Friday, 21 December 2018

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

Never Let You GoNever Let You Go by Chevy Stevens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

She thought she'd escaped him forever. But will he ever let her go?

Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash fled into the night with her young daughter, leaving an abusive relationship behind. Her ex-husband ended up in jail and Lindsey started a new life.

Now, Lindsey is older, wiser and believes she has cut all ties with the past. But when Andrew is released from prison, strange things start happening. Lindsey's new boyfriend is threatened, her home invaded and her daughter followed.

Her ex-husband denies all knowledge, but Lindsey is convinced he's responsible. Because, after all, who else could it be...?

Nice little psychological thriller with plenty of red herrings and twists along the way. Although I did guess the ending it was not so obvious until late in the book which is always nice.

Plenty of suspense, pacey with engaging characters, alternating between the past, present and flashbacks over a period of 10 years we learn of Lindsay's suffering at the hands of her possessive and manipulative husband Andrew and her determination to get herself and her daughter Sophie as far away from him as possible. When he has served a prison sentence for killing a woman in her car in a road accident when he tries to chase Lindsay and Sophie he returns back into their lives once again. Lindsay, terrified of what he might do to her and her daughter confide in a couple of people but Lindsays paranoia lead her to suspect only one person for things that start happening in her life, Andrew. She needs to look a little closer to home.

As I said, I did guess the ending but not until Chevy Stevens was ready to let me, a great roller coaster of a ride, lovely atmospheric writing and good strong characters held this together until the end. Would definitely read another of this authors books - this was my first. Absolutely worth 4 stars, a cracking read - buy it for Christmas!

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Half Moon Bay by Alice LaPlante

Half Moon BayHalf Moon Bay by Alice LaPlante
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Jane O’Malley loses everything when her teenage daughter is killed in a senseless accident. Devastated, she makes a stab at a new life and moves from San Francisco to the tiny seaside town of Half Moon Bay. As the months go by she is able to cobble together some possibility of peace. Then children begin to disappear, and soon Jane sees her own pain reflected in all the parents in the town. She wonders if she will be able to live through the aching loss, the fear once again surrounding her, but as the disappearances continue, fingers of suspicion all begin to point at her.

Oh dear, where do I start on this one. So boring, confusing, unengaging writing style and by the time I'd reached pg 25 I had to stop before I became brain dead. Awful writing style didn't carry this one forward and confusing convoluted storyline of being inside Jane's mind was just a push too far for me. I never give a totally bad review but this was so awful that I couldn't bring myself to go beyond pg 25. Maybe it gets better, maybe it doesn't but I really couldn't have cared less what happened to the main character and although loosing a child must be one of the worst nightmares you can go through I just couldn't engage in this novel. Littered with staccato bursts of rhetoric with no real outcome or cohesion, the pace was painfully slow. Its a pity because so much could have been done with the concept but I felt it was just an exercise in self pity - as I said perhaps it gets better as you go along but I doubted it as I skim read forwards and it seemed if anything to get more convoluted and messy. So sorry to have to give it only 1 star.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Friends Like These by Sarah Alderson

There's no such thing as a perfect life. Only a perfect lie. We all know someone like Becca. She has the job everyone wants, a designer wardrobe, a hot-shot lawyer boyfriend, holidays to exotic locations. And she flaunts her perfect life all over social media. It drove her colleague Lizzie mad, but she couldn't stop looking.

 They were never really friends - and yet Lizzie knew everything about her. Or did she? When chance, and a terrible mistake, pulls Lizzie back into Becca's orbit years after they lost touch, she'll realise that you can't always believe what you see online... and that finding out the truth might be the worst thing you can do.


Transcript of 999 call Sunday, 10 December, 11.23 p.m.

 Female Caller: She’s got a knife. Please hurry. 

Operator: The police are on their way. Can you get out of the house? 

Female Caller: No. Operator: Is there somewhere you can hide, somewhere with a door that locks?

 Female Caller: I’m in the bathroom . . . Downstairs. Please hurry. I can hear her coming. 

Operator: Stay on the line with me. [0:31:44 – unclear – indistinct crying] 

Female Caller: [whispered] I think she’s outside the door . . . I can hear her. Oh god, please, hurry up. 

Operator: The police will be there any minute. Stay on the line with me. Can you tell me what’s happening? Who is it that’s got the knife? [0:44:16 – unclear – series of bangs – followed by a crash]

 Female Caller: No! Operator: Hello? Are you there? 

[0:53:33 – screams] 

Female Caller: No! Get off me . . . She’s going to kill me! [1:05:33 – unclear – sounds of a struggle] 

Operator: Hello? Are you there? Hello? 

Female Caller: Hello? 

Operator: Are you OK? What happened? The police are pulling up outside now.

 Female Caller: She’s dead. I think she might be dead. Oh god. Oh god . . . please . . . oh my god. She’s not moving. There’s blood. A lot of blood.

 Operator: Is she breathing? 

Female Caller: I don’t know. [2:04:16 – whimpering – panting] 

Operator: Can you check for a pulse? Female Caller: I . . . oh god . . . I don’t know. Please can you send an ambulance? 

Operator: It’s on its way. You need to stay calm. Can you do that for me? 

Female Caller: Yes. Yes, I think so . . . Oh my god. Operator: What’s your name? Can you give me your name? 

Female Caller: She came at me . . . with a knife. She just came out of nowhere. I think she’s dead . . . I think I’ve killed her

Partial transcript of police interview with Miss Elizabeth Crawley, subsequent to filing of Missing Persons Report PC Kandiah – Sunday, 10 December

 Have you ever had one of those Facebook friends – more of an acquaintance really, like a colleague or an old school friend – who you accept a friendship request from and then wish to god you bloody hadn’t? We all have, right? You don’t want to unfriend them just in case they realise, even though they’ve got like seven hundred friends so the chances are they’d never know. But if you’re honest, you’re also a little bit intrigued by their life and sometimes, maybe after a couple of glasses of wine, when you’re tired of trawling through Netfl ix to fi nd something to watch, you fi nd yourself randomly Facebook-stalking them. Admit it, you’ve done it.

 Next thing you know, you’re falling down a rabbit hole and feeling like a bit of a voyeur. It’s funny, isn’t it? The whole time you’re scouring their feed, you’re waiting for someone to tap you on the shoulder and shout Ha! Caught you! Even though you haven’t done anything wrong. I mean, they wouldn’t put it all out there unless they wanted you to read it. 
You want an example of Becca’s social media posts? OK. She was one of those people who hashtagged every post with something like #gratitude or #blessed or #yolo. Oh, and also, #bestboyfriendever. That was her favourite. You know the kind of person I’m talking about.

 You’re smiling. You know someone just like it. She was forever posting selfies of herself at the gym, you know the kind, complaining about having eaten too many pies and needing to work off the extra pounds, while at the same time showing off her abs. Or posting a thousand photos of herself on holiday in Ibiza – and every shot was taken from a lounger, framing the setting sun through her thigh gap. Or she’d take pictures of herself with a full face of make-up, hair blow-dried, and hashtag it #wokeuplikethis because yeah, sure you did, don’t we all? I know I do. Not.

 Listen, I swear, you can ask anyone, almost every other post was about her boyfriend, James. About how amazing he was, how he’d arranged yet another romantic getaway to New York or the Cotswolds or Paris, how he was hashtag best boyfriend ever. Or she’d take a picture of him asleep, head under the pillows, stick a black and white filter on it and tag it #hotboyfriend and #luckiestgirlalive.

 I guess, for want of another word, it came across as smug. I can see you laughing. You totally get it. And let’s face it, there’s something kind of suspicious about someone who’s always posting gushing updates about their other half. Think about it. All those celebrities who make huge public declarations of love, they all end up divorcing three weeks later. 

A couple of people at work unfriended her, or at least unfollowed her because they found her so annoying. Not me though. Were we jealous of her? No. Honestly. I can tell you don’t believe me but it’s true. I mean she was pretty, yes, sure, but we weren’t jealous. I think some people were a bit put out that she’d got the job of assistant to the CEO. There were others who’d been there longer and who thought they deserved it more, but that’s just how this industry is. And, besides, I work in the finance department, so it didn’t bother me in the same way as it did those who were trying to make the jump from assistants to agents. If you met her by the water cooler and tried to make polite conversation, she’d just look at you like you were a lesser being and then walk off, like you weren’t worthy of her time or something. She was only really friendly to people she thought could help her get where she wanted to be. Where was that? At the top of the ladder, of course. She was . . . ambitious. And don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about that. I’m all for women climbing the ladder and shattering the glass ceiling. It’s past time, isn’t it? What’s that quote? There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support other women? Something like that. Well, I agree. And the rest of us women in the office, we stuck together, we had each other’s backs – you have to in this industry – you have no idea . . . but Becca, she definitely didn’t get the memo on that one. 

God, I sound like a bitch. And I’m not. I really am not. I hate talking ill of people. Especially people who are . . . Look, I don’t want to make it sound like I hated her. I didn’t hate her. I didn’t know her. I don’t know her. That’s my point. 

Oh wait, I remembered something else. For Claire’s birthday a few years ago Flora made her a chocolate cake. She put it in the fridge at work. Well, when the time came to bring it out someone had helped themselves to a massive slice. I mean, these things happen at work all the time. People are always nicking bread or helping themselves to your cream cheese, even if you stick a Post-it note on it. I know some people who spit in their food and warn people that that’s what they’ve done to ward them off. Like holy water with vampires. 

But this . . . this felt deliberate. Whoever it was hadn’t used a knife and cut a slice of cake. They’d gouged it with what looked like their hands. A huge chunk of cake. It was completely ruined. Who does that? We had no idea. But as I’m comforting Flora in the kitchen, in walks Becca with a plate covered in chocolate crumbs. She saw us, froze, and then she just smiled and stuck her plate in the sink. We knew. She knew we knew. But what are you going to do? Of course, we didn’t confront her about it. She would only have denied it. It was things like that. She lied a lot too. God, I feel awful, and I don’t even know if this is helpful in any way. Is it? Shouldn’t you be out there, looking for her or something? How is this helping find her? You want a picture of her, I get that, but I’m not the best person. I haven’t seen her in years. And I never really knew her to begin with. That’s my point. I keep telling you. No one knew her. Not the real her. 

How did she lie? OK. Here’s an example: she’d always namedrop famous people she knew. Or that she said she knew. She told people she once dated Prince Harry after meeting him at Boujis, that nightclub in Kensington. Oh, and that her father invented LED lights. Ridiculous things. Unbelievable things. I mean . . . come on, if you’re going to lie, at least make the lies believable. It’s almost like she was playing a game, like she wanted us to call her out on it. But no one ever did.

 Even some of the guys found her too much. A little too . . . into herself, I guess you could say. She was always really well dressed, that’s another thing. She had great taste but she’d wear clothes to the office that were more suitable for a night out. Always really high heels too. Manolo Blahniks and Louboutin. We used to wonder how she got the money because she wasn’t earning much more than us and we were all pretty broke. We were shopping at ASOS and she was turning up to work in Stella McCartney and Chloé. She told people her family were dead – her parents and her siblings had all burned to death in a fi re – god knows if that’s even true – and that she’d inherited a lot of money. An LED light fortune. 

But now we know the truth. Everything she told us about herself was a lie. 

So if you ask me why I think she’s gone missing, I’d have to tell you that I don’t know.

 I’m just giving you some background about who she was. Is.

I have already reviewed this book, look back for the review. 

Friday, 7 December 2018

Some Kind of Wonderful by Giovanna Fletcher

Some Kind of WonderfulSome Kind of Wonderful by Giovanna Fletcher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Happiness can be found where you least expect it . . .

When the love of your life says you're not The One, what next?

After celebrating a decade together, everyone thinks Lizzy and Ian are about to get engaged.

Instead, a romantic escape to Dubai leaves Lizzy with no ring, no fiancé and no future.

Lizzy is heartbroken - but through the tears, she sees an opportunity. This is her moment to discover what she's been missing while playing Ian's 'better half'.

But how much has Ian changed her, and who is she without him?

Lizzy sets out to rediscover the girl she was before - and, in the meantime, have a little fun . . .

This was my first book I have read by Giovanna Fletcher. I didn't know really what to expect, I was hoping for a good chick lit novel.

In this story we follow Lizzie, she has been with her boyfriend for many years and is desperate to get married, when she gets whisked away on a romantic break to Dubai, she is sure that finally he is going to pop the question. The trip is almost over and so far no sign of a romantic proposal, after one final night she returns home without a boyfriend and her whole life is about to change.

She begins to gradually rebuild herself, this is a chance for a fresh start and although hard Lizzie has decided she needs to move on with her life and try and make the best of it.

I really liked the beginning part of the story and thought it was everything I was looking for, however I must admit I started to get a little lost and bored towards the middle, it felt like it wasn't going anywhere. I was a bit disappointed as it had such promise but I was unable to enjoy it again as much as I had initially.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

Anatomy of a ScandalAnatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A high-profile marriage thrust into the spotlight. A wife, determined to keep her family safe, must face a prosecutor who believes justice has been a long time coming. A scandal that will rock Westminster. And the women caught at the heart of it.

Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is sure her husband, James, is innocent and desperately hopes to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them. Kate is the barrister who will prosecute the case – she is equally certain that James is guilty and determined he will pay for his crimes

A timely and topical thriller uncovering a high profile case of an MP in Westminster accused of rape. Told from multi viewpoints and from past college days to present day and the trial of the accused MP James Whitehouse. The college days tell of the privileged wealthy students whose appetite for excess in all things leaves an impression wherever they go, not least in the their privileged boys club the Libertines spend hedonistic nights drinking and taking drugs then trashing the club believing they only have to flash their cash to keep everyone happy and cover any indiscretions. Bonds are formed in the days at Oxford and James Whitehouse forms a lasting partnership with Tom Southern who later becomes PM. We are transported 30 years later and both young men working in Westminster have each others' backs. When James is accused by his parliamentary researcher Olivia Lytton of rape Tom has to distance himself but still supports him when James says he is innocent. Olivia appoints Kate Woodcroft QC who specialises in prosecuting sexual crimes and we later learn she has a connection to the accused. James is married to Sophie who at first is convinced her husband, although used to having his own way, would not have committed this crime but as time goes on she begins to doubt him.

Plenty of twists and turns in this well paced novel and lots of high court room drama with a nice little twist at the end. Good enjoyable read that gets a 4 stars from me.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Friends Like These by Sarah Alderson

Friends Like TheseFriends Like These by Sarah Alderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lizzie hasn't thought much about Becca since the accident.

She remembers the blood though. She can see how you wouldn't be the same again after something like that. No one was surprised when Becca didn't come back to work.

And Lizzie's different these days too. She used to be the one in the shadows, stalking Becca's perfect life online, but a lot has changed since then.

So when Becca's ex shows up on Tinder, Lizzie swipes right. Why not? Doesn't she deserve a chance at happiness as well?

Becca will have moved on. There's no way she'd even remember Lizzie, no way she could know anything about her life - is there?

She's about to find out that with a friend like Becca, she doesn't need enemies...

Cleverly written psychological thriller with such tight characters it is not possible to separate them as suspects to unravel this compulsive novel until the end.

Written from two peoples' perspective we are taken on a journey of intrigue and deception. Just when I thought I knew what was going on and who was the perpetrator up came another curve ball that made me question everything I thought I knew from the plot. Revenge, jealousy and a twisting madness all make for an addictive and compelling novel.

Unfortunately I didn't like many of the characters (with the exception of Flora) but despite this I did want to know how it all panned out which kept me going to the end. A good read and worth 4 stars.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

No Further Questions by Gillian McAllister

No Further QuestionsNo Further Questions by Gillian McAllister
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The police say she's guilty.
She insists she's innocent.
She's your sister.
You love her.
You trust her.
But they say she killed the person you care about most.

Cleverly executed psychological thriller/court room drama about 2 sisters (Becky and Martha) whose lives are changed forever when Martha leaves her 8 week old baby Layla in the care of her sister Becky while she and her husband Scott are away on business trips. Becky has become Layla's nanny but the baby is a very fractious child and Becky finds it difficult to cope with her. That night the unthinkable happens and Layla dies, the story unfolds through different POV's on what happens leading up to that fateful night and slowly the real truth emerges.

Lots of twists in this one, I genuinely didn't guess the ending which is always a plus for me. The court room drama and ping pong between defence and prosecution was pacey and kept up momentum throughout the book. Easily read in one sitting I found I was analysing the prosecution's style and method of questioning which highlighted for me how some seemingly innocent actions or remarks can be taken out of context or manipulated to support a theory. Very cleverly plotted and a good ending. I will definitely look out for her next novel coming out in Spring 2019 called The Evidence Against You - being a lawyer Gillian is sticking to what she knows best and it's a great formula. Easy 5 stars.

Monday, 19 November 2018

The Hygge Holiday by Rosie Blake

The Hygge HolidayThe Hygge Holiday by Rosie Blake
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The perfect recipe for hygge: make a hot chocolate, draw the curtains, snuggle under a blanket and read your way to happiness!

It's autumn in Yulethorpe and everyone is gloomy. It's cold, drizzly and the skies are permagrey. The last shop on the high street - an adorable little toy shop - has just shut its doors. Everything is going wrong for Yulethorpe this autumn. Until Clara Kristensen arrives.

Clara is on holiday but she can see the potential in the pretty town, so she rolls up her sleeves and sets to work. Things are looking up until Joe comes to Yulethorpe to find out exactly what is going on with his mother's shop. Joe is Very Busy and Important in the City and very sure that Clara is up to no good. Surely no one would work this hard just for the fun of it?

Can a man who answers emails at 3 a. m. learn to appreciate the slower, happier, hygge things in life - naps, candles, good friends and maybe even falling in love?

I've read a couple of Rosie Blake novels before and I'm never disappointed in her work.

The Hygge Holiday is a real 'feel good' factor book, perfect for reading at Christmas time with the warm glow of a welcoming fire, a glass of wine and lots of lovely candles to whisk you away on this romantic journey to Yulethorpe and the little toy shop.

Clara the main character was such a warm genuine character it was easy to like her; in fact all the characters were lovely and believable. It seemed that Clara wove her magic in the little village and by the end of the book everyone had benefited in some way from her being there.

Of course there was the obligatory love story and although it was so very predictable it really didn't matter as the hygge just made you want to have everything turn out right in the end, which of course it did.

Nice to read a really likeable warm comforting book that does exactly what you expect and leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside - perfect winter reading and just a delight. Well deserved 5 stars.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 16 November 2018

The Winters by Lisa Gabriele blog tour

The WintersThe Winters by Lisa Gabriele
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An addictively suspenseful new novel set in the glamorous world of the New York Hamptons, about secrets that refuse to remain buried and consequences that cannot be escaped.

After a whirlwind romance, a young woman returns to the opulent, secluded mansion of her new fiancé Max Winter - a wealthy senator and recent widower - and a life of luxury she’s never known. But all is not as it appears at the Asherley estate. The house is steeped in the memory of Max’s beautiful first wife Rebekah, who haunts the young woman’s imagination and feeds her uncertainties, while his very alive teenage daughter Dani makes her life a living hell.

As the soon-to-be second Mrs. Winter grows more in love with Max, and more afraid of Dani, she is drawn deeper into the family’s dark secrets - the kind of secrets that could kill her, too.

Inspired by the classic novel Rebecca, The Winters is a riveting story about what happens when a family’s ghosts resurface and threaten to upend everything.

A haunting psychological thriller very much in the style and feel of Daphne du Mauriers Rebecca from which Lisa Gabriele took her inspiration. It has all the haunted locked room and mysterious ghostly feel of Rebecca but also has its own identity as a haunting thriller.

Beautifully crafted and expressive emotive writing brings this story to life, even if you never read Rebecca you can't fail to be drawn in by this clever twisty thriller. The writing is done so well that you can easily visualise the house and each room when you enter them, the twist at the end was not entirely surprising but that really didn't matter as it was so well written and thought out that satisfaction was not compromised.

Easy to read and the pace builds right from the start making it almost impossible to put down until the end. I loved this novel and can easily give it 5 stars, I can't wait to read more from this talented author.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.


Last night Rebekah tried to murder me again. It had been a while since I’d had that dream, not since we left Asherley, a place I called home for one winter and the bitterest part of spring, the dream only ever recurring when Max was gone and I’d find myself alone with Dani.

As always, the dream begins with Asherley in the distance, shining from afar in a bright clearing. There is no greenhouse, nor boathouse, just a stand of red canoes stabbed into the pebbly beach. In fact, the Asherley of my dream looks more like it might have back in its whaling days, when from the highest turret you could still spot tall ships dotting Gardiners Bay.

Overpowered by the urge to be inside the house again, I pass easily through the thicket of forest that surrounds the property. I want so badly to wander its wood-paneled halls, to feel its plush red carpets beneath my bare feet, to move my fingers in the play of sun through the stained-glass windows, but an invisible force keeps me out. I’m relegated to the bay, where I float like a sad specter, made to watch those who still haunt Asherley act out the same strange pantomime.

I can see Max, my Max, relaxing on an Adirondack, one in a line like white teeth dotting the silvery-green lawn. He’s reading a newspaper, framed by the majestic spread of Asherley behind him, its walls of gray stones, its crowd of terra-cotta peaks, its dentils studded with carved rosettes, anchored by the heavy brow of its deep stone porch. Every lamp in every room of the house is lit. A fire roars in every fireplace. The circle of windows at the top of the high turret burns like a sentinel over the bay, as though the house were about to put on a great show for me.

I call for Max but he can’t hear me. I want to go to him, to touch his face, to smell his hair, to fit my shoulder under his arm, our sides pressed together. My throat feels strangled with that longing.

On cue, she strides out the back door, carefully balancing a tray of lemonade. She’s wearing a white lace dress with a red sash, her blond hair glinting in the sun, her face so eerily symmetrical she’d almost be odd-looking except for the singular perfection of each and every one of her features. Here is Rebekah making her way down to Max, changing her gait to accommodate the steep slope of the back lawn. Now Dani bolts from the house behind her, laughing, her chubby legs charging straight for the water and for me. She’s three, maybe four, her hair, far too long for a child, is the same white blond as her mother’s. I often wish I could have met Dani when she was this young and unformed. Things might have been very different between us.

My body instinctively thrusts forward to catch the girl, to prevent her from running too far into the bay and drowning.

Rebekah yells, “Be careful, sweetheart,” which Max repeats. She puts the tray down. From behind, she wraps her arms around Max’s shoulders and warmly kisses his neck. He places

a reassuring hand on her forearm. They both watch as Dani splashes in the shallow water, screaming and laughing, calling, “Look at me, I can swim.”

Then, as she always does in the dream, Rebekah becomes the only one who spots me bobbing in the bay, too near her daughter for her liking. She straightens up and walks towards the water, stalking me like a lion not wanting to disturb its prey. Still in her dress, she wades into the water, moving past a frolicking, oblivious Dani, until we are finally face-to-face. Her eyes narrow, forming that familiar dimple over her left brow.

I try to flee but my legs are useless.

“Who are you?” she asks. “You don’t belong here.”

Rebekah’s mouth is close enough to kiss, a woman I’d seen in hundreds of photos, whose every contour I’d memorized, whose every expression I’d studied and sometimes un-consciously mimicked in my darker days, when my obsession was most acute and I had no idea how to live at Asherley, how to be a wife to Max, or a friend to Dani.

“I do belong here. She needs me,” I say, pointing to Dani, my impudence surprising even me. I try to move but my feet are rooted in the sand below, arms floating beside me like weeds.

“She doesn’t need you,” Rebekah says, placing her hands on my shoulders in a reassuring manner. “She needs her mother.”

Then she rears back slightly. Using all of her weight, Rebekah shoves me under the waves with a sudden violence, flooding my vision with air bubbles. I fight for the surface, to scream for Max to help me, but she’s stronger than me, her hands a vise on my shoulders, her arms steely and rigid. In my dream, she’s not angry. Rebekah kills me slowly and methodically, not with hate or fear. She’s being practical. I am channeling vital resources away from her, rerouting Dani’s feelings, altering Max’s fate. My murder is conducted with dispassion and efficiency. And though I don’t want to die, I can’t imagine going on like this either, careful of my every move, looking over my shoulder, afraid to touch anything, break anything, love anything, worried his past will surface again and ruin what I’ve worked so hard for, what we’ve worked so hard for. Her task complete, my body painlessly dissolves into the waves and I disappear. I am dead and made of nothing. I am gone.

I woke up gasping for air, my hand at my throat. I kept reminding myself that everything is okay, we are okay, that we are alive and she is dead, cursing the fact that the dream had followed us here, our last stop, I hoped, for a good long while.

The Confession by Jo Spain

The ConfessionThe Confession by Jo Spain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear. It looks like Harry's many sins - corruption, greed, betrayal - have finally caught up with him.

An hour later the intruder, JP Carney, hands himself in, confessing to the assault. The police have a victim, a suspect in custody and an eye-witness account, but Julie remains troubled.

Has Carney's surrender really been driven by a guilty conscience or is this confession the first calculated move in a deadly game?

Dark, compelling psychological/crime thriller set in Ireland opens with the brutal beating in front of his wife of wealthy disgraced banker Harry McNamara. Julie, Harry's wife watches the senseless attack completely unable to move and as his attacker leaves Julie, in a state of shock, remains motionless watching Harry die in front of her. What an opener and this novel just gets better as it goes along. We know who the killer is right at the start, what we don't know is why and the rest of the book takes us tantalisingly along until the end and the reveal. What is unusual about this story is that the attacker (JP Carney) hands himself in at the police station and confesses to his crime but declaring he has no idea why he attacked Harry McNamara in fact he maintains he does not know his name until the police tell him.

Now begins the journey; we are taken through the narrative of the perspective of three people, Julie McNamara, JP Carney and DS Alice Moody who is handling the case. What possible connection could there be between Harry McNamara the wealthy, unscrupulous banker and JP Carney a man from the other side of the track, financially and socially his inferior? With short sharp chapters and lots of twists and turns were learn the connection and the reasons why, just ahead of the relentless digging of DS Alice Moody, we can feel the tension building.

A great plot, really clever writing and just the right amount of pace and tension. Given that we already know who did it, it still managed to be gripping until the end. Excellent, 5 stars. Can't wait to read more of her work.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest reivew.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

The Rumour by Lesley Kara

The RumourThe Rumour by Lesley Kara

When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now there’s no going back . . .

Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea.

Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago – no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman.

So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realizes what it is she’s unleashed?

A clever insightful book and a cracking debut novel for this writer. Very addictive I read this in one sitting so the pace is fast and the chapters short and skilfully written. Gossip, the universal addiction, who doesn't like a bit of gossip and speculation but it causes suspicion, accusation and paranoia all of which engulf the little community of Flinstead when whispers and lies get out of control and poison spreads like a die in water.

Joanna has moved to Flinstead from the hustle and bustle of London with her 6 year old son Alfie, a gentle child who has been bullied at school, and comes to Flinstead where she grew up and to be closer to her mother. She works in an estate agent and Alfie goes to the local school. They both struggle to feel accepted and Joanna doesn't make it any easier by not joining the other mothers in coffee mornings and chats at the school gate.

Joanna hears a rumour that a child killer is living in a safe house in Flinstead and in an effort to be accepted in the mothers clique, she repeats what she has heard at the school gate. The mothers are instantly interested in her piece of gossip and Joanna feels that she has breached the barrier into their little social group, what Joanna doesn't realise is that this piece of idle gossip will have disastrous consequences.

The Rumour shows how easy it is to gossip and how secrets and lies can have devastating effects of everyone including the innocent - the 'Chinese whisper' effect reaches far and wide and can't be stopped until it reaches it's crescendo.

Very cleverly written, good characterisation and just enough surprises to keep it going until the unpredictable ending, didn't see it coming. Has to have a 5 star rating for a great first novel.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

The ImmortalistsThe Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's 1969, and holed up in a grimy tenement building in New York's Lower East Side is a travelling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the date they will die. The four Gold children, too young for what they're about to hear, sneak out to learn their fortunes.

Such prophecies could be dismissed as trickery and nonsense, yet the Golds bury theirs deep. Over the years that follow they attempt to ignore, embrace, cheat and defy the 'knowledge' given to them that day - but it will shape the course of their lives forever.

Quite and unusual and intriguing book; if you could know the date of your death would you want to and if you did would it change the way you lived your life? Four bored siblings (Simon, Klara, Daniel and Varya) visit a fortune teller at the end of a boring and uneventful summer holiday and learn the date of each of their deaths. Each sibling is told separately and they don't confide in the others. We are then transported several years into the future when the children are teenagers and follow each one of the siblings until their death.

The first one we follow is Simon the youngest child and he runs away with Klara to San Francisco where he is able to live the life he wants as a gay man and she can pursue her dreams of becoming a magician. Simon confides in Klara the date of his death but only when its imminent, the reader does not know any of the predicted deaths of the characters. Both Simon and Klara are estranged from their mother Gertie, and other siblings because they ran away and this lack of contact with the others forms the basis of guilt for the other two.

The first story is essentially about Simon but because he is with Klara they do overlap in parts. Simon lives a somewhat hedonistic lifestyle to the point where he is almost out of control, sleeping around, taking drugs and drinking, seemingly intent on experiencing all that life can offer. Klara is self-absorbed in her own desire to become a famous magician/illusionist and although the siblings are together their paths go in different directions.

Daniel is the third story we learn (he has become a doctor and works for the military assessing the fitness of recruits) and the struggles he faces along with his difficulty in absolving himself of any responsibility over the deaths of his siblings. His eventual search for the fortune teller in an attempt to reverse the predictions and the eventual outcome are quite sad. Varya is the last story she is a research scientist and we follow her until the end of the book. All the siblings seemed to have psychological issues, perhaps these are hereditary or because the predictions have shaped them.

It was an interesting idea but I felt that because we didn't really get a good idea of the relationship between the children up to the point we follow each one, it was difficult to form attachments to them to give the right emotive quality to the stories. I liked some of the characters a bit and the others I didn't really care for but because I had no real emotional attachment to them or their relationship with each other it just didn't have the desired effect at the end. Each of the stories could easily have been stand alones because the lives of each sibling are quite separate and don't rely on what's happening in their brothers and sisters lives to have an effect on their own and their eventual outcome.

The story is about choices, mortality, grief and relies on a superstitious belief in what a gypsy has predicted and how this affects the siblings as they lead their lives. If they hadn't had this information would they have lived their lives differently? Did the predictions make them take the life choices they made? If they had ignored the predictions would their lives have been better for it?

A thought provoking book pitting fate and prophecy against each other and reinforcing that perhaps ignorance is bliss. I can't say I liked the book, it was interesting but not altogether convincing on many fronts but unusual enough an idea with a couple of curve balls thrown in to keep me reading until the end. I would give this 3 stars for it's originality.

Monday, 5 November 2018

More Than a Feeling: A Hilarious Rom Com That Will Have You Hooked by Cate Woods

More Than a Feeling: A Hilarious Rom Com That Will Have You HookedMore Than a Feeling: A Hilarious Rom Com That Will Have You Hooked by Cate Woods
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The old Annie Taylor knew who she was.

She had bags of confidence and spent her evenings impersonating her idol Barbra Streisand, looking flawless in exuberant turbans and winged eyeliner.

But nowadays she has more roles than she can count - mother, girlfriend, best friend, photographer, sister - and she doesn't feel like she's doing any of them justice.

So when, unexpectedly, life propels her back to being the glamorous Barb, she finally has the chance to find herself once more...

A light hearted Rom-com and one for on holiday - perfect funny beach reading material. All the usual trials and tribulations, misunderstandings and inevitable ending. Not really much to say about this one, if you are a Rom-com fan you'll like it. It has some genuinely funny one liners and Woods writes in a very descriptive way for visualisation. It's not the best one I have read in this genre but a passable, enjoyable read with no fireworks although not as polished as the Sophie Kinsella's of the genre.

I won't re-tell the story but it's quite predictable as most of this genre usually are - well written but for me it felt like the author was trying a bit too hard with the one liners and situational comedy scenarios. It is difficult in this category to write something so entirely fresh but she does attempt this well. Go out any buy it for holiday reading. I give this one 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4* for Amazon and Goodreads.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

ROAR by Cecelia Ahern

RoarRoar by Cecelia Ahern
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Have you ever stood at a crossroads, undecided…Have you ever had a moment when you wanted to roar?

From much-loved, international bestseller Cecelia Ahern come stories for all of us: the women who befriend us, the women who encourage us, the women who make us brave. From The Woman Who Slowly Disappeared to The Woman Who Returned and Exchanged her Husband, discover thirty touching, often hilarious, stories and meet thirty very different women. Each discovers her strength; each realizes she holds the power to make a change.

Witty, tender, surprising, these keenly observed tales speak to us all, and capture the moment when we all want to roar.

I love books by Cecelia Ahern, I always have, however I feel since I have got older I have more of a love/hate relationship with them. Sometimes I just find them a little bizarre, crazy and unbelievable. This book was very different, this is 30 short stories all about women, I love short stories as having a very busy job I can not always invest a lot of time in a story and I can feel very disappointed as I haven't given it the attention it deserves. With short stories this never happens, they let me read one feel like I have accomplished something before bed.

These short stories are all about women, at different periods of their lives, some stories are longer than others and some are quite bizarre, which I struggled with. Some of them really stayed in my mind for a long time after I had finished them and made me think. There were some I preferred to others.

Overall it is a nice short story collection, I think it would be better to read a few at a time, perhaps pick up another book and then return to these. It is a very interesting collection of short stories and was written very well, I rated this 3.5* rounded up to 4* for Amazon and Goodreads. The reason the rating isn't higher is because in my opinion some of the stories were just a little to far fetched and silly for me.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit

FearFear by Dirk Kurbjuweit
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

You'd die for your family. But would you kill for them?

Family is everything. So what if yours was being terrorised by a neighbour - a man who doesn't listen to reason, whose actions become more erratic and sinister with each passing day? And those you thought would help - the police, your lawyer - can't help you.

You become afraid to leave your family at home alone. But there's nothing more you can do to protect them.

Is there?

I didn't really gel with this book, perhaps something was lost in translation (German writer); it was so laboured and slow I had trouble remaining connected and found when I put it down I had to re-read some pages to get back into it.

It was so miserable and gloomy and the characters were unexplored and flat that I really didn't care about them or what was happening to them. It appeared to be a good psychological thriller from the blurb but was for me very disappointing and I really felt it was not worth my ploughing through it to the end.

Randolph is a weak man, selfish, quite arrogant and rather dull. His childhood experiences the person he has become and his shortfalls determine who he ends up being. The characters have no real personalities, they are not well developed. The neighbour who is causing all the trouble is not fleshed out enough to make him believable, we know so little about why he does what he does. It just doesn't have any realism and because of this trying to illicit any emotions from the reader is nearly impossible. The writer tells the story through Randolph and it's all his POV so that the reader has no opportunity to 'see' what is happening and form an opinion.

I ended up skim reading and skipped to the end skipping all the self-absorbed (and now boring) rhetoric. Even the ending where the writer put in a small twist was too little too late to save this novel. A very disappointing 2 stars is all I can give this one. I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 29 October 2018

The French Girl by Lexie Elliott

The French GirlThe French Girl by Lexie Elliott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

She appears, lithe and tanned, by the swimming pool one afternoon. Severine - the girl next door. It was supposed to be a final celebration for six British graduates, the perfect French getaway, until she arrived. Severine's beauty captivates each of them in turn. Under the heat of a summer sky, simmering tensions begin to boil over - years of jealousy and longing rising dangerously to the surface.
And then Severine disappears.
A decade later, Severine's body is found at the farmhouse. For Kate Channing, the discovery brings up more than just unwelcome memories. As police suspicion mounts against the friends, Kate becomes desperate to resolve her own shifting understanding of that time. But as the layers of deception reveal themselves, Kate must ask herself - does she really want to know what happened to the French girl?

A pleasant enough read, pace is somewhat slower than I like which does affect the outcome for me.

Six British graduates spend a holiday in France after they have graduated at a pretty farmhouse to relax and enjoy themselves before they embark on different careers and paths. The story hinges around the mademoiselle from next door Sevrine who appears to have 'adopted' the group and spends most of their holiday with them.

The disappearance of Sevrine at the and of the holiday seems odd but not particularly worrying until a decade later when her body is found in a well near the cottage. Obviously someone is hiding something and the French police are not going to be satisfied until they can find a motive and a murderer. One of the group Theo is already dead but the rest are subject to intense scrutiny and the pressure is uncovering secrets and lies about that last day in France. With each of the group looking more closely at each other friendships become strained. Kate is beginning to visualise Sevrine everywhere she goes, being haunted by the girl she didn't particularly like and also causing Kate to re-visit a painful romance with Seb that ended on the last day of the holiday.

It is a psychological thriller, not the best I've read but it does have enough (just) to keep the reader going. The ending was somewhat predictable but I felt it didn't address a few issues whether this was intentional or not it did leave it a bit flat at the end. Not the real tension building thriller that I like, it lacked suspense and for me made it all rather predictable, I was hoping for a real twist at the end but it didn't arrive so a bit disappointing. Characterisation was ok although we didn't really get 'into' the characters, I liked Laura probably the best of the group.

If you want a pleasant holiday read with no real brain gymnastics than this is one for you but because I like my thrillers with more pace and suspense I can only give this 3 stars. I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 26 October 2018

The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn HardcastleThe 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tonight, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed ... Again

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden - one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party - can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath..

This was nothing like anything I have read before; a complete mind scrambler that was so clever, so ingenious that I can't contemplate what kind of mind created it. Was Stuart on some wacky baccy or mind trip? If he was I'm so glad he was able to write it all down for us to enjoy. My word, what a ride and a work out for the brain. I couldn't fathom who had 'done it' and I was so carried along in the excellent writing and craftsmanship of the book that I only cared about the journey to the finale. Completely original and a joy to read.

This is like a gothic horror, murder Agatha Christie type thriller with so many twists and turns it leaves you reeling. It is a weighty book and I didn't think it was my kind of genre but that was a great mistake. Set in the 1920s the whole thing takes place in Blackheath a large sprawling country mansion remotely tucked away from the nearest town. The novel opens up with the narrator running through a forest, he has no idea where he is or if he is being pursued, he is dressed in someone else's' clothes and he soon realises he appears to be in someone else's body.

We find out fairly soon that the narrator is called Aiden Bishop and he appears to start each new day in someone else's body but reliving the same day (a bit like Ground Hog day). Through a masked figure he is told that a murder will be committed and he has eight chances to solve it and eight hosts he must inhabit to find the clues to set him free. If he does not find the answer by the eight day then his memory is wiped and he will have to start all over again. We also learn that there are two other members of the party who are also trying to solve the mystery and they also inhabit hosts. Aiden does not know the identity of the other members. To cap it all he and the other members are also being pursued by a knife wielding maniac footman who is out to kill them before they succeed.

The chapters are short and quick paced dealing with a host at a time in most cases and as Aiden inhabits the bodies of his hosts he is also further hampered by their physical abilities and their characterisation which all sets to complicate matters further. It is such a clever ingenious story and it has to be read to appreciate the great artistry in the writers ability to connect with the reader and the characters to bring this story to a conclusion. Almost every page there is a twist or misleading information, I found myself almost screaming with frustration when Aiden was not agile enough when he was in one hosts' body to be able to conduct some of the tasks himself. It's beautifully written, full of tension and each of the hosts have a motive for murder making every sentence he writes of significance to the story. It is a book of many facets, its a crime thriller, a psychological thriller, a murder mystery, even a little magical and mysterious with a good dose of dark humour to help it along; a book that could appeal to many genres of readers.

And what a finale! So unexpected and clever disclosing that Blackheath is not what it appears to be, another mask that has been taken off right at the end. I loved it and I find it hard to say that about a lot of novels but this one is in a class of it's own. Brilliantly written, masterfully crafted and what a great idea, I would dearly like a dose of what Stuart Turton had the day he thought of this one - just unique. Of course it gets a well deserved 5 stars from me, I only hope it gets picked up for making into a film, if it does I will be there on opening night!

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Starlight on the Palace Pier by Tracy Corbett

Get swept away with Tracy Corbett and spend your holidays on the Brighton pier

After an injury derails her dream of becoming a professional dancer, Becca Roberts heads home to Brighton in search of a fresh start.

And, when a part-time dance teacher role becomes available at The Starlight Playhouse, it seems like her stars are finally aligning. The crumbling old playhouse might need a bit of tender loving care (and a lick of paint!), but Becca is more than up to the challenge.

That is until Becca’s first love (and first heartbreak), Tom, waltzes into the Starlight Playhouse, and she realises life by the sea might not be as simple as she thought…

Fall in love on Palace Pier in this feel-good romantic comedy, perfect for fans of Debbie Johnson and Jill Mansell.


Becca had learnt early on in her career that being a dancer wasn’t a glamorous existence. From dusty, dirty rehearsal rooms, to dressing rooms that needed more than a lick of paint. Not to mention the touring, getting home late at night, the money that you weren’t paid and the endless physical hard work. You had to sacrifice a social life. You had to get used to being told no a lot, taking criticism, being told you weren’t good enough. The love you had for dancing had to be bigger than all the negatives. And she’d dealt with that. She’d been stoic, dedicated and resilient…but nothing could have prepared her for the horror of teaching a class of seven-year-olds.

The trial lesson last Saturday hadn’t started well. Mrs Morris had been so relieved a potential replacement had finally been found, that she’d packed up and gone home. Talk about landing her in it. But she hadn’t let this dent her confidence, and had set about trying to win over a group of tiny tots. Her plan was to begin with the basics, assess their abilities and then build on their technique, as her teachers had done with her. Which was fine in principle. It was just in practice that it failed.

Half the kids hadn’t turned up for the class. The ones who did were unruly, wouldn’t listen to instructions and spent the entire hour running around the studio making an absolute din. Far from reining in their unruly offspring, the parents had stood around the room glaring at Becca, clearly holding her responsible for their children’s lack of discipline. One boy nicked a girl’s hairnet and refused to give it back, making her cry. Two other girls started bickering and ended up crying, and one kid ran across the studio so fast he smacked into the mirrors, resulting in more crying.

Becca had been close to tears herself.

But this was nothing compared to the parents. One outraged mother removed her child mid-class, stating in a loud voice that Becca was an ‘utter disgrace’. Three parents announced at the end of the class they wouldn’t be returning, and one woman questioned whether Becca’s ‘unconventional’ appearance was entirely ‘appropriate’ for the role of a dance teacher.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Mine by J.L. Butler

MineMine by J.L. Butler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This debut novel will be your new obsession. Francine Day is a high flying lawyer about to apply for silk, ambitious and brilliant. She just needs one headline grabbing client to seal her place as queen's counsel … Martin Joy. The attraction is instant. Obsessive. They embark on a secret affair and Francine thinks she can hold it together. But then Martin's wife goes missing. And Martin is the prime suspect. Francine is now his lawyer, lover and the last person to see Donna Joy alive. As the case unravels so does Francine. My client. My lover. My husband. My obsession.

This book seemed intriguing to me and when I found that it was one of my favourite authors writing under a different name I knew I had to give this one ago.

This was more mystery to thriller I thought and I don't read many mystery books so was looking forward to this one. The plot and idea seemed a good one, one that would keep my interest throughout (this is quite a long book...) and it did on the whole, there were times that I thought it lacked a little pace.

Francine Day is a lawyer, she works hard and is trying to go for promotion soon, she is a divorce lawyer and when Martin Joy hires her initially it seems like any other case she takes on. This is quite a high profile case, there is a lot of money at stake and as she is one of the best lawyers around it seemed sensible he choose her for the job of defending him.

After initial meetings and a random bump into each other in a different context, Martin and Francine start to become close...Francine knows she shouldn't get involved in that way, she has worked so hard for everything she has achieved to risk throwing it all away over a guy, but things are different with Martin.

Overall it was a good story, which did keep me interested but I just didn't believe Francine in the way she behaved, she made some bad choices throughout the book, some which I cannot understand her reasoning.

I don't want to say anymore about the book as I don't want to give things away. It was not the best book I have read but it did entertain me and I would certainly give J.L. Butler another go with the next book to be published.

If you are looking for something a little different, give this a go.