Sunday, 21 January 2018

Our House - Louise Candlish


On a bright January morning in the London suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought in Trinity Avenue.

Nothing strange about that. Except it is your house. And you didn’t sell it.


What did I think?

I am quite superstitious, so my eyes widened in horror as I saw the date of Friday 13th January 2017 stated on chapter 1.  If I thought that was bad, I ain't seen nothing yet!  What a corker of a book to introduce me to Louise Candlish.

Nothing good can happen on Friday 13th, and this proves to be the case for Fiona Lawson as she returns home to see a new family moving in to her house.  A house she hasn't even sold, but it would appear that her husband, Bram, has...  As the story unfolds via Fi's podcasts and Bram's word documents, we have a front row seat as Bram not only destroys his marriage but Fiona's whole life.  I actually gasped out loud as he unwittingly dealt his final blow and, covering my mouth in horror, I mentally exclaimed: 'well played, Louise Candlish, well played indeed'.

It's always good to read a story from both sides and Our House feels like watching a car crash in slow motion: with Bram and Fi hurtling towards each other at high speed and not knowing who, if anyone, will survive.  The brilliant Our House puts Louise Candlish firmly on my radar and I'll be checking out her back catalogue at the first opportunity.

Our House is a most definite 5 stars from me and a highly recommended read.  You might think you know how it's going to end, but I can guarantee that you'll be wrong.  I loved the unusual format of the podcast transcripts and the word documents that made it feel authentic and true to life, although I wouldn't wish Fi or Bram's life on my worst enemy.  Make sure you pick up a copy of Our House; it's riveting, so very addictive and jaw-droppingly brilliant.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:




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Saturday, 20 January 2018

BLOG TOUR: Deep Blue Trouble - Steph Broadribb


Single-mother Florida bounty hunter Lori Anderson’s got an ocean of trouble on her hands. Her daughter Dakota is safe, but her cancer is threatening a comeback, and Lori needs JT – Dakota’s daddy and the man who taught Lori everything – alive and kicking. Problem is, he’s behind bars, and heading for death row. 

Desperate to save him, Lori does a deal, taking on off-the-books job from shady FBI agent Alex Monroe. Bring back on-the-run felon, Gibson ‘The Fish’ Fletcher, and JT walks free. Following Fletcher from Florida to California, Lori teams up with local bounty hunter Dez McGregor and his team. But Dez works very differently to Lori, and the tension between them threatens to put the whole job in danger. 

With Monroe pressuring Lori for results, the clock ticking on JT’s life, and nothing about the Fletcher case adding up, Lori’s hitting walls at every turn. 

But this is one job she’s got to get right, or she’ll lose everything… 

Breathlessly paced, and bursting with high-voltage action and edge-of-your-seat jeopardy, Deep Blue Trouble is the unmissable next instalment featuring one of the most memorable and fearless female characters in crime fiction.


What did I think?

I was late to the party when I read the AMAZING Deep Down Dead last month, but this gave me the added benefit of being able to read Deep Blue Trouble right after it.  Deep Blue Trouble picks up right where Deep Down Dead left off, but Steph Broadribb includes a brilliant concise recap to remind us and also to benefit those readers who might crazily pick up Deep Blue Trouble first.

In this instalment, much as she can't bear to be parted from her, Lori makes sure that her daughter, Dakota, is safe from harm by sending her to camp.  Meanwhile, Lori's old mentor and Dakota's father, JT, is in prison but is far from safe from the mob who want revenge: a life for a life.  So when an FBI agent offers Lori the chance to get JT's charges dropped, she doesn't hesitate and sets off on her own to bring back her latest target: the slippery fish, Gibson Fletcher, and a missing valuable chess set.  Reporting to the FBI, Lori gets instructions to work with another bounty hunter, Dez McGregor, but JT taught Lori to never work in a team so I prepared myself for fireworks.

The inclusion of a the missing chess set was a stroke of genius as not only were people looking for the missing pieces but, unbeknown to them, they themselves were actually being moved around an invisible board.  I felt like the whole story was a carefully planned game of chess and I put my money on Lori to play the final move and shout checkmate!

This is another top-notch fast-paced thriller from Steph Broadribb and she is definitely on to a winner with such a strong female lead as Lori Anderson.  I love how Lori religiously sticks to her own set of rules and although she's tough on the outside, she shows lots of affection for her family and friends.  The pacing is so fast that you can't help but hurtle through this book as fast as you possibly can and with tantalising unfinished business leading nicely on to the next instalment, I am on tenterhooks for book 3.  I can see that this is going to be a series I will want to read again and again; I can't recommend it highly enough.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:




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Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Beauty (Tales from the Kingdoms #3) - Sarah Pinborough


BEAUTY is a beautifully illustrated re-telling of the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST story which takes all the elements of the classic fairytale that we love (the handsome prince, the ancient curse, the beautiful girl and, of course, the haunting castle) and puts a modern spin on the characters, their motives and their desires. 

It's fun, contemporary, sexy, and perfect for fans of ONCE UPON A TIME, GRIMM, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN and more.


What did I think?

It took me a while to move on to this final book of the Tales from the Kingdoms, but knowing me this would be down to my Cinderella moment when as a 3 year old child I was crying my eyes out at the end as 'I didn't want it to finish'.   I just have to say it one more time: these books published by Gollancz must be the most beautiful hardback books I have ever seen.  Just look at them:


Although ultimately a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Beauty has a proper mixed bag of fairytales in it.  So whichever was your favourite as a child, and you didn't read about them in Poison and Charm, chances are your favourite fairytale character will appear in Beauty.  

I do love the TV show Once Upon A Time, so I was thrilled to find Rumpelstiltskin (dearie) appearing unexpectedly in Beauty.  I loved how Sarah Pinborough brought a little bit extra to his character but I'll not say any more as it will spoil the story.  This is my definitely my favourite of the three Tales from the Kingdoms, it's an absolutely genius characterisation of 'the beast' - so simple yet so clever.

I love reading adult fairytales - although loosely based on our childhood favourites, they remind us of happier innocent times when anything was possible and our imagination could run wild.  With the addition of 'adult' to 'fairytales', you do get a more risqué version of your favourite childhood classic so any demure readers should be prepared to be shocked and slightly uncomfortable.

Beauty is fabulous escapism fiction that will awaken your inner child and allow your imagination to have free reign while you escape from the real world and visit a faraway kingdom from once upon a time.

My rating:




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Monday, 15 January 2018

Beneath the Surface - Sibel Hodge


Dean Hudson didn’t look evil…so what could drive an ordinary boy to kill?

When the teenage son of Holly Gold’s school friend brutally murders his parents before killing himself, her sleepy home town is rocked by the sudden tragedy.

Appalled, Holly investigates. What could have caused the happy-go-lucky boy she remembers to commit such a heinous crime? When another teen commits suicide, she uncovers a horrifying link between the recent deaths and a dark conspiracy to hide the truth.

But someone doesn’t want Holly asking questions and, as she hunts for evidence to prove her theory, she’s dragged into a nightmare that threatens her life and her sanity. Then tragedy strikes again—and this time it’s closer to home…

What did I think?

I can often be found browsing the 3 for £10 on Amazon, so when I saw a few bloggers reading Beneath the Surface it miraculously found its way into my basket.  Feeling a bit guilty about buying yet more books, I wrapped it up and gave it as a gift to my Mam ensuring that I would get it to read it too - RESULT!  There was method in my madness: my Mam has a medical background, having worked in various parts of the health service for all of her working life, so I knew she would appreciate this book.  She didn't just appreciate it, she LOVED it and plans to pass it on to family and friends.

Holly lost touch with her good friend, Jess, when Holly went to London to pursue her career in journalism.  When Holly finds herself back in her hometown, she thinks she has all the time in the world to reconnect with Jess, but then Jess and her husband are found murdered by their own son, Dean.  Nobody can understand what drove Dean to commit such an act, it seems so out of character for him.  So Holly starts to investigate but she doesn't realise how far this web reaches and that some people will do ANYTHING to stop the truth getting out.

Beneath the Surface is my first Sibel Hodge book but I will definitely be looking at her back catalogue.  I love books with even a grain of truth in them, and knowing a bit about pharmaceutical companies, I'm sure that Beneath the Surface has a whole bushel of truth in it.  We know there is big money in pharmaceuticals, and I'm not for one minute suggesting that companies would go to the extremes in Beneath the Surface, but when the board is pressurised into making profit, when do morals outweigh money?  

Beneath the Surface is a very clever thriller that leaves you with so much food for thought.  How many of us walk out of the doctors' surgery with that magical green slip in our hand?  It promises to make us feel better and we put 100% trust in the doctor who gave it to us, but we need to remember that our slip of green turns into another slip of green with the Queen's head on it once we 'cash it in'.  What many people don't realise is that incentives are offered for doctors to prescribe certain drugs.  What I didn't realise is that doctors could prescribe 'off-label' so that if a drug hasn't been recommended for a particular age group, they can legally prescribe it to this untested age group.

This book isn't necessarily about Prozac but I have heard about the effects of Prozac and find it amazing that a common side effect of anti-depressant drugs is suicidal thoughts.  Surely then, it is the wrong drug to administer to a person already depressed and considering suicide?  Then again, if the doctor gets an all-expenses trip to Barbados for prescribing the drug, why wouldn't they prescribe it to all and sundry?  I remember a few years ago when everyone seemed to come away from the doctors with a prescription for codeine.  Now we see news articles about the addictive nature of codeine and I wonder who should be held accountable.  The doctors for prescribing it or the pharmaceutical reps for 'pushing' it?

I've digressed from the book slightly, but you can see how thought-provoking I found Beneath the Surface to be.  It's a cracking thriller with that little bit extra that makes it a book I will definitely remember and continually recommend.

My rating:




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Sunday, 14 January 2018

BLOG TOUR: The Chalk Man - C.J. Tudor



We all have fears we hide from. But in the end they will find us . . .
The Chalk Man is coming . . .
None of us ever agreed on the exact beginning.
Was it when we started drawing the chalk figures, or when they started to appear on their own?
Was it the terrible accident?
Or when they found the first body?

What did I think?

Book bloggers definitely know a thing or two about books and seeing so much excitement about The Chalk Man, I didn't need to think twice before joining the tour.  Just a quick word about the cover: it looks really simple but there are splodges of chalk dust that beg to be dusted.  So after stroking the cover and feeling rather melancholy at the end of the Christmas holidays, I picked up The Chalk Man on New Year's Day and DIDN'T PUT IT DOWN!  What a way to start the year and C.J. Tudor has now set the bar at which all other novels in 2018 shall be measured.

Using the tried and tested dual timeline, we are drawn into Eddie's world both in 2016 and back in 1986 when he was 12 years old.  I loved the camaraderie between the 5 friends: Eddie Munster, Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo and the only girl in the group, Nicky.  Theirs was a friendship that would have lasted a lifetime, had events not conspired against them.

Just as we're just getting to know the 5 friends and we're introduced to their slightly weird new teacher Mr Halloran, the book explodes with an accident at the fairground.  I felt like the whole scene was painted in slow motion as the words on the page magically transformed into a vivid scene in my mind.  The friends get on with their lives and find a novel way of communicating when Gav receives chalks for his birthday.  Thinking the present is pretty lame at first, they soon find a use for the chalks by leaving secret messages for each other...but then one day the chalks point to a body lying dead in the woods.

Although it's only January, The Chalk Man is set to be THE debut of 2018; I'll be astounded if anything can knock it off this pedestal.  I was completely riveted from start to finish; it's so gripping, compelling and twisty that just when you think it has given up all its secrets there are more gasp out loud moments right around the corner.  An absolutely impeccable debut that very deservedly scoops up all available 5 stars.    

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:




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Friday, 12 January 2018

BLOG TOUR: Faking Friends - Jane Fallon


Best friend, soulmate, confidante . . . backstabber.
Amy thought she knew everything there was to know about her best friend Melissa. Then again, Amy also thought she was on the verge of the wedding of her dreams to her long-distance fiancé.
Until she pays a surprise trip home to London. Jack is out, but it's clear another woman has been making herself at home in their flat.
There's something about her stuff that feels oddly familiar . . . and then it hits Amy. The Other Woman is Melissa.
Amy has lost her home, her fiancé and her best friend in one disastrous weekend - but instead of falling apart, she's determined to get her own back.
Piecing her life back together won't be half as fun as dismantling theirs, after all.

What did I think?

How is this my first Jane Fallon book?  I LOVED Faking Friends so much that I started and finished it within 24 hours.  It is rare that I find a book so riveting outside of the thriller genre but this book hooks you so quickly that you have to read it cover to cover to find out how it all plays out.

Amy is pursuing her dream to become an actress and she has a part in an American soap which sees her parted from her fiancé, Jack, who lives in their flat in London.  Amy gets quite a shock when she comes home for a surprise visit and finds another woman's things where hers should be.  This would be bad enough but the other woman is her best friend, Melissa.  With remarkable powers of restraint, Amy doesn't tell Jack and Melissa that she knows their secret but instead plots her revenge...I nearly dropped the book to clap and pump the air - GO AMY!

There is a reason that such proverbs are still being used today: hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and revenge is a dish best served cold.  Amy personifies those proverbs and kept me glued to the pages as her plans played out to perfection.  I was disappointed that my bullshit radar didn't raise the alarm when a new character was introduced, but I think I was so caught up in the excitement of Amy getting one up on Jack on Melissa.  Needless to say, I was metaphorically kicking myself but full marks to Jane Fallon for lulling me into a false sense of security.

I loved the flashbacks to the past as Amy and Melissa's relationship went under the microscope.  I know such toxic friendships exist and think it's amazing that you can't see what's happening until it's pointed out to you, or it's too late.  Which is why the strapline: keep your friends close and your best friend even closer is BRILLIANT!

Faking Friends is a superb book that had me gripped from start to finish.  I couldn't put the book down until I knew how this game of chess would end.  Your move, Melissa.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:




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Thursday, 11 January 2018

Seven Seconds - Lisa Compton


Neuro-imaging studies show that there is a brief interval during cognitive processing, just before we make a conscious decision, when our subconscious mind takes over. There is no scientific explanation for what happens during these seven seconds. Olivia Osborne knows. And it’s terrifying. 

Olivia Osborne is a forensic psychologist and former FBI agent who is blessed (or cursed, depending on who you ask) with unique gifts. Olivia is able to sense what others cannot--the spiritual presence of those who have "crossed over," as well as the living who are influenced, or in some cases possessed, by evil. The passing of her beloved Gran was the catalyst Olivia needed to leave the FBI behind and return to her native San Antonio, Texas. But a familiar evil has followed on her heels. 

When a series of brutal murders rock her city, Olivia is pulled into the investigation despite her plans to leave that part of her life behind. What if she isn't supposed to run? What if she was always supposed to stand and fight? 

Seven Seconds is the first book in this exciting new paranormal crime procedural.


What did I think?

I was drawn to this book by the paranormal edge to it, you know it's not just any old crime book when the perpetrator is evil itself.  The paranormal element was just a small part of the book, so people who love crime thrillers and dislike fantasy will still enjoy Seven Seconds.

The character of Dr Olivia Osborne is very well thought out.  Like all women in her family, she has a gift and can communicate with spirits.  As an ex-FBI agent she has returned to her home town of San Antonia and is called on by the San Antonia Police Department to help them with a series of murders.  These murders seem to link to something that happened in Olivia's past and I felt like whatever evil spirit was involved 'then' has unfinished business with Olivia 'now'.

What I found so interesting is that the seven seconds idea is TRUE!  The idea that our subconscious makes a decision before our conscious mind even knows about it is really eye-opening.  If, like me, you think of your subconscious as your spirit or soul, it is very possible that other elements on the astral plane could influence your decisions.  In those seven seconds before our conscious mind takes over, who's to say we aren't open to suggestion?  Scary stuff indeed.

It took me a good few chapters to get into this book, but once I did I was gripped.  I would have liked to explore the paranormal a bit more but I think Lisa Compton has cleverly weighted the normal/paranormal to appeal to many readers.  I am intrigued to see what comes next for Olivia Osborne.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:




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