The Last Day by Andrew Hunter Murray @andrewhunterm #CornerstoneDigital #PenguinRandomHouse #NewRelease #BookReview #TheLastDay



2059. The world has stopped turning.

One half suffers an endless frozen night; the other, nothing but burning sun.

Only in a slim twilit region can life survive.

In an isolationist Britain, Ellen Hopper receives a letter from a dying man.

It contains a powerful and dangerous secret.

One that those in power will kill to conceal…


The Last Day


The Year is 2059 and most of our planet is dead, along with the majority of the population. The big shock for me had been that we hadn’t been the cause of the world disaster that had happened but there was time for us still to mess up and finish the job, we are far from being fast learners.

Britain had survived while almost half the plant sat in frozen darkness permanently while almost the other half was in the permanent scorching sun after the earth stopped rotating. Ellen Hooper worked off the coast on the oil rigs testing and gathering water and fish samples that could give some indication to how long the world could survive and sustain the ones that were left.

Ellen isn’t a people person, with no-one she calls a friend and family she rarely sees. When the rare sight of a helicopter arrives, it is for her. Two officials require her to return to the mainland and talk to her former university lecturer and mentor who is dying. All very strange.

The author creates a land where technology is a thing of the past, rationing is a way of life and a heavy-handed government that can do little to control the population that is left. Britain had been to go to place after the disaster, making the small island overcrowded and unsustainable.

The story turns into one of espionage and political thriller as the race to find something that could change world history again but those that don’t have it don’t know where it is and those that do don’t know what it is. The clock is ticking and the race is on.

A brilliant storyline with strong characters, shocking but not unbelievable. Liked the end, there could be another book someday.

I wish to thank NetGalley and the publisher for an e-copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.


Andrew Hunter Murray

I’m Andrew Hunter Murray, a writer and journalist from London. My first novel is published in February 2020 – it’s a thriller set in a world which has spun to a halt, bringing civilisation to the brink of collapse. It’s called The Last Day – I hope you like the sound of it.

Outside my work writing fiction, I work for the TV show QI, as one of the ‘Elves’ finding out Quite Interesting facts about everything under the sun. I also co-host the podcast No Such Thing As A Fish, and write jokes and journalism for Private Eye, the UK’s leading satirical magazine. No Such Thing As A Fish has also led to a spin-off TV series, No Such Thing As The News, and three books co-written with my colleagues on the show – the Book Of The Year, The Book Of The Year 2018, and the Book Of The Year 2019.

I live in London, in a small flat with large bookshelves, and I’m already working away on the next novel idea…


Twitter: @andrewhunterm


The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright by Beth Miller @drbethmiller @bookouture #NetGalley #BookReview #TheMissingLettersOfMrsBright

The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright: An absolutely unputdownable feel good novel about love, loss and taking chances by [Miller, Beth]


Sometimes it takes losing something to see where you truly belong.

For the past twenty-nine years, Kay Bright’s days have had a familiar rhythm: she works in her husband’s stationery shop hoping to finally sell the legendary gold pen, cooks for her family, tries to remember to practise yoga, and every other month she writes to her best friend, Ursula. Kay could set her calendar by their letters: her heart lifts when the blue airmail envelope, addressed in Ursula’s slanting handwriting, falls gently onto the mat.

But now Ursula has stopped writing and everything is a little bit worse.

Ursula is the only one who knows Kay’s deepest secret, something that happened decades ago that could tear Kay’s life apart today. She has always been the person Kay relies on.

Worried, Kay gets out her shoebox of Ursula’s letters and as she reads, her unease starts to grow. And then at ten o’clock in the morning, Kay walks out of her yellow front door with just a rucksack, leaving her wedding ring on the table…


The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright: An absolutely unputdownable feel good novel about love, loss and taking chances


The day that Kay walked out on her husband after 29 years, wasn’t because anything happened, it was more because nothing ever happened. Life was just one safe day after another of doing the same thing every day. They never went anywhere but something had changed.

Kay and her old school friend Bear had written to each other as regular as clockwork after Bear had gone to Australia with her family at 15. But for a couple of months, there had been nothing. Kay found a list among the letters that she had written years ago. ‘Things to do before I am 30’ but she had only done one of those, she had a baby. Now in her fifties, she was going to rewrite her list and live some.

Although this is a sort of journey of discovery for Kay everyone seemed to make it their tragedy. Her husband was hopeless, her daughter a hilarious pessimist and son was laying low. Mostly the story follows Kay and her daughter Stella as they both have major changes going on in their lives.

Kay conquers mountains, travels to the other side of the world and finds that you have to live for today because tomorrow may never come. I loved Stella from the first page she materialised on she just made me laugh so much. It isn’t a book about losing love it is a book about embracing and appreciating living in the moment and looking back with a fuzzy feeling for what you have had. Beautiful characters, wonderful friends and new beginnings.

I wish to thank NetGalley and the publisher for an e-copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.


Beth Miller

I have been told that I write like a tall blonde, so that’s how I’d like you to picture me.

I’ve published four novels. The most recent came out in January 2020. I’ve also published two non-fiction books. I work as a book coach and creative writing tutor.

Before writing books, I did a lot of different jobs. I worked in schools, shops, offices, hospitals, students’ unions, basements, from home, in my car, and up a tree. OK, not up a tree. I’ve been a sexual health trainer, a journalist, a psychology lecturer, a PhD student, a lousy alcohol counsellor, and an inept audio-typist. I sold pens, bread, and condoms. Not in the same shop. I taught parents how to tell if their teenagers are taking drugs (clue: they act like teenagers), and taught teenagers how to put on condoms (clue: there won’t really be a cucumber). I taught rabbis how to tell if their teenagers are druggedly putting condoms on cucumbers.

Throughout this, I always wrote, and always drank a lot of tea. I’m now pretty much unbeatable at drinking tea.


Twitter: @drbethmiller

The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright: An absolutely unputdownable feel good novel about love, loss and taking chances by [Miller, Beth]


The Wreckage by Robin Morgan-Bentley @rmorganbentley @TrapezeBooks @tr4cyf3nt0n #TheWreckage #BlogTour #NewRelease

Firstly I wish to thank Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting me on the Blog Tour for The Wreckage by Robin Morgan-Bentley


One of The Times ‘Best New Crime Fiction’ picks

‘A thrilling, creepy climax and a double-whammy twist. A more than promising debut.’ – THE TIMES

‘A twist I never saw coming, and a male main character with insecurity and vulnerability – I’ve never met anyone like him in a thriller before.’ – Rosamund Lupton

‘Creepy and compelling’ – PETER JAMES

Things will never be the same again…

Ben is driving on the motorway, on his usual commute to the school where he works.

A day like any other, except for Adam, who in a last despairing act jumps in front of Ben’s car, and in killing himself, turns the teacher’s world upside down.

Wracked with guilt and desperate to clear his conscience, Ben develops a friendship with Alice, Adam’s widow, and her 7-year-old son Max.

But as he tries to escape the trauma of the wreckage, could Ben go too far in trying to make amends?

Gripping and sinister, The Wreckage is guaranteed to keep you up all night…


The Wreckage: The gripping new thriller that everyone is talking about


Ben is on his way to work one morning when a man runs out in front of his car. Ben isn’t a fast driver but I am talking motorway here. Ben is devastated but gets a glimmer of hope when he hears that the man, Adam, is in hospital.

Ben has to see for himself but he learns from Adam’s wife that it doesn’t look good for a recovery. Alice and Adam form a friendship and he begins to slowly get to know Adam and Alice’s seven-year-old son Max. When Adam’s life support is turned off Ben makes a decision that will alter all of their lives.

Now from the get-go, there is something just not normal about the whole set up, especially when I got into their minds. The story tackles so many issues. Suicide, bi-polar, bereavement, abuse and obsession. So many of these are products of each other in the story. It is a slow build throughout the book but I still had to read as my feelings for the characters become distorted and reformed. The last quarter of the book changed everything.

What I really liked about the story was it is set in an affluent area, the best school, a beautiful home and no money worries. Mental illness can hit anyone, it doesn’t pick the poor, anyone can be affected and abuse isn’t contained between council housing walls. It is easy to step back and see how a friendship could develop between Alice and Ben, neither of them had friends.

There are some quite dark issues in the story, disturbing, shocking and very shudder worthy, and the end ……………………………

I wish to thank NetGalley and the publisher for an e-copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.


Born in London in 1987, Robin Morgan-Bentley has been making up stories since he was very little. After graduating from Cambridge University with a First Class degree in Modern and Medieval Languages, he worked at Google in London, Madrid and New York.

Since 2014, he has worked with authors and actors at Audible. For the Audible Sessions podcast, he has interviewed many thriller writers, and it was his conversations with them that inspired him to start writing his stories down. Robin lives in north London with his husband, Pauly.

Robin’s debut psychological thriller, The Wreckage, will be released on February 6th 2020.


Twitter: @rmorganbentley




Law and Addiction by Mike Papantonio @americaslawyer @FSBassociates #LawAndAddiction #NetGalley #BookReview

Firstly I wish to thank Michelle Fitzgerald of FSB Associates for inviting me to read and review Law and Addiction by Mike Papantonio

Law and Addiction by [Papantonio, Mike]


One week before his law school graduation, Jake Rutledge is shattered. His fraternal twin, Blake, has died of a drug overdose. When Jake returns to his hometown of Oakley, West Virginia, he discovers that his brother was not the only person hooked on opioid painkillers. The entire region has been ravaged by an epidemic insidiously planned and carried out by one of America’s most powerful pharmaceutical companies.

Still wet behind the ears, Jake is determined to seek justice for all the victims of Big Pharma’s greed. He soon learns that the drug companies’ tentacles reach far and deep. His only hope is to get Nicholas “Deke” Deketomis to help. A partner at one of the country’s most powerful law firms, Deke’s “as tough as a two-dollar steak” and well-known for his winning tactics against corporate wrongdoers. With just enough persistence, Jake coaxes Deke to see Oakley’s devastation firsthand. Overwhelmed, Deke agrees to join forces with Jake.

And that’s when the real heat begins. Death threats, bribes, unlawful property seizure schemes – all are connected to the massive distribution of both legal and illegal drugs. Everyone is impacted, from the highest levels of corporate America to corrupt local officials to their lackeys and hapless victims. The complexity of the schemes is overwhelming.

Working tirelessly, the lawyers begin to uncover the truth. Along the way, Jake falls in love with Anna Fowler, a former homecoming queen who has succumbed to the power of opioids. With his support, she weans herself off the drugs. Hope begins to bloom — when suddenly, Jake disappears. As Deke undertakes a desperate search to find him, questions swirl. Has Jake abandoned Anna and his crusade? Can the case against the evildoers move forward without him? Will Oakley and its residents survive? Law and Addiction is real-life drama at its finest — a book that clears away the darkness page by page, spotlighting a profound truth about our society through expert storytelling.


Law and Addiction


Before I read this book I checked the author out. Mike Papantonio is one of the good guys that make a difference as he battles the big ‘untouchable’ companies through the courts that put profit before people. I instantly liked this man and as I read his book I knew why he is so darn good at his job. He knows how to connect with ordinary people. This is his third book, my first, and he has gained another follower in me.

The main characters that he writes about have a warmth about them that is instantly likeable. Jake is like that, one week before he graduates as a lawyer he is called home because his twin Blake had died of an overdose. From the first meeting with Jake, it was like I could feel that a part of him was missing and he would never be the same again. While he has been away his home town had succumbed to the quick fix doctor prescriptions of wonder pills that cured all ailments. Within months people were hooked on them. The death toll from overdoses across all the states hit a record high and was still climbing while the pharmaceutical companies produced more. Jake was determined to make them take responsibility.

The story has heart, it has courage and danger, everything a good fiction story needs. Besides Jake, one of my favourite characters has to be Deke. Deke was a top-notch lawyer that Jake inspired to be like. Clever, witty and successful, he had fought and won huge lawsuits against the giants that used people like fodder to feed their bank balances.

A brilliant storyline that gets a point across in a way people will remember. Highly recommended.

I wish to thank NetGalley and the publisher for an e-copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.


Mike Papantonio

Mike Papantonio is a truth-teller, a crusader who uses fiction to entertain and inform his readers about some of the most pressing issues of our time. In each of his thrillers, from Law And Disorder to Law And Vengeance, and now Law And Addiction, he lays bare the conspiracies and white-collar crimes that hurt ordinary Americans ― and that are rarely covered by the national media.

A senior partner of Levin Papantonio, one of the country’s largest plaintiffs’ law firms, Papantonio uses his own cases as springboards for his novels. He has aggressively taken on Big Pharma, tobacco, weapon manufacturer, and the automobile industry, among other bastions of corporate greed.

One of the youngest inductees into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame, Papantonio is also a well- known media presence as host of America’s Lawyer on the RT America television network and co-host of the syndicated radio show Ring of Fire. A skilled musician and athlete, he is based in Pensacola, Florida.


Twitter: @americaslawyer

Law and Addiction by [Papantonio, Mike]

Cold Fusion 2000 by Karl Drinkwater @karldrinkwater @BOTBSPUBLICITY #BlogTour #BookReivew

Firstly I wish to thank Sarah Hardy of Book On The Bright Side Publicity and Promo for inviting me on the Blog Tour for Cold Fusion 2000 by Karl Drinkwater

Cold Fusion 2000 (Manchester Summer Book 1) by [Drinkwater, Karl]


Alex Kavanagh is a pedantic physics geek – a teacher who hates teaching, a lover who’s always getting dumped, a writer whose articles all get rejected, a 28-year-old still living at home and bullied at the bus stop by teenagers – and he’s just had the worst day of his life. Things can only get better, right?

Enter his ex, Lucy, in what seems to be a chance meeting. Her betrayal marked the point when his life went nuclear. But – holy protons! – he still loves her.

Two problems. First, she isn’t who he thinks she is. Second, she’s going to leave him forever in 72 hours.

Cold Fusion 2000 is a haunting novel about a man who’s too rational to believe in ghosts and too short-sighted to see what was in front of him all along.


Cold Fusion 2000 (Manchester Summer Book 1)


Alex, at 28, has a disastrous love life behind him and a life that he hates. A total geek, a teacher that knows his subject inside out but struggles to really connect with either his colleagues or students and an immaturity about him that made me really cringe. He is childish with his teenage sister and still lives at home with some pretty unusual characters coming and going whenever they want. Then the unexpected happens Lucy the love of his life pops back up again.

Since Lucy walked out on him, he seems to have been stuck in a rut, he had struggled with the opposite sex more than anything. Not your typical bloke at that age. Really read every sentence because there will be that nanosecond every so often that your brain kicks in and with a ‘what was that’ and ‘that can’t be right’ thought. Well, listen to it. What a clever author, digest every sentence and store everything.

The more the story evolved and the more I softened to Alex who knew the Lucy of old so very well, even after all this time. Her thoughts and the intimacies that he had relived so many times. This is such a beaut of a storyline, go with your feelings and go with Alex’s. Brilliant!

I wish to thank Book on the Bright Side Publicity and Promo for an e-copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.



Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but lived in Wales for twenty years, and now calls Scotland his home. He’s a full-time author, edits fiction for other writers, and was a professional librarian for over twenty-five years. He has degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science.

He writes in multiple genres: his aim is always just to tell a good story. Among his books you’ll find elements of literary and contemporary fiction, gritty urban, horror, suspense, paranormal, thriller, sci-fi, romance, social commentary, and more. The end result is interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.

When he isn’t writing he loves exercise, guitars, computer and board games, the natural environment, animals, social justice, cake, and zombies. Not necessarily in that order.








Are You Watching by Vincent Ralph @VincentRalph1 @PenguinUKBooks #AreYouWatching #NewRelease #NetGalley #BookReview


A page-turning new YA thriller for the social media age, perfect for fans of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder and One Of Us Is Lying.

Ten years ago, Jess’s mother was murdered by the Magpie Man.

She was the first of his victims, but not the last.

Now Jess is the star of a YouTube reality series and she’s using it to catch the killer once and for all.

The whole world is watching her every move.

And so is the Magpie Man.


Are You Watching?


When 17-year-old Jess applies to be part of a reality series on YouTube she is delighted to get chosen as one of the final 5, each having one day each week where every move they make is monitored and put outlive. The one with the most followers at the end of the first month gets the opportunity to carry on for a further two months. Each has a reason for wanting that air time, for Jess it is to catch the man who murdered her mum ten years ago and has carried on murdering ever since.

This is a super Y A read as it centres around six form, social media and finding that balance between parents and children growing up and learning to back off and when to be there for each other. Jess’s dad is naturally more edgy than most at letting go but he knows that she is a young woman. Jess goes all out to taunt the killer out of the woodwork and did I cringe.

Vincent Ralph has definitely got a home run with this book as he ticks all the boxes to connect with that generation. He creates more than one hero for readers to get behind while at the same time raise the tension enough to snuggle more under the duvet. It has that scary movie feel about it, those jump at moments that come to nothing while as a reader I want to shout he’s behind you. A brilliant round-up at the end, darn I was so close!

I wish to thank NetGalley and the publisher for an e-copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.


Vincent Ralph has been writing in one form or another since his teens and always dreamed of being a novelist. He owes his love of books to his mother, who encouraged his imagination from an early age and made sure there were new stories to read.

Vincent has lived in London, Cornwall and Chester but he now lives in his home county of Kent with his wife, son and two cats.


Twitter: @VincentRalph1


Saving Missy by Beth Morrey @BethMorrey @HarperFiction #SavingMissy #NetGalley #NewRelease #BookReview

Saving Missy: 2020’s most astonishing debut by [Morrey, Beth]


Prickly. Stubborn. Terribly lonely.
But everyone deserves a second chance…

A dazzling debut for 2020 – are you ready to meet Missy Carmichael?

Missy Carmichael’s life has become small.

Grieving for a family she has lost or lost touch with, she’s haunted by the echoes of her footsteps in her empty home; the sound of the radio in the dark; the tick-tick-tick of the watching clock.

Spiky and defensive, Missy knows that her loneliness is all her own fault. She deserves no more than this; not after what she’s done. But a chance encounter in the park with two very different women opens the door to something new.

Another life beckons for Missy, if only she can be brave enough to grasp the opportunity. But seventy-nine is too late for a second chance. Isn’t it?

’Bittersweet, tender, thoughtful and uplifting … I loved it’ Nina Stibbe


Saving Missy: 2020’s most astonishing debut


There had been a time when all Missy yearned for were peace and quiet and nowadays that is what she hates the most. Missy had lived a full life, married with two children to keep her busy but her son had moved to Australia, with her only grandson and her daughter was estranged with her. Her husband was no longer there either so the huge family house, where she had felt she couldn’t get a minute to herself now filled her day with emptiness hour after hour.

At 79 she rarely ventured out and when she did she kept herself to herself. That was until that day came that she just had to get out, so off she went to the park. This was the day that changed her life.

What a super story of friendships, bonds and living life no matter how old you are. The chance meeting, along with an unexpected event and a terrifying ordeal for Missy leads to a very faithful relationship with something new in her life. The grumpy old lady that had been stewing in old age was given a new lease of life. She was helped to see life through new eyes, other peoples views and the reasons why they did something was not to hurt her. The years seemed to drop away from her as she found reasons to get up in the morning.

A beautifully told story about being part of a big world, not the world just being you. Super ending. Brilliant debut.

I wish to thank NetGalley and the publisher for an e-copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.


Beth Morrey

I’m a TV producer by trade. For a long time I worked at RDF Television, where I helped create The Secret Life of Four Year Olds series on Channel 4 and devised 100 Year Old Drivers for ITV.

I’ve been trying to write a novel since my early 20s, when I wrote a spin-off from Mary Poppins called Sister Suffragette, which was all about Winifred Banks’ adventures when she wasn’t at home singing. It’s probably for the best that it’s still in a drawer somewhere.

Saving Missy is my first full-length novel, and I wrote it on maternity leave, inspired by the people I met while I was walking my dog in the park.

In my spare time I enjoy running, cooking curries, admiring my dog every day and Christmas once a year.


Twitter: @BethMorrey


Saving Missy: 2020’s most astonishing debut by [Morrey, Beth]

Perfect Kill (D.I. Callanach #6) by Helen Fields @Helen_Fields @AvonBooksUK #NewRelease #BookReview #NetGalley

Perfect Kill: the next gripping thriller from the best selling author of Perfect Crime (A DI Callanach Thriller, Book 6) by [Fields, Helen]


He had never heard himself scream before. It was terrifying.

Alone, trapped in the darkness and with no way out, Bart Campbell knows that his chances of being found alive are slim.

Drugged and kidnapped, the realisation soon dawns that he’s been locked inside a shipping container far from his Edinburgh home. But what Bart doesn’t yet know is that he’s now heading for France where his unspeakable fate is already sealed…

DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach are working on separate cases that soon collide as it becomes clear that the men and women being shipped to France are being traded for women trafficked into Scotland.

With so many lives at stake, they face an impossible task – but there’s no option of failure when Bart and so many others will soon be dead…

Get ready for a rollercoaster ride like no other, with the next gripping thriller from the number one bestselling crime author, Helen Fields. The perfect read for fans of M. J. Arlidge and Karin Slaughter.


Perfect Kill: the next gripping thriller from the best selling author of Perfect Crime (A DI Callanach Thriller, Book 6)


This is one petrifying story that I couldn’t leave alone as it felt like it would be front-page news for real by tomorrow. I was just gutted that I am coming into this series so far down the line though as you may guess this is a bloody beauty.

There had been something big kicking off in the previous book which had caused DCI Luc Callanach to leave Edinburgh and the Major Investigation Team and move to France to work with a former colleague in Interpol. Back in Edinburgh his ex-lover and boss DCI Ava Turner is facing the problem of two healthy men and a woman disappearing under very suspicious circumstances. Sometimes fate just won’t let you keep apart, with the major cases that both Callanach and Turner are working on being woven together, if lives are to be saved they will have to put differences behind them.

There are two huge international cases going on and the author ensures that you become emotionally invested in both equally. When the body of a healthy young man is discovered the family have to be informed of his death and the terrible things that have happened to him. It is pure heartbreaking and horrific. My mind just swam with anger and grief for them but as the story continued it made me more frightful for the ones that were still alive. My connection to them felt so more intense and personal for them and what it would do to their families.  Totally wicked writing, hook line and sinker.

Then when I thought that human trafficking couldn’t possibly get any worse back home it took to an even darker path. This book just moved so incredibly fast, darting from one storyline to the next, it was every suspense thriller reader’s heaven. The bad guys were from hell and the victims resigned to it could be the last day for any one of them.

Callanach and Turner come together in spectacular fashion and are an utter dream to read about. Turners sassy I don’t give a damn I am going to have you slimebag attitude is just sheer bliss that I was salivating at. There were some pretty bad situations that she just had me crack up on and laugh. It should be illegal for her and Callanach ever to be apart.

This is a full-on top-notch read with action, fear and gutsy detectives. Can’t recommend it enough!!!!

I wish to thank NetGalley and the publisher for an e-copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.


Helen Fields

An international and Amazon #1 best-selling author, Helen is a former criminal and family law barrister. Every book in the Callanach series claimed an Amazon #1 bestseller flag. Her next book, the sixth in the series, ‘Perfect Kill’ is due out on 6 February 2020. Helen also writes as HS Chandler, and last year released legal thriller ‘Degrees of Guilt’. Her previous audio book ‘Perfect Crime’ knocked Michelle Obama off the #1 spot. Translated into 15 languages, and also selling in the USA, Canada & Australasia, Helen’s books have won global recognition. Her first historical thriller ‘These Lost & Broken Things’ comes out in May 2020. A further standalone thriller published by HarperColllins will come soon. She currently commutes between Hampshire, Scotland and California, where she lives with her husband and three children. Helen can be found on Twitter @Helen_Fields for up to date news and information or at


Twitter: @Helen_Fields


Perfect Kill: the next gripping thriller from the best selling author of Perfect Crime (A DI Callanach Thriller, Book 6) by [Fields, Helen]

A Bit of a Stretch (The Diaries of A Prisoner) by Chris Atkins @scatatkins @AtlanticBooks #ABitOfAStretch #BookReview #NewRelease #PrisonLife #NetGalley

A Bit of a Stretch: The Diaries of a Prisoner by [Atkins, Chris]


‘Funny, shocking and powerful.’ The Secret Barrister
‘Fabulous. A must-read insight into why prison doesn’t work.’ Jon Snow

Where can a tin of tuna buy you clean clothes? Where is it easier to get ‘spice’ than paracetamol? Where does self-harm barely raise an eyebrow?

Welcome to Her Majesty’s Prison Service. Like most people, documentary-maker Chris Atkins didn’t spend much time thinking about prisons. But after becoming embroiled in a dodgy scheme to fund his latest film, he was sent down for five years. His new home would be HMP Wandsworth, one of the largest and most dysfunctional prisons in Europe.

With a cast of characters ranging from wily drug dealers to senior officials bent on endless reform, this powerful memoir uncovers the horrifying reality behind the locked gates. Filled with dark humour and shocking stories, A Bit of a Stretch reveals why our creaking prison system is sorely costing us all.


A Bit of a Stretch: The Diaries of a Prisoner


Chris Atkins was sentenced to serve five years in Wandsworth Prison in 2016 after being found guilty of tax evasion. For good behaviour, he was expected to serve just half that time. Although there have been umpteen documentaries about our prison system in the past, you always feel like certain situations have been staged. Chris by trade was a documentary maker and so over his time spent inside he kept a journal of day to day life there.

Now Chris does have a wicked humour which helps to lighten some of the grim reading and to be honest, inhumane conditions and red tape rules that are both costly and pointless but the message sank in. The prison system is shot, in need of more prison officers, better living standards and at least basic needs being met. What they have is 23 hours a day lockdowns and family becoming a thing of the past. I mean yes punish someone for their crime but don’t break them ruin them and turn them back out on the street without support.

Chris had been part of the privileged culture on the outside which had in many ways transferred with him on the inside. This even determined where you lived in there? Yes, you still have your ‘Park Street’ and ‘old Kent Road’ scenario, which could make life bearable or suicidal. When government officials haven’t a clue what hope is there? It doesn’t need a committee to talk about it for two years to come up with solutions it needs people to go in day after day until it is sorted.

This account from Chris should make the smelly stuff really hit the fan. I hope the right people listen.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.


Chris Atkins

Chris is best known as a documentary maker. His 2007 debut feature, Taking Liberties, was a Michael Moore inspired documentary castigating the Blair government for undermining civil liberties as part of the war against terror. The film played in dozens of cinemas across the UK, got very strong reviews and was nominated for a film BAFTA in 2008. Chris also wrote an accompanying book, also called Taking Liberties, which was published alongside the film.

His next film, Starsuckers, took aim at the celebrity obsessed media. The documentary became famous for selling fake celebrity stories to the tabloids, engineering a reverse undercover sting on red top hacks, and secretly filming Max Clifford boasting about covering up his clients’ sexual indiscretions. The film made the front page of The Guardian two days running, and faced down legal challenges from the News of The World, Clifford and Bob Geldof. The film premiered at the 2009 London Film Festival, was shown on Channel 4 several times, and was screened to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.

Chris has also made several notorious TV current affairs films. He spent most of 2011 undercover, secretly filming corrupt private detectives who were running a black market in private information, which became a Dispatches special for Channel 4 – Watching the Detectives. He made another Dispatches special in 2013 – Celebs Brands and Fake Fans – and tricked a slew of Coronation Street stars into plugging fake products on social media. This sting made the front of The Sun and The Mirror, leading ITV to threaten to sue Channel 4. Later that year Chris investigated bad practise in big charities for BBC Panorama, and revealed that Comic Relief was secretly investing millions in alcohol, arms and tobacco companies. The film kicked up a huge press storm, forcing Comic Relief to sell its “sin stocks” and got Chris his 3rd BAFTA nomination.

In 2015 Chris wrote and directed a fiction film imagining what would happen if UKIP actually won that year’s general election. “UKIP: The First 100 Days” was broadcast on Channel 4, and led to an incendiary reaction from UKIP supporters who lodged over 6000 complaints with Ofcom, making it one of the most complained about TV dramas of all time.

In 2016 he was prosecuted for his involvement in an illegal tax scheme, which was used to fund his film Starsuckers. He was convicted in Southwark Crown court, along with several other defendants, and sentenced to five years imprisonment. He spent the first nine months of his sentence at HMP Wandsworth, and kept a detailed diary of his experiences. These have since been written up into a book, A Bit of a Stretch, which was the subject of a seven publisher bidding war when he was released in 2019. The book is due for publiction on the 6th February 2020, and has already won praise from The Secret Barrister, Jon Snow, Mark Thomas and John Niven.

He is now back in North London working on a music documentary, and making a podcast series about prison life.


Twitter: @scatatkins

A Bit of a Stretch: The Diaries of a Prisoner by [Atkins, Chris]

She Ran Away From Love by Mawson @MawsonBear #BookReview #SheRanAwayFromLove


The Light of Love pours down on Frilly. It shines so brightly that she quails and runs away.  Upset with herself for feeling scared, she wakes her good friend Mawson and pours out her confusions. She wants to learn how to be bold and is convinced that she can do this by going on a quest.  With muddled help from Mawson she sets off into the great Out There. But is a quest to find oneself really the answer?


She Ran Away From Love


This is the second beautifully illustrated book by Mawson that is set out like a child’s book but is aimed at adults that are finding certain areas of life difficult to cope with. This book deals with love.

Mawson is the wisest bear of them all but he still doesn’t know all the answers to life’s problems but he is always there to support his friends when they need reassurance. Each page brings with it lovely scenes that have been created in photos of Mawson and Frilly in different settings.

The text is minimal, a question, a rhyme, just a feeling from Frilly. Some make you smile, some are sad and others bring hope and understanding. Frilly doesn’t find all the answers but no-one ever does. It lets you know that you are not alone.

Frilly’s quest takes her in many directions, to a peaceful place to think, painting to express herself through art, meditation and writing down her feelings in a journal. The books aren’t daunting, not long and very friendly. Sometimes the simplest approach is the one that gets through to someone who is struggling.

I wish to thank the author for an e-copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.



Mawson, the big hearted, soul searching teddy bear, is here to help. He is one of this bright world’s few Writer-Bears. He speaks about Being One’s Best in an often baffling world.

A modest bear of generous proportions, he is often muddled about things (well, he is a bear). But he is always confident that things are going to turn out All Right.

In ‘It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In’, Mawson ponders about loss, love and hope. When you are left all alone, what do you do? Can you go on being you when you don’t know who to be You for? (

In “She Ran Away From Love” Mawson helps Frilly in her quest for answers to big questions. Will nervous Frilly become brave enough to face the Light of Love?


Twitter: @MawsonBear



It's a Bright World to Feel Lost In Paperback

It’s a Bright World to Feel Lost In