Book Review – The Girl In The Red Coat – Kate Hamer…

Eight-year-old Carmel has always been different – sensitive, distracted, with an heartstopping tendency to go missing. Her mother Beth, newly single, worries about her daughter’s strangeness, especially as she is trying to rebuild a life for the two of them on her own.

When she takes Carmel for an outing to a local festival, her worst fear is realised: Carmel disappears into the crowd. Unable to accept the possibility that her daughter might be gone for good, Beth embarks on a mission to find her. Meanwhile, Carmel begins an extraordinary and terrifying journey of her own. But do the real clues to Carmel’s disappearance lie in the otherworldly qualities her mother had only begun to guess at?

Oh dear. Oh dear me. I really wanted to enjoy this book as I’d heard good things about it from a couple of friends of mine. However the glowing reports I’d received sadly did not match up with my own opinion of this book, which I found a struggle to read. It was that bad.

Am I really the only person in the world that disliked this book? I’m looking through the reviews on Goodreads and the vast majority of them are far too positive, they really are.

This book is based on a tried and tested formula. That of a kidnapped child. Carmel is taken from her over anxious and paranoid mother at a festival by a strange man. One could argue that Beth’s (the mother) paranoia was justified as she does lose her daughter but the author takes this concept way too far.

The story flips back and forth between Beth and Carmel but towards the end of the book becomes woolly and ever harder to follow. How did this couple manage to get a girl with no ID and no passport into the States who have some of the most stringent immigration control laws in the world? It just doesn’t sound believable and that makes it a misnomer in what is supposed to be a believable story.

As the book goes on I get more and more turned off by the religious aspects of the story. Atheist and proud here. I found this story really rather difficult to swallow.

This book is labelled as a psychological thriller. Huh? In what alternate universe is that then? This book is about as much of a psychological tension filled thriller as I am a gold medal ice skater!

The ending is my biggest beef of the whole story though. It is so insubstantial and abrupt it leaves you with a sense of emptiness and feeling incomplete. This book left me feeling cold.

A one out of five star read.

Be kind to each other.x

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Book Review – The Secret – Katerina Diamond…

Can you keep a secret? Your life depends on it…

When Bridget Reid wakes up in a locked room, terrifying memories come flooding back – of blood, pain, and desperate fear. Her captor knows things she’s never told anyone. How can she escape someone who knows all of her secrets?

As DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles search for Bridget, they uncover a horrifying web of abuse, betrayal and murder right under their noses in Exeter.

And as the past comes back to haunt her, Grey must confront her own demons. Because she knows that it can be those closest to us who hurt us the most…

Wow. Just wow. This is Katerina Diamond’s second book, but the first one that I have read. Her writing style was a little difficult to get to grips with at first due to the way that the way her chapters jump back and that, for me, is a slightly difficult style to follow as for me, I worry about losing parts of the story. Fortunately that didn’t happen and I was able to thoroughly enjoy the whole story without losing any bits of it.

I’m a little bit in love with Imogen Grey. She has some way to go to prove herself to be in the same league as Kim Stone and Helen Grace, but I’m sure she’ll get there.

Diamond is a masterful suspense writer and able to create both evocative and dark suspenseful story arcs and also to keep the reader guessing about just who the bad guys really are until the very last pages.

I’m really not able to say much more about this book without blundering my way into some serious spoilers, so my advice is definitely just read it! It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a while.

A five out of five star read.

Be kind to each other.x

Book Review – The Missing – C.L Taylor…

You love your family. They make you feel safe. You trust them.

But should you…?

When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire, blames herself. She’s not the only one. There isn’t a single member of Billy’s family that doesn’t feel guilty. But the Wilkinsons are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn’t until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.

Claire is sure of two things – that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance.

A mother’s instinct is never wrong. Or is it?

Sometimes those closest to us are the ones with the most to hide…

I was really excited having just read and really enjoyed this author’s first foray into the world of young adult fiction to pick up this book and I really wasn’t disappointed. The book is very cleverly written and the use of Snapchat conversations at various points throughout the story was a really clever way to enhance the story being told to the reader.

Those conversations certainly kept me guessing right until very near to the end of the book! I was convinced it was 3 or 4 different people at various points throughout the whole story.

As Claire searches for her son Billy, it becomes clear that she didn’t really know her teenage son at all. Was that to be expected in the family dynamic? Who knows? One could say that we all change as we grow and we feel the need to be less open with our parents, having the need for our own lives. Or one could say that a truly close family will always know each other. *shrug* Who knows?

There were suspicious elements casting a shadow over several of the characters in this story and and at one time or another, they could all have had something to do with Billy’s disappearance. I can’t mention this one particular character as I don’t want to include spoilers in my review. But as I think back to the story, there were clear indicators that this person was hiding something very major.

The book discusses “hardcore” porn. I kind of wish that the writer had just used the correct term and said BDSM. However that is just a minor grumble.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be looking out for the writer’s other work.

A four out of five star review.

Be kind to each other.x

Book Review – I Kill – Giorgio Faletti…

The voice on the radio.
The writing, red as blood.
I kill . . .

A detective and an FBI agent embark upon the most harrowing case of their careers as they attempt to track down an enigmatic killer in this relentlessly suspenseful thriller. The killer announces his heinous acts in advance with desperate phone calls and ties his crimes together with songs that point to his victims; he then mutilates them and removes their faces.

Set in Monte Carlo and featuring an international cast of intriguing characters, the hunt for the deranged perpetrator remains gripping and unsettling, possibly even more so, after the killer’s identity is revealed and the detectives must close in on their target before he strikes again.

I had, for some weird reason, I have no idea why, a really sinking feeling when I picked this book up. It wasn’t the length of it. No, I’ve read many 500+ hours age books before. I just couldn’t nail down what it was. Then I started to read it. Oh dear…

By the time that I was 100 pages in, the book’s pace was so turgid and slow that I seriously felt like putting it in the charity box pile and saying goodbye to it. But I am stubborn. I do not like leaving books unfinished. It leaves me with a sense of dissatisfaction and unsettlement. So even though I can see me taking a long time to read this book I will get through it.

Well, so far, all I can say is that the book appears to be set in 2005 and it feels like it is set in the 1970s!!! Everything just feels dated. Even the murder of Allen Yoshida, the computer billionaire. *yawn* I’m beginning to think it’s going to take me longer than a little while to get this book finished I really am.

I’m now about 120 pages from the end and whilst there have been a couple of plot twists that did shock and sadden me a little bit, my mind just has not been able to wrap itself around the tedium involved in this story.

The two main protagonists, Nicolas Hulot and Frank Ottobre do not act like senior police officers with years and years of experience. OK, Frank could be excused up to a certain degree because of what had happened to him, but I honestly just wanted to reach through the pages and throat punch the both of them to see if that would shake some life into them.

It’s honestly a real shame as the story itself had the potential to be absolutely brilliant! But I just couldn’t get into it at all. This is very unusual for me as I can normally find at least two characters and a couple of threads of story line to give me hope. There was Barbara though. I identified with her very much for reasons of my own.

As the end of the book gets nearer, I’m discovering that I’m not excited to find out how it ends. I’m just excited for it to end. Isn’t that sad?

Now I’m really cross. I’ve just read a paragraph where Faletti mentions “Pagan idolatry” as being responsible for the evils committed by the “bad guy”. How DARE you Mr Faletti? Pagans are not evil and this continued misrepresentation by authors and by the press simply is not acceptable. Christians are capable of far greater evil the pagans ever have been!

Right, I’ve actually finished this awful excuse of a book. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that I have found as dreary and uninspiring as this one. At times it felt like the words were superglue and my eyes were constantly sticking and having to be dragged over the sentences. I am quite literally only giving this book one star because I can’t give it none. Do yourself a favour. Put it down and read something else instead.

A one out of five star read.

Be kind to each other.x

Book Review – Pretty Baby – Mary Kubica…

A chance encounter

She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can’t get the girl out of her head…

An act of kindness

Heidi has always been charitable but her family are horrified when she returns home with a young woman named Willow and her baby in tow. Dishevelled and homeless, this girl could be a criminal – or worse. But despite the family’s objections, Heidi offers them refuge.

A tangled web of lies

As Willow begins to get back on her feet, disturbing clues into her past starts to emerge. Now Heidi must question if her motives for helping the stranger are unselfish or rooted in her own failures.

Urgh. Just urgh. I really wanted to like this book, I really did. Hearing good things about the author made me excited to read it. Yet the writing style really put me off. From one character’s point of view it was present time and from the other two it was several days prior and it kept on jumping back and forth between the three characters which made the story difficult to follow.

The characters were all seriously irritating. Apart from Willow. For reasons of my own I empathise with her. Heidi I wanted to throat punch, I really did. That woman was way too goody goody and pure. Chris seemed to be a frustrated adulterer (I hate cheaters whether fictional or in real life) and Zoe was a brat who needed a good attitude adjustment.

The concept of the story was good, but it could have been so much more. There are parts that are achingly sad, but they are far outweighed and let down by the rest of the story.

I will give this writer kudos for bringing to the fore the topics of mental health and abuse as they are not nearly normalised enough in popular fiction. I just wish that there had been a trigger warning somewhere in the blurb. It took several days away from the book before I felt able to continue with it, but that’s just me.

I’m only able to give this book a two out of five star read.

Book Review – Pretty Is – Maggie Mitchell…

Lois and Carly-May were just twelve when they were abducted by a stranger and imprisoned in a cabin in the woods for two months. That summer, under the watchful gaze of their kidnapper, they formed a bond that would never be broken. Decades later, both women have new lives and identities. But the events of that summer are about to come back with a vengeance. Lois and Carly-May must face the truth about their secret, shared past… What really happened in the woods that summer?OK, I have to be brutally honest. I did not enjoy this book. Not even a little bit. I got three quarters of the way through and I came very close to putting it down. Mitchell’s first book has been described, amongst other things as “a slick take on a trope that just isn’t going away”. Sorry but no. I don’t see it as slick at all. The story judders along, jumping between the two protagonists both in current and past time. The whole thing is puzzled together and not at all what I was expecting.I honestly like my thrillers to be fast paced and to pick me up and whirl me along from the very first page and not put me down until the last. Pretty is just doesn’t do that.Both of the women were clearly in need of some very serious and intensive therapy but were both allowed to tumble along and present a functioning face to the world when they both needed a Psychiatrist and some very effective drugs.I just couldn’t get on with any of the characters at all. The villain of the piece just wasn’t very… villainous, and the way the book wound up just seemed so implausible. If you enjoyed this book, fair enough. It just wasn’t for me.A two out of five star book.Be kind to each other.x

Book Review – Joyfully His by Jamie Beck…

Folks in Sterling Canyon know that small towns have long memories. Two years after the DUI that injured a pedestrian, Andy Randall is still making amends. He hopes the Christmas spirit will help him get rehired as a ski instructor, but that job will come with conditions. He can’t afford another mistake, which is exactly what making a play for his former boss and friend, Nikki Steele, would be.

Nikki races down double black diamonds and hikes mountains better than most guys, unafraid of tumbling down the slopes. But trusting the guy who once shot her down could end in a fall that actually hurts, especially when she’d have to vouch for him with her boss. Still, the resort needs another instructor to handle the holiday tourists, and Andy’s sexy grin and relaxed charisma make him hard to resist.

With both of their reputations now on the line, can Andy convince Nikki that the second chance he wants isn’t only about the job?

Yes. It was that time again. I need the comfort of a good old soppy romance and as I had read and enjoyed the previous three books in the Sterling Canyon series, I wanted to read this novella just to see how things panned out.

Andy is the protagonist in this shorter story. It’s actually quite nice to see the story go to being from a male perspective from a change (the previous three books were all female led).

I must admit that I had thought he might one day end up with Emma, but by the end of book three, it is abundantly clear that that is not going to happen. So it was nice to see him given his (much shorter but still nice) love story.

It’s difficult to say a lot without giving the game away but it was a thoroughly enjoyable story and I was happy while reading it. I feel a bit sad to say goodbye to the Sterling Canyon characters as I built a fondness for them over the first three books.

I would definitely recommend that you read the series if you enjoy romance novels.

A four out of five star book.

Be kind to each other.x

Book Review – No Other Darkness (D.I Marnie Rome Book 2) – Sarah Hilary…

Two young boys.Trapped underground in a bunker.

Five years later, the boys’ bodies are found and the most difficult case of DI Marnie Rome’s career begins. She has to find out who they are and what happened to them. For no-one has reported them missing – and it seems she is the only person to care.

This book deals with the most shocking of all crimes… the possible torture and murder of two young children. The writer has handled it in a very sensitive way and built a story skilfully around a topic that is sad and disturbing. I have read some crime thrillers around the same topic that just sensationalise and are not layered or enjoyable in the slightest.

Marnie has definitely entered my collective of favourite fictional police women. D.I Kim Stone, D.I Helen Grace and now D.I Marnie Rome.

Marnie is again a multi-layered protagonist and as such, is able to convey her past into the work she does to understand certain aspects of this case.

I admire Marnie’s character a great deal. She isn’t as rule bending as my other two favourite fictional detectives but having a good working relationship with her seniors provides a different dynamic to the story.

It was gratifying to see post partum psychosis dealt with in such a way. It isn’t widely dealt with or known about and the way that this book sensitively deals with the subject is, for me, an excellent thing. The character of Esther was skilfully created and the way that she is juxtaposed with her new self is very cleverly done, it really is. Mental health is not dealt with enough in mainstream fiction and to see it done in such a skilful way really is gratifying.

Another thing that I love about the D.I Marnie Rome books is the character of Noah Jake. He is a person of colour and also a gay man. There are scenes between him and his partner that deal with arousal and kissing which I adore. This needs to be more prevalent in mainstream fiction and I applaud Ms. Hilary for doing this with her characters.

The story is very skilfully written and I adored every page of it. Bring on book three!

This is a definite five out of five star read.

Be kind to each other.x

Book Review – Unexpectedly Hers – Jamie Beck…

By day, bashful wallflower Emma Duffy works at her family’s bed-and-breakfast. By night, she secretly pens erotic romance hot enough to melt the snow in their cozy Rockies town.

But Emma’s real life is about to heat up when her mother books the entire inn to a professional snowboarder, hoping the publicity will put them on the map. In a karmic twist of fate, that guest is Wyatt Lawson, the man with whom Emma had shared the secret one-night stand that became the inspiration for her novel and its dreamy hero. Worse, a film crew is documenting his comeback just as her debut is about to hit the shelves. Emma’s only saving grace is that Wyatt doesn’t remember her—and hopefully he never will.

When Wyatt arrives in Sterling Canyon for several weeks of intense training, the last tumble he expects to take is falling for a girl, especially one as shy as Emma. Unlike groupies with their hidden agendas, she isn’t using him—or so he believes…until the film crew uncovers Emma’s pen name and steamy novel.

Wyatt’s comeback run can withstand a fall or two, but can his heart recover from this crash and burn?

I’ve grown really attached to the Sterling Canyon characters that Jamie Beck has created and feel a little sad that I only have one more book to read before the series is done. Anyway, enough being maudlin and on with the review.

This, like the other two before it is a really sweet book and there is an interesting balance between all of the lead characters. I was really pleased to see Emma in the limelight this time around. She deserved it so much!

She is a sweet, shy woman and lived for way too long in her mother’s shadow. Seeing the way that Ms Beck writes her into being a stronger and more independent woman was really gratifying.

This book was finished in a couple of nights and is perfect for curling up with a box of chocolate with.

A four out of five star read.

Be kind to each other.x

Book Review – Secretly Hers – Jamie Beck…

On her thirty-first birthday, hopeless romantic Kelsey Callihan has all but given up on happily ever afters, which is why she agrees to a risqué proposition from Sterling Canyon’s notorious playboy, backcountry skier Trip Lexington. After all, every girl needs a little fun, and with Trip, there are no mixed signals or risks of a broken heart. And if his tips can help her land a husband in the process, all the better.

Trip couldn’t be happier with his secret, no-strings fling with sweet and sexy Kelsey until she calls it quits after meeting a man she believes could share her dream of marriage and family. His jealousy turns to outrage when he discovers that the man is his estranged half brother and lifelong rival.

Now Trip must decide whether the fire in his gut is due to sibling rivalry or something much more dangerous…like love.

Here I am into another foray into the wonderful world of beautiful, soft and gentle literary cotton wool. After reading a couple of non fiction books and then having some serious sinusitis that left me neither wanting to blog nor read, I did neither. However, I have this book to review as well as others so I shall get on with it. I loved this book. It’s the second of the Sterling Canyon series and the second of the three female friends, Avery, Kelsey and Emma is the lead female protagonist in this book.

Kelsey was pictured in the last book as a hopeless romantic and was nicknamed “boomerang” by Grey, Avery’s partner when she was chasing after him. Trip, the main male character joined in with it which does come back to bite him on the ass at one stage but I will say no more than that as I don’t want to add any spoilers to this review at all about any of these books.

You can almost see the heartache waiting to happen at first, but you realise as the pages turn that there is more to this story than a no strings attached sex kind of thing. Kelsey displays fortitude and bravery in this story and proves herself to be much more than the book initially paints her to be. Trip also shows a side to his personality which is more than the town Casanova.

It is very difficult to say much more about this story without major spoilers but if you like Jamie Beck and these books then you will really enjoy this story. I give it a four out of five star read. Enjoy the book.

Be kind to each other.x