Review of Balancing Act (Battle Ground #6) by Rachel Churcher

Corporal David Conrad has life figured out. His job gives him power, control, and access to Top Secret operations. His looks have tempted plenty of women into his bed, and he has no intention of committing to a relationship.
When Ketty Smith joins the Home Forces, Conrad sets his sights on the new girl – but pursuing Ketty will be more dangerous than he realises. Is Conrad about to meet his match? And will the temptations of his job distract him from his target?

Balancing Act is a tie-in novel in the Battle Ground Series, revisiting the events of Darkest HourFighting Back, and Victory Day from Corporal Conrad’s point of view.

Balancing Act is a welcome return to the Battle Ground series and an interesting change of narrator. Corporal Conrad was the perpetual thorn in Ketty’s side and his side of the story is wonderfully told. The final 3 books are condensed well and the change of location for much of Conrads tale makes this book so much more than an companion point of view. Whilst Ketty and Bex played their game of cat and mouse, Conrad’s foray into the resistance began and it was both captivating and page turning, The way the stories wove together were wonderfully crafted and the momentum was steadily building throughout, if you’ve read the earlier books you’ll know whats coming but it still comes together in a wonderfully surprising way.

Conrad is not a likeable character, he is utterly conceited, so blinded by his own good fortune in the gene pool the idea that someone could get one over on him was unthinkable, the other side of his interactions with Ketty were interesting to read, I just wish I could remember more of Ketty’s narrative at that time. Despite making him a womaniser and all round awful human being, Rachel Churcher almost made me think to feel sorry for him at one stage, he was very well written in this book and his own overinflated voice and the confidence he projected in his power over women was a little consuming at times, because as the authors note says, sadly most women have experienced a David Conrad in their lives.

If you’re a fan of the series you will love this additional insight which really helps to round out the story and also gives us a bit more Ketty, which can only be a good thing.


Balancing Act is out today and you can grab your copy here:


Review of The Cottingley Cuckoo by A.J. Elwood

Captivated by books and stories, Rose dreams of a life away from the confines of the Sunnyside Care Home she works in, until elderly resident Charlotte Favell offers an unexpected glimpse of enchantment. She keeps an aged stack of letters about the Cottingley Fairies, the photographs made famous by Arthur Conan Doyle, but later dismissed as a hoax. The letters insist there is proof that the fairies existed. Rose is eager to learn more, but Charlotte allows her to read only a piece at a time, drawing Rose into her web.
As the letters’ content grows more menacing, Rose discovers she is unexpectedly pregnant, and feels another door to the future has slammed. Her obsession with what really happened in Cottingley all those years ago spirals; as inexplicable events begin to occur inside her home, she begins to entertain dark thoughts about her baby and its origins.

As a person who was captivated by the story of the Cottingley Fairies growing up I was excited to start reading this book and I’m grateful to Titan books for sending me a copy for review, however, this was a book that wasn’t a great fit for me.

The book is split into two parts both are interspersed with one sided letters from a Mr Fenton who is corresponding with a representative of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle which are used as background to the main plot and serve to drive the story forward as the tale unfolds. The first part I enjoyed the most, the start of the unsettling ability that Charlotte Favell had to get under Rose’s skin, but Rose sadly was a character that I was unable to really warm to. She was deeply unsatisfied with her life and therefore ripe for the twisted fancies of a bitter old woman, I was surprised at how easily she became ensnared but that fed into Rose’s desperation to be something more. The story did well at maintaining an air of menace and unease, playing off the plausible fantasy of someone who wants to believe.

However for the second part I just felt mostly confused, the lack of post natal care troubled me and whilst it worked to serve the purpose of the story, as someone who personally suffered from PND I felt that lack of accountability perhaps poorly researched. This sadly distracted me from the story as Rose became more and more frantic and pulled into the story Charlotte Favell had woven, she worked in a place filled with health care professionals who were seemingly oblivious to her erratic behaviour. Thinking about it the second part felt more like one woman’s struggle to survive an illness whilst caught in a web of cruelty.

I enjoyed the writing style for the most part, the subtle way the letters show a spiral descent was well played out and it managed a creepy feel throughout, I just struggled to get on board.


Review of The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

Hello hello everyone

Today it’s my stop on the Titan Books Blog Tour for the wonderful The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec!

When a banished witch falls in love with the legendary trickster Loki, she risks the wrath of the gods in this moving, subversive debut novel that reimagines Norse mythology.
Angrboda’s story begins where most witches’ tales end: with a burning. A punishment from Odin for refusing to provide him with knowledge of the future, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the farthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be Loki, and her initial distrust of him transforms into a deep and abiding love.
Their union produces three unusual children, each with a secret destiny, who Angrboda is keen to raise at the edge of the world, safely hidden from Odin’s all-seeing eye. But as Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life—and possibly all of existence—is in danger.
With help from the fierce huntress Skadi, with whom she shares a growing bond, Angrboda must choose whether she’ll accept the fate that she’s foreseen for her beloved family…or rise to remake their future. From the most ancient of tales this novel forges a story of love, loss, and hope for the modern age.

The Witch’s Heart is wonderful story of Angrboda, it’s woven into 3 interestingly laid out parts, each with their own distinct feel. The first has a loneliness to it as Angrboda starts to make a life for herself outside of Asgard, despite the often solitary existence though she makes a comfortable life for herself until it is turned upside down by the presence of Loki turning up mainly whenever he wanted something from her, but whilst he is not there Angrboda is joined by the wonderful Skadi and what starts as a reciprocal relationship born out of necessity turns into a wonderful friendship. The story progresses into one with a lovely homely feel to it as Angrboda and Loki’s dynamic develops into one which is more and their children and members of Skadi’s family come into the fold.

What really made the book for me was the opportunity to see a different side to Loki, whilst he is still the trickster, its the softer and more vulnerable side to him that he only lets slip outside of Asgard that was wonderful to read. His dynamic with his children was so interesting, even though I felt that often his attitude towards Angrboda left a lot to be desired in my mind. This then leads me onto Skadi who is probably my favourite character in the book, she is stalwart in her relationship with Angrboda, their friendship built over many years of respect and reciprocation, I adored how their characters developed together.

The story was so cleverly written that it went from being a wonderful, if not a little unconventional, family existence to one where a sense of unease began to be woven within. It snuck up on me, the feeling of apprehension as we got closer to the time of Angrboda’s visions, I had spent so long with these characters going about their daily lives that I suddenly wasn’t ready for what was inevitable, I felt a joy with being with them and they had been so carefully wrapped up in their world that I was troubled by the underlying tone. The cruelty that Angrboda suffered is still present in Asgaard and it starts to seep into Angrboda’s existence through unwelcome guests, troubling dreams and ultimately betrayal. I was so emotional at what she then goes through and how the story changed again to one still of loneliness but also one of redemption and forgiveness.

As the story hurtled towards it’s inevitable cataclysmic conclusion I was also left feeling uplifted by how in a way whilst one cycle was broken, one started anew but this time with a new hope and an ending that felt comforting and as it should be.

If you are are a fan of Norse mythology but are looking for a different take on an old tale then I really recommend that you pick up The Witch’s Heart.


The Witch’s Heart is available now through Titan Books

Review of The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

Only men are affected by the virus; only women have the power to save us all.
The year is 2025, and a mysterious virus has broken out in Scotland–a lethal illness that seems to affect only men. When Dr. Amanda MacLean reports this phenomenon, she is dismissed as hysterical. By the time her warning is heeded, it is too late. The virus becomes a global pandemic–and a political one. The victims are all men. The world becomes alien–a women’s world.
What follows is the immersive account of the women who have been left to deal with the virus’s consequences, told through first-person narratives. Dr. MacLean; Catherine, a social historian determined to document the human stories behind the male plague; intelligence analyst Dawn, tasked with helping the government forge a new society; and Elizabeth, one of many scientists desperately working to develop a vaccine. Through these women and others, we see the uncountable ways the absence of men has changed society, from the personal–the loss of husbands and sons–to the political–the changes in the workforce, fertility and the meaning of family.
In The End of Men, Christina Sweeney-Baird creates an unforgettable tale of loss, resilience and hope.

Firstly I would like to thank Borough Press and Tandem collective for the gifted copy of this book for a read-along. You can check out my Instagram story highlights to see my thoughts as the book progressed.The End of Men, as you would think is going to be a difficult read, not only in that it describes a virus that doesn’t care age but may also brings home the stark reality of grief and how that impacts on the human psychology when there is no support around because the world is collectively grieving.

The End of Men was very much a book of 2 halves for me, the first was so captivating I absolutely loved the pacing and the different point of views. I found it interesting to follow some of these characters from the start to the end but others we get a tiny glimpse. My favourite of the glimpses was a lady in Russia who discovered an empowerment that many of us, I’m sure, could get on board with. Amanda made the book for me though she was stoic and knew how to get the job done, even when those around her refused to admit that a job needed doing.  The description of society as the virus took hold was stark and for a book that started to be written in 2018, what would have seemed far fetched a year ago felt strikingly realistic.

However, the second half faltered. Whilst there were many individual elements that I really took pause on, such as trying to fill traditionally male dominated roles in society and how to protect male newborns, there were many parts that I felt were over laboured. I glazed over most of Dawn’s chapters and Maria’s journalistic articles just didn’t work for me as they didn’t stand out from the general writing style in the way a news article should. Her “edgy” journalism just felt careless. It just think it didn’t achieve what it set out to in the closing stages which is a shame as the first section was so fantastic.

Some parts of the social commentary though were well done, I especially liked the way that those left with nothing reacted to those who had blessedly had escaped with their lives relatively intact and the small lights of hope and normality peppered throughout. However, I can’t deny that I spent a lot of the end just waiting for it to, well end, so I think that this will round out with a 3.5 for me.