Thursday 29 January 2015

The Book of You by Claire Kendal

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

Time taken to read - 6 hours

Publisher - Harper

Pages - 362

Blurb from Goodreads

What a great wee debut novel!

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

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

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

My Review

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

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

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

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Sunday 25 January 2015

Killer Plan by Leigh Russell

Killer PlanKiller Plan by Leigh Russell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Pages - 319

Publisher - No Exit Press

Blurb from Goodreads

Caroline’s husband is killed, but she can’t turn to the police without implicating herself in his murder. When one of her 10-year-old twins is kidnapped, the desperate mother is forced to resort to drastic measures to get him back. As time runs out, and a second body is discovered, Geraldine realises she has a secret that might just help solve the case. But the truth could destroy her career. Faced with the unenviable decision of protecting herself or the widow she barely knows, Geraldine must grapple with her conscience and do the right thing before the death count mounts any further.

My Review

Caroline Robinson is our opening character, a chance encounter with an old school friend finds her telling him of her woes at home. Mum to two twin ten year old boys and a philandering husband. When Brian reaches shows understanding, he has been there himself, and comes up with a plan to make her husband take notice of her she agrees. When he is murdered and Brian reveals exactly what he wants, Caroline finds her world turned upside down and thats just the beginning of it all. Her son is kidnapped and the police know there is more to this story than Caroline is telling. Then another body turns up, this time DI Steel knows something that could blow open the case however, revealing what she knows may ruin her career. Time is running out, a young boys life is at stake and Geraldine Steel must act before it is too late.

Firstly, at the beginning of the book before the tale starts, we have a wee glossary of acronyms which I loved. Sometimes there are so many titles and initials with the police it is hard to keep up with who is what, you can just flick to the beginning of the book and find what they are, just a wee thing I really appreciated.

This is a busy wee book, you have the murder, then a kidnap, then another body shows up and and affair with a married man. Geraldine Steel is still having issues from previous books with her birth mother and deciding if she should trace her although it is mentioned only briefly within this book. She has a lot going on in her personal life and some of the story focuses on this, there is a big investigation into Caroline's husbands murder however this tappers off and all attention is focused on the second body that is discovered. When her child is kidnapped she cannot get the police to take her seriously although she is erratic by this point.

The story goes along at a decent pace, you know from the beginning who the murder is and why he did it however the story takes a turn and keeps you interested. My biggest beef is the way the police behave, toward each other and their lack of ability to perform investigations and or listen to their colleagues when they make valid points about a case. In some aspects, not all but one or two points I had to suspend belief as I couldn't honestly see police allowing certain actions or lack of them. That said we do read about investigation blunders in the news so perhaps the author is taking the path of fiction reflecting reality. With a massive change to the police force I am hoping that in the next book, assuming there is more to come and I hope there is, that we will see the police having a massive shape up and functioning much better than they have done.

There is a lot of emotion throughout the story as well as action and drama. None of the scenes are gory so if you like crime without all the blood and guts then this is a good series for you although I would suggest going back to the beginning than starting with this one. 3/5 for me this time, thanks so much to RealReaders for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Saturday 24 January 2015

Author event & signing with Stuart MacBride

Well tonight I went with my friends to see Stuart MacBride, one has never been to a signing before so was in for a treat. We have seen Stuart before, he is always funny, has some "fruity" language and fabulous tales to share. He warned that this book has a lot less swearing and bad language in it due to so many emails and complaints from people. I find this sad, you will always have complaints from people and I fear, the bad language is only the start, next they will be calling for getting rid of Steel because she is a lesbian. Far too much censorship these days and the characters we have come to know and love are for their potty mouths and short comings. That said I do understand where he is coming from but I sincerely hope the next book returns the characters to their usual expressions.

A new author, well to me anyway, introduced him, Russel D McLean another Scottish author whom I had not heard of before. He was also funny and I will need to, at some point look him up. Or maybe I will get one of his books via a publisher for the review pile. Either way I definitely will need to check him out, the picture below is him and both he and Stuart are on twitter if you wish to follow them.c

As a result of tonights fabulous hilarity and reading I have bought the 45% hangover, Shatter the bones (I accidentally bought the one after this) and the new one which was the tour for tonight, The missing and the dead. So even though the event was free, I think the authors do well to do these as I hadn't heard of the 45% hangover, which is a novella of Steel and Logan.

The publishers had given Stuart the advertising poster on a big pole to put up and he was damn well going to do it, although it was a tad tricky :P

I can't recommend you going to see this man enough if the opportunity comes your way. His genre is crime, set in Scotland. It is dark, bloody and really takes you through the events in vivid description. It is a great series (I have read to book 6 or 7 I think) if you like gritty crime and don't have an issue with some swearing you will love these books.

Thursday 22 January 2015

Love, Lipstick and Lies by Katie Price

Love, Lipstick and LiesLove, Lipstick and Lies by Katie Price
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Publisher - Arrow books

Pages - 330

Blurb from Goodreads

Katie Price, former glamour model Jordan, is back with the most sensational installment of her life story.

The last three years of Katie Price's life have been as dramatic as ever. From the highly publicised divorce from Alex Reid to the romance and split from Leandro Penna, and a whirlwind marriage and surprise pregnancy with Kieran Hayler, Katie has been through a lot of changes. And that's just her love life.

Katie has also dealt with increasingly bitter disputes with first husband Peter Andre and her former manager, as well as her public spats with comedian Frankie Boyle, who made offensive comments about her son Harvey, and Kelly Brook, over her dalliance with Danny Cipriani.

Despite her personal life being played out in the public arena, Katie remains true to her heart by always speaking her mind and living life to the full. This fifth instalment of Katie's roller-coaster life provides intimate access to her side of all the stories with her own special brand of humour, compassion and total honesty.

My Review

Everyone knows who Katie Price is! She has had a few autobiographies out already and leaves very little out. She is honest, brash, has a bit of a potty mouth and does exactly what she wants to as she says, you could die tomorrow, seize the day!

This book covers in some detail what happened with Alex Reid, Leandro Penna & meeting Kieran and their wedding. She discusses Pete at points throughout the book, Dwight York gets a mention as well as that vile "joke" from Frankie Boyle about her son Harvey. She discusses some of her reality shows, her choices for making them and justifys some of the decisions she has made from Alex to the time the book is published.

I think she comes across fairly well, she doesn't discuss every minute detail although some readers may find her discussion of some of the sexual antics quite disturbing to read. If you have read her previous books it is similar themes and content so if your ok with them you will be fine with this book.

She certainly leads a colourful life, she is a head strong woman who rushes into love and defends her decisions and right to do so. She discusses some of her wealth in the sense of what she puts her name too, I didn't realise how many things she is into, horse riding products, clothing ranges, perfume and accessories. Wether you love or hate her, she certainly makes for an interesting read and has been very successful as a business woman and she is brutally honest about her lifestyle choices. 4/5 for me this time, very easy book to read and I would certainly read her again!

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Wednesday 14 January 2015

Author giveaway - Second Chances by Connie Stephany

This is an additional giveaway (January's comp is now live), thanks to Connie for offering a personalised signed copy of her debut novel. You can find my review here The competition will run for approximately one week, it is open to the UK and US only.

As always, entries are via the Rafflecopter, the more options you fill in the more chances you have of winning. Good luck and thanks again to Connie for providing a copy of her book for this giveaway. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Second Chances by Connie Stephany

Second ChancesSecond Chances by Connie Stephany
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - <5 hours

Pages - 163

Publisher - Lulu

Blurb from Goodreads

A year after being dumped on her wedding day, Abby Simon was still left wondering what had gone wrong. It made Adam almost impossible for Abby to get over. Since then, Abby had been on a series of dates that usually ended in disaster, and she was ready to just give up on men entirely.

When Abby unexpectedly runs into an old crush she hasn’t seen in thirteen years, she can’t help but notice he’s hotter than ever. Max wouldn’t give her the time of day back then, but to her total surprise, he seemed very interested in her now.

Just as things are heating up with Max, Adam shows up claiming he still loves Abby and leaving her was the biggest mistake of his life. Adam finally gives Abby answers as to why he left and is asking for another chance.

Abby must now make the biggest decision of her life…which man deserves a second chance?

My Review

Abby Simon is our main character, left one year ago by her fiance Adam, on the day of their wedding she is now getting her life back to normal. She has her own cafe called "Dessert first", proud to call her own and mouth watering desserts made by her own hand. Kept busy with the job, surrounded by good friends and family, things are going well despite being talked into a blind date by well meaning loved ones. The last thing Abby is expecting is a blast from the past and someone who makes her considering dating again. Just as things warm up nicely with Max, her out of reach teen crush, when Adam shows up and may be finally ready to tell Abby what happened to break her heart and cancel the wedding!

It has been a while since I have had a book from a self published author, due to time constraints and education commitments, as well as being burned in the past from it. I picked up this book with trepidation, you never know what to expect with a new author, self published or otherwise. However Mrs Stephanie was lovely from the first contact and I could do with a change so accepted.

It isn't the norm for me to comment on the cover however, I feel I must. Pink loving girlies, you will love the cover, it is screaming pink and has a wee fabby cupcake, one on the front and one on the back cover. The book is chick lit, fluffy and fairly light so the cover is a good representation of this, I believe the author also created it herself which is something to be commented on.

The story itself goes from mostly present time, to back in time to either Abby's younger years or meeting Adam or the wedding morning. The time jumps are done well, clearly signposted and relevant to the chapter you are reading when it goes back. Second Chances is about a woman broken hearted, left with lots of unanswered questions, now one year Abby is moving on and a blast from the past is just what she needs. Typical, just as things are going good and moving on, Adam is back on the scene and Abby may get the answers she has wanted to hear for so long, but how will this impact on her new relationship?

Oooh I always say chick lit is not my genre at all, I would much rather horror, crime, gore and thrillers. However, this is yet another chick lit I have devoured and really enjoyed! For a debut author and self published without a professional editor, Connie Stephany has done really really well with this book. The characters are really easy to get on board with and for the most part, like, although I dislike Adam!

I would definitely read this author again and look forward to her next book in the series, 4/5 for me this time. Thanks so much to the author for introducing me to her work and sending me a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review. This book is available to buy from Amazon or directly from the author.

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Monday 12 January 2015

Intensive Care: The Story Of A Nurse by Echo Heron

Intensive Care: The Story of a NurseIntensive Care: The Story of a Nurse by Echo Heron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 8 days on and off

Publisher - Ivy Books

Pages - 372

Blurb from Goodreads

This is a nurse's story unlike any other, because Echo Heron is a very special nurse. Dedicated to healing and helping in the harshest environments, she spent ten years in emergency rooms and intensive care units. Her story is unique, penetrating, and unforgettable. Her story is real.

My Review

Echo Heron takes us on her journey of becoming a student, training to be a nurse and then finally through her adventures and experiences as a staff nurse. Echo has a very strong personality and this comes through in her dealings with patients, friends and situations that at times I was more than a tad mortified. Some very graphic incidents are described and we follow her on an emotional, trying and sometimes upsetting scenarios.

Despite being very vocal and a strong character, nearer the end of the tale she, I felt, randomly added in a disasterous relationship where her previously strong willed character completely disappeared and it didn't add anything to the story.

This book evoked many responces from me, at times I cringed at some of her behaviour towards individuals in this book, other times I admired her spirit and once or twiced actually gasped out loud at what I was reading. I think it is a good story to give people an idea of some of the things people working in a healthcare environment experience everyday. I found this book really intersting although, in some parts, hard to read and did wonder about confidentiality and the protection of patients identities. For example, some of the more harrowing tales or one or two details, it seemed, it you lived in that country you make have been able to identy or have read about the person in the paper.

Overall it made for thought provoking reading, I do like how she engages the reader and draws you in. I would certainly read this author again and believe she has some fiction books out now also which I shall track down, 4/5 for me this time.

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January's giveaway is now open

Apologies for being so late into the month. I had two essays due and have 2 exams to sit in less than a weeks time. I haven't been sleeping much and mostly had my head in the books, then when I can't sleep, trying to enjoy some light reading.

This months giveaway is one £5 Amazon voucher, I will also get a book giveaway up, hopefully tomorrow, you lucky people. This one will run, as always, to the end of the month. You can enter by filling in the rafflecopter form below. The more options you complete, the more entries you will have. Feel free to share the competition link, tweet, facebook and as always, thank you so much for stopping by and the regulars who come by often.

As it is an Amazon voucher, as long as you have an email address and an Amazon account, you can enter the competition. Good luck guys.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday 2 January 2015

Afraid by Mandasue Heller

AfraidAfraid by Mandasue Heller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton

Pages - 344

Blurb from Goodreads

Mandasue Heller's thrilling novel is set on the gritty streets of Manchester.
When fifteen-year-old Skye's mother finally does something so shocking that it can't be hushed up, the police turn her over to the social workers - and that's when the nightmare begins.
She doesn't know if her father is alive or dead; the woman who is supposed to be helping her dumps her in a terrifying 'home' that's more like a jail. But she still has one friend to turn to: the sympathetic girl she's met in an internet chat room, the one who seems to have a home life as unhappy as Skye's. And Jade offers her a safe place to stay . . .
Alone in Manchester, nearly penniless, Skye is willing to trust Jade. Even when it isn't Jade who turns up at the rendezvous, but a grown-up man who says he's Jade's brother . . .

My Review

Set in Manchester, Skye Benson is fifteen years old living with her mum and dad, bullied at school, parents fighting and mum has some mental health issues. After a particularly horrific physical fight between her parents, Skye ends up in a children's home with more bullies. Feeling trapped, unable to find out what is going on with her parents, Skye reaches out to a friend she met on the internet, Jade. Jade can help out, she has the same issues with parents, is the same age and understands Jade completely. When Skye meets Jade it is her older brother who shows up, Skye has no reason not to trust him and gets in the car.

Oooooh this book is a doozy, it has some really dark gritty themes which can be really hard going to read, however the story pulls you in and you have to find out how it plays out. The stories jump between what is happening with Skye and then back to her father where the police, one officer in particular has a vendetta against Jeff Benson. Now his daughter is missing he has the perfect excuse to hound Jeff as his life is falling apart. Skye on the other hand is finding out that Jade's brother Tom is willing to help her anyway he can, now that the police are "after her".

What follows is a stomach turning, well executed plan to get Skye into his way of thinking and whilst the police are pre occupied with Skye's dad, Tom has all the time in the world with her. This story will have the hair on your neck standing up, makes you realize how quickly someone can ruin your life and an insight into Stockholm syndrome and the conditions required to evoke this psychological phenomenon.

The book is fast paced, harrowing, covers many themes including childing exploitation, rape, pedophilia, murder, family violence and relationships to name just a few. It is not an easy read due to the subject content however it is done well enough that you know exactly what is transpiring without focusing purely on the stomach turning details. Due to the story line there does need to be some detail on some of the sexual content and for that I would warn readers before picking up the book. I think Heller has done very well in how she has handled it and it does not deflect or detract from the actual story line.

I think this is one of those books that will stay with you for a long time after putting it down. This is a great author, I can't recommend her high enough. I was a big apprehensive picking this one up as I haven't been enjoying books so much lately, I am glad I did though. 5/5 for me this time and thanks to the publicist over at Hodder & Stoughton for giving me an advanced reading copy. This book came out yesterday so you can grab your own copy now!

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