Thursday, 28 July 2011


Transworld Publishers are once again running a Book Reading Challenge.  You have to choose 4 books from a choice of 15 and read them from August to October.  Sounds great doesn't it?!  If you want to take part just click

and pick your books which you then have to review on either Amazon and/or your blog and then they'll send you the next book on your list.  Easy peasy!
The books I've chosen are :-

Are you taking part in this Reading Challenge?  If so, which books have you picked?  Please share your choices ........... I'd love to know!

Sunday, 24 July 2011


This is a monthly feature where I highlight some of the great new books being published soon.
If I see a new review of any of the books I will put a link to the review.
Which books are you looking forward to next month?

Private Lives by Tasmina Perry
Published:  4 Aug 2011 - UK & USA

Anna Kennedy loves her career. A young associate with a top media law firm, she's the lawyer to the stars, hiding their sins from the hungry media. When Anna fails to prevent a damaging story being printed about heart-throb movie star Sam Charles she finds herself fighting to save not only his reputation, but also her own. But Anna is about to uncover a scandal more explosive than even Sam's infidelities. A party girl is already dead and those responsible are prepared to silence anyone who stands in their way. Not least a pretty young lawyer who knows too much...

This is Tasmina Perry’s 6th book and she’s fast becoming quite a successful romantic/chick lit novelist.  She left a career in law to enter the world of women’s magazine publishing before writing her debut novel, Daddy’s Girls, in 2006.

Thanks to BookHugger RealReaders I have this book to read …...... watch out for my review!


Final Days by Gary Gibson
Published:  5 Aug 2011 - UK & USA

Final Days follows the lives of a few key characters as a cataclysmic event is unleashed in Earth's near future. This is a twenty-third-century thriller revolving around the slow uncovering of a conspiracy that irrevocably dooms the Earth, set against a backdrop of interstellar colonies. The story takes advantage of current cutting-edge ideas about the creation of artificial wormholes for interstellar travel, and their implications for practicable time travel. Action-packed and fast-paced, this is a thrilling SF adventure and a wonderful start to Gary's new series.

For more information about the book and to read more on Gary Gibson see 


Secrets in Burracombe by Lilian Henry
Published:  18 Aug 2011 - UK & USA

Sometimes we all want to get away ...and Burracombe is the perfect place to escape to. A seemingly sleepy Devonshire village, in fact it's full of intrigue and drama.
Family secrets, budding romance, cruel twists of fate and amazing friendships all play out against the backdrop of the beautiful countryside.
It's autumn 1953. The village is delighted when Joe Tozer - who left Burracombe as a young man in 1919 - returns to visit his family. His life since emigrating to the States has been a world away from rural Devon - but coming home, he falls in love with the place (and one particular person) all over again. With him, is his eldest son, Russell. He sets hearts fluttering in the village - but will there be anyone on his arm when he catches the boat back to America?

In her latest Burracombe novel, Lilian Harry takes her readers on another wonderful journey through the lives of characters old and new - all of which feel like friends by the novel's end.


Good as Dead (10th in the Tom Thorne series) by Mark Billingham
Published:  18 Aug 2011 - UK & USA

The Hostage: Police officer Helen Weeks walks into her local newsagent's on her way to work. Little does she know that this simple daily ritual will change her life forever. It's the last place she expects to be met with violence, but as she waits innocently at the till, she comes face to face with a gunman. The Demand: The crazed hostage-taker is desperate to know what really happened to his beloved son, who died a year before in youth custody. By holding a police officer at gunpoint, he will force the one man who knows more about the case than any other to re-investigate his son's death. That man is DI Tom Thorne.
The Twist: While Helen fights to stay alive and the body-count rises, Thorne must race against time if he is to bring a killer to justice and save a young mother's life. 


The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Published:  18 Aug 2011 - UK …........... 23 Aug 2011 - USA

The Victorian language of flowers was used to express emotions: honeysuckle for devotion, azaleas for passion, and red roses for love.
But for Victoria Jones, it has been more useful in communicating feelings like grief, mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.
Now eighteen, Victoria has nowhere to go, and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. When her talent is discovered by a local florist, she discovers her gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But it takes meeting a mysterious vendor at the flower market for her to realise what's been missing in her own life, and as she starts to fall for him, she's forced to confront a painful secret from her past, and decide whether it's worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.
"The Language of Flowers" is a heartbreaking and redemptive novel about the meaning of flowers, the meaning of family, and the meaning of love.

A lovely review of this book can be seen at Jera’s Jamboree


Defender of Rome by Douglas Jackson
Published:  18 Aug 2011 - UK …........  27 Sept 2011 - USA

Gaius Valerius Verrens returns to Rome from the successful campaign against Boudicca in Britain. Now hailed a ‘Hero of Rome’, Valerius is not the man he once was – scarred both physically and emotionally by the battles he has fought, his sister is mortally ill, his father in self-imposed exile. And neither is Rome the same city as the one he left.
The Emperor Nero grows increasingly paranoid. Those who seek power for themselves whisper darkly in the emperor’s ears. They speak of a new threat, one found within the walls of Rome itself. A new religious sect, the followers of Christus, deny Nero’s divinity and are rumoured to be spreading sedition.
Nero calls on his ‘Hero of Rome’ to become a ‘Defender of Rome’, to seek out this rebel sect, to capture their leader, a man known as Petrus. Failure would be to forfeit his life, and the lives of twenty thousands Judaeans living in Rome. But as Valerius begins his search, a quest which will take him to the edge of the empire, he will discover that success may cost him nearly as much as failure.

To know more about Douglas Jackson his website is here


Wrapped Up In You by Carole Matthews
Published:  25 Aug 2011 - UK
A Christmas fling, or has Janie found the real thing? Thirty-something hairdresser Janie Johnson's single status is a constant source of gossip for her friends and clients. So after too many nights in with her cat, a blind date disaster and news that her ex is getting married, Janie realises it's time to do something dramatic with her life. It's time for an adventure! Leaving winter behind, Janie takes the plunge and books an exotic trip to Africa. Her friends think she's mad and Janie thinks they may very well be right ...but then she falls head over heels for her tour guide  and fully fledged Maasai Warrior  Dominic. But can Janie now face spending a snowy Christmas back home without him? Packed with unforgettable characters, romance and laughter, Wrapped Up In You is your very own perfect Christmas Carole!
''Think Marian Keyes with a splash of Jane Green. If you've never read any of Carole's books, you are definitely missing out."
Vito Magazine

Leah over at Chick Lit Reviews has given this 3/5 - read her insightful review here


The Wrong Side of Happiness by Tania Crosse
Published:  25 Aug 2011 - UK …....... 1 Dec 2011 - USA

A harrowng and engrossing saga set in nineteenth-century Devon  - It is 1887, and times are lean. When West Country farm labourer Emmanuel Ladycott and his dairymaid daughter, Tresca, lose their jobs, they head for Tavistock, where Emmanuel hopes to join the hundreds of navvies working on the new railway line. Tresca is determined to forge a new life among the overcrowding and poverty of Bannawell Street. But when Emmanuel loses this new job, Tresca is left on the brink of despair. Will she find the strength to fight for her future?

Tania Crosse has been called ‘The Catherine Cookson of Hound of the Baskerville Country!’

All her books and info are can be found at her website here


A Bitter Truth (3rd in the Bess Crawford Mystery Series) by Charles Todd
Published:  30 Aug 2011 - UK & USA

Already deservedly lauded for the superb historical crime novels featuring shell-shocked Scotland Yard inspector Ian Rutledge (A Lonely Death, A Pale Horse et al), acclaimed author Charles Todd upped the ante by introducing readers to a wonderful new series protagonist, World War One battlefield nurse Bess Crawford.
Featured for a third time in A Bitter Truth, Bess reaches out to help an abused and frightened young woman, only to discover that no good deed ever goes unpunished when the good Samaritan nurse finds herself falsely accused of murder.
A terrific follow up to Todd's A Duty to the Dead and An Impartial Witness, A Bitter Truth is another thrilling and evocative mystery from 'one of the most respected writers in the genre' (Denver Post) and a treat for fans of Elizabeth George, Anne Perry, Martha Grimes, and Jacqueline Winspear.


Friday, 22 July 2011


Genre:  Thriller
Published by:  Simon & Schuster (July 2011)
Pages:  543  (Hardback)
Source:  BookDagger RealReaders
My Rating:  8/10

About the Book:

Former Soviet Secret Service agent Leo Demidov has built himself a new life as a civilian with his wife Raisa, and their two teenage daughters, Elena and Zoya. The Soviet Union is a country trying to reassert itself after the murderous excesses of Stalin and the chaos of the following years, and as the Cold War continues powers inside Russia seek to topple their great enemy, the United States of America. Communist allies within the United States will prove vital players in this game of intrigue and revolution. Raisa and their two daughters travel to the United States on a diplomatic mission, but a horrifying tragedy destroys everything Leo and Raisa have built. Leo must get to the States somehow and find out what happened. Exiled from the Soviet Union and separated from his family, Leo's quest takes him through the stark wilderness of Afghanistan, reawakening all his old instincts and forcing him to confront his demons. But whatever it costs, wherever he must go, he will find Agent 6. 

Set in 1965 onwards, this is the final instalment in the story of Russian secret agent Leo Demidov, following on from Child 44 and The Secret Speech, neither of which I’ve read.  I didn’t feel that I needed to in order to understand Leo’s past life as early on we are given an insight into the brutal regime in 1950’s Soviet Union.

Leo is no longer an agent, he has a mundane job and is now married to Raisa.  When she and her two daughters are invited to New York as part of a delegation of students performing concerts to improve relations between the two countries Leo has to stay at home and worry....... with good reason!  As something terrible happens there that will change all their lives forever.

The slow build up to that terrible event was incredibly gripping, you knew something was going to happen but you had no idea what it was.

We next meet Leo 8 years later as he is shot and badly wounded trying to cross the Russian border into Finland …............  he is desperate to leave the Soviet Union and get to the USA for revenge.

The story then jumps to 7 years later in 1980 in Kabul, Afghanistan where Leo is a soviet advisor providing counsel to the Afghan communist regime. Doing a job no KGB officer wanted.  He is disillusioned, addicted to opium and the USA seems further away than ever.  He just lives for the night-time when he can forget everything and fill his body with the opiate.

I did feel that some of the writing dragged a little here and I found it hard-going for a while until the action picked up again.

I had a lot of sympathy for Leo, I think that deep down he was a good man, the drugs helped to block out the reality of his situation as he couldn’t find a way out of his sad and lonely life, and he had forgotten what his goals and incentives in life were.

Since returning from the arrest of the deserting officer, Leo had smoked for several hours in an attempt to suppress an almost unbearable sense of restlessness.  Listening to the plans hatched by the two lovers hoping to embark on an impossible journey reminded him ........ of his own thwarted ambitions to reach New York
I enjoyed the writing style, it flowed very easily and apart from the few chapters in the middle, I was engrossed in the story.  I look forward to Tom Rob Smith’s next book, his website can be found here

Thank you to BookDagger RealReaders for my copy of this book.

Sunday, 17 July 2011


Genre:  Crime, Thriller
Published by:  Arcadia Books  (Aug 2010)
Pages:  210  (Paperback)
Source:  From the Publishers
My Rating:  8/10

About the Book: 

When the body of a child is found among the charred remains of a pier fire - surrounded by a ritualistic fire basket and items associated with the cult of the Greek god Dionysus - detective inspector Hildreth calls in the local museum's curator, Alex Kish, to help him decipher the mysterious symbolism. Soon after, an ancient Saxon amulet is stolen from the museum and the dead bodies of other young boys begin to turn up arranged as grotesque works of art with components of the gold amulet around their necks. The enigmatic detective inspector draws the curator into a strange web of ancient secrets, pagan ritualism, and the illegal trafficking of young boys. Hildreth and Kish are caught up in a race against time to interpret these ancient codes and clues before death claims another young life.

This is a decent thriller, and at just over 200 pages long I thought it was just long enough to keep my interest but not too long that I got bored.

The main protagonist is Alex, a museum curator in a seaside town, who comes across as quite likeable and very imaginative if a little indecisive.  He is taken into the confidence of the local Detective (an armchair archaeologist himself)  who trusts his judgement and knowledge on the Greek myths which seem to be a recurring theme in the young boys’ murders.

It seems that there is somebody with a knowledge of ancient beliefs who is killing boys in bizarre circumstances.  Together with Hilary, an expert from the London museum, they try and discover who is carrying out these killings.  

Maureen Duffy is a poet and her descriptive writing paints a wonderful picture of a cold and miserable seaside town just after Christmas and the aftermath of the discovery of another body -

The town decorations were still up but the chains of light swinging in a cold wind from the grey edgy sea looked exhausted and forlorn.  The party was over.  The millenium that had begun with such optimism in a glittering firework of hope and energy, of relief that the bloody 20th century was behind us, had been eclipsed almost at once by the choking fumes of despair as the juggernaut rolled out again in all its trappings of torn flesh and bloodied wounds.

Alex and Hilary discover that there is more to the boys' murders than first suspected and it seems that someone is watching them.......  

This was an intelligent thriller that wasn’t exactly a page turner but I enjoyed it overall.

Special Thanks to the Publishers for sending me this book to review.

The website for Maureen Duffy is here

Friday, 15 July 2011

BOOK NEWS: British Library prepares £9 million book bid

The British Library is attempting to raise the money to buy the St Cuthbert Gospel, the oldest intact book in Europe.

The St Cuthbert Gospel
The St Cuthbert Gospel: 'a window into a rich, sophisticated culture'  Photo: AP
The book, which is palm-sized and still leather-bound in its original cover, is believed to have been buried with St Cuthbert on Lindisfarne in 698, before the saint and his tome were later reburied in what would become Durham cathedral.
The St Cuthbert Gospel has been on loan to the British Library since 1979, and the library is now appealing to arts and heritage foundations across the country to raise around £9 million for a permanent purchase.
The National Heritage Memorial Fund have already pledged to offer a £4.5m grant – the largest single acquisition grant in the library's history. The Art Fund and the Garfield Weston foundation have each promised to pledge £250,000 towards the purchase.
Should the British Library be successful in acquiring the book, it will be displayed for half of the year at Durham cathedral, on the same site where it was found entombed with St Cuthbert in 1104.
Lynne Brindley, the British Library's chief executive, described the book as "a beautifully preserved window into a rich, sophisticated culture that flourished some four centuries before the Norman conquest".

Article taken from

Sunday, 10 July 2011


Genre:  Hobbies/Pastimes
Published by:  Greatest Guides  (Jan 2011)
Pages:  160  (Paperback)
Source:  From the Publisher
My Rating:  9/10

About the Book:

With a multitude of prizes and life-changing experiences up for grabs from high-profile companies, it's hardly surprising that the hobby of 'comping' is rapidly increasing in popularity. This book will help dispel any myths associated with competition rigging, and will guide you effortlessly through the maze of highly-effective techniques that Karen J. Jones has developed in her role as a prolific winner of high-value prizes. Karen's phenomenal success has spanned over thirty years. She now shares the secrets of her success with you, in the hope that you can also derive endless enjoyment from this intriguing and lucrative hobby. Happy comping!

I've been entering competitions on and off for over 30 years now, in which time I've won lots of little prizes like T-shirts, CD's, Videos, books etc., which were all nice to win and I've won bigger prizes such as a Video Recorder, a Laptop and even a holiday (see here) over the years.  Yes, ordinary people do win!

One of my very first wins was a t-shirt runners up prize from Comfort Fabric Conditioner and it was the one and only time I'd ever won with a slogan!  To be honest, I don't like doing them so I never enter competitions that involve them ............ but maybe after reading some of the tips in this book I may re-consider.

Karen Jones has been entering and winning competitions since childhood, many of which were slogans, and here she shares some of her tricks and tips to help anyone win that elusive prize like a brand new car, a holiday or cash.

Even if you're a seasoned 'comper' or are just a beginner there is something for everyone in this easy to read guide.  Set out in chapters, the titles are self-explanatory:- 

  • Getting Started
  • Entry Foms and Details
  • Customizing your Entry
  • Internet and Phone-in Contests
  • Writing Effective Slogans
  • Sharing Your Hobby
  • Chasing the Big Wins
  • The Value of Research
  • Keeping Records

She tells you how and where to find entry forms, how to increase the chances of YOUR entry being chosen, how she meticulously researches the products to help her write the perfect slogan, plus so many other details that you've probably never even thought of!

This is a great little book to keep referring to when you're going through a lean spell (like me!) and I would recommend it to any 'comper'.

This is just one of many titles in The Greatest Guide series of books available from the lifestyle and gift book publisher 
Special Thanks to them for sending me this book to review.

Thursday, 7 July 2011


About the Product:

Comvita Nourishing Hand & Nail Cream is an intensively nourishing and conditioning hand and nail cream.
Strengthen nails and protect your hands from the visible signs of ageing with this indulgent formula.
Contains Comvita®’s clinically researched HUNI®XA Manuka honey, proven to support your skin's natural elasticity and help delay the signs of ageing.

This super rich cream quickly and easily absorbs into my hands and nails.  I rub it in every night before I go to bed and my hands feel so soft in the morning, I absolutely love it!  

The cream is so thick yet so light and it really feels as if it's working straight away while it's gradually absorbing into my hands.

The best point about this wonderful Hand Cream is that it contains Manuka Honey which comes from the flowers of the manuka bush grown in New Zealand and has antibectarial properties over and above those of other honeys. (Taken from an article on the BBC website)

It is available in a 75ml tube for £14.00 from

As with all products sold at mypure it is sulfate free (sodium lauryl sulfate SLS, sodium laureth sulfates SLES, ammonium laureth sulfates ALES), paraben free and phthalate free.

To see my other Body Care Product Reviews see here

Sunday, 3 July 2011


Genre:  Fiction
Published by:  Red Rose Publishing  (May 2010)
Pages:  160 on my eReader
Source:  Received from the author
My Rating:  7/10

This is the tale of a young girl who reads too many romance novels and believes that the secret to happiness is to find the man of her dreams and she'll live happily ever after ............but she discovers that life is not perfect and it doesn't work out the way it does in romance novels.

We follow Maud as she makes mistakes in picking the wrong man (I'm sure most girls can identify with that!) for the wrong reasons.

The only friend she has is a toy gargoyle that she picked up at a fair, he was a 6" grey plastic creature, hunchbacked with short thin bowed legs and large pointy ears.  It was quite weird when, after 10 years, he suddenly started talking to her and offering his advice on her love life......but I really loved the idea!  It was so funny yet, in the context of the book, I thought it worked. 

Oh how Maud needed advice!  One boyfriend asked her if there was anything in her past that could embarrass him one day by the media if he was a politician....not very romantic!  She even experimented with a female relationship.  There are some X-rated scenes!
This is a light-hearted and fun read that's easily downloaded to your reading device...........ideal for the lazy summer days when you just want to read a short story.

E.M. Muller's website is here.  I thank her for sending me this download.



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