Saturday, 23 September 2017

Review - The Image of You by Adele Parks

The Image of You by Adele Parks
Publisher: Headline Review
Release date: 21 September 2017 (Ebook only)
Rating: *****
Back cover blurb: When all you can see is what they want you to see... Can you ever trust someone you meet online? Anna and Zoe are twins. Identical in appearance, utterly different in personality, they share a bond so close that nothing - or no one - can rip them apart. Until Anna meets charismatic Nick. Anna is trusting, romantic and hopeful; she thinks Nick is perfect. Zoe is daring, dangerous and extreme; she thinks Nick is a liar. Zoe has seen Anna betrayed by men before. She'll stop at nothing to discover if Nick is as good as he seems. The problem is, lies may hurt. But honesty can kill.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved this book! Regular readers of my blog will know that I am a huge fan of Adele's novels, but this, well this one is something else entirely. 

Some might say that Anna Turner is a hopeless romantic, her twin sister Zoe would say she's delusional. Cruel perhaps for someone so close, but then Anna and Zoe don't always see eye to eye. They are identical in every physical way possible, but their personalities couldn't be further apart.

When Anna decides to try herself a potential partner via online dating, Zoe warns her to be careful. Sure, almost every meets that way these days, but Anna is easily sucked in, and not every man is an honest one. As Anna should really know as she has been cheated on time and time again.

Then Anna meets Nick. He is tall, handsome, holds a decent conversation, holds down a successful job and seems genuinely interested in Anna, for herself. Anna is delighted, pretty much head over heels after the first date. Of course Zoe warns Anna to be careful, but Anna can't help but let herself get carried away.

Luckily she has Zoe to look out for her. Zoe has met men like Nick before, she knows the image that he is portraying to her sister isn't his true personality. How can it be when they've known each other for five minutes. It takes time for men to show their true colours, at least in Zoe's experience.

Zoe knows that she can expose Nick to her sister, but should she want to. Or should she let Anna make her own mistakes. Heaven knows they are both old enough to live their own lives. But then there is that unbreakable twin bond, unbreakable even in death.

The Image of You is an absolute triumph of a novel; twisty, deceitful, utterly gripping and very very clever. It's 100% Adele's best yet, and if her novels are going to continue in this direction (contemporary fiction maybe with a little twist or two), I will be one very happy reader.

The Image of You is available now in ebook only.

The Image of You will be available in paperback from 22 February 2018.
You can pre-order it now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Review - The Limehouse Golem by Peter Ackroyd

The Limehouse Golem by Peter Ackroyd
Publisher: Vintage
Release date: 24 July 2017
Rating: *** and a half
Back cover blurb: Dan Leno, the great music hall comedian, was known in his lifetime as 'the funniest man on earth'. So how could he have been involved in one of the most curious episodes in London's history when, in a short period during the autumn of 1880, a series of murders was attributed to the mysterious 'Limehouse Golem'?  In Peter Ackroyd's novel the world of late-Victorian music hall and pantomime becomes implicated in a number of sinister scenes and episodes, and the connection between the light and dark sides of nineteenth-century London begins to attract contemporary figures as George Gissing and Karl Marx. But there are also less well-known characters who play a significant role in the narrative. What, for example, is the secret of Elizabeth Cree, about to hang for the murder of her husband?

The Limehouse Golem is my favourite kind of novel, historical fiction with a murderous theme!

London, the early 1880's and Elizabeth Cree is about to hang for the murder of her husband, John Cree. We are quickly introduced to Mrs Cree and her spectacular fall from grace from one of London's brightest theatre/music hall stars, to convicted murder.

But there isn't only one murder in question here. London has been terrified of late by a ripper-esque figure known only as the 'Limehouse Golem'. Brutal murders and dismemberment are the Golem's thing and Detectives are pulling their hair out looking for their perpetrator.

Elizabeth Cree's story is interlinked cleverly with the diaries of her murdered husband, John Cree and they provide a fascinating insight into their lives together and what they do whilst they are apart. But can they be trusted, and is all as it seems?

Alongside newspaper headlines and scenes from the courtroom, the Limehouse Golem sets the scene beautifully for Mrs Cree's demise. Whether she is guilty or not you will need to judge for yourself...

The Limehouse Golem is a dark murderous novel with gothic undertones. It has recently been made into a film, and actually for once, I am quite excited to see how Hollywood have treated this brilliant book!

The Limehouse Golem is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who invited me to view this title via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Review - Angels in the Moonlight by Caimh McDonnell

Angels in the Moonlight by Caimh McDonnell
Publisher: McFori Ink
Release date: 26 August 2017
Back cover blurb: For Detective Bunny McGarry, life is complicated, and it is about to get more so. It’s 1999 and his hard-won reputation amongst Dublin’s criminal fraternity, for being a massive pain in the backside, is unfortunately shared by his bosses. His partner has a career-threatening gambling problem and, oh yeah, Bunny's finally been given a crack at the big time. He is set the task of bringing down the most skilled and ruthless armed robbers in Irish history. So, the last thing he needs in his life is yet another complication. Her name is Simone. She is smart, funny, talented and, well, complicated. When her shocking past turns up to threaten her and Bunny’s chance at a future, things get very complicated indeed. If the choice is upholding the law or protecting those he loves, which way will the big fella turn? Angels in the Moonlight is the standalone prequel to Caimh McDonnell’s critically acclaimed Dublin Trilogy, and it is complicated. 

Angels in the Moonlight is the prequel in Caimh McDonnell's Dublin trilogy series. As I've not yet read any of the others in the series, this was the perfect place for me to start!

Detective Bunny McGarry is what you might call an unconventional detective. In the first scene of the novel I have to say he didn't endear himself to me at all, but as I read on he definitely grew on me. 

His partner on the force Detective Spain, known to all and sundry as 'Gringo' is (mostly) a positive influence on Bunny. When the two of them are tasked with capturing one of Dublin's most notorious criminals and his gang you'd think they'd be pleased, but both of them have history with the locals, and neither of them are keen on a surveillance operation that they know is unlikely to get them anywhere.

But Bunny and Gringo have been detectives a long time, and for the most part, do as they're told. Outside of work although firm friends, they are two very different people. Bunny is larger than life with a passion for classic cars, Gringo is more reserved with a passion for Jazz clubs - and gambling.

After a night of surveillance Gringo decides to introduce Bunny to the wonders of the Jazz world, and takes him to a club that he'd never normally frequent. Bunny is reluctant, but his mind and mood are changed dramatically when he meets Simone, a bartender and beautiful singer.

Bunny is entranced, some might even say head over heels at first sight. Simone isn't looking for love, or a relationship, and she certainly isn't looking for a detective. In fact, she might even want to get away from the Cops, but Bunny isn't going to give up without a fight...

Angels in the Moonlight is a funny and charming novel that will make you fall a little bit in love with Bunny McGarry. Now, don't mind me, I'm off to find the rest of the books in the series!

Angels in the Moonlight is available via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Don't forget to follow the rest of the blog tour:

About the Author 
Caimh McDonnell is an award-winning stand-up comedian, author and writer of televisual treats. Born in Limerick and raised in Dublin, he has taken the hop across the water and now calls Manchester his home. 

He is a man who wears many hats. As well as being an author, he is an award-winning writer for TV, a stand-up comedian and 'the voice’ of London Irish rugby club. His debut novel, A Man with One of Those Faces was released in 2016 and it is the first book of the Dublin Trilogy series. The follow-up, The Day That Never Come was published in 2017. Both books are fast-paced crime thrillers set in Caimh's home town of Dublin and they are laced with distinctly Irish acerbic wit. 

Caimh’s TV writing credits include The Sarah Millican Television Programme, A League of Their Own, Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You. He also works as a children’s TV writer and was BAFTA nominated for the animated series ‘Pet Squad’ which he created. 

During his time on the British stand-up circuit, Caimh has firmly established himself as the white-haired Irishman whose name nobody can pronounce. He has brought the funny worldwide, doing stand-up tours of the Far East, the Middle East and Near East (Norwich). 

Follow Caimh's witterings on @Caimh 
Facebook: @CaimhMcD

Thank You to Bookollective who invited me to take part in the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Review - The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne

The Marsh King by Karen Dionne
Publisher: Sphere (Little Brown UK)
Release date: 29 June 2017
Rating: ****
Back cover blurb: 'I was born two years into my mother's captivity. She was three weeks shy of seventeen. If I had known then what I do now, things would have been a lot different. I wouldn't have adored my father.' When notorious child abductor - known as the Marsh King - escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger. No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena's past: they don't know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve - or that her father raised her to be a killer. And they don't know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone... except, perhaps his own daughter.

Helena is deeply disturbed when the news breaks that the notorious child abductor known only as 'the Marsh King' has escaped from the maximum security prison where he supposed to be spending the rest of his life.

Helena knows immediately that she, her husband and two young daughters are in danger. The only trouble is, her family have no idea who she is, and why the Marsh King would be looking for her. But she is the reason that he is in prison, and she knows he won't rest until he finds her.

For The Marsh King is Helena's Father, her Mother his kidnap victim. Kidnapped by Helena's Father as a teenager, her Mother was abused and held captive in the middle of the swamp lands of Michigan, where she went on to give birth to Helena. 

Growing up in 'captivity', Helena didn't recognise her Father as a monster at first. For he was the one person who taught her to how to survive in the swamp. He taught her how to shoot, how to use a knife and perhaps his biggest mistake - he taught Helena how to fend for herself. 

Over time Helena realises that although she loves her Father he is a violent and dangerous man. When the chance presents itself she and her Mother escape with their lives barely intact. Helena soon realises that she is different from other kids her age, and that she can't express herself in the same way that they do.

Eventually though her Father is bought to justice and Helena grows into her life on the outside. When she meets her husband she is determined to leave her old life behind, and not be 'the Marsh King's Daughter' anymore.

Unfortunately it seems like the Marsh King has other ideas, and Helena must use everything he taught her in order to survive.

The Marsh King's Daughter is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Review - Copy Cat by Alex Lake

Copy Cat by Alex Lake
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Release date: 7 August 2017
Rating: *****
Back cover blurb: Your stalker is everywhere. Your stalker knows everything. But the real problem is that your stalker is you. Sarah Havenant discovers – when an old friend points it out – that there are two Facebook profiles in her name. One, she recognizes: it is hers. The other, she has never seen. But everything in it is accurate. Recent photos of her and her friends, her and her husband, her and her kids. Even of her new kitchen. A photo taken inside her house. She is bemused, angry, and worried. Who was able to do this? Any why? But this, it soon turns out, is just the beginning. It is only now – almost as though someone has been watching, waiting for her to find the profile – that her problems really start…

When an old high school friend contacts Sarah Havenant via Facebook and asks to meet as she is moving back to their hometown of Barrow, Sarah is only too happy to oblige, but a throwaway comment makes her question her own sanity.

Is this the right account for you or is it the other one? 

Sarah only has one Facebook account. Or so she thought.

Sarah decides to investigate and discovers a duplicate facebook profile in her name. One that she had no hand in setting up.

When she discovers that the owner of the account has posted recent pictures of her and her family, Sarah is rightly, freaked out. Initially dismissive of the account, Sarah's husband thinks she has just forgotten about setting it up.

But Sarah knows that she did no such thing. As she delves deeper into the mystery, determined to find the culprit, things soon escalate out of control; Sarah thinks her family is in danger and her husband thinks she is losing it.

Copycat is one of those novels that I don't want to say too much more about, I think you really need to go Sarah's journey right there alongside her.

Copycat is genuinely terrifying in that I’m not sure you’d have to be as mentally unstable as the perpetrator in this novel to set up a fake social media account and use it against somebody. Sure there are means of reporting these thing, but if you genuinely have no idea who’s behind it, then you have no proof to take to the police should things escalate...

Should you be brave enough, Copycat is a thrilling read with an ending that I never saw coming in a million years!

Copy Cat is available from now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who invited me to view this title via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Review - Some Fantastic Place: My life in and out of Squeeze by Chris Difford

Some Fantastic Place: My life in and out of Squeeze by Chris Difford
Publisher: W & N (Orion publishing)
Release date: 31 August 2017
Rating: *****
Back cover blurb: Chris Difford is a rare breed. As a member of one of London's best-loved bands, the Squeeze co-founder has made a lasting contribution to English music with hits such as 'Cool For Cats', 'Up The Junction', 'Labelled With Love', 'Hourglass' and 'Tempted'. Even before his first release in 1977, his love of writing lyrics has never wavered. Over the course of a thirteen-album career with Squeeze, it was clear from the very beginning that Difford has few peers when it comes to smart, pithy lyricism. His 'kitchen-sink drama' style has drawn plaudits from fans on both sides of the Atlantic, and his influence is keenly felt today. The likes of Lily Allen. Mark Ronson, Kasabian, Razorlight and many more have recognized the debt they owe to Squeeze's music and to Difford's way with words, while journalists were moved by his winning combination with Glenn Tilbrook to dub the pair 'The New Lennon and McCartney'. In Some Fantastic Place, Chris Difford charts his life from his early days as a dreaming boy in south London with a talent for poetry to becoming a member of one of Britain's greatest bands and beyond. Along the way he reveals the inspiration and stories behind Squeeze's best-known songs, and his greatest highs and lows from over four decades of making music.

If I wasn’t enjoying my career quite as much as I do, the one thing I would love to be (other than a novelist) is a song-writer. One of the reasons that I love the music artists that I do, is purely down to their lyrics. I rarely like a band or artist that doesn't have what I consider to be good lyrics.

There is a line in Chris Difford’s autobiography where he's talking about early punk, that sums this up perfectly;

"I was always looking for the lyric and I felt there was no depth to it. The music felt like it was falling down the stairs".

Those not familiar with Chris, should know that not only is he the founding member of Squeeze, but also one of this country’s greatest ever lyricists, having written for Elton John, Jools Holland and Elvis Costello to name but a few.

Some Fantastic Place is the perfect title for Chris’ book. Personal to both him and Glenn, the song of the same name is one of their finest.

If you aren’t familiar with Squeeze (and/or Glenn Tillbrook and Chris Difford asolo artists) then this account of their musical history should at the very least make you curious to seek out some of their work. From their humble beginnings in local pubs to sell out shows in New York's Madison Square Gardens, Chris weaves a magical tale of life on the road.

But this isn't a book about Squeeze, it is a very personal account of Chris Difford's life from his earliest childhood memories, to finally finding happiness with his beloved wife Louise, via the highs and lows of being in a world famous band whilst battling with addiction, Some Fantastic Place is a real insight into Chris's struggles, talent and personality.

Some Fantastic Place is a fascinating insight into the life and works of one of the most talented artists that we have in Great Britain, and after reading I wanted to give Chris a hug and tell him that everything will be okay. Writing such a personal account must be hard for anyone to do, but for a former addict who has also had problems expressing how he truly feels, it is a masterful achievement.

A must read for anyone who has ever struggled with... Well life in general. This isn't a book just for music lovers, this is for everyone. 

As an aside – I met Chris once after one of the pop up shop tour shows and he was so lovely! He had noticed me and my friend singing along in the front row and commented on this, much to our embarrassment!

Some Fantastic Place is available from 31 August 2017. 

You can pre-order it now via Amazon online. 

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.