Sunday, 28 February 2016

After the Lie - Kerry Fisher



An addictive and gripping read about love, life and living a lie. 

One little lie can make one big difference … 

Lydia has the ‘right’ kind of friends, her children are at the ‘right’ kind of school and she’s married to the ‘right’ sort of man – kind, steady, reliable Mark. Her wedding business is flourishing and even though she is at loggerheads with her mother, she couldn’t ask for anything more from life.

But the truth is that Lydia has been lucky. She has been living a lie for years and Mark has no idea who he is really married to. But nothing lasts forever and the past has a funny way of catching up with the present. When the person who knows all of Lydia’s dark little secrets turns up at the school gates, his presence threatens to blow Lydia’s life apart.

What is Lydia’s terrible truth? Once the secret is out, you can’t put it back … 

A powerful and heartbreaking story, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Jane Green. 


What did I think?

This was such a riveting story and a very close examination of Lydia and Mark's marriage.  My heart went out to Lydia as she tried to keep her secrets buried, and Mark is so lovely that I kept yelling 'tell him' but completely understand that the longer you take to tell somebody something, the harder it is.  Lydia is so troubled with her burden that it isn't any wonder that she makes reckless decisions that put her marriage in further jeopardy.

We all know that secrets don't stay buried for long, and it's so typical that Sean McAllister, the one person Lydia never wanted to see again ended up living in her village and she was unable to avoid him.  I could feel the tension crackling through the pages every time Lydia came into contact with Sean.  It was no surprise that she started to take her angst out on her husband and two children.  It is so true that we always hurt the ones we love.

After the Lie certainly highlighted the dangers of our 'snap your fingers and it's all over the internet' day and age we live in.  If Lydia had been a teenager in present times, she wouldn't have a secret to keep buried as the whole world would know about it!

Whilst all of this tension and drama is going one, we have some laugh out loud moments to lighten the mood courtesy of the family dog, Mabel and Lydia's busybody mother, Dorothy.  Mabel had me in absolute kinks of laughter as she virtually sprang to life out of the page - the inspiration for Mabel was Kerry Fisher's own naughty dog, Poppy, who I'm sure could provide enough entertainment for a whole book!  Lydia's mother was so funny how she still treated 40-odd year old Lydia as a child, trying to tell her what clothes to buy and how to live her life.  Her heart is in the right place but Lydia's exasperation is completely understandable and it's heartening to see what a close and strong family unit they have.

Having now read two of Kerry Fisher's books (see also The Island Escape that I named as one of my top reads of 2015), I am becoming quite a fan.  Kerry's books are so true to life that you feel as if you are one of the family, I find that I care about the characters and I relive moments from the book long after I have turned the final page.

After the Lie is a thought-provoking, poignant and funny book that doesn't disappoint.  The eye-opening comparison between then and now of a moment that should have remained private was simply marvellous.

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

My rating:




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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Endless Love - James MacManus


After being attacked outside her home Rose Loxton decides enough is enough - she needs to get out of London. 

She falls in love with an old converted Stable Lodge in the Cotswolds and decides to rent it. 

But it soon becomes clear that her husband isn’t going to move with her. 

Part of Rose feels relieved – she knows their marriage hasn’t been right for a long time, so this is a chance for her to start over. 

At the age of forty, she finally feels like she can do exactly what she wants, and revisits her dreams of becoming a famous scientist. 

But then strange things start happening in her new home - pages turning of their own accord, sudden drops in temperature, and the sound of music seemingly coming from her empty garden. 

Rose decides to delve in the history of the house, and finds out that in 1908 a young servant hung himself from the Stable beams. 

But was it really a suicide? 

As Rose uncovers more she finds out that the young man, Will had been in love with Emily, the daughter of the land-owner. 

They broke all the conventions of the time by embarking on an affair that crossed the class barrier. 

It is clear they were deeply in love. 

So why would Will have killed himself? 

Was his death, in fact, the result of something more sinister? 

Can Rose find out the real story behind their Endless Love? 

What did I think?

This was an interesting book that I chose to read in advance of the upcoming Endeavour Virtual Historical Festival in April 2016. Although I didn't get goosebumps or any tingly feelings that I would usually get from a paranormal book, I still enjoyed the story.

For some reason that I can't quite explain, I didn't really take to Rose, the main character; she just seemed a little bit wishy washy to me.  Rose was living in London and, following a knife attack, decided to move to the Cotswolds.  Her husband didn't go with her so I got the feeling that their marriage was on the rocks, further evidenced by the fact that neither party makes any attempts to save it.

I liked the link to the past and I found myself looking forward to the story of Emily and Will together with Rose's attempts to find out what happened to Will so that he could rest in peace.  I also enjoyed the comparison of the afterlife with time travel.  Perhaps we are all existing at the same time but on a different dimension to our ancestors.  A really interesting thought.  Will certainly felt that Rose was encroaching on his patch!

Endless Love is a pleasant story of investigations into the past and never forgetting the one you love.

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

My rating:






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Monday, 22 February 2016

Leaving Time - Jodi Picoult


In her most gripping mystery since House Rules, Number One bestselling author Jodi Picoult brings us a powerful story of a young girl's determination to uncover the truth.
Jenna Metcalf was with her mother the night she disappeared, but she remembers nothing.
In the wake of those tragic events, she has lost not one parent, but two: her father is in an asylum, and now she lives with her grandmother - who finds it too painful to talk about what happened.
Ten years on, Jenna is the only one who still seems to care. And she is determined to seek the truth, no matter how shocking and life-changing it might be . . .

What did I think?

I actually rather enjoyed this book, although I can understand the mixed reviews it has received.  I read it quite fast, despite the elephant chapters being a little too detailed for my liking.  As with all Jodi Picoult books, it has been meticulously researched and it has a few surprises in store along the way.

The story is about Jenna trying to find her Mum, Alice, who disappeared when she was a toddler.  Jenna enlists the help of Serenity, a psychic, and Virgil, the detective who was investigating Alice’s disappearance. Each chapter is told from the perspectives of Jenna, Alice, Serenity and Virgil, and cleverly interwoven by Jodi Picoult. 

At first I enjoyed learning about elephants and how they cope with different emotions but, due to the level of detail, it did become a bit tedious in the end as I just wanted to find out what had happened to Alice.  I thought the whole story was very clever as I didn’t expect it to end the way it did, despite some clues being there that I completely missed.  It also gave me a greater understanding of these majestic creatures and adds irrefutable evidence to the theory that elephants never forget.

Although not as emotional as I have come to expect from Jodi Picoult, I enjoyed Leaving Time but sometimes I felt I was reading a natural history book as opposed to a fiction novel.  I know it wouldn’t be classic Jodi Picoult without all of the detailed research, but unless you are a huge fan of elephants some people may find this book hard going.

It’s a fascinating story about a mother’s love spanning the animal kingdom, meticulously researched and written with the inimitable charm of Jodi Picoult.

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

My rating:




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Video Q&A: Sanjida Kay

I recently read Bone by Bone by Sanjida Kay and was surprised at the range of emotions it evoked in me.  It really is an outstanding debut that will resonate with anyone who has been touched by bullying.  Sanjida has also announced that she is donating a proportion of her book profits to the anti-bullying charity Kidscape.

I am completely honoured to post this wonderful video Q&A by Laura Pride of OMGrenegade with the fabulous Sanjida Kay - enjoy!

Video Q&A Sanjida Kay

You can read my review here and pre-order Bone by Bone from Amazon here (released 3rd March 2016).

Many thanks to Sanjida Kay and Alison Davies for giving me the opportunity to host this video exclusively for one week.

Find out more about Sanjida Kay and sign up to her mailing list at www.sanjida.co.uk.
Follow Sanjida Kay on Twitter @SanjidaOConnell



Sunday, 21 February 2016

Between You and Me - Lisa Hall



They say every marriage has its secrets.
But no one sees what happens behind closed doors.
And sometimes those doors should never be opened …
Sal and Charlie are married. They love each other. But they aren’t happy. Sal cannot leave, no matter what Charlie does – no matter how much it hurts.

What did I think?
Wow!  This book was absolutely brilliant, unputdownable and a top psychological thriller - if this doesn't make it to number 1 in 2016 I will be most surprised.  The narrative on the front of the book mentions a twist that you won't see coming, so I was on high alert looking for clues as to what this twist could be.  I wouldn't have spotted it in a million years, proving just what a clever lady Lisa Hall is.  I was rapidly approaching the end and suddenly went 'huh?', flicking back over the previous pages until the penny dropped.  Bravo, Lisa!

I was hooked immediately as chapters went back and forth between the perspectives of Sal and Charlie.  Each character had their own unique voice; the abuser justifying their actions and the abused blaming themselves.  There are some parts of the book that are difficult to read due to the domestic violence; it's not too graphic but it did make my stomach clench on numerous occasions.

Spectacular twist aside, this book really gets to grips with domestic violence.  The abused blaming themselves and fearing that nobody will believe them so they have no option but to stay and brace themselves for the next blow.  The abuser using guilt to make their partner stay with them and making them feel worthless at every opportunity.  It certainly gives an insight into such relationships when as bystanders we always ask 'why don't they just leave?'

It's hard to believe that this is a debut novel; Between You and Me is simply amazing - I'd give it 10 stars if I could.  This is definitely going to be a huge hit in 2016 and I hope Lisa Hall puts pen to paper for many more years to come.

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

My rating:




Buy it from Amazon

BLOG TOUR: The Glittering Art of Falling Apart

I absolutely loved The Glittering Art of Falling Apart and named it as one of my top reads of 2015, so I am delighted to take part in the blog tour.  On this stop of the tour, I have a guest post from Ilana Fox detailing how she researched this fabulous book.





HOW I RESEARCHED THE BOOK - ILANA FOX

Despite hanging out in Soho with my grandparents in the 1980s, I dont really remember much about it, so I had to rely on speaking with lots of people whod been there and done that to truly capture the essence of Soho at that time.

Everyone I spoke to was incredibly generous with their time and I am touched that they trusted me with their stories. I would never name them, but the people who helped me write this book were the people who used to go clubbing in Soho in the 1980s, people who still battle heroin addiction on a daily basis, and the women who used to sell their bodies (if not their souls) in Soho at that time.

I also spent a lot of time with Soho residents - the real locals - who have seen their Soho being regenerated inch by inch, and I read more about Soho than one could think possible. If anyones looking to read an out-of-print book about Soho, I probably have it and youre more than welcome to borrow it!

As a child of the 1980s, it kind of freaks me out that a novel set in this period is now considered historical fiction, but because its historical I wanted to get it absolutely right. There were some points I needed to get right for my own obsessive attention to detail; countless people who I dont know on Twitter helped me when my questions got more and more obscure - from telling me their old Basingstoke phone number in the 1980s, to if one had to put the coins in a phone box before or after a call was connected, to what people drank when they went out dancing.

Of course, THE GLITTERING ART OF FALLING APART is a novel, and is absolutely fictional, but the London in which it's set - the London from the 1960s to the present day - is very much real. Anyone who's ever lived in London sees ghosts of themselves in the areas in which they once lived, in the pubs they once drank in, and in the alleyways in which they got up to no good. This is a novel about that London; the London that is created from all of our memories

While I was writing the novel - over the course of three, very long years - Soho changed markedly, not least because of the Crossrail development (which saw one of the music venues I spent a lot of time at during the 90s, the Astoria, demolished completely). Change in cities is unquestionably inevitable, but rather than building around what has come before, developers are scrubbing and scouring at layers of history to make way for new-build, luxury apartment blocks. In doing so, Soho not only loses its memories and its glitzy, grubby beauty, but it also loses its people: the local traders, the musicians, the lovable reprobates and the raconteurs.

Its really hard to stop this sort of change (although a fantastic lobbying group, Save Soho, is doing its best and I support them whole-heartedly). However, if we cant prevent places like Walkers Court from being redeveloped, I hope that novels like my own - ones set in Soho - can capture some of the spirit that is being stamped upon and wiped away.



You can find out more about The Glittering Art of Soho here and the Save Soho project here.

Read my review of The Glittering Art of Falling Apart and buy your copy from Amazon here.

Follow the rest of the tour:

Friday, 19 February 2016

Spring: An Anthology for the Changing Seasons - Melissa Harrison



It is a time of awakening. In our fields, hedgerows and woodlands, our beaches, cities and parks, an almost imperceptible shift soon becomes a riot of sound and colour: winter ends, and life surges forth once more. Whether in town or country, we all share in this natural rhythm, in the joy and anticipation of the changing year.

In prose and poetry both old and new, Spring mirrors the unfolding of the season, inviting us to see what's around us with new eyes. Featuring original writing by Rob Cowen, Miriam Darlington and Stephen Moss, classic extracts from the work of George Orwell, Clare Leighton and H. E. Bates, and fresh new voices from across the UK, this is an original and inspiring collection of nature writing that brings the British springtime to life in all its vivid glory.

What did I think?

The cover of this book is absolutely striking in vibrant tones of green, perfectly evoking thoughts of spring, and I couldn't wait to look inside.  It is so full of life with the tweeting of birds, gambolling of lambs, slithering of snakes and not forgetting the escapades of Timothy the tortoise.  As the season unfurls throughout each page it epitomises the season of spring with the joy and hope of new beginnings.

There are excerpts from the classics interspersed with modern writing from naturalists and nature writers.  One minute you are reading a passage from Jane Eyre or Under Milk Wood and the next you are reading observations of a season unfolding within one day as the writer travels from North to South of our beautiful country.

On some of the older pieces, I was quite surprised to see the date it was written.  They certainly didn’t give their age away which is testament to how wonderfully each passage has been selected for inclusion in this book.  As an added bonus, it is published in conjunction with The Wildlife Trusts, raising funds for trusts across the UK.

Full of perfectly mixed passages of the wonders of nature, this is a book I will turn to each year as the vivacious season of spring approaches.  

I received this book from the publisher, Elliott & Thompson, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:




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The Teacher - Katerina Diamond


You think you know who to trust?

You think you know the difference between good and evil?

You’re wrong …
A LESSON YOU WILL NEVER FORGET
The body of the head teacher of an exclusive Devon school is found hanging from the rafters in the assembly hall.
Hours earlier he’d received a package, and only he could understand the silent message it conveyed. It meant the end.
As Exeter suffers a rising count of gruesome deaths, troubled DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles must solve the case and make their city safe again.
But as they’re drawn into a network of corruption, lies and exploitation, every step brings them closer to grim secrets hidden at the heart of their community.
And once they learn what’s motivating this killer, will they truly want to stop him?
SMART. GRIPPING. GRUESOME.
This is a psychological crime thriller in a class of its own.
Warning: Most definitely *not* for the faint-hearted!

What did I think?

I’d seen a lot of tweets about this book and I was instantly attracted to the Snow White style red apple on the cover, hinting at the evil lurking within.  This was indeed a page-turner as each member of the gruesome club was being hunted – they could run but they couldn’t hide.  It was quite grisly in places as details of the victims’ horrible deaths were described, but it gave just enough details to describe the scene and not give me nightmares.

Abbey works in a museum and, in between the killings, we were treated to flashbacks of her life at university.  Abbey had a traumatic experience and I didn’t know where the author was going with this – was Abbey the killer?  Perhaps…perhaps not.  The tying up of Abbey's story was brilliant, and I’ll certainly remember this book every time I visit a museum.

I did really enjoy this book; I loved the way it was racing along and then suddenly everything slotted into place.  I did get a bit confused with the identity of the detectives, Grey and Miles, as their nicknames and real names were being thrown around and I didn’t know who was who at first.  This was more down to the speed at which I was reading rather than any confusion caused by Katerina Diamond.  Each character had their own little story and I loved each and every one of them.

The Teacher is a fast-paced grisly page-turner and an extraordinary debut from Katerina Diamond.

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

My rating:





Buy it from Amazon

Thursday, 18 February 2016

The Girl in the Ice - Robert Bryndza



Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice...She is not the only one. When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation. The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London. What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding? As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika. The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong... resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she's faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again? A page-turning thriller packed with suspense. If you like Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbot and Karin Slaughter, discover Rob Bryndza's new series today. Watch out for more from DCI Erika Foster. She's fearless. Respected. Unstoppable. Detective Erika Foster will catch a killer, whatever it takes.

What did I think?

This was brilliant; it's a proper edge of your seat ride and as the end approached, I read way beyond my bedtime as I couldn't possibly have gone to sleep without finishing the book.

I loved Erika Foster; she's lost everything so she has nothing left to lose.  She throws herself into the Girl in the Ice case, putting herself in danger as she vows to crack the case at any cost.  Although Erika comes across as a tough nut, she's recently suffered a personal tragedy and she is slightly fragile underneath her hardened exterior.  This gives her the perfect creme egg mix of hard on the outside and soft on the inside.

With such a fast pace, I found myself having to stop my eyes from reading too fast as my eyes swept over each page gathering clues to the killer's identity.  I really didn't guess who the perpetrator was as Robert Bryndza cleverly drew my interest in other directions and I was suspicious of all the wrong people.

As Erika starts to look into other cold cases (no pun intended) and gets closer to revealing the killer, I was on tenterhooks as the killer turned their attention on to Erika.  I have no doubt that this is going to be a fantastic series and I will be standing in line when the next Erica Foster book comes out.

The Girl in the Ice is a fast paced, chilling thriller with a tough and extremely likeable heroine.

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


My rating:




Buy it from Amazon

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Our Endless Numbered Days - Claire Fuller



1976: Peggy Hillcoat is eight. She spends her summer camping with her father, playing her beloved record of The Railway Children and listening to her mother's grand piano, but her pretty life is about to change.
Her survivalist father, who has been stockpiling provisions for the end which is surely coming soon, takes her from London to a cabin in a remote European forest. There he tells Peggy the rest of the world has disappeared.
Her life is reduced to a piano which makes music but no sound, a forest where all that grows is a means of survival. And a tiny wooden hut that is Everything.

What did I think?

I felt so very sad when I was reading this book, as Peggy's father takes her away to a remote cabin and tells her that everyone else in the world is dead.  They are the only survivors after the hilariously named 'Ruskies' obliterated the world.  The desolation of the cabin is described meticulously as Peggy and her father forage for food in their quest for survival.

Peggy's mother is a famous pianist, although Peggy has never been taught the piano.  Her father crafts a make-shift piano out of bits of wood that Peggy plays every day, hearing the music in her head.  I loved the piano being a constant reminder of her mother, leading us nicely on to interspersed chapters when Peggy is reunited with her mother years later.

There are some things left up to the reader's imagination with Claire Fuller dropping hints along the way about the strangely evolving relationship between Peggy and her father.  The sanity of both Peggy and her father is called in to question on numerous occasions and it's hardly any wonder, being so isolated with only each other for company.

I really enjoyed this book.  I think it was such an unusual subject to write about and with so few characters involved, it effortlessly drew the reader into the snow covered cabin, so much so that I felt I was almost watching it on a screen inside my head.

Brilliantly descriptive, it messed with my head equally as much as Peggy's father messed with her head.  I wasn't sure who was real and who was imagined in the solitary world of Die Hütte.

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

My rating:




Buy it from Amazon

Monday, 15 February 2016

Author Interview: Q&A with Ian Ross

I was absolutely delighted to receive a treasured signed copy of Battle for Rome from Suzanne at Head of Zeus.  Battle for Rome is the third book in The Twilight of Empire series by Ian Ross but it was the first Roman historical novel that I have read, and I was so impressed that I jumped at the chance to submit some questions to the author.  Many thanks to Suzanne for arranging the Q&A and to Ian for answering my questions.

I do hope you enjoy reading the below Q&A with Ian Ross, and if you want to read the book, head over to Amazon to pick up a copy, and if you hurry you'll get it for the fantastic price of 99p for kindle.


Q: Battle for Rome is your third book. What inspired you to write Roman historical fiction?

A: I’ve always been drawn to the historical background – the idea of this vast empire which endured for centuries and dominated the world, then collapsed into the ruins we see around us today. I’d written a few novels before, but with these books I think I found my perfect combination of interests!


Q: There are so many diverse characters in Battle for Rome. Who is your favourite character and why?

A: Castus himself remains my favourite, luckily enough, although I found the sinister imperial agent Nigrinus very entertaining to write. He started out in the first novel as an outright villain, but steadily acquired more sympathetic nuances as things went on. Of the historical characters, I’d long been intrigued by Maxentius. He’s had a bad press, I think, and several years ago I was actually thinking of writing a novel about his rise and fall. Fausta, Constantine’s wife, remains a favourite though. We’ll be hearing a lot more about her in future instalments…


Q: Battle for Rome is based on an actual historical event – the battle of Milvian Bridge in AD312. How long did it take you to research and write?

A: I usually spend two months on active research and planning for each book, which in this case included a trip to Italy to follow the course of the military campaign and visit the site on the anniversary of the battle (mainly to check the weather!). But I’m drawing on many years of previous reading and research; Roman history is so very rich and complex, there’s always something new to discover. The writing itself took me four months. I always try to plan as meticulously as possible before I start, which in theory stops me running into difficulties halfway through. In practice, of course, things are seldom so easy!


Q: If you had been alive during Roman times, where do you think you would have lived and what would your role have been?

A: I would hope to have lived in Rome itself, and to have been a free citizen with sufficient wealth to live well. The population of the city under the empire were granted extraordinary benefits, and generally seem to have had a splendid time of it for many centuries. More likely, given my background, I would have ended up a slave or a semi-Romanised inhabitant of some rainy frontier province. But even being a slave in the city of Rome wasn’t always an entirely unpleasant fate.


Q: I think Battle for Rome would make a great film or TV series. Who would you like to see playing the roles of Castus, Sabina and Constantine?

A: Thanks! Actually this is difficult for me to answer, as I watch little TV and few films. I have a very clear picture of what all my characters look like, their mannerisms and attitudes, so it would be hard, I think, to try and find actors to fit them. In a way, I would prefer that each reader builds their own ideas of the characters, rather than having them imposed by a casting director. But it would be fascinating, nonetheless, to see how somebody else interpreted the roles.


Q: Do you have a set number of books planned for the Twilight of Empire series? What's next after Battle for Rome and will we be reading more about Castus?

A: There will be six books in all. I planned it that way from the beginning, and had the overall story mapped out before I began the first book. Each instalment I write tends to diverge a little further from my initial plan though, so while the general historical background remains the same, the characters often develop in ways I had not initially foreseen. But the story of Castus will certainly continue, yes. It’s strange, actually, that so many accounts of the Emperor Constantine’s career more or less end with the battle of Milvian Bridge in AD312; in fact he reigned for another quarter of a century, with plenty of drama, intrigue and violence along the way. So there’s a lot more adventure and action still to come.


Q: It must be quite exhausting researching and writing an action-packed Roman epic. What do you like to do when you're not writing?

A: It does tend to be pretty time consuming, yes! But there are perks aside from the writing itself – I’ll shortly be heading off on a research trip to Greece and Turkey, for example. Generally, I travel as much as I can; it’s the best fuel for the imagination, and I love immersing myself in foreign places and different cultures. But even a long walk in the woods can be beneficial.


Q: I'm fortunate to live close to Hadrian's Wall and consider it one of my favourite places to visit. If you could visit one Roman historical landmark anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

A: Hadrian’s Wall’s a wonderful place, yes, and you’re fortunate indeed! I’ve actually never visited Hadrian’s Villa, near Rome, and always meant to, although I suspect it’s one of those places more appealing in theory than reality… Just recently I was reading Freya Stark’s book Rome on the Euphrates, and it rekindled a desire to visit the ancient sites of the eastern frontier, in modern Syria and Iraq. Sadly, of course, that won’t be possible for a very long time, and many of these places have already been cruelly vandalised. Even Leptis Magna in Libya, another place I’ve always wanted to go, is now under threat. It’s often sobering to be reminded, when writing of the violence of the distant past, of the ongoing violence of the present day.


Find out more about Ian Ross on his website - make sure you check out the 'Journal' section for some spectacular photographs and interesting posts.

Click here for my review of Battle for Rome.



Valentine's Day at the Star and Sixpence - Holly Hepburn



Fall in love at the Star and Sixpence this Valentine's Day....

Love is in the air as sisters Nessie and Sam prepare for Valentine's Day at their newly renovated pub, The Star and Sixpence. They have a star chef winging her way from London to cook a very special Valentine's Day dinner, for all the couples in the village.

But as sparks fly in the kitchen, will love bloom in The Star and Sixpence? A romantic short story, perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley and Scarlett Bailey. 

What did I think?

I haven't read Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence but I spotted this short story on free promotion at Amazon so thought it was a good excuse to pop a bit of romance into my singleton's Valentine's Day.

The characters were clearly already developed in the aforementioned Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence, but the warmth absolutely oozes out of this book so it wasn't long before I felt like a patron of this sparkling local pub.

Sam has started a relationship with barman, Joss, and she seems to want to keep him at arms length but Valentine's Day has brought out a bit of her romance.  I would love to know why Sam is so tentative with Joss, she's obviously been hurt in the past so I shall have to read Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence to satisfy my curiosity.

Nessie was my favourite character; she suffers from low self esteem and can't believe hunky blacksmith, Owen, feels anything but friendship towards her.  I was willing her to have a happy ending and I definitely want to read more to see how their relationship develops.

Thankfully, Holly Hepburn has more books in the series planned with Summer, Autumn and Christmas at the Star and Sixpence already available to pre-order on Amazon.  So put your feet up infront of the fire and pour yourself a glass of your favourite tipple while you pay a short romantic visit to this charming little pub.  

My rating:




Get it FREE from Amazon

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Disclaimer - Renée Knight



Imagine if the next thriller you opened was all about you.

When an intriguing novel appears on Catherine’s bedside table, she curls up and begins to read.

But as she turns the pages she is horrified to realize she is a key character, a main player.

This story will reveal her darkest secret. 

A secret she thought no one else knew…

What did I think?

This was such a brilliant book and I raced through it a lot quicker than I expected, mainly due to the fact that it was almost impossible to put down.  I only managed to convince myself to put it down as it was a week night and I had work the next day.  I had seen quite a few reviews comparing Disclaimer to Gone Girl and I have to say that I didn't really enjoy Gone Girl so, for me, Disclaimer was so much better.

It was such a chilling storyline - Catherine reads a book where she recognises herself within its pages when it goes on to describe something that happened to her 20 years ago.  Where did the book come from?   Who wrote it?  What do they know about the events of 20 years ago?  All of these questions will be answered along with many more questions that you find yourself asking along the way.  My mind was going haywire as I tried to guess what could have happened and I have to say that I was a teeny bit right but at the same time so completely wrong.

As Catherine’s husband and son receive their own copies of the book and some damning photographs to go with it, they are so hurt and upset as they jump to conclusions and don’t allow Catherine to explain.  Catherine’s family implodes and the creepy author lurks around every corner, pulling strings like a puppet master that lead to a tragic turn of events.  Then just when I thought all of the secrets had been revealed, we are left with a negative of a photo that wasn’t developed.  That gave me goosebumps!

A chilling, disturbing and twisty thriller that had me hooked from start to finish.  I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to psychological thriller fans.

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

My rating: