Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Review of After She's Gone by Sheryl Browne - Five **



Blurb:

He’s killed your child and kidnapped your wife. What would YOU do? 

There’s evil and then there’s Patrick Sullivan. A drug dealer, pimp and murderer, there are no depths to which Patrick would not sink, and Detective Inspector Matthew Adams has found this out in the most devastating way imaginable.


When Patrick’s brother is shot dead in a drug bust gone wrong, the bitter battle between the two men intensifies, and Matthew finds it increasingly difficult to hold the moral high ground. All he wants is to make the pimping scum suffer the way he did … the way Lily did.

But being at war with such a depraved individual means that it’s not just Matthew who’s in danger. Patrick has taken a lot from Matthew, but he hasn’t taken everything – and now he wants everything.








Review:

Oh boy!! I'm exhausted - stayed awake until 2am so I could finish this book - what a ride!

You are thrust into the action from the first paragraph and it just gets faster and faster! Its the story of a cop versus a criminal and the action follows their war or words and actions. 

What makes it different is that you read the story from the aspect of different characters at different times. Which makes for a fascinating insight into the human psyche.

The ending is so tense, I was glad I was in bed - I was exhausted!

Absolutely loved it as I do all books by Sheryl.

I received an ARC from Choc Lit & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.



Friday, 10 February 2017

My turn for the blog tour for Clare Chase's new book A Stranger's House today! 

And you, my lovely readers, have an added bonus - a guest post from Clare herself!!


Review and guest post of A Stranger's House by Clare Chase - Five **


Blurb:

What if you were powerless to protect the person you cared about most? 

When Ruby finds out that her partner has done the unforgivable, she has no option but to move out of their home. With nowhere else to go, a job house-sitting in Cambridge seems like the perfect solution. 

But it’s soon clear the absent owner hurts everyone he gets close to, and Ruby’s faced with the fallout. As violent repercussions unfold, her instinct is to investigate: it’s a matter of self-preservation. And besides, she’s curious…

But Ruby’s new boss, Nate Bastable, has his eye on her and seems determined to put a stop to her sleuthing. Is he simply worried for the welfare of a member of staff, or is there something altogether more complicated – and potentially dangerous – at play? 

From Death by Choc Lit - gripping edge of your seat reads.






Review:

Loved this book! It's not my usual genre but I trust Choc Lit implicitly so gave it a go.

I loved the characters - Ruby and Nate - and the chemistry between them. Damien made a wonderful villain....until he was murdered and then, of course Nate, as a PI and Roby as a nosy person have to look into his death.

The setting in Cambridge is lovely - and makes a nice change from a remote coastal town or a US city! It is a complicated plot, with several loose ends by the final chapter. I hope they are tied up in the next book!

Thoroughly enjoyed it - more please Clare!

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.



And now let's meet Clare - welcome!



Cambridge and Crime – the perfect match

Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, Ann!

A Stranger’s House is just out in paperback, and as it’s my first mystery set in Cambridge, and the second,One Dark Lie, has just been released as an eBook, I thought I’d write about why I think the city is such a great setting for crime fiction.

Distinct boundaries and plenty of connectivity
I’d categorise my books as classic (albeit contemporary) mysteries,and for this type of crime novel a relatively close-knit, interwoven community works well. Cambridge is perfect in this way: it makes for a lively, colourful backdrop, as you’d expect from a city, but it’s also quite a small place, so establishing unexpected connections between characters is believable. And it has certain structures that reinforce this.
Cambridge’s University is just one example. It employs a large number of residents and so there are all sorts of links between people that you might not anticipate. Jobs range from college gardeners and housekeeping staff to media-friendly professors in charge of multi-million pound research grants. These networks mean secrets and gossip can travel fast and in unexpected directions!
Cambridge’s housing stock contributes to this interconnectedness too. The vast majority of the city’s streets are compact, with lots of Victorian terraces, which means you’re very close to your neighbours.It’s not uncommon for you to know each other’s business, whether you want to or not! The older houses’ walls are only one brick thick, so raised voices travel, and people often have a right of way through neighbouring gardens too, so they can wheel their bins and bikes onto the street. If I want one of my characters to witness something untoward, it’s easy to work that in.

Plenty to write about
It’s hard to overlook the fact that Cambridge is full of contrasts in terms of wealth and circumstance, and that’s just one dynamic that can lead to conflict and drive a plot.
The city is home to what’s become known as Silicon Fen, a hotspot of hugely successful high-tech businesses. And the University is also wealthy. According to Wikipedia it had an endowment of £5.89 billion in 2014, and given that it’s over 800 years old, you can imagine how ingrained its presence is here, and how unbreakable some of its traditions seem to be. It makes a massive and valuable contribution to the economy and people’s wellbeing through its research and spin-out companies, but there’s no doubt it engenders jealousy and resentment in some quarters too.
At the other end of the scale, it’s common to see down and outs and drug dealers on the city’s commons and you become very conscious of the vastly different outcomes people can have in life for all sorts of reasons, frequently beyond their control. Because Cambridge is only the size of a market town, these inequalities can be quite striking, and you get people rubbing shoulders who wouldn’t normally cross paths.
The city is also a place where the stakes are often high. (We’re back to those multi-million pound businesses and high-flying professors again.) And where people have a lot to lose, there’s potential to develop a crime plot. What might someone do to protect their standing or their fortune?

An interesting backdrop
I find Cambridge very beautiful – from the architecture of its colleges to the River Cam with its weeping willows. There’s also something charming about the cattle that graze the city’s commons, right in the centre of town. It’s the sort of environment that provides a stark contrast to an unforgivable act in a crime novel.
I find it a nostalgic place too. Around a fifth of the term-time population is made up of students, which means there’s a higher than average proportion of young people here. I’m constantly reminded of the old days and time passing, since I’m quite a lot more grown-up than they are!
And then there’s the local colour. Cambridge’s streets are packed full of galleries, restaurants and coffee shops, which are fun to depict, and,from a plotting point of view, make chance encounters believable. It’s also very international. You get scholars and tourists travelling to the city from all over the world, with the added interest and variety that brings.
But when I want to introduce a creepy note, there are plenty of isolated spaces! The commons bordering the river can feel very lonely after dark, as do the meadows going out of town – all useful for mystery fiction.
Personal knowledge
I’ve lived in Cambridge for over twenty years and used to work at the University, which has definitely helped me with the content of my books. I’ve also lodged everywhere from a palatial house in upmarket Newnham to impressively grotty student digs, with mildew on the walls. At the time I didn’t manage to feel kindly towards the slugs that shared my living space, but now I can see it was all grist to the mill!
So that’s a flavour of the sort of things I pick up on in my Cambridge mysteries. I really hope readers get as much out of the setting as I do.

A Stranger’s House by Clare Chase is now available to purchase in paperback. Click here for buying options: http://www.choc-lit.com/dd-product/a-strangers-house/


About the author:

Clare Chase writes women sleuth mysteries set in London and Cambridge. She fell in love with the capital as a student, living in the rather cushy surroundings of Hampstead in what was then a campus college of London University.
After graduating in English Literature, she moved to Cambridge and has lived there ever since. She’s fascinated by the city’s contrasts and contradictions, which feed into her writing. She’s worked in diverse settings – from the 800-year-old University to one of the local prisons – and lived everywhere from the house of a Lord to a slug-infested flat. The terrace she now occupies presents a good happy medium.
As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books.
She lives with her husband and teenage children, and currently works at the Royal Society of Chemistry.




Thursday, 26 January 2017

Review of New York, Actually by Sarah Morgan - 5**


Blurb:

Meet Molly
New York’s most famous agony aunt, she considers herself an expert at relationships…as long as they’re other people’s. The only love of her life is her Dalmatian, Valentine.
Meet Daniel
A cynical divorce lawyer, he’s hardwired to think relationships are a bad idea. If you don’t get involved, no-one can get hurt. But then he finds himself borrowing a dog to meet the gorgeous woman he sees running in Central Park every morning…
Molly and Daniel think they know everything there is to know about relationships…until they meet each other that is…





Review:

What's not to love? NYC, gorgeous dogs, great characters and truths and deceptions.

I absolutely adored this book and read it in two sittings! I've enjoyed Sarah's New York series and this is the first of a spin-off series focussing on the dog walking business and the people who run it. Nice references to the previous books, but this is easily read as a stand alone.

I really enjoyed the way that Daniel and Molly reacted to bad news/discoveries. They reacted immediately but then went away and thought about it and changed their tunes. All too often in romance books the lead characters fall out and then simmer with anger for weeks/months/years. Human nature usually reconsiders after examining the facts in a sensible way and after talking to others.

What was particularly charming was the way Molly's defences dropped without her realising. When all her friends turned up to support her I was crying!

Can't wait for the next one - and since we've had hints regarding Fliss & Seth, I'm hoping it covers their relationship!!

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.



Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Review of The Girl on the Beach by Morton S Gray - Five **


Blurb:

Who is Harry Dixon?

When Ellie Golden meets Harry Dixon, she can’t help but feel she recognises him from somewhere. But when she finally realises who he is, she can’t believe it – because the man she met on the beach all those years before wasn’t called Harry Dixon. And, what’s more, that man is dead.

For a woman trying to outrun her troubled past and protect her son, Harry’s presence is deeply unsettling – and even more disconcerting than coming face to face with a dead man, is the fact that Harry seems to have no recollection of ever having met Ellie before. At least that’s what he says …

But perhaps Harry isn’t the person Ellie should be worried about. Because there’s a far more dangerous figure from the past lurking just outside of the new life she has built for herself, biding his time, just waiting to strike.





Review:

Morton keeps us guessing all the way through! Fabulous characters that I immediately liked and rooted for. Harry is a very complex character and Ellie wonders if she can trust him in view of his denial of their first encounter years before.

Ellie has her own problems as her ex husband is released from prison and the tension mounts. Her son is a fabulous character and so well written.

I really enjoyed the educational and mentoring side to the story. Very positive and made a lovely contrast to the darker main plot. 

I look forward to more from Morton :)

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.



Saturday, 21 January 2017

And it's finally my turn for the Blog Tour for Jules Wake's amazing new book "From Rome with Love". 

A HUGE 5** and only 99p!!!






Blurb:

If you can’t stand the heat…
Rome is the city of love and seduction, right? Not if you find yourself staying in a beautiful apartment with your childhood-friend-turned-arch-enemy, Will Ryan…no matter how hot he is!
Romance is the last thing on Lisa’s mind. She’s got more important things to focus on, like hunting down her estranged father. Except when her search falls at the first hurdle, Will doesn’t just help her get back on track, he also shares the romantic sights – and exquisite tastes – of the Eternal City, and Lisa starts to wonder if it’s not just Rome seducing her.
Only, as Lisa and Will dig into the past, neither of them is prepared for the long-buried secrets they reveal. Secrets that will turn both their world’s upside down …






Review:

I have been waiting and waiting for Will & Lisa's story and I was ecstatic to receive an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

And I was in no way disappointed! Jules describes the love/hate relationship perfectly and the sexual tension rises steadily through the book. I loved Nan and her interfering ways and Giovanni and his boyish enthusiasm for everything!

The descriptions of Rome were magical and I was so glad to see my favourite building, The Pantheon, included. But these were nothing to the descriptions of the food! My mouth watered on and off the whole way through and made me want to try loads of Italian dishes! Who knew that Balsamic Vinegar had so many flavours.

Thank you Jules, for a wonderfully romantic travelogue!



Thursday, 19 January 2017

My turn for the Blog Tour for Antonia Hayes' new book "Relativity" - Four **




Blurb:

Ethan is an exceptionally gifted young boy, obsessed with physics and astronomy.
His single mother Claire is fiercely protective of her brilliant, vulnerable son. But she can't shield him forever from learning the truth about what happened to him when he was a baby; why Mark had to leave them all those years ago.
Now age twelve, Ethan is increasingly curious about his past, especially his father's absence in his life. When he intercepts a letter to Claire from Mark, he opens a lifetime of feelings that, like gravity, will pull the three together again.
Relativity is a tender and triumphant story about unbreakable bonds, irreversible acts, and testing the limits of love and forgiveness.





Review:


This was quite different to anything I have read before. I do like a book that informs me as well as entertains and this certainly fits the bill!

The story is about Ethan, a young boy with a fascination for the stars and physics, his mum and dad. I really enjoyed the way Antonia wove the emotions around the science - it made for an interesting read.

I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon UK - £8.99 for paperback, £5.99 for Kindle





Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Very privileged to be part of TA Williams' Blog Tour for his new book "Chasing Shadows"

A full 5**!!

Blurb:

The Present Day: Left blind and without her family, Amy feels she needs to get away. On a trip along the Camino, she is accompanied by the mysterious and troubled Luke. Having been set up to help Amy by a mutual friend, Luke finds he is also running from his past…
1314: A Templar Knight, Luc, is also running. He meets the wife of a former comrade, now blinded in a terrifying attack: Aimee. Taking her under his wing, they must journey together through a dangerous world.
As they travel through the stunning scenery of Northern Spain, this couple, so very like Luke and Amy, emerge from the shadows of time carrying a treasure of inestimable value.
Chasing Shadows is an enchanting novel about the search for happiness, fulfilment… and love.




Review:

I always enjoy Trevor's books and this is a new genre for him so I was looking forward to reading it. Time slip is one of my favourite genres and this one certainly didn't disappoint.

We follow the stories of Amy & Luke in 2016 and Aimee and Luc in 1314. Both pairs are on a Pilgrimage on the Camino and their stories interlink as the book progresses. Modern day Amy has been blinded in a dreadful accident and Luke has emotional baggage. In 1314 Aimee has been blinded in a bandit attack and Luc is a fleeing Templar Knight.

As both girls are blind, Trevor treats us to wonderful descriptions of the scenery and the food! The contrasts between the 2 journeys could not be more marked and I found myself totally involved in both plots. 

A lovely read and thank you to Canelo and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.




Saturday, 14 January 2017

My turn for the Blog Tour for the amazing book, The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick -
Five **


Displaying The Phantom Tree Blog Tour Banner Jan 1.jpg






Blurb:


“My name is Mary Seymour and I am the daughter of one queen and the niece of another.”
Browsing antiques shops in Wiltshire, Alison Bannister stumbles across a delicate old portrait – supposedly of Anne Boleyn. Except Alison knows better… The woman is Mary Seymour, the daughter of Katherine Parr who was taken to Wolf Hall in 1557 as an unwanted orphan and presumed dead after going missing as a child.
The painting is more than just a beautiful object from Alison’s past – it holds the key to her future, unlocking the mystery surrounding Mary’s disappearance, and the enigma of Alison’s son.
But Alison’s quest soon takes a dark and foreboding turn, as a meeting place called the Phantom Tree harbours secrets in its shadows…





Review: 

I love a good time slip book and this is one of the best. It differs from the normal ones in that Alison is actually from the 16th Century and is trapped in the 21st Century. It really has everything - history, intrigue, romance and really, really believable characters.

The historical detail is fascinating - I could almost smell the tanneries myself! The comings and goings of the Seymour family was so well described. The disgrace after Thomas and his brother are executed for treason and the fall out from that are explained well.

I felt so sorry for Alison and her son, Arthur. Life was so different 5 centuries ago and she really suffered.

Highly recommended!!

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
 









Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Review of The Thief's Daughter by Victoria Cornwall - Four **


Blurb:

Hide from the thief-taker, for if he finds you, he will take you away …
Eighteenth-century Cornwall is crippled by debt and poverty, while the gibbet casts a shadow of fear over the land. Yet, when night falls, free traders swarm onto the beaches and smuggling prospers.

Terrified by a thief-taker’s warning as a child, Jenna has resolved to be good. When her brother, Silas, asks for her help to pay his creditors, Jenna feels unable to refuse and finds herself entering the dangerous world of the smuggling trade.

Jack Penhale hunts down the smuggling gangs in revenge for his father’s death. Drawn to Jenna at a hiring fayre, they discover their lives are entangled. But as Jenna struggles to decide where her allegiances lie, the worlds of justice and crime collide, leading to danger and heartache for all concerned …







Review:

What a wonderful debut novel from Victoria Cornwall! I'm not usually an historic romance fan but I was swept up in the story and the beautiful scenery descriptions.

Jenna and Jack's relationship has highs, lows and strong arguments! I love a relationship that isn't black and white and this one is very colourful! I also enjoyed Jenna's attempt to escape her past and not be painted with the same brush as her family.

As my readers know, I am a great fan of Choc Lit and this is yet another book worthy of them. I look forward to Victoria's next book.

I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review.





Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Review of One Dark Lie by Clare Chase - 5**


Blurb:

The truth can hurt, and sometimes it leads to murder …

After becoming embroiled in a murder investigation, Nate Bastable and Ruby Fawcett have decided to opt for the quiet life. But crime has a habit of following them around.

When her work dries up, Ruby finds herself accepting a job researching and writing about Diana Patrick-John, a colourful and enigmatic Cambridge academic. Simple enough. But then there’s the small fact that Diana was found dead in suspicious circumstances in her home – the very place where Ruby has now been invited to stay.

As she begins to uncover Diana’s secret life, Ruby’s sleuthing instinct kicks in, leaving her open to danger and retribution. But can she rely on Nate to support her? Especially when his behaviour has become increasingly distant and strange, almost as though he had something to hide …

From Death by Choc Lit – gripping edge of your seat reads.







Review:

This is the 3rd book in the London & Cambridge Mysteries series. It follows on from A Stranger's House (which is also brilliant) but can be read as a standalone. 

Ruby takes a job writing about Diana, a member of the Cambridge elite. Diana's brother asks her to do it and sets some very stringent guidelines. However, Ruby being Ruby, follows her nose into the mystery of Diana's suspicious death.

In the meantime, Nate is closing in on the gangster whom he suspects killed his sister - but he is still working out whether it was him or his sister that was the target. 

I LOVE Clare's books! And this one was just as good as the others. She keeps you guessing right to the end and a couple of red herrings in this one really confused me - in a good way!

The characters are believable and I love Ruby's dogged determination. The plot is complicated enough to keep your interest all the way through and the flashes of humour certainly help to relieve the tension.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.