Friday, 27 November 2015

Follow Me by Angela Clarke

Follow MeFollow Me by Angela Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Publisher - Avon

Source - Netgalley

Blurb from Goodreads

LIKE. SHARE. FOLLOW . . . DIE

The ‘Hashtag Murderer’ posts chilling cryptic clues online, pointing to their next target. Taunting the police. Enthralling the press. Capturing the public’s imagination.

But this is no virtual threat.

As the number of his followers rises, so does the body count.

Eight years ago two young girls did something unforgivable. Now ambitious police officer Nasreen and investigative journalist Freddie are thrown together again in a desperate struggle to catch this cunning, fame-crazed killer. But can they stay one step ahead of him? And can they escape their own past?

Time's running out. Everyone is following the #Murderer. But what if he is following you?

ONLINE, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM...


My review

Freddie is a journalist, well she would be if she could catch a story and get herself out there. Whilst trying to keep her bills paid and working in a coffee shop she meets her old friend Nas. Nas is a police officer and Freddie finally has a chance to possibly scoop a story, finding herself in the middle of the investigation Freddie must help to catch a killer before he strikes again.

Oh Freddie, what an annoying little character she is, I felt sorry for Nas having to deal with her. Initially she seems to have no thought for anyone but herself although, as the story progresses and we get through the tough veneer we see another side to Freddie. Both her and Nas did something as kids, that is referred to throughout the tale however it doesn't come to light until much later. The story focuses on the victims, the killer and how the police try to catch the killer with the help of Freddie. Freddie is a loose cannon but she knows social media and the police need all the help they can get catching this killer who is flaunting his crimes on social media.

There is a lot to like in this book! Every chapter starts with an online text speak header, for example IKR - meaning I Know Right, there are loads of these I still don't know despite being a user of social media for years, I liked that. The games played with the police, the taunting, always one step ahead, reminded me of a few killers I have read before and loved. The chapters are fairly short which keeps your attention and makes for putting it down hard. There are some shocks along the way and the killings are fairly brutal so not for the faint hearted. 4/5 for me this time, I think this is a strong debut novel and I will be watching for more from this author. Thanks so much to Netgalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This title is available to buy on the kindle on the 3/12/15 or in paperback format from the 31/12/15.


View all my reviews

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The First wife by Erica Spindler

The First WifeThe First Wife by Erica Spindler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Pages - 352

Publisher - St Martin's Press

Blurb from Goodreads

An idealistic young woman marries a man she barely knows only to discover his first wife disappeared under mysterious circumstances. As a child, Bailey Browne dreamed of a knight in shining armor swooping in to rescue her and her mother. As she grew older, those dreams transformed, becoming ones of a mysterious stranger who swept her off her feet and whisked her away from her ordinary existence; then, suddenly, there he was. Despite the ten-year difference in their ages and her working class upbringing and his of privilege, Logan Abbott and Bailey fall deeply in love. Marriage quickly follows.

But when Logan brings her home to his horse farm in Louisiana, a magnificent estate on ninety wooded acres, her dreams of happily-ever-after begin to unravel. A tragic family history Bailey knew nothing about surfaces, along with whisperings about the disappearance of his first wife and rumors about women from the area who have gone missing, and when another woman disappears, all signs point to her husband's involvement.



My Review

When I first started this book, I thought it sounded so familiar. A couple meet, whirlwind romance, he is older and from money, she is alone as her mother has passed. His first wife disappeared and there is all kind of mystery surrounding his family and she is the new Mrs Logan Abbott. It totally reminded me of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, at least the first part did, even down to being met with dislike and almost hostility but those closest to her husband.

Bailey is really quite naive, caught up in the dreaminess of Logan, she marries and heads back to his huge estate. She soon discovers she knows very little about Logan and when she probes about his wifes disappearance Logan becomes distant. Soon Bailey finds there is more than one female has disappeared, the gossip in the village is rife and the chef of police is very open about his suspicion of Logan.

I didn't love Rebecca so the fact this started so alike it took me a bit to get into it. However, soon I wanted to know the family secrets, the hinted at gossip and find out what actually happened to Bailey leading up to her accident and the revelations that follow. The last quarter of the book really kicked off, secrets, lies and all the things you wondered about throughout the story are addressed which I enjoy, I hate loose ends. I would read Spindler again, sure I have read and enjoyed her before, 3/5 for me this time though.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

World War Moo by Michael Logan

World War Moo: An Apocalypse Cow NovelWorld War Moo: An Apocalypse Cow Novel by Michael Logan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Blurb from Goodreads

It began with a cow that just wouldn't die. Yep. That's right. They're still infected, and now the disease has spread to humans. The epidemic that transformed Britain's bovine population into a blood-thirsty, brain-grazing, zombie horde...err... herd... is threatening to take over the globe.

And there's not much time left to stop it. All of Great Britain is infected and brimming with rage. The rest of the world has a tough choice to make. Should they nuke the Brits right off the map — men, women, children, cows and all — in the biggest genocide in history? Or should they risk global infection in a race against time to find a cure?

With fanatical infected trying to escape the cursed island, and the Brits ready to defend themselves with every weapon at their disposal, including an intercontinental missile sloshing with infected blood, it may only be a matter of time before the virus gets out.

This means war.


My review

I really enjoyed the first book, now book two sees the virus has spread to the humans and the world wants to eradicate Britain before the rest of the world is infected. There is little to none media coverage and the world thinks Britain is over ran with zombies. Most of the infected are fine, still people going about their business, until they come across an uninfected, then the rage takes hold. Except for those who have learned to control it, the rest of the world want to be safe, some of the British want to infect everyone so we can all live in harmony and have the missile ready to do just that.

This is so very different from the first book, there aren't as many cows in this one although there are some mention of infected animals the main focus is on humanity. The relationships of those still living, infected with uninfected, how those few managed to overcome the rage & attempt to teach others to hold onto their humanity. There is a fair bit of politics in this one and although there is still humour involved, politics isn't really my thing. Some of the humour and scenes are a bit foolish but to be honest, it works well with the overall theme of the book. It is interesting, funny, black humour, murder, relationships, humans adapting, love, courage and anger to name just some of the topics this tale covers.

It is a fresh idea on the whole zombie apocalypse & I enjoyed finding out what happened to the characters from the first book and meeting some new ones. How humanity deal with the struggle and life choices in the face of being wiped out. I hope Logan considers a third installment, I would certainly read it and recommend this to those who enjoyed Apocalypse Moo, 3/5 for me this time. Thanks to the author for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.



View all my reviews

The First Thing You See by Gregoire Delacourt

The First Thing You SeeThe First Thing You See by Grégoire Delacourt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Pages - 236

Publisher - Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Blurb from Goodreads

Imagine you are a young mechanic living in a small community in France. You own your own home, and lead a simple life. Then, one evening, you open your front door to find a distraught Hollywood starlet standing in front of you. This is what happens to Arthur Dreyfuss in the village of Long, population 687 inhabitants.

But although feigning an American accent, this woman is not all that she seems. For her name is Jeanine Foucamprez, and her story is very different from the glamorous life of a star. Arthur is not all he seems, either; a lover of poetry with a darker past than one might imagine, he has learnt to see beauty in the mundane.

THE FIRST THING YOU SEE is a warm, witty novel about two fragile souls learning to look beyond the surface - for the first thing you see isn't always what you get!


My Review

Arthur Dreyfuss is quite an attractive man, pleasant kind and a mechanic by trade living in a small village. His fairly normal life comes to a halt when Scarlett Johansson arrives at his door, seeking refuge from Hollywood. It soon becomes apparent Scarlett is actually a look a like, her name is Jeanine Foucamprez and her whole life she has struggled to be Jeanine. Slowly they open up to each other, their attraction grows and learn who they really are.

This is possibly one of the most bizarre reads I have read, there is a huge focus on Scarlett/Jeanine's breasts and they are referred to in a fair few passages. The whole thing is almost like playing out a fantasy, the whole town is enthralled with this starlet. Yet all Jeanine wants is someone to see her as her despite encouraging and allowing people to believe she is Scarlett. There are a lot of poetry references dottered throughout the book which was a nice change as poetry isn't something I generally read much to be honest. It also makes you think the impact on people trying to live up to others expectations can have.

There is humour, awkward sex references/scenes, dark discussions fliting over abuse, self harm, love and personal growth are just some of the issues covered. I am not normally one to comment on covers but this one is quite quirky and appealing, despite not knowing this author I would have been tempted with the cover alone which isn't always something that draws me. This is also the book Scarlett Johansson apparently tried to stop from being published which I am sure only encouraged sales. The story left me feeling like I had missed something, I finished it thinking I had missed the point of it, I didn't hate it I actually found reading it relatively easy, I just didn't get it. 2/5 for me this time, thanks so much to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. I think I would read this author again, the writing was easy to follow and different from what I would normally pick up myself, I just didn't really get this particular tale.

View all my reviews

The Good Life by Martina Cole

The Good LifeThe Good Life by Martina Cole
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 512

Publisher - Headline

Blurb from Goodreads

THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE NEVER FREE.

Cain Moran wanted Jenny Riley more than he had ever wanted anyone or anything before in his life. But loving Jenny Riley was the easy part; it was telling his wife he wanted a divorce that was going to be the killer...

Jenny is not just any girl. She cares nothing for Cain's hard-man reputation - she just wants to be with him.

But Cain is not a free man. And he's about to find out that when his wife Caroline said 'til death us do part, she meant it.

When Cain is sentenced to life in prison it seems that Caroline might have got her wish. All Cain and Jenny know is that if their love can survive such separation, then one day they will have a chance at the Good Life together again.

But there are greater trials ahead than either can foresee. They're about to learn the hardest lesson of all:

LIVE THE GOOD LIFE. PAY THE PRICE.


My Review

It has been ages since I read a Martina Cole book and I got this on offer. Jenny is nervous, Cain is getting home after a long stretch in jail and she ponders over things that have come to pass. The book then heads back to the past, when they first met and to present day. Jenny is fairly naive when she meets married man Cain but attraction overcomes them and they begin their journey. Cains wife is not a woman who takes disrespect and plagues their life together, on top of that the dangers of living the life will have consequences for them all.

To be honest, this was very nearly a two star book for me, not because of the story of the writing and I do enjoy how Cole spins a tale. More to do with the massive spoiler right at the beginning of the book. The whole story then goes back to the beginning of the couples lives and builds up to the spoiler but the reader already knows it is coming and there isn't anything new or surprising after that.

There are the usual, bad language, sex, drugs, murder, violence and the relationships and breakdowns of the faces and their associates. However, after reading your opening chapter, there is no big reveal as you are told what has happened. The story is still enjoyable, I just wish someone had pointed out the massive spoiler pre publishing and removed it, it would certainly have added more to the story finding out later. 3/5 for me this time, I have read this author before and will read her again.

View all my reviews

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Emma L Clapperton & Denzil Meyrick in conversation




A lovely wee evening at Waterstones for In Conversation with Emma L Clapperton & Denzil Meyrick.


I haven't read either of these authors yet so it was nice to pop along and hear them chat, the focus was on Emma's book Beyond Evidence. A paranormal thriller, previously released in 2012 self published, now re vamped and available in paperback to buy now.




When you go to a book event it is always nice to see so much support for the author, friends & family however a good publicist can just top it all off. Allan went away and got me a chair to save me standing which was very nice and considerate, on top of this he made sure the glasses of complimentary wine were never empty, including the authors. It may not seem like much but these little details are very much noted, considering we were soaked from the pelting rain, these little extras really mean a lot.








The questions were really good and you felt you were part of a cozy chat, I will certainly be checking out both these authors.






Tonight also saw me finally get to meet Noelle, a fellow book lover and reviewer who traveled up from England for the event. Unfortunately I do not have any pictures of Noelle but you can stop by her fabulous blog, click here, and get to meet her there and pick up some fabulous reviews and crime book recommendations.

Q & A with Leigh Russell

Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions and offer up a signed copy of your newest book Blood Axe. You can find my review for it here







Tell us about the new book.

The titles in my series are written to work as stand alone as well as part of a series, because I think readers who pick my books up part way through the series should be able to enjoy them as much as fans who have been following my detectives' careers from the start. When writing, I try to cater for both sets of readers. So although my latest book, Blood Axe, is the third in my Ian Peterson series, and the eleventh book in which Ian appears, it can be read on its own. Blood Axe is set in York, where Ian Peterson has recently relocated on his promotion to detective inspector. While he searches for a brutal killer, he is also struggling to save his failing marriage. Like all my books, it begins with a murder, and the story spins out from there.


What gave you the idea for this series and particularly this book?

Ian Peterson appears in the first three books in my Geraldine Steel series. In Death Bed Geraldine Steel moves to London, leaving Ian Peterson behind in Kent. When Geraldine Steel became successful, my publisher suggested I write a spin off series for Ian Peterson. And that was how the Ian Peterson series came about. Blood Axe was inspired by one of my frequent visits to York, where Ian Peterson works to solve more murders in a month than occur in ten years in the real city of York. I became interested in the Vikings, who settled in York and lived there peacefully for many years, leaving the city steeped in Viking history. The Vikings were civilised traders with a sophisticated culture, who are often misrepresented as violent pillagers. The more I learned about them, the more they fascinated me. It was not a huge leap from researching them to creating a Viking character of my own. Although my character is a obviously fictitious, I did a lot of research to make sure my Viking's thought processes and feelings are as authentic as possible.


This is the first book I have read in this series, despite it being the 3rd book. Do you feel readers need to start at the beginning or is it ok to start with this one?

Many readers start at different points in the series, when a title catches their eye. Hopefully they enjoy what they read enough to want to read the rest of the series!


The killer is very mysterious, did you find it hard writing from their point of view?

Actually, no. I'm always fascinated by my killers and intrigued by writing from their point of view. A reviewer in Crime Time wrote that my books 'take the reader in to the darkest recesses of the human psyche'. I'm not quite sure how I get there, as I'm not 'dark' at all. On the contrary, I am really quite a harmless person, and totally opposed to violence. But I am fascinated by my characters, and the most interesting of these are the killers. What is it drives people to behave in such an extreme and inhumane way? I explore that question in my books, alongside the experience of my detectives who are working to track down my 'mysterious' killers.


I loved that you included a list of acronyms in the start of the book, do you always do this?

Yes, we do this for the US market, as they have different acronyms in America. No Exit Press do this in all of my books. I don't think my new publisher, Thomas and Mercer, will do the same as my new series is not police procedurals so there will be hardly any acronyms, if any. I'm so glad you found it useful. A lot of people do. I've even been known to check the list myself, just to double check I haven't made a mistake.


Are you doing any blog tours or have other events planned for this release?

My publicist is organising a little blog tour, but I'm happy to be interviewed at any time. As a full-time author, relying on book sales to pay my bills, I'm very grateful for any help I can get in raising awareness of my books. I do a physical tour, signing books, whenever a new book is published, and have a series of library visits planned in the spring, as I'm a passionate supporter of libraries. Together with literary festivals and research trips, my books keep me busy!


Where can fans find you, ie website, social media etc?

My website is http://leighrussell.co.uk Links to my facebook page, twitter account, and blog, can all be found there, along with reviews, interviews, the schedule of my forthcoming events, my contact details, and of course links to all my books.


What is next for Leigh Russell?

First and foremost, I will be writing. The next Geraldine Steel novel, Murder Ring, is out as an ebook next month, and in 2016 the first and second titles in my new Lucy Hall series will be published, starting in February with Journey to Death. Once the second Lucy Hall is finished, I'll start writing the ninth Geraldine Steel book which will also be published next year. I also have some travelling lined up. Every year I teach for the Writers Lab on a beautiful Greek island where I'll be returning in 2016. This year I travelled to Rome, Paris and Seychelles to research locations for my new series. I've been lucky enough to be invited to both Florence and Turin next year, so I'll probably do some further research for the third Lucy Hall book which is set in Italy. I'm also looking forward to visiting New Orleans for the American crime fiction convention, Bouchercon, and I'll be travelling all around the UK for festivals, crime panels, author talks and book signings. Finally, I'm very excited that the Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson books are in development for television with a major production company. I'm typing with my fingers crossed that the project will be a success. Thank you very much for interviewing me here, with such interesting questions.


Competition, as always, is via the Rafflecopter below, the more options you complete the more entries you will have. Good luck & thank you for stopping by.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Live Wire by Harlan Coben

Live Wire (Myron Bolitar, #10)Live Wire by Harlan Coben
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 384

Publisher - Orion

Blurb from Goodreads

When former tennis star Suzze T and her rock star husband, Lex, encounter an anonymous Facebook post questioning the paternity of their unborn child, Lex runs off, and Suzze - at eight months pregnant - asks Myron to save her marriage, and perhaps her husband's life. But when he finds Lex, he also finds someone he wasn't looking for: his sister-in-law, Kitty, who along with Myron's brother abandoned the Bolitar family long ago.

As Myron races to locate his missing brother while their father clings to life, he must face the lies that led to the estrangement - including the ones told by Myron himself. If we thought we knew Myron Bolitar, Coben now proves we didn't. An electric, stay-up-all night thriller that unfolds at a breakneck pace, Live Wire proves that Harlan Coben still has the ability to shock us anew.


My review

I really like this series with Bolitar & Win, this is book 10 although I never read them in order and often just read them as I come across them. Suzze T was a tennis star, now married and heavily pregnant to Lex, rock star legend. When a post on Facebook shakes Suzze's world and her husband disappears she comes to Myron for help. Little does Myron know that digging in this particular case will stir up his own past and as usual, when people want things to remain a secret, danger ensues.

Bolitar is his usual cheeky self and displays the banter we have come to know and love from him over the series. His family life has, over the previous series flung up some questions and mysteries, some of these resurface in this tale. Whilst Myron tries to work out the mystery for Suzze, he has to delve into his own past and actions.

An easy to read book, as always I would have loved to see more of Win. Action, swearing, drugs, violence, family and relationships are just some of the themes covered in this book. If you liked the previous stories you will enjoy this one, 3/5 for me.

View all my reviews

Follow Me by Angela Clarke

Follow MeFollow Me by Angela Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Publisher - Avon

Source - Netgalley

Blurb from Goodreads

LIKE. SHARE. FOLLOW . . . DIE

The ‘Hashtag Murderer’ posts chilling cryptic clues online, pointing to their next target. Taunting the police. Enthralling the press. Capturing the public’s imagination.

But this is no virtual threat.

As the number of his followers rises, so does the body count.

Eight years ago two young girls did something unforgivable. Now ambitious police officer Nasreen and investigative journalist Freddie are thrown together again in a desperate struggle to catch this cunning, fame-crazed killer. But can they stay one step ahead of him? And can they escape their own past?

Time's running out. Everyone is following the #Murderer. But what if he is following you?

ONLINE, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM...


My review

Freddie is a journalist, well she would be if she could catch a story and get herself out there. Whilst trying to keep her bills paid and working in a coffee shop she meets her old friend Nas. Nas is a police officer and Freddie finally has a chance to possibly scoop a story, finding herself in the middle of the investigation Freddie must help to catch a killer before he strikes again.

Oh Freddie, what an annoying little character she is, I felt sorry for Nas having to deal with her. Initially she seems to have no thought for anyone but herself although, as the story progresses and we get through the tough veneer we see another side to Freddie. Both her and Nas did something as kids, that is referred to throughout the tale however it doesn't come to light until much later. The story focuses on the victims, the killer and how the police try to catch the killer with the help of Freddie. Freddie is a loose cannon but she knows social media and the police need all the help they can get catching this killer who is flaunting his crimes on social media.

There is a lot to like in this book! Every chapter starts with an online text speak header, for example IKR - meaning I Know Right, there are loads of these I still don't know despite being a user of social media for years, I liked that. The games played with the police, the taunting, always one step ahead, reminded me of a few killers I have read before and loved. The chapters are fairly short which keeps your attention and makes for putting it down hard. There are some shocks along the way and the killings are fairly brutal so not for the faint hearted. 4/5 for me this time, I think this is a strong debut novel and I will be watching for more from this author. Thanks so much to Netgalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This title is available to buy on the kindle on the 3/12/15 or in paperback format from the 31/12/15.


View all my reviews

Monday, 9 November 2015

Wasteland - Surviving the Evacuation by Frank Tayell

Wasteland (Surviving The Evacuation #2)Wasteland by Frank Tayell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Pages - 203

Blurb from Goodreads

Billions were infected. Nations fell. The evacuation failed.

Bill Wright's journey has only one destination, the research facility that created the virus. As he meets other survivors in his struggle across the wasteland to reach it, he discovers that it is not just the undead who need to be feared.

This is the second volume of his journal.


My Review

This picks up pretty much where the first left off. Bill is hell bent on getting to the facility where it all started off, either to find answers or destroy what is left of the virus. Along the way he meets other survivors and Bill starts to realise people can be just as deadly as the zombies.

Bills journey in the first book was fairly solitary, this time he meets other survivors, some who recognise and blame him for "his part" in the death of so many. Along with survival this book looks more to the formation/breakdown of relationships, trust and Bill having to reassess his goals.

There is plenty of zombie action despite there being a heavy focus on the human interaction side of the story. Bill also finds some answers he wasn't aware he was looking for. A good second part of this story although I would recommend starting with the first book that this one. 3/5 for me this time, I will be buying the third installment of this tale to see how Bill fares.

View all my reviews

Friday, 6 November 2015

Signed copy of Talk of The Toun by Helen MacKinven

Q & A is here just in case you missed it.





To go along with the blog post, sorry this is late I was working, I have 1 signed copy to giveaway. It is the ARC I got prior to the launch which is now signed and a wee themed bookmark too.





This competition will run for just over 1 week, as always please use the rafflecopter below, the more entries you complete the more chances you have of winning. Good luck!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Talk of The Toun by Helen MacKinven Blog Tour

Having to post this a wee bit early due to the fact I am working tomorrow, my slot for the blog, and won't be home til after 8pm. So here goes, also, I have my ARC copy, now signed, to give away as part of the tour, I will list this once I get home from work. That will be the 6th of November after 8pm UK time so make sure you stop by to enter.





Tell me a bit about you?

I’m 47 years old and so I was 17 in 1985, just like the main characters Angela and Lorraine. My childhood was spent in Bonnybridge, famous for UFO sightings and I went to high school in Falkirk so the setting for Talk of the Toun was easy to recreate from my own personal experiences. After watching one too many episodes of Escape to the Country, three years ago I moved to a three hundred year old cottage in a small rural village in North Lanarkshire to live with my husband. I have two grown-up sons but I have filled my empty nest with eleven chickens, two dogs and two pygmy goats.



For the last ten years I’ve enjoyed writing flash fiction, short stories and I’ve completed three novels. My debut novel, Talk of the Toun, is the first of my novels to be published. In 2011, I took a career break to go to Stirling University to do an MLitt in Creative Writing but I’m now back on the road with my day job which involves travelling all over Scotland to deliver maths training for teachers so I have to fit my writing into days off and school holidays. Why did you choose Scotland and that time period for your book?

I wanted to write the type of book I love to read and my favourite writers, such as Janice Galloway, Anne Donovan and Jackie Kay, have set their books in Scotland and given a ‘voice’ to working class characters and this inspired my own writing. The advice often given is, “write what you know” so being a teenager in the 80s in central Scotland meant I could write a credible story.



There are a fair few characters, how did Senga come about, is she based on anyone you know?

The story is entirely fictional – nothing that dramatic happened to me growing up! But I did have a very close relationship with my gran and spent a lot of time with her in the same way Angela gravitates to her gran for support and guidance. My own gran died nine years ago and I still miss her dearly, she was funny without realising it, kind-hearted, a bit vain like Senga and had a white poodle too. But she wasn’t a pet psychic or an extrovert like Senga although she did give me plenty of inspiration and ideas for humorous scenarios. The book’s dedication is, “In memory of my gran, Ella, who taught me the meaning of unconditional love” and I know she’d be proud of me achieving my dream of being a published novelist.

Does it surprise you that Senga seems to be the favourite character? Who is your favourite character in the book and why?

Not really as she’s mine too! As my own relationship with my gran was full of love and laughs it meant I could create a character very loosely based on fact so I think that’s why the character connects with readers. I hoped folk would warm to her and I’m chuffed she’s your favourite too. I would love to see a book about Senga and I am sure I am not alone, is it something you would consider? I had never thought of doing another book with any of the characters but who knows, maybe if I get more interest in Senga I’ll consider writing more adventures for her and Bimbo.



You have captured the mid-80s amazingly, I found myself transported back to many memories I had long forgot. Was this something you meant to do?

Yes, I wanted the setting and time period to feel real so I needed to incorporate cultural references such as fashion, TV programmes, pop songs, food, household décor and gadgets from the era that would trigger the sense of the 80s. I’m blessed (or sometimes it feels more like a curse!)with a really good memory so lots of the details came back to me but the internet was invaluable to check my facts as there’s nothing worse than reading a book and seeing errors littering the page.



What research did you do to capture such an accurate portrayal of the people and times you write about?

There are a lot of websites with themes such as, ‘I love the 80s’ so I spent time reminding myself of things like clothes and makeup that were popular. I also signed up to the Pinterest website which is a great source of inspiration with thousands of boards full of images from the 80s. I set up my own boards for the book, one with images specific to Talk of the Toun and one for general 80s images if readers are interested to see the visuals related to the story. https://uk.pinterest.com/helenmackinven/



What is next for Helen MacKinven?

I’ve been busy with the pre-publication build-up for Talk of the Toun and my day job so I haven’t managed to do much writing on my next project. But I’ve made notes after a bit of research and written a few thousand words on a new novel. This book (if I finish it!) is set in Airdrie after the referendum result but with a local historical event related to the Leningrad Siege weaved into the narrative. Where can readers find you, ie twitter, facebook, website? I blog regularly at helenmackinven.co.uk and can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @HelenMacKinven



You can find my review for Talk Of The Toun here http://www.alwaysreading.net/2015/10/talk-of-toun-by-helen-mackinven_12.html Talk of the toun is now available to buy, kindle £4.99 or a paperback copy at £9.99







I also managed to get to the book launch for this last night, in case you missed it you can see the post and pictures here

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Possession by Peter James

PossessionPossession by Peter James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 290

Publisher - Orion

Blurb from Goodreads

Fabian's mother doesn't believe the police when they inform her that he died in a car crash. She keeps seeing him. Desperately she consults a medium who freezes into petrified silence because it's not her imagination. Fabian really wants to return.


My review

The tale opens with Fabian and his friends packing up the car and a fairly descriptive capture of the lead up to and the actual crash. Then the story's main character is Alex, Fabians mother who is sure the police have it wrong, her son isn't dead, she saw him that morning. But as the days go on, Alex knows that Fabian has died but he is still here. In the house, around Alex, making his presence known, Alex needs to find out how to make it stop or help her son.

This is a spooky wee book, Alex's friend is bizarre to say the least and adds to the spooky feel of the book. The mediums in the book only add to the spooky feel & the more Alexs pursues the more she realises she didn't really know her son at all.

A dark tale of one mothers loss, a haunting, possession and the occult. It is spooky and draws you in, you want to know is Fabian really haunting his mother and just how much did mum actually know her son. There are a lot of questions left hanging I thought and it ended fairly suddenly, I have read this author before and will read him again 3/5 for me.

View all my reviews

The Girl With All The Gifts by M R Carey

The Girl with All the GiftsThe Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 4 days

Publisher - Orbit

Pages - 460

Blurb from Goodreads

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her "our little genius."

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.



My Review

We open with Melanie, what her name means and what "life" is like for her and her routine. Her cell is where she lives when she isn't in the classroom, when she goes to the classroom she is confined to a chair. The soldiers, the children she spends her class time with and the teachers. Melanie is different, she is smart and notices things, that some of her classmates go missing and never come back. Soon Melanie will find out first hand what is happening to her friends, why her favourite teacher is looking so sad & what she really is.

For the first we while I wasn't too sure where the story was going and was a bit confused. However, eventually you find out, along with Melanie why she is strapped down, why her classmates disappear and what the lessons where all about. For me the story is a cross between invasions of the body snatchers with a bit of post apocalyptic theme with cannibalism, cruelty, murder and gore.

It isn't just about Melanie's self discovery, she is ten years old by the way but very intelligent and advanced for her age. It is also about relationships, survival and acceptance. It is different from a lot of what I normally read but reminded me a lot of the old movies I loved as a kid, 3/5 for me. This is my first time reading this author and I would read more by them.

View all my reviews

Monday, 2 November 2015

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

I Let You GoI Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 5 days

Publisher - Sphere

Pages - 364

Blurb from Goodreads

A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn't have prevented it. Could she?

In a split second, Jenna Gray's world is shattered. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape her past, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of the cruel November night that changed her life for ever.

DI Ray Stevens is tasked with seeking justice for a mother who is living every parent's worst nightmare. Determined to get to the bottom of the case, it begins to consume him as he puts both his professional and personal life on the line.

As Ray and his team seek to uncover the truth, Jenna, slowly, begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating.



My Review

A child is killed, as quick as a blink of the eye. Her only hope is to leave everything behind to try and start over. The police are seeking the hit and run driver. The chapters are split between Jennifer, DI Ray Stevens with the investigation and later Ian. The police are seeking justice for the death of a child, Jennifer is seeking some way to start over and Ian well Ian you will find out about as you get deeper into the story.

The first half of this book is a bit confusing, you feel like your missing something and the tale moves between the characters, mainly Jennifer and the police investigating the little boys death. It centers just after the accident and follows Jennifer as she cuts all ties and runs. The second half of the book is very dark, abuse, violence, secrets, relationships and lies are just some of the topics that are covered. We get a closer look at Jennifer and the events leading up to the accident. You start to make sense of what has happened, revelations are made and I personally didn't see the twist coming. Quite a few people have said they weren't too sure about the book when they start it but definitely keep going, it all falls into place.

A story that shows you can never outrun your past, actions or lack of have consequences and sometimes the past can destroy your future. This is the first time I have read this author and I would certainly read her again. 4/5 for me, a story that lulls you into thinking one thing then throws a curve ball and packs a punch!

The book is quite gripping, particularly I felt the second half when things start to fall into place. The chapters are quite short which I always like in a book

View all my reviews

Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan

Apocalypse Cow (Apocalypse Cow, #1)Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time Taken To Read - 2.5 days

Blurb From Goodreads

'Apocalypse Cow made me snort with laughter' - Terry Pratchett.

Forget the cud. They want blood. An outrageous an anarchic comic take on the zombie apocalypse - and joint winner of the first Terry Pratchett ‘Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now’ prize.

It began with a cow that just wouldn’t die. It would become an epidemic that transformed Britain’s livestock into sneezing, slavering, flesh-craving four-legged zombies.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the fate of the nation seems to rest on the shoulders of three unlikely heroes: an abattoir worker whose love life is non-existent thanks to the stench of death that clings to him, a teenage vegan with eczema and a weird crush on his maths teacher, and an inept journalist who wouldn’t recognise a scoop if she tripped over one.

As the nation descends into chaos, can they pool their resources, unlock a cure, and save the world?

Three losers. Overwhelming odds. One outcome . . .

Yup, we’re screwed.

My Review

I love zombies books (as you may have noticed), so when I heard about this one I thought I just had to give it a read. Geldof is a 15 year old Vegan boy, embarrassed by his hippy parents. If they aren't screaming at the neighbors for their murder and consumption of flesh(animals of course), forcing him to be a Vegan and wearing God awful natural fiber clothes his mum is bartering for food in the shop with vegetables. What follows is an unlikely team against the zombie animals. Something goes wrong at the abattoir, a weird plague amongst the cows gets out and spreads among domestic animals and soon everyone in Glasgow (and Britain) is at risk of being humped, mauled and or eaten.

This book is hilarious, disgusting and so UN PC - it has everything rolled into one story. The nerdy boy with the crush on the teacher, the hippy parents, the teenage bullies that need to be addressed or obeyed and of course the threat of being killed by rabid flesh eating animals from cows to rats.

Some of the brutality to the animals is a bit uncomfortable reading (in any kind of context) but taking the book as it is with silliness you can get through it, after all it the small matter of survival. This is my first encounter with this author and I would read him again, I also secretly (not so secret now) hope there is a follow up to this book. Will Geldof survive? Does he get the woman of his dreams and be the hero at the end? Well you have to read it and find out for yourselves folks. Thanks to Transworld publishers for giving me the chance to review this and introducing me to a new author, 4/5 for me this time. Just to add, I reviewed this in 2012 however the review was missing from this blog. I just received a copy of the next book in this series so reposting this!

View all my reviews

Well from I first started reviewing

Get your own free Blogoversary button!

More Competitions available at

Blog Archive