Wednesday 31 December 2014

A Season of Fear by Brian Freeman

This is the second Cab Bolton thriller, the first is The Bone House. The assassination of a politician leaves a trail of unanswered questions ten years after the tragedy.

Now the tables are turned and his wife is in the midst of a political campaign. There are threats against her life and those threats result in the past being dug up again.

Who was the shooter? Was the wrong person blamed? It seems as if everyone is hiding some kind of secret. The real culprit is an unexpected surprise, but the viciousness that person shows is even more of a surprise.

The book can be read as a standalone, however the characters are solid enough to make the reader want to discover more in the series.

The whole Diane and Cab storyline seemed a wee bit forced and predictable. I am surprised his mother took it on board with such ease. The relationship between Cab and Tarla is a major focus of the story, which is pleasant but not overpowering. The mother with a large ego to go hand in hand with her fame and talent. Not an easy personality to deal with as a child or as an adult for that matter. Perhaps her flamboyant manner is why he turns to Diane in the first place.

Peach is one of the more colourful characters, and her storyline takes the reader straight towards the solution. At first her problems and involvement seem almost trivial to both Cab and the reader, however this changes quickly as the pace of the book picks up.

Freeman has managed to wrap a mystery within a crime and send the readers off in multiple wrong directions before bringing the story to a surprising conclusion.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Edelweiss.

Saturday 27 December 2014

A Secret to Die For by Sierra Dean

The end of  Secret McQueen, as we know her, and I  for one am sorry to see her go. This Urban Fantasy series has to be one of the most underrated in the ocean of books. It deserves to be right up there with the big guns.

It was an unexpected ending. In a way  it was almost a let down. Not exactly the atypical Secret exit. It felt as if Secret was at ease because the end solution gives her perhaps what she wished for all along.

I find that odd and not exactly realistic when you take her friends, lovers and comrades in arms into consideration. How is she supposed to fit in and function or be respected by the supernatural after that?

Apparently Dean is planning a spin-off, so I am sure we will hear from Secret again if only in a side character capacity.

Everyone turns up for the last stand against evil. All the favourites characters and more are there to support Secret. Not everyone gets out of this spectacular meltdown alive. Dean actually swings the great author sword of the main character cull, so expect to be both surprised and perhaps even upset by the demise of one person in particular.

Unlike other reviewers I didn't feel this was a perfect ending to an admittedly very good series. I believe it was far too sugary sweet and goody two shoes to do Secret justice. However I also think Dean wrote it in a way that leaves a back-door for Secret to return. Why? Because of Aubrey and what he intends to and will do with his newly gained advantage.
I received a copy of this book via Netgalley.

Friday 26 December 2014

A Year After Henry by Cathie Pelletier

I think it is a home truth that we don't really know how much we and our lives are impacted by certain people in our lives until we have to do without them.

The death of Henry leaves ripples of waves in the lives of his family members, the local community, the people he connected with and the ones he kept hidden in the wings.

It is a year after his death and everyone is still trying to fill the gaps left by the sudden departure of Henry. His brother Larry is struggling to find his place after losing his wife and son after a nasty divorce. In his odd search for comfort he happens to find himself attracted to the one person, who has the ability to destroy what is left of his family.

Jeannie is obsessed with the secret life Henry had. She has this strange need to know why, and why that particular person. She spends her time placing the blame firmly on the living instead of on the dead.

Pelletier has also woven an important sub-plot into this story of loss, sorrow and guilt. The issue of domestic abuse and violent partners. The most important point the author makes is the way the abused is often treated like a liar, especially by other women when the abused is a woman. The abuser is more often than not a charming two-faced popular person, the type who doesn't fit the criteria of abuser in most people's heads.

Why is it so hard to believe someone in that kind of situation? Why does it have to happen again before someone steps in to help? What is it about abuse that make the abuser warrant more support and protection than the abused?
This is a tale of grief and how life goes on after the death of a loved one.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Dead Man's Gift part 1 Yesterday by Simon Kernick

This is the first in a three-part thriller by Simon Kernick.

Tim Horton is faced with a complex and distressing situation.

His son has been kidnapped, the child's nanny is dead and the kidnappers are not interested in any kind of ransom.

Instead they only have one demand. They want Tim dead and they want him dead at a time and place of their choosing.

Although fairly short, it does give a good idea of the flavour, pace and story in store for the reader.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Last Night and Today are the next parts in Kernick's Dead Man's Gift.

Thursday 18 December 2014

The Whispers by Lisa Unger

This is the first of three e-novellas by Unger.
Eloise and her family are struck by tragedy, which changes her life in a drastic way. The extremely distressing events change something in her or perhaps it is better to say they connect her to a completely new world.

Since the death of her loved ones Eloise has started getting visions of young girls in fatal situations. She becomes a possible saviour to those in need and those in their last moments of life.

It wasn't made clear how Eloise understands what is happening to her so quickly. How does she know to question the girl? Why is the first question 'Where are you?' and not 'Who are you?' and what the hell is going on?

It also bugged me that she decides to ignore the pleas for help by the second girl. That didn't make any sense to me. By that time Eloise knows she is being shown girls to help them in dire situations, so why would she turn away from any one of them?

Regardless of whether she is going through the stress of a trial. Weighing it up against each other; you either stop a potential killer from striking in your own backyard or you wallow in misery. Keeping in mind that she knows the threat is watching girls in her town.It not only makes no sense, it is also quite selfish.

I wasn't keen on the writing, but the plot is interesting enough to overlook that. I think if given more focus and depth it could become a good series.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography

It is certainly an interesting way to write an autobiography. The reader gets to pick which direction they want the life of Neil Patrick Harris to go.

So, for instance you get to the end of a chapter get three choices and pick one. That in turn takes you to another chapter and three other choices.

No matter what you pick, when you start from the beginning again, you never get the same story twice. That in itself makes it an extraordinary read. In essence the read you experience depends completely on your own mood when you pick which direction you want to go in. The power to decide which way to go and what choices to make.

The concept works better digitally, obviously clicking a link is faster and more efficient than searching for specific pages in a hard-copy. I think that would be the only downside to the way it is constructed. Other than that it is quite entertaining.

I think one of my favourite chapters or should I say some of, are the ones about the children. The careful planning, the selection process and the hilarious POTUS  like security scheme when the babies are born.
What is absolutely clear to any reader is just how much Neil loves his husband David, and their children Harper and Gideon. He sounds content, as if all his boxes have been ticked and everything else is just a cherry on top of his very own ice-cream sundae.

My very own voyage with this book was taken at a time of stress and worry. I chose an amusing, happy and fulfilling read, which is exactly what I got. I finished it with a smile on my face and a chuckle on my lips.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher via Edelweiss.

Saturday 13 December 2014

Captured by Neil Cross

Knowing when you're going to die and how, it makes some people start to think really hard about what they want to fix before the big date.

Kenny decides he needs to right the wrongs of his past, to clean the slate and in a way wash his soul clean off any sin. Regardless of whether that sin is real or imagined.

He goes looking for the victim of an attempted abduction he was witness to many years ago. The guilt of not being able to help more and solve the case still weighs heavily on his conscience. Kenny also tries to square things with his ex.

His quest for his own personal Joan of Arc status also leads him all the way back his very first crush in primary school.That particular search is also the start of a series of spontaneous and dangerous decisions, which doesn't exactly end with the justice he seeks.

Caroline has been missing presumed dead or many years now and her husband Jonathan is the prime suspect. Kenny decides he owes it to his old friend Caroline to make her killer confess or to make him pay in some way. Keeping in mind that nobody is actually certain, whether or not Caroline is in fact dead. Kenny is certain, he knows deep in his heart that she is dead, and  he is willing to go to extreme lengths to prove it.

I think Kenny's obsession leads all the way back to the days when Caroline was the only one who showed him any kindness as a child. Now he feels as if he has to pay her back. He is willing to cross any boundary to do so, and gets other people hurt in the process.

Cross likes to mix the borders of good, bad, guilty and innocent. A good man can be guilty of bad things and a bad man can be perceived innocent of actual crimes. Sometimes justice is just a pretty word and not the reality of the situation.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley.

Friday 12 December 2014

Thy Father's Shadow by Robert J. Crane

This story takes place during the chapters 22-33 of The Defender Vol.1 of The Sanctuary Series, the Prologue and Epilogue take place during chapter 116 of Crusader Vol.4 of the Sanctuary Series.

I really enjoyed the one-on-one aspect of this book. It  is an in-depth walk into the past, present and future of Terian. That means readers who have been following the series already know what Terian does or doesn't do.

It gives us an extraordinary glimpse into his reasoning, his bizarre loyalty to his father and his internal battle that rages within him. The battle between what is morally right and what his birthright and people expect from him.

The book starts with Terian's exit from Sanctuary and his surprising re-entrance into his own society. A society with strict class structures and run by a dictator of darkness.

The richest battle for rank order, which is achieved by staying in favour with the Sovereign. If anyone disobeys, talks in a negative way about the regime or questions the laws, they can be automatically demoted. Sometimes it is just to a smaller house in a different street and sometimes it is a ticket straight to hell.

Now why would Terian want to forgo the freedom and almost democratic ruling of the Sanctuary for the strict dictatorship of his people? What could possibly make him change his mind about the tragedy that drove him away in the first place?

This is one of my favourites from the series so far. I enjoy it when Crane gives us an in-depth look into one of the characters. There is always so much baggage and background, which in turn helps to understand  the paths and motivations of the extremely complex characters he creates.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

I think at the end I was holding my breath in an anticipation. Not for me, but for Queenie. I wanted her to be at peace, feel forgiven and be able to let go. At the same time I wanted her hopes and dreams to come true. For Henry to make one final gesture, which would be a signal or sign that he felt the same way. I didn't expect the reality to be so cruel and yet it was completely realistic.

Queenie's tale is one of death and one of a lonely life.

This is the unlikely and unexpected sequel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. After the commercial success of Harold's story the odds were against the story of Queenie being just as successful, however that is exactly what happened.

Rachel Joyce has created  two sides of the same story without the content being repetitive or boring. Instead, this one brings the first full circle. Although I would have to point out that each story is subjective and reflects a single persons experience, as opposed to it just being one big happy story.

I think the most vivid element and image that stood out for me wasn't Queenie at all. It was the subtle message about forgetting the elderly, the sick and the terminally ill. How they become the rejects and the recluses of society in their last days, months and years. Hidden away in care homes or a hospice with only the carer or nursing staff to be with within their last hours.

The story is filled with a sense of guilt, sorrow, loneliness and longing. It is sad and yet at the same time a story filled with hope. The last wish of a dying woman, and whether or not it will be fulfilled.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Monday 24 November 2014

Limitless (Out of the Box) by Robert J. Crane

Two years have passed since the events in Power ( The Girl in the Box #10) took place.The team has scattered to various different corners of the earth. I say team and that is exactly how I perceived them in the books.

Unfortunately neither Sienna nor the others seem to think of themselves as such. More is the pity, because the thing they all have in common, well nearly all of them, is their particular brand of being different. They should be standing together and supporting each other, especially now certain Meta are being tortured and murdered again.

Sienna seems a little tired of being the go to person for every non-Meta authority when it comes to Meta crimes, murders and problems. Why? Because those same authorities and governments have created a very intense layer of laws, rules and regulations against the Meta community. Now those laws are becoming even more restrictive, because there is a new nasty in town.

Interesting that the Meta have gone from being a or the controlling factor in the world, to persona non grata and a minority group. It makes for a whole different ball game, despite their strength and multitude of abilities.

The new villain in town is a person with an axe to grind, skin to flay (literally) and with a long list of potential victims he intends to dispose of. Yes, that does include Sienna. Does it ever not include her?

Meanwhile Sienna is trying to find out exactly who she is dealing with in order to halt their reign of murder and mayhem. She has been partnered with a human, and I think the two of them have a few sparks going off between them. Not sure what Webster was thinking when he decided to put the main target of a psycho torture gang up in his mother's house. Haven't thought that through completely mate, have ya?

I think Crane created that particular scenario so Sienna would be confronted with her internal need for some kind of maternal comfort, which in turn makes her think about the loss of her mother and how much Sienna misunderstood her intentions.

So, after the intense ending and closure to the The Girl in the Box series Crane has made a fierce start with this new series featuring Sienna, but this time she is well and truly Out of the Box.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.

To find out more about Robert J. Crane and his books, go have a nosy at

Thursday 20 November 2014

The G File by Håkan Nesser

Nesser has his detective Van Veeteren hang up his badge in this edition of the series, not that it deters him from chasing criminals and solving crimes.

The police procedure, during the 80's part of the story, is typical for that era. Less about the rights of the perpetrator and more about the police getting their man.

In fact Van Veeteeren is 100% convinced of Hennan's guilt, regardless of the air-tight alibi.

So the interviews become a cat and mouse game between the two of them, a power play of detective and possible murderer.

Nesser brings an interesting aspect to the table, whether a person can be inherently evil. Veeteren has prior experience with Hennan and his cruel criminal mind-set, which is why he is convinced of his guilt. Regardless of the fact there is no way Hennan was anywhere near this particular crime scene at the time of the murder, Veeteren knows that he is guilty.

It took me till about three-quarter way through the book to figure out the solution. Yay, me. It sort of came to me like an epiphany.

In the second half of the book it was interesting to see how everyone still deferred to Van Veeteren with the same respect and authority, despite the fact he is retired by then and owns a bookshop. The police think nothing of including him in the investigation into the disappearance of Verlangen.

Verlangen is actually the reason the initial crime is brought back to the table after so many years. The perfect crime, which has haunted Veeteren for many years. He knows who and why, he just can't figure out how. It is such superb irony that the failed ex-policeman Verlangen is the one who stumbles on the solution and leads Veeteren to the how of it all.

This story has the subtle, slightly dark and smooth quality, which Nesser is known for. His characters are rough around the edges, acerbic and brutally honest. It was a treat, as always.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

A Meditation on Murder by Robert Thorogood

Robert Thorogood is the creator of the BBC1 TV series Death in Paradise, an immensely popular series featuring the prim and proper Brit DI Poole on the paradise island of Saint-Marie. The fourth series is due to be broadcast in early 2015.

For the first time ever Thorogood is bringing the popular characters to the world of bookworms in A Meditation on Murder.

I have to say I was quite looking forward to reading this because I really enjoy Death in Paradise. In the TV series it is the combination of the cast, the dry humour, the scenery and the classic Agatha Christie like murder mysteries that bring me back for more.

Does Thorogood achieve the same element of bait and catch with his book? Absolutely. It features one of the most interesting fixtures in a classic mystery. The murder in a locked room conundrum.

One murder victim, five suspects and room no person entered or left, which means one of the five must be the murderer. Colonel Mustard in the library with a machete.

I'm not quite sure what is the most amusing thing about Richard Poole, his odd habits, his intolerance to the heat, his whiteboard fetish or his cat and mouse game with Harry the lizard. His apparent dislike of his beautiful and exotic surroundings, despite somehow being secretly pleased at being there.

His grumpy attitude and behaviour is offset by his fellow islanders and police officers. The laid back attitude of his colleagues is the perfect balance to the straight-laced and often tactless detective.

I really enjoyed the read and look forward to more by Thorogood.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Harlequin UK and Mira UK.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Before I go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

An exceptional thriller, one that keeps you on your toes till the very last chapter.

Watson has created a smooth balance between medical details and fictional story.

Neither one over-weighs the other or bamboozles the reader with boring facts.

The author has managed to create a fascinating insight into the type of amnesia Christine is suffering from, whilst building an intense yet subtle thriller around that particular condition.

Each day Christine wakes up to find herself in a strange bedroom with a complete stranger beside her. She can't retain any memories from her previous day.Difficult and demanding until circumstances and a persistent doctor help her to find a way forward.

Then Christine starts to notice discrepancies in her loving husbands story. Is Ben trying to make things less painful by hiding people and things from her or is she paranoid?

One of the saddest things I took from this book was the abandonment of Christine. Left to her own devices and fighting the label of mental illness. Given up for a lost cause and because of that she became easy pickings for the events that unfold within this story.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Saturday 15 November 2014

Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory

Does it steer close to the kind of macabre horror Poe is known for? Well, it starts off with good intentions but flounders towards the end. Gregory seems to be trying to lead with two story-lines at once.

First the creepy Poe cursed tooth one, and then the family dynamic of the main character and his guilt.

Pick one and go with it. You want to mess the borders between good, bad, evil and downright creepy as hell? Then do so with abandon and a little less of the dilly dallying.

There were some other issues that distracted from the Poe-esqueness of it all. Yes, I totally made that word up. The first being the strange meanderings of paedophilia both in thoughts and accusations. Sentences like 'a cherub with baby tits' leave an uncomfortable after-taste.

What was the point? Unless the guilt inside him has come from that core issue or the evil he is experiencing is his own lack of acceptance, hence the disgust at his hidden desires. Then perhaps it would have made more sense, as it is it just seemed to be a touch one too many times in the wrong direction. Pardon the pun.

The second issue was the constant need for the main character to be utterly and completely naked in the majority of scenes. Who wanders round in sooty, dusty attics and book-stores with their crown jewels dangling in the wind? Who thinks it is appropriate to be completely naked with their also completely naked young daughter in the middle of the night?

Again, if the idea was to have the main character fight an internal yet subconscious battle with the idea of his own paedophilia it makes sense. The desire to be unclothed indicating his inappropriate desire for her, for instance. If not then all that nakedness makes no sense and is merely gratuitous.

Gregory appears to have an aptitude for Gothic horror and a love of Poe, however the plot needs to tighter, as does the clarity of the plot.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Friday 14 November 2014

The Poppy Factory by Liz Trenow

You can't fault the intent of the story, which is to bring attention to the plight of veterans and the psychological damage they incur during wartime.

Trenow also introduces readers to the story, beginnings and history of the Poppy Factory. Also to the origins of how exactly the poppy was picked as a symbol of remembrance.

Nowadays Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a well-known and researched mental health issue. In the aftermath of  First World War it was an unknown concept and sufferers were deemed cowardly, unstable and often accused of 'putting it on' to get out of further combat.

In the 21st century healthcare providers are very aware of the long-term effects caused by war and combat. It is only natural for the human mind to find it difficult to cope with, understand and be at peace with the atrocities they have seen or been a part of during combat.

Nightmares, flashbacks, anger issues and depression are hard enough to deal with without the lack of support which is due to but often not given to men and women who have served their countries.

I liked the way Trenow connected the experiences of Rose and Alfie. The undeniable link being the war and the personal aftermath for them both. How it brings both of them to the brink of destruction and makes their family members or loved ones give up on them.

I wasn't overly impressed by the overall feel, flow and style of the story. I thought it could have been much better.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Monday 10 November 2014

Derek's Revenge by Mac Black

This is book 3 in the Derek series by Mac Black. I think to understand the process of 'becoming Derek' it may be better for readers to read Please...Call Me Derek and Derek's in Trouble first. Not that the books in the series can't be read as stand-alone novels, it  does give a wee bit more insight into character oddities and exploits from previous books.

In this book Derek has hit his thirties and the tone of the book takes a more personal turn. He starts to look for his roots and answers to questions about the past.

In a way that is exactly how he finally stumbles on the idea for his book. His own past is connected to a local band that enjoyed fame and popularity quite a few decades ago.

The relationship between Derek and Sally appears to be going through a few bumps. Sally seems a little fed up with Derek's constant searching to find answers. Towards the end of the book the penny drops and Sally understands that Derek has to come full circle, get closure and answers, to be able to rest easily again.

Black hits upon an interesting topic in this book, and I know it is one that tends to divide opinions. Far from being the unhappy abandoned child, Derek has had a good childhood and has been brought up in a loving secure family environment.

So why the need to search for the mother who left him right after his birth? I don't think people who know who they are and who they stem from can understand what it is like to have zero knowledge about those important facts. Adopted and abandoned children have a huge need to get closure, to get answers and to understand the past in a way that explains the choices that were made in relation to them.

Your parents are the people who raised you, regardless of blood relation. Knowing who your birth parents are just helps to fill in the empty blanks of those children/adults who need to know where they get their height, hair colour and to understand why they were given up in the first place.

I don't think Derek receives all of those answers, but he does seem at peace with the discoveries he makes. I wonder what discoveries he will make in Derek's Good Relations.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Severed Streets by Paul Cornell

This is the second in the James Quill series.

I wasn't really keen on the beginning of the book, the few pages before the murder of the politician.

I found them a wee bit confusing and lacking clarity, which isn't always a good way to draw potential readers in.

Fortunately Cornell gets to the nitty-gritty darkness fairly quickly.

His Sci-Fi plot weaving is mixed with police procedural story-lines, which makes sense when you consider his background as a Dr. Who scribe. He also uses the historical backdrop and urban myths associated with London.

Cornell seems to enjoy the quagmire of despair, suffering and pain when it comes to his characters, especially the good guys. Lots of bleak moments for them unfortunately. Hopefully, as the series progresses some of them will get some lucky mojo come their way.

I know the fact he has Neil Gaiman play a role in his story is a bit of topic in reviewing circles, however I think it was more of a nudge nudge wink wink move,  perhaps because elements of the first James Quill book London Falling was compared to Gaiman's work.

It will be interesting to see where Cornell takes this series and his eclectic combination of genres.
I received a copy of this via NetGalley.

Monday 3 November 2014

Entry Island by Peter May

What I enjoy most about Peter May's writing is the way he manages to move the reader right into the landscape he is describing. He also knows exactly how to portray the mindset of an islander.

There is a flair of melodrama to the genealogy side of the story. Perhaps a tad too much.

The love story is sweet and gives the author liberty to bring an important part of history into the book.

The evacuation of Scottish tenants by their landlords, from quite a few of the Isles. Many of them ended up on ships sailing for Canada, and having to go via Entry Island before entering the country.

Entry Island was used to quarantine the sick and contagious immigrants arriving via ship. Many thousands didn't survive and were buried in mass graves on the island.

May also references the potato famine, pointing out the important fact that not only the Irish, also the Scottish fell foul of this particular period in history. It is little wonder there was a mass exodus from both Ireland and Scotland to other continents.

I thought the mixture of police procedure, genealogy, romance and fate didn't gel as well as it could have in the story. The ill-fated love connecting in the future via descendants was a little overdone, as were some of the aspects of the first Sime's tales.

The despair, darkness and marital woes of the 21st century Sime makes up for the imbalance between the two story-lines. Despite these hiccups, May is certainly an author worth reading.

I received a copy of this book via Edelweiss.

Friday 31 October 2014

Lamentation by C.J. Sansom

Once again Sansom offers up a read of epic proportions with this nearly 650 page long mystery set in the era of Henry VIII during the last year of his life.

Shardlake will do anything for Queen Catherine Parr, almost to the point of obsession.

He endangers his friends and family in the attempt to keep her from harm. Danger to the point of near death.

The author melds the details of the complicated religious setting, which prevailed during this time in history, with the story and the characters.

The cry of or the mere murmur of the word heresy is enough to make any person fear for their life. Some people use the label to decry and remove their enemies.Unfortunately Shardlake tends to be target for many, because of his past interactions and current loyalties.

Sansom stays as close to fact as possible to give it an air of authenticity and has added an afterthought or notes to explain where liberties were taken to aid the tale.

I do think the story could have been a little shorter and still have given the reader the same kind of read and content. Then again detailed and drawn out tends to be kind of a trait of this particular author.

Sansom ends the book in a way, which suggests we will be seeing Shardlake again. The next time will probably be in the midst of trouble for his new employer, a person destined to create controversy and be at the centre of many a plot.

It will be interesting to see where Sansom takes Shardlake outside of the realms of Henry the VIII's tyranny.

Wednesday 29 October 2014

The Hoard by Neil Grimmett

Grimmett lays a particular heavy emphasis on the relationships between his characters. The emotional ties that bind, tear apart and often destroy people.

In The Hoard those emotions extend to and expand around the explosive materials and the actual main hub of the site.

They are volatile, destructive and threaten to swallow everything and everyone involved in its general vicinity.

The explosion is based on true events that happened at ROF Bridgwater in 1951, an explosion which killed six workers.The actual cause of the explosion was never determined, which folds neatly into this fictional story.

Byron is the son of one of the victims and he is back to find the truth, no matter how painful. He finds himself immersed in the rituals of an old boys brotherhood and the adrenaline pumped mentality of men who work in highly dangerous situations.
I thought there were too many scenes, dialogues and interactions, which were over-sexualized. Perhaps even to the detriment of the main plot.

Despite that Grimmett manages to create a vibrant story with a cast of eccentric characters. I think the most memorable character is the one left behind, the person who is driven slightly insane by survivors guilt and post traumatic stress disorder.

He sways between an almost paranormal ghostly connection and mental illness in a way that leaves the reader wondering just which one fits the description completely. The scenes in the river, where he communicates with the men of the past, are exactly the type of extraordinary imagery, dialogue and scene I have come to expect from this particular author.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.

Saturday 25 October 2014

The Sentinel by Troy Denning

This is book five in the fantastic collaboration called The Sundering. 

Joelle and Malik have stolen a very powerful ancient artifact, which seems to be at the epicentre of a war between gods.

In a way this book manages to create an image of the bigger picture, sort of slotting in what the events in all the books are actually leading up to.

The destruction, rupture and splitting of the world by enraged and vengeful gods.

Their path collides with that of Kleef, a top-sword for the Marsember Watch, and Arietta, a nobleman's daughter. Together the four of them become more or less bound to each other, the artefact and their sense of duty. One could argue that their meeting is fate rather than just accidental.

Malik is the Chosen one of the god of lies, which is certainly apt because he spends most of his time trying to deceive or harm some members of the small group and the other half spreading lies.

Denning has woven parts of the four other books in the Sundering into this fifth one. If readers have read those or have been following this fascinating collaboration, they will recognise the moments when the stories link together.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

The White Nile Diaries by John Hopkins

The book follows the travel of two Princeton Graduates called John Hopkins and Joe McPhillips. They are typical affluent men of their time with a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed view of the world.

It is written, as the title aptly says in diary form and also filled with correspondence between themselves, some of their hosts and the contacts, who enabled part of their difficult travels.

You can feel the innocence of youth, the burning desire to conquer the unknown and the flame of independence. The two of them plod on through armed borders, endless deserts, tropical diseases and even the occasional dangerous group of rebels. Often the escape conflict, death and prison by the skin of their teeth.

Their travels take place during the 1960's, a time of  great upheaval and development. At the same time they are able to experience certain places in a way you can't any more.

One of their more bizarre experiences is at Sam Small's Impala Ranch. I think that particular passage in the book gives the reader an excellent feeling of the vast space and feeling of loneliness foreigners, who chose to settle there, experienced.

That feeling of being surrounded by nothing but wild country and despite the fact the native inhabitants put up with the pesky colonialists, there was always the underlying feeling of not belonging.

Hopkins gives a realistic flair, taste and colour to the places they travel through. It is almost as if the reader is sat on the back of the sturdy motorcycle they called The White Nile.

This is a ride through history written by Hopkins during the actual travels with a great dollop of energy and the devil-may-care attitude of  youth

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and I.B. Tauris

Tuesday 21 October 2014

The 100 Society by Carla Spradbery

This sort of reminded me of a YA version of Scream. The reader is introduced to group of teens fairly quickly and they disappear one by one just as fast. One death more horrible than the next.

Thinking about it, it is certainly more a YA than a teen read from a plot perspective.

The actual 100 Society the title refers to isn't given much attention.

I think it could have done with a wee bit more space in the story, as it is it just sinks into a quagmire of trivial details instead.

The author sets it up well with the line you've been tagged, let the games begin, but fails to deliver a decent game.

A pity really, because as a reader I felt as if the author had let the chance to create an interesting back-story and history slide through her fingers.

How was Grace's brother involved and why is he against her involvement in the society? How did it get started? Why, who and what kind of tags?

Overall I found it all a little rushed and underdeveloped. The characters lacked depth and the plot was predictable. With some fleshing out it could have been much better, but it wouldn't change the fact it is a killer kills everyone one by one Scream scenario.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Friday 10 October 2014

The Little Shop of Hopes and Dreams by Fiona Harper

Nicole was a true hardcore romantic when she came up with the great idea to start a Marriage Proposal Planning company. 

Now after watching one too many enthusiastic couples melt into each others arms she realises she is missing out on something. 

Something or someone who will make her heart sing like a canary on champagne.

On a night out she meets that certain someone and he not only makes her heart sing, he also makes her limbs weak, her heart pound and her body ache for the horizontal tango. Numbers are exchanged and one would think things are a go, except Nicole chickens out and that’s when things get really complicated.

One year later and the perfect solution to all their business problems has waltzed in the door. The problem with the oh so perfect solution is the unexpected complication called Alex.

Harper knows just how to twist the plot in a way that keeps readers on their toes. A man with trust issues, a gal who doesn’t trust her instincts and a delightfully spontaneous socialite called Saffron to top it all off. This is certainly a romance with more ups and downs than a roller coaster ride.

Buy The Little Shop of Hopes and Dreams at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @FiHarper_Author@HQStories or @HarperCollinsUK

Read The Summer we DancedThe Doris Day Vintage Film Club or The Other Us by Fiona Harper

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

"There's a difference between loneliness and solitude." Never were there truer words spoken. I loved this wee book and the sheer simplicity of it.

No complicated love triangles, no predictable bad boy and no overly dramatic teen scenarios. It is just Owen and Lucy, and the perfect imperfection of the two of them.

Life is strange when it comes to rare random encounters, especially when two people click in a way that is hard to describe. Something more than just a physical need, a connection of souls, although it may be somewhat of a cliché.

Sometimes when you meet the right person it just isn't the right time to be together. People pass each other like ships in the night, and that's all it will ever be. Just a chance encounter.

Owen and Lucy hold on tight to that red string , which seems to connect them. Throughout the span of time, the complexity of different locations and other relationships, they still pine for each other. Sending postcards to each other, almost like stepping back a few decades before emails, sms and social media.

Not many of the new generations understand the nostalgic thought behind this now outdated mode of communication. Not many of them will  ever experience the beauty of receiving a handwritten letter. In this technology filled era communication is electronic, digital and paperless.

The Geography of You and Me is suitable for both younger and older readers, despite the main market target being YA. The story is such that the ages of the two main characters could be raised a few decades and the tale would still remain the same. The undeniable and inexplicable connection of two human beings.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Ruthless by Cath Stainciffe

You don't often get books turned into TV series that stick more or less precisely to the written word.

Staincliffe writes the way it would look if given to a screenplay writer, which saves and passes a particular element in her writing onto the screen.

The focus is on the interview techniques, securing a confession and in doing so being able to charge the perpetrator with the crime.

Staincliffe has created a fierce trio of female police officers, who are bound together by gender, loyalty, leadership and friendship.

I really enjoyed the character of Gill the most. Her snarky remarks, bolshy attitude and her strong leadership of those around her. She rules with an iron fist and yet still manages to maintain a close friendship with Janet. The same applies to Rachel and Janet.

The story mixes police crime with the personal lives of the three of them. Tragedy, heartbreak, past lives filled with neglect, all have to be set aside when it comes to law, order and procedure.

The author has also chosen to shine a spotlight on legal and illegal highs. An interesting point of view, focusing on the fact that the illegal drugs are probably less of a risk than the unknown legal highs being sold by drug dealers.

Staincliffe offers up a fresh breath of reality with the third book in the Scott & Bailey series.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Sunday 5 October 2014

Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan

Finally Sarah Morgan brings us the story of the most stubborn and difficult of the O'Neil brothers.

Tyler has the reputation of a daredevil playboy, who hops from woman to woman in the blink of an eye.

The tabloids were full of his supposed exploits during his time as a ski champion and celebrity.

Unfortunately everyone tends to believe what they read in the media, despite the fact most of the gossip magazines make stuff up as they go along.

Tyler and Brenna have been friends for their entire life. Brenna has been in love with him for a long time, but keeps it hidden from everyone. Well, at least she thinks she is keeping it hidden.

The reality is every knows how she feels except for Tyler. He has no clue at all and tries very hard to maintain the strict boundaries of friendship between the two of them.

The women of the O'Neil family conspire to play matchmaker between the Brenna and Tyler. Their sly move rattles the bones and memories of the past. Brenna finally confronts a secret she has kept from everyone, a secret she let determine her life since her teenage years.

The pain and humiliation of being the victim of a bully. Day in and day out Brenna went through hell and didn't tell a soul. Now the bully is back in town and it is time to deal with her horrible past.

Sarah Morgan brings this delightful series of romances set around the Snow Crystal resort to a surprising and compelling end. In her own very specific and talented way Morgan manages to create a warm-hearted tear-jerker with plenty of laughs and a good ol' family feeling.

Buy Maybe This Christmas at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

You can connect with Sarah online at her website: on Facebook at or on Twitter @SarahMorgan_

Read: The Christmas Sisters, Moonlight over Manhattan (From Manhattan with Love #6)Holiday in the Hamptons (From Manhattan with Love #5)New York Actually (From Manhattan with Love #4)Miracle on 5th Avenue (From Manhattan with Love #3)Sunset in Central Park (From Manhattan with Love #2)Sleepless in Manhattan (From Manhattan with Love #1)Christmas Ever AfterFirst Time in Forever, Suddenly Last Summer or The Notting Hill Diaries, all by Sarah Morgan.

Follow @SarahMorgan_@HQStories and @HarperCollinsUK

Tuesday 23 September 2014

The Emerald Comb by Kathleen McGurl

The Emerald Comb is a story of betrayal, murder and the hidden mysteries of genealogy.

Katie, like many others since the internet has made it easier for laymen, is set on discovering more about her ancestors.

Genealogy has led her right to the front door of where her own family mystery started many years ago. The type of mystery and crime that remains a secret, because nobody knows a crime has been committed at all.

The reader is introduced to Bartholomew St. Clair, his timid fiancée Georgia and the woman who has ignited his passion, the manipulative Agnes.

The threesome become involved in a fatal collision of emotions and deceit. At one point a decision is made, which will change the face of their family in the future

Simultaneously we see Katie's own family change. In a strange way there are similarities in the patchwork construction to the family in the past, although those in the present are completely unaware of them.

It might have been better to have Agnes tell her own part of the story, as opposed to Mr St. Clair speaking for all the characters. Giving each character their own chapters for instance.

What I really liked was the realistic ending. In real life there would be no way of finding out just who is or was under the tree. In genealogy one often comes up against brick walls and unanswered questions, due to the lack of data, pictures and general physical evidence. Not knowing is therefore the more realistic ending, which the author has opted for instead of the usual happy end. A much better way to end it I think.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.

Buy The Emerald Comb by Kathleen McGurl at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @KathMcGurl  @HQStories @HQDigitalUK


Read The Girl from Ballymor by Kathleen McGurl

Read The Pearl Locket or The Daughters of Red Hill Hall by Kathleen McGurl.
Read about Kathleen McGurl here.

Sunday 21 September 2014

Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

It takes a while to get where it is headed, but when the story actually gets to the point it is well worth the wait.

Sort of like drinking an old single malt scotch, you can feel it wandering down your throat and when it hits the right place the burn shoots a rocket of signals into your taste buds.

Marc is the main character and the narrator of the story. He isn't very likeable at all. In fact his view on being a general practitioner, how he secures his income and patients, what he actually really thinks about his job, well it is enough to put anyone off going to see their GP ever again.

He is quick to judge others, especially Ralph, which is completely ironic when you consider his own actions during the story. Glass houses and all that jazz.

The reader is led into the story with the accusation of medical malpractice on Marc's part. It is however something far more sinister. Marc seeks vengeance for an unforgivable deed. A deed he believes was perpetrated by Ralph.

That moment between Marc and Ralph in the sitting room, after the event, when they both stop being just men and slide into the role of protective parents instead. That is when Ralph makes the mistake of victim blaming. You've seen your daughter you know what she is like. If she didn't like it why didn't she say so? The usual rubbish akin to it is her fault because she wore  a short skirt.

I also have to say I was surprised, dismayed and just could not understand how both Marc and Caroline decided to deal with their daughters ordeal. Ignore, deny and sweep under the rug in the hope it will one day fade from memory. Regardless of what actually happened, this type of reaction only places a bigger burden on the victim. A blanket of silence, as a coping mechanism. Not really something anyone should teach their children.

The conversation between Marc an his old teacher was an eye opener from a purely moral point of view. Depending on the reasons he will condone the actions, which of course brings vigilantism into the picture. Do people with the power over life and death have a get out of jail free card when it comes to the medical boys club, especially if the error or the deed was committed, due to specific circumstances?

Koch certainly knows how to mix base emotion with controversial subjects. I enjoyed the way he does that.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Atlantic Books and Edelweiss.

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

UK Cover
Not many books make me seethe with anger. The injustice and blind ignorance in this story does, especially because the main plot is based on historical fact.

Unfortunately the issue of civil rights is still relevant, alive and kicking even after all these years.

I cannot even fathom treating others with such a level of contempt, hate and anger, just because they have a different skin tone to my own.

Perhaps because I was raised to treat all people equally and base my interactions or judgements about them on their person, their words and their actions, and not on their race or religion.

Children are not born hating others. They are taught to hate. Racism is indoctrinated into generations of people and they in turn repeat the insane cycle with their own offspring.

Again, I just have to repeat, I cannot comprehend how any person could think they are superior to another person based on the shade of their skin. It really does boggle my mind.

I wonder how many of these 'white' people read or watch history programmes or read books like this and recognise themselves in the role of the racist? Many of the teens, children and even adults involved in the events surrounding the civil rights movement are still alive. Do they still believe the mantras of the bigots or have they acknowledged any wrong doing on their part?

Talley has fed some of the frankly quite ignorant and insane statements people believed and repeated, during that time, into the story. For instance, 'Negro brains are naturally predisposed to be submissive.' Very reminiscent of eugenics during the Nazi era.

When you read the dates of events and realise that on the grand scheme of time we aren't talking about very long ago. Based on recent events I would say there is still a huge underlying issue regarding civil rights bubbling beneath the surface of the US.

Talley has mixed two controversial topics together to create a firecracker of a story, which is meant to stretch the boundaries of your understanding of these issues. The reader practically sits inside the heads of both Linda and Sarah , thereby giving a complete view of the issue from both sides.

US Cover
The events take place during the desegregation in schools in the late 50's early 60's. Talley has added the element of not only an interracial relationship, but also that of two girls. A triple whammy for the period of
time we are talking about.

Just so we are clear none of them should be controversial or a problem. Not race, skin colour or sexual orientation.

I can only imagine how scared the children and young teens must have been at the time. Walking through crowds of violent, abusive people, who were bent on getting rid of them no matter the cost. Being subjected to torrents of verbal and physical abuse, being spat on and called an assortment of demeaning names. Day in and day out, a war on the front-lines.

Within this story it becomes apparent that some of the children or teens being integrated into the school, feel as if they are being pushed into the part of role model and spearhead for the movement.

Making a point on behalf of their parents, for the world and the future children to come. Under those difficult circumstance anyone would have crumbled and given in, however I am glad they didn't.

It also puts the civil rights movement into perspective. How courageous these people must have been to stand up for their rights and to weather this unfathomable hatred from each corner.

Sarah is a girl just like any other girl in the process of discovering her sexual identity. Her confusion, her guilt, her shame, all emotions that Linda shares, which shows the identical nature of the human beast, regardless of skin colour.

Linda fights with her own belief system, the reader gets a keen insight into her internal battles. She likes Sarah, more than likes her, which must mean Sarah is different from the rest, right? Of course eventually she comes to the conclusion that perhaps what she has been taught her entire lifetime is wrong. Wrong on every single level, and in turn that realisation makes her regard the people around her in a completely different way.

This is a book I would recommend as scholastic material to teach children what it is like to be confronted with racism, bigotry and hate. It will also give a good insight into the doubts of the indoctrinated few, who manage to free themselves from the repetitive cycle of hatred.

I could go on for hours and pages about how good I think this book is, which of course I recommend you read for yourself.

Buy Lies We Tell Ourselves at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any retailer.

From Holocaust to Harvard by John G. Stoessinger

It would be interesting to read Stoessinger's story written by someone other than himself.

Why? First of all he does not give himself enough credit for his achievements and the difficult path he had to wander.

Secondly he is far too attached and close to the events, especially in his personal relationships, to open up about them or be objective.

Instead throughout the book there is a level of disconnect, which is completely normal for people who have been through horrific trauma, especially during the Holocaust.

Whilst he is describing his relationships there seems to be a lack of conscious thought about his own role in the failure of his relationships. The almost indifferent way he talks about his philandering, his abandonment of wives and children, and the femme fatale, who almost destroys him.

If you go all the way back to the lack of a father in his life, and the way his mother didn't protect him from his abusive stepfather, things become clearer. It is almost as if he didn't want to subject his own children to the disappointment of being hurt by him. Ironically that is exactly what happened anyway.

Being pulled from the arms of his beloved grandparents, the only ones who really showed any compassion or warmth for him, is probably the root and cause of most of his emotional problems. The fact his mother and stepfather couldn't save them is secondary to the fact that in his mind he is the one who abandoned them and couldn't save them from the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

On top of that horrific thought and knowing they must have suffered, is the knowledge that their bodies are in a mass grave. Nameless, homeless, unclaimed and forever beyond reach for him.

When I say emotional I mean his complete detachment from his own experiences and choices, as he tells the story of his life. I think without knowing it Stoessinger has actually opened up a very large window into his heart and soul, perhaps just not the window he planned to present and open in this book.

I received a copy of this book via Edelweiss.

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Trial by Fire by Frances Fyfield

Fyfield's writing is quite busy, often overladen with description or dialogue when less could be more. It is also quite dry and drawn out.

What it lacks it literary prowess it makes up for in solid plot. The murder and subsequent revelation of the murderer is very well done.

Living together in the suburbs is an experiment for the couple. Bailey enjoys the housewife mode Helen has slipped into and Helen seems to think acting like an overpaid maid equals a successful relationship.

I mean come on, who waits up till nearly midnight to run their man a bubble bath and make them dinner? Not exactly realistic and certainly bound to end up making someone unhappy.

You can almost see the cracks in their relationship starting to appear, during the duration of the case and certainly towards the end. Bailey speaks to Helen, as if she were a disruptive little housewife who can't behave properly in society.

It is hard to understand why Helen is completely passive in her job and relationship, despite her abilities, education and intelligence. Instead of acting upon her instincts she chooses to make half-baked attempts at solving this crime. She happens to stumble upon the right answer and ends up putting herself in extreme danger.

I enjoyed the way Fyfield constructed a very subtle net around the killer. I t isn't until the last moment that the reader sees the net being drawn in around the person and various other leads are cut from the tangle of clues.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Edelweiss.

Sunday 14 September 2014

Bones Never Lie by Kathy Reichs

Brennan is taken back to an old case in Bones Never Lie. Anique Pomerleau is back and on top of that really bad news she is linked to the recent murders of young girls.

Has she started another killing spree? Has she found another partner in crime to help her lure innocent victims to their deaths? Where has she been hiding all these years and just how many more girls has she tortured and killed.

Brennan starts looking for the only other person with real insight into the Pomerleau case, Ryan. Unfortunately he has dropped off the grid since the death of someone very close to him, and it doesn't look as if he is very interested in helping anyone solve any crimes.

The trail leads them round in a circle and then to an unexpected body find, which shocks and throws both Brennan and Ryan for a loop. The conclusion they end up drawing from their findings is upsetting, dramatic and just downright scary.

Reichs approaches an interesting topic in this story. The more or less always untold story of the victims after the fact and the aftermath of being held captive, tortured and raped. What it does to their state of mind and how it can cause a multitude of unexpected psychological, physical and psychosomatic problems.

Once again Reichs delivers a solid Brennan story, which may leave you with a niggle and food for thought.

Buy Bones Never Lie at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read The Swamp BonesThe Bone CollectionSpeaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs.

Read Exposure by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs.

Read Two Nights by Kathy Reichs.

Thursday 11 September 2014

Jesus Jackson by James Ryan Daley

Where to start?
This is the type of book I personally would have enjoyed and embraced in my teens. Specifically when I was going through my own questioning of belief, faith, religion and eventually the subject of atheism, at the age of fourteen.

It is actually quite clever the way Daley has incorporated the main plot into the mystery and tragedy surrounding the death of the main character's brother.

Jonathan is consumed by his death of his brother or more specifically how it happened. He is not only convinced it was a homicide, he is also determined to prove it.

The reader meets fourteen year old Jonathan on day of his brothers unfortunate death. He happens upon a strange figure playing imaginary football with himself. The person calls himself Jesus Jackson, and apart from his John Travolta Saturday Night Fever get-up, he looks the part of Jesus. All long scraggly hair, unkempt beard and buckets full of wisdom.

One automatically assumes he is a figment of the young boys imagination. An apparition brought on by the trauma, the stress and the confusion of the tragic events. Is it a hallucination or is this a divine message? Perhaps the man himself or a sidekick  promising a 100% satisfaction guaranteed deal. The restoration of faith.

Now how exactly does one go about doing that with somebody who does not believe in the existence of any type of god? That is the crux of the plot, and a damn fine one it is.

It isn't about  proving or disproving the existence of anything or anyone. I will leave you to find out exactly what Jonathan finds out about himself and what he believes in.

This is an excellent read, one I recommend for both younger and older readers. It challenges the wee grey cells and perhaps help to clarify the murky waters of belief and faith.
I received a copy of this book via Netgalley.

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Shadow Journey by S. D. O'Donnell

This is a novella featuring Vera Blackstone from S.D. O'Donnell's novel Deadly Memories.

It is written as the type of letter you would leave behind for your loved ones when you die.

A confession, a lightening of the heavy burden she has carried for over 35 years. A secret just between her and her late husband.

A chance to finally take a breath with a clear conscience and at the same time helping those around her to understand what really happened. In the hopes it will give them an insight into her heart and soul.

To understand Vera, her actions, her choices and her personality become a lot clearer.

I enjoyed the frankness and realistic approach to the topic. There are no platitudes or fluffy marshmallow scenes. Instead it is the hard reality of life.

Why must the terminally ill suffer till the very last hour? Would you be able to make a choice of that magnitude? Should we have to help loved ones in secret because it is a crime in most countries? Or take them to die on foreign soil because the rules say they have to suffer till their body gives in?

The way O'Donnell approached the relationship between Alice and her parents is also very interesting. Mother and daughter have a fractured relationship full of friction. Alice is a Daddy's girl, which is fine but she resents her mother and is critical of the care her father is getting. She even goes as far as to threaten prosecution if she finds out her mother has killed her father. A clear case of putting her needs and wishes over that of her parents.

Vera is a strong woman, who loves her husband very much, which is why she chooses to listen to his wishes and not those of her own. Sitting on that type of secret for so many years would probably be the undoing of most people. It not only makes Vera stronger, it defines her as a person and also helps her to understand her own choice at the time.

For such a short piece it was quite emotional and prolific. I have to say I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading more by O'Donnell.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.

Monday 8 September 2014

Marrying Daisy Bellamy by Susan Wiggs

Daisy Bellamy is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Two men eager to make her their own and she is stuck in the middle having a hard time making a decision.

Logan is the reliable, comfortable option. He is the father of her child and has been a permanent fixture in her life for many years.

Julian is the free-spirited wild child,  He fits the description of the bad boy persona perfectly.

He also just happens to be the one who makes Daisy's heart pound with excitement.

So, what to do? Pick the dependable one or pick the one your heart yearns for?

Unfortunately the choice she makes becomes irrelevant when fate steps in to change the course of her plans. Heartbreak and misery decide for her instead.

One day a happy bride to be and a moment later an unhappy frustrated wife. As if that wasn't enough to cope with Daisy then gets some news that threatens to throw her right back into the deepest pit, despite it being so-called happy news.

This is certainly a box of mixed chocolates when it comes to emotions. Is sort of questions whether we are able to pick the right Mr Right for ourselves or are just victims of our own emotional roller-coaster rides, depending on our circumstances and expectations.

It also bandied around the subject of whether parents, who can't live as a couple, should stay together for the child's sake. Duty, honour and a sense of responsibility aren't enough to create a happy home or family. Unhappy families create unhappy children. Sometimes it is better to live apart and be two loving but separate parents than be together and drown in frustration.

Poor Daisy flits from one to the other trying to salvage her relationships and  rectify past mistakes. It is a bumpy and long road for this particular romance.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Harlequin UK and MIRA UK.

The Secret Wife by Linda Kavanagh

A story that starts out or seems to start out as a  wedding in the present and a simple love affair  in the past turns into something quite unexpected.

A mystery, a stalker and tragedy, and all these events are linked in a way the reader doesn't realise in the beginning.

Nothing is quite what it seems and to understand the future you have to comprehend the events of the past.

Kavanagh presents two stories being told simultaneously. The story of Laura in the present and that of Ellie in the past. Ellie is the mistress of a wealthy businessman, his so-called secret wife.

He has promised her the moon, stars and a life together. Instead all she gets is life full of lies. The actions between the two of them have repercussions that reach far into the future.

Laura is wealthy heiress with  really poor choice in men. Her brand new husband is bully, a misogynist and tends to make a point of hurting her at every opportunity. Unfortunately Laura decided to ignore the advice of her best friend Kerry and marry him anyway.

Kerry and Laura have been friends for their entire lifetime. As close as sisters, and yet Laura still chooses not to heed the words of her friend. The result is catastrophic.

It was quite interesting to see this story evolve from a romantic dalliance to domestic abuse and then into something completely different. A tale of betrayal suspense, misery and rejection with an unexpected twist at the end.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Harlequin UK and MIRA UK.

Wednesday 3 September 2014

The Moment Collector by Jodi Lynn Anderson

A haunting tale of a past life revisiting the path she once trod and how the life ended in the first place.

At first glance it appears to be a story of three young people, who are connected via place and time.

The actual spirit seems almost menacing and is centred around the house Maggie and her parents have moved into.

It is a family property passed down through the ages. The presence thinks it belongs somewhere deep below in the cellar. It is unaware of its identity, has no inkling of how or when it came to be there.

What it does know is that something bad is coming, something is going to happen to Maggie, Pauline or Liam. Is it there to help them, save them or is it there to harm them?

The ghost tries to connect with other apparitions, but comes to the conclusion that they are not from within the same time frame or era. They just float and wander by without responding to her cries. She watches the three of them, sometimes from afar and often up close.

She sees them grow close, splinter and break apart. Love is fickle, relationships come and go, but friendships are supposed to be able to withstand the test of time.

I really loved the overall feel of this story. Never too dramatic or teeny. Subtle with just enough action or emotional turmoil to keep a nice flow to the it. The most memorable element for me was the layer of sorrow and the haunting ache left behind by her memories.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Tuesday 2 September 2014

The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy

Books about the Second World War tend to focus on the monstrosities perpetrated by the Nazi's and their collaborators during the reign of Hitler.

The war was not just fought by sadists and people willing to cross into the deepest depths of inhumanity.

It was also fought by normal men, women, boys and girls. The architect, the baker and the candlestick maker.

Leroy gives us an interesting and thought-provoking look at the men behind the uniforms and the relationships made within the confines of wartime occupation.

Vivienne has to choose between safety for her children and herself, and the innocent souls being annihilated by the Germans. It also becomes clear that the majority of Germans are confronted with the same choice. Their families, and their own lives or that of nameless victims.

Gunther tells Vivienne about superior officers, who have dared to speak out against the mass murder and maltreatment of others, and are now bullet fodder at the Eastern front. The German war and propaganda machine does not take kindly to any kind of criticism.

So the elephant in the room is whether the threat of death, violence or deportation would be enough to make you, me or anyone else stay silent. Or indeed instead try in our own way to help, even if it is only small ways. Those who stood and protested out loud were soon disposed of. The brave men, women and children, who fought silently by opposing the regime and the occupiers are the unsung heroes. Hiding prisoners, feeding them, helping them to escape. All of these things are huge in the face of the reality of being discovered.

Vivienne is confused by her reaction to Gunther. In those stolen moments together he is no longer the enemy, nor the soldier, he is just a man who wants her as much as she wants him. She learns about his life before the war, his family and career. She also has a friendly relationship with another soldier, who has come to her aid on behalf of Gunther. She finds herself in between a rock and a hard place.

Is she betraying her fellow islanders? Are the girls enjoying some fun with the German men, are they traitors for wanting a little attention and romance? Very thin lines and sketchy boundary issues for both sides of the coin.

I think the real question for me was whether Vivienne's attempt to balance the scales of justice was done because she felt guilty or wanted to redeem herself in some way. I would rather believe that the instinct to do the morally right thing, which isn't always the safest option, was a choice she made instinctively.

The ending is bitter-sweet. The repercussions remain unspoken, only the positive is relevant and that is exactly how Leroy finishes the story. She wants the reader to take that smidgen of positive in the midst of all that hate, pain and negativity. To remember that we are capable of bright moments within the deepest dark.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Harlequin UK and MIRA UK.

Virgin by Radhika Sanghani

Ellie is a 21-year-old university student, who has yet to go the full distance in the horizontal tango department.

She tends to rely heavily on the support of her close friends. Her attitude to life in general and her problems, is quite flighty and immature.

Jealousy rears its ugly head when others do better and they have any type of sexual exploit or romantic relationship, especially when it's one of her friends.

Everything, simply everything revolves around her virginity. Almost to the point of obsession, which is probably why she is letting it influence all her relationships and her daily life.

The situations are slightly exaggerated and overly dramatic to instil an overall sense of comedy to otherwise awkward situations. The sexual scenarios are quite descriptive, so I wouldn't recommend this for younger readers.

To be more specific, I mean talking about certain sexual positions or a how-to descriptions on giving certain sexual gratification to your male bed partner. It is done in a funny, joking way, a conversation between good friends having a laugh.

So, I wouldn't give this book to my very shy and inexperienced 16-year-old, but I would have given it my more experienced (at the time) 18-year-old, and I will be giving it to my older daughters to read.

It would have been nice to see a more realistic and serious representation of  virginity in our day and age. In that regard Sanghani is right on the button. There is a clear lack  of reading material on the subject, especially ones written in a way that eases the fear and pressure.

A choice which is often frowned upon and scorned at. The pressure by peers to do as they do and be as they are makes it difficult for young people to make their own choices. It is a very personal choice to remain a virgin and there are many reasons for that choice. Waiting till you meet the right person, waiting until marriage (religious and non-religious), fear of sex and/or just not wanting to have sex at all.

I think real people in this particular situation, as opposed to fictional characters, who pick up this book may actually find some of the scenarios described in this story very off-putting and anxiety inducing. The fictional and fun aspect of the book should always remain at the forefront of a reader's mind.

Prepare to learn about all the de-hairing process of  a woman. Wax, cream, shave the stubble. Not always pleasant and most certainly a learning experience most of us could and would do without. Nothing quite like hairs being ripped from sensitive places via wax strips, especially when the waxer seems to appear gleeful at the sound of post ripping screams.

The reader gets to follow Ellie on her very determined path to have her 'untouched inner lotus' well and truly deflowered. A path filled with many mortifying experiences, quite a few moments she would rather forget, and a journey worthy of a book.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Harlequin UK and Mills & Boon.