Sunday, 12 August 2018

BLOG TOUR: The Psychology of Time Travel - Kate Mascarenhas

1967: Four female scientists invent a time-travel machine. They are on the cusp of fame: the pioneers who opened the world to new possibilities. But then one of them suffers a breakdown and puts the whole project in peril...  

2017: Ruby knows her beloved Granny Bee was the pioneer that went mad, but they never talk about it. Then they receive a message from the future – a newspaper clipping reporting the mysterious death of an elderly lady...  

2018: When Odette discovered the body she went into shock. But when the inquest fails to answer any of her questions, Odette is left frustrated. Who is this dead woman that haunts her dreams? And why is everyone determined to cover up her murder? 

What did I think?

The first thing that struck me about The Psychology of Time Travel was the absolutely beautiful cover; it looks like it has been embroidered and I couldn't stop myself running my fingers over to see if I could actually feel the stitches (I couldn't but it didn't stop me from trying).  As impressive as the cover is, what awaits inside is a stunning, vividly imagined story.

The three different timelines mentioned in the synopsis, don't even begin to portray the timespan of the novel, for the pioneers can time travel to any year between 1967 and 2267.  It does take a little getting used to that each scientist can encounter several different versions of themselves without threatening their very existence, which did make me think about the many preconceptions we have about time travel and ultimately nobody really knows what would happen...unless someone has made a time machine and kept it secret.

As well as the time travel there is a very intriguing mystery to solve when Odette finds a body in a locked room on the first day of her new job.  To unearth the mystery we must travel through time to find out who the victim was, who killed them and how they did it.  This is all paced perfectly as we begin to understand the nuances of time travel as Kate Mascarenhas imagines it.  

Ruby's story is simply perfect; hers is a love story that is utterly timeless.  Ruby is the granddaughter of Barbara, the time travelling pioneer who had a breakdown on live tv.  When Ruby receives messages from the future, it awakens Granny Bee's love of time travel and I could feel her enthusiasm through every written word.  On a personal level, Ruby is the third person in Ginger's marriage until Ruby's one true love appears in her life, just like fate had planned it.

Mystery, intrigue and innovation abound in this imaginative, intelligent and remarkable debut.  You really won't have read anything like it before!

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

My rating:

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About the author:

Kate Mascarenhas is a half-Irish, half-Seychellois midlander. She is a qualified child psychologist, dabbling in doll-making and bookbinding in her free time. She lives with her husband in a small terraced house, which she is slowly filling with Sindy dolls.  This is her first novel. 

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Saturday, 11 August 2018

BLOG TOUR: Bad (Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know Trilogy) - ChloƩ Esposito

She stole the life she wanted. Now someone wants to steal it back . . . 

Alvie Knightly may be waking up in the Ritz, but her life is no bed of roses.

Firstly, she has the mother of all hangovers.

Secondly, her beautiful, spoiled twin sister Beth has just been found dead in Sicily - and the police want Alvie for questioning.

And thirdly, Alvie's hot new boyfriend has vanished with every penny of the millions they stole from Beth.

But he picked the wrong girl to mess with.

Alvie will pursue her ex to Rome in a game of cat and mouse that only one of them can survive.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned . . .

But can Alvie get revenge before her crimes catch up with her? 

What did I think?

If I had known that this was the second book in a trilogy, I wouldn't have picked it up but thank goodness I didn't realise this because I have never had as much fun reading a book in all my life.  I think I laughed most of the way through it, often sniggering like a schoolgirl and noting down some of the hilarious names that Alvie calls her boyfriend.  So, as I enjoyed it so much, you clearly can read this book as a standalone and I never felt at a disadvantage at all as there is a quick recap of what happened in the first book to fill in all of the blanks for readers jumping in at book two.

Alvie Knightly is on the run after the suspicious death of her sister, Betta, so she has a really great idea to steal her twin sister's identity.  The police aren't looking for a dead woman, are they?  After getting double crossed by her boyfriend, Nino, Alvie vows revenge and tracks him to Rome - it's fortunate that she installed that tracker on his phone, isn't it?  The scrapes that Alvie gets into along the way had me roaring with laughter and I'm even tittering away now as I think of them.  She is one crazy woman and she's not afraid to go after what she wants...and snatch it from whoever has it, like a spoilt child.

I'm not going to mention the hilarious things that happen, but I have to say that Alvie's decision to get a tattoo and the subsequent inking was one of the funniest things I have ever read.  Whilst a lot of the book is funny, it is also often quite steamy and the sex scenes were a little descriptive for my delicate disposition.  It's par for the course in this type of book so it's to be expected and Alvie is such an extreme character that you never know what, or who, she's going to do next.  There's a lot more to this book than the steamy scenes so I'm loathe to call it 'trashy', however, my fairy godsister loves a trashy novel and I think she will absolutely love this; I'll be passing my copy her way to see what she thinks of it.

Alvie's crime capers almost have a slapstick feel to them which lulled me into a false sense of security, so I got quite a rude awakening at the end...which leads nicely on to book 3.  I'm definitely going to pick up the first book in the series, Mad, to see exactly what Alvie got up to in Sicily and I'm looking forward to reading the final book in the trilogy, Dangerous to Know, when it is released in October.

Full of side-splitting hilarity, Bad is the perfect book to take on holiday this year but be prepared for some funny looks as you won't be able to contain your laughter!  

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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Monday, 6 August 2018

BLOG BLITZ: No Place Like Home - Rebecca Muddiman

What would you do if you came home to find someone in your house?

This is the predicament Polly Cooke faces when she returns to her new home. The first weeks in the house had been idyllic, but soon Jacob, a local man, is watching her.

What does he want and why is he so obsessed with Polly?

In a situation where nothing is what it seems, you might end up regretting letting some people in.

What did I think?

As she is a local North East author, I've wanted to read a Rebecca Muddiman book for a while so I jumped at the chance to read her fifth novel, No Place Like Home.  It took me a little while to get into the book, as the chapters seemed to jump between timelines without notice, but once the pieces started to fall into place I realised what a clever book this is.

I think as readers we are perhaps a little spoiled by having 'then' and 'now' labelled on chapters; sometimes it's obvious and other times it's not.  Well, No Place Like Home falls into the latter category but once you get into the rhythm of the book it does become easier to bear with it, readers!  I have to be honest and say that I didn't have a clue what the heck was going on at first but I was definitely intrigued enough to find out.  

Polly returns to her new home one evening to find someone in her house; her fear turns to anger as she recognises the intruder when he puts the light on.  We then jump back a few weeks to around the time she moved in and she notices somebody across the street watching her as she draws her curtains for the night.  I hate the thought of being watched without my knowledge so I totally empathised with Polly; she should feel safe and secure in her own home, not threatened and afraid.

When we find out that the man watching her is Jacob, an old schoolfriend of Polly's, I could feel my interest levels going up a notch.  They weren't exactly friends at school but when they run into each other years later, Polly is too nice to say no to befriending Jacob...and Jacob doesn't want to be 'just friends'.  I really felt for Polly when she tells one of those little white lies we often tell people to avoid hurting their feelings, only it means a lot more to them than we realise.  I was thinking 'uh-oh, she's said the wrong thing there' as green for go flashed in Jacob's mind.

Now I can't say too much else about the plot without giving the game away, but I just have to say that I have never been more wrong about a character in my whole reading life.  The feelings I had towards this character did a complete 180 as Rebecca Muddiman shows us how very deceptive appearances can be.

No Place Like Home is sinister, unnerving, creepy and utterly surprising.  I felt as if Rebecca Muddiman had got inside my head and pulled all the right strings before revealing how very manipulated I had  been.  Well played, Ms Muddiman!

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:
Rebecca Muddiman was born and raised in the North East and worked in the NHS for many years. She has published four crime novels – Stolen, Gone, Tell Me Lies, and Murder in Slow Motion. Stolen won a Northern Writers Award in 2010 and the Northern Crime Competition in 2012. She is also a screenwriter and was selected for the London Screenwriters Festival Talent Campus in 2016.
Most of her spare time is spent re-watching Game of Thrones, trying to learn Danish, and dealing with two unruly dogs. Sometimes all at the same time.


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Saturday, 4 August 2018

Seeing Scarlett - NC Marshall

Seeing is believing!

DCI Morgan was looking forward to returning to his old career in his beloved hometown. However, when he’s assigned to his first case, to question a young woman, Grace, who claims she has psychic abilities, he is more than a little sceptical!

Grace claims to have seen the murder of a woman – Scarlett, the wife of a wealthy entrepreneur – six months ago. Her murder was supposedly solved, with the culprit in prison, and the case closed, but did it really happen the way the police were led to believe?

As Grace embarks on a mission to discover the truth behind Scarlett’s death, she uncovers dark secrets, shocking revelations, and lies once buried which threaten to resurface.

Think you've worked it out? Guess again!

What did I think?

I love NC Marshall books; they really are fabulous little tales of the unexpected.  Seeing Scarlett is a crime thriller with a hint of the supernatural that I easily read in one sitting.  NC Marshall’s gripping and suspenseful writing draws you in immediately and even though I wasn’t massively surprised at the ending I enjoyed it immensely.

Grace Stone works in a charity shop and one day a beautiful red coat catches her eye, but she gets the biggest shock when she tries it on: a vision of Scarlett Preston’s murder.  Scarlett’s killer is already behind bars so why would Scarlett be reaching out to Grace from beyond the grave?  This isn’t exactly the first case that DCI Tony Morgan expected to pick up when he returned to his native North East from Manchester.  Despite their initial scepticism, Grace is so convincing that DCI Morgan and his colleague DI Taylor feel it is their duty to investigate...and I’m sure they’d hate to admit it, but I think they were a little intrigued.

I often get a bit goosebumpy when I read about anything supernatural and Seeing Scarlett is no exception.  I felt as if Scarlett could appear as a ghostly apparition at any moment and I worried that Grace was in danger, especially when things started happening to those close to her.  Just like Grace, I had no idea of the danger she was really in.  Grace can’t let go of the feeling that Scarlett is trying to tell her something and when she gets further visions she finds herself getting closer to the truth of what really happened to Scarlett…but someone is prepared to do anything to keep that secret well and truly buried.  

Gripping, twisty and completely riveting, Seeing Scarlett is a goosebumpy supernatural crime thriller that had me on the edge of my seat as I hurtled full speed towards the nail-biting conclusion.  NC Marshall’s books are so addictive that once you read one, you will definitely want to read them all.

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

My rating:

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Thursday, 2 August 2018

Turbulence - Bruce McLaren

A young man’s flight of fancy. A series of sensual encounters. An epic journey that will either lead to destruction, enlightenment, or both.

He loves exotic travel and alluring women, preferably together. Embarking on a lifelong journey across the world, a razor-sharp academic delights in highly sensual encounters with the opposite sex. As each experience deepens his philosophy, he experiments on a quest for something more, suffering several hard landings along the way.

But drink, ambition, and tragedy eventually send him down a bumpy path of self-destruction. If he doesn’t moderate his excesses, his original journey will only go in one direction… into a death spiral. Will a determined man learn from his travels or will his hedonistic vision send him crashing down to earth?

Turbulence is a rich and poignant literary novel. If you like sizzling indulgences, intriguing encounters, and anti-heroes with attitude, then you’ll love Bruce McLaren’s extravagant adventure.

What did I think?

I have to admit that I was drawn to this book because of the author sharing his name with a Formula 1 legend and Turbulence does actually have something in common with today’s McLaren – neither of them are very racy!  Despite being described as an erotic novel, Amsterdam Press took a chance on this book and wow, am I glad that they did.  I can totally see the publisher’s quandary; Turbulence does not fit into any one genre and it is difficult to market a book that doesn’t fit into a particular category.  I’m sure this isn’t an isolated incident and I’m so sad that readers could be missing out on some great books so…how about we create a new genre called ‘Unique’.  See, Turbulence fits perfectly there!

Both the author and the ‘nameless’ main character are both archaeologists, which made me wonder whether this was more of a memoir.  As he travels round the world for work, he inevitably meets a beautiful woman on each flight and, more often than not, they end up meeting for sex at their mutual destination.  Bruce McLaren doesn’t go into details, sparing our blushes and leaving most of it to the reader’s imagination.  Although there are a lot of these encounters, by not dwelling on it, you know that this isn’t the main focus of the story.  We are free to discover some of the amazing cities through the eyes of this philosophical man, which I found both educational and fascinating.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I agreed to read Turbulence, but I certainly didn’t expect something so deep, meaningful and thought-provoking.  It was actually really refreshing to read something from a man’s point of view; they’re not as confident as we think, ladies!  It’s a short read at only 194 pages but I found myself pausing after each chapter to savour the sounds and smells of the city we had just virtually visited through the all-encompassing faultless prose of Bruce McLaren.

So pack your passport and pick up a copy of Turbulence; the book that takes you on a virtual tour of the world as you follow one man’s quest to charm the birds out of the sky.

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

My rating:

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Wednesday, 1 August 2018

The Confession - Jo Spain


Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear. It looks like Harry's many sins - corruption, greed, betrayal - have finally caught up with him.
An hour later the intruder, JP Carney, hands himself in, confessing to the assault. The police have a victim, a suspect in custody and an eye-witness account, but Julie remains troubled.
Has Carney's surrender really been driven by a guilty conscience or is this confession the first calculated move in a deadly game?

What did I think?

I just had to read this book after seeing such a buzz on social media and with it being rather unusual; more of a 'whydidhedoit' rather than the more usual ‘whodunnit’.  We’re so used to trying to guess the mystery perpetrator with a big jawdropping reveal towards the end of the book, but Jo Spain turns this tried and tested method on its head and tells us exactly who has committed the crime on the very first page!  This violent crime seems so mindless and unprovoked that you naturally ask ‘Why?’ and then you’re hooked.  You clever lady, Ms Spain!

‘Why?’ is the question that follows us throughout the book from the moment that JP Carney walks into Harry and Julie’s house, beats Harry to death with a golf club and calmly walks back out of the house and in to a police station to hand himself in.  Julie is so shocked and frozen with fear that she is unable to move from the sofa to even check for signs of life...but we’d all be like that wouldn’t we?  I wondered, as I’m sure Jo Spain intended me to, whether Julie was more shocked or relieved by Harry’s death.

Narrated in three distinct voices: Julie, JP and police officer Alice, we delve into Julie and JP’s lives in our quest to find out ‘Why?’.  I found myself continually asking questions and trying to guess the link between JP Carney and Julie McNamara.  Do they know each other?  Is it something to do with Harry’s bank?  Is JP after justice that the court failed to provide?  I’m sure, like me, you will have these questions and so many more as you whizz through the pages of this brilliant book.  Even when you think you’ve guessed what’s going on, Jo Spain has more surprises up her sleeve.

I can see why there's a lot of excitement about The Confession - what an addictive and surprising read this turned out to be.  With more red herrings than Morrison’s fish counter, The Confession grabbed my attention from the very first page and refused to let go until I had discovered every dirty little secret hidden within. This may be my first Jo Spain book but it definitely won't be my last.

My rating:

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Sunday, 29 July 2018

Seven Bridges (The DCI Ryan Mysteries Book 8) - LJ Ross

Ryan's most explosive case yet…

It's been five months since a killer walked free and DCI Ryan is preparing to leave Newcastle to hunt him down - this time, for good. 

But Ryan's plans are scuppered when events take a dramatic turn and he is forced to stay and face his past one last time, or watch a friend suffer the consequences. 

Amid the chaos, another killer is preparing to strike. When the Tyne Bridge explodes, Ryan's team are faced with a frantic race to uncover a deadly foe who won't stop until every bridge is burned, along with everybody on it...

Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunit set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape. 

What did I think?

I have started and abandoned this review more times than I care to remember and the reason for this is that nothing I write will even come close to how absolutely brilliant this book is.  I'm already a fan of the DCI Ryan series but OH MY GOD Seven Bridges took my breath away, almost stopped my heart, made me gasp out loud, brought tears to my eyes, gave me goosebumps and left me completely thunderstruck.  

I'm not going to write too much about the plot, other than what is mentioned in the blurb, but I have to share the moment I read the scene where the Tyne Bridge explodes.  I was reading at my desk on my lunchbreak when I emitted an almighty gasp that made my colleague ask what the matter was.  With tears in my eyes and a shaky voice I said 'the Tyne Bridge has just blown up'.  For a heartstopping second, my colleague thought that I'd read a breaking news alert!  You can't get more realistic than that in fiction!  I can see this becoming the question you ask people at parties instead of (age dependent) where they were when Kennedy was shot or when Princess Diana died.  Do you remember where you were when you were reading LJ Ross' book about the Tyne Bridge blowing up?  

LJ Ross definitely found the golden ticket when she created DCI Ryan and his team; the storylines are outstanding but LJ Ross goes one better than 3D by creating four-dimensional characters that feel as real as you or me.  I mean it goes without saying that everyone loves Ryan, but we also love Ryan's strong and sensible wife Anna, down to earth DS Frank Phillips who is always thinking of his stomach, DI Denise MacKenzie who has been through a lot and has finally found happiness and DC Jack Lowerson who is so lovely and just wants to find love (but he's clueless where ladies are concerned).  I love meeting up with my old friends in Northumbria CID.

LJ Ross takes not just a step but a massive jump out of the 'cozy mysteries' genre into 'crime thriller' with this explosive instalment in the DCI Ryan series.  Seven Bridges is darker, more dangerous and so very realistic that it is a Thriller with a capital T.  I am absolutely certain that this will be the best book I read this do I know this already, you ask...because it is THE BEST BOOK I'VE EVER READ!!!!  There are simply not enough stars in the sky to award this book so I have to make do with giving it five stars.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon