Monday, 28 March 2016

Book Review: The Teacher by Katerina Diamond

You think you know who to trust?You think you know the difference between good and evil? You’re wrong … 


The body of the head teacher of an exclusive Devon school is found hanging from the rafters in the assembly hall.

Hours earlier he’d received a package, and only he could understand the silent message it conveyed. It meant the end.

As Exeter suffers a rising count of gruesome deaths, troubled DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles must solve the case and make their city safe again.

But as they’re drawn into a network of corruption, lies and exploitation, every step brings them closer to grim secrets hidden at the heart of their community.

And once they learn what’s motivating this killer, will they truly want to stop him?

I received a copy of this novel thanks to Netgalley and the publisher, Avon, in return for an honest review.

Sexual fetishes, gruesome torture devices, nothing is left to the imagination in this gory tale of a string of murders and corruption. We are warned of the nature of the violence, and it doesn't disappoint - which I find quite sad  because it should be shocking. Nothing is particularly shocking these days.

I initially found The Teacher quite difficult to get to grips with as there were a lot of characters introduced in a lot of different scenes, I got quite confused and almost gave up trying to work out who was who.

The two DSs on the case, Miles and Grey, are among the many in the story trying to escape their past. Grey in particular is well-drawn, but it takes a while to warm to Miles, who has been left quite numb by previous events.

Once I got to grips with what was going on, I mostly enjoyed the story. There is tenderness, in amongst the violence, and there are couple of sex scenes which are surprisingly gentle and provide a stark contrast to the rest of the book. 

I was disappointed as I guessed the identity of the murderer early on, and despite the reasoning behind their behaviour, I found the ending of the story rather unbelievable.


Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Book Review: Summer Nights at the Moonlight Hotel - Jane Costello

The Moonlight Hotel sits on the shore of England’s best-loved lake, Windermere, exuding vintage glamour.

Lauren loves the hotel, for hidden inside its faded walls is the key to her most precious memories. So, along with her best friends, Cate and Emily, she signs up to a new dance class in its gorgeous ballroom. They aren’t going for the men, they’re going for a laugh – although a little romance wouldn’t hurt . . .

But then a chain of events off the dance floor puts their friendship to the ultimate test, and makes Lauren question everything she holds dear.

Put on your dancing shoes and escape to The Moonlight Hotel, for Jane’s funniest and most poignant novel yet…

Jane Costello is quickly rising to the top of my All Time Favourite Authors. I love love love her books; full of warmth, love, humour and that little bit of grit which shows real depth to the characters.

This book is no exception. I received this from the publisher Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review, and I can honestly say I loved it.

Lauren is the type of main character that we can all identify with in some way; a little bit clumsy and inept, and hopelessly in love with someone they can't have. I love the way Jane shows how blinkered we can be in refusing to see people for who they really are.

Edwin is the object of Lauren's affections, and she would go to the ends of the Earth for him - well, to Singapore, at least.

Cate and Emily are Lauren's best friends, and they have their own problems to deal with. Cate has a serious issue that is so very relevant in today's society, and Jane handles this with sensitivity and leaves you thinking about the consequences of such actions for a long time after finishing the book.

There is a beautiful poignancy throughout the story as we learn how much a father means to a daughter. My heartstrings were not so much tugged as yanked at times!

Of course it's not all doom and gloom and soggy tissues, Jane's humour lightens the book with genuine laugh-out-loud moments.

Summer Nights at the Moonlight Hotel is a wonderful story of love, friendship, hot men and hot salsa - but left me with no desire to go walking in the Lake District!

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Books, Fizz and Cake - Spring Bloggers Evening

Photo courtesy of @TeamBATC

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Spring Blogger Evening at Books and The City in London. These events, led by the irrepressible whirlwind Sara-Jade Virtue, (I love this woman!) never fail to disappoint and last night was no exception.

We had the pleasure of meeting fabulous authors Juliet Ashton, Holly Hepburn (both of whom I adore and I'm lucky enough to have met before), Paige Toon (serious fan-girl moment!) and lovely debut authors Penny Parkes and Georgia Clark. They all read excerpts from their new novels, and OH MY GOD we got VIP proofs in our generous goody bags - I know! I love these events!

There was fizz, cheese straws and gorgeous cupcakes specially commissioned from Crumbs and Doilies, and chat about plot twists - quite tricky to do without spoilers! - with conniving cousins, tricky triplets, dishy doctors and bashful blacksmiths. Watch this space for reviews of these exciting new books - I just don't know which one to start with!

It was a great chance to catch up with great friends and meet online friends IRL. Writers and bloggers form such a sociable, friendly community. And they say being a writer is lonely - not a chance with this bunch!

Thanks again for a fabulous evening! Hopefully one day I will be one of those authors!

Me (centre) with blogger/author Annette (left) and Editor of fabulous books Clare (right)

Me again (left) with Author & heat Magazine's Book Reviews EditorIsabelle (right)

Monday, 14 March 2016

Book Review: Strictly Between Us by Jane Fallon

Tamsin and her best friend Michelle have been inseparable since they were teenagers. Even now they spend all their time together, along with Patrick, Michelle's handsome husband.
So when Tamsin hears a rumour that Patrick is having an affair, she is furious. Unwilling to ignore it, Tamsin plots a scheme to catch Patrick in the act, using her assistant Bea as live-bait. It should be fool proof.
After all, Tamsin can trust Bea with anything. From her daily coffee order to fetching her dry-cleaning, writing reports and doing all the filing - Bea does everything with a smile on her face.
Except Tamsin never considered Bea might have her own agenda.
And if she does, then Tamsin really needs to watch her back . . .

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy for review.

What lengths would you go to to protect your best friend. What if you found out her husband was playing away, but then he turns the tables on you and you find yourself risking everything?

Tamsin's efforts to help her friend backfire when she does something unthinkable. Her guilt and love for her best friend drive her deeper and deeper into trouble, and there are some hilarious antics

It's a sharp and sassy read, with some truly astonishing twists and turns, and I was taken by surprise by the ending. I love a story that's not bland or formulaic.

The characters were brilliant. Okay, so Tamsin does something incredibly stupid, but we're all human. Also she takes her beloved assistant for granted - something that is shown quite well later on. It's a great insight into the world of 'bosses vs assistants', where there's always more to the underling than the boss would ever dream. But Tamsin is a believable, flawed character which makes for entertaining reading. Patrick is a worm who makes you wish that you could punch him. Adam is a wonderful character, who I rooted for all through the novel.

This is the first of Jane Fallon's books I've read, and I'll definitely be reading more!

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Book Review - Waiting for You by Catherine Miller

Waiting for You is an emotional and gripping debut novel you won’t be able to put down…
You’d never guess that Fliss Chapron doesn’t have it all. 
All Fliss wants is to see two blue lines telling her she is pregnant with her much longed for second baby. But as the negative tests stack up, dreams of completing her perfect family feel more hopeless every day.
After years of disappointment, Fliss’s husband Ben is spending more time at the office than in their marital bed, and Fliss finds herself wondering who could be responsible for their inability to conceive another child. Yet, where do you lay the blame when it comes to having a child – and can anyone really be at fault…
As Ben becomes increasingly distant, Fliss begins to question whether her desire for a baby is just a sticking plaster to save her marriage. Because in the end, how well can you ever know another person…even the man you’re married to?

I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I started reading this with some trepidation, as my baby-making days are most definitely over (four is plenty thank you very much!), and I felt I had kind of moved on from stories about pregnancy etc. And to start with, I sighed thinking it was going to be the story of a woman’s desperation to have another baby. Which believe me, I can sympathise with, having been in that situation myself, but as I said, I was over it.

But Waiting for You is so much more.

Yes, Fliss wants another baby, and at the beginning, that is the only thing that will make her happy. But her husband (who is a selfish prick) doesn’t share her hopes and dreams, for reasons revealed later on (don’t worry, I don’t do spoilers.)

I soon warmed to Fliss’s character, learning there was so much more to her than her desperation. I loved the way she is plagued by guilt over feelings she knows she shouldn’t be having, but despite this going against the grain for some romance novelists, it is handled with delicacy.

The secondary characters are very well written; the lovely Ange, who is in a similar predicament to Fliss, the lovely Leon (is it normal to want to rip a fictional book character’s clothes off??) and the husband Ben. (Husbands tend not to fare well in fiction, do they? Poor Ben. The W*nker). Oh and the despicable, thoroughly dislikeable Carrie.

The interaction between the characters is believable and engaging. Only a few pages in, and I couldn’t stop reading, having found myself involved in Fliss’s story and eager to find out what happened next. And that was despite having to read it on my phone (my poor, poor Kindle died recently). That’s how good it is.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Book Review: The Sun in Her Eyes by Paige Toon

I know I'm a little late to the party with this one, but with so many books to read... well, you know!

I loved this book. It shows the different relationships between friends and family, and how people grow and change within these relationships.

What Amber does later on may be shocking to some, but her character is portrayed refreshingly sympathetically, showing her conflict in emotions and the consequences. I love that she isn't written as a perfect MC who can do no wrong, but someone who has flaws and has responsibility for her own actions.

The other characters are drawn well too, and I find my allegiances with certain characters changing as the story develops.

I also loved the setting of Adelaide, a place I visited many years ago. It brought back many memories for me, and I had to resist the urge to shout out 'I've been there!' as I recognised place names. Especially as I ended up reading the last half of the novel in one go through the night, with my husband snoring beside me. He would not have appreciated me waking him up.

The only slight negative - and it is slight - I have is the 'secret', which personally I found a little of an anticlimax. Saying that, there is plenty of other drama throughout the novel.

A great book, and I shall definitely be reading more of Paige Toon's novels.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The woes of an ageing fangirl

So... Muse, the best band in the whole history of the universe amen, are headlining at Glastonbury. And I don't have a ticket.

We all knew it was pretty likely. I even looked at registering for tickets, but then they wanted photo ID blah blah and really, I've been too busy/forgot/couldn't be arsed.

With Glastonbury tickets selling out in the first nanosecond or whatever, there are ways of getting in that don't involve climbing over fences or hiding in someone's rucksack.

You can be a volunteer - be a litter/picker/hand out bog rolls/flush toilets/direct drunk people through a sea of mud - and they will pay for your ticket, provide a couple of meals a day plus a a separate camping area with hot showers.

Yay! I can do that, I thought. So I signed up to WaterAid.

Well the first part, anyway.

You see, there is a flaw in my cunning plan. The second part of the application involves uploading a short video showing how I would encourage people to support WaterAid.

It's a great charity, and they do wonderful things, but can  really stand in front of a camera and convince them I would be a great ambassador?

I only want to see Muse!

I've never been to Glastonbury, and I'll be 43 next month. I attended my first ever festival last year - Download - and yes, it was because Muse were headlining. And it was awesome. It was also, as most festivals are wont to be, very wet and muddy (DAMN our climate to hell and back) and my festival tent definitely was not waterproof. But I was with friends, and it was a brilliant experience.

But can I really put myself through that - and worse, cos I would be working, any  possibly cleaning out toilets where pissheads have gone to die - just to see Matt Bellamy's arse (gorgeous though it is) bouncing around the stage, flirting with drummer Dom, and to see bassist Chris with his mouth organ (oooer!). I am getting on a bit, after all. And I'm not very fit (mostly my own doing - overweight/diabetes/lazyitis).

I am getting to see Muse twice in the next couple of months. And I was lucky enough to see them a couple of times last year. And they are only on for one night, and there will be thousands of people there.

My poor long suffering husband says he's happy for me to go. He knows Resistance  (ha! Muse fans: see what I did there?) is futile, he knows what a desperate sad fangirl I am.

There's all the other bands there too, and the whole Glasto experience.

I don't know what to do.