Sunday 24 January 2016

When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen

When She Was BadWhen She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Publisher - Black Swan

Pages - 384

Blurb from Goodreads



Amira, Sarah, Paula, Ewan and Charlie have worked together for years - they know how each one likes their coffee, whose love life is a mess, whose children keep them up at night. But their comfortable routine life is suddenly shattered when an aggressive new boss walks in ....

Now, there's something chilling in the air.

Who secretly hates everyone?

Who is tortured by their past?

Who is capable of murder?

My review

The book opens up with Dr Anne Cater, her friend has messaged her to turn on the news, there has been a brutal killing by a seemingly normal person, but Anne knows different! The chapters are headed with an individuals name, next is Paula, surround by her colleagues, discussing their previous boss Gill being sacked and what she should do about it. It is a relatively small office and soon we are introduced to each of the characters, Amira, Sarah, Chloe, Ewan & Charlie. A close group until Gill is fired and Rachel Masters takes over, driven, harsh, mean and will use what she needs to to get results. The chapters flip between the characters, the events that lead up to the murder and flipping back to Anne, a child psychologist called in to assess a particularly harrowing case. As the book progresses we see the two story lines come together to leave the reader shocked and wanting more!

Ooft you thought you worked in a bad environment? Imagine being close to your colleagues only to find all it takes is a new boss and people you thought were your friends ready to screw you over for a promotion! Ridicule you to gain favour with the bosses boss or just wanting your job. This is what we find in this tale, a breakdown of friendships, a murder has been committed and your guessing throughout who done it and why. The murder itself, when covered is quite gruesome, some of the details Dr Cater discloses during her observations of her case are quite horrific to read, more so because children are involved.

It is a fast paced tale, not very likable characters and yet you are compelled to watch their relationships break down devouring page by page to find what happens next. Cohen creates dark and twisted tales that leave your skin prickled and feeling creeped out at how one individual can wreck so much havoc. This is certainly one of my favourite tales by this author, 4/5 for me this time, When She Was Bad is out to buy from the 21st of April 2016. Thanks so much to Netgalley and Black Swan for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday 19 January 2016

The One I Love by Anna McPartlin

The One I LoveThe One I Love by Anna McPartlin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 355

Publisher - Penguin

Blurb from Goodreads


Once, Jane Moore and Alexandra Walsh were inseparable, sharing secrets and stolen candy, plotting their futures together. But when Jane became pregnant at seventeen, they drifted slowly apart. Jane has spent the years since raising her son, now seventeen himself, on her own, running a gallery, managing her sister’s art career, and looking after their volatile mother—all the while trying not to resent the limited choices life has given her.

Then a quirk of fate and a faulty elevator bring Jane into contact with Tom, Alexandra’s husband, who has some shocking news. Alexandra disappeared from a south Dublin suburb months ago, and Tom has been searching fruitlessly for her. Jane offers to help, as do the elevator’s other passengers—Jane’s brilliant but self-absorbed sister, Elle, and Leslie Sheehan, a reclusive web designer who’s ready to step back into the world again. And as Jane quickly realizes, Tom isn’t the only one among them who’s looking for something . . . or traveling toward unexpected revelations about love, life, and what it means to let go, in every sense.

In this insightful and irresistible novel, by turns profound, poignant, and laugh- out-loud funny, acclaimed Irish writer Anna McPartlin tells a story of friendship and love, of the families we are born into and the ones we create for ourselves, and of the hope and strength that remain when we fi nd the courage to leave the past behind at last.

My Review

Alexandra Walsh is missing, gone out to pick up tickets and then nothing, no contact, just gone. Jane Moore was once her best friend, but like a lot of friendships, life and events saw them separate. A chance meeting at a concert brings Alexandra's husband into contact with Jane, Jane's sister Elle & Leslie. After being trapped together in a lift, they decide they will help Tom to try and find Alexandra. Elle is a loose cannon, a liability but a fantastic artist who has many demons she needs to address. Leslie has lost so many of her family to cancer, she tested for the gene and has decided the best way to be safe is to keep a distance from people & family. This chance meeting will see them all come together and in helping Tom expose themselves to friendship and self exploration and personal growth.

There is a lot about this story I liked, when someone disappears you want to know what has happened. Relationships forming and learning more about the characters, some happiness, some sadness and some laughter in between. People coming together, growth of characters and vesting interest is always a great art created by some very talented authors. What didn't I like? There are themes of infidelity, some codes broken that as friends and or family you just wouldn't do, lines you do not cross. However, in saying that, it does happen and brings realism to the story, I still personally do not like it.

Yet another good tale by McPartlin, I enjoy meeting and following the characters she creates. I really wanted to know what happened to Alexandra and getting to know the characters followed secondary to that. Once the story got kick started, you find yourself being drawn in and not wanting to put the book down so you can find where their paths are going. 3/5 for me this time, I will continue to buy up this authors work although my favourite still remains, The Last Days Of Rabbit Hayes.

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No Way To Say Goodbye by Anna McPartlin

No Way to Say GoodbyeNo Way to Say Goodbye by Anna McPartlin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 10 days on and off

Pages - 344

Publisher - Penguin Books

Blurb from Goodreads

You only get one second chance ...

Mary Mackey has endured so much loss in her twenty-nine years that people call her 'Mary of the Sorrows'. Mary has settled for a humdrum existence, a life lived apart from the crowd. That way she hopes to avoid further grief.

Her friends - Penny, Ivan and Adam - seem more together but they are just as damaged. Penny's loneliness, Ivan's cowardice and Adam's duplicity are all signs of lives going off the tracks.

When a mysterious American moves in beside Mary, her friends are intrigued but she tries to avoid him. Little can they guess that his wounds run at least as deep as theirs, and that his arrival in town will challenge each of them to face their demons. And it will force Mary to decide if she can take a chance on living again …

My Review

Mary, Penny, Ivan & Adam are our main characters, a close knit group. Mary has had her share of hurt and them some, Penny has a problem with alcohol but no one is calling her on it, Ivan has his own problems going on and Adam is married but in love and cheating with Penny. They all have things going on in their lives when Sam, an American with his own troubled past moves into the village.

This story is set in Kenmare, Ireland. It portrays a tale of sadness, friendship, hope, love, loss, relationships and a close knit community. Mary needs to learn to trust and allow people into her life, Sam is successful in the music world but running from his dark past. The two have a mutual attraction but both refusing to acknowledge it. There is so so much going on in this story including child abuse, drink driving and child death which some readers may find hard to read. Overall it is a story of multiple friendships, small town gossip and people trying to deal with their past whilst dealing with current demons and secrets.

McPartlin has a gift of writing a tale of relationships whilst infusing some humour, serious issues and bringing characters to life that are, some endearing and others loathsome. Whilst I did enjoy this one I don't think it has a patch on some of her other writing. 3/5 for me this time, I will be reading more by this author.

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Sunday 17 January 2016

A Nurse At War by Maggie Holt

A Nurse at WarA Nurse at War by Maggie Holt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days on and off

Publisher - Arrow

Pages - 521

Blurb from Goodreads

Attractive, clever and wilful, Lily Knowles is desperate to leave home. So at twenty-one she escapes to London to train as a nurse, where she gathers many admirers - none more dashing than RAF officer Sandy Redfern, with whom she falls in love.

But the coming of war, with the chaos of the Blitz, brings upheavals and unforeseen entanglements. On hearing of Sandy's reckless affair with a married woman, a heartbroken Lily throws herself into her work. Then further changes in circumstances bring her to a busy RAF hospital in Hampshire, where a faithful childhood sweetheart persuades her to become engaged to him.

And then fate brings Sandy Redfern back into her life, physically scarred by burns and inwardly embittered. What of their once passionate love and her present commitment? Can the past ever be recaptured?

My Review

Lily Knowles is our main character, introduced to her in 1924 as a little girl and quickly moving on as she fast approaches her twenty first birthday. Lily wants away from home, the scruffy children, her father and step mother and runs toward her grandparents and a career in nursing. She meets RAF officer Sandy Redfern and finds herself torn between her career and putting Sandy first, particularly now the war is upon them. The tale goes across war time and a chance conversation presents an opportunity to revisit her lost love or finally get some closure.

Ugh, Lily is an infuriating character that I liked and hated in almost equal measures. A selfish young fool of a girl who embarks on a career of nursing, then the war starts and Lily is forced to grow up. She goes through quite a journey of self exploration and growth, the writing draws you in to experience the emotions young Lily endures and has to process.

Not only is this a story of personal growth, love, relationships, families & war, it also delves into some history. I love a book where I learn a little something as well as enjoying the story for what it is, the author has done her homework and details of nursing procedures, medical advances/developments at the time as well as events of war. This was my first time reading this author and I would absolutely read her again, I plan on looking up her other titles, 4/5 for me this time.

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Dodgers by Bill Beverly

DodgersDodgers by Bill Beverly
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 6 days

Publisher - No Exit Press

Pages - 304

Blurb from Goodreads

Dodgers is a dark, unforgettable coming-of-age journey that recalls the very best of Richard Price, Denis Johnson, and J.D. Salinger. It is the story of a young LA gang member named East, who is sent by his uncle along with some other teenage boys—including East's hothead younger brother—to kill a key witness hiding out in Wisconsin. The journey takes East out of a city he's never left and into an America that is entirely alien to him, ultimately forcing him to grapple with his place in the world and decide what kind of man he wants to become.

Written in stark and unforgettable prose and featuring an array of surprising and memorable characters rendered with empathy and wit, Dodgers heralds the arrival of a major new voice in American fiction.

My Review

A fifteen year old gang member, East, has lost his drug house. In order to make it up to the boss, he takes on a job, to kill a witness with three other males. One being his younger brother Ty, always a law unto himself and two teenagers he hasn't met. With no credit cards, mobile phones and warned to avoid drawing attention to themselves, the boys set off on a journey that will change their lives.

Firstly, let me say I am in the minority in not loving this book, the reviews out so far are glowing and speak highly of this tale. Sadly it was not for me, the youths in this book are given huge responsibility from the crime boss when the oldest boy is only seventeen. The gun totting youngster has been dabbling with violence and guns since possibly as young as eleven. This may well add authenticity to crime happenings in that part of America and therefore weight to the story, I found it really hard to click with. The boys know how big a deal the job is, yet cause quite a commotion on route and draw a lot of attention to themselves. This may add credence to the tale as they are young men battling for leadership among each other, each with a reputation.

East is really the main character, despite his criminal background he cares for his mother and seems to long for a better relationship with his unruly younger brother. The job finds him going on a journey of who he is and who he wants to be. There is violence, murder, self examination and growth, crime, challenging behaviour and the main group frequently swear and use the N word to each other which some readers may find offensive. There are a few unexpected and surprising moments, one particular scene I didn't see coming and has quite an impact on young East. Colloquialisms from that area in America are also used making the dialogue between the characters, I found, hard going at times. Some of the terminology used and grammar I found I had to go over a few times to accurately get what the writer was saying. As I said though, so many people have enjoyed this story so I would urge you to give it a whirl if you have read and enjoyed similar books of this nature, sadly it just wasn't for me. 2/5 this time from me, thanks so much to RealReaders for providing me with an ARC of this in exchange for an honest review, Dodgers is available to buy from the 5th of April, 2016.

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Wednesday 13 January 2016

Portrait Of A Killer Jack The Ripper Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell

Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case ClosedPortrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Publisher - Time Warner

Pages - 451

Blurb from the back cover

Between August and November 1888 five women were murdered in Whitechapel. The gruesome nature of their deaths caused panic and fear for months in the East End, and gave rise to the sobriquet which was to become shorthand for a serial killer - JACK THE RIPPER.

For over a hundred years the identity of the killer has remained one of the world's greatest unsolved mysteries. Until now. Using her formidable range of forensic and technical skills, Patricia Cornwell has applied the rigorous discipline of twenty-first-century police investigation to the extant material, and here presents the hard evidence that the perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders was the world famous artist, Walter Sickert.

With her knowledge of criminal investigation and her consummate skills as a bestselling writer, Patricia Cornwell has produced a book which is as compelling as it is authentic - the definitive account of one of the world's most famous murder mysteries.

My Review

I heard a lot of criticism of this book and some positive reviews before I started this one. Any fans of crime fiction know the name Patricia Cornwell and I have enjoyed a few of her books over the years. I have always been interested in the theories put forward about Jack The Ripper and there is so much controversy and speculation about the killers identity, even over a century later! So of course I had to buy and read this myself.

So, what did I like about it? A new potential killer thrown into the mix, as for me, I have never heard Walter mentioned as a suspect let alone outright named as the killer. Cornwell not only puts forward this chap as the absolute killer, she debunks the idea of some of the other suspects listed previously and explains why they couldn't be the killer. The book gives a good bit of evidence and recount of the crimes, she also puts in many murders that she believes was the Rippers work too again I hadn't heard of these ones.

What didn't I like, the book says case closed, she has found the killer, I disagree. She makes a good case putting forward a new suspect but so much is could have, points to, may have been. This is not definitive proof and it is almost arrogant to claim you are the absolute when so much of the findings are possibles, could be and if he was or if he did.

Regardless, it is an interesting read, the book has photographs of the victims and of some of the correspondence sent in from the Ripper. Some of the details of the crimes and horrors carried out to the bodies is for tough and gorey reading so caution if you have issue reading details like that. Overall, whether you agree with Cornwell or not, I would say you would enjoy it or find it interesting for discussion if you have an interest or opinion on one of the oldest unsolved crimes, 3/5 for me this time.

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Tuesday 5 January 2016

Letters To My Daughter's Killer by Cath Staincliffe

Letters to My Daughter's KillerLetters to My Daughter's Killer by Cath Staincliffe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 240

Publisher - C & R Crime

Blurb from Goodreads

Grandmother Ruth Sutton writes to the man she hates more than anyone else on the planet: the man who she believes killed her daughter Lizzie in a brutal attack four years earlier. Ruth's burden of grief and hatred, has only grown heavier with the passing of time, her avid desire for vengeance ever stronger. In writing to him Ruth hopes to exorcise the corrosive emotions that are destroying her life, to find the truth and with it release and a way forward. Whether she can ever truly forgive him is another matter - but the letters are her last, best hope.

My Review

Firstly, let me say this book is written in letter format, the whole way through. There are some dates but mostly they are just letters, more diary format as Ruth writes how she felt and what happened from the moment she finds out her daughter was brutally murdered. The letters clearly mark out, this is her getting her feelings out, her experience of it all and that she isn't expecting a reply. This is for her, to get it all down, in stages as she lives & relives what happened from finding out to the immediate aftermath.

It has been four years since the murder, Ruth is still consumed with anger, grief, rage, hurt and many more emotions. This is her way of working through that and towards acceptance, by penning it all down to both the killer and us, the reader. When the murder is covered, after the autopsy, it is very detailed in the brutality to the body, some readers may find this hard to read. If you have lost someone to murder or even just death this could be a hard book for you to read as Ruth's grief and emotion very much comes alive on the pages.

It is quite a weird one, not in the writing or anything but rather I haven't read anything like it before, or quite in that format. It is very cleverly put together, you can feel the raw emotion and devastation to the family, not just Ruth but to her grand daughter Florence, Ruth's ex husband and Lizzie's husband Jack. A gripping, emotive and sad story that draws you into from the very start to the very end. 4/5 for me this time, this is my first time reading this author and I would certainly read her again.

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Murder Ring by Leigh Russell

Murder Ring (A DI Geraldine Steel Mystery)Murder Ring by Leigh Russell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - <7 hours

Pages - 320

Publisher - No Exit Press

Blurb from Goodreads

Hearing footsteps pounding along the street behind him he glanced back, fleetingly worried, then laughed because the street was deserted. All the same, he felt uneasy. Everything looked different in the dark. Then he heard more footsteps approaching, and a hoarse voice called out. Turning his head, he made out a figure hovering in the shadows and as it raised one arm, the barrel of a gun glinted in the moonlight… The dead body of unassuming David Lester is discovered in a dark side-street, and DI Geraldine Steel is plunged into another murder investigation. The clues mount up along with the suspects, but with the death of another man in inexplicable circumstances, the case becomes increasingly complex. As Geraldine investigates the seemingly unrelated crimes, she makes a shocking discovery about her birth mother.

My review

A business man is killed, shot to death and robbed, another body soon turns up and DI Geraldine Steel is on the case. With a new boss and a list of suspects Steel has her work cut out for her, dealing with personal issues and a past that won't go away whilst making sure the team focuses on catching the right guy.

Steel has a lot of issues going on in her personal life, however she does not allow this to cloud her judgment and pushes her colleagues to fully investigate all suspects and evidence. Her new boss has a lot to prove and his character is quite annoying at times as is her colleague Sam who is quick to make assumptions and judge. The pace of the story is relatively fast, a murder occurs within the prologue and the investigation kicks off immediately. We delve into Steels personal life as she has some closure on issues from previous books which opens up a potentially new can of worms. Sorry I know that is a bit vague but I don't do spoiler reviews and feel this needs to have a wee sentence to highlight it is addressed for fans of the previous books.

This is a busy wee book, I have read one or two of this series and whilst you could get away with reading this as a standalone I would suggest reading the others as you get the full picture of current events & characters. The chapters are short & frequent, not everyone will enjoy this style but I personally love it. If you are busy and caught up with life you can sneak in chapters throughout the day, I read this in one sitting though, the old just one more chapter happened. There are twists and turns along the way, themes covering spouse abuse, family secrets, lies, betrayal and jealousy are only a few that are covered. Russell cleverly creates a tale of murder, police investigation and personal issues whilst trying to pursue the truth, uphold the law and fling in some surprises to keep the reader on their toes.

I have previously enjoyed the Steel serious but preferred the Paterson ones, this book I really enjoyed hence firing through it. I look forward to the next in this series and think I will get the ones I have missed so far. 4/5 for me this time, thanks to RealReaders for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Murder ring will be available for purchase from 26/05/16 from all good retailers, published by No Exit Press.

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Saturday 2 January 2016

January's giveaway is To Catch A Rabbit by Helen Cadbury

1 signed copy of To Catch A Rabbit by Helen Cadbury. This competition is open to the UK only. As always enter via the Rafflecopter below, the more entries you complete the more times your name is entered into the giveaway.

You can read my review of this book here

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To Catch A Rabbit by Helen Cadbury

To Catch A Rabbit (Sean Denton #1)To Catch A Rabbit by Helen Cadbury
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Publisher - Allison & Busby

Pages - 350 pages

Blurb from Goodreads

A dead woman is slumped against the door of a grubby trailer. She's on Sean Denton's patch, but who is she, how did she get there, and why doesn't CID want to investigate? As Doncaster's youngest PCSO, Denton takes the case into his own hands, but he's way out of his depth.

People are reported missing and Denton must work backwards, before anyone else falls prey to South Yorkshire's murky underworld of migrants and the sex trade.

My review

Introducing Sean Denton, PCSO (Police Community Support Officer), who finds the body of a young woman on his patch. When no one seems to take much notice Sean finds he can't just walk away or leave well along and does some investigating for himself. Along with that there is are people going missing and before long Sean finds himself in deeper than he could have imagined.

So, I had to message the author because PCSO seems to get very involved in the case and in Scotland, our specials or support officers wouldn't get close to or as involved as he seems to. Things are a bit different in the roles where this is set however, for the most part, Denton pushes boundaries and pokes his nose in where it most definitely isn't wanted. He is an eager and honest young man who is pulled toward the truth of what happened to this dead young girl. This sees him putting himself in danger and going over and above the call of duty.

The tale goes between Denton and the investigation and Bonfire night where the story focuses on Phil Holyroyd, a chap who as the story goes on you realize the relevance to this jump in the story. It takes a wee bit of getting used to as you wonder why it is going to this bloke but his part becomes apparently relatively quick into it. Karen Friedman is another main character within the book, introduced to her working and family life before her and Denton's paths cross when Karen has to report a missing person.

The story lines are interwoven, quite smartly executed. There are a few key players and more issues than you can imagine. Marital infidelity, police procedures and investigations, murder, drugs, abuse and human trafficking are just some of the issues covered in this busy wee book. A strong start to the series and a very well done debut novel. Definitely will be reading more by this author, certainly worth keeping an eye out for, 4/5 for me this time.

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Distant Images by Audrey Howard

Distant ImagesDistant Images by Audrey Howard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Publisher - Hodder

Pages - 475

Blurb from Goodreads

As they dazzle all the men at Queen Victoria's jubilee ball, Beth and Milly Goodwin seem to be mirror images of one another—beautiful, graceful and rich. They can take their pick of any man in St. Helens, but the only man in the room either of them wants is the one who could destroy both their lives.

My Review

Beth & Milly Goodwin are twins, beautiful and from a wealthy working class family set in the later 1800s, around the time when Emily Pankhurst was active with the suffragette movement. The girls capture the eye of Captain Hugh Thornley, sixteenth baron in his family line of noble blood, at the jubilee ball. Beth is pure, innocent, thoughtful and sweet, Milly is flighty, manipulative, forthright & very aware of her body and the effect it has on men. Both ladies fall for Thornley, only one will capture him, little knowing the devastation, hurt and horror that catching such a prize will bring.

Oh what a story, I am not normally one to pick a tale set in the past however this really caught my interest. In a time period where women have little rights and are thought of as the property of their husbands, some of the brutality the woman suffer in this book is at times quite hard to read. Thornley is a brute who will go to any lengths to dish out revenge to anyone he sees as has slighted him, the Goodwins are beneath him in his eyes as they are mere working class, he is a man of title. But what Hugh wants he gets and soon makes his move on one of the sisters which kicks off the heartache and horrors that follow.

This book covers many subjects and whilst being a tale of fiction, there are factual happenings dottered throughout, the protests and movements of the suffragettes, inequalities women faced during that time period, the attitudes and views of the different classes. It covers prostitution, infidelity, family bonds, violence, relationships and there is a fair few sex scenes throughout although nothing in extreme detail. This is my first time reading this author and I would certainly read her again. The characters go through a roller coaster of emotions, relationships are tested to the hilt and when I was sure I knew what was coming next, the author went in a completely different direction, 4/5 for me this time!

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