Sunday 29 December 2019

A Bit of a Stretch by Chris Atkins

A Bit Of A StretchA Bit Of A Stretch by Chris Atkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days (in and out)

Publisher - Atlantic books

Source - Netgalley

Blurb from Goodreads

A shocking and darkly funny account of the reality of Britain's prisons.

Where can a tin of tuna buy you clean clothes? Which British education system struggles with 50% illiteracy? Where do teetotal Muslims attend AA meetings? Where is it easier to get 'spice' than paracetamol? Where does self-harm barely raise an eyebrow?

Welcome to Her Majesty's Prison Service, a creaking and surreal world that has been left to rot for decades in the shadows of polite society. Like most people, documentary-maker Chris Atkins didn't spend much time thinking about prisons. But after becoming embroiled in a dodgy scheme to fund his latest film, he was sent down for five years. His new home would be HMP Wandsworth, one of the oldest, largest, and most dysfunctional prisons in Europe.

Horrifying, moving, and darkly funny, this is the unvarnished depiction of what he found. With a cast of characters ranging from wily drug dealers to corrupt screws to senior officials bent on endless (and fruitless) reform, this is the reality behind the locked gates. Full of incredible and hilarious stories, A Bit of a Stretch reveals the true scale of our prison crisis and why it is costing us all.

My Review

I hadn't heard of Chris Atkins, a film maker who got caught up in a huge tax scam and went to jail for it. He was involved in a very small part of it but got sent to jail and this is his story of how it came about, life inside during his time, how he survived and what he experienced.

Life behind bars, we have all watched a million tv shows and read a few books on it, this one was a wee bit different for me, I felt anyway. He tells us of friendships, behaviours of the inmates, the privileges, punishments, guards good and bad and the difference between categories of prisoners and how difficult it can be to get the most basic of requests when you are incarcerated.

The book also shows how more advantaged Atkins was because of his class, skin colour and education compared to some of his fellow inmates. There is a lot of sadness, frustration and downright horror at some of the things that happened, suicide, death, loneliness, abuse of power - it really is an eye opener to people who have never experienced or been exposed to prison life. Hard to read at times due to the brutality of some of the situations, circumstances and just horror of jail life but interesting to see the huge impact it had on Atkins, 3.5/5 for me this time.

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Saturday 28 December 2019

Twas the Nightshift before Christmas by Adam Kay

Twas the Nightshift Before ChristmasTwas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - < 2 hours

Pages - 144

Publisher - Picador

Source - Bought

Blurb from Goodreads

Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas is the hilarious, poignant and entertaining story of the life of a junior doctor at the most challenging time of the year. With twenty-five tales of intriguing, shocking and incredible Christmas incidents, the British public will finally appreciate the sacrifices made and the challenges faced by the unsung heroes of the NHS.

Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas will be fully illustrated (as tastefully as possible) and will delight all of Adam’s fans throughout the festive period of Christmas 2019 and for many years to come.

My Review

If you haven't read Kay's first book you may actually enjoy this more as you have nothing to compare it to. "This is going to hurt" is book one, a few hundred pages and really in depth over his career and what led to him no longer being with the NHS. This book is tiny in comparison and only covers the handful of Christmas shifts he had to do as a doctor over the festive season.

Funny, cringe, sad. horrific and lots and lots of swearing. Kay takes you on a journey with him as he covers many medical situations in his time in the NHS and a wee glimpse of some of the issues the staff face, no time off for a loved ones funeral :O and some of the weird and wonderful things human beings experience.

There is one chapter highlighted before it goes into it that some readers may find horrific and hard going, on abortion and one particular case for him. It is well signposted and you can skip past which I think is really good of him as once seen you can't unsee and abortion is a very emotive subject for many for a variety of reasons. Like I said if you read and loved the first book I am sure you will enjoy this one, I did but I couldn't help but compare the two from the minute I got my hands on the physical book of this one. Lacking in size, depth and maybe a quarter of what the original one gave us, to be fair I could read his stories all day and was left wanting more, 3.5/5 for me.

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Thursday 19 December 2019

46% Better than Dave by Alastair Puddick Blog Tour

Today is my stop on the blog tour, I have content for my spot, please check out the other stops as we all over different content.


A novel of jealousy, muddy shoes and giant barbecues.

Dave Brookman’s new next-door neighbour is ruining his life. Because in a bizarre coincidence, he’s also called Dave Brookman, he’s the same age and he even grew up in the same town. There is one big difference, though. This new Dave is vastly more successful in every way.

As Dave starts questioning everything about himself, suddenly his perfect life seems a lot less than perfect. And what starts as friendly rivalry soon turns into obsessive jealousy and crazy behaviour that could see Dave lose it all. Can he get a grip before it’s too late?


Alastair Puddick is a writer and editor who has spent the past 20 years writing for a variety of magazines and websites. His work has spanned many different paths, from jetting off to exciting cities across the world to writing about dating advice, data centres, facilities management and the exciting world of flooring. He also once wrote an agony advice column posing as Elvis Presley's ghost.

Alastair still works as a copywriter and lives in Sussex with his wife, Laura, and cat, George. He has written three novels: The Unexpected Vacation of George Thring, Killing Dylan and his newest book, 46% Better Than Dave.

Click HERE to buy your copy

Alastair Puddick Guest Blog Post – My Favourite Character to Write

My favourite character

Rude, curmudgeonly, crass and outrageous, Freddie Winters is my favourite character to write.

I love an antihero in fiction. People of questionable character, who live by a more complicated moral code. Those people brave enough to live life their own way, without apology. Not always living by society’s rules, or strictly within the law. But who still have a good heart and can be called upon to save the day – even if somewhat begrudgingly. Characters like Lisbeth Salander (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Dexter Morgan (Darkly Dreaming Dexter), Allan Karlsson (The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared) or The Bookseller with No Name (Mystery Man).

When I first had the idea for Killing Dylan, I knew what story I wanted to tell – the central plot, the key crime and the motivation for doing it. I knew what was happening to whom, and why people were doing what they were doing. The very first draft I wrote was actually written from the point of the view of the titular character. But there was something missing. The story needed an extra edge.

I thought about how other crime books worked, with a dedicated detective, armed with years of experience and success, and a burning desire to uncover the truth. Then I thought, why not spin that on its head? Maybe the central protagonist, who had to solve the crime, could be someone with no experience, very little success, no real clue of what they’re doing and who doesn’t really want to be there in the first place. The idea made me smile, and my antihero, Freddie Winters, was born.

The wrong man for the job

Freddie was partly inspired by the TV show Castle, in which a very famous, successful mystery novelist joins up with the NYPD to enthusiastically solve crimes in his spare time (itself a kind of update of Murder She Wrote). However, rather than a successful novelist, Freddie is not very good (although he can’t see that). He just about manages to carve out a living writing books that nobody buys, and organising his own impromptu book signings. He hates that he isn’t more successful, when all of his peers have gone on to do so much better. He can’t pay his rent. He can barely afford to eat. And he hates the world for it.

Freddie is curmudgeonly and rude. He’s bold and outspoken. He can’t understand why people don’t see how brilliant he is. And his bad attitude often gets him into a lot of trouble.

Living life his own way

I always have a lot of fun writing Freddie Winters. He is completely incorrigible. He says things that he shouldn’t (that nobody should), and he doesn’t apologise for it. He does things his own way – even when that way offends or upsets people (or sometimes because of it), or even breaks a few laws. Despite that, his heart is firmly in the right place, and he can (almost) always be called upon to do the right thing – especially if there’s a bit of money in it for him.

I love how brave Freddie is (even though, technically, he’s a bit of a coward). He’s brash and confident. He doesn’t suffer fools and he’s not afraid to tell people what he really thinks. Most of all, he stands up for what he believes in. He stands up for his friends. And when push comes to shove, he’ll put himself in harm’s way to protect those people he loves.

A little bit of me

My wife has often said she thinks Freddie Winters is me, if I were brave enough to really say what’s on my mind. I guess there’s a little truth to that. Although the character is not autobiographical, there definitely is a little bit of me in him. Whenever you create a character, their experiences will always be based upon your own – even if you completely subvert things to create someone completely opposite to yourself. And, okay, I’ll admit some of the things Freddie moans about are the same things that get on my nerves, too.

That’s probably why I enjoy writing Freddie so much. I make him say the most outrageous things, have terrible opinions, act in a completely outlandish way and do really mean-spirited, ghastly things – the sort of things that make me gasp and laugh in equal measure. And hopefully they make other people laugh, too.

Freddie Winters is definitely my favourite character to write. So much so, in fact, that I’ve recently started work on his next adventure. I can’t wait to see what outrageous things he gets up to next, and book two in the Freddie Winters series should hopefully be with you soon. And in the meantime, why not check out my other books at

Monday 16 December 2019

Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Christmas Shopaholic (Shopaholic, #9)Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 384

Publisher - Bantam Press

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Celebrate Christmas with the ultimate Shopaholic!

The brilliant laugh-out-loud festive novel from the Number One bestselling author.

Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) adores Christmas. It's always the same – Mum and Dad hosting, carols playing, Mum pretending she made the Christmas pudding, and the next-door neighbours coming round for sherry in their terrible festive jumpers.

And now it's even easier with online bargain-shopping sites – if you spend enough you even get free delivery. Sorted!

But this year looks set to be different. Unable to resist the draw of craft beer and smashed avocado, Becky's parents are moving to ultra-trendy Shoreditch and have asked Becky if she'll host Christmas this year. What could possibly go wrong?

With sister Jess demanding a vegan turkey, husband Luke determined that he just wants aftershave again, and little Minnie insisting on a very specific picnic hamper – surely Becky can manage all this, as well as the surprise appearance of an old boyfriend and his pushy new girlfriend, whose motives are far from clear . . .

Will chaos ensue, or will Becky manage to bring comfort and joy to Christmas?

My Review

Keep in mind this is book 9 in a series and my first time reading this series, I know I know, some readers will be exploding reading that! Becky Brandon is a shopaholic I mean it is the shopaholic series but this girl has an addiction you quickly realise how bad within the first few chapters. Her other half is pretty supportive (enabling), she is a parent and Christmas is fast approaching. Christmas is family time and Becky is hosting this year, the list of demands is pouring in, she is trying to keep on top of the shopping (personal and Christmas).

So being new to the series I wasn't sure what to expect, it splits into a few things, Becky's shopping addiction, the whole run up to Christmas and family life. Some of the antics is pretty funny, trying to cater for so many, you know how stressful Christmas can be. Her sister is a vegan so that is extra catering but she also seems quite difficult which causes additional stress and hilarity (for the reader). Becky's parents make some life choices that brings challenges and hilarity, a whatsapp group that moves so quickly that even my head was spinning but I did chuckle. Fling in a high profile ex boyfriend, unresolved feelings, shopping, Christmas, family dramas are a glimpse of what is in store.

I flipped back on forth on Becky, I liked her, I didn't, she was self involved/selfish, thoughtless but then flipped my opinion. One of those characters I took a bit to warm to but mind, this is book 9 and I am just meeting her. I think I would have a different viewpoint if I knew her from book one, I think I will pick the others up as I find them, 3.5/5 for me this time.

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Saturday 14 December 2019

Black Summer by Mike Craven Blog Tour

Black Summer (Washington Poe, #2)Black Summer by M.W. Craven
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 352

Publisher - Constable

Source - Netgalley

Blurb from Goodreads

After The Puppet Show, a new storm is coming . . .

Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath . . . He's currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.

So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.

Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?

And then Elizabeth goes missing again - and all paths of investigation lead back to Poe.

My Review

Tilly and Poe are BACK! An old case of Poe's comes back to bite him and he needs help. Calling in Tilly - Poe has to investigate, delicately, whilst having to answer to his colleagues, judgement and the horrific possibility he got it wrong and an innocent went to jail.

Poe is a good cop, he has great instincts and he knows he put a bad guy behind bars yet proof has come to light he got it wrong. The dynamic duo, Tilly & Poe have to work together to investigate how this could happen.

Chapter one, oh dear Lord, I had the boke! There is a scene in a restaurant and they talk about a dish that is barbaric to the animal in the prep of it. If you struggle with animal cruelty you may want to skip past when they start talking about it, it will stay with me a long time. I thought how lobsters were done was bad, this is the thing of horrors, be warned. That said, there isn't much in the way of animal cruelty after this and we get back to the meat of the story.

The uniqueness that is Tilly Bradshaw and her friendship with Poe is one of my fav things about these books. Tilly is a one of a kind, socially inappropriate at times, funny, caring, innocent, super smart and fiercely loyal. I love their interaction and when the story kicks off I was hooked pretty quick wanting to know how, how could this happen. I think if you snag your reader quickly you know you have a winning formula, Craven seems to have this knack, certainly with this series. I need to check out his other books! Fast paced, interactions with a psychopath, police investigations and the long awaited Tilly & Poe bantz, 4/5 for me, roll on book 3!

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Friday 13 December 2019

When Stars Will Shine Blog Tour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for When Stars Will Shine, week one is as follows:

And week two, we all offer different content/reviews so please check out the other stops.

About the book:

Available to buy from AMAZON NOW

When Stars Will Shine is a collection of short stories from your favourite authors who have come together to deliver you a Christmas read with a twist.

With true war tales that will break your heart, gritty Christmas crimes that will shake you to your core, and heart-warming tales of love lost and found, this anthology has something for everyone. And, with every penny made being sent to support our troops, you can rest assured that you’re helping our heroes, one page at a time.

From authors such as Louise Jensen, Graham Smith, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Lucy Cameron, Val Portelli, and Alex Kane, you are in for one heck of a ride!

When Stars Will Shine is the perfect Christmas gift for the bookworms in your life!

A Note from Emma Mitchell:

As the blurb tells us, When Stars Will Shine is a multi-genre collection of Christmas-themed short stories compiled to raise money for our armed forces and every penny made from the sales of both the digital and paperback copies will be donated to the charity.

Working closely with Kate Noble at Noble Owl Proofreading and Amanda Ni Odhrain from Let’s Get Booked, I’ve been able to pick the best of the submissions to bring you a thrilling book which is perfect for dipping into at lunchtime or snuggling up with on a cold winter’s night. I have been completely blown away by the support we’ve received from the writing and blogging community, especially the authors who submitted stories and Shell Baker from Baker’s Not So Secret Blog, who has organised the cover reveal and blog tour.

There isn’t a person in the country who hasn’t benefited from the sacrifices our troops, past and present, have made for us and they all deserve our thanks.

It has been an honour working on these stories, and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have.

Authors involved with the book can be found on Twitter:

Twitter handles:

Robert Scragg: @robert_scragg

Paul Moore: @mooros69

Graham Smith: @grahamsmith1972

Malcolm Hollingdrake: @MHollingdrake

Alex Kane: @AlexKaneWriter

Owen Mullen: @OwenMullen6

Gordon Bickerstaff: @GFBickerstaff

Lexi Rees: @Lexi_Rees

Megan Steer: @tjsarcat15

Anna Franklin Osborne: @HomeOsborne

Stewart Giles: @stewartGiles

Jane Risdon: @Jane_Risdon

Louise Jensen: @fabricating_fiction

Rob Ashman: @RobAshmanAuthor

Carmen Radtke: @carmenradtke1

Val Portelli: @ValPortelli

Mark Brownless: @MarkBrownless

John Carson: @JohnCarsonBooks

Kris Egleton: @Mouse6420

Paul T. Campbell: @PtcCampbell

Lucy Cameron: @lucycomeron22

KA Richardson: @KerryAnn77

Billy McLaughlin: @bilbob20

When Stars Will Shine: Helping Our Heroes, One Page At A TimeWhen Stars Will Shine: Helping Our Heroes, One Page At A Time by Emma Mitchell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - In & out over 4 days

Pages - Kindle edition

Publisher - Creating Perfection

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

When Stars Will Shine is a collection of short stories from your favourite authors who have come together to deliver you a Christmas read with a twist.

With true war tales that will break your heart, gritty Christmas crimes that will shake you to your core, and heart warming tales of love lost and found, this anthology has something for everyone. And, with every penny made being sent to support our troops, you can rest assured that you’re helping our heroes, one page at a time.

From authors such as Louise Jensen, Graham Smith, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Lucy Cameron, Val Portelli, and Alex Kane, you are in for one heck of a ride!

My Review

If you follow my reviews you know I am not a huge fan of short stories but because this is for a good cause and there are so many great authors contributing I gave it a go. Not disappointed guys, initially I took note of every title and was going to do a very brief review for each story but decided to just do it as a whole. All the stories have a very diffrent feel/voice as you would expect with so many different authors having input. I felt the initial opening story packed an emotive punch and had the right tone/story content for what the book represents.

The other stories covers a range of topics/issues, war, post traumatic stress, violence, abuse, Christmas, ghosts, family, personal growth, stalker - to be honest you are hard pushed to name a topic that isn't covered in the book.

The stories vary in length but all are relatively short but equally have enough content/depth to drawn you in and keep your interest. There are a few authors who are either new to me or I haven't heard of, because of the writing I will be checking the majority of them out (some I already know). It doesn't really matter what your preferred genre is, I absolutely recommend this book, not only is it a great cause but a fantastic way to try out authors that may be new to you. Well done to Emma for pulling this together, thank you for giving me the opportunity to read and exposing me to many new authors, 4.5/5 for me this time!

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Tuesday 10 December 2019

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

The Christmas SistersThe Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 416

Publisher - HQ Stories

Source - Bought & review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

In the snowy Highlands of Scotland, Suzanne McBride is dreaming of the perfect cozy Christmas. Her three adopted daughters are coming home for the holidays and she can’t wait to see them. But tensions are running high…

Workaholic Hannah knows she can’t avoid spending the holidays with her family two years in a row. But it’s not the weight of their expectations that’s panicking her—it’s the life-changing secret she’s hiding. Stay-at-home mom Beth is having a personal crisis. All she wants for Christmas is time to decide if she’s ready to return to work—seeing everyone was supposed to help her stress levels, not increase them! Posy isn’t sure she’s living her best life, but with her parents depending on her, making a change seems risky. But not as risky as falling for gorgeous new neighbor Luke…

As Suzanne’s dreams of the perfect McBride Christmas unravel, she must rely on the magic of the season to bring her daughters together. But will this new togetherness teach the sisters that their close-knit bond is strong enough to withstand anything—including a family Christmas?

My Review

Suzanne McBride just wants everything perfect, her daughters are coming home for Christmas, business is booming and things are great. Suzanne is stressed, not only is her nightmares still coming but her three girls are going to be together and she just wants them all to be happy. Suzanne adopted the three girls as children and just wants them to be happy, healthy and close. Posy lives there, primed to take over the business when Suzanne retired, Posy loves the mountains, climbing and adventure. Beth is beautiful, has her own little girls and the perfect family life but secretly wants more, something for her. Hannah is career driven and keeps her cards closest to her chest, she doesn't call Suzanne mum and even her sisters feel she is keeping them at length. This will be the Christmas they all need to be honest with themselves, each other and with honesty comes truths, upset and things that will change the family as they know it.

The chapters jump between the characters, seamlessly giving the reader a chance to get to know each of the ladies, how they are and perceived by each other. How they all appear to each other but as we read their chapters we see a different side to them or how they actually see themselves.

As with any family there are issues, perceptions, anger, the past influencing the present/future and this family are no different. The setting is predominantly the Scottish highlands, it is cold, snowy and the perfect setting for a Christmas themed story. If you like family dramas, relationships, love, siblings and unresolved issues from childhood impacting adulthood you will love this. Sank it pretty much in one sitting, characters you can either relate to or invest in, 4/5 for me this time. I will absolutely be looking out for more by this author and actually think I have one or two on my tbrm.

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Sunday 8 December 2019

Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox

Gone by MidnightGone by Midnight by Candice Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1.5 days

Pages - 372

Publisher - Century

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

They left four children safe upstairs.
They came back to three.

On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young boys are left alone while their parents dine downstairs.

But when one of the parents checks on the children at midnight, they discover one of them is missing.

The boys swear they stayed in their room. CCTV confirms that none of them left the building. No trace of the child is found.

Now the hunt is on to find him, before it’s too late – and before the search for a boy becomes a search for a body...

My Review

Kids left in a hotel room whilst all the parents are downstairs, eating, drinking and checking in frequently on the kids. Four boys left alone and one of them goes missing, the kids all deny leaving the room, footage in the hotel is limited, what happened to the kid? Private investigator Ted and his partner Amanda are called in by the missing boys mother much to the annoyance of the police. Ted is an ex cop but has a cloud hanging over him from his past, a past that cost him his job, his wife, his reputation and still follows him. Amanda is an actual riot, fearless, quirky, felt to be dangerous by many and blamed for a life being lost on their last case. Tempers are running high and time is running out to find the missing child.

So this is book 2 or 3 in a series but the first I have picked up, I don't feel I missed out on anything as there are mentions to what has passed previously. The investigation kicks off and we see the struggles between Ted/Amanda and the police, as the book goes on we understand why.

To be honest I was much more interested in Ted and Amanda's story, back story, than the investigation. Not that it was boring or anything just these two are really interesting, in how they are with each other, how people react to them and just how different they are to each other but it works. Amanda is just so different, she had a problematic childhood and her experiences have helped shape who she is, she has no filter and is a bit of a bull in a china shop. Ted hangs back, is very cautious purely because of what he has experienced.

I need to get the previous book or books as I can't wait to read more about these two. This story itself is engaging, decent paced and as well as the investigation we get plenty of insight into Ted as a person, his personal life and some of Amanda. Two fantastic characters, 4 stars for me this time and I look forward to reading their back story and seeing what comes next in the series.

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Saturday 7 December 2019

Rage by Suzanne Lowe Blog Tour

Today is my turn on the blog tour for Rage by Suzanne Lowe. This is a @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours (@DamppebblesBTs) blog tour.

Rage (Seventeen Series #2) by Suzanne Lowe

#RageSeventeen @Suzanne_Lowe_

Book Blurb:

“Revenge. It was all he could think about.

His body ached for it, burned for it like a relentless fire waiting to be quenched. It was all he wanted.”

With the KV17 virus now in its mutated form and the older children infected, Jasper’s Bay faces an uncertain future as they attempt to find a cure.

When old enemies return, causing tension and turmoil throughout the town, Lexi must face her fears and suppress the rage building inside her. Will the virus take hold or can she maintain control? How can you defeat an enemy when it is part of who you are?

The exciting and compelling YA series set in the harsh Australian outback. Available to buy NOW from Amazon

About Suzanne Lowe:

Suzanne was born in Perth Western Australia and as a young adult grew up in the small country town of Tom Price situated in the outback of Western Australia. Her current home is in Perth with her husband, two daughters and cat Abby.

Suzanne has a Bachelor of Science Degree, majoring in Sports Science. Her interests include watching movies, particularly sci- fi, travelling, photography and reading. She also enjoys going to the occasional comic book convention! 

Like the young women in her stories, Suzanne has had the opportunity to experience many exciting adventures in her life so far including being part of the Australian Army Reserves, climbing to Mt Everest base camp, descending into one of the pyramids at Giza in Egypt, flying in a hot air balloon over the Valley of the Kings, parachuting from a plane at 12000 feet in York and sitting on the edge of an active volcano on Tanna island in Vanuatu.

Suzanne has won the award for best Sci fi/Horror in an e-book in the New Apple literary awards for her YA novel Seventeen and received a bronze medal from Reader' Favorite International writers’ literary competition for her children’s novel The Pirate Princess and the Golden Locket.

Suzanne is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Australian Society of Authors.

Her published works include;

Seventeen, book one in the Seventeen Series. A YA dystopian adventure story set in Australia.

Rage, book two in the Seventeen Series.

The Pirate Princess and the Golden Locket, a pirate adventure story for middle grade children

You can find Suzanne on Social Media:





For my stop I have my review, enjoy.

RageRage by Suzanne Lowe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 229

Publisher -

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Book two in the exciting YA Seventeen Series set in the Australian outback.

“Revenge. It was all he could think about.
His body ached for it, burned for it like a relentless fire waiting to be quenched. It was all he wanted.”

With the KV17 virus now in its mutated form and the older children infected, they face an uncertain future.
As they attempt to find a cure, an old enemy unexpectedly returns, creating tension and turmoil throughout Jasper’s Bay. When hostilities increase, Lexi must face her fears and suppress the rage building inside her.

Will the virus take hold or can she maintain control? How can you defeat an enemy when it is part of who you are?

Australian spelling and slang used. Contains mild violence.

My Review

This is book two in a series, I haven't read book one and don't think it has impacted on me enjoying the story however I will be going back to read book one. Set in the outback in Austrailia, the KV17 virus which I assumed was the focus on book one, it taking off etc, all of the adults are dead from it and it has now mutated. Kids of seventeen and above are being affected by it but instead of being killed they are "changed" overcome by rage and emotions, how can they survive. They only know that which they have seen and experienced, some of their camp were removed when they become infected. As it becomes clear no one is safe some of the older kids have to try and reach out to those removed from their community, to see how they fared and if there is any hope. An old enemy from the previous book is still in their midst, the odds are against them, can the kids find a cure to stay safe, protect the younger ones and just survive?

So an apocalyptic type book, all adults are gone, it is set in modern day so all our kids are device reliant but what do you do when all of that is gone. Back to basics to try and survive, provide for themselves and live to see another day. Lexi is our main character, trying to battle with everything that passed, one of the kids that had to leave she was quite close to and her emotions are running high. Is it stress or because she is of an age she needs to worry about the virus?

There are a lot of themes to the book, survival obviously, friendship, relationships, finite resources and what happens when the need is more than there is to go around. Lexi has a lot of personal issues to contend with, her petulant sister, trying to keep everyone safe & active within their wee town, her own changes and what that could mean not just for her but her wee tribe.

I really want to go back and read book one to get a few gaps/questions filled in for me, I am really looking forward to book three due to how this one is rounded up. Apocalyptic with not too dark themes although there are some parts, at least one seen had me gasp out loud. In these types of situations, especially with no adults around, we can see the worst come out in people, actions and consequences! I am very much looking forward to the next in this series!

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Wednesday 4 December 2019

Happy Birthday Orenda

Happy 5th Birthday Orenda Books here is to many many more years of epic books!

Orenda: A Canadian First Nations word that means: ‘The mystical power that drives human accomplishment’.

If you haven't heard of Orenda books you NEED to go check out their website, I can honestly say, hand on heart, I haven't read a book by Orenda that I haven't liked and they are all so very different.

Today is their 5th birthday, you know I am crap with remembering dates but Jen over at JenMeds book reviews has done a fantastic post to highlight their special birthday.

I want to do a wee something to celebrate so I will give one lucky winner X1 paperback book of their choice from Orenda's titles, Karen is a fantastic person and supports her authors and all the bloggers who come across her. It is nice to celebrate and give a wee something back. To enter just use the Rafflecopter below, good luck.

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The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry

The Art of DyingThe Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 416

Publisher - Canongate Books

Source - Netgalley

Blurb from Goodreads

Edinburgh, 1850. Despite being at the forefront of modern medicine, hordes of patients are dying all across the city, with doctors finding their remedies powerless. But it is not just the deaths that dismay the esteemed Dr James Simpson - a whispering campaign seeks to blame him for the death of a patient in suspicious circumstances.

Simpson's protégé Will Raven and former housemaid Sarah Fisher are determined to clear their patron's name. But with Raven battling against the dark side of his own nature, and Sarah endeavouring to expand her own medical knowledge beyond what society deems acceptable for a woman, the pair struggle to understand the cause of the deaths.

Will and Sarah must unite and plunge into Edinburgh's deadliest streets to clear Simpson's name. But soon they discover that the true cause of these deaths has evaded suspicion purely because it is so unthinkable.

My Review

Let me start off saying this is book two in a series, I didn't realise and I don't think I have been hampered by not reading book one. There are a few throwbacks and brief recaps of things that happened with book one so you can get away with starting with this one, if starting mid series doesn't make you twitchy.

The time is 1850, the place is Edinburgh and as is nature, people are dying. However some of them are not as should be and one well respected doctor, doctor Simpson, one of the patients was his. With a smear campaign kicking off and whispers of wrongful death of this patient, his understudy Will Raven reluctantly looks into the case and finds more than he bargained for. Will is prompted into action by Sarah, once a house maid to Doctor Simpson, now married to a doctor herself, Sarah has always been interested in medicine. At a time when women should be seen and not heard, married and tied to the sink, Sarah has always been supported and encouraged by doctor Simpson so she has a dual interest in the case.

The book has quite a few layers to it, Will and Sarah have a past, Sarah is now married, Will is very career focused and being involved with a house maid, for him, would negatively impact his career. Yet now he is back, Sarah is in a very different social standing and Will is having to battle his actions and consequences. Investigating who would have it out for doctor Simpson, the mysterious deaths and one of my fave things about this book, medicine back then! Add to all that we get wee snippets from the killer, an insight into their mind and what they are doing, I think when this is done well it really adds to a story. I do like a book is woven with historical facts, considering I never used to bother with historical fiction I do find myself enjoying them more as I get older. I also like books where you learn stuff as you go coupled with the fact is it set somewhere I have visited! Medicine itself is always evolving, practices changing, attitudes and procedures so I do like when you read of things past and then go off to read more in depth around X subject. I liked this one so much I will be buying book one and looking out eagerly for the next in the series, 4.5/5 for me this time. If you like murder mystery, medicine, books in the past, relationships and investigation this one will tick all the boxes for you!

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Sunday 1 December 2019

Telling Tales about Dementia by Lucy Whitman and Joanna Trollope

Telling Tales About Dementia: Experiences of CaringTelling Tales About Dementia: Experiences of Caring by Lucy Whitman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days as able

Pages - 222

Publisher - Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Source - bought

Blurb from Goodreads

How does it feel when someone you love develops dementia? How do you cope with the shock, the stress and the grief? Can you be sure that you and your family will receive the support you need?

In Telling Tales About Dementia, thirty carers from different backgrounds and in different circumstances share their experiences of caring for a parent, partner or friend with dementia. They speak from the heart about love and loss: 'I still find it hard to believe that Alzheimer's has happened to us,' writes one contributor, 'as if we were sent the wrong script.' The stories told here vividly reflect the tragedy of dementia, the gravity of loss, and instances of unsatisfactory diagnosis, treatment and care. But they contain hope and optimism too: clear indications that the quality of people's lives can be enhanced by sensitive support services, by improved understanding of the impact of dementia, by recognising the importance of valuing us all as human beings, and by embracing and sustaining the connections between us.

This unique collection of personal accounts will be an engaging read for anyone affected by dementia in a personal or professional context, including relatives of people with dementia, social workers, medical practitioners and care staff.

My Review

Dementia, Alzheimer's - these are words that everyone recognises. Be it from personal experience, through their work, campaigns on tv or even in books and movies now. We will all be touched by it in some form or another, this book gives a very raw and emotive look into the journey's of their own, their loved ones and how they coped and or what they experienced.

There are also, within some of the stories, the very stark reality of what these conditions do, how it progresses and how differently it affected their loved ones and their own lives. They mention Admiral nurses, an amazing and free resource for families who are supporting someone with Dementia. is the website and has a free telephone number 0800 888 6678.

The book looks at some of the horrific failings these people encountered, the heartbreaking journeys with their loved one(s) and how horrific this condition is, what it takes and how they managed to survive watching their loved ones disappear from them, piece by piece.

I would recommend everyone read this book, if it helps one person be a bit more understanding or gives an additional resource/lifeline for people to reach out to, it has done it's job. It also gives the reader insight into how we can help, be supportive or maybe even learn some coping techniques ourselves, 4/5 for me this time.

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