Monday 28 August 2023

Tennison - Prime Suspect 1973 by Lynda La Plante

Celebrating #TeamTennison all of the Tennison books in prep for the tenth which is yet to be published. Over the next ten months we will be reading/reviewing all the Jane Tennison books (I also aim to watch the tv show). Thanks to Tracy from Compulsive Readers for getting me on board for the tours.

Tennison: Prime Suspect 1973Tennison: Prime Suspect 1973 by Lynda La Plante
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - in and out over 7 days

Pages - 624

Publisher - Simon and Schuster

Source - Bought

Blurb from Goodreads

In 1973 Jane Tennison, aged 22, leaves the Metropolitan Police Training Academy to be placed on probationary exercise in Hackney where criminality thrives. We witness her struggle to cope in a male-dominated, chauvinistic environment, learning fast to deal with shocking situations with no help or sympathy from her superiors. Then comes her involvement in her first murder case.

My Review

Book one of the series and whilst I have read La Plante before this is my first of this series. Jane Tennison is a rookie and in her probationary period in Hackney, it is the early 1970s so it is a very heavily male environment. There is sexism, racism, chauvinistic, jealousy, hierarchy, prostitution, murder, drugs and homophobic tones in interactions. I think it brings the reality of the times in that profession/time and it is set in a high crime area.

There is a lot going on, we get the dynamics of the officers, the way the police works, how women were viewed and the metal of Jane's character. Starting a new job in that type of environment, that time period women where expected to be more about settling down. Even Jane's family expect the job to be backseat to what they deem high importance ie rehearsal dinners or family dinners, inviting people around.

There are a lot of shady characters within the book and like or loathe them they do make for compelling reading. I would have gotten through this quicker if not for work/life, it is a chunky book, over 600 pages and I am looking forward to reading the rest in the series. I have book two ready and waiting and looking forward to seeing what Jane and co are facing next, 4/5.

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Friday 25 August 2023

Love heart bookmark x1 competition

So this competition is open worldwide. The winner picks x1 love heart page corner, as pictured, from those shown (you pick your prefered colour). I did try to get another packet like the last lot (with a black heart as it was very popular) however it is just pot luck what colours you get.

The colours are as shown, please specify the one you would choose if you win. Colours are deep brown, light pink, tan brown, deep blue, moss green & yellowish tan.

If you haven't used one of these before you get a few pages and slide on onto the edge of them, the love heart pops out at the side.

The listing says leather so just an FYI. To enter just complete the entries you want to via Rafflecopter. This one is open worldwide, GOOD LUCK if entering.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wee giveaway x1 £5 Amazon Voucher

Sorry we have been so behind on competitions, we have had a lot on. I aim to get another one up soon too but at least this one is now live.

UK ONLY guys sorry, as it is for x1 £5 Amazon voucher, Amazon only allows me to gift within the UK. I will get another competition listed that is worldwide but for now, this is UK only.

Please note the prize is an evoucher that will be emaiiled to you, the picture above is just for visual.

To enter, please fill the options in the Rafflecopter you wish to take part in/complete. Please use the Rafflecopter to provide the email address where to send the voucher if you are the winner. Once the winner is drawn - if you have provided the email address it will be sent automatically. If you have not we will contact you via whatever option you have left on the Rafflecopter. If the prize if not claimed within 48 hours (we sometimes try give folk a bit longer but generally we say 48 hours) then a different winner will be generated. That is it, good luck everyone entering.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One Moment by Becky Hunter

One MomentOne Moment by Becky Hunter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 306

Publisher - Corvus

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

An emotional, heart-wrenching and uplifting story about friendship, love and sacrifice, perfect for fans of David Nicholls and Holly Miller.

One moment in time can change everything...

The day Scarlett dies should have been one of the most important of her life. It doesn't feel fair that she'll never have the chance to fulfil her dreams. And now, she's still ... here - wherever here is - watching the ripple effect of her death on the lives of those she loved the most.

Evie cannot contemplate her life without Scarlett, and she certainly cannot forgive Nate, the man she blames for her best friend's death. But Nate keeps popping up when she least expects him to, catapulting Evie's life in directions she'd never let herself imagine possible. Ways, perhaps, even those closest to her had long since given up on.

If you could go back, knowing everything that happens after, everything that happens because of that one moment in time, would you change the course of history or would you do it all again?

My Review

So as always no spoilers and the death is mentioned in the blurb and happens opening chapters so no spoilers guys don't worry. Evie and Scarlett are besties, they are polar opposites and we know early on Evie has some struggles but we don't know exactly what. The morning it happens the girls are awkward with each other but Scarlett has to rush off and they will make it up with she gets home. Sadly Scarlett won't get home, an accident will see her ripped out of Evie's life and Nate will be brought in. Evie can't bear to look at him and yet he has answers and Nate want's to help so fate has flung them together. Evie needs to navigate through her health issues/personal problems and Nate wants to be there for her. Between the two of them and Scarlett's ghost hanging around overseeing all we follow them from before the accident, to the accident and the ripples and aftermath of what follows.

Yeah we have a ghost in the book, taking us back in the past to her and Evie, following around from the accident and thereafter. Evie's personal journey through loss, grief, anger pretty much all the stages of grief but with the addition of the ghost of her pal (no one can see nor hear her it is just us readers who know of her presence and how she processes her sudden death).

The book is a bit bittersweet, Scarlett is such a force of life and Evie is so recluse, has issues and that is before the sudden devastating loss of her bestie. It is a journey of personal growth, acceptance and all the things we see and feel after such a huge and unexpected loss. The book gives sadness, loss, hurt, hope, joy even humour in some parts, it is a bit of a rollercoaster. I think depending on your own experiences and where you are at in life will see how you gel with the book. 3.5/5 from us this time, this is my first time reading this author and would read her again for sure.

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Wednesday 23 August 2023

We Can Be Heroes by Paul Burston

We Can Be Heroes: A Survivor's StoryWe Can Be Heroes: A Survivor's Story by Paul Burston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - as able over 4 days

Pages - 319

Publisher - Little a

Source - Bought

Blurb from Goodreads

Activist. Journalist. Survivor. One man’s journey from prejudice to Pride. Paul Burston wasn’t always the iconic voice of LGBTQ+ London that he is today. Paul came out in the mid-1980s, when ‘gay’ still felt like a dirty word, especially in the small Welsh town where he grew up. He moved to London hoping for a happier life, only to watch in horror as his new-found community was decimated by AIDS. But even in the depths of his grief, Paul vowed never to stop fighting back on behalf of his young friends whose lives were cut tragically short. It’s a promise he’s kept to this day. As an activist he stormed the House of Commons during the debate over the age of consent. As a journalist he spoke up for the rights of the community at a time of tabloid homophobia and legal inequality. As a novelist he founded the groundbreaking Polari Prize. But his lifestyle hid a dark secret, and Paul’s demons—shame, trauma, grief—stalked him on every corner. In an attempt to silence them, he began to self-medicate. From almost drowning at eighteen to a near-fatal overdose at thirty-eight, this is Paul’s story of what happened in the twenty years between, and how he carved out a life that his teenage self could scarcely have imagined. Emotional but often witty, We Can Be Heroes is an illuminating memoir of the eighties, nineties and noughties from a gay man who only just survived them.

My Review

I never used to read non fiction and now I find myself reading more and more. Paul Burston writes non fiction too (check out his other books, he has actually a fair few under his belt) so when this popped up (absolute bargain price for the treebook too) I had to get a copy (3 actually, one for me, my brother and BDWB for my workies). Paul takes us through his life experiences - how he dealt with being gay at a time when there was so much hate/stigma (lets face it even now in places we are still having to deal with this homophobic/prejudice) to becoming a fierce activist and out and proud.

Paul gives us a very real/stark/warts and all look at his life from being a youngster to the struggles he faced/addiction/relationships and one of the most important ones, his relationship with himself. He has been through some very dark times on his own personal journey and within the gay community. He has become a voice for the voiceless and done some amazing and tireless work but it has been a harsh road to get to where he is now.

We follow him through the years, the issues faced by gay people just for trying to be their true selves, love, proud and seen. The book isn't just a memoir, a survivors story it is also an education of what many of his community experienced and he himself between relationships, family, friends, the dating scene, work life. It is a busy book, Paul has achieved much and is still going strong, emotive at points the book shows Burston's absolute strength of character for all he has survived, achieved and helped to shape him as the individual he is today, 4.5/5.

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Wednesday 16 August 2023

The Last Passenger by Will Dean

The Last PassengerThe Last Passenger by Will Dean
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 482

Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton

Source - Netgalley

Blurb from Goodreads

When Caz steps onboard the exclusive cruise liner RMS Atlantica, it’s the start of a vacation of a lifetime with her new love, Pete. On their first night they explore the ship, eat, dance, make friends, but when Caz wakes the next morning, Pete is missing.

And when she walks out into the corridor, all the cabin doors are open. To her horror, she soon realizes that the ship is completely empty. No passengers, no crew, nobody but her. The Atlantica is steaming into the mid-Atlantic and Caz is the only person on board. But that’s just the beginning of the terrifying journey she finds herself trapped on in this white-knuckled mystery.

My Review

Caz and her new boa Pete are going away for a bit of luxury, booked onto the cruise liner The Atlantica. Caz feels a bit guilty leaving behind her job, family/mums care even for just a few days but her and Pete are getting to know each other and she deserves a wee bit of time away. However after the first night of fabulousness and being spoiled she goes to sleep and awakes to find the ship completely abandoned. No guests, no staff and no clue as to what happened. The ship is in the mid-Atlantic ocean, surrounded by water/elements and silence. How will Caz survive and can she find out what happened to the rest of her crewmates/staff and Pete?

I LOVED the start of this book and how we are teased into the dramas/shocks and surprises. I mean you immediately think well you are just needing to sit it out and wait for help, you have electricity, food and luxury at your disposal and yet as the layers of the story are revealed we find just how horrific things are and are to become for poor Caz.

For me the book is a mixed bag, what I liked I really liked and what I disliked I really disliked. It is hard to go into it without risking spoilers which we never do. The book bounces between current day on the ship and the survival that is endured and going back into Caz's past and her reflections on her father and the huge impact his betrayal/choices have had on her.

Tense, atmospheric, shocking the book certainly has you turning the pages wanting to see what is coming next. The characters I didn't like for the most past, in fact the majority I wasn't a fan of but unlikeable characters can make for a great book. 3/5 for me this time, I love a story of abandoned places/spooky/weird and this book has a bit of all of that with some curve balls along the way.

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Friday 11 August 2023

Hidden Scars by Angela Marsons

Hidden Scars (DI Kim Stone, #17)Hidden Scars by Angela Marsons
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days as able

Pages - 356

Publisher - Bookouture

Source - Netgalley

Blurb from Netgalley

While Jamie’s cold, lifeless body lay in the morgue, Detective Kim Stone stared at the empty board in the incident room and felt her anger boil. Why were there no photos, details, or lines of enquiry?

When a nineteen-year-old boy, Jamie Mills, is found hanging from a tree in a local park, his death is ruled a suicide. Detective Kim Stone’s instincts tell her something isn’t right – but it’s not her investigation and her temporary replacement is too busy waiting for the next big case to be asking the right questions.

Why would a seemingly healthy boy choose to end his life?

Why does his mother show no sign of emotional distress at the loss of her son?

Still mending her broken mind and body from her last harrowing case, Kim is supposed to be easing back into work gently. But then she finds a crucial, overlooked detail: Jamie had a recent injury that would have made it impossible for him to climb the tree. He must have been murdered.

Quickly taking back charge of her team and the case, Kim visits Jamie’s parents and is shocked to hear that they had sent him to a clinic to ‘cure’ him of his sexuality. According to his mother, Jamie was introverted and prone to mood swings. Yet his friend speaks of a vibrant, outgoing boy.

The clues to smashing open this disturbing case lie behind the old Victorian walls of the clinic, run by the Gardner family. They claim that patients come of their own accord and are free to leave at any time. But why are those that attended the clinic so afraid to speak of what happens there? And where did the faded restraint marks identified on Jamie’s wrists come from?

Then the body of a young woman is found dead by suffocation and Kim makes two chilling discoveries. The victim spent time at the clinic too, and her death was also staged to look like a suicide.

Scarred from an ordeal that nearly took her life, is Kim strong enough to stop a terrifying killer from silencing the clinic’s previous patients one by one?

A compulsive page-turner that will have your heart hammering in your chest and leave you absolutely reeling when you discover the explosive final twist. If you’re a fan of Karin Slaughter, Val McDermid, and Robert Dugoni, you’ll love Hidden Scars.

Can be read as a standalone.

My Review

If you haven't read the previous books you should because they are awesome but the precious book is really required as it helps understand DI Kim Stone's transition from what happened previously to where she finds herself now. Everything that transpired before has long lasting ripples and helps the reader grasp everything Stone has dealt with to get to this point. Her team is epic but Stone's replacement is an absolute tool, everything that is wrong with a leader/supervisior. With Stone just coming back and not quite there to take over the lead she can't ignore what makes her her and this suicide doesn't sit well and before we know it there is another "suicide" that calls for a closer look.

Kim Stone is such a great character, she has flaws, she is human but her inner compass pushes her past just about everything to do the right thing for the victims they come across as officers. This book has a trio of main themes, Stone and her recovery, the case(s) of course and the team dynamics and sexuality/LGB.

Some parts of the book are absolutely heart wrenching to read, what people will do to their supposed loved ones if they are gay, the lengths some gay people will go to in order to fit into what societal norms are expected in some areas of the world and the absolute extremes of this. I really struggled with that and whilst it is a fictional book/characters there are absolutely clinics/camps/conversions still active and it is 2023!

Murder most horrid, some really horrific individuals that will make you absolutely enraged and an abundance of things going on with our favourite team! You would think by book 17 things would be beginning to get overdone or boring or even just dropping in quality/ideas, nope. Marsons manages to keep it freh, the readers engaged and create more shady horrors that have us cheering on for our team to catch the baddy, 5/5 for me this time!

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Thursday 10 August 2023

Q&A with Xena Knox

Welcome to our wee Q&A with author Xena Knox.

You can find Xena on Twitter Instagram or Tiktok.

You can find my non spoiler review of Sh!t Bag HERE and it is out to buy from Amazon now.

Now, enjoy our author interview:

Q1. Tell us a bit about yourself, Xena

Just a wee bit - I’m Scottish. I’m straight talking, passionate, fair (I like to champion the underdog) and sometimes a bit scary if you get on the wrong side of me. I don’t just write. I’m good at getting my hands dirty (my nails are awful) digging in the mud growing flowers or mucking around with my horses. I love writing with humour and about gritty reality.

Q2. What made you decide to write your debut

SH!T BAG - my debut YA novel - is an up-close and very personal story about life with ostomies (poo bags in this instance). It’s based on my own life experiences and so the story is a reaction to public negativity or misunderstandings around what it’s like living with an ostomy. I wanted to educate, yes, but in the main, I wanted to change attitudes towards ostomies and people with them (ostomates) by placing the reader in the body of the main character looking outwards. So that they could really feel what it’s like to be judged, degraded, mocked … for something that’s quite literally life or death, or living.
And this includes medical professionals - just because someone technically knows what an ostomy is, works with ostomates or even creates them. This doesn’t mean they have an automatic comprehension or empathy (from a personal and human pov) of what it’s like to live with one day-in-day-out, every waking and sleeping moment.

Q3. The protagonist is 16, why did you choose to write it from the view point of a teenager?

A couple of reasons.
Based on my own interactions, I feel teens don’t have the squeamish preconceptions about ostomies that older parents and grandparents do. So, it felt important to educate and inform (readers) at an early age before misinformation and negativity can creep in.
And, I first became ill at eighteen, so, although I was a little older than Freya, 16 feels an incredibly pivotal age, stepping across the threshold of life from child to adult. It felt ‘right’ to have Freya that age. And I have a tendency to be quite edgy in my language so I really think any younger than 16 and I wouldn’t have been able to have Freya speak in her ‘unique’ voice.

Q4. The book deals with so many important issues, not just ostomies but body image and relationships – was that important for you?

Writing is a funny thing, though. My characters are alive in my head. They’re incredibly complex and nuanced. I know exactly what they ‘would’ and ‘wouldn’t’ do. And so, it can sometimes take until after multiple redrafts before I’m aware of the themes and ‘issues’ (for want of a better term) I’ve addressed or included in my story. They bubble to the surface after placing those ‘real’ characters in certain situations/environments etc.
But to label a couple of those ‘messages’ -
No matter how I repackage them in different characters and stories, I appear to consistently champion respecting other people for being their unique selves. And empowering individuals to define their boundaries and voice them.

Q5. Did you have to do a lot of research for your book and if so, are you are happy to discuss some of it?

Research was minimal and mostly checking for new treatments etc. Like most IBD sufferers (whether you’ve had a bowel resection/ostomy or pouch…) I’m an ‘expert’ on this through sheer crappy luck of having lived it as my life since I was 18, and being educated by surgeons or reading or sharing experiences with others going through similar or worse. I’ve had many, many surgeries, things go wrong, or malfunction, or had to develop my own coping strategies…
You’ve heard it here first – a SH!T BAG exclusive – both Freya’s experiences AND Mel’s, are my lived experiences.

Q6. If readers only take one thing away from reading your book what would you like it to be?

You know yourself and your own body.

Q7. What is next for you?

I’m working on book two. It’s a standalone - so not a sequel to SH!T BAG. It does follow my core values - respecting other people for being their unique selves. And empowering individuals to define their boundaries and voice them.

Q8. Anything else you would like to add?

Ummm, yes!
I have a question for you, Lainy:
Your review of SH!T BAG was bang-on what I was trying, and hoping, to convey. So, I think you get me quite well, so far. What sort of material would you like to see me address in a future novel?

I would keep the same format style, important issues - especially health issues where you are giving the condition(s) a face, a chance for people to humanise and see how careless remarks/behaviours can have such a huge impact. I think it also gives a chance for people to empathise and really relate to something/someone that they maybe otherwise wouldn't. For example the "nickname" and the huge impact/knock on affect it had and things like that, a cheeky remark or "it was just a joke" can really impact someone.

Thanks so much for reading SH!T BAG, championing it and inviting me to this Q&A!
Much love!
Xena Xx

Thursday 3 August 2023

Kill For Me Kill For You by Steve Cavanagh

We were lucky enough to get a wee arc of this book, you KNOW we are big Cavanagh fans here especially the Eddie Flynn series. This is a standalone, new charaters (not Eddie Flynn). And today is publication day, you can buy your copy NOW, here is the link for AMAZON UK

Kill For Me Kill For YouKill For Me Kill For You by Steve Cavanagh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Time Taken to Read - In and out over 3 days (as able)

Pages - 416

Publisher - Headline

Source - Arc

Blurb from Goodreads

The twisting new thriller from the award-winning, top ten bestseller...


One dark evening in New York City, two strangers meet by chance.
Over drinks, Amanda and Wendy realise they have so much in common.

They both feel alone. They both drink alone.
And they both desperately want revenge against the two men who destroyed their families.

Together, they have the perfect plan.
If you kill for me, I'll kill for you...

My Review

Imagine losing the one person you love the most, your life/family torn apart and the person who killed them is walking around free. That is what it is like for Amanda & now she finds herself in trouble with the law as the bad guy is using them to punish her for "stalking him". Amanda finds herself in a group of people who have experienced loss like hers and that is where she meets Wendy, Wendy has also had her child brutally ripped from life and the perp is also walking around free, untouchable. When a few drinks and bonding turns to some serious chat........If you kill for me I will kill for you. It is the perfect plan, neither know the others bad guy, neither is associated with each other (the group is anonymous) so what could go wrong? If you had your whole world ripped from you, your only child - would you not take the steps to avenge them?

Guys, I am always a bit apprehensive reading a new creation of an author I really enjoy because it is a step away from characters I love and if they are really good is this the book that won't be? Needless worry for nothing, you are pulled in quickly, get to know the characters and what drives them and you can't not feel sorry for them. Whilst this is fiction we know from real life how many injustices actually happen, murderers getting a slap on the wrist or a few years or a lesser charge whilst the families get a life sentence so to speak, suffering, loss and no or little justice.

The book looks at how far people will go, what happens when your world is ripped apart by crime/loss/attack/murder. The devastating ripples it has and also the after affects of those left behind. It is shocking, riveting, weaved with parts to pull the rug out from under you - sure even those reader who guess everything will be hard pushed to know what is coming. You read along with the characters as they plot/plan and carry out their much needed revenge and yet the author still manages to surprise, engage and keep you hooked from the start to finish. 5/5 from us, whilst it isn't Eddie Flynn (yes yes we are a tad obsessed but he is pure dead brilliant, who doesn't love a goody guy with a wee bit of shade but heart of gold) but it is new characters, skulduggery and a whole lot of what ifs, how far would you go and how far can a person be pushed/put through! It is great, go get it, it is out today, Happy Pub day to the author.

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Tuesday 1 August 2023

The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman

The Bullet That Missed (Thursday Murder Club, #3)The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - in and out over a week

Pages - 413

Publisher - Viking

Source - Bought

Blurb from Goodreads

One Thursday afternoon in the seniors' center, a decade-old cold case --their favorite kind-- leads the Thursday Murder Club to a local news legend and a murder with no body and no answers. A new foe they call "Viking", wants Elizabeth to kill former KGB chief Viktor, or he will kill her sweet best friend Joyce. Activist marked for death Ron and psychiatrist Ibrahim chase clues for Viking's identity, and investigate mob-queen prisoner from last book.

This third adventure ranges from a prison cell with espresso machine to a luxury penthouse with swimming pool high in the sky.

My Review

Book three in the Thursday murder club series, if you haven't read the other two you can read this as a standalone. The gang have a new mystery to investigate, the disappearance and suspected murder of a news reporter who stumbled upon something big. They interview her colleagues, get themselves into all manners of mischief and like a dog with a bone refuse to drop anything until they get their answers. As well as that we have one of the group being threatened, blackmail and set up to commit a muuuuuuurduuuuuur.

We have the usual antics, humour, nonsense and digging to get their answers, we also see a more serious side as one of the partners of our group has dementia and we see a bit more to that side. We always get embroiled in the case they are checking out but this book also gives us a bit more of the personal side of our much loved characters.

We see some bit characters that may or may not feature in future novels. I think Osman has created a perfect mix here, characters we care about, like, loathe, laugh at and or with and new fresh adventures to keep us intrigued and enjoying, 4/5.

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