Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Techbitch - Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

"Imogen Tate, editor-in-chief of Glossy magazine, is a legend in the fashion world. But when she returns from a sabbatical to find her twenty-six-year-old former assistant, Eve Morton, behind her desk, she realises times are changing.
Armed with a business degree, naked ambition and an iPhone, Eve announces she has been brought in to turn Imogen's beloved magazine into an app. With herself at the helm.
In this terrifying new world, Imogen is almost invisible. In place of her team of dedicated staff is a constantly evolving line of twenty-something bloggers at their desks day and night ('Only losers need sleep!'), amateur snaps instead of elegant photo shoots, and a URL address in place of Imogen's glossy pages.
But Imogen isn't ready to give up her hard-earned career without a fight. Where Eve has Twitter followers, Imogen has experience, talent and real relationships, and she's prepared to fight for the fashion world she knows and loves. Even if it means going to war with a ruthless Techbitch . . ."

This was a good read - but I have to say I found it hard to relate to either Imogen or Eve - Eve is young and dynamic and a complete techno-whizz (which I am not), Imogen is older, wiser and a complete techno-dunce, (which I also am not!), so I felt like I kind of came in the middle of these two characters - I can find my way round an iPhone, but I can't set up an entire website, (well, I probably could, but it would take me about 4 years). 

I did find the whole "bitch" side of the story far more entertaining than the "tech" side. We've all worked with someone who is a complete BITCH - someone who thinks they know it all, their ideas are the best and puts down every other person in the office - this I could relate to, and I found myself rooting for Imogen to take Eve out, and for Eve to get her comeuppance. 

Apart from a little too much "tech-speak" for me - there were parts in the beginning that, although I understood that it was necessary to the story to include them, I found myself glazing over a little, this was a good read, and Imogen is a brilliant character. 

Techbitch is out now and you can get it here:

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

Monday, 27 July 2015

Bride Without a Groom - Amy Lynch

"Single, coupled-up or married, this laugh-out-loud summer read is the perfect anecdote for the wedding season!
Rebecca has chosen the most luscious, five tiered, wedding cake. The engagement ring that she has selected is celebrity inspired. The wedding singer is on speed dial. He doesn’t usually do Michael Bolton, but as it’s for a first dance he’ll make an exception. Father Maguire is checking dates for the parish church as we speak. The deposit on the white sand honeymoon is paid for in full on Barry’s card. She has fallen for an ivory lace couture gown that is to die for. The down payment may require her to sell a left kidney, but it will be worth it. Isn’t that why you have two?
There’s one teeny tiny problem. It’s nothing, really. No need to panic! It’s just that Barry has yet to propose. Says he’s not ready! He can be a bit of a kill joy that way. It’s time to face the harsh reality – Rebecca is a bride without a groom!"

Sometimes, you just can't beat a good old romantic comedy - and this was hilarious. Rebecca is probably the most spoiled, selfish, high-maintenance character I have come across since Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic Becky, and I LOVED HER. She's irritating, self absorbed and there is no way on Earth I would ever be friends with her in real life, but I still thought she was brilliant. I am a massive goody two shoes, and would love to get away with the cheek that Rebecca displays - from "accidentally" ordering a honeymoon on Barry's credit card (before he's even proposed) to literally NEVER going to work (each excuse more fanciful than the last) she is a living nightmare - but underneath it all she is really quite sweet, and although I did feel sorry for poor old Barry at times, I was totally rooting for Rebecca to get the wedding she deserved. 

A funny, sweet, romantic tale I really enjoyed this and am looking forward to hearing more from Amy Lynch. 

Bride Without a Groom is out now and you can get it here:

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

Friday, 24 July 2015

Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm - Rebecca Raisin

"Lucy would do anything for her mom…but she never expected to end up promising to leave her. After her mom got sick, Lucy dropped everything to take care of her, working all hours in a greasy diner just to make ends meet and spending every spare moments she had by her mom’s hospital bedside.

Now, Lucy is faced with a whole year of living by her own rules, starting by taking the first bus out of town to anywhere…

Except she didn’t expect to find her next big adventure just around the corner! Especially when on her first day in town she bumps into grumpy, but oh-so-delicious Clay amidst the maple trees. Surrounded by the magic of Ashford, Lucy has the chance to change her life forever and finally discover a life she wants to live!"

I loooooove Rebecca Raisin - she is the Queen of proper pick-me-up feel good stories that are guaranteed to make you feel better, so I was super excited to get my hands on Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm. 

I have to say, going back to Ashford and revisiting all the lovely characters from Rebecca's previous books was LOVELY, like getting in a hot bath on cold day, but this novel was so much more than I have come to expect from Rebecca. Whilst the old characters featuring in the story was lovely, her new characters are also brilliant - I loved Clay, his moodiness mixed with swoon-iness (Not a real word, but hey ho). One aspect I did really enjoy, alongside the development of Lucy and Clay's relationship was the SECRET - it really gave a little something extra to the story and kept me reading long after I should have gone to sleep. 

I think I have a new favourite in Rebecca's series and I'm hoping we get to see a lot more of Lucy and Clay!

Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm is out now and you can get it here:

**My thanks to the publisher and lovely Tay Pickering for my ARC**

Thursday, 23 July 2015

If She Did It - Jessica Treadway

"What if you began to suspect your child of an unspeakable crime?

One night changed everything. A father murdered in his bed. A mother beaten almost to death. A daughter who claims she knew nothing about her boyfriend's murderous plans. But is she telling the truth?

Hanna can't remember the details of what happened that traumatic night, she barely survived the brutal assault that left her a widow. However, if she is to keep her husband's killer in jail, she knows she has to try. But Hanna hadn't realised that those memories may cause her to question everything she thought she knew about her daughter…"

I found this a really unsettling read - I knew there was something a little "off" all the way through the novel but wasn't really sure what it was. Jessica Treadway is very successful at creating tension in that, while the reader knows that there is a possibility that Hanna's daughter was involved in her attack, it's not make completely clear what happened and which of the characters the reader can trust - I really enjoyed this whole aspect of the novel, and although the ending wasn't a complete surprise, Treadway's characters are almost unknown at the end from the characters that they were in the beginning. 

I also enjoyed Treadway's style of writing - there is a lot of narrative as the story is being told from Hanna's point of view and the writing seems to focus on that rather than any dialogue that takes place, but it flows well and there is no chance of becoming bored. 

Not your average psych thriller, I enjoyed this despite the fact that it did give me the creeps in some places!

If She Did It is out now and you can get it here:

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

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

What Remains - Tim Weaver

When all has been lost what is there left to find?
Colm Healy used to be one of the Met's best detectives. Until, haunted by the unsolved murders of a mother and her twin daughters, his life was left in ruins. His failure to find an elusive killer - or even a motive for such a merciless crime - consumed him, his career and his family.
Missing persons investigator David Raker is the only friend Healy has left. The only one who understands that redemption rests on solving these murders. As they reopen the investigation together, Raker learns the hard way how this case breeds obsession - and how an unsolvable puzzle can break even the best detective.
Their search will take them down a trail of darkness, unravelling a thread of tragedy spanning years, and will force them to sacrifice everything they have left . . .

There are a handful of authors who, when they release a new book, I just go out and buy it. I don't read the blurb and I don't check out any reviews because I am 99% confident that they won't let me down and Tim Weaver is one of those authors. What Remains absolutely DID NOT let me down. I am a big Raker fan and was hoping that Tim Weaver could create another brilliant scenario for David Raker to fix.
A brilliant plot takes hold straight away - it's hard to review without giving away any spoilers! - but there are plenty of twists and turns. If, like me, you've followed Raker and Healy from the beginning I've no doubt you will be shrieking and gasping as much as I was, but if you haven't its no bother - What Remains is written in such a way that you don't need to have read the previous books in the series (although I guarantee that if this is your first Raker novel, you'll want to go back and read them all). 
I had absolutely NO clue who was behind everything that goes on in the novel, and the final plot twist was FANTASTIC - surely no one could ever see it coming?
An amazingly twisty-turny 5 star read, if you haven't discovered David Raker yet then I think it's time you did.
What Remains is out now and you can get it here:

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

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Girl Who Wouldn't Die - Marnie Riches

When a bomb explodes at the University of Amsterdam, aspiring criminologist Georgina McKenzie is asked by the police to help flush out the killer.
But the bomb is part of a much bigger, more sinister plot that will have the entire city quaking in fear.
And the killer has a very special part for George to play…
A thrilling race against time with a heroine you’ll be rooting for, this book will keep you up all night!"

I have to say just one thing - I LOVE George McKenzie. She is everything I want my main character to be - particularly when it's a woman. She's feisty, confident and smokes too much - I love her! 
I found the storyline in this novel one of the grippiest I've read in a long time. Everything is very fast-paced and the story flows very well - I particularly enjoyed the cheeky little twist that popped up half way through. I didn't see the twist coming, although in hindsight there are little clues dotted throughout, and that was something that added to the read, the idea that the twist is there, but the reader really doesn't see any relevance to the clues around it. 

The relationship between George and the policeman in charge of the case is very intriguing - I'm looking forward to this relationship (hopefully) developing further in further books, she's a prickly character but I think they will end up being a good team!

The setting and descriptions are brilliant - just seedy enough to enhance the story without being full on graphic (in a gross way), and the writing really brings the setting to life. If you're a fan of Jo Nesbo, Ragnar Jonasson or nordic/scandi noir in general then this one is definitely for you. 

The Girl Who Wouldn't Die is out now and you can get it here:

**My thanks to the author for my copy**

Monday, 20 July 2015

A Weekend in Harrogate!

This weekend saw my first trip to the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate - an amazing weekend! It was brilliant to finally meet some of the authors that I have reviewed for in the flesh, and to be able to chat with members of the amazing Facebook book club, THE Book Club.

TBC Gang!

It kicked off on Thursday evening with the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year, won by the lovely Sarah Hilary….and I also bumped into Mel Sherratt.

Lovely Mel Sherratt and Sarah Hilary

Friday started early with a brilliant "in conversation" between Val McDermid and Sara Paretsky, followed by a signing, and ended with the Dead Good Reader Awards which were brilliant - Marnie Riches, Peter James and Ann Cleeves all picked up awards, and the WONDERFUL Brenda Blethyn who plays Vera in the TV series was also there to pick up the award with Ann, which was presented by Lee Child.

Award Winners!
Meeting Val McDermid following her conversation with Sara Paretsky, the v famous CC!

Saturday was a blur of Pimms, Forensics, an "in conversation" with Ann Cleeves and Lisa Gardner and the brilliant Eddie Izzard being interviewed by Mark Billingham. We got to solve a murder mystery at the evening dinner with our author host, Claire MacGowan (we didn't win), and then went on to take part in Mark Billingham and Val McDermid's quiz (also didn't win - shockingly shit actually! Although Caroline Mitchell did quite well with her beer tasting skills). 

Team Hall murder mystery solvers
CC with her two favourite Lisas

It was an absolutely fantastic weekend - worth every penny. I met so many lovely people, including some authors whose books I have LOVED this year, including Claire Mackintosh, Cally Taylor, Graeme Cameron and Alexandra Sokoloff. The atmosphere was lovely and relaxed and the icing on the cake was the huge amount of books provided by lovely publishers in several goody bags that were given out. Mr H is kind of not feeling the same way about the books, but he's got a year to get over it before I do it all again.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

A Mothers Story - Amanda Prowse

"I deserve all this because I did the worst thing a woman can do. The very worst. 
Jessica's wedding was like a fairytale. Her dress strewn with crystals. Her dad made a tearful speech. Her husband Matthew declared himself the luckiest man alive. 
But when their beautiful baby girl is born, Jessica is gripped by panic. She can't tell anyone how she feels. Even when her life starts to spiral out of control... 
This is her story. A mother's story."

This was my first Amanda Prowse novel, and its not going to be my last - a little different to my usual read, I thought I would struggle to get into it but the story line pulled me in from the beginning. In the beginning I couldn't take to Jess's character at all - she comes across as fairly childish and almost a little selfish, but I did enjoy seeing her grow up through out the story and once she became pregnant I found her a lot more likeable. 

The characters are all well-written, and I liked the way Paz and Polly were supportive of Jessica all the way through the story, without giving away any spoilers. The subject was handled incredibly sensitively, and I think there are many aspects to the novel that many first-time mums can relate to, I know that there were certain times through Jess' pregnancy when I stopped and thought, "I know that feeling!".

The ending is heartbreaking and emotional, and not quite what I expected - a good thing, and I am impressed with the way Amanda Prowse has dealt with Jess' story. 

A Mother's Story is out now and you can get it here:

**Many thanks to the publisher and the folks at LoveReading for my copy**

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Blood Moon/Huntress Moon/Cold Moon - Alexandra Sokoloff

"FBI Special Agent Matthew Roarke is closing in on a bust of a major criminal organization in San Francisco when he witnesses an undercover member of his team killed right in front of him on a busy street, an accident Roarke can’t believe is coincidental. His suspicions put him on the trail of a mysterious young woman who appears to have been present at each scene of a years-long string of “accidents” and murders, and who may well be that most rare of killers: a female serial.
Roarke’s hunt for her takes him across three states...while in a small coastal town, a young father and his five-year old son, both wounded from a recent divorce, encounter a lost and compelling young woman on the beach and strike up an unlikely friendship without realizing how deadly she may be.
As Roarke uncovers the shocking truth of her background, he realizes she is on a mission of her own, and must race to capture her before more blood is shed."

"Twenty-five years have passed since a savage killer terrorized California, massacring three ordinary families before disappearing without a trace. The only surviving victim of his rampage was a child…who is now wanted by the FBI for brutal crimes of her own.
Special Agent Matthew Roarke is on an interstate manhunt to track her down, despite feeling torn between his dedication to duty and his sympathy for her horrific history and motives. But when Roarke’s search unearths evidence of new family slayings, the dangerous woman he seeks—and secretly wants—may be his only hope of preventing another bloodbath. He just has to find her first.
The pulse-pounding sequel to Huntress Moon is sure to leave readers on the edges of their seats."

The hunt for mass murderer Cara Lindstrom is over. FBI Special Agent Matthew Roarke has been working for this moment: the capture of a killer who savagely hunts the worst of humanity. But Roarke remains traumatized by his own near-death at the hands of the serial killer who slaughtered Cara’s family…and haunted by the enigmatic woman who saved his life.
Then the sixteen-year-old prostitute who witnessed Cara’s most recent murder goes missing, and suddenly pimps are turning up dead on the streets of San Francisco, killed with an MO eerily similar to Cara’s handiwork.
Is a new killer on the loose with a mission even more deadly than hers? In the pulse-pounding third Huntress/FBI Thrillers book, Roarke will have to go on the hunt…and every woman he meets, even those closest to him, may prove deadly.

I feel I have to review this series as one, seeing as how I picked up Blood Moon on a Friday evening and didn't stop reading until a few days later when I finished Cold Moon. It's very rare that I enjoy a series enough to want to read the whole lot in one go - I most often have to split them up and throw a couple of different genres in there to mix things up a bit and stop me from getting bored but this wasn't the case with the "Moon" series.

Alex's characters are just brilliant - you can't help but love Roarke, and his relationships with his team were fascinating but more intriguing however, is his relationship with his prey - the elusive female serial killer that he is chasing. Nothing is as straight forward as it appears,  and I found myself actually liking the killer in this case. Where usually we expect to dislike the killers/evil chaps that crop up in usual crime novels, the killer's character in this series is so complex and intriguing that I couldn't help but be drawn in by her.

I dived straight into Blood Moon from Huntress Moon, and was so sure that I would be disappointed by Cold Moon - I just couldn't see where Alex was going to take the story after the end of the second novel - I was NOT disappointed - it seems that this series is just going to get better and better. In fact, I sort of wish I had eked them out a bit instead of gobbling them up in one go!

The Moon series is out now and you get it here:

**My thanks to the author for introducing me to this BRILLIANT series!**

Monday, 13 July 2015

Beyond The Sea - Melissa Bailey

"One summer's day, Freya's husband and son vanish at sea.
A year on, and struggling to cope, Freya returns to the lighthouse-keeper's cottage on a remote Hebridean island, where she and her family spent so many happy times.
Haunted by visions of her old life, Freya's dreams are dark and disturbed. And when a stranger, Daniel, is washed ashore during a storm, they turn even more menacing.
As dream and reality start to merge, Daniel seems to be following Freya's every move. What does he want from her and is he everything he seems to be?
Is her mind playing tricks? Or is the danger that she senses very real?"

This was a really good read, although a little slow to start. It's an emotional story, the story of Freya and the loss of her husband and son at sea - we join Freya after she has suffered her loss and see how she is coming to terms with it. The story is really very emotional but handled week - there were tears, especially when Freya comes across items from her son that she wasn't expecting. 

I found the story that runs parallel to Freya's story very intriguing - the tales of mermaids, sailors and the lighthouse were fascinating and I loved the idea of old letters washing up to be read four hundred years later. Torin was a particularly fascinating character, and I would have been happy to see more of him in the novel - I wasn't keen on Daniel, however. I didn't find him very intimidating and I think he could have been a slighter darker character.

A good read, with a fascinating undercurrent of mermaids and magic.

Beyond The Sea is out on 16th July and you can get it here:

And a lovely special treat! Melissa Bailey has very kindly written a piece for my blog on getting published:

Being Published: The Reality
It’s become clear to me over the years that a lot of people (or most of my family at least!) have little idea what being a published author actually means. When I got my book deal from Arrow back in 2012, my family were divided between those who assumed that I would now be dashing out bestsellers every few weeks and comfortably making millions (Auntie Thora) and others who assumed I’d make less than no money and that it’d take forever (Uncle Frank).
I hated to disillusion them - well, Auntie Thora anyway, who I was secretly hoping might be right. But the truth, as ever, lay somewhere in between. So, much as I love myths, I thought I’d dispel a few of the favourites.
It generally takes more than a handful of days to write a novel.
I know, shocker, right. Sorry Auntie Thora.
A lot of fiction writers need at least a year to produce a book and it takes me a little longer. Now, of course, there are exceptions to this. Kazuo Ishiguro famously dashed off The Remains of the Day during a four week “crash”. Oh yeah, and probably made millions from it. But that’s far from the norm. A handful of writers do extremely well (I’m thinking JK Rowling, EL James, John Grisham, James Patterson). A good number do well enough to write full time. But the largest proportion struggle to make a living from their books.
However, I don’t think it’s ever quite as bad as Uncle Frank had imagined. I remember him asking me when he came to visit once if we’d had to re-mortgage the house to give money to the publishers (about £50,000 he seemed to think). Slightly taken aback, I explained that that wasn’t quite how it worked - that the publishers in fact paid me an advance so that I could spend time writing. They then recovered that from the profits of the book, and were entitled to far greater profits than me because they were the ones taking the risk. Uncle Frank looked genuinely shocked. I’d obviously dislodged some long held view of the way things worked.
When I showed him the study where I write, he went on to voice what I think is a more commonly held view. ‘Ah, so this is where you sit and wait for inspiration!’ I nodded and laughed, not wanting to disabuse him again. But it doesn’t really work like that either. Contrary to what most of my family think, I am not generally found wandering around my house in a kaftan, sipping on mint juleps and waiting for the muse to strike. More’s the pity. I’d love to be doing that on a daily basis. But instead, I am found in that same study, tapping away, trying hard to improve my writing.
In short, being a writer is much like any other career. The longer you do it, the better you become at it. You have to slog away – the breakthroughs come because you’re working hard, not because you’re waiting for moments of genius to descend. There are deadlines and pressures – just like any other job. It’s a tough and uncertain career. Time is spent agonising over whether people will like your book or whether in fact anyone will buy it at all! And it can be lonely, stuck in your own head for so much of the time. But that’s where the joys of social media come in. Through it I’ve met so many lovely authors and fabulous book bloggers who provide a huge amount of positivity and support.
All things considered, the good, the bad and the ugly, I love being a writer. And I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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

Saturday, 11 July 2015

The Doctor's Daughter - Vanessa Matthews

"It’s 1927, women have the right to vote and morals are slackening, but 23 year old Marta Rosenblit is not a typical woman of her time. She has little connection with her elder sisters, her mother has been detained in an asylum since Marta was born and she has spent her life being shaped as her father Arnold’s protégé. She is lost, unsure of who she is and who she wants to be. Primarily set in Vienna, this dark tale follows her journey of self-discovery as she tries to step out of her father’s shadow and find her identity in a man’s world. Her father’s friend Dr Leopold Kaposi is keen to help her make her name, but his interest is not purely professional and his motivations pose greater risks that she could possibly know. Marta's chance encounter in a café leads to a new friendship with young medical graduate Elise Saloman, but it soon turns out that Elise has some secrets of her own. When Marta’s shock discovery about her family story coincides with her mother’s apparent suicide, Marta can’t take anymore. None of the people she has grown to love and trust are who they seem. Her professional plans unravel, her relationships are in tatters and her sanity is on the line – and one person is behind it all."

In all honesty, when I first started reading this, I wasn't sure if it was for me. In setting the scene and unveiling the relationship between Marta and her father, there is a lot of psychology references and while I didn't mind it so much, it did mean that the first few chapters are fairly hard going. That said, I am very pleased that I stuck with it - what started off slowly turned into a compelling and intriguing read, with a nice unexpected twist, that I struggled to put down.

I enjoyed seeing the way the relationship built up between Marta and Elise - I felt sorry for Marta in the beginning as she doesn't seem to know where she fits in the world, and is incredibly lonely and that coupled with the lack of respect she receives from those around her, including her father and the children that she teaches, made me root even more for her to put her stamp on those circles she moved in. 

Although slow to start I would advise any reader to stick with The Doctor's Daughter. While none of the characters are particularly likeable, I found the relationships between Marta and those around her interesting, and it comes with a fine twist.

The Doctor's Daughter is out now and you can get it here:

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

Friday, 10 July 2015

Too Close to Home - Susan Lewis

"Jenna and Jack Moore have moved their family to Wales for a fresh start. For vivacious, happy-go-lucky fifteen-year-old Paige the future is full of promise. 
But suddenly everything changes. Paige becomes more and more withdrawn. The closeness she once shared with her mother a distant memory. 
It then becomes clear that Jack has secrets too. Preoccupied with her younger children, her husband’s fidelity and their fledgling publishing company, Jenna doesn’t realise the extent of her eldest daughter’s unhappiness until the unthinkable happens.
And the nightmare is only just beginning…"

This was an excellent read, and one that tugged at my heartstrings completely. Focussing on Jenna, I really felt for her - her husband has a ton of secrets, and so does her daughter and it seemed like Jenna was the one left juggling all the balls in the air. As a mum, I found Jenna's emotional reactions to events very easy to relate to - and in some places very awkward, especially as parts of the book include events that can only be a mother's worst nightmare. 

I haven't read Susan Lewis before, but if her other books are any thing like Close To Home I will certainly be searching them out - her plot line moves at a decent pace, her characters are well rounded and her writing is excellent - the descriptions of the Welsh landscape on this novel are truly lovely and make setting the scene so much easier for the reader.

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

**Many thanks to the LoveReading guys and the publisher for my copy**

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The Quality of Silence - Rosamund Lupton

"On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrive in Alaska.
Within hours they are driving alone across a frozen wilderness
Where nothing grows
Where no one lives
Where tears freeze 
And night will last for another fifty-four days.
They are looking for Ruby's father.
Travelling deeper into a silent land.
They still cannot find him.
And someone is watching them in the dark."

I found this a weirdly "quiet" read, which is not surprising considering the title. The story of Yasmin and Ruby's trip to Alaska in their search for Ruby's Dad, they find themselves driving across the ice roads, in a huge truck, being pursued by someone - but who? 

The majority of the action in this novel takes place in the last quarter of the book, but the preceding three quarters of the story is so exquisitely written I couldn't put it down. The main focus, besides the search for Matt, is on Ruby and Yasmin and their relationship - the novel is set in the cab of a haulage truck driving across Alaska, so mother and daughter find themselves with a chance to reflect on their relationship and how they both deal with things. This part of the book I found kept me hooked more than the final pages, as it was fascinating to see how Yasmin and her husband disagreed on how Ruby should be treated, and how Yasmin herself sees her relationship with her daughter. The underlying tension regarding Matt's situation also makes for great reading - I had to carry on just to find out what had actually happened to him!

While this isn't an edge-of-your-seat, pulse-racing kind of a read, it is quietly compelling, and very, very difficult to put down. 

The Quality of Silence is out now and you can get it here:

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

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

First One Missing - Tammy Cohen

I was very excited to be asked to take part in the blog tour for First One Missing as I am a HUGE Tammy Cohen fan and have been recommending her books for ages to anyone who will listen. I was even more excited to find out that Tammy had written a blog post especially for my stop on the tour. As it's my stop today see below for Tammy's exclusive post and my review for First One Missing, plus the Amazon link.

The Killing Line
The first time I killed someone it weighed very heavily on me, in fact I very nearly lost sleep over it. But, it’s like they say, the second time it was much easier. And by the third and fourth times it was water off a duck’s back.
My name’s Tammy Cohen. I’m an author. And a serial killer. 
My first three books were about women in crisis. Though the situations they found themselves in – spurned lover, betrayed wife, grieving mother – were extreme, they were also recognisable. The whole time I was writing them, I was asking myself: would this happen? Is this likely? Because I wanted readers to relate to the characters, I tried to focus on behaviour and actions that tallied with most people’s experience.
Switching to crime in later books meant pushing the boundaries. Crime itself is on the outer limits of most people’s experience. It’s extreme. And most extreme of all is murder. Once you’ve killed off a character everything changes. The question becomes not would this happen, but could this happen? Ever? Killing off a character, means saying goodbye to writing about the universal human experience. And that’s quite scary.
I’m a pacifist by nature. I haven’t eaten meat since 1987. I catch insects in complicated arrangements of glasses and cardboard and throw them out of the door instead of squishing them. So my first murder was a big deal. Even though the act of violence took place largely off the page, the inclusion of it felt like crossing a monumental line. It’s the writing equivalent of cheating on a spouse. Once you’ve done it, there’s no going back. As a writer I was going from what I knew to what I had no concept of and that was a huge leap of faith. 
I kept putting it off, trying to think of ways around it. Was there a way of getting the same dramatic tension but stopping short of murder? The short answer was no. Justice needed to be seen to be done. But even though the character deserved it, I felt a huge burden of responsibility for having killed him.
Nowadays, I stress about it less. The line has already been crossed. Murder doesn’t any more feel like such a huge leap into the unknown.
Be afraid.


There are three things no-one can prepare you for when your daughter is murdered:
- You are haunted by her memory day and night
- Even close friends can't understand what you are going through.
- Only in a group with mothers of other victims can you find real comfort.
But as the bereaved parents gather to offer support in the wake of another killing, a crack appears in the group that threatens to rock their lives all over again.
Welcome to the club no one wants to join.
Wow. This is another seriously good read from Tammy Cohen - this time focussing on a group of parents whose children have been murdered. A tense, emotional read - I whizzed through this, all the while thinking that I didn't really know how Tammy was going to tie things up. It wasn't til I was nearly at the very end of the book that things came together and I was given the treat of a smashingly twisty ending. 
None of the characters are very pleasant, although I did like Leanne - she comes across as incredibly real and easy to relate to - but all of the other characters have issues and I couldn't find myself having a huge amount of sympathy with them. It's understandable that they all have issues, given the circumstances in which they all know each other and I found the fact that I found them hard to relate to good, given that I have never experienced what they are going through. 
In short, this was a bloody brilliant read - I had no clue how things were going to end and the twist is a cracker. I can't wait for more from Tammy Cohen.

First One Missing is out now and you can get it here:

**Huge thanks to the publisher for my ARC and to Tammy for her brilliant blog post**

Monday, 6 July 2015

Meet me in Malmö - Torquil Macleod

"A British journalist is invited to Malmö to interview an old university friend who is now one of Sweden s leading film directors. When he discovers the directors glamorous film star wife dead in her apartment, the Skåne County Police are called in to solve the high-profile case. Among the investigating team is Inspector Anita Sundström, who soon finds the list of suspects growing. As Anita battles to discover the answers amid the antagonism of some of her colleagues, she even begins to think that the person she is becoming attracted to could be the murderer. This is the first in a series of the best-selling crime mysteries featuring Inspector Anita Sundström."

This was a grippy crime read, that started off fairly slowly but soon gathered pace and really drew me in. The story flips back and forth between the present day and back to the days when Ewan, the journalist, and Mick, the film director, were at University together - this means that the reader gets to experience both past and present characters, an aspect that I really enjoyed as I felt it made the characters come to life. 
I really liked Ewan and Anita, and the way they danced around their relationship was intriguing - it was another part of the story that kept me hooked, alongside all the twisty turny red herrings that get thrown the readers' way throughout. However, the thing that made this book not-just-your-average crime read was the final twist - a complete shocker that I didn't really see coming (although there is some allusion to it, I just really couldn't see it happening!), that explodes onto the final pages it launched this book into the 4.5 star read realm for me.

Meet me in Malmö is out now and you can get it here:

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

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Little Black Lies - Sharon Bolton

"What's the worst thing your best friend could do to you?
Admittedly, it wasn't murder. A moment's carelessness, a tragic accident - and two children are dead. Yours.
Living in a small island community, you can't escape the woman who destroyed your life. Each chance encounter is an agonizing reminder of what you've lost - your family, your future, your sanity.
How long before revenge becomes irresistible?
With no reason to go on living, why shouldn't you turn your darkest thoughts into deeds?
So now, what's the worst thing you can do to your best friend?"

I was asked on receipt of this ARC by the publisher to, once I had finished reading, describe Little Black Lies. In three words. I eventually chose DARK, INTENSE and COMPELLING, because Little Black Lies is all of these things and so, so much more. It draws you in immediately, and won't let you go til the last page is read.
Based in the Falkland Islands, Sharon Bolton evokes a picture of a somewhat bleak place to live, with very few inhabitants, all intent on not only knowing each others secrets, but also keeping each others secrets from outsiders. There is almost a little mesh of intrigue hovering over the community, keeping the insiders in, and the outsiders from ever fully being welcomed. 
Alongside Catrin's story, which is the heartbreaking story of a mother who lost her children at the hands of her best friend, there is also a plot running parallel, about children disappearing from the island. I almost found this smaller, parallel plot more intriguing, as Bolton gives very little away. 
Some excellent strong characters and a highly secretive plot, combined with a subtle but neat ending makes this a fantastic five star read.

Little Black Lies is out on 2nd July and you can get it here:

**Thank you to the lovely peeps at Transworld for my ARC**