Wednesday, 21 March 2018

BLOG BLITZ: Paradise Girl - Phill Featherstone

I was more than happy to help out on the Paradise Girl blog blitz.  I think the book sounds great but alas I couldn't fit it into my reading schedule.  Even so, I'm thrilled to bring you an extract and a giveaway to win an ebook.  First, let's see what Paradise Girl is all about.

Genre: Nominally YA/NA, general fiction
Release Date: 27 January 2017
Publisher: Matador
Kerryl Shaw has always kept a diary, but this one is different because she knows she is going to die.
A highly infectious and incurable virus spreads worldwide. Seventeen-year-old Kerryl lives with her family on a remote farm. They think they will be safe, but the danger advances. One day a stranger arrives, and it soon becomes apparent that he has brought the plague to their door.
Kerryl is sure it’s only a matter of time before she catches the infection and dies, and decides to record what she thinks will be her final days. She realises that her diary will never be read, so she imagines a reader and calls him Adam. Loneliness and isolation affect the balance of her mind. Little by little Adam comes alive to her, and she sets off across the moor to meet him.


Sounds great, doesn't it?  Here's a little extract to whet your appetite.


Introductions are boring, but unless I take time to explain things it will be confusing for you. Me first. Not very polite, I know, but it’s probably the best place to start.

My name is Kerryl – or that’s what my family and friends call me. My proper name is Cheryl. Cheryl Alison Shaw. They call me the Paradise Girl. Don’t get excited – it sounds sexy but it’s not. I’m seventeen years old and still a virgin. I’m not a nun, I’ve been out with loads of boys – Tim, Mark (two of them), Nathan, Jake, Tristram, Steve – but I wasn’t that keen on any of them and they didn’t last. The exception was Mark II. He was older than me, fearsomely good looking and he had a nice car. I thought he was really hot. When I wasn’t with him I was thinking about him. But it seems he wasn’t as keen as me, and one day my best friend, Josie, told me that he was going out with Monica Woodbridge and saying I was a frigid cow. It seems everybody knew I’d been dumped and I was the last to find out.

The worst thing was the shock. I thought Monica Woodbridge was my friend. As well as that, all the girls in our group had been going out with the same boys for a long time, but I seemed to keep a boyfriend for only a few weeks. Was there something wrong with me? To be honest, I’m not a great beauty. I don’t mean I’m a train wreck or anything. I’m not bad looking, but I’m not like Charlene Brooker or Suzy Simmonds. They’re electric, both of them. Charlene could be a model, and Suzy’s always surrounded by a gang of drooling boys.

They’re gone now: Charlene, Suzy, Josie, Monica, all of them.

Sorry for the break there. I had to stop to have a little weep. I’ll try not to do too much of that. I suppose I can console myself with one thing: with everyone else dead, I must be the most beautiful girl in the world!

About the author

Phill Featherstone was born and brought up in the north of England. He trained as a teacher and taught English in comprehensive schools. In the late 1990s he and his wife, Sally, founded a publishing company specialising in education books for the early years. In 2008 the business was acquired by Bloomsbury, after which they moved to Yorkshire. He now spends his time writing, travelling, on the arts and on conservation work. Phill has degrees from Cambridge and Leicester Universities, and is a member of the Society of Authors. Paradise Girl is his third novel, although the first to be published.
Paradise Girl recently won a CHILL WITH A BOOK AWARD!

Twitter: @PhillFeathers


Tuesday, 20 March 2018

29 Seconds - T.M. Logan

Give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear . . .

When Sarah rescues a young girl in trouble, she expects nothing in return. But her act of bravery puts a powerful and dangerous man in her debt. He lives by his own brutal code, and all debts must be repaid - in the only way he knows how.

He offers Sarah a way to solve a desperate situation with her intolerable boss. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that will make all her problems disappear.

No consequences. No comeback. No chance of being found out.

All it takes is a 29 second phone call.


What did I think?

Having read and loved T.M. Logan's debut, Lies, to say I was keen to read his new book, 29 Seconds, was an understatement.  I read 29 Seconds through The PigeonHole with a few chapters being released every day over a period of 10 days.  As difficult as it is to wait 24 hours for your next book fix, it's amazing how much you look forward to reading it and the tension and suspense feels heightened as the book nears its conclusion.

Sarah's boss, Alan Lovelock, is a sexual predator; everyone knows it but nobody seems to be able to do anything about it.  He's highly thought of by the university and seems to be able to do no wrong which is how he gets away with his inappropriate behaviour.  When Sarah finds herself in Alan's crosshairs it was like she was a fly caught in a spider's web with no means of escape until a strange event gave her a way out.  When Sarah witnesses a weird accident that looks like a kidnapping attempt on a young girl, the girl's Russian father offers to thank Sarah by making someone disappear.  In a call lasting 29 seconds, the name she gives is Alan Lovelock but when guilt causes her to regret her decision, is it already too late?

Every attempt to show Lovelock's true colours seems to backfire and Sarah is running out of options and time.  Is that an excuse to end a man's life, though?  I was so angry that Lovelock was protected at work, it was like an old boy's club where they had each other's backs.  I wondered whether his colleagues believed his lies or just chose not to see the truth.  How many of us would stand up for someone else or just ignore it and feel grateful that it wasn't happening to us? 

If ever a book has you constantly wondering 'what would you do', this is it.   I think everybody who reads it will ask themselves this same question.  A completely gripping and highly addictive book, 29 Seconds is another cracking page turner from T.M. Logan. 

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Monday, 19 March 2018

The Cocktail Bar - Isabella May

Rock star, River Jackson, is back in his hometown of Glastonbury to open a cocktail bar… and the locals aren’t impressed.

Seductive Georgina is proving too hot to handle; band mate, Angelic Alice, is messing with his heart and his head; his mum is a hippie-dippy liability; his school friends have resorted to violence – oh, and his band manager, Lennie, AND the media are on his trail.

But River is armed with a magical Mexican elixir which will change the lives of the Three Chosen Ones. Once the Mexican wave of joy takes a hold of the town, he’s glad he didn’t lose his proverbial bottle.

Pity he hasn’t taken better care of the real one…

What did I think?

I don't often refer to the cover of a book but just take another look at this one - now that's what I call delicious!  The cocktails inside are as mouthwatering as the cover but they have an added sprinkling of magical fairy dust thanks to a secret cocktail ingredient: the Mexican elixir.

River Jackson is one messed up guy.  He's left his band and returned home to Glastonbury to open a bar where he wasn't exactly welcomed with open arms.  Some of his old schoolfriends let him know that he is not welcome back by smashing up his new trendy cocktail bar.  As if his life couldn't get any more complicated, he is then seduced by Georgina who is the sister of Blake, the bar-smashing ringleader.  I was so exasperated with him, saying 'River, River, River think with your head for a change...' but Georgina puts on a good show until she turns into psycho-b*tch and River only has himself to blame.

When Alice also leaves the band and returns to Glastonbury, the real sparks fly as you can tell that she is meant to be with River.  Georgina isn't rolling over without a fight though and she starts to sharpen her claws as Alice threatens to ruin her masterplan.  There was so much going on with the complicated relationships that I often forgot about magical elixir storyline.

Alcohol is often referred to as magic potion, but in The Cocktail Bar River really does have a magical ingredient.  On a trip to Tequila he meets the mysterious Mercedes who gives him a bottle of her magical elixir to be given to three chosen people who will identify themselves to River.  I loved seeing who was going to choose the magical cocktail and what would happen to them when they did.  It just shows that if you believe in magic, anything can happen.

The Cocktail Bar is a mouthwateringly delicious book filled with drama and a sprinkling of magic.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Friday, 16 March 2018

BLOG TOUR: The Woman Before Me - Ruth Dugdall

They came for me, just like I knew they would. Luke had been dead for just three days.
Rose Wilks' life is shattered when her newborn baby Joel is admitted to intensive care. Emma Hatcher has all that Rose lacks. Beauty. A loving husband. A healthy son. Until tragedy strikes and Rose is the only suspect.

Now, having spent nearly five years behind bars, Rose is just weeks away from freedom. Her probation officer Cate must decide whether Rose is remorseful for Luke's death, or whether she remains a threat to society. As Cate is drawn in, she begins to doubt her own judgement.

Where is the line between love and obsession, can justice be served and, if so... by what means?

What did I think?

...and the creepiest Opening Chapter award goes to Ruth Dugdall for The Woman Before Me!  This opening chapter made my skin crawl as one of my fears and one of my foibles were brought together.  I don't like to think people are watching me without me knowing and I have a fear of a stranger entering my bedroom (and killing me) when I am asleep.  So when Rose stands over Emma watching her sleep, I really did gasp out loud and that was only the tip of the iceberg!

Rose is arrested for starting a fire that night in Emma's house where Emma's baby son died and Emma claims to have been alone in the house, but Rose knows that she wasn't.  Rose keeps this information to herself and accepts her fate, which I think has a lot to do with the post traumatic stress from which she is suffering after the death of her premature baby, Joel.  Rose lost her mother at a young age and doesn't know how to be a mother herself, but she doesn't even get the chance so it was no surprise to see her latch on to Emma and her baby, Luke.  Emma is only too glad of the help as she leaves Luke with Rose so she can have some time to herself.  It would be easy to blame Emma, and in a way I did, as she used Rose for free babysitting services but she probably thought that Rose was her friend, despite knowing nothing about her and not caring enough to find out.  

Now Rose is up for parole and Probation Officer, Cate Austin must decide whether Rose should be released or not.  As Cate digs into Rose's disturbing past she, like all of us readers, wants to know whether Rose was indeed guilty of starting the fire that night.  I was constantly questioning this but then came up with another conundrum: if Rose didn't start the fire, who did?  And if she didn't do it, why did she accept her prison sentence so easily?

I am not surprised that Ruth Dugdall won the CWA Debut Dagger Award in 2005 for The Woman Before Me.  It is a gripping, skin-crawling, dark, psychological thriller that I didn't want to put down.  It is so intriguing that I felt as if I read it too quickly, as I needed to find out the whole story as fast as I could, so it's a good excuse to read it again to savour every detail of this dark and delicious domestic noir book.  Disturbing, gripping and highly recommended.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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Thursday, 15 March 2018

Looking Good Dead (Roy Grace series Book 2) - Peter James

One single act of kindness becomes an endless reign of terror. . .
Tom Bryce did what any decent person would do. But within hours of picking up the CD that had been left behind on the train seat next to him, and attempting to return it to its owner, he is the sole witness to a vicious murder. Then his young family are threatened with their lives if he goes to the police. But supported by his wife, Kellie, he bravely makes a statement to the murder enquiry team headed by Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, a man with demons of his own to contend with.
And from that moment the killing of the Bryce family becomes a mere formality - and a grisly attraction. Notice of Kellie and Tom's deaths has already been posted on the internet. You can log on and see them on a website. They are looking good dead.
Looking Good Dead is the second bestselling title in the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series from number one author Peter James.

What did I think?

I've got quite a collection of Peter James books and I'm slowly but surely getting round to reading them.  Despite the appearance of a reasonably chunky book, I've found that Peter James books are very quick reads as you simply can't put them down and this second in the Roy Grace series is a real page turner.

Looking Good Dead draws you in straight away when we're introduced to trainee lawyer, Janie Stretton.  Janie has expensive tastes and certainly dresses the part but before the reader can form an envious thought, we find that somebody has Janie in their crosshairs and her time is almost up.  Businessman Tom Bryce is on a train home to his spendaholic wife, Kellie, when a loudmouthed passenger accidentally leaves a CD on the seat.  Tom picks it up and naturally puts into into his computer in an attempt to identify the man who left it, but Tom gets a lot more than he bargained for when the CD directs him to a site where he witnesses a murder.  The CD wasn't meant for Tom, so now that he's a witness to murder he's also become a target.

Crikey!  You need to clear your diary when you pick up a Peter James book as your life will be on hold whilst you are reading it.  This is only the second book in the Roy Grace series but I've already formed quite an attachment to him.  As mentioned in book one, Dead Simple, Roy Grace is still haunted by the disappearance of his wife, Sandy.  The Sandy thread is picked up again when Roy visits mediums in the hope of finding out what happened to her.  Roy has enough to keep him busy with this new case though, especially as he's threatened with a move to Newcastle if he doesn't show results, that's if DS Branson's F1 style driving doesn't kill him first.  I'm getting to know the team better too and I found Norman Potting to be shockingly hilarious - he is Mr Politically Incorrect but he's a good old fashioned copper and an asset to the team if you can keep his mouth shut.

Looking Good Dead is another brilliant instalment in the Roy Grace series and it won't be long before I pick up book 3: Not Dead Enough.  Gripping, addictive, compelling and extraordinary, Looking Good Dead is a superb addition to the exceptional Roy Grace series.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Local Girl Missing - Claire Douglas

Twenty years ago
21-year-old Sophie Collier vanishes one night.
She leaves nothing behind but a trainer on the old pier -
and a hole in the heart of her best friend Francesca.
A body's been found.
And Francesca's drawn back to the seaside town she's tried to forget.
Perhaps the truth of what happened to Sophie will finally come out.
Yet Francesca is beginning to wish she hadn't returned.
Everywhere she turns are ghosts from her past.
The same old faces and familiar haunts of her youth.
But if someone knows what really happened to Sophie that night then now's the time to find out - isn't it?
Except sometimes discovering the truth can cost you everything you hold dear - your family, your sanity and even your life . . .

What did I think?

Told from two different points of view, Local Girl Missing is one of those intriguing books filled with secrets that you just can't wait to unearth.  Along with the fast pace, I loved the two different voices of the story; that of Frankie returning to her hometown when a body has been found and the voice of Sophie who went missing twenty years ago.  Will the truth about Sophie's disappearance be revealed at last?

Frankie and Sophie were friends but, like all friendships, had their ups and downs with Frankie often appearing possessive and jealous of Sophie.  The girls may not have always got along but a secret binds them together as they are the only people who know what really happened when a local boy fell off the pier.  History repeats itself when the same thing appears to happen to Sophie, but without a body nobody is certain what really happened to her.  It is only twenty years later that a body is found and Sophie's brother, Daniel, asks Frankie to return home to identify the body with him.  Frankie is haunted by visions of Sophie and other strange things keep happening to her.  Somebody is watching and playing with Frankie's mind...

This was quite a tense story, my tension often exacerbated by the many ghostly goose-bumpy feelings I experienced.  It is filled with small town secrets and Frankie's return seems to have made them bubble to the surface and burst with catastrophic consequences.  Frankie and Sophie had quite a toxic friendship and the flashbacks to the past made it interesting to see the dynamic between these so-called friends.

Although I didn't really empathise with any of the characters, despite disturbing events in their past,  I found the quality of the writing to be excellent.  It was so atmospheric that I felt chilled to my bones and could almost taste the tang of the salty sea air on my lips.  I'll definitely be looking our for any new books by Claire Douglas and I'll make sure to add her debut, The Sisters, to my reading list.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

BLOG TOUR: No Fourth River - Christine Clayfield

I am delighted to be on the blog tour for No Fourth River by Christine Clayfield.  Christine's story is difficult to read at times but that's what makes it so exceptional, that she has the strength to share this with the world.  You can read my 5 star review below and, if you're in the UK, you also have the chance to win your very own copy of No Fourth River along with some chocolates by heading over to Twitter and retweeting my pinned tweet on 13th March.

Electroshock therapy, child abuse and modern-day slavery… just another day in Christine’s life.

Take a heart-wrenching yet inspiring ride through one woman’s incredible journey that is so compelling that you are simultaneously trying to look away and unable to stop yourself from reading on.

Christine’s father is a wealthy, tyrannical man renowned in the diamond business. At the age of just five, little Christine is cast aside into a boarding school where she is ridiculed for two embarrassing problems. She grows up in a never-ending circle of traumatic experiences both in her boarding school and at home. It culminates into a falling out between father and child that was never fully mended, leading her into a world of promiscuity and alcohol, eventually landing her in a violent marriage.

Driven to the limits of despair and heartache, she creates a plan to escape her world of misery. Will her plan work?

What did I think?

No Fourth River is an exceptional true story that manages to be both devastatingly heartbreaking and powerfully inspirational.  I loved the way that it was written with Christine reflecting on her life after returning to Belgium in 2016 to be at her mother's hospital bedside.  

As Christine talks through her life, my heart went out to her.  She has been brought up in a house with four brothers and I felt like her family didn't know how to cope with a girl.  Perhaps her mother was exhausted after having five children and trying to cope with such a strict and violent husband.  Christine's father was a successful businessman but a very unsuccessful family man.  I think Christine described her father perfectly when she said that 'he detonated' on one occasion when her brother wouldn't turn his music down.  I don't think anybody could have described someone's anger any better.

Christine as a child and teenager, although suffering more than her fair share of trauma, had a lot of love to give and nobody to give it to.  It didn't surprise me that she flirted with boys and turned to alcohol, calling it a 'magic potion' to numb her pain.  'Magic potion' made me laugh at first when you think of the crazy things some people (me) get up to when they are drunk, but then I had a sobering thought (no pun intended) as I remembered the magic wearing off.  As Rumpelstiltskin said:  all magic comes with a price, dearie.  A price that Christine almost paid with her life.

In all darkness there is light, and once Christine said enough was enough it was like seeing a beautiful butterfly emerge from a chrysalis.  She followed her dreams, visualised her future and didn't stop until her dreams were realised.  Although I would take my term 'stop' with a pinch of salt as I don't think for a moment that Christine will ever stop.  Christine's sky is not even her limit, her story isn't even close to ending yet.

Along with Christine's story, each chapter has inspirational quotations at the start and I plan to go back through the book and write them all down.  One that particularly sticks in my mind is from self-help advocate, Wayne Dyer:

"Loving people live in a loving world.  Hostile people live in a hostile world.  Same world." - Wayne Dyer

I've been on a few management courses and often get asked to name an inspirational person.  We've all been there...sitting round a table, not hearing anybody's answer as you're desperately trying to think of someone unique and awesome.  Well, I'm all sorted as next time I get asked to name an inspirational person, I won't have to think twice before naming Christine Clayfield.  Christine is such a brave lady, sharing her story and bearing her soul in the hope that her story helps or inspires even just one person.  Well, consider your book a success, Christine.  I have found my awesome inspirational person and I urge you to pick up a copy of No Fourth River and be inspired by Christine's story too.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Follow the tour: