5*, book review, debut author

#BookReview Home by Amanda Berriman. @DoubledayUK @MandyBerriman @jounwin @TransworldBooks @bookreview

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Home by Amanda Berriman.

My Review:

When I read the blurb for Home I knew that I wanted to read it, I then started to hear from others who had read it and they all seemed to love it so I was even more determined to read it. And I’m so pleased that I did.

From literally the very first page I was hooked. The book is narrated by Jesika, a four year old who lives with her Mummy and little brother Toby after her Father moved to Poland, never to be heard from again. Jesika’s Mum is struggling with life, she doesn’t have enough money and they live in a flat that’s got many things wrong with it, including mold. As a result Toby and their Mum both have a bad cough that won’t go away. Life is about to get very difficult for Jesika.

A book narrated by such a young child could easily be awful but thankfully that is not the case here, not even close. It is written in a simple language but I really liked that. From the very start Jesika worked her way into my heart, she was such a wonderful little girl who felt so very real. Her innocence was wonderful and I loved seeing her world through her eyes, but this isn’t always an easy book to read.

Home gives a brilliant example of how grooming happens, the subtleties and ways in which an adult will convince a child to keep secrets for them. While it is not easy to read I thought that Amanda Berriman handled it sensitively and realistically, something that is impressive for any author, let along a debut author. But some will find this very difficult to read so be warned.

But despite this darkness, there is much light in the book. The love that Jesika has for her Mother is wonderful, but also for her little brother Toby. Jesika really is a special little girl who unknowingly brings out the best in people.

Home had me going to bed early so that I could read and check in on Jesika because I’d be worried about her and how she was doing, that is how real that she felt to me. When I finished the book at 2am I felt as though my heart had been shattered by little Jesika and what she went through, but filled with hope that her life was going to get better. The most upsetting thing? That I won’t get to check in on Jesika again and see how she is doing. Home really is a special book and for a debut author it is nothing short of brilliant.

Blurb:

Jesika is four and a half.

She lives in a flat with her mother and baby brother and she knows a lot. She knows their flat is high up and the stairs are smelly. She knows she shouldn’t draw on the peeling wallpaper or touch the broken window. And she knows she loves her mummy and baby brother Toby.

She does not know that their landlord is threatening to evict them and that Toby’s cough is going to get much worse. Or that Paige, her new best friend, has a secret that will explode their world.

About the Author:

Berriman-Mandy-Author-Pic-640x707Mandy was born in a British military hospital in Germany and grew up in Edinburgh, reading books, playing music, writing stories and climbing hills. She studied music at Sheffield University, where she met her husband, and they climbed some more hills in the Peak District before setting off to travel around the world. After learning to teach in Glasgow, she taught in a primary school in the Cambridgeshire fens (not very hilly), where she rediscovered the joy of making up stories and started writing again. She’s now a specialist music teacher at a primary school in Oldham and lives on the edge of the Peak District with her husband, two lego masterbuilders and dog.

Home by Amanda Berriman is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

5*, book review, debut author, psychological thriller

#BookReview The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks

 

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The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor

 

My Review:

Ok, so this review could be very, very short. Basically, all that I will say in it can be summed up in these few words ‘It is bloody brilliant and you should read it.’

If you’d like to know a little bit more about the book then keep reading, no spoilers obviously, but if not then you get the gist and that is all that you need to know.

I’d heard a lot about The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor and was desperate to read it, I just couldn’t wait until publication day so I totally abused my position as a book blogger and begged the publisher to let me read it earlier. Luckily for me, they were very obliging. I was so excited when it landed on my Kindle that I started to read it straight away and once I started I struggled to stop. It was just so so good I couldn’t put it down! Forget the washing/cleaning/cooking/shopping/kids/pets/work/tv/sleep/anything, it won’t get done until you finish reading this book. I’m a slow reader and I read it in two days, sleep didn’t matter, I just had to keep reading.

That this book is a debut is incredibly impressive, the writing is solid and the plot is twisted and well written, the characters are believable and realistic. It’s pretty much as close to a perfect book as you can get.

Blurb:

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for each other as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing will ever be the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out his other friends got the same messages, they think it could be a prank… until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Expertly alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Chalk Man is the very best kind of suspense novel, one where every character is wonderfully fleshed out and compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.

About The Author:

20374489_158877098004329_719442257321190286_nC. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter.

She left school at sixteen and has had a variety of jobs over the years, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, ad agency copywriter and voiceover.

In the early nineties, she fell into a job as a television presenter for a show on Channel 4 called Moviewatch. Although a terrible presenter, she got to interview acting legends such as Sigourney Weaver, Michael Douglas, Emma Thompson and Robin Williams. She also annoyed Tim Robbins by asking a question about Susan Sarandon’s breasts and was extremely flattered when Robert Downey Junior showed her his chest.

While writing the Chalk Man she ran a dog-walking business, walking over twenty dogs a week as well as looking after her little girl.

She’s been writing since she was a child but only knuckled down to it properly in her thirties. Her English teacher once told her that if she ‘did not become Prime Minister or a best-selling author’ he would be ‘very disappointed.’

The Chalk Man was inspired by a tub of chalks a friend bought for her daughter’s second birthday. One afternoon they drew chalk figures all over the driveway. Later that night she opened the back door to be confronted by weird stick men everywhere. In the dark, they looked incredibly sinister. She called to her partner: ‘These chalk men look really creepy in the dark . . .’

She is never knowingly over-dressed. She has never owned a handbag and the last time she wore heels (twelve years ago) she broke a tooth.

She loves The Killers, Foo Fighters and Frank Turner. Her favourite venue is Rock City.

Her favourite films are Ghostbusters and The Lost Boys. Her favourite authors are Stephen King, Michael Marshall and Harlan Coben.

She is SO glad she was a teenager in the eighties.

She firmly believes that there are no finer meals than takeaway pizza and champagne, or chips with curry sauce after a night out.

Everyone calls her Caz.

The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor is released on 11th January 2018 and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

5*, book review

#bookreview Broken Bones by Angela Marsons @WriteAngie @Bookouture

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Broken Bones by Angela Marsons

My review:

Regular readers of my book blog will know just how much I love Angela Marsons. Her DI Kim Stone books are outstanding. This is book seven and each one has been a brilliant read in their own right. Each time a new one comes out I cannot wait to read it, but I am also scared that this book will be the one to let the series down and I worry that Marsons will get to the point where she has done all that she can with Stone.

My favourite of the Kim Stone books has been Evil Games, I absolutely loved the baddie in that book and felt that she was an amazingly written character that, even though I knew she wasn’t real, still managed to scare me. I didn’t expect that any book would push Evil Games off that number one spot, but Broken Bones has done just that.

This book was just wonderful to read, from start to finish I loved every single page and I didn’t want to stop reading. Sure, the books are easy to read and not the most high brow books, but if you enjoy an easy read that you can really get into then Broken Bones is for you.

I normally give a bit of a summary of the book in my reviews, but I’m not going to here. It isn’t necessary. It doesn’t matter what the book is about really, if you’ve read Kim Stone books before (and I do strongly suggest that if you haven’t you start with book one, Silent Scream, in order to get the most that you can out of the series) then you will know that you want to read Broken Bones, and if you haven’t? Well, what are you waiting for?

Thank you to the publishers Bookouture for a copy of Broken Bones by Angela Marsons. I was under no obligation to review and all thoughts are my own.

Blurb:

They thought they were safe. They were wrong.
The murder of a young prostitute and a baby found abandoned on the same winter night signals the start of a disturbing investigation for Detective Kim Stone – one which brings her face to face with someone from her own horrific childhood.

As three more sex workers are murdered in quick succession, each death more violent than the last, Kim and her team realise that the initial killing was no one-off frenzied attack, but a twisted serial killer preying on the vulnerable.

At the same time, the search begins for the desperate woman who left her newborn baby at the station – but what looks like a tragic abandonment turns even more sinister when a case of modern slavery is uncovered.

The two investigations bring the team into a terrifying world of human exploitation and cruelty – and a showdown that puts Kim’s life at risk as shocking secrets from her own past come to light.

About the Author:

Angie - updated author photo - no credit needed

Angela is the author of the Kim Stone Crime series. She discovered a love of writing at Primary School when a short piece on the rocks and the sea gained her the only merit point she ever got.
Angela wrote the stories that burned inside and then stored them safely in a desk drawer.
After much urging from her partner she began to enter short story competitions in Writer’s News resulting in a win and three short listed entries.
She used the Amazon KDP program to publish two of her earlier works before concentrating on her true passion – Crime.
Angela is now signed to write a total of 16 Kim Stone books forhttp://bookouture.com and has secured a print deal with Bonnier Zaffre Publishing.

 

Broken Bones by Angela Marsons is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

 

5*, blog tours, book review, psychological thriller

#blogtour Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite @BCoperthwait @bookouture

Her Last Secret - Blog Tour

My Review:

Having read and enjoyed the author’s previous books I was looking forward to reading Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite. In fact, I enjoyed her books so much that I agreed to read and review this one without even reading the blurb. I went in totally blind.

The book starts early on Christmas Day, we know that the police have been called to a house after a neighbour heard gunshots and the officer in charge is trying to decide when to go into the house, fearing that a gunman (or woman) might shoot someone in the process.

We then go back in time to a few weeks before Christmas and meet the people who live in the house, Ben and Dominique with their children, teenager Ruby and Mouse, the youngest of the family. As the book goes on we learn that all is not well within the Thomas family, but the question remains, who fired the gun and why?

There are regular chapters that are back in the present day, to the police officer outside their house on Christmas Day. I am not always a fan of chapters that go back and forth in time but it worked incredibly well in Her Last Secret, building the tension and keeping the reader guessing.

I was often sure that I had worked it all out, but of course, I hadn’t. This is not a short book, at 408 pages it is quite lengthy but when reading it on my Kindle I had no idea that it was that long and it certainly never dragged. I only ever wished that it would hurry up because I was desperate to find out what had happened on that Christmas morning.

I thought that Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite combines all of the ingredients needed to make a brilliant psychological thriller. I thoroughly recommend it.

I received a copy of Her Last Secret from the publisher, Bookouture. I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

Blurb:

Her-Last-Secret-Kindle

There are some secrets you can never tell.

The last thing to go through Dominique Thomas’s head was the image of her teenage daughter’s face and her heart lifted. Then the shot rang out.

They were the perfect family. Successful businessman Ben Thomas and his wife Dominique live an enviable life, along with their beautiful children; teenager Ruby and quirky younger daughter, Mouse.

But on Christmas Day the police are called to their London home, only to discover a horrific scene; the entire family lying lifeless, victims of an unknown assailant.

But when Ruby’s diary is discovered, revealing her rage at the world around her, police are forced to look closer to home for the key to this tragedy.

Each family member harboured their own dark truths – but has keeping their secrets pushed Ruby to the edge of sanity? Or are there darker forces at work?

This dark, gripping psychological thriller will have you holding your breath until the very last page. Fans of Behind Closed Doors, Sometimes I Lie, and The Girl on the Train will be captivated.

About The Author:

barbaracopperthwaite

What people say about Barbara’s books:
“Will have you looking over your shoulder and under your bed… Original, gripping, with a deep psychological impact,” Sunday Mirror
“Enthralling, tense and moving,” Real People magazine
“Totally gripping, and scarily believable,” Bella magazine

Barbara is the author of psychological thrillers INVISIBLE and FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD. Both have been Amazon best sellers. She is also the author of THE DARKEST LIES, and her latest book HER LAST SECRET is out on 13 October.

Much of her success is thanks to her twenty-odd years’ experience as a national newspaper and magazine journalist. She’s interviewed the real victims of crime – and also those who have carried those crimes out. Thanks to people sharing their stories with her, she knows a lot about the emotional impact of violence and wrong-doing. That’s why her novels are dark, realistic and tackle not just the crime but its repercussions.

When not writing feverishly, she is often found hiding behind a camera, taking wildlife photographs.

Author Social Media Links:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorBarbaraCopperthwaite

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BCopperthwait

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/author_barbara_copperthwaite/

Website: www.barbaracopperthwaite.com

Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite is out now and available from  Amazon UK and Amazon US.

book review

Review: The One by John Marrs.

 

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The One by John Marrs.

 

I was super excited to read The One by John Marrs, I had responded to a request on social media by John for someone to help him with some research for this book. I wanted to see what had ended up in the book but also to see my name in the acknowledgements. Very exciting. I had also heard loads of good things about The One from everyone who had read it. It was quickly bumped up my tbr pile, and boy I’m so glad that it was as I absolutely loved it.

My 5* review:

It isn’t often that I want to give a book more than 5 stars, but this book is one of them! I just loved reading this book, from the very start to finish it was enjoyable to read and interesting and thought provoking.

The story is told from the point of view of a decent number of characters, alternating with each chapter. At first, I found it difficult as I’m not very good at remembering character names when there are so many being introduced but I soon got into it and sucked into the story.

The premise is great, a quick and simple DNA test that will tell you, assuming that they have also been tested, The One, your soulmate and the person that sparks will fly when you meet. It sounds good, doesn’t it? But of course nothing is that simple.

Often when a book follows different people like this some of the stories are better than others, but in this case I found every character and storyline enjoyable, interesting and intriguing. Sure, I had my favourite, but they were all good and well told.

The author has done a great job weaving the story together and it really was a joy to read. I started off pretty sure that I would take the DNA test, but now I’m not so sure! And who knows, maybe one day such a test will exist. Actually, that is really quite a scary thought.

I received a copy of The One by John Marrs from Netgalley but was under no obligation to provide a review. All thoughts are my own.

The Blurb:

A psychological thriller with a difference, this is a truly unique novel which is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

How far would you go to find THE ONE?
One simple mouth swab is all it takes. A quick DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.
A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one other person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people meet their Match. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

(Note: Previously published as A Thousand Small Explosions)

The One by John Marrs is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

5*, book review, debut author

Book review: Ragdoll by Daniel Cole.

 

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Ragdoll by Daniel Cole.

 

This book is a belter and what a way to start 2017 on If only I could read faster! I have a strong suspicion that this book will be in my top reads of the year.

My 5* review:

I’d heard a fair bit of rumbling about Ragdoll before I read it, all of it positive but I had avoided reading too much about it as I do like to avoid the hype and building my expectations too high.

I loved how Ragdoll started. The author, Daniel Cole, told us how the book had come about. He told us about years of knockbacks and rejections and how he wrote many, many, short stories. But one story stayed with him and he decided to turn it into a book. And that book is Ragdoll.

Reading Ragdoll reminded me of books that I used to read, real proper police procedural, crime books. A bit like Patricia Cornwell in the early days when her books were gripping and wonderful to read. I loved so much about this book! The crime that kicks it off is suitably gruesome and unpleasant and as the police try to untangle the crime and who is behind it suspicion turns to one of their own, pulling the team apart and making them question everything.

The way that the story unfolds with a time pressure with lives at stake makes it a gripping read, who will survive? Will the police catch the killer in time? Who can they trust?

The writing was good and solid, the characters were really well developed and interesting, everyone gave something to the story. And they are characters that I’d very much like to read about again, and soon. It would appear that this book is the first in a new detective series which makes me very happy, I cannot wait to find out what happens to detective William Faulks next! If this is the author’s debut book then we are surely in for an outstanding series.

I’m trying hard not to give too much away, but if you like crime books then read this. I am sure that you won’t be disappointed. Seriously, this is without a doubt one of the best crime books that I have read and I am now waiting (im)patiently for part two.

I received a copy of Ragdoll from the publishers via Netgalley but was under no obligation to review it.

Blurb:

A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet, nicknamed by the press as the ‘ragdoll’.

Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.

The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.

With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?

Ragdoll is set to be released on February 23rd, 2017 by Trapeze and is available to pre-order now on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

 

5*, blog tours, book review

Blog tour review: The Killing Game by J.S. Carol.

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I’m delighted to be part of this blog tour, I read The Killing Game a couple of weeks ago but I am still thinking about it and talking about it to others. Definitely a sign of a great book!!

My 5* review:

Wow, I loved this book! It was easy to read, not complicated but also totally gripping!! I’ve never read James Carol before, but I have heard of him. So trusting the publisher, Bookouture, who rarely release a book that isn’t worth reading I thought that I’d give it a go. The blurb also sounded good.
The story focuses on the entertainment industry in LA, not something that I know a lot about but something that intrigues me all the same. Alfie’s is a small and very exclusive restaurant in LA, it is almost impossible to get a table there, to do so you have to be someone in Hollywood. So when a man armed to the hilt storms into Alfie’s the world is watching and waiting for developments. The Killing Game is told from various points of view, JJ and King who are both inside the restaurant, and from the reporter outside desperate to get the story first, and his boss in the newsroom breaking balls to get it.
I seriously loved this book. It grabbed me from the start and I just had to keep reading it. I ignored the million and one things that I need to be doing and instead read The Killing Game, I just had to know what was going to happen! The story was cleverly told and revealed, and impressively remained plausible throughout.
I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say that you should read The Killing Game, it’s bloody brilliant. Just good luck keeping your heart rate below 100!
Blurb:
Imagine you are having lunch at an exclusive restaurant, filled with Hollywood’s hottest stars.
And a masked gunman walks in and takes everyone hostage.
You must bargain for your life against a twisted individual who knows everything about you.
He also has a bomb set to detonate if his heart rate changes.
If he dies. You die.
You have four hours to stay alive.
What would you do?

A heart-stopping thriller with plenty of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat, for fans of Peter Swanson, Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay.

The Killing Game is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.