Review: The Silence Between Breaths by Cath Staincliffe

Monday 26 September 2016 0 comments
Title: The Silence Between Breaths
Author: Cath Staincliffe
Publisher: Constable
Publication Date: 22nd September 2016
Pages: 272
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3.5/5
Purchase: Amazon
Passengers boarding the 10.35 train from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston are bound for work, assignations, reunions, holidays or new starts, with no idea that their journey is about to be brutally curtailed.

Holly has just landed her dream job, which should make life a lot easier than it has been, and Jeff is heading for his first ever work interview after months of unemployment. They end up sitting next to each other. Onboard customer service assistant Naz dreams of better things as he collects rubbish from the passengers. And among the others travelling are Nick with his young family who are driving him crazy; pensioner Meg and her partner setting off on a walking holiday and facing an uncertain future; Caroline, run ragged by the competing demands of her stroppy teenage children and her demented mother; and Rhona, unhappy at work and desperate to get home to her small daughter. And in the middle of the carriage sits Saheel, carrying a deadly rucksack...

Review: Strangers by Paul Finch

Friday 23 September 2016 0 comments
Title: Strangers
Author: Paul Finch
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 22nd September 2016
Pages: 416
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5
Purchase: Amazon
Unknown, alone, and fearing for your life.

As PC Lucy Clayburn is about to find out, going undercover is the most dangerous work there is.

But, on the trail of a prolific female serial killer, there’s no other option – and these murders are as brutal as they come.

Lucy must step into the line of fire – a stranger in a criminal underworld that butchers anyone who crosses the line.

And, unknown to Lucy, she’s already treading it…

Review: The Surrogate by Tania Carver

Monday 19 September 2016 0 comments
Title: The Surrogate
Author: Tania Carver
Publisher: Sphere
Publication Date: 17th September 2009
Pages: 448
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3.5/5
Purchase: Amazon
A shocking double-murder scene greets Detective Inspector Philip Brennan when he is called to a flat in Colchester. Two women are viciously cut open and laying spreadeagled, one tied to the bed, one on the floor. The woman on the bed has had her stomach cut into and her unborn child is missing.

But this is the third time Phil and his team have seen such an atrocity. Two other pregnant women have been killed in this way and their babies taken from them. No-one can imagine what sort of person would want to commit such evil acts.

When psychologist Marina Esposito is brought in, Phil has to put aside his feelings about their shared past and get on with the job. But can they find the killer before another woman is targeted?

Excerpt: Christmas at the Little Village Bakery by Tilly Tennant

Friday 16 September 2016 0 comments


It’s time to get toasty by the fire with a glass of mulled wine and a slice of chocolate yule log sprinkled with a little romance. Welcome to Christmas at the Little Village Bakery.

Snow is falling in Honeybourne and Spencer is bringing home his American fiancée Tori for a traditional English Christmas with all the trimmings. But when his hippie mum and dad meet her high-maintenance parents, sparks of the wrong sort start to fly. Then Spencer bumps into his first love Jasmine and unexpected feelings come flooding back.

Millie is run off her feet with Christmas orders at the Little Village Bakery and new baby Oscar. Thank goodness her cousin Darcie is here to help her. Although she does seem to be rather flirty with Millie’s boyfriend Dylan.

Will Darcie ever find true love of her own? And is marrying Tori a terrible mistake for Spencer if his heart is with someone else?

A heartwarming Christmassy romantic comedy, perfect for fans of Carole Matthews and Milly Johnson.

THE LITTLE VILLAGE BAKERY by Tilly Tennant was published in June 2016.

About Tilly Tennant:

From a young age, Tilly Tennant was convinced that she was destined for the stage. Once she realised she wasn’t actually very good at anything that would put her on the stage, she started to write stories instead. There were lots of terrible ones, likeThe Pet Rescue Gang (aged eight), which definitely should not see the light of day ever again. Thankfully, her debut novel,Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn was not one of those, and since it hit the Amazon best seller lists she hasn’t looked back. Born in Dorset, she currently lives in Staffordshire with her husband, two daughters, three guitars, four ukuleles, two violins and a kazoo.

Chapter One

It felt like the world had been muffled. Their breath rose in plumes into the air against a landscape that was white as far as the eye could see. Gentle feathers of snow fell silently, frosting their coats and hair.
Tori gripped Spencer’s hand tighter and he looked down at her with a broad grin as they trudged along the path that led to the Old Bakery, his unruly black hair peeking out from beneath a woolly hat and his startling blue eyes alive with humour. Her tiny frame was bundled up in a huge padded coat, and he could barely see her flamered hair beneath the hat and scarf wrapped around it, but the perfect nose that turned up a little at the end, and the blue eyes set in a face that looked a good deal younger than her twenty-eight years, peeked out at him from the layers, and he couldn’t think of a time when she had looked lovelier.
As he drew in a lungful of frosty air, he was filled with joy to see the paths and fields of Honeybourne that meant they were home – at least, his home; though, in time, he hoped that it might become hers too. He had enjoyed his time in Colorado teaching on the exchange programme at a school in Boulder – aside from being the place where he had found Tori it was a beautiful part of the world – but he had been away for over a year, apart from the one brief visit in the spring for the opening of the Old Bakery, and a year was a long time to be parted from the place he felt rooted to.
‘I bet you didn’t expect to go from snow in Boulder to more snow here,’ he said.
‘You get snow in England too.’
‘Yeah, but usually at Easter, not Christmas,’ Spencer laughed. ‘One of the supreme ironies of all those songs about white Christmases is that in real life you don’t get a flake of the stuff until at least March.’
‘I can deal with snow. It’ll shake the jet lag off a bit.’
‘Maybe we should have had another snooze at home before venturing out to meet everyone,’ Spencer said thoughtfully. ‘I’m sure they would have understood if we’d put off the reunions until we were feeling right.’
‘Best way to deal with jet lag is to battle through it,’ Tori announced stoically. ‘When you’re exhausted, your body won’t care whether it thinks it’s bedtime or not.’
‘If you say so. And is the jet lag being shook off?’
‘Not really,’ Tori grinned. ‘I never said it was a foolproof plan.’
‘Maybe it’s the wrong sort of snow… How’s our English snow holding up against your American stuff?’
‘It’s a bit wet.’
‘Don’t you dare add anything to that about it being like the English people…’
‘I would never say that,’ Tori smiled. ‘I love the English people. One in particular I love more than anyone in the world…’
Spencer’s grin widened, and he gave her hand a squeeze. He’d waited so long to hear those words. ‘I love you too,’ he said.
She turned to him with an impish gleam in her eye. ‘Oh, did you think I meant you? I was talking about your friend, Millie, obviously. After all, anyone who can make chocolate cake like she does has to be worthy of my love.’
Spencer bent to kiss her lightly on the lips. They were cold, but yielded and warmed beneath his own. ‘That’s exactly why I love you, chocolate cake or no. And you’re really getting the hang of the British sarcasm thing.’
‘I’m not sure that’s a compliment.’
‘Of course it is.’
Tori raised her eyebrows. The action was just about visible below the rim of her red and blue reindeer-motif bobble-hat. ‘Is that the British sarcasm thing?’
‘I’m afraid so.’
‘Then you’d better watch it, buster. We may not have sarcasm in Boulder but we do have fists.’
Spencer threw back his head and laughed. The sound echoed down the frozen lane. Then he scooped Tori into his arms and planted another kiss on her lips, this one more passionate than the last. ‘I really do love you, Tori Annabelle Dempsey.’
‘Hey…’ She smiled as she pulled away, catching her breath. ‘If you do that again we might not make it to the bakery.’
‘I’m sure they won’t mind if we’re late.’
‘That’s rude. Didn’t your parents teach you anything?’
‘You can ask them in a couple of days when they arrive back from Spain.’
Tori’s smile faded. ‘You think they’ll like me?’
‘Of course they’ll like you. Quite frankly, I don’t care anyway. I love you, and that’s the only thing that matters.’
‘You didn’t say that when you were stressing about meeting my parents.’
‘That’s different.’
‘It just is. Your parents are… Well, let’s just say they take a lot more impressing than mine will. And fathers are always more protective of daughters, aren’t they?’
‘Are they?’
Spencer nodded as he set her on the path again.
‘I don’t buy it,’ Tori said. ‘Your parents will be just as tough to crack as mine were.’
‘Ah, so you do admit that your parents are tough!’
‘Maybe a little.’
Spencer grinned. But then it disappeared. It was bad enough that his parents were going to meet Tori and her parents for the first time, but his anxieties weren’t helped by the fact that Tori’s parents had met Spencer once before and made it quite clear they hated him. But he tried not to dwell on that. Tori had told him not to worry, and briefly explained that it was all to do with some guy named Hunter that they had earmarked as a potential husband for her. It wasn’t Spencer’s fault that he wasn’t Hunter, she’d told him, but in time they would get over that. Maybe he could salvage things over Christmas, when people were feeling a little more charitable and disposed to love their fellow men?
‘Maybe we should have done all this before we set a date for the wedding,’ he said. ‘What if our parents don’t like each other?’
‘Well, at least they won’t have to see much of each other as yours live in Spain and mine live in Colorado.’
‘That will certainly put paid to a life of weekend bridge tournaments.’
‘Never mind that, what if they hate each other and it ruins Christmas for everyone?’ Tori asked, anxiety creeping into her tone for the first time. ‘We can always “forget” to ask them to the wedding, but they’re already on their way for Christmas so there’s no saving that.’
‘My mum would never speak to me again if we didn’t ask them to the wedding and Dad always takes her side over everything.’
‘Neither would my mom but I’m still prepared to risk it if you are.’
Spencer tried to smile but he couldn’t. He wanted to believe it was just because his face was so cold. ‘I’m sure it will be fine.’
‘No, you’re not. You’re chewing your lip.’
He clamped his mouth shut and pulled her close. ‘This is our first Christmas together – at least officially – and I won’t let anyone spoil that, parents or otherwise.’

Review: Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge

Wednesday 7 September 2016 0 comments
Title: Hide and Seek
Author: M.J. Arlidge
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 8th September 2016
Pages: 373
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5
Purchase: Amazon
After the huge cliffhanger at the end of Little Boy Blue I could not wait for the release of Hide and Seek to continue with the story of DI Helen Grace and to find out just how the hell she was going to get herself out of the mess she had found herself in. That mess being her imprisonment in Holloway prison awaiting trial for crimes that she didn't commit. This book could be read as a standalone but as it's the culmination of everything that Arlidge has been building up to from day one, I would definitely recommend reading the series in order.

I had this book read in less than a day because, cliche I know, I just couldn't put it down. I actually did put it down to eat and try and watch TV but that soon got abandoned as I just kept picking my book back up for 'one more chapter'. If I had to describe Hide and Seek to somebody I would say Bad Girls meets Wentworth (though sadly, not nearly as brutal). Much of the action does take place inside Holloway prison with Helen's friend and colleague Charlie on the outside trying to prove her innocence. It is an incredibly atmospheric read because Arlidge's descriptions are so vivid and his characters are brought to life on the page. I actually felt as if I was in the prison myself at times and it was extremely unnerving.

Helen's fear is palpable and with her being a police officer behind bars, you know that danger is never far away as she faces animosity not just from those she's sharing a prison block with (some of whom she had a hand in putting there) but also from the prison officers themselves. I'm not going to allude to the story too much except to say that this book contains an absolutely brilliant murder mystery alongside the crusade of Charlie on the outside attempting to help her friend. It's an unpredictable read in the sense that I never knew what was coming, and had no idea just what tricks and twists Arlidge had up his sleeve. Hide and Seek is without a doubt one of the best books in this series, perhaps even the best.

The whole Helen Grace series would work great as a television series but Hide and Seek is the book I want to see on the small screen the most. It would make for absolutely gripping viewing and even as I read I knew exactly who I would cast for some of the roles, especially the role of one particular villain but for me to expand on that would completely give the game away. Sometimes when I read a book I zero in on one person as the bad guy and become almost fixated on them, well, this time around Arlidge's delivered one hell of a brilliant reveal that I didn't see coming. Perhaps some might, but I didn't and that's why I enjoyed the book so much.

It's obvious that this is the book that Arlidge has been building up to and I am annoyed that I have finished it because I am already so impatient for more. It's refreshing to read a series that doesn't just stick with the same formula book after book. It seems like only yesterday that Eeny Meeny was released and yet here we are at book six. I hope that there is plenty more to come because this really is a brilliant series but, Arlidge is such a phenomenal storyteller that I wouldn't hesitate to read anything that he writes and so I can't wait to see what he brings us next (which, according to Amazon is another Helen Grace novel in 2017). If you are yet to discover this series then I hate you because you are in for a real treat and if you are reading this book having already read Little Boy Blue then you will not be disappointed. An absolutely brilliant read that I cannot recommend enough.

Review: Burning Angels by Bear Grylls

Monday 5 September 2016 0 comments
Title: Burning Angels
Author: Bear Grylls
Publisher: Orion
Publication Date: 2nd June 2016
Pages: 416
Source: Library
Rating: 5/5
Purchase: Amazon
A prehistoric corpse entombed within an Arctic glacier, crying tears of blood.

A jungle island overrun by rabid primates - escapees from a research laboratory's Hot Zone.

A massive seaplane hidden beneath a mountain, packed with a Nazi cargo of mind-blowing evil.

A penniless orphan kidnapped from an African slum, holding the key to the world's survival.

Four terrifying journeys. One impossible path. Only one man to attempt it.

Will Jaeger. The Hunter.

Review: Always with Love by Giovanna Fletcher

Friday 2 September 2016 1 comments
Title: Always with Love
Author: Giovanna Fletcher
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 2nd June 2016
Pages: 416
Source: Purchased
Rating: 4.5/5
Purchase: Amazon
Sophie's got used to being the girlfriend of Billy Buskin, the biggest movie star in the world. Sort of.

But when she and Billy take a trip to visit his family in Los Angeles, she quickly discovers she's totally unprepared for the chaos of Hollywood, the paparazzi and Billy's controlling mother.

And when Billy extends his stay in LA, leaving Sophie to fly home to Rosefont Hill alone, it seems there's more than just miles between them.

Now Sophie must decide if they can overcome their differences for good. Because not every love story lasts the distance...

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