Wednesday 30 May 2018

The Coven by Graham Masterton

The Coven (Beatrice Scarlet, #2)The Coven by Graham Masterton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 368

Publisher - Head of Zeus

Source - The Works

Blurb from Goodreads

They say the girls were witches. But Beatrice Scarlet, the apothecary's daughter, is sure they were innocent victims...

London, 1758:

Beatrice Scarlet, the apothecary's daughter, has found a position at St Mary Magdalene's Refuge for fallen women. She enjoys the work and soon forms a close bond with her charges.

The refuge is supported by a wealthy tobacco merchant, who regularly offers the girls steady work to aid their rehabilitation. But when seven girls sent to his factory disappear, Beatrice is uneasy.

Their would-be benefactor claims they were a coven of witches, beholden only to Satan and his demonic misdeeds. But Beatrice is convinced something much darker than witchcraft is at play...

My Review

This is book two with the character Beatrice Scarlet, I hadn't read book one and don't feel I have missed out on anything by not having read it. Beatrice and her little girl have to move to St Mary Magdalene's Refuge for fallen women where she is promised a job and lodgings. Beatrice is drawn to helping the girls from their previous lives and has faith they can turn it around. A wealthy gentleman who supports the refuge takes the girls to work in his factory. When his latest batch flee after apparently conjuring up Satan and devil worshipping Beatrice feels something is horribly wrong and it isn't the devil!

Ooft this is not a book for the faint hearted, there is murder, sexual deviancy, sexual abuse, prostitution, faith, lies, love, relationships, family and that isn't covering it all! Beatrice is a fantastic character, remember this is set in the 1700s and here we have a very vocal woman, educated, loyal, intelligent and fearless. It is fantastic to have any book with a strong female character, Beatrice has already lost so much and now she is putting her life on the line for these fallen girls.

The healing part is really interesting too , she is an apothecary's daughter and finds more folk coming to her for remedies than the doctors. I loved her knowledge and the alternative healing options, I need to google to see how popular that kind of thing really was back then, I think it is really interesting. Some of the scenes are very graphic, sexual and disturbing so be warned if you are going to pick the book up, there is reference to animal cruelty also. If you can get past this or don't mind some very dark passages I think you will fully engage with this tale. Graphic, stomach turning, fierce, dark and a fantastic female character it has to be 4/5 for me this time. I do have another one or two of Masterton's books on my TBRM I do need to bump them up!

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Monday 28 May 2018

The Girls by Lori Lansens

The GirlsThe Girls by Lori Lansens
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - dipped in over the course of 1 week

Pages - 368

Publisher - Back Bay Books

Source - Pound shop

Blurb from Goodreads

Meet Rose and Ruby: sisters, best friends, confidantes, and conjoined twins. Since their birth, Rose and Ruby Darlen have been known simply as "the girls." They make friends, fall in love, have jobs, love their parents, and follow their dreams. But the Darlens are special. Now nearing their 30th birthday, they are history's oldest craniopagus twins, joined at the head by a spot the size of a bread plate.

When Rose, the bookish sister, sets out to write her autobiography, it inevitably becomes the story of her short but extraordinary life with Ruby, the beautiful one. From their awkward first steps--Ruby's arm curled around Rose's neck, her foreshortened legs wrapped around Rose's hips-- to the friendships they gradually build for themselves in the small town of Leaford, this is the profoundly affecting chronicle of an incomparable life journey.

As Rose and Ruby's story builds to an unforgettable conclusion, Lansens aims at the heart of human experience--the hardship of loss and struggles for independence, and the fundamental joy of simply living a life. This is a breath taking novel, one that no reader will soon forget, a heartrending story of love between sisters.

My Review

Rose and Ruby are twins, conjoined craniopagus twins and this is their life story. We are introduced to the girls then how they girls came to be with their aunt Lovey and uncle Stash. Told through their words, particularly Rose as she writes their autobiography, Ruby has some entries too. The girls take us through their life, experiences growing up, working, relationships, ideas and dreams.

This is a moving story of family, strength, love, acceptance and an opportunity to learn more about a condition we don't see very often, well I haven't. I found myself putting the book down to google cases and looking up true life cases of craniopagus, symptoms, statistics.

The bond between these two sisters and their family is beautiful, Lovey is a great character, compassionate, loyal, fierce and understanding, everyone needs an aunt Lovey. Emotive in some places, shocking, beautiful, certainly a different story, 3.5/5 for me, this is my first time reading this author, it won't be my last.

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Sunday 27 May 2018

Darker by E L James

Darker (Fifty Shades as Told by Christian, #2)Darker by E.L. James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1.5 days

Pages - 546

Publisher - Vintage Books

Source - From another blogger

Blurb from Goodreads

E L James revisits the world of Fifty Shades with a deeper and darker take on the love story that has enthralled millions of readers around the globe.

Their scorching, sensual affair ended in heartbreak and recrimination, but Christian Grey cannot get Anastasia Steele out of his mind, or his blood. Determined to win her back, he tries to suppress his darkest desires and his need for complete control, and to love Ana on her own terms.

But the horrors of his childhood still haunt him, and Ana’s scheming boss, Jack Hyde, clearly wants her for himself. Can Christian’s confidant and therapist, Dr. Flynn, help him face down his demons? Or will the possessiveness of Elena, his seducer, and the deranged devotion of Leila, his former submissive, drag Christian down into the past?

And if Christian does win Ana back, can a man so dark and damaged ever hope to keep her?

My Review

Most people picking up this book would, I imagine, already be familiar with the Fifty Shades trilogy, originally told from Anastasia's point of view. Darker is book two, told from Christian's point of view. I really liked the original books and didn't get the outcry from so many about stalker, abusive etc etc. After reading this, as well as the first book from Christian's point of view, I can understand a bit more why readers may be annoyed.

Christian is very possessive of Anastasia, whilst there are flashes on this in the original books there is no doubt in these. Christian has many issues and I am surprised after reading both books that he actually only has one counsellor. The image of Christian that many readers had I think may be darkened, destroyed, tainted, pick a word that suits. He is very childish at points, MINE he is either thinking or actually saying out loud. He grates me in these books and I didn't get that at all with the other books.

What I did like was we get a bit more understanding of his character than we did in the originals. For me, the interactions with Mrs Robinson was welcomed as I think we all wanted to know what was said, more about their interactions. Book three obviously has a huge interaction with him and her so I really hope James focuses on that and gives us the chat we all want to know how it went down.

The helicopter, the stuff with Jack Hyde again information or interactions from the original books we get a different glimpse from Christian's point of view. Book three was probably my favourite from the originals as it had more story than all of the sexual stuff that was more in depth in book one and two. I hope she keeps the books focused on that angle, more story and a better look into Mrs Robinson's character and relationship with Christian. This book had a bit more understanding and maybe even sympathy for Christian despite him still annoying me. I think if you like the series originally you will enjoy these books from his side as we do get some of the knowledge gaps filled in. 3/5 for me this time, when book three comes out I will read it, I need closure, I have read the other five books and I hope there will be more with Mrs R!

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Saturday 26 May 2018

Dead Girls by Graeme Cameron Blog Tour

Dead GirlsDead Girls by Graeme Cameron
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Publisher - H Q Stories

Pages - 400

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

I may not remember everything, but I know he won’t hurt anyone else.

I won’t let him.

It’s been two months since a serial killer brutally attacked police detective Alisha Green and left her for dead. Two months since she could effortlessly recall simple things, since her mind felt remotely sound. The nameless killer thinks he knows her, thinks she’s just another dead girl among many. Ali Green plans to show him he’s dead wrong about that.

Ali has two enemies now: the dangerous man she’s hunting and her own failing memory. As explosive new evidence comes to light and conflicting accounts from a witness and a surviving victim threaten both her investigation and her credibility, she begins to question what is and isn’t real. And now Ali has no choice but to remember the past…before it buries her.

A hypnotically gripping thriller that proves internationally bestselling author Graeme Cameron is one of the most unique voices in contemporary fiction today.

My Review

Absolutely I recommend reading Normal by this author before reading this one, I read it a while back and feel like I want to re read it. DS Ali Green survived her encounter with "The man" the horrific serial killer from Normal and now we are following the police investigation and the after math of all that transpired from the first book. Normal was all about him, his activities, perspective, killings. This book is the police, primarily Ali, the pursuit and the ripples he has left from their encounter. Ali is determined he will harm no one else but how do you do your job, stay safe and keep the team going when you had a horrific injury and your memory is impaired?

It took me a wee bit to settle into this one, it kicks off with a bang and you are draw in quickly. However, there are a lot of characters and the scenes jump around a bit so it takes a wee bit to get your head round. Narration flips from first to third person, multiple characters and settlings and you have to be switched on to keep track. I think it adds to the weight of what Ali is going through, her memory is impaired, she has to keep notes and she is desperate to keep it hidden from her colleagues.

The devastation of this killer is clear from the beginning, he isn't featured much at all but his reach and actions have long lasting consequences. It is a unique story from that point of view, we see exactly how many lives a murderer can impact and the aftermath that follows. What I did really like was some of the subtle genius within Cameron's scenes. For example, what one character did when another finally left, nothing massive or huge but it encapsulates the reality of humanity. For some writers they can describe a place so well you can smell and see it, similar idea here but it is more some of the actions and responses a person does that just screams reality. It isn't a huge thing and some readers may pass over but I think small sparks like that are testament to creative genius. 3.5 out of 5 for me this time, I would like to see a prequel with more info on him and how he came to be, fingers crossed!

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Friday 25 May 2018

Beyond The Sea by Melissa Bailey

Beyond the SeaBeyond the Sea by Melissa Bailey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 304

Publisher - Arrow

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

The second novel from Melissa Bailey, author of The Medici Mirror...

One summer's day, Freya's husband and son vanish at sea.

A year on, and struggling to cope, Freya returns to the lighthouse-keeper's cottage on a remote Hebridean island, where she and her family spent so many happy times.

Haunted by visions of her old life, Freya's dreams are dark and disturbed. And when a stranger, Daniel, is washed ashore during a storm, they turn even more menacing.

As dream and reality start to merge, Daniel seems to be following Freya's every move. What does he want from her and is he everything he seems to be?

Is her mind playing tricks? Or is the danger that she senses very real?

My review

Freya has lost her husband and young son to the sea, a year on she heads back to the Hebridean island filled with memories of her family. When she and her sister come to the aid of a stranger, Daniel, she soon realises they have things in common. Whilst Freya is struggling with her grief and some eerie happenings Daniel appears more and more, is there more than meets the eye to Daniel?

So this story breaks down into a few parts. The setting, Hebridean island was covered in vivid detail, I could picture the beautiful setting, the land, the sea, the surroundings. It is one of those locations that makes the reader want to go from book location to actual location. I do hope to visit one day.

Myths and legends come up in this book and I found myself putting the book down and googling some of them, Scottish stories and I want to buy a book on them. I love when a book peaks your interest and I used to love stories like that as a kid so I will be rekindling my love of those kind of stories.

Grief and loss is a big part of the story, it doesn't depress you or pull you down, instead taking you on a journey with Freya, adjusting to life and revisting memories. Learning to cope and keep going especially when you have no closure which I think every reader can connect with on some level. It is a story I wasn't expecting to be how it was, grief, love, loss, legend, a bit spooky at parts, snippets of almost a thriller, stories within a story. It was just really well written. 4/5 for me for this one, this was my first dance with Bailey, it won't be my last. I hope she has other books in similar veins or more focused on the old stories and legends, I could have read that all day long!

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Tuesday 22 May 2018


What exactly is a Bookstagrammer? Well, some people think it means different things however ultimately, I think we all agree it is people on Instagram who post all things books.

I have a wee Instagram account, primarily for my bookposts but I do post randoms too, if travelling, animals, outdoors, Potter related stuff, food/drink, Princess Trixie (although she has her own account, yes I am that person who made an account for their cat lol). I would say I am a book geek who just loves taking photos of most things but the hashtags help connect and find like minded folk. You can find my Instagram here!

I first heard the term bookstagram when someone asked me why I hadn't added it to my book post (picture of a book I popped on Instagram). So now, if I have a book photo I generally add the tag. However there are some pretty amazing bookstagrammer accounts out there that use it properly. They create amazing book posts, photos of books with amazing backgrounds, books with themes, books with animals, books with book related clothes/items. I can spend hours just scrolling through some of the amazing pictures posted.

Some bookstagrammers also review on Instagram. So a photo of the book, relevant hashtags and then they include their full review, this isn't something I do but I do like the different options and I love the photos.

So I got a book in that I am on the blog tour for "Dead Girls" by Graeme Cameron. As it is crime fiction I have some tape I bought for a party I was yet to use. So, I got it out to do as a wee background, of course Trixie needed to get into it and have a sniff.

We have a new birdfeeder so a lot of birds have recently been visiting and we found this feather this morning so I had to add that into the piccy. How great would it be if in the book there is something bird or feather related!

My turn for the blog tour is this week and I am working a few shifts before it so I have had to put my current read aside to get into this one, many thanks to Joe from HQStories for sending.

If you have an Instagram account or are a bookstagrammer please leave your link so I can check it out. Always looking to add more book related accounts to follow.

Monday 21 May 2018

A Bargain in Silver by Josie Jaffrey

A Bargain in Silver (Solis Invicti, #1)A Bargain in Silver by Josie Jaffrey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 356

Publisher - Self

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

If the price of safety is slavery, would you bargain your life?

A Bargain in Silver is book one of Josie Jaffrey's Solis Invicti paranormal romance series, set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic London.

A deadly infection threatens to wipe out humanity. The only people who can stem its advance are the Silver, a vampiric race who offer a simple exchange: protection in return for blood and subservience. It's not a deal that Emmy's willing to make, but as her world burns around her she finds herself in the arms of the enemy and the line between oppressor and saviour begins to blur.

After an attack by the infected, Emmy is rescued by the handsome Drew who introduces her to the world of the Silver. Desperate to escape subjugation and confused by her attraction to him, she gathers what remains of her surrogate family and plans to make a break for freedom.

But despite her efforts to resist, she is drawn further into the intrigues of the mysterious Silver through the agency of their ruler, the Primus: Solomon. Emmy refuses to submit to the cold and detached Primus and an attempt on her life makes it clear that he is unable to protect her from the political machinations of his race.

As the connection between them deepens she must choose between her desire and her will to rebel, but can she trust his intentions when everyone is after her blood?

My Review

Emmy works in a bar, she is heading home from her shift when the outbreak happens. No one knows why and it hits quickly, spreading fast. The weepers almost get Emmy when she is rescued by Drew, her first insight into the Silver world. The Silver are vampires and have risen to save humanity, their food source, and now humans need to toe the line.

Emmy is a fiery character, she doesn't like being told what to do and resists Drew at every turn. Drew just wants her safe, takes her to a safe centre and meets Solomon, head of the Silver who also is interested in Emmy. What follows is Emmy's introduction to the new life, humans are pretty much, in her view, slaves although with compliance the vampires will help create as much "normality" as they can. Wee see Emmy struggle to heel, do as she is told whilst battling her attraction to Drew, being drawn to Solomon all the while of course staying safe and away from the weepers.

I think this is a fresh take on the whole vampires scene and I did enjoy it however there are a few things that make the old eyeball twitch. The whole "love" triangle got a wee bit teen angst for me, friendship is a huge thing and when threatened, especially for such a spikey character, I felt Emmy wouldn't have let that go. We see Emmy constantly in peril, she has an attitude, she is fierce, strong and challenging which makes a nice change but at points her actions can be very frustrating.

The book also opens in the new world, then goes back to how it all came about, for Emmy, I think that was almost a spoiler. When she goes back to how it all began to bring us to current events, we know where she is and her attitude to it all.

There is brutality, romance, sex, vampires of course, weepers (the infected) and blood bars what more can a vampire fan want? I hope in the following books we get a bit more insight into what the weepers are, how it originated, initial spread/contaminations. I hope she does an origins for the silvers also. All in all a good start to the series, 3.5 out of 5 for me this time, I will read more in the series!

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Saturday 19 May 2018

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson Blog Tour

Meet Me at the MuseumMeet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 224

Publisher - Doubleday

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Please be aware I am writing to you to make sense of myself ...

When the curator of a Danish museum responds to a query about ancient exhibits, he doesn’t expect a reply.
When Tina Hopgood first wrote it, nor did she …

Professor Anders Larsen, an urbane man of facts, has lost his wife, along with his hopes and dreams for the future. He does not know that a query from a Mrs Tina Hopgood about a world-famous antiquity in his museum is about to alter the course of his life.

Oceans apart, an unexpected correspondence flourishes as they discover shared passions: for history and nature; for useless objects left behind by loved ones; for the ancient and modern world, what is lost in time, what is gained and what has stayed the same. Through intimate stories of joy, anguish, and discovery, each one bares their soul to the other. But when Tina's letters suddenly cease, Anders is thrown into despair. Can this unlikely friendship survive?

My Review

When Tina sends a letter to the museum in Denmark regarding one of it's exhibits she doesn't expect a reply. When Professor Kristian Larsen replies he doesn't expect a reply, what follows is a personal journey of exploration and friendship for both. Told completely in epistolary format (letters) we are introduced to both their lives, issues they have and watch a friendship form as they deal with issues they hadn't even realised needing addressed.

This is a lovely wee debut, I don't know what I was expecting to be honest but it wasn't what it turned out to be. The letters start off really formal then less so as they open up to each other in ways they can't to those around them or even themselves. It is a tale of friendship, love, loss, acceptance and personal growth. In amongst that we learn about "the Tollund Man" found in a Danish bog in the 1950s, well preseved and a bit about the history surrounding the Tollund Man's lifetime. I do enjoy learning history although I don't read as much as I really would like to. I find with snippets like this I then go off and read up on them, an unexpected happy point from reading this wee story.

It is a slow burner but worth sticking with, it has many depths, both characters examining parts of themselves they have hidden or refused to look it. I think many will find this a special and touching read. I don't often do books that are written completely as letters however I did enjoy the change in format and think it was well executed. 3.5 out of 5 for me this time, I will look out for more from this author. If you want something heart warming, personal, raw and emotional I can't think of two characters who go on a journey experience it more, together, than these two.

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Please check out the other stops on the blog tour, each blogger offers different content.

Friday 18 May 2018

The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth

The Family Next DoorThe Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 352

Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

A gripping domestic page-turner full of shocking reveals, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty, Amanda Prowse and Kerry Fisher.

The small suburb of Pleasant Court lives up to its name. It's the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbours, and children play in the street.

Isabelle Heatherington doesn't fit into this picture of family paradise. Husbandless and childless, she soon catches the attention of three Pleasant Court mothers.

But Ange, Fran and Essie have their own secrets to hide. Like the reason behind Ange's compulsion to control every aspect of her life. Or why Fran won't let her sweet, gentle husband near her new baby. Or why, three years ago, Essie took her daughter to the park - and returned home without her.

As their obsession with their new neighbour grows, the secrets of these three women begin to spread - and they'll soon find out that when you look at something too closely, you see things you never wanted to see.

My Review

Welcome to your nosey wee neighbourhood, when someone new moves in everyone wants to know who she is. A family and pricey neighbourhood so when Isabelle moves in, no sign of children or a husband, curiosity is piqued. Ange, Fran and Essie are friends and eager to know more about Isabelle, her secrets and why she is there. The ladies have their own secrets/issues, Essie has post partum depression and things weren't so great when she had this before. Ange is preoccupied with her husband's fidelity and Fran has a secret that could blow her marriage apart and change her world as she knows it.

The book splits each chapter into character specific focus, each chapter is titled with the characters name so we know where the focus is for each one. Sometimes this can be an irritating style but if done well it works great, this was the case with Hepworth. You know all isn't well but you aren't sure why, with who or what drawing the reader in pretty much from the first chapter. This is my first dance with Hepworth, she creates characters and an environment where you are swept up in their dramas and reaching for the next page before you are halfway down the current one. Families, friendship, love, relationships, infidelity, intrigue are just some of the labels I can attach to this book. Whilst this was my first read by this author, it won't be my last! If you enjoy a book that immerses you in it's characters this is one for you, if I hadn't had stuff to do I would have read this in one sitting.

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Thursday 17 May 2018

Host by Robin Cook

HostHost by Robin Cook
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 416

Publisher - MacMillan

Source - The Works

Blurb from Goodreads

The explosive new thriller from New York Times–bestselling author and master of the medical thriller, Robin Cook.

Lynn Peirce, a fourth-year medical student at South Carolina’s Mason-Dixon University, thinks she has her life figured out. But when her otherwise healthy boyfriend, Carl, enters the hospital for routine surgery, her neatly ordered life is thrown into total chaos. Carl fails to return to consciousness after the procedure, and an MRI confirms brain death.

Devastated by Carl’s condition, Lynn searches for answers. Convinced there’s more to the story than what the authorities are willing to reveal, Lynn uses all her resources at Mason-Dixon—including her initially reluctant lab partner, Michael Pender—to hunt down evidence of medical error or malpractice.

What she uncovers, however, is far more disturbing. Hospitals associated with Middleton Healthcare, including the Mason-Dixon Medical Center, have unnervingly high rates of unexplained anesthetic complications and patients contracting serious and terminal illness in the wake of routine hospital admissions.

When Lynn and Michael begin to receive death threats, they know they’re into something bigger than either of them anticipated. They soon enter a desperate race against time for answers before shadowy forces behind Middleton Healthcare and their partner, Sidereal Pharmaceuticals, can put a stop to their efforts once and for all.

My Review

Ooft the blurb from Goodreads gives away so much! Lynn is close to finishing her training and becoming a doctor. When her boyfriend is getting some minor surgery she recommends the hospital she is a trainee in, why wouldn't she it is a great hospital. However something goes wrong and Carl doesn't come round from the anaesthetic. Lynn and her fellow trainee Michael start digging and uncover worrying information. Soon they are threatened and can either let it go and save themselves, risking many innocents, or fight to protect their patients and uncover what exactly is going on with Carl.

I do like a book that makes you think or check out conditions so a medical thriller will always get a start straight off for that for me. However, there was so much going on that I didn't like. Lynn and Michael have a great friendship, very loyal and Michael goes out on a limb for her. However the dialogue at times is very boxy and forced it just didn't flow at times for me. There is an incidence of animal cruelty that that scene really wouldn't have been affected had they just omitted it, animal cruelty always gets a stars down from me particularly when it adds zero to the scene/story.

The whole how are for why, whilst original and something different it just didn't work for me overall. Too much of it I just sat and thought, really? Just no! I think some of it is really heavy on medical jargon/details which may switch some readers off, I actually didn't mind this although it was a bit heavy going at times.

The main character was really lacking in emotion at many key points where regardless of your job, with what had just happened with your partner, you would have an emotive reaction. On the other hand there were scenes her emotions almost blew what they were trying to accomplish, it just didn't work for me personally.

Interesting although disjointed in parts and I felt the ending came swiftly and let me asking if that was really how we were wrapping it up, sure many will be fine with it. 2.5 out of 5 for me this time, I would read Cook again, I did enjoy some aspects of the book however too much annoyed me that over shadowed the bits I did like.

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Sunday 13 May 2018

Edinburgh Horror Con - Happy Weekend

I hope you guys have had a lovely weekend. I caught up with some friends and we went to Horrorcon in Edinburgh, the first time it has been held there. Pre con prep with nails, clothes, jewellery and accessories - Princess Trixie cared not one iota as you can see.

Matthew Lillard was lovely, really nice, friendly and rather taken with "Gel boy" :P xxx

Playing the bad guy, Q&A with Richard Brake & Jonathan Break was really good, there is a tiny clip of them both chatting on my Instagram.

Two of us stayed over night, this was the view of the sky from our hotel room, the picture doesn't really do it justice.

Serial Killer Cabaret was very different, sure some folk got videos of it.

It is certainly the smallest con I have been to but as it was the first I think they did really well in terms of venue, guests and organisation. With word of mouth hopefully the next one will be even bigger. Have you ever been to any cons? They are great, take a lot of organising and it is so fantastic to support these events! Authors, actors, singers, performers, Q&A's and so much merchandise (some of which I have posted to my Instagram and forgot to upload here) and interactive zones. I can't recommend it/them enough, this was my third and it won't be my last.

Friday 11 May 2018

The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza

The Girl In The Ice (Detective Erika Foster, #1)The Girl In The Ice by Robert Bryndza
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days on and off

Pages - 396

Publisher - Bookouture

Source - Tesco (I think)

Blurb from Goodreads

Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one.

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London.

What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding?

As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika.

The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong… resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again?

My Review

A high profile missing person case, bodies piling up, detective Erika Foster is on the case after a horrendous personal and professional incident. When a body is found the pressure is on, from the media, from the very influential and political family Erika finds herself fighting all corners to process her case. The police have much work to do and just when you thought it couldn't get any harder could one of the officers have caught the eye of the killer?

This is my first dance with this author, it won't be my last. I am sure this was the debut novel although you would never know it. We know Erika has gone through a horrendous time and as the story progresses we get more information on what actually happened. Very police investigation heavy but done so it keeps the readers interest. Foster is a fantastic character, spunky, brave, challenging and true to the people, a straight laced cop, mostly, with drive and focus on the truth.

A cop dealing with her own challenges both professional and personal but so driven she will do what she needs to for her case. I can't believe I was so late to the party but the good news is there are more in the series now for me to catch up with. I will absolutely be reading more by this author, looking forward to seeing what is next for Foster, 4/5 for me this time.

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Thursday 10 May 2018

My Sister's Secret by Tracy Buchanan

My Sister's SecretMy Sister's Secret by Tracy Buchanan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - < 1 day

Pages - 339

Publisher - Avon

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Everything you’ve built your life on is a lie

Willow’s memories of her parents are sun-drenched and full of smiles, love and laughter. But a mysterious invitation to a photographic exhibition exposes a secret that’s been buried since a tragic accident years ago.

Willow is forced to question everything she knew about Charity, her late mother, and Hope, the aunt she’s lived with since she was a child.

How was the enigmatic photographer connected to Willow’s parents? Why will Hope not break her silence?

Willow cannot move forward in her life without answers. But who can she really trust? Because no one has been telling the truth for a very long time.

ADDICTIVE, GRIPPING and EMOTIONALLY POWERFUL, this is the perfect read for your summer holiday escape.

My Review

Willow is grown, has a job and is finally getting to visit the place her parents died, her fathers luxury cruise liner. Willow knows her parents loved each other, her relationship with her aunt Hope has always been difficult and now Willow has questions. Why does her aunt Hope evade questions about the past, why was she hiding an invitation for Willow to go to a photographers exhibition and can the photographer shed some light on her family history.

The book splits into two main timelines, the present with Willow and the past with Willow's mum Charity, her sisters and the love of her life. The four, three sisters and Charity's love interest are close until tragedy strikes and has long reach for all them all.

It is a story about love, family, relationships, secrets, betrayal, submerged forests, diving and dealing with the past. There were a few times I gasped because I hadn't seen something coming. It isn't a murder mystery or anything like that but I think if you have close relationships you will be drawn in quickly and the actions and behaviours of some of the characters will pack an emotive punch. A family drama well done and I loved the parts with the submerged forests, diving, visiting the sunken ship because this is something I will never do. I think an author shows their ability when they can transport you to something like that, when she was in the ship, despite it being a brief scene it was really well done. I felt a bit claustrophobic reading it and saw it with complete clarity, the wreck, the emotions Willow was feeling, fabulously created scene. This was my first time reading this author, it won't be my last 4/5 stars for me!

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Wednesday 9 May 2018

The Rebel by Jaime Raven

The RebelThe Rebel by Jaime Raven
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1.5 days

Pages - 448

Publisher - Avon

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Sometimes you have to take the law into your own hands…
DI Laura Jefferson will do whatever it takes to bring down London’s most notorious crime boss. When her team receives a deadly threat – stop their investigation or the police and their families will be targeted – but they aren’t willing to back down…

Then the killings begin.

A new body turns up every day, and with no leads, Laura knows she has to take action. Her family is innocent and she’ll stop at nothing to protect them.

When someone close to her is hurt, she’ll break every rule in the book to get vengeance.

My Review

London's cops are coming down hard on the criminal underworld, one bad guy/organisation at a time. As the police turn up the heat, the bad guys decide to fight back, by any means necessary. Told from the point of view of three of our main characters, Laura (detective inspector), Rosa (skilled and ruthless assassin) and Slack (notorious crime boss) we get a diverse look at what is going down through their points of view. No one is safe, anyone could be next and the police are facing their biggest threat ever.

I have read Raven once or twice before, I like gritty crime so have enjoyed their work, this book though, page turner. When you see the point of view from the good guy, the bad guy and the hired gun it gives you food for thought for all the points of view from one situation but from different angels. A hired assassin is always chilling because they do what they do for the pay off, this time, as well as the motive, we get to see the human side of this monster. Laura has her own personal issues which are mostly background as the main focus of the book is the investigation and murders, however there is enough to give you a feel for who she is as a character. The crime boss, his motives are clear from the get go but a good author gives you some surprises along the way, Raven does this with The Rebel.

Drawn in pretty much from the opening chapter the pace is consistent throughout and had life not gotten in the way I could have read this is just about one sitting. As with most crime fiction we have murder, mayhem, family, relationships, violence and there is a wee bit of sexual content so just an fyi. I will be checking out Raven's back catalogue and wonder if we will see more with DI Laura Jefferson, 4/5 for me this time!

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Sunday 6 May 2018

May's Pre loved giveaway is now live

Sorry I am a wee bit late, if you are a regular visitor to the blog you know, sometimes, I can be the second week of the month before I get the giveaway up.

My review for this book will be going live soon, first time reading this author and this book is the first in the series, 4/5 for me and I will be reading the rest!

The book is pre-loved but in great condition, as pictured/modelled by Trixie, The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza. If you haven't read this author, it is a crime fiction book.

Open worldwide, as always use the Rafflecopter to enter, the more entries you complete the more times your name goes in. Good luck and thanks for taking part xxx

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Salt Lane by William Shaw Blog tour

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Salt Lane by William Shaw. William very kindly took time out to do a Q&A with me, enjoy.

What was the inspiration for Salt Lane?

God. You see, I’m supposed to be selling the book here, but now I’m going to give a very serious answer which will put everyone off reading it. It was those first stories that came through after the Brexit vote about fruit rotting on the trees because farmers couldn’t get enough labour. If I was a farmer I would hate to see that happen. The temptation to start bending employment law would be massive, wouldn’t it? Whatever people’s thoughts on immigration, the fact is that some people will come to the UK legally or illegally to get work wherever they can find it. If you make them illegal then there are consequences. As we found out during the Prohibition in the 1920s, a prohibition creates crime. In the same way, immigration law creates crime; it’s unavoidable. So I wanted to write about what might happen…

Relationships seem to be a big focus in the story, mother and daughter (x2), work relationships/dynamics, was this important for you and why?

I think with crime series, you get into them because of a murder, but you stay with them because of the unfolding relationships. It’s what I like in series. The days when Mrs Marple is the same in each book, and returns to an eternal world in which nothing changes are gone.

There seems to be a lot going on with Cupidi’s daughter and I have unanswered questions, was this deliberate and will we have answers?

Honestly I don’t know!! To me – from personal experience – that’s what it feels like. When my daughter was a teenager my life seemed to be FULL of unanswered questions. Like, when are you coming home tonight and have you done your homework? So yes, she has problems, but I like her a lot.

Which may answer this question, Will there be more in the series?

Oh yes! I’m just finishing the follow up which features two loveable delinquent boys, a severed arm and a massive money laundering scheme.

Migrants/asylum seekers and their working conditions is important in the story (and in real life) how much research did you have to do and did you find it hard to write?

I did a lot of talking to people, including immigration lawyers, a journalist Hsaio-Hung Pai who’d gone undercover as amongst illegal migrant workers and she put me onto a charity that works with East European migrant workers. They all had great insights. There are also a lot of shocking first-hand accounts of illegal migrants trying to survive in the UK. I did find it hard to write though… just because there are people who are really going through a lot of very hard times in those communities.

Do people need to read The BirdWatcher before this one as FF list is as book two but a few fans say this is the first book? I loved The BirdWatcher btw.

I think of Salt Lane as the first book in a series. The Birdwatcher kind of created the world for Cupidi to move into, I hope, but I think you should be able to read this one without having to go back to it. That’s said, I’d be thrilled if you do.

You have a few series, do you have one you preferred writing over the other and if so why?

I also write the Breen and Tozer series set in 1968-69. I love doing the research for that one. It usually involves watching groovy movies and listening to old records. I haven’t yet developed a preference for one of the other but right now I’m loving making up Alexandra Cupidi.

What are you working on now?

The second book in the Cupidi series. The one with the severed arm, the delinquent teenagers and the massive money laundering scheme. I want the third book to be about wildlife crime – I think. I want to do something involving a Chris Packham-type figure getting into deep deep trouble.

Where can fans find you?

I’m on, and I’m william1shaw on Twitter and Instagram.

Anything else you would like to add that I haven’t asked?

I’ve been doing a podcast called The Book Group, in which I travel round meeting people who are in reading clubs and find out what they’ve been liking. It’s been on hold while I’m finishing Cupidi book #2 but if you’re in a book group and interested in taking part, drop me a line via the contact form on my website. And thanks for having me,

Below is my review for Salt Lane.

Salt LaneSalt Lane by William Shaw
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 400

Publisher - Quercus books

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

A murdered migrant is the first big case for the embattled DS Alexandra Cupidi in a new series by the acclaimed author of The Birdwatcher

No-one knew their names, the bodies found in the water. There are people here, in plain sight, that no-one ever notices at all.

DS Alexandra Cupidi has done it again. She should have learnt to keep her big mouth shut, after the scandal that sent her packing - resentful teenager in tow - from the London Met to the lonely Kent coastline. Even murder looks different in this landscape of fens, ditches and stark beaches, shadowed by the towers of Dungeness power station. Murder looks a lot less pretty.

The man drowned in the slurry pit had been herded there like an animal. He was North African, like many of the fruit pickers that work the fields. The more Cupidi discovers, the more she wants to ask - but these people are suspicious of questions.

It will take an understanding of this strange place - its old ways and new crimes - to uncover the dark conspiracy behind the murder. Cupidi is not afraid to travel that road. But she should be. She should, by now, have learnt.

Salt Lane is the first in the new DS Alexandra Cupidi series. With his trademark characterisation and flair for social commentary, William Shaw has crafted a crime novel for our time that grips you, mind and heart.

My Review

This is book two featuring DS Alexandra Cupidi although you can read this as a standalone, however I really enjoyed The Birdwatcher and you get insight into the characters. Whilst you can get away with starting here I would suggest reading The Birdwatcher, it is a great book and gives you more info on some of the characters. A migrant worker is found murdered, a son's mother appears from nowhere and almost as quickly disappears again. This is Cupidi's chance to prove herself, after having left in scandal her last post and bringing her daughter with her she has a lot to prove. To her team, her daughter and herself but as with life when you are dealing with one aspect of your life others creep in. Her affair haunts her, her strained relationship with her mother, something isn't right with her daughter and now bodies are turning up brutally murdered, she has a lot on her plate.

I do enjoy how Shaw writes, you slide into the characters lives quickly and Cupidi has more going on than a soap opera. I really want more insight into her relationship issues with her mother, I need to know what is the chat with her daughter. I would love to hear again from a character who was in The Birdwatcher and whilst he doesn't appear in this book her colleagues are still reeling from what happened and it impacts on her relationships with them. I love that we have strong females characters that are human, have flaws but still manage to hold their own and aren't swooning at a man's feet which we see in abundance in many books these days.

This is a great start to a new series (or book two depending on what way you look at it), I think the foundations are strong and look forward to the next. I need answers to my questions, I want to see how Cupidi and her daughter get on and where Cupidi's career takes her next. She is a bit of an impulsive character but she also has a heart which I think makes for a great character, someone readers can warm to. There is a lot of focus on the investigation so you don't get bored with the relationship side of the story if that isn't your thing. I think the book offers something for everyone, police procedure, family angst, murder and intrigue. 3.5 out of 5 for me this time, not only am I looking forward to the next (I hope there is another in the series) I am going to check out his other series!

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Thursday 3 May 2018

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

The CraftsmanThe Craftsman by Sharon J. Bolton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time Taken to Read - 1 day

Pages - 352

Publisher - Trapeze

Source - TBConFB

Blurb from Goodreads

August, 1999
On the hottest day of the year, Assistant Commissioner Florence Lovelady attends the funeral of Larry Glassbrook, the convicted murderer she arrested thirty years earlier. A master carpenter and funeral director, Larry imprisoned his victims, alive, in the caskets he made himself. Clay effigies found entombed with their bodies suggested a motive beyond the worst human depravity.
June, 1969
13-year- old Patsy Wood has been missing for two days, the third teenager to disappear in as many months. New to the Lancashire police force and struggling to fit in, WPC Lovelady is sent to investigate an unlikely report from school children claiming to have heard a voice calling for help. A voice from deep within a recent grave.
August, 1999
As she tries to lay her ghosts to rest, Florence is drawn back to the Glassbrooks' old house, in the shadow of Pendle Hill, where she once lodged with the family. She is chilled by the discovery of another effigy - one bearing a remarkable resemblance to herself. Is the killer still at large? Is Florence once again in terrible danger? Or, this time, could the fate in store be worse than even her darkest imaginings?

My Review

Florence Lovelady is a police officer, we open with her at a funeral, the funeral of a killer, 1999. We head back to 1969 when Florence was new to the area and just a WPC, not only having the difficulty of working a case with missing kids but trying to carve her place in the team, being a woman! As another child goes missing, this one closer to home, more pressure mounts on the team and Florence is more and more a likely target for the fall guy. All eyes are on Florence, the cops, the townsfolk and even the killer!

There is a lot going on in this book, child murder, kidnap, small town, sexism, inequality, bitchiness, police investigation, relationships, due timeline and witchcraft! I would have LOVED to have seen a lot more dedicated to the craft, in the throwback time period we do have some. When we flip to the present again we have some but for me, for one character there is a huge chunk missing from A to B. I know that is a bit vague but I don’t do spoilers, I just felt there was a fantastic opportunity to give us more on the how people came to get into the craft. I did love the history parts and they say an author is doing their job when they leave you wanting more. I do find witchcraft and anything of that ilk, when done right, can make a great thread in a story, what I did get here I thought was great.

There are atmospheric scenes, the killer buries them alive - can you think of anything worse! Bolton does fantastic scenes with realism to have the reader holding their breath, heart pausing and the hairs on the back of your neck standing!

Emotions were high, the treatment of the young Florence at the hands of the other officers, sexism, bullying, complete disregard for valid points purely because she was a woman. The level of hatred and nastiness really ripped my knittin. I suppose for the time period it would probably be commonplace but I was absolutely infuriated.

The book has a good pace, grabs you pretty much from the beginning. The timelines are easy enough to follow as it starts in the 90s, heads back to the 60s and highlights when you are back to the 90s. Whilst we know early on who the bad guy is there is plenty of intrigue and mystery to keep you going with sidelines supplying surprises as you get into it. Sure I have read Bolton before, I know I have some of hers on my shelves, I will need to dig them out for sure, ⅘ for me this time.

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Wednesday 2 May 2018

Sole Survivor by Dean Koontz

Sole SurvivorSole Survivor by Dean Koontz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Pages - 403

Publisher - Bantam Books

Source - The Works

Blurb from Goodreads

A catastrophic, unexplainable plane crash leaves three hundred and thirty dead--no survivors. Among the victims are the wife and two daughters of Joe Carpenter, a Los Angeles Post crime reporter.
A year after the crash, still gripped by an almost paralyzing grief, Joe encounters a woman named Rose, who claims to have survived the crash. She holds out the possibility of a secret that will bring Joe peace of mind. But before he can ask any questions, she slips away.
Driven now by rage (have the authorities withheld information?) and a hope almost as unbearable as his grief (if there is one survivor, are there others?), Joe sets out to find the mysterious woman. His search immediately leads him into the path of a powerful and shadowy organization hell-bent on stopping Rose before she can reveal what she knows about the crash.
Sole Survivor unfolds at a heart-stopping pace, as a desperate chase and a shattering emotional odyssey lead Joe to a truth that will force him to reassess everything he thought he knew about life and death--a truth that, given the chance, will rock the world and redefine the destiny of humanity.

My Review

The one year anniversary since his wife and children's plane crashed and Joe is no closer to getting over his grief. When he happens upon the mysterious Rose, taking photographs of his loved ones grave then witnessing her being attacked, curiosity is piqued. Joe embarks on a journey to find out who she is, what she knows about his family and who then men are that have been following him.

I would say this book, for me, split into two stories. The first is all about Joe, grief, the relatives of those on board the aircraft and of course the mysterious Rose. Joe finds she has visited other families who lost someone on the crash and what befell them after her contact. The second part of the story we find out all about Rose, some mysterious happenings and the need to suspend belief a wee bit. There are so many parts I could talk about, humanity, what is right and wrong, ethics however to do so would go into spoilers, something I refuse to do. Would love to gab ideas though with folk who have read it, in a private forum or gabbing so as not to spoil it for anyone else. Certainly interesting ideas and sure conspiracy fans would love it and suggest stuff like that already happens somewhere in the world.

Interesting, different and certainly I wanted to find out what was coming next. Read Koontz before and will read him again, I like this I just didn't love it. I also preferred the first half of the book I think, 3 out of 5 for me this time.

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