The Craft Room by @daveholwill [blog tour review] @rararesources

NewCraftRoom

Today I’m on the blog tour for The Craft Room by Dave Holwill with a review!

Title: The Craft Room
Author: Dave Holwill

[Synopsis]

Sylvia Blackwell is tired. Her grandchildren are being kept away from her, and the expected inheritance that might finally get her middle-aged son to move out has failed to materialise – thanks to her mother’s cat. It is becoming increasingly difficult to remain composed. On a romantic clifftop walk for her 47th Wedding Anniversary, an unexpected opportunity leads to a momentous decision that will irretrievably change the course of her life.

The Craft Room is a darkly comic tale of sex, crepe paper, murder and knitting in a sleepy Devon town, with a ‘truly original’ premise and genuinely jaw-dropping moments. What would you do if unexpectedly freed from bondage you never knew you were in? How would your children cope? How far would you go to protect them from an uncomfortable truth?

You can only push a grandmother so far…

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[My Review]

The Craft Room is funny, twisted and a really great read! It’s packed with entertaining characters (Sylvia is such fun to read about!) and ridiculous-but-amusing occurances.

The plot is perfect for when you just fancy something light hearted but at the same time pretty dark and twisted… it’s definitely packed with black humour and Dave Holwill threads some satisfyingly subtle, surprising moments into this wacky story.

In many ways it couldn’t be more normal – Sylvia is a grandmother whose life has become dull and uninspiring with her irritating husband and dependent adult son, and often she fantasises about what life would be like if she was free of the shackles of her husband. Until one day it all comes within her grasp… cue plenty of ”accidental deaths”, havoc and naughtiness, all delivered to the reader in a comical and unpredictable package! Definitely recommended.

I received a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

Buy The Craft Room on Amazon here.

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[About the Author]

AuthorHeadShot

Dave Holwill was born in Guildford in 1977 and quickly decided that he preferred the Westcountry – moving to Devon in 1983 (with some input from his parents).
After an expensive (and possibly wasted) education there, he has worked variously as a postman, a framer, and a print department manager (though if you are the only person in the department then can you really be called a manager?) all whilst continuing to play in every kind of band imaginable on most instruments you can think of.

His debut novel, Weekend Rockstars, was published in August 2016 to favourable reviews and his second The Craft Room (a very dark comedy concerning death through misadventure) came out in August 2017. He is currently in editing hell with the third.

Follow Dave on social media:
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Twitter 
Goodreads 
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[The Blog Tour]

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The Mystery of Three Quarters [review]

The Mystery of the Three Quarters

Title: The Mystery of Three Quarters
Author: Sophie Hannah
Publisher: HarperCollins UK

[Synopsis]

The world’s most beloved detective, Hercule Poirot – the legendary star of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and most recently The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket—returns in a stylish, diabolically clever mystery set in 1930’s London.

Returning home after lunch one day, Hercule Poirot finds an angry woman waiting outside his front door. She demands to know why Poirot has sent her a letter accusing her of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, a man she has neither heard of nor ever met.

Poirot has also never heard of a Barnabas Pandy, and has accused nobody of murder. Shaken, he goes inside, only to find that he has a visitor waiting for him — a man who also claims also to have received a letter from Poirot that morning, accusing him of the murder of Barnabas Pandy…

Poirot wonders how many more letters of this sort have been sent in his name. Who sent them, and why? More importantly, who is Barnabas Pandy, is he dead, and, if so, was he murdered? And can Poirot find out the answers without putting more lives in danger?

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[My Review]

I eagerly await any new releases from Sophie Hannah, whatever series they may be, and her Hercule Poirot books are no different. This new offering feels very Christie-like, with its setting in the countryside, centred around the death of Barnabas Pandy, who drowned in the bath – but was it an accident, or in fact murder?

Poirot feels, to me, close to the original character in Agatha Christie’s novels – he’s entertaining, odd at times, and as excellent at sleuthing as ever – but with Sophie Hannah’s own excellent twist. The story is clever and intriguing (though you need to pay attention properly at the start, as there are lots of different characters and names across multiple families who are related in different ways). I’d definitely recommend this for anyone missing the original series – it doesn’t feel like a direct fit, as Sophie Hannah has injected her own style into these Poirot novels, but it strikes the perfect balance between intrigue and light-hearted entertainment, as Christie always did so well. Highly recommended!


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

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All The Hidden Truths [review]

All The Hidden Truths

Title: All The Hidden Truths
Author: Claire Askew
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton UK

[Synopsis]

This is a fact: Ryan Summers walked into Three Rivers College and killed thirteen women, then himself.

But no one can say why.

The question is one that cries out to be answered – by Ryan’s mother, Moira; by Ishbel, the mother of Abigail, the first victim; and by DI Helen Birch, put in charge of the case on her first day at her new job. But as the tabloids and the media swarm, as the families’ secrets come out, as the world searches for someone to blame… the truth seems to vanish.

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[My Review]

All The Hidden Truths is a stunning, emotional read which addresses some very difficult themes with sensitivity and realism. Although classed as a crime novel, this novel feels more like a portrait of the feelings and effects of such a horrible crime – a college shooting – on a community, and the way it’s dealt with by police, families of the victim and, most powerfully for me anyway, the family of the killer. There are still elements of your ‘typical’ crime novel, such as a police investigation and a narrative from the perspective of the detective, but because we know almost right from the start who is to blame, and that person is dead, it’s not about who did it but why and what happens afterwards. Without the ‘whodunnit’ element that I’m usually so interested in, I wondered if I’d be as engrossed – I definitely was! I raced through this novel and couldn’t put it down.

There’s so much grief and heartbreak within these pages, and I really felt for the people living through it; Claire Askew makes you really consider what this situation must be like for everyone. Some of the characters are truly horrible people (and it’s obvious who falls into this category once you start reading) but, for the most part, the people in this novel feel real, each with their own problems and flaws, and it really highlights the way that everyone deals with terrible situations differently. Askew’s portrayal of Moira, the mother of the gunsman Ryan, was incredibly powerful to read as she battled with her guilt at not having seen it all coming, as was Ishbel’s struggles to come to terms with the death of her daughter and the breakdown of her marriage. I also really liked DI Helen Birch, and hope to see more of her in the future – fingers crossed for a second book featuring Helen!

Claire Askew beautifully weaves together various stories and experiences, all around one central storyline – that of the college shooting – and creates a truly heart-breaking, gripping read.

[Rating: 5/5]


Many thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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In The Dark [review]

In The Dark

Title: In The Dark
Author: Cara Hunter
Series: DI Adam Fawley
Publisher: Viking

[Synopsis]

A woman and child are found locked in a basement room, barely alive…

No one knows who they are – the woman can’t speak, and there are no missing persons reports that match their profile. And the elderly man who owns the house claims he has never seen them before.

The inhabitants of the quiet Oxford street are in shock – how could this happen right under their noses? But DI Adam Fawley knows that nothing is impossible.

And that no one is as innocent as they seem…

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[My Review]

I loved the first in this series, Close To Home, so had high hopes for the second, In The Dark – and it certainly didn’t let me down!

What started out as a powerful and well-written series has only been reinforced with In The Dark – this novel builds on some great characters and offers up an exciting, complex-but-not-too-complex plot. It’s bloody brilliant!

Firstly, as I mentioned, the characters are just great. I enjoyed reading more about Fawley, Quinn, Somer – everyone! There are some flawed characters, including less-than-perfect police officers, so they felt like real people. I really felt for Adam Fawley at times, and am glad we get to see a good portion of the book through his own eyes.

The plot completely sucked me in and kept me intrigued at just the right pace. There’s mystery, character-building, and tension in spades, and some truly messed up occurences!

With plenty of twists peppered into a plot that slowly reveals more and more, this is addictive reading and bound to be high on the list for any seasoned (or new) crime fan. Give it a go (but if you haven’t read Close To Home, I say start there and relish having not one but two novels in this series to read!)

[Rating: 5/5]

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

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Death in Dulwich [blog tour review]


Death in Dulwich

Today I’m reviewing the first in the London Murder Mysteries series, Death in Dulwich! Read on to find out more and see what I thought…


Title: Death in Dulwich
Author: Alice Castle
Series: The London Murder Mysteries series

[Synopsis]

Thirty-something single mum Beth Haldane is forced to become Dulwich’s answer to Miss Marple when she stumbles over a murder victim on her first day at work. To clear her name, Beth is plunged into a cozy mystery that’s a contemporary twist on Golden Age crime classics. But can she pull it off? She already has a bouncy young son, haughty cat, a fringe with a mind of its own and lots of bills to pay, as she struggles to keep up with the yummy mummies of SE21. Join Beth in #1 of the London Murder Mystery series, as she discovers the nastiest secrets can lurk in the nicest places.

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[My Review]

Death in Dulwich is a sweet, enjoyable read which makes a refreshing change from the darker, more violent crime novels I often read. It combines all the elements of a cozy mystery that you’d expect (if you’re not familiar with the term, I’ll attempt to sum up some of the sub-genre’s tropes for you: amateur sleuths; small, countryside or isolated settings; and a lack of real violence portrayed, or at least not explicitly – often if there is any, it’s inferred).

The characters in this novel make it such a fun read – protagonist Beth is very likable and seems really sweet; you’re rooting for her to figure it all out, even if she can seem a little naïve at times, along with her friend Katie – and even slightly condescending detective York is quite a pleasant character.

Of course, there are the ‘dark sheeps’ of the story too – I won’t give anything away, but going along for the journey with Beth makes for an enjoyable, surprisingly relaxing story! If you’re expecting a dark, shocking, and gritty read then this isn’t for you, but otherwise give this a go -– this looks to be the first in a promising new series which I’d like to read more of.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey for providing a e-copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.


[About the Author]

Before turning to crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, set in Brussels and London, was a European hit and sold out in two weeks.

Death in Dulwich was published in September 2017 and has been a number one best-seller in the UK, US, Canada, France, Spain and Germany. A sequel, The Girl in the Gallery was published in December 2017 to critical acclaim. Calamity in Camberwell, the third book in the London Murder Mystery series, will be published this summer, with Homicide in Herne Hill due to follow in early 2019. Alice is currently working on the fifth London Murder Mystery adventure. Once again, it will feature Beth Haldane and DI Harry York.

Alice is also a mummy blogger and book reviewer via her website:
https://www.alicecastleauthor.com. Why not join her on Facebook and Twitter, too!


[Follow the Tour]

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In Bloom [review]

In Bloom - C J Skuse

Title: In Bloom
Author: CJ Skuse
Series: Sweetpea
Publisher: HarperCollins UK

[Synopsis]

If only they knew the real truth. It should be my face on those front pages. My headlines. I did those things, not him. I just want to stand on that doorstep and scream it: IT WAS ME. ME. ME. ME. ME!

Rhiannon Lewis has successfully fooled the world and framed her cheating fiancé Craig for the depraved and bloody killing spree she committed. She should be ecstatic that she’s free.

Except for one small problem. She’s pregnant with her ex-lover’s child. The ex-lover she only recently chopped up and buried in her in-laws’ garden. And as much as Rhiannon wants to continue making her way through her kill lists, a small voice inside is trying to make her stop.

But can a killer’s urges ever really be curbed?

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[My Review]

Can anything follow the sheer, utter brilliance of Sweetpea(If you missed it, read my review here). I am so pleased to say that the sequel, once again following serial killer Rhiannon, is in my opinion even better!

It’s another dark, crazy and laugh-out-loud-funny story which I didnt want to put down Rhiannon is as brilliant as ever, with razor sharp observations and utter disdain for certain aspects of human relationships and nature and just everyday life. Her ‘kill lists’ are always entertaining and the fact that she is now ‘with child’ takes nothing away from the level of dark humour; in fact I’m amazed to say that it’s even more crude, even more shocking and even more twisted than Sweetpea was. I love the different take on the serial killer genre, turning various conventions on its head with one bolshy character.

The plot is incredibly engaging and the pace is perfect; if you haven’t read Sweetpea then I say enjoy that first, then jump into In Bloom. I devoured it in (almost) one sitting. Highly recommended!

[Rating: 5/5]

Thank you to HarperCollins UK for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS_ / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

The Craftsman [review]

The Craftsman

Title: The Craftsman
Author: Sharon Bolton
Publisher: Trapeze

[Synopsis]

Catching him will make her career – and change her forever. 

August, 1999 
On the hottest day of the year, Assistant Commissioner Florence Lovelady attends the funeral of Larry Glassbrook, the convicted murderer she arrested thirty years earlier. A master carpenter and funeral director, Larry imprisoned his victims, alive, in the caskets he made himself. Clay effigies found entombed with their bodies suggested a motive beyond the worst human depravity.

June, 1969 
13-year- old Patsy Wood has been missing for two days, the third teenager to disappear in as many months. New to the Lancashire police force and struggling to fit in, WPC Lovelady is sent to investigate an unlikely report from school children claiming to have heard a voice calling for help. A voice from deep within a recent grave.

August, 1999 
As she tries to lay her ghosts to rest, Florence is drawn back to the Glassbrooks’ old house, in the shadow of Pendle Hill, where she once lodged with the family. She is chilled by the discovery of another effigy – one bearing a remarkable resemblance to herself. Is the killer still at large? Is Florence once again in terrible danger? Or, this time, could the fate in store be worse than even her darkest imaginings?

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[My Review]

I’ve only read one other novel by Sharon Bolton (Little Black Lies, which I really enjoyed – read my review here) and that was a while ago, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this. I soon found myself completely drawn into this atmospheric, well-written mystery/crime/thriller novel.

One of the things that set this apart again other novels for me was the fact that the majority of the storyline is set in the late 1960’s, and so you see the way women police officers were treated at that time and the hurdles they had to overcome to be taken seriously in the force. It’s such an interesting topic to read about, and I also enjoyed seeing police investigation techniques from back then as opposed to those used in modern-day investigations, which crime novels tend to focus on. It seems crazy to think of a female police officer being treated in this way nowadays – and I don’t mean she was necessarily treated in the worst way ever, but just dismissed and not taken seriously purely because of her gender. Florence is such a great, strong-minded character and I loved reading about her – in fact, I wanted there to be a series so I could read more about her!

The story itself is gripping, and occasionally switches between the time of the initial investigation, and the ‘present day’ narrative (which is actually 1999). There is a touch of the mystical / magical about it, which I’m not usually a fan of in this genre, but Sharon Bolton pulls it all together so well that it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the book at all.

There are creepy moments and things that make you think twice, and file them away for later (which I loved!). I hugely enjoyed this novel and would recommend to anyone looking for a smart, wonderfully crafted (sorry!) crime novel.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to the publisher, Trapeze, for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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Now You See [review]

Now You See

Title: Now You See
Author: Max Manning
Series: Detective Dan Fenton
Publisher: Wildfire

[Synopsis]

I, Killer has posted two photos of his first victim online – Before Death and After Death. They’ve gone viral before DCI Fenton’s team even discovers the body.

Soon, another victim’s photo is similarly posted…and so begins the killer’s following.

DCI Fenton is determined to discover the identity of I, Killer. Then the murderer makes the hunt personal, and Fenton’s search becomes a matter of life or death for him and his daughter.

But as I, Killer‘s body-count rises, his number of online followers is growing – and he loves to give his fans what they want…

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[My Review]

This is a really solid, entertaining new crime series which grabbed me from the first page until last. The characters are well-crafted and likable – though Fenton wasn’t hugely memorable, he’s a solid detective who you have faith in, and I really liked (perhaps preferred?) Blake.

I particularly like the fact that it wasn’t all centered around the police, and seeing Blake’s side gave it a different slant. I also really enjoyed seeing into the mind of the serial killer – it’s been done before but I feel that it’s done really well by Max Manning here.

The plot is fun to read and the social media element is a little different too. The short chapters are great at making you think ‘just one chapter’, until suddenly it’s the middle of the night and you’ve got work in the morning!

Overall I found Now You See an engaging and fun read, and am looking forward to future installments in this series!


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

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Turn a Blind Eye [review]

Turn a Blind Eye

Title: Turn a Blind Eye [audiobook version]
Author: Vicky Newham
Series: DI Maya Rahman
Publisher: HQ

[Synopsis]

A twisted killer has a deadly riddle for DI Maya Rahman to solve in this pulse-racing thriller, the first in an addictive new series set in East London.

A headmistress is found strangled in her East London school, her death the result of a brutal and ritualistic act of violence. Found at the scene is a single piece of card, written upon which is an ancient Buddhist precept:

I shall abstain from taking the ungiven.

At first, DI Maya Rahman can’t help but hope this is a tragic but isolated murder. Then, the second body is found.

Faced with a community steeped in secrets and prejudice, and with a serial killer on her hands, Maya must untangle the cryptic messages left at the crime scenes to solve the deadly riddle behind the murders – before the killer takes another victim.

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[My Review]

I really enjoyed this novel which had all the elements of a police procedural that I tend to enjoy, and plenty of mystery and tension too.

I really liked Maya – she’s an intelligent, quick, hard-working detective who also happens to be Bengali. This makes a bit of a change from other white-male-driven novels in this genre, and her background and family life growing up affects Maya’s way of thinking and policing in Tower Hamlets and the surrounding area, where a headmistress has been murdered.

The story is really well structured, allowing the reader to slowly piece together what has happened whilst revealing more about Maya and her colleagues, and also touching upon many issues and subjects that are incredibly relevant today. There’s plenty of clues and along the way, and I really enjoyed listening to this on audiobook. It’s an easy listen (narrated really well by Sonia Kaur) and very engaging. The plot is tight, the characters are (on the whole) likable and interesting, and the setting in London is great with its multicultural characters – I would definitely recommend this for anyone looking to discover a gripping new crime series with a strong and likable female lead.


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The Next Girl [review]

The Next Girl - Carla Kovach

Title: The Next Girl 
Author: Carla Kovac
Series: Detective Gina Harte (#1)
Publisher: Bookouture

[Synopsis]

She thought he’d come to save her. She was wrong.

Deborah Jenkins pulls her coat around her as she sets out on her short walk home in the pouring rain. But she never makes it home that night. And she is never seen again …

Four years later, an abandoned baby girl is found wrapped in dirty rags on a doorstep. An anonymous phone call urges the police to run a DNA test on the baby. But nobody is prepared for the results.

The newborn belongs to Deborah. She’s still alive.

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[My Review]

What a gripping, tense start to a new detective series which looks set to be a new favourite! Although it focuses on Detective Gina Harte, the book didn’t feel like your average crime novel – though a lot of it fits the ‘police procedural’ format (which, I should point out, I am a big fan of, so nothing to complain about there), a good portion of the story also takes place from the victim’s point of view and from that of missing person Deborah Jenkins’ husband, and this adds a fresh take on the story and, to me, makes it more of a crime thriller – and a really engaging one at that!

Gina herself is a great character – she has her faults and quirks but she adds a lot of interest to the story. The Next Girl is also a stark reminder of how hard the police have to fight to run certain tests; it really highlights the pressure they’re under due to cuts in funding which I found very interesting (though worrying too, of course, as I am aware this element is sadly not complete fiction).

I loved the way the story cuts between different people; it keeps you guessing and reading on, and add that extra element of who exactly is telling the truth. It has just the right balance between action, threat, and fast-paced detective work – all wrapped up into a great start to an exciting and promising new crime series!

[Rating: 4/5]

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

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