Sunday, 31 August 2014

Series Spotlight #3 - Hannah Swensen Series by Joanne Fluke

As I think I have said a few times previously I love to read books in series and that love especially applies to crime books. For the most part I like my crime gritty and dark, something with a lot of pace and suspense but every now & then I like to read crime that is a little lighter. One of the series that hits the lighter note is the Hannah Swensen series by Joanne Fluke.

We first meet Hannah in Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder and on GoodReads she is described as
Joanne Fluke's dessert-baking, red-haired heroine whose gingersnaps are as tart as her comebacks, and whose penchant for solving crimes-one delicious clue at a time-has made her a bestselling favorite. 
Hannah Swensen, runs her own bakery, The Cookie Jar, in the small town of Lake Eden, Minnesota. In the very first book, Hannah, discovers a body outside the back of her bakery and fearing that the body will reflect badly on her cookies she sets about finding the killer herself. 

Pretty much every book in the series follows the same format. Hannah will inevitably find a dead body and will get mixed up in the search for the killer. Her sister Andrea, is married to the town policeman and is happily settled so this leaves, Hannah's mother, Delores with plenty of time on her hands to try & marry Hannah off. This leads to some very amusing story lines.

Hannah's love interests come in the form of town dentist, Norman Rhodes and hot police officer, Mike Kingston. Both try to win her over and both are very different men, I'm 15 books in & the love-triangle is still going strong. I'm still not decided on who I want Hannah to end up with.

Often I have worked out who the villain is before I have reached the end of the book but sometimes, Fluke surprises me. These books are a perfect cosy mystery and are great if you are looking for something lighter to read. A word of warning these books will make you long for cookies and other sweet things. All of the books have recipes included between chapters. After reading the first book back early in 2012 I commented that it was the 'perfect book for some light-hearted relief with a little bit of mystery thrown in'

Book Haul #3

Books Read

1. The Far Side Of The Sun by Kate Furnivall - A historical murder mystery set in the Bahamas

2. This Is Falling by Ginger Scott - This one was totally not what I expected.

3. What Would Mary Berry Do? by Claire Sandy - A fun, humorous read

4. Swamp Bones by Kathy Reichs - A novella from the Temperance Brennan series before I read Bones Never Lie

 Approved On Netgalley

1. Play Date by Kate Donovan

2. The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

3. The Girl In The Photograph by Kate Riordan

4. A Place For Us (Part 2) by Harriet Evans

5. The River Is Dark by Joe Hart

6. Mobile Library by David Whitehouse

7. He's So Fine by Jill Shalvis

8. After The Rain by Lilian Darcy

Received In The Post

1. The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin - Sent by Headline via Bookbridgr. This is one of the books on the Richard & Judy Autumn Reads 2014

Borrowed From The Library

Another week off work so no books came home with me

Books Bought

1. Suspicion by Joseph Finder- Bought in the Kindle Summer Sale on Amazon

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Review: Someone Else's Skin by Sarah Hilary-

**** 4 Stars

I love discovering new crime authors so I was very happy to receive an ARC from Headline via Bookbridgr for Sarah Hilary's debut novel. With it's eye catching cover and the tagline Some secrets will keep you safe, others will destroy you I knew that it was going to be my kind of book. 

The Blurb

Some secrets keep you safe, others will destroy you...

Detective Inspector Marnie Rome. Dependable; fierce; brilliant at her job; a rising star in the ranks. Everyone knows how Marnie fought to come back from the murder of her parents, but very few know what is going on below the surface. Because Marnie has secrets she won't share with anyone.

But then so does everyone. Certainly those in the women's shelter Marnie and Detective Sergeant Noah Jake visit on that fateful day. The day when they arrive to interview a resident, only to find one of the women's husbands, who shouldn't have been there, lying stabbed on the floor.

As Marnie and Noah investigate the crime further, events begin to spiral and the violence escalates. Everyone is keeping secrets, some for survival and some, they suspect, to disguise who they really are under their skin.

Now, if Marnie is going to find the truth she will have to face her own demons head on. Because the time has come for secrets to be revealed...

My Thoughts

This is Sarah Hilary's debut novel and the first in a new crime series featuring DI Marnie Rome and her colleague, DS Noah Jake. The book starts five years previously with an excellent opening scene which sets up the background for Marnie Rome. Five years later she is still recovering from the murder of her parents and she is totally committed and focussed on her work.

Back in the present, DI Rome and DS Jake, are visiting a women's refuge to interview a witness about the possibility of her speaking out against her husband who is wanted in connection with a violent crime. Upon arriving at the refuge they walk into total chaos, a man is lying stabbed and his wife is the most likely suspect. Rome and Jake now find themselves in the middle of a high profile and very complex investigation.

From here on, Hilary, cleverly weaves different story lines together, all whilst Rome's back story plays out. Rome is very much still haunted by her parent's deaths and yet she is still visiting the person who was responsible and is trying hard to face her demons.

She won't talk about how much she loved them, what a hole he carved in her life. If she gave him that, he'd take it back to his cell to feast on, or fret over. He's had enough of their lives. She won't give him anymore.
The book is well written and Hilary has a way of making her characters come to life. I don't normally read UK based crime as it always makes it feel too close so this was a real change for me especially with a lot of the book being set in areas I recognised and have passed through. 

The book featured lots of twists and turns, with the biggest one coming as a total shock to me. I was left stunned. This really was an impressive debut and Sarah Hilary, will definitely be going on my one to watch list. Marnie Rome, is a fantastic protagonist and I am really looking forward to seeing her character grow and seeing if there is a future for her & Ed.

Guest Post: Barbara Nadel Introduces Her Two Protagonists

I was incredibly lucky to meet Barbara Nadel back in June at an event I organised for Crime Fiction month. She sat on a panel with 3 other female crime writers and discussed her books, writing and where her inspiration comes from.All I can say is she is one awesome lady. She has a wonderful sense of humour & is so down to earth, so I feel honoured to be hosting her on my blog today. She is going to introduce us to her two protagonists from her Inspector Ikmen books, this is a long running series set in Turkey and book 16 in the series, Body Count was published by Headline earlier this year.

Who are Cetin Ikmen and Mehmet Suleyman?

Apart from being men with unusual names to western ears, they are also the ‘stars’ of my Istanbul set crime series. As their creator, I’ve lived with this pair for a very long time now and so I thought that it was probably about time I gave them a bit of space to be themselves rather than moving one of my plots along.

The idea of, if not Turkish cops, then a Turkish crime series started back in the dark ages of my youth. When I first started visiting Turkey in the 1970s it was not somewhere western people went to for their holidays. Coastal resorts like Fethiye and Side were little more than fishing villages and Istanbul was somewhere people went through to get on the hippy trail to India. There was, and remains, a famous cafe called the Pudding Shop in the Sultahmet district of the city where travellers could meet, exchange information, maybe organise lifts and sit, stoned, with a cup of coffee for hours on end. Now it’s a bit cup cake, self service style upmarket, but I did see at least one old drug casualty in there about five years ago. As a kid I thought it was marvellous that such a place existed especially in view of the fact that the food was so cheap they almost paid you to eat there. But unless you knew about Turkey there was very little you could find to read about it.

I’ve always enjoyed crime fiction. My mother was, and is, addicted to it. We come from a part of London where it was always happening – the East End. But not much of it seemed to occur in Istanbul. Back in the days when local communities would club together to buy winter boots for their local beat policeman, a bit of shoplifting was headline news. Political violence was rife and getting killed in the crossfire between Leftist and Rightist groups in the 1970s was all too easily done. But straightforward murder was rare. Pro death penalty people like to say that it’s because there is no capital punishment in Turkey any more. But I think it’s more complicated than that. In the 1970s and 80s unless you liked carpets there wasn’t much to aspire to for your average consumer. Cars were generally old wrecks, most people rented their homes and you’d generally stroll down to your local tea garden to watch TV. People weren’t greedy. There wasn’t much to be greedy about.

But as the 1980s became the 1990s, I noticed things change. Turkey became a holiday destination not just for whacked out hippies, but for nice middle class families too. Wafting around a still 70s looking, but clearly evolving Istanbul in the early 90s, I wondered why books on the subject of this place were so rare and further, why there wasn’t much fiction set in the city. As far as I was concerned, this was an endangered environment. I decided to do something about it.

There is an old Istanbul legend that one of the last Russian Tsar’s daughters had not been killed with the rest of her family in Ykaterinburg, but had somehow escaped and come to live in Istanbul. We now know this isn’t true but when I wrote the first draft of the initial Ikmen book ‘Belshazzar’s Daughter’ in 1992, the bodies of the Romanovs had not been discovered. I thought my book was a work of genius. Sadly nobody else did and it didn’t actually get published in the UK, by Headline, until 1999.

I wrote a book about a family who lived with a secret they would kill for and, at the end of the novel, there was a lot of blood. To push my plot forward, I used a couple of local cops. One was about forty five, skinny, a chain smoker while the other one was in his twenties, handsome and clean living. I didn’t think a lot about them, but oddly to me at the time, my new publisher did because they asked me to write two more books featuring those men.

Sixteen books later, Cetin Ikmen, the skinny chain smoker and Mehmet Suleyman, the glamour boy, are still on the beat in Istanbul. So who are they?

Cetin Ikmen was probably born middle aged. Lugubrious and intelligent, he doesn’t suffer fools gladly or otherwise and his honesty is legendary. His father, Timur Ikmen, was an academic while his mother, Ayse was a witch and soothsayer originally from Albania. I know that to western ears the concept of a ‘witch’ living with a secular academic seems odd, but in Turkey the mundane and the fantastic have always lived side by side. They still do.

Like his mother, Cetin has a little bit of magic in his soul. His older brother Halil who works as an accountant, doesn’t. However, in spite of this touch of fairy dust, Ikmen is politically to the left of centre and is most definitely a believer in Ataturk’s secular republic. His wife, Fatma, on the other hand, is a very pious Muslim and religion and politics are flash points in what has been over the years a very passionate and devoted marriage. And although Cetin didn’t want a family quite as large as the one he ended up with (Cetin and Fatma have nine children) he loves all his children and works hard to give them the best preparation for life that he can.

Professionally, he has risen through the ranks of the police service since the 1970s and has arrived at a place in his career where, if he progresses any further, he will lose touch with the job of day to day policing. He has enough self awareness to know that this is not where he wants to be. The city of Istanbul is his ‘beat’ and, although he doesn’t always approve of all the changes that take place in it, he is bound to it by birth, habit and a love of the place that almost rivals his passion for his wife. In the end this metropolis that has grown from a backwater of two million people in 1974 to a mega city of fourteen million now, will probably kill Cetin Ikmen. But until that time he will do whatever it takes to tame the wilder and more lethal aspects of the only city in the world that exists across two continents.

Mehmet Suleyman is the scion of an old Ottoman family. Until the Turkish Republic was established in 1923 what was then the Ottoman Empire was ruled by a family called Osmanoglu. This vast monarchy, with an all powerful sultan at its head, enriched through privilege or marriage thousands of other families like the Suleymans. However when the Osmanoglus were deposed anyone who supported them was stripped of their titles and prestige too and so Mehmet Suleyman, son of a man who would once have been a prince, was brought up in genteel if reduced circumstances.

Like his older brother, Murad, Mehmet attended the best school in Istanbul, the Galatasaray Lycee. But rather then settling, as he saw it, for a life of quiet bookishness, he chose to join the police. His parents, who saw and still see the police service as beneath him, were appalled. Now with twenty years service under his belt, he is no longer the innocent ingenue he was when he entered the service. First as Ikmen’s sergeant and then as an inspector in his own right he has toughened up and grown up. This has not always been a positive thing. Married and divorced twice, Mehmet Suleyman has a weakness for women who find him attractive, which is most of them. The quiet, pious Muslim boy who was always very reticent about the fact that his father was a prince, has been replaced by a rather arrogant womaniser who smokes and drinks and can quickly turn to violence. This last aspect of his behaviour in particular is something Cetin Ikmen disapproves of strongly. However the increasing arrogance is something he can at least understand, if not like.

One of the more unexpected results of having a more Islamically inspired government in Turkey (since the AK Parti came to power in 2002) is that the old empire has been, to some extent, rehabilitated. This is known as Neo-Ottomanism which probably reached its apogee in 2009 when thousands of people came out onto the streets of Istanbul to attend the funeral of Ottoman prince Osman Ertugrul Osmanoglu. For Mehmet Suleyman and his family this means that they can be ‘out’ about who they are and the whole ‘prince’ thing has become part of his allure.

The most important person in Mehmet Suleyman’s life is his young son, and only child, Yusuf who lives with his second ex-wife, the psychiatrist, Zelfa Halman. Sadly, Suleyman doesn’t see the child as often as he would like. His personal life is a mess of broken relationships, difficult parents and obsessive liaisons with women even he feels are unsuitable. This is not helped by the occasional use of prostitutes and brief flings with tourists. Unlike Cetin Ikmen’s difficult but loving family life, Suleyman’s life away from policing is a bit of a car crash.

But for all their differences my ‘boys’ get along. Ikmen nursed Suleyman through his first years as an Istanbul police officer, for which Mehmet is eternally grateful. The two now have a friendship which, though tested at times, is enduring. And with the city of Istanbul growing and evolving around them every day, they have a lot to do.

About The Author

Trained as an actress, Barbara Nadel used to work in mental health services. Born in the East End of London, she now lives in Lancashire and writes full time.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Wednesday Wonder #2 : Saving Grace by Jane Green

It's been tough picking my favourite cover this week but this one really just yelled out 'Pick Me'

Oh me, oh my I have just been approved for this little beauty on Netgalley. I have loved all of Jane Green's previous books and this one has the most gorgeous cover. 

The red just pops against the turquoise and I love the font used for the title. And just look at the tag line 
A perfect stranger wants her perfect life
It makes you want to jump right in. I can't wait to get started on this one

From the number one bestselling author of Tempting Fate and The Accidental Husband comes Jane Green's stunning new novel about a shattered marriage and a devastating betrayal.

A perfect stranger wants her perfect life. Grace Chapman has the perfect life, living comfortably with her husband, bestselling author Ted, in a picture-perfect farmhouse on the Hudson River in New York State. Then Ted advertises for a new assistant, and Beth walks into their lives. Organized, passionate and eager to learn, Beth quickly makes herself indispensable to Ted and his family. But Grace soon begins to feel side-lined in her home - and her marriage - by this ambitious younger woman. Is Grace just paranoid, as her husband tells her, or is there more to Beth than first thought?

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Review: The Homecoming by Robyn Carr

**** 4 Stars

This is book six in Robyn Carr's Thunder Point series.What can I say? I just love Thunder Point and this book felt just like a homecoming to me.

The Blurb

At the age of nineteen, Seth Sileski had everything. A superb athlete and scholar, handsome and popular, he was the pride of Thunder Point. Destined for greatness, he lost it all in a terrible accident that put an end to his professional football career when it had barely begun. The people in his hometown have never forgotten what might have been.

Seth has come to terms with the turns his life has taken. But now he's been presented with an opportunity to return home and show his father—and the people of Thunder Point—he's become a better, humbler version of his former self.

Winning over his father isn't the only challenge. Seth must also find a way to convince his childhood neighbor and best friend, Iris McKinley, to forgive him for breaking her heart. With his homecoming, will Seth be able to convince the town, his family and especially Iris that he's finally ready to be the man who will make them all proud?

My Thoughts

This book is a little different from the previous books in the Thunder Point series, this one almost reads like a stand alone and you don't see very much in the way of familiar faces. The majority of the secondary characters are brand new or those that we have only met in passing in previous books. This in no way takes away from the charm of Robyn Carr's Thunder Point series though.

In this book we are introduced to, Seth Sileski, who at one time was Thunder Point's golden boy. He had it all until a tragic accident ended his professional football career. He is now returning home to Thunder Point, after a few years away as he has just been appointed town sheriff.

Then we have Iris McKinley, high school guidance counsellor, Seth's one time neighbour and best friend when they were growing up. Something happened between the two when they were 17 which put an end to their friendship, and Iris, is hell bent on putting as much distance between her & Seth as possible. The only problem is Seth is totally clueless to what actually did happen to destroy their friendship.

An issue with a student at the high school brings Seth into Iris's life on professional level which leads to them working closely together. Much closer than Iris would like and, Iris , continues to put up walls whilst Seth just keeps on breaking them down determined to make things right and win her over.

I have to say I loved Seth as a character. He was warm, engaging - a man trying to face the demons of his past and to build bridges with not only Iris but also his father

Overall this was a great contemporary romance about second chances with all the details that I loved from the previous books. It focusses on some pretty tough issues around teenage domestic abuse and the kind of problems that kids today face whilst at school. I just loved being back in Thunder Point and can't wait to return when book 7, The Wish comes out.

Guest Post: My Top 5 Fictional Lawyers by Carys Jones

As part of my blog tour for First to Fall I’ve been asked to come up with my top 5 fictional lawyers.

The story of First to Fall centres around young lawyer Aiden Connelly. But he’s not the first fictional lawyer to have his own story…

  • ·     She’s fictional just not in a literary sense but for me the ultimate lawyer, and only person I’d ever want to represent me is Elle Woods from Legally Blonde. If you’ve not seen the movie drop everything you’re doing and watch it immediately as it is just awesome! Elle pushes against type to attend law school even though people view her as vacuous and girly. But Elle shows us that you can maintain your femininity and girliness whilst having a shrewd mind. She is an inspiration to blondes and women everywhere! And who can forget the bend-and-snap! A move I’ve employed myself on more than one occasion…

  • ·       Keeping fictional but still beyond books the second lawyer on my list is another independent lady. Miranda Hobbs from the Sex and the City television show. She’s ambitious and driven but always there for her friends when they need her.

  • ·       Next on my list is the character of Sandy Cohen from The O.C who went above and beyond for young client Ryan when he invites the wayward youth in to his home. Sandy always acted with noble intent and for the greater good and offers Ryan a chance at a life he would have otherwise never had access to.

  • ·       This lawyer is from originally from Broadway rather than TV. Billy Flynn from the musical Chicago is charismatic but doesn’t have his client’s best interests at heart. But you can forgive his faults because he’s just so darn suave and keen to belt out a musical number or two!

  • ·      My final fictional lawyer is Barry Zuckerkorn from  the TV show Arrested Development. He’s never actually much use but his bumbling attempts to assist the Bluth family are always endearingly hilarious!

So there you have it, my top 5 fictional lawyers! Who would make your list and why? 

First To Fall is published by Carina and is out Thursday 28th August. It is available on pre-order from Amazon

Review: First To Fall by Carys Jones

**** 4 Stars

One of the first crime/thriller books I ever remember reading was The Firm by John Grisham. I read it when I was fifteen whilst on holiday in Portugal & then when I can home from my holiday it was out in the cinema. Reading The Firm made me at one point consider becoming a solicitor & led to me reading similar types of books by authors like Robert North Patterson and Scott Turow. So I was really pleased to be able to join the blog tour for Carys Jones latest book, First To Fall, featuring lawyer, Aiden Connelly.

The Blurb

Aiden Connelly’s first case will be one he’ll never forget.

Lawyer Aiden Connelly has traded the frenzy of Chicago for a slower pace in sleepy Avalon – and his first case appears to be as open-and-shut as he could hope for. Hired to defend a local ex-beauty queen accused of murdering her husband, he’s confident that he’ll have the case closed in record time. But below the surface lurks a darker truth…

Suddenly, a quiet backwater has transformed into a dangerous pressure cooker. In a town where everyone knows everyone, gathering evidence should be easy… but the harder Aiden searches, the more he appreciates how tangled this net of loyalties is. And as he digs deeper, Aiden begins to realise that his very first case in Avalon could be the beginning of his undoing…

My Thoughts

From the outset this book really echoed for me John Grisham's A Time To Kill, only without the Ku Klux Klan. Aiden Connelly, has moved his wife and daughter to the small town of Avalon from Chicago to escape the rat race. It had gotten to the point that he wasn't getting home to late, he was barely seeing his young daughter and things were becoming strained on the marital front.

He accepts a job as a partner at a small family law office and is led to believe that his first case is an open and shut murder case. The beautiful, Brandy White, has admitted to murdering her husband, Brandon and is now awaiting trial with the most likely outcome the death penalty. Right from the start things don't quite add up for Aiden. Are things as cut and dry as them seem? What made Brandy kill her husband?

Add to the mix that Brandon's father is a much respected businessman, Brandon himself was the towns blue-eyed boy, a popular footballer who everyone thought very highly of and that the town Sheriff is pretty corrupt and you have yourself a fast paced thriller. I pretty much read the whole book in one sitting as I just needed to find out why Brandy killed her husband and what would happen at her trial.

Aiden and his wife very soon become outcasts in the small town, those that greeted them so warmly when they arrived begin to ignore them because of Aiden's involvement in defending, Brandy White. This helps to ramp up the suspense and leads the reader to a shocking twist that I just didn't see coming.

Overall this was an enjoyable quick read with a great mix of characters and I really liked Aiden and his sense of fairness and justice. Carys Jones writing captures the feel of a small town, America and I am pleased to see that it looks like there is going to be a book 2.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Review: Shattered Secrets by Karen Harper

**** 4 Stars

I had never heard of Karen Harper before requesting a copy of Shattered Secrets on Netgalley. The synopsis made it sound very much like my kind of crime novel and it is the first in a series and I just love crime series.

The Blurb

Every town has its secrets…

Returning to Cold Creek, Ohio, is an act of courage for Tess Lockwood. Abducted and held captive as a young girl, she is unable to remember anything about the crime that destroyed her childhood and tore her family apart. Now a grown woman with a bright future, she is certain she has put the past behind her. But when she inherits the family home, Tess must confront the demons that still haunt her and the town of Cold Creek.

Gabe McCord has always blamed himself for what happened to Tess. He had been a teenager when she was snatched from the group of children he was responsible for watching. Now Gabe has taken on the role of sheriff and hopes to shed new light on the cold case, especially given his growing feelings for Tess.

Tess isn't ready to recall what happened to her, and she has no intention of digging up any details that might remind her of the truth. But when another child in the town goes missing, she's certain it's related to her return to Cold Creek. Together,Tess and Gabe will have to work to unlock their painful memories in order to save another child and heal their damaged souls, for good…

My Thoughts

The first few sentences of this book are totally gripping and your are immediately hooked. They really set the scene, leaving you wanting to know more. Just what did happen to Tess Lockwood all those years ago in Cold Creek?

Tess Lockwood, is a young woman returning to her home town of Cold Creek for the first time in almost twenty years. She is one of three sisters and her mother has passed away leaving her the family home so Tess, begrudgingly returns to Cold Creek to sell the house. When Tess was a child she was abducted but eventually escaped after many months. She has no real recollections of what happened to her in the time she was away from her family but everything is set to come crashing back down around her when her return to Cold Creek coincides with another young girl going missing.

Gabe McCord, is the town sheriff, he was also Tess's teenage neighbour responsible for watching Tess, on the day she was abducted and he is still living with his guilt over that fateful day. He is also haunted by the disappearance of potentially 3 more little girls that he believes are all linked to Tess's cold case.

This book is very intense and is full of suspense and intrigue. Harper, has created an extremely creepy little town full of cornfields, freaky scarecrows, a taxidermist, an animal cemetery and a commune. She also gives us quite a list of potential suspects, leaving Tess wondering about a lot of people who live in town and taking risks to rule people out as suspects. This all just adds to the suspense.

I must say that I did not work out who was the kidnapper, and it came as a total shock to me. But hey that's what makes a good crime novel. I am so pleased that this is the first in a planned trilogy. Each of the next two books focuses on one of Tess's sisters in turn.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Book Haul #2

Books Read  

1. First To Fall by Carys Jones - Small town lawyer with his biggest case yet

2. Pieces Of Me by Ella Harper - Wow. This was one emotional read

3. Stay With Me - Sharla Lovelace - I loved the female protagonist, Savanna in this book.

4. Before He Was Famous by Becky Wicks - 1st book in Starstruck series. Give it a go

5. Before He Was Gone by Becky Wicks

Approved on Netgalley 

1. Saving Grace by Jane Green - Can't wait to read this one

2. Private India by James Patterson - Love the Private series

3. The Beginner's Guide To The Bird & The Bees by Sophie Hart - This one looks so good

Received In The Post 

1. Away From You by Kay Langdale - An ARC from Hodder via Bookbridgr

2. Carry You by Beth Thomas - Won from Shaz's Book Blog

3. Liberty Silk by Kate Beaufoy - Won from Shaz's Book Blog

4. Someone To Watch Over Me by Madeleine Reiss - Won from Shaz's Book Blog

5. The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon - Won from Shaz's Book Blog

6. Waiting For Doggo by Mark B. Mills - An ARC from Headline

From The Library

I'm on holiday.No work this week so I am not setting foot inside a library :)

Books Bought

1. Out Of Control by Sarah Alderson - Loved the last book she wrote as Mila Gray so just had to buy this one

2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - Heard lots of good things about this book

3. The Maze Runner by James Dashner - Need to read this before the film comes out & hopefully convince my son to read it to.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Series Spotlight #2 - Robyn Carr's Thunder Point series

Robyn Carr's Thunder Point series is a fairly new find for me, as is the author herself. I discovered the first book in the series in June, 2013 when I requested and was approved for The Wanderer on Netgalley.

I love the ocean so this cover was one that grabbed me from the start so I requested it on whim not knowing what to expect. What I found was a book that was full of the charm of a small town, engaging characters, great storylines and left me with a need to visit Oregon. I breezed my way through the first book eager for more and I have been lucky enough to be approved for the rest of the Thunder Point series on Netgalley.

Each book in the series centres around a different couple living in Thunder Point. Often one half of the couple is an existing resident with the other half being a new person to town or someone returning to Thunder Point after a long time away. Each couple faces challenges and has their share of ups & downs, always coming through to the other side. Each book also has it side stories touching on different characters living in Thunder Point.

These books really are just like coming home to old friends with each new one that Robyn Carr writes. It's like sitting down to watch your favourite soap opera, you feel for the characters and you want everything to work out for them.

I have just finished book 6 in the series The Homecoming and this one didn't disappoint either. In fact the male protagonist in the book, Seth is probably my favourite out of all of Robyn's leading males. Sorry Coop!

So happy to see that book 7 in the series, The Wish is slated to be released in 2015. Until then I will be planning my 2016 US road trip on which I intend to visit Orgeon & see some of the beautiful coastline that Robyn so wonderfully describes.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Review: Stay With Me by Sharla Lovelace

**** 4 Stars

This was another find on Netgalley. I'd never heard of the author by I really loved the sound of the blurb so I clicked to request it. Thanks to Beyond The Page Publishing for the ARC.

The Blurb

Ian was the wild boy every girl dreams of, a renegade who thrived on breaking the law and setting Savi’s body on fire. It was all fun and games and hot excitement, no strings attached, until the one day he got serious—and then disappeared without a trace.

Savi has spent the ten years since committing herself to her work, her daughter, and to not thinking about Ian—or love. Just when it’s possible she might have found the one man who can change her mind, Ian pulls into town, bringing with him all of the lust, danger, and excitement Savi remembers.

As Ian stirs up old feelings and draws Savi back into memories and passion she’s too weak to fight, he’s also digging up dirt on the man Savi is falling for, doing everything he can to prove that Duncan is not who he seems to be. And Savi, unsure whether she can trust either man, will be forced to decide between rekindling a love that never really burned out and building a new one that looks ready to catch fire.

My Thoughts

From the cover I was expecting a slightly younger female protagonist but Savanna being in her 40s totally worked for me. The book is set in Coppers Fall, a small town Texas. 

Savanna Barnes, is a 43 year old single mum who had her heart broken a decade ago when the man who told her loved her walked out on her just a few days later. Since then she has been actively avoiding love and focusing on her daughter and helping build the family business with her father.

Ian McMasters, is the man who broke Savanna's heart all those years ago, he was her best friend, her lover and her partner in crime. Together they were an explosive couple, always up to mischief, causing their fair share of trouble and now he is back. The only problem is his return coincides with Savanna, beginning to fall for the new town vet, Duncan Spoon. This sets us up with the perfect love triangle, at times wanting Savi to rekindle her romance with Ian and then also wanting her to end up with the hot vet.

Ian has returned to town leaving his dive business in Key West, Florida in the hands of his business partner to come and help his brother out as the family business has fallen on hard times. Only not everyone or everything is as it seems. People are out to destroy Ian's family business and it looks as though their might be the same plan for Savanna's too.

This book was a such a quick, easy read. I loved Savanna, she was such a feisty, take no-nonsense lady but at times she reverted right back to being a teenager. There was lots of humour in the book, with Savanna's employee Missy bringing about a lot of the laughs.  There was a wonderful warmth about this book and I will certainly be checking out Sharla Lovelace's previous novels.

Review: This Is Water by Yannick Murphy

**** 4 Stars

Firstly I loved this book's cover & it's tag lines. The red contrasting with the blue makes it really eye catching. Plus the very fact that says it is a 'novel about a murder ' meant it looked like the kind of book I enjoy reading so I was very pleased the get a copy of the book from Headline via Bookbridgr.

The Blurb

This is a novel about a woman. About a mother. About a marriage. 

About a murder.

In the brightly lit public pool the killer swims and watches. Amongst the mothers cheering on their swim team daughters is Annie. Watching her two girls race, she's thinking of other things. Her husband's emotional distance. Her lost brother. The man she's drawn to.

Then she learns a terrible secret. Now her everyday cares and concerns seem meaningless. Annie knows she has to act. Above all, she must protect her children. 

Compulsively readable, it takes readers on a journey where none could guess the final outcome.

My Thoughts

This book is a really hard book to review and I am still struggling to decide if I liked it or loved it. This Is Water has a very unusual & quirky writing style as it is written in the second person and I personally found it a little difficult to get into. It was not as fast paced as I like my crime books and I think this is largely down to the writing style as it really slowed down my reading of the book and at times the book felt a little descriptive and I felt a little bogged down by it. That said it is still a great read. 

The book is set around a swim team in a small town in New Hampshire and looks at the swimmers, their parents, a killer and even the cleaner. The book immerses you into the world of swim meets, a world that is competitive with swimmers and parents eating, breathing & sleeping swimming. I loved this setting as both my daughters used to dance competitively and it was great to be able to see the similarities between swim team parents & dance mums. There is always that one mum who thinks their child is better than everyone else, their is always that one mum who is a gossip & a busy body so I found myself totally relating to the characters. 

There is a lot going on in the book and we are introduced to a lot of different characters. The main voice throughout the book is Annie's, a mother of 2 girls and a woman consumed by her brother's suicide to the extent that she sees him in lots of people she comes into contact with. She has problems in her relationship and finds herself fantasising over one of the dads. Then you have Chris who has become totally obsessed by catching the killer putting herself at great risk trying and her husband Paul who in his youth has come into contact with the very same killer and kept it a secret.

At times this book is beautifully written and at times it is quite simplistic in it's writing but somehow this works and just adds to the tension that builds towards the end of the book. This is one of those books that you really need to persevere with, once you are used to the writing style then you just become submerged in the writing and it is a race to get to the end.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Review: Pieces Of You by Ella Harper

***** 5 Stars

This has got to be one of the hardest books that I have ever tried to review simply because I don't know how to do the book justice. It is one of those books that will stay with me for a long time.

The Blurb

Lucy. I don’t even know how to start this letter.
Something happened. Something terrible . . .

Lucy was always sure of one thing – her future with husband and soulmate Luke. But after eight long, heartbreaking years trying to have a baby, that future is crumbling before her eyes.
When a terrible accident puts Luke into a coma, Lucy is forced to reassess everything she thought she wanted.

Then a woman arrives with a shocking secret that will force Lucy to make the hardest decision of her life.

As compelling and powerful as Jojo Moyes and Liane Moriarty, PIECES OF YOU is a heart-rending, haunting and ultimately life-affirming novel about a love tested to its limits

My Thoughts

Oh where to start. It is so difficult to put my thoughts about this book into words. I'm going to give it a go though but this is going to be a fairly short review because I don't want to give any of the books plot away.

So we start off at the beginning meeting Lucy & Luke Harte. Their relationship is perfect and their love for each other just oozes from the pages. Luke is a gentleman and a true romantic, an everyday hero in his job as a senior paramedic. Lucy is 'quirky beautiful' and works in her mother in laws florist, she takes her confidence from Luke, you could say that he completes her. The only thing that they have missing from their lives is the one thing that they both desperately want- a baby!

They have had numerous miscarriages and failed IVF attempts but they are still together and have stayed strong & committed to their marriage. Or have they? Everything changes when Luke is involved in a serious accident whilst at work and ends up in a coma. Then a mysterious woman turns up with a big secret that is set to shock both Lucy's and Luke's family to the very core.

I loved this book, I cried whilst reading this book, I smiled & laughed whilst reading this book, I got angry whilst reading this book. Pieces of You brought out so many emotions, I totally felt like I was living my life right along side Lucy & Luke, I could feel the pain of losing so many babies and their desperate need to complete their family. Quite simply this is one of the most utterly heart-wrenching and most beautiful books that I have ever read. Ella Harper writes Lucy & Luke's relationship with an enormous amount of insight & feeling. It is one of those books that leaves you craving more and leaves you distraught when it's over because you need to know how the characters move on. A word of warning though - make sure you have tissues.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Wednesday Wonder #1 - Station Eleven

I've decided that each Wednesday I am going to post my favourite cover that I have spotted over the previous week. I love book covers and often I pick up a book based on a cover. 

Yes I know the phrase never judge a book by it's cover but what can I say I am drawn to pretty things & they don't come much prettier than the cover of Station Eleven by Emily St.John Mandel. 

This is one of those covers that just calls to be looked at & stroked. It calls to be picked up off of the shelf held and then of course read. I love the pop of the pink against the black & white, the deer as a contrast to the cityscape. This is one of those books that I have been so looking forward to reading purely based on the cover. The blurb ain't too bad either.


The Georgia Flu explodes over the surface of the earth like a neutron bomb.

News reports put the mortality rate at over 99%.


Civilization has crumbled.


A band of actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony move through their territories performing concerts and Shakespeare to the settlements that have grown up there. Twenty years after the pandemic, life feels relatively safe.

But now a new danger looms, and he threatens the hopeful world every survivor has tried to rebuild.


Moving backwards and forwards in time, from the glittering years just before the collapse to the strange and altered world that exists twenty years after, Station Eleven charts the unexpected twists of fate that connect six people: famous actor Arthur Leander; Jeevan - warned about the flu just in time; Arthur's first wife Miranda; Arthur's oldest friend Clark; Kirsten, a young actress with the Travelling Symphony; and the mysterious and self-proclaimed 'prophet'.

Thrilling, unique and deeply moving, this is a beautiful novel that asks questions about art and fame and about the relationships that sustain us through anything - even the end of the world

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Giveaway - Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand

To celebrate that I have reached 500 followers on Twitter & that I have just read my 100th book of the year I am giving away a copy of book 100.

Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand

The giveaway is only open to those living in the UK. I will be checking all of the entries to ensure that people are following me, have tweeted & have followed me on bloglovin, so no cheating :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand

**** 4 Stars

This is the second book I have read by Elin Hilderbrand, I've previously read The Castaways, which I loved and was pleased to receive a copy of her latest book Beautiful Day from Hodder & Stoughton in exchange for an honest review.

The Blurb

A summer wedding stirs up trouble on both sides of the family in this new novel from bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand.

The Carmichaels and Grahams have gathered on Nantucket for a wedding. Plans are being made according to the wishes of the bride's late mother, who left behind The Notebook: specific instructions for every detail of her youngest daughter's future nuptials. Everything should be falling into place for the beautiful event--but in reality, things are far from perfect.

While the couple-to-be are quite happy, their loved ones find their own lives crumbling. In the days leading up to the wedding, love will be questioned, scandals will arise, and hearts will be broken and healed. Elin Hilderbrand takes readers on a touching journey in BEAUTIFUL DAY--into the heart of marriage, what it means to be faithful, and how we choose to honor our commitments

My Thoughts

The first two things that I have to say about this book are that I loved the cover, so pretty, beautiful & dreamy and also Hilderbrand's dedication to her grandparents really choked me up.

So the story starts out with an invitation to the wedding of Jenna Carmichael and Stuart Graham and we are taken right to Nantucket Island where both families are beginning to gather for the impending nuptials. Only not everything is quite as it seems, Jenna and Stuart are totally loved up and can't wait to be married but there are so many secrets and so much intrigue on both sides of the family that you are left wondering if the wedding will ever take place.

Jenna's decisions regarding her wedding day re entirely influenced by Beth, her dead mother, who has left The Notebook with her own thoughts & ideas for what seems like every part of the wedding. As the mother of two teenage daughters I can't even begin to imagine not being around for their special day so the idea of leaving behind something so that they feel I am with them really touched me. At times it almost felt as though she was right there, holding Jenna's hand.

There are lots of characters in this book and for the most part they are quite unlikeable, entitled rich people who are selfish and only looking out for themselves. Don't get me started on some of the names, seriously Drum, Beanie, Edge but once I got past that I enjoyed the book and loved seeing how all the characters played off each other. Weddings really are a mix of people who you wouldn't normally find together. I'm sure in everyones family there is that weird uncle or crazy aunt who we try to avoid so it is inevitable that bringing both families together on an island for a wedding is going to lead to lots of drama. The characters all have their flaws and with the emotions around the wedding running high, there is a lot that could potentially bring the wedding plans crashing down.

A lot of the story is told through the eyes of Margot, Jenna's older sister and Matron of Honour, who is a mum of three and is still reeling from her failed marriage. She is carrying some rather large secrets and is really quite bitter about everything including the wedding and isn't afraid to tell people that she no longer believes in love. She even goes as far as to say:

"Divorce, Jenna, is paying for your wedding."

Which is a reference to the fact that their father, Doug Carmichael, is a successful family lawyer.

Doug Carmichael, is a man still in love with his wife who he lost 7 years ago. He has married again but it quickly becomes apparent that his marriage to his wife, Pauline, is collapsing and the final nail in the coffin is when she reads The Notebook. She has been feeling totally left out about everything concerning the wedding and is very much having to live as second best to the ghost of Beth. I can't work out if I was supposed to feel sorry for Pauline but by the end of the book I felt nothing for her. She really brought everything on herself and seemed to be very manipulative.

Then the other main player in the story is Ann Graham, mother of the groom and state senator. She clearly loves her sons and only wants the best for them but there is an edge of snootiness about her but she works hard through the book to overcome that. This includes inviting her husband's ex-wife to the wedding which can only lead to trouble.

As I said the characters have their flaws, a lot of them are people you would not like to be friends with but this all helps to add tension to the book. It also helps to add humour and at times I did find myself laughing out loud. 

She would look awful in the photographs, like a frog that had been through the blender.
Overall the book was an enjoyable read that looked at the highs and lows that come with marriage. The grief that comes with losing a loved one and how people deal with such loss on those memorable occasions. A very touching heartfelt read with a little humour thrown in.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Review: Personal by Lee Child

***** 5 Stars

First of all I just have to comment on that cover. Jack's in London and what a ride he has and not just on the underground. Yes Reacher takes the tube.

I was incredibly excited to receive an ARC of this book back in June as Lee Child is one of my favourite authors and Jack Reacher one of my favourite characters. I've been on a long journey with Reacher since the first book 'The Killing Floor' was published in the UK back in 1998 and here we are 16 years later on book number 19 and what a book it is.

The book starts with Reacher picking up a copy of the Army Times and seeing ad in the personal's section addressed to him.'Jack Reacher call Rick Shoemaker.'  He could just ignore the ad but he doesn't and what happens next takes him on a hunt for a potential assassin visiting both Paris and London in a race against time. His job to track down an old enemy that he put inside sixteen years ago and prevent him from being anyway near the fast approaching G8 summit being held in London.

A Reacher book wouldn't be a Reacher book without Jack having a beautiful female sidekick and in Personal it comes in the form of Casey Nice, a rookie analyst for the CIA recruited straight out of Yale. Nice accompanies Reacher to London where they walk into a turf war between Serbian thugs and an old fashioned East End gang called the Romford Boys and one of them is hiding John Kott the ex army sniper that Reacher is hunting for.

This book is a is a real page turner that moves along at a break neck speed and I just couldn't put it down until I'd finished. It was great seeing Jack walk the streets of London and reading about familiar places although I did think of the tv show 'Birds Of A Feather' when Chingford is mentioned. For me Personal is Reacher at his coolest, facing danger head on because this time it is personal and Kott has him in his sights.
I also liked hearing a little more about Reacher's mother who died and is buried in Paris. It was very touching to see him visit her grave and to hear about what she did during World War 2. The only downside to this book is now that I have finished it I am going to have to wait a year until the next one. Unless Lee Child can be persuaded to write book 20 a little quicker. Pretty please!

Thanks to NetGalley & Random House/Bantam Dell for the ARC in exchange for an honest review

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Book Haul #1

Finally I've been organised enough this week to keep a track of what books I've read, bought and received and actually remembered to blog about them. That's a huge achievement for me. So here they are:

Books Read

1. The Homecoming by Robyn Carr - My book of the week

2. Shattered Secrets by Karen Harper - Can't wait to read more by this author

3. Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand - I will be holding a giveaway for this book later in the week to celebrate reaching 500 followers on Twitter

4. Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes - Wow this one had me on the edge of my seat

Approved On Netgalley

1. The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop - One of my most anticipated reads of 2014

2. First To Fall by Carys Jones - I will be taking part in a blog tour for this book later this month

3. Scandals Of Classic Hollywood by Anne Helen Petersen - A very rare non-fiction read for me but hey I love celebrity gossip

4. Swamp Bones by Kathy Reichs - A novella featuring Temperance Brennan

5. I Will Marry George Clooney(By Christmas) by Tracy Bloom - If only

6. Misbehaving In Miami by Aimee Duffy - Sounds like a perfect summer read

Received In The Post

1. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel - Sent by Sam Eades and has such a pretty cover

2. Some Day I'll Find You by Richard Madeley - My prize from The Book Trail

From The Library

1. Slammed by Colleen Hoover - Needed to read more after reading Ugly Love

2. Point Of Retreat by Colleen Hoover

Books Bought

1. Solitaire by Alice Oseman - bought for my Kindle