Monday 29 January 2024

The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson

The Ice Cream Girls (Poppy & Serena, #1)The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - as able over 4 days

Pages - 452

Publisher - Sphere

Source - Bought

Blurb from Goodreads

As teenagers Poppy Carlisle and Serena Gorringe were the only witnesses to a tragic event. Amid heated public debate, the two seemingly glamorous teens were dubbed ‘The Ice Cream Girls’ by the press and were dealt with by the courts.

Years later, having led very different lives, Poppy is keen to set the record straight about what really happened, while married mother-of-two Serena wants no one in her present to find out about her past. But some secrets will not stay buried – and if theirs is revealed, everything will become a living hell all over again...

My Review

Meet Poppy and Serena, Serena is married, kids and still dealing with demons of her past. Poppy is just being released from jail for a crime she says she didn't commit and now twenty years being jailed she is determined to get the guilty party to admit to what they did, that being Serena. Both were referred to as The Ice Cream Girls, both suspected in a murder, one went to jail, one went free.

We go back and forth between past and present, Serena and Poppy, teasing out the details of what happened, the before and build up whilst visiting the present and each of the ladies dealing with their now.

There are a fair few dark themes in this book, predatory teacher/teen pupil(s), self harm, death, ptsd, we visit prison life briefly and have quite long scenes with the abusive/pervert teacher. The gaslighting/manipulation of an adult to minors is shocking and it shows how easily he did it and delving into violence as well as the other abuse perpetrated on them . Themes of revenge, stalking, mistrust, lies, family dramas. The book has just about everything. Also whilst reading this people reached out saying it is a tv series/show too so I need to check that out.

Hard to put down, uncomfortable to read at times due to the content and knowing whilst this is fiction sadly these predators are out there ad very skilled in manipulating these children/teens. 4/5 for me, I have read a few Koomson books and plan to read many more, she is becoming a fave with us.

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Wednesday 24 January 2024

Behind Closed Doors by Susan Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 382

Publisher - Arrow

Source - Bought

Blurb from Amazon

Don't miss this powerful and suspenseful novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of One Minute Later.

When fourteen-year-old Sophie Monroe suddenly vanishes one night, it looks at first as though she’s run away from home.

Her computer and mobile phone have gone, and she’s taken a bag full of clothes.

As the police investigation unfolds a wealth of secrets from the surrounding community start coming to light. And it seems everyone has something to hide.

For Detective Sergeant Andrea Lawrence, the case is a painful reminder of the tragedy that tore her family apart over twenty years ago. She is convinced there is more to Sophie’s disappearance than teenage rebellion.

But is the past clouding her judgement, preventing her from seeing a truth that neither she, nor Sophie’s family, would ever want to face?

My Review

Sophie is fourteen, living in a caravan style holiday place, seeking attention from boys/men to make up for the lack of attention at home. After a huge row with her stepmom Sophie goes missing, initially felt to be one of her stunts but as time goes on it seems it may not just be a teen acting out, is Sophie in danger? D S Andrea Lawrence is on the case and maybe a little clouded due to having her own sister go missing years ago. Can she remain impartial to get to the bottom of it and find Sophie?

Set in a smallish town, holiday homes/caravans style setting where lots of people have many secrets as the case becomes serious and the cops start digging it seems everyone has something to hide. Focusing on some shady characters, offences relating to under age girls, cover ups, lies, secrets, families, family pressure. It is a melting pot of gossip, scandal and shocking people who seem more interested in their own issues than a young girl going missing.

I think Lewis does well to weave a web of characters, often shady or at least make you question them. Page turner, riveting especially from a nosey stance because you want to know what is going on, what they are hiding and most importantly where is Sophie and can we get her back safetly, 4/5.

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Saturday 20 January 2024

A Court Of Wings And Ruin by Sarah J Maas

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 5 days

Pages - 703

Publisher - Bloomsbury

Source - Bought

Blurb from Goodreads

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin's actions and learn what she can about the invading king threatening to bring her land to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit. One slip could bring doom not only for Feyre, but for everything-and everyone-she holds dear.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre endeavors to take her place amongst the High Fae of the land, balancing her struggle to master her powers-both magical and political-and her love for her court and family. Amidst these struggles, Feyre and Rhysand must decide whom to trust amongst the cunning and lethal High Lords, and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the fate of Feyre's world is at stake as armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy it.

My Review

I wouldn't leave it so long to read the books, I read book two in October and it took me a bit to settle back into this one. There are so many characters/courts/beings (species)/famiies it took me a while to remember who was who and get back into it. I LOVE the books all (so far that I have read) come with a map but I think it would be beneficial to have like a character tree or list, I know these have been out a bit but even a website link we could go to for those of us who are a bit "who was that" "what court are they" and who is freiendly/enemies/frenemies etc.

Anyway back to the story, so Feyre is back at Tamlin's to gather info and do what she can to undermine the effort of the war that is coming. Humans are at risk, Fae and those deemed lesser or even just on the "wrong side" are in danger of slaughter and all the horrors that come with war let alone those with magic and don't mind fighting dirty.

Once I settled back into the stories and characters I really liked it and started remembering stuff from the previous book(s). I had hated Nesta and for a portion of this book wasn't overly switching but I am warming as bit to her.

The book is brutal in parts, there is a war coming with some real bad shady people and Tamlin :O at one point I could have punched him in the face. The things he was saying and in a crowded room, absolutely furious. Like I get he is all kinds of hurt but dude, ooft, brutal!

Prepare for a bit of a rollercoaster espesh if you have certain faves because it is a bumpy road, emotive/shocking at times, 4/5 for me this time. I have the next in the series (it is a lot thinner than this chunky monkey) and won't be leaving it as long. If you are unaware this is a series I would go back and read the previous books, you get a better feel for the characters and fyi there are some spicy scenes!

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Thursday 18 January 2024

Unbelievable Crimes Volume One: Macabre Yet Unknown True Crime Stories by Daniela Airlie

Unbelievable Crimes Volume One: Macabre Yet Unknown True Crime StoriesUnbelievable Crimes Volume One: Macabre Yet Unknown True Crime Stories by Daniela Airlie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - < 1 day

Pages - 104

Publishers -

Source - Insta rak

Blurb from Goodreads

Step into some of the most heinous (yet relatively unknown) crimes ever committed and delve into twelve twisted tales of murder in Unbelievable Crimes.

From the deplorable abduction and imprisonment of young women by James Jamelske, who kept his victims in his basement, to the tale of charismatic charmer Charles Schmid who boasted about his savage murders, each story in this anthology dives into pure evil.

In one case, I’ll take you back to 1993, to the city of Houston, where two teenage girls, Jennifer Ertman, and Elizabeth Peña, were brutally raped and murdered. This crime can only be described as barbaric and senseless, especially when you factor in the young ages of the killers.

I’ll delve into the bizarre and twisted story of Carl Tanzler, a man who becomes fixated on a beautiful young woman. After her untimely death, he kept her as a mummified corpse in his home for years, with a genuinely inexplicable outcome.

You’ll also be introduced to the gruesome story of Omaima Nelson, an Egyptian-American woman who killed her husband before cooking and eating parts of his body.

While most people know about the incomprehensible acts of Ted Bundy or the wicked crimes of the “killer clown” John Wayne Gacy, there’s an underbelly of true crime that has been left untouched over the years. These crimes had a fleeting news story or a 30-second snippet on a local news station and have since been long forgotten. I believe we should remember these crimes to ensure the victims - and their ordeals - don’t get wiped from true crime history.

Discover the dark side of humanity as I delve into some of the most shocking and twisted little-known true crime stories in Unbelievable Crimes Volume One. To most, the senseless acts of violence and pure evil depicted in these cases are simply unimaginable. But, they’re all somebody’s reality.

Please note, as with all true crime content, this book contains details that cover real-life murders and violence.

My review

So whilst these as put as "yet unknown "true crime stories I would say lesser known, not the same ring to it I know. I know a few of them recently from true crime on Tiktok but they are lesser known for sure.

If you like stories that don't go around the houses before getting to the story then these will be right up your street. They are each only below or just over ten pages each.

Not for the faint hearted, some of these are truly horrific/evil/unnerving, the depravity and depths some of these killers go to, usually for their own personal sick kicks.

Some of the stories go beyond just taking someone's lives and the suffering and deviancy of some of these perps is jaw dropping. I have read and watched a ton of true crime and you don't think people can get worse but sure enough there is always another, 4/5 from us.

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Tuesday 16 January 2024

Alex Cross Must Die by James Patterson

Alex Cross Must Die (Alex Cross #32)Alex Cross Must Die by James Patterson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 416

Publisher - Randomhouse UK

Source - Netgalley

Blurb from Goodreads

Detectives Cross and Sampson are tracking a serial killer who's fatally ambushing young men in the “Dead Hours” murders. They don't hear the machine gun fire. At first.

“Drop whatever you're doing, Dr. Cross, and head to Reagan Airport,” DC Metro Police dispatch says. “A plane just crashed and exploded on the runway. The chief and the FBI want you and John Sampson there pronto.”

The weapon that took down the plane is a remote-controlled Vietnam-War-era machine gun. The list of those who possess the training and expertise to operate the stolen, .50-caliber weapon is short. And time runs even shorter.

As Cross and Sampson race to prevent another mass murder, their fearsomely armed opponent once again looks skyward.

My Review

It has been a few years since I picked up a James Patterson and more so since I read an Alex Cross. I LOVE the Alex Cross series and going on the title I thought this would be a cat and mouse with Cross and a baddy/taunting him. Maybe that is why I liked but didn't love this one.

There are a fair few storylines, we have a terrorist attack on a commercial plane, a missing friend in the process of making a multimillion business launch, one of Alex's kids friends has gone missing, a killer targeting runners and if that isn't enough a teacher loved and trusted by all may not be all he seems to be.

I love a busy book and there is no denying there is plenty to keep you hooked by I think maybe there was so much we spread just a little thinly. I felt like we hardly seen a whole lot of Alex Cross because there were so many characters to visit/see/chase/action.

Page turner yeah, short chapters - we love but I think had we maybe had a wee bit less we may have had more if that makes sense. I liked it I just didn't love it so therefore 3.5/5 for us, terrorism, murder, families, dark web the book has loads to keep you occupied.

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Wednesday 10 January 2024

Deception by Lesley Pearse

DeceptionDeception by Lesley Pearse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages -

Publisher - Penguin

Source - Bought

Blurb from Goodreads

What happens when the person closest to you has led a life of deception?

After the funeral of her mother, Sally, Alice Kent is approached by a man named Angus Tweedy. He claims to be her father and tells her that he served time in prison for marrying Sally bigamously.

What does he hope to gain by telling her this now, thirty years on?
How can her adored dad Ralph not be her true father?
And why did her mother betray her so badly?

She had accepted Sally's many faults, and her reluctance to ever speak of the past. But faced with this staggering deception, Alice knows she must uncover the whole truth about her mother.

Whatever the cost.

As Alice journeys into the past she discovers her mother may never have been the woman she claimed to be . . .

My Review

When Sallys mum died getting to the funeral is the priority, being a little bit late she clocks a car tailing her and thinks nothing of it. Once the funeral is passed she meets a man who tells her something that will turn her whole world upside down. Did Sally ever really know her mother? Now she is determined to do some digging and get answers about her mother, who she really was and her past.

The book flips between present day and back to Sally's mums youth and the years leading up to meeting Sally's dad. Back and forth we learn the impact of secrets of Sally's mum, what made her the way she was and of course the ripple effects it has on Sally.

As we delve into the past we deal with some pretty horrific encounters, abuse, manipulation, pregnancy (and things surrounding it of that time period), adoption, death/loss. You know what Pearse's books bring especially those set in the time period, women being abused, unwanted pregnancy etc. Emotive at times as is the author's signature, 4/5 from us.

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Monday 8 January 2024

The Dirty Dozen by Lynda La Plante

Carrying on the #TeamTennison tour, we have my review for book five of the series "The Dirty Dozen" enjoy.

The Dirty Dozen (Tennison, #5)The Dirty Dozen by Lynda La Plante
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - in and out as able over a week

Pages - 490

Publisher - Zaffre

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

April 1980 and Jane is the first female detective to be posted to the Met’s renowned Flying Squad, commonly known as the ‘Sweeney’. Based at Rigg Approach in East London, they investigate armed robberies on banks, cash in transit and other business premises.

Jane thinks her transfer is on merit and is surprised to discover she is actually part of a short-term internal experiment, intended to have a calming influence on a team that likes to dub themselves as the ‘Dirty Dozen’.

The men on the squad don’t think a woman is up to the dangers they face when dealing with some of London’s most ruthless armed criminals, who think the only ‘good cop’ is a dead cop. Determined to prove she’s as good as the men, Jane discovers from a reliable witness that a gang is going to carry out a massive robbery involving millions of pounds.

But she doesn’t know who they are, or where and when they will strike...

My Review

Book five in the Tennison series, Jane is doing well and now made it onto the Mets Flying Squad, the first female to do so. It is the 1980s so be ready for sexist, racist, chauvinistic, offensive language from the police and the bad guys. A gang are committing robberies, scoring big and the team are investigating. Jane is quite confident in her abilities and why she got onto the team, through her hard work, merit and record. She finds herself met with hostility both with some of her new team mates and the only other female in the office (not an officer).

The thing I like about Jane is she is almost always counted out and she brings it although admittedly she does have a few lapses in judgement at times. The other thing I really like is when they palm her off with nonsense or what they think is insubstantial she treats every job with the same level of efficiency - usually to her advantage.

As well as the investigation we get a bit as usual from Jane's private life, her family this time, a bit of office shenanigans, a rough estate and some shady characters/behaviours. Threats, violence, murder and all the things we have come to know/love and expect in the Tennison series, page turner, shocking turns of events and enough variety to keep it fresh even though we are five books into the series, here is to number six, 4.5/5.

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Sunday 7 January 2024

Let Go Of What You Know by Amelia Hendrey

Let Go of What You KnowLet Go of What You Know by Amelia Hendrey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Pages - 262

Publisher - Wrate's Publishing

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Following the publication of her acclaimed memoir What Nobody Knew back in 2017, Amelia Hendrey’s readers all wanted to know when her next book would be out.

Now the wait is finally over. While in her first book, Amelia bravely described her early years and surviving her brutal parents, in Part I of Letting Go of What You Know, she explains what happened next, humourously recounting her honeymoon in the Canaries, entering the workplace, caring for several quirky cats and becoming a first-time mum. In sharing the good times, Amelia proves how healing, growth and letting go are possible even after the worst start in life.

In Part II, Amelia reveals the meticulous diary she kept as the Covid-19 pandemic brought fear and uncertainty into her world once again. Chronicling moments from her day-to-day life that everyone will relate to, her strength in the face of adversity shines through once again.

My Review

This is the follow up book from "What Nobody Knew" a harrowing account of what Amelia endured/survived as a child. Whilst this book does reference a little about her past it is primarily the focus on the journey/recovery as an adult.

The book itself is split into two really, the first is all about Amelia, recovering, how she recovered and found her way through adulthood, work, friends and her family. The second half is diary entries covering the Covid 18 pandemic. What she was doing as the news broke out, updates, statistics, news and what her and her family did during these dates, sometimes just purely entries on the pandemic.

I preferred the first part as I feel the book read like two different books, the first Amelia's life and whilst the second did have snippets of what they did on X date it is hugely focused on the pandemic. I did like reading parts of it and its insane how much you forget you got through. And whilst it is interesting it took me away from her story. I would have liked to see them as separate books, one keeping to her life/experiences and the other her views on or just her diary itself with the pandemic.

I found it really interesting how she tried to get her book out there and she covers her publishing journey and the steps she took, I think sometimes you forget just how hard it can be for someone getting their book out there when they don't have a big publisher behind them.

Easy enough to read although it does have glimpses of distressing content (nothing like the first book which was raw, shocking and central focused on what she survived) she writes with an easy enough flow.

It is nothing short of miraculous that Hendrey has came out the other side and with such positivity after what survived. If you haven't read the first book you absolutely should and for this one, especially the Covid stats it is shocking how many deaths/numbers and how things panned out. 3.5/5 from us, we have read Hendrey before and would read her again.

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Friday 5 January 2024

The Prison Doctor: The Final Sentence by Doctor Amanda Brown

The Prison Doctor: The Final SentenceThe Prison Doctor: The Final Sentence by Amanda Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 222

Publisher - HQ Stories

Source - bought

Blurb from Goodreads

Revisit the wold of The Prison Doctor, as she describes stories of her time spent with foreign national prisoners.

In true Prison Doctor style Dr Amanda Brown tells heartbreaking stories with warmth and compassion of her time spent working with prisoners whose fate of deportation hangs in the balance.

Including moving and memorable stories, such as a Nigerian man who’s dying of cancer and wants to do so with his family around him rather than be deported back to his country where he will die alone, and a Ghanian who is terrified to return home as he knows certain death awaits him there because he’s gay, Dr Amanda describes how in the end she can only do what she does best. And that’s take care of her patients while they’re in prison.

My Review

I have read the previous two books in this trilogy and followed doctor Brown's storyline of her career working from within a GP and onto prison settings. The stories follow what she has seen, dealt with and the horrific things prisons have seen/done to themselves and had done to them. This book is different, now she is working with prisoners who are up for potentially being deported.

I had expected much of the same as the previous two books but this one has a bit of a hollower feeling - I think that is the word I am looking for. Normally we get lots of different people, cases, emergencies, conditions. I think there are a handful people's stories and some were really sad but I expected more. I just felt like this book hadn't gave me as much both in terms of people featured and their stories.

The writing is fine as it was, I would absolutely read more by her and I am always interested in any kind of healthcare stories. I think in prison and prison stories (true stories) it gives people a chance to see just how tough it can be in terms of management of conditions, mental health, access to care but I didn't really get that from this one. Sure if featured some bit it was flashes.

We also hear a bit more of her career and it was nice to see her reunited with previous colleagues and changes in a place she had previously worked (reshaped for completely different type of individuals).

So whilst I found it interested I felt it had a lot less offered than previous books, 3/5 for me this time.

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Tuesday 2 January 2024

January Giveaway is now live

For our first competition of January we will have a wee x1 £5 Amazon voucher.

As the voucher comes directly from Amazon it is open to UK ONLY. Don't worry we have competitions throughout the year,some more than one per month and they are mixed, UK only or open worldwide. Every competition has their own specification/location and almost all are via the Rafflecopter, if they are on our FB side page or Instagram/Tiktok/Twitter they will advise on the post what you need to do. To enter this comp please use the Raffflecopter below, only mark entries you have completed as winning entries are checked.

Good luck and feel free to share. Did you know you can follow our page/reviews/competitions/news there is a sign up on the main page, you never need to miss out again.

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A Wife's Courage by Kitty Neale

A Wife's CourageA Wife's Courage by Kitty Neale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 404

Publisher - Orion books

Source - Bought

Blurb from Goodreads

Can she choose between her husband and her family? London, 1944. With bombs raining over London, keeping the Battersea Tavern open is no easy feat for owner Winnie Berry - but the community need the warmth and familiarity of the pub more than ever. After marriage, Maureen Fanning had moved out to Wandsworth with her bad-tempered husband Brancher. But when he loses both his job and their lodgings, the only people who will take them in are her kindly grandparents, Len and Renee. Getting a cleaning job at the Battersea Tavern is the least she can do to pay them back. It would all be fine... if it weren't for Brancher. Winnie is determined to take timid Maureen under her wing. But when tragedy strikes, it will be up to Maureen to find the strength she didn't know she possessed...Praise for A WIFE'S COURAGE'A fantastic emotional book to the end' 'What a lovely read once again from Kitty Neale.'

My Review

This is listed on FantasticFiction as a standalone however there are characters in this from previous books so I think I will need to go back and buy the others. To be fair I do have a few of hers on my tbrm and read a few anyway. Set in 1940s, world war two is under way and bombs are dropping quite often without warning. Winnie and her pub are still there, offering support where needed within their small community. Maureen I don't remember from the books I have read but she is married to Brancher, ugh he is an utter scumbag. We know early on he is a bully to Maureen, eroding her self confidence and even sense of self but you have no idea just how bad he is.

In this one we see some familiar faces, some new ones and how the community is coping with their own issues/families/dramas and the ever present threat of death from the bombs. It has been a while since I sank a book in a day and Neale takes you to a place where you can just log out of reality and lose yourself in the community that is Battersea.

The book has friendship, love, loss, abuse (emotional/violent/threats of violence), death, racism, attitudes and values of the times. Maureen's character really got under my skin, I think when you have lived with or loved someone who has been in a coercive relationship and seen just how badly they can be made to be and worthless to feel, it is enraging.

This is the latest release from Neale and I look forward to her next, I have many from her back catalogue I haven't read so will be getting them. This was a bargain buy and I got another copy for the BDWB's for my workies as I knew it would be a good one, 4.5/5 for me.

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