Monthly Archives: December 2015

Interview with Sharon Bolton for Random House Germany

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Just before Christmas I was delighted to have been asked if I would like my interview with Sharon Bolton to be part of the promotional lead for Böse Lügen the German release of Sharon Bolton’s dark thriller based on the Falkland Islands called  Little Black Lies. With my interview appearing on Random House Germany website. logo_rh

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You can read my interview with Sharon Bolton Here Though the interview is in German (naturally). Though you can read the English version that I conducted with Sharon earlier in 2015 as part of the promotion for the release in the UK. Here

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Now that we are just a few days away from a new year 2016 looks to be another amazing year for books and I am already looking forward to interviewing many more authors in ‘Meet the Author’

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Christmas Books Wrap Up 2015

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Christmas Books Wrap up

 Well here we are before we knew it Christmas has arrived and with it some pretty amazing books. So what better than to celebrate than review three Christmas books. So I thought a Christmas wrap up of three Christmas books I have chosen to review this year. With a number of really good books to choose from it was narrowed down to the three I have chosen.

A BOY CALLED CHRISTMAS BY MATT HAIG

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Many years ago I read Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol, but since then not very many Christmas books have I read, not that I am a bar humbug, more tried to stay away from the tinsel and glitter of some of the books, but I have to confess the last few years I have come to enjoy the spirit of Christmas in literary form once again and with Matt Haig’s A Boy Called Christmas it is a joy to the world creation that only Matt Haig could have written.

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It is the story of Nikolas an 11-year old boy who happens to have the nickname of ‘Christmas’ as he so happened to be born on Christmas Day. Living with his father (Joel) in the Woods in a very basic woodcutter cabin. Life is pretty hard for Nikolas and his father as they a very poor, with no toys to play with only a toy head carved out of a Turnip, a sleigh made by his father and a rather friendly mouse by the name of Miika. Nikolas lost his mother after she was killed by a bear some years before.

 

One day they receive a visitor to the cabin which is rare to say the least as no-one comes to call on them and an offer is made to Nikolas’s father a chance to make a lots of money by proving the existence of the village of Elfhelm, no-one has ever proved the existence of the village of the elves. Knowing that this would mean leaving Nikolas in the care of the evil child-hating aunt Carlotta. So the story moves on and Joel sets off with a group of ‘characters’ to the frozen North of Finland leaving Nikolas in the care of his aunt Carlotta. Things could not be worse for the woodcutter’s son and so Nikolas decides he can stand no longer to be so poorly treated and the terrible insults to his late mother, Nikolas decides to set off and follow in his father’s footsteps and together with Miika they head off into the woods in a quest to find his father.

Sleeping in the open and with little or no food apart from Mushrooms it is hard going. While at a lake they encounter a reindeer they call Blitzen after the lake.

ImageThen Nikolas is rescued by some of the very elves his father was sent to look for and he is taken to Elfhelm. But it transpires that all is not well and that humans are not at all welcome. Thrown into the dungeon with that also holds a troll and the Truth Pixie. Along the journey that Nikolas has taken bad things do occur but some good things happen as well. Now Nikolas begins to see simple kindness that can make such a difference. So now the story of Nikolas is being told and the journey that he undertakes and the man that we all know so well every 25 December that brings gifts to the boys and girls around the world.

Matt Haig’s A Boy Called Christmas is a book that is destined to become a Christmas classic that will span generations to come. It is one of the most beautiful books I have read this year, it is just magical in every sense of the word. Humorous and also heart-breaking.

What brings the book to life is the illustrations by Chris Mould, just outstanding and capture the mood of the story.

The perfect book to be given as a gift imagine at the wonder of a child on Christmas morning just reading this in bed. Brings to life the story of the man in the red and white suit as well as the meanings of Christmas.

A Boy Called Christmas written by Matt Haig is published by Canongate

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

A SNOW GARDEN BY RACHEL JOYCE

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After the success of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennesy Rachel Joyce brings together a stunningly beautiful collection of six short stories in A Snow Garden that is just in time for Christmas each with their own message.

Each of the stories is paced as so is no more than 40 pages in length but complex in nature. What Rachel Joyce has written is primarily aimed at someone’s very own Christmas and that each of the stories is unique in their differences and characters. From the first A Faraway Smell of Lemon were we meet Binny just after her long-time partner has left her for another woman and who is now pregnant. Binny has not showed any emotion following the split and has carried her emotions in her pocket so that no-one else can see. Christmas is fast approaching and she cannot even think of celebrating but we see that her children are excited. She then takes it upon herself to find solace in quality cleaning products. This one story alone is packed full of emotion that when you add Christmas to the story you are left emotional. One of my personal favourites.

Then there is Christmas Day at the Airport there are no flights as they have all been grounded, there is a heavily pregnant woman in this story with a family, here is a glimpse of people’s lives being stranded at an airport on Christmas Day and who each cope.

Each of the stories though unique I found intertwined with the next in some way that I know only Rachel Joyce could write and how she can pour emotions into words, just to get a feel of the stories, I urge you to read the forward, this gives a very unique insight into how Joyce came to write about each of the characters.

I get the feeling that some of these characters have been living in Rachel Joyce’s beautiful writing cabin just waiting to be brought to life in the short stories that are A Snow Garden. Each will leave you feeling with a warm feeling that only these short stories can bring you. This is perfect for a quiet Christmas read if you are short of time in between all the festivities. The cover design is just stunning and encapsulates the entire spirit of the book.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

A Snow Garden written by Rachel Joyce and published by Doubleday

THE CHRISTMAS WE MET BY KATE LORD BROWN

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The story opens in a wintery January 1979, Grace has been left broken as her husband has disappeared and not only that but he has taken all their money with him. Now Grace alone has to face the future with her daughter Harriet. Grace was running her own Jewellery business but alas as she cannot afford to run the business by herself she now gets the only other work she is qualified to do as a Personal Assistant for Fraser Stratton at Wittering Manor, but she would rather avoid working for the eccentric Fraser Stratton as he expects a little more than she is prepared to give. But needs must. Fraser is putting his memoir together and it is Grace’s role to put that into some readable quality that might sell a few copies down the line.

There are a number of leading characters all with a story and Grace has to cut through the lies and deceit, there is mystery abound in The Christmas We Met and Jewels are part of the story and for me play a leading role as you will find out for yourselves.

Grace also meets Jack Fraser’s godson and she feels at home in his company a blossoming romance on the cards, he just happens to be in the right place at the right time on that cold snowy winters day.

There is a lot going on in this story and at times you may feel you are losing track keeping up with the intrigue, but stick with this it is worth every page. Not like your normal Christmas story and that is why it made my selection, it has some much going for it with each character and watching how Grace deals with the lies from those around her.

At times Fraser would recount the family history which I quite liked as it brought a historical piece to the story and just adds to the storyline in general. I must give credit to Kate Lord Brown for the amount of attention to detail throughout.

There are so many questions that you start to ask yourself as you read through The Christmas We Met that you so dearly want to see Grace find the happiness she deserves. Does she find the answers to the Brooch that she inherited from her Grandmother? Only time will tell.

If you are looking to lose yourself in a story that you will not want to put down over Christmas, then this is your book.

The Christmas We Met written by Kate Lord Brown published by Orion Publishing Group.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

So there we have my three Christmas reads selections for 2015 each one very different and giving each reader a different view over Christmas. I enjoyed all three as they gave me so much more than I could imagine. Has this changed my view on Christmas books, well only Christmas 2016 will tell it has a lot to live up to.

To each of you I wish you the happiest of Christmases and may it bring you lots of wonderful books to read over the holiday period. Books can take us to places that only dream may take us.

Merry Christmas and happy reading.

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Rise of the Enemy by Rob Sinclair

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Rise of the Enemy by Rob Sinclair

 

Review Date: 21 December 2015

Author: Rob Sinclair

Release Date: 30 April 2015

Publishers: Clink Street Publishing

ISBN –10: 1909477893

ISBN – 13: 978-1909477896

340pp

Available in Hardback, Paperback, Kindle and audio

 

The Last Word Review

Rob Sinclair is back with another blockbuster. Fans of Lee Child will want to read this thriller

 

In Rob Sinclair’s last book Dance with the Enemy we found a new hero in Carl Logan, well he is back in Sinclair’s latest offering in Rise of the Enemy Logan is an agent working for the JIA (Joint Intelligence Agency). Carl Logan has been captured by the Russians and is being ruffed up as they try to break him. This is the story of his capture and then escape from the Russians.

Logan has been betrayed by Angela Grainger while on what would seem a fairly routine mission in Russia and with that his cover is blown. The first three chapter of Rise of the Enemy are incredible fast paced with bullets, grenades and all other types of weapons being used. This is one of the most explosive starts to a novel I have read in a long time.

While in captivity a prisoner of the Russians Logan is tortured for some time in the hope of breaking him and thus giving away secrets Logan would rather die than tell. Logan manages to escape and the chase is on to find him before he escapes Russia.

What Logan now discovers is that someone is not being truthful in the JIA and it seems that no matter where goes someone is after him determined to stop him at any cost. Now Logan realises he must trust no-one but himself. What we have here are flashbacks between the past and the present as we learn of his imprisonment and then how Lena the Russian captor and how Lena tells Logan of how things went so wrong, Logan at this point is not going to believe him. This is a game of cat and mouse and the stakes are high. Does Logan even trust his friends now?

Rob Sinclair has packed a lot into Rise of the Enemy and boy does it deliver on every front. This is an immense novel to read that once you start you will have great difficulty in putting down. This is the second book in the trilogy and now cannot wait for the third book. Sinclair manages to capture the reader and not let them go. There is an ending to Rise of the Enemy that I failed to see coming and leaves you wanting more. And I am pretty sure we will get just that with the third in the series.

What happens to our hero Carl Logan, well you will have to go and get yourself a copy and maybe even a copy of Dance with the Enemy and get to know why so many are raving about Rob Sinclair a great writer and one to look out for.

Thank you to the author Rob Sinclair for providing a copy for review.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Meet the Author

Rob Sinclair

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Rob’s first novel, Dance with the Enemy, was published in June 2014 and is the first in the Enemy Series following embattled intelligence agent Carl Logan. Rise of the Enemy, the second book in the series, was released in April 2015. The Enemy series has received widespread critical acclaim with many reviewers and readers having likened Rob’s work to authors at the very top of the genre, including Lee Child and Vince Flynn.

Rob worked for nearly 13 years for a global accounting firm after graduating from The University of Nottingham in 2002, specialising in forensic fraud investigations at both national and international levels. He now writes full time.

Originally from the North East of England, Rob has lived and worked in a number of fast paced cities, including New York, and is now settled in the West Midlands with his wife and young sons.

According to the Daily Mail by Laurence Simpson

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According to the Daily Mail by Laurence Simpson

 

Review Date: 17 December 2015

Author: Laurence Simpson

Release Date: 25 August 2015

Publishers: Matador

ISBN –10: 1784625418

ISBN – 13: 978-1784625412

320pp

Available in Hardback, Paperback and Kindle

 

The Last Word Review

Witty and amusing story taking a swipe at the worst of our daily tabloid journals

When you pick up a copy of According to the Daily Mail by Laurence Simpson it is not perhaps the greatest title for a book, but do not be deterred by this, what Simpson has written here is a witty, snappy jibe at a certain daily newspaper called the Daily Mail, I am no fan of this tabloid newspaper it’s daily headlines are enough to put me off my breakfast. But there are those who love this daily tabloid.

Those of us who just plainly despair at the daily wittering of this countries tabloid newspapers and the endless following of wannabee celebrities who thrive off these newspapers will love the wit and humour in According to the Daily Mail.

The story follows Jonathon who decided he has had enough of the style of journalistic licence from this newspaper and decided it is time something was done. So he gathers together a band of brothers of the ex-military types who know how to handle themselves and a plan is hatched not only to go and blow up the printing presses of the Daily Mail but also Jonathon now decides he needs to employ a hacker who will take down their website.

Does Jonathon succeed in his plans to go for the Daily Mail? And our intrepid Jonathon has not finished he even goes and then hires another experienced fellow to ‘pirate TV programmes, has Jonathon gone a step too far with his plans the law is now suspecting him of his plots and are not too far behind but like all mastermind criminals Jonathon has alibi’s. On the case is Inspector Foot and he is not one to leave a stone unturned and suspects Jonathon is deeply up to his neck in this.

This is an extremely cleverly written novel one which reminds me so much of our comical crime capers of days gone by. This is extremely funny and the attention to detail in the plans for the attacks raised my eyebrows. This story has everything including some romance along the way. The reverse of the dust jack tells of ‘sporadic eroticism’ yes I can vouch for that. There is everything in detail even lots of talk of food and boozy binges. This is a laugh out loud story but there is a serious message behind the story that is According to the Daily Mail.

One question does spring to mind here, is Jonathon based on the author Laurence Simpson I say that as Jonathon has the taste of fine wines, Malt Whisky and fine motors, a coincidence or just planned this way.

I know Laurence is planning another book that looks outstanding. Get this while you can and enjoy a jolly good caper.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Meet the Author

Laurence Simpson

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Laurence Simpson spent most of his working life in advertising, where he was known as ‘Loz’ and where he won numerous major awards in London, Cannes and New York.

He lives in Surrey with his wife, whose hobbies include blowing out nearside front tyres by mounting the kerb at speed, smashing headlamp units by driving into the backs of other peoples’ cars and, counter-productively, losing her car keys.

He has a mother in Melbourne, a stepmother in Sussex, a mother-in-law in Moscow, two children in Sydney and two children in London, in his relentless pursuit of the simple life.
 

The Ghost Tree by Sara Bain

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The Ghost Tree by Sara Bain

 

Review Date: 18 December 2015

Author: Sara Bain

Release Date: 1 October 2015

Publishers: Urbane Publications Ltd

ISBN –10: 1910692247

ISBN – 13: 978-1910692240

416pp

Available in Paperback and Kindle

 

The Last Word Review

A spooky supernatural tale with a romantic twist. Sara Bain’s prose is something to behold

 

Those who know me will tell you that I am a big fan of reading ‘ghost stories’ during the dark winter months well it sets the tone for some long nights of spooky reading.

When I was offered to the opportunity to review The Ghost Tree by Sara Bain, I just had to jump at the chance, and this is something uniquely special as far as a ghost story is concerned. I thoroughly enjoyed Sara’s prose it captured my imagination for the story and how it flowed, this is a long story at over 400 pages.

This story is set in Dumfries and Galloway and is ‘loosely’ based around a true story. MacAoidh Armstrong has recently moved into a farmhouse to live a life of self-sufficiency but it transpires it was once haunted way back in 1695, but no problem he does not really believe in ghosts.

On a hill nearby stands the Ghost Tree, this is the last remain of the previous holdings and there is a local legend that says when the last ghost tree dies the Rerrick Poltergeist will return again. Just another local legend?

But things have not gone smoothly for the new occupant and he has to contend with some strange goings on and not only for MacAoidh in the town Libby the local solicitor is struggling to come to terms with some strange goings on also. So do we have a well-planned hoax by locals upset and the new arrival?

Now the story really gets going as the ghostly goings on really take on a more serious note and now that people are in real danger something must be done. I found Libby to be one very in your face type of character both strong and brave but with a past.  I loved the role she plays here. As much as this is a ghost story there is humour here which at times lightens the edge of the seat story, which seemed to fly at a staggering pace. Some of the conversations I found myself laughing out loud even in my local coffee shop where I do a lot of reading and writing.

In every story like The Ghost Tree there has to be a hero or a heroine, and yes we do have one and one very ballsy heroine at that. So anyone who thinks I am now going to give away the ‘what happens next’ bit will be sadly disappointed. All I will say in that this is stunning book and a fabulous edge of the seat read and will have your heart beating fast at times and you will not want to put this down. If you are a fan of ghost stories at Christmas, here it is in The Ghost Tree. Trust me you will not be disappointed. Sara Bain you have a fan here and now I want to read your first novel The Sleeping Warrior.

As someone who loves the wide openness of Scotland Sara’s style of writing really brings the landscape and the scenes direct to you as if you are actually there. I love this in an author.

The Ghost Tree is a book I strongly urge you to buy, you will soon find out why.

HIGHLY RECCOMMENDED

Meet the Author

Sara Bain

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An imaginative thinker with a career as diverse as the number of genres her fiction crosses, Sara Bain is one of those people who has the ability to write to any formula but chooses to adhere to none. She was brought up in London, qualified as an English barrister and pursued a career in legal publishing where she learned to produce academic texts and draft complex legal forms. She then left the bright lights of the city and moved to Scotland where she worked as a journalist for a local newspaper for 15 years and learned to write facts as well as creative features. She has been a law lecturer, computer tutor and is an able photographer and graphic designer. She now has her own company which provides press and publicity services and currently works on media campaigns for a number of Scottish arts organisations. She is also employed as an assistant manager on a community arts initiative. When she finds some downtime, Sara writes fantasy and paranormal cross-genre fiction which includes elements of crime, romance, horror and humour. Her debut novel, The Sleeping Warrior, has been described as talented, imaginative, remarkable and simply brilliant.

Killing Eva by Alex Blackmore

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Killing Eva by Alex Blackmore

 

Review Date: 14 December 2015

Author: Alex Blackmore

Release Date: 26 November 2015

Publishers: No Exit Press

ISBN –10: 184344657X

ISBN – 13: 978-1843446576

320pp

Available in Paperback and Kindle

 

The Last Word Review

An intense thriller that had me on the edge of my seat throughout the book

I must admit that I missed the first book in the Eva Scott series called Letha Profit but to be honest found it to read like a stand-alone novel.

We find Eva Scott as a witness to a dramatic murder at Waterloo station, as much as she tries to help the dying man it is all in vain, but it is his last words he says that haunt Eva and danger now stalks in the shadows that seem to follow. Sometimes the past that we try to bury awakens and comes back to stalk us and this is what now befalls Eva in Killing Eva the next chapter in the Eva Scott series.

Now facing extreme danger Eva must confront the past that is now haunting her every move and Eva must keep one step ahead of the ever present threat that follows her with the future entirely linked to the past that has been kept buried. When Eva lands in Berlin the action really starts and so does her paranoia

For me the plot developed at breakneck pace and I found the style of writing from Alex Blackmore really breath-taking. A thriller that keeps you on your toes to the very end of the story.

Even though I had not read the first in the series there can be sometimes what we call ‘Second book syndrome’ but based on Killing Eva, there is no suck worries here Alex Blackmore is a very competent writer. Here is a classic thriller that has everything.

The fact that Eva manages to escape out of situations that seem bleak is remarkable and I found that this thriller crossed over to a touch of sci-fi at times. If that was planned, it is unique trick to pull off in this sort of thriller especially as there is a genetic key as part of the main plot here.

The action scenes are a plenty and in great detail. Some conspiracy thrillers sometimes leave you a little cold but Killing Eva you will have no such complaints it is all here.

Here we have the ultimate cat and mouse conspiracy thriller were the stakes are not just high they are extremely high. So to the ending and how it ends. Now we have to wait with baited breath to see if there is a third in the series. If you love Hitchcock, you will love Killing Eva. Thank you to Alex Blackmore for a review copy of Killing Eva

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Meet the Author

Alex Blackmore

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Alex Blackmore was born in north London, raised in Somerset, and returned to her spiritual home in the north of the capital after a stint at Nottingham University and a year or so of wanderlust.

Writing has always been one of Alex’s passions and her love for a fast paced thriller is what drove her to start producing her own. Lethal Profit was published by No Exit in 2013 and Killing Eva is due for release as an Ebook in July 2015 and in print in November 2015. Her style draws on the influences of her literary heroes – such as Henning Mankell, who kindly provided input on Lethal Profit – as well as an interest in the issues that shape our contemporary world and the love of a good goose bumps moment.

In addition to writing thrillers, Alex runs a fashion retail site called The Glass Pineapple. The venture is currently at the startup stage and provides a platform for emerging fashion designers and independent brands. As well as supporting exciting design talent, the site will use innovative fashion tech to help overcome some very specific problems with buying online. The exciting project is already up and running and the full tech launch is scheduled for late 2015/early 2016 – watch this space.

Alex also has a second book due for completion this year that explores the mind of the modern woman, in particular in the context of ambition, sex and dating. The fictional account is dryly humorous, adventurous and frank, covering themes that many will easily identify with.

Finally, Alex also runs her own freelance copywriting business. She has written for a broad range of both big and boutique names in fashion, travel, food and technology, supplying everything from digital content through to old school marketing materials and PR campaign slogans.

If this sounds like a busy life then Alex is used to it, having trained and then practised as a finance lawyer in the City for five years. Specialising in acquisition finance, Alex worked in London and Paris during her time in the legal world and found it a fascinating and eye opening experience.

Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

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Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

 

Review Date: 10 December 2015

Author: Lisa Evans

Release Date: (PB) 31 December 2015

Publishers: Black Swan

ISBN –10: 0552774782

ISBN – 13: 978-0552774789

352pp

Available in Hardback, Paperback, Kindle and audio

 

The Last Word Review

The perfect book to read over Christmas. It’s wonderful, it’s funny, and it’s dark. You will laugh and cry a book to savour

I have to be truly honest here and say that I really enjoyed Crooked Heart without doubt one of THE books of 2015. I am so very grateful to be given the opportunity by Alison Barrow at Transworld Books for a review copy ahead of the paperback launch on 31st December. The hardback edition is still available and I urge you to rush out and get hold of this beautiful book before Christmas sets in and then over the holidays curl up and I know you will fall completely for Crooked Heart like I and many before me have. It will be one of those books that you will be more than happy to revisit in time and still hold dear as if it was the first time.

Having never read one of Lissa Evan’s previous books and no real excuse from my part just put this down to having too many books to read and review I was just so pleased that finally I have had the chance.

Crooked Heart is set in London during the first few years of World War II and can be described as gritty and down-to-earth. But set among the story is a comedy that shines through and Evans really has caught the moment in history just right.

Here we find Noel Bostock a ten-year-old boy who has been brought up since the age of four by his godmother Mattie, now the story of Mattie is that she was a suffragette so you can imagine what a ten- year-old boy has been taught. The entire storyline is so beautifully put together and clever as we see the story through the eyes of the 10 year-old. There is plenty of comedy throughout and the story races along.

After the death of his godmother Noel is evacuated via his aunt and uncle to live in St Albans, and there his new home is with Vee a widow and her 19-year-old son Donald who is a somewhat lazy. Vee spends her day writing letters to the Prime Minister Winston Churchill which are a delight to read and somewhat whimsical. Vee has little money to live and is in constant debt and they are basically living hand to mouth at the best of times. Now Vee has set her sights on Noel as a source of income and so her latest scam is set in motion. So while the blitz is going on around them they set about their new source of income with no regard for the law.

The scenes of London during the war years and especially the blitz are recreated by Evans and you can feel the tension rise from the pages during the raids as people try to cope the death and destruction all around as the bombs rained down on Vee and Noel.

I totally enjoyed both the lead characters of Vee and Noel two very different people who just happen to find something in common that only the war years could have brought if that is the right thing to say here. Donald I found seemed a story all by himself and in the end some may say he got his just deserts.

Earlier the story Evans even managed to bring dementia into the storyline with Mattie and there was some touching moments before she succumbed to the terrible disease.  A Real catastrophe for Noel.

I thoroughly enjoyed Crooked Heart just because it has the right amount of humour, even dark humour set among backdrop of London during the blitz. Evans has the balance just right. Not too dark and not too sentimental just a sheer joy to read and this reviewer was saddened at the close of the story. Anyone who loves historical fiction will totally enjoy Crooked Heart.

Do not let this one pass you by.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Meet the Author

Lissa Evans

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Lissa Evans grew up in the West Midlands.  She comes from a family of voracious readers and spent most of her adolescence in the local library, thus becoming well-read if not wildly popular.

After studying medicine at Newcastle University, she worked as a junior doctor for four years, before deciding to switch to a career in which she wasn’t terrified the entire time; five years producing  and script editing radio comedy followed,  and then a further five years producing and  directing for television, where her programmes included ‘Room 101’ and ‘Father Ted’.  Eventually, after a decade of running a red pencil through other people’s work, Lissa began to write something of her own.

Her first novel, ‘Spencer’s List’ was published in 2002, and since then she has written three other novels for adults, and two for children.  She lives in London with her husband and two daughters.  She still reads voraciously. Crooked Heart is Lissa Evans fourth book and the paperback will be released on 31 December 2015.

The Christmas Cafe by Amanda Prowse

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The Christmas Café by Amanda Prowse

 

Review Date: 5 December 2015

Author: Amanda Prowse

Release Date: 22 October 2015

Publishers: Head of Zeus

ISBN –10: 1784970379

ISBN – 13: 978-1784970376

368pp

Available in Paperback and Kindle

 

The Last Word Review

Set between Sydney and Edinburgh a story of love and heartbreak but also heart-warming

 

Amanda Prowse has done it again. I just wish I knew her secret on how she can come up with a story that will leave you as it has done with me. Writing with such prose is a gift. Amanda Prowse has that gift.

Amanda Prowse’s latest The Christmas Café is set in the Surrey Hills of Sydney, Australia and there Bea now 53 runs is struggling after the death of her husband. Bea believes only losing herself in her work can bury the true pain of loss that she feels and also the belief that she will never love again. So she sets about running their café alone. Anyone who has lost someone so very close to them knows only too well the sheer loneliness of that this can bring. So it is a blessing that Bea’s granddaughter Flora comes to stay as she is having a difficult time and this is the cause of some problems in her immediate family, then completely out of the blue comes a letter from the owner of the Christmas Café in Edinburgh there is within the email an invitation to join a worldwide forum for café owners. Bea has struck up a pen friend relationship with Alex and starts to open up about her innermost feelings. What Bea does not know at this time is that what she has started is about to change her life.

As time passes and both Bea and her Granddaughter Flora who is thirteen have really bonded with each other decide to travel to Edinburgh for the two weeks ahead of Christmas.

Imagine the climate change from the Australian Summer to the wilds of winter with added Snow thrown in Edinburgh for a thirteen year old. This is where Flora really comes into her own, I really enjoyed reading how they both adapted to the new surroundings.

From this point in the story now in Scotland really comes to the fore with Bea as there is a twist in the storyline and from here you struggle to put the book down and want to find out what happens next in the story.

This is another beautiful story from the pen of Amanda Prowse, and at the end it will leave you emotional but also with a warm glow that will see you through the coming holiday season.

I really enjoyed the main characters of Bea who was very down and struggling with life and using the café as an excuse to hide her pain and sorry after the death of her husband Peter. As for Flora the troubled teenager Amanda got this so spot on and this what makes the story run so smoothly.

This is book I know that fans of Amanda Prowse will automatically fall in love with, and if you have not yet read any of Amanda Prowse’s books, make a start this holiday season and stop of at The Christmas Café. You too will fall in love with Amanda’s books.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Meet the Author

Amanda Prowse

Amanda-Prowse

 Amanda has always obsessively crafted short stories and scribbled notes for potential books. Six years ago, she quit her job as a management consultant and began writing full time. Her first book, Poppy Day is a contemporary novel following an army wife whose incredible love for her husband gives her the courage to set out to rescue him after he was taken hostage in Afghanistan. Originally self-published in October 2011, Poppy Day quickly became a bestseller and Amanda joined the prestigious Head of Zeus publishing house.

The second in the No Greater Love series, ‘What Have I Done?’ was an eBook sensation where women worldwide identified with the theme of domestic abuse in middle class households and it was subsequently voted a ‘Best Book of 2013’ by Amazon Kindle. Amanda followed this by joining the team of the ITV This Morning show as their resident author in 2013 when a series of her ‘Summer Shorts’ were featured on the ITV website.

All of Amanda’s books in the No Greater Love series share one common theme – the main characters are ordinary women who find themselves in extraordinary situations where their strength, resourcefulness and determination is tested to their very limits.

Amanda’s ambition is to create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night, great characters that ensure you take every step with them and tales that fill your head so you can’t possibly read another book until the memory fades…

Follow Amanda on Twitter @MrsAmandaProwse, or become friends with Amanda on Facebook. For more information on Amanda’s books see http://www.amandaprowse.com

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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9780857523921

The Girl on the Train

by Paula Hawkins

Review Date: 30 November 2015

Author: Paula Hawkins

Release Date: 15 January 2015

Publishers: Doubleday

ISBN –10: 0857522310

ISBN – 13: 978-0857522313

320pp

Available in Hardback, Kindle and audio

The Last Word Review

The ultimate psychological thriller told by a drunken narrator. An outstanding debut novel

Paula Hawkins debut novel is the ultimate psychological thriller that will keep your pulses racing until the very last page.

The story is narrated through the eyes and pen of Rachel a lonely somewhat miserable young woman who drinks a lot, let’s face it Rachel is an alcoholic. Every morning she commutes by train to London to work, there is also a fantasy going on here as she see the same couple every day from the window of her carriage and creates a fantasy world for this couple. What we then realise here is that the sub plot is that this couple live just a few doors away from Rachel’s ex-husband Tom and his new wife Anna.

The narration from Rachel is something that makes The Girl on the Train something very special and incredibly insightful from a woman whose life really has come off the rails. Through the narration you begin to understand how Rachel lives a life through a glass and if often so drunk she has no memory of what has happened in her life. She has had a drink problem for quite some time and the fact that she lost her job because of it adds to the mystery of her daily train journeys into London.

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Many reviews I have read of Paula Hawkins debut novel said they could not show any empathy with Rachel, yet I totally became involved with her and she stands out to me more so than any of the other lead characters, yet I am not entirely sure why, I put this down to the incredible skill of Hawkins writing and how she has portrayed Rachel.

When Megan goes missing Rachel believes she holds vital information as what happened, but alas Rachel’s memory is vague to say the least and struggles to recall exact details and the frustration that bubbles to the surface in this taught thriller. Add to this that Rachel continues to harass her ex-husband, lies and is viewed with incredible amount of suspicion by those around her.

Rachel decides to take it upon herself to get involved in the investigation into the disappearance of Megan and also those very close to the investigation.

There is a real twist to the end of the story that will keep you gripped until the very last moments as Rachel finally recalls some detail from one of her previous blackouts. There is so much more to The Girl on the Train that it is at times completely unpredictable a clever and refreshingly brilliant thriller.

With the huge success of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl still very much fresh in our minds, 2015 has seen some brilliant thrillers based around poisonous relationships but without a shadow of doubt The Girl on the Train is the runaway success of the year and a global smash hit and with a film now due to hit the screens late 2016 staring Emily Blunt in the lead role will surely be just as successful on the screen as the book has been through 2015.

If you have been living anywhere other than this planet and you have not yet experienced The Girl on the Train, make this a Christmas book choice to curl up with over the holidays and experience what the rest of the World has in this rollercoaster of a modern psychological thriller.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

*Note the main photograph of the jacket of the book is the special edition available from Waterstones booksellers.

 https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-girl-on-the-train/paula-hawkins/9780857523921

Meet the Author

Paula Hawkins

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Paula Hawkins worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction.

Born and brought up in Zimbabwe, Paula moved to London in 1989 and has lived there ever since. The Girl on the Train is her first thriller and the runaway number one best-seller of 2015.     

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