Posted in Book Review

Best Friends Carys Jones: Blog Tour – Extract and 4* Review

Four friends, a terrible secret, and one week to stay alive…

Grace doesn’t have a family. That was taken away one dreadful day when she was just six, and her twin brother Peter was killed. Instead, she has her best friends and flatmates – Jasper, Franklin and Aaron – and nothing can tear them apart.

Living in London, and trying desperately to make a living, the four friends are rapidly running out of money and hope. So, when they find a discarded suitcase in a skip, they can’t believe their eyes when its contents seem to answer all their prayers.

But then there is a knock on their door, and a very disgruntled thug with revenge on his mind gives them one week to return his belongings, or they will pay with their lives. Soon the fractures in their friendships begin to show, and when one of them ends up fighting for his life, the stakes are raised even higher.

Will any of them get to the end of the week alive, or will the best of friends become the deadliest of enemies…

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mKlVg0

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2DMGC34

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2mMlsKp

iBooks: https://apple.co/2rk5pZN

Extract

Fifteen Years Later

It was raining. The streets of London were awash with water. It gathered in rivers beneath the kerb and dripped down from gutters. Grace stepped out of the tube station and smiled as the first wet drops splashed against her. She walked boldly down the street, head held high, savouring the sensation as the rain soaked through her thin trench coat and began to damply settle against her skin.

She moved as her name suggested – with poise and elegance. With the measured steps of a prowling cat, she wove her way through the congested street, dipping beneath low hanging umbrellas and skirting around the larger puddles. Grace was like the water; fluid with her motions and able to fit through the smallest gap. Her body was slight and lithe and when she walked her feet were always turned out, the tell-tale mark of a dancer.

To Grace the rain was glorious. She laughed to herself as she tilted her head up to meet the pewter sky above.

God’s tears.

That’s what her mother believed rain to be. And whenever the sky darkened she’d pluck the twins from their beloved swing set in the local park and hurry them back to their cramped flat. It was a sin to get wet.

“The sorrow,” she’d lament as she closed the curtains and turned up the heating, “you can’t let God’s tears and sorrow touch you else it’ll sink in.”

As she moved further away from the station, the bodies swarming along the street thinned and Grace was able to stretch out her arms. The rain washed against her, purifying and icy. Her hair that was held in a tidy bun became sodden, the tan shade of her coat darkened. Still, Grace dawdled, stretching out every step on her way back to her flat. She was never in a rush, especially when it rained.

“You’ll catch your death acting like that,” a stern-faced woman with a northern accent commented as she scurried past, shielded beneath her Radley umbrella. Grace wanted to laugh in the woman’s face. It was people who brought death, not water. But it wasn’t the stranger’s urge for caution, but her Manchester twang that made Grace begin to hurry home. She had once spoken with a similar cadence, but during her years spent at a prestigious ballet school, she’d learned to phase it out, adopting a more clipped, formal accent.

She didn’t need another reminder of home. Nor had she wanted to give the rest of the girls in her class another reason to see her as an outcast. Grace was already strange in their eyes. They came from homes with front doors, back gardens, places where parents came in pairs.

Up ahead a battered blue door flung open, and a handsome dark-haired guy burst out. He headed directly for Grace, extending his arms which made his long wool coat fan out behind him like a cloak.

“Jesus Christ,” he exclaimed as he reached her. “What have I told you about your damn rain fetish? Now get your ass inside.”

“I don’t have a fetish, Franklin,” Grace assured him as she followed him into the small communal hallway which led up to their two bedroom flat.

“Yes, you bloody do,” Franklin feverishly shook off the minuscule cluster of raindrops which had landed on him during his short time outside. He behaved like the dark clouds lingering over London were releasing acid rather than water. “Whenever it rains I find you swanning around outside like you think you’re Kate Bush. Now get in, hurry.”

“I am hurrying.” Grace ascended a steep staircase, made a sharp right turn and found her front door. It was of bare, unvarnished wood. She gently kicked the base, and it opened without protest. Franklin followed her inside and paused to secure the many deadbolts on the inner side of the door.

 My Thoughts…

Believable characters that are easy to empathise. A realistic, plot and a vibrant easy to imagine setting all make Best Friends worth reading. The pacing is perfect, and the internal and external conflict balance is good.

Four young adults share a small flat and face a constant battle of paying the rent without sacrificing their dreams. They are drawn together because of they are all artists, an actor, dancer, musician and writer. They all have something missing in their family lives, ranging from being different to their siblings to suffering years of unthinkable abuse as a child.  They are family, but this bond is tested when something they thought would be their salvation turns sour.

The friendship is tested to breaking point, but each of them face up to their fears and, finds something worthwhile from the traumatic two weeks they experience.  For me, the plot isn’t as exciting as the blurb suggested, but the character development and the conflict within the group make it worth reading.

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

Carys Jones loves nothing more than to write and create stories which ignite the reader’s imagination. Based in Shropshire, England, Carys lives with her husband, two guinea pigs and her adored canine companion Rollo.

Twitter: http://bit.ly/2rmTGti

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2Dpix5D

Website: http://bit.ly/2mS51gj

 

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Posted in Book Review

The War Widow – Lorna Gray 4* Review

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The echoes of war live long in the mind…

Wales, 1947

Injured and terrified after an attempted abduction, desperation drives artist Kate Ward to the idyllic scene of her ex-husband’s recent suicide. Labelled a hysterical, grieving divorcée, no one believes she is being pursued by two violent men demanding answers she cannot give. Not the police, not the doctors, and not the guests at the Aberystwyth hotel she has come to in an attempt to find out what happened to her charismatic photographer ex-husband, and why her sanity—and her life—are now at risk.

Kate can trust no one, not even the reclusive war-veteran-turned-crime-novelist, Adam Hitchen, a reserved widower and the only source of kindness in a shadowy world of suspicion and fear. And as ghosts old and new rise to haunt her, Kate must rely on all her strength and courage to uncover the shocking truth hidden within a twisted web of lies…

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

This story isn’t the traditional World War 2 or post-war story. It’s a mystery with elements of a psychological thriller set in post-war Wales and England. The central theme of the story is Kate’s journey of self-discovery. After years of having her self-esteem eroded, facing extreme danger, hardship and loneliness force her to acknowledge her real worth.

There is a clever mystery to solve and carefully built suspense, in this twisty plot, which is a little slow paced in parts. Character-driven this story has a complex protagonist who feels utterly alone, yet this doesn’t quell her survival instinct, and she continually faces her demons and forces her adversaries to meet her head on. The cast of characters are not easy to empathise with, but they are beautifully intricate and seen through Kate’s eyes many take on sinister characteristics. The reader is left wondering whether the threat she perceives is real or paranoia.
The story has various settings, all of which are vividly described with just the right amount of historical detail to make the period setting realistic.

An original, authentic period mystery that keeps you guessing, with a strong female protagonist who is easy to empathise.

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

Posted in Book Review

Life of Crime – Kimberley Chambers 5* Review

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Sometimes crime does pay, but at what price?

Some people are made for a life of crime

Dragged up on a council estate, Jason Rampling was determined to change his lot. Jason’s a chancer, shameless with his good looks and his gift for earning a few quid. Life is easy when the money rolls in.

Some people are ruined by it

Melissa thought she’d struck gold marrying Jason. Being on his arm meant she was finally a someone. But there’s no glamour in waiting for your husband to come home or waiting for a knock on the door. Melissa made her bed the day she made her vows – will she lie in it without a fight?

Some would kill for it

After a stretch inside Jason wants to pull off just one last job, the biggest of all, it could solve all of their problems. But this is a game that could cost them everything . . .

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

The first book I’ve read by this author and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s an easy to read, well-written, gripping tale of organised crime, family and money.
The plot is clever, with suspense and twists and a satisfying ending but it’s the characters that enthralled me and kept me turning the pages. I wanted to know what happened to them, even those I didn’t like, and there were quite a few of those.
A story about families embroiled in and affected by crime. Jason is a chancer, always looking for a quick way to make money, whatever side of the law it takes him on. Melissa is the daughter of a gangster father, whose respectable front hides organised criminal activity. Jason sees her as a meal ticket; she sees him as her knight in shining armour, their story is complex, outrageous and poignant as they both live out their ‘life of crime’.
Starting in the 1990’s this story is fast-paced and action-packed, often violent and foul-mouthed. It is a believable tale, with vivid imagery and characters that make it more like watching a film than reading a book. 
A hard-edged, gritty story, which stands out in this popular genre.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

A Deadly Trade – E.V.Seymour – 4* Review

 

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One moment of weakness can cost you everything…
Rogue assassin Josh Thane is an artist in murder. His next target is a British microbiologist suspected of creating devastating chemical weapons.
Breaking into her house, he discovers someone has beaten him to it – she’s already dead. In a moment of weakness, he saves the life of her son. A single mistake that destroys everything he’s worked for and puts him and the boy in immediate danger…
When Josh embarks on an international quest to find the real killer, he uncovers a criminal conspiracy with truly terrifying consequences. Yet it’s in his own past that the darkest truth lies hidden

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

A fast-paced story with an enigmatic male anti-hero and lots of action. Vividly depicted characters. The setting is described in great detail making it easy to imagine, giving the story its authenticity. A well-written first chapter draws you in. An easy read and hard to put down. I read this in a few hours. The plot is good, but I did work out the twist about half-way through. Knowing the villain didn’t spoil the story for me as I enjoyed having my theories confirmed.

A good contemporary thriller, which combines, spy action, psychological thrills, technology, and a forbidden relationship. I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the series ‘Final Target’.
I received a copy of this book from Killer Reads via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

Her Frozen Heart – Lulu Taylor – 4* Review

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“Caitlyn, there’s something I have to tell you. About Sara.”

Caitlyn thinks her marriage to Patrick is a success. For one thing, he is one of the few people not to fall head over heels for her beautiful friend, Sara. Life is lived on his terms, but they are happy. Aren’t they? When a devastating accident turns her existence upside down, Caitlyn is forced to reassess everything she thought about her marriage, what she truly knows about Patrick, and his real feelings for her best friend.In the refuge of an old manor house, she begins to discover the truth.

In 1947, the worst winter in decades hits England, cutting off entirely the inhabitants of Kings Harcourt Manor. For Tommy Carter, widowed at the start of war, it is particularly hard: the burden of the family falls on her. She has the solace of her children, and the interesting presence of her brother’s friend, Fred. But there is also Barbara, a mysterious figure from her past who appears to want a piece of Tommy’s future as well. 

Amazon UK 

Amazon

My Thoughts…

An interesting story set in two time periods.There are parallels between the two main female characters Tommy and Caitlyn, and the past meets the present in the middle of the book. The characters are strong and believable; both women have emotionally difficult lives despite superficial wealth.

The plots are easy to follow, but there are enough twists to hold your interest. The setting is particularly vivid in the historical chapters. The description of the snow and cold was rich in detail and realistic imagery.

The female antagonists in the story hide their deceit and obsessive behaviour behind a cloak of friendliness and vulnerability. The psychological thrills are subtle but make the plot darker than you would first imagine.

The writing showed insight into human emotions and coupled with the vivid imagery it turns an ordinary plot into something worth reading.

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

Posted in Book Review

Missing Presumed – D.S. Manon #1 – Susie Steiner – 4 *Review

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Mystery Thriller Blurb

Mid-December, and Cambridgeshire is blanketed with snow. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw tries to sleep after yet another soul-destroying Internet date – the low murmuring of her police radio her only solace.

Over the airwaves come reports of a missing woman – door ajar, keys and phone left behind, a spatter of blood on the kitchen floor. Manon knows the first 72 hours are critical: you find her, or you look for a body. And as soon as she sees a picture of Edith Hind, a Cambridge post-graduate from a well-connected family, she knows this case will be big.

Is Edith alive or dead? Was her ‘complex love life’ at the heart of her disappearance, as a senior officer tells the increasingly hungry press? And when a body is found, is it the end or only the beginning?

Mystery Thriller Buy Links

Amazon UK

 Amazon

Mystery Thriller My Review

A good crime mystery is defined by its detective. Manon Bradshaw is a complex, compelling creature who ensures you keep turning the pages even when the plot is a little pedestrian in parts.

I liked the carefully layered plot, which gradually gives the reader more pieces in the jigsaw, only to add tragic events and new characters which complicate rather than inform. It would have been so easy to write a sensationalised ending but ‘Missing, Presumed’, stays true to its credible roots and is believable. The story’s women’s fiction element is strong and makes it worth reading.The suspense is well written but this is more about familial relationships and friendships than criminals.

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

Posted in Book Review

The Girl Before – J.P. Delaney – 5* Review

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Mystery Thriller Blurb

Enter the world of One Folgate Street and discover perfection . . . but can you pay the price?
Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma’s past and Jane’s present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.

Mystery Thriller Buy Links

Amazon UK

Amazon

Mystery Thriller My Review

The Girl Before

Two young women, one in the past and one in the present, whose lives intertwine, as the past threatens to overwhelm the present.
The suspense grips you from the first page, each woman has so many secrets and emotional damage and the clean, simple lines of 1 Folgate Street, offers a new start, the slate wiped clean and they are desperate to take the solace it offers, whatever the cost.

The girls’ past histories draw you in. The suspense intensifies as Jane discovers what happened to Emma, the woman who lived there before her and the secrets surrounding her.

The women’s characters are fascinating and tragic.

The enigmatic owner and architect of 1 Folgate Street is mysterious and menacing. Yet, sometimes it’s the familiar that presents the most danger.  

There are lots of grey areas in this story, open to the reader’s own interpretation, which keep you turning the pages and make you wonder if you really have understood, who did what. 

A story that will keep you enthralled to the end.
I received a copy of this story from Quercus Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

J.P. Delaney

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Posted in Book Review, Sampler

The Girl Before – J.P. Delaney – 5* Review- Sampler

cover101612-medium

Mystery Thriller Blurb

Enter the world of One Folgate Street and discover perfection . . . but can you pay the price?
Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma’s past and Jane’s present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.

Mystery Thriller Buy Links

Amazon UK

Amazon

Mystery Thriller My Review

The Girl Before

Review of Sampler:

Two young women, one in the past and one in the present, whose lives intertwine, as the past threatens to overwhelm the present.
The suspense grips you from the first page, each woman has so many secrets and emotional damage and the clean, simple lines of 1 Folgate Street, offers a new start, the slate wiped clean and they are desperate to take the solace it offers, whatever the cost.
The sampler reveals enough about the girls’ past to draw you in. The suspense intensifies as Jane discovers what happened to Emma, the woman who lived there before her and the secrets surrounding her.
The women’s characters are fascinating and tragic. The enigmatic owner and architect of 1 Folgate Street is mysterious and menacing. A story that will keep you enthralled to the end.
I received a sampler of this story from Quercus Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

J.P. Delaney

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Posted in Book Review

300 Days of Sun – Deborah Lawrenson – 4* Review

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Blurb - Coastal

Traveling to Faro, Portugal, journalist Joanna Millard hopes to escape an unsatisfying relationship and a stalled career. Faro is an enchanting town, and the views are enhanced by the company of Nathan Emberlin, a charismatic younger man. But beneath the crumbling façade of Moorish buildings, Joanna soon realizes, Faro has a seedy underbelly, its economy compromised by corruption. And Nathan has an ulterior motive for seeking her company: he is determined to discover the truth involving a child’s kidnapping that may have taken place on this dramatic coastline over two decades ago.

Joanna’s subsequent search leads her to Ian Rylands, an English expat who cryptically insists she will find answers in The Alliance, a novel written by American Esta Hartford. The book recounts an American couple’s experience in Portugal during World War II, and their entanglements both personal and professional with their German enemies. Only Rylands insists the book isn’t fiction, and as Joanna reads deeper into The Alliance, she begins to suspect that Esta Hartford’s story and Nathan Emberlin’s may indeed converge in Faro — where the past not only casts a long shadow but still exerts a very present danger.

Buy Links  - Coastal

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Review - Coastal

300 Days of Sun

 

This is a clever novel merging the past and present seamlessly. As a reader, you become an investigative journalist, without having to move from your armchair. The setting is dramatic, yet has a simplicity, which contrasts wonderfully with the corrupt elements discussed in the novel.
At a crossroads in her life, Joanna leaves the difficulties of her career and love life behind when she takes a language course in beautiful Portugal. Attraction and intrigue draw Joanna to Nathan. He embroils her in his mission to discover the mysteries of his past.
The pace is a little slow to begin with but it’s worth the wait, as the past collides with the present in alarmingly ways that make this book hard to put down. There is a story within a story as time slips back to WW2 and the fascinating, dangerous place Portugal was during this period, giving this novel an original twist. The plot and characters are authentic and vivid, you can imagine these people, behaving in this way. This is not a romance, there is no happy ever after but a believable, satisfying conclusion to the mysteries, with just a few threads left dangling to let you draw your own conclusions.
Joanna is a good heroine who I think could have further adventures both in the present and the past.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

300 Days of Sun by Deborah Lawrenson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


300 Days of Sun by Deborah Lawrenson

Deborah Lawrenson

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Posted in Book Review

Touched to the Soul – Elsa Winckler 5* Review

Here’s my second book review for Elsa Winckler’s Touched series ‘Touched to the Soul,’

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Blurb 2016- 2

A passion that runs soul deep… 

Zoe Sutherland can’t stand the pushy, arrogant architect Dale Cavallo. He was just too damn sure of himself, too handsome, too…everything. Maneuvered into working as the interior decorator on his latest project, a glamorous new hotel, Zoe can’t keep her mind on the job. And worse, the strange man won’t give her access to the hotel’s floor plans. How is she supposed to finish the design when she doesn’t have the plans? And when the obnoxious man distracts her with every smoldering look, every touch… 

Dale has one goal: get rid of the pesky interior designer. Since he’s been forced into close proximity with the beautiful Zoe, everything’s gone downhill. And to make matters worse, she’s only out to further her own career—and he’s not about to give her the hotel’s plans so she can steal his ideas. He needs to get her out of his system, and sleeping with her seems like the best way to do that. When it comes to women, he’s found the best way to handle them is to love ’em and leave ’em. But something strange is happening…because after a night of loving Zoe, he’s finding it harder than ever to leave… 

Buy Links 2016 -2

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Review

Touched to the Soul

Reading ‘Touched to the Heart’ the first book in this series got me hooked on the sexy Cavallo brothers and the feisty Sutherland sisters. ‘Touched to the Soul’ is Zoe and Dale’s story, who met in book one where they seemed to repel more than attract. However, neither is being honest and when they are thrown together the sensual tension is off the scale.
If you enjoy watching love grow between glamorous couples, this is for you. The worlds of interior design and boutique hotels collide. The exchanges between Zoe and Dale are full of amusing dialogue, sizzling interaction and serious conflict that makes a happy ever for the couple seems unlikely. However, fairy godmothers in the form of Zoe’s mum and Rosa, Dale’s mum have other ideas.
Glimpses of the other Sutherland sister and their best friend’s lives enhance this passionate love story, making reading the next book in the series mandatory.
The other star of this book and the series is the setting. The descriptions are not extensive but you get wonderful glimpses of life in South Africa, which makes these stories distinctive.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Touched to the Soul by Elsa Winckler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Touched to the Heart by Elsa Winckler

Elsa Winckler

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