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Getting Over the X
Getting Over the X
by Steve Brookstein
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.95

10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review, 21 Nov 2014
This review is from: Getting Over the X (Hardcover)
I've read comments on Twitter about the relevance of this book in 2014, I feel there's never been a better time for Steve to share his story. The interest is still there, the press still contact him every year a new series starts, and with the truth about how the press really operate coming out in recent years, and Steve himself being erased from X Factor history, it's no wonder he wants to get his story out there, now he finally feels in the right place to do so.

The X Factor does appeal to all generations, but it would be interesting to know how many of the current viewers remember Steve, or actually even watched the first series. I was only 14 at the time, so can't remember all that much about it except my Mum voting for Steve and I think I bought his album for her (we have it in the house, so somebody did). I can't recall the venom with which Louis and Sharon spoke to him (on live TV) and it's shocking this was even allowed. The word bully is thrown around on X Factor almost yearly now, and a week without an argument is very rare indeed, it's done almost in a pantomime way now but back then it was nothing more than vicious (see YouTube), and it's a wonder how Steve got through those weeks.

The chapters in the book are dated by month and year, with Steve discussing what was going on around that time. Taking us from the very first audition, right through to the final and the years afterwards up until the present day. Steve speaks very openly and honestly throughout. No stranger to the business when he auditioned, he wasn't stupid and knew the games the music business could play, yet even with Pop Idol and the like, nobody could predict how big The X Factor would become, nor how many lives would be changed, and not always for the better. Behind a TV or computer screen it's easy to forget these are people, being used solely for a few hours of entertainment each week. We often get a look into their lives behind the scenes but only what the producers want us to see, and Steve lifts the lid on what really goes on.

We now know more about just how manipulative these shows can be, the contestants and the public played with week on week, stories twisted and fabricated just to provoke a reaction and get people talking. The winner of the show was promised great things, their lives changed forever. The loser was promised nothing. You can imagine then the surprise and annoyance of Steve to find out G4 were to release their album first, sell more copies and go on to be called 'the real winners' by Simon and Louis. Being a teenager I wasn't all that interested in what the media wrote at that time, so much of the information here was new to me, and it's certainly very revealing, lifting the lid on just what goes on and how certain people set out to shut Steve up, however he wasn't willing to go down without a fight.

Steve has alluded to things over the years without ever revealing the full story, well in this book he is able to finally do that. I'm not going to list them here but there are some very interesting stories. With everything that went on after Steve won, I'm assuming the contract for future contestants looked very different to Steve's, the ones signed by the current crop must be incredibly long, so it'd be interesting to actually read the stories of the other winners, or the other contestants who entered a show hoping to fulfill their dreams only for a lot of them to find out fifteen minutes isn't a very long time. Perhaps those stories can never materialise.

Throughout the years many have called Steve bitter, or critcised him for refusing to shut up but the truth is the media twist things or report incorrectly, and stories which appeared damaging Steve weren't always true, yet with people attempting to keep him quiet, and the public and media seeing him as a joke, he never had the platform to get his story across, and get the truth out there. Even before that he had to face constant belittling, ridicule and nasty comments from two judges, is it any wonder that he's come across as bitter over the years? I'm sure most people would have. He is only human after all.

You only have to look at Steve's Twitter on a Saturday night to see why people call him bitter, and it's given this book a bit of a bad rep before it has even been released, it's not all negative. Steve is also very much a family man, speaking with love and adoration about his wife and children. That said though he doesn't actually come across as bitter (not much anyway), the passage of time perhaps making him more accepting and understanding of what went on. It isn't 300 pages of hatred towards Simon and The X Factor, it's very much about Steve and his life, and how the experiences changed it, it's not a wholly negative read and there are positives to take from the experience.

I felt the book ended quite abruptly, I would've liked a bit more about Steve looking to the future but hopefully now he's shared his story finally, he can find happiness and move on with his life. Steve might have been erased from X Factor history, and some people might make fun of this book, yet you can't criticise it without giving it a chance and I really hope that people do. It's a story that does hold relevance ten years on, and is one that I think deserves to be read.

Thanks to Steve Brookstein and ghostwriter Tony Horne for the review copy.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 21, 2014 12:11 PM GMT


Dead Man Walking (Detective Mark Heckenburg Book 4)
Dead Man Walking (Detective Mark Heckenburg Book 4)
Price: £1.49

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heck is back!, 20 Nov 2014
After finishing The Killing Club in May, Paul Finch shot right into my top five crime authors, it was just a fantastic book. Expectations were insanely high for Dead Man Walking then, and despite two books in one year being something of a treat, does the quality suffer because of it? Dead Man Walking is marginally different to Paul's previous work, and I can definitely see it being a bit of a Marmite book amongst crime fans. For those new to his work, I'd start at the beginning with Stalkers and work through the series. I was thrilled to be back in the company of DS Mark 'Heck' Heckenburg, one of my favourite fictional detectives. His recent relocation to Cumbria has found him out of his comfort zone, his only excitement coming from attempting to apprehend some small-time thieves, not the sort of criminals he is usually tasked with capturing.

The book's opening felt very much like a horror story, and played out like a horror film in my head, and this is something Paul does incredibly well. An author who can make you feel genuine terror just from words on a page is very exciting indeed. The opening was haunting, with its eery setting as we are taken back ten years to learn more about The Stranger, who is described as a weird sex-murderer, who started off attacking people after dark before targeting lovers' lanes and dogging spots across Devon, leaving no living witnesses. Two young police officers set out to apprehend The Stranger and almost succeed as the female officer puts a bullet into him before he vanishes, presumed dead. The female officer is none other than Heck's ex-boss and former lover, Gemma Piper who after all her comments about Heck's impulsiveness and insubordination, comes across a little bit like a female Heck in these opening scenes. Back in the present day and The Stranger appears to be back and killing again, striking terror into a quiet and isolated community.

I found the opening of the book to be a little slow, and description heavy. Paul usually delivers an exciting, fast paced opening to his books getting you straight into the action but here, given the change in setting there was an awful lot of scene building and at times unnecessary description, it was only later in the novel I fully appreciated the time Paul spent doing this. It's clear that he knows the setting he's talking about, and has researched it really well, it was just that I wanted the story to pick up quicker than it did. That said though the latter half of the book was the Paul that I know and love and the book very quickly becomes hard to put down as The Stranger picks up the pace and the killings escalate, and the villagers soon find themselves in mortal danger. Paul never fails to come up with some absolutely gruesome and brutal descriptions for the crimes that his villains commit, and the villains themselves are always brilliantly evil and at times terrifying, and this is something that I really love. To compare I would say his scenes are at times reminiscent of Chris Carter, probably the best crime author writing today. I want my crime fiction to be as bloody and brutal as possible, and we definitely get that here.

The atmosphere created by Paul is some of the best I've read in crime fiction this year. The setting is only terrifying because of the time of year and the terrible weather, this is a place that in Summer would be beautiful and full of holidaymakers and walkers, but which in off season is almost perfect for what has been created here. Given this change in setting, and the danger that the residents face the book is very unpredictable, I had no idea for the most part where the story was going to go, or who the next victim was going to be and it made the book more thrilling. In terms of twists there's plenty in this book, not least the revelations surrounding The Stranger. I'm still not sure how I feel about these revelations, whether it was silly or pure brilliance. As I said this is going to be a Marmite book and what some people love, others won't. That said though I didn't see the plot twists coming so that's testament to Paul's ability to keep his readers on their toes.

Gemma Piper plays a little bit of a starring role in this book as Heck contacts her about the return of The Stranger and she makes her way to Cumbria. The tension and chemistry between the two is electric, and it makes for fantastic reading. Both are such well developed, interesting and realistic characters and they are two of my favourites in crime fiction. I would love for Paul to write a story about their earlier days, so we can learn more about them with more detailed information than the brief flashbacks we've been given so far. The change in setting also allowed for a change in how the police act and behave. Given that there's no police station as such, or even many police for that matter, most of the action takes place in the field, away from the office environment you usually get where teams can analyse and plan the investigation, Heck has to think on his feet, sometimes acting first and thinking later, having to make instant decisions and this makes for a more exciting read than your everyday police procedural does.

Overall then a fairly solid read which held my interest throughout, in places gripping, in others a little slow but for the most part a very enjoyable story which has left me wanting more. Taking Heck out of his comfort zone was a nice change, and made for a very atmospheric and at times scary read but next time around I'd love to see Heck back where he belongs and for his relationship, both work and personal, with Gemma to be explored further. Both are brilliant characters who those yet to discover must do so right away. I definitely reccommend this book to crime fans.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.


The Informant
The Informant
Price: £3.56

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it a lot, 20 Nov 2014
This review is from: The Informant (Kindle Edition)
I usually ignore the quotes and comparisons on the front of books yet my proof copy described this as perfect for fans of Lynda La Plante and Martina Cole and having finished the book, I couldn't agree more. It has the brilliant police element that La Plante does so well, alongside the gritty gangster story that early Cole did so well. Susan Wilkins is a television writer turned novelist, and that's something I usually enjoy as you often get the best of both worlds. Television writers bring with them the ability to give a nice flow to the novel, and have chapters ending on cliffhangers in much the same way a television episode would. At times this was like an 18 rated soap opera, only better.

The main family in the book are the Phelps and our introduction to son Joey is of a boy turned man who enjoys inflicting pain on people, and loves murder. Nothing gives him greater pleasure in life than killing. The police have been after him for the longest time, however when he kills an undercover police officer their hunger to take him down only intensifies and plans are made to find an informant that will help destroy both him and his criminal empire. Joey is an evil character and given that I've read the books of Kimberley Chambers, Jessie Keane and Martina Cole is saying something, as they have created some brilliant villains. Often people put blame on families, or how a person was brought up yet I believe some people are just born evil, and Joey is one such person. DS Nicci Armstrong has a personal connection to the case, and wants him brought to justice more than most. She gets her own thread to the story which makes for some exciting twists along the way.

Kaz is Joey's sister, about to be released from prison for a crime that Joey committed. Her plans are to go straight and live a normal life, however Joey has other ideas and wants Kaz to pick up where she left off and he has big plans for the family business and they all include her. Kaz was a likeable character from the off despite all that she's done you can see she does want to turn her life around, but at times that life is all that she knows and it does make for some gut-wrenching decisions for her along the way. Add in a police officer determined to turn Kaz against Joey and sexual tension between Kaz and her lawyer Helen and she's about to find out that life on the outside is going to be anything but quiet. Things take a turn for the worse for both Kaz and Joey when their cousin Sean is released from prison, with their father unable to run the business Sean wants to take control of what he feels is rightfully his and this is when the story really picks up and gets going.

The book is full of realistic and believable characters. Characters who in other circumstances might have had very different lives, however the life they have been born into has led them down only one path. In books like this it's important not to trust anybody, and I certainly don't. Especially the characters that we are meant to trust, as experience has shown that they are often the ones to watch. Kaz was a favourite character of mine throughout, I really wanted her to overcome her demons and go on to live the life she so obviously craved, that said however it would have made for a boring story and so there are so many exciting and thrilling twists and turns that I honestly struggled to put the book down. I did feel at times however that some of the dialogue didn't suit the characters, certain things especially with Joey just didn't seem like things you would expect a gangster to say, that said though it didn't happen often but was very noticeable when it did.

The characters are all well established and we are told a lot about their past but what was missing for me was flashbacks, as that is something this genre does so well. I like it when we get whole chapters going back in time rather than just having events alluded to briefly. It allows you to really understand the characters more. What I also like is when London almost becomes a character in itself. Wilkins creates a very gritty but believable London, showing its seedier side and putting us right inside its underworld. A world which for the longest time held almost an allure of glamour, yet we now know that the world is anything but glamorous. Full of unsavoury characters who make it almost impossible to escape once you are part of its world. In fact the only way to escape might be to turn informant...

I really didn't want to put this book down and found myself annoyed when I had to. Once you get started it is an incredibly addictive read, the latter half especially as all the threads to the story start to join together as we race towards a very dramatic finale. I could see the pages dwindling but found myself hoping more would miraculously appear. I wasn't ready to finish the story and after the shocking cliffhanger that the book ends on, the sequel, The Mourner, cannot come quick enough. Wilkins' experience is evident from the very first page, making this one of the most exciting debuts of the year and certainly one of the best I've read in 2014. This book comes highly recommended by me.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.


Dying for Christmas
Dying for Christmas
Price: £2.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 20 Nov 2014
This is my first Tammy (Tamar) Cohen book but once I read the blurb on NetGalley I couldn't resist it. It just sounded so exciting that I couldn't wait to read it. I read it in September as part of #NetGalleyMonth and had no trouble reading a 'Christmas' book given that the book is about so much more than the festive period.

Given the somewhat ambiguous nature of the blurb and the fact that the enjoyment of books like these comes from discovering the book for yourself I will discuss the plot vaguely but skip this paragraph if you don't want to know! Our main character Louise is shopping on Oxford Street when she meets Dominic in a department store cafe. Despite not knowing the man and the fact that he admitted to following her round before shopping she finds herself going back to his flat. Upon arrival though Dominic turns sinister and Louise becomes a prisoner in his flat. It becomes clear this was planned, there is no way out and Dominic has plans for the festive period... Despite this all sounding very far fetched it actually became quite gripping after just a few chapters!

At first I didn't know what it was but I was unsure about Louise and despite the obviously traumatic experiences she was facing it took me a while to feel an emotional connection to her. We also follow her family as they and the police try and find her. One of the police officers is Kim who is having troubles of her own. To be honest I was more interested in the stuff happening in the flat and found myself almost wanting to skip the bits surrounding the family and Kim yet didn't for fear of missing something. The action in the flat had me gripped more than everything happening outside.

There's almost a horror story feel to the book at times. Dominic is a very scary character, and not just in the physical stuff but how he gets inside Louise's head mentally too. What I loved most about the book was the writing. It was just so descriptive and it's written in a way that keeps you hooked. It's a cliche but I really struggled to put this book down at times, especially when the twists and shocks start to come. All through the book a line from the blurb was at the forefront of my mind: 'But I have a secret, no one has guessed it, will you?'. I had a couple of theories and one of them did prove to be correct but even so I was thrown a little off course and left reeling when it was revealed. The book definitely got interesting then.

Given the nature of the book and the secret it's impossible to go on. It's times like this I wish I was part of a book club as there's so much to be said about this book! It is compulsive reading at its absolute best and I urge all psychological thriller fans to pick up this book. As its fiction I can overlook the somewhat far fetched nature of bits of the plot and take it for what it is, an absolutely addictive roller coaster ride of a read that gets your heart beating and your brain working as you attempt to piece together a massive jigsaw puzzle. The only thing I would say is the ending has left me a little bit confused! Still though an immensely enjoyable read that comes highly recommended by me.

Thanks to the publisher for the NetGalley review copy.


Waiting For Doggo
Waiting For Doggo
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, 20 Nov 2014
This review is from: Waiting For Doggo (Kindle Edition)
Headline have had some fantastic publicity campaigns this year and one of the best has been for Waiting for Doggo. This book has been all over Twitter for months, everyone is talking about it and Doggo even has his own account! I was very excited then when I was one of the lucky few to receive a limited edition bookbridgr proof copy and I couldn't wait to read it. It's only a short read which didn't take me too long to read which is a shame because I could have read about Doggo for much longer.

Daniel's girlfriend Clara has finished with him by letter, not only leaving him but dumping their dog Doggo on him as well, a dog he didn't particularly want anyway and one that doesn't even have a proper name yet. My first impressions of Clara were that I think Daniel and Doggo had a little bit of a lucky escape. On looks alone Doggo is an unattractive dog, described as tiny, white and almost entirely hairless. As the book progresses though you can't help but fall in love with him.

Daniel sets out to return him only to find himself sticking up for Doggo when the nice woman behind the desk starts making 'snip snip' gestures. To protect Doggo from the torture, Daniel takes him back home, with no idea what he's going to do. The book is very comedic in places, as you would expect from a book about a man and his dog, plenty of mishaps make for very entertaining reading at times but this is also a serious read too, focusing very much on Daniel and his life, his new job, his future and some particularly big revelations regarding his family. The focus therefore isn't always on Doggo which I expected. He was the standout character for me and honestly, I found my interest waning when we were reading about Daniel's personal life. I just didn't relate to him much and he's in a different stage of his life than me.

As the book progresses so does the relationship between Daniel and Doggo as we see the two of them begin to appreciate the other. The behaviour of dogs is at times intriguing to observe and the way Doggo acts towards Daniel in the beginning is quite funny. It is impossible not to love Doggo, even if just the fact that he develops a bit of an obsession with Jennifer Aniston. If it was Tomb Raider Doggo developed an obsession with this book would have found itself in the bin, ugh. Those with a dog will definitely relate to Daniel, and recognise some of the problems he faces along the way. A dog is after all for life as Daniel soon finds out.

With a brilliant ending this book is almost crying out to be a film. Films with dogs aren't exactly original but I think the story here is unique enough for it to be interesting enough. As a book though it's very entertaining and I highly recommend it. They say that a dog is man's best friend, well pick up this book and make Doggo yours (ladies too!). You'll finish the book wanting to take him home with you, or if you already have a dog it'll remind you just how much you love him/her. A brilliant read.

Thanks to bookbridgr for the review copy.


Falling
Falling
Price: £3.32

4.0 out of 5 stars Very impressive debut, 14 Nov 2014
This review is from: Falling (Kindle Edition)
I remember seeing this book a few months ago and mentally adding it to my TBR, but it was only when I was asked to be part of the blog tour that I eventually received a copy and got round to reading it. I finished it asking myself why I hadn't read it sooner. It is an incredibly addictive read from the start, and deserves all the praise that some of my favourite bloggers, whose opinions I really trust, have given it. I'm extremely excited to read more from Emma, she is definitely an author to watch who is destined for great things. This book is a hard one to review really, reading books from this genre works best when you know very little about the plot. So read the blurb, as nothing is being given away here!

The book opens with a plane crash and a murder. I'm not afraid of flying, except when I went to Malta and had a bit of an iffy experience, the rest of the time I'm that person telling you why you have to adopt the brace position if the plane is about to crash. That said the opening to this book is quite scary and very atmospheric, those who do have a fear of flying might never get over it if they read this book, but don't let that put you off! It's one of the more haunting openings to a book I've read in a while, and is one that stays with you throughout the course of the novel.

I'm not crazy about books written from different perspectives, here we get a few alternating points of view which in the beginning was a little bit confusing but which soon had me hooked and thinking that it was a really clever way to tell a story. Falling is one of those books where you really need to pay attention to what you are reading. Something you read might not become relevant until later in the novel so you really have to take in what you are reading.

The characters are all very well created, not likeable all of the time but all of them believable and realistic, making this a very human story with characters most readers will be able to relate to in one way or another. My emotions were played with many times over the course of the novel, and some of the events and revelations left me reeling. The characters all feel real, which allows me as a reader to feel more of an emotional connection to them, as I can imagine them existing. Falling is one of those books that you will think about long after you've finished reading it and if like me you read 200 plus books a year, it's one that will stick out vividly in your mind more than the others.

It's no surprise then that this books comes highly reccommended by me. I will say though do not start reading this book unless you have a clear schedule, you will get nothing done and you will end up hating the person or thing that makes you have to stop reading. A very impressive debut and I'm so excited to see what Emma writes next.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.


It Must Have Been the Mistletoe
It Must Have Been the Mistletoe
Price: £3.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulously festive, 14 Nov 2014
Finally a truly festive read! I think this is my third festive read so far this year and it has been the only one to live up to its title and cover. At this time of year there's quite a few books published that have a festive cover and blurb only for the book itself to be a let down where Christmas is concerned. This book is Christmas from beginning to end, and I loved it. Judy has captured the festive season incredibly well, and this book will definitely get you in the mood for the upcoming festivities, even if you're a bit of a Scrooge. The cover is also fabulously festive and is one of my favourites this year, it would totally catch your eye whilst book shopping.

Christmas is all about family for me and spending it with your loved ones. The premise for the story is quite a different and unusual one, and one that certainly has scope for a number of problems to occur (which they do)! Anna and Mike are getting divorced but want to spend one last Christmas together as a family, so they rent out a cottage in Cornwall. Their children, Thea, Jimi and Emily obviously don't want to see their parents split up but join them in Cornwall anyway, and the siblings aren't without problems of their own. Thea especially as she has recently split up with her boyfriend. Will Cornwall help her get over the break up? Or perhaps a certain man could help with that... The family also get some unexpected visitors in the form of the parents' new partners. Awkward.

The setting of this book is just wonderful. I was transported to the cottage and then when I wasn't reading the book I was disappointed and wanted to get back there. I've always said that I wouldn't like to spend Christmas away from home, it would feel strange and that might be because it's all I've ever known. This book has had me thinking that perhaps an escape would be ideal, and a nice change from the norm. The setting here I definitely wouldn't say no to. All through the book I was half expecting the family to turn up to Evie Flynn's Beach Cafe! The fantastic Cornwall cafe created by Lucy Diamond.

The characters in the novel are all realistic and believable and the family tensions and arguments you get at any get together are present here but there is the underlying message of love, and of families spending time together and enjoying themselves. I think everybody will recognise either a bit of themselves in some of the characters or bits of your own family members. Spending time with family can be both annoying and enjoyable at the same time and all aspects of that life are plain to see here. You know where the story is going to go with books like this, but that's the comforting thing about picking up a book at this time of year. You want that bittersweet, romantic ending that makes you feel good inside and happy about the upcoming festive season.

Shockingly this is my first Judy Astley read but it definitely will not be my last. If you are looking for a perfectly festive read this Christmastime then stop looking, you've found it and it's called It Must Have Been the Mistletoe. Buy this book, devour it and fall in love with its setting and characters as I did. This book comes highly reccommended by me.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.


Dead Man Walking (Part 1 of 3)
Dead Man Walking (Part 1 of 3)
Price: £0.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Welcome back Heck!, 14 Nov 2014
I cannot tell you how excited I was to start this book, especially after receiving a proof copy in the most ingenious way. I held off on getting a NetGalley copy for weeks because I knew a very exciting parcel was coming. After finishing The Killing Club in May, Paul Finch shot right into my top five crime authors, it was just a fantastic book. Expectations were insanely high for Dead Man Walking then, and despite two books in one year being something of a treat, does the quality suffer because of it? Dead Man Walking is marginally different to Paul's previous work, and I can definitely see it being a bit of a Marmite book amongst crime fans. For those new to his work, I'd start at the beginning with Stalkers and work through the series. I was thrilled to be back in the company of DS Mark 'Heck' Heckenburg, one of my favourite fictional detectives. His recent relocation to Cumbria has found him out of his comfort zone, his only excitement coming from attempting to apprehend some small-time thieves, not the sort of criminals he is usually tasked with capturing.

The book's opening felt very much like a horror story, and played out like a horror film in my head, and this is something Paul does incredibly well. An author who can make you feel genuine terror just from words on a page is very exciting indeed. The opening was haunting, with its eery setting as we are taken back ten years to learn more about The Stranger, who is described as a weird sex-murderer, who started off attacking people after dark before targeting lovers' lanes and dogging spots across Devon, leaving no living witnesses. Two young police officers set out to apprehend The Stranger and almost succeed as the female officer puts a bullet into him before he vanishes, presumed dead. The female officer is none other than Heck's ex-boss and former lover, Gemma Piper who after all her comments about Heck's impulsiveness and insubordination, comes across a little bit like a female Heck in these opening scenes. Back in the present day and The Stranger appears to be back and killing again, striking terror into a quiet and isolated community.

I found the opening of the book to be a little slow, and description heavy. Paul usually delivers an exciting, fast paced opening to his books getting you straight into the action but here, given the change in setting there was an awful lot of scene building and at times unnecessary description, it was only later in the novel I fully appreciated the time Paul spent doing this. It's clear that he knows the setting he's talking about, and has researched it really well, it was just that I wanted the story to pick up quicker than it did. That said though the latter half of the book was the Paul that I know and love and the book very quickly becomes hard to put down as The Stranger picks up the pace and the killings escalate, and the villagers soon find themselves in mortal danger. Paul never fails to come up with some absolutely gruesome and brutal descriptions for the crimes that his villains commit, and the villains themselves are always brilliantly evil and at times terrifying, and this is something that I really love. To compare I would say his scenes are at times reminiscent of Chris Carter, probably the best crime author writing today. I want my crime fiction to be as bloody and brutal as possible, and we definitely get that here.

The atmosphere created by Paul is some of the best I've read in crime fiction this year. The setting is only terrifying because of the time of year and the terrible weather, this is a place that in Summer would be beautiful and full of holidaymakers and walkers, but which in off season is almost perfect for what has been created here. Given this change in setting, and the danger that the residents face the book is very unpredictable, I had no idea for the most part where the story was going to go, or who the next victim was going to be and it made the book more thrilling. In terms of twists there's plenty in this book, not least the revelations surrounding The Stranger. I'm still not sure how I feel about these revelations, whether it was silly or pure brilliance. As I said this is going to be a Marmite book and what some people love, others won't. That said though I didn't see the plot twists coming so that's testament to Paul's ability to keep his readers on their toes.

Gemma Piper plays a little bit of a starring role in this book as Heck contacts her about the return of The Stranger and she makes her way to Cumbria. The tension and chemistry between the two is electric, and it makes for fantastic reading. Both are such well developed, interesting and realistic characters and they are two of my favourites in crime fiction. I would love for Paul to write a story about their earlier days, so we can learn more about them with more detailed information than the brief flashbacks we've been given so far. The change in setting also allowed for a change in how the police act and behave. Given that there's no police station as such, or even many police for that matter, most of the action takes place in the field, away from the office environment you usually get where teams can analyse and plan the investigation, Heck has to think on his feet, sometimes acting first and thinking later, having to make instant decisions and this makes for a more exciting read than your everyday police procedural does.

Overall then a fairly solid read which held my interest throughout, in places gripping, in others a little slow but for the most part a very enjoyable story which has left me wanting more. Taking Heck out of his comfort zone was a nice change, and made for a very atmospheric and at times scary read but next time around I'd love to see Heck back where he belongs and for his relationship, both work and personal, with Gemma to be explored further. Both are brilliant characters who those yet to discover must do so right away. I definitely reccommend this book to crime fans.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.


One Hundred Christmas Proposals
One Hundred Christmas Proposals
Price: £0.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read this Christmas, 13 Nov 2014
When I reached the end of One Hundred Proposals I was left wanting more. I wasn't ready to leave the world of Harry and Suzie behind, so when I heard about One Hundred Christmas Proposals I couldn't wait to read it and I am thrilled to be part of the blog tour. I am also mentioned in the Acknowledgements section of the book which is amazing. At just six chapters, it's a really short read. Holly has been super busy writing this year so we are incredibly lucky to be given this little Christmas treat, and what a treat it is.

You really do need to have read One Hundred Proposals to fully appreciate this book. It could perhaps work as a standalone yet knowing the characters, and how they got to where they are now just makes the story all the more enjoyable. Harry and Suzie are perfect for each other. Now they are engaged however I was worried. Part of the enjoyment from the romance in One Hundred Proposals, and other books like it, is always the thrill of the chase, and the will they/won't they scenarios. The characters overcoming the obstacles in their way to find their happy ever after. I didn't therefore just want the book to be Harry and Suzie being all lovey dovey, I wanted there to be a little bit of tension, perhaps a few secrets and again, some hurdles before we reached the ending and luckily we got that here.

Suzie is eager to get married and wants to set a date yet Harry appears a little reluctant to do so. In the beginning he is also hiding something from Suzie which has her worrying he might be up to no good. Then there are some jaw dropping developments partway through the book, and it is huge. Say no more... Add into the mix her parents who still don't know their daughter in law has found a new love and there's so much going on in such a short space of time. Only a talented author can actually make a novella almost as good as a full length novel, Holly is a fantastic author who never fails to enthrall me with the stories she creates and she is more than capable of making a novella just as good as a novel. From the first page I was hooked, and had this read in one sitting.

Once again Holly has come up with some brilliant ideas for proposals, and some people will recognise the names of some of the people being proposed to! It's such a nice touch and as Holly is very involved in the blogging world it's fantastic that she adds stuff like this to her books. The Christmas element is also brilliant and definitely got me in the mood for the upcoming festivities. Waking up on Christmas morning is always a magical feeling and I love how that was the case here for Suzie and Harry. There's so much more I want to say about the book but it's hard to review novellas because they are so short. This is though the perfect Christmas read, and the perfect sequel to what was one of my favourite books of the year. Suzie and Harry's story is still not complete, and there's so much to still explore with these two characters that I hope Holly returns to them in the future, either with a novel or another short. Either way I'm once again thinking about these two characters nonstop and really want to read about what's going to happen to them next.

Thanks to Holly Martin for the review copy.


The Bookshop Book
The Bookshop Book
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Must read for book lovers, 12 Nov 2014
This review is from: The Bookshop Book (Kindle Edition)
The Bookshop Book is a love letter to bookshops all around the world. Well, it's also a love letter to bibliophiles around the world too. Prepare to lose yourself in this book as you read about some of the most wonderful and beautiful bookshops in the world. The media is constantly focused on the closures of libraries and independent bookshops, and rightly so, it's a travesty us book lovers wish we could prevent but it's not all that often a book comes along celebrating books and the places they are sold in this way. But there are bookshops around the world still thriving, and still managing to stay open despite the likes of Amazon and supermarket discounts taking over. The book does at times focus on the difficulties bookshops have faced and continue to face, with insights from booksellers, bookshop owners and people from the world of publishing. There's also chapters from various authors such as Jacqueline Wilson, Ian Rankin and Bill Bryson discussing what bookshops mean to them, what they love about them and how reading and writing has changed their lives.

Stories connect people: I want to share the stories of three hundred wonderful book shops across six continents, and thoughts from famous authors about their favourite book shops, too. These days, we've got booksellers in cities, in deserts, and in the middle of a rainforest; we've got travelling book shops, and book shops underground. We've got book shops in barns, in caravans and in converted Victorian railway stations. We've even got booksellers selling books in the middle of a war.
Are book shops still relevant? They certainly are.
All book shops are full of stories, and stories want to be heard.

Will there come a time when all of our shopping is done online? When all bookshops close and our only choice of choosing a book in the real world comes from the charts in ASDA or Tesco? It seems almost frightening to consider. We all love a bargain and admittedly 95% of my book shopping is done via Amazon, yet you still can't beat walking into a bookshop, the smell, the warm and friendly atmosphere and the hundreds (sometimes thousands) of books on the shelves is a staggering and wonderful sight to behold. This is the story of the feelings walking into a bookshop evokes. I can remember the first time I got my library card, the first time I nagged my parents to take me into a bookshop and the many times over the years I continued to drag them in to buy books. It's hard to imagine a world where other children can't grow up doing the same thing.

Bookish Facts:

Part of the M6 toll road in the UK is made out of pulped Mills & Boon novels. A reported 2.5 million recycled books were mixed in with asphalt and Tarmac to create the road surface.

In 2008, Gabriel Levinson started spending his weekends cycling around public parks in Chicago on his custom-built Book Bike. The bike had a box built around it that folded out to display 300 titles. Gabriel have books away to anyone who promised they would read them.

There are so many stories in this book I'd love to quote and talk about, but the enjoyment really comes from discovering them for yourself. I do have a few favourites I will mention later in the review. The book contains a plethora of Bookish Facts and Some Wonderful Things which are fun and interesting anecdotes about the book world. There's also a brief history about bookshops such as Waterstones and Foyles.

There's so many bookshops that stood out as favourites in the book yet some of my absolute favourites are:

Silverdell bookshop in Kirkham which is also an ice cream parlour where when they have a book signing a signature ice cream for the author is made. Books and ice cream? As long as it doesn't drip onto the pages what could be better?
The Book Barge, Lichfield which is a bookshop on a houseboat inspired by Rosie and Jim and it sounded absolutely perfect. I'd rather be on it by myself reading books and travelling along a canal rather than share it with customers but it's still a pretty exciting place to buy books!
London is a city full of bookshops but the ones listed here were quite brief, covering bookshops around the world however means you can't list them all! Camden Lock Books is mentioned though which is one of the capital's most iconic bookshops.
The World's Smallest Bookstore in Toronto which is inside a ten foot by ten foot cabin and all the books cost $3 and are paid for via an honesty box (hard to imagine this working in certain parts of England) and you also get a leaflet entitled: 'Why I Love Books'.
The Book Nook in Texas which has a second hand section where you can fill a bag for $13 and the bookshop donates a box of books to troops serving overseas for every bag sold.
The Underground Bookshop in Coober Pedy, South Australia which is an underground bookshop inside an old opal mine.
Brazenhead Books in New York, a controversial bookshop that technically doesn't exist. You have to email or phone the owner to arrange a visit!

The book was either very short or just that good that I read it quickly. I believe the final print copy has pictures but unfortunately the NetGalley copy didn't. That said though I'd love to pick up an actual copy of this book as it'd be a nice book to own. The book is one of those that you could pick up at random intervals and read a chunk of, or leave lying around for people visiting you at home to pick up and browse through. This book is simply a must read for book lovers and one that comes highly recommended by me. Liverpool doesn't have all that many bookshops which is a shame for such a cultural city, and this book has left me wanting to travel the world visiting the many wonderful places mentioned in this book.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy via NetGalley.


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