Sunday, 28 February 2016

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

An unusual choice, creating a main character with an alcohol problem, but it works.

Seddon gives a superbly accurate insight into alcoholism, especially the minutiae planning of a so-called functioning alcoholic. Alcohol, alcoholism and alcoholics are often written in a stereotypical way.

Pretty much typecast in certain scenarios, dialogues and situations. Seddon has obviously done her homework and focused on one of the sub-categories or rather one of the five types of alcoholics.

Alex plans her entire day around the next drink, the next hit of alcohol and next release from her inner hell. How many bottles at what time and how to deal with the consequences of her consumption, everything revolves around those key factors. Her job, her personal life and her day to day life.

Just how structured the planning can be for a functioning alcoholic becomes clearer, as Alex tries to get a better grip on it. So far everything and everyone around her has fallen prey to her disease.  In an effort to pick up the remnants of her career she starts investigating the cold case of an attack on a young teenage girl.

Amy is with the reader throughout the story, albeit in a very unusual way. Her memories, her emotions and her perceptions are a pivotal part of this tale.

The story flits from past to present with occasional visits to the years in between. The reader follows
Alex as she tries to control her life and solve the mystery of the attack. Simultaneously the reader hears Amy's inner dialogue, which is also exceptionally well written and described.

Overall this was an innovative approach to a crime story with an anti-heroine as the main character, and it was an excellent read.

Buy Try Not to Breathe at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @hollyseddon and @Atlanticbooks

Read Don't Close your Eyes by Holly Seddon

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Bitter Bite by Jennifer Estep

Bitter Bite has the same zest and power, as the first Gin B. novels. Nice to see Estep and Gin back on track and not pulling any punches.

In the Spider's Trap the reader was left with big cliffhanger of a dead mother being just a wee bit alive. Unfortunately for Gin Finn's very much alive mother is back in town and ready to connect with her son.

Finn is drawn to her like a moth to light, perhaps completely normal for someone who had to grow up without a mother. He sees her through red-tinted glasses instead of listening to warnings and sage advice, especially when it all seems to be coming from Gin.

Finnegan and Gin are family, perhaps not blood, but family all the same. The appearance of mommy dearest threatens to tear apart not only their close relationship, but also the legacy Fletcher left behind for them.

This time the reader gets a lot of new information related to Gin and the deaths of her family members. Everything leads back to the mysterious new baddies on the block, although Finn's mother does quite a good job of filling the baddie shoes.

Estep does not disappoint with the newest fast paced part of the Elemental Assassin series.

Buy Bitter Bite at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Dead Pretty by David Mark

Usually when I read about towns, cities, countries and even streets I don't know I always take something away from the story. When I know the area slightly it gives me a sense of familiarity.

I wasn't expecting to be completely distracted and irritated by the fact that I know all the towns, villages, streets and general area mentioned in this book, intimately. Strangely weird.

I found McAvoy a bit of a conundrum. On one side you have his physical description, which doesn't gel at all with his behaviour and reactions. Then you have his obsession with crimes and the way he lets the obsession flow into his family life.

Who has picnics with his children in possible crime scenes in the hopes that he discovers a missing girl or rather her corpse. Very strange indeed. Almost macabre, at the very least just downright odd.

McAvoy and Pharaoh have a really strange relationship. I'm not sure whether it is mutual attraction or a meeting of kindred spirits. Pharaoh appears to be completely off the rails where Reuben Hollow is concerned.

Then there is the scene in the kitchen during the home invasion, and the way it was dealt with in the aftermath. Rather than worry about the fact two thugs nearly attacked his wife and Pharaoh's family, he is more concerned by the doe eyes his wife gives the rescuer. His insecurity is quite bizarre, despite the fact he seems to have a way with women.

I found it a little disjointed at times, despite the interesting plot and memorable characters. It often seemed as if there were lots of threads going off in different directions with little connection to each other.

Mark describes it as Noir, but it doesn't quite tick all the boxes for that.

Buy Dead Pretty at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Sneak Peek: The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

*based on the sneak peek of the ARC of The Glittering Court*

I'm not quite sure what to think about the fact that a seasoned Urban Fantasy and YA author has decided to pen a series in the style of The Selection by Cass.

Surely her sales can't be that bad that she and or her publishers thought it would be necessary to write a book or series similar to an already popular plot and series? A newbie doing it I would completely understand, but not someone like Mead.

An author, who has proven her talent and creativity with the Dark Swan series, Vampire Academy, Bloodlines and Age of X. What gives? Running out of ideas perhaps? Even if that were the case it just doesn't explain the mediocre plot and storyline.

This review is based on the sneak peek of The Glittering Court, and it was quite a long sneak peek, so I am hoping the second half is more of Mead read, as opposed to the watered down d├ębutante like version I would associate with a new kid on the block.

I am also surprised by the fact this is being described as a YA fantasy. It is definitely YA, most certainly not a fantasy. It wanders from a victorianesque setting into a supposedly utopian like new world setting. Add a little romance, tedious debates about dresses and teenage like fights between young women, and you have the typical YA recipe.

The Countess of Rothford tries to escape her fate and place in society by reinventing herself. In an attempt to become independent and to be able to control her own life, even if it means becoming one of the lower classes in society.

The girls are promised a new life of riches and glory, depending on how they are placed in the competition to become the perfect young lady. Then they will be sold to the highest bidder for a generous commission.

Unfortunately there is a big emphasis on beauty equals worth, women being less worthy than men and the etiquette being the norm to achieve for everyone.

I am really hoping the second half or the rest of the book will be able to turn it all around, and until then I can only base my opinion on this sneak preview.

Pre-order or buy The Glittering Court at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

It happens behind many closed doors, regardless of gender, race, religion, nationality or economic standing for that matter. Physical, verbal and psychological abuse.

The insidious nature of abuse goes hand in hand with secrecy and lies. One partner is adept at pretending to be something they are not and the other partner is often too scared to speak up.

Not speaking up ends up being the Achilles Heel of the abused, because when they do finally speak out they are often not believed.

They are faced with questions like: Why didn't you tell anyone?, Why didn't you leave? and Why would you let someone treat you that way? A lot of fingers point in the direction of the abused, as opposed to the abuser.

Grace keeps up the pretence for her own safety and for her sister Millie. Jack keeps Grace tethered like horse or a dancing bear, the only respite being an evening of entertainment with guests now and again. He knows exactly who to use as leverage, when it comes to getting Grace to do what he wants.

During the conversations the reader or I often wondered why the guests, especially the women, didn't find anything odd or disturbing. I know I would find that type of close and claustrophobic relationship worrying.

Kudos to the author for the last two pages, it was an excellent way to end the story. Paris combines the reality of hidden abuse with a psychological thriller, and the end result is quite a good read.

Buy Behind Closed Doors at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read The Breakdown by B.A. Paris.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Blog Tour: The Stylist featuring a Q&A with author Rosie Nixon

Today is is my turn on the Blog Tour for The Stylist by Rosie Nixon. There is a great Q&A with Rosie followed by my review of The Stylist. Enjoy!

About the author

Rosie Nixon has been joint Editor of HELLO! magazine for the past five years where she relishes the role of hands-on editor with a love of all things celebrity, royal and fashion-related.

She previously held senior positions at glossy women's magazines including Grazia, Glamour and Red.

In her career she has been lucky enough to attend a multitude of glamorous award ceremonies, premieres and showbiz weddings all around the world. The Stylist is her debut novel.

Connect with @Rosie_Nixon and @Mira_BooksUK on Twitter to talk about #TheStylist

Q&A

Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a set of questions I call 'Breaking the Ice.'

The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms want to know)
New Beginnings, a collection of short stories written by Adele Parks. I'm nursing my three month old baby at the moment, so this was perfect for night feeds and my fuzzy mum brain. Short stories are a great alternative when you haven't got the time or the headspace for a longer read.

The last movie you watched, which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, wallet...you name it)?
I went to the opening night of Spectre - I love a bit of James Bond and especially Daniel Craig in the role. I saw it a few days before my son was born, thankfully the loud bangs and crashes didn't bring on labour in the cinema - that would have left a mark on a number of people.

Are you more of a Game of Thrones or Outlander kind of gal?
How about neither? I am a Homeland and The Affair kind of gal.

What do like to do when you want to relax?
I bake a mean banana loaf, I always have music on and enjoy a jig around the kitchen to a classic dance anthem with my toddler, I'm a guilty internet shopper ( fir some reason new shoes relax me) and I always feel better and calmer after exercising.

Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet?
I'd love to have a conversation with the Queen, preferably over afternoon tea at Balmoral. I think she is incredible - 90 years old and still doing so much in the public eye.

Something you treat yourself to, now and again? (Cream ├ęclairs totally count)
I'm a massive chocaholic and often have to ban chocolate from the house, because I 'm not the kind of woman who can have one and put the rest away. Dark chocolate and mint is my absolute favourite - it might sound grannyish, but a new box of Bendicts Mint Collection choc make me very happy.That and internet shopping - I'm a magpie and particularly adore jewellery by Monika Vinader, she's always top of my list for birthday and Christmas treats.

All of the above questions are actually a pretty elaborate pysch evaluation disguised as random questions. Have no fear here come the real ones. Let's talk about The Stylist.

The Stylist is certainly a full speed ahead non-stop event. From the very first page the main character is just a blast of energy swooping all over the pages. Fashion and accessories galore!

It seems as if there is even more pressure in our day and age for girls to be en-pointe with their clothing and style in general. Is there any kind of middle ground between dressing as a fashionista and just being fashionably comfortable?
Yes. It's imperative that you dress for yourself - when you feel uncomfortable or aren't convinced about your outfit, it shows. Fashion should be about feeling good - your clothes should give you confidence and turn you into the best version of yourself that you can be.

The Stylist gives us quite a brutal insight into the celebrity endorsed fashion industry and into the lives of the so-called stylists to the stars. Just how accurate would you say your portrayal is?
I think it's very much rooted in reality - I've been lucky enough to observe many stylists at work and these days they are a central part of a star's entourage. It's not always the glamour and gloss you might imagine. I hope I've given a rounded insight although Mona Armstrong is a completely fictional character.

I have to say you surprised me with a twist at the end. Amber makes an unusual choice (I won't say which one, so I don't spoil it for any other readers)... what would you say was her true motivation for this? 
She never managed to get him out of her head, and they are so good together!

I enjoyed the way the focus was on Amber and satisfaction in her career choice, as opposed to a purely romantic plot. Was this a conscious choice on your part when you were writing The Stylist?
In this book Amber is at a stage of her life when getting on the career ladder is just as important as finding a man. I wanted her to be a full character, whose sense of self is not purely based around who she is dating.

Amber is such great character surrounded by a multitude of other solid characters with loads of potential. Will we be hearing more about Amber and Co. in the future?
Yes, I'm currently woking on the sequel to The Stylist. I'm having a ball, it's set in New York, and involves more fashion dramas, parties, hangovers and matters of the heart as Amber relocates to the city that never sleeps and navigates her first relationship.
I would just like to thank you for answering all of my questions, even the slightly odd ones.



Review

In The Stylist the reader gets a glimpse behind the curtain of fashion glam and glitz. How our perception of the fashion industry and celebrity lifestyle doesn't necessarily match the reality of this particular industry and the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Nixon puts the emphasis on her character as a whole, as opposed to just her romantic escapades. She is strong willed individual with a lot of ambition, and she isn't afraid to make right choices for herself, her career and her life.

A fashion faux-pas opens up a pathway for Amber straight into the high-end world of celebrities, award shows, fashion and fame. It must seem like a dream to be able to knock shoulders with the rich and famous. To be able to choose what global stars wear and are photographed in, which in turn means everyone suddenly also knows your name.

I have to say I felt completely mortified on behalf on Amber. Embarrassing isn't quite the word for being at an awards show in a stinky onesie.

The reader gets to watch Amber grow into her role and then outgrow her boss in a matter of hours. She learns the ugly truth about what really happens behind closed doors in the world of celebs and stylists. Just because something sparkles like a diamond it doesn't mean it is one. Cue Mona and her excellent ability to fake her way through every situation.

Nixon writes with a sarky sense of humour with a subtle romantic undertone. Her characters are strong and memorable, so I am looking forward to reading what happens in the sequel.

Buy The Stylist at AmazonUK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford

This is the kind of book I know I would have enjoyed as a child. It speaks to the imagination and the creative imagery that lives inside the heads of little humans.

I can't think of anything more exciting to explore and experiment with than a time-travelling machine. Oh the things I would have done with this as a kid, let alone now as an adult.

It is often complex, but Welford still manages to keep it simple enough so young readers can understand it.

The theory of relativity, of gravity, the butterfly effect and the complexity of time-hopping and time-travelling.

Who can fault Al for wanting to change past events and in doing so his future. It all starts out so innocently and ends up turning into a major catastrophe.

Luckily Al has a partner in crime to travel the seven seas of time. Named after a major football player (as in soccer), his furry pal Alan becomes his travel sidekick. Poor Alan is also used as space monkey guinea-pig, such an exciting life for a hamster.

If you're a looking for the kind of book that will encourage a non-reader to read or keep an avid reader entertained then this is definitely a book I recommend.

Buy Time Travelling with a Hamster at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Blog Tour: The Stylist by Rosie Nixon

The Blog-Tour for The Stylist by Rosie Nixon is well under-way, and I will be featuring a fantastic Q&A with the author and my review of The Stylist on Sunday the 14th of February!


Take a look at what my fellow bloggers are saying about The Stylist:

11th of Feb at  bookaholicconfessions.wordpress.com
12th of Feb at albainbookland.com
13th of Feb at onmybookshelf.blog.pl
14th of Feb at mmcheryl.wordpress.com and right here
15th Feb at onemorepage.co.uk
16th of Feb at writerslittlehelper.blogspot.co.uk and at cancersuckscouk.ipage.com
17th of Feb at skysbookcorner.blogspot.co.uk and at abookandtea.wordpress.com
18th of Feb at thesecretwriterblog.blogspot.co.uk and at flyhigh-by-learnonline.blogspot.it
19th of Feb at shazsbookboudoir.blogspot.co.uk and at daydreambooks.co.uk
20th of Feb at thischickreads.com and at candysbookcase.wordpress.com
21st of Feb at spoonfulofhappyendings.blogspot.co.uk and at books-forlife.blogspot.fi
22nd of Feb at gobookyourself.info

Connect with @Rosie_Nixon and @Mira_BooksUK on Twitter to talk about #TheStylist

Buy The Stylist at AmazonUK

Looking forward to seeing you here on the 14th to find out what I have to say about The Stylist and a great Q&A with Rosie Nixon!

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Dead Secret by Ava McCarthy

At first this felt like a spiel on the film Double Jeopardy, and then it turned pretty dark and a wee bit creepy.

Jodie is a stone cold killer. She deserves to be in prison serving out her prison sentence, or does she? Are the circumstances of the murder crystal clear? Personally I think Ethan got what he deserved.

Imagine you go to all that trouble of killing someone only to find that there is something screwy going on. Jodie finds a new lease on life and her need for vengeance is reignited after a visit from a down on his luck journalist.

Not only does his news turn her life around, it also sets her on a dangerous journey for the truth. What she discovers threatens to destroy her completely. Sometimes the truth is better left buried. In this case the deeper the better.

There are some rocks that should be left unturned, some truths that need not be spoken.

McCarthy certainly knows how to drive those nails into the coffin and give an extra twist of the knife. Her main character is strong and driven, and the plot is fast-paced with plenty of twists.
Quite a good read.

Buy Dead Secret at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

It Had To Be You by Nikki Logan and Barbara Hannay

Cover: Courtenay  Hayles
To celebrate finding their Man of the Year 2016, Courtenay Hayles, Mills & Boon have published It Had To Be You, which contains two lovely romantic stories.

Molly Cooper's Dream Date by Barbara Hannay and Shipwrecked with Mr Wrong by Nikki Logan.

Two completely different stories about love.

Whether you are looking for the careless sun-swept feel of Logan's story or the more practical approach to searching for Mr Perfect by Hannay. There is something for everyone in this double-whammy.

Molly Cooper's Dream Date
Molly is dead set on finding the perfect English gentleman, and apparently they tend to be easier to locate in London. So a house swap with a gentleman in London sounds like the perfect opportunity to look for him.

Patrick is excited to relax on the other side of the world and he also wasn't expecting to be so intrigued by his house swap mate. Molly is suddenly far more interesting than the reason he wanted a break in the first place.

Hannay has given her story a modern social media aspect. Dialogue via emails and diary entries by both characters. This way the reader gets straight to the inner turmoil, while watching the two of them write themselves into a relationship.

Shipwrecked with Mr Wrong
The last thing Honor expects, needs or wants is an invader in her tiny haven. Her own personal peace on earth is disrupted by an obnoxious underwater Indiana Jones, who happens to believe in mermaids.

Rob is curious about the island hermit, who would rather spend her time watching and recording the animal kingdom, than spend time with him or anyone for that matter.The two of them are drawn to each other, but Honor has a terrible secret that is keeping her from connecting with other people. Animals are a safer bet.

Buy It Had To Be You at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.