Friday, 27 April 2018

Only Child - Rhiannon Navin


Heartstopping. Heartbreaking. Heartwarming.

Addictive and emotional, but also full of hope, Rhiannon Navin's Only Child is the most heartfelt book you'll read this year.

When the unthinkable happens, six-year-old Zach is at school. Huddled in a cloakroom with his classmates and teacher, he is too young to understand that life will never be the same again.

Afterwards, the once close-knit community is left reeling. Zach's dad retreats. His mum sets out to seek revenge. Zach, scared, lost and confused, disappears into his super-secret hideout to try to make sense of things. Nothing feels right – until he listens to his heart . . .

But can he achieve the impossible and remind the grown-ups how to love again?

Narrated by Zach, Only Child is full of heart; a real rollercoaster of a read that will stay with you long after you've turned the final page.

What did I think?

Oh my word, Only Child completely captured my heart; I felt as if my heart had been ripped out of my chest, given CPR and put back in again leaving scars that will remind me of this beautiful book for the rest of my life.

Written from the perspective of a six year old boy who experiences the devastating event itself and the heart-breaking aftermath of a primary school shooting, Zach is a voice that I will never forget.  I felt my heart squeeze as Zach talked about the sky crying and I almost felt as if I had to be strong for him, as I struggled to hold back the tears that kept threatening to fall.  I don't want to write anything about the story as it could spoil it for others but I will say that Only Child is a book that is very hard to put down and impossible to forget.

I was reminded of the stages of grief as I read about Zach's story and saw how the adults around him were behaving.  From the shock of the initial event to the anger as the parents look for someone to blame and the final acceptance as life goes on.  I compared grief for an adult against grief for a child and although we think children are resilient and quick to bounce back, I think it was good to show Zach's denial and anger coming through.  It's also a stark reminder that little ears hear a lot more than we realise.

I was so completely invested in Zach's story that I felt every single emotion with the characters in the book.  I felt that Zach had a lot to teach us about acceptance and forgiveness but also that it's ok to be upset and angry.  Zach's unique voice, so honest through his innocence, is written completely flawlessly making this a very special book indeed.

Only Child is an absolutely stunning book and I am completely astounded that this is Rhiannon Navin's debut novel.  It's exceptional, outstanding, extraordinary, astounding...in fact it's all of the adjectives I can possibly think of and more!  Only Child is definitely one of my top picks of 2018; even the coldest heart won't fail to be moved by this perfect novel of loss, hope and everything in between.

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

My rating:




Buy it from Amazon

Thursday, 26 April 2018

COVER REVEAL: Needle Song - Russell Day


I've got a fab cover reveal for you today with an added surprise so make sure you read right to the end of the post.  Fahrenheit Press is a new publisher for me and I haven't had the pleasure of reading one of their books...YET!  I have recently added a few of their books to my TBR pile, so watch this space for some reviews coming over the next few months.

The cover being revealed today, and sure to make Twitter go CRAZY, is Needle Song by Russell Day.  



This must be one of the most hypnotic covers I have ever seen and if you think the cover looks good, just wait until you learn what the book is about.


So when you've finished admiring the cover, here's what the book is about.


Spending the night with a beautiful woman would be a good alibi, if the body in the next room wasn't her husband.

Doc Slidesmith has a habit of knowing things he shouldn’t. He knows the woman Chris Rudjer meets online is married. He knows the adult fun she’s looking for is likely to be short lived. And when her husband’s killed, he knows Chris Rudjer didn’t do it. 

Only trouble is the police disagree and no one wants to waste time investigating an open and shut case.

No one except Doc.

Using lies, blackmail and a loaded pack of Tarot cards, Doc sets about looking for the truth - but the more truth he finds, the less he thinks his friend is going to like it.



Sounds great, doesn't it?  So put a note in your diary to pick up a copy when it's released on 30th April.


Now here's a special treat for all of my readers: the lovely Emma at damppebbles.com and the generous folk at Fahrenheit Press are giving people the opportunity to get a free short story by Russell Day in exchange for a Tweet.  So follow the instructions below and head on over to Twitter to grab a copy!




FREE RUSSELL DAY SHORT STORY IN EXCHANGE FOR A TWEET:
Russell Day came to Fahrenheit Presses attention when they asked for submissions for their NOIRVILLE short story competition. A panel of judges placed Day’s stories in first AND SECOND place! Only one of the stories features in the NOIRVILLE anthology which means we’re giving the second story away for FREE, you lucky people!…….(well, free in exchange for a tweet!).

To receive a copy of Russell Day’s award-winning story, make sure you’re following @damppebbles (so you can receive the DM with the download links) and then tweet the following:

NEEDLE SONG by Russell Day (@rfdaze) published by @fahrenheitpress in eBook on Monday 30th April! #NeedleSongBook | @damppebbles.


No retweets, it has to be a shiny new tweet otherwise it won’t count! Any problems then please contact @damppebbles.





About Russell Day:
Russell Day was born in 1966 and grew up in Harlesden, NW10 – a geographic region searching for an alibi. From an early age it was clear the only things he cared about were motorcycles, tattoos and writing. At a later stage he added family life to his list of interests and now lives with his wife and two children. He’s still in London, but has moved south of the river for the milder climate.

Although he only writes crime fiction Russ doesn’t consider his work restricted. ‘As long as there have been people there has been crime, as long as there are people there will be crime.’ That attitude leaves a lot of scope for settings and characters. One of the first short stories he had published, The Second Rat and the Automatic Nun, was a double-cross story set in a world where the church had taken over policing. In his first novel, Needle Song, an amateur detective employs logic, psychology and a loaded pack of tarot cards to investigate a death.

Russ often tells people he seldom smiles due to nerve damage, sustained when his jaw was broken. In fact, this is a total fabrication and his family will tell you he’s has always been a miserable bastard. 



Wednesday, 25 April 2018

How to Fall in Love - Cecelia Ahern


Christine Rose is crossing the Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin late one night when she sees a stranger, Adam, poised to jump. Desperate to help, she talks him into a reckless deal: if he gives her two weeks – till his 35th birthday – she’ll prove that life is worth living.

But as the clock ticks and the two of them embark on late-night escapades and romantic adventures, what Christine has really promised seems impossible…

A novel to make you laugh, cry and appreciate life, this is Cecelia Ahern at her thoughtful and surprising best.

What did I think?

Christine Rose is either very lucky or very unlucky, coming across two men within a month of each other who are determined to end their lives.  Reeling from the effects of Simon Conway's attempt to end his life, Christine, in her own imitable style, is determined to stop Adam Basil from jumping into the river Liffey.  She has just two weeks to make Adam believe that life is worth living - she can do that, can't she?  Let's hope so, or she's agreed to let him go back to jump off the Ha'penny Bridge on his birthday - eek!

There's something so very comforting about Cecelia Ahern's writing - it flows so smoothly like the Liffey itself and there are many chuckles and sobering thoughts along the way.  I loved the character of Christine and how she had a 'how to' self-help book for every occasion, but she doesn't have time to refer to her books to save Adam...she's just going to have to take a leaf out of the book of life.

I thought Adam was quite a complex character who appeared to have everything but happiness in his life.  It just shows you that money can't buy you everything and happiness can be found in the most unexpected place.

How to Fall in Love is full of Irish heart and humour whilst dealing with the very delicate subject of suicide in such a sensitive way.  It reminded me that life is worth living even when we think that all hope is lost...you just never know what's round the corner on the bumpy journey of life.

My rating:




Buy it from Amazon

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

BLOG TOUR: The Man on the Middle Floor - Elizabeth S Moore


Despite living in the same three-flat house in the suburbs of London, the residents are strangers to one another. The bottom floor is home to Tam, a recent ex-cop who spends his days drowning his sorrows in whisky. On the middle floor is Nick, a young man with Asperger's who likes to stick to his schedules and routines. The top floor belongs to Karen, a doctor and researcher who has spent her life trying to understand the rising rates of autism. They have lived their lives separately, until now, when an unsolved murder and the man on the middle floor connect them all together. Told from three points of view, The Man on the Middle Floor is about disconnection in all its forms; sexual, physical, parental and emotional. It questions whether society is meeting the needs of the fast growing autistic section of society, or exacerbating it.

Thought-provoking and thrilling, The Man on the Middle Floor will leave readers talking.

What did I think?

This was a really surprising book for me; from the cover, I expected a bit of an Agatha Christie-style whodunnit but the reader is party to the murders so we know who did it, we just need to find out why.  We learn a lot more than that along the way in this thought-provoking debut by Elizabeth S Moore.

Each chapter is dedicated to one of the three main characters: Nick, the man on the middle floor; Karen the woman above and Tam the man below.  It was really interesting to delve into the lives of these three very different, but equally flawed, characters who live in the same building but have never interacted before now.

Anybody who has a heart will empathise with Nick who has Asperger's.  I know very little about the condition but I can completely understand his need for routine and having everything clean, tidy and lined up correctly.  His story is heart-breaking and so sad to see how early family life can damage a person beyond repair.

Another family damaged beyond repair is Karen's.  Karen has three children, or at least she gave birth to three children but after her marriage break-up she's quite happy to have no further contact until they are independent adults.  Karen would much rather study people than get to know them and she constantly chooses work over family.  Karen may be studying subjects with autism but, in my opinion, she needs to take a long look in the mirror as I think she could make a study of herself.

Tam has just lost his job as a policeman but old habits die hard and he sniffs out something that's not quite right.  He might have picked the clues up a bit quicker had he not been turning to alcohol to drown his sorrows.  Tam seems drawn to Karen but does he just recognise another lost soul?

I loved the way the story of Nick's life was slowly revealed in The Man on the Middle Floor; I had already started to care about him and felt very protective of him when he started his new job in the morgue.  Autism can be so varied that it has an entire spectrum so I don't think for a minute that this is how every person diagnosed as autistic will act.  What The Man on the Middle Floor did for me, is open my eyes to a world that is either black or white for some people; a world where every action doesn't have a reaction, it's just an attempt to bring everything back to its status quo.

I think there'll be a lot of debate about The Man on the Middle Floor, and I think Elizabeth S Moore has taken a very brave step to put the subject of autism on the table - so let's talk about it.  The Man on the Middle Floor is a perfectly crafted story that I think everyone will be talking about this year.

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

My rating:




Buy it from Amazon



About the author:

Elizabeth S. Moore has worked as a journalist since she won the Decanter Young Wine Writer of the Year at seventeen. She has written columns and articles on restaurants, politics, South Africa and all things foodie. She comes from a family that has given her a lot of writing material and is currently finishing her second book, having written the first after completing the Faber Write a Novel course and being approached by fourteen agents after reading an excerpt of her novel to industry professionals. Elizabeth lives in London with her South African husband and has three daughters and a son as well as two lazy Labradors.

You can follow Elizabeth on Twitter: @LizzyMoore19








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Monday, 23 April 2018

The French Adventure - Lucy Coleman


Suddenly unemployed and single, Anna escapes to her parents' beautiful house in France for a much needed recharge – and to work out what she wants to do next with her life now her carefully mapped out plan has gone out the window.

Anna gives herself 6 months to recuperate, all the while helping renovate her parents' adjoining gites into picturesque B&Bs. But working alongside the ruggedly handsome Sam on the renovation project, she didn't expect for life to take an unexpected, if not unwelcome, twist...

What did I think?

What a perfect cover for this heart-warming book; we usually expect amorous couples in a clinch on the cover of chick lit books so it just shows that The French Adventure is setting out to be something that little bit different from the rest.  

I loved the character of Anna - she is strong, talented and, after the first few chapters, single.  Anna knows her own heart and mind, which is why she never responded in kind to the many 'I love you's' that Karl, her soon to be ex, seemed to say so effortlessly.  Feeling betrayed by Karl when he doesn't admit to their boss that they are in a relationship, Anna needs to get away from it all and she has got the perfect location with her parents living in France.

Not one to sit idle and mope over the love she has lost, Anna throws herself into helping to renovate her parents' properties and improving their digital presence.  Anna also has the perfect medicine to get over Karl: working alongside handsome, but deep as the ocean, Sam.  Sam is clearly suffering from heartbreak but any attempt to get close to him seems to push him further away.  Anna's not one to give up easily though and she's as determined to fix Sam as she is to fix up the gites.

This book was a real surprise; there's sunshine and romance but also a bit of mystery and adventure.  I felt as if I was in France with Anna; as I was reading I could almost feel the sun on my face and Ziggy winding herself around my ankles and purring contentedly.  The French Adventure is the perfect summer read.

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

My rating:




Buy it from Amazon

Thursday, 19 April 2018

BLOG TOUR: Rebellious Spirits - Ruth Ball

I reviewed the beautiful hardback of Rebellious Spirits in 2016 and you can read my review here.  I'm absolutely over the moon to open the paperback blog tour with an extract on how to make your own bootleg gin and a fabulous giveaway (UK only) to win your own copy of this excellent book.  I'd love to have a go at distilling my own alcohol although 20 gallons (just shy of an eye-watering 91 litres!!!) is a bit too much for me so I think I'll stick to the pre-bottled version of mother's ruin.





Bootleg Gin Extract – taken from Rebellious Spirits by Ruth Ball

With illegal gin sold from under a stranger’s skirt, you couldn’t be sure what you were getting. Gins had fancy names like White Satin, Blue Ruin, Cuckold’s Delight, King Theodore of Corsica, Flashes of Lightning or The Cure for the Blue Devils, but they were usually more turpentine than juniper. Even the less dodgy recipes for gin – those involving real juniper – were full of toxic ingredients. They were used in all kinds of food and drink at the time because their toxic properties just weren’t known. It wouldn’t be safe to try a truly authentic recipe for bootleg gin, but I have managed to put together a cocktail that should give you some idea of the taste without any of the nasty side effects.

BOOTLEG GIN: THE ORIGINAL
For twenty gallons of gin
Seventeen gallons of spirits one to five under proof. Take one penny-weight and three quarters of the oil of vitriol, one penny-weight and three quarters of the oil of almonds, half a penny-weight of the oil of turpentine, two penny-weights of the oil of juniper berries, mixed with lump sugar and spirits of wine, as before; add to it one pint of lime-water, and one pint of rose-water; use the whole. After you dissolve five pounds of lump sugar, in two gallons and a half of water that was boiled, as before directed, fine it down with the proportioned quantity of allum and salt of tartar.

P. Boyle, The Publican and Spirit Dealer’s Daily Companion (Sixth Edition, c. 1800)

THE ALCHEMIST’S VERSION
1 part vodka
½ part retsina
¼ part amaretto
¼ part neat sugar syrup
part rosewater
½ part water
1–2 drops of juniper oil

Simply mix and serve. But how? With tonic? While this gin would be really lovely with tonic, that wouldn’t be authentic. Tonic wouldn’t be introduced to Britain for more than another hundred years; so while you could drink it with tonic, it would be a little like going to a re-enactment wearing a digital watch. Chilled or with ice? Although this gin would also be excellent shaken over ice with a splash of vermouth and served in a well-chilled Martini glass, historical authenticity will not allow.

Drink it the authentic way. Just add a little water and drink at room/street temperature. If possible, try to throw some mud at an MP, or anyone who looks like they might be rich or important, at the same time. That’s the eighteenth-century way!


- - -


If you like the sound of this book (and who wouldn't?), you can click HERE to buy a copy from Amazon or enter my giveaway to be in with the chance of winning a copy - you've got to be in it to win it!



GIVEAWAY

Win a paperback copy of Rebellious Spirits by Ruth Ball courtesy of Elliott & Thompson.  The giveaway is open to entrants in the UK only and is open for 3 days from 19th April 2018 to midnight on 21st April 2018.  One winner will be chosen at random and contacted via email on 22nd April 2018.  If the prize is not claimed within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen.  GOOD LUCK!




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Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Riot (Saul Marshall Thrillers Book 3) - Richard Davis


Saul Marshall arrives in Atlanta in the wake of a shocking incident: a cop with a pristine record has inexplicably massacred peaceful protesters occupying the iconic CNN Center. But Saul, exhausted from months on the run from the law, fails to put up his guard. 

But when he is visited in the dead of night by a street gang, deploying extreme and seemingly unprovoked violence, Saul is forced to either get his guard up, or perish. And when he discovers that this same gang has already targeted two of his team-mates from his days serving in the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team, striking back against the gang becomes not just a matter of survival, but revenge. 

But once Saul realizes that someone else is calling the shots – a deeply unhinged video-game addict, known only as Red, obsessed with inciting mass civil unrest – he quickly learns there’s a whole lot more at stake.


What did I think?

I'm a huge fan of the Saul Marshall books by Richard Davis and I'm completely honoured to have a character named after me in Riot, the third book in the series.  I've never met the author but, aside from being a robot scientist (how cool), the character he created does surprisingly bear an uncanny physical resemblance to me.  I just want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Richard Davis for bestowing such an amazing honour on me.  So enough about my immortality in print, lets see what Saul Marshall is up to in this third instalment.

Saul, Greg and Thom were all members of the elite FBI unit HRT (Hostage Rescue Team) and when Thom is killed, the two remaining members become targets.  Saul teams up with Rosa, Greg's ex-wife, who works for Homeland Security when riots sweep the USA.  The riots are all being masterminded by uber-gamer, Red, who is manoeuvring people like pawns on a chess board as he turns virtual reality into reality.  Red is after a certain prize: an antique gas mask last seen in Thom's possession, putting anyone who knew Thom in immediate danger.  The question is: can Saul and Rosa stop Red before it's game over?

It actually gives me goosebumps just thinking about events in Riot.  We hear so much on the news about shootings and knife attacks influenced by computer games so I wouldn't be surprised to find the events in Riot replicated in real life at some point.  Or perhaps they already have been...

Riot is a very clever book, but I have to say that it was sometimes a little bit complicated - it's quite technological so anyone who likes gaming and computers will positively love it.  I know my fair share of computer coding but I've never been one for computer games so I did find it hard to engage now and again.  Fortunately, Saul Marshall is such a well-developed character that he maintained my interest when the story sometimes got a bit geeky and with Saul around there are always going to be a multitude of heart in the mouth moments to raise my eyebrows and drop my jaw.

Richard Davis is a highly talented author and I am frequently recommending the Saul Marshall series to other readers.  Riot can definitely be read as a standalone but it will make you want to read the other two books in the series to find out Saul Marshall's back story, so my recommendation would be to read them in order to get the most out of them.  Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens next in the colourful, crazy and unpredictable life of Saul Marshall.  Riot is so shockingly true to life that I defy anyone to read it without getting goosebumps.

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

My rating:




Buy it from Amazon

Buy the full box set from Amazon

Monday, 16 April 2018

BLOG TOUR: Ghost - Helen Grant

I'm delighted to co-open the blog tour for Ghost, the latest novel by Helen Grant.  I'm releasing my review for the blog tour and I think this is a book that will appeal to so many people, especially those with a penchant for gothic tales.


Langlands House is haunted, but not by the ghost you think.
Augusta McAndrew lives on a remote Scottish estate with her grandmother, Rose. For her own safety, she hides from outsiders, as she has done her entire life. Visitors are few and far between - everyone knows that Langlands House is haunted.

One day Rose goes out and never returns, leaving Augusta utterly alone. Then Tom McAllister arrives - good-looking and fascinating, but dangerous. What he has to tell her could tear her whole world apart.
As Tom and Augusta become ever closer, they must face the question: is love enough to overcome the ghosts of the past?
In the end, Langlands House and its inhabitants hold more secrets than they did in the beginning...


What did I think?

I was really looking forward to reading Ghost; the mysterious key on the cover alone gave me goosebumps so I prepared myself for some spine-tingly reading.  It's an unbelievably addictive book; at only 10% in my Goodreads status shows that I found it 'intriguing and spine-tingling' and as the mystery unravels it gets even more interesting.

Augusta is living at Langlands with her Grandmother, Rose.  As a young child, Augusta couldn't pronounce her name correctly so the name of 'Ghost' stuck.  Rose keeps Ghost hidden from outsiders for her own protection as it's 1945 and there's a war on.  When there's some damage to the roof (from German bombers, as Ghost thinks), Tom McAllister arrives with his father to do the repairs.  Ghost secretly communicates with Tom, who thinks that she's the Langlands ghost of the spooky kind...at this point I thought that she very well might be as something wasn't quite right.

When Rose goes into the village one day and doesn't return, Ghost gets completely railroaded when reality hits.  Everything her Grandmother told her is a lie and she is determined to fit all of the missing pieces of the jigsaw together to find out the truth.  Luckily, Tom returns to Langlands to give Ghost the help she needs and we get to experience the purity of first love as Ghost and Tom grow closer together.  For reasons that become clear, I thought Ghost might think about leaving Langlands and it's shady history behind, but it's the only home she has ever known and Langlands has its own hold over Ghost.

One thing that really struck me was how well Langlands had been portrayed through the vivid descriptive writing of Helen Grant.  It felt as if the house itself was a dark and brooding character with hidden secrets.  People from the village stay away from Langlands and its ghost but perhaps Langlands itself is the ghost, it's certainly a shadow of its former colourful life.

Hauntingly beautiful, spine-tingling and eye-poppingly surprising, Ghost is a completely unique and intriguing mystery that shocked and thrilled me.  I'm definitely going to look out for Helen Grant's back catalogue whilst I await her next book.

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

My rating:




Buy it from Amazon



About the author:

Helen Grant writes thrillers with a Gothic flavour and ghost stories. Her first novel, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, was shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal and won an ALA Alex Award in the US. Her other books include the exciting Forbidden Spaces trilogy. 

Helen's latest novel Ghost (Fledgling Press 2018) is set in Perthshire, where she has lived since 2011. When she is not writing, Helen loves to research the lost country houses of Scotland and to visit the sites where possible. Her experiences of exploring these fascinating places inspired her to write Ghost. 

Follow Helen on Twitter: @Helengrantsays 




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Sunday, 15 April 2018

The Book of Mirrors - E.O. Chirovici


MEMORIES CAN BE DEADLY
A brutal murder
It’s been thirty years since Professor Weider was found dead in his stately home. With little evidence to convict a suspect, the case has never been solved.
A buried mystery
Now, a partial manuscript has been discovered that reveals three people were at the house that night.
All three clearly remember what happened. But someone is lying…

What did I think?

I was intrigued by the premise of The Book of Mirrors and true to form it started off quite well but unfortunately it failed to hold my interest.  It's unheard of that I would ever give up on a book but I almost gave up reading The Book of Mirrors.  I persevered but didn't find it very rewarding so I can only come to the conclusion that this book just wasn't for me.

I liked the idea of an unsolved murder and an unpublished manuscript that may hold clues to what really happened that night in Professor Weider's house - a jealous rage, a work-related disagreement or a burglary gone wrong?  The story is told from three different perspectives but each story only adds a little extra snippet to the story we already heard in the first part of the book.  I actually think the third voice of the retired detective would have proven to be the most interesting, however, I had lost the will to live at this stage.

The writing is of a very high standard but it felt too caught up in the little details and it failed to draw me into the story.  I didn't empathise with any of the characters and I found the pace very slow and tedious.  The Book of Mirrors didn't make an impression on me at all and sadly I found it instantly forgettable.

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

My rating:




Buy it from Amazon

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

BLOG TOUR: The Fear - C.L. Taylor


Sometimes your first love won’t let you go…
When Lou Wandsworth ran away to France with her teacher Mike Hughes, she thought he was the love of her life. But Mike wasn’t what he seemed and he left her life in pieces.
Now 32, Lou discovers that he is involved with teenager Chloe Meadows. Determined to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, she returns home to confront him for the damage he’s caused.
But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as Lou tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that she could once again become his prey…

What did I think?

Although many things cause excitement on social media, one thing that is guaranteed to get book bloggers in a frenzy is a new C.L. Taylor book.  There was a lot of hype around her latest book, The Fear, but did it live up to the hype?  OH YES!!!  I feel like a broken record as I proclaimed The Escape to be my favourite C.L. Talyor book but I think The Fear is the best book she has written to date - it's dark, disturbing and exceptional.

Lou was 14 years old when she fell in love with Mike.  Mike showered her with affection, making her feel loved and beautiful but Mike was her older, married karate teacher and he knew exactly what he was doing.  When Lou snuck away from home to meet Mike for a romantic weekend in France, she didn't think Mike had no intention of returning to England.  Kept locked away in hotel rooms, it's a part of Lou's life that has naturally left deep scars in her psyche, resulting in her leaving Malvern for the bright lights of London but unable to form any lasting relationships.

After her latest relationship breaks down, Lou returns to Malvern and finds that Mike is up to his old tricks.  Mike may be 18 years older but he still has a taste for grooming young teenage girls and vulnerable 13 year old Chloe Meadows has fallen under his spell.  Lou can't stand by and do nothing but Mike has quite a hold over Chloe and to some extent he still has a hold over Lou...but Lou isn't a starry-eyed teenager anymore and she wants REVENGE!

You just never know what to expect with a C.L. Taylor book.  There is just so much going on: not only is Lou trying to stop Mike but someone else isn't keen on Lou being back in Malvern and they are intent on messing with her life.  I felt like my head was inside a kaleidoscope (in a good way) with all of the colourful pieces spinning around until the completed picture was revealed and I could finally exhale the breath I didn't even realise I had been holding.  

The subject matter of a repeat offending paedophile is not easy to read about but what C.L. Taylor has done marvellously is shown how easily vulnerable youngsters can get drawn into the net of these despicable predators.  Every time I read a new C.L. Taylor book, I think it is the best one yet but then she goes and does it again!  The Fear didn't just get under my skin, it made my skin crawl; you will be sickened, you will be angry but you won't be able to stop reading The Fear.

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

My rating:




Buy it from Amazon


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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

BLOG BLITZ: Another Mother - Amanda James


Adopted at birth, for years Lu has secretly dreamt of finding her birth mother but childhood bullying has left her with a lack of confidence. When a tragic accident changes her life forever it sets her on a mission to get in contact with her birth mother and find out the reasons behind her adoption.

When she tracks down her mother in Cornwall there is an emotional reunion and the pair begin to form a relationship.

But is everything as wonderful as it appears or has Lu walked into a nightmare?


What did I think?

I've become quite a fan of Amanda James over the years, since discovering the amazing Summer in Tintagel that was published in 2016.  So I was eager to read her latest book, Another Mother - the title alone gave me shivers as I envisaged jealousy and manipulation of a woman caught between her two mothers, however, nothing could have prepared me for the book I was about to read...

Lucinda has an awful situation to deal with when her mother, Hannah, is killed in a road accident.  Her grief brings to the fore something she has been considering for a while: the search for her birth mother.  Although I can understand Lu wanting to fill that mother shaped hole in her life, I found it hard to empathise with her as I felt her timing was way off.  It's not long before Lu leaves her grieving father in Sheffield and heads off to Cornwall to meet her birth mother, Mellyn.

What a character Amanda James has created in Mellyn!  Mellyn seems desperate for Lu to call her 'Mum', despite knowing that the woman that Lu has called 'Mum' all her life has just died.  Ok, so selfish springs to mind, but I thought 'like mother like daughter' with Lu appearing so intent on replacing her adopted Mum so quickly.  It quickly comes to light that all is not as it seems when Lu often sees flashes of anger in Mellyn's stormy eyes and I was pleased that Lu seemed to be a bit wary and decided to keep Mellyn at arms length.  It did feel like Lu had fallen down the rabbit hole and landed in the Mad Hatter's tea party as Mellyn is entirely BONKERS!

With Mellyn being such a volatile and unpredictable character, I was completely intrigued to see how this story would play out.  I loved how Amanda James created a backstory for Lu so we could see how her character developed into the woman she is today.  It resulted in me reading with my fingers crossed for a happy ending for Lu but you'll just have to read the book to find out whether she gets her happy ending or not.  

Another Mother is an intense family drama that will get into your head and under your skin.  It left me feeling quite emotionally wrung out with so many ups and downs and it is the quality of Amanda James' writing that evokes such emotion in the reader.  A compelling read from start to finish.

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

My rating:




Buy it from Amazon



About the author:

Amanda has written since she was a child, but never imagined that her words would be published, given that she left school with no real qualifications of note apart from an A* in how to be a nuisance in class. Nevertheless, she returned to education when her daughter was five and eventually became a history teacher. Then in 2010, after many twists and turns, the dream of becoming a writer came true when her first short story was published. Amanda has written many short stories and has six novels currently published.

Amanda grew up in Sheffield but now has realised her lifelong dream of living in Cornwall and her writing is inspired every day by the dramatic coastline near her home. She has sketched out many stories in her head while walking the cliff paths. Three of her mystery/suspense novels are set there, Somewhere Beyond the Sea, Summer in Tintagel and the Behind the Lie. Rip Current is also set in Cornwall and will be published by Bloodhound Books in April 2018.

Amanda, known to many as Mandy, spends far more time than is good for her on social media and has turned procrastination to a fine art. She can also usually be found playing on the beach with her family, or walking the cliff paths planning her next book.

Amanda's blog - http://mandykjameswrites.blogspot.com/
Twitter - @akjames61
Facebook mandy.james.33



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