Category Archives: Authors A to C

Reviews by authors surname A to C

Blog Tour – I’ll Eat When I’m Dead by Barbara Bourland *Review*

I’m delighted to be today’s host on the blog tour for Barbara Bourland’s debut novel I’ll Eat When I’m Dead.

The Blurb

RAGE Fashion Book is the world’s most dynamic, ambitious magazine.
Its editors ­- like Cat Ono – have the power to change minds and the market.
They’re savvy, sisterly and polished to perfection. Even the one found dead in her office.
Everyone thinks Hillary starved to death – but Cat knows her friend’s dieting wasn’t a capital P problem. If beauty kills, it’d take more than that. Hot-headed and fiercely feminist, Cat’s sure she can match the investigating skills of Detective Mark Hutton, solve the case, and achieve sartorial fulfillment.
But going undercover, Cat’s in over her head, and soon becomes snared in a very stylish web of drugs, sex, lies and moisturizer that will change her look – and outlook – forever.
Cat’s about to find out what it really means to be a fashion victim.

My Thoughts

Beauty can be deadly … quite literally in Hillary Whitney’s case. When the editor is found dead in one of the work rooms at Rage Fashion Book, the magazine she works for, a heart attack caused by near starvation is found to be the cause. However, friend and colleague Cat Ono suspects otherwise.

I have mixed feelings about this book, as somebody who doesn’t read magazines and has no interest in fashion and beauty, I’ll Eat When I’m Dead wasn’t an obvious choice of book for me. I was drawn in by the promise of biting humour and the investigation of a death. I did find some of the book amusing with its sardonic look at the fashion and publishing industry but I would have preferred more emphasis on the suspicious death of Hillary.

Cat Ono, the main character, is well constructed and likeable. A feminist at heart, she dislikes the way in which women are used as commodities but sadly finds herself pulled into this position. I loved the tongue-in-cheek humour with the names given to Rage’s photo shoots making me giggle. I’ll Eat When I’m Dead’s underlying theme is that of the murky side of the fashion industry and consumerism and Bourland highlights the impact of globalisation and how we, women particularly, are perceived to be worthy by the products they own, the clothes they wear and the way they look. The issues of bulimia are raised along with cocaine use and fad diets, all issues you would expect to see within the world of fashion.

Bourland has cleverly created a sardonic look at the world of fashion, however I would have liked more focus on the death of Hillary. While she captures the world of fashion and the pressures of working within a magazine environment really well, I did struggle to get into I’ll Eat When I’m Dead. I don’t think this is a reflection on the book or Bourland’s writing, but more about me and my tastes.

If you are interested in fashion and enjoy sardonic humour then give I’ll Eat When I’m Dead a read. The novel has a lot to say about some pertinent issues which I liked and parts of it made me laugh, however I was expecting more about the death and the investigation and the focus being on the fashion industry, sadly, meant it didn’t hold my attention.

Published on 18 May 2017 by Riverrun.

A huge thank you to Barbara Bourland and Alainna at Quercus for my advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Catch the rest of the tour…

 

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 – Want You Gone by Chris Brookmyre *Review*

Very, very excited to be on the Want You Gone by Chris Brookmyre blog tour today and sharing my thoughts on his latest book. I LOVED his last book Black Widow and could not wait to get my mitts on this book. Anyway, on to what Want You Gone is about and my thoughts on it…

The Blurb

What if all your secrets were put online?
Sam Morpeth is growing up way too fast, left to fend for a younger sister with learning difficulties when their mother goes to prison and watching her dreams of university evaporate. But Sam learns what it is to be truly powerless when a stranger begins to blackmail her online, drawing her into a trap she may not escape alive.
Who would you turn to?
Meanwhile, reporter Jack Parlabane has finally got his career back on track, but his success has left him indebted to a volatile source on the wrong side of the law. Now that debt is being called in, and it could cost him everything.

What would you be capable of?
Thrown together by a mutual enemy, Sam and Jack are about to discover they have more in common than they realise – and might be each other’s only hope.

My Thoughts

After absolutely loving the last book in the Jack Parlabane series, Black Widow, I could not wait to get my hands on this book. I have to admit to being new to Chris Brookmyre and the series, however, I intend to rectify this (when I find the time!) and read the rest of the books. Want You Gone did not disappoint and I loved this book. If you haven’t read the rest of the books in the series, don’t worry you can easily pick this book up and read it as a standalone.

I was gripped immediately. The prologue is dark, brooding and leaves you with so many questions you want answering you cannot help but read on. The compelling voice that kick starts the main body of the book after the prologue drags you in further, and what follows is a fast-paced, suspenseful, relevant thriller with another great main character alongside Parlabane.

I don’t want to talk about the plot too much as you need to discover this book for yourself, but I will say that Brookmyre has crafted a current novel which deals with cybercrime, hackers and corporate greed. As someone who is wary of social media, Want You Gone had me checking my PC security! Brookmyre has clearly researched the issues of internet security and hacker groups meticulously as it comes across as authentic. The plot is complex but expertly put together and full of jaw-dropping twists and turns.

Brookmyre has a knack of creating complex characters who leave you with a combination of feelings towards them, and Sam Morpeth in Want You Gone is no exception. She is a well-rounded character with a depth that makes her believable, and this is one of the joys of the two books in this series that I have read. He manages to incorporate these layers without slowing down the pace. You can’t help but like Jack Parlabane, he has had his fair share of troubles and just as he seems to be getting back on his feet, he is thrust back into a complex situation that threatens his well-being.

Want You Gone is an absolute cracker and this has put Brookmyre firmly on my list of favourite authors. A nail-biting, tense and twisty book that needs to be on your TBR pile!

Published on 20 April 2017 by Little, Brown.

A huge thank you to Chris Brookmyre, Little, Brown and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for my review. Thank you to Grace at Little, Brown for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Make sure to catch the rest of the bloggers on the tour.

Blog Tour – We All Begin As Strangers by Harriet Cummings *Review*

I’m so pleased to be on the We All Begin As Strangers by Harriet Cummings blog tour. Regular readers of the blog will know how much I love to discover a debut author so I was delighted when I was asked to take part in this. Today I’m sharing with you my thoughts on this book, but first what is it about?

The Blurb

It’s 1984, and summer is scorching the ordinary English village of Heathcote.

What’s more, a mysterious figure is slipping into homes through back doors and open windows. Dubbed ‘The Fox’, he knows everything about everyone – leaving curious objects in their homes, or taking things from them.
When beloved Anna goes missing, the whole community believes The Fox is responsible.
But as the residents scramble to solve the mystery of Anna’s disappearance, little do they know it’s their darkest secrets The Fox is really after…
Inspired by a real events, and with a brilliant cast of characters, WE ALL BEGIN AS STRANGERS is a beautiful debut novel you’ll want to recommend to everyone.
If you loved THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP by Joanna Cannon, ELIZABETH IS MISSING by Emma Healey and THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY by Rachel Joyce, you’ll adore this wonderful British debut novel.

My Thoughts

We All Begin As Strangers is the debut novel by Harriet Cummings. Set in the 1980s it centres around a small village in the Chilterns, the inhabitants of which are experiencing break-ins by someone they have nicknamed ‘The Fox’. Nothing of value is taken from the homes but, for obvious reasons, it unnerves the residents. When a much-loved resident of the village, Anna, goes missing, however, all fingers point towards her being kidnapped by The Fox.

Cummings was inspired to write this book by real events that took place in the 80s. A person the newspapers dubbed ‘The Fox’ was breaking into houses in villages across the Chilterns, but not stealing anything. The story of the real Fox is more sinister as he committed rapes during his reign of terror.

Told from the perspective of four of the village’s residents who spent time with Anna, We All Begin As Strangers is more than the mystery of a missing girl and a strange intruder. It is a story about loneliness, trust, secrets and the idiosyncrasies of human beings. Deloris is the dissatisfied newly-wed; Brian, the village police officer whose personal life is not straightforward; Jim is the local clergyman who harbours a secret from his past and Stan manages the local supermarket and struggles with a part of himself he can’t tell anyone about.

Anna is the villager everybody loves – regular church-goer, unassuming and quiet – the village is rocked when she disappears. Curtains twitch as each resident becomes suspicious of the others. How well do they really know each other? Could one of them be The Fox? As secrets and histories are unfurled, it would appear that nobody is as they seem. The Fox is integral to those secrets coming to light and one by one they get to know each other better, although not necessarily with a positive outcome for some.

Cummings captures what I imagine life in a small village where everybody knows everybody would be like although, as we discover, we often only know the part that the person wants us to see. Cummings is a great writer and has crafted a plot that is carefully put together. I have to admit to having mixed feelings about We All Begin As Strangers through the course of my reading with moments of loving the book to moments of not being sure if I actually liked it, and if I’m honest I can’t put my finger on why. The ending, however, blew me away and led to me having a completely different view of the novel as a whole. The idea behind We All Begin As Strangers fascinates me and the ending left me feeling satisfied and wanting to read it again to see what I would perceive differently.
This is not a fast-paced novel as it centres around the characters, their lives and feelings in the midst of an awful event. It relies on an interest from the reader in the quirks and nuances of human behaviour and village life alongside the need to get to the bottom of who The Fox is and the motives behind their behaviour.

I think We All Begin As Strangers will have a mixed reaction from readers. It is a book I appreciated a lot more on finishing, and it is one of those books that makes you think over what you have read. It is a book that, for me, warrants discussion during the course of reading it and would, therefore, make a great book for a reading group. It has certainly left its mark on me and I look forward to what Cummings brings to us in the future.

Published on 20 April 2017 by Orion.

About the Author

Harriet is a novelist and copywriter with a background in history of art.

She currently lives in Leamington Spa, UK, with her husband and springer spaniel.

A huge thank you to Virginia at Orion Books and Harriet Cummings for my advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Catch the rest of the fab bloggers on the rest of the tour…

Blog Tour – Evie’s Year of Taking Chances by Christie Barlow *Book Review*

I am so pleased to be today’s host on the Evie’s Year of Taking Chances blog tour along with my blogging buddy Kaisha at The Writing Garnet. I was chuffed to bits to be asked to be part of this blog tour as I adore Christie Barlow’s books. Before telling you my thoughts on Christie’s latest novel I will tell you what the book is all about.

The Blurb

It’s Evie’s birthday and the start of a year she’ll never forget. An emotional story of love, friendship and grabbing life by the horns.

Evie’s job has always been her safe haven. As a librarian in the little town of Becton she loses herself in books – after all it’s far easier to read about other people’s problems than set about solving her own.

Then, one birthday, everything is turned upside down. A mysterious parcel containing a beautiful book with a poignant inscription arrives for Evie. It’s the beginning of a new chapter for Evie and she’s inspired to try and find her real mother.

Evie’s search leads her to meet handsome author Noah Jones. Charming and intelligent, Noah seems the perfect catch but what Evie doesn’t realise is that he is hiding something – a key to Evie’s past.

As Evie gets closer to Noah and discovering her mother, she must take a giant leap of faith. Can she embrace the new and make this her year of taking chances? And if she does, will she get her heart broken?

A romantic, funny and poignant story of living life to the full and finding love in the most unlikely of places. Fans of Debbie Johnson and Cathy Bramley will adore this book!

My Thoughts

I have a real soft spot for Christie Barlow’s books and couldn’t wait to get my hands on Evie’s Year Of Taking Chances and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Evie’s Year of Taking Chances begins on her birthday in January. The book loving librarian receives a signed book with a personal message from her favourite author, but she doesn’t know who sent it or how the author knew it was her birthday. It is also the day she decides, after spending her childhood in various foster homes, to take the plunge and try to find her birth mother.

Barlow always produces a novel that is so much more than a romantic comedy. Yes, the romance is there and it had the trademark Barlow wit, but she also always manages to add another layer to her stories. In this case that layer is Evie’s experience as a child in care and the impact it has had on her. Written with emotional acuity and a sensitivity towards her characters, it is clear that Barlow has spent time researching the impact of a life brought up within the care system. She manages to get right to the heart of the issues her character’s face and the affection she has for them shines through.

The characters in Evie’s Year of Taking Chances are just gorgeous. They have that down-to-earth, relatable quality to them and the fact that they are just like me and you make them feel like old friends. You can’t help but get completely immersed within their lives and I was really rooting for Evie. You feel every moment she goes through and she is the sort of person you would love to spend time with in real life.

I did figure out one aspect of the plot but this did not in any way hamper my enjoyment of the book. There were still lots of parts I didn’t see coming and in my opinion this book is as much about the journey Evie takes as it is about discovering the outcome.

I generally veer towards the dark novels, the ones that don’t always have a happy ending with characters you love to hate, but every now and again I need something different. Barlow’s books tick all the boxes in providing me with the warmth, humour and depth of emotions that I sometimes need in my reading. Evie’s Year of Taking Chances is no exception to this. This is a book to get cosy with, a comforting book that, despite the sad parts, lifts your spirits and gives you hope while wrapping you up in a snug cocoon. Barlow pretty much has it nailed when it comes to romantic comedy and women’s fiction and Evie’s Year of Taking Chances is testament to that. Just gorgeous!

A huge thank you to Christie Barlow and Kim Nash for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. This is my honest and unbiased review.

Published on 10 March 2017 by Bookouture. You can purchase a copy of Evie’s Year of Taking Chances via the following links –

UK 🇬🇧http://amzn.to/2j4p7jt
US 🇺🇸http://amzn.to/2jTXxFE

About Christie Barlow

Christie Barlow was born in Cheshire and had a successful career as a civil servant until she decided to trade it in for something more glamorous: ironing, mucking out chickens and horses and chasing a mad cocker spaniel while rearing four children. Christie wrote her debut novel, A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, as an example to her kids about realising their dreams.

https://www.facebook.com/ChristieJBarlow

https://twitter.com/ChristieJBarlow

www.christiebarlow.com

 

Blog Tour – One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis *Book Review*

I love discovering new authors, so was delighted to be asked to take part in the blog tour for One Little Mistake the debut psychological thriller by Emma Curtis. Today I’m kicking off the tour with my review, but first will tell you what the book is about…

The Blurb

Vicky Seagrave is blessed: three beautiful children, a successful, doting husband, great friends and a job she loves. She should be perfectly happy.

When she risks everything she holds dear on a whim, there’s only one person she trusts enough to turn to.

But she’s about to learn that one mistake is all it takes; that is you’re careless with those you love, you don’t deserve to keep them…

My Thoughts

Relationships, motherhood and trust all feature heavily in Emma Curtis’ debut psychological thriller One Little Mistake…and with friends like Amber Collins, who needs enemies?

When Vicky makes a split-second decision to do something she wouldn’t normally do her life tumbles into a spiral of deceit and cover-ups. Turning to her best friend for help and support she begins to discover that her friend maybe isn’t as trust-worthy as she first thought.

Vicky, it would appear, has it all. A great marriage to Tom, three lovely children, gorgeous home, good job and a close best friend in Amber. However, scratch beneath the surface and, despite having a seemingly charmed life, all is not as well as it seems. Overwhelmed by her third, unplanned child, Vicky makes rash decisions that come back to bite her in more ways than she could ever imagine. Vicky is a normal woman with a normal life that you can identify with. While not agreeing with Vicky’s actions, I empathised with her and One Little Mistake would be a great choice for a reading group as there are a lot of issues to discuss and mull over.

And then there is Vicky’s ‘best friend’ Amber. In Amber, Curtis has created a complex, unlikeable character. She is that woman who we have all probably at some point met who has an agenda and yet people appear blind to it. Undoubtedly manipulative and jealous Curtis has, however, made her more than a simple ‘bad guy’ by paying attention to her back story and adding context to her behaviour. I did find myself having a degree of sympathy for her, however, was left wondering at the end if her version of events could be relied on.

You can’t help but be pulled into this story and it makes for a gripping read. For me, the joy in One Little Mistake was seeing Vicky’s slow realisation that her best friend is not what or who she thought she was and the ways in which Amber manipulates those around her. Curtis’ portrayal of this is realistic, especially with Vicky who has certain feelings about Amber’s behaviour at the start and yet dismisses them as being her over-reacting.

Switching seamlessly between past and present, the tale unfolds in the current setting of 2010 with glimpses of 1992. Curtis uses first person narrative and third person narrative to great effect, occasionally switching between the two within a chapter to clearly mark the characters and their experiences. Curtis is adept at building up the tension which inevitably results in a dramatic conclusion while also taking you by surprise.

A riveting page-turner of a book, Curtis has written a great debut novel that has all the elements you want from a psychological thriller. With thought-provoking themes a realistic situation and a shocking ending, I thoroughly enjoyed One Little Mistake and look forward to reading more by this author.

Thank you to Emma Curtis and Rosie Margesson at Pengiun Random House for the advance copy in exchange for my review and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

Published on ebook on 23 February 2017 by Transworld Digital and paperback on 15 June 2017 by Black Swan publishing.

Be sure to catch the rest of the stops on the blog tour…

 

Blog Tour – Sealskin by Su Bristow *Book Review*

I am absolutely delighted to be on the blog tour for Su Bristow’s Sealskin today and to be able to share my review. I will be honest and tell you that never has a review caused me so much difficulty to write. It has literally taken me a whole week as I loved Sealskin so much I couldn’t get my words down onto the computer screen. This review in no way does the book justice!

sealskin cover 2[3512]

The Blurb

What happens when magic collides with reality? Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous…and makes a terrible mistake. His action changes lives – not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. Can he ever atone for the wrong he has done, and can love grow when its foundation is violence? Based on the legend of the selkies – seals who can transform into people – Sealskin is a magical story, evoking the harsh beauty of the landscape, the resilience of its people, both human and animal, and the triumph of hope over fear and prejudice. With exquisite grace, Exeter Novel Prize-winner Su Bristow transports us to a different world, subtly and beautifully exploring what it means to be an outsider, and our innate capacity for forgiveness and acceptance. Rich with myth and magic, Sealskin is, nonetheless, a very human story, as relevant to our world as to the timeless place in which it is set. And it is, quite simply, unforgettable.

My Thoughts

Mix together folklore, magical realism and beautiful prose and what do you get? You get the utterly sublime Sealskin by Su Bristow. This is going to be a difficult review to write as how can you convey how much you love a book in just a few paragraphs?

In a fishing village on the west coast of Scotland, Donald lives a solitary life with his mother. He lacks confidence and shuns social interactions with the villagers. One night, when out alone in his boat, he witnesses an unbelievable event and his actions in response to it change his life forever. As well as being a modern take on Selkie folklore, Sealskin is a tale about the nature of being human and its hindrances, how the seemingly incomprehensible can result in fear and the consequences of our actions.

Bristow writes beautifully. The characters within the novel have a depth to them that draws you to them and makes you eager to understand them. Initially unsure of Donald due to his actions at the beginning of the book, he begins to demonstrate that he is not a ‘bad’ person and he goes on to redeem himself. But will his actions come back to haunt him? Can you ever get away with what you have done? Bristow’s depiction of Maihri is stunning, with her capturing the very essence of her perfectly. Maihri has an ethereal quality about her that is beguiling in her ability to be both incredibly gentle and yet intoxicate and potentially cause you harm. I adored her total lack of self-consciousness which is child-like and enchanting. Maihri’s relationship with Donald is, for me, the most wonderful layer of this story. Together they learn what it is to be human and Donald is able to meet his potential and become the person he was meant to be. A tale about the human condition and all its flaws are one of the reasons Sealskin is an incredibly special book. Bristow conveys this message in such a way that you have to pause and reflect on what you have read.

The setting adds so much to the story with Bristow’s descriptions of the sea emphasising its simultaneous beauty and savagery and the power it has over those who live by it and work within it. I found myself completely immersed within the village and partaking in the life of its inhabitants. Sealskin is pure escapism and has a magical quality that makes you fall in love with it.

Sealskin has you holding your breath at its sheer beauty and is one of those books you don’t want to let go. It is a quiet novel that soothes and calms and yet resounds deeply within you. A book I will return to again and again. If you have to read only one book this year, make it Sealskin.

A huge thank you to Su Bristow, Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for my copy of Sealskin and allowing me to take part in the blog tour.

Sealskin was published on ebook on 20 December 2016 and paperback on 15 February 2017 by Orenda Books.

Be sure to catch the other stops on the Sealskin blog tour.

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Blog Tour – Watch Me by Angela Clarke *Review, Author Guest Video AND Giveaway*

I’m absolutely thrilled to be on the Watch Me blog tour today…and what a blog tour it is!!! I have for you not only my review of Angela Clarke’s brilliant new book but also a video post by the lady herself AND an amazing giveaway with not one but TWO books!!! So I will kick off with the blurb and my review, hand over to Angela and make sure to keep reading to find out details of the giveaway…

Watch Me Cover 2017-01-22-15-45-47-1

The Blurb

YOU HAVE SIX SECONDS TO READ THIS MESSAGE…

The body of a 15-year old girl is found hours after she sends a desperate message to her friends. It looks like a suicide, until a second girl disappears.

This time the message is sent directly to the Metropolitan Police – and an officer’s younger sister is missing.

DS Nasreen Cudmore and journalist Freddie Venton will stop at nothing to find her. But whoever’s behind the notes is playing a deadly game of hide and seek – and the clock is ticking…

YOU HAVE 24 HOURS TO SAVE THE GIRL’S LIFE. MAKE THEM COUNT…

My Thoughts

Watch Me is the thrilling second instalment of The Social Media Murders, if you haven’t read the first, Follow Me, don’t worry as this works well as a standalone novel.

Following the death of a fifteen-year old girl whose suicide note is sent via social media, a chilling snapchat message is sent to the officers in the Met’s Gremlin taskforce. An officer’s younger sister is missing and it looks as though the previous death was not a suicide at all. With only twenty-four hours to find and save the girl’s life, DS Nasreen Cudmore and journalist Freddie Venton find themselves in a game of cat and mouse in which time is of the essence.

Throughout Watch Me the reader is aware of the ever-present ticking of the clock, making this a fast-paced crime thriller that has you holding your breath and unable to put the book down.

Clarke has created a great range of characters. Nasreen is the hard-working, ‘follow the rules’ DS who has progressed rapidly in her career, however she also has her flaws making her well-rounded and likeable. The mix of characters within the Gremlin Taskforce complement each other and are realistic in that they do not all get on, as happens in workplaces. Freddie is the antidote to Nasreen’s ‘follow procedure’ approach to the law, highlighting the grey areas rather than seeing things in black and white.

I really liked the messages that come across throughout Watch Me which are incredibly current. Society tends to live their lives out on social media and this can make us incredibly vulnerable. With our whole lives displayed for the whole world to see our privacy has diminished. Personally, I tend to have a bit of a love/hate relationship with social media recognising that while it is a great asset in many respects, it can also cause problems for people. Revenge porn and attitudes towards it are explored in Watch Me, making it a compelling and frightening read and this book has certainly added to my concerns about social media! I love a crime thriller that has an added layer to it and Watch Me certainly delivered on this front.

A fast-paced, very current read, Watch Me causes late nights as you are compelled to keep reading to find out what will happen until you reach the ending that…well, you won’t be disappointed! All in all a great crime thriller!

A huge thank you to Angela Clarke and Helena at Avon Books for the advance copy in exchange for my review and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Published on 12 January 2017 by Avon Books.

I will now hand you over to Angela for her to tell you about ‘How To Get Published: What Agents And Editors Look For’

 

Giveaway

Angela and the fab team at Avon Books are giving away not only a copy of Watch Me but also a copy of Don’t Look Behind You by the brilliant Mel Sherrat. Here is more about the book…

Dont Look Behind You-01-22-15-46-46-1

‘The small city of Stockleigh is in shock as three women are brutally attacked within days of each other. Are they random acts of violence or is there a link between the victims? For Detective Eden Berrisford, it’s her most chilling case yet. The investigation leads Eden to cross paths with Carla, a woman trying to rebuild her life after her marriage to a cruel and abusive man ended in unimaginable tragedy. her husband Ryan was imprisoned for his crimes, but now he’s out and coming for her.’

So, how do you enter? It’s simple! Head over to my Twitter page HERE and simply retweet the pinned tweet! Giveaway is open until midnight tonight! The winner will be picked randomly and announced on 26th January and the books will be sent directly from Avon Books.

Due to postage costs the giveaway is open to UK residents only.

Good Luck!!!

Be sure to catch the rest of the blog tour for more videos from Angela and more great giveaways!

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Review – The Night Before Christmas by Rose Collins

The Night Before Christmas

The Blurb

It was the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring,

Not even a…BEAR?

Clement Clarke Moore’s much loved poem is brought beautifully to life in this gorgeous picture book with a twist – as Santa visits a family of bears on Christmas Eve. 

Share the Christmas magic and experience a whole new retelling of the timeless Christmas classic.  With beautifully illustrated pages, The Night Before Christmas is the perfect gift for any child.

My Thoughts

Rose Collins has taken the classic 1822 Clement Clarke Moore poem The Night Before Christmas and given it a modern twist that will appeal to today’s children.

By slightly changing some of the words Rose has made it easy for children to understand and yet managed to keep it’s charm. Each page has a gorgeous brightly coloured illustration with lots to see which capture the magic of Santa‘s journey with his reindeer. I did find some of the pictures a little too similar but slight differences in them give parent and child something additional to talk about and can be used to encourage the child to do actions such as touching your nose and winking.

I liked the use of a family of bears rather than humans which gives the book a real bed time story feel, with the bears in their pyjamas being evocative of the teddy bears children often sleep with.

This book will be sure to capture the imagination of young children and keep them entertained with the beautiful illustrations while introducing them to a classic. A lovely book to read with your children on Christmas eve.

Thank you to NurseryBox Books for the copy in exchange for my unbiased review.

The Night Before Christmas is out now and can be purchased HERE.

Review – Garden Of Stars by Rose Alexander

Garden of Stars

The Blurb

The Alentjo, Portugal 1934

I am Ines Bretao and I am 18 years old.  Now that I am finally an adult and soon to be married, I feel like my real life is about to begin.  I have decided to document everything that happens to me, for my children and my grandchildren…

As Sarah Lacey reads the scrawled handwriting in her great-aunt’s journal on a trip to Portugal, she discovers a life filled with great passion, missed chances and lost loves – memories that echo Sarah’s own life.  Because Sarah’s marriage is crumbling, her love for her husband is ebbing away, and she fears the one man she truly loves was lost to her many years ago…

But hidden within the faded pages of the journal is a secret Ines has kept locked away her entire life, and one final message for her beloved niece – a chance for Sarah to change her life, if she is brave enough to take it.

My Thoughts

I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover but I have to admit I was initially draw to Garden Of Stars because of the cover…it is simply beautiful. The contents of the book are equally gorgeous in this tale of love, loss, regret and family secrets.

This moving and beautifully told story centres on Sarah and her great aunt Ines and is told over two time lines. Sarah has reached a point in her life in which her marriage has become staid and she is yearning for her lost love, Scott. Rose has given Sarah’s character depth and conveys her emotions wonderfully allowing the reader to empathise with her situation;

‘But still a hot flush swept over her, combined with a jolt of realisation that she wasn’t sure who she was anymore, or who she wanted to be.’

When the opportunity arises for her to return to her old home of Portugal she jumps at the chance and re-kindles contact with Scott. This chain of events leads her to re-evaluate her life. The dissatisfaction with her current life comes through and although her behaviour is unfair to her husband, Hugo, the range of emotions she goes through about her behaviour and the way Rose expresses them evokes understanding from the reader.

Ines is coming towards the end of her life and gives Sarah the journals she wrote as a young woman. The journal contains family secrets Sarah was unaware of and gives her a greater insight into her aunt and also her own life;

‘We always assume that those so much older than us have not experienced what we have, are somehow immune from human frailty, weakness, doubt and temptation, she though. But of course this is not the case.’

Ines’s story is incredibly touching and at one point reduced me to tears. The relationship between Sarah and Ines is also beautifully portrayed with the change in their roles through the natural course of their individual life stages coming through.

Set in Portugal as well as Britain, Rose has captured the essence of Portugal wonderfully through her rich descriptions and she transported me there each time I read a part of the story set there. The two timelines meld perfectly together, seamlessly moving the reader between present and past making Garden Of Stars an evocative and poignant read. While I became immersed in the story and the lives of both Sarah and Ines, I did find myself drifting away a little towards the latter half of the book, however, this did not detract from my enjoyment of the book as it quickly picked up pace again .

Garden Of Stars is a well written and constructed debut and I look forward to future books from Rose. A stirring novel that induces strong emotions in the reader, this is a wonderfully written book about how the grass is not always greener on the other side and that life is too short for regrets.

Thank you to Rose Alexander, Carina and Netgalley for the copy in exchange for my review.

Published on Ebook on 25 July 2016 by Carina.

You can purchase a copy HERE.