Wednesday, 19 September 2018

The Girls From The Local by Rosie Archer

The Girls from the LocalThe Girls from the Local by Rosie Archer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 480

Publisher - Quercus

Source - Amazon

Blurb from Goodreads

Gosport, 1943, and even in the middle of war the local pub provides a warm welcome, thanks to its trio of barmaids. A heartwarming saga for fans of Sheila Newberry and Daisy Styles.

Ruby has been living and working at the Point of No Return pub since her parents were killed by a bomb. She loves the bustle of the pub; it helps take her mind off worrying about her fiance, Joe, away fighting in France.

The only thing Ruby doesn't like about the Point is Sylvie. This singing siren may have a beautiful voice, but she's out for all she can get, including Joe.

Finally, there's Marge, a true party girl. She's a great friend to Ruby and makes sure they have fun, going out to dances and flirting with all and sundry, but she's not as fond of her other role as a mother to two young children.

The three of them face many obstacles to fulfilling their dreams, but the bonds of friendship and camaraderie that hold the Point together will keep them going through the darkest of times.

My Review

Ruby is a sweet girl, devoted to her man Joe soon to be husband who is away fighting in the war. Working in the bar along with her best friend Marge, mum and provider for her family as her husband is less than useless and finally Sylvia. Sylvia is beautiful, ambitious and always had her eye on Joe, she has no scruples and will stop at nothing to get her prize, Joe! Trying to make a living, stay out of the bath of dropping bombs and just get through the day to day we follow the three ladies and their stories.

I like Ruby, she is such a sweet girl and finds herself in the predicament so many did in those times and tries to keep her mind and spirits up. Marge is a poor soul, lively, working to the bone trying to find a snatch of enjoyment whilst her husband has all but abandoned her to look after the kids and her gran. Sylvia I despised, she is a horror, her beauty is skin deep only she is a nasty individual who is so self involved no one and nothing gets between her and what she needs. We get a bit of an insight into what made her so and I felt for her but as an adult she makes choices and her behaviour is deplorable.

It is a story about lives during the war, the struggles, survival, rationing, friendship, love, loss, grief, anger, death, loyalty and then some. Archer covers a host of topics and emotions in her books, creating characters that whether you love or hate you just want to keep reading. Some of the actions of the characters enraged me or irritated me and you just wanted to shake them or shout nooooooooooo, engaging! This isn't my first by this author and it won't be my last 3.5/5 for me this time.

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Tuesday, 18 September 2018

The Bone Keeper by Luca Veste

The Bone KeeperThe Bone Keeper by Luca Veste
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 400

Publisher - Simon & Schuster

Source - Amazon

Blurb from Goodreads

What if the figure that haunted your nightmares as child, the myth of the man in the woods, was real?

He'll slice your flesh.
Your bones he'll keep.

Twenty years ago, four teenagers went exploring in the local woods, trying to find to the supposed home of The Bone Keeper. Only three returned.

Now, a woman is found wandering the streets of Liverpool, horrifically injured, claiming to have fled the Bone Keeper. Investigating officer DC Louise Henderson must convince sceptical colleagues that this urban myth might be flesh and blood. But when a body is unearthed in the woodland the woman has fled from, the case takes on a much darker tone.

The disappeared have been found. And their killer is watching every move the police make.

The brilliant new police procedural from Luca Veste, featuring series characters Murphy and Rossi - a guaranteed page-turner.

My Review

We open with some young kids spooking each other, taunting over the legend that is The Bone Keeper. A chilling rhyme the kids sing about a boogey man who skins your flesh and keeps your bones. At the beginning of the book her brother goes missing and we come to present day. Louise Henderson is a cop called out to a case. When the woman tells them she was attacked by the Bone Keeper Louse and her partner react differently. Louise very much believes the legends could be real and is trying to keep on top of her anxiety. As the case progresses they have to consider could the legend of the bogey man actually be real after all?

So this is one of those reads that if you had tales of a local bogey man growing up then this will grab you quickly. Police procedural with an attack on a female being investigated, the victim is claiming it was the bogey man so initially they don't think much of it. As they investigate things get a little big spooky and eerie. There are a few parts to the book, Before and Now, Now is present Day, Before goes back to the kids messing around and one going missing. The Bone Keeper Legend and then Louise being the main character and her personal issues whilst trying to keep on top of an active investigation.

The chapters are short which I love, it took me a wee bit to get into and I wasn't always sure where the story was heading. By the end things you read earlier start to click but for a wee bit I wasn't too sure. Veste tackles a few things in the book and brings together police procedure with horror and chilling moments. Good for a night with the lights off and a wee candle, I also think this would work really well as a movie, 3.5/5 for me this time.

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Sunday, 16 September 2018

Overkill by Vanda Symon Blog Tour

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Overkill by Vanda Symon. Today I have an excerpt, have a wee read and let me know what you think. Have you read it? Please check out the other stops on the tour (see below) as we all host different content.

I never used to be about book covers but either they have really upped their game in the last few years or I am just starting to pay more attention, how good is this cover!

And you lucky lucky people, here is a wee excerpt from the book:

Once again, I pulled up outside the Knowes’ house, and once again I parked on the grass verge, taking care not to end up in the ditch. I paused at the gate to take in the deceptively tranquil scene before me. Only the presence of several other vehicles in the driveway, including a rather impressive new Range Rover, signalled that all was not as normal. That vehicle had to belong to Gaby’s mother – I’d heard Gaby’s family were well-to-do. Her parents had moved to Queenstown from Auckland to be closer to her when she married Lockie. Her father was a company executive and flew back up north each week when needed. Nice for some.

Gravel crunched underfoot as I walked back up the driveway. This time, no one came out to meet me. I stepped up onto the veranda and rang the doorbell. It was only a moment before I could make out a distorted shape through the stained-glass panelled door. It was Colin Avery.
‘Sam,’ Cole said, swinging the door open wide to let me in.

I bent over to take off my boots. ‘How’s things this morning?’

‘Much as can be expected.’

‘That bad, huh?’


‘Thanks for staying with them. Lockie needed a mate around. What time did Gaby’s mum get here?’
‘Only quarter of an hour after you left.’ He paused for a moment and waited until I was next to him. ‘It was a very late night for us all.’

‘What’s her name, by the way?’ I asked.

‘Leonore. Leonore Watson.’

At the entrance to the lounge I stopped, aghast. I wouldn’t have recognised it as the same room. Where last night there had been pandemonium, this morning there was pristine order. There was a small pile of Angel’s puzzle pieces, but otherwise the room – the whole house – was lemon-scented spotless. Someone had been very industrious. They still were, judging by the muffled sound of a distant vacuum cleaner.
‘Wow, who’s been busy?’ I asked Cole, who’d followed me into the room.
‘Leonore. She’s been on the go, non-stop, since she got up.’

‘I’m glad I took all those photos last night,’ I said as I took in a scene more House & Garden than family home. I had in fact toyed with the idea of leaving it until the morning. That would have been a major faux pas. Any trace of evidence looked like it would have been well and truly sanitised. I made a mental note to self for future reference: by the book, Sunshine, absolutely by the book. The higher echelons in the district office were applying constant pressure to justify my existence here. Resources in the force were limited, and stretching the budget by reducing the number of small stations was an obvious cost cutter. Pencilling in more hours on traffic duty was another. I cringed. It wouldn’t do to make it easy for them by making basic errors.

I could understand where Leonore Watson was coming from; I had witnessed exactly the same reaction in my mother in times of high stress or tragedy. Busy, busy, busy. Clean, clean, clean. Do anything other than accept the unfathomable had happened. Some people just operated that way. My personal method for dealing with stress involved dressing gowns, slippers, sofas and chocolate.

Involuntarily, I thought of my mother’s response if I died. Despite her well-constructed fa├žade, her grief would be a yawning chasm, inexhaustible. Mrs Watson would be no different. I could only imagine what that family were experiencing – I’d been fortunate, untouched by the death of anyone really close.

I walked through the living room to the kitchen, where Lockie stared off into space while he fed something mushy into Angel. The poor girl had her mouth agape as she tried to track and apprehend the spoon. Lockie had a bristle of growth on his chin that only emphasised the look of desolation.
‘Lockie?’ He looked up, startled by the intrusion on his thoughts. Once again, I was rocked by how hollowed out his eyes looked. The terror from last night had been replaced by a haunted numbness. He gave a brief jolt of recognition and then a brave smile at my greeting.

‘Sam, back again so soon?’

‘Afraid so. Had to see how you all were.’

‘Bloody awful. Angel’s the only one who slept. My wife’s dead, it’s all a bloody mess and it’s nothing I can fix.’ He raised his hand to his mouth; large tears rolled down his cheeks. His brutal honesty did nothing to ease my discomfort. I turned my eyes away towards Angel.
‘God, Lockie, I’m sorry,’ I said, and realised instantly how useless those words really were. ‘I know this is not a good time, but I do have to ask you some more questions, and we need to do it while everything is fresh. I’m going to go and have another look around outside now it’s daylight. I’ll be fifteen minutes or so, then I’ll come back and we’ll go over things. You can do that?’

He drew my eyes with a look of resignation and weariness. ‘Yeah, of course. Angel’s almost finished.’ He sighed and managed

to get another spoonful into her mouth. ‘Everything seems to take so long. She wants her mother, not me. She won’t let me do hardly anything for her, not even brush her hair.’
I looked at her beautiful tousled curls. ‘She’ll be wondering where Mummy is, why she’s not here. It’s huge for you all.’ Everything I said felt so inadequate. ‘Look, I’ll go and do what I have to do outside, then I’ll be back soon to talk.’
‘Do you want Gaby’s mum there as well?’

‘Please. We’ll try and get through everything in one go, then we’ll be able to leave you…’ I didn’t finish the sentence; I didn’t know what to say. Leave you in peace, alone, leave you to grieve, leave you to wonder, blame, tear yourself apart? I left him with the best I could offer: a shrug and a gentle hand on his shoulder.

If you like the sound of the book you can buy your own copy of Overkill by Vanda Symon, from Amazon (also available in bookstores) by clicking here.  Available in both kindle and paperback format.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Ragdoll by Daniel Cole

Ragdoll (Fawkes and Baxter, #1)Ragdoll by Daniel Cole
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 384

Publisher - Trapeze

Source - Amazon

Blurb from Amazon


A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together, nicknamed by the press as the 'Ragdoll'. Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William 'Wolf' Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter. The 'Ragdoll Killer' taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.

With six people to save, can Fawkes & Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?

My Review

A gruesome discovery, a dead body (Ragdoll) made up from other bodies, who are the victims and why is the body posed in such a way? Detective Wolf Fawkes recently reinstated after a very public meltdown, breaking the law and subsequent consequences that followed. His ex partner Emily Baxter and her new side kick Edmunds are on the case, Edmunds has plenty smarts but is he cut out for homicide (recently transferred from a different apartment).

So, it is an ambitious book to be honest. There is no denying there is a lot of action and a few moments your are like Oh My God, no way! You need to suspend reality (yeah yeah it is fiction but even in fiction some things you are like REALLY?) to swallow some of the happenings, behaviours and antics of the places and people mentioned.

The killer is smart, always steps ahead of the police and the investigators whilst good at their job are pretty dysfunctional. Add into the mix a cop recovering from a pretty bad mental break, his ex wife has a job that makes the cops groan, Edmunds is smart but yet to prove himself. The killings are brutal, there are some gross out moments, quips and one liners that evoke a chuckle along the way. It keeps you interested and I would read this author again, I didn't love it but I didn't hate it, I found myself frustrated with a few of the things I read. Otherwise I think a good start to a series and likely to pick the next one up to see what is in store for the team!

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Thursday, 13 September 2018

Open My Eyes by Alice Allan

Open My Eyes, That I May See Marvellous ThingsOpen My Eyes, That I May See Marvellous Things by Alice Allan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 240

Publisher - Pinter & Martin

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: when adopted midwife Mariam embarks on a project to protect an abandoned premature baby, she is forced to face her own abandonment years before. Time is running out before the baby is sent to the orphanage. Mysterious characters from the city surrounding the hospital will be crucial in determining the baby's fate, as will a workaholic British doctor with whom Mariam finds herself falling in love... Alice Allan's debut novel is an original, vivid and moving story about attachment and loss.

My Review

We are in Ethiopia when we meet Mariam, midwife and very good at her job although outspoken which doesn't always go well with her colleagues. When a baby is abandoned it shouldn't be any different from all the others but this one is. Mariam cannot help but be drawn to the baby and reflect, question and acknowledge her own past.

The book chapters splits between Mariam, A Person, the baby and John a doctor in the hospital, married to the job. As we move between the characters we get a feel for the city, hospital, life for some in Ethiopia and how we cannot out run our past. I do like a book that has health related issues or a medical setting in them and being set in Ethiopia was an added bonus point for me as it is always interesting (for me) to see how things are done in other settings.

It isn't medical heavy so if that isn't your thing don't worry about it, I just mention is as I enjoyed those parts. There is a lot of personal issues going on with the characters and we find them, particularly Mariam, going on a bit of an emotion rollercoaster. Work dynamics, relationships and adoption also feature in the story, it has a lot going on but written well.

I also need to mention the actual physical book I have. I am not sure if they are all like this but it has such a lovely feel and the pages are very different from any of the other books I have read. The material is so nice I would love all my books to be made of that but then would maybe be even harder to give them away! I think this is a really well tackled and written debut novel and I am so glad I was sent it as I may well have bypassed it in the book shop. This is my first by Allan but it won't be my last, I look forward to her next offering, 3.5/5 for me this time.

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Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach by Ramsey Campbell Blog Tour

Today is my turn on the blog tour for Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach by Ramsey Campbell, please check out the other stops as we all offer different content.

How nice is the cover, I don't often notice covers but it was one of the first things that drew me to this book.

Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach (Fiction Without Frontiers)Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach by Ramsey Campbell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 288

Publisher - Flame Tree Press

Source - ARC

Blurb from Goodreads

It’s Ray’s and Sandra’s first family holiday in Greece, on the newly developed island of Vasilema. The family weren’t to know that the skies are cloudier above the island than anywhere else in Greece, and they’re mostly intrigued by the local eccentricities and customs—the lack of mirrors, the outsize beach umbrellas, the saint’s day celebrated with an odd nocturnal ritual. Only why are there islanders who seem to follow the family wherever they go? Why do Sandra and the teenage grandchildren have strangely similar dreams? “I was in this huge place with no light and I didn’t want to see. Something sounded... huge.” And has Sandra been granted a wish she didn’t even know she made? Before their holiday is over, some of the family may learn more than they can bear about the secret that keeps the island alive...

My Review

Ray and Sandra are heading to Greece for a family holiday, their children and grand children are joining them. It is their first visit and the place is a wee bit strange, thinking it is just their customs and ways they will get used to it. Things however get stranger, affecting members of the family more than others, the locals react bizarrely at times and Ray needs answers the more he gets drawn in.

Ok so this is my first dance with this author, anyone who has Stephen King's backing - you just know is going to be good. From the get go we pretty much know something is afoot but you aren't exactly sure what. The tingling at the base of your spine, the urge to put the light on a bit brighter as you go further into the story. This isn't an in your face horror, it is more a slow burning gothic type style with suspense and bone chilling tension building up. Subtle hints, creepiness, warning signs that as a reader I was urging the characters to pick up on.

There is a huge focus on family dynamics and the family relationship as a whole, I really hated the son in law, how he spoke to staff, locals and his family. Pompous I think is the word that comes to mind and he really irritated me but it makes for good characterisation. We see how the family interact and are with each other and to the locals. What they want to do with the holiday and what is important to them, the choices they make and how the locals engage with them.

The book has many dimensions, relationships, love, family, local history and a bit of legends. If you are looking for an in your face, monsters and jumping scare fest this isn't the book for you. However, if you want something that is like the old black and white movies, slow building tension, hints at what is looming, dark, atmospheric and engaging then this is your book. Nothing screams out at you, it is all so subtle for the most part which sometimes gives the reader the power to build the fear and terror themselves. I actually nearly missed my bus stop because I was enthralled within a specific scene again nothing was in your face but I was holding my breath at what I suspected was just around the corner.

All to often we get blood, guts and gore but sometimes we like to revisit the golden oldies were you don't see the monster but you know it is there, something is there. Jaws and Blairwitch had you the audience doing the work but gave you the tools to build the terror (Jaws to a point), this was what Campbell done here I think. I read a lot of books, horror, supernatural, spooky, monsters and all the other genres, this was something different for me. Creeped me out at parts, some of the family scenes enraged me again purely because one character grated on me so much. But overall I loved the feel of the book and what I feel the author did, I also enjoyed the story within the story. I would love Campbell to visit that again and make it a book in its own right. 3.5/5 for me this time, although it is my first dance with this author I know it won't be my last, I look forward to checking out more of his work.

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Saturday, 8 September 2018

The Outsider by Stephen King

The OutsiderThe Outsider by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 561

Publisher - Scribner

Source - WHSmith (special purple edition)

Blurb from Goodreads

An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.

My Review

Oh you guys I love Stephen King and it has been longer than I would have liked since I read him. Here we see ourselves visiting a small town, a small child's body is found, murdered, brutalised, violated, ruined. The little league coach is ID'd by locals and evidence is irrifutable that Terry Maitland is the killer. Friend, teacher, kids coach, everyone knows Terry, they know what he looks like, they haven't got it wrong but Terry maintains his innocence and can prove he wasn't there. Can one person be in two places at one time and if so, who is the other Terry?

Oooft this kicks off quickly, the find of the child is horrific and the details aren't spared for what he endured so this is your FYI. The rage is high and Terry is arrested in a very public manner, sure the cops have eye witnesses and evidence so they KNOW he did it. As the investigation unfolds and Terry maintains his innocence people are torn and split between what they saw, what they know and the man they have known and loved, trusted with their kids for so long.

This is a great tale, it has the spooky elements we have known and loved from King, also a character from a previous book(s) turns up which I hadn't read so I am hoping I haven't spoilered it for myself. Crime, investigation, public trial and then the spooky other, two men with one face? Or a sick killer who has fooled the people he has known and loved for years. I loved it, you are back and forward, you feel the angst for the characters, the questioning, the proof, the evidence, doing what is right, justice for the child.

The bits with the child thankfully aren't many as they are graphic, you get the old hairs on the back of your neck standing up. Outrage for some of the characters, rage at some antics and question but what if you were them. I love a book that does that and carrys you along, I have been a King fan since I was a kid - I grew up on King and feel in love with his writing from a very young age. I think this is one of those stories that you can't help but love, devouring each page because you have to know where is it going. At one point I gasped out loud, I couldn't believe what I had just read nor what it meant for the turn the story was going to take. An author that can do that to you is absolutely deserving of the title Master, he is brilliant, 4.5/5 for me this time. Also, there are a few editions of this book, red cover, blue, black and then WH Smith did an exclusive purple edition (check my instagram @always_reading) beautiful and purple is my fav colour so I had to buy that one. I cannot wait to read more of King, I have a handful left I haven't gotten to yet, the man has a way with words!

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