Bonnie and Stan by Anna Stuart – Review.

About The Book

After 50 years together Stan still adores his wife… so why is he dating again?

Bonnie and Stan are soulmates. They met during the Swinging Sixties, to the soundtrack of The Beatles and the Merseybeat scene. Now they’ve grown up and grown old together, had children and grandchildren. They are finally building their dream home, when disaster strikes.

Stan is running out of time, and can’t bear the thought of leaving Bonnie alone. Alongside his teenage granddaughter Greya, he forms a plan to find Bonnie a new love of her life. And she must never find out…

Bonnie & Stan is a poignant, surprising love story set during the Swinging Sixties and the present day. Ultimately feel-good and full of emotion, Bonnie & Stan will make your heart sing.

My Review

Every so often I need a break from crime fiction and Bonnie and Stan was a perfect choice. Being set in my favourite UK city, Liverpool, was only a small part of how much I enjoyed this novel. 

It takes place in modern times as well as in the 1960s. Bonnie and Stan feature in both but at first you are only aware of who Bonnie is. I could only guess at who Stan might be. In the 60s it is really only her who the story focuses on, in modern day that narrative switches to Stan as he comes to terms with his diagnosis.

Bonnie was a character I adored. I thought she was brave to go with her dream of being an architect, despite the constant ridicule she faced from her tutor and the other students. I wished we could see their reactions in the modern day after she had a very successful career, despite being a married woman with a family. I liked her love of the music scene, Liverpool life, and her dedication to the band. 

I also had a lot of appreciation for Stan,  I wasn’t entirely sure whether he was one of the band  but I spent a quite lot of the novel trying to work it out and if he wasn’t how did they meet. I loved seeing his relationship with his family, especially his grandchildren, his love for Bonnie, his friendship with Dave and his misguided attempts to help Bonnie deal with life after his death. It could have been heart wrenching but even though it was moving, it was handled with humour and understanding. And a little bit of frustration. 

I found this a lovely and refreshing novel, obviously sad because all the characters have to come to terms with Stan’s illness, but not overly so.  What is evident is how close Stan’s family were, his daughters didn’t initially seem close but they did put  differences behind them. And with Dave, the ladies man, there was some wonderful humour. 

The Pact by Sharon Bolton – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A golden summer, and six talented friends are looking forward to the brightest of futures – until a daredevil game goes horribly wrong, and a woman and two children are killed.

18-year-old Megan takes the blame, leaving the others free to get on with their lives. In return, they each agree to a ‘favour’, payable on her release from prison.

Twenty years later Megan is free.
Let the games begin . . . 

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Sharon Bolton is an author whose books I have enjoyed for many years. The Pact is her latest standalone novel that features some thoroughly unlikeable characters. But there are also a few where my opinion changed as I read and who I actually started to have sympathy for. 

When a group of friends have a party the night before they receive their A Level results they have no idea that their antics will have an impact on them for many years to come. I won’t go into detail about what occurred apart from to say that lives were lost through a foolish and irresponsible act and Megan for reasons known only to herself decided to take the responsibility and eventually serve a long a long stretch in prison. But before she did she let her friends know that one day she would need and expect them to help her or face consequences. And now the time has come when they find out what she wants. They soon realise that they could have possibly been in a better situation if they had come forward at the time. Megan’s demands are eye watering!

But whilst Megan obviously suffered during her time in prison they also did. None of this group have coped well or are as happy and settled with their lives as they could have been. So her reappearance and demands tip them over the edge and it doesn’t take long for them to fall apart. I found it fascinating to see how they reacted and also to see who showed any amount of genuine remorse. 

Often jaw dropping as the group’s personalities are revealed, especially when they are told what is expected of them and I loved every page. I couldn’t wait to watch them self destruct and who, if any, would become a better person. There will probably be differing views on who deserves a second chance, there were two who I felt worthy.

Another great book from an outstanding author.

The Tattoo Thief by Alison Belsham – Blog Tour Review.


About The Book

A policeman on his first murder case
A tattoo artist with a deadly secret
And a twisted serial killer sharpening his blades to kill again…

When Brighton tattoo artist Marni Mullins discovers a flayed body, newly-promoted DI Francis Sullivan needs her help. There’s a serial killer at large, slicing tattoos from his victims’ bodies while they’re still alive. Marni knows the tattooing world like the back of her hand, but has her own reasons to distrust the police. So when she identifies the killer’s next target, will she tell Sullivan or go after the Tattoo Thief alone?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I read a lot of crime fiction but I have never read a book where the crime is based around tattooing and it is something I know absolutely nothing about.
There are four points of view, Francis, or to his annoyance Frank, is a new DI who has to prove that he is capable to do the job to everybody. His family and his religion are as important to him as his career. Rory is his bitter and resentful colleague. In some ways he had more experience but he is disloyal and I didn’t trust him or like him that much. Marni, my favourite, is a tattoo artist and is a reluctant participant in the investigation into the murders. She has an intriguing back story and a very annoying ex husband. The final point of view is that of the Tattoo Thief, unidentified for much of the novel. This person is dangerous and very smug but not as clever as they think they are.
I had to feel sorry for Francis, he was aware of what Rory was doing but had no option but to work with him. Their relationship was a strange one and I was left wondering how it will be in further books, I have found out since finishing that there will be a series. I hope that they can become friends and stand up to their bullying superior officer.
I am a little unsure whether a member of the public would have as much knowledge and input as Marni And Thierry did in the novel but it made very entertaining reading. Even if I did work out who was the culprit.
It is quite graphic, with the descriptions of what the tattoo thief did and there was a part that didn’t involve a murder that left me feeling a little repulsed. It was explained and the action wasn’t carried out in the novel thankfully.
The world of tattooing is a fascinating one. It appeared to be very loyal with a lot of respect for each other. Not something I would ever fancy but I can understand why many do.


The After Wife by Cass Hunter – Blog Tour Review.


About the Book

When Rachel and Aidan fell in love, they thought it was forever.

She was a brilliant, high-flying scientist. He was her loving and supportive husband.

Now she’s gone, and Aidan must carry on and raise their daughter alone.

But Rachel has left behind her life’s work, a gift of love to see them through the dark days after her death.

A gift called iRachel.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I picked up this novel. I was little dubious that it might be too scientific but despite one of the main characters being a robot it wasn’t. This robot was called iRachel and she ended up breaking my heart.
Rachel, wife of Aiden, mother of Chloe and one of the creators of iRachel dies suddenly and Aiden and Chloe are left trying to pick up the pieces of their lives. But their new life takes an unusual turn when they have to accept iRachel into their lives and keep this fact secret. They do so, with trepidation and despite the outrage that Rachel’s colleague Luke feels. Luke is a bit of an outcast, very heavy-handed but he has met his match with iRachel who is determined not to let him bully anybody. Especially her.
As they all start to adapt to their new situation you get to know each of them very well. You see their outward image to friends and colleagues but you also see their inner thoughts. iRachel has been left with her creator’s memories and regrets and helps both Aiden and Chloe cope with their emotions.
Parts of the novel made me laugh, I’m still smiling now at a scene concerning an apron. But much of the novel, especially the last few chapters had me in tears. At one point I couldn’t see the words on the page and had to stop reading.
It is extremely sad but it also shows acceptance. Chloe, especially, has to put her friends at ease when they use everyday phrases that wouldn’t usually mean a thing but could cause hurt in the wrong circumstances.
I liked all three of the main characters but it is iRachel who I liked the most. Her description of feeling her wanting something and the basic human life that she could not experience is one that will stay with me for some time.
I read the epilogue twice. Mainly to see how to made me feel after a break. On the second read I could see the hope come through, that life could be rebuilt but the memories from the old life will always be there.

The After Wife blog tour v2

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton – Review.


About the Book

Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried…ALIVE.

Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves.

Did she get it wrong all those years ago?
Or is there something much darker at play?

My Review

The Craftsman is a dual time frame novel that takes place in Sabden, a small town in the foothills of Pendle, Lancashire. Witch Country. The Pendle Witch trials and stories are part of this book.
It takes place in 1969 when Florence, Flossie, is a young officer and in 1999 when she is Assistant Commissioner. She has returned to the area to attend the funeral of a convicted murderer who she has stayed in contact with.
Whilst there is the spookiness connected with the witches the storyline in the novel is crime fiction. In 1969, Flossie is one of the team who are trying to find three missing children. She has to put up with discrimination, suspicion and general misbehaviour from the local residents as well as from her colleagues. There are places where an outsider will never be accepted and there was little chance of Flossie ever being considered one of the team. By anybody. All of the attitudes were convincing and it was good to see that she was successful in her career.
In 1999, the storyline is more sinister. I was brought up on stories regarding the Witch trials but had never thought about how they affected the communities nearby. How the legends and history were still evident. Some I had heard before, but the novel shows the lesser known facts.
Many of the characters weren’t particularly likeable, and even though much of the treatment Flossie received was unnecessary she wasn’t an easy person to like. I did like the descriptions of the local people, I found them believable. The older ones, brought up on superstition, some who probably had families who had lived there 400 years earlier, at the time of the trials. And the younger ones who wanted to go to the cities to have a good time.