Monday, 29 April 2019

Cape May by Chip Cheek

Cape MayCape May by Chip Cheek
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

September 1957

Henry and Effie, young newlyweds from Georgia, arrive in Cape May, New Jersey, for their honeymoon. It's the end of the season and the town is deserted.
As they tentatively discover each other, they begin to realize that everyday married life might be disappointingly different from their happily-ever-after fantasy.

Just as they get ready to cut the trip short, a decadent and glamorous set suddenly sweep them up into their drama - Clara, a beautiful socialite who feels her youth slipping away; Max, a wealthy playboy and Clara's lover; and Alma, Max's aloof and mysterious half-sister.

The empty beach town becomes their playground, and as they sneak into abandoned summer homes, go sailing, walk naked under the stars, make love, and drink a great deal of gin, Henry and Effie slip from innocence into betrayal, with irrevocable consequences that reverberate through the rest of their lives...

When this landed on my door step I wasn't sure it would be my type of book. I don't tend to like books set in the past, this being in the 1950's I thought I would struggle with it. To be honest there were very few references of it being in the 50's and I wouldn't have know it wasn't in the present day, this to me make it a more of an enjoyable read.

Henry and Effie have just got married, Ellie decided she wanted to return to a place that was special to her as a child. Henry, who is completely devoted to her didn't really mind where they went; so although it was out of season they made their way from Georgia to Cape May in New Jersey.

When they arrive Effie starts to think it was a big mistake, staying in her uncles empty house, with miserable weather and hardly a sole in Cape May she is ready to head home early. Henry sees this as a failure and really wants them to stay. One night, something changes. They spot a light on at one of the houses and Effie decides to go to introduce themselves.

To be honest I found this really slow initially, I understand it needed to build but for me it could have got a lot more interesting earlier on. At one point I was considering giving up as I was about half way though and not a lot had happened. Being short I decided to persevere, it eventually got going for me and it moved a little quicker from then on.

Unfortunately I could predict what was going to happen from quite early on. It is mainly narrated by Henry throughout the book, it would have been nice to have got into the head of Effie a little more I feel.

The last chapter for me was unnecessary. I felt it didn't really bring a lot to the story and the pace in that last chapter was so much quicker than the whole of the book, it felt like the author was just trying to wrap things up very quickly.

Once I finally got into the book it was o.k, although due to the length of this, I should have been able to read it in a couple of days but unfortunately it didn't keep my interest enough for me to want to finish it quickly.

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

Friday, 26 April 2019

We Won an Island by Charlotte Lo

We Won an IslandWe Won an Island by Charlotte Lo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Luna's family win an island, Luna thinks it will solve everything AND she can finally get a donkey! But things don't go entirely to plan - no one expects Luna's younger brother to win a Sheep Pageant, for example - and the secret festival they hold soon spirals out of control. But the island is beautiful, and the family are happy, and maybe Luna will get her donkey after all...

Luna and her family are facing eviction, they have not had an easy life and her dad is rather depressed. They decide to enter a competition on the radio to win an island, run by a billionaire who owns it, this would mean they would be able to relocate and have a home.

This story takes us through the ups and downs of moving to a new place, knowing no one and having to deal with the hand they have been given.

You can't help but fall in love with Luna, she is optimistic about everything and tries to always see the good in all situations.

This is a fun quick story, one that children will enjoy, it was engaging and fun throughout. I would recommend this to any child who loves an adventure and is on the lookout for something new.

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

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

A Version of the Truth: A twisting, clever read for fans of Anatomy of a Scandal by B P Walter

A Version of the Truth: A twisting, clever read for fans of Anatomy of a ScandalA Version of the Truth: A twisting, clever read for fans of Anatomy of a Scandal by B P Walter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2019: Julianne is preparing a family dinner when her son comes to her and says he’s found something on his iPad. Something so terrible, it will turn Julianne’s world into a nightmare and make her question everything about her marriage and what type of man her husband is or is pretending to be.

1990: Holly is a fresher student at Oxford University. Out of her depth and nervous about her surroundings, she falls into an uneasy friendship with a group of older students from the upper echelons of society and begins to develop feelings for one in particular. He’s confident, quiet, attractive and seems to like her too. But as the year progresses, her friends’ behaviour grows steadily more disconcerting and Holly begins to realise she might just be a disposable pawn in a very sinister game.

A devastating secret has simmered beneath the surface for over twenty-five years. Now it’s time to discover the truth. But what if you’re afraid of what you might find?

I'm not really sure what I feel about this book, it wasn't what I was expecting. Written over two timelines with Holly as narrator in 1990 and Julienne in 2019. The book actually starts with Julienne in 2019 when her son Stephen discovers some material in the family Dropbox that worries and scares him and its discovery sets the story.

A dark and disturbing tale of gang rape, gay sex and other issues that are not easy to read about. It deals with elitist boys in Oxford and their quest for more and more daring experiences that result in some brutal consequences that spill over into their adult lives and the dark and depraved world of paedophiles and grooming.

Most of the characters are unlikeable which was probably intentional, some weak and easily manipulated and others that through lack of love and affection find themselves being drawn into this dark world.

I can't say I enjoyed it, it's not the kind of book that you can say that about. It was well written, awful in parts but compelling. I wanted the perpetrators to be dealt with satisfactorily but the ending for me felt incomplete and a bit hurried.

Scarily relevant at the moment and worryingly realistic, I give this one 3 stars.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

Thirteen (Eddie Flynn #4)Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Murder wasn't the hard part. It was just the start of the game.
Joshua Kane has been preparing for this moment his whole life. He's done it before. But this is the big one.
This is the murder trial of the century. And Kane has killed to get the best seat in the house.
But there's someone on his tail. Someone who suspects that the killer isn't the man on trial.
Kane knows time is running out - he just needs to get to the conviction without being discovered.

This novel is the forth in the Eddie Flynn series and my first Eddie Flynn novel by this author. Luckily for me its not necessary to read these in order as this can be enjoyed as a stand alone book.

It was such a gripping and fast paced read with an unusual and intriguing idea that the killer is actually a juror on the trial where he has framed someone for the murder that he in fact has committed.

With a ruthless prosecutor, a Hollywood movie star who is accused and a brilliantly yet flawed defence lawyer this novel screams along at breakneck speed until it hurtles the reader to its conclusion. Brilliantly twisty with good characters this thriller is one of the best I've read.

Has to have five stars and highly recommended. I thoroughly enjoyed this gripping novel.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Looker by Laura Sims

LookerLooker by Laura Sims

The Professor lives in Brooklyn; her partner Nathan left her when she couldn't have a baby. All she has now is her dead-end teaching job, her ramshackle apartment, and Nathan's old moggy, Cat. Who she doesn't even like.

The Actress lives a few doors down. She's famous and beautiful, with auburn hair, perfect skin, a lovely smile. She's got children - a baby, even. And a husband who seems to adore her. She leaves her windows open, even at night.

There's no harm, the Professor thinks, in looking in through the illuminated glass at that shiny, happy family, fantasizing about them, drawing ever closer to the actress herself. Or is there?

Quite an unusual book for me, a short, read in one day, profiling a psychological study of a disturbed complex character. Written in the first person, this novel follows the life of the unnamed main character who is trying to deal with an impending divorce and a life that appears to be unravelling. As her life disintegrates so does her sanity as she becomes fixated on a glamorous actress who, with her perfect husband, children, house and life seems to highlight this woman's' failings.

Our main character is a professor who teaches night classes in poetry to a class of 7 students. She has pretty much all day to observe the actress who lives opposite and she starts to fantasise about the actresses' life and her own involvement in it. She becomes so obsessed that she can hardly tell fantasy from reality, all the while she mourns her dead marriage and her inability to be able to have children, the main reason she believes her marriage failed.

When Nathan, her husband leaves her she is all alone, no one else in the building after a couple move out. All she has is Cat, Nathans cat, for company. She didn't really even like cats but once she knows he wants it back she resolutely hangs on to Cat.

A moment of madness leaves her with her job at risk as well as her personal life out of control as she falls ever deeper into loneliness, depression and low self-esteem, a woman loosing her sanity through jealousy and hatred.

An insightful look into this woman's mind takes the reader on a first person journey with the character through a mental breakdown showing how easy it is to become fixated on someone else's life that you deem to be more successful and happy than your own.

At only 200 pages long, Looker is a quick read and doesn't have many 'twists' or 'surprises' for the reader as it comes to its sad conclusion. I am sure I can't be the only one who felt that the ending could really have been more of a beginning, that there was so much more to tell. However it was sympathetically written, a bit unsettling with stalker like tendencies but nevertheless worth 3 stars,

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

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay

A Noise DownstairsA Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paul Davis forgets things. Why he walked into a room. Who he spoke to, and what they said. What he promised his wife he'd do. Sometimes it's too much, and the panic takes hold.

But he wasn't always like this.

Eight months ago, Paul was attacked - left for dead after seeing something he shouldn't have - and has been piecing his life back together ever since.

During the days, therapy helps. But at night, he hears noises that no one else can. That nobody believes. Sometimes he thinks someone is in the house. Other times, the sounds are far stranger.

Either he's losing his mind - or someone wants him to think he is. Or maybe something even darker is waiting downstairs . . .

One of my favourite psychological thriller writers Linwood Barclay never disappoints.

A cleverly woven tale which slowly builds throughout keeping up the pace as it hurtles the reader to the conclusion. I did guess in part what was going on but then there were twists aplenty before the full story was revealed.

Good characterisation, the story is mainly told through 3 POVs Paul, Charlotte (Pauls current wife), and Anna Pauls psychiatrist. Paul the main character gets caught up in a situation with his college colleague quite by chance one evening when Paul is on his way home he spots his mentor Kenneth's car up ahead of him with its tail light out. Kenneth is driving erratically and Paul thinks he may be drunk. He decides to tail him and then get him to pull over with the intention of driving him home himself. After a confrontation of sorts (sorry no spoilers) Kenneth tries to kill Paul. We then fast forward 8 months after the attack and Paul is suffering PTSD and is visiting a therapist called Anna and Kenneth is now in prison.

Paul is finding it difficult to recover mentally and often can't remember things, jobs he has to do for his wife Charlotte (taking the cleaning to cleaners), often not remembering how he arrives at places, etc. Paul is struggling and things are seemingly getting worse. Having decided to work through his issues by writing about what happened hooping this will rid him of demons, Charlotte his wife brings him a gift of an old typewriter to act as inspiration.

Things take on a bit of a supernatural vibe now as he imagines he hears the typewriter in the night, things escalate and he begins to question his sanity. At this point his life begins to unravel at an alarming rate.

Lots of side plots make it difficult at times to work out what's really happening and although I did guess part of it I never really got the whole picture until the end which is what makes Linwood Barclay for me a great writer.

Thoroughly recommend this thriller - 4.5 stars - rounded up to 5* for Amazon and Goodreads.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Eye for Eye by J.K. Franko

Eye for EyeEye for Eye by J.K. Franko
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I first met Susie, she appeared to be a normal, happily-married woman dealing with tragedy. Then, I uncovered her secrets. While I could understand everything that she d done, I could never approve. But, knowing what she was capable of, it became clear that if I was going to survive her, I had to play by her rules. And, the first and most important rule is... leave no singing bones.

My goodness what a tightly woven novel. It is Book 1 in the Talion Series and I cant wait to read the other two.

Full of hate, revenge and justice this thriller races along at breakneck speed in its desire to commit the perfect murder.

Full of twists and turns this propels the reader to the end but not the final conclusion.

Meticulously researched and scarily plausible I finished this novel in just a little over a day. I was hooked and although I needed to know the outcome I didn’t want it to end.

Rarely do I find a book that is so near perfect but I think this is it. Compelling storyline and sub plots, convincing characterisation and enough pace and twists to keep it alive right to the end.

Has to get 5 stars - I can’t wait to read Book 2 and 3 in the series. A little taster of book 2 follows on from the end of this one and I’m hooked already!

Highly recommended

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

Friday, 12 April 2019

Murder at The Mill by M.B. Shaw

Murder at The Mill (An Iris Grey Mystery #1)Murder at The Mill by M.B. Shaw
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A picture hides a thousand lies . . . And only Iris Grey can uncover the truth

Iris Grey arrives at Mill Cottage in a picture-perfect Hampshire village, looking to escape from her crumbling marriage. She is drawn to the neighbouring Wetherby family, and is commissioned to paint a portrait of Dominic Wetherby, a celebrated crime writer.

At the Wetherby's Christmas Eve party, the mulled wine is in full flow - but so too are tensions and rivalries among the guests. On Christmas Day, the youngest member of the Wetherby family, Lorcan, finds a body in the water. A tragic accident? Or a deadly crime?

With the snow falling, Iris enters a world of village gossip, romantic intrigue, buried secrets and murder.

Classic who dunnit murder mystery in the Marple Agatha Christie style. Very well written with good strong characters and steady pace throughout.

As with Christie novels, a hugely enjoyable nostalgic feel in this tale where all sub plots come together at the end.

I did guess the murderer and even felt sympathy for that person and the real villain also got their comeuppance so a well rounded complete outcome in the end.

Perfect for Christie fans and a really enjoyable well written piece of mystery and murder. A cosy fireside read and deserves 4 stars.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

My Sister’s Lies by S.D. Robertson with extract

My Sister’s LiesMy Sister’s Lies by S.D. Robertson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For a decade, Hannah’s life has been pretty close to perfect – she has a great job, she’s married to Mark, and her child-free existence means she’s free as a bird. The only sadness in her life is a fall-out with her sister Diane, who hasn’t spoken to her in over ten years. But now Diane is on her doorstep – and this time, she’s got her teenage daughter Mia in tow.

When Diane asks if Mia can stay with Hannah and Mark for a few days, Hannah is glad of the chance to get to know her niece. But as the days turn into weeks and Diane doesn’t return, Hannah begins to worry. Why hasn’t her sister been in touch?

Diane is carrying a devastating secret that will destroy Hannah’s carefully constructed life. But how much is she willing to reveal – and when will she pick her moment?

No fireworks with this one, it was a reasonable read but lacked suspense which made it rather slower than I would have liked.

The ending was quite predictable in fact I had guessed early on what had happened and tied in pretty quickly who had committed suicide.

No a fan of the transcripts but they did give additional background so I suppose they were relevant although there was so much explanation on feelings in almost every page that the reader would have got the point without the transcripts anyway. I confess I skim read these anyway as they were not revealing anything new.

Didn't really excite me; an adequate read but really rather ordinary so can only give this one a 3 star rating.

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

Monday, 8 April 2019

Your Guilty Secret by Rebecca Thornton

Your Guilty  SecretYour Guilty Secret by Rebecca Thornton
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

You know Lara King.

The top billing of the showbiz pages, you've seen her every morning; over your breakfast, on your commute to work. You know everything about her; you've dissected her life.

Her perfect relationship with film-star Matthew Raine. Her beautiful six-year old daughter Ava.

And so when a terrible incident shatters the family's carefully constructed facade, a media frenzy ensues.

What happens when the perfect woman begins to unravel? When her whole life is really just a lie? One she will do anything she can to stop you from finding out?

I almost put this down as it was so boring to start with - Lara King is supposed to be the biggest star in the world, a beautiful house, great career and a daughter who she has made into part of the brand. The 'announcement' they are all gearing towards was such an anti climax. It didn't materialise until page 150 by which time I really didn't care but the let down was the 'announcement' being that she was getting engaged!! In addition to this, something had been going on in the pool house - another anti climax. This had meant to traumatise Ava the daughter which is thought to have caused her to run away.

Add the blog of a obsessed fan and his rantings this novel was a mess. Did I care about her? No. Was I invested in the story line? No. Even the ending which was a twist of sorts still left me unimpressed. Disappointing, over hyped and only just average writing. Sorry not for me 2 stars.

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

Friday, 5 April 2019

The Other Couple by Sarah J. Naughton

The Other CoupleThe Other Couple by Sarah J. Naughton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was meant to be the perfect honeymoon.

A five-star resort in paradise.

White sands, a private villa and world-class cuisine.

A chance for newlyweds Asha and Ollie Graveney to recover from a recent tragedy, and enjoy the holiday of their dreams.

Except someone has other plans...

And paradise has turned into a nightmare.

Marrying a wealthy man who is deeply in love with you, holidaying in Vietnam in a 6 star luxury resort what's not to like? Very good comparison of paradise by day and sinister threatening danger by night kept this novel's pace going.

Asha feels that she doesn't really belong in Olly's world, she loves the luxury of the high life but she misses the ordinary feel of belonging in her own world. She marries Olly against the wishes of his family who feel she is nothing but a gold digger and she starts her married life on honeymoon in Vietnam almost on the back foot.

Olly appears to be distant and anxious but does not confide in her; he has secrets from his past she knows nothing about. They spend most of their days with other couples at the resort drinking heavily during the day and collapsing in drink induced comas at night. When they are both sober they spend the time arguing.

Olly, feeling that he is to blame and not wanting to loose Asha, agrees to a trip to some caves where one of them is murdered. I won't spoil it so you'll have to read it yourself.
The survivor, when back in London, tries to piece together what has happened and who committed the murder out of the other couples.

Good pacey novel, a few curve balls and surprises and although I guessed the murderer it was only when the writer wanted the reader to find out. A 4 stars for this one, a nice read and good ending.

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

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan

Holiday in the HamptonsHoliday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

She’s moved on…

Felicity Knight loves New York. But when she spots her ex-husband in the city, Fliss is desperate to escape!

He’s moved back…

Vet Set Carlyle is back from California to establish his own practice and settle down. When he learns that his ex Fliss still lives close by, that future is looking a whole lot brighter…

Will a perfect escape bring them back together?

With the help of his adorable dog Lulu, and a sprinkling of beachside magic, Seth is determined to make Fliss see he’s never stopped loving her!

The usual chic lit novel, no great surprises in this story, very predictable and a little boring to be honest. So much moaning from Fliss about her feelings and her being terrified about being hurt again. Really laboured the point so much it was tedious - its not necessary to constantly tell the reader how they should feel towards a character, a good writer will create that through the showing. Disappointing read - average writing with a poor storyline. Can only give this 2 stars.

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

Monday, 1 April 2019

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

The Librarian of AuschwitzThe Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the TerezĂ­n ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the ‘living books’ - prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be ‘borrowed’ to educate the children in the camp.

But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children’s block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor…

A moving account of one girl's life in Auschwitz concentration camp during the war. Dita and her mother Lisl are transported from camp to camp until they are finally sent to Auschwitz.

In an attempt to fool the rest of the world into thinking these camps were fine the Germans created a family camp to film and for people to visit to fool them into thinking that the atrocities they were being accused of just were not happening.

Block 31 was the childrens education camp, during the day the parents of the children laboured for the Germans while their children attended 'school'. This school had no books as these were forbidden, children were allowed to play and sing nothing else. Joseph Mengele also had an experimentation block where twins and other children of interest were taken from time to time.

Dita was given the responsibility of being the camps librarian where she looked after 8 books that prisoners had managed to smuggle into camp. These books, along with living teachers were the education that the children received in secret.

I did feel that it was hard to 'feel' emotions in this novel, perhaps it should have been a factual account rather than a story. I'm sure that prisoners were eventually institutionalised and so weak that they almost accepted their treatment - perhaps due to a will to survive some may have become informers which shows itself in the novel.

A moving and disturbing account of what people are capable of on both sides of the war. 4 stars

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