Monday, 3 December 2018

Funicular - T.F. Lince

After his life is threatened, DI Bob Dixon leaves London hoping for the quiet life in the northern village of Saltburn-by-the-Sea.  But when he takes on the case of young Lizzy Scraggs, missing since a huge tide hit Saltburn six years earlier, he embarks on an investigation that will push him to the very edge of reason.

Out on the beat, Bob learns the legend of the funicular car that left the top of Saltburn's famous cliff lift many years ago carrying two passengers, and arrived at the bottom empty save for an abandoned ticket.  And every big tide since has seen another local child disappear.

Feeling increasingly manipulated by a shadowy nemesis, Bob struggles to make sense of the seemingly impossible clues before him.  How can the dead live again?  Who is the tortured man haunting the churchyard in nearby Marske?  And with the next massive tide just hours away, can Bob solve the puzzle and bring an end to the tragedy of Saltburn's missing children?

What did I think?

Funicular has to be one of my most eagerly awaited books of 2018 after reading T.F. Lince's outstanding 2017 debut, Room 119.  I am completely honoured to be one of the first readers of Funicular, and I couldn't wait to see if it lived up to it's predecessor.

I loved the introduction to the North East that DI Bob Dixon encounters on the London to Edinburgh train.  Bob is relocating from London to the quaintly named North Eastern town of Saltburn-by-the-Sea in an effort to wind down towards retirement.  He meets a rowdy, but friendly, bunch of Middlesbrough supporters on the train and Fate waves her magic wand to start Bob off on the path she has in store for him.  A path that sees Bob investigating the missing children of Saltburn, which appears to be linked to record breaking high tides and the mystery of the Victorian cliff lift, the funicular.

There is an amazing sense of place in Funicular, with the funicular and the beach described exquisitely.  Through the perfectly descriptive writing of T.F. Lince, I actually felt as if I was there and I'm definitely putting Saltburn on my list of places to visit, especially as it's only around 50 miles from where I live.  I also felt that our North East spirit had been woven into the pages; everyone is shown to be so warm and friendly, and calling people by hilarious nicknames actually shows affection and respect here in the North East.

As with Room 119, I was reminded of Back to the Future a little and not just by the lightning pace of the book.  You can forget Doc Brown's 88mph when T.F. Lince is around; this pacing is supersonic!  Like a fine wine, T.F. Lince's writing has matured and I found the whole reading experience to be of the highest standard, which is remarkable for such a new author.  I think you can tell from the cover that Funicular is definitely not a run-of-the-mill police procedural but you do need to expect the unexpected in a T.F. Lince book; so put on your sunglasses and prepare to be dazzled by Funicular.  

Unusual and completely unique, Funicular is a thoroughly entertaining read filled with mystery, magic and inimitable North East spirit.  Yet again, T.F. Lince has firmly guaranteed his well-deserved place in my top books of the year.

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

My rating:

Make sure you come back for the Amazon link when the book is released mid-December!

Sunday, 2 December 2018

BLOG TOUR: Cuckoo - Sophie Draper

There’s a stranger in your house…

When her stepmother dies unexpectedly, Caro returns to her childhood home in Derbyshire. She hadn’t seen Elizabeth in years, but the remote farmhouse offers refuge from a bad relationship, and a chance to start again.

But going through Elizabeth’s belongings unearths memories Caro would rather stay buried. In particular, the story her stepmother would tell her, about two little girls and the terrible thing they do.

As heavy snow traps Caro in the village, where her neighbours stare and whisper, Caro is forced to question why Elizabeth hated her so much, and what she was hiding. But does she really want to uncover the truth?

A haunting and twisty story about the lies we tell those closest to us, perfect for fans of Ruth Ware and Cass Green.

What did I think?

You can’t help but be intrigued by the creepy prologue of somebody lying in a hospital bed seemingly all but dead, but alive with thoughts and feelings.  As we launch into a stepmother’s funeral in chapter one, we know we’re not about to encounter an ordinary family but just how twisted can they be?  The answer is VERY!

When their stepmother dies, Steph and Caro inherit the estate their father left in trust for them.  Steph strangely decides that she doesn’t want anything and agrees to give Caro her share, including the house they grew up in.  A struggling artist, Caro moves into the house where she is reminded of her youth…and finds the pear drum that her stepmother scared her with all those years ago.  Even more bizarre is the commission that Caro receives to illustrate a childrens’ book called The Pear Drum and Other Dark Tales from the Nursery.  There’s no such thing as coincidence surely?  As Caro starts drawing, her memories start to come back…gradually revealing a dark secret that has been buried for many years.

The stepmother storyline gives quite a fairytale feeling to the story and Caro’s upbringing was reminiscent of Cinderella tormented by not only her stepmother but her older sister, Steph.  Caro is such a flawed and damaged main character and, as we read snippets of her past, I couldn’t help but feel that she was heading towards another storm as I remembered the hospital bed from the prologue.

With shocks and surprises around every corner, Cuckoo is a riveting and thrilling psychological thriller that has the feel of a spooky adult fairytale.

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

My rating:

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Saturday, 1 December 2018

Practising for Christmas - Rachael Richey

A remote coastal cottage; a group of old friends; the Christmas holidays. It's just the break Olivia needs to help her relax and forget her worries. What could be more perfect? But that was before she found a handsome unconscious stranger on the beach. Add in a case of mistaken identity, a lot of kissing practice, and an inquisitive best friend, and things begin to get more than a little complicated. 

The large bump on Adam's head hurts, but he refuses to go to the hospital—or back home—and eventually accepts Olivia's offer of hospitality. When her friends arrive the following morning, a chance remark catapults them both into a bizarre and amusing situation that promises to make it a Christmas to remember.

What did I think?

I don't read a lot of chicklit these days but there are certain authors I make an exception for and Rachael Richey is one of them.  As it's the 1st of December, I find it rather fitting to start the advent period with a review of a Christmas themed book.

Olivia had planned the perfect getaway for the Christmas break: a cottage by the sea with her new boyfriend and best friends.  Only she broke up with her boyfriend and she's dreading being alone at Christmas when her friends might think she made her boyfriend up in the first place.  Olivia arrives at the cottage a few days early to get it ready for her guests and happens upon an unconscious man when walking on the beach one day.  With a cut on his head, Olivia takes Adam back to the cottage to tend to his wounds and I could feel the air positively FIZZING with sexual tension.

Despite her worries that he could be an axe murderer, Olivia offers Adam her couch for the night so she can keep an eye on his head wound.  He's just about to leave when one of Olivia's friends arrive and presume he is Olivia's boyfriend, as she hadn't told them that they had broke up.  Adam sees it as a bit of fun to go along with the ruse but there's nothing fake when he kisses Olivia - oh boy!  Of course, things are never perfect and Adam has some secrets of his own...but if Adam and Olivia are meant to be, fate will find a way.

I absolutely adore Rachael's Richey's books and her amazing ability to sweep me away with her gorgeous storylines; for anyone who believes in fate and believes that one day her prince will come, you will LOVE this book.  It's not all sugar-coated and feel-good as there's a good dollop of real life hurt and disappointment in there, but I always know that I'm going to finish one of Rachael Richey's books with a smile on my face.

Practising for Christmas is a fabulous feel-good festive frolic and the perfect book to curl up with by the fire on a dark wintery night.  So whip up a hot chocolate and allow Rachael Richey to warm the cockles of your heart with this seaside Christmas treat.

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

My rating:

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Sunday, 25 November 2018

BLOG TOUR: The Importance of Being Aisling - Emer McLysaght & Sarah Breen

Meet Aisling.

She's a country girl learning to love the city sophistication of unlimited Pinot Greej and brunch, though smashed avocado still mystifies her. She can plan anything, from Secret Santa for her ungrateful colleagues to a hen party for not one but two brides.

But even Aisling is thrown off course when her job and relationship suddenly go up in smoke.

Life in the city was supposed to be glamorous and grown-up, but all at once she's heading home to live with her mother. (Not without a detour to Vegas first - she's unemployed and single, not dead.)

But between making new friends and rivals, and finding her eye caught by a very handsome but very unavailable new man, going home is full of surprises. Could small town life actually hold the answers Aisling is missing?

What did I think?

I am delighted to see that Aisling (pronounced ASH-ling) is back in this fabulous sequel to Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling.  Some things could only happen to Aisling so prepare to gasp and giggle as this latest instalment of her life plays out.

I really felt that Aisling grew up in this book.  She has to cope with life after Daddy, in addition to being made redundant and breaking up with her long time boyfriend, John.  Only Aisling could do it in such style as she goes on an absolutely hilarious girly trip to Las Vegas before figuring out what she wants to do with her life.  Moving back in with Mammy and endless cups of tea gives her the chance to take stock of her life.  As she emerges from her chrysalis like a beautiful butterfly, she spreads her wings and takes on the world...with a little help from her friends.

This book is written with such spirit by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen that it virtually speaks to you.  I could hear Aisling's voice as clear as a bell and feel like I know her as well as I know my friends.  In fact, I care so much about her that I feel as if she is one of my friends.  This colourful character of Aisling is destined to appear on our TV screens and it would be an absolute travesty if it is not picked up by a producer.  Think Sex and the City goes to Ireland and it's comedy gold.

Both hilarious and heart-warming, your life will feel so much brighter after another instalment of Aisling in The Importance of Being Aisling.

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

My rating:

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Saturday, 24 November 2018

BLOG TOUR: Her Last Move - John Marrs

I was thrilled to be invited to take part in the blog tour for John Marrs' latest book, Her Last Move.  This is one of those books that is sure to be so popular that we bloggers were rapidly hitting reply and typing 'count me in' the minute the invitation hit our inboxes, then punching the air when a date came through in the reply.  Even if I hadn't made the blog tour list, I would have been queuing up to read Her Last Move and when you read my review below, I'm sure you will agree that it is well worth reading.

She’s chasing a killer. He’s watching her every move.

He hides in the shadows, waiting for the perfect moment. Each kill is calculated, planned and executed like clockwork.

Struggling to balance her personal and professional life, young DS Becca Vincent has landed the biggest case of her career—and she knows that it will make or break her. But she can’t catch the culprit alone. Together with facial recognition expert Joe Russell, she strives to get a lead on the elusive murderer, who is always one step ahead of them.

Time is not on their side. The body count is rising, and the attacks are striking closer and closer to home. Can Becca and Joe uncover the connection between the murders before the killer strikes the last name from his list?

What did I think?

I was drawn straight into this book by the wonderfully inventive murder that plays out over the first few pages.  I couldn't read fast enough to find out what the victim had done to warrant the attention of this ruthless killer.  It quickly becomes clear that there is nothing random about the choice of victims and the police are in a race against time to catch the murderer before all the names are crossed off the hit list.

I loved the dynamic of the two main characters: Becca and Joe.  I was just feeling the sexual tension sizzling when John Marrs very cleverly pulled the rug out from under my feet, leaving my mouth agape.  Both of them have very sad and intriguing personal stories to contend with which interfere with their jobs to varying degrees and at opposite end of the work/life spectrum: Joe can't stop looking for his missing sister even when it gets in the way of his job but Becca always seems to allow her job to take priority over her daughter.  

Becca's life reminded me of the saying that nobody ever lies on their deathbed and says that they wish they'd spent more time at work.  Getting the work/life balance right is a difficult one and it was really interesting to see the effect that Becca's actions had on her daughter and her mum.  I felt as if Joe is the opposite in that he would give up his job in a heartbeat if it meant that he could find his missing sister, Linzi.  Of course, there are always two sides to every story and Joe is going to have to give his job up at some point in the near future so it perhaps makes his obsession easier to understand.

The way the whole story plays out is just superb; I found it really difficult to put down and couldn't wait until I had time to pick back up where I left off.  I loved the idea of the super-recognisers in the police force and had no idea of their existence.  It sounds like something out of X-Men but it is very real indeed and they sound like an amazing secret weapon for the police to have.  Well, perhaps not so secret now thanks to John Marrs!

Filled with shocks and surprises, Her Last Move is a multi-dimensional story that thrills from start to finish and all the way in between.  A highly recommended read and an easy 5 stars.

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

My rating:

Purchase Links:

About the author:

John Marrs is the author of #1 bestsellers The One (soon to be made into a film with Urban Myth Films), The Good Samaritan (shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards 2018), When You Disappeared, and Welcome to Wherever You Are. After working as a journalist for 25-years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time writer.

Her Last Move is dedicated to John’s late father, Charlie, who was a police officer for 25 years.

Follow him on Twitter @johnmarrs1 Facebook: @johnmarrsauthor Instagram:  website:

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Thursday, 22 November 2018

BLOG BLITZ: From the Dark - K.A. Richardson

Antonia Baillie is a true Romani gypsy – she has the gift of foresight and uses this to help people.

When the ghosts of the past come calling, can she put her own fears aside and work with the police to help find who is torturing and killing young men?

Detective Sergeant Mark McKay has never had a need to solve a case using a psychic. He doesn’t believe in it – pure and simple.

But when Antonia tells him the name of a young man and gives him details specific to the case, he can’t help but change his view when a body matching what she says, is found in the vaults deep under the city.

Mark and Antonia race against a spree of monstrous crimes, long-standing grudges and the perils of the darkness in the vaults under Edinburgh to try and find a sadistic killer before time runs out.

Can they stop him before he strikes again?

Will they discover who is responsible?

And can they do it without becoming victims themselves?

What did I think?

K.A. Richardson has taken a mini-break from her native North East and has set her latest novel in Edinburgh.  Although I have been, I don't know Edinburgh well whereas I know the North East as it is my home.  What I found amazing is that I felt as if I knew Edinburgh as well as the North East, as K.A. Richardson has painted the dark grisly streets of Edinburgh in an equally vivid light.

I loved the psychic element in From the Dark; Antonia is such a colourful character having been shunned by the Romani community and rekindling her schoolgirl crush on Mark McKay.  There's a killer in the vaults beneath Edinburgh's ancient streets and Antonia seems to be able to tap into the psychic energy, giving her details that she couldn't possibly know.  When she goes to the police, she is worried that they won't believe her but she sees a familiar face there in old schoolfriend, Mark McKay.  Mark is surprised that he believes Antonia's visions so quickly, but they are so accurate that he has little choice.  Working together, they race against the clock to catch the killer before he turns his sights on one of them.

Wow!  What a thriller!  I felt as if I had partaken in a tour of the Edinburgh vaults myself due to the seriously impressive scene setting that K.A. Richardson does with her wonderfully expressive words.  It is pretty dark and grisly in parts; there were some scenes of torture that made me recoil in horror and my stomach is lurching just thinking about it.  I'm not squeamish at all but it really is written so vividly that I could almost see, hear and feel everything that was happening.

Dark by name and dark by nature, From the Dark is a spooky, spine-tingling thriller with a supernatural edge that had me riveted from start to finish.  If you haven't discovered K.A. Richardson yet, pick up From the Dark today and you'll be more ways than one!

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

KA Richardson is a crime writer based in North East England. She has worked for the police for around 8 years, both as a CSI (crime scene investigator) and also in alternate roles involving dealing with people in heightened states of emotion. She spends a lot of time in coffee shops, both writing and people watching. She began focussing on writing as a career in 2011 when she competed her MA Creative Writing, and focuses primarily on the crime/police procedural genre. 

K.A. Richardson’s Social Media Links:
Twitter: @kerryann77

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Monday, 19 November 2018

BLOG TOUR: Too Far - Jason Starr

One night. One date. What have you got to lose?

Jack Harper isn’t a bad man, but he’s stuck in a loveless marriage with a mediocre job just trying to keep sober. The only good thing in his life is his son. When an old college friend introduces him to a new extramarital dating website, he tentatively reaches out to find a distraction from his misery. But when he goes to meet up with his steamy online date, he quickly realises it was a dire choice.

Soon, Jack finds himself desperately trying to prove his innocence for crimes he did not commit, and the life he once had – unhappy as it was – is nothing but a dream. Now, he’s living his worst nightmare. . .

Gripping and packed with shocking twists and turns, this intense psychological thriller plays with a basic anxiety we all harbour: What if one reckless decision could ruin your life forever?

What did I think?

I wasn't sure that I was going to like Too Far from the opening pages, as the world of real estate is not something that interests me, but I'm so pleased that it didn't put me off as there's an absolutely gripping story to discover within the pages of this thrilling book.  I absolutely raced through it and, although I had some suspicions, I loved the way the story played out.  The writing is so visual that I wouldn't be surprised to see this story on our tv screens at some point.

I actually really liked the character of Jack; I felt as if he was just going through the motions of life.  Doing a job in real estate that he hates and with a marriage that is barely holding together, I don't know how he managed to stay sober.  When he meets up with an old friend whose life seems illicit and exciting, Jack doesn't see the harm in logging on to an website for married people to hook up.  He doesn't plan to register but when he gets a message from a woman who seems to be made for him, he can't resist.  The moment he inputs his credit card details, wheels are set in motion that could see him lose everything he ever held dear and there's nothing as dangerous as a man who has nothing left to lose.

I'm sure many of us have dabbled in online dating (for singles though, not married people), there really is nothing as exciting as making that connection with someone who feels just right for you.  Then you hear the horror stories of catfishing, where people pretend to be somebody they're not, and you wonder if the person you are connecting with really is too good to be true.  It's a real minefield, as Jack found out in this book, and I really loved the way the author showed the two sides of the online dating coin.

Too Far is a very current thriller in this day and age of online dating; it's a gripping, fast-paced page-turner that I thoroughly enjoyed.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Jason Starr is the international bestselling author of many crime novels and thrillers and his books have been published in over a dozen languages. Many of his books are in development for film and TV. Starr's bestselling crime novels include Cold Caller, Nothing Personal, Fake ID, Hard Feelings, Tough Luck and Twisted City, followed by Lights Out, The Follower, Panic Attack, Savage Lane and his latest novel, Too Far. He is one of only a handful of authors who have won the Anthony Award for mystery fiction multiple times. He was born in Brooklyn and lives in Manhattan.


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