"The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours."
Alan Bennett, The History Boys.
I love reading and writing so it makes sense to combine the two! Hopefully my reviews will help you to decide which book to read next!
Published by 4th Estate Books a division of HarperCollins
Off the bat, ‘Risk of Harm’ is a fantastic read. I really enjoyed Lucie Whitehouse’s last one ‘Critical Incidents’, so I knew this was going to be a gripping read.
A young woman is found stabbed to death in a disused factory & despite the police’s best efforts, she remains unidentifiable.
Already up against the clock and hitting dead ends all over, D.C.I. Robin Lyons is not only still working back in her home city of Birmingham, but where in the previous book she had previously been a Benefit Fraud Inspector, as she had lost her job in the Met, she now works back on the police force & her boss is her old flame, Samir!
Adapting to life back in the city, juggling work, her teenage daughter & some family issues, is not without its problems and not only that, she still has much to prove at work because of the past case in the Met.
A cold case throws up some similarities & people begin to suspect a serial killer…but surely after all this time they can’t be connected can they?
Knife crime & far-right nationalists are also included in this story, and whilst this is fiction, Lucie Whitehouse cleverly weaves modern day criminal activity enough to make you think what you’re reading could, and probably has happened somewhere!
The plot is packed full of suspense & the characters are carefully crafted to create this utterly brilliant piece of work! 5⭐️
Vicky Turnbull is your average suburban mum. She takes the kids to school, has a pre-schooler at home & has a network of other mums as friends who she socialises with!
Vicky has a secret past though, that not even her husband knows about: she used to be a spy!
By her own admission, she isn’t quite as in peak condition as she once was when she worked undercover all over the world. Her waistline has expanded, she has to wrestle & locate her toddler more than the world’s most wanted criminals & she’s more au fait with a paintball gun than a revolver, so when her former employee comes calling asking her to complete an assignment for them that she is perfect for, she’s somewhat surprised.
What ensues is just a brilliant rollercoaster of a story. Faye Brann’s HILARIOUS dialogue had me laughing out loud. There are some tender moments, of course where, like most mums, whatever their job, Vicky has that ‘mum guilt’ where she is torn between the life she has now & the one she had before.
Her mission starts to waver a little to close to her other life & Vicky must decide whether she is cut out for the life of a spy or whether her family should be her sole focus for now!
This book was so relatable, engaging & funny! I can’t wait to read the next one! 5⭐️
Aura & Nick decide to move from the UK to buy a chateau that is in need of some serious renovation in France.
This fresh start is just what they need, and undeterred by the amount of work involved in turning the chateau into a holiday retreat, as well as keeping an eye on their young children, they set off on their new adventure.
As if moving weren’t enough, to help them with the finances and to promote the chateau when it is complete, they have a tv crew of two, filming them on their journey!
Once they arrive, they make friends with the expat community, who help them find their feet and, slowly, Aura and Nick begin to embrace their new life.
One of their new friends hosts a glamorous Halloween party, where someone meets an untimely end. Numerous incidents happen around the chateau and it becomes clear that despite their best efforts, someone knows the real reason that Nick & Aura have relocated to France…
Catherine Cooper has written a great story, told from different perspectives, which not only help you understand the plot, but also the characters.
Packed full of suspense & a cleverly crafted plot-this one kept me guessing until the very end! 5⭐️
Published by Avon Books. Audiobook available from 4/3/21 on all platforms.
First of all, I’d like to thank Ellie Pilcher for adding me to the blog tour for Fiona Gibson’s excellent: The Dog Share on Audio Book. Please check out all the other bloggers on the tour too-I’m in excellent company!
I’m a big fan of Fiona Gibson’s books they’re always packed full of relatable characters, a great plot and plenty of humour. This one has a dog in as well which is, well a bit obvious really, considering the title! Anyhoo!
Two years previously, Suzy & Paul visited the island of Sgadansay for a holiday. While they were there, they fell in love with everything about it. They also visited the Whisky distillery and on a whim Paul decides that, as it’s up for sale, and he has some inheritance money, he is going to buy it-despite neither of them having the first clue about how to run such a business.
Fast forward, two years and it’s all a bit of a mess. Paul has gone and Suzy is left to pick up the pieces!
After one particularly hard day, Suzy returns to the holiday let she is currently staying in and during the night, she hears scratching at the door: a little dog presents himself. She temporarily names him ‘Scout’ until she can return him to his owner. Dogs have an incredible knack of knowing how to bring out the best in people and are adept at joining people together-Scout is no different.
This chance meeting leads to a wonderful story about, love, hope and forgiveness-I definitely had a tear in my eye at times!
The audiobook was brilliantly narrated by Cathleen McCarron and Robin Laing, they captured both the essence of the characters and the location-I really enjoyed listening to it!
I’m biased because I love anything with a dog in, but this really is a great book. 5⭐️
First of all, I meant to write this review ages ago. I often write reviews straight after I’ve read the book because it’s fresh in my mind but some books you just need to analyse and give a bit of reflection on before getting your thoughts down: this book was one of them. I never meant to leave it quite so long though but better later than never!
Bletchley Park was once the home of Britain’s elitist code-breakers; shrouded in secrecy, scores of dedicated men & a few women worked tirelessly to crack German military codes.
At the start of WWII, three women from hugely different backgrounds, but each with an aptitude for puzzles & code breaking find themselves on the team at Bletchley Park & with a united determination to do much more than their bit for the war effort.
The three women are:
Osla Kendall, a bright, society girl who counts Prince Phillip among her suitors but is intent on proving that she isn’t some ‘silly deb’ and wants to help with the war effort.
Mab Churt, has had a tough start & is living in a poorer area of London but determined to find her way up and out, through hard work, grit and stoic determination to marry well.
Beth Finch, is a shy girl, lacking confidence and living under the shadow of her controlling God-fearing mother. She is almost resigned to her fate staying in the house and being miserable for ever, but she can complete a crossword in 8 minutes with no mistakes and so fate has other ideas in store for her at Bletchley Park.
Over their time at working at the mansion, the three women forge a strong friendship, boarding together and working together, but as events unravel, the pressure of the war, and having to keep their jobs secret takes its toll & they become horribly estranged from each other.
Time passes, and the young Princess Elizabeth is due to marry the dashing Prince Phillip: Britain is gripped with Royal Wedding fever! As the event draws nearer, the three women need to heal old wounds in order to come together to combine their skills and save the country one more time!
I’d never read a Kate Quinn book before and, if I’m really honest, stories about espionage and war are not really my thing but OH MY GOODNESS! I’m so happy I picked it up!
Kate’s talent for characterisation is outstanding: each one of the girls has their own story to tell, and they are told so lovingly & honestly. The history woven through them has been carefully researched to create an absolutely gripping story. It really has everything: love, heartache coupled with heart-stopping intrigue & suspense.
A wonderfully crafted story, like stepping back in time-absolutely topping! 5⭐️
I always have a huge sense of excitement when a new Helen Fields book arrives, I’ve read and reviewed all of her books and they’re always brilliant! The Shadow Man is no different.
However, I made the school girl error of starting reading this before bed when my husband was on a late night at work! Chapter one starts with a sleeping woman being watched over by a stranger 😱. I hastily closed the book and picked it up again in the morning during daylight!
What follows, is an absolutely gripping story where three victims from different backgrounds go missing in odd circumstances. Edinburgh’s usual MIT team are either off sick or supporting Interpol (if you’re hoping to catch up with Luc Callenach or Ava Turner, they’re not featured in this book but pathologist Alisa Lambert & Detective Superintendent Overbeck are!)
Each victim, who are strangers to each other, are ‘collected’ by The Shadow Man and locked in a flat. Whenever he comes back to see them, his strange erratic behaviour makes them fear for their lives! They need to escape. But how?
Instead, Detective Inspector Baarda is drafted in from London ably assisted by Dr. Connie Woolwine (an American forensic psychologist) and work together to try to solve the case.
But can Baarda & Connie piece together what is happening before it’s too late? Or will time run out for all three of the victims?
This has Helen Field’s usual trademarks all over it: a well written plot, superb characterisation, particularly being able to write from the perspective of a terrifying serial killer & then that of the victims, the whole time building this amazing suspense.
I always think Helen’s books are the reading version of watching a scary film from behind a cushion, you’re absolutely petrified but you can’t help reading on to the end!
Helen Fields has written another gripping, captivating book which is totally worthy of 5⭐️
I absolutely love Jenny Colgan books, especially the ones based on her Scottish island of Mure! Although it’s fabulous as a stand-alone, it’s alway great to catch up with the inhabitants and see how they’re getting on and ‘Christmas at the Island Hotel’ is no exception!
Flora’s brother, Fintan, is grieving the loss of his husband Coltan. Coltan wanted to revamp an old hotel on the island but sadly passed away before he could fulfil his dream.
Fintan is finding it hard to muster the enthusiasm but Flora, who is on maternity leave from her own bakery, is gently nudging him in the right direction! Somehow they need to cobble together a good staff team & ensure that everything is ready for their Christmas opening!
That’s easier said than done! They end up with a mercurial French chef, an absolutely inept kitchen boy who has never cooked anything in his life and a sweet kitchen assistant, who is painfully shy and whose mum is incredibly difficult to live with after the death of her husband.
Intertwined with this we get to look in on the some of the other islanders and catch up with them: Saif & his children, who are Syrian refugees & have settled on Mure; Lorna, the head teacher who suffers such turmoil as she adores Saif but their relationship has to remain secret; Jan & Charlie, who have recently had a baby and my favourite, Agot, who is the daughter of Innes & Eilidh & is absolutely brilliantly hilarious!
In fact, humour runs all the way through this story & there are some fabulous laugh out loud moments which segue into more sensitive elements. Jenny Colgan is a master storyteller & the reader cares very much about each character and their own particular story.
Also there is always a dog! This particular story focuses on Bjårk, Konstantin’s dog who absolutely steals the show at one point!
This is a wonderful Christmas story which is about love, friendship, family & acceptance. It’s a perfect gift 🎁 but buy two, one for you & one to gift! 😃
📚If you do buy this book, please consider buying from your local bookseller during these challenging times, they are all working hard with online orders and are happy to post anywhere! 📚🎄
Funny & heartwarming, an fabulously entertaining Christmas story. 5⭐️
Special thanks to Sabah Khan for sending a hard copy to me!
I should start by saying that I love Sue Moorcroft books and consider the village of Middledip a place packed full of old friends, so I was excited to catch up with old ones & meet Hannah & Nico.
Hannah is from the village originally, but currently finds herself living in Stockholm, Sweden running her own bookshop. She lives in a great apartment with her Swedish boyfriend, Albin, and appears to have it all.
By chance, she meets up with Nico, who is from Sweden originally, but went to school in England when his parents split up; he also happens to be one of Hannah’s brother’s oldest friends.
They both are attending a family wedding later in the year and spend time at dinner, catching up on what has been happening in their lives together.
But Nico is battling his own demons, and Hannah’s home life, quite unexpectedly, starts to unravel. Her Gran has an accident and she goes home to Middledip to stay with her and help her recover. When she arrives, she discovers that Nico has also moved into the village…
Will they become more than old friends? Can the Christmas magic help their love to blossom or is it best they remain as they are?
Sue Moorcroft has a great talent for creating characters that the reader can relate to. Whilst Middledip remains the cosy village that we all know and love (although this book can be read as a stand alone too) the setting switches to Sweden too. Both are packed full of description enabling the reader to vividly visualise both places in their winter finery! The plot is crafted so carefully too and character’s thoughts and feelings are carefully considered. I thought the part, without giving too much away, around Nico’s children and particularly Maria was heart wrenching and sensitively written and the relationships between father, daughter & sisters was just beautiful.
This is an absolutely fabulous Christmas read, perfect for a Christmas gift. Buy two though, one for yourself & one to gift! 😃
📚Please also support local independent booksellers too, especially through Lockdown! Your custom means the absolute world to small businesses at this time. 📚
Packed full of Christmas sparkle; I loved it! 💫 5⭐️
Published by Avon-25 June 2020. Thank you to Sabah Khan for the proof copy.
*Updated 30th July 2020 thanks to Ellie Pilcher for adding me to the Audiobook Blog Tour available on Audible.com (8hrs 18 mins)
This audiobook version is read superbly by Charlotte Worthing & I really feel she does the story justice with her tone and pace that she reads. During lockdown, I’ve enjoyed listening to audiobooks & this is no exception.
I always get excited when a Katerina Diamond book arrives to review and, this time, I was even more keen to read it as this book is a stand alone and doesn’t feature the popular Detectives Miles & Grey from her previous books.
Each chapter is a ‘Then’ flashback and a ‘Now’ flash forward; between them both, the story is knitted together to reach its breathtaking crescendo!
Felicity and Jasmine are teenagers, with completely different backgrounds. Jasmine’s family are affluent and can afford a big house; they frequently embark on altruistic working holidays where they can make a difference to local communities living in poverty. They’ve also employed a stranger, new to the area, as a handyman. Jasmine can’t believe her parents are allowing him to lodge in a property in their garden when they barely know him. He’s been perfectly civil to her but something about him puts her on edge.
In contrast, Felicity lives with her mum, who is frequently drunk and has a string of boyfriends. As a result, she spends more time at Jasmine’s than her own home. She drinks too much and craves male attention, which has given her a bit of a reputation. Despite their different family circumstances, they are best friends. They think growing up in Sidmouth is boring, even though others might think growing up in a holiday resort is fun. This summer in particular, what happens in this sleepy seaside town is far from idyllic: a girl goes missing.
Sixteen years after she flees her home, vowing never to return, Felicity hears on the news that another girl has been taken; she initially struggles with her moral compass because she has built a new life in the Lake District and has her own family now, a family who know nothing of her past. She doesn’t want to go home, but memories from that summer come flooding back and she knows she has to do the right thing and return because she knows too much.
This book is set through a sizzling British summer, which if you grew up here in the UK, you can easily relate to. The clever description makes you feel as if you are transported there between the pages. That dull heat, that makes you feel sleepy, the days when you get dressed and minutes later need to change, hanging out with your friends later because it is still light & the hot sticky nights when you can barely sleep.
Ever since I finished this book, I have been trying to articulate how it made me feel while reading it. I think you know that when you read a Katerina Diamond book, you will mostly be holding your breath throughout-that’s standard-but there is something about how she uses the weather in this tale. She cleverly personifies it to match the tension in the plot; that feeling of oppression & heat before a storm which makes the story so fantastic & believable. Whilst the stories couldn’t be more different in content, it reminded me of when I read ‘A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ by Tennessee Williams in the way the heat sets the backdrop of the story.
It seems that Katerina Diamond can do no wrong; an incredibly talented writer with the ability to use strong characterisation, and cleverly crafted edge-of-the-seat plots to come up with bestseller after bestseller: The Heatwave will be no different. I loved it. 5/5