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Book Addict Shaun (England, UK)
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All That Glitters
All That Glitters
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, 3 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: All That Glitters (Kindle Edition)
I love Vicky Pattison and after reading her autobiography last year I couldn't wait to read her first fiction novel. Issy Jones is our main character and despite having a somewhat settled life, she has always wished for more and so when her dad puts her forward for a sensational new reality TV show, she soon finds that her dreams could be about to come true. I assumed from the blurb that the book would be Geordie Shore in book form, but the reality TV show is actually a hairdressing competition, where the contestants live together and are filmed 24/7, with one of them being voted out each week after completing various hairdressing tasks. The format actually works really well, allowing the story to move along at just the right pace.

Issy is an instantly likeable character and I think that was because in the beginning she was just so normal and easy to imagine as a real person. She wanted the life that fame could give her, but not at the expense of whoring herself out or going against her beliefs. In fact, once she's in the house and meets the other contestants she's actually quite naive which again just highlighted what a normal person she was. She's a girl that female readers will really be able to relate to and root for as they read this book.

There's a great mix of characters in All That Glitters and I won't list them all but often it's the ones that you detest that stand out the most and one character in particular was Mia. I love those characters that get your blood boiling and this time around that came in the form of this snooty posh girl, who looked down her nose at everybody else when really she was the trashiest one in there. She very quickly rubs the housemates up the wrong way and you just know she would be a nightmare to live with. Issy for the most part handles things quite well, but there's more than a few intense and drama filled scenes between the two.

Issy soon struggles with her new-found fame, and her inability to keep in touch with her family and friends and her fans across social media but she forges some friendships in the house (and some of the males soon catch her eye). I think Vicky probably put a lot of her own experiences into the story, especially those behind the scenes moments where we find out just how much of what we see on screen, or read in the press, is faked and untrue. In terms of where Issy's story goes it's difficult to discuss in detail but I got completely consumed by everything that was going on, and in terms of the romance in the story it's an addictive read with lots of twists and turns. I did work out a couple of things, but that in no way lessened my enjoyment. I found myself picturing this TV series actually being on TV and I think because of how amazing some of the drama is, it would be a huge hit. There are some brilliant scenes throughout.

All That Glitters is a hugely enjoyable read with a truly satisfying ending and it is a book that I have no hesitation in recommending as one of the summer's must reads. I can't wait to read more from Vicky Pattison.


Return to Bluebell Hill
Return to Bluebell Hill
Price: £3.79

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection, 18 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Return to Bluebell Hill was one of my most anticipated releases of 2015, and it feels like years since Rebecca made the announcement on Twitter about being signed by Carina! For those not from planet Earth Rebecca Pugh is a book blogger and her blog is one of my favourites to read. She just has a way with words that makes her reviews and blog posts an absolute pleasure to read. Rebecca sent me a piece of writing she was working on a while ago, and I knew then that it wouldn't be long before I was reading a published novel, and here it is! You just know Rebecca is somebody with a very active imagination which is buzzing with ideas every waking moment, and there's nobody better to write stories than somebody like that.

I kind of wish Return to Bluebell Hill had been released under a pseudonym just so I wasn't aware who the author was but I do think Rebecca has a very distinctive writing style, one that is easily recongisable and that shone through when I was reading this stunning debut. I set my alarm an hour earlier than normal (I was in work at 5.30am) and woke up at 3.30 to download and start this book because I was that excited. I think that's something you often miss out on as a blogger when you are fortunate enough to receive books months in advance. Nothing beats that feeling of finally purchasing that book you've waited so long to be released.

Our main character in Return to Bluebell Hill is Jessica McAdams and she's one of those characters that you very quickly fall in love with, or at least I do because I love those heroines that have lost their way a little bit, or haven't yet found their place in the world. I think it's because of knowing that they are about to go on a life-changing journey and that excites me when starting a book. Jessica has felt like she's never really belonged anywhere, and has never truly felt at home. She returns to the village of Bluebell Hill after the death of her parents, parents who she had a strained and distant relationship with. Jessica's plan is to box everything up, sell the beautiful family home - Bluebell House - and return back to her life in London. Throw in the reveal of a jaw-dropping secret and a hunky gardener and soon Jessica's torn over just what direction her life should be going in.

Bluebell Hill is a fantastic little village, even with Jessica returning under unpleasant circumstances. She is reunited with Esme, an elderly lady who was her nanny when she was younger, and the only person she has ever felt close to. I loved Esme, but I wouldn't be able to cope with her chirpiness at stupid o'clock in the morning! There's some beautiful and heartfelt scenes between Jessica and Esme throughout the book. I did guess early on why Jessica had always felt so alone in the world, but if anything the whole thing just made me fall in love with her even more. I was desperate for her to find happiness, and found myself becoming frustrated with her when she began to push people away. I was almost shouting at my Kindle! Especially when she meets gardener Rueben, who female readers should prepare themselves to fall in love with. I love how natural their connection felt, and how believable the whole thing was. I obviously can't say too much except their parts in the story are perfect. I'm not an emotional person (I'm lying, I so am) and certain parts in this book were a tad emotional because of the very quick connection I established with the characters.

Return to Bluebell Hill really is a beautiful and wonderful story. One of those that you read in a day but one that you wish never had to end. My time spent in Bluebell Hill was sadly not long enough and I'd love to return again in a future novel! The character of Jessica can be explored so much further, and I'd also love to see best friend Sarah featured more prominently as she too was such a likeable character and I especially enjoyed her friendship with Jessica, that kind of friendship few people are lucky enough to experience. I finished Return to Bluebell Hill and wanted to read it again. Rebecca has an army of bloggers behind her, and the book is already storming up the charts, but those great reviews and sales only highlight what a great book this is. This is the first book I've read as a blogger where I feel I have been there for the whole journey from signing to publication day and I am so incredibly proud of Rebecca and hope the wait for another book isn't too long!


The Other Child
The Other Child
by Lucy Atkins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, 8 Jun. 2015
This review is from: The Other Child (Paperback)
I was very excited to read The Other Child when I saw it on NetGalley because both the title and the blurb left me incredibly intrigued. Tess is moving from England to Boston due to partner Greg's new job. Despite not being written in the first person, we immediately get a sense of how overwhelmed Tess is by the move. The affluent neighbourhood and big house she is moving into leave her with a feeling of dread and isolation more than excitement. Strange happenings on the first night, and Greg being away a lot - and then distant and strange when he is home - don't exactly help matters for Tess.

I think what I enjoyed most about The Other Child is how as the story progresses I started to come up with a number of theories as to what was going on, what that ultimate 'twist' would be and I probably had about four or five different scenarios playing out in my mind (and none of them were correct). We really get inside Tess's head, so much so that at times her feelings come across as paranoia more than anything else until she makes a jaw-dropping discovery. Most intriguing to witness was her relationship with Greg, who in the beginning I felt was a bit of a cold character, and it took me a while to get to grips with his character and connect with him. As each chapter ends you are left with more questions, more intrigue as to what is going on and the big reveal did surprise me, but it was fantastic.

The Other Child is an extremely thought-provoking book in the actions of our characters and some of the decisions that they make, not only in the present day but also in the past, which is explored in detail as the book progresses. It is a book that would certainly provoke a lively discussion at a book club. I wouldn't say we could relate to Tess unless we were in her situation ourselves, but as outsiders I think we can often be very quick to judge so I did have a number of opinions about the decisions that she made, and wondered how I would act in a similar situation myself. The story could have ended in so many ways and I think that's what makes it so thought-provoking as readers might have their own opinions as to how things could have ended.

A real highlight of the book was Lucy's brilliant writing. I've said it in the past but I cannot for the life of me describe writing but in The Other Child it is so wonderfully descriptive one minute but so full of intrigue and menace the next, keeping you turning the pages eager to find out what's going to happen next. Having Tess move to Boston, not being near her family and friends adds a different dynamic to the story, and you can really sympathise with her throughout. Overall The Other Child is a thoroughly enjoyable and at times gripping book, and one that I very highly recommend.


Half the World Away
Half the World Away
by Cath Staincliffe
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.58

4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 8 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Half the World Away (Hardcover)
Half the World Away opens and introduces us to a family that could be your own, and this is one of the real strengths of Cath Staincliffe's stories and characters. In Half the World Away we meet Jo who is the mother of Lori. Lori is about to go travelling, one of the stops on her travels being Chengdu. Jo is of course a little bit worried about her daughter being so far away in a foreign country and straightaway we get an understanding of the type of mother that she is, and her fears will probably be echoed by any parent reading this who has had to cope with one of their children being in a similar situation. We also learn about the family set up, the different relationship Lori has with Jo's ex-husband, and the current relationship Jo has with her new partner, and the set-up they have at home.

Lori writes about her journeys on her blog, with sporadic emails and texts home to her parents, usually when she needs money. Soon though all communication stops, including the blog posts. Jo is soon frantic, wanting to call the police despite being told that Lori is probably fine. Well, probably is never good enough for a mother and soon Jo and her ex-husband Tom are flying out to China, following Lori's footsteps in their attempts to find out what has happened to her. Firstly through Lori's posts we are able to build a quite vivid picture in our minds as we read about what the culture in Chengdu is like, but once Jo and Tom arrive in the city it felt like I was there with them. This is a setting that has been beautifully captured by Cath and it helps us to really see just how helpless Jo and Tom are, and just what a dangerous place it is for those who aren't natives. Jo and Tom receive little help from the authorities, and are met with suspicion when they arrive.

Cath is an author that doesn't just describe how her characters feel, but she makes you take on some of those feelings yourself. The pain that Jo as a parent felt was palpable and, despite being a young male with no children, I could really feel her pain as I read, and thought about how I would react in a similar situation. During the search we see how Jo must cope spending so much time with Tom, and how she copes with the troubles at home whilst being so far away. I was completely compelled to read on, along with Jo and Tom I was desperate to find out what had happened to Lori, and whether she was even still alive. The setting really adds an almost exciting dynamic to the story, it being something completely different to anything else I have ever read about before. It is of course difficult to discuss in any great detail, but it is a powerful and emotive read, one that will tug at the heartstrings of every parent that picks it up, and for younger readers or students who are travelling, it might urge them to pick up the phone and call home more often.

Half the World Away is one of those books that completely consumes you as you read, telling a tale that most readers will keep thinking about long after they have turned the final page and moved onto a new book. Cath writes real character-driven stories, with realistic, believable characters and I think that's one of the things that makes her books so enjoyable. Half the World Away might just be one of her best yet, and it comes highly recommended by me.


Finding Audrey
Finding Audrey
by Sophie Kinsella
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read, 8 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Finding Audrey (Hardcover)
I remember the reaction on Twitter when it was announced that Sophie Kinsella would be releasing a Young Adult novel. I am writing this review in April, early reviews are positive and hopefully come release day Finding Audrey is a great success, because it is a really good book. If I had read it not knowing the author, I would never have guessed it came from the pen of Sophie Kinsella. It is a book that should get a lot of people talking, and is certainly one of the more realistic in terms of its portrayal of anxiety.

Finding Audrey is a bit of a difficult book to discuss, so many of my thoughts about the book focus on the story itself, and the development of the characters and so to avoid spoilers I will have to be as vague as possible. The opening to the book is one of the funniest I have read in a while due to Audrey's over the top mother. A Daily Mail obsessive she believes computers are evil, and we see her throwing Audrey's brother Frank's computer out of the window. In the beginning we get a real sense of family, albeit an at times eccentric one, but one that I think most readers will see parts of their own family in and a family readers can really believe in.

Audrey suffers from an anxiety disorder, a quite severe one given that she only ever leaves the house to attend appointments with her therapist. I don't speak about it often, but I believe I suffer from some form of anxiety, growing up I was told I was shy, yet from experience I know that it's more than that. Even today I allow it to take over my life at times, and regret certain opportunities I have missed out on or passed on because of it. So, despite her being a young teenage girl, and having a more severe case of anxiety, I could definitely relate to and empathise with Audrey. I don't know much about how anxiety is treated but it isn't just something that Sophie Kinsella mentions a couple of times, we follow Audrey on every step of her journey and it is clear that this is something Sophie has researched incredibly well. It shows how to treat anxiety but also that there's no easy fix, and it can be a difficult road.

Audrey and her brother's friend, Linus, start a friendship through the passing of notes with a little help from Audrey's little brother, Felix. There were some truly touching moments between Audrey and Linus, and watching their relationship develop was a joy. What I particularly enjoyed was the way Sophie wrote these two characters and how realistically Linus viewed anxiety. Again spoilers! but often I think people look upon the disorder as something a lot less serious than it is, so the anger and frustration Linus sometimes felt towards Audrey, was a believable reaction and hopefully will show people that it isn't something a person can just ignore and simply 'get over'.

I read Finding Audrey in just a couple of hours, and found myself wishing the story had been longer and certain things did feel a little bit rushed in places. That said, I finished Finding Audrey with a smile on my face whilst at the same time hoping that one day Sophie will return to the character of Audrey as she is somebody I would love to read about again. Either way Sophie has shown that she can write YA just as well as she can write for adults so hopefully we do see more in the future.


I'm Dead Again: A Konstantin Novel
I'm Dead Again: A Konstantin Novel
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Hugely entertaining, 6 Jun. 2015
I was starting to think I wasn't meant to read more from Keith Nixon but finally I got my hands on I'm Dead Again which sees the return of ex-KGB Konstantin Boryakov for another action-packed read that had me fully engrossed over the course of a fun-filled afternoon.

My favourite character in I'm Dead Again was by far reporter David Brodie who the blurb describes as somebody who is on a serious downward slide. He is so wonderfully cynical and sarcastic, with an at times too realistic outlook on the world rather than being one of those 'Oh, it can only get better...' types. I don't think you'll find any rose-tinted glasses amongst his personal possessions. He is a character who is basically muddling along through life, not really caring whether his days begin or end, perhaps even preferring them to end for good with his blase attitude towards things such as red lights... Brodie lays blame for his predicament firmly at the door of disgraced businessman Gordon Dredge, and his outlook on life changes drastically when he is presented with the opportunity for some form of vengeance towards Dredge.

I'm Dead Again features a large cast of characters, and as with The Fix they are all so well-drawn. It's a story where every characters is hunting somebody or something but they are also being hunted themselves. Dredge is a man not without his own problems, namely his debt to Stevie 'The Steroid' Oakhill. Oakhill himself having to content with a Chechen trying to takeover his business. There's real excitement when reading I'm Dead Again because there's very few ways to predict which way the story will go. And which characters will even be alive by the end of it. I was definitely rooting for Brodie though. He is a character who is easy to believe in - I tried to ignore any similarities I had in my own outlook on life at times - and somebody who I definitely wanted to succeed, seeing in him the person he could become. It's a thought-provoking read in the way that it shows the effect that being involved with a person like Dredge can have, whether that's on criminals he associates with, reporters like Brodie or anybody else who just happens to get caught up with him.

Konstantin is a character who continues to evolve naturally, once again the reader learning more about him and enjoying the time spent in his company enough to want to read more about him in the future. Returning characters from The Fix help flesh out the novel, giving us updates into how they too have progressed, some fates being a little bit better than others... Keith Nixon somehow takes so many different elements: comedy, drama, gangsters, crime, thriller, black humour and mixes them all up to create a finished product which is pretty damn good. It's clear reading how much fun Keith must have writing these novels, but they are also at times serious but always enjoyable and compelling reads and this time around a real example of just how far people can go when they are pushed to their limits.

I am lucky enough to have a copy of Keith Nixon's standalone crime novel The Corpse Role which I hope to have a review for over the coming weeks. Until then if you haven't already, I would definitely recommend picking up The Fix and I'm Dead Again.


The Sun in Her Eyes
The Sun in Her Eyes
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 21 May 2015
I started reading The Sun in Her Eyes one lazy afternoon and read almost half of the book in one sitting. Our main character is Amber and not long after being made redundant, she receives a phone call from Australia telling her that her father has had a stroke. She heads Down Under pretty much straightaway, leaving behind husband Ned and heading straight for Ethan, the gorgeous, green-eyed man she once fell for, but who never loved her back... Australia is a country that I really want to visit, and I was pleased to discover that the majority of the book is set there. I loved the descriptions of Adelaide which really helped me to visualise this place where Amber grew up, and despite it being May as I read, and the weather outside being cold and miserable, this book was just the summery little pick me up that I needed.

Unusually, Amber isn't an instantly likeable character. Her relationship with Ned isn't that typical relationship that starts off 90% of Chick Lit novels where the girl is treated terribly by her boyfriend, only to leave him for the insanely gorgeous stud who just so happens to be waiting in the wings. Instead what we have is a realistic portrayal of a marriage, a couple who are experiencing doubts and insecurities that many a married couple before them have probably experienced. Throw in the first man she ever fell in love with and as Amber herself says, she's in trouble.

The attraction Amber felt towards Ethan was understandable, and readers will probably end up wanting to throw themselves at him also. The way the story was written in the beginning meant that he was my favourite out of the two, forbidden love always being the most exciting kind of romance to read about. None of the characters in this book are perfect, but I think that was the great thing about it, because all of them felt real and believable. As the story progresses I think most people will firmly be on Team Ned! I especially loved reading about how their relationship formed, in the beginning it was almost like Ned was just second best, somebody Amber had settled for because her love for Ethan was one-sided.

I had a couple of ideas of where the story would go, and I was completely wrong most of the time. I think it's because I was expecting some brilliant twists, especially as the blurb hints at hidden secrets or some kind of mystery. That never really materialised but - without being able to discuss it too much - I think the story is about so much more than that, but you'll have to read it for yourself to see what I mean and in the end I really loved what the 'secret' turned out to be, and the real meaning behind it. Very early on I had a completely 'out there' thought at what I thought a twist could be, but as the book progressed, let's just say I was glad I was wrong! Ultimately The Sun in Her Eyes is a really enjoyable story, the beauty of it perhaps being a little bit understated and there are some rather emotional moments as story nears its conclusion. I really hope we might meet these characters again one day, which given that Paige Toon does like to let us know what her previous characters are up to, I think there's a fair chance that we will.


Addicted: A sexy, riotous summer bonkbuster
Addicted: A sexy, riotous summer bonkbuster
Price: £1.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Addictive, 21 May 2015
Regular readers of my blog will know that my favourite author is Jackie Collins, and so when Bookouture signed Nigel May, and I read that he has been called 'the male Jackie Collins' I was both excited and apprehensive to see how he would compare. I have actually had Nigel's books on my TBR since starting the blog last year when he first came to my attention, so his signing was the perfect time to finally read his books.

I was addicted to Addicted. Seriously, it has everything you would want from a bonkbuster, along with some rather incredible and outrageous main characters in the form of our four women. Nancy Arlow - fading entertainer about to develop a gambling addiction that could see her life fall apart, Lauren Everett - a woman who pretty much has no life since she became the wife of a politician, she is about to rediscover the life she left behind (and develop a drug addiction along the way...), Portia Safari - world famous diva, adored by millions, has a drinking problem that could cost her everything... and Martha Eclair - millionaire wine heiress with a sex addiction that could destroy her father's empire. All of these girls are about to collide, resulting in one of the most entertaining reads I have read this year.

Bonkbusters usually have a mystery element, and the mystery in Addicted comes at the very beginning when we witness the funeral of one of our four women, but it is kept from the reader which woman it actually is, before taking us back in time, setting the scene, introducing all of the characters, and showing us just how all of their lives come to converge. The very nature of stories like this means that they are hard to summarise, so much happens, but all I can say is that it's a hell of a lot of fun to read about. Also the sex. Any good? Yes. Let's just say Nigel has a very vivid imagination and he puts it to good use here.

I think what I enjoyed most was how Nigel May made the personalities of our four women really shine through, and not always in a good way. Not only that but that boring cliche of 'money doesn't buy you happiness', the saying that those of us without wealth can't possibly imagine to be true, is actually true because our leading ladies aren't always happy, and have the same worries and insecurities that women across the world face every single day. It's hard to discuss favourites without fully explaining why, but I must have changed my mind about who I liked the most a dozen times as I read, as the characters change so will your opinion, but as we neared the finish I was firmly on the side of some of the characters more than others. I'll say no more...

As the percentage on my Kindle got nearer to 100%, I couldn't read quick enough to discover how everything would conclude. To discover which of our characters would soon find themselves six feet under (despite having a fair idea of which one it would be...) and I was a little bit disappointed to finish this book. Aside from Queen Jackie I also love Victoria Fox, and I think Nigel May is about to sit alongside those two authors if Trinity and his upcoming new novel, Scandalous Lies, are as good as Addicted. I have no hesitation in recommending this book! It is the perfect read this summer.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 26, 2015 9:49 AM BST


The Samaritan
The Samaritan
Price: £6.49

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Move over Jack Reacher, 21 May 2015
This review is from: The Samaritan (Kindle Edition)
The Killing Season - the debut novel from Mason Cross - was a great success and certainly one of the more enjoyable books that I have read this year. I was incredibly relieved to have a review copy of The Samaritan to read rather than having to wait after the thrilling conclusion delivered by Mason in The Killing Season. Mason proves in The Samaritan that the comparisons to the various bestselling authors are not just marketing tools, he has created a character in Carter Blake that can easily stand alongside the likes of Jack Reacher.

In The Samaritan the mutilated body of a young woman discovered in the Santa Monica Mountains points LAPD detective Jessica Allen in the direction of a serial killer - the MO being the same as one she witnessed a couple of years ago on the other side of the country. 'The Samaritan' preys on lone female drivers who have broken down, and with no leads or traces left behind, the police are stumped. Enter Carter Blake, a skilled manhunter with an ability to foresee the Samaritan's next moves but a man who leaves Jessica and her colleagues with a couple of suspicions. Blake has his work cut out attempting to stop the Samaritan, and might just find his life once again on the line not least because he also recognises the MO as that of a man from his past.

The opening establishes to the reader just the kind of person Carter Blake is, as well as giving a little bit of background and insight as to what his 'job' is. What I especially enjoy is how refreshing he is as a character, making this series one of the most exciting new thriller series I have read for a long time. In The Samaritan Mason Cross tells the story in the present day, but interweaves Blake's past to add to the overall mystery and the story here is incredibly strong. If someone asked you to describe what you expect from a thriller I'm sure most people would list: fast-paced, relentless, action-packed etc and whilst it is a bit of a cliche to describe books in that way, that is exactly what is delivered in The Samaritan.

What struck me first in The Killing Season and again in The Samaritan is how truly American these books feel. Being written by a British author, you hope that they can bring to the story that authenticity, and Mason Cross definitely does. Add in some brilliantly vivid descriptions both of the setting and the scenes themselves and this is an incredibly exciting read. In terms of plot it is once again difficult to talk further than the blurb, but what I most enjoyed was learning more about Blake's history, and the way that it was used throughout the story. I actually thought I had a couple of the twists worked out, but I have to admit I failed to see a couple of killer twists that were revealed right before the conclusion. The Killing Season had a heart-stopping, thrilling ending and this was delivered again in The Samaritan and then some. Thriller fans looking for something fresh, and to feel that excitement you get upon discovering an author such as Mason Cross would be well-advised to check out this series.


The Mourner
The Mourner
Price: £3.29

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, 21 May 2015
This review is from: The Mourner (Kindle Edition)
Susan Wilkins returns with The Mourner, the follow-up to probably one of the best debuts I read in 2014, The Informant. Second novel syndrome is not a term you can apply to Susan, as if anything The Mourner was even better than The Informant and it has left me extremely excited to read more from Susan who is reinventing the grit lit genre in a very exciting and intelligent way.

The Mourner packs a lot into its five hundred plus pages, and it is of course impossible to discuss in detail but it continues the story that left many a reader reeling when they turned the final page of The Informant. Karen Phelps is living in Glasgow under the witness protection scheme after delivering the testimony that saw her brother Joey receive a thirty year prison sentence. Joey has plans, which don't include remaining in prison for very long. Meanwhile, Kaz's ex-lover and ex-lawyer Helen Warner finds herself not in hot water, but the freezing cold waters of the River Thames, her body soon being discovered. Nicci Armstrong is an ex-police officer turned PI whose firm receives a not so subtle hint that the death of Helen Warner, deemed a suicide, is in fact anything but. You can see then why it's hard to summarise.

Susan Wilkins creates characters that immediately feel real, that come to life on the page. Susan doesn't just tell you how her characters feel, instead she has you experiencing those feelings yourself as you read. Her characters are believable, flawed, sometimes relateable yet often a complete world away yet you will be with them on every step of their journey. Kaz Phelps is perhaps my most favourite, but I did have a soft spot for the broken Nicci who plays a huge role in The Mourner as our two characters develop a fierce determination to find out what really happened to Helen Warner. This series has strong female characters in a genre that often portrays them in an atypical way, often making them appear superior to males but it coming across forced or alternatively making them a doormat for males. Instead Susan's characters are strong, but with real fears, insecurities and issues.

The Mourner uses the familiar writing style of each chapter following a different character before eventually the various threads begin to converge before resulting in a rather brilliant conclusion. I learnt reading this book not to even bother guessing where Susan was going to take the story, particularly in the twists that she delivers regarding our characters. In terms of the main story arc, the mystery surrounding the death of Helen Warner, what we have is a realistic tale, one that is all too believable and one that will leave many a reader quite angry. I do love it when an author can bring real emotion out of a reader. Susan bursts right into parliament with this story, shining a light on political cover-ups, shady politicians and long-buried secrets that are about to come tumbling out giving this story real depth and substance in a genre that usually tends to stick to one arena. A further highlight is the London setting, the city becoming a character in itself and it being a brilliant playing field for everything that happens over the course of the story.

Susan Wilkins truly is an exciting author, completely surpassing any bar that similar authors may have set before her and if anything, setting the bar for those authors to come along and try to beat. I hope she is writing more books for many years to come, and I have no trouble in very highly recommending The Mourner.


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