‘Stone Cold Heart’ by Caz Frear

I started reading this and then realised it was book two in the D.C. Cat Kinsella series. So, I stopped and downloaded the first book on my Kindle; I quickly read it and I am glad I did. There are important threads and character developments that were enriched greatly by knowing the first book.
So, ‘Stone Cold Heart’ is not a pacey crime book as such, but I was quite happy plodding along with Cat’s day to day world. There’s some really good plotting and the troubles with Cat’s family is nicely interjected as she works her investigations. I also like Cat’s professional team; the family guy ‘Luigi’ and her boss DCI Kate Steele are both great characters.
This crime centres around the murder of a young woman, Naomi Lockhart who has recently come over from Australia to work. Her employer is interviewed, and this draws the investigation into the family and friends and it spirals from there. We join Cat and the team as they try to decipher the truths and the lies – this certainly becomes a complex problem and there’s a lot of conflicting reports and a ‘he said’, ‘she said’ battle to work out the truth.
An enjoyable crime novel, with some clever twists and an added dimension of a police officer with worrisome links to criminals; her fear of discovery creates a suspenseful underscore to the overall murder investigation.

I enjoyed this book and will certainly look out for book 3. An engaging, intricately plotted believable crime book.

Many thanks for the review copy Zaffre Books and Netgalley.

Published June 27th 2019.

‘The Manhattan Project’ by Paul McNeive

‘New York City is under attack’

“New York is under attack. Millions may die. But the enemy’s weapons are invisible, undetectable and creating terror at lightning speed.

An NYPD cop, John Wyse, finds himself pitted against a Hiroshima survivor turned criminal mastermind determined to avenge the deaths of his family, and all who died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It’s a race against time to break the links in a terrible plot intent on causing medical meltdown.

‘The Manhattan Project’ is a fast-paced bio-terrorism thriller spanning Japan, the Middle East and America.”


Paul McNeive lost his legs in a fire aged 20 and this life-changing experience and what happened to him on his road to recovery inform his debut novel, ‘The Manhattan Project’. In a highly successful career, Paul was the managing director of Savills, Ireland, and is now a motivational speaker, a writer for the Irish Independent and was the world’s first double amputee helicopter pilot. Paul is an ambassador for the Douglas Bader Foundation and on the board of Ireland’s National Rehabilitation Hospital. In 2019, he was enlisted by the Chief Medical Officer for England to help raise awareness of the worldwide antibiotic resistance crisis.

Published by Black and White, May 2019, and to whom I thank for sending me a copy of this book to read and review.


This book certainly creates a chill, particularly when you think of the potential for a real threat; the very modern and palpable theme of bio-terrorism lurking underneath this fictionalise account of a biological attack on the people of New York, is scary.

The narrative splits several times, from past to current and from different perspectives – both as we piece together the building threat, and from where the desire for revenge was born; the awful destruction of Hiroshima and the person who never forgot and would never stop seeking vengeance for their own devastating loss. In New York, a deflated NYPD cop, John Wyse becomes caught up in the plot to destroy and devastate, little does he know the trauma it will bring to his life as he gradually pulls pieces of the puzzle together.

The story was a little of a slow build, for me, and I did put it down for a while about half-way through; I’m glad I carried on as suddenly the narrative pace hurtles along and there are many nail-biting moments as we sprint towards the climax. It’s a fascinating and scary story of human resistance to antibiotics and this fear is exploited to the maximum as the book’s plot develops into a race to solve the medical dilemma and attempt to defeat it. There are some harrowing descriptions of the victims of this awful attack and the devastation it brings to families. Truly terrifying.

Overall a great book, with an array of characters, many serving the plot development (rather like an episode of Casualty, when you’re watching people in their daily lives knowing that soon they’re going to be injured or under threat). All the threads come together, built around the likeable John Wyse character and balanced with the terrorists’ narratives interjecting throughout. Some moments of action and a surprise twist along the way make for some good reading.

A well-written, intelligently constructed thriller read; it stays within the boundaries of realism, which does make it ultimately all the more terrifying.

Recommended Read from me.

Genre: Adult thriller with themes of bioterrorism

‘Stepsister’ by Jennifer Donnelly

I’ve read a lot of Jennifer Donnelly’s adult readership books and loved them. This is my second young adult read from this author, after ‘These Shallow Graves’, which I thoroughly enjoyed, so I was intrigued to see how this particular fairy tale character would be re-invented.

This is definitely a fun fairy-tale read, creatively continuing the story of ‘Cinderella’ from one of the Stepsister’s perspectives. The opening of the book was very cinematic with the characters of the Fates in their tower room, busily creating maps of people’s lives, however their peace is soon shattered by Chance, a pirate-like figure, who bursts in to steal one of the maps. This draws us into the world of Isabelle de la Paume, one of the Ugly Stepsisters, who is described as selfish, mean and without beauty. A gauntlet is set down by Chance to change her fate.
The story switches to the end of ‘Cinderella’, when the Stepsisters are cutting off parts of their feet to fit into the glass slipper and marry the prince. As we all know, that plan failed dismally and as Cinderella and the Prince ride off, Isabelle is left behind bleeding. It’s her life after this events that is now the focus.

Donnelly weaves a tale of Fates, Chance, Death and a dark, live rabbit munching Fairy ‘Godmother’! We are soon routing for Isabella, after understanding her life from her perspective. The reader is soon on another fairy tale quest to defeat the villains!

Isabella has to take a chance on changing her fate, to find the strength and will to be responsible for her own destiny, of her own choosing, to seek forgiveness and take back what her heart truly desires and ultimately deserves.

Recommended YA read. With thanks to Zaffre books for the review copy.

‘The Gaia Trilogy’ by David Barker

‘The Gaia Trilogy’ by David Barker is a thriller series set in the not too distance future where the threat of a war for water is on the horizon. The central protagonists are Sim, who has newly joined the Overseas Division, and the more experienced Freda who both battle the constant threat from terrorists and their governments who are after control of the world’s water supplies. Freda and Sim must put themselves at great risk to protect the future of the ‘blue gold’ but it’s a deadly game of deception and high-paced, dangerous missions.
The second book ‘Rose Gold’ focuses on a mining base on the moon and the potential saviour for the world’s global problems but there are others that do not want this project to succeed. The central characters return in this development novel and once again a battle against terrorists recommences; Sim and Freda are once again caught up in a deathly intense mission.
The newly published final book ‘White Gold’ returns the story to Earth and Sim is out to seek retribution for the criminals his Overseas Division battles against. However, the complication of a nuclear warhead being stolen changes his direction and focus. This book is a race to find those responsible and disarm the dangerous device.
This is an intelligently and well-written thriller trilogy that begins with the real question of water becoming an at-risk commodity in our own future and the stark implications of this. It’s pacy, dramatic, with an action film vibe; the principal characters are engaging and their dialogue entertaining. It’s a battle of good and evil, and about those who fight to do the right thing in the face of extreme situations and challenges. And for the reader it also highlights the importance of the earth’s commodities and an awareness of how valuable they are; that we have a collective responsibility to look after our valuable, life-sustaining but increasingly fragile planet.

Published by Urbane. All three books are now available on Amazon UK from £0.99 and available on kindleunlimited; this information is correct as of May 2019.

DAVID BARKER – was born in Cheshire but now lives in Berkshire. He is married to an author of children’s picture books, with a daughter who loves stories. He is Chief Economist for an international fund. David is a graduate of the Faber Academy.

David Barker says: “The Gaia Trilogy allows me to combine my love of thriller writing with environmental and climate issues that are close to my heart. Using the thriller genre gives me scope to look at the complexities surrounding the future of our resources while still entertaining readers.”

Thank you to Urbane Publications for the copy of ‘White Gold’ and introducing me to David Barker’s trilogy.

‘The Never Game’ by Jeffery Deaver

An engaging puzzle of a thriller, full of twists and introducing a new breed of ‘hero’ who you’ll definitely want on your side!

Yep Colter Shaw works for me! What an intriguing protagonist, his approach to his ‘job’ is fascinating and I’ve even started thinking in percentages – lol!
He is a fascinating ‘hunter’ and uses the skills taught to him by his parents to help people who need help finding others. He is a lonely figure but seems confidence and secure in the life and career he has chosen.
This is a thriller, that immerses the reader into Shaw’s world of kidnap, murder and the psychology of the criminal mind linked to the multi-million pound video gaming world. I’m not a gamer, but I was fascinated with this world of video games and its ability to put people into virtual worlds. It’s also a current thread about how playing such games can alter and affect the reality of the players.
I was intrigued by this book and despite the pace slowing at times, I really enjoyed the twists and turns and working out the puzzling threads as the story developed. It’s also clearly the beginning of a series and I’ll definitely be reading more.

Published by Harper Collins – 16th May, 2019

April Wrap-Up

Whoops – slightly delayed… but 20 books read or listened to in April.

April was a busy month for reading and here’s my summary:

‘The Wolves of Winter’ by Tyrell Johnson – an atmospheric story in a dystopian environment where survival is a daily battle. 3.5 stars.

‘Warrior of the Wild’ by Tricia Levenseller – A YA Viking inspired novel about a monster-ridden world and how a girl defies exile to seek justice. Took me a while to get into it, but I enjoyed the story as a nice escape from reality. 4 stars.

‘To Ride a White Horse’ by Pamela Ford – I really enjoyed this, set during the terrible Irish famines of 1846 and centres around a girl whose adventure to save her family forces her to make a choice of family loyalty or a challenging love. 4 stars.

‘The Reckoning’, ‘The Stranger You Know’ and ‘The Last Girl’ by Jane Casey – I love all the DS Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent novels and this month I’ve been listening to the audio-books after being inspired to have a full re-read after the recent release of ‘Cruel Acts’ the 8th book in the series. Overall 5 stars for the series. Love them!

‘Uprooted’ by Naomi Novik – I loved this! Beautiful writing steeped in the style of traditional folklore. Fab! 4.5 stars.

‘The Darkness Around Her’ by Neil White – a really solid and engaging legal mystery in the Dan Grant series. Great read. 4 stars.

‘A Curse So Dark and Lonely’ by Brigid Kemmerer – It took a while to get into the story and then I had a great time reading this – a decent fantasy YA read re-working the timeless and always endearing ‘Beauty and the Beast’ story. I’ll look out for the sequel. 4 stars.

‘Thirteen’ by Steve Cavanagh – the fourth book in the Eddie Flynn series and I loved it – all beautifully twisty and bloodthirsty! 4.5 stars.

‘Here’s Looking At You’ by Mhairi McFarlane – I chuckled away several times at this, got bored and skimmed when the pace dragged and then chuckled again and went ‘awwww’ at the cute ending. Yep, it was okay. 3.5 stars from me though, wanted it to be more, but something just didn’t click for me personally.

‘Where the Dead Fall’ by M.J.Lee – the second book in the D.I Ridpath series and a solid crime read, happy with this one! 4 stars.

‘Sweet Little Lies’ and ‘Stone Cold Heart’ by Caz Frear – a crime series featuring DC Cat Kinsella, really enjoyed both of these and I am eagerly awaiting book 3! 4 stars.

‘Come Back for Me’ by Heidi Perks – had great time reading this mystery set on a remote island… until the end. I did not like how it ended, which ultimately spoilt it for me. 3.5 stars – should of been a solid 4.

‘Little Darlings’ by Melanie Golding – a dark creepy, Grimm’s tale influenced psychological thriller about a mother’s fear that her babies are in terrible danger. 4 stars overall.

‘One Night for Seduction’ by Erika Ridley – the first book in the Wicked Dukes series and it didn’t really work for me, the principal female was so annoying. 3 stars for the ‘hero’ – lol!

‘Ayesha at Last’ by Uzma Jalaluddin – I’m usually wary of re-workings, particularly with beloved author’s such as Jane Austen…however I enjoyed this ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Muslim version. Felt the end was rushed and was a little anti-climatic but enjoyed the overall journey. 4 stars.

‘#taken’ by Tony Parsons – the sixth book in the Detective Max Wolfe series, a page-turning thriller read, very happy with it. Easy 4 stars.

‘The Beekeeper of Aleppo’ by Christy Lefteri

This story is written simply and beautifully and encapsulates the journey of Nuri and Afra into a relevant, powerfully crafted journey of deep deep loss and the prevailing light of hope.
It is the human spirit and its resilience that ultimately shines through even after such heart-wrenching and deeply destructive events.
It’s the story of a city destroyed by a futile war and of a fraught and dangerous journey to find a home.
The narrative switches back and forth as Nuri and Afra are being processed for immigration into Britain to join Nuri’s brother and help look after a colony of bees and the dominating and harrowing story of their journey.
It certainly opened my eyes to the life of a genuine refugee; absolutely compelling reading.