Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Secrets of the Dead - Carol Wyer

About the book… 

Three murders. Three innocent victims. What secrets did they share with their killer?

A bottle of bubble bath and colourful, plastic boats were scattered in small puddles on the floor. In the bathtub lay Linda Upton, fully-clothed, her lips a shade of blue, and her bloodshot eyes wide open.

When a young mother is found drowned in the bath, clutching a receipt saying ‘all debts paid’, Detective Robyn Carter knows it’s just the beginning of a harrowing case. She recognises the signs of a serial killer, and when a second victim with a receipt is found, her worst fears are confirmed.

With the local press whipping the public into a frenzy, Robyn is under pressure to solve the crime yesterday. But her team can’t find a link between the two bodies, and the cracks are starting to show.

Just when her leads have dried up, Robyn discovers an unsettling clue she thinks could unlock the case. But as she chases across the plush carpets and manicured lawns of the wealthy elite, honing in on the killer’s shocking motive, one of her own is put in terrible danger.

The press call him The Leopard for his stealth, speed and brutality. Can Robyn stop the most twisted killer of her career before it’s too late?

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About the author… 

As a child Carol Wyer was always moving, and relied on humour to fit in at new schools. A funny short story won her popularity, planting the seed of becoming a writer. Her career spans dry cleaning, running a language teaching company, and boxercise coaching. Now writing full-time, Carol has several books published by Safkhet and journalism in many magazines.

Carol won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015), and can sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.

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My thoughts…

I was given an ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review By Bookouture, Carol Wyer's publisher.  This is something I am more than happy do.

Having read Little Girl Lost, Carol's first thriller I couldn't wait to read her second thriller Secrets of the Dead.  This was another captivating read that was gripping from the very first page.  Carol has ramped up the intensity, giving more depth to each of the characters and a plot line that made me gag!  He descriptions and narrative created images so vivid they played out like a film in my minds eye.  I was only grateful to be reading this outside on a sunny day, not at my usual bedtime!

Detective Robyn Carter is called upon to investigate a series of murders the only link to each appears to be a receipt for £250,000 with 'debt fully paid' scribbled in red on the bottom.  An unexplained death at the local hotel and spa has Robyn's radar twitching - although it seems like the case of death is a simple heart attack Robyn is not convinced and is immediately thinking 'serial killer'. 

Several times I thought I had the plot all sewn up, I'd then turn the page and it was all blown apart - each page turn revealing another twist and gem of a clue.  Carol had me second guessing up until almost the last page.  I was repeatedly dragged out of my comfort zone back into the heart pounding - breath holding - silent pleading - fingers crossing world that Carol had dragged me into.  Wanting justice and revenge - she sure knows how to evoke strong emotions in a reader.

I highly recommend reading both this and if you've not already done so Little Girl Lost - two highly charged thrillers that will leave you finger tapping waiting for the next one.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Ella's Ice Cream Summer - Sue Watson

About the book… 

Ella’s life just hit rock-bottom, but can a summer by the sea mend her broken heart? When life gives you lemons… make ice-cream!

Life hasn’t always been easy for single mum Ella, but she has just hit an all-time low; she’s jobless, loveless, very nearly homeless and, to make matters worse, now the owner of a pocket-sized pooch with a better wardrobe than her.

Packing her bags (and a bigger one for the dog), Ella sets off for the seaside town of Appledore in Devon to re-live the magical summers of her youth and claim her portion of the family ice-cream business: a clapped-out ice-cream van and a complicated mess of secrets.

There she meets gorgeous and free-spirited solicitor, Ben, who sees things differently: with a little bit of TLC he has a plan to get the van – and Ella – back up and running in no time.

Ella’s Ice-Cream Summer is a heart-warming and hilarious romance that will scoop you off your feet and prove it’s never too late for a fresh start. The ideal holiday read for fans of Lucy Diamond, Abby Clements and Debbie Johnson.

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About the author… 

Sue Watson was a journalist on women’s magazines and national newspapers before leaving it all behind for a career in TV. As a producer with the BBC she worked on garden makeovers, kitchen takeovers and daytime sofas – all the time making copious notes so that one day she might escape to the country and turn it all into a book.

After much deliberation and copious consumption of cake, Sue eventually left her life in TV to write.  After a very successful debut novel, Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes Sue signed with Bookouture.

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My thoughts…

I was offered an ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review by Kim at Bookouture as part of the blog tour for Ella's Ice Cream Summer.  This is something I'm more than happy to do.  

Sue Watson is one of my most favourite authors, her books are go to books when I want a pick-me-up, much cheaper than a prescription and better than any tonic you can buy across the counter.  They are books that will have you drooling in one way or another - either from the more than lovely lead men or the very delicious cake they usually feature.  I guessed this one would be different, the clue is in the title 'Ice-Cream' would I still get my fix?  Absolutely, definitely, without a shadow of a doubt YES!!!

Ella's Ice Cream dream had me smiling and grinning like an idiot from the very first page. In the first few chapters we meet Ella and her family and friends - an eclectic bunch of characters that I could relate to straight away. Each and every person, just slightly more bonkers than the next. My favourite being her mother, Roberta who is loud, opinionated and on a different page in life to everyone else, leaving total chaos in her wake as she plays up to her Italian heritage and gets the wrong end of pretty much every situation.

The story begins with Ella losing her job, her children have finished university and are off to spread their wings leaving Ella feeling like a redundant mum home alone with no purpose or direction - she only has her slightly bonkers mother to care for. To add to that she finds out that her ex husband wants to sell the family home in order to keep wife number two in the manner she has become accustomed to.

News that her mothers sister, her aunt Sophia has died brings back memories of happy, sunny, summers spent in Appledore in Devon. Of time spent helping out at her aunts Italian, ice-cream parlour and enjoying endless days of sunshine playing alongside her older cousin Gina - a girl that Ella has always looked up to and aspired to be like.

Roberta, Ella's mother refuses to attend the funeral and begs Ella not to go either. The two sisters had fallen out many years before and Ella's mum obviously holds a deep seated grudge as she refuses to reveal why - something that Ella finds difficult to reconcile and can't understand why she refuses to share the reasons behind the fall-out. Ella goes alone and after the funeral Ella attends her aunts will reading and finds herself the proud owner of Reginaldo, an old ice cream van owned by her aunt, this evokes many happy memories of summers spent on the beach, something Ella is eager to recreate.

Sue Watson takes us down the motorway to Devon with Delilah - Delilah being Josh her sons girlfriends dog, a dog with a better wardrobe than you or me I hasten to add. Ella decides that she'd quite like to take some time out and the opportunity to re-live one last summer of her childhood is too hard to resist. She's also secretly hoping she can find out what is behind the family feud.

Ella's Ice Cream summer was a delicious read, a journey with mouth watering descriptions as I followed Ella to Devon and totally bought into Ella's dream. It's a story with more than a little romance, a story steeped in mystery and secrets that were revealed slowly throughout the book.. There's more than one love interest and Roberta and Delilah are for me the stars of the show. Sue's ability to create multi-faceted characters is second to none - polishing them just a little more with each chapter until they shine and can stand alone - I totally loved this book. The descriptions of the various ice-creams and sorbets had me drooling, oh how I wish my 'fat club' was based in Appledore.

Another thumbs up for me - Sue has done it again and got the recipe just perfect! A totally uplifting read, with all the glitz and glamour of the Italian Riviera. Sue is an author I'll never tire of reading, each and every book delivers what it says on the tin - escapism, laced with pure indulgence - in this case ice-cream - mmmmmmm!

Thursday, 11 May 2017

The Night Visitor - Lucy Atkins

About the book… 
Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything. 
Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own. 
As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex.
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About the author… 

Lucy Atkins is an award-winning feature journalist and author who has written several non-fiction books and two novels: The Missing One and The Other Child. She is a Sunday Times book critic and has written for many newspapers, including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, and The Telegraph, as well as magazines such as Psychologies, Red, Woman and Home and Grazia. She regularly chairs events at the Oxford Festival and Cheltenham Festival and regularly talks about books on BBC Radio Oxford. She lives in Oxford with her family.

Contact Links: 

Twitter: @lucyatkins

My thoughts…

I was offered a copy of The Night Visitor to review as part of the blog tour organised by Alainna at Quercus Books. Having read and reviewed Lucy's last book The Other Child I jumped at the chance.

The Night Visitor is a book that once I picked it up I didn't want to put down. It crackles with the sort of nervous tension that preludes a storm and makes you feel just a little bit on edge from the very first page. It begins as Olivia, an academic historian, turned author, turned minor tv celebrity is launching her latest novel. A novel based on the findings of an old diary kept by Annabel Burley who in Victorian times was one of the first female doctors in this country. This is a huge release and is destined to be a bestseller so the pressure is really on for Olivia.

It's very obvious that Olivia is in terrible turmoil, she is at odds with her husband, there are tensions with her children and also Vivian Tester, the woman who introduced her to Annabel's story. Through Annabel's story their lives had become entwined, with Vivian attaching herself to Olivia and Olivia inadvertently taking her on as a researcher whilst she writes her book. She clearly has more than just an obsession for detail, a trait that Olivia finds both pleasing and uncomfortable as she finds herself having to keep her at arms length, Vivian's behaviour becoming more and more obsessive.

This is a psychological thriller with a difference, in the fact that we had two main characters to unravel and a whole host of others added along the way — each and every one bringing intrigue and questions to the story. It's a unique story in that there is no natural 'goody' or 'baddy'. The Night Visitor is told alternately from Olivia's perspective and then Vivian's - it's very obvious that neither women really like each other yet at the same time and for different reasons need each other. It was difficult at times to decide whether I really liked either character at all, both very different, yet in many ways they were both very similar.
Both protagonists are twisted, selfish, cold, calculating and manipulating in their own way — each looking out for no' one. Yet, at times I felt an uneasy admiration and pity for them.

Once again, Lucy's descriptive skills are brilliant, she got inside my head with both the characters and the physical descriptions of places, with the intricacies of what at first appeared a simple story. A story that got right under my skin. Half formed questions popped into my mind constantly demanding answers to situations that couldn't quite be explained. Each of these saw me turning the pages faster and faster — wanting to calm my racing heartbeat. At the same time, holding my breathe. So many times I held my breathe, untangled the story, decided what was happening and why only to change my mind again with the next chapter. I don't think I've cussed and cursed out loud about characters for a long time as much as I did in The Night Visitor.

This is a dark twisty book that was utterly compelling and left me second guessing write up until the final page — between Olivia and Vivian I know longer feel like ` know my own mind and wonder if I'll ever stop questioning and doubting my decisions and thoughts — utterly brilliant, thank you so much Lucy for another amazing read.