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: A Daughter's Courage by Renita D'Silva

A Daughter's Courage - Renita D'Silva

Published by: Bookouture (26th May 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-1786811783

 

Source: Netgalley 

 

Rating: 5*

 

Synopsis:

1929. When a passionate love affair threatens to leave Lucy in disgrace, she chooses a respectable marriage over a life of shame. With her husband, coffee-plantation-owner James, she travels to her new home in India, leaving her troubled past behind her.

Everything in India is new to Lucy, from the jewel-coloured fabrics to the exotic spices. When her path crosses that of Gowri, a young woman who tends the temple on the plantation’s edge, Lucy is curious to find out more about her, and the events that lead her to live in isolation from her family…

 

Now. With her career in shatters and her heart broken by the man she thought was her future, Kayva flees from bustling Mumbai to her home town. A crumbling temple has been discovered in a village nearby, and with it letters detailing its tragic history – desperate pleas from a young woman called Gowri.

 

As Kavya learns of Gowri and Lucy’s painful story, she begins to understand the terrible sacrifices that were made and the decision the two women took that changed their lives forever. Can the secrets of the past help Kavya to rebuild her life?

 

Review:

Wow. What a myriad of emotions A Daughter's Courage evokes. I am feeling so many different things right now! This book is so touching, heartbreakingly sad yet uplifting and heartwarming. This isn't a book that I'd typically pick up and read, it was recommended to me by my very good friend, and fellow book blogger, Jules (who I'm so pleased to see get a mention in the book acknowledgements :))

 

The three main characters, Lucy, Gowri and Kavya are all so well written. They are such distinct personalities and so different from each other. I defy anyone not to fall in love with Gowri, her soul shines through. Lucy is so different from Gowri and I just couldn't wait to find out where the story would go next. When the two women meet, the interaction is so brilliantly described, it really felt as if I was stood right there, breathing in the rich Indian aromas as I witnessed the meeting. Kavya is different again and thoroughly modern. I really enjoyed how the threads of their individual stories intertwined and then came together.

 

India really came to life from 'the pages' (my kindle) as it was just depicted in such a wonderful way. The colours, from the jewel brights of the saris to the dirty brown of the mud, everything felt as though I was actually seeing it myself. Renita D'Silva has such a fantastic way with words. I also loved all the descriptions of the food that Gowri and the others were preparing; I've taken notes! A Daughter's Courage may have been the first of the author's books that I've read but it certainly won't be the last! Thanks to Bookouture and Netgalley for the ARC, and to Jules Mortimer for another great recommendation.  

 

 

Review: Tattletale by Sarah J. Naughton

Tattletale - Sarah J. Naughton

Published by: Trapeze (23rd March 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-1409170228

 

Source: Netgalley

 

Rating: 4.5*

 

Synopsis:

One day changes Jody's life forever. She has shut herself down, haunted by her memories and unable to trust anyone. But then she meets Abe, the perfect stranger next door and suddenly life seems full of possibility and hope.

 

One day changes Mags's life forever. After years of estrangement from her family, Mags receives a shocking phone call. Her brother Abe is in hospital and no-one knows what happened to him. She meets his fiancé Jody, and gradually pieces together the ruins of the life she left behind. But the pieces don't quite seem to fit...

 

Review:

Tattletale is one of those books I've been meaning to read for ages but for some reason I just overlooked. I've promised myself that this year I will read as many books as I can that have been on my TBR for a long while for one reason or another.

 

I was so impressed by this novel that I looked the author up on goodreads as soon as I  finished reading to see how many books she'd written before this one. I was so impressed when I discovered this was her debut. It's intelligently written with such an eye for detail. The author has a real knack for holding the reader's interest and taking them on a journey.

 

The two central characters here are wonderfully complex, full of personality, flaws, anguish and all that that entails. The plot weaves around them beautifully, and just when you think you know what is going to happen, Sarah J. Naughton throws a curve ball you really weren't expecting! There are twists on top of twists! Brilliant stuff!

 

Review: For Reasons Unknown by Michael Wood

For Reasons Unknown - Michael Wood

Published by: Killer Reads (5th November 2015)

 

ISBN: 978-0008158675

 

Source: Purchased

 

Rating: 5*

 

Synopsis:

DCI Matilda Darke has returned to work after a nine month absence. A shadow of her former self, she is tasked with re-opening a cold case: the terrifyingly brutal murders of Miranda and Stefan Harkness. The only witness was their eleven-year-old son, Jonathan, who was too deeply traumatized to speak a word.

Then a dead body is discovered, and the investigation leads back to Matilda's case. Suddenly the past and present converge, and it seems a killer may have come back for more…

 

Review:

For Reasons Unknown has been languishing on my TBR for far too long, so I've started the year as I mean to go on, and what a cracking start! This is crime writing at its very best and I'm seriously impressed. The plot had me on the edge of my seat, it's full of twists and turns that I didn't see coming, the characters are great...DCI Matilda Darke is brilliant! The ending had me actually shouting 'Noooo!' at my kindle!

 

DCI Matilda Darke is a fantastic character. She's a little broken, but there's a glimpse of fighting spirit underneath, which I'm looking forward to seeing more of in subsequent books. There's lots of interaction with her colleagues too, which I really enjoyed, so I hope to see some of those again too. 

 

The author has an easy way of drawing you in and keeping you interested in the story throughout. His intelligent writing style and great use of detail really made the story come alive. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it to all readers of crime and psychological thrillers and police procedurals.

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 65%.

For Reasons Unknown - Michael Wood

Non-fiction top reads 2017

Back to the Boy - James Arthur But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan!: 125 Recipes to Win Everyone OverPicky kids will try it, hungry adults won't miss meat, and holiday traditions can live on! - Kristy Turner Appetite for Reduction: 125 Fast and Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes - Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Matthew Ruscigno

My top reads of 2017 - the top 3!

Bad Sister - Sam Carrington I Am Watching You - Teresa O'Driscoll Tastes Like Fear: DI Marnie Rome 3 - Headline Digital, Sarah Hilary, Imogen Church

My top reads of 2017 - the runners up!

Last Breath: A gripping serial killer thriller that will have you hooked (Detective Erika Foster Book 4) - Robert Bryndza A Stranger's House - Clare Chase The Liar - Jennifer Wells The Cold Hard Truth - Amanda Leigh Cowley The Cows: The Hottest New Release for 2017 - Dawn O'Porter The Lost Children - Helen Phifer Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café - Richard Dee Murder Game: A gripping serial killer thriller you won't be able to put down (Detective Ruby Preston Crime Thriller Series Book 3) - Caroline Mitchell Saving Sophie: A gripping psychological thriller with a brilliant twist - Sam Carrington The Monk of Lantau - Mann Matharu

Review: Ribbonworld (The Balcom Dynasty Book 1) by Richard Dee

Ribbonworld (The Balcom Dynasty Book 1) - Richard Dee

Published by: 4Star Scifi (3rd July 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-1781324677

 

Source: Purchased

 

Rating: 5*

 

Synopsis:

Miles Goram has a problem. All the down-on-his-luck journalist planned on doing was writing a hotel review and now there’s a body in his bathroom. Far from home on a strange planet, Miles must deal with the fact that somebody wants him dead.

 

Welcome to Reevis, a planet without days or nights where life is only possible under a vast pressure dome. It is on this airless wasteland that Miles finds himself caught up in a mystery involving a huge interplanetary corporation, a powerful man and his ambitious PA, and a beautiful young heiress who has been missing for years.

 

Crossing the galaxy in search of answers, Miles begins to uncover a web of deceit that stretches further than anyone could have imagined. With his life becoming at greater and greater risk, he realises that there is no one he can trust. Will he discover the truth and finally come to terms with his past? And, if he does, will it be enough to save his future…?

 

Review:

I found Ribbonworld completely engrossing. This wonderful book so captivated me that I read it in virtually one sitting, only disturbed by a few hours of sleep. The author has such an attentive eye for detail, I was immediately drawn into Miles Goram's world of intrigue and confusion on Reevis. The starkness of the icy side of the planet and the boiling lava of the hot side are so beautifully depicted I felt as though I was viewing them myself. Every journey that Miles took on the surface of the planet, whether in a vehicle or on foot, had me feeling I was driving over those rocks or kicking up that dust myself.

 

Miles is a well rounded character. He has a somewhat complex background which we learned a few things about. His keen journalistic instinct to sniff out a story is well described, as is his personality. I'm hoping to find out more about him in the next book, Jungle Green. There are a lot of other characters in Ribbonworld, all with distinct personalities and added value to the storyline, which remained clear throughout.

 

Without giving anything away, I really like the way the book addressed power struggles. Although it's set on a different planet to ours, the events could easily translate to anywhere, at any time. I did guess a couple of things that were revealed later in the book, but that isn't really important. What I value above all else is whether a book can grab my attention and keep hold of it throughout. If a book can transport me to another place (Reevis in this case!) and make me unaware of my surroundings, then it has done what a book is meant to do!

I'm really looking forward to reading all about Miles Goram's next adventures in Jungle Green

 

 

New Year Book Tag


NEW YEAR BOOK TAG


I saw a tweet today from @KatherineSunde3 (bibliomaniacUK) talking about book challenges - how many books read in a year and I thought I'd share her tweet and talk about how my challenge had gone this year too as its a good tag to take part in over this weekend. 

This year has been a particularly rough year for me as I''ve somehow lost my reading mojo and subsequently managed to read less than 50 books. In previous years, I'd read upwards of 100 so although I do feel a bit disappointed in myself, I'm entering 2018 with a more positive frame of mind.

 






How many books are you planning to read in 2018?

 I'm going to set myself the same target for 2018 as I did in 2017 - 52. Although I didn't quite achieve it this year, I feel it is achievable next year. Hopefully I'll far surpass it as my Netgalley shelf alone is immense, not to mention my physical bookshelves!


Name five books you didn't get to read this year but want to make a priority in 2018?



Name a genre you want to read more of?


I'd really like to read more sci-fi, maybe not the really heavy stuff, but books with a more light - hearted feel I could definitely appreciate.


Three non book related goals for 2018?

To continue on my weight loss journey and to hopefully achieve my target weight by this time next year.

To remain positive whatever life throws my way.

To try to achieve one thing each day that I am proud of.

What's a book you've had forever that you still need to read?

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness


One word that you're hoping 2018 will be?

Positive

 

Tag a friend or two

 

Jules

Sam

 

 

 

Review: Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café by Richard Dee

Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café - Richard Dee

Published by:  4Star Scifi (15th June 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-0995458161

 

Source: Purchased 

 

Rating: 5*

 

Synopsis: 

 

Meet Andorra Pett; with her trusty sidekick, she’s taken over a derelict café. On a mining station. It just happens to be orbiting Saturn!

 

She’s hoping for a fresh start, away from all the drama of her old life. It’s a chance to relax and start again in a place where nobody knows anything about her or her past.

 

But the café holds a secret, and secrets have a habit of coming out; whether you want them to or not. And being accident prone doesn’t help. The more you try to pretend that you know what’s going on, the worse it gets.

 

Andorra’s plans for peace and quiet get lost amid the revelations and skulduggery and she soon realises that the fate of the whole station lies in her hapless hands.

In space, you can still trip over your feet; the question is, will you land upright?

 

Review:

When I met author Richard recently at a blogger & author get-together in Exeter, he described Andorra Pett as 'Agatha Raisin in space' and that is exactly how she comes across - quirky, funny, likeable, with a sensitive side and a heart of gold, a habit of getting into trouble and most of all a need to put her supersleuthing into action! She's adorable! Aside from Andorra, all the characters are interesting and add value to the story, from Andorra's sidekick, best friend Cy, to diner owner Munro. 

 

The book is intelligently written, professionally produced, and is a joy to read. The well thought out plot flows well, grabbing your attention and holding on tightly. There are twists and turns galore that I'd not foreseen. There is lots going on but it's so well managed that it doesn't become confusing. The complex relationships between characters add further layers to the darkness, and I love that it's all based on a mining station orbiting Saturn...this book satisfies both the crime thriller fan and the sci-fi geek in me all at once, which is fantastic! I can't wait to read Andorra's next adventures in Andorra Pett on Mars.

 

 

Review: Sculpting Amanda by Julie Sanford

Sculpting Amanda: nobody is born a victim , but they can be made one. - Julie Lynn Sanford

Self-published  (29th January 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-1520487168

 

Source:  author provided review copy

 

Rating: 3*

 

Synopsis: 

Meet Amanda Wake, starting her new job. Her only requirement is to earn enough money to buy a coveted mobile phone. Seventeen and fresh from school, she dreams of a Mills and Boon love story developing between her and her new boss. Meet Mathew Mason, A successful businessman, and Amanda’s new employer. What Amanda doesn’t know is that Mathew has aspirations too. He has an unhealthy and immoral obsession with Amanda. The job was created so that he could have better access to her. Set over the course of sixteen years we follow their journey. Amanda’s life is plagued with many unfortunate twists and turns unbeknownst to her all due to Mathew’s intervention. A dark and disturbing suspense thriller that will have the reader screaming out for a book buddy just so they can discuss the plot. Not for the faint hearted, read Sculpting Amanda if you dare.

 

Review:

The description of this book is accurate.  It's the story of Matthew's complete obsession with Amanda, to the point that he creates a job for her, organises certain things to happen and orchestrates turns of events that are at times more than a little far-fetched...but it is a work of fiction after all, so anything can happen! 

 

There are several sexual scenes in the book that make for uncomfortable reading. I obviously cannot say why without giving any of the plot away, but I will say that I consider this book unsuitable for younger readers under the age of 14. These scenes are crucial to the story, however. 

 

At the beginning of the book, Amanda is a very naïve seventeen year old but Matthew is more mysterious. We aren't given any real sense of background on either main character, but I don't feel it's really needed here as we learn all we need to during the sixteen years over which the book is set. 

 

One main point I'd like to pick up on is the poor attention to detail throughout this book. The whole book, particularly the ending, feels very rushed, as though it's not been read through after being written. The spelling, grammar and punctuation is appalling. I realise not everyone can afford to have their work professionally proofread and edited, but all computers have a spellchecker! If this had been addressed, the book would feel so much more polished. It would also be easier to read, and the reviews would be so much better. 

 

Having said that, there are some really good points here. The story grabbed my attention, I wondered what was going to happen next, and I didn't quite foresee that ending...not entirely! I'd be interested to read the author's next book at some point, and I'll definitely remember Sculpting Amanda!

 

Special thanks to Julie Sanford for providing an advanced review copy.  This is my honest review. 

 

Review: The Murderess by Jennifer Wells

The Murderess - Jennifer Wells

Published by: Aria (1st November 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-1786691088

 

Source: purchased

 

Rating: 5*

 

Synopsis: 

1931: Fifteen year old Kate witnesses her mother Millicent push a stranger from a station platform into the path of an oncoming train. There was no warning, seemingly no reason, and absolutely no remorse. 1940: Exactly nine years later, Kate returns to the station and notices a tramp laying flowers on the exact spot that the murder was committed; the identity of the victim, still remains unknown. With a country torn apart by war and her family estate and name in tatters, Kate has nothing to lose as she attempts to uncover family secrets that date back to the Great War and solve a mystery that blights her family name.

 

Review:

I am a big fan of Jennifer's debut, The Liar, so I was eagerly awaiting the opportunity to read this, her second book. The Murderess begins with teenager Kate seeing her mother push the stranger onto the train tracks. The story is narrated alternately by Kate and her mother Millicent. I found this way of getting the story across very effective. It gave me as a reader a chance to get to know what mother and daughter really thought about each other, throughout each aspect of the whole story. 

 

 This book is part historical fiction, part dark and twisty crime/psychological thriller. There are more than a few surprises, including the shocking ending! There were also things that really made me think. Jennifer writes with such intelligence, her books really are a pleasure to read. I'm looking forward to her third already! 

 

Review: Bad Sister by Sam Carrington

Bad Sister - Sam Carrington

Published by: Avon (5th October 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-0008200213

 

Source: NetGalley

 

Rating: 5*

 

Synopsis:
Then
When flames rip through their family home, only teenager Stephanie and her younger brother escape unhurt. Brett always liked to play with fire, but now their dad is dead and someone has to pay the price.

Now
Psychologist Connie Summers wants to help Stephanie rebuild her life. She has a new name, a young son and everything to live for. But when Stephanie receives a letter from someone she’d hoped would never find her, Connie is forced to question what really happened that night.
But some truths are better left alone . . .

 

Review:
I absolutely LOVED Sam's debut, Saving Sophie, so I'd been really looking forward to reading this, as soon as I'd finished reading that brilliant first book! I was really hoping Sam had lots more crackers up her sleeve and wouldn't suffer 'second album syndrome' (music is my first love!) You know, when a band has a phenomenal first album and then their second is sadly lacking that certain something that made you sit up and take notice? Anyway...I digress...and a cracker this certainly is! It's on fire!

Bad Sister is full of rich, interesting characters that leap to life off the page. Connie is fascinating and I want to go to the pub with her! Lindsay Wade is another great character, and I adore the way her and Connie interact. I hope they appear again in future books by this author as I'd love to see their relationship develop further.

The case itself is complex and disturbing and there are more than a few shocks, twists and turns, including one right at the end, which made me gasp out loud! There is plenty to get your teeth into, with flashbacks told via 'then', and present day events via various viewpoints. There is a lot going on here, but with the author's skilful writing, there's no chance to get confused; you're led exactly where you're meant to be.

Had me on the edge of my seat, got my pulse racing, and kept me guessing...ticked every box!
I received an egalley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Thanks to Avon and Sam Carrington.

Review: Easy. Whole. Vegan. by Melissa King

Published by: The Experiment (13th January 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-1615193097

 

Source: Netgalley

 

Rating: 4*

 

Description:

Vegan, whole food recipes that will help families ditch processed meals by taking the hassle out of cooking!

Review: But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan! by Kristy Turner

But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan!: 125 Recipes to Win Everyone OverPicky kids will try it, hungry adults won't miss meat, and holiday traditions can live on! - Kristy Turner

Published by: The Experiment (13th January 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-1615193424

 

Source: Netgalley

 

Rating: 5*

 

Description:

In But I Could Never Go Vegan!, Kristy Turner proved that anyone can do it - with recipes that overturn common excuses, from "Vegan cooking is too hard" to "I could never give up cheese!" But cooking vegan for the whole family presents its own challenges ...or does it? Now, the 125 recipes in But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan! will leave even the most skeptical relatives begging for more. Like its predecessor, each chapter tackles a different objection: Don't have time to cook elaborate dinners? Try an easy weeknight solution: Quick Cauliflower Curry. Worried about satisfying the "meat and potatoes" eaters? Try Lazy Vegan Chile Relleno Casserole. Cooking for picky eaters? Try the ever-adaptable BLT Spring Rolls with Avocado. Turner's cheeky, inviting tone and satisfying, easy-to-follow recipes make it more possible than ever for families to dine happily together!

 

Review:

This book is perfect for the newly vegan. The chapter headings are humerous and engaging, and the dishes are delicious and filling, enough to turn even the most carnivorous member of the family! There are meals to suit every time of day, from breakfast to supper, and everything in between, from light bites to full on meals, all your favourites veganised.

I received an advanced egalley from The Experiment via Netgalley.

Review: Sheet Pan Suppers Meatless by Raquel Pelzel

Sheet Pan Suppers Meatless: 100 Surprising Vegetarian Meals Straight from the Oven - Raquel Pelzel

Published by: Workman Publishing (13th October 2017)

 

ISBN: 978-0761189930

 

Source: Netgalley

 

Rating: 3*

 

Description:

Sheet Pan Suppers is back! This time, with 100 vegetarian recipes for satisfying, sumptuous full meals-all made on a sheet pan, and all meat-free. It's the one-pot meal reinvented with a healthy twist, and what is sure to become every busy cook's new favourite way of getting dinner on the table. There are recipes for complete meals, snacks, brunch, and even dessert, that require nothing more than a sheet pan, your oven, and Raquel Pelzel's inspired take on satisfying, delectable, vegetarian cooking. Recipes include Orzo with Pan-Roasted Tomatoes, Lemon, and Mozzarella; Loaded Chilaquiles with Baked Eggs; Super Creamy No-Boil Mac and Cheese; and more.

 

Review:

I was really interested to try some of the recipes in here as it seemed so easy to just pop the ingredients on a baking tray and stick them in the oven. Was it really that simple? Erm...no not really! Some of the recipes required you to put foil (which I don't like using) between the tray and your ingredients, which made me just want to abandon the whole tray idea and just use a pan on the hob. Then when it came to stir part-way through the cooking time, the ingredients were stuck to the foil, so it ripped. Using spray oil instead of foil would have been a whole lot easier! For some, using your own initiative when it comes to preparation makes it easier.

 

A lot of these recipes are great, for example the orzo with tomatoes and carrots with garam masala, but a lot rely heavily on dairy and eggs, so would not be suitable for anyone following a vegan diet or with high cholesterol. There is plenty of variety here for most , and many easily adaptable with a bit of thought.

 

I received an advanced egalled from Workman Publishing via Netgalley.

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