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Sonya Alford (London, United Kingdom)

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The Optician's Wife: a compelling new psychological thriller
The Optician's Wife: a compelling new psychological thriller
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A shocker of an ending, 18 Jun. 2016
I was sent a copy of this book by the author in return for an honest review.

Deborah is seventeen years old and very lonely. She doesn’t have any friends and is unpopular. Life at home isn’t good either. One day whilst on her lunch break Deborah meets Larry. He instantly sweeps her off her feet and they start meeting on a regular basis. The only problem is that Larry has a secret.

When a number of grisly murders take place a shadow is cast over everything. As Deborah’s world begins to fall apart she begins to suspect the man she loves of a terrible betrayal. They need to keep their marriage alive and in order to do this sacrifices must be made. But just how far will Deborah be willing to go?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It was fantastic with an absolute shocker of an ending. I really liked Betsy Reavley’s style of writing and the way the story was set out. She has a way of drawing you right into the plot. I have to say I definitely did not expect the outcome and would never have guessed it in a million years. Everything just seemed so straightforward.

There were a number of rather unsavoury characters in the story and it was hard picking out any I really liked. I wasn’t keen on Larry at all. He appeared to be nice but in fact he was a total control freak. He took over Deborah’s life so much that she ended up with little freedom. Sadly though I don’t think Deborah saw it that way.

'The Optician’s Wife' is a psychological thriller which will grab hold of you and play with your mind. It is quite a scary reminder that you don’t know what could be going on behind closed doors.

This is a story I won’t forget in a hurry. I can see it being made into a TV drama or film. I’m looking forward to reading more of Betsy Reavley’s novels.

All Together Now
All Together Now
by Gill Hornby
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A feel good, light-hearted and at times funny read, 9 Jun. 2016
This review is from: All Together Now (Paperback)
I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Bridgeford is a small town in crisis. The high street isn’t what it used to be what with businesses closing. It seems to have lost its heart. But there is one thing that might just bring the town together: music. The Bridgeford Community Choir have a chance to win the county championship but they need more members.

Enter Tracey Leckford and Bennett Parker, two new recruits. Tracey who sounds like a pop star is hiding a big secret. Bennett is the perfect tenor but he is baffled by the modern world. Both of them feel rather lost and alone. Can Tracey and Bennett learn to work together, save the choir and maybe even their community?

One of the first things that attracted me to this book was the cover which I think is lovely. I liked the sound of the story too although joining a choir is something I personally would never do as much as I enjoy music. It just wouldn’t be my cup of tea.

I thought 'All Together Now' was beautifully written. It’s about a small community coming together, trying to breathe some life back into their town. Whether they actually succeed though is another thing. It took me a while to get into the story and I felt it was a bit too slow at times, but later on it got really interesting.

There were lots of characters in this story, many of them facing their own personal battles. The choir was a good way for them to get out and socialise with others. Tracey was one of my favourites, as was Bennett.

'All Together Now' is a feel good, light-hearted and at times funny read.

The Brief - gripping crime drama set in the swinging 60s (Charles Holborne)
The Brief - gripping crime drama set in the swinging 60s (Charles Holborne)
by Simon Michael
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extremely addictive read!, 6 Jun. 2016
I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in return for an honest review.

The story is set in 1960s London. In a city of gangsters, prejudice and terrifying gang wars, Barrister Charles Holborne seems to spend the majority of his time dealing with the worst examples of violent criminality. Having successfully won a number of high profile cases, Charles is building a reputation amongst Soho’s criminal classes as a man who gets the job done. This unfortunately doesn’t endear him to his establishment colleagues.

However, Charles isn’t all he seems and is in fact battling personal demons and his past. When his philandering wife Henrietta is found dead with her throat slashed, Charles suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of the law and in serious trouble. Arrested for her murder, can he discover the truth and escape the hangman’s noose?

I started reading 'The Brief' late last Saturday night and from the very first page I was totally engrossed. It was literally a case of having to read one more chapter, followed by another one and another one. After two late nights and many more hours besides I have now finished this wonderful book and want to shout out how great it is.

I thought 'The Brief' to be an extremely addictive read. Split into five parts it is fast-paced, gripping and very exciting. I love crime fiction and was most interested in learning more about the legal side of things. Simon Michael has himself had a career at the Bar and has drawn on his experiences to write this book which makes it all the more real. I really liked that court documents were included in the story. I read the Transcript of Evidence with great interest and at one point even felt as if I was in the court too.

There were certainly some very dodgy characters in the story and it was at times hard to know who to trust. I really liked Charles and hoped that he would get off his murder charge. He was stitched up good and proper and he soon knew what it was like to be on the other side.

'The Brief' will keep you up for hours. It will play on your mind and you’ll be dying to know what happens next.

I am really looking forward to Simon Michael’s new book, 'An Honest Man', which is due out next month.

The Butcher Bird
The Butcher Bird
by S D Sykes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.00

5.0 out of 5 stars S D Sykes has done it again!, 21 May 2016
This review is from: The Butcher Bird (Paperback)
I reviewed 'Plague Land', the first book in the Oswald de Lacy series back in 2014. Having loved this novel I recently bought 'The Butcher Bird' which came out in paperback on the 7th April of this year.

It is now 1351 and life continues as it has been doing at Somershill Manor. Oswald is doing his very best to continue to run a struggling estate. However, with a socially ambitious mother, an overbearing sister and a mutinous workforce who are demanding higher wages, this doesn’t prove to be very easy and certain things are beyond his control.

When a baby is found impaled on a thorn bush word soon gets around and people start claiming that they have seen a huge creature in the skies. It is up to Oswald to find out the truth and quickly before more murders are committed. Is there such a thing as The Butcher Bird or is there something even more sinister at play?

I could have screamed with joy when I saw 'The Butcher Bird' in Waterstones. Having thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the series I was expecting great things and I’m really happy to say that my expectations were more than met. This was an absolutely fantastic read with some shocking revelations and a number of twists and turns. Throughout the story you are reminded about what happened in ‘Plague Land’ which is good because it means you don’t need to refer back to it.

It was interesting seeing the character of Oswald de Lacy developing. He really did have a lot put on him at a young age but I think he coped pretty well. I loved reading about the journey to London from Somershill. I thought it to be very descriptive and fascinating. I also enjoyed meeting a number of the same characters.

The author has written another interesting historical note which you will find at the back of the book. I do like that she does her research and that a number of events that took part in the story actually did happen. There is also a useful glossary at the back too.

S D Sykes has done it again by writing yet another brilliant book. I don’t mean to wish the rest of the year away when it is already going so fast, but I really can’t wait for the next instalment in this series which is due out in early 2017.

You really should read 'Plague Land' first before starting this book.

Danger, Sweetheart
Danger, Sweetheart
by MaryJanice Davidson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite funny in places, 10 May 2016
This review is from: Danger, Sweetheart (Paperback)
I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Blake Tarbell doesn’t realise it but he’s about to get a taste of country life. Rich, carefree and used to the Vegas party lifestyle, Blake is thrown for a curve when his former cocktail-waitress mother pleads that he goes back to her roots to save the town she grew up in. Arriving in Sweetheart, North Dakota, Blake finds himself staying and working at Heartbreak Farm. Life there is very different. For a start off he has to trade in his expensive shoes for a pair of cowboy boots and wear clothes he’s not used to wearing. Luckily for Blake though he’s about to get a little bit of help from the loveliest lady in town.

Natalie Lane doesn’t have time for newbies. There’s nothing she can’t do to keep a farm up and running. But when a handsome city-slicker arrives in town with bad farmer’s instincts and good intentions Natalie’s heartstrings are pulled. They’re about to teach each other a thing or two.

I was interested in reading 'Danger, Sweetheart' as it sounded good and different. I have to say though, it actually took me quite a while to get into the story and I found it hard going. I also found the style of writing a bit confusing. The point where I really started to enjoy the book was when Blake arrived at Heartbreak Farm. That to me is when things really got interesting and started to hot up.

Blake had a twin brother called Rake and he kept referring to him as terrible in conversation, something I personally found annoying after a while. There’s only so many times a person can repeat the same thing surely. That said, I did like him. He was clever, wordy and a big reader of books. There were also some really quite funny parts like when Blake was given the task of training a pony. The lengths he went to try and tame her were just hilarious.

There were some interesting characters; some nice, others not so nice. I really liked Natalie even though she wasn’t being entirely honest about things.

All in all an okay read, but I’m sure other people will really enjoy 'Danger, Sweetheart'.

The Trouble With Seduction
The Trouble With Seduction
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read with an extremely complicated plot, 6 May 2016
I was sent a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

This story is set in London, England, 1855. Sarah, Lady Strathford, twice widowed and still fairly young is ready for a little bit of harmless fun, preferably with a man of her own age with and someone who she can have an adventure with. That’s not too much to ask for is it!

Her hopes are raised when the very dashing, roguish and rather baffling Mr Cornelius Ravenhill appears. As Sarah soon discovers though he is not the gentleman he seems and she finds herself battling against the corrupt and harsh world around her which threatens to destroy everything precious to her. Will her seduction at the hands of Mr Ravenhill prove to be her saviour or was she better off on her own?

As most of you probably know by now I really enjoy historical fiction. I liked the sound of 'The Trouble with Seduction' so was more than happy to give it a go. The blurb is at the front of the eBook, something I think is ever so useful. It’s very handy especially if like me you have loads of books on your e-reader and can’t remember what it’s about.

I thought this to be a very enjoyable read with an extremely complicated plot which keeps you guessing as to what really happened. The author has an eye for detail and I loved reading about Strathford Hall and all its grandeur. It made me wish I was there exploring it and searching out secret rooms and hidden passages. Sarah Strathford’s late husband, Edward, the Earl of Strathford was an inventor. He had created many wonderful things including some rather saucy sex toys.

There were a number of characters some of whom were very unsavoury indeed. I took an instant dislike to Lumsley. Sarah was one of my favourites though. She had been through so much and her real problems were only just beginning. I thought Sarah to be a very kind person. She had set up a charity where children and adults came with their problems for help and to be educated. I also really liked Damen. I don’t want to give too much away but he was good for her even though he wasn’t who she thought he was. He went about things in a bit of an underhand way but had his reasons.

Whilst reading this novel I came across a lovemaking scene that had been split between two chapters which was slightly off putting. I personally felt that it should have all taken place in the same chapter. There was also a fair bit of violence in this book but don’t let that put you off. If you’re a fan of historical fiction then I would say that 'The Trouble with Seduction' is worth reading.

In Her Wake
In Her Wake
Price: £4.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Full of twists and turns, a brilliant story, 9 April 2016
This review is from: In Her Wake (Kindle Edition)
I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Imagine living your life and then one day discovering that it was all a lie and that you are not who you think you are. Unthinkable isn’t it? That’s exactly what happened to Bella. When a tragic family event turns her whole world upside down, Bella makes the decision to find out the truth. After a bit of digging around she embarks on a trip to Cornwall where past betrayals and 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life.

You know when you open a book, read the first page and you know straightaway that it’s for you? Well, I can’t tell you just how much I enjoyed 'In Her Wake'. It’s a truly wonderful and beautifully written story which I absolutely loved. Full of twists and turns and shocking revelations it kept me reading and dying to know what was going to happen next.

There were some interesting characters in this story. I really wasn’t too keen on Bella’s husband David though. He was a control freak and that together with the suffocating childhood she had did nothing to really help Bella, though at the time I guess she wouldn’t have seen it that way. I think she was very brave to go it alone and discover the truth for herself. It helped her grow as a person. What Henry and Elaine did was totally wrong and not acceptable at all but as you’ll find out later there was a reason why they did what they did.

I enjoyed reading about Cornwall where the story is mostly set. It sounds beautiful and is a place I would really like to visit one day.

I have already read a number of great books this year but 'In Her Wake' is definitely on my list of favourites. This is one brilliant psychological thriller which I won’t forget in a hurry.

The Father: Made In Sweden
The Father: Made In Sweden
by Anton Svensson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An exciting, intriguing and addictive read, 28 Mar. 2016
I was sent a proof copy of this book in return for an honest review.

'The Father' is a work of fiction, inspired by the shocking true story of three brothers who came to be Sweden’s most wanted criminals. In the early 1990s they committed a total of ten bank robberies in just over two years. All under 24 years of age, they had never before done anything against the law.

In this intoxicating and heart-breaking thriller, the fourth brother, who was aware of what was going on but was not involved in the robberies, tells the story of three boys who grew up from innocent children to become public enemy number one, and of the father who made them that way.

This was my very first experience of Swedish crime fiction. I was interested in giving this book a go especially when I saw that it was based on true events. 'The Father' is quite a long book and I didn’t really know how I would get on with it but I soon found myself getting into the story.

I thought 'The Father' was very well written. I found it to be an exciting, intriguing and addictive read. It’s a story about sticking together as a family, brotherly love and the complex relationship between a father and his sons. Leo was always so protective and loving of his two younger brothers, especially Vincent, his baby brother. There was a lot of violence in this story and occasionally I had to put the book down for a little while as there was so much going on in my head, but I was soon back reading it.

Split into four parts, this book goes back and forth between the present and the past, the now and then, telling the story of the three brothers and their childhood. As children they witnessed things they really shouldn’t have had to. Their innocence was taken away from them at a young age by their father, Ivan, a hard and brutal man who believed in being able to protect yourself with your fists. Perhaps he thought he was doing the right thing in teaching his eldest son, Leo, how to fight back. I have to say I did wonder at times why so much emphasis was put on the brothers’ childhood, but as I saw later this was a very necessary part of the story.

'The Father' is the first part of a two-part series, with the second part, ‘The Son’ to be published in hardback in 2017 which I am looking forward to reading.

Death in Profile
Death in Profile
Price: £1.89

4.0 out of 5 stars Unique and very thought provoking, 20 Mar. 2016
This review is from: Death in Profile (Kindle Edition)
I got my copy of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

London’s Hampstead, a normally respectable and quiet place, is shattered by a series of horrifying murders. The police investigation has been going on for a while and it doesn’t seem to be progressing much. Pressurised by senior officers who are desperate for a result, a new initiative is clearly needed and fast.

Intellectual analysis and police procedure vie with the gut instinct of ‘copper’s nose’, and who would have thought that a famous fictional detective could be of assistance. A psychological profile of the murderer allows the police to narrow down their search. But will they be able to solve the case before Scotland Yard loses patience with them? That’s for you the reader to find out.

I thoroughly enjoyed 'Death in Profile'. It was so good that I stayed up till late at night reading it and then woke up early this morning to carry on. When the cover was revealed several months ago I absolutely loved it; the old fashioned street lamp, everything.

I am a big fan of crime fiction and have devoured quite a lot of books in this genre. I don’t even seem to mind if they are grisly. However, 'Death in Profile' was totally different to anything I have read so far. It concentrated mainly on the actual police investigation, preparation for counsel meetings and the court hearing.

I thought this story was really quite unique and very thought provoking. It got me trying to work out who the killer could possibly be. It also shows you just what the police have to go through when trying to solve a big investigation.

I will definitely be getting myself a paperback copy to add to my collection and I am really looking forward to reading the next in the series. I hope that I get to meet some of the original characters again.

The Sleeping Warrior
The Sleeping Warrior
by Sara Bain
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An exciting, fast-paced and thrilling story, 17 Mar. 2016
This review is from: The Sleeping Warrior (Paperback)
I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Libby Butler’s life is in a bit of a mess. Working as a solicitor in a prestigious London law firm her career appears to be at a standstill. Her rather ill-advised affair with her boss isn’t really doing her any good either. To top it all off Libby has a terrifying encounter in a park late at night with what is presumed to be the Vampire Killer, an evil knife-wielding maniac. She is lucky to escape but this incident obviously knocks her for six and does nothing for her confidence.

Desperate to pick up the pieces of her life, duty calls Libby to the cells of a Metropolitan police station in the darkest hours of the night. There Libby meets mysterious and enigmatic stranger Gabriel Radley, a man who is on intimate terms with danger and who somehow manages to escape police custody. Gabriel is searching for a Stone which he has lost, its value apparently beyond human imagining.

Libby sensing a chance at redemption agrees to help Gabriel find it, but unwittingly plunges headfirst into a series of events that threaten to tear her world apart. A cult called the Awakened, a gangland thug, a deadly female assassin, a dedicated detective and even the Vampire Killer, all somehow become embroiled in the chase for the Stone and influenced by the elemental force that is Gabriel. As the death toll rises will the killer be found?

I thought 'The Sleeping Warrior' was an absolutely brilliant read. In fact it was even better than I expected it to be. Sara Bain definitely tells a good story, so much so that I found myself instantly drawn to it. I’m not actually a big fan of fantasy but it really worked in this book.

In the first chapter the reader is introduced to Gabriel Radley. There was certainly a mystery surrounding him and I very was eager to find out what it was. I think he was really good for Libby and helped her quite a bit.

Some of where the story was set and other areas mentioned in this book aren’t actually far from where I live at all and being that I was already totally engrossed, I found it all a little bit surreal. It was as if the murders and other events that took place had actually happened. That wasn’t the case though luckily. There were a number of unsavoury characters who I really wouldn’t have wanted to meet.

This was an exciting, fast-paced and thrilling story which kept me on tenterhooks. I’m so glad that I have Sara Bain’s next novel, 'The Ghost Tree' to read.

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