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

I Have Something To Tell You … look out for @susanlewisbooks new courtroom/family drama out next week. It is seriously good! #ihavesomethingtotellyou #susanlewis  @harpercollins #bookstagram #bookrecommendations #familydrama #bookbloggersofinstagram #betrayal #courtroomdrama #lovereading #lovebooks
My turn on the #blogtour for #TheHeronsCry. Taciturn Devon detective #MatthewVenn returns in a highly-satisfying crime thriller where a man investigating the failings of a hospital trust in the death of a young man is himself found dead in ghastly circumstances. As Venn and his team investigate, they find more questions than answers in a small community where everyone is a suspect! Dramatic, tense and atmospheric! Full review through the link on my bio. @randomthingstours @panmacmillan #detectivefiction #crimefiction #anncleevesnovels #anncleeves #blogtour #bookstagram #bookrecommendations #bookbloggersofinstagram #booklover #fictionfans
Full review through link on my bio - my turn on @randomthingstours for #LovedAndMissed. This powerful story by best-selling author #susieboyt explores the angst and heartbreak of middle-aged Ruth as she calls on all the power of maternal love in the face of her daughter’s addiction to drugs. Ruth can’t save her daughter but maybe she can save her granddaughter from her mother’s chaotic lifestyle. Heartbreaking, emotional and ultimately life-affirming. A beautiful story, beautifully told. #lovedandmissed #blogtour #contemporaryfiction #bookrecommendation #bookstagram #bookbloggersofinstagram #booklover #mothersanddaughters #addictionissues #maternallove
Full review through link on my bio.  A remote storm lashed village on Scotland’s east coast seems an unlikely place for broken-hearted chef Anna to pick up the threads of her life. But opportunities are waiting there. There’s drama, danger and romance in the debut novel from #SharonGosling @simonschusteruk #scottishsetting #romanticfiction #romanticread #popularfiction #debutwriters #bookstagram #bookrecommendations #bookbloggersofinstagram #lovereading #lovebooks
Link to full review on my bio page.
I love a novella - there’s something so satisfying in the way writers employ fewer words yet still convey the full range of human emotion. Check out these two from @fairlightbooks #MissingWords by @loreewestron offers a gentle mystery - but will Jenny’s search for answers lead to discoveries about herself? #OnlyAboutLove by @dublinwriter_debbivoisey explores the life of Frank - an ordinary man whose story will touch your heart. #novella #shortstories #bookstagram #bookbloggersofinstagram  #lovereading #booklover #mystery
Full review: https://karensbookbag.co.uk/not-a-happy-family-by-shari-lapena/ Another fabulous thrilling read from @sharilapena sees a family turning on each other after the violent death of their millionaire parents. Could one of the siblings, impatient for their inheritance, be responsible? Twists and turns galore make this a truly gripping story! #NotAHappyFamily #penguinrandomhouse @penguinrandomhouse #thrillerfiction #thrillerdomesticnoir #crimefictionbooks #bookstagram #bookrecommendations #bookbloggersofinstagram #booklover
Full review: https://www.myweekly.co.uk/2021/08/12/definitely-fine-book-review/ one of my picks for @my_weekly_magazine Special this month is this warm, funny emotional tale of a family coming to terms with the loss of their beloved mother. #DefinitelyFine #amylavelle #grief #mothersanddaughters #contemporaryfiction #bookstagram #bookbloggersofinstagram #booklover #lovereading
Full review: https://karensbookbag.co.uk/not-a-happy-family-by-shari-lapena/. Loved @sharilapena #NotAHappyFamily so much. This story of three greedy siblings who apparently couldn’t wait for their wealthy parents’ natural demise is dark and intriguing with lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing to the end. @penguinrandomhouse #crimethriller #crimethrillerbooks #murdermystery #crimefiction #crimefictionbooks #sharilapena #bookstagram #bookbloggersofinstagram #bookrecommendations #booklover
Christmas has come early!! 🎄thanks @cathybramley @alainnageorgiou @orionbooks #TheMerryChristmasProject #feelingfestive #bookstagram #bookbloggerlife #lovechristmas #lovechristmastime🎄 #lovechristmasbooks #romanticfiction
Full review: https://karensbookbag.co.uk/the-wilderness-between-us-by-penny-haw/. A story of adventure and self-discovery, what happens when a group of friends get separated on a hiking trip in the wilds of South Africa? For some, the struggle to survive is more than a physical effort as they face up to the wild demons that have blighted their lives. Exciting, atmospheric and thought-provoking #TheWildernessBetweenUs , with its themes of anorexia, flawed friendship and self-discovery is a wonderfully immersive read. @pennyhaw #twbu #randomtours #blogtour #bookstagram #booklover #bookloversofinstagram #bookbloggersofinstagram #southafricanfiction #itsajungleoutthere
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