Latest Reviews

karen byrom book reviewer headshot

Karen Byrom

I love to write and I love to read, so writing book reviews is the best job in the world for me!

 

What got me into journalism? After studying Latin and history at St Andrews university, I returned to my home town of Dundee, where DCT Media has been a proud presence for over 100 years.

 

I worked there in magazine journalism for over 30 years, honing my skills at My Weekly and The People’s Friend. I’ve now retired from the 9-5, but still write book reviews for My Weekly and for NFOP’s in-house magazine, along with all the reviews you’ll find here.

 

My tastes are eclectic – I love all genres from romance to detective, fantasy to thriller noir, young adult to literary fiction. Hilary Mantel, Neil Gaiman, Lisa Gardner, Milly Johnson – I’ve too many favourite authors to mention … just check out my reviews to discover more!

Bookish Blog

First two Christmas reads have arrived! @ariafiction @harpercollinsuk @avonbooksuk @rachelbwriter @writernell #christmasiscoming🎄 #bookbloggerlife #bookbloggersofinstagram
Big shout out for #thesmallestman on paperback publication date. I loved this story of a little hero with a huge heart who found himself caught up in the cataclysmic events of the English Civil War. Read my full review here - https://karensbookbag.co.uk/the-smallest-man-by-frances-quinn/. @franquinn21 @simonschusteruk #historicalfictionbook #historicalnovel #englishcivilwar #charlesi #17thcenturystory #bookstagram #bookbloggersofinstagram #bookrecommendations #lovetoread
Keeping up with @bookandtonic #BoldSummerBooks challenge - this week I’m off to the English seaside with @phillipa.ashleyauthor for a romantic sunny Cornish seaside escape with #AnEndlessCornishSummer #summerreading #summerbooks #romanticfiction #beachbooks #beachreading #bookstagram #bookrecommendations #booklover #bookbloggerlife
Keeping up with @bookandtonic #BoldSummerReadsChallenge and I’m off to Cornwall with @phillipa.ashleyauthor to visit the English seaside for some sunshine and romance! @avonbooksuk #summerreads #summerreading #summerromance #beachreads #bookstagram #bookbloggerlife #bookbloggersofinstagram
What’s going on behind the blinds at Acacia Avenue? Who’s hiding secrets? Maybe better to ask who isn’t! #IKnowWhatYouveDone is a thrilling story set in a genteel area where the residents are anything but genteel! And when one is attacked and left for dead, all the others are suspect! A great new story from @dorothykoomson_author @headlinebooks @ed.pr #thrillerfiction #thrillerdomesticnoir #badneighbours #bookstagram #bookblogger #bookbloggersofinstagram #bookrecommendations #lovereading #lovebooks
Full review: https://karensbookbag.co.uk/the-long-way-home-by-fanny-blake/ Will a summer road trip the length of the UK in the company of her teenage granddaughter help Isla comes to terms with the difficult relationship she had with her own mother? This is a super summer read from @fannyblake1, full of warmth, passion and relationship angst with a heartwarming conclusion. #TheLongWayHome @simonschusteruk @contemporaryfiction #popularfiction #familybonds #bookstagram #bookblogger #bookbloggerofinstagram #lovereading
Week 2 of @bookandtonic #boldsummerreads challenge is island life - and where better to escape than the Isle of Wight and a romantic houseboat with #sunnydaysandseabreezes☀️🏖❤️ #CaroleMatthews @matthews.carole #bookstagram #beachreads #romanticfiction #isleofwight #houseboats
Full review: https://karensbookbag.co.uk/false-witness-by-karin-slaughter/. This is a superb thriller that has not only a nail-biting plot but a strong emotional undercurrent as two sisters continue to protect each other from the repercussions of a dreadful crime they were forced to commit. Powerful, moving and thrilling right up to the last page! #FalseWitness @karinslaughterauthor @harpercollinsuk #crimethriller #crimethrillerbooks #crimefiction #siblingbonds #bookstagram #bookblogger #bookbloggersofinstagram
Full review: https://karensbookbag.co.uk/the-fading-of-the-light-by-charlotte-betts/ Day 3 of the #blogtour and it’s my turn to share my thoughts on #TheFadingoftheLight by @charlottebetts.author. How I enjoyed catching up with old friends in this return to Spindrift, a community of artists in Edwardian Cornwall, where passions run high and friendships stay strong as they face up to challenges. Themes of women’s rights and forbidden love are explored in a dramatic, beautifully paced narrative that transports you to beautiful Cornwall and draws you into the story of Edith, a woman ahead of her time in her struggle for independence and choice. The second in the series following #TheLightWithinUs, this can be read as a stand-alone. Visit my website for full reviews of both books. @yourswithlovex @littlebrownbookgroup_uk #cornwall #romanticfiction #historicalfiction #historicalfictionnovel #womensrights #bookstagram #bookblogger #blogtour
Full review: https://karensbookbag.co.uk/mrs-england-by-stacey-halls/ Jane Eyre meets Wuthering Heights in this thrilling tale of a nanny trapped in a home on the Yorkshire moors. Atmospheric and compelling - I loved @staceyhallsauthor #mrsengland as much as her previous two best sellers @manilla_press #gothicfiction #historicalfictionbooks #historicalnovels #bookstagrammer #bookblogger #bookrecommendations #lovereading
Taking part in #BoldwoodSummerReads weekly challenge! Week 1 - fresh starts - and this is at the top of my to-be-read pile! @booksandtonic #agathachristie #nostalgicreading #detectivestories @harpercollinsuk #harperfiction #fictionbooks #summerreads #bookstagram #bookbloggerlife
I absolutely loved this funny, emotional romance - a brilliant stor of lifelong college friends whose 5% “what-if” is always on the verge of exploding in a heat of passion! @emilyhenrywrites @vikingbooksuk #summerromance #romanticfiction #bookstagram #bookblogger #emilyhenryfan
Thank you @harpercollinsuk for this gorgeous special edition of #agathachristie short crime stories. Can’t wait to revisit my old favourites #crimefictionbooks #agathachristiebooks #agathachristiefan #bookstagram #bookbloggersofinstagram #lovereading #booklover #nostalgicreads
Full review: https://karensbookbag.co.uk/the-henna-artist-and-the-secret-keeper-of-jaipur-by-alka-joshi/ I’ve been engrossed by #TheHennaArtist and its follow-up #TheSecretKeeperOfJaipur, following the adventures of Lakshmi and her protege Malik as they struggle to find independence and status in post-1947 India. Rich, atmospheric prose, thrilling plots and engaging characters make these books by @thealkajoshi both must-reads. @_mira_books_  #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #booklover #indianindependence #womensindependence
Full review: https://karensbookbag.co.uk/the-ingenious-and-the-colour-of-life-by-j-y-sam/ just finished this YA book that will appeal not jut to YA genre fans but readers of sci-do, fantasy and dystopian fiction. It’s a mix of metaphysical and adventure as a group of preternaturally talented teenagers struggle to track down the enemy who is trying to destroy them. An immense and engrossing read from @jysamwriter #bookstagram #bookbloggersofinstagram #yabookstagrammer #scififantasy #dystopianfiction #lovereading #lovebooks
Full review:  https://karensbookbag.co.uk/waiting-to-begin-by-amanda-prowse/. Should one teenage mistake blight your life? Loved @mrsamandaprowse #waitingtobegin - a heartwarming, emotional exploration of a naive teenage girl who grows up unable to forgive herself her past mistakes @ed.pr #bookstagram #bookblogger #bookbloggersofinstagram #booklover #contemporaryfiction #familydrama
Full Review: https://karensbookbag.co.uk/both-of-you-by-adele-parks/. Two women go missing, two husbands fall under suspicion ... who’s telling the truth and who’s lying in this twisty, thrilling shocking thriller from the brilliant @adele_parks @hqstories @harperfiction #bookstagram #bookblogger #bookbloggersofinstagram #thrillerfiction #domesticthriller #domesticthrillernoir #secretsandlies
Full review: https://karensbookbag.co.uk/__leavethelightsoneganhughes/. a dark thriller noir with eerie sub tones might leave you as afraid as heroine Lauren to be alone at home in the dark ... a page-turning novel, ideal for Bank Holiday reading! #leavethelightson #eganhughes #thrillerfiction #domesticthrillernoir #blogtour @littlebrownbookgroup_uk @francescabanks_ #boostagram #bookblogger #bookbloggersofinstagram #bankholidayreading
Full review: https://karensbookbag.co.uk/the-summer-seekers-by-sarah-morgan/ Enjoy a road trip across 
Route 66 in the company of delightful 80-year-old Kathleen as she fulfils a bucket list wish that might also just put a painful past to rest. Great characters and an intriguing plot make this a must-read for this summer! @sarahmorganwrites @harperfictionpr @hqstories #roadtrip #route66 #popularfiction #bookstagram #bookbloggers #ageisjustanumber #summerreading
Full review: https://karensbookbag.co.uk/madam-by-phoebe-wynne/ a darkly thrilling story takes us to a remote boarding school in Scotland where the girls know more than their new teacher Rose about just what education they are getting .. explores themes of feminism in a gripping Gothic setting #phoebewynneauthor @quercusbooks #bookstagram #booklover #bookbloggers #gothicmystery #feminism #boardingschoollife