Monthly Archives: May 2014

The Three – Sarah Lotz – review

Hodder & Stoughton

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They’re here … The boy. The boy watch the boy watch the dead people oh Lordy there’s so many … They’re coming for me now. We’re all going soon. All of us. Pastor Len warn them that the boy he’s not to??–

The last words of Pamela May Donald (1961 – 2012)

Black Thursday. The day that will never be forgotten. The day that four passenger planes crash, at almost exactly the same moment, at four different points around the globe.

There are only four survivors. Three are children, who emerge from the wreckage seemingly unhurt. But they are not unchanged. And the fourth is Pamela May Donald, who lives just long enough to record a voice message on her phone. A message that will change the world.

The message is a warning.”

4 of 5 stars

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

Four planes crash on the same day, each one in a different area of the world. Only three young children survive. Pamela Donald lives long enough to leave a cryptic message on her phone, warning her Pastor to warn people about the boy. The ramifications of the crash, the survivours and the message reverberate around the world.

This is a book within a book. The story is told as if it were  a true life book written by Elspeth Martins. Each chapter deals with a different person involved in the story, be it the uncle of one of the survivours, notes of online discussions between the Japanese cousin of an other and her online friend or the crash investigator. As we hear from each the story develops, layer upon layer. We see that the children have changed since the crash, or at least it so appears.

Religious zealots use the crashes as warnings that the apocalypse is coming, relationships develop and disappear and people begin to re-evaluate themselves and those around them. All the while the questions remain, what really caused the planes to crash, and what has really happened to the children?

This is a gripping, enjoyable read. I particularly loved the narrative tool of the book within a book. It set the pace for the story and meant that I didn’t find any part dragged. I simply wanted to find out what had really happened. This has been labelled by some as a horror novel. I don’t tend to take much stock by genre types. To me there are two types of books; fiction and non-fiction. I therefore cannot comment as to whether it is a horror novel or not. I can say however I found this a creepy read, and frightening in the respect that the fallout of the crash could in some respects come true.

This is as much a story of human nature than it is the supernatural. It deals well with the evils of power and greed taking over by those who will use even the worst of circumstances for their own gains. It discusses the world’s need for explanation of the explainable, the media culture and how it can harm as well as help and how fear and prejudice can be mankind’s downfall.

I enjoyed this book a great deal and look forward to reading more from Sarah Lotz.

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The Golden Egg – Donna Leon – review

Arrow

 

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“A local deaf-mute man has been found dead and an empty bottle of pills points to suicide. Fearing the case may be more sinister than at first it seems, Brunetti investigates further.

But who is the dead man? And why is his life so mysterious?

Brunetti’s search for the truth leads him into deeper and darker waters than he could have ever imagined.

The Golden Egg is a captivating, harrowing and emotionally powerful crime thriller of the first order.”

4 of 5 stars

The Golden Egg is the 22nd outing for Commissario Guido Brunetti and finds him looking into the death of a deaf mute man who worked in the launderette Brunetti frequents. As he investigates he finds people closing ranks, comes into contact with a wealthy family beset with tragedy, and discovers that the dead man does not appear to exist..

There is a wonderful sense of anticipation when a new installment of a much loved series is published. It’s almost the reader equivalent of waiting for Christmas. I love Donna Leon’s Brunetti and eagerly look forward to a new tale involving him, Vianello, Signorina Elettra and the rest of the Brunetti clan. It’s almost like being part of the family and indeed a lot of the narrative relates to many lunches and dinners the Brunettis’ partake of, the family bond and meal time discussions an important part of making the Commissario the person he is.

The Golden Egg continued in the vein of great stories from Donna Leon. I enjoyed catching up with the recurring characters and seeing them develop, particularly Pucetti who develops his own detective skills under the watchful and encouraging eye of Brunetti. It is even a pleasure to welcome back those characters we are supposed to hate, Patta and Scarpa and as always the location of Venice is enticing.

A common element of these books  is that there is not always a neat and tidy conclusion. Sometimes there isn’t even a crime at all, or at least the only crime committed is a moral rather than a legal one. Sometimes killers go free, criminals go unpunished and Brunetti is left with the determination to do all that he can with the next case.  But this is also what appeals, life is not always black and white, sometimes people go unpunished and those in power or with money can extricate themselves from blame. These books are more than just crime dramas, they are treatises on politics, society and power and add all the more to the appeal of them.

I look forward to reading the next Brunetti book, By It’s Cover, hopefully sooner rather than later.

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Blog Tour – Sinfully Summer – Aimée Duffy – Excerpt and Giveaway

Sinfully Summer – Aimée Duffy Blog Tour + Giveaway

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Here to put a little sizzling sunshine in your life is the Sinfully Summer Tour!

The smash-hit contemporary romance novel by Aimée Duffy has just been released in paperback so take a look at the details to find out why fans are loving it! There will be reviews and guest posts along the way, plus the chance to win a personalised signed copy of the book.

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What they say:

A Summer Bonkbuster perfect for fans of Jackie Collins, Tilly Bagshawe, Jilly Cooper and Victoria Fox!

SUN, SEA AND SEX

FLINGS & FLIRTATIONS

Notorious heiress Alexa Green has certainly been enjoying her most recent girls-holiday in Marbella. Just as we thought, she’s been knocking back the cocktails and showing off her fabulous bikini body on the beach…

SECRETS & SCANDALS

But rumour has it she’s also been spotted sneaking out of Enrique Castillo’s penthouse in the early hours of this morning – in nothing but her underwear! Our question is, doesn’t this fiercely private billionaire know what he’s letting himself in for?

He’s got the millions… and she knows how to spend them! So lie back on your sun lounger and get comfortable, because this summer fling is going to be a sizzler!

Click Here To Buy The Paperback

Want the book instantly? CLICK HERE to download the eBook via Amazon UK or CLICK HERE to download the eBook via Amazon US.

 

***Excerpt***

 

Wild. Daring. Completely bonkers.

Alexa had been accused of all these things, but it didn’t bother her. Ric’s accusation that she was childish hit a nerve. She twisted the knob and threw the door open. Jenna yelped into the hotel phone, while Sarah paced the living room. They both turned to her with wild, worried eyes.

Alexa shut the door behind her. The gymnasts in her tummy felt more like heavy weight champs. ‘What’s wrong?’

‘Where have you been, Alexa?’ Sarah stomped towards her, a frown marred her brow.

‘It’s okay, she’s back now,’ Jenna spoke into the receiver then hung up. She glared at Alexa. ‘We’ve been worried sick.’

Hugging her stomach, she swallowed. ‘The dare didn’t go as planned. I ended up in Enrique Castillo’s penthouse.’

She was rewarded with wide eyes and gaping mouths. Jenna recovered first. ‘His t-shirt?’

Alexa nodded, her eyebrows pulled together. ‘He blackmailed a date out of me too.’ The arrogant, pushy, git. She shook her head in exasperation, who’d have thought he’d actually back up his threat? If it was her father, he wouldn’t want bad press for his hotel. Not Castillo. ‘Tomorrow night. Some mortuary gig.’

Well, not quite. But it didn’t sound promising. Formal, in her opinion, meant boring and there was nothing she loathed more than boring. Except having to call her father to ask him to bail her out of a Spanish prison. She shuddered at the thought.

‘A date?’ Sarah perked up, skipping over the fact Alexa had said blackmailed, and clapped her hands like a loon. The shiny diamond on her ring finger sparkled in the light.

Alexa quelled a grimace as a chill ran through her. Why her friends felt the need to settle down so young was beyond her. Then again, they hadn’t been brought up by her father.

‘And he’s gorgeous,’ Jenna added, already on her way to the mini bar. Did neither of her friends hear the word blackmail? Jenna pulled a bottle of Crystal from the fridge. ‘This calls for a celebration.’

‘I don’t think so.’ Alexa accepted the champagne flute though—how could she not? The sip she took was heavenly and exactly what she needed right now. They settled down onto the sofas. ‘I’m not looking for the one.’ And even if she was, Alexa knew it wouldn’t be Ric. Lush as that chest may be…

‘Just imagine. We could all end up getting married this year!’ Sarah bounced up and down in her seat, her short blonde bob swished around her shoulders.

The blood drained from Alexa’s face and the weight in her stomach felt heavier than lead. ‘No.’ Her protest was barely a whisper. Bunnies would rule the earth before she married a man even remotely like her father. From her experience, successful men, even aspiring ones, were all the same. God knows her father had tried to set her up with enough of them. He’d even staged a proposal from one. She had pulled on her running shoes and bolted in the opposite direction.

Jenna saved her. ‘Sarah, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. They’ve not been on the date yet.’

Alexa flashed her a grateful smile.

Sarah just pouted. ‘Where’s he taking you? You said mortuary?’

Shrugging, she sipped her wine then tucked her legs under her. ‘He said formal, which means black tied, straight-laced, men dribbling on about their success. Might as well be a wake. Those kind of parties are always dull.’

Rolling her eyes, Sarah said, ‘You never moan when we go to functions like that.’

‘That’s different. That’s networking for my business. This is a boring date with a boring guy whose sole idea of fun is a frisk between the sheets.’

Hell, in other words. Shivers ran through her again and her body tingled, betraying her thoughts. It seemed her hormones liked the idea of a frisk with Castillo. Well, they’d just have to be disappointed.

‘Sounds like fun to me.’ Jenna giggled. ‘Seriously though, what are you going to wear? You’ve nothing formal with you.’

Sarah clapped her hands together again. ‘We could go shopping tomorrow.’

Alexa smirked. ‘No need. I have the perfect dress.’

Jenna frowned at her, unconvinced.

‘The bronze silk Gucci.’ Her lips curved wider. She couldn’t wait to see Ric’s face. It would serve him right for blackmailing her into going.

 

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Author Bio:

Aimée writes steamy, contemporary romance for the 21st century woman who enjoys the 21st century alpha male. She’s addicted to reading, shopping and can’t go a day without music. When she’s not writing you can find her traipsing up the Ochils (weather permitting of course) or procrastinating on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

Follow Aimée

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***GIVEAWAY***

Enter the giveaway and you could land yourself a personalised signed copy of Sinfully Summer, the book readers have dubbed “Sexy”, “Fun” and a “Must Read!”

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CandleLit Author Services and Aimée Duffy reserve the right to amend the giveaway details at any time and without prior notice. No responsibility is taken in the event of prize non-delivery.

 

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Alison Littlewood – Q&A

Today Alison Littlewood, author of A Cold Season, Path of Needles and The Unquiet House talks about inspiration, getting published and her reading habits.

1. Your new novel The Unquiet House was published on 10th April. What’s it about?

The Unquiet House is a ghost story set in a rather dour corner of Yorkshire, following the fates of different generations of the same family. It delves into the history of the place, the things that created it and haunt it still – there are sections set in the present day as well as the seventies and the outbreak of the Second World War. The historical stories shed light on each other and on what’s happening in the present. In some ways, though, I suspect it’s probably best read knowing as little as possible, which makes this an strangely difficult question to answer!

2. Your novels are all standalone. Where do you find your inspiration?

Well, I put a lot of things into my books that scare me, such as losing loved ones, being isolated, or in the latest, creepy houses! In the case of Path of Needles, I also used the things I love – fairy tales and winding pathways through the woods – albeit in a twisted way. So I guess anything goes. Places also inspire me. I’ll often come back from my travels with a new story idea, particularly where I’ve done some digging into the local folklore. A Cold Season would have been very different if I hadn’t been struggling to commute over the snowy Pennines, and place has informed and shaped my subsequent novels too. With a novel, I tend to need a central idea to snag in my brain. As I mull it over, other things connect with it and the whole thing starts to grow.

3. How long did it take you to be published with your first novel, A Cold Season?

It seemed to take a long time to get anyone to read it, but once they did, thankfully it all happened quite quickly! Someone at a magazine recommended me to Jo Fletcher Books, and it went from there. JFB made the decision to put the novel forward for the Richard and Judy Book Club, and as it made it through the reading rounds we had to crunch the schedule to get the book on shelves in time – so, suddenly, it all seemed to happen at once. Of course I’d been writing for a lot of years by then, putting the hours in and learning everything I could, so it depends where I start counting from.

4. Horror and the dark side of fairy tales feature in your novels. Does your own reading focus on this area? What do you like to read?

I didn’t grow up exclusively reading dark fiction, beyond borrowing my brother’s Stephen King novels – I used to read anything and everything I could lay my hands on – but these days I do tend to choose darker books. The more I’ve been drawn into writing that kind of fiction, the more I’ve come to know the genre. I love novels by Joe Hill, Neil Gaiman, Graham Joyce, Sarah Langan, John Ajvide Lindqvist, Gary McMahon and many others. Darkly magical fiction with a fairy tale feel is also close to my heart, possibly because of my love of Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen when I was young. Angela Slatter and S. P. Miskowski are brilliant.

5. Can you tell us anything about your next project?

I’m returning to some scary soul-snatching territory in the next book. There will be gleefully wicked goings-on! I also have a nice project in development with Daniele Serra, a talented artist and a good friend, which will be a fully illustrated mini collection of short stories. I’m also working on a script which will hopefully be turned into a short film later this year.

6. You must answer a lot of these questions. What question have you never been asked that you wish had been, and what’s the answer?

Oh – ha, I don’t know! Possibly something about audio books. I’ve had several short stories developed for audio and I’ve been hoping for a novel – now The Unquiet House is in the pipeline! I’m really pleased about that, since I love audio books. I don’t get as much chance to listen to them as I used to, but they used to be a lifeline on that long Pennine commute. I’d listen to anything from the Skulduggery Pleasant books (hilarious), to one of my favourite novels, The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

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About Alison Littlewood

Alison Littlewood is a writer of dark fantasy and horror fiction. Her short stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Black Static, Crimewave and Not One Of Us, as well as the British Fantasy Society’s Dark Horizons and the charity anthology Never Again. Her first novel A Cold Season was a Richard and Judy club pick and has sold more than 30,000 copies.

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Swimming Upstream – Ruth Mancini Blog Tour

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Today Ruth Mancini stops by as part of her Swimming Upstream blog tour and kindly answers a few of my questions.

1. Tell us about Swimming Upstream, what’s it about and where did you get the inspiration to write it?

I wrote the first draft of “Swimming Upstream” twenty years ago after a painful relationship break up when issues from my own past came rearing up to haunt me. It was extremely painful because old hurts from my childhood were dragged up. I wanted to read something similar, to know that someone had been through what I had and survived. We all like to listen to songs or watch movies that resonate with us and I wanted to read a novel that had issues similar to mine. But I couldn’t find anything, so I decided to write one. I also wanted to write a story with lots of drama. I love psychological thrillers so wanted to create a story that had some of that aspect to it too. Swimming Upstream is the story of a young woman, Lizzie, who is surprised to realise that she’s unhappy, in spite of having achieved all the things in life that she’d thought would bring her happiness. A road traffic accident brings her into contact with an old friend who is harbouring a secret that will change Lizzie’s  life forever. The novel is about friendship, essentially, and the choices we make. It’s been described as “thinking women’s chicklit”.

2. Do you like to plan your new work in progress before you start or do you like to see where the story takes you?

Plan. Definitely. I’m currently writing the sequel to Swimming Upstream and I plotted the whole story in my head months ago, when driving, or walking or having a bath.  When I first started writing all those years ago it was much more ad hoc, and the first draft of Swimming Upstream was much more of a stream of consciousness. It needed a lot of work as there was way too much of my own life story in there!  I’m finding it much easier to write the sequel now that I have a framework to work with. I know where I have to work in certain aspects of the plot that’s to come – “foreshadowing”  – and it’s fairly easy to do that if you’ve planned ahead. I just read “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn and I think that was an amazing book. It was clearly extremely well plotted and I admire the author greatly for that.

3. What’s your way of dealing with the dreaded writer’s block?

To be honest, it hasn’t happened to me yet. I’m probably completely jinxing myself here!  I think the last question is part of the answer to that. I personally think it’s easier to write if you have a framework in place already. One of the other things I do when I start writing each day is to go over what I wrote yesterday and “polish” it. I find it helps to exercise the writing muscles and get me going with the next new chapter. I consider it the writer’s equivalent to a runner’s stretch!

4. Do you have any advice for anyone writing their first novel?

Just start writing. About anything. If you don’t have much of an idea or framework, then just get it down on paper and exercise those muscles. You may well edit out three quarters of it later on but at least you’ll have something to work with. One of the most amazing things I find about writing – and other authors have said the same – is that once you start writing your subconscious often takes over and you find you’ve written things you never knew that you consciously thought or felt. It’s kind of magical.

5. How long did it take you to write Swimming Upstream and how did you decide on how you would publish it?

It took twenty years altogether! But I did shelve it while I did other things for many years in between (marriage, kids, a career as a lawyer). I dusted it down and rewrote it a couple of years ago and some friends persuaded me to self-publish it on Amazon. It got some fantastic reviews and then a friend introduced me to Booktrope, who put it out to their reader community. It got a thumbs up! The sequel is unfolding much more quickly though. I’ve written half of it in a matter of a few weeks. 

6. You must answer a lot of these questions. What question have you not been asked that you wish had been, and what’s the answer?

I suppose that if I were to try and think of something that your readers might want to know about, they might ask about my personal life. For many years after my ‘big’ relationship breakup I was single, like Lizzie, the central character in Swimming Upstream. I found it really hard and lonely and longed to meet someone and fall in love. But I knew that I needed sufficient time to truly find myself first and to resolve the issues from my past. I’d always lost myself in relationships as a means of escape from my problems. Eventually, I met my husband and a new chapter began, with its own problems. Our first baby (now 11) was born with a severe learning disability. He’s like a baby in a big boy’s body. It was a really difficult thing to come to terms with. It’s still very difficult on a practical level and he can’t talk so he gets very frustrated and upset, because he can’t tell us what he wants. But I’d still say that we are a happy family and there is a lot of laughter. When I look back over my life there have been a lot of challenges, but I think I’ve become stronger for them. Oh, and wine and chocolate help!

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A Little Love – Amanda Prowse

Head of Zeus

Paperback edition 3 July 2014, ebook out now.

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“Everybody needs a little love in their lives…

Pru Plum is the celebrated owner of a famous Mayfair bakery. She wears Chanel and her hair is expensively cut. Few would believe that this elegant woman turned sixty-six last year.

But Pru is not the confident, successful businesswoman she appears. She has done shameful things to get to where she is today. And she will do anything to protect the secrets of her past – especially when, for the first time in her life, she has finally fallen in love…

From bestselling author Amanda Prowse, this is a story about love, loss and lies – and finding happiness before it’s too late.

– See more at: http://headofzeus.com/books/A+Little+Love?field_book_type_value_1=Unknown&bid=9781781854976#sthash.Q6UFDfBF.dpuf”

4 of 5 stars

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

Pru Plum is a successful business woman, owning and running Plum Patisserie with her cousin Milly. Her pastries are world famous and her cakes devoured by the rich and famous. She has a niece she dotes on and would appear from the outside as a happy, confident woman in her 60’s. However Pru begins to realise that the one thing that is missing is love but feels that her past will prevent her from ever finding this.

Soon however love is in the air. The path of true love doesn’t run smoothly though as tragedy strikes and when the skeletons from Pru’s past spill out of the cupboard it seems that the love she has found may be snatched away.

This was a lovely novel with which to be introduced to Amanda Prowse’s work. Each character was well rounded, the pace just right for a romantic novel and the secret of Pru’s past hinted at in just the right amount, and was thankfully introduced in a timely fashion. I loved the relationship between Pru and her cousin Milly. The interaction between the two was both funny and moving.

It made a change to be reading about love found later in life, and how it’s never too late to start living your life. To be honest it was easy to forget that Pru and her man were in their 60’s. I think this was one of the good things about the book, that love is available for all, not just the young, and that even the most cumbersome of baggage can be shed when the right one comes along.

I look forward to reading more of Amanda Prowse’s novels and short stories.

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How to be a Good Wife – Emma Chapman

Picador

Paperback UK

 

“‘I know what my husband would say: that I have too much time on my hands; that I need to keep myself busy. That I need to take my medication. Empty nest syndrome, he tells his friends at the pub, his mother. He’s always said I have a vivid imagination.’

In How To Be a Good Wife, Marta has been married to Hector for longer than she can remember. She has always tried hard to be a good wife.

But now Hector has come home with a secret. And Marta is beginning to imagine – or revisit – a terrifying truth.

– See more at: http://www.picador.com/books/how-to-be-a-good-wife#sthash.1HAD6Tgi.dpuf”

4 of 5 stars

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

Marta, a housewife in her 40’s lives with her older husband Hector. Her beloved son Kylan has moved away from home and she is having difficulty accepting the fact that it will be just her and Hector from now on. Marta and Hector’s relationship had an unusual beginning, with Hector supposedly finding Marta on a doorstep having lost her memory, though the story they tell others is slightly different.

Marta is supposed to take medication, though never explained it appears that these are either anti depressants or anti psychotic drugs as the last time Marta stopped taking them she had ‘episodes’. Unknown to Hector, Marta has again stopped taking the medication. Slowly she begins to see a girl and images, though she isn’t sure if she’s hallucinating or recovering long hidden memories. Whilst all this is going on Hector’s own secret begins to emerge.

This is a gripping debut from Emma Chapman. I read How to be a Good Wife in one day. It is set in an unnamed town in an unnamed Scandinavian country, the hills and fjords surrounding Marta’s village making it seem closed off and adding to the impending sense of claustrophobia the book imparts. Marta hasn’t left the confines of the village for 25 years, under orders from Hector not to do so, for the good of her health. I felt the claustrophobia and mild panic build as the story unfolded, which made it all the more impacting for me.

The outcome of the story is deliberately ambiguous in that Emma Chapman has left it for the reader to decide what has really happened to Marta and Hector. This is a great story device as all the way through the reader is left to make their own decision as to what is being played out. Because of the nature of the story I cannot really say any more about what happens to Marta and Hector, as this would spoil it for the reader.  Be prepared for a chilling, enthralling story that grabs you and won’t let go until you come to your conclusion.

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It Felt Like A Kiss – Sarra Manning – review

Corgi

 

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“Ellie Cohen is living her dream. A great job at an exclusive Mayfair art gallery, loyal mates, loving family, and really, really good hair. Well, there’s the famous rock-star father who refuses to acknowledge her and a succession of ‘challenging’ boyfriends, but nobody’s perfect. 

But when a vengeful ex sells Ellie out to the press, she suddenly finds herself fighting to keep her job, her reputation and her sanity. Then David Gold – handsome, charming but ruthlessly ambitious – is sent in to manage the media crisis . . . and Ellie.

David thinks she’s a gold-digger and Ellie thinks he’s a shark in a Savile Row suit, so it’s just as well that falling in love is the last thing on their minds . . .”

3.5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publishers via Net Galley, in exchange for an honest review.

Ellie Cohen is a nice girl. She tries to find something nice in everyone, from awkward clients to strangers. She has a string of boyfriends who she has ‘fixed’, so much so that they have moved on without her so it’s safe to say her love life is not the best.

Her famous father is absent from her life and his identity is not public knowledge, which she has no intention of changing. However she’s soon uncovered by the paparazzi and her life begins to unfold.

This is a light romance story focusing on Ellie and her absent father’s solicitor David. The misunderstandings surrounding Ellie’s personal life and how she deals with the aftermath of exposure all ensure that the path of true love doesn’t run smooth.

Ellie’s story is interspersed with the story of Ari and Billy, her parents, and add another layer to the story. This is an easy to read story with some likeable characters, for example Tess and Lola, Ellie’s flat mates. I didn’t particularly warm to David at first and I loathed Billy but I believe this is what the author intended so they were well developed in that respect!

I found myself settling down with the book eager to find out what would happen and if and how Ellie would get her revenge, and the man she loved.

A nice, light romantic read.

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The Investigation – Jung-Myung Lee – Review

Mantle

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“At once a captivating mystery and an epic lament for freedom and humanity in the darkest of times, The Investigation – inspired by a true story – is a sweeping, gripping tale perfect for fans of The Shadow of the Wind.

Fukuoka Prison, 1944. Beyond the prison walls the war rages; inside a man is found brutally murdered.

Yuichi Watanabe, a young guard with a passion for reading, is ordered to investigate. The victim, Sugiyama – also a guard – was feared and despised throughout the prison and inquiries have barely begun when a powerful inmate confesses. But Watanabe is unconvinced; and as he interrogates both the suspect and Yun Dong-ju, a talented Korean poet, he begins to realise that the fearsome guard was not all he appeared to be . . .

As Watanabe unravels Sugiyama’s final months, he begins to discover what is really going on inside this dark and violent institution, which few inmates survive: a man who will stop at nothing to dig his way to freedom; a governor whose greed knows no limits; a little girl whose kite finds her an unlikely friend. And Yun Dong-ju – the poet whose works hold such beauty they can break the hardest of hearts.

As the war moves towards its devastating close and bombs rain down upon the prison, Watanabe realises that he must find a way to protect Yun Dong-ju, no matter what it takes. This decision will lead the young guard back to the investigation – where he will discover a devastating truth . . .

At once a captivating mystery and an epic lament for lost freedom and humanity in the darkest of times, The Investigation – inspired by a true story – is a sweeping, gripping tale perfect for fans of The Shadow of the Wind.”

5 of 5 stars

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

Yuichi Watanabe is a young Japanese prison guard, drafted in to guard Korean prisoners in Fukuoka Prison during WWII. He is ordered to investigate the murder of another prison guard, Sugiyama, a cruel man, feared throughout the prison. As Watanabe begins to investigate he comes into contact with thugs, wily prisoners and a young, gentle poet. He also begins to find out that Sugiyama and the prisoners are not all that they would first appear to be.

This is a beautifully written piece of literature. There is beauty, and sometimes sadness, to be found on each page and whilst the topic and the outcome were not always beautiful it was a pleasure to read. Jung-Myung Lee provides such an evocative image of the prison and it’s inhabitants it’s easy to imagine being there. The claustrophobia and melancholy are almost palpable and the reader is transported back in time to 1940’s wartime Japan. The slow revelation of Sugiyama’s relationship with the prisoners, particularly Yun Dong-Ju, a young poet is a joy to follow.

At the heart of The Investigation is the message that a prison doesn’t just have to be a physical thing. Yun Dong-Ju is imprisoned in Fukuoka but sets himself free metaphorically with his poetry and literature. Sugiyama discovers that he has been in his own prison of violence and fear and his discovery of poetry helps to change his outlook on life and set him free. It’s about how music, poetry or prose can open endless possibilities, cause heartbreak, cause our hearts to swell and ultimately show us all a glimpse of true freedom, even if it is just fleetingly.

This is a fictional work based on the real life of Yun Dong-Ju, a Korean poet. I hope to be able to read more about him and discover his poetry in the future.

This was a book I wanted to savour but was so compelling it was at times difficult to put to one side. A fantastic read from start to finish.

 

 

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Guilt – Jonathan Kellerman – Review – Blog Tour

Headline

 

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“When a series of horrifying events occurs in the same upscale LA neighbourhood, homicide detective Milo Sturgis calls on psychologist Alex Delaware  to help link the eerie incidents. But even Alex’s vast experience might not be enough to draw out the distrubing truth of this chilling case.

Alex little imagines the decadent quagmire of unholy truths and grisly sacrifice simmering below the surface of this privileged, sheltered world. And before their work is done, Alex and Milo must confront a deranged mind of such monstrous cunning that even the most depraved madman would shudder.”

4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publishers as part of this blog tour but had already read it previously. My review is my honest opinion of the book.

I have to start out by saying I’m a huge fan of Jonathan Kellerman and his Alex Delaware novels. I’ve read all of his books including the stand alone novels and have his new novel Killer on my to read list. I love to be welcomed back to the world of Alex, Milo and co and look forward to a new book with relish.

Guilt has the components of any Alex Delaware novel, a gruesome murder, intrigue and evil. The story opens with the discovery of the bones of an infant in the garden of a large house in a prosperous district. Alex is called to help Milo investigate. Further remains are found a short time after,  but these remains are more recent. Soon Alex and Milo are on the hunt for the monster who has committed the crimes.

There are the usual twists and turns with this novel, Alex stumbling upon clues and coming across information that leads him to heartbreak from the past and introduces him to the strange world of a Hollywood superstar couple.

This book is what I’ve come to expect from a Delaware mystery. Alex works closely with his friend Milo aided by his long term girlfriend, Robin. Jonathan Kellerman’s style of staccato speech for Alex is evident in Guilt, and seems to be becoming more of a trait.

You don’t have to read the other Delaware novels before this one as each can be read as a stand alone novel. The back story of Alex and his girlfriend Robin, and his developed relationship with Milo that is created in the previous books is explained at some point in each subsequent novel.

I enjoyed Guilt in the same way I always enjoy a Jonathan Kellerman novel and I look forward to reading the latest instalment, Killer.

 

 

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