Monday, 28 December 2015

The Girl with no Past - Kathryn Croft

Twenty years running from your past. Today it catches up.

A gripping psychological thriller for fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. 

Leah Mills lives a life of a fugitive – kept on the run by one terrible day from her past. It is a lonely life, without a social life or friends until – longing for a connection – she meets Julian. For the first time she dares to believe she can live a normal life. 

Then, on the twentieth anniversary of that day, she receives a card. Someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed the life Leah has created. 

But is Leah all she seems? Or does she deserve everything she gets? 

Everyone has secrets. But some are deadly.

This book began well for me - I was intrigued about what it was that Leah had done, something that was so awful she had no life.

She begins to receive cards, emails, someone knows what she did. Still intriguing, still wondering what she'd done.

Then she begins to meet some new people, she won't let them in to her life, but one of them Julian she does let in, which began to feel very out of sorts from the character that had been painted.  The novel then became very dull and depressing. I began to wonder if this was all in Leah's mind and actually nothing bad had ever happened - was this another fight club?

Eventually the plot began to unravel and we find out what Leah did - only what did she actually do and how does that still have an effect on her life today? I must say that the author did paint a very realistic and dismal scene at this point, and it has stayed with me - an image I would rather forget. 

Another little twist to the tale and all becomes clear - at last. 

Finally there is some action - the gripping psychological byline comes into play. Again the author paints a vivid picture and I wished the rest of the book could have been more like this. 

I don't do spoilers so I've tried to give a flavour of the book without actually revealing what happens. A good read overall, I'm giving this book 4 out of 5 stars.

My thanks go to Netgalley for a free e copy of this book to review.

Monday, 21 December 2015

As Good as Dead - Elizabeth Evans

Endearingly flawed and battered-around-the-edges, Charlotte has managed to fashion herself a life that balances marriage and a writing career, but now Esmé, the charming friend Charlotte betrayed at university, stands at Charlotte’s door: Surprise!

Charlotte yearns to make amends, but she’s wary. Esmé makes no mention of Charlotte’s old betrayal and the two resume their friendship, but soon enough a request from Esmé will upend Charlotte’s careful world. 

Suspenseful, witty, with spot-on evocations of university life in the late 1980s, As Good as Dead performs an exquisite psychological high-wire act, exploring loves and friendships poisoned by secrets and fears.

I settled down with this book hoping for a really intriguing read. Unfortunately my intrigue waned when the book began to weave back and forth and bring in issues from the past. I read on hoping that these would be integral to the story - which they were, but it was so drawn out that when we came back to the future I thought I had missed something. I read on and no I hadn't missed anything, seems like the central character Charlotte just really likes stringing out a story.

What I did love were the insightful moments of the friendship between Esme and Charlotte. They were written so clearly that I could imagine being there witnessing their early friendship. However, I never really got the feeling that I knew either of these girls. The "betrayal" seemed to be so out of character and made me feel even more that I just didn't get this character. 

Ultimately the betrayal and the request from Esme were soon sorted in a few pages - leaving us with an ending that seemed very limp compared to the rest of the fast pace in the book.

I'm giving this book 3 out of 5 stars. Great writing, just not compelling or thrilling enough for me I'm sorry to say. 
My thanks go to Negalley for a free e copy of this book for review. 

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Giveaway with On My Bookshelf blog

Something a little different from me today. I've linked up with On My Bookshelf and Suze Likes Loves Finds and Dreams for their Christmas countdown of giveaways. I'm featured on the blog today and my giveaway to those that enter on the site through the Rafflecopter widget is the notebook and a card handmade by me - as shown above.
So pop over and enter to win!

Friday, 18 December 2015

She's not there - P J Parrish

They say it’s better to battle the devil you know. But what if you don’t recognize him before it’s too late?
She knows her name is Amelia, but after waking up in a hospital battered and bruised with just the clothes on her back, it’s all she knows. Unable to piece together her shattered memory, she’s haunted by a vision: menacing faces and voices implying her nightmare is far from over.
Relying only on her wits and her will to live, Amelia becomes a fugitive from a mysterious man, and a life she can’t even remember. But the past she’s fleeing has no intention of letting her go.

I've really enjoyed reading this book. The author is in fact two people but this doesn't show at all in the writing it flowed seamlessly. They have eleven crime fiction awards, so I should have known it would be good, but I didn't read any of that before I began the book.

For me the characters voices in this book were so credible, I really felt like I got to know them, especially Amelia. I was fighting Amelia's corner all the way and loved the cat and mouse game she played throughout the book, although at times unwittingly. 

I've read a couple of books now where the main character has lost their memory, but this is the first time I felt like I really cared about what was happening to the a character and needed to know what would happen in the end.

The suspense was incredible and I found myself thinking, I will just read another chapter.......

In fact a few things happened that I was not expecting to happen which is rare when you've read a lot of crime novels. I also think there will be a sequel - well I hope so because just as one mystery was solved another was laid bare.

I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars - a cracking good read.

My thanks go to Netgalley for supplying me with a free e copy of this book to review.

Monday, 7 December 2015

The Chocolate Lovers' Christmas - Carole Matthews

Christmas is just around the corner but the women of The Chocolate Lovers' Club have more to worry about than present shopping . . . 

Lucy loves running Chocolate Heaven but she hasn't spent time with her boyfriend, Aiden, in weeks. And then her ex-fiance turns up and things become even more complicated. 

Nadia hasn't let herself get close to a man in a long time, yet she can't help feeling drawn to Jacob. Will he be her last chance for a happy ending?

Chantal and her husband, Ted, are besotted with their baby daughter Lana - but she's not sure that's enough to base a marriage on.

Autumn is dealing with a tragedy that has hit too close to home. But when she doesn't get the support she needs from her fiance, will she look elsewhere for comfort?

Can friendship overcome all in . . . The Chocolate Lovers' Christmas.

This is the third book in the chocolate Lovers' series by Carole Matthews and I have read them all. Consistently a feel good read, although the girls inevitably get into scrapes, it does seem to all come good in the end. Just until you reach the end of the book, when new twists and turns are woven and you realise there are more tales to be told - in another book!

I really wanted to know what happened to the girls since I left them in the Chocolate Lovers' Diet. The book however does stand alone and there is recapping for those of you who either forgot where we left the girls or have never read the previous books.

Just when I thought Lucy was finally rid of her ex-finance once and for all, he still managed to worm his way into her life, I guess it wouldn't be Lucy without all the drama, but I really would like her just to stay with Aiden and live happily ever after, but then that wouldn't make for a very good story would it?

As well as all the chick lit and girly chocolate talk there is also in this book a look at how family units are different today and the challenges that brings. I found this side of the book very thought provoking.

I'm giving it five out of five stars and as it is number 13 in the Sunday Times best seller list, I guess a lot of other people will too.

My thanks go to Netgalley for a free ecopy of this book to review.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Redemption Road - Lisa Ballantyne

The crash is the unravelling of Margaret Holloway. Trapped inside a car about to explode, she is rescued by a scarred stranger who then disappears. Margaret remembers little, but she's spent her life remembering little - her childhood is full of holes and forgotten memories. Now she has a burning desire to discover who she is and why her life has been shrouded in secrets. What really happened to her when she was a child? Could it have anything to do with the mysterious man who saved her life?
Flitting effortlessly between past and present, this is a suspenseful, gritty and emotionally charged journey of an estranged father and daughter, exploring the strength of family ties and our huge capacity for forgiveness.

I have to admit that the title of this book put me off reading it for a while. It was on my to be read list and it came around to the top so I decided to read it. Straight away I thought - why did I not read this sooner! I was gripped from the beginning, both by the plot and the wonderful writing.

The story flits between 2013 and 1985 with two very different tales, which you deduce must somehow tie together. There are a few red herrings along the way which meant I didn't quite get the ending right.

Although I could see where the story was going, I kept reading as the characters are brilliant and I really want to know what happened to them in their respective timelines. One thing I think that is hard for a writer to do is write a character's accent. Lisa Ballantyne pulled this off - I could hear the Scottish accent but it wasn't written so precisely that I couldn't understand what it meant.

Yet another book I've read where the tale is told from two different sides - what the papers and public think have happened and what actually happened, a really clever plot device. We also get to meet well developed characters from very different walks of life,  gangland families, a mechanic, and a journalist who is a devout man of God.

I have only one gripe with the book - and that is perhaps due to my having a fairly good knowledge of places and their location in the UK. A drive from Newcastle to York even by back roads would not take the time given in the book. To arrive in the Black Country and then be at Mam Tor in the Peak District is a little weird and any bus that goes from Leek, to Ashbourne, Buxton and then Hanley is going a very long way round and back on itself - to many it probably won't be spotted, but when you know the area it is annoying and spoils the reading.

I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars, despite the bad route planning!

My thanks go to netgalley for a free e copy of the book to review.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion

I'm not sure there is a product description for this book, and having read it on my kindle, I don't know what the "back page cover" said. This is a book from my personal bookshelf, which I decided to read mainly because of all the hype surrounding it. It's taken me a while to get around to it mainly because I wasn't sure what it was about and also the lobster on the cover put me off!
So, what is it all about? Don Tillman is a genetics professor who views the world very logically due to him I believe having Aspergers Syndrome. To me he comes across as Spock meets Roy Cropper (Coronation Street). 

He has reached the age of 40 and the research he has read points to married men living longer and happier lives. So he decides to tackle the acquisition of a wife in the same way he would his research. He formulates a questionnaire to garner suitable candidates to be his wife.

Alongside this is his friend, Gene, who is also a professor and collecting women from each country to add notches to his bedpost, albeit being married to Claudia. 

Don begins his research project but meets Rosie - thrown into the mix by his friend Gene. What follows is a tale of how he and Rosie interact - very unconventionally given Don's OCD approach to the world. 

My favourite part of the book was when they were cooking and the meal was going to be late. Rosie suggests putting the clock to the time it would have been, which ensures that Don is able to let go of the his OCD and cook the meal.

I found this a strange book, certainly different to anything I have read before. It did make me laugh out loud and there are some fabulous observations in this book. If you find it difficult to suspend disbelief, then this is probably not the book for you.

I'm giving it four out of five stars. 

There is a sequel book out now - I am intrigued by what happens next.........

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

What Milo Saw - Virginia Macgregor

  •  A BIG story about a small boy who sees the world a little differently
  • For fans of The Rosie Project, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Wonder, comes this spellbinding and generous-hearted tale about a small boy who just wanted his gran to come home.
The description of what this book was about was very vague, as you can see from the blurb above. So in deciding to read it,  I went on the premise that I had enjoyed the other books cited and I wasn't disappointed.

Milo is a 9 year old boy - but this book is not a children's book. Although the tale is told through Milo's eyes some of it is very grown up material - like when he catches his Dad with his "tart". 

Basically the book is about Milo's Gran who goes into Forget Me Not Nursing Home, whereas he wants her to continue to leave with him and his Mum at home. Milo doesn't think she is being cared for properly and sets about investigating behind the scenes at the home.

As the story is told through Milo, at times I did wonder if this was just a small boy not understanding the ways of the world. In fact when he goes to tell a policeman his concerns, this is what he is told, he needs to see the bigger picture. Ironic when Milo has a disease that means he can only see a pin point of the world at a time.

All of the characters are so believable and drawn so well that I felt like I knew them. Because of that most of the time I became so engrossed in what was happening that I forgot I was reading a book. I just saw the whole story unfolding before me. I found myself gasping out loud the storytelling was so realistic and at times unexpected in events.

I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars.

My thanks go to Netgalley and Sphere for a free e copy of this book to review.

Friday, 23 October 2015

The Other Me - Saskia Sarginson

Eliza Bennet has the life she's always dreamed of. She's who she wants to be, and she's with the man she loves.
But Eliza is living a lie. Her real name is Klaudia Myer. And Klaudia is on the run. She's escaping her old life, and a terrible secret buried at the heart of her family.
This is the story of Eliza and Klaudia - one girl, two lives and a lie they cannot hide from.

To put this into perspective, one woman two lives I think is a little strong. Klaudia was a child and then she called herself Eliza when she went to University - not quite the dramatic event of two lives that the book cover proclaims.

So I was wrong footed when I began to read, as I had assumed (!) that this was going to an adult who had reinvented herself.

Ultimately I suppose the book is about identity and how others perceive you through the bloodline you carry.

However, to me this book was far more interesting from the perspective of Klaudia's Father and Uncle who had been brought up in Nazi Germany. Through Ernst eyes we re live the terror of the jews and their awful fate at the hands of the Nazis - of which Ernst was one. A perspective I had not read this part of history from before.

The writing is really very sensitive and insightful - difficult to read at times, but very poignant.

I kept turning the pages wanting to know if the sins of the father were going to prevent happiness for Klaudia/Eliza - but as I don't do spoilers you need to turn those pages to find out yourself.

I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars.

My thanks go to Net galley and Little Brown Book group for a free advance e copy of this book.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Killing Eva - Alex Blackmore

Witnessing a dramatic death at London’s Waterloo Station triggers a series of events that shatter Eva Scott’s world. Dying words uttered on the station concourse awaken a history she had thought long buried. But the past is about to be resurrected, in all its brutal reality. Soon, Eva's life is out of her hands. A genetic key is keeping her alive – but foreshadowing her death. People she loved and lost materialise and then disappear, testing the limits of her sanity. Inextricably linked to her survival is the potential takedown of an economic power, on which hang the lives of many others. The only way out is through. But Eva’s life is no longer her own. And it's killing her.

I read the prequel to this novel - "Lethal Profit" a couple of years ago and enjoyed it.  My only gripe with that book was that the heroine Eva had no survival skills or training in combat and yet luck got her through. 

Quite near the beginning of the book Ms Blackmore makes the point that since we last met Eva she has been in training to defend herself - so that takes care of that! I must admit I didn't realise I would be meeting Eva again but I was glad I did. Fair enough after what she went through I can see the need to learn self defence, but it did become a laboured point.

This book contained good action scenes, which unlike some other well known books, didn't describe every left hook and arm hold in such detail you end up wondering what on earth is happening and who has got what arm where.

Yet again we are drawn in to a world where nothing is quite as it seems, despite knowing some of the characters and their capabilities. The idea of a genetic key I found fascinating and all the flaws you might think you can pick in the plot appear to have been covered. There were also some other great technology ideas.

One observation I had in the first book was you could tell through the writing that a woman had written the book, as there were some insightful feminine tells, this appears to have been omitted from this book, which I found a shame.

I don't do spoilers, but really Ms Blackmore - as I read the last line I did think - not again!

I'm giving this book four stars, mainly because of the ending and being left on a cliff edge!

My thanks go to Real Readers for a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

Monday, 21 September 2015

The Art of Baking Blind - Sarah Vaughan

There are many reasons to bake: to feed; to create; to impress; to nourish; to define ourselves; and, sometimes, it has to be said, to perfect. But often we bake to fill a hunger that would be better filled by a simple gesture from a dear one. We bake to love and be loved.
In 1966, Kathleen Eaden, cookery writer and wife of a supermarket magnate, published The Art of Baking, her guide to nurturing a family by creating the most exquisite pastries, biscuits and cakes.
Now, five amateur bakers are competing to become the New Mrs Eaden. There's Jenny, facing an empty nest now her family has flown; Claire, who has sacrificed her dreams for her daughter; Mike, trying to parent his two kids after his wife's death; Vicki, who has dropped everything to be at home with her baby boy; and Karen, perfect Karen, who knows what it's like to have nothing and is determined her façade shouldn't slip.
As unlikely alliances are forged and secrets rise to the surface, making the choicest choux bun seems the least of the contestants' problems. For they will learn - as Mrs Eaden did before them - that while perfection is possible in the kitchen, it's very much harder in life.

The most obvious comparison to be made with this book and it's competition to find the New Mrs Eaden is the Great British Bake Off. If you are a fan of that TV show then this book will appeal to you, in fact this book does more than cover the baking competition, we get to go behind the scenes in each of the contestants lives.

For some reason I could not get the characters straight in my head until around half way through the book. Each one is introduced in turn, but a couple of them seemed to be similar and so I struggled to know who was who for a while. It is for this reason only that I gave four out of five stars.

That point aside, I really enjoyed the book. Not only do we have the back story of each character taking part in the contest, but also the back story of Mrs Eaden - the 1960s cookery writer. In this respect it reminded a little of Julie and Julia book/film. As a child on the 60s it was interesting for me to read the social content side as portrayed by Mrs Eaden - it really brought to life for me what it would have been like for my parents.

My favourite character in the book was Jenny, the empty nester. However there is just so much more to her character than her children having left home. I won't spoil the plot, but I was behind this character all the way.

I did feel the book could have delivered a little more, as it really only scratched the surface with the back stories, with the emphasis being on the cookery competition.

Four out of five stars for this book from me. 
My thanks go to Netgalley and Hodder Paperbacks for allowing me an advance copy of the book to review.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Scandalous Lies - Nigel May

Move over Jackie Collins, there’s a new blockbuster star in town.’ New! Magazine
Lovers and liars, divas and sinners, welcome to a world of scandal, where one woman will pay the ultimate price.
SUSPENSE: Georgia’s best friend, ballroom dancing sensation Mitzi, has vanished with boyfriend Foster while on holiday in California. Can Georgia get to the truth of their disappearance before it’s too late?
SECRETS: Reality TV star Nova could give the Kardashians a run for their money. But while she allows millions of viewers into her fabulous home, she’s unaware what her husband, celebrity mogul Jacob, is up to behind closed doors …
SEX: Tanya is filthy rich, married to a man who adores her but she is restless. And her sexual appetite is about to get her into a whole lot of trouble.
SCANDAL: Victoria, once the trophy-wife, has lost her mojo. Determined to get her life and marriage back on track, she’s desperate to inject some excitement in her life – but at what cost?
From the glitz of Hollywood to the glamour of Milan and the exotic luxury of India, Scandalous Lies is a deliciously unputdownable read.

As a crafter I see a lot of Nigel May on the Craft channel - so I'm always intrigued to read his wonderful books too. 

l read Trinity Nigel May's first book, but then got mixed up with the order of release, so Addicted should have been my next book to read not Scandalous Lies. Having said that I don't think it matters which order you read them in, as although one of the characters features in Trinity - you don't need to know that story to read Scandalous lies.

I enjoyed Trinity but where I enjoyed this more was the fabulous whodunnit played out in the book. Several back stories kept my interest as we flipped from one to the other and then neatly they all came together to make for a perfect summer read.

I must say that Nigel has a very in depth knowledge of ladies fashion brands - there were some I had never even heard of - I obviously don't move in the right circles.

For me this was Jackie Collins meets Agatha Christie!

Off to read Addicted now!

My thanks to Netgalley for a copy of the book to read.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Manhattan Mayhem - a collection of short stories

Best-selling suspense novelist Mary Higgins Clark invites you on a tour of Manhattan's most iconic neighborhoods in this anthology of all-new stories from the Mystery Writers of America. From the Flatiron District (Lee Child) and Greenwich Village (Jeffery Deaver) to Little Italy (T. Jefferson Parker) and Chinatown (S.J. Rozan), you'll encounter crimes, mysteries, and riddles large and small. Illustrated with iconic photography of New York City and packaged in a handsome hardcover,Manhattan Mayhem is a delightful read for armchair detectives and armchair travelers alike!

Well! NYC and mysteries - was all I needed to request this book to review, topped by a picture of the Empire State Building on the cover - pity it is only a e book.

When I was a child in the 70s I read a lot of Ellery Queen stories - I loved the cleverness of them and the twists and turns. The stories in this book remind me so much of those stories - the plots are quirky and different and a joy to read.

I don't do spoilers so it is difficult to review without giving something away and also as they are short stories they are a little light on depth and character development, so not too much for a reviewer to get their teeth into. As a reader though - the stories are just the right length, just enough suspense and just enough of a twist to make you realise you aren't as clever as you thought you were!

My thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this book to review.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

You, Me and Other People - Fionnuala Kearney


But what happens when you open the door and they won’t stop tumbling out?

For Adam and Beth the first secret wasn’t the last, it was just the beginning.

You think you can imagine the worst thing that could happen to your family, but there are some secrets that change everything.

And then the question is, how can you piece together a future when your past is being rewritten?

To be honest I chose to review this book based on the fact that I liked the cover, shallow I know. But sometimes a cover can really make you want to read a book and this is what happened to me.

To begin with I thought this was going to be a bit of a pedestrian book with the usual husband cheats, wife finds out etc. Then I got drawn into the wonderful layers that this book has, the insightful writing which just called out to me, yes, this is what it is like, this is what happens in real life. 

But then other layers began to peel back, there was more than one story here, more than one lie. There is so much more to this book than one storyline and the characters really began to feel real to me. With the book being told from two perspectives, it also wasn't easy to hate the wrong doer as you saw it through his eyes too. 

If I had one criticism it was that I got so engrossed that when each chapter ended and another began it wasn't immediately obvious whose voice was narrating. It did alternate across the chapters, but when you are really into a book, you aren't thinking, one character just narrated so now it will be the turn of the other one. 

A great read and even a little teary eyed in places.

My thanks go to Netgalley and HarperFiction for a free e review copy of this book.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Lost and Found - Brooke Davis


Millie Bird is a seven-year-old girl who always wears red wellington boots to match her red, curly hair. But one day, Millie’s mum leaves her alone beneath the Ginormous Women’s underwear rack in a department store, and doesn’t come back. 

Agatha Pantha is an eighty-two-year-old woman who hasn’t left her home since her husband died. Instead, she fills the silence by yelling at passers-by, watching loud static on TV, and maintaining a strict daily schedule. Until the day Agatha spies a little girl across the street.

Karl the Touch Typist is eighty-seven years old and once typed love letters with his fingers on to his wife’s skin. He sits in a nursing home, knowing that somehow he must find a way for life to begin again. In a moment of clarity and joy, he escapes. 

Together, Millie, Agatha and Karl set out to find Millie’s mum. Along the way, they will discover that the young can be wise, that old age is not the same as death, and that breaking the rules once in a while might just be the key to a happy life. 

A lot of comparisons have been made between this book and "The one hundred year old man". I enjoyed The one hundred year old man so thought I would read this book.. 

I struggled with the book to begin with, possibly because it was an alien concept. A little girl left alone in a department store fending for herself. All the things that I thought would have happened in real life didn't- that is she wouldn't get away with it.

Once I suspended that disbelief I got on a little better with the book, but it was still a bit off the wall for my taste. There was also a lot of swearing at one point - didn't bother me as such, as it was part of the character and their make up, but could offend some people I guess.

My other point I put down just to my own stupidity. I thought the book was set in England as there were many references (mainly TV) that signposted this in my mind. So when they set off for Melbourne (and I knew it wasn't the one in Derbyshire UK), I thought "how are they going to do that without Millie's passport". Of course it is actually set in Australia!

For me the book came into its own once Millie joined forces with Karl and Agatha - then it really got going and I found myself laughing out loud at some of the antics and expressions used. There are also some lovely poignant pages where Karl recalls his wife.

So I will say as Millie would "I'm sorry for your loss" and "we are all going to die"...........

My thanks to netgalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone for a free advance copy of this book to review.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Broken Promise - Linwood Barclay

From the New York Times bestselling author of No Safe House comes an explosive novel about the disturbing secrets of a quiet small town.… 

After his wife’s death and the collapse of his newspaper, David Harwood has no choice but to uproot his nine-year-old son and move back into his childhood home in Promise Falls, New York. David believes his life is in free fall, and he can’t find a way to stop his descent.

Then he comes across a family secret of epic proportions. A year after a devastating miscarriage, David’s cousin Marla has continued to struggle. But when David’s mother asks him to check on her, he’s horrified to discover that she’s been secretly raising a child who is not her own—a baby she claims was a gift from an “angel” left on her porch.

When the baby’s real mother is found murdered, David can’t help wanting to piece together what happened—even if it means proving his own cousin’s guilt. But as he uncovers each piece of evidence, David realizes that Marla’s mysterious child is just the tip of the iceberg.

Other strange things are happening. Animals are found ritually slaughtered. An ominous abandoned Ferris wheel seems to stand as a warning that something dark has infected Promise Falls. And someone has decided that the entire town must pay for the sins of its past…in blood.

I am a BIG Linwood Barclay fan and could not wait to read this his latest novel. I actually have two novels I haven't yet read, just in case he doesn't bring out any new ones and I still have those to look forward to. Plus I have his back catalogue shipped from the USA to read. So as I say I am a BIG fan. 

All the other books I have read by Linwood Barclay have been so densely populated with little nuances and ideas woven in and out of the storyline that you can't keep them all in your head. But at the end, it all comes together. 

This book didn't disappoint in most of those things, but unfortunately in my opinion, that coming together did not entirely happen in this novel. I can only assume that for the book to end with a cliff hanger this means there is going to be a sequel - and soon please, before I forget everything I just read and need to know the answers to. [I have just discovered that the sequel is called Far From True and is out in March 2016].

This is also the first book by Linwood that I have guessed what was happening - so either he wanted it to happen that way - as there are bigger things to come in the next book. Or, I have read so many of his books I can second guess him now! 

So overall I give this book 5 stars as Linwood is still the master of storytelling with a twist. Also those two books I am saving, turns out one of them is about the main character in this book - so proves it stands alone, but a pity I didn't realise that.

My thanks go to Netgalley and Penguin Group (USA) for allowing me an advance copy of this book to review.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

If I Could Turn Back Time - Beth Harbison

Thirty-seven year old Ramie Phillips has led a very successful life. She made her fortune and now she hob nobs with the very rich and occasionally the semi-famous, and she enjoys luxuries she only dreamed of as a middle-class kid growing up in Potomac, Maryland. But despite it all, she can't ignore the fact that she isn't necessarily happy. In fact, lately Ramie has begun to feel more than a little empty. 

On a boat with friends off the Florida coast, she tries to fight her feelings of discontent with steel will and hard liquor. No one even notices as she gets up and goes to the diving board and dives off...

Suddenly Ramie is waking up, straining to understand a voice calling in the distance...It's her mother: "Wake up! You're going to be late for school again. I'm not writing a note this time..." 

Ramie finds herself back on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, with a second chance to see the people she's lost and change the choices she regrets. How did she get back here? Has she gone off the deep end? Is she really back in time? Above all, she'll have to answer the question that no one else can: What it is that she really wants from the past, and for her future?

One of the things I love to read is time travel novels - and I have read a lot. So I think of myself as a hard to please reader in this genre as mostly I've read it all before.

So I was pleasantly surprised when this book took a different tack with the whole time travel idea. Instead of Ramie waking up as her current self in another time, she wakes up as her teenage self. This also gives a different slant in that she can now see things through the eyes of an adult which maybe first time around her teenage eyes didn't pick up on.

One of the things that rang true for me was when Ramie has to go to school and she doesn't know what her timetable of classes is - this is a dream I have had a lot in the past! Luckily for her it is soon rectified and apart from some references to email and mobile phones she seems to get on fine in the past. Especially as she can remember the events - and can she change them?

Ramie also goes on a tour of her neighbourhood just so she can relive things that no longer exist in the present, such as restaurants etc. On a side note the British Film Institute have just released online films of everyday life. For me watching a trip through my home city on a tram in 1902 was the closet I will get to time travel. So I really identified with what Ramie was doing.

The book certainly had me thinking - what if and a different road travelled al a "Sliding Doors". There's a neat twist and as always I am saying no more for want of spoiling the plot.

The book is out on 28 July 2015 and my thanks go to Negalley and St Martins Press for supplying me with an advance e copy to review.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Things we have in common - Tasha Kavanagh

Yasmin would give anything to have a friend . . . 
And do anything to keep one.

The first time I saw you, you were standing at the far end of the playing field. You were looking down at your brown straggly dog, but then you looked up, your mouth going slack as your eyes clocked her. Alice Taylor. I was no different. I used to catch myself gazing at the back of her head in class, at her silky fair hair swaying between her shoulder blades.

If you'd glanced just once across the field you'd have seen me standing in the middle on my own, looking straight at you, and you'd have gone back through the trees to the path quick, tugging your dog after you. You'd have known you'd given yourself away, even if only to me.

But you didn't. You only had eyes for Alice.

Let me just begin my review by saying WOW!

I'm not sure why I chose to review this book. It may have been that it said it was similar to "Curious Incident of the dog in the night time". I started to read it and I wasn't sure what it was all about, and the one thing that I still miss about having a "real" book is referring back to the cover. So I re read the synopsis and started again. 

It took me a while to get into the fact that the book is told through the eyes of a teenager called Yasmin. However, once I did - boy I could not put this book down. For me it was reminiscent in plot to "Gone Girl" which I thorough enjoyed. It also had echoes of "The Lovely Bones". But enough comparisons because this book really deserves to stand in its own limelight.

So began my train of thoughts -  "is she making it all up in her head", "is this really happening". Then I went onto - "yes, I knew it" followed later by being completely wrong! It is on reflection a very dark book but because it is told through Yasmin that never really hit me whilst I was reading it. A few really clever twists that I never saw coming or even had time to guess because I was reading so fast I wanted to know what happened next.

The writing is absolutely brilliant, and I totally forgot that an adult had written this. It was just like being inside a teenagers head - scary at times, yet so insightful. There were parts when my heart was literally in my mouth as I felt for Yasmin and what she was going through.

I'm just still trying to come to terms with the ending. I do like a book where it is all done and dusted rather than being left thinking "so what happens now?".............

My thanks go to Netgalley for allowing me an e copy of this book to review.