Sunday, 20 August 2017

Unforgivable (DC Will MacReady #2) - Mike Thomas

Bombs detonate in a busy souk, causing massive devastation. 

An explosion rips apart a mosque, killing and injuring those inside. 

But this isn't the Middle East - this is Cardiff . . . 

In a city where tensions are already running high, DC Will MacReady and his colleagues begin the desperate hunt for the attacker. If they knew the 'why', then surely they can find the 'who'? But that isn't so easy, and time is fast running out . . . 

MacReady is still trying to prove himself after the horrific events of the previous year, which left his sergeant injured and his job in jeopardy, so he feels sidelined when he's asked to investigate a vicious knife attack on a young woman. 

But all is not as it seems with his new case, and soon MacReady must put everything on the line in order to do what is right.

What did I think?

With such an explosive start, the reader is launched straight into the action in Unforgivable, the second book in the DC Will MacReady series.  I do usually like to read books in order; sometimes you can get away with not reading the previous books and other times it really is a necessity.  For me, Unforgivable just scrapes through into the former; I would have liked to have read the first book but I didn't need to have read it in order to enjoy this one.

The first chapter is quite chilling as a bomb goes off in a busy market in Cardiff.  A short while later another bomb is detonated in a mosque and across town a young woman is stabbed.  As chaos descends on Cardiff, Will MacReady already has a lot going on in his personal life.  Will's brother, Stuart, is in court and Stuart's baby is at home with Will's wife, who is also the baby's mother.  What a complicated life Will has!  It is because of this complex personal story that I would have liked to have read the first book prior to reading this one, but it's certainly intriguing enough to make me want to look out for book one: Ash and Bones.

With the city on high alert, Will struggles to keep the press interested in the death of the young woman who got stabbed, Heidi Paxton. Heidi's death is no less senseless than the innocent people murdered at the market and mosque...but is Heidi one of the innocents?  As Will investigates, he finds that there is more to Heidi than he bargained for.  As he races to uncover the truth about Heidi, time is ticking and the next Cardiff attack is imminent.  Can Will stop it in time?

Unforgivable is perhaps not quite as fast paced as I expected, but it certainly kept me engrossed and eager to turn the pages.  I loved how the book was sectioned into days as it brought added realism to the story.  It is a highly detailed police procedural thriller and I loved the banter between the police officers; I sometimes felt like I was a fly on the wall inside a police station.  Some chapters are told from the point of view of the bombers and these chapters really are quite chilling as they go about their lives with their true feelings hidden from friends and family.

I'm sure Mike Thomas has a lot more up his sleeve for DC Will MacReady so I definitely want to pick up the first book in the series before book 3 comes out.  I have a feeling that this series is going to be a firm favourite among crime fiction fans, so keep your eye on this one!

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Sweet Treats Volume 1: Jane's Patisserie - Jane Dunn

Available as a download from the Jane's Patisserie website, her new eBook ‘Sweet Treats Volume 1’ is now available to purchase!
Featuring 14 exclusive recipes, it's definitely one you are all going to enjoy. Cakes, Cupcakes, Cheesecakes, Cookies, Desserts, Sweets and Traybakes are all featured, with two new exclusive recipes in each, along with two of Jane's favourites from her blog!
What did I think?

If you haven't visited the blog of Jane's Patisserie before, you are really missing out on a SWEET TREAT or two!  I can't claim to have tried all her recipes, as I would need a whole new (bigger size) wardrobe, but the ones I've tried have been simply amazing!  What I love about Jane's recipes is that she uses well-known chocolate bars and biscuits to make stunning creations that you can easily replicate at home.

Like me, Jane is quite a fan of the cheesecake BUT Jane's cheesecakes are like nothing you have ever tasted before.  For a start there is no gelatine in them; that's right, no jelly animal bits at all.  So it was to my absolute amazement that with a few taps, tugs and nudges (and a panicked tweet to Jane when it wouldn't budge), that I turned out a fabulously set Caramel Rolo Cheesecake.  With the strange spider web decoration, I know mine didn't look as stunning as Jane's but it tasted SO good!

I've also tried Jane's Honeycomb Crunchie Cheesecake and her melt in the mouth White Chocolate and Cranberry Scones, which both turned out exactly as pictured, making me feel like the winner of the Great British Bake Off.  So when I saw that Jane had brought out a recipe e-book, I just had to have it!  What a little gem of a book this is, not only do you have Jane's favourite recipes from her blog, but also some exclusive recipes only available in this e-book.

So what do you get in the e-book?  There are 28 mouth-watering recipes, 4 in each section: cakes, cupcakes, cheesecakes, cookies, desserts, sweets and traybakes.  Within each section, 2 are exclusive to the e-book and 2 are readily available on Jane's blog.  So whether you prefer a traditional sponge cake with a difference or you're more of a cookie fan, then there really is something for everyone. I am desperate to try the Apple Crumble Cake (which is on Jane's blog) and the Peanut Butter Brownies which are exclusive to the e-book.

Proof of the pudding really is in the tasting, so get baking today with Jane's Patisserie.  Whether you're a novice baker or an experienced cook, you will awaken your tastebuds and amaze your guests with Jane's fabulous creations.  Whatever your favourite chocolate bar or biscuit, Jane is sure to have a recipe to delight you and fit every occasion.

I couldn't count on my fingers and toes the amount of times I have recommended Jane's blog to my friends and family.  I will always turn to Jane first whenever I want to make something special or different, with minimal fuss, clear instructions and perfect results.  So please do make sure you visit Jane's blog to purchase her Sweet Treats Volume 1 e-book today!

My rating:

Sold as a digital copy only, buy it now from Jane's website by clicking HERE! 

Do make sure that you follow Jane on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, then go out and buy some stretchy pants because you're gonna need them!

Friday, 18 August 2017

13 Minutes - Sarah Pinborough

I was dead for 13 minutes.

I don't remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this - it wasn't an accident and I wasn't suicidal.

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you're a teenage girl, it's hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I'm sure of it. But that doesn't mean they didn't try to kill me. Does it?

13 MINUTES by Sarah Pinborough is a gripping psychological thriller about people, fears, manuiplation and the power of the truth. A stunning read, it questions our relationships - and what we really know about the people closest to us . . .

What did I think?

I've read a few Sarah Pinborough books so when I saw 13 Minutes on one of my bookshop browsing sessions, without even reading the synopsis on the back, I just had to buy it.  I find with Sarah Pinborough that you're always guaranteed something that little bit (or a lot in some cases) out of the ordinary.  13 Minutes is no exception as I tried to work out what had happened to Queen of the Barbies, Natasha Howland.

An early morning dog walker finds a body in the river and immediately calls the paramedics; after 13 minutes without oxygen the body is revived and Natasha Howland is brought back to life.  She doesn't know how she ended up the river so several chapters contain transcripts of her visit to a psychologist along with text transcripts from her 'friends'.  I love chapters like this as they bring an added sense of real life to the story.  It's also good to look back on when 'all is revealed' to see what clues you missed along the way.

Natasha is THE most popular girl in school.  In primary school she was best friends with Becca and the two girls were partial to a game of chess.  When senior school came around, chess became uncool so Natasha dumped Becca for look-a-likes Hayley and Jenny.  They collectively became known (thanks to Becca) as The Barbies.  Becca becomes her own person without them and is happy with her boyfriend, Aiden, but when another body turns up in the river they have one thing in common - Aiden!  Is Aiden being set up or is he the killer?

This is another cracking book by Sarah Pinborough.  I think it might be sitting in the YA genre but it ventures enough into the dark side to appeal to adult readers.  It is so very well played that it is very apt that chess is the game of choice within the book.  One wrong move and the game is over.  With psychologist statements and text messages throughout the book, the reader must gather the clues and make up their own mind...but will they get the right answer and find out what really happened to Natasha?

If Alfred Hitchcock had directed Mean Girls, you might get close to 13 Minutes.  There is a tangible overhanging cloud of suspense and always the chance that somebody will get pushed in the river.  The bitchiness of the school setting is fabulous as we follow the popular girls and we finally notice the invisible kids.  It took me back (in the distant past) to my school days and I'm sure we were never as bad as this but then I look at my school photos and can't remember the names of everybody on there.  Perhaps others can't remember my name so, for me, 13 Minutes gives a shout out for invisible girls everywhere - we can see you!

Definitely a recommended read for those readers who like something a bit on the dark side with lots of twists and surprises.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The Escape - C.L. Taylor

"Look after your daughter's things. And your daughter…"

When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn't.

The stranger knows Jo's name, she knows her husband Max and she's got a glove belonging to Jo's two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo's own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there's only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

What did I think?

The Escape gripped me from the start and I read the whole book in one sitting, I don't think I even stopped for a quick comfort break.  I have read a few C.L. Taylor books and this is definitely my favourite one so far - it is so enthralling, gripping and nerve-racking that my eyes felt as if they were superglued to my kindle.

My heart was pounding from the first few pages as the footsteps following Jo were described and I almost jumped out of my skin when they caught up.  Ah, it's only a harmless female stranger wanting to ask for a lift.  It's definitely unusual and not terribly British but she asks so forcefully and Jo is running late, so she has no alternative but to agree to give her a lift.  The stranger identifies herself as Paula and once she is in Jo's car, her behaviour changes and it becomes clear that this isn't a chance encounter.  Paula knows who Jo is, she knows her husband and she warns her to look after her daughter.

Jo already has a history of panic and fear of leaving the house, so this sends her head into a spin.  Naturally, she wants to call the police but her husband, Max, isn't very supportive and he claims that he doesn't know Paula.  Max works as an investigative journalist and Jo is convinced that, through one of his investigations, he has put her and their daughter, Elise, in danger.  When things start happening that Jo can't explain, Paula's threat may be about to come true as Jo's fitness as a mother is called into question.  With Max spending all his time at work, Jo does the only thing she can do to keep Elise safe - she goes into hiding.

As the search for Jo goes on, she goes to the one place that she thinks nobody will look for her.  A place that has been erased from her family history but where the family secrets remain, and we all know that secrets don't stay buried for long.  I found myself holding my breath as this fast-paced book drew to a close; the writing is so vivid and I was so immersed in the book that I'm sure I could hear the roar of the sea in my ears.

The Escape is superbly written, no wonder C.L. Taylor has such a huge following that keeps her firmly and well-deservedly on the top of the bestseller listings.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Trouble With Henry and Zoe - Andy Jones

Henry and Zoe have more in common than they realise. For a start, they both have pasts they'd rather leave behind.

After jilting his childhood sweetheart on the eve of their wedding, Henry makes a break for London. He has no friends, no job, no home, no plan.

Zoe has great friends, two jobs, a new house, and a big scary plan. After a traumatic, life-changing event, she plans to leave London and spend a year travelling. Alone.

If Henry and Zoe had met one year ago, things might have worked out differently. But that's not the way life works. They meet seven months after their worlds have been turned upside down. And four months before Zoe is due to climb on a plane...

What did I think?

After discovering Andy Jones when I read The Two Of Us, I've kept a keen eye out for further releases from him.  He's one of those authors that can make you laugh and cry; in fact one of the things I always remark on when reading his books is the humour.  Just like real life, there are ups and downs in Andy's books but one thing I can always count on is that there is sure to be a laugh right around the corner.

The book starts with stories of two separate lives, two people who haven't met each other yet: Henry and Zoe.  Henry is having second thoughts about marrying his childhood sweetheart, April.  Unable to sleep on the eve of his wedding, he makes the decision to run for the hills preferring to ruin April's day rather than her life.  Meanwhile, Zoe is waking up next to her boyfriend, Alex, and wondering if he is the one for her.  Zoe has noticed that Alex has been a bit off lately so she is surprised when he wants to treat her to breakfast in bed, he just has to pop out to the shops for a few provisions.  Zoe's world is shattered when Alex doesn't return.  As both Henry and Zoe pick up the pieces of their lives, the last thing either of them wants is to jump into another relationship...until fate brings them together.

The Trouble With Henry and Zoe is another fabulous book by Andy Jones.  He has taken two completely separate devastating events and shown how people cope with love, loss and everything in between.  The characters never failed to surprise me from Henry's love of old movies and secret hairdressing skills to Zoe's keen interest in photography and her bravery at planning a solo trip to Thailand.  I read a lot of this book with a lump in my throat, especially when certain email transcripts made an appearance, but never more so than in Zoe's final act of love as she lets Alex go and says hello to the rest of her life.

I really can't recommend Andy Jones highly enough if you love a bit of humour in your books but want to read something that deals with real life events and tugs at your heartstrings.  I may have only known them for a short time, as I couldn't help but race through this book, but the characters are so full of life that I felt so very bereft when I turned the final page and wished them well for the future as if they were old friends.  All in all, a simply wonderful book.  If you haven't read an Andy Jones book yet, what are you waiting for?  

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Friday, 11 August 2017

BLOG TOUR: Unforgivable (DC Will MacReady #2) - Mike Thomas

I've heard nothing but good things about Unforgivable by Mike Thomas so I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour.  Today I have an extract for you but look out for my review over the next week or so, and don't forget to visit the other stops on the tour.


This chapter takes place late at night, after the bombs have gone off in the market and mosque. MacReady has gone off duty, so we switch to another person’s point of view: the bomber, who is drunk and alone and mulling over what he has done…

He sits amongst the detritus, the remnants of fast food and discarded bottles of alcohol and the thick stench of his own flesh, the television remote control resting on his naked white stomach, the matted hair around his filthy navel curling up along the handset, his eyes unblinking and on the images flickering across the television screen.
Smoke and misery and the pulse of blue lights. A breathless reporter, face smudged, his puny hands twisting at a microphone as he struggles to put into words what he has witnessed. What his eyes have seen that can never be unseen. His fey, bland voice battling to explain the unexplainable as inoffensively as possible. Must not affront anyone. Must not fan the outrage. Be inclusive. Be diverse. Be bland with your tamed tongue.
He laughs as he watches because it is written all over the man’s twisted face: he wishes he was home with his loved ones. Wishes he was holding them tight. Wishes he could piss and moan and gnash his teeth live on the idiot box, railing against the horrors of this world, a world which he probably doesn’t understand anymore.
He’s with the newsman on that count. The world is fucking insane. People are so inured, so numb, so disgracefully self-absorbed with their pouting selfies and endless cat pictures and stupid status updates, you have to do something spectacular to make them sit up and take notice.
And it is spectacular. He’s been watching the fallout all day, clicking through the rolling twenty-four-hour news coverage, occasionally flicking back to the PlayStation to shoot up a few pedestrians or rip off a bank, turning back to the news again, revelling in a solid wall of unending chaos interrupted just the once when it all became too much for him and he had to masturbate into a half-empty beer bottle.
‘That’ll learn you,’ he says to the television. ‘That’ll learn you, you fucks.’
The alcohol has finally hit him hard and he finds the words wrestling with his tongue, finds himself unable to stop the drool which leaks from his bottom lip onto his left nipple and he thinks about wiping it away, studies the spittle and his pinched pink areola for a minute or so while he decides if it’s worth the effort, if he still has the energy after all that has taken place, and as the saliva soaks into his slippery skin he decides to leave it be. It is late, and he is exhausted now, the successes of the day finally catching up with him, the adrenaline finally – finally, more than fifteen hours later – spent, the TV screen suddenly shifting in his vision. He blinks the blurriness away, shakes his head a little. Glances around, at the mess he has created, the destruction he has wrought upon this room, a smaller version of the destruction meted out this morning.
‘One more go,’ he dribbles, and lifts up the remote control, carefully switches over to the game he’s loaded, drops the remote back to his distended abdomen and reaches for the controller. The shooter ready to go. His ammo maxed. The target building chock full of stuffed shirts and office drones and PowerfuckingPoint pointlessness. 

About the author:

Mike Thomas was born in Wales in 1971. For more than two decades he served in the police, working some of Cardiff’s busiest neighbourhoods in uniform, public order units, drugs teams and CID. He left the force in 2015 to write full time.

His debut novel, Pocket Notebook, was published by William Heinemann (Penguin Random House) and longlisted for the Wales Book of the Year. The author was also named as one of Waterstones' 'New Voices' for 2010. His second novel, Ugly Bus, is currently in development for a six part television series with the BBC.

The first in the MacReady series, Ash and Bones, was published in August 2016 by Bonnier Zaffre. The sequel, Unforgivable, is published in July 2017.

He lives in the wilds of Portugal with his wife, two children and an unstable, futon-eating dog.

More details can be found on the website

Follow the tour:

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Sweet Little Lies - Caz Frear


In 1998, Maryanne Doyle disappeared and Dad knew something about it?
Maryanne Doyle was never seen again.


In 1998, Dad lied about knowing Maryanne Doyle.
Alice Lapaine has been found strangled near Dad's pub. 
Dad was in the local area for both Maryanne Doyle's disappearance and Alice Lapaine's murder - FACT

Trust cuts both ways . . . what do you do when it's gone? 

What did I think?

You can say many things about Richard & Judy, but one thing is true: they know a damn good book when they read one.  Sweet Little Lies was the well deserved winner of the search for a bestseller competition 2017, so I knew it was going to be good but I didn't know just how good.  Caz Frear hasn't just written a perfect crime thriller, she's added her amazing dry wit throughout to make it stand out from the crowd.

Cat Kinsella remembers the day that Maryanne Doyle went missing as it was the same day that Geri left The Spice Girls.  Cat and her family were visiting her Gran in Ireland and naturally questions are asked about Maryanne's last known movements.  Cat knows for a fact that her Dad lied about not knowing Maryanne as Cat was with him when he gave Maryanne a lift in their car.  For an impressionable 8 year old, and one with such an investigative mind as Cat, the trust that was lost that day changed the course of her relationship with her Dad; a relationship smashed into smithereens and left irreparable.

Fast forward to London of the present and Cat is a detective in the Met's murder squad.  So when she is called out to investigate a murdered woman found within spitting distance of her estranged Dad's pub, she thinks her Dad could have killed again.  When she finds more similarities between Maryanne Doyle and the recently murdered woman, Alice Lapaine, she heads round to her Dad's to question him.  With her coat zipped up to the neck screaming 'I'm not staying', I could feel her inner struggle between daughter and detective.  One thing is for sure, if anyone can find out what happened to Alice Lapaine, it's Cat.

It did take me a little while to get into this book, possibly because Cat is a bit like a conker - she's so spiky on the outside and she's a tough nut to crack.  Once I got used to her strange ways, I thought she was brilliant.  It's so sad that something changed the way she felt about her Dad, something for which she had no proof, just a suspicion.  One thing we can never get back is time and if Cat's Dad didn't kill Maryanne Doyle back in 1998 she's fractured her family for no reason.

Sweet Little Lies is an outstanding debut novel and I'd love to see Cat Kinsella make an appearance in more novels.  With her fresh and witty writing, Caz Frear gives an overdue wake up call to tired crime fiction, encouraging readers back to crime fiction after having their heads turned by the overloaded psychological thriller genre.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon