Liz Currently Loves…The Life I Left Behind by Colette McBeth.


Publication Date: UK 1st January 2015 from Headline. US 24th February 2015 from St Martins Press

Source: Advance Reading Copy.

I’m the only one who knows the secrets her friends have hidden, the mistakes the police have made.
I’m the only one who can warn her she’s still in danger.
I know exactly who attacked her.
He’s the same man who killed me.

I was a huge fan of Colette Mcbeth’s first novel Precious Thing, so I was very excited to receive an advanced copy of her new story “The Life I Left Behind” and if anything it was even better – I read it in about 4 hours, it really was hard to put aside once started.

Told from several points of view – Eve who is dead, Melody who has survived a vicious attack and Victoria the Police Officer in charge of investigating Eve’s murder, it is an emotional and very addictive read with some loveable (and not so much) characters, a terrifically intriguing story and just a little twist in the tale, hearing as we do from the murder victim.

From the very beginning you will get sucked in as Eve is discovered dead and she starts to tell us how it all came to happen. Then enter Melody, who thinks she is hiding her post traumatic stress from her loved ones but maybe is not doing as well as she thinks – she is tied to Eve in ways she cannot yet imagine. Add into the mix Victoria, who starts to question the original conviction in Melody’s case and we are off with a fascinating, poignant and often quite touching tale of a life lost and another hanging in the balance.

There is a mystery element of course – is the same person responsible for both crimes, who is it and why. In a way though this is very much a layer to the story rather than the story itself which is absolutely  focussed on the people, the aftermath, how it affects them and explores, almost quietly, themes of grief, loss and the ever changing nature of relationships. Ms McBeth writes with a very haunting prose that can tug on your heartstrings one minute and have you hanging on the edge of your seat the next.

As the separate worlds of Eve and Melody collide you will not be able to stop turning the pages to find out what is next – there is a terrific emotional resonance to knowing that there is nothing to be done for Eve, she was my favourite character and I almost kept wishing that this was a fantasy novel where she could miraculously be brought back to life. Melody invokes a lot of sympathy, her efforts to heal both mind and body are emotionally engaging and realistically based. Sometimes helped by those around her, sometimes hindered, you will root for her all the way.

Overall then a really really excellent read, a tense psychological thriller that also manages to gently pull you along towards the truth of the matter and will give you a lot to ponder along the way about the nature of life, the universe and humanity. Highly Recommended.

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Black Rose by Kris Thompson – Blog Tour.



Kris Thompson is a veteran of the US Navy and single mother of three. When she’s not knitting scarves, chasing her children around or baking, you’ll find her enjoying a good book or writing down notes for her own upcoming stories. Writing has been a passion for Kris for many years, and seeing those stories printed on paper is a dream come true.

Black Rose

Lillian Locke had the perfect life in Boulder, Colorado. She had the boyfriend of her dreams, a wonderful family, awesome friends, and a spot on the track team at a great college. There wasn’t anything life could throw at her that she couldn’t get through . . . until he found her.

Lillian never could have imagined being abducted and chained up in the dark. Worse yet, being just one of many girls kidnapped and held captive by a madman. All she can do now is hope that she survives the brutality of their captor long enough to find a way to free herself and her new captive friends.

When Richard Haines’ girlfriend goes missing, he makes it his personal mission to find the woman he loves and bring her home to the safety of their loved ones. Seeking the help of friends and family, Richard abandons everything except for his pursuit of Lillian. But when someone else close to Richard goes missing, and the bodies of the abducted girls start showing up in the hills outside Boulder, the only thing he can do is hope that he finds her before it is too late.


I read this in pretty much one sitting, so well did it flow and for the most part I thought it was a terrific psychological suspense novel, with a realistic twist generally speaking and it definitely packs one heck of an emotional punch.

The most resonant part of the novel for me came with the relationship between Richard and Lillian – the author has done a terrific job of telling us a love story, creating a couple I believed in and then hitting them with the worst case scenario and making me avidly turn pages as Richard desperately searches for Lillian whilst she desperately struggles to survive.

It was cleverly written jumping between Richard and Lillian and telling what they were going through and here was where it was the most authentic.

There were some downsides which were purely subjective – I couldnt quite get my head around how the girls behaved occasionally whilst in captivity.Sometimes that did not ring quite true for how traumatised I would imagine they would be under the circumstances although of course no-one who has not been through such a thing could have any actual idea. Discussing the relative benefits of one good looking star over another for example, not long after you have been brutalised, just took me out of the moment.

Overall however this was a great read, not for the faint hearted, but a very addictive and often emotive story – another plus was the story came to a proper and satisfying conclusion showing aftermath as well as event which added to the overall ambience of the tale being told.

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Liz Currently Loves…The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon


Publication Date: January 27th 2015 from Bloomsbury

Source: Netgalley

Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal penal colony of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the fugitives are still missing and she is the most wanted person in London.
As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on Paige, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city’s gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take center stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner.

I was one of the people who completely fell in love with “The Bone Season” the first in what will be a series of 7 books – I didnt think that anything could top that, but with “The Mime Order” the stakes were raised and if anything this was even better.

It probably helped that the world that Ms Shannon has built here is now sharply focussed – there was a lot of information to assimilate in book one, with The Mime Order you know whats what and who is who and are already involved with the people and the places.

Paige may have escaped captivity but her problems are only just beginning – with the gangs in disarray she must pull everyone together to face the Rephaim but when everyone has their own agenda and nobody cares much for anyone but themselves this is no easy task – and as the most wanted person in London she must do all of this from a place of hiding. Once more the rich layers of the world the characters inhabit comes to life, there are thrills and spills, some very emotional moments and a lot of hard decisions ahead for Paige.

As a main protagonist Paige is terrifically well drawn and she comes into her own in this instalment. Jaxon is still intriguing and difficult to read when it comes to motivation, he is definitely one of my favourites. Add to that a plethora of other fascinating characters both good and evil and you have a really fun reading experience.

The world building is solidified and expanded and there is a richness to the prose that envelops you – the story is pacy and gripping throughout and descriptively speaking it is really excellent. I enjoyed it very much and as a fan of YA and Fantasy I would highly recommend it.

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Kate Riordan, The Girl in the Photograph and Owlpen Manor.


Publication Date: January 5th 2015 From Penguin.

Status: Currently Reading.

So this weekend just past, me, my lovely daughter plus a few other bloggers were very kindly invited by Penguin Books and the author (thank you Jessica, Kate and Sarah!) to visit Owlpen Manor – the inspiration for the novel. Deep in rural Gloucestershire, it is a beautiful area of the world and we had a chance to meet Kate, have a tour of the house and grounds and find out more about “The Girl in the Photograph”. I thought I’d tell you a little bit about the weekend and put up some pictures I took while I was there (sorry for the quality on some!)



View of the house from the gardens.


Upon arrival Mel and I were met by Sarah and Jessica and taken to the estate cottage we would be staying in for the night – Grist Mill. Steeped in history it was absolutely beautiful and I could happily have spent a lifetime there (although possibly not alone at night!) where we met Elle, our housemate for the night, and got settled in.

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Grist Mill – picture taken from Owlpen Website

We then had a light lunch at the Cyder house where we met the rest of the group ( was wonderful to meet so many lovely people who I had spoken to often on Twitter but never met in person) and Kate herself who is stunning and so lovely that everyone felt immediately at ease. After that Sir Nicholas took us for a tour of the house and gardens – he was fantastic, so down to earth and very enthusiastic about his home and its history – after the tour it was VERY easy to see why Kate was so inspired by this location, I was almost inspired enough to write a book myself if only I had the talent.

It is difficult to put into words how lovely the location is and how peaceful – after the tour we had afternoon tea at the Grist Mill, then everyone had a chance to retire to their cottages and relax before dinner. This was once again in the Cyder House and I can’t tell you how yummy the food was – local produce, seasonal, beautifully cooked and again we all had a chance to have a chat about many things including the world of blogging and writing. Terribly relaxed throughout there was no pressure to do anything at all.




On the tour.



Once we were done for the evening it was back to our cottages where I picked up “The Girl in the Photograph” and started reading – with the location set firmly in my head, although I am currently still not quite at the end of it, I can tell you it is a haunting, evocative and beautifully written book, one that you should certainly all be putting on your reading lists. I will of course review it nearer publication.

After a fairly fun and creepy night – Mel and I having our own bedrooms initially but she arrived in with me at some point in the early hours – it really brought the novel into focus. One character in the book remarks of the country “It is too dark to sleep” and as a town lass myself I was enchanted and a little nervous at how black the night actually was. A really intriguing experience and certainly one I could get used to given the opportunity.


Bedroom at Grist Mill


Kate signs some proof copies for us.

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Here we all are!

The following morning having imbedded myself totally into “The Girl in the Photograph” I asked Kate whether she had the bones of the story before visiting Owlpen. Apparently this location was absolutely the inspiration for the whole thing – the first scene she wrote was the one where Alice first arrives at Fiercombe (name change for the book) and everything else spun out from there. It was easy to picture the locations in my head as I read and that scene is perfectly placed. Whilst Kate has used dramatic license to change certain aspects of the area to fit in around the story, the heart and soul of it is definitely within the pages.

After breakfast we very sadly said goodbye to everyone and made our way home – but this is a weekend that will stay with me forever, one for the memory box – an informal, fun and highly relaxing experience and one that definitely makes reading the book all the more wonderful – and it would have been a pretty wonderful read without all that.

If you get a chance you should definitely visit Owlpen for a break – I would definitely love to return one day.

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Huge thanks to Penguin Books and Kate Riordan for the experience of a lifetime.

Happy Reading Folks!



Liz Currently Loves….Revival by Stephen King


Publication Date: Available Now from Hodder and Staughton

Source: Purchased Copy

In a small New England town, in the early 60s, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs Jacobs; the women and girls – including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister – feel the same about Reverend Jacobs. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond, based on their fascination with simple experiments in electricity.

So more Stephen King then, a pleasure every time and we know its unlikely that I’m going to dislike it, even if its not one of his best – I make no attempt to hide my long term adoration of all things written by this author.

In this case however, my honest opinion is that it IS one of his best – those of you looking for Old School King at the top of his game, the one that can make you shiver, turn the most ordinary things into that which you fear the most and take you by the hand and lead you into a place of darkness – that is what you will get with Revival.

Jamie first meets Charles Jacobs when he is very young, but for the rest of his life this man will cast a peculiar type of shadow as fate (perhaps) keeps drawing them together. Charles experiments with electricity – quite reasonable one would think, but this is a man not only intrigued but obsessed by it. When tragedy strikes Charles is set on a path to destruction, a path that Jamie may not be able to avoid walking with him.

This is one that will grip you from the start and trust me, it is a very good idea to hold off starting it until you have a good few hours to yourself. Oh and not in the dark either if I were you. I’m not one for breaking down a plot bit by bit in my reviews, suffice to say this is a tremendous mix of drama, horror and just plain emotion – it has a very gentle, rolling start but the tension builds bit by bit until you are white knuckled turning the pages to find out what is next, and oh my GOD that ending – I was disturbed, electrified (yes that was on purpose) and I just know its going to niggle at me and niggle at me for a long time to come. One of the most exciting and heart stopping endings Mr King has written for years, dark, scary as hell and all consuming, even with the very last words of the story.

And yes, I did sleep with the lights on last night. And probably will again tonight.

Classic King – absorbing, unbelievably addictive, the heart and soul of true storytelling is right here. Words are his power.


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Spotlight 2015 – The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins


Publication Date: January 15th 2015 from Transworld

Source: Advance Reading Copy.

To everyone else in this carriage I must look normal; I’m doing exactly what they do: commuting to work, making appointments, ticking things off lists.
Just goes to show.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and every evening. Every day she passes the same Victorian terraces, stops at the same signal, and sees the same couple, breakfasting on their roof terrace. Jason and Jess seem so happy together.
Then one day Rachel sees something she shouldn’t have seen, and soon after, Jess disappears. Suddenly Rachel is chasing the truth and unable to trust anyone. Not even herself.

So in the first of my “Spotlight 2015″ features coming up over the next few weeks, I’m taking look at “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins – a tense and highly addictive thriller that will almost certainly keep you turning the pages well into the night in order to discover just what the outcome is for Rachel, Jason and Jess.

Rachel has problems, is a highly intriguing character and when we meet her she is on a train. The same train she gets every day, seeing the same things she sees every day – until one day she observes something unusual. This sets her on a path of discovery and on a journey towards destruction.

The whole thing is really excellent – the writing flows along, the characters pop and once you start it is very hard to put aside – one of those “just one more chapter then I’ll load the dishwasher” type books that basically means the dishwasher is going to be rather lonely for a while…

I particularly liked (or actually actively disliked at times) Rachel – who because of her background, is difficult to get a grasp on. Are there nefarious things going on or is it just her? Her dogged determination and often rather obscure decision making means that almost anything could be true and this is where the plot is intelligent, creative and why the whole novel is so addictive. Add to Rachel some other characters who may or may not be as they appear, including Rachel’s seemingly reasonable ex husband, the couple who Rachel avidly observes from her train seat and various others and you have a most terrific mix which creates a character driven thriller of top notch quality.

Overall this is definitely one to look out for in the early months of 2015 and would definitely be a great book to get you over those “End of Holiday” blues once Christmas and New Year is over and done with – you’ll soon get caught up in Rachel’s world and this is a tremendously fun read with a dark heart and a great ending.

Highly Recommended

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Liz Currently Loves….Near Enemy by Adam Sternbergh


Publication Date: January 13th 2015 from Crown

Source: Netgalley

It’s a year after Shovel Ready. Persephone is ensconced with her newborn upstate; Simon the Magician is struggling to keep control of Harrow’s evangelical empire; and Spademan has accepted a seemingly routine job: to snuff out a no-good bed-hopper named Lesser. Lesser has been causing headaches all over the limnosphere, racking up enemies left and right.

I loved the first “Spademan” book – Shovel Ready –  (review here: ) and if anything this one was even better. Now I adore Spademan with the fiery passion known only to avid readers. Not QUITE so fond of the author however after that ending…which was brilliant in its simplicity.

Anyway, back to the point. In this instalment, Spademan is hired to kill a bed hopper named Lesser, but when he gets there Lesser has a story to tell that gives Spademan pause for thought – and plunges him into another adventure, the usual total mayhem and intriguing decision making.

What I love most about these books is definitely the main protagonist – morally ambiguous at best, but extremely loveable, Spademan definitely rocks the world of fiction. Backed up by some other terrifically well drawn characters, steeped in a well imagined and intelligent mythology, the storytelling is fantastic and highly addictive. The writing really pops off the page – a kind of staccato rhythm to it that draws you in and keeps you there, it flows along at a tremendous pace with barely a pause for breath.

The lines between fantasy and reality blur in this world, where you can enter a dreamlike state and do pretty much whatever you like, even peep in on other peoples dreams – whilst being watched over  by people keeping you fed and watered so you never have to leave if you choose not to. It is a clever little plot twist that allows a smoke and mirrors type effect on the whole drama unfolding and some of the most exciting portions of Near Enemy take place in this netherworld – it is all a great deal of fun.

As Spademan uncovers a plot which may change everything you will hang onto every word, and be totally immersed in this world. The character building is superb – I am really quite fond of previous enemy Simon the Magician – his interaction and ever changing relationship with Spademan is witty and engaging – and Persephone also gets a lot more depth here.

Overall then a terrific follow up – definitely NOT suffering from “Second book syndrome” and I am very annoyed that I’ll probably have to wait a while to find out whats next. Real Readers Problems.

Highly Recommended

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Liz Currently Loves…Friends to Die For by Hilary Bonner


Publication Date: Available Now from Macmillan

Source: Netgalley

Friends: can you really trust them? A group of friends living in London’s Covent Garden are subjected to the whims of a dangerous prankster. At first, whilst disturbing, the tricks are funny. But as they continue they become more serious and violent, until finally someone lies dead. As the remaining friends struggle to manage their grief and identify the culprit, suspicion soon falls close to home and secrets furtively kept hidden are brought to light. Alliances are formed, and the once-cosy group begins to turn on each other. Could one of them really be capable of murder?  

An extremely addictive story this one, following a group of friends who meet up regularly forming a “Sunday Club” – when they start to become the victims of pranks which grow ever more sinister, it becomes apparent that there is a murderer in their midst…

I thoroughly enjoyed this one – a brilliant cast of eclectic characters can be found here, all brought together in friendship over a period of time but about to be torn apart by a wicked prankster. Initially fairly funny (I did have a huge giggle at Mr Tickle) then steadily getting more and more dangerous, the friends struggle to cope with the strange occurrences and begin to view each other with increasing suspicion.

Very cleverly constructed as we move between the friends and ultimately the police investigation, there are lots of lovely little twists and turns to keep you involved and as things get steadily more horrific, there is an intense build up of tension that keeps you turning the pages and the further in you get the more you will be desperate to find out whodunnit and why. A terrific book for guessing the culprit, there is some wonderful misdirection and yet the clues are all there for you, as the reader, to unravel. The sign of a great mystery novel.

The characters are all great fun, you would definitely want to know them in real life (well apart from one of course!). I particularly liked Vogel, the detective trying to unravel the mayhem and all of the friends have their own little quirks which you will relate to. There are some emotional moments as well as some very exciting ones – plus Ms Bonner manages to put you right into the action with a great sense of place, Covent garden really comes to life.

Overall this is a great example of when Crime Fiction works REALLY well – engaging, intelligent and a darn good yarn.

Highly Recommended.

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New Release Spotlight: The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths.


Publication Date: Available now from Quercus

Source: Publisher Review Copy.

Brighton, 1950.
When the body of a girl is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is reminded of a magic trick, the Zig Zag Girl.
The inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, is an old friend of Edgar’s. They served together in the war as part of a shadowy unit called the Magic Men.

I’m a fan of Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway novels so was really looking forward to diving into this one, a standalone novel inspired by her Grandfather.

I loved it. Beautifully written to give a sense of the time, a terrific mystery story and a wonderful flow, plus some great characters made this a really really fun read.

Edgar, Max and the so called “Magic Men” are a fascinating and eclectic bunch, brought back together by a strange murder that mimicks an old magic trick – The Zig Zag Girl. As Edgar investigates he looks to Max to help him work out what is going on and their friendship is rekindled.

There was a delightful old school feel to the prose, very different from the Galloway novels – Christie-esque in style to suit the era, despite the violence it is quite a gentle read. in some ways and Ms Griffiths has caught the sense of the theatre community brilliantly. The glamorous and the less glamourous side merge to give a realistic feeling to it all,  you can almost imagine yourself right there. The back story involving the Magic Men during the war is evocative and intriguing as well – and the mystery element is well imagined as the author brings the two strands together to paint a full picture.

This is definitely one of my favourite mystery novels of the year so far, clever misdirection, a very enchanting look at the world of magic and a captivating and compelling story means that this definitely comes Highly Recommended from me.

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Liz Currently Loves….Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer.


Publication Date: Available now from Fourth Estate

Source: Purchased Copy

For thirty years, Area X has remained mysterious, remote, and concealed by the government as an environmental disaster zone even though it is to all appearances pristine wilderness. For thirty years, too, the secret agency known as the Southern Reach has monitored Area X and sent in expeditions to try to discover the truth. Some expeditions have suffered terrible consequences. Others have reported nothing out of the ordinary. Now, as Area X seems to be changing and perhaps expanding, the next expedition will attempt to succeed where all others have failed. What is happening in Area X? What is the true nature of the invisible border that surrounds it?

Blimey this was a creepy read! Really really good – after I finished it late last night it played on my mind for quite a while and sleep didnt come easy.. the sign of a good book as far as I am concerned.

We follow a group of women on an expedition to explore “Area X” – told from the point of view of one of them, the Biologist, the story creeps up on you, slowly building the tension as she tries to unravel the mystery that is this beautiful and yet dangerous place.

This is so cleverly constructed – for a start none of the characters have names, they are known simply from their job title within the group and for some reason this sets you on edge immediately – like the place they are investigating they have no anchor. You may think this makes it hard to relate to them, but strangely it makes them very very real, even if it is hard to get a sense of any of them bar the narrator. Seen solely through the eyes of one, the others take on an almost mystical quality, very much like Area X itself, where both everything and nothing could be real.

Speculative fiction at its best for sure – it is very hard to review to be honest, I would hate to give anything away, it is almost impossible to put down once you start. Another reviewer (writer J Lindoln Fenn)  called it “So addictive the FDA should investigate” and that covers it nicely. Add to that Stephen King calling it “creepy and fascinating” and there you go. I would agree with both of those sentiments and add my own – Beware reading this one in the depths  of night, you will almost certainly start jumping at shadows.

The descriptive prose is beautiful and deadly, setting the reader up for some genuinely scary moments and also some thought provoking ones. The Biologist herself is an appealing yet often unlikeable character and by the time I got to the end of it I was covered in goosebumps. That probably says it all.

Never have I been so pleased to have the next two books in the “Southern Reach” trilogy to hand already – I have started Authority, in fact did so first thing this morning and so far it is absolutely living up to the promise of Annihilation. Can I hope that the author will eventually answer all my burning questions about the nature of Area X? We’ll see – watch this space (although I’m not going to tell you!)

Highly Highly Recommended for fans of creepy, clever and addictive stories.

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A final note: The Hardback versions of the whole trilogy are beautiful. A great addition to any book collectors shelf.

Happy Reading Folks!