The Sacrifice by Alec Caruso #BookReview

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What’s it about?

London, England. Dr. Ted Conway has committed suicide. A case that should be easily closed.

After a forced break, Detective Inspector Rei Yoshima is thrust back into work, overseeing the suicide of Dr. Conway, only to discover that things with this case is not what it seems to be.

Trying to determine the unforeseeable truths from hidden lies, clues start finding their way together. As the case begins to unravel, it forces Yoshima into a whirlwind of discoveries, sending her to Cologne, Germany.

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star three and a half

The Sacrifice is the first novel in an exciting new detective series and the story flicks between two different teams of detectives, each one operating in another country. DI Rei Yoshima is partnered with newbie Liam Nolan at The Criminal Investigative Department in London and 500 miles further Müller and Morgan work for the Cologne Police Department. While this might seem plenty to follow, the chapters are short and snappy so it turned out to be easy to read instead and wasn’t confusing at all. Müller and Morgan are investigating the deaths of a man and a woman found murdered in their apartment. Yoshima and her partner’s investigation into a suspicious death puts them into contact with their colleagues in Germany and before you know it they have joined forces which created a good dynamic for the story.  I still felt that Yoshima was the real lead detective of the foursome though, the one who brings the most input to the table and she’s the one to be reckoned with the most. The investigation progressed logically and was well-paced. It defiantly let the story flow nicely when the investigators get new ideas and continually follow up on new leads.

The plot had me second guessing for the largest part of the novel and was well thought out. A few details were relevant but it was impossible to detect their importance to the plot. All through the story I was wondering what those newspaper articles and references to Syria have to do with the story but the truth is only slowly revealed. The Sacrifice also ends with a satisfying climax. I love it when everything starts to fall into place. In the final 30 pages I was hit by a whirlwind of revelations and actions and I kept thinking there wouldn’t be enough pages left to wound the story up but the author left no loose ends, safe one or two. You see, all through the novel Yoshima seems to operate at the back and call of a man called Gabriel, a shady criminal type. It is however never explained who he is or why he has such a hold on her, which only makes me wonder even more what their story is and yes, it’s perfect to make me want to read the second book in the series to find out.

I did feel the blurb didn’t give much away and the cover jacket of the novel is even shorter so I really didn’t know what to expect. Unfortunately this caused me to leave this book lying around way too long and I’m almost ashamed to say that I picked The Sacrifice up twice before I finally started reading it. Every time I started it I put it back down again when I flipped it open to the first page and saw the opening chapter of a newspaper article reporting about the Syrian refugee crises. I want to read so I can escape everyday’s misery and that must be why I wasn’t really attracted or captivated from the start, but I can reassure everyone that there’s no politics involved and it turned out to be a different and better story than I expected so we really started on the wrong footing and I urge everyone who has The Sacrifice in their hands not to pin it down to that first chapter. Overall I can conclude this was a good read and credible debut.

I received a free paperback copy of this novel from the author (you can also read the guestpost I posted earlier here). This is my honest opinion.


Exposure by Tracy Ewens #BookReview

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What’s it about?

If only life were as simple as smiling for the camera.

After years of braving the Arctic’s frigid temperatures or endless hours tracking the Spirit Bear to capture the perfect shot for National Geographic, Meg Jeffries decides to move back to the city—San Francisco. She wants a life with more stability. The kind that lets her see her family more than once a year and comes with owning a toaster or a full-sized tube of toothpaste. But creating her new “ normal” is not without its obstacles. Meg is confident and successful behind a camera. A little extra publicity can’t change that… until it does.

Westin Drake is famous for fast cars and box office sales. Yet he’s a terrible driver and secretly hopes his fifteen minutes is almost up. West moved from Los Angeles to San Francisco, looking for some substance and time near his family. But now that the buzz of his next film, Full Throttle – Floor It, is hitting maximum fervor, West keeps everyone at arm’s length so he can protect the people he loves… until he can’t.

When the public mistakes a simple kiss on the cheek for a budding romance, Meg and West are caught in a media frenzy. Somewhere amid the backseat getaways and plastered smiles, Meg discovers the man behind the glossy photographs, and West wonders how he’ll ever let her go once the cameras stop rolling. Love is never simple, especially when the world’s watching. How much are two people willing to expose for a chance at a true happily ever after?

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star three and a half

Throw two opposites together and you get.. a very enticing story. The people in this story are two sides of a coin, she is used to being free, alone, breathing in fresh air, he is used to the flash of the cameras wherever he is. Can you see the hurdle there? OK I could spot it a mile away but what’s life (in books) without a little drama, too damn easy I’d say. So I’m not complaining that there were maybe-probably-definitely some big choices to be made here. I was very curious to see how their interest in each other was going to develop… would they give love a chance when it would also imply that one of them had to make a life-changing choice. Were they going to make it? I wouldn’t bet any money on it when I started to read this anyway but you never know…

Meg has led the most interesting life looking through her camera lens, capturing the most amazing wildlife in faraway countries. Reading about her encounters with bears etc made me just dream away. West is an A-list actor and in a few months he’ll shoot movie number 5 of the Full Throttle series. He’s more than a pretty face though even if nobody is interested in that.

She’s been living her life in her own little bubble so Meg doesn’t know who he is when she meets him at the Climate Wellness Symposium where she’s the key speaker and he has to introduce her. They hit it off right away and they’ll be seeing each other a lot more when they make a business deal for the presentation of more climate awareness projects together. They start to really like each other’s company but is there really a future for them ahead when they lead so very different lives?

She: Do I look polished? (..) He: No. (…) She: What image do I project then?

Spring, he thought, or the rich colors of the hills afer a deep all-dry rain. She looked alive and somehow despite her work, she didn’t notice the world could be a dreary place. 

Probably best to keep that to himself.

She’s like a breath of fresh air for him and I can totally see the appeal of this strong and independent woman. He – I like to think he reminds me of Paul Walker – is a good guy who has an eye for detail and appreciates the art in the city. Yes he’s a celebrity and has bodyguards and all that but he comes from a normal family and maintaining a level of normality and looking after his family still mean everything to him.

This was an enjoyable and sweet romance but I didn’t have any heart-melting moments like I always have with my number one author. It was great to see them bond at one moment over the fact that they’re both the youngest of the family. There were definitely some highlights in the story and I really liked that they found redeeming qualities in each other and it wasn’t just a flash of physical attraction, but I still wasn’t swooned by their story like I wanted. I think it was a good read overall but it isn’t a really memorable one for me.

This novel was included in my one-month subscription Bookworm box (May edition) and this is my honest opinion.

The Secret by Katerina Diamond #BookReview

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What’s it about?

Can you keep a secret? Your life depends on it…

When Bridget Reid wakes up in a locked room, terrifying memories come flooding back – of blood, pain, and desperate fear. Her captor knows things she’s never told anyone. How can she escape someone who knows all of her secrets?

As DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles search for Bridget, they uncover a horrifying web of abuse, betrayal and murder right under their noses in Exeter.

And as the past comes back to haunt her, Grey must confront her own demons. Because she knows that it can be those closest to us who hurt us the most…

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star three and a half

This is the second novel in the DS Imogen Grey detective series. I didn’t read the first novel, The Teacher, but this can be read as a standalone without a problem. I did think  that I missed an important piece of information at first when I learned that unnerving things happened in the past to Imogen, which resulted in her having big scars on her body. It was a mystery to me how she got those and I was under the assumption that this was a thread from the first novel but all of it is actually explained near the end of this novel through flashbacks and the author is actually working her way towards these events.

The story opens almost immediately with a gripping scene where a girl walks in on the body of her dead friend and from thereon the rollercoaster took off on high speed. The author weaves one BIG web with multiple plotlines running both in the present and the past. It was a little bit confusing at first when there was a time shift and Imogen suddenly had another partner called Sam. It’s only that he also appears in the present which was why I had to think hard which investigation I was following again. A bit confusing the first few times but the further into the story, the clearer both separate storylines were and it became easier to switch and understand the who’s who and what’s what.

The present storyline follows Imogen Grey and her partner Adrian Myles who are looking into the disappearance of a missing police officer. Sam Brown is the girl’s boyfriend and as I said, he was also Imogen’s old partner. Imogen definitely has issues with him but it’s a bit of a blind spot why she’s got it in for him. Something major must have happened two years ago that caused her to relocate but it’s a mystery what it is. The story becomes even more complex when it becomes obvious the present case is in some ways linked to the past. Even if I’d wish to do so, I couldn’t even set out the storylines because they’re so complex I can’t recount them in a clear and organised way. Let me just tell you that it’s all one big hot mess and there are some major reveals at the end. Oh and then there are also ‘just a few’ other threads: the missing girl’s inner thoughts (which scenes I grew to really enjoy because she tries to hold it together and I was rooting that they’d find her so bad in the end), the boy who is groomed by his father to follow in his footsteps in the past and his voice in the present, an attack on a family to get to their baby, an abduction of a child, and Adrian’s son’s request to look into his stepdad… If you’re wishing for a complex story that is fascinating on its own but even better when all of it comes together in the end, then this one’s definitely recommended.

I enjoyed the convoluted story and twists but I did feel it was sometimes a bit all over the place and I really had to keep paying attention every single minute of the story. This is not a story to sit back and relax, no you have to be wide awake not to miss a thing. I’m not really used to it being this ‘much’ so this certainly made a big change. The only other thing that I want to remark and which might have bothered me just a teensy bit was that I didn’t really feel Imogen’s instant attraction to one of the bad guys and I thought her reaction towards him when provoked wasn’t ok. I felt better at the end of the story about it but she wasn’t really acting very professionally in that instance and that made me like her just a bit less in that moment. I like a detective who I can look up to and who’s a rough diamond white pit but she has a dark side herself and discovering this came as a little shock to me.

To round it all up I can conclude that this was a ‘wild ride’ but I felt quite satisfied in the end!

Cause of Death by Peter Ritchie #BookReview

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What’s it about?

DCI Grace Macallan’s career has hit a serious roadblock. When a covert police operation in Northern Ireland goes badly wrong, she’s faced with a painful decision – lie to save a young officer’s career or tell the truth and ruin her own reputation. For Grace, there can be only one answer.

Reassigned to the newly formed Lothian & Borders Major Crime Team, Grace Macallan is forced to rebuild her career and her reputation. But when a brutal attack on a prostitute turns into a series of murders, the Major Crime Team is under serious pressure. The tabloid headlines are lurid and the team badly needs a result.

With a new life to build in a new city, a new boss as smooth as an 18-year-old malt and a very high profile lawyer as the chief suspect, Grace soon begins to wonder if telling the truth is always the right thing to do.

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Hellooo gorgeous cover! It really was the cover that did it. I saw another blogger was reading this and I thought this cover was so tantalizing, I just wanted to read it without even knowing fully well what it was about!

Cause of Death took a slow start for me, especially if you are used to detectives getting involved into new cases a few pages into a novel. This was not the case as Peter Richie took its time showing first how everything works at the station where Grace finds herself on her first day and he explains where she is coming from and why she had no choice but to ask for a transfer. It wasn’t always easy for me to understand the language and references to the situation in Northern Ireland being a foreign reader (I’d never heard of ‘peelers’ before just to name one) but I do now! It did stump my enjoyment a little bit though that I wasn’t in on the lingo.

The writer, Mr. Peter Ritchie, is a retired senior police officer and his extensive expertise is dripping from the pages. It feels like he was there, like this is all very authentic. Cause of Death reads like a true crime novel, a police procedural turned real. It was interesting to see the interaction between detectives Grace, Mick and O’Connor, the politics in the office and outside. I really liked old-school copper Mick with a drinking problem but who got results nonetheless.

If you like to read a ‘true to life’ detective novel you might want to check this one out. Personally, I think I like the more romanticized versions, but don’t let that stop you!

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

One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton #BookReview

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Milly loves her sisters more than anything – they are her best friends. But this holiday is different. The loss of their dad has left a gaping hole in their lives that none of them know how to fill. Heartbreak is a hard thing to fix …

Still, there is plenty to keep the girls busy in Rome. A family wedding. Food, wine, parties and sun. And of course Luke …. Luke is hot, there is no way around that. And Milly will always have a crush on him. But this summer is about family, being together, and learning to live without Dad. It isn’t about Luke at all … is it?

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star three and a half

Three sisters and their mother are going on vacation.. a happy occasion, a wedding, in the land of ‘amore’, Italy. This sounds like the perfect light summer reading and it is, the atmosphere, the people in Italy, the food, the sights, the Trevi fountain.. it was all easily imaginable and what’s more, it made me want to be there!

There’s only one thing that’s obvious right from the start of this novel, this family is dealing with the grief of losing someone. They all deal with it in their own way. I was happy to see that it didn’t weigh the story down at all though, it wasn’t written in a depressing way but more through the sharing of funny stories and reminiscing about their father. Even when hearing about the good and joyous things, you can feel how someone is missed so much. He seemed such a nice man and a good father. He was the life of any party, he listened to his daughters, he was the jokey dad, he wasn’t there anymore but through everything that was said it was easy to feel the emptiness he left behind.

Dad was sunshine and music and laughter.

I really liked this little family, the three sisters looking out for each other. I felt Leonie was sometimes more mature than Milly even though she was the youngest. I liked Luke as well, allthough I didn’t feel like I really got to know him. But he’s a good guy and someone who doesn’t go running from someone else’s grief. He knows what to say, he knows how to listen.

Maybe this wedding won’t be such a horrible event after all?

One Italian Summer was a very enjoyable and perfect summery read. There was room for much more than just the romance part and it was just as much about all the other family dynamics and relationships.

I received a free copy of this novel from my great blogger friend Nicki from the blog SecretLibrary. This is my honest opinion.

Close to Home by Robert Dugoni #BookReview

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What’s it about?

While investigating the hit-and-run death of a young boy, Seattle homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite makes a startling discovery: the suspect is an active-duty serviceman at a local naval base. After a key piece of case evidence goes missing, he is cleared of charges in a military court. But Tracy knows she can’t turn her back on this kind of injustice.

When she uncovers the driver’s ties to a rash of recent heroin overdoses in the city, she realizes that this isn’t just a case of the military protecting its own. It runs much deeper than that, and the accused wasn’t acting alone. For Tracy, it’s all hitting very close to home.

As Tracy moves closer to uncovering the truth behind this insidious conspiracy, she’s putting herself in harm’s way. And the only people she can rely on to make it out alive might be those she can no longer trust.

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star three and a half

I’m a big fan of detective Tracy Crosswhite and the three other members of her team (Faz, Del and Kins) working as one of the Seattle homicide teams and I was super happy to see this fifth new novel coming out!

The Trapped Girl, the fourth installment in the Tracy Crosswhite series was such a cracking read, I knew in advance it would be a hard one to match. Close To Home was definitely a strong novel and an enjoyable read but I have to admit, it didn’t have the same waw-factor. Probably part of the reason I didn’t feel the the same thrill was that I expected it to be more alike and Mr. Dugoni took quite a different approach with his new novel. Close To Home was much more police procedural than thriller, taking everything from fighting over jurisdiction to interviewing people on the witness stand in the court room and processing evidence. Even though this change took some getting used to, his writing still was as detailed and sharp as ever.

There are two plotlines in this novel that pretty much alternate, one involving an investigation into a hit and run which finds its way into the navy and the other plotline focuses on one of the team members, it is a rather personal one for Del. His niece of 15 years old died of a heroin overdose and he wants to find whoever provided her with the drugs. Mr. Dugoni delved into the many problems involving this addiction. He’s really going deeply into the issue, explaining why it became so epidemic and he even makes a plea for a safe location to use. It’s something that Del is very much opposed to, seeing what it did to his niece but then a friend who lost her son as well says she probably wouldn’t have lost him if he could have done it in a controlled environment and he starts to feel slightly differently. It’s controversial and it definitely makes you want to think about it and come to your own conclusions.

The navy setting was a completely new scene for me and although I’m not attracted to these kind of scenes in books or movies per se, he wrote about it in such a way that it did get me interested and I have a better picture now of some of its inner workings than before. There isn’t much to say about Leah Battles, who works there, though. The idea was to throw suspicion her way and cause doubt about the fact that she tampered with evidence or not but I strongly felt she didn’t. I’ll leave it in the middle if she did or didn’t do it ;-).

I’ve come to love Tracy’s tenaciousness and in this novel it’s no different, even when the case was in peril of being lost to her, she didn’t give up trying to find the person responsible, even if it gets quite dangerous for herself. As usual, this series has delicious banter and digs among the team members, which I’ve come to love about this series, and I was relieved it wasn’t any different in this novel.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Here’s also the link to my previous reviews of The Trapped Girl and My Sister’s Grave.


The Hooker and the Hermit by L.S. Cosway and Penny Reid #BookReview

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What’s it about?

New York’s Finest – Blogging as *The Socialmedialite* – April 22

LADIES AND GENTS! I have an announcement!
You know that guy I featured on my blog a few months ago? The really, really hot Irish rugby player who plays the position of ‘hooker’ in the RLI (Rugby League International)? The one with the anger management issues, the body of a gladiator and the face of a movie star? The one with the questionable fashion choices leading me to ask whether he was the lovechild of a leprechaun and a hobbit? Ronan Fitzpatrick? Yeah, that guy. Well, I have a confession to make…

Annie Catrel, social media expert extraordinaire at Davidson & Croft Media and clandestine celebrity blogger, can make anyone shine in the court of public opinion. She is the Socialmedialite, anonymous creator of New York’s Finest and the internet’s darling. Virtual reality is Annie’s forte, but actual reality? Not so much.

Ronan Fitzpatrick, aka the best hooker the world of rugby has seen in decades, despises the media—social or otherwise. The press has spun a web of lies depicting him as rugby’s wild and reckless bad boy. Suspended from his team, Ronan has come to Manhattan to escape the drama, lay low, fly under the radar. Only, Ronan isn’t easy to overlook, and he can’t escape the notice of the Socialmedialite…

When Ronan is sent to Davidson & Croft Media to reshape his public image, he never expects to cross paths with shy but beautiful Annie, nor does he expect his fierce attraction to her. He couldn’t be happier when her boss suggests pairing them together.
What lengths will Annie take to keep her virtual identity concealed? And what happens when the hooker discovers who the hermit really is?

The Hooker and the Hermit is a collaboration between authors L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid, is a full length 110k word novel, and is a standalone

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I adored Six of Hearts by L.S. Cosway and that novel even made it into my top 10 reads of last year because of how original and hot it was so I really wanted to read another novel by L.H. Cosway and I went back to read the first one, The Hooker and the Hermit, which she’s co-written with Penny Reid. Of course I’ve had it on my e-reader for so long that I didn’t remember what it was about and it seems I had a bit of a misconception about the title there.. It’s not often but this time it would have been a good idea to read the blurb :-), just saying.

I absolutely loved the first half of the novel but then I got the feeling the second part wasn’t exactly in line with the first one. At first it was so incredibly witty and really funny as hell and I recognized myself even a little bit in the hermit that Annie Catrel was. What’s more, nobody knows she blogs (don’t I know it) as The Socialmedialite where she spouts her unabashed opinion about popular celebrities. This is what she likes to do most, this is where she can be herself. She doesn’t hold back in her comments on clothing styles and only days after she featured a Colin Farell lookalike on the blog and made fun of his lycra shorts and toe-shoes (really, who wears that ?!) she meets him in real life and HE sets his sights on her.

This novel is filled with quite a few clichés, like shy girl who falls for a famous guy and he of course finds a way to get her to come out of her shell. There’s the crappy childhood and the inevitable commitment issues. It was kind of predictable but even that didn’t bother me all that much. I also really liked their budding romance.. Ronan is deliciously foul-mouthed and he’s not afraid to push her bounderies and make her blush again and again, going further by being very suggestive every time they meet and have to talk business.

All was well, it was definitely getting hotter by the minute.. and then the story takes on some sort of 50 shades of grey shape (complete with safe words although they were funnier than in the original version, luckily there wasn’t a contract, at least in that sense) and the cute feel of the novel was stumped immediately. Gone were the jokes and the tension. I didn’t know what I was expecting but this wasn’t it. Annie didn’t feel like the Annie I got to know anymore and I’m not only talking about her nympho tendencies but also because she seemed so composed in the beginning and suddenly she’s anything but collected.

What started out as a really funny read didn’t end in the same way for me but if you like it funny but you don’t mind some bdsm later on, you should definitely read this one. I’m still happy I read one of her later novels and I think it’s wise to leave the earlier work and pick up again with the sequel to Six of Hearts (Macabre Magic #Hearts 1.5 and Hearts of Fire #Hearts 2).