Friday, 23 August 2019

I Spy by Claire Kendal

I SpyI Spy by Claire Kendal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 400

Publisher - Harper Collins

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Someone is watching your every move…

Holly Lawrence always wanted to be a spy, but the experience proved more dangerous than anything she imagined. Now, Holly lives in hiding under an assumed name. She avoids relationships and trusts no one.

But Holly’s new life begins to unravel when she encounters a young mother and her two-year-old child… a child who reminds her of a past she has tried hard to forget. This time, someone is spying on her, and Holly will need to decide how far she is willing to go to survive.

A psychological thriller unlike anything you’ve read before...

My Review

Holly Lawrence has always liked watching people, finding things out so it stands to reason she would go and interview to become a spy. When her interview bombs she goes back to normal life. The story splits into two timelines, the before and the now, present day. The before we find Holly in a controlling relationship that chills the further you get into it. Present day she has had to remove herself from her old life, people she loved, to stay safe. You can never outrun your past and Holly finds herself being tested and putting her own safety in danger to save another.

It took me a wee bit to settle into the book, the timeline jumps, the different characters and getting to grips with who Holly is. She is a bit of an up/down character. She shows some signs of strength and bravery yet others you get so frustrated at some of her choices.

There is such a mix in this book, the spy thing turns up again so you get a feel of that running through a book that is heavily focused on a coercive and abusive relationship. This thing with this is the abuser doesn't use violence but how he maintains control has your gorge rising because it is masked as caring you can see just how effective this is.

I have read this author before and will read her again, she creates environments for her characters that makes for uncomfortable but utterly compelling reading, 3.5/5 for me this time!

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Thursday, 22 August 2019

The Deaths and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley by Ian Thornton blog tour

Today in my stop in the blog tour for The Deaths and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley by Ian Thornton.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Ian Thornton




Ian Thornton’s debut novel, The Great and Calamitous Tale of Johan Thoms (How One Man Scorched the Twentieth Century, but Didn’t Mean to) was published by Simon & Schuster Canada in September 2013. Harper Collins published worldwide on June 28th 2014 to coincide with the centenary of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the pivot of the novel. It was translated across Europe and taught at the Sorbonne.

Prior to becoming a novelist, Ian worked for Broadcast magazine in London and also for Variety. He is a co-founder of the global television industry publisher, C21 Media and www.c21media.net.

He covered the Royal wedding in London for CTV, Canada's premier independent broadcaster, and has recently written for Wisden Cricketer, The Guardian, The Hindu and for the Soho House magazine, House. He also wrote on the football World Cup in South Africa for the Canadian sports channel, The Score, and has worked for Queen’s University in Ontario, where his project was presented at the White House as part of President Obama's new media initiative.

Ian is the official biographer of the Compton cricket club in California and has been a judge on the largest Latin American film festival, Expresion en Corto. He is currently producing a feature documentary.

Originally from Leeds, Ian currently resides in Toronto with his wife Heather Gordon and their children, Laszlo and Clementine.

About the book (how fab is that cover!)




Aleister Crowley, also known as the Great Beast, is one of the most reviled men in history. Satanist, cult leader, debauched novelist and poet, his legacy has been harshly contested for decades.

Crowley supposedly died in 1947, but in Ian Thornton's new novel, set in the present day, the Great Beast is alive and well and living in Shangri-la. Now over 130 years old, thanks to the magical air of his mystical location, he looks back on his life and decides it is time to set the record straight.

For Crowley was not the evil man he is often portrayed as. This was just a cover to hide his real mission, to save the twentieth century from destroying itself and to set humanity on the road to freedom and liberty.

The Death and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley is an epic novel that will make you see this notorious figure in a completely new light, as he encounters an impressive cast of real-life characters including Timothy Leary, The Beatles, Princess Margaret, Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock.

For my stop I have my review, enjoy.

The Deaths and Afterlife of Aleister CrowleyThe Deaths and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley by Ian Thornton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 4 days

Pages - 400

Publisher - Unbound

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Aleister Crowley, also known as the Great Beast, is one of the most reviled men in history. Satanist, cult leader, debauched novelist and poet, his legacy has been harshly contested for decades.

Crowley supposedly died in 1947, but in Ian Thornton's new novel, set in the present day, the Great Beast is alive and well and living in Shangri-la. Now over 130 years old, thanks to the magical air of his mystical location, he looks back on his life and decides it is time to set the record straight.

For Crowley was not the evil man he is often portrayed as. This was just a cover to hide his real mission, to save the twentieth century from destroying itself and to set humanity on the road to freedom and liberty.

The Death and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley is an epic novel that will make you see this notorious figure in a completely new light, as he encounters an impressive cast of real-life characters including Timothy Leary, The Beatles, Princess Margaret, Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock.


My Review

I had never heard of Aleister Crowley before reading this book, a man refered to as "Beast" by his own mother and reveled in being called "Great Beast" as his notoriety grew. He denounced his religious background and started up his own "religion" encouraging people to do what they want basically. He was interested in the occult, satanism and widely documented his insatiable appetite for enjoying all the pleasures and perversions the human body can offer.

So, it was more than an eye opener when I started reading this, told from Aleister as being the narrator he tells the reader, warts and all, his life and journeys. Exposure to sexual acts as a young child by adults in his care, bestiality in rituals, drugs, alcohol pretty much anything and everything. I had to keep putting the book down to goggle him and see if this stuff was true, it was. He made a name for himself, his exploits, he was featured on the band "The Beatles" album cover. There is no denying he lead an eyebrow raising life to put it politely. Some of the exploits I felt I needed to wash my eyes and brain in holy water after reading!

Whilst the book doesn't go into masses of details for the debauchery there is plenty for you to know exactly what he is talking about. Some of his poems, featured, include bodily fluids, this is not a book for the faint hearted or easily offended. That said it makes for interesting reading, the guy was rumoured to be a spy. What Thornton has done is taken well known historical events and woven them into Crowley claiming to have influenced, averted or been present when X event happened.

My history knowledge is terrible so I would put the book down to read up on X assassination or X war to get the documented events on what happened then read on to how Thornton placed Crowley in among it. It is an interesting, colourful (blue) and shocking read, sexual exploits that will shock you (unless you already know his history). I would love to have a Q&A with the author as I can't even imagine just how much went into the research for the book before then crafting a well known figure and creating a history or actual events and slotting him into them. Why that character, was it a challenge and the creative process for pulling all of that together. I can honestly say I have never read a book like it, if you know of Crowley I would love to hear your thoughts on the book and if like me this is your first introduction to him what did you think?



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Monday, 19 August 2019

Fake Like Me by Barbara Bourland

Fake Like MeFake Like Me by Barbara Bourland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 368

Publisher - Riverrun

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

At once a twisted psychological portrait of a woman crumbling under unimaginable pressure and a razor-sharp satire of the contemporary art scene, FAKE LIKE ME is a dark, glamorous, and addictive story of good intentions gone awry, from the critically acclaimed author of I'll Eat When I'm Dead.

What really happened to Carey Logan?

After a fire decimates her studio, including the seven billboard-size paintings for her next show, a young, no-name painter is left with an impossible task: recreate her art in three months-or ruin her fledgling career.

Homeless and desperate, she flees to an exclusive retreat in upstate New York famous for its outrageous revelries and glamorous artists. And notorious as the place where brilliant young artist Carey Logan-one of her idols-drowned in the lake.

But when she arrives, the retreat is a ghost of its former self. No one shares their work. No parties light up the deck. No one speaks of Carey, though her death haunts the cabins and the black lake, lurking beneath the surface like a shipwreck. As the young painter works obsessively in Carey's former studio, uncovers strange secrets and starts to fall--hard and fast--for Carey's mysterious boyfriend, it's as if she's taking her place.

But one thought shadows her every move: What really happened to Carey Logan?


My Review

Our main character and story teller has no name, like she is nameless through the whole story. She is an artist and about to hit the big time when an untimely fire wipes out the artwork she needs to hand in in a few months. Her idol Carey Logan inspired her since she seen her years back. Carey is now dead by suicide and chance happens she gets to go to the retreat Carey and fellow artists create some of their master pieces in. Finding herself in Carey's actual creative space our main character attempts to pull off the recreation of her works whilst trying to find out about Carey and what really happened.

So art isn't my thing but I did find it quite interesting reading the various methods our main character uses to create her master pieces. There is a lot of coverage on the creative artistic side to the book and I think for arty folk this will be interested but as a non arty person I did enjoy learning about something so different. The book is a slow burner in that respect, it is all about the artist, her struggles, work, ideas. Trying to infiltrate the group of artists at the retreat who aren't happy about her arrival. We also see her old "friend" I use that term loosely as the more you read the more shallow she seems and their friendship hallow.

Art, sex, friendship, creativity, betrayal and secrets and just some of the themes in the book although the massive focus was on the artist side. It was different, interesting and managed to surprise me once or twice along the way. Not a book I would normally pick up but I did find it interesting and would read this author again, 3.5/5 for me.

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Saturday, 17 August 2019

The Dead On Leave by Chris Nickson

The Dead on Leave: A 1930s British whodunitThe Dead on Leave: A 1930s British whodunit by Chris Nickson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages -

Publisher - Endeavour Quill

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Leeds, Autumn 1936.

During a British Union of Fascists rally, a body is found.

War veteran Detective Sergeant Urban Raven is tasked with finding the killer.

But with virtually no clues, no witnesses and no obvious motive, he has few leads to start the investigation.

Leeds has become a shadow of its former self. Once a bright, vibrant and progressive metropolis, it has all but ground to a halt since the Crash of ’29, the Depression and the ensuing descent into unemployment and poverty.

And there are political stirrings as the BUF vie with the Communist Party for public support.

Was the murder an act of vengeance?

Was the victim killed for his political beliefs?

Or was the killing part of a more sinister plan, a grisly smear campaign? And if so, which side, if either, is responsible?

Raven and his colleagues find themselves constantly hindered by red tape, politics and the press. But sometimes, if you want a result, you just have to do it your way…

This puzzler of a crime story comprises convincing characters, a clever plot and a window into the dark days of 1930s northern England, where so many had lost hope…

…the dead. On leave.



My Review

It is Leeds, 1936, money is tight, poverty is rife and the Nazi's are spreading their hate. The BUF (British Union of Fascists) numbers are rising, political unrest is evident and there is a rally for the visiting Oswald Mosley. Detective Sergeant Urban Raven and some extra police are expect to deal with the numbers and fall out. They knew there would be trouble but no one was expecting murder! When a body is found Raven and the team have to investigate and go on what little is available to the police for that time period.

I don't often read books that feature any kind of politics, it isn't really my thing if I am honest. However I did get into this book pretty quickly, I had to google some of the stuff because yes it is a fiction book but it does mention things that happened or where true for that time period and I do love a book where you learn some history. I had never heard of BUF nor of Oswald Mosley, that was an eye opener and strange I hadn't heard his name, I defo need to read up on history!

Urban is a good guy, scarred from his first time around in the war he can use it to his advantage when policing but faces stares/judgement when not in uniform. As well as the murder and relying on police work the old way (before masses of technology) we see his struggles in his personal life. I think a good author makes this work as it doesn't detract from the main bulk of the story (murder/investigation) but allows the reader to get a feel for the human aspect behind the cop.

Whilst it isn't a blood/guts and gore type book the murder happens quickly and the rest is the investigation centered around it. The writing keeps you engaged and interesting in where the story is going next.

Not sure if this is a series but I would absolutely like to read more on Urban and the characters featured in this book. Whilst this was my first dance with this author it won't be my last, I like the shape of the characters, the pace and how he tackled an investigation as it would have been back in the 30's when cars weren't as common as clothing. 4/5 for me this time and I look forward to more adventures with Urban!


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Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Edinburgh Book Festival yesterday

As you may remember I went to my first ever book festival, Edinburgh Book Festival, last year. It was great and so many lovely people. This year my two friends came, they didn't book any shows they just wanted to check it out (mostly the gin bar!). We headed in on the train, the weather was variable to say the least.




I was blessed and lucky enough to get a press pass again this year.




I remember last year the press yurt has wee ducks outside and was happy to see them appear again this year, kind of wish I had taken my own wee rubber duck and got a piccy, I have another day booked there so maybe take her then.





First up was Sandy, Sir Alexander McCall Smith. I have yet to read his books but seen him last year and after listening to him I bought one of his books and have another on the TBRM. He is hillarious, he just chuckles away, his stories are fantastic. He did a small reading from his book and said he doesn't like doing long readings. He joked about going to see an author before who read for 45 minutes from their book, folk were pretending to faint and even when ambulances came they still continued. He is just so funny, a breath of fresh air and I could listen to him all day. Any opportunity I get to hear him speak I will go to and advise everyone to go, you will come away smiling! We were treated to a violin musician too, beautiful and a poetry reading.





Up next was Sharon Blackie, this isn't an author I have read before and she does both fiction and non fiction. This is a book of fairytales retold bu Sharon and one of her own creation. She read the story and discussed how fairy tales have interested her since she was younger. Sorry I haven't edited the photos, I am shattered, back to work tomorrow and edited ones are on our Instagram.





It is so nice to look around and see folk sitting reading books everywhere and just chatting and taking the scene in.





Four shows in one day is quite a lot so after a wee gab with the ladies me and Kelly grabbed a minute to get some ice cream, I don't do mint but I do like a mint choc chip ice cream every blue moon. The wee stall just across from the book store is really nice and they have a list of what is in each one, allergies headsup which is great as not all wee stalls have them.




Up next was "The Story of the Iolaire Tragedy" discussing the book The Darkest Dawn. The tragedy itself that happened 100 years ago, words read from people actually involved and two songs performed that had been written after the disaster. Prior to the festival I had never heard of this but reading about it in the brochure I wanted to hear more. It was very emotive and during the whole talk photos of the men came up in the big screen in the background. I was moved and not in anyway related or aware of it before that day so can only image how those in the audience felt who were actually connected/related to those involved.




Last was Val McDermid, I had seen Val at last years event. She is a great speak *I did have to write down a word or two she used to see what it meant), her stories are fantastic. Val has written over 30 books and has a tv show from one of her creations coming up later this year. She is going to spend time in New Zealand teaching and continues to write stories that have captivated her audiences.





I am loving the purple around the festival, as you know it is my favourite colour.





Edinburgh is such a beautiful city, I love seeing it all lit up at night.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

The Girl at the Window by Rowan Coleman Blog Tour




About the author




Rowan Coleman lives with her husband and their five children in a very full house in Hertfordshire. She juggles writing novels with raising her family. Rowan’s last novel, The Summer of Impossible Things, was selected for Zoe Ball’s ITV Book Club. Rowan has an everlasting love for the Brontes, and is a regular visitor of Ponden Hall. You can find rowan at www.rowancoleman.co.uk and on Twitter @rowancoleman

About the book




The Girl at the Window is a beautiful and captivating novel set at Ponden Hall, a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors and famously used as a setting for Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Known as the place where Cathy’s ghost taps on the window, Emily Bronte used to visit often with her sisters and use the extensive library there. It’s a magical place full of stories. In The Girl at the Window, Ponden Hall is where Trudy Heaton grew up, but also where she ran away from…

Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, Trudy returns home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead. While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present...

The Girl at the Window is hauntingly beautiful, and centred on an epic love story with a twist that draws you in fast. The strong themes of grief, absent fathers and maternal instincts are consistent emotional pulls throughout. Trudy and Abe are the ultimate love story, but there is also a wonderfully atmospheric ghostly mystery to be solved as well.


The book is available to buy now, from AMAZON, ebook and treebook format.


Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Girl at the Window by Rowan Coleman, I have my review for my stop, enjoy.


The Girl at the WindowThe Girl at the Window by Rowan Coleman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - as able over 5 days

Pages - 464

Publisher - Ebury Press

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

A house full of history is bound to have secrets...

'Spine-tinglingly beautiful. Prepare to lose your heart' Lisa Jewell

Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It's also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from...

Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead.

While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present...

A hauntingly beautiful story of love and hope, from the Sunday Times


My Review

Trudy heads back to Ponden hall with her son Will, to mend their broken heart after her husbands plane goes missing, presumed dead. Ponden Hall has always been special to Trudy, her beloved Bronte sisters, spent time there, there house has so much history and maybe even a ghost or two. Her relationship with her mother is strained, she is facing things she ran from and her obsession with the past, the Bronte sisters, particularly Emily and her love of literature will keep her busy. Ponden hall has so much history, character, stories, ghosts, love and secrets, now that Trudy is home again the house may be ready to give some of those secrets up.

Guys, don't shoot me when I say this but I have never been hugely bothered by the Bronte sisters, writing or their history. In actual fact, I would say it is more I have been ignorant of a lot of it, I may have one of the Bronte books on my huge to be read shelves but I don't think I have read them and knew nothing of their history. Trudy LOVES them, particularly Emily, the inspiration for her book where Trudy grew up. Coleman is a huge lover of them and you can see this in her creation of Trudy and this book. As a reader with almost zero interest in the Brontes I feel between Coleman and Trudy I may have caught a wee bit of the bug. I found myself putting the book down to google them, the house, what works had been published and her siblings. I actually need to bump Wuthering Heights up my tbrm after reading this.

The Girl at the Window has more than a few layers to it, we have present day with Trudy and her son heading back home and Trudy having to face her mother after so many years apart. Trudy and Abe (her hubby) back when they first met and Agnes - a young lady who is linked to the home and a sad and dark history. The timelines and shifts are well written and flow, teasing out secrets and written accounts that will bring them all together, past and present with secrets and scandal. There is also a spooky, ghostly vibe throughout, nothing horror or anything like that but woven in so well it brings the home to life and the hairs on the readers neck up a wee bit. An atmospheric read that covers love, relationships, deceit, secrets, lies set mostly in or around a historical house that I am now dying to go visit! 4/5 for me this time, I have a fair few Coleman books on the tbrm, I need to bump them up for sure!

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Sunday, 11 August 2019

Happy August




I know, it is the 11th of August already but between work and we had been away, only got home late the other night, this was the back garden of where we stayed. We were away for a week so as well as my loaded kindle these are some of the books I took, you never know what you want to read.





We went out trekking (see more piccys on my Instagram) and to visit some animals, we saw baby meerkcats, two of them!








The weather was up and down, typical Scotland. We had thunder and lightning so I had my blanket and curled up watching it and reading.








But when the sun came out it was as hot as 20 degrees.





And the owners of the place had 3 cats and two dogs (a westie and a great dane). All super friendly and for an animal lover like me that was just a huge highlight of our visit.





This is Bubba and Bruce, was hard to tell them apart if only one visited but together you noticed differences!


One even posed with my then current read.





So we are home and back to reality. Sorting uniforms and getting ready for going back to work tomorrow, the weather is pretty miserable. Anyway, as you know we like to support small businesses and I have bought from these guys quite a lot. So for the August giveaway, UK only sorry, the winner will get X1 candle from Night Light Candle.




These guys have great customer service, their candles are soy wax, they can do personalised but they also have ones from series. Check them out. This is one I got done, personalised for my blog (and this is my current read!)




To be in with a chance of winning just use the Rafflecopter below, UK ONLY sorry guys, the comp will run until the end of the month.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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