Author: Jessica Redland
Published: September 2019 by Boldwood Books
Category: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Book Review
Danniella is running from her past, so when she arrives at the beautiful seaside resort of Whitsborough Bay, the last thing on her mind is making friends.
Alison is fun, caring and doesn’t take herself too seriously. But beneath the front, she is a lost soul, stuck in a terrible relationship, with body confidence issues and no family to support her.
Karen’s romance has taken a back seat to her fitness business. But she doesn’t want to give up on love quite yet. If only those mysterious texts would stop coming through…
The Secret To Happiness centres on three very different women with completely different lives—Alison, Karen and Daniella. They are strangers…until their paths cross, and what develops is an incredible bond of friendship and support.
Alison, Daniella and Karen are all dealing with personal problems. Alison’s life changed dramatically when she was twelve and it’s impacted on her ever since. She has issues with self image and a lack of confidence, not helped by her boyfriend Dave’s grumpiness, total lack of empathy and compassion. She hides her pain, makes light of things to her workmates and people she knows and comfort eats, allowing herself to be treated badly by Dave because she has no-one else to turn to. Until she meets Daniella and Karen and admits to herself how she really feels.
She could fill in the rest of the sentence for him. No wonder you’re so fat. No wonder you keep ordering bigger uniforms. No wonder the stairs leave you breathless. No wonder we never have sex. She surveyed the plateful of pastries, the full-fat butter, the luxury jam, her third giant mug of milky, sugary tea. All for one person. Yes. No wonder.
Daniella is running from a fairly recent trauma, moving from place to place, B&B to B&B, unable to let anyone get close in case there were questions asked she couldn’t face. Certainly not now, and possibly never. Then, finding herself in Whitsborough Bay, she decides to rent for more privacy, hoping she might have found her haven. The last thing she thought she wanted or needed was a friend.
Karen has been engaged to Ryan for five years but developing their PT and fitness business seems to be dividing them, rather than cementing their relationship. Then the anonymous texts start landing in Karen’s messages.
I really enjoyed The Secret To Happiness, the way the three women were drawn to each other and strong friendships were formed. The characters are wonderfully developed as each of their stories unfold. They learn to overcome the sadnesses in their pasts and move on, supporting each other even when they can’t see past their own bleak futures.
The story has darker undertones, challenges and emotional upheavals, which are thoughtfully handled. To counteract those issues are the lighter, humorous moments during the interactions of the three women, which were a joy to read. A mystery thread added another layer and kept me guessing.
Alison, Daniella and Karen are all relatable and realistic, with flaws most people would recognise. The narrative encompasses themes and emotions relating to grief, emotional bullying, food related disorders and betrayal among others, eliciting empathy for the characters. Jessica Redland has created a well written, easy to read, poignant yet wonderfully uplifting story.
Although The Secret To Happiness is part of a series, I had no trouble reading it as a stand alone.
About the Author
Jessica Redland lives on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast in England – the inspiration for the settings in her books – with her husband, daughter, cat, Sprocker Spaniel puppy, and an ever-growing collection of collectible teddy bears. Although if the puppy has her way, the collection will be reduced to a pile of stuffing and chewed limbs!
She’s an HR Tutor on a freelance basis and tries, often successfully, to fit writing around that.
Author: LJ Ross
Category: Crime Fiction, Murder, Police Procedural, Book Review
When the gods made man, they made a weapon…
After uncovering a fresh wave of corruption within the ranks of Northumbria CID, Detective Chief Inspector Ryan was looking forward to an uneventful summer. But, when a young woman is shot dead on the remote army ranges of the Northumberland National Park, Ryan is called in to investigate.
The prologue introduces a soldier who has been stationed in Helmand Province and returns home traumatised, unable to hold down a job and is left to fend for himself on the streets. He’s a damaged soul who you can’t help but feel sympathy for, but one who holds onto his moral values, despite the dangers and obstacles he faces.
Author: Rob Sinclair
Published: January 2020 by Canelo Hera
Category: Murder, Crime Fiction, Thriller, Psychological, Book Review
Henry and Caroline Redfearne’s annual ball is the hottest social event of the year.
But the fun is cut short by the discovery of their son’s body, apparently the victim of a frenzied assault. He was last seen heading off with 17-year-old Sophie Blackwood, and a blood trail seems to show that Sophie has been kidnapped.
Dani Stephens is still coping with a traumatic brain injury—the consequence of her serial killer brother’s attack. Her personality changed in the aftermath, leaving her prone to mood swings and impatience but she is slowly improving and her concentration is better. That is until her brother intrudes in her present case.
Author: Jo Spain
Published: January 2018 by Quercus
Category: Murder, Mystery, Psychological, Book Review
Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear.
Told from the perspectives of Julie, JP Carney and the investigating officer, DS Alice Moody, The Confession takes a totally different slant on a psychological thriller. From the dramatic and compelling prologue, set in the present, we know the identity of the murderer immediately. The mystery is why. What prompted the attack? What was the perpetrator’s’s motive?
Author: Jennifer S. Alderson
Published: November 2019 by Travelling Life Press
Category: Cosy Murder/Mystery, Travel, Book Review
Recent divorcee Lana Hansen needs a break. Her luck has run sour for going on a decade, ever since she got fired from her favorite job as an investigative reporter. When her fresh start in Seattle doesn’t work out as planned, Lana ends up unemployed and penniless on Christmas Eve.
After losing the job she loved, not to mention her husband leaving her for his new assistant, Lana Hansen’s fresh start in Seattle isn’t working out as planned. Thank goodness for eccentric Dotty Thompson, her landlady and good friend.
Author: Nora Roberts
Performed by Julia Whelan
Published: November 2019 by Brilliance Audio
Category: Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic, Fantasy, Audiobook Review
Fallon Swift has spent all her life preparing for this moment. No longer can she stand by whilst her fellow Magicks are hunted by the fanatical Purity Warriors or rounded up and experimented on by the government.
Fallon must follow her destiny to restore the magical shield that once protected them all. The final battle has begun…
Twenty years ago when a deadly pandemic was unleashed upon the world, destroying civilisation, a child was conceived. She, who would come to be known as The One, was destined to fulfil a prophecy and lead the light against the dark.
On the shield, one of seven forged in the timeless past to hold back the dark, fell a single drop of blood.
So the shield weakened, and the dark, spider-patient, waited as the decades passed, and the wound spread under grass and ground.
And on the last day of what had been, a good man, in all innocence, broke the shield open. The dark rewarded him with a deadly infection, one that would pass from man to wife, from parent to child, from stranger to stranger.
Author: LJ Ross
Category; Contemporary, Fiction, Mystery, Murder, Book Review
Christmas can be murder…
After a busy year fighting crime, DCI Ryan and his team of murder detectives are enjoying a festive season of goodwill, mulled wine and, in the case of DS Phillips, a cake or two—that is, until a freak snowstorm forces their car off the main road and into the remote heart of Northumberland.
On the way home from a trip to Edinburgh, where they spent some time perusing the Christmas markets, Ryan, Phillips and their better halves Anna and Denise, are caught out by a heavy snowfall, causing an accident which shut the main road for miles. Forced to take side roads they make slow progress, until eventually they reach the small village of Chillingham, where they had to abandon the car.
Author: Dean Koontz
Performed by Edoardo Ballerini
Released: November 2019 on Audible
Category: Collection of Novellas, Thriller, Suspense, Audiobook, Book Review
If our memories make us who we are, who is a man without any? Nameless has only a gun, missions from a shadowy agency, and one dead aim: dispense justice when the law fails. As he moves from town to town, driven by splintered visions of the past and future, he’s headed toward the ultimate confrontation…
Nameless comprises six novella length stories (they can be bought separately) with hints of the supernatural and horror, about a man with no past.
Author: JD Robb
Originally Published: July 1995
Category: Mystery, Murder, Romance, Police Procedural, Book Review
It is the year 2058, and technology now completely rules the world. But New York City Detective Eve Dallas knows that the irresistible impulses of the human heart are still ruled by just one thing: passion.
I listened to Naked In Death back in 2009 and was hooked. I have since listened to every book up to date, some I’ve enjoyed more than others but most of them have pushed each character’s story forward. It was fun to revisit the start of the series—where it all began. The character development over the numerous books has been huge, and the number of key characters has increased significantly.