Monthly Archives: January 2014

A Pleasure and a Calling – Phil Hogan

Doubleday

Publication date – 27 February 2014

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4 of 5 stars

I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher via Net Galley, in exchange for an honest review.

“You won’t remember Mr Heming. He showed you round your comfortable home, suggested a sustainable financial package, negotiated a price with the owner and called you with the good news. The less good news is that, all these years later, he still has the key. 

That’s absurd, you laugh. Of all the many hundreds of houses he has sold, why would he still have the key to mine?

The answer to that is, he has the keys to them all.

William Heming’s every pleasure is in his leafy community. He loves and knows every inch of it, feels nurtured by it, and would defend it – perhaps not with his life but if it came to it, with yours…”

Most of us have a natural inclination to nosiness. We may try to peer surreptitiously at a fellow passenger’s book on a train, or tried to glance in through windows at night when the curtains aren’t drawn. We may want to know what the latest Hollywood star was wearing or who they are dating, or eagerly try to catch the glimpse of a bride in her dress if we stumble across a wedding. This is of course innocent enough. But what happens if that natural inquisitive nature turns into something more sinister? What is the next step, voyeur, stalker, killer…?

It is obvious from the outset that Mr Heming, and he is always known as Mr Heming, has sociopathic tendancies. He is a loner, blending into the background. He has a thriving business as an Estate Agent, yet lives in a flat rented through a shell company he owns. Oh and he has a key to every house he has ever sold, using them to ‘visit’ the properties and stay when the owners are out.

Oh this is a dark and twisted tale. I found myself at times not wanting to read any more of Mr Heming’s inner thoughts but felt compelled nonetheless to read on, the impending sense of dread ever increasing.

Through his meandering reminisces we see that Mr Heming’s issues have been around since he was a small child. His hiding and spying never seem to be innocent childhood japes and his actions then speak volumes as to the type of man he is to become. It is not so much the tale of his current predicament that is disturbing, though it is by no means comfortable, it is these reminisces that make it to me even more disturbing and sinister.

The use of the first person narrative is an excellent story-telling device. Listening to him recall his tale he makes us as the reader almost complicit, making the perils of discovery our own as well as his.

It also easy to be contradictory with this book. I spent half of my time wanting him to be caught in the act and the rest of the time willing him to hurry before he was revealed.

I can’t recall reading anything similar to this book but it had me gripped, I read the last half of the book in an afternoon. It leaves me with the feeling of being observed, and a reminder to perhaps change my locks….

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The Guestbook – Holly Martin

Update 8 Feb 2014 :

 

There’s now a fab video you can view, all about The Guestbook:

 

 

Today I’m pleased to share with you the cover reveal for The Guestbook by Holly Martin, published by Carina on February 14th.

Blurb:

 
Welcome to Willow Cottage – throw open the shutters, let in the sea breeze and make yourself completely at home. Oh, and please do leave a comment in the Guestbook!
 
As landlady of Willow Cottage, the young widow Annie Butterworth is always on hand with tea, sympathy or strong Norfolk cider – whatever her colourful array of guests require.  A flick through the messages in the leather-bound cottage guestbook gives a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of everyone who passes through her doors.
 
This includes Annie herself – especially now celebrity crime writer Oliver Black, is back in town. He might grace the covers of gossip magazines with a different glamorous supermodel draped on his arm every week, but to Annie, he’s always just been Olly, the man who Annie shared her first kiss with.
 
Through the pages of the Guestbook Annie and Olly, along with all the guests that arrive at the seaside retreat, struggle with love, loss, mystery, joy, happiness, guilt…and the odd spot of naked rambling!
 
Forget sending postcards saying ‘wish you were here’ – one visit to Willow Cottage and you’ll wish you could stay forever.
 
 
And here’s the cover:
 
 
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Brought to you by:
 
 
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Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn – Tilly Tennant

Today I’m taking part in the cover reveal blog tour for Tilly Tennant’s new book, Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn, organised by:
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And here is the cover:
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Blurb:
‘There’s only one man for Bonnie, and that’s Holden Finn.
The problem is that Holden Finn is a twenty-three-year-old pop megastar with his boy band, Every Which Way, and has no idea she exists. Not only that, but half the women in the world want to be Mrs Finn, including Bonnie’s teenage daughter, Paige. The real men in Bonnie’s life do nothing but let her down, but a man you can’t possibly have can never do that… right? She’s safe inside her fantasy bubble.
Then Paige wins a radio competition to meet Holden and the band, and Bonnie’s carefully-constructed world starts to unravel. She is about to find out that you should be very, very careful what you wish for …’
Please check out the cover reveal video…
About Tilly:
Tilly Tennant was born in Dorset but now lives in Staffordshire with her slightly nutty family.  Tilly is married to Mr Tennant (not that one, though a girl can dream). She likes nothing better than curling up in a quiet corner with a glass of wine watching the world go by, but can more usually be found taxiing her daughters to parties or taking them on emergency shopping trips. After a huge list of dismal and disastrous jobs over the years, including paper plate stacking, shop girl, newspaper promotions and waitressing, she began working as a temporary secretary in a hospital to boost her income whilst doing a degree in English and creative writing. This job lasted nine years. Not terribly temporary. But it does mean that she knows just what it’s like to make monumental admin cock-ups, spend the month’s wages in the hospital coffee shop and fall in love with all the doctors. As she’s a smug married, however, it’s fortunate that the doctors in question don’t usually feel the same way.
Tilly is represented by the wonderful, gorgeous Peta Nightingale at LAW.
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Get in touch with Tilly:
Competition:
WIN a £10 amazon gift voucher by commenting on Tilly’s blog with your funniest celebrity crush encounter. Good luck to all who enter!

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Rowena’s Key – A J Nuest

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Rowena’s Key – A. J. Nuest

The lovely Sam has kindly allowed me to guest review on her blog so pop on over to see my review of Rowena’s Key.

Mrsbbooks2011.blogspot.co.uk

 

 

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Red Room – Edited by A. J. Ashworth

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Red Room – New Stories Inspired by the Brontes.

Unthank Books

4 of 5 stars

I was provided with a copy of this book from the publishers in return for an honest review.

This is a collection of short stories written by award winning short story authors. Each writer was asked to create a story inspired by the works of the Brontes. A percentage of the profits are being donated by Unthank books to The Bronte Birthplace Trust who aim to save the birthplace of the Brontes, in Thornton, Bradford. Each of the authors featured provided their work for no fee.

The blurb at the back can best describe the contents of the anthology.” The Collection features a demon sheep, strange curates, acts of rebellion and acts of violence. There is love made and love ruined, parents lost and children found. A girl’s controlling step-father gets more than he bargained for while out on a picnic. A troubled man finds comfort in the poetry of Emily Bronte during his wife’s illness. A woman stumbles across a French officer while walking and returns home with a secret.”

The little book had sat shamefully neglected on my TBR for some time. Yesterday I decided to pick it up and only put it down because sleep beckoned. This is a beautiful collection of short stories covering a wide variety of themes, yet all brought together by the inspiration of the Bronte sisters. If you have not read anything by Charlotte, Emily or Anne Bronte don’t let this put you off the book. All the tales contained in it are well worth a read.

One or two of the stories stick out as particular favourites, imaginary correspondence between two fictional heroines  and the one that will remain with me for a long time, Ashton and Elaine, a beautiful story of a mute boy and his foster sister.

I would recommend this anthology to any lover of short stories. If you’ve yet to fall for the charm of short pieces of fiction then this is a wonderful place to start.

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Forbidden – Linn B Halton

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I received a copy of this book via Netgalley from the publishers in return for a honest review.

3 of 5 stars

Ceri is an angel, sent back to earth to help those who need it, whether they know it or not. Her power manifests itself in a physic ability, she can see spirits and pass on messages from them to loved ones. At the beginning of the book we see her taken back to the universal plane, where her mentors are questioning her relationship with Alex, her boyfriend. On her return she notices that her powers are slightly different and that she is also now aware of auras. As the story progresses we see Ceri become more familiar and comfortable with her powers and to accept that she is in love with Alex and that she wants to embrace that relationship.

This is the second book in a trilogy of novellas and I had not read the first in the series before reading this book. Due to this I felt that I was leaking some background information and investment in the characters so I would recommend that you read the novellas in order.

This is not just about romantic love, but also about how the love between people, or animals, doesn’t just end when someone dies. The author had clearly done a lot of research whilst writing the book and this showed in the story and whilst I may not necessarily believe in spiritualism and the religious connotations it was interesting to learn more about it. It is a very spiritually focused book so if you are interested in this field, then this book may be for you.

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Someone Else’s Skin – Sarah Hilary

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Headline
Publication date 27 February 2014

4.5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for a honest review.

“Some secrets keep you safe, others will destroy you…

Detective Inspector Marnie Rome. Dependable; fierce; brilliant at her job; a rising star in the ranks. Everyone knows how Marnie fought back from the murder of her parents, but very few know what is going on below the surface. Because Marnie has secrets she won’t share with anyone.

But then so does everyone. Certainly those in the women’s shelter Marnie and Detective Sergeant Noah Jake visit on that fateful day. The day when they arrive to interview a resident, only to find one of the women’s husbands, who shouldn’t have been there, lying stabbed on the floor.

As Marnie and Noah investigate the crime further, events begin to spiral and the violence escalates. Everyone is keeping secrets, some for survival and some, they suspect, to disguise who they really are under their skin.

Now if Marnie is going to find the truth she will have to face her own demons head on. Because the time has come for secrets to be revealed…”

D.I. Marnie Rome knows what it’s like to suffer loss. Her parents were murdered 5 years ago and since then she has used her grief and guilt to climb the ranks in the police force.

Together with D.S. Noah Jake she is investigating Nasif Mirza, a brutal man who is wanted in connection with an attack which left a man without his hand. This leads them to a women’s refuge where Mirza’s sister is hiding after an attack by her brothers left her blind in one eye. On arriving at the refuge Rome and Jake find one of the resident’s with a bloody knife in her hand, her husband lying stabbed and dying on the floor.

As Rome begins to investigate things soon emerge to be not as clear cut as they initially seem. Two of the women from the refuge disappear, with a third soon to follow. In a race against time to find the missing women Rome has to deal with someone who thrives on pain, come face to face with her own prejudices and try to let go of the ghosts that still haunt her regarding her parents and their killer.

This is the crime debut of Sarah Hilary, who has previously won awards for her short stories, and with it she brings us a new rising star in crime fiction.
I enjoyed this book immensely. It was gripping, thought provoking and disturbing. The ensemble of characters were well written, all fitting into the story and I found myself hoping that they would return in the next instalment. If I wasn’t reading it I was wanting to, and when I was reading it I was in that position most of us find ourselves in when we are reading a good book – wanting to read it to find out more, but not wanting it to end. If all the crime novels I read this coming year are half as good as this I’m in for a treat.

Yes, I had guessed how the story would progress before it was revealed in the book, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment. This tends to happen with the vast majority of crime fiction I read, and given that the bulk of my reading is taken up by this genre guessing the storyline and twists is part of the fun.

Sarah Hiliary has written about a topic that is often shied away from and has dealt with it in a way that is both sensitive, enlightening and shocking. Though Rome has her dark moments, secrets she keeps under her skin, she makes a refreshing change from the dour, borderline alcoholic leads in crime novels that are regular layers in crime novels. She has her own demons to contend with, the story of her parents’ murders and her relationship with her foster brother is a theme that will carry on through the series.

In Marnie Rome, Sarah Hilary has created a new force to be reckoned with. I can easily see this series being made into a TV series, only hopefully, if this does happen, TV execs will do themselves a favour and keep Rome and her colleagues as they are in Someone Else’s Skin.

The great thing about discovering a new author and a new series of novels is that you have the next book in the series to look forward to. The bad thing about it is the wait until the new novel is published. I am impatiently waiting for the next Marnie Rome novel.

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