Book Review

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride – Roshani Chokshi

It has taken a while for me to be able to organise my thoughts about this book into actual sentences, but I am finally able to review The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi. Many thanks to Roshani and to Hodder & Stoughton for my copy of this book, which I received via NetGalley.


A sumptuous, gothic-infused story about a marriage that is unraveled by dark secrets, a friendship cursed to end in tragedy, and the danger of believing in fairy tales—the breathtaking adult debut from New York Times bestselling author Roshani Chokshi.

Once upon a time, a man who believed in fairy tales married a beautiful, mysterious woman named Indigo Maxwell-Casteñada. He was a scholar of myths. She was heiress to a fortune. They exchanged gifts and stories and believed they would live happily ever after—and in exchange for her love, Indigo extracted a promise: that her bridegroom would never pry into her past.

But when Indigo learns that her estranged aunt is dying and the couple is forced to return to her childhood home, the House of Dreams, the bridegroom will soon find himself unable to resist. For within the crumbling manor’s extravagant rooms and musty halls, there lurks the shadow of another girl: Azure, Indigo’s dearest childhood friend who suddenly disappeared. As the house slowly reveals his wife’s secrets, the bridegroom will be forced to choose between reality and fantasy, even if doing so threatens to destroy their marriage . . . or their lives.

Combining the lush, haunting atmosphere of Mexican Gothic with the dreamy enchantment of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, The Last Tale of the Flower Bride is a spellbinding and darkly romantic page-turner about love and lies, secrets and betrayal, and the stories we tell ourselves to survive.


Wow! The Last Tale of the Flower Bride was everything I had hoped it would be from looking at the cover and more. It is dark, romantic, erotic without the need for graphic sex, and it oozes with gothic atmosphere. There were times that I found it chilling, but I was captivated by Indigo Maxwell-Casteñada and found her impossible to walk away from.

With the nameless narrator known only as The Bridegroom, I was reminded of the second Mrs de Winter from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca – his devotion to Indigo, and with the mysterious House of Dreams being as much a character in its own right as Manderley only adding to this feeling.

Roshani Chokshi has a wonderfully poetic writing style, and her words weave a spell around the reader, cutting them off from the rest of the world. I was drawn so deeply into this book that when I emerged from its pages, I felt somewhat dazed.

With hints of fairies and secrets surrounding the disappearance of more than one character, I was desperate to uncover each of the intertwined stories, but fearful of what would be revealed. Roshani’s use of the darkness hidden within fairy tales to explore the toxicity that can come from all-encompassing relationships, both platonic and romantic, make this a truly gripping read.

I have tried to find a way to describe this book for a couple of weeks now, and the best I can come up with is that it is quiet, a book of murmured secrets, stories told in a whisper. It is simply exquisite.

Book Review

Blinded Me With Science – Tara September

Today, I am taking part in the blog tour for Blinded Me With Science by Tara September. Many thanks to Tara for providing me with a copy of the audiobook, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour.


Opposites attract like a magnet to steel, or in this case, Emerson to Steel.

Emerson Powers has been so focused on obtaining her science degree that she’s neglected the more social aspects of college life. With the new start of her junior year, she’s determined to fix that with a real hands-on lesson in biology. The assignment is simple enough—teach the rock star’s son how to be good, while he shows her how to be very bad. Two objectives, one outcome … will the lesson be love or heartbreak?

Steel is no longer the bad boy Emerson knew from prep school, and he’s set to prove it by helping Emerson complete her secret list of desired college experiences. And if he can convince her that they are meant to be together along the way, even better!

While teaming up on experiments, both in and out of the classroom, Emerson discovers a new side to Steel. Leaving her to question everything she thought she knew. Still, is it enough to forgive the past or just mere chemistry?


Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Amazon AU

For a free bonus chapter visit HERE.


My second review of the day couldn’t be more different than my first, and in actual fact is a real change from the norm for me. For one, it’s a romance, which is a genre that I don’t review often, and secondly, I “read” this as an audiobook – something I also don’t often review, as a narrator can make or break a book for me, no matter how good or bad the story is.

On the subject of narration, I think I would have preferred the audio to have been read by two authors for the dual perspectives of Emerson and Steel. I will admit that I struggled a little with the female narrator attempting a male voice for an entire chapter at a time. However, once I got past this minor irritation, Steel was a character who was hard to resist. He is exactly the kind of damaged bad boy (trying to be good) that I always fall for in books.

Bookish, serious Emerson is delightfully awkward, and I found I could easily relate to her attempts to discover her inner party animal and really live the full college experience. If I had been in her shoes, I would have been putty in Steel’s hands, but, at that age, equally scared to admit it.

I think I would have preferred getting to know some background characters a little more, to really get a feel for Emerson and Steel’s lives, but I can see how this may not have worked with the writing style which often takes the form of each of the characters’ internal monologues.

Despite being a bit too heavy on the romance and a bit too light on adventure for my personal tastes, this was a light, enjoyable read/listen that I am sure romance fans will adore. (Word of warning – don’t listen to this book if anyone else can hear what you are listening to. There were a couple of instances that saw me scrabbling for my volume control!).


Fueled by an IV of green tea and Prosecco, Tara September is a multi-award-winning contemporary romance author of bestselling sassy & steamy love stories filled with banter. Based in Southwest Florida, Tara holds a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, a B.A. from Wheaton College in Massachusetts, as well as attended college courses at Queen’s College in London, U.K. She is also the proud mom to identical twin 10-year-old boys and three cats.





Don’t forget to visit the other blogs taking part in the tour.


Top 10 of 2022

Happy 2023 folks! It’s that time of year again when I share my favourite books from the outgoing year. I always struggle to narrow it down to just ten books, but this year was particularly hard as I have read some truly amazing books. After much toing and froing though, I have managed to whittle my list down from 40-something to just ten. These are purely in the order that I read them rather than a chart run down. Click on the titles to read my reviews of each of these:

  • Dusky Dahlia – Lucy Holden
    • I absolutely adore the Nightgarden Saga by Lucy Holden, and having read the final three books in the series in 2022, it was hard to choose just one. In the end, it had to be Dusky Dahlia because of the depth of emotion in the story.
  • The Embroidered Book – Kate Heartfield
    • Two of my favourite genres are historical fiction and fantasy, so when the two collide, it is a dream come true for me. This stunning book is a reimaging of Europe at the time of Marie Antoinette, and I could not put it down!
  • Nothing Burns As Bright As You – Ashley Woodfolk (review coming soon)
    • This YA novel in verse is as beautiful as it is devastating. I wanted to review it as soon as I read it, but I just could not find the words – to be honest, nine months later, I am still struggling.
  • Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl – Joya Goffney
    • This was a tricky decision for me, because I also read Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya in 2022, and I loved both books equally, but only had space for one. I ended up choosing this one because I think that its subject matter is something that should be spoken about more.
  • The Ghost of Ivy Barn – Mark Stay
    • I can’t get enough of the Witches of Woodville series by Mark Stay, and I loved this latest instalment. Each book has a slightly different feel to it, and I found this one a lot more emotional than I had expected. Oh, and I cannot stress this enough, you HAVE to look up Mr Stay’s unboxing videos!
  • The Wedding Cake – Isabella May
    • If you don’t know by now that I am a huge Isabella May fan, then I don’t know where you have been for the last five years! I love, love, love her Foodie Romance series! It is just wonderful.
  • Words In Deep Blue – Cath Crowley (review coming soon)
    • Oh my, this book! It was recommended to me by a friend, you know the type, “You have to read this book, it will destroy you!” and she certainly wasn’t wrong. I know this is a book that I will keep coming back to – just as soon as I recover from reading it the first time!
  • We Are All Constellations – Amy Beashel
    • Yet another book that left me in absolute bits! I think maybe I should read some happier books in 2023, but I just can’t help myself with the emotional rollercoasters!
  • Goblins of Lapland – Caedis Knight
    • While a lot of the books on my list this year are YA, this one is most definitely an 18+! The latest in the Blood Web Chronicles is a festive prequel full of Christmassy delights!
  • The Witch and the Tsar – Olesya Salnikova Gilmore
    • Finishing off this year’s list is one of the last books I read in 2022, and another where history meets fantasy, this time in Russia as Ivan the Terrible encounters a reimagined Baba Yaga. It was the perfect wintery read to curl up with in the days before Christmas.

What were your favourite books in 2022? I would love to see your lists to add to my TBR!

Book Review

With This Kiss – Carrie Hope Fletcher

On this lovely Easter Sunday I am joining the blog tour for With This Kiss by Carrie Hope Fletcher. Many thanks to Carrie and HQ for inviting me to join the tour and for providing me with a copy of the book.


When their lips touch, will she seal his fate?

From the outside, Lorelai is an ordinary young woman with a normal life. She loves reading, she works at the local cinema and she adores living with her best friend. But she carries a painful burden, something she’s kept hidden for years; whenever she kisses someone on the lips, she sees how they are going to die. But she’s never known if she’s seeing what was always meant to be, or if her kiss is the thing that decides their destiny. And so, she hasn’t kissed anyone since she was eighteen.

Then she meets Grayson. Sweet, clever, funny Grayson. And for the first time in years she yearns for a man’s kiss. But she can’t… or can she? And if she does, should she try to intervene and change what she sees?

Spellbinding, magical and utterly original, With This Kiss is one love story you will never forget.


Amazon UK


I have long been aware of the talents of Carrie Hope Fletcher, having watched her as Eponine in Les Miserables some years ago, but this is the first time I have read one of her books. As you will know, I am not a huge romance reader, but throw a bit of magical realism into the mix and I am sold!

Within just a few sentences of With This Kiss starting, I liked Lorelai and had the impression that we would be firm friends if she was real and we were to meet. I loved her friendship with Joanie, and would definitely want to be part of that little gang. And as for Grayson, well, he is just too adorable!

My heart broke for Lorelai as she struggled to understand her “superpower.” Her visions were described in such vivid detail that it wasn’t hard to imagine just how horrific it would actually be experience them.

I would perhaps like to have seen more of the book/movie club members and had the chance to get to know each of them a little more, but actually I was so engrossed in Lorelai’s troubles that I largely forgot about their existence.

With This Kiss is a beautiful story about love of all kinds and there is a wonderful warmth throughout it.





Remember to pay a visit to all the wonderful blogs taking part in this tour!

Book Review

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bar – Isabella May

I am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for the latest book by one of my favourite authors, the lovely Isabella May. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bar sees us heading back to Glastonbury with old friends, and is a book I was desperate to get my hands on from the very second it was announced! Many thanks to Isabella for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.


River and Alice miss Somerset. Christmas isn’t Christmas without family and friends, even when you live in quaint Cornwall.

When River’s Aunt Sheba dies unexpectedly, leaving him her ancient VW campervan, nostalgia nudges him and Alice back to Glastonbury – and the surrounding villages – to rediscover their roots whilst serving the most decadent hot chocolate and delectable gingerbread from their renovated ‘bar on wheels’.

A bar on wheels complete with a fold-up stage to host local talent competitions rivaling anything Simon Cowell could dream up, even if he’d gorged on a truckle of Cheddar cheese!

As the villagers sip their cocoa and ice their gingerbread houses amidst the festive backdrop of song, dance, and slightly more unconventional talents, River and Alice find themselves in an unexpected race against time:

Zara, their chocolate supplier is leaving Glastonbury on the twelfth day of Christmas, keen to put a string of disastrous relationships behind her to make a fresh start.

Bruno, their gregarious and gorgeous baking supplier is secretly smitten with Zara – ticking every box on her New Year’s wish list.

If only they can get them together for one experimental kiss under the mistletoe…

They’ve even enlisted their customers’ help in their mission to wrap this budding romance up in all the jingle bells and whistles. How hard can it be?

So, ho, ho VERY tricky, as it turns out…


Order here


When I was choosing my next read recently, I was feeling decidedly not okay and in need of something to lift my spirits. Remembering I had the new Isabella May cheered me up almost instantly – her books always feel like a big hug anyway, and one about hot chocolate and Christmas, featuring one of my favourite former rock stars was just what the doctor ordered. River’s thoughts on the correct way to apply cream and jam to a scone had me chuckling to myself just a few sentences in to the book (he’s doing it wrong, by the way), and I knew this book would have me feeling better in no time. It was wonderful being back with River and Alice, meeting up with friends old and new, friends who I laughed with and even shed a tear or two with.

In Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bar, Isabella May has captured my ideal Christmas, full of warmth, love, and the magic that can be created when communities come together. I could practically smell the hot chocolate and gingerbread as I was reading. I adore the attention to the smaller details that Isabella adds to her books – a prime example here, and I am potentially showing my age here, is the fact that Alice’s ponies all had My Little Pony names. I absolutely loved this, largely because the name’s Alice had chosen almost perfectly matched my own My Little Pony collection as a child.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bar is a read in one sitting kind of book, as long as that sitting involves a cosy blanket, an enormous mug of hot chocolate and a pile of sweet treats. Move over The Cake Fairies, I do believe I have a new favourite Isabella May book.


Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the mountains and the sea. She grew up on Glastonbury’s ley lines and loves to feature her quirky English hometown in her stories.

After a degree in Modern Languages and European Studies at UWE, Bristol (and a year working abroad in Bordeaux and Stuttgart), Isabella bagged an extremely jammy and fascinating job in children’s publishing… selling foreign rights for novelty, board, pop-up and non-fiction books all over the world; in every language from Icelandic to Korean, Bahasa Indonesian to Papiamento!

All of which has fuelled her curiosity and love of international food and travel – both feature extensively in her cross-genre novels, fused with a dollop of romcom, and a sprinkle of magical realism.

Isabella is also a Level 4 Pranic Healer and a stillbirth mum.





Make sure you visit the other blogs taking part in the tour for more about River and Alice’s adventures.


SFFRomFest Blogger Spotlight

Everyone here already knows that I am a huge fantasy fan, so I was delighted to be asked to be part of the SFFRomFest to help launch a very exciting new podcast that celebrates SFF Romance. You might have seen that I have been taking part in the SFFRomFest Insta Challenge this month – I would love to see all your photos for each day’s challenge. Just use #SFFRomFest and #Bookstagram to join in, and don’t forget to follow @SFFRomCast on Instagram and Twitter.

As part of the festivities, myself and some of my fellow book bloggers have been answering a few questions about our love of SFF Romance. Here are my answers – it would be great to hear what your answers would be too.

What has been your favourite SFF Romance from 2021 so far?

Oh that is a tough one! I don’t think I can choose just one! I have just finished Red Magnolia, the first book in Lucy Holden’s YA series, the Nightgarden Saga, and I absolutely loved that. But then there is Stephanie Garber’s Once Upon a Broken Heart which was amazing – Caraval is one of my all time favourite series, and this spin off did not disappoint! Cassandra Clare is an author that everything else in my life stops for, so Chain of Iron also has to get a mention. Clara O’Connor’s Once and Future Queen series I devoured in its entirety this year, and I would highly recommend it to fans of British history as it offers a very alternative spin on what life could have been like if certain things had been different. All of these books were 5* reads for me.

Which subgenre of SFF Romance do you tend to read most of and what do you love about it?

I lean more towards fantasy than sci-fi, and then more towards YA and urban fantasy than the epics (although I do love the occasional epic fantasy). I think it is the idea of there being something other, something tucked just out of sight in the world we live in that appeals more than being transported to a completely different world. I love the idea of being in the know about things that normal people, or “mundanes” as Cassandra Clare would call them in her Shadowhunter Chronicles series (one of my favourites), are totally blind to, be that magic, or vampires, or shapeshifters, or any paranormal being (not zombies, I can’t cope with zombies – are zombie romance books even a thing?). 

What was the first SFF Romance you can remember reading?

I’m not sure if everyone would consider this as SFF Romance, but for me it was Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis – the hint of romance between Susan and Caspian really had me hooked, even more so when the film was made and the delicious Ben Barnes was cast as Caspian. Then, after an interval of more years than I care to think about, it was probably the Twilight books.

What SFF Romance do you always recommend?

It depends on who I am making the recommendation to. If I know they like their romance on the spicy side, then it has to be the Blood Web Chronicles by the fabulous Caedis Knight. I love the richness of their locations, and the diverse nature of their characters, plus their covers are absolutely stunning. They are quite wild though, so for more conservative readers, I would perhaps go for something like Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy, or the spin off book, Time’s Convert.

What SFF Romance is next on your TBR pile?

I haven’t entirely decided yet, but I think it will be either ghostly romance, The Wanderer, by Josie Williams or Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco (I am hoping for some romance in this one anyway with a certain Prince of Hell). I might have to toss a coin to decide!

The other blogs taking part are shown below – head on over to read their answers to these questions.

To celebrate the launch of their podcast on 13th October, SFFRomCast have teamed up with Words & Kisses to offer a fabulous giveaway. They will be running a competition to win three book bundles and all you have to do to enter is head over to @SFFRomCast on Twitter and follow the instructions in their pinned tweet.

Book Review

Red Magnolia – Lucy Holden

Happy publication day to Lucy Holden and her fabulous YA paranormal romance, Red Magnolia, book one in the very exciting sounding Nightgarden Saga. Many thanks to Lucy for my copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley.


Decadent. Dark. Devastating. Seventeen-year-old Harper Ellory knows the ruins of the past are a dark place for a new beginning. Then she meets Antoine Marigny, and discovers just how seductive darkness can be. After the death of her twin sister, Harper dreams of a new life. But not only is the Mississippi mansion she moves into cursed, it’s also Antoine Marigny’s family home. Now he wants it back—no matter the cost.

Harper’s seen too much death to be frightened off by a curse. But Antoine is a different kind of threat. He has an infuriating smile, an annoying habit of turning up when she least expects it, and a frustrating knack for getting Harper to talk about things she’d rather keep hidden.

Like her emotions.

Antoine is also keeping secrets of his own. Secrets that Harper suspects are far darker than the curse he says he wants to protect her from.

Harper knows Antoine is dangerous. Part of her wants to take his offer and run. No dream is worth dying for.

But Harper is done running from death.

She’s ready to make an offer of her own. An offer destined to turn Antoine Marigny’s life upside down.

Even if it means binding herself to the curse forever.

Red Magnolia is the bewitching first installment of the Nightgarden Saga. A heart wrenching YA/NA paranormal romance full of Southern Gothic atmosphere, supernatural adventure, and shocking twists that will keep you turning pages deep into the night.

If you’re a fan of The Vampire Diaries, Twilight, and romance that rips your heart out, you’ll love the Nightgarden Saga. Red Magnolia is a YA/NA paranormal romance that is sweet with heat, without any explicit scenes, suitable for ages twelve and up. The first in a series of seven, it can be read as a stand alone or as part of the series.


Red Magnolia is a compelling read, which I sped through in one day because I was so hooked on it. Although it is not entirely unpredictable, it is well written and I found I was invested in the characters very quickly. I couldn’t read the book fast enough to discover what would happen to them. In my head, the mysterious Antoine Marigny was a dead ringer for Teen Wolf’s Derek Hale, which was a definite bonus for me!

I am a sucker for a good vampire book (if you’ll excuse the pun), and I absolutely loved this book. The setting is rich with history and the secrets surrounding the old Marigny house add a real gothic feel to the story.

Red Magnolia is definitely one for fans of Twilight and The Vampire Diaries. It has everything you could possibly wish for in a YA vampire book, and I am very much looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Book Review

The Life We Almost Had – Amelia Henley

Get your tissues and a stack of chocolate ready, because today I am reviewing the emotional The Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley. Many thanks to Amelia, and HQ, for providing me with a copy of the book which I received via NetGalley.


This is not a typical love story, but it’s our love story.

Anna wasn’t looking for love when Adam swept her off her feet but there was no denying their connection, and she believed they would be together forever.

Years later, cracks have appeared in their relationship. Anna is questioning whether their love can really be eternal when a cruel twist of fate delivers a crushing blow, and Anna and Adam are completely lost to one another. Now, Anna needs Adam more than ever, but the way back to him has life-changing consequences.

Is a second chance at first love really worth the sacrifice? Anna needs to decide and time is running out…

A beautiful and emotional love story that asks, how far would you go for a second chance at first love? Perfect for fans of The Man Who Didn’t Call and Miss You.



In case you didn’t already know, Amelia Henley also writes thrillers under the name Louise Jensen. As a big fan of Louise’s books, I was keen to check out her alter ego. The Life We Almost Had is about as different to these thrillers as it is possible to be, but it is just as captivating.

The instant connection between Adam and Anna was so perfect and beautiful, but knowing from the outset that somewhere something was going to go wrong meant I was reading with a sense of trepidation, my stomach full of butterflies.

Seeing how Adam viewed Anna in the early days of their relationship was a timely reminder that what we think of as our own flaws are seen from a completely different perspective by others, and are often considered our most endearing features.

The Life We Almost Had is a book that is so full of emotion that my heart actually hurt reading it. I don’t think I have cried so much at a book since reading Emma Cooper’s The Songs of Us.

Meet the Author

Jeff Pollak

First Second Coming, the debut fantasy/supernatural/romance/suspense novel by Jeff Pollak, was released on 1st August. Prior to it’s release, I sat down for a virtual chat with Jeff, and I am delighted to be able to share this with you all today. Let’s jump straight in, and then I will share all the important information about the book with you all.

FSC - eBook Final Cover

What was the inspiration behind First Second Comings?

When 9/11 occurred, I watched the World Trade Tower collapse just as everyone else did. Of course, I was horrified by the spectacle. Perhaps more so than others, because I had connections to that building. Born and raised in New York City, I’d been in the building a few times as a child. In my adult years, my law firm would hold annual seminars in the Top of the Tower conference centre every May, to update our New York/New Jersey corporate clients about California law and important appellate decisions. As a partner in the firm I’d function as a speaker, a panelist, or just a meet-and-greet guy. I had some clients in the building and gotten to know some of the conference centre’s staff. So the collapse was very hard to watch – some people I knew in that building didn’t survive, I later learned. That day a random thought came to me, that this planet really needs a new god, someone who is a planetary turnaround specialist. Some fourteen years later, when I’d decided to spend my future retirement writing fiction, the concept of a character who is a planetary turnaround deity came back to me as the seed of a story. I developed it and First Second Coming is the result.

What are your favourite books as a reader?

My all-time favorite books? I’ll break it down by genre.  Historical fiction: James Clavell’s Shogun and Tai-Pan novels. Also Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth and Iain Pears’ An Instance of the Fingerpost. Fantasy: Tolkien’s Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  Science Fiction: Frank Herbert’s Dune and Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Thriller/Suspense: Tom Clancy’s Hunt for Red October and John LeCarre’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Horror: Stephen King’s The Stand. Magical Realism: Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 and David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks. Non-fiction: Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin about Abraham Lincoln’s Civil War Cabinet, and Simon Winchester’s Atlantic about that little pond that separates England from the U.S.A.

Which authors inspire you as a writer? Is there a particular author who it would make your day to be compared to?

At the moment the authors who inspire me the most are, in no particular order, Iain Pears, David Mitchell, Haruki Murakami and Daniel Silva. The first Pears book I read, An Instance of the Fingerpost, is told from the point of view of four different individuals. Each POV character narrates the same events entirely differently, leaving the reader amazed that the story  comes together. Pears is a master at that sort of intricate plotting and character development. As for Mitchell, the man’s off the charts as a writer. Incredible talent. I don’t read his books, I savor every sentence in them, especially The Bone Clocks. As for Murakami, I started with 1Q84 and it was a revelation. Something different in its Japanese setting, in the richness of the details of both the real world and the alternative world he creates, and in the uniqueness of the story. Finally, Silva – he writes espionage thrillers along the lines of LeCarre or Follett. Silva’s ongoing series of about twenty books now all involve Israeli Mossad spy Gabriel Allon. Silva’s books are a bit formulaic, but he often incorporates real world events into the story and he has a conciseness to his writing style that I try to emulate in my writing. At this point in my development as a writer, being compared to Silva would probably make my day as I’m not yet at the “master writer” level of a Pears, Mitchell or Murakami. I aspire to get that good, though.

What did you learn over the course of writing First Second Comings that you wish you had known before you started?

Good question. I was learning the craft while I wrote, so I suppose the short answer is “everything.” I attended writers conferences, participated in critique groups, did online courses and researched answers to the “how to” things that came up. If there’s one thing that stands out that I didn’t learn but instead experienced, it’s getting so close to your characters that they actually talk to you unbidden (in your head) while you write. The first time my female main character, Brendali Santamaria, started talking to me I pretty much freaked out. I wasn’t expecting that and didn’t know this is a fairly common occurrence in the writing world. She’d tell me what was actually going on in the story, as differentiated from what my outline said was happening. I enjoyed hearing from her before long. Her romance with Ram Forrester, for example, wasn’t something I had planned to include in the story – but it happened and is now a major piece of First Second Coming.

Do you have a regular writing routine? If you do, what does it look like?

I do now, yes, but while writing most of First Second Coming I’d write as time allowed, around my work and family obligations. Now, as a retiree and empty-nester, I have plenty of free time. I do most of my work in the morning, from about 5:30 to 11:30, taking breaks for exercise and to get showered and dressed. In the afternoons I’ll hike for an hour or so, do any errands or chores that need doing, and write or edit as time permits. I don’t write in the evening, leaving that time for reading or other leisurely pursuits.

Do you have a plan in mind for your next book?

I’ve begun writing the second book in the “New God” series, or to put it another way, the sequel to First Second Coming. I’m also doing research for it and writing a novel that will be a spin-off from the series but not part of it. All those things – the two novels and the research – are in the start-up stages. I hope to have a first draft done on at least one of the two novels by year end.

Thanks so much Jeff, for taking the time to talk to me. Now, onto the all important blurb!


In 2027 the deity known as NTG – short for New Testament God – retires after more than two thousand years of minding the store for his employer, Milky Way Galaxy, Inc. The new god, a planetary turnaround specialist, must decide whether the Earth’s dominant species should or should  not be included in his plan to bring the planet back into full compliance with Milky Way Galaxy, Inc.’s planetary operation standards.

Earth’s new God introduces himself to humanity by unexpectedly appearing on the Ram Forrester Hour talk show. Ram, an atheist, and co-host Brendali Santamaris, a devout Catholic, are stunned. God’s interview, beamed worldwide, shocks and infuriates viewers. They learn that a sixty-day conference will take place in Los Angeles to determine whether humans are capable of helping him implement his planetary turnaround plan. All that those in attendance must do to assure that mankind earns a coveted spot in this God’s good graces is eliminate religious violence forever, without his heavenly help, before the conference ends. Failure means extinction.

God designates Ram and Bren as the conference’s only authorized media reporters. This assignment, fraught with peril, ignites their romance. Not only must the harried couple attend the conference meetings by day and do their show at night, they must also outwit a group of religious fanatics bent on killing them. When conflicts with the conference intensify, it’s up to Ram and Bren to do whatever it takes to protect their budding romance and assure mankind’s survival.


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Photoshoot - BlueJeff Pollak, the author of First Second Coming and sequels to come, was raised in the Riverdale section of the Bronx by a single mom and two grandparents who lived eight floors up. After graduating from college in Buffalo, Jeff headed west to Los Angeles for law school and spent his entire legal career in and around civil litigation. Now retired, writing fiction is Jeff’s new passion.






Thanks again Jeff, for taking the time to talk to me. I think this sounds like a fascinating book and I am very much looking forward to reading it.

Book Review

Lie With Me – Philippe Besson

Today’s review is of the exquisite Lie With Me by Philippe Besson, translated from French by Molly Ringwald (yes, THAT Molly Ringwald). Many thanks to Penguin Books for my copy of the book which I received via NetGalley.


The award-winning, bestselling French novel by Philippe Besson about an affair between two teenage boys in 1984 France, translated with subtle beauty and haunting lyricism by the iconic and internationally acclaimed actress/writer Molly Ringwald.

We drive at high speed along back roads, through woods, vineyards, and oat fields. The bike smells like gasoline and makes a lot of noise, and sometimes I’m frightened when the wheels slip on the gravel on the dirt road, but the only thing that matters is that I’m holding on to him, that I’m holding on to him outside.

Just outside a hotel in Bordeaux, Philippe chances upon a young man who bears a striking resemblance to his first love. What follows is a look back at the relationship he’s never forgotten, a hidden affair with a gorgeous boy named Thomas during their last year of high school. Without ever acknowledging they know each other in the halls, they steal time to meet in secret, carrying on a passionate, world-altering affair.

Dazzlingly rendered in English by Ringwald in her first-ever translation, Besson’s powerfully moving coming-of-age story captures the eroticism and tenderness of first love—and the heartbreaking passage of time.



Lie With Me is the touching story of two young men on the cusp of adulthood, knowing that they are headed in very different directions. It isn’t a long book, but the depth of emotion it captures is wonderful.

In Thomas, we are presented with a character who is extremely reticent, and it feels like you never really get to know him, except perhaps through the eyes of his son, and I wonder if this reflects Philippe’s own thoughts on how well he really knew Thomas.

Philippe himself is a romantic soul, and this is echoed in the beautiful language in which the book is written. He is a young man who finds his own sexuality intriguing, and rather than being concerned about being considered different from his peers, he revels in this difference, happy to not be one of the pack – although this being 1980s France, he understands the wisdom in not announcing it to the world.

Lie With Me is presented as a novel, and throughout the book, the narrator, also a writer called Philippe, born in Barbezieux, takes pains to stress that he writes only fiction. However, the book reads as a memoir, and with many of the fictional Philippe’s books mirroring the titles of the author’s, you are left wondering just how much of Lie With Me is fiction and how much is fact.

I have read books translated from French before, but something has always seemed to be lacking, and the emotion of the book hasn’t always carried through. In Lie With Me, Molly Ringwald has created a beautiful, lyrical translation that flows so wonderfully and is overflowing with emotion.

Lie With Me isn’t a book filled with great drama and thrilling moments. Instead it is a beautiful coming of age story, and an exquisite love letter to a long lost love, perfect in its simplicity.


199634In 1999, Besson, who was a jurist at that time, was inspired to write his first novel, In the Absence of Men, while reading some accounts of ex-servicemen of the First World War. The novel won the Emmanuel-Roblès prize.

L’Arrière-saison, published in 2002, won the Grand Prix RTL-Lire 2003. Un garçon d’Italie was nominated for the Goncourt and the Médicis prizes.

Seeing that his works aroused so much interest, Philippe Besson then decided to dedicate himself exclusively to his writing.