Win a Skype Chat with Adele Parks


As you might already know, the paperback of MEN I’VE LOVED BEFORE is out today.  It’s Adele’s tenth bestseller in ten years, thanks to you guys!  So we wanted to do something a bit different, a special event to thank some of you in person…

Using the wonders of technology, we’re offering five of you – plus your friends - the chance to chat to Adele in a venue of your choosing, via skype - all you’ll need is a computer and internet access, and saying hello face to face is just a touch of a button away…

You might have a book group who’ve read or are going to read MEN I’VE LOVED BEFORE; maybe you’re a member of a library who you think would like to host the skype event; you might have a regular coffee morning, or gather with other mums and readers at an after school club, or maybe you work with people who love to read too.   Who and where is up to you - if you’d be interested in getting a group together – large or small – to chat to Adele and tell her about your experience of her books, we’d love to hear from you.

We’ll be running events with the selected five groups on the week of 2nd May, and are flexible to find times that suit you and your group.  Places are limited so apply soon – all you have to do is send an email to me rosie.gailer@headline.co.uk, explaining in a few lines who you and your group are, and why and where you’d like to chat – deadline is Thursday 21st April…

If you haven’t used skype before, you’ve been missing out! It’s super easy – a completely free, quickly downloadable application that lets you make free video calls to anyone, anywhere in the world at any time.  Find out more here:

Adele’s really looking forward to chatting to you!

Rosebush Winner!!!

Names were put into a hat this morning and Mr S did the honours! The winner of Rosebush by Michele Jaffe is...


Congratulations! I shall email you to get your postal address! Thanks to everyone who entered!


Book Review: The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett

Three years ago, forensics expert David Hunter abandoned his old life after a tragedy nearly destroyed him. Now working as a doctor in a remote Norfolk village, he believes he's left his past behind...
But then they find what's left of Sally Palmer. The body has been savagely mutilated. The police need Hunter's expertise to find the killer but he is desperate to remain uninvolved. Then a second woman disappears and the close-knit community that had been Hunter's refuge becomes a maelstrom of fear and paranoia. No-one is exempt from suspicion. Suddenly there is no place to hide.
This is the last book that I have read for The Great Transworld Crime Caper and it is definitely my favourite of the three.
David Hunter moves to the small town of Manham, he quickly discovers that unless you were born there then you will always be considered an outsider. He doesn't mind too much and tries to get on with his new life as the village GP. But then Sally Palmer's body is found, she too was an outsider but the village goes into shock. Before moving to Manham, David was a forensic anthropologist, when the police find out, they call on him to help with the case as they are at a complete loss. He is very reluctant to help but knows that he has a duty to do so. The villagers don't see it that way though and their suspicions about Dr Hunter are raised. When a second woman from the village disappears, David and the police know that they have a serial killer on the loose, one that could be living among them.
Simon Beckett really captured the small village atmosphere. When the villagers join together, it begins to feel like a witch hunt with no escape and this really adds to the overall tension in the book.
I thought that the forensic anthropology aspect of the book was fascinating and it was clear that the author had done their research. It was really interesting to see how the tiniest elements of a crime scene can yield enormous clues that the killer wouldn't even be aware of.
The author is extremely good at leading you down one path, letting you think that you have worked it all out and then yanking you back down a different path. I loved this about the book as I was kept guessing right until the very end.
I have really enjoyed The Great Transworld Crime Caper and I would like to thank Lynsey for organising it and introducing me to three fantastic authors.


Book Review: Snapped by Pamela Klaffke plus Author Interview

Fasion forward or plain fugly- can Sara still tell them apart?
Style guru Sara B has had the job- and joy- for the past fifteen years of eviscerating fashion victims in her legendary DOs and DON'Ts magazine feature. But now on the edge of forty, with ambitious hipster kids reinventing the style world, Sara's being spat out like an old polaroid picture.
Fuelled by alcohol, nicotine and self-loathing, Sara launches into cringe worthy series of blowups- personal, professional and private. She seems bent on destroying everything she's worked for. Can the faltering fashionista find her way back to the cutting edge?
Snapped concentrates on Sara who appears to be in the middle of some kind of mid-life crisis. She is very successful, she and business partner Ted run Snapped, a magazine that let's the readers know what is fashionable and what is not. However, Sara seems to have hit the self-destruct button. She photographs a young girl's outfit and declares it to be uncool, a rival publication features the same girl and argues that her look is cutting edge. This knock of confidence seems to send Sara spiralling out of control. She questions her work abilities, her personal life and begins to look more at the lives of those around her. Sara and Jack have been together for a long time but they don't live together and have an open relationship where they can have sex with others. Sara had been happy with this situation but she begins to question whether she is really happy, should she be expecting more at this stage of her life?
I did not like Sara at all during the first part of the book; I found her to be incredibly selfish and bitter. But as the book progressed and I realised that Sara's behaviour is down to her insecurities, I did like her more and wanted her to find some way to be comfortable with herself and the life she has created.
Sara's crisis of the confidence is the dominant part of the book but Pamela Klaffke also questions the idea of who decides what is cool and what isn't. We all pass comments on people's outfits etc but really, who are we to pass judgement? And are our judgements objective or do our personal feelings give our opinions some sway?
Snapped is a slightly uncomfortable read in parts, especially when Sara seems determined to hurt and upset everybody close to her. I did enjoy Pamela Klaffke's honest portrayal of the situation though and I think that many readers will identify with how Sara is feeling at this point in her life.

After reading Snapped I was able to ask the author Pamela Klaffke some questions, so here we go:

1. This is your first fictional book, was there anything in particular that inspired you to write it?
I had recently left my job as the literary editor at a daily newspaper and wanted to try something new, so fiction seemed an obvious choice. That's also when I took up photography. As for inspiration, I had worked as a lifestyle journalist for many years and had grown so fatigued of the hipster- what's cool- what's not brand of writing, that I felt it was ripe for satire.

2. Sara's job is to decide what's cool and what isn't and present her choices in a magazine article. Magazines are full of this type of feature, what are your thoughts on them?
Those pieces are so common now that I think they have lost any meaning. There are very few media outlets that have any influence in this manner. I tend to see the do's and don'ts as filler at this point.

3. Photography is obviously a huge part of your life. Writing is a very different way of expressing yourself, is it something you had always wanted to do?
I had always worked with photographers- as a stylist when I was younger,  then producing fashion shoots as a magazine and newspaper editor- so it has been part of my life for a long time. I didn't have much interest in taking the photos myself until I picked up a plastic toy camera (a Holga) in Spring 2007, around the same time I was writing Snapped. It's a huge part of my life now, and it's a great balance to the writing, I think, having to use a totally different part of my brain.

4. If you could have any actress play Sara in a film of your book, who would you choose?
Hmmm, probably Parker Posey. She's funny and I think she'd do a great job with the satirical elements of the story. 

Competition Winner: Getting Away With It by Julie Cohen

The winner of Getting Away With It by Julie Cohen is....


Congratulations! I loved your ice-cream flavour as I'm partial to a Malibu and coke myself!

I shall be in touch via email to get your postal address. Thanks for entering everyone!


Book Review: That Gallagher Girl by Kate Thompson

Fore free-spirited Cat Gallagher, having a roof over her head involves a spot of unofficial house sitting. Cat lands on her feet once again when she discovers a deserted villa in the village of Lissamore. But when the new owner unexpectedly arrives to take possession, Cat needs to think fast to avoid being thrown out on her ear.
Rio Kinsella is also in a predicament. When an old flame turns up on her door step, the future seems rosy, but Rio soon finds out that nothing is ever that simple- especially where love is concerned. Can both women find a way through their problems?
It took me a little while to get in to this book as there seemed to be a lot of characters and at first I wasn't entirely sure how they were all connected but once I got into it I found it very enjoyable.
Cat Gallagher is the daughter of world famous artist Hugo Gallagher and she is extremely talented in that area too. However, Cat is a bit of a drifter, she has no job or home and in the beginning of the book, no direction either. I liked the character a little more by the end of the book but I have to say that for the most part, I found her pretty annoying.
Cat ends up squatting effectively in a mansion in Lissamore. Finn, the new owner's son returns to work on the house so Cat has to come up with  something quickly in order to keep a roof over her head. Finn is actually doing the house up for his Dad, movie star Shane and so he allows Cat to stay on in return for her decorating skills.
Rio Kinsella is Finn's Mum and when her old flame Adair returns to the village she can envision a very happy future together. But she still has a place in her heart for Shane so how will she feel when she learns that he is returning too?
That Gallagher Girl is an enjoyable read. It is about friendship and love and the opportunities we take and those we decide to pass on by. I loved the Irish setting and will look out for Kate Thompson's other books in the future.

Many thanks to Avon for sending me a copy to review, it is in shops now!


Book Review: Rosebush by Michele Jaffe + Win a copy of the book!

Jane doesn't remember being hit by a car and left for dead. But as she's convalescing she realises that her friends stories and her memories of what happened that night aren't adding up.
Very soon the only thing she does know is that one of her friends was trying to kill her. One of them still is...
Firstly I would like to say that the cover for this book is brilliant, one of my favourite so far this year. What's inside isn't too bad either. Jane wakes up in hospital after being run over. She was found in a rosebush, the driver did not stop to help. Jane's memory is fuzzy to say the least, she remembers being at a party with her friends but no idea how she ended up in intensive care, unable to move her legs.
Jane has a lot of friends, her best friends being Kate and Langley, or the three musketeers as they like to call themselves. Both friends were there as was her boyfriend David but they all seem unable to shed any light on the matter. Jane then starts receiving creepy gifts at the hospital and phone calls from someone saying they will be coming to finish her off properly this time. The doctors and even her own mother don't believe her, putting it down to hallucinations caused by all the medications she is on. But Jane knows she's not hallucinating, she can't believe it but she knows that one of her friends tried to kill her and will be coming back to finish off the job.
Michele Jaffe has written a very clever thriller. That fact that Jane is so helpless in her hospital bed just makes the whole situation even more desperate. The story takes place over 5 days so the pace is pretty fast, with short chapters leaving you wanting more. There were several twists that I didn't see coming and the last few chapters had me holding my breath.
Rosebush is going to appeal to many young adult readers. I agree with Atom that there are not enough young adult thriller writers, I think that Michele Jaffe will be a leading light.

Many thanks to Atom for sending me a copy of this book to review.

I have a copy of this brilliant book to give away to any UK readers! All you need to do is leave me a comment with your email address. This competition will remain open until Midnight on March 30th and I shall pick a winner. Any comments without email addresses will not be entered! Good luck! 


So Close the Hand of Death by J.T. Ellison

Across America, murders are being committed with all the twisted hallmarks of the Boston Strangler, the Zodiac Killer and Son of Sam. The medial frenzy explodes and Nashville homicide lieutenant, Taylor Jackson knows instantly that The Pretender is back...and he's got helpers.
As The Pretender's disciples perpetrate their sick tributes- stretching police and FBI dangerously thin- Taylor tries desperately to prepare for their inevitable showdown. And she must do it alone. To be close to her is to be in mortal danger, and she won't risk losing anyone she loves. But the isolation, the self-doubt and the rising body count are taking their toll: she's trip-wire tense and ready to snap.
The brilliant psychopath who both adores and despises her is drawing close. Close enough to touch...
So Close the Hand of Death is the 6th in the Taylor Jackson series by J.T. Ellison. I don't normally like reading books in a series unless I have started from the beginning but I don't think it caused too many problems this time.
Taylor Jackson is our protagonist, she is extremely feisty but she knows that she and those she holds dear are under threat. The Pretender is the threat, he has just tortured Taylor's colleague and father-figure Fitz and made it very clear that he is coming for Taylor next.
The Pretender is just that, he is a copy-cat killer, mimicking violent murderers from the past. He moves around the country, changing victims and modes of killing, making him near impossible to catch. In So Close the Hand of Death he has recruited three apprentices who kill on his instruction, he is merely the puppet master, holding all the strings.
As Taylor draws closer she understands that she has to catch him alone, if she involves anyone then she knows for sure that their lives will be in danger. The thing is, Taylor hasn't decided what she will do to The Pretender once she has him, does her deserve to live after the devastation he has caused?
So Close the Hand of Death is a gripping read. There is a lot going on in terms of different events and characters but I was very impressed with the way that J.T. Ellison brought it all together at the end. I think it is a clever book as the characters are extremely well developed, the author gives snippets here and there so we get a clear picture of the characters and the motives for their behavior.
J.T. Ellison builds the suspense from the very beginning and I was not disappointed by the last chapters. I would recommend So Close the Hand of Death , it is a series that I will be investigating further.

Many thanks to Mira for sending me a copy of this book to review.


GIVEAWAY!! Getting Away With It by Julie Cohen

I read the hardback copy of Getting Away With it by Julie Cohen last year and it is published in paperback by Headline today. If you click here then it will take you to my review but here's a little bit about the book:

'Wherever there's trouble, there's Liza Haven...' That's what the villagers of Stoneguard used to say. But when your identical twin sister's the local golden girl, sometimes it's more fun to be the bad twin. 
Now working in LA as a stuntwoman, Liza can be as wild as she wants. But when she loses her job, and almost her life, she's forced to return home. 
Only, things have changed in Stonegaurd and her sister Lee has gone, deserting their difficult mother, a flagging family business and a dangerously attractive boyfriend. What's more the whole village thinks that Liza is Lee.
Can Liza get away with pretending to be the good twin? Or is it finally time to discover who she really is?

I have a paperback copy of Getting Away With It it to give away within the UK. All you have to do is leave your email address in the comment section and tell me what your dream flavour of ice-cream would be (it will make sense once you've read the book!). This competition will close at midnight on Thursday 24th March and I shall pick a winner! Good luck!


Book Review: When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman

This is a book about a brother and a sister. It's a book about childhood and growing up, friendships and families, triumphs and tragedy and everything in between. More than anything, it's a book about love in all its forms.
This book felt very different from anything I have ever read, in a good way, it felt completely original.
When God Was a Rabbit revolves around Elly as she grows up at the end of the 1970s. She has a brother Joe and they have a very normal like with their parents. There is nothing extraordinary about the family but we follow them as world events occasionally come knocking at their door. We all have those conversations, telling each other where we were when we heard that Princess Diana had died and when the first plane hit the twin towers on 9/11. Sarah Winman describes how these events and many others affected Elly and her family.
The book explores relationships, those within a family and those special people that we take in and make part of the family, even though they weren't there from the beginning. The relationship between Elly and her brother Joe is just lovely. I think that Sarah Winman shows that what other people know about us and the memories they have are often just as important as our own. You sometimes need someone to have shared something otherwise it doesn't always feel real.
There is a plot to this book in that there are several pivotal moments but the characters are the key. I didn't need exciting things to be happening around them to enjoy the characters; I think this is what makes the book so special.
I know that When God Was a Rabbit will stay with me for a long time and I think it will appeal to many different readers so I highly recommend giving it a go.

Many thanks to Headline for sending me a copy of this book to review.


Book Review: Birdman by Mo Hayder

Greenwich, south-east London. DI Jack Caffery- young, driven, unshockable- is called to one of the most gruesome crime scenes he has ever seen.
Five young women have bee ritualistically murdered and dumped on wasteland near the Dome. Subsequent post-mortems reveal a singular, horrific signature linking the victims.
Soon Caffery realises that he is on the trail of that most dangerous offender: a serial killer. Beset by animosity within the police force, haunted by the memory of a very personal death, long ago, Caffery employs every weapon forensic science can offer to hunt him down.
Because he knows that it is only a matter of time before this sadistic killer strikes again...
This book is the second that I have read for The Great Transworld Crime Caper. I have not read any of Mo Hayder's previous books but after reading Birdman, I am definitely a fan.
The book centres around DI Jack Caffery, he like many fictional detectives has some skeletons in his closet but he really is a good guy, I really warmed to him throughout the book and he is a character I would like to read more of in the future.
Jack's team uncover the bodies of five women who have been buried for different periods of time. they have all be ritualistically killed and it appears that a small, live bird was sewn into their chests. With a body count of five to begin with, Jack knows that they are looking for a sadistic serial killer and time is not on their side.
Mo Hayder scatters clues throughout the book and then ties all the strings together at the end. I was on the edge of my seat several times but I don't think I was ever able to guess what would happen next. There are some very gruesome descriptions in the book, highlighting the depravity of the killer.
The only negative thing I can say is that there is a lot of medical vocabulary used in the book. Luckily I am married to a doctor so I could ask a few questions; it does add to the feeling of authenticity but it may send a few readers searching on Google.
Birdman is a brilliant thriller which I would highly recommend. I really enjoyed reading it and I'm looking forward to trying others by the same author.

Many thanks to Transworld for sending me a copy of the book.


Book Review: Secret of the Sands by Sara Sheridan

Will their fate be decided on the sands?
The year is 1833 and the British Navy are engaged in surveying the coastline of the Arabian Peninsula. Young and ambitious, Lieutenant James Wellstead is determined to use his time in His Majesty's Service as a path to glory. His plans are thrown into disarray when two of his shipmates go missing while gathering intelligence and Wellstead must mount a daring rescue.
Slavery is still rife throughout Arabia. Zena, a headstrong Abyssinian beauty who was torn from her village, is now being offered for sale in the market of Muscat. However, her fortunes change when she finds herself the property of the Lieutenant. She must accompany him on his hazardous mission, little knowing the fate that awaits them.
Each will be forced to make a choice- one that will change their lives forever.
In the historical note at the back of the book, Sara Sheridan explains that Secret of the Sands belongs to the 'faction' genre. The author read the real life accounts of naval officer, especially those of Lieutenant Wellstead and then has created the story around them. In some ways I wish I had known this at the beginning as I think it would have made the book even more interesting knowing that the characters actually existed.
However, Secret of the Sands is excellent, it is quite different from what I normally read but I really enjoyed it. Sara Sheridan has written a believable and entertaining story and packed it with rich details. I loved the descriptions of the people, the food, the landscapes, the dialogue, the religion, even the smells. There is a lot to take in during the book but I felt as though I had been given a breathtaking tour of the Arabian Peninsula.
I don't want to tell you too much more about the story, the blurb says it all and I don't want to spoil it for anyone. What I will say though is that the characters in the book are extremely well created, there are a lot of characters both British and Arabic and the differences and similarities that Sara Sheridan highlights are fascinating.
Zena was probably my favourite character. She is stolen from her village by slavers but shows tremendous resolve and bravery at the fate that has befallen her. When she comes under the care of Lieutenant Wellstead she can see that he is a kind man but she had no idea of the kind of feelings he would stir in her. Zena realises that she will do anything for Wellstead and this loyalty is greatly tested on several occasions.
Secret of the Sands is a romantic adventure, the story jumps from Britain, to Muscat to the wilds of the Arabian desert. I have found myself thinking of this book long after I finished the last page so I would highly recommend that you check it out.

Many thanks to Avon for sending me a copy of the book to review.


Book Review: You Are Next by Katia Lief

Detective Karin Schaeffer was a happily married mother until she got too close to catching a serial killer.
The press nickname him The Domino Killer because he systematically murders whole families leaving a trail of bloody dominoes as the only clues to his next victim. Having brutally slain Karin's husband and child, he had left her a chilling message written in her daughter's blood: You Are Next.
And now The Domino Killer has escaped prison and the police believe he's on his way to find her but Karin is waiting...
It has only taken me just over a day to read this book, it's not overly long but Katia Lief has the reader gripped.
Karin Schaeffer is almost an empty shell when we meet her; she has lost her husband and daughter, her family home and also the career that led to it all. The nightmare began when Karin uncovered the whereabouts of Martin Price when working as a detective Martin Price is The Domino Killer or JPP as the police describe him: Just Plain Psycho. He is a serial killer who wipes out whole families, leaving dominoes as the only clue to the fate of his next victim. He took his revenge on Karin by viciously murdering her husband and young daughter, vowing to come for her next. So when Karin learns that JPP has escaped from prison, she is waiting, does she want to finish him for good or is she hoping he will finish her so that she can be with her family again. JPP is always seemingly one step ahead, he is not just interested in Karin but her remaining family members. The game has changed and Karin knows that this time she cannot let him win.
I thought that Katia Lief created a great story. Martin Price is an extremely chilling character and I found the idea of the dominoes as calling cards to be very interesting and original. The book is gruesome in parts but we are dealing with a psychiatric serial killer so it is to be expected.
Katia Lief is very good at lulling the reader into a false sense of security. There were several points where I felt relied but then she ramped it up and the nightmare continued.
You Are Next is a great and highly recommended read, I will never look at a set of dominoes in the same way again.

Many thanks to Ebury Press for sending me a copy of the book to review.


Until It's Over by Nicci French

London cycle courier Astrid Bell is bad luck- for other people. First, Astrid's neighbour Peggy Farrell accidentally knocks her off her bike- and not long after is found bludgeoned to death in an alley. Then, a few days later, Astrid is asked to pick up a package- only to find the client slashed to pieces in the hallway. 
For the police, it's more than a mere coincidence. For Astrid and her six housemates, it's the beginning of a nightmare: suspicious glances, bitter accusations, fallings out and a growing fear that the worst is yet to come. 
I have read a few Nicci French books in the past and enjoyed them but I found Until It's Over really disappointing. I liked the idea of the book  which is obviously why I picked it up. You are left wondering for a long time whether Astrid is just unlucky or whether she had a part to play in the murders. The book is in two parts, the first follows Astrid as the events unfold and the second is the retelling of the same story from the murderer's perspective.
I felt as though the characters and the dialogue really let this book down as neither were believable. Even when Astrid and her housemates were talking to the police, I failed to find it realistic in any way.
I wouldn't let this review put you off Nicci French's other books, I have read Catch Me When I Fall, The Red Room and Secret Smile, all of which were excellent but Until It's Over just didn't do it for me.


COMPETITION WINNERS: Marrying Out of Money by Nicky Schmidt and A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Well names have been drawn and I can let you know that Sue Hyams has won the chance to meet the lovely Deborah Harkness and Susan K. Mann (who entered on here) and Cherry will get a signed copy of A Discovery of Witches, enjoy ladies!!

I have five winners for the Kindle copies of Marrying out of Money by Nicky Schmidt, they are:

1. Nikki
2. Nadia
3. Jo's Book Journey
4. R. Murthwaite
5. ACF- I don't have an email from you so could you get in touch as I will need it for the publishers. If I haven't received it by 6.00pm on Friday 4th March then I shall have to pass it on to someone else.

I will be passing your emails on to Nicky's publishers who shall organise the Kindle copies for you, hope you enjoy reading them and thanks for entering!

BOOK REVIEW: Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

On a windswept English beach in the early 19 th Century, two women make discoveries that change the world. And in so doing find friendshi...