Friday, 28 June 2019

Are We Nearly There Yet? by Lucy Vine

Are We Nearly There Yet?Are We Nearly There Yet? by Lucy Vine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alice is turning thirty and is stuck in a rut. Her friends are all coupling up and settling down, while she's still working as a temp, trying (and failing) not to shag her terrible ex, getting thrown out of clubs, and accidentally sexting her boss...
She decides to throw caution to the wind and jets off on a round-the-world adventure to #FindTheFun and find herself. Of course, she's no more likely to find the answer to true happiness on the beach in Thailand than she is at the electric beach in Tooting, but at least in Thailand there's paddleboard yoga.
Can Alice find happiness on her travels? Or is she more likely to lose herself all over again...?

When I heard about this book, I thought it would be right up my street, and it was. Alice has just turned 30, she has been in temp jobs for 10 years and she lives with her best friend Eva. However all that is about to change!

Alice decides she needs a break, she needs to find herself and goes travelling, beginning with LA. She knows someone who lives there so it will be perfect! While she is travelling she decides to keep in contact with everyone by writing her own blog.

It has been a while since I have whizzed through a book, through enjoying it so much, this was funny and I enjoyed seeing what Alice was going to get up to next.

For me and the reason I have not given this 5* is that I felt the mood change and during her time in Thailand when her brother shows up, the book becomes more serious and emotive, which for me I was a little disappointed with. I wanted it to continue as a fun adventure. Don't get me wrong it gave the book substance and more of a story line, I was just enjoying her care free attitude and it exposed Alice as a different type of person. I found it hard to like Alice towards the end, however she redeemed herself.

This was the first time I have read anything by this author, but on the strength of this I would seek out other novels.

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

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

The Passengers by John Marrs

The PassengersThe Passengers by John Marrs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course. 

The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife - and parents of two - who are travelling in separate vehicles and a suicidal man. Now the public have to judge who should survive but are the passengers all that they first seem?

What a high octane ride of a book -I couldn’t put it down. Such a scarily believable story so much so that I will never own an automated car.

8 people seemingly picked at random find themselves trapped passengers in their automated cars as a hacker takes control of their cars and their lives.

Their fate is broadcast over social media and soon the voting begins to choose who lives and who dies based on selected information shared with the media about the passengers.

So bang up to date with information technology that it is frighteningly plausible and completely addictive. I read this book in a day it was compulsive and shockingly compelling. I have not read John Marrs before this book but I will definitely be seeking him out in future.

Original and cleverly written with a pace as fast as the cars hurtling towards each other in a nail biting octane fuelled ride - brilliantly executed and worth 5 stars - I shall be looking out for the Netflix series.

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

Monday, 24 June 2019

Sophie Jenkins - A Random Act of Kindness

It only takes a moment, to change a life for ever…

Fern is too busy making sure other people feel good about themselves to give much thought to her own happiness. But somehow, without her noticing, life has run away from her.

Suddenly, Fern realises her vintage clothes business is struggling, and the casual relationship she’d always thought she was happy in doesn’t look so appealing.

But sometimes, karma really does come through. And when Fern goes out of her way to help 85-year-old Dinah, little does she realise their new friendship will change her life.

Dinah may have troubles in her past, but she’s lived and loved to the full. Can Dinah show Fern that even the smallest acts of kindness can make the world a better place?


There’s a picture of Fern Banks in the Camden Journal. She’s surrounded by billowing smoke and hugging her saved frocks to her heart, and she has that look in her eyes that I recognise from the couple of times I’ve met her; the look that says she knows me better than I know myself.

Staring at Fern in the paper, I’m trying to avoid seeing the hearse through the window.

The undertakers have come to take Enid. She went quietly in the night with no fuss and no last words. But when she didn’t say good morning to me, I knew.

They’re moving about upstairs. There’s no point in me getting in the way. That’s that, then. I am eighty-five and a widower.

I’m frightened of being alone. I’m a widower and I’ve lost my wife. What I need to do is, I need to get a new one. I know a lot of widows. All of Enid’s friends are widows. I don’t mind which one it is. I’m not looking for love or looks or even conversation, I just want someone in the house, moving about, someone to put the kettle on for. I do my own laundry. I don’t need looking after.

What the bloody hell is all that bumping?

Aye, the stairs are narrow, I should have told them about that. Didn’t think to. They can see it for themselves.


Kim, is it now?

The lad comes into the sitting room. Young enough to be my grandson; bright, healthy-looking, and he’s working in the undertakers. Says cheerfully, ‘Sorry to trouble you, but we might have to take that door off the bottom of the stairs to get her out. It’s that right-angled bend.’

If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

A feast of Serendib: Recipes from Sri Lanka by Mary Anne Mohanraj

Dark roasted curry powder, a fine attention to the balance of salty-sour-sweet, wholesome red rice and toasted curry leaves, plenty of coconut milk and chili heat. These are the flavors of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka was a cross roads in the sea routes of the East. Three waves of colonization—Portuguese, Dutch and British—and the Chinese laborers who came with them, left their culinary imprint on Sri Lankan food. Sri Lankan cooking with its many vegetarian dishes gives testimony to the presence of a multi-ethnic and multi -religious population.

Everyday classics like beef smoore and Jaffna crab curry are joined by luxurious feastdishes, such as nargisi kofta and green mango curry, once served to King Kasyapa in his 5th century sky palace of Sigiriya.

Vegetable dishes include cashew curry, jackfruit curry, asparagus poriyal, tempered lentils, broccoli varai and lime-masala mushrooms. There are appetizers of chili-mango cashews, prawn lentil patties, fried mutton rolls, and ribbon tea sandwiches. Deviled chili eggs bring the heat, yet ginger-garlic chicken is mild enough for a small child. Desserts include Sri Lankan favorites:  love cake, mango fluff, milk toffee and vattalappam, a richly-spiced coconut custard.

When this turned up for me to review, I was so excited! I love cooking and Indian food, so I was keen to try Sri Lankan food. 

Unfortunately my first impressions of this book weren't great. I don't know if it was because I was sent an advanced copy to review but all the recipes inside the book are in black and white. Now this wouldn't normally matter, but when you have a cook book, this is an important part of the book. The images there are to entice you to read it and want to cook that particular meal. 

Another thing I didn't like about the book, (again it could be due to me having an advanced copy) was that there are many different fonts in the book and there are many text boxes in it. 

There are so many recipes in this book and right at the beginning of the of the book, these are broken down into sections such as starters, meats/fish, vegetables, sides and even drinks. You won't be pushed to find a recipe you want to try! 

I also like the background information we are given at the beginning of the book, a bit about the author but also about Sri Lankan cooking. There is also information on a lot of the spices used in the recipes, which explains what they are and when they are used. 

The recipes are laid out well to make them easy to follow and have all the ingredients listed that you will need. 

Overall it is a nice cookery book, it would have been so much better had it of been in colour and the fonts/layouts inside corrected. As I said previously though this could just be because I was given an advanced copy. I do hope it is! 

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

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

All the Missing GirlsAll the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared without trace. Then a letter from her father arrives - 'I need to talk to you. That girl. I saw that girl.' Has her father's dementia worsened, or has he really seen Corinne? Returning home, Nicolette must finally face what happened on that terrible night all those years ago.
Then, another young woman goes missing, almost to the day of the anniversary of when Corinne vanished. And like ten years ago, the whole town is a suspect.
Told backwards - Day 15 to Day 1 - Nicolette works to unravel the truth, revealing shocking secrets about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne.
Like nothing you've ever read before, All the Missing Girls is a brilliantly plotted debut thriller that will leave you breathless.

Not an easy flowing read, an interesting concept to tell the story from the end backwards but so confusing which spoilt the whole pace and flow of the novel. I was constantly having to go back and re-read to make sense of it.

Let’s face it, it’s a hefty book 368 pages of a book larger than the usual paperback size so this was a great investment in time for the reader. There seemed to be little in the way of exciting big reveals and the characters were predictable as was the ending.

The title says All the missing girls of which there were just two- again a bit of a let down for any reader expecting others to go missing once the first two have been revealed.

So much potential in this novel but I felt it didn’t live up to expectations. I give this one a 3 stars - disappointing.

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

Monday, 17 June 2019

Twisted by Steve Cavanagh

TwistedTwisted by Steve Cavanagh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

1. The police are looking to charge me with murder.
2. No one knows who I am. Or how I did it.
3. If you think you've found me. I'm coming for you next.
After you've read this book, you'll know: the truth is far more twisted...

What a gifted writer Steve Cavanagh is he is brilliant at weaving intricate plots and pulling the reader in. Deeply twisted this novel will have you question everything and then some. Right from the very first chapter this addictive psychological thriller will have you galloping along unable to turn the pages quickly enough.

Just when you think you’ve worked it all out along comes another curve ball to knock your theory out of the park.

Good characters, believable storylines and enough tension and twisted inventiveness to keep you guessing until the end.

Brilliant, I think Steve Cavanagh has now joined my list of best psychological thriller writers. Recommended reading and for me a 5 star novel.

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

Friday, 14 June 2019

Never Tell by Lisa Gardner

Never Tell (Detective D.D. Warren #10)Never Tell by Lisa Gardner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One death might be an accident.
Two looks like murder.
A man is shot dead in his own home, and his pregnant wife, Evie, is found with the gun in her hands.
Detective D.D. Warren instantly recognises her. Sixteen years ago, Evie also shot her own father. That killing was ruled an accident.
D.D. doesn’t believe in coincidences. But this case isn’t as open and shut as it first appears, and her job is to discover the truth.
Evie might be a victim.
Or she might be about to get away with murder again.

This appears to be one of a series of books which I had not read before but it is a decent stand alone book.

A solid plot line with relatable characters who as expected are flawed and this predictably leads them into difficult scenarios.

Lots of police involvement but equally good explanations along the way as different lines of enquiry are pursued until the puzzle begins to fit together.

Tightly woven together sub plots that culminate in the final reveal, which wasn’t entirely unpredictable but nevertheless a satisfactory read but no real unexpected twists.

There are so many books in this psychological/thriller/criminal genre that it’s becoming more and more difficult to rate them. This is not a great book but still a decent read, I give this one a 3.5 (rounded up to 4* for Goodreads and Amazon) and would recommend.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

The Colorado Kid by Stephen King

The Colorado KidThe Colorado Kid by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

This is not a new Stephen King book but re released illustrated edition part of the Hard Case Crime series.

As with most King books the reader should not be expecting the norm but have to inhabit the tale go get the most out of it.

Not a book with a conclusion or happy neat ending but one that makes the reader think and if a book can do that then, for me, it’s done a good job.

When two teenagers find the body of a man on the beach it begins a mystery that remains unsolved for many years. Over a cup of coffee two veterans of the local newspaper The Weekly Islander (Dave Bowie 65 managing editor and Vincent Teague the 92 year old founder of the paper) tell Stephanie McCann (22 who is on an internship at the paper) about the unsolved case.

Eventually the identity of the dead man is revealed but the reasons that lead him to the island of Moose-Lookit remain a mystery.

I enjoyed the engaging prose and characterisation of all the ‘players’ and felt it sat nicely in the era. Brave of any writer to leave a book the same way it started, as a mystery, yet for all that it was a clever and intriguing tale.

Life does not neatly package up answers for everything and I think that this is the message here. Some things we will never know for sure but it doesn’t prevent us from trying. This is not a book for anyone looking for a solution to the tale which might frustrate some readers but for me maybe that was its resolution in that not everything in life is so tidy and neat. Some things simply can’t be explained.

Thought provoking and a good 4 star read. I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 10 June 2019

The House Across the Street by Lesley Pearse

The House Across the StreetThe House Across the Street by Lesley Pearse
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Is there a murderer across the street?
It's 1964 and twenty-three-year-old Katy Speed is fascinated by glamorous Gloria and the goings-on at her house over the road.
Who are the mysterious women that keep coming and going in the strange black car?
Then one night, Gloria's house burns to the ground. Bodies are found in the wreckage.
And Katy's horror turns to disbelief when her own father is arrested and charged with murder.
Determined to prove his innocence, Katy sets out to uncover the truth about the mysterious house across the street and find the real murderer. But that means risking her own life . . . 

Set in the 60s this book got off to a decent start but seemed to fall away once the plot was revealed. There were no real surprises and for me it felt very dated and lack lustre.

There was no real element of suspense and although it was set in the 60s and I expected it to reflect the era the dialogue seemed dated and bland.

Very predictable and simplistic with no great depth or passion - sorry a feeble 3 stars from me. Unfortunately my first book by this author so not one I intend to follow 😟

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

Watching YouWatching You by Lisa Jewell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You’re back home after four years working abroad, new husband in tow.

You’re keen to find a place of your own. But for now you’re crashing in your big brother’s spare room.

That’s when you meet the man next door.

He’s the head teacher at the local school. Twice your age. Extraordinarily attractive. You find yourself watching him.

All the time.

But you never dreamed that your innocent crush might become a deadly obsession.

Or that someone is watching you.

Well constructed and intricately plotted novel with a creepy voyeristic flavour that keeps you going until the end. Nosey neighbours, bored housewives, slightly biopila resident all come together in this clever story of tragedy, lust, paranoia and revenge.

It opens up (as so many of this genre do) with the body of a woman murdered in her kitchen with a very convenient clue to the possible murderer at the scene. It’s all too clean to be the real murderer and so the story begins to unfold and lead the reader on many red herrings to throw the reader off the scent.

I did guess who the murderer was but not the reasons behind until almost the end so Lisa Jewell did well to keep the secret almost to the end.

Enjoyable read, lively short chapters that kept the pace moving forward well. Just enough information on the characters to keep the story alive and believable. A recommended read - 4 stars

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

The Last House GuestThe Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

Never overstay your welcome...

Littleport, Maine is like two separate towns: a vacation paradise for wealthy holidaymakers and a simple harbour community for the residents who serve them. Friendships between locals and visitors are unheard of - but that's just what happened with Avery Greer and Sadie Loman.

Each summer for a decade the girls are inseparable - until Sadie is found dead. When the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can't help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie's brother Parker, who blame her. Someone knows more than they're saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name before she's branded a killer.

I really enjoyed Megan Miranda’s The Perfect Strange and so was eager to read this one but I’m afraid for me it just wasn’t a patch on ATMG.

It was told over two time lines which was fine but it was just so slow and uneventful for almost half the book that I found myself almost putting it down and not bothering. It was predictable and bland with no real surprises for the reader. Megan Miranda worked so hard to make the reader suspect one character that it was obviously someone else and not that hard to guess who.

I didn’t particularly like or connect with any of the characters so found myself not really caring in the end what happened to any of them.

Such a shame after ATMG novel but maybe my expectations were unrealistically high after reading this.

Really can only give this one a 3 star rating - sorry

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

Monday, 3 June 2019

Living My Best Li(f)e by Claire Frost

Living My Best Li(f)eLiving My Best Li(f)e by Claire Frost
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Bell never thought she’d be facing her 40th birthday single. Recently dumped by her boyfriend of ten years, Bell is struggling to move on with her life – and surrender the fleecy pyjamas she’s been living in since January. Sick of being bombarded by #blessed on social media and feeling like her life doesn’t live up to everyone else’s, she decides it’s time for a change; time to find out who she really is, not who she thinks she should be.

Enter Millie, a successful online influencer posting under the handle @mi_bestlife. But as a single mum trying to make ends meet and stay ahead of the younger generation snapping at her heels, her Instagram feed is far more #BestLiethan #BestLife. With the internet trolls continuing to bring her down and an ex who cares more about playing football than seeing their son, Millie begins to wish her life was more like her filters.

It isn’t until Millie and Bell’s paths cross that the two women begin to realise what they’re missing. Will Bell finally learn to live life for herself? And will Millie see that she needs to start living for the momentand not for the likes?

Didn’t like this one at all. Schmaltzy life about friendships, community and finding yourself. Really cliched and rather boring - 185 pages in and nothing is really happening. The characters are at best trying and at worst pathetic and a 4 year old child called Wolf with the verbal and mental capabilities of a grown up didn’t ring true either.

It was drawn out with no pace or intrigue and was all so predictable that even skim reading I missed nothing and the ending was just as lack lustre as the rest of the book.

A reader has to invest time to read a novel and when there are great novels out there reading something so trite is not a good investment on the readers commitment or on their pocket.

Sorry I hate giving bad reviews and usually find something to like but this one just (for me) had no redeeming factors. A rather sad 2 stars from me.

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