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Friday, 30 June 2017

Meet Me at the Lighthouse @MaryJayneBaker

About Meet Me at the Lighthouse

Bobbie Hannigan’s life in a cottage by the sea with her dog and her twin sister is perfectly fine … until she decides the logical thing is to buy a lighthouse and open a music venue with Ross Mason, the first boy she ever kissed.

Bobbie tries to be professional with Ross, but the happily-ever-after they’re working toward is too good to resist. That is until someone from his past crawls back to cause trouble. Can Bobbie look past the secrets Ross has been keeping from her? Or will the boy, the lighthouse, and the dream all slip away?

Escape to the Yorkshire coast this summer with this laugh out loud romantic comedy from Mary Jayne Baker!

My review of Meet Me at the Lighthouse

Meet Me at the Lighthouse was an absolute joy to read. It is one of those heartwarming, cosy and utterly romantic books that  make you feel good about the world. I read this book in a day, as I just couldn't put it down.

From the moment that I read the opening lines, I just knew that I would fall in love with this book. It really is something special. I loved the idea of meeting the boy that you first kissed at school, now a man, and then finding out what the future would bring. Now in their late twenties, both Bobbie and Ross have previous relationships behind them, and it is only their pasts that can really influence their future happiness.

Bobbie and Ross make a refreshing romantic couple. She is feisty, strong willed and is no pushover. He is sensitive, caring (and of coarse ruggedly handsome), but together they both have their strengths that they use to support each other. Bobbie is no shrinking violet, and I loved her for this. From the moment I met Ross on the page I fell for him, just as Bobbie did, who wouldn't? What I really loved about this book was the sense of the Yorkshire community. That community spirit that rallies around in times of need. The community certainly has its share of memorable characters.  Most of them made laugh out loud!

This book is a beautiful romantic story with lots of heart, and everything that you would expect from a romantic read. It also has a lot of laughs throughout, mainly from the dialogue between Bobbie and Ross, who are naturally funny together.

Meet Me at the Lighthouse is one of those feel good books that make you smile, and help you forget about the worries in the world, while you sit and read it. If you want a book to take on holiday, or simply to enjoy while sitting in your garden, then I can wholeheartedly recommend this book. It really is a delicious treat of a read.

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

Meet Me at the Lighthouse is published June 30 by HarperImpulse. It is available to buy from Amazon here

About the author

Mary Jayne Baker grew up in rural West Yorkshire, right in the heart of Brontë country… and she's still there. After graduating from Durham University with a degree in English Literature in 2003, she dallied with living in cities including London, but eventually came back to her beloved Dales with her own romantic hero in tow.

She lives with him in a little house with four little cats and a little rabbit, writing stories about girls with flaws and the men who love them. You can usually find her there with either a pen, some knitting needles or a glass of wine in hand. She goes to work every day as a graphic designer for a magazine publisher, but secretly dreams of being a lighthouse keeper.

More information can be found about MJ on her website at You can also follow her on Twitter, @MaryJayneBaker, or like her Facebook page by going to

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Wormwood by @KEColeswriting #bookreview

About Wormwood

‘I wore my guilt like a coat, but it was one I was used to wearing – old and worn and shabby, and it fitted me perfectly.’ They’re finished, aren’t they? Mesmeris. But what if they’re not? How far will you go to protect the people you love? Pearl has moved on with her life. She has a home, a job, a wonderful friend in Spicer, and a beautiful child – everything anyone could want. If only she could stop loving Art.

My review of Wormwood

Wormwood is the third instalment in the deeply dark Mesmeris series. I have had the great pleasure in reading the previous two books and this book was just as exciting and enjoyable to read. I'll just add here that the books are best read in chronological order. Wormwood carries off from where Book Two ended, so I won't say any more in case you haven't read Infixion. All I will say is that you are in for a treat, as this book is such a dramatic ending to the trilogy.

For me, the star of this book is Pearl. We see a more mature Pearl as she has had to grow up, particularly now that she is a mother.  She wants to start a new life for herself with her son and friend Spicer, but can she truly be free of Mesmeris? This is the exciting premise of Wormwood and from the very disturbing start, the action never stops.

K E Coles is an exceptionally gifted storyteller. She blends the theme of the occult and some very disturbing storylines, into what is predominantly a YA book, but as I have said in my previous reviews of this author's work, these are YA books like no other. Yes, the subject matter is somewhat disturbing and gritty, but the story is told with such empathy and understanding that as a reader we are given perspective, we can stand back and truly think about what is happening, and these novels do make you think. Wormwood had me thinking about what it is to be a mother, a friend and what I would do to protect my child. It's a thought provoking read.

Wormwood is an exciting roller coaster of a read as we learn the answers to many unanswered questions, left over from the previous two books. We learn more about the notorious Papa, a character who genuinely frightened me,  as well as finding out more about Art. For me though, the character that I bonded most with was Spicer. We should all have a Spicer in our lives.

Wormwood is a deliciously dark and compelling read. If you have read Mesmeris and Infixion, you are in for a wonderful finale. If you are new to this series, begin with Mesmeris, you can read my review here.

With thanks to the author who provided a digital copy for review purposes.

Wormwood was published on 21 Jun. 2016 and is available to buy from Amazon here

About the author

Karen Coles was born in Taplow, Berkshire. Before beginning her writing career she was an exhibiting artist and occasional art tutor.
Mesmeris, a darkly compelling tale about a malign religious sect, Infixion, its sequel, and the third and final book in the trilogy, Wormwood, are all available from Amazon.
Karen now lives in beautiful West Wales, where she's busy writing her fourth novel.
She's on twitter @KEColeswriting

Monday, 26 June 2017

Seeking Eden @BevHarvey_ @urbanebooks #bookreview

About Seeking Eden

'50 is the new 30 - haven't you heard?' Or so says Ben Wilde's record producer on the eve of his comeback. If only Ben could win back ex-girlfriend, Kate, he'd be a happy man. But married Kate has moved on, and moved out - to Eden Hill, a quiet housing estate in the suburbs. Lonely and homesick for London, can Kate resist ego-maniac Ben's advances and save her own flagging marriage? Streets away, Kate's new friend Lisa, a Chihuahua toting ex-WAG, is primed for a fresh start - until her footballer ex-husband is found dead and she is vilified in the gutter press. But Kate, Lisa and Ben aren't the only ones having a midlife crisis; local shop owner Martin dreams of escaping his dutiful marriage, and develops an unhealthy obsession with Lisa and her friends in Eden Hill. Alongside a colourful cast of friends and family, Kate, Lisa, Ben and Martin are living proof that older does not always mean wiser because in Eden Hill, there's temptation around every corner.

My review of Seeking Eden

Seeking Eden was such a joy to read. I loved the premise of this book. That of being able to gain an insight into the lives of the neighbours who live in Eden Hills, an upper class housing estate. It was a fascinating and enjoyable read.

The novel begins when Kate and Neil move from their inner city London home to Eden Hills. They want a fresh start, a quieter life, but can this really happen? I was hooked from the very beginning, and instantly felt as if I knew both Kate and Neil, they were like old friends. I really warmed to them and wanted to know how they would get on once they moved to their new home on the Eden Hills 'estate'.

The surprise for me was that I also got to follow the lives of other characters who lived in Eden Hills, all of whom were as equally interesting as Kate and Neil. All with their own unique story to tell. Martin owns the carpet shop in the area and is married to Jan. He is the typical 'midlife crisis' and I loved this character. Another equally engaging character is that of Lisa, ex WAG, now divorced, who is living her life once again. She truly amazed me in her generosity of spirit and toughness.

The plot is delightful, weaving together all of these different stories under one common theme, that of approaching your fifties and trying to work out what life is all about. All of the characters are trying to find their place in the world, forming relationships and friendships both old and new. As the book description states, growing 'older does not always mean wiser,' and these wonderful characters make a fair few mistakes, that make for an absorbing and interesting read.

Seeking Eden tackles some serious issues, of which I don't want to write about as they would be spoilers. I just mention this as the book is incredibly deep at times, it made me think about my own life. I really began to care for all of these characters and wanted the absolute best for them. I really felt that I got to know them, and all of their secrets.

Seeking Eden is a hugely enjoyable and easy book to read, I flew through the pages. It is lighthearted in places and incredibly thought provoking in others. What I loved most about it though was the fact that it featured middle aged adults falling in love, dealing with messy relationships and life changing decisions. This was hugely refreshing. I look forward to reading more books by Beverley Harvey.

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

Seeking Eden published by Urbane Publications on 6 July 2017 can be found on Amazon here.

About the author

For almost thirty years Beverley Harvey has worked in the communications industry, initially in advertising in a variety of support roles, and later in PR where she trained in a London agency before becoming a freelance consultant in 2001. Beverley (Bev to her friends) recently swapped PR campaigns for plot lines and completed her first novel; she continues to supply words for businesses across a number of sectors. When not writing - or reading, Bev enjoys listening to rock and indie music, cooking, baking, and keeping fit. An animal lover (her heart belongs to doggies) she is inspired by nature, art and life's daily trials and tribulations. Born in Yorkshire, and raised in South London, Beverley now lives in Kent with her partner.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit #bookreview

About Fear



Family is everything.

So what if yours was being terrorised by a neighbour – a man who doesn’t listen to reason, whose actions become more erratic and sinister with each passing day? And those you thought would help – the police, your lawyer – can’t help you.

You become afraid to leave your family at home alone. But there’s nothing more you can do to protect them.

Is there?

'FEAR shifts our moral codes. It makes us sympathetic to violent revenge, accessories to murder. Do we want the victim to survive? No, we don't' - HERMAN KOCH, bestselling author of THE DINNER

My review of Fear

Wow! Where do I start with this book review? I absolutely loved Fear for its originality, creeping sense of unease and that knowledge that everything that happened was completely believable, and could happen to any one of us. This really is a compelling and challenging psychological thriller.

Fear is the first novel by Dirk Kurbjuweit to be translated from his native German, but is the author's seventh novel. He writes with cutting clarity, having based the novel om real life vents, those of being stalked. This somehow makes the events of the novel even more chilling.

Dieter Tiberius is the stalker. He lives in the basement flat. A man of a different social class to the rest of the building, and to the Tiefenthaler family: Randolph and his wife, who have two small children. He is described as being different from the very beginning of the story. He looks different and he acts differently, he is an outsider. From the way that his character is displayed on the page, we should be fearful of him. Does he deserve the violent revenge that is bestowed upon him? This is where the novel is very clever, in that my moral compass shifted as I read through the pages.

We learn at the beginning of the story that
Hermann Tiefenthaler, father to Randolph, is in prison for manslaughter. The victim is Dieter Tiberius, but the true nature io the crime, and exactly what happened are not revealed until the very end of the story. We read Randolph's thoughts about what has happened, his relationship with his father, past and present and how he perceives his relationship to be with his wife. This is very much a slow burning and dark read about revenge and the need to protect your family at all costs. To completely understand the  motives of the Tiefenthaler family, we need to understand them, their character, and this is what the author does beautifully, through the telling of stories, encounters and how life was for Randolph growing up in a household that was full of guns.

Fear tackles some serious issues. Those of gun ownership, child abuse, social inequality and social class. How we are raised and the social class we are elevated to, all have equal importance in this novel. For me though, the heart of this novel came down to the fact that because the police would bot protect Randolph and his family from the torrent of psychological abuse that they were receiving, they felt they had to take matters into their own hands. The law is powerless to protect them from psychological abuse. This is in itself an interesting concept, that of a psychological attack, the written word, one spoken word against another. Whose version of events do we really believe?

Fear is a challenging read. Do we believe Randolph? Do we empathise with the victim? The real question is, how far would you go to protect your family? It will leave you reeling. My thoughts kept coming back to this book, days after reading it. This book is not published until January next year and it already has a huge following on social media. This book is going to be huge, and for very good reasons.

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

Fear is published January 25th 2018 by Orion Publishing Group. You can pre order the book on Amazon here.

About the author

Dirk Kurbjuweit is deputy editor-in-chief at Der Spiegel, where he has worked since 1999, and divides his time between Berlin and Hamburg. He has received numerous awards for his writing, including the Egon Erwin Kisch Prize for journalism, and is the author of seven critically acclaimed novels, many of which, including Fear, have been adapted for film, television and radio in Germany. Fear is the first of his works to be translated into English.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

He Made Me by Oliver Tidy #bookreview #BlogTour

About He Made Me

David Booker and Jo Cash are experiencing similar stuttering starts to their new lives on Romney Marsh when Rebecca Swaine turns up seeking help. Someone is demanding a lot of money from her husband and she wants to know why.

What do the dying words of one man - he made me - actually mean?

As the mystery unfolds people will come undone and reputations will be ruined before the answer becomes clear.

At the end of the day Mrs Swaine might end up wishing she’d let sleeping dogs lie…

My review of He Made Me

I shall start by saying that I loved this book. What an absolutely fantastic read. It was funny, yet serious at the same time. This is crime thriller of a read and part cozy murder mystery with lots of  humour. I found it a most refreshing read. This is the second book in the Booker & Cash series, and I can honestly say that you could jump right in on this story, as I knew absolutely nothing about the characters. haven't read the first novel, Bad Sons, but I still felt as if I had known them for a long time by the end of the first few chapters. So, it really does work as a stand alone novel. Having said all that, I am going to go back and read Bad Sons at a later date.

He Made Me is a compelling thriller. I had no idea who the culprit was, and thought I had guessed the motive and killer several times throughout the book, but I was completely wrong. There are so many twists and turns in this story, that I found it very difficult to stop reading, I actually read this book in several short sittings, it was that addictive. The chapters are also fairly short, so this helped with the fast paced nature of the book. The ending also truly surprised me. The plot really is a fast paced and interesting one, blending the arts and culture into that of a cozy, crime thriller type of read. I read with interest about what was going on, immersed myself fully with all of the characters and I really felt as if I was walking step by step with Jo and David as they sought out the truth.

For me though, the strength in this novel lies in the bond between the two main characters, Jo Cash and David Booker. Their on page chemistry was just so palpable. They truly are a most distinctive and unusual 'detective' pairing. But they work so well together! They both use their strengths to help and support each other, there is no power play with these two and I love them for it. They are also a very fumy duo, without even trying to be funny. Although this is predominantly a crime thriller, as I have already said this book is also very funny, the humour helps to lighten  the mood and to give the novel perspective.

I have never been to Romney Marsh but I would so love to go there now. I would love to go to David Booker's bookshop/café, to browse the bookshelves and to have a slice of cake. The descriptions of this bookshop are so vivid, I could actually smell the books and taste he coffee!

He Made Me is a delightful read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

With thanks to Bloodhound Books and Sarah Hardy for the Advanced Reader Copy.

He Made Me can be found on Amazon here.

About the author

Oliver Tidy was born and bred on Romney Marsh, Kent. After a fairly aimless foray into adulthood and a number of unfulfilling jobs he went back to education and qualified as a primary school teacher.    
A few years of having the life sucked out of him in the classroom encouraged Oliver abroad to teach English as a foreign language. The lifestyle provided him the time and opportunity to try his hand at writing.
Oliver's success as a self-published author has led to his Booker & Cash series of books, which are set mainly on Romney Marsh, being signed by Bloodhound Books.
Oliver is now back living on Romney Marsh and writing full time.


Catch up on the Blog Tour

Monday, 19 June 2017

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell #blogtour #bookreview

About Exquisite
A chilling, exquisitely written and evocative thriller set in the Lake District, centring on the obsessive relationship that develops between two writers...
Bo Luxton has it all - a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name.

Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend.

When they meet at a writers' retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops... Or does it?

Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.
My review of Exquisite

Exquisite is a beautifully written, domestic thriller that I hungrily devoured in a day. This is a dark, sexy, disturbing and indeed 'exquisite' read that had me guessing until the final page.

We are introduced firstly to Bo Luxton, a successful novelist, a woman in her forties who is married with two little girls. She lives in a picture postcard cottage in the Lake District. When we are first introduced to her, it seems that she is living the perfect and idyllic life, but is everything truly as it seems?

It is during a writing retreat that Bo has organised, that she is first introduced to Alice Dark, a young woman with a loser boyfriend who wants so much more from life. She wants to escape her dreary Brighton bedsit and make a name for herself as a professional writer. She's lost her way and writing could be her salvation.

Both women are polar opposites. One respectable, married, a successful writer, the other has none of these qualities. But, they surprisingly share a similar upbringing which is partly responsible for the bond that begins to tie them together. A sinister relationship begins, an all consuming one, based upon manipulation, control and power. But who is telling the truth? Who can we believe?

Exquisite is told in alternating chapters, in first person narrative. We read the thoughts of both Alice and Bo, sometimes the same scene is retold via an alternative viewpoint and this helps to give perspective on what has happened. We also get to read email correspondence from both women, which further help to clarify matters, and allows us to peel back the layers to see who exactly is telling the truth.

This book is about passion, obsession and the creative process. Both women are skilled writers, and it is this urge to create, especially when they are together at the writing retreat that sparks are formed. This is a hugely believable novel about the power one human can have over another, that emotional connection, the need to be as close as possible to that person who truly understands you. It is about all consuming love, the kind that clouds judgment, until you cannot see what is real or true any more. It is a shocking read, a disturbing read, made all the more unnerving because it is scarily real.

The imagery and language that are used are sublime, in that they help to evoke the oppressive and compelling drama that is unfurled before us. The surrounding of the cottage in the Lake Distant becomes a reflection of Bo, just as the flat in Brighton, a jumbled mass of chaos, takeaway boxes and drunken bodies, echoes the life that Alice is living and the life she so desperately needs to leave behind.

Exquisite is a compelling, thought provoking and page turner of a read. It is quite brilliant. This psychological thriller is going to be huge!
 With thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for an Advanced Reader copy.

Exquisite, published on 15 Jun. 2017 by Orenda Books can be found on Amazon here.

About the author
Sarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, is set in the Lake District.
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Saturday, 17 June 2017

A Secret Sisterhood: The Hidden Friendships of Austen, Bronte, Eliot and Woolf by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney

About A Secret Sisterhood

In their first book together, Midorikawa and Sweeney resurrect four literary collaborations, which were sometimes illicit, scandalous and volatile; sometimes supportive, radical or inspiring; but always, until now, tantalisingly consigned to the shadows.

Drawing on letters and diaries, some of which have never been published before, and new documents uncovered during the authors’ research, the creative connections explored here reveal: Jane Austen’s bond with a family servant, the amateur playwright Anne Sharp; how Charlotte Brontë was inspired by the daring feminist Mary Taylor; the transatlantic relationship between George Eliot and the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe; and the underlying erotic charge that lit the friendship of Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield – a pair too often dismissed as bitter foes.

A Secret Sisterhood uncovers the hidden literary friendships of the world’s most respected female authors.

My review of A Secret Sisterhood

A Secret Sisterhood was an absolute treat to read. I must just mention the stunning cover, which for me, sums up the beauty of this book. A Secret Sisterhood eloquently and succinctly describes in much detail, four female literary collaborations: those of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf. I was absolutely staggered at the sheer amount of research that was undertaken in order to write this book. It is packed with so much information, hidden gems and beautiful descriptions of female solidarity from long, long ago.

This book is a treasure trove of hidden secrets. Very little is known about the friendships that these women had with other women writers, as during their lifetimes their achievements and literary accomplishments were very much downplayed, with male writers receiving much of the recognition. Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney have created a book that highlights these achievements, the strength of women, and how women seek and give strength to other women in the writing profession. This is very much in evidence today, so it is so very refreshing to find that our female literally heroines were doing the very same.

We learn about these much loved writers' private lives and their close friendships, that were often seen as scandalous, from the information that has been painstakingly gathered from lost letters and diaries. In doing so, what happened in the past is made incredibly relevant for today's audience. These women writers had such a close support system. We learn that feminism is not such a new concept, as these women were feminists well before the term was even used.

This is such an uplifting book and one that I enjoyed immensely. If you love to read novels by these four literary heroines,  and are interested in literary history, then this book will really appeal to you. In fact, for anyone interested in literature, or for those who just fancy an absorbing non-fiction read, then you really will enjoy this wonderful treat of a book.

With thanks to the publisher who sent me a hardback copy for review purposes.

A Secret Sisterhood, published by Aurum Press on 1 June can be found on Amazon here.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis #bookreview

About The Honeymoon

There's trouble in paradise . . .

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

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

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

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

My review of The Honeymoon
From the moment I read this book's blurb I wanted to read it... and I am so glad I did. What a page turner of a psychological thriller! This book kept me guessing the whole way through with various twists and turns along the way.
The story is predominantly told from Jemma's point of view, although about half way through, we do read other characters point of views. Jemma has gone on honeymoon with her husband, and we begin the story by reading of how her husband has gone missing. She has not seen him since the night before. I don't want to write any more about what happens, as this is such a plot heavy book, full of twists and turns and I don't want to give anything away.

The novel tells two stories, one from the past and the other based in the present, both told from Jemma's point of view. The past is told in third person and the present day action in first person. What is most interesting is that I felt as though I was reading about two different characters, as the Jemma from the past is very different to the Jemma on the island whose husband has gone missing. It is for this reason that I couldn't figure out if Jemma was an unreliable narrator, if she was a victim or indeed the instigator of her husband's disappearance, and this is what made the novel so very exciting.
The Honeymoon is beautifully written, the juxtaposition of the idyllic honeymoon setting in the Maldives coupled with the grim reality and horror of a husband 'gone missing', presumed dead is pure magic. I was captivated by this story, frantically turning pages, as I needed to know what had happened, and why.
This is a chilling and haunting read. The island seems to close in on Jemma, and she seems all alone. The burning question is, who can she trust? The dream has turned to a nightmare. This is a book that will keep you thoroughly entertained and will keep you guessing. I honesty did not predict how the book would end. This really is a wonderful summer holiday read.
With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the Advanced Reader Copy

The Honeymoon, published by Penguin on 1 June can be found on Amazon here.

About the author

Tina Seskis grew up in Hampshire, and after graduating from the University of Bath spent over 20 years working in marketing and advertising. She is the author of two novels, One Step Too Far and A Serpentine Affair. Tina lives in North London with her husband and son.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

The Ultimatum by Karen Robards #bookreview

About The Ultimatum

The first thriller in the Guardian series by New York Times bestselling author Karen Robards, perfect for fans of Karen Rose and Sandra Brown.

Bianca St. Ives is smart, talented and beautiful. She's also a high-end thief, a master manipulator, a card shark, and a genius of disguise.

A femme fatale Robin Hood running a multinational firm with her father, she makes a living swindling con men out of money they stole and giving it back to those who should rightfully have it. Her father has prepared her well to carry on the family business, and now the prodigy has surpassed the master.

But her latest mission didn't go to plan - millions of dollars and top secret government documents went missing, and her father was supposedly killed. But not everyone believes in his death, including the US government. They'll stop at nothing to capture Richard St. Ives - a high-value target who has been on most-wanted lists all over the world - even if it means using Bianca as bait.

With only a fellow criminal for backup and her life on the line, it's up to Bianca to uncover the terrifying truth behind what really happened . . . and set it right, before it's too late.
My review of The Ultimatum

Well, The Ultimatum is my first ever Karen Robards book and it won't be the last. Wow! This book was amazing. It left me breathless, from the gripping and very scary prologue, right through to the last word, I just couldn't put it down. Ms Robards really is a wonderful storyteller. This is a fast paced thriller that pulls no punches, is action packed, but is also heavily character driven,  and this surprised me. It's an entertaining and compulsive read.

I couldn't put this book down, it really does have it all: action, suspense, crime, romance and a female protagonist who is utterly spellbinding, Bianca St. Ives. The beginning of the novel describes Bianca's situation, as she finds herself in the middle of an aborted mission that has gone horribly wrong. Wow,  as I read these first few chapters that described her predicament, I saw the movie playing in my mind. The descriptions of what was going on around her, as well as her inner monologue were so captivating. I actually felt that I was Bianca, as my heart raced and the panic began to set in... and the book continued at this relentless pace.

The book is obviously plot driven and focusses heavily upon action and suspense. However, this book is also heavily character driven. I often find when reading this genre that character is less important than that of action, but this book redresses the balance, as character is incredibly important. Bianca is obviously the main focus and I really got to know her and her thought processes throughout the novel. I needed to understand her I feel to fully appreciate the novel. Without such a strong female lead, and a likeable one who has a soft and vulnerable core than you otherwise might expect, this book would not be as much of an emotional read, and it is highly emotional.

The Ultimatum is a crime thriller that is packed full of plot and exciting, memorable characters and I loved it. I loved Bianca and what she stood for. It was an incredibly fun, enjoyable and emotional read... and oh my, that ending! I can't wait to read book two in the series.

With thanks to the publisher and Bookbridgr for an advanced hardback copy for review purposes.

The Ultimatum is released in hardback by Hodder & Stoughton on 15 June. 2017. It is available
from Amazon on the following link.

About the author

Karen Robards is the internationally bestselling author of over forty romantic suspense novels, which have regularly appeared on the New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists, among others. She is the mother of three boys and lives with her family in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

You can find out more at and on Facebook at or follow her on Twitter @TheKarenRobards.

Monday, 12 June 2017

A Thousand Paper Birds by Tor Udall #bookreview

About A Thousand Paper Birds

After the sudden death of his wife, Audrey, Jonah sits on a bench in Kew Gardens, trying to reassemble the shattered pieces of his life.

Chloe, shaven-headed and abrasive, finds solace in the origami she meticulously folds. But when she meets Jonah, her carefully constructed defences threaten to fall.

Milly, a child quick to laugh, freely roams Kew, finding beauty everywhere she goes. But where is her mother and where does she go when the gardens are closed?

Harry's purpose is to save plants from extinction. Quiet and enigmatic, he longs for something – or someone – who will root him more firmly to the earth.

Audrey links these strangers together. As the mystery of her death unravels, the characters journey through the seasons to learn that stories, like paper, can be refolded and reformed. Haunted by songs and origami birds, this novel is a love letter to a garden and a hymn to lost things.

My review of A Thousand Paper Birds
This book, oh this beautiful book. From the sublime cover right through to the final words, my heart just ached. I honestly don't know how I can do this book the justice that it truly deserves with my bumbling review, but I'll do my very best.
The novel revolves around Audrey, a woman who dies suddenly. I honestly don't think I have ever read such raw, heartfelt and pure emotion before in such a poetic way upon the page, words that are tightly connected to the imagery, sights and smells of Kew Gardens. It is these gardens that unite all of the characters in this moving story. Those of Jonah, Audrey's husband, Chloe who befriends Jonah, Harry a park keeper and Emily, a little girl who is always seen at the gardens alone. All of these characters have their own unique story to tell, that help us to learn more about Audrey and what happened to her. The way that these stories weave themselves together is breathtaking and incredibly clever. 

Kew really is at the heart of this novel. I have only ever visited the gardens once, and that was over ten years ago. But I remember being absolutely blown over by its beauty and tranquility. The author has managed to capture the essence of Kew and I think that even if you have never been there, you really will get a vivid depiction of what it is like to slowly wander around the grounds. 

I can't really say much more without giving any spoilers away. I just wanted to share how magical this book is and of how it deals so beautifully with loss and grief. From the book's blurb you may be fooled into thinking that the novel is a somewhat depressing read, but this book is so full of hope, beauty and tells us how we are as humans, dealing with love, loss and relationships. 

I must also just mention the beginning of the novel. After reading the first few pages I knew that I would love this book. It quite literally took my breath away. I also had to put the book down for a little while before continuing to read. This was because the words were so powerful, so raw, the image that was created brought a tear to my eye. It is I feel, one of the most powerful openings to a book I have ever read. 

A Thousand Paper Birds is a stunningly beautiful, poignant and compelling read. My heart ached while reading it. I just felt so privileged to be able to gain insight into these characters lives, it really was a most intimate read. This is a book that I just know I will read again and again. I absolutely adore this book. 
A Thousand Paper Birds, published by Bloomsbury Publishing on 15 June 2017 can be found on Amazon here.
With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an Advanced Review Copy.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Turner by Karl Drinkwater #bookreview

About Turner

Some Islands Don't Welcome Visitors.
An isolated Welsh island seemed like the perfect escape for a convict on the run, a jilted woman, and a policeman seeking a quiet life. When the surly locals turn to murderous violence the three visitors are forced to flee together, trying to stay one step ahead of their increasingly insane pursuers.
The bad news keeps coming. There are too many to fight. There is no escape from the island. And the worst storm in years has just begun. They can only run and hide as they face a night of horror and madness. If they don't work together then none of them will live to see the light of day.
This tense survival horror novel is a homage to decades of nasty villains, scary predicaments, and bloody books and films.

My review of Turner

I shall start by saying that I really enjoyed Turner. Horror really isn't my preferred reading genre, but as I like to push my reading comfort zone now and again, reading more horror has been one of my reading objectives. Turner is one fast paced, horror slasher of a read, that had me turning the pages at breakneck speed. To be honest I was thoroughly creeped out while reading this book.

The novel opens with a compelling prologue, as we are introduced to Tom, a visitor to the remote island of Stawl, just off the Anglesey coast in North Wales. While there he meets the unusual and rather unfriendly locals and let's just say that things don't go too well for him.

We are then propelled two months into the future, once again on Stawl Island, where we are introduced to the three protagonists of the story, over three subsequent chapters, all told in the third person, and all who are running from their past in one way or the other. We meet Chris, a new policeman to the island and his faithful dog, Spotty. He wants a quieter life on the island, a life without knives and violence. We meet Megan, a PE teacher who is running from a cheating boyfriend and then finally Chris, a man who is running from the law. All have their own unique voice and story to tell. I knew exactly who was telling their story. I should just point out here that one of the characters does use a lot of explicit language, so if you are easily offended by strings of swear words then this may not be the book for you. For me, this did not matter so much as I felt that this language was needed to fully understand his character.

This novel worked so well for me because of these characters. They were hugely believable and fully drawn, in a novel that for me was mainly driven via the plot. This is an action horror read, and at times the action almost seemed too fast, in that I had difficulty keeping up with who was doing what, but this was the driving force of the novel. It is a being scared by the seat of your pants kind of read. It is an uncomfortable read, one that quickens the pulse and makes you keep the light on.

I must also mention the beautiful setting of North Wales and the remoteness of the island. I know North Wales well, my now husband lived in Llanfairpwll for many years while studying at Bangor University, and the descriptions of Anglesey were so very vivid that they conjured up wonderful memories of time spent in the area, although we were never chased by the locals.

Turner was a hugely refreshing read, as it also contained a psychological element, that I had not been expecting, that gave an added dimension to this novel. It helped to give it meaning. I can also see this book being turned into a movie, it most definitely had that movie vibe in the tone of language used, and pace of action. Turner really was an enjoyable read.

With thanks to the author who provided a paperback copy for review purposes

Turner, published by Organic Apocalypse on 13 Sept. 2016, is available to buy from Amazon here.

About the author

Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but has lived in Wales for half his life. He's a full-time author, edits fiction for other writers, and was a professional librarian for over twenty-five years. He has degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science.

He writes in multiple genres: his aim is always just to tell a good story. Among his books you'll find elements of literary and contemporary fiction, gritty urban, horror, suspense, paranormal, thriller, sci-fi, romance, social commentary, and more. The end result is interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.

When he isn't writing he loves exercise, guitars, computer and board games, the natural environment, animals, social justice, cake, and zombies.

Friday, 9 June 2017

The Secret Wound by Deirdre Quiery

About The Secret Wound

Deirdre Quiery's follow up to the critical success of Eden Burning, The Secret Wound draws the reader into a complex web of relationships within the ex-pat community in Mallorca, discovering their dangerous secrets...and a potential murderer in their midst. One of their number carries a dark and deadly secret from their past, and has murderous plans for a fellow ex-pat. Can any of the close- knit community discover the brutal plans before they are all put in mortal danger? Deirdre Quiery's gripping thriller is not just an addictive page turner, but provides a compelling exploration of human emotion and desires, and the terrible costs of jealousy and ambition. Perfect for fans of Jane Corry and Amanda Brooke.

My review of The Secret Wound

The Secret Wound is a psychological thriller that for me explored family and the neanng of life. This was so much more than a murder mystery. This is a book that explores the inner workings of the mind and how our childhood effects who we are. This really is a deep thinking book.

The novel is set in Belfast, and then Mallorca, during 2013.  At the beginning we are introduced to Gurtha, who is visiting the home of his ageing parents, Nuala and Paddy. However what he is greeted with is his dead mother, at the bottom of the stairs. This is such a powerful opening to a novel and I was instantly hooked. Who had killed Nuala and why? We then follow Gurtha as he tries to find out who killed his beloved mother, and in doing so the plot takes on a sinister turn of events.

It is after his mother's funeral that Gurtha is persuaded to go on a 40 day sabbatical to Mallorca after his mother's death. A close family friend, Cormelia, lives out there and she makes all the necessary arrangements for him to have much needed time away from Belfast.  This is the time for him to re evaluate life, to put his life into perspective. As I have already mentioned this is a very deep thinking book about the bigger picture, with a murder mystery at its very core.

Gurtha is a motivational speaker, he runs art exhibitions, and is a lecturer on the subject of  Conciousness Studies. The essence of his character, and the way in which he deals with his grief is reflected in the themes of the book. The book also has many wonderful life affirming quotes from J Rumi, a Persian poet from the 1200s. When I read the first quote, at the very beginning of the novel, about how a wound allows light to enter the body, I just knew that I was in for a completely different type of physiological thriller/murder mystery, and I was right. I also believe that these quotes are directed at Gurtha, at his time of grief. His relationship with his mother was extremely close, some may say cloying. This book, although a psychological murder mystery is also a book about grief and coming to terms with loss.

What the author does so wonderfully well is to beautifully evoke both Belfast, and then the ex-pat community who live in Soller, Mallorca. I have been to neither Belfast nor Mallorca, but I felt as if I was there and that I knew every nook and  cranny of the spaces that these characters inhabited. There are many wonderful and colourful characters within the novel. Paddy I have to admit was my absolute favourite.  I never truly got to grips with Cornelia, for me she was an enigma from the very beginning, and because of this she did intrigue me. I needed to know more about her life, her past, and I did learn these things as the novel progressed.

The Secret Wound is a beautiful story and one which I find hard to box into a genre. It is beautifully written, lyrical at times, and simply tells the story of what it is to love and to be loved. It is a story about grief and of why people choose to commit murder. The Secret Wound hooked me in from the very beginning and I was so sad to read the final words. Highly recommended.

The Secret Wound, published by Urbane Publications on 9 June. 2017, is available on Amazon here.

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

About the author

Deirdre Quiery was born in Belfast in 1957. She was 14 when her family were evicted from their home in North Belfast during 'The Troubles'. The family then 'squatted on 'The Peace Line' - the frontier of violence between the Catholic District called Ardoyne and the Protestant Shankill Road. These experiences over the next 10 years which included being held hostage, two uncles being murdered and three car bombs exploding outside her home in North Belfast, inspired "Eden Burning".

In search of adventure, Deirdre gave up her full time job, sold her home in Oxford and travelled to Mallorca with her husband and cat and while living in an olive grove with no running water, no TV, no internet and there found the inspiration for her second novel "The Secret Wound" to be published by Urbane Publications in June 2017 which is set in Northern Ireland and Mallorca.

Deirdre loves to not only write but paints, exploring myths and symbols in both writing and painting.

She was First Prize Winner of the Alexander Imich Competition in the USA for inspirational writing about the human condition. Her debut novel "Eden Burning" was nominated for the People's Prize in the UK.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

We've Come to Take You Home by Susan Gandar #bookreview

About We've Come to Take You Home

Samantha Foster and Jessica Brown are destined to meet. But one lives in the 20th century, the other in the 21st... It is April 1916 and thousands of men have left home to fight in the war to end all wars. Jessica Brown's father is about to be one of these men. A year later, he is still alive, but Jess has to steal to keep her family from starving. And then a telegram arrives - her father has been killed in action. Four generations later, Sam Foster's father is admitted to hospital with a suspected brain haemorrhage. A nurse asks if she would like to take her father's hand. Sam refuses. All she wants is to get out of this place, stuck between the world of the living and the world of the dead, a place with no hope and no future, as quickly as possible. As Sam's father's condition worsens, her dreams become more frequent - and more frightening. She realises that what she is experiencing is not a dream, but someone else's living nightmare...

My Review of  We've Come to Take You Home

We've Come to Take You Home is a poignant read about family, history, war and reconnecting with your past to form your future. I had no idea of what to expect when I started to read this debut novel. Was it a love story? An historical read? The genre I find very hard to define, even now once I have read it, but I loved this book for its ghostly themes of love and the past,  and strong female characters who both eloquently told their stories.

We've Come to Take You Home tells the story of two women, four generations apart. Although the stories appear to be separate, as I progressed through the book I realised that the two stories were linked in some way. Jess is living through the hardship of the First World War. Her father has been recently deployed and she needs to help support her mother and new baby brother. The depictions of war are harrowing and brutally honest. When Jess is forced to move to London to work as a maid of all jobs, my heart ached for her. She was thankful for a roof over her head and food in her belly, but at what cost? Was she truly living life?

We also read Sam's story, which is just as moving as Jess's, although in an entirely different way, there are similarities to what they are both going through. They are both young, they are having to adjust to life without a father, and they are both mature beyond their years. She lives in the present day with her mother and pilot dad. She has always seen things, people, that are not really there, and as we read her story , she shares with us the fact that she sees images of war. She sees war nurses attending the sick, the bombed out fields and the sick and dying soldiers. This happens to her without warning, she is simply sucked back in time, living via another person. This is obviously terrifying, but she keeps what she believes are visions to herself, as who would believe her? She has no idea why she sees such images, and neither do we.

This is such a clever story, and on paper you would think it could not possibly work. But, it does. Through both Sam and Jess we learn about what it must have been like for a normal, working class family to live through the hardship of war. Although this is the primary story, we also have Sam's struggle, in her trying to reunite her broken family. Her father is a pilot, and on the day that he leaves the family home, he is involved in an accident that leaves him in a coma. Sam has to deal with her father's critical condition, as well as having to learn to cope with the evolving relationship with her mother. 

This is a deeply moving book about the horrors of war, about family and of the important bond between father and daughter. It is beautifully written and the ending couldn't have happened any other way. I highly recommend this novel and look forward to reading more work by Susan Gandar. 

With thanks to the author who sent me a paperback copy for review purposes.

We've Come to Take You Home, published by Matador on 28 March, 2016, can be found in Amazon here.

About the author

Susan Gandar grew up surrounded by stories and storytelling.

My father, John Box, was a film production designer, working on ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, ‘Dr. Zhivago’, ‘The Great Gatsby’, ‘A Man For All Seasons’ and the musical ‘Oliver’. Our house was always filled with people, usually eccentric, always talented, invariably stroppy, discussing stories. My mother put my father’s four Oscars to good use as toilet roll holders, doorstops and hat stands.

A major chunk of my childhood was spent loitering around on film sets. Who needs an ‘English education’ when you have the marble-dusted streets of downtown Moscow, ten miles outside of Madrid, to explore?

But then the years of ‘Who Will Buy My Sweet Red Roses’ came to a rather abrupt end. Reality knocked on the door in the guise of the Metropolitan Line to Shepherds Bush and the BBC. Working in television as a script editor and story consultant, I was part of the creative team responsible for setting up ‘Casualty’. I became known for going after the more ‘difficult’ stories at the same time successfully racking up viewing figures from 7 to 14 million.

I went on to develop various projects for both the BBC and the independent sector. The period I enjoyed most was working with Jack Rosenthal, a wonderful writer, on the series ‘Moving Story’ – ‘That’s a situation, a good situation, but now you need to make it into a story.’

Martin, my husband, was made an offer he couldn’t refuse and we left England to live in Amsterdam. ‘Ik wil een kilo kabeljauw, alstublieft’ will, if all goes well, buy you a piece of cod – I decided to concentrate on my writing rather than my Dutch pronunciation.

My debut novel, ‘We’ve Come to Take You Home’, set in the present and in 1918, a crossover aimed at the adult and young adult women’s popular fiction market, was published March 2016.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Fell by Jenn Asworth #bookreview

About Fell

In this eerie, atmospheric and mysterious tale, a woman returns to the house in Morecambe Bay where she grew up in the 1960s to find it falling apart, undermined by the roots of two huge sycamores. She is unaware that she has awoken the spirits of her parents, Jack and Nettie Clifford, who watch anxiously as their daughter Annette is overwhelmed by the state of the house and realise too late how far they neglected her as a child.

As their memories come alive, the story unfolds of a crucial summer when Annette was 8 and Nettie became too ill to run their boarding house. The lodgers have to go - all except the newly arrived butcher's apprentice, because he seems to have miraculous healing powers and is Jack and Nettie's last, desperate hope. But is he who he says he is? Why do those he lays his hands on feel an erotic charge? And why does he despise his own gift? As everything comes to a head, so too does Annette's story in the present. But this time, someone is looking out for her and comes to her rescue. Finally, the spirits of her parents can let go.

My review of Fell

Where do I start with this review? I loved this book, heart and soul, from beginning to end. It really is a special book that encompasses the afterlife, beautifully weaving together past and present. Fell is a story about the past, about family, love and the savagely devastating effects of cancer upon the individual and those who love them. It really is a breathtaking read.

The novel is told from the viewpoint of two ghosts, Netty and Jack. They used to own The Sycamores, and took on lodgers during the sixties. This narration took me by surprise, as it is an unusual style, but I quickly adapted and found myself immersed in their joint story. The novel opens with the return of Annette, their adult and prodigal daughter, who has returned after many years to find the house in complete disrepair, abandoned and unloved. The house is damp, broken and the roots of the two sycamore trees that frame the house have invaded the space, destroying its foundations. We follow Annette, through the ghostly eyes of Jack and Netty as she examines the house, reviving old memories from when they all lived there. It is a beautiful, yet heartbreaking opening.

The novel is set in Grange-Over-Sands at the edge of Morecambe Bay. As I live in Lancashire I have visited the area many times, wandering around the duck pond with my little ones, arriving at the train station, wandering along the promenade. I loved the vivid descriptions of Grange, about how the area was dsepy e!embedded in each character, and in the house in which they lived.

I had a huge sense of foreboding, of unease, as I started to read this novel. It was in the imagery and the phrasing of words that were used. I knew that something bad was going to happen from the very first page. Netty has terminal cancer, but it is when Jack meets Tim, whom he believes is a heather, that they are given hope. Hope that Netty can be cured. What follows is a dark, disturbing and unsettling story of how this man becomes part of their lives and the effect that he has upon the family unit.

The writing is beautiful, lyrical, I could smell the salt marsh and taste the sea. It is a disturbing read, that tackles human kindness, relationships and the need to survive at all costs. It deals with how the past affects your future. It deals with the importance of family and that we all make mistakes. I also loved the fact that the author had echoed the themes from Ovid's Metamorphoses, in the myth of Baucis and Philemon. The Sycamores is named after the two imposing sycamore trees that have encroached upon the house, and in the myth, Baucis and Philemon, eventually become the trees. They become part of the house that they loved. This is obviously true of Netty and Jack. They feel compelled to stay within the house, and it is only at the end that they feel they can finally let go. The presence of both Netty and Jake, as ghostly visions, made my heart ache, their sadness and grief was so palpable.

Fell, is a beautiful love story. The love between Jack and Netty, and the unconditional and never ending love that they have for their daughter. It is a story about looking after others, about kindness and that love evolves, morphs and changes, but never really goes away. It is a story about learning from your past, accepting it, and then moving on.

This book touched me deeply in its beauty and raw honesty. I highly recommend it.

With thanks to the publisher and Bookbridgr who provided a paperback copy for review.

Fell, published by Sceptre on 6 April can be found on Amazon here.

About the author

Jenn Ashworth was born in 1982 in Preston. She studied English at Cambridge and since then has gained an MA from Manchester University, trained as a librarian and run a prison library in Lancashire. She now lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Lancaster. Her first novel, A KIND OF INTIMACY, was published in 2009 and won a Betty Trask Award. Her second, COLD LIGHT, was published by Sceptre in 2011 and she was chosen by BBC's The Culture Show as one of the twelve Best New British Novelists. Her most recent novels are THE FRIDAY GOSPELS and FELL. She lives in Lancaster with her husband, son and daughter.

Monday, 5 June 2017

The Futures by Anna Pitoniak #bookreview

About The Futures

This is a story about falling in love, and of a relationship that's falling apart . . .

It's the story of a young couple, graduating from Yale and moving to New York in search of the shared future they'd always dreamed about. Of crisp morning strolls through Central Park, taxi horns and the bustle of tourists, salty hot pretzels and the glitter of Broadway and long summer days that stretch like shadows across the sidewalk.

It's a story of high expectations and missed opportunities, of growing up, taking chances and making terrible mistakes.

This is Evan and Julia's story.

This is a love story.

But nobody said it ends happily.

My review of The Futures

The Futures is a beautiful coming of age story set in New York. We follow Julia and Evan from when they first meet while studying at Yale, through to them moving to New York to start their life together. The Futures is a novel that focusses upon character and relationships. The story is in the small details, what is said, how a person reacts. It is a book that cannot be rushed.

Evan and Julia move to Nee York, rent a small apartment in one of the more run down areas of the city and begin to look for work. As Yale graduates, they believe that work will be easy to find, but it is 2008 and the financial crash is looming. Evan is lucky, he lands a lucrative job with a hedge fund company, Spire. He believes that life couldn't get any better. He has the perfect  job and a wonderful girlfriend. But, is he living the perfect life? Is his life perfect? Julia's situation is entirely different. She feels at a loss, with no job prospects looming. She does not want to be the 'stay at home wife', she is a Yale graduate. She wants to live her life as a young career woman. She is fortunate enough to be employed by a charitable organisation, gained via her parents' contacts. But is this what she really wants to do? Has she merely settled?.

Evan and Julia are complete opposites, and from entirely different backgrounds. Julia was brought up in a privileged household and has many society connections. Evan on the other hand is from a working class family in Canada. His parents own and run a grocery store in their small town. These social circumstances are important for understanding what happens in their future, in a way they believe that their social upbringing and status defines who they are and what they will become.

The Futures is the story of a young couple starting out in life. They have there whole future ahead of them. They learn about living independently in the big world, a completely different life to that of students. They learn about trust, love, and basically what it means to be a grown up. They learn that life is often way more complicated than it seems, but that there is always a way to survive, to simply be.

I don't want to go into the plot, but I'll just say it is a simple one, focussing upon these two characters and how their relationship evolves over time. As with any relationship, they need to find their role within it. They need to figure out who they really are.

I enjoyed reading this gentle and thought provoking novel. It resonated deeply with me, that feeling when you first graduate, when you are set free into the world, but you have no idea of what role you will play in it. The Futures echoes these thoughts and feelings beautifully. I loved the depictions of living in New York City and the beautiful prose and phrasing that was used. It really is s beautiful and engaging read.

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

The Futures, published by Michael Joseph on 1 Jun. 2017 is available from Amazon here.

About the author

Anna Pitoniak is an editor of fiction and non-fiction at Random House in New York. She graduated from Yale in 2010, where she majored in English and was an editor at the Yale Daily News. The Futures is her first novel.

Follow Anna on Twitter @annapitoniak

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Did You See Melody? by Sophie Hannah #bookreview

About Did You See Melody?
Pushed to breaking point, Cara Burrows abandons her home and family and escapes to a five-star spa resort she can't afford. Late at night, exhausted and desperate, she lets herself into her hotel room and is shocked to find it already occupied - by a man and a teenage girl.

A simple mistake on the part of the hotel receptionist - but Cara's fear intensifies when she works out that the girl she saw alive and well in the hotel room is someone she can't possibly have seen: the most famous murder victim in the country, Melody Chapa, whose parents are serving life sentences for her murder.

Cara doesn't know what to trust: everything she's read and heard about the case, or the evidence of her own eyes. Did she really see Melody? And is she prepared to ask herself that question and answer it honestly if it means risking her own life?

My review of Did You See Melody?

Did You See Melody? offers a completely fresh take on the tried and tested psychological thriller genre,  that we have all grown to know and love. I do love these type of books, but sometimes they can all feel a little like each other. This is were Did You See Melody? stands alone, it takes this genre and does its own thing. I loved it. It is clever, twisted and hugely relevant to the social media led world that we all live in today.

I am new to the work of Sophie Hannah, so had no idea of what writing style to expect. I fell easily into this book, and enjoyed its rich descriptions, fast paced dialogue and character depictions. It was a very easy book to read and follow in terms of plot, even though the plot was incredibly twisted. The story begins when we meet Cara Burrows, a late thirty something, married woman, who has two teenage children. She has booked a holiday, without her husband knowing, or indeed her children, at the 5-star hotel spa resort called, Swallowtail, in Arizona. She left behind her a note, telling her family when she would return, but did not tell them the holiday location. To begin with we do not know why she has decided to go on holiday without her family, and this instantly piqued my interest. I felt that she must have felt very desperate indeed to fly so far away from her home in England in order to grab some atone time. Would I have done the same in her situation? At the beginning I thought not, but as the novel progressed and we learned the reason for her abrupt holiday, I thought to myself, yes, I would.

It is the night that Cara arrives that the story of Melody begins. She is given the wrong room key and as a result she finds herself standing in a room where a man and young teenage girl are staying. Realising her mistake, she talks to the man, the issue is resolved, and she goes back down to reception. But the situation has left her feeling unsettled and a little shaken. Cara thinks nothing more about the man and girl that she saw, until other events take place in the resort and an elderly woman, who is a frequent guest, tells staff that she has seen Melody Chapa. Nobody believes her, but Cara has a nagging feeling that the old woman may be telling the truth, as she too believes that the young teenager she saw was Melody.

This book is incredibly clever, it is part mystery thriller, part dark psychological read, that deals with the issues of child abuse and child abduction. As the story takes place in America, the author focuses upon the popularity of daytime chat shows and the fictitious Bonnie Juno show, which has followed the Melody Chapa case from the very beginning. I particularly loved the way in which we learned about the Melody Chapa case via the show's transcripts and the various interviews that were available for Cara to watch online. The way in which the novel tapped into the talk show market, and the fact that everyone now wants to be a celebrity, was terribly clever. I did wonder if Bonnie could be trusted, or if she too was just looking after her own interests and guaranteeing her own time on the air.

This book is also full of wonderful, colourful characters. Cara, obviously as the protagonist is hugely readable, but so are the other characters that we meet along the way. Two characters that stood out to me were those of Tarin and Zellie Fry, a mother and daughter, like no other, who are staying at the resort.  I loved these two characters, they made me smile, a lot, and brought a lot of light relief, to what was otherwise a serious read.

I read this book fairly quickly, as I have said, it was an easy read, but I also needed to know if the girl was Melody, and then later on what had happened to her. This book really did keep me guessing to the very end, and I gasped out loud during the final scene. It's a fantastic book and one that I highly recommend for your summer reading.

Did You See Melody? is published on 24 Aug2017 by Hodder & Stoughton, It is available to pre order on Amazon here.

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

About the author

Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling crime fiction writer. Her crime novels have been translated into 34 languages and published in 51 countries. Her psychological thriller The Carrier won the Specsavers National Book Award for Crime Thriller of the Year in 2013. In 2014 and 2016, Sophie published The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket, the first new Hercule Poirot mysteries since Agatha Christie's death, both of which were national and international bestsellers.

Sophie’s novels The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives have been adapted for television as Case Sensitive, starring Olivia Williams and Darren Boyd. Sophie is also a bestselling poet who has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot award. Her poetry is studied at GCSE and A-level throughout the UK.  Sophie is an Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. She lives in Cambridge with her husband, two children and dog.

Sophie's website is, and you can follow her on Twitter at @sophiehannahcb1.