Day 21: exploring the local area again with a visit to Yateley Common. Plenty of ice!
Day 22: a shopping date with Anya
Day 23: a disastrous lunch date at the restaurant where we had our first date. My first plate wasn’t vegan and its replacement wasn’t gluten free. Really concerned about their allergy knowledge 🙁 Third attempt never arrived so although my fries were nice, I had to go home and cook! Chris’ meal was great!
Day 24: Zach completed his silhouette homework
Day 25: the boys destroyed their old bed so I bought a duvet and cover. Love the star design and they are comfy and cosy
Day 26: after our date disaster, I loved this romantic quote on Duolingo (We are getting old but we love each other more each day)
Day 27: we still haven’t found time for puppy training classes but at least they understand ‘sit’ and other commands
Mary gave away her baby when she was a teenager. Now her husband has died and she wants to find the daughter she has never forgotten. She is delighted to find her long lost daughter Cathy but her other children are not so thrilled…
The Family Reunion is a family drama and psychological thriller set in the UK.
Mary is devastated by the death of her beloved husband but thankfully she has her children to support her. Her heart is aching for her first child, a baby she gave birth to secretly then abandoned in a phone box. Mary never told her husband about Hope but now wants to find her long lost daughter. This is a huge shock for her other children Joanne and Jason, both of whom have secrets of their own…
There is an enormous emotional layering to this novel. Mary’s heartache is so easy to understand and imagine as she deals with grief for all she has lost. Cathy has also missed out on a great deal and Mary is eager to make amends but this creates a tension with her other children. Joanne and Jason have a believable sibling rivalry with each other and this is thrown into focus as they unite in their suspicions about Cathy.
Most of the book is written from Mary’s perspective so we clearly understand her feelings, choices and actions. There are other chapters which show other perspectives and the secrets that are being kept from other family members.
The psychological elements of the book come from strange incidents which make Mary feel unsafe. She fears she may be in mental decline but could she also be in danger? Cathy’s arrival signifies warning bells for Joanne and Jason as they feel their inheritance and relationship to be threatened. As further lies are revealed, it becomes clear that there could be darker motives at work within the family. The epilogue has a huge twist which made my jaw drop!
The Family Reunion is an intensely emotional novel with plenty of mystery and secrets.
She’s the daughter you never knew… But how far will she go to get the life she never had?
Today I’m hosting a family party. One that’s different to every celebration we’ve had before. Because I’ve invited my secret daughter to it.
I’ve never forgiven myself for abandoning her as a baby, with just a scrawled note tucked into her soft yellow blanket, saying her name was Hope.
As soon as she reached out, I knew I had to meet her. My family all seem ready to accept her with open arms, their forgiveness a blessing I barely deserve. And I dare to believe that maybe we are all going to have a happy ending after all.
So I try to put all those small, strange things that have been happening to me in recent weeks out of my mind. The missing money, my lost charm bracelet, the broken window, the fire…
But as the drinks are poured and everyone’s talking animatedly, I hear a knock at the door. And something in my heart tells me this family is about to be torn apart. And there’s nothing I can do to stop it…
An utterly gripping psychological suspense novel with a twist you’ll never see coming. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, Mark Edwards and K.L. Slater.
Karen King is a multi-published author of both adult and children’s books. Currently published by Bookouture and Headline, Karen writes about the light and dark of relationships. Her third psychological thriller, The Mother In Law, was published in July, and her eleventh romantic novel, The Spanish Wedding Disaster, in June. A fourth psychological thriller will be published in January 2023.
Karen has also had 120 children’s books, two young adult novels, and several short stories for women’s magazines published. Her thrillers The Perfect Stepmother and The Stranger in my Bed and her romantic novel The Cornish Hotel by the Sea became International Amazon bestsellers.
Karen is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors, the Crime Writers’ Association and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. She now lives in Spain where she loves to spend her non-writing time exploring the quaint local towns with her husband, Dave, when she isn’t sunbathing or swimming in the pool, that is.
Matilda Darcy returns to her university course and shared house after the Christmas break. She split up with Dean just before the holidays and is looking to party to heal her broken heart and show him what he is missing. But another student dies during a party game and other deaths follow…
First Degree Murder is a murder mystery set in Ambleside in northern England. I think the book is probably aimed at older teens and young adults due to its shorter length and style of writing.
It has a Dear Diary style at the beginning of each part and is written from Matty’s first person perspective throughout. The tone is very chatty and I felt that Matty’s character felt authentic as I was caught up in her student dramas (it did make me feel rather old, remembering that I finished uni 21 years ago!)
The drinking game death and the subsequent one are traumatic and emotional due to Matty’s experience of trying to help the victims. There are lots of twists as Matty suspects many of her friends and enemies of being a killer. The ending was a little extreme but certainly dramatic!
On the softer side, Matty has her on-off relationship with Dean and the whole host of emotions this causes. Her growing friendship with PC Nick Wilde is full of humour and possible hints of a future relationship (hoping this is the first book in a series…)
First Degree Murder is an entertaining murder mystery aimed at young adults.
Matty Darcy is a Criminology and Psychology student in the quaint university village of Ambleside. She has survived the normal dramas of student life such as shared living, assignments, heartbreak and friendships. But this year takes the drama to a whole new level when her fellow students start mysteriously dying.
Matty takes it upon herself to catch the killer with the help of local Police Officer, and heartthrob, P.C Nicholas Wilde and her ex-boyfriend Dean. It is a race against the clock to work out who’s killing students, and why.
Matty soon finds out more than she has bargained for… enough to make her the next target!
M.J. Weatherall is one of those people who loves writing but always struggles to write about herself. She always feel like she’s bragging (which in and of itself sounds like a brag according to her).
She is a young author from Sheffield who moved to the Lake District to get her BSc (Hons) degree in Outdoor Adventure and Environment. More recently she has qualified as a primary school teacher and is now fulfilling her calling as an educator.
M.J. loves climbing, kayaking and spending all her spare time in nature. A lifelong bookworm, she takes pride in growing her book knowledge (an asset to any pub quiz team to be sure!). She likes to think that she’s a fun person to be around…at the very least, her cat seems to think so.
It is 8 and a half years since Chris and I had our first date and nearly 5 years since we got married. Both of these major events involved Rackstraws in Sandhurst. So we decided to revisit our happy memories with a meal out and a lingering snog in the car park 😀
Lunch didn’t go well. Obviously the company was incredible (love you, Chris!)
I had booked in advance and noted that I was vegan and gluten free. We were given the gluten free menu and also the allergy folder. I ordered the vegan nachos and vegan loaded fries with a Dead Man’s Cherry Berry (without limes as they are not vegan).
We asked for all of the food to come together, and then sat holding hands and gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes… After 10 minutes, our drinks arrived and then my nachos.
They looked good although I felt the portion looked a little small considering it is meant to serve 2. The cheese looked too good. Without being rude, vegan cheese doesn’t look/taste/melt ‘right’. A tiny taste confrimed my suspicions that this wasn’t vegan. Good job I didn’t have a dairy allergy!
Still no sign of Chris’ food but after 5 minutes I finally managed to hail the waiter to ask for confirmation that I had a vegan dish. He took it away and dumped it on the pass. Another 5 minutes passed before he returned and apologised profusely that he had not put my meal through the till correctly so it hadn’t been vegan. He assured me that my new nachos would be ready in a couple of minutes. My vegan fries arrived 5 minutes later, finally followed by Chris’ meal.
Another 5 minutes passed before a nachos dish was placed in front of me but I saw it had the Sloppy Joes on it which contains gluten so I instantly rejected it as I’d ordered the basic vegan nachos. The dish was swiftly removed.
We started munching. The fries were good: crispy and well seasoned, and I loved the ’74 sauce which was tangy.
Chris wanted to order a refill drink but we were obviously being avoided by the waiting staff. Ten minutes later, I had eaten all of my fries and Chris was almost finished so I walked across the restaurant to request Chris’ drink. When it was finally delivered, we had finished eating so I asked for my nachos to be cancelled and for the bill.
Our check had had the fries deducted as an apology but a couple of quid doesn’t really cover the ruined anniversary meal, nor the fact I went home hungry and had to cook myself a meal. I also have concerns about the allergy and till training available to staff (the waiter had also failed to input the meals for the table behind us). Luckily I am a vegan for personal reasons rather than medical reasons but if I hadn’t read the allergy document I could have eaten the second dish which contained gluten.
My fond memories of Rackstraws mean that we will eat there again in the future but I hope our experience leads to better training and awareness about allergies.
Drugs and female corpses are found in the River Thames by the marine police. Frogman David Cade usually passes the bodies on but his new colleague Naomi Harding wants to pursue the deaths. He is convinced to listen to her when his own daughter goes missing…
Dive is a murder mystery and detective novel set in London.
Naomi Harding has been sidelined from her usual work following a disasterous case. Now she is attempting to rescue her career with a drugs case that may also link to murder. David Cade is a hardened frogman but his personal involvement in the case lead him to work with Naomi. His daughter has gone missing and every time a body is found, he panics that it is Lex.
There is a lot of technical detail and jargon about the marine police which added an authenticity but went over my head a bit. I focussed on the main threads which for me was a dad searching for his teenaged daughter and a woman fighting for her career. The personal side to the case delivers a powerful emotional impact.
The book is written in the third person throughout so we see the police perspectives as well as the criminals. This raises the tension as we fear for Lex’s safety and understand the danger she could be facing. Naomi and David are unsure of who to trust and senior officers are acting suspiciously. This inspires them to work together and break the rules.
Dive is a fast paced and tense detective novel which creates an emotional hold on the reader.
DIVE by Jon Barton
Dive into London’s most dangerous crime scene — the River Thames.
A police diver whose obsession with the job has made his home life implode. A high-flying detective recently thrown out of the CID. A case that could get them both killed.
Police diver David Cade lives by a simple rule: pull out the bodies and move on. Naomi can’t abide that. Her whole career, she’s wanted to fight the good fight. But circumstances have sent Naomi to the Marine Police.
Then they discover a dead girl, bloated and broken on the surface of the Thames. And then another.
Each time David pulls a new body out of the water, he fears it’s his estranged fifteen-year-old daughter Lex. She’s gone missing after they had a fierce argument and hasn’t been in touch since.
The dead girls all have the same nightclub stamp on the backs of their hands — the same one David’s daughter had the day she disappeared.
A briefcase is discovered in the same stretch of water, and suddenly the higher-ups at CID, including Naomi’s rival, Detective Chief Inspector Shannon Baines, start showing an interest.
Clearly something big is happening.
David and Naomi must work together if they’re going to solve the dead girls’ murders and find Lex. Then they uncover something that will threaten to blow the case apart — if it doesn’t get them killed first . . .
MEET THE DETECTIVES David Cade is an experienced frogman, satisfied to lose himself in diving in the river. But his obsession with the job has caused his home life to implode. He wants to be part of his daughter’s life, if only he could figure out how.
Naomi Harding is held accountable after three of her colleagues are killed during a raid she was leading. Her punishment is to be side-lined to the Marine Policing Unit, or ‘frogmen’, whose main aim is to dredge up dead bodies from the Thames and pass them on to the ‘real’ police.
Jon Barton is a London-based screenwriter with ten years’ experience as a dramatist, writing continuing drama for the BBC, and new work for young people. His theatre work has been produced onstage at major London venues, including The Old Vic and The Almeida, with screen work under option at Northern Ireland Screen and Netflix UK. An experienced creative writing tutor and freelance editor, Jon works as a copywriter, edits for The Literary Consultancy, and teaches for City Academy and Iconic Steps. When he’s not writing crime fiction, he’s running, walking, and bingeing podcasts.