My Sister by Michelle Adams – a review

I was given a free copy of this at the festival last year, and it has only just reached the top of my rather teetering ‘to be read’ pile.

My Sister is the debut novel by Michelle Adams. It tells the story of Irini who was given away by her parents at the age of three. They chose to keep her sister Elle rather than her,  a decision which she has never understood. Over the years Irini has had sporadic contact with her sister, but every time it has ended badly with her sister seemingly always getting her trouble. Now a grown up living with her boyfriend, Irini hasn’t had any contact with her family for years. However when she finds out that her mother has died she heads back to the family home for the funeral. It becomes clear that there are secrets around every corner and Irini becomes determined to find out the truth about why she was given away.

This was a good read, and I enjoyed it. The story was interesting and the intrigue behind why parent’s would chose one sister over the other kept the pages turning. Yet there was just something that didn’t really work for me. I have read quite a few books around Sisters over the past, being one of a pair of sisters myself this premise always intrigues me. Yet these two just left me a bit cold. Don’t get me wrong, the story itself was a good drama. The writing had a nice easy flow about it, and it was a fast read. Yet for me, I just felt that there were a few too many incidents that were a little implausible. I also thought personally that the ending was rather abrupt and slightly out of left field. Although on the other hand it may have been that I missed some of the hints as I did get a little bored in the middle and maybe didn’t concentrate as I should.

What I did like was the sense that this was a novel that could have been set in any era. Ignoring the obvious mobile phone references, it had quite an eerie feel to the story which was quite unusual. Most of the action takes place in a big Gothic style old house with dusty unused rooms. The house is in a village full of local people who love a gossip but won’t interact with strangers. Overall the story itself was good, and I wanted to find out the truth as much as Irini but it unfortunately just didn’t blow me away. However it is a debut novel and I would certainly look out for Michelle Adams’ next one.

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Porcelain: flesh of the innocents by Lee Cockburn – a review Spring Reading Week BLOG TOUR

​I was given a  copy of Porcelain: flesh of the innocents by Lee Cockburn from the publisher Clink Street Publishing and I am delighted to be part of their spring reading week.

Porcelain is described as vivid, dark and unsettling and it most certainly is. Set in Edinburgh, the story starts with two five year old’s being horrifically abused by their mother and her boyfriend. Fast forward twenty years and the police are dealing with a vigilante killer who is preying on people with links to paedophilia. At each murder scene a porcelain doll is found. DS Nicks is leading the investigation as she still struggles to come to terms with the outcome of her last big case.

This was actually the second novel by Lee Cockburn and I hadn’t read the first which is referred to quite a lot but this still seems to work as a stand alone novel.

Porcelain was a novel that very much divided my opinion. The storyline was definitely not for the fainthearted. It deals with some horrific issues, and it is pretty graphic. It’s testament to the quality of the writing though that you want to continue to the end.

However I really wasn’t keen on the main character of DS Nicks. I was disappointed by this as I usually love a good strong female lead, yet I struggled with Taylor Nicks. Her attitude to her colleagues seemed very much at odds with how a professional should act. She basically sleeps with every female she sets eyes on and this means practically every other chapter is a long description of her encounters. I have to admit to getting a bit bored of so many graphic sex scenes that I felt were just a distraction from the actual story so I did skip over them a bit. Of course this detachment may have been because I hadn’t read the first novel, so I may have felt more sympathy with the detective if I had had more knowledge of her background. I did like the character of family man Detectives Marcus Black though and he is a good contrast to his partner DS Nicks.

However despite my reservations the police procedural element of this book was excellent. Lee was previously in the police force and her knowledge is clear. Despite the dark elements of the plot the story moves along at a pace, and there are plenty of twists and turns. Every time I thought I knew how it was going to pan out there was a new twist ahead.

If you like your crime novels to be dark then this is definitely one for you although it’s probably a good idea to read her first novel Devil’s Demise before embarking on this one.

Thanks very much to Clink Street Publishing for letting me take part in the Spring Reading Week which is now at an end but has been a great way to find some new reads. 

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Spring Reads Guest Post – Matthew Redford

Now regular readers of my blog will be familiar with the hilarious world of Food Sapiens and our main carrot DI Wortel. Remember the case of the dead mince spy? For those of you who have no idea what I’m on about you can find out more here (Addicted to death by Matthew Redford – a reviewWho killed the Mince Spy BLOG TOUR – Guest post

Well as part of the Spring Reads 2017 I am delighted to welcome back Matthew Redford, author of Addicted to Death, which tops the list of funniest crime novel ever in my opinion. I was keen to find out more about the food sapiens. So I’ll hand you over to Matthew.

Thank you so much for letting me write a short piece for the readers of your blog. I have been asked to write on the subject of how I came up with my characters which I think is a really interesting question, because after all, how many Food Sapiens detectives do you really know about?

I’m sensing that I may have lost you there. Food Sapiens. Walking, talking, breathing food items who are integrated and part of our society. Still not with me? Check out the Genetically Modified Food Sapiens Act 1955 and you’ll find out that Food Sapiens were finally released from captivity after initially being held by Government scientists who discovered that genetically modified food items developed their own conscious. But once the Government realised they had above average intelligence and could set up business and of course, pay taxes, then their release was inevitable.

And over the years Food Sapiens have integrated fully into everyday life, so much so that they have blended in without anyone realising. And this is why I think it’s so interesting that I am often asked by people how I came up with my characters. The honest answer is that I didn’t create them, they actually exist, and I am writing about real life events. Now for anybody that has read ‘Addicted to Death’, or ‘Who Killed the Mince Spy?’ you might that hard to believe, but I guarantee that I speak the truth. In Addicted to Death, poor Benedict and Darcy Blacktail, two eggs very much in love, were brutally murdered by a hitman with a large metal spoon, (stop sniggAddicted to Deathering at the back, it’s no yolk), while a Christmas drama unfolded in Who Killed the Mince Spy? as an MI GasMark5 secret agent was deliberately over baked and charred. That was such a difficult case for the Food Related Crime Team as the death of the mince spy, while horrific, smelt so good.

So let me take a few moments to introduce you to some of the lead Food Sapiens characters:

Detective Inspector Willie Wortel – the Head of the Food Related Crime Team and the leading Food Sapiens detective of his generation, DI Willie Wortel, carrot, leads the fight against food crime. Renowned for his sharp mind, his bravery and courage, Wortel has tackled the psychopath Sammy the Shrimp, foiled the evil MadCow McBeef and managed to find work suits that somehow complement his tall, spiky green hair.

Oranges and Lemons – two fruit officers who work with DI Wortel. I would have said they support, help and assist Wortel but that would be a lie. Probably better to use words like torment, hinder, annoy…but, and this is just my opinion, I think he quite likes having them around really. One word of warning however. If you do bump into them and start chatting, please don’t ask them who borrowed five farthings because you might never get away.

MadCow McBeef – evil genius and nemesis of Wortel. Currently incarcerated at the Farmer Giles Mental Institution, but under close surveillance at all times. Avoid at all costs. Enough said.

USA President Rump Steak – a surprise election winner who some might say should be incarcerated alongside MadCow McBeef, but who nonetheless, is under close surveillance at all times. Avoid at all costs. Enough said.

Curly Kale Minogue – one of my favourite singers also happens to be a Food Sapiens icon. With her breakthrough song ‘I should be so leeky’ and the disco classic ‘Can’t get you out of my bread’ she is often top of the charts battling it out with Ham Smith and CornFed Sheeren.

Russell Toastie – now I need to be completely professional here when describing this actor. I need to make sure that I let you know I respect his acting ability and what I am about to say has nothing to do with his good looks and physique…hubba hubba hubba…

So that is a small insight into the world of Food Sapiens, who are not made up characters, but real life people who go about their daily business just like you and me. There are good Food sapiens and those who sometimes take a criminal turn. But we can rest assured for while we have Detective Inspector Willie Wortel, we can sleep safely tonight.

Thank you very much Matthew, I am very much looking forward to reading more about Food sapiens and finding out what DI Willie Wortel is up to.

 

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Close to me by Amanda Reynolds – a review BLOG TOUR

I was lucky enough to be invited onto the blog tour for Close to Me.

Close to Me is the debut novel by Amanda Reynolds. The story focuses on Jo who fell down the stairs in her house. This fall caused her to lose any memory of the last year. As Jo starts trying to piece together what happened in this missing year, she begins to think people are hiding things from her. She slowly begins to get her memories back as she tries to work out whether she fell or was pushed?

This was an interesting book that I found quite compelling. The story is told from the viewpoint of Jo with chapters alternating between the past and present day. The writing within this novel was good and it was a fast easy read.

I enjoyed the premise of the story. The idea of having a whole year of your life missing was fascinating. A lot can happen in a year. Knowing that everyone around you knows what happened but you don’t, must be quite disturbing.

The majority of the story focuses on the dynamics within the family rather than just the mystery. The characters are interesting although on the whole I found them all difficult to warm to. Her husband is rather controlling, her daughter acts like a spoilt brat, and her son barely speaks. Jo was seemingly the only caring one as shown with her volunteer work. It was during this work she met Rosie and the relationship between them is probably one of the nicest within the story.

It was a different take on the domestic setting to have a long term relationship at the centre of the story, rather than a young ‘married too fast’ type. I also enjoyed the way the story goes backwards and forwards until the two collide.

I don’t think there was a huge amount of mystery involved as the story line was relatively straightforward and to me it seemed rather obvious. However that doesn’t distract from a very enjoyable read. This was a great debut novel and I’ll definitely be reading more from Amanda Reynolds.

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First thrills

This weekend I was very excited to write my first ever guest post which was featured on the wonderful cleopatra loves books site.

My post was part of a series she runs called put a book on the map. I was discussing Eva Dolan’s series of books which are set in my home town of Peterborough.

I really enjoyed writing the post, however it is very nerve wracking to see your own words on someone else’s blog. I knew when it was going to be published but I was almost too scared to look. When the comments started coming in I had to turn my tablet off and didn’t dare read them until I had a couple of wines in me. This was absurd as I don’t worry about posting on my own blog in the same way. I usually type them out and post after a quick spell check. For my guest post I wrote it and read it and rewrote it and read it and rewrote it again. I know Cleo has a much bigger following than my blog does, but honestly I spent more time on this than I ever did on any of my university essays’. Mind you this was much more interesting than anything I ever did at University.

This series is a great way of finding out about new books and brings to life the places where the novels are set. I think I even managed to make Peterborough sound like a place you should visit. Judge for yourself here. https://cleopatralovesbooks.wordpress.com/2017/04/01/put-a-book-on-the-map-bookonthemap-peterborough/

Whilst this was my first guest post I hope it’s not the last, and next time I might not be quite so worried about the response!

 

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Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent – a review

I have seen some good reviews of this early last year so decided to treat myself to a copy to pass the time of a train trip over to Manchester.

The book opens with Alice in a coma after her husband Oliver has savagely beaten her.  It’s an act that has shocked everyone as from the outside it seemed they had the perfect life. Oliver was a very successful children’s book author and Alice was the illustrator that brought the books to life. It is from this point after the brutal attack that we begin to go back through Oliver’s life and find out about his childhood and the people he has met along the way. We are also introduced to the other characters in the novel all of whom have their own personal views of Oliver which we are gradually privy to.

I thought this was a great story that I sped through. It does seem at the moment that I’m reading a lot of ‘behind the scenes of a marriage’ styles of book, which this clearly follows. However this was a different take on the theme, focusing as it does on Oliver and his past. Whilst I can’t bring myself to say I actually felt sympathy for him, there were moments when you do feel empathy as he had clearly had a terrible life.

The other characters within the book were interesting although I must confess to being impatient to get back to Oliver a lot of the time. The dynamics of the different characters seemed to work well, and as the stories began to emerge you become more drawn in. It was very well written and I thought the title was very apt. It really did show the unravelling of a person’s personality and how the different strands all interweave to make a whole. Again it brings up the idea of nature versus nurture, was Oliver born bad or was he made that way?

This was a really good novel that is an excellent debut from a clearly talented author. I look forward to reading more from Liz Nugent.

 

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The Gift by Louise Jensen – a review

I received a copy of this via netgalley and was saving it for holiday last year, and I’m glad I did.

The Gift is the second novel by Louise Jensen. This is the story of Jenna who receives a donor heart after contracting an infection which attacked her own heart. The heart came from a young girl called Callie who died in a car accident. Whilst Jenna tries to come to terms with not only receiving a second chance at life, but also realising she only has a life expectancy of 5 – 10 years she starts suffering nightmares. Jenna believes the nightmares are actually visions of what happened to Callie. So she goes to visit the grieving parents. Jenna thinks that they are hiding something and she becomes even more suspicious when she meets Callie’s boyfriend. Jenna then becomes obsessed that Callie’s death wasn’t an accident and is determined to find out the truth.

This was a really good story. I thought at the beginning that it might all end up a bit supernatural which can, in my opinion, sometimes be a bit of an easy explanation for things. However this didn’t feel like that at all. The story focuses on the idea of cellular memory which was not something I had any prior knowledge of and for a sceptic does slightly ask the reader to suspend belief. However the story was very engaging and kept me completely gripped. The character of Jenna is a bit annoying but most people with obsessive issues tend to be like that. The ordeal she has been through makes you forgive her slightly hysterical nature. I liked the fact that the story almost seemed to start at what should have been the ending. Jenna was desperately ill, she gets a second chance of life so should just be grateful for that and enjoy what time she has left. However things are never that clear cut. This story is not only the story of what happened to Callie, but there is also a second element showing the impact that such a major operation has not only on the person it happens to but to all those around them.

I felt the writing was good, and it was a story that went along at a fast pace. It certainly helped pass a very long flight enjoyably. Louise Jensen’s first novel is called The Sister and I’ll definitely be giving that one a go.

 

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