Friday, 29 March 2019

The Liar's Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard

The Liar's GirlThe Liar's Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Her first love confessed to five murders. But the truth was so much worse.
Dublin's notorious Canal Killer, Will Hurley, is ten years into his life sentence when the body of a young woman is fished out of the Grand Canal. Though detectives suspect they are dealing with a copycat, they turn to Will for help. He claims he has the information the police need, but will only give it to one person - the girl he was dating when he committed his horrific crimes.
Alison Smith has spent the last decade abroad, putting her shattered life in Ireland far behind her. But when she gets a request from Dublin imploring her to help prevent another senseless murder, she is pulled back to face the past - and the man - she's worked so hard to forget.

Good story line about college students, their life and loves and a series of murders that occur by the canal that runs through the town.

Ali strikes up a romantic relationship with fellow student Will which ultimately effects her long standing friendship with Liz her school girlfriend and college mate. Ali learns a lot about her friendship with the unpredictable moods of Liz and when the murders start their friendship becomes strained. Unable to foresee Liz’s outbursts Ali has a blazing row with her the night Liz is murdered leaving her consumed with guilt.

Liz is the last of 4 killings and when the college students are interviewed Will is pulled into the station and later charged for all the murders. He’s promptly institutionalised in a mental facility.

Wind 10 years forward and Ali is contacted by the police as more ‘copy cat’ killings have started again at the university and they want to interview Will again but he’ll only speak to Ali.

Ali (through the police officer Monroe) agreed to meet him and she is then drawn into the investigation once again as Monroe believes Will might be innocent.

Nice short chapters kept up the pace throughout the book with red herrings and a climax at the end.

Read this in two days and enjoyed the ride. 4 stars for this one, recommended.

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

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Tall Oaks by Chris Whitaker

Tall OaksTall Oaks by Chris Whitaker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Tall Oaks is an idyllic small town, until the disappearance of a young child throws the tight-knit community into crisis.

Jess Monroe, the boy's distraught mother, is simultaneously leading the search and battling her own grief and self-destructive behaviour. Her neighbours watch on, their sympathy masking a string of dark secrets.

This is a small town where nothing is as it seems, and everyone has something to hide. And as the investigation draws towards a climax, prepare for a devastating final twist . . .

3 year old harry goes missing presumably taken from his bed one night. His distraught mother Jess relentlessly keeps up the pressure to find him with the help of Jim the local police chief as they work to solve the mystery. Could it be other residents know more than they’re saying? Through snapshots of residents lives we are given plenty of red herrings along the way.

I absolutely loved the character of Manny and his sidekick Al - pure genius - who provided the light relief in this intense novel. Surely Manny deserves his own story - had me laughing aloud with tears rolling down my face as I could picture him in front of me the descriptions were so good. The ill fitting fedora had me falling about. Despite copious amounts of swearing this character was for me the best in the book.

Good pacy read with a totally unpredictable ending, I genuinely didn’t see it coming! Easily a 5 🌟 star read for me.

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

Monday, 25 March 2019

The African Equation by Yasmina Khadra

The African EquationThe African Equation by Yasmina Khadra
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Frankfurt MD Kurt Krausmann is devastated by his wife's suicide. Unable to make sense of what happened, Kurt agrees to join his friend Hans on a humanitarian mission to the Comoros. But, sailing down the Red Sea, their boat is boarded by Somali pirates and the men are taken hostage.

The arduous journey to the pirates' desert hideout is only the beginning of Kurt's odyssey. He endures imprisonment and brutality at the hands of captors whose failings are all too human.

As the situation deteriorates, it is fellow prisoner, Bruno, a long-time resident in Africa, who shows Kurt another side to the wounded yet defiant continent he loves.

A giant of francophone writing, Algerian author Yasmina Khadra takes current events as a starting point to explore opposing views and myths of Africa and the West, ultimately delivering a powerful message of friendship, resilience, and redemption.

Way too wordy and self indulgent what could have been
a gripping and insightful book ended up being a platform for superfluous rhetoric that really had no correlation to the situation the characters found themselves in.

All the characters sounded the same; their 'voices' were not individual and therefore made them appear hollow and unrealistic. Khadra choses to make one of the pirates so eloquent and well educated that it is inconceivable that such an apparently educated man would end up as a murderous thug. It just didn't ring true. It felt that the author was projecting his own thoughts and ideologies into his characters which in my opinion just didn't work.

Khandra's language is littered with clichés and overblown views that seemed out of place in what should have been a gritty and powerful novel. A thug who quotes literary giants one minute and beats the hell out of you the next just doesn't work.

The descriptions of the harshness and beauty of Africa come across well but the endless description of every hut, room and its contents just got tedious and unnecessary. It was way too long, skilful editing could have made a great difference to the end product.

I can't say I enjoyed it, I skipped and skim read several pages in an effort to move it on and I struggled to the end. I am sure there are better African authors but this was my first and it will be a long time before I try another. Not for me, sorry only 1 star

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

Friday, 22 March 2019

Perfect Liars: Perfect for fans of Big Little Lies by Rebecca Reid

Perfect Liars: Perfect for fans of Big Little LiesPerfect Liars: Perfect for fans of Big Little Lies by Rebecca Reid
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Three women walk in to the dinner, but only two will leave. Murder isn’t so difficult the second time around…

Sixteen years ago, best friends Nancy, Georgia and Lila committed a terrible crime.

They have never spoken about it. But now, in their thirties, one of them wants to talk.

One word and everything could be ruined: their lives, their careers, their relationships. It's up to Georgia to call a crisis dinner.

But the evening does not go as planned.

How far would you go to protect the life you’ve built?

A story based around the lives of three girls set in the past when they are at boarding school and in the present years later when they have married, had children and moved apart. They are forever bound by something that happened in boarding school a secret that they have sworn not to tell anyone about. Lila, Georgie and Nancy at boarding school made for better reading than the adults they grew up to be. I didn't particularly like any of them and because of this I wasn't really invested in really caring what happened.

For me it was fairly easy to see what happened, the who did it was more of a riddle but the ending just felt a bit flat. It was a twist of sorts but just didn't have the killer punch I wanted.

I felt a bit deflated by the ending but it was an evenly paced read which kept me going and good for a holiday read. Would only give this one 3 stars though.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

The Mum who got her life back

When her 18-year-old twins leave for university, single mum Nadia’s life changes in ways she never expected: her Glasgow flat feels suddenly huge, laundry doesn’t take up half her week, and she no longer has to buy ‘the Big Milk’. After almost two decades of putting everyone else first, Nadia is finally taking care of herself. And with a budding romance with new boyfriend Jack, She’s never felt more alive.

That is, until her son Alfie drops out of university, and Nadia finds her empty nest is empty no more. With a heartbroken teenager to contend with, Nadia has to ask herself: is it ever possible for a mother to get her own life back? And can Jack and Nadia’s relationship survive having a sulky teenager around?

A gloriously funny and uplifting new book perfect for fans of Gill Sims and Jill Mansell.


Celibacy has its advantages. It really does!

I’m not even saying that in a bitter tone, with my teeth gritted. I can happily wander about with hairy bison legs beneath my jeans, if I want to. I can orgasm perfectly well by myself, and have plenty of friends to knock around with. Corinne and Gus are two of my closest; we’ve all known each other since our art college days in Dundee, and these days we share a studio pretty close to the city centre. As my children grew up, and I managed to establish myself properly, I reached the point where I could finally afford to work outside of the flat. It feels like a luxury sometimes, as now Alfie and Molly have left I can hardly complain about the lack of space at home. But I love working here. Our studio is the top floor of a tatty old warehouse, currently decked out with decorations and a sparkling white tree, as Christmas is approaching.

‘So your present to yourself is to get online,’ remarks Gus, as he makes coffee for the three of us.

‘I’m not joining a dating site,’ I say firmly.

‘Why not just give it a go?’ He glances over from the huge canvas he’s working on.

‘I’ve told you, Gus. It’s just not my thing.’

I turn back to the preliminary sketches that are littered all over my desk. I’m illustrating a series of study guides covering English, maths and history, and possibly more subjects, if the client is happy with the results. As I start to sketch, I’m aware of Gus and Corinne exchanging a look; both of them reckon I have been single for far too long.

It’s a year and a half since I last slept with someone, and that person happened to be Ryan Tibbles, who was also at art college with us, although I hadn’t known him very well when we were students. I’d just experienced a little frisson whenever I glimpsed him mooching around, with his mop of black, shaggy hair and languid expression, a smouldering roll-up permanently clamped between his sexy lips.

After we’d graduated, everyone had scattered all over the country in pursuit of work or to further their studies. I returned to Glasgow, to do admin for a small design company, hoping it would lead to greater things. Ryan, who’d been the star of his year, whizzed off to do a post-grad at St Martins in London. I heard nothing from him for all those years until he turned up out of the blue at a party at Corinne’s.

Monday, 18 March 2019

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

I Owe You OneI Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fixie Farr can’t help herself. Straightening a crooked object, removing a barely-there stain, helping out a friend . . . she just has to put things right. It’s how she got her nickname, after all. 

So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees, she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank her, the computer’s owner, Sebastian, scribbles her an IOU – but of course Fixie never intends to call in the favour.

That is, until her teenage crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and needs her help – and Fixie turns to Seb. But things don’t go according to plan, and now Fixie owes Seb: big time.

Soon the pair are caught up in a series of IOUs – from small favours to life-changing debts – and Fixie is torn between the past she’s used to and the future she deserves. 

Does she have the courage to fix things for herself and fight for the life, and love, she really wants? 

I really wanted to enjoy this book, I love Sophie Kinsella novels, however the last few she has written I felt have really let me down. This one unfortunately for me didn't give me the full enjoyment I came to expect from a Sophie Kinsella novel.

There were a few things, which annoyed me in this book. To begin with the main characters name Fixie, it just irritated me, I understood why she is called this and it is only a nickname but it just grated on me the more I read of it.

The second thing was the love affair with Fixie and Seb, how they got together just wasn't very believable for me, one minute he was with Bryony, which I'm guessing he has been her for some time and then literally the next minute Seb is asking Fixie out and they end up staying the night at his.

Fixie is left to deal with her families business while her mum is on holiday with her aunt, there is a lot about family in this book and how you support each other.

This was a very quick read, I read over a couple of plane journeys and it kept me entertained. I just felt it didn't have the humour I have grown accustomed to with Kinsella's novels.

I am hoping that Sophie Kinsella gets the spark back to her writing like she had when she wrote Can you Keep a secret and The Undomestic Goddess as personally I feel these were her best standalone novels.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Sail Away by Celia Imrie

Sail AwaySail Away by Celia Imrie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The phone hasn't rung for months. Suzy Marshall is discovering that work can be sluggish for an actress over sixty - even for the former star of a 1980s TV series. So when she's offered the plum role of Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest in Zurich, it seems like a godsend. Until, that is, the play is abruptly cancelled in suspicious circumstances, and Suzy is forced to take a job on a cruise ship to get home.
Meanwhile Amanda Herbert finds herself homeless in rainy Clapham. Her flat purchase has fallen through, and her children are absorbed in their own dramas. Then she spots an advertisement for an Atlantic cruise, and realises a few weeks on-board would tide her over - and save her money - until the crisis is solved.
As the two women set sail on a new adventure, neither can possibly predict the strange characters and dodgy dealings they will encounter - nor the unexpected rewards they will reap.
Vividly evoking the old-world glamour of a cruise ship - and the complex politics of its staff quarters - Sail Away is at once a hilarious romp and a thrilling tale of intrigue, from the acclaimed pen of Celia Imrie.

My first novel by this immensely talented actress who now is becoming an immensely talented author!

A light-hearted, fun farce based around the antics of a couple of 60 ish women who both find themselves on a cruise ship for different reasons that lead their lives to be linked together. I liked Imrie's style of writing, obviously dipping into her vast theatrical background and using her great sense of humour to deliver an enjoyable fun read.

Lots happening in this book; likeable characters that work well together, if I have one criticism it would be that it does tend to be strung out a little and does ask that you be patient until it all unravels. I did guess who the mysterious Karl really was fairly early on but it didn't detract from the story that was well thought out and tidied up all the ends satisfactorily.

It was quite refreshing to have the majority of the characters being 60 ish who showed they were certainly not past a bit of fun and mystery a good holiday read. I look forward to reading more novels by Celia Imrie - this one gets a 4 stars from me.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Tangerine by Christine Mangan

TangerineTangerine by Christine Mangan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the horrific accident at Bennington, the two friends - once inseparable roommates - haven't spoken in over a year. But Lucy is standing there, trying to make things right.
Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy, always fearless and independent, helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country.
But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice - she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice's husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.
Tangerine is an extraordinary debut, so tightly wound, so evocative of 1950s Tangier, and so cleverly plotted that it will leave you absolutely breathless.

I was intrigued by the title and blurb and (with the assurances of the book seller) was told that this was a great psychological thriller and I would be riveted from the first page. So I was impressed and a little seduced into buying this one. Now I must say there was a little I liked about the book, the use of language (being set in 1956 it was important to get this right), the descriptive set setting of Tangiers and the atmosphere but for me it ended there.

The first half of the book was essentially character and background building although the reader does not learn about the tragedy that happened to the main character Alice until about half way through the book. From then the pace should have ramped up, after all we have an obsessive college school mate who has sought Alice out and is determined what?.....We are led to believe that Lucy is probably a lesbian and has lusted after Alice for many years but this is not confirmed and not clear whether Alice reciprocates the feelings. So why has Lucy turned up in Tangiers and sought Alice out? Why indeed as this is not made clear which does make Lucy's actions a little hard to swallow.

Then lets look at Alice, we are led to believe she is a little fragile in her mind, is she insane? who knows, are we being told her side of the story through a madwoman's mind? Does the things that happen really happen? OK so far so good in terms of building an intriguing story except it's never made clear what is going on. Does her guardian Aunt Maude know Sophie is really Lucy and together they have plotted to have Alice committed? The timings of this is also off, Maude is Alice guardian and she gets her inheritance when she is 21 the problem here is that when she starts college she is 17 and when she leaves she's 21 and has been in Tangiers for at least a year and a half yet were told she's only 20 coming up for the end of her guardianship at 21. Bit confusing and sloppy really to get this timeframe muddled - it muddles the reader.

There is another murder and we do know who does it but then the introduction of a local man with a scar on his face is introduced - we never find out who he is or what purpose he has to the story and the ending is such a let down it all felt rather like Christine Mangan had an initial good idea for a book then ran out of steam mid way through.

So many questions were left hanging unanswered and the ending for me was just plain lazy - sorry I wanted to like this book but ended up feeling empty and dissatisfied. Can only give this a 2 star rating.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Wren by Katrina Lehman (illus. Sophie Beer)

WrenWren by Katrina Lehman (illus. Sophie Beer)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes we find what we’re looking for in the most unexpected places.

Wren just wants a bit of peace and quiet. What he gets is the noisiest baby sister you could ever imagine! But when Wren runs away to the country, he discovers that maybe peace and quiet isn’t all he needs …

To begin with I thought this was a book about autism and to help children understand what they are going through, however the further I got into the book I changed my mind on this.

This is about a little boy called Wren, he is part of a big family and likes peace and quiet. One day when he thinks the noise level can't get any worse, his mum and dad have a new baby girl and he gets to the point where he just can't stand it.

I think this is a good book for children with large families or new siblings. It may also be good for children who struggle with noise.

There are nice illustrations in the book, which you can get lost in for a while between pages. 

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

#wren #scribblekidsbooks

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

Do Not Become AlarmedDo Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The ship's comforts and possibilities seem infinite. But when they all go ashore in beautiful Central America, a series of minor mishaps lead the families further from the ship's safety.
One minute the children are there, and the next they're gone.
What follows is a heart-racing story told from the perspectives of the adults and the children, as the distraught parents - now turning on one another and blaming themselves - try to recover their children and their shattered lives.

Not a fan of this novel. The pace was quite slow and onerous taking until chapter 8 before it really got going. I didn't engage with the characters who were not developed enough although the storyline was promising it wasn't crafted out well and because of this there was little opportunity for surprises as the author directed the reader.

It all seemed a bit contrived to me, the introduction of the poor child Noemi trying to reach her family travelling through unsafe South America seemed to have been invented to contrast with the main characters and added little to the story.

A disappointment really and the ending was weak and without any fireworks. Sadly this can only get 2 stars from me. There are far better books out there.

Monday, 4 March 2019

After the Eclipse by Francesca Dorricott with giveaway

After the EclipseAfter the Eclipse by Fran Dorricott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A stunning psychological thriller about loss, sisterhood, and the evil that men do, for readers of Ruth Ware and S.K. Tremeyne

Two solar eclipses. Two missing girls.

Sixteen years ago a little girl was abducted during the darkness of a solar eclipse while her older sister Cassie was supposed to be watching her. She was never seen again. When a local girl goes missing just before the next big eclipse, Cassie - who has returned to her home town to care for her ailing grandmother - suspects the disappearance is connected to her sister: that whoever took Olive is still out there. But she needs to find a way to prove it, and time is running out.

What a great debut novel, full of twists and turns, a real page turner.

16 years after the disappearance of her sister, Cassie returns to Bishops' Green where it all happened to take care of her gran who has dementia and to escape her life in London. Haunted both by her sister Olive and her own guilt Cassie (a journalist) finds herself enmeshed in trying to uncover a similar disappearance in this sleepy backwater town. In doing so she embarks on a journey of self discovery and finally gets closer to the truth of the disappearance of Olive.

The plot is tightly woven and pulls you into this mystery like a magnet. There are so many secrets and lies that it was impossible to guess who the perpetrator was. Just as I thought I had it sussed another curve ball appeared to blow that theory out of the water.

Good likeable relatable characters, plenty of suspense and momentum kept this read at a fast pace - I devoured this in just under a day. The 'who dunnit' does not come out until the very end; a very accomplished debut that results in a very enjoyable read. I look forward to Fran's next novel - 5 stars and highly recommended.

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

Image result for giveaway

Right, for the exciting part, I have a copy to offer for a giveaway, very kindly offered by the publisher. This giveaway is open for people living in the UK/USA and Canada. 

All you have to do is comment below why you should be picked and I will draw a winner from random.

 Good Luck!