Tuesday 31 May 2022

After Dark by Jayne Cowie

After DarkAfter Dark by Jayne Cowie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Pages - 374

Publisher - Headline Accent

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads


They dominate workplaces, public spaces and government.

They are no longer afraid to cross a dark car park, catch the last train, or walk home alone.

With the Curfew law in place, all men are electronically tagged and must stay at home after 7pm.

It changed things for the better. Until now.

A woman is murdered late at night and evidence suggests she knew her attacker.

It couldn't have been a man because a Curfew tag is a solid alibi... Isn't it?

My Review

Whilst this is a work of fiction I think it hits of some very real and relevant points and issues. Long long history of violence and murders against women, in this book things have turned around. Women have had enough of it and passed a law against women being murdered. Men are all tagged, checks done, they cannot be out within certain hours. And yet now a woman is found brutally murdered but there is no way a man could have done it, is there?

We go through view points of four of the main characters, Pamela - officer, Helen - teacher & in a newish romance, Sarah and Cass - mother and daughter with a very tumultuous relationship. A lot of the characters are very unlikeable to so many reasons. Cass is a bit of a brat, torn over the guidelines to protect women and how it impacted (unfairly in her opinion) on her and her da's life. Pamela trying to do her job and like many officers fighting an uphill battle, politics and almost everyone against the idea that could possibly be a man. And Helen, poor Helen - she seems like such a nice person but the more we learn of her and her relationship the more twitchy I got. Despite the many unlikeable characters it makes for compelling reading, a shady character can be really engaging.

The idea of men being punished purely because of their gender, tagged/tracked, only able to do some jobs due to the restrictions on their gender. The book also brings in assessments for when couples want to live together, have a baby and offers options to terminate pregnancy if the test shows it to be a boy. It pushes boundaries and challenges the reader to live in a world faced with some questionable practices and a lot weighing in on your gender, sound familiar? I love when fiction touches into reality but flips social constructs of accepted ideas that in reality we actually live with.

I think this would be a belter of a book for a reading group/discussion as it will evoke some very emotive responses from readers. 4/5 for me this time and I will absolutely be reading this author again.

View all my reviews Out to buy now and at time of posting it is only £4.99 (UK) for the treebook, click HERE for Amazon.

Thursday 26 May 2022

Elektra by Jennifer Saint

ElektraElektra by Jennifer Saint
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Pages - 304

Publisher - Wildfire

Source - Sent by a friend

Blurb from Goodreads

The House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse, and the fickle nature of men and gods.

The sister of Helen, wife of Agamemnon - her hopes of averting the curse are dashed when her sister is taken to Troy by the feckless Paris. Her husband raises a great army against them, and determines to win, whatever the cost.

Princess of Troy, and cursed by Apollo to see the future but never to be believed when she speaks of it. She is powerless in her knowledge that the city will fall.

The youngest daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, Elektra is horrified by the bloodletting of her kin. But, can she escape the curse, or is her own destiny also bound by violence?

My review

So apparently a lot of this is very well known but I am not up on my Greek myths and legends. We hear from three Clytemnestra, Cassandra and Elektra (Clytemmnestra's youngest), Clytemnestra is Helen's sister and Cassandra is Princess of Troy. The story goes between the three and has some pretty tragic heart breaking emotive moments.

I love reading about these type of legends and the retellings, certainly J Saint does it ina way that is very engaging and pulls you in. In actual fact we watched Troy for the first time the other night and the way a movie goes and you watch it - that was the imagery the book/descriptions provoke.

There are many tragedies and a few topics will be triggering for some, murder, sacrifice, infidelity, abuse honestly so much action/horrific and shocking moments. If you are familiar with the legend(s) then it won't hold a ton of surprises for you but for me it did and did it pretty well. I always find after reading these I want to sink my teeth into more, 4/5 for me and looking forward to her next offerings.

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Saturday 21 May 2022

Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister

Wrong Place Wrong TimeWrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 4 days

Pages - 374

Publisher - Michael Joseph

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Can you stop a murder after it's already happened?

It's every parent's nightmare.

Your happy, funny, innocent son commits a terrible crime: murdering a complete stranger.

You don't know who. You don't know why. You only know your teenage boy is in custody and his future lost.

That night you fall asleep in despair. Until you wake . . .

. . . and it is yesterday.

Every morning you wake up a day earlier, another day before the murder. Another chance to stop it.

Somewhere in the past lie the answers, and you don't have a choice but to find them . . .

My Review

Imagine watching your loved one involved in an incident that will ruin all of your lives, your child, a murder, the police, arrest and everything you have dreamed of for your child, young adult, now gone. Imagine waking up and the day has been resent, you know what is coming, what do you do to change things?

Thing Groundhog day with Bill Murray but sinister, welcome to Jen's world. Not only do you try to comprehend what is happening but when you go to sleep you reset and not to the day before, you go back another day, then another. How can Jen figure out what is happening, the relevance and most importantly, why and what can she do to save her family.

So there are so many things I quite like about this. A crime has happened, a murder no less but it isn't just about that, that is the event that kicks everything off. Jen ends up going back in time and each time she finds out more and more about her loved ones that she couldn't have forseen. Imagine reliving your time over, you can ignore your work or normal responsibilities because everything scrubs when the day is over. She never knows where she will wake, what she is meant to do or see. One thing for me was waking up in one of her old houses, things she had forgotten like the bed she slept in. For me, nostalgia and details like that add a truth or realistic vein to a story. You do forget things about your past as years go by, houses that have changed and it would be a big thing to wake up in an older poorer home back before you had X career or child or partner. It isn't a huge thing at all in relation to the storyline but for me it gave great weight to the feel of realism.

I felt for Jen because as she goes further back and relives days and events it is like the rug being pulled out from under her. It is really clever writing, the days going back took me a wee bit to settle to as I thought it would be the same day over and over but it isn't so keeps you interested as different things are revealed/lived through.

Time travel but not overly geeky/sci fi type it just helps to assist the story & we meet other characters, not just Jen although she is the main. There is always something happening and you can't help but think what would I do, who would I reach out to, would you be tempted to do XYZ. I think this is my first by McAllister but I have others on my tbrm. A crime/investigation style with a difference, certainly unique which isn't easy with the plethora of books in the crime genre, 4/5 for me this time.

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Monday 16 May 2022

The Rule by David Jackson

The RuleThe Rule by David Jackson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 336

Publisher -

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads


Daniel is looking forward to his birthday. He wants pie and chips, a big chocolate cake, and a comic book starring his favourite superhero. And as long as he follows The Rule, nothing bad will happen.

Daniel will be twenty-three next week. And he has no idea that he's about to kill a stranger.

Daniel's parents know that their beloved and vulnerable son will be taken away. They know that Daniel didn't mean to hurt anyone, he just doesn't know his own strength. They dispose of the body. Isn't that what any loving parent would do? But as forces on both sides of the law begin to close in on them, they realise they have no option but to finish what they started. Even if it means that others will have to die...

Because they'll do anything to protect Daniel. Even murder.

My Review

Daniel is a gentle giant, early twenties and a big guy, a child in a mans body who has no idea of his own strength. As a result his mum and dad have made The Rule, Daniel must never break it because people get hurt when he does. When Daniel accidentally kills a man his parents do what any good parent does, they remove all traces of the crime but can you ever truly remove all traces of a crime?

Aw bless Daniel, he is just a sweet vulnerable adult who is sadly a target and his parents will always try and protect him, who wouldn't. They live in a not too good part of town and sadly with Daniel's vulnerability and size he is a beacon for trouble, that is his innocent inability to be anything other than truthful.

The book splits between the officer investigating and trying to get over her own personal tragedy but also a target, from those on the other side of the law and a potential scapegoat in her workplace.

The opening chapter is a belter and I think will stay with me for a while. The book, whilst being a crime/investigation/coping with the aftermath type it also looks at the personal side and after affects of the characters traumas, a huge central theme. Daniel from the murder and how it affects his parents, Hannah the officer who has trauma from a work event, a personal loss and so much emotion from it all.

Daniel is a wee soul, he has learning difficulties, he is vulnerable and such a sweet gentle giant I think how Jackson brought everything to play, the interactions of the characters and I don't think bonds is the right word but how they impacted upon each other. One incident can have life altering reach and this is the case for pretty much every character in the book. The characters personal journey(s) - all very different - and how they develop, evolve and cope with things thrust upon them that you really struggle to imagine. I will never look at a toilet brush quite the same way again that is for sure, boak.

I was hooked and wanted to see where it would play out. I think his books are standalones but I would quite like to see more from Hannah, she is quite a layered character. 4/5 for me - it has action, murder, shady dodgy folk, actions and consequences and prompts the old what would you do if it was you or yours, one incident changing your life as you know it. I have another of Jackson's on my tbrm so looking forward to that.

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Saturday 14 May 2022

A Ration Book Victory by Jean Fullerton

Today is my turn on the blog tour for "A Ration Book victory" by author Jean Fullerton. The blog tour arranged by Rachels Random Resources and for my stop I have my review, non spoiler as always.

Out to buy now, click HERE for Amazon UK.

A Ration Book Victory (Ration Book series 8)A Ration Book Victory by Jean Fullerton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 358

Publisher - Corvus books

Source - Review copy

Blurb from the back cover

In the final days of war, only love will pull her through...
Queenie Brogan wasn't always an East End matriarch. Many years ago, before she married Fergus, she was Philomena Dooley, a daughter of Irish Travellers, planning to wed her childhood sweetheart, Patrick Mahone. But when tragedy struck and Patrick's narrow-minded sister, Nora, intervened, the lovers were torn apart.

Fate can be cruel, and when Queenie arrives in Londond she finds that Patrick Mahon is her parish priest, and that the love she had tried to suppress flares again in her heart.

But now in the final months of WW2, Queenie discovers Father Mahon is dying and must face losing him forever. Can she finally tell him the secret she has kept for fifty years or will Nora one again come between them?

And if Queenie does decide to finally tell Patrick, could the truth destroy the Brogan family?

My Review

There is something wonderful about a book that transports you from your own time/place/worries and into the live(s) of others. We open back in 1877 when Queenie (Philomena then) first meet, Ireland, he from a well standing family, her a traveler so classes apart but the two are drawn to each other. We flip to present day where World War 2 is ongoing and Queenie is a gran, widow, Patrick is the local priest and many years and events have passed. War is coming to an end and Queenie is about to have some more heartache.

I have read one of Fullerton's books before but not from this series, this is my first and I think you can absolutely pick this one up as a standalone. That being said I liked it so much I have ordered book one in the series and plan to read the series and catch up.

A ration book victory is more than just a family saga type book, it has duo timelines/location. Queenie is the main character but we have so many others playing their part, Nora, ugh, Patrick's horror sister - I actually can't bring myself to feel sorry for her, despite being an older lady her behaviour and circumstances ugh she and even when younger a busy body! The book takes us through friendship, family, love, loss, relationships, snobbery, classism but also things that give realism to the time period. Rationing, the importance of having your own livestock and how important that can be in terms of food and giving to people in your community.

Queenie is a livewire, as a youngster and as an older adult, she is sharp as a pin, full of heart but also not lying down to anyone, she takes no nonsense! I am so looking forward to reading the earlier books and getting wrapped up in that time period. Some of the things the author captures give authenticity to the time period but also helps the reader imagine living during that time, the horror, the fear, the community spirit, 4.5/5 for me this time!

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Saturday 7 May 2022

Life Death and Biscuits by Anthea Allan

Life, Death and BiscuitsLife, Death and Biscuits by Anthea Allen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 4 days

Pages - 320

Publisher - Harper Eliment

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

‘A heart-breaking story of courage and compassion from the front line of the toughest battle our nurses have had to fight. Anthea Allen’s writing is raw, honest and full of love for those she cares for.’ Susanna Reid

An extraordinarily powerful memoir based on the diaries of intensive care nurse Anthea Allen, who worked on the front line of one of the largest hospitals in Europe during the Covid crisis.

With over 30 years of experience as a nurse, Anthea thought she had seen it all. But with Covid came the greatest trial, personally and professionally, of her life. Thrust into hourly challenges – many a matter of life and death – while on the Critical Care units of St George’s in south London, Anthea processed her shocking experiences through writing. It started with an email to request biscuits. But her appeal to help boost the morale of her fellow nurses soon turned into a series of astonishingly moving stories detailing the realities of being a front line worker.

It wasn’t long before Anthea’s accounts were circulating far and wide, capturing the attention of the nation and being feted by the likes of Richard Branson and Good Morning Britain’s Susanna Reid.

My review

Theses stories aren't for everyone, some people feel it is too close or too soon. I think it is perfect timing because everyone has opinions on everything but not everyone is dealing with the reality of working in healthcare in these uncertain times.

I have read a fair few of these books and whilst it was interesting it wasn't my favourite. The author/nurse started off writing her accounts/experiences as a diary/emailing out to people and keeping them updated on what was going on and also requesting support, kind word, some eateries (cakes/biscuits) and just moral support for what her team where enduring.

I always think it is so interesting to hear from different areas both in hospital departments and actual locations. I was surprised to hear ICU in England cleared and had lulls inbetween the mania. When it hit bad there was help and runners in ICU in the form of a beauty therapist (I think specially a hairdresser, they ran and got all the drugs but advised the author they couldn't administer because they were not a nurse) that was mind blowing. We did see some of the horrific measures healthcare staff faced down in England but it still catches you how dire some of the situations are.

This nurse put a lot of positivity in this and to her team which I think probably kept so many of them going. Unless you are in it you just can't imagine, even reading books like this.

There are some scenes that are graphic and detail what these poor patients endured, high deaths rates and turnovers so just a heads up when going into any of these kind of reads.

A few times I felt it was quite repetitive but then it did start out as a communication and thing for her so understandable. Interesting read none the less and I will continue to read peoples experiences of care giving during the pandemic and just true stories in general of what it is like in different areas, 3/5 for me.

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Friday 6 May 2022

Nobody But Us by Laure Van Rensburg

Nobody But UsNobody But Us by Laure Van Rensburg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 384

Publisher - Michael Joseph Books

Source - Friend

Blurb from Goodreads

In this locked room, high‑concept thriller that's part The Guest List, part The Girl Before, a couple's romantic weekend‑getaway is not what it seems.

When Ellie and her boyfriend Steven take their first trip together, what starts as an idyllic weekend soon takes a darker turn, as it quickly becomes apparent that each of them harbors secrets—and that one of those secrets is deadly.

Ellie is an NYU grad student, timid but fiercely intelligent, and eager for the perfect weekend away with her boyfriend. Steven is a wealthy and privileged teacher at an elite Manhattan school. His and Ellie's relationship has stirred up envy among the teachers in his academic circle.

When they head out for their romantic break, they're both excited to get to know each other better away from prying eyes. But when a snowstorm strands them in the house, they begin to realize that neither of them is quite who they say they are—and that one of them won't escape the weekend alive.

My Review

Ooooh the opening chapter definitely draws you in with intrigue as the police enter a scene of mayhem, blood, broken carnage around the house, what happened? We flip between chapters titled Ellie, Steven and dates were a story starts to emerge. Ellie and Steven are going on holiday to this far out deserted house, just the two of them, romantic time. They become stranded and both of them are not quite what they seem and the readers get to know a bit more about each as the chapters tease out the details. And things turn dark!

Steven is a college teacher and Ellie is his student and girlfriend of six months, Steve is an unlikeable controlling older man. Ellie is the younger girlfriend, innocent, quiet, meek and manipulated by Steven, he likes his girls a certain way, type, behaviour, his ideals, beliefs and very questionable behaviour.

The tag line was "introducing 2022's most f*cked up couple" and they weren't wrong. The pace isn't neck breaking but you are engaged from the prologue and wanting to know what they are hiding. Toxic is one way of putting it and I was intrigued to the dated diary style entries - clearly damaged, devastated and in love but who is the writer?

Some of the details/passages are pretty horrific, if you have ever been in a toxic relationship the book is likely to stir some hard hitting emotions. #Metoo movement has strongly influenced this story and we get a unique view point of a perpetrator, a victim and a survivor but with a unique spin to it.

Creepy, shocking, stomach turning, tense - a psychological thriller that turns in ways the reader won't predict, well I didn't and aghast at what was happening but unable to put it down long because I needed to know where it was going next, 4/5 for me!

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Monday 2 May 2022

Wee additional giveaway

The brighter mornings are coming in, nice to see some daylight for a while before bed time but it is bright through the window early bells! I got one of these from the Vine and love it so much I bought another as a giveaway gift for the brighter mornings.

I don't normally like eyemasks, I find them uncomfortable or heavy. This is Mulberry silk, light and soft, really nice material.

It comes with earplugs too, bendy silicone style as shown.

They give a small piece of material to burn as a test for their type of material, never seen that before with any the others I have bought.

To enter just use the Rafflecopter below. As it is very light I will put this as worldwide, please only use the entry tabs you complete as winning entries are always checked. Good luck if entering.

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