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Thursday, 21 December 2017

Ghosts of Christmas Past edited by Tim Martin

About Ghosts of Christmas Past: A chilling collection of modern and classic Christmas ghost stories

A present contains a monstrous secret.
An uninvited guest haunts a Christmas party.
A shadow slips across the floor by firelight.
A festive entertainment ends in darkness and screams.

Who knows what haunts the night at the dark point of the year?

This collection of seasonal chillers looks beneath Christmas cheer to a world of ghosts and horrors, mixing terrifying modern fiction with classic stories by masters of the macabre. From Neil Gaiman and M. R. James to Muriel Spark and E. Nesbit, there are stories here to make the hardiest soul quail - so find a comfy chair, lock the door, ignore the cold breath on your neck and get ready to welcome in the real spirits of Christmas.

My review of Ghosts of Christmas Past

Ghosts of Christmas Past is a wonderful ghostly collection of short stories that is perfect for curling up with on a cold winter's night. The stories range from classics to modern tales, but all are chilling and throw a ghostly glow on this festive season, and I loved reading all these stories. I read one story every night and was so very sad when the book came to an end.

This collection of seasonal ghost stories features classics from the likes of M R James and E Nesbit, through to modern day reads by Neil Gaiman and Jenn Ashworth. All are a delight to read.

It is so very difficult to choose a favourite read from this collection of ghost stories, but if I had to choose, then it would have to be Dinner for One by Jenn Ashworth. It's one of the shorter stories and not a typical 'ghost' story, but for me I found this story to be completely chilling in the descriptions of the rural cottage and the land surrounding it. Such evocative writing is used to describe the soil, the isolation and despair. This story sent shivers down my spine.

What's so wonderful about this book is that it is very easy to dip in and out of. I read a story a night, in the order they appeared in the book, but you can read the stories in any order that you choose.

This is the perfect short story collection to read this time of year for those who love their ghost stories, from timeless classics to model day hauntings. This will most certainly be a book that I will get out and read every year during the Christmas period. Snuggle up with a blanket, a hot chocolate or a glass of mulled wine, and simply enjoy these wonderful ghostly tales.
With thanks to the publisher and Bookbridgr for a paperback copy.

Ghosts of Christmas Past was published by John Murray on 19 Oct. 2017 and can be found on Amazon here.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Last Cry @annaloulondon @bookouture

About Last Cry

There’s a letter on the floor covered with blood next to a heart-shaped box of chocolates. The note says: ‘My beautiful darling, I’m sorry, please forgive me.’When the body of a man is found with his wrists slashed in a London hotel room, it appears at first to be a tragic suicide. But Detective Dan Riley suspects there is more to this case than meets the eye and the pathology report confirms his worst fears – the victim was poisoned and suddenly Dan is dealing with a murder inquiry.

Still grieving the devastating loss of his girlfriend and unborn child in a car accident two years ago, Dan throws everything he has into the investigation. Then he makes a disturbing discovery, uncovering links between the victim and a woman calling herself Goldilocks on an online dating site. Is she seeking revenge or something more?

Yet just as Dan begins to piece together the clues of this complex case, the body of a woman is found in her bed with identical wounds. Dan is on the trail of a twisted serial killer – and the stakes just got higher:

The first victim was Daddy Bear. The second Mummy Bear.

Unless Dan can catch the killer, Baby Bear will be next.

An all-consuming and totally unputdownable read that will have you holding your breath to the very last page. Perfect for fans of Rachel Abbott, Robert Bryndza and Karin Slaughter.

My review of Last Cry
Last Cry is a fast paced, witty and utterly likeable crime novel that I simply could not put down. This was a refreshing read with a new distinctive voice. Last Cry is the first novel in a new and exciting detective series staring Detective Dan Riley, and I loved it.

The book revolves around a serial killer, a woman who calls herself Goldilocks. We are introduced to her very early on in the novel, as we read her perspective in alternating chapters. At the beginning she poisons a wealthy businessman, leaving behind a suicide note, but we have no idea who she is or whys she has killed him. This character instantly piqued my interest. There was something about her that both unnerved and excited me, and I wanted to get to know her more and understand her motives. As with the fairytale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the police team work around the clock to find out who this illustrious Goldilocks is as we all know the ending to the tale with Baby Bear. This in itself made me race through the pages as I wanted the to find and stop her before she could hurt any baby.

This book works so well because of the main protagonist, Detective Dan Riley, he fascinated me. His back story is that his long term girlfriend, Rach, died two years ago in a motorbike accident and he hasn't got over her death. He talks to her constantly. Here is a likeable man, a decent man who is having to face his demons, and pretend that everything is normal while in the middle of this difficult case. I liked Dan, a solid guy with a heart of gold, and the novel works so well because of him. I cared about him and what he had been through and wanted him to heal and start afresh, to live life.

 This really is a fast paced book that made me catch my breath a few times, and I found myself asking, 'what the hell just happened then?' The chapters are short and snappy and we get alternative chapters offering both Goldilocks' and Dan's point of view. Dan's story is told in first person and I really liked this style as I felt closer to him, almost as if he was sharing his story with me. Both voices are distinct, and at times Goldilocks's voice is very warm and witty, so, a different voice to what you would expect of a cold blooded killer. As I have already said, this book is very refreshing and had a truly distinctive style and voice.

Last Cry is an absolute joy to read. The plot is highly addictive, and I cared about the characters, on both sides of the law. This really is a page turner of a read that will leave you wanting more.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an Advanced Reader Copy.

Last Cry is published by Bookouture on 31 Jan. 2018 and can be found  on Amazon here.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Three Things About Elsie @JoannaCannon

About Three Things About Elsie

There are three things you should know about Elsie.

The first thing is that she’s my best friend.

The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better.

And the third thing… might take a little bit more explaining.

84-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, Florence wonders if a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light; and, if the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly a man who died sixty years ago?

From the author of THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP, this book will teach you many things, but here are three of them:

1) The fine threads of humanity will connect us all forever.
2) There is so very much more to anyone than the worst thing they have ever done.
3) Even the smallest life can leave the loudest echo.

My review of Three Things About Elsie

Three Things About Elsie is such a beautiful book to read, absolutely beautiful. I was instantly drawn to the book by its attractive cover that depicts Battenberg. This in itself brought a lump to my throat, memories flooding in of my nana who loved Battenberg cake. But what this cover does is that it evokes feelings, emotions, and that is exactly what the book does. At times it is very funny, and others it made me weep. It's about the older generation, of how the younger generation interact with them, and of how the two worlds collide. It is a book about memories, of finding who we are, and ultimately, where we are now. This book is so many things, and all are wonderful to read.

The book revolves around Florence, whom we first meet while she is lying on the floor, in her flat in Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. From the moment I met Florence I wanted to know her story. Why she had fallen and who would come and help her. Her voice is so distinctive, it felt like she was really talking to me. I wanted to be her friend, and I wanted to reach into the book and help her.

Jo Canon writes with such empathy and insight that it made me want to cry. I understood completely what it was like for Florence, living in this environment, with other people trying to dictate her day, and what she was feeling. The writing is beautiful, yet straightforward, as Florence is a straight talker and says exactly what is on her mind, and I loved her for this.

As with all great novels there is a wonderful supporting cast. We have Elsie, Florence's friend from when they were young girls, and the narrative constantly goes backwards and forwards in time, sharing these early days with us, and these passages were simply a delight to read. We then have Jack, a man whom she befriends in the care home, and who helps Florence in her quest to discover the true identity of the charming new resident. The most likeable character for me (apart from Florence) as that of Handy Simon. A man who cares deeply about the residents but who finds it difficult to communicate his thoughts and feelings. I really liked Simon, I warmed to him immediately and wondered if he was on the autistic spectrum.

This book highlights the fact that the nursing and medical professions often 'medicalise' older patients, in that they do not see the actual person, but rather a set of symptoms. Florence's story so eloquently and gently explains that she is so much more than the old lady that many younger people see. She has lived an exciting life. Has loved, had friends and has been a young woman, a young woman with hopes and dreams.

Three Things About Elsie is a beautifully written book about the older generation, about history, and about friendship. It was so refreshing to read a book from an older person's point of view that was not over sentimental, but simply told a story from their point of view. It is warm, witty and at times heart breaking, but above all a hugely enjoyable read. Florence will, I feel, stay with me for a very long time.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGaley for an Advanced Reader Copy.

Three Things About Elsie is published on 11th Jan 2018 by Borough Press. It can be found on Amazon here.

Monday, 11 December 2017

A Death in the Night @GuyFSAuthor @Urbanebooks

About A Death in the Night
Book 4 in the thrilling Hampstead Murders series!
When a woman identified as the wife of a prominent lawyer dies at an exclusive women's club, the team from Hampstead police station find themselves thrown into a baffling investigation with very little evidence to offer any guidance.

By coincidence, Metcalfe, Collins and Willis were all attending a vintage dinner dance at the club at the estimated time of death. Can they remember anything between them which might indicate a solution?

Set against a background of professors, barristers, and serial adultery, the fourth in the Hampstead Murders series continues the pattern set by its predecessors: strong, character-driven contemporary narrative written in the spirit of the Golden Age of detective writing. Praised by leading crime-writers, and garnering rave reviews from book bloggers, the books have been described as elegant, intelligent, quirky and 'a love letter to the detective novel'. All agree they are very 'different' from the standard fare of modern crime fiction.

My review of A Death in the Night
A Death in the Night is book 4 in the Hampstead Murders series and I just have to say that I love this series. A Death in the Night is once again a modern day murder mystery but one that is set within the Golden Age, which is slightly quirky and most definitely refreshing. I couldn't help but be drawn into this fascinating world.

Once again we meet all the usual members of the Hampstead police team, Bob Metcalfe, Peer Collins and Karen Willis who at the beginning of the book attend a vintage dinner dance at an exclusive women's club in the area. Unbeknown to them, a murder takes place while they are dancing the night away. What follows is an investigation that is complicated, that throws up very little clues and which implicates a lot of people. I had very little idea who the murderer was until the very end of the book. This is magnificent Golden Age crime writing and I savoured every word.

Although this is a murder mystery, it is actually a comforting and 'cosy up with a warm drink' type of a read, in very much the same way that you would snuggle up and read an Agatha Christie novel. It reels you in from the very beginning, and I very much felt like I was part of the detective team, gathering clues and asking questions to those suspected of the murder. The language that is used, the imagery and the characters are all inviting, and makes for such a pleasant reading experience. I particularly like reading about Karen Willis, the detective who is confident, strong and feminine, I feel that she really is a role model for the present generation.

This book is firmly set in the Golden Age detective era. It's not a gritty blood bath of a book, its not that type of a book,  however it does not shy away from issues of sexuality, relationships, and how women are reprehend in society. This book is based upon good old fashioned policing, tales of morality, and integrity. It really is a refreshing take on the murder mystery novel, and I can't wait to read the next installment in this delightful series.

With thanks to Urbane Publocatins who sent me a paperback copy for review purposes.

A Death in the Night was published by Urbane Publications on 16 Nov. 2017 and can be found on Amazon here.

Friday, 8 December 2017

How to Stop Time @matthaig1 @canongatebooks

About How to Stop Time

HOW MANY LIFETIMES DOES IT TAKE TO LEARN HOW TO LIVE? Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old history teacher, but he's been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz-Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen it all. As long as he keeps changing his identity he can keep one step ahead of his past - and stay alive. The only thing he must not do is fall in love . . .

My review of How to Stop Time

How to Stop Time is such a beautiful book. I don't think I have ever read a book that so deeply and gently explores what it is to be human. Of how the past affects us on every level, of how it shapes our character, but that ultimately, in the end, it is the future that can change who we are. We are constant yet changing at the same time.

I honestly didn't know what to expect when I opened this book. I obviously knew that it was about Tom Hazard, a man who does not age like the rest of us, and that although he looks 42 he is actually over 400 years old. So, I expected it to be an exploration of history, and it is, but it is also so much more, it is about one man's search for who he is and how he must learn to live his again.

It is a book that works on so many different levels. It is a book about history,  I loved the chapters set in the past, and of how history is always present, always with us.  It is also a book about self discovery, about learning to love yourself, and it is also a book about the psychology of behaviour. That we all wear different hats and present different versions of who we are, depending upon the role we play. I remember my university drama professor telling us that life is all an act, that we are all pretending, and this is what Tom Hazard does throughout the book. He takes on different roles, different names in order to survive, and this is, in a sense, what we all do. We all play the game, and this novel beautifully illustrates this point, the fine line between our outward appearance and what we really feel. I've never read a book quite like it before. 

How to Stop Time is a fantastical novel but one that is firmly rooted in reality, dealing with issues of love, loss and learning how to live. It's an entertaining read, as he follow Tom's journey, observing how he engages with his students, and the community around him, when all he really wants is to be invisible. It is also about eternal love, and I felt that it was very much a timeless love story for the modern generation. It's a beautifully written book about the human condition that is simply quite stunning. 

How to Stop Time was published in hardback by Canongate Books on 6 July 2017. It will be available in paperback on 14th December, and can be found on Amazon here.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness by Laura Kemp

About The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness

Sometimes all it takes to make the world a better place is a small act of kindness...

When Ceri Price arrives in the small seaside village of Dwynwen in West Wales, she only means to stay for a couple of nights - long enough to scatter her mother's ashes, and then go back to her life as a successful make-up entrepreneur.

But a case of mistaken identities means she lands a job as the barmaid in the local pub, she unexpectedly finds friendship, and wonders if love might follow... But when the plans for a new housing estate put the local woodland under threat, she fears the way of life here could disappear.

Then mysterious acts of kindness start springing up around the village - a string of bunting adorns the streets, a new village signpost appears out of nowhere and someone provides paint to spruce up the houses on the seafront. Who is behind these acts of kindness and can they help in the race to save the village from the faceless developers...?

Welcome to Dwynwen: Village of Love. Where friendship flourishes and love blossoms...

My review of The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness

The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness is such a beautiful book. It truly is, and it reminded me of  what it is to be human. In a world that is dominated by social media, online followers and selfies, this story focussed on the real meaning of living life to the fullest. It's a stripping back life to the absolute basics, that of forming friendships and actually talking to people, and I loved it.

The story begins with us meeting Ceri Price, a thirty-year-old woman who has recently suffered a bereavement, that of her mother who had dementia. Ceri was her carer, and although a successful businesswoman in her own right, having single-handedly set up a make-up business from home using store cupboard ingredients, she feels that her life lacks meaning. We follow Ceri to Wales. as she leaves her married sister behind, to scatter her mum's ashes on her beloved shoreline of Dwynwen, a seaside village in West Wales. What follows is a funny, heart-warming and thought provoking read about the importance of friendship and caring for others.

This book is full of larger than life Welsh characters who you just can't help but love, and for me, I couldn't help but be smitten with Rhodri, the somewhat socially awkward bear of a man with a passion for recycling. He wants the village to be a welcoming place for visitors, and to keep the natural beauty of the area, but others in the village are less passionate and can't see a way to fight the investors who want to change the beauty and stillness of this seaside village. As an outsider, Ceri brigs a freshness and unique viewpoint to this small community. Although she had only planned to stay a few days. after a misunderstanding, she ends up staying a lot longer and becomes sucked into village life, and I loved this.

What I also enjoyed were the multiple points of view. This gave a greater depth to the story, as we read the thoughts and feelings of not only Ceri, but of those who had a huge impact on her life, who made her evaluate her life, and to consider what was truly important in her life. I sometimes find multiple POV confusing, but this was not the case with this book, as all voices were very distinctive.

The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness is a stunning story that truly encompasses the Welsh community spirit and you can't help but feel better about life once you have read it. It puts a smile on your face. It is uplifting, shares the best of human kindness and makes you appreciate that life is so much more than material possessions. It really is a feel good book, that is perfect for those cold winter evenings.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an Advanced Reader Copy.

The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness is available as an eBook now and is published by Orion in paperback on 22 Feb. 2018. It can be found on Amazon here.

Monday, 4 December 2017

The Doll House @Phoebe_A_Morgan @HQDigitalUK

About The Doll House

Corinne’s life might look perfect on the outside, but after three failed IVF attempts it’s her last chance to have a baby. And when she finds a tiny part of a doll house outside her flat, it feels as if it’s a sign.

But as more pieces begin to turn up, Corinne realises that they are far too familiar. Someone knows about the miniature rocking horse and the little doll with its red velvet dress. Someone has been inside her house…

How does the stranger know so much about her life? How long have they been watching? And what are they waiting for…?

A gripping debut psychological thriller with a twist you won’t see coming. Perfect for fans of I See You and The Widow.

My review of The Doll House

The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan is a stunning debut psychological thriller that I just couldn't put down. The chapters are short and fast paced and I was propelled onwards to find out what would happen next. It was such a joy to read.

The novel revolves mainly around two sisters, Connie and Ashley, and that o an unknown narrator. Connie and her partner, Dominic, desperately want children and after three failed attempts at IVF it feels as though Connie will never be a mother. She has lost contact with many friends, due to the fact that they are now mothers, and her relationship with her sister is also slightly strained as Ashley has three children, her youngest still a baby. However, Connie remains optimistic and when a small part of a dolls house is found outside her flat door, she takes this as a sign. However, as more and more parts are found, at her workplace, and then at home, the book takes on a deliciously dark and sinister feel. Who is responsible for leaving the objects that are the exact replica from her childhood dolls house? I'll admit to reading with a cold chill down my spine.

I really liked Connie. I felt as though I understood her. Her need to have a child and that every waking breath was consumed with this thought, this desire, that it blinded everything else in her life. I also felt incredibly sorry for her, as to me she was almost frozen in time, unable to move forward. To her, her life lacked meaning and purpose because she was not a mother. As the book progressed, Connie found herself questioning those around her, as well as her own sanity. Who can she trust?

I was also pleasantly surprised to find that the book was also written from Ashley's point of view. This gave greater perspective and insight into Connie's character. I really liked Ashley, and felt that I could relate much more to her than Connie. I'm not sure if this was because she was a mother, or because I have never experienced IVF treatment, but I connected with her, and I thoroughly enjoyed her chapters.

We then also have chapters from an unknown author, a little girl, who grows up as we progress through the book. She details her life with her mother, a life of poverty and making ends meet. The constant question running through mu mind was, who is she? I loved this aspect of the book.

The Doll House is about the past, about family, about sisters,  and the fact that actions always have consequences. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can't watt to read more by this author. Perfect to read this Wintertime.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a review copy.

The Doll House  was published by HQ Digital on 14th September. I can be found on Amazon here.

Friday, 1 December 2017

The Silent Children @carolewyer @bookouture

About The Silent Children

The boy studied the bruise turning yellow at the base of his neck. With quick fingers his mother tightened his tie, and pulled his collar high above it. Her eyes alone said, We will not speak of this...

Years later, a man is found shot dead in a local park. On his phone is a draft text: I can’t keep this secret any longer. The recipient is unnamed.

Detective Robyn Carter knows this secret is the key to the case, but his friends and family don’t offer any clues, and all her team have to go on is a size-ten footprint.

Then a woman is found in a pool of blood at the bottom of her staircase, and a seemingly insignificant detail in her stepdaughter’s statement makes Robyn wonder: are the two bodies connected, and has the killer only just begun?

When another body confirms Robyn’s worst fears, she realises she’s in a race against time to stop the killer before they strike again. But just as she thinks she’s closing in, one of her own team goes missing.

Buried in the past is a terrible injustice. Can Robyn uncover the truth before another life is lost?

My review of The Silent Children

The Silent Children is the fourth book in the excellent Detective Robyn Carter series that is set in Staffordshire.  I have been a huge fan of these books from the very beginning and I really enjoyed this one. I will just mention that this book will work very well as a standalone novel. 

The Silent Children kicks into action when a man is found shot dead, in his car on Cannock Chase. What makes this opening chapter even more disturbing is that it is a small child who finds the dead man, and it is this beginning that both chilled me and encouraged me to carry on reading. Who was this man and who shot him? I also wanted to find out how finding the man affected this little boy and his family. This is exactly what Robyn and her team set out to discover. 

The pace and tension then picks up when the body of a woman is found. Are the two incidents connected? This is what Robyn needs to find out, and the hunt is soon on for a serial killer. As ever, we stumble across many suspects and I enjoyed the various leads that the team investigated. 

Running alongside the main plot is another story, that of an unknown author who tells the story of his abusive childhood. These passages I found very difficult to read, but completely understood that they were needed to fulfil the story as a whole. I also feel that the author tackles this subject with great empathy and sensitivity. 

We then also have the ongoing drama of Robyn's dead fiancĂ©, Davies, the thread of this story was left hanging midair at the end of the last book. This backstory fascinated me and I felt that it shed great insight into Robyn's character. What this author also does so well, is that all of these various storylines eventually come together to explain exactly what happened. 

The Silent Children is a book full of hidden secrets that Robyn and her wonderful team have to unearth, and I enjoyed following them down dead ends until the final reveal. It is a gripping thriller of a read.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an Advanced Reader Copy.

The Silent Children is published by Bookouture on 7 Dec. 2017 and can be found on Amazon here.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

#FirstChapterSampler:stillMe @jojomoyes

About Still Me

Lou Clark knows too many things . . .

She knows how many miles lie between her new home in New York and her new boyfriend Sam in London.

She knows her employer is a good man and she knows his wife is keeping a secret from him.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to meet someone who's going to turn her whole life upside down.

Because Josh will remind her so much of a man she used to know that it'll hurt.

Lou won't know what to do next, but she knows that whatever she chooses is going to change everything.

First chapter review

Still Me is Jojo Moyes third Lou Clark novel, following the number one international bestsellers Me Before You and After You. I have read both books and upon reading the first sentence of Still Me it felt like she had never been away. Louisa Ckark is like an old friend, even after years apart, when you meet up it feels like nothing has changed. This is exactly how I felt when I read Louisa's description of standing in the immigration queue at the airport in New York, on the cusp of starting her new adventure. As ever, she is witty, funny and utterly likeable.

In this first chapter, Lou meets Nathan, her friend, the nurse who cared for Will, and who has arranged this new job opportunity for her. I love Nathan and was so happy to find that he will be part off this story.

I loved the descriptions of early Manhattan, as Lou escaped into the city in search of a cup of coffee. I've never been to New York, but felt as if I was there with her drinking my cappuccino. I was also very intrigued about Llaria, the woman who Lou bumps into while in the kitchen, searching for milk, the morning after she arrives. Llaria is incredibly antagonistic towards Lou and this piqued my interest. I also can't what to meet the Gopkin family, especially the wife.

This first chapter left me wanting more and I can't wait to read the final instalment in the Louisa Clarke trilogy when it comes out in January. 

With thanks to Michael Jospeh books and NetGalley for this first chapter sample. 

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The Mountain by Luca D'Andrea @maclehosepress

About The Mountain

Salinger blames himself. The crash was his fault. He was the only survivor. Now the depression and the nightmares are closing in. Only his daughter Clara can put a smile on his face.

But when he takes Clara to the Bletterbach - a canyon in the Dolomites rich in fossil remains - he overhears by chance a conversation that gives his life renewed focus. In 1985 three students were murdered there, their bodies savaged, limbs severed and strewn by a killer who was never found.

Salinger, a New Yorker, is far from home, and these Italian mountains, where his wife was born, harbour a close-knit, tight-lipped community whose mistrust of outsiders can turn ugly. All the same, solving this mystery might be the only thing that can keep him sane.

Translated from the Italian by Howard Curtis

 My review of The Mountain


The Mountain is a book that I just couldn't put down. It's a fast paced thriller set in the small Italian village of Siebenhoch, nestled amongst the backdrop of the Italian Dolomites. I loved every single page. 

From the moment I read the blurb and the above tag line, I just wanted to dive on in, and from the very first sentence I found myself in this world of ice, old stories and of course, the deep canyons. 

The Mountain is told from Jeremiah Salinger (everyone calls him Salinger), the only survivor of a helicopter crash. This incident is responsible for a change in Salinger's character and wellbeing, as he finds himself depressed, with his marriage taking the strain. As a father to five-year-old Clara, she is the only one who is able to pull him out of his depression. It is while visiting the Bletterbach, a deep canyon with a visitors centre, that he overhears a conversation about three young people who were muttered there in 1985, that he finds a purpose in life, as he sets out to find the killer. 

I loved the story of a man, a writer of documentaries, who becomes obsessed with the environment in which he lives. As a New Yorker living with his wife and young daughter in the tight knit community of Siebenhoch, which is also were his wife grew up, he very much finds himself as an outsider, almost a visitor, as he tries to win his place in the community. However, after the accident on the mountain, involving the helicopter Mountain rescue team, in which he was observing and videoing the team at work, it is not only himself who he blames for what happened, the community does too. Then, when he decides to investigate what happened to the three young people on the Bletterbach, he finds further animosity as he seeks the truth. Alienating himself further from the local community.

This is Salinger's story and I hung on to every word. His tale of guilt, obsession, his downwards spiral. The remoteness of the mountains, helping to echo his own isolation, both physically and mentally.  I also particularly liked his conversations with his father-in-law, Werner, who lived nearby, as hey sat and smoked, while drinking grappa. I warmed to Werner instantly, as did Salinger.

The Mountain is a breath catching thriller, I honestly didn't know who was responsible for the killings, and my loyalties kept shifting throughout the book. Although the investigation was fascinating, as well as the back story, what truly captivated me was the writing and writing style. It is lyrical at times, and almost part fairytale. The writing is beautiful. It is a story within a story, and this author is a gifted storyteller. The Mountain really is the perfect thriller to read this Winter.

With thanks to the publisher and Bookbridgr for the hardback copy

The Mountain is published on 30 November by MacLehose Press and can be found on Amazon here.

Friday, 24 November 2017

The Lighterman @simonmichaeluk @Urbanebooks

About The Lighterman

The Lighterman is the third book in the bestselling series of legal thrillers starring barrister Charles Holborne. Simon Michael's follow up to the bestselling The Brief and An Honest Man, continues the adventures of criminal barrister Charles Holborne.

Gangland leader Ronnie Kray is not a man to forgive or forget. Holborne has 'taken liberties' and revenge will follow. But how to get at a tough and resourceful Brief with his own history of criminality and a penchant for violence? The answer: find a man who can’t be hanged twice.

Now Holborne must dig up the secrets of the past to save two lives…one of them his own.

Simon Michael brings the past vividly back to life across a beautifully rendered 60s landscape, and delivers a gripping piece of thriller fiction that will excite any fan of the Britcrime genre.

My review of The Lighterman 

The Lighterman is the third instalment in the legal thriller series staring barrister Charles Holburne. I have not read the previous two books, so can say that this book works very well as a standalone novel. This fantastic book, that is set in the 60s and at the time of the Krays, hooked me in from the very beginning. It's a fantastic thriller. 

I'll start by saying that this thriller is hugely refreshing, partly I feel because It is a legal based thriller, as we follow Charles's story, as opposed to a police procedural, plus, it's set in the 60s, so has that wonderful retro feel.  No one is glued to their iPhone or trawling the Internet, and I liked this. Charles is also a likeable character. I just couldn't help but fall a little bit in love with him, and I rooted for him, to keep safe and to seek justice. He oozes charm, is an educated man, but ultimately he talks to everyone as an equal. A cockney boy 'done good'.

The cousin Izzy was also a captivating character, that had me constantly questioning his intentions. However, even though I didn't completely trust him, I did like him, I also liked the descriptions of working on the river as a Lighteman, a term that I had never heard before. The atmospheric descriptions in this book, of when Charles worked on the barges on the River Thames with his cousin, really helped to shape the character that Charles was, and who he was to become. 

I also loved the chapters in the book that described the Kray twins. They made my skin crawl and made the novel even more sinister, with the feeling that nothing good was going to happen by being involved with them.

The Lighterman is a fast paced legal thriller with a truly likeable and interesting protagonist. I now need to go back and read the previous two books in the series. If you love thrillers with great depth, captivating characters and a few unexpected twists along the way, then you'll love The Lighterman.

I purchased my own paperback copy.

The Lighterman was published by Urbane Publications on 11th May 2017. It can be found on Amazon here.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Ours is the Winter @LaurieEllingham @HQDigitalUK

About Ours is the Winter

Erica, Molly and Noah are embarking on the challenge of a lifetime, driving Siberian huskies across the frozen wilderness of the Arctic. Cut off from the world and their loved ones and thrown together under gruelling conditions, it isn’t long before the cracks start to show.

Erica has it all. A loving husband, a successful career and the most adorable baby daughter. But Erica has been living a double life, and as she nears her fortieth birthday her lies threaten to come crashing down.

Molly was on her way to stardom. But when her brother died, so did her dreams of becoming an Olympic champion. Consumed by rage and grief, she has shut out everyone around her, but now she’s about to learn that comfort can come from the most unexpected places.

Noah has a darkness inside him and is hounded by nightmares from his past. Tortured, trapped and struggling to save his fractured relationship, he knows this journey is not going to help, but try telling his girlfriend that.

As their lives and lies become ever more entwined, it becomes clear that in the frozen wilds there is nowhere to hide.

My review of Ours is the Winter

Ours is the Winter is such a beautiful book to read. I first stumbled across Laurie Ellingham when I read One Endless Summer earlier this year. I loved this book and so was very excited to find that she had a new book out. Ours is the Winter did not disappoint. It's magical.

Set amongst the ice and snow of the Arctic, we follow three characters, Erica, Molly and Noah, as they slowly trek across the Arctic as part of the husky challenge. The way in which this landscape is portrayed is breathtaking, I could literally smell the snow and ice, I felt cold. But, what was equally interesting, was the detail about the Siberian huskies and how they helped to move people across the snow. This I found fascinating.

At the heart of this story though are the three characters. Erica, her half stater Molly, and Noah, who they meet as part of the husky challenge team. All have their secrets and all are trying to come to terms with their past in order to build a future. The isolation of the Arctic provides the perfect backdrop for them to examine their lives, and because of the isolation and need for human contact, they are inevitably thrown together, and the examination of their lives can begin.

All three characters intrigued me, and I wanted to understand what had happened to them, I'll admit that Noah, for me, was the most fascinating of the three. His story gripped me. He could not escape the trauma of what had happened to him one fatal night. He still feels trapped within his own body, and the way in which his thoughts and feelings are described on the page is just heartbreaking and utterly believable. As half sisters. Erica invited Molly on the trip to try and reconnect, to try and build up their relationship, and again this was hugely emotional to read. As we progress through the book, we slowly learn what happened to these three characters, and how they can all help each other heal.

This is a perfect book to read during those cold winter nights. It's a book about the past, but also about new beginnings. It's delightful.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an Advanced Reader Copy for Review purposes.

Ours is the Winter was published on 17 Nov. 2017 by HQ Digital and can be found on Amazon here.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Waves @jacarnie @Urbanebooks

About Waves

Alex is stuck. Stuck in Essex. Stuck in his childhood home. Stuck in a job he hates. The relationship he'd been counting on all these years has finally fallen apart. He's run out of things to hope for. Anxious, uncertain and totally sober, Alex is dragged to the Outer Hebrides by his long-suffering friend, James. Somewhere between the mountains and the sea, Alex is desperate to find something to ignite a spark of life in him again. Through castles, ceilidhs, bothies, lochs, vast beaches and tiny boats, chance meetings and old friends, Alex has to learn that maybe taking responsibility doesn't mean the end of feeling free.

My review of Waves

Waves is the debut novel by Jared A. Carnie and what a beautiful book it is.

The novel revolves around Alex and how he finds himself alone and lost in the world, in terms of his personal life, work, and personal identity. This book is about Alex finding out who he is and his place in the world.

The book begins by telling us about Alex's recent breakup with his long term girlfriend. His best friend James, whose family now live in the Outer Hebrides, comes to Alex's rescue and the two young men find themselves temporarily  living in this beautiful part of the world. A place where Alex can plan his future and face his demons.

For me this book was pure escapism. I loved the descriptions of the beaches, the locals and Scottish life in general. The pace of life was much slower, more gentle and this impacted greatly upon Alex and the changes that he needed to make in his own life. Together with the calming scenery, fresh air, the love of James's family, and his friendship with Isobel, Alex finds himself being able to reflect and rebuild his life.

This is very much a coming of age novel but for grown ups. This type of novel usually focusses upon young women, so it was very refreshing and interesting to read a novel that focusses upon the inner struggle of a young man who is trying to come to terms with who he really is, and what he needs to be.

Waves is beautifully written and a gentle, slow paced read. It's a book to savour and is very much character driven. I liked Alex and this I feel is hugely important,  as you need to both like him and to root for his future for this book to have meaning and resonance.

This book is such a joy to read. It's full of hope and the fact that change is  always possible, no matter what your circumstances. I look forward to reading more by this author.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a review copy.

Waves was published by Urbane Publications on 15 Sept. 2016 and can be found on Amazon here.

Friday, 17 November 2017

The Foster Child @JennyBlackhurst @headlinepeg

About The Foster Child

When child psychologist Imogen Reid takes on the case of 11-year-old Ellie Atkinson, she refuses to listen to warnings that the girl is dangerous.

Ellie was the only survivor of a fire that killed her family. Imogen is convinced she's just a sad and angry child struggling to cope with her loss.

But Ellie's foster parents and teachers are starting to fear her. When she gets upset, bad things seem to happen. And as Imogen gets closer to Ellie, she may be putting herself in danger...

My review of The Foster Child

The Foster Child is a gripping and disturbing read and I devoured it in a few short sittings. It's fast paced, packed with short and punchy chapters that took my breath away. I found myself completely immersed in this unsettling story about a young girl who nobody quite seems to understand. 

Imogen Reid is a child psychologist who together with her husband, finds herself back in the town where she grew up, and living in her deceased mother's house. From the very offset the scene is set for an unsettling and quite creepy read. The shocking prologue brilliantly draws you in and then the descriptions of the town and its inhabitants most certainly have a disturbing and unnatural vibe.

This book's blurb is very vague, and with good reason, so I won't go into plot specifics. It's just enough to say that Imogen in her role as child psychologist, finds herself working with Ellie, the eleven year old girl who was the only survived of a house fire that killed her family. 

Throughout the book we hear from both Imogen and Ellie, and this gave real insight into what had happened in the past. What I most particularly enjoyed was their conversations and interaction. Here is a little girl who has lost everything and who it appears, has been shunned by the local community. Why is this? What are they all afraid of ? Why can't they see the frightened and alone girl that Imogen sees?

This is such a clever read, as it is so difficult to know who to believe. Is Imogen 's version of an afraid and misunderstood little girl, correct? Or should everyone really be afraid of this little girl? While reading, my judgement kept shifting. I think that as a mother you cannot help but side with Ellie. I was on her side, but it was also hard to admit to myself that she made me feel uneasy. And as for the ending...well...just brilliant!

The Foster Child is a stunning read. It's all consuming, eerie, unsettling and it made me question the little girl before me on the page. It's a psychological thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. It's an amazing book. 

With thanks to the publisher and Bookbridgr for an Advanced paperback copy.

The Foster Child was published by Headline on 16 November. It can be found on Amazon here.


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin @HodderBooks

About The Wicked Cometh

'We have no need to protect ourselves from the bad sort
because we ARE the bad sort . . .'

'This newspaper has taken note that the past month has been remarkable for the prevalence of cases where men, women and children are declared missing. Scarcely a week passes without the occurrence of an incident of this type' - The Morning Herald, Tuesday 13 September 1831

Down the murky alleyways of London, acts of unspeakable wickedness are taking place and the city's vulnerable poor are disappearing from the streets. Out of these shadows comes Hester White, a bright young woman who is desperate to escape the slums by any means possible.

When Hester is thrust into the world of the aristocratic Brock family, she leaps at the chance to improve her station in life under the tutelage of the fiercely intelligent and mysterious Rebekah Brock.

But whispers from her past slowly begin to poison her new life and both she and Rebekah are lured into the most sinister of investigations, dragging them into the blackest heart of a city where something more depraved than either of them could ever imagine is lurking. . .

My review of The Wicked Cometh

The Wicked Cometh is a deliciously dark historical novel that is very much a refreshing and modern read. It's a story about survival, hope, friendship, and kindness in the most darkest of times. It's a lovely book. 

Set in the grime and the heart of London, The Wicked Cometh is set during Victorian times when only the strongest and most quick witted survive. The novel revolves around the disappearances of several children in central London. What and who is behind this mystery? The novel for me worked because it was so authentic. I felt like I was wandering around the inner city streets, amongst the most deprived in the city, and then, due to a life changing event, finding myself alongside Hester as she is transported into the warmth of the Brock family. 

This book is part historical novel, part mystery and ultimately it is a love story. There are many multilayered events to this novel that make it hard to define as simply one genre. It's just enough to say that it is a highly enjoyable read. 

So, we have Hester, born to privilege, an educated young woman who through the death of her parents finds herself thrust into poverty, as she relocates to London while living with her old gardener and his wife. It is only through a chance encounter with the gentleman Mr Brock, that Hester's life path is changed forever.

This novel is refreshing as it focuses upon two very strong and inspiring female characters. Rebekah and Hester. Both women are from different backgrounds, different lives, and although Rebekah's role is to give Hester an education as part of a social experiment, it is actually Hester who inspires and teaches Rebekah. The two women complement each other and I loved the dialogue and interaction between them. 

This Wicked Cometh is beautifully written, it's deliciously slow paced which I found pleasantly surprising in contest to today's fast paced thrillers. The slow pace suited the narrative as we slowly followed Rebekah and Hester in their quest to solve the mystery of the missing children. Nothing is ever easy though, and the book proves this with several unexpected but delightful twists. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this dark, historical and mystery novel with its captivating characters and exquisite writing. It's a remarkable debut novel. 

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the Advanced Reader Copy

The Wicked Cometh is published by Hodder & Stoughton on 8 Feb. 2018. It can be found on Amazon here.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Dark Chapter @winniemli @Legend_Press #BlogTour

About Dark Chapter

Vivian is a cosmopolitan Taiwanese-American tourist who often escapes her busy life in London through adventure and travel. Johnny is a 15-year-old Irish teenager, living a neglected life on the margins of society.

On a bright spring afternoon in West Belfast, their paths collide during a horrifying act of violence.

In the aftermath, each is forced to confront the chain of events that led to the attack.

Inspired by true events, this is a story of the dark chapters and chance encounters that can irrevocably determine the shape of our lives.

My review of Dark Chapter

Dark Chapter by Winnie Li is about the brutal rape of a young Taiwanese-American woman who is a tourist in West Belfast. Her attack happens in broad daylight while enjoying a day's hike. Her rapist is Johnny, a 15-year old boy. The book is based upon the author's own experience of rape.

I'll start by saying that I tried several times to write a concise review of this novel, but that each time I found it difficult to find the correct words. I will say that this book is hugely important, it gives a voice to women who have been abused, repressed and attacked in such a brutal and animalistic way. More importantly, it gave a voice to this author, a way to share her story through the narrative of fiction. This is a story of survival, and I hope that it is ok to use that term, as I am acutely aware that words are important when talking about women who have been victims of this type of horrific crime. So for this review I am going to talk mainly about how this book made me feel, and why I think that it is an important book.

From the very beginning we know that this young woman is raped and who the rapist is, so this is not a who done it type of read. That's not the purpose of this book. I found this book to be an exploration into the mind of the rapist, but more importantly, how the attack impacted Vivian, both psychologically and mentally. That's what this book is all about. All too often we hear about rape, but we don't get to fully understand how women are affected in every aspect of their daily lives. This book tackles this head on, from the actual rape, through to, and then after, the court case. Which leads me onto the actual rape scene. It is graphic, and I found very difficult to read, but I knew that this was the intention. To fully understand what happens to Vivian, we need to read about how she was abused sexually, and so the depiction of rape is needed. I'll be honest and say that I read the scene quickly, wishing it to be over, and afterwards I needed to have a break of a few days as the writing really shook me up, it got under my skin. 

I really did feel as if I was walking alongside Vivian, just after the rape and in the weeks and months that followed it. What she describes is authentic, and I knew that this was because the author was writing from her own viewpoint. The scene in which she needs to be photographed is incredibly poignant, as is the scene in the hospital, with what appears to be uncaring or indifferent staff. My heart went out to this woman. A woman who had been abused in the most horrific way, but that life just carried on around her. The only reference point that I could grasp at was that of a close bereavement, but of course, she had been violated in such a degrading way, and even though I felt I understood her feelings, I couldn't fully feel how she was feeling, I only think that this is possible if you have also been raped.

This book is hugely important as it openly discusses rape from the victim's point of view. It gives women who have been raped a voice, a voice which many will not have. This book now seems even more relevant with the recent #MeToo campaign.

Dark Chapter is, as the name suggests, dark. But I also feel that Dark Chapter is about hope and new beginnings. It is one chapter in this woman's life. Winnie Li writes with such brutal honesty, courage and emotion, that she made me weep. I wept for this young woman who was raped, whose life changed so dramatically at the hands of a 15-year-old boy. I'm glad that Winnie found her voice, and that she allowed us into her Dark Chapter. Thank you for writing such an important and powerful book about the strength of women.  

With thanks to the publisher for the copy of Dark Chapter and for inviting me on  the Blog Tour.

Dark Chapter recently wo the Guardian's Not The Booker Prize.

Dark Chapter was published in paperback on 1st November and can be found on Amazon here

About the author

Winnie M. Li is a writer and producer, who has worked in the creative industries on three continents. A Harvard graduate, she has written for travel guide books, produced independent feature films, programmed for film festivals, and developed eco-tourism projects. After graduating with Distinction in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths (where she was shortlisted for the Pat Kavanagh Prize 2015), she now currently writes across a range of media (including a column for The Huffington Post), runs arts festivals, and is a PhD researcher in Media and Communications at the London School of Economics. She was Highly Commended for the CWA Debut Dagger 2015 and also shortlisted for the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize. She lives in London yet is somewhat addicted to travel. Dark Chapter is her first novel.

Follow Winnie online at or on Twitter @winniemli

Follow the Blog Tour

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Class Murder @LeighRussell @noexitpress

About Class Murder

With so many potential victims to choose from, there would be many deaths. He was spoiled for choice, really, but he was determined to take his time and select his targets carefully. Only by controlling his feelings could he maintain his success. He smiled to himself. If he was clever, he would never have to stop. And he was clever. He was very clever. Far too clever to be caught.

Geraldine Steel is reunited with her former sergeant, Ian Peterson.

When two people are murdered, their only connection lies buried in the past. As police search for the elusive killer, another body is discovered. Pursuing her first investigation in York, Geraldine Steel struggles to solve the baffling case. How can she expose the killer, and rescue her shattered reputation, when all the witnesses are being murdered?

My review of Class Murder

Class Murder is the tenth instalment in the Geraldine Steel police series, but it's the first book that I have read by this author, and I loved it. I can also add that this book worked for me as a stand alone novel, although I now desperately want to go back and read the previous novels in the series.

This really is a gripping serial killer read that hooked me in from the very first chapter. Geraldine Steel is now living and working in York and has been demoted to a DS. She finds herself investigating the brutal murder of a young woman who was alone in her flat, and then the murder of a young man, both of whom went to the same school, and who were in the same class, many years previously. Geraldine finds herself, together with DI Ian Peterson, in a race against time to catch the killer, before they kill again.

This book is told from several viewpoints, including the killer, and I especially enjoyed reading these chapters that gave a snapshot into the mind of someone who kills. The depiction of the killer is cleverly done, with subtlety and clear insight into why they want to kill. Most importantly the killer is utterly believable.

I really enjoyed getting to know Geraldine and her back story. She is very much the new member of staff in this story and as well as having to get used to her new working environment, colleagues and York, she is also having to deal with her own personal changes, in terms of finding herself alone in a new city, miles away from her friends and family.

This is an absorbing and compelling serial killer read that explores the mind and motive of a killer, and how the police work to track down that killer. There are a few twists that I didn't see coming, but for me, this book worked because I liked Geraldine. I liked her work ethic, her vulnerability, and the fact that she is far from perfect. She was 'real' to me, and I can't wait to read more books in this series.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the Advanced Reader Copy.

Class Murder is published by No Exit Press on December 7 and can be found on Amazon here.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Yuki Means Happiness @A_J_Lester @johnmurrays

About Yuki Means Happiness

Diana is young and uneasy in a new relationship when she leaves America and moves halfway around the world to Tokyo seeking adventure. In Japan she takes a job as a nanny to two-year-old Yuki Yoshimura and sets about adapting to a routine of English practice, ballet and swimming lessons, and Japanese cooking.

But as Diana becomes increasingly attached to Yuki she also becomes aware that everything in the Yoshimura household isn't as it first seemed. Before long, she must ask herself if she is brave enough to put everything on the line for the child under her care, confronting her own demons at every step of the way.

Yuki Means Happiness is a rich and powerfully illuminating portrait of the intense relationship between a young woman and her small charge, as well as one woman's journey to discover her true self.

My review of Yuki Means Happiness

Yuki Means Happiness is such a beautiful book to read. This book explores Japanese culture, a differing culture, and is an interwoven mystery with two central love stories, that for a child, and for the young man Porter who is waiting patiently for Diana to come home to America. I adored this book for so many reasons and devoured it in a few days. 

The book revolves around Diana, an American nurse who many years before helped Emi, a Japanese woman, who had given birth to Yuki Yoshimura. Diana helped her attend to the baby in the month following the birth. It is then two years later that she meets the husband, Naoki, once again, and agrees to become a nanny to Yuki following the couple's separation, as it appears that Emi has left Yuki to start a new life. But to begin with Diana only hears Naoki's point of view.

So I instantly found myself thrust into Japanese life, as did Diana, and I absolutely loved the colourful descriptions, the Japanese language and characters that we stumbled upon. I have always wanted to go to Japan, and in particular Tokyo, (I love the film Lost in Translation) so I gobbled up all the Japanese culture, food and general way of life. 

The bones of this book is about the relationship between Yuki and Diana, and I particularly enjoyed the passages of the book that featured only the two of them, that helped to show me as a reader their special bond. Here is a young woman, a nurse, who takes on the role of mother and protector, and I admired her for this. 

We also have the evolving relationship between Diana and Porter (oh I loved Porter) and of how Diana gained perspective on her relationship with him because of the distance between them. This really is a story about how this young woman finds out who she is and where her life should be heading. It is also about her dealing with issues from her past that then help to shape her future. 

Yuki Means Happiness is a deceptively clever read, as nothing is as it first seems, and the cracks within the Yoshimura household soon begin to appear. The real joy is in the observing the blossoming relationship between Diana and Yuki, how Diana grows in strength and how she begins to find her place in the world. Part romance, part mystery (as to why Emi left her daughter) this really is a most beautiful and enjoyable novel that is deliciously slow paced. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

With thanks to the publisher and Bookbridgr for providing a hardback copy of the book for review purposes.

Yuki Means Happiness was published by John Murray in hardback on 27 July 2017. It can be found on Amazon here.