Thursday, 18 May 2017

Deadly Alibi by Leigh Russell Blog Tour

I think this is the first time I have ever kicked off a blog tour, hurrah. I have read a few of Leigh's books from both series and think if you haven't indulged you really should. I haven't read them all and not in sequence :O but I will go back and get the ones I missed. This one hit home a wee bit more for me as it has a huge focus on the main character, Geraldine Steel, with her personal life and issues. Here is my review for the book:

Deadly Alibi (DI Geraldine Steel, #9)Deadly Alibi by Leigh Russell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off over 5 days

Pages - 320

Publisher - No Exit Press

Blurb from Goodreads

Two murder victims and a suspect whose alibi appears open to doubt.... Geraldine Steel is plunged into a double murder investigation which threatens not only her career, but her life. And then her previously unknown twin Helena turns up, with problems which are about to make Geraldine's life turn toxic in more ways than one!

My review

A woman killed, a suspect arrested and the police are trying to get a confession as all the peaces seem to fit. DI Geraldine Steel is investigating with her team and playing devils advocate, her colleagues are convinced they have their man. Fling into the mix Steel has personal problems going on, dealing with a bereavement and a "new" relative is in Steel's live turning her world upside down.

I need to say, this is book nine and whilst I haven't read everyone of them I would advise reading the back stories however this can be read as a standalone. There are two main splits in the book, the investigation and murders and Steel's personal life which goes into turmoil. For me, the personal side overshadowed the crime story slightly purely because the relative reminded me of someone in my past which caused an emotional roller coaster of a personal nature. I think for many readers this part will evoke a similar response, I was so annoyed at times with Steel for some of her choices but could empathize with her choices. The investigation itself keeps you hooked as they come at it from different angles, Sam infuriated me at times, young, headstrong and quick to jump to conclusions, I think Steel is a nice ying to her yang making them a good team.

The chapters are relatively short which I really like, especially with a busy work week it meant I could dip in and out as time allowed. The start of the book, as all her others, has a glossary of acronyms, this has always been something I love about Russell's books as often you forget what they mean as you go through the book.

I think this book has a huge stab at the personal side of police officers and what they may be facing outwith the duty and how it can influence their choices. What makes the characters so real, I think, is how very flawed each of them can be. I think of all the Steel books so far, this will be one that stays with me for a long time, I really look forward to seeing what is next in store for her. 4/5 for me this time, thanks so much to No Exit Press for sending me a copy, all views are my own.

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Leigh is very active on social media and gabs with her fans on many book clubs online and you can find her on Twitter, click here.

Deadly Alibi is available to buy in paperback and ebook from all good retailers, click here to go to Amazon to order your copy. Thanks for stopping by and thanks to Anne Cater for including me in the tour, you can visit Anne's blog here.

Friday, 12 May 2017

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes AirWhen Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off for 2 days

Publisher - Bodley Head

Pages - 228

Blurb from Goodreads

What makes a virtuous and meaningful life? Paul Kalanithi believed that the answer lay in medicine’s most demanding specialization, neurosurgery. Here are patients at their life’s most critical moment. Here he worked in the most critical place for human identity, the brain. What is it like to do that every day; and what happens when life is catastrophically interrupted?

When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable reflection on the practice of medicine and the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

With a foreword by Dr Abraham Verghese and an epilogue by the author’s wife, Lucy.

My Review

A neurosurgeon, brilliant, talented, educated, a man touching and saving the lives of others. When all his hard work is coming to fruition and finally getting where he wants to be at the end of all his training life strikes a blow. Paul is diagnosed with cancer, going from physician to patient, from providing care to receiving it his whole life is turned upside down. This is his story from both sides of the fence, first as a practitioner and then to being on the receiving end of the table.

The first half of the book starts with Paul's diagnosis but quickly goes to his days learning his trade and what sparks his interest in becoming a neurosurgeon. I love a book where you learn about things, conditions, parts of the body, real life cases. Then we go to the more emotive side of the story, Paul's story and journey from diagnosis and the aftermath. Choices, decisions, grief stages, interacting with colleagues and how to go about life when everything you know has completely changed.

Informative, emotive, honest and a stark look at the path one takes when life pulls the rug out from under you. We all react different to things in our life and I think Paul's reaction and battle is one that shows just how amazing and strong some human beings can be in the face of personal trials. I hope this book brings some comfort to his family and helps show just how strong and brave one man can be, 4/5 for me for this one. It had sat on my tbr for ages and I wish I had read it sooner.

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Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent

The Loving HusbandThe Loving Husband by Christobel Kent
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off 4 days

Pages - 416

Publisher - Sphere

Blurb from Goodreads

Fran Hall and her husband Nathan have moved with their two children to a farmhouse on the edge of the Fens - a chance to get away from London and have a fresh start. But when Fran wakes one night to find Nathan gone, she makes a devastating discovery. As questions about her husband and her relationships start to mount, Fran's life begins to spiral out of control. What is she hiding from the police about her marriage, and does she really know the man she shared her bed with?

My Review

We open with a relatively uncomfortable chapter, a sexual encounter in a bit of a haze and the reader is alerted immediately that something isn't right. Her husband is not in bed, Fran goes to find him and makes a horrifying discovery. The police start digging into Nathan and Fran's life and Fran soon discovers secrets and lies leading her to question what did she actually know about her life.

The story jumps around a fair bit, both in timeline and from character to character. The chapters are not signposted so it isn't until you are a few sentences down the page you know if it is Fran or the police, then a quarter in the chapters are headed with what day of the week it is. The wife, Fran, is a mousy type character and appears to be on edge all the time alluding to some kind of abuse or being in a horrible situation. The information is teased out, both about what has happened and Fran and Nathan's relationship in general. There is a lot of scandal, secrets, lies, infidelity, sex, murder and relationships to name just some of the themes covered in this story.

For me, if I remember correctly, it read a bit like Girl On The Train in that is jumps around so much. The character isn't so much the unreliable narrator, more the way the story is constructed and told. I think some people will love this because it keeps you guessing as to what has happened and what is coming. I personally don't like that as I had to try and keep track of what happened, what is going on, who is the chapter centered on at that moment. I think some readers will love this format and the building suspense however for me it just didn't work and frustrated more than intrigued me. This was my first time reading this author, I would read her work again I just personally don't like this type of format, sure others will love it, 2/5 for me this time.

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Thursday, 4 May 2017

The Last Hack by Christopher Brookmyre

The Last Hack: A Jack Parlabane ThrillerThe Last Hack: A Jack Parlabane Thriller by Christopher Brookmyre
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Publisher - Atlantic Monthly Press

Pages - 432

Blurb from Goodreads

Sam Morpeth has had to grow up way too fast, left to fend for a younger sister with learning difficulties when their mother goes to prison and watching her dreams of university evaporate. But Sam learns what it is to be truly powerless when a stranger begins to blackmail her online, drawing her into a trap she may not escape alive. Meanwhile, reporter Jack Parlabane has finally got his career back on track, working for a flashy online news start-up, but his success has left him indebted to a volatile source on the wrong side of the law. Now that debt is being called in, and it could cost him everything.

Thrown together by a common enemy, Sam and Jack are about to discover they have more in common than they realize—and might be each other’s only hope.

My Review

It has been a while since I caught up with Parlabane and I have missed a few books inbetween, my o/h lied and told me a main character died and I stopped reading lol. Jack is up to his usual, trying to stay out of trouble but landing right in the middle of it, or rather being sought out for it. Sam Morpeth is a young woman trying to pick up the pieces her mother has left behind when she went to jail. Looking after her wee sister, trying to keep an education, avoid the drug dealers her mum owes her and local bullies shy Sam has her hands full. Sam has a secret, she is a hacker and forceful online rep lands her in a heap of trouble. With no option but to force Jack to help her, they both must come together to tackle one of the biggest hacks yet, violence and mayhem lies ahead for both.

This book is about hacking, hacking for initially the "right" reasons, not for financial gain and showing that even the best laid intentions can go awry. That consequences have actions and the old adage the world is a really small place, never knowing when your past may come back upon you. Sam I found to be a frustrating character, online a force to be reckoned with, offline in her own words "a victim". She also grated because she is such an intelligent girl who makes some very questionable choices and falls prey to many things she should be able to spot a mile away. Jack is Jack, in trouble, cheeky, likable rogue whose heart is in the right place, I forgot how much I liked him.

Split two fold, we have the whole hacking side of it and the personal life and struggles of Sam which helped break up the computer stuff. Whilst a good chunk of it was really interesting and highlights just how vulnerable we are with our online activities it was nice to have a human emotional aspect of the story. The book doesn't have the earlier grit, dark unpc humour the very first Parlabane books do, maybe because Jack (and Brookmyre) has ages but there are still wee flashes of it. 4/5 for me this time, thanks to Netgalley for sending me a copy to review. Available to buy under the title Want You Gone, not sure why they changed it, I think I preferred The Last Hack.

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Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Edinburgh Blogger Author meet up

Yesterday I finally made it to one of the bigger planned blogger/author meet ups, arranged by the lovely Joanne from Portobello Book Blog nip over for a wee visit, she is a great blogger. Our table only had myself and Joanne as bloggers and we were otherwise surrounded by authors. The table over from us I think had a good mix of both. It is so nice to see people you have been chatting to online for so long and finally put faces to and get a chance to gab. Sadly because we were so very many I didn't get to gab to everyone but there is always next time, I definitely will be going to another.

Hosted in Edinburgh, I traveled through on the train and only got lost 3 times when I left them, I took the travel opportunity to get out Alan Jones Bloq bookmarks for the tour..

I met and had a chat with the lovely Triona Scully, seen here with her new book, check it out!

Here is the lovely Wendy H Jones with the 1st in a series of books she has written, Wendy very kindly gave me a copy and I got it signed so once I get around to reading it, we will have a signed copy giveaway *squeel*.

And the beautiful Helen MacKinven with her book baby, no stranger to SMBSLT and you can find my reviews of both books on here and on Goodreads. Still pushing and hoping for Senga to get her own book, c'moan Helen.

Here is the lovely Annemarie Allan with her book Charlie's Promise. I also came home with a wee copy of this.

Always time to take notes, even if we are lunching, writers are always working or hatching a plan.

And here is Natalie Fergie with her beautiful new book, The Sewing Machine isn't it a lovely cover!

I may not have got a chance to gab to everyone but I did get a quick hello with most and some of their fab blog/website cards, including the lovely Kelly from LovesBooksGroup.

I can't believe I don't have a picture of Joanne :O there was so many folk to mingle with I also didn't get a chance to get a group picture. Definitely get full shots the next meet up, was a great day, food was lovely and the waiters did well to keep on top of so many. xxx Oh and to top it off, afterwards I went to meet o/h and friends and I saw a fire juggler outside the pub and got to clap his gigantic dog, bought books and a Guns n Roses totebag, absolute bliss.

Blood Sisters by Julie Shaw

Blood Sisters (Tales of the Notorious Hudson Family #6)Blood Sisters by Julie Shaw
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off 2 days

Pages - 336

Publisher - Harper Element

Blurb from Goodreads

It’s 1983 and best friends Vicky and Lucy swear that they will always be there for each other, that they’ll never let anyone come between them. But fast forward 4 years and life on the Canterbury Estate has gotten very messy.

Lucy has fallen for local policeman’s son, Jimmy. And Vicky is madly in love with Paddy, the charming but ruthless local bad boy. The boys are bitter enemies and determined to keep the two girls apart. But then Vicky is accused of murder, and even her drug-dealer boyfriend wants her mouth shut, permanently. Maybe Lucy is the only one who can save her

Love, murder, revenge. Who can you really trust when there’s blood on your hands?

My Review

We open in 1983, two little girls on the cusp of turning teens, share the old blood oath of friendship, never to let anyone come between them, sealed in blood. Fast forward four years and both girls have boyfriends, Lucy has fallen for a policeman's son and Vicky is head over heels for the local bad boy. Both men are natural enemies and hate each other on sight forcing a strain on the friendship of Lucy and Vicky. As the story unfolds, hatred grows and with horrifying consequences taking the girls down a road that there can be no return.

If you can I would avoid the blurb, for me there is a huge spoiler in that an event is mentioned that doesn't take place until the last quarter of the book. I found myself constantly waiting for it as it would have a huge turning point in the dynamics of the story. I think that also dampened my enjoyment of the overall story as I was constantly looking out for the twist, I will feed this back to the publishers too.

A tale about friendship and how love and manipulation can corrupt a person when they fall for the wrong man. Some parts are hard to read, not because it is badly written, the opposite, it is so true to life if anyone has a loved one in an abusive relationship this story will strike chords. The manipulation and destruction of one persons individuality due to a controlling partner is hard going, especially when everything takes a back seat. Their own choices, who they are as a person, family, friendship and even self identity. Done in such a masterful way that the person doesn't even realise what has happened or how they are being controlled. I really hated some of the main characters, Paddy for obvious reasons and Vicky because I was so frustrated at her choices and actions. Lucy, her partner Danny, and Gurdy were likable characters so you have a decent mix of those you can relate to or empathize with and those we love to hate.

The story is so much more than just the dominating abusive partner, friendship plays a huge part too but there is also love, murder, drugs, violence and illegal activity to name a few. Racism also rears its ugly head, adding weight to how despicable one person can be especially in the casual way he bands it about. Stories like this will always impact on readers differently, for me it was the abusive relationship between Vicky and Paddy that took center stage. Hard to read in parts because of the reflective realism on domestic abuse, especially such a young girl and we see how it plays out slowly without her even being aware. It highlights also that abuse isn't just violence, there are many forms and how it can impact upon the many lives it touches, choices and consequences. 3.5 initially for me as the spoiler really annoyed me but 4 stars overall because the book itself is very well written and had many layers to it. I have read Shaw before and I will read her again.

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Sunday, 30 April 2017

Till We Meet Again by Lesley Pearse

Till We Meet AgainTill We Meet Again by Lesley Pearse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days on and off

Pages - 500

Publisher - Penguin books

Blurb from Goodreads

How far would you go to save a friend?

Susan Wright walked into a doctor's surgery and gunned down two members of staff in cold blood, then waited for the police to arrest her. Later that day a lawyer, Beth Powell, is assigned to defend her. Susan won't talk to anyone, even to Beth - until both women realise that twenty-nine years earlier they had been childhood friends.

Talking about their troubled families and those happy summers they spent together as children rekindles Susan and Beth's friendship. And as the evidence against Susan mounts up, both women share their traumatic secrets about what sent them down such different paths in life. Their friendship grows stronger, but for one of them, there can be no happy ending ...

My Review

A woman walks into a doctor surgery and opens fire with a gun, then sits and waits for the police. After being arrested and assigned a lawyer the two women quickly realise they know each other, from another lifetime when they both were friends. So much has happened to both, so much has changed and now they stand on opposite sides of the law. Can the past be kept in the past or do old ghosts need to be freed to enable both woman to embrace their future?

Susan is standing trial for murder, Beth is her hard no nonsense lawyer. Once inseparable friends but now brought together by fate. Susan seems to want no help, Beth cannot put the murderer before her with the friend of old who has such an impact on her life. As the story progresses we learn the women's secrets, why they are the people they are now, how choices impacted their lives and how they progress from this point on.

Pearse is such a beautiful writer, considering how dark the content can be, abuse, murder, death, relationships she weaves a tale that draws the reader in. You soon get invested in the characters, whether you love or hate them you just want to turn page after page to see what happens next. This isn't my first Pearse book and it won't be my last, if life didn't get in the way I would have read this in one sitting, 4/5 for me this time.

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Nothing Is Strange by Mike Russell

Nothing Is StrangeNothing Is Strange by Mike Russell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - less than 1 hour

Pages - 146

Publisher - StrangeBooks

Blurb from Goodreads

20 mind-expanding short stories.
Inspiring, liberating, otherworldly, magical, surreal, bizarre, funny, disturbing, unique... all of these words have been used to describe the stories of Mike Russell so put on your top hat, open your third eye and enjoy: Nothing Is Strange

My Review

I could have read this in twenty minutes, but for the fact pretty much after each story I sat and pondered what I had just read. Bizarre, different, strange to say the least, certainly thought provoking. After reading them I wondered did the author have other levels to the stories to provoke thought, or was I reading the stories of someone under the influence? You know sometimes when you read, say Irvine Welsh or the like and you just think what did I just read there and even go over it again? Kind of like that.

Sometimes with short stories I will try and do a wee bit of commentary on each, however they are so short and few pages, not to mention bizarre I don't feel I can here. Some definitely highlight morality I would say, how choices and actions have consequences that we then must live with. Some are just bat crazy and even after going over them twice I genuinely don't know what to say or think about them. There is small content of sex, love, relationships, a wee bit of swearing and a whole mixed bag of crazy, you can dip in and out of the book as the stories are so short. I have never read this author before but I would read him again, would be interesting to see a novel and longer narration rather than just short sharp bites from him. If you like a book that is a bit trippy, mind bending and throws you a wee bit then this is absolutely the book for you, 3/5 for me this time.

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Thursday, 27 April 2017

Bloq by Alan Jones

BloqBloq by Alan Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - On and off for 1 week

Pages - 343

Publisher - Ailsa Publishing

Blurb from Goodreads

A father waits in Glasgow's Central Station for his daughter, returning home from London for Christmas. When the last train has pulled in, and she doesn't get off it, he makes a desperate overnight dash to find out why. His search for her takes over his life, costing him his job and, as he withdraws from home, family and friends, he finds himself alone, despairing of ever seeing her again.

This is a gritty crime novel with some sexual content.

My Review

We open with a callous burial or rather body dump of a young woman by some, what the reader can only deduce, very dodgy criminals. Hello chapter one, Bill Ingram is waiting in a Glasgow train station for his daughter to come home. As the train comes and goes and time ticks on there is no sign of Carol and no contact. Bill embarks on a one man investigation to find his daughter, putting himself in grave danger and having to face the fact that he maybe didn't know his daughter at all.

The chapters are named so we know where we are and which character it is focused on, Carol and the many folk around her or her situation are in London, Bill initially is in Glasgow then hits London for his quest. Carol's timeline jumps back a wee bit to before Aleksander comes into her life and the path that follows after. A story that demonstrates corruption, lies, influence, the darker side of humanity and how some people will go to any lengths to exploit another.

Relationships carve a huge part of this story, the love of a father for his daughter, partners, friendship, criminal loyalties and family. There are some very dark themes in the book too, addiction, abuse, violence, sexual abuse to name just a few. It isn't for the faint hearted, not so much in brutal graphic detail but enough for the reader to conjure the horrors with just enough information for full impact. The book is a bit like an onion, there are so many layers to it, I loved the family bond some characters had and would stop at nothing for their relative.

Lots and lots of swearing featured, I think given one of the central themes and key characters this was a must, for realism, rather than gratuitous. Depending on your background and family ties, I think this book has the potential to pack a punch and strike some emotive chords with some readers. I have read Jones before and I will read him again, 4/5 for me this time!

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Monday, 24 April 2017

The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull - Blog Tour

Well hello there and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the beautiful Rebecca Mascull's new book which is out next month, kindle, treebook etc. I absolutely loved this wee book, had I read the blurb I would have probably missed out on one of my fav reads this years as the time and main content, female aviator, isn't something I would pick for myself. So why did I love it? Check my review out, bottom of the Q&A.

Becca has very kindly took some time out to answer some questions for us :D

1. Your books tend to be set in the past, why do you choose historical fiction, what draws you to that timeline?

I’ve always felt like I’m a bit out of my time. I love watching and reading about history, I love quaint old language & my favourite authors are all long dead! When I was a little kid, I actually believed that the past was black and white; like, there was no colour in the world until after we won WW2 (in a Wizard of Oz type way)!! When I realised this wasn’t the case, I was really shocked! So, I’ve always been fascinated by the past and the idea that people living in the past don’t know they’re in the past (if you know what I mean) and believe they are at the forefront of technology. Also, that they don’t know they’re going to win the war or their king is about to die or there’s about to be a terrible earthquake or they’re about to be invaded by the Conquistadors or whatever. I love that feeling of entering the past and imagining myself one of those shadowy people – and bringing it to life.

2.Your characters tend to be strong women despite what they face or have been through, what inspires you to create characters like this?

Wish fulfilment, probably! I have to say, though, that I’ve become stronger and more confident the older I’ve become. The things I used to worry about – what people will say or think of me, fears about the future or trying new things etc – all of these have ebbed away as I’ve aged, in the best way, and I now feel stronger than ever. I believe this is possible for everyone, every woman and man. You’ve just go to let go of that fear of what society will think of you and not give a damn! The women in my stories do that and I love writing them for that reason.

3.We need to talk about Betty! As you know she is my fav character, what was the inspiration for her? Is she based on anyone?

I really don’t know where she came from. She just barged in there. Originally, I was going to have my aviatrix character having spent a summer holiday at Kitty Hawk, but it just didn’t ring true. Suddenly, up strode Great Auntie Betty and presented herself as the solution. It was just one of those lucky things, when a character arrives fully formed. Like my previous answer, she’s one of those people who don’t give a stuff what the world thinks of her. She’s different, she’s her own person and she’s full of love. I love her too!

4.Is Betty going to get her own book? I think her life story would be amazing and she must have touched many lives, do you think we could persuade you to tell her story?

It would be a delight to tell Betty’s story. If you can find a publisher to give me a contract for it, I’ll happily write it for you, darling. ;-)

5.What are you working on now?

I’m in a bit of a hiatus right now. I’ve come to the end of 3 historical novels for Hodder and now I’m branching off in a new direction. I don’t know quite what that will be yet. It might be contemporary, it might be more history, I really don’t know. I’m not rushing it. I’m teaching right now and meeting loads of fascinating new people and enjoying the change. Something unknown will be percolating in my brain while all that is going on and I’ve no idea what will be the outcome. That’s a lovely feeling!

6.Where is best for readers to find you? Twitter? Fb? Instagram? Xxx

I used to be all over Twitter, but I’ve kind of fallen in love with Facebook in recent months. I dabble in Instagram. But Facebook satisfies my need for socialising, companionship, belly laughs and kitten videos. What’s not to like? :-D Thanks for ace questions, Lainy. Always a pleasure.

My Review

The Wild AirThe Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off for 2 days

Pages - 400

Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton

Blurb from Amazon

In Edwardian England, aeroplanes are a new, magical invention, while female pilots are rare indeed.

When shy Della Dobbs meets her mother's aunt, her life changes forever. Great Auntie Betty has come home from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, across whose windswept dunes the Wright Brothers tested their historic flying machines. Della develops a burning ambition to fly and Betty is determined to help her.

But the Great War is coming and it threatens to destroy everything - and everyone - Della loves.

Uplifting and page-turning, THE WILD AIR is a story about love, loss and following your dreams against all odds.

My Review

Della is a subdued and quiet child until her Aunt Betty comes back to live in the town and shows Della it is ok to chase your dreams. Della loves flying and aeroplanes but knows a woman's place is in the home, second place always to men, it is the early 1900s. But with Betty at her side, Della realises that against all odds she can chase her dream and be who she wants to be but at what cost?

I am so glad I didn't read the blurb when I agreed to review this, I am not a huge lover of historical fiction nor into aeroplanes much at all. Guys I loved this book!!! Aunt Betty is a fabulous character, looked down upon by the village folk for daring to be different, want more than babies and a kitchen sink. She comes back with her head held high and shows Della there is much more out there if she is brave enough to go after it. And Della does, becoming a strong and independent woman she pursues her dreams of attempting to become a female pilot. As the war is looming Della faces many more challenges than just sexist attitudes and risks everything she has achieved to follow her heart.

I love a book with strong female characters, when Aunt Betty was in the picture she stole the show and I genuinely hope the author considers giving Betty her own stage and story, she is marvelous. Della is another strong character although more subtle in her strength and we watch her grow from a young girl to a determined headstrong woman. The attitudes of the times, facing scorn for wanting something more from her life, the horrors or war and some heroic choices makes Della a character you can't help but love. A surprising aspect for me was all the plane storyline, you can tell Mascull went to town on her research for this book, I learned so much about the machines and even the history of them. I always find it a great wee bonus when you learn something true from a fiction book and it did peak my interest in aircraft although I would never be so brave to learn to fly.

A story of moral, strength, beauty, personal growth, family, expectations and going against the grain when you are expected to fall in line. Creating characters that the readers becomes invested in from practically the first page. I would have sunk this in one sitting had life not got in the way, Mascull has a way yanking you through the years to a different era, so vivid the scene you can smell and taste it. 5/5 for me this time, I have read this author before and I will read her again, I think I have missed one of her books so will need to snap that up, I eagerly await her next. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy, all views are my own. Available to buy from the 6th of April 2017.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Police, Crime & 999 by John Donoghue

Police, Crime & 999Police, Crime & 999 by John Donoghue
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off 3 days

Pages - 296

Publisher - Troubador Publishing

Blurb from Amazon

Ever wondered what really happens behind the scenes in the police? What bizarre 999 calls are made to the emergency services? Why can wearing two pairs of socks make you a suspect? What is the link between police and vampires? Which Royal arrest never made news headlines? What covert sign do officers make when they no longer wish to talk to you? After successful careers in both the military and business, John Donoghue realised that the higher you get in any organisation, the less fun you have. So, after handing back his expense account and company car, he joined the police in search of excitement and thrills... and discovered some surprising answers to these puzzling questions. PC John Donoghue reveals all in his fascinating and hilarious true account of a year in the life of a front line response officer. Names and places have been changed to protect the guilty... but if you call the police, maybe, just maybe, it could be Police Constable John Donoghue turning up at your door. This book will appeal to anyone interested in crime and police, as well as fans of autobiographies and humour.

My Review

In this book, PC John Donoghue gives a hillarious, un pc and dare I say it, shocking insight into what life as a policeman and dealing with the public is actually like. True stories in relatively short bite chapters at different criminals, situations and mishaps he has experienced and how he has handled them with his fellow officers.

I do love a book that has real life encounters with members of society, especially those from different walks of life. Truth can always be far stranger than fiction and Donoghue gives us a small glimpse at some of lifes colourful characters.

There are quite a few laugh out loud tales in the book that some people will think are made up because people just don't do things like that, they really do and some will leave your jaw hanging! There will be a minority of folk who may find one or two turns of phrases to be offensive or possibly even judgmental, however if you read the book as it was intended you will see it for what it is. There is no denying how hard a serving officers job must be and humor is sometimes the only thing you have to get you through the horrors and reality that is some people's life. So when you pick up this book, keep that in mind and I am sure you will love it.

Funny, witty, well written and in chapters that aren't to lengthy that if you have a busy life you can easily dip in and out. I think Donoghue would be hilarious to watch on a stage doing a book tour, the hilarity just jumps off the page and I did burst out laughing once or twice so maybe not a book for public transport reading.

This is my first dance with this author, I would certainly read him again and he does have at least one more book like this if not more. A look at how different some folk live laced with humor and the dark reality that is some folks actual lives. Thanks to Crime Book Club for introducing me to a new author and Donoghue himself for providing a copy for review. As always, all views are my own, available to buy from Amazon in paperback or kindle, 4/5 for me this time.

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Monday, 17 April 2017

Troll by D B Thorne

TrollTroll by DB Thorne
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - just under 2 days

Pages - 366

Publisher - Corvus

Blurb from Goodreads

A gripping and explosive psychological thriller about a young woman who disappears in suspicious circumstances having been hounded by a vicious online troll.

Years ago, Fortune gave up on his daughter, Sophie, after a troubled adolescence. ow she's gone missing, vanished without trace. And after weeks of investigation, the police have given up on her, too.

Driven by guilt, and a determination to atone for his failures as a father, he takes on the search himself. He soon finds that his daughter had been living in fear of a vicious online troll who seemed to know far too much about her. Could Sophie's disappearance be linked to this unknown predator? Fortune is about to discovers that monsters which live online don't always stay there...

My Review

Fortune is a man who is career driven and his family life suffered as a result, he has a daughter Sophie, now in her 20's, whom he doesn't really know anymore. Sophie has a great career as a journalist and has overcome a lot from her troubled past but now she is the target of an online troll. When Sophie disappears and the police are reluctant to see the disappearance as her father does, Fortune risks his job and much more to make amends and find his daughter.

The book opens with Fortune at the police, the investigation is being reclassified and stepped down, Fortune is angry and takes matters into his own hands. We flip to Sophie and before she disappeared, her life and the then interactions with the troll who doesn't keep to just harassing online. We follow the two story lines, with the father in the present and flipping between locations, Dubai for Fortune and then he comes to London for Sophie.

Narration also flips about, Fortune is in third person, Sophie's is first person. There is a fair amount of switching going on and I would have personally preferred the chapters to be signposted who if not where. The chapters with Sophie are eerie as the threats, intimidation and targeting become more intense. The reader gets drawn into the dark spiral and decline as Sophie questions everything around her, it also makes you realise how vulnerable you really are. Fortunes is, I felt a bit slower, as he knocks about from pillar to post trying to get some answers and direction to find his daughter. Self exploration plays a part too as he recalls all he missed because of his job and unravel Sophie's background of mental health issues, which raises questions of what actually happened.

It is a busy wee book and I was ensnared from the front cover, my proof copy was a screenshot of an online post Sophie made about a physical attack and interaction with said troll. I couldn't wait to discover what actually transpired and what Sophie's fate actually was. The book is a bit like an onion, you know what is being offered but as you start to read & reveal the layers the story is about much more than a stalker/thriller. Family life, regrets, self exploration, personal growth, mental health issues and the ripples that can follow even when you are a healthy individual, stigma still follows you. I think the under layers really get you thinking and I did enjoy the psychological thriller/mystery elements. 3.5/5 for me this time, this was my first dance with this author, I would read them again. Thanks to Corvus for sending me a copy, all views as always are my own. Available to buy from all good retailers from 1st of June 2017.

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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The Book Of You by Claire Kendal

The Book of YouThe Book of You by Claire Kendal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 6 hours

Publisher - Harper

Pages - 362

Blurb from Goodreads

For Clarissa, being called to do jury duty is a relief. It means she can leave work for a couple of weeks and avoid the unwanted attentions of her university colleague, Rafe. An intense man who is an expert on grisly folk tales, Rafe has always unnerved her, and Clarissa still cannot understand how she could have let herself have a drunken one-night stand with him.

As the trial unfolds, Clarissa begins to see the parallels between the violent tale related by the young woman whose attackers she is judging and her own situation. But with no crime to report and only her gut feeling to guide her, she is powerless. What can you do when the lines between fantasy and reality, love and fixation become dangerously blurred? How do you protect yourself from an enemy that no one else can see?

With an original structure and a heroine whose voice is equal parts unsettling and unforgettable, The Book of You is tinged with the darkness of a macabre fairy tale, yet is terrifyingly close to reality, a story that will haunt readers long after the last page is turned.

My Review

What a great wee debut novel!

The book opens in diary form, Monday, 2 February, 7.45 a.m. from Clarissa in first person form. The book goes with this theme as well as 3rd person narrative. The diary entries are well signposted and flip back to when she first really encounters Rafe and things go down hill from there, it does it really well and you can follow the time shift easily. Rafe is obsessed with Clarissa, stalks her, believes they are in a relationship and won't take no for an answer. We follow their encounters both in present day as Clarissa keeps a diary of "evidence" of their interactions and going back to how they got to where they are now.

This is a really creepy, thought provoking story about just how easy it can be to fall into the clutches of an unhinged human being. I have read many crime and thriller books, even a few psychological thrillers but this is my first stalker type one and it is really haunting. Some of it is graphic, sexual and makes for really really uncomfortable reading. However, busy as I am with coursework, I couldn't put it down. The author has done an amazing job of creating a tale filled with fear & horror for the main character which you are dragged right into. I have never been stalked however after reading this book, I felt like I had experienced the trauma of it, such is the vividness of Clarissa's world she paints.

There were one or two issues I had with the book however it was more to do with unanswered questions and a few stickler points that are a personal preference when reading. I honestly think, if you like a good book that will freak you out and have you looking over your shoulder, you really must give this a read. 4/5 for me this time and I look forward to more from this lady and hope she is in the process of writing her next! Thanks so much to Harper for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review and highlighting a debut novel to me.

what a great wee debut novel!

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Saturday, 8 April 2017

The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse

The Idea of YouThe Idea of You by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off over 2 days

Pages - 332

Publisher - Lake Union Publishing

Blurb from Goodreads

With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter thinks she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But becoming parents proves much harder to achieve than Lucy and Jonah imagined, and when Jonah’s teenage daughter Camille comes to stay with them, she becomes a constant reminder of what Lucy doesn’t have. Jonah’s love and support are unquestioning, but Lucy’s struggles with work and her own failing dreams begin to take their toll. With Camille’s presence straining the bonds of Lucy’s marriage even further, Lucy suddenly feels herself close to losing everything…

This heart-wrenchingly poignant family drama from bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: in today’s hectic world, what does it mean to be a mother?

My Review

Lucy is hitting forty and wants more than anything to become a mother. Married to Jonah for around a year, a very successful woman in her own right a baby is what is missing in her life. Jonah's daughter is coming over to stay, Lucy is struggling with her own family issues and now has a feisty teenager to welcome into her home. With surprises and heartache around the corner, Jonah's daughter brings a whirlwind of emotions, testing boundaries and the potential to change the family dynamics forever.

There is no two ways about it, this book will strike a chord with you or completely turn you off the book. It covers some heart wrenching issues, miscarriage, loss, infidelity, step family dynamics, marital difficulties, relationships, families and secrets. Some of the scenes, especially for readers who have lost a child or experienced pregnancy that didn't have the outcome you wanted, especially hard.

Written from Lucy's point of view and each chapter starting with a letter to her baby we experience the full heartache of longing and loss of a woman desperate for a child. Some of the writing paints a very dark picture and this book will be very emotive for some readers whilst possibly offering an understanding nod from others who have been there and experienced Lucy's journey. This is my first time reading this author, The Idea Of You certainly packs an emotive punch and leaves you reeling, I would read her again. Whilst fiction, Prowse creates a realistic window into the harsh realities and torment some women endure trying to gain the one thing they want more than life. I disliked some of the behaviour of some characters and found myself questioning the likelihood of their actions and words however the reality often is quite unpredictable and people can do a complete 360! 4/5 for me this time, I would read this author again, in fact I have a few of hers on my tbr. Thanks to Netgalley for a review copy, all thoughts are as always, my own.

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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Man Who Loved Islands by David F Ross - Blog Tour

Welcome David to So Many Books, So Little Time & a wee quick thanks to Karen at Orenda Books and the beautiful Anne from Random Things Through My Letter Box for introducing me to a new Scottish author, for me, & including me in the tour. I am only stop 4 on the blog tour so please check out the others as we are going through the month, info below.

You can read a wee bit more about David here!

The Man Who Loved IslandsThe Man Who Loved Islands by David F Ross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off over 5 days

Pages - 302

Publisher - Orenda Books

Blurb from Goodreads

In the early 80s, Bobby Cassidy and Joey Miller were inseparable; childhood friends and fledgling business associates. Now, both are depressed and lonely, and they haven't spoken to each other in more than 10 years. A bizarre opportunity to honor the memory of someone close to both of them presents itself, if only they can forgive and forget. With the help of the deluded Max Mojo and the faithful Hamish May, can they pull off the impossible, and reunite the legendary Ayrshire band, The Miraculous Vespas, for a one-off Music Festival—The Big Bang—on a remote, uninhabited Scottish island? Absurdly funny, deeply moving and utterly human, thisis an unforgettable finale to the Disco Days trilogy—a modern classic pumped full of music and middle-aged madness, written from the heart and pen of one of Scotland’s finest new voices.

My Review

Bobby Cassidy & Joey Miller were thick as thieves, pals from childhood in the 1980's, we have a tiny glimpse of them like this then jump forward in time. Neither speaks to the other and their lives have gone in very different directions Joey has traveled all over the world whilst meeting his clients, Bobby made it huge as a DJ in Ibiza. Successful in their own rights but each having separate battles with age, addictions, fame and or depression a chance opportunity sees them both reunite and try to pull off the event of the century.

This is book three in a trilogy, whilst I don't think not having read the others hampered my enjoyment I think it would have had more impact knowing the extensive background with the two. Bobby and Joey are pals, the book mostly concentrates on their life in the now with some kick backs to their adult life without each other, more so Bobby's. Music has a huge feature in the book and I did spent some time googling quite a few songs as I didn't know a whole lot of them. Locations of the tale varies between China, Ibiza, USA, England and Scotland. The boys are Scottish and they or the folk around them swear a lot. The C word makes a few appearances as is par for the course to authenticate the Scottish settings, people, banter, I know some folk balk at that one so just an FYI.

I loved the lingo in this book, as a Scot myself some of the slang, terminology and banter fires up some memories from my own past. Some of the chat and banter was like talking with an old friend or firing on a pair of well loved slippers! On more than one occasion I burst out laughing and a book that can get you laughing out loud is ticking many boxes! I think some may struggle with some of the conversations with the guys and maybe a wee list explaining what some words mean would have helped some non Scottish readers.

The book touches on quite a few things, friendship, infidelity, love, loss, corruption, bereavement, sex, drugs, and a big feature of music. The chapters are relatively short which for me was great, I do normally like that anyway but I started this book during a run of shifts so it made for perfect reading to be able to dip in and out with the short time offered. It initially took me a wee bit to settling in to read but once I got into the meat of it I didn't want to put it down. Hillarious, sad in parts and a great spin on friendship with two guys struggling with their personal demons pulling together for something epic. This is my first time reading this author, I enjoyed the book so much I am going to buy the first two of the series. Thanks so much to Orenda books for highlighting a new author to me. If you like Irvine Welsh you need to read David F Ross, not as much grit but certainly of the same caliber. 4/5 for me this time, absolutely I will be reading this author again, all opinions are my own.

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If you are local, David is having the launch in Glasgow City Centre with a live band and Q&A, this is a ticketed event. See the details below.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Aprils competition is for a £5 Amazon voucher

Happy April & Happy Easter if you celebrate it and if not, look a cute piccy of beautiful bunnies (credited to the Mirror).

So, April's giveaway will be a wee £5 Amazon voucher, as usual please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. The more entries you complete the more times your name will be entered. All winning entries are checked, any entries claims that are false will be disqualified and another winner selected. The competition runs until the end of the month, the prize is sent after the winner has been selected and checked.

Thanks for entering and good luck xxx

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Wednesday, 29 March 2017

City Girl by Patricia Scanlan

City GirlCity Girl by Patricia Scanlan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 484

Publisher - Simon & Schuster UK

Blurb from Goodreads

Delivering stories that span generations, and offering warmth, wisdom and love on every page - if you treasured Maeve Binchy, read Patricia Scanlan

Three very different women face heartache, upheaval and reinvention in this romantic drama, which praises the power of friendship to pull you through when life gets tough.

At 21, Devlin is seduced by the suave, sophisticated Colin Cantrell-King, an older married man and her boss. But this affair will leave her with some tough decisions to make.

Caroline is afraid of being left on the shelf so jumps at the chance to marry the cool, detached and very attractive Richard. But, why does he never return her ardour with equal passion?

Married mother Maggie feels trapped in a loveless marriage until she discovers her husband's infidelity. What will she do with her new-found sense of liberation?

My Review

A story about three women, Devlin, Caroline & Maggie. All in very different circumstances and coming from different backgrounds the three form an unlikely friendship. The story goes over several years and looks at how life choices can have a massive impact on their whole lives and how they cope, survive and pull together to get through their experiences.

I have read Scanlan before and to be honest she is becoming an author I really like. I don't think you could call it chick lit because she hits some hard issues in a delicate and sensitive way. This book examines abuse, love, relationships, loss, parenthood, loneliness and hardship, to name a few of the topics covered.

The three main characters are very different, Devlin is beautiful, forceful and a force to be reckoned with but soon learns actions have long lasting consequences. Caroline is almost a slave to her own family looking after the boys, going from "an ugly duckling" to a beautiful young woman, Caroline fails to see her own beauty. Her lack of self worth follows her into adulthood and impacts on many aspects of her adult life. Maggie has always been spunky, never one to allow social attitudes, or her family, to dictate what she should do with her life Maggie makes her decisions to live her life as she wants. Soon realizing, as with her friends, actions have long lasting consequences she seeks solace with her old friends as they pull together to survive their demons.

A thought provoking tale of friendship and real life, I think many readers can identify with one or all of the characters at some point. The book packs some emotional punches as we follow three very different woman into adulthood and survival. How friendships can be broken and some can survive everything life has to throw at them. Carving out strong women who have weaknesses that shine through this is a story about life and the curve balls it throws you but more importantly, coping to get through it. 4/5 for me this time, there are I believe two more stories to follow this one with the same characters, I will be buying them for sure!

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