Femmeuary Reads

I had such a great month of reading in February – I stuck to my pledge of only reading books by women, as part of Lauren and The Books’ Femmeuary (see this post if you have no idea what I’m on about). I managed to read five four star reads and one five star books – I’ve felt more motivated to read than I have in a long, long time. May this reading streak continue! 

How to be Human: The Manual by Ruby Wax (Penguin) – 4/5  


This is a warm and witty look at mental health; accessible and informative it discusses twelve elements, from evolution to addiction. In tone and content, I found this quite similar to her previous books Sane New World and Mindfulness for the Frazzled, however I thought the structure of it was great and really enjoyed the discussions between the monk and the neuroscientist. At the end of each chapter, each topic is dissected, looking at how the mind works, mindfulness and more scientifically, the brain. If you’re looking for a light-hearted book at why we behave in certain ways, this one is for you.

The Road Home by Rose Tremain (Vintage) – 4/5


A book about courage, belonging, determination, love and family. I was nervous going into The Road Home, as last year The Gustav Sonata by Tremain was one of my favourite books and I hoped that this would live up to expectations. I’m pleased to say it did – I absolutely loved it. Rose Tremain creates characters that are intricate and three-dimensional, ones that you care about and also ones that at times you hate. There was only one plot point that jarred with me – no spoilers here, but on reflection I can see why Rose Tremain included it, however the point in question seemed so out of character for the book’s main man (Lev) that I thought I was a little unnecessary.

Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary by Anita Anand (Bloomsbury) – 4/5


Sophia Duleep Singh was born into Indian royalty. Her father, Maharajah Duleep Singh, was heir to the Kingdom of the Sikhs, one of the greatest empires of the Indian subcontinent. My Mum got me this book for Christmas and I’d saved it to read to coincide with it being 100 years since (some) women got the vote and woman’s suffrage. At times this is quite dense, but never unenjoyable, to read – it is rich with description and character, so much so that you get a true flavour of what Sophia was like, her priorities and her lifestyle. I learnt so much from this book. Ultimately it is about a strong, independent and revolutionary female that I’d previously not heard of.

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray (Aster) – 4/5


A fresh look at alcohol addiction and the joy sobriety can bring, as well as understanding why society has a negative view of staying sober. This was in no way condescending, or preachy, instead Catherine Gray provides information – and her story – and lets you make your own mind up. It tells the tale of her booze-fuelled twenties and how hitting rock bottom allowed her to start living her life again. It is a super quick, and enjoyable read, which definitely made me question my health and my alcohol consumption. 

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (Blackfriars) – 4/5


This novel opens with such a punchy first line – “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” after reading this, I was hooked and raced through this novel in two short sittings. Everything I Never Told You is about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio; it explores family dynamics, racial tension, and the pressures children can face from parents. Ultimately, it is about discovering who we, and our families, really are and why we behave the way we do. Ng’s writing is beautiful, filled with tension and tenderness – I’ve now got her second book, Little Fires Everywhere high-up on my TBR list.

The Unseen World by Liz Moore (Windmill Books) – 5/5


Where do I start? This was, without doubt, my standout novel for the month. It follows Ada Sibelius, an intelligent young girl who has been raised by David, her brilliant, eccentric, socially inept single father, who directs a computer science lab. Set in multiple eras (1980s and 2009), early on in the novel Ada realises David is forgetting things – the book is her quest to discover her father’s past and piece together his life. It is emotional, quirky and intense – it won’t be for everything, but for me it was incredible. A full review will follow shortly, once I’ve managed to put how much I enjoyed it into words.


January Reads: Overcoming my reading slump

At the start of the year I vowed to get over my reading slump and back into my books. I know I’ve said it a lot, but the last part of the year felt really lacklustre with my reading – there was lots I wanted to read, but nothing that I could really muster the attention span for. BUT, I’m pleased to report that I AM BACK ON IT.

Before the new year rung in, I organised my books (helped of course by a new bookshelf…) and dug out a few new releases I wanted to read during January.

The Child Finder by Rene Denfield (W&N) – 3/5


This was an easy, and enjoyable, crime read – it follows Naomi Cottle who finds missing children. When the police have given up their search and an investigation stalls, families call her. A little predictable in places, but it was a nice, easy book to start the year on.

The Confession by Jo Spain (Quercus) – 4/5


This is an explosive psychological thriller; a real cat and mouse read that leaves you flitting between perspectives, characters and storylines. I was addicted from the first page – my full review, for the blog tour, can be read here.

Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit (Orion) – 3/5


The premise of this book is better than the actual storyline – how far would you go for your family, to ensure their safety? It is definitely more of a slow-burning literary thriller, than a fast-paced fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants thriller. It left me wanting more and in truth, just a little disappointed.

After You by JoJo Moyes (Penguin) – 3/5


I took this on holiday with me as I wanted a light-hearted, easy read. Having read Me Before You in one sitting about five years ago, I thought it was about time I got round to reading After You. This was a great holiday read, and I enjoyed it, but it definitely didn’t pack as much of a punch as the first in the series.

The Coroner’s Daughter by Andrew Hughes (Black Swan) – 3/5


It took me a little while to get into this historical novel, but nonetheless it was a quirky, enjoyable read with a pithy, curious woman at its heart. This is a dark, gory tale about The Coroner of Dublin’s daughter and her inquisitive mind. It had a good amount of twists and turns to keep me interested, but it lacked a bit of oomph – I didn’t feel particularly invested in the characters.

Blog Tour: The Confession by Jo Spain (Quercus Books)

#BlogTour #TheConfession #BookReview

Welcome to my stop on The Confession blog tour.

About the Book:


Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear. It looks like Harry’s many sins – corruption, greed, betrayal – have finally caught up with him.

An hour later the intruder, JP Carney, hands himself in, confessing to the assault. The police have a victim, a suspect in custody and an eye-witness account, but Julie remains troubled.

Has Carney’s surrender really been driven by a guilty conscience or is this confession the first calculated move in a deadly game?

Published in hardback: 25th January 2018 / EBook: 11th January 2018
Author: Jo Spain
Publisher: Quercus Books

My thoughts:

This is an explosive psychological thriller; a real cat and mouse read that leaves you flitting between perspectives, characters and storylines. I started reading this late one night and was completely addicted, I had to force myself to put it down so I could get some sleep.

From the first page, we know who the killer is, but it isn’t until the last that we find out why. I loved this concept, as it flipped the usual murder mystery on it’s head – Jo Spain delved into the back-stories and lives of the characters, unravelling their pasts to help us understand what really happened. It provided the book with a dark storyline that reels you in.

At the heart of this novel is Harry McNamara, his wife Julie and their dysfunctional marriage. It highlights that often it is not all as it seems on the surface; we shouldn’t be too quick to judge. Throughout, the characters are well-developed, wonderfully dark, complex and so dislikable. With many twists and turns, I found myself second guessing what had happened, realising at the end I was completely wrong – when I reached the last page I had to take some time to absorb it all.

The Confession is such a great read; it grips you from the get-go and pulls you in. I promise, if you like thrillers you’ll be up all night wanting to read just a little bit more…

About the Author:


Jo Spain’s first novel, top ten bestseller With our Blessing, was one of seven finalists in the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller Competition 2015. It was named as an Irish Times crime fiction book of the year by Declan Burke. Beneath the Surface (2016) and Sleeping Beauties (2017), the second and third in the DI Tom Reynolds series followed, to further critical acclaim. Her standalone thriller, The Confession, will be released January 2018.

A graduate of Trinity College Dublin, Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and their four young children. Jo previously worked as a policy advisor in the Irish parliament and as vice-chair of the business body InterTrade Ireland.

Jo’s debut novel is set against a background of the infamous Irish Magdalene Laundries and Mother and Baby homes. The author’s own father was born in one such home in Dublin and the novel’s backdrop was constructed based on the in-depth research she undertook while attempting to trace her family roots.

Her favourite writers include Pierre LeMaitre, Fred Vargas, Louise Penny, Jo Nesbo, Ann Cleeves, B.A. Paris, Elizabeth Haynes and Agatha Christie.

You can read the other posts on the blog tour here:

The Confession Blog Tour Poster Final.jpg



Blog Tour: Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir (Orenda Books)

Hello and welcome to another blog tour! Today I’m taking part in the tour for Snare by Icelandic author Lilja Sigurdardóttir (translated by Quentin Bates). Thank you to Orenda Books for sending me an advanced copy and to Anne Cater for setting up the tour.

About the book:


After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies. Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath of the Icelandic financial crash. Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

Paperback: 276 pages
Publisher: Orenda Books

My thoughts:

I love Iceland as a location for crime novels, so I was already excited about this one before I picked it up. The novel focuses on the drug trade in the country, as Sonia is caught up in smuggling drugs to make end meets as a single Mother. Told in short chapters the story has multiple narrators, changing perspective frequently, which is something I absolutely love – it keeps me hooked, interested and invested in a story.

I really enjoyed the different characters in Snare, from Sonia’s strength and straightforward thinking, to Bragi, the Customs Officer’s, warmth. For such a short book it certainly packs a punch – it’s fast-paced, concise and engaging from the first page. Full of tension and threat – particularly when Sonia travels through customs with a stash of drugs on her – Sigurdardóttir’s writing makes us look at what sacrifices we would make for family as well as questioning if we ever truly know the people we love. It shows us how ordinary people act differently when thrown into extraordinary circumstances in life.

The film rights have been bought for it and I can’t wait to see the creative treatment it receives. If you’re looking for a quick but compelling crime read, full of complex characters then check this one out (and read it before the movie comes out). I can’t wait to see what’s next in the series.

Verdict: 4/5

About Lilja:

Lilja Sigurðard.

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

You can catch the other posts on the blog tour here:


I was very kindly sent an advanced copy of Snare in exchange for an honest, fair and unbiased review. Thank you Orenda Books. 

Blog Tour: The House by Simon Lelic (Penguin UK/ Viking)

Hello, welcome to my stop on The House blog tour – I’m very excited today to be able to share what I thought of the book with you today!

About the book:


What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake. Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door.

And now the police are watching them…  

Author: Simon Lelic
Paperback: 340 pages, Penguin UK (Viking) – published 3rd November 2017, available to pre-order here.
E-Book: Published 17th August, available here

My thoughts:

For some reason I was expecting The House to be full of supernatural mystery, with a ghost story linked to it. Spoiler: It isn’t. Looking back at the blurb I’ve got absolutely no idea where I got that from as it definitely sounds like a thriller, which is exactly what it is!

First of all, I love the way The House is narrated – I tend to gravitate toward books that are told through multiple perspectives and The House unfolds from both Jack and Syd’s points of view, so this immediately got a big tick from me. They recount the story to us, the reader, through their written account of what had happened at The House; the way they’ve documented the weird goings on is used cleverly as a plot device later in the book as we find out why they wanted to write everything down.

There are moments of extreme tension in The House; at times I had to read a couple of chapters more to a) find out what was happening because I was hooked and b) it creeped me out and I didn’t want to switch my light off! There was one section in particular that had me listening out for every sound in my house. The themes running through The House are dark and brooding, touching on family, love, trust and revenge.

Simon Lelic’s writing is great, every chapter reels you in inch by inch. As each layer peels away, we learn the truth – or deceit – behind The House, however every time I thought I had it sussed, I was wrong. I hadn’t heard of Simon before, but I’ve now added some of his other books to my TBR and I’m excited to see what he does next.

I massively enjoyed The House and raced through it in a couple of evenings – I highly recommend giving it a read if you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller full of suspense.

About the author:

Simon Lelic credit Justine Stoddart.jpg

Simon Lelic was born in 1976 and has worked as a journalist in the UK and currently runs his own business in Brighton, England, where he lives with his wife and two sons.

You can read the other posts on the blog tour here:



Blog Tour: Wychwood by George Mann (Titan Books)

Good morning, or afternoon, depending on what time of time of day you end up reading this, and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Wychwood, by George Mann. 

About the book:


After losing her job and her partner in one fell swoop, journalist Elspeth Reeves is back in her mother’s house in the sleepy village of Wilsby-under-Wychwood, wondering where it all went wrong. Then a body is found in the neighbouring Wychwoods: a woman ritually slaughtered, with cryptic symbols scattered around her corpse.

Elspeth recognises these from a local myth of the Carrion King, a Saxon magician who once held a malevolent court deep in the forest. As more murders follow, Elspeth joins her childhood friend DS Peter Shaw to investigate, and the two discover sinister village secrets harking back decades.

Paperback: 400 pages, published 12 September 2017
Published by:
Titan Books
George Mann

You can order a copy of Wychwood here.

My thoughts:

Wychwood is a small-town cosy crime, with complex but likeable characters; it’s intimate, intriguing and had me gripped from the get-go. Initially I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure if I was going to love Wychwood, due to the inclusion of supernatural/ cryptic elements, but they complemented the story brilliantly and the plot around the Carrion King was fascinating. Throughout, the book is peppered with elements of old-English folklore and myth, which helps bring the mystery to life.

The setting of the woods is eery, adding atmosphere and tension to the story, which continued to build as the narrative progressed. As characters, Elspeth and DS Peter Shaw are a great pair and work well together as a journalist and detective, making it more than just your average ‘police procedural’. At times Wychwood is gory, dark and chilling – it is a fantastic read, immersive and thrilling.

It’s an ideal read for crime, horror and mystery fans! Mann has done a great job of leaving this open for a series of books, I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for what’s next!

About the author:

George Mann is the author of the Newbury and Hobbes and The Ghost series of novels, as well as numerous short stories, novellas and audiobooks. He has written fiction and audio scripts for the BBC s Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes. He is also a respected anthologist and has edited The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction and The Solaris Book of New Fantasy. He lives near Grantham, UK.

You can read more of the blog posts on the blog tour here: 


August Summer Reads

One day I’ll actually get my monthly wrap-up written and published on time, but for now this will have to do (I promise to try harder next month, I promise!).

I always find I read fewer books during Summer due to me wanting to be outdoors – coupling that with being super busy at work and it being really hot outside I managed a pathetic total (compared to my usual reading tally!) of three books in August…Anyway, enough of the boring excuses!

Did You See Melody by Sophie Hannah (Hodder & Stoughton)


I am a huge fan of Sophie Hannah, so was super excited to receive an advanced copy of her newest psychological thriller. This is such a compelling read, full of dark humour and twists – I highly recommend this for an easy Summer read. A full review is here.

Tin Man by Sarah Winman (Tinder Press)

Tin Man

This hit me right in the heart – it has had marmite reviews on Good Reads,  however I think that’s because it has been so hyped up. For me, it lived up to that hype and I thought it was such a tender book – my full review is here.

Woman Enters Left by Jessica Brockmole (Allison & Busby)

Set in the 1950s, movie star Louise Wilde is caught between an unfulfilling acting career and a shaky marriage when she receives an out-of-the-blue phone call: she has inherited the estate of a woman she doesn’t know. What unfolds is a tale of friendship, love and family. I picked this up to read on a whim and was so pleasantly surprised – it was a cosy, happy read that left me feeling warm and fuzzy. One of the many things I enjoyed about Woman Enters Left was the format – it was split perspective, over two timeframes and was peppered with letters and diary entries.

Hopefully this month, thanks to the colder weather and autumnal vibes, I’ll manage to ramp up my reading again!