Saturday, 29 April 2017

The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite



About The Darkest Lies

Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village.

Nothing can shake her happiness - until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home.

Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk?

As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger…

A completely gripping psychological thriller with a twist you won’t see coming. Fans of The Girl on the Train, The Sister and Before I Let You In will be captivated.


My review of he Darkest Lies

The Darkest Lies is a captivating and brilliant read from Barbara Copperthwiate. This novel takes the ideal and seemingly perfect family unit and turns it on its head. Secrets are kept in this tiny rural village, located by desolate marshland and, as a reader, I got to spy on all of its occupants. This is a somewhat disturbing, chilling read that had me racing through the pages, savouring every word. I found it hugely enjoyable.

The novel is fast paced throughout, it really doesn't let up from the moment you read the somewhat chilling prologue. It left me frantically gripping onto the cliffhanger, wondering what on earth had just happened. It's such a clever start to the novel and sets the scene beautifully for just how desolate the marshes are in this quiet and sleepy little rural village. In fact, the way in which the village and its inhabitants are evoked is so descriptive, I actually felt like I lived there.

The Darkest Lies illuminated family life and that every perfect family has its own share of secrets. When thirteen-year-old Beth is found left for dead in a cold creek on the boundaries of the village, Melanie begins her own investigation in the village to find out what happened to her daughter and who attacked her. What she discovers is that her daughter had her own share of secrets and Melanie begins to question who she can trust. Melanie was an interesting character and I understood her completely. Partly because she is a mother like me, and that as a mother you would do everything in your power to protect your child. I understood her need to find out the truth and I was with her one hundred percent on this. I also believed in her because of the skilful witting, I saw what she did, I was with her every step of the way during her journey, during every twist and turn.

This is a dark novel, and I'll admit that it unsettled me. The fact that a family could have their entre world turned on its axis was shocking. I could have been reading about my family, or a family down the road. Parents who loved each other, and their daughter, began to question each other and had to face the harsh reality that they didn't know everything about their not so little girl. This is what really unsettled me, that our children are not children forever and that they need to forge their own path. It's just that sometimes we have no idea of what is really going on in  their lives.

This is really a novel of two stories. We have Melanie's story, as she strives to find her daughter's attacker and uncover her hidden secrets, as well as the story from the attacker's point of view, an unknown voice that I found completely compelling. The two timelines work wonderfully well together and create a gripping narrative, right until the final, surprising twist. I honestly did not see it coming.

The Darkest Lies is a dark, compelling and unforgettable read that had me hooked from the very beginning. The final paragraph haunted me, long after I had finished reading.

The Darkest Lies is published by Bookouture on 12 May 2017. You can find the book on Amazon here.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an Advanced Reader Copy.

About the author

Barbara is the author of psychological thrillers INVISIBLE and FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD. Both have been Amazon best sellers. Her latest book, THE DARKEST LIES, is out on 12 May.

Much of her success is thanks to her twenty-odd years' experience as a national newspaper and magazine journalist. She's interviewed the real victims of crime - and also those who have carried those crimes out. Thanks to people sharing their stories with her, she knows a lot about the emotional impact of violence and wrong-doing. That's why her novels are dark, realistic and tackle not just the crime but its repercussions.

When not writing feverishly, she is often found hiding behind a camera, taking wildlife photographs.

To find out more about Barbara's novels, go to www.facebook.com/AuthorBarbaraCopperthwaite or follow @BCopperthwait on Twitter. To find out more about Barbara go to www.barbaracopperthwaite.com

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong by Gina Kirkham #bookreview





About Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong

Meet Mavis Upton. As mummy to 7-year old Ella, surrogate to far too many pets and with a failed marriage under her belt, Mavis knows she needs to make some life-changing decisions. It's time to strike out into the world, to stand on her own two feet … to pursue a lifelong ambition to become a Police Officer. I mean, what could go wrong?

Supported by her quirky, malapropism-suffering mum, Mavis throws herself headlong into a world of uncertainty, self-discovery, fearless escapades, laughter and extra-large knickers. And using her newly discovered investigative skills, she reluctantly embarks on a search to find her errant dad who was last seen years before, making off with her mum's much needed coupon for a fabulous foam cup bra all the way from America.

Follow Mavis as she tackles everything life can throw at her, and revel in Gina Kirkham's humorous, poignant and moving story of an everyday girl who one day followed a dream.

My review of Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong

Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong is the debut novel from Gina Kirkham. This is a witty, intelligent and incredibly funny book that had me laughing out loud. But don't be fooled by the fabulous cover (which I love) as this novel has so much depth, it's not just a series of funny stories (which are in fact, hilarious). The stories that are told are mixed with real life emotions, beautifully observed reality and a protagonist who you just can't help but love and admire. While reading, I was constantly drawing comparisons to the scouse sitcom, Bread, and to Only Fools and Horses, so you get the idea of how much I loved this book. It's that good.

So, this is Mavis Upton's story, a police officer, a mother, a daughter and a person in her own right, who tells us the personal story of her life. Her story begins from when she first had the idea forming in her mind about joining the police back in 1988, right up to the present day of 2008. I was with Mavis every step of the way and felt like I really knew her, 'nellies' and all! The author writes so beautifully, and makes the art of storytelling seem completely effortless. I was gently propelled from one hilarious story to the next, revelling in all of the antics that she got up to. The real joy for me, was watching her transform from a rather naïve woman who had an idealistic view of the world, and who would only drive at a maximum of 40 mph, into the perceptive, 'chasing bad guys' police officer that she finally became.

Along the way we meet some wonderful colourful characters, and that's not just the local criminals! We meet her young daughter, Ella, who seems mature beyond her years and who shares her mother's wit and sense of humour. For me though, it was Mavis' mother, Josie Upton, who was the star of the show with her plentiful malapropisms. A woman who was strong, fiercely protective of her family and who constantly saw the funny side of life, even in the darkest of times. The scene with the 'squiffy' formed a huge lump in my throat and I'll admit that I had to put the book down for a little while in order to gather my thoughts. Ms Kirkham is a storyteller who writes from the heart, with compassion, humility and overwhelming understanding of what makes us who we are.

Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong is like a breath of fresh air. It is packed full of scouse humour, which reminded me so much of my youth growing up on the Wirral. While reading I wondered what stories were based upon reality, thinking that most of them probably were, and this brought a huge smile to my face. This novel also touches upon the more serious side of policing, as there were a few stories that made me sit back and really think. One such story dealt with the safety and welfare of children, and this really brought home the reality of what horrors the police have to deal with, before going on to the next job.

This is a highly original novel and an emotional roller coaster of a ride that had me in stitches. It is such a feel good book. I have a feeling that Mavis Upton will be with me for a very long time, and I will never quite look at a polyester thong in quite the same way ever again!

Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong is published by Urbane Publications on May18th and is available to buy from Amazon here.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an Advanced Reader Copy.



About the author

Gina was born during the not-so-swinging 50's to a mum who frequently abandoned her in a pram outside Woolworths and a dad who, after two pints of beer, could play a mean Boogie Woogie on the piano in the front room of their 3-bed semi on the Wirral. Being the less adventurous of three children, she remains there to this day - apart from a long weekend in Bognor Regis in 1982. Her teenage years were filled with angst, a CSE in Arithmetic, pimples, PLJ juice, Barry White and rather large knickers until she suddenly and mysteriously slimmed down in her twenties. Marriage and motherhood ensued, quickly followed by divorce in her early thirties and a desperate need for a career and some form of financial support for herself and her daughter. Trundling a bicycle along a leafy path one wintry day, a lifelong passion to be a police officer gave her simultaneously an epiphany and fond memories of her favourite author Enid Blyton and moments of solving mysteries. And thus began an enjoyable and fulfilling career with Merseyside Police. On reaching an age most women lie about, she quickly adapted to retirement by utilising her policing skills to chase after two granddaughters, two dogs and one previously used, but still in excellent condition, husband. Having said goodbye to what had been a huge part of her life, she suddenly had another wonderful epiphany. This time it was to put pen to paper to write a book based on her experiences as a police officer. Lying in bed one night staring at the ceiling and contemplating life as she knew it, Gina's alter-ego, Mavis Upton was born, ready to star in a humorous and sometimes poignant look at the life, loves and career of an everyday girl who followed a dream and embarked upon a search for the missing piece of her childhood.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Dancers in the Wind by Anne Coates



About Dancers in the Wind

SHE IS HUNTING FOR THE TRUTH, BUT WHO IS HUNTING HER?

Freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is commissioned by a national newspaper to write an investigative article on the notorious red light district in Kings Cross. There she meets prostitute Princess, and police inspector in the vice squad, Tom Jordan. When Princess later arrives on her doorstep beaten up so badly she is barely recognisable, Hannah has to make some tough decisions and is drawn ever deeper into the world of deceit and violence.

Three sex workers are murdered, their deaths covered up in a media blackout, and Hannah herself is under threat. As she comes to realise that the taste for vice reaches into the higher echelons of the great and the good, Hannah realises she must do everything in her power to expose the truth .... and stay alive.

My review of Dancers in the Wind

Dancers in the Wind is a highly innovative and compelling novel from Anne Coats. This book is a mixture of crime thriller slash investigative journalism, with even a dash of romance, that is both gritty and realistic. I loved it.

The novel is set in 1993, and we firstly meet Hannah Weybridge, a freelance journalist and single mother to a young baby, as she is on her way to Kings Cross to interview Princess, a young prostitute, for a national magazine. While interviewing her, she begins to learn of what reality is really like for Princess and for the other women working on the street, and has her eyes well a truly opened. Something changes within Hannah, and her life is soon to be entwined with Princess's and the seedier side of life on the London streets.

Hannah is an incredibly likeable character. She is a mother, and I instantly warned to this nurturing side of her nature. Her maternal instinct most definitely kicked in when she met Princess. However, she also has a steely side, a perceptiveness about her and a determination to find the truth, no matter the cost, in her quest to find out who is responsible for the recent murders of several prostitutes within the Kings Cross area.  

Princess for me was the most interesting character, barely a woman, her life had been ruined from a very young age. The way in which her descriptions of life on the street were described to me as a reader, were very well written, they appeared very much as fact, and it was apparent to me that the author had done much research upon the subject. 

What completely gripped me and made me gasp for breath, was when Princess is brutally attacked and left for dead by one of her punters. In her hour of need she turns to Hannah, literally turning up on her doorstep in the middle of the night, bloodied and broken. The description of Princess in this state, and of how Hannah cares for her, had me in tears. 

We also meet DI Tom Jordan, a police Inspector for the vice squad. He is interviewed by Hannah with regards to his role in the vice squad for her article, but just as Princess becomes part of her life, so does Tom. Here is a man who is handsome but guarded. He seems genuine, in how he treats Hannah and in what he says about keeping the prostitutes safe on the street, but can Hannah trust him? This is the big question in this book, issues of trust when linked to authority. While reading I very quickly made my mind up about him, although I was kept in the dark until the very end. What I also loved was the chemistry between them on the page. For me, they made the perfect couple. 

This book is not an easy read, but then it is not meant to be, it is a book about raising awareness of these vulnerable women, that they are someone's daughter, someone's mother. They are humanised, they are made to count, their lives matter. This is a crime thriller, but one that asks many questions about how these vulnerable women are treated by society and those who are in a position of power to protect them.

I highly recommend Dancers in the Wind, it is a deeply moving book, and I am very much looking forward to book two in the series which is to be published soon. 

Dancers in the Wind, published by Urbane Publications on October 13, can be found on Amazon here.


About the author

I love reading and the type of fiction I write is what I like to read. So my very short stories are often tales with a twist and the longer ones explore relationships – often within a family. Most of these stories were published first in Bella, Candis and other magazines and now appear in two collections published by Endeavour Press.

My debut thriller, "Dancers in the Wind", was published by Urbane Publications in October 2016. This book is a result of an interview I did for a national newspaper and afterwards I thought "What if..." and so Hannah Weybridge came into existence and she continues her life in "Death's Silent Judgement" to be published in May 2017 again by Urbane Publications. I am currently working on the third book in the series. You can find out more about my writing at www.annecoatesauthor.com

Journalism has led me into diverse fields from human interest stories to health and beauty to travel and parenting and so just over seven years ago I founded the website: www.parentingwithouttears.com writing about what inspires (or upsets) me and hosting articles and reviews by other writers and parents. This led to two parenting guides again published by Endeavour Press.

Before that I had written three books (two for Wayland) including "Your Only Child" (Bloomsbury) plus two books about applying to and surviving university published by Need to Know.

I live in SE London with three demanding cats and enjoy going to the theatre and cinema and socialising with friends. You can find out more about the parenting website on twitter @ParentingWT or more about what I am up to @Anne_Coates1



Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Last Breath by Robert Bryndza

 

He’s your perfect date. You’re his next victim.

 

When the tortured body of a young woman is found in a dumpster, her eyes swollen shut and her clothes soaked with blood, Detective Erika Foster is one of the first at the crime scene. The trouble is, this time, it’s not her case.

While she fights to secure her place on the investigation team, Erika can’t help but get involved and quickly finds a link to the unsolved murder of a woman four months earlier. Dumped in a similar location, both women have identical wounds – a fatal incision to their femoral artery.

Stalking his victims online, the killer is preying on young pretty women using a fake identity. How will Erika catch a murderer who doesn’t seem to exist?

Then another girl is abducted while waiting for a date. Erika and her team must get to her before she becomes another dead victim, and, come face to face with a terrifyingly sadistic individual.

Gripping, tense and impossible to put down, Last Breath will have you on the edge of your seat, racing to the final dramatic page.


My review of Last Breath

Last Breath is the fourth installment in the Erika Foster detective series by Robert Bryndza, and the first book in the series that I have read...and WOW, I loved every page. This is an exhilarating read that gripped me from the incredibly chilling Prologue. Unlike many other reviewers who have read the books in order, I came to this book knowing absolutely nothing about the characters or their backstory, but for me this really didn't matter, as I felt like I was not missing out. This really does work as a stand alone novel. Having said that, I do plan on working my way back through the previous three books.

So, Last Breath is about a sadistic serial killer who preys on women. He uses a false identity while online to stalk his victims. Robertt Bryndza has created a chilling and truly unforgettable serial killer. He is the man who you could walk past on the street and not be aware of the horrific crimes that he has committed against women. He is the man who you could befriend. It is spine chillingly real. That is why this book works so well, the events could happen, and they could happen to you.

DI Erika Foster leads the investigation, and is a character that I quickly got to know, as she wears her heart on her sleeve. She is feisty, opinionated, caring and will ultimately do whatever it takes to catch the bad guy. I had a lot of respect for her. But equally, I did too for Moss and Peterson, her colleagues. Together they made a great team, supporting each other. This leads me onto the investigative procedures and how the crime scenes were investigated. Once again, everything was painstakingly real, making me live the moment when they found  the body of a young woman, thrown away, discarded like a piece of rubbish into a dumpster. I felt what Erika felt, and I too wanted to catch him.

Last Breath is a thrilling serial killer read that will have you on the edge of your seat. It deals with the issues of online dating, social media, the issues of online safety and of how women are portrayed as victims in a clever and empathetic way. One scene in particular stuck in my mind, as Erika so eloquently pointed out that she could have been one of these young women in her younger days. All it takes is to walk down the wrong street or to be delayed by a few minutes. This thought stayed with me. Last Breath is a disturbing read, a thought provoking read and a book that is simply unputdownable.

Last Breath published by Bookouture on April 12, can be found on Amazon here.


About the author

Robert Bryndza is the author of the international #1 bestseller The Girl in the Ice. The Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller is the first book in the Detective Erika Foster series.

The Night Stalker, and Dark Water are the second and third books in the series, and the fourth book, Last Breath, has just been published.

Robert's books have sold over 1.7 million copies, and have been translated into 26 languages.

In addition to writing crime fiction, Robert has published a bestselling series of romantic comedy novels. He is British and lives in Slovakia.

You can find out more about the author at www.robertbryndza.com and on Twitter and Instagram @RobertBryndza

Sign up to Robert Bryndza‘s New Release Mailing List here: http://eepurl.com/UITxz

Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Speech by Andrew Smith #bookreview



About The Speech

His words threatened rivers of blood...and they fought him with hope... April 20th, 1968: Enoch Powell, MP for Wolverhampton South West, gives a speech that shakes a community and Britain to its very core. Words that provoke, that divide ... that profoundly affect the lives of those they touch. Mrs. Georgina Verington-Delaunay is an administrator working in the Conservative riding office of Enoch Powell. Frank and Christine are art students inadvertently caught in an undercurrent of intolerance. Nelson and his Aunt Irene are Jamaican immigrants striving to make a life for themselves in a turbulent atmosphere. In the shadow of Powell's speech, a violent crime brings these disparate characters together as they struggle to find their places in the swiftly changing society of 1960s Britain. Set against a background of subversive music, radical fashions, and profound change in moral values, they attempt against all odds to bring a fair conclusion to an unjust investigation. As they work together against murky elements of self-interest and bigotry, they're forced to confront their own consciences and prejudices, and the reader is taken on a compelling journey into the beating heart of a community in turmoil.

My review of The Speech

I'll start this review by saying that The Speech is not my usual reading genre, that of politically themed stories, but due to what is happening in the world at the moment, and the fact that this book was recommended to me, I thought I would give it a try, and I am so very glad that I did.

The Speech explores the life of Enoch Powell while living inWolverhampton during the 1960s, a decade before my time. The book is a wonderful mix of fiction and reality, which beautifully blends together to  create this entertaining, yet educational and informative read.

Although, The Speech, is predominantly about Enoch Powell, it is really a story of three tales. We have the story of Nelson, who lives with his Aunt, who is wrongly accused of murder. I liked this character immensely, and felt great sadness for what he had to go through in order to protest his innocence. We also meet Frank, a photography student who is young and naïve and who 'helps' Enoch in his conspiracy to frame Nelson. To be honest, it was Nelson's plight and story that most intrigued me, and I found what happened to him just as relevant today, with current issues of Brexit and immigration dominating the headlines. We then also have the ten day time fame that the novel is set within, leading up to the infamous Rivers of Blood Speech and the novel's ultimate conclusion. This was a very clever narrative device, as I found myself whizzing through the pages in my urge to find out what happened to all of the characters. I needed to know!

This novel so eloquently highlights the issues of racism, bigotry and hatred. It is an emotional and insightful read, that grips you throughout Enoch Powell's political journey and subsequent fall from grace. Whether you like Powell or not, is, I feel, irrelevant, as what is of importance are the issues within the book, those of racism and being 'different' and the individual stories that unfold. So, do not be put off by the political angle in this book, or the fact that it is based upon a real life politician. While reading, I found it difficult to separate what was fact and what was fiction, but for me this didn't matter. It is not a biography, it is a work of fiction based upon fact. It is an enjoyable and immensely thought provoking read.

The Speech is published by Urbane Publications and is available to buy from Amazon here.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a review copy.
 


About the author

Andrew Smith’s first novel, Edith’s War, won a gold medal at the Independent Publishers’ Book Awards, U.S.A. His short fiction has been included in the Journey Prize Anthology and shortlisted for the CBC Literary Awards. His travel writing has garnered a Western Magazine Award. He has published two non-fiction books: Strangers in the Garden, the secret lives of our favorite flowers and Highlights, an illustrated history of cannabis (co-author). Smith’s next novel, The Speech, has been published in October, 2016 by Urbane Publications, U.K.



Saturday, 22 April 2017

This Love by Dani Atkins #bookreview






About This Love

'Dani Atkins is the undisputed queen of fiction that packs a huge emotional punch, and this captivating story is another outstanding example' - heat

This Love is an emotional family drama for fans of Jojo Moyes and Dorothy Koomson, from the bestselling author of Fractured.

Sophie stopped believing in happy endings a long time ago, but could this love change all of that?

Sophie Winter lives in a self-imposed cocoon - she's a single, 31-year-old translator who works from home in her one-bedroom flat. This isn’t really the life she dreamed of, but then Sophie stopped believing in dreams when she was a teenager and tragedy struck her family.

So, to be safe, she keeps everyone at arm’s length. Sophie understands she has a problem, but recognising it and knowing how to fix it are two entirely different things.

One night a serious fire breaks out in the flat below hers. Sophie is trapped in the burning building until a passer-by, Ben, sees her and rescues her.

Suddenly her cocoon is shattered - what will be the consequences of this second life-changing event?

‘A beautiful romance with a twist’ – Woman

‘A brilliant story about loss and grief, but also love and friendship… Heartbreaking and thought-provoking, this is one of those novels you are still thinking about days later, wishing it hadn’t ended’ – Chicklit Club

My review of This Love




I loved this book! I love all of Dani Atkin's books, and I was excited to read this book. The very first book that I read by this author was The Story of Us a few years back, and I instantly fell in love with Jack, and then with Dani's writing. This author writes so effortlessly, that from the very first page I found myself immersed in the make-believe world, and I never wanted to leave. I really didn't want to stop reading this beautiful book, but at the same time I desperately needed to know what would happen to Sophie and Ben, it was a magical, emotional and heartbreaking read.
So, at the beginning of the book we are introduced to Sophie who is buying black dresses for a funeral. We have no idea why, as this is obviously in the future, but as in true Dani Atkin's style, all is revealed as the story progresses. I liked Sophie from the moment I met her. She is a woman in her early thirties, a loner, a woman who has narrowed her world to such an extent that only her best friend, who is married with two children, knows and understands her. Something terrible happened in Sophie's past that has a direct impact on who she is today, and it is this unfurling of the past that we are privileged to learn about.
This is a slow and enjoyable read, that really begins when Sophie finds herself trapped in her flat at night, as a fire envelops the floor below. It is Ben, a passer by, who saves her, and who ultimately changes her life. This is such a fabulous opening scene for any book. I read with baited breath as to how Ben would help her escape, and I knew from that moment on that something special had happened between them. A bond was formed.  I just loved the chemistry between them, and the way in which their relationship slowly grew. It was so incredibly natural.
All of Dani Atkins' books are about real women and real life situations, but she somehow manages to transform them into a magical and all consuming read. Sophie is the narrator of the story, it is her tale to tell, and I found myself living and breathing as her, understanding why she did what she did. This book is about her relationships, her relationship with her parents, her best friend and her blossoming relationship with Ben. This book is about trust and how we all have to take risks in life, to fully find out who we are and what we are capable of. 
This is a love story with deep roots. It is not a superficial read but one that is packed full of emotion. I loved these two characters with all my heart and I was so sorry when I read the final word. This is such a beautiful book.
This Love is published by Simon & Schuster UK on 23 March and is available to buy from Amazon.


About the author

Dani Atkins was born in London in 1958, and grew up in the suburb of Cockfosters. She moved to rural Hertfordshire in 1985, where she has lived in a small village ever since with her husband, two (now grown-up) children, one Siamese cat and a very soppy Border Collie.

Dani has been writing for fun all her life, but following the publication of her novels FRACTURED (published as THEN AND ALWAYS in the US) and THE STORY OF US in 2014, now writes for work. Her third novel, OUR SONG, was published in January 2016. PERFECT STRANGERS, a standalone eBook novella is available from December 2016.

Connect with Dani on Facebook at www.facebook.com/daniatkinsauthor or on twitter @AtkinsDani




Friday, 21 April 2017

Reunited by Daniel Gothard #bookreview





About Reunited

1992, and Ben Tallis is coming to terms with the recent death of his father. His ability to cope isn't helped by the fact he's secretly in love with one of his best friends. At least keeping a daily journal helps him make sense of events, and he believes it's the perfect preparation for his plan to one day become a successful journalist. 2012 and Ben has achieved his career ambition - he's a highly respected journalist and is engaged to a hardworking and ambitious lawyer. But this seemingly 'perfect' relationship is fraught with problems. Ben mentions in passing to his editor he has received an invitation to a 20 year school reunion but doesn't want to go. His editor however smells a great feature article and insists Ben returns home, faces his past - including his secret teenage yearning - and writes a feature on how much we change, and yet in so many ways stay the same. As Ben reluctantly re-engages with his past he soon comes to realise that we can never run from the truth...or who we truly are.

My review of Reunited


 
I am so glad that I finally got round to reading and, now reviewing Reunited, as this book has been on my TBR list for some time. All I can say is that it was well worth the wait, as this book is fantastic. It is an enjoyable read about finding out who you really are by exploring your past. In this case, we follow Ben, a journalist, who writes for an online magazine, and I thoroughly enjoyed his journey.
 
Reunited begins by us meeting the present day Ben in 2012, who after mentioning to his editor that he has been invited to a twenty year school reunion, is told that he needs to go and cover the story.  At first Ben is reluctant to go, and to write about the now adults who were his school friends, but, in the end he does what his editor asks and plans to write his own unique  story. The driving force being that he hopes to see his old friend and unrequited teenage love, Catrina.
 
The entire school reunion angle really intrigued me. What would I do if I was invited to a school reunion? Would I go? Well, probably not. But the idea of attending such a reunion fascinated me, and I read with great interest as Ben planned for the big day and how he dealt with buried feelings about his past, all dredged up because he was having to face what had happened to him over twenty years ago.  What was most telling was his relationship with his girlfriend, Kate. Although they had been together for some time, it was very obvious that they had problems, including long working hours and I felt that unresolved issues from Ben's past were stopping him from living fully in the present.
 
That brings me nicely on to the journal  entries, that date back to 1992, not long after Ben's dad died. These passages were well written and I believed that I was reading the thoughts and feelings of a teenage boy. My heart went out to him, a young man who was having to deal with the death of his father and all of the changes that were taking place around him. These passages were both funny and sad, but the author managed to get the mix just right, and enabled me to work out why the present day Ben acted in the way he did, it all made perfect sense to me.
 
This is a funny book, and one that is embedded in bittersweet nostalgia. It is also  a much deeper read than the cover would suggest. If you have ever wondered what it would be like to come face to face with your old school friends, and the bullies, then you will enjoy this book. It is an insightful read into what makes us who we are. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
 
Reunited is published by Urbane Publications and is available to buy from Amazon here 
 
 
About the author
 
 
Daniel Gothard lives in Oxford with his wife and three children. He has a CertHE and MA in creative writing. He has previously had three novels published and appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies in the UK and abroad. His novel - 'Friendship and Afterwards' - was nominated for The People's Book Prize. His previous novel was the bestselling romcom 'Simon says'. Daniel is also an Arts Correspondent for After Nyne magazine.





Thursday, 20 April 2017

Accidental Damage by Alice May #bookreview



About Accidental Damage

If you think the normal school run on a Monday is entertaining you should try doing it from a tent in your back garden surrounded by the jumbled up contents of your entire home. It is vastly more diverting. Our heroine has survived the sudden collapse of her home - or has she? Certain events two and a half years ago led her to deliberately destroy an important piece of herself, hiding away all remaining evidence that it ever existed. What happens when she decides to go looking for it? Does she really deserve to be whole again? Inspired by a true story, this is an account of one woman’s secret guilt and her journey in search of forgiveness!

My review of Accidental Damage


When I first stumbled across Accidental Damage, I was first intrigued by its beautiful cover, and then by the fact that it was based upon a real life event. What would I do if my house suddenly started to crumble down around me? To be honest, I have absolutely no idea. But for the author, Alice May, she knew exactly what to do, and this is her powerful and immensely personal  story.

 Accidental Damage is told in first person narrative by the Heroine, who we are introduced to by the omniscient narrator. I loved the fact that the Heroine spoke directly to me. There is no fourth wall in this book. I followed her thoughts and feelings from when she noticed the very first cracks in the house, right through to the end of her wonderful tale. I actually felt like I knew her, she had become a fictional best friend.

The book is divided into what happened in the past, regarding the crumbling house, and the present day, ll told from Heroine's point of view. Each chapter clearly stated if it was the past or present, and each was given an explanatory title, which I loved. What this enabled me as a reader to do, was to easily follow the narrative. I always knew if I was reading about the present or past Heroine.

This is a gripping story, and one which I wouldn't have believed could happen, if it were not for the fact that it was based on real life events. I couldn't imagine living in a tent in the garden, not knowing if I would ever have the funds to rebuild my home. What most surprised me though, was how uplifting this book was. It was not a depressing read, but rather one about just getting on with life, and making the most of your situation. I found the story hugely inspiring.

I must also mention the fact that this novel heavily revolves around art and painting. Heroine is a painter, and it was very obvious that painting for her was as important as breathing. She simply had to paint, in order to live, but this was something that was incredibly difficult to do with her home crumbling down around her, and her thoughts around this subject I found very moving and insightful.

I did have a few niggles with this book, but they didn't distract me from enjoying the story. The first is how the book is formatted (I read the paperback version, so the kindle version may be different) but there were huge breaks between paragraphs, which distracted me at first, but which I quickly got used to. The second was that the characters within the story were not given names, but were referred to by their qualities, such as 'Chaos' and 'Beloved Husband'. For me this narrative technique made the characters seem somewhat distant, almost less real, apart from the Heroine of the story, as  I got into her head, I understood completely what she was going through. But, for me the rest of the family felt less real, and for me this was a shame. Perhaps I will get to know more about them in the second book which is going to be released soon.

Accidental Damage is a gripping and enjoyable read about the importance of family, the strength of women and that women will do everything in their power to protect their family. It's a thought provoking read and makes you question what is really important in life.

My thanks to the author who provided a copy for review purposes.

Accidental Damage is available to buy from Amazon here.

About the author

Alice May is a multi-tasking mother with four not-so-small children and she is fortunate enough to be married to (probably) the most patient man on the planet. They live in, what used to be, a ramshackle old cottage in the country. Her conservatory is always festooned with wet washing and her kitchen full of cake.

Following many years exhibiting as a mixed media artist, Alice decided that 2016 was the year she would write her first fictional novel. ‘Accidental Damage – Tales from the house that sat down’ simply wouldn’t leave her alone until it was written.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

When We Danced at the End of the Pier by Sandy Taylor #bookreview





About When We Danced at the End of the Pier

Brighton 1930: Maureen O’Connell is a carefree girl, but her family is on the brink of tragedy, war is looming and life will never be the same again.

Jack and Nelson have always been dear friends to Maureen. Despite their different backgrounds, they’ve seen each other through thick and thin.

As Maureen blossoms from a little girl into a young woman, the candle she’s always held for Jack burns bright. But just as she’s found love, war wrenches them apart. The man she cherishes with all her heart is leaving.

When the bombs start to fall, Maureen and her family find themselves living in the most dangerous of times. With Jack no longer by her side and Nelson at war, Maureen has never felt more alone. Can she look to a brighter future? And will she find the true happiness she’s dreamt of?

My review of When We Danced at the End of the Pier

I shall admit, that I was initially drawn to this book by its beautiful cover and then by the description of the blossoming wartime love story. I thought to myself, what's not to love? I was right, this is such a treat of a book, I loved it from the very beginning. I must also add that I didn't realise that it was the third book in a trilogy, but having said that, this book works very well as a stand alone novel, I never thought that I had missed out on some vital piece of background information.

This book transported me back to Brighton during the 1930s and the unsettled and frightening time of war. Maureen and her wonderful family are the backbone of the story, and show incredible endurance and strength during such a difficult time. They are a tightknit family, who love and care for each other very much. They are a strong family unit and this was needed for the story to work. What is truly magical about this story though is the love story between Maureen and her younger sister, Brenda. This I feel is just as important as the blossoming love story between Maureen and Jack, a love story that begins as children, when she is only eight-years-old. I loved the beginning of the story, as she spies him playing in the garden next door, as she makes a silent vow that he is the boy she will marry. I loved this aspect of the story, that feeling of childhood love that grows and morphs into something else, that of new beginnings.

Maureen is the protagonist of the story, and I really felt like I was by her side during her epic journey and road to adulthood.  Together with Jack, and his best friend Nelson, they are practically inseparable until war beckons and Maureen is left alone while the two men go off to fight. What I loved anbout Maureen, was that she was a strong wiled and opinionated child, then woman, who was not afraid to speak her mind. She knew exactly what she wanted in life, even from a very young age, and she trived to get it.

When We Danced at the End of the Pier is full of emotion, and one that that most definitely pulls at the heart strings. It is a book about the importance of family and friendship, and of love during times of war. If you love family dramas, with nostalgia thrown in for good measure, as well as a real old fashioned love story, then  When We Danced at the End of the Pier is the book for you. Grab a blanket, tissues, and a warm drink and then settle down to be thoroughly transported back in time.
 
Fabulous!
    
My thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for an Advanced Raeder Copy.

When We Danced at the End of the Pier is published by Bookouture, 31 Mar. 2017. The book is available to buy from Amazon here.




Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Blame by Paul Read #bookreview



 
About Blame


It is the summer of 1989 when Lucas witnesses an event that will tear his family apart. Over a decade later, his estranged father succumbs to a suspected heart attack.

Lucas shuns grief and escapes to New York with his colleague Mariana. However, a dark secret from his past threatens to re-emerge and destroy the burgeoning relationship before it has even begun.
When his father's girlfriend fails to reappear after reporting his death, the true cause of his demise falls under scrutiny. And as the startling truth comes to light, Lucas must confront the fact that father and son may not have been so different after all.

My review of Blame
 
Blame is a story about family, about trust and about learning from your past to shape your future. It is a book about finding yourself and who you are. I found this book both challenging and rewarding in equal measure, it really was a fascinating read. This is the first book I have read by Paul Read and I immediately liked his writing style, his use of phrasing, that was almost poetic. Although the subject matter is difficult, the book is surprisingly easy to read. The text flows, in a fast paced journey that takes us through Lucas's life, explaining who he was and who he is today.
 
The novel opens with a Prologue, that jettisons us into the future, ten years on from the present day story, which is that of Lucas coming to terms with his father's death after an apparent heart attack. The Prologue asked many questions and set up the story beautifully, leaving the reader with a griping cliff hanger. The pace doesn't slow down much from this moment onwards. We meet present-day Lucas, an intelligent man, a successful research chemist, but a man who also has self destructive tendencies, all of which can be explained by his past and what happened during the summer of 1989. Read writes with great skill, in his portrayal of this character. He is not particularly likeable, and he has his faults, but ultimately he is hugely interesting, he piqued my interest and I wanted to learn about what happened to him, as I wanted to understand the man he had become.

We learn of the past via Lucas's diary entries, that he wrote as an eleven-year-old back in 1989. I loved the natural feel of the writing, the typos and clumsy way of writing, but it was so subtle, so believable, that I actually believed I was reading an authentic diary written by a child. These diary passages gripped me, the thirst to know what had happened between Lucas and his father, and the reason for his mother's almost distant behaviour and lack of motherly concern. I also loved the descriptions, both past and present of his brother, Ryan. The bond between them was so palpable on the page, the dialogue so natural with that mixture of both love and hate. I found their relationship fascinating. Marianna, was also an intriguing character. Originally from America, and a computer nerd, I found her both refreshing and very likeable, and couldn't for the life of me figure out what she saw in Lucas.

Blame is very much a story based upon several mysteries; the mystery of how Lucas's father died and the mystery of what happened in 1989. This is a raw and honest portrayal of family life that both shocks and entertains at the same time. What this book ultimately asks is that of: Can we ever really change? Are we a product of our past? Does your past and upbringing truly define us? I loved everything about this book. It captivated me from start to finish, and the story of Lucas will stay with me for a very long time.

Blame is published on April 15 by Legend Press. You can find a copy on Amazon here.

With thanks to NetGalley and Legend Press for the Advanced Reader Copy.


About the author

Paul Read has taught at several inner city schools as an Art and English teacher, both in England and Italy, where he currently lives with his partner and two children. He received a distinction in creative writing for his MA at City University London and has been a bookseller, ice cream van driver and a voice-over artist in his time.
The Art Teacher and Blame are both published by Legend Press.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Imperfection by Ray Clark





About Imperfection

Imperfection is a new crime series featuring D.I. Stewart Gardener and D. S. Sean Reilly, and set in the West Yorkshire city of Leeds. A haunting message scrawled on the dressing room wall of a theatre: the scene of a murder. It had been written using the blood from the victim, previously drained in a separate location. At the autopsy, D.I. Gardener and D.S. Reilly are shown a riddle carved into the chest of the corpse, informing them there would be more. Their efforts to find out why are continually blocked by a wall of contradiction, with little in the way of evidence to support their cause. Steered back to the scene of the crime and a disused prop room, Gardener and his trusted sergeant find another puzzle. The murderer, it seems, is playing games. It soon becomes clear to Gardener and Reilly that to find the killer they need to solve the clues, and to do that, they must tunnel their way into the past, where the streets were paved with gold, and to a man who had terrified people before either of them had even been born...

My review of Imperfection

Imperfection is a crime novel, but like no other I have ever read before. This book fuses together the genre of crime writing with that of superstitious tales and the unnatural. There was an almost Sherlock Holmes feel to this book, as I worked alongside the police to find out what was behind the killer's motives.  It is a very unique novel, and I loved it. I did have to stretch the boundaries of reality a little while reading, and accept that the author had used much artistic licence in the descriptions of police procedures, but once I did, and fully embraced this new type of genre, I found it a highly engaging read.

Imperfection is set in Leeds and I guessed around the early 2000s, with the clues that we were given with regards to the timeframe. This helped to give a slightly nostalgic feel to the novel. The book opens when an aging actor, Leonard White, is found murdered at the Grand Theatre. His body has been drained of all blood and a cryptic clue/message has been painted using his blood onto his dressing room wall. From this moment on, the police are out to find out who the murderer is. The real joy of this book is that from very early on we are in on who the murderer is, and we are able to read passages were he describes his life. So we get the viewpoints of both the police and the killer. Therefore, I wanted to find out why he was killing, just as much as the police did.

This book is very well written, it has a natural flow to the writing and we follow the story with ease. Coupled with this are descriptive and interesting characters. The two police officers who are following the case are D.I. Stewart Gardener and D. S. Sean Reilly. They work well as a team and I found them hugely likeable. Gardener lives with his father and son, and we learn that he has lived in Leeds all of his life, as everyone seems to know him from being a little boy. Reilly on the other hand is an Irishman, an outsider, and it took me a little longer to get to know him, but by the end of the book, I had a lot of respect for him. This novel also has some interesting supporting characters. For instance, I loved the character of Fittle, who had worked at the Theatre for the past thirty years and practically lived in a small cupboard drinking tea and eating biscuits. He added a much needed sense of humour to proceedings in what was quite a dark and disturbing book.

Imperfection is the story of a serial killer. A killer who is sadistic and caries out grotesque murders, of which the aftermath is described in some detail. But the brutality and amount of planning that the murderer does is pivotal to the plot. We need to despise him and everything that he stands for, without question, and I did.

As I mentioned earlier, this is not your run of the mill crime drama and serial killer book. The police procedures seem to be from a time long ago and their way of solving crimes is most definitely 'off beat'. This is shown by the fact that the police do not think about using the internet to check the quotes that are from the killer. Instead they go to experts and find the answers in books. Although I did find this a little strange, and did shout at one point that they should simply Google the answer, at the same time I found this quality endearing. It very much felt like good old fashioned detective work, but with a likeable twist.

Imperfection is a very ambitious book that blurs genres and somehow withstands the boundaries of time. It is a hugely refreshing read and I now need to go back and read the first book in the series. If you want to read a crime novel with a twist, and one that is highly unique, then I thoroughly recommend Imperfection. I really enjoyed it.

With thanks to Urbane Publications and NetGalley for a review copy.

Imperfection, published on Match 30 by Urbane Publications, can be found on Amazon here.

About the author


 The British Fantasy Society published the Ray Clark's first work in 1995, a 3000 word essay on fellow writer, Graham Masterton. In 1996, a chance meeting in a London docklands hotel at a BFS Convention with Matt Williams (and Graham Masterton - himself later in the same evening) eventually led to Ray's first big break: the 1998 publication of Manitou Man: The World of Graham Masterton, nominated for both the World and British Fantasy Awards. Success followed with a number of short stories in various magazines between 1998 and 2003. 2007 saw the author's first collection of short stories under the title of The Lord of Misrule and Other Stories, released by an American publisher. The following year, the self-publication of a stand-alone horror novel, Calix, a terrifying psychological, rollercoaster ride into the unknown using the Salem Witch Trials as its backdrop. In 2009: Ray's short story, Promises To Keep made the final shortlist for the best short story award from The Tom Howard Foundation. The publication of Misrule 2: The Next Generation soon followed. In 2010: the short story, Purple Rain was published in the American quarterly publication, Carpe Articulum: A Twist in the Taste was also published in a collection by The English Heritage, entitled, Whitby Abbey: Pure Inspiration (available at Amazon and most leading retailers). 2012: The Priest's Hole, a horror novel published by Damnation Books in the U.S. Available as a paperback and a variety of electronic versions. In 2012: Canadian publisher, Double Dragon Press, re-released Calix with new artwork, both electronically and in paperback. In 2013: Canadian Publisher, Double Dragon published A Devil's Dozen, a collection of short horror stories. 2014: a new crossover novel entitled Seven Secrets from U.S. Publisher, Damnation Books. 2015: a second short story collection entitled, A Detective's Dozen, from Canadian publisher, Double Dragon. 2016: the first in the author's IMP crime series set in Leeds featuring Detectives Gardener and Reilly, entitled Impurity, from U.S. Publisher, Caliburn Press. 2017: The second in the IMP series, Imperfection, will be published by Urbane Publications in the spring of 2017

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Let the Dead Speak by Jane Casey




About Let the Dead Speak

In the chilling new crime novel from award-winning author Jane Casey, Detective Maeve Kerrigan and the murder squad must navigate a web of lies to discover the truth…

A murder without a body
Eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home one day to find the house covered in blood and Kate, her mother, gone. There may not be a body, but everything else points to murder.

A girl too scared to talk
Maeve Kerrigan is young, ambitious and determined to prove she’s up to her new role as detective sergeant. She suspects Chloe is holding something back, but best friend Bethany Norris won’t let Maeve get close. What exactly is Bethany protecting Chloe from?
A detective with everything to prove
As the team dig deeper into the residents of Valerian Road, no one is above suspicion. All Maeve needs is one person to talk, but that’s not going to happen. Because even in a case of murder, some secrets are too terrible to share…


My review of Let the Dead Speak

This is the first Jane Casey book that I have ever read, so I am new to the world of Detective Maeve Kerrigan. I absolutely loved this book, and so shall be rooting out the previous books in the series to read during the summer.

I was initially drawn to this book because of the interesting premise that a murder had taken place, but that there was no body at the crime scene. I wanted to find out how the police solved this puzzle.

So, eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns home early from having been away, visiting her father, to find the home that she shares with her mother, Kate, covered in blood., and her mother missing, presumed dead. It is from this point onwards that we follow the police in their investigation to find out exactly what happened.

The plot is completely believable and I found out the events that took place, during the many twists and turns, at the same time as the police. I liked this aspect. In that  there was a logical progression to the events that took place, which were slowly revealed, layer by layer, to me, the reader.

What really made this book stand out for me though was the two leading characters of Maeve and DI Josh Derwent. There on page chemistry simmered and I wondered why on earth they weren't together. However, as this is the first book that I have read in the series, I knew nothing of their past relationship,  although we are told that they have never been involved in a romantic relationship. To me, it was fairly obvious that they belong together, and I have my fingers and toes crossed that this will happen in future novels.

This is a thoroughly entertaining read! It is fairly dark in nature, with serious issues being discussed regarding the sexuality of women, the sexualisation of women by men and issues of consent. But what was we do have is an incredibly strong female lead in the form of Maeve, whom you can't help but love and admire. Here is a woman who wears her heart on her sleeve and who would do anything to protect the innocent. She is hugely likeable and someone whom I admire.
 
Let the Dead Speak is a dark, griping and enjoyable detective story that is full of twists. This fabulous plot is further enhanced by completely relatable characters and a cast of male suspects, none of whom I liked, and that was the way it should be. I literally had no idea of who had done what or why, and I was left guessing until the very end. I enjoyed this book immensely and look forward to reading the next in the series.
 
Let the Dead Speak, published on March 9 by Harper Collins, is available to buy from Amazon here.


About the author

"All my criminal elements have some basis in reality, no matter how awful they may be. Nothing is completely farfetched." Jane Casey

Crime is a family affair for Jane Casey. Married to a criminal barrister, she has a unique insight into the brutal underbelly of urban life, from the smell of a police cell to the darkest motives of a serial killer.

This gritty realism has made her books international bestsellers and critical successes; while Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan has quickly become one of the most popular characters in crime fiction.

Winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award for The Stranger You Know, Jane has been shortlisted four times for the Irish Crime Novel of the Year Award and longlisted for the CWA Dagger in the Library Award.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

This Much is True by Jane Sanderson



 
About This Much is True


After decades in a deeply unhappy marriage, Annie Doyle can barely bring herself to care that her husband Vince is finally about to die.
 
But as the family gathers to see out his final days, Vince utters a single word that will change everyone's lives forever:
 
'Martha.'
 
Who is Martha? And why is Annie so quick to dismiss the mention of her name?
 
As Annie's long-held secrets start to emerge, the lives of everyone she holds dear will be changed forever...


My Review of This Much is True

 
This Much is True is a story that I devoured in a few sittings. It is a tale of family, love and protecting everything that is most dear to you... at any cost. I loved this book, as it brought home to me the importance of family and friendship, as well as highlighting the strength and resilience of women. It was also an engaging and thought provoking read.

Annie Doyle is the narrator and protagonist of the story, it is her story, or rather her two stories that she shares with us. The Annie of the present day and, the Annie who she was when she first met her now husband, Vince. Both stories are fascinating, and it is as we learn about her past, that we come to understand why things are as they are in the present. We come to understand why she no longer loves Vince, so that the once cold appearing woman we meet at the beginning of the novel, is given perspective and meaning. We gradually understand why she acts and feels this way.

The book is full of wonderful characters, that I grew to know very well throughout the story. We meet the two sons, Michael and Andrew. Michael still lives at home with Annie and comes across a rude and dislikable character. However, through the chapters that describe Annie's past, we soon learn why he acts the way he does, and I thought that this part of the book was well written and well researched. In direct contrast, Andrew lives on the other side of the work, in Australia, with his wife and two young sons. He is the more likeable and caring of the two brothers, and there is certainly no love loss between them. The whole family dynamics between the brothers, plus Annie and Vince, fascinated me, as the way in which all families do. What was particularly fascinating was how they interacted with each other, and then, of how they all responded to the word, 'Martha' on Vince's deathbed. This is when the story really begins, as we watch how they all react to each other, and the resulting changes that are then set in motion between them.

This book is also about friendship, or rather lack of friendship, as Annie finds it difficult to confide in otters and to form friendships. It is through her dog, that she finds the friendship of two very different women, Josie and Sandra. Now, Josie I liked instantly, but Sandra took some getting used to, which just taught me that you need to really get to know someone before you judge them.

This book is very much about the ties that bind, the issue of making and keeping a family and ultimately a mother's love and the limits she will stretch to in order to keep her family together.

This Much is True is hugely enjoyable, with a wonderful twist at the end, that I never saw coming. If you love family dramas  and books that explore why people act the way they do, then this is the book for you. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Kindle edition is published by Orion on 20 April, paperback on 1 June. It is available for pre order on Amazon here.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an Advanced Reader Copy.

 
About the Author

Jane Sanderson was born in South Yorkshire. She studied English at Leicester University, then after graduating she became a journalist. After a series of jobs with local newspapers she joined the BBC where she worked as a producer for Radio 4, first on the World at One, and then on Woman's Hour. She lives with her husband, the Independent journalist and author Brian Viner, and their three children in rural Herefordshire.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Paris for One and Other Stories by JoJo Moyes




About Paris for One and Other Stories

A collection of 11 unmissable short stories from the Number One internationally bestselling author of Me Before You and After You

'Lots to cheer about in Moyes' first collection of short stories. If you want romance, the title story and its hapless heroine Nell will give it to you in spades' Red

'Moyes somehow manages to break your heart before restoring your faith in love' Sunday Express

Nell is twenty-six and has never been to Paris. She's never even been on a romantic weekend away - to anywhere - before. Travelling abroad isn't really her thing. But when Nell's boyfriend fails to show up, she has the chance to prove to everyone - including herself - that she can be independent and intrepid. Alone in Paris, Nell finds a version of herself she never knew existed . . .

In the ten other stories, Jojo Moyes introduces us to a cast of strong, relatable women in the midst of their everyday lives. In Honeymoon in Paris, featuring characters from her bestselling novel, The Girl You Left Behind, Liv and Sophie - though decades apart - both find that marriage is only the beginning of their love stories. In Crocodile Shoes, a businesswoman's blossoming confidence emerges from a fateful changing-room mix-up. And in both Love in the Afternoon and A Bird in the Hand, two couples dance around the trickiness of long-time marriage. In this irresistible collection, readers will be whisked from elegant perfume shops to taxis to five-star hotel rooms and more.

My review of Paris for One and Other Stories
 

 
I shall start by saying that I am a huge fan of JoJo Moyes and have read nearly all of her books. I was therefore very excited when I found out that she had wrote a short story collection. I vowed last year to read more short story collections, and so Paris for One and Other Stories was a very much welcome treat, and it didn't disappoint.
 
What I love about this author is her ability to write about women, like me, in every day situations. She is able to give them a distinctive voice, which allows them to tell their own unique story. All are interesting, relatable and immensely enjoyable. So, this heartwarming collection is comprised of 11 short stories, and I enjoyed each and every one of them. 
 
Paris for One is the first story in the collection and I have to admit, my favourite. Here, we meet Nell, a twenty-six-year-old woman who has become somewhat stuck in life. She has a boyfriend, but forever seems to be alone. It is during her short break to Paris that she is finally able to find out who she is and what she really wants from life. The story is predictable and I pretty much guessed the ending, but for me that was part of the charm. What mattered was the journey that I was on with Nell as she discovered who she truly was.
 
These stories, as with all of JoJo Moyes writing, captivate the soul. They feel as if you are visiting an old friend, and I felt like I knew and had befriended all of these women. All of them had a different story to tell, those of heartache, love, friendship and daring heroines. These stories covered all of them. What I particularly liked was the theme of marriage, and love after a long marriage, a subject that is not often talked about in this genre of literature. We often read books about new romance and falling in love, so it made a refreshing change to explore romantic love within a long term relationship.
 
Paris for One and Other Stories really is the perfect book to curl up with one night, and to simply enjoy... just as I did. 
 
With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the Advanced Reader Copy.

Paris for One and Other Stories, published by Michael Joseph on 9 Feb, is available on Amazon here.









Saturday, 8 April 2017

Miss Wrong and Mister Right by Robert Bryndza




About Miss Wrong and Mister Right

‘I found myself smiling continually… will have you laughing your head off…an excellent romantic comedy.’ Rachel’s Random Reads

 ‘This is men,’ said Gran. ‘When they vant you, but you don’t vant them, they stay. But let them know you vant them, they no longer need you, and they go! It’s like that movie, Nanny McPhee.’

Natalie Love has worked hard to have it all. She runs a successful London theatre that's about to host one of Hollywood's leading stars, Ryan Harrison. She’s pretty sure she’s found her man in yoga boyfriend Benjamin, despite his annoying habit of saying Namaste! every time he speaks. And her eccentric, glamorous Gran is always on hand to offer sage advice and steaming bowls of goulash. Life in the bright lights of London has always been Natalie's escape from her chaotic country family in rural Devon and Jamie, the childhood sweetheart she left at the altar fifteen years ago. Until he turns up at her theatre door... Jamie is in town producing a West End show and with rivalry suddenly clouding old feelings, this isn’t quite the reunion Natalie was expecting. Will Benjamin prove to be Natalie’s perfect match? With Ryan turning her head, Natalie is more confused than ever. And what about Jamie – could he be her second chance at first love?

 Charming, hilarious and totally unputdownable, Miss Wrong and Mr Right will put a huge smile on your face and keep you guessing who Natalie’s ‘Mr Right’ is until the very last page. 

My review of Miss Wrong and Mister Right

I shall start by saying that Romantic Comedy is not my preferred genre of reading, but, I wanted to give this book a go, as I had heard so many wonderful things about this author, and I have several of his crime books on my TBR pile. Well, I really enjoyed this book, and it did make me laugh, something that a lot of RomComs fail to do.

So the book begins when Natalie leaves her fiancé, Jamie, at the altar. The reason she gives is that they are too young, and she doesn't want to be trapped in the village for the rest of her life. She does love Jamie, but she wants to live her life before settling down. Everything seems to have happened far too quickly. This I could fully understand. So, fast forward fifteen years and Natalie has a successful career in London's West End. She believes that she has now got her life all sorted out, but how wrong could she be? She begins to question her relationship with her boyfriend, Benjamin, and then when Jamie shows back up in her life, he complicates matters even more.

This book does differ to many books in this genre, as it has depth and characters that we can relate to. Very often I read RomComs with shallow characters, who are only concerned with their looks and are incredibly superficial, whereas this book is the polar opposite. Natalie is a character that I liked from the very first page. With her frizzy hair and carefree attitude, how could I not like her? She is a woman who has ambition and more importantly, knows her own mind.

I loved all of the characters in this book. We have the Slovak gran, who was hugely entertaining and completely authentic. The character who I truly loved though was Jamie, the boy next door who had 'done good' and 'gone far.' My heart truly ached for him at having lost the love of his life.

Miss Wrong and Mister Right  is a hugely enjoyable read and a lovely way to escape the gritty realities of every day life. I guessed the ending, but this didn't really matter, in a way I felt that I was meant to guess how the book would end, that  I was in on the conspiracy. This book is ideal for those who love their RomCom's that are also fast paced and witty. If you are not a fan of RomComs, then I urge you to give this book a whirl!

Miss Wrong and Mister Right  is published by Bookouture and can be found on Amazon here.


About the author

Robert Bryndza is the author of the international #1 bestseller The Girl in the Ice. The Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller is the first book in the Detective Erika Foster series.

The Night Stalker, and Dark Water are the second and third books in the series, and you can now pre-order the fourth, Last Breath which will be published on April 12th 2017.

Robert's books have sold over 1.7 million copies, and have been translated into 26 languages.

In addition to writing crime fiction, Robert has published a bestselling series of romantic comedy novels. He is British and lives in Slovakia.

You can find out more about the author at www.robertbryndza.com and on Twitter and Instagram @RobertBryndza

Sign up to Robert Bryndza‘s New Release Mailing List here: http://eepurl.com/UITxz

Friday, 7 April 2017

Butterfly on the Storm: Heartland Trilogy Book 1 by Walter Lucius






About Butterfly on the Storm: Heartland Trilogy Book 1


A young boy is found in woods outside Amsterdam. Broken and bloody, he appears to be the victim of a brutal hit-and-run. When the police at the hospital ask what happened, the one word the boy repeats they don't understand.

But journalist Farah Hafez does. She left Afghanistan as a child and she recognizes her native tongue. As the boy is taken into surgery she finds herself visiting the scene of the crime, seeking to discover how a little Afghan boy came to be so far from home.

Instead, she comes across a burnt-out car with two bodies inside - a sinister clue to something far darker than a simple road accident.

It is just the start of a journey that will lead her from one twisted strand to another in an intricate web of crime and corruption that stretches across Europe and deep into a past that Farah had sought to escape - a past that nearly killed her.

Butterfly on the Storm is the first in a tense, atmospheric and gripping new trilogy which has drawn parallels with Stieg Larsson's Millennium series.



My review of Butterfly on the Storm: Heartland Trilogy Book 1


Well, this is a Dutch noir novel on a massively grand scale, and I hugely enjoyed it. This is the first book in a trilogy that introduces us to many interesting characters, whom I know I will enjoy getting to know more about in the following two books.

Butterfly on the Storm opens with a powerful prologue that literally draws you in. I could not put this book down. We learn that a young boy has been found in the woods of the Amsterdamse Bos, presumably a hit and run. With the boy left for dead, it is up to the police to find out what happened to him, and from this point on there are a series of events that link several characters together for the reminder of the book, as we visit Africa and Russia as the story progresses and the tension mounts. What begins as a young boy found for dead, dressed in girls' clothes and make-up, turns into something even more sinister and which spans the globe.

Now, the beginning for me was a little implausible, in the description of the police procedures that took pace. Firstly, we have the police arriving on the scene, once the young boy has been taken to hospital. They cordon off the area, but that seems to be all that they do. They do not do a thorough search, even though the boy was found in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. Then they let a journalist, Farrah Hafez, enter the crime scene and answer her questions. They fail to pick up a piece of vital evidence, that Farrah later on finds very easily, and they also fail to locate a nearby manner house. Additionally, a car is found on fire a short distance away in the woods, but they fail to piece the two incidents together, even with two bodies found inside the wreckage. These points niggled me, and although they didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book, these aspects did push the boundaries of reality.

This book is full of colourful and descriptive characters, all flawed in some way. Some I loved, others I detested, but all were interesting. We have the police duo of Joshua Calvino, a young Italian detective, and his senior partner, Marouan Diba. Calvino is like an open book, instantly likeable, whereas, Diba took some getting used to, and as we learn, he has his own secrets to hide. The two worked very well together on the page, they bounced off each other, and I liked this pairing of good cop and bad cop. For me though, it was the strong women that took centre stage in this hovel.

Farah Hafez is a strong yet confusing character. She has a heart of gold, and is incredibly sensitive, yet is a woman who has anger issues and whom beat her fighting opponent into a pulp. She took a long while for me to grasp, but I did eventually like her. Dr Danielle Bernson, the doctor who attends the young boy is instantly more likeable, but we learn that she is strong because she has to be, because of what has happened to her in the past. Both women have a past that they would like to forget, but they are determined to not let their past lives shape who they are today.

Butterfly on the Storm has been compared to Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series (which I loved), but to do so is unfair. Perhaps the comparison has been made because of the fact that Farah is a journalist? That she is helping the police to solve this brutal crime, in very much the same way as Mikael Blomkvist assists the police?  But for me this was where the comparisons ended. 

Butterfly on the Storm should be judged on its own merits. This is an ambitious book, one that deals with tough and difficult subjects, and I feel it's true magnitude and presence will only be fully realised once the trilogy is complete. I enjoyed reading this first book and eagerly await to read the second book in the Dutch noir series.

With thanks to Penguin and NetGalley for the Advanced Reader Copy.

Butterfly on the Storm: Heartland Trilogy Book, is published by Penguin on 30 Mar. 2017. It can be found on Amazon here.


About the author

Walter Lucius is the pseudonym of screenwriter, director and producer Walter Goverde. Walter used to be a stage director, and also produced dramas, documentaries and various television series. 

He founded Odyssee Producties, an audio-visual company with which he carried out several projections for a number of Dutch government ministries.

Butterfly on the Storm is the first instalment of the Heartland Trilogy and his fiction debut.