Category Archives: #AroundTheUkIn144Books

2017 and beyond challenge!

Review – Our Country Nurse by Sarah Beeson and Amy Beeson

The Blurb

All seems tranquil as newly qualified Health Visitor Sarah motors into a small Kentish hilltop village in her new green mini. She’s barely out of the car when she’s called to assist the midwife with a bride who’s gone into labour in the middle of her own wedding reception. And so her adventures begin…

As a health visitor Nurse Sarah is as green as grass but she puts her best foot into wellies and braves the mad dogs, killer ganders and muddy tracks of the farming community. Despite set-backs young Sarah is determined to help the mums she meets, from struggling young mothers in unmodernised farmhouses, to doyennes of the county dinner party set who slave over stuffed olive hors-d’oeuvres.

Village life in 1970s isn’t always quite the Good Life Sarah’s been expecting; her attempts at self-sufficiency and cider making lead to drunk badgers and spirited house parties – but will it be the clergyman, the vet or the young doctor that win Sarah’s heart. During her first year in Kent, Nurse Sarah Hill get stuck in – reuniting families and helping mums in the midst of community full of ancient feuds, funny little ways and just a bit of magic.

My Thoughts

Our Country Nurse is quite different from the genre of books I normally choose to read, but I’m always happy to broaden my horizons and after reading so many crime/thriller books recently I was ready for a change. As they say ‘a change is as good as a rest’ and Our Country Nurse was certainly a welcome break and perfect for a lighter summer read.

The story follows the true experiences of health visitor Sarah Beeson in 1975 as she moves from London to Totley village in Kent. Our Country Nurse is the follow up book to The New Arrival, however, it works well as a standalone. With a new setting and, therefore, new characters you do not feel as though you are missing any threads of the story.

I really liked the characters within the book. Sarah is a fairly young health visitor and her compassion for the job shines through. She is the kind of health visitor you would love to have visiting you and your child – non-judgemental, warm, full of appropriate and good advice, and caring. I also enjoyed the mix of periphery characters; from the glamorous Hermione to the somewhat sour Mrs Jefferies.

While the move from London to a quieter village is a big change for Sarah, and would appear on the surface to be, perhaps, an easier option. However, she meets a whole mix of characters in the families she works with who each face their own issues and difficulties. As an ex social worker who used to work alongside health visitors, it was particularly interesting to me to see how things in relation to child protection procedures have changed. I loved the way in which Sarah was able to assist her families in a timely manner around issues such as housing, without being as strangled by the current procedures I suspect current day health visitors are affected by. The setting and the time period gave me a real sense of the community within the village which appears to be, sadly, lacking in today’s cities and this made Our Country Nurse a really enjoyable read. Not everything is rosy though, as Sarah discovers, and difficulties within families alongside attitudes of the time ensure that Sarah is kept busy and challenged. Being transported back to the seventies also brought back fond memories (and less fond memories when it came to the state of some of the housing Sarah’s families reside in). Beeson has portrayed the era really well.

Our Country Nurse is a warm and enjoyable read with Beeson mixing heart-warming stories with the more moving stories in a way that works really well. Those who enjoy Call the Midwife I have no doubts will enjoy this book.

Published on 25 August 2016 by Harper Element.

A huge thank you to Sarah and Amy Beeson for my copy in exchange for my unbiased and honest review.


#AroundTheUKIn144Books book 9. County: Kent

Review – Ash and Bones by Mike Thomas

The Blurb

A cop killer on the loose in Cardiff – introducing a dark and gritty new voice in crime fiction, perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride and David Mark

At a squalid flat near the Cardiff docks, an early morning police raid goes catastrophically wrong when the police aren’t the only unexpected guests. A plain clothes officer is shot dead at point blank range, the original suspect is left in a coma. The killer, identity unknown, slips away.

Young and inexperienced, Will MacReady starts his first day on the CID. With the city in shock and the entire force reeling, he is desperate to help ­- but unearths truths that lead the team down an increasingly dark path…

My Thoughts

I have had Ash and Bones sitting waiting to be read for a while. The perfect opportunity came up to read it as part of the 144 books around the UK challenge and the fact that the second in the Detective MacReady series is due out over the summer. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t believe it took me so long to get around to reading it.

Set in Cardiff, Ash and Bones follows trainee detective Will MacReady as he sets out on his new career path. He is introduced to his new team with a bang when a raid goes wrong and one of Cardiff’s oldest and most respected Detectives is killed on the job. Determined to bring the killer to justice, especially as it is one of their own that has been killed, it soon becomes apparent that there is more to this killing than first meets the eye.

Ash and Bones is a no-holds barred, gritty and compelling read. Thomas’s experience of being a police officer comes through to give the novel a really authentic feel. There is no glitz and rose-tinted view about what it is like to be a detective, instead all of the difficulties and challenges that the police face are there, along with the mindset that comes following a number of years in the force and the sections of society you deal with on a day to day basis. I really got this and understood the frustrations after a number of years working within social services where you are governed and frustrated by red-tape and you spend the majority of your life dealing with the darker side of human nature. This worked brilliantly for me and really helped to draw me into the book as the experience felt real. There is quite a lot of police jargon, however this is easy to follow and adds to rather than detracts from the book.

I really liked MacReady as a character and I liked the fact that he is a novice detective. All of the frustrations of not being considered able to carry out certain duties until he is fully trained, yet wanting to get stuck in and show initiative is there and I could relate to him. He has had a difficult upbringing and has his share of family troubles but he does not come across as a cliched. I look forward to following his career in the rest of the series.

As I said the novel is set in Cardiff, however there is also an international edge with the book being punctuated by a story set between Nigeria and Portugal. This intrigued me from the outset and gave me another reason to keep on reading to find out how the storylines would connect. Thomas kept me on my toes throughout the book with an ending that I hadn’t figured out.

A great start to a new detective series, Ash and Bones will appeal to those readers who like their crime novels to have a realistic edge and are not shy to walk on the seamier side of life in their reading. Gritty, dark and totally compelling, Ash and Bones is a cracking read.

Published on 25 August 2016 by Bonnier Zaffre

Continue reading Review – Ash and Bones by Mike Thomas

Blog Tour – The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards *Review and Author Influences*

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be taking part in Mark Edwards’ blog tour for his latest novel The Lucky Ones. I’m thrilled to be sharing my review AND I have the man himself taking part in Author Influences, so you can find out about Mark’s favourite books and authors. But first find out more about The Lucky Ones

The Blurb

It was the happiest day of her life. Little did she know it was also the last.
When a woman’s body is found in the grounds of a ruined priory, Detective Imogen Evans realises she is dealing with a serial killer—a killer whose victims appear to die in a state of bliss, eyes open, smiles forever frozen on their faces.
A few miles away, single dad Ben Hofland believes his fortunes are changing at last. Forced to move back to the sleepy village where he grew up following the breakdown of his marriage, Ben finally finds work. What’s more, the bullies who have been terrorising his son, Ollie, disappear. For the first time in months, Ben feels lucky.
But he is unaware that someone is watching him and Ollie. Someone who wants nothing but happiness for Ben.
Happiness…and death.
The Lucky Ones is the terrifying new thriller from the #1 Kindle bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Devil’s Work.

My Thoughts

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Mark Edwards’s books and so I was incredibly excited to receive an advance copy of The Lucky Ones. So what did I think? Is it as good as his other books? ‘As good as’ is an understatement … I think it’s his best yet and I absolutely loved it!

Set in a small village in Shropshire, this normally peaceful village has been rocked by a series of killings by who the media have dubbed ‘The Shropshire Viper’. DI Imogen Evans, a detective recently transferred from the Met, is the lead on the case and has her work cut out finding the killer. Ben, with his son Ollie, has recently moved back to the Shropshire village where he grew up following the separation from his wife. Little does he know he is going to be the Viper’s next target.

The prologue of The Lucky Ones drags you into the story and from there on it just doesn’t let you go! Perfectly paced, Edwards ruined many a planned early night as once I started this book I just could not put it down. It is utterly gripping!

The characters are great, and Edwards makes full use of telling the story from three perspectives. We follow DI Imogen Evans in third person narrative as she investigates the spate of killings. Imogen is struggling to adjust to life in a rural area after being part of The Met. Imogen is likeable and while she certainly has issues from her past she is not the cliched detective that we so often see in crime novels. Ben is immediately likeable as the single father who is adjusting to his new life after a recent run of bad luck, and we see things directly from his perspective through first person narrative. Then we have the chilling voice of the killer. I always love to get into the mind of the killer and Edwards provides this as parts of the story are told directly by The Viper. This is a killer with a very skewed view of life and death and this makes him intriguing and interesting.

The premise of The Lucky Ones is great and totally different as the killer focuses on making his victims, bizarrely, happy! If something is too good to be true, it probably is could be the lesson learned from The Lucky Ones. Edwards had me constantly thinking I had it all figured out as to who the antagonist was to then prove me totally wrong and clueless. He led me up so many garden paths I was beginning to feel like a horticulturalist! This book totally kept me enthralled and on my toes!

If you have to read only one thriller this year make it The Lucky Ones … You will not be disappointed. Utter perfection!

The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards is published by Thomas & Mercer on 15 June 2017 as an £8.99 paperback original.

A huge thank you to Mark Edwards, Lisa Shakespeare at Midas PR and Thomas and Mercer for my advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

And now I hand you over to Mark to tell you about his author influences…

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
When I was at primary school I mainly read comics – everything from 2000AD to Whizzer and Chips! – but my first favourite author was John Wyndham. I was desperate to read Day of the Triffids after watching the BBC adaptation. My dad took me to our local book shop to get a copy and the bookseller told him it wasn’t suitable for children. Luckily, he ignored her attempt at censorship.

A few years later, after I’d devoured Wyndham’s back catalogue, I read and loved the first two Adrian Mole books. I still quote them to this day and spent half my life looking for a girl, like Sharon Botts, who will do anything for 50p and a pound of grapes.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
It was the only subject I was good at. I loved writing stories, many of which were pretty dark and gruesome. I wrote a story about a house with walls that oozed blood when I was nine or ten. Later, when I was at secondary school, I was awarded the English Prize two years in a row. It remains the only literary prize I’ve ever won.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I mostly read crime novels and psychological thrillers. Elizabeth Haynes’ Into the Darkest Corner was the first of the current wave of psych thrillers that I read and it made me realise that was the kind of book I wanted to write. I was fortunate to start publishing psych thrillers – and domestic noir – just as it took off and became the most popular genre.

Having said that, I think the market is so saturated now that it’s getting harder to be original and fresh. There seem to be a lot of identikit domestic thrillers around at the moment, which is one reason my new book, The Lucky Ones, subverts the usual psychological thriller plot line by turning everything on its head…

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I love a good ‘end of the world’ novel and have always wanted to write one. I would love to pen something like Justin Cronin’s The Passage trilogy – something really epic and dark.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
It’s not a very original answer but it was initially Stephen King and James Herbert, plus Clive Barker to a lesser extent. I was a huge horror reader as a teenager and that was when I first started to dream about being a writer.

Then, in my early twenties, I read The Secret History by Donna Tartt, which remains my favourite book. It’s perfect in every way, and I yearn to make readers feel as I felt when I first experienced that book.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Yes, quite a few. The aforementioned Donna Tartt, along with Bret Easton Ellis, Mo Hayder (my favourite crime writer), Elizabeth Haynes, Paula Daly, CL Taylor…I could go on and on.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
This happens nearly every week! One that stands out is I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. That twist is so good – I think Clare really raised the bar with that and I’ve been obsessed ever since with coming up with a twist that good. To mention one more, I loved The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer because it was so funny. Every line is read-aloud brilliant.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Most of my psychological thrillers have been influenced by things that happened to me. The Magpies was based on my own experience of neighbours from hell; Follow You Home was inspired by a real-life disaster on a train in Europe. I don’t really base books on real crimes, although I had to research Harold Shipman for The Lucky Ones as my killer uses the same method to murder his victims. It’s terrifying that Britain’s most prolific serial killer was not a prowling Hannibal Lecter type but a seemingly trustworthy, mild-mannered medic. Although, come to think of it, both Shipman and Lecter were doctors…

A massive thanks to Mark Edwards for taking the time to answer my questions brilliantly. You have made my month!

About Mark Edwards

After a career that has taken in everything from answering complaint calls for a rail company to teaching English in Japan and being a marketing director, Mark now writes full-time.

He live in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, three children, a ginger cat and a golden retriever.

Connect with Mark

Website: www.markedwardsauthor.com

Twitter: @mredwards

Facebook: @markedwardsbooks

Follow the rest of the tour…

Continue reading Blog Tour – The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards *Review and Author Influences*

Review – Sandlands by Rosy Thornton

The Blurb

From the white doe appearing through the dark wood to the blue-winged butterflies rising in a cloud as a poignant symbol of happier times, the creatures of the Suffolk landscape move through Rosy Thornton s delicate and magical collection of stories. The enigmatic Mr Napish is feeding a fox rescued from the floods; an owl has been guarding a cache of long-lost letters; a nightingale s song echoes the sound of a loved voice; in a Martello tower on a deserted shore Dr Whybrow listens to ghostly whispers. Through the landscape and its creatures, the past is linked to the present, and generations of lives are intertwined.

My Thoughts

I was drawn to Sandlands by the cover and synopsis that promised ‘delicate and magical’ stories that incorporate wildlife and nature. It has been a long time since I read a collection of short stories, the last being Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected, and I have to say it made a really nice change from novels. I read them in sequence but it was nice to dip in and out of the different stories and reflect on each one in turn.

Each story is perfectly constructed with a mix of first and third person narrative which results in each tale being unique to the characters within. There are common threads throughout each, such as the setting and certain landmarks appearing regularly, giving a sense of continuity. Therefore, despite each story being a separate tale you get a real sense of place and they work beautifully together while simultaneously having a uniqueness.

Thornton’s prose is stunning. There is a breadth and beauty throughout the pages that transports you to the mudflats and marshes of Suffolk, combined with a tone that is haunting and evocative that has a deep effect on you. As a reader you become completely immersed in the surroundings and the narrative leaving you with the sense that you have been transported to another place.

Myth and legends, paganism and religion–many of which are unique to the setting–all play a part in each tale and along with the prose add a magical quality. This is, ultimately, a book about how the past and present collide and the connections between them. With each tale I was left feeling emotional and moved. The use of nature throughout gives Sandlands a mystical quality and, in some ways, a gothic feel. The placing of each separate story within the book is perfect beginning with the ethereal The White Doe and ending with the poignant Mackerel.

I adored Sandlands and it is book I will return to again and again. It is enchanting, alluring, evocative and beautifully written. Highly recommended.

Published on 21 July 2016 by Sandstone Press.

A huge thank you to Rosy Thornton for the copy of Sandlands in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.


#AroundTheUKIn144Books Challenge Book 6 – County: Suffolk

Review – The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite

The Blurb

Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village.

Nothing can shake her happiness – until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home.

Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk? 

As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger…

A completely gripping psychological thriller with a twist you won’t see coming. Fans of The Girl on the Train, The Sister and Before I Let You In will be captivated.

My Thoughts

Melanie and Jacob Oak along with their teenage daughter, Beth, appear to be the perfect family. Happily married and living in a small Lincolnshire village, the life they knew comes crashing down when Beth goes missing. The discovery that Melanie didn’t know her daughter as well as she thought she did makes The Darkest Lies an absorbing read.

Copperthwaite tells the story through Melanie, Beth and a third voice. Copperthwaite pulls off the multi-points of view brilliantly, Melanie’s anguish comes through and as she addresses her daughter via second person narrative throughout, you really get the sense of her loss, the despair she feels and her guilt for not protecting her daughter. I did go through a mix of emotions about Melanie, swinging from feeling deep empathy for her to wanting to shake her, but under similar circumstances we never know how we would react. Copperthwaite clearly distinguishes between Melanie and Beth’s voices, capturing teenage thoughts and expressions really well. And then there is the malevolent voice, speaker unknown, that sends a shiver down your spine!

I adored the sense of space in The Darkest Lies. The marshlands and flatness of Lincolnshire add atmosphere amongst the pages with Copperthwaite using them to maximum impact. The prologue blew me away with prose that is both dark and beautiful. It sets the tone of the book perfectly and I found myself reading it several times to savour the words on the page.

The Darkest Lies is an absorbing and compelling thriller that careens through the web of lies held by almost everyone in the village, as Melanie seeks to discover the truth about what happened to her daughter. This is also a novel about the unravelling of a mother in a desperate situation and is, at times, heartbreaking. There is a rawness to the emotions contained within and the reader is involved every step of the way. Copperthwaite’s descriptions of grief are eloquently and beautifully written.

Engrossing, moving, wonderfully written and with twists you don’t see coming, The Darkest Lies is a wonderful read.

Published on 12 May 2017 by Bookouture.

Thanks to Barbara Copperthwite, Bookouture and Netgalley for my copy in exchange of my review.


#AroundTheUKIn144Books Challenge Book 5:  County – Lincolnshire

Blog Tour – The Silent Wife by Kerry Fisher *Book Review*

I’m absolutely thrilled to be one of today’s blogs, along with Laura Bambrey Books, hosting for The Silent Wife by Kerry Fisher blog tour. Did I enjoy Kerry Fisher’s latest book? Read on to find out…

The Blurb

Would you risk everything for the man you loved? Even if you knew he’d done something terrible?

‘A heart wrenching and gripping tale. I was hooked from the very first page.’ Write Escape

Lara’s life looks perfect on the surface. Gorgeous doting husband Massimo, sweet little son Sandro and the perfect home. Lara knows something about Massimo. Something she can’t tell anyone else or everything Massimo has worked so hard for will be destroyed: his job, their reputation, their son. This secret is keeping Lara a prisoner in her marriage.

Maggie is married to Massimo’s brother Nico and lives with him and her troubled stepdaughter. She knows all of Nico’s darkest secrets – or so she thinks. Then one day she discovers a letter in the attic which reveals a shocking secret about Nico’s first wife Caitlin. Will Maggie set the record straight or keep silent to protect those she loves?

For a family held together by lies, the truth will come at a devastating price.

A heart-wrenching, emotionally gripping read for fans of Amanda Prowse, Liane Moriarty and Diane Chamberlain.

My Thoughts

Do you ever really know what goes on within a marriage?

I eagerly anticipated reading The Silent Wife by Kerry Fisher after really enjoying her previous novel, After The Lie. There is always a little trepidation in reading the latest novel by an author you have previously enjoyed as you hope it will live up to the expectations you have. I am pleased to say that Fisher has delivered again with an enthralling book that is unputdownable.

Told in first person narrative by the two main characters Maggie and Lara, The Silent Wife tells the story of Maggie who has joined the Farinelli family as Nico’s second wife following the death of his first wife and Lara who is the second wife of Massimo, Nico’s brother. While Lara struggles to maintain the public façade of her marriage and that of Massimo as doting husband and father, Maggie makes a discovery about Caitlin, Nico’s first wife, that could potentially devastate her husband and stepdaughter. The story lines make for compulsive reading as you eagerly anticipate what the outcome will be for the two women and the family as a whole.

Covering emotive subjects such as the difficulties that come with blending two families together, domestic abuse, and the dynamics of families; Fisher writes with empathy and yet also a wicked sense of humour which serves to draw you into the characters making The Silent Wife an emotional yet never maudlin read. Fisher writes with honesty about the subject of the emotions a second wife goes through in relation to her feelings about her predecessor that few would admit to out loud. Her depiction of domestic abuse within a relationship is also realistic and Fisher has clearly researched this subject carefully.

You cannot help but care about the main characters and Fisher has done a great job of giving both Maggie and Lara their own unique voice. That sense of the way we view other people compared to the reality and how they actually feel about themselves really comes through and is portrayed brilliantly.

I raced through The Silent Wife, finding it compelling and interesting. There were sentiments and responses I could really identify with and Fisher writes with an emotional intelligence. There is so much to think about and discuss it would make a great read for a reading group.

All-absorbing, emotionally acute and yet funny The Silent Wife is a compulsive read about secrets, lies, the complexities of families and keeping up appearances. A highly recommended read that will have you both laughing and crying and desperate to know the final outcome.

A huge thank you to Kerry Fisher and Kim Nash at Bookouture for the advance copy and the invite to take part in the blog tour. This is my honest and unbiased review.

Published on 24 February 2017 by Bookouture.

Purchase Links

UK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2gO2YZt
US 🇺🇸 http://amzn.to/2g9Uhay

About Kerry Fisher

Born in Peterborough, Kerry Fisher studied French and Italian, and taught English in Corsica and Spain before climbing to holiday rep and grape picker in Tuscany. She eventually returned to England to ‘get a proper job’, and spent two years in features at Essentials magazine. She now lives in Surrey with her husband, two teenagers and a very naughty lab/schnauzer called Poppy.

http://www.kerryfisherauthor.com/

Be sure to check out the rest of the hosts on The Silent Wife blog tour –


#AroundTheUKIn144Books Challenge Book 4 – County: East Sussex  

 

Review – Old Friends and New Enemies by Owen Mullen

The Blurb

The body on the mortuary slab wasn’t who Glasgow PI  Charlie Cameron was looking for.

But it wasn’t a stranger.

Suddenly, a routine missing persons investigation becomes a fight for survival. As Charlie is dragged deeper into Glasgow’s underbelly he goes up against notorious gangster Jimmy Rafferty and discovers what fear really is.

Rafferty is so ruthless even his own sons are terrified of him.

Now he wants Charlie to find something. And Jimmy Rafferty always gets what he wants.

There is only one problem…Charlie doesn’t know where it is.

My Thoughts

A dead body, missing money and Glasgow gangsters result in what could be Private Investigator Charlie Cameron’s most difficult case yet…not least because the dead body is that of an old friend and it has become personal!

Old Friends and New Enemies is the second book in the Charlie Cameron series. Initially I felt I had missed out as I have not read the first book The Games People Play and it took me a little while to get into the characters and the setting as I didn’t have the benefit of the backstory that had gone before in the previous book. However, as the book progressed I settled in, got to know the characters better, and it worked well as a standalone novel.

Charlie Cameron is a great character who I really warmed to. He has the right combination of being straight-forward with hidden depth which makes you want to get to know more about him. Mullen has created a great cast around Charlie in his friends which results in the reader feeling fully involved in their lives. I really liked the dynamics portrayed in the Rafferty family and Mullen has made the ‘bad guys’ gritty and two-dimensional with insights into their family and personalities. This always adds extra to the story as I always love to know more about the villains and their motivations.

Fast-paced with ‘Oh my God’ moments, Mullen writes well keeping up the momentum until the very end. With two investigations running concurrently, Mullen effectively keeps the reader’s interest with both until they reach their conclusions. There are also moments in the book in which Mullen writes about Charlie’s thoughts and feelings with a depth and sensitivity I wasn’t expecting.

A thoroughly enjoyable read, Old Friends and New Enemies is a great book with a protagonist I look forward to seeing more of. The Charlie Cameron series is set to become a firm favourite and I will definitely be reading The Games People Play, the first book in the series.

A huge thanks to Owen Mullen for my copy in exchange for my fair and unbiased review.

Old Friends and New Enemies is published in paperback on 6 February 2017 and Ebook on 21 February 2017 by Bloodhound Books.



#AroundTheUKIn144Books Challenge Book 3 – County: Glasgow

Review – Mary’s The Name by Ross Sayers

Marysthename

The Blurb

An eight-year-old girl and her granpa are on the run…

“When me and Granpa watched James Bond films, he told me not to be scared because people didn’t have guns like that in Scotland. That must’ve been why the robbers used hammers.”

Orphaned Mary lives with her granpa, but after he is mixed up in a robbery at the bookies where he works, they flee to the Isle of Skye. Gradually, Mary realises that her granpa is involved. And the robbers are coming after him – and their money.

Mary’s quirky outlook on life, loss, and her love of all things Elvis, will capture your heart. Full of witty Scots banter, Mary’s The Name will have you reaching for the hankies, first with laughter, then with tears.

Get ready to meet Mary…

Heart-warming and heart-breaking, this darkly comic debut is from a fresh voice set to become Scotland’s answer to Roddy Doyle.

My Thoughts

There’s something about Mary…

It is always a thrill to discover a great debut author and I always love the anticipation of starting their book. Ross Sayers is one of those fantastic debut authors who blows you away.

Mary’s The Name is the story of eight-year-old Mary Sutherland and her grandpa who, after a robbery, move from Stirling to Portree on the Isle of Skye. Mary discovers that her Granpa was involved in the robbery and the robbers have followed them. A real coming-of-age story, we follow Mary as she begins to realise that not everything in the world is as it first appears.

The characterisation in Mary’s The Name is wonderful! I absolutely adored Mary and felt a great affection for her. As I was coming towards the end of the book I really did not want to let her go. How Sayers, an adult male, has captured the thoughts and feelings of an eight-year old girl is testament to his talent as a writer. Mary is incredibly lovable and her personality shines through. The affection Sayers has for his characters jumps off the pages. With wonderful prose that draws you deeply into the story, Mary’s The Name is told in first person narrative from Mary’s point of view and I went through a whole sea of emotions while reading this book.

Mary’s relationship with her Granpa is wonderfully portrayed and Mary has reached that age in which she realises there is more to him than just being ‘Granpa’ – that he has a whole history and backstory that goes beyond his role as her care-giver. Their love for each other is incredibly touching and, I admit, it made me cry.

Sayers mixes humour and poignancy with ease, really capturing the child’s view of the world which has you laughing out loud and also those tricky moments children (especially girls) go through in relation to their friendships. He really made me feel as though I were viewing things through a child’s mind and Mary’s observations on life and what goes on around her are funny and acutely written. The reader is engaged immediately and the pace of the book is pitched perfectly, with the right combination of dark humour and hold your breath moments. Portree really comes to life through the pages of the book and I was transported there every time I settled down to read.

Mary’s The Name was an absolute joy to read. Simultaneously humorous and heart-breaking, this bittersweet, tenderly written novel touches you deeply and I guarantee you will fall in love with Mary. An accomplished debut novel, I really look forward to reading more by Ross Sayers in the future.

A huge thank you to Ross Sayers and Cranachan for the advance copy in exchange for my unbiased and honest review.

Published on 30 January 2017 by Cranachan publishing.


Challenge Banner[2422]#AroundTheUKIn144Books Challenge Book 2 – County: Highlands

Book Review – Lies by TM Logan

Lies

The Blurb

WHAT IF YOUR WHOLE LIFE WAS BASED ON LIES? A gripping new psychological thriller of secrets and revenge, perfect for fans of Harlan Coben and Tom Bale.

When Joe Lynch stumbles across his wife driving into a hotel car park while she’s supposed to be at work, he’s intrigued enough to follow her in.

And when he witnesses her in an angry altercation with family friend Ben, he knows he ought to intervene.

But just as the confrontation between the two men turns violent, and Ben is knocked unconscious, Joe’s young son has an asthma attack – and Joe must flee in order to help him.

When he returns, desperate to make sure Ben is ok, Joe is horrified to find that Ben has disappeared. 

And that’s when Joe receives the first message…

My Thoughts

Joe Lynch is a desperate man in a desperate situation. His whole world is rocked when, by chance, he sees his wife while out and follows her into a hotel to surprise her. He observes her having an argument with a friend and gradually everything he thought he knew comes crashing down around him. Joe realises his life has been built on lies.

From the blurb I expected Lies to be a fairly run-of-the-mill, wife-having-an-affair story. I don’t want to say anything at all about the plot—you really need to read the book—but I will say that Joe finds himself in a situation I wasn’t prepared for, taking me on a journey I really wasn’t expecting.

Racing along at an unprecedented rate, Lies keeps you frantically turning the pages in the pursuit to find out what will happen next. With a well written and perfectly pitched prologue, Logan hooks you in straight away building immediate interest to find out just what this story is going to be about.

Logan’s writing continues in this vein throughout with chapters just the right length and those all-important cliff-hanger endings. Told in first person narrative by Joe, the reader is effectively drawn into his life, following him every step of the way in the nightmare he finds himself in.

Joe as a character is a ‘nice-guy’. A teacher and good husband and father who puts his family first, but maybe a little bit naïve. I couldn’t help but root for him throughout the book. A lot of his naivety is around social media—something most of us are probably guilty of—and the role of social media in our lives plays an important part in this book. My views on the other characters changed as the book progressed and truths are revealed, as Joe, whose opinion of them we rely on as we see them through his eyes, realises his thoughts on the people around him are not necessarily accurate.

Logan’s observations on social media throughout the book give Lies a further edge and depth. As well as a great thriller, Lies is a commentary on how we play out our lives in public and the vulnerabilities this exposes us to. It also made me think about fate, chance and how a split decision action can change the direction of our lives in the blink of an eye.

Logan has written a great debut thriller. Lies keeps you gripped, guessing and turning those pages! I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

Thank you to TM Logan, Bonnier Zaffre (Twenty7) and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Published on Ebook on 17 January 2017 and paperback on 4 May 2017 by Twenty7.


#AroundTheUKIn144Books Challenge Book 1 – County: Greater London Challenge Banner[2422]

#AroundTheUKIn144Books – Challenge

Challenge Banner[2422]

You may have seen on Twitter and Facebook that Bloomin’ Brilliant Books is teaming up with Jenna at Jen Med’s Book Reviews and Rachel at Rachels Random Reads to complete an epic (crazy??) challenge.  We aim to read a book set in every county in the UK.  Are we mad? Probably, but it should be great fun and we hope you will join in along the way.  Jenna put out a post last week explaining the idea and ‘the rules’. 

Here is what she said…

So. Since yesterday when I introduced the idea of the Read the UK challenge, it has taken on a personality all of its own. It seems to be a very popular idea and I guess I can understand why. It also led to some debate over definition of a county and, if you take modern definition or current county boundaries, then the list is longer. A lot longer. Like an extra 58 books.
Never ones to run from a challenge though, Abbie and I are quite happy to redefine boundaries but it does mean that the challenge will take a little longer to complete. That’s okay. We have no time scales, we just want to know if it is possible. That said, it gets awful lonely on a long trip and while one of us is ‘driving’ the other will be sleeping (fat chance with two insomniacs on board lol) so we need a little company along the way.
And we found it. Joining us on this now epic 144-book challenge is none other than Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Reads. As Rachel reads different genres to me and Abbie we stand a much greater chance of completing so we are going to tackle all 144 counties, metropolitan boroughs or whatever the heck they are called these days in the UK and NI including all of the islands. Yep. Epic challenge indeed.
Our plan is thus:
1. No timescales. We read as we always intended to but we will endeavour to cross off all counties along the way. We may come looking for help i.e. book suggestions, and we’ll certainly be looking up all suggestions made so far – thanks for those.
2. We will post our review as and when the book is read and tag all posts #AroundTheUkIn144Books. Hopefully with your support we can get it trending on Twitter too – wouldn’t that be a hoot.
3. At least once a month we will try and ‘meet up’, perhaps reading a book from the same county but certainly delighting all you lovely bookish folk with a group update.
As for the rest… we’re winging it. This has to be a fun journey and it can’t interfere with the normal running of our blogs or it just won’t work. That said, it will be great to take stock this time next year and see how many counties we have visited between us. I’ll even try and find someone to map it for us because lord knows, I’ll be no good at that.
The new list of counties we are attempting to visit is below (note we are including London as one big lump as I’m too old and tired to try and separate books into the relevant boroughs and there will be much crossover anyway):
Aberdeen City                                                       Luton
Aberdeenshire                                                      Medway
Angus                                                                       Merseyside
Antrim                                                                      Merthyr Tydfi
Argyll and Bute                                                    Middlesbrough
Armagh                                                                   Midlothian
Bath and North East Somerset                     Milton Keynes
Bedford                                                                   Monmouthshire
Berkshire                                                                Moray
Blackburn with Darwen                                   Na h-Eileanan Siar
Blackpool Neath                                                 Port Talbot
Blaenau Gwent                                                    Newport
Bournemouth                                                       Norfolk
Bridgend                                                                 North Ayrshire
Brighton and Hove                                             North East Lincolnshire
Bristol                                                                      North Lanarkshire
Buckinghamshire                                                North Lincolnshire
Caerphilly                                                               North Somerset
Cambridgeshire                                                   North Yorkshire
Cardiff                                                                      Northamptonshire
Carmarthenshire                                                 Northumberland
Central Bedfordshire                                         Nottingham
Ceredigion                                                             Nottinghamshire
Cheshire East                                                       Orkney Islands
Cheshire West and Chester                            Oxfordshire
City of Edinburgh                                               Pembrokeshire
Clackmannanshire                                            Perth and Kinross
Conwy                                                                     Peterborough
Cornwall                                                                Plymouth
Cumbria                                                                 Poole
Darlington                                                             Portsmouth
Denbighshire                                                       Powys
Derby                                                                      Redcar and Cleveland
Derbyshire                                                            Renfrewshire
Devon                                                                     Rhondda Cynon Taf
Dorset                                                                     Rutland
Down                                                                      Scottish Borders
Dumfries and Galloway                                  Shetland Islands
Dundee City                                                         Shropshire
Durham                                                                 Somerset
East Ayrshire                                                       South Ayrshire
East Dunbartonshire                                       South Gloucestershire
East Lothian                                                        South Lanarkshire
East Renfrewshire                                             South Yorkshire
East Riding of Yorkshire                                 Southampton
East Sussex                                                          Southend-on-Sea
Essex                                                                       Staffordshire
Falkirk                                                                    Stirling
Fermanagh                                                          Stockton-on-Tees
Fife                                                                          Stoke-on-Trent
Flintshire                                                              Suffolk
GL: Greater London                                         Surrey
Glasgow City                                                       Swansea
Gloucestershire                                                 Swindon
Greater Manchester                                        Telford and Wrekin
Gwynedd                                                             Thurrock
Halton                                                                   Torbay
Hampshire                                                          Torfaen
Hartlepool                                                          Tyne and Wear
Herefordshire                                                    Tyrone
Hertfordshire                                                    Vale of Glamorgan
Highland                                                             Warrington
Inverclyde                                                          Warwickshire
Isle of Anglesey                                                West Dunbartonshire
Isle of Wight                                                      West Lothian
Kent                                                                      West Midlands
Kingston upon Hull                                        West Sussex
Lancashire                                                         West Yorkshire
Leicester                                                             Wiltshire
Leicestershire                                                   Worcestershire
Lincolnshire                                                      Wrexham
Londonderry                                                     York

So – where can you follow us on our epic UK ‘road trip’? Well here of course (Jen Med’s Book Reviews). It was my daft idea – can’t abandon the team now. I’m the designated driver – just call me Jennie Sat Nav.
You can also follow Tour Director – Abbie Rutherford over on www.bloominbrilliantbooks.com

Entertainment Director – Rachel Gilbey over on rachelsrandomreads.blogspot.co.uk
The adventure starts here. Wish us luck. Alternatively it you want to get on the ‘library bus’ and travel with us, let us know. The more the merrier.
Happy Reading All
JL

Given that anything below Hull is merely ‘somewhere down south’ to me this should be an interesting journey!  As Jen says, feel free to join in it should be a lot of fun.

Abbie x