Books Reviews with the Curious Ginger Cat

Books reviews, book tours, cover reveals and anything else book-related.

Blog Tour & Book Review: Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen (Translated by David Hackston)

Saturday, 19 October 2019
Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen

A big thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in the tour for Finnish writer, Antti Tuomainen's new book Little Siberia. Thanks also for the advance review copy that was provided in readiness for the tour. After reading the blurb I couldn't wait to get stuck in!

Title: Little Siberia
Author: Antti Tuomainen
Publisher: Orenda Books
Publication date: 17 October 2019


Fargo meets Nietzsche in this atmospheric, darkly funny thriller by the critically acclaimed author of The Man Who Died and Palm Beach Finland. A huge Finnish bestseller, Little Siberia topped both literary and crime charts in 2018, and has gone on to sell rights in 24 countries.

A man with dark thoughts on his mind is racing along the remote snowy roads of Hurmevaara in Finland, when there is flash in the sky and something crashes into the car. That something turns about to be a highly valuable meteorite. With euro signs lighting up the eyes of the locals, the unexpected treasure is temporarily placed in a neighbourhood museum, under the watchful eye of a priest named Joel.

But Joel has a lot more on his mind than simply protecting the riches that have apparently rained down from heaven. His wife has just revealed that she is pregnant. Unfortunately, Joel has strong reason to think the baby isn’t his.

As Joel tries to fend off repeated and bungled attempts to steal the meteorite, he must also come to terms with his own situation, and discover who the father of the baby really is.


The book is basically a mystery story surrounding a meteorite which, after landing in the small Finnish village of Hurmavaara, is being temporarily stored in the local museum whilst awaiting collection by scientific authorities who intend to transport the item to London for testing. The meteorite is worth a significant sum - €1 million. A sum sufficient to make some of the locals wonder what impact that money could have on their lives.

Disillusioned military pastor, Joel Huhta, is the protagonist of the story. Married to Krista and expecting their first child, he should be a man looking forward to the future, however he has reached a bit of a crossroads in his life. He is questioning his position, his faith and even his marriage. His inner turmoil is a significant part of the story. The appearance of the meteorite and the madcap capers of some would-be thieves seems to lend Joel a sense of purpose, if only temporarily. Paranoia sets in as Joel realises that the most likely suspects are the 4 men who are helping Joel to guard the meteorite.

Whilst not being particularly fast-paced, the tale is extremely compelling. Swinging between action and introspection, there is something about the story which draws you in. There is a starkness, arising from a combination of the cold, icy setting and Joel’s emotional isolation, which lends itself to the tale. Given the setting, the book does have some obvious ‘Nordic Noir’ traits, however, as with Tuomainen’s previous books, there is a vein of dark humour running throughout that is not so typical of the genre. The humour adds a lightness to the tale. I’ve seen the book described as ‘Fargo-esque’ and I can understand the comparison in view of the clumsy criminal goings-on (I won’t say any more in case I give too much away, but one scene where Joel follows the thieves to a cabin is quite something!).

Despite the humorous tone, there are some dark themes explored in the book. As in any small remote town, everyone knows each other and there are secrets and tensions simmering below the surface. No one is quite as they seem. Everyone is a suspect. Is there anyone Joel can really trust? 

Little Siberia is a great mix of humorous crime caper/heist combined with a serious look at loss of faith, trust and forgiveness. A unique, funny and poignant tale and, ultimately, a brilliant read!

About the Author

Antti Tuomainen
Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. Two years later, in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died (2017) became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. Palm Beach Finland (2018) was an immense success, with The Times calling Tuomainen ‘the funniest writer in Europe’.

Website/social media links:
Twitter: @antti_tuomainen


You can follow the other stops on the blog tour, or catch up with previous stops, by visiting the blogs listed below:

Little Siberia blog tour


‘ Told in a darkly funny, deadpan style... The result is a rollercoaster read in which the farce – there are some wonderful car chase sequences, as well as deadly slapstick involving samurai swords, saunas, lost clothes and corpse disposal – has some serious and surprisingly philosophical underpinnings... at times, extraordinarily poignant’ The Guardian

‘Right up there with the best’ TLS ‘Deftly plotted, poignant and perceptive in its wry reflections on mortality and very funny’ Irish Times

‘As delicious as it is toxic’ Sunday Express

‘A winner right from the first sentence … an offbeat jewel’ Publishers Weekly

‘A tightly paced Scandinavian thriller with a wicked sense of humour’ Foreword Reviews

Book Review: Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller [Audiobook]

Monday, 7 October 2019
Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

Title: Swimming Lessons
Author: Claire Fuller
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 1 February 2018


'Gil Coleman looked down from the window and saw his dead wife standing on the pavement below.'

Gil's wife, Ingrid has been missing, presumed drowned, for twelve years.

A possible sighting brings their children, Nan and Flora, home. Together they begin to confront the mystery of their mother. Is Ingrid dead? Or did she leave? And do the letters hidden within Gil's books hold the answer to the truth behind his marriage, a truth hidden from everyone including his own children?


One of my favourite things about starting a new book is reading the first line – how will the story start? How will the author set the scene? Is that first line going to immediately draw me in? A great first line is so important! So, how does Swimming Lessons stand up to my exacting criteria - Gil Coleman looked down from the first-floor window of the bookshop and saw his dead wife standing on the pavement below.” We have characters, we have a setting and we have intrigue – I definitely wanted to hear more.

Swimming Lessons is about a family unsettled by grief. It has been 12 years since Ingrid Coleman went missing from the family’s beachfront home in Spanish Green, Dorset. A body was never found, yet she is presumed drowned. In the present day, her author husband, Gil, believes he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window and runs after her, resulting in an accident which brings his daughters, Nanette (‘Nan’) and Flora back to their childhood home.

The story is told from two narratives and two timelines – Flora (the younger daughter) provides a current-day narrative as she returns to her family home, causing her to re-visit her mother’s disappearance; and Ingrid (the missing wife and mother) provides a glimpse into the past through a series of letters that she wrote to Gil and hid inside his extensive book collection. Whilst Flora’s chapters provide an interesting insight into the impact of Ingrid’s disappearance on the family, it is Ingrid’s letters which really push the story along. They gradually build a picture of how she and Gil first met and fell in love, before chronicling the progression and, finally, the dissolution of their marriage.  It is a story commencing with a forbidden love and ending in betrayal.

It is poignant that whilst Ingrid’s disappearance remains a mystery, her daughters are unwittingly living amongst the piles of books that contain some of the answers they so desperately seek. Ingrid's letters remain hidden within those dusty tomes. The reader is not told whether Gil has read all of those letters, however given the state of the house when the girls first arrive, it appears that he had found at least one of the letters and had been searching through the books hoping to discover the rest.

Ingrid comes to life through her letters. We know that she had other ambitions as a young woman and we come to understand that motherhood did not come easily to her. The book cleverly provides a rather unusual view on family life and motherhood which gives real insight into Ingrid's character. There is real depth to the character and, despite her absence, Ingrid comes across as the leading protagonist in this tale. In contrast, the supporting characters remain a bit of a mystery. We do not learn much about Nan at all and all we know about Gil is through Ingrid's eyes, which tell of a selfish, arrogant and unfaithful man. As a reader, we know of his love of books, his writing frustrations and his fascination with 'marginalia', however we don't know whether he really loved Ingrid, whether he feels guilt over her disappearance or whether he has missed her for the past 12 years. Even Flora, the other main protagonist, is somewhat lacking in depth and I must admit that she was a bit too whiny for my taste. This is really Ingrid's story.

As an avid reader of books, I did love one particular quote in which Gil says "Forget that first edition, signed by the author nonsense. Fiction is about readers."  I don't fully agree, as I do have a few much-loved signed first editions. However I do like the nod to the reader. It takes a huge amount of determination, skill and creativity to write a book, and it takes readers to make that book successful.

Swimming Lessons is a tense and uncomfortable tale, a character driven novel which combines an underlying mystery with the grief and tragedy befalling a broken family. It raises the question of whether it is better to know the ugly unpalatable truth of a matter or whether it is better to live without knowing and to be able to retain hope? Fuller has an eye for observation and detail which elevates the story and pulls the reader into the tale. Swimming Lessons is eloquent, slow-flowing, poignant and absorbing.

I listened to the audio version of the book via Audible, brilliantly narrated by Rachel Atkins. At 9 hours 23 minutes long, it was the perfect length to listen to over the course of a week, during my daily commute to and from work.

About the Author

Claire Fuller
Image courtesy of Goodreads
Claire Fuller trained as a sculptor before working in marketing for many years. In 2013 she completed an MA in Creative Writing, and wrote her first novel, Our Endless Numbered Days. It was published in the UK by Penguin, in the US by Tin House, in Canada by House of Anansi and bought for translation in 15 other countries. Our Endless Numbered Days won the 2015 Desmond Elliott prize.

Claire's second novel, Swimming Lessons was published in 2017. IT was shortlisted for the Encore Prize, selected as a Book of the Month book in the US.

Claire's critically acclaimed third novel, Bitter Orange, was published in 2018. .

Social Media Links
Twitter: @clairefuller2
Instagram: @writerclairefuller
Facebook: @clairefullerwriter


Book Review: The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris [AUDIOBOOK]

Saturday, 7 September 2019

The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris

Title: The Strawberry Thief
Author: Joanne Harris
Publisher: Orion
Publiction Date: 4 April 2019


Return to the world of the multi-million-copy bestselling Chocolat....

Vianne Rocher has settled down. Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, the place that once rejected her, has finally become her home. With Rosette, her 'special' child, she runs her chocolate shop in the square, talks to her friends on the river, is part of the community. Even Reynaud, the priest, has become a friend.

But when old Narcisse, the florist, dies, leaving a parcel of land to Rosette and a written confession to Reynaud, the life of the sleepy village is once more thrown into disarray.
The arrival of Narcisse's relatives, the departure of an old friend and the opening of a mysterious new shop in the place of the florist's across the square - one that mirrors the chocolaterie, and has a strange appeal of its own - all seem to herald some kind of change: a confrontation, a turbulence - even, perhaps, a murder...


The Strawberry Thief is Harris’ fourth novel in the series set in the small fictional village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, in south-west France. It is published some 20 years after the bestselling Chocolat (the first in the series) which was later adapted into an Oscar-nominated film starring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche. I read and loved Chocolat when it was first released back in 1998, however I will admit that I have not yet read the other two books in the series (an omission which I intend to correct as soon as possible!).

The story follows the life of Vianne Rocher and her 16 year old daughter, Rosette.  Both charming characters, they have long since settled in Lansquenet, becoming a part of the sleepy community. There is a very clear sense of place throughout the book. Vianne runs her chocolate shop, weaving her delicious form of magic over the local residents, whilst Rosette, her special ‘winter child’, runs free to laugh and draw. Having lost her elder daughter, Anouk, to the bright lights of Paris, all Vianne wants is to keep her younger daughter safe and by her side.

However, their sedate village life is shaken by the sudden death of florist, Narcisse. A quiet man with little time for other people, Narcisse had a soft spot for Rosette and after his death it is discovered that he has left a plot of woodland, his ‘strawberry wood’, to Rosette, a bequest guaranteed to raise the ire of his pushy daughter Michèle who thinks there may be something of value hidden in those woods. Narcisse also leaves a handwritten letter (an atheist’s version of a last confession) for the priest, Reynaud. It is a letter which tells the poignant and tragic tale of Narcisse’s childhood and which will have ramifications for several other characters.

There is further tension in the village with the arrival of tattooist Morganne Dubois, who has taken on the lease to Narcisse’s shop. A mysterious creature, she quickly weaves her own form of magic (or maybe enchantment?) over the village, dividing loyalties as villager after villager visits her shop, leaving with one of her unique designs forever inked on their bodies. Vianne knows that she should be welcoming to this stranger, yet she cannot shake off her lingering doubts as to the tattooist’s motives. Or, are her feelings merely a reflection of her own fear of people moving on without her?

The tale is told from three viewpoints, Vianne, Rosette and Reynaud. Narcisse’s death proves to be the catalyst that triggers some deep moments of self-reflection from those characters: Reynaud’s guilt from his own childhood confession, Vianne’s fear of change and loss, and Rosette’s awareness of the differences between her and her friends. This is an intricately woven story, and the use of those three narrators allows the various plot threads to be gently and gradually entwined to produce a complex and multi-faceted tale.

Set during the weeks of Lent, this is a story of conflict: indulgence and denial; church and atheist; guilt and absolution; summer and winter; friend and foe; a settled life and a life on the wind.

I particularly enjoyed the development of Rosette’s character. The story begins with a naive, wild and unusual girl, one who has never found her voice, to a wise, complex and confident young woman who knows her own mind and wants to find her own feet. As Vianne tells us on more than one occasions, “All children are stolen… We keep them close, as long as we can. But one day, the world will steal them back.” Very wise words.

The story is written with a wonderfully descriptive flair. From the scent of the chocolate beans cooking, to the taste of Vianne’s hot chocolate, and the sound of the whispering wind, the reader will find their senses almost overwhelmed by the sounds, smells and tastes oozing out of the pages. In the 20 years since Chocolat, I had forgotten just how beautiful and evocative Harris’ writing can be. Her biography refers to her having synaesthesia and I wonder if experiencing senses in such a unique fashion maybe influences her ability to create such a sensory experience.

The Strawberry Thief is a beautifully written, poignant and timeless story, full of magic, mysticism and mystery. It is a tale of family, guilt, redemption and transformation, with some darker themes of xenophobia and greed. The Strawberry Thief is a rich and captivating tale, and one which will stay with me for a long time. I would highly recommend it.

Despite being the fourth book in a series, this is a story that has the strength to stand on its own. Although I do now plan to go back and read the second and third books.

I listened to The Strawberry Thief on Audiobook during my commute to and from work. I believe the narration was undertaken by the author herself, which in my opinion adds to the experience as the tale will be told exactly how the author intended. I must admit to finding it a bit difficult to identify the switch in narrators at first, however I soon discovered that I could identify those switches from subtle variations in the writing/speech patterns as I got to know the characters better.  I thought the book worked very well in audio format and I thoroughly enjoyed the listening experience.

About the Author

Joanne Harris
Photograph from

Joanne Harris is an Anglo-French author, whose books include eighteen novels, three cookbooks and many short stories. Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy. She has also written a DR WHO novella for the BBC, has scripted guest episodes for the game ZOMBIES, RUN!, and is currently engaged in a number of musical theatre projects.

In 2000, her 1999 novel CHOCOLAT was adapted to the screen, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. She is an honorary Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge, and in 2013 was awarded an MBE by the Queen.

Her hobbies are listed in Who's Who as 'mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion'. She is active on Twitter, where she writes stories and gives writing tips as @joannechocolat; she performs in a live music and storytelling show with the #Storytime Band; and works from a shed in her garden at her home in Yorkshire.

She also has a form of synaesthesia which enables her to smell colours. Red, she says, smells of chocolate.

Contact Links
Twitter: @joannechocolat
Instagram: @joannechocolat

If you visit the author's website, you can sign up to her monthly newsletter.


Happy Publication Day! - Scorpions in Corinth by JM Alvey

Thursday, 5 September 2019
Scorpions in Corinth by JM Alvey

It's been a busy couple of months and I know that I've not posted on the blog for quite a while, however I couldn't let today pass without a quick post to celebrate the publication day of JM Alvey's latest book, Scorpions in Corinth (published by  Orion).

Praise for JM Alvey:

‘An enjoyable debut with a strong sense of its historical setting.’ Antonia Senior, The Times

‘As vivid and lively as a Greek wedding - but with rather more blood!’ Val McDermid

‘I loved it; great sense of place, terrific characters and a cracking plot’ Joanne Harris

‘Historical sleuthing finally gets its grown-up trousers… Finally, someone has taken on Saylor and Davis and brought us out of Rome at last!’ Robert Low

Curious...?  Here's the blurb for you.

The Persian War is over and wealthy Athenians are looking to expand alliances overseas.

Popular playwright Philocles and his actors are hired to take his latest play to Corinth, to promote goodwill between the two cities. But on arrival, their guide and fixer Eumelos drops dead - a victim of poison.

Philocles is convinced someone is out to sabotage the play, and to find our who - and why - he must first uncover the murderer.

But in Corinth the ruling oligarchs seem more interested in commerce than justice. And with the city's religious brotherhoods pursuing their own vicious rivalries, asking the wrong questions could get an outsider like Philocles killed...

I've not read the book yet, however I did read Alvey's previous book, Shadow of Athens and found it fascinating.  Murder, sabotage and mystery - what more could you want in a tale?!

The book is available now in paperback or on the Kindle. An audio version is also available, just follow the links below:

For the paperback version, click here.

If you would prefer the Kindle version, click here.

If, like me, you love an audiobook, click here.

JM Alvey - Scorpions in Corinth

About the Author

J M Alvey studied Classics at Oxford in the 1980s. As an undergraduate, notable achievements in startling tutors included citing the comedic principles of Benny Hill in a paper on Aristophanes and using military war-gaming rules to analyse and explain apparent contradictions in historic accounts of the Battle of Thermopylae. Crime fiction was always relaxation reading and that love of mysteries and thrillers continued through a subsequent, varied career, alongside and abiding fascination with history and the ancient world. these interest have all now come together in the first adventure of Philocles Hestaiou, comic playwright and pen for hire in classical Athens.

Twitter: @alveyauthor
Facebook: @JM Alvey

Blog Tour: The Misfit Tribe and the Secret of Mystery Island by B. J. Rowling and D. G. Lloyd

Tuesday, 30 July 2019
The Misfit Tribe and the Secret of Mystery Island

Today is my stop on the blog tour for the YA novel The Misfit Tribe and the Secret of Mystery Island by B.J. Rowling and D.G. Lloyd. Thanks to Sarah Hardy at Books On The Bright Side, to Olympia Publishers and to the authors for providing me with a copy of the book for review.

Title: The Misfit Tribe and the Secret of Mystery Island
Author(s): B. J. Rowling and D. G. Lloyd
Publication date: 25 October 2018
Publisher: Olympia Publishers


Some secrets are best kept hidden... and some are just too magical not to share. Teenagers, who unexpectedly acquire a vast collection of magical, mystical powers and abilities, find an ancient map. This map leads them on a quest for buried treasure to a mysterious island filled with hidden secrets, booby traps and a ruthless villain who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. What could possibly go wrong? A lot!


YA books are not my normal genre and I must admit that when the email arrived offering me the chance to read and review The Misfit Tribe and the Secret of Mystery Island, I did have to think twice. However, on scanning the blurb my attention was piqued. As a child, I was a huge fan of Enid Blyton's The Famous Five and this book sounded familiar. 

I've learnt that when reading YA books, you have to put your sense of disbelief to one side. Some artistic licence will be applied to push the story forwards and it is best to accept those elements for what they are and simply enjoy the adventure.

The book follows a group of teenagers who are attending a geocaching weekend to Makinac Island in Michigan with their respective families in the hope of winning a prize. Whilst the weekend begins with a bit of rivalry between the opposing families, the revelation of some family secrets and the discovery of an ancient treasure map forces the teens to join forces in the hope of finding some real-life treasure! Throw in a couple of bad guys, a wannabe rapper, a maze of hidden tunnels and a hint of mystical forces... what more can you ask for?

The Misfit Tribe and the Secret of Mystery Island certainly brings a sense of adventure to the table. It is a classic combination of mystery and adventure with a dash of humour and a smidgen of romance. I note that other reviews liken the book to the classic 80's film, The Goonies, and there certainly are some similarities as the kids venture into underground tunnels in seek of treasure! 

One of the best things about reading is the opportunity to learn something new. As such, one of my favourite things about this book was the historical element at the heart of the story. It gave context to the treasure hunt, whilst providing a bite-sized history lesson for the reader. 

With regards to the cast, the characters are written in an almost caricature-like way - J.J. is a typical boy, Genius is the computer geek and Aaron is the teenage lothario; there was no question that Bruno and Roberts were the bad guys, and hunter (aka Original-One) was at times quite humorous despite (or maybe because of?) his annoying wannabe-rapper pretensions. 

I have to be honest and say there was one aspect of the book which did not sit easily with me and that was the occasional reference to Sandra's boobs. I found it all a bit unnecessary. In particular, there was an early scene between J.J. and Sandra where Sandra trades a glimpse down her shirt to the teenage J.J. in order to manipulate him into providing information. I felt that this issue was a bit too adult for the book and I also felt that it was not resolved in a satisfactory way. I would have preferred that this scene included a moral outcome to show the young readers why this sort of trade off is not a good idea.

Back to the positives, The Misfit Tribe and the Secret of Mystery Island is ultimately a action-packed adventure along the lines of The Famous Five, The Goonies and possibly even a little hint of Indiana Jones or Lara Croft. It's fun, it's thrilling and it's certainly entertaining!

Written by a duo of scriptwriters, you won't be surprised to hear that the movie version will apparently be coming to the Big Screen soon....

About the Author(s)

B.J. Rowling and D.G. Lloyd
B. J. Rowling, a native of England, is an author, screenwriter, producer, actress and cousin of Harry Potter author, J. K. Rowling.

D.G. Lloyd is an American-Australian author, screenwriter, producer, actor and script coverage analyst.

Social Media Links:
Facebook: /BJRowling

Check out the rest of the blog tour at the blogs listed below:

Blog tour for The Misfit Tribe and the Secret of Mystery Island


Book Review: Living My Best Li(f)e by Claire Frost #bookclub

Tuesday, 23 July 2019
Living my best li(f)e by Claire Frost

Title: Living my best li(f)e
Author: Claire Frost
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Date: 23 July 2019

Contact Links
Twitter: @FabFrosty 


This heart-warming and funny novel is the perfect balm for the insta-weary mind – get ready to shatter the illusion that is #LivingMyBestLife 

Bell never thought she’d be facing her 40th birthday single. Recently dumped by her boyfriend of ten years, Bell is struggling to move on with her life – and surrender the fleecy pyjamas she’s been living in since January. Sick of being bombarded by #blessed on social media and feeling like her life doesn’t live up to everyone else’s, she decides it’s time for a change; time to find out who she really is,not who she thinks she should be.

Enter Millie, a successful online influencer posting under the handle @mi_bestlife. But as a single mum trying to make ends meet and stay ahead of the younger generation snapping at her heels, her Instagram feed is far more #BestLie than #BestLife. With the internet trolls continuing to bring her down and an ex who cares more about playing football than seeing their son, Millie begins to wish her life was more like her filters.

It isn’t until Millie and Bell’s paths cross that the two women begin to realise what they’re missing. Will Bell finally learn to live life for herself? And will Millie see that she needs to start living for the moment and not for the likes?


After a few weeks of non-stop crime thrillers, Living my best li(f)e was a breath of fresh air and a much-needed dose of light-hearted humour!

How many of us have opened up Facebook/Instagram, usually out of either boredom or habit, and been left with a feeling of inadequacy or envy after seeing posts about an amazing experience, a fabulous holiday or the most perfect of relationships?  How many times do we find ourselves sitting on the sofa holding our mobile phones and counting the ‘likes’ and comments to our new photo/post rather than being out having new experiences or making new memories?  How many times have we missed seeing something happen right in front of us because we’re too busy trying to record/photograph the moment to share on social media?  It is possible (or maybe probable?) that we’ve all got a bit too used to viewing life through social media, rather than experiencing it for ourselves. This makes Living my best li(f)e very relevant today. It explores society’s obsession with social media and demonstrates how it can be used to distort reality - what we see is not necessarily what is real and true. It is very relatable and very real.

The writing style is uncomplicated and easy-to-read, with the chapters being split between the two main characters, Bell and Millie. This allows us to experience the tale from two different angles – from the person advertising the perfect life and from the person who is looking in on that perfection. There is an easy flow to the book that kept my attention and helped the story move along at a good pace.

I enjoyed getting to know each of the main characters. They are both likeable and genuine, and within a similar age range to myself, which always makes me identify more with a character. Both women are strong, single and in need of something more in their lives. The supporting cast are an eclectic and interesting mix, although I felt that I didn’t really get to know them that well. Millie’s interactions with her ex, Louis, were sadly quite believable. Here is a man who does love his son and who is happy to contribute to his upbringing, and yet he fails to realise that the responsibility is a regular and continuous one. Turning up once a month to see his son, cancelling plans to fit in with his work/social events, and ‘flashing the cash’ for treats but failing to pay regular boring maintenance – these are simply not the hallmarks of a responsible parent. And yet, he doesn’t do this out of spite nor a deliberate intention to avoid his responsibilities. He’s not a horrible person. He simply doesn’t realise how much his actions impact everyone involved.

The story is centred around a local community centre. This is where the different characters meet and where friendships are born, as the community comes together to try to save the centre.  It is a somewhat predictable plotline, however the strength of the story lies in the characters and their interactions. The entire book has a wonderfully warm feeling to it – it is absolutely a feel-good tale!

This is a fun and heart-warming tale about community, friendship and the importance of 'keeping it real' (a great moral to the tale) rather than filtering and staging our lives to maximise the ‘likes’. 

A great debut novel from Claire Frost and a big thanks to Simon & Schuster UK for providing me with a proof copy of the book for review.

About the Author

Claire Frost
Claire Frost grew up in Manchester, the middle of three sisters. She always wanted to do a job that involved writing, so after studying Classics at Bristol University she started working in magazines. For the last 10 years she's been at The Sun on Sunday's Fabulous magazine, where she is Assistant Editor and also responsible for the title's book reviews. She can mostly be found at her desk buried under a teetering TBR pile.

Quote by the Curious Ginger Cat

Buy Links

Amazon UK  |  Amazon US  |  Goodreads  |  GooglePlay  |  Kobo 

Blog Blitz: The White Scorpion (James Ryker Book 5) by Rob Sinclair

Tuesday, 16 July 2019
The White Scorpion by Rob Sinclair

Title: The White Scorpion (James Ryker Book 5)
Author: Rob Sinclair
Publisher: Bloodhound Books
Publication date: 16 July 2019

Contact Links
Twitter: @RSinclairAuthor
Facebook: RobSinclairAuthor


Rule number one for an agent of the secretive JIA is to follow orders, no matter what.

But James Ryker has never cared much for rules. He only wants to do what is right.

Assigned to join of crew of elite security personnel in Chabon, Africa, Ryker’s mission objective is clouded by politics and obfuscation, and he knows only that to protect British interests in the region, he is to infiltrate the close protection team of the government of Chabon, a country with a dark and violent past.

Arriving in Chabon’s crumbling capital, Kilpassa, Ryker finds a country on the brink of civil war. A growing civilian rebellion threatens peace, with claims of atrocities committed by both sides, including the frail government run by enigmatic President Benyu - a former military general who took control of the country in a violent coup.

Drawn into Benyu’s inner circle, it soon becomes clear to Ryker that in Chabon, the lines between good and bad, and right and wrong, are nearly impossible to identify.

With a crisis of epic proportions unfolding before his eyes, Ryker knows one thing for sure: with or without the backing of his superiors, he must take drastic action, and quickly, or risk putting millions of innocent lives in danger.


The story is set against a background of political unrest in the fictional African country of Chabon. Ryker and his team of ex-special ops soldiers are in the country to help further British interests. Their mission is to protect the current Chabonese leader, Benyu, from threats made by local rebel leader, Chima Muampa, and therefore maintain stability within the country. Unfortunately, the power play between an allegedly corrupt government and the rebel militia ensure that things don’t go quite to plan for Ryker and his team.

As Ryker digs deeper into the matter, he quickly realises that he is only being told half-truths by his bosses. How can he do his job effectively when he doesn’t know who he can trust…?

As always, Ryker is a great character. Intelligent, tough and intuitive. If ever I was in trouble, there’s no one I would want on my side more than Ryker!  Peter Winter is a returning character who adds a bit of shadiness and intrigue to the story. Whilst he is one of the good guys, he’s always slightly evasive and a little bit too slippery to fully trust. The book also adds new character, Sam Moreno, a tough cookie with a sense of humour. I enjoyed the dynamics between Ryker and Moreno and felt that added a personal dimension to the tale.

The story itself is well-plotted and well-written. All loose ends were nicely tied up by the end, except for those which could potentially appear once book 6 is published (I’m assuming there is a book 6 on the horizon – there better be!!).

Tense, fast-paced and action-packed, The White Scorpion is yet another great addition to the James Ryker series. If you like a good action thriller, this is definitely a book not to be missed! And if you’ve not yet read anything by Rob Sinclair, I recommend that you do so. His books are all suspenseful, twisty and
thoroughly entertaining!

The book can be read as a standalone, however I would recommend starting from the beginning in order to get the most out of the series. It’s worth doing because after reading The White Scorpion I’m pretty sure you’ll want to go back and read the rest of the series, if you haven’t already done so!

Thanks to Heather from Bloodhound Books and to author Rob Sinclair for inviting me to be a part of today’s Blog Blitz.

About the Author

Rob Sinclair

Rob is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling Enemy, James Ryker and Sleeper series of thrillers. His books have sold over 900,000 copies to date with many reviewers and readers having likened Rob's work to authors at the very top of the genre, including Lee Child and Vince Flynn. 

Rob began writing in 2009 following a promise to his wife, an avid reader, that he could pen a ‘can’t put down’ thriller. He worked for nearly 13 years for a global accounting firm after graduating from The University of Nottingham in 2002, specialising in forensic fraud investigations at both national and international levels. Rob now writes full time.

Originally from the North East of England, Rob has lived and worked in a number of fast paced cities, including New York, and is now settled in the West Midlands with his wife and young sons.


Why not check out the other stops on today's blog blitz, details are listed below....

The White Scorpion by Rob Sinclair