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:
Facebook
Twitter 
Goodreads 
Blog


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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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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!


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Believe Me by JP Delaney [review]

Believe Me - JP Delaney

Title: Believe Me
Author: JP Delaney
Publisher: Quercus

[Synopsis]

A struggling actor, a Brit in America without a green card, Claire needs work and money to survive. Then she gets both. But nothing like she expected.

Claire agrees to become a decoy for a firm of divorce lawyers. Hired to entrap straying husbands, she must catch them on tape with their seductive propositions. The rules? Never hit on the mark directly. Make it clear you’re available, but he has to proposition you, not the other way around. The firm is after evidence, not coercion. The innocent have nothing to hide.

Then the game changes.

When the wife of one of Claire’s targets is violently murdered, the cops are sure the husband is to blame. Desperate to catch him before he kills again, they enlist Claire to lure him into a confession.

Claire can do this. She’s brilliant at assuming a voice and an identity. For a woman who’s mastered the art of manipulation, how difficult could it be to tempt a killer into a trap? But who is the decoy . . . and who is the prey?

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[My Review]

This struck me as very a very different novel to what I’d expected it to be. I thought it would be more of a formulaic thriller that fits right into the typical tropes of this genre, but it was quite a surprise when I started it, both in terms of the plot and the way it’s written.

The plot had more atmosphere and perhaps less ‘action’ than you’d normally expect from the thriller/ mystery genre, and it developed the characters more, with an added focus on the world of the honeytrapper mixed with police investigations and undercover work, which I found really interesting! There’s definitely slightly sexy overtones at times, just due to main character Claire’s work, but it doesn’t stray too far that way, always coming back to the predicament Claire is in. There are definitely twists and turns which kept me completely engrossed. Sure, there were a few parts which were less believable, but you’re here to be entertained, right?

Whether you love or hate Claire (or are somewhere in the middle, like me!), she’s certainly an interesting character and someone that makes you want to read more about her. I wanted to find out whether she is what she makes out to be, or whether she’s hiding more than we first thought – and I was pleased to see this explored throughout the book.

The format of the story is also a bit of a change from the usual read; some parts are written as if you’re reading a play, whilst others revert back to a slightly more standard ‘speak directly to the reader’ format, and I liked this mix – it gave the novel a fresher, unique feel.

I don’t want to give too much away about this novel but I will say that it has some dark themes and a good few twists along the way. Definitely give this a go if you fancy a slightly different, slick pyschological thriller.

[Rating: 4.5/5]

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

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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!

Snap [review]

Snap

Title: Snap
Author: Belinda Bauer
Publisher: Transworld Publishers

[Synopsis]

On a stifling summer’s day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack’s in charge, she said. I won’t be long.

But she doesn’t come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever.

Three years later, mum-to-be Catherine wakes to find a knife beside her bed, and a note that says: I could have killed you.

Meanwhile Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and – quite suddenly – of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother.

But the truth can be a dangerous thing…

[My Review]

Punchy, atmospheric and addictive, Snap made me turn page after page in a quest to know more. It starts with an opening scene to really make you sit up and take notice, and made me care more about the characters introduced to us here. I found the people in this story to be convincing and, most importantly, interesting to read about – it doesn’t focus on the police or investigators but instead the people affected by the crimes beung investigated, and also those committing the crimes. This was a nice break from the usual detective/ police structure, and the various narratives begin to weave themselves together as the story goes on, so yoy slowly realize that certain people are connected. I love stories that do this, and certainly held my attention even in parts that were a little slower.

There’s a mix of emotions within these pages, with some people feeling like they’re beyond redemption and others I felt pity for; I enjoyed reading from the perspective of both Catherine and Jack and particularly liked the ever-present mystery of what exactly happened to Jack’s mother, all those years ago? It’s definitely bleak at times and sometimes uncomfortable reading, but definitely punchy and a great read.

I’d definitely recommend this cleverly plotted thriller, with plenty of emotion and just the right level of mystery to ensure that you won’t want to put it down!


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

The Brighton Mermaid [review]

The Brighton Mermaid

Title: The Brighton Mermaid
Author: Dorothy Koomson
Publisher: Century

[Synopsis]

Brighton Beach, 1993: Teenagers Nell and Jude find the body of a young woman and when no one comes to claim her, she becomes known as the Brighton Mermaid. Nell is still struggling to move on when, three weeks later, Jude disappears.

Twenty-five years on, Nell quits her job to find out who the Brighton Mermaid really was – and what happened to her best friend that summer.

But as Nell edges closer to the truth, dangerous things start to happen. Someone seems to be watching her every move, and soon she starts to wonder who in her life she can actually trust…

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[My Review]

I am a huge fan of Dorothy Koomson, having loved the other novels I’ve read by her (including The Ice Cream Girls [my review here] and The Friend [my review here]), so I was incredibly excited to get the chance to read her newest release, The Brighton Mermaid. The premise sounded really interesting and I knew I’d be treated to Koomson’s excellent writing.

I wasn’t disappointed – once again, readers can enjoy some brilliantly convincing characters (people you can actually imagine meeting in real life) and an intriguing, just-one-more-page plot, as well as the great location of Brighton.

I really enjoyed reading about Nell and the two key narratives: one focussing on her time as a child – before, during, and after the discover of the mysterous murdered woman and the disappearance of her her best friend, Jude) – and one set in the present day, as Nell deals with her past and tries to work out who could be watching, following and slowly torementing her…

The narrative is fast-paced and kept me wanting to read on, and I love the element of mystery interwoven with topics around family, friendship and secrets. There’s a mix of emotions, with some quite disturbing themes cropping up alongside slightly more light-hearted parts. I loved the sense of time and place that Koomson always creates so well – I may only have been a very small child at the time this was set but I could picture myself there, in the early 1990’s, right there with Jude and Nell as they made their horrifying discovery.

Another addictive release from this brilliant author – definitely recommended!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Century 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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Deadly Secrets by @RobertBryndza [review] @bookouture

Deadly Secrets - Robert Bryndza

Title: Deadly Secrets
Author: Robert Bryndza
Series: Detective Erika Foster (#6)
Publisher: Bookouture

[Synopsis]

To commit the perfect murder, you need the perfect cover.

On a cold icy morning, a mother wakes to find her daughter’s blood-soaked body frozen to the road. Who would carry out such a horrific killing on the victim’s doorstep?

Straight off her last harrowing case, Detective Erika Foster is feeling fragile but determined to lead the investigation. As she sets to work, she finds reports of assaults in the same quiet South London suburb where the woman was killed. One chilling detail links them to the murder victim – they were all attacked by a figure in black wearing a gas mask.

Erika is on the hunt for a killer with a terrifying calling card. The case gets more complicated when she uncovers a tangled web of secrets surrounding the death of the beautiful young woman.

Yet just as Erika begins to piece the clues together, she is forced to confront painful memories of her past. Erika must dig deep, stay focused and find the killer. Only this time, one of her own is in terrible danger…

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[My Review]

Another fantastic, well-written release from Robert Bryndza and the Detective Erika Foster series, which has quickly climbed to one of my favourite detective/ crime series, and which never fails to draw me into Erika’s world so completely. I know once I pick up a novel in this series I won’t be able to do anything else until I’ve finished it!

As well as lots of gripping investigation and police work, plus glimpses into the life of a disturbing killer, we also see a bit more of Erika’s soft side as she helps her father in law and deals with some surprising news from a certain someone…

I love the police procedural element of the story – as always the plot is gripping, tight and excellently written, with the perfect mix of personal elements surrounding Erika’s team and the police work itself.

Deadly Secrets could be read as a stand-alone, but with five previous (brilliant) novels to get stuck into, I recommend starting from the beginning so you know as much as possible about Erika and her background, as this only enhances each story!

[Rating: 5/5]

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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Briguella by @AuthorVickiFitz [review]

Briguella - Vicki Fitzgerald

Title: Briguella
Author: Vicki Fitzgerald
Publisher: Creativia

[Synopsis]

After seven women fall victim to a serial killer, journalist Kate Rivendale becomes embroiled in the manhunt. The authorities have no suspect, only one forensic link dating way back to the 1930s.

Detective Chief Inspector William Beckley needs to salvage his career; he has too many deaths on his conscience. Beckley entices Kate to go undercover, a decision which backfires with devastating consequences.

While DCI Beckley reaches a horrifying conclusion about the murderer Kate enters a desperate fight for her life… while battling to keep her own secrets buried.

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[My Review]

Briguella is a gripping crime debut from Vicki Fitzgerald, an author I’ll certainly be following!

The novel itself has two main narrators: DCI William Beckley and reporter Kate Rivendale, and having both of these characters tell us their side of the story means the readers gets just the right blend of police procedural elements and ‘non-police’ actions and jargon. I really warmed to Kate, though she had her faults, and found myself caring what happened to her. I have to say, I wasn’t a big fan of Beckley due to the way he treated some characters and really mooned over *someone* (I found this rather irritating but I don’t want to be more specific as I don’t want to give away any elements of the plot). He just grated on me  – and don’t get me started on Kate’s mother and sister – no excuses for their behaviour! At times I felt the descriptions were a bit too long and flowing, but nevertheless I hugely enjoyed reading about the police’s (at times very flawed) investigation into the mysterious serial killer terrorising Westhaven’s streets. The plot it moved along at the right pace and kept me really wanting to read on.

There’s elements of gore and some pretty nasty parts – it is about a serial killer, after all -but this didn’t feel too over the top. I had guessed the killer’s identity towards the end of the book but it didn’t hamper my enjoyment at all, and overall I am hugely impressed by this brilliant debut which I would definitely recommend!

[Rating: 4/5]

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

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