Friday 29 August 2014 0 comments
I'm excited to be taking part in NetGalley Month in September with some other fantastic bloggers. The month is being hosted by Chicks That Read who has some exciting things planned so be sure to check out her website for more information. I am simply going to be hopefully reading and reviewing the books on my shelf and getting my score to 100%. Here's how it currently looks:

The books I'm hoping to get through are:

Some pretty exciting looking books there so I'm sure the challenge will be more enjoyable than a chore... Follow my Twitter to see how I get on!

Guest Post: Adventures in Foreign Parts by Barbara Nadel

I'm excited today to share a fantastic piece written by Barbara Nadel. I recently read and reviewed her latest book Body Count which you can read here and I'm hoping to get round to reading some of the books of hers that I've missed very soon! I really enjoyed reading the guest post, it's a fascinating read so hope you enjoy too.

Adventures in Foreign Parts

Writing a long series of books set in a foreign country can lead the author into some odd scenarios. I’ve been writing about Cetin Ikmen and Mehmet Suleyman and ‘their’ Turkey for about fifteen years now and so I’ve seen a thing or two in my time. And as well as conducting research in Turkey I’ve also been to the USA with, as it were, Ikmen and Suleyman.

All these visits are research trips. Of course I do get to see friends and relatives too sometimes but I do have to be, for the most part, focussed on my job. Often this can get weird.

A few years ago I wanted to know more about the Turkish carpet trade and so I enlisted the help of my carpet dealer friends, Ruth and Faruk. Although based in Cappadocia every year they do a series of educational sessions for carpet collectors in Istanbul and so I went along with them on one of those. What Ruth in particular doesn’t know about carpets really isn’t worth knowing and so we were booked to go to the gated community home of some very high powered diplomats and their friends in the Belgrade Forest. This area, about 15 kilometres north west of the city is not the easiest place to get to and none of us were accustomed to the crazy Istanbul ring roads. Crammed in the van with Ruth, Faruk, Huseyin, the labourer, and thousands of dollars worth of carpets, how we arrived alive is still a mystery. I think my eyes were closed for most of the time. Turkish traffic at its finest – any old trip may be your last. But luckily it wasn’t Ramazan and so people weren’t dashing to get home to eat after a day’s fasting.

I’d never been in a gated community before. It was spooky. The carpet buyers were charming, lovely people but the area they lived in was strange. Unlike most Turkish towns, this place was silent, nobody was about and the local shop sold marmalade from Harrods. And no local bread. And there were security guards, who were armed, everywhere. Whenever they looked at me I had to make the effort not to assume a stress position.

Fortunately for me I wasn’t in Istanbul back in 2003 when the al Qaeda bombs went off at the British Consulate, the HSBC Bank and the Neve Salom synagogue. I was staying in a friend’s cave house in Cappadocia but my son and my mother were transiting Istanbul and so it was a tense time. The worst ‘terror’ alert I ever had was in the far south eastern city of Mardin when we were told that Hezbollah were in the area, cutting off the heads of those they didn’t like. Turkey isn’t strictly the ‘Middle East’ but it was once, in its incarnation as the Ottoman Empire, the owner of it. So when you get to borders, things can get hairy sometimes and Mardin is very close to Syria.

Sometimes, not often, I want to go to places that I’ve been told I shouldn’t. However because this is Turkey, which is essentially a very welcoming country, unless we’re talking military zones, you can usually get away with a lot. I find that the slightly batty, confused foreigner thing can get me into a lot of places while, at the other end of the scale, knowing the right people just works miracles. Some years ago I wanted to get into one of the great Istanbul hotels and for 18 months I chatted up everyone in the hotel I could think of. To no avail. That was until a friend of mine suggested to a friend of hers, who comes from a prominent local family, that he might like to help me. Within the day I had access to all areas, a bed for the night and all I had to do in return was talk to a reading group about my books.

Gone are the days when I could flutter my lashes at someone and get my own way. I never did much of that anyway - except once when I wanted a policeman to lower me into an ancient cistern. But when the skin around your eyes looks crocodilian it becomes impossible. That said I did, not so many years ago, find myself the subject of some unwanted staring in a shower cubicle in the far east of the country. Also Turkey does have scorpions who don’t care what you look like and in Mardin, snakes. I was a bit perturbed when I found that my hotel room in that city had mice until a local told me that mice were a good sign. Mice mean that it isn’t snake season.

It’s widely acknowledged that British people need a lot of personal space. The London Underground is a challenge to us all but we deal with it by looking at the ceiling a lot, not smiling and pretending we’re too cool to exist anywhere but inside our own bubble. Once off the train we get as far away from other people as we can. Turks are different. They like to mingle. Old ladies will happily give you boiled sweets they keep inside their bras and bus and tram rides are just chances to get to know complete strangers more than you (the wretched British person) really want to. You have to learn not to panic in confined spaces, forget how to queue and not treat everyone who talks to you like you think he might possibly be the reincarnation of Jack the Ripper.

However because I’m so used to Turkey now, I do take most things in my stride. It’s whenever I go elsewhere that things get challenging. A few years ago I ‘took’ Ikmen and Suleyman to Detroit in the USA. I had planned on setting a book featuring my boys in the deep south, but then a story from Motown came to light and so I opted for Michigan. My troubles began as soon as my plane landed in Philadelphia. While queuing up to pass through immigration, I was asked whether I had an ‘implant’. I didn’t know what that was but I did own up to having metal plates and nails in my right leg. That is apparently an implant and so I was taken to one side and made to wait an inordinate length of time while they scanned my leg, presumably for weapons. Another set of immigration bods once scanned my flip flops which did make me want to say ‘look if I can get a bomb in a flip flop then I am a fucking genius and you should be afraid!’ But I didn’t. Those people have no sense of humour and handcuffs. Not a good combination.

Detroit is what is known as a ‘failing city’. It is bankrupt, a lot of it is derelict and the crime rate is sky high. But it has a fascinating history that encompasses music, industry and civil rights. And it was racial issues, particularly amongst the auto workers from the southern states that I wanted to research. While in Detroit, Ikmen and Suleyman were going to uncover an old crime that had its roots in race. But I had to see the city and that wasn’t straightforward. What I needed to do was contact people who knew the places I wanted to go to and take me with them. Places like the old Packard Plant can just be walked into but they are full of scrappers, many of whom are on crack and so wandering alone – especially with a camera – isn’t a good idea.

So before I left the UK I put a request for help up on a Detroit city forum and people just flocked to give me a hand. I was shown churches next door to waste treatment plants, ornate, but empty skyscrapers that could easily rival those in New York, abandoned railway stations, schools, theatres, mansions and crack houses. My escorts ranged from enthusiastic local historians to tough guy drug addicts and because I got stuck in, followed them into mad places and actually had a ball, we got on.

It could have ended differently. The ruins of Detroit are, in places, full of gang members wanting to shake down or even kill the unwary. It’s a poor city, people are fighting to feed themselves, their families and sometimes their addictions too. I don’t blame them, but you as an outsider, have to take care and you have to show respect.

And I suppose that sums up what I feel about doing research in someone else’s country. Respect. Show it and you’ll make friends, get help and when something goes wrong you’ll always have an ally. That’s important when you’re 2,000 miles away from home, have had your credit card swallowed by a cash point machine and need the toilet. Believe me.

Review: Hunter Killer by Chris Ryan (4/5)

Thursday 28 August 2014 0 comments
Following a suicide bombing in central London, series SAS hero Danny Black is recruited to be part of an assassination squad, directed by a joint MI5/MI6/CIA committee and tasked with hunting down and killing the terrorist cells believed to be planning further atrocities.

Early leads take them to a North London mosque and a one-armed hate cleric, whom the Home Secretary repeatedly tries and fails to expel from the country, a sleazy Saudi prince living in a Park Lane Hotel - on the surface a devout Muslim, he devotes himself to booze, drugs and hookers as soon as his family are out of the building - and a grizzled ex-Regiment guy who is spreading rumours that Diana was assassinated by the SAS in the tunnel in Paris because of her Arab lover.

The trail of clues takes Danny to a training camp in the Yemen, but just as he has the enemy in his sights, he discovers that they are somehow one step ahead of him, and he begins to suspect that they are being topped off by someone close to home.

Review: Deliver Us To Dublin... With Care by Aimée Duffy (4/5)

Part 7 of Summer Flings – a fun, flirty and laugh out loud Rom-Com series of short stories.

Miserable, lonely and broken hearted, Ciara returns to Dublin on a mission to sort out her life. A job is at the top of the list but a visit to the doctor has surprising repercussions.

She refuses to drift apart from her friends now that real life has begun, struggles to fit in new relationships and still has to deal with everything else fate throws her way.

But even Ciara should know that there’s always something a little bit special to be found at the end of the rainbow…

The ideal summer treat for those relaxing days soaking up the sun!

Hall of Fame Review: The Winter Foundlings by Kate Rhodes (5/5)

Tuesday 26 August 2014 0 comments
The girl's body lay on the steps of the Foundling Museum. She was dressed all in white, and tagged with the number 12.
Britain's most prolific child killer, Louis Kinsella, murdered nine children before he was caught and locked away for life in Northwood high-security hospital. 

Now someone is carrying on his work. Four girls have disappeared in North London. Three are already dead...

Psychologist Alice Quentin is working at Northwood, hoping for space and time away from her hectic London life. But she'll do anything to save a child's life - even if it means sitting down with a charismatic, ruthless killer and putting herself in greater danger than ever before.

Review: Flirting In Florence by Aimée Duffy (5/5)

Sunday 24 August 2014 0 comments
Part 6 of Summer Flings – a fun, flirty and laugh out loud Rom-Com series of short stories.

Instead of hitting the designer shops with her friends, Ciara’s all about proving Florence can be enjoyed on a budget – and she isn’t talking about the sexy Italians Elle and Gem pick up for the duration.

One-on-one with Zack is getting too intense so she plans a grape-squishing trip to a vineyard hoping to leave her problems back in the city.

Of course her doomed affair is the least of her worries when her friendship with his cousin is on the line.

The ideal summer treat for those relaxing days soaking up the sun!

OMG that ending! I imagine the wait for Deliver Us To Dublin is going to be torture. Part of me wishes this had been released as a full length novel yet releasing them in parts was a very, very good idea. The covers and titles are fantastic but also because the books can end on a cliffhanger meaning the reader is almost guaranteed to return. 

As this is the penultimate book in the series it's getting harder to review for two reasons. One because I'm just repeating myself by saying how good the series is (but it really is). Aimée has managed to make each book better and more addictive than the last and two because if you haven't read the previous books it's hard to discuss the story too much without giving it away (but don't read on if you haven't). 

Ciara and Zack in Florence are almost like an actual couple. They have amazing sex, share the same interests and are literally just perfect for each other except Ciara seems to have some issues which have been alluded to in previous books but it's only in this book that we fully find out what they are. Events lead towards a dramatic conclusion, two arguments and a cliffhanger that leaves you wanting the next installment right away. 

I've said all along I've had an idea how the series will end but that Aimée would throw in some shocks before the conclusion and she definitely has. I was particularly annoyed at Elle's behaviour in this book and found her to be a bit annoying. Her and Gem have been good in the background but I'm hoping Deliver Us To Dublin is heavily focused on Ciara and Zack and will it get the ending I'm wanting? I can't wait to find out!

Buy from Amazon

Review: Ibiza Insanity by Aimée Duffy (4/5)

Thursday 21 August 2014 0 comments
Part 5 of Summer Flings – a fun, flirty and laugh out loud Rom-Com series of short stories.

After their not-so-relaxing week in the sun, the girls are off to the clubbing capitol of the world to let off some steam.

Skater boys, Ibiza’s Next Top Model competition and skimpy gold bikini’s don’t compare to the man Ciara’s desperate to cheer up. She’s beginning to realize her summer fling isn’t as uncomplicated as it should be.

To make things worse, she finds out that her best friends are keeping secrets from her that could change everything.

The ideal summer treat for those relaxing days soaking up the sun!

These books are fun, flirty and full of graphic and very hot sex that would get a Nun going but the past two especially have been a bit more serious, and Ibiza Insanity was probably the one that developed the story most, especially Ciara and Zack's. Considering they are so short and I'm reading them in less than half an hour it's crazy how Aimée manages to cram in so much detail and character development in that space of time. Nothing ever feels too rushed like some short stories can and they always end leaving you desperate to read the next one. 

If I'm honest I'm at the point now where it's Ciara and Zack's story I care about most and the focus was mostly on them throughout the book. Gem and Elle are good secondary characters and add a bit of depth to the story but I could take them or leave them. This time around the girls are in Ibiza, the party capital of the world and are out to have fun but as with the previous installments you are left wondering what is going to come along to throw a spanner in the works... It's getting harder to review the books now without giving stuff away but they are very addictive and are over far too soon for my liking.

Zack turns up in a bad mood as he's received an ultimatum from his rich grandad. Ciara is also down because she doesn't know what to do with her life, her friends are moving back home and her life is changing faster than she would like it to. However Ciara has an idea or two of how to make Zack feel better... Given the ultimatum and Ciara questioning her future I'm pretty confident of how the series is going to conclude but I'm thinking there may be a few surprises left yet before we eventually reach Dublin. I'm actually going to be pretty gutted when the series is over, it's been a lot of fun so far and I can't recommend it enough. 

Buy from Amazon
Pre-order Flirting in Florence 

Review: Gaz (and My Parsnip) by Gary Beadle (5/5)

Wednesday 20 August 2014 0 comments
In 2011, loveable ladies magnet Gary Beadle was jobless and down to his last £20 when he was randomly asked to be in a reality TV show called Geordie Shore. He'd never heard of its American predecessor, Jersey Shore, but with his only prospects being his next dole cheque - and swayed by the offer of free booze - he signed himself up for the challenge. He could never have anticipated the insane new life he was about to lead.
From a shy youngster at school, who was the captain of his football team, Gary also never expected the effect he would have on the British public - especially its women. After leaving school at 16, Gary fell into a variety of jobs, even having a brief spell in the Royal Marines. Unfortunately, nothing stuck and, by the time he reached 22, he hadn't a clue what to do next - until the night he was asked to join the cast of MTV's Geordie Shore.
Now, for the first time, Gary reveals what growing up in his native Newcastle was like, explains his winning luck with the ladies, and offers up his much sought after tips on how to bag a bird on a night out: something he's proved he's pretty much an expert at. From job-hunting to making public appearances in front of thousands of screaming girls, Gary is secretly amazed by the change in his fortunes. He may be known for his crazy, fun-loving nature, but there's much more to Gary than girls, booze and nights out. And it's all packed into this - his autobiography.
I'm sure there's only a few people in the UK unaware of Geordie Shore and those that are aware of it probably have an opinion on it. Personally I love the show and the people on it. I recently read Vicky's autobiography and that was a complete eye opener. After reading Gaz's I can only say the same, what he has achieved from just appearing on a TV show drinking and having sex is incredible. A clothing range, a shop, owns a Ferrari, a nightclub in Zante, fitness products, the list goes on and this is all from appearing on Geordie Shore. Crazy. 

I loved reading about Gaz growing up, especially when he was in school. He was a right little tearaway but at the same time still got the results. His teenage years were certainly eventful with the possibility of playing for Newcastle to joining the Marines his life could have went in so many different directions but it seems fate was only going to lead him to one point... That is of course Geordie Shore and it was interesting to read about how the show came about and what went on after having read Vicky's book from someone else that had went through it too. I can definitely relate to Gaz in not knowing what to do with my life or where it's going to go but unfortunately I don't think there's a producer waiting in the wings to come and change my life... 

There is some behind the scenes gossip and some secrets revealed but nothing too shocking, it's essentially just the seasons recapped from Gaz's POV which plenty of details about his conquests throughout. He also speaks with honesty about Charlotte and how much he cares about her but anyone watching the show knows he never promised anything yet always comes out looking the bad guy. He does after all play a character or a 'role' as each of the housemates do but underneath it all is a decent lad who has been brought up well but is living a life most of us can only dream about.

I thought the target audience for this book would be girls but the book contains at the end of each chapter Parsnip Pointers which gives lads tips on everything from pulling a girl on holiday to achieving the holy grail: a threesome. Gaz has literally given out all his best tips but to be honest I think girls love him too much to take any offence whilst reading it, they do throw themselves at him after all... For that reason the book does appeal to both males and females. Ultimately it was a very enjoyable read and a good way for Gaz to get his side of the story across as and at the end of the day he gets the last laugh over the haters as he's loaded and only seems to get more successful as the seasons go on.

Review: Don't Look Back by Gregg Hurwitz (4/5)

Monday 18 August 2014 0 comments
Eve Hardaway, newly single mother of one, is on a trip she’s long dreamed of—a rafting and hiking tour through the jungles and mountains of Oaxaca, in southern Mexico. Eve wanders off the trail, to a house in the distance with a menacing man in the yard beyond it, throwing machetes at a human-shaped target. Disturbed by the sight, Eve moves quickly and quietly back to her group, taking care to avoid being seen. As she creeps along, she finds a broken digital camera, marked with the name Teresa Hamilton. Later that night, in a rarely used tourist cabin, she finds a discarded prescription bottle—also with the name Teresa Hamilton. From the camera’s memory card, Eve discovers Teresa Hamilton took a photo of that same menacing looking man in the woods. Teresa Hamilton has since disappeared.

Now the man in the woods is after whoever was snooping around his house. With a violent past and deadly mission, he will do anything to avoid being discovered. A major storm wipes out the roads and all communication with the outside world. Now the tour group is trapped in the jungle with a dangerous predator with a secret to protect. With her only resource her determination to live, Eve must fight a dangerous foe and survive against incredible odds—if she's to make it back home alive. 

Confession time: This is my first Gregg Hurwitz novel. I know, I know, how is that possible? I've had his books on my TBR for a while I've just never got round to them. That is a mistake I will hopefully be rectifying in the near future as I really enjoyed this book. It had almost a horror story feel to it in the opening pages especially as we read about a woman being captured by a rather scary individual and then meet Eve as she witnesses said individual throwing knives at the woman. Eve is on a rafting and hiking tour with a bunch of strangers, it was a planned trip with her husband until they separated. In the beginning I felt it was a bit rushed, we had only just met Eve and then we were reading about her marriage breakdown and you couldn't really sympathise because you didn't know her that well.

With books like these I always hope they will be written well and almost feel like a movie rather than a book and Don't Look Back definitely did. Hugely atmospheric, quite scary in places yet thrilling in others it was insanely gripping and incredibly difficult to put down. It's action packed and the scenes created are just amazing. Part of you wants to look away and hide and yet the other just can't read quick enough. To elabroate further than what the already quite revealing blurb tells us would of course ruin the reading experience but the man in the woods is certainly the stuff of nightmares and not somebody you would want hunting you through the jungle with murder on his mind. Despite the fact it took me a while to like the character of Eve once I did I was really rooting for her throughout the book.

The last section of the book is where the action really picks up (as is usually the case) and before you know it the book is over. Ultimately it has left me feeling excited at being able to go back and read Hurwitz's other novels which I will be hoping to do soon. From other reviews it seems this could be a bit of a Marmite book yet I enjoyed it immensely and have no trouble recommending it to people looking for a gripping thriller to read this Summer.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the NetGalley review copy!

Hall of Fame Review: Nothing But The Truth by Vicky Pattison (5/5)

Sunday 17 August 2014 0 comments
Vicky Pattison always had big dreams, but four years ago she was working in a call centre in Newcastle and those dreams looked like they might never come true. Could a new reality series, Geordie Shore, be the big break she had been waiting for? Chosen from among thousands of hopefuls to take part in the controversial show, outspoken and outrageous Vicky was an immediate hit. Finally she was on her way to becoming a star . . .

Living your life on screen isn't always easy, however, and Vicky soon found herself struggling to cope: her relationship was toxic, her weight ballooning and her self-esteem in tatters. It looked like the glamorous and confident Vicky Pattison everyone knew was gone for good.

But you can't keep a good Geordie girl down and now, for the first time, Vicky will reveal how she has turned her life around - and dish the dirt on what really goes on in the Geordie Shore house.

And Vicky's not afraid to turn the spotlight on herself, exposing the sensitive soul underneath her famously tough exterior and speaking frankly about her battle with her weight, her run-ins with the law and the painful truth about her tempestuous relationship with castmate Ricci.

It's time for Vicky Pattison to tell the truth, the whole truth and NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH.

I've been excited for this book ever since it was announced so was very happy to get my hands on a review copy. Vicky Pattison is known for her brutal honesty and killer put downs I really hoped this book would live up to its blurb. Well, it did and then some. Ultimately it has made me an even bigger fan and made me respect Vicky more and see her in a completely different light. 

I loved reading about Vicky before she became famous especially the chapters surrounding her time at university in Liverpool and how she very nearly gave up because of how lonely she felt. I could definitely relate to her here, unfortunately my time at university didn't have the happy ending that hers had but I loved the fact she came to study in Liverpool. Geordies and Scousers are very similar so it was the perfect place for her to study. I'm assuming some people might be shocked that Vicky actually did well at school never mind has a degree, I loved that she was popular but friends with the 'geeks' too and that she wasn't afraid to say no to acting like an idiot in school. Young girls reading this book should take that advice and aspire to do well. A few years messing round with 'friends' you probably won't see when school is over isn't worth a lifetime of misery.

There is plenty of insider gossip into how Geordie Shore works which I enjoyed reading. We know it's the most realistic out of all the reality TV shows given that it isn't scripted and the cast are pretty much given free reign but it's quite twisted the way some things are done and whilst we see them getting drunk, arguing but ultimately looking like they are having an amazing time we don't really sit back and think about how it's effecting them emotionally. People automatically think fame and money brings you happiness but if anything it's the opposite here. Vicky was unhappy before she went into Geordie Shore, worrying about the future and saw it as a lifeline in a way but it was what happened when she got into the house that could have destroyed her. I think we all know what (or who) that was. Vicky speaks about her relationship with Ricci with searing honesty. It's no secret that their relationship was toxic. It was uncomfortable to watch and the chapters surrounding that weren't nice to read. That relationship could have ruined both her life and her career but luckily it didn't.

Vicky is very open and honest about everything she talks about, she takes the blame for things she has done wrong and the book is definitely a warts and all account of her life and not just the bits she wants us to read. Her battle with weight especially, she now looks the best she has ever looked and she's definitely an inspiration to women everywhere given the success of her DVD. As someone that has struggled with weight over the years and with comments from idiots in the real world it's no surprise to read about the abuse she got on Twitter, something about a keyboard brings out the worst in people and it's not nice.

Vicky definitely gets the last laugh though over Ricci, the Keyboard Warriors and anyone who has ever slagged her off in the past. I loved this section of the book and wish I had the courage to live my life like this: 'I believe in life you have to have the courage of your convictions and if you believe what you're doing is right then go with it and fuck everyone else'. I've spent much of my life wanting acceptance from others and worrying what they think yet Vicky shows at the end of the day the opinions of people you don't care for and don't care for you are worthless. Fans of Vicky and Geordie Shore will love this book and those with a negative opinion about Vicky or the show could read it and change their opinions.

Review: Geeks Go Greek by Aimée Duffy (4/5)

Part 4 of Summer Flings – a fun, flirty and laugh out loud Rom-Com series of short stories.

Who needs fun when you can lie in an impressive house in Santorini all week being pampered in every way possible? 

Ciara does. 

After an unfortunate wardrobe faux par, challenging her friends to jet ski racing, and hooking up with an unexpected visitor, Ciara’s all about sex on the beach, the yacht, the sea – wherever and whenever really and she’s not alone. It’s the perfect fling in theory, but what happens when their Greek adventure comes to an end?

The ideal summer treat for those relaxing days soaking up the sun!

I am loving this series and Geeks Go Greek is one of the ones I was most looking forward to reading because I just love the Mediterranean. I would've preferred Cyprus but still the descriptions of Greece were amazing and it was almost like being there except sadly, I wasn't! That said I'm loving following the girls around the world and having my own little holidays whilst being sat at home. 

I found this installment to be a little bit more relaxed than the previous ones. The girls have had their fair share of unlucky situations in LA, Miami and Paris and Greece was a lot of fun for them. In this installment I felt we got to see a lot more of each of the girls' personalities coming through. At book four it really feels like we know them and actually care for them rather than them just being fictional characters. These shorts are fun filled and comedic but at the same time quite touching and serious in places too.

Of course the book wouldn't be complete without the appearance of Zack who manages to turn up in Greece. Once again you are left practically screaming for him and Ciara to get together. I thought in this one they actually felt and acted like an actual couple, it never felt forced or rushed, but just right. Greece is known for its heat and well, the heat in this book was definitely turned up a notch or twelve. I'm definitely excited to see how things progress in Ibiza and I have an idea of how the series may eventually end and I can't wait to see if I'm right...

Buy from Amazon

Pre-order Ibiza Insanity

Hall of Fame Review: The House on the Hill by Kevin Sampson (5/5)

Friday 15 August 2014 0 comments
DCI Billy McCartney has gone to ground, disillusioned with his job. When a runaway turns up on his doorstep, her story plunges Mac back to the summer of 1990, and one of his most traumatic cases.

Ibiza - a joint venture with the Spanish serious crime agency. McCartney and his partner DS Millie Baker have been detailed to infiltrate the Liverpool-based drug gang responsible for a wave of ecstasy-related deaths. But their stakeout takes both Mac and Millie to the heart of a dark empire whose tentacles stretch from Ireland to Morocco, and whose activities include industrial-scale drug production - and terrorism. They're close to their big bust when Millie is abducted by the gang, and killed. McCartney never quite recovers from it.

The waif who knocks on Mac's door twenty-four years later has escaped from those same captors; a dynasty of international dope dealers based high in the Moroccan Rif. What she tells McCartney blasts his apathy away, and sends him on a mission that goes far beyond law and order. This is his chance for redemption.

I read a book called Stars Are Stars in my mid-teens and was blown away by it. As I was born and continue to live in Liverpool I was on the hunt for fiction by local authors set in the city and found some of Kevin Sampson's books at the library. I absolutely devoured them over the course of a couple of weeks but Stars Are Stars remains my favourite. Sampson has a fantastic ability to write about real characters, often flawed, and put them into incredibly realistic situations that have you experiencing every emotion you could possibly experience whilst reading a book.

Sampson's more recent work was a long time coming but The Killing Pool did not disappoint. Now optioned for a TV series hopefully the small screen can replicate the brilliance of that novel and shine a light on a local talent I think deserves to be read in the millions. Praise aside how does book two fare? Incredibly well is the answer. In crime fiction it is often the case that you get the bog standard detective but every so often someone comes along and creates someone completely unique, fascinating and just so enjoyable to read about. That character goes by the name of Mac, or to give him his full title: DCI Billy McCartney. As this is the second in a planned series there's so much more yet to learn and discover about Mac and I cannot wait but at the same time this can be read as a standalone (but I urge you to read book one first).

I was a bit apprehensive about the book after reading the plot. I really want more crime fiction set in Liverpool yet the action here takes place in Ibiza and Morocco. That said I was hooked after just a few pages so any apprehension vanished as quick as it came. The atmosphere created by Sampson in both settings is amazing, for someone who often has trouble picturing the scene in my head I could picture it vividly reading this book to the point it was almost like a film. People often turn their noses up when you say a book can be better than a TV show or a film but that's the case here. The blurb gives quite a bit away, certainly for the first chunk of the book meaning that I was itching to get to the present day to continue the story and see where it would lead.

The scenes in this book are just how I want my crime fiction served. Brutal. Gritty. Nasty. Ultimately it all serves to improve the story making it all the more hard hitting and leaving more of an impact on the reader. There are no chapters, just parts which means for someone like me who cannot put down a book mid chapter that would ordinarily be quite annoying however such is the addictiveness of this book it took me just a few sittings to read so there was very little putting down. Action packed is one way to describe this book, it does not let up making for a very fast paced and hugely enjoyable read. This book has left me itching to continue Mac's story and full of excitement to see The Killing Pool on TV. I'm not someone who takes notice of sales figures or awards etc but crime fiction of this calibre doesn't come along all that often and when it does it deserves to be read and so I hope crime fans everywhere have this book on their reading list.

Review: Peterhead Porridge by James Crosbie (3.5/5)

Thursday 14 August 2014 0 comments
There’s nothing much that’s funny about a long stretch in Peterhead Prison – or is there? Behind the bars of one of the UK’s toughest jails, you’ll find the drugs, riots and fighting which make the headlines but, as the cons go about their daily routine, there’s also humour and stories aplenty as some of the hardest and most violent men in British crime do their time. James Crosbie was Britain’s most wanted man in 1974. With a successful business and an enviable lifestyle, he seemed to have everything going for him – until he got bored with his life and turned to armed robbery. He ended up in Peterhead Prison, doing time with some of the hardest, and funniest, men in crime.

Peterhead Porridge is a remarkable account of the people he met. People like The Saughton Harrier who escaped from prison by dressing up as a runner, complete with running vest and number, and joining in as a race went by. And another escapee, Tweety Pie, was so-called because, when he flew the coop, he had a nasty case of jaundice. Then there’s Square Go, the prison warder who was always up for a fight. And discover the practical jokes that were the trademark of Glasgow’s Godfather Arthur Thompson and what really happened when someone poured their porridge over his head in the breakfast queue. Funny, sad and at times barely believable, Peterhead Porridge is a unique insight into the other side of prison life. 

Hall of Fame Review: Taking Hollywood by Shari King (5/5)



In front of a galaxy of stars, three young film makers accept their Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

Davie Johnston, Zander Leith and Mirren McLean, childhood friends from a rough housing estate in Glasgow, have taken Hollywood by storm.

Only they know what they did to get there...


Twenty years later Davie Johnston is the top host and reality show producer in town. Mirren McLean is a respected writer and movie director and Zander Leith is box office gold. But they haven't spoken to each other in twenty years, their relationships devastated by one horrific secret.

Thousands of miles away, in a town where nothing is as it seems, a young ambitious journalist discovers a tantalizing story from the past. Tinsel Town beckons. She is determined to expose the kind of scandalous drama that usually only happens in the movies.

Review: Avenged by Jacqui Rose (5/5)

Wednesday 13 August 2014 0 comments
Thrilling, dangerous and compulsive, Avenged is perfect for fans of Martina Cole and Kimberley Chambers.

You make a deal with the devil; you pay your dues…

Franny Doyle has always known that her father Patrick has been up to no good. After all you don’t become one of London’s number one gangsters without ruffling a few feathers along the way. Still, she adores her dad and she knows that he would lay down his life for her – she is his number one girl and he has taught her everything she knows.

But when something terrible happens to Patrick, Franny realises that he has some very dangerous enemies. Delving into Patrick’s past, Franny becomes involved in a high-stakes game. She’s not afraid. Patrick has taught her to be a fighter and she’s determined to make him proud, even if it means paying the ultimate price – her own life.

Review: Point Us To Paris by Aimée Duffy (4/5)

Part 3 of Summer Flings – a fun, flirty and laugh out loud Rom-Com series of short stories.

Ciara would rather be anywhere else in the world than Paris. All the gooey eyed couples and handholding are making her miserable.

Elle doesn’t have time for moping – not when she’s got the three of them on the guest list of an exclusive club.

So Ciara tries her best to enjoy the free champagne, the loft party looking over The Sienne and a little harmless sexting – until they realize they’ve stumbled into a nightmare none of them were prepared for.

The ideal summer treat for those relaxing days soaking up the sun!

Review: The Doll Maker by Richard Montanari (4/5)

Tuesday 12 August 2014 0 comments
Mr Marseille is polite, elegant, and erudite. He would do anything for his genteel true love Anabelle. And he is a psychopath.

A quiet Philadelphia suburb. A woman cycles past a train depot with her young daughter. And there she finds a murdered girl posed on a newly painted bench. Strangled. Beside her is a formal invite to a tea dance in a week's time.

Seven days later, two more young victims are discovered in a disused house, posed on painted swings. At the scene is an identical invite. This time, though, there is something extra waiting for Detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano.

A delicate porcelain doll. It's a message. And a threat.

With Marseille and Anabelle stalking the city, Detectives Byrne and Balzano have just seven days to find the link between the murders before another innocent child is snatched from its streets.

Review: Born Gangster by Jimmy Tippett Jr (4/5)

Jimmy Tippett Jnr was born into gangster aristocracy. Son of legendary boxer and South London heavy, Jimmy Tippett, he grew up rubbing shoulders with the most notorious faces in London. 

The result was a lifestyle amongst the criminal elite - and with an upbringing like Jimmy's, what could go wrong? He had the brains, the muscle and the balls to be a player, and when the work was done there were cars, cash, drugs, girls and high times. 

His reputation as a man never to be crossed was undisputed. But when Jimmy traveled deeper into the heart of the underworld, his judgement began to falter. Mired in cocaine and paranoia, his operation began to come off the rails. Friend and foe alike became targets, and the world he had known for so long threatened to tear him apart...

Hall of Fame Review: Fall From Grace by Tim Weaver (5/5)

Monday 11 August 2014 0 comments
Fall From Grace is the latest missing persons case in the bestselling David Raker series by Tim Weaver.


When Leonard Franks and his wife Ellie leave the clamor of London for a dream retirement on the seclusion of Dartmoor, everything seems perfect. But then the dream shatters. Late on a January afternoon, only two years into their new life, Leonard leaves the house to fetch firewood - and never returns. Nine months later, he's still missing.

With the police investigation dead in the water, Ellie and her family turn to David Raker. Raker tracks down missing people for a living. He knows how they think. But nothing can prepare him for what he's about to find.

Because, behind Leonard Franks's disappearance, lies a deadly secret, buried so deep it was never meant to be found. And, by the time Raker starts to uncover the truth, it's not just him in danger - it's everyone he's ever cared about... 

Review: Misbehaving in Miami by Aimée Duffy (5/5)

Sunday 10 August 2014 0 comments
Review will contain spoilers!

Part 2 of Summer Flings – a fun, flirty and laugh out loud rom com series of short stories.

The girls are off to a beach house to catch some rays – and if they play their cards right – super hot guys!

With drinking games in the name of Gucci, a surprise visit from a very pissed off Zack and hunks galore, Miami is turning into their best stop yet. Not to mention Ciara finally comes up with a way to have her cake and eat it too!

The ideal summer treat for those relaxing days soaking up the sun!

Review: Respect by Mandasue Heller (5/5)

Saturday 9 August 2014 0 comments
Mandasue Heller's new heroine is a fifteen-year-old Manchester girl who is both brave and determined to do the right thing - but that may not be enough to save her from a lethal cocktail of violence. From the author praised by Martina Cole and Jeffery Deaver.

Chantelle has everything going against her. She's a good student who only wants to pass her exams and find a way out of the sink estate in Manchester where she grew up. But now her feckless mother has taken off for Spain with her latest boyfriend and she's single-handedly raising her tearaway nine-year-old brother Leon. She thinks her worst problem is the debt collectors at the door. But Leon has made some new friends: teenage gang members who have given him a mobile phone, a knife - and some drugs to hide in her flat.

A part-time job seems to be the answer to Chantelle's prayers. But the violence is about to come home to her - with a vengeance. And the only person who's offering any help seems to be just as bad as the people she's trying to escape from . . .

Most Wanted: The Dying Place by Luca Veste

Most Wanted is a series of posts where I showcase some of the books I am most excited for in 2014!

One I am especially excited for is Luca Veste's second novel The Dying Place. Crime fiction set in Liverpool (recent and decent) is sparse and last year I discovered Luca with his debut Dead Gone which I absolutely loved. Creating something original and exciting but at the same time with all the hallmarks of a great crime fiction novel can often be quite difficult but Luca managed it perfectly. Murphy and Rossi are a fantastic duo and I am counting down the days until I can read about them again.

See my review for Dead Gone here and continue reading for more about this (very exciting sounding) second novel published by Avon in ebook (October) and paperback (December).

Luca has recently been snapped up by Simon & Schuster who crime fans know publish some amazing crime authors so he will definitely be in good company there.

The Dying Place

Intelligent, terrifying crime fiction for fans of Mark Billingham and Stuart MacBride.

Once inside THERE’S NO WAY OUT…

DI David Murphy and DS Laura Rossi make a grisly discovery. The body of a teenage boy, dumped in front of a church in Liverpool. His torso covered with the unmistakable marks of torture.

And a shocking fact soon comes to light. Seventeen-year-old Dean Hughes was reported missing six months ago, yet no one has been looking for him. A known troublemaker, who cared if he was dead or alive?

But soon the police realise Dean isn’t the only boy who’s gone missing in similar circumstances. Someone has been abducting troubled teens. Someone who thinks they’re above the law.


How good does that sound?!

Pre-order now on Amazon

Review: Resistant by Michael Palmer (3.5/5)

Friday 8 August 2014 0 comments
From New York Times bestselling author Michael Palmer comes his nineteenth heart-stopping thriller at the crossroads of politics and medicine, featuring the much-loved Dr Lou Welcome.
A shocking medical-political thriller featuring Dr Lou Welcome by the New York Times bestselling author and master of suspense. For fans of Robin Cooke and Michael Connelly.

When Dr Lou Welcome has to fill in for his boss at the Physical Wellness Office, giving a speech at a national conference in Atlanta, he takes advantage of the opportunity to have an exclusive tour of the Center for Disease Control. As he watches scientists talk about antibacterial resistance and biological weaponry before disappearing into mysterious restricted labs, Lou can't help but wonder about the development of weapons of mass destruction.

Little does he know that a scientist working a top-secret project will be kidnapped, and Lou will become enmeshed in a case that could have fatal consequences across the country...

Review: The Visitors by Simon Sylvester (4/5)

The island has always seemed such a safe place, such a friendly community. Now the possibility of a killer on Bancree is dangerously close to home.

Nobody moves to the remote Scottish island of Bancree, and few leave – but leaving is exactly what seventeen-year-old Flora intends to do. So when a mysterious man and his daughter move into isolated Dog Cottage, Flo is curious. What could have brought these strangers to the island? The man is seductively handsome but radiates menace; and there’s something about his daughter Ailsa that Flo can’t help but feel drawn towards.

People aren’t only arriving on Bancree – they are disappearing too. Reports of missing islanders fill the press and unnerve the community. When a body washes ashore, suspicion turns to the strange newcomers on Dog Rock.

Convinced of their innocence, Flo is fiercely determined to protect her friend Ailsa. Could the answer to the disappearances, and to the pull of her own heart, lie out there, beyond the waves?

Review: Life or Death by Michael Robotham (4/5)

Thursday 7 August 2014 0 comments
The chilling new psychological thriller from one of the most brilliant crime authors of today.

Why would a man escape from prison the day before he's due to be released?

Audie Palmer has spent a decade in prison for an armed robbery in which four people died, including two of his gang. Five million dollars has never been recovered and everybody believes that Audie knows where the money is.

For ten years he has been beaten, stabbed, throttled and threatened almost daily by fellow inmates and prison guards, who all want to answer this same question, but suddenly Audie vanishes, the day before he's due to be released.

Everybody wants to find Audie, but he's not running. Instead he's trying to save a life . . . and not just his own.

Books on the Underground Update

Wednesday 6 August 2014 0 comments

I've wanted to take part in this ever since I found out about it on Twitter but thought the chances of finding a book myself were pretty slim so thought it would be a better idea to leave some myself. I left 6 books around the Tube network on the 5th August! Unfortunately there were no Tweets saying they'd been found. I hope they've been found by book lovers who can enjoy them but I guess it's the risk you take leaving a book in such a crowded place!

See below for the books I left, and find links to my reviews for them!

 Wanted - Emlyn Rees

If I Could Turn Back Time - Nicola Doherty

  Never Look Back - Clare Donoghue

The Killer Next Door - Alex Marwood

The Way You Look Tonight - Richard Madeley

The Nemesis Program - Scott Mariani

Review: Silent Witnesses by Nigel McCrery (4/5)

A crime scene. A murder. A mystery.

The most important person on the scene? The forensic scientist. And yet the intricate details of their work remains a mystery to most of us.

Silent Witnesses looks at the history of forensic science over the last two centuries, during which time a combination of remarkable intuition, painstaking observation and leaps in scientific knowledge have developed this fascinating branch of detection. Throwing open the casebook, it introduces us to such luminaries as 'The Wizard of Berkeley' Edward Heinrich, who is credited with having solved over 2000 crimes, and Alphonse Bertillon, the French scientist whose guiding principle 'no two individuals share the same characteristics' became the core of identification. Along the way, it takes us to India and Australia, Columbia and China, Russia, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. And it proves that, in order to solve ever more complicated cases, science must always stay one step ahead of the killer.

Review: The Troop by Nick Cutter (4/5)

Tuesday 5 August 2014 0 comments
LORD OF THE FLIES meets STAND BY ME and THE THING in this fast-paced and completely addictive psychological thriller that will really get under your skin.

He felt something touch his hand... which is when he looked down...

For the scouts of Troop 52, three days of camping, hiking and survival lessons on the remote shores of Falstaff Island will be the closest thing they'll get to a proper holiday this year.

Which was when he saw it...

But when an emaciated figure unexpectedly stumbles into their camp begging for food, the trip takes a horrifying turn. The man is not just hungry, he's sick. Sick in a way they have never seen before.

Which was when he screamed...

Cut off from the mainland, the scouts of Troop 52 face a nightmare far worse than anything they could have made up around a campfire. To survive they will have to fight their fears, the elements... and eventually each other.

Review: Trouble in Tinseltown by Aimée Duffy (4/5)

Part 1 of Summer Flings – a fun, flirty and laugh out loud Rom-Com series of short stories.

Armed with a degree from Oxford that she doesn’t have a clue what to do with, Ciara Bree convinces her two best friends, Elle and Gem to spend their first summer of freedom backpacking across the globe. Now it’s time to shop, sunbathe, think about boys for a change, and party hard…

First stop: LA!

The girls hit Tinseltown for a few days of shopping, star spotting, and even a movie premiere.

But their plan to sneak into an exclusive celeb party in West Hollywood backfires. Elle’s gorgeous older cousin, Zack, is called to the rescue and despite knowing she should stay away, Ciara just can’t seem to resist him.

The ideal summer treat for those relaxing days soaking up the sun!

Review: The Hunter's Oath by Jason Dean (4/5)

Monday 4 August 2014 0 comments
Amy Philmore knows something is wrong as she walks home alone through Fort George Hill. When a car pulls up and three men get out, it's too late to escape. Now she is in hospital fighting for her life.

Her brother, Former Marine James Bishop, is determined to find the attackers before they return to finish the job. The cops are on the case but Bishop takes matters into his own hands, and nothing can hold him back in his hunt for vengeance.

When you act alone, there is no one to protect you, and what Bishop discovers will put him on the hit-list of a ruthless criminal empire. As his sister's life hangs in the balance, can he find his way to the heart of the organisation before he is outnumbered? Or is the predator about to become the prey?

Review: Poppy Does Paris by Nicola Doherty (4/5)

The first instalment in this hilarious, romantic and unputdownable five-part series. Perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk's I Heart... novels.

Paris. City of love, city of romance. The last place you want to go to on a work trip when you're in the middle of an epic dry spell. But that's where Poppy is headed, along with her colleague Charlie, who's shallow and annoying but very, very good-looking. During a white-wine-fuelled session with her friend Alice, Poppy concocts the perfect plan: work by day, and have some no-strings fun with Charlie by night. Of course, it might prove a little more complicated than that, but it's nothing Poppy can't handle - or is it?

Girls on Tour is an irresistible series of interlinked stories about four friends, ordinary girls who have extraordinary fun in faraway places. Expect the unexpected, the utterly hilarious and unforgettable, on this rollercoaster ride of love, laughs, surprises and sparks. You have a VIP pass to join each girl's adventure, so pack your bags and buckle your seatbelts, because just about anything is possible...

Blog Tour: Love Like The Movies by Victoria Van Tiem (4/5)

Friday 1 August 2014 1 comments
Kenzi Shaw knows the plot of her life down to the last line - the career she's building as an up-and-coming marketing exec, the gorgeous fiancé (Bradley) she'll marry in a fairytale wedding, the children they'll raise in her dream home. But when heart-breaking ex Shane comes back into her life, life starts going off the script...

Shane tries to win Kenzi over by re-enacting all the rom-com movies they used to watch together - Sleepless in Seattle, Bridget Jones's Diary, Pretty Woman and Dirty Dancing to name a few. He's just a guy, standing in front of a girl, asking her to trust him again. But has he really changed? Not only is her head in a spin over Shane, but now her job is on the line. And with her perfect sister-in-law showing up every tiny thing Kenzi does wrong, she feels like she's permanently in the corner.

Should she risk her sensible life for the chance of a Happy Ever After? One thing's certain, when Shane meets Kenzi (again), she's suddenly not so sure who her leading man is . . .

Perfect for fans of From Notting Hill with Love . . . Actually and You Had Me at Hello. Grab some popcorn, hit the sofa and enjoy this feel-good and very funny novel.

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