Book reviews, Contemporary fiction, Dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic, Science fiction

The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

From a Tang Dynasty legend of a young girl trained as an assassin with the ability to skip between dimensions on a secluded mountain sanctuary to a space colony called Nova Pacifica that reflects on a post-apocalyptic world of the American Empire and ‘Moonwalker’ Neil Armstrong, The Hidden Girl and Other Stories is laced with  depictions of silkpunk fantasy, Sci-Fi and old Chinese folklore, wrapped up in a mesmerising genre-bending collection of short stories.
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MY REVIEW 

This is a collection of short stories by Ken Liu with the theme of Science fiction. 

These are tales of alien invasion, of the singularity ( the digitisation of human consciousness – a bit like the film Chappie), survival after the singularity, climate disaster and post apocalypse survival. There are some lighter moments but not many.

This is not a light happy read but almost a warning of letting technology take over and leaving us in a digital dystopia. 

I have to admit a couple of stories did go right over my head, I really missed the point I think and was left a bit puzzled, but this in no way detracts from this rather marvellous, dark and thought provoking collection. 

Thank you to Amber at Midas PR for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and a free copy of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Ken Liu is an American author and the winner of the Nebula, Hugo, Locus, World Fantasy, Sidewise, and Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Awards. He emigrated to the US from China at age of 11 and graduated from Harvard with a degree in English Literature and Computer Science. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Ken worked as a software engineer, corporate lawyer, and litigation consultant. His work includes the epic fantasy series, The Dandelion Dynasty and his debut collection, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories. His short story Good Hunting was adapted for an episode for Netflix’s science fiction web series Love, Death and Robots. 

Book reviews, Science fiction

Chasing Solace by Karl Drinkwater – Book Review

 

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

The legendary Lost Ships exist, and they harbour nightmarish horrors. Opal knows. She barely survived her first encounter with one.

Despite escaping, she failed to find what she was looking for: her lost sister. Now Opal must board a second derelict Lost Ship to seek answers, and it’s even more monstrous, a sickening place of death and decay. To make things worse, the military government wants her, dead or alive. Considering their reputation, dead may be better.

To find her sister, Opal will risk everything: her life, her blood, her sanity. There’s always a price to pay. Armed with her wits, an experimental armoured suit, and an amazing AI companion, she might just stand a chance.

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MY REVIEW 

#2 in the Solace series by Karl Drinkwater. It can be read as a stand-alone, but I feel you are missing out if you haven’t read Lost Solace….

This starts with Opal and Athene (the AI on board the ship, previously called Clarissa, but she changed her own name to Athene…a warrior and wise) they are about to infiltrate a base on Exidris 3 to steal or fabricate supplies.

It seems relatively isolated, so while waiting for Athene to fabricate items, she has a nosy around the security feeds….what she finds is surgery being performed on people by robotic surgeons. These subjects are those who failed the purity tests and they find out that nobody leaves the facility…..Opal wants to save them…..Can she? 

When their mission is complete, they are finally on their journey to find the second Lost ship….still searching for Opal’s sister Clarissa.

They find the ship and Opal gets suited up and off she goes….and things get horrific.

The ship is a food production ship, they grow Chattel….animals for food, with less bone and more meat and something else is roaming the dark. When Opal finds something sticky and web like, my heart skipped at beat….not spiders!!!

No, not spiders exactly, but a mix of insect, arachnid and crustacean….a thing of nightmares..

There’s also an assassin. It’s never easy is it? Then she meets the Oracles!!

This is non-stop action, with a strong Ripley-esq female character and her relationship with the AI Athene, a real friendship and they rely on each other. Gruesome, fun and emotional too. Will Opal find Clarissa? Will she be what she expects? …..

Brilliantly immersive and entertaining. I can’t wait for #3 in the series.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and for the promotional materials. This is my honest, unbiased review.

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Book reviews, Murder mystery, Police procedural

M For Murder by Keri Beevis – Book Review

Welcome to the Publication Day Party for M For Murder by Keri Beevis.


PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Twenty-Six Letters. But only one Killer? 

In 1989 the Alphabet Killer, Professor Rodney Boone, murdered eight students. The victims, ‘A’ to ‘H’, were each found with their surname initial carved into their neck. Victim nine narrowly escaped and the murderer was left to burn to death.

Eight years later and rookie police officer, Rebecca Angell, is thrown headlong into assisting a murder investigation. A body is found floating in the sewer, bearing the initial ‘J’. The investigators are convinced they are dealing with a copycat killer, but Boone’s body was never recovered…

As Angell scrambles to uncover the truth, the body count continues to rise, and it soon becomes apparent that the killer is intent on completing the alphabet…

 

*** This book was previously published as Dead Letter Day ***

What everyone is saying about M for Murder:

“kept me gripped until the end”

“recommend to any fan of detective or crime fiction”

“Excellent storytelling, turns and twists and good mystery”

“Brilliant edge if your seat crime novel couldn’t put it down”

Keri Beevis is also the author of the bestselling psychological thrillers Dying to Tell and Deep Dark Secrets. M for Murder is a gripping crime thriller which will keep you guessing until the very end. It will appeal to fans of authors like Angela Marsons, Robert Bryndza and Patricia Gibney

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MY REVIEW 

Rodney Boone was a serial killer, known as the Alphabet Killer due to his habit of carving a letter into his victims skin. When one of his victims escaped he had been stabbed and the house set alight. He died in the fire and the killings stopped.

But now 8 years later, rookie cop, Rebecca Angell and her partner Vic, have found a body in the sewer with the letter J carved into his skin. Is this a copycat?

The FBI turn up to take over the investigation, and Rebecca and Vic are to help. She’s feisty and determined and takes no nonsense from anyone, but will this put her in danger? Can they catch the killer before anyone else dies?

With great characters, some likeable and some just downright creepy, this is a fast paced, twisty whodunnit and is completely unputdownable. 

Thank you to Bloodhound Books for the opportunity to take part in the publication day party,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest, unbiased review 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Keri Beevis wrote her first novel at age twenty, but it was a further twenty years before she was published after winning a contract in the Rethink Press New Novels Competition 2012.

Born in the village of Old Catton, less than a mile from where Anna Sewell was living when she wrote Black Beauty, Keri had a passion for reading and writing from a young age, though her tastes veered more to the macabre.

Today she still lives in Norwich, along with her two naughty kitties, Ellie and Lola, and a plentiful supply of red wine (her writing fuel), where she writes a comedic lifestyle column for a local magazine. She loves Hitchcock movies, exploring creepy places, and gets extremely competitive in local pub quizzes. She is also a self-confessed klutz.

Keri joined the Bloodhound team in 2019 and her first release with them, the psychological thriller, Dying To Tell, which is set in her beautiful home county of Norfolk, has been her biggest success to date, with over 1200 four and five star ratings on Goodreads.
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Her new novel, Deep Dark Secrets (which was previously published as The Darkness Beneath) was released in January 2020.

Find out more about Keri and her books at www.keribeevis.com or you can follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/allaboutbeev or Twitter at www.twitter.com/keribeevis

Book reviews, Non fiction

The Dark Side Of The Mind by Kerry Daynes – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Welcome to the world of the forensic psychologist, where the people you meet are wildly unpredictable and often frightening.

The job: to delve into the psyche of convicted men and women to try to understand what lies behind their often brutal actions.

Follow in the footsteps of Kerry Daynes, one of the most sought-after forensic psychologists in the business and consultant on major police investigations.

Kerry’s job has taken her to the cells of maximum-security prisons, police interview rooms, the wards of secure hospitals and the witness box of the court room.

Her work has helped solve a cold case, convict the guilty and prevent a vicious attack.

Spending every moment of your life staring into the darker side of life comes with a price. Kerry’s frank memoir gives an unforgettable insight into the personal and professional dangers in store for a female psychologist working with some of the most disturbing men and women.

 

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MY REVIEW 

This is both absolutely fascinating and totally terrifying in the same measure. Not only because of the terrible crimes that have been committed but also the way people are treated by the prison system too.

Kerry Daynes gives an honest account of her career as a forensic psychologist, her experiences with some of the most dangerous people, regrettably some of those worked for the prison service.

There are some individual case studies, some general observations and background information on what it is to be a forensic psychologist.

She also tells of her personal life, a relationship with a controlling partner, a harrowing experience of being stalked and the day to day misogyny she had to deal with, all the while being professional and showing real empathy for her clients. An incredible insight into the world of incarceration and mental health. 

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Kerry Daynes is a Consultant and Forensic Psychologist, speaker and media commentator. For over twenty years her average week has involved working with everything from stressed-out parents to serial killers and she is a sought-after court-appointed expert witness. Kerry regularly appears on international television networks and in the media; she was ‘The Profiler’ over three series of Discovery’s top-rated ‘Faking It’ documentaries. Kerry is Patron of the National Centre for Domestic Violence and Talking2Minds. She is an advocate for better conversations about mental distress and alternatives to the culture of psychological ‘disorder’. Kerry lives in Cheshire with two huge dogs and yes, she is a proud natural ginger.

 

http://www.kerrydaynes.online/

 

Twitter @KerryDaynes

 

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Paperback: 304 pages

  • Publisher: Endeavour; 01 edition (20 Feb. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1788402170
  • ISBN-13: 978-1788402170

 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Side-Mind-Forensic-Psychologist/dp/1788402170

 

Book reviews, Murder mystery

Revelation by Jo Fenton – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Revelation (A Becky White Thriller)

Manchester, 1989

A student, Rick, is found dead in halls of residence.

His friends get caught up in the aftermath: Dan, who was in love with Rick; and Becky, who is in love with Dan.

Their fraught emotions lead them into dark places – particularly a connection to a mysterious Kabbalistic sect.

Will Becky discover who killed Rick in time to save her best friend?
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MY REVIEW 

A student is found dead on a university campus. His friends Dan and Becky are shocked and grief stricken. Dan had loved Rick and Becky loves Dan so she plans on finding out who killed their friend to help ease the grief.

But Dan gets caught in a dangerous situation, so can Becky solve the murder and save her friend?

I’ve read a few of Jo Fenton’s books and they are always so well plotted and this is no exception. It deals with grief and how different people deal with it, it has a creepy sect and murder. All set in 1980’s Manchester, with young, bright and brave characters and a murder mystery to solve, all of which make this a thoroughly entertaining read.

Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

Purchase Links: 

 

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Revelation-Jo-Fenton-ebook/dp/B082KS9Y89/

 

US – https://www.amazon.com/Revelation-Jo-Fenton-ebook/dp/B082KS9Y89/

 

Author Bio

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Jo Fenton grew up in Hertfordshire. She devoured books from an early age, particularly enjoying adventure books, school stories and fantasy. She wanted to be a scientist from aged six after being given a wonderful book titled “Science Can Be Fun”. 

At eleven, she discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer, and now has an eclectic and much loved book collection cluttering her home office.

Jo combines an exciting career in Clinical Research with an equally exciting but very different career as a writer of psychological thrillers.

When not working, she runs (very slowly), and chats to lots of people. She lives in Manchester with her husband, two sons, a Corgi and a tankful of tropical fish. She is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and a reading group.

 

Social Media Links – 

 

Website http://www.jofenton137.com 

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jofentonauthor/

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jl_fenton

 

Book reviews

Bury Them Deep by James Oswald – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

The tenth book in the Sunday Times-bestselling Inspector McLean series, from one of Scotland’s most celebrated crime writers.

When a member of the Police Scotland team fails to clock-in for work, concern for her whereabouts is immediate… and the discovery of her burnt-out car in remote woodland to the south of Edinburgh sets off a desperate search for the missing woman.

Meanwhile, DCI Tony McLean and the team are preparing for a major anti-corruption operation – one which may raise the ire of more than a few powerful people in the city. 

Is Anya Reynolds’ disappearance a co-incidence or related to the case?

McLean’s investigations suggest that perhaps that Anya isn’t the first woman to have mysteriously vanished in these ancient hills. Once again, McLean can’t shake the feeling that there is a far greater evil at work here…

The truth far more chilling than a simple cold case… 

 

PRAISE FOR JAMES

 

‘The new Ian Rankin’ Daily Record ‘Oswald’s writing is a class above’ Daily Express

‘Crime fiction’s next big thing’ Sunday Telegraph

‘Oswald is among the leaders in the new batch of excellent Scottish crime writers’ Daily Mail

‘A superior crime series’ Crime Squad

  

    

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MY REVIEW 

#10 in the Inspector McLean series and it can be read as a stand-alone, but in my opinion you are missing out on a brilliant series. (I’ve read and listened to them all)…

In this, Anya, a civilian administrator for the police, has gone missing. Usually reliable and consistent this causes concern. So Detective Inspector Tony Mclean begins an investigation.

When Anya’s car is found burned out, things get more serious. As Mclean searches her home they find the quiet, sensible woman they know at work has a very different personal life.

There are rumours and stories of women disappearing in the same area over many years….are they true? Is something sinister roaming Gladhouse Woods?

Tony is contracted by Norman Bale, a man purporting to be his childhood friend, but also a murderer. What links him to these disappearances, if anything? 

Tony’s personal life is tense too, with Emma quiet and fragile after their recent tragedy and Mclean isn’t sure how to help or deal with the emotions.

This is a fantastic read, it’s dark, gruesome and twisty, with some supernatural elements (as always) and great characters. Grumpy Bob is a real favourite

 Mclean ends up in a dangerous situation, but will he be able to put an end to these disappearances once and for all?  Utterly compelling and I loved every tension filled minute. Can’t wait for book #11.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free ecopy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/37NxMzf

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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JAMES OSWALD is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling Inspector McLean series of detective mysteries, as well as the new DC Constance Fairchild series. James’s first two books, NATURAL CAUSES and THE BOOK OF SOULS, were both short-listed for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award. 

BURY THEM DEEP is the tenth book in the Inspector Mclean Series.

James farms Highland cows and Romney sheep by day, writes disturbing fiction by night.

 

Book reviews, Contemporary fiction, Japanese fiction, Murder mystery

The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Takes the classic elements of the crime genre with a twist, providing a multi-voiced insight into the psychology of contemporary Japan, with its rituals, pervasive envy and ever so polite hypocrisy. But it’s also about the nature of evil and the resonance and unreliability of memory.

On a stormy summer day in the 1970s the Aosawas, owners of a prominent local hospital, host a large birthday party in their villa on the Sea of Japan. The occasion turns into tragedy when 17 people die from cyanide in their drinks. The only surviving links to what might have happened are a cryptic verse that could be the killer’s, and the physician’s bewitching blind daughter, Hisako, the only family member spared death. 

The youth who emerges as the prime suspect commits suicide that October, effectively sealing his guilt while consigning his motives to mystery. Inspector Teru is convinced that Hisako had a role in the crime, as are many in the town, including the author of a bestselling book about the murders written a decade after the incident. 

The truth is revealed through a skillful juggling of testimony by different voices: family members, witnesses and neighbors, police investigators and of course the mesmerizing Hisako herself.

“This spine-chilling masterpiece will make you aware of the dark places in your own heart.” Hokkaido Shimbun

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MY REVIEW 

Set in Japan in the ‘70s, members of the respected Aosawa family celebrate three people of three generations birthday on the same day. They have a large party and when drinks arrive from a friend of Dr Aosawa they drink happily. But, 17 people then die, including children as the drink had been poisoned. Only one member of the family survived, a young blind girl, Hisako.

As the only survivor she is a suspect, but a young man then commits suicide claiming he was reaponsible for the deaths, he was doing as he had been asked. Why? And asked by who?

This is a unique tale with a style of writing that feels as though you are being spoken to, being asked questions. It makes you think and wonder. I mean, who wouldn’t want peace and quiet to sit and listen to the world around you?

Beautifully written and so descriptive of mood, inner thoughts and especially the weather. You can feel the humidity of summer and the rain. It’s an intense, intriguing ramble to solve a dark puzzle. Brilliantly different and I loved it.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/3c6ezMS

 

ABOUT The Author and the Translator

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Riku Onda, born in 1964, is the professional name of Nanae Kumagai. She has been writing fiction since 1991 and has won the Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers, the Japan Booksellers’ Award, the Mystery Writers of Japan Award for Best Novel for The Aosawa Murders, the Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize, and the Naoki Prize. Her work has been adapted for film and television. This is her first crime novel and the first time she is translated into English.

Alison Watts is an Australian-born Japanese to English translator and long time resident of Japan. She has translated Aya Goda’s TAO: On the Road and On the Run in Outlaw China (Portobello, 2007) and Durian Sukegawa’s Sweet Bean Paste (Oneworld Publications, 2017), and her translations of The Aosawa Murders and Spark (Pushkin Press, 2020) by Naoki Matayaoshi are forthcoming.

Audiobook, Book reviews, Psychlogical thriller

The Wreckage by Robin Morgan-Bentley – Audiobook Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Things will never be the same again…

Ben is driving on the motorway, on his usual commute to the school where he works.

A day like any other, except for Adam, who in a last despairing act jumps in front of Ben’s car, and in killing himself, turns the teacher’s world upside down.

Wracked with guilt and desperate to clear his conscience, Ben develops a friendship with Alice, Adam’s widow, and her 7-year-old son Max.

But as he tries to escape the trauma of the wreckage, could Ben go too far in trying to make amends?

Gripping and sinister, The Wreckage is guaranteed to keep you up all night…
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MY REVIEW

Ben is driving to work on the motorway when he sees a flash of white….he has hit a man.

Adam has deliberately jumped in front of Ben’s car.

While not Ben’s fault he is so guilt ridden he can barely function, but he decides to see Adam’s wife, Alice to say sorry.

Alice is a bit taken aback, but they become slightly uneasy friends and Ben becomes close to her son Max.  But, then Ben takes Max to give Alice some time alone, as he’s concerned about her drinking and if Max is safe.

This is the tale of three damaged people, each with their own problems. It deals with mental illness, obsession and domestic abuse.

I didn’t find any of the characters likeable at all, Adam was controlling, Alice is rude, selfish and just nasty and Ben….well Ben, I’m really not sure about Ben ! But, due to Robin Morgan-Bentley’s incredible writing, you become so gripped by their story.  Beautifully read by Emilia Fox, Jack Hawkins and Kobna Holbrook-Smith. Their fantastic performances really brought this to life and made it so compelling, you really become involved and just have to know how this is going to turn out for each of the characters. The final few sentences made me feel a little uneasy I have to say……I thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

Thank you to Alex at Orion Books for the opportunity to participate in this Audio Book blog tour, for the promotional materials and a free copy of the AudioBook.  This is my honest, unbiased review. 

Book reviews

The Beekeeper Of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

In the midst of war, he found love

In the midst of darkness, he found courage

In the midst of tragedy, he found hope

Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo – until the unthinkable happens.

When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.

As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all – and perhaps this is the hardest thing they face – they must journey to find each other again.

 

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MY REVIEW

What a hauntingly beautiful story. 

It’s the tale of Nuri, Afra and their son, Sammi who live in the city of Aleppo in Syria

The horrendous war breaks out and when a young man dies, they are encouraged to leave Aleppo and travel to England. Afra won’t leave, as this is her home, but tragedy strikes when a bomb drops close to their home.

This is their story of their journey from a devastated home to England…heartbreaking and harrowing, but also a story of love and hope. This will stay with me for a long time.

Thank you to Tracy and Compulsive Readers for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour.  This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/2V3qS6s

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brought up in London, Christy Lefteri is the child of Cypriot refugees. She is a lecturer in creative writing at Brunel University. The Beekeeper of Aleppo was born out of her time working as a volunteer at a Unicef supported refugee centre in Athens, and draws on her own personal experiences getting to know those escaping harrowing war torn regions. Everything in the book; dark or beautiful has come directly from people she has met. 

 

Book reviews, Fantasy

The Goblets Immortal by Beth Overmyer – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

In a land where magic’s feared, a magical kind exists: the Blest, products of the Goblets Immortal and Aidan’s one of them and on the run. Whispers of a new fear take shape in Meraude, a mage who hates all magic-kind. When she appears in Aidan’s dreams offering a bargain for the return of his family, he needs to make the most difficult decision.

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MY REVIEW 

This is a tale of magic and fantasy. Aiden has a talent for making things disappear and reappear, including himself. When a friend betrays him he uses this to escape. He meets a gang of Roma, who try to poison him but in recompense he is given a goblet. He then is drawn to four Elves, who want the goblet in exchange for their ‘slave’, Slàine.

But, he decides to leave taking Slàine with him and he ends up having to throw the goblet to the Elves to escape.

Aiden begins to have dreams where an evil mage, Meraude wants him to recover all of the Goblets Immortal and she will return his family to him. Can this mage be trusted? 

There’s a fight with Goblins, capture by Nymphs and a mage in his dreams, all of which want the goblets…

I feel this will become an epic fantasy and this is just the beginning. With great, likeable characters in Aiden and Slàine and fantastic world building I’m totally hooked and can’t wait for the next book.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/2SHRjgc

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Beth Overmyer has authored several books—In a Pickle, a middle grade novella, and Circus in a Shot Glass, a women’s fiction novel, being among them. She’s in love with the fantasy genre, mysteries—especially when there’s tea and/or a quirky sleuth involved—, and wouldn’t say no to readingand writing in every genre but hardcore horror and erotica. Influencers to her writing include J.R.R. Tolkien and Brandon Sanderson, though Douglas Adams may be lurking in there somewhere.

Love of writing and reading has led to her leading a creative writing group at her local public library, where she once was a pupil. But she doesn’t see herself as a teacher: she’s more of a facilitator and encourager when needed. Every other week during the school year, they meet and perform various writing exercises, which each individual’s encouraged to then share.

When she’s not writing, reading, editing, drinking tea, or facilitating creative writing meetings, Beth enjoys hanging out with her writing pals for fellowship, brainstorming, and great company. You can visit Beth’s website at http://bethovermyer.com.

 

FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched recently in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.

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Book reviews, Contemporary fiction, Mental Health

Four Minutes To Save A Life by Anna Stuart – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

There’s always time to help out a stranger…isn’t there?

Supermarket delivery driver Charlie enjoys his new job, because he doesn’t have to spend too long with people, who, he’s found, are nothing but trouble. But when he’s assigned the Hope Row street, he realises there are a lot of lonely people out there – and for some, he’s their only interaction.

The supermarket boss tells Charlie he’s a driver, not a social worker – but Charlie can’t abandon the Hope Row residents and he sets about trying to draw them out of their shells and back into the world. But will his helping hand make everything worse?

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MY REVIEW 

Oh my heart…..I love this book.

Charlie starts his new job as a supermarket delivery driver and on his first round, he recognises a name. Someone from his past and it’s time for him to make amends.

On his round he meets, Ruth a borderline alcoholic who is grieving a marriage breakup and misses her daughter. Greg, disabled by a horrific accident  is an online inspiration but also lonely and Vikram, mourning the death of his wife, estranged from his son but cooks meals every Friday, hoping if he keeps cooking he will come.

Charlie has his secrets, but he is such a lovely soul, he manages to introduce these lonely people to each other and things start to brighten until secrets come to light…

I can’t say too much for fear of spoiling this truly emotional tale but it is a real tearjerker in so many ways. It’s also very timely as it deals with depression, loneliness, grief and guilt and how small acts of kindness can make such a huge difference to people. 

I fell in love with all the characters, Vik’s cooking sounded absolutely delicious and the friendships so heartwarming. If you need a little warm hug of a read then this is just perfect, but have some tissues to hand as there will be tears. 

Thank you to Tracy and Compulsive Readers for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here : https://amzn.to/2SVoYlF

 

 

About the Author:

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Anna Stuart has wanted to be a writer ever since she sat up in her cot with a book. For years she wrote short stories and serials for the women’s magazines before being published by Pan Macmillan as a historical novelist under the pseudonym Joanna Courtney. Her Queens of the Conquest series, set in the pre-1066 years, has been published to acclaim in all formats including audiobook and been translated for European markets but she returned to the contemporary world with Bonnie & Stan in 2019. Four Minutes to Save a Life is her second novel under the Anna Stuart name.

Book reviews, Historical fiction

The Foundling by Stacey Halls – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A mother’s love knows no bounds. . .

London, 1754. Six years after leaving her newborn, Clara, at London’t Foundling Hospital, young Bess Bright returns to reclaim the illegitimate daughter she has never really known. Dreading the worst – that Clara has died in care – the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why.

Les than a mile from Bess’ lodgings in a quiet town house, a wealthy widow barely ventures outside. When her close friend – an ambitious doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her young daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her – and will soon tear her carefully constructed world apart.

Set against the vibrant backdrop of Georgian London, ‘THE LOST ORPHAN’ explores families and secrets, class and power, and how the pull of motherhood cuts across them all.

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MY REVIEW 

Bess gives birth to her daughter, Clara, but as an unmarried woman from a poor background she makes the heartbreaking decision to leave her baby at the Foundling Hospital. She intends to collect her once her situation improves…..hopefully.

It takes Bess 6 years, but she has finally saved enough money to be able to collect Clara. However, when she arrives she is told the baby had been collected by its mother the day after she had been left there.

Utterly distraught, Bess can not understand who would have taken her baby and why…

Will Bess ever see her daughter again?

Well, what can I say? This is beautifully written historical fiction at its finest. It tells of the differences in social status, the huge gap between the wealthy and the poor and the challenges they face on a daily basis. It also tells of motherhood and just how far a mother will go for her child.

Both heartbreaking and heartwarming.

If you love historical fiction with an emotional heart, you’ll adore this.

Thank you to Tracy and Compulsive Readers for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest, unbiased review.

Thank you also to Pigeonhole for the brilliant, interactive daily staves and the ability to participate with other readers.

You can buy a copy here : https://amzn.to/3bJJU7B

Book reviews, Gothic horror, Horror, Supernatural

The Garden Of Bewitchment by Catherine Cavendish – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

From the author of The Haunting of Henderson Close praised by Booklist, The British Fantasy Society, Ladies of Horror Fiction and many more!

In 1893, Evelyn and Claire leave their home in a Yorkshire town for life in a rural retreat on their beloved moors. But when a strange toy garden mysteriously appears, a chain of increasingly terrifying events is unleashed. The Garden of Bewitchment is all too real and something is threatening the lives and sanity of the women.

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MY REVIEW 

Evelyn and Claire are twins, the death of their father left them wealthy women. Something frowned upon by society and the neighbours, as two unmarried women in their 30’s is scandalous in 1893.

So, they decide to move to a small cottage near Haworth, on the Yorkshire moors. Close to their beloved Brontë family home. Claire is particularly obsessed by Branwell Brontë as she feels him close to her and has conversations with him…he talks to her.

Soon after they’ve settled in, Evelyn meets Matthew, a visitor to the area and they soon become friends. He tells her a tale of a game he found as a child, The Garden Of Bewitchment. This board game had a miniature house, trees and items to make a perfect little garden, but something evil tried to escape, so Matthew ran away and left the game in an attic never to be seen again.

Claire, then finds the game mysteriously appear in her bedroom and things get dark…….

This is a gothic, supernatural tale with a really creepy feel. Just what is trying to trap people in its game world?  A game of Jumanji from the imagination of Poe or Lovecraft. A brilliantly written, atmospheric and goosebumpy read. You’ll never look at a doll’s house in the same way again! Creepy stuff.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here:  https://amzn.to/2UUE7q5

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Cat first started writing when someone thrust a pencil into her hand. Unfortunately as she could neither read nor write properly at the time, none of her stories actually made much sense. However as she grew up, they gradually began to take form and, at the tender age of nine or ten, she sold her dolls’ house, and various other toys to buy her first typewriter – an Empire Smith Corona. She hasn’t stopped bashing away at the keys ever since, although her keyboard of choice now belongs to her laptop.

The need to earn a living led to a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance but Cat is now the full-time author of a number of supernatural, ghostly, haunted house and Gothic horror novels and novellas, including The Haunting of Henderson Close, the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy –Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients, Damned by the Ancients – The Devil’s Serenade, Dark Avenging Angel, The Pendle Curse, Saving Grace Devine and Linden Manor.

She lives north of Liverpool with her longsuffering husband and black cat.

 

FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched recently in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.

 

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Book reviews, LGBTQ, Science fiction

The Blood-Dimmed Tide by Michael R. Johnston – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

The sequel to The Widening Gyre, praised by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal and more!

Tajen’s mission to seek aid from the Kelvaki Assembly is cut short when the Zhen invade Earth. Now he, Liam, and Kiri must return to Earth and liberate the colony from brutal occupation. When Tajen learns the Zhen plan to destroy a human fleet amassing in preparation to help Earth, he and his crew must escape the planet once more and warn them.

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MY REVIEW 

A sequel to The Widening Gyre. It can be read as a stand-alone but I feel you are missing out on a great beginning to this series.

Tajen has just married Liam, when an alert sounds. Ships have entered Earth’s atmosphere. One of these ships deliberately crashes into the shipyard and so Tajen and his new husband are back in action.

Due to the Zhen’s constant attacks, Earth’s fleet are in trouble and so Tejen, Liam and a crew head to the Kelvaki to ask for help.

But while they are away, the Zhen take the opportunity to attack again…..they want the planet back and to rid the universe of humans altogether.

Can Tajen raise enough of a resistance to take back control of Earth again.???? And are the Tabrans friend or foe?

This is a full on, action packed space opera, with a great range of characters and fantastic world building.  Roll on Book 3….

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and an ARC of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can preorder a copy here: https://amzn.to/2OYbMLQ

(Out on 20 February)

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Born in the San Francisco Bay Area and raised in Napa, California, Michael R. Johnston grew up steeped in everything Science Fiction and Fantasy.

In the early 90s, he took a “break” from college that went from being one semester to ten years. In that time, he had several jobs, from serving subpoenas to making sandwiches, before he became the Data Processing Manager of a small research company.

Eventually he decided he’d had enough of the corporate world and returned to college, graduating with honors from California State University, Sacramento. In fall 2006, he became a high school English teacher, a job he likens to herding a swarm of angry bees. It’s the best job he’s ever had.

Michael currently lives in Sacramento, California, with his wife and daughter. When he’s not writing or teaching, he spends time with his family, plays video games and tabletop RPGs, and reads. He blogs at MJohnstonBooks.com, and can be found on Twitter as @MREJohnston

 

FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched recently in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.

 

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Book reviews, Police procedural

Little Doubt by Rachel Lynch – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Some places make their own laws…

When Ella Watson, a woman of wealth and status, is brutally stabbed to death in broad daylight it sends a shockwave through the Lake District community. Later that day, Keira Bradley meets the same fate. But whereas Ella’s murder is a tragedy, Keira’s death on the notorious Beacon Estate is just another statistic in a dangerous place.

DI Kelly Porter has the unenviable job of running simultaneous investigations. Her efforts aren’t helped by a boss driven by protecting his reputation and a housing estate where fear rules and no one dare speak out. Kelly knows the answers can only be found by winning the trust of the residents at Beacon Estate. A task so hard it may be impossible.

Kelly puts everything she has into finding justice for both victims. The only thing she hadn’t anticipated was a traitor in the ranks. When the evidence points to someone in her team, Kelly has to put feelings aside and work the case – no matter where it leads. By the time it is over, nothing in her world will ever be the same…

A dark and gripping police procedural for fans of Patricia Gibney and D. S. Hood.

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MY REVIEW 

#7 in the DI Kelly Porter series by Rachel Lynch, but can also be read as a stand-alone.

This starts with the murder of Ella, a wealthy, middle-class woman, while out for a run.

Then a young woman, from a very different background is stabbed to death on a nearby rundown estate.

Are these two deaths related?

DI Kelly Porter begins her investigation, treating each case with the same determination to find the killers and the truth. Her boss, the truly reprehensible Superintendent Ormond knew Ella and begins interfering with Kelly’s investigation. He wants a quick result, but at what cost?

Kelly is concerned with his methods and feels there is something else going on….just who can she trust?

So well plotted, this is so topical too, with the current prevalence of knife crime it feels very close to home. Kelly is a great character, with her determination and lighter moments with family make her well rounded.

There’s also police corruption, secrets and of course murder in this gripping and tense police procedural. Another great read from Rachel Lynch and I’m already looking forward to Book #8.

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this ARC for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

You can preorder a copy here : https://amzn.to/2SQHICG

(Available from 5 March)

 

Audiobook, Book reviews, Thriller

Never Look Back by A.L Gaylin – Audiobook Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB
 

A new novel from award-winning crime writer, A. L. Gaylin. If you liked Serial and S-Town, you’ll LOVE this.

‘Right now, A L Gaylin is at the very top of her game, crafting exhilarating and audacious crime novels that are both rich in character and rivetingly told. Her books are, quite simply, not to be missed.’ – Megan Abbott

She was the most brutal killer of our time. And she may have been my mother…

When website columnist Robin Diamond is contacted by true crime podcast producer Quentin Garrison, she assumes it’s a business matter. It’s not. Quentin’s podcast, Closure, focuses on a series of murders in the 1970s, committed by teen couple April Cooper and Gabriel LeRoy. It seems that Quentin has reason to believe Robin’s own mother may be intimately connected with the killings.

Robin thinks Quentin’s claim is absurd. But is it? The more she researches the Cooper/LeRoy murders herself, the more disturbed she becomes by what she finds. Living just a few blocks from her, Robin’s beloved parents are the one absolute she’s always been able to rely upon, especially now amid rising doubts about her husband and frequent threats from internet trolls. Robin knows her mother better than anyone. 

But then her parents are brutally attacked, and Robin realises she doesn’t know the truth at all..
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MY REVIEW 

This tale revolves around an infamous murder case, The Inland Empire Killers, April Cooper and Gabriel Leroy.

They had been on a killing spree in the ‘70s and had died in a fire, bring the horrific crimes to an end.

Quentin Garrison works on a podcast reviewing cold cases and is looking into the Inland Empire Killers case. When he finds a new lead in the case things get dark.

This is so well plotted it really keeps you guessing. As you find how the characters are linked to the original case the tension really builds. 

The excellent narration by James Fouhey and Jorjeana Marie really brings the story to life and I thought their voices perfectly matched the characters and added to the tension.

An edge of your seat thriller and thoroughly entertaining.

Thank you to Tracy and Compulsive Readers for the opportunity to participate in this audio book blog tour, for the promotional materials and a free copy of the audiobook .  This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Alison Gaylin is the award-winning author of Hide Your Eyes and its sequel, You Kill Me; the standalones Trashed, Heartless, What Remains Of Me and If I Die Tonight; and the Brenna Spector series: And She Was, Into the Dark, and Stay with Me. A graduate of Northwestern University and of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, she lives with her husband and daughter in Woodstock, New York. 

Book reviews, Womens fiction

The Inland Sea by Madeleine Watts – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

In the early 19th century, British explorer John Oxley traversed the then-unknown wilderness of central Australia in search of water. Oxley never found it, but he never ceased to believe it was out there. The myth of the inland sea was taken up by other men, and over the years search parties walked out into the desert, dying as they tried to find it.

Two centuries later, his great-great-great-great granddaughter (and our narrator) spends a final year in Sydney reeling from her own self-destructive obsessions. She’s working part-time as an emergency dispatch operator, drinking heavily, sleeping with strangers, wandering Sydney’s streets late at night, and navigating an affair with an ex-lover. Reckless and adrift, she prepares to leave.

Written with down-to-earth lucidity and ethereal breeziness, this is an unforgettable debut about coming of age in a world that seems increasingly hostile. Watts explores feminine fear, apathy and danger, building to a tightly controlled bushfire of ecological and personal crisis.
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MY REVIEW 

Set in Australia, the narrator has just finished university and gets a job in an emergency dispatch call centre. Where she has drifted along in her safe little world, she starts to feel there is danger around every corner. 

She meets an ex, Lachlan and wonders what if? What could be?

This is a tale of love, loss, loneliness and the daily fear of things beyond our control. 

It is a beautifully written, almost poetic tale of a young woman and her coming of age, her realisation that the world is slowly falling apart. From climate change, Bush fires, personal drama and an overall feeling of disquiet. 

I found this to be a gentle read, dreamy but with this feeling of unease too. Brilliant, thought provoking, slightly melancholy and really gently captivating. 

Thank you to Poppy Stimpson at Pushkin Press for the opportunity to read The Inland Sea for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

You can preorder a copy here (out on 5 March) : https://amzn.to/2SjgMN2 

Book reviews, Crime thriller, Noir

Raging by Stephen Scarcliffe – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A bloody turf war is erupting between the shellsuit gangsters and the Donaldsons, while the family outcasts look to take advantage of the disorder on the streets…

Who torched Dougie Donaldson’s taxi? 

Why are the bodies piling up in the high rises? 

Why is a scorned figure from the past poking his nose into everyone’s business?

As things escalate, Billy Wright is forced to question who is plotting against him as he is dragged even deeper into the world he is trying to escape. George Donaldson is sucked into a bitter feud with childhood pals that forces him to answer serious doubts around his loyalties and Sean Donaldson schemes to shift the balance of power in Muirhouse, hellbent on revenge against the uncle who has frozen him out of the family drug business.

Will Billy fulfil the promise he made to girlfriend Lyndsay and leave the life of crime behind as fatherhood approaches? Can George successfully defend his old man’s territory in the face of mounting adversity? Is there any line Sean won’t cross in his quest for supremacy?
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MY REVIEW 

Wow what a read…..

#2 in the Chemical Estates Series but I feel it can easily be read as a stand-alone.

Set in 90’s Edinburgh, this is the tale of violence.

Drug gangs are vying for control.

Billy is trying to change his life as he is soon to be a father, but someone is setting him up. So, he needs to get this sorted before it gets out of hand.

Well suffice to say things get messy.

Written just as people speak, so it can take a little while to get used to, but I felt it really added to the reality. The characters are well developed and not one of them has any redeeming traits, they all want power at any cost. Reputation is king. 

A fast paced Dark, violent, brutal, gritty and so thoroughly engrossing.

Thank you to Damppebbles Blog Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest, unbiased review. 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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Growing up around the north of Edinburgh where the Chemical Estate book series is set lends first-hand experience and authenticity to both the story and its characters. 

Around 14 years ago, and 4 pints (or more) down, I bumped into a certain Irvine Welsh in a pub in Edinburgh city centre. After giving him a copy of a short story I had written, I received a really encouraging email that spurred me on to write a novel. The process was extended somewhat by spending 10 years as the singer-songwriter for Edinburgh Alt-rock band The Number 9s, before opting to turn my main focus to writing. Two books in now with number 3 in development I hope to continue for many years to come. 

You can keep up to date with details of new releases and plenty more by signing up for my mailing list at http://www.stephenscarcliffe.co.uk. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.   

 

 

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/StephenScarc  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stephen.scarcliffe/

Website: http://www.stephenscarcliffe.co.uk 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/stephenscarcliffe_writer

 

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK:

Digital https://www.amazon.co.uk/Raging-Stephen-Scarcliffe-Chemical-Estate-ebook/dp/B081ZG3NQX/ref=sr_1_2?crid=MJZ1A4FSXQZV&keywords=raging+stephen+scarcliffe&qid=1580733343&sprefix=raging+ste%2Cdigital-text%2C145&sr=8-2

Paperback https://www.amazon.co.uk/Raging-Stephen-Scarcliffe-Chemical-Estate/dp/1711748803/ref=sr_1_3?crid=MJZ1A4FSXQZV&keywords=raging+stephen+scarcliffe&qid=1580733375&sprefix=raging+ste%2Cdigital-text%2C145&sr=8-3

Amazon US:

Digital https://www.amazon.com/Raging-Stephen-Scarcliffe-Chemical-Estate-ebook/dp/B081ZG3NQX/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=raging+stephen+scarcliffe&qid=1580733406&sr=8-1

Paperback https://www.amazon.com/Raging-Stephen-Scarcliffe-Chemical-Estate/dp/1711748803/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=raging+stephen+scarcliffe&qid=1580733425&sr=8-2

08C12C49-176D-4799-8125-45DB376D9C2F 

 

Book reviews, Crime thriller, Nordic noir, Psychlogical thriller

Death Deserved by Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Oslo, 2018. Former long-distance runner Sonja Nordstrøm never shows at the launch of her controversial autobiography, Always Number One. 

When celebrity blogger Emma Ramm visits Nordstrøm’s home later that day, she finds the door unlocked and signs of a struggle inside. A bib with the number ‘one’ has been pinned to the TV.

Police officer Alexander Blix is appointed to head up the missing- persons investigation, but he still bears the emotional scars of a hostage situation nineteen years earlier, when he killed the father of a five-year-old girl. 

Traces of Nordstrøm soon show up at different locations, but the appearance of the clues appear to be carefully calculated … evidence of a bigger picture that he’s just not seeing…

Blix and Ramm soon join forces, determined to find and stop a merciless killer with a flair for the dramatic, and thirst for attention.

Trouble is, he’s just got his first taste of it…
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MY REVIEW 

Alexander Blix is an experienced police officer in Norway. He had been involved in a shooting 19 years before that still troubles him daily. 

When Emma Ramm, a journalist reports a missing person, the investigation begins.

Sonja Nordstrøm, a celebrity athlete and author of an explosive autobiography has disappeared….

But, more bodies start to be found, each with clues that link the victims in some way…leading them to believe there is more to come.

Emma and Blix are also linked by an event in their pasts, Blix feels an obligation to Emma and passes her information relating to the case for her to post her online news reports. But is this putting her in danger?

What follows in an incredible, gripping Nordic Noir thriller, with great likeable characters in Blix and Ramm. Full of emotion, fear and nail biting suspense in a race against time to catch a serial killer before he can complete his plan. I’m already waiting for the next in the series. Brilliantly dark and utterly compelling.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can preorder a copy here (released on 20 Feb) :   https://amzn.to/2SFbvyq

 

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

 

Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger are the internationally bestselling Norwegian authors of the William Wisting and Henning Juul series respectively. Jørn Lier Horst first rose to literary fame with his No. 1 internationally bestselling William Wisting series. A former investigator in the Norwegian police, Horst imbues all his works with an unparalleled realism and suspense. Thomas Enger is the journalist-turned-author behind the internationally acclaimed and bestselling Henning Juul series. Enger’s trademark has become a darkly gritty voice paired with key social messages and tight plotting. Besides writing fiction for both adults and young adults, Enger also works as a music composer. Death Deserved is Jørn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger’s first co-written thriller.