Thursday, 31 July 2014

Review: Sweet Talk Me by Kieran Kramer

***** - 5 Stars

Before receiving a copy of this book from Netgalley I had never even heard Kieran Kramer but the blurb sounded good and boy I am so glad that I requested it. I fell in love with the book from the very beginning.

The Blurb

He’s sure got a way with words…

The last person True Maybank expected to run into while picking up her wedding gown was country music superstar Harrison Gamble. Years ago, when they were small-town teens in Biscuit Creek, South Carolina, they shared a forbidden night of passion. Now that she’s about to settle down, True’s love affair with the handsome crooner is a thing of the past. Or is it? From the moment he says hello, she has to fight swooning like an adoring fan.

Can she resist his charms?

Today he’s rich, famous, and on every woman’s hot list. But back in the day, Harrison wasn’t good enough for debutante True. Since then she’s had her fair share of marital prospects, including the perfect Southern gentleman she’s about to settle down with. Is Harrison the only one to realize the mistake True’s about to make? Can the society girl and the sexy singer make music together—this time around?

My Thoughts

This book reads just like it should be a film, a romantic comedy where boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy attempts to win girl back in an inevitable love triangle. It is a tried and tested formula but this book had that little something extra. That little something extra comes in the form of Harrison Gamble, boy from the wrong side of town who has made a name for himself in the world of Country music. A bad boy, full of Southern charm who regrets leaving True behind when he left Biscuit Creek all those years ago.

I loved the plot and the setting. Kieran Kramer, had me wanting to live in Biscuit Creek and not just to be close to Harrison. The town has a quaintness and a wonderful cast of characters that made me feel a little like I had just walked onto the set of Hart of Dixie. True & Harrison had been best friends growing up and things fell apart after a one night stand and Harrison left town. He bumps into True after she has picked up her wedding dress and both of them realise the attraction is still there.

True Maybank, is a head strong, sassy Southern belle who never ended up with Harrison because her parents didn't think he was good enough so she stuck with the safe option that comes in the form of husband to be, Dubose Waring. Dubose is from a prominent wealthy family, True's high school sweetheart and quarterback on the football team and with her parents both deceased True feels obligated to follow their wishes and marry Dubose. She insists that she loves him and spends a lot of time throughout the book convincing herself of that.

This was one of those books where I felt totally invested in what was going to happen to the characters and was willing True to make the right decision over her upcoming wedding. I loved Harrison & True's siblings, Gage and Weezie both a little quirky and unique. The two of them really helped to add to the tensions in the relationship between Harrison & True.

Overall this book was a sweet romantic comedy with the right blend of sass, humour & country music that made it a truly magical read.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Review: The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh

**** - 4 Stars

I was really excited to get my hands on a copy of this book as it seems to have been all over Twitter & looked to be THE summer read. The cover is gorgeous & definitely one that makes you want to pick it up & the book synopsis sounds perfect for a summer read especially with the heat we have been having the last couple of weeks

The Blurb

One hot summer. One week in a villa on the outskirts of Deia, a village nestling in the rugged, mountainous west coast of the island of Mallorca. One family for whom the carefully laid jigsaw of life is about to be broken.

Jenn and her husband Greg holiday each year in Deia, enjoying languorous afternoons by the pool. But this year the equilibrium is upset by the arrival of Emma, Jenn's stepdaughter, and her boyfriend Nathan. Beautiful and reckless, Nathan stirs something unexpected in Jenn. As she is increasingly seduced by the notion of Nathan's youth and the promise of passion, the line between desire and obsession begins to blur. What follows is a highly-charged liaison that put lives and relationships in jeopardy, and a taut narrative which percolates with enough sexual tension to make it impossible to put down.

My Thoughts

I must admit I was a little bit disappointed with this book but I think that is probably due to the raised expectations with this book being everywhere. Walsh's writing is beautiful in setting the scene & I could almost smell the sea and taste the lemon grove. I could imagine myself on that sun lounger by the pool although my top would have been firmly on. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed the book, morally it didn't sit quite right with me perhaps because I am the mother of 2 teenage daughters but it was well written and Walsh had a way of drawing you in. I'm not a prude but at times the sex scenes did make me feel a little uncomfortable perhaps if Nathan had been older the 17 say 25 it would have sat better with me. There is no doubt that the book sizzles with sexual tension though and it is a real page turner

I've been trying to remember the last time I read a book where I really didn't like any of the characters yet still enjoyed the book. It was probably Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn but with that book I loved to hate Amy and I ended up feeling a little sorry for Nick.I really didn't warm to any of the characters, Emma came across as a spoilt brat, I'm not sure I got the appeal of Nathan, Greg was a little blah so I guess I can see why Jenn's head was turned and as for Jenn whilst at times I did feel for her I just didn't connect with her. There was however something very readable about the book, perhaps the anticipation of whether Jenn & Nathan would be caught out and it did end on rather an intriguing note

What I have found really interesting is reading other reviews of this book. It is definitely a marmite book that has people either loving it or hating it. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground. So go read if for yourself which camp will you sit in:the lovers or the haters?

For me it was a perfect lose yourself, summer beach read.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Review: Come Back To Me by Mila Gray

***** 5 Stars

Oh this was such a sweet, emotional story about the heady days of first love and what happens when a tragedy tears that apart.

I had never read anything by this author before or under her other name of Sarah Alderson but from the emotional opening scene I was hooked and desperate to find out who died.

The Blurb

Home on leave in sunny California, Marine and local lothario Kit Ryan finds himself dangerously drawn to his best friend's sister, Jessa - the one girl he can't have.

But Kit's not about to let a few obstacles stand in his way and soon Jessa's falling for his irresistible charms.

What starts out as a summer romance of secret hook-ups and magical first times quickly develops into a passionate love affair that turns both their worlds upside down.

When summer's over and it's time for Kit to redeploy, neither Kit nor Jessa are ready to say goodbye. Jessa's finally following her dreams and Kit's discovered there's someone he'd sacrifice everything for.

Jessa's prepared to wait for Kit no matter what. But when something more than distance and time rips them apart they're forced to decide whether what they have is really worth fighting for.

A breathtaking, scorchingly hot story about love, friendship, family and finding your way back from the edge of heartbreak.

My Thoughts

Come Back To Me truly took me on an emotional roller coaster, it opens with Jessa answering the door to learn that either her boyfriend Kit or her brother Riley(both marines) has died whilst out in Afghanistan. The opening scene is an emotional one and sets the story up beautifully for us to see Kit and Jessa fall in love and builds us up to the heartache that is about to unfold. As you read the book you know that either Kit or Riley is going to die and that just helps to build the emotion and make the book a real page turner.

I loved that the book is told from both Kit & Jessa's point of view, it added a greater depth to the story and strengthened the intensity of the relationship between the two of them. Add to that the fact that they are in a forbidden relationship and you have true Romeo & Juliet type romance. Not only is Jessa is the younger sister of Kit's best friend Riley there is also history between their fathers so an undercurrent of tension ripples throughout the book.

'It's one of the best places in California for stargazing' I say, though I'm yet to look at the stars. Next to Jessa they kind of pale. Who wouldn't want someone feeling that way about them *sigh*

This book is powerful, emotional, heartbreaking, sexy and at times funny and took me right back to the days of my first love and the intensity of that relationship. I was so sucked in by the book that I actually found myself talking out loud to the characters a couple of times, willing them to make different decisions.

I have nothing but praise for this book and I think one of the reasons I loved it so much is because I opened it with no expectations and that resulted in a real gem of a read. The book had a touch of Nicholas Sparks to it so I would highly recommend it to readers who loved his book Dear John.

Thanks to NetGalley & Pan MacMillan for the ARC of this book

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Blog Tour: Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered - Having Fun With Witchcraft!

I grew up loving Sabrina the Teenage Witch and being named Samantha always did wonder if I could just twitch my nose so today I am very happy to be hosting Kerry Barrett author of Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered who is going to share with how she has fun with witchcraft.

Having Fun With Witchcraft!

I have always wanted to be like Samantha in Bewitched. The amount of times I’ve stood at Charing Cross station, staring at the departure board showing delay after delay, and wished I could twitch my nose and be home in an instant. Or shut the front door behind me, only to remember Ive left my keys on the kitchen table and longed to waggle my fingers and have them appear in my bag.
Not being a witch, Ive obviously never had much luck with this approach. In fact, my old flatmate and I were obsessed with the film Practical Magic back in the 90s. We watched it over and over and decided whatever Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman could do, we could do better. So we bought some candles and decided to cast a spell.
What we actually did, was almost burn the flat down and set all the smoke alarms off – so our little brush with witchcraft didnt last long!
After that I decided the best way to have fun with magic was with words. One day, I sat down and wrote: I can't remember when I first realised my mother was a witch.
In actual fact, I soon got rid of the (dreadful!) first line Id written, but the characters Esme and Harry remained. Esme is the heroine of my first book Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered – and her cousin Harmony – known as Harry – is the star of my second novel I Put A Spell On You.
Esme and Harry are witches. Esme is reluctant to embrace the powers she’s been blessed with, while Harry eat, sleeps and breathes witchcraft.
Both of them though can waggle their fingers and make things happen. Esme can catch the barman’s eye, clean the kitchen in a flash, and conjure up a curry. Harry can call up the perfect outfit, listen in on conversations, and sort out plumbing problems.
But you know what? Being able to do – well, everything – gets boring too. And that’s when I started having fun. Putting my heroines in situations where their magic just can’t help them. For Esme, in Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, it’s a sick relative and a family crisis. For Harry, in I Put A Spell On You, it’s someone who’s out to get her. And in the third book in the series, which I’m writing right now, it’s the weather.
Its a lot of fun putting the women into situations where their magic can help or hinder them and to be honest – given my track record – its probably a lot safer too!

The Author 

Kerry Barrett was a bookworm from a very early age, devouring Enid Blyton and Noel Streatfield, before moving on to Sweet Valley High and 1980s bonkbusters. 

She did a degree in English Literature, then trained as a journalist, writing about everything from pub grub to EastEnders. Her first novel, Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, took six years to finish and was mostly written in longhand on her commute to work, giving her a very good reason to buy beautiful notebooks. 

Kerry lives in London with her husband and two sons, and Noel Streatfield's Ballet Shoes is still her favourite novel.

The Book

A Kind of Magic 

Part-time witch, full-time glamorous high-flyer Esme Mcleod rubs shoulders with celebrities for a living, has a sort-of-boyfriend …and just enough magic in her fingertips to solve life’s little irritations; why shouldn’t she cast a little spell to catch the busy barman’s attention, or to summon a latte to aid her all-nighters? 

Called back to her small Scottish home town and meddling family, stiletto-clad Esme is way out of her comfort zone… But Esme must embrace her abilities as a witch, or watch her family lose their beloved cafĂ©. 

Except Esme has never claimed to be a whizz at witchcraft, and her charms are starting to go awry - she certainly never meant to cast a love spell on her ex-boyfriend Jamie! It’s time for urgent lessons in magic as well as love – it seems there’s only so much that muttering a few words over cupcake batter will fix…


Buy from Amazon UK

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Review: Forever, Jack by Natasha Boyd

***** 5 Stars

I read the first Eversea book in one sitting and was so happy that I had book two Forever, Jack ready to go because boy did Natasha Boyd leave us on a cliffhanger. I had to restrain myself at 2 in the morning from starting this one as soon as I finished Eversea. Well ok I may have read a few pages before I couldn't stay awake any longer.
So at the end of Eversea we are left with Jack returning to his girlfriend and totally breaking Keri Anne's heart but all is not as it seems.

The Blurb

A feisty small-town girl and the Hollywood star who broke her heart

An all-consuming love threatened by fame

One last chance at FOREVER

Keri Ann Butler's life changed on the night she met movie star, Jack Eversea. She thought she knew a Jack that was very different to the man adored by fans the world over. In the wake of his betrayal and abandonment, Keri Ann has had to pick up and move forward with the life she was supposed to live and has put off far too long.

Suddenly Jack is back, and his explanations for why he left seem more and more plausible, and his declarations more seductive. But being Jack's latest tabloid accessory isn't on Keri Ann's career agenda, no matter how much she is attracted to him. And how can she can ever trust him again?

Jack knows he let the only 'real' thing that ever happened to him slip through his fingers. And his hands have been tied to try and stop it. Until Now.

Jack is now fighting to save his relationship with Keri Ann, even as his crazy life threatens to tear them apart. Again. The question is, can he convince her she can have it all? And have him? Forever?

My Thoughts

I was sucked straight back into Keri Anne and Jack's worlds immediately. The story picks up 5 months after Jack left Butler Cove Island to return to his pregnant girlfriend, Audrey. Except she has betrayed him in the worse possible way and told a lie just to make him go back to her. On learning of the deception he immediately sets out back to Keri Ann but Audrey is still in control and makes it impossible for him to do so. So here we are 5 months later Jack is finally in a position to head back to Butler Cove and see Keri Anne and to try and explain what happened, except when he sees her she is with a new man.

It becomes apparent that Jack has kept out of Keri Anne's life because he has been protecting her from the media fallout that has been brewing around their relationship. And for that very reason you just have to love Jack just a little bit more. 

I loved that this book was also told from the point of view of Jack. It was great to see his feelings and thoughts on the page and to learn so much more about him as a person. Jack just wants to to the right thing by Keri Anne and it certainly looks as though she has moved on with her life. And oh my reading the pages from his journal was truly heartbreaking.

Keri Anne is still the same strong, feisty character that we saw in Eversea except she has now began to make a name for herself in the art world and has been unsuccessfully trying to forget about Jack. She has found herself and began to move into a world that doesn't just include Butler Cove.

This book centres on Jack trying to win Keri Anne back and he will stop at nothing to do so. Even when she tells him that if he loves her he will let her go because she knows that their two worlds just won't mix he still continues to fight for her. Everything just seems to be against them and that all just adds to the intensity of this book.

Once again Natasha Boyd has written a beautiful, captivating read full of heartache and possibilities. So Natasha, if you are reading this then please tell me that you are going to write a book 3?

Thanks to Headline Eternal for the ARC of this book.

Published by Headline Eternal- 19th June 2014
Buy from Amazon

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Review: Eversea by Natasha Boyd

Oh my what to say about this book. I was just swept along and devoured it in one sitting. 
I decided to read the book after seeing it compared to books by Nicholas Sparks and Jamie McGuire and I must say it didn't disappoint. I was very lucky to receive this as an ARC from Headline Eternal.

The Blurb

An orphaned, small-town, southern girl, held hostage by responsibility and self-doubt.

A Hollywood A-list mega-star, on the run from his latest scandal and with everything to lose.

A chance encounter that leads to an unlikely arrangement and epic love affair that will change them both for ever.

As powerful as the pounding surf, as intoxicating as the sea breeze, this is one love affair you won't be able to forget about...

My Thoughts

Ok,so where to start with this book as there is just so much about it that I don't seem to be able to put into words. First off I think I just need to say that the synopsis of this book just doesn't do it justice as it makes it sound like a cliched, Cinderella story and it really isn't.

We meet our heroine, strong and feisty Keri Anne Butler who has been left behind in the small seaside town of Butler Cove Island whilst her brother Joey is off finishing his degree. She is working in the local bar and struggling to renovate her family home and return it back to its former glory. One night she bumps into Hollywood star, Jack Eversea who is looking for somewhere to hide out away from the paparazzi after it comes out that his actress girlfriend has been cheating on him.The pair strike up an unlikely friendship which ultimately leads to an unlikely love affair.

There are just so many things I loved about this book. I adored Keri Anne she wasn't your normal female lead in this kind of book. She is a strong, independent woman struggling to discover who she really is. She battles with her desire for Jack knowing deep down that their two worlds just don't mix. She doesn't take any nonsense and stands her ground.She was a very real and believable character and I was just rooting for her to find the happiness she so deserves after so much heartbreak. She is a reader and spends her life wrapped up in books which I can totally relate to. And it just so happens that Jack Eversea is the actor who has been responsible for bringing her fictional book hero to life on the big screen. It is no surprise that she can't stop herself falling for him.

Then there is the setting of the book. I have a thing for books set in the Low Country, there is just something about them and I am desperate to go visit the Carolinas. Boyd, had a way of making me feel I was actually there and I would love to be a resident of Butler Cove. And then there were turtles in the book, I just love turtles. I learned about sea-turtles after reading Mary Alice Monroe's Beach House series and then spent ages watching them at SeaWorld in Florida last year.

The secondary characters are great too. Keri's best friend Jazz comes across as fun and really compliments the more serious side of Keri Ann.Then there is Keri Anne's brother, Joey who feels very responsible for leaving his sister on her own to fend for herself and also very protective of her. Not to mention the fact that Jazz and Joey used to be an item.

And lastly there is Jack.This book has the total swoon factor and that comes in the form of Jack Eversea. Yes he is a dreamy Hollywood A-lister, too good looking for his own good but there was so much more depth to Jack. He has a tragic past and is running from his childhood, he hides behind his Hollywood status when all he really wants to be is normal and to be loved. 

This book was beautifully written and had me captivated right from the start. I was totally lost in the world of Jack and Kerri-Anne for a few blissful hours and oh my what a cliffhanger at the end. Natasha Boyd certainly leaves us wanting more.

So really all that is left to say is Where can I find me a Jack?

Published by Headine Eternal 19th June 2014
Buy from Amazon

Monday, 21 July 2014

Review: Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I absolutely loved The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty and it is one of those books that I have been actively recommending to the 13+ reading groups that use my library and just about any other person I thought might be interested. It was one of those books that had so many discussion points and overlapping storylines so I was really pleased to see that Liane had a new book coming out at the end of this month. I was even more excited to win an ARC from Penguin Books in a Twitter competition that allowed me to read the new book early.

The Blurb

She could hear men and women shouting. Angry hollers crashed through the soft humid salty summer night. It was somehow hurtful for Mrs Ponder to hear, as if all that rage was directed at her . . . then she heard the wail of a siren in the distance, at the same time as a woman still inside the building began to scream and scream . . .

When a harmless quiz night ends with an act of shocking violence, the parents of Pirriwee Public School can't seem to stop their secrets from finally spilling out. Rumours ripple through the small town, as truth and lies blur to muddy the story of what really happened on that fateful night

My Thoughts

So the book starts with us meeting Mrs Ponder and her cat Marie-Antoinette who lives right next door to Pirriwee Public School and can hear the fall out from whatever is happening at the quiz night. These few pages set the scene for what is going to happen when we learn at the end of the chapter that there is going to be a murder investigation. Immediately you want to know just what has happened at that quiz night!!

The book centres around three mothers all with children starting kindergarten and a cast of other parents and teachers. First me meet Madeline MacKenzie on her 40th birthday, she is the mother to Chloe and Fred and also has 14 year old Alice from a previous marriage. She is on her way to take Chloe to her kindergarten orientation when she has an accident and is helped by young single mum, Jane Chapman who is new to the area and the mother of Ziggy. The pair immediately hit it off, add into the mix Madeline's best friend the beautiful Celeste who is mother to twins Max and Josh and we have one of the teams in The Mummy wars. Leading the other side is Renata Lamont, high flying business woman and mother to Amabella and Jackson. There is no love lost between Renata and Madeline and an incident at orientation just leads to more problems with secrets unravelling as Moriarty leads us to what happened on that fateful quiz night

I truly loved this book and it was one of those books that I could just not put down. It sucked me in from that opening chapter when we learn that someone has died and that the police are treating it as murder. The book is full of interesting and quirky characters including Bonnie (Madeline's ex husbands new wife), Tim(the hot barista), Harper( a team Renata mother) and Perry
(Celeste's controlling husband)

The book covers a wide range of emotive topics from assualt to domestic violence to how to get on with your ex-husband and his new wife. It is entertaining and witty and totally believable. I have experienced the same playground politics that we see in Little Lies so I could totally relate to characters like Jane. At one point I too was a young mum who people thought was the nanny. There is a darkness to this book, full of malicious gossip and intrigue like just who is Ziggy's father, who is having an affair with who. 

I just love Moriarty's writing style and I loved all of the characters in this book including the ones you love because you hate them. Just when you think you have it all worked out Liane hits you with a great big twist and things just aren't what they seem.

I strongly suggest that you grab yourself a copy of this book when it comes out you won't be disappointed.

Published by Penguin. Due out 31st July 2014
Buy from Amazon

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Series Spotlight: Alex Cross by James Patterson

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my love for book series and said that I was going to start blogging weekly about the series I have read/am reading.

So first up we have the Alex Cross series by James Patterson. I've chosen this one as along with Patricia Cornwell's Dr Scarpetta series this one of the first series I ever started reading. These days I do like to start with the first book in the series but back in 1990s when I first discovered James Patterson I started the Alex Cross series with Kiss The Girls (book 2) as I has seen the film with Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd and loved the plot.Plus I hadn't realised that it was part of a series. Normally I much prefer to read the book before watching the film but these was years ago and whilst I was a reader I didn't read anywhere near as many books as I do now. 

Once I'd finished Kiss the Girls I was hooked and set about getting my hands on every Alex Cross book I could find. At the time there were only 4 other Alex Cross books out there so once I had flown through all of those I then I had to sit and wait for the next book in the series. The trouble is Patterson only writes one Alex Cross book a year so every year I am eagerly awaiting the next Cross book. Of course then the problem I have is that I can quite easily sit and read an Alex Cross book in an evening which means I have waited a year and it is all over and done with so quickly.

Alex Cross is one of my favourite characters in a book. He is a smart, family man who is set on ridding the world of some of the worst serial killers you will ever meet. He has been with the FBI, been a detective and eventually ends up with a private psychology practice still working with the police. He lives with his family in Washington DC and is one of those characters you can't help liking because of his strong values and his need to do good.

I know a lot of people don't like the fact that Patterson churns out so many books a year and writes books with other authors but this is the only series of books that he writes alone and I think that for me is why Alex Cross is perhaps his strongest character.We are now on book 21 Cross My Heart with book 22 Hope To Die due out in November this year.

What is it that makes this series so successful? 

It's characters are wonderful and I feel that I have grown up with them over the years that I have been reading the series. You have Alex's grandmother Regina Cross, affectionately known to all as Nana Mama. She has pretty much raised Alex and is now helping him raise his own children. There is such a strong bond between these two that is impossible not to want Nana Mama to take you under her wing.

Then there is John Sampson, Alex's childhood friend who is also a detective. John is always there to protect Alex and his family.

Alex has 3 children who through reading the books I have seen grow up. Damon is the eldest and we see him move from boy to man as he heads off to university in the later books. Then we have Janelle, Alex's daughter who has a bit of a smart mouth and then his youngest son, Alex. 

There have been plenty of love interests for Alex over the years. His wife Maria is killed before the first book and that is something that Alex carries with him. He really doesn't have a lot of luck with the ladies until he marries Bree Stone in the later books, she is also a detective so understands the pressures of his job. In fact whilst he doesn't have much luck with the ladies it could be said some don't have much luck with him often ending up dead at the hands of a mad man.

So if you are looking for a series that whisks you off for a few hours of mindless reading with good overcoming evil then I strongly suggest you pick up Along Came A Spider

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Blog Tour: Lyndsay Faye's Passionate Writing:How To Tack Your Heart On Your Sleeve

I am currently reading Lyndsay's second Timothy Wilde book 'Seven For A Secret', a novel tagged as 1846: KIDNAP, MURDER, LOVE AND BETRAYAL  ON THE LAWLESS STREETS OF NEW YORK and I'm very lucky to be hosting the author herself at Tigerlily Books today. Lyndsay is going to share with us how she wears her heart on her sleeve when it comes to her writing.

The Author

Lyndsay was born in 1980. She worked as an actor doing professional theatre for ten years before turning to writing. In the course of her acting career, she went to college in the Bay Area, learned how to sing, moved to NYC with her husband, and had a ferociously, indecently great time. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Dust and Shadow: an Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H Watson and The Gods of Gotham and is a member of The Baker Street Babes, Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes, and The Baker Street Irregulars. For more infomation on Lyndsay, go to

The Article

The first book I ever penned (typed on a laptop, but let’s allow a little romantic leeway where verbs are concerned) was about Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, a pair of characters I have unabashedly loved since my childhood Dust and Shadow set them the herculean task of solving the Jack the Ripper murders, and I did terrible things to both my protagonists in order to heighten suspense both emotionally and physically: I stabbed Holmes, for starters, ruined his reputation, set an angry Whitechapel mob on him, and caused him to feel directly culpable for defenseless women being slaughtered.  I did all of this because I love him to pieces, and thus—conversely, I grant—making the man suffer seemed like a brilliant plan.
            The Timothy Wilde books (The Gods of Gotham and my latest, Seven for a Secret) were a trickier matter entirely, and a long time in coming.  A gap of some two years divided my first book from my second.  See, I got it into my head somehow that I should write serious historical novels about people with repressed, decorous feelings, and that these people and their feelings should be drawn obliquely, artfully, like a minimalist painting or a bonsai tree, and then I would have written an “important” book that got on “important” book lists made by people who thought that Nabokov’s works were a little pedestrian for their tastes.
            Yes, absolutely, I was an idiot.
            My work during that time period might well have included some super-great, shiny writing, and possibly similes as brilliant, pure, and cutting as the finest diamonds.  Whatever.  No one bought those books, and now I know exactly why no one bought those books; my heart might well have been in them, of course it was.  But it wasn’t visible.
            When I wrote Seven for a Secret, I was very angry.  I was angry about complacent people in the United States telling me that racism under the Obama administration was over, and we could all go home, and get rid of voter protection laws.  Racism is alive and well and living in our schools and our communities and our politics.  Seven for a Secret is about vigilante African Americans fighting back against the system (yes, it was systematized) of white slave catchers simply grabbing a person of color by the collar in the middle of the road, declaring that person was an escaped slave, and hauling that helpless city dweller down South to be sold to a plantation.  Twelve Years a Slave, an autobiography by Solomon Northrup before it was turned into an Oscar-winning film, tells the other side of the coin I wished to mint: I wanted to tell a true story, historically sourced, about people who escaped with their lives and their names.
            Trying to write a book from a place of apathy or sadness is extremely difficult, but doable.  Trying to write a book that is “art” is next door to impossible—you either write the best and truest book you can, or you don’t, and then it’s either good, or it isn’t.  Trying to write a book from a place of anger is fairly simple, however, and anger is one of the more fiery human passions, so writing a book about something that made me incandescent with pique over modern dismissal of global race problems was not the most difficult challenge ever presented to me; words just kind of kept tumbling onto my laptop screen.
            Anyone accusing me of caring a bit too ardently about politics and the consequences of poor administrative decisions would be correct, but alongside the anger I felt about a specific problem (racial injustice), I have other preoccupations I worked into the narrative, aspects of human nature that will never fail to fascinate me (courage and kindness and cruelty and unconditional love).  When I realized after a couple of failed book attempts that I needed to put up or shut up, I looked in the mirror and admitted to myself that no one reads my fiction because it’s abstruse or postmodern.  The lovely people who read my fiction do so because when I attempt to convey aspects of life I honestly find ugly or beautiful, and I force myself to do so with my heart on the tips of my fingers, some of those words end up in print.
            Words along the heated lines of:
The space Mercy’s absence created in me was a voracious hole.  Not a neutral erasure, but a gleaming black bonfire.  Had I taken a keek in my chest, I’d have seen bluish flames skittering along ribbons of ebony pitch.  The sensation was pretty specific.

            Since moving to New York City ten years ago, I have seen every single production by the Public Theatre produced for their free Shakespeare in the Park program.  Shakespeare is an early love of mine, and it’s Shakespeare who returned me to sanity when it comes to passionate writing.  His characters rail, whimper, weep, laugh, bellow, plead, ache, mock, and love, and they perform many other verbs equally as telling.  And while I ought to have stuck to the model I used in Dust and Shadow and caused my new characters to run the full gamut of visible emotional highs and lows from the outset, ultimately I’m glad of the journey.  Because if I can expose my heart to my readers now, and express the struggles I faced, then anyone can take a stab at the same, and who knows what the marvelous results might be?

            Write from your heart, for your heart.  There is no better advice that I can deliver.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Review:Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich

When you're not feeling well you need to turn to a trusted author who you know is going to provide you with a great 'pick me up' read which is why this week when I woke up on day 3 without my voice I turned to Stephanie Plum to offer me some comfort. 

Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich is book 21(the clue is in the title!) in the Stephanie Plum series. For those who haven't read an SP book yet, Stephanie is a female bounty hunter living in Trenton, New Jersey who always ends up in trouble in the most comical of ways. 

The Blurb

Catch a professional assassin: top priority. Find a failure-to-appear and collect big bucks: top score. How she’ll pull it all off: top secret.

Trenton, New Jersey’s favorite used-car dealer, Jimmy Poletti, was caught selling a lot more than used cars out of his dealerships. Now he’s out on bail and has missed his date in court, and bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is looking to bring him in. Leads are quickly turning into dead ends, and all too frequently into dead bodies. Even Joe Morelli, the city’s hottest cop, is struggling to find a clue to the suspected killer’s whereabouts. These are desperate times, and they call for desperate measures. So Stephanie is going to have to do something she really doesn’t want to do: protect former hospital security guard and general pain in her behind Randy Briggs. Briggs was picking up quick cash as Poletti’s bookkeeper and knows all his boss’s dirty secrets. Now Briggs is next on Poletti’s list of people to put six feet under.

To top things off, Ranger—resident security expert and Stephanie’s greatest temptation—has been the target of an assassination plot. He’s dodged the bullet this time, but if Ranger wants to survive the next attempt on his life, he’ll have to enlist Stephanie’s help and reveal a bit more of his mysterious past.

Death threats, highly trained assassins, highly untrained assassins, and Stark Street being overrun by a pack of feral Chihuahuas are all in a day’s work for Stephanie Plum. The real challenge is dealing with her Grandma Mazur’s wild bucket list. A boob job and getting revenge on Joe Morelli’s Grandma Bella can barely hold a candle to what’s number one on the list—but that’s top secret

My Thoughts

So as I said this is Stephanie's 21st outing and yes whilst the story is often predictable you can't help but love SP and the catastrophic situations she finds herself in. The normal cast of characters are back, Lula with her fantastic lycra outfits and her appetite for both hot men and food, Grandma Mazur and her bucket list that includes seeing Ranger naked(can't say I blame her!) and then Stephanie is still torn between the two men in her life Ranger and Joe Morelli. I still can't decide who I want her to end up with. 

In this book Ranger's life is on the line as an old enemy is causing him problems and I loved how we saw the softer side of both his and Steph's relationship when she tries to help him catch the bad guy. The plot was good and as always full of comedy which was just what I needed week to help me while away a few hours. Overall the book was a quick fun read allowing me time with one of my favourite leading ladies and two of my book boyfriends.

Thanks to Headline for the ARC
Published by Headline Review- 17th June 2014
Buy from Amazon

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Mythical Maze - Summer Reading Challenge

I am very lucky to be in my dream job. I'm a library manager & a rather large part of my job is around engaging with children & encouraging them to read for both pleasure and learning. Today is one of the biggest days of my work year the launch day of the Summer Reading Challenge delivered by The Reading Agency. 

Each year the challenge has a different theme, last year it was Creepy House and this year it is Mythical Maze and boy have we been having a lot of fun with this year's theme. The artwork this year is amazing with some really fun mythical characters including a mermaid, a unicorn, a yeti and my personal favourite the Minotaur who comes complete with pink fluffy bunny slippers. The aim of the challenge is for children aged 
4-11 years to visit the library 6 times over the summer to borrow a book each time. On each of their 6 visits they get free gifts & rewards, this year we have troll pencil toppers & giant spider erasers as well as stickers, bookmarks, key rings plus they get their medal & certificate when they finish. 

Part of my job has been going into local primary schools to deliver assemblies telling the children about the challenge and I have also been working on recruiting young volunteers aged 14-18 years to help support the delivery of the challenge. 

The other fun part of the Summer Reading Challenge is that I can dress up and be silly, and it is absolutely ok because the kids love it. For example I've been wearing pretty fairy wings and it's totally ok. And I've even been wearing an Ariel wig and guess what that's ok as well.

So why am I sharing this on my blog I hear you ask? Well it is all about books & reading so it fits but I am also going to challenge myself over the summer to read 6 children's & young adult books over the Summer months. My 6 books are:

1. The Sword of Kuromori by Jason Rohan 

This is written by a local author. It is his debut book & features Japanese myths & legends

2. Dragon Frontier by Dan Abnett

Dragons and the Wild West what more could you want. This was one of the books short listed at the Hillingdon Primary School Book of the Year. The winning presentation from a local school was on this book and the kids were so enthusiastic about it I have to give it a go

3. Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban by J K Rowling 

A great opportunity for me to read the 3rd Harry Potter

4. Percy Jackson & The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan 

Loved the first book in this series & it ties in perfectly with the mythical theme

5. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Ok it not a kids or young adult book but it's about mythology so it works and I've been meaning to finish it for a long time

6. Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Yes, yes I know this is an adult one too but it's the next one I have to read in the Dark-Hunter series & it fits

So basically I'm reading 6 books that have mythical creatures in them or are connected to myths and legends in some way. Anyone want to join me?

Friday, 11 July 2014

5 Books You Have To Read This Summer - Book Five

5. Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Out 13th March, 2014
Buy from 

The Blurb

Polly Waterford is recovering from a toxic relationship. Unable to afford their townhouse, she has to move miles away from everyone, to the sleepy little seaside resort of Polbearne, where she lives alone above an abandoned shop.

And so Polly takes out her frustrations on her favourite hobby: making bread. But what was previously a weekend diversion suddenly becomes far more important as she pours her emotions into kneading and pounding the dough, and each loaf becomes better and better. With nuts and seeds, olives and chorizo, with local honey (courtesy of local bee keeper, Huckle), and with reserves of determination and creativity Polly never knew she had, she bakes and bakes and bakes . . . And people start to hear about it.

Sometimes, bread really is life . . . And Polly is about to reclaim hers.

My Thoughts

This is the first book that I have read by Jenny Colgan & I wasn't disappointed. It started off slow as we see Polly move to Mount Polbearne, a cut off little island in Cornwall to recover from a failed relationship & the collapse of her business. Then all off a sudden I was swept along with the book just like the tides that flood the causeway. I found myself caring what happened to Polly & willing her to make the right decisions. And most of all I just loved Neil. I want one. A real feel good read perfect for the beach and what a stunning cover it just calls for you pick it up

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Review: NYPD Red 2 by James Patterson and Marshall Karp

**** 4 Stars

I was very excited when I saw that James Patterson was a releasing a 2nd book in the NYPD Red series. I really enjoyed the first book when it came out a couple of years ago and remember at the time hoping Patterson would turn it into a series.

NYPD Red is a special task force within the New York police department whose job it is to look after the high profile cases involving the rich and famous. In the first book we met Detective Zach Jordan and his beautiful new partner who is also his ex Detective Kylie MacDonald. Together they solve the case of The Chameleon a psychopath who is tormenting people connected to the film industry. Zach still has feelings for Kylie who is now married and her husband Spencer almost becomes one of the Chameleon's victims but Zach saves his life.

This book joins the detectives 3 months on when they are pulled onto the Hazmat Killer case by the Mayor who is just days away from an election and who is desperate when the latest victim is revealed as his opposition's campaign manager. So we enter the murky world of politics and cover ups with Jordan and MacDonald on the hunt for a vigilante serial killer who is targeting those he believed have not been punished for their crimes. He leaves each victim in a white hazmat suit somewhere really public. Throw in the mafia and the police are really up against it.

At the beginning of the story we are introduced to two teenage boys Dave and Gideon who are hell bent on getting revenge on a class mate responsible for the rape of Dave's sister, Meredith. Fast forward 12 years and that revenge is still strong with one or both of them possibly being the Hazmat Killer.

As with all of Patterson's books this one was a real page turner, I loved the chemistry between Zach and Kylie especially knowing that Zach still has feelings for Kylie and even though he is with Cheryl I am wondering where this partnership might lead to in the future. Yes this book isn't a work of literary fiction but I do love my James Patterson fix - the books allow me to completely switch off from the world and lose myself in the pages and this one was no exception. And OMG the twist- I just never saw that coming, I really did think that I had it all worked out. Fingers crossed there will be a book 3

5 Books You Have To Read This Summer - Book Four

4. Cop Town by Karin Slaughter

Out 24th June, 2014
Buy from Amazon

The Blurb

Atlanta, 1974: As a brutal murder and a furious manhunt rock the city’s police department, Kate Murphy wonders if her first day on the job will also be her last. She’s determined to defy her privileged background by making her own way—wearing a badge and carrying a gun. But for a beautiful young woman, life will be anything but easy in the macho world of the Atlanta PD, where even the female cops have little mercy for rookies. It’s also the worst day possible to start given that a beloved cop has been gunned down, his brothers in blue are out for blood, and the city is on the edge of war.

Kate isn’t the only woman on the force who’s feeling the heat. Maggie Lawson followed her uncle and brother into the ranks to prove her worth in their cynical eyes. When she and Kate, her new partner, are pushed out of the citywide search for a cop killer, their fury, pain, and pride finally reach the boiling point. With a killer poised to strike again, they will pursue their own line of investigation, risking everything as they venture into the city’s darkest heart.

Relentlessly paced, acutely observed, wickedly funny, and often heartbreaking, Cop Town is Karin Slaughter’s most powerful novel yet—a tour de force of storytelling from our foremost master of character, atmosphere, and suspense.

My Thoughts

So good to see Slaughter writing something that isn't a Sara Linton or Will Trent book, not that I don't love both those characters it is just refreshing to see her do something different. This was an amazing read that took me right back to 1970s Atlanta where female cops and black cops are struggling to make themselves known on the force. It opened with one of the most gripping scenes I think I have ever read and you know straight away you are in for one hell of a ride. I loved both Maggie and Kate both strong women working in a man's world. A must read for anyone who likes their books fast paced and gripping with a few twists thrown in here and there.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Series Spotlight: I Love A Good Series

 As well as being a total book-a-holic I also confess to being a serial series reader. I am a huge fan of crime fiction and I largely put that down to a fascination with Jack The Ripper when I was about 11 or 12. I can vividly remember reading a magazine series at the about the same age that featured serial killers called Murder Casebook that was published in the 1980s. Reading these magazines exposed me to the likes of Ted Bundy, the Son of Sam & Dennis Nilsen at a young age and whilst they would have probably given most pre-teens nightmares I used to find myself totally absorbed. Goodness knows what I would of been like if the internet & social media had been around back then. 

So what was my fascination with serial killers? I was exposed to quite a violent crime when I was 5 years old when I was caught up in an armed robbery whilst staying at my grandparents house. It is not something I ever really talk about but it is something that has stayed with me 30 something years later. The men responsible were never prosecuted for the armed robbery but were imprisoned for other offences after one of their crimes was featured on Crimewatch. So I guess for me my fascination has always been good overcoming evil - if you think about it the majority of crime fiction books do feature death and destruction but ultimately the good guys win and the serial killers are caught. 

Jump forward a few years and I also find myself addicted to Crime dramas like C.S.I ,Criminal Minds and The Mentalist. The minds of the sick and twisted still really fascinate me. What makes people do such terrible things? So you can imagine my excitement when I was about 18 discovering Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta series and James Patterson's Alex Cross series. These books opened up a whole new reading genre to me and quickly I discovered other authors like Kathy Reichs, Lee Child and Harlan Coben.

I read so many crime fiction series and once I start them I have to operate huge restraint not to devour the whole series in one go. My love of book series doesn't just stop with crime though, I also love fantasy series like J R Ward's the Black Dagger Brotherhood and Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series as well as romance series like Kate Angell's Richmond Rogue series. At the moment I estimate that I have started just over 100 series with another 100 plus on my to be read list to star. That's a lot of books!

There is just something about a book series. I love getting to know the characters and seeing them develop as the books progress. A book series feels just like come home to an old friend, you develop a connection with the places, you will relationships to go in a certain way- there is just something very comforting about a good series- like putting on your slippers at the end of the long day.

So given how much I love a good series I thought that I would blog a Series Spotlight each week to share some of my favourite series. Please feel free to recommend new ones. What can I say I'm an addict and have no willpower when it comes to series