Monday, 21 March 2022

The Hippo's Hidden Gems - Flowers for the Dead - Barbara Copperthwaite



I've been on a little hiatus as I found myself suffering from a severe case of reading slump. I went for days, sometimes even a whole week, without picking up or even wanting to read a book. During this time I went back and revisited some older books I'd previously read and enjoyed and it got me thinking. There is always a buzz around new books but what about those books that have been around for a while, tucked away on shelves, forgotten about and feeling unloved. I think it's time that they were dusted off and shown some love again so I decided to start a new feature where I tell you about older books that I loved which you may not have read or even heard about. Let's show them some love, get talking about them and shine a light on these hidden gems.


I thought long and hard about which book I'd use to kick off this new feature and I came to the conclusion that only one book could possibly fit the bill - Flowers for the Dead by Barbara Copperthwaite. I read this book way back in 2015 and I still recommend it to people today, all these years later. I will always have fond memories of Adam despite the fact that he's a serial killer, it was one of my top ten books of the year in 2015 and it's one of the very few books on my re-read list.


He sees her. The one. The sunglasses don’t fool anyone, she is clearly upset, her nose and lips swollen from crying. They are two lost souls and he knows his love can help her. After all, she is not the first girl he has followed home…

Adam is the perfect boyfriend. He pays attention, he buys flowers. He knows everything about Laura and looks after her every need. He cooks, he cleans – he even does the dishes without being asked.

But Laura has never met Adam. Still grieving after a devastating car crash that killed her family, she’s forgetful and struggling to pull her life together. She’d be horrified to know the depth of this unsettling fantasy in which she is the star. But there’s no denying the chill she feels every time she finds another elaborate bouquet on her doorstep, or wakes in the night sensing she is not alone.

Adam has been watching her every move, and now it’s time to act. Except, there’s one little detail he’s missed: Laura has been watching him too.

After everything she’s been through, Laura’s ready to fight back and stop being the victim in her own life story. But in Adam’s world, there are no happy endings…

My thoughts:

Have you ever wondered what goes on in the mind of a serial killer?

If you've answered yes to the above question then Flowers for the Dead is just the book for you.

Right from the start you know that Adam Bourne is a serial killer and that he will kill again but what you don't know is why. What has made this seemingly quiet and unassuming man stalk innocent women and then go on to kill them?

After recently killing his latest victim, Adam is looking for her replacement when he spots Laura at one of his usual hunting grounds and so the cycle begins again but this time, we as readers, are able to follow the story from start to finish.

There are so many reasons why I loved this book I'm not sure where to start. The story is beautifully written and the way that both characters backgrounds are slowly revealed is so effortlessly done you're not distracted from the main story at all, it helps you to understand them and adds depth. The build up of tension as I watched Adam's behaviour escalate and finding out what he'd done to his previous victims was disturbing when all the time at the back of my mind I kept thinking "There are real people out there like this".  Adam's relationship with his gran melted my heart, the way that she was the only one who really loved him and how she taught him his extensive knowledge of flowers which he would use later on in his life, was wonderful to read.

I could go on and on with this but I'll let you find out for yourselves what a fantastic book this is.

Barbara Copperthwaite has gone on the write more fabulous books including Her Last Secret and The Perfect Friend but in my very humble opinion Flowers for the Dead will take some beating!

I'd love to hear your thoughts, have you read it and if so what did you think?

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Blog Tour - Poetic Justice - Mark Tilbury


If you're a regular reader on my little blog then you'll know just how much I love Mark Tilbury's books so I was excited to get my hands on his latest release Poetic Justice

As well as writing novels, Mark also enjoys writing poetry and Poetic Justice is a delightfully twisted collection of five short stories and novella's which all begin with a poem which inspired the story - an idea that I thought was very original as it's not something that I've seen before.

Although not as dark as Mark's other books, don't be fooled into thinking that because these are 'short' stories there won't be enough to get your teeth into as these five little gems are packed to the rafters with great characters, grittiness and a hint of supernatural along with everything else that you'd expect from this talented author.

Each story has a female protagonist, a seemingly average individual who finds themself in extenuating circumstances and details the lengths that they will go to to get their lives back on track be it fair means or foul. There are definitely some cautionary tales here! 

If I had to choose a favourite it would be a tough decision but I think it would be Lucy's Return. The clever way that the story is narrated, almost as if by a friend, made me really connect with the character. Lucy has waited a long time to reconnect with a particular lad from her school days and boy does she have a surprise planned for him. She's brought along a dish of revenge - and it's VERY cold!

I was immediately drawn into each story and found myself lurching from one emotion to another. One minute I was full of empathy and the next I was totally dumbfounded - did that character really just do that? OMG! Sometimes short stories and even novella's can leave me yearning for more but not these ones - they may be small but they are all mighty. 

If you're of the mindset that short stories aren't for you then I seriously urge you to reconsider - after all these are not just any short stories . . . . .  these are Twisted Tilbury short stories! 


                                                    About the author

Photo courtesy of Mark Tilbury

Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised.

He’s always had a keen interest in writing and after being widowed and raising his two daughters, Mark finally took the plunge and began self-publishing. Mark’s writing has earned him the name #TwistedTilbury due to the dark and twisted nature of his books.

When he’s not writing, Mark can be found playing guitar, reading and walking.


You can find out more about Mark, his books and connect with him using the links below:


Follow the blog tour with these great blogs:


With kind thanks to author Mark Tilbury for my review copy.

Saturday, 30 October 2021

Blog Tour - The Halfpenny Girls at Christmas - Maggie Mason



I couldn't wait to rejoin Alice, Marg and Edith to find out how their stories would progress. Best friends since they were little and affectionately known as The Halfpenny Girls, these three girls, now young women, they have been there for each other through good times and bad.

Life is still full of ups and down for the trio, Alice is expecting her first child with husband Gerald and Edith is making plans for her wedding to Philip but life is still a struggle for Marg despite her good friends looking out for her. With Christmas fast approaching and the potential prospect of another war on the horizon will the girls and their families be able to pull together and stay strong?

I love reading at any time of the year, but now with the night's drawing in, I can't wait until the time comes to pull the curtains and shut out the real world to curl up and lose myself in another world and what better place to escape to than Blackpool with old friends?

The Halfpenny Girls at Christmas is another enthralling novel which centres on family and friendship with characters that are so captivating I almost wish I could be a Halfpenny Girl! I really enjoyed seeing how the girls are maturing and dealing with whatever life throws at them. Every character is written so vividly it's easy to feel compassion for them and also making them difficult to forget.

Maggie Mason is an exceptional wordsmith who has truly mastered her craft of story telling. Each book is an absolute delight to read and would make a wonderful addition to any saga loving bookworm's library. 

You can follow the rest of the blog tour with these lovely blogs:

With kinds thanks to Francesca Banks at Sphere Books for my review copy.

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Blog Tour - Hollywood Bilker - Leopold Borstinski


Time is ticking by and it's now the 1960's and having made a dramatic escape from Cuba, Alex Cohen is back in America.

Alex has moved into a different world - one where he is rubbing shoulders with Hollywood legends like Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra at glitzy parties. He is the 'go-to' guy for those extra special items that will ensure all the guests have a good time and they know that Alex will always be discreet. Moving in these circles gives him the opportunity to be a part of, or influence several pivotal moments in American history but he's not always a willing participant.

Alex knows that he's not getting any younger, and while he has fleetingly thought about retirement in the past, he knows that now is the time to start putting things into place to ensure that he and his family have enough money to live comfortably and in the style that they've become accustomed to. Spending quality time with his family is something that hasn't always been a priority in Alex's life and he needs to change that before it's too late.

Hollywood Bilker is another fabulous addition to this exceptional series from Leopold Borstinski. Once again we're given a glimpse into the underground world of crime cleverly combined with real life historical events which makes for exhilarating reading. The story flows seamlessly and the writing is, as always, insightful and captivating. This would be perfect for fans of  historical fiction and crime as well as anyone with an interest in American history and gangsters. 

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                                                  About the author

Photo courtesy of Leopold Borstinski

Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

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Follow the rest of the tour with these great blogs:


You can find out more about Leopold, his books and connect with him using the links below:


With kind thanks to Zoe at Zooloo's Book Tours for my stop on the tour and author Leopold Borstinksi for my review copy.

Sunday, 1 August 2021

Blog Tour - The Lies I Tell - Joel Hames

Polly, Belinda and Emily are all fake online profiles created by Lisa. The aim of each of these profiles is to befriend and eventually defraud unsuspecting people and so far things have been going well for her. Lisa's motivation for her scams is her son, Simon, she wants to give him the secure childhood that she herself never had. When she notices something odd on one of her fake profiles and it looks like someone is turning the tables paranoia starts to set in and she finds herself juggling her ongoing scams with trying to identify the person who is trying to play her at her own game.

I enjoyed the way to story was narrated in dual time format, one with Lisa as she tries to work out who is trying to expose her for the scammer that she is and the other where we slowly discover her traumatic childhood. It was this latter story that helped me warm to Lisa's character as initially I wasn't keen on her. Getting an insight into her formative years made her current life choices more comprehensible. She wanted to provide security for her son in a way that her parents never did which was admirable if not ethical.

The Lies I Tell is a slow burning, tense, complex psychological thriller packed full of twists and turns that will have you guessing right up to the very end. It will have you questioning how safe you are online as well as how well you know your online friends. I will definitely be looking out for the other books from this polished author in the future.


                                                 About the author

Photo courtsey of Joel Hames

A Londoner in exile, Joel Hames lives in rural Lancashire with his wife and two daughters.

His works of fiction include the bestselling Sam Williams trilogy Dead North, No One Will Hear and The Cold Years, and the standalone psychological thriller The Lies I Tell.

When not writing or spending time with his family, Joel likes to eat, cook, play the piano, and make up excuses to avoid walking the dog. There’s the MMA thing, too, but he doesn’t like to show off.

You can find out more about Joel, his books and connect with him using the links below:

Amazon UK
Amazon US

With kind thanks to Zoe at Zooloo's Book Tours for my stop on the tour and author Joel Hames for my review copy.