Author

Laura Purcell is a former bookseller living in Colchester, Essex with her husband and pet guinea pigs. She began her career with two historical novels about the Hanoverian monarchs, Queen of Bedlam and Mistress of the Court.

Her first Gothic novel The Silent Companions was a Radio 2 Book Club pick, was selected for the Zoe Ball ITV Book Club and was the winner of the Thumping Good Read Award. Her other Gothic titles include The Corset, Bone China and The Shape of Darkness.

In the USA Laura is published by Penguin Books, where The Corset is titled The Poison Thread and Bone China is called The House of Whispers-Which led me to get overly excited thinking there were two more books of hers I had yet to read! Her new title Something Wicked is due for release in August 2022 and available to pre-order now.

The New Friends~Daniel Hurst

We all go on holiday and at some point get chatting to people in the hotel bar or plane, occasionally we may have drinks with them and very occasionally we may stay in touch for a short amount of time after we’re home. But imagine if the couple you have drinks with while abroad on holiday, and stay in touch with afterwards, actually con you out of thousands of pounds of your hard earned savings?

That is exactly what happens in Daniel Hurst’s latest book “The New Friends”. Hard-working and down to earth couple Becky and Jamie spend an evening in Spain with Phil and Mel, a couple their age who are retired and seem to have it all. Becky and Jamie feel so lucky when they return back home to England and the wonderful Phil and Mel are so eager to meet their new friends! However, Phil and Mel aren’t all they appear to be, which leaves Jamie and Becky devastated and broke with a baby on the way.

Can Jamie and Becky ever get their money back? Will the loss of all their money drive a wedge between them? Will Mel be able to give them the answers they’re so desperate for?

Each chapter is from a different narrative, which was written so well it flowed perfectly and made for easy reading and not difficult to follow at all. The twists and turns were incredible and I really felt so angered by the scam that saw Jamie and Becky lose their money and put their marriage at risk-at one point I was so enraged I didn’t think I could actually go back to the book! It’s a frightening read when you know that in this day and age nothing is really as innocent as it seems and people do fall victim to these awful scams and the consequences are truly devastating. But I persevered and read right through to the end in a matter of days! The ending was so good! I loved how it (almost) all came together!

About the Author

Daniel Hurst was born in the northwest of England, a part of the world famous for its comedians, pasties and terrible weather. He has been employed in several glamorous roles in his lifetime (his own description) including bartending, shelf stacking and procurement administration, all while based in some of the most exotic places on the planet, like Bolton, Preston and South London. Lucky Daniel.

Since following his lifelong passion for writing in 2020, he has amassed a loyal and devoted set of readers, and regularly has several books in the top 100 of the Psychological Thriller Charts on Amazon. He is currently writing the fictional 20 Minute Series alongside several standalone psychological thrillers, as well as his shopping list for Asda. His novels (but not the shopping list!) are available via Inkubator Books publishing house and can be found mostly on Amazon with some really great deals on Kindle.

Hope and Sanctuary~Neet Neilson


Hope rescues intensive farming animals from slaughter among many others in her growing animal sanctuary, but finds herself struggling to make ends meet. Compounded by frequent flooding, a constant drain on her resources, as well as the risk it poses to her animals, Hope puts out a desperate plea on national television for help.

Grant Marshall comes to her rescue, but there’s a catch. He’s a farmer – and Hope loathes farmers.

Grant offers Hope everything she could ever desire for her sanctuary, leaving her with a dilemma – does she go against her morals and beliefs to accept his charity or will she accept his challenge that he can convince her that he is a compassionate man – in more ways than one?

I jumped at the chance to be on this blog tour because I love animals and I’m secretly a sucker for a little romance (don’t tell-I’ve got a reputation to uphold!) it’s a nice small read with 173 pages so perfect to quickly get lost in and then be found by reality (in my case, kids, puppies, cats and work!) it’s a lovely size book to have in your bag or by the side of the bath because it’s a nice unwind-and-chill-for-few-minutes read, I wasn’t able to read it cover to cover as quickly as I’d have liked because of being unwell and in high demand with work (supply work-when you’re needed, you’re really needed!) which is my review was up and running later in the day that normal.

Neilson wrote some likeable characters, she delved in to their histories and personalities quickly, which saved for a lot time, and when it came to pages of passion, she went right in for the kill-not so much Fifty Shades of Hope but some very heated moments that might to be a good idea to read if you’re around people and blush quite easily! They were well written and not over the top either- very much what I look for in romance novels of this calibre.

I loved Hope and ached for her losses and truly just wanted that happily ever after for her-and for Grant too. I was so pleased when Neilson decided to throw these two a lifeline and give them what they both needed after all the trauma and heartache endured. It was a lovely book and although cheesy in places, it was perfectly proportioned so as not to induce an eye roll.

About the Author

Neet has been a big fan of romance novels since she was a teen, borrowing books from her mother’s bookcase. Her love of reading laid the foundation for an interest in writing short stories, poems, songs, screenplays, stage plays and novels. Her background in nursing, lecturing and research has been invaluable when establishing a sound knowledge base for her writing, while her emotions are the driving force behind her work. Her love for animals is her greatest passion.

All royalties from Neilson’s book Hope and Sanctuary will go to Glendrick Roost Animal Welfare Centre , registered charity number SCO36986

Big thank you to Zoe O’Farrell for arranging a spot for me on this blog tour and to Dark Edge Press for sending me a physical copy of this book.

The Girl Downstairs~Ian Maitland

Well bloody hell! What a book!

I’ve never opened a review with a swear word but this title has literally blown me away! I couldn’t stop reading it (and trust me when I say that it’s been a while since that happened!) and the twists were phenomenal!

Let’s start with the plot; a lonely man takes in homeless girls when they need it the most. Nothing seems too sinister, until you realise this book is written by a thriller writer known for his guts and gore narrative and that the main character is really struggling with mental health difficulties.

As the plot thickens you see the lead character struggle with sleep, self regulation and balancing of emotions and as a reader you try to put together the pieces of the puzzle in front of you which are laid out with snippets of what can only be described as dark poetry. There’s talks of “being inside” and a lot of death and pain, which made me think that he had been in prison and perhaps was a criminal who had escalated in to a serial killer.and that rather than helping vulnerable women he was preying on them.

The plot actually develops over several twists and turns and becomes a true game of cat and mouse and toward the end, you have literally no idea who is the cat and who is the unfortunate mouse.

Honestly I thought the second to last chapter was going to be a happily ever after and hoped that all my instincts had been wrong, as they had been previously, but it turns out the last chapter totally changed everything. It was intense!

The Girl Downstairs is truly a magnificent read and I can’t believe I haven’t come across Maitland’s books before! I’m intrigued to follow him as an author and I really enjoyed his writing style and the characters he creates. Well worth a read!

About the Author

Iain Maitland is the author of three previous psych thrillers, The Scribbler (2020), Mr Todd’s Reckoning (2019) and Sweet William (2017), all published by Contraband, an imprint of Saraband. Mr Todd’s Reckoning is coming to the big screen in 2023. Iain is also the author of two memoirs, Dear Michael, Love Dad (Hodder, 2016), a book of letters written to his eldest son who experienced depression and anorexia, and (co-authored with Michael) Out Of The Madhouse (Jessica Kingsley, 2018). He is also an Ambassador for Stem4, the teenage mental health charity. He talks regularly about mental health issues in schools and colleges and workplaces.

I Know Your Secret~Jess Roy

 

Married to a leading medical consultant, with a fabulous career, two amazing children, and a beautiful house in the suburbs of Galway City. Everything is perfect – or is it? Because Amanda hides a secret. One she has lived with for years. A secret so terrible she has no doubt it will destroy her life if ever it is revealed. And this is exactly what happens, starting with a note pinned to her car, on it just four words: I know your secret. Who knows her secret? Who does she turn to? Who does she trust? Amanda’s worst nightmare has just begun.

Well WOW! Just wow! Never having read any of Jess Roy’s work before, he was a totally new author to me and I’ve really been missing out! The characters had their moments where they weren’t particularly strong or interesting, and it felt like they were keeping things buried a lot of the time, but over all they were pretty likeable. I felt for Amanda-secrets are hard to keep when they could derail your life BUT the discovery of a note like that would put anyone in to turmoil!

I Know Your Secret is well written, suspense in the right places despite it having time hops, and it just works. It was intriguing and a real page turner! I think over winter break from work I’ll be reading Roy’s previous novels for sure!

Author Biography.

Jess Roy has writing all of his life and holds an M.Phil in Creative Writing from Trinity College, Dublin. However, not really had the confidence, or focus, to pursue it properly until relatively recently. So when he’s not typing away, Roy is an employee of the Irish police, An Garda Síochána. Since 2014 and has also written six novels, three published by Bookouture. More recently, I Know Your Secret was published by Question Mark Press in November 2021. He enjoys playing guitar, writing the odd ditty, and singing American country songs.

The Recovery of Rose Gold~Stephanie Wrobel

I’ve hit a bit of a reading slump lately and struggled to get through a single chapter once I’ve eventually managed to pick up a book BUT this had been on my TBR list for so long it was actually a bit rude to skip past it yet again, so I began to read it on Sunday and by the following Saturday I had finished the entire book-I was so gripped by Wrobel’s writing style, plot and characters that I simply couldn’t put it down! I even read it while sat on my boyfriends sofa totally ignoring the three dogs and their mischief (which is totally unheard of!)!

The Recovery of Rose Gold is a phenomenal book that alternates narratives between Rose Gold in the past and present, as well as her abusive mother Patty (again, in the past and present). Rose Gold was a victim of Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another (FDIA), more commonly known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSP) (think Gypsy-Rose Blancharde but without parental murder but a huge revenge plot!) and Rose Gold not only survived the abuse from her mother Patty BUT she testified against her in court and then fours years later went on to forgive her mother. Or so she had the world believe.

I really enjoyed how strongly the characters were written and the varying narratives and time hops were easy to follow and digest in order to pain the picture that Wrobel has worked so hard for the reader to see. I found it really interesting how Rose Gold actually developed Munchausen Syndrome herself (pretending she had an illness of her own accord) in a desperate bid to join her “other family” on a trip to Yellow Stone National Park and as you read on, you start to see that Rose Gold isn’t so much as forgiving her mother but is actually setting her up for highly intricate, and frankly pretty perfect, stone cold and long overdue revenge!

Anyone who has followed the case of Gypsy-Rose Blancharde will highly enjoy this compelling read, as will those who have followed other high profile MSP cases around the world such as the case of Marybeth Tinning (who lost 9 of her children in the 70’s and 80’s), Lacey Spears (whose 5yr old son passed away from overdosing via salt in his NG feeds in 2014), and British Lisa Hayden Johnson (whose son was very premature and Lisa enjoyed the attention so much that she had everyone believe he had a severe food allergy and was tube fed as a result and she spent years spiking his feeds).

The Recovery of Rose Gold is literally like a MSP case crossed with Gone Girl and was so compelling! Not often would I rave about a subject so harrowing, but the twist really has me and that for me was the making of the book! And I truly cannot recommend this read enough!

About the Author

Wrobel is a Chicago native who has spent the last few years living in Britain (lucky us!) with her husband and their dog. She has previously worked as a creative copywriter for a variety of advertising agencies before turning her hand at writing novels. The Recovery of Rose Gold (or Darling Rose Gold in the US) was her first novel and was published in March 2020 (the height of the Covid-19 global pandemic) and has been quickly followed by her second novel, This Might Hurt, which will be released in March of 2022 (which I really can’t wait for!).

The Farm House at Peace & Plenty~L.B. Stimson

“The house, for all of its solitude, seemed incredibly noisy. The Farmhouse, having stood against time and history for nearly 160 years in the Virginia countryside, was forgotten and abandoned until Kyle and Jenny Dowling moved in during the summer of 1972. The Dowlings, married just a year, were struggling to repair their broken marriage. It was to be the perfect place, away from it all, to heal their relationship. Jenny would write and Kyle would tend to minor renovations. The rent was cheap. The realtor warned them, however, against staying beyond the final days of fall.

I have to say a big thank you to ZooLoo’s Book Tours who arranged for me to have a digital copy of the book and gave me a space on the blog tour. And secondly thank you to L.B Stimson for writing this boom and creating the character of Jenny.

While I found the book a little slow to start, I really connected with the character of Jenny and understood her angst, pain and attempts of determination. Living with the pain of having to go to her husband when he had been found after his disastrous sex-session with a student could not have been easy, and then leaving her home for the summer to live in a run-down and remote place while he made attempts to fix the house and try to fix their marriage isn’t easy to witness-whether its fictional or not. I hated Kyle throughout the entire book! He seemed selfish to me. Even when Stimson wrote him as a guy who was trying to come through for his wife, a voice in my head still screamed “but he wouldn’t have to try so hard if he hadn’t have screwed up in the first place!”

I love the setting too! The farm house is so remote and I really enjoy how it fuelled Jenny’s writing and when she began to picture her heroine at the farmhouse you didn’t know if she was seeing her imagination play out in front of her or if she was seeing the images of lives lives long ago.

Kyle was told not to stay longer than autumn at the farmhouse, Jenny was warned by the towns folk, but they did just that and the consequences weren’t a bed of thornless roses. Which, I do realise is the point of the plot, but did a lot me because if you’re told not to stay then in my optimism you simply don’t stay! However, it was cleverly set up so how much of the decision to stay was their own and how much was another influence at work is tricky to tell, which makes the plot that more riveting all around.

Overall I enjoyed the book once I got stuck in! I wouldn’t necessarily watch it if I came across it as a film or series because to me a narrative can be dramatically different when transcribed from page to screen and I feel like it would ruin the experience of the book for me, and I would recommend it for a spooky or Halloween reading challenge that avid readers, book bloggers and bookstagrammers are so fond of (last year I took part in a spooky read along and really enjoyed it) as it’s perfect for fans of Shirley Jackson’s style and era of fiction.

About the Author

L.B. grew up in a one stop-light town in central Idaho. After earning a Bachelor of Art’s degree in cultural anthropology from California State University-Chico, she uprooted herself to begin a new life in Washington, D.C., where she began a varied career in professional communications in private business and education.

“I’ve always had a passion for photography, travel, writing, and history. I am thrilled to now be creating works of fiction that allow me to share these passions with others. One of my favorite parts of the writing process is the historical research required to bring authenticity to my characters’ lives.” This is her fifth book and the second in her standalone series: Tales from the Parlor Room–a collection of gothic and ghostly tales. Stimson currently resides in Virginia where she enjoys cemetery walks, visiting abandoned and haunted places and working on more ghostly tales.

Two Truths~ Dana C.Carter

“After the mysterious death of her husband, Renee Morgan is determined to protect her three daughters, forcing her to face a history she has spent a lifetime avoiding. Groomed by her father to join the most elite of secret societies, Brett knows she is destined for something great. But her ambition demands a high price. Sara is ready to avenge her father at any cost. When she finds herself swept up in conspiracies and family secrets, her search for answers uncovers a primeval power. Hadley watched her father die and now he won’t leave her alone. Guided by his ghost, she begins to experience memories of past lives. As the journeys of Renee, Brett, Sara and Hadley converge, two Truths are revealed that change everything they knew about themselves and the world they live in.

Firstly I’d like to say a big “THANK YOU” to ZooLoo’s Book Tours for placing me on this blog tour. For a book reviewer whose been in a deep slump for some time, she’s really taken a chance on me when others have not and I’m grateful for that.

Secondly, let’s get on with the review!

I first picked up the book with high expectations- it had been a while since I had read anything other than murder mystery’s and crime thrillers so I was excited to get stuck in. But sadly I found it a slow read and this could be because it’s a step away from my usual genre or because I may not be ready to dedicate myself to reading again just yet, possibly even a mixture of the two, but read the book was my goal and I did just that. Albeit it very, very slowly.

The characters are all very different; Rennee the mother and her daughters, Brett, Sara abs Hadley all bring something different to the table and they are all very well written with their own issues and missions in life which I found to be a little confusing at times when I was trying to push on with my reading, but did enjoy the different dimensions of each character.

As the title states there are Two Truths to learn and each has its own consequence and chain of events. And Rennee has to learn to live with the fact that even though she is trying to help her daughters she simply must allow each girl to travel their own path and learn for themselves, no matter her thoughts and feelings on it. Which as a mother made me really feel for her.

Two Truths is a well researched and well written novel, and Carver clearly knows her Bible verse as there are numerous references throughout-don’t let this put you off reading it though! It’s relevant and not at all a book about Christianity! It’s a book for fans of Dan Brown though! Never having been a huge fan of Brown, I do find that any follow in titles I won’t be reading as it simply didn’t enthral me as much as I would have liked (again this could be because I’m severely pre-occupied and it’s also not my usual genre, however I was eager to branch out from my comfort zone and glad I did!).

About the Author

Dana C Carver was born in 1972 in Columbus, Ohio. She wrote her first book at seven years old and won the school’s “super writer” award, and has been writing ever since.

She has a degree in psychology with a minor in creative writing from the University of Cincinnati, and did her post-graduate studies in physiology at Portland State University Currently she works as a program manager and coach, helping organizations to implement and evaluate change initiatives. She is the Chair of the Good Programmes Trust, home of the award winning GoodYarn program, which has seen nearly 7000 people educated in mental health and wellness. Previously, she owned her own coaching and training studio, which operated for over a decade serving nearly 400 clients. She now lives on a Dairy farm in the South Island of New Zealand with her husband, Tony, and is blessed with three step-children, a foster-daughter and two grand-daughters

The Flat Share~Beth O’Leary

A fair amount of time has passed since i last uploaded review, but a lot has been going on! I also lost my love for reading temporarily which didn’t help me rush to find the time. However, while taking a well-earned break upon The Magic At Sea (a Disney Staycation Cruise) I had a few hours each day to myself which I used to read a book that had been on my TBR list for what seemed like forever! The Flat Share caught my interest while flicking through social media and other book blogs but had been at the bottom for some time and when I was buying sticker books for my daughter, I noticed it was in a special offer so it seemed silly not to pick it up for myself.

Tiffy has been broken up with Justin (the worst boyfriend ever by the way! Seriously cannot hate a character anymore than I hate Justin!£ for a while but still lives in his flat. Deciding that she needs to take back her life, she moves out. Sadly Tiffy, like many of us, has a pretty low wage and can’t afford her own flat and is pulled in to a flat share of epic proportions with a seriously low price. Why is the price so low? Because it’s a one bedroom flat with one bed, and the other flat dweller is Leon- an over worked hospice nurse with an innocent brother in prison and a less than understanding girlfriend (I think she’s stuck up, but I think each reader will have their own interpretation). How will this arrangement work? Simple! Leon works nights so will have the bed in the day, and Tiffy works days so will have the bed in the night. Weekends are Leon at his girlfriends place and Tiffy being sick he has the place to her self.

So what stops this arrangement working? Leon and his girlfriend split up, meaning he has no refuge for weekends. Justin (the creep) keeps turning up and literally ruining things for poor Tiffy. Meanwhile Leon’s brother as struggling in prison, and Tiffy’s discovery of a bag of crocheted scarves under the time-share bed helps her and Leon out no end, meaning Tiffy and Leon become involved in each others lives more than they had ever bargained for.

When I first started to read The Flat Share I kept thinking it won’t work, I won’t make it to the end, the brother will turn out to be guilty and it’s going to be one of those books that has too much hype and not enough meat on its bones. BUT how wrong I was!

What really blew me away, was how O’Leary can write to narratives from two polar opposite characters and get it so right! Even the dialogue is set out differently and somehow it’s more “readable” and easy to follow! It was as if Leon and Tiffy were written by two different people! I also really enjoyed the end result and how Justin got exactly what he deserved! I also kept wondering if Leon’s brother was innocent or guilty as we had to take everything about his story at face value, and I was waiting for a twist about him but was really relieved that it all worked out.

Over all, The Flat Share was a pleasantly surprising read and well worth sticking with through to the very end and I’ll be recommending it to everyone as a really good and alternative summer read.

Author Biography

The Flat Share was O’Leary’s debut novel and was written on the train while working as a children’s publisher in 2019 and has since gone on to publish The Switch: A Novel, The Switch 2 (both in 2020) and The Road Trip (available now).