Tuesday, 21 September 2021

A Mother's Secret by Kitty Neale Blog tour

Today is my stop on the blog tour for A Mother's Secret by Kitty Neale. Please check out the other stops on the blog tour as we offer different content.

For my stop I have my review, enjoy. The book is available to buy NOW on AMAZON UK.

A Mother's Secret: The Battersea Tavern Series (Book 1) (Battersea Tavern 1)A Mother's Secret: The Battersea Tavern Series (Book 1) by Kitty Neale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - in and out over 3 days

Pages - 305

Publisher - Orion

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Amazon

Can she put right the secrets of the past?

London, 1939. Winnie Berry has been the landlady of the Battersea Tavern for nearly twenty-five years, and the pub is like home to her - a place of tears and laughter, full of customers that feel like family. A place where she's learned to avoid the quick fists of her husband, and where she's raised her beloved son, David.

He's inherited his father's lazy streak and can't seem to hold down a job, but when war is declared Winnie is determined to keep her son safe. She's still haunted by the choice she made years ago as a desperate young woman, and she won't make the same mistake of letting her family be taken from her...

But when a young woman crosses her path, the secrets of Winnie's past threaten to turn her world upside down. There's nothing stronger than a mother's love - but can it ever have a second chance?

The first book in The Battersea Tavern series

My Review

This is my first ever Kitty Neale book, set just before world war two we meet Winnie, she runs the Battersea Tavern. Her aggressive and known to be violent husband stays behind the scenes letting Winnie do all the hard graft. She dotes on her only son, David, an attractive (and he knows it) spoilt man child who thinks nothing of using his looks and mothers good nature to skate by in life. Rachel is her dab hand barmaid who works hard, is respectable and has her own family nightmare, her sister Hilda, sober she is the sweetest and kindest, drunk she opens her mouth and embarrasses and hurts poor Rachel with her bile. We also meet sweet Jan as she starts up an innocent relationship with one of the regulars in the Tavern. As the story develops we get to meet the characters and more of their lives, belt up and prefer for an emotive ride.

Aw you guys, Winnie is a wee soul, wholesome, she has such a kind heart and always wants to do for others, her goodness is emphasized by the shady characters around her. We see the community in the build up to the war, the disbelief it will come to be and how it affects those in and around Winnie's life. A chance encounter sees Winnie have to face the past and the ripples it creates in her present day life, secrets have a habit of always coming out and it isn't just Winnie who has secrets!

This book pulls you in the pretty much the beginning! There are so many themes touched upon and Neale captures that time period and gives it an authentic voice/feel. I wanted to reach in and slap a few of the characters, honestly the best and worst sides of humanity. An emotive ride for sure, I think depending on your background and life experiences you will find some of the storylines resonate more than others yet all you can either relate to or absorb.

I am finding reading quite hard just now, reading is my go time when times are tough and yet just now my concentration is out the window. I think had this been normal times for me I would have gotten through this in one sitting. Neale creates a world of characters that lets you step outside of your own and enter theirs. Horrific sides of humanity and some of the best, a great blend for an absorbing read, 4.5/5 for me this time. As I said this is my first time reading this author, book two in this series is not out nor a date given, I will be very much watching for it. I will absolutely be checking out her other books!

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Monday, 13 September 2021

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

The End of MenThe End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Pages - 416

Publisher - Doubleday

Source - Netgalley

Blurb from Goodreads

Set in a world where a virus stalks our male population, The End of Men is an electrifying and unforgettable debut from a remarkable new talent that asks: what would life truly look like without men?

Only men are affected by the virus; only women have the power to save us all.

The year is 2025, and a mysterious virus has broken out in Scotland--a lethal illness that seems to affect only men. When Dr. Amanda MacLean reports this phenomenon, she is dismissed as hysterical. By the time her warning is heeded, it is too late. The virus becomes a global pandemic--and a political one. The victims are all men. The world becomes alien--a women's world.

What follows is the immersive account of the women who have been left to deal with the virus's consequences, told through first-person narratives. Dr. MacLean; Catherine, a social historian determined to document the human stories behind the male plague; intelligence analyst Dawn, tasked with helping the government forge a new society; and Elizabeth, one of many scientists desperately working to develop a vaccine. Through these women and others, we see the uncountable ways the absence of men has changed society, from the personal--the loss of husbands and sons--to the political--the changes in the workforce, fertility and the meaning of family.

In The End of Men, Christina Sweeney-Baird creates an unforgettable tale of loss, resilience and hope.

My Review

I do like a book where we start at the beginning, the plague such as it is, we see the patient in A&E going from flu to at deaths door in under 4 hours. How the doctors review to see what they missed because patients don't deteriorate like that without warning (usually) and the doctor flagging the plague and being ignored.

I liked that you can see how easy something like this could happen and bizarre how she started this before covid kicked off yet you can relate to so much. We flip between characters, families, people dying, losing their loved ones. The governments responses, how people react/respond, it is really dark and dire in some places but also great shows of strength and I love how strong the women become. In a world where men are dropping like flies we need women to step up, quickly train and take the reins.

It took a bit to settle when the story jumped from different people and view points but it was interesting to see such far reach. Couples, the doctor, how the losses impact on relationships and individuals, the route to working on the vaccine. How scary it would be to loose so many specialised trained males and scrambling to get their replacements, women or the little surviving men, up to speed.

It gives you a lot to think about, I know for some it may be too close to the current pandemic but I think it highlights how much worse things could be and insane how there are similarities! 3.5/5 for me this time. It certainly doesn't read like a debut, it is very well rounded, I look forward to this authors next offering.

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Friday, 10 September 2021

True Story by Katie Reed Petty

True StoryTrue Story by Kate Reed Petty
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 386

Publisher - Riverrun

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Tracing the fifteen-year fallout of a toxic high school rumor, a riveting, astonishingly original debut novel about the power of stories—and who gets to tell them

2015. A gifted and reclusive ghostwriter, Alice Lovett makes a living helping other people tell their stories. But she is haunted by the one story she can't tell: the story of, as she puts it, "the things that happened while I was asleep."

1999. Nick Brothers and his lacrosse teammates return for their senior year at their wealthy Maryland high school as the reigning state champions. They're on top of the world—until two of his friends drive a passed-out girl home from of the team's "legendary" parties, and a rumor about what happened in the backseat spreads through the town like wildfire.

The boys deny the allegations, and, eventually, the town moves on. But not everyone can. Nick descends into alcoholism, and Alice builds a life in fits and starts, underestimating herself and placing her trust in the wrong people. When she finally gets the opportunity to confront the past she can't remember—but which has nevertheless shaped her life—will she take it?

An inventive and breathtaking exploration of a woman finding her voice in the wake of trauma, True Story is part psychological thriller, part fever dream, and part timely comment on sexual assault, power, and the very nature of truth. Ingeniously constructed and full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the final pages, it marks the debut of a singular and daring new voice in fiction.

My Review

Is I had to describe this book in one word I would say trippy. The book goes over multiple timelines, character narratives - first person narration, movie scripts, essays in different drafts, emails so it is quite a mixed bag. Prologue is present day (ish) then a movie (script) then 1999 when the event happened that plays such a huge part in so many lives. A young girl passed out drunk, two young guys alone with her in a car and lots of rumours of a sexual assualt, bragging and pack/popularity mentality. We then flip forward again and follow one of the friends of the boys as an adult and how his life is going.

The book touches on a lot of triggering issues, sexual abuse and the popular kicks attitudes to it, alcoholism, animlal abuse/death, self harm, control, coercion, manipulation and the long reaches that one night, one incident can have on more than one person.

It took me ages to settle into it, the changes in time, in layout, in characters however once I could work out who was who and what was going on it made more sense. Certainly a different read and it crosses genres as some passages, the movie scripts are spooky, haunting, horror but then the story itself is an abusive event and how it affected those involved. You really need to concentrate, well I did, to keep up with it. It isn't a book you can dip in and out of as so much happens in so many directions. Different, weird, tripping, thought provoking, I think it would be a very good choice for a reading/discussion group, 3.5/5 for me this time.

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Thursday, 2 September 2021

Quite Ugly One Morning by Christopher Brookmyre

Quite Ugly One MorningQuite Ugly One Morning by Christopher Brookmyre
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 6 hours I think it was

Pages - ?

Publisher - Hachette books audio

Source - Audible

Blurb from Goodreads

Yeah, yeah, the usual. A crime. A corpse. A killer. Heard it. Except this stiff happens to be a Ponsonby, scion of a venerable Edinburgh medical clan, and the manner of his death speaks of unspeakable things. Why is the body displayed like a slice of beef? How come his hands are digitally challenged? And if it's not the corpse, what is that awful smell? A post-Thatcherite nightmare of frightening plausibility, Quite Ugly One Morning is a wickedly entertaining and vivacious thriller, full of acerbic wit, cracking dialogue, and villains both reputed and shell-suited.

My Review

Book one of Jack Parlabane, the journalist with a knack for being in the wrong place and the wrong time, or the right place for a story? This is my first ever audiobook, my o/h got this for us driving home (signal often cuts out on the radio). We have both read this book, years ago so knew we liked it and when we saw David Tennant was the narrator, win win.

If you aren't familiar with Brookmyre, especially these earlier books - they are laced with Glasweigan style humour, swearing, shade, cheek, murder and Parlabane is right in the thick of it all. There is so much banter, we laughed out loud despite knowing some of what was coming.

If you are easily offended this book is so not for you. If you don't mind the darker side of Scots banter and potty mouth, with a murder and dodgy characters you will love this. I think I want to reacquaint with the Parlabane books, I have read most but not all of them, 4.5/5 for us this time. I am not a convert to audio books as I listened to samplers of a few others and hated the narrator voices. I would absolutely read/listen to more by Tennant for sure!

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Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Twisted Lies by Angela Marsons

Twisted Lies (DI Kim Stone, #14)Twisted Lies by Angela Marsons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 410

Publisher - Bookouture

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Time taken to read - 6 hours I think it was

Pages - ?

Publisher - Hachette books audio

Source - Audible

Blurb from Goodreads

Her stomach lurches as she sits in the windowless room. He throws her phone to the ground, grinds it against the floor with the heel of his shoe and brings his face closer to hers. There was no turning back now, her life as she knew it was gone.

When the lifeless body of a man is found on an industrial estate, Detective Kim Stone arrives on the scene and discovers he’s been tortured in the worst way imaginable.

But as she breaks the devastating news to the victim’s wife, Diane Phipps, Kim can’t help feeling that something isn’t quite right about the woman's reaction.

Twenty-four hours later, the victim’s family disappears into thin air.

Then a second body is found staked to the ground in a local nature reserve.

Desperate to crack the case open quickly, Kim and her team unravel a vital clue – a fiercely guarded secret that links both victims and could cost even more lives.

A secret that some police officers are also protecting.

Faced with deceit from those she should be able to trust, family members who won’t talk, and local reporter, Tracy Frost, opening a can of worms on the case of a woman murdered by her husband a year ago – Kim is in deep water like never before.

Kim must find the motive if she is to find the killer who is systematically targeting and torturing his victims. But can she unlock the shocking truth and stop him before he strikes again?

My Review

I love the Kim Stone books, this is the fourteenth in the series and I am loving them as much now as when I started. Stone is in the thick of a murder investigation, with the team, called to a new body/site however this time she has a tagalong she would rather have papped at the office. Arriving at the scene throws them all in a spin for the horror of what has been done to the victim. Not before long another body is found, horrifically murdered - a different style from the first and the family of victim one has vanished. As the team try to investigate they find themselves obstructed and dealing with other agencies. All Stone wants to do is her job and people keep getting in her way.

We see Frost (the nightmare reporter) a good bit in this one and we see a different side to her. She gets wrapped up in a case, a guy accused of killing his mrs but he has money, publicity and Frost soon finds anyone digging into his past or unfavourable publicity runs the risk of injury/accidents.

The book flips between Frost and Stone's investigations, guys the killings are really brutal. One I was so glad I had finished my lunch before picking the book up and that doesn't happen to me often, I love horror etc so have a strong stomach but ooft, brutal. Stone for me is such a great character, despite being reserved, even cold at times, she is such a "good guy" and does the right thing even if she would rather patch it. I LOVE her relationship with her dog and the way she is with her team. A busy book, murders, team work, elements of domestic abuse, murder, graphic mutilations to bodies and as usual bits and bobs within the team. 4/5 for me this time, there is a prequel type book where it goes back before book one, I apparently bought it ages ago so need to dig it out. I really enjoy stepping into their world and seeing what is coming next for the squad!

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Friday, 27 August 2021

August's Eyes by Glenn Rolfe blog tour

Today is my turn and closing the blog tour for August Eye's by author Glen Rolfe, for my stop I have my review, enjoy.

About The Author:

Glenn Rolfe is an author from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona,and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.

The book is available to buy now, click HERE for Amazon UK.

August's EyesAugust's Eyes by Glenn Rolfe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 228

Publisher - Flame Tree Press

Source - ARC

Blurb from Goodreads

"An intense tale reminiscent of classic works by Jack Ketchum or Stephen King" — Booklist

When dreams start bleeding into reality, a social worker is forced to face the mistakes of his past.

A serial killer has found a way to make his land of graveyards a sinister playground to be bent at his sadistic will.

The secrets behind August's eyes will bring two worlds together, and end in a cataclysm of pain and ruin.

My Review

Sometimes we have a dream that stays with us for the rest of the day, a dream that freaks you out, that gives you the heebies. Meet John, that is exactly what is happening to him, the dreams are getting more frequent and creepy. When he thinks he sees one of the boys from his dreams, in real life he really starts freaking out, is he losing it? As the dreams become more vivid and John attempts to deal with his issues and the dreams he starts to realise that sometimes you can't escape the past and actions have consequences.

Heads up guys there is a creepy pervert pedophile bad guy, he doesn't appear a whole lot but the theme is relevant to the story and we do hear from the scumbag at points. The dreamland we visit via John, as a kid, is creepy, haunting, eerie and sets up the atmospheric spooky vibes that are laced throughout the book. There are also nods to movies and songs, I love this in a book, I end up telling Alexa to play them and movies or books I tend to look up. These type of references or casual mentions tends, well for me anyway, to fire up some memories - I grew up on old school horror!

We are introduced to horror in human form then normal life/relationships for the main character as things start to slowly edge in and become freaky/dark. I love when a book builds up like that, you get to know the characters, care for them or not, then things start to unravel and descend.

Rolfe is a new author for me, I enjoyed the chilling vibes and hair raising moments that brought normal life to the supernatural. Dreams or rather nightmares have always been a good way for stories/movies to go, you are so vulnerable when you are asleep so it adds to the horror/fear. The book seems to add a dash of some many things, some crime, depravity, creepy crawlies, supernatural and crosses over to John's normal waking day, I really liked it. August's Eyes is my first dance with this author, I will be checking out his other offerings for sure, 4/5 for me this time!

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Monday, 23 August 2021

Deadly Decisions by Kathy Reichs

Deadly Decisions (Temperance Brennan, #3)Deadly Decisions by Kathy Reichs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 416

Publisher - Arrow

Source - Bought

Blurb from Goodreads

A nine-year old girl dies on her way to ballet class, caught in outlaw biker crossfire. Violence is spilling on to the streets of Montreal and Dr Temperance Brennan, forensic anthropologist for the state, has to pick up the pieces.

She knows she shouldn't let emotion get in the way of her role as scientist, but when nine-year-old Emily's body is wheeled into the morgue she cannot help but react. Tempe's nephew, Kit, is mesmerised by motorcycles. Does he understand the dangers posed by the outlaw gangs?

An exhumation uncovers the bones of another innocent, hidden in a clandestine grave close to a biker headquarters. With her boss in the hospital and her sparring partner Andrew Ryan disturbingly unavailable, Tempe begins a perilous investigation into a lawless underworld of organised crime.

My review

This book has been on my shelves for years so it was really nice to reacquaint with Tempe, Doctor Temperance Brennan, bone doctor /forensic anthropologist. A nine year old little girl is killed when rival biker gangs target each other and she is caught in the crossfire. Tempe helps the team investigate and get answers on some bones linked with one of the gangs. Along with this her young nephew has come to town and has a keen interest in motorbikes but he wouldn't get caught up with the wrong people surely. Trying to do her job, look out for her family and then her relationship with her boyfriend takes an unexpected surprise.

I love the way you sink into some books, Tempe is very thorough in her job so we learn a wee bit of something with each body she examines. The book has lots going on, her and the cop rubbing the wrong way, her family life/relationships and then the unexpected turn with the boyfriend.

Rival gangs are dangerous territory and with Tempe being on the news that adds another level of danger for her. The book is busy, paced and keeps you hooked because there is so much going on at each turn. I have a fair few of these on the tbrm and although I have been known to read out of sequence but I think the next few are in order. Looking forward to picking the next one up, 4/5 for me this time.

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