Monday 30 November 2015

Crazy Over You - Carol Thomas

When Abby met Simon, a drink in the uni bar lead to keeping in touch, late-night phone calls and intimate catch-ups. It was the start of something special, a love Abby believed would last a lifetime. 

A wedding, two daughters and fifteen years later, Abby's world is falling apart. Having discovered Simon has had an affair, her normally ordered mind is spiralling out of control. Crushed by the betrayal and shocked by her own reaction, she knows she needs to get herself together; she's just not sure where to start. 

With Simon on a mission to win her back and a close friend hiding a secret that could push her further over the edge, Abby finds strength and support where she least expects it. But as she attempts to gain control of her life and make decisions about her future, it may be more than the limits of Abby's mind that are put to the test! 

Crazy Over You is a refreshingly honest portrayal of a woman's reaction to her husband's infidelity while also being a touching story of friendship and love. It is a novel for all those who have experienced a break-up and know that living happily ever after is not quite as simple as meeting your man!

What did I think?

From looking at the cover, you might be forgiven for thinking that this is run-of-the-mill chick lit, but Crazy Over You is a really thought-provoking book examining the effect of an affair on a marriage.  Far from being all man-hating and finger pointing, it really digs deep into Abby's thoughts and feelings.

Abby is understandably crushed by Simon's affair.  She feels hurt, betrayed and angry so it's no wonder that she starts a harmless flirtation with her colleague, Brad the hunky PE teacher.  I wasn't sure of Abby's frame of mind when flirting with Brad, was she trying to get back at Simon or simply wanting to feel attractive?  Either way, Brad turns out to be a really good friend (almost with benefits) and when Simon sees Abby with Brad he gets a touch of the green-eyed monster and realises what he has lost.

The book really delves into Abby's psyche and I thought it was brilliant when she vented her anger by writing a therapeutic letter to 'her'.  As we all know, it takes two to tango so although Abby is angry with the other woman at first, she realises it is Simon she must forgive or forget in order to move on.  I really felt her struggling with her feelings and as she flirts more with Brad I could feel her struggling as she was still in love with Simon.

Abby needs to decide if her marriage is worth saving and just when she has made her decision she finds out that her friend has also been keeping a secret from her.  Abby is so confused and tormented that she thinks the worst and I wondered if she could ever trust Rachel or Simon again.  I'm not giving the ending away but this book is written in such a way that anything could happen and I'm sure it's an ending that will divide opinions.

A very clever, deep and thought provoking story.  For some reason, I didn't really warm to Abby so I can't award 5 stars, but I did enjoy the book as a whole.  It's a really good debut novel from Carol Thomas and I look forward to reading more from her.

I received this e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Forget Me Not - Luana Lewis


When Rose’s daughter, Vivien, is found dead in a suspected suicide, Rose has questions nobody can answer. Wasn’t Vivien living the perfect life? A caring husband, a sweet little girl of her own. 

Or the perfect murder?

But as the police investigation develops, their findings raise new questions. Did Vivien kill herself, or was she attacked? If so, who has something to hide? 

As Rose struggles to piece together the secrets of her daughter’s life, the cracks in the family begin to show. But once Rose knows the answers, there’s no going back...

What did I think?

With a prologue entitled 'The day she died' I knew straight away that I was going to be up all night reading this book, and I wasn't wrong.  I would have read it in one sitting had I not needed to eat and feed my I'm a Celebrity addiction.

The clever hook from the prologue is that we don't know who finds the body of Vivien.  Indeed, what kind of person would find a dead body and not report it?  Could it be the same person who killed her, or was it a suicide as it appears?  So many questions were flying through my mind as I was reading this book and I really couldn't read it fast enough.  Thankfully, all questions are answered with flashbacks telling us what actually happened and I hadn't guessed at all, so it was an amazing reveal for me at the end.

This is written in a way that the reader examines all the main characters and comes up with any number of reasons as to why they might have killed Vivien, whilst still wondering if it was perhaps a suicide.  At different points in the book I thought each one of them could have done it; Ben the husband; Rose the mother; and stalker/femme fatale Cleo - slipping too easily into a dead woman's still warm shoes.  I frequently alternated between murder and suicide as Vivien's mental state is explored.

The story is written from the point of view of Rose, Vivien's mother.  Vivien and Rose didn't have a good relationship and I felt that Rose tried to compensate for this by her emotional attachments to the babies she looks after in the intensive care ward.  Rose also tries to make up for her failings with Vivien by trying to be a grandmother to Lexi, Vivien's daughter whom she has hardly seen since she was born.  I really felt for Rose - she had made mistakes in the past and I hoped she would get the opportunity to right her wrongs.

Forget Me Not is a superb book that really kept on my toes trying to work out what had happened and I would never have guessed the ending in a million years.  

I received this e-book from the publisher, Random House, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Friday 27 November 2015

Rhythm of Deceit (Nighthawk book 2) - Rachael Richey

Two years after finally being reunited, Abigail Thomson and Gideon Hawk are happily married and living in Cornwall with their children. While Gideon is busy focusing his energies on his musical career, Abi makes an unexpected discovery of old diaries dating from 1950. As she and her daughter read through them, the reasons behind Abi’s mother’s destructive actions become much clearer, and they discover a shocking sixty-year-old deception. Meanwhile, Simon Dean, the vengeful ex-drummer of Gideon’s band NightHawk, is about to make life very difficult for them all—again—and he is prepared to go to desperate lengths to achieve his goals.

What did I think?

Having thoroughly enjoyed Storm Rising, the first book in the Nighthawk series, I didn't waste much time moving on to the second book, Rhythm of Deceit.  Wow, was I not disappointed.  A fellow blogger told me that she thought this was better than the first book and I thought, 'surely not' but I have to say that, taking nothing away from the fantastic Storm Rising, I have to agree with her.  I thought Storm Rising was amazing but both books together make this an outstanding series. 

Rhythm of Deceit picks up a few years after Storm Rising, with Abi and Gideon happily married and with a new addition to their family - their little boy, Ollie.  Gideon is just embarking on his solo career in London whilst Abi and Natasha remain at home with Ollie.  During a visit with Abi's dad, he hands over an old suitcase belonging to Abi's mother and I think I was as excited as Natasha as my goosebumps appeared in anticipation of a family mystery to uncover.  Abi's mother's story is told through old diaries belonging to her and her sister, making it so poignant and heart-breaking.  I found myself trying to read quicker through Abi's chapters just so I could find out what happened to Joan and Pauline, but nothing could have prepared me for the ending to their story.  It's simply brilliant and I'm not going to reveal any spoilers, but you really must read it for yourself.

In between chapters uncovering Joan and Pauline's story in the 1950's, are chapters from the present day, with Gideon's ex-bandmate, Simon, trying his very best to break up Abi and Gideon.  Simon is such a repugnant, shady character - he is certainly the character I loved to hate.  He's completely dastardly but so deluded, making him increasingly dangerous.  As the ending of the book approached, my heart was racing as Simon's net closed in - and I braced myself for an explosive ending, as I wondered if it would all end in tears.

With such likeable and colourful characters, Rachael Richey has created a series that is an absolute winner.  I'm really looking forward to Book 3, Cobwebs in the Dark, to see what is next in store for Abi and Gideon.  Through Rachael's wonderfully eloquent and emotional writing, I've definitely become a big fan of Nighthawk!

It's not simply chick lit - with so many twists, excitement and danger it's pure rock-chick lit.  

I received this e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Monday 23 November 2015

Shtum - Jem Lester

Ben Jewell has hit breaking point.

His ten-year-old son, Jonah, has never spoken, so when Ben and Jonah are forced to move in with Ben's elderly father, three generations of men - one who can't talk; two who won't - are thrown together.

As Ben battles single fatherhood, a string of well-meaning social workers and his own demons, he learns some difficult home truths.

Jonah, blissful in his innocence, becomes the prism through which all the complicated strands of personal identity, family history and misunderstanding are finally untangled.

What did I think?

This is such an extraordinary, heart-rending story and I have total respect for Jem Lester for writing about such a difficult subject.  Jonah is the most endearing character I have come across in some time, despite him not uttering a single word.  Jonah is autistic, and I think it was important to point out that there is a vast autistic spectrum; not all autism results in being a number genius, as portrayed in the film Rain Man.

The book explores the Jewell family as they strive to get the best care for Jonah, understandably putting tremendous strain on the family.  When Ben and Jonah move back in with Ben's father, Georg, the story revolves around the three Jewell men and I loved how they interacted with each other.  Georg seems so cool with Ben but so warm and loving with Jonah, so it’s no wonder that Ben feels a little jealous sometimes.

There are some funny moments in the book, mainly revolving around Jonah’s nappy, but as soon as I found myself laughing my heart would break that this lovely 11 year old boy was subjected to such indignity.  Jonah does have an amazing, yet intensely flawed, family supporting him and I was willing them on as they jumped through hoops to get him into the school that they felt was best for him.

Ben is forced to look deep inside himself as events unfold and I felt him emerge a stronger person at the end.  It’s an amazing part of the story when Ben looks into Georg’s family history and uncovers more than he bargained for; he not only learns more about his father, but he can finally alleviate some of the guilt that contributed to the breakdown of his marriage.

This story is sent special delivery from the heart of Jem Lester to the heart of every single reader.  You won’t fail to be moved as you fall in love with Jonah Jewell.  I devoured this book in no time at all and I am certain that it’s a book I will pick up again to read and enjoy.  This is an extraordinary book not to be missed and is sure to be a number one bestseller in 2016.

I received this e-book from the publisher, Orion, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Pre-order from Amazon - to be released in April 2016

Saturday 21 November 2015

The Theseus Paradox - David Videcette

We accepted it was terrorism. But what if we were wrong? What if London's July bombings were the greatest criminal deception of our time?

7 July 2005: In the midst of Operation Theseus, the largest terrorist investigation that the UK has ever known, Detective Inspector Jake Flannagan begins to ask difficult questions that lead to the mysterious disappearance of his girlfriend and his sudden suspension from the Metropolitan Police. Who masterminded London's summer of terror? Why can't Flannagan make headway in the sprawling investigation? Are the bombers the perfect pretext to mask a different plot entirely? Is Jake's absent Security Service girlfriend really who she claims to be?

While hunting for the answers to the most complex terrorist case in British history, one man will uncover the greatest criminal deception of our time. Terror, extremism and fear of the unknown. Sometimes the answer is much closer to home.

The author: David Videcette is a former Scotland Yard investigator who has worked on a wealth of infamous cases, including the 7 July London bombings in 2005. He has twenty years of police and investigative experience as a British detective, specialising in counter terrorist operations and organised crime. He currently consults on security operations for high-net-worth individuals and is an expert media commentator on crime, terrorism, extremism and the London 7/7 and 21/7 attacks. 'I can't tell you the truth, but I can tell you a story...'

What did I think?

I had originally planned to read this book on the weekend of 14th and 15th November, but after the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday 13th I felt a bit too emotional to pick up a book about the bombings on our home soil in 2005.  I was so eager to read The Theseus Paradox that I picked it up a few days later and could hardly bear to put it down.

DI Jake Flannagan is a great character - he's like a mixture of Harry Bosch and Jack Bauer as he pushes, and frequently oversteps, the boundaries.  He's full of insecurities and frequently turns to alcohol and women to drown his sorrows.  It's hardly surprising as his job puts him under such immense pressure and I think anyone who has ever criticised our police force should read this book.  We all know what happened on 7th July 2005 from the events relayed to us on the news, but this book really gives us a highly detailed insight into the police investigation and takes us back in time to 2005.  I was absolutely astounded that I had forgotten about events that were happening around that time.  I'll not refer to which events as it is a crucial part of the amazing twist in this story.

I absolutely loved the way that this book was written.  Each chapter commences with a time and date stamp along with a location, so you really feel like you are following the investigation as it progresses.  As Jake's personal life is explored and we are introduced to his girlfriend, Claire, I did feel like she was hiding something as she seemed very stand-offish.  Claire does have a big part to play in the story and I hope that some of her secrets are revealed in the next DI Jake Flannagan book.

This is an absolutely cracking debut novel - it's fast-paced, a definite page-turner and sometimes shocking (verified by my frequent 'catching of flies' as my mouth gaped open in shock/horror/surprise).  It's a story based on facts; how much is fact and how much is fiction is up to you to decide.

I received this e-book from the author, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Friday 20 November 2015

Alchemy: a story of perfect murder - Chris James

How far would YOU go to bring back a lost love?

Alchemy is a chilling psychological tale of mystery, murder and suspense and reveals an extraordinary decade in the life of a talented, sweet young and innocent genius, as he transforms into a monster. The author, well used to murder and the macabre, was a criminal trial lead detective in the British police.

In Victorian London, England, close to the end of the 19th century, a young artist unravels what he believes to be the formula for immortality and raising the dead, prescribed in an ancient tome: Alchemy

Just when he cracks the secret code for the final components of his elixir, his mistress and inspiration, dies. His life is devastated, his mind fragile, destroyed by drugs. He knows he has the power to revive her. But obtaining the last ingredients means resorting to murder, taking innocent lives.

He just has to decide whose.

His only surviving model, our narrator, infatuated with this painter of her portrait, attends the trial of the century, where she finally learns someone got away with murder. 

Based on a true story? Why not decide for yourself?

What did I think?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book – it’s a dark gothic tale with a twist and is an absolutely stunning debut from Chris James.  It’s a veritable who’s who of the Victorian era with many famous faces making an appearance, including the grand old lady herself.

Jacob is such a tortured character and being an artist as well as an alchemist, it is little wonder that we are encouraged to question his sanity.  Jacob is standing trial for murder and the circus of the courtroom is described wonderfully.  In between chapters of the trial, we find out about Jacob’s life and I soon found myself questioning whether some things were real or imagined.

Whilst reading, I felt fully immersed in the late 19th century and could feel Jacob’s sanity slipping away as his painting became darker and he became more addicted to his potions.  Was he living alone, or with the people with whom he claimed to be living?  My mind was a-whirl as the story progressed and as the end of the trial approached, I could see only one outcome…but what an ending!  There’s an amazing revelation and cliff-hanger at the end, ensuring that the reader will be hot-footing it over to Amazon to pick up Alchemy: turning Silver into Gold as soon as it is released.

It’s such an atmospheric, dark and brilliant book; I was reminded of Jekyll and Hyde, The Picture of Dorian Gray and even Harry Potter, ultimately causing my mind to run into overdrive as it pushed my eyes to read faster.  I really can’t wait to read book 2.

I received this e-book from Booklover Catlady publicity in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Thursday 19 November 2015

Between Here and Knitwear - Chrissie Gittins

These twenty-two cleverly linked stories, written over two decades, trace a life from childhood to middle age. Beginning in Lancashire in the ‘60s and ‘70s, they follow a young girl as she becomes aware of what it means to be a daughter, a sister, a lover and a woman in a family where the relationships are constantly changing. From a disappeared clutch of curlew’s eggs to the last piece of furniture left standing in a home, these bleak and funny stories bolster what is lost into poignant narratives; told with lyricism, economy and wit, they are observed with the unflinching eye of an incisive witness. 

What did I think?

Between Here and Knitwear comprises 22 short stories by Chrissie Gittins but they feel more like chapters than individual stories as they flow so nicely from one to the other.  I certainly couldn’t stop reading one chapter after another as each little snippet of Chrissie’s life emerges.  Each story is so poignant, emotional and heartfelt that at various times I laughed, I cried and I identified with the author.

Chrissie has set out chapters of her life in terrific detail, allowing the reader a glimpse into her thoughts and feelings.  She has picked up on things that others might have taken for granted yet will certainly have experienced in their own life, such as reminiscences of her first period, first kiss and first love.  I found myself getting quite emotional as Chrissie’s parents’ health was explored – her Mum’s frequent hospitalisations and her Dad moving into a care home.  I had really come to care about Chrissie and her family as so much emotion has been poured into this book.  As her writing-style is so lyrical, and Chrissie is not afraid to bare her soul, the reader is in no doubt that they are reading a very special book indeed.

Between Here and Knitwear is a frank observation of life and I’m sure that all women will identify with Chrissie in at least one of the stories – I certainly did.  It led me to reminisce about parts of my own life, remembering events I thought I had forgotten.  This is a book to not simply read, but to experience.

I received this book from the publisher, Unthank Books, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Sunday 15 November 2015

Lost Girls (D.I. Kim Stone 3) - Angela Marsons

Two girls go missing. Only one will return.

The couple that offers the highest amount will see their daughter again. The losing couple will not. Make no mistake. One child will die. 

When nine-year-old best friends Charlie and Amy disappear, two families are plunged into a living nightmare. A text message confirms the unthinkable; that the girls are the victims of a terrifying kidnapping. 

And when a second text message pits the two families against each other for the life of their children, the clock starts ticking for D.I. Kim Stone and the squad. 

Seemingly outwitted at every turn, as they uncover a trail of bodies, Stone realises that these ruthless killers might be the most deadly she has ever faced. And that their chances of bringing the girls home alive, are getting smaller by the hour… 

Untangling a dark web of secrets from the families’ past might hold the key to solving this case. But can Kim stay alive long enough to do so? Or will someone’s child pay the ultimate price? 

What did I think?

Wow!  This really is a fast paced thriller - there's almost no time to draw breath and I'm sure I held my own breath on more than one occasion.  The house could have fallen down around me and I wouldn't have noticed whilst I was reading it.

This is my first Kim Stone book and, although I will definitely be adding the earlier books to my reading list, I didn't feel that I was missing out by not having read them.  I loved Kim, she has such a short fuse and her heart rules her head sometimes so she's not afraid to say what she thinks.  In such a distressing situation as a kidnap, everyone's emotions are on edge but this is not as straightforward as a kidnapping as the parents are required to take part in an auction to save one of the children.  So tempers are frayed, relationships are at breaking point and couples who were once friends become competitors.  The emotion pours out of every page - anger, frustration and despair.

I read this book in 3 large chunks as the chapters are so small you might as well read the next one, then the next one and the next one...although to be honest, I wouldn't have been able to put it down anyway so the chapter sizes are irrelevant.  There are shocks and surprises in store as the story unfolds and I thought I would never get my heart rate back to normal after finishing the book.

An absolutely cracking race against time page-turner - prepare to be up all night!

I received this e-book from the publisher, Bookouture, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

The Girl Who Wouldn't Die - Marnie Riches


When a bomb explodes at the University of Amsterdam, aspiring criminologist Georgina McKenzie is asked by the police to help flush out the killer.

But the bomb is part of a much bigger, more sinister plot that will have the entire city quaking in fear.

And the killer has a very special part for George to play…

A thrilling race against time with a heroine you’ll be rooting for, this book will keep you up all night!


What did I think?

I had read so much chatter and excitement about this book on Twitter, so when I saw that it was free on Amazon for a limited time I rushed straight over and ordered it.  I am happy to report that I was definitely not disappointed.

I loved the setting in Amsterdam as it ensured that there were many colourful and diverse characters in the book.  George is a really strong character and I felt that she was constantly alert for some unknown reason, and when the reason does become clear I couldn't believe that I hadn't guessed.  I think I was hungrily devouring every page and enjoying the book so much that I wasn't trying to work out why the reader was being given certain information.

George links up with Senior Inspector Paul van den Bergen to investigate the murders, not that he has much say in the matter.  They make a really good team and I felt that he ends up becoming a bit of a father figure for her and she gives him a new lease of life.

There are so many heart-stopping moments in the book as George races against time to identify the killer before it's too late.  From about half way through I really couldn't put this book down.  I enjoyed the switch from Amsterdam to Cambridge and there is an almost unbearable tension as an event occurs in Amsterdam while George is in the UK, ensuring that 'just one more chapter' became 'read until it's finished'.

This book deserves all the recognition it has received and if you enjoyed Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy you will definitely enjoy the George McKenzie series.  In fact, I prefer George to Lisbeth and Marnie to Stieg so it's no surprise that I've given this book 5 stars.  It's gripping from start to finish, with a strong believable heroine thereby ensuring that I am chomping at the bit to read the next instalment, The Girl Who Broke the Rules.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Saturday 14 November 2015

The Walking Dead: The Pop-Up Book - David Hawcock, Becca Zerkin, Sally Elizabeth Jackson & S.D. Perry

This spectacular pop-up book from paper engineers David Hawcock and Becca Zerkin forms the perfect guide to the world of AMC's The Walking Dead. Filled with eye-catchingly gory pops, the book takes the reader through some of the most iconic moments from the hugely popular series. The book features five spreads, each with its own central pop that depicts a key element from the show, such as the prison where the survivors found refuge before being attacked by the Governor or the Walker known as "Bicycle Girl" reaching out at the reader. Each spread also includes several smaller pops depicting other memorable elements from The Walking Dead, such as the Governor's "man cave" (including his unique aquarium complete with severed heads), the Well Walker, and much, much more.

What did I think?

I had a real problem writing a review of this book, as every time I picked it up I ended up playing with it.  I can therefore guarantee that it will give any Waking Dead fan hours of fun.  It's a huge book and resembles a ring binder in appearance which gives you some idea of the depth of detail in the 5 pop-up scenes.  The first scene (Bicycle Girl) is shown below to give you an idea of the amazing paper engineering.  As you can see, in addition to the huge 3D pop-up, there are flaps to lift and tabs to pull.  Now you can see why it was so hard for me to put the book down and review it.

I seem to find something new every time I open it; a flap I haven't lifted or a detail I didn't notice.  I can't imagine I will ever get tired of looking at it - my favourite scene is The West Georgia Correctional Facility as the whole building does literally pop-up before your very eyes.  The paper engineering really is second to none, and the detail in even the smaller pop-ups is quite awe-inspiring. 

It's a fabulous gift for any Walking Dead fan, or a gift for yourself if you can't bear to part with it.  At £40 it's not cheap but it really is an absolutely breathtaking pop-up book for adults.

I received this book from the publisher, PGUK, via Twitter in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Never Look Away - Linwood Barclay

A wife's disappearance and a childhood tragedy are linked across the years in No.1 bestseller Linwood Barclay's gripping thriller.
It starts with a trip to a local amusement park. David Harwood is hoping a carefree day will help dispel his wife Jan's recent depression that has led to frightening thoughts of suicide. Instead, a day of fun with their son Ethan turns into a nightmare.
When Jan disappears from the park, David's worst fears seem to have come true. But when he goes to the police to report her missing, the facts start to indicate something very different. The park's records show that only two tickets were purchased, and CCTV shows no evidence that Jan ever entered the park at all. Suddenly David's story starts to look suspicious - and the police to wonder if Jan's already dead, murdered by her husband.
To prove his innocence and keep his son from being taken away from him, David is going to have to dig deep into the past and come face to face with a terrible childhood tragedy - but by doing that he could risk destroying everything precious to him...

What did I think?

I had previously read Broken Promise, which is the first in the Promise Falls series, but I always wondered what had happened to David Harwood's wife.  So when my Aunty Veronica offered to lend me Never Look Away, I read the back of the book and jumped at the chance to read an earlier Linwood Barclay book about David and his wife, Jan.

As with all Linwood Barclay books, there are many twists and turns as we try to untangle the web that Linwood has woven.  When Jan disappears, and the police start to look more closely at David I had no clue what on earth had happened.  Thankfully, David is an investigative reporter so he won't stop until he finds out what has happened to Jan and he can clear his name.

David has a very close relationship with his son, Ethan, and it is clear that both his parents love him very much.  Jan is able to demonstrate just how much she loves Ethan despite her mysterious disappearance.

The link with the past is a very good story and, although I guessed some of it, it was great to see it unravelling as all of Jan's secrets are finally revealed.  There are some eye scrunching moments and gory scenes that ensure each page is turned as fast as possible.

It's fitting that the story starts at Five Mountains, the local amusement park, as this is a rollercoaster of a read by Linwood Barclay.  It answers some of my questions after reading Broken Promise, but I'm slightly confused that Broken Promise is labelled as Promise Falls #1 as clearly it would be beneficial to read Never Look Away first.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Monday 9 November 2015

Storm Rising - Rachael Richey

Frontman of the grunge rock band NightHawk, Gideon Hawk has had enough of the rock star life. He is jaded, disillusioned, and haunted by the memory of an unresolved heartbreak. On a whim, he leaves the band in New York and heads to England in search of answers. After attending the funeral of her estranged mother, Abigail Thomson makes a shocking discovery in her parents’ attic. The still-raw memories that surface, along with even more startling discoveries, force Abi to face a devastating truth that leads to a series of life-changing events. She and Gideon must race against time to reclaim the life stolen from them a decade before.

What did I think?

I didn't really know what to expect when I picked up this book, I certainly didn't expect to have it glued to my hand until I finished it.  It is such an amazing book that completely hooked me from start to finish, leaving me eager to pick up the next book in The NightHawk Series.

The book starts with Abi's mother's funeral and it's clear that there is no love lost between Abi and her parents.  'What on earth could have happened?', I thought - as I was snagged on the first hook.  By the end of Chapter 3, after being introduced to Gideon Hawk and Abi makes a discovery in her parents' attic, I was firmly caught in the net of Storm Rising.

The book flips back and forth between Abi's past and present, making sure that no stone lies unturned as Abi's story is fully revealed. As this is a book that I would highly recommend reading, I can't write any more about the story without spoiling it for others.  There are some terribly heart-rending moments which brought many a tear to my eye (happy or sad tears, I'm not saying), showing how emotionally involved I was in the story.  I loved Abi, Gideon and Judy - despite fame and the passage of time, they still feel the same about each other as they always did.

This book has everything a girl could want - first love and teenage heartbreak; family secrets and backstabbing friends; old relationships and new beginnings.  Rachael Richey has written a very poignant story touching on some very difficult subjects.  It is written in such a way that a surprise or a shock could turn up on any page when it is least expected.  This is an exceptional debut novel and I'm really looking forward to reading book 2, Rhythm of Deceit.

I received this e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Plaint for Provence: 1152: Les Baux (The Troubadours Quartet Book 3) - Jean Gill

Summoned to the court of Les Baux, Estela and her lover, Dragonetz, are embroiled in two rival claims for power as their feuding liege lords gather in Provence. Although Estela is reluctant to leave her idyll with her young child Musca, and her pursuit of Arabic medicine, she welcomes the chance to show her musical skills and to support Dragonetz, who must use his swordsmanship to play peacemaker.

The visit of the Comte du Barcelone to Les Baux sparks bitter memories of the recent civil war and Lady Etiennette des Baux has no intention of ceding to her overlord. Nor does she plan to remain a widow. With good friends on both sides, Dragonetz weaves a precarious path through the rival factions at court where an uneasy truce prevails behind the chivalry of hunt and tournament.

Meanwhile, Estela faces her own demons. Confronted with her childhood abusers, threatened and attacked, she confides in her friends. Unfortunately, one of those friends is Dragonetz' worst enemy and Estela has no idea of what he is capable. 

In this third volume of the Troubadours Quartet, Jean Gill, the 'master of historical intrigue', continues to weave the gripping adventures of Dragonetz and Estela seamlessly into real historical events. Medieval France comes alive in all its facets, from healing with leeches to training a goshawk.

What did I think?

This is another fantastic instalment of The Troubadours Quartet: full of intrigue and swashbuckling action.  As this is the third book in the series, I really feel like I know Estela and Dragonetz but yet they continue to surprise me.

As with the other books in the series, Song at Dawn and Bladesong, Plaint for Provence gives us another glimpse into medieval life. Estela is now becoming proficient at practising medicine and she even adheres to the Hippocratic Oath.  I found her use of herbs really fascinating and it's almost like seeing the origin of complementary medicine.

There is a lot happening in this book so it races along at quite a pace.  Estela comes face to face with her father and step-mother for the first time since she ran away, Dragonetz gets a marriage proposal and there's a breathtaking tourney.  I really enjoyed Estela's chance meeting with the Gyptian who is now a beekeeper in a remote rocky area.  The Gyptian gives Estela more puzzles to ponder and I never would have imagined what happens when Estela returns later to pay another visit - suffice to say I will remember that scene for quite some time!

Nici, Estela's big white dog, makes several appearances, I'm pleased to say.  He has become almost as important a character as Estela or Dragonetz.  The ending is brilliant and it was only fitting that Nici played such a big part in the final scene that resulted in a massive gasp from me and left me chomping at the bit for the next instalment, wondering if Estela will ever receive Geoffroi's gift.

The Troubadours Quartet is a fantastic series for lovers of historical fiction, especially as it is so unusual for books to be set in the medieval period.  It is written in such a manner that it fully immerses the reader into the period, and as it refers to actual historical people and events it is quite easy to forget that you are reading fiction.

I received this e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: