Sunday, 11 November 2018

Review - All the hidden truths by Claire Askew

All the hidden truths by Claire Askew
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release date: 9 August 2018
Back cover blurb: This is a fact: Ryan Summers walked into Three Rivers College and killed thirteen women, then himself. But no one can say why. The question is one that cries out to be answered - by Ryan's mother, Moira; by Ishbel, the mother of Abigail, the first victim; and by DI Helen Birch, put in charge of the case on her first day at her new job. But as the tabloids and the media swarm, as the families' secrets come out, as the world searches for someone to blame... the truth seems to vanish. A stunningly moving novel from an exciting new voice in crime, ALL THE HIDDEN TRUTHS will cause you to question your assumptions about the people you love, and reconsider how the world reacts to tragedy.

This is a fact. 

Ryan Summers killed THIRTEEN women before turning the gun upon himself. 

But no one can say why.

And so it begins...

The opening pages of this novel almost read like an american thriller, and then you realise that you are in Edinburgh, Scotland, with relatable characters and chilling detail, and it becomes a very different opening.

Three Rivers College is under attack from a lone gunman, college student, Ryan Summers.

Abigail Hodgekiss is Ryan Summers' first victim.

No one knows why.

Her Mother is determined to find out.

Told from three very differing perspectives; Ishbel Hodgekiss, Abigail Hodgekiss' Mother, Moira Summers, Ryan’s Mother and newly promoted DI Helen Birch, all the hidden truths is a complex character study that really allows the reader an insight into all aspects of the horrific shooting.

As a reader it is a novel that really makes you think. When these horrific events happen, we often don't consider all sides of the story;

What makes someone take someones else's life? How do you live with your child's murder? How do you live with your child being a murderer? So many unanswerable questions, yet this author does her best to answer them in this though provoking novel.

All the hidden truths is an amazing debut that will leave you contemplating the novel a long time after you've finished it.

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.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Blog tour [Review] - House of Glass by Susan Fletcher

House of Glass by Susan Fletcher
Publisher: Virago
Release date: 1 November 2018
Back cover blurb: I had a curious sense of being watched. June 1914 and a young woman - Clara Waterfield - is summoned to a large stone house in Gloucestershire. Her task: to fill a greenhouse with exotic plants from Kew Gardens, to create a private paradise for the owner of Shadowbrook. Yet, on arrival, Clara hears rumours: something is wrong with this quiet, wisteria-covered house. Its gardens are filled with foxgloves, hydrangea and roses; it has lily-ponds, a croquet lawn - and the marvellous new glasshouse awaits her. But the house itself feels unloved. Its rooms are shuttered, or empty. The owner is mostly absent; the housekeeper and maids seem afraid. And soon, Clara understands their fear: for something - or someone - is walking through the house at night. In the height of summer, she finds herself drawn deeper into Shadowbrook's dark interior - and into the secrets that violently haunt this house. Nothing - not even the men who claim they wish to help her - is quite what it seems.

House of Glass is a beautifully written novel. It is very atmospheric and almost gothic in its storytelling.

Clara Waterfield is an extraordinary young woman who has suffered much throughout her life. Yet despite her ailments and the tragedy she has suffered she is fiercely independent. She is a highly opinionated young woman, who does not suffer fools gladly.

When she is finally able to leave the house and enjoy the outdoors, she begins work at Kew Gardens. It is there that she is “discovered” by the mysterious Mr. Fox who wishes Clara to move to Gloucestershire and tend his new glass house.

When Clara arrives Mr. Fox is not there to meet her, something she finds immediately odd. And that’s not all, his driver is rude, his housekeeper a chatterbox who doesn’t let you get a word in...

In fact, there is something off about the whole house as far as Clara is concerned. She just doesn’t know what. Yet despite her misgivings, she decides to stay. She wants to work on the glass house, as she has found herself a purpose in life.

Clara doesn't believe in souls, ghouls or ghosts, she is a very practical person, but the other inhabitants of Shadowbrook house are convinced that their house is haunted, and that they know who it's haunted by.

This is the perfect book for snuggling up with at this time of year, as you untie the complicated threads that the author has woven.

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

House of Glass is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

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

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Review - Cuckoo by Sophie Draper

Cuckoo by Sophie Draper
Publisher: Avon Books
Release date: 29 November 2018
Back cover blurb: There’s a stranger in your home… When her stepmother dies unexpectedly, Caro returns to her childhood home in Derbyshire. She hadn’t seen Elizabeth in years, but the remote farmhouse offers refuge from a bad relationship, and a chance to start again. But going through Elizabeth’s belongings unearths memories Caro would rather stay buried. In particular, the story her stepmother would tell her, about two little girls and the terrible thing they do. As heavy snow traps Caro in the village, where her neighbours stare and whisper, Caro is forced to question why Elizabeth hated her so much, and what she was hiding. But does she really want to uncover the truth?

Cuckoo was originally sent to me as an intriguing email from the publisher with the title 'Can You Keep A Secret', along with an invitation to download the mystery novel from Netgalley. I'm a sucker for a bit of mystery and intrigue, so immediately jumped at the invitation. 

Cuckoo is the perfect novel for Halloween, creepy, atmospheric and tense.

When Caroline (Caro) returns to her family home after the death of her Step Mother, she is reluctant at first to start going through her things. Having moved out of the family home to attend University, Caro hasn't returned since.

The house itself has some bad memories for Caro, her childhood and teenage years blighted by her Step Mother Elizabeth's attitude towards her. She has always seemingly hated Caro ever since she was a little girl, and Caro could never understand why. 

Elizabeth also drove Caro's elder Sister, Stefanie away with her behaviour, and Caro's relationship with her sister has never quite been the same. Caro sees Elizabeth's death as an opportunity to rebuild her relationship with Stefanie.

As she begins to clear the house she grew up in, Caro begins to recover possessions and memories that she realises should remain hidden forever. To bring these things out in the open now will only do damage, but perhaps it is already too late for that.

I think having no previous knowledge of the book's title, back cover blurb or author really helped my enjoyment of this novel, as it added an extra element of mystery, all in all a solid very enjoyable read. 

Cuckoo is available from 29 November.

You can pre-order it now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

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

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Review - The Chosen Ones by Howard Linksey

The Chosen Ones by Howard Linksey
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Release date: 14 June 2018
Back cover blurb: Eva Dunbar wakes in a large metal box. She has no idea who has taken her. She has no way out. She isn't the first young woman to disappear. And with no leads Detective Ian Bradshaw has precious little time. When at last a body is found, the police hope the tragic discovery might at least provide a clue that will help them finally find the kidnapper. But then they identify the body - and realise the case is more twisted than they ever imagined . . .

The Chosen Ones is the first Howard Linskey novel that I’ve read, and it certainly won’t be the last!

When Eva Dunbar awakes in a large secure metal box after a night out, she has no idea how she ended up there, no idea who bought her there, and no idea how to get out.

She isn't the first woman to disappear in the local area, but the stretched local police force take a little while to connect Eva's disappearance with the (largely) unsolved cases before hers.

The discovery of a woman's body, leads the detectives to believe that they may have had a breakthrough, but this is one of those cases that is never going to be that straightforward.

DI Bradshaw is not one to give up, no matter what his colleagues opinions on him, particularly when he calls on some slightly unorthadox external help, in the form of two local journalists Carney and Norton.

He is determined to solve the case, and the investigation throws up plenty of twists and turns to keep them all on their toes.

This is apparently the fourth book in a series featuring Bradshaw, Carney and Norton, but I wouldn't have realised that, had I not been told. It can certainly be read as a stand alone.

The Chosen Ones is a very clever, very dark novel and I look forward to reading other novels by this author.

The Chosen Ones 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.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Review - The Stranger by Kate Riordan

The Stranger by Kate Riordan
Publisher: Penguin
Release date: 22 March 2018
Back cover blurb: Cornwall, 1940. In the hushed hours of deepest night a young woman is found washed up on the rocks. Was it a tragic accident? Or should the residents of Penhallow have been more careful about whom they invited in? In the midst of war three women arrive seeking safety at Penhallow Hall. Each is looking to escape her past. But one of them is not there by choice. As the threat of invasion mounts and the nightly blackouts feel longer and longer, tensions between the close-knit residents rise until dark secrets start to surface. And no one can predict what their neighbour is capable of . . . In a house full of strangers, who do you trust?

Diana, Jane and Rose are land girls billeted to Penhallow Hall in Cornwall in 1940. Rose ,the elder of the three girls has history with the local area, and has high hopes that she might run into an old acquaintance.

Diana is younger, more determined, some would say bolshy one.

Rose, the practical, friendly one.

Jane, the youngest of the women, is actually related to the owners of Penhallow Hall, but doesn't exactly receive the warm welcome that one would expect.

In fact, it's almost as if Jane isn't welcome there at all. It is clear that Penhallow has its secrets, as do each of the three women. So different in personality, but thrown together by circumstance and determined to do their bit for the war.

Set against the backdrop of World War II, The Stranger is exactly the kind of historical fiction novel that I love. Full of mystery and intrigue, with enough detail about the surrounding times to make you grateful to all who contributed towards the war effort.

As always I look forward to Kate Riordan's next novel.

The Stranger 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, 8 October 2018

Blog tour: Extract from 'Dear Mr. Pop Star' by Derek and Dave Philpott

Today I’m delighted to hosting a spot on the “Dear Mr. Pop Star” blog tour.

Dear Mr. Pop Star is a genius collection of letters to pop stars (and some equally brilliant answers) questioning song titles, lyrics and everything in between! As a music lover, I’ve been raving on about this book for some time - you can find my original review here.

The extract below is referencing the 1979 hit 'back of my hand ' by The Jags;

And the dazzling reply;

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

About - Dear Mr. Pop Star by Derek and Dave Philpott

For nearly 10 years, ‘Team Philpott’, as their followers fondly refer to them, have been on a quite bonkers crusade, writing good old-fashioned letters to pop and rock stars (sometimes even sent to their home addresses with prior consent!), either picking up on genuine ambiguities within their lyrics or often deliberately misunderstanding them for comedic effect.

The letters are eminently publishable in their own right, mixing sharp wit, confusion, and mundane daily chores with trips to the shops, daytime telly, Derek’s legs playing up, and unarguable logic in relation to questioning the offending chart hits under scrutiny. 

What makes this project especially deserving of attention, however, is that it has achieved a feat never before attempted or probably even thought of. With the missives online for all to see on what was becoming a hugely popular website, the artists quite unexpectedly started to reply, writing back in just as witty and articulate a fashion, politely pointing out exactly where the original letter went wrong...or right.

Also, crucially, nearly all of the responses were procured via ''the back door of the industry'', via roadies, mutual fans, cousins of bass players, and even other famous participants telling the artists directly of the Philpotts’ written pressing inquiries. This marvellous online community, which stretched as far afield as Europe, Canada, Japan, the U.S.A, Australia and Stoke, even cultivated and organically evolved the whole surreal venture by offering up willing stars that the authors would probably not have thought of corresponding with themselves, establishing contact through personal connections.

‘Dear Mr. Popstar’’ proudly features 100 of the best letters and responses from famous and legendary names spanning the whole pop and rock spectrum, all relishing their involvement and revealing their own, in many cases, hitherto unknown humorous sides within what could well be the most interactive dialogue compiled between music stars and their audience ever undertaken. Of course, it is not always possible to reach certain targets, hence many unanswered observations are also included, as they were considered too amusing not to be.

Those to be saluted for their great sportsmanship are:- Deep Purple, Dr. from Dr. and The Medics, Nik Kershaw, Judas Priest, Starship, Tears For Fears, The Eurythmics, Wreckless Eric, Landscape, Smokie, The Strawbs, The Belle Stars, Van Der Graaf Generator, Martha and the Muffins, Thunder, Squeeze, Dean Friedman, Fairground Attraction, The Ruts, Neil Innes from The Bonzo Dog Band, DEVO, Melanie, Alannah Myles, Ian Gillan, Was Not Was, Republica, Then Jerico, Dr. Hook, Toploader, Cutting Crew, Lindisfarne, Spinal Tap, Mott The Hoople, Fuzzbox, Men Without Hats, China Crisis, Mental As Anything, David MacIver and Rupert Hine (Quantum Jump), Timbuk 3, The Rezillos, Saxon, John Otway, The Human League, Chesney and Chip Hawkes, Tenpole Tudor, Shakatak, Katrina and the Waves, Eddie & The Hot Rods, Heaven 17, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, Matthew Wilder, Middle of the Road, Liquid Gold, The Christians, Paper Lace, Dodgy, Daevid Allen, Bruce Woolley, Country Joe and The Fish, Sad Cafe, The Housemartins, Francis Dunnery (It Bites), Johnny Hates Jazz, The Wurzels, Peter Noone, Suzi Quatro, Strawberry Switchblade, Danny Wilson, Racey, Electric Prunes, The Waitresses, Fiddler's Dram, Bauhaus, Climax Blues Band, The Jags, EMF, T’Pau, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Nu Shooz, Owen Paul, Steve Hackett, Steve Ellis of Love Affair, Hazell Dean, The Knack, The Maisonettes, Del Amitri, The Skids, Jesus Jones, The Soup Dragons, City Boy, Modern Romance, Wang Chung, The Kursaal Flyers, Fischer Z, Bruce Thomas of The Attractions, Scarlet Fantastic, The B52s. Junior, Spear of Destiny, Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine.

Ultimately, this book explores how when a song is released into ‘the wild’ the artist loses all control over it, especially pertaining to its interpretation. It is also testimony to the community spirit capable of being created over social media and how positive and fun it can be.

Dear Mr. Pop Star is available to buy now.

Thank You to Dave (and Derek) and the publishers, who kindly invited me to partake in this epic blog tour!