Friday, 15 February 2019

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

The Hunting Party

From Goodreads

Everyone's invited...everyone's a suspect...

For fans of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a shivery, atmospheric, page-turning novel of psychological suspense in the tradition of Agatha Christie, in which a group of old college friends are snowed in at a hunting lodge . . . and murder and mayhem ensue.

All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.

Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close? 

My thoughts

I gave this book a 3.5 stars or 7/10. My thanks to the Publishers via NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.

This was a well written debut novel from Lucy Foley. I will be watching for more books by this Author, as I feel that she can only get better as time goes on.

This was an interesting premise, similar in some ways to the likes of Agatha Christie in so much as the setting was a hunting lodge in a remote area in the countryside. As a group of friends have hired the house for a few days after Christmas over the New Year period to celebrate New Year together.

As with most groups of friends there are secrets and tensions, this group is no different than any other. When one of the group is found dead, it's not long before the finger of blame is pointing at one of them or the employees of the house, whose job it is to look after the house. Who among them will have carried out the deadly deed?

Lucy Foley has a way of narrating the story from the points of view of the friends and also some of the employees of the house. Each chapter centres around one of the characters time and time again, detailing both the past and present an intricately woven web of experiences and interactions.

This is a slow burner style of story that will grip you from start to finish as the web of connections between the characters evolves.

Well worth reading in my opinion and an Author to keep an eye on.

Monday, 11 February 2019

His Dark Sun by Jude Brown

His Dark Sun














From Amazon

London, 2022. The heat is rising and things are reaching boiling point. As the world struggles to catch up to its new climate, nineteen-year-old Luke Spargo believes he's the only one who understands what's really happening to the sun and if he's right, he's the only one who can stop it.

But Luke's childhood demons are closing in. With the arrival of vibrant, turbulent Fee, the precarious balance of Luke's life shifts irrevocably; as the endless heatwave presses in and his secrets begin to spiral out of control, Luke must confront the terrible price of protecting them.

My thoughts

I gave this debut novel a 3 stars or 6/10.

I really enjoy dystopian themed books, this sure fit the bill in that respect. Set in the not too distant future, the world is warming up dramatically. The heat from the Sun is increasing and the one thing on everyone's mind is when or where will it all end? As we all know Global Warming is a real issue for the World and could have devastating consequences on our existence as we know it.

Luke Spargo is a young 19 year old, who has a theory as to what might be happening to cause this and he thinks that he will be the only person to stop this. How will Luke cope with this knowledge and will he be able to save the World? 

This was a great premise for a debut novel and I will be looking forward to more stories from this Author.  One minor criticism that spoilt my enjoyment of the story was that it could have done with slightly better proof reading prior to publishing, I didn't feel that it flowed quite as well as it could have done. 

The Last by Hanna Jameson

Welcome to my stop on the Blog Tour for The Last by Hanna Jameson. My thanks to the Publishers for the opportunity of taking part.

The cover, blurb and my thoughts.

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From Goodreads

Breaking: Nuclear weapon detonates over Washington

Breaking: London hit, thousands feared dead

Breaking: Munich and Scotland hit. World leaders call for calm

Historian Jon Keller is on a trip to Switzerland when the world ends. As the lights go out on civilization, he wishes he had a way of knowing whether his wife, Nadia and their two daughters are still alive. More than anything, Jon wishes he hadn't ignored Nadia's last message.

Twenty people remain in Jon's hotel. Far from the nearest city and walled in by towering trees, they wait, they survive.

Then one day, the body of a young girl is found. It's clear she has been murdered. Which means that someone in the hotel is a killer.

As paranoia descends, Jon decides to investigate. But how far is he willing to go in pursuit of justice? And what kind of justice can he hope for, when society as he knows it no longer exists? 

My thoughts

I have to admit that dystopian themed books are a particular favourite of mine, so I was really excited to be sent a copy of this to read in order to be able to take part in the Blog tour.

I enjoyed this well written and thought provoking story. I gave it an 8/10 or 4 stars.

The world as we know it, has changed due to a series of nuclear attacks. As survivors have no way of knowing whether their loved ones are still alive or not, due to the loss of contact as a result of resources such as electricity and other commodities running out slowly and becoming in very short supply. Social media is becoming a thing of the past due to the lack of abundance of electricity.

Jon Keller finds himself one of twenty remaining survivors in a hotel in Switzerland, he'd been staying there while attending a conference. His wife and family are back home in the US, their survival in doubt.

As the remaining group of survivors, live day to day certain decisions need to be made and one day while carrying out some of the duties necessary to preserve what provisions they have left, a body of a young girl is found. Who is she and what has happened to her? It's not long before they realise that someone, is a Killer. As Jon finds himself investigating this murder and piecing together her last days alive. It's not long before the finger is being pointed at several people and paranoia soon sets in as they all try to defend themselves.

At times this was a claustrophobic and dark dystopian read, told in a form of a journal based on Jon's experiences following the nuclear attacks. It sure makes you think how you would cope with the not knowing of what has happened to your loved ones. The reader is soon drawn into the lives of the characters and their current situation leaving you wanting to know who has killed the young girl and whether life will take on any form of normality in the ensuing days.

I would thoroughly recommend this book to others who enjoy thrillers and dystopian reads.

The book is now available from all good book retailers and Amazon.

About the Author (from Goodreads)

Hanna Jameson's fourth novel, part murder mystery and part post-apocalyptic thriller - THE LAST - is available now, with Viking UK and Simon & Schuster - Atria Books US. The Last is the story of an American academic searching for the truth about a girl who has been murdered in his Swiss hotel in the aftermath of a nuclear war that has destroyed most of the Western world.

Jameson had written the first draft of her debut, award-nominated novel - SOMETHING YOU ARE - at just seventeen. Something You Are and two further novels in the series - GIRL SEVEN and ROAD KILL - are available now in the UK, Germany, Japan, and the Netherlands.

She lives in London currently, and is working on screenwriting projects. She likes whiskey, history, and emotionally taxing TV shows. 

Three random questions that I asked the Author.

1. Tulips or Daffodils?  Daffodils.

2. When reading for pleasure, what is your go to genre?  Non fiction ~ History.

3. Full English or Cereal for Breakfast?  Neither.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Penny's Antique Shop of Memories and Treasures (previously published as The Antique Love) by Helena Fairfax

Penny's Antique Shop of Memories and Treasures

From Goodreads

One rainy day in London, Wyoming man Kurt Bold walks into an antique shop off the King’s Road and straight into the dreams of its owner, Penny Rosas. Kurt certainly looks every inch the cowboy hero…but he soon brings Penny’s dreams to earth with a thump. His job is in the logical world of finance – and as far as Kurt is concerned, romance is just for dreamers.

But when Kurt hires Penny to help refurbish his Victorian house near Richmond Park, it’s not long before the logical heart he has guarded so carefully is opening up to new emotions, in a most disturbing way…

My thoughts

I gave this enjoyable romp a 4 stars or 8/10.

It's not a long book and I was so engrossed in the lives of Penny and Kurt that I read it in one day. When Kurt a real life American hunk of a man who looks and dresses like a cowboy walks into Penny's shop, her head is turned a little.

Without giving away too much of the story, Penny has an eye for décor and detail. It's not long before Kurt has employed her to help transform his house into a home, giving it a personal touch. It's not long before his home isn't the only thing that she's transforming.

This was a nice quick read that was well written and while reading the Kindle version of it, there was a part of it that I wanted to quote as it just really made me think. Unfortunately, I've deleted my copy and I am not able to quote it. To be honest I am a little gutted, I can remember that it was around the 12% mark as far as I can remember. I can thoroughly recommend this story to others.

My thanks to the Author via TBConFB for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.



Our House by Louise Candlish

Our House

From Goodreads

On a bright January morning in the London suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought in Trinity Avenue. Nothing strange about that. Except it is your house. And you didn’t sell it.

For better, for worse.

When Fi arrives home to find a removals van outside her house, she is completely blind-sided. Trinity Avenue has been her family’s home for years. Where are all her belongings? How could this have happened? Desperately calling her ex-husband, Bram, who owns the house with her, Fi discovers he has disappeared.

For richer, for poorer.

The more Fi uncovers, the more she realises their lives have been turned upside by a nightmare of their own making. A devastating crime has been committed, but who exactly is the guilty party? What has Bram hidden from her – and what has she hidden from him?

Till death us do part. 

My thoughts

I gave this a 4 stars or 8/10. 

Oh my word this is a slow burner to be honest, but that adds to the tension and complexity of the lives of the characters. The way the story is told from the perspectives of Bram and Fi as separate parts in each chapter that are interlinked at times, keeps the reader engaged and wanting more. 

At times I felt sorry for Bram and at others I was wishing that he had a backbone and would take responsibility for his actions as it was clear that there were going to be huge repercussions due to his spinelessness. Fi had no idea of the depths that Bram had sunk to or what was happening around her, she was completely oblivious.

Whilst, I was able to second guess some of what was happening it in no way took away from my enjoyment of the story at all. I wasn't right every time. I did have a theory, about what was happening when certain aspects of the story were revealed, but my theory was completely way off. Which I am glad about as it proves that the story wasn't too predictable.

As the story was drawing to a conclusion and the final few paragraphs had been read. I had to go back and reread the final passages. This story is full of twists and turn and Louise Candlish has fabricated it for the enjoyment of her readers. 

I will look for further books by her, as she's not an Author that I've widely read in the past. I can completely recommend this to all readers who enjoy a well written thriller with twists and turns, that you won't always expect!

Thursday, 31 January 2019

You, Me & Mr Blue Sky by Elisa Lorello & Craig Lancaster

Welcome to my stop on the Blog Tour for You, Me & Mr Blue Sky by Elisa Lorello & Craig Lancaster. This married duo are successful Authors in their own right and have decided to co-write a book together. Who knows if there will be more, but based on this venture I for one hope there will be.

I have to say that I was a complete virgin of their work before reading this. Now that I have popped my reading cherry I will be looking into both of their back catalogues.

Enough of my ramblings for now.

A little background on the Authors taken from Goodreads

Elisa Lorello was born and raised on Long Island, the youngest of seven children. She earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and launched a career teaching rhetoric and composition. She has been teaching first-year writing to university students since 2000, but went on sabbatical in fall 2012. Elisa spent six years in North Carolina, where she split her time between teaching and writing, and returned to the northeast in October 2012.

Elisa is the author of the Kindle best-selling novels "Faking It" and "Ordinary World", "Why I Love Singlehood" (co-authored with Sarah Girrell), and "Adulation".
Some of Elisa's favorite pastimes include chocolate, reading, and walking. She is also an avid fan of Duran Duran, pop tarts, and finding the perfect shade of lipstick. 

Craig Lancaster was born on February 9th, 1970, in Lakewood, Washington. Adopted at birth, he grew up in suburban Fort Worth, Texas, with his mother and stepfather and siblings. His stepfather, Charles Clines, was a longtime sportswriter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a connection that led to Craig’s career as a journalist, a profession he followed to a series of newspaper jobs across the country — Texas, Alaska, Kentucky, Ohio, Washington, California and, finally, Montana.

A couple of years after Craig’s arrival in the Big Sky State, he began chasing another long-held dream: that of writing novels. His first completed novel, 600 Hours of Edward, was born in the crucible of National Novel Writing Month, that every-November free-for-all of furious writing. He completed an entire first draft, nearly 80,000 words, in November 2008. In October 2009, it was published by Riverbend Publishing of Helena, Montana, and has since gone on to be selected as a Montana Honor Book and a High Plains Book Award winner.

His follow-up, The Summer Son, was released in January 2011 by AmazonEncore, to similar acclaim. Booklist called the new novel “a classic western tale of rough lives and gruff, dangerous men, of innocence betrayed and long, stumbling journeys to love.”

Lancaster’s work delves deeply below the surface of its characters, teasing out the desires and motivations that lead us through our lives.

They both have quite an extensive back catalogue of books that can be found on Goodreads.

Before I get to the book I asked Elisa and Craig 3 random questions.

1. Which novel do you wish you'd written and why?

Elisa: That's a hard question! I love when I read a book that makes me say, "I wish I'd written this," but not always for the same reasons. For example, John Marrs' "The One," which I recently read, left me with that feeling, specifically because of the concept. Nora Ephron's "Heartburn" is the total package. It's been with me for a long time, and every time I read it, I find something else that delights me.

Craig: I don't mean to dodge, because I can think of hundreds of novels that make me envious or amaze me with how good they are, but really, I look at them with more of a sense of "I'd like to figure out how they did that" than "Gee, I wish I'd written it." What I will say, in general, is that the books I most respond to are those with big hearts beating in the middle of them. A big heart crosses genres and styles. 

2. Who makes the best brew? Brew = tea or coffee.

Elisa: I make a mean peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich. You bring the brew you want, and I'll make one for you, too.

Craig: We're going to disappoint you, I think, because neither of us drinks coffee or much hot tea. Being from the American South, I'm a fiend for iced tea, however. *Sweet* iced tea. I drank enough in my first 40 years or so that it's best I steer clear now.

3. Flowers or chocolates?

Elisa: CHOCOLATES. 'Nuff said.

Craig: I'm reminded of the great movie "Airplane!" where Dr. Rumack (Leslie Nielsen) asks the flight attendants what was served for dinner and is told "there was a choice: steak or fish." "Yes, yes, I remember," Dr. Rumack said. "I had the lasagna." My answer: burritos. 

The Book

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From Goodreads

Is love a choice, or is it fate?

Jo-Jo Middlebury is done with love. Linus Travers wants one more shot at it. Mr. Blue Sky, their 1970s-loving guardian angel, offers perspective on both when he's not busy diving into reruns of "Happy Days" and "Barney Miller." 

Linus can save Jo-Jo’s business, but Jo-Jo makes it clear that she needs no one to rescue her, least of all him. Add to that an ex-fiancé with a change of heart, a single mom who wants a good time, and a married couple who’ve blurred the boundaries of their respective friendships with Linus and Jo-Jo.

All the while, Mr. Blue Sky observes, explains, and ever-so-gently interacts.

Written by wife-husband novelists Elisa Lorello and Craig Lancaster ~ You, Me & Mr. Blue Sky is a warm-hearted, humorous dive into the depths of love and the mysteries of how two people find their way to each other.

My thoughts

I really enjoyed this novel and gave it an 8/10 or 4 stars.

I found the will they, won't they relationship between Jo-Jo and Linus played out really well. With a great cast of secondary characters that added well to the mix, it kept the reader engaged and wondering all the way through whether the two main characters would end up together or not, or would the secondary characters get in the way.

At times I think we could all do with a Linus in our lives, someone who can see a solution to most things and appears to be a good friend to many.

With Mr Blue Sky trying to help steer them on the right course, will they become one or remain alone?

This was a joy to read and I can thoroughly recommend it to others. I will put a pound on it, that you too will be humming the ELO song by the end of the book. 'Sun is shinin' in the Sky …..'

My thanks to Tracy Fenton for letting me take part in the Blog Tour, that she has so successfully co-ordinated.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Ghost by Helen Grant

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From Goodreads

"Langlands House is haunted, but not by the ghost you think." Augusta McAndrew lives on a remote Scottish estate with her grandmother, Rose. For her own safety, she hides from outsiders, as she has done her entire life. Visitors are few and far between - everyone knows that Langlands House is haunted. One day Rose goes out and never returns, leaving Augusta utterly alone. Then Tom McAllister arrives - good-looking and fascinating, but dangerous. What he has to tell her could tear her whole world apart. As Tom and Augusta become ever closer, they must face the question: is love enough to overcome the ghosts of the past? In the end, Langlands House and its inhabitants hold more secrets than they did in the beginning... 

My thoughts

This was a recent read at my local Library Reading Group. I gave this a 4 stars or 8/10.

I found this a sad read if I am completely truthful. I felt for 'Ghost' as Augusta was known, brought up by her grandmother Rose, she has lead a very sheltered life and knows only Langlands the house that she has lived in for most of her life. Tom McAllister and his father are employed by Rose to do some minor repairs on the crumbling old house, that they live in. 

Without giving too much away Tom becomes aware that their might be more than one inhabitant living in Langlands, people believe that the house is haunted. Is the haunting of the supernatural kind though or of a more humanly nature? We the reader know which one it is and it's not long before Tom realises which one it is too.

When Rose, leaves the house one day and never returns. Ghost is left alone in the house, how will she survive all alone and what does the future hold for her? It's not long before Tom becomes more involved in the house and with Ghost. There are plenty of secrets that begin to get revealed slowly by him and it's not long before Ghost finds herself forming an attachment to him. 

I really enjoyed this read and it had me wondering where it was going all the way through. As the secrets began to be revealed and the characters became more reliant on one another, I began to feel sad for Augusta as she found out that her life wasn't quite what she had thought. I loved the blossoming relationship between Tom and Augusta. Life can throw curved balls when you least expect it and Augusta's life had had it's fair share of them. I found it similar in some ways to the film The Others starring Nicole Kidman.

I could go on, but I seriously don't want to spoil it for others. My Library Reading Group gave it a 6.5/10 this was the average mark, once all the marks had been added up and divided by the number of people at the meeting. It made for a very interesting discussion indeed.