Claire loves to read!

I'm Claire and I'm a voracious reader. I've loved books all my life and am lucky enough to have lots of time to devote to my favourite hobby - reading!

 

My favourite genres are crime, police procedural, psychological thriller, suspense, horror, mystery and paranormal; throw in a hint of romance and it'll tick another box. The type of genres I read has been widened considerably by accepting review requests from authors and publishers, so I'm happy to give almost anything a go!

 

    bookbridgr.com   2016 NetGalley Challenge 
      Reviews Published    2015 Challenge Participant

 *NOT CURRENTLY ACCEPTING REVIEW APPLICATIONS*
 

Review: Beware the Cuckoo by Julie Newman

Beware the Cuckoo - Julie Newman

Published by: Urbane Publications (18th May 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-1911129912

 

Source: NetGalley

 

Rating: 4*

 

Synopsis:

Two women. One man. A buried secret.

 

They were reunited at his funeral, school friends with a shared past. A past that is anything but straightforward. A past that harbours secrets and untruths.

 

Karen has a seemingly perfect life. An adoring husband, two wonderful children and a beautiful home. She has all she has ever wanted, living the dream. She also has a secret.

 

Sandra's once perfect life is rapidly unravelling. The man who meant everything to her had a dark side and her business is failing. To get her life back on track she needs to reclaim what is rightfully hers. She knows the secret.

 

As the past meets the present, truths are revealed - and both women understand the true cost of betrayal.

 

Review:

With  Beware the Cuckoo, Julie Newman has written a powerful debut centered around a sensitive subject matter. At times, this made for very uncomfortable reading. If you're the parent of a teenage girl, this book will certainly make you worry about what could happen right under your nose.

 

I like how the story is told in both present day and past tense, so we learn the story of Karen and Sandra's friendship from the beginning and the end at the same time. I found some parts of the story quite compelling, and others I managed to guess before they happened, hence just missing out on the 5* review. I was intrigued by the title of this book and not really sure what to expect, but I'm glad I decided to read it, it's really worth it. I recommend it to readers of psychological thrillers, crime and harder hitting women's fiction.

 

Thanks to Matthew Smith at Urbane Publications, Julie Newman and NetGalley for the ARC in return for my honest review.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 80%.

Beware the Cuckoo - Julie Newman

Review: The Frozen Woman by Jon Michelet

The Frozen Woman - Jon Michelet, Don Bartlett

Publisher: No Exit Press (21st Sept 2017)

 

ISBN-13: 978-1843442929

Source: Real Readers

Rating: 2*

 

Synopsis:

In the depths of the Norwegian winter, a woman s frozen corpse is discovered in the garden of a notorious ex-lawyer, Vilhelm Thygesen. She has been stabbed to death.

A young biker, a member of a gang once represented by the lawyer, is found dead in suspicious circumstances.

Thygesen starts receiving anonymous threats, and becomes ensnared in a web of violence, crime and blackmail that spreads across Northern Europe.

Does the frozen woman hold the key?

 

Review:

I have lost count of the number of times I have picked up The Frozen Woman over the past several weeks. Usually, I really enjoy nordic crime thrillers, and this has twice won Norway's best crime novel, so there is no reason that I should not thoroughly enjoy it. I just could not get into it. At my last attempt, I got about 40% in, and then just completely lost interest again. I persevered more than I normally would if I had bought the book rather than had been given it to review, but alas, it was not for me. Thank you to the nudge team for providing a copy for me to review via Real Readers.

Review: Summer at Buttercup Beach by Holly Martin

Summer at Buttercup Beach: A gorgeously uplifting and heartwarming romance - Holly Martin

Published by: Bookouture (27th June 2017

 

ISBN: 978-1786812018

 

Source: Netgalley

 

Rating: 5*

 

Synopsis:

For two years Freya Greene has hidden the fact that she’s totally and utterly in love with her best friend Rome Lancaster. It’s not been easy – they work together in his glasswork business, she lives above his workshop and, he’s completely gorgeous. But Rome has never shown any sign of returning those feelings. Until now…

Lately they’ve shared affectionate touches and words heavy with meaning. Yet Freya knows Rome has a damaged heart. After losing his fiancé in a tragic accident, he’s not allowed himself to fall in love.

Freya has already had her heart broken by a man who couldn’t let go of a past love. Can she risk it happening again? Rome and Freya have a friendship that could blossom into something more. Are they both brave enough to take that chance?

 

Review:

I needed a touch of summer sunshine to break through the miserable rainy weather and cloud that had stolen my reading mojo - and Holly Martin seems to have provided the perfect prescription in Summer at Buttercup Beach!

 

The two main characters create gorgeous works of art together and have been friends for a long time. The ideal couple who just haven't got together - Freya is someone who I'd want to be friends with. She's the sort of person you could talk to about anything without fear of being judged. Rome would be your ideal best friend and boyfriend combined...kinda like my hubby if I'm honest! I was just itching for them to stop pussyfooting around and get together!

 

The setting of Buttercup Beach is gorgeous. The descriptions are lovely, makes you fall in love with the place and the people. I want to go and live on Hope Island right now! It's so beautifully written, it really was a dream to read and I just couldn't put it down, I started reading it at midnight and read it all through the night!

 

I feel I've really missed out as I've not read enough of Holly's books...I will be rectifying that straight away! This is such a feel good warm read, I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a comforting, uplifting read that will transport them to another place.

Review: Together by Julie Cohen

Together - Julie Cohen

Published by: Orion (13 July 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-1409171744

 

Source:  Publisher

 

Rating: 4.5*

 

Synopsis:

Is this a great love story?

Or a story about great love?
You decide.

 

On a morning that seems just like any other, Robbie wakes in his bed, his wife Emily asleep beside him, as always. He rises and dresses, makes his coffee, feeds his dogs, just as he usually would. But then he leaves Emily a letter and does something that will break her heart. As the years go back all the way to 1962, Robbie's actions become clearer as we discover the story of a couple with a terrible secret - one they will do absolutely anything to protect.

 

Review:

Together is the hauntingly beautiful tale of Robbie and Emily and their love for one another. Told backwards, this heartbreaking and deeply moving story is original, gripping and all-encompassing. I really like that out begins when the couple are older and works its way back, so we get to find out what it was like when they first met. I became so engrossed in Robbie and Emily's story, I was only vaguely aware of my surroundings.

 

The couple's secret, when it is revealed, is quite shocking. If I hadn't already guessed what that secret was, this book would have got a big 5 stars from me. I usually read crime, so perhaps that stood me in good stead for detective duties in uncovering the secret here!

 

Although this is the first book by this author that I've read, it certainly won't be the last. I am really impressed with her ability to draw the reader in and hold their attention. Special thanks to the publishers for providing an ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.

The Monk of Lantau by Mann Matharu

The Monk of Lantau - Mann Matharu

Published on 7th August 2015

 

ISBN: 978-1504987615

 

Source: Author provided review copy

 

Rating: 5*

 

Synopsis:

The search for a meaningful existence is as universal as it is elusive. When obstacles to happiness and personal goals seem to riddle our horizons, where do we turn for answers? Meet Matthew, an average Londoner, a family man, intent on the all-too-normal pursuit of making a better life for himself and his family. When an accident threatens to become the proverbial straw that breaks his back, Matthew finds himself at a crossroad in his life. In the way the universe has of placing the right people in our lives at just the right time, Matthew happens upon a tale from an unlikely source, a tale of a man with mystical healing powers, someone Matthew can seek to restore balance and harmony to his life and heal his daughter, who is fighting for her own. As he traipses through Europe, the Middle East, India, and Asia in search of the healer, nothing about the beautiful, trying, and challenging outward journey compares to the progress he makes as he travels into the depths of his own being. Through Matthew's journey, we are given the keys to finding the healer for ourselves. Most importantly, readers are invited to harness the beauty and prosperity that come when we seek ways to recognize that we are all connected to each other and we are all marvellous and powerful creators of our own unique, stunning life stories.

 

Review:

I happened to be at a friend's house for the weekend when she mentioned she was reading this book. I was intrigued by both the title and the description, so when my friend said the author was looking for more reviewers, I turned a blind eye to my teetering TBR and offered my services. What follows is my unbiased review.

 

Although I was expecting the bulk of this book to follow Matthew on his journey, I wasn't prepared for the emotional attachment I made to him and some of the other characters

along the way. As Matthew travels through different countries and discovers more about himself, it made me really think about him. Although I have probably few of the same experiences as him; I'm not a parent, for example, I tried really hard to put myself in his place, something I think far too few people do in Western society.

 

I really enjoyed the way the story alternates between the different sets of characters. The story as a whole is really engaging. It's hard to say more and still avoid spoilers, but suffice to say this is one of those books that has touched me and that I will no doubt re-read from time to time.

 

Thanks to Jules for introducing me to this author. Thanks to Mann for the book and to Jules for sending it!

The Frozen Woman - Jon Michelet, Don Bartlett

DNF 40%

 

I tried several times to persevere with this but it just couldn't hold my interest. 

Ultraxenopia by M. A. Phipps is published today!

 

 

Ultraxenopia, a YA dystopian thriller by M. A. Phipps is published by Seven Sisters Publishing on August 1st 2017. I first read Ultraxenopia back when the author self-published in 2015 and it was my top read of that year. Despite not being a regular reader of YA fiction, the story of Wynter Reeves has long since stayed with me and I cannot recommend this book highly enough! 

Here is the stunning new cover image, designed by Nathalia Suellen.

 

 

Exerpt:

Don’t stand out. Blend in. Remain invisible. Those are the rules I lived by—the rules I thought would keep me alive. I was wrong.

Wynter Reeves is a law-abiding citizen of the State, a willing conformist whose daily life is haunted by terrorism and oppression. With the constant threat of death hanging over her like a shadow, she forces herself to live by a strict set of rules, all in the hope of ensuring she is never noticed. However, on her twenty-first birthday, as she prepares to take the placement exam that will determine her future within society, she begins to show symptoms of a rare and debilitating illness—ultimately attracting the attention of the State. Taken into the custody of the feared research facility known as the DSD, her worst nightmare becomes reality. Ripped away from the life she knew, Wynter is forced to become the test subject of the mysterious Dr. Richter. Through him, she learns the true and terrifying nature of her condition: a disease called Ultraxenopia.

 

Watch the brilliant trailer here

Support the thunderclap here - this means just one post on your social media :) no spam!

Join in the celebration at the release party on facebook later today (August 1st) here

 

About the author

 

M. A. PHIPPS is an American author who resides near the ocean in picturesque Cornwall with her husband, daughter, and their Jack Russell, Milo. A lover of the written word, it has always been her dream to become a published author, and it is her hope to expand into multiple genres of fiction. When she isn’t writing, you can find her counting down the days until the new season of Game of Thrones.

 

You can make contact with the author v via her official webpage here or via

Facebook Twitter Instagram Pinterest YouTube Amazon Bookbub goodreads

Official Fan Group

She'd love to hear from you!

 

Buy Ultraxenopia at:

Amazon US  UK 

Nook

iBooks

Kobo

 

 

Excerpt: 

“This isn’t how it looks,” I stammer.
A sarcastic laugh explodes from his lungs, echoing through the otherwise soundless bar.
“Really? Because, from where I’m standing, it looks like you’re one of them.”
“I’m not.” The words sound weak and unconvincing.
He pushes the barrel of the gun against my temple, and our faces are so close now that I can feel his heated breath against my lips.
“Why should I believe you?” he growls.
I tense my jaw, spitting my next words through clenched teeth. “If I was one of them, they would already be here,” I hiss back.
The State doesn’t play games. He must know that better than anyone. They wouldn’t waste time sending in a single person when they could more efficiently get the job done by sending a whole team. If I was one of them, the Enforcers would already be here. The State wouldn’t bother with this game of charades.
His expression doesn’t change, but I can see his true reaction in his gaze—the doubt that appears there. He seems to grasp that what I’ve said makes sense, but at the same time, can’t wrap his head around any other reason why I’d be here.
He wavers, and I can feel his uncertainty in the way the point of his gun wobbles against my skin. His eyes remain fixed on mine, making my heart race even faster. I only glance away when I notice a movement to my right. Looking up, I see another man now standing beside us.
“We can’t take any chances,” the man grumbles before spitting on the floor in front of me. “We should kill her to be sure.”
A deep-rooted panic washes over me, the fear like a smoldering and inextinguishable ember. Despite everything I’ve seen, I still have my doubts as to what’s really happening, and I can’t help worrying that this won’t end well. How can it? I won’t even be given the chance to defend myself.
He presses the gun even harder against my forehead, causing me to suck in a sharp breath. Our eyes lock once again.
“How do you know my name?”
I stare at him, trying to figure out the best way to answer his question. His hazel eyes are probing, but I find myself losing focus on his expression. His face has gone hazy, the bar even darker. The nausea from before returns with a vengeance, consuming my entire body and pressing down on me with a force that threatens to pin me to the floor.
I sway, lightheaded.
A strange trickling resonates around us, the sound deafening in the hushed bar. At first, I think I’m imagining it, but then I see the alarming change in his face.
His eyebrows pull together as he looks down, and suddenly, he’s taking a reflexive step back. I follow his gaze once more, my own vision doubling as I take in the tremendous pool of red that seems to surround me.
I watch the blood as it drips from my open wrist, the bandage soaked through and unravelling from its hiding place in the no longer white sleeve.
His eyes snap back to mine, and my every movement feels delayed as I glance up to meet them. The moment I do, the images from my vision flash through my thoughts, reminding me why I’m here.
I see his face. His hazel eyes.
I see his tears.
“I’m sorry, Wynter.”
Any and all light that the bar possessed vanishes in an instant, and the pain I had managed to forget hits me all at once. I gaze at him, concentrating on his face as much as my increasing blood loss will allow. Focusing on his eyes, which continue to stare back at me.
My lips pull into a smile as the darkness rushes to overcome me.
“I saw you,” I breathe.

 

Happy Publication Day! Red Days by M. L. Sparrow

Red Days - M L Sparrow

 

ULTRAXENOPIA by M.A. Phipps pre-order blitz

 

I'm super excited that Ultraxenopia, my top read of 2015, is being re-released by Seven Sisters Publishing on August 1st 2017. It has a simply breathtaking new cover image, designed by Nathalia Suellen.

 

 

Don’t stand out. Blend in. Remain invisible. Those are the rules I lived by—the rules I thought would keep me alive. I was wrong.

Wynter Reeves is a law-abiding citizen of the State, a willing conformist whose daily life is haunted by terrorism and oppression. With the constant threat of death hanging over her like a shadow, she forces herself to live by a strict set of rules, all in the hope of ensuring she is never noticed. However, on her twenty-first birthday, as she prepares to take the placement exam that will determine her future within society, she begins to show symptoms of a rare and debilitating illness—ultimately attracting the attention of the State. Taken into the custody of the feared research facility known as the DSD, her worst nightmare becomes reality. Ripped away from the life she knew, Wynter is forced to become the test subject of the mysterious Dr. Richter. Through him, she learns the true and terrifying nature of her condition: a disease called Ultraxenopia.

 

Watch the brilliant trailer here

Support the thunderclap here - this means just one post on your social media :) no spam!

Join in the celebration at the release party on August 1st here

 

 

M. A. PHIPPS is an American author who resides near the ocean in picturesque Cornwall with her husband, daughter, and their Jack Russell, Milo. A lover of the written word, it has always been her dream to become a published author, and it is her hope to expand into multiple genres of fiction. When she isn’t writing, you can find her counting down the days until the new season of Game of Thrones.

 

You can make contact with the author v via her official webpage here or via

Facebook Twitter Instagram Pinterest YouTube Amazon Bookbub goodreads

Official Fan Group

She'd love to hear from you!

 

Pre-Order Ultraxenopia at:

Amazon US  UK 

Nook

iBooks

Kobo

 

 

Excerpt: 

“This isn’t how it looks,” I stammer.
A sarcastic laugh explodes from his lungs, echoing through the otherwise soundless bar.
“Really? Because, from where I’m standing, it looks like you’re one of them.”
“I’m not.” The words sound weak and unconvincing.
He pushes the barrel of the gun against my temple, and our faces are so close now that I can feel his heated breath against my lips.
“Why should I believe you?” he growls.
I tense my jaw, spitting my next words through clenched teeth. “If I was one of them, they would already be here,” I hiss back.
The State doesn’t play games. He must know that better than anyone. They wouldn’t waste time sending in a single person when they could more efficiently get the job done by sending a whole team. If I was one of them, the Enforcers would already be here. The State wouldn’t bother with this game of charades.
His expression doesn’t change, but I can see his true reaction in his gaze—the doubt that appears there. He seems to grasp that what I’ve said makes sense, but at the same time, can’t wrap his head around any other reason why I’d be here.
He wavers, and I can feel his uncertainty in the way the point of his gun wobbles against my skin. His eyes remain fixed on mine, making my heart race even faster. I only glance away when I notice a movement to my right. Looking up, I see another man now standing beside us.
“We can’t take any chances,” the man grumbles before spitting on the floor in front of me. “We should kill her to be sure.”
A deep-rooted panic washes over me, the fear like a smoldering and inextinguishable ember. Despite everything I’ve seen, I still have my doubts as to what’s really happening, and I can’t help worrying that this won’t end well. How can it? I won’t even be given the chance to defend myself.
He presses the gun even harder against my forehead, causing me to suck in a sharp breath. Our eyes lock once again.
“How do you know my name?”
I stare at him, trying to figure out the best way to answer his question. His hazel eyes are probing, but I find myself losing focus on his expression. His face has gone hazy, the bar even darker. The nausea from before returns with a vengeance, consuming my entire body and pressing down on me with a force that threatens to pin me to the floor.
I sway, lightheaded.
A strange trickling resonates around us, the sound deafening in the hushed bar. At first, I think I’m imagining it, but then I see the alarming change in his face.
His eyebrows pull together as he looks down, and suddenly, he’s taking a reflexive step back. I follow his gaze once more, my own vision doubling as I take in the tremendous pool of red that seems to surround me.
I watch the blood as it drips from my open wrist, the bandage soaked through and unravelling from its hiding place in the no longer white sleeve.
His eyes snap back to mine, and my every movement feels delayed as I glance up to meet them. The moment I do, the images from my vision flash through my thoughts, reminding me why I’m here.
I see his face. His hazel eyes.
I see his tears.
“I’m sorry, Wynter.”
Any and all light that the bar possessed vanishes in an instant, and the pain I had managed to forget hits me all at once. I gaze at him, concentrating on his face as much as my increasing blood loss will allow. Focusing on his eyes, which continue to stare back at me.
My lips pull into a smile as the darkness rushes to overcome me.
“I saw you,” I breathe.

 

*COVER REVEAL* ULTRAXENOPIA BY M. A. PHIPPS

 

Title: Ultraxenopia
Author: M. A. Phipps
Genre: YA Dystopian Thriller
Cover Designer: Nathalia Suellen
Editor: Catherine Stovall (CLS Editing)
Expected Release Date: Aug. 1st, 2017
Publisher: Seven Sisters Publishing

 

Blurb:
Don’t stand out. Blend in. Remain invisible. Those are the rules I lived by—the rules I thought would keep me alive.

I was wrong.

Wynter Reeves is a law-abiding citizen of the State, a willing conformist whose daily life is haunted by terrorism and oppression. With the constant threat of death hanging over her like a shadow, she forces herself to live by a strict set of rules, all in the hope of ensuring she is never noticed. However, on her twenty-first birthday, as she prepares to take the placement exam that will determine her future within society, she begins to show symptoms of a rare and debilitating illness—ultimately attracting the attention of the State. Taken into the custody of the feared research facility known as the DSD, her worst nightmare becomes reality.

Ripped away from the life she knew, Wynter is forced to become the test subject of the mysterious Dr. Richter. Through him, she learns the true and terrifying nature of her condition: a disease called Ultraxenopia.

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33806043-ultraxenopia

 

Author Bio:
M. A. PHIPPS is an American author who resides near the ocean in picturesque Cornwall with her husband, daughter, and their Jack Russell, Milo. A lover of the written word, it has always been her dream to become a published author, and it is her hope to expand into multiple genres of fiction. When she isn’t writing, you can find her counting down the days until the new season of Game of Thrones.

 

Author Links:
Official Webpage: http://www.maphipps.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authormaphipps/
Official Fan Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/436191730095124/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/authormaphipps
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13682371.M_A_Phipps
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authormaphipps/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/MAPhipps
Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/authormaphipps/
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2sF4HC5
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/m-a-phipps

 

Excerpt:
“Her blood type,” she whispers in a hushed voice to the man. “It’s . . . changing.”
I may not know much about science, or anything medical having to do with the human body, but I know enough to be certain that what she’s saying isn’t possible. Not without unnatural intervention at least.
I gape at the man, but he doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t even seem to react to this news. His eyes follow the code for a while, and his fingers rub his chin as if deep in thought.
When the process is complete, the sphere stops spinning and sinks back to the desktop, landing with a soft thud against the glass surface. Within seconds of touching down, the metal exterior shifts until it’s once again nothing more than a silver bowl filled with blood.
The man straightens up, and everyone in the room watches him in silence, waiting for him to speak.
Including me.
“Fascinating,” he murmurs.
Without warning, he looks over at me, and my heart rate increases when his lips curl into a smile. For some reason, his expression is unnerving.
Moving toward me, his footsteps echo off the floor—the sound growing louder as the distance between us shrinks. His gaze never leaves mine.
Stopping just in front of me, he flashes a kind smile. “Hello, Wynter. My name is Dr. Richter. I’ll be taking care of you.”
Taking care of me?
“Why am I here?” I breathe. My voice is shaky, and the dryness in my throat is apparent in each raspy word. “What are you going to do to me?”
“Shh, hush now,” he whispers. “All of your questions will be answered in time.”
He smiles once again, only breaking eye contact with me to glance down at his hand. I follow his gaze, the fear re-emerging when I see him pull a syringe from the depths of his coat pocket. His eyes flash back to mine, and I know he can sense my fear as well as the piercing screams lodged in my throat.
“But for now,” he croons as he injects the syringe into one of the tubes in my right arm, “you must sleep.”
He takes a step away from me, that disconcerting expression still plastered across his face. I try to say something, but I’m unable to get out a single word before I feel the effects of the liquid as it enters my system. It rushes through me like a cold chill.
I want to fight against it, but it’s hopeless.
As the drowsiness returns to pull me under yet again, the doctor’s smile is all I can see.

Source: http://www.facebook.com/groups/436191730095124

Cover Reveal & competition! Red Days by M. L. Sparrow

Red Days - M L Sparrow

 

About the author:

M L Sparrow is currently the author of four full length novels and two short novellas, as well as a slew of short stories published in various places. Her novella, A Tangled Web, was a finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

She will write pretty much anything that pops into her head, no matter the genre, and enjoys keeping her readers guessing as to what she will write next, though you can pretty much guarantee that there will be some degree of romance!

As well as writing, M L Sparrow enjoys travelling and has been to some amazing countries in the past few years, her favourite of which was Japan. She never fails to gather inspiration from her travels and has an endless supply of ideas for future novels…

To find out more check out her website – http://mlsparrow.wix.com/mlsparrow

 

 

You can send your screenshot via any of these methods...

Facebook   Twitter   Google+   Website   Goodreads

 

Pre-order via Amazon:

UK   US


About Red Days:

2017: 235 taken into captivity, 570 slaughtered.

Keiko never set out to be an activist, but when she’s sent on an assignment to Taiji, Japan, the ball is set in motion. Reporting on the brutal yearly slaughter of hundreds of dolphins alters her life.

Over the course of ten years Keiko follows the highs and lows of the campaign to stop the slaughter of dolphins in Japan and attempts to bring change through her articles. Will her efforts and that of many others be enough?

*Though fictional, Red Days is based on a series of true events up until January 2017*

 

 

An excerpt:

Someone had already switched the radio on and she listened to the soft strains of a new song by some up and coming artist as she popped the lid off her cup and leant back in her chair to sip her heavily sweetened coffee, licking foam from her lips.
Susie, the woman in the cubicle next to hers, arrived and called hello over the partition. Keiko listened to the sound of her laptop booting up and then the fast-paced click of fingers typing. Deciding she should do the same, she pulled her laptop out of her bag and rolled her chair closer to the desk. A minute later she was staring at a blank white page wondering what to write.
Thinking back to the documentary, the feelings she’d felt the night before returned. At once she felt as if she could write an entire novel and yet she could write nothing at all. The words were muddled in her brain but refused to flow down to her fingertips. She didn’t know where to start; the documentary had equipped her with an abundance of self-righteous feelings and yet she knew she didn’t know enough to begin the article yet.
As more people arrived, she threw herself into research. Just like the night before most of what popped up at first glance was related to the documentary, however she kept digging and was eventually able to uncover more in-depth information, such as official scientific papers on the lethal levels of mercury in dolphin meat, statistics showing the number of dolphins and other cetaceans killed in Taiji, and several articles predating 2009, as well as a protest in 2007 where celebrity surfers got into the water with a pod of captured piolet whales.
Although the surfers did nothing except form a peaceful, traditional surfers’ memorial circle, the fisherman converged on them immediately, shouting and using wooden poles to prod and harass them.
The morning sped by and she worked through lunch, only looking up when Celine appeared. Sheathed in a tight white dress, she stood in the doorway with a pout.
“Kiki, where were you? We were supposed to go to lunch, remember?”
Swivelling her chair around, she blinked up at her friend. After staring at words on a screen for so long her eyes felt tired and itchy, making her squint.
“I had to go with Georgie from accounting, do you know how boring she is?” Celine didn’t bother to lower her voice and Keiko winced, knowing how gossip spread in this firm.
“I’m sorry, I lost track of time.” Reflexively she glanced down at the notepad she’d filled with looping handwriting, the most important parts decorated with bright yellow highlighter.
Celine glanced down at the notepad too and then at the screen, curling her lips at the distasteful image of a bloody cove with dolphins being pulled out of the water and into fishing boats with curved hooks.
“Ew, that’s horrible.”
“I know right…” she opened her mouth to explain, but was interrupted.
“Turn that off. I don’t know why they even post pictures like that, no one wants to see them.”
“It’s an expose, Celine, the pictures are supposed to be horrific. It’s supposed to make people think and question what’s going on.”
Flicking her hair, Celine sniffed, unconvinced. “Whatever. Don’t forget lunch tomorrow.”
As she walked away, Keiko sighed and rolled her stiff neck. She made herself stare at the image on the screen, bloody and brutal as it was, until her vision began to blur and she had to blink.
Deciding coffee was needed, she stood on legs which were weak after sitting for so long. Up on her tiptoes, she peeked over the partition and asked Susie if she wanted one before heading over to the coffeemaker. A few minutes later, a steaming cup in each hand, she returned to find an email had popped up on her screen. Passing Susie’s coffee over the wall, she sat down and inhaled the bitter scent of burnt coffee, drowning out the noise of the office as she took a moment to relax, looking at the work she’d completed this morning with satisfaction.
After a few revitalizing sips, she checked to see who the email was from. It was Mr. Jacobs, asking to see her in his office in an hour. He probably wanted to check on her progress. She glanced at her work again and wondered if he would think it was enough.
Exactly an hour later, Keiko knocked on her boss’ door and was admitted into the spacious office where Mr. Jacobs sat at his big wooden desk with his back to a window with a view over the city. Fellow high-rises pierced the cloudy grey sky and if you peered into the distance you could make out a slice of the London Eye between two buildings.
Mr. Jacobs was on the phone, but he waved her inside and, covering the speaker for a moment, said, “Sit, sit. I’ll only be a minute.”
Doing as instructed, she crossed her ankles and adjusted her skirt.
Almost ten minutes later, he hung up and turned to her. “Sorry that took so long. Business calls always overrun.” He said the last as if she hadn’t just listened to him talking about golf and arranging to meet for drinks.
Clapping his hands together, he exclaimed, “So what did you think of The Cove?”
She’d been anticipating this question, yet still didn’t have a satisfactory answer. Strange for a journalist, but she often had trouble putting her thoughts into words.
“I thought it was… barbaric and I was amazed that most Japanese people don’t know about it, supposedly anyway. I don’t understand why this is only just coming to light if it has been going on for years. I was also shocked that they continue selling dolphin meat, even though it is proven to have toxic levels of mercury. How can they be so blinkered as to ignore scientific evidence? What will it take to make them see?”
His lips twitched into a smile, “Perhaps a well written article?”
She smiled back, though she thought it was doubtful. “When is the deadline?”
“We’ll sort that out upon your return,” he answered airily, standing up and walking over to his bookshelf, crammed with old books she doubted he’d actually read.
Suddenly his words penetrated. “Return? Where am I going?”
“Why, to Japan of course! I mentioned it yesterday.”
“No, Mr. Jacobs, you didn’t.”
He waved away her words with an impatient hand, “Oh, well, I’m telling you now. There’s a ticket here with your name on it – first class, no less, you lucky girl!”
Keiko eyed the ticket he picked up off the bookshelf with interest. Of course, she’d been to Japan before, in fact her grandparents lived in Wakayama Prefecture not far from Taiji, therefore, it wasn’t the thought of visiting Japan that excited her, rather the thought of a travelling assignment; her work rarely took her out of the office and never further than the outskirts of London. The more stimulating assignments were usually given to employees with more experience. Which made her wonder…
“Why are you sending me? I’m honoured, but this is a big story, wouldn’t you rather send Joel or Danielle; they usually do the big stories?”
“No, no, you’re the perfect person for the job, you’re Japanese so you’ll fit right in. Besides, this could be your big break.”
The closest Keiko had ever come to being discriminated against was in Primary School when a bunch of girls had run around calling her ‘chinky’ and pulling faces, but now she felt her stomach sink. She hadn’t been given this job because of her own merit, but rather because her parents were Japanese and she looked the part.
However, she pushed down the anger bubbling up, forcing herself to look at it from another angle. She had been given an opportunity, no matter the reason, and she would prove that she was worthy.
“Okay,” she nodded solemnly. “When do I leave?”
Frowning, clearly clueless, he lifted a pair of glasses from his desk and perched them on his nose, peering at the ticket in his hand. “It looks like the plane leaves at… 13:45 tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow!” the word came out as a loud squawk.
“It says so right here,” he said helpfully, handing over the boarding pass and tapped a finger upon the date.
She stared at him in exasperation. “But I can’t go tomorrow.”
“Oh, why not? Do you have plans over the weekend?” he seemed genuinely interested.
“Well, no, but it’s very short notice and… I’d need to pack and…” Trailing off, she bit her lip, unsure why she was arguing. “It’s short notice, but I can do it.”
A smile split his chubby face. “Excellent. Take the rest of the day off and go home and pack. I’ll have my secretary email you all the details.”
Standing, she nodded and went to leave, but his voice stopped her at the door. “I look forward to seeing what you come up with.”
“Thank you for this opportunity, Mr. Jacobs.”

 

'

 

 

Review: Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong by Gina Kirkham

Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong: The perfect laugh-out-loud comedy - Gina Kirkham

Published by: Urbane Publishing (18 May 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-1911331711

 

Source: NetGalley

 

Rating: 4*

 

Synopsis:

Meet Mavis Upton. As mummy to 7-year old Ella, surrogate to far too many pets and with a failed marriage under her belt, Mavis knows she needs to make some life-changing decisions. It's time to strike out into the world, to stand on her own two feet … to pursue a lifelong ambition to become a Police Officer. I mean, what could go wrong?

 

Supported by her quirky, malapropism-suffering mum, Mavis throws herself headlong into a world of uncertainty, self-discovery, fearless escapades, laughter and extra-large knickers. And using her newly discovered investigative skills, she reluctantly embarks on a search to find her errant dad who was last seen years before, making off with her mum's much needed coupon for a fabulous foam cup bra all the way from America.

 

Follow Mavis as she tackles everything life can throw at her, and revel in Gina Kirkham's humorous, poignant and moving story of an everyday girl who one day followed a dream.

 

Review:

Based on the author's experiences as a police officer, this book is funny yet touching in parts. Mavis herself is larger than life, getting herself into all sorts of mischief and is all the more likeable because of it. I'm not sure she's entirely believable, but that doesn't seem to matter one bit. 

 

I like that we get to see both sides of Mavis - the police officer and the mum/daughter. Her interaction with her fellow officers is great, I love the banter; it's like taking a step back in time into one of the British comedies of yesteryear. The interaction with her mum is fantastic too, had me laughing out loud!

 

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a giggle, likes humorous books and likes a moving story. Thanks to Matthew at Urbane Publications and NetGalley for providing an ARC in return for my honest review.

 

GIDEON: THE BOER BLOOD by MALCOLM COLLEY

GIDEON: THE BOER BLOOD

 

Gideon_Boer Blood

 

THE AUTHOR

 

The author was born in South Africa in1942 and spent his teens of the 1950’s on a small farm just outside Naboomspruit in the Northern Province of South Africa, during which time he came to love the sounds, smells and sights of the bush. He did his basic training with 1st Special Service Battalion in Bloemfontein and has happy memories of army life in the bush. He also spent twenty-five years training in the martial arts.

During his work in a steel mill and underground in a diamond mine, he yearned to be back in the bush.

 

 

THE BOOK

 

By 1902 the British war against South Africa, the so called “Boer War” was over. Paul Kruger, attempted to negotiate a deal with Holland and Germany for arms and ammunition in exchange for gold. The arms and ammunition reached the port of Lorenco Marques but the gold, sent by Kruger, went missing.

Into this chaos of the aftermath of the war, with men, woman and children trying to make it back to the farms, Gideon Barron, an Irishman born in South Africa is accused of helping to steal the gold. Wounded, he escapes but is followed and hunted by his fellow Boers for treason.

 

 

INSPIRATION FOR THE BOOK

 

The disappearance of Kruger’s gold has always intrigued me. There are many stories, myths and legends about the whereabouts of this treasure. In this work of fiction adventure, I have put forward one possibility. I grew up in this area amongst these people whose stories to their grandchildren in the lamplight around the kitchen table, tell of the gold that may have changed the course of the war, told with the bitterness against the English.

Review: Electric Souk by Rose McGinty

Electric Souk - Rose McGinty

Published by: Urbane Publications (23rd March 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-1911129820

 

Source: NetGalley

 

Rating: 5*

 

Synopsis:

Ireland's gone bust, and with it Aisling Finn's life. She flees austerity for adventure in the desert. But the Arabia she finds is not that of her dreams. Everyone is chasing a fast buck, a fast woman and another G&T. Expats and locals alike prickle with paranoia. Debonair fixer, Brian Rothmann, charms Aisling with champagne brunches and nights at Bedouin camps. But is Brian a hero or a desperate expat prepared to go to any lengths to get what he wants? Is this Aisling? Or is he using her as bait? Her only hope is Hisham, a local activist. But where do his loyalties lie? Aisling faces severe peril when the sleazy expat and blood-lusting desert worlds collide, as the Arab Spring erupts. She has to ask, whom can she trust? Can she trust her instincts?

 

Review:

Rose McGinty's debut novel is quite unlike anything I've read before. It's difficult to know what genre I'd class it as because it has elements of many, but I guess 'thriller' is as good as any. The description is breathtakingly good; I can almost taste the fragrant spices and see the jewel coloured pashminas in the hustle and bustle of the night time souk.

The characters are similarly brought to life. Aisling is likeable and believable throughout, Brian is in turn both charming and loathsome and there are plenty of other characters to like and dislike, Mozah and Laila in particular.

Electric Souk is fascinating, frightening, heartwarming, gripping, horrific, and hauntingly descriptive. I found out utterly compelling and read it in two long sittings as I was unable to put it down once I'd started! It will appeal to a wide range of readers.

Thanks to Matthew at Urbane for the ARC, via NetGalley, in return for my honest review.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 50%.

Electric Souk - Rose McGinty

Have been reading this pretty much non-stop since I picked it up. I love how the writing describes the richness of the environment. I can almost picture all the colourful pashminas and shimmering sand dunes...