Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Legacy of the Lynx by Clio Gray @cliogray @urbanepub




About the Legacy of the Lynx

Award winning writer Clio Gray has written a thrilling adventure story, steeped in historical fact and legend, that will keep readers gripped to the very last page.

1798. Three people, two brutal murders, and a single promise...

Golo Eck is searching for the fabled lost library of The Lynx, Europe’s first scientific society, founded in 1603. Fergus, his friend and fellow adventurer, is on the trail of the legend in Ireland when he becomes embroiled in the uprising of the United Irish against English rule. His only hope of escape is Greta, a courageous messenger for the United Irish cause. Following the bloody battles of New Ross and Vinegar Hill, Fergus is missing, and Greta is on the run.

Golo meanwhile suspects other forces are on the trail of the Lynx, and he heads to Holland in pursuit. When Golo’s ship founders and he disappears, his ward Ruan is left to fend for himself, a stranger in a strange land.

Can Ruan pursue the trail to the lost library? Will Golo and Fergus be found? Can Greta escape Ireland with her very life? And will the truth of the Legacy of the Lynx finally be revealed?

My review of Legacy of the Lynx
 
The Legacy of the Lynx is a beautiful, historical, adventure story that I absolutely loved. I'll admit and tell you that I was drawn to the book, firstly by its beautiful cover, but then, when I read what the book was about, I knew that I had to read it.

Clio Gray is an experienced writer with many books under her belt, but this is the first book that I have read by her. The story is about Golo Eck's quest for the lost library of The Lynx,  that was founded in the early 1600s, Finding this lost library is the key to a more peaceful, democratic and less violent world. Golo truly believes that the Lynx can save mankind. As he is advancing in years, he knows that time is running out, and that together with his fiends, Fergus and Ruan, they will be able to find the Lynx in time.

At the beginning of the book all three characters leave the highlands of Scotland to begin their journeys. Golo and Ruan head to Holland on a boat, while Fergus heads to Ireland. This is when the adventure truly begins.  Fergus finds himself in Ireland during the uprising of the United Irish against the English and has the fight of his life on his hands, to both keep alive and to find the part of the Lynx that is buried in Ireland. From the moment I was introduced to Fergus, I loved him. He is a man who cares for his frend Golo, who is a father figure to him, and who, although only tolerates Ruan, wants the absolute best for him. He is a man with honour and integrity, but also weaknesses, and I found that I wanted him to succeed and to be happy.

Ruan and Golo head to Holland but are quickly separated, leaving Ruan alone and having to search for the Lynx by himself. Although I did not like Ruan at the beginning of the book, I thought him to be spoilt and quite frankly nasty, he most definitely grew on me during the course of the book, and I think that this was the way it was meant to be. He grows into a young man during the book and we grow with him. His journey, I felt, was the most difficult of all, and just like with Fergus, I wanted him to succeed.

I must also quickly mention Greta, as the book is not entirely dominated by men, there are a few feisty women in this book, and Greta is one of them. She helps Fergus through the treacherous Irish streets as his guide. She is a strong, opinionated and likeable character, and I warned to her instantly. I can still hear her dulcet Irish tones in my head.

If you are anything like me, and feel slightly put off when the word 'history' is mentioned in a novel, then please don't be. My historical knowledge is awful, and I found this book to be hugely entertaining without knowing anything around the events that were unfurling during the late 1700s in Ireland. This book is all about the characters, what they learn during their journey. It is a story about adventure and discovery, but for me, I wanted to know what would happen to the characters and if they eventually found their beloved library of the Lynx.

Legacy of the Lynx is a delicious slow burner of a book. The dialogue is intricate and cannot be rushed. You really do need to sit and give yourself a few hours of undivided attention while you read this book. Having  said that, the author packs in an awful lot of action, with alternating scenes between Holland and Ireland, so that you do not become confused as to what journey you are following.

The Legacy of the Lynx is a hugely enjoyable read. If you love your historical novels (or even if you don't), love grand adventure stories, murder mysteries and intelligent writing, in a book that is different from the norm, then you will love this book.

With thanks to Urbane Publications and NetGalley for a review copy. Legacy of the Lynx was published on November 24th by Urbane Publications.



About the Author

Clio was born in Yorkshire, spent her later childhood in Devon before returning to Yorkshire to go to university. For the last twenty five years she has lived in the Scottish Highlands where she intends to remain. She eschewed the usual route of marriage, mortgage, children, and instead spent her working life in libraries, filling her home with books and sharing that home with dogs. She began writing for personal amusement in the late nineties, then began entering short story competitions, getting short listed and then winning, which led directly to a publication deal with Headline. Her latest book, The Anatomist's Dream, was nominated for the Man Booker 2015 and long listed for the Bailey's Prize in 2016. 'Surprisingly,' Gray says, 'The Anatomist's Dream - although my eighth published novel - was amongst the first few stabs I made at writing a book. Pretty appalling in its first incarnation (not that I thought it at the time!) it was only when I brushed the dust off it a few years ago that I realised there really was something interesting and unusual at its core that I could now, as a more experienced writer, work with. The moral being: don't give up. The more you write, the more self-critical you become and the better your writing will be because of it.' Clio has always been encouraging towards emergent writers, and founded HISSAC (The Highlands and Islands Short Story Association) in 2004 precisely to further that aim, providing feedback on short listed stories and mentoring first time novelists, not a few of whom have gone on to be published themselves. 'It's been a great privilege to work with aspiring writers, to see them develop and flourish,' Gray says. 'There can never be too many books in the world, and the better the books the better place the world will be.'




Tuesday, 29 November 2016

While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft

 
 
 
About While You Were Sleeping

You wake up to find the man beside you is dead.
 
He is not your husband. This is not your bed.
 
Tara Logan adores her perfect little family: husband, Noah, and two children, teenager Rosie and eleven-year-old Spencer.
 
But her happiness is shattered when she wakes in her neighbour, Lee Jacobs’ 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 flees home and stays silent, holding her breath as the investigation grips the neighbourhood.
 
But as her daughter spirals out of control, and her husband becomes increasingly distant, Tara starts to wonder if someone in her own life knows what really happened that night. And when the police turn their questions towards her, Tara realises she has to find out.
 
But what will it take to uncover the real story, and can she survive the truth?
 
A gripping, shocking psychological thriller, with a twist that will take you by surprise.


My review of While You Were Sleeping

Well I agree that this book is a 'psychological thriller you just can't put down', as I had to keep on reading this book, well past when I should have gone to sleep. This is a gripping, dark and deeply disturbing book that is unsettling and enjoyable, all at the same time. After reading some very mixed reviews, I wasn't too sure what I would make of this book, but as ever, I approach a book with an open mind, and I have to say that I loved it. There was one aspect that I did find unrealistic, I'll get to that later, but for me it did not take away from the enjoyment of the book.

Tara is the mother, wife and sister in the book. The woman who wakes up in the morning, in a strange bed, in a strange house with a strange man lying next to her who is not her husband. This man has been murdered, and she has no idea of how she came to be lying naked in his bed or of who murdered him. All she knows is that she did not do it. This is at the very start of the book, and as a reader, you believe her, you have no reason not too. We follow her on her journey through the book, as she tries to find out who the killer is.

Could it be her husband, Noah? He is distant, and was away from home when the murder took place. How strong is his alibi? Could it have been her teenage daughter, Rosie? She has a difficult relationship with adults and has been infatuated with older men in the past? The point is, the murderer could be anyone. While reading this book I didn't know who to trust. This is one of the reasons that the book works so well, even though the police procedure within it is unbelievable. I really did not believe that a police detective leading the case would give so much information to a potential suspect. But, even though this part of the novel was glaringly  unreal, it added to the mystery and the enjoyment of the book. It also made the character of Tara come alive, so I thought that it was necessary.

As for the characters, I really did not like any of them, apart from Spencer. He reminded me of my little boy. But I actually feel that I was not meant to like them, as this made me question all of their motives even more, I was more subjective towards them.

While You Were Sleeping is a fast paced, page turner of a book that I really couldn't put down. It kept me hooked from beginning to end... and the twist. Well, I really did not see that coming. I found this book to be a thoroughly enjoyable read.
 
 With thanks to the publisher, Bookouture and NetGalley for a review copy
 
While You Were Sleeping can be bought from Amazon here


About the Author

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, will be published on 16th November 2016, and is now available for preorder 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.

www.kathryncroft.com


Saturday, 26 November 2016

Visions of Zarua by Suzanne Rogerson @rogersonsm






About Visions of Zarua

Two wizards, 350 years apart. Together they must save the realm of Paltria from Zarua’s dark past. An ancient darkness haunts the realm of Paltria. Apprentice wizard Paddren is plagued by visions of a city on the brink of annihilation. When his master Kalesh dies in mysterious circumstances, the Royal Order of Wizards refuses to investigate. Helped by his childhood friend, the skilled tracker Varnia, and her lover Leyoch, Paddren vows to find the killer. The investigation leads Paddren down a sinister path of assassins, secret sects and creatures conjured by blood magic. But he is guided by a connection with a wizard from centuries ago - a wizard whose history holds the key to the horror at the heart of the abandoned city of Zarua. Can Paddren decipher his visions in time to save the Paltrian people from the dark menace of Zarua’s past?

My review of Visions of Zarua

Visions of Zarua is set in the magical world of Paltria, where there are Wizards, mythical creatures and enemies around every corner. This is a dark fantasy novel, that I loved from the very first page. It has to be said that fantasy novels are not my usual genre, but I was surprised by just how much this book spoke to me. Even though it is set in the mythical world of Paltria, and the ancient and abandoned city of Zarua, the book echoed the emotions of everyday, normal life. This is why I connected so much with this book and the characters within it.
 
The story is really that of two separate journeys. One that is set in present day Paltria, which involves the Wizard, Paddren, and his friends Varnia and Leyoch. Together they set out on a journey to find out who killed Paddren's master, Kalesh. Their journey is aided by the visions that  Paddren has, formed from a connection with Jago, a Wizard from a time that spans back 350 years ago. Although you may think that it would be difficult to follow two very different and epic stories, the journey of Paddren and his friends is told in third person, while that of Jago is in first person narrative. This is one of the reasons that the two stories are so very easy to follow. Each has their very own distinctive voice and style. The use of the first person for Jago's voice is also very clever, as it makes the story come to life.
 
What is also so very refreshing about this book is that the characters are not perfect, but are flawed and 'human', in that they all have their weaknesses, but are bound together for the better good. Paddren has a shocking temper and at times acts very much liked a spoilt little boy. This reminds us of how very young he is, although he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. His quest is very much supported by the talents of Varnia and Leyoch, who are so much more than supporting characters. They both play a vital role in the story, and  I have to say that I found Varnia to be one of the most exciting characters, and by far my favourite.
 
Visions of Zarua is very much a mystery stroke who dunit kind of a read,  that just happens to be set in a  mythical fantasy world with Wizards. But the two genres blend so beautifully together. This book really is an exquisite slow burner of a read, that needs to be savoured, there is no rushing this novel. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
 
 With thanks to the author who provided a review copy of the book.
 
Visions of Zarua is available to buy from Amazon here.

About the author

Suzanne Rogerson  lives in Middlesex with her hugely encouraging husband and two children.

She wrote her first novel at the age of twelve. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave her the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream - even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.

Suzanne loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden, and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.

She collects books, loves going for walks and picnics with the children and sharing with them her love of nature and photography.

Suzanne is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles. But most of she likes to escape with a great film, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Never Coming Back by Deirdre Palmer





About Never Coming Back

Your best friend dies. All because of you. How do you go on?

Layla is struggling to come to terms with the death of her best friend, Danni, at a student party almost a year ago. Perhaps she never will – because only Layla knows the truth about what happened that night.

Danni’s parents, Melody and Reece, invite Layla for weekend visits to their Sussex farmhouse home, and she’s happy to accept – until Melody’s increasing dependence on her sends out warning signals. Although she knows it’s time to break away, for all their sakes, Layla’s guilt over Danni’s death has her returning, time and again.

When Layla meets Morgan, the connection between them is unmistakable. But until she confronts the past, she can’t face the future, let alone allow herself to fall in love.

There is only one way out: Layla must confess her secret to Danni’s parents. But can she risk breaking their hearts all over again? And will Morgan still love her, once he discovers the kind of person she really is?

It’s the hardest decision. And time is running out…

My review of Never Coming Back
 
Never Coming Back is a stunningly beautiful and captivating read from author, Deirdre Palmer. After reading the blurb I was instantly captivated as I was desperate to know what had happened at that ill fated party. This is the crux of the book, as everything that happens after that is influenced by that night's tragic event. So did I enjoy this book? Yes, in fact I loved it.

Now, this book is not fast paced, but rather a book that should be devoured in tiny pieces. I took my time reading this book over several days. This was for two reasons. The first is that the author packs a lot of detail and definition into this book, that simply cannot be rushed. It is a book, were the small details need to be noted and ingested in order to grasp a true taste and feeing of how the characters are living their lives. This then brings me onto the second point, that of characterisation. This book is very much character driven, although we do have the blaring question of what happened to Layla's Uni friend,  Danni, at the party. It is the characters in this book, primarily Layla, Melody and Morgan, who gel the book together. We read their independent stories and viewpoints and we need to do so slowly.

This book is cleverly written and delves into the very serious issues of grief, loss and guilt. All of these issues are woven into the book that is primarily about finding new love and moving on. But these issues are written with such gentleness and understanding, that I actually felt the emotions that each character went through. I quite literally felt their pain.

We have Layla, the young woman who is riddled with guilt at the death of her friend. This guilt is stopping her from moving on with her life. She is in limbo. She is torn between her past and keeping up a connection and relationship with Danni's parents, and that of moving on with the new man in her life, Morgan. But until the past is resolved and put aside, she is stuck. I loved this character and although she made some pretty bad decisions, I understood why she made them. After all, we are all human and have all made silly mistakes in our past.

Melody, I had a lot of empathy with, and really felt her pain at losing her daughter. How would I feel, or think if anything like that happened to one of my children? It just doesn't bare thinking about, and this is what the author so skilfully portrays. This is a mother wracked with guilt and grief, She is an extremely well rounded character and most importantly , very believable.

Morgan is the romantic interest in this story, with his own path to forge and unique story to tell. and I loved him. This is because he is not your usual romantic hero. He is very much like the 'boy next door'. The man who is striving to be a writer, wanting to live his dream, but not as yet quite finding his feet. I loved him though, for all of his thoughtfulness, his clumsiness, and the fact that he knew instantly that he was in love with Layla. His heart is very much in the right place, and as a proper gentleman, there is no way that you could not fall in love with him.

Never Coming Back is a beautifully written, modern tale of guilty secrets and of how grief effects a family, and the individual.
  
Never Coming Back is published by Crooked Cat Publishing on 8 Dec. 2016. The Amazon link can be found here.

With thanks to the author for an Advanced Reader Copy.


About the Author

Deirdre Palmer lives in Brighton, on the south coast of England. Most of her working life has been spent in public sector administration, most recently at the University of Brighton.
She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and belongs to a blog group called ‘The Write Romantics’.

You can find out more about Deirdre Palmer and contact her at:

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Holiday with the Mystery Italian (Harlequin Romance) by Ellie Darkins



About - Holiday with the Mystery Italian

Winning the ultimate prize
 
Since the accident that paralyzed him, Italian tycoon Mauro Evans vowed to embrace life. So when he stars in a dating show for charity, picking prickly journalist Amber Harris as the winner to take on holiday is a challenge he can't resist!
 
In Amber's experience, relationships equal pain, so she's determined to ignore her attraction to charismatic Mauro. But his bravery and strength threaten to tear down her defenses, giving her a new Christmas dreamringing in the New Year with wedding bells!
 
My review of Holiday with the Mystery Italian
 
 It has been a long time since I have read a Harlequin Romance story, and so when I was offered the chance to read Holiday with the Mystery Italian, I thought to myself, why not? You just know that when you read a Harlequin Romance, that you will enjoy a light, romantic and fun read, and this book certainly lived up that expectation. But the great thing about this book, is that it was also a book with depth and so much more than a light romantic read. I'll try and explain why.
 
Firstly, we have Amber, a journalist and a woman who has vowed never to get involved with a man, ever again. Ah, I thought to myself, so she will be wooed by Mauro and succumb to his charms. But I had assumed incorrectly. This character is a lot more complex that I first expected, and I found myself enjoying her determination, witty repertoire and the fact that she loved her career. She is a strong and independent woman, with a past that she wants to keep hidden. I therefore found her very interesting and wanted to know more about her past and how it had shaped her future.
 
Then we have the rather lovely Italian, Mauro, a Paralympian. Now, as a leading man in a romantic novel, he was a very different kind of leading man, partly because of the fact that he is in a wheelchair. But what I really loved about this book was the way in which disability was discussed between the characters and how it was portrayed by the author. As a reader, I was not made to feel sorry for him, neither did Amber, as that would have made me stop reading immediately. I am very prickly when it comes to how disability is conveyed in books, and I feel that the issue of a leading man, who just happens to be in a wheelchair, was both refreshing and very well written.
 
So yes, Mauro, I have to admit that I fell a little bit in love with him. A caring, kind and very good looking man. But what I loved most about him was the fact that he could see straight through Amber's pretence and the wall that she had built up around herself. He intrigued me and I couldn't' wait to see what would happen romantically between them.
 
This book is perfect as a cosy Christmas read that will most certainly give you that feel good factor. If you love Harlequin Romances, but want something a little bit different, with  a lot of heart and backbone to the story, you can't go far wrong with Holiday with the Mystery Italian. I loved it!
 
Holiday with the Mystery Italian is published  on 6th December by Harlequin Romance. It is available to buy from Amazon here.
 
With thanks to the author and publisher for an Advanced Reader's Copy.
 
About the Author
 
Ellie Darkins spent her formative years devouring romance novels, and after completing her English degree she decided to make a living from her love of books. As a writer and editor her work now entails dreaming up romantic proposals, hot dates with alpha males and trips to the past with dashing heroes. When she’s not working she can usually be found at her local library or out for a run.
 

Saturday, 19 November 2016

The Girls Next Door by Mel Sherratt

 

Book Description

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

The Food of Love by Amanada Prowse



About The Food of Love

A loving mother. A perfect family. A shock wave that could shatter everything.

Freya Braithwaite knows she is lucky. Nineteen years of marriage to a man who still warms her soul and two beautiful teenage daughters to show for it: confident Charlotte and thoughtful Lexi. Her home is filled with love and laughter.

But when Lexi’s struggles with weight take control of her life, everything Freya once took for granted falls apart, leaving the whole family with a sense of helplessness that can only be confronted with understanding, unity and, above all, love.

In this compelling and heart-wrenching new work by bestselling author Amanda Prowse, one ordinary family tackles unexpected difficulties and discovers that love can find its way through life’s darkest moments.

My Review of The Food of Love
 
The Food of Love is a poignant, heart wrenching, page turner of a book. Once I started to read, I could not stop. I read this book a few days ago, but I still find myself thinking about the characters and what happened to them. They crawled under my skin, and they are not quite yet ready to let go. Needless to say, I loved this book.
 
The story focusses on an ordinary family, a couple who have been married for nineteen years, and their two teenage daughters. They are a family like any other, and this is what struck me the hardest while reading this book. This family could be my family. I have been married for the same amount of years and I have two boys, albeit much younger. But it is the normality that struck me, and that this normality can be shattered at any moment.
 
Amanda Prowse is an extraordinarily skilled storyteller, in that she can very easily turn the tables on the ordinary and domesticated perfect life. All of the characters within this book have to face some harsh realities, and face up to their weaknesses. In particular, I empathised with the mother in the story, Freya Braithwaite, most probably because she is nearer my age, and a mother. As a mother, I feel like I have to always do the right thing, say the right thing and be the backbone of the family, I very rarely ask for help, and I saw all of these characteristic in Freya. It was throughout the book that she had to question those characteristics, and how she and her family could support her daughter, Lexi.
 
This book is obviously about eating disorders, a taboo that very rarely gets talked about, mainly I feel because there is little understanding. I hold my hands up and state that I know very little abut eating disorders. But now that I have read The Food of Love, I have more understanding about how eating disorders impact both the individual and their family.
 
The Food of Love is such an important book, and I feel that every mother, daughter, auntie and grandma should read this book. No, scrap that, EVERYONE should read this book. It raises the issue  in a sensitive and empathetic manner; of what it means to have an eating disorder, of how it effects the individual and of how that individual and family can gain support.
 
This is a book about love, honesty and the importance of family. I highly recommend it. Everyone needs to read this book.
 
The Food of Love is published on Dec 1st by Lake Union Publishing.
 
With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an Advanced Redder Copy 

           

About Amanda Prowse

 

Monday, 14 November 2016

*BLOG TOUR* Review - Beneath the Ashes by Jane Isaac




About Beneath the Ashes

FROM THE AMAZON TOP 5 BESTSELLING AUTHOR

'Carefully executed police procedural, that hits all the targets.' --Angela Clarke, author of Follow Me
'I thought I'd never read a book that came close to the realities of crime and policing. Then I read this.' --Ian Patrick Writer and former DS with the Metropolitan Police
'A smart, intelligent and tightly woven police procedural with real depth of human emotion at its heart.' --Rebecca Bradley, author of Shallow Waters

The floor felt hard beneath her face. Nancy opened her eyes. Blinked several times. A pain seared through her head. She could feel fluid. No. She was lying in fluid.

When a body is discovered in a burnt-out barn in the Warwickshire countryside, DI Will Jackman is called to investigate.

Nancy Faraday wakes up on the kitchen floor. The house has been broken into and her boyfriend is missing. As the case unravels, DI Jackman realises that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has a secret.

Can he discover the truth behind the body in the fire, and track down the killer before Nancy becomes the next victim?

A gripping thriller perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, S.J. Watson, B A Paris and Sophie Hannah


My Review of Beneath the Ashes




This is the first book that I have read by Jane Isaac, so I missed out on the first book in the DI Will Jackman series, although after reading this book, I soon will be reading it! I loved this book. I love gritty detective novels that feature plot twists and strong, well defined characters, and this book has it all.

The book opens with the prologue, in which a woman is running away from sirens, that I presumed to be the police. We have no idea who she is or what she is running away from, as she eventually reaches the solitude of the graveyard. This beginning hooked me right in and I settled down to read what would happen next.

The scene then cuts to Nancy, a woman who wakes up on the kitchen floor of a farmhouse, clearly confused with an obvious head wound and shattered glass littering the floor. She assumes that she must have fallen asleep alter an evening drinking with her boyfriend, Evan, but she soon realises that something is wrong. It is from here that the plot truly begins when a body is found in the farm's barn following a fire, and we begin to learn about what happened the night before. This book has so many twists and turns that I had no idea of who the killer was, right until the very end.

This book has a solid plot and it is very obvious that the author has done her research and knows the ins and outs of police procedures. There is meticulous attention to detail and, I found myself absorbing every single aspect of the case.  It is this attention to detail and the astute observations of the author in how individuals react and communicate with each other, that made me love this book. In essence the characters and the plot were completely believable.

There are some wonderful characters in this book, but I have to admit that my attention was captivated by DI Will Jackman. Unlike so many police detectives, he does seem to have got the work/life balance nearly right, and I was intrigued by the two sides of his character. The family man who cares deeply for his wife and daughter, and the fearless detective who strives for justice. I admit that I fell a little bit in love with him, as who wouldn't?

Isaac also has some strong  female characters in this book, one of whom is the witty and hugely likeable, Sergeant Annie Davies. I liked the fact that she was a working mum. So many police dramas focus on the negatives of family life and that many women in the policing profession do not have children. But Davies seems to have it all, and I admired her greatly. She and Jackman seemed to make a really great team and I loved the working chemistry between them.

Beneath the Ashes is a fantastic and compelling read. It is a thoroughly gripping crime thriller that will keep you guessing unit the very end.

With many thanks to Legend Press and NetGalley for a review copy. Beneath the Ashes is available to buy NOW.

 
 
About Jane Isaac


 
Jane Isaac lives with her husband, daughter and dog, Bollo, in rural Northamptonshire, UK. Her debut novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, introduces DCI Helen Lavery and was nominated as best mystery in the 'eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013.'

The Truth Will Out, the second in the DCI Helen Lavery series, was nominated as 'Thriller of the Month - April 2014' by E-thriller.com and winner of 'Noveltunity book club selection - May 2014'.

In 2015 Jane embarked on a new series, featuring DI Will Jackman and set in Stratford upon Avon, with Before It's Too Late. The second in the series, Beneath The Ashes, will be published by Legend Press on 1st November 2016 with the 3rd, The Lies Within, to follow on 2nd May 2017.

Both DI Jackman and DCI Lavery will return again in the near future. Sign up to Jane's newsletter on her website at www.janeisaac.co.uk for details of new releases, events and giveaways

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Ragdoll by Daniel Cole

 
About Ragdoll
 
The nation is gripped by the infamous 'Ragdoll Killer'
Every news bulletin and headline is obsessed with this story.

Your friends, your family and your neighbours are all talking about it.

Believe the hype. Sold in over 32 countries and counting, RAGDOLL is the standout thriller of the year.

A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet, nicknamed by the press as the 'ragdoll'.

Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William 'Wolf' Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.

The 'Ragdoll Killer' taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.

With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move

My Review of Ragdoll
 
Oh My Word!!! Where do I start other than saying that this book was brilliant in every single way imaginable.  
 
 
I can't stop thinking about this book, I have a severe book hangover, I just loved everything about it. As the blurb says, this book focuses upon a serial killer who has killed 6 people. However, all the  police have to go on are the six body parts that have been found stitched together, so as to form the grotesque 'Ragdoll'. Then the killer releases a list of six future victims to the media, one of whom is Detective William 'Wolf' Fawkes, along with the dates in which they will die. The race then begins to find the killer.

From the very beginning I just knew that I would love this book. It is sharp, brutally violent, yet really, really funny, which seems strange when talking about a book that is incredibly violent and focuses upon a serial killer... but it is... very funny. This may be due to the fact that Daniel Cole is a former paramedic, and so has that natural ability to underhand and write black humour. As a former nurse, I totally get where he is coming from.  But that is not to shy away from the fact that this book is dark, disturbing and incredibly violent, so if you are at all squeamish or easily offended, then this is possibly not the book for you.

Having said that, not much offends me and I do enjoy black humour and grizzly crime thrillers,  so this book was right up my street. It very much reminded me of the film Seven, but with added humour.

I can't talk abut the actual plot as even sharing a little bit of what happened will spoil the excitement of reading the story for the very first time, and I don't want to do that,  so I'll talk about my favourite characters. So, to Wolf. What ca I say? He is witty, clever, handsome and flawed, but I could not help but love him. He is what glues this book together and, I found him absolutely fascinating. Just as fascinating was the character of Detective Emily Baxter, I just loved her bluntness and she created so many laugh out loud moments.

Now, back to plot. There are just so many twists, turns, dead ends and surprising moments, that you will find yourself momentarily putting the book down while you get to grips with what just happened, before taking a deep and shaky breath and carrying on, this happened a lot. I was so torn while reading this book, I wanted to whizz through the pages, to find out what would happen next, but at the same time I wanted to savour every word, as I did not want the book to end, and I was so very sad when it did, as I felt I had said goodbye to a long, lost friend.

So yes, I adore this book. If there is only one book that you buy in 2017, it has to be this one, you won't be disappointed.... and if it isn't made into a feature film, then I will eat my beanie hat.

Ragdoll is published by the Orion Publishing Group, Trapeze, on Feb 23rd 2017.

With many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an Advanced Reader Copy.
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

 



Thursday, 10 November 2016

*Blog Tour* - Guest Post by Cheryl Rees-Price, author of Frozen Minds


 
 
Today I am very excited to welcome author, Cheryl Rees-Price to Brew and Books Review. Cheryl has written a guest post on the subject of motive. I'll hand you over to Cheryl.
 
Motives
 
Most crime books that I have read start with the discovery of a body. At this stage we know little about the victim, just the rough age, and sex. They are a stranger so we haven’t invested any emotion in them. We are more interested in the how, who, and why. It is only as we follow the investigation that details of the victim emerge, their nature, work, friends, family, and enemies.  Unless the victim is chosen at random by a serial killer or in the wrong place at the wrong time, our minds whirr with the question, what did they do to deserve this ending? Our sympathy for the victim is suspended until we have all the facts.

 

The top motives for murder are said to be, revenge, money, love, and jealousy. These motives can be seen in biblical times. Cain slayed his brother, Abel, out of jealousy and didn’t appear particularly remorseful. Our sympathies should surely lie with Abel but we know little of him, did he torment his brother? Push him to the limit?

When the motive is for revenge it becomes easier to empathise with the perpetrator. The victim has usually deliberately caused pain or harm to a loved one. A good fiction example of this can be found in Agatha’s Christies’ Murder on the Orient Express. Here twelve take part in a revenge killing. The victim, Rachett, had been responsible for the kidnap and murder of a child which later had devastating consequences for the family. In this case, such was the ruthless nature of Ratchett’s crime, Poirot choses to let the killers go free. In this story it is easy for the reader to condone the actions of the killers.

 

In real life situations this is very rarely the case. On the 13 of July 1955 Ruth Ellis became the last woman to be executed in Britain. Ellis was the manager of a nightclub where she met her victim David Blakely. They moved in together despite the fact that Blakely had a fiancĂ©. The relationship was volatile and later Ellis became the mistress of Desmond Cussen, but continued to see Blakely. The relationship became increasingly violent and Ellis miscarried after Blakely punched her in the stomach. On Sunday the 10th of April 1955 Ellis waited outside a public house and when Blakely emerged she fired five shots, three at close range. Ellis pleaded guilty in court. A petition was raised for reprieve on the grounds that it was a crime of passion. Ellis took no part in the campaign.  In a letter to Blakely’s parents she reportedly wrote. ‘I have always loved your son, and will die still loving him.’

If this was a fictional case would our sympathy lie with Ellis or Blakely? Blakely was said to be a violent man.  At the time there was intense public interest, not however over Ellis’s guilt but over the punishment she received.

When the motive is greed it is easier to sympathise with the victim. In the case of the Black Widows, two women, aged 71 and 75 conspired and murdered two men. The men were homeless, the women set them up in houses and when they were back on their feet persuaded them to take out large insurance policies naming the women as beneficiaries. Sometime later, the men were run over and killed. While this may sound like a good fictional plot it is in fact a true case.

Whatever the motive for the fictional crime story we can’t help but put on our judges hat as we sit down and devour our next novel.
Frozen Minds



When a man is found murdered at Bethesda House, a home for adults with learning difficulties, local people start to accuse the home's residents of being behind the killing. The victim was a manager at the home, and seemingly a respectable and well-liked family man. DI Winter Meadows knows there's more to the case than meets the eye. As he and his team investigate, Meadows discovers a culture of fear at the home - and some unscrupulous dealings going on between the staff. Does the answer to the case lie in the relationships between the staff and the residents - or is there something even more sinister afoot?
 
 
Frozen Minds is available to buy on Amazon
You can also follow Cheryl on Facebook
Cheryl Rees-Price's Website

 

 

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Kingmaker by Adrian Hyde





About Kingmaker


WEALTH. POWER. GLORY. REVENGE. When the world is against you, who do you trust?

April 1940. Norway has fallen under the Nazi Blitzkrieg. Only a small British force now stands between Hitler’s SS and the ultimate prize…

Lieutenant Harry King is in trouble again. Haunted by his past and consumed by alcohol, he is saved from his fate by a mysterious senior officer. When he is sent on a seemingly simple errand, he stumbles into a conspiracy that could change the course of the war. Dragged into a hair-raising world of murder, mystery and betrayal, King must choose between his duty, love and revenge. In a heart-pounding race across the frozen tundra, mountains and fjords, can he survive against the odds and uncover the traitor at the heart of his world?

Kingmaker is a heart-pounding mystery thriller, set against the rich background of World War 2 and is the first outing for reluctant antihero Lieutenant Harry King. Fans of historical thrillers by Robert Harris will love this book, as will readers of mainstream thrillers like Lee Child and Dan Brown.

My Review of Kingmaker

I rarely read historical novels, preferring to read modern day romances and gritty crime dramas. But one reason that I decided to start this blog was to broaden my reading tastes, and so once I had read the blurb about Kingmaker, I was eager to learn more and, so thought that I would give it a go... and I am so very glad that I did. 
 
Kingmaker is an exceptional debut novel from Adrian Hyde. It is well researched, well written and thoroughly unputdownable. I loved this book. At the very beginning we watch an overweigh banker and a lady of ill repute, as they mend their way slowly to their borrowed lodgings, knowing that something bad is going to happen. We know this fact as we are seeing the events through the eyes of Pederson, a character who we will soon slowly learn more about as the novel progresses. This opening to the novel is both shocking and entertaining, I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to find out what would happen next, and this set the pace for the entire story.
 
The beginning of the book draws you instantly into the world as it was during the Second World War. I became immersed in this world, it was so real to me. It was very obvious that the author had done his research and that the facts surrounding the World War 2 were used as the backbone to the story. This in turn made the story more raw and authentic. The antihero of the story is that of Lieutenant Harry King, and I adored this character because he is not your average hero. He has his many faults and has a vulnerability to him that makes you warm to him even more. I really did want to reach into the book, so that I could enter his world and sit and have a drink with him. 

This story has it all; murder, betrayal. villains, romance; which creates a whirlwind of a read. Although heavily dominated by men, there is the welcome addition of Anja, a solider and interpreter who joins Harry in his quest, although at first this is much to his annoyance. She is a strong and independent woman and she was certainly a force to be reckoned with and held her own against Harry and his team of men.

This novel is also full of twists and turns right up to the very last page. I was thoroughly entertained and I am really looking forward to finding out what the handsome and roguish Harry gets up to in his next adventure. 
 
Kingmaker can be found at Amazon UK and Amazon US.
Adrian's website can be found at https://adrianhydebooks.com/

About Adrian Hyde

Adrian Hyde is a thriller writer, historian and citizen of the world. He was born in the city of Derby, England in 1975, the son of an ex-soldier. He grew up on the doorstep of the beautiful Derbyshire Peak District, and his father’s military service and an interest in local history inspired him to write from an early age. 
 
Educated locally in Derby and Heanor, he studied Politics at the University of Reading, Berkshire. Adrian then had a successful career in sales, marketing and product management, mainly in heavy engineering and construction equipment companies, where he travelled extensively throughout the world. All this was to change when his wife was diagnosed with dementia, and Adrian became a full-time single parent and carer, however the experience spurred him on to return to writing full-time.

He still loves Derbyshire but now lives in neighbouring Leicestershire with his two children and Ben the Labrador.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Venture by Kate Rauner




An international crew ferries their commercial space station to an enigmatic anomaly in Mars' orbit. Here our solar system touches the Helios star system, a portal that was discovered decades ago and may be lost. Harry joined the mission to escape loneliness on Earth and to indulge his obsession for gardening in space. He finds relationships grow like gardens, though not always as expected. Along their journey, they mine a dangerous comet and visit the small colony on Mars. Tensions flare among the crew, threatening their mission. Things don’t go as planned and the crew must act to save their mission and their lives. A story combining adventure with life aboard a space station .

My Review of Venture

Venture is the sequel to the first book by Kate Rauner, Glitch, that we are given a snippet of in the book's prologue. I have not read Glitch, but for me, Venture worked very well as a stand alone novel. Hand on heart, I read very little science fiction, so I was a little nervous about reading Venture, not knowing if I would enjoy the story, or indeed understand it. But I did. I think that this was down to the author fully explaining the intricacies of Space travel and the mechanics of working is Space, of which I have absolutely no knowledge. What the author managed to do was to make the storyline very easy to follow, in that I knew why certain procedures needed to be done and what the 'living in Space' experience was like as a human far, far away from home.

Although this is a science fiction novel, for me the novel was based very firmly upon human relationships and emotions. One character in particular, Harry, really fascinated me and I found that I eagerly followed his story. He had been sent on the mission as the Life Support Specialist, meaning that his job was to attend to the gardens onboard, in order to maintain the crew's air and water supplies. So a vital job. We learn that back at home, Harry was a keen gardener, and that one of his reasons for taking part in the mission was to gain friends and to escape his lonely life back on Earth. I loved this character, who for me was plainly on the autistic spectrum. As a mother of a young son with autism, I could clearly read between he lines about tins highly intelligent and perceptive young man, who simply had problems reading faces and communicating with others. I followed him closely, waning the absolute best for him.
 
I cannot review the actual storyline without giving the plot away, but all I will say is that this book is fast paced with many twists and unexpected happenings. It is also an incredibly easy read because of the simplistic terminology that is used. As a reader, you fully understand the scientific processes and orders that are given, but are not overwhelmed with scientific jargon. This fine balancing act has been mastered beautifully.
 
For me, the real heart of this science fiction novel, is that of working as a team. We learn the importance of friendships, the boundaries of our understanding and ultimately the lesson of humility. Venture is a fantastic read, even if you are not a science fiction fan.

Venture can be bought from Amazon UK  here and Amazon US here



About Kate Rauner
 
 

Kate writes science fiction novels and science-inspired poetry, and serves as a volunteer firefighter. She's also a retired engineer and Cold War Warrior (honestly, that's what Congress called workers in the nuclear weapons complex of that era.) Now living on the edge of the southwest's Gila National Forest with my husband, cats, llamas, and dog, Kate says she is well on her way to achieving her life-goal of becoming an eccentric old woman.


Saturday, 5 November 2016

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden





The Bear and the Nightingale

A young woman's family is threatened by forces both real and fantastical in this debut novel inspired by Russian fairy tales.

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, a stranger with piercing blue eyes presents a new father with a gift - a precious jewel on a delicate chain, intended for his young daughter. Uncertain of its meaning, the father hides the gift away and his daughter, Vasya, grows up a wild, wilful girl, to the chagrin of her family. But when mysterious forces threaten the happiness of their village, Vasya discovers that, armed only with the necklace, she may be the only one who can keep the darkness at bay.

Atmospheric and enchanting, with an engrossing adventure at its core, The Bear and the Nightingale is perfect for readers of Naomi Novik's Uprooted, Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, and Neil Gaiman.


My review of The Bear and the Nightingale
  
I shall start this review by saying that this book is utterly beautiful, from the stunning cover right through to the final page. It is a magical fairy tale for adults. As someone who adores fairly tales, this was the perfect book for me. I found it to be pure escapism, and that while reading it, the outside world was forgotten, just for a little while.
 
The Bear and the Nightingale is set predominantly in a small Russian village named Rusin during the depths of Winter. At first we are introduced to the elderly servant and nanny of the Ivanova family, Dunya, who is reciting exciting fairy tales to the children of the family as they sit huddled around the large oven in the kitchen. She tells the fairy tale of Morozko, the Frost Demon, who is both kind and cruel. The children sat listening, enchanted, as was I, and I found this opening to be a beautiful setting for the book.  I will admit that I know very little about Russian literature and Russian fairy tales, and thought that this may impinge upon my enjoyment of the story, but this was not the case. So do not be put off, if like me, you have very little knowledge of the Russian literary world.

This book has a very slow build up, and indeed it is a book to be savoured slowly, it envelops you in a giant, warm hug. But the beginning introduces us to the Ivanova family, husband Pyotr and his wife, Marina. It is through reading these early chapters that we learn that Marina is expecting another child and that through ill health, the child will sadly be her last. She tells Pyotr that the baby girl she will have is very special. This little girl is Vasya, and the story revolves around her. It is a magical story that blends traditional Russian myths and folklore, with fantastical fairy tales, that surprisingly create a grounded and utterly believable story.

Vasya is a fascinating character, who as a child is wild and will not follow the rules. I loved her. She prefers to run in the forest and to climb trees. This is one of the many reasons that her father decides to remarry, so that his daughter will once again have a mother figure. This is the point in the story that we are introduced to Anna, the story's very own wicked stepmother. However, I actually empathised with her, as she was a girl when she was married, pretty much against her will, instead of living her preferred life in a convent.

Another character who also fascinated  me was the colourful character of the Priest, Konstantin, who is brought to the village in its time of need.  He is the one character that I should have loathed, but I did not; instead I was very drawn to him. He is most defiantly a man of self righteousness and self importance, but at times his vulnerability shone through.

I will be honest and say that this book is not an easy armchair read, it does take a little time to get used to the distinctive narrative style and the use of fantastical, mythical creatures that are dominant throughout, and which are pivotal to the story. But, you will soon embrace this magical world and find yourself never wanting to leave.

 
The Bear and the Nightingale is published by Random House UK, Ebury Publishing on January 12 2017. With thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for a review copy.

It is available for pre order from Amazon here

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Lily's House by Cassandra Parkin

                                                                                              
 
About Lily's House
 
When Jen goes to her grandmother's house for the last time, she's determined not to dwell on the past. As a child, Jen adored Lily and suspected she might be a witch; but the spell was broken long ago, and now her death means there won't be any reconciliation.

Lily's gone, but the enchantments she wove and the secrets she kept still remain. In Lily's house, Jen and her daughter Marianne reluctantly confront the secrets of the past and present - and discover how dangerous we become when we're trying to protect the ones we love.

                                                                                      
My Review of Lily's House

 
I was first attracted to Lily's House because of the subject matter, that of a granddaughter returning to her grandmother's house, following her death. From the book's blurb it is obvious that something happened between them, for Jen to not be able to say goodbye to her grandmother before her death, and this thought ate away at me. I needed to know what had happened between them and what their unique story was. Throughout the book we are told their story, and it is beautiful.

This is such a beautifully crafted book about the love between mother and daughter and, granddaughter and grandmother. The book is dominated by the strength of women and how women support each other during the lifespan.

We are firstly introduced to Jen and her daughter, Marianne, as they slowly make their way to Lily's House by train. The present day is intertwined with memories gone by of when Jen was a little girl and used to stay at Lily's house. This is the structure of the book, as the present day goings on are intermingled with flashbacks of how life used to be for Jen and the freedom that she felt at her gran's house. These chapters in the book brought a lump to my throat, as they reminded me of the times that I used to stay at my grandmother's house as a little girl, when my grandfather was still alive. The images of eating cake, playing in the garden, and the absolute freedom that I was given. All of my memories were brought to the surface, making Jen's feelings and emotions even more raw.

Throughout the book we are also observer's to text messages between Jen and her husband, Daniel. In fact this is the major way in which we learn about his character. This I thought, was a very clever narrative device. We are also able to read flashbacks of their time together from when they first met, which also helps to shed a light on their present day relationship.

Then we have the relationship between Jen and Marianne, the way in which they both care and support each other. Marianne is on the brink of adolescence and, it is time for Jen to learn to give her some independence and to allow her to become the young woman that she so desperately wants to be. The scenes between the two of them were so beautifully told. The dialogue flowed so easily and was just how a mother and daughter communicate with each other, with all of those unsaid inner most thoughts.

Lily's House is a story about a granddaughter and grandmother and the life that they shared. But it is also about the strength of women and the special bond that women have with each other. I adored this book, which is full of several twists and turns. I loved it. It is a very special book indeed.

With thanks to NetGalley and Legend Press for a review copy.

 

About the Cassandra Parkin

Cassandra Parkin grew up in Hull, and now lives in East Yorkshire. Her short story collection, New World Fairy Tales (Salt Publishing, 2011), won the 2011 Scott Prize for Short Stories. Her work has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies. Author of The Summer We All Ran Away (2013) and The Beach Hut (2015).

Lily's House is published by Legend Press and is available to buy from Amazon here