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BookAddictShaun (England, UK)

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Fire Point (Ryan Lock Book 6)
Fire Point (Ryan Lock Book 6)
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Can't get enough of this series, 19 Dec 2014
Christmas definitely came early when this book landed in my inbox. Sean Black is one of my favourite authors, and two releases from him in one year is a real treat. I can't actually believe this is the sixth Ryan Lock novel, a series which is easily my favourite thriller series, and one which I still think is totally underrated as so many people I ask have never read one of Sean's books. Sean contacted me a few years ago to thank me for writing a review of The Devil's Bounty, and that small act is one of the reasons I started a book blog in the first place. An author reading your review is a great feeling.

The book opens introducing us to a gang attempting to kidnap a woman off the street, 'Krank' is the leader and we learn that kidnapping the girl is some sort of initiation process to the gang. The reasoning and origin is unknown in the beginning but we later learn it's a cult, made up of some strange individuals. 'MG', the latest recruit is showing some apprehension at carrying out what he has been asked to do. Ryan Lock is recruited by Tarian Griffiths as she is worried that her son Marcus might be in danger, Lock isn't sure about the case at first until a search of Marcus's apartment results in them being shot at. The situation then becomes a lot more complicated and Lock and his partner, Ty are soon stuck right in the middle of it.

Sean is a writer that constantly tricks me whilst I read, the twists come at just the right times, throwing me off course more than once. That old cliche of a book being jaw dropping is very true here as mine did literally drop a couple of times. The book therefore isn't predictable in the slightest, you might think you know what's going to happen but just be prepared to be totally wrong! Story wise this is probably one of Sean's strongest yet, and it was one that kept me completely hooked throughout. His ability to create nasty and evil characters seemingly knows no bounds as the ones here were hateful, yet believable at the same time.

Lock and Ty are such a brilliant and believable duo. Both similar characters but also very different, with personality traits that balance each other out. When they aren't together it feels weird and when they are, they're unstoppable. I would definitely want these two on my side if I ever needed help. The character development over the course of the series has been brilliant, these are two characters you really root for, and who after six books you find yourself caring about despite them being fictional. Some heart stopping moments both in this and previous books involving Lock and Ty have had me almost shouting at my Kindle.

Short sharp chapters make this an extremely exciting and fast paced read, the action very rarely lets up and I was loath to put this book down at times, even when my eyes just wouldn't stay open. Sean's books are just perfect for the big screen with plenty of vivid, cinematic scenes. Sean has now left me with the trouble of choosing between this and The Innocent for a place in my Top Ten Books of the Year which I am revealing on Christmas Eve. For fans of Lee Child and Matt Hilton yet to pick up a Sean Black book, what are you waiting for? Christmas is the best time to treat yourself and you will not regret it if you do. Sean, how long until the next one?!

Thanks to Sean Black for the review copy.

Bad Blood
Bad Blood
by Casey Kelleher
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.25

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 16 Dec 2014
This review is from: Bad Blood (Paperback)
I'm starting this review still a little bit speechless, after not long finishing the book. I've read close to 200 books this year, and this is easily one of the best. Looking back at 2014, I've given a lot of books five stars, which is something I'm trying to change as when I compare some of them with this book, Bad Blood is in another league so there's no hesitation in adding it to my Hall of Fame. Casey Kelleher is an author who has been on my radar for a while, my go to crime website Best Crime Books is a big fan of her previous books, I've just never got round to reading them myself. This is a mistake I will soon be rectifying because even though I have a scary looking review TBR, I really want to read Casey's books right now.

Bad Blood opens and introduces us to a lot of characters, yet it never felt confusing with who everybody was. The main family are the Woods, our introduction to Harry being when he was a world famous boxer with the world at his feet, and a pregnant wife who he adored. Fast forward to the present day and his wife is dead, his children all grown up, and Harry one of London's most famous and feared gangsters. His estranged daughter Kelly comes back into his life with her waster husband Terry. His son Christopher is totally out of control whilst Christopher's brother Nathan is looking to take himself out of the family business and go legit, settling down with his girlfriend. Harry's youngest daughter also returns home from boarding school. Along the way we are introduced to more characters, all connected to the Woods family in one way or another. Throughout the book plans are made, secrets come out, and it isn't long before the lives of the characters start to unravel in brilliantly dramatic fashion.

The book does have an intriguing mix of characters. Christopher was especially evil, and is a character I think readers will despise. He doesn't show remorse for his actions, even taking pleasure out of taunting his own family. There is a reason for his behaviour though, and when it is all revealed I was left reeling. I'm a reader that likes to spot twists before they come, yet here I couldn't. Casey holds everything back until exactly the right moment. Kelly was a favourite character of mine, I found her transformation from how she was in the beginning to how she was at the end to be a bit quick, but she was a very likeable character I had no trouble rooting for. She was a realistic and believable character. Likewise for the rest of the cast. One minute you will hate a character, the next you will wonder whether it's wrong to like them. On the surface they are villains, making their money through crime but even the hardest of villains love their family, and that's the case here. There are some heartwarming and touching moments in the book, which you might not expect from a villain but which are still believable.

This is one of those books where there's so much I could talk about but it's difficult to do so without ruining it for people. The ending of the book was another jaw dropping moment, I just don't know how I didn't see the little twist coming, it was brilliant. The story at the end felt very final and was wrapped up nicely, which is a shame because, in this genre especially, I'm a big fan of series, following the characters over two or three books and seeing how their lives develop over a few decades. It would be a shame if this is the last we see of the Woods but either way I am massively excited to see what Casey comes up with next. I only hope she is a fast writer!

What I loved about this book is Casey's writing. It's extremely dark in places given the subject matter, but the book was infused with humour and sarcasm throughout, but never in a silly or unbelievable way. Certain parts actually made me laugh out loud, Casey has such a way with words and it really brings her characters to life, giving them real personality and adding lighter moments to what is otherwise a pretty graphic and brutal read, yet absolutely brilliant with it as that is exactly what I'm after when I pick a book like this up. Some scenes will make you want to look away, but the book is simply too addictive for that to happen. What I also look for is originality, the characters and the world they inhabit in books like this are invariably the same, it's what the author does with them that makes the book stand out from the crowd, and the story here is original and really good. I reached the end of the book and was a little gutted, I wasn't ready for the story to end and could have read on and on.

It wasn't all that long ago that this genre was owned by one author, its creator. The competition now though is so fierce with the likes of Kimberley Chambers and Jessie Keane that authors have to constantly up their game, and 2014 has been one of the most exciting years this genre has seen so next year is going to be even better I imagine. Reading this book at times reminded me of when I first read a Kimberley Chambers book, it brought back all the excitement I felt at having discovered a new (to me) author, one who is incredibly talented and who knows how to tell one hell of a story, and totally hook the reader in. I was gripped to the last half of this book, reading so fast I'm surprised my Kindle didn't break. Once you get started with this book it's really hard to stop reading. Kimberley Chambers is now a number one best selling author and if the same isn't true of Casey in a few years, I'll be very surprised. The move to a proper publisher appears to have worked wonders, and I predict other publishers will be chasing after her before long.

Overall then this book comes highly recommended by me. I recently compiled my Top 10 Books of 2014 ready to share in December, but that list will definitely be getting revised and I now have the difficult choice of choosing a book to kick out to make room for this one. To describe it in one word I would say 'outstanding' and you would be an absolute fool not to pick it up.

Thanks to Casey for arranging a review copy.

Mickey's War
Mickey's War
by Sandra Prior
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.25

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kicking myself for not reading Sandra's books sooner!, 4 Dec 2014
This review is from: Mickey's War (Paperback)
I seem to be repeating myself in my reviews, but after reviewing almost 200 books this year I'm starting to realise there's only so many ways I can say I like a book! Mickey's War is a book that immediately jumped out at me on Amazon. It's very much a Martina Cole type book, and in recent years this genre has really taken off with a number of authors actually writing better than Cole has in recent years. This is book three in a series continuing the story of the Taylor family but it can absolutely be read as a standalone, I haven't read the previous two books in the series but am hoping to very soon!

As a fan of East London, I really liked the sound of this book from its blurb. Set in 2005, London has just been awarded the Olympics. Local villain Mickey Taylor soon sees pound signs as he remembers about the plot of land his family own, which just so happens to be slap bang in the middle of where the Olympic Park is going to be built. It's not just a case of selling the land however, years ago Mickey's father allowed Frankie, King of the Gypsies to make the land his home, which he now also runs businesses from. Frankie vows to destroy Mickey if he attempts to reclaim the land. Not only that but two of his men are gunned down and his drugs stolen. Mickey soon finds himself at war, with Frankie and with at first unknown enemies who are determined to bring him down. The story starts as it means to go on, and we get straight into the action right at the start of the book.

Sandra has created realistic and believable characters. Mickey on the surface is an evil character, seemingly not bothered by committing murder, or the various other illegal acts that he commits. Yet as with most of the best villains, there was just something likeable about him at times that stopped me as a reader from hating him altogether. Multiple viewpoints give us an insight into his world from the eyes of his family, and various other characters that make up the story. There's characters you will sympathise with but also ones that you will hate. It's clear from the beginning that Sandra isn't afraid to push the boundaries, taking the story to places other authors might shy away from. It's dark, gritty, bloody yet completely realistic, which just adds to the overall authenticity of the book. If I had to pick up on one thing it would be that at times I felt the dialogue didn't suit certain characters, sometimes it felt what they were saying wouldn't suit a gangster but those times weren't very often.

This book is very addictive, written in a way that just demands you read on, which means you won't be getting a lot done once you start this book. Right up until the end I was hooked, and a brilliant and shocking ending left me dying for more. The next book cannot come quick enough but until then I can't wait to go back and read Sandra's previous books. Fans of Martina Cole and Kimberley Chambers yet to read Sandra Prior should definitely do so immediately. This books comes highly recommended by me!

Thanks to Sandra Prior for the review copy.

The Great Christmas Knit Off
The Great Christmas Knit Off
by Alexandra Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Festive perfection, 3 Dec 2014
I have to admit that when I first read the title of Alexandra Brown's new book I did wonder just how much I would like it. Knitting is not something that interests me in the slightest, and the book reminded me of the one person I would love to recommend it to but can't (never getting that hour spent in Liberty's Haberdashery department back). I remember my Nan used to knit when I was younger but that's about it. That said though I think Alexandra is an author that could write about anything and I'd read it, and after finishing this I actually think it's impossible for her to write a bad book (no pressure for the next one).

Given how much I love the Carrington's series, as with any author writing something completely new, it's hard not to compare them whether that be with the storyline, characters, setting, whatever. I did try and put Carrington to one side though and focus solely on Knit Off. With the setting of Tindledale that was incredibly easy, I want to pack my bags right now and move to Tindledale it is just the most perfect setting for a book and with the map at the start and Alexandra's beautiful descriptions, I had a really vivid picture of it in my mind. Living in a city and barely knowing (or even liking) my neighbours, it's always fascinating to read about such close knit communities that pull together, know each other's business and live a life that us city people can't even comprehend - do places like this exist?!

Our main character Sybil arrives in Tindledale after being jilted at the altar. She arrives just weeks before Christmas, meeting Hettie who owns Hettie's House of Haberdashery, a business which is struggling and needs a miracle if it is to survive another Christmas. Sybil, a self-confessed knitting addict might just have the thing that Hettie needs to save the business. So, despite not having an interest in knitting the basis of the story is an interesting one and it wasn't long before I was hooked on this book. As always it's hard to discuss the plot too much, but there is of course a romantic storyline in the book, now for returning readers who fell in love with Mr Carrington himself, how does the love interest here fare? Well... You'll have to read it and find out!

What I love about Alexandra's books is the characters that she creates. Georgie from the Carrington's series has probably become one of my favourite Chick Lit characters ever, and here in Knit Off I really liked Sybil almost from the minute we met her. It's also her ability to make her stories unique and original. Over the past few years a lot of authors have written stories where the main character is left a shop/cafe/B&B and has to renovate it and make it a success (which they invariably do) and often some of them can feel quite samey, I felt that the character of Sybil along with the journey she went on throughout the book makes this book so much more enjoyable, and better than similar ones. You can tell when reading a book just how much love and care has been put into it, I got this feeling with the Carrington books but I felt it even more here.

Overall then this book comes highly recommended by me, whether you are familiar with the work of Alexandra Brown or are a completely new reader, pick up this book and fall in love with it like I did. And if you're a new reader, go and get the Carrington series right after you finish this book, you honestly will not regret it. After a few disappointing festive reads (some I abandoned because they were 'normal' books marketed as Christmassy) this one came along at just the right time. Get the fire on (or run a hot bath), get a hot chocolate and settle in for the night because once you start reading this book you won't stop until the very end. As this is the start of a new series, the book ends leaving you wanting more, which is always an exciting (and annoying) thing, so roll on book two!

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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

12 of 19 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: £1.99

6 of 8 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 4 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

7 of 9 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: £4.68

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.

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.

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