Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Secrets of the Dead by Carol Wyer #bookreview

 
 
 
About Secrets of the Dead
 
Colourful, plastic boats were scattered in puddles on the floor. In the bathtub lay Linda Upton, fully-clothed, lips a shade of blue, and bloodshot eyes wide open.

When a young mother is found drowned in the bath, clutching a receipt saying ‘all debts paid’, Detective Robyn Carter knows it’s just the beginning of a harrowing case. She recognises the signs of a serial killer, and when a second victim with a receipt is found, her worst fears are confirmed.

With the local press whipping the public into a frenzy, Robyn is under pressure to solve the crime yesterday. But her team can’t find a link between the two bodies, and the cracks are starting to show.

Just when her leads have dried up, Robyn discovers an unsettling clue she thinks could unlock the case. But as she chases across the plush carpets and manicured lawns of the wealthy elite, honing in on the killer’s shocking motive, one of her own is put in terrible danger.

Can Robyn stop the most twisted killer of her career before it’s too late?
 
My review of Secrets of the Dead

Secrets of the Dead is the second installment in the Detective Robyn Carter series. I read the first novel, Little Girl Lost, late last year and really enjoyed it. I was therefore really looking forward to reading Secrets of the Dead and this novel didn't disappoint. This is an engaging, psychological crime thriller with many interesting characters and one twisted killer.

The story begins when the manager of a hotel spa is found dead in the sauna room. His body is burned beyond all recognition and his cause of death is believed to be that of a heart attack and an unfortunate accident. The case is closed, but when Robyn meets a woman who knew the deceased man, and who believes that his death was no accident, then Robyn also begins to have doubts and starts her own mini investigation. What follows is a series of gruesome murders, all with 'debts paid' notes left at the scene. But, what connects the murders and who is responsible?

Robyn is a woman with a tragic past, a woman who lost her partner and unborn baby and who lives with this buried pain and guilt. Her past is what shapes her into the strong and determined woman that we see on the page. She is fiercely independent and will fight for justice and what she believes is the 'right thing' mo matter what the consequences. It is Robyn who fuels these novels. I found myself drawn to her, wondering what she was thinking and what her next move would be. It is so refreshing to read about a strong woman, in a professional role, who is also vulnerable. Robyn answers to no one but herself, and I love her for it.

I must also mention Robyn's cousin Ross, the private detective, as he is also one of my other favourite characters. In a way, he is the complete opposite of Robyn. He is happily married, wears his heart on his sleeve and is happy to play the bumbling fool to get a job done. I don't know why but he does remind me a little of Lieutenant Columbo. I really do have a soft spot for Ross, and without his help, and his wife's, Robyn would have a more difficult time in solving the case.

The plot for Secrets of the Dead is a complicated one, but one that is also easy to follow. We read differing viewpoints,  as well as those from the unknown murderer, that help to shape the plot and give meaning to what is happening and why. There are a lot of murders in this book, all poignant, but one in particular I found unsettling. This is where the young mother is found dead in her bathtub, surrounded by plastic boats. I had to take a little time out after reading that scene, before I could carry on.

The question I kept asking myself was why this person was doing what they did? The answer truly surprised me in its plausibility and I realised I had completely misunderstood the motive. I really was shocked by the ending, but in a good way. This is what makes the novel truly remarkable, nothing is as simple as it seems.

Secrets of the Dead is a gripping, imaginative and compelling read for those who love psychological crime thrillers. I enjoyed this book immensely and look forward to reading the next case that Robyn Carter will solve.

With thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for the Advanced Reader Copy 

Secrets of the Dead is published by Bookouture on May 30 and is available to order from Amazon here

About the author

Carol E. Wyer is an award-winning author whose humorous books take a light-hearted look at getting older and encourage others to age disgracefully. More recently she has chosen to write for the "dark side" and embarked on a series of thrillers, starting with the gripping best-seller, Little Girl Lost.
Her book Grumpy Old Menopause won The People's Book Prize Award for non-fiction 2015.
Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing 'Irritable Male Syndrome' and 'Ageing Disgracefully' and on BBC Breakfast television. She has had articles published in national magazines 'Woman's Weekly' featured in 'Take A Break', 'Choice', 'Yours' and 'Woman's Own' magazines and writes regularly for The Huffington Post.
Carol is a signed author with Bookouture and Delancey Press.

To learn more about Carol, go to www.carolewyer.co.uk or follow Carol on Twitter: @carolewyer. Carol blogs at www.facing50withhumour.com and www.grumpyoldmenopause.com






 

Saturday, 27 May 2017

One Endless Summer by Laurie Ellingham #bookreview

 

 

 About One Endless Summer

Three best friends.
Three continents.
Three months to live.

How long can you keep a secret?

Three best friends are embarking on an all-expenses paid trip of their dreams. The only catch? Every moment will be documented on film.

Lizzie’s battle with cancer is coming to an end, and now she’s ready to embrace adventure for the very first time. There are only three months, but it is Lizzie’s time to finally start living!

Jaddi is known for her stunning looks, flirtatious attitude and many conquests. But Jaddi has a secret and on this last trip together she needs to decide whether her best friends will ever know the real her.

Samantha has always been the ‘grown up’ of the group, the one with a five year plan. What Lizzie and Jaddi don’t know is that Sam is trapped, and her perfect life isn’t quite what it seems…

As they trek across the globe Lizzie, Jaddi and Samantha must come to terms with loss, love and trusting one another. But will it all be too late…

My review of One Endless Summer

I absolutely loved this innovative and truly original story about three friends travelling the world. Lizzie, Jaddi  and Samantha all have their own hidden secrets and reasons for embarking upon the holiday of a lifetime, even if they are going to be filmed 24/7 for a reality television show. I loved this story from beginning to end and was so sad when it ended.

From the book's blurb you might be fooled into thinking that this will be a depressing read about a young woman on holiday with her two best friends, making the most of things with only three months to live. But, don't be fooled into thinking that this is what the book is all about, because it isn't. This is a remarkable book, in that it is incredibly uplifting, not depressing in the least, in fact there are many funny moments,  and segments of the book that are particularly thoughtful in terms of its portrayal of a young woman with terminal cancer. The author has got the balance just right, in explaining what life is like for Lizzie, while at the same time not allowing the cancer to take over her unique character.

I loved all of the characters in this book. All different, all likeable in different ways and all with their own unique story to tell. The main story obviously revolves around Lizzie, as the reason they are on an all expenses paid holiday, curtsey of the television production company, is because she only has three months to live. This is her story. From the moment I met her on the page, I had an instant understanding of who she was and what she was about. I connected most with her. Jaddi, is the best friend who is opinionated, forthright and the organiser. She is the one that they all look to for guidance. But as the story unfolds, her true character is revealed, and when her true colours are revealed , I liked her even more. Lastly we have Samantha, and for me, it did take a lot longer for me to 'get her', but when I did, I also really liked her. For me, her secret was the hardest to swallow, and one that was hard to digest.

The plot of One Endless Summer is fast, twisty and at times it left me breathless, as I was swept along with the girls as they flew from one country to the next. I must admit that I also fell a little bit in love with Ben, the cameraman, who accompanied the girls on their travels. A gentle giant, whom I knew we would learn more about as the story unfolded. I think that we all need a Ben in our lives.

One Endless Summer is a story about loss, friendship, secrets but ultimately the root of this book is embedded in love. It truly is a fascinating read and one that I feel is the perfect summer read. I enjoyed this book immensely, it was such a treat to read, and I look forward to reading more by Laurie Ellingham.

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

One Endless Summer is published by HQ on April 20 and is available to buy from Amazon here




About the author

When I am not running around after my two children, my husband, our cockerpoo Rodney, or just plain running, I love nothing more than disappearing into the fictional world of my characters, preferably with a large coffee and a slab of chocolate cake to hand.

I have a First Class degree in Psychology and a background in Public relations, both of which help me in everything I do.

Thank you for your interest. You can follow me on Twitter - @laurieellingham - find me on Facebook - Laurie Ellingham Author - visit my website - www.laurie-ellingham.com - or email me at info@laurie-ellingham.com

Friday, 26 May 2017

Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee #bookreview




About Broken Branches
Family curses don't exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don't think so.'

A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.

My review of Broken Branches

I shall start this review by writing that this book touched me deeply, it crawled under my skin and I still find myself thinking about Ian and his story. Broken Branches is an important book about menial health. The book is a tale about the importance of family, of a family's curse and of the bonds that are formed and broken within a family. It's an emotional read and it still has its claws in me.

Broken Branches is a difficult novel to review, in terms of giving the plot away. The novel begins with Ian and his wife, Rachel, returning to Cobweb Cottage with their young son, Harry. A family tragedy, involving Ian's older brother, Stuart, occurred in the cottage which then enabled them to return to the family home. Ian and Stuart had lived there as children, with their mum and dad. Ian and Rachel are filled with hope for a new life together in the country, but what unfolds is a story of grief, dealing with the past and your innermost demons.

This story is multi layered, it bounces backwards and forwards in time to when they first moved into the cottage and then to the present day. We read Ian's thoughts as he walks about the cottage, processing what has happened in the past and his life today. He is immersed in a life that he believes is powered by the family curse, stemming from his lost ancestors who lived in the cottage. The imagery and language that is used, imposes such a dark and sinister edge to this novel, that we believe Ian when he talks about the family curse and when he then begins to investigate if the curse is actually true. The cottage almost appears as a living and breathing dark force within the novel, making all who live in it captive. There is such an oppressive feeling to the cottage and its surroundings, including the large and looming tree, that is ever present.

I particularly liked the passages where Ian was alone in his study working. He is a website editor and freelance writer. So the den under the house is where he sits and writes, and it is also where his music collection is housed. During the course of the book he begins to do less work and focusses instead on learning about his family history and the family curse. The music that is used as a soundtrack to Ian's story is also very clever. I smiled when he chose Pearl Jam's Vitalogy album, (I still love the song Better Man), as it remanded him of his student days. I thought to myself that we must be of a similar age, as I too played this when living in student digs.

Nothing is quite as it seems in this book, and I was never too sure if Ian was telling the truth, or if his mind was playing tricks on him. Is he a reliable narrator, or is he suffering from a mental breakdown? It wasn't until the very end, that the truth was revealed, and I am still reeling from the revelation now. I closed the book once I had read the final sentence and just had to sit and think for a little while. It had such a profound effect upon me.

Broken Branches is a dark read, focussing upon mental health issues and the subject of depression. Both of which are tackled sensitively and with dignity. Depression and suicide are still viewed as taboo subjects, but book's such as this push those boundaries and open up a dialogue. It is for this reason that I feel that this book is very special. Not only is it a fantastic spooky tale with much depth, but it also tackles those psychological issues that nobody really want to talk about. It tackles those issues head on, and for that I praise the author. Broken Branches really is an important and compelling read.


With thanks to Hideaway Fall for providing a paperback copy for review purposes.

Broken Branches is published by Hideaway Fall on 27 July 2017 and is available to pre order form Amazon here.


About the author

M. Jonathan Lee (also known as Jonathan Lee) was born in 1974. He is an award-winning novelist who has had two novels in the #10 Amazon charts. He was born in Yorkshire, northern England where he still lives today.

His first novel, the critically-acclaimed The Radio was shortlisted for The Novel Prize 2012 and is the first in the loosely titled The 'The' trilogy. His second novel, The Page (the second in The 'The' trilogy) was released in January 2015.

His third novel A Tiny Feeling of Fear was released in September 2015. It has been hailed as 'original and inspiring' by Sunday Times best-selling author, Milly Johnson.

He is working closely with Rethink and Mind Charities to raise awareness of mental health issues, and is a regular commentator on the BBC.

He signed a four-book deal in February 2015 and is currently writing a non-fiction rock biography about Boston-based band Hallelujah the Hills. He is also writing three further fiction titles, the first of which is to be released in late 2017.

His fourth novel, Broken Branches is due out in July 2017, published by Hideaway Fall.

More details including contact information can be found at his website: www.jonathanleeauthor.com

He is happy to talk to anyone...





Thursday, 25 May 2017

Blood Sisters by Jane Corry #bookreview





Three little girls set off to school one sunny May morning.
Within an hour, one of them is dead.
Fifteen years later, Alison and Kitty are living separate lives. Kitty lives in a care home. She can't speak, and she has no memory of the accident that put her here, or her life before it.
Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. When a job in a prison comes up she decides to take it - this is her chance to finally make things right.
But someone is watching Kitty and Alison.
Someone who wants revenge for what happened that day.
And only another life will do...


My review of Blood Sisters



Blood Sisters is a thoroughly gripping, unsettling and entertaining read from Jane Corry. I read this book fairly quickly, as I was simply unable to put it down. I had to find out what had happened that fateful day and who was behind the present day act of revenge. The chapters are also short, which helped to propel me quickly through the book, from one cliffhanger to the next. Nothing is as it first seems with this book, it really is a clever read. 

Blood Sisters is a novel of two stories. The story of before the accident in 1991 and the story fifteen years later. The novel flips backwards and forwards between the two with ease, there is no confusion as to what timeframe you are in. We are also given two different viewpoints, those of Kitty, and her stepsister, Alison. 

Alison is an art teacher, who teaches an evening class. Her speciality is working with glass. It is while working at the college that she reads an advert, a job vacancy for an art teacher at the local prison. Alison takes the job, believing that she can make a difference, but this is the start of a harrowing journey that harks back to her past. I found Alison to be a complex, but likeable character. She is the good girl, the good sister, who carries the guilt with her in what happened 15 years ago. I couldn't help but pity her.

Kitty, on the other hand is portrayed as the bad sister, the girl who was spoilt, who was petty and self centred. She now lives in a care home, has a learning disability and is confined to a wheelchair, unable to communicate with others, although as a reader we are able to hear her innermost thoughts and feelings. She answers questions and states her feelings to us, the reader, with the other characters having to guess what she is trying to tell them. I found the portrayal of Kitty and her disability hugely refreshing.  Instead of focussing upon the disability, we focus on her, and this made a refreshing change. It was clear to me, that the author had either a personal understanding of individuals with disabilities and learning difference, or that she had conducted a lot of research. Either way, Kitty was hugely believable, as were the other residents living in the care home.

This is a slow burning psychological thriller to begin with, but the pace soon dramatically picks up through the energetic and complex plot, helped by the short chapters. I was constantly wondering who wanted to seek revenge for what had happened all those years ago. Who really was the good sister, and was what happened truly an accident? So many questions whirled around my mind as I raced to finish the book.

Blood Sisters is a novel about guilt, about the secrets we all hide and the bond that stepsisters share. It really is an enjoyable read.

Blood Sisters is published by Penguin on 29 June and is available to pre order on Amazon here.

With thanks to NetGalley and Penguin for the Advanced Reader Copy


About the author

Jane Corry is a writer and journalist who has written regularly for numerous newspapers and magazines including The Daily Telegraph Weekend section, the Mail on Sunday and Woman. She has spent time working as the writer-in-residence of a high security prison for men - an experience that helped inspire My Husband's Wife, her d├ębut thriller. 'I love twists and turns that keep the reader guessing until the very end! My husband says I'm a nightmare to watch dramas with as I love to work out who did it before the final revelation!'

You can find Jane on Twitter at @JaneCorryAuthor and on Facebook at JaneCorryAuthor.

Jane runs regular writing workshops and speaks at literary festivals all over the world, including The Women's Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy. Until her recent move to Devon, she was a tutor in creative writing at Oxford University. She is also an associate member of the Royal Literary Fund.

Many of Jane's ideas come during her morning dog-jog along the beach followed by a dip in her wetsuit. (She's an all-year-round swimmer provided the sea isn't dangerous.) Jane also loves tennis, walking, reading, yoga, the 'Quiet' train carriage (a great 'office' for writing) and her family. She's still coming to terms with being an empty-nester but makes up for it with lots of long-distance nagging! Jane's second husband was a bachelor family friend who is also Godfather to her children. He makes her laugh every day although they can't agree on how to load the dishwasher!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The Lies Within by Jane Isaac #bookreview #BlogTour






About The Lies Within

Be under no illusions by her kind face and eloquent manner… This woman is guilty of murder.
Grace Daniels is distraught after her daughter's body is found in a Leicestershire country lane. With her family falling apart and the investigation going nowhere, Grace's only solace is the re-emergence of Faye, an old friend who seems to understand her loss.
DI Will Jackman delves into the case, until a family tragedy and a figure from his past threaten to derail him.
When the police discover another victim, the spotlight falls on Grace. Can Jackman find the killer, before she is convicted of a crime she didn't commit?
A gripping thriller perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, S.J. Watson, B A Paris and Sophie Hannah


My review of The Lies Within




The Lies Within is the third instalment in the DI Will Jackman series. It is a fast paced thriller that gripped me from the very first page, and which knocked my breath away at the very end. Although this novel is part of a series, it works very well as a stand alone novel. This novel is very clever, it draws you in, and I couldn't help but become immersed in this fascinating story.

The novel begins in a court of law, as we watch Grace Daniels being accused of murder. We have no idea who this woman is, who she killed. or even if she is guilty, but this beginning made me want to find out those answers and to learn more about this seemingly normal everyday housewife and mother. The story then rewinds and shifts to that of a young woman, who is found murdered late one night in a Leicestershire country lane. The woman is Jo, Grace's daughter. Once again I wanhted to know what had happened to this young woman, what her story was and how the two storylines were connected.

The investigation into Jo's death is led by DI Will Jackman, a likeable man, a people person who has integrity and loyalty running through his veins. More importantly his gut instinct is never wrong, and he uses his gut in this case to find out what happened to Jo. Will is such a likeable character, you can't help but immediately warm and connect to him. His back story is also an interesting one, the wife who was involved in a car accident and who suffered a brain injury, resulting in 'locked in' syndrome, helps to shed insight into his beliefs and the way he behaves.

All of the characters in this novel are interesting. We have Faye, the long lost friend who becomes reacquainted with Grace after Jo's murder. Is this woman quite what she seems? While reading I wasn't quite sure if I could trust her, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. She made me feel uneasy, but I didn't know why. Then we have Lydia, Grace's other daughter, Jo's younger sister, who has her own story to tell. I felt so sorry for this young teenager, having to grieve  yet support her mother at the same time.

Ms Isaac wrtes so beautifully, she brings the chatacers to life and I couldn't help but empathise with them and what they were going through. This, teamed with the fast pace and gripping narrative leads to one fantastic and enjoyable  read. The Lies Within really is a cracking read, that will keep you guessing until the very end.

The Lies Within, published by Legend Press on May 2 can be found on Amazon here.

With thanks to Legend Press for the Advanced Reader Copy.



About the author



Jane Isaac lives with her husband, daughter and dog, Bollo, in rural Northamptonshire, UK. Her debut novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, introduces DCI Helen Lavery and was nominated as best mystery in the 'eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013.'

The Truth Will Out, the second in the DCI Helen Lavery series, was nominated as 'Thriller of the Month - April 2014' by E-thriller.com and winner of 'Noveltunity book club selection - May 2014'.

In 2015 Jane embarked on a new series, featuring DI Will Jackman and set in Stratford upon Avon, with Before It's Too Late. The second in the series, Beneath The Ashes, will be published by Legend Press on 1st November 2016 with the 3rd, The Lies Within, to follow on 2nd May 2017.

Both DI Jackman and DCI Lavery will return again in the near future. Sign up to Jane's newsletter on her website at www.janeisaac.co.uk for details of new releases, events and giveaways.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Comfort of Others by Kay Langdale #bookreview



 
About The Comfort of Others


Minnie and her sister Clara, spinsters both, live in a dilapidated country house in the middle of a housing estate, built when their father sold off the family's land. Now in their seventies, their days follow a well-established routine: long gone are the garden parties, the tennis lessons and their suffocatingly strict mother. Gone, too, is any mention of what happened when Minnie was sixteen, and the secret the family buried in the grounds of their estate.
 
Directly opposite them lives Max, an 11-year-old whose life with his mum has changed beyond recognition since her new boyfriend arrived. Cast aside, he takes solace in Minnie's careful routine, observed through his bedroom window.
 
Over the course of the summer, both begin to tell their stories: Max through a Dictaphone, Minnie through a diary. As their tales intertwine, ghosts are put to rest and challenges faced, in a story that is as dark as it is uplifting.

 
My review of The Comfort of Others


The Comfort of Others is a novel about friendship, family and living with secrets that are too painful to reveal.  I loved this novel for its gentleness, its honesty and for its poignancy. This is such a beautiful book. It is both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. 

The novel is told from the viewpoints of two central characters. Max is an eleven-year-old boy who lives with his mother in a terraced house on a council estate. Opposite where he lives stands Rosemount House, where two elderly ladies live, Minnie and her sister, Clara. The house once stood alone in he middle of sprawling fields, but their father decided to sell the land and to build houses for the workers. 

The story begins with Max. He wants to be an author, but because his writing skills aren't that great, he decides to use his mother's old Dictaphone to tell his story. The story he tells is of life with his mother and her new boyfriend. He feels unwanted, cast aside, and so his oral journal becomes his coping mechanism. It is this decision, that has a direct and positive impact upon Minnie. She watches the little boy from the comfort of her living room, she sees him speaking into his Dictaphone, and from doing so gets the idea that she too, could perhaps write a diary and tell the story of her own life. Although they have never met, just merely seen each other when sitting in their own homes across the wide road from each other,  they begin to share a bond, a common understanding, and their two stories inevitably become one.
 
I found these characters hugely engaging. It was lovely to hear personal stories from both ends of the age spectrum. Max's voice was particularly strong and very much that of a young boy. The dialogue was clever and I believed what Max had to tell me. I felt for him, a little boy who simply wanted to be seen, heard and valued. For me though, it was Minnie who won my heart. Here is a woman who has lived a secret life, a life that cannot be seen on the lines of her face, or in her actions. It is through Max's strength in starting his own journal, that Minnie draws the strength to examine her own past. Minnie is the kind of woman I would dearly love to have a cup of tea and a slice of cake with, while putting the world to rights.
 
This really is such a beautiful story. It is seeped in sadness, a somewhat bittersweet story that had me sobbing in parts, but ultimately it is a story of strength and of dealing with the hardships of life. This is true for both characters, young and old. One particular scene concerning Minnie I found to be very upsetting, but it was pivotal to the plot, the novel centred on this moment in time, it made Minnie the woman she became. 
 
I adored this novel. In a world were many books are fast paced, it was lovely to simply sit and read this book at its natural, gentle pace. The Comfort of Others, truly is a delightful and very special book.
 
The Comfort of Others, published by Hodder Paperbacks on 6 April 2017, can be found on Amazon here.



About the author

Kay Langdale is the author of five novels: AWAY FROM YOU, CHOOSE ME, HER GIANT OCTOPUS MOMENT, WHAT THE HEART KNOWS (Rowolht, Germany) and REDEMPTION (Transita, published as If Not Love by Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Press). Visit Kay's website at www.kaylangdale.com. Follow her on Twitter:@kaylangdale.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Dating the Undead by Juliet Lyons - #Blog Tour






About Dating the Undead


Pub date: May 2, 2017
Genre: Paranormal Romance

WOMAN SEEKING VAMPIRE: Likes to keep things casual Absolutely no poetry Zero romance required. Silver Harris is over clingy men — maybe men altogether. But when she shares a toe-curling kiss with a sexy Irish vampire on New Year's Eve, she wonders if maybe it's human men she's fed up with.

Silver turns to the popular vampire dating site, V-Date, only to discover that vampire men are just as unimpressive as their mortal counterparts. And her mysterious hottie? He ’ s nowhere to be found. Can ’ t a girl catch a break? Logan Byrne can't get that sassy redhead — or that kiss! — out of his head.

When his boss assigns him to spy on V- Date, he meets Silver again. Turns out, the police are recruiting human s to snitch on vampires through the dating site. As the snark and sparks fly, feelings between Silver and Logan deepen. But, when old demons resurface — literally — Logan isn't sure he can shield either of them from the dangers that have been lying in wait for centuries.  



Below I can share with you an exclusive excerpt from Juliet Lyons debut novel, Dating the Undead . Enjoy!

Excerpt
I freeze in terror. What a waste of Dad’s money those self-defense classes turned out to be.
“Silver, it’s just me,” a lilting Irish voice says at my ear, the hand dropping from my shoulder.
I turn around to find myself nose to nose with my vampire from New Year’s Eve, his bright green eyes piercing mine.
I’m struck by several conflicting emotions all at once—anger, relief, and in a tiny measure—happiness. Anger wins out. On impulse, I slap him hard across the face, pointing with a white, clenched hand to the garden I’ve just sprinted across.
“I thought I was about to be murdered, asshole,” I hiss through my teeth. “I ripped my coat. My heels are ruined. All because you thought it might be fun to follow me home.”
He smirks, nonplussed, sliding his hands into the deep pockets of his navy pea coat. “I wasn’t following you,” he says, eyes twinkling.
“Oh, that’s right,” I say, voice dripping with sarcasm. “You were just walking me home again. Except this time from fifty yards behind and without me knowing.”
Before he has a chance to reply, the front door flies open and my landlady Vera emerges in a long, silky, oriental dressing gown. She is wigless for once, a Pucci scarf twisted into a makeshift turban covering her head. In her right hand, she holds a meat cleaver.
“Step away, you rapist bastard!” she yells, holding the large knife shakily aloft.
I glare at the vampire, expecting him to either throw his hands in the air or take a step backwards. Instead his brows knit together and his mouth drops open. “Etta Marlow?” he asks, staring at her as if she just walked on water.
The meat cleaver lowers a fraction. “What’s it to you?” Vera demands, her voice losing some of its previous menace.
I roll my eyes. Of course he remembers her. He’s probably seen all her films.
“It is you!” he erupts, wagging a finger in her direction. “You’re Etta Marlow! You played Susie De Sousa in Girl Uptown with Gregor Lane. I love that movie.”
The meat cleaver drops, forgotten, to her side as she pats her turban, eyelashes fluttering. “Fancy you recognizing me,” she mutters happily.
“Excuse me, Vera,” I interject, “but there’s still a potential rapist on your doorstep here.”
Vera looks back to the vampire, who shakes his head, smiling. “A misunderstanding, Etta. I was making sure Silver here made it home safely. She got the wrong end of the stick.”
Vera, or Etta as she was once known, glances over at me. “Do you know this charming fellow, dear?”
I scowl at them both. “Well, yes, but— “
“Well then, you must come in, dear boy. I could show you my Oscar, if you like?”
The Vampire looks as if he’s about to pee himself with excitement. “You mean the one you got for Days Like These with Vic Stevens?”
She holds out a thin hand towards him, gold bangles jangling on her wrist. “The very one, dear. Come, come in.”
I watch, stunned, as he takes her hand, green eyes lit up in excitement.
Before stepping through the door, he hangs back. “Ms. Marlow, I’m afraid it’s only courteous to let you know before I enter that I’m not human. I’m a vampire.”
Vera’s tinkly laugh echoes around the street like a bicycle bell. “Oh, you’re so sweet. Didn’t you know I’ve met dozens of vampires? They’re two a penny in Hollywood, darling.”
Following her across the threshold, he flashes the cockiest of grins. “Coming, Silver?”
My jaw drops in disgust. I’m tempted to sulk off to my basement flat, but instead, I trail after them and slam the door.
We follow Vera along an elegant gold and cream hallway into her immaculate, monochrome front room. Even though I’ve been here on numerous occasions, I’m always mesmerized by the sheer extravagance of the place—buttery white leather sofas, cream fur rugs, one wall is painted black and white to resemble piano keys. It should look tacky, but somehow, it works.
“You two make yourselves at home whilst I go and make myself presentable.” Vera says. “Then I’ll dig out that old Oscar of mine.”
I know, of course, the Oscar will not have to be ‘dug’ out of anywhere. It’s always on display in the den, alongside her film stills and other memorabilia.
“I didn’t catch your name,” she croons to the vampire before she leaves.
He puts a hand on his chest. “Forgive me, I should have introduced myself. Between the meat cleaver threat and getting slapped by Silver here, I seem to have forgotten my manners. I’m Logan. Logan Byrne.”
For strange and unfathomable reasons, my stomach flips. Logan. It suits him.
“Charming,” Vera says. “Don’t you go anywhere, Mr. Byrne.”
As soon as Vera disappears from the room, Logan collapses into one of the white leather arm chairs and puts his crossed feet onto the cut glass coffee table.
I’m still standing, one brow arched, arms folded across my chest. “So, Logan,” I hiss. “What the hell is this?”
He grins, dimples putting in their first appearance of the night as he gazes up at me. “Did anyone ever tell you, you’re particularly beautiful when you’re angry?”
“Oh, cut the crap,” I say,  ignoring the hot flush climbing my neck. “Why did you follow me?”
“Like I told Etta, I wanted to make sure you got home safely, that’s all. Though I’m a little confused as to why you have three houses.” He holds up fingers to count. “The one I left you at on New Year’s, the one Nathaniel dropped you at, and now this—cohabiting with an aged 1940’s screen siren.”
“It’s none of your business,” I say, chin in the air. “And anyway, how do you know Nathaniel?”
He shrugs. “I know most of the vampires in London.”
I humpth. “I bet you do.”
In the blink of an eye, he is towering over me, face inches from mine. I inhale his clean, masculine scent like a drowning person coming up for air, and as he leans closer, I find myself gravitating towards him—a flower reaching for sunlight.
He pulls the collar of my coat aside and peers into the gap. As his fingers brush my jaw, an uncontrollable shiver zings through me. I disguise it by stepping out of reach and batting his hand away.
“He did a messy job on your neck,” he says, in a low voice.
“What’s it to you?” I snap.
Before I realize what’s happening, he closes the gap between us. One hand cupping my cheek, he bends over, lips brushing the place Nathaniel bit me, tongue gently swiping the puncture holes.
“That should stop the bleeding,” he says, pulling away. “But you’ll still have a bruise in the morning.”
I rub my neck and look at my fingers. No blood. “So, you can heal wounds? Just another of your unique skills along with beating up drunk men and following young women home for kicks?”
He sinks back into the armchair. “You’re a sexy girl, Silver. I’m glad we’ve met again.”
I snort incredulously, trying, without success, to forget the warmth of his hand on my face. “Well, you certainly made sure we did.”
“And of course,” he continues, pretending to examine a photo on the coffee table. “I’m hugely flattered I’ve managed to turn your head towards my kind.”
“You didn’t turn anything,” I say tartly.
He cocks a brow, gaze burning through my clothes like a laser. I feel a sharp twitch between my legs, as though he’s controlling my private areas by some invisible string. “Are you sure about that?”

About the Author






JULIET LYONS is a paranormal romance author from the UK. She holds a degree in Spanish and Latin American studies and works part-time in a local primary school where she spends far to o much time discussing Harry Potter. Since joining global storytelling site Wattpad in 2014, her work has received millions of hits online and gained a legion of fans from all over the world. When she is not writing, Juliet enjoys reading and spending time with her family. Visit: www.julietlyons.co.uk

Website: https://www.julietlyons.co.uk
Twitter: @WriterJLyons
Facebooks: https://www.facebook.com/WriterJLyons Goodreads:
Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/julietlyons

You can buy Dating the Undead on this link: https://www.julietlyons.co.uk/cover-reveal

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Thursday, 18 May 2017

My Sister by Michelle Adams #bookreview




About My Sister

My name is Irini. I was given away.

My name is Elle. I was kept.

All her life Irini thought she was given away because her family didn't want her. What if the truth is something worse?

Two sisters. Two separate lives.

One family bound by a harrowing secret


My review of My Sister

My Sister is a dark, disturbing and uncomfortable read that I enjoyed immensely. The story is told from Irini's point of view, the stater who was given away, and it is through her eyes that we learn the truth behind what happened... and why.

So, this story is about a family which is divided, that was torn apart when Irini was given away at the age of three. Irini has very few memories about this time in her life, and even now as a grown woman she has no idea why her parents made the decision for Irini to live with her aunt, instead of them.

The novel begins when Irini receives a phone call from her estranged sister, Elle, the sister whom her parents chose to keep. From this beginning, this one phone call, I had a slow burning sense of foreboding, that something really bad was going to happen. This book is a slow burner, and deliberately done so to give the book a creepy and unsettling feeling. Although described as a psychological thriller, for me the real thrill of the book was in the slow understanding of what was happening, in he understanding of the characters and in the realisation that their relationship was toxic.

My Sister is so very hard to review without giving the plot away. It is so intricately layered, going backwards and forwards in time, allowing us to glimpse both Irini and Elle in the past and present, which helps to shed light on who they are and why they have such a destructive relationship. Some of the events that take place in the past are truly shocking, but once told, made me realise the complexity and importance of their relationship. So, instead I want to write about how this book made me feel, the way in which the characters made me feel and interacted with each other. The main emphasis is obviously the relationship between Irinii and Elle, and from the start I had the feeling that they were best kept apart. Elle was most obviously a live wire, someone who was hard to contain, and I didn't like her, although I could empathise with her. I also felt slightly the same way towards Irini. Although the protagonist of the story, she was a character who was incredibly hard to like. To be honest, it took me until the very end to get what she was all about, but I actually think that this was the point. That I had to grow to love her, in order to understand her. Having said all that, I did empathise with her, and the situations that she found herself in.

My Sister is not a light read, it is a book with so much depth and understanding about the relationship of sisters. The story is incredibly clever, and almost  a manipulative tale about the bond that sisters share. Even when they are forced to live apart, the bond is never truly broken. I really liked this refreshing spin on the subject of sisters, the clever narrative and the intricate descriptions of events taking place... and as for the ending. Well, it simply took my breath away.

My Sister is published by Headline. The kindle version published on 20 April 2017 is available to by from Amazon here. Paperback published 11 Jan, 2018.

With thanks to the publisher and Bookbridgr for a paperback review copy.

About the author

Michelle Adams grew up in the UK and now lives in Cyprus, where she works as a part-time scientist. She read her first Stephen King novel at the tender age of nine, and has been addicted to suspense fiction ever since. MY SISTER is her first novel.


Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman #bookreview



About Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live
 
Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.
 
Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.
 
One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.
 
Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?


My review of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a book, that once read, is never forgotten. This book really touched me, it is about the kindness of strangers, the fact that life is for living and that we are all equal and deserving of love. At first glance you might be fooled into thinking that this is a kind of light, romantic read about a slightly quirky female in her early thirties, but you would be wrong. This book has incredibly deep roots. It makes you question what life is all about and our relationship with others. I loved this deeply dark and bittersweet tale.

When we first meet Eleanor, she is living her life to a strict structure doing the same things, day in, day out. Her social skills are somewhat lacking, and I did wonder if she had Asperger's syndrome, doe to her routines, lack of social awareness, special interests and difficulty with communicating with others. But as the book progressed as I was not sure if this was the case. I began to think that Eleanor had built a kind of self inflicted prison around herself, due to her upbringing and past circumstances. In essence she had chosen to isolate herself, believing that she was not worthy of love or even friendship.

On paper this novel should read as a sad and slightly quirky story. A woman who eats alone, has no friends and who drinks a couple of bottles of vodka every weekend. But surprisingly this book is incredibly upbeat, inspiring and full of hope. This is due to a few factors. For starters the dialogue is fast, sharp and witty, and I found Eleanor hilarious. This is a woman who says things as she finds them, there is no filter (another reason I thought she might be on the autistic spectrum) and I loved this about her. You get the unvarnished truth from  her. This is one of the reasons that Eleanor does not have many friends, as she seems different, unapproachable, her colleagues do not know what to make of her. But, for me, her dialogue and ways of seeing the world were completely refreshing and I loved this aspect of her character.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is also rooted in normality. I loved the array of characters that Eleanor meets, the new IT guy at the office, Raymond, who becomes a friend, and the various other characters that she meets because of the 'one act of kindness' that changes everything. For me the interaction between her and Raymond is charming and poignant. Their dialogue is natural, almost raw, and I found myself willing their next interaction to see how their friendship would blossom.

This book is a dark, and at times, disturbing read. It does deal with some fairly serious issues including abuse and depression. But all of these issues are not in the novel to sensationalise, but rather to add depth and understanding to the characters, they are integral to the story, they are a part of Eleanor. But as I have already said, these issue for me did not dampen the fact that this book is incredibly uplifting and hopeful. It gave me the feeling that thee is good out there, and that there is a special someone for everyone.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a fresh, original and inspiring book about a woman who is afraid of change and who is chained to her past. But, with the help of others and by being brave, Eleanor learns that life is more than being 'fine'.

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

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is published by HarperCollins on 18 May 2017. It can be found d on Amazon here.










Saturday, 13 May 2017

The Knowing by David Graham #bookreview



About The Knowing

United by destiny, they must stand together to face an ancient evil.....

Ceri Edwards and two school friends lift the lid on an ancient book of recipes belonging to Betty Williams, a volunteer at the local hospital in Pontypridd, South Wales. Two Kansas City cops step off a flight at London Heathrow and one of them falls to the ground with a painful conviction that there's something evil in the air.

United in their destinies, Ceri and the police officers are drawn into a world where prophecies are pitted against invisible forces planning to raze London to the ground and bring down the Royal Family.

It all rests with Dai Williams, recently knighted MI5 agent and reluctant hero, to bring some order to the improbable events and to ensure that afternoon tea at The Ritz continues for another hundred years.

A great cross between Kim Newman and Ben Aaranovitch and a thrill for any fan of contemporary urban horror.

My review of The Knowing

The Knowing is a fabulous urban, horror thriller, that defies its genre. I actually thought that this book was more of a mystery/supernatural/science fiction type of a read... it is most certainly a genre busting book, and I loved it! I also didn't realise that this book follows on from The Screaming, but this book worked for me as a stand alone novel. I will, however, be reading The Screaming in the near future.

The Knowing is set in futuristic London, where Ceri Edwards from Pontypridd, South Wales and police officers from the States, have to fight against invisible forces who are wanting to destroy the country. The prologue sets the scene beautifully for the action to follow, and from that moment on the pace really doesn't let up. Mr Graham writes is such an easy and engaging way, with both humour and wit. Although set in a futuristic dystopian world, I understood completely the world in which these characters lived, as the author had constructed such an elaborate and detailed environment. The world in which they inhabit felt as real to me, as the world in which we live today.

The plot is a complicated and enjoyable one. I don't want to go into it in detail, as it will obviously give the game away, but all I will say is that the plot was well constructed and executed. Just imagine London as a corrupted city, with no mobile phones or internet, as this type of technology has been banned. It's a completely different world.

This book also worked for me because of the rich array of characters who each had their own unique story to tell. I enjoyed all of the characters in this novel, all had their own point of view and I felt like I got to know them.  My favourite character had to be Ceri, a young teenage witch, a quirky and likeable girl, who unleashes much mischief when she opens the book of ancient curses.  I found the way in which she spoke and acted incredibly authentic, just like that of a teenager learning about the world and how to fit into it. She really does have a rite of passage in this novel.

On paper, I really shouldn't have enjoyed this book, as I am not a big horror, urban fantasy reader... but this book, as I have already mentioned, defies being labelled, so if you are not a huge horror fan, do not be put off. This really is a gripping and enjoyable read. I couldn't put it down.

The Knowing, published by Urbane Publications on 30 Mar. 2017 is available to buy from Amazon here.

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


About the author

David Graham lives in an ostensibly carbon zero house in rural Kent with his partner and two cats amidst fields of maize and poly-tunnels of strawberries. Previously, he lived and worked in London as a consultant in the NHS. His previous non-fiction titles include: Medical Computing and Applications, Creative Sound and Computer-Assisted Medical Learning: Clinical Anatomy. David turned his attention to writing fiction in 2012. Since then, he has written one self-published novel (Looks Could Kill) and two traditionally published novels (Captive and Wet & Wild) under the name David Ellis. Looks Could Kill was in the Amazon Kindle Top 10 of spy thrillers and was downloaded more than 3,000 times. Captive was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. He has also written two romance novellas under the name Richard Longfellow. His horror thriller The Screaming was published by Frostbite Publishing in the US in 2014, and by Austin Macauley in the UK in 2015. His new book The Knowing is the sequel to The Screaming and is due to be published early 2017 by Urbane Publications.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen



 About Gone Without a Trace

No one ever disappears completely...
You leave for work one morning.
Another day in your normal life.
Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone.
His belongings have disappeared.
He hasn't been at work for weeks.
It's as if he never existed.
But that's not possible, is it?
And there is worse still to come.
Because just as you are searching for him
someone is also watching you.

 

My review of Gone Without a Trace

Gone Without a Trace is a psychological thriller set in the Wirral, Merseyside. I was initially drawn to this book because I grew up on the Wirral (and still have family there), plus the fact that I was fascinated by the notion that a person, a loved one, could just disappear without a trace. I wanted to know what had happened and why. This book delivered on both counts, but I'll admit that I found it an uncomfortable read.

So, the story begins when Hannah returns home from a successful work conference, wanting to celebrate with her boyfriend, Matt, but she finds that he has gone. He has taken everything that was his, leaving no trace of him, or his personality behind. He has also erased all social media accounts and his contact number from Hannah's phone. She has no way of contacting him. This sent a chill down my spine. The fact that a person could do this, that it was possible to do this, and that your normal, everyday happy existence could be obliterated, just like that.

What follows is Hannah's inner struggle to piece together what happened. Has Matt left her of his own free will? Was he threatened? Had he fallen in with the wrong crowd? Was he taken against his own free will? At first it is unclear what has happened, but slowly Hannah begins to figure out what has happened, as do we.

The characters in this novel are a complex bunch and I didn't really like any of them, but having said that, I think that this was intentional. I could be subjective, watching as an outsider. I even felt like I was watching Hannah from a distance, but in doing so I was able to take a step back and see the bigger picture. I honestly feel that I wasn't meant to get close to her.

As I have already mentioned, this is an uncomfortable read, which became even more uncomfortable after the dramatic plot twist that I honestly didn't see coming. A difficult and taboo subject is raised, and I applaud the author for her bravery in writing about such a sensitive subject. What I also liked was the fact that this novel is very much two stories. The story before and after the plot twist. It very much felt like I was reading two very different stories, but for very obvious reasons. This was a brave thing to do, but for me, it worked.

This is a slow novel to begin with, but an all consuming one all the same. The pace only really picks up about three quarters of the way through, but then there really is no letting up, as we face surprise after surprise. It's almost as if I was lulled into a false sense of security.

Gone Without a Trace is a dark and challenging book, and most definitely lives up to its psychological thriller status. The ending truly shocked me, and I still find myself thinking about Hannah and Matt. This is a hugely enjoyable read that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Gone Without a Trace, published by Headline on 23 Mar 2017 can be bought via Amazon here.

With thanks to the publisher and Bookbridgr, for my paperback copy, for review purposes.


 







Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Death's Silent Judgement by Anne Coates #bookreview





About Death's Silent Judgement

Death's Silent Judgement is the thrilling sequel to Dancers in the Wind, and continues the gripping series starring London-based investigative journalist Hannah Weybridge.

Following the deadly events of Dancers in the Wind, freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is thrown into the heart of a horrific murder investigation when a friend, Liz Rayman, is found with her throat slashed at her dental practice.

With few clues to the apparently motiveless crime Hannah throws herself into discovering the reason for her friend's brutal murder, and is determined to unmask the killer. But before long Hannah's investigations place her in mortal danger, her hunt for the truth placing her in the path of a remorseless killer...

The series is very much in the best traditions of British women crime writers such as Lynda La Plante and Martina Cole.

My review of Death's Silent Judgement

Death's Silent Judgement is the second instalment in the Hanmah Weybridge crime series by Anne Coats, the first book being Dancers in the Wind which I read and very much enjoyed. I couldn't wait to read the continuing saga of Hannah's  ever complicated life, and this book didn't disappoint. It's a fantastic read.

Death's Silent Judgement is set in 1994, and tackles some serious and disturbing issues. The story begins with the murder of Hannah's long term friend, Liz, a dentist who was providing free dental care for the homeless in the area. Hannah had agreed to meet her at her dental clinic, based at the local church, but instead stumbles upon a bloody murder scene, her friend's throat slashed. It is assumed that a homeless patient is responsible for her murder, but Hannah does not believe this to be true, and once contacted by Liz's mother, Lady Rayman, she begins her own investigation to find out what happened to her friend. As  an investigative journalist on retainer with The News, she begins to investigate and it is this investigation that leads Hannah to unearth hidden secrets from Liz's former life, while working as an aid worker in Somalia.

I don't want to give the game away in terms of plot, or the subject matter that is discussed in this book, as it is all interlinked with Liz's death. But I will just say that the author has obviously done much research on the subject and tackles this particular storyline with tact and empathy. The author also does the sane with regards to the homeless community in the novel. It would be very easy to write in a stereotypical manner, but these characters are vividly brought to life, their circumstances realistic and once again their stories are told with great empathy.

This is a story which grabbed my attention from the very beginning. I was thrown into a world of corruption, where those with money have the power. Hannah is a resourceful and strong woman, fighting for justice, with the need to find out who killed her friend. Although much of the subject matter was uncomfortable to read, this was a fascinating and enjoyable book. I had no idea what the outcome would be. The real joy gained by reading this book, is from walking side by side with Hannah as she slowly digs her way to the truth. She is such an interesting character, and because I believe in her, I believe in the story.

I will just mention that although this book can work as a stand alone novel, I do think it is best read after Dancers in the Wind. Many of the characters reappear in this novel and I think you get a richer reading experience when you already know them. I do hope that there are more books to follow in this series, as I believe that there is a lot more for us to discover about Hannah.

Death's Final Judgement is a hugely enjoyable read. Hannah Weybridge is fast becoming one of my favourite literally characters.

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

Death's Silent Judgement, published on May 11 by Urbane Publications can be found on Amazon here.




About the author

For most of her working life in publishing, Anne has had a foot in both camps as a writer and an editor, moving from book publishing to magazines and then freelancing in both. Having edited both fiction and narrative non-fiction, Anne has also had short stories published in a variety of magazines including Bella and Candis and is the author of seven non-fiction books. Born in Clapham, Anne returned to London after graduating and has remained there ever since. In an attempt to climb out of her comfort zone, Anne has twice "trod the boards" - as Prince Bourgrelas in Ubu Roi when a student and more recently as a nun in a local murder mystery production. She also sings periodically in a local church choir and is relieved when she begins and finishes at the same time - though not necessarily on the same note - as everyone else. Needless to say, Anne will not be giving up her day job as an editor and writer. Telling stories is Anne's first love and nearly all her short fiction and novels begin with a real event followed by a "what if ..." That is also the case with the two prize-winning 99Fiction.net stories: Codewords and Eternal Love.