Monday 30 December 2013

ARC - Dead Gone by Luca Veste

Dead GoneDead Gone by Luca Veste
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off for 2 weeks

Publisher - AVON

Blurb from Goodreads

DI David Murphy and DC Laura Rossi investigate the murder of a student at the City of Liverpool University. Attached to her is a letter from her killer, which details a famous unethical psychological experiment performed on the victim, resulting in her death. Convinced at first that the murderer is someone close and known to the victim, Murphy dismisses the letter as a bid to throw them off the scent…until more bodies are found, each with their own letter attached.

On the other side of the city, Rob Barker, an admin worker at the university, is dealing with his own loss. His partner has been missing for almost a year, with suspicion from all around her firmly pointed at him.

As the two seemingly unconnected events collide, it becomes apparent Murphy is chasing a killer unlike any he’s faced before.

One who kills to discover more about life..

My Review

A serial killer is loose in Liverpool, using innocent people to conduct horrific experiments on and leaving letters to taunt the police. DI David Murphy and his sidekick DC Laura Rossi are on the case trying to work out the killers motivation and victim selection process. The clock is ticking before another body shows up and another innocent person is snatched, the public wants answers, the press is relentless and the pressure is on the police.

For a debut novel it does quite well to grab and pull you in. Rob Barker is a main feature in this tale, his partner went missing and for a while he was a suspect. Almost a year has passed and he knows she is still around, with the murders being linked to his university the police are soon interested in speaking to him again. The story flips from the detectives, to Rob Barker, to the killer and back to one of the victims that we follow from the beginning. I think that is one of my complaints about the story, the chapters are well labeled so you know who it is talking but it jumps around a bit much for me.

The attacks are quite brutal and the pace goes along fairly quickly to keep the reader interested. DI Murphy has a shadow hanging over him that is referred to during the story but the reader doesn't find out until later what the chat is with that. I also felt it speeded up toward the end with the conclusion although it did have a few surprises along the way. Overall, I quite enjoyed it and would rate it as a 3/5. Thanks so much to AVON publishers for providing me with this ARC, you can buy this title yourself from all good retailers from 16th January, 2014.

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Sunday 1 December 2013

December's giveaway is open

I was hoping to giveaway a Christmas themed book for December but it hasn't worked out due to time constrictions amidst a few others reasons. So there is a £5 Amazon voucher instead that you can hopefully buy a Christmas read with, or whatever you wish.

I normally run competitions to the end of the month so there should be a few January sales on when the competition has ended. All you need is a valid email address and if you wish to increase your chances, use the additional entries on the raffle copter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway This competition is open to all, good luck and thank you for entering and the continued support. All the normal rules apply unless stated otherwise and as always thank you for stopping by.

PRR - Everyone Lies by A.D. Garrett

Everyone LiesEveryone Lies by A. D. Garrett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - dipped in and out over 7 days

Publisher - Constable & Robinson (C & R Crime)

Blurb from the back cover

DI Kate Simms is on the fast track to nowhere. Five years ago she helped a colleague when she shouldn't have. She's been clawing her way back from a demotion ever since. Professor Nick Fennimore is a failed genetics student, successful gambler, betting agent, crime scene officer, chemistry graduate, toxicology specialist and one-time scientific advisor to the National Crime Faculty. He is the best there is, but ever since his wife and daughter disappeared he's been hiding away in Scotland, working as a forensics lecturer.

In Manchester, drug addicts are turning up dead and Simms' superior is only too pleased to hand the problem to her. Then a celebrity dies and the media gets interested. Another overdose victim shows up, but this time the woman has been systematically beaten and all identifying features removed. The evidence doesn't add up; Simms' superiors seem to be obstructing her investigation; and the one person she can't afford to associate with is the one man who can help: Fennimore.

My Review

Professor Nick Fennimore has a previous and tainted relationship with our main character DI Kate Simms. Kate needs help with an investigation where people on the force are just waiting for her to fail. Nick has a soft spot for Kate, forensic science is his thing and access to equipment to help with the case, together the two of them work together to try and crack the case. Despite things seeming to solve themselves, Kate can't help but dig deeper putting herself and her associates in danger.

This is a great wee debut novel, it starts fairly quick with a good introduction to the main characters. Despite being the first book, the two have a previous relationship one that came under scrutiny from the police. This is linked back to and referred to at points throughout the book although not explained in full, I am hoping the next book will be a kick back to this.

The book looks at the underbelly of crime, prostitution, drugs, violence, murder and relationships set in Manchester. It is engaging, gritty and had life not got in the way I could have got through this in a day. I would have liked to have gotten the full back story on what happened with Nick, Kate and the circumstances surrounding their previous relationship and what happened 4 years ago. There are snippets of information which was a little irritating as you want to know but I think the authors have done well in building the suspense.

There are a few twists in the book and quite a bit of interesting information to be learned about forensics dotted throughout which I quite enjoyed. Overall a really good introductory book, I would certainly follow this series and would recommend it to any crime lovers. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review and introducing me to a new author, 4/5 for me this time.

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Saturday 23 November 2013

NR - Yours Truly by Kirsty Greenwood

Yours TrulyYours Truly by Kirsty Greenwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Publisher - PAN

Blurb from Goodreads

Your bum does not look big in that dress.
Mmmm, it tastes delicious!
Of course you're better looking than Jon Hamm.

Newly engaged Natalie Butterworth is an easy-going girl. She'll do anything for a quiet life and if telling a few teensy white lies keeps her friends and family happy, then so what? It's not like they'll ever discover what she's really thinking...

Until one night, thanks to a pub hypnotist, Natalie's most private thoughts begin to bubble up and pop out of her mouth. Things get very messy indeed, especially when some sticky home truths offend her fiancé.

Natalie must track down the hypnotist before her wedding is officially cancelled. So along with bad influence bestie Meg, Natalie finds herself in the Yorkshire Parish of Little Trooley - a small village bursting with big secrets, nosy old folk and intriguing Wellington-wearing men.

When the girls get stuck in the village with no means of escape and no way to break the hypnotist's spell, Natalie is forced to face the truths she has been avoiding her whole life..

My Review

Natalie Butterworth is a people pleaser, she will do almost anything to keep the peace and go out of her way for her loved ones and strangers. Recently engaged and her wedding brought forward her family are helping by taking over all aspects of the wedding and Natalie doesn't want to rock the boat so stays quiet. Meg decide to take Natalie to a hypnotist show and Natalie ends up accidentally getting hypnotized. What follows is utter mayhem, Natalie cannot lie and everything that has annoyed or upset her comes out ten fold when she is asked a question. With hilarious, cringey and upsetting consequences, Natalie must track the hypnotist before her truth telling loses her everything and everyone she cares about.

I got this book as a new release for a fabulous £2 bargain, selling in Tesco under the try this section. I had never heard of the author, a friend recommended and at that price it is hard to say no. From the first couple of pages your pulled in to poor Natalies life, she is such a trier to keep everyone happy, even going to the hairdressers and disliking the service she is too polite to pipe up. She is a very likable character, sweet, tries really hard to loose weight but the love of food always makes saying no to those calories that wee bit too irresistible to say no to. I think everyone could related to Natalie, the annoying family but wanting to do right and look after them. The uber hot boyfriend who is a tad OTT and OCD but feeling he is above her station and he is super hot, you would have to put up with his quirks right?

The journey is one of humour, humility, bad words, sex, friendship, family and moments of social disaster to name but a few of the topics covered in this book. It is a great wee debut novel, it is laugh out loud at some parts, some moral dilemmas and like I said there is bad language and some sex. Overall a great introduction to a new author and I would definitely read more of her work, 4/5 for me this time.

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Review - The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes

The Last Letter from Your LoverThe Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 6 days

Publisher 0 Hodder & Stoughton

Blurb from Goodreads

When journalist Ellie looks through her newspaper's archives for a story, she doesn't think she'll find anything of interest. Instead she discovers a letter from 1960, written by a man asking his lover to leave her husband - and Ellie is caught up in the intrigue of a past love affair. Despite, or perhaps because of her own romantic entanglements with a married man.

In 1960, Jennifer wakes up in hospital after a car accident. She can't remember anything - her husband, her friends, who she used to be. And then, when she returns home, she uncovers a hidden letter, and begins to remember the lover she was willing to risk everything for.

Ellie and Jennifer's stories of passion, adultery and loss are wound together in this richly emotive novel - interspersed with real 'last letters'.

My Review

The book starts with a paragraph from a real life John Doe type letter, email or some other type of correspondence. Except for one which is from the books story, these are at the beginning of each chapter. The story then starts in present day with Ellie Haworth, journalist and lady in love with a man, who happens to be married. There is a little bit of info on her relationship/life before we go to chapter 2 and head back to the 1960s where we meet our main character Jennifer Stirling. Jennifer is married, wealthy and a social butterfly, she has a car accident and some memory loss. The story flicks around a bit between after the accident, before and the time leading up to it. We then come back to Ellie and how the two ladies lives interlink, via some old letters.

I quite liked this book, I have often said Jojo Moyes is one of my favourite authors. I really enjoyed reading about Jennifer's life although the story flicking between the before and after the accident did have me confused momentarily between the time periods. Ellie, we only meet briefly to start with and I can't said I was overly enamored with her character. She has no thought for anything other than herself and her married man. The bulk of the book covers Jennifer's story and then eventually we go back to Ellie. I found this a bit irksome also as by that time I wasn't interested in Ellie and just wanted to know all about Jennifer and Boot.

As Jennifer's story goes along we find out she is also having an affair and slowly the mystery unravels as to how it came to be and what happens between her and Boot. Back in present day Ellie has some thinking to do when she finds some correspondence between old lovers and reassessing her own life.

It is a lovely story with some moral dilemmas, examining adultery back in the 60s and present day. I felt, although Ellie did play a part in the later side of the story, she could easily have been dropped out of it. Or maybe had she had more written about her I may have enjoyed her part more. Either way it is a good read but not a book I would start with if you have read Jojo Moyes before, 3/5 for me this time.

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Thursday 21 November 2013

PRR - Hurt by Brian McGilloway

HurtHurt by Brian McGilloway
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 6 days

Publisher - C& R Crime

Blurb from Goodreads

Lucy Black must protect the young and vulnerable . . . but can she protect herself?

Late December. A sixteen-year-old girl is found dead on a train line. Detective Sergeant Lucy Black is called to identify the body. The only clues to the dead teenager's last movements are stored in her mobile phone and on social media - and it soon becomes clear that her 'friends' were not as trustworthy as she thought. Lucy is no stranger to death: she is still haunted by the memory of the child she failed to save, and the killer she failed to put behind bars. And with a new boss scrutinizing her every move, she is determined that - this time - she will leave no margin for error.

My Review

Detective Sergeant Lucy Black is our main character, a young girls body is found on railway tracks and Lucy must identify it. Lucy is haunted from a past case and won't let this one go. When another body turns up Lucy knows she is on the right track and like a dog with a bone she won't let it go.

This story covers some dark areas, murder, paedophilia, vengeance and some built up rage. Lucy seems to be the kind of cop who acts like you, the reader, would want to act. Punish the bad guy, ignore the strict rules of the law, do what it takes to punish the bad guys. Her actions as a police officer as questionable to say the least however I imagine most readers will be rooting for her.

I have never read this author before and to be honest I think if I knew more of the back story I would have enjoyed it much better. It is clear she has major issues with her mother, who is also the assistant chief constable. There are some clues as the why she behaves like the bad behaved teenager in almost every interaction with her mother but in the place of work I felt this should have been reprimanded. Maybe knowing more of the back story it is understandable but for me it did annoy me at times as she is an officer and this is her boss.

There is a fair amount of action within the book and the story, whilst dark doesn't go into too many horrific details although there is enough for you to know exactly what is going on. This was a good introduction to a new author, to me, and I think I would pursue more of his work but maybe start from the beginning and work my way through. 3/5 for me this time, thanks so much to Lucy Zilberkweit at C & R Crime for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review. This book is available to buy now, from all good retailers in e copy & print.

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Friday 8 November 2013

Did You Miss Me by Karen Rose

Did You Miss Me? (Romantic Suspense, #14) (Baltimore Series, #3)Did You Miss Me? (Romantic Suspense, #14) by Karen Rose
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 9 days

Publisher - Headline

Pages - 630

Blurb from Goodreads

Best be nimble, best be quick, I'm right here and you're my pick...

The last thing Ford Elkhart remembers is walking his girlfriend back to her university dormitory. Now he's lying tied and gagged on a cold, dark floor, with only one chance to escape before he ends up like the bones surrounding him...

Assistant State's Attorney Daphne Montgomery is devastated by her son's disappearance, and is immediately convinced that his kidnapping is connected to the white supremacist she's just had jailed for murder.

FBI Special Agent Joseph Carter isn't so sure - especially when he learns that Ford's girlfriend is also missing. Is Ford's abduction payback for Daphne's courtroom victory? Or is he a pawn in an even more dangerous game?

My Review

Daphne Montgomery is facing one of the biggest days in her career, trying to convict a member of a white supremacist family. When the verdict is read out, all hell breaks loose and Daphne is threatened. Soon the threat becomes real as Daphne's son is kidnapped, Daphne thinks it is linked to the case but soon discovers this is a lot deeper and everything Daphne has tried to protect, including her life, is at risk.

I remembered small snippets from the previous book and wish I had re read it to be more familiar but it doesn't take away from the actual story. It is fairly fast paced and kicks off at the start of the book, your drawn in quickly. There is quite a bit of graphic violence and murder throughout and also some racy sex scenes so if your easily offended or upset, this one isn't for you. If your already familiar with Karen Rose's work she is true to form and won't disappoint with this tale.

Secrets are laced throughout the book going back to Daphne's childhood, it takes us a while to get there but there is so much going on your never bored. Fast paced, chilling, gruesome, murder and some romance the book has just about everything covered. A really enjoyable read, secrets, chapters are fairly big however there are small short sub chapters throughout so you can dip in and out as you need/ 4/5 for me this time and of course I will continue to keep reading this author and catch up on the back catalogue.

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ARC - The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Time taken to read - 6 hours

Publisher - Penguin Books (UK)

Source - RealReaders

Blurb From RealReaders

The One Plus One is the beautiful, poignant and utterly compelling new novel by the internationally bestselling author Jojo Moyes.

Jess Thomas wants . . . . . . to be more than a single mum getting by day after day . . . to do her best for her gifted but sensitive daughter Tanzie . . . to find a way back from the loneliest place on earth

Ed Nicholls is hoping . . . . . . he won't go to jail . . . there's a way back from the biggest mistake of his life . . . something or someone will make it all go away

Jess and Ed are . . . . . . two strangers looking for a little kindness . . . two lost souls with a lot to learn from each other . . . about to find out that one plus one makes more - so much more - than two The One Plus One is Jojo Moyes' brilliant new heartbreaking novel about two people learning to take a chance on each other.

My Review

We open up the tale with Jess & Nathalie, Jess is our main character, well one of them, and Nathalie as they go about their job, cleaning. They are chatting and giving the reader an insight into Jess's life. The next few chapters bring in Tanzie, Ed and Nicky, each chapter has a name underneath the chapter so you know which person it is coming from or focusing on. The view point alternates between first and third person, this is done with ease though and actually adds to the joy of the story.

Jess is struggling to make ends meet, her husband is trying to sort himself out at his mothers whilst Jess keeps the home, finance and kids going. Working herself to the bone with two jobs, lack of time with the kids and money worries she still manages to maintain a positive outlook. When she gets an opportunity for her daughter Tanzie, to better her life, she will do anything she can to make it work.

Ed is our other big character, he has money, homes, cars and everything a geek could ask for. When his life and routine come to a halt whilst he is investigated and everything he knows is at risk, he meets someone in their hour of need. What follows is a journey that will highlight strengths and weaknesses in each of them and force them to question their chosen paths in life.

Oh.My.God I love this book! I thought after Me Before You I wouldn't be able to 5 star another book by this author as it was their peak book. I was wrong, although this is a totally different kind of book it stirred up a lot of the same responses as Me Before You. Gasping out loud (always a tad mortified when this happens, especially if people are around), smiling, laughter and tears, everything a great book should do. The ARC I got is 436 pages, I devoured it in 6 hours and it would have been quicker but I had to do some things to do in between. I was loath to put it down, I couldn't wait to find out where it was going, what else would come to light and how it played out for the characters. When I read the first few chapters, I wasn't convinced I was going to love it as I thought there might be too many characters. There are 4 centered ones, Ed & Jess are your big characters and Nicky and Tanzie feature heavily too, as well as their daft dog Norman, but as I said, the chapters are titled with their names and it is really easy to follow.

I didn't want it to end, I loved the characters and think there is someone for everyone to relate to. If not someone personally then at least one of the situations. The book covers a host of issues, single mum struggling to make ends meet, misfit kids, the misconception and judgments people make on each other, betrayal, honesty, love and loyalty to name but a few.

I try not to do big long reviews but I could talk about this book for ages. Sadly it isn't out to buy until the 27th of February 2014 which is a bit of a wait but it will be worth it. I will be buying at least two copies as gifts and this one, for me is a keeper. Thanks so much to RealReaders for sending me a paper copy of this in exchange for an honest review, it has brought a smile and keeper for me, 5/5 this time and I will continue to buy up all of this authors works.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Review - An Autumn Crush by Milly Johnson

An Autumn CrushAn Autumn Crush by Milly Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 6 days

Publisher - Simon & Schuster

Blurb from Goodreads

In the heart of the windy season, four friends are about to get swept off their feet...

Newly single after a bruising divorce, Juliet Miller moves into a place of her own and advertises for a flatmate, little believing that, in her mid-thirties, she'll find anyone suitable. Then, just as she's about to give up hope, along comes self-employed copywriter Floz, and the two women hit it off straight away.

When Juliet's gentle giant of a twin brother, Guy, meets Floz, he falls head over heels. But, as hard as he tries to charm her, his foot seems to be permanently in his mouth. Meanwhile, Guy's best friend Steve has always had a secret crush on Juliet - one which could not be more unrequited if it tried...

As Floz and Juliet's friendship deepens, and Floz becomes a part of the Miller family, can Guy turn her affection for them into something more - into love for him? And what will happen to Steve's heart when Juliet eventually catches the eye of Piers - the man of her dreams?

My review

Juliet needs a room mate and who better to help her interview than her over the top flamboyant best friend Coco. After a few undesirables, Floz comes along, sweet, self employed and the girls hit it off. Juliet's brother, Guy, bursts in on Floz and their meeting causes undesirable emotions and actions. Juliet is very much trying to attract the attention of her out of her league heart throb at work whilst being totally oblivious to Steve, Guy's best friend who is in love with her. Will anyone get the person they want?

The characters are all like able and like most chick-lit, it is nice to dip into when your in a reading slump. Coco is hilarious, always flapping about his love life and lack of a good man to stick around. Juliet has been burned by her ex husband, hates the Lothario playboy Steve and lusts after her boss. Floz has been hurt badly, has a secret or two she would like to keep and refuses to admit her feelings for Guy.

The story is about friendship, love, betrayal, loyalty and personal growth to name but a few. It is a nice wee tale and it helped get me out of my reading slump. My only real issue with it, and it is a fairly small issue, was between Floz and Guy. Pretty much every encounter went wrong, if he could say something wrong he did, if he could do something wrong he did, not just some of the time but all of it and that irked me a little. Other than that it was nicely written and had some heart warming moments, 3/5 for me.

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Sunday 3 November 2013

November Pre-loved giveaway - Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

This months giveaway is Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain. You can find my review here
This book is in great condition, the spine is completely in tact, there is a buy one get one half price, Waterstones sticker, very light indents to the cover and otherwise perfect.
As always please enter the giveaway by filling in the form below, any issues please contact me asap.
Otherwise please fill in the form below as per and good luck. a Rafflecopter giveaway
Click here to contact me via my email link

ARC - The City Of Strangers by Michael Russell

The City of StrangersThe City of Strangers by Michael Russell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 8 days

Publisher - AVON

Pages - 484

Blurb from Goodreads

The second Detective Stefan Gillespie novel and sequel to The City of Shadows which was longlisted for the CWA John Creasy New Blood Dagger Award 2013.

New York, 1939: A city of hope. A city of opportunity. A city hiding dark secrets...

A woman is brutally murdered and the only suspect has fled the country. Garda Sergeant Stefan Gillespie is sent to New York to bring a killer home to face justice – but the man has already disappeared into Manhattan’s awesome vistas.

Stefan is beguiled, exhilarated and troubled by this city buzzing with confidence, pride and ruthless opportunism, from skyscraper penthouses, to grimy backstreets, to the pulse-thumping jazz clubs of Harlem.

The 1939 World Fair only heightens the noisy enthusiasm for a bright new future and the stark tensions of a city that seethes with anti-Semitism and segregation, a city whose links to the struggle for Irish independence are unbreakable, yet holds hidden danger for Ireland in a world on the edge of war.

Stefan’s mission in New York becomes part of an increasingly personal struggle when an encounter with an old friend catapults him into a complex world of murder, conspiracy and terror.
In a time when people must stand up for what they believe in, the stakes for Stefan Gillespie, and his country, couldn’t be higher.

A thrilling and richly evocative historical crime novel.

My Review

This is the second book in a series, however it is worth noting I hadn't read the first and don't feel I lost anything by not having done so. The tale is set in 1939 so Hitler is very much around and his "workings" are mentioned or referred to in parts of the story. The tale begins in 1922 with a brief setting of an event that scars a family and then jumps to the tales present day, the relevance to this intro will become apparent later in the story.

Set in Ireland, Stefan Gillespie, detective, is sent to New York to being home the only suspect in a murder of one of their locals. When he gets to New York he becomes entangled in politics, conspiracy, murder and self preservation. What follows is a dangerous journey for our detective who needs to do what he feels is right and that which is right for his country.

So it has a great storyline so why did I give it only two stars? Well firstly there is a lot of political stuff and history going on in the book. This will be a great selling point for so many readers but for someone like me who is seriously lacking in knowledge on history I had to go and look up a lot of things to get a feel for what was going on. Then there is references to IRA, a lot to be honest and again I don't know a whole lot about their history so I found myself having to google so much to keep on top. This is of course not the authors fault by any means but it did take a lot away from my reading enjoyment but will enhance that of readers who know their history.

Apart from that there was quite a lot going on in the story, the original murder, which to be honest, I felt fell away from the importance of the tale as more story lines came up. Two sisters looking for help and keeping safe from an influential tyrant, another murder, the IRA part of the story, my head was spinning trying to keep up.

I think this will make for a brilliant read for so many but for someone like me it was just far too busy with story lines and things from history that I just wasn't up to scratch on. If your interested in these topics plus a tale that has lots going on to keep your mind busy then give it a go. It is a well written book but just for someone like me it was a bit too much, I really do however need to learn my history. Thanks so much to AVON for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review but this time, sadly, it is a 2/5. This book is available from 7th November 2013 for any good retailer.

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Wednesday 23 October 2013

Review - Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

Necessary LiesNecessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to rad - 3 days

Publisher - PAN

Pages - 335

Blurb from Goodreads

North Carolina, 1960. Newlywed Jane Forrester, fresh out of university, is seeking what most other women have shunned: a career. But life as a social worker is far from what she expected. Out amongst the rural Tobacco fields of Grace County, Jane encounters a world of extreme poverty that is far removed from the middle-class life she has grown up with. But worse is still to come. Working with the Hart family and their fifteen-year-old daughter Ivy, it’s not long before Jane uncovers a shocking secret, and is thrust into a moral dilemma that puts her career on the line, threatens to dissolve her marriage, and ultimately, determines the fate of Ivy and her family forever. Soon Jane is forced to take drastic action, and before long, there is no turning back.

My review

The book starts in present day, well 2011, and gives a brief cover on an event and then takes us back to 1960, North Carolina in America. Jane Forrester is a new wife, new graduate and looking to have a career. An anomaly for her time but desperate to have a career and help people she gets a job as a social worker. Jane is rich, married to a doctor and wants for nothing, her clients are struggling to survive, need help but are proud people. Jane finds herself drawn to one family in particular in a small rural community. Jane needs to keep to what is best for the community, the people and keep her personal feelings at bay or risk more than her job.

Aw this is a great story with sad and very real issues that were a "normal" part of society for the poorer people and how they where exploited. Forced sterilizations, women seen as outcasts for wanting something more than a baby, racism, in these days you take so much for granted and often forget the horrors inflicted upon previous generations.

The book focuses on relationships between the rich and the poor, societal attitudes, the love between families and how a look at human nature and just how good and bad it can be. The story is mostly told from the view point of Ivy, 15 years old and one of Jane's new clients, poor and limited education. The other is told from Jane's, both are from first person narrative and skillfully shows the stark differences between the world they inhibit.

I found it hard to put down and was really drawn in to the tale from the first few pages. Ivy is a great wee character and my heart went out to her for trying to take so much on her shoulders. Jane is a likable character but she annoyed me at times with some of her actions and even her docile attitude in regards to her husband at times. That said it reflects well the way a woman lived and was expected to live in the 1960s. It is a thought provoking book and certainly makes you think about society back when, if you didn't fit into what was deemed acceptable you could loose so much. At the end there is an authors note with some of the reading she undertook whilst preparing and writing this book, I aim to read some of them too as it is such a shocking and interesting subject. The chapters are named so you know who is talking, although they are so distinctive you would know without it and they are fairly short so you can dip in and out. Overall I really liked it so 4/5 for me this time. I of course will read this author again, I really enjoy her writing style and have read her before.

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Thursday 17 October 2013

Review - Scarlet Women by Jessie Keane

Scarlet Women (Annie Carter #3)Scarlet Women by Jessie Keane
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 4 days

Blurb from Goodreads

She was a madam in a brothel, then a gangster’s moll. Now Annie Carter owns the East End of London, and God help anybody that crosses her.…

It’s 1970 and there’s a killer on the loose in London.

When gang boss Annie Carter gets a call, suddenly it’s personal. A close friend of hers is the latest victim, and another is in the frame for the murder.

With the hated Delaney gang still causing trouble, and NY mob boss Don Constantine Barolli’s family making no secret of the fact that they hate her, she senses a feud blowing up in all their faces very soon.

To save her old friend, Annie has to try to find out who’s been targeting the girls. Before long she’s diving head-first into the seedy underbelly of the streets.

How long before the killer strikes again? And who will the next victim be?

My Review

Annie is back home in London and ready to establish her businesses and as head of the Carter cartel. Before she can cut her teeth into all that needs done she gets a call that her friend has been killed and her associate is the prime suspect. Annie is torn between fixing her business, finding out who killed her friend, keeping the Delaney's at bay and keeping her mind off Constantine Barolli. Before too long Annie is in the deep of it and could lose everything she has worked so hard for and her life is in danger. You can't tread on so many toes without making enemies and Annie has many, could this be the end for Annie Carter?

The book starts on a cliff hanger, Annie is in a life threatening situation, death is imminent and she goes over the recent past to how she got here. She has a blast from the past she needs to try and protect which brings her to the wrong side of the Delaney twins. The police aren't looking for anyone else for her friends murder but Annie knows they have the wrong guy and that is just scratching the surface. There is lots going on in this book and a lot of action to keep your interest however this book feel a bit short for me compared to others in the series. For example in the last book Annie went through hell with her little girl yet in this book she is passed off to others whilst she deals with business. I just felt that whilst she wouldn't want her in the path of what was going on, you wouldn't just put her to the side to deal with all the dangerous stuff she does throughout this book.

The issues with the silver fox Don from America also annoyed me a little, it was very, I felt, almost teen angst. Not how an established woman like Annie would react really and especially, how it transpires much later in the book. I just felt Annie's character flipped around a bit which annoyed me a bit, otherwise though the story was quite good and does draw you in. I sincerely hope in the next installment we see some faces that have seemingly left the story reappear, one can only hope. Still a good read and it does cover a bit of history of the previous books so you could pick this up and read as a stand alone but I would suggest going back and reading the others in order, 3/5 for me this time though.

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Friday 11 October 2013

ARC - The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman

The Dead Wife's HandbookThe Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Publisher - Penguin

Pages - 435

Blurb from Goodreads

A poignant and touching portrayal of love and loss told from a wonderfully original perspective.

Rachel and Max met eleven years ago. They were the perfect couple - best friends, lovers and partners - and when their daughter, Ellie, came along they thought their family was complete. The last thing they expected was that one celebratory night out would change their lives forever.

But fate had other plans.

Now Max is doing his best to adapt to his new life without Rachel - he might forget which day Ellie needs her sports kit and the name of her favourite teacher but he's trying his hardest - and the last thing he wants is more change.

Lonely and alone, Rachel is stuck in a place between worlds. Grieving everything she has lost and everything she won't experience, she has no choice but to watch helplessly as her family face a future without her. But what Rachel doesn't realise is that love is so strong that the one thing that will break her heart may become the one thing she wishes for more than anything.

My Review

The story opens up with a powerful line from Rachel, our main character leaving you with no delusions that she is in fact dead. What follows is Rachel's thoughts, feelings and views as she watches her family, when permitted, trying to recover from her sudden departure. Alongside this Rachel is going through the different stages of grieving, for the life she had and that which she will never have. We get to see her family through her eyes as they also try to recover and deal with a life without Rachel. Max is devastated trying to come to terms with the loss of his wife, Ellie their wee girl and Rachels's mum who has already suffered a big loss. The family deals with it in different ways and we get to view this as and when Rachel does.

This story is very different from anything I have ever read, initially I didn't think I would like it. Rachel is in a place between our world and where you imagine spirits would go after they die. There isn't a how or why, we are given as much info as Rachel is which is nothing. At first I thought this was a cop out by the author, but actually it added to the "realism" of the story. We don't know what happens to us when we pass and Rachel is there with as much understanding as we have, learning as we do with her.

She gets to "visit" her family with no seeming pattern to it, access is when it is given. Rachel is limited in many ways which adds to her anger, loneliness and frustration.

This is a lovely, sad and heart breaking story that hits you on subtle levels provoking big reactions, deep thoughts and emotions as you can't help, well I couldn't, but think about people you have lost. A very powerful book, not because of the tale itself which is very different and well put together story but because of the chain of thought and emotions it may evoke from you. I think it is a fantastic debut novel, done in a unique way and I would be happy to read this author again. 4/5 for me this time and thank you to RealReaders for an ARC of this book and introducing me to a new author. This book is available for release on 13th of February 2014.

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Monday 7 October 2013

Review - Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

Ketchup CloudsKetchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Publisher - Indigo

Pages - 306

Blurb from Goodreads

Secrets, romance, murder and lies: Zoe shares a terrible secret in a letter to a stranger on death row in this second novel from the author of the bestselling debut, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece.

Fifteen-year-old Zoe has a secret—a dark and terrible secret that she can't confess to anyone she knows. But then one day she hears of a criminal, Stuart Harris, locked up on death row in Texas. Like Zoe, Stuart is no stranger to secrets. Or lies. Or murder.

Full of heartache yet humour, Zoe tells her story in the only way she can—in letters to the man in prison in America. Armed with a pen, Zoe takes a deep breath, eats a jam sandwich, and begins her tale of love and betrayal.

My review

Zoe is writing to death row prisoner, Stuart Harris to confess her terrible sin, she killed someone too. In her letters, Zoe, initially tells Stuart a little about herself and why she is writing and ends with the admission she too has killed someone. The letters that follow stay in the same style, some personal information and a bit more about what lead to the murder as well as some of her family issues.

Zoe is a young girl and her writing reflect this to begin with, as the story progresses, I felt something changed and she seemed to mature a bit. The letters act almost like a diary, glimpses into what happens on the particular day she is writing about, all building towards what happened the day she murdered someone. We are introduced to her family, friends and the object of her affection(s). The issues a young teen goes through, heartache, embarrassment, family problems, teen angst and more. From the first chapter I didn't want to put the book down, I wanted to know the how, where and when. Then as the story builds I wanted to know more about the family and why there was such a divide.

I can't honestly tell you why I loved this story so much and I don't think it will be a 5 star book for everyone. There is something endearing about Zoe, she is young, acts very stupid at times and I suppose her antics at times we can all relate too, if we can remember that far back! Her family play parts throughout the story but Dot I need to single out because she is just a little sweetie who doesn't have a huge impact on the main story but I feel she brings a certain something to it and I just loved her!

The story keeps you in the dark for a lot of it, Zoe only letting you know what she is really to tell you. As she reveals more of herself she gets more familiar with her letter recipient, watch for how she addresses him as the letters progress.

It is a great wee bittersweet tale that covers friendship, lust, love, murder, family and secrets. You don't think when you start this book that there will be a great deal to it, as I did, however I devoured it in almost one sitting. I should add this is a young adult book, however I am not in that class and I loved it so don't be put off by the genre tag. This is my first dance with this author but I enjoyed this story so much I am going to get her first book, 5/5 for me this time.

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Review - Under The Dome by Stephen King

Under the DomeUnder the Dome by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 7 days

Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton

Pages - 877

Blurb from Goodreads

There's a reason why Stephen King is one of the best selling writers in the world ever. He knows how to write stories that suck you in and are impossible to put down. The New York Times describes it as a 'relentless tidal pull' and Stephen King has done it time and time again with stories like The Shawshank Redemption, Misery, The Green Mile and The Stand.

In Under the Dome, he has produced another riveting masterpiece. The end of every chapter hooks you into the next, drawing you inside a psychological drama that is so rich, you don't read it, you live it.

It is the story of the small town of Chester's Mill, Maine which is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. No one can get in and no one can get out.

The normal rules of society are suddenly changed and when food, electricity and water run short, the community begins to crumble. As a new and more sinister social order develops, Dale Barbara, Iraq veteran, teams up with a handful of intrepid citizens to fight against the corruption that is sweeping through the town and to try to discover the source of the Dome before it is too late . . .

My Review

A small town, Chester's Mill is going about its everyday business when a massive dome encases and surrounds the whole town. When everyone realizes what has happened they start to assess the damage and tend to the wounded. It isn't long before chaos follows, the rules of civilization go out the window and murder, deprivation and power come into play. How long will it last, who will survive?

I had this book for ages, since it came out, on my tbr list. I hadn't read it as it got so many mixed reviews from "it reminded me of when he did the stand", to "It was so crap I couldn't finish it". Now as you may have noticed, the The Dome has started on TV and I couldn't wait to find out what happened next so I bumped the book up. Don't read it for this guys, the only things the same is the town, dome, some of the character names and Big Jim. All other relations, connections and pretty much the story line goes in a totally different direction but anyway, I digress.

We have our first kill on page 20 so the story kicks in really quickly, the actual Dome happening is very graphic and bloody. The town descends into anarchy quite quickly to be honest and "the police" becomes a law unto itself. There are a lot of characters in this wee town and at 877 there is a lot going on, relationships, deceit, problems, skulduggery and murder. There are chunks of the book that are a bit long, some people hated that, I found it added to the atmosphere and picture of what was happening although it made for slow reading at times.

It is graphic, there is sex, murder, lies and some parts of it did have faint echoes of The Stand for me, a group of people cut off from civilization as we know it, no Government or real police within the actual town. It shows the many sides, some wonderful, strong, brave and some dark, evil and nasty sides of human beings and how quickly things can turn without social boundaries and civility. Not up in my top 10 Stephen King books but I still quite enjoyed it, I was disappointed with a few things and the ending irked me a bit but it is what you prefer as some people loved it, 3/5 for me this time.

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Thursday 3 October 2013

ARR - Coconut Badger by Mark MacNicol

Coconut BadgerCoconut Badger by Mark MacNicol
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 249

Blurb from the back cover

Tam suffers from panic attacks avoiding potential triggers like attractive women and confrontations. After an approach from a local widower he is introduced to a technique turning him from zero to hero. Tam's life is transformed with men fearing him and women lusting after him - but has he made a pact with the devil?

My review

Meet Tam, our main character, a young lad from a Glasgow scheme with a big problem: panic attacks, shy and no self confidence. Not exactly the qualities you need to survive the life in a scheme or get the girl of your dreams. After an embarrassing and violent attack, help comes in the form of Pat, an older bloke from the estates who knows a thing or two about surviving Glasgow. Soon he is teaching his young protege some techniques that totally changes his life. All is great in the beginning but soon Tam finds himself in deeper than he imagined and with life changing consequences.

I had never heard of this author but I am always keen to give everyone a go, especially when the story takes place in a city I know. Tam is a character that goes through quite a transformation, however the reader gets to follow him through it in a way that I believe many could sympathize with, if you lived in a scheme at any point. I went through phases of rooting for him, to disliking him and back again. Pat is a character, love him or hate him he definitely brings the story, and the murky dark happenings to life. There are some other key characters, however one who isn't a huge part but I loved his name and is worthy of mention is Wan Brick.

The story itself is quite violent in parts, certainly graphic and conjures quite the picture in your head, like a movie I could visualize it playing out. I think it would make for a great movie, which according to MacNicol's website it is in the pipelines.

There is quite a few layers to this story, it isn't just violence, sex and drugs although to be fair there is all of that in the mix so be warned. However it is also a story of personal growth, consequences, love, lust, friendship, betrayal and honor to name but a few.

The story does have quite a bit of Glaswegian patter and dialogue when the characters are conversing which some non Scots may find hard to follow. Phrases, which added to my enjoyment to be fair, as it was like days of old or visiting old friends. Weesht meaning be quiet, Awright - Ok? and Hawnle - handle - look after yourself. I think an excerpt at the back with translation may be a good idea for future publishing would help for the non Scottish readers.

The chapters were fairly short in between, which if your a follower of my reviews you know I love. Especially when you don't have a lot of time to read as your studying or just busy in general so not getting a lot of time to read, this helped me fly through the book. I really enjoyed this book, there are a few twists that I didn't see coming, one of which actually had me exclaim, was so glad I wasn't on public transport! A really good debut novel, I hope that there may be another in the works on the early life of Pat, I would love to read that. Enjoyable, good paced, hooks you in and evokes quit a few emotions, 5/5 for me this time and I would certainly read this author again. Thanks so much to Mark for introducing me to his work, this book is available to buy in paperback for £7.99 from his website and the ebook is, at time of posting £0.99 you can also follow him on twitter @markmacnicol

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Wednesday 2 October 2013

October Pre-loved giveaway - The Cry by Helen Fitzgerald

This book is in immaculate condition and could be given as a gift, the spine is uncreased and as it was the day I bought it.
You can read my review here if you wish, I loved it and give it a 5/5

As always the competition runs until the end of the month, please enter using the rafflecopter below. Additional entries can be achieved by any of the extra options however the only mandatory option is the address one. This means I can send the book once the competition has ended and not need to chase winners up or, as in the past, people have not claimed the prize within 48 hours and lost it.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday 28 September 2013

Review - Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep (The Shining, #2)Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2.5 days

Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton

Pages - 482

Blurb from Goodreads

Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

My Review

I loved the Shining, who didn't - it was a Stephen King masterpiece and had some very unforgettable characters. The story picks up right where the shining left off, the aftermath for Danny and his mum after the hotel burned down. Danny isn't completely free from his trauma and people from the original story turn up whilst he is still young and we are catching up. Then we move on to Danny being an adult, a drunk and a disappointment when something happens that makes him sort himself out and settle in one place. We flip to Rose the hat, leader of The True Knot, beings that where once human that now live of the essence of kids with the shining. Introducing Abra Stone, a kid with the shining, making Danny's look like a flash in the dark in comparison. Before long, these three become linked and it is a matter of life and death, a battle against evil and survival of the fittest, who will survive?

Aw I was so happy to finally get my copy of this, it isn't often I pre-order anything but I wanted this since I heard Mr K was writing it. Not only do we get to reacquaint with wee Danny who is now a grown up, we get to see the effect that crazy hotel had on him and if he still shines as an adult. He isn't the only character from the past to pop up and I loved not knowing who was coming next.

Rose the hat is evil, however she has her own band of "family" so you get to see two sides of her, the one that will do anything for her crew and the one that kills and tortures innocents. Abra reminded me a bit of Carrie but without all the negativity and social awkwardness, she has the shining in bucket loads, has an amazing ability that of course freaks her parents out. She is a great wee character for someone so young and has bounds of personality that wee Danny lacked in the original book.

The story has a fair amount of building to do as we meet new characters and learn about Danny as an adult, however I found this fascinating to see his progression however some may feel it a little slow in parts. This is not a super scary book by any means, there is supernatural activity and beings, there is murder and some horror but nothing compared to the shining or indeed some of his other works. I personally wouldn't call it a horror as I am used to his stuff being much stronger and darker but it would be classed in that genre due to some of the content.

There is definitely parts that keep you on the edge of your seat, I couldn't put it down as I wanted to find out what happens to all of the characters. The more they interact the more the tension builds and you cannot wait for everything to come to a head. For all the fans of the shining, I think you will really enjoy this book, it is a different feel altogether as I remember being scared senseless reading the shining. Doctor Sleep doesn't have the terror or maybe it is just as I am older and read so much now but it does make the hair on the back of your neck stand at parts and keeps you hooked. Was it worth the wait? I think so, I really enjoyed it and will revisit some of his older work, 4/5 for me this time.

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Friday 27 September 2013

Review - The Return Man by V.M. Zito

The Return ManThe Return Man by V.M. Zito
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton

Blurb from Goodreads

The outbreak tore the USA in two. The east remains a safe haven. The west has become a ravaged wilderness, known by survivors as the Evacuated States. It is here that Henry Marco makes his living. Hired by grieving relatives, he tracks down the dead and delivers peace.

Now Homeland Security wants Marco for a mission unlike any other. He must return to California, where the apocalypse began. Where a secret is hidden. And where his own tragic past waits to punish him again.

But in the wastelands of America, you never know who - or what - is watching you.

My Review

A zombie novel with a bit of a twist, this one is purely centered around America, the West is abandoned barring those reanimated with the virus. The East is a safe haven where the survivors are residing and living in safety. Henry Marco is in the West with the walking dead and making a living by bringing them peace after being hired by their family. His business partner is in the East and deals with the contracts, money and people whilst Henry does the dirty work. Henry has a personal agenda and is on the lookout for his wife whom he lost during the in initial outbreak, four years ago. As always there is corruption and Homeland Security makes Marco an offer he can't refuse, to go into the heart of the outbreak, risk life and limb to complete his mission.

There is a lot going on in this wee story, it starts off with Henry tracking a relative for someone on the other side and we get an introduction into what he does. Henry is haunted by the fact he finds others relatives but can't find his own wife, this is what keeps him in the West and in constant danger. He then meets up with Kheng Wu - Kenny, although Henry mostly calls him Wu, they make a great team although Wu is not all he seems although the reader knows all along his secret.

There is a lot of action and the zombie scenes kicked my heart rate up a bit just about every time. It has the zombie theme at the heart of the story but also love, devotion, friendship, trust, betrayal and corruption. I really enjoyed this and it was my first zombie read in a wee while. I have added the next in the series on to my wish list as although this was my first time with this author I did quite enjoy it and would like to read more about the characters in this story. 4/5 for me this time, I did like it, it has good pace however I am fussy with zombie stories and there was one or two wee things that didn't bring it right up to the five star mark.

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Sunday 22 September 2013

ARC - Bad Blood by Mark Sennen

Bad Blood (A DI Charlotte Savage Novel)Bad Blood by Mark Sennen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 5 days

Publisher - Avon

Blurb from Goodreads

‘We’re going to find them, sort them, pay them back …’

When the body of a six-year-old girl is found buried beneath a patio, nobody is surprised when a local paedophile is murdered shortly afterwards. But when a member of DI Charlotte Savage’s team is abducted and several men are executed in cold blood it becomes apparent that there’s a psychopath on the loose with no mercy for his victims…

It becomes clear that the killer isn’t selecting his victims at random and soon Savage is in a race against time to stop him. But what if this man has a message for Charlotte herself? One she won’t forget in a hurry. It’s payback time. Deadly payback time.

Part thriller, part police procedural, a must-read for fans of Mark Billingham and Chris Carter.

My Review

This is the second in a series, I was given an ARC copy from the publisher so this is my first encounter with this author. I think, personally I would recommend you go and get the first book in the series instead of starting with this one as I believe it will make the story more enjoyable. The story opens with the prologue, we meet the mastermind bad guy, Ricky Budgeon and a very brief look into his views on what has happened prior and brings him to the actions that follow. A bit vague? I thought so too and the theme follows throughout the story but it does all come together and information is released in snippets.

We move on to Savage, who turns out to be DI Charlotte Savage, at home with her family when she gets a reminder from a colleague about the PSD (Public Standards Department) inquiry meeting regarding her actions in a previous case. I believe this is also something that happened in the last book although I am not 100% sure. We then go to another scene where a body is discovered and DI Savage is called in, our story really starts here. Soon a child’s body is discovered, linked to an old residence of a paedophile and soon a paedophile is found murdered.
Shortly after that a member of DI Savages team goes missing, bodies are turning up murdered in vicious and horrific crime scenes and Savage and her team are running out of time to solve the mystery and save their colleague.

Exhausted reading all that? It is quite a lot to take in and to be honest, had I read the first book and had a feel for some of the characters it would probably have been a lot easier to get into. As it was I felt there was a lot of characters to try and get to know, a few different stories lines going on and I had to re read bits to try and establish what was going on.
There is a lot happening and plenty to keep you interested and intrigued as to what is going to happen and who is linked to whom but I would suggest reading it in big chunks or in one go if you can. Reading this over a few days can be a bit hard going as it is such a busy story.
It is quite violent and gorey, there is a lot of swearing and quite a few terms that are racist so be warned it may offend quite a few readers. DI Savage I found to be hard to like, she has been through a lot which may attribute to her attitude and almost total disregard for her professional standards and behaviour. She seemed like a loose cannon at times rather than a level headed leader of a police team and lead investigator in a high profile case. As I said I think maybe going back and reading the first book would give a bit of clarity and help with the enjoyment and understanding of this book.

All your ends are eventually tied up, most things are linked and explained although at the end of this book a character throws a curve ball that will pull followers from the first story to get the third book. I have only read book two however I want clarification and closure on this particular issue from the stories, a rather clever ploy from the author, always leave them wanting more. A rather mixed bag for me, it annoyed me on so many levels but got me there in the end and had enough intrigue to keep me going to the end so 3/5 for me this time. Thanks to Avon Books for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review and for introducing me to this author whom I will read again. This book is available to buy from all good retailers from the 26th of September 2013, in paperback format and for the kindle.

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Wednesday 18 September 2013

DRC (Netgalley) - Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Forever, InterruptedForever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2.5 days

Publisher - Washington Square Press

Blurb from Goodreads

“Have you ever heard of supernovas? They shine brighter than anything else in the sky and then fade out really quickly, a short burst of extraordinary energy. I like to think you and Ben were like that . . . in that short time, you had more passion than some people have in a lifetime.”

Elsie Porter is an average twenty something and yet what happens to her is anything but ordinary. On a rainy New Year’s Day, she heads out to pick up a pizza for one. She isn’t expecting to see anyone else in the shop, much less the adorable and charming Ben Ross. Their chemistry is instant and electric. Ben cannot even wait twenty-four hours before asking to see her again. Within weeks, the two are head over heels in love. By May, they’ve eloped.

Only nine days later, Ben is out riding his bike when he is hit by a truck and killed on impact. Elsie hears the sirens outside her apartment, but by the time she gets downstairs, he has already been whisked off to the emergency room. At the hospital, she must face Susan, the mother-in-law she has never met—and who doesn’t even know Elsie exists.

Interweaving Elsie and Ben’s charmed romance with Elsie and Susan’s healing process, Forever, Interrupted will remind you that there’s more than one way to find a happy ending.

My Review

The story starts in June, present day, when Elsie and Ben are very much in love and only 9 days since they got married. When Ben nips out to get something for Elsie and is killed, Elsie finds her whole world collapsing, we follow her journey through grief and reliving how they met to present day. The story flips from now, the after math of the accident, to months previous when they first met and their relationship progression.

Aw I really liked this story, total chick lit type novel. It has a bit of everything in it, grief is a big part of the story as Elsie is having to learn to adjust to life without her husband. As they had a whirlwind romance and very quick marriage they hadn't met everyone in each others lives which poses additional difficulties for Elsie. From reactions from his friends and family, to her own, Elsie faces all the issues that comes with the loss of a loved one as well as additional issues you would hope never to encounter.

The present is really sad and anyone who has lost someone will be able to identify with her behavior and actions as she grieves. The recent past on how they met and how their relationship progresses is cute, childish, romantic and fairly sweet although I think a few cynical readers may be irked by some of it but I really liked it.

The story has many layers to it, I felt, aside from the grief and romance, you have trust issues, learning to work through obstacles I am sure many of us have faced at one time. Friendship, jealousy, anger and the amazing ability, we humans have, to pick ourselves up and rebuild our life when the rug has been pulled from under us.

I would recommend this book to anyone to be honest, it is a good wee read and had life not got in the way I would have got through it in one sitting easily. The characters are likable, brought to life well and can I just say, I loved Ben and George Callahan, although George doesn't appear in the book often, he has a strong presence and offers much to the story.

For a debut novel I think it is very well put together, it covers many important issues and is a great wee tale that I didn't want to put down. I will definitely keep an eye out for this authors future work, 4/5 for me this time. Thank you so much to Netgalley for introducing me to a new author and providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review. You can buy Forever, Interrupted now in paperback format and ebook now from all good retailers.

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Tuesday 17 September 2013

Books are my bag campaign

Have you heard about the books are my bag campaign? You can find out more about it here but basically it is the biggest ever campaign to support your local bookshops. On the 14th of September 2013, bookshops had a celebration with balloons, banners, bags, t-shirts and bookmarks spreading the theme #booksaremybag - Celebrities have taken part too and you can do your part if you haven't already.

Visit your local book shop and buy a book or two. I went out specifically looking to find a bookshop that was celebrating books are my bag and found a book store I had walked past and hadn't even noticed before. It is called Oswald Street Bookshop and can be found in 27 Oswald street, Glasgow - you can follow them on Twitter @OSBookshop

Here is some pictures from my visit:
I love books, I love bookshops and I love chatting with people about books. As much as I love Waterstones I have never really appreciated the smaller book stores or really went into them. This campaign has certainly made me appreciate them and think twice before ordering from a large chain or online.
I went inside and had a browse about the books, the shop is spread across one floor and all the books are focus around Scotland, be it authors or the country.

The owner is a gentleman called Denis who came over to see if I needed any assistance, he dealt with his customer and then came back to help me with my queries. I asked if he was involved in the campaign and we chatted about how I had heard about it. We then had a lovely chat about books, authors, the stock he had an how he could order any book in and that the shop had been open for 21 months. He recommended a new author to me and we discussed some other authors and chatted for a while longer. I cannot express how much of a difference this kind of personal customer service made than in a big chain where you are lucky to have a moment to chat with the cashier. As a result I will be heading back to put in an order for my next read and hope to continue supporting local book shops. If you have a chance, please stop by. You can join the chat and share your pics on Twitter with the hash tag #booksaremybag or on facebook, just search books are my bag.

Monday 16 September 2013

ARC - MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood

MaddAddam (MaddAddam Trilogy #3)MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 11 days

Publisher - Bloomsbury

Blurb from Goodreads

A man-made plague has swept the earth, but a small group survives, along with the green-eyed Crakers – a gentle species bio-engineered to replace humans. Toby, onetime member of the Gods Gardeners and expert in mushrooms and bees, is still in love with street-smart Zeb, who has an interesting past. The Crakers’ reluctant prophet, Snowman-the-Jimmy, is hallucinating; Amanda is in shock from a Painballer attack; and Ivory Bill yearns for the provocative Swift Fox, who is flirting with Zeb. Meanwhile, giant Pigoons and malevolent Painballers threaten to attack.

Told with wit, dizzying imagination, and dark humour, Booker Prize-winning Margaret Atwood’s unpredictable, chilling and hilarious MaddAddam takes us further into a challenging dystopian world and holds up a skewed mirror to our own possible future.

My Review

Before I put my thoughts I want to express that my issues with this book are a lot to do with not realizing it was part of a trilogy. I would strongly recommend to everyone they should go and read the first two before purchasing or attempting to read this one.

The book deals with the aftermath and current struggling of a small group of survivors after a man made plague has slammed earth. Along with the few survivors is "Crakers" a species created through bio-engeneering, gentle creatures to replace humans. The tale follows Toby, Snowman the Jimmy, Zeb and a few other characters throughout. As they try to survive and get on with "life" as best they can, along side the Crakers and avoiding the painballers who are hell bent on violence and destruction.

The book gives a four page catch up on the previous two books, this is no where near enough for someone who hasn't read anything of the previous story as this book is very much a follow up to them. The book is heavily focused on Toby and Zeb's relationship as well as throw backs to Zeb and his brother Adam's relationship. To be fair to the writer, when it was dealing with Toby and Zeb or going back to everything that happened with Zeb and Adam I could follow it and what was happening, it just seemed almost everything out with this I didn't understand what was going on.

Creatures and a lot of terms mentioned throughout the book I had no idea what they were, although pizzlies and grolars explanation was covered. Mo'Hair herds I assume are cow like creatures, Pigoons I think may have been huge pigs although I am not sure were they bio-engineered or a cross with pigs and something else? I think had there been an appendix with the unknown words and a brief explanation, at the front or back of the book, this would have made such a huge difference to my reading experience and understanding of the tale. Sadly I spent a huge amount of time confused reading the tale and not always sure what was going on or how it came to be. After 200+ pages I felt I understood a bit more of the hows and whys but it was hard going. I think if your a fan of the previous books you will get on well with this as it gives closure on the main characters and where their paths lie. I struggled with the tale, terms and what was going on most of the time although I did enjoy reading about Zeb and Adam so for that reason I am giving this book a 2/5. My thanks to Waterstones for introducing me to a new author and giving me an advance copy to review in exchange for an honest review. This book is available to buy now from all good retailers.

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Sunday 15 September 2013

Review - The Cry by Helen Fitzgerald

The CryThe Cry by Helen Fitzgerald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1.5 days

Publisher - Faber and Faber

Blurb from Goodreads

He's gone. And telling the truth won't bring him back...

When a baby goes missing on a lonely roadside in Australia, it sets off a police investigation that will become a media sensation and dinner-table talk across the world.

Lies, rumours and guilt snowball, causing the parents, Joanna and Alistair, to slowly turn against each other.

Finally Joanna starts thinking the unthinkable: could the truth be even more terrible than she suspected? And what will it take to make things right?

The Cry is a dark psychological thriller with a gripping moral dilemma at its heart and characters who will keep you guessing on every page.

'Fitzgerald is dark, clever, highly inventive.'

'FitzGerald excels at twisting the reader's expectations and turning our assumptions on their heads.' The List

My Review

This is a story about Joanna, Alistair and their baby Noah, more characters come into play but these three are the starting point. On a long haul flight from Glasgow to Australia, a distraught Joanna tries to console and quieten an even more distraught and screaming Noah. Once they arrive in Australia Noah goes missing. People are interviewed from the plane, speculation is rife, the news and police are all over it and Joanna and Alistair are hiding a big secret that will threaten everything they have. This is a story that looks at a relationship and what a traumatic event like this can do to a couple and how easily things can spiral out of control.

I went to the author event launch for this book, tickets were free and I wasn't sure what to expect as I had only read one of her books. She read two excerpts from the story, the very beginning and near the end, I had to buy a copy immediately and find out what happens.

Everyone judges people and this book gets into that when the world speculates on what happened to Noah, the Internet is used to show how quickly people make up their own minds and get involved. The heart of the book is centered on the relationship between Joanna, Alistair, his ex wife Alexandra and her daughter Chloe. You find out very early on what happened to the baby so it isn't a who done it or mystery, it focuses on the relationships, manipulation, blame, loss, grief, deceit, anger and hurt, to name a few of the themes going on.

The character are very well carved out, great emotion is evoked when you get a feel for them and some of the choices they make. I went through different emotions with Joanna, I felt for the ex wife and her daughter and I hated Alistair with a passion. The story flips around from the initial lead up to the baby's journey, him going missing, to months later and then back to the initial time period at the start of the tale. Joanna's voice starts the tale and then we flip to Alexandra's, the two time periods and hearing the same events through two people are fantastically done. This doesn't always work out well in stories as I feel you can get confused with the time jumps let alone bringing a second voice into it. Fitzgerald does it with an ease that you follow exactly what is going on without having to jump back a page or two to see who is talking or what time period it is. Also the chapters are listed by whose voice it is in case anyone does have problems following and the month is also listed so you know where in the time scale the story is. The chapters are fairly small, which is always a favorite with me, I found this book hard to put down. Had work not got in the way I would have easily read this in one sitting, this book will take you on an emotional roller coaster and stay with you long after you have finished it. It has taken me days to decide how I would write this review as I have so much to say about things within it however I do not do spoiler reviews so it took a lot of thought. I would recommend this book to everyone, no matter what genre you like as it is a great read that packs a punch and leaves you wanting more. 5/5 for me and I already have a few more by this author on my tbr so I will be reading her again. If she continues along this path I may have to put her on my favorite writers list.

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