Category Archives: book review

The Family Retreat by Bev Thomas – a review Blog Tour

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Family Retreat by Bev Thomas which is out on the 25th August.

Screenwriter Rob and his wife Jess are going away for the summer after a year that has pushed Jess to the edge as she’s struggled with her job as a GP. Rob is convinced that this will be the perfect holiday they all need and their children are excited to be able to spend the summer at the beach. The family are staying in a rented cottage in a small village in Dorset and soon start to meet the neighbours in the close-knit community. Jess is particularly drawn to the slightly standoffish Helen, with her perfect husband and two well behaved children. However as the summer plods on it soon become clear that Helen isn’t quite what she seems!

The Family Retreat was a really good story that I read over a couple of evenings as it was absolutely gripping.

Bev Thomas’ debut novel was A Good Enough Mother which I also loved. When I reviewed that, at the time I said that it was part mystery and part emotional drama and the same goes for The Family Retreat. This is a book that makes you think and question people’s attitudes to others. It deals with some big issues including abuse and mental health, in fact my only slight criticism was that there seemed to be almost too many issues towards the end, however that was just a very small point as the story is excellent.

The Family Retreat was a really well written book, and I felt that the way that really sensitive topics were dealt with was very sympathetic and well researched. The characters were all interesting and well rounded, and without giving too much away the reveal when it comes is shocking and although all the clues are there I didn’t put them together. I particularly felt for Jess as we find out what happened in her life to lead to her sabbatical, and her tendancy to get too emotionally involved with others.

This was a engaging novel with the tension building slowly throughout with a sense of foreboding from the start. I would most definitely recommend this and it was a perfect hot weather read.

To find out what others thought of The Family Retreat visit the other stops on the blog tour.

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Quarter to Midnight by Karen Rose – a review BLOG TOUR


I’ve been lucky enough to be invited onto some fantastic blog tours recently and the latest for the new novel by Karen Rose is no exception.

Quarter to Midnight by Karen Rose is the start of a brand new series featuring a band of private investigators led by Burke Broussard. Rocky Herbert has seemingly killed himself, however his son Gabe is certain that his dad wouldn’t do that and has a private autopsy done before hiring the Broussard agency. PI Molly Sutton soon realises that ex policeman Rocky was working on his own investigation. An investigation that threatens to expose corruption within the police force and bring down some high ranking individuals. A phonecall leads them to Xavier, a young lad who is the key witness to the case. Unfortunately they are not the only people who know that Xavier is the key and soon they are all running for their lives.

This is a great start to a cracking new series that was full of action and twists from the start. The series is set in New Orleans which is a fascinating city that Karen Rose managed to portray all sides of, from the terrible devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina to the diverse musical heritage the place is known for to the amazing sounding food and drink.

I enjoyed this story although it was not a quick read at over 600 pages and for me it did seem to drag on a bit in the middle but that’s probably because I was impatient to find out what was going to happen.

There were a lot of characters to keep track of but I found the story was so engrossing that it’s simple to keep everyone straight. I really enjoyed the characters of Xavier’s Mum and her friend Willa Mae. Their light hearted banter in the midst of some dark scenes was a real highlight.

As with a lot of the author’s stories this has a romance element and the budding relationship between PI Molly and her charge Gabe is interesting, although as I was keen to get back to the thriller element. The mix of thriller, romance and old fashioned adventure story was a mix that worked really well and creates a riveting read.

I have always been a big fan of Karen Rose, and despite it’s length this is a great start to a new series and I would definitely be looking out for the next in the series.

Find out what others thought on the tour:

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The Dark Remains by Ian Rankin and William McIlvanney – a review BLOG TOUR


I am a big fan of Ian Rankin and was once lucky enough to join him for a whisky (ok so I was with all the other people who had bought tickets but I was in the same room as him!) so when I was asked to join the blog tour for his latest The Dark Remains of course I said yes.

The Dark Remains is actually a joint venture between Rankin and the late William McIlvanney. Rankin took the notes McIlvanney had written and turned them into a fully fledged story. This novel is a prequel to the original trilogy and introduces us to a young DC Laidlaw, who has a great policing sense but isn’t always very good at following orders. When Bobby Carter, a lawyer who works for some dubious but powerful families, is found dead, Laidlaw has to find out what happened before the gang rivalry becomes all out war.

I enjoyed this story alot. I’ve read the McIlvanney books and I’ve read Rankin so was interested to see how this mix would work. For me it takes the best of both and mixes it into an immensely enjoyable read. There is the humour of an Ian Rankin Rebus story overlaid with the grit of the Laidlaw background. The story is set in a Glasgow of the 70’s and I felt that this was portrayed well. The quality of the writing shows in that you are instantly transported to the city at that time and don’t need to be constantly reminded in words. It was enjoyable to read a detective story set in a time before mobile phones, and modern day forensics.

The story itself is what you would expect of a Rebus book, lots of gangsters and Glasgow slang but with characters that are also full of warmth and personality. It was interesting to find out about Laidlaw’s family and I enjoyed this glimpse into how the man became who he was.

The one thing I would say is read this with an open mind. It isn’t an Ian Rankin, and it isn’t a William McIlvanney, what it is, is a very good story!

Find out what others thought by visiting the other stops on the tour:


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Murder by the Sea by David Howard and Robin Jarossi – a review


Having spent part of my childhood living near the seaside town of Cromer I have always had a bit of a fascination with coastal places, especially the disconnect between the holiday sunny ideal and the reality of seasonal living. Therefore when I was asked to review a true crime book focusing on murders in seaside towns I jumped at the chance.

Murder by the Sea is a companion to the CBS Reality true crime documentary series of the same name, and features 10 of the series stories with extra material that couldn’t be in the show, including interviews with detectives and witnesses.

This was a fascinating book with 10 hideous crimes all set in British Seaside Towns. Some of the stories you may know, for example that of John Cooper who was portrayed in the TV drama series The Pembrokeshire Murders. There are also others that I hadn’t heard of such as Mathew Hardman who killed Mabel Leyshon in Anglsey, or Malcom Green who murdered Gleys Johnson and Clive Tully nearly twenty years apart.

Murder By The Sea gives an interesting insight into the crimes and both the murderers as well as the victims but it also paints a picture of the coastal towns that goes against the postcard pictures usually seen. I really enjoyed the way this book was written. Each of the ten stories are well researched and have enough details to keep you interested but equally each chapter is relatively short so it keeps you reading.

A must for fans of true crime and a good read whether or not you have seen the TV series.

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