Tuesday 31 May 2016

Blogiversary winner announcement!!

My first blogiversary giveaway has ended and it's time to announce the winner of the £10 Amazon voucher!

Drum roll please. . . . . . . . .

Well done Sue!! Please contact me at hazardoushippo@mail.com within 24 hours to claim your voucher.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to enter. It was lovely to see you all and you've certainly given me some more books to check out. Who knows I might even pick up a book you've recommended and review it here on my blog!

I'd also like to say thanks to my little hippo helpers, Howie and Hamlet for picking out the winner.

Sunday 29 May 2016

My Name Is Leon - Kit de Waal

My Name Is Leon is the heart-rending story of nine-year-old Leon who hasn't had the best start in life.

It's London in the 1980's and Leon's mum Carol has just given birth to Jake but it's not a happy time for the single parent of the two boys. Carol soon becomes detached from everything and Leon takes on the responsibilities of looking after his baby brother and his mum.

Unsurprisingly it's not long before social services are alerted to the situation and Leon and Jake are placed in foster care with a lady called Maureen. Then social services make the decision that Jake would be suitable for adoption but Leon finds the whole situation hard to comprehend and just wants his little family back together.

 Over the next few months life is very unsettled for Leon, he briefly sees his mother and Maureen is taken to hospital but he is able to find some solace when he makes a new friend and starts learning about gardening at the allotments.

Told from the perspective of a nine-year-old boy, Kit de Waal has done a great job of getting inside a child's head in this thought provoking novel. Tackling issues such as race, adoption and mental illness to name but a few, each one is sensitively and skillfully undertaken making what could have been a depressing story into a heartwarming and uplifting one instead. There were a few times when I had a lump in my throat and wished that I could reach into the book and give Leon a big hug when things were tough for him. His character is written in such a beautiful way that you can't help but feel sympathy for him, being a victim of circumstances beyond his control. Out of all the other characters I loved Maureen who just wants the best for these two brothers but being an experienced foster carer knows that there isn't always a happy ending but still fights Leon's corner for him in whatever way she can.

Overall I thought this was an impressive debut novel from an author who is clearly very talented and I hope there will be more to come.

My Name is Leon is published on 2nd June and is available to pre-order here.

With kind thanks to publishers Penguin Books and NetGalley for the review copy.

Sunday 22 May 2016

High Crimes - David Lawlor

High Crimes is a contemporary mystery full of intricate twists and turns and an intriguing cast of characters.

Tommy Reynolds is a crane operator who spends his days fifteen stories up. Tommy loves his job and he also loves taking advantage of his aerial location to spy on a few select people who live in an apartment block opposite the site. His binoculars are replaced with recording equipment and then he's spending his evenings watching back the footage, getting to know their routines so that he can unassumingly manoeuvre himself into their lives, resulting in devastating repercussions for one resident.

But Tommy 'Peeping Tom' Reynolds isn't the only villain in this clever novel, there's ex-priest Cathal Mac Liam, a serial sex-abuser whose crimes have never been discovered. . . until now when these two seemingly unconnected stories weave together.

I really enjoyed reading this book. The writing is sharp and the characters are well developed and believable, especially Paddy, who I thought was the most engaging character in the novel. Despite having his own personal problems to deal with he still finds time to help out with the police investigations where he can and I felt a real empathy for him. The story is intriguing and I was compelled to keep reading to find out how the two stories were going to come together.

This is the first book I've read by David Lawlor so I didn't know what to expect, but after reading High Crimes I wouldn't hesitate to read more of his work.

With kiind thanks to author David Lawlor for the review copy.

Saturday 21 May 2016

Blogiversary giveaway!

As you know it was my first blogiversary this week and to celebrate I'm giving away a £10 Amazon voucher.

To be in with a chance of winning all you have to do is leave a comment here on my blog telling me the name of the best book you've read so far this year and why you thought it was so good. All names will be put in a hat and a winner will be picked at random at midday on 31st May. Make a note in your diary to check back on that day as the winner will be announced here shortly after.

This competition is only open to UK residents and the winner will need to contact me via email with their details within 24 hours of being announced. Failure to do so will result in the prize being offered to another entrant.

Wednesday 18 May 2016

Happy first blogiversary to me!

Incase you hadn't already guessed, it's my first blogiversary today!

On Sunday 10th May 2015 I posted my first post. It wasn't much, just a little welcome message outlining my plans for my humble little blog. Then on the 18th of May I posted my very first book review for Peter Dudgeon's fabulous book Chance and you can read it here.

Well things have certainly moved on since then. I'm part of a fun community of people who all love books just as much as I do. I've made lots of new friends and thanks to a wonderful Facebook group called Book Connectors (the brain child of the lovely Anne Cater) I've connected with other bloggers, authors and publishers on a more personal level.

Over the last year I've discovered so many new and amazing authors who I possibly would never have heard of if it wasn't for my blog and I've learnt so many things about the book industry as a whole. I've also been lucky enough to meet some of these incredible people when I travelled up to London for an author and blogger meet up. Despite being nervous about only having ever interacted with these people online, I put on my big girl pants, hopped on the train and had a fantastic time making new friends as well as fangirling when I came face to face with Barbara Copperthwaite - author of Flowers For The Dead.

I've also done a few author Q&A's which is always fun and I'm hoping to do a few more over the coming months, so watch this space!

There's always something going on in the book blogosphere and I'm having so much fun being a part of it.

I'd also like to say thank you to everyone who takes the time to stop by and read my reviews. It's nice to know that I just might be writing something that makes you think that you'd like to read the book I've just reviewed and if you leave me a comment. . . . well that's a sure fire way of putting a smile on my face. So I'd like to say a big thank you to you all.

I've got some great books to review over the next few weeks and months and I'll be taking part in a very exciting blog tour. But before all of that, this weekend there will be something special happening here on my blog to officially celebrate my first blogiversary so please do come back and check it out!

One last thing before I go - if you'd like to get more news on books, new and old and other bookish things to feed your habit you can also find and interact with me via the links below.


It would be great to hear from you so why not stop by and say hello!
Have a great rest of the week and I'll see you all again on Saturday.

Neats x

Sunday 15 May 2016

See You Soon - NC Marshall

See You Soon is the second captivating psychological thriller by NC Marshall.

Emily is on her way home from work, checking her emails when she notices a name from the past in amongst her junk email. Instantly intrigued and with past memories of her old childhood friend flashing through her mind, she quickly opens the email. But this is no catch up email, sharing news of what her friend has been up to, it's quite the opposite, her old friend Alison is in trouble, she's scared and she needs someone to talk to. There's a phone number included so Emily calls it but it goes straight through to an answering machine and she leaves a message.

Several days go by and Emily doesn't hear back from Ali so she tries to forget about it, telling herself that everything must be ok now but she can't shake a bad feeling that she has so she contacts the police in her old hometown of Sandbroke and it's not long before Emily finds herself travelling back to the seaside town of her childhood that she vowed she would never return to fifteen years ago.

Once she's back in Sandbroke she encounters a few familiar faces but it soon becomes apparent that someone is playing games with her. Is it Alison herself leaving clues to help Emily find her or are they being left to taunt her by someone else who has a more sinister reason for wanting to get back in touch with Emily.

I was hooked straight away by the prologue which described someone aware that they're being followed in a busy shopping area, being threatened with a gun, a deafening bang and then they see nothing but darkness. This was definitely a story with potential and I wasn't disappointed. Emily's past was gradually revealed as well as her childhood friendship with Alison at just the right pace to make me think that I knew who was behind Alison's disappearance on several occasions only for my theory to be proved wrong not long after. The twists and turns keep coming which only caused me to read faster and faster and before I knew it I'd reached the end and all my questions had been answered.

NC Marshall is definitely an author with a very promising future ahead of her and I would highly recommend both See You Soon and her debut, Sleep Peacefully to anyone who enjoys a gripping psychological thriller.

With kind thanks to author NC Marshall for the review copy.

Saturday 14 May 2016

See How They Run - Tom Bale

Imagine waking up in the small hours of the morning and finding masked intruders in your bedroom. That's exactly what happens to Alice and Harry French in See How They Run.

These aren't opportunistic burglars, these men know exactly what they're looking for, but Alice and Harry have no idea about either a package or a man named Renshaw. Before the men leave they threaten the young couple and their eight week old baby, warning them not to contact the police or they will come back and carry out their threats.

This is just the beginning of the nightmarish journey the couple have unwittingly begun. Harry is followed by Ruth who wants to know what happened with the intruders the night before but is insistent that she isn't a part of it, while Alice thinks she knows where to find the mysterious Mr Renshaw. The couple become separated, not knowing who to trust and desperate to know that the other one is safe.

The tension in this book was palpable and I had to remind myself to breathe on several occasions! Tom Bale does a fantastic job of combining the two complex storylines so that they are both relentless in pace without compromising on either story and with characters that are entirely credible. There are a couple of things I should warn you about though, don't start reading this book just before you go to bed as you're sure to have nightmares and don't pick it up when you only have a limited time for reading as this book is guaranteed to make you lose track of time.

This is a book that the term "page-turner" is all about, and in my opinion a must read book for all fans of crime novels. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a Tom Bale back catalogue to check out.

Sunday 8 May 2016

My Husband's Wife - Jane Corry

My Husband's Wife is a tense, psychological thriller told in two halves.

Lily and Ed are a married couple with secrets. Lily is committed to her job as a lawyer but Ed isn't happy with the long hours that she works, while Lily is jealous of Ed's ex-girlfriend and suspects him of having an affair. Not a great start for a newly married couple just back from their honeymoon in Italy.

While they are adjusting to married life, their neighbour, Francesca is struggling to bring up her young daughter, Carla. Life as a single parent, holding down a job and taking care of Carla isn't easy for Francesca but she has Larry to lean on for support. Carla struggles to fit in at school and doesn't always like Larry but after an incident at school one day she befriends Lily and she soon becomes a weekly visitor to Ed and Lily's home while her mother works.

When Lily takes on a high profile case defending Joe Thomas, a convicted murderer, she finds herself getting emotionally involved as Joe reminds her of her brother Daniel. While Lily is concentrating on her case, Ed is spending more time with Carla who has become the muse for his aspirations to become an artist.

The second half of the book picks up their story some years later and Lily is now a successful partner at the law firm, still married to Ed and they have a son. Carla, now a young woman, is returning to London after living in Italy with her mother and grandparents and she is studying to be a lawyer. She's heard that Ed sold his portrait of her, aptly titled "The Italian Girl", for a large sum of money and she feels that she's entitled to a share of it. She also wants to find Larry to pass on a message from her mother.

When Carla finally tracks down Lily and Ed it's the start of a cataclysmic chain of events that will change all of their lives.

This is a real slow burner of a book but it has to be that way so that you can get under the skin of each character and understand them. The story is told by both Lily and Carla in alternating chapters and, like any good psychological thriller, the end of each chapter will leave you in suspense of what is coming next. Every character is flawed and sometimes their motives are questionable but that makes them appear real. Full of twists, turns and red herrings this is a book full of  multi-layered characters whose lives become intricately linked forever and perfect for fans of darker thrillers like me. Jane Corry has written an impressive debut novel and I'm looking forward to reading more from her.

My Husband's Wife is available on kindle from the 26th May and you can pre-order it here.

With kind thanks to publishers Penguin and NetGalley for the review copy.

Monday 2 May 2016

Death In Profile - Guy Fraser-Sampson

Death In Profile is an absorbing crime thriller written in a clever mix of old school and contemporary style.

This is the first in the Hampstead Murder series and it certainly gets off to a good start with a serial killer nicknamed the condom killer, who has been giving the police the runaround for the last eighteen months and they've just claimed their fifth victim.

Tom Allen has been heading up the investigation since the start but he's been replaced by new kid on the block Simon Collison when it's felt that a fresh pair of eyes are needed. When a profiler is brought in it gives the team some new leads to follow and it's not long before they have a scrap of forensic evidence as well as a suspect.

However, it soon becomes clear that this case isn't going to be as clean cut as it appears and once again the investigation takes another turn. The story that follows is a skillful blend of old and new detectives as the perplexing quest to catch the killer unfolds.

I really enjoyed this book as I experienced the highs and lows of the teams sometimes bungling attempts to solve the crime. I initially found the references to the bygone era of the fictional Lord Peter Wimsey and the role playing amongst some of the characters a little odd, but I soon got used to it and thought it was a very inventive twist, which for me, gives it an edge over other police procedural novels. Guy Fraser-Sampson has written a novel which has left me wanting to find out more about his real, but flawed characters and I'm genuinely looking forward to reading the next in the series.

With kind thanks to the author and Urbane Publications for the review copy.