Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Book Review: Coffee, Tea, The Caribbean & Me by Caroline James



Title: Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me
Author: Caroline James
Publisher: Ramjam Publishing Company
Publication Date: 12 February 2016

Twitter: @carolinejames12
Website/blog: www.carolinejamesauthor.co.uk or www.carolinejamesblogspot.co.uk

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Blurb

From Cumbria to the Caribbean...
 
Flying solo again in their middle years, can life really begin again for Jo and Hattie? Is there hope for the newly single baby boomers and can romance happen?
 
Continuing the Coffee Tea... series, join Jo and Hattie as they romp into their future and prove that anything is possible!
 
Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me is a stand-alone read but also the sequel to Coffee Tea The Gypsy & Me which shot to #3 on Amazon and was E-Book of the week in The Sun Newspaper.
 
"A story about friendship and loss...is there hope for those of a certain age?"
 
‘The time to be happy is now...’ Jo remembers her late husband’s words but is struggling to face the lonely future that lies ahead. A heartbroken widow, Jo finds herself alone with ghostly memories at Kirkton House - a Cumbrian Manor that until recently, she ran as a thriving hotel. Her two sons have moved away, Jimmy to run a bar in Barbados, and Zach to London to pursue a career as a celebrity chef. Middle-age and widowhood loom frighteningly and Jo determines to sell up and start again, despite protestations from colourful friend, Hattie and erstwhile admirer Pete Parks.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Book Review: Police, Arrests & Suspects by John Donoghue



Title: Police, Arrests & Suspects: The True Story of a Front Line Officer
Author: John Donoghue
Publisher: Matador
Publication Date: 8 October 2015

Twitter: @JohnDonoghue64

Rating: 4 out of 5

Blurb 

FACT is stranger than FICTION on the front line... 

Who’s afraid of the Ginger Bread Man?
Why do police like big busts?

How can a priest assist in a violent robbery?

When does Hitler figure in police negotiations?

Why can making mashed potato get you arrested?

When do police deploy the banana phone?

What happens when you die if CSI don’t like you?


Come on patrol with PC Donoghue and discover the funny, interesting and bizarre side of life on the front line of British policing. Police, Arrests & Suspects is the third fascinating account of a front line police response officer in ‘The True Story of a Front Line Officer’ series. John’s books remain hugely popular today, with over 600 5-star Amazon reviews combined.


WARNING: Contains Humour & Traces of Nuts 

Friday, 17 June 2016

Book Review: Under My Skin by Zoe Markham **spoilers included**



Title: Under My Skin
Author: Zoe Markham
Publisher: Carina
Publication Date: 31 March 2015

Twitter: @ZoeMarkham
Blog/Website: www.zoemarkhamwrites.com

Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Blurb

Inside we are all monsters…
Chloe was once a normal girl. Until the night of the car crash that nearly claimed her life. Now Chloe’s mother is dead, her father is a shell of the man he used to be and the secrets that had so carefully kept their family together are falling apart.
A new start is all Chloe and her father can hope for, but when you think you’re no longer human how can you ever start pretending?
The perfect read for fans of British horror and haunting gothic novels
Review
**Please note that there are spoilers in this review**

As the story opens, we know there is something a bit different about 17 year old Chloe Jones, a.k.a. Chloe Gardener. In some ways she’s a lot like a normal teenager – impatient, rebellious and quick-tempered - yet the reader immediately knows that there is more to the story. Chloe is living a solitary life, forced to hide from the outside world with only her father for company. The blinds are kept tightly shut, the portable heaters are on at full pelt and she has an insatiably hunger for meat….
The cleverly written opening chapters give little information away and allows the author to create an immediate air of suspense as we are introduced to Chloe. The slow start gives the reader the chance to get to know Chloe's inner thoughts before we fully understand why she faces such struggles. The tale then gradually unfolds as little titbits of information build up until the reader understands the true horror of Chloe’s situation.
Under My Skin is a cleverly told loose re-imagining of Frankenstein made into a contemporary YA tale. After a horrific car crash, Chloe’s scientist father uses some ground-breaking scientific advances to bring Chloe back to life. Death, however, has changed her. She is no longer an ordinary teen and she no longer looks like an ordinary teen. With her father’s former employer (a shady government department) after them, her father in his lab trying to recreate the ‘vaccine’ that will keep her alive and with Chloe looking like the undead, nothing about their new life is ‘normal’. 
Under My Skin is very relevant to teen/young-adult literature as the underlying theme is really of relationships and acceptance – issues that virtually everyone struggles with at some point throughout their teenage years. It explores how people perceive differences between them and where that line lies between what differences are deemed acceptable and which are not.  Chloe is confined to a life of isolation out of necessity. However, despite a broken body and a damaged mind, Chloe is still a teen and craves a normal life where she can go to school, make friends and meet boys. She is lonely and she just wants to fit in. What Chloe does not realise is that her isolation also protects her, not just the evil government agents who are looking for them, but it also cocoons her from the heartbreak that can come from being ‘different’ to her peers. Will Chloe every truly be ‘normal’ again? She is dreaming of a future, something which may not exist for her anymore.
Under My Skin also proves to be an interesting example of the fractious relationship that often exists between teen and parent, with Chloe and her father frequently bickering as Chloe consistently tries to push against the boundaries he has set for her. In this case, that fractious relationship also expands further into issues of morality. Chloe’s father was working in a very morally questionable area when he suddenly finds himself in a position where his work could aid a member of his family. Is it right to experiment on people/animals in order to reach ground-breaking advances in science? Should he have brought Chloe back to life or should he have allowed her to die? Why did he choose to save Chloe and not her mother? Whilst her father clearly loves Chloe very much, as a reader I found myself questioning whether his underlying motive in bringing her back from the dead was love, guilt or simply experimentation?  Does Chloe really understand and trust his motives?
This is a compelling tale which draws the reader in. Having the story told through the naïve eyes of a young narrator leads to a very honest and heart wrenching story. Chloe is a great character, she at times displays the insecurity and innocence of a child and then at other times displays the wisdom and boldness of an adult. It is fascinating to watch her develop from this insecure shell of a person to a girl who is once again able to face the public and become close to people, despite her doubts in her own sense of being. I was interested to note that Chloe feels an underlying sense of shame in being different from her peers. She worries about the colour of her skin, the scar, the possible scent of death lingering over her. She feels the need to hide her true self out of fear of rejection (as well as on her father's instructions).I  found it interesting to witness how her struggles changed throughout the story from loneliness and isolation to having to mask her true self in order to fit in.
Under My Skin is dark, edgy and disturbing. It explores the grief of loss, the heartbreak of loneliness and the struggle of being ‘different’. A perfect choice for fans of YA literature who fancy reading something a bit unusual.
I’m not sure if a sequel is intended but personally I hope not. The ending came somewhat as surprise to me and I appreciated the ambiguous nature of it. I am happy for my own imagination to finish the tale.
About the Author
A full-time editor by day, Zoë writes furiously at night when her son's safely in bed and the coffee's on. She currently has two Young Adult novels published with Carina UK (Hapercollins) and two more due out late 2016 with Grimbold Books.
She likes her fiction dark and disturbing, and some of her favourite authors include Darren Shan, Stephen King, Derek Landy, Patrick Ness and Alexander Gordon Smith.
Zoë has a completely unfounded fear of mushrooms, and doesn't feel at all comfortable writing about herself in the third person. She also worries about boring you here before you've had a chance to check out her Books page, but if you'd like to know more, pop over and say hello on Twitter and she'll more than likely talk your ear off. 
Buy Links

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Monday, 13 June 2016

Book Review and Q&A: The House With No Rooms by Lesley Thomson




Title: The House With No Rooms
Author: Lesley Thomson
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication Date: 21 April 2016

Twitter: @LesleyjmThomson
Blog/website: www.lesleythomson.co.uk

Rating: 4 out of 5

Blurb

The summer of 1976 was the hottest in living memory. In the Botanical Gardens at Kew, a lost little girl, dizzied by the heat, thought she saw a woman lying dead on the ground. But when she opened her eyes, the woman had gone.
Forty years later, Stella Darnell, the detective's daughter, is investigating a chilling new case. What she uncovers will draw her into the obsessive world of botany, and towards an unsolved murder that has lain dormant for decades...

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Blog Tour Q&A with author Heidi Swain



As an extra treat for all of our readers, we have a Q&A with the lovely Heidi Swain to accompany our earlier Blog Tour post.







Hi Heidi, thank you for agreeing to do a little Q&A with us to celebrate the publication of your second novel, Summer at Skylark Farm.

Hello and thank you for inviting me to feature on your fabulous blog! I’m delighted you signed up to take part in the tour.

  1. To start with, please can you tell us a little bit about Summer at Skylark Farm and where the idea for the story come from?
Summer at Skylark Farm follows the story of Amber who gives up her high flying city career to move to the East Anglian countryside with her partner Jake and help him turn around the fortunes of his family farm.

I think the idea for the story was initially borne out of my passion for the Great British countryside, farming and rural issues. I’ve wanted to write a ‘farm novel’ for a long time so it felt as if Amber’s story had been with me forever really, just waiting in the wings for the opportune moment!

  1. How much research went into writing about life on a farm? Is this something you have first-hand knowledge of yourself? 

Blog Tour & Review: Summer at Skylark Farm by Heidi Swain


I am delighted to by today's stop of the Blog Tour for Heidi Swain's fantastic new novel, Summer at Skylark Farm. A tale of farming, orchards, animals and romance.... find out more about the book and the author below!


Title: Summer at Skylark Farm
Author: Heidi Swain
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK (a Books and The City digital original)
Publication Date: 2 June 2016

Twitter: @Heidi_Swain
Blog/website: http://heidiswain.blogspot.co.uk/

Blurb

For everyone dreaming of escaping to the country, fall in love this summer at Skylark Farm...

Amber is a city girl at heart. So when her boyfriend Jake Somerville suggests they move to the countryside to help out at his family farm, she doesn't quite know how to react. But work has been hectic and she needs a break so she decides to grasp the opportunity and make the best of it.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Blog tour & Review: Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen



Title: Where Roses Never Die
Author: Gunnar Staalesen
Publisher: Orenda Books
Publication Date: 30 June 2016

I am delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for the fantastic Scandinavian crime thriller, Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen (translated by Don Bartlett.

Blurb 

September 1977. Mette Misvær, a three-year-old girl, disappears without trace from the sandpit outside her home. Her tiny, close, middle-class community in the tranquil suburb of Nordas is devastated, but their enquiries and the police produce nothing. Curtains twitch, suspicions are raised, but Mette is never found. Almost 25 years later, as the expiry date for the statute of limitations draws near, Mette’s mother approaches PI Varg Veum, in a last, desperate attempt to find out what happened to her daughter. As Veum starts to dig, he uncovers an intricate web of secrets, lies and shocking events that have been methodically concealed. When another brutal incident takes place, a pattern begins to emerge ... 

Chilling, shocking and full of extraordinary twists and turns, Where Roses Never Die reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost crime writers  

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Book Review: Beneath the Surface by Heidi Perks



Title: Beneath the Surface
Author: Heidi Perks
Publisher: RedDoor Publishing
Publication Date: 24 March 2016

Twitter: @heidiperks1

Rating: 4 out of 5

Blurb

I donʼt know where you are…
 
I donʼt know what Iʼve done…
 
Teenager Abigail Ryder is devastated when she gets home from school to find her family gone.
Nothing makes sense. Things are missing from the house and her stepsistersʼ room is completely empty. But the police think sheʼs trouble, and when grandmother Eleanor tells her to forget them all and move on, thereʼs no choice other than face the future – alone. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Book Review: The Woman in the Picture by Katharine McMahon



Title: The Woman in the Picture
Author: Katharine McMahon
Publisher: W&N Publishers (Orion Books)
Publication Date: 3 July 2014

Twitter: @McKatharine
Blog/website: www.katharinemcmahon.com/
 
Rating: 4 out of 5

Blurb

London, 1926. Evie Gifford, one of the first female lawyers in Britain, is not a woman who lets convention get in her way. She has left her family home following a devastating love affair, much to her mother's disapproval.
 
London is tense in the days leading up to the General Strike and Evelyn throws herself into two very different cases - one involving a family with links to the unions and the other a rich man who claims not to be the father of his wife's child. Evie is confronting the hardest challenge of her career when she is faced with an unexpected proposal - just as her former lover returns.