Sweetpea by C.J. Skuse

Sweetpea by C.J. Skuse

The last person who called me Sweetpea ended up dead…

I haven’t killed anyone for three years, and I thought that when it happened again I’d feel bad. Like an alcoholic taking a sip of whiskey. But no. Nothing. I had a blissful night’s sleep. Didn’t wake up at all. And for once, no bad dream either. This morning I feel balanced. Almost sane, for once.

Rhiannon is your average girl next door, settled with her boyfriend and little dog…but she’s got a killer secret.

Although her childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhiannon’s life is normal now that her celebrity has dwindled. By day, her job as an editorial assistant is demeaning and unsatisfying. By evening, she dutifully listens to her friends’ plans for marriage and babies while secretly making a list.

A kill list.

From the man at the grocery checkout who always mishandles her apples, to the driver who cuts her off on her way to work, to the people who have it coming, Rhiannon is ready to get her revenge.

Because the girl everyone overlooks might be able to get away with murder…

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve been lucky to read a lot of books over the years – even more since I started reviewing books. Predictably the books I’ve read have run the scale from good to bad. Unfortunately for me, my first read of 2019 was a disappointment given how much I was looking forward to it.33229410

Sweetpea is the first book written for adults from YA author C.J. Skuse. It is written in the form of a diary, belonging to Rhiannon, an aspiring journalist who lives with her boyfriend Craig and chihuahua Tink. She hates her job, and is becoming increasingly fed up that her first novel only garners rejection after rejection and finds her group of friends irritating more often than not. She even has a fantasy “kill list” at the start of her daily entries – those who have most annoyed her on that day that she would love to snuff out. She is a seemingly ordinary, if disgruntled, young woman trying to navigate life.

But she hides a dark past that has lead to an even darker secret – Rhiannon is a cold, brutal killer. Granted, most of those she has killed are horrible people, tormentors, abusers, rapists and paedophiles. But she has taken it upon herself to play the role of judge, jury and executioner. She hides behind her normal, mundane life by day that allows her to take down those that attract her eye.

On paper, I really liked the sound of this book and had been looking forward to starting it. Sadly, I felt like it was the first book for adults written by someone used to addressing a much younger market. I felt as if the author had a sense of throwing off the shackles and being blunt and unrestrained. The language was colourful in the excess at times, with needlessly over the top insults and frequent swearing. I have no problem with swearing in a book, I feel like it adds realism when used correctly, but this was a whole new level. Certain elements felt like a desperate attempt to dive into the deepest, darkest and more depraved parts of humanity purely because this book was not a young adult story. Add to that, I could not engage with Rhiannon on any level. She struck me as having little humanity, and is overpoweringly self-indulgent. Everything came across as me, me, me and oh woe is me – it made her detestable and not in a good way. I won’t be in any hurry to read the follow up to it.

My rating:
notforme

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Friday Face-Off – 11th January 2019

Friday Face-Off – 11th January 2019

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week is a cover that is from the Tudor period: ‘I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king.’

This week I have gone with Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell.

Cover A:

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Cover B:

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Cover C:

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Cover D:

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Cover E:

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And the winner is… COVER D!

The colouring of the cover is rich and warm, the feather quill very symbolic of the time. I was immediately drawn to this cover as soon as I found it.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next weeks’ theme is a cover featuring an amulet either on the cover or in the title.

Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb

Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb

Single-mother bounty hunter Lori Anderson has finally got her family back together, but her new-found happiness is shattered when she’s snatched by the Miami Mob – and they want her dead. Rather than a bullet, they offer her a job: find the Mob’s ‘numbers man’ – Carlton North – who’s in protective custody after being forced to turn federal witness against them. If Lori succeeds, they’ll wipe the slate clean and the price on her head – and those of her family – will be removed. If she fails, they die.

With North due in court in forty-eight hours, Lori sets off across Florida, racing against the clock to find him and save her family. Only in this race the prize is more deadly – and the secret she shares with JT more dangerous – than she ever could have imagined. In this race only the winner gets out alive…

Brimming with tension, high-stakes jeopardy and high-voltage action, and a deep, emotional core, Deep Dirty Truth is an unmissable thriller by one of the freshest and most exciting voices in crime fiction.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

Earlier in 2018 I was fortunate enough to get the chance to read the second book in the Lori Anderson series by Steph Broadribb, Deep Blue Trouble. I hadn’t read the first book at the time, and still haven’t, not that it makes a major impact as Steph Broadribb does a wonderful job of describing characters and referring back to past events to keep a reader picking up any book up to date. Having tore through Deep Blue Trouble, I jumped at the chance to read a proof copy of the latest outing for Lori on Christmas break.41058687Lori finds herself mixing with the Miami mob once again, fully against her wishes. Kidnapped, she is pushed into working on their behalf to remove an employee from FBI custody. She has the option to refuse, but it would be at the expense of partner JT and their daughter Dakota who were both caught up in events in Deep Blue Trouble, only a few weeks before the next book kicks off.

Left with little choice, Lori has to pit her wits against the FBI, police and factions within the Miami Mob that have no intention of seeing her succeed. In a race against time Lori must work to free the man from protective custody, while keeping him safe from the splinter faction and protecting her family as best she can with some help from old friends.

Broadribb has once again delivered an action-packed, high pace thriller with more twists and turns than a theme park rollercoaster. The attention to detail is meticulous in ensuring past events are not overrun with conflicting details, characters are developed to a deeper level still and the narrative kept me reading to the very last. I hope the wait for the next outing from Lori Anderson isn’t too far off – the only negative I could find with Deep Dirty Truth was the immediate and urgent need to read the next installment.

My rating:
goodread

Friday Face-Off – 4th January 2019

Friday Face-Off – 4th January 2019

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

Happy New Year and welcome to the first Friday Face-Off of 2019! This week is a cover that is fresh – a New Beginnings for a New Year.

I’ve twisted the theme a bit to include “new” as a theme. I’ve selected Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

Cover A:

fresh1

Cover B:

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Cover C:

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Cover D:

fresh4

Cover E:

fresh5

Cover F:

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Cover G:

fresh7

Cover H:

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Cover I:

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And the winner is… COVER F!

Cover I is a close second for me. Cover F edged it for me though this week. The egg implies fresh, new beginnings but the zipper running along it intrigues and has me wanting to know what lies within.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next weeks’ theme is a cover from a novel set in the Tudor period: ‘I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king.’

You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood

You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood

An unnamed defendant stands accused of murder. Just before the Closing Speeches, the young man sacks his lawyer, and decides to give his own defence speech.

He tells us that his barrister told him to leave some things out.Sometimes, the truth can be too difficult to explain, or believe. But he thinks that if he’s going to go down for life, he might as well go down telling the truth.

There are eight pieces of evidence against him. As he talks us through them one by one, his life is in our hands. We, the reader – member of the jury – must keep an open mind till we hear the end of his story. His defence raises many questions… but at the end of the speeches, only one matters:

Did he do it?

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

For my penultimate read, and last review, of 2018, You Don’t Know Me really did tick all of the boxes. For starters, the main character: I felt like I really knew him by the end of the book and yet we never get to know his name. Imran Mahmood paints the reader into the role of juror in what is, sadly, a very timely novel. Our main character is on the stand for murder of a London gang member; a murder he is adamant he didn’t commit. cover107653-mediumThroughout the course of the book our leading man looks at the eight key pieces of evidence the prosecution are hoping will sink him without a trace and resign him to a lengthy jail term. Deciding his legal representation isn’t quite grasping the need to tell the whole truth, something that has changed as the reader discovers since he first gave evidence, leads the main character to go it alone for his closing statement. And here is where this book is interesting: it solely contains the closing statement of the accused.

He dives into each piece of evidence presented against him, agreeing that each one in turn adds to the look of guilt assuming you only look at it from the angle the prosecution directs you to. But he goes on to explain that viewed from another perspective each item paints a very different picture. The concept left me thinking throughout the book, never quite certain what the truth really was.

I loved the way You Don’t Know Me really brought into stark relief how life in certain parts of London, and a great many other large cities across the UK, if not the world, really is right now. I found myself feeling like I was in the court listening, analysing, assessing everything presented to me, everything so well argued that it all had more than one way of being reviewed. And the real clincher for this book? In the end, no verdict is given. As we are there as a member of the jury, we are left to pronounce guilt or innocence ourselves. If I am entirely honest, I really don’t know that I am overly sure even now on that score!

My rating:
goodread

Friday Face-Off – 28th December 2018

Friday Face-Off – 28th December 2018

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week is a freebie – a chance for me to pick a favourite book, no holds barred.

For this I decided to pick one of my favourite books that I read this year – The Girl Before by JP Delaney.

Cover A:

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Cover B:

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Cover C:

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Cover D:

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Cover E:

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Cover F:

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And the winner is… COVER F!

This cover fits the premise of the book perfectly in my opinion. It’s bleak and stark and minimalist like the house at the centre of the story, and the shadow of the female could allude to the past or present occupant.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next weeks’ theme is a cover that is fresh: New Beginnings for a New Year.

Friday Face-Off – 21st December 2018

Friday Face-Off – 21st December 2018

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This weeks’ theme is a cover for the festive season: ‘Ho, Ho, Ho!’

For this theme I’ve picked The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore.

Cover A:

festive1

Cover B:

festive2

Cover C:

festive3

Cover D:

festive4

Cover E:

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Cover F:

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Cover G:

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Cover H:

festive8

Cover I:

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And the winner is… COVER E!

I love the art design on this one. The rich colours are really appealing. What a fantastic book to pick before Christmas.

Merry Christmas everyone!

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next weeks’ theme is a freebie cover: a cover of my choosing.