Posted in Book Review

5*Review: The Blood Road – Stuart MacBride

 Logan McRae’s personal history is hardly squeaky clean, but now that he works for Professional Standards he’s policing his fellow officers.

When Detective Inspector Bell turns up dead in the driver’s seat of a crashed car it’s a shock to everyone. Because Bell died two years ago, they buried him. Or they thought they did.

As an investigation is launched into Bell’s stabbing, Logan digs into his past. Where has he been all this time? Why did he disappear? And what’s so important that he felt the need to come back from the dead?

But the deeper Logan digs, the more bones he uncovers – and there are people out there who’ll kill to keep those skeletons buried. If Logan can’t stop them, DI Bell won’t be the only one to die…

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

Starting a series at book eleven is probably not the best way to become acquainted with the characters, but despite this being my first Logan McRae book I found the characters delightfully quirky and wholly authentic.

‘The Blood Road’, as the name suggests has a dark theme, not revealed in the blurb I read. ‘The concept of a child auction’ is truly horrific and readers should be prepared to be appalled by some of the events in this story. The scenes with the children are sensitively written but its not for everyone.

The plot is very detailed and includes the remarkable and the mundane, while this adds to the story’s authenticity, it did make specific areas drag for me. The dialogue is what makes this a five-star book; it’s believable, informative, and sometimes amusing. The plot has subtle twists and a suspenseful, adrenaline-inducing ending.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Advertisements
Posted in Book Review

4*Review: Stalker – Lisa Stone

 

Someone is always watching…

Derek Flint is a loner. He lives with his mother and spends his
evenings watching his clients on the CCTV cameras he has installed inside their homes. He likes their companionship – even if it’s through a screen.

When a series of crimes hit Derek’s neighbourhood, DC Beth Mayes begins to suspect he’s involved. How does he know so much about the victims’ lives? Why won’t he let anyone into his office? And what is his mother hiding in that strange, lonely house?

As the crimes become more violent, Beth must race against the clock to find out who is behind the attacks. Will she uncover the truth in time? And is Derek more dangerous than even she has guessed? 

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

Reading the blurb to this techno-thriller, you would be forgiven for thinking you are about to read a 21st-Century ‘Psycho’ but don’t be fooled.

A convoluted plot takes you in one direction in an almost predictable way but then leads you down an even darker road before reaching an action-filled conclusion. Even with all the twists, it’s the characters rather than the plot’s complexity that make this a readable thriller.

Derek Flint, a loner, still living with his mother is a voyeur but does he do more than watch? Initially, it appears that Derek is not a good person, but as the story progresses, you discover he is more naive than evil, but he still has the key to the crime wave hitting his hometown. Detective Constables Beth and Matt have a good team dynamic, and they’re a credible police presence in the novel.

Well researched crime description with believable characters that develop within the plot’s sinister ethos, created by cleverly built suspense. An original  21st- century angle on the Stalker trope.

I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

5* Review-Thirteen – Steve Cavanagh

 

 

 

They were Hollywood’s hottest power couple. They had the world at their feet. Now one of them is dead, and Hollywood star Robert Solomon is charged with the brutal murder of his beautiful wife.

This is the celebrity murder trial of the century, and the defence want one man on their team: con artist turned lawyer Eddie Flynn.

All the evidence points to Robert’s guilt, but as the trial begins a series of sinister incidents in the courtroom start to raise doubts in Eddie’s mind.

What if there’s more than one actor in the courtroom?

What if the killer isn’t on trial? What if the killer is on the jury?

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

For once a thriller lives up to its blurb.

The twisty nature of this thriller made it a must-read for me, and I wasn’t disappointed.

A celebrity trial, an unusual lawyer and a serial killer but is he the man on the stand? Well, he’s undoubtedly in the courtroom.

Told from two points of view this predominately courtroom based story lets the reader into the psyche of Eddie Flynn, a con-man turned lawyer and Kane, the serial killer. A fast-paced plot faithfully traces court procedure with essential insights into the lawyer and killer’s personality cleverly entwined with the on-going trial.

The extensive cast of characters is slickly used to add depth and authenticity to the plot. It’s easy to follow, but there are plenty of surprises, well-crafted suspense and a great twisty ending. The killings are not overly graphic, but they give you a chill down your spine. The fourth book in the Eddie Flynn series but the first one I’ve read. There is enough backstory on Eddie and his friends to make this easy reading as a standalone story. 

A chilling, clever, courtroom thriller that enthrals the reader and gives you a definite adrenaline rush.

I received a copy of this book from Orion Publishing Group via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

5* Review: Sarah Morgan – How to Keep a Secret

When three generations of women are brought together by a crisis, they learn over the course of one hot summer the power of family to support, nourish and surprise

Lauren has a perfect life…if she ignores the fact it’s a fragile house of cards, and that her daughter Mack has just had a teenage personality transplant.

Jenna is desperate to start a family with her husband, but it’s… Just. Not. Happening. Her heart is breaking, but she’s determined to keep her trademark smile on her face.

Nancy knows she hasn’t been the best mother, but how can she ever tell Lauren and Jenna the reason why?

Then life changes in an instant and Lauren, Mack, Jenna and Nancy are thrown together for a summer on Martha’s Vineyard. Somehow, these very different women must relearn how to be a family. And while unravelling their secrets might be their biggest challenge, the rewards could be infinite…

Amazon UK 

Amazon

My Thoughts…

A well-paced, story of family secrets and their consequences for familial relationships.

Set partly in London but mostly in Martha’s Vineyard, it features two sisters, Lauren and Jenna who for sixteen years have lived very different lives. A tragedy brings them together in Martha’s Vineyard, their childhood home and as the secrets unfold, the pressure on family life increases.

A simple but compelling plot explores the lives and loves of three generations of women in the Stewart family. Characters are authentically flawed, but with each new conflict, they demonstrate their emotional strength and the importance of family.

This story has all the components necessary for family fiction; angst, humour, love, misunderstanding and tragedy. Romance is also an essential element of this story, and whether gentle or sensual it’s believable and adds depth to the storyline.

Nancy is an emotionally distant mother, but she has her reasons, and when she is forced to confront her demons, it affords her the opportunity to build bridges with her daughters. Mack is a troubled teenager even before she suffers a terrible loss. Her character development is probably the greatest, and she ends the story closer to adulthood than she started it. Lauren and Jenna have lost who they genuinely are amid other people’s expectations of them. The conflict and challenges they face make them re-evaluate their life choices and how they interact with their immediate family.

A lovely family story, which will take you on an emotional journey full of laughter, love, tears and new beginnings.

I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

Falling Short – Lex Coulton – 4*Review

 

 

 

Sometimes getting it wrong is the only way to get it right . . .

Frances Pilgrim’s father went missing when she was five, and ever since all sorts of things have been going astray: car keys, promotions, a series of underwhelming and unsuitable boyfriends . . . Now here she is, thirty-bloody-nine, teaching Shakespeare to rowdy sixth formers and still losing things.

But she has a much more pressing problem. Her mother, whose odd behaviour Frances has long put down to eccentricity, is slowly yielding to Alzheimer’s, leaving Frances with some disturbing questions about her father’s disappearance, and the family history she’s always believed in. Frances could really do with someone to talk to. Ideally Jackson: fellow teacher, dedicated hedonist, erstwhile best friend. Only they haven’t spoken since that night last summer when things got complicated . . .

As the new school year begins, and her mother’s behaviour becomes more and more erratic, Frances realises that she might just have a chance to find something for once. But will it be what she’s looking for?

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

The general theme of this book is one of self-reflection and loss. Francis at thirty-nine is dissatisfied with her life, things never work out. Still, tormented by her father’s departure from her life at age five she is faced with another family crisis as her mother succumbs to Alzheimer’s. Jackson’s hedonist tendencies lead him into conflict. Drawn together by mutual self-destruction, but as Frances’life implodes Jackson withdraws, and she has to face her past and uncertain future alone.

The excellent writing style elevates this story, it’s easy to read with characters that resonate, the storyline is sombre, no escapist reading here but the plot’s authenticity makes it memorable.  I loved Frances’ interaction with ‘Dog’, this speaks volumes about the comfort she’s received from animal friends, and they never let her down like the humans in her life.  If you like something different, this is worthwhile, but don’t expect to get a feel-good hug from reading this.

I received a copy of this book from John Murray Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

the tall man – Phoebe Locke- 4*Review

A SENSELESS MURDER. A TERRIFYING LEGEND. A FAMILY HAUNTED.

1990: In the darkest woods, three girls devote themselves to a sinister figure.

2000: A young mother disappears, leaving behind her husband and baby daughter.

2018: A teenage girl is charged with murder, and her trial will shock the world.

Three chilling events, connected by the shadow he casts.

He is the Tall Man. He can make you special…

YOU DON’T FIND HIM… HE FINDS YOU. 

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

This story starts off sinister and creepy, and this urban myth should have held me spellbound, but it didn’t. There are numerous sub-plots most of which feed the main storyline. The story’s pacing is in the main fast, but there are areas mired in detail that make it drag.

The plot’s supernatural element alluded to in the blurb and title fades into the background, amidst the making of the documentary and Amber’s relationship with her parents. Well executed plot’s twists in an ethos that is undeniably chilling and sinister make the facts of the story when revealed genuinely horrific but the connection to ‘the tall man’ seems tenuous.

A good thriller with authentic characters, vivid setting and carefully built suspense, it just needs the supernatural element to be more prominent to be great.

I received a copy of this book from Headline – Wildfire via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

The Sister Swap – Fiona Collins – 4*Review

Meg simply doesn’t have time for men in her life. Instead, she has a strictly one-date rule, survives on caffeine and runs one of the biggest model agencies from her smart office in London. That is until she collapses one day at work and the doctor orders her to take some R&R in the country…

Sarah is used to being stuck behind tractors and the slow pace of her cosy village life. But now her children are all grown-up (and her ex-husband long forgotten) she’s ready to change things up a bit – starting with taking back her old job in the city!

After a devastating falling out, the sisters haven’t spoken in years. Swapping houses, cars, everything is the only option – surely they’ll be able to avoid bumping into each other?

Amazon UK

Amazon

 

My Thoughts…

Meg and Sarah estranged for twenty years. Both sister’s lives changed because of a devastating family tragedy. They led different lives, Meg’s career driven, Sarah’s, forsaking her career for her family. Illness and the prospect of an empty nest make both sisters assess their lives. They make contact and agree to swap their houses but will they become family again?

Both characters are flawed, Sarah on first acquaintance appears to be the most selfless, but as the story progresses it’s clear Meg’s colleagues like and respect her, which Sarah finds surprising. Living in a different setting makes them realise something is missing from their previous life and gives them a new perspective.

There is a mix of comedy, romantic and thought-provoking moments in this story. Your empathy with the characters increases as the story progresses and by the end you want their new lives to succeed.

Just the book for a lighthearted beach read.

I received a copy of this book form HQ Digital via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

Coming Home to Island House – Erica James – 5* Review

It’s the summer of 1939, and after touring an unsettled Europe to promote her latest book, Romily Temple returns home to Island House and the love of her life, the charismatic Jack Devereux. 

But when Jack falls ill, his estranged family are called home and given seven days to find a way to bury their resentments and come together. 

With war now declared, each member of the family is reluctantly forced to accept their new stepmother and confront their own shortcomings. But can the habits of a lifetime be changed in one week? And can Romily, a woman who thrives on adventure, cope with the life that has been so unexpectedly thrust upon her?

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

Vivid characters and locations bring this family saga to life at an iconic time in the 20th-century. Set in 1939 and 1940, Britain at war is the setting for a dysfunctional family brought together by the death of their estranged father.

Romily marries Jack, an older man, soulmates they live the perfect life although Jack regrets his distant relationship with his children. Irreparably changed by grief after the death of his first wife, Jack distanced himself emotionally from his children. Their memories of him are of a strict disciplinarian, judgemental and never to be pleased.

Romily fulfils her husband’s dying wish to try an unite his family, providing the story with conflict, laughter, poignancy and romance as she weaves her magic amongst Jack’s emotionally damaged children. The character development and depth of connections forged with family members make this an absorbing read. The images of war and life in Britain are well-researched and give the story and enthralling authenticity.

The gently paced plot has many dramatic twists that add to the angst Romily faces. The characters are well-drawn and individual, there are many stories within this book, which are concluded well but with enough loose ends to make the reader want to know what happens next in their lives.

I received a copy of this book via Orion via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Chloe Esposito – Mad – Extract – 4* Review

Adult Read

Seven days of sun, sin, secrets – and seven days to steal her sister’s life . . .

Beth has always been the golden girl, leaving her twin Alvie in her shadow. Beth has everything Alvie ever wanted – the money, the hot husband, the cute baby, the fast car. 

So when Beth invites Alvie for seven sun-drenched days at her lavish villa in Sicily, Alvie accepts. Just because she can’t stand, Beth doesn’t mean she can’t enjoy a slice of her decadent lifestyle.

But her usually goody-two-shoes sister has a hidden agenda. And when the twins swap identities for a day, it ends badly for Beth. Very badly.

It’s Alvie’s chance to steal the life she deserves . . . If she can get away with it.

But what if having it all really means risking everything?

Amazon UK

Amazon

Extract

Chapter Four

It was Beth’s fault we never had any birthday parties.
Well, not since our first and last one, when we were five.
We were so excited, I remember that much. It was our first proper party. We were running around the house, shrieking and laughing, jumping up and down and waiting for the guests to arrive. Beth had on her new frilly dress with fairy wings and a tutu skirt, and I was wearing one of Beth’s old pinafores that she’d grown out of. We’d done our hair up in lopsided bunches with our favourite scrunchies and butterfly clips. Mum had made party bags, blown up balloons. She’d even baked a cake with nine candles: five for Beth and four for me because one of them broke in the packet on the way back from the shop. The house was warm with the sweet smell of baking. It was a My Little Pony cake: vanilla buttercream, strawberry jam, hundreds of thousands of sprinkles. I didn’t like vanilla. Or buttercream. Or strawberry jam, to be honest. Beth was the one who was mad keen on horses. I preferred trolls. But I thought the cake looked pretty cool: the pink flying pony with sparkly wings and a blue mane that glistened and flowed in the wind. Horses could fly in those days; there was magic in the air. At least, that’s what I thought until the guests started to arrive. Then it all went downhill.

‘Happy birthday!’ The kids all burst in squealing. And then the party games began. Beth won Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Beth won Musical Statues and Musical Chairs. Mum always stopped the music when Beth had the present when we were playing Pass the Parcel. Beth was the one Mum let cut the cake and make a wish (and it was such a beautiful knife!).

That was it. I couldn’t take any more. I turned on my heel and sprinted upstairs, my head exploding with thundering rage, my eyes overflowing with tears. I spent the afternoon crying in a locked bathroom surrounded by tissues soggy with snot. I could hear the party in full swing below me, the ghetto blaster thumping Beth’s favourite song: ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ by Kylie Minogue. Mum said I could stay in there ‘Until you learn how to behave!’ Beth had a great time. I never tasted that cake. My sister kept trying to make me come out. Banging on the door. Begging me. Pleading. She twisted the doorknob so hard it came off. She offered me her presents, her cards and cake (she only did it to make herself feel better). But it wasn’t the same. Second-hand toys just don’t have that sparkle. I didn’t want to share. Sharing is bullshit. Whoever said ‘sharing is caring’ did not have a twin.

That was the year that the horses stopped flying.

We never had another party after that.

My Thoughts…

‘Mad’ the first book in the ‘Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know’ trilogy is a curious mix of bonkbuster and mystery. Alvie, the anti-heroine is an identical twin and in her words, the antithesis of her perfect sister, Beth.

Alvie’s recollection of her childhood is that she was always second- best, regardless of whether this was the case, it damaged Alvie emotionally and destroyed the twins emotional connection.

Alvie’s life is a mess, and she glorifies in it, projecting the bad girl, don’t care persona that people expect of her, she lives to shock and usually manages it. When her life implodes, she decides to accept her estranged sister’s invite to stay with her, to escape. A pawn in a dangerous game, she finds nothing is what it seems. Her life changes irreparably, but as usual, she embraces the horror rather than running from it.

Alvie is a complex character, who isn’t easy to empathise. She is foul-mouthed, takes drugs, drinks to excess and steals anything she desires, including men. Despite losing her moral compass, she is vulnerable, often naive, desperate for someone to love her and a natural comedian.

The story’s dark comedy will appeal to many, and all the characters’ vivacity and the settings’ vivid description draw you into the story, following the breathless action. I can’t wait to see what scrapes Alvie gets into next.

If you like your mysteries, set in paradise, with larger than life characters who exhibit all of the seven deadly sins, you’ll enjoy this.

I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK -Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

Death Notice – 4* Review -Zhou HaoHui

For nearly two decades, an unsolved murder case has haunted Sergeant Zheng Haoming of the Chengdu Police Department. Eighteen years ago, two victims were murdered after being served with ‘death notices’. In refined calligraphy, their perceived crimes were itemised, and they were sentenced to death. The date of execution was declared, as was the name of their executioner: Eumenides.

Now, a user on an internet forum has asked the public to submit names for judgement – judgement for those the law cannot touch. Those found guilty will be punished, and there is only one sentence: death. The user’s handle? Eumenides.

Does Zheng have a lead? Has a long-dormant serial killer resurfaced? Perhaps modern police techniques – criminal profiling, online surveillance and SWAT quick response teams – can catch a killer who previously evaded justice? Or perhaps the killer is more than a match for whatever the Chengdu Police Department can muster?

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

A fast-paced police procedural set in China with well-written suspense elements and an authentic setting. Translated into English this book, reads well. ‘Death Notice’ is a mixture of cold case investigation and the present day pursuit of a serial killer.

The plot is complex as are the characters. The writing style isn’t descriptive, but there is sufficient information for the reader to understand what’s going on and try to solve the clues. The procedures are bureaucratic and appear dated but presumably are reflective of police procedures within China.

I enjoyed the writing style and the author’s ability to create suspense. There is an overriding mystery to solve, which will span the series but this first book ties up the immediate loose ends while leaving the detectives and the reader further mysteries to solve.

I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.