Monday 19 December 2016

The Bone Collection by Kathy Reichs

One of things I enjoy most about stories written by Reichs is the way she combines fiction with fact. I feel as if I always come away knowing just a little bit more, especially with the short stories. Reichs often uses the shorter format to highlight, educate and inform her readers.

The Bone Collection is, as the title implies, a collection of four short stories. It includes Bones in her Pocket (15.5), The Swamp Bones (16.5), Bones on Ice (17.5) and First Bones (0.5). The numbers represent the reading order in the Temperance Brennan series.

I had read all but First Bones before, however I read the stories again, because they are always fascinating.

First Bones is actually a prequel to the very first Brennan story. It explains how she discovers her true calling and real passion. Crime calls her name softly and entices her towards the all consuming darkness of mysteries and murder.

Bones in her Pocket brings mystery to what should be a simple identification. Why are the remains of a young woman found with the skeletal remains of a small animal. This amateur killer has made the kind of mistakes an experienced killer wouldn't have made.

The Swamp Bones is an excellent example of how Reichs incorporates important environmental issues into her stories, both short and full-length ones. Burmese Pythons play a pivotal part in this novella.

Bones on Ice is about the body of a young woman who died during a climb up Mount Everest. Reichs discovers that all is not what it seems with this case. She also gives readers an insight into just how dangerous the climb is and how many people have died during said climb. Their bodies lie unclaimed as a testament to how lethal Mount Everest can be.

Not everyone can turn a novella into a tiny novel or give readers the feeling that they have just read the equivalent of one on a smaller scale. It is something Reichs does very well.

Buy The Bone Collection at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read The Swamp Bones, Bones Never Lie or Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs.

Read Exposure by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs.

Read Two Nights by Kathy Reichs.

Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolás Obregón

Obregón manages to capture a specific noirish Japanese quality, which is infused with his very own style.

Blue Light Yokohama is an intricately woven web of crime, lies, corruption and emotions. It is an exceptional read.

One of the aspects I really found intriguing was the inspiration for the book. Taking a forgotten cold case and building an entire story around it with the sole purpose of giving the victims closure or some sort of ending to the horrendous murder of an entire family.

Iwata is driven mainly by his denial and fight or flight response. Trying not to dwell on his miserable childhood and his even more tragic adult life, makes him even more determined to solve the crimes that have landed n his lap.

His coping mechanisms are barely keeping him above water. The guilt he feels about his wife and child are overshadowed by the anger he feels towards his wife. I'm glad Obregón didn't try and make it a cotton candy issue. The emotions Iwata feels are honest and raw. He has a right to be angry and a right not to forgive her, despite perhaps being the catalyst for her actions.

Simultaneously the reader gets an insight into his childhood and quite a few unresolved issues, which play a part in the development of his psychological well-being. His personal life flows in and out of the crime story to the point where both storylines are seamless and become one and the same. Iwata and his strong enigmatic personality dominates the other characters. His refusal to give up and walk away is a reflection of his past experiences. No matter how hard it gets there is always a way forward.

It's interesting that his character actually manages to endear himself to others. Instead of turning their back on the troublemaker and lost cause, a lot of his encounters become friends and confidantes.

Although Iwata is a fascinating main character I wouldn't be doing the story any justice if I gave him all the dues. The plot is cleverly woven from the past into the future with plenty of red herrings and political intrigue.

Nicolás Obregón is definitely an author to watch, and I can't wait to read the sequel to Blue Light Yokohama.

Buy Blue Light Yokohama at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Tuesday 13 December 2016

Nothing went as planned, but hey I'm back!

I just thought I would explain my online absence over the last 10 days...

I had to have surgery and it didn't exactly go the way I expected it to.

Unfortunately I think I am superwoman sometimes and was convinced that major surgery would be a minor setback.

In my head I had it all planned out. In one day, have surgery and out the next day, which is quite the norm in the UK even for major surgery. In theory it sounded great.

In reality I had to beg, wiggle and worm my way out of a longer stay due to the fact I hadn't ticked all the medical boxes for my release. Then I completely underestimated the pain, the fact the pain meds didn't work and how much time I would spend in a semi-unconscious mode.

Again, my great plan also said I would be catching up with all my reading and reviews. None of that happened either. 'Sigh' I think I managed a grand total of one and half books over a 10 day period, as opposed to the at least one a day I usually read.

My brain has been a bit like scrambled eggs on toast without a slice of bread in sight. So much for best laid plans eh?

Anyhoo, I'm back and have a pile of reading and reviews to catch up with!

Friday 2 December 2016

The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent

Aside from being a Sunday Times top ten bestseller The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent has also been picked as a Richard and Judy Book Club Autumn Pick. So let's give a little bit of well-deserved bookworm love to both Kent and the book.

About the author
Christobel Kent was born in London in 1962 and now lives in Cambridge with her husband and four children; in between she lived in Florence.  She worked in publishing for several years, most recently as Publicity Director at Andre Deutsch. Her debut novel A Party in San Niccolo, was published in 2003.

About the book
Fran Hall and her husband Nathan have moved with their two children to a farmhouse on the edge of the Fens - a chance to get away from London and have a fresh start.

But when Fran wakes one night to find Nathan gone, she makes a devastating discovery. As questions about her husband and her relationships start to mount, Fran's life begins to spiral out of control.
What is she hiding from the police about her marriage, and does she really know the man she shared her bed with?

It is certainly planned out meticulously. Right to the very end, I certainly cannot fault Kent for that, and aside from a few blips it is a good read. Saying that, the beginning is a wee bit confusing and the random mention of the secret society was superfluous.

Fran lives a seemingly happy rural life with her two children and her somewhat distant husband. Everything appears to be perfectly normal until one evening she awakes to find her husband dead. The police find some bizarre inconsistencies in her statement, which places her firmly on their radar.

Kent has managed to weave quite a few hot topics in here, in particular one that has been in the media for the last few years. Without giving away part of the plot, all I will say is that the police and other investigative services charged with solving crime and protecting the public, often overstep the boundaries of what is deemed necessary. Leaving innocent victims and unknown emotional casualties in their wake.

Another element of the story is the blatant misogyny, sexism and sexual harassment in the police force. Regardless of whether it happens to fellow police officers or to suspects and/or victims. Ali is the Family Liaison Officer and finds herself harassed, insulted and black-balled by the men she works with. It isn't anything personal, because they do it to every skirt on the force. If you say anything you find yourself marked as an informant, and if you keep quiet the abuse gets worse.

This misogyny is also in play in the investigation into Nathan's death. It's as if the police refuse to see any other person as a suspect other than Fran. Left with no other option she decides she wants to know the whole truth. No matter how dirty or terrifying.

It is a slow-burner with quite a few twists and turns, and Kent manages to keep it interesting until the end.

Buy The Loving Husband at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

You can win a signed copy of The Loving Husband by retweeting this tweet or commenting below. The winner will be contacted after the 8th of December. Good Luck!

Wednesday 30 November 2016

Blog-Tour: Winter Halo by Keri Arthur

Today is my turn on the Blog-Tour for Winter Halo by Keri Arthur. It is the second book in the Outcast series. (The first is City of Light). Enjoy the fantastic Q&A with Keri Arthur and my review!
About the author
Keri Arthur is the New York Times bestselling author of the Outcast series, including City of Light, as well as the Souls of Fire, Dark Angels, and Riley Jenson Guardian series. She has written more than thirty books and has been nominated in the Best Contemporary Paranormal category of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Awards and has won a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for urban fantasy.

About the book
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Souls of Fire novels comes the second in the futuristic fantasy series that will make you want to keep the lights on... When the bombs that stopped the species war tore holes in the veil between worlds, they allowed entry to the Others. Now, a hundred years later, humans and shifters alike live in artificially lit cities designed to keep the darkness at bay.... The humanoid supersoldiers known as the déchet were almost eradicated by the war. Ever since, Tiger has tried to live her life in peace in hiding. But in the wake of her discovery that Central City’s children are being kidnapped and experimented on, Tiger’s conscience won’t let her look the other way. The key to saving them lies within the walls of a pharmaceutical company called Winter Halo. But as she learns more about the facility, Tiger’s mission is derailed by a complication: Winter Halo’s female security guards are being systematically attacked by an unknown force.  Now Tiger must summon all her gifts to stop those responsible for both atrocities—no matter the cost to herself.

Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a set of questions I call 'Breaking the Ice.' (readers love to get to know all about their favourite authors)
The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms want to know)
Anne Gracie’s The Summer Bride. I waited so long for Daisy’s story, and I loved it!

The last movie you watched, which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, name it)
I recently watched Spectre on Blu-ray, and was ever so glad I missed it at the movies! I couldn’t believe how bland/blah it was. I’m a huge James Bond fan, but in this, Daniel Craig wasn’t even trying.

Are you more of a Game of Thrones or Outlander, a movie night or sitcom kind of  gal? (Combinations are possible)
I haven’t watched either Game of Thrones or Outlander, and have no intentions of ever watching the former. I do, however, love Westworld. I’m also a huge lifestyle program fan (mostly British--Great British Bake-off, Escape to the Country, Location Location, etc). I also love the Aussie versions of those shows.

Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet?
I’d love to have met Dick Francis, because he is one of my all time favourite authors. And for one out of left field, I would love to have met John Constable, and have him teach me how to paint just like him.

Something you treat yourself to, now and again? (Cream éclairs, doughnuts and chocolate totally count)
Shoes. Totally shoes. I have something of a fetish for them  :D

All of the above questions are actually a pretty elaborate pysch evaluation disguised as random questions. Have no fear here come the real ones. Let’s talk about Winter Halo.

I really enjoyed the mixture of genres in Winter Halo, a dystopian tale with sci-fi elements and a portion of urban fantasy. Was mixing the genres something you set out to do or did the ideas evolve as you were writing?
I’ve never been a planner when it comes to my writing. I usually set out with a vague idea and the story and setting develop from there. That’s what I love about writing--the discovery of where it’s going!

Was it your intention to get both the readers and even the characters to question the humanity of the genetically modified dechets or to be more specific questioning Tiger's humanity?
That developed as the story developed. In truth, what does make us human? Is it as simple as the nature of our birth? Is it higher brain capacity, the ability to think and feel? Or is it something more indefinable? Why are we considered human, and yet the great apes, who share something like 98% of our DNA, are not? I’m not sure The Outcast Series answers these questions, but I’d like to think it at least gets those who read it thinking about things like acceptance and tolerance. We really need a lot more people thinking about those in the current clime.

Staying with that line of questioning, Tiger was created with a specific purpose in mind, and although she acts as programmed she is also capable of acting independently. Is her initial programming the reason why she was engineered the reason some characters don't trust her or is it because she doesn't conform to their preconceived ideas of the dechet?
Most humans and shifters only ever had contact with the soldier dechets. Very few people outside the Humanoid Development Program ever knew about the existence of dechets such as Tiger, who was developed as a lure--a seductress designed to infiltrate shifter encampments and steal battle information. The other characters views are tainted by their experiences with the soldiers; they’re having to battle ingrained beliefs about what dechets are with the reality Tiger presents to them.

Tiger carries around an extreme amount of guilt about the ghosts (children). She seems to blame herself for their deaths. Is that why she is willing to go the extra mile to try and save the living children?
Yes. She’d been assigned as the children’s guardian while waiting reassignment, and she believes she failed in that duty, even though she almost died trying to save them. It’s that guilt that drives her to save Penny and Jonas, and keeps her involved in not only the quest to find the rest of the missing children, but to stop those who want to give the vampires and wraiths light immunity.

Tiger and her relationship to sex is quite an intriguing aspect of the story. Tiger uses sex to obtain information and achieve her goals. Her relationship with it is very calculated. Will we see her experience sex in a different way when and if she finally does have intercourse because she wants to and not because she has to?
I really can’t answer this question, because it would step into spoiler territory!

Will we be seeing/reading more about Tiger? If the answer is yes (hopefully) will it be soon (no pressure *laugh*)?
I’ve planned the Outcast Series as three books, so yes, there will be more of Tiger after Winter Halo. The third book is tentatively called The Black Tide, but I’m not sure when it’ll be out yet. Hopefully by the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018.

Thank you for answering all of my questions, especially the odd ones!
You’re welcome--and the odd ones were fun!

Despite being a successful award winning author I don't believe Keri Arthur really gets the recognition or attention she deserves for her writing. Regardless of the genre, sub-genre or the topic, Arthur always gives her readers a run for their money.

Winter Halo, which is the second book in the Outcast series, is a perfect example of her ability to flow seamlessly from one genre to the other within the same story. It's a dystopian extravaganza with sci-fi elements and an urban fantasy flair.

It is set in a world of genetically enhanced soldiers, shifters, ghosts, vampires and perhaps a few humans. Tiger is determined to save a small group of children, who have been kidnapped with the intent of committing unimaginable atrocities.

Watch this space for the Tiger and Jonas saga, because it is definitely coming. The sexual tension between the two of them is like a volcano set to erupt. No pun intended. Okay that's a lie it's totally intended. Jonas can't help but be drawn to the feisty dechet, perhaps because she is the complete opposite of what he thinks she should be like.

Instead of hard cold reasoning there is a strong compassionate vein, and her ability to communicate with ghosts makes her seem more humane instead of like the genetically enhanced soldier she actually is.

One of the more fascinating aspects of Tiger is the way she compartmentalizes her actions, emotions and choices. Her sexual activities are sorted into boxes labelled 'a means to an end.' All business all the time. Maybe it is time she did it for herself and for the pleasure instead.

I am looking forward to the third part in this series, especially a possible Tiger and Jonas relationship. Winter Halo is an action driven read with creative ideas, intricate world-building and plenty of potential for further development.

It was, as always with a Keri Arthur book, a read I would recommend.

Buy Winter Halo at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Readers from the US and Canada ONLY also have the fantastic opportunity to take part in a giveaway for City of Light and Winter Halo by Keri Arthur by retweeting the giveaway on Twitter. Or just comment below. (Winner will be notified at the end of the tour) Good Luck!

Tuesday 29 November 2016

Clover Moon by Jacqueline Wilson

I don't really have the time to read many children's books anymore, however I  will always gladly make an exception for Wilson.

I think any author who can inspire children to pick up a book and read is worth their weight in gold. Jacqueline Wilson was a favourite of one of my daughters when she was younger. She is a voracious reader and she would literally consume the Wilson books.

Clover looks for consolation with the local odd guy. The doll-maker understands they way Clover often needs a place to hide away from the real world. He also sees her natural talent for the finer artistic detail when she helps to paint the dolls.

Clover doesn't get on with her stepmother and is often the recipient of brutal beatings courtesy of the woman who is supposed to be a mother to her. She often takes the brunt and the blame of things her siblings have done, because as the eldest she feels she has to protect them. Her life is difficult at the best of times, but a personal tragedy rocks her world and changes everything for Clover. She makes a decision which will have repercussions for both herself and the rest of her family.

Wilson is popular because she writes characters and situations her young readers can relate to. Fans of Wilson will be happy to hear that Hetty puts in an appearance, albeit a short one. Clover Moon gives us a glimpse of the harsh reality the little girl lives in and her attempt to change her destiny.
Buy Clover Moon at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Monday 28 November 2016

Starting today! Blog-Tour for Winter Halo by Keri Arthur

I am super excited to be part of the Blog-Tour for Winter Halo by Keri Arthur. It is the second book in the Outcast series. On the 30th I will be featuring a fantastic Q&A by Keri Arthur and my review of Winter Halo.

Hope to see you here on the 30th of November for my review of Winter Halo!

Buy Winter Halo at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Thursday 24 November 2016

Dear Charlie by N.D. Gomes

There are plenty of fictional approaches to school shootings and massacres, and quite a few of them are really good.What makes Dear Charlie an interesting read is the fact it is written from a different perspective. Instead of the voice of the victims or the survivors, it's the voice of the killer's family.

In general they tend to be absolutely slated and portrayed in an overwhelmingly negative light by the media, the world and the people around them. In the majority of cases they are just as shocked by the actions of their children, siblings, grandchildren or family members, as every other person. Tragically they are also often the first victims in these kind of situations.

Sam has gone from being the younger brother of the artistic and supposedly happy Charlie, to the brother of a killer. His mother and father are now the parents of a killer. People look to them for answers and they also blame all three of them.

Pair those emotions, projected on them by others, with their own feelings of guilt, inadequacy and shame, and it's no wonder they all begin to fall apart. To top it all off both Sam and his mother have to contend with the reactions of the people they interact with on a daily basis. Sam suffers terribly at the hands of his cruel peers.

In a way you can almost see how someone could be pushed to breaking point, although it does take a specific combination of events, triggers, characteristics and perhaps even mental health issues for a mass-killer to emerge and act upon their dark fantasies.

I enjoyed the way Gomes shows the disintegration and isolation of the family unit, the difficulty Sam experiences and his search for answers, all in equal measure. The reader experiences the confusion and the constant question of why, and of course the realisation that sometimes you don't get the answers you need or want.

It was almost a perfect read except for a slight deviation into an en vogue YA narrative towards the end. Up to that point Gomes keeps it brutally realistic and void of any superfluous information, scenes and emotions. It is a really good read.

Buy Dear Charlie at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Sunday 20 November 2016

You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris

I remember reading Antoine's Facebook status and thinking how right he was, and how poignant his words were in the aftermath of the Paris attacks on the 13th of November 2015.

More so than those of any politician, religious leader, bystander or any other person personally affected by the atrocities.

I knew I would find it an emotional read. Antoine Leiris writes as he feels and experiences. His words and descriptions are focused solely on his son and himself.

In the aftermath, and during such attacks, the focus tends to be on the who, the why and the how. How many are dead? How exactly did they die? Who took their lives and why? Leiris doesn't do that at all. Instead we get the reality of loved ones learning to deal with the absence the death has created. The normality of having to cook, go to sleep, return to work and of having to live without the person they loved.
Antoine & Melvil

The read was accompanied by tears, which wasn't a surprise, as I said I knew it would be an emotional read. I was surprised by what made me cry though. It wasn't when Antoine was finally reunited with his wife after two days or the funeral. It was the baby food pots.

The compassion of the parents in the nursery school, and the way he accepts their need to help. Their need supersedes his own and that of his child.

It's a strange thing grief, especially in the case of mass tragedy. It often becomes about the bystanders and those on the periphery, as opposed to those who are actually involved in the incidents. It's almost as if you and I need to feel and work through the emotional distress,because the stark reality of the event is so frightening. Subconsciously we are glad it wasn't us, but simultaneously we feel ashamed and guilty for those thoughts. The guilt is appeased via compassionate words, gestures and actions.

Hence the cards, letters, the baby pots, food and messages he receives. Antoine describes this process really well without actually coming out and saying it. Even within these pages he is still careful of taking away from others. He isn't necessarily braver than anyone else, he perhaps just has better insight into what everyone else needs in this awful situation. Hopefully he can learn to put his own needs and those of Melvil first.

The book is a lovely testament to his wife Hélène, his son Melvil and himself. A fresh breath of humanity embedded in a whirlwind of grief and loss. A short yet very poignant read.

Hélène & Melvil

Buy You Will Not Have My Hate at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Tuesday 15 November 2016

All Fall Down by Tom Bale

Rob isn't exactly the type of character who elicits sympathy or empathy. He seems to have too many secrets and dodgy deals going on in the background.

A seemingly random act of violence throws the family into a quagmire of danger, and Rob into a tailspin of panic and guilt. What does he know that he isn't telling anyone? Will his silence put his family into the kind of dangerous situation you can't emerge unscathed from?

What Bale does try to examine, is the question of nature vs nurture when it comes to the propensity to violence. Can trauma, fear or an extreme situation make someone cross boundaries other people wouldn't or is it simply a question of DNA? Does abuse and violence rewire our brains and teach us coping mechanisms or rather a lack of impulse control?

From a technical standpoint Bale delivers, however the read just didn't do it for me. I found it slightly disjointed and the characters didn't evoke any interest. Now that might just be his personal style, a slightly abstract looking inwards from the outside type of style. Personally I would have liked to have seen more emphasis on the girl, her actions and the why. More explanation of the why of the group and their agenda perhaps.

Bale has some interesting ideas, albeit it slightly disturbing ones, and he makes the reader question certain things. He insists that we look beyond the facade of normality and our presumptions.

Buy All Fall Down at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

This review is based on the sneak peek of The Girl Before.

Well I have to hand it to Delaney, the story is somewhere between intriguing, disturbing and 'don't go into the basement there is creepy music playing in the background' kind of gut instinct evoking.

It's interesting to watch both Jane and Emma decide to shelve all their gut reactions and the warning signs, just because the house is a perfect example of 21st century futuristic design.

Personally it would be a no no for me. The intrusive questionnaire is just way too revealing and the really odd rules are huge red flags. On top of that I don't think the mega minimalistic approach to living would be my cup of tea.

Imagine if right here and right now you had to make a list of the most important items to take with you, and you have to leave everything else behind. Then imagine living a life restricted by rules, such as no mess, clutter, accessories or random objects. The deal would have been null and void as soon as I read the 'no books' rule. Now that is just cruel.

It is suitably eerie and Delaney reels the reader in with the unusual premise and the promise of even stranger things to come. I can't wait to read what happens next.

Pre-order/Buy The Girl Before at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Sunday 13 November 2016

The Devil's Work by Mark Edwards

If there is anything to take away from this story then it is definitely to trust your gut instinct. If it walks and talks like a duck then chances are it probably is a duck. Or in this case perhaps just a manipulative and ambitious colleague.

Sophie should have left the past where it was, despite the fabulous career prospects. Sometimes you should just leave dirty little secrets hidden instead of handing someone a shovel to dig them up.

Make no mistake Sophie seems to have plenty of sordid little mistakes and secrets she would rather forget and keep to herself. Unfortunately not everyone feels the same way, and a twisted game of cat and mouse ensues.

I must admit I was more than a little annoyed during the scene with Sophie's child. The way everyone treated her like some escaped lunatic. Her reaction wasn't odd considering the circumstances.

But then that tends to be Sophie's problem overall, the way people are very eager to accept failure on her part and assume the worst. It takes her a while to start to question everything and also herself.

Edwards does a really good job of making the reader question the whole scenario and even the main character. Red herrings galore and buried secrets are his thing.

Buy The Devil's Work at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Saturday 12 November 2016

An Almond For a Parrot by Wray Delaney

I adored the way Delaney mixed an aura of Victorian era with a hint of modern. For me it definitely had shades of Fanny Hill and Moll Flanders, and to be fair the author does give the books a nudge, wink and its dues.

How to give you an idea of what this book is like? Imagine the aura and setting of an old book mixed with themes of urban fantasy, magic, ghosts and necromancy with an 19th century setting.

The story starts with our main character sat in jail reflecting upon the past and the choices that have led to her facing the noose. The reader is then invited to follow Tully Truegood, as she is taught to control the passion within her.

She is taught the art of pleasure and how to pleasure others, which unfortunately also means heartbreak and disappointment. In her profession it can also mean violence and having to endure or watch violations and intimate betrayals.

Subtly interwoven into the story is a fascinating element of necromancy and ghostly magic. Tully can see the sins of the past, the horrors that haunt us and the mistakes everyone keeps very well hidden. It's a talent and also a curse.

Delaney also writes with the eloquence of a writer of the 19th century. Her writing goes down like hot chocolate on a cold day. It's simply a pleasure to read.

Hopefully this was the first of many for Delaney. I know I will be both recommending this book and looking forward to the next.

Buy An Almond For a Parrot at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Saturday 5 November 2016

The Spy by Paulo Coelho

I think this is definitely a story worth telling. Mata Hari has been given quite a bad rap. Convicted and executed based on lies and circumstantial evidence.

You know what they say, if you repeat something often enough eventually it becomes the truth. The myth of Mata Hari is ten times bigger than the actual boring and yet also sordid truth.

The truth is she became a pawn in a political game during WW1. She was the means to an end to make sure a certain high profile individual person could remain relevant and in a position of power. The only positive aspect of this tale of betrayal is that he got his dues soon after her death.

Coelho writes from her perspective and alsp from that of her lawyer. Their voices make the reader feel as if they are listening to them tell their story in a personal one-on-one setting.

What emerges is the tragedy of a young girl who was abused at an early age and who fled into the arms of an abusive husband. Then in the strict confines of a colonial lifestyle she lives through the murder of her child and subsequently the loss of her surviving child via a custody battle.

It really is no wonder she ends up embarking on a path of self-destructive behaviour. She equates attention and sex with love, because she has never experienced anything else. Reinventing her whole persona was a way of escaping the mundane, the pain and the stark reality of her life.

Coelho readily admits to changing the chronological order of quite a few events to suit the narrative. Some of those events, for instance the birth order of her children, made little sense but hey ho artistic license and all that.

Again, it's time the great myth of the seductress and manipulative spy was dispelled. Margaretha Geertruida Zelle (Mata Hari) or Griet was a victim of circumstance and of the men who chose to use her as an object and a political tool.

After reading this I feel pity for her and also angered by the way the myth is still alive and well after all these years, but then perhaps Mata Hari would have preferred the mythical image. Margaretha perhaps not so much. She would probably have chosen not to be shot at dawn by a firing squad.

Buy The Spy at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Mata Hari

Friday 4 November 2016

Curse on the Land by Faith Hunter

I've read and enjoyed Hunter's Jane Yellowrock series, and liked her ideas and writing style.

In the Soulwood series Hunter goes above and beyond when it comes to the intricate world-building and plot-weaving. It is anything other than a light and fluffy urban fantasy.

As a main character Nell is quite unusual. Growing up in a polygamist cult church and married off as a young girl to one of the elders, I'd say that is a very unusual background indeed.

Even more fascinating is the fact Nell and some of her siblings aren't human and have no idea what they are. She is inexplicably drawn to the land, as is the land to her. Her blood seems to feed the soil that surrounds her.

The team tasked with solving supernatural events has accepted Nell into the inner sanctum, but she remains wary and uncertain of the their individual motives. Saying that, there are members of the team who have developed more than a passing interest in Nell, something she is unprepared for and yet enjoys it at the same time.

It is a fast-paced story with an intriguing premise and plenty of opportunity for further development. I enjoyed the sheer depth of this read and will be following the series with great interest.

Buy Curse on the Land at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Saturday 29 October 2016

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

It's smart, complex and quite frankly a wee bit terrifying. Harari doesn't pull any punches when it comes to saying it like it is. It certainly isn't the kind of book you read and just delegate to the back rows of read books. It's the kind of read you digest and ponder over.

One of the issues he discusses or argues s that humans have tried their hand at everything, and the only thing that could possibly stroke their egos more is extending the length of their power. Immortality or as close as we can come to it. It just proves how egotistical and self-enamoured humans are.

Harari wants the reader to put down their phones, step away from technology and perhaps reflect upon the questions, facts and suppositions he throws into the room. It is a very thought-provoking read,

It is quite hard to put the content into just a few words. There is just too much information to do that. I do however have to hand it to Harari for making all the information and hypothetical situations readable and understandable.

Buy Homo Deus at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Tell Me No Lies by Lisa Hall

This story is enough to make anyone paranoid and balance on the edge of insanity. Except you're not paranoid if someone is actually out to get you. Then again Steph's mind has tricked her into believing strange things before.

Does that seem like one contradiction after the other or as if the author might be trying to mess with the reader? Well, she certainly manages to keep you guessing.

In an insidious 'hand that rocks the cradle' way Steph's life slowly starts to unravel. Is it just her overactive imagination, possibly postpartum depression, a relapse into mental health issues of the past or a third party with evil intentions?

The only thing that didn't ring true for me was the way Steph was willing to trust complete strangers with her life and family within hours of meeting them, and treat old reliable friends like members of the Illuminati. That and the frustrating scenes with the one person who is trying to warn her. Then again I am a cynic and trust is often overrated.

I kind of liked the way Hall didn't give two monkeys about giving the readers the ending she thought they were most likely to expect or prefer. There is no perfectly wrapped gift box with a cute little ribbon on top.

Tell Me No Lies really is a dark raincloud of emotions with hardly any sunlight shimmering through the clouds. More or less a nightmare, so in that sense the author really has done her job.

Buy Tell Me No Lies at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Moon Chosen by P.C. Cast

The beginning is a little vague on specifics or rather too specific on the dystopian world building, but with no info to go on. It takes a while to be able to see through the maze of branches and groups of new world people, and comprehend the plot.

All I can say is, stick with it. A few chapters in it starts to make a lot more sense and becomes quite an interesting read.

Moon Chosen is set in a world after technology and long after the destruction of society as we know it now. The surviving humans have split into different groups with their own newly built structures and rules. Unfortunately they all view each other as mortal enemies. The Tree people hunt and enslave the Earth Walkers and the Skin Eaters aren't fussy they will kill and eat anyone.

Mari is a hybrid of two groups, a fact her mother keeps well hidden, because it also means she will be accepted by neither if they discover the truth.

The book is filled with the magic pulled from natural resources, such as the sun, the moon and the earth. The only thing left to rely on when all else has dwindled to to dust and ruin.

There are some tough scenes, which put the book towards the older end of YA for me. Gang rape puts it more in the sub-genre of NA, as far as I am concerned.

The epilogue seems to introduce a further story in the series with a character who just stumbles in towards the end. The emphasis appears to be on single characters and their animal counterparts, which is a shame. I do think the story Cast has built up in Moon Chosen is vast enough to be developed further without throwing in random mate selections whether they be human or not. More dystopian world and less urban fantasy methinks.

Buy Moon Chosen at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Monday 24 October 2016

Murder on the Serpentine by Anne Perry

I felt as if Perry has finally got some of her mojo back. There were a few books in between that were sub-par from a Perry standard. I am happy to say that this one reminded me a lot of the first Pitt books.

I have to say I do find it a little bit of a contradiction where Pitt ends up. Part of the pull was always his being an underdog and his constant conflict with the elitist attitudes of the upper echelon.

On top of that Pitt has become more ruthless and often crosses the line. Again quite unusual for the man who prides himself on being the conscience of the entire British nation. Sorry, but Pitt can sit a bit high on his moral horse sometimes.

What has remained the same is the way Charlotte hovers between upstairs and downstairs.Telling herself and everyone around her that being part of the upper echelon and the ton isn't what she secretly enjoys. You can be happy downstairs and still want to be part of upstairs.

I have to say Perry really does have the conversations, interactions and lifestyles of the ton down to a fine art. I would find it incredibly tiresome to watch every single word I say, just in case I offend someone. Having to wear the newest of new and abide by the strict rules of the hypocritical elite. Perry knows exactly what kind of fine nuances tend to cause ripples in society.

This is very much a return to the Pitt and Charlotte I enjoy.The Victorian Murder Mystery Perry is known for and excels at.

Buy Murder on the Serpentine at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Thursday 20 October 2016

Blog-Tour: The Cosy Christmas Teashop by Caroline Roberts

Today it is my pleasure to welcome Caroline Roberts and her book The Cosy Christmas Teashop to the blog. I hope you enjoy my review and the fantastic Q&A with Caroline, it gives a lot of insight into her book and the author herself.
About the Author
Caroline Roberts lives in the beautiful Northumberland countryside with her husband, and has two children. The sandy beaches, castles and rolling hills around her inspire her writing. She enjoys writing about relationships; stories of love, loss, friends and family - stories to make you laugh, smile and sometimes shed a tear or two.
A slice of cake, glass of bubbly, and a cup of tea, would make her day – preferably served with friends! She believes in striving for your dreams, which led her to a publishing deal with Harper Collins (yippee!) after many years of writing. The Cosy Christmas Teashop is her third novel.

If you’d like to find out more about Caroline, visit her on Twitter @_caroroberts, Facebook and her blog -she'd love to hear from you!

Follow @_caroroberts and @HarperImpulse and look out for #CosyTeashop on Twitter.
Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a set of questions I call 'Breaking the Ice.'

The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms want to know)
I’ve just finished The Jacobite’s Daughter by Lorna Windham. It’s a fabulous historical romance set in 18th Century Scotland, with battles, love stories, intrigue, and I loved the beautiful Highland setting. It is the debut novel of a close friend in the Romantic Novelists’ Association. We have supported each other along the way to publication, so it’s wonderful to see her novel now available.

The last movie you watched, which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, name it)? I haven’t seen a movie in a little while now. But one of my romantic favourites is The Notebook with Ryan Gosling. It’s such a beautiful love story, and I love how the story takes you from the beginning of their relationship right through to old age.

Are you more of a Game of Thrones or Outlander gal? (Combinations are possible)
Ooh, I have to admit I don’t really follow either, though I have seen the odd Game of Thrones episode when my son’s back home – it looks pretty dramatic. My favourite tv programmes at the moment are Poldark, and The Fall.

Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet?
I’d really like to meet Emily Bronte. I loved Wuthering Heights when I first read it as a teenager. It is so passionate, and a touch wild, especially with brooding Heathcliff and that rural moorland setting. I’d love to know what Emily was like as a person and to chat to her about what it was like writing as a woman back in the Victorian age.

Something you treat yourself to, now and again? (Cream éclairs totally count)
You can’t beat a slice of homemade cake – rich chocolate, carrot, Victoria sponge with cream and strawberries, lemon drizzle. I like a bit of variety. With a good cup of tea – that’s just bliss and a cosy, pick-me-up. It’s excellent fuel for writing!

All of the above questions are actually a pretty elaborate pysch evaluation disguised as random questions. Have no fear here come the real ones. Let’s talk about The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop.

Your Teashop books really are the perfect excuse to just curl up in a corner and spent a few cosy hours nose deep in a book. 

The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop takes place a while after The Cosy Tea Shop in the Castle. Ellie wants to take her life and family to the next level. Unfortunately it isn't plain sailing for Ellie and her husband.

Was it important to you to mix serious topics with the fun and loving scenario of Ellie's life?
Yes, as a writer I want to make readers smile and get lost in a fabulous new world, but I also want to write about the things that matter, that can affect us all, and show that life isn’t always plain sailing. And real love builds itself around that, it supports you. I think Ellie and Joe’s relationship has grown–up in this novel and it was great exploring their longer–term love; we see them having to cope with some difficult times. Watch out, you may need a hankie here and there, but there’s still lots of humour and sexiness too.

Is it your way of infusing the perfect happy life with a dash of reality?
Yes, I think we have to be realistic. My books are a little rom-angst. Life’s like that, happy times, sad times, times to laugh, times to cry, and love and friendship can see you through all that. It’s a journey; after the difficult times you really appreciate the happy times.

One of the aspects of the book I really enjoyed is the way all the employees are like a big patchwork family. Proving that we don't always have to be blood relatives to be a family. Is that the element you were aiming for?
Absolutely, I live a long way from my family, having moved from Cornwall (where my parents still are) hundreds of miles away to Northumberland many years ago. The sense of community and friendship here is wonderful. I think that would be particularly strong in a close-knit community like the castle estate.

I also have to ask whether you have a secret plan to make readers get the munchies whilst reading? I know I definitely had this strange urge to eat cake throughout the book. 
It wasn’t a secret plan – I just love food, and cakes and bakes are such a lovely treat, so that probably feeds through into my books!

Of course the last and probably the most important question has to be whether we will be reading more about Ellie and her scrumptious baked goods in the future?
The next book is a poignant and beautiful love story set on the stunning Bamburgh Beach in Northumberland with a whole new host of characters. But I am planning to write more “Cosy” style books in the future, so I’m sure we’ll be meeting Ellie and Joe again soon.

Thank you for answering all of my questions, even the odd ones!
You’re welcome! Thank you for having me here on your blog, Cheryl!

About the book
From sleigh bells to wedding bells . . .

After a rocky start, Ellie Hall baked her way into everyone’s hearts at Claverham Castle – even the miserly Lord Henry was won over – and the run-down teashop regained its old sparkle.

Now Ellie has upgraded cupcakes for fairytale masterpieces as the proud caterer for an ever-growing list of weddings at the castle. The teashop team love baking to the tune of happy ever afters, but can they pull together when a certain bridezilla pushes them all to boiling point?

Christmas is just around the corner, and a last minute booking threatens to snow the team under. Ellie and her hunky hubby Joe have their own Christmas dreams to chase, but they’re determined to pull through and give this special couple the winter wonderland wedding they deserve.
Will Christmas at the Cosy Teashop be a showstopper to remember?
It's been a while since The Cosy Teashop in the Castle, and Ellie and Joe have settled comfortably into married life. As far as Ellie is concerned it is time to add to their family and make their unit complete.

Not an easy feat when you're as busy as Ellie and Joe. Now they are in the business of hosting weddings and dealing with highly emotional brides-to-be, so certain things have to take a back-seat for the time being.

One of the nicest elements of the book is the way all the employees are like one big happy family. From the reluctant unicorn right down to the poor staff run ragged by the occasional bridezilla. They all stick together no matter how difficult the situation or how obscure the request.

Roberts manages to create a happy atmosphere, a cuddle up in a corner cosy read, which she infuses with enough reality to make the story relatable. On top of that she has incorporated her love of all things cake into the book. You might find yourself needing a snack or feel your sweet-tooth calling, then again that might just have been me. I had cake on the brain after this read.

It is an emotional read, and yet at the same time it warms the heart and will make you smile now and again. Roberts is very adept at making the reader feel right at home within the story. The line between fiction and reality is so narrow that it is almost non-existent. Her characters are just like you and me.

Buy The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

Stealing Snow definitely has strong shades of Kagawa's Iron Fey series. In fact it is a bit of a mish-mash of quite a few plots, and therein lies the problem. It is trying to be too many things at the same time.

In doing so it inadvertently makes the story a wee bit spiritless. A story without much direction. An explosion of fae, magic and secret worlds beyond hidden boundaries exploding all at once like an erratic glitter-bomb.

Snow has always lived under the shadow of her mental illness. She can hardly remember a time before the institution, pills, needles and restraints. Even her mother seems to be on the side of the hospital staff. The only kind of support she has ever received is from a young man, who tends to try and kill her on his off-days.

She is perturbed by her vivid nightmares. The type the staff tend to give her medication for. Something or someone is beckoning Snow into a new world. A world in which she becomes an important figure in a fae prophecy and dysfunctional family dynamics.

I know Paige has a hive of creativity to unleash and is capable of producing better world-building. I just think she missed the mark on this one.

Buy Stealing Snow at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Sunday 16 October 2016

Beautiful Maids All in a Row by Jennifer Harlow

I have to admit I couldn't decide whether I liked the brashness of the main character. Iris often seems as if she is acting in a TV lifetime movie. Her behaviour, from a professional point of view, is lacking in judgement to say the least.

The way she taunts the suspect is nothing less than risky. A bit like shooting at a charging elephant and missing. Then there is the way she puts an abuse victim in the direct line of a fist, after threatening her first of course.

Overall a shoddy example of someone in her profession. No wonder her peers and colleagues think she is a liability. Of course everyone takes her mental state into consideration after the traumatic experiences she has been through.

The theoretical jump to the suspect is just that, a bit of a jump, which is a little bit of a contradiction to the prior detailed profiling. However the cat and mouse game makes up for her finding the 'link' between the victims.

I can see Iris Ballard becoming an interesting series, even if the main character is constantly like a volcano waiting to erupt. Her erratic behaviour and impulsive choices will make for some colourful and dangerous scenarios. The 'poke the serial killer and make them angry' kind of situations.

Buy Beautiful Maids All in a Row at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

17th till 21st of October: Blog-Tour: The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop by Caroline Roberts

Are you ready for scrumptious cakes, treats, a cup of tea and a delectable read? Well then you must be ready for the Blog-Tour of The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop by Caroline Roberts.
So you can read what my fellow bloggers have to say about The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop just click on the links below. Follow @_caroroberts and @HarperImpulse and look out for #CosyTeashop on Twitter.

17th of Oct at
18th of Oct at
19th of Oct at
20th of Oct at
21st of Oct at

Hope to see you here on the 20th for my review of The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop!

Thursday 13 October 2016

Indecent by Ethan Brant

Brant weaves the criminal element of the Yugoslav Wars into the story and life of his main character. Zlatan is recruited from inside a prison cell, but his so-called freedom has a high price.

He essentially becomes the lap-dog of the people who have freed him. They can demand his obedience at any time. To kill, to stalk and to destroy. He is their personal pawn.

Often it seems as if Zlatan is having a dialogue with the reader, almost as if he is asking their opinion or wanting their understanding.

In a way I believe it is him asking the audience/reader to be his conscience. Will we judge him for his violent crimes and complete lack of restraint? Do we understand the fact he has no choice?

Of course the truth is he does have a choice. Perhaps he enjoys the power, the violence and the lifestyle. In fact given the right circumstance he might even be at the top of the pyramid.

The author delves into the murky financial, political and personal motivation going on in the background of the Yugoslav Wars. At the forefront is the criminal underworld, the secret police and the criminals who played a pivotal role in the Wars.

What Brant needs to do is focus his energy a little more, give the plot more direction and give the characters more depth.. There is a lot of potential, and the political and historical context is a minefield with plenty of avenue for exploration.

Buy Indecent at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Today! Blog-Tour: Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

Today it is my pleasure to host the Blog-Tour for Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz. Cruz brings a lot of understanding and awareness to the topic of illegal immigrants. Read all about it in my review below.
About the author
Melissa de la Cruz is the author of many best-selling novels, including the Blue Bloods series; the Au Pairs series; the Ashleys series; and Angels on Sunset Boulevard. She is also a frequent contributor to Glamour, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, and Cosmopolitan. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter, and is hard at work on her next book.

Connect with Melissa at, on Facebook or follow @MelissadelaCruz and @HQYoungAdult and look out for #SomethingInBetween on Twitter.

Buy Something in Between

About the book
Jasmine de los Santos has always done what’s expected of her. Pretty and popular, she’s studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship.

And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation.

For the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she’s trying to make sense of her new world, it’s turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where—or if—she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she’s not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.
Cruz draws heavily on her own experiences, family history and personal situation for this story. It gives it an element of legitimacy and the reader may feel more empathy towards the characters.

Jasmine is a hard-working law-abiding young woman, who is on the academic path towards success, It seems as if she has it all when she literally achieves the academic equivalent of a cherry on top of the cake.

She expects joy, pride and excitement, but instead her parents are concerned and apprehensive. Then they burst Jasmine's bubble of perfection. In one fell swoop her life is destroyed and her clear path towards college and career have now suddenly become unobtainable.

As an illegal she belongs nowhere. Legally she technically doesn't even exist in the country she grew up in. She has no rights and no real status. Adieu to her scholarship, her college plans and her happily ever after.

One thing that Cruz explains really well is the general attitude towards illegal immigrants. In fact just the general demeanour towards immigrants, refugees and illegals has become a hot topic in many countries in the last decade. Jasmine feels as if her peers will think she is a criminal, a filthy person and someone they don't want to associate with.

Many people find themselves in similar situations to the de los Santos family. Victims of simple mistakes, bureaucracy, circumstance and often just the fear of the inevitable. Men and women with jobs, homes and children in school. The people next door or across the street.

The courts treat them with contempt and are completely disinterested in the personal tales of these people. No one is interested in the fact they are contributing members of society or can be beneficial to the country. They become numbers, statistics and afterthoughts.

Something in Between mixes important political and socio-economic issues, whilst keeping the general vibe of a young adult book. It is a story that can happen to anyone. People who want to better themselves and their children's lives. They want to give them every opportunity to succeed in life, especially if it isn't possible in their own country. Can anyone really fault them for trying?

Buy Something in Between at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Monday 10 October 2016

Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra

Bec Winter is back from the missing, the disappeared and possibly the dead. Well technically she is still possibly all those things, because the woman calling herself Bec Winter is an imposter.

At first becoming the missing girl is just a means to an end and a welcome opportunity to distance herself from her real identity and life.

However the more she learns about the young girl's disappearance the more she feels as if she needs to find out the truth about what really happened.

Did a predator pick her off the streets? Was she taken by someone she knew? Does someone know more than they have previously admitted to?

As fake Bec becomes more comfortable in the role of the 'returned' daughter she starts to get a real notion of how it was before the real Bec disappeared. Of course she also comprehends that the one person who really does know for certain that she is a fake is probably the person responsible for real Bec's disappearance. Will they just ignore her charade or is she a walking risk factor?

Snoekstra manages to bring the creepy and the crazy in equal measure. Nothing is as it seems, and hey prepare to feel uncomfortable at times. Aside from the twist in the story, the author does bring some of the desperation of families in this situation to the table. Those willing to accept a fake instead of having to accept reality.

Buy Only Daughter at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Sunday 9 October 2016

Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan

This is the story of Eva and Lucas and the third book in the From Manhattan with Love series.

I enjoyed the way Morgan left everyone else more or less out of the mix this time. The majority of the book is just Eva and Lucas interacting with each other. Just pure emotions and a lot of conversation.

Eva lives in a happy bubble full of unicorns and candy-floss dreams. As far as she is concerned everything can be healed or fixed with a little love and a lot of food. She is a wee hurricane of chaos and the complete opposite of Lucas.

Lucas has become a recluse since the death of his wife, and certainly doesn't welcome the interruption caused by the incoming storm called Eva.

Eva manages to unintentionally start the great thaw of icy Lucas, which in itself isn't a bad thing except for the minor issue of Lucas not wanting to be warmed up by anyone. The question is whether she can make a tiny crack in the ice around his heart or will this finally be the man to break Eva's deeply ingrained belief in her happily ever after.

It's sweet, savoury and quite delicious in places. Everything you would expect from a story by Sarah Morgan. Exactly the right kind of story in time for Christmas.

Buy Miracle on 5th Avenue (From Manhattan with Love #3) 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)Sunset in Central Park (From Manhattan with Love #2)Sleepless in Manhattan (From Manhattan with Love #1)Christmas Ever AfterFirst Time in ForeverMaybe This ChristmasSuddenly Last Summer or The Notting Hill Diaries, all by Sarah Morgan.

Follow @SarahMorgan_@HQStories and @HarperCollinsUK

Monday 26 September 2016

Today! Blog-Tour: The Deviants by C.J. Skuse

Today it is my pleasure to be part of the blog-tour for The Deviants by C.J. Skuse. It is a story which will make you root for the merry band of misfits, and I think it will change the way you perceive the word deviant. As per usual Skuse doesn't disappoint.
About the author
C.J. Skuse was born in 1980 in Westonsuper-Mare, England. She has First Class degrees in Creative Writing and Writing for Children and, aside from writing novels, works as a freelance children’s fiction consultant and lectures in Writing for Children at Bath Spa University. C.J. loves Masterchef,
Gummy Bears and murder sites. Before she dies, she would like to go to Japan, try clay-pigeon shooting and have Ryan Gosling present her with the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Connect with @CeeJaytheAuthor or @HQYoungAdult and look out for #TheDeviants on Twitter
Follow CJ on Facebook

About the book
Growing up in the sleepy English seaside town of Brynston, the fearless five – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – were always inseparable. Living up to their nickname, they were the adventurous, rowdy kids who lived for ghost stories and exploring the nearby islands off the coast. But when Max’s beloved older sister Jessica is killed, the friendship seems to die with her.

Now years later, only Max and Ella are in touch; still best friends and a couple since they were thirteen. Their lives are so intertwined Max’s dad even sponsors Ella’s training for the Commonwealth Games. But Ella is hiding things. Like why she hates going to Max’s house for Sunday dinner, and flinches whenever his family are near. Or the real reason she’s afraid to take their relationship to the next level.

When underdog Corey is bullied, the fearless five are brought back together again, teaming up to wreak havoc and revenge on those who have wronged them. But when the secrets they are keeping can no longer be kept quiet, will their fearlessness be enough to save them from themselves?
This book wasn't at all what I expected. It was a whole lot more. The topics are hard-hitting tough ones and Skuse doesn't take any prisoners or make it into a candy floss YA event. I have to admit that the story seemed to be steering towards a predictable ending, but the author pulled a rabbit out of a hat and delivered a spectacular twist. The kind of twist you just don't see coming.

Ella appears to have it all. She is a successful athlete with ambitious goals, and has a happy home and love life. It's only when you look a little closer and scratch a little off the top of the golden girl's shiny surface that the slow decay becomes apparent.

She has a growing inner anger, which has started to slip through her usual pleasant facade. She is finding it increasingly difficult to keep the hounds of rage at bay. Her odd behaviour seems to lead all the way back to the accidental death of her boyfriend's sister.

There is a particular emphasis on the small group of close friends Ella has. The dynamics, loyalties and often dysfunctional relationships between the five of them, and the now missing sixth member of their odd group, are pivotal to the plot. Frenemies, freaks and friendships bind them together.

It's quite common for certain behaviour patterns to be perceived as nothing more than troublesome teenage years, black sheep emerging in the family or simply a rebellious nature. How many of us would turn around and consider a more nefarious reason for behaviour, which is at first out of character and then suddenly the norm?

It is a good read, albeit a dark and quite serious one. It isn't filled with sugar canes and puppy dogs tails. Instead it is a tale of insidious betrayal and the fatal repercussions resulting from this perfidy. For me the word deviant will never conjure up the same images again.

Buy The Deviants at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Monster by C.J. Skuse or Sweetpea.