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Archive for December, 2016

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop and round off the Blog Tour for #Witness by the incredibly talented Caroline Mitchell.  Witness is actually Caroline’s first psychological thriller and it’s absolute corker, check out my review below and see what you think.

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Published: 20 December 2016
Reviewed: 2 November 2016

5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Thomas & Mercer and Author in exchange for an honest review

 

Description:

To Rebecca it was a brave decision that led to her freedom from domestic abuse. To Solomon it was the ultimate betrayal.

It’s been ten years since Rebecca’s testimony saw Solomon locked away. Enough time for the nightmares to recede, the nerves to relax; enough time to rebuild her life and put the past behind her.

Then one day a phone rings in her bedroom—but it’s not her phone. Solomon has been in her home, and has a very simple message for her: for each of the ten years he has spent in jail, Rebecca must witness a crime. And, to make matters worse, she has to choose the victims.

Fail to respond and you get hurt. Talk to police and you die. Ready to play? You have sixty seconds to decide…

As the crimes grow more severe, the victims closer to home, Rebecca is forced to confront a past she had hoped was gone forever.

My Thoughts & Review:

I was immensely honoured to have been offered the opportunity to read Caroline Mitchell’s latest thriller before publication.  I am a great fan of her work and she’s one of the few authors that I will immediately buy a book from without a moment hesitation.

Witness is quite possibly one of the most taut psychological thrillers I’ve read.  It’s a gripping read from the very opening pages that pulls the reader in and keeps them reading frantically.
I would say that it has a claustrophobic feel to it despite the setting in the sprawling Welsh countryside.  And this closed in feeling really begins to impose on the reader as the plot thickens, the danger increases and the reader begins to experience the sickening feeling in the pit of their stomach along with Rebecca.  The panic and turmoil that is experienced by  Rebecca is so well written that the reader cannot help but become wrapped up in it.  There were stages in the narrative that I desperately wanted to put down the book, my feeling of dread at what lay ahead was so great, but Caroline Mitchell writes in such a way that you have to keep reading, she baits chapters so effectively that it’s almost physically impossible to put the book down.

Character development in this was absolutely superb.  Seeing Rebecca go from being a victim to being happy, in control and able to  move on was fantastic, but when Solomon reappears in her life, the shift in her was so expertly written.  Subtle changes in her were apparent to those closest to her but easy to write off as tiredness or a headache etc, only the reader was aware of the true reasons.
Solomon is an interesting character, utterly malevolent and ruthless.  The way that he is written makes the reader feel on edge slightly, aware that all is not what it seems and he evokes a feeling of fear and panic.  Being able to create a character that can inspire this much unease from readers is remarkably good writing, and this book has it in abundance.

The skill in the writing here is portraying sensitive subjects and not shying away from what makes them so hard, gritty and abhorrent.  There is sensitivity in the writing about domestic abuse and the violence of it all, Caroline’s time working in the Police Force shows through her ability to write with credibility about these subjects so vividly but she ensures that it is not done gratuitously.

Despite Caroline Mitchell having an impressive collection of novels already behind her, I have to admit that this is quite possibly my favourite one yet.  It’s gripping, disturbing and utterly chilling but a brilliant read!!

You can purchase a copy of Witness here.

About the Author:

A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences. She now writes full time.
Published by Bookouture, her DC Knight crime thriller series reached the number one position in the Amazon crime charts and sold over a quarter of a million copies in the first year and a half of publication. The first in her new series, Love You To Death, features DS Ruby Preston is due for publication 11th November 2016.

Her new psychological thriller, Witness, is published with Thomas & Mercer and due for publication 20th December 2016.

Originally from Ireland, Caroline lives with her family in a pretty village on the coast of Essex.
Sign up to join her Reader’s club for access to news, updates and exclusive competitions and giveaways – Caroline Mitchell Reader’s Club  or follow her on Twitter for updates @Caroline_writes

Don’t forget to check out the previous hosts for reviews and posts or pop over to my co-host for today Seans Book Reviews

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Published: 16 November 2016
Reviewed: 21 December 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy provided by Bookouture in return for an honest review

 

Description:

You wake up to find the man beside you is dead.
He is not your husband. This is not your bed.
What do you do?

Tara Logan lives a quiet life with her husband, Noah, and two children, teenager Rosie and eleven-year-old Spencer.

But her peace is shattered when she wakes in her neighbour Lee’s bed, with no memory of how she got there or what happened between them.
And worse – he has been stabbed to death.

Convinced she didn’t kill Lee, Tara stays silent, fearing the truth will rip her family apart.

But as her daughter spirals out of control, and her husband becomes increasingly distant, Tara soon realises that someone in her life knows what really happened to Lee. She must get to the truth before they do.

Tara made a mistake … but will one night cost her everything?

A gripping, shocking psychological thriller, with a twist that will take you by surprise.

My Thoughts & Review:

While You Were Sleeping is a thoroughly twisted psychological thriller, it’s intense, it’s gripping and very hard to put down.
Unreliable narrators make for some of the most interesting reading, and this book is rife with them, making this a really a book that keeps the reader on their toes.  Who can be trusted, who is keeping a secret, who’s secret is more dangerous that the others are just some of the things that sped through my head when I read this book.

From the opening pages of the book Kathryn Croft catapults her readers into the abyss with the revelation that Tara Logan has woken up naked, in a strange room, with a man that is not her husband, he is their neighbour…..but she has no idea how she got there.  But most worrying is the fact that the man in bed with her has been stabbed to death.  Quite possibly one of the best openings to a thriller I’ve seen, it immediately has the reader questioning everything, trying to work out where this is all going, trying to guess who, what, how and why.

The characters in this are great creations, very well developed and multilayered.  However, the majority of them are unlikeable, save for Tara’s son Spencer.  Almost all of the characters in this are hiding something, the severity of their secrets varying but they all read as though any of them could have been responsible for the murder.  The lies and deception were so well written that I found I was hooked trying to fathom it all, which in turn meant I raced through this book.

And just as the beginning was explosive, the ending did not disappoint.  With a twisty, turny, heart stopping, remember to breathe conclusion I felt that my brain had truly been frazzled.

You can buy a copy of While You Were Sleeping here.

About the Author:

Kathryn Croft is the bestselling author of The Girl With No Past, which spent over four weeks at number one in the Amazon chart. Her other novels, Behind Closed Doors and The Stranger Within, and The Girl You Lost all reached number one in the psychological thriller charts.

Her fifth novel, While You Were Sleeping, will be published on 16th November 2016, and is now available for preorder on Amazon.

After six years teaching secondary school English, Kathryn now writes full time and has a publishing deal with Bookouture.

Having always been an avid reader, Kathryn believes in the power of words to entertain, teach and transform lives. She is also a firm believer in following your dreams and says anything is possible if you work hard enough and never give up!

Kathryn lives in Guildford, Surrey with her husband, baby son and two cats.

www.kathryncroft.com

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Published: 25 October 2016
Reviewed: 20 December 2016

3.5 out of 5 stars

Copy provided by Bonnier Zaffre in return for an honest review

 

Description:

A dangerous game – or a murderous reality?

For role-playing gamers like Mina and Thomas, reality can blur when you spend too much time online. But when Thomas disappears, not only from the virtual world but also from real life, Mina sets out to search for him. When she discovers that other Berliners have gone missing, all of them participants in the same game, she worries that she will be next.

Chief Inspector Eisenberg heads up a team that is supposed to track and prevent potential terrorists. But identifying suspects via pattern recognition doesn’t help – you can’t arrest someone before a crime has been committed. Faced with uniting a brilliant but unruly team made up of hackers and coders, Eisenberg is drawn into the puzzle of the missing gamers – all of whom had the same in-game experience immediately before they disappeared.

Will Eisenberg and his team be able to unravel the truth from the fiction before it’s too late?

My Thoughts & Review:

In the spirit of challenging myself and reading something that hovers towards the edges of my comfort zone I picked up Delete and hoped for the best.

I have to admit that I was intrigued by the thriller element of the plot, something about it stood out for me and had me keen to find out more, but my indecisiveness toward this book surrounded the computer game aspect.  I am not a gamer, never have been and so the world of gaming is not something I can get my head around very easily.  It’s akin to plonking me down in the middle of Russia and telling me to ask for 2 cups of tea…
However, I will say that the AI (Artificial Intelligence) and gaming themes were well written, fascinating reading and strangely I found that I was very intrigued by the ideas, so much so I struck up a conversation with my husband (one of the computer/gadget appreciators), asking him various “what if” and “but how” questions.

With such an intriguing plot and fascinating characters this is a complex and clever book.  There are numerous threads all running parallel through this which keeps the reader questioning and thinking.  It’s actually quite hard to review without giving anything away about it, but it’s “one of those” ones that deserves not to be spoiled.

Unfortunately I can’t really say that it’s one I would revisit anytime soon and I feel like it’s already being filed away in my brain somewhere, ready to gather cobwebs.

You can buy a copy of Delete here.

 

About the Author:

Karl Olsberg holds a Ph.D. in artificial intelligence and works as an e-commerce consultant and trainer. He was a developer of computer games and is the founder of three start-up companies, one of which was named “Start-up of the Year 2000” by German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche. He has written more than 10 books that have been translated into 6 languages, among them the bestselling novel “Das System”. He lives with his family in Hamburg, Germany.

Author info courtesy of Goodreads

 

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entertainer

The Rules

-Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.
– Add these rules to your post.
– Answer all the questions below.
– Display the award picture in your post.
– Nominate 12 bloggers who are funny, inspiring and entertaining

Thank you so much sydneysshelves. I am delighted and honoured to be tagged.

1. Why did you start a blog in the first place?

It was really one of those moments when I decided to turn my rambling thoughts into something useful.  I was forever discussing books with colleagues, friends and my parents and I stumbled upon some amazing book blogs online one day and thought it was something I might like to try.

2. What is your favourite book?

That’s a hard  question, there are so many good ones…..Though I do have a tendency to say “Alone in Berlin” by Hans Fallada, I read this book in my late teens and so much of it stuck with me.  It’s my go to book when I have a reading slump.

3. What do you dislike the most?

oooh non specific dislikes?  Generally, I would say bad manners and lack of common courtesy.  My mammy will be so proud haha

4. What is your favourite food item at the mall?

I don’t really eat at the mall, we don’t really have malls in Scotland…..I guess the food court does have some good things, used to like Millie’s Cookies when I was younger.

5. What is your favourite pastime? 

Other than reading?  Erm well I knit (blog name gives that one away eh?), and I like to cook and bake (although my enthusiasm never matches up to the skill set) and spending quality time with my husband and daughter.

I’m supposed to tag 12 people, but to be fair, most people will be busy with their reading and reviews so here’s list of blogs recommend you check out instead (guys if you want to join in then feel free):

  1. The Book Review Cafe
  2. Bibliophile Book Club
  3. Damppebbles
  4. Portobello Book Blog
  5. The Last Word-Book Review
  6. My Chestnut Reading Tree
  7. CrimeBookJunkie
  8. chapterinmylife – Sharon Loves Books
  9. Jill’s Book Cafe
  10. Keeper of Pages
  11. jennamedlicott
  12. The Misstery

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Published: 10 November 2016
Reviewed: 19 December 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy provided by publisher in return for an honest review

 

Description:

Angelena Boden’s compelling debut novel tackles challenging themes, its psychological twists and violence keeping you gripped to the very last page.

The career of acclaimed cellist, Iain Millar, is in tatters. Allegations of sexual harassment while teaching in a girls’ school have left him unemployable, and he soon spirals into depression.

Iain sees himself as a failure and falls into a dark place where his cello playing provides the only light. When fresh revelations appear to implicate Iain in the abuse of his ambitious wife, Una Carrington, the world is quick to decide his guilt. Iain’s precious antique cello then disappears, and even music is lost to him.

Fergus O’Neal, a fellow string player, sets out to recover the missing instrument knowing it is Iain’s only hope of redemption …

This is an addictive debut and perfect for fans of contemporary thrillers.

My Thoughts & Review:

Angelena Boden has written one of the most challenging books I’ve ever read, this is a compelling and captivating novel that shines light on the topic of domestic abuse.  The writing is so very eloquent and clever that it draws the reader in from the very beginning and holds their attention rapt despite any rising trepidation at what may lie ahead.

The characters in this are superbly written and the reader can conjure a very vivid image of them.  Iain is a man so desperately broken, the tendrils of depression have wrapped round him so tightly that he no longer struggles against them.  The picture painted of his is saddening to read, the abuse he receives at the hands of his wife, the loss of his beloved cello bring him real pain, and so coupled with his black outs and hearing voices, make for dark and addictive reading.  Una, Iain’s wife is a character that many readers will delight in disliking, nigh hating.  A cruel and manipulative woman shaped by her upbringing, seems to enjoy inflicting her ways upon her “weak” husband.  In stark contrast to these characters was the wonderful Fergus, a friend of Iain.  He is funny, helpful, supportive but feels very much the the situation between Iain and Una is outwith his capabilities.

The prevailing darkness in this book is almost claustrophobic at times.  The reader feels an urge to keep reading, hoping for a positive outcome for Iain, hoping that something will change despite seeing the escalation in Una’s behaviour, the deeper depressive slump that Iain falls into.  There are times this is a bleak and harrowing read, however Angelena Boden is a skilled writer, she evokes a raft of emotions from her readers including sympathy and compassion.
It is evident that a lot of research has been done for the writing of this novel, the way in which the abuse is written is done so with sensitivity and sympathy, giving a great insight into a world that some may have little knowledge about.

I am astounded that this is Boden’s debut thriller novel and I will be sure to keep an eye out for future books!

You can buy a copy of The Cruelty of Lambs direct from the publisher here or via Amazon here.

 

About the Author:

Angelena has spent over thirty years training, coaching and counselling in the field of interpersonal conflict and communication using Eric Berne’s model of Transactional Analysis. As a linguist, she has lived and worked overseas, travelled extensively and spent periods in Iran where she learned Farsi.

She is the author of three business books, published by Management Pocketbooks Ltd and is a freelance journalist.

A former resident and graduate of Birmingham, the setting for The Cruelty of Lambs, she is a passionate defender of a city she believes is misunderstood.

To find out more about Angelena, visit www.angelenaboden.com or follow her on Twitter @AngelenaBoden

Courtesy of Urbane Publications

 

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Published: 10 November 2016
Reviewed: 18 December 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by HQ Digital as part of blog tour

 

Description:

This Christmas pantomime is about to be the talk of the town!
 
Luna Bay’s festive preparations are well under way and the much anticipated annual pantomime is to be, once again, the highlight of the season. Too bad that the village’s very own actress and darling of Broadway, Alice Woods, isn’t feeling in the mood for Christmas.
Until the pantomime comes under threat and a grief-stricken Alice is forced to push her personal pain aside and step up to direct – after all, the show must go on…
So with (more than) a little help from her new found friends, not to mention one very gorgeous Hollywood A-list celebrity, the play begins to come together, but will Alice finally believe that Christmas is a time for miracles after all?
My Thoughts & Review:
I’ve been a fan on the Luna Bay series written by Lynsey James since the beginning and I honestly think that the books get better each time, there’s a lovely cosy warmth in Lynsey’s writing that envelopes you while you read her books and the festive spirit in this one makes it the perfect read in the build up to Christmas.
I should stress that this can be read as a stand alone, although Alice did appear in The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club this is her story.
She has returned to Luna Bay after a very successful career on Broadway, broken hearted and hoping to stay under the radar.  Her mother has other ideas and gets her involved in the local pantomime (albeit reluctantly), where she meets a colourful array of characters including Christabel the pantomime director.  None of this does much to help lift Alice’s spirits in the beginning but soon she has some wonderful ideas to help the performance.
As always, the characters are wonderful creations, so lifelike and relatable.  Alice is a character most readers will instantly take into their hearts, her sadness is almost heart wrenching to read and I wished I could give her a hug and a cuppa to try and help her.  Christabel is a character we have all encountered at some point I would reckon, she’s fiercely proud but her enthusiasm seems to get in the way end things end up in a bit of a fluster (or mess).  It was lovely to see old friends like Emma and Lucy from previous novels, so nice to have that little bit of life moving on for readers of the series.
The ease at which Lynsey James transports her readers into the book means that you can almost see what’s going on and I really wish I could have seen Alice’s ideas for the pantomime as the mental images conjured were wonderful.
Well paced, this was a quick and enjoyable read just like the previous books.
You can buy a copy of The Silver Bells Christmas Pantomime here.

About the Author:

Lynsey James was born in Fife in 1991 and has been telling people how to spell her name ever since. She’s an incurable bookworm who loves nothing more than getting lost in a good story with memorable characters. She started writing when she was really young and credits her lovely Grandad- and possibly a bump on the head from a Mr Frosty machine- with her love of telling stories. She used to write her own episodes of Friends and act them out in front of her family (in fact she’s sure she put Ross and Rachel together first!)

A careers adviser at school once told Lynsey writing wasn’t a “good option” and for a few years, she believed her. She tried a little bit of everything, including make-up artistry, teaching and doing admin for a chocolate fountain company. The free chocolate was brilliant. When Lynsey left my job a couple of years ago, she started writing full-time while she looked for another one. As soon as she started working on her story, Lynsey fell in love and decided to finally pursue her dream. She haven’t looked back since.

When Lynsey’s not writing, eating cake or drinking tea, she’s daydreaming about the day Dylan O’Brien FINALLY realises they’re meant to be together. It’ll happen one day…

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Published: 3 November 2016
Reviewed: 17 December 2016

5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Penguin UK – Michael Joseph in return for an honest review

 

Description:

There’s the lost.
There’s the missing.
And there’s the taken.

She asked me once if we had any secrets, and I shook my head.
‘No secrets between us,’ she said.
‘No,’ I answered. ‘Never ever.’

In a Durham hotel at dawn, celebrated preacher Tristan Snow is murdered as he prays. None of the other guests – not even his daughter, his wife, or her sister – saw or heard anything.

But then again, they all had a motive for murder.

Detective Inspector Erica Martin is confronted by secrets and lies, lost in a case where nothing is what it seems.

With no answers, DI Martin is consumed by questions: Is anyone in this family innocent? When the victim might have been a monster – is there such a thing as justice? And does anyone deserve to die?

My Thoughts & Review:

Despite being the second book to feature DI Erica Martin, The Taken reads well as a stand alone – thank goodness for me as I’d not read Bitter Fruits.

When evangelical preacher Tristan Snow is found dead in his B&B in Durham Erica Martin and her team find that there is more to this case than they first suspected.  What then follows is a dark and twisted case with no shortage of suspects, ones who are determined to keep their secrets and reveal as little as possible.

Despite there being so many characters in this novel, the author takes great care to ensure that the reader gets a clear picture of the vital ones.  Using techniques such as writing chapters in italics throughout the reader is privy to a letter written by the wife of the murder victim.  This gives a fascinating insight into this character and allows the reader more opportunity to try and understand her, as well as give more ammunition to dislike her.  In fact, a lot of the characters in this are quite hard to like but this does not make them less interesting, quite the opposite.

This is a deliciously clever book, the plot is well woven so that there are multiple suspects and even more motives for the killing. This seemed to have an added *something* making it better than the average police procedural novel for me, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there was just something about this one.  It’s the sort of book you desperately want to read on to see “who, what and why” but at the same time you don’t want to finish the book.  A very gripping and compulsive read!

You can buy a copy of The Taken here.

 

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