Sweet Pea by C J Skuse #Bookreview #Guestreview by @JoannaLouisePar @HQStories


Today Jo is sharing her review for Sweet Pea by C J Skuse. This ones on my TBR pile, but I’m in two minds about reading it as from the reviews I’ve read it’s very much a “marmite” book, but after reading Jo’s review I may just read it to see which camp I would fall into. My thanks to Jo for her fab review and so without further ado…….

Book description

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 whisky. 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, Rhinannon’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 friend’s plans for marriage and babies whilst secretly making a list.

A kill list.

From the man on the Lidl checkout who always mishandles her apples, to the driver who cuts her off on her way to work, to the people who have got it coming, Rhiannon’s ready to get her revenge.

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

IMG_1712To the outside world Rhiannon seems like a shy, retiring girl. Just a normal girl working in a job where she isn’t appreciated, has friends that she hates and her boyfriend is cheating on her. Everyone thinks she is a real Sweetpea. However hiding just beneath the surface, Rhiannon is very angry. Angry at rude people and loud noises. For Rhiannon hides a dark secret, she is a serial killer, killing those who dare to annoy her or try to cause her harm and who knows who her next victim will be?

This was a fairly unusual book for me as I found myself actually feeling sorry for the serial killer. Rhiannon is very funny and some of her observations/ comments had me laughing out loud. She has a very astute way of looking at the world and telling things exactly as they are. At first you think her comments are unfair or unjustified but as you learn more about her life, both past and present, you realise that there are good reasons for her being like she us. As you learn more about her, you start feeling sorry for her and hoping that she will gave a happy ending. It was interesting  to get inside the mind of a serial killer and find out more about what makes them tick and what motivates them to kill.

The book is written in the easy, intimate style of a diary which helps trick the reader into thinking that they are reading a normal persons diary. This helps the murdersceens seem more shocking and violent. Fair warning some of these scenes are quite gruesome with what’s happening to the victims being described in vivid detail. Some of the language throughout the book is a bit offensive so if you are easily offended it might be best to avoid.

This is quite an easy to read book. The general tone and flow of the book means you are able to read it quite fast. The fact that the main character is quite likeable, despite being a serial killer, means that you want to keep reading to find out what will happen next. I loved the ‘kill lists’ or summaries at the beginning of each chapter, it made it easier to keep up with everything that’s going on.

There is quite a lot of tension throughout the book which increases as more murders are committed and the story hurtles towards its conclusion. I was constantly wondering what would happen next and worrying she was going to get caught. The twist towards the end really took me by surprise as I really wasn’t expecting it. I think the ending was a very good and appropriate way to end the book, though it wasn’t the way I wanted it to end!

The blurb describes this book as a cross between Bridget Jones and Dexter which is a really good description of it! This is the debut book from this author and I look forward to reading many from her. Thank you to Anna Baggaley and HQ stories for my copy of this book.

Print Length: 384 pages
Publisher: HQ (20 April 2017)

Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys #GuestReview @JoannaLouisePar


Today I’m thrilled to welcome Joanna Park who is going to help me out with some guest reviews. We found each over on Twitter, Jo posts her reviews to Goodreads so I asked Jo if she fancied writing some guest reviews and she very kindly agreed. Passionate about books, an avid reader and a lovely lady to boot, Jo will fit in perfectly on my blog. Please give a warm welcome to Jo and here’s her first ever guest review. 

Book description

Sparkling cocktails, poisonous secrets …

1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.

But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own.

By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again.

IMG_1712Welcome aboard The Orontes for a fun filled glamorous crossing to Australia! Or so it first seems to Lily Shepherd who is taking advantage of the assisted passage scheme to start a new life in Australia. Life on board is a huge adventure for Lily as her eyes are opened to new things and she meets lots of interesting people, including the colourful Campbell’s, mysterious Edward and opinionated George. However as the journey continues boredom and tension start to bubble to the surface, Lily realises the journey isn’t as idyllic as she first thought. Soon Lily discovers that its hard to really know people you’ve just met, especially when they don’t have to tell you everything about themselves.
A Dangerous Crossing is one of those books that is perfect to immerse yourself in. I simultaneously wanted to read more to find out what happens and to slow down so it never ended!
The descriptions of life on board are really vivid and makes you feel that you are experiencing all the glitz and glamour alongside Lilly and watching all the action unfold. This is especially true of the wonderful descriptions of the ports they visit along the way and that I now have a yearning to visit. I felt I was there experiencing all the hustle and bustle and seeing the fantastic sights.

There is always underlying tension to the story which makes you want to keep reading to find out what happens. As the reader slowly gets to know the characters, it becomes apparent that they all have secrets to hide and are running away from something. As the outside heat increases and boredom sets in these tensions slowly bubble to the surface and start affecting the relationships on board.

The characters are all vastly different from each other which makes for a very compelling read. It was fascinating to read about their interactions with each other especially as ordinarily they wouldn’t have socialised with each other. Some of Lilly’s interactions, especially with the Campbell’s and George had me holding my breath as I wondered what was going to happen.
There is a little bit of murder mystery in it but in my opinion this is a secondary storyline, albeit one that is the reason for an amazing ending which took me completely by surprise. It’s not a traditional whodunnit and the fact that there is a murder isn’t a surprise as we know that from the start. It’s the story about getting to the murder and the reasons behind it which helps make this such a good book.

I would recommend this book to anyone who lines historical fiction that takes you to another time or place.

Thank you to Allison Barrow and Transworld publishing for the proof copy and for The Book Review cafe for inviting me to do a guest post!

Amazon UK 🇬🇧

Hi I’m Joanna Park. I’m a stay at home mum to two children from Malvern in Worcestershire. Any spare time I have, normally when the kids are asleep, is spent reading! I will read anything, apart from horror but my favorite is historical fiction or thrillers. I got into reviewing by accident after seeing a comment about Netgalley on Facebook but am really enjoying it and have met some great people!

Links: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/26160119-joanna-park

Twitter: @JoannaLouisePar



**Weekly Wrap Up**


What a week I’ve managed to read about a 100 pages of a book this week, not because I haven’t had the time I just haven’t picked up anything that’s gripped me. Previous to the 100 pages I picked up two books but I couldn’t get into either of them so unfortunately I think reading mojo has well and truly deserted me so if anyone finds it please return ASAP 😂😂 at a 100 pages I gave up on this book as well (a very rare occurrence, as I hate giving up on a book).


ARC’s I received this week

I only received two books this week, which in the grand scheme of things is brilliant as it means I haven’t really added to my TBR pile, and thinking about it I haven’t bought a book for weeks I think there is something seriously wrong here I may require medical attention 😂😂



Book description

When Jo Harding falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in hospital with partial amnesia – she’s lost a whole year of memories.

A lot can happen in a year. Was Jo having an affair? Lying to her family? Starting a new life?

She can’t remember what she did – or what happened the night she fell.

But she’s beginning to realise she might not be as good a wife and mother as she thought.


Book description

Fifteen years later, Alison and Kitty are living separate lives. Kitty lives in a care home. She can’t speak, and she has no memory of the accident that put her here, or her life before it.

Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. When a job in a prison comes up she decides to take it – this is her chance to finally make things right.

But someone is watching Kitty and Alison.
Someone who wants revenge for what happened that day.
And only another life will do…

Latest news from the book review café

From next week I will be posting the occasional guest review from the lovely Joanna (Jo) Park, we got chatting over on twitter, and Jo happily agreed to write some reviews for the book review café. You can read Jo’s reviews over on https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/26160119-joanna-park. I’ve been looking at getting someone to help with occasional guest reviews and luckily for me along came the very lovely Jo you can read her first review on Monday, and I know she’s very nervous about it.

IMG_1713Hi I’m Joanna Park. I’m a stay at home mum to two children from Malvern in Worcestershire. Any spare time I have, normally when the kids are asleep, is spent reading! I will read anything, apart from horror but my favorite is historical fiction or thrillers. I got into reviewing by accident after seeing a comment about Netgalley on Facebook but am really enjoying it and have met some great people!


Last week on the book review café





Next week on the book review café

A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys #GuestReview

Blood Mother by Dreda Say Mitchell

Billy Boy Blue by John Nicholl


**Blog tour** Killing Jerry by Sharn Hutton with a fabulous giveaway …….so keep your eyes peeled




**Blog Tour** While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft @Bookouture #GuestReview


Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft,  well I’m not really on the blog tour, I’m just the host because today I have a very special guest review. As I published my review earlier this week, I cajoled my “middle” sister DeDe to write a guest review for the blog tour. We have always loved reading and have a similar taste in books, so she was more than happy to help, ok I also promised her a couple of Barcardi and cokes as a bribe!, she’s shy about sharing her reviews. So I hope you enjoy her review, unlike her “big sister” her reviews are short and to the point, where as I can ramble on and on 😂😂


You wake up to find the man beside you is dead.
He is not your husband. This is not your bed.
What do you do?

Tara Logan lives a quiet life with her husband, Noah, and two children, teenager Rosie and eleven-year-old Spencer.

But her peace is shattered when she wakes in her neighbour Lee’s bed, with no memory of how she got there or what happened between them.
And worse – he has been stabbed to death.

Convinced she didn’t kill Lee, Tara stays silent, fearing the truth will rip her family apart.

But as her daughter spirals out of control, and her husband becomes increasingly distant, Tara soon realises that someone in her life knows what really happened to Lee. She must get to the truth before they do.

Tara made a mistake … but will one night cost her everything?

A gripping, shocking psychological thriller, with a twist that will take you by surprise.


Having read a few of Kathryn Crofts earlier books and loving them I was hoping I would enjoy While You were Sleeping just as much.

From the first chapter where Tara wakes up to find her neighbour Lee dead beside her and with no recollection of events, I just knew I would love While You Were Sleeping .

Once I read the opening chapter I was desperate to find out more! It’s a difficult book to review without giving spoilers so all I will say is:
I can not recommend this book enough. Another 5 star winning story by Katherine Croft!

I was hooked from page one! A brilliant story line and plot with so many twists and turns I suspected everyone and trusted no one!. Really felt for the main character Tara as she tries to get to the truth about what happened that night. Although some of the other characters were difficult to take to, this in no way spoilt my enjoyment of this suspense filled novel

Brilliantly written and an ending I really didn’t see coming! Shocking but utterly believable. I Can’t wait to read future books by Katherine.

5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️out of 5

Print Length: 286 pages

Publisher: Bookouture (16 Nov. 2016)

Amazon Uk     Amazon US


Kathryn Croft is the bestselling author of The Girl With No Past, which spent over four weeks at number one in the Amazon chart. Her other novels, Behind Closed Doors and The Stranger Within, and The Girl You Lost all reached number one in the psychological thriller charts.

Her fifth novel, While You Were Sleeping, was published on 16th November 2016, and is now available on Amazon.

After six years teaching secondary school English, Kathryn now writes full time and has a publishing deal with Bookouture.

Having always been an avid reader, Kathryn believes in the power of words to entertain, teach and transform lives. She is also a firm believer in following your dreams and says anything is possible if you work hard enough and never give up!

Kathryn lives in Guildford, Surrey with her husband, baby son and two cats.


Website     Goodreads     Facebook     Twitter: @KatCroft



**Guest Review** The Last Good Girl by Alison Leotta


Today I’m thrilled to bits to have a guest reviewer on my blog and I would like to introduce to you to my younger sister Denise (there’s 18 months between us in case you were wondering) who just happens to love reading as much as me, and we have a very similar taste in books. Ever since I started my blog I’ve been nagging her to write a review for the book review café, but she has always met my appeals with a resounding NO. But like the “big sister” I am I kept nagging, and eventually she finally agreed to let me post one of her reviews (mainly to shut me up).

So thank you Denise for the following review (somethings never change, and big sister always wins in the end😀)and to anyone reading this post I hope you enjoy her review, who knows Denise may end up as a regular guest reviewer on my blog and make it a family affair


Book Description

Emily Shapiro has gone missing. A freshman at a Michigan university, Emily was last seen leaving a bar near Beta Psi, a prestigious and secretive fraternity. The main suspect is Dylan Highsmith, the son of one of the most powerful politicians in the state. At first, the only clue is pieced-together surveil­lance footage of Emily leaving the bar that night…and Dylan running down the street after her.

When prosecutor Anna Curtis discovers a video diary Emily kept during her first few months at college, it exposes the history Emily had with Dylan: she accused him of rape before disappearing. Anna is horrified to discover that Dylan’s frat is known on campus as the “rape factory.”

The case soon gets media attention and support from Title IX activists across the country, but Anna’s investigation hits a wall. Anna has to find something, anything she can use to discover Emily alive. But without a body or any physical evidence, she’s under threat from people who tell her to stop before she ruins the name of an innocent young man.

Inspired by real-life stories, The Last Good Girl shines a light on campus rape and the powerful emotional dynamics that affect the families of the men and women on both sides.

Denise’s Review

I cannot believe I have never read a book by this author before! I was enticed by the books description…Emma a freshman at university goes missing and was last seen leaving a bar near the prestigious and secretive fraternity known as the ‘rape factory’. The main suspect is Dylan Brooks the son of a powerful state politician. Without giving anything else away I have to say this book is fantastic!

It drew me in from the start and from the beginning I hated Dylan who was an arrogant and vile character. Loved Anna Curtis the prosecutor who is out to find Emma and who was involved in her disappearance. Anna is feisty and doesn’t give up until she gets answers. Loved the characters in her personal love triangle and I felt sad at times with the dilemma she was facing about her love life.

The book runs along at a fast pace and although this book follows on from previous book of which I haven’t read, I found Leotta gives you enough information to understand what has happened in her past. As a UK reader I found there was a lot of American legal jargon but it did not distract from the cleverly crafted plot. Difficult to put this book down as you become desperate for Emily to be found and Dylan to get his comeuppance! Will definitely be reading more books from this very talented author.

5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Out of 5

Print Length: 304 pages

Publisher: Touchstone (3 May 2016)


**Guest Review by Virginia King** In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings 


In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings has been on my TBR pile for a while now, but unfortunately I just have not had the time to read it (hopefully I will do one day soon). Fortunately Virginia King, an author herself, offered to do a guest review for the book review cafe and I took her up on her kind offer, you can read more about Virgina, at the bottom of this post

In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings – 4-Star Review by Virginia King

As many reviewers have already written, In Her Wake is a unique mystery with a chilling scenario, an adventurous plot, and many creative twists that keep the reader guessing until the very end.

Things I loved about the book:

I adored the character of Dawn and thought she was very well drawn in all her inconsistencies. She was a great foil for Bella who was rather wooden for the first part of the book (for good reasons but I found her hard to relate to).

In Her Wake doesn’t follow a textbook story arc and this was refreshing. There’s even a fairly major plot thread that’s unresolved at the end, adding realism to the story – life’s events don’t always get tied up with a bow. And the final reveals were very surprising and well handled, linking back to a very cleverly planted hint early on that I didn’t see coming and making sense of the questions I had about the plausibility of past events.

The slightly surreal moments and mythical links are wonderful, bringing drama and depth to the emotional landscape. I’m also a great fan of playing with names, and that’s another inspired and surprising element in the book.

My criticisms have led to the four-star rating.

I love first person narrators because I can see inside their heads. It’s a chance to be flipped into fresh perspectives as the narrator wrangles with the circumstances that life throws at them. But Bella’s view of events in the first part of the book, although understandable, was largely ‘numb’ and after the revelations about her past she flipped from belief to disbelief and back again repetitively, which rendered her mental anguish dull for me. I needed to see more psychological exploration of such a dramatic disclosure, however wobbly and fleeting. This changed when new characters entered Bella’s life.

The chapters told from Henry’s point of view never quite gave me the intended insights into his motivation – I didn’t get the passion that bordered on obsession, so the justification for the past actions wasn’t there for me, until the very end.
The above criticisms are personal ones. In Her Wake is a page-turner with unexpected and satisfying twists and a unique adventure into one woman’s journey.

About Virginia King

When a voice wakes you up in the middle of the night and tells you to write a mystery series what’s a writer to do? That’s how Virginia King came to create Selkie Moon, after a massage from a strange woman with gifted hands was followed by this nocturnal message. Virginia sat down at the keyboard until Selkie Moon turned up. All she had to do was jump, the first sentence said. Soon Virginia was hooked, exploring far-flung places full of secrets where Selkie delves into psychological clues tangled up in the local mythology.
Before Selkie Moon invaded her life, Virginia had been a teacher, an unemployed ex-teacher, the author of over 50 children’s books, an audio-book producer, a workshop presenter and a prize-winning publisher. These days she lives in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney with her husband, where she disappears each day into Selkie Moon’s latest mystery. Bliss.


Virginia King, Author of the Selkie Moon Mystery Series



The First Lie Amazon UK
The Second Path Amazon UK
Many thanks to Virginia King for her guest post

If you would like write a guest review for the book review cafe please feel free to contact me via my contact details on my blog page.