19 Aug 2019

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Book Review / A Shroud of Leaves by Rebecca Alexander

“Finely observed beautifully written” Daily Mail on The Secrets of Life and Death

Archaeologist Sage Westfield has her first forensics case: investigating the murder of a teenage girl. Hidden by holly leaves, the girl’s body has been discovered on the grounds of a stately home, where another teenage girl went missing twenty years ago - but her body was never found. 


With mysterious links between the two disappearances, the police suspect the reclusive owner, Alistair Chorleigh, who was questioned twenty years ago but never charged. But when Sage investigates a nearby burial mound - and uncovers rumours of an ancient curse - she discovers the story of Edwin Masters, his friend Peter Chorleigh, and an excavation over a hundred years ago, that also ended in a mysterious disappearance. 

Still recovering from the traumatic events of her recent past, Sage will need both her modern forensics skills and her historical archaeological knowledge to unearth the devastating truth.


Published:     9th April 2019
Publisher:  Titan Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 2, Sage Westfield
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher



MY REVIEW

Having read Rebecca Alexander's first book, A Baby's Bones, last year (and loved it by the way!), I was so excited to pick this up.  The best way I can describe this is a historic who done it with a bit of a mix of what I can only describe at the moment as almost supernatural.

This story is split between two time lines.   In the first time line, you have Sage in the present day where she is brought in to investigate the murder of a teenage girl.  But this murder is not your ordinary run of the mill murder.  The body is hidden by holly and placed in a way that was almost caring.  Not only that but twenty years previously another person had gone missing.  Sage is assisting in the investigation of not only the current day murder but in the mystery of the missing person from years ago.  In the second time line, you have Edwin Masters and his friend Peter Chorleigh who are excavating the same place where Sage is in the current day but only a hundred years earlier.

The two time lines are weaved together beautifully so that as you are reading Sage's part of the story then the story of Edwin and Peter pop up to explain a bit more of the story.

I could not put this down.  Even though it was 400 pages long I read this in one day, over a very quiet Sunday!!

Also, even though this is book 2 in a series you do not have to read the first book to get what is happening in the second book but, certainly, reading the first book (A Baby's Bones) will give you more of an idea of the bigger picture with the main character, Sage.  



Continue reading Book Review / A Shroud of Leaves by Rebecca Alexander

18 Aug 2019

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RE-READING HARRY POTTER by JK Rowling


 Harry Potter's life is miserable. His parents are dead and he's stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he's a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.

Though Harry's first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it's his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come.


Published:     First published in 1997
Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Books 1 to 7, Harry Potter
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

Harry Potter is one of those book series that I just keep coming back to time and time again.  I believe this is the third time I have read through this series (which is a lot for me, although I do know people who have read these through a lot more than that!) and each time I just love this series more and more.  

This time, I decided to pick up the audio book read by Stephen Fry.  Stephen Fry just made this incredible series even more incredible and enjoyable with perfect pacing and different voices for each of the characters I did, for a short time but had to look up to check, believe that it was not just him reading this!  

I just could never get bored of this series. There's always something new that I notice each time I read/listen to this series.  For me, I noticed more about the character of Ron especially how loyal he was.  His little comments throughout the series had me laughing for ages. 

For fans of Harry Potter and even for people who have not yet read Harry Potter, I would highly recommend the audio book version.  It was so much fun!



Continue reading RE-READING HARRY POTTER by JK Rowling

16 Aug 2019

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Blog Tour Book Review / The Retreat by Sherri Smith

Sherri Smith illuminates the dark side of the self-care and wellness industry in a thrilling ride of revenge perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty's Nine Perfect Strangers. The Retreat is a twisting, bone-chilling suspense that asks: how well do you really know your friends?

Four women.
Four secrets.
A weekend that will change them forever...if they survive.

Katie Manning was a beloved child star until her mid-teens when her manager attacked and permanently scarred her face, effectively ending her career and sending her on a path of all-too-familiar post-Hollywood self-destruction.

Now twenty-seven, Katie wants a better answer to those clickbait "Where Are They Now?" articles that float around online. An answer she hopes to find when her brother's too-good-to-be-true fianc�e invites her to a wellness retreat upstate. Together with Katie's two best friends--one struggling with crippling debt and family obligations, one running away from a failed job and relationship--Katie will try to find the inner peace promised at the tranquil retreat. But finding oneself just might drudge up more memories than Katie is prepared to deal with.

Each woman has come to the retreat for different reasons. Each has her secrets to hide. And at the end of this weekend, only one will be left standing.


Published:     13th August 2019
Publisher:  Titan Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


Please note that this story contains a trigger warning for a sensitive issue




MY REVIEW

What an interesting book.  I went into this book completely blind, not reading any reviews or even reading the book description - which is the way that I like to go into thrillers so I don't spoil the story for myself.  For a story that I would have thought would be straight forward and an OK book for me turned out to me very surprising!

We have a main character in this story, which is Katie.  Katie was a child star of a TV show that stopped airing some 12 years before.  She is clearly unhappy, drinking a lot and suffers from sleep walking, which she is helped by her brother who lives in the same building, which she owns.  Her brother, Nate, has a girlfriend called Ellie, who does not get on very well with Katie.  We then start getting into the main part of the story when Ellie and Katie go off to 'The Retreat' for a girls weekend and whilst Ellie thought that it would just be her and Katie, Katie has invited her friends along as well.  There is something not quite right when they get to the Retreat, with each of the characters, including the two hosts of the Retreat (husband and wife team), acting quite odd.  Slowly, we get to understand more and more about each of the character's backgrounds.

I had an inkling of who the 'bad guy' was in this story but was still surprised by a few of the other twists and turns in this story.

I should also, at this point, that there is a trigger warning that needs to be brought to your attention in this book.  I am not going to say what the trigger warning is about here because that would spoil quite a big twist in the story but if you want me to let you know what that is, please do message me.

If I had to be picky, I would say that the one thing I would change in this book would be to have more of an ending.  It felt very abrupt at the end, with the main twist in the story happening and then very little what happened next which felt rushed.   I would have loved to have had more of a what happened next there.

This was certainly a thriller that kept me on my toes with what would happen next!  I can't wait to check out more from this author.






Continue reading Blog Tour Book Review / The Retreat by Sherri Smith

19 Jul 2019

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Book Review / Concerto by Hannah Fielding

When Catriona Drouot, a young music therapist, honours an opera diva's dying request to help her son, Umberto Monteverdi, recover his musical gift, she knows it will be a difficult assignment. She had shared a night of passion with the once-celebrated composer ten years before, with unexpected consequences.

The extent of her challenge becomes apparent when she arrives at her client's estate on the glittering shores of Lake Como, Italy. Robbed of his sight by a nearfatal car accident, the man is arrogant, embittered and resistant to her every effort to help him. Still, Catriona sings a siren's call within him that he cannot ignore.

Caught up in the tempestuous intrigues at Umberto's Palladian mansion, Catriona discovers that her attraction to the blind musician is as powerful as ever. How can she share what she has hidden from him for the past decade? Soon she realises that hers is not the only secret that is rippling uneasily below the surface. Dark forces haunt the sightless composer, threatening his life - for the second time.

Concerto is a sensual and romantic story of lost love and forgiveness, destiny and difficult choices, and of a heroine determined to put things right at last.


Published:     1st August 2019
Publisher:  London Wall Publishing
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Author




MY REVIEW

Words almost escape me with how beautiful this story was.

We follow Catriona Drouot in two different time lines.  We have the past where she is a young woman living with her mother with dreams of being an opera singer.  It is then where she meets Umberto Monteverdi, who is a world famous musician.  They have a whirlwind romance of a matter of days, I believe, where it ends with Umberto having to leave to follow his career and Catriona left broken hearted.

We also have the present day, where Catriona is a music therapist.  She is approached by Umberto's mother to ask for her help.  It is then that she learns that Umberto has been left blind after an accident and has not taken it well.  After a little time to think, Catriona decides to help Umberto and that is where the story really begins.

What I loved the most was the romance, both in the past and in the present day. I was certainly rooting for them when they first met but it seemed that from the first moment they met again that they were destined to be together.

Along with the above, you also have a mystery.  Many years before, at Umberto's mansion at Lake something happened to one of Umberto's girlfriends, who had new discovered she was pregnant.  Although this is a smaller aspect of the story to start with it does come back into play later in with a very important plot twist.

A truly wonderful, romantic story that will sweep you away... 






Continue reading Book Review / Concerto by Hannah Fielding

18 Jul 2019

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Book Review / Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander

An approved textbook at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry since publication, Newt Scamander's masterpiece has entertained wizarding families through the generations. 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an indispensable introduction to the magical beasts of the Wizarding World. Scamander's years of travel and research have created a tome of unparalleled importance. Some of the beasts will be familiar to readers of the Harry Potter books - the Hippogriff, the Basilisk, the Hungarian Horntail ... Others will surprise even the most ardent amateur Magizoologist. This is an essential companion to the Harry Potter stories, and includes a new foreword from J.K. Rowling (writing as Newt Scamander) and six new beasts!








Published:     1st June 2001
Publisher:  Arthur A Levine Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Part of the Hogwarts Library, Harry Potter
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

This was such a fun read.  I decided to pick this up as an audio book partly because I thought that would be more entertaining and partly because the copy that I purchased was read by Eddy Redmayne, who played Newt Scamander in the movie adaptation.  

This copy of Fantastic Beasts was more of an encyclopedia of exactly what the title says it is - Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  Normally, I would not have found that very interesting to read but listening to it and having it been told by Eddy Redmayne just made it come to life for me, interesting and very funny in places also.  

Such an enjoyable quick read that I would highly recommend picking up the audio version. 

Continue reading Book Review / Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander

17 Jul 2019

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Book Review / The Spider Dance by Nick Setchfield

To avoid spoilers, below is the description for The War in the Dark, which is the first book in the series.

A genre-defying page turner that fuses thriller and speculative fiction with dark fantasy in a hidden world in the heart of Cold War Europe.

Europe. 1963. And the true Cold War is fought on the borders of this world, at the edges of the light.

When the assassination of a traitor trading with the enemy goes terribly wrong, British Intelligence agent Christopher Winter must flee London. In a tense alliance with a lethal, mysterious woman named Karina Lazarova, he's caught in a quest for hidden knowledge from centuries before, an occult secret written in a language of fire. A secret that will give supremacy to the nation that possesses it.

Racing against the Russians, the chase takes them from the demon-haunted Hungarian border to treasure-laden tunnels beneath Berlin, from an impossible house in Vienna to a bomb-blasted ruin in Bavaria where something unholy waits, born of the power of white fire and black glass . . .

It's a world of treachery, blood and magic. A world at war in the dark.


Published:     UK Release 16th July 2019
Publisher:  Titan Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 2

Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


MY REVIEW

What an interesting second book in the series.   We are back with Christopher Winter but this time he knows a bit more about his history.  There are many twists and turns in this story, some I have to admit I was expecting but there were one or two that took my by surprise and I loved that! 

I always find it hard to put a full description of what happened in a second book in a series as I don't want to spoil the story for those who have not read it yet, but I am thoroughly enjoying this series - I am hoping this is going to be a series rather than just a duology!  For me, this was fast paced and action packed, along the same pace as the first book, The War in the Dark.   This is a great mix of mystery, thriller, action, supernatural-ish and something that I just can't put my finger on but I am sure there are many more genres mixed into this that I didn't realise at the time!

Would highly recommend picking this up but maybe read the first book in the series up first (The War in the Dark) so you can get the bigger picture of the story, in particular the back story of the main character Christopher Winter, before delving into this one. 
Continue reading Book Review / The Spider Dance by Nick Setchfield

16 Jul 2019

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Book Review / The Weight of a Thousand Feathers by Brian Conaghan



Child experts will tell you that I'm way too young to carry such a burden of responsibility on my tender shoulders. But really, what do they know?' Who is Bobby Seed? He's just your average sixteen-year-old - same wants, same fears, same hang-ups. Dull, dull, dull. But then there's the Bobby Seed who's a world away from average. 

The Bobby Seed who has to wipe his mum's backside, sponge her clean three times a week, try to soothe her pain. The Bobby Seed whose job it is to provide for his younger brother, Danny, to rub his back when he's stressed and can only groan and rock instead of speak. That's Bobby Seed. Same, same, same, yet different, different, different ...









Published:     14th June 2018
Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone

Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


MY REVIEW

Simply put, this book blew me away.

We follow Bobby Seed who is the main carer for both his brother who is, I believe, autistic, and his mother who has MS.  For a teenager to take on such responsibility, I would expect that person to fall apart or break in some way.  Bobby Seed was made of stronger stuff. He is strong for his mother and brother, he takes care of the home and his family and also goes to school.  That is a lot for any person to take on, let alone a sixteen year old.  This change for Bobby when he starts to attend a therapy group to help him cope with what is happening in his life.  There, he discovers more about himself and even makes friends.

What I liked the most about this book was that it did not glorify any of the issues that you come across, it simply shows what Bobby does in each and every circumstance.  It may not always be the best choice but it shows what he chooses and explains why.  

This book really is an emotional rollercoaster and a very important book that should be read by everyone, especially for those who are going through similar circumstances. 








Continue reading Book Review / The Weight of a Thousand Feathers by Brian Conaghan

14 Jul 2019

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Book Review / The War in the Dark by Nick Setchfield

A genre-defying page turner that fuses thriller and speculative fiction with dark fantasy in a hidden world in the heart of Cold War Europe.

Europe. 1963. And the true Cold War is fought on the borders of this world, at the edges of the light.

When the assassination of a traitor trading with the enemy goes terribly wrong, British Intelligence agent Christopher Winter must flee London. In a tense alliance with a lethal, mysterious woman named Karina Lazarova, he's caught in a quest for hidden knowledge from centuries before, an occult secret written in a language of fire. A secret that will give supremacy to the nation that possesses it.

Racing against the Russians, the chase takes them from the demon-haunted Hungarian border to treasure-laden tunnels beneath Berlin, from an impossible house in Vienna to a bomb-blasted ruin in Bavaria where something unholy waits, born of the power of white fire and black glass . . .

It's a world of treachery, blood and magic. A world at war in the dark.



Published:     17th July 2018
Publisher:  Titan Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1  

(although Goodreads does not say this is part of a series, it is)
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher



MY REVIEW

I can probably say with about 99% accuracy that I have never read a book quite like this one before.  It has a great mix of history, suspense and the supernatural.  I can sometimes find that picking up a book that is purely historical can be a bit dull but with this story adding in the suspense and a bit of the paranormal, it takes this story to a whole new level! 

We follow Christopher Winter in this story.  At the start, you don't really know that much about this character and, to be honest, I don't think he knew much about himself at that time.  There are secrets to discover in this book and even more that Christopher has to find out both in the story and about himself.  There is a very interesting twist nearer the end of this story that I really wasn't expecting but gave a whole new meaning to the story and the main character.  This is the part that I liked the most about this story, secrets and history, and I get the feeling that there will be a lot more to come in the next book!

This was such a fun read, if you can call such a dark and suspenseful novel fun!  I am very intrigued to pick up the next book. 



Continue reading Book Review / The War in the Dark by Nick Setchfield

8 Jul 2019

Guest Post / LF Robertson (Author of Next of Kin) - Everything New Is Old Again: Getting Inspired by Folk Tale

 


The third novel by L.F. Robertson, starring death row attorney Janet Moodie.

Janet Moodie, death-row attorney, is hired to work on the appeal of Sunny Ferrante, a glamorous woman who has been sentenced to death for arranging the murder of her wealthy husband. As Janet delves into the case, she becomes sure that that Sunny is innocent. But Sunny is hiding something. Who is she protecting--and is she really prepared to die to save them?












When I was a small child I had a set of books, called My Book House, a compilation of
children’s literature: poems, nursery rhymes, and fairy tales. The books were old even then;
judging by the illustrations, they must have dated from not long after the first World War. One
of my favorite fairy tales in them was Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” the story
of two children, Kay and Gerda. Kay, the boy, ties his sled to the Snow Queen’s sleigh (dumb
move, needless to say) and is spirited away by her and imprisoned under a spell in her palace of
ice; and Gerda sets out to find and rescue him. I believe the theme Andersen had in mind was
that of religious faith and love, but when I read the story as a child, I saw in it a hero’s journey
for girls. Gerda gradually conquers her fear and lack of confidence as she travels north searching
for the Snow Queen and Kay. She is helped and hindered along the way by strangers, human and
animal; my favorite among them was the robber girl, a budding highwaywoman as tough and
domineering as Gerda is timid and diffident. She gives Gerda her pet reindeer to carry her on her
journey, and after a long ride through the frozen arctic night, Gerda finds the Snow Queen’s ice
palace and releases Kay from her enchantment, solving a word puzzle he had been unable to
decipher.

I’ve thought, over the years, that the work I chose, criminal defense, involves a lot of
rescuing, or attempting to rescue, flawed people from the worst consequences of their mistakes.
Death penalty cases, in particular, require journeys, figurative and literal, to trace the path of a
client’s past life through searches of old records and documents and meetings with family,
friends, and other witnesses. When I decided to write my first novel, Two Lost Boys, I wanted to
show people how that journey worked and how it feels, through the eyes of a defense attorney
trying to save the life of a condemned man: the random walk of investigating a case and not
knowing which paths will yield evidence and which will lead only to dead ends; finding out who
will talk to you, and what you’ll learn; the help and kindness you receive in unexpected places;
the wounds you inevitably reopen and the trauma you reawaken; the guilt you feel about it; and
the anxiety of knowing that everything you can do may not be enough to save your client’s life.
Some way into writing it, I noticed the resemblance between what was happening in the book
and Gerda’s adventures in Andersen’s story. For awhile, my working title for the book became
The Snow Queen. My second and third books, also about death penalty cases, have turned out to
echo that theme in different ways.

Many writers and film-makers say that there are only a certain number of stories, and
most story and movie plots are a riff on one of them. Several of Terry Pratchett’s wonderful
fantasy novels take a fairy tale or two and smush them together or turn them in unexpected
directions, as do some movies, for example Shrek and The Princess Bride. The hero’s journey is
a stock theme, both in literature and movies. So are variants of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty,
Rapunzel (sent up hilariously in Monty Python’s Holy Grail), the Frog Prince, Beauty and the
Beast, Cinderella, and even Rumpelstiltskin, as well as stories from the Bible and Greek and
Roman mythology. “The Snow Queen” itself was an inspiration for the movie Frozen.
Some people seem to be natural writers, never lacking for new ideas, clever plots
sprouting like lettuce seeds in their amazingly inventive minds. I’m not one of them. I’ve never
made the acquaintance of Shakespeare’s “muse of fire that would ascend/ The brightest heaven
of invention;” I imagine, in fact, that my muse is a lot like me, hesitant, unassertive, and afraid
of heights. I struggle to find ideas for stories and work out the details of plots. It was a surprise
to find that I had inadvertently borrowed my own novel’s plot from a fairy tale, and it made me
think about how fiction pays homage to other myths and legends that resonate in Western culture
and what a fertile field they are for writers in need of ideas, an archive of plots simply waiting to
be tweaked and twisted by any aspiring novelist.

I may never get beyond the heroine’s journey, and then again, I may one day look at one
of those other stories and think, possibly,“What if the queen did not guess Rumpelstiltskin’s
name, and he took her child and raised it as his own, and years later was found and charged with
kidnaping?” or consider following “Sleeping Beauty” past its end and exploring the comic
possibilities of marrying into a family who had wakened in the present after being asleep for a
hundred years. For that matter, I wonder what kind of life Gerda had after coming home to
Copenhagen; having learned how strong she was and what she was capable of doing, can she go
back to being the compliant girl of her childhood? There may be the basis of a book in any of
those ideas -- or not. But my anxious muse and I feel more creative for thinking of them and
grateful that the old tales and myths exist to inspire us.



Continue reading Guest Post / LF Robertson (Author of Next of Kin) - Everything New Is Old Again: Getting Inspired by Folk Tale

7 Jul 2019

Book Review / The Power of Less by Leo Babauta



With the countless distractions that come from every corner of a modern life, it's amazing that were ever able to accomplish anything. The Power of Less demonstrates how to streamline your life by identifying the essential and eliminating the unnecessary freeing you from everyday clutter and allowing you to focus on accomplishing the goals that can change your life for the better.

The Power of Less will show you how to:


Break any goal down into manageable tasks
Focus on only a few tasks at a time
Create new and productive habits
Hone your focus
Increase your efficiency
By setting limits for yourself and making the most of the resources you already have, youll finally be able work less, work smarter, and focus on living the life that you deserve.





Published:     1st January 2009
Publisher:  Hachette Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone

Source: Owned


MY REVIEW

OK, so I have to admit that when I first picked this up I thought this would be more about minimalism and having less in the home but this turned out to be a book about breaking down your tasks (taking in less) and being more productive, which wasn't a bad thing as I was definitely interested in learning more about this too. 

What I liked about this book was that there was not a lot of 'fluff'.  When I say fluff, I mean using long words that you have to use a dictionary to figure out what on earth they are saying and long winded descriptions meaning that when you got to the end of that particular description you really didn't know what in the world was going on.  This book was straight forward and was more of a point by point guide to this is what you should do and this is what I do.   I was actually surprised to learn that a lot of this is what I already do but there was a lot here that I could do to improve myself and certainly a lot that I have taken away from this and now do myself. 

This is a great book to pick up if you want to find a way to structure your day to be more productive or just get  more organised or if you have already found a bit of a way to doing that, there are great tips in here that you could add to your preexisting routine that could make the structure of your day a lot more easier. 






Continue reading Book Review / The Power of Less by Leo Babauta

2 Jul 2019

Book Review / The Colorado Kid by Stephen King


Stephen King's bestselling unsolved mystery, THE COLORADO KID -- inspiration for the TV series HAVEN -- returns to bookstores for the first time in 10 years in an all-new illustrated edition.

On an island off the coast of Maine, a man is found dead. There's no identification on the body. Only the dogged work of a pair of local newspapermen and a graduate student in forensics turns up any clues, and it's more than a year before the man is identified. And that's just the beginning of the mystery. Because the more they learn about the man and the baffling circumstances of his death, the less they understand. Was it an impossible crime? Or something stranger still...? No one but Stephen King could tell this story about the darkness at the heart of the unknown and our compulsion to investigate the unexplained. With echoes of Dashiell Hammett's THE MALTESE FALCON and the work of Graham Greene, one of the world's great storytellers presents a moving and surprising tale whose subject is nothing less than the nature of mystery itself.




Published:     4th June 2019 (originally published 4th Oct 2005)
Publisher:  Hard Case Crime
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher




MY REVIEW

I am, very slowly, working my way through all of Stephen King's novels (I may be a while as I hear there are three or four...!) and, honestly, I was looking for a short burst of something mysterious and this hit the right spot.  What a great story. 

I went into this story not really reading the description on the back or really knowing a whole lot about the story apart from what it says on the front of the cover and I was hoping for something different; something other than the normal mystery where something happens, someone investigates and then someone gets caught.   This is not one of those stories.

This story mainly focuses on three reporters (two older reporters and one reporter new into the field) where the two older reports are talking about an unsolved mystery that they came across many years ago, where a man is found dead on a beach.  The majority of this book is discussing the case and what might have happened.  What I actually loved about this story was the ending where it was left open ended as to what actually happened.  This story is, very much, left to the readers imagination to figure out what they think might have happened.  For me, I just sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the ride with the characters playing a very big part in that. 

I would highly recommend this story purely for the story and the characters.  If you are one of those readers who likes an ending that is final, with a clear conclusion, then maybe this story might not be for you but for those who like to be kept guessing - you need to give this a go!

Continue reading Book Review / The Colorado Kid by Stephen King

30 Jun 2019

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Book Review / To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee




The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.






Published:     11th July 1960
Publisher:  Harper
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, To Kill a Mockingbird
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

This has always been one of those books that I have been meaning to pick up but haven't got to yet and never had the chance to read it at school.  Honestly, I wasn't sure what to expect.   I wanted to go into this story blind and even though this is a classic and most people have heard about it, I had not heard a great deal apart from the fact that it was a classic.   This book really surprised me and kept me thinking for a great deal of time after finishing the last page.    I think what also helped is that I listened to this on audio book which, for me, added so much more drama to the story I was able to appreciate it more than if I had read the words on a page. 

This is undeniably a very important book for obvious reasons.  The most obvious reason is the issues of race and discrimination that it deals with.    What I liked the most was that we were not following an adult as they either commit or investigate what is going on at the time.  We are following a child who is living in these times where what race you were made a difference to how you were treated.  We follow Scout, who at first I thought was a young boy and then realised a lot later on was a young girl (which added more depth to the story considering the content), whose father is a lawyer who is defending in a case that would change their lives forever. 

This is such an important read and one that should be read by everyone.

Why this book is not taught in all schools, I don't know...

Continue reading Book Review / To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
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Book Review / Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella



After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have all the trimmings of a happy life and marriage; they have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other's sentences. However, a trip to the doctor projects they will live another 68 years together and panic sets in. They never expected "until death do us part" to mean seven decades.

In the name of marriage survival, they quickly concoct a plan to keep their relationship fresh and exciting: they will create little surprises for each other so that their (extended) years together will never become boring. But in their pursuit to execute Project Surprise Me, mishaps arise and secrets are uncovered that start to threaten the very foundation of their unshakable bond. When a scandal from the past is revealed that question some important untold truths, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all.




Published:    13th February 2018
Publisher:  Dial Press
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

What I liked about this story...  I liked that this story depicted a fairly true to like picture of what being together with someone long term can really be like - flaws and all.  There was no fairy dust or magical unicorn to make things better.  Obviously, Sylvie and Dan have issues that they need to work on and it can be very easy to lose track on what's important in life. 


What I didn't like about this story..  For me, even though real life is not always a bed of roses and sometimes you can dig your head in the sand, there do come moments where you have to step up and deal with the issues you have in front of you.  In this story, it seemed like the main characters are doing all they can not to address those problems.  The fact that a particular plot point in the story comes up and both go into panic mode about it would, if I was one of those characters, make me want to step up and face reality.  If you are with someone for a long period of time, married or living together, its kind of a given that you will probably spend a lot more time together if not the rest of your lives.  Would it really be a surprise or put you into panic mode if something happens which means that this future would be a certainty?!  

Also, the ending for me was a bit predicable.  With a title like 'Surprise Me', I was hoping that I would be surprised a little bit also with the story, but I wasn't. 


In summary...  Not one of my favourites I am afraid.  I think this is more my personal moral judgement rather than the story itself, which was well written and easy to follow.  I was hoping for something a bit more light hearted and fun but unfortunately did not find it here. 

Continue reading Book Review / Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

26 Jun 2019

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Book Review / My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - Part love story, part workplace drama, this sharply observed novel is a witty critique of the false judgments we make in a social-media-obsessed world. New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella has written her most timely novel yet.

Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie's life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle--from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she's trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she's desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she's finding her feet--not to mention a possible new romance--the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family's farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away--until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie's future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the truth.


Published:     7th February 2017
Publisher:  Bantam
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

After reading so many fantasy and thriller style videos and particularly as summer is peaking around the corner (despite being typical English cloudy rainy weather), I thought it was about time I picked up something a bit more contemporary and light hearted.  For that, my go to author is Sophie Kinsella who always knows how to make me laugh at the same time as completely adoring the characters she writes about.  This book was no different.

The best part of this story for me was, simply put, the characters.  First of all, you have Katie who is the main character in this story.  She is working her way up in London to a job that she has dreamt off for so long, the only problem is that she works with a lot of people who aren't very nice and a boss that appears to simply not care at all about anyone elses' feelings.   Katie, by a long shot, was my favourite character in this story.  My second favourite has to be Demeter.  Yes, she is Katie's boss and the one who appears to not really care about anyone elses' feelings but she has so many layers that you only really discover until well over halfway in the story but finding out more about her story is definitely worth the wait.  

This book was so much fun.  I just could not stop turning over the pages until the very last one!   Exactly what I was looking for.  


 




Continue reading Book Review / My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

24 Jun 2019

Book Review / Next of Kin by L F Robertson






The third novel by L.F. Robertson, starring death row attorney Janet Moodie.

Janet Moodie, death-row attorney, is hired to work on the appeal of Sunny Ferrante, a glamorous woman who has been sentenced to death for arranging the murder of her wealthy husband. As Janet delves into the case, she becomes sure that that Sunny is innocent. But Sunny is hiding something. Who is she protecting--and is she really prepared to die to save them?










Published:     4th June 2019
Publisher:  Titan Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 3, Janet Moodie

Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


MY REVIEW

It is very rare for me nowadays to discover a new author that I love and can't wait to read the next book in the series or next book that they bring out.  LF Robertson is one of those authors for me.  The writing is so easy to follow, the descriptions of what is happening and characterisation is the perfect amount of giving you a bit but not over doing it and the plot keeps me turning the page to find out what happens next.

In this story, we are back with Janet Moodie, who is an attorney, and is hired to work on the appeal for a woman called Sunny Ferrante who has been sentenced to death for arranging the murder of her wealthy husband.  Little does Janet know that there is a lot more to this story than she bargained for. 

For me, this story was more about the journey of the case, what happened in the past and what is going to happen in the future rather than the actual plot reveal.  I thoroughly enjoyed the journey and all of the 'legal talk'. 

If you enjoy John Grisham's novels, you should give this author a try.  Although this is a third book in a series, you can certainly just pick this one up if you want to and it will not spoil the books that came before it and you won't be missing any of the story in this book by not reading the other books.  That said, I would highly recommend picking up the first two books in the series as you have Janet Moodie in both of those also and you can get a good feel for this character and her background too.




Continue reading Book Review / Next of Kin by L F Robertson

9 Jun 2019

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Book Review / Under Currents by Nora Roberts

For both Zane and Darby, their small town roots hold a terrible secret. Now, decades later, they've come together to build a new life. But will the past set them free or pull them under?

Zane Bigelow grew up in a beautiful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Strangers―and even Zane’s own aunt across the lake―see his parents as a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, making appearances at their children’s ballet recitals and baseball games. Only Zane and his sister know the truth, until one brutal night finally reveals cracks in the facade, and Zane escapes for college without a thought of looking back...

Years later, Zane returns to his hometown determined to reconnect with the place and people that mean so much to him, despite the painful memories. As he resumes life in the colorful town, he meets a gifted landscape artist named Darby, who is on the run from ghosts of her own.

Together they will have to teach each other what it means to face the past, and stand up for the ones they love.
 


Published:    9th July 2019
Publisher:  Piatkus
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher



MY REVIEW 

I am a big fan of Nora Roberts, both in her own name and writing as JD Robb.  I was so excited to dig into this one which is more of a thriller than a romance.  The main part of this story is the story of  Zane and his sister's family, both from what happened in the past, what happened in the present day and how the past has affected them.  Along with that, you have Darby who is a gifted landscape artist who was working on the family home when she meets Zane.  You have a bit of romance in this story (because what would a Nora Roberts story be without at least a little bit of romance) but the main part of the story, I believe, is centred around Zane and his family's past.

The most interesting part of this book for me was the way the issue of domestic abuse was dealt with, particularly through the children and how the effects of that kind of upbringing never leaves a child.   For me, it was also quite shocking to realise who the abuse was coming.  Obviously, I won't go into this too much as that would spoil a twist in the story that is better figured out when you are reading it  but I believe it highlights that you should not always assume that it is a certain person who is abusing.

The first half of this book concentrated on this story and then in the second part we move to present day where the children have grown up and are trying to get on with their lives.

There are certainly quite a few twists and turns in this book.  For me, I had already anticipated a lot of the twists and turns but this was more about the journey of the story and following the characters dealing with all they had to deal with from their part to their present day.
 
Very well dealt with and an interest read.  Would highly recommend.






Continue reading Book Review / Under Currents by Nora Roberts

2 Jun 2019

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SERIES REVIEW / Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her ... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead ... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.


Published:     2012 to 2018
Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Books 1 to 8, Throne of Glass
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

With the final book in this series now out, rather than just picking that up and reading it and as this series is one of my favourite ones of all time, I thought it would be a good idea to pick this up again right from the beginning.   I know that if I was to just pick up the final book, I would just end up spending a great deal of time at the start trying to remember and figure out what had gone on before.  I am so that glad I did.

What I didn't like about this series...  Despite the fact that I loved this series and have given it a full five starts, that doesn't mean that there were no aspect of it that I would have changed given the chance.  One of those for me was with the main character Celaena herself.  Yes, she is a hard ass trained assassin but at times it felt that she did not think too much about the actions she takes or the repercussions of her actions, leaving remaining characters to pick up the rest.  


What I liked about this series...  

The Writing -  Easy to read, follow and because of the type of complexity of the story you don't want to spend too much time trying to decipher fancy wording etc.  No fancy wording but great descriptions that helped build the world and characters in my own imagination.

The Characters - What I liked the most was the character progression and the different struggles they face as the story goes along, both in terms of the story and in terms of their own internal dialogue.  My favourite character was Chaol.  You see him at the start a bit grumpy and
very regimented on his position but also very loyal.  As the story goes on, he is still all of those things but we slowly see a lot more.

The Story - With each book, we learn more and more.  Even with Tower of Dawn when we take a 'break' from the main story and follow Chaol on his journey (that, of course, was one of my favourite stories of the whole series).  There were a few story lines that I enjoyed more than most.  One of them was the story of Chaol (as mentioned above), where he meets Celeana and goes on from there.  There are a few more but don't want to spoil the story for those who have not read all the series yet!

In Summary...  I loved this series.  It was one of those stories that I picked up and just could not put down until I reached the very last page of the last book.  I am so sad that this series has come to an end but very excited to see what Sarah J Maas has in store next!



Continue reading SERIES REVIEW / Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

19 May 2019

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Trilogy Review - The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin



Mara Dyer believes life can't get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed.

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.

She's wrong.






Published:     2011
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Books 1, 2 and 3, Mara Dyer
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

I had originally read this trilogy back in 2016 and remembered that it was a really fun read.  When I learned that there would be another trilogy following Noah Shaw, I thought it would be a good idea to pick up this trilogy and read it again before going on to read The Shaw Chronicles.

Honestly, although I did enjoy reading this it wasn't as much as I thought I would do.  I think this is more about my reading tastes changing over the years rather than a reflection on the book. I would still recommend reading it but may be if you are new to young adult fiction.  It is very predictable and the story is not something new but something that I have seen many times in other young adult fiction.

I decided after reading this trilogy that I would not continue with the Shaw Chronicles, simply because I was no longer interested in carrying on reading this world.  That said, I would definitely pick up more by this author as I enjoyed the writing style.

I would recommend this trilogy if you are new to young adult fiction and would like to start out somewhere.




Continue reading Trilogy Review - The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

13 May 2019

Blog Tour Book Review / The Girl in the Pink Raincoat by Alrene Hughes



In wartime it takes courage to follow your heart.
Manchester, 1939.
Everyone hated the heat and the deafening noise, but for Gracie the worst thing was the smell of chemicals that turned her stomach every morning when she arrived at the Rosenberg Raincoats factory.
Gracie is a girl on the factory floor. Jacob is the boss's charismatic nephew. When they fall in love, it seems as if the whole world is against them – especially Charlie Nuttall, who also works at the factory and has always wanted Gracie for himself.
But worse is to come when Jacob disappears and Gracie is devastated, vowing to find him. Can she solve the mystery of his whereabouts? Gracie will need all her strength and courage to find a happy ending.






Published:     1st March 2019
Publisher:  Head of Zeus
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher



MY REVIEW

There's just something about an old fashioned love story that always draws me in.   In this story we follow Gracie.  She is a factory worker, lives with her mother at the time and living on the breadline.  She meets and falls in love with her boss' nephew but unfortunately that love was not meant to last.  On the day they are due to be married, Jacob disappears.  When everyone is telling her to forget him and move on, Gracie cannot let go and is determined to find him.    We follow Gracie on this journey.  Unfortunatly, along the way she meets some unfriendly characters who are determined to lead her down the wrong path.

For me, the best part of this story was the relationship between Jacob and Gracie.  Just the romance of it at a time when the world is falling apart was worth following.






Follow Alrene:
Facebook: @alrenehugheswriter
Twitter: @alrenehughes

Buy links:

Google Play: https://bit.ly/2YqUREC






Continue reading Blog Tour Book Review / The Girl in the Pink Raincoat by Alrene Hughes

27 Apr 2019

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Book Review / The Street Lawyer by John Grisham

Michael was in a hurry. He was scrambling up the ladder at Drake & Sweeney, a giant D.C. law firm with eight hundred lawyers. The money was good and getting better; a partnership was three years away. He was a rising star with no time to waste, no time to stop, no time to toss a few coins into the cups of panhandlers. No time for a conscience.


But a violent encounter with a homeless man stopped him cold. Michael survived; his assailant did not. Who was this man? Michael did some digging, and learned that he was a mentally ill veteran who'd been in and out of shelters for many years. Then Michael dug a little deeper, and found a dirty secret, and the secret involved Drake & Sweeney.


The fast track derailed; the ladder collapsed. Michael bolted the firm and took a top-secret file with him. He landed in the streets, an advocate for the homeless, a street lawyer.

Published:     26th April 2005
Publisher:  Doubleday
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

Back when I was a lot younger and this book had first come out, this was the first book I read written by John Grisham and for a long time this has always been on my list of favourite books of all time.  I always get nervous when I go to re-read a favourite book.  I find that as I get older my reading tastes change, meaning that what was once my favourite might not be the same now.

Reading this now just took me back to when I was reading it the first time.  I loved it.  You have the perfect combination of corruption and moral righteousness.  We follow Michael who at the start of the book is a high powered lawyer working in a high powered law firm.  One day all that changes when a homeless man comes into the law firm and holds him and a few colleagues ransom.  What follows is a mixture of figuring out the truth behind a moral situation and watching Michael as he rethinks everything.

If you have not yet picked up a John Grisham novel, this would be the perfect book to start with.




Continue reading Book Review / The Street Lawyer by John Grisham