Thursday 23 March 2023

Those People Next Door by Kia Abdullah | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Those People Next Door by Kia Abdullah
My rating: 4/5
Publisher: HQ
Publication date: 19th January 2023

You can choose your house. Not your neighbours.

Salma Khatun is extremely hopeful about Blenheim, the safe suburban development to which she, her husband and their son have just moved. Their family is in desperate need of a fresh start, and Blenheim feels like the place to make that happen.

Not long after they move in, Salma spots her neighbour, Tom Hutton, ripping out the anti-racist banner her son put in their front garden. She chooses not to confront Tom because she wants to fit in. It's a small thing, really. No need to make a fuss. So Salma takes the banner inside and puts it in her window instead. But the next morning she wakes up to find her window smeared with paint.

This time she does confront Tom, and the battle lines between the two families are drawn. As things begin to escalate and the stakes become higher, it's clear that a reckoning is coming… And someone is going to get hurt.

I always know I'll be extremely satisfied when I read a Kia Abdullah novel.

Those People Next Door follows The Khatun's, Salma, Bilal and their son Zain who move to Blenheim, a suburban development in the hopes that it will impact teenage Zain in a positive way. He had begun falling in with the wrong crowd.

They are instantly welcomed to Blenheim at a barbecue and get to know their next door neighbours Tom and Willa Hutton. Zain becomes friends with the Hutton's son, Jamie, when they meet across their balconies. Jamie is deaf and Zain is great when it comes to tech and coding so they quickly hit it off and decide to create an app to help those who are deaf or hard of hearing. I loved what we saw of their friendship and thought Jamie was a great supporting character.

When Salma hangs a Black Lives Matter flag in her garden and sees Tom knock it down, she gives him the benefit of the doubt. When she moves it into the window and her window pane is then covered in paint, she begins to think Tom has something against them. 

Abdullah is a wonderful storyteller and although I felt like this was a slow burner, I was kept fully invested. The things Tom did towards the Khatun's, how he tried to justify it then when we got to the crux of the novel, and what I think Abdullah does best, those court scenes - *chefs kiss*!

It was such an interesting take on the subject of race. If you have never read a book by Kia Abdullah, do it now! 

Friday 17 March 2023

Until Proven Innocent by Nicola Williams | Blog Tour Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Until Proven Innocent by Nicola Williams
My rating: 4/5
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton 
Publication date: 16th March 2023

Lee Mitchell is a young barrister from a working-class Caribbean background: in the cut-throat environment of the courtroom, everything is stacked against her.

On her doorstep in South London the 15-year-old son of the pastor at the local Black church is shot, and the local community is shattered. All evidence is pointing to infamously corrupt, racist police officer Sergeant Jack Lambert as the irredeemable suspect. His own boss - rebel-turned-copper Danny Wallace - is certain he is guilty.

Against her will, Lee is strong-armed into defending him. With cries of 'Black Lives Matter!' echoing in the streets, Lee is at the centre of the turmoil as lies, anger, and mistrust spiral out of control.

With the line between her personal and professional life becoming increasingly blurred, Lee keeps asking herself the same question: How can she defend the indefensible?

I love a crime thriller/police procedural and Williams has done this very well!

Set in South London in a Black community, Paul Matthews, the fifteen year old son of a pastor has been shot in the face at close range. Paul was innocent in this, his mistake was wearing the coat of his older brother, drug dealer Tony Matthews.

DCI Danny Williams is investigating the case but has ties to it. He was a troubled youngster and upon advice from Pastor Desmond Matthews, Paul's father, he turned his life around. The prime suspect emerges as one of their own; a racist and homophobic police sergeant, Jack Lambert.

Leanne "Lee" Mitchell works on the case and although she is a high flying barrister, she still returns to volunteer at her local law centre. I absolutely loved her character. The author is a barrister herself and this made Lee's handling of the case in the novel really come to life.

There are so many characters to observe in this book from police informants to MPs but the plot is weaved together perfectly and at a fantastic pace too. 

Until Proven Innocent touches on race, gentrification and police bias really well. I would definitely recommend!


A massive thank you to Penguin for having me on the blog tour. You can find out information on the other bloggers taking part in the tour in the graphic below.

Thursday 16 March 2023

By Way Of Sorrow by Robyn Gigl | Blog Tour Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received an ebook copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

By Way Of Sorrow by Robyn Gigl
My rating: 4/5
Publisher: Verve 
Publication date: 16th March 2023

Erin McCabe has been referred the biggest case of her career. Four months ago, the son of a New Jersey state senator was found fatally stabbed in a rundown motel near Atlantic City. Sharise Barnes, a nineteen-year-old transgender sex worker, is in custody, and there seems little doubt of a guilty verdict. Because Sharise admits she killed the senator's son – in self-defense.

As a trans woman herself, Erin knows that defending Sharise will blow her own private life wide open and doubtless deepen her estrangement from her family. Yet she feels uniquely qualified to help Sharise and duty-bound to protect her from the possibility of a death sentence.

While Erin works with her law partner, former FBI agent Duane Swisher, to build a case, the distraught senator begins using the full force of his influence to publicly discredit everyone involved in defending Sharise. And behind the scenes, his tactics are even more dangerous. For his son had secrets that could destroy his own political aspirations - secrets worth killing for...

I was instantly drawn into By Way Of Sorrow because it gave me SVU vibes which is one of my favourite TV shows.

Attorney Erin McCabe and her partner, former FBI agent, Duane "Swish" Swisher are given a case to work. Their client is a transgender woman by the name of Sharise but is currently in a men's prison being referred to as Samuel. Sharise murdered the son of a high profile politician and claims that it was self defence as the victim got angry upon learning that he was having relations with a transgender woman.

We learn very early in the book that Erin is a transgender woman too and is eager to work on the case for this reason. Her partner Swish is worried as this could mean that her private life is pulled apart in this high profile case.

I have never read a novel like this before and it was great to read something so fresh. I always do a bit of research on authors when I read and discovered that Gigl is not unlike the main character of Erin. I can only assume that a lot of what happened in the book has been taken from real life.

The plot was great and kept me wanting to read but it is definitely educational too, especially for those who don't understand the bias towards transgender people. An action packed read!


A massive thank you to Verve for having me on the blog tour. You can find information about other bloggers taking part in the tour in the graphic below.

Wednesday 15 March 2023

Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent | Blog Tour Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent
My rating: 5/5
Publisher: Sandycove
Publication date: 2nd March 2023

Sally Diamond cannot understand why what she did was so strange. She was only doing what her father told her to do, to put him out with the rubbish when he died.

Now Sally is the centre of attention, not only from the hungry media and police detectives, but also a sinister voice from a past she cannot remember. As she begins to discover the horrors of her childhood, Sally steps into the world for the first time, making new friends and big decisions, and learning that people don't always mean what they say.

But who is the man observing Sally from the other side of the world? And why does her neighbour seem to be obsessed with her? Sally's trust issues are about to be severely challenged...

When I read Our Little Cruelties a couple of years ago, I knew instantly that Liz Nugent would be my type of author. It has been a while since I've had such a quick and easy five star read but with Strange Sally Diamond she has done it again!

Sally Diamond is in her early forties and after her father Tom dies, she does what he told her to do which was put him out with the rubbish. She took that literally and put him in the incinerator.

Tom was actually Sally's adoptive father and we learn rather quickly that Sally isn't perhaps like everyone else. She is emotionally and developmentally behind. After Tom's death, Sally finds out the truth about her early childhood years as she cannot remember anything prior to her seventh birthday.

When journalists and press get wind of who she is, she receives a package in the post of a very particular teddy bear. Who sent it to her and why are they trying to contact her?

Liz Nugent really pulls at your heartstrings with the character of Sally. When I first started reading, she reminded me of Eleanor Oliphant (from Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine) who is one of my favourite book characters. 

I enjoyed the use of a POV switch between Sally now and Peter back in the 70s/80s. All the clues are there and drip fed to us so we assume what is happening before a confirmation and I LOVE that in a book.

Although the story of Sally and her past is quite sad, Nugent's humour shines through. Special mention to, "And your quiche is shite!"

A very easy five stars from me.


A massive thank you to Penguin for having me on the blog tour. The information about the other bloggers taking part in the tour is in the graphic below.

Tuesday 7 March 2023

One Enchanted Evening by Katie Fforde | Blog Tour Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

One Enchanted Evening by Katie Fforde
My rating: 4/5
Publisher: Century
Publication date: 2nd March 2023

Ever since she can remember, Meg has wanted to be a professional cook.

But it's 1964, and in restaurant kitchens all over England it is still a man's world.

Then she gets a call from her mother who is running a small hotel in Dorset.

There's an important banqueting event coming up. She needs help and she needs it now!

When Meg arrives, the hotel seems stuck in the past. But she loves a challenge, and sets to work.

Then Justin, the son of the hotel owner, appears, determined to take over the running of the kitchen.

Infuriated, Meg is determined to keep cooking - and soon sparks between them begin to fly.

Will their differences be a recipe for disaster? After all, the course of true love never did run smooth...

Katie Fforde's books are like a warm hug. I'll admit, I had only read A Wedding In Provence but I was so excited to see some characters pop up in One Enchanted Evening. I believe there is quite a lot of crossover so I will need to go back and read!

One Enchanted Evening is set in the 1960s and Meg goes to help her mother Louise at Nightingale Woods hotel in Dorset. The owner has passed away and his sons are on the hunt for his beneficiary. They have a luncheon to plan but everything seems to have fallen apart. Meg, with the help of Ambrosine, an elderly woman with an incredible WW2 backstory, gets to recreating the menu.

Meg meets Justin, the grandson of the late owner who is set on taking over the kitchen. Meg wants to stand her ground and continue cooking and eventually sparks fly between them. Of course, it doesn't all run smoothly.

Katie Fforde is a fantastic storyteller and I am a sucker for a romance with a happy ending.


A massive thank you to EDPR and Century Books for having me on the blog tour. You can find information about the other bloggers taking part in the tour in the graphic below.

Wednesday 1 March 2023

Paris Requiem by Chris Lloyd | Blog Tour Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Paris Requiem by Chris Lloyd
My rating: 4/5
Publisher: Orion
Publication date: 23rd February 2023

Paris, September 1940.

After three months under Nazi Occupation, not much can shock Detective Eddie Giral. That is, until he finds a murder victim who was supposed to be in prison. Eddie knows, because he put him there. The dead man is not the first or the last criminal being let loose onto the streets. But who is pulling the strings, and why?

This question will take Eddie from jazz clubs to opera halls, from old flames to new friends, from the lights of Paris to the darkest countryside - pursued by a most troubling truth: sometimes to do the right thing, you have to join the wrong side...

I generally wouldn't reach for a historical fiction book but this year I am trying to branch out more. Paris Requiem is proof that I needed to!

Set in the 1940s in Paris under the Occupation, Detective Eddie Giral is called to a jazz club where a body has been found. The person's lips had been sewn together. Eddie is shocked by this because the body is that of a prisoner that Eddie had helped get put away. He wasn't due to be released so why and how did this happen?

Upon delving into this Giral and his partner Boniface discover that other prisoners have been released but no-one who works at the prison is speaking. Their files are gone too so it is as though they were never incarcerated.

I loved the backdrop of this novel and the pace was perfect. As I mentioned, I don't tend to read historical fiction but I felt as though I learned a lot in the background whilst also being entertained by the plot. The author's note was very helpful too!

Eddie is a complex character for sure and, props to the author, his personality really shone through. I believe this isn't the first in the series so I will have to go back and read! 


A massive thank you to Orion for having me on the blog tour. You can find information about the other blogger's taking part in the tour in the graphic below.