Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer


My name is Ruby. I live with Barbara and Mick. They're not my real parents, but they tell me what to do, and what to say. I'm supposed to say that the bruises on my arms and the black eye came from falling down the stairs.

But there are things I won't say. I won't tell them I'm going to hunt for my real parents. I don't say a word about Shadow, who sits on the stairs, or the Wasp Lady I saw on the way to bed.

I did tell Mick that I saw the woman in the buttercup dress, hanging upside down from her seat belt deep in the forest at the back of our house. I told him I saw death crawl out of her. He said he'd give me a medal for lying.

I wasn't lying. I'm a hunter for lost souls and I'm going to be with my real family. And I'm not going to let Mick stop me.

My review:

This book is much better than the introduction blurb suggests. Thank goodness I don’t give too much attention to these as it gives an impression of a different book to the one I have read.

Ruby is a messed up girl who is desperate to find her own place in the world, desperate for her parent’s love that every child deserves. It seemed to me that the whole village knew how she has been treated by her father and it made me angry that no one did anything to stop it, but I suppose such were the days.

Finding out that Mick and Barbara are not her real parents certainly explained Mick’s awful behaviour towards her. It also sends Ruby on a downwards spiral whilst trying to find her family, living with the strange people in place she doesn’t understand.

There are elements of the supernatural throughout the novel as it changes from Ruby’s story to the voice of Shadow – Ruby’s constant companion – the only ‘person’ that has been there for her as long as she can remember and the one that helps her on her way of discovery, pain, friendships and light.

This book is beautifully written. It’s an emotional journey for the characters as well as the reader. It’s something different and it certainly stands out among a sea of the ever so popular thrillers and crime novels. It’s one to read and to remember.

Thank you to the author and NetGalley for access to this book in return for this honest review.

My rating: 5/5

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Friday, 5 May 2017

The Note (Eddie Collins novella) by Andrew Barrett


I’m Eddie Collins, a CSI.

Ever had that feeling of being watched but when you turn around no one’s there?
I have. 

It was raining, and I was working a murder scene around midnight when that prickle ran up my spine. If I’d listened to that feeling, if I’d thought back to my past, maybe I could have prevented the terror that was to come.

Back at the office, I found a death threat on my desk.

I had no idea who sent it or why they wanted to kill me.

But I was about to find out.

My review:

I love Eddie Collins. Especially his grumpy, no-nonsense approach to anyone who rubs him up the wrong way – which seems to be most people he works with. 

Interestingly though, when he gets the note, he seems to forget everything he has learned in his job and drives straight into danger’s arms. 

This is a very quick, entertaining read that keeps you glued to the pages until you can breathe a sigh of relief at the end. For a short thriller story I also found myself giggling at Eddie’s demeanour in the face of death as Andrew Barrett somehow manages to make Eddie seem very real, which is exactly the sort of character I like in a book.

Thank you to the Andrew Barrett for access to this book in return for this honest review.

My rating: 4/5

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The Cold Hard Truth by Amanda Leigh Cowley


Nothing could prepare Emily for what she witnessed that day.

With no money to support herself and suffering from panic attacks, she reluctantly moves in with her estranged mother and half-sister overseas. But as fractured relationships start to heal and a new one threatens to blossom, she uncovers a disturbing secret.

When the truth hurts this much, would you prefer not to know?

My review:

I thoroughly enjoy suspense crime novels and this one was no different. Add a little bit of a nice guy and romance and you have the perfect book.

When Emily returns home one day unexpectedly early, she finds herself in the middle of a complete nightmare that forced her to make live changing choice. She ends up having to leave everything behind in London and move in with her estranged mother and sister in California, a place she never thought she would end up after her mother left her behind at a young age.

She is angry, sad and awkward, especially since her half-sister Harriet seems to do her utmost to carry on as nothing ever happened.

She finally starts to feel some normality when she’s offered a job, which conveniently comes with a very handsome owner who seems to have the hots for her.

The writing was great and kept you guessing as to who the bad guy is. The story has some good twist, nice little spark of romance and plenty of good, likeable characters.

Thank you to the author and #TBConFB for access to this book in return for this honest review.

My rating: 4/5

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Thursday, 4 May 2017

Rose Petal Graves (The Lost Clan #1) by Olivia Wildenstein


Ancient secrets cannot remain buried forever.

Founded two centuries ago by a powerful tribe of Gottwa Indians, Rowan was a quiet town, so quiet that I fled after graduation. Staying away was the plan, but Mom died suddenly.

Dad said she suffered a stroke after she dug up one of the ancient graves in our backyard, which happens to be the town cemetery. Creepy, I know. Creepier still, there was no corpse inside the old coffin, only fresh rose petals.

As we made preparations for Mom’s burial, new people began arriving in Rowan, unnervingly handsome and odd people. I begged them to leave, but they stayed, because their enemies—my ancestors—were beginning to awaken.

My review:

Oh how I missed fantasy books about the fae folk. I would say my reading is quite varied but coming back to this sort of novel was just so lovely. Not what I fully expected when I read the blurb, but enjoyable nonetheless.

I have read some of the negative reviews regarding the credibility of the Native American history, but really this book doesn’t state it’s based on facts. This is a work of fiction. And if you are going to throw in fairies and fae-hunters, you must ask yourself whether the facts are really that important.

But away from that. I loved it. This book only lost one star because the only character I kind of warmed to was Cruz and I felt I needed more of him. I have a niggling feeling that he is going to become a very important part of the storyline going forward and I hope he is given more time in the next books. Catori annoyed me at times, especially when it came to her indecisiveness, but she is young and kind of thrown into the deep end, so I can live with her flaws – I suppose no one is perfect.

I can’t say more about the story without spoiling in, but I can say that for me this was a great escape from a reality into a world that I can’t wait to read more about.

Thank you to the author and #TBConFB for access to this book in return for this honest review.

My rating: 4/5

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Thursday, 20 April 2017

Old Cross Cottage (Psychic Surveys #4) by Shani Struthers


In a quiet Dorset Village, Old Cross Cottage has stood for centuries, overlooking the place where four roads meet. Marred by tragedy, it’s had a series of residents, none of whom have stayed for long. Pink and pretty, with a thatched roof, it should be an ideal retreat, but as new owners Rachel and Mark Bell discover, it’s anything but. 

Ruby Davis hasn’t quite told her partner the truth. She’s promised Cash a holiday in the country but she’s also promised the Bells that she’ll investigate the unrest that haunts this ancient dwelling. Hoping to combine work and pleasure, she soon realises this is a far more complex case than she had ever imagined.

As events take a sinister turn, lives are in jeopardy. If the terrible secrets of Old Cross Cottage are ever to be unearthed, an entire village must dig up its past.

My review:

I am so happy to be able to review another one of Shani’s books and on its publication days too. This is a fourth book the in Psychic Surveys series, but a first one for me and it read well as a standalone novel.

As always I was not disappointed. Although this book hasn’t spooked me as much as the others, the story went along well and kept you guessing till the end. The village and the cottage itself were described so well I could really picture it in my head (plus I love the cover!).

When Ruby told her boyfriend Cash that she found a lovely Dorset cottage for week’s holiday, she holds back on the fact that the cottage is riddled with unsettled spirits and she was actually contacted by the owners to see if she could move them on.

Things start going wrong right from the start and it’s not long before both Ruby and Cash feel the presence of more than one spirit. As they start to unravel the history of the cottage they soon realise that this case might not be as easy to solve and that the whole village is somehow involved.

Fabulous spooky book from Shani Struthers and I can’t wait to read the others. I have book one and three and my kindle and will now read them as soon as I can. For anyone who likes to be kept on the edge of their seat with the unknown at the grasp of their fingers, these books are perfect.

Thank you to the author for spooking me once again and #TBConFB for access to this book in return for this honest review.

My rating: 5/5

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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

As You Lay Sleeping by Katlyn Duncan


I did it all for you…

Cara’s boyfriend is dead. When fingers start pointing at her, she knows she’s in more trouble than she originally thought. Because Cara can see that something isn’t right.

As her carefully constructed life begins to crumble, Cara isn’t sure who she is anymore.

But maybe that’s exactly what someone wants her to think…

My review:

When seventeen year old Cara finally answers the phone to her unwanted boyfriend she is relieved to hear that he wants to end their relationship. All she has to do is to go and see him for the last time. Unfortunately things don’t go to plan and Cara finds Joe dead.

When a detective starts digging into Joe’s death and an old friend Ryan turns up in town, Cara finds herself in the middle of her own investigation into the strange circumstances surrounding that awful night.

This is a YA crime novel and I found it written in a really good style that kept me interested throughout the book. Cara was a typical teenager trying to better herself, mixing with the high society. Ryan is a down to earth kid that somehow reminds Cara of who she really is and what is important in life.

The only thing slightly disappointing about this book is that I found the last few chapters quite rushed. I felt they were missing the attention to details that was so great in the rest of the novel.

Overall this is a great book, proper page turner and hugely recommended to all who like a bit of mystery and crime. It has some good elements of the upper classes and their abuse of power, money and drugs and on the other side the working class family, doing their best by their children.

Thank you to the author and #TBConFB for access to this book in return for this honest review.

My rating: 4/5

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Friday, 7 April 2017

After Anna by Alex Lake


A bone-chilling psychological thriller that will suit fans of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Daughter by Jane Shemilt, and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. 

A girl is missing. Five years old, taken from outside her school. She has vanished, traceless. The police are at a loss; her parents are beyond grief. Their daughter is lost forever, perhaps dead, perhaps enslaved. But the biggest mystery is yet to come: one week after she was abducted, their daughter is returned. She has no memory of where she has been. And this, for her mother, is just the beginning of the nightmare.

My review:

Once in a while I still like to get to my printed books. I have over three hundred at home and there are some real crackers amongst them. This was most certainly one of them. I bought this book because I liked the cover - impulse buy, some might call it, but I also read the blurb and thought it sounded good. My son is five so it felt quite close to home.

It’s fabulous. It reminds me of Little House by Philippa Gregory - the overbearing mother-in-law, the mummy’s boy husband, the strange goings on.

The novel is written in two ways with some short chapters written in first person that is kind of supporting the perpetrator and eggs him on. The rest is written in third person and it seems to work very well as you get know a lot about the main characters Julia and her husband Bryan and of course the strained dynamic of their relationship, but you are also somehow allowed a first seat row in the mind of the kidnapper.

It’s clever, with good little twists. I kind of guessed what was going on about third of the way through, however I still enjoyed the book till its last page. And I had to finish the last 100 pages in one sitting meaning much less sleep last night. But it was worth it.

If you like clever psychological thrillers than this is for you. I can highly recommend this book and it will be one to stay with me.

My rating: 5/5

Author’s Twitter: @Alexlakeauthor

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Monday, 3 April 2017

My Daddy The Serial Killer by Cindy Kovacik


Katelyn Deason was young, naive, and innocent at six years old.

That is, until she made the mistake of descending those cellar steps and viewing the first of many horrors down below.

You see, her father wasn't who she thought he was. He wasn't the loving and "normal" daddy that all the other kids had. He was very different.

She soon realizes how different as the years pass and unspeakable things begin to happen.

Will Katelyn be able to cling to her sanity after witnessing all of Daddy's horrors?

My review:

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from this novel and I must admit I wasn’t expecting it to be so evolved. It follows Katelyn from six years old when she first sees a woman tied to a chair ready for to be tortured by Katelyn’s father.

From then on the book follows Katelyn’s live and her adaption to the life her daddy serves up never having any friends until she’s a full grown teenager; then quickly following a life of drugs, sex and self-distraction.

What is intriguing is the complicated psychology of the relationship between a damaged child and her murderous father. They continue to play a game of cat and mouse throughout the book with Katelyn losing at nearly every corner.

This is certainly a book that will stay on my mind. It is very cleverly written with a real insight into a child’s mind.

A massive thanks you goes to the author for giving me access to this.

My rating: 4/5

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Friday, 31 March 2017

The Trophy Taker by Sarah Flint (DC Charlotte Stafford #2)


He keeps each one floating in formaldehyde to stop them from rotting. Each finger denotes a victim, tortured and butchered, their heart ripped out and discarded, replaced instead by symbols of their treachery. He sits alone admiring his trophies weekly; each and every one of them guilty in his eyes. And now more must pay.

But who or what links the victims?

DC 'Charlie' Stafford is already investigating a series of escalating racist attacks and it now seems she has a vicious serial killer on her patch. With no leads and time running out, the team at Lambeth are at near breaking point.

Something has to give... and all the while he's watching, waiting... and counting.

My review:

The Trophy Taker is a second book in the DC Charlie Stafford series and it certainly lives up to its first instalment. It’s clever, fast pacing and keeps you guessing until the end.

Charlie has been through the mill in the first book and seems somehow a little more mature in this novel.  When the call comes in about a mutilated body of a woman found displayed in a local graveyard, Charlie is already handling a case close to her heart, a case of a local racist junkie attacking residents of any colour different to his own skin. She gets herself involved deep into each case she handles and makes it her own personal job to deliver justice for the victims.

As Charlie and her team face this new case where nothing seems to link together, they once again prove that team work gets things done. We get little glimpses and notes of their personal lives and the author cleverly hints at the developing relationship between Charlie and Ben whom we have met in the first book.

Sarah Flint has a 35 years’ experience working as a Police Constable for the Metropolitan Police and it shows throughout her books. From the forensic evidence to all the members of the team and their behaviour, you can tell that this is written with an insider’s knowledge.

I cannot wait to see what is waiting for Charlie next. I really enjoyed both of the books and just wish someone would pick it up for TV adaptations. It would make a brilliant crime drama for those long winter nights.

A massive thank you goes to the author, publisher and NetGalley for giving me access to this.

My rating: 5/5

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Friday, 10 March 2017

Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart


Well hello to you dear browser. Now I have your attention it would be rude if I didn't tell you a little about my literary feast. So, here is the thing: is it just me or does anyone else find that adulthood offers no refuge from the unexpected horrors, peculiar lack of physical coordination and sometimes unexplained nudity, that accompanied childhood and adolescence? 

Does everybody struggle with the hazards that accompany, say, sitting elegantly on a bar stool; using chopsticks; pretending to understand the bank crisis; pedicures - surely it's plain wrong for a stranger to fondle your feet? Or is it just me? 

I am proud to say I have a wealth of awkward experiences - from school days to life as an office temp - and here I offer my 18-year-old self (and I hope you too dear reader) some much needed caution and guidance on how to navigate life's rocky path. 

Because frankly where is the manual? The much needed manual to life. Well, fret not, for this is my attempt at one and let's call it, because it's fun, a Miran-ual. I thank you.

My review:

Miranda Hart has managed to put a much needed smile on my face and actually made me laugh out loud in public.

I am a big fan of her comedy sketch show ‘Miranda’ and I do miss it terribly. She has a very natural sense of humour that appeals to all sorts of different walks of life.

In this book, Miranda picks on various subjects from everyday live including dating, weddings, diets etc. She also talks to her 18 year old self and illustrates really well how differently we feel at that age and how different reality looks when we grow up and have responsibilities.

I must admit that I enjoyed the first half of the book much more than the second half. As I was reading I could see Miranda and hear the words in my head being said in her voice. Then the book just kind of slowed down for me, hence the three stars.

I still enjoyed it though. It’s a brilliant holiday read, or something you pick up when you need a lift after a bad day at work, just to make sure that there really are people with the same trouble as you.

My rating: 3/5

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Thursday, 23 February 2017

Paris for One (and other stories) by Jojo Moyes


Bestselling author Jojo Moyes brings us a charming and heart-warming short story in association with Quick Reads.

Nell is twenty-six and has never been to Paris. She has never even been on a weekend away with her boyfriend. Everyone knows she is just not the adventurous type.

But, when her boyfriend doesn't turn up for their romantic mini-break, Nell has the chance to prove everyone wrong.

Alone in Paris, Nell meets the mysterious moped-riding Fabien and his group of carefree friends. Could this turn out to be the most adventurous weekend of her life?

My review:

I have always been a big fan of Jojo Moyes and I can honestly say she is one of my favourite authors so I was excited to be reading her newest book.

I needed to read something light and easy and this hit just the right spot. The main story ‘Paris for One’ is a heart-warming one, following Nell to Paris for a romantic getaway with her boyfriend. Only Nell actually finds herself alone, in a big city, knowing nothing of the language, customs or cuisine. And then she meets Fabian, the heartbroken writer-to-be.

I won’t spoil the rest of the story but it’s lovely and the characters are likable just like the main characters we know and love from any other of Jojo’s books.

The other short stories are easy to read and identify yourself with some of their characters and some have more surprising conclusions than others.

3 stars might seem harsh, but all they mean is that I enjoyed this book but feel that it is not as complex as Jojo’s other works. It is an uncomplicated novel asking to be read on holidays and spare time to cheer yourself up.

I am most grateful to the author, publisher and NetGalley for access to this book in return for this honest opinion.

My rating: 3/5

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Thursday, 9 February 2017

Queen of the Pine Curtain (The Seeker Series #1) by Barb Robertson


Claire’s peculiar grandmother warned her of the family curse but that’s when she was a child and believed in magic, Seventh tribes and Petal people. Not anymore.

Claire is a grown woman with adult problems. At twenty five, she’s devastated by a divorce that leaves her feeling unloved and used up. To top it off, she’s mentally unstable and forced to move in with her parents, which proves to be a disaster.

Memories start to surface which sets off a series of events both harrowing, heart-warming and disturbing. Magic, mayhem and madness collide when Claire faces the demons of her past, her hidden self and the family curse that may or may not exist.

This dark and magical novel delivers a portrait of southern life with wisecracking, moving characters and the discovery of faith in unexpected places. It provides a raw and revealing portrait of mental illness, its creative genius, and its destructive tentacles. Queen of the Pine Curtain is a psychological page turner chock full of family secrets, southern maladies and haunting redemption.

My review:

Firstly I would like to thank the author for contacting me with the request to review this book. 

This novel was most definitely a journey for me. All throughout Part 1 I felt confused and wasn’t sure I actually liked the book. It was clear that Claire had mental health issues and was trying to get help, but as she was going through her mind, her inner house and memories, she was making my head spin. I felt as disjointed from reality as she was.

Then Part 2 hit me like a storm. As Claire starts to understand herself, her inner being starts to reveal forgotten incidents from the past that shaped Claire into who she became. Uncomfortable memories come to the surface and explain the majority of issues Claire experiences as a growing child and adult.

In the end I found myself rooting for Claire. Anyone with experience of mental health issues would have a good understanding of what was happening to her, but you don’t have to be a specialist to understand her journey. Even though she would disagree - Claire is a fighter.

The author has transformed Claire’s messed up mind into a moving collection of rooms in an inner house, with child Claire taking the adult Claire on a journey of remembrance and rediscovery. All characters were well placed and even the minor ones had a definitive place in the story.

This novel took me longer than usual to read due to its complexity and really, the heaviness of the subject. But it was so worth reading. I feel like I need a holiday now, but I certainly won’t forget about this book in a hurry.

My rating: 5/5

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Thursday, 19 January 2017

Ledston Luck by Andrew Barrett (Eddie Collins #4) #blogtour

First of all a huge thank you to Andrew Barrett and Caroline for giving me a chance to be part of this blog tour and read Andrew's brilliant novel.  


They say you can always trust a copper. They’re lying.

They lied thirty years ago and they’re still lying today.

A booby-trapped body in a long-abandoned chapel. A scene examination that goes horribly wrong. CSI Eddie Collins and DI Benson are injured and one of the team killed. Eddie is heartbroken and guilt-ridden. And angry.

To find out who the killer is, they must discover the motive. Their breakthrough comes when two young burglars disappear in the village of Ledston Luck. Eddie picks a fight with the wrong man, and is suspended from duty. But he can’t let go of the investigation. He finds the secrets behind a thirty-year-old murder and comes face to face with the killer – on the wrong end of a shotgun.

My review:

I have read a few crime books now and thoroughly enjoyed them, but it is just so exciting to be reading a novel written by someone with true, real live experience, someone who has the expertise to be able to write in detail and correct context.

Andrew Barrett has the best insider knowledge of protocols, rules and the day to day live of Crime Scene Investigators (CSIs) as he has been on the job for over 30 years; so it hasn’t come to me as too big of a surprise that this book was so good.

But ‘good’ doesn’t do it justice. It’s brilliant, clever and keeps you guessing all the way through. This book is a work of genius and experience. It can be read as a standalone novel; however I will now purchase the first three books in the series, because I feel like I have missed out on something here.

Eddie Collins is not your typical likeable character. Actually, he’s an irritating, rude and an arrogant ass. But he has his reasons and is respected for his abilities and instincts working as a CSI in West Yorkshire Police. When his colleague dies on a job and Eddie gets injured, he makes it his priority to catch whoever is behind the growing number of bodies lying in the mortuary. He is ruthless, rule-breaking and anger driven individual, but with all the right reasons.

He has to unravel decades of crime and secrets to stop the serial killer and it costs his friends, his job and nearly his life.

One character in the book I must not forget is Eddie’s father Charles. He is sort of in the background but on more than one occasion he manages to open his son’s eyes to possibilities around these crime, that Eddie might have not seen himself. They have a proper love-hate relationship, but underneath all their arguments and harsh words, they really do care about each other.

As you can hopefully tell from my review I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will definitely look out for the author again.

Thank you so much to the author for including me in this blog tour and for allowing me the access to this book in return for an honest review.

My rating: 5/5

About the author:

Andrew Barrett is a Best-selling Author and Senior CSI based in Yorkshire. He brings all his knowledge and expertise from his years in Forensics into his writing.

Andrew Barrett has been writing best-selling thrillers since the mid 1990s, all set in northern England. He's also written several short stories, and co-written a number of television scripts and despite all that is still reasonably sane.

Andrew's novels focus on the world of Crime Scene Investigators (CSIs). He offers a unique insight into this dark landscape, making good use of his expertise as a Senior CSI to envelop the reader in exciting yet realistic stories.

Included in each story are elements of dark humour (he'd be totally insane without the humour), and severe emotional highs and lows. So be prepared.

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