Monday, 31 August 2015

Want You Dead

Want You Dead by Peter James
Published by Pan
23rd October 2014
Paperback Edition

Single girl, 29, smouldering redhead, love life that's crashed and burned. Seeks new flame to rekindle her fire. Fun, friendship and - who knows - maybe more?

When Red Westwood meets handsome, charming and rich Bryce Laurent through an online dating agency, there is an instant attraction. But as their love blossoms, the truth about his past, and his dark side, begins to emerge. Everything he has told Red about himself turns out to be a tissue of lies, and her infatuation with him gradually turns to terror.

Within a year, and under police protection, she evicts him from her flat and her life. But Red's nightmare is only just beginning. For Bryce is obsessed with her, and he intends to destroy everything and everyone she has ever known and loved - and then her too . . .

I'm a bit behind on my Peter James books, and I do have a few to read before starting on the 10th of the Roy Grace novels, but I couldn't resist starting it.  Roy is a happy man these days, about to marry his long-term love Cleo and with a new baby in tow, having finally declared his wife Sandy dead, he is looking forward to his impending wedding day.  Of course, being  a DS means that his work life continues and this time, it begins with a burnt body on a golf course.  Roy Grace isn't convinced by the verdict of suicide though, and as the days pass by, his hunch, of course, proves to be correct.

Alongside our daily visits to the Brighton constabulary, we meet Red Westwood, estate agent and single girl about town.  Only Red isn't as out-going as she once was, and now her doctor boyfriend seems to have given up on her too.  Surely it couldn't  possibly have anything to do with her possessive ex-boyfriend Bryce?

Yes, you guessed it, of course it does.  Bryce wants Red back, and if he can't have her, then he is determined that no one else can have her either; in fact, it would appear that anyone with a connection to Red might well be in danger.

This is one of the darkest Peter James books that I can remember reading.  Bryce's childhood gave me the chills, it was very graphically described.  Did I think Red a little naive at times, especially in this day and age - well yes I did, but then we all do stupid things and have that 'it won't happen to me' moments, except for Red, it all appears to be coming true.  Bryce is a stalker who is never going to let Red go - he truly wants her dead.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Monday, 24 August 2015

The Summer of Secrets

The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon
Published by Black Swan
13th August 2015
Paperback Edition

The summer the Dovers move in next door, sixteen-year-old Helen's lonely world is at once a more thrilling place. She is infatuated with the bohemian family, especially the petulant and charming daughter Victoria.

As the long, hot days stretch out in front of them, Helen and Victoria grow inseparable. But when a stranger appears, Helen begins to question whether the secretive Dover family are really what they seem.

It’s the kind of summer when anything seems possible . . .

Until something goes wrong.

The Summer of Secrets is another of those books that moves back and forth with time, from the present day, to the summer of  1983 when our narrator, Helen meets the Dover family.  We weave through the deacades trying to ascertain what happened that fateful summer and of how its consequences changed Helen's life.  But the big question is, why can't she remember what happened?

Helen lives with her father, an angry man with a drinking problem, fuelled further by an estranged mother who deserted them both.  It is the summer holidays and Helen has very little to do until a pair of children appear in her garden.  For Helen, this is her introduction to the Dover family, a bohemian eclectic mix of people who have a very different upbringing from her own carefully measured one.

Helen is enthralled by them from the very start, especially by Victoria from whom she soon becomes inseparable.  However, is this friendship good for Helen, or will it ultimately end in tragedy.  A poster advertising an art show featuring work by Victoria suddenly brings everything back to Helen and she feels tied to go and see her for one last time.

Will this bring about the closure that she needs so she can finally put the ghosts of 1983 to rest at last?  I flew though this pretty quickly but it wasn't quite as dramatic at the end as maybe I had expected it to be.  I enjoyed the read, and I think that the contrasting characters between Helen's family and that of the Dovers was very well written out.  You could feel the laziness of the still hot summer days as the pages turned, and it certainly felt atmospheric.  I wasn't quite as drawn in as I wanted to be by the close of the book which is a shame as I think this is a good summer read.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Friday, 21 August 2015

A Book for Her

A Book for Her by Bridget Christie
Published by Century
2nd July 2015
Hardback Edition

Bridget Christie is a stand-up comedian, idiot and feminist. On the 30th of April 2012, a man farted in the Women’s Studies Section of a bookshop and it changed her life forever.

A Book For Her details Christie’s twelve years of anonymous toil in the bowels of stand-up comedy and the sudden epiphany that made her, unbelievably, one of the most critically acclaimed British stand-up comedians this decade, drawing together the threads that link a smelly smell in the women’s studies section to the global feminist struggle.

Find out how nice Peter Stringfellow’s fish tastes, how yoghurt advertising perpetuates rape myths, and how Emily Bronte used a special ladies’ pen to write Wuthering Heights.

If you’re interested in comedy and feminism, then this is definitely the book for you. If you hate both then I’d probably give it a miss.

A Book for Her does resonate of those published by the fabulous Caitlin Moran, but you know what, that's okay, and Bridget Christie fully acknowledges that Ms Moran's books on being a feminist were clearly out there first, but who says there isn't room for more in this genre? 

If you haven't heard of Bridget Christie, she is a stand up comedian who at the time of writing can be found at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in a show called, A Book for Her.  This is both a funny and hard-hitting book.  Whilst Christie writes with humour, some of the subjects that she touches upon, such as FGM are not in the slightest bit funny, yet she is able to bring it to the front of people's minds with her original take on the subject area. 

I flew through this book whilst my girls built sandcastles on the beach, and all I can say is that every feminist should own a copy.  I'd also like to point out that I already own each of the books that Bridget tried to buy from the most unhelpful book seller ever and that he needs to find himself another job!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

No Other Darkness

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary
Published by Headline
30th July 2015
Paperback Edition


Two young boys.

Trapped underground in a bunker.

Unable to understand why they are there.

Desperate for someone to find them.

Slowly realising that no-one will...

Five years later, the boys' bodies are found and the most difficult case of DI Marnie Rome's career begins. Her only focus is the boys. She has to find out who they are and what happened to them.For Marnie, there is no other darkness than this...

This is the second book by Sarah Hilary, following on from her award-winning debut novel Someone Else's Skin (review here).  I won't beat about the bush here, this book is grim.  It begins with two children, under ten, who are living in a bunker. On their own.  With no way out.  You just know it's not going to end well, and as a parent I could feel my heart breaking as I started to read this book.

Five years later and the remains of the boys are discovered by Terry Boyle, owner of the property beneath which the bunker is hidden.  Who are these children, and why were they abandoned?  DI Marnie Rome is charged with finding out who the boys were, and more importantly, why they were left in the bunker in the first place.  They had food, toys and games with them so it looks as if they were being cared for, but did someone forget to come back for them, or was unable to?  Not only is the story-line good, but Sarah Hilary's characters are too.  Marnie Rome and her sidekick Noah Jake are well developed, and the book continues to focus on their home lives too, building up a well-rounded picture of the two detectives which I particularly liked.

There are a whole host of suspects in the street above ground; from Mr Cole, the neighbour who collects children's toys, to the fostered teenager Clancy, who always seems to be spying on the other neighbours, and what of the family who discovered the remains. are the Boyles also above suspicion?

Sarah Hilary keeps you turning the pages well into the night with this book.  Beware though, if like me you are claustrophobic.  At one point I had to remember to keep breathing slowly as the darkness enveloped not just those in the book, but me too!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Friday, 14 August 2015

The Pocket Wife

The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford
Published by Faber & Faber
30th July 2015
Paperback Edition

Dana Catrell wakes from a drunken stupor in time to see an ambulance pull into her neighbour's house a few doors down. Celia Steinhauser has been murdered. But Dana was at her house only a few hours ago. Celia wanted to show her a photo - a photo of Dana's husband with another woman - and Dana has blank spots about what happened to the rest of the afternoon . . .

This is a thriller that makes the reader question everything. Dana, we learn, has a history of mental illness and as she descends into another manic episode, the line between what actually happened and what she has imagined becomes blurred.

Oddly enough I've not seen any publicity about this book's release at all, so when I saw it glaring down at me from the book shelf in the shop I was intrigued to find out more.  It's so easy to put a book into a similar vein as another, but I guess in some ways this is like the female narrated thrillers of today, the Gone Girl, Before I go to Sleep novels that have been hitting the shelves over the past few years.  Having read it, I actually think The Pocket Wife would make a great film as it's a very visual novel and one that I could imagine watching at the cinema.

Dana wakes up to hear sirens near by.  Glancing out of the window she sees her neighbour's husband anxiously waiting on the street outside.  Still fuzzy from her afternoon of drinking, she rushes over to discover that Celia has been murdered in her house, hit over the head with a vase and left to die there. Dana cannot remember much of the afternoon's events, except that Celia called her to come over as she had something to show her: a photo of Dana's husband and another woman.  She knows that they had an argument but the rest of the afternoon has been blacked out of her memory.

This is a novel with an unreliable author, Dana suffers from being bi-polar and isn't always taking her medication, therefore can we, or any of the other characters in the book, believe what she tells us.  There are many other characters in the book who aren't entirely whom they seem on the surface.  Celia's husband is caught rifling through Dana's bag in the supermarket, Dana's husband Peter clearly has something to hide if the photo Celia had on her phone is anything to go by, and Detective Jack Moss, who like most detectives has his own messed-up life to deal with, discovers his estranged son also knew the victim.

So who did kill Celia Steinhauser?  With a cast of suspicious characters this large, it's not easy to pinpoint who it might be. The ending might not have been as sharp as I'd have liked, but then I've been saying that of many of the thrillers I've read recently.  The Pocket Wife is worth a read though.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Sunday, 9 August 2015

No Other Darkness

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary
Published by Headline
30th July 2015
Paperback Edition
I'm thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Sarah Hilary's second novel No Other Darkness which came out in paperback at the end of July.  It follows on from her highly successful debut Someone Else's Skin which has just been awarded the Theakstons Old Peculier crime novel of the year award.  If you haven't read it yet, my review can be found here.  To wet your appetite, here's an extract from the book, and my review will be coming soon.
She looked away from the bed, to the wall where the food cans were stacked. The bunker was organised like living space: the food kept as far as possible from the corner where a bucket was covered with a mouldy towel. The bed was segregated from the play area by a space for getting dressed and undressed. The degree of organisation said this was a long-term arrangement. Permanent, the way a life sentence is permanent. Pitiful. 
She tried to imagine bagging and tagging the contents of the bunker. Most of it would fall apart the second it was touched. Rust had eaten under the ring-pulls on the tins, growing ghostly green flowers. The tins touched a memory, frail, in the back of her head. Steel wants to be iron oxide. She’d learned that at school, remembered the teacher telling the class, ‘We dig it up and beat it into steel, but it doesn’t last. Steel wants to be iron oxide.’ Kettles, cans and cars, the foundations of a thousand high-rises, all with the same ruddy heart lusting to be iron oxide again, to corrode or collapse. It was happening down here, in the dark. She could taste the iron on her tongue, its flavour like blood.  
She shone her torch on the nearest of the cans, to check whether any attempt had been made to open it, and to see what kind of food it contained.  
In the wreckage of one peeling label she read, ‘Peaches.’  
She must’ve eaten tinned peaches as a child. Syrupy, slippy, a pink taste although the fruit was orange. She reached out and touched a fingertip, just a tip, to the nearest can. Rust whispered under her gloved touch, like feathers.  
They wouldn’t get fingerprints from anything in here.  
In which case, how would they find whoever did this?  
She needed to know who was responsible for what she couldn’t look at, not yet.  
Her mobile phone pressed hard into her hip as she crouched by the side of the bed. The torchlight didn’t make a difference, not really. It just stirred at the shadows, like a stick stirring at mud. She looked around for child-sized torches. Surely they weren’t expected to get dressed in the dark, or to use the bucket in the dark, and why allow them books unless – 
Under the pillows.  
They’d put the torches under their pillows, to keep them safe and close at hand. They’d cuddled together because of the dark. Scared – 
The word wasn’t big enough.
Happy Reading
Miss Chapter x

Friday, 7 August 2015

In Conversation with Anna McKerrow

Today I am in conversation with Anna McKerrow, author of the brilliant Crow Moon.  Thanks for dropping by Anna.

For those who don't know you, can you tell people about your interest in paganism?
It was always there; my mum was a very spiritual person and talked to me about everything from a very young age – reincarnation, God, death, spirits, you name it. She’d had a lot of supernatural experiences and her aunt, my great aunt, was in the Spiritualist Church. Mum was friends with a few white witches (as they called themselves - I think the phrase has gone out of parlance now) so when I came across Wicca and paganism in my teens it was all quite natural and logical to me. In my twenties I started Reiki and healing and studying tarot more deeply, and then other things like herbalism and Celtic pagan traditions.


Crow Moon is the first in a trilogy of books about the Greenworld.  What's next for Daniel?
Ha! Well, I can’t say too much of course, but suffice to say there’s lots more adventure, magic, misfortune and affairs of the heart to experience for all the characters! Danny ends book 1 by returning to his home village where he has a lot of work to do – lots has happened while he’s been away.

What made you decide to move from writing poetry to concentrating on a set of Young Adult books?
I had been working at Booktrust already for a few years and came into contact with children’s books as a matter of course, and became more and more interested in YA. I read quite a few US YA witchy titles (basically because I’ll always pick up a magical-themed book) and I thought there was something different I could write, set in the magical landscape of the UK, something a bit more gritty and ecological. And with more realistic magic. I realise that sentence sounds a bit bonkers but magic  - the art of making positive change in your life and the world - really IS real. In my view, though, that’s as much about working hard for a promotion as lighting a candle and asking a deity to help you find a new job.

Any advice to anyone dreaming of becoming an author?
Believe in yourself, keep writing, write for no purpose, don’t expect everything to become something, work on your craft, be tough enough to face rejection because you’ll get loads, and at the same time, believe in your writing enough to know it’s great! Also, go to courses, events, network and meet book industry people – other writers, agents, publisher people, in person if you can and online.

Where do you get your writing inspiration from?
I think it percolates. I find I’ve been mulling issues and ideas for a long time when they eventually come out, sometimes it’s years until I find what I want to say about something. There’s the stuff I think is cool which is a life constant – music, spirituality, art, books, biker dudes, sci-fi, tattoos and the great outdoors. Then there’s new ideas that come in from stuff in the news, stuff I read, people I know, and all that mixes up together. I think it’s much the same for most people making creative things. I like making links.

What are you working on next?
I’m working on Book 2 and 3 at the same time right now, editing one and writing the other. Sleep is a distant friend. And I have loads of other stuff I want to write too. I need 5 of me. I’m not sure anyone else would agree.

If, heaven forbid, there was a fire, what possession would you grab first to save?
This is providing that all the people and the cat are safe, right? I don’t know. Everything. I’d be sad to lose my notebooks; my son’s baby clothes; heirlooms from my grandparents.

What five people, living or dead, would you choose to invite to a dinner party?
Aha! Such a great dinner party discussion topic in itself, because the people you’re really interested in the most might not be the greatest dinner party companions – like, I’m fascinated by Nikola Tesla but who knows what his grasp of current affairs was like? Was he charming or boring? You can’t have a bore at a dinner party. So I have to go for a bubbly, bright and hilarious dinner party with Russell Brand, Rik Mayall, Dianne Wiest, Emma Thompson and Bill Bailey. Then another more laid back and cool dinner with Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, David Lynch, Kim Gordon and Elizabeth Taylor. Then maybe another evening with Salvador Dali, Aleister Crowley, Tesla, Joan of Arc and JW Waterhouse just for sheer weirdness/brilliance, but god only knows if we’d get out alive from that one. Things would be burnt. There would definitely be graffiti in the bathroom. I’d quite like to be one of those people that’s known for hosting artistic dinner parties, like a salon. That would be fun.

CROW MOON is available at all good bookshops; book 2 in the trilogy will be available in March 2016. You can find out more about Anna on or or follow her on Twitter: AnnaMckerrow

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Thursday, 6 August 2015


Fishbowl: What the Goldfish saw as he Fell from the 27th Floor by Bradley Somer
Published by Ebury Press
6th August 2015
Hardback Edition

Even a goldfish can dream of adventure…

From his enviable view from a balcony on the 27th floor of an apartment block, Ian the Goldfish has frequent – if fleeting – desires for a more exciting life. Until one day, a series of unfortunate events gives him an opportunity to escape…

Our story begins, however, with the human inhabitants of Ian’s building. There is the handsome student, his girlfriend, and his mistress; an agoraphobic sex worker, the invisible caretaker; the pregnant woman on bed rest; and the home-schooled boy, Herman, who thinks he can travel through time.

And as Ian tumbles perilously downwards, he will witness all their lives, loves, triumphs and disasters…

Ian, the Goldfish, lives on the balcony of the 27th floor of an apartment belonging to Connor, a cheating love-rat.  As his bowl is tipped one day, he makes an unfortunate 4 second plummet from his home on the 27th floor to the pavement below, and Fishbowl is a glimpse into the lives of the other residents as he passes them by.

Alongside Connor, we have his devoted girlfriend Katie, who on her way up to find out if he loves her, is passed on the way down by Faye, the woman who has just tumbled out of Connor's bed.  We have Herman, a home-schooled child who lives with his grandfather who suffers from epilepsy but believes he can see the lives of those he meets, both past and future.  We also meet the caretaker of the building, known only by the name on his shirt, who harbours a secret and of Claire, who suffers from agoraphobia and hasn't left her apartment for years so now uses the telephone for her job, talking dirty to men who call her.  By the end of the book, two ambulances will have been called, but for whom, and why?

Fishbowl is a enjoyable read, and I got through it in one sitting.  I like books where there are lots of characters who all live separate lives but then they become inextricably entwined, in this case, by where they live.  Bradley Somer does just this and it works well.  You feel drawn to each character, and most of them, by the end of the book, get their just deserts.  The book also has the added bonus of a glimpse of Ian on every page as he makes his way from the top floor to the pavement at the end of the book.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x