Silent Winter by Maggie James #BookReview

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On an icy November night, Drew Blackmore is beaten unconscious, then abducted. He awakes to find himself in total darkness, naked and chained to the floor. Fed just enough to keep him alive, Drew is unable to identify his captor, or the reason for his incarceration. As reality fades, hallucinations take over. Can Drew escape his prison before madness claims him?

On an icy November night, Drew Blackmore is beaten unconscious, then abducted. He awakes to find himself in total darkness, naked and chained to the floor. Fed just enough to keep him alive, Drew is unable to identify his captor, or the reason for his incarceration. As reality fades, hallucinations take over. Can Drew escape his prison before madness claims him?

Meanwhile Drew’s wife, Holly, despairing of ever seeing him again, turns to his brother for comfort. As the worst winter in decades sweeps the UK, she learns of Drew’s tragic past. Could his disappearance be connected with that of a prostitute years before?

A story of how the mind responds to solitary confinement, ‘Silent Winter’ examines one man’s desperate attempt to survive the unthinkable.

amazon uk amazon com

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This was so good! As a thriller addict this is not my first read with a captivity plot but Silent Winter is pretty different from the rest of ’em. This is an author you need to add to your list! The first part of the story is dominated by Drew’s captivity and survival, his total isolation and the consequences on his mind and body kept me on tenterhooks. Would he be found in time or not? I read about his wife Holly’s distress following his absence and there were events involving Holly and his brother Todd that made me suspicious and alert, but Drew was always in the back of my mind. Sensatory deprivation is total torture and reading about his detoriating state, which was getting worse by the minute, was described in perfect detail and pretty hard hitting. I didn’t want to know what was going to happen next but my eyes were glued to the pages just the same. Drew’s life was on the line here and even as a reader I didn’t have more answers than he had and I was in the dark as much as he was about who took him and why. 

The chapters were divided between Drew, Holly and then there were snippets of someone called The Watchman, without any doubt the bad guy in the story and I assumed his abducter. The Watchman’s identity stays very well hidden througout the story as well as his motive. There are also references to the past, when a little 7-year old boy living in dire circumstances at home was one night left behind at home all alone. This definitely scarred him for life but how is this tied to Drew? I felt it niggling in the back of my head and sensed the direction to look for answers but I still couldn’t figure it all out. It was delightful to finally see all the puzzle pieces fall into place and having that aha-moment. Very twisted and unexpected indeed.

Overall, a great read, very gripping and it left me reeling several times. Recommended!

I received a free ecopy from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.

We Should All Be Mirandas by Chelsea Fairless and Lauren Garroni #BookReview @HMHbooks

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We Should All Be Mirandas is a celebration of a certain redheaded lawyer and the legions of fans who relate to her pragmatic, no-bullshit approach to work, love, and sex. Written by two self-proclaimed Mirandas, this humorous manifesto distils Ms. Hobbes’ core principles into a strategic guide for navigating life’s inevitable ups and downs. In it, you’ll learn to:

Overcome your internalised Mirandaphobia
Cope with humiliating sexual encounters
Make Google Docs your bitch
Dump that Skipper that you’ve been dating
Embrace your bad hair days
…and so much more!

With sharp, sardonic humor and nods to the series’ most iconic moments, We Should All Be Mirandas is the perfect gift for fashionistas, pop culture mavens, and every woman who has dared to eat cake out of the garbage.

amazon uk amazon com

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star three and a half

I normally don’t read this type of non-fiction but I watched all the episodes of Sex and The City on tv many years ago and felt nostalgic. Didn’t we all secretly envy Carrie? Well did you ever stop to think that maybe you’re actually a Miranda and that being a Miranda is just as cool if not better than being a Carrie? Me neither but this little book made me change my mind radically.

The novel makes you appreciate the Miranda in you, hell it makes you love yourself a little more for whoever you are, and don’t we all need to be told once in a while that we’re amazing just the way we are (yep I do, that’s why I love Bruno Mars so much)? If you want to feel better about yourself, gloss up on that self-esteem a little bit, then this is just the medicine you need.

We Should All Be Mirandas was a fun novel and very easy to read, I made a zillion notes while reading this that I can’t possibly all share with you so you’ll have to read the novel yourself but I know you’ll be wondering ‘what is A Miranda’ exactly, and if you are one and if I am one) yourself ? Well in order to know if you are there’s a very easy to follow flow chart in the book that will give you an answer immediately. I did find out that I certainly do have some of Miranda traits (with a bit of a Charlotte rising) and I certainly know quite a few women who I recognise as a Miranda. I wonder how they’ll react when I tell them?

This cute little book takes the reader through every possible aspect you can think of, clothing advice, dating advice (types of men that can be a trap), career advice, travel, sex… well you name it and it’s covered. I found that the first part of the novel gave me a very good idea of a Miranda. These type of women are minimalists and go for natural make-up, they are blunt and sarcastic and have a mild distrust of the world, and Mirandas always wear clothes they feel comfortable in, no matter the look. In the section of types of sneakers a Miranda wears it is also clear that she wears them not as a fashion statement, but for comfort (unlike Carries). I can sooo find myself in that! Also, this one made me laugh out loud:

Mirandas have a tendency to accrue a freakish number of canvas totebags because totes have two qualities that Mirandas value very much: practicality and affordability. They’re cheap and can hold many things. Getting rid of them if they’re soiled and misshapen doesn’t happen though, one totebag is designated and all the old ones are stored inside. That’s just the Miranda way.

I also loved Mirandas take on How To Succeed in Bussiness. I’ll try to memorise the following words:

Those who put in the long, hard hours will gain a savviness that cannot be acquired by those who fake it till they make it.

I found the first part of the book to be really focused on being a Miranda, the second part was more common sense and some good advice for everyone who reads it. It’s composed of lots of How To’s and at the end of each section there are even great little recaps titled ‘What You Should Have Learned from This Chapter’. I really liked the tone of the novel and its non-judgemental way like whether you want kids or don’t want kids, each side gets support in its own self-depricating way. So what if there’s more risk of dying alone and being eaten by my own cat, as they say in the book, that’s a small price to pay for a life lived on my own terms :-).

I had a good few chuckles whilst reading this and it’s a great book to gift to a dear friend or to yourself. We Should All Be Mirandas is a novel for all women, certainly not only for Sex and The City fans!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in exchange for my honest opinion.

A Million Dreams by Dani Atkins #BookReview #Blogtour @AtkinsDani @HoZ_Books

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Beth Brandon always dreamed of owning a florist, but today the bouquets of peonies and bright spring flowers are failing to calm her nerves. Because today, Beth has a life-changing decision to share with her husband.

Izzy Vaughan thought she and her husband would stay together forever, but sometime last year, their love began to fade. They both find such joy in their young son Noah – but is he enough to keep them together?

Eight years ago, something happened to these two women. Something that is about to bring them together in a way no-one thought possible…

Purchase

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Kobo | iBooks | Google Play

Author
Dani Atkins is an award-winning novelist. Her 2013 debut FRACTURED (published as THEN AND ALWAYS in North America) has been translated into sixteen languages and has sold more than half a million copies since first publication in the UK. Dani is the author of four other bestselling novels, one of which, This Love, won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award in 2018. Dani lives in a small village in Hertfordshire with her husband, one Siamese cat and a very soppy Border Collie.

Connect

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Can I give more than 5 stars? A Million Dreams shot daggers through my heart. If you want to read a novel with heart and emotion you need to read this! I was completely lost in this novel again, just like it happened when I read This Love.

I loved that novel so I didn’t have to think twice when I saw the title of this new book and that there was a book tour being organised for it. So yes I was expecting to love it but I loved it even more than I thought, which is especially impressive given the baseline of this novel.

Now, I don’t know if anyone’s noticed it yet, but I usually stay away from novels that deal with that unfulfilled dream of having a child. I always fear that I won’t be able to experience it and feel it as deeply as someone who already has or wants to have children. Well, if there’s someone who has no problems squeezing my heart, then it’s certainly Dani Atkins.

Two women are prepared to fight for what they wanted most in life, except that it was the same dream they had. Oh the dilemma, it was excrutiating to follow and to decide on my own whose side I was on before the story told me the outcome. Alternating chapters following Beth and Izzy show their side of the story and of course the most unwelcome thing happened (winkwink), I liked both women immediately. After a while they were on opposite sides and I didn’t know who to cheer on. They were both right! How were they going to get out of this? How was this going to be solved? I actually know a real true story of a similar situation so I knew what the outcome was there and I did wonder if this would have the same one, but I had no idea how it was going to play out. Well I did say it’s an emotional story, right? It’s a story about a mother’s love that is sooo deep.

You really shouldn’t be allowed to read this novel outside of your home. A Million Dreams got me choked up as much in the beginning of the novel as at the end, and everything in between was a rollercoaster of happy, sad, hopeful, and every other feeling of the rainbow.

Enough said I think… I’m calling this one out as another winner by Dani Atkins!

I received an ecopy of this novel from the publisher, Head of Zeus, via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

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*** Follow the rest of the book tour here ⬇️ ***

A Million Dreams

Red Snow by Will Dean #BookReview

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TWO BODIES

One suicide. One cold-blooded murder. Are they connected? And who’s really pulling the strings in the small Swedish town of Gavrik?

TWO COINS

Black Grimberg liquorice coins cover the murdered man’s eyes. The hashtag #Ferryman starts to trend as local people stock up on ammunition.

TWO WEEKS

Tuva Moodyson, deaf reporter at the local paper, has a fortnight to investigate the deaths before she starts her new job in the south. A blizzard moves in. Residents, already terrified, feel increasingly cut-off. Tuva must go deep inside the Grimberg factory to stop the killer before she leaves town for good. But who’s to say the Ferryman will let her go?

amazon uk amazon com

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If you enjoyed Dark Pines, the first novel in the Tuva Moodyson series, then you’ll enjoy Red Snow too. I would recommend reading the first novel before picking this one up though, not because Red Snow gives away information about the killer in the first novel so much but it’s more that you can see who is in the clear in this novel, so if you’d read in reverse that would be a shame to know already.

Red Snow was an enjoyable read and I was submersed in the icecold atmosphere of Gavrik quickly. Its claustrophobic feel was quite overwhelming again and even though I was attracted to all the peace and quite of the small town at first, I soon understood it wasn’t a fairytale to live here and I supported Tuva’s longing to move to a warmer region and a more bustling and energetic city. Not that there’s nothing happening in Toytown…

I loved reading about the lay-out of the town and I could see with my eyes closed Ronnie’s store, the police station, Tammy’s Thai foodtruck and the Posten where Tuva works. It was easy to feel as if I was there alongside Tuva, moving among these people, and I believe I even pulled my little blankie a little closer around me, as if the cold from the novel could almost touch me (-20 degrees sounds inhuman to me to live in day in day out). The author lives in the Swedish forest himself and there’s no way someone else could translate that experience as well as he does.

It was the setting and the descriptions instead of the mystery itself that stole the show for me really, because the mystery was wrapped up in a lot of family drama. The remaining Grimbergs were a weird and peculiar family and I didn’t feel much affinity with them as I quickly worked out that they were all about keeping up appearances. They held my interest but in the end this novel felt more as a family drama or a cosy mystery than the sort of chilling thriller I was expecting. There were different people (all connected to the liquorice factory) who raised some suspicion and the snow skulls added another level of creepiness but the investigation had little to build further on. I admit I like plotlines that feel more dangerous, with lots of tension throughout. It did deliver on that part in the end, which I liked therefore best, but it held out a bit long for my liking. If you have more patience than me and don’t mind a slow burner, or if you just love the winter and wouldn’t mind moving to a cold country, well then you most definitely must read this novel.

I received a free paperback of this novel from Oneworld Publishers. This is my honest opinion.

Bookish gift ideas 2019

Christmas gift ideas for book lovers

It’s officially that time of year. Yep, it’s almost Christmas and it’s time to start looking for gifts for your loved ones (or for yourself). No need to panic though, I’ve got you covered! I’m sure you’ll find some inspiration in the bookish gift ideas I listed for you. Check these out:

GIFT IDEA 1

Etsy : book clock

Book clock

GIFT IDEA 2

Amazon UK: Roy Kirkham Creative Writing Single Breakfast Cup and Saucer

Roy Kirkham cup and saucer

GIFT IDEA 3

Amazon UK: Kikkerland Boiled Wool Bedside Pocket, 22x 28.2x 4 cm, Grey

Beside pocket

GIFT IDEA 4

Literary Emporium : Handmade Tale’s Gift Set

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The Handmaid’s Tale gift set with a t-shirt, enamel pin, book.

GIFT IDEA 5

Amazon.com: DOSS Cloud Book

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DOSS Cloud Book Wireless Portable Bluetooth 4.0 & Wi-Fi Straming Music Speaker

A great idea if you know someone who loves to listen to audiobooks in the living room. You can listen up to 12 hours before recharging.

GIFT IDEA 6

Amazon.com: Night Light

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It says night light but it’s actually a really good reading lamp too. It has a touch-actived led lamp and offers 48 combinations of brighteness and colors. You can play audiobooks from a microSD card, AUXinput or flash drive. You can wirelessly connect your kindle or other device with audiobook app. It has a 4400m AH battery so it’ll last hours and hours.

GIFT IDEA 7

Amazon UK: Word Puzzles for Mystery Lovers

Word Puzzles for Mystery Lovers

Each of the puzzles relates in some way to the wonderful world of MYSTERY NOVELS AND SHOWS.

The Double Jumbles are each based on a quote by a mystery novel writer or one of their characters. Solving these puzzles requires you to unscramble words to find the letters to complete the quote. Double Jumbles have been around for years in the comic ad puzzle section of newspapers. But these jumbles are ALL ABOUT THE MYSTERY / DETECTIVE NOVEL.

The next part offers entertaining word search puzzles, each with a mystery-based theme. To solve the puzzle, find the clues in the letter grid.

In the third section will have five crossword puzzles.

We’ve made our puzzles in large type to make them easier on the eyes. Even our solutions are in an easy-to-read format.

Oh and while you’re at it, why not add these Word Puzzles for Cat Lovers too?

Word Puzzles for Cat Lovers

GIFT IDEA 8

MX Publishing: Dear Holmes

You can become a detective now with Victorian era-mysteries sent to you by mail, or gift a mystery package to someone of course. I love the sound of this (and yes they send international)!

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Dear Holmes

GIFT IDEA 9

Etsy: Coffee and Crime Vintage Mystery Box

One-off or subscription (1 month, 3 month, 6 month and 12 month packages)

Coffee and Crime

In each box you receive:
• A newsletter which highlights upcoming releases, personal favourite reads, puzzles and more!
• Two personally selected surprise vintage mystery novels (although vintage in origin, with some signs of previous use, they will all be in good condition ).
• A sachet of luxury coffee (Great for indulging in whilst reading your latest books). Hot chocolate and tea alternatives are possible too.
• Book/Mystery related goodies, such as notebooks, tote bags, coasters and more!

GIFT IDEA 10

The Literary Tea Company: Agatha Christie Inspired Teas

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GIFT IDEA 11

 

The Booktaster: Christmas Inspired Taster Box

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Included:

A festive inspired handpicked by ‘The Book Taster’
Unique ‘Tasting Card’ – providing tasting notes about the book to wet the reader’s appetite.
A personalised book themed note-card to the recipient
A unique The Book Taster Bookshelf Bookmark
A delicious 100g bar of Christmas Creighton’s Chocolaterie (May contain traces of nuts.)
A selection of Joe’s Tea Company Matchbox Tea Bags
A gorgeous 50g Cinnamon & Orange Clovelly Bar Soap
A beautiful Cinnamon and Orange Votive Candle by The Clovelly Soap Company

GIFT IDEA 12

Crimibox: Missing in Jericho 

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A little heads up, I’ll probably post about the Crimibox at a later time again because I ordered a box from this site (for Dutch readers there are also 5 physical and 2 digital Crimiboxes available in Dutch and I ordered one of these and I’ll receive it in December). The Jericho case (for now the only one in English) is a digital case.

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So, did you see anything you like? Let me know in the comments! Do check out my previous posts: 2018 gift ideas,  2017 gift ideas and 2016 gift ideas.

The Postcard Murder by Paul Worsley QC #BlogTour @midaspr #PaulWorsley #ThePostcardMurder

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Welcome to my stop for The Postcard Murder – A Judge’s Tale by Paul Worsley QC and thanks so much to MidasPR for the invitation to join this blog tour! I have an extract to share with you today but first check out how great this novel sounds.

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It may be of some satisfaction to you, Gentlemen of the Jury, to know that you have been engaged in one of the most remarkable trials that is to be found in the annals of the Criminal Courts of England. Mr Justice Grantham, Judge at the Old Bailey

This is a vintage whodunit set in Edwardian London at a crossroads in time, as social revolution and psychiatry posed new questions for the Law and for the first time the Media were co-opted to run a killer to ground.

The year is 1907: 22-year-old Emily Dimmock lies murdered in her Camden Town flat, her head all but severed from her body. With not a thread or stain or fingerprint to point to the perpetrator, a young artist is manouevred into the shadow of the scaffold.

The tale is told verbatim by witnesses presided over by the author, who draws on his own experience as a Judge at the Old Bailey to get inside the mind of the outspoken but irresolute Mr Justice Grantham. The result is as compelling today as it is definitive of the era in which the murder was committed.

amazon uk amazon com

Author

Paul Worsley was for ten years a judge at the Old Bailey, where the Postcard Murder was tried. He now lives in rural North Yorkshire, where as a practising QC most of his murder cases took place. The Postcard Murder is the first in a series of books in which he gets into the mind of the trial judge in order to lay bare Justice as it was understood and dispensed in the manner of the day.

Extract

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*** Follow the rest of the tour here ***

Paul Worsley QC (1)

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia #BookReview @HMHbooks

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A handsome stranger. A dead billionaire. A citywide treasure hunt. Tuesday Mooney’s life is about to change…forevermore.

Tuesday Mooney is a loner. She keeps to herself, begrudgingly socializes, and spends much of her time watching old Twin Peaks and X-Files DVDs. But when Vincent Pryce, Boston’s most eccentric billionaire, dies—leaving behind an epic treasure hunt through the city, with clues inspired by his hero, Edgar Allan Poe—Tuesday’s adventure finally begins.

Puzzle-loving Tuesday searches for clue after clue, joined by a ragtag crew: a wisecracking friend, an adoring teen neighbor, and a handsome, cagey young heir. The hunt tests their mettle, and with other teams from around the city also vying for the promised prize—a share of Pryce’s immense wealth—they must move quickly. Pryce’s clues can’t be cracked with sharp wit alone; the searchers must summon the courage to face painful ghosts from their pasts (some more vivid than others) and discover their most guarded desires and dreams.

amazon uk amazon com

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When I clocked the novel Tuesday Mooney talks to Ghosts and its blurb, I was sold right away. It was the treasure hunt with clues sprinkled all over the city mentioned in the blurb that made me very excited to read this novel right away. I was beyond thrilled when I was invited to read the book then not long afterwards. With perfect timing because I wanted to read something fun and light this week. This seemed like a YA novel to me at first, at least that’s the impression I had based on the cover and blurb but Tuesday is 30 years old, she has a job as a researcher and she has real grown up problems, like the grief she feels for the people she misses, Abby and her parents, so much so that she’s trying to keep everyone at arm’s length.

The ghostly part of the story worried me a little bit but I hoped all the sleuthing around would make up for it. Surprisingly, the voice of Abby Hobbes, Tuesday’s best friend who went missing 16 years earlier when they were both still teenagers, and whose witty comments accompany Tuesday sometimes, didn’t bother me at all. I really loved how the author kept it all very much in the air whether she was a ghost or conjured up by Tuesday and I felt comfortable with both explanations so I wasn’t disappointed at all in the end. It also helped that Tuesday was realistic enough to question her own sanity at times but listened to and embraced Abby’s thoughts at the same time. That little mystery was brilliantly done as were the multiple other mysteries and surprising twists sprinkled throughout the novel.

It wasn’t all play and games though, with two missing people in the novel for years, a year-long feud between families, and the death of parents, it is more than just good fun. Grief and coping with loss are just a few of the important themes in this novel and I very much enjoyed the message of being yourself in the end as well.

I enjoyed the cast of characters, Tuesday, her best gay friend Dex, sixteen-year old Dorry and Nathaniel who seeks her help to win the game, and the complexitiy they all bring to the story with their own individual struggles. I did find Archie a bit confusing a name at some times because with Arches as a surname I often had to read it twice to check who we were talking about, him or another member of his family. I found the quirky characters a little over the top at times too, but they always remained interesting.

The ending was full of adventure and action, the discovery of Vincent Pryce’s richness and other secrets revealed was grand, sensational and majestic and very very movie worthy.

So, this novel is drama, mystery, romance (just a pinch) and a thriller all balled into one book. It works though, I liked every genre represented and they all blended perfectly together. This book was perfect escapism. If you enjoyed reading A Semi-Definitive List of Possible Nightmares, you’ll enjoy this one too!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing. This is still my honest opinion.