Wednesday 6 December 2023

My top picks for 2024

It's that time of year again ...

The Fellowship of Puzzle Makers by Samuel Burr / Anna O by Matthew Blake / The Switch by Lily Samson / Day One by Abigail Dean / Mr's Quinn's Rise to Fame by Olivia Ford / Seven Days by Robert Rutherford / Empire Book 2 [Title TBC] Michael Ball 

Piglet by Lottie Hazell / When We Were Silent by Fiona McPhillips / Roar by Cecelia Ahern / The Story Collector by Iris Costello / The Best Way to Bury Your Husband by Alexia Casale / The Traitor's Wife by Sarah Steele / The Things We Do to Our Friends by Heather Darwent 

Truth Truth Lie by Clare McGowan / Diva by Daisy Godwin / The Actor by Chris MacDonald / Plot Twist by Breea Keenan / The Haven by Fiona Neill / The Women by Kristin Hannah / The Fury by Alex Michaelides

Everyone Who Can Forgive Me Is Dead by Jenny Hollander / Five Bad Deeds by Caz Frear / The Baker's Secret by Lelita Baldcock / A Lesson In Cruelty by Harriet Tyce /  Goodbye Birdie Greenwig by Erika Waller / Clickbait by L.C. North / The Secret Pianist by  Andie Newton

End of Story by A.J. Finn / Nosy Neighbours by Freya Sampson /  The Hunter by Tana French / Unsinkable by Jenni L. Walsh / Night Watching by Tracy Sierra / A Stranger In The Family by Jane Casey / The Safe Keep by Yael Van Der Wouden

Girl Friends by Alex Dahl / The Underground Library by Jennifer Ryan / Five Nights by Rachel Wolf / One Love by Matt Cain / The Young Widows by S.J. Short / The Scandalous Life of Ruby Deveraux by M.J. Robotham / Where They Lie by Claire Coughlan

This is by no means a definitive list and I am also looking forward to discovering many more wonderful books from both new and established authors during 2024.

Thursday 23 November 2023

Review - the Game by Martin Kemp

The Game by Martin Kemp
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Release date: 9 November 2023
Back cover blurb: Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose ... Johnny Klein is a rock casualty, a fallen 1980s popstar who has lost everything — his family, his money and his fame. Thrown a lifeline by an old contact in the music business, Johnny doesn’t care what he is getting himself into. Dragged down into East London’s dark underbelly, Johnny discovers there is more at stake than his own shattered ego. Johnny hates being yesterday’s man but now he’s wishing he could disappear altogether. The party might be over, but there’s no escape from the past…  

Johnny Klein is a fictional character, but could resemble any one of a number of washed up 1980s pop stars who have chosen not to make money out of the reunion circuit.

Johnny is what one might call a loveable rogue. 

Once the most charming (and fancied) man in the business, now he's down on his luck, and almost out on the streets. He has broken relationships with those he loves through decades of heavy drinking and drug taking.

But he is trying his best to get back on his feet.

So desperate is he to do the right thing, and mend some of those broken relationships, that he will do almost anything to survive and start brining in some cash.

When an old contact says he wants to see him, Johnny is excited at the possibility of a gig. Maybe playing a stint in a band, or recording something as a session musician. 

Unfortunately this person has other ideas. He needs Johnny's help with something that isn't strictly legal. Despite his reservations Johnny isn't exactly in a position to refuse, and he used to dealing with some unsavoury characters. 

After all showbiz is full of them.

It isn't until he  that he starts to wonder what he's gotten himself in to, and if he can make it out alive. 

The Game is a brilliant debut, and I look forward to reading the next in the series. 

The Game is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday 21 November 2023

[Blog tour] Review - Unnatural Death by Patricia Cornwell

Unnatural Death by Patricia Cornwell
Review date:
Back cover blurb: Two mauled bodies in the woods. Two top secret autopsies. The most chilling case of Scarpetta's career . . . In this thrilling new instalment of the #1 bestselling series, chief medical examiner Dr Kay Scarpetta finds herself in a Northern Virginia wilderness examining the remains of two campers wanted by federal law enforcement. The victims have been savaged beyond recognition, and other evidence is terrifying and baffling, including a larger-than-life footprint. After one of the most frightening body retrievals of her career, Scarpetta must discover who would commit murders this brutal, and why.

For someone who loves a crime thriller, it may surprise you to know that I've never read a Kay Scarpetta novel before (insert appropriate shocked face emoji)...!

Unnatural Death was the perfect introduction to the series, easily read and enjoyed as a standalone novel. 

Dr Kay Scarpetta, Chief Medical Examiner is called upon to retrieve two bodies from a remote and foreboding location, not to mention dangerous. Their deaths are surrounded in mystery and are of interest to the US intelligence service.

These people weren't just wanted by their killers.

Brittany and Huck Manson were found brutally mauled in a Northern Virginia wilderness, only moments from where they were camping in the dangerous location, exposed to nature and the elements. 

Amongst the sometimes confusing evidence is a huge footprint, could the Big Foot have something to do with their deaths? 

Or could it be an elaborate set up to put the investigators off the scent?

All Dr Scarpetta knows for sure is that it is one of the most confusing, frightening and dangerous cases of her career to date. 

She must find the perpetrators, and fast.

Unnatural Death is a thrilling novel, and yes, I will be reading more in the series! 

Unnatural Death is available to pre-order now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who supplied me with an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Don't forget to follow the rest of the blog tour:

Wednesday 15 November 2023

Review- A Quiet Contagion by Jane Jesmond

A Quiet Contagion by Jane Jesmond
Publisher: Verve Books
Release date: 28 November 2023
Back cover blurb: Six decades. Seven people. One unspeakable secret. 1957. A catastrophe occurs at the pharmaceutical lab in Coventry where sixteen-year-old Wilf is working for the summer. A catastrophe that needs to be covered up at all costs. 2017. Phiney is shocked by the death of her grandfather, Wilf, who has jumped from a railway bridge at a Coventry station. Journalist Mat Torrington is the only witness. Left with a swarm of unanswered questions, Phiney, Mat and Wilf's wife, Dora, begin their own enquiries into Wilf's death. It is soon clear that these two events, sixty years apart, are connected - and that Wilf is not the only casualty. But what is the link? And can they find out before any more lives are lost? A Quiet Contagion is a powerfully disquieting mystery for modern times, inspired by the 1957 Coventry polio epidemic as well as the more recent global coronavirus pandemic. 

Wilf has lived with illness all of his life, and seems to have dealt with it well. 

Until he hasn't... 

His death from a fall at a Railway station is no accident. 

Except to those around him who cannot believe it could be anything but.

Josephine, otherwise known as Phiney is devastated at the loss of her beloved Grandfather, Wilf. She doesn't believe that he would commit suicide, not when he had so much to live for, despite his health issues stemming from childhood Polio.

But there is one thing bothering her. He was in Coventry on the day of his death, but she didn't know he was going to be there. Why would he not have mentioned it, or come to visit her?

Dora, Wilf's widow is also unaccepting of the explanation for Wilf's death. Her and Phiney haven't always seen eye to eye, but on this subject they agree that the truth must be uncovered.

Wilf's death was witnessed by one person, a local journalist Mat. He is sympathetic to a point. But he knows what he saw, and he knows how to sniff out a story. Meaning he doesn't seem immediately trustworthy to either Phiney or Dora.

When Phiney comes across an old photograph in her Grandfather's shed, she wonders if it holds any clues as to why he was in Coventry on the day of his death. She decides to try and track down the others from that time.

When she finds out that one of them has recently passed away, her interest is immediately heightened. His death isn't being treated as suspicious, but Phiney isn't sure that it's not connected to her Grandfather's in some way. 

But what could it possibly have to do with an old photograph?

I did feel like I had to wait until quite late on in the book to find out and tie up a lot of ends, but the air of mystery kind of added to the story from my perspective. This is a unique type of crime thriller, which I really enjoyed. 

A Quite Contagion is available to pre-order now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday 8 November 2023

Review - Water by John Boyne

Water by John Boyne
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Release date: 2 November 2023
Back cover blurb: From million-copy-bestselling author John Boyne comes a masterfully reflective story about one woman coming to terms with the demons of her past and finding a new path forward. The first thing Vanessa Carvin does when she arrives on the island is change her name. To the locals, she is Willow Hale, a solitary outsider escaping Dublin to live a hermetic existence in a small cottage, not a notorious woman on the run from her past. But scandals follow like hunting dogs. And she has some questions of her own to answer. If her ex-husband is really the monster everyone says he is, then how complicit was she in his crimes? Escaping her old life might seem like a good idea but the choices she has made throughout her marriage have consequences. Here, on the island, Vanessa must reflect on what she did - and did not do. Only then can she discover whether she is worthy of finding peace at all. Can you ever truly wash away your past?

Vanessa Carvin moves to a remote island from Ireland's mainland in an attempt to remove herself from a media circus, and the wrath of strangers that she doesn't know, but who believe that she must have been complicit in crimes committed by her husband.

Her own daughter is amongst those who doesn't believe that her Mother knew nothing of the Father's crimes, which breaks Vanessa's heart. But she knows that she herself must learn to move on from the past, before she can expect others to do the same.

Almost immediately once she arrives on the island, Vanessa changes her name to Willow. 

Wanting to appear as someone who is escaping city life, rather than real life. 

She has deliberately chosen the most remote cottage on the island. 

Not wanting to attract attention from the locals.

But of course she does. 

She is an outsider, on a small island with a tight knit community, who have a reputation for running strangers off the island and back to the mainland. 

She is careful who she make acquaintances with, and seeks out those like herself who seem to have something to hide.

For we all have secrets.

Although it wasn't made explicit at the start of the novel, I had an idea of what Brendan Carvin had been accused and convicted of, but to have it confirmed was no less shocking.

Water is the first in a series of four novels by this acclaimed author, and I really look forward to the next! 

Water is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops. 

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday 3 November 2023

Review - the Kamogawa Food Detectives by Hisashi Kashiwai

the Kamogawa Food Detectives by Hisashi Kashiwai
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Release date: 5 October 2023
Back cover blurb: The Kamogawa Food Detectives, translated from Japanese by Jesse Kirkwood, is the first book in the bestselling, mouth-watering Japanese sleuthing series for fans of Before the Coffee Gets Cold. What’s the one dish you’d do anything to taste just one more time? Down a quiet backstreet in Kyoto exists a very special restaurant. Run by Koishi Kamogawa and her father Nagare, the Kamogawa Diner treats its customers to wonderfully extravagant meals. But that's not the main reason to stop by . . .The father-daughter duo have started advertising their services as 'food detectives'. Through ingenious investigations, they are capable of recreating a dish from their customers' pasts – dishes that may well hold the keys to unlocking forgotten memories and future happiness. From the widower looking for a specific noodle dish that his wife used to cook, to a first love's beef stew, the restaurant of lost recipes provides a link to the past – and a way to a more contented future. A bestseller in Japan, The Kamogawa Food Detectives by Hisashi Kashiwai is a celebration of good company and the power of a delicious meal

I absolutely adored this unique novel about a food detective agency. The original Japanese, translated in to English by Jesse Kirkwood.

A simple, short, but satisfying novel about the power of delicious food.

Have you ever had a dish from your past that you'd love to re-create one last time, but just can't get something right?

Perhaps a dish that a deceased parent used to make, or a dish from a memorable first date. 

You perhaps know the basic ingredients, but find something lacking. Or perhaps you have all the ingredients but don't know how to get them to work together to create that perfect dish.

Well then, Koishi and Nagare Kamogawa are there to find and recreate them for you.

Owner and Daughter of the secretive Kamogawa Diner in Kyoto, only discoverable by those who take the time of find the diner, and attached agency. 

The Kamogawa's don't advertise heavily. Kyoto is full of tourists at the best of times, and their diner is all about offering an authentic traditional experience, to those from their homeland that really need it... 

But it seems that one mysterious advert is all they need, word of mouth, and friendship does the rest, and the Kamogawa diner becomes a hidden Kyoto gem.

I don't want to say anymore, for risk of spoiling this wonderful book. It is beautifully written, and I would like to read more from this author ... Oh, and it really made me want to go back to Japan!!

The Kamogawa Food Detectives is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.