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Gin Palace By Tracey Whitwell

Gin Palace‘Gin Palace’ is the latest book by Tracy Whitwell.

Tanz can talk to ghosts, although she’d prefer it if she couldn’t. Struggling to make ends meet as an actress and wholly unsuited to supply teaching, Tanz is only one bad day away from a meltdown. And the babbling ghosts aren’t helping. So when Tanz is offered a paid acting gig in her hometown, things start to look up. But Newcastle’s dead won’t stay quiet for long, and soon Tanz becomes haunted with visions of a mysterious Gin Palace guarded by a sinister figure. As Tanz starts to piece together a terrible tragedy, it becomes clear there’s no limit to what the poltergeist will do to keep his secrets his own. Unfortunately, he’s never met anyone quite like Tanz before.

This is the first book that I’ve read by Tracy and I have to say that it was a genuinely lovely story.

The story is seen through the narrative of Tania, a medium who’s wanting to make it as an actress lands a bit part in a Newcastle soap series as a far from classy character. But when she’s not dressed up a brassy woman, she’s finding herself exposed to tormented children, bad spirits and meeting new like-minded people who help her hone and develop her medium skills.

This was a great story to sink into, it’s part of a series and Tracy references previous books, but it has given me a curiosity to look into the series. Tania is a great character, she’s warm, relatable and terribly kind. She’s trying to use her new gifts for good but with it brings in some badness which does make for sad and unsettling reading. There’s a lovely mix of characters in the story, from Tania’s best friend Milo and his boisterous personality to Gladys, her new friend with a love for food who’s helping Tania keep the spirts at bay.

Engaging with an interesting insight into the paranormal world, ‘Gin Palace’ is a wittily written and energetic story that made for fun reading.

You can buy ‘Gin Palace’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

All The Little Bird Hearts By Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow

All The Little Bird Hearts‘All The Little Bird Hearts’ is the latest book by Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow.

Sunday Forrester lives with her sixteen-year-old daughter, Dolly, in the house she grew up in. She does things more carefully than most people. On quiet days, she must eat only white foods. Her etiquette handbook guides her through confusing social situations, and to escape, she turns to her treasury of Sicilian folklore. The one thing very much out of her control is Dolly – her clever, headstrong daughter, now on the cusp of leaving home. Into this carefully ordered world step Vita and Rollo, a couple who move in next door, disarm Sunday with their charm, and proceed to deliciously break just about every rule in Sunday’s book. Soon they are in and out of each others’ homes, and Sunday feels loved and accepted like never before. But beneath Vita and Rollo’s polish lies something else, something darker. For Sunday has precisely what Vita has always wanted for herself: a daughter of her own.

Beautifully descriptive, this book is a story of female relationships and dynamics. Sunday lives in her own little quiet world where she has order and routine. She’s lives alone with her teenage daughter Dolly. They live their lives quietly until social butterfly- Vita moves in to the house next door and brings with her glamour, outspoken personality and her wild tales of London life. Sunday and her become friends and Sunday and her daughter are in awe of the flamboyant character, but after a while Vita takes Dolly under her wing and Sunday feels even more excluded in life. With having a hearing deficiency, she’s often felt on the outside and looking in and even though she always sees the good in people, wonders if Vita and her husband are quite the good people that she’s been lead to believe.

I loved this story, the characters are a fascinating mix of personalities that all the complete opposite of each other. Where Sunday is an introvert, Vita is an extrovert always looking to be the centre of attention. As the story progresses we see Vita as a friendly woman but the story takes a darker turn that makes for compelling reading.

Wonderfully crafted and tenderly written, ‘All The Little Birds Hearts’ is a poignant and innocent story about new friendships and betrayal.

You can buy ‘All The Little Bird Hearts’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Clara and Olivia By Lucy Ashe

Clara and Olivia By‘Clara and Olivia’ is the debut book by Lucy Ashe.

What the back cover says-

Disciplined and dedicated, Olivia is the perfect ballerina. But no matter how hard she works, she can never match identical twin Clara’s charm.

I would kill to be with her.

As rehearsals intensify for the ballet Coppélia, the girls feel increasingly like they are being watched. And, as infatuation turns to obsession, everything begins to unravel.

You can buy ‘Clara and Olivia’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Vicious Circle By Katherine St John

The Vicious Circle‘The Vicious Circle’ is the latest book by Katherine St. John.

On a river deep in the Mexican jungle stands the colossal villa Xanadu, a wellness center that’s home to an ardent spiritual group devoted to self-help guru Paul Bentzen and his enigmatic wife Kali. But when, mysteriously, Paul suddenly dies, his entire estate—including Xanadu—is left to his estranged niece Sveta. Shocked and confused, Sveta travels to Mexico to pay her respects. At first, Xanadu seems like a secluded paradise with its tumbling gardens, beautiful people, transcendent vibe, and mesmerizing de-facto leader Kali. But soon the mystical façade wears thin, revealing a group of brainwashed members drunk on false promises of an impossible utopia and a disturbing, dangerous belief system—and leader—guiding them. As the sinister forces surrounding Sveta become apparent, she realizes, too late, she can’t escape. Frantic and terrified, she discovers her only hope for survival is to put her confidence in the very person she trusts the least.

nitially when I started this book, I found it a bit slow to get into but as I delved further into it, I became quite engrossed in it.

The story is seen through the narrative of Sveta, a model who is looking forward to get married to Chase but his family are interfering which is pushing the couple are apart. She’s never felt good enough for them and always felt she was looking in. So when she finds out that her favourite uncle has died and left her his whole estate which is worth millions. Chase’s family begin to change their opinion of Sveta. But first off Sveta must go to the Mexican jungle to her uncle’s estate for his funeral and get all his affairs in order with Lucas, her first love.

This story is a fascinating one, set in the claustrophobic but equally exhilarating Mexican jungle , the author writes vivid description of the centre, the bizarre characters who are seemingly friendly and welcoming but become stranger as the story flows along. I really liked Sveta, a successful and beautiful woman who just wants to be loved, with only her mother for family, she just wants to feel part of something.

Suspenseful and packed, ‘The Vicious Circle’ is an intense thriller about just how looks can be deceptive!

You can buy ‘The Vicious Circle’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Ghosted By Mo Fanning

Ghosted‘Ghosted’ is the latest book by Mo Fanning.

Professional Santa Silas French fills out the same application as always for his regular stint at a New York department store. Ellen Gitelman hangs her jacket behind the counter at the East Side Diner and smoothes out her waitress uniform, as she waits for the coffee pot to stop percolating. A double whammy of bad news leaves Silas jobless, with no money to pay for a planned trip to reconcile with his estranged gay son Joey in Florida. Cutbacks at the diner cost Ellen her job. A chance tip from his local bar gets Silas a job as Santa on a cruise ship that happens to be docking in Florida, where Joey lives with his husband and kids. Ellen heads to a cafe across the street and spots a bulletin board ad selling tickets for a cruise. Her riotous friend Julia volunteers as travel companion. The MS Viking just happens to be carrying 3000 gay men in the mood to party. What could go wrong? Silas soon finds himself involved with some unsavoury business and meets a potential new love in the form of Ellen. Over the course of the Christmas Holiday cruise, the pair slowly learn that what they thought they were seeking isn’t really what would make them truly happy, and that they are in control of their own choices.

Both Silas and Ellen are at a crossroads in their lives. Taking a gay cruise, they hope this will provide them with a second chance, Silas is hoping to reconnect with his gay son and family and hopes playing Santa Claus on a gay cruise will redeem whilst Ellen is hoping to fight the cancer that is ravaging her body.

The pair of them form an unlikely friendship as they bond over broken hearts, shattered lives and what if’s. They are lovely characters and it was touching and fun to join them in this cruise as they got into mishaps and learnt about each other and themselves. I liked Silas, he was a born actor pretending his life was much better than it really was and it did for heartbreaking reading at times as he tried to reach out to his son Joey, only to be pushed back. His heart never fully mended after his wife Nancy passed away and he finds solace in his sister-in-law’s arms. Going on the gay gives him the opportunity to take stock of his life and the prejudice and resentment that he harboured against his own son. Ellen is also a lovely character, hoping that the cruise will help her ignite her passion for life and not leave her bedridden and missing out.

Tenderly written and packed with wit and warmth. Set upon the open sea, ‘Ghosted’ is a story about self-discovery, forgiveness and grief that makes for heartfelt reading.

You can buy ‘Ghosted’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.