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 fiancĂ© 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.