The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz [review]

The Sentence is Death

Title: The Sentence is Death
Author: Anthony Horowitz
Series: Hawthorne
Publisher: Cornerstone

[Synopsis]

‘You shouldn’t be here. It’s too late… 

These, heard over the phone, were the last recorded words of successful celebrity-divorce lawyer Richard Pryce, found bludgeoned to death in his bachelor pad with a bottle of wine – a 1982 Chateau Lafite worth £3,000, to be precise.

Odd, considering he didn’t drink. Why this bottle? And why those words? And why was a three-digit number painted on the wall by the killer? And, most importantly, which of the man’s many, many enemies did the deed?

Baffled, the police are forced to bring in Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne and his sidekick, the author Anthony, who’s really getting rather good at this murder investigation business.

But as Hawthorne takes on the case with characteristic relish, it becomes clear that he, too, has secrets to hide. As our reluctant narrator becomes ever more embroiled in the case, he realises that these secrets must be exposed – even at the risk of death…

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[My Review]

The Sentence is Death is another brilliant novel from one of my favourite authors, Anthony Horowitz. I particularly enjoy this series as it’s definitely different from most other ‘crime’ novels; I love the self-aware style of writing. Anthony Horowitz writes as himself, having been employed to write three books about ex-Detective Hawthorne. This is the second – the first one being The Word is Murder, another great novel [read my review here] – and throughout Anthonoy includes references to his life as a writer, his family and much more. It really feels like you’re reading a story that’s really happened, and I love the way Horowitz vents his frustration with people and the book industry in general through The Sentence is Death‘s pages (I loved the part where it’s suggested he should “write a Bond next”, to which Horowitz admits it’s something “I’d wanted to do all my life” – and, of course, he has now written Forever and a Day!)

Both ‘characters’ of Hawthorne and Horowitz are brilliant, though Hawthorne is, at times, deeply flawed and an unlikable character – there are MANY things about him I dislike, and yet I can’t help but want to read more about him because the story is told through Anthony Horowitz’s humorous, entertaining voice.

The plot is just as enjoyable as The Word is Murder, and though there are some (I feel) obvious parts that I did sort of see coming, there were also some really clever surprises as the story went on.

This novel is satisfyingly self-aware, really clever and definitely entertaining – I loved every page. I’m already looking forward to book no.3!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Cornerstone for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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This Old Gal’s Pressure Cooker Cookbook [review]

This Old Gal's Pressure Cooker Cookbook

Title: This Old Gal’s Pressure Cooker Cookbook
Author: Jill Selkowitz
Publisher: Quarto Publishing

[Synopsis]

Whether you are new to the electric pressure cooker or are looking to get more out of yours, this is your go-to reference for perfectly pressure-cooked and delicious food.

Incorporate from-scratch cooking into your busy life with 120 recipes that include all the traditional favorites, plus a range of international dishes—and the best cheesecake recipe you will ever taste!

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[My Review]

For anyone with an Instant Pot (or any other brand pressure cooker), this is a great recipe book to inspire and instruct you to create some brilliant meals.

I love the variety of cuisines this book covers – there’s recipes from so many countries including Greek, Indian, Italian, Vietnamese, Thai and many others! The instructions are clear, the photos are inspiring and there are some handy notes to accompany the recipes which I imagine would be useful whether you barely use your pressure cooker or you’re a seasoned pro.

As is usual for a pressure cooker cookbook, a lot of these recipes are meat-based (as with meat the pressure cooker really comes into its own), so if you do eat a lot of meat this book will be right up your street! If you’re veggie or vegan you’ll be a lot more restricted, of course, but there are still some tasty recipes you can try out from this book and I found some I’ll definitely be giving a go soon. There are also some surprising recipes, such as desserts that I never imagined you could cook in a pressure cooker!

I’m really impressed with this book, it definitely makes pressure cooking seem clearer, and think it would be an excellent gift to yourself or others!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Quarto Publishing for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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The Night She Died [review]

The Night She Died

Title: The Night She Died
Author: Jenny Blackhurst
Publisher: Headline

[Synopsis]

On her own wedding night, beautiful and complicated Evie White leaps off a cliff to her death.

What drove her to commit this terrible act? It’s left to her best friend and her husband to unravel the sinister mystery.

Following a twisted trail of clues leading to Evie’s darkest secrets, they begin to realize they never knew the real Evie at all.

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[My Review]

The Night She Died kept me guessing from the first to last page. Filled with mystery and memories, and opening with a real shocker of a scene (a bride jumps to her death on her wedding day, and her best friend seems to know much more about it than she’s letting on), I found myself completely hooked.

Now, there are some parts in this story where you may have to suspend your disblief for a little, but it’s an entertaining, intriguing read so I think it’s well worth it. The present-day story is mainly told from Rebecca’s perspective, who is dealing with the aftermath of Evie’s death and trying to comfort her husband Richard, but there are also a lot of flashbacks to Evie’s childhood and teenage years which slow unwrap the lead up to the wedding-day drama. I loved the sense of unease within its pages that come from not knowing who’s telling the whole truth, and there’s plenty of betrayal which makes for interesting reading, all the way through to the satisfying ending.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Headline for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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The Importance of Being Aisling [review]

The Importance of Being Aisling

Title: The Importance of Being Aisling
Authors: Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen
Series: OMGWACA
Publisher: Penguin

[Synopsis]

You can take the small-town girl out of the big city – but can you take the big city out of the girl?

Job. Flat. Boyfriend. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Aisling (seems) to be winning at life. But life has other ideas.

Fired. Homeless. Dumped. Tick. Tick. Tick.

When everything comes crashing down around her, moving back in with her mam seems like a disaster.

But might returning to her roots provide the answers Aisling’s looking for?

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[My Review]

The Importance of Being Aisling is a welcome return to the world of Aisling and friends, as she deals with some significant life changes and plenty of other challenges thrown at her. I don’t want to give too much away, but there are some hilarious moments (as always with Aisling) and some slightly more emotional parts than the last book, as well.

I love Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen’s writing in this series; the characters are just brilliant (and if you have Irish family, friends or similar, I’ve no doubt that you’d find it even more entertaining, as I’m sure many of the references would resonate more with you) and the storyline is entertaining, fun and at times very comical. Some parts are silly but it’s great fun to read, and Aisling is a brilliantly entertaining character and one I’d happily read more about, so here’s hoping there’s many more books to come in this series!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Penguin for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

The Importance of Being Aisling is out in ebook format now.

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Perfect Ten by Jacqueline Ward [review] @JacquiAnnC ‏

Perfect Ten

Title: Perfect Ten
Author: Jacqueline Ward
Publisher: Corvus Atlantic

[Synopsis]

An explosive debut thriller about one woman’s search for revenge – and the dangerous chain of events she sets in motion…

Caroline Atkinson is powerless and angry. She has lost more than most – her marriage, her reputation, even her children. Then one day, she receives an unusual delivery: lost luggage belonging to the very man who is responsible, her estranged husband Jack.

In a leather holdall, Caroline unearths a dark secret, one that finally confirms her worst suspicions. Jack has kept a detailed diary of all his affairs; every name, every meeting, every lie is recorded. He even marks the women out of ten.

Caroline decides it’s time to even the score. She will make this man pay, even if it means risking everything…

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[My Review]

Perfect Ten is a brilliant read packed full of betrayal, rage and good old fashioned revenge. I thought it was a lot of fun and I found myself staying up until the early hours, wanting to finish it.

Main character Caroline is definitely not the most level-headed woman you’ll ever meet – but the more I read about what she’d been through with husband Jack, the more I understood why she felt the anger that she did, and by a quarter of the way in I’d have happily punched Jack in the face myself! Jacqueline Ward has created some truly powerful characters in Perfect Ten, in that they really provoked feelings in me – whether positive or negative – and made me root for Caroline. She was definitely unhinged and definitely extreme but I loved reading about her and was behind her all the way – I was definitely #TeamCaro!

This isn’t all thriller, it has plenty of emotions wrapped up inside it as well, and I like that this novel is a mix of genres – women’s fiction and thriller being two of them! It’s firmly rooted in the 21st century with a lot of Caroline’s revenge centering around Facebook and technology, but this doesn’t cheapen the story like it has with other books I’ve read – it simply made me picture myself in Caroline’s position today and helped me identify even more with her.

Perfect Ten is a lot of fun and addictive reading. Clear a few hours in your diary and enjoy!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Readers First for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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The Stranger Diaries - Elly Griffiths

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths [review]

The Stranger Diaries - Elly Griffiths

Title: The Stranger Diaries
Author: Elly Griffiths
Publisher: Quercus

[Synopsis]

A gripping contemporary Gothic thriller from the bestselling author of the Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries: Wilkie Collins and MR James meet Gone Girl and Disclaimer.

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer RM Holland, she teaches a short course on it every year. Then Clare’s life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an RM Holland story by her body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer’s works somehow hold the key to the case.

Not knowing who to trust, and afraid that the killer is someone she knows, Clare confides her darkest suspicions and fears about the case to her journal. Then one day she notices some other writing in the diary. Writing that isn’t hers…

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[My Review]

I am a big Elly Griffiths fan, and love her Ruth Galloway series, so I was intrigued to try a book with different characters in it. The Stranger Diaries definitely feels like a different read, but it was just as entertaining and absorbing as her other novels, and the characters – which Elly Griffiths is always so great at shaping – read like real people I could, on the whole, imagine actually existing.

The plot is interesting and kept me intrigued; at some points it required some suspension of disbelief (definitely less believable than her Ruth Galloway series – sorry to keep comparing but, hey, I love those books) but it is a fun and engaging story, and has some enjoyable twists and turns. I have to say that Harbinder, the DS, shone in this novel – she’s very confident, knows her own mind and rubs people up the wrong way, but she’s a unique and interesting character who added something fresh to the story. I did like Clare but felt at times she was a little annoying/ snobby – I really couldn’t identify with some of her opinions – however Georgie, though a predictably stuck up/ whiny teenager some of the time, seemed likeable and overall a sweet girl.

This is a well-written story and a good start to a new series, if that is what it will become (I’d read more of DS Kaur for sure) but it doesn’t quite measure up to the brilliance of Elly Griffith’s Ruth Galloway series. Well worth a read, though.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Quercus for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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Absolute Proof by Peter James [review]

Absolute Proof

Title: Absolute Proof
Author: Peter James
Publisher: Macmillan

[Synopsis]

Investigative reporter Ross Hunter nearly didn’t answer the phone call that would change his life – and possibly the world – for ever.

“I’d just like to assure you I’m not a nutcase, Mr Hunter. My name is Dr Harry F. Cook. I know this is going to sound strange, but I’ve recently been given absolute proof of God’s existence – and I’ve been advised there is a writer, a respected journalist called Ross Hunter, who could help me to get taken seriously.”

What would it take to prove the existence of God? And what would be the consequences?

The false faith of a billionaire evangelist, the life’s work of a famous atheist, and the credibility of each of the world’s major religions are all under threat. If Ross Hunter can survive long enough to present the evidence…

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[My Review]

Absolute Proof is a cleverly woven story combining religion and the idea of whether the book’s title – ‘absolute proof’ – actually exists, with plenty of action, suspense and conspiracy. This is a standalone story, so a change from the DS Roy Grace novels, centering around journalist Ross Hunter, who has worked on many high-profile cases. He’s contacted by someone claiming to have been given absolute proof of God’s existance – but the evidence won’t fall into his lap, he’s got to do some serious digging and take some serious risks to get what will be the biggest story of all time.

The novel has an interesting array of characters – I have to say, I don’t know if I really like Ross Hunter. He seems to put work before everything else, including the safety of his wife and unborn child, which is good for the plot but not so much for his family! Then again, his wife isn’t the most likable either, and some of the people Ross encounters on his ‘mission’ seem like absolute crackpots! It makes for interesting reading, and I loved thinking about how this proof could afect so many people, in so many ways. It’s fascinating to consider the implications on other religions, to science, to politics… everything, and this novel really makes you think about all that.

There’s plenty of action and points where you definitely have to suspend your disbelief, but it’s a really enjoyable read. It’s a fairly long novel so really settle in and lose yourself in this fun, really entertaining read.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Macmillan for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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The Cactus by Sarah Haywood [review]

The Cactus

Title: The Cactus
Author: Sarah Haywood
Publisher: John Murray Press

[Synopsis]

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO BLOOM

People aren’t sure what to make of Susan Green—a prickly independent woman, who has everything just the way she wants it and who certainly has no need for messy emotional relationships.

Family and colleagues find her standoffish and hard to understand, but Susan makes perfect sense to herself, and that’s all she needs.

At forty-five, she thinks her life is perfect, as long as she avoids her feckless brother, Edward—a safe distance away in Birmingham. She has a London flat which is ideal for one; a job that suits her passion for logic; and a personal arrangement providing cultural and other, more intimate, benefits.

Yet suddenly faced with the loss of her mother and, implausibly, with the possibility of becoming a mother herself, Susan’s greatest fear is being realised: she is losing control.

When she discovers that her mother’s will inexplicably favours her brother, Susan sets out to prove that Edward and his equally feckless friend Rob somehow coerced this dubious outcome. But when problems closer to home become increasingly hard to ignore, she finds help in the most unlikely of places.

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[My Review]

The Catus is a brilliant read, following main character Susan who is so interesting to read about. She is a very independent, confident person who has firm beliefs and a fairly unique way of interacting with other people. We see,  throughout this novel, some of the reasons for the way she behaves around people, and although at first I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to spend a significant amount of time with her, by the end of the book I could really appreciate what a quirky, interesting character she is. What you see is what you get with Susan; she’s unapologetically stuck in her ways and will change for no-one (or so it seems), and I loved that about her!

The story follows Susan as she deals with the discovery that, at 45 and having never wanted children, she is pregnant. This comes soon after the death of her mother, and some tricky news regarding the will, and is generally a time when life seems to be testing her a little…

The story that follows is heartwarming, a little sad at times, but most definitely a wonderful read. Sarah Haywood has moulded some brilliant characters, from Susan herself and her lovely neighbour Kate, to her (extremely unlikable, but very interesting) brother Edward and his brilliantly unique friend Rob – I loved reading about them all! They seemed to jump off the pages at me and I only wish this novel had been longer, because I could happily have read twice, three times as many pages.

Oddly enough, Susan refers to her mother as ‘mom’ instead of the more commonly-used (in England) ‘mum’ – not sure if that’s another quirk of Susan’s but it did make me check whether the author is from (she is British) and in doing this I saw Sarah’s Goodreads Author page that she is actually writing a second novel at the moment – yay! I’ll be first in the queue.

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to John Murray Press for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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The Ash Doll by James Hazel [review]

The Ash Doll - James Hazel

Title: The Ash Doll
Author: James Hazel
Series: Charlie Priest #2
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre

[Synopsis]

The past had been buried. But now someone has remembered . . .

Prolific lawyer Charlie Priest has bet his career on one case, but when his star witness turns up brutally murdered on the first morning of the trial, things start to fall apart.

Priest knows there’s a vicious killer out there, but as the bodies begin to pile up, he soon realises that he’s caught in a web of corruption that protects a deadly secret: one that threatens to tear him and those he cares about apart. And Priest has demons of his own to battle, suffering from dissociative disorder, a condition so destructive that it leaves him questioning the truth of his own existence.

Can Priest uncover the truth before it’s too late?

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[My Review]

Having really enjoyed The Mayfly [see my review here], I was looking forward to being thrown back into the dark (and, at times, rather bizarre) world of lawyer Charlie Priest and his colleague Georgie Someday. The characters are what makes this novel so enjoyable; the subject matter in this novel is a lot darker, and at times was quite difficult to read, but both Charlie and Georgie are great to read about and made me want to keep reading on. The fact that they’re not detectives or part of the police, but instead lawyers, allows them to break the rules sometimes in ways that the police can’t, and this adds to the fun.

The plot has twists and turns, and requires some concentration to keep track of what exactly is going on, whilst there’s a definitely sense of unease and the unknown which created a pretty unsettling atmosphere, which (though it sounds weird) I did enjoy!

I didn’t find this quite as much of an addictive read as The Mayfly but it’s still a great read.

[Rating: 3.5/5]

Many thanks to Bonnier Zaffre for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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Blog Tour [Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner] @ronnie__turner

Lies Between Us

Today I am SO excited to share my review of Ronnie Turner’s debut novel, Lies Between Us! She’s a fellow book blogger which makes this even more exciting and she’s created an addictive read… read on to find out what (else) I thought!

Lies Between Us_banner

Title: Lies Between Us
Author: Ronnie Turner
Publisher: HQ Digital

[Synopsis]

The past is always watching…

Three people, leading very different lives, are about to be brought together – with devastating consequences…

John has a perfect life, until the day his daughter goes missing.

Maisie cares for her patients, but hides her own traumatic past.

Miller should be an innocent child, but is obsessed with something he can’t have.

They all have something in common, though none of them know it – and the truth won’t stay hidden for long…

[My Review]

Lies Between Us is a tangled, in intriguing web of characters, emotions and secrets… nothing is quite as it seems in this enjoyable and complex plot which kept me turning page after page late into the night!

I am so impressed by Ronnie’s writing – it manages to convey the desperation, the sadness, and the terrifying traits of various characters. I love the array of diverse characters and their problems, and the way they all slowly link together as times go on. I have to admit thatt times, I got a little confused between who is who and what their role is – if you want something simple and straightforward, look elsewhere until you’re ready for a twisty, complex novel like this! I found myself having to go back a few times to re-read sections that I hadn’t quite taken in, and try to work out who featured in that part, but nevertheless I enjoyed trying to unpick what was happening, and I loved seeing it all slowly come together in a satisfying ending.

I finished this novel with my mind still racing – like some of the the best stories, Lies Between Us will grab you firmly in its grasp and won’t let you go until that very last page… and perhaps not even then! An entertaining, dark read which I’d never guess is a debut novel.

[Rating: 4.5/5]

Many thanks to Ronnie and HQ Digital for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

[About the Author]

Author Photo 2Ronnie Turner grew up in Cornwall, the youngest in a large family. At an early age, she discovered a love of literature and dreamed of being a published author. Ronnie now lives in Dorset with her family and three dogs. In her spare time, she reviews books on her blog and enjoys long walks on the coast. She is currently working on her second novel.
Ronnie’s debut novel, Lies Between Us, will be published by HQ Digital in October 2018. Buy on: AmazonItunes / Kobo.

Visit Ronnie’s website or follow her on Twitter: @ronnie__turner / Facebook: @RonnieTurnerAuthor / Instagram: @ronnieturner8702


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