Friday, 15 September 2017

The Madam by Jaime Raven

The MadamThe Madam by Jaime Raven
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off 3 days

Pages - 328

Publisher - Avon Books

Source - Book shop

Blurb from Goodreads

Women always uncover the truth . . .

Three years and eleven months. That's how long Lizzie Wells has been banged up inside Holloway prison, serving time for a crime she didn’t commit.

Six months. That's how long it’s taken Lizzie to fall in love with her fellow inmate, Scar.

Now they are both finally free and, together, they are about to embark on a vengeful search to find those who framed Lizzie . . . and to make them pay.


My Review

Imagine waking up beside a corpse, covered in their blood and the murder weapon lying on the floor. Fast forward just under four years later, Lizzie is out of prison and she wants to know who set her up. As she starts to dig into the past the warnings come fast and furious and Lizzie finds not only herself but those closest to her in danger. Someone wants Lizzie to leave well alone and will stop at nothing to make it happen.

We follow Lizzie as she emerges from jail, with the help of her partner Scar they set about trying to find information about the crime Lizzie is meant to have committed. Not only do we have theme of investigating the crime, attempting to engage the police we also see Lizzie assessing her choices now she is free. Lesbianism, her mothers cold attitude towards her, dealing with the loss of her child all the while being threatened. It is a busy wee book and you find yourself evaluating how would you act and what would you do. I found Lizzie quite frustrating at times, some of her choices and behaviours had me almost screaming in frustration.

It is a busy wee book, you have the danger and threats hanging over Lizzie and it keeps a decent pace throughout. There is a lot of sadness and Lizzie has much to resolve, a good pace that engages the reader and keeps you turning page after page. 3/5 for me this time, this is my first time reading this author and I would read him again.

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Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Dark Dates by Tracey Sinclair

Dark Dates (Cassandra Bick Chronicles #1)Dark Dates by Tracey Sinclair
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - dipped in over 3 days

Pages - 246

Publisher - Amazon media

Source - author

Blurb from Goodreads

All Cassandra Bick wants is to be left to get on with doing her job. But when you’re a Sensitive whose business is running a dating agency for vampires, life is never going to be straightforward – especially when there’s a supernatural war brewing in London, a sexy new bloodsucker in town and your mysterious, homicidal and vampire hating ex-lover chooses this moment to reappear in your life…

Witty, sharp and entertaining, Dark Dates is a heady mix of vampires, witches and werewolves – with the occasional angel thrown in – and introduces Cassandra Bick, a likeable heroine destined to join the ranks of fantasy’s feistiest females.

My Review

Cassandra makes a living from her dating agency, a dating agency like no other. Hooking up humans and vampires. The agency has come to the notice of someone, someone who wants Cassandra to stop. With threats on her life, attacks on the office and vampires being killed Cassandra should give up and stay safe but she won't be warned off. Her "bootie call" Cain, ex boyfriend and destroyer of "Others" no just vampires but other beings drops in and out of her life and usually when trouble is afoot. There is more than meets the eye to Cain and Cassandra is about to find out just how special and different the people in her life really are.

This is the first in a series, we meet Cassandra who is a Sensitive with a capital S, her sense helps her read Others and help her in some tricky situations. There is a lot to her Sense and I think as the series goes on we will learn more about it. I had to email the author as I had a fair few questions about it, I think along with the character learning about it the reader is too. It is a fresh and interesting approach as vampire stories have been around for such a long time so it is hard to make it original. We have vampires, a sassy Sensitive with a mouth on her, a fabulous witch side kick, a mysterious old boyfriend who Cassandra can't seem to keep out of her bed and violence and deaths all round.

There is bad language, sex, mystery, homosexuality, a lot of humour especially from Cassandra she is quirky, feisty, strong, independent and I did laugh out loud in parts. If work hadn't gotten in the way I could have read this in one sitting. There was more than a few actions I found myself frustrated with, especially how Cassandra responded to certain situations however I think that brings realism into it. How often has someone acted or said something in a situation and you just wanted to slap them or shout no why didn't you say X,Y,Z! A very promising start to a series and I look forward to more from Sinclair and seeing what is in store for Cassandra and crew, 4/5 for me this time. Thanks to the author for introducing to a new series and sending me a review copy.

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Monday, 11 September 2017

You by Caroline Kepnes

You (You, #1)You by Caroline Kepnes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - less than 1 day

Pages - 422

Publisher - Simon Schuster

Source - Book shop

Blurb from Goodreads

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

My Review

Meet Joe Goldberg, Joe is working in a bookstore when sees her, from the first sentence we see Beck through Joe's eyes. Cataloging her dress, her expression, her book choice, her interaction with him we see how it all kicks off. Joe stalks Beck and starts sculpting himself to be her perfect man. Page by page we are drawn further into Joe's world and watch as he goes to deprived lengths to get exactly what he wants, Beck.

This book is absolutely not for the faint hearted or easily offended. There is a lot of sex, masturbation, depravity, the C word which many find offensive as well as other derogatory words for the female anatomy, some of which feature within the first 14 pages! I think it is to show just how dark, depraved and creepy Joe actually is and as the tale unfolds it he gets darker and creepier. His obsession with Beck knows no limits and nothing and no one will get in his way.

It isn't too often we get a book where we see the tale from within the psychopaths perspective particularly as Joe thinks his behaviour and actions are completely normal for someone "in love". There isn't a rapid decent into madness it is just a constant stream of interactions, actions and situations and how Joe reacts to them. Some of it is disgusting and horrifying particularly as Joe deems it all as normal. Whilst you want to put the book down and go give your eyes, brain and soul a shower you can't help but turning page after page to see what comes next. Apparently there is another book after this one, I can't imagine where the book will go but I think I have to read it to find out what comes next, 4/5 for me this time. This was my first encounter with this author, with themes of a strong sexual nature, stalking, violence, murder and very disturbing "acts of love" this is to be approached with caution.

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Saturday, 9 September 2017

Blood Daughter by Dreda Say Mitchell

Blood Daughter (Flesh and Blood Trilogy #3)Blood Daughter by Dreda Say Mitchell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - dipped in and out over 3 days

Pages - 400

Publisher - Hodder

Source - BookBridgr

Blurb from Goodreads

They say blood is thicker than water.
That's not going to stop it being spilled.

Life hasn't been easy for the Miller family. Finally, mum Babs has had one bit of luck. She plans to share the profits with her daughters. She thought they'd be pleased...

But money always causes trouble, especially when it's desperately needed. Jen wants to make a better life for her kids. Tiff owes a lot of bad men a lot of money. And Dee is worried that her husband is getting back into the criminal life.

As the sisters fall out, a gold bullion heist brings more opportunities - and many more dangers. None of them are giving up without a fight...

My review

Guys this is book three in a trilogy, if you haven't read the previous two I advise you to do so. You can get away with reading this one off the bat as it does give you history of that which has passed. However, I think in order to fully appreciate the things the characters do and full impact of it you should have vested in the previous books. Babs is still in the jail but has come into a bit of money and wants to share it with her daughters. As you know money always causes issues and this family was already packing enough baggage for a whole crew! Jen, Tiff and Dee have very different attitudes towards what should happen to the money as well as their own personal dramas. As the tension builds between the siblings danger is lurking around the corner and no one has anyones back!

I do love the Miller family, they really have been through the mill already and the book is broken into different issues. Babs coping (or trying to) in jail, the sibling rivalry, the sisters personal issues, Dee's husband keeping away from the life and all manners of skulduggery. Like an onion there are many layers to the book, love, lies, violence, secrets, the past coming back to bite you in the bottom and death. You would think by the third book the story would be starting to slow or the author run out of ideas, not in this trio. The book keeps packing punches, hooking the reader and keeping the pace page after page.

I have read a few of Mitchell's books and have another couple on the tbr, each book is fresh and for this one giving some closure and rounding up a fabulous tale. You won't be disappointed and I cannot wait to see what Mitchell has next for us, 4/5 for me this time. Thanks so much to BookBridgr for providing me with a review copy! Blood Daughter is available to buy now from all good retailers, paperback and kindle.

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Friday, 8 September 2017

Book event - Games People Play by Owen Mullen

So I have the book on my TBRRM (to be read review mountain) and have a fair few in front of it, however after attending the event I think I need to do a big of rejigging.

Owen was interviewed by the lovely Sharon Bairden from the blog "Chapter in my life" if you like crime and haven't read her reviews, please nip over for a visit. I also met some lovely folks from The Crime Book Club on Facebook and TBConFB. I met the lovely Andrew from CBC and found out he has a blog, Book n beer which is a fantastic idea, recommending a book AND a beer! And if that wasn't enough the lovely James who works in Waterstones is back working at the store.

Sharon had some belting questions for Owen and then opened it up to the audience, I got a wee video and uploaded it to my Instagram

Owen told us about his journey from independently published to being picked up by a publisher, his football team, a wee bit of his history and his experience with a negative, short and hillarious "review".

And here is Princess Trixie with Owen's book, will post my review once I get around to reading it. If you haven't been to a book event or an author event at Waterstones I highly recommend it!.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Q&A with author Jackie Baldwin

Thanks to Jackie for taking the time out to answer my questions and sending healing vibes your way xxx

How did you get the writing bug?

From the encouragement given to me by my teacher in primary 3, I think. She loved my stories and also put on a little play I wrote at the end of term. Her parting shot to me was that I should be a writer when I grew up. The seed just grew from there.

Where did the idea for Dead Man’s Prayer come from?

I suppose with your first book in particular you write the book you want to read so I threw a lot of stuff in there that I’ve always been interested in like twins, the corrosive nature of guilt, the ‘otherness’ of Catholic priests, our capacity for redemption and the devastation wrought by mental illness.

Religion plays a big part in the story, what made you go for this theme?

I attended the local Benedictine Convent in Dumfries from the age of five. Although the nuns themselves were lovely, back then Catholic education was quite extreme for an imaginative, impressionable child with a literal mind and it had a profound effect on me. At the age of eight I would lie awake agonising about whether I would be brave enough not to walk over the crucifix if the ‘Commies’ burst into my class and held a gun to my head. I would sit in my bedroom having called down God to one side of the wardrobe and the Devil to the other and try and get them to reconcile to bring about world peace. I also developed the habit of walking with my eyes cast down in case I looked up and saw the words, ‘Thou shalt be a nun!’ writ large in the sky, as you don’t get to say ‘no’ to God. I suppose all that guilt and angst had to bubble to the surface some time, hence the arrival of DI Farrell. Also, I felt that such a character offered the reader something a little different.

Do you see this being a long series?

I honestly have no idea as I think that will be determined by readers, rather than me. I certainly have plenty of ideas. The arrival of Police (Scotland) rather lobbed a grenade at crime writers who set their books in more rural areas. The second book in the series is set just before it comes into being but if I write a third I will require to have DI Farrell and DS McLeod based in the central belt and send them down as part of an investigative team. However, I feel that new dynamic would keep things fresh and provide plenty of scope for conflict so I would relish the challenge.

What are you currently writing?

I have just finished the second DI Farrell novel. The next thing I write is going to be something completely different and will be set in the Highlands.

Do you have any rituals or quirks you need to do before starting or finishing writing?

No, not really. I do seem to be able to shift industrial quantities of biscuits and coffee while I am writing though. I think it’s about procrastination as much as anything else. I’m about to start a new health and fitness regime though so I will have to learn to embrace my inner raw carrot instead.

Who is your go to author?

I like to read a variety of books. When I was younger I would become crazy for one author at a time and binge read all their books to the point that I would put myself off which was really annoying. I would say that on the crime front, my favourite author at the moment is Susie Steiner as I loved her book ‘Missing Presumed.’

What is your favourite/most recommended book?

‘The Rosie Project’ by Graeme Simsion.

Where can fans find you?

I am on Twitter @JackieMBaldwin1 I have a Facebook Page at Jackie Baldwin Author and a website at I love to hear from people. Writing can be a lonely business.

Anything else you would like to add I may have missed?

I would just like to thank you for having me on your blog, Lainey. It’s been fun!

And if it isn't enough bringing you a Q&AI am offering up my pre-loved copy as a giveaway. As always enter via the rafflecopter (below), open to all. Good luck and thanks for stopping by xxx

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Book Launch - Smile by Roddy Doyle

Hosted in the fabulous Waterstones, Sauchieshall street in Glasgow City Centre.

So tonight I went to see the fabulous Roddy Doyle. Famous for so many works but for me The Woman Who Walked into Doors, I read this as a teenager. The movie (it was a book first), The Van - which I learned last night is part of a trilogy in a book series, guess who has ordered that!

The man himself is a legend, I have always had a fondness for any accent but the irish accent I could listen to all day. If you haven't heard him speak or about his new book, I put a wee quick video up on my Instagram (Always_Reading) so you can have a wee listen.

Smile is the newest book, this is the Blurb from Amazon.

Smile has all the features for which Roddy Doyle has become famous: the razor-sharp dialogue, the humour, the superb evocation of childhood – but this is a novel unlike any he has written before. When you finish the last page you will have been challenged to re-evaluate everything you think you remember so clearly.

Just moved in to a new apartment, alone for the first time in years, Victor Forde goes every evening to Donnelly’s pub for a pint, a slow one.

One evening his drink is interrupted. A man in shorts and pink shirt brings over his pint and sits down. He seems to know Victor’s name and to remember him from school. Says his name is Fitzpatrick.

Victor dislikes him on sight, dislikes too the memories that Fitzpatrick stirs up of five years being taught by the Christian Brothers.

He prompts other memories too – of Rachel, his beautiful wife who became a celebrity, and of Victor’s own small claim to fame, as the man who says the unsayable on the radio.

But it’s the memories of school, and of one particular Brother, that he cannot control and which eventually threaten to destroy his sanity.

He read a passage from the new book and whilst it has been years since I read Doyle, it made me want to buy all the old books again and even the ones I have read. I bought the hardback edition of the new book and whilst I am drowning in review books (and the hundreds I keep buying), I need to bump this up the review list!

Smile is out to buy from all good bookstores now, in Hardback edition. If you have already read it or a fan please let me know which books are your favourite.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Alien Covenant by Alan Dean Foster

Alien: Covenant - The Official Movie NovelizationAlien: Covenant - The Official Movie Novelization by Alan Dean Foster
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 345

Publisher - Titan Books

Source - Book shop

Blurb from Goodreads

Ridley Scott returns to the universe he created, with Alien: Covenant, a new chapter in his groundbreaking Alien adventure. The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise. But it is actually a dark, dangerous world.

When they uncover a threat beyond their imaginations, they must attempt a harrowing escape.

Acclaimed author Alan Dean Foster also returns to the universe he first encountered with the official novelization of the original Alien film. Alien: Covenant is the pivotal adventure that preceded that seminal film, and leads to the events that will yield one of the most terrifying sagas of all time.

My Review

So if you have seen the movie Alien Covenant you pretty much know everything that is coming in the book, it is a novelization of the film. However, there are wee snippets that are new, the movie starts with David, the synthetic, coming to and speaking to his creator. In the book we get a little bit more insight to this, story tweaks and that is why I do love reading books of movies I have enjoyed, you do get changes and wee bits more information.

So, Prometheus we saw Doctor Elizabeth Shaw and David left alive, this book/movie opens with another synthetic, identical to David however this is Walter and a new crew and ship. The crew are headed to a destination with colonists asleep on board. When the ship comes across a signal and investigate the planet it looks even better than their destination. However they are attacked, injured and come across David from Prometheus but no sign of Doctor Shaw. As David starts to tell them of his time on the planet and the creatures they have just escaped the crew find themselves in danger from all corners.

Oooooh I do love Alien movies and after reading this one I want to see if there are more of these books for the previous movies. There are quite a few subtle changes and I think, for the most part, they work better with the book. I won't go into them as I don't do spoiler reviews however we are offered more insight into David, his motives and rational and his relationship with Doctor Shaw.

Atmospheric, tense, dark, deaths abundance and if you enjoy the movie(s) I think you will enjoy the book as I feel you do get more out of it. The only thing I would *warn* about is a rape type reference that unless I missed it I don't think was in the movie. I also don't think it particularly added anything except a bit more bizarre behaviour for what it is referenced to and it isn't anything in any kind of detail. The interactions and scenes with David and Walter were really good and I would have liked a bit more between the two synthetics because they were so alike and so different in many respects, their scenes together highlighted so much contrasts. 3.5 stars for me this time, despite only watching the movie last week I was still drawn in and turning page after page wanting to see what was coming even though I knew. I will be looking more up by this author and absolutely checking out more in the series.

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Saturday, 2 September 2017

The Treatment by C L Taylor

The TreatmentThe Treatment by C.L. Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - approx 3 hours

Pages - 384

Publisher - HQ

Source - Netgalley

Blurb from Goodreads

“You have to help me. We’re not being reformed. We’re being brainwashed.”

All sixteen year old Drew Finch wants is to be left alone. She's not interested in spending time with her mum and stepdad and when her disruptive fifteen year old brother Mason is expelled from school for the third time and sent to a residential reform academy she's almost relieved.

Everything changes when she's followed home from school by the mysterious Dr Cobey, who claims to have a message from Mason. There is something sinister about the ‘treatment’ he is undergoing. The school is changing people.

Determined to help her brother, Drew must infiltrate the Academy and unearth its deepest, darkest secrets.

Before it’s too late.

My Review

When Drew's little brother gets shipped to the RRA (residential reform academy) she is a tad relieved. He is troublesome, irritating and all the things little brothers can be, more so since their father left/went missing/died? years ago. When a doctor warns Drew her brother is in danger and the academy isn't what it seems Drew embarks on a mission to save her brother but at what cost?

I read this in one sitting, whilst the book is YA (Young Adult) it absolutely can be enjoyed by adults, I sank it in about three hours. Drew starts digging into what the academy is but despite many successfully reformed kids there does not seem to be a lot of information, if any, on the social medias. When Drew sees "evidence" with her own eyes she knows she has to get into the academy. The story starts off giving us insight into Drew's life, her family home set up and her chain of thought on how to tackle the situation. It is a tense build up and split into two parts, the before and infiltration, the after and what life is like inside the academy. In some parts the hair starts to stand up on the back of your neck, things aren't right, the plot is teased out page by page to discover just what is happening.

I didn't want to put the book down as I had to know, where is this going, what is happening, who can I/she trust? Thankfully yesterday was a day off so I could zone out and devour the story. It is a steady paced read in that the reader is took on the journey with the main character, having to go through the plan stage by stage creating distrust and holding your breath at parts. There are themes that cater for the teen reader, childish bullying, friend turned enemy, bitching, who fancies who but it doesn't detract from the bulk of the thriller theme. It is enough for the aimed at audience and relevant whilst not detracting from the main story that will engage the adult reader. To be honest, I think even the themes for the younger readers will spark old memories within the mature reader and it wasn't so long ago that I couldn't empathise with Drew or the issues raised.

I have liked all of Taylor's books I have read, I was a bit apprehensive going into this one, when an author branches into new territory as a reader you do worry. Will they be able to capture the new voice and writing, can they engage the reader as they have done in previous genre? Absolutely unfounded worries, Taylor has shown she can turn her hand to YA as well as psychological thrillers, 4/5 for me this time. Now to wait *patiently* for her to get the next book out, be it YA or her normal genre I cannot wait. Thanks so much to Netgalley for providing a review copy, you can buy your own now from all good retailers from October this year.

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Friday, 1 September 2017

Without A Trace by Lesley Pearse

Without a TraceWithout a Trace by Lesley Pearse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off over 5 days

Publisher - Penguin

Pages - 416

Source - Book shop

Blurb from Goodreads

Coronation Day, 1953.

Molly Heywood has always been a pillar of strength for her local community, so when her friend Cassie fails to attend the Coronation Day party in the village, it is Molly who heads out in the rain to look for her.

But nothing can prepare Molly for what she is going to discover.

Now with Cassie gone and her six-year-old daughter Petal missing, it is up to Molly to head to London to uncover the past Cassie kept so well hidden.

But will Molly discover the truth before it's too late? Or has Petal disappeared forever?

My Review

Molly is one of the naive and sweetest characters I have read in a while, her friend Cassie is wild, is a single mother and prefers the company of men to women. When Cassie is found murdered and her child missing Molly can't let things go. The investigation fizzles out but Molly can't let go. Leaving home to get away from her abusive father, make a life for herself whilst still holding out hope of finding little Petal, Molly embarks on a journey that will force her to grow up and see the real dangers outside a little town.

As always, I do love Pearse's books, she brings the time period alive by highlighting either events happening at the time or bringing forth the attitudes and prejudices of that era. Molly is a great character, she is so innocent and despite having a stunting and hateful force in her home kind and trusting to all she meets. The book touches on violence, racism, homophobia, murder, some of the attitudes and issues reflected from that time period. The main focus of the story though is the journey and personal growth of Molly, a sweet and relatively sheltered girl who experiences things that shape and form the woman she becomes. In between that is the mystery of Cassie, who she was, what she ran from, her secrets, her child and life lessons that are still very applicable in this day and age.

The pace is possibly slow in parts for some readers as the book takes its time to reveal its secrets, with personal growth and character self discovery you do find it slower compared to murder/thriller. However Pearse creates characters you invest in and finds you turning page after page to find out what happens and, for me, to get Cassie's back story. Some parts may make for uncomfortable reading as Molly gets involved in a few dangerous or upsetting situations, reflective I felt of real life issues for a young woman alone. Otherwise another fabulous tale from this author, if you have read her before you know what you are getting. If this would be your first dance with this author she carves great tales with happiness, sadness and looks at characters from the best and worst sides of humanity, 4/5 for me this time.

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