Thursday, 30 April 2015

Humber Boy B - Ruth Dugdall

"A blur in the sky, a brick no, a trainer, red falls to the water... There seems to be a scuffle... a hand grabbing at the dangling child. Then, with the awfulness of inevitability, the hanging child drops, gravity takes him. A child is killed after falling from the Humber Bridge. Despite fleeing the scene, two young brothers are found guilty and sent to prison. Upon their release they are granted one privilege only, their anonymity. Probation officer Cate Austin is responsible for Humber Boy B s reintegration into society. But the general public s anger is steadily growing, and those around her are wondering if the secret of his identity is one he actually deserves to keep. Cate s loyalty is challenged when she begins to discover the truth of the crime. She must ask herself if a child is capable of premeditated murder. Or is there a greater evil at play?"

With a plot that has shades of a real-life incident (which is referred to in the novel) I found Humber Boy B ever so slightly uncomfortable reading - and that's not necessarily a bad thing. The storyline is handled sensitively, and I don't think it would be possible for anybody reading this novel to not feel a little disturbed at some parts. 

Although I felt like I shouldn't be, I was sympathetic towards "Ben", a child accused of murder and now facing his release and consequent adjustment to life in the outside world, although I didn't particularly like his character, nor other characters related to the murder, and I feel that this shows quite how well-written the characters are. I've read Ruth Dugdall's previous novels, so I had already "met " Cate before, and it was good to catch up with her, however the book can get away with being a standalone novel quite easily. 

Humber Boy B is out now and you can get it here:

**Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for my ARC**

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

His Other Life - Beth Thomas

"The story of a couple with seemingly perfect lives…and the secrets they hide behind closed doors.
Perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Jo Jo Moyes.
He was hiding a terrible secret . . .
Grace’s new husband Adam seems like the perfect package. Good looking, great job, completely charming – almost too good to be true . . .
So when Adam suddenly disappears from Grace’s life, she is left bewildered and heartbroken. And with a lot of unanswered questions.
As she tries desperately to find him, Grace opens a Pandora’s Box of secrets and lies – and starts to learn that Adam wasn’t so perfect after all.
What shameful secrets was her husband hiding? Is Grace in danger? And can she survive the truth? However terrible it may be . . ."

I have to confess, I wasn't a massive fan of Grace in the beginning of this novel - she's weak, bordering on pathetic, but as I read further in I came to realise exactly why she was the way she was, and it completed changed my opinion of her. Adam is a bit of an enigma through most of the story - he goes out to get a takeaway curry and doesn't come back - Grace and the reader are left wondering whether her left of his own accord or did something sinister happen to him? Although I found this a little slow start with, (possibly because I was getting so annoyed at Grace), it soon hooked me and I got caught up in Grace's mission to find out the truth about Adam.

I can't say anymore than that without ruining the book and giving away spoilers, but what I will say is that I didn't see the twist coming, even though I thought I did. Ginger is a fantastic character, and Beth Thomas has created some brilliant, original characters in Adam and his crazy mother!

His Other Life is out now and you can get it here: 

**Many thanks to Avon and Netgalley for my ARC**

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The Confectioner's Tale - Laura Madeleine

"At the famous Patisserie Clermont in Paris, 1909, a chance encounter with the owner’s daughter has given one young man a glimpse into a life he never knew existed: of sweet cream and melted chocolate, golden caramel and powdered sugar, of pastry light as air. 
But it is not just the art of confectionery that holds him captive, and soon a forbidden love affair begins.
Almost eighty years later, an academic discovers a hidden photograph of her grandfather as a young man with two people she has never seen before. Scrawled on the back of the picture are the words ‘Forgive me’. Unable to resist the mystery behind it, she begins to unravel the story of two star-crossed lovers and one irrevocable betrayal."

The Confectioner's Tale is just gorgeous - romance, history and CAKE - what more could you ask for? The story is beautifully told, alternating between Paris in 1910 and England in the present day. The characters are stunning - I loved Guillaume and Jeanne and the way their lives are interwoven.
Laura Madeleine's writing is powerful and makes it so easy to imagine the kitchens of a busy patisserie in Paris, the sights and smells she describes are fabulous and this is definitely not a book you want to read on a diet! 
I loved the ending too - it was not what I was expecting and brought a little tear to my eye. You should be prepared with a Kleenex, just in case! 

The Confectioner's Tale is out on 23rd April and you can get it here:

**Many thanks to the publisher for my ARC**

Monday, 27 April 2015

The Corpse Role - Keith Nixon

"Not everything that gets buried stays buried... sometimes things have a nasty habit of resurfacing… When the body of a security van driver implicated in an unsolved £1.2 million heist turns up in a shallow grave two years later it’s just the beginning for Detective Inspector Charlotte Granger. She embarks on an investigation that takes her into dangerous territory – a world of dirty cops, dodgy private investigators, local villains and nosy journalists. Meanwhile events from Granger's own past are threatening to come back and haunt her…"

This was a fast paced police procedural that hooked me from the first page - gangsters, a heist and a good dollop of corruption - what's not to love? It's a hard book to review without giving too much away as there is a cracking good twist at the very end of the novel, one that I didn't see coming at all in a million years. And it's a bloody good twist, one that I've never read before and that has added an extra star to my review! The characters are well written, although (without ruining the plot) it turns that maybe not everybody and everything is as they appear to be. There are some brilliant characters - nasty evil villains, gangsters, corrupt police that are as filthy as they come - and these, combined with a fast-paced plot and an excellent twist makes for a definite 4 star read for me.

The Corpse Role is out now and you can get it here:

**Thanks to the publisher and lovely Liz Barnsley for my copy** 

Friday, 24 April 2015

The Woman Who Stole My Life - Marian Keyes

"'Name: Stella Sweeney.
Height: average.
Recent life events: dramatic.'
One day, sitting in traffic, married Dublin mum Stella Sweeney attempts a good deed. The resulting car crash changes her life.
For she meets a man who wants her telephone number (for the insurance, it turns out). That's okay. She doesn't really like him much anyway (his Range Rover totally banjaxed her car).
But in this meeting is born the seed of something which will take Stella thousands of miles from her old life, turning an ordinary woman into a superstar, and, along the way, wrenching her whole family apart.
Is this all because of one ill-advised act of goodwill? Was meeting Mr Range Rover destiny or karma? Should she be grateful or hopping mad?
For the first time real, honest-to-goodness happiness is just within her reach. But is Stella Sweeney, Dublin housewife, ready to grasp it?"

I seriously heart Marian Keyes - she is the absolute Queen of non-fluffy chick lit. So, already knowing that Marian is the Queen of non-fluffy chick lit, I kind of knew after just reading the blurb that I was going to love The Woman Who Stole My Life - and I so did. 
Stella is such a gorgeous character, you can't help but fall in love with her from the word go - she's a normal average woman, concerned about the everyday things in life that we are all concerned about (children, husband, belly weight), and so easy to relate to, but her life is far from average. With an ex-husband who has decided to give away every item that he owns in some kind of karma project, a teenage son who is more into yoga than drugs and a daughter who is living with a wealthy older man Stella has a lot on her plate. 

I loved every character - Ryan is a hot mess (and hilarious with it) while Mannix is just pure lush. The more serious side of the novel deals with Stella and her illness, which I felt was dealt with incredibly sensitively, and was very well-written. In all, other cracking story from Marian Keyes. Did I tell you I heart Marian??

The Woman Who Stole My Life is out now and you can get it here:

Thursday, 23 April 2015

A Good Catch - Fern Britton

"Even happy families have their secrets…
Greer Clovelly seems to have it all, beautiful, chic and slender, she’s used to getting her own way. Greer has been in love with Jesse Behenna since her first day at school and she’s determined that one day, they’ll be married. After all, a marriage between them would join together two dynasties of Cornish fishing families to make one prosperous one.
For her friend, Loveday Carter – plump, freckled and unpretentious – living in the shadow of her friend has become a way of life. She loves Jesse too, but knows that what Greer wants, she usually gets.
Jesse, caught in the middle, faces an agonising choice. Should he follow his heart or bow to his father’s wishes? And what about his best friend Mickey, who worships the ground that Loveday walks on?
Jesse’s decision will touch them all in ways that they could never foresee, and as the dark clouds start to gather the four friends find themselves weathering a storm – one that has the power to sink them all…"

This was the first Fern Britton novel I had read, and I found it quite enjoyable. Focussing on the lives of two Cornish fishing families, from school through to their present lives as adults, the characters in this novel made me laugh and cry throughout. I disliked Greer immensely, she is cold, demanding and manipulative, but at the same time I couldn't help feeling sorry for her, as she appears to have it all but that isn't necessarily the case. I loved Loveday and Mickey - two fantastic characters that stole my heart from when they first appeared in the story. 
I thought I knew the direction that the plot was going to take from the prologue, but it turned out to be completely different - one that I hadn't even imagined. A lovely, heart-breaking story of family and friendship, I definitely recommend A Good Catch.

A Good Catch is out now and you can get it here:

**Many thanks to the publisher for my review copy**

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Letters to the Lost - Iona Grey

"1943, in the ruins of Blitzed London… 

Stella Thorne and Dan Rosinski meet by chance and fall in love by accident. Theirs is a reluctant, unstoppable affair in which all the odds are stacked against them: she is newly married, and he is an American bomber pilot whose chance of survival is just one in five.

… He promised to love her forever 

Seventy years later Dan makes one final attempt to find the girl he has never forgotten, and sends a letter to the house where they shared a brief yet perfect happiness. But Stella has gone, and the letter is opened by Jess, a young girl hiding from problems of her own. And as Jess reads Dan's words, she is captivated by the story of a love affair that burned so bright and dimmed too soon. Can she help Dan find Stella before it is too late?

Now forever is finally running out."

Please, please whatever you do, do not read this book in public. Lock yourself indoors, grab a big mug of tea and a box of tissues and prepare to have your heart squeezed. This is a gorgeous tale of love and loss, based in the present day and the 1940's - alternating chapters tell the story of Stella and Dan in the 40's and Jess and Will in the present day. The format works really well, and at the end of each "switch" I was desperate to get back to the alternate time period to find out what was going to happen to each couple. 

The characters are really well-written, I loved Dan and Stella, and the whole dynamic of their relationship. Jess and Will are also great characters - you can't help but feel for Jess and her situation, and I was rooting for Will all the way through. By the end I was sobbing into my margarita, poolside, in front of all the other holiday makers in my Vegas hotel, but it was absolutely worth every weird look I got - Letters to the Lost gets 5 stars from me.

Letters to the Lost is out on 23rd April and you can get it here: 

**Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for my advance copy**

Monday, 20 April 2015

The Day We Disappeared - Lucy Robinson

"Annie has a secret. But if she's not going to tell, we won't either. It's a heart-breaking secret she wishes she didn't have - yet Annie isn't broken, not quite yet. Especially now there's someone out there who seems determined to fix her.
Kate has run away. But she's not going to tell us why - that would defeat the point of running, wouldn't it? It's proving difficult to reinvent herself, however, with one person always on her mind.
Scratch beneath the surface and nobody is really who they seem. Even Annie and Kate, two old friends, aren't entirely sure who they are any more. Perhaps you can work it out, before their pasts catch up with them for good . . .
A gripping and unpredictable story of two young women running from their pasts. We defy you to guess the twist . . ."

Blimey. It's not very often that I get to read a book that blows me away as much as The Day We Disappeared. It was, quite simply, fantastic. As a reviewer I get sent a lot of books, but often if I love a book I will buy a copy too and this is one book I will definitely be buying. I LOVED this book - it is definitely up there with a chance of being my book of the year so far - the plot is great, it grabs the reader straight away and all the characters are really well-written.

But, the thing that makes this book a top-notch 5 star read is the twist - it literally jumped up and slapped me round the face as I was reading by the pool on holiday. I can't say anything about the twist without giving stuff away but, trust me, it's a CORKER. If you only buy one book this year, make it this one.

The Day We Disappeared is out now and you can get it here (and I really think you should):

The Lie - C. L. Taylor

"This was no accident…
Haunting, compelling, this psychological thriller will have you hooked. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl and Daughter.
I know your name’s not really Jane Hughes . . .
Jane Hughes has a loving partner, a job in an animal sanctuary and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She’s happier than she’s ever been but her life is a lie. Jane Hughes does not really exist.
Five years earlier Jane and her then best friends went on holiday but what should have been the trip of a lifetime rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of the women.
Jane has tried to put the past behind her but someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed Jane and everything she loves . . ."

I loved C.L. Taylor's first novel, The Accident, and couldn't wait to get my teeth into The Lie. A fantastically twisty-turny novel of female friendship (incredibly accurately portrayed - let's face it, girls are bitchy and even when "friends" aren't always as nice to each other as some would think), The Lie is grip-lit at it's best. With very strong characters, and an underlying scent of intrigue that consistently rears its head through the entire novel, I had no idea what was going to happen, who was going to do it or which (if any) of the characters I could trust. 

There were characters that I loved and characters that I despised, all bound together in a most exquisite setting - I loved the fact that in one chapter I would be cheering on a character and in the next, the complete opposite, much like the characters were in the story. None of the friends knew who they could trust, and neither does the reader. 

A brilliantly accurate portrayal of female friendship, with a side order of psychological thriller - I loved The Lie. It's out on 23rd April and you can get it here:

**Thanks to Netgalley and Avon for my ARC**

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Don't Turn Around - Caroline Mitchell

"You don't know him. But he knows you... As D.C. Jennifer Knight investigates a routine stabbing in the quiet town of Haven, she is shocked at what seems like a personal message from beyond the grave. When more bodies are found, Jennifer is convinced the killings are somehow linked. What she discovers is more chilling than she could possibly imagine. The murders mirror those of the notorious Grim Reaper - from over twenty years ago. A killer her mother helped convict. Jennifer can no longer ignore the personal connection. Is there a copycat killer at work? Was the wrong man convicted? Or is there something more sinister at play ... With her mother's terrifying legacy spiralling out of control, Jennifer must look into her own dark past in a fight not only to stop a killer - but to save herself and those she loves."

I love anything to do with the paranormal and ghosty bits, so I was looking forward to reading this. It didn't disappoint - Caroline has created a brilliant main character in Jennifer, a detective who also has a bit of psychic ability, whether she likes it or not. With a plot that twists and turns, I loved the fact that although I kept thinking I knew what was going to happen I never actually seemed to get it right - always a good sign! 

Jennifer and Will's relationship was another aspect of the novel that I really enjoyed - there's plenty of banter between them and I was hoping for a little bit of a love story to get worked in there too, although obviously not too much - we are talking about battling a serial killer ;)

Having read Caroline's previous book, Paranormal Intruder, which is a true story, I knew that Caroline had first hand experience of paranormal goings-on and that made the whole other-worldly part of the novel even more convincing to read.

In short, Don't Turn Around gets 5 stars from me - a fantastically spooky crime thriller which doesn't fail to hook the reader from the first page. Don't Turn Around is out now and you can get it here:

**Thank you to lovely Kim Nash at Bookouture for my ARC**

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Normal - Graeme Cameron

"He lives on your street, in a nice house with a tidy garden. 
He shops at your local supermarket. He drives beside you, waving to let you into the lane ahead of him. 
He also has an elaborate cage in a secret basement under his garage. 
The food he’s carefully shopping for is to feed a young woman he’s holding there against her will – one in a string of many, unaware of the fate that awaits her. 
This is how it’s been for a long time. It’s normal…and it works. Perfectly. 
But this time it’s different… 
Dark, twisted and compelling, this is the most exciting and original thriller of the year."

This was brilliant - usually your average psychological thriller involves a really nasty evil killer-type fella, who everyone is happy to see foiled by the end of the novel. Not in the case of Normal. I really, really liked the unnamed psycho killer in this book - he really actually is quite normal (as the title suggests), apart from the whole needing-to-kill people scenario. 

A brilliant plot, with some excellent characters - I did particularly like Erica although I was unsure at first if she was suffering from a touch of Stockholm Syndrome or if she, too, was a bit crackers in the head - I highly, HIGHLY recommend Normal - especially if you're getting slightly tired of your average, run-of-the-mill serial killer. 

Normal is out now and you can get it here:

Friday, 17 April 2015

Close to Home - Lisa Jackson


The house where Sarah McAdams grew up has always terrified her. But now she's moved back with her daughters, determined to put her childhood fears behind her.

It's harder than she thought. Increasingly haunted by the past, Sarah soon realises that the present has its own threats. One by one, teenage girls are disappearing...

Frantic for her daughters' safety, Sarah feels the house's walls closing in on her once more. Somewhere deep in her memory is the key to a very real danger. 

And only by confronting the terrifying truth can she protect her children from a nightmare that is roaring back to life…"

I read this in one sitting - creepy, chilling and with a hint of the paranormal, I couldn't put it down. I found Lisa Jackson's writing reminiscent of Mary Higgins Clark, (not a bad thing), in that she writes clearly, with likeable characters that while generally tending to be "nice" they also have strong traits that mean they can kick ass when they need to. 
The plot for this novel was very good - there were plenty of twists and each time I thought I knew who was behind it all, they either turned up dead or popped up somewhere else - and there is nothing more satisfying for a reader who loves a mystery than getting to the end of the story with NO IDEA who the culprit is. I loved the historical back story that ran along side Sarah's tale - this also reminded me of something that might crop up in a Mary Higgins Clark book, and I felt that it added something a little extra to the story.

Close to Home is out now and you can get it here:

**Thank you to the publisher and Bookbridgr for my ARC**