Thursday 31 December 2015

House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

When Holly gets a desperate phone call her from her niece it is the beginning of a long search for her missing brother Ben and the unravelling of a love story that stretches over many centuries.

Holly doesn't want to see the other side to Ben. He is beyond reproach and everyone else must be to blame for his disappearance.

None of that changes the fact he has not only vanished without a trace, but he has also left his very young daughter to fend for herself in the middle of the night.

Holly discovers that Ben was researching the history of specific items owned by the Winter Queen. They are rumoured to be very valuable and possess magical powers. Destructive magical powers.

The story wanders in and out of three timelines, the past with the Winter Queen, the past with the close descendants and the present with Holly. The link between all of them being the dangerous heirlooms and the mysterious Ashdown House.

Inevitably it comes down to a choice between power or peace, war or sanity and money or being able to just say no. You know what they say, power corrupts, especially when you have a never ending source.

Kornick mixes historical fiction and a wee bit of the unexplained supernatural.

Buy House of Shadows at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Monday 28 December 2015

Memoirs of a Dead White Chick by Lennox Randon

A middle-aged white woman from our era inside the body of teenage black boy in the late 1850's. An interesting premise, and one I presumed would be written with the agenda of shedding light on the plight of slaves in America.

I expected Randon to make his point with a sledgehammer and leave no stones unturned and certainly take no prisoners.

Instead Randon is subtle in his approach, and it actually does seem as if the story is written by a middle-aged white woman.

Randon depicts the struggle between North and South before the outbreak of the civil war. How different the opinions are about slavery or the plight of slaves from one state to the other. Treated like little more than property, with no voice, no rights and no possible end to their situation in sight. Families ripped apart and subject to the whims, moods and brutality of sadists.

Eleanor experiences the injustice, the decrepit conditions and the inhumanity towards her, all because the colour of her skin has now made her a second class human being. She accepts her new surroundings and circumstances without so much as a second thought. I think I would be filled with rage at the injustice of being treated like property or worse than an animal.

I often wonder what I would be able to remember if I ever ended up in the past. Would I be able to remember anything useful? How Penicillin was discovered, the lotto numbers in a certain year, what invention to invest in or how create electricity. Would I be able to resist changing the course of history?

The one element of the story that didn't gel completely right for me was Eleanor transforming into a surgeon or medical expert at one point. Time-travel or soul travel does not equate to the acquisition of brand new skills, such as medical knowledge.

I enjoyed the idea and admit to being surprised by the way Randon decided to let the idea speak for itself instead of using the idea as a tool or a voice.

Thank you to Smith Publicity for my copy of Memoirs of a Dead White Chick.
Buy Memoirs of a Dead White Chick at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Sunday 27 December 2015

Every Time a bell Rings by Carmel Harrington

I felt as if Tess was the backbone of the story, perhaps even more so than Belle. She is the person who forms and loves the adult Belle grows up to be. Through all the disappointment, neglect and heartbreak Belle always has Tess holding her up and pushing her forward.

It must be incredibly hard for both foster parents and foster children to say goodbye when the children return to their parents, especially when they have managed to form a bond. Not all foster parents do it for the right reasons, but those who really care can change the lives of children in dire need of support and love.

Harrington draws upon the plot of It's a Wonderful Life quite a bit. In a way it makes the story seem more nostalgic. In essence the moral of the story is to acknowledge how lucky we are and to be happy for what we have instead of wanting what we might never be able to have.

I think we are all guilty from time to time of not being able to understand that we may be luckier than we think. Belle is stuck in her obsession of Lauren. The bond has grown into something that could be viewed as detrimental for a foster child, who eventually has to return to their biological parents.

Someone needs to remind Belle or make her aware of what is really important. What her life would be like without certain people in her life, and if she hadn't been part of their lives either. Harrington has created a Christmas story that leaves the reader with plenty to think about.

Buy Every Time a Bell Rings at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Bomber Boy: The Rise of the Underwear Bomber by Ike Pius

This is a novella length story

In light of recent terrorist attacks in the last few months and indeed in the last few decades the premise may seem a little forward thinking. However the reality is even the terrorist has a voice, and this story is looking at it from a perspective other than that of the victims.

Farouk is planning to kill a plane load of innocent people. Why? Because they are infidels of course. Does it matter whether he has his reasons for doing so?

Pius starts out strong, but tapers off towards the end. I would have liked to have seen him explore the thoughts, mindset and interactions of the terrorist. How one minute Farouk is the friendly compassionate conversationalist to the people around him and then in his head Farouk the murderer-to-be is having an entirely different conversation.

Bomber Boy starts off as an ambitious idea, but it seems a little rushed. The difficulty with a novella is that it needs to draw you in and keep you there without having the advantage of the full length novel to do so.
Buy Bomber Boy at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie

If you didn't happen to catch the TV première of Grantchester then you are definitely missing out on a treat. The series is based on James Runcie's The Grantchester Mysteries featuring the sleuth Sidney Chambers, the canon detective with a flair for secrets and mysteries.

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death features quite a few of the Grantchester tales or mysteries.

Think Father Brown, but with more charm and a lot more good-looking. In fact I think Sidney isn't really as steadfast in his religion, as Brown is. Sidney loves his jazz, pretty women, a nice scotch and great literature. He also likes to move within the ranks of the upper echelon. Doesn't really leave much room for faith and God now, does it?

Somehow between all those things the charming detective manages to get pulled into the occasional murder, theft,  possible suicide and any other crime you can think of. Sometimes Sidney finds himself being coerced into helping and other times he just stumbles into the odd scenario.

I really enjoy the relationship between Sidney and Geordie Keating. Keating is a blue collar working man and Chambers is the typical white collar well-situated man. The two of them share a passion for drink, crime, backgammon and gossip. Well perhaps Geordie loves his gossip a wee bit more, especially when it is about Sidney and his lady loves.

The two of them form an unusual bond, which grows into a strong friendship. Geordie favours the route of logical reasoning and Sidney is prone to more adventurous and out-of-box theories.

I have to say the television series has captured the essence of Sidney Chambers perfectly, and indeed the stories written by James Runcie.

Buy Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Tuesday 15 December 2015

All Dressed in White by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke

Laurie finds it hard to resist the emotional plea of Sandra. The parallels between losing Greg and searching for his killer for so long are echoed in the disappearance of Amanda.

The Pierce family have been driven apart by the disappearance of their daughter, sister and almost wife.

Gone without a single trace of evidence. Is she dead or has she just started a new life somewhere else? It is the not knowing that is slowly destroying Sandra.

The relationship between Alex and Laurie has come to wobbly halt, because she is still finding it hard  to let go of the truth and deal with the fact Greg is gone.

Bringing everyone back together to enact the 'crime' for the television show Under Suspicion leads to all the suspects getting their cage rattled.

Higgins Clarke and Burke have created  a combination of psychological thriller, murder mystery and cosy crime. The characters are memorable and the type a reader wants to come back to. The crime element is sufficiently creepy and there are plenty of suspects to go around.

Thank you to Edelweiss for my copy of All Dressed in White.
Buy All Dressed in White at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Friday 11 December 2015

Pop Sonnets by Erik Didriksen

I am a lover of Shakespeare. I watched the Voldemort meets Gerard Butler version of Coriolanus and read the original play at the same time, that's being a wee bit of a Shakespeare geek.

There is nothing quite like watching his work being performed by thespians, who understand the essence of his words and voice.

Didriksen makes a really good point in the foreword. Shakespeare is meant to seen and heard, and not just read.
He was not an author but a playwright: his work is intended not to be read but heard.
Pop Sonnets is the combination of Shakespeareanism vs the world of modern music. Erik Didriksen has written popular and contemporary songs in the form of Shakespearean sonnets.

It is what I would call a niche kind of book. It might not appeal to everyone. It is certainly a unique book. I am going to be buying myself a print copy, because I don't think the Kindle version does it real justice.

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.
Buy Pop Sonnets at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Nowhere Child by Rachel Abbott

Nowhere Child is an add-on novella, and is part of the DCI Tom Douglas series by Rachel Abbott. More specifically it is part of Stranger Child, and a follow up to Natasha's story.

In Stranger Child Natasha returns to her home many years after her mysterious disappearance. Taken as small child and turned into the modern equivalent of a Fagin's Oliver Twist type criminal.

Her stepmother Emma is wary of the intruder, whereas her husband seems eager to just gloss over the missing years. Natasha ends up putting her baby brother in danger, so it would only be natural for Emma to want to see the back end of this troubled teen.

Instead Emma finds herself drawn to the girl, and wants to help rather than remove the strange girl from her perfect life and picture book family scenario. Unfortunately Natasha has valid reasons not to trust anyone and also fears repercussions from her old gang, so she makes a run for it.

Nowhere Child takes up the story from that point onwards. With Natasha sleeping rough under bridges and in tunnels, and Emma spending all her waking hours searching for her. The relationship between the two of them is unusual and yet at the same time quite refreshing. You don't have to give birth to a child to be a mother to one. It's a shame the powers that be don't always view non-biological relationships the same way.

This story holds the answers to all the unanswered questions from Stranger Child. The most important one being: What happened to Natasha?

Thank you to the author for my copy of Nowhere Child.

Buy Nowhere Child at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read And So It BeginsRead Kill Me AgainRead The Back Road,  Read Sleep TightRead Come a Little Closer, Read Stranger Child all by Rachel Abbott.

Friday 27 November 2015

The Iron Warrior by Julie Kagawa

When I got to the end of this book I was bit surprised to read that this is the last in the Iron series.

I still remember reading Kagawa's first venture into the Fey world with Megan, when she had to retrieve her baby brother from the claws of the Fey. Now Ethan is all grown up and fighting his own battles.

The end of The Iron Traitor (The Call of the Forgotten #2) left readers in shock. With Ethan somewhere between life and death, the Veil lifted to reveal the Fey and then closed again, and all at the hands of the Iron Prince.

Kierran made a choice between his love and his soul, a decision which has left cracks in both the Fey and human world. Once the golden boy and heir to the Iron Kingdom, he is now a traitor as far as his fellow Fey are concerned.

In The Iron Warrior we see Kierran become the pawn of the Old Forgotten Fey Queen and the leader of the huge Forgotten army. Aim: to destroy the Veil and restore the Forgotten Queen to power. Unfortunately the majority of the Fey don't remember the era of her terrible reign, which means they can't really comprehend the danger and risk coming their way. A few of the ancient Fey do remember and decide to intervene in the so-called fate propelled prophecy.

It was great to see Kenzie get a bigger and more active part in the story, although I personally felt there was too much romance and too many intimate moments taking up space in the book.

As I read the last chapter I was still quite unaware of this book being the last in the series and I was already busy thinking about where Kagawa could possibly take it from there. I believe it is a case of quitting before the air goes out of the story, and whilst it is still quite a popular read. I can't fault her for that thinking, but I admit I will miss this quirky bunch of Fey, especially Razor who is the equivalent of Potter's Dobby. No more sarcastic Grimalkin or snooty Puck, no more icy Ash or any of the drama driven Fey monarchy.

It is certainly an ending worthy of the Iron bunch & Co.
Thank you to Netgalley for my copy of The Iron Warrior.
Buy The Iron Warrior at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa

It seems as if Kagawa is experiencing a peak in her writing at the moment. She seems to be ticking all the boxes in her newest books.

The Iron series The Iron King started as a bland mixed bag of sweets with a penchant for ripping off fairy tales and the legends of Fey.

That series leads into this spin-off featuring the son of Ash and Meghan. Kagawa has grown as a writer and turned this series into a challenging and entertaining YA experience.

In this book the prophecy begins to rule the outcome of events. The role that Keirran will play in the Fey game of chess slowly becomes apparent. It is almost like looking back upon the first fissures Megan created during her early years in Fey. Keirran acts without thinking through the consequences of his actions and he does it all in the name of true love.

Meanwhile Ethan is split between supporting his family and acknowledging his real feelings. It takes a visit to a goblin market for him to unlock the subconscious anger that has been slowly drifting beneath the surface.

His anger in combination with the darkness growing inside Keirran is a ticking time-bomb waiting to implode. Question is who will lose control first?

The ending was a cliffhanger and dramatic extravaganza par excellence. I am not going to reveal any spoilers but what I can and will say is that in the next book all hell is going to break loose. Life as they know it in Fey, the Never Never, the Inbetween and the good old real world will never be the same again.

Yes, the ending is that good.
I highly recommend the series for younger and older readers alike and have actually purchased the entire series in paperback for my 15 year old.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Learning to Speak American by Colette Dartford

The death of a child has got to be one of the most painful, traumatic and tragic things a parent has to deal with.

In the aftermath of such a tragedy the people left behind often struggle to keep everything together. Relationships crumble and marriages fall apart.

Duncan and Lola are each struggling in their own way with the death of their daughter. Lola is withdrawn and Duncan refuses to deal with his grief. The result is two people in a long-term relationship, who have become complete strangers to one another.

In an attempt to reconnect with his wife, Duncan takes her on a trip to America, where Lola falls in love with a piece of property in a tranquil spot.

Although the two of them seem to have found common ground in the property, they actually start to wander even further apart. Duncan seeks release from his guilt and emotions by completely disconnecting from them. Lola starts building new relationships and emotional bridges to strangers a whole continent away.

Dartford has captured the essence of estrangement between the married couple. How two people who have lived together,have had a child together and have been intimate lovers and friends for many decades, can suddenly become strangers.

With the two of them travelling on such completely different paths it seems as if the outcome is inevitable. Or is it?

Thank you to NetGalley, Twenty7books and MidasPR for my copy of Learning to speak American.
Buy Learning to speak American at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Saturday 21 November 2015

The Lost and Found Life of Rosy Bennett

When it rains it pours, which is exactly what it must seem like to Rosy Bennett after the sudden and unexpected death of her husband Simon.

One secret after the other, and there seems to be no end to the betrayal. The quiet married father of two seems to have been leading quite the double life.

Suddenly Rosy finds herself in debt, in danger of losing her family home and the owner of a herd of alpacas. Yes, a bunch of four-legged furry exotic animals. Not really the kind of secret you expect your husband to be hiding.

Personally I found the behaviour and language of James quite extreme. Grief and anger aside I felt Rosy ignored his disrespectful attitude towards herself and others. Also the fact that what was good for the goose apparently wasn't good enough for the gander, who had far more problems than Megan.

Taking one to the therapist and not 'making' the older child go was a contradiction in itself. The language and phrases he used is something I might expect of an older teen going through hormonal changes and an attitude problem, but not an 11-year-old boy.

Rosy not only has to rediscover her sense of self, as a woman and as a parent, she also needs a new source of income. No longer the married woman in a long-term partnership she is now free, single and ready to mingle. Not as easy as it sounds with two emotionally distraught boys and her four-legged woolly friends needing constant attention.

Birley has created a nice wee story here, perhaps the basics of the story aren't unusual, but the family dynamics and interactions are ones readers can relate to. It could happen to anyone of us.

Whilst I myself I am not bothered by swearing at all, I do think Birley needs to take into consideration that some readers may be put off by fuck here, fuck that and shag everywhere.
Romance and heartbreak readers often like their drama to be a nice and cuddly read with the occasional tear. Of course it is probably only a small minority of readers.

Thank you to the author for my copy of The Lost and Found Life of Rosy Bennett.
Follow @Jan_birley on Twitter, visit to find out more about her or follow her on Goodreads. Buy The Lost and Found Life of Rosy Bennett at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Friday 20 November 2015

Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep

I am really warming to this new series of Estep's, Black Blade. The first part, Cold Burn of Magic, started with a bang and ended with tentacled terror, and now the second part is making an even firmer mark in the world of YA Urban Fantasy.

Once again Jennifer Estep has created a strong female main character. albeit a younger one this time. Lila is streetwise, grounded and willing to do anything to get revenge.

Lila spends a lot of her time hiding her magic from everyone or at least from the ones who would like to do her harm. Not everyone needs to know just how strong she really is.

Not such an easy feat when the Sinclair family enters Lila into the Tournament of Blades. She has to make a choice between winning and showing her talents or losing and staying under the radar.

On top of all that Lila and Co. are trying to find the monster, who is viciously murdering tree trolls. The search for the killer leads Lila to secrets she might regret discovering. In fact it changes everything.

The Black Blade series offers plenty of magic, strong characters, a world full of conflict and monsters.

Thank you to NetGalley for my copy of Dark Heart of Magic.

Buy Dark Heart of Magic (Black Blade #2) at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1) or Bright Blaze of Magic (Black Blade #3).

More of the Estep's Elemental Assassin series here: Spider's TrapPoison PromiseThe SpiderThe Black Widow and Heart of Venom.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

It's a Wonderful Death by Sarah J. Schmitt

Poor RJ is in the wrong place at the wrong time and ends up in the middle of a Grim Reaper and gypsy, who isn't ready to depart from this world. Oops you're dead.

Instead of being shocked, dismayed or upset RJ is angry and indignant. How dare the Reaper make a mistake and interrupt her busy teenage schedule. She insists on being sent back pronto.

Essentially this story is about having the chance to rectify mistakes, to take the right path instead of the wrong one and being given a second chance.

Each interaction we have with another human being moves a cog in life. Depending on which direction it moves it sets different things in motion. So it goes without saying that changing one movement or direction in one cog can change a life.

The powers that be, and there are quite a few in the Heaven/Hell/In-between station, finally decide RJ at least deserves a try at being a better person. So she gets placed back into certain situations in the hope that she will make better choices for herself and for her fellow human beings.

Schmitt lays at lot of emphasis on bullying, peer pressure and taking responsibility for your actions. The underlying message being; how each of us and our decisions can impact others. If our interactions with others are negative then perhaps we are leaving a trail of destruction behind us.

Instead of ignoring the bullied kid in the corner maybe you should talk to them. If being with the popular kids means you have to be mean to others then maybe you need to find new friends. Do you ignore it when others are being picked on? Stand up and speak out.

A strong message to young people, but wrapped within a story, which is both witty and serious at the same time.

Thank you to Edelweiss for my copy of It's a Wonderful Death.
Buy It's a Wonderful Death at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Kill the Silence by Monika Kørra

Kørra probably won't win any awards for her literary style, prose or writing in general, however she certainly deserves recognition for being brave enough to face her demons and put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

For having the strength to lay bare her experiences and emotions, so others can see that there is a life beyond rape. Learning how to cope is a day by day and hour by hour uphill battle.

Her story is an autobiographical account of the horrific kidnap and gang rape ordeal she went through, as a college student.

Not only was she literally grabbed from the streets right in front of her friends, she was a student in a foreign country at the time. No family or childhood friends to support her during the aftermath of her ordeal.

Monika was lucky enough to have made a close-knit group of college friends, who were there to support her. In fact the details of the kidnap bound them together in a way I think outsiders might have trouble understanding.

I think one of the things that stood out for me the most was the treatment Monika received, specifically the way the police and hospital handled her. Lacking in sensitivity, in training, in understanding and in empathy.

The other thing was. and this is in no way a criticism, far from it, was the complete detachment from an emotional point of view.

Completely normal in her situation and certainly a coping technique. Keeping a wall between the flood of emotions and the memories isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as a support system is in place.
Kudos to her for surviving, being strong and sharing her story.

Thank you to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for my copy of Kill the Silence.
Buy Kill the Silence at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Monday 9 November 2015

Katherine Carlyle by Rupert Thomson

This is a strange one. A bit like wandering through the fantastical mind fortresses of a young person in the throes of a hormonal rush and seeking the meaning of her life.

Don't most of us go through the phase of thinking we know it all and can rule the world?  Katherine is seeking answers about herself in the events of the past. Specifically in her parents' past.

Katherine Carlyle lives in a world of dreams, imagined scenarios and a vivid imagination. Sometimes it seems a little more than just the harmless daydreams of a well to do young girl.

Katherine is used to getting what she wants when she wants it. She hasn't had to do without anything, except perhaps the attention of her father, since her mother passed away.

Katherine is obsessed by her conception. The fact she is an IVF baby makes her obsess about two things. Why her parents left her in a container for so long, and the repercussions of her birth. Guilt plays a major factor in her actions and her belief that Daddy doesn't love her enough.

So she creates scenarios in her mind, the way she would like people to react and act towards her, which is in direct juxtaposition to her reality. Katherine puts herself in dangerous situations. Possibly because she wants to be rescued, actually she does want to be rescued, she just doesn't realise it yet.

What she wants is for Daddy to prove how much she means to him by coming for her, by looking for her and for turning over every stone to find her. That's all fine and dandy, well perhaps it is a wee bit adolescent, but for the fact Daddy doesn't even know she is gone. Daddy is blissfully unaware of Katherine and her fantastical world of connections. Lucky him.

Katherine pushes the boundaries till the point of constant danger, and then she pushes some more. The end result is a nightmare. Some people would say an inevitable nightmare if you live in a bubble and believe you will always be safe just because you think and say you will.

As I said in the beginning, this was a strange one. I think it is one of those books that will mean a variety of things to different people depending on their own frame of reference.

Thank you to NetGalley for my copy of Katherine Carlyle.
Buy Katherine Carlyle at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Sunday 8 November 2015

The Hidden Legacy by G.J. Minett

This was an intriguing one, because it throws up a lot of questions about forgiveness, redemption, trust, guilt and rehabilitation. There are crimes, and then there are crimes, which defy our imagination and cross the boundaries of humanity.

This is especially the case when heinous crimes involve children, both with children as the victims and as the perpetrators.

Obviously one crime that pops immediately to the forefront, in Britain perhaps more so, is the murder of two-year old Jamie Bulger by two young boys aged ten and eleven. This case is actually used as an example in the story. 

In this scenario a 12 year old boy kills one child and almost kills another. Throughout the story the reader finds out his reasoning behind his actions, and why he felt compelled to do what he did or justified in his actions. However the story is really more about what comes afterwards for those left behind in the aftermath of such a crime.

What happens to the family members of the victims, the family members of the perpetrator and finally what happens to the person who committed the crime, especially if they were a child at the time of the incident.

Ultimately most judicial systems give sentences in an attempt to punish but also rehabilitate the criminal. They will eventually be released into society again. One can argue the pros, cons and the statistics when it comes to re-offenders, but that debate doesn't belong here. Minors are not charged or tried as adults, and as such their sentences are often reduced and their records are sealed. So a twelve-year-old can kill someone and be out on the streets with a new identity by the age of twenty-one, with the pubic none the wiser.

One of the topics throughout the book is whether or not the perpetrator deserves to be hounded for the rest of his life, despite completing his time behind bars. Having to live life under a false identity and evade the constant stream of reporters looking for a reboot of a gruesome story.

Are there crimes that don't deserve the forgiveness of others? I'm sure Jamie Bulger's mother will always believe the two boys, who are now grown men, don't deserve any such thing.

The Hidden Legacy moves from two periods in the past to the future and to the apparently unconnected Ellen, who has just found out she has inherited something of great value from a complete stranger. Little does she know that this is the beginning of the unravelling of decades of lies.

I couldn't decide whether Eudora was subconsciously trying to manipulate the lives of those involved, perhaps because of a deep-rooted need for vengeance. Without Eudora and the inheritance there would be no dialogue with Ellen about the past. Or was Eudora really trying to make the best of a terrible situation?

It was a captivating read. In the end I was riveted by how Ellen would react and of course wondered what others or I would do in the same situation. Fact is these criminals are re-introduced into society. Do we judge them on who they were and what they did or on the life they lead after their release? Fascinating plot, which I am sure will cause a lot of debate.

Thank you to Bonnier Publishing. Twenty7 Books and NetGalley for my copy of The Hidden Legacy.
Buy The Hidden Legacy at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Saturday 7 November 2015

Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths

This is the second book in the Stephens and Mephisto series. The combination of police inspector and magician/actor is unusual, although to be honest I don't think Mephisto really carries his half of the detective work.

Two children have gone missing and the hope to find them unharmed is dwindling fast. There seem to suspects galore and plenty of strange connections to nefarious scenarios.

Annie has an obsession with the real origin of fairy-tales. The dark murderous side of old children's tales. Is that where the truth lies? Is the person who took them connected to her obsession or is the truth hidden in the world of magic and theatre.

Griffiths mixes the pain of the World Wars with the close knitted community of theatre performers. Actors and magicians with their secrets, mysteries and quirks.

The story is set in the 1950's, before crime scene technology was available and police had to rely on proof other than DNA. Each lead is followed no matter how bizarre or outlandish it may seem.

The beginning was good, but I think Griffiths could have done with making the plot a little tighter towards the end. Incorporating the folk tale and darker side of fairy-tales with the dysfunctional dynamics of family and reality was very interesting.
Overall a pleasant read.

Thank you to NetGalley for my copy of Smoke and Mirrors.
Buy Smoke and Mirrors at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Thursday 5 November 2015

Need by Joelle Charbonneau

Fascinating premise and perhaps not quite as unrealistic as one might think. Given the power of social media and how vulnerable and easily influenced young people are, it isn't really that far-fetched.

Imagine a social media site that will fulfil any need you might have. Not your wants or your wishes, but your needs. An Ipad, a phone, a trip to Disneyland or perhaps you need a car.

It all starts out with simple invitations and the fledgling members have the ability to invite a specific number of other users. (Reminds me of the way the social media platform Ello started out, and how coveted the invitations were at the beginning.)

Each user has to request a need, which is then submitted only when invites have been sent out. At least that's the way it starts out. All innocence and fun until the Need site starts asking their members for more than just extra members.

Things quickly become insidious and dangerous. Teenagers are manipulated into doing seemingly innocent deeds, all of which are connected in some way.

In the midst of all this is Kaylee, a young girl living with the an enormous burden on her shoulders. She has been looking for a solution to her problems and has lied, stolen and deceived to do it. Her mother no longer trusts her and everyone else thinks she is desperate and crazy.

Charbonneau has a fresh voice with innovative ideas. I think she let the story run away with her a little towards the end, because it wasn't as tight as in the beginning, but other than that it was an interesting idea and read.

Thank you to NetGalley for my copy of Need.
Buy Need at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever by Jeff Strand Cover Reveal and Sneak Peek

The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever
Author: Jeff Strand
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Jeff Strand gives readers a sneak peek at his latest novel The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever, and shares his five favorite zombie movies:
Jeff Strand’s Five Favorite Zombie Movies:
My five favorite zombie movies are very similar to many other people’s five favorite zombie movies. I could’ve gone the condescending click-bait route and written about “The Five Best Zombie Movies You’ve Never Seen!” but, no, I’m going with my five real favorites….
#5: DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004 version). I was one of the many people bellowing, “You can’t remake DAWN OF THE DEAD! This is blasphemy! Blasphemy!!!” But somehow this remake to a sequel (but not a sequel to the remake) turned out to be awesome. Not quite as good as the original (SPOILER ALERT: That’s #3 on this list) but one of my all-time favorites. 
#4: RE-ANIMATOR. I’ve now seen plenty of movies that are more over-the-top insane than RE-ANIMATOR, but this was the first movie where I simply couldn’t believe what I was watching. It was hard to believe that a movie so dark and gruesome could be so funny. 
#3: DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978 version). Shameful confession: When I first saw this in high school I thought it was stupid and boring. Fortunately, I matured and accepted that it’s one of the high points of zombie cinema. It’s the reason I know to duck before walking toward spinning helicopter blades. 
#2: RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. Fast zombies long before 28 DAYS LATER! The first time zombies ate brains! It doesn’t often get the credit it deserves, but this is one of the most influential zombie movies ever.
#1: SHAUN OF THE DEAD. The greatest zombie comedy ever. The greatest zombie movie ever. The greatest MOVIE ever. 
After producing three horror movies that went mostly ignored on YouTube, Justin and his filmmaking buddies decide it’s time they create something noteworthy, something epic. They’re going to film the Greatest Zombie Movie Ever. They may not have money or a script, but they have passion. And, after a rash text message, they also have the beautiful Alicia Howtz—Justin’s crush—as the lead.
With only one month to complete their movie, a script that can’t possibly get worse, and the hopes and dreams of Alicia on the line, Justin is feeling the pressure. Add to that a cast of uncooperative extras and incompetent production assistants, and Justin must face the sad, sad truth. He may actually be producing The Worst Zombie Movie Ever…
About Jeff Strand:
Jeff Strand has written more than twenty books, and is a four-time nominee (and four-time non-winner) of the Bram Stoker Award. Two of his young adult novels, A Bad Day For Voodoo and I Have A Bad Feeling About This, were Junior Library Guild picks. Publishers Weekly called his work “wickedly funny.” He lives in Tampa, Florida.
Excerpt from The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever:
The vampire, whose fangs were too big for his mouth, turned to the camera and hissed.
"Don't look at the camera," said Justin Hollow, the director.
"I keep poking my lip on these things," said Harold, spitting the plastic fangs out onto the ground. He hadn't been a very frightening example of the undead before, and he was even less scary with no fangs and a thick line of drool running down his chin.
"Cut!" shouted Justin, loud enough to be sure that the command was heard by his production crew of two. "C'mon, Harold. Stay in character. We're three hours behind schedule."
"I don't care. I hate this. You promised that I'd get all the girls I wanted. So where are all of the girls I want?"
Justin let out his thirty-ninth exasperated sigh of the night. "The movie has to come out first."
"It's not even a real movie."
Justin bristled. It was a full body bristle, head to toe, which he hadn't even realized was physically possible. Bobby, who handled sound recording, and Gabe, who handled everything else, both stepped back a couple of feet. Neither of them truly believed that they were about to witness a murder, but they wanted to get out of the splash zone, just in case.
Had this been one of Justin's movies, he would have very slowly lowered his camera, stared directly into Harold's eyes with a steel gaze, and then after an extremely dramatic pause asked ""
His actual response, delivered in a squeakier voice than he would have allowed from his actors, was: "Huh?"
"I said it's not a real movie." Harold started to wipe the fake blood off his mouth. It didn't come off, and probably wouldn't for several days. Justin had planned to feel guilty about this later, but now he wouldn't bother. "Nobody's ever going to see it. You probably won't even finish it."
"I finished my last three movies!" Justin insisted. "I got hundreds of hits on YouTube!"
That statement was technically accurate, though it was the lowest possible number of hits you could get and still use "hundred" in its plural form. The only comment anybody posted about his latest film had been "This twelve year-old filmmaker sort of shows promise," which really frustrated Justin since he was fifteen.
Harold shrugged. "This is a waste of time. I've got better things to do on a Friday night."
"Nobody ever said this was going to be easy," said Justin, who had indeed said that it was going to be easy when luring Harold into the role. "You can quit now, but what are you going to think about your decision ten years from now?"
"I'm going to think, wow, it sure is nice to be such a well-paid dentist."
Harold walked off the set. It wasn't an actual set, but rather a small park near Justin's home, where they were filming without a permit. Justin knew he should shout something after his ex-actor. Something vicious. Something devastating. He thought about shouting "You'll never work in this town again!" but, no, it had to be something that Harold would consider a bad thing.
"Fine!" Justin shouted. "But when we record the audio commentary track for the Blu-Ray, I'm going to talk about how you abandoned us, and how much happier everybody was with the new actor who took your role, and how we all agreed that he should have been cast in the first place, and how he had so many girlfriends that he couldn't even keep track of them, and how they all found out about each other and had a great big awesome cat-fight in his front yard! And I'll pronounce your name wrong!"
Harold continued walking, apparently not heartbroken.
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Monday 2 November 2015

Reap the Wind by Karen Chance

Well this book is certainly a whirlwind, I don't think the main character managed to stop and have a break for even a minute. 

It was non-stop fast-paced action. 

Faster than Chance's usual pace that's for sure. She usually gives us some drawn out moments of passion or touchy feely scenes.

If you have been following the life and troubles of Cassie Palmer since the beginning then you will understand the difference between the two of them when you read this book and this Cassie, as opposed to the Cassie of the first book.

Chance has kicked up the erotic scenes a notch. Easing slowly towards a romantic relationship between Pritkin and Cassie. She spends a lot of time reflecting upon the why of her relationship with Mircea. Is it love, is it lust or is it just compulsion? If so, has she possibly been ignoring a real connection between her and Pritkin all this time?

It seems as if Cassie spends all her time in the buff, in a towel or in general with no clothes in her general vicinity. She also seems to have an unfortunate amount of bathroom, shower and bedroom incidents. Old Cassie used to do all her stunts and crazy missions with clothes on, she also never used to spend half her time playing hole in one with her flavour of the month.

It is almost as if Chance is bowing down to the pressure of appealing to a mass audience and using the quick thrills to keep them captivated, instead of sticking to her unique style of writing and creativity.

In my opinion Chance is still quite underrated as an Urban Fantasy writer. She certainly deserves more recognition than she gets, especially for her Dorina Basarab series. She spins the worlds of vamps, fey, shifters and magic together like a well-constructed spider's web, and combines all of it with her feisty characters and charming wit.

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley, courtesy of Penguin Berkley/Signet.

Buy Reap the Wind on Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for or for any other retailer.

Read Ride the Storm by Karen Chance

Friday 30 October 2015

Shifter: City of Wolves by Avery Burch

It's supposed to be adult paranormal romance, but I think it is a combination of YA and New Adult with fairly graphic scenes. That is possibly something the author needs to look at more closely.

The age of the main characters and their dialogues does not gel with the more adult content in the book.

At times it seemed as if two sub-genres were colliding in a way that suggests the author isn't quite sure which direction she wants to go in.

Then there is the matter of keeping it realistic, well as realistic as you can get when werewolves are involved. Having your main female character give fellatio to the main male character in the middle of huge fight or slaughter scene, well it just isn't realistic.

Everyone around you is being killed, weapons are being fired and you fear for your life. So you do what everyone would do in that dire situation you wipe out your boyfriends winkle and blow, suck and lick for what your life is worth.

Sometimes less is more, and in this case the author needs to be more certain and stand behind her storyline instead of resorting to quick erotic thrills to keep the reader reading. Is her storyline strong enough without all the graphic intervals? Yes, I believe it is. Perhaps a little too much on the YA side, but then maybe that is where Birch would be more comfortable.

The other thing I found slightly dodgy was the fascination with incestuous scenarios. I know they are wolves, and animals don't adhere to higher social standards when it comes to being related, but these are shifters. They are men and women with the possible genetic coding of a shifter. They live as humans, and the elitists abhor the shifters, so why would they entertain incestuous relationships? Surely even by their standards it is going to be seen as legally and morally wrong?

I think when Burch finds a little more of her own voice to make this series as strong as it potentially could be.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.

Buy Shifter: City of Wolves by Avery Burch at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Blog Tour: The Ripper Gene by Michael Ransom

Today is my turn on the Blog Tour for The Ripper Gene by Michael Ransom. I am thrilled to be able to give away a hardcover copy of The Ripper Gene to one of you lucky readers! All courtesy of Forge Books/MacMillan and Michael Ransom.

To enter the giveaway just do one of the following (or all of them if you want), Retweet the giveaway tweet on Twitter or send me a DM, comment on this post or for the readers, who value a little anonymity just send me a quick email to The winner will be revealed on Friday the 30th of October!

Now let's get down to the nitty-gritty of The Ripper Gene

About the Author:
Michael Ransom is a molecular pharmacologist and a recognized expert in the fields of toxicogenomics and pharmacogenetics.

He is widely published in scientific journals and has edited multiple textbooks in biomedical research.

He is currently a pharmaceutical executive and an adjunct professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Raised in rural Mississippi, he now makes his home in northern New Jersey. The Ripper Gene is his first novel.

Follow Michael Ransom on Facebook, Twitter @MRansomBooks, Goodreads and at

About The Ripper Gene:
A neuroscientist-turned-FBI-profiler discovers a gene that produces psychopaths in this thrilling debut novel.

Dr. Lucas Madden is a neuroscientist-turned-FBI profiler who first gained global recognition for cloning the ripper gene and showing its dysfunction in the brains of psychopaths. Later, as an FBI profiler, Madden achieved further notoriety by sequencing the DNA of the world’s most notorious serial killers and proposing a controversial “damnation algorithm” that could predict serial killer behavior using DNA alone.

Now, a new murderer—the Snow White Killer—is terrorizing women in the Mississippi Delta. When Mara Bliss, Madden’s former fiancée, is kidnapped, he must track down a killer who is always two steps ahead of him. Only by entering the killer’s mind will Madden ultimately understand the twisted and terrifying rationale behind the murders—and have a chance at ending the psychopath’s reign of terror.


The Ripper Gene has quite a fascinating premise, perhaps not really as far-fetched as it may seem. We live in an era of technology and amazing advancements in medicine and genetics. Now in the 21st century parents can dictate the gender of their child, filter out hereditary diseases or extra chromosomes. Designer babies in a world of commercialism.

So, let's say scientists made it possible, in the near future, to not only discover whether someone has the so-called warrior gene, but also find out if they are a psychopath or sociopath. Then taking it one step further being able to discover the genetic footprint of their possible heinous crimes,  and how they will perpetrate them.

The ability to recognize and perhaps even track specific individuals, who are predetermined to commit horrific crimes. Not quite a simple as that is it? First of all there is simply no way to determine whether they will actually kill or which external factors they will be influenced by. Would you want to know if you have a gene like that or whether one of your loved ones could possibly be a serial killer in the making?

Even with all of the information on the Ripper Gene, Dr Lucas Madden still can't manage to keep up with a vicious serial killer. Always one step and one body ahead of the police, the murderous monster is playing cat and mouse games with Lucas.

When events take a personal turn Lucas finds himself in the middle of a dangerous triangle of lies, death and false memories. He suddenly comprehends that although he thinks he is in control of the situation and his analysis of the Ripper Gene in the killer, he is actually just a pawn in a violent killing spree.

The Ripper Gene is an intriguing blend of science, crime and psychological thriller. It grips you and draws you in from the first few pages. Ransom knows how to combine the science and fictional elements without losing the attention of the reader, For a debut novel it is a very strong start.

The Ripper Gene [Forge Books/MacMillan] is available on Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and in brick-and-mortar bookstores across North America.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

28th October 2015: Blog-Tour: The Ripper Gene by Michael Ransom

On the 28th of October I will be looking forward to welcoming Michael Ransom and his book The Ripper Gene to the blog, as part of the ongoing blog-tour for his intriguing book.
Featuring my review and hardcover giveaway of the The Ripper Gene!

About the book:

A neuroscientist-turned-FBI-profiler discovers a gene that produces psychopaths in this thrilling debut novel.

Dr. Lucas Madden is a neuroscientist-turned-FBI profiler who first gained global recognition for cloning the ripper gene and showing its dysfunction in the brains of psychopaths. Later, as an FBI profiler, Madden achieved further notoriety by sequencing the DNA of the world’s most notorious serial killers and proposing a controversial “damnation algorithm” that could predict serial killer behavior using DNA alone.

Now, a new murderer—the Snow White Killer—is terrorizing women in the Mississippi Delta. When Mara Bliss, Madden’s former fiancée, is kidnapped, he must track down a killer who is always two steps ahead of him. Only by entering the killer’s mind will Madden ultimately understand the twisted and terrifying rationale behind the murders—and have a chance at ending the psychopath’s reign of terror.

I hope you will pop by to find out all about The Ripper Gene.

Monday 26 October 2015

Today: Blog-Tour 'Christmas Ever After' by Sarah Morgan

Today it is my pleasure to welcome Sarah Morgan and her new book Christmas Ever After to the blog. It is only a few weeks until Christmas, and Morgan is spreading a little bit of joy, love and Xmas spirit with the third part of the Puffin Island trilogy. to get us in the mood.

Sarah Morgan writes warm contemporary romantic fiction with her trademark humour which has gained her fans across the globe. Described as ‘full of sparkle’ by Lovereading, she has been nominated three years in succession for the prestigious RITA© Award from the Romance Writers of America and won the award twice; in 2012 and 2013.

Sarah lives near London with her husband and children, and when she isn’t reading or writing she loves being outdoors, preferably on vacation so she can forget the house needs tidying.
Visit Sarah online at, on Facebook at and on Twitter @SarahMorgan_


This is the third part in the Puffin Island trilogy. First time in Forever introduces us to Emily and Ryan, Some Kind of Wonderful is about Zach and Brittany, and Christmas Ever After features Skylar and Alec.

Sarah Morgan is a literary wizard when it comes to creating romance. Reading one of her books is often like eating a deliciously frosted cupcake with sprinkles on top. She will make your heart sob, fuel your ire and then make you feel all fluffy and warm inside.

An excellent choice if you are looking for a sometimes complicated, but ultimately happy read. Not everyone wants to finish a last page and feel distraught. Some readers just want a chance to relax and feel like a unicorn has marched in with a years supply of cotton candy and marshmallows.

When you read a Morgan you need to make some room for the unicorn happy, the feeling that everything is right in the world at this moment in time, and the feeling of being content. You disappear inside the pages of a book, and for a few hours you are transported into another world.

In Christmas Ever After the two people from the Puffin Island group, who were voted most likely to never get along with each other, end up getting to know more about each other than they ever wanted to know.

Skylar and Alec come from completely different families. Skylar is used to doing whatever pleases her parents and being subjected to their disappointment when she doesn't. In the midst of a family full of status seeking power-hungry individuals, Skylar is a creative free spirit with a mind of her own. She doesn't quite fit. They see Christmas as business opportunity, as a great time to make business and social connections.

Alec comes from an open fun-loving family, who embrace each person as an individual and try to support their choices in life. Christmas is a time of loving and giving to them. They are warm-hearted, funny and they clearly love Alec very much.

When Skylar ends up in a spot of trouble she discovers another side to Alec, an unexpected soft and understanding side. She isn't just completely thrown by this, Skylar also finds it oddly attractive. The two of them find themselves in a strange predicament of mutual irritation and attraction. This whirlwind of emotions comes to a head on the infamous Puffin Island.

If this your first Sarah Morgan then I also recommend her Snow Crystal series.

Buy Christmas Ever After at or Goodreads for any other retailer

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)First Time in ForeverMaybe This ChristmasSuddenly Last Summer or The Notting Hill Diaries, all by Sarah Morgan.

Follow @SarahMorgan_@HQStories and @HarperCollinsUK

Thursday 22 October 2015

Blog-Tour: Christmas Ever After by Sarah Morgan 22nd - 30th October

I know it's not quite Christmas yet, but to get you all warm and tingly, let's end breezy October with the Blog-Tour for Christmas Ever After by Sarah Morgan. It is the third part of the #PuffinIsland trilogy.

I will be talking about Christmas Ever After right here on the 26th of October and I hope you will join me for my review.

So you can follow the Blog-Tour with a little more ease, and read what my fellow bloggers have to say about the new #PuffinIsland release Christmas Ever After by Sarah Morgan, I have included the links to their blogs.
22nd of October
23rd of October
24th of October
25th of October
26th of October
27th of October
28th of October
29thof October
Friday 30th of October

Hope to see you here on the 26th!

Sunday 18 October 2015

Carrying Albert Home

Carrying Albert Home is essentially a love story, just not a conventional one. It is about a woman discovering her true love and a man understanding that to love a woman often means caring for something she holds close to her heart.

In Hickam's case it is a nostalgic journey of memories and stories about and with his parents at the centre of it all.

For Elsie, Albert is the one thing that ties her to the man in her past. The man she believes she truly loves. It takes a long journey with an alligator, oh and the rooster, for her to discover the truth.

The people you leave behind in the past have been left there for a reason. Not only that, the grass always tends to be the same shade of green on the other side. Such a pity greener grass seekers don't seem to understand that.

It is a light-hearted tale, a blend of fact, fiction and memories. For me it lacked a certain finesse.

The author's notes at the end were quite fascinating. Even now he would love to hold any kind tangible evidence of some of the stories. Unfortunately he finds himself in the same position as most of us.

Some parts of our parents lives will always remain a mystery to us. Tales grow taller with the years and more dramatic by the minute. Little yarns spun to entertain us as children become the factual stories of the future.

In this case however I am pretty sure there was an Albert. and it wouldn't surprise me at all if he managed to live to a grand old age after being carried home.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Monday 12 October 2015

Time to Die by Caroline Mitchell

Jennifer Knight is a policewoman with special abilities. The kind of ability that is a little out of the norm. She has a gift, the gift of foresight.

The images come to her via nightmares and sometimes even day-mares. She uses her gift on the job with her similarly gifted colleagues.

The team is called in to deal with an odd suicide. There seems to be some kind of connection to a strange Tarot reader. Little do they know that this odd man is a very dangerous individual. Dark visions and magic mixed with an almost obsessive need to kill.

It was interesting to see a main character with enough baggage to cause OCD. Her need to control leads all the way back to being helpless as a child. The reason for that helplessness turns up again after many years, which angers Jennifer and makes her more anxious than usual.

Perhaps she can deal with her OCD when she finally lets go of all her secrets, and there are quite a few. Even her sister is unaware of just how many secrets Jennifer is keeping to herself.

I liked the concept, although I do think Mitchell needs to give the special police squad a little more attention. Venture out a wee bit more with the other member instead of just focusing solely on Jennifer the entire time. You can give a main character enough space in a story without eclipsing everything else.

Overall this crime with a shot of supernatural has a lot of potential, it just needs a little more polish and structure.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine by Alex Brunkhorst

Sometimes I come upon certain authors and I just know they have an exceptional talent. Brunkhorst is one of those authors, she has a certain je ne sais quoi.

I was really surprised when I read the word internet about half a chapter in, I was certain the scene was set somewhere between 1920 and 1950. The golden age of movies and film stars. It has a specific feel to it. Very Gatsby meets Hollywood.

Thomas finds his destiny inexplicably linked to and determined by Lily. She becomes not only a source, but also the door into a completely new world for Thomas. The world of the rich, the famous and the powerful. The people who pull the strings in town.

It is never made quite clear in the book, whether Lily has a hidden agenda. Did she know what would happen? Was it her wish to see the golden bird freed from her gilded cage? Is Thomas merely the patsy or can Lily see something in him that is special enough to make her want to support him.

Thomas finds this new world fascinating, despite being on the boundary of it, and he craves more of it and time with his new acquaintances. This new world leads him to Matilda.

Matilda is an enigma, a young girl trapped in a time warp. She is kept hidden from the world like Rapunzel in a tower awaiting her prince. When he meets Matilda, Thomas forgets about his new connections and everything pales in comparison. No threat of failure, destruction or fall from grace can keep him away from the mysterious and innocent young woman. He is beguiled to the point of not being able to think straight.

What happens next is the inevitability of life, of reality and of fairy-tales stripped of their mysticism.

Brunkhorst is definitely an author to watch. I think it is safe to say this won't be the last we hear from her. She is an exquisite writer with the very rare talent of surrounding a story with an aura of a specific era. So much so that it never really leaves you as a reader, this feeling of being inside a story within a story. Watching and listening to something unfold in one era whilst being convinced it is taking place in another.

Thank you to MIRA UK and Harlequin UK for my copy of The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine.
Buy on Amazon UK or Goodreads for any other retailer.