Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Double Indemnity - James M. Cain



A true crime masterpiece, and highly acclaimed 1940s movie
DOUBLE INDEMNITY is the classic tale of an evil woman motivated by greed who corrupts a weak man motivated by lust.
Walter Huff is an insurance investigator like any other until the day he meets the beautiful and dangerous Phyllis Nirdlinger and falls under her spell. Together they plot to kill her husband and split the insurance. It'll be the perfect murder . . .

What did I think?

Another quick read out of my classic film pack - I actually enjoyed this more than The Postman Always Rings Twice.  It was easy to read and drew me in quite quickly as it jumped straight into the meeting with the femme fatale, Mrs. Nirdlinger.

For a thin book it sure packs a lot of punch!  It became apparent quite quickly that all was not as it appeared and I found myself exclaiming, "oh Walter, you silly man, you have been played."

It was so detailed how the scene was set and alibis were created that I can't see what enhancement could be made in the movie. Although I will be looking out for the film starring Barbara Stanwyck to see if, as suspected, the book is better than the film.

My rating:

F**k This Journal: Betterness Through Bitterness - Dale Shaw


Many journals exist to encourage and provoke inspirational activity in the artistically and creatively inclined. But what is out there for those paralysed with bitterness and an overwhelming desire to push people over?
F**k This Journal faecally pollutes all over the notion of positive creative encouragement and instead uses anger and resentment as the pointy stick to goad their inner artistic pursuits.
With 'testimonials' from famous creative types through history, inspiring instructions to spur your bitter creative core and lots of blank space to exhort your artistic spirit and save costs, F**k This Journalliberally takes the wee out of twee inspiration journals and forges its own path into the brooding heart of darkness that is 'Cre-hate-tivity'.

With added fun!


What did I think?

I had high hopes for this - I have a good sense of humour so I did have a few laughs but not as many as I expected.  I liked the journal style of the book and the fun illustrations throughout.  I loved the "I wonder what your pet is thinking?" page along with the "Think outside the box, push the envelope" page.  My favourite has to be the star that I will share with you - because next time somebody says "you're a star" don't take it as a compliment, take it as the insult it was clearly intended to be!  I shared this quote with my cousin, John-Paul, and I'm proud to say that I made him laugh!  He is the king of humour and I've never been able to tell him a joke or share a pun he hasn't heard before...until now!


It was funny that all the hate is directed towards Carol, the ex-wife, and her new partner the car boot salesman!  A super-quick read as it is mainly hand-drawn illustrations but, whilst reading it, I embraced the "betterness through bitterness" idea, sharpened my pencils in the face of  cre-hate-ivity, and vowed never to leave the house - outside is full of people!!

A great gift book for the difficult to buy for and anyone with a dark sense of humour, although not as funny as I expected - perhaps more my style of humour rather than the book's fault.

I received this book from the publisher, Headline, via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:




Buy from Amazon

The Widow - Fiona Barton



We've all seen him: the man - the monster - staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.

But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?

Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming. 

Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.

But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.

Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

What did I think?

This must be one of the most highly anticipated books of 2016 and I'm really grateful to Ben Willis from Transworld for sending me an early review copy.  The hype is totally correct; once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down - if I hadn't needed to sleep I would definitely have read it in one sitting!

I loved the layout of the book with each chapter being told from the perspective of the widow, the reporter, the detective, the mother or the husband.  It gave a brilliant investigative feel to the story and I felt like I was sitting on the jury myself.

I felt so sorry for Jean, she doesn't even realise that she is an abused wife.  Glen has taken all her self esteem and made sure that her whole world revolves around him.  Only he hasn't quite managed to take all of her dreams...she has a secret dream that she has hidden from him but that in turn becomes a piece of evidence in the case against Glen.

Whilst there are no massive shocks or surprises, this book had me clamouring for more as each chapter ended.  I felt like I was gathering evidence and trying to prove a cast-iron case against Glen.  The psychological effect Glen's mental abuse had on Jean was fascinating and made me wonder how many women like Jean are out there.  Some of her actions were quite shocking and completely unexpected, but it's almost like she had to keep her emotions bottled up with Glen and now she's free she's like a stick of unexploded dynamite.

I definitely recommend reading this book; it is written with such precision that it is not surprising to learn that Fiona Barton is an award winning reporter.  I feel like she stripped the case down to its bare bones and we were all present for the autopsy.  I think that is the magic of this book - the story is told from every single aspect so that no stone is left unturned as we uncover the truth about what really happened to little Bella and the effect that this devastating event had on all concerned.

I received this book from the publisher, Transworld, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:





Buy it from Amazon

Miss Fortune - Albina Hume


"Who would think that my inability to pronounce the letter R would turn my life upside down and lead me from Ukraine to South Africa?"

Albina Hume is often asked the same question - how did she meet her South African husband John, a property developer and a rhino breeder, who is 36 years her senior? She has always kept her response simple. Until now ...

Her childhood fear that no one in Ukraine would want to marry a 'crow' at first resulted in various misfortunes, from failing dreams and relationships to even ending up in a police cell for 51 days, until she finally learned to focus on her dreams, not her fears.

Now, Albina and John Hume have dedicated their lives to preventing the South African rhino population from becoming extinct by breeding rhinos for future generations. In the past six years, they have bred over 500 white rhinos, with Albina emerging as a pro-rhino activist, advocating for an end to the war on trade in rhino horn that has only resulted in illegal trade and killing of rhinos and also people in Africa. Albina calls for legalising trade in horn - a renewable product - to help create harmony between African people and their natural heritage.

What did I think?

This is a very quick read about the life of Albina Hume, and what a life it is!  Despite everything that she has gone through, you can feel that Albina did it all with a smile on her face as she refused to give up her dreams of finding a husband.  

I found that Albina's naivety caused her to be very unlucky - from taking lifts from the wrong man to illegally entering and working in Greece.  Although it is the nature of Albina not to think of these things as bad luck but as experiences that she amazingly had the strength to write about.

I admit that the writing is a little basic but it is good enough to forget that English is not Albina's first language.  To write a book in a foreign language is another amazing achievement!  It certainly casts a different light on girls working in the entertainment industry - think Bada Bing in the Sopranos!  These girls put their trust in people who abuse such trust without batting an eyelid.  They are trying to make a better life for themselves by saving what little pennies they make whilst the sleazy, greedy club owners play with them like a cat with a cage full of mice.

A book that inspires you to never give up on your dreams despite the troubles that life throws at you.  Albina achieved her happy ending, and with her as inspiration we should never be afraid to dream.

I received this e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:





Sleep Peacefully - NC Marshall




Nat and Jess were the closest of sisters and told each other everything...

When Jess dies in a sudden and tragic accident, Nat is left heartbroken by her sister’s untimely death. Haunted by a recurring dream, Nat suffers from endless restless nights. The dream shows vivid images of the events leading up to Jess’s final moments, on the night she passed away.

As the dreams start to progress, it soon becomes apparent that Jess’s death was more than just an accident and Nat is forced to delve into her sister’s past. She focus’s on a year Jess spent travelling in Australia when she was younger, turning her attention to the places she visited and the people that she met there.

Nat soon discovers that Jess held a secret, which she had kept hidden until the day she died. Could this secret be linked to her death? 

As the past unravels and Nat is lead closer to the truth, she starts to wonder how many other secrets Jess had kept from her, and questions if she ever really knew her sister at all...

What did I think?

This is a phenomenal debut from NC Marshall that had me gripped from start to finish.  I had chosen this book as my lunchtime read but after about a third of the way in, it became my morning, noon and night read.  As Nat digs into Jess's life and Jess's secrets are uncovered I absolutely refused to take my eyes off this book.  It's so beautifully written that it's hard to believe it's a debut novel and for that I must applaud the author!

It was a fascinating analysis of the relationship between two sisters that continued beyond the grave.  Nat thought she knew everything about Jess; they were close, they confided in each other but when Nat investigates Jess's death she questions whether she actually knew her sister at all.

There are certainly more gasp out loud moments in this book than I ever imagined.  From family secrets being revealed to ghostly manifestations, this book had me holding my breath on the edge of my seat with my heart beating out of my chest.  I expected a family story of love and loss but there's a very clever thriller bubbling under the surface of this book that successfully managed to surprise me, as I was pointing my finger at completely the wrong person!  I'm not going to reveal any secrets buried within the wonderful pages of this book, but I am confident that you won't be disappointed when you read it for yourself.

With a twist that I didn't see coming at all, I heartily recommend this book and will be looking forward to more books from NC Marshall.

I received this e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review.


My rating:




Buy it from Amazon

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Song at Dawn (The Troubadours Quartet Book 1) - Jean Gill




Winner of the Global Ebook Award for Best Historical Fiction

1150: Provence

On the run from abuse, Estela wakes in a ditch with only her lute, her amazing voice, and a dagger hidden in her underskirt. Her talent finds a patron in Aliénor of Aquitaine and more than a music tutor in the Queen's finest troubadour and Commander of the Guard, Dragonetz los Pros.

Weary of war, Dragonetz uses Jewish money and Moorish expertise to build that most modern of inventions, a papermill, arousing the wrath of the Church. Their enemies gather, ready to light the political and religious powder-keg of medieval Narbonne.

Set in the period following the Second Crusade, Jean Gill's spellbinding romantic thrillers evoke medieval France with breathtaking accuracy. The characters leap off the page and include amazing women like Eleanor of Aquitaine and Ermengarda of Narbonne, who shaped history in battles and in bedchambers.

What did I think?


This is the first book in The Troubadours Quartet series and it certainly won't be my last - I absolutely loved it.  I do love historical fiction but I've never read anything set in the medieval period; I feel like I've learned so much along the way as all I ever knew of Eleanor of Aquitaine was that she was Richard the Lionheart's mother.  So this book was a real treat for me.

It's hard to get to grips with the medieval French names at first but it's surprising how familiar they become so quickly.  The story revolves around three very strong female characters - Estela, Aliénor and Ermengarda.  Estela is a mysterious young girl who Aliénor finds in a ditch by the roadside.  Aliénor includes Estela in her entourage as they travel to Narbonne.  Aliénor is the Queen of France and very dissatisfied with her husband, King Louis VII.  Ermengarda is the vivacious Vicomtesse of Narbonne, in whose colourful court this story is set.  Dragonetz is the man who links them as a knight, a troubadour and a lover.

There is so much going on in this fabulous book that I was so disappointed when it ended - there are Vikings, highland-style games, the first production of paper, with a sprinkling of treachery and jealousy in the court.  It's like Game of Thrones but with real places and real people from history - I felt like I was actually having a magical glimpse into the past.  I'm not going to spoil any of the story but I just have to mention an absolutely amazing scene when Estela is stuck in the bathtub - I applauded her resourcefulness although I found I was gripping my Nook a bit too tightly until she was safely out of the bathroom.

I enjoyed reading about Dragonetz and the moor, Al-Hisba.  I couldn't help but liken Al-Hisba to Morgan Freeman's character, Azeem, in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.  It must be so difficult for Al-Hisba being so far from home but bonds with Estela and Dragonetz through their music.  Dragonetz bought Al-Hisba but, in the style of Robin Hood and Azeem, treats him as a friend and equal.  There are moments in the book when I wondered whether Dragonetz was right to trust Al-Hisba and the way that this question is answered is simply magnificent.  

Jean Gill's storytelling had me engrossed from start to finish with a very cleverly timed ending that ensured the next book in the series is an absolute must read.

I received this e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:




Buy it from Amazon

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Holy Island - LJ Ross



Detective Chief Inspector Ryan retreats to Holy Island seeking sanctuary when he is forced to take sabbatical leave from his duties as a homicide detective. A few days before Christmas, his peace is shattered and he is thrust back into the murky world of murder when a young woman is found dead amongst the ancient ruins of the nearby Priory. 

When former local girl Dr Anna Taylor arrives back on the island as a police consultant, old memories swim to the surface making her confront her difficult past. She and Ryan struggle to work together to hunt a killer who hides in plain sight, while pagan ritual and small-town politics muddy the waters of their investigation. 

Murder and mystery are peppered with a sprinkling of romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set on the spectacular Northumbrian island of Lindisfarne, cut off from the English mainland by a tidal causeway. 


What did I think?

There was no leading in gently or scene setting in this book, it just launched straight into the murder scene and I wondered if such a fast pace could be maintained.  The answer: oh yes the fast pace can be maintained and unbelievably increased.  I felt like my eyes were competing for an olympic sport as they raced across the pages and the hours ticked by on the clock with my brain crying for just one more chapter!

The book starts with the murder of Lucy Mathieson and the discovery of her body at the Lindisfarne Priory.  We are then introduced to DCI Ryan who is recuperating on Holy Island following a traumatic case, which we hear more of at the end.  He takes on Lucy's murder case with the help of pagan expert Anna Taylor, who grew up on Holy Island.  Anna's relationship with her sister was a great story in itself - the air practically fizzed and crackled when they were in the same room together and I wondered what had passed between them.  All is revealed in its own time - don't think for a moment it is dragged out, there is so much going on in this book that Anna and Megan's story is a nice thread to keep hold of and to keep going back to when the other murders are discovered.  Yes - there are more murders and my suspicious mind was in its element as I found myself questioning every one of the villagers.

Rather predictably, Ryan and Anna start a relationship but don't despair as this is the only predictable element in the book.  I was even a little bit in love with Ryan myself - he's rugged, strong, sensitive and a typical knight in shining armour - what's not to love?  Anna's a really interesting character too, she has started a new life in Durham and found it hard to return to Holy Island but saw it as an opportunity to make amends with her sister, Megan.  It doesn't quite go as well as Anna hoped with Megan - there's a lot of deep rooted jealousy in their relationship and to find out what happens between them, you will just have to read the book!

There are some amazing twists in this book and I absolutely loved how it all came together at the end.  Things that I didn't even think were related were explained as everything slotted into place like a 1000 piece jigsaw.  Be aware that once you get to about two thirds into this book, you will not be able to put it down!

I am lucky to live near Holy Island so I know the area quite well but for those readers unfamiliar with the region it was described with such beauty that I felt immeasurably proud to be a resident of the area.  Sometimes we are guilty of not appreciating what is on our own doorstep, so thank you to the author for reminding me of this.

This was an absolutely astounding debut.  The writing was sublime, the characters so vivid and the beautiful Northumbrian coast described with a passion that only a true Northerner can conjure.  I can't wait to read the next instalment from DCI Ryan located at my all-time favourite North East place, Sycamore Gap at Hadrian's Wall.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.


My rating:




Buy it from Amazon

Bride Without a Groom - Amy Lynch


Rebecca has chosen the most luscious, five tiered, wedding cake. The engagement ring that she has selected is celebrity inspired. The wedding singer is on speed dial. He doesn't usually do Michael Bolton, but as it’s for a first dance he’ll make an exception. Father Maguire is checking dates for the parish church as we speak. The deposit on the white sand honeymoon is paid for in full on Barry’s card. She has fallen for an ivory lace couture gown that is to die for. The down payment may require her to sell a left kidney, but it will be worth it. Isn't that why you have two?

There’s one teeny tiny problem. It’s nothing, really. No need to panic! It’s just that Barry has yet to propose. Says he’s not ready! He can be a bit of a kill joy that way. It’s time to face the harsh reality – Rebecca is a bride without a groom!

What did I think?

What an absolutely laugh-out-loud, light-hearted read - chock full of trademark Irish humour and an amazing debut from Amy Lynch. This is a book to lose yourself in and not take too seriously as I can see that Rebecca could annoy a lot of people, but I thought she was hilarious.  This book would make a great film!

Rebecca and Barry seem completely mis-matched but that is the beauty of their relationship as their individual traits complete one (slightly crazy) whole.  Rebecca reminds me a bit of Elle, Reese Witherspoon's character, in Legally Blonde - she is so pink and bubbly and her heart is in the right place, even though her hand is in Barry's wallet.  Rebecca is completely harmless but so superficial and selfish - as highlighted by Barry's business trip when she has no idea where he has gone, the location changes whenever she mentions it and I never got tired of it - I laughed every time!

It did sometimes wonder whether Rebecca really loved Barry or just wanted to be a bride.  I think perhaps she got there in the end when she finally showed that she cared more about her relationship than her appearance.

All in all, this book was real good fun and I felt an important message came across - weddings can be elaborate and expensive but it's the marriage that's important.  I'm really looking forward to more books by Amy Lynch.

I picked this up from Amazon when it was on promotion for free.

My rating:




Buy it from Amazon

Friday, 18 September 2015

BLOG TOUR: Orkney Twilight - Clare Carson

I am thrilled to be able to share a guest post from Clare Carson followed by my review of the book as part of the Orkney Twilight blog tour.  Thank you to Emily Zinkin from Head of Zeus for inviting me to participate and don't forget to check out the rest of the blog tour here, after you've read this post of course ;-)


Now without further ado, here's the guest post from Clare Carson sharing her fascinating inspiration for Orkney Twilight.

*****

Memories and secrets – the inspiration for Orkney Twilight

My father died in 1999. My shifting memories of him were one of the main sources of inspiration for Orkney Twilight. When I was a child in the seventies, my dad worked for a secret police unit in London. He called them the ‘Hairies,’ because they all had long hair and beards. He wore dirty jeans, a donkey jacket and drove a grubby Bedford van. He looked out of place in the conservative London suburbs where we lived. We – his family – knew he was involved in some sort of surveillance work, but we were instructed not to talk about his job.
We tried to deal with his shadowy life by laughing about it. There was an absurdity to his long-haired disguise and cloak and dagger behaviour. There were also times when we were scared. He was away for long periods, and we didn't know where he was or when he would be back. We had no name or number to call. The thin wall of secrecy was our only protection.
In 2002, two years after my father’s death, a TV documentary ‘True Spies,’ revealed his name and some of the details of his work. I was shocked to hear his name spoken without warning and to have the protection of secrecy removed. I learned that during the seventies he had been part of an undercover unit that adopted fake identities and infiltrated political organisations thought to pose threats of disorder and violence. Only a handful of people knew of the unit’s existence. It was unsettling to be informed by the BBC that he was a spy, his ghost called up in the corner of my front room.
After the shock, there was a small liberation. If a journalist could talk about my dad, why shouldn't I? I started resifting my memories; the secrecy, storytelling, absurdities and edgy cop banter that were, for me, the essence of my father’s undercover world. I began writing fiction, something I hadn't done since I was a teenager. That sense of shock is at the heart of Orkney Twilight, which is about the discovery of other people’s secrets. But it’s also the shock of unearthing the ‘unknown knowns’ – and realising that our own memories can store secrets we didn't know we had.  

*****
So now that we have heard about the inspiration for the book, what did I think of it?  Read on for my review....


All families have secrets. 
But some have more secrets than others.

Jim is a brilliant raconteur whose stories get taller with each glass of whisky. His daughter Sam thinks it's time she found out the truth about her dad.
On holiday in Orkney, Sam spies on Jim as he travels across the island. What has he hidden in the abandoned watchtower? Who is he meeting in the stone circle at dusk? And why is he suddenly obsessed with Norse myths?
As Sam is drawn into Jim's shadowy world, she begins to realise that pursuing the truth is not as simple as it seems...
Set against the harsh beauty of the remote Scottish islands of Orkney, inspired by the author's own childhood, this is a gripping first novel from an astonishing new talent.

What did I think?

Having read the inspiration for Orkney Twilight straight after finishing the book, I realised just what a personal account this was.  Clare Carson has poured her heart and soul into these pages and I could almost feel her inner struggle as she has gone from not being able to talk about her Dad's job to publishing it in a book for the whole world to read.  I actually felt like I was peeping into Clare's own teenage diary as I read about Sam spying on Jim.

This book is so dark and atmospheric, despite being set at the peak of the summer solstice when Orkney has continual daylight.  The frequent references to Norse mythology kept me intrigued as the scene was being set and it proves how well researched this book was - I was not aware of Orkney's Viking history before reading this book, but it's something about which I am keen to read more about.

I could almost describe this as a book of two halves - the snooping and spying in Orkney was all very undercover and didn't get my heart racing but without doubt I was lulled into a false sense of security.  On their return to London, the pace picked up to a million miles an hour and I felt like I had been thrust into a John le Carré spy thriller.  Sam being chased across London was brilliant, I don't think I paused for breath and I was fearing the worst when the mysterious biker guy reappeared.  Sam has no idea who she can trust which gives us readers such a conundrum as we try to work it out for ourselves.

I was fascinated with Sam and Jim's relationship.  How can she get close to him when she doesn't know who he is?  It is clear that Sam loved her father and there are moments when we see how much they love each other, but all of this is called into question when Sam uncovers Jim's secret life and alternative identity.  I loved how Sam accepted Jim's other life and continued his mission into the Greenwich foot tunnel - the damp isolation added to the dark atmosphere of the book.

This was a really heartfelt impressive debut - I'm sure we'll be reading lots more from Clare Carson in the future.

I received this book from the publisher, Head of Zeus, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:




Buy it from Amazon

Check out the rest of the blog tour here.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

The Truth According to Us - Annie Barrows


'I can't stand this poky little town any more. How can I bear it for three more months? Today alone has lasted years...'
Disinherited by her father, the debutante Miss Layla Beck is forced to spend the hot summer of 1938 in Macedonia, West Virginia, and is tasked with recording the small town's history. She arrives with one goal: to get out as quickly as possible.
Macedonia's history seems simple enough - brief and uneventful. Then Layla meets the Romeyns: Jottie, Willa, Felix, Emmett, a family at once entertaining, eccentric, seductive, and inextricably bound up in Macedonia's biggest secret.
It's a secret all the townsfolk have a stake in, and as Layla delves into town legend, hidden truths emerge that reveal an altogether different history, one that has left hearts and lives broken.
Layla soon realises that some secrets should stay hidden forever.

What did I think?
I had high hopes for this book as I had previously enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society that Annie Barrows co-wrote.  This has a similar feel to it with the inclusion of the letters that Layla sends and receives, but I'm sorry to say I didn't enjoy it half as much and found it quite hard-going at the start.  I also struggled with the half finished sentences when we were party to excerpts of the History of Macedonia that Layla was writing.

Macedonia is a typical small town in the deep South of America - if the author hadn't set the year as 1938, I would have guessed at around 1900 as the residents seemed so Victorian in thoughts and actions.  The heat of the area came pouring out of every page and I was thankful when Willa stuck her head in the fridge to cool down!

The three main women in the book are very strong characters; Willa is an astute young girl who doesn't miss a trick; Layla is a naive young lady who has been sheltered by her well to do family but is now living in the real world and surprisingly gets used to it; and Jottie is Willa's Aunt who I desperately wished would get a happy ending, whether she does or not is for you to find out.

Jottie's brother and Willa's Dad, Felix, is a bit of a cad.  He's so selfish and just looks out for himself, he doesn't care whose heart he tramples on along the way.  He has been quite happy for Jottie to put her life on hold whilst she looks after his two girls and he lives the life of a single man.  He's shown in his true colours at the end!

Had I not read Guernsey, I'm sure I would have enjoyed this book but I was always going to compare the two and unfortunately I found this one wanting.  I wasn't pulled into the history of this small town, yes there was a secret to be unearthed but alas very little else of interest.

I received this e-book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:





Saturday, 12 September 2015

The Postman Always Rings Twice - James M. Cain


The torrid story of Frank Chambers, the amoral drifter, Cora, the sullen and brooding wife, and Nick Papadakis, the amiable but inconvenient husband, has become a classic of its kind, and established Cain as a major novelist with a spare and vital prose style and a bleak vision of America.

What did I think?

I didn't really know what to expect from this book as I have never seen the film, but I did rather enjoy it.  I bought a pack of books that inspired films some time ago and felt it was a good time to read one of them.  It was a very quick read - I read it on a sunny Sunday afternoon in just a few hours.

Frank is definitely a distrustful character.  I felt he was out for himself and despite breaking up Cora's marriage he still wasn't satisfied. I suppose a leopard (or a puma in his case) doesn't change its spots so he would always be inclined to drift, although he is prevented from drifting in the end.  Cora was not innocent by any means.  She sees an opportunity to get out of her loveless marriage and thinks she can change Frank but it ends in tragic consequences for her.  Without doubt I felt sorry for Nick, the husband that Cora and Frank planned to bump off, especially when their first attempt went completely wrong and left Nick with amnesia.

With not a postman in sight within the book, I set off to find the meaning of the book's title.  There are a couple of interpretations of the title but the one I liked best is the reference to Victorian postal deliveries.  The postman would knock once with regular mail but would knock twice if there was a telegram.  As telegrams are usually bearers of bad news, I think this fits in nicely with the storyline.

Next time I spot this film on TV, I'll be sure to take a look.  I do prefer to read the book before watching the film anyway.

My rating:



Sunday, 6 September 2015

Mr Right & Mr Wrong - Grigory Ryzhakov


Having two admirers can be a real headache, especially when a tough agronomy course at Imperial College comes on top of that, not forgetting a part-time job at a florist’s and a mother desperate to marry you off.

Have I mentioned a stalker who keeps sending roses, and a Professor who thinks it’s fine to bury you under an extra pile of academic papers? Arrrgh!

Blake may be cute and charming, but Terrence is no less attractive in his business suits. What is a poor girl to do? Dating both of them is the right thing if you listen to Trish and that’s exactly the way Kurt handles his men.

Party after party, you have to deal with these bouts of guilt mixed with hangovers while mulling over the same dilemma over and over again - Blake or Terrence? Terrence or Blake?

Think, Chloe, think!

Mr Right & Mr Wrong is a wonderfully warm and witty yet thoughtful romantic comedy, from which you will not only pick up tips on the intricacies of London dating, but also discover a few moral and ethical aspects of plant neurobiology. Not so much chick lit as chic lit, offering sophistication alongside Chloe’s amusing complications.

What did I think?

This was such good fun!  I absolutely adored the chapters being named after plants and fruits including their botanical (latin) names.  It was so clever how these plants or fruits were then weaved into the relevant chapter.  It shows how well thought out this book was.

I laughed out loud on so many occasions and felt the need to read excerpts out to whichever lucky person was sitting in the room with me!  Chloe is an instantly likeable character, living the single life and not necessarily looking for love when, like the number 9 bus, two men come along at once.  She can't decide between the two so she dates both of them, and whilst I don't condone this I can understand the confusion on the dating scene.  She's ultimately looking to settle down with someone, she is 22...er...25...er actually 28 after all.  So professional, respectable Terrence seems like a good choice over fun, flirty Blake.  Will Terrence turn out to be Mr. Right or Mr. Wrong?  That's what I was asking myself throughout the book, so I had to keep reading into the early hours to find out!

I really enjoyed the way that Grigory Ryzhakov has written this book.  His humour shines out of every page and I found myself laughing,smiling and cursing dastardly men throughout the book.  I notice on Amazon that this is Girl Scientist Book 1 - so I'll be looking out for book 2.  Hopefully we will hear more of Chloe's escapades and find out if she ended up with Mr. Right after all.

I received this book from the author via a Goodreads Giveaway.

My rating:





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Chance - Peter Dudgeon



A missing convict, a young woman assaulted and killed, an old man murdered in his home. All in different parts of London. With eight million inhabitants, bad things happen to good people all the time.

Only nine-year-old Cassie Janus knows there’s a connection, because she is the killer … in her nightmares at least. 


Cassie has the rare ability to unearth the darkest emotions of others. She sees a past they would rather keep hidden and a future too horrific to comprehend. 

Perhaps the killer can be stopped. If only she can make someone - her mother, her friend, her teacher - believe. Her words are dismissed, her sanity questioned. She knows they’ll believe her in the end … but by then, they’ll be facing death. 

Can she act to save them, or will their fate be left to Chance?


What did I think?

I'm really getting spoilt with all of these gripping books I'm unable to put down and Chance is certainly one of those.  The cover was a bit creepy and I wasn't sure how relevant it was to the story until I started reading.  It reminds us that Cassie is a child who has had to grow up so quickly due to the things that she has seen and experienced, so it makes perfect sense to have Katie on the front.

Aside from the murders, there are loads of tough topics covered in the book, including school bullying, child neglect, physical abuse and drug use.  So there's an abundance of events to play with our emotions in between the killings.  The story revolving around Cassie's mum, Leanne is exceptional.  At the beginning of the book she couldn't care less about how Cassie gets home from school but she certainly turns into a lioness protecting her cub at the end.  This turned my feelings for Leanne from exasperation to admiration - I really didn't think I could experience such a broad spectrum of emotions in one book, never mind for one character!

I enjoyed the story of Laura Robinson, the social worker assigned to Cassie's case.  Laura has struggled with her own problems, giving her the ability to empathise with every one of her cases.  She really looks out for Cassie and goes above and beyond the call of duty.  I held my breath (no pun intended) and gritted my own teeth during one of her scenes, I was so absorbed in the book!

Cassie seeing and feeling the emotions of the killer was an absolutely brilliant idea for a book.  Whether you believe in people having such an ability or not, we are left in no doubt that Cassie is experiencing some things that no 9 year-old should ever experience and my heart went out to her.  Although I guessed who the killer was, I really didn't see the explosive ending coming.  To say any more would spoil the story but you really must add Chance to your reading list and experience this rollercoaster for yourself.

This is such a well-written, flawless book with an exceptional storyline that I would not hesitate to recommend it.  Chance is Peter Dudgeon's second book, I will certainly be adding his first book, Ticket, to my reading list.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Thursday, 3 September 2015

High Tide - Veronica Henry


Pennfleet might be a small town, but there's never a dull moment in its narrow winding streets ...

Kate has only planned a flying visit to clear out the family home after the death of her mother. When she finds an anonymous letter, she is drawn back into her own past.

Single dad Sam is juggling his deli and two lively teenagers, so romance is the last thing on his mind. Then Cupid fires an unexpected arrow - but what will his children think?

Nathan Fisher is happy with his lot, running picnic cruises up and down the river, but kissing the widow of the richest man in Pennfleet has disastrous consequences.

Vanessa knows what she has done is unseemly for a widow, but it's the most fun she's had for years. Must she always be on her best behaviour?

As autumn draws in and the nights grow longer, there are sure to be fireworks in this gloriously engaging novel from Veronica Henry, author of A Night on the Orient Express.

What did I think?

How I have gone through my reading life without coming across Veronica Henry is a mystery to me.  What a treat this was!  From the synopsis, I thought there were going to be too many names and I wouldn't know who was who but after a few chapters I felt like one of the residents!

Despite being such a sad occasion for Kate, it was fascinating to read about her discarding her New York armour and slipping back into her Cornish life.  It was really sad when Kate was clearing out the house but there were lovely memories attached to each item that she found, which reminded her of who she is.  Her boss in New York was awful, hassling her to come back to work when she should have been allowed peaceful bereavement leave.  I kept mentally shouting "turn the phone off" and "tell him to stick his job".  I just thought it was a shame that Kate was spending time in Pennfleet without her Mum, making me think that we should make the effort to visit our loved ones and appreciate them while they are here.  Perhaps a morbid thought from me, but the book is definitely about life not death.

Vanessa has a funeral for her husband on the same day as Kate's mother's funeral.  It was good to see the comparison between the two - one being a celebration of life and the other being an excuse for a party and to see what's been left in the will.  I didn't doubt that Vanessa loved her husband but she never really knew what it meant to be happy.  Until she met Nathan...  Nathan sounded absolutely yummy - rugged and thoughtful - I had to keep reminding myself he wasn't real.

I really enjoyed Sam's story too.  I thought he might have been a love interest for Kate at the beginning but he didn't get much page coverage in the first half of the book, so I thought there must be other plans for him.  He has a lovely little family and it is clear how much they love and help each other following their own personal heartache.  

I felt really bad for enjoying this so much with two funerals going on!  I loved every single one of the characters in this book; I was swept away just like Frank Cooper and similarly I hope to return to Pennfleet one day.  You'll just have to read the book to find out who Frank Cooper is.  Meanwhile, I'm off to the library for more of Veronica Henry's books!

I received this book from the publisher, Orion, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:




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