A thought about: Host by Robin Cook


Title: Host

Author: Robin Cook

Published: Pan Macmillan October 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from October 31 to November 03, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

Lynn Pierce, a fourth-year medical student at Mason Dixon University, thinks she has her life figured out. But when her otherwise healthy boyfriend, Carl, enters the hospital for routine surgery, she doesn’t know it’s the last time she will see him whole again.

Devastated by Carl’s death, Lynn searches for answers. Convinced there’s more to the story than what the authorities are willing to reveal, Lynn uses all her resources at Mason Dixon—including her initially reluctant lab partner, Edward—to hunt down evidence of medical error or malpractice.

What she uncovers, however, is far more disturbing. Hospitals associated with Sentinel Healthcare, including the one attached to Mason Dixon, have unnervingly high rates of unexplained anesthetic complications and patients contracting serious and terminal illness in the wake of routine surgery.

When Lynn and Edward begin to receive death threats, they know they’re into something bigger than either of them anticipated. They soon enter a desperate race against time for answers before shadowy forces behind Sentinel Healthcare can put a stop to their efforts once and for all.

My Thoughts:

The plot was just too similar to Cook’s well known best seller, Coma. Though a quick, easy read that was not completely devoid of suspense, overall Host felt like an attempt at a contemporary rewrite that fell well short of the original.

Available via

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A thought about: The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood


Title: The Natural Way of Things

Author: Charlotte Wood

Published: Allen & Unwin October 2015

Status: Read from October 26 to 27, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

Two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in an abandoned property in the middle of a desert in a story of two friends, sisterly love and courage – a gripping, starkly imaginative exploration of contemporary misogyny and corporate control, and of what it means to hunt and be hunted.

She hears her own thick voice deep inside her ears when she says, ‘I need to know where I am.’ The man stands there, tall and narrow, hand still on the doorknob, surprised. He says, almost in sympathy, ‘Oh, sweetie. You need to know what you are.’

Two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in a broken-down property in the middle of nowhere. Strangers to each other, they have no idea where they are or how they came to be there with eight other girls, forced to wear strange uniforms, their heads shaved, guarded by two inept yet vicious armed jailers and a ‘nurse’. The girls all have something in common, but what is it? What crime has brought them here from the city? Who is the mysterious security company responsible for this desolate place with its brutal rules, its total isolation from the contemporary world? Doing hard labour under a sweltering sun, the prisoners soon learn what links them: in each girl’s past is a sexual scandal with a powerful man. They pray for rescue — but when the food starts running out it becomes clear that the jailers have also become the jailed. The girls can only rescue themselves.

My Thoughts:

A thought provoking, provocative novel that explores a chilling near-future dystopia drawn from the realities of contemporary society for women. Beautifully written but deeply disquieting.


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A thought about: The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong


Title: The Masked Truth

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Published: Hachette Au October 2015

Status: Read from October 26 to 27, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for.
Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t dare reveal.
The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with “issues.” But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage.
The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree.
Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next—but they’re about to discover that even escape doesn’t equal freedom.

My Thoughts:

A surprising, fast paced thriller with plenty of twists and turns. This is a very different but interesting offering from an author best known for her urban fantasy titles.


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Blog Tour: Sweet Wattle Creek by Kaye Dobbie


I’m delighted to welcome Kaye Dobbie to Book’d Out today, celebrating the release of Sweet Wattle Creek. Kaye Dobbie is an Australian author living on the central Victorian goldfields. She has been writing professionally ever since she won the Grafton Big River short story contest at the age of 18. Her career has undergone many changes, including writing Australian historical fiction under the name Lilly Sommers and penning romance novels as Sara Bennett. Kaye has written about, and been published in, many countries, but her passion for Australia shows in her current Harlequin Mira novels.

In Sweet Wattle Creek, the chance discovery of an antique wedding dress weaves together the fascinating stories of three women from different eras: Sophie, in hiding from a troubled past; Belle, who must lose everything to learn what really matters; and Martha, forced to give up those she loves in order to avoid exposure.

Sweet Wattle Creek high res.

It’s 1931 and Belle Bartholomew has arrived in rural Sweet Wattle Creek to claim her inheritance – a run-down grand hotel formerly owned by Martha Ambrose. Determined to solve the mystery of her birth and the reason why she was bequeathed the hotel Belle runs into difficulties with the townsfolk and their desire to keep their secrets safe.

Sixty years later Sophie Matheson is on a quest to find Belle and her family after discovering the wedding dress. The Sweet Wattle Creek Centenary brings more challenges when her past catches up and she must fight for all that matters to her. Who were Belle and Martha and what links their lives together?”


To read my review of Sweet Wattle Creek and for a chance to win a copy, please CLICK HERE.  But first, please read on to learn more about the novel…

Animal Characters in Sweet Wattle Creek

by Kaye Dobbie

I happen to be an animal lover. Over the years I’ve had more pets than I can remember. Well, that’s not true, because I can remember them, they all hold a special place in my heart, every one of them. So it makes sense that I have animals in my books. Usually the animal plays some role, it isn’t just there to up the word count. And sometimes I like to write about a pet I have loved and lost.

In Sweet Wattle Creek I have three main Creature Characters.

cockatoo-583921_640In 1904 Martha and her daughter Belle are waiting on the platform at Spencer Street Station, Melbourne, for Martha’s brother Rory. Four year old Belle sees a pigeon that reminds her of Nellie, her pet sulphur crested cockatoo, and the bird is introduced to readers. Later on, in 1931, Belle returns to claim her inheritance in Sweet Wattle Creek, and this time we meet the real Nellie. She becomes part of the story, sitting on Belle’s shoulder, even participating in one of the crucial scenes in the book. And near the end, if you read very carefully, she’s there, a part of Belle’s family.

In 1986 Sophie Matheson comes to Sweet Wattle Creek to hide from a frightening past. Her son Dillon has always wanted a dog but their circumstances meant it was impossible. Now they are settled in the small country town, and suddenly fate throws Smithy in their path and into their home.

Smithy is a black and white border collie, and he belongs to an elderly woman who has had a fall and been taken to hospital. Dillon and Smithy immediately bond, and his arrival gives the reader an insight into the sort of boy Dillon is and how his life has been affected by the trauma of his, and Sophie’s, past. Smithy also gives a bit of comic relief from what is a serious subject.

border collieThe third Creature Character in Sweet Wattle Creek is BC, which stands for Black Cat. BC arrived on the doorstep of Sophie’s work place, the Sweet Wattle Creek Herald, with a litter of kittens. Sophie managed to find adoptees for the others, but BC was left and now he is her cat. BC is the boss of the house, very used to getting his own way, until Smithy the border collie arrives. Suddenly BC undergoes a character change, shedding his aloofness for the sake of more pats.

BC is a pseudonym for a real cat called Aussie, who later on became Old Black Cat. She arrived one Christmas, dumped in our street, and found her way to our house. She was my cat for twenty-two years, and for the last part of her life kept me company in my study while I wrote. I got so used to seeing her on the chair behind me, or stretched out in front of the heater under the desk, that when she grew so ill we had to let her go, I felt as if my writing partner had died. At times, during those last weeks, I was worried she wouldn’t make it to the end of the book, so afterwards my sadness was tinged with gratitude that she did.

I believe animals are important in real life, so why not in fictional life too? Are you an animal lover? Do you have a special Creature Character in your life?

Sweet Wattle Creek high res.

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Review: Starcrossed by Carla Caruso




Title: Starcrossed

Author: Carla Caruso

Published: HarperCollins August 2015

Status: Read from September 14 to 15, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

Starcrossed, by Carlo Caruso, is a contemporary romance novel mixed with suspense and magical realism.

Newly divorced and struggling with writer’s block, romance author Simona Gemella agrees to accompany her best friend, Nessie, to an astrological health and wellness retreat on Kangaroo Island. Simona is hoping to relax and find inspiration for her next book, but she is unsettled by the presence of handsome marine biologist Denham Cobalt, and a series of odd, and increasingly sinister, events that begin to plague the guests at the Sea Star Manor.

Written in the third person, most of the story is related through Simona, however the narrative is also shared by fellow guests at the Manor; Nessie, Raquel and Jordana, and a fifth perspective identified only as ‘Him’.

Caruso gradually introduces the idea something is not quite right at the Manor, building the suspense slowly, advancing towards the showdown on the night of the ‘Blood Moon’. But while the author neatly links the fantastical elements to the retreat’s focus on astrology, I thought each of the women had a little too much going on externally, which is a distraction to the main thrust of the plot.

Nessie is hiding a secret while flirting with the Yoga instructor, heavily pregnant Raquel is worried about her partner’s fidelity, and Jordana, accompanied by her husband, with his own drama, is struggling with infertility. Simona, on top of being newly divorced, suffering from writers block, and stressing over the release of her debut novel, also has to contend with the anticipation of meeting her writing ‘idol’, Astrid’s revelations, and of course, her attraction to Denham.

Overall I thought Starcrossed was a quick and engaging read, but needed a little more focus.

Click HERE to learn more about Carla Caruso and Starcrossed

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Review: Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter


Title: Pretty Girls

Author: Karin Slaughter

Published: Cornerstone Digital July 2015

Status: Read from August 27 to 30, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Best known for her Grant County and Will Trent crime fiction series, Pretty Girls is Karin Slaughter’s second stand alone novel.

After nineteen year old Julia disappeared without a trace, the Carroll family fell apart in a spectacular fashion. Twenty four years later, sisters Lydia and Claire are little more than strangers, until they are reunited at the graveside of Claire’s murdered husband, Paul. When Claire discovers some obscene videos that depict the torture, rape and murder of teenage girls on her husband’s computer she is horrified. Though a local detective assures Claire the movies are fake, one of the victims looks eerily like a girl recently reported missing and Claire finds she can’t ignore her instincts, and reaches out to the only person she feels she can trust, her sister, for help.

Pretty Girls is primarily a psychological thriller but includes plenty of action and graphic violence. The fast moving plot twists and turns as Lydia and Claire are caught up in a nightmarish conspiracy and become the targets of a psychopath. Their shared narrative is full of tension as they renegotiate their relationship and heal old wounds, while working together to uncover the truth about Paul, and their missing sister’s fate.

A third perspective weaves its way through the novel. Sam is the girls’ father who was obsessed with searching for Julia until he committed suicide on the sixth anniversary of her disappearance. His narrative underscores the emotional agony experienced by the shattered families of the missing who find it difficult to move on without closure.

I’m really not sure why I didn’t find Pretty Girls as compelling as many readers seem to do. It is a dark, gritty and often page turning thriller, well written with plenty to recommend it, but it didn’t grip me as fully as I hoped.

Available to purchase from

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Review: Woman of the Dead by Bernard Aichner


Title: Woman of The Dead {Blum #1}

Author: Bernard Aichner (translated by Anthea Bell)

Published: Scribner August 2015

Status: Read on August 25, 2015 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

A dark and disturbing tale of vengeance and violence, Woman of the Dead is the first novel by Bernhard Aichner to feature Blum, mother, mortician and murderer.

When Blum’s beloved husband is killed in a hit and run she is nearly destroyed until she learns that he was deliberately targeted. The photographer, the cook, the priest, the huntsman, and the clown – these are the men responsible, and Blum is going to make them pay.

Woman Of the Dead has one of the most memorable character introductions I’ve ever read. The story opens with a during a defining moment in Blum’s life before leaping forward eight years to place us in the present. Blum is the devoted wife of Mark, a police detective, the doting mother of their two young daughters, and the owner of a successful funeral business. She is both hero and anti-hero in this story, grieving widow and ruthless killer.

There is raw and visceral emotion in The Woman of the Dead. The pain and numbness of Blum’s grief and the horror of the abuse Danya experienced at the hands of the mysterious cabal. There is also grisly and often explicit violence, this isn’t a story for the squeamish.

The plot is quite straight forward, perhaps stretched a little thin at times. It’s a fast paced story that builds suspense, though astute readers shouldn’t have any problems guessing the identity of the last man standing.

Woman of the Dead is an unusual story, with a rather extraordinary protagonist. I’m curious to see how the series develops.

Available to Purchase via

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Review: Private Sydney by James Patterson & Kathryn Fox


Title: Private Sydney {Private #10}

Author: James Patterson and Kathryn Fox

Published: Random House Australia August 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from August 17 to 18, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:
In the latest addition to the Private series, James Patterson teams with Aussie crime author Kathryn Fox, introducing the reader to Craig Gisto, and his staff, in the Private Sydney agency who have two cases to investigate in this crime thriller novel.

The first involves a surrogacy scam, a murdered woman and a missing baby. Gisto’s agency is accused of negligence when a couple hires Private to run a background check on a woman who has volunteered to be their surrogate. Within hours of turning over the report, the woman is murdered, an 8 week old baby in her care abducted, and the identities of the couple prove to be false. Gisto and his team have few leads and work hard to unravel the scam, determined to find the missing infant.

The second case involves the missing CEO of a billion dollar company. Stonewalled by the man’s business partner, Gisto begins to suspect large scale fraud is the issue. However it soon becomes clear that whatever Eric Moss has done, he has made some dangerous enemies. Despite attempts at intimidation, Gisto refuses to back off, especially when threats are made against the missing man’s daughter.

Short chapters, an economy of words, and a sense of immediacy keeps the pace moving quickly. The plot is well crafted and not entirely predictable, with some smaller subplots that fill out the pages. Studded with action, there is also a touch of romance. You don’t get much more than a general sense of the characters, but it is enough to satisfy.

The Australian setting, which moves from Sydney city to the Blue Mountains, should appeal to Patterson’s international and local fans.

Private Sydney was exactly what I expected, a quick, easy, entertaining read.

Private Sydney is available to purchase from

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Review: The Murderer’s Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman


Title: The Murderer’s Daughter

Author: Jonathan Kellerman

Published: Ballantine Books August 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from August 16 to 17, 2015 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

A rare standalone from an author best known for his long running series featuring child psychologist Alex Delaware, Johnathon Kellerman doesn’t stray far from the familiar in The Murderer’s Daughter.

Grace Blades is a respected psychotherapist who specialises in treating patients that have experienced extreme trauma. It isn’t uncommon for new patients to abandon a session, but Grace is curious when the body of Andrew Toner is found the morning after their first meeting. Tracing his last movements, Grace unwittingly puts herself in the cross-hairs of a ruthless killer.

Andrew Toner, Grace soon discovers, was born Typhon Dagon Roi, the orphaned son of a cult leader, who along with his siblings, Samael and Lilith, spent a brief period in the same foster home as Grace. Targeted by Andrew/Typhon’s killer, Grace, intelligent and resourceful, conducts her own investigation, while evading the men targeting her, leading her into a harrowing confrontation with pitiless evil.

The narrative alternates between the present, as Grace searches for for the killer, and the harrowing details of Grace’s troubled past.

Grace is an intriguing character. She was five when she witnessed her mother kill her father and then commit suicide, eleven when her foster mother, Ramona, collapsed and died in front of her. An incredibly bright child, she captured the interest of Ramona’s brother-in-law, psychology professor Malcolm Bluestone, and his wife Sophia, who later adopted her. Now in her mid thirties, she is independently wealthy, and successful in her field, but she has a dark side that comes to the fore when threatened.

The mystery runs a fairly predictable course, but Grace is a memorable character. Part fast paced thriller, part complex character study, The Murderer’s Daughter is a great read for Kellerman fans, and new readers alike.


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Blog Tour Review: The Hiding Place by John Burley


Title: The Hiding Place

Author: John Burley

Published: HarperCollins Avon UK August 2015

Status: Read on August 06, 2015 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

The Hiding Place (also published as The Forgetting Place) is John Burley’s second stand alone novel of suspense.

Dr Lise Shields has always accepted that Menaker Psychiatric Hospital houses some of America’s most dangerous criminally insane offenders, until Jason Edwards becomes her patient. There is something not quite right about his presence at the institution, and when her supervisor refuses to produce his file, Lise is driven to investigate. Her suspicions are seemingly confirmed when she is approached by two FBI agents who explain Jason is in hiding, and both she and her patient are now in danger.

With several twists in the tale, The Hiding Place is gripping novel. Whilst the story may require some suspension of belief during its reading, most nagging elements of discord are eventually resolved as the startling conclusion is reached. It may be a little slow to begin with, as Burley establishes the foundation for his story, the pace of The Hiding Place picks up considerably as the novel unfolds, building suspense that will keep you turning the pages.

“This, I realise, so often leads to our downfall. We press forward not because we want to know, but because we must know. It doesn’t matter how terrible that knowledge is, or what price must be paid for it. And it is not until the moment of revelation that we scurry back in horror and dismay…”

Dr Lise Shields is an interesting character, we are told she has been a psychiatrist at Menaker for five years, and leads a rather solitary life. Her choice of profession was inspired by an uncle that suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, and Lise is desperate to protect Jason from his pursuers in a way that she was unable to protect her uncle from his.

“We belong to our past, each of us serving it in our own way, and to break the tether between that time and the present is to risk shattering ourselves in the process.”

If you can avoid spoilers, The Hiding Place offers an impressive final twist, perhaps one I should have seen coming…but was neatly distracted from. This is a taut, page turning thriller.

“The past is what imprisons us. There are some things in this world that can never be undone. But they can be faced. They can be forgiven. And if we hold onto that, then there is a chance for us. A chance that someday…we will be free.”

Available to purchase via

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