Monday, 30 May 2011


A'kin Lemongrass Shampoo is a gentle shampoo with 6 natural cleansers to deeply clean oily to combination hair and scalps. The complex formula gently dissolves oily scalp secretions without stripping the skin of its natural oils. 

 As soon as I put the shampoo onto my hair I could smell the gorgeous lemongrass fragrance.  I worked it into my scalp and it lathered up very quickly and then rinsed off easily.

It left my hair feeling soft and silky.

As it contains no harsh chemicals I know it's very gentle and good for my hair.  There are no parabens or sulphates in any of the A'kin products.

 Available in a 225ml bottle for £10.49 from

Monday, 23 May 2011


Genre:  Mystery
Published by:  Hersilia Press  (Feb 2011)
Pages:  253  (Paperback)
Source:  Received from the publisher
My Rating:  8/10

About the Book:

The countryside around Milan is wrapped in eerie darkness as psychologist Anna Pavesi digs in the icy soil, looking for...what? Just over a week earlier, Anna had been approached with a request to investigate a fatal road accident and a missing body. Anna is no detective, but she was short of money and agreed to take on the assignment, leading her into a labyrinth of false clues and wilful deception in which nothing is as it seems. As she digs deeper, Anna realises that even her own life may be in danger...

If you’re looking for a story with non-stop action at a fast pace, with lots of blood and violence and a quick-witted detective, then this is not the book for you.  If you’re looking for a story that carries you along at a steady pace, building up the tension slowly, featuring an amateur (but not amateurish) sleuth and a plot that takes you down a different path to the one you were expecting, then this is for you!

Narrator and psychologist Anna Pavesi is unwilling at first to take on the job offered by the unfriendly Benedetta Vitali to look for her half-sister’s body which has gone missing from her coffin...... as she says “My job is to talk to people and try to understand them, which isn’t easy to do with someone who’s dead. I work with the living.”  But the offer of a large amount of money persuades her and soon she is investigating this mysterious disappearance.

The story starts in the present as Anna is digging in the gloomy undergrowth of the South Milan Agricultural Park late at night, and she looks back over the events of the past week which have brought her to this terrifying predicament.

She had travelled around the foggy surroundings of Milan taking to various people who came into contact with the dead woman, pretending to be her relation, from the doctors who treated her in the hospital, the prostitutes who she passed every day to work, to her employer.  As she tries to discover why anyone would want to steal a body she realises that the young woman was murdered and starts to suspect everyone of being implicated but they can't all be involved, can they?  And, if so, why?

Anna was a very likeable young woman, she’s insecure, pushing 40 and newly single, and I was interested in her life and the people around her who she talked about quite often.   I don’t know if this the first of a series featuring her but I hope so.

I liked the descriptions of the Italian countryside and the towns, I thought the overall story was original  and the writing flowed easily, and I didn’t guess the ending!  I also thought the translation from Italian by Howard Curtis was spot on.

My Thanks to Hersilia Press for sending me this book to review.  To download the first chapter please see their website.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

New Books Coming Out in June 2011

This is a monthly feature where I highlight just a few of the great reads coming out in the UK in the following month.
Some of them, such as Elizabeth Chadwick and Janet Evanovich, are established and popular authors and some of them, such as Ransom Riggs are not as well known.
I hope you enjoy looking through them and if you would like me to put your link next to the book please leave me a comment or email me at purplecards (at)

Derby Day by DJ Taylor
Published:  2 June 2011 - UK and USA

As the shadows lengthen over the June grass, all England is heading for Epsom Downs – high life and low life, society beauties and Whitechapel street girls, bookmakers and gypsies, hawkers and acrobats, punters and thieves. Whole families stream along the Surrey back-roads, towards the greatest race of the year. Hopes are high, nerves are taut, hats are tossed in the air – this is Derby Day.
For months people have been waiting and plotting for this day. Even in dark November, when the wind whistles through the foggy London courts, the alehouses and gentlemen’s clubs echo to the sound of disputed odds.
In Belgrave Square old Mr Gresham is baffled by his tigerish daughter Rebecca, whose intentions he cannot fathom. In the clubs of St James’s rakish Mr Happerton plays billiards with his crony Captain Raff, while in darkest Lincolnshire sad Mr Davenant broods over his financial embarrassments and waits for his daughter’s new governess. Across the channel the veteran burglar Mr Pardew is packing his bags to return, to the consternation of the stalwart detective Captain McTurk. Everywhere money jingles and plans are laid. Uniting them all is the champion horse Tiberius, on whose performance half a dozen destinies depend.
In this rich and exuberant novel, rife with the idioms of Victorian England, the mysteries pile high, propelling us towards the day of the great race, and we wait with bated breath as the story gallops to a finish that no one expects.

For more on DJ Taylor and this book see here
I love the cover, love the story, this is definitely one for my wish list!

Smokin’ Seventeen (Stephanie Plum, book 17) by Janet Evanovich
Published:  21 June 2011 - UK & USA

Where there's smoke there's fire, and no one knows this better than New Jersey bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum. The bail bonds office has burned to the ground, and bodies are turning up in the empty construction lot. To make matters worse, Stephanie is working out of a motor home she shares with a dancing bear, and Joe Morelli's old world grandmother has declared a vendetta against her. And just when Stephanie decides it might be time to choose between the two men in her life, Morelli and Ranger, a third man from Stephanie's past moves back to Trenton...

Break out a cold drink and slap on some sunscreen, this summer is sure to be a scorcher with Smokin' Seventeen.

Janet Evanovich’s website is here

I love this series!  I’ve read the first five in the series and Stephanie Plum is one of my favourite heroines in literature.  The stories are so funny, especially Stephanie’s wonderful and outrageously eccentric Grandma Mazur.


Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick
Published:  2 June 2011 - UK ….. 1 Sept 2011 - USA

Two very different women are linked by destiny and the struggle for the English crown. Matilda, daughter of Henry I, returns to England when her husband, the Emperor of Germany, dies.  Her father promises her that she will succeed him, but at the same time marginalises her by marrying her to Geoffrey, the adolescent count of Anjou, more than ten years her junior.  Despite her nightmare second marriage, Matilda remains unbowed and when her father dies, she is determined to win back her crown from her cousin Stephen who has usurped it.  Adeliza, Henry's widowed queen and Matilda's stepmother, has become a good friend.   Having been widowed, she now now marries William D'Albini, one of Stephen’s staunchest supporters. Both Adeliza and Matilda are strong in their own way, and prepared to stand firm for what they know is right. But in a world where a man's word is law, how can Adeliza obey her husband while supporting Matilda, the rightful queen? And for Matilda pride comes before a fall ...What price for a crown? What does it cost to be 'Lady of the English'?

Elizabeth Chadwick’s excellent website can be found here

I haven’t read any of Elizabeth Chadwick’s books but I have read some good reviews of them.  I’m sure I’ll read one of them some day!
In this book I am familiar with Matilda from reading Ken Follett’s excellent novel The Pillars of the Earth.


Blue Monday  (Frieda Klein, Book 1) by Nicci French
Published:  23 June 2011 - UK

Monday, the lowest point of the week. A day of dark impulses. A day to snatch a child from the streets …
The abduction of five-year-old Matthew Farraday provokes national outcry and a desperate police hunt. And when his face is splashed over the newspapers, psychotherapist Frieda Klein is left troubled: one of her patients has been relating dreams in which he has a hunger for a child. A child he can describe in perfect detail, a child the spitting image of Matthew.
Detective Chief Inspector Karlsson doesn't take Frieda's concerns seriously until a link emerges with an unsolved abduction twenty years ago and he summons Frieda to interview the victim's sister, hoping she can stir hidden memories. Before long, Frieda is at the centre of the race to track the kidnapper. But her race isn't physical. She must chase down the darkest paths of a psychopath's mind to find the answers to Matthew Farraday's whereabouts. And sometimes the mind is the deadliest place to lose yourself.

This best selling husband and wife’s  website is here.  
They are running a great competition just now …. if you post a review of one of their books you could win a signed paperback!  

I’ve read, and quite enjoyed, a couple of Nicci French novels and this sounds intriguing. I love the cover too!


About Last Night by Adele Parks
Published:  23 June 2011 - UK & USA

For thirty years, best friends Stephanie and Philippa have been practically inseparable. There's nothing they would not do for one another. Until a few simple words change everything.

'I need you to say that I was with you.'

Steph, eternally solid, considerate and dependable, is begging her best friend to lie to the police as she's desperately trying to conceal two shocking secrets to protect her family. Pip, self-consigned to the role of scatty, frivolous hot-head is overwhelmed; she's normally the one asking for help in a crisis although never anything as catastrophic as this. Both women have always believed that friendship is built on mutual selflessness, compromise and trust. Are those beliefs now to be tested beyond endurance?

Click here to read Adele Parks website


Lady Lightfingers by Janet Woods
Published:  30 June 2011 - UK …..... 1 Oct 2011 - USA

A novel of Victorian England  - Raised in the slums in 1850s London, Celia Laws is a rarity, an educated young woman whose creative skills have attracted notice. But with family to care for, circumstances have driven her to pickpocketing. In Celia’s harsh world, it’s a small step from picking pockets to prostitution. When a young man offers her a fortune to spend a week with him, she takes the money and runs. But Celia’s conscious can’t allow her to forget the money she stole, and she is soon brought face-to-face with her past . . .

Janet Woods very interesting and informative blog is here

This sounds just like my kind of book!  Have added it to my wishlist. Don't you just love that cover.


Blue Horizon by JL Hammer
Published:  13 June 2011 - UK …....... 27 June 2011 - USA & Canada

Part of a secret government project, Elena Davidson's life is placed in serious jeopardy when she is kidnapped by terrorists. Safeguarding 'Blue Horizon' isn't just a mission to Elena. She knows that if its purpose is revealed and if it is put into the wrong hands, it could be dangerous for the entire world . . . As prisoners, Elena and a colleague both endure torture while risking their own safety in order to protect 'Blue Horizon'. 
Beckham Connor has a simple mission: the retrieval of Elena Davidson, no matter the cost. He has orders to rescue Elena from her captors and to send her home to America, or kill her, if necessary. Whatever happens, Elena cannot be left alive on Iranian soil.Forced into a whirlwind adventure, Elena can depend on no one, but herself. She knows the information she has could be a death sentence, and Elena knows that her presumed savior could also end her life. She wants to trust Beckham, but her increasing attraction to him blinds her to the threat.


Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs  (YA)
Published:  7 June 2011 - UK & USA

A mysterious island.

An abandoned orphanage.

A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow - impossible though it seems - they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

Here is Ransom Riggs’ website, where you’ll see that his next book is about random photos that he’s been collecting and is to be called Talking Pictures.  This sounds really interesting to someone who’s incredibly nosey like me!

Nikki-ann at Notes of Life has recently read this book - take a look at her brilliant review here

I've also discovered another review here at 

Snapshot by Craig Robertson
Published:  9 June 2011 - UK & USA

A series of high-profile shootings by a lone sniper leaves Glasgow terrorised and police photographer Tony Winter - a man with a tragic hidden past - mystified. Who is behind the executions of some of the most notorious drug lords in the city? As more shootings occur - including those of police officers - the authorities realise they have a vigilante on their hands. Meanwhile, Tony investigates a link between the victims and a schoolboy who has been badly beaten. Seemingly unconnected, they share a strange link. As Tony delves deeper, his quest for the truth and his search for the killer lead him down dark and dangerous paths.

To learn more about Craig Robertson please click here 


The Philosopher’s Kiss by Peter Prange
Published:  23 June 2011 - UK …......... 5 April 2011 - USA


Paris, 1747. Betrayed by God and humanity, Sophie moves to the seething capital of the kingdom. To survive, she works at Café Procope, the meeting place for freethinkers and revolutionaries.

Against her will she falls deeply in love with one of the regular customers: Denis Diderot, the famed philosopher and a married man. He and his colleagues are planning the most dangerous book in the world since the appearance of the Bible: an encyclopedia. Even more explosive are the covert references in the Encyclopedia that threaten to undermine both the monarchy and the church. But Sophie soon realizes that the stakes are even higher for her personally. At risk are her right to freedom, love, and happiness.

To read about Peter Prange please click here 


Monday, 16 May 2011


Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Published by:  Simon & Schuster  (March 2011)
Pages:  360  (Hardback)
Source:  Received for review from Simon & Schuster
My Rating:  8/10

About the Book:

The sudden death of David Bryant, the charismatic owner of a rambling Derbyshire wildlife park, leaves an indelible mark on three very different people.
David's young widow, Maggie, struggles to preserve the park and to forge friendships untainted by the suspicions of others. His old friend Louisa, a falconer who lives on the grounds, just wants to be left alone with her hawks and the dark secret she has shared with David since their youth. Meanwhile, Christopher, David's eccentric teenage son from an earlier marriage, strives for a life beyond the park and trawls the internet for a woman who shares his family values.
With the arrival of a stranger, and unforeseen disaster amid the worst rains for a hundred years, the loyalties of Maggie, Louisa and Christopher will be stretched to breaking point, and each must face the decisions which will define them...

A wildlife park in the middle of England is the unusual backdrop to this novel which mostly features  three characters all dealing with the aftermath of the owner’s death two years before.

Maggie, the widow of David, is left to cope with the running of the park, while her only ‘friend’ is the hostile Louisa who has been in love with David since they were teenagers, and who is jealous of and resents Maggie.  

Louisa lives in a cottage across the field from 'the big house' where Maggie and Christopher live and constantly spies on her.

Christopher, David's teenage son from his first marriage, lives with Maggie, he is unpredictable, slightly psychotic, has a habit of speaking the truth, is obsessed with Robin Hood and knows that Louisa watches them in their ‘big house’.

As life goes on in the park Maggie and Louisa start to let their barriers down and gradually become close friends, confiding in each other, Louisa helping in the park as well as looking after her beloved hawks and for a while they both start looking forward.....then Adam (a man with an unusual adult occupation!) enters their life and their friendship is tested.

Louisa’s romance with Adam formed quite a large part of the story …...... I really liked Adam but my main doubt was that I just couldn’t see what he saw in the unfriendly, unpopular 47 yr old Louisa who lived for her hawks. It seemed an unlikely friendship to me and I found it difficult to believe.

The character I liked the most was Christopher, though I probably shouldn’t as he was so weird, but he did make me laugh with his honesty.  He once refused to eat meat for a while as he feared retribution from the animals in the park.  Maggie took him to the cinema (from page 231) …..

She watched Christopher bite into a nacho loaded with various mush.  He closed his eyes while he chewed, and sighed with pleasure, as if he’d just taken some life-saving antidote.  Crisp shards fell into his hand, which he had readied below his chin for that purpose.  He pushed the crumbs in, too.  Against all odds, it was fun to watch.  When had Maggie last enjoyed food to such an extent?  She laughed, and Christopher laughed too, unable to contain his pleasure.

I enjoyed the writing, it was easy and simple and flowed quickly.  The idea of having a wildlife park in the background was very original and his observations of the falcons and the hawks was a joy to read.

A special Thank You to Simon & Schuster for sending me this book to review.


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