The Widow by Fiona Barton

Many thanks to Ben at Transworld for my ARC of The Widow by Fiona Barton.

I have been seeing this book pop up in tweets and on bloggers pages for the past couple of months so I was dying to get my hands on a copy to see what all the fuss was about. The lovely Ben Willis at Transworld Books kindly sent me out a copy to read and review. Needless to say I was like a child upon receiving it!

Goodreads description:

We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.

But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?
Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming. 
Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.
But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.
Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

The Widow is a a great book. It’s extremely psychological with intimate insights into the mind of the widow, the detective, the reporter, the mother and the husband told through alternating chapters. The aforementioned widow becomes one early on in the book,with her husband being hit and killed by a bus. Prior to this, her husband Glen, had been accused of a terrible crime.

A little girl goes missing from her front garden while her mother is inside. Glen is accused of kidnapping Bella Elliott and The Widow tells the story of events after, and later on in the book, prior to the abduction.

The Widow is by no means an on the edge of your seat thriller. It is a slow burner, with information slowly being revealed in each chapter. It’s at times painful to read some of the details of the case. No parent ever wants to imagine anything happening to their child.

The widow herself, Jean, is hard to like as a character. I found her to be very hard to empathise with. If that’s even possible in the situation she is in. Jean is clearly an emotionally weak person in the earlier half of the book, but towards the climax of the story she seems to find her inner voice.

I’m not one for spoilers,but with a book like this it’s difficult not to see what happens at the end!

I have to say, I really enjoyed The Widow. Fiona Barton has a lovely writing style and it’s very easy to follow. I’m glad I got a chance to read this book before January 2016 as with the hype surrounding it, I’m sure I wouldn’t have gotten near it!

My thanks again to Ben Willis and Fiona Barton for my copy of The Widow!

4 stars on Goodreads from me!

Happy reading 😊📖

Guest post- author Martin Lee

Many thanks to Martin Lee for agreeing to do a guest post for my blog!

About the author~ (via Goodreads)

Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, tv commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.

He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England. In London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations.

Whilst working in Shanghai, he loved walking through the old quarter of that amazing city, developing the idea behind a series of crime novels featuring Inspector Pyotr Danilov, set in 1920s and 30s.

When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, practicing downhill ironing, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.

Seven novels that killed me.

And inspired me.


I’ve always loved crime.


Murder. Larceny. Blackmail. Arson. Kidnapping. Burglary. Serial killings. Extortion. Gang violence. It doesn’t matter what sort of crime, I’m up for it.


Luckily, it hasn’t landed me in jail yet, but it has given me a love of one of the most popular genres of writing.


The Crime Novel.

Here are seven books that inspired me to write about crime.


And then there were none.

From the Queen of Crime herself. I remember reading this when I was eleven. It was called something terribly non-PC then. Having finished it, I went back to the beginning and started over again. All the clues were there, I just hadn’t seen them. Fiendishly well plotted, even for Agatha Christie


The Daughters of Time

Again, something I read when I was young. Beautifully constructed, it made me revisit the history of the period and re-evaluate all that I believed about Richard III. Great title too. I read it again this year. It stands the test of time which is always the sign of a great novel.



The Complete Sherlock Holmes


The series of works that gave rise to the modern crime novel. An eccentric detective, a fumbling sidekick and stories that blew readers away with their sheer brilliance. Every other crime novel is measured against the master.

The Name of the Rose
Every once in a while, a book comes along that shows the crime novel can be far more than a series of gory killings. This has wit, erudition, an understanding of philosophy and, at its heart, a plea for more laughter in the world. Who could ask for more?


The Remorseful Day


A great central character with enough quirks to sink the Titanic. A sidekick with a love of the Full Monty. Great plots, intriguing stories, palpable intelligence, and the most wonderful sense of place: Oxford in the Eighties. Colin Dexter created a cult classic that went on to become some of the finest crime dramas on television.


L A Confidential


I could have chosen any of James Ellroy’s books. Once I start them, I can’t put them down. They have such a pace, style and sheer pizzazz, that is quintessentially American. Ellroy leaves out the bits other authors keep in. I’d love to have those bits.



The Talented Mr Ripley


Vastly underrated, Patricia Highsmith for me was the writer’s writer. Beautiful sentences, crisp characterisation and an understanding of human psychology go hand in hand for a wonderful series of crime novels. Even better, she created an anti-hero that we could all love. Brilliant.

So those are my choices.


I can hear you all shouting and screaming now. How could you leave out Mario Puzo, Val McDermid, Stieg Larssen, Peter James, Ellis Peters, Dashiell Hammett, P D James,Thomas Harris, C J Sansom and Stephen King?


Nobody said choosing seven novels was easy, You have to murder some you love. But that’s the job of a crime writer after all.


What would be your seven most inspirational crime novels?



Massive thanks again to Martin for doing this guest post! 🙂


M J Lee is the author of ‘Death in Shanghai’, the first in the Inspector Danilov series, set in the city in the 1920s from Carina/Harper Collins and available on Amazon. He loves to chat about crime, real or imagined, and can be found at his website,, Facebook or Twitter under the same handle.




Dead Eyed by Matt Brolly

I’ve had Dead Eyed on my Netgalley TBR for a while now and some blogger friends of mine, Noelle over at Crimebookjunkie Book Blog and Joseph at Relax and Read Book Reviews had reviewed it so my interest was piqued!

By pure coincidence, Matt emailed me a couple of weeks ago asking would I like to read and review Dead Eyed. Of course my answer was yes, happy that I had a copy of it on my kindle!
Goodreads description:

DCI Michael Lambert thought he’d closed his last case…

Yet when he’s passed a file detailing a particularly gruesome murder, Michael knows that this is no ordinary killer at work.
The removal of the victim’s eyes and the Latin inscription carved into the chest is the chilling calling-card of the ‘soul jacker’: a cold-blooded murderer who struck close to Michael once before, twenty-five years ago.
Now the long-buried case is being re-opened, and Michael is determined to use his inside knowledge to finally bring the killer to justice. But as the body count rises, Michael realises that his own links to the victims could mean that he is next on the killer’s list…

There are so many crime books out there now that it can be difficult to separate them from each other. Not the case with Dead Eyed. With a serial killer called Souljacker, you know it’s going to be good! And this is a debut! I honestly couldn’t believe that this book was a debut, it seems so accomplished that I would have expected it to be well into a series at least!

Souljacker goes around killing people, taking their eyes out, and carving a Latin phrase into their bodies. Insane, but chillingly good as a killer.

Lambert is great as a character, he has his weaknesses and demons in his past, but he’s just so easy to like as a protagonist. Sarah May proves to be a strong female character in Dead Eyed too, adept and intelligent. Together they work the case simultaneously, leading to interesting developments in the investigation.

I don’t like going to far into plots as I think it takes away from the readers experience if they know too much. Sufficed to say, Dead Eyed is an astonishing debut novel. Matt Brolly’s writing style is clear, concise and vivid. The action is relentless, there are so many twists and “I know who”  moments (I was wrong, consistently, by the way!!!) that all add up to it being a brilliant storyline, with excellent characterisation, and a truly deranged sociopathic killer.

Holy Island by LJ Ross

Thanks to Maxine at Booklover Catlady and LJ Ross for my copy of Holy Island to review.

I hadn’t heard of this book before I read it, but I won’t forget it in a hurry!

Holy Island does not begin gently, it starts with the murder of Lucy Matheison and the discovery of her body at the Lindisfarne Priory.

Amazon describes it as follows-

Detective Chief Inspector Ryan retreats to Holy Island seeking sanctuary when he is forced to take sabbatical leave from his duties as a homicide detective. A few days before Christmas, his peace is shattered and he is thrust back into the murky world of murder when a young woman is found dead amongst the ancient ruins of the nearby Priory.
When former local girl Dr Anna Taylor arrives back on the island as a police consultant, old memories swim to the surface making her confront her difficult past. She and Ryan struggle to work together to hunt a killer who hides in plain sight, while pagan ritual and small-town politics muddy the waters of their investigation. 

This description doesn’t do it proper justice!

Holy Island is an excellent book, well plotted with very little of the predictable crime formulae to be found! More than once I thought I had sussed the killer, and every time I was wrong!!! The killings are described brutally, the locations are described beautifully! It’s the perfect juxtaposition!

DCI Ryan is a great character, flawed in his own way, with demons in his past. It was very easy to be rooting for him all through the book. Dr. Taylor is also a strong character, doesn’t suffer fools and very intelligent. Predictably, they begin a relationship, but it blends into the whole story. There are twists and turns aplenty, but I have to say, the ending was my favourite part. It ends with a genuine shocker!! Which makes me want to read book 2 Sycamore Gap as soon as possible!!! Well played Miss Ross! 😉

I gave Holy Island 4 stars on Goodreads! I would highly recommend this book! It was absolutely brilliant!

Happy reading! 😊📖

The Second Captive by Maggie James

Massive thanks to Maxine at Booklover Catlady and Maggie James for my copy of this book!
Having not read any books by this author before I didn’t really know what to expect but I was pleasantly ( if you can write that about a psychological thriller!!!!) surprised by this book!

The Second Captive follows Beth, an eighteen year old girl who is abducted and held by a man for two years. She subsequently escapes! This book goes between present day and the events of the two years she was held captive.

Written in alternative views from Beth, her captor and her mother, we get the different thoughts from each. I found this style of writing really good for this book as you get into the minds of the victim and her captor as well as the emotional turmoil her mother and family faced as well.

We know that Beth escapes, so that’s not really a spoiler. The reader learns that Beth will have to attempt to adjust back into normal life, away from the rules, control and punishment she had grown to accept from Dominic, her captor. You would think that the story would finish dramatically with her escape and subsequent return home.

It doesn’t.

Maggie James has done a great job of enhancing the story in the aftermath of Beth’s return. We learn more from her mother, Ursula, and we also gain emotional insight into Dominic’s state of mind once Beth has left him. Stockholm syndrome is the psychological term for what Beth has experienced and the way it is portrayed in the book is interesting.

There were many questions left unanswered for me when I finished this book, but all in all I enjoyed it! I gave it a solid 3 stars on Goodreads.

My thanks again to Maxine and Maggie James!

Happy reading! 😊📖

How do you shelve your books?!

Right, I’m scrolling through Facebook, as I do when the kids go to bed, and I come across this link.
The Smartest Way To Organise Your Bookshelves

I think to myself, ‘ooooooh, has someone come up with a really cool new idea/arrangement?!’. Short answer……. NO.
This link has actually left me in a state of confusion. If you’re a book lover, reader, keeper, hoarder, connoisseur, whatever, chances are you have book shelves. Or at least a place to keep them. So do you organise them? Maybe you had loads of time and could arrange them alphabetically, or maybe even by colour if Pineterest is anything to be believed. If you do, then I am jealous! 🙂

Anyway, this article’s wonderful and inspired way to organise your books is, wait for it………

READ shelved together and UNREAD shelved together!!!!! *insert shocked face here*

Can I ask one question?

WHO DOESN’T DO THIS?!?!?!?!?!?!

I can’t compute how you could choose a book to read, read it, and then put it back in the same place.

If you follow me over on Facebook at Bibliophile Book Club then you’ll know that a while ago, I rearranged my bookshelves at home. I put all the books I’ve read onto one set of shelves, and all of my TBR books onto their own set of shelves.*
*I have always kept my TBR books separate to my read books just in case you think this was a new thing! I just didn’t have the space before I moved everything around!

Here’s my “read” shelves~

And here’s my TBR shelves~

I’m sorry if I sound mad!!! I’m just finding it odd to know that people don’t separate their read from unread!

So, let me ask you this, how do you shelve yours?! 

Do you give up on books?

Right, I’m 26% of the way through The Pact by Jodi Picoult and I am so bored that I just want to give up! I do not give up on books….

I’m currently in a FB discussion with Sarah over at Bytheletterbookreviews about this book and whether or not to give up on it! Come say hello! 🙂

I find it hard to admit defeat when it comes to a book I don’t like, there aren’t many I’ve given up on. Off the top of my head, I can only remember three that I couldn’t finish in recent times. One of these is a book that people RAVE about!!!

Room by Emma Donoghue 

Dave Grohl’s autobiography 

Ha’penny Chance (I’m so terrible I can’t even remember the author, sorry!!!) 

Which leads me to my question, do you or have you ever given up on a book? If so, what was/were they?!