Sunday 26 February 2017

BLOG TOUR: Before the Rains - Dinah Jefferies

A romantic, heart-wrenching tale of love against the odds from the Number One Sunday Times bestselling author
1930, Rajputana, India. Since her husband's death, 28-year-old photojournalist Eliza's only companion has been her camera. When the British Government send her to an Indian princely state to photograph the royal family, she's determined to make a name for herself.
But when Eliza arrives at the palace she meets Jay, the Prince's handsome, brooding brother. While Eliza awakens Jay to the poverty of his people, he awakens her to the injustices of British rule. Soon Jay and Eliza find they have more in common than they think. But their families - and society - think otherwise. Eventually they will have to make a choice between doing what's expected, or following their hearts. . .

What did I think?

This is the second Dinah Jefferies book that I have read and on both occasions have been swept away to the beautiful locations described in the book.  Before the Rains, like the Tea Planter's Wife, is absolutely oozing with colour, sounds and smells of exotic imperial India.  You often hear people say that 'I closed my eyes and I was there' but with Dinah Jefferies my eyes were wide open as she took me on a journey to 1930's India.

The book starts with a tragedy for Eliza as she leans over the balcony to catch a glimpse of her father in a procession into the city of Delhi.  As he comes into view, Eliza gets her final glimpse of her father as she witnesses his death.  Eighteen years later, Eliza returns to India as a photographer on assignment to photograph the royal family of Juraipore.  Eliza doesn't want to get staged shots of the family in stiff poses, but rather wants to capture the natural flow of life in the castle.  Eliza soon becomes friendly with the mysterious and alluring second son, Prince Jay, as he attempts to create an irrigation system before the rains come.

Eliza has a secret that she tries to keep from the royal family - she is a widow.  As with all secrets, this secret gets out quite quickly as the walls in this castle really do have ears.  In England nobody would bat an eyelid at this but in India, where women are tasked with ensuring the health of their husband, Eliza is seen as unlucky and must be chaperoned at all times.  As Eliza inevitably grows closer to Jay, their relationship has the potential to create a royal scandal - you can almost see the headlines: The Prince and The Widow.  In the end, will Jay chose love or duty?  With many people trying to put a stop to their relationship, do they even stand a chance?

Before the Rains is another fabulous saga from Dinah Jefferies.  It is filled with secrets, intrigue, skulduggery and romance.  Eliza is an amazing trouser-wearing heroine, pushing the boundaries of what was expected of women in that era.  She is such a strong and vibrant character that she breathed life into every page.  A colourful, vibrant epic that I highly recommend.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Follow the tour:

Saturday 25 February 2017

Little Girl Lost - Carol Wyer

Her breath rose and fell in fearful gasps but it was too late. She could already see what she dreaded most. The back seat was empty.

Her little girl was gone.

Abigail lives the perfect life with her doting husband and adorable baby Izzy. But someone knows a secret about Abigail and they want the truth to be told.

When Izzy is snatched from a carpark, it becomes a case for Detective Robyn Carter.  Someone has been sending threatening messages to Abigail from an anoynmous number.  What is Abigail hiding?

Robyn’s instincts tell her there’s a connection between Izzy’s abduction and two murders she is investigating. But the last time she acted on impulse her fiancĂ© was killed. To break this case and earn her place back on the force, she must learn to trust herself again – and fast. Robyn is on the hunt for a ruthless serial killer. And unless she gets to the twisted individual in time a little girl will die ….

What did I think?

What a brave move from Carol Wyer to make the transition from writing funny, lighthearted books such as the fabulous Life Swap to something so intensely dark and disturbing in Little Girl Lost.  A move which completely paid off, I might add.  I found Little Girl Lost quite uncomfortable to start with as there are some disturbing opening scenes but real life is unfortunately filled with such darkness.

There are a lot of characters at the start and I found it slightly confusing, but out came my trusty notebook to jot down all the relevant names.  In a 'before' setting we are introduced to Alice who's about to become the stepdaughter of actor Paul Matthews.  Paul has two children of his own: sick and twisted Lucas and goth-girl Natasha.  Alice still hears the voice of her dead father speaking to her through her toy bunny and when something terrible happens to Alice and her mother's relationship with Paul breaks down, she only has her bunny for comfort as nobody believes her.

Meanwhile in a 'now' time setting, Abigail is happily married to Jackson and they have a beautiful baby called Izzy.  Abigail starts to get texts, emails and phone calls telling her that Jackson is having an affair.  She doesn't believe it at first, but then photographic evidence turns up in her inbox.  Her tormentor takes things a step further and tries to alienate Abi's friends by hacking her Facebook account and posting vicious messages on friends' pages purporting to be from Abi.  It becomes clear that her tormentor must be somebody who is close to her and has access to her house...

So what does Abi have to do with Alice, you might ask.  Well, Carol Wyer has managed to cleverly weave an intricate web of secrets and lies that ties your brain in knots!  I haven't even mentioned the excitement of bodies starting to turn up with toy rabbits placed at the scene.  Alice is back for revenge and she may very well be hiding in plain sight.  Nobody is safe, however tenuously linked to her past, in her quest for retribution.

A cracking first thriller from Carol Wyer that had me reading late into the night - I absolutely could not rest until I had discovered all the dark secrets of Little Girl Lost.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Friday 24 February 2017

BLOG TOUR: Secrets We Keep - Faith Hogan

Two distant relatives, drawn together in companionship are forced to confront their pasts and learn that some people are good at keeping secrets and some secrets are never meant to be kept.

A bittersweet story of love, loss and life. Perfect for fans of Patricia Scanlan and Adele Parks.

The beautiful old Bath House in Ballytokeep has lain empty and abandoned for decades. For devoted pensioners Archie and Iris, it holds too many conflicting memories of their adolescent dalliances and tragic consequences – sometimes it’s better to leave the past where it belongs.

For highflying, top London divorce lawyer Kate Hunt, it’s a fresh start – maybe even her future. On a winter visit to see her estranged Aunt Iris she falls in love with the Bath House. Inspired, she moves to Ballytokeep leaving her past heartache 600 miles away – but can you ever escape your past or your destiny?

What did I think?

If you haven't come across Faith Hogan yet then boy, are you missing a treat.  I read her debut, My Husband's Wives, and was completely blown away by the effortless warmth of her writing that I knew from just one book that I had become a Faith Hogan fan! Faith is definitely an author to get excited about so I was eager to read her second book, Secrets We Keep

Kate has a heart-breaking story in her past which has seen her throw herself into her work and become one of the top divorce lawyers in London.  Her last relationship saw her very publicly being left at the altar and she has found it difficult to trust men again - so you can see why she has become a ruthless and much sought-after divorce lawyer!  On a visit to her roots in Ireland, she finds an abandoned bath house and decides to renovate and reopen it, with a little help from her family and new friends.

When the rumour mill starts churning about a buyer for the old ruined castle in Ballytokeep, Kate could never have imagined that her past would come back to haunt her.  Or is it fate?  As Kate begins to unearth some well buried family secrets, she realises that her roots go a little deeper in Ballytokeep than she originally thought.  Home is indeed where the heart is.

I have to say that the setting is simply amazing - the quiet (fictional) coastal town of Ballytokeep in Ireland.  Now being a coastal girl myself, I found it easy to visualise the location and could almost taste the salt on my lips and feel the wind in my hair.  I loved the thought of a ruined castle on the cliffs and an abandoned bath house by the shore.  I was reminded of my love for fairytales and how it's possibly every little girl's dream to live in a castle.  Faith Hogan has successfully captured this magical essence and moulded it into a modern day fairytale with real-life heartbreak, secrets and the inevitable (and much sought after) happy ending.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Follow the tour:

Thursday 23 February 2017

BLOG TOUR: Lie With Me - Sabine Durrant

Lie With Me is a book that I still think of now, several months after I have read it.  It reminds us of how easy it is to become embroiled in a lie and how you often become some wrapped up in the lie that the truth is very difficult to discern.  I am delighted to re-release my review as part of the Lie With Me blog tour.

It starts with a lie. The kind we've all told - to a former acquaintance we can't quite place but still, for some reason, feel the need to impress. The story of our life, embellished for the benefit of the happily married lawyer with the kids and the lovely home.
And the next thing you know, you're having dinner at their house, and accepting an invitation to join them on holiday - swept up in their perfect life, the kind you always dreamed of...
Which turns out to be less than perfect. But by the time you're trapped and sweating in the relentless Greek sun, burning to escape the tension all around you - by the time you start to realise that, however painful the truth might be, it's the lies that cause the real damage...
... well, by then, it could just be too late.

What did I think?

From the title, it's obviously clear that the reader is about to be plunged into a web of lies but what isn't clear is how intricate this story is.  The characters are all introduced and first impressions are made but nothing is quite what it seems.  This really is a unique book, I can't believe how much I enjoyed it when I didn't like one single character - that's the whole charm and addictive nature of the book.

Paul Morris is THE most shallow and deceitful man I have come across in a book.  He is mean, selfish and lies every time he opens his mouth.  He thinks he has landed on his feet when he meets Alice and pretty much invites himself to her friends and family gathering at her villa in Greece.  Paul arrives later than the other guests after meeting with his publisher (not) and taking a late BA flight (not) and you really get the impression, even if he doesn't, that he is a bit of an unwanted guest.  There just seems to be an air of tension around the place which is exacerbated by the 10 year anniversary of the disappearance of a 13 year old girl, Jasmine.

When another girl on the island gets attacked, I had several suspects in mind.  All the time wondering what had happened to Jasmine 10 years ago and whether it was linked to this attack.  The common denominator being the same group of guests on the island...yes, Paul was also there 10 years ago.  Will we ever be able to separate the truth from the lies?

Sabine Durrant, you got me!  I was played like a fiddle and completely sucked in, leaving me wide eyed and open-mouthed at the end. Lie With Me is a very clever book, you don't realise how hooked you are until you try to put it down. 

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Follow the tour:

Tuesday 21 February 2017

BLOG TOUR: Ragdoll - Daniel Cole

One body, six victims gives a little hint of the darkness lurking within the pages of Ragdoll.  I am thrilled to repost my review as part of the 3 days 40 victims blog tour.

A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet, nicknamed by the press as the 'ragdoll'.
Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William 'Wolf' Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.
The 'Ragdoll Killer' taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.
With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?

What did I think?

There was lots of excitement surrounding this book on Twitter so I joined the long queue on NetGalley for a review copy.  As soon as it dropped onto my kindle, I thought I would have a sneaky peak - BIG MISTAKE!  I was hooked after reading the prologue and couldn't have put it down if my life depended on it.

Ragdoll starts with the trial of 'The Cremation Killer', caught by Detective William Oliver Layton-Fawkes, aka Wolf.  I don't want to give anything away from the prologue, which is amazing, so the story begins 4 years later.  Wolf receives a call to attend a crime scene right on his doorstep.  As he enters the flat he has been summoned to, he finds a macabre display: a body wired to the ceiling in an unnatural pose.  On looking a bit closer Wolf sees that this one body comprises 6 victims, each crudely stitched to the other, but the most disturbing thing is that the fingers of one hand are pointing out of the Wolf's apartment.  EEEEK!  When Wolf's ex-wife, Andrea, who is a journalist, receives a list of names and dates of the next 6 victims, the clock begins ticking in the hunt for the 'Ragdoll Killer'.

Seriously, is this book a debut?  I bet the tv stations are kicking themselves at rejecting the script of 'Ragdoll'.  So very dark, gripping and vivid, I can't wait to read more about Wolf.  I've kept my review purposefully short as to write any more would give away some of the plot.  My mind was racing and my heart was pounding - sure signs of a superb debut.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Follow the 3 days 40 victims tour: 

Monday 20 February 2017

BLOG TOUR: Because I Was Lonely - Hayley Mitchell

Meet Rachel. She is caught in a spiral of endless crying, dirty nappies, and sleepless nights. She fears for her sanity and the safety of her children.
She's lonely.
Meet Adam. Suffering from the pain and trauma of a terrible accident that he blames himself for, he stays at home, unable to bring himself to leave the house.
He's lonely.
So when Rachel and Adam rekindle their long lost friendship online, what starts as a little harmless flirtation, soon becomes an unhealthy obsession, and slowly the threads of their lives unravel before them.
Four lonely people . Two unhappy marriages . One dangerous, but inevitable climax.

What did I think?

Ooh this was a book that quietly drew you in and then 'BAM!' pulled the rug out from underneath you.  I was happily reading along, learning about the the lives of two couples: Rachel (on the edge of crazy) and her husband David and Adam (a desperately shattered and lonely man) and his wife, Julia.  I loved the way that the first part of the book was set out with a chapter for each of the four characters before merging in spectacular fashion in part 2.

Rachel scared me from the start.  She is clearly verging on unhinged and I worried about what she could be capable of in a potential moment of madness with two young children in the house.  Rachel's husband, David, doesn't sleep in the same room as her as Rachel is a restless sleeper.  Obviously this has a disastrous effect on their relationship and David's eye begins to wander.  It is clear that he does love Rachel but he's not quite sure how to reach her.

Rachel finds an old friend, Adam, on Facebook.  Adam is perhaps the one that got away so a bit of harmless flirtation can't go wrong, can it?  Adam's relationship is also suffering due to the guilt he carries from his parents' death.  Adam is tied by his routine, making him a prisoner in his own home and his wife, Julia, being the sole breadwinner has to work away to keep the family afloat.  Adam breaks up his day by chatting to women on Facebook but Rachel is different to the others and suddenly Julia feels threatened.  Rachel and Adam live miles away from each other so surely Julia has nothing to worry about...

That's when the story takes on a slightly darker tone and obsession takes the driving seat - I thought absolutely anything could happen in the last quarter of the book.  Think Fatal Attraction bunny boiler and you'll be near where my mind was going.  It was actually a sobering thought for anyone who has 'met' somebody on the internet.  You never quite know who you are talking to and how much of your life you are giving away.  We must leave so many clues to our whole existence on the internet and all it takes is somebody with a mindset to follow the clues and turn up at our door - YIKES!

I really enjoyed the way that this book was written in two very distinctive parts - it really gave us a chance to get to know the characters and build a full picture of their thoughts and feelings.  I felt so much emotion for Adam, being stuck at home and feeling so much guilt - as human beings, we do like to beat ourselves up but this is the point at which we are vulnerable and a chink in the armour can let a psychopath into our lives.  You never really know what's going on in someone's mind and it was actually really frightening to see how something could be harmless to one party but meaningful to another.

Because I Was Lonely is such a fascinating book that I have thought about it long after I turned the last page.  In this digital age, where we all leave unknown fingerprints, virtual can quite quickly become reality.  An addictive book and one well worth reading.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.  I am releasing my review as part of the blog tour.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Follow the tour:

Saturday 18 February 2017

Sealskin - Su Bristow

What happens when magic collides with reality? Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous … and makes a terrible mistake. His action changes lives – not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. Can he ever atone for the wrong he has done, and can love grow when its foundation is violence?

Based on the legend of the selkies – seals who can transform into people – Sealskin is a magical story, evoking the harsh beauty of the landscape, the resilience of its people, both human and animal, and the triumph of hope over fear and prejudice. With exquisite grace, Exeter Novel Prize-winner Su Bristow transports us to a different world, subtly and beautifully exploring what it means to be an outsider, and our innate capacity for forgiveness and acceptance. Rich with myth and magic, Sealskin is, nonetheless, a very human story, as relevant to our world as to the timeless place in which it is set. And it is, quite simply, unforgettable.

For fans of Angela Carter, Eowyn Ivey, Alice Hoffmann and Geraldine Brooks.

What did I think?

Although I do have a lot of books to read, I have a soft spot for Orenda Books so I bought this on a Saturday afternoon when it was on special offer for 99p.  Wow!  Is this the best £1 I have ever spent, or what?  I almost didn't make it out for my friend's birthday evening but I made sure that I had a clear head so I could finish off the wonderful story on Sunday.  

Donald is a lucky man - one night he sees something that people have only dreamed about, but his thoughtless actions break the magic and he finds himself, and his family, living with the consequences.  Donald's mother, Bridie, is well respected in the village and people come to her for potions and help with delivering babies.  When Donald brings Mairhie home, Bridie takes her under her wing and teaches her everything that she knows, plus Mairhie has a little magic of her own.  The villagers are naturally suspicious of Mairhie, but gradually they warm to her as she endears herself to them, however, the sea starts to call... Will Mairhie listen or will she accept the life she has been given on land?  She doesn't have a choice while her sealskin remains lost...but does somebody hold the key to its whereabouts?

Sealskin is perhaps the most beautiful book I have read in a long time.  I was captured in its net from chapter 1 and only released when I had turned the final breathtaking page.  Su Bristow has such lyrical writing that I felt as if I was in the book myself, standing at the door of the cottage or watching the fishing boats coming back to shore.  I had serious difficulty in putting the book down and, had I not been going out, would have read Sealskin in one sitting.

Make sure you have a few hours spare before reading Sealskin, as you will not want to put it down and it deserves, and cries out, to be read in one sitting.  Gather your bucket and spade and head to the seaside as Sealskin is a bucketful of adjectives: beautiful, breathtaking, magnificent, exceptional, outstanding and name but a few.  I will definitely be reading it again, and that surely must be a cast-iron recommendation!

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

BLOG TOUR: Blackout - Marc Elsberg

Blackout is such a thought-provoking book that I was thrilled to be invited to join the blog tour.  Whilst I might have been forgiven for expecting total carnage and an eat your partner type of disaster thriller, it's more of a slow-burner that makes you look at the world in a completely different light (if you excuse the unintended 'light' pun).  So without further ado, let's see what I thought of Blackout by Marc Elsberg.




Tomorrow will be too late.

A cold night in Milan, Piero Manzano wants to get home.

Then the traffic lights fail. Manzano is thrown from his Alfa as cars pile up. And not just on this street – every light in the city is dead. 

Across Europe, controllers watch in disbelief as electricity grids collapse. 

Plunged into darkness, people are freezing. Food and water supplies dry up. The death toll soars. 

Former hacker and activist Manzano becomes a prime suspect. But he is also the only man capable of finding the real attackers. 

Can he bring down a major terrorist network before it’s too late?

What did I think?

I was really eager to read this book and I made the fatal mistake of having a sneaky read of the first page when it arrived meaning that I had to start it immediately.  It literally starts with a bang as the traffic lights go out in Milan causing mass chaos on the roads as cars pile into each other.  The main character, Piero Manzano, is one of those affected as he is driving home when the lights go out.  As the plot thickens it would appear that somebody has attacked not just Milan, but Europe itself.

There were so many things I didn't think of if there was no electricity and Blackout certainly gets you thinking about what you would do if there was no electricity.  There would be no fuel at the petrol stations as the pumps use electricity to pump fuel to the forecourt from the underground tanks.  Patients in ITU on life support would die without electricity to power life support machines and monitor vital signs. The main effect that really shocked me was the inability to cool down the nuclear reactors which leads to the main sweaty palm moments in Blackout.

My brain was whirring throughout the story, but more about our reliance on electricity than the events in the book.  After all, it's not that long ago when electricty wasn't available in every home and streets were still lit by gas lamps during World War II.  I think the world would literally grind to a halt if our power supply was removed but I also think it would be quite liberating to go back to more simple manual times.  We may then discover some of that elusive time, of which we never seem to have enough.

Overall I wasn't as gripped and panicked as I thought I would be.  I think that sometimes it was quite technical and a little bit over my head, but I admit that when people start talking in IT-speak my brain tends to go into meltdown.  There were a few too many characters in the book to keep track of who was who and in hindsight I wish I'd written them down and created my own cast list.

Blackout is the most thought-provoking book I have read in a long time and I have continued to think about the devastating effects long after turning the final page.  I was just slightly disappointed that I didn't get the feeling of panic and fear coming through in the writing, but it could perhaps have been a little bit lost in the translation from German to English.  It's well worth a read though, just to realise how lucky we are to have power at the flick of a switch.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Follow the tour:

Tuesday 14 February 2017

EXTRACT TOUR: Girl 99 - Andy Jones

It's Valentine's Day and what better day to have the extract tour for Andy Jones' upcoming novel, Girl 99.  I have the fourth extract entitled 'Too Many' for you but please do hop over to the other blogs to read further extracts:

The One
The Bet
Too Many - here on The Book Magnet
Book Club

GIRL 99 [an extract]
by Andy Jones

What would you think if I told you I was a virgin? Unusual for a man of my age, no? You’d probably want to know why. Was something wrong? Broken? Was I religious, or a member of some other weird cult?
What if I said I’d had only a single sexual encounter? Say we were in the pub and the subject came up. How many people have you slept with? We go around the table: Five, fifteen, seven, twelve, twenty-seven. You get to me and I say, One.’
One!’ You all shout in unison.
The first guy says, ‘I thought five was low! What have you been doing?’
Mr Fifteen pulls a face: ‘Were you in prison?’
Or a coma?’ says Mr Twenty-Seven.
Everybody laughs.
So we’ve established that none is weird, and one is laughable. Two might elicit a patronising coo. Three would be better, five better still. What about a thousand? You’d fall off your barstool, appalled. Somewhere along the way, more went from being better to worse. So where exactly did this shift occur? At what point does ‘one’ more become ‘one too many’? Thirty? Forty? Fifty? Okay, let’s say fifty. Why is fifty worse than forty-nine? What’s so bad about fifty? Or fifty-one, or fifty-two?

What’s so bad about eighty-five?

Love the extract?  Buy Girl 99 from Amazon by clicking here

About the author

Andy Jones lives in London with his wife and two little girls. During the day he works in an advertising agency; at weekends and horribly early in the mornings, he writes fiction.

You can find Andy on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram as andyjonesauthor

Monday 13 February 2017

The Liberation - Kate Furnivall

The Liberation is set in Italy in 1945 as British and American troops attempt to bring order to the devastated country and Italy’s population fights to survive. Caterina Lombardi is desperate – her father is dead, her mother has disappeared and her brother is being drawn towards danger. One morning, among the ruins of the bombed Naples streets, Caterina is forced to go to extreme lengths to protect her own life and in doing so forges a future in which she must clear her father's name. An Allied Army officer accuses him of treason and Caterina discovers a plot against her family. Who can she trust and who is the real enemy now? And will the secrets of the past be her downfall?

This epic novel is an unforgettably powerful story of love, loss and the long shadow of war.

What did I think?

Kate Furnivall is a new author for me and with such an eye-popping back catalogue I don't how I have got through my reading life without her.  It was love at first sight as I turned the first few pages of The Liberation and I just knew that I was going to be in for an epic post-war adventure in beautiful Sorrento.

Caterina Lombardi is the backbone of her family.  She lives with her brother and grandfather in the war ravaged city of Sorrento, in a post-war Italy where people are struggling to survive.  Caterina has a rare gift that has enabled her to carry on her father's craftmanship of creating stunning woodwork.  She takes her wares to Naples and despite a run in with the street children, the wily and tough scugnizzi, she sells her products to the British and American troops stationed there.  It is there that she meets two intelligence officers, American officer Jake and British officer Harry.  When they start asking questions about her father, Caterina won't believe that her father would steal from Italy herself but, as the evidence mounts up, she wonders if she really knew her father after all.  Caterina is desperate to clear her father's name but there are those who want the secrets to remain buried and Caterina has no idea how much danger she is in.  Caterina, however, is like a lioness defending her cubs as she does everything possible to keep her family safe.

I was completely swept away to Sorrento whilst reading The Liberation.  Although ravaged by war its beauty still managed to shine out from every page, thanks to Kate Furnivall's warm and effusive writing.  The Liberation was everything I could have hoped for (and more) with secrets, passion, danger, intrigue, skulduggery and a treasure-hunt style adventure.  An absolutely stunning and breathtaking epic written with such vivacity that, although a fair sized weighty book, made each one of the 552 glorious pages turn over with ease.  

It may be my first, but it definitely won't be my last Kate Furnivall book.  They all look absolutely mouthwatering novels, but my love of Egyptian history has ensured that Shadows of the Nile is at the top of my wishlist.  A well deserving 5 star read, I strongly recommend The Liberation - don't miss your own chance to visit Kate Furnivall's Sorrento.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Sunday 12 February 2017

After She's Gone - Maggie James

Lori Golden’s family have had more than their fair share of troubles. But through it all, Lori and her sister, Jessie, have always supported each other. Then Jessie is killed. And Lori’s world turns upside down.
Devastated, Lori struggles to cope with her loss, and to learn to live in a world without her bright, bubbly sister by her side. Around her, her already fractured family start to fall apart. And, as Lori and her mother try to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives, secrets long thought buried are coming painfully to light.
Faced with the unthinkable, Lori is forced to ask herself how well she really knows those who are left behind…

What did I think?

Maggie James was a new author for me when I read His Kidnapper's Shoes and I am so pleased to have discovered her as you are guaranteed to have an intensely gripping and high quality read in your hands.  Don't just take my word for it - Maggie is certainly becoming a firm favourite among readers judging by the many 5 star reviews on Amazon.

There's no happy ending for 16 year old Jessie Golden when she goes missing one evening.  Her body is found in one of her mother's rental properties, leaving her sister, Lori, and mother, Dana, devastated.  As the family come to terms with Jessie's death they become suspicious of each other - often people are murdered by those known to them and with Dana's partner, Jake, and his son, Spencer, acting suspiciously Lori can't help but think that one of them knows more about Jessie's death than he is willing to let on.  Who can Lori trust?

There are so many characters acting suspiciously, each withholding their own delicious secret, that you will never be able to isolate which one holds the key to Jessie's murder.  As a pyromaniac targets Dana's properties, she fears that Jessie's murder is retribution for something she did in her past.  And we all know that the past does come back to haunt you!  As it becomes clear that the fires, and Jessie's death, are something personal, it's only a matter of time before the murderer shows their hand.

After She's Gone is a no holds barred account of an imploding family coming to terms with their grief.  Each character's thoughts and feelings are impeccably described and we feel their hurt, anger, despair and fear in every page.  The character of Lori was my absolute favourite - she has to deal with so many feelings from sibling rivalry and jealousy to complete devastation whilst still trying to hold her fractured family together.  After She's Gone is another fantastic page turner from Maggie James that gets inside your head and stays there.  A recommended must read from me!

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Wednesday 8 February 2017

Miss Christie Regrets: Book 2 of the Hampstead Murders - Guy Fraser-Sampson

The second in the Hampstead Murders series opens with a sudden death at an iconic local venue, which some of the team believe may be connected with an unsolved murder featuring Cold War betrayals worthy of George Smiley. It soon emerges that none other than Agatha Christie herself may be the key witness who is able to provide the missing link. 

As with its bestselling predecessor, Death in Profile, the book develops the lives and loves of the team at 'Hampstead Nick'. While the next phase of a complicated love triangle plays itself out, the protagonists, struggling to crack not one but two apparently insoluble murders, face issues of national security in working alongside Special Branch. 

What did I think?

I read Miss Christie Regrets quite soon after reading Death in Profile, the first book in the Hampstead Murders series, so it was good to meet the colourful characters of Hampstead Nick again.  You could be forgiven for thinking that this is a Victorian murder mystery as Guy Fraser-Sampson has such a unique writing style that transports the reader to the Golden Age of detective fiction whilst reading a story based in the present day.

DS Karen Willis and her partner, Dr Peter Collins, find themselves in the middle of a crime scene when a body is discovered as they are visiting an art exhibition at Burgh House.  As the police dig for clues using good old-fashioned police work, they could never have imagined the direction that this case would take them.  Could Agatha Christie hold the key to determining the murderer?

It's so very refreshing to read a modern book about a murder without expletives and gory details.  The reader really feels part of the investigation as the clues are gathered and you come to your own, inevitably wrong, conclusions.  I absolutely loved the references to Agatha Christie and whilst Death in Profile was labelled as a love letter to the detective novel, Miss Christie Regrets is surely a love letter to Dame Agatha herself.

I would recommend reading Death in Profile first to get the history of the characters, although it won't lessen the enjoyment of the story in Miss Christie Regrets as it's possible to be read as a standalone.  If you're a fan of blood and gore, you really won't enjoy this series but if you like to collect clues and try to work out the conclusion before it is revealed, you will absolutely love this series.  Guy Fraser-Sampson turns gold to platinum with his modern day golden age detective fiction series.  I'm really looking forward to the third book in the series: the brilliantly named A Whiff of Cyanide.

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

My rating:

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