Category Archives: Authors J to L

Reviews by author surname J to L

Review – Fallible Justice by Laura Laakso

The Blurb

In Old London, where paranormal races co-exist with ordinary humans, criminal verdicts delivered by the all-seeing Heralds of Justice are infallible. After a man is declared guilty of murder and sentenced to death, his daughter turns to private investigator Yannia Wilde to do the impossible and prove the Heralds wrong.
Yannia has escaped a restrictive life in the Wild Folk conclave where she was raised, but her origins mark her as an outsider in the city. Those origins lend her the sensory abilities of all of nature. Yet Yannia is lonely and struggling to adapt to life in the city. The case could be the break she needs. She enlists the help of her only friend, a Bird Shaman named Karrion, and together they accept the challenge of proving a guilty man innocent.
So begins a breathless race against time and against all conceivable odds. Can Yannia and Karrion save a man who has been judged infallibly guilty?

My Thoughts

Fallible Justice by Laura Laakso is not the kind of book that I would normally go for, but I was totally drawn in by the beautiful cover and I couldn’t resist it. It turns out that the words between the pages are just as great as the cover, and I thoroughly enjoyed Fallible Justice and I’m pleased to have discovered a great new author.

Laakso has combined crime fiction with fantasy and magic and it works really well, not least because of her talent for writing and character and world building. Fallible Justice is really well written with prose that draws you in to the world Laakso has created.

Yannia Wilde is a private investigator living in Old London. When she and her apprentice, Karrion, are asked to investigate the trial of a man who may have been wrongly condemned to death for the murder of a high-ranking council official it proves to be a challenging case, to say the least.

At first, this sounds like a fairly straight-forward idea for a story but what makes Fallible Justice different is the fact that nothing is of this world. The blurb explains it best when it states that ‘paranormal races co-exist with humans in Old London’. Yannia is a member of the Wild Folk and her apprentice is a Bird Shamen. Laakso’s writing is such that you completely believe in the characters, the fact that paranormal folk exist and you become part of that world. I adored Yannia, she is, despite being magical, very human with vulnerabilities and strengths like everyone else. I also warmed to Karrion immediately and loved the humour that Laakso injected into his character.

The other issue that makes the investigation difficult is the fact that the magic population’s justice system is deemed to be infallible. This concept really interested me from the perspective that almost everything is corruptible but would this be the case when magic and otherworldly powers are involved? And if so, how? While set in a time and place different to the one we inhabit, Fallible Justice’s themes are ones that we can all relate to.

Laakso’s writing is wonderful and she demonstrates a soaring imagination. I loved her portrayal of nature and the juxtaposition between brutality and beauty that comes with the natural world. Everything has been so carefully and well-thought out down to how Yannia uses her Wild Folk power to the descriptions of Old London.

It’s fair to say that I’m now a fan of the world that Laakso has created and I’m delighted that this is the first in a series. Laakso has created created enough intrigue with Yannia that you want to read the next book immediately, but, alas, we have to wait.

If you love crime fiction and fantasy or even if you love crime fiction but fancy a change and are not sure if fantasy is your thing, give Fallible Justice a try. I promise, you will not be disappointed. A brilliantly constructed and wonderfully written debut.

Fallible Justice was published on paperback on 8 October 2018 and ebook on 8 November 2018 by Louise Walters Books. Grab your copy HERE.

A huge thank you to Laura Laakso and Louise Walters for the copy in exchange for my review.

Review – The Cult On Fog Island by Mariette Lindstein

The Blurb

The deadliest trap is the one you don’t see…
Sofia has just finished university and ended a troubled relationship when she attends a lecture about a New Age movement, Via Terra. Its leader is Franz Oswald, young, good-looking, urbane and mesmerizing.
When Sofia meets Franz Oswald, the handsome, charming leader of a mysterious New Age movement, she’s dazzled and intrigued. Visiting his headquarters on Fog Island, Sofia’s struck by the beautiful mansion overlooking the sea, the gardens, the sense of peace and the purposefulness of the people who live there. And she can’t ignore the attraction she feels for Franz.
So she agrees to stay, just for a while. But as summer gives way to winter, and the dense fog from which the island draws its name sets in, it becomes clear that Franz rules the island with an iron fist. No phones or computers are allowed. Contact with the mainland is severed. Electric fences surround the grounds. And Sofia begins to realize how very alone she is and that no one ever leaves Fog Island…

My Thoughts

I am fascinated by cults and therefore could not resist requesting The Cult on Fog Island by Mariette Lindstein when I saw it on NetGalley. I was even more excited to read it when I discovered that the author had been a Scientologist. I expected that this would give the book an authenticity and I was ready for a book that despite being a work of fiction would give me a real insight to life inside a cult. This book is not out until January 2019 and I wouldn’t normally review a book this early but I couldn’t resist it.

The Cult on Fog Island follows Sofia, a young woman who has just finished university, ended a relationship and is looking to start the next phase of her life. When she attends a lecture held by Franz Oswald about his movement Via Terra and is invited to visit the headquarters on Fog Island Sofia goes along out of curiosity and because she is attracted to Oswald. At the lecture there is nothing to suggest that she will be entering a cult as Via Terra is pitched as a ‘new age movement’ and does not prescribe to any religion. It was easy to see how Sofia was drawn in as a result.

Told in third person with Sofia as the main character, we get her perspective of the events that unfold. What I liked is that Sofia comes across as your average young woman. I have to admit to going into the book expecting the main character to a particularly vulnerable young woman, but she is not. Sofia comes from a stable family and her life has followed the course of many women. This makes The Cult on Fog Island even more creepy as it demonstrates how easily someone can be drawn into a cult.

The book is also punctuated by an anonymous voice of whom we do not discover the identity of until later in the book. These parts are creepy and give you an insight in to how a person develops into a domineering force.

The Cult on Fog Island is a slow burner, so don’t go into this book expecting thrills straight away. This may not appeal to some people but I am quite happy to read a slower-paced thriller if the pace fits with the story and in this case it does. The pace enables us to see how Via Terra goes from innocent enough new age centre to effectively a prison camp. The character of Franz Oswald is central to this and while I didn’t get a sense of him being the charismatic man Sofia and other members of Via Terra talk about, Lindstein has portrayed him well as a man the slow descent of madness. We watch as his façade steadily slips over time and his megalomaniacal and paranoid tendencies come out. As Oswald’s paranoia steadily increases, life for those working at Via Terra becomes deadly. The methods he uses to control those around them gradually become more and more extreme and alongside methods such as sleep deprivation and malnourishment I got a real sense of why they wouldn’t – or couldn’t – fight back.

I really enjoyed The Cult on Fog Island and found myself eagerly returning to it after each break from reading. For me it highlighted the insidious nature of control and dangers of paranoia. I liked the fact that it was subtle in its portrayal of life inside a cult rather than trying to be more of a fast-paced thriller as this gave it an authenticity. However, I expect The Cult on Fog Island to have a mixed reaction because of its pace and it may not go down well with those who want a ‘faster’ read. If you like slower-paced books and are interested in cults Lindstein’s The Cult on Fog Island is one to check out.

The Cult On Fog Island is published on 24 January 2019 by HQ. You can pre-order a copy HERE.

Thanks to Mariette Lindstein, HQ and NetGalley for the advance copy in exchange for my review.


Blog Tour – The Date by Louise Jensen *Review*

I am beyond delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Louise Jensen’s latest novel, The Date with my blogging buddy Jen at Jen Med’s Book Reviews. Before I tell you what I thought, here is what it is about:

The Blurb

One night can change everything.

‘I know it as soon as I wake up and open my eyes… Something is wrong.’

Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to take a step into her new future. By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognisable. She wakes, and she knows that something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her.

Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognise the face staring back at her…

My Thoughts

Oh, how pleased I was to get my hands on Louise Jensen’s latest book, The Date. I loved The Sister and The Gift (I have The Surrogate sitting on my Kindle but, as with a lot of the books I have bought, I have not had time to read it yet).

In The Date we meet Alison Taylor who, having quite recently separated from her husband, has been on a date with Ewan following encouragement from her friends. However, the following day Alison wakes up with an injury to her head and she can’t remember anything about the night before or her date. The worst, though, is to come. When she looks in her mirror she doesn’t know who she is looking at.

Ali is later diagnosed with prosopagnosia, a condition which affects the ability to recognise faces. Ali’s world is turned upside down as she is no longer able to recognise her loved ones, friends or even herself. The whole concept of The Date is, quite frankly, terrifying. Having this condition would be frightening enough, but to have it happen just as you have woken up from a night out in which it appears you have been attacked, and you have no memory of it makes it doubly so. And things are about to get a lot worse for Ali.

What I really like about Jensen’s books is the way in which she takes a sensitive subject and, while making it frightening, also deals with the issue in a gentle manner. Jensen demonstrates a real emotional acuity in her writing, and she writes about Ali’s diagnosis of prosopagnosia in such a way that it is incredibly affecting and stirring. I just melted for Ali as she struggled to adjust to her diagnosis. Jensen’s depiction of a young woman dealing with this condition is realistic and heart breaking. Rather than skirting over it to concentrate on the thriller aspect, Jensen incorporates it in such a way that it adds so much more to the book.

The Date is also an incredible thriller. As the plot progresses it becomes incredibly unnerving and it plays on all our deepest fears. It becomes clear that Ali has a stalker who is going out of their way to frighten her. Jensen has weaved twists and turns that had me constantly trying to guess the identity of the perpetrator of Ali’s torment (at one point I was looking at the dog suspiciously, and I love dogs!). The Date seriously messed with my head.

Jensen has a real way with words. She manages to crank up the tension so you are constantly chewing on your lip or your fingernails as you read. Jensen also manages to make her thrillers beautiful with prose that is stunning and The Date is no exception. It feels as though every single word has been carefully chosen and yet it also feels as though it has come naturally.

Once again, Jensen has written an outstanding novel. The Date is utterly unnerving and totally tense, while at the same time sensitive and moving. An absolute must-read.

The Date is published on 21 June 2018 by Bookouture. You can get your copy here: 


About the Author

Louise Jensen is a Global No.1 Bestselling author of psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift & The Surrogate. To date Louise has sold approaching a million books and her novels have been sold for translation to nineteen territories, as well as being featured on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List. Louise was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award.

Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers and can be found at, where she regularly blogs flash fiction and writing tips.

A huge thank you to Bookouture, Louise Jensen and Kim Nash for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.



Review – Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

The Blurb

Cordelia Russell has been living on the French Riviera for twenty-five years, passing herself off as an English socialite. But her luck, and the kindness of strangers, have run out.
The arrival of a visitor from her distant past shocks Cordelia. She reacts violently to the intrusion and flees her flat to spend a drunken night at a glittering party. As dawn breaks she stumbles home through the back streets. Even before she opens her door she can hear the flies buzzing. She did not expect the corpse inside to start decomposing quite so quickly . . .

My Thoughts

‘I could probably have been an actress. It is not difficult to pretend to be somebody else. Isn’t that what I’ve been doing for most of my life?

Liz Nugent is back with her much anticipated third novel, Skin Deep. Anyone who regularly reads my reviews will know that I have had a bit of a hard time with psychological thrillers recently, but I’m pleased to say that Nugent has re-kindled my love affair with them. Skin Deep is, in true Liz Nugent style, deliciously dark.

Of course, it has that killer first line that we now expect from Nugent and the prologue drags you in as we are introduced to Cordelia Russell. Delia is beautiful but bad. And when I say bad I mean Bad with a capital B! From a small island off the coast of Ireland, to say Delia’s childhood was unconventional would be an understatement. Nugent takes us through Delia’s history in order for us to see how she has got to the position we first see her in in the prologue. Skin Deep is addictive and fascinating as we act as voyeurs through the course of Delia’s life. The saying ‘All that glisters isn’t gold’ is proved correct as we discover the dark core of Delia’s perfect exterior.

Very much a character focused thriller, Delia is despicable, her behaviour is repugnant and it makes Skin Deep oh so compelling. Always fascinated by the nature-nurture debate, it has you wondering how much of Delia’s personality is due to her upbringing? Nugent tells Delia’s story through first person narration via Delia’s perspective, but we are given glimpses of the perspectives of others as every now and again the point of view switches for a chapter which works perfectly. Delia also reflects on the stories that her father told her during her childhood all of which have a moral edge to them and the picture of Delia and her off-kilter moral code is built up perfectly. Skin Deep is the budding psychologist’s dream. Delia is utterly detestable and I loved her for that!

Nugent’s writing is fantastic as she gets you to the very core of Delia. Her portrayal of manipulation and deception is fantastic and I wonder what goes on within Nugent’s mind. The tone is heavy and dark throughout and Nugent uses words like weapons in order for them to stun and shock you. Unable to second guess what will happen next, Nugent has this amazing ability to ensure you are always taken off guard.

Nugent never lets me down and Skin Deep is yet another accomplished novel by this talented author. She has weaved another twisted tale to perfection ensuring her place at the top of my list of favourite authors. Skin Deep takes you for a walk on the darker side of life and it is delectable. An absolute must read for fans of psychological thrillers.

Skin Deep was published on 5 April 2018 by Penguin Ireland. You can get your copy HERE.

A huge thank you to Liz Nugent, Pengiun Books and Netgalley for the copy in exchange for my review.

Blog Tour – Seas Of Snow by Kerensa Jennings *Review*

I am absolutely delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Seas Of Snow by Kerensa Jennings today. About a year ago Kerensa approached me and asked if I would be able to read and review her debut novel. Unfortunately, I was unable to but offered Kerensa a guest post slot on the blog. The post she wrote had quite an impact on me, and I knew that I would have to read Seas Of Snow in the future (you can read that guest post HERE). And so, a year on, here we are!

The Blurb

1950s England. Five-year-old Gracie Scott lives with her Mam and next door to her best friend Billy. An only child, she has never known her Da. When her Uncle Joe moves in, his physical abuse of Gracie’s mother starts almost immediately. But when his attentions wander to Gracie, an even more sinister pattern of behaviour begins.

As Gracie grows older, she finds solace and liberation in books, poetry and her enduring friendship with Billy. Together they escape into the poetic fairy-tale worlds of their imaginations.

But will fairy tales be enough to save Gracie from Uncle Joe’s psychopathic behaviour – and how far will it go?

Seas of Snow is a haunting, psychological domestic drama that probes the nature and the origins of evil.

My Thoughts

‘Was evil born or made? Was innocence something we all hold in our souls, only to be blackened and turned rotten by experience?’

Seas Of Snow is the debut novel by Kerensa Jennings. After hearing so much about it from a lot of the book bloggers I hold in high esteem and featuring a great guest post on the blog by Jennings, I just had to read it for myself.

Set during the 1950s in North Shields, Seas Of Snow follows five-year-old Gracie as she progresses through her life as the only child of a single mother. As her home changes from a safe haven to place of fear and trepidation when her Uncle Joe moves in, Gracie’s escape comes from books and the games she plays with her best friend, Billy.

Seas Of Snow explores the dichotomy between good and evil and, as Gracie explores this and tries to make sense of it, Jennings raises age-old questions that we continue to try and answer. Gracie and Joe each signify what the other isn’t, with Gracie’s absolute innocence being in direct contrast to the wickedness that resides within Joe. In order to explore this, Jennings has chosen the most horrific example of ‘evil’ that is out there. A huge taboo within society and the one act guaranteed to horrify all, to explore good versus evil through paedophilia is a brave choice as it makes Seas Of Snow a difficult and, at times, distressing read.

Largely told via the point of view of Gracie, I adored her and I wanted to whisk her away from her life and make her safe. My heart broke for her every time I picked up Seas Of Snow. I loved the way she tried to make sense of her life and what was happening to her through literature. As her world becomes unsafe and the amount of safe places reduce, she firstly uses games with Billy and then literature and poetry as a means of escape. It is clear that Jennings has a great love for the written word and she manages to make beauty shine through the darkness. Literature had a huge influence on me as a teenager in making sense of the world and human nature and I wonder if this is still the case for teenagers in the 21st century? This aspect of Seas Of Snow is one of my favourite things about the book.

Sadly, Jennings portrayal of Gracie’s mother is an accurate one in her inability to be able to protect Gracie from harm. Fear and powerlessness can render a person into a frozen state and Jennings captures this. While Gracie, quite rightly, can’t understand why her mother does nothing, I understood her behaviour particularly in the context of an era in which domestic abuse viewed as a private issue and support from agencies was few and far between.

Another perspective we view the story from is that of the antagonist, Joe. Jennings’ depiction of him is chilling, uncomfortable and unnerving as she describes his predatory thought patterns and behaviour. As he uses his good looks to dupe people into trusting him, Jennings explores the fact that we are often pulled towards what we deem as attractive in our mistaken belief that attractiveness denotes goodness. Joe is likely to be the most repugnant character I come across this year as Jennings’ is unflinching in her portrayal of him.

The narrative structure of Seas Of Snow is interesting as it flits between past, present and perspective, often within the same chapter. I have to confess that at times I needed to stop and think about where I was in the book. However, I got used to this and it became less of an issue as I read.

Jennings writing style is fluid and unique in that she is not afraid to use words that are often unseen in modern novels. This gives her a style of her own and it is style that I enjoyed reading. Seas Of Snow has a beauty in the midst of the tragedy that unfolds before the reader that makes this book so compelling and difficult to turn away from. There are scenes that are, rightly so, uncomfortable and at times I felt like an utterly helpless voyeur.

A stark warning that is not the stranger you need to fear, but those you think you know and that the bright and beautiful can have the darkest core, Seas Of Snow is a book that has an intense impact which stays with you long after you have read it. Incredibly dark and yet beautiful, Jennings’ debut novel introduces us to a great new talent and I look forward to reading more from her.

Published on eBook and Hardback on 9 February 2017 and paperback on 5 April 2018 by Unbound.

Grab a copy here:

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

About Kerensa Jennings

Kerensa Jennings is a storyteller, strategist, writer, producer and professor. Kerensa’s TV work took her all over the world, covering everything from geo-politics to palaeontology, and her time as Programme Editor of Breakfast with Frost coincided with the life-changing events of 9/11. The knowledge and experience she gained in psychology by qualifying and practising as an Executive Coach has only deepened her fascination with exploring the interplay between nature and nurture and with investigating whether evil is born or made – the question at the heart of Seas of Snow. As a scholar at Oxford, her lifelong passion for poetry took flight. Kerensa lives in West London and over the last few years has developed a career in digital enterprise.

“I’ve been writing stories and poems ever since I was a little girl. Although it’s taken me a long time to get around to writing a book, I’m lucky enough to have had a long career in the media as a TV producer, writing television programmes. Most of the time viewers would have had no idea who I was, but my words have informed, educated and entertained millions over the years. I produced, directed, wrote for and worked with some of the most amazing people including Nelson Mandela, Sir David Frost (I was Programme Editor of Breakfast with Frost), Sir David Attenborough, Fiona Bruce, Sian Williams, James Nesbitt, George Alagiah and Rory Bremner. I moved away from programme making to strategy and became the BBC’s Head of Strategic Delivery where I designed and delivered strategies for the Corporation, including a significant digital strategy (BBC Make it Digital). I now run The Duke of York Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award.
I’ve always used literature, and poetry in particular, for solace and escape. I happen to think literature is probably the best self-help on the planet! You can fly into other worlds and find ways through writing to make sense of life. SEAS of SNOW draws together some of my passions and fascinations in life. While I was at university, I studied the psychoanalysis of fairy tales and got very interested in archetypes and the way characters and stories of good and evil are portrayed.
While leading the BBC News coverage of the Soham investigation, I had the opportunity to see first-hand a lot of evidence about the mind and motives of a psychopath. So in SEAS of SNOW, the protagonist Gracie uses poetry and playtime to escape the traumas and abuses of her life; the antagonist, her Uncle Joe, is a bad man, a psychopath; and there is a subtext of fairy tale underlying the page-turning scenario which hopefully makes you want to read while half covering your eyes.”


Facebook Page:

I read my own copy of Seas Of Snow and this is my honest and unbiased review. My thanks to Caroline at Bits About Books for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Be sure to catch the other stops on the tour;



Review – My Girl by Jack Jordan

The Blurb

Paige Dawson: the mother of a murdered child and wife to a dead man.
She has nothing left to live for… until she finds her husband’s handgun hidden in their house.
Why did Ryan need a gun? What did he know about their daughter’s death?
Desperate for the truth, Paige begins to unearth her husband’s secrets.
But she has no idea who she is up against, or that her life isn’t hers to gamble – she belongs to me.
From the bestselling author of Anything for Her, Jack Jordan’s My Girl is the new chilling thriller that you won’t want to miss.

My Thoughts

I had heard so many good things about Jack Jordan’s My Girl and I was excited to finally be able to get stuck into it. At around 248 pages, My Girl is a quick read and it was compelling enough for me to get through it in a few hours, which is unusual for me.

It would be an understatement to say that Paige Dawson’s life is a mess, but understandably so. Ten years ago she lost her 14 year old daughter, Chloe, and two months previously her husband took his own life. Paige’s life has spiralled completely out of control as she self-medicates with alcohol and prescription drugs. Things are, however, about to take a dramatic turn as she finds a gun and a mobile phone in her husband’s desk drawer. And so begins Paige’s quest to find out the truth about her daughter and husband.

My initial impression was that I was not going to settle into My Girl and I found myself wondering if I had been taken in by the hype. Very quickly though Jordan completely threw me off course and pulled an absolute blinder that had the simultaneous effect of taking me totally by surprise and making me feel quite nauseous. As it became apparent that Jordan was not afraid to fully address the seamier side of life and thrust it into your face with no holds barred, I began to get a glimpse of the reason behind the hype.

The character of Paige Dawson is well developed and Jordan has ensured that her substance and alcohol misuse are realistically portrayed. He manages to accurately portray the all-encompassing nature of addiction and has clearly taken time to research this issue. Paige is not a particularly likeable character but you cannot help but be empathetic towards her. I switched between wanting to hug her and give her good shake!

My Girl is split into three parts with the initial and final part concentrating on Paige’s perspective and narrated in the third person. The middle part of the book is narrated in first person by … you will have to read it yourself to find out! I always enjoy a shift in perspective in a novel and Jordan pulls it off well and it certainly adds to the story.

I was taken in a totally different direction to the one I thought I was heading in with My Girl, and Jordan certainly knows how to put a twist in the tale. I did feel that there were a few loose ends left dangling which I would have liked to see tied up, and I think there was scope to make My Girl a longer novel to address these.

My Girl is gritty, gripping and unflinching in its storyline as Jordan touches on some uncomfortable and chilling issues. Jordan can clearly tell a cracking a tale and, this being his second novel, as his writing style develops I have no doubt he will become a formidable force in the crime/thriller genre.

My Girl was published in paperback on 3rd July 2016 by CreateSpace and on ebook on 1 June 2017 by Corvus. Grab your copy HERE.

I reviewed my own copy of My Girl and this is my honest and unbiased review.






Blog Tour – End Game by Matt Johnson *Review*

I’m delighted but a little bit sad to be taking part in the blog tour for End Game by Matt Johnson today. Why am I sad? Because this book signals the end of the Robert Finlay series. I am very excited, however, to see where Matt Johnson takes us next. Anyway, here is the all-important blurb and then my thoughts on End Game.

The Blurb

Robert Finlay seems to have finally left his SAS past behind him and is settled into his new career as a detective. But when the girlfriend of his former SAS colleague and close friend Kevin Jones is murdered, it’s clear that Finlay’s troubles are far from over. Jones is arrested for the killing, but soon escapes from jail, and Finlay is held responsible for the breakout. Suspended from duty and sure he’s being framed too, our hero teams up with MI5 agent Toni Fellowes to find out who’s behind the conspiracy. Their quest soon reveals a plot that goes to the very heart of the UK’s security services. End Game, the final part in the critically acclaimed Robert Finlay trilogy, sees our hero in an intricately plotted and terrifyingly fast-paced race to uncover the truth and escape those who’d sooner have him dead than be exposed.

My Thoughts

I’m sad to say that End Game is the conclusion to the Robert Finlay trilogy and he is a character who will be missed. However, Matt Johnson has brought the trilogy to a fantastic end and this instalment will not disappoint the fans of his previous two books.

Johnson has a great talent for creating fast-paced books while managing to maintain plot intricacies that come together perfectly at the end and End Game displays this talent to perfection. When close friend Kevin Jones’s girlfriend is murdered and he is subsequently arrested for the killing, it appears that he and Finlay have been framed. Teaming up with MI5 agent, Toni Fellowes, to get to the truth results in his life being thrust into danger and the uncovering of a plot that goes far deeper than he thought.

I have a great affection for Robert Finlay and Johnson has created an authentic character who you automatically root for. Finlay’s issues and his empathy toward fellow ex-soldiers comes across as genuine and it is clear that Johnson has called on his own experiences in creating him. I’m quite upset that we won’t be seeing him again but I feel satisfied at the conclusion.

End Game starts with a bang and this sets the tone for the rest of the book. As the tension increases with each page turn, End Game immediately grabs your attention and doesn’t let it go until the end. You will find yourself thinking about it during the time you have to spend away from reading it.

Johnson has written a trilogy of books that are intelligent and thoughtful and yet nothing is taken from the thrills and terror that End Game provides. I think I said in my review for Deadly Game that Johnson’s books would make great films and he has confirmed this for me with the final book. So, come on film companies, snap them up and let’s see Robert Finlay on the big screen!

While I’m sad that End Game is, indeed, the end game, I feel satisfied by the conclusion. This is a great series of books and while you could read End Game as a standalone, I highly recommend that you read the first two books as well. It delivered on everything I expected from Matt Johnson in terms of great characters and plot and once again I was totally hooked from the outset. Another great read.

Published on eBook on 6 February 2018 and paperback on 31 March 2018 by Orenda Books. Grab your copy HERE.

My thanks go to Matt Johnson, Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books and Anne Cater at Random Things Blog Tours for my advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the tour. Be sure to catch the rest of the tour…


Review – The Hoarder by Jess Kidd

The Blurb

Maud Drennan – underpaid carer and unintentional psychic – is the latest in a long line of dogsbodies for the ancient, belligerent Cathal Flood. Yet despite her best efforts, Maud is drawn into the mysteries concealed in his filthy, once-grand home. She realises that something is changing: Cathal, and the junk-filled rooms, are opening up to her.
With only her agoraphobic landlady and a troop of sarcastic ghostly saints to help, Maud must uncover what lies beneath Cathal’s decades-old hostility, and the strange activities of the house itself. And if someone has hidden a secret there, how far will they go to ensure it remains buried?

My Thoughts

The Hoarder is the second novel by Jess Kidd and it had a lot to live up to as I completely fell in love with Kidd’s debut novel, Himself. Kidd has certainly proved herself as an author we can expect great things from as The Hoarder is wonderful.

Maud Drennan is a home carer who has been assigned the difficult Cathal Flood as her client. His once-grand home, Bridlemere, is stuffed to the rafters with junk and as Maud attempts to clear some of it she finds herself embroiled in a mystery.

The characters who make up The Hoarder are brimming with personality. Cathal Flood, despite being a grumpy so-and-so, has a charm that ensured I adored him and wanted a positive outcome for him. Another favourite character is Maud’s agoraphobic landlady and neighbour Renata. Kidd’s skill at developing offbeat characters who get straight to your heart is second to none. The peripheral characters of the saints who ‘haunt’ Maud are a welcome addition, serving to add a sardonic humour with their sarcastic observations. You will never think of St Valentine in the same way again!

This quirkiness is one of the things that sets Kidd’s books apart from anything else you are likely to read. While The Hoarder is at heart a mystery, it is quite unlike any other. It has all the elements needed to make it a gripping mystery but also biting Irish humour and observations and a supernatural twist. It is like a modern day gothic novel with unearthly going-ons in a house that willingly gives up its secrets to Maud.

The prose throughout The Hoarder is beautiful. Kidd certainly has a way with words and her descriptions are stunning, ensuring that The Hoarder is literally brimming with atmosphere. All of the senses are used to build an evocative picture.

A first-rate follow up to her debut novel, The Hoarder was everything I expected from Jess Kidd. If you haven’t yet read anything by this author ensure you do now! The Hoarder is exquisite, sublimely written and a great story.

The Hoarder is published on 1st February 2018 by Canongate Books. You can pre-order a copy HERE.

A huge thank you to Jess Kidd, Sue at Conville and Walsh and Canongate Books for the advance copy of The Hoarder in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Review – My Sweet Friend by H A Leuschel

The Blurb

A stand-alone novella from the author of Manipulated Lives

A perfect friend … or a perfect impostor?

Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack. She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships.

But is Alexa all she claims to be?

As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted?

n this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.

My Thoughts

I looked forward to reading Leuschel’s follow up to her collection of short stories, Manipulated Lives, to see where she would take us next. My Sweet Friend is a novella which, again, has the theme of manipulation at its heart.

I’m guessing that the majority of us have, at some point, had one of those toxic friends. You know the kind – the friend who has to go one better than you, is jealous of you and yet you fail to see it to begin with. My Sweet Friend is about one of those friendships and centres around Alexa and Rosie. Leuschel tells the story via the points of view of the two main characters, so it alternates between Alexa and Rosie. After meeting at work, Alexa and Rosie quickly become firm friends, spending a lot of time together. But is Alexa the person she leads people to think she is?

Leuschel has managed to pack a lot into a short book and My Sweet Friend, while a quick read, still manages to provide enough background to ensure the reader gets the full picture. As Rosie reflects on her friendship with the enigmatic Alexa, we see how their friendship develops and how she arrives at the point in which she begins to doubt her friend. From Alexa’s point of view, we see her absolute belief in herself and her actions, not doubting for one minute that she could be in the wrong. This creates a kind of claustrophobic effect as we wonder how and if Rosie will be able to extract herself from the friendship without too much in the way of consequences and damage.

My Sweet Friend again demonstrates Leuschel’s interest and knowledge of the human psyche and behaviour. This adds an element to Leuschel’s work that is guaranteed to get you thinking and mulling over what you have read. She accurately portrays the way we judge people from the moment we set eyes on them despite our best intentions not to and the way in which certain people cultivate an image in order to manipulate and ensure they get what they want. In a world in which people can present themselves as whatever they want on online, it was nice to see this explored in ‘real’ life without anyone resorting to hiding behind a computer screen.

My Sweet Friend is a great exploration of damaging relationships and the lengths that some people will go to in order to get what they want. I really hope that Leuschel follows up My Sweet Friend with a full-length novel as I believe she has the insight and talent to write a dark and disturbing book. My Sweet Friend is a great read for anyone who is intrigued by the less salubrious side of human nature.

Published on 6 December 2017 by Helen Leuschel Publishing. Want a copy? Grab one HERE.

My thanks go to H A Leuschel for the copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Want to know more? Check out my review of Manipulated Lives HERE and read about H A Leuschel’s Author Influences HERE.

Review – Dilly the Camper & The Magic Fairy Garden by Dolores Keaveney

The Blurb

When Grandad John gets a broken down camper from his friend Digger, he doesn’t realise the magic that lies within it. Only his grandchildren know.
An adventure to find the Eternal Eye quartz crystal which has been stolen by the fierce Nogard from the Magic Fairy Garden promises a meeting with magic fairies, amazing animals, and much more…
This book is written by Dolores Keaveney and her grandchildren who contributed with names and descriptions of all the animals and fairies, some of the happenings, and the song. It is fully illustrated throughout by her grandchildren.

My Thoughts

This lovely little book is the work of Dolores Keaveney and her grandchildren. While Keaveney outlined the plot, her grandchildren provided the magic by coming up with the magical creatures and by helping out to illustrate the book.

Dilly the Camper & The Magic Fairy Garden is the tale of a neglected campervan that is brought back to life by John. His grandchildren help in the vans restoration and soon discover that there is more to Dilly than meets the eye. They encounter a fairy who need their help to find the stolen Eternal Eye quartz from the Magic Fairy Garden.

Aimed at 4 to 9 year olds, it is a great book to read with a child and for the older child to learn to read from.

Full of the wonder of magic with fairies, magical creatures and wishes and wonderfully vibrant illustrations, Dilly the Camper is sure to delight most children, male or female. Like all good fairy stories, it has its share of scary moments which will give children a thrill while not being too frightening. The premise of good triumphing over bad, cooperation and friendship are timeless themes within the book that children always enjoy.

I adored the fact that this has been written in conjunction with the author’s own grandchildren and the pictures throughout the book were drawn by her grandchildren. This gives the book that ‘special’ feel and will, I think, make it even more relatable to children and fire off young imaginations.

A delightful, colourful read for children that provides thrills along the way.

Published on 9 July 2017 by DBee Press. You can grab a copy HERE.

A huge thank you to Dolores Keaveney for my copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.