Wednesday 28 December 2016

The Victim by Kimberley Chambers

The Victim (Mitchell's & O'Hara's, #3)The Victim by Kimberley Chambers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Publisher - Preface Publishing

Pages - 432

Blurb from Goodreads

Life is looking bleak for Frankie Mitchell - not only has she lost custody of her two children to their sadistic, gypsy-bred father, Jed O'Hara, she is also pregnant and banged up in Holloway awaiting trial for attempted murder.

In Frankie's absence, her father, underworld boss Eddie Mitchell, is determined to get his own back. He wants revenge not only for his daughter's imprisonment, but also for the death of his beloved wife, Jessica. Determined to get his grandchildren back home where they belong, Eddie plans the O'Haras demise slowly and precisely. But then he finds out a secret and learns the real reason why his daughter is in the slammer and all hell breaks loose.

Essex had never seen anything like the bloodbath that followed, but were either family actually capable of winning this long running feud, or would they all become the victims of their own past mistakes?

My Review

If you haven't read the previous two books, stop and go and pick them up, to really get the full story you need to go back to the beginning. So, Frankie Mitchell is in the jail, her kids are on the missing list, Eddie is out for justice and doesn't even know the full extent of Frankie's imprisonment.

Oooh, we found out the real reason Frankie attacked in the last book and Frankie isn't for telling anyone the truth, she knows the retribution that will follow if the truth is exposed. As long as her ex sticks to their deal, but Jed isn't a man to be trusted and Frankie isn't just a Mitchell in name. This book sees a lot of the past actions catching up with our characters, cause and effect and things will never be the same for the O'Hara's or the Mitchell's.

This book makes for tough reading in some parts, abuse, violence, drugs, sex, betrayal, brutality particularly in the initial scenes in the woman's prison. The tense relationship between father and daughter may also evoke strong emotions in some readers, despite it being an accident Frankie can't get over her father killing her mother. In her time of need she can't help but turn to her father, it is an emotive ride for Frankie, trying to do right by her family whilst trying to protect her kids.

Chambers weaves a web of dark characters, giving them depth and dimensions that you can't help but love some and loathe others. I have always said if you like the Kray style stories and timelines you will enjoy these books but you have to start at the beginning, 4/5 for me this time.

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Sunday 18 December 2016

Take A Chance On Me by Carol Wyer

Take A Chance On MeTake A Chance On Me by Carol E. Wyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 325

Publisher - Bookouture

Blurb from Goodreads

It’s time for Charlie to ditch the life that’s been dragging her down in this romantic, funny, feel good read!

Since splitting from her husband, Charlie’s life has been stuck in a rut. Best friendMercedes will do anything to put a smile back on Charlie’s face and so draws up a bucket list of things to help Charlie recover her mojo.

Sure enough, as Charlie works her way through the list, belly dancing and bungee jumping, she makes new friends and even begins to attract some male attention.

Journalist Jake gives Charlie butterflies but he almost seems too perfect – there must be a reason why he’s single. Perhaps Rob would be a better bet – yes he’s short and he drinks too much - but a girl can’t have everything can she?

The final challenge on Charlie’s list looms large. Can Charlie complete it and prove to herself that life is for living, whatever may have happened in the past? And can Jake get through to Charlie and stop her from settling for the single life or, the wrong man?

Join Charlie as she finds her happy-ever-after in this hilarious, heartwarming read that will make you laugh, cry and live your life to the full!
This book was previously published as Three Little Birds

My Review

Charlie's life has been a bit crap, her daughter died, her relationship with her husband has crumbled and her life is in a bit of a rut. Her best friend Mercedes comes up with a great idea, creating a bucket list Charlie needs to do, it will kick up her routine, force her into new and exciting situations and take her mind off life current predicaments. During all this Charlie meets two very different men, Rob who likes a drink, is quite a flirt and certainly offers a bit of excitement and then there is Jake, a journalist who is beautiful, funny and has a knack of just turning up at the most inopportune moments. Whilst Charlie is moving on and finding a new lease for life, one aspect of her old life won't go away and some people just can't let go!

So for me this story came at the right time, I had just finished reading a really dark tale so needed something that was a bit heartwarming. Charlie is such a nice person, she helps out at the radio at the hospital, does good deeds with little expectation in return and generally sweet. Mercedes list brings challenges and helps build some confidence for Charlie whilst opening doors to some new folk in her life. We see her grow as a character, learn to appreciate her abilities and expand her social circle. The book takes a bit of a dark turn that almost seems like a different story, Charlie has someone in her past who can't let go and doesn't want to see her move on. The tale gets dark and almost becomes a thriller in respects to one angle before resuming the feel good focus. I think for some readers they may dislike that whilst others will love it, I didn't mind it really and liked it overall. This is my first time reading this author, I would certainly read her again, 4/5 for me this time.

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Asking For It by Louise O'Neill

Asking For ItAsking For It by Louise O'Neill
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 346

Publisher - Quercus UK

Blurb from Goodreads

It's the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O'Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there's a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can't remember what happened, she doesn't know how she got there. She doesn't know why she's in pain. But everyone else does.

Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don't want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town's heroes...

My review

This book is NOT for the faint hearted, an 18 year old school girl, popular, the queen bee of her social circle and not the easiest to like character. She is sick of being the "good girl" everything her parents want her to be and decides to let her hair down at at party. However her good time mixes drugs and alcohol and Emma doesn't remember all the events of the evening. It is plastered over social media, her peers are judging her and when Emma realizes what has transpired she feels sick, upset, violated and confused.

So we kick off with Emma, not a particularly nice individual, she goes after other girls men not because she wants them but often because she can. She isn't very nice to her friends and even steals from one of them. She is beautiful, well liked and has high status in her social groups which adds to the image the reader conjures. Then, in the space of one evening it all changes, Emma goes from top to bottom. No longer the top of her circle she is judged, labels like slut, whore, asking for it and worse, photographic and video evidence of the events are up for public viewing. This book is a very uncomfortable read, the issue of consent is raised, how much responsibility lies with the victim. What about when a town judges you, who can say they haven't went a bit wild on a night out and then it all goes wrong and you are judged on previous behaviours.

I think making the character really unlikeable was a very clever move by the author, how quick are people to judge when they hear a rumour, see a photograph, read a news story. Condemn someone with all the facts, throw into it a small town, popular boys and a bitchy girl who is now the one being judged. It makes the reader question how quickly they would jump on the band wagon, how quick do we make assumptions and how much weight does a crime have when the victim is not quite "snow white". Considering how much judgement is passed on rape victims, what their past is, how they behaved, how many people they have slept with, I think for being a fictional story it forces the reader into the uncomfortable position of analyzing their own preconceptions and quick to make judgements. 3/5 for me this time, I found it frustrating at times and I know in some aspects it is mirroring reality but still irritating. If you can make it through the content, rape/consent you really should read it, I think for young men and women a cautionary tale that in reality could happen to anyone.

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Saturday 17 December 2016

The Feud by Kimberley Chambers

The Feud (Mitchell's & O'Hara's #1)The Feud by Kimberley Chambers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off for 2 days

Pages - 480

Publisher - Preface Publishing

Blurb from Amazon

On one side are the Mitchells, a notorious underworld mob from East London's Canning Town. They have an iron in every fire and will resort to intimidation and violence to get what they want. When Stanley Smith's lovely young daughter, Jessica, announces that she is to marry Eddie, the son of mob boss Harry Mitchell, Stanley is horrified, but too afraid to stand in their way.

On the other side are the O'Haras. The Mitchells' biggest rivals are a travelling family who live in nearby Stratford. They compete with the Mitchells for pub protection and the two families hate each other.

Caught between these two families at war, are two innocent children, who will grow up to love the wrong people and spark the last terrible act in the long-running feud. 1988 was a happy year in many people's lives. Some called it The Rave Year, others The Second Summer of Love. For Eddie Mitchell and his family it is neither. 1988 is the year in which his whole dangerous, violent world explodes around him.

My Review

The first book in a trilogy of the Mitchell's and the O'Hara's, when Jimmy O'Hara slashes Eddie, Eddie retaliates by beating Jimmy half to death with a baseball bat, there in is born a feud that lasts a life time. Both have kids and go their separate ways however fate brings both families together in a way neither could imagine with life changing consequences.

Oooooh what a kick to a new series, the main focus starts with the Mitchell's, their kids, growing empires and family, close and extended. The O'Hara's come in via their son Jed, a cocky young chappy with the looks and chat to snare any female that comes into his path. Forbidden love often draws people together and in the land of gangsters it is no different, a love kicks off a chain of events no one could foresee.

As well as the usual Chambers is well known for, gritty crime, bad language, murders and sex this one has a representative of the times. Set in the 80's we see homophobia and racism raise its ugly head so most assuredly not for the easily offended. I was delighted to find I hadn't read this series and have the other two to batter through, I would have read this in one sitting had work and Christmas prep not got in the way. Definitely in my top 2016 reads, 5/5 for me this time, I am a huge Chambers fan and can't wait to get into the next installment!

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The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

The ChemistThe Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 6 days on and off

Pages - 528

Publisher - Sphere

Blurb from Goodreads

She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn't even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning.

Now she rarely stays in the same place or uses the same name for long. They've killed the only other person she trusted, but something she knows still poses a threat. They want her dead, and soon.

When her former handler offers her a way out, she realises it's her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers. To her horror, the information she acquires only makes her situation more dangerous.

Resolving to meet the threat head-on, she prepares for the toughest fight of her life but finds herself falling for a man who can only complicate her likelihood of survival. As she sees her choices being rapidly whittled down, she must apply her unique talents in ways she never dreamed of.

My Review

Her name constantly changes, it needs to, she is on the run from the Government. Previously employed as an "extractor" she used her knowledge of chemicals to torture and get info from the bad guys to save the innocents until they turned on her. Now she is the hunted, pulled out from her hiding to hunt down a sadist killer who thinks nothing of taking out millions of people, she agrees to meet one of the government operatives. Back to doing what she does best, she goes to work extracting information, but what the prisoner tells her is not what she is expecting and now she finds herself in danger from all camps and not knowing who to believe!

Ooooh think a female style Jason Bourne, The Chemist knows her way around chemicals and she isn't afraid to use them to torture for the greater good. She trusts no one and rightly so, her name changes constantly to keep her identity a secret. A constant game of cat and mouse, she can trust no one. However her prisoner makes her question everything she knows and worse, feelings she is not used to having come to the surface. Trying to survive in a world where no one can be trusted, fling into the mix a male who stirs up feelings she didn't know she could feel and a presence who resents everything she is!

This is a story of relationships, self preservation, personal growth, learning to reintegrate into societal relationships in very unnatural circumstances, murder, trust, betrayal and loyalty. Oh and lets not forget there are some very fabulous well trained loyal dogs, I love dogs in any kind of story! Things I didn't love so much, the main character is a machine, her main operative is staying alive, yet so many decisions and choices she makes questions the earlier version of the character we meet in the start of the book. One character is a machine, indestructible, a high end operative and assassin yet some of the lingo he uses just doesn't fit with who he is presented as in the book. Despite that I did enjoy the book, I would give it, overall, 3.5, as Goodreads and my blog doesn't do point stars, it is a 3/5 for me this time. I enjoyed the Twilight books and I did like this one I just didn't love it, I would read her next book and if you like a thriller style book give this one a spin. Thanks so much to Anne Cater from Random Things Through My Letter Box for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Sunday 11 December 2016

A Lesser Evil by Lesley Pearse

A Lesser EvilA Lesser Evil by Lesley Pearse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 498

Publisher - Penguin Books

Blurb from Goodreads

Would you cross the street if wickedness lived there?

When Fifi moves to London with her bricklayer boyfriend Dan, her mother is outraged. Despite initial feelings of horror at her new surroundings, Fifi finds the freedom from her middle-class family background exhilarating.

Insatiably inquisitive, Fifi is fascinated by her new neighbours and wants to know what goes on behind all those shabby front doors. Why is Yvette, the French dressmaker, such a hermit? Why doesn't widower Frank join his daughter and grandchildren in Australia? And why doesn't the formidable and well-bred Miss Diamond move somewhere smarter?

But most of all she is ghoulishly fascinated by the Muckles who live opposite in terrible squalor. She listens to their violent quarrels, watches their ill-treated and wretchedly unhappy children, and is appalled by all she sees.

When Fifi tries to help the Muckles' youngest child, who has been physically abused by her father, Fifi unwittingly unleashes a chain of events which will not only bring heartache to her and Dan, but terrible danger to all the inhabitants of Dale Street ...

My Review

Fifi isn't your average girl of the 1960s, she has a career and not falling over herself to get married. When she meets Dan she risks further disapproval from her mother and frozen out from her family, true love will always win. Dan trys to give Fifi everything she deserves, coming from money Fifi has always known the best, choosing Dan introduces her to a new way of life. Moving to London to find work, Fifi follows her husband and meet some of the poorest people and conditions but meets people who teach her about real life. The darker side of the street comes to light, Fifi realises that she is not only next to criminals but a family who abuse their children, exploit anyone who is naive enough to get in their way and who liase with some very dangerous people.

Ooooh I do love Pearse, she has a way of writing that pulls you in and merges you with the characters, feeling the emotions and living the life alongside them. This book, as with the others of hers I have read, covers some hard and emotive subjects. Child abuse, grief, love, lies, violence, murder and terror and just some of the subjects covered in this book. A glimpse into the life of the privileged and that of those struggling to make ends meet, how people respond differently to poverty and how low some people can sink.

A book that packs a punch, I have read Pearse before and I will absolutely read her again, 4/5 for me this time!

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The Rest Of My Life by Sheryl Browne

The Rest of My LifeThe Rest of My Life by Sheryl Browne
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 246

Publisher - Choc Lit

Blurb from Goodreads

You can’t run away from commitment forever …

Adam Hamilton-Shaw has more reason than most to avoid commitment. Living on a houseboat in the Severn Valley, his dream is to sail into the sunset – preferably with a woman waiting in every port. But lately, his life looks more like a road to destruction than an idyllic boat ride…

Would-be screenplay writer Sienna Meadows realises that everything about Adam spells trouble – but she can’t ignore the feeling that there is more to him than just his bad reputation. Nor can she ignore the intense physical attraction that exists between them.

And it just so happens that Adam sees Sienna as the kind of woman he could commit to. But can he change his damaging behaviour – or is the road to destruction a one-way street?

My Review

Adam is a Lothario in a small town, on a path to self destruction. After a personal tragedy and relationship crisis, Adam is going about life the wrong way. Bedding wives, girlfriends and just about any woman who comes along his path, Adam is making himself a target for the wrong kind of attention. Enter Sienna, sweet, innocent, who has rented a cottage with her friend, her wee dog and is writing her screen play. When she sees the Adonis that is Adam she can't help but be drawn to him, aware of his reputation she aims to keep her distance. However as the attraction grows, Sienna can't help but ignore her head and listen to her body. With so much stacked against them, can Adam get over his past and Sienna keep her heart safe?

This is a very chick lit book, relationships, lust and attraction are big features however there are more layers and deeper emotive topics covered. Adams previous relationship has left emotional scars and the driving force for his behaviour with woman and alcohol. His friend wants to support him but we all have our limits and Adam is pushing the boundaries. Sienna is almost sickly sweet, some of her behaviour, for me, was very irritating however I believe it echos the reality of some women in positions such as she finds herself in. Adam will draw in scores of female fans who would love to rush in and save him from himself, he does have many layers rather than just the boy toy he initially presents as. For some readers, I think he will evoke fury, having no respect for some of the women (or their partners) when he beds them. Infidelity often gives rise to rage for a lot of readers so just an FYI.

The story goes along the boy meets girl style story, obstacles in the way however it goes a bit deeper and delves into issues that some readers may find a touch a nerve. We hear a lot from Adams view point which is quite refreshing as a lot of these books have the female as the main protagonist. Certainly a different read and whilst I didn't love the characters, I did have a soft spot for Sienna's father, I did enjoy the book. 3/5 for me this time, this is my first dance with this author, I would read her again. I voluntarily reviewed this book, thanks to the author for introducing me to her writing!

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Sunday 4 December 2016

Christmas Giveaway

My new wee latern from B&M, I love it!

Sorry I am a bit late with December's giveaway, I cannot believe it is the 4th already! The draw for last months competition has been announced and the winner emailed. So nothing for it but to get Decembers up, I have decided to draw it earlier this year and try and get it to the winner before Christmas. If you enter and are outwith the UK it won't get there before the holidays I am afraid, if you are in the UK it should as we will draw the competition to a close on Friday the 16th of December and if the winner has provided all the info needed I will hit the post office on Saturday.

As you can see, we have been embracing the festive period here, well I have and dragging the others with me. We usually do decorations up 12 days before and down 12 days after, but a wee bit of Christmas here and there doesn't count! So, this months prize will be a wee surprise giveaway, a surprise book and maybe a wee extra something. Merry Christmas guys, as always please use the Rafflecopter to enter, the more entries you complete the more times your name goes into the draw, open worldwide.

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Bridget Jones's Baby by Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones's Baby: The DiariesBridget Jones's Baby: The Diaries by Helen Fielding
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - <4 hours

Pages - 219

Blurb from Goodreads

Bridget Jones, beloved Singleton and global phenomenon, is back with a bump in Bridget Jones's Baby: The Diaries.
8:45 P.M. Realize there have been so many times in my life when have fantasized about going to a scan with Mark or Daniel: just not both at the same time.
Before motherhood, before marriage, Bridget with biological clock ticking very, very loudly, finds herself unexpectedly pregnant at the eleventh hour: a joyful pregnancy which is dominated, however, by a crucial but terribly awkward question who is the father? Mark Darcy: honourable, decent, notable human rights lawyer? Or Daniel Cleaver: charming, witty, notable fuckwit?
9:45 PM It s like they re two halves of the perfect man, who ll spend the rest of their lives each wanting to outdo the other one. And now it s all enacting itself in my stomach.
In this gloriously funny, touching story of baby-deadline panic, maternal bliss, and social, professional, technological, culinary and childbirth chaos, Bridget Jones global phenomenon and the world s favorite Singleton is back with a bump."

My Review

We all know my feelings on book 3, Mad About The Boy, so it was lovely to head back to a nicer time and in this book we find Bridget, Mark and Daniel again in another "relationship" nightmare. Bridget has a dalliance with each of the boys, one night only resulting in a pregnancy, having no idea which is the father, the three try to work together to get through the pregnancy. As always, told in diary format Bridget catalogs the hilarious trials and tribulations from the run up to pregnancy, coping with the boys and being pregnant and how it impacts her whole life really!

This is one of the few times I preferred the movie to the book, the film is my fav of them all but I did still enjoy the book. The movie sees the introduction of a billionaire and Cleaver is not around however the book stays true to the characters and we have the age old competitive rivalry between the two men, Darcy and Cleaver.

The tale opens written to the baby with Bridget explaining he will hear the story anyway so she would rather hear it from her and her diary entries. Considering some of the content, probably not what I would leave for my kid, some of Cleaver's attitude will quite probably offend some readers however he was always a cad so it isn't really anything new. Timeline wise, this one is set before Mad About The Boy and if you haven't read it I personally would by pass it. Also if you haven't seen the movie, go check it out, absolutely brilliant. 3/5 for me this time, it is always nice to catch up with Bridg especially when all is right in the world of regular characters!

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Saturday 26 November 2016

Blind Date with a book

So I had a look about online to see what book delivery boxes are available as my book saving jar (you put £1 in a jar for every book you read from Jan 1st to December 31st) will be up next month. There are many sites and offers out there but some of them are pretty pricey. I recently found one, on Etsy and Facebook, that offers you one book, a drink of your choice, a wee charm, a tea light candle and some sweets. It is ridiculously good value, under £10 (UK, for International postage is more expensive) for all of that and that is including postage. You can pick your style (genre) and the drink of your choice from your Etsy drop down menu, click here to go straight to the Etsy site. Here is the Facebook link, click here if you love postage, surprise book post (it is a blind date!) and wee extra goodies guys this is honestly the best.

So, as with most people, you are always a bit suspect when ordering things online and small new businesses. I could not be more happy with my delivery. Lets have a wee look at mine, also please remember it is ONE book with your box, I got two in mine however the normal will be you get one book as listed.

So it came wrapped in brown paper, then wrapped in black tissue with a wee gold heart. The book itself is wrapped in brown paper and the sweeties also wrapped in purple tissue :D black and purple, my fave colours, by chance not request!

Inside I had my wee hot chocolate and a wee mini milk, sweeties as you can see below in the pictures and an adorable wee owl charm that I am going to turn into a hanging bookmark I think.

I cannot recommend this enough guys, I will post when my next one comes, I am going to order it tonight. I may even get a few for Christmas presents for my fellow book geeks. Some books are brand new, some are used, you won't know which book it is until it arrives so it could be one you have read before, it is a blind date. I was delighted that I haven't read mine but even if I had (I have 5 bookcases and 300+ books on my kindle so it was a possibility) I wouldn't have minded. For the price you really can't complain and I don't mind re reading a book, I have re read a fair few in my time and whilst I give lots away & do comps, I think as my first ever box I will be keeping both! Lets support small businesses and spoil ourselves with a little indulgence. Oh and if you order, please leave a review and like the Facebook page and word of mouth is what supports and keeps these wee businesses going!

And if all of that wasn't enough, the string that comes with the box and on my wee book has been providing hours of fun for Princess, she will be 16 in January, doesn't keep in great health and I haven't seen her this playful in ages. So a wee additional extra for the kitty, delighted.

Jodi Picoult Book Launch Small Great Things

You can read my review for Small Great Things here, I was very lucky to get an ARC copy from Netgalley.

Last night me & my beautiful friends and friends eldest daughter went along to the Kelvin Grove Art gallery & museum for the book tour Small Great Things. How stunning is the inside of the gallery! Tickets were £20 which I know some people think is quite steep for a book event however this included a signed hardback copy of the new book and Picoult is a fabulous speaker. Not only that the poor lamb had laryngitis and kept going like a trooper!

You can read the review for the book as above however I just want to reiterate that this is a book that will stay with you, racism, injustice and it will make you question yourself too. Last night someone asked her how she felt about the timing of the book what with everything that is happening in America just now. Her answer gave me goosebumps, she said this book is 200 years in coming, it addresses issues that even now are often skirted around. 2016 and racism is still an ugly but very real issue, more so or certainly more in the public eye with Trumps election, Jodie answered with class and honestly she is just such a classy woman with such a great attitude.

The book cover is not like the one posted on Goodreads and linked on my review, it is beautiful and I know I am not normally one to comment much on covers. The front Is black and white striped with a mild texture to it, the writing is a gold/orange shimer as is the spine cover. I was planning on giving the book away as a competition prize but I may just hold on to it, see the pictures below and Princess Trixie is of course in the picture too!.

If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing Picoult speak and back and fro over going, seriously guys go. It is a great night, really worth it and we all enjoyed it. You come away with a great book and thinking a little bit differently!

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Penance by Theresa Talbot

PenancePenance by Theresa Talbot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - < 1 day

Pages - 315

Publisher - Strident

Blurb from Goodreads

TV journalist and media darling Oonagh O'Neil faces danger and chaos when an elderly priest dies on the altar of his Glasgow church. His death comes as she is about to expose the shocking truth behind the closure of a Magdalene Institution.
The Church has already tried to suppress the story. Is someone covering their tracks?
What secrets lie behind the derelict Institution's doors? What sparked the infamous three-day riot that closed t? And what happened to the three 'Maggies' who vowed to stay forever friends?

My Review

We open in Glasgow 1958 to a chilling scene in a Magdalene institution, the next chapter flips to present day, the year 2000 and a priest dies on the altar. We are swiftly introduced to Oonagh O'Neil, a TV journalist and favorite with the people who is doing a tv piece on the Magdalene Institution with the help of her friend and younger priest Tom Findlay. Oonagh has relationship issues, particularly her boyfriend being a married man, Tom is having a crisis with his faith and the priest who died on the alter's death may not be as it first appeared.

Oooh this is a busy wee book, the scenes that briefly visit the Magdalene institution are quite upsetting and disturbing. I think mostly because we know, whilst this is a fiction book that these places existed and the thought of these poor women being exploited, beaten and used is heartbreaking. In current events, the younger priest is having faith issues which may not sit well with some readers of a religion background. The issue of infidelity and extramarital sex may also prickle with some audiences, however all that aside we have some other hot topics. Murders, lies, violence, blackmail, extortion and secrets are just some of the themes covered in this story.

A strong debut, (Talbot has written another book although that is non fiction), a page turner and an opening chapter that will have the hair on the back of your neck standing. This is my first time reading this author, I would certainly read more of her work if and when she brings out another. 4/5 for me this time, Penance is available to buy from all good retailers, go check it out.

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Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land

Good Me, Bad MeGood Me, Bad Me by Ali Land
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 400

Publisher - Penguin

Blurb from Goodreads

'NEW N A M E .
S H I N Y.
ME . '

Annie's mother is a serial killer.

The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police.

But out of sight is not out of mind.

As her mother's trial looms, the secrets of her past won't let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name - Milly.

A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be.

But Milly's mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water.

Good me, bad me.

She is, after all, her mother's daughter...

My Review

Annie changed everything when she went to the police, her mother has since been arrested for the murder of nine children. Annie is placed with a new foster family, her name is now Milly and Milly is trying to be good, Milly's mother talks to her (in her head) and the badness tries to creep up. Good Me, Bad Me is about a young girl who is struggling to come to terms with all the abuse she endured at the hands of her mother, all she has seen and all she has done. Milly wants to be a good person, she really does but she can't get her mother out of her head, her new foster sister is a spoiled evil brat and the foster parents have their own issues to deal with.

This book hints at quite a lot, we know poor Milly has been abused by her mother although not the full extent, as we read further more details emerge. Milly has been forced to participate in her mothers "games" again a lot is hinted as but the book doesn't go into depth on details which some readers will find refreshing. As a teenager and still legally a child, Milly is placed with a foster family and we see her have an internal battle trying to be a new and better person whilst having the effects of all she has endured with her mother.

Some of the book makes for very uncomfortable reading, the bullying from the foster sister is horrible, the atrocities and hate campaign launched against poor Milly is horrendous leaving the reader, well it did me, very angry and frustrated. You are rooting for Milly along the way and hoping someone catches on to what is happening to her, she seems to fall victim to so many situations yet stoically powers on. This book is being tipped as one of the biggest for 2017, whilst I enjoyed it and found it to be engaging I was frustrated at quite a few points and angered at the seniors and authorities. 3/5 for me this time, I voluntarily reviewed this for Netgalley, Good ME Bad Me is available to buy January 2017.

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Tuesday 15 November 2016

Adventures In Human Being by Gavin Francis

Adventures in Human Being (Wellcome)Adventures in Human Being by Gavin Francis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 6 days on and off

Pages - 252

Publisher - Profile Books Limited

Blurb from Goodreads

We have a lifetime's association with our bodies, but for many of us they remain uncharted territory. In Adventures in Human Being, Gavin Francis leads the reader on a journey through health and illness, offering insights on everything from the ribbed surface of the brain to the secret workings of the heart and the womb; from the pulse of life at the wrist to the unique engineering of the foot. Drawing on his own experiences as a doctor and GP, he blends first-hand case studies with reflections on the way the body has been imagined and portrayed over the millennia. If the body is a foreign country, then to practice medicine is to explore new territory. Francis leads the reader on an adventure through what it means to be human. Both a user's guide to the body and a celebration of its elegance, this book will transform the way you think about being alive, whether in sickness or in health.

My Review

I saw this book at the airport and was drawn to the cover, it isn't often I comment on covers but this one pulled me over. The human skeleton with words of body parts etched into the visible parts of the body. Doctor Francis takes us on a trip through the human body, given insights into different parts of the anatomy, workings within the body and to keep it interesting he gives some stories about patients past.

I do enjoy a book where you learn something as you go along, I also like to read about real life human experiences. The human body is an amazing vessel, intricate workings and even when one part fails to work at optimal, the body still continues and compensates, obviously within reason, if your head is removed it is game over.

The only thing I would say is there were a lot of things that people would need to google and in some parts he went off on a tangent or brought in things I didn't feel were always relevant to the section I was reading. I would have loved more of the personal stories and maybe some more laymen terms however overall an engaging read where you can learn a few things about the fabulous human body. 4/5 for me this time, this author does have other works available that I will at some point track down, I won't be rushing out to get the back catalog just yet though.

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Monday 14 November 2016

Second Look by Connie Stephany

Second Look (New Beginnings, #2)Second Look by Connie Stephany
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 248

Blurb from Goodreads

Adam Jackson is not proud of his string of bad decisions. Cheating on his girlfriend, irrevocably hurting the woman he loved since high school and dumping his fiancée on their wedding day are just the tip of the iceberg. When an unspeakable tragedy pushes him to take a hard look at his life, Adam says goodbye to the no-strings hookups and begins to make amends with the women he hurt in the past. The only problem is the woman he wants to find the most has disappeared off the face of the earth.

Jennifer Sylvester has only loved one man in her life, but she’s made one mistake after another with him. She hasn’t seen him in four years and she’s determined to make sure their paths never cross again. When Jennifer is offered her dream job back home in Minnesota, she’s unable to turn it down. She packs up her daughter and moves back home, hoping she’s able to stay hidden from the man who still holds her heart.

When Adam and Jennifer finally reunite, old sparks begin to fly. But can Adam break down the walls Jennifer has spent so long building up? And more importantly, is Jennifer brave enough to ask Adam for something that could once again tear them apart?

My Review

Second Look revisits some of the characters from the first book Second Chances, Adam had left his bride to be and the book concentrated on that. Now in book two, we get to really meet Adam, his life now and some throwback to what happened to make him leave his bride to be in the first book. Jennifer is back, the woman who turned his world upside down in book one, his old flame and bringing with her her daughter. When tragedy strikes, Adam reevaluates his life, his casual love them and leave them attitude and how things ended with Jennifer. For Jennifer, she has never quite got over Adam and being this close to him isn't easy, she cannot allow herself to get caught up with him again and risk having her heart broken again. Her daughter is her main concern not what her heart is telling her, will Jennifer listen to her head or follow her heart?

I would absolutely recommend reading book one guys, you get a better feel for the character and it is always good to know the background history. The timeline splits between current events and every now and again flips back to the past to give some more insight into the Adam & Jennifer dating period. The chapters are well marked so you can follow the time sequence easily and differentiate between the duo timeline.

There are a lot of emotional aspects within the tale, grief, loss, personal growth, family, cause and effect. It was interesting to learn more about the characters of Adam and Jennifer which gives a bit more insight into what happened in the first story. I wasn't as captivated by the tale as I was the first book, I think because being jilted at the alter is on a very different scale to the in depth story examination of relationships & personal growth. There was a bit of the story with a spikey character that I thought was going to go in a very different direction and create havoc and lots of drama, however it petered out leaving me feeling it was a tad unfinished, for that character. The author creates a scope of characters that holds your interest and leaves you wanting to read more about them and see where their future heads. 3/5 for me this time, I would read this author again and I believe there may be more to come in the New Beginnings series. I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book, all views as always are my own.

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Sunday 13 November 2016

Zom-B by Darren Shan

Zom-B (Zom-B, #1)Zom-B by Darren Shan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 217

Publisher - Simon & Schuster

Blurb from Goodreads

Zom-B is a radical new series about a zombie apocalypse, told in the first person by one of its victims. The series combines classic Shan action with a fiendishly twisting plot and hard-hitting and thought-provoking moral questions dealing with racism, abuse of power and more. This is challenging material, which will captivate existing Shan fans and bring in many new ones. As Darren says, "It's a big, sprawling, vicious tale...a grisly piece of escapism, and a barbed look at the world in which we live. Each book in the series is short, fast-paced and bloody. A high body-count is guaranteed!"

My Review

This is the first book in a zombie series, we open with B our main character, a teenager who is still at school when the first stirrings of a zombie outbreak starts. No one really believes it and thinks the videos & news are mock ups. We follow B through relatively mundane happenings, until over 100 pages in we finally get our first glimpse of the undead.

So, for me this was a bit more like Fear The Walking Dead rather than The Walking Dead, heavily focused on the pre and build up to the actual onslaught. B is not a likable main character, a lot of time is spent being a bully or just horrible selfish behaviour to assessing the behviour and not wanting to be like her very racist father. There are scenes of bullying, racism, violence and when the zombies finally show up, some gore. There are also some black and white illustration artwork scattered throughout the book which makes for a nice wee change I thought.

There is a lot focus on self exploration of B's attitude, family values (that of white extremist attitude of the father), pack mentality in schools and survival mode. There are quite a few books in this series, I have already bought them so will be reading them. I would advise this may not be for the die hard zombie fans as it is a slow burner and not quite as much focus on the outbreak and zombies as it is on the characters however it is still a decent read, 3/5 for me.

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