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

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Don't Wake Up - Liz Lawler

Alex Taylor wakes up tied to an operating table. The man who stands over her isn't a doctor.

The choice he forces her to make is utterly unspeakable.

But when Alex re-awakens, she's unharmed - and no one believes her horrifying story. Ostracised by her colleagues, her family and her partner, she begins to wonder if she really is losing her mind.

And then she meets the next victim.

So compulsive you can't stop reading.

So chilling you won't stop talking about it.

Don't Wake Up is a dark, gripping psychological thriller with a horrifying premise and a stinging twist . . .

What did I think?

There is an abundance of psychological thrillers out there with the emphasis on police procedures, so Don't Wake Up was something so completely different as it was set in a hospital.  I was not surprised to learn that Liz Lawler had a long-standing career as a nurse as this was so procedurally accurate that I felt as if I was in the hospital at times.

Alex is a popular doctor in a busy A&E department, but one evening as she leaves work to meet her boyfriend she finds herself on an operating table.  With her legs in stirrups she feels violated but then next thing she knows she is found fully dressed in the car park so nobody believes her story.  When another apparent victim appears in casualty, Alex knows she didn't imagine what happened to her but more and more evidence seems to point at Alex being unhinged and dangerous.  Something happened in Alex's past that she doesn't like to talk about but it might just hold the key as to the identity of the person who has set out to destroy Alex.

Don't Wake Up is a really enjoyable, fast-paced medical thriller.  Alex is a character that you can see falling apart in front of your eyes and, as a reader, you are helpless to stop it.  I wanted to shout: 'I believe you, Alex!' as she felt so very alone.  I could have given her boyfriend, Patrick, a good slap as he doesn't even hide the fact that he doesn't believe her.  What a detestable man - as a vet, I do hope he was kinder to animals than he was to someone he was supposed to love.  It just shows what great characters Liz Lawler has created to make me display such feelings.

If you're looking for a different thriller, I'd definitely recommend Don't Wake Up, although I definitely wouldn't give it to somebody to read whilst in hospital.  

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The Birthday That Changed Everything - Debbie Johnson

She wanted a birthday surprise, just not the one she got…

The last thing Sally Summers expected from her husband on her special day was that he’d leave her for a Latvian lap dancer half her age. So with her world in tatters, Sally jets off to Turkey for some sun, sea and sanctuary.

The Blue Bay resort brings new friends and the perfect balm for Sally’s broken heart in gorgeous Dubliner James. He’s just the birthday present she needs. And when the chemistry between them continues to spark as the holiday ends, Sally wonders if this is more than just a summer fling.

But James has scars of his own and Sally isn’t quite ready to turn her back on her marriage. This birthday might have changed everything, but what will the next one bring?

What did I think?

I've had this book on my TBR for quite some time and if I'd known how HILARIOUS it was going to be, I would have read it a lot sooner.  I am guilty of judging a book by it's cover in this case as I took from all the pink that it was going to be a bit of no-brainer chick-lit.  Don't get me wrong, I love the cover and it actually fits the story very well but I have to be in the mood for chick-lit, hence the delay in reading it.  So before I dig myself into a very big hole, and Debbie Johnson pours sand on my head, here's what I thought about the book.

The Birthday That Changed Everything is hilarious from the start whilst dealing with a heartbreaking storyline for Sally.  She has received an email from her husband, Simon, telling her that he is leaving her but asking her to pack his bag and iron his shirts for him before he goes.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr what a total @&$£%0!£.  As if that wasn't a big enough kick in the virtual nuts, Sally is about to turn 40 and Simon has run off with a 19 year old Latvian lapdancer.  So she packs her bags and heads off to Turkey with her two teenage kids - scary Lucy and loveable big-kid Ollie.

After a mix up with the cases, Sally's holiday doesn't get off to the best start but being dressed as Naughty Nurse Nancy is quite an icebreaker.  She immediately fits in with a crowd of people who visit Blue Bay every year.  One of the crowd, James, is a mouthwatering piece of eye candy and he certainly got my heart racing every time he made an appearance.  He definitely wakes up Sally's snoozing libido but she's still reeling about Simon and doesn't want a holiday romance.  It's not long before James wears down her resistance but as time goes on both ex-partners reappear to put a spanner in the works.  With men literally cock-fighting over her, who will win Sally's heart?

Honestly, this must be the MOST HILARIOUS book I have ever read, although I did shed a few tears as the sun set on one of these wonderfully colourful characters that I had got to know so well.  There are so many fabulous characters but I always think it's funny that wherever you go there always seems to be a Geordie, so it was great to see Andrew the hunky Geordie firefighter make an appearance although I'm not sure which side he was batting for...  

I guffawed, chortled, snorted and howled through the whole story, mainly due to Lucy and her incendiary outbursts, known as 'proper radgies' here in the North East.  She scared the bejeezus out of me but I think she was my favourite character in the end.  I really would not have taken so long to read this if I'd known how funny it was going to be, and I should have known as it's not my first Debbie Johnson book.  All good things come to those who wait but fellow book lovers, don't make the same mistake as me - read this book now!  Make sure that you wear two pairs of knickers whilst reading The Birthday That Changed Everything as you are guaranteed to pee your pants.  

A perfect feel-good book for rain, hail or shine - escape to Turkey with Debbie Johnson and be prepared for some proper belly laughs.  

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Monday, 7 August 2017

Watch the Lady (The Tudor Trilogy #3) - Elizabeth Fremantle

Penelope Devereux is a legendary beauty in the court of Elizabeth I, with a smile that would light up the shadows of hell. But it's not just her looks which have won her favour with the Queen wing; her canny instinct for being in the right place at the right time, and her skilled political manoeuvrings under the guise of diplomacy, have rendered her a formidable adversary to anyone who stands in her path.

Including Elizabeth.

For Penelope must secure the future of the Devereux dynasty at whatever cost. Even treason. And the Queen, a woman she holds responsible for the death of her father, the exile of her mother and her failure to marry the one man she ever truly loved, is just one more pawn in a deadly game. Walking the knife-edge of court, whilst ensuring that her reckless brother Essex remains the only star in the Queen's firmament - and out of the Tower - Penelope must plan for the inevitable succession of an ailing monarch.

But her secret letters of friendship to a foreign King - one who has a strong claim to the English throne - could see her illustrious family in the gutter and her own head on the block. It would only take a single mistake, a slip of the tongue, an intercepted message for Penelope to become the architect of her downfall.

In a world where sister is turned against brother, husband against wife, courtier against queen, the rules of the game are forever changing.

What did I think?

I think it's safe to say that Elizabeth I would not have liked this book as she is not the star of the show, instead it is someone I had never heard of: Penelope Devereaux.  I had, however, heard of her famous brother: the queen's favourite, Essex.  I do love to read both fiction and non-fiction set in the Tudor period and it does seem to be a popular topic with lots of authors, but what makes this stand out from the crowd is the main character, Penelope.

Penelope is the queen's goddaughter and also one of her favourite maids; she is such a strong character and is never afraid to stand up to Elizabeth, no doubt because Henry VIII's blood also flows through Penelope's veins.  For Penelope's grandmother, Catherine Carey, was reputed to be the child of Mary Boleyn and Henry VIII.  Scandal continues to follow Penelope's ancestors as her mother is Lettice Knollys who was cast out of Elizabeth's court after she secretly married one of the queen's favourites, Robert Dudley.

Like all maids in the Tudor court, Penelope is subject to an arranged marriage.  At one point she was promised to Philip Sidney, and although the marriage never came to fruition she never stopped loving him and was infact the muse for some of his poetry.  Instead, Penelope marries Lord Rich but it is a loveless marriage and they strike an unconventional deal that will leave Penelope free to follow her heart, wherever it may take her.

With well known names from the Tudor Court, including Elizabeth I, Lettice Knollys, Charles Blount, Essex, Sir Walter Ralegh and Francis Bacon, this is a story of scandal and intrigue with deceit and backstabbing a-plenty as people jostle for position.  Like a Shakespearean play, with the bard himself making a brief appearance, there are a lot of characters so I think it could have benefited from a character list at the beginning or end.  It was nothing that google couldn't fix as I wracked my brain for the history behind certain well-known names.

There's treachery afoot in the Tudor Court and with so many people under suspicion you can't keep your eye on them all, so make sure you Watch the Lady.  Definitely recommended for historical fiction lovers as Elizabeth Fremantle certainly gives Philippa Gregory a run for her money.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Sunday, 6 August 2017

The Honeymoon - Tina Seskis

There's trouble in paradise . . .

For as long as she can remember, Jemma has been planning the perfect honeymoon. A fortnight's retreat to a five-star resort in the Maldives, complete with luxury villas, personal butlers and absolute privacy.

It should be paradise. But it's turned into a nightmare.

Because the man Jemma married a week ago has just disappeared from the island without a trace. And now her perfect new life is vanishing just as quickly before her eyes.

After everything they've been through together, how can this be happening? Is there anyone on the island who Jemma can trust? And above all - where has her husband gone?

What did I think?

Holy cow!  How on earth do I review a book such as The Honeymoon?  It is abso-blooming-lutely FREAKING AMAZING!!!  I took a quick look at it one evening and ended up finishing it the next day as I was hooked as soon as the plot twisted at the end of part 1 and then completely blown away by the ending.

Jemma isn't exactly a likeable character but that is part of the beauty of the whole book.  We are introduced to her as she meets her boyfriend on a blind date when her friend sets her up on an internet dating site.  Almost from the moment she meets him, she is planning how and when she can break up with him.  What a total b*tch!  Next thing you know she is off to paradise, aka the Maldives, for her honeymoon and she is barely speaking to her husband.  Trouble in paradise doesn't even come close!  When her husband goes missing, it isn't long before the spotlight turns on Jemma - unable to hide their bickering and misery from other holidaymakers, they weren't your traditional newlyweds.

I was trundling along for the first quarter of the book, just getting to know the characters and wondering what direction it was going then BAM!  WTF?!?  Oh Ms Seskis you are one clever word mistress.  So after I recovered I put on my literary running shoes and raced through the rest of the story, only briefly stopping to catch my breath after one almighty exclamation of horror.  Talk about giving me goosebumps!

This is one EXCELLENT book.  I literally exclaimed out loud and have difficulty writing about this book without thinking of THAT moment.  I am still completely gobsmacked and I'm sure this book will be in my Top 20 of 2017.  People may think this is a romantic book but they couldn't be more wrong - it ends up being the honeymoon from hell for Jemma, with part of me thinking that she perhaps got her just desserts in the end.

The Honeymoon is stomach-clenchingly brilliant, although you perhaps don't want to read it around the pool on your holiday.  I really can't recommend it highly enough for psychological thriller fans who think they've seen it all - you ain't seen nothin' yet!

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Saturday, 5 August 2017

A Mind to Kill - John Nicholl

The hunters become the hunted…

She watched as he slowly approached the room and stopped for a moment, seemingly weighing up his options. And then she called out in a hushed, well-practised childlike whisper she’d perfected over time and come to love infinitely more than any living person. ‘I’m in here. Come on. I’m in here. Come and play with me. I’ve been waiting for you…’

When Rebecca's childhood abuser avoids prosecution, it sets her on a path to revenge, revenge on any man who preys on the innocent.

Twenty-three-year-old Rebecca poses as a child online and sets her trap, luring one predatory sex offender after another to their deaths.

When a severed head and other male body parts are found washed up on a windswept estuary beach, the police begin their investigation.

The internationally bestselling author of White is the Coldest Colour is back with a heart-racing, electrifying psychological thriller packed with suspense.

Brilliantly gripping, A Mind To Kill will have you hooked from the very first page and holding your breath to the heart-stopping and shocking ending.

What did I think?

Never one to be afraid of tackling difficult subjects, John Nicholl's latest novel is set around grooming on the internet BUT with a twist.  On this occasion, roles are reversed as the paedophiles are lured into a web from which they can't escape.  A web woven by 23 year old Rebecca, who was abused as a 6 year old child and saw her abuser go unpunished and walk free.  Rebecca poses as a little girl online and selects her victims with care.  Only the most deviant and disgusting men will be invited to walk into her carefully planned trap but one thing is certain, they won't be walking back out.

"Won't you come into my parlour?" said the Spider to the Fly.

Rebecca blames the detective who was in charge of her case for it all falling apart.  Known by his workmates as Grav, he's a bit of a wreck of a man these days.  Rebecca is closer to Grav than he realises and only he can provide the missing piece of the jigsaw to finally put Rebecca's tortured mind at rest.

It is a subject that is difficult to read at times, but that's what makes John Nicholl's books so real.  Some of the torture and dismemberment scenes are quite gruesome and I almost read it with one eye closed, but it didn't put me off reading it in the slightest.  Rebecca has suffered so much, and continues to suffer - her abuser definitely broke her and in her eyes her vigilante acts are stopping other little girls from being broken by these sick men.

Kudos to John Nicholl for tackling such a difficult subject that many people would shy away from.  It's no good burying our heads in the sand - these things are happening in the world now!  Yes, this is fiction but parts of it are shockingly very real indeed.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

They All Fall Down - Tammy Cohen

Hannah had a normal life – a loving husband, a good job. Until she did something shocking.

Now she’s in a psychiatric clinic. It should be a safe place. But patients keep dying.

The doctors say it’s suicide. Hannah knows they’re lying.

Can she make anyone believe her before the killer strikes again?

What did I think?

I could not contain my excitement when I received a copy of Tammy Cohen's new book, They All Fall Down.  I have been a fan of Tammy Cohen's writing since reading The War of the Wives many years ago so this book literally dropped onto the doormat and into my hands without even making a brief visit to the TBR pile.

I knew I was going to love it from the start as the first page reminded me of Alice in Wonderland's 'we're all mad here' and as it's set in a psychiatric institution I did find this rather amusing.  Amusing as Hannah is a lot more sane than she realises and I was desperate to learn why she had been incarcerated.  As my mind kept asking the same question: 'What happened to her baby, Emily?'  Such a fine hook from Ms Cohen as I greedily took the bait and raced through the story, uncovering more than I ever expected.

Not only do we have Hannah's story to unravel, but suddenly patients appear to commit suicide.  Hannah is sure that something untoward is happening, but who will believe her - she's mad, isn't she?  Part of me wondered if it was all in Hannah's head but the storyline is SO much better than that.  It went in directions I never even saw coming and then suddenly Hannah is next on the kill list.  Will her family get there in time to save her?  Eeeeeek!

What a great storyline - it's like a study of the human mind that plays with your mind.  I could have quite easily questioned my sanity at times, as Tammy Cohen continued to surprise me.  You're always guaranteed a good read with one of Tammy Cohen's books and They All Fall Down is no exception.  This is surely set to rocket up the charts - you'd be mad not to read it.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon