Thursday 18 May 2017

Deadly Alibi by Leigh Russell Blog Tour

I think this is the first time I have ever kicked off a blog tour, hurrah. I have read a few of Leigh's books from both series and think if you haven't indulged you really should. I haven't read them all and not in sequence :O but I will go back and get the ones I missed. This one hit home a wee bit more for me as it has a huge focus on the main character, Geraldine Steel, with her personal life and issues. Here is my review for the book:

Deadly Alibi (DI Geraldine Steel, #9)Deadly Alibi by Leigh Russell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off over 5 days

Pages - 320

Publisher - No Exit Press

Blurb from Goodreads

Two murder victims and a suspect whose alibi appears open to doubt.... Geraldine Steel is plunged into a double murder investigation which threatens not only her career, but her life. And then her previously unknown twin Helena turns up, with problems which are about to make Geraldine's life turn toxic in more ways than one!

My review

A woman killed, a suspect arrested and the police are trying to get a confession as all the peaces seem to fit. DI Geraldine Steel is investigating with her team and playing devils advocate, her colleagues are convinced they have their man. Fling into the mix Steel has personal problems going on, dealing with a bereavement and a "new" relative is in Steel's live turning her world upside down.

I need to say, this is book nine and whilst I haven't read everyone of them I would advise reading the back stories however this can be read as a standalone. There are two main splits in the book, the investigation and murders and Steel's personal life which goes into turmoil. For me, the personal side overshadowed the crime story slightly purely because the relative reminded me of someone in my past which caused an emotional roller coaster of a personal nature. I think for many readers this part will evoke a similar response, I was so annoyed at times with Steel for some of her choices but could empathize with her choices. The investigation itself keeps you hooked as they come at it from different angles, Sam infuriated me at times, young, headstrong and quick to jump to conclusions, I think Steel is a nice ying to her yang making them a good team.

The chapters are relatively short which I really like, especially with a busy work week it meant I could dip in and out as time allowed. The start of the book, as all her others, has a glossary of acronyms, this has always been something I love about Russell's books as often you forget what they mean as you go through the book.

I think this book has a huge stab at the personal side of police officers and what they may be facing outwith the duty and how it can influence their choices. What makes the characters so real, I think, is how very flawed each of them can be. I think of all the Steel books so far, this will be one that stays with me for a long time, I really look forward to seeing what is next in store for her. 4/5 for me this time, thanks so much to No Exit Press for sending me a copy, all views are my own.

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Leigh is very active on social media and gabs with her fans on many book clubs online and you can find her on Twitter, click here.

Deadly Alibi is available to buy in paperback and ebook from all good retailers, click here to go to Amazon to order your copy. Thanks for stopping by and thanks to Anne Cater for including me in the tour, you can visit Anne's blog here.

Friday 12 May 2017

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes AirWhen Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off for 2 days

Publisher - Bodley Head

Pages - 228

Blurb from Goodreads

What makes a virtuous and meaningful life? Paul Kalanithi believed that the answer lay in medicine’s most demanding specialization, neurosurgery. Here are patients at their life’s most critical moment. Here he worked in the most critical place for human identity, the brain. What is it like to do that every day; and what happens when life is catastrophically interrupted?

When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable reflection on the practice of medicine and the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

With a foreword by Dr Abraham Verghese and an epilogue by the author’s wife, Lucy.

My Review

A neurosurgeon, brilliant, talented, educated, a man touching and saving the lives of others. When all his hard work is coming to fruition and finally getting where he wants to be at the end of all his training life strikes a blow. Paul is diagnosed with cancer, going from physician to patient, from providing care to receiving it his whole life is turned upside down. This is his story from both sides of the fence, first as a practitioner and then to being on the receiving end of the table.

The first half of the book starts with Paul's diagnosis but quickly goes to his days learning his trade and what sparks his interest in becoming a neurosurgeon. I love a book where you learn about things, conditions, parts of the body, real life cases. Then we go to the more emotive side of the story, Paul's story and journey from diagnosis and the aftermath. Choices, decisions, grief stages, interacting with colleagues and how to go about life when everything you know has completely changed.

Informative, emotive, honest and a stark look at the path one takes when life pulls the rug out from under you. We all react different to things in our life and I think Paul's reaction and battle is one that shows just how amazing and strong some human beings can be in the face of personal trials. I hope this book brings some comfort to his family and helps show just how strong and brave one man can be, 4/5 for me for this one. It had sat on my tbr for ages and I wish I had read it sooner.

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Wednesday 10 May 2017

The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent

The Loving HusbandThe Loving Husband by Christobel Kent
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off 4 days

Pages - 416

Publisher - Sphere

Blurb from Goodreads

Fran Hall and her husband Nathan have moved with their two children to a farmhouse on the edge of the Fens - a chance to get away from London and have a fresh start. But when Fran wakes one night to find Nathan gone, she makes a devastating discovery. As questions about her husband and her relationships start to mount, Fran's life begins to spiral out of control. What is she hiding from the police about her marriage, and does she really know the man she shared her bed with?

My Review

We open with a relatively uncomfortable chapter, a sexual encounter in a bit of a haze and the reader is alerted immediately that something isn't right. Her husband is not in bed, Fran goes to find him and makes a horrifying discovery. The police start digging into Nathan and Fran's life and Fran soon discovers secrets and lies leading her to question what did she actually know about her life.

The story jumps around a fair bit, both in timeline and from character to character. The chapters are not signposted so it isn't until you are a few sentences down the page you know if it is Fran or the police, then a quarter in the chapters are headed with what day of the week it is. The wife, Fran, is a mousy type character and appears to be on edge all the time alluding to some kind of abuse or being in a horrible situation. The information is teased out, both about what has happened and Fran and Nathan's relationship in general. There is a lot of scandal, secrets, lies, infidelity, sex, murder and relationships to name just some of the themes covered in this story.

For me, if I remember correctly, it read a bit like Girl On The Train in that is jumps around so much. The character isn't so much the unreliable narrator, more the way the story is constructed and told. I think some people will love this because it keeps you guessing as to what has happened and what is coming. I personally don't like that as I had to try and keep track of what happened, what is going on, who is the chapter centered on at that moment. I think some readers will love this format and the building suspense however for me it just didn't work and frustrated more than intrigued me. This was my first time reading this author, I would read her work again I just personally don't like this type of format, sure others will love it, 2/5 for me this time.

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Thursday 4 May 2017

The Last Hack by Christopher Brookmyre

The Last Hack: A Jack Parlabane ThrillerThe Last Hack: A Jack Parlabane Thriller by Christopher Brookmyre
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Publisher - Atlantic Monthly Press

Pages - 432

Blurb from Goodreads

Sam Morpeth has had to grow up way too fast, left to fend for a younger sister with learning difficulties when their mother goes to prison and watching her dreams of university evaporate. But Sam learns what it is to be truly powerless when a stranger begins to blackmail her online, drawing her into a trap she may not escape alive. Meanwhile, reporter Jack Parlabane has finally got his career back on track, working for a flashy online news start-up, but his success has left him indebted to a volatile source on the wrong side of the law. Now that debt is being called in, and it could cost him everything.

Thrown together by a common enemy, Sam and Jack are about to discover they have more in common than they realize—and might be each other’s only hope.

My Review

It has been a while since I caught up with Parlabane and I have missed a few books inbetween, my o/h lied and told me a main character died and I stopped reading lol. Jack is up to his usual, trying to stay out of trouble but landing right in the middle of it, or rather being sought out for it. Sam Morpeth is a young woman trying to pick up the pieces her mother has left behind when she went to jail. Looking after her wee sister, trying to keep an education, avoid the drug dealers her mum owes her and local bullies shy Sam has her hands full. Sam has a secret, she is a hacker and forceful online rep lands her in a heap of trouble. With no option but to force Jack to help her, they both must come together to tackle one of the biggest hacks yet, violence and mayhem lies ahead for both.

This book is about hacking, hacking for initially the "right" reasons, not for financial gain and showing that even the best laid intentions can go awry. That consequences have actions and the old adage the world is a really small place, never knowing when your past may come back upon you. Sam I found to be a frustrating character, online a force to be reckoned with, offline in her own words "a victim". She also grated because she is such an intelligent girl who makes some very questionable choices and falls prey to many things she should be able to spot a mile away. Jack is Jack, in trouble, cheeky, likable rogue whose heart is in the right place, I forgot how much I liked him.

Split two fold, we have the whole hacking side of it and the personal life and struggles of Sam which helped break up the computer stuff. Whilst a good chunk of it was really interesting and highlights just how vulnerable we are with our online activities it was nice to have a human emotional aspect of the story. The book doesn't have the earlier grit, dark unpc humour the very first Parlabane books do, maybe because Jack (and Brookmyre) has ages but there are still wee flashes of it. 4/5 for me this time, thanks to Netgalley for sending me a copy to review. Available to buy under the title Want You Gone, not sure why they changed it, I think I preferred The Last Hack.

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Tuesday 2 May 2017

Edinburgh Blogger Author meet up

Yesterday I finally made it to one of the bigger planned blogger/author meet ups, arranged by the lovely Joanne from Portobello Book Blog nip over for a wee visit, she is a great blogger. Our table only had myself and Joanne as bloggers and we were otherwise surrounded by authors. The table over from us I think had a good mix of both. It is so nice to see people you have been chatting to online for so long and finally put faces to and get a chance to gab. Sadly because we were so very many I didn't get to gab to everyone but there is always next time, I definitely will be going to another.

Hosted in Edinburgh, I traveled through on the train and only got lost 3 times when I left them, I took the travel opportunity to get out Alan Jones Bloq bookmarks for the tour..

I met and had a chat with the lovely Triona Scully, seen here with her new book, check it out!

Here is the lovely Wendy H Jones with the 1st in a series of books she has written, Wendy very kindly gave me a copy and I got it signed so once I get around to reading it, we will have a signed copy giveaway *squeel*.

And the beautiful Helen MacKinven with her book baby, no stranger to SMBSLT and you can find my reviews of both books on here and on Goodreads. Still pushing and hoping for Senga to get her own book, c'moan Helen.

Here is the lovely Annemarie Allan with her book Charlie's Promise. I also came home with a wee copy of this.

Always time to take notes, even if we are lunching, writers are always working or hatching a plan.

And here is Natalie Fergie with her beautiful new book, The Sewing Machine isn't it a lovely cover!

I may not have got a chance to gab to everyone but I did get a quick hello with most and some of their fab blog/website cards, including the lovely Kelly from LovesBooksGroup.

I can't believe I don't have a picture of Joanne :O there was so many folk to mingle with I also didn't get a chance to get a group picture. Definitely get full shots the next meet up, was a great day, food was lovely and the waiters did well to keep on top of so many. xxx Oh and to top it off, afterwards I went to meet o/h and friends and I saw a fire juggler outside the pub and got to clap his gigantic dog, bought books and a Guns n Roses totebag, absolute bliss.

Blood Sisters by Julie Shaw

Blood Sisters (Tales of the Notorious Hudson Family #6)Blood Sisters by Julie Shaw
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off 2 days

Pages - 336

Publisher - Harper Element

Blurb from Goodreads

It’s 1983 and best friends Vicky and Lucy swear that they will always be there for each other, that they’ll never let anyone come between them. But fast forward 4 years and life on the Canterbury Estate has gotten very messy.

Lucy has fallen for local policeman’s son, Jimmy. And Vicky is madly in love with Paddy, the charming but ruthless local bad boy. The boys are bitter enemies and determined to keep the two girls apart. But then Vicky is accused of murder, and even her drug-dealer boyfriend wants her mouth shut, permanently. Maybe Lucy is the only one who can save her

Love, murder, revenge. Who can you really trust when there’s blood on your hands?

My Review

We open in 1983, two little girls on the cusp of turning teens, share the old blood oath of friendship, never to let anyone come between them, sealed in blood. Fast forward four years and both girls have boyfriends, Lucy has fallen for a policeman's son and Vicky is head over heels for the local bad boy. Both men are natural enemies and hate each other on sight forcing a strain on the friendship of Lucy and Vicky. As the story unfolds, hatred grows and with horrifying consequences taking the girls down a road that there can be no return.

If you can I would avoid the blurb, for me there is a huge spoiler in that an event is mentioned that doesn't take place until the last quarter of the book. I found myself constantly waiting for it as it would have a huge turning point in the dynamics of the story. I think that also dampened my enjoyment of the overall story as I was constantly looking out for the twist, I will feed this back to the publishers too.

A tale about friendship and how love and manipulation can corrupt a person when they fall for the wrong man. Some parts are hard to read, not because it is badly written, the opposite, it is so true to life if anyone has a loved one in an abusive relationship this story will strike chords. The manipulation and destruction of one persons individuality due to a controlling partner is hard going, especially when everything takes a back seat. Their own choices, who they are as a person, family, friendship and even self identity. Done in such a masterful way that the person doesn't even realise what has happened or how they are being controlled. I really hated some of the main characters, Paddy for obvious reasons and Vicky because I was so frustrated at her choices and actions. Lucy, her partner Danny, and Gurdy were likable characters so you have a decent mix of those you can relate to or empathize with and those we love to hate.

The story is so much more than just the dominating abusive partner, friendship plays a huge part too but there is also love, murder, drugs, violence and illegal activity to name a few. Racism also rears its ugly head, adding weight to how despicable one person can be especially in the casual way he bands it about. Stories like this will always impact on readers differently, for me it was the abusive relationship between Vicky and Paddy that took center stage. Hard to read in parts because of the reflective realism on domestic abuse, especially such a young girl and we see how it plays out slowly without her even being aware. It highlights also that abuse isn't just violence, there are many forms and how it can impact upon the many lives it touches, choices and consequences. 3.5 initially for me as the spoiler really annoyed me but 4 stars overall because the book itself is very well written and had many layers to it. I have read Shaw before and I will read her again.

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