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

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 – The Treatment – C.L Taylor…

“You have to help me. We’re not being reformed. We’re being brainwashed.”

All sixteen year old Drew Finch wants is to be left alone. She’s not interested in spending time with her mum and stepdad and when her disruptive fifteen year old brother Mason is expelled from school for the third time and sent to a residential reform academy she’s almost relieved.

Everything changes when she’s followed home from school by the mysterious Dr Cobey, who claims to have a message from Mason. There is something sinister about the ‘treatment’ he is undergoing. The school is changing people.

Determined to help her brother, Drew must infiltrate the Academy and unearth its deepest, darkest secrets.

Before it’s too late…

Absolutely bloody brilliant! Just wow! I had read a couple of books that really didn’t float my boat recently so it was awesome to pick up a book that gripped me from the very beginning. We start out by discovering our main protagonist, Drew is being victimised by a gang of girls in school. My heart went out to her straight away as I know exactly how this feels. The whole way through my school years, I was bullied too. It is nice to see a Young Adult book in which the bully actually fights back. I can’t say too much here as I don’t want to give out any spoilers, but there’s a desire to fist punch the air and shout “Yes!” when she does fight back.

Drew is overwhelmed by the apparent task facing her and she does not shy away from it. Once she has the information she needs, she makes an incredibly brace decision that will alter the course of her life and it gets her in to The Academy, where her brother is being held.

Drew’s character is one of great strength. Despite all of the bullying she has to put up with, she never loses her sense of strength and displays her sheer selflessness as she gets herself put into The Academy. There were stages at first where I wanted to give her a bit of a shake and tell her to grow some balls, but that was only in the very early stages of the book.

As the story progresses on, we begin to see exactly what strength, bravery and ingenuity Drew possesses as she is constantly plotting and planning to find a way out.

She forms a touching friendship with one of the girls in her dorm, Mouse (also known as Megan) and their interaction throughout the book just goes to show that lasting friendships can endure through the strangest of circumstances.

The thing about this book that scares me is that I could 100% see this happening to both children and adults who refuse to toe the line. There are shades of 1984 and of the Orwellian future laid out in that book.

The majority of the characters within this book prove themselves to be throughly unlikable sleazy and devious scum bags. Again if I were to say more, I would be chucking out spoilers. There are one or two good characters, one of which will come as a hell of a shock.

I can’t praise this book enough, I really can’t. A well crafted and suspense filled story that shows how we can never be too sure of what we are told…

A five out of five star read!

Be kind to each other.x

Unboxing & Review of my Doki Doki box – June ’18…

I’m always happy to see this box arrive. It is a big toss up between kawaii box and the DokiDoki crate. They both have such utterly gorgeous things inside them and I always do my best to show them off and describe them adequately and hope I manage to get across just how cute they all are.

First out of the box is an awesome “bottle sock”. They are all the rage in Japan, meaning you can hold your cold drink without getting your hands all wet and cold. The one I got had mini Mt Fujis on it.

Next up was a super cute Sumikkogurashi cooler pad. This one you keep in either the fridge or the freezer before taking it to keep whatever you need cold.

Then comes a slim Rilakkuma glass. This glass is half frosted and has the image of two super cute little bears on it.

Next was a yellow see through PVC bag with the cute kawaii dog PomPomPurin on it. I adore this, I think it was my favourite of all.

Then came a Shiba Inu towel. Compared to the size of Western towels, its thin and long, but it has some very cute dog pictures on it. The towel was so long, I had to photograph it in two sections.

Well, as always, a super cute box and I loved everything. I chose to gift the glass to a very close friend of mine because I hoped it would cheer her up.

This is another five out of five star box.

Be kind to each other.x

Unboxing & Reviewing of my Treatbox – June ’18…

As always, I’m excited to receive a subscription box. As I’m relatively new to Treatbox compared to other subscription box companies, I’m still getting used to them and deciding whether or not to keep this one going.

The box arrived and it was beautifully wrapped as usual.

The first treat out of the box is a print out calendar for the month of June. Forgive me, even though it has my favourite flowers on it, sunflowers, I just don’t see the point of doing this. Everyone I know has calendar of their own or a diary. This just seems to be a waste of paper.

Next out is cute picture of four different flowers saying “Bloom where you are planted” I love that!

Then we have a gorgeous smelling tube of “Hello Sunshine” hand cream. It’s nice, but sadly won’t persuade me away from my Lush hand cream, whom I am PROUD to say I’m still a customer of!

Next comes a super cute pack of ten small citrusy smelling wipes. They fit into pretty much any bag!

Then we get a fabulous pack of seeds of my most favourite flowers in the whole world ever – sunflowers! 😍😍😍

Next there is a cute wall plaque that could be hung next to the back door. “In our back garden we plant dreams and grow miracles”.

Then we get a super cute pair of slanted tweezers. I needed to pluck my eyebrows so out they came and away I went!

Next was an adorable little sunflower charm that is on a cotton strand. The theory is that you make a wish as the bracelet is tied around your wrist and when the cord breaks, the wish comes true.

Then comes a big A4 pad that had meal planner sections and a shopping list next to it so you can make informed choices about your food choices. This is not really for me so the manshape will use it for waste paper.

Whilst there are some super items inside this box, I’m disappointed by the overall wastage of paper in this box which leaves me able to only leave a review of 3 out of 5 stars.

Be kind to each other.x

Unboxing & Reviewing of my Kawaii Box Subscription Box – June ’18…

As always this box is super cute and I’m super excited to open it up and delve inside. It’s cuteness overload before you even start looking!

First out of the box is a packet or little round Hello Kitty strawberry marshmallows. I’m not a massive fan of the taste of artificial strawberry sweets but I’m sure my youngest will enjoy them.

Next comes a brilliant panda bento rice mould. A bento box is like a layered lunch box. This kit enables you to make super cute panda shaped rice balls.

Next comes a silicone blue bunny head drinks mat. Always have a use for those.

Then we have a packet of Sumikko Gurashi deco stickers. This literally translates as “hiding in a corner” and the characters are shy, just like many Japanese people.

Next up we get something that made me super happy! A Moomin note paper set. Oh I loved it! I adore anything Moomin!

Then comes a pink neko (Japanese for cat) ears headband which I love. It’s ideal for when I want to put on a face mask!

Next comes a common type of toy in kawaii – a squishy. This particular squishy is a salmon sushi squishy and it is so super cute!

Then there is a kawaii hamster soft bag charm. It looks awesome clipped to your bag.

Next we have a kawaii drinking straw pen. This is a combination which I have never seen before. Honestly, never!

Then last of all out come a packet of Precure grape gummies. Precure is a super popular Japanese “magical girl”anime series. These gummies are shaped like characters.

A definite five out of five star box as usual.

Be kind to each other.x

Unboxing & Review of my Boxcitement Subscription Box – May ’18…

I was super happy when my box arrived. I always look forward to my Boxcitement box as they put everything that they have in to each and every box that they put out. They really do. The theme of this box is “Mono Dramatic”.

First item out of the box was a book mark that was black and white with a simple image of pebbles on it. I was in need of a new book mark, so that was good timing!

Next was a gorgeous white gemstone chip bracelet that has three inter changeable charms on it. You can remove them all and switch around which one you wear or you can wear all three at once if you like.

Then came a unique and novel item called a key keeper. It is in the shape of a large white key and you are supposed to clip your spare keys to it and not lose them in your drawer. I tend to keep all my keys on a key hanger so I will gift this to somebody.

Next out came a small compact mirror with geometric shapes on the back. Again I already have a compact so this will be gifted to someone.

Then came a cute little pencil eraser with the word “Oooooops” on it. Always handy!

Next came a set of three large black and white paper clips.

Then there is a stunning couple of black on white card drawings of a zebra and a cat like people. I’m building up a really good selection of cards, I love it!

Next there is a really gorgeous black and white photo of budding blossom on a tree branch in a white cardboard frame, which will definitely be going on my wall.

Last of all, we have a chunky black notebook with the legend bright ideas on the front. A stationery addict can never have enough notebooks!

A brilliantly put together box as always and a huge thank you to the Boxcitement team! As always, five out of five stars!

Be kind to each other!

Unboxing & Review of My Purrfect Gift Box – May ’18…

Yay!!! My favourite time of the month when the mother of all subscription boxes arrives. I honestly have to say, that as a card carrying crazy cat lady, this is my favourite box of all!

As always, the box is both beautifully wrapped and presented. The theme this month is “Mew York, Mew York!”

The first gift that I encounter is a really gorgeous and unusual letter art picture spelling out the word CAT. All three pictures that make up the picture are genuine New York landmarks! It’s already up on my wall.

Next is a really stunning “tea towel” that says “New York Cats” at the top and includes twelve different illustrations of Olga Angelloz’s fashion forward cats. No way am I messing this up as a tea towel. It’s too good! It’s going on my wall next to my cat picture it really is! It’s difficult to take pictures of it since it is so big, but I tried to get one of the cats. All twelve are different.

Then comes a pack of two cards featuring bodega cats. For those of you who do not know, a bodega is a local corner shop. Cats traditionally live there in return for keeping rats at bay.

Finally is perhaps the most awesome gift in the box. The book “Felines of New York” was the inspiration for this box. There are more than 100 pictures of kitties in various poses, often with hilarious comments to accompany them. If you want to get a cat lover a birthday gift, this would be the perfect thing!

As always a fabulous five out of five star box! Thank you so much My Purrfect Gift Box – yet again you have smashed it! I love it all so much!

Be kind to each other.x