5*, book review, debut author

#BookReview Home by Amanda Berriman. @DoubledayUK @MandyBerriman @jounwin @TransworldBooks @bookreview

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Home by Amanda Berriman.

My Review:

When I read the blurb for Home I knew that I wanted to read it, I then started to hear from others who had read it and they all seemed to love it so I was even more determined to read it. And I’m so pleased that I did.

From literally the very first page I was hooked. The book is narrated by Jesika, a four year old who lives with her Mummy and little brother Toby after her Father moved to Poland, never to be heard from again. Jesika’s Mum is struggling with life, she doesn’t have enough money and they live in a flat that’s got many things wrong with it, including mold. As a result Toby and their Mum both have a bad cough that won’t go away. Life is about to get very difficult for Jesika.

A book narrated by such a young child could easily be awful but thankfully that is not the case here, not even close. It is written in a simple language but I really liked that. From the very start Jesika worked her way into my heart, she was such a wonderful little girl who felt so very real. Her innocence was wonderful and I loved seeing her world through her eyes, but this isn’t always an easy book to read.

Home gives a brilliant example of how grooming happens, the subtleties and ways in which an adult will convince a child to keep secrets for them. While it is not easy to read I thought that Amanda Berriman handled it sensitively and realistically, something that is impressive for any author, let along a debut author. But some will find this very difficult to read so be warned.

But despite this darkness, there is much light in the book. The love that Jesika has for her Mother is wonderful, but also for her little brother Toby. Jesika really is a special little girl who unknowingly brings out the best in people.

Home had me going to bed early so that I could read and check in on Jesika because I’d be worried about her and how she was doing, that is how real that she felt to me. When I finished the book at 2am I felt as though my heart had been shattered by little Jesika and what she went through, but filled with hope that her life was going to get better. The most upsetting thing? That I won’t get to check in on Jesika again and see how she is doing. Home really is a special book and for a debut author it is nothing short of brilliant.

Blurb:

Jesika is four and a half.

She lives in a flat with her mother and baby brother and she knows a lot. She knows their flat is high up and the stairs are smelly. She knows she shouldn’t draw on the peeling wallpaper or touch the broken window. And she knows she loves her mummy and baby brother Toby.

She does not know that their landlord is threatening to evict them and that Toby’s cough is going to get much worse. Or that Paige, her new best friend, has a secret that will explode their world.

About the Author:

Berriman-Mandy-Author-Pic-640x707Mandy was born in a British military hospital in Germany and grew up in Edinburgh, reading books, playing music, writing stories and climbing hills. She studied music at Sheffield University, where she met her husband, and they climbed some more hills in the Peak District before setting off to travel around the world. After learning to teach in Glasgow, she taught in a primary school in the Cambridgeshire fens (not very hilly), where she rediscovered the joy of making up stories and started writing again. She’s now a specialist music teacher at a primary school in Oldham and lives on the edge of the Peak District with her husband, two lego masterbuilders and dog.

Home by Amanda Berriman is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

5*, blog tours, book review, parenting

#BlogTour We Own The Sky by Luke Allnutt @lukeallnutt @orionbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #WeOwnTheSky

Blog tour FINALv3

My Review:

Now and then a book comes along that finds a place right deep inside you, perhaps the characters touch you or the storyline, possibly having something in common with your real life, gets inside you. We Own The Sky is one of those books.

It is beautifully written and I just loved how simple it is, there is no dramatics and it is just the story of a man whose life falls apart and how he slowly starts to put it back together again. This book ought to come with a warning because it is sad and most of those that I know who have been lucky enough to read this wonderful book prior to publication have talked about how they cried, it is not a book to read in public if you’re that way inclined. I appear to be somewhat heartless.

A book like this is never going to be an easy read and some people will find the subject matter offputting for various reasons, but it really is beautiful and the author has done an incredibly impressive job of telling us about Rob and his inner thoughts and feelings. I’ll miss him and while I, of course, know that Rob isn’t real, I hope that his life gets better.

Thank you so much to Tracy Fenton of THE Book Club on Facebook and Orion for a copy of We Own The Sky. I was under no obligation to review and all thoughts are my own.

Blurb:

35956629A story about love, loss and finding hope-against all odds.

Rob Coates can’t believe his luck. There is Anna, his incredible wife, and most precious of all, Jack, their son, who makes every day an extraordinary adventure. Rob feels like he’s won the lottery of life. Or rather-he did. Until the day it all changes when Anna becomes convinced there is something wrong with Jack.

Now Rob sleepwalks through his days, unable to bridge the gulf that separates him from his wife, his son and the business of living. But he’s determined to come to terms with what’s happened-and find a way back to life, and forgiveness.

We Own the Sky will resonate with anyone who has ever suffered loss or experienced great love. Luke Allnutt shows that the journey from hope to despair and back is never as simple as we think, and that even the most thoroughly broken heart can learn to beat again.

About The Author:

Luke_ALLNUTT-385x615I’m a writer and journalist based in Prague.

My debut novel, We Own The Sky, will be published by Orion (U.K.) and Harlequin/HarperCollins (U.S.) in 2018.

The publication rights have been sold in 30 countries around the world.

I’m also the author of Unspoken, a Kindle Single about the death of my father.

Originally from the U.K., I’ve  lived and worked in Prague since 1998.

We Own The Sky by Luke Allnutt is released on 8th February 2018 and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

5*, blog tours, book review

#BlogTour The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardottir @HodderPublicity @YrsaSig

Blog Tour

I’ve previously posted my review for The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardottir back in April last year but when I was asked whether I wanted to be part of the blog tour for the paperback release I just couldn’t say no. Afterall, I think that this book still wins my award for most creative murder!

My Review:

This is the first book that I’ve read that could be classed Scandi Noir. I know that I’m a bit late to the party with this but better late than never is definitely the case!

I heard the author of The Legacy talking about her latest book on the radio, she read an exert from this book and I did not want her to stop, I wanted to know what happened next so I read it as soon as I could.

What I hadn’t realised was quite how long this book was. At 464 pages this is not a short book, and as a slow reader, it’s quite a commitment for me to read and it took me a week to read. However, often when I read a long book I get almost resentful of the book and the amount of time that it is taking for me to read, I have so many other books waiting! But that did not happen with The Legacy, although aware that it was loooong I never felt that it should hurry up or get to the point, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it from start to finish.

While the language was a little different and perhaps slightly simplistic due to the translation from Icelandic to English, I actually quite liked it, it made the book easy to read and a little bit different.

I really liked the main characters in the book, Hulder, the main detective was great and I look forward to getting to know him better in future books in the series, and the same with Freyja who works in The Children’s House, so is involved with a young girl who witnessed her mother being murdered but understandably does not want to talk about what she saw.

The deaths in The Legacy were really quite gruesome but the author skillfully avoided giving us too much detail and let us imagine what happened to the victim, something that I was very grateful for.

I am definitely converted and will be reading more from this author, and hopefully other Icelandic crime authors.

Blurb:

9781473621558The first in an exciting new series from the author of THE SILENCE OF THE SEA, winner of the 2015 Petrona Award for best Scandinavian Crime Novel.

The murder was meant as a punishment – but what sin could justify the method?

The only person who might have answers is the victim’s seven-year-old daughter, found hiding in the room where her mother died. And she’s not talking.

Newly promoted, out of his depth, detective Huldar turns to Freyja and the Children’s House for their expertise with traumatised young people. Freyja, who distrusts the police in general and Huldar in particular, isn’t best pleased. But she’s determined to keep little Margret safe.

It may prove tricky. The killer is leaving them strange clues: warnings in text messages, sums scribbled on bits of paper, numbers broadcast on the radio. He’s telling a dark and secret story – but how can they crack the code? And if they do, will they be next?

About The Author:

yrsa_sigurdardottir_crime_authorYrsa Sigurdardottir is an award-winning, best-selling author from Iceland. She began her career writing humorous novels for children but got sick of being funny and found being horrible is much easier. She made her crime fiction debut in 2005 with Last Rituals, the first installment in the Thóra Guðmundsdóttir series and has since been translated into 35 languages. Yrsa has also written several stand-alone thrillers and has a new series coming out in 2017 in the UK. Her work stands “comparison with the finest contemporary crime writing anywhere in the world” according to the Times Literary Supplement. Her standalone horror novel, I Remember You will be in theaters in 2017, while adaptation of the Thóra series for English language television is underway.

The latest book to be published in the UK is Why Did You Lie, described by the Sunday Times as “a tour de force”. This was preceded by the 2015 Petrona Award winning Silence of the Sea and Someone to Watch Over Me, chosen by the Sunday Times as the best crime novel published in the UK in 2013.

Yrsa is also a civil engineer and still works as such on geothermal and hydro power plant projects in her native Iceland. She is not in agreement with her co-workers regarding her actual participation in the workplace lately, she states she works 50% but they say 30%. This issue is presently unresolved.

Follow Yrsa on Twitter: @YrsaSig (See what she did there? Saved you a whole lot of confusion while typing her last name).

The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardottir is out now in paperback and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

4.5*, 5*, blog tours, book review

#BlogTour Hydra by Matt Wesolowski @ConcreteKraken @OrendaBooks #Hydra #SixStories

Hydra blog poster 2018

So today I’m delighted and excited to be part of the blog tour for Hydra by Matt Wesolowski today. Hydra is book two in the Six Stories series based on Scott King and her Serial style investigative podcasts. I had heard a lot about the first book, Six Stories, and was really keen to read it so I jumped at the chance to read Hydra and resolved to read Six Stories first, which I almost didn’t do but once I started Hydra I quickly realised that I needed to read the first book forst. But that makes this a bit different as I’m going to review Six Stories before I go on to Hydra. If you’ve read Six Stories or are only here because of Hydra then feel free to scroll down.

My Review of Six Stories:

I was intrigued to read Six Stories having heard so much about it but I wasn’t really sure what to expect. What I got was the story of a young boy called Tom who had gone missing, only for his body to be found a year later in a quiet and secluded fell, the crime had never been solved and the case was now considered to be a cold case.

Scott King has a podcast, over six episodes her talks to different people involved in one crime trying to uncover what really happened and who might have done it. So here she talks to Tom’s friends who were with him that fateful night and to the adults who were in charge at the outward bound centre that he went missing from.

I liked how the story was slowly revealed as we put the pieces of the puzzle together as we found out more about Tom and his friends and what they had been up to before he went missing. But the story doesn’t put all the pieces into place, we get to think for ourselves and make up our own mind about what we think might have happened.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Six Stories, it’s a bit different and very well written and definitely the start of a promising series.

Blurb:

335414091997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame…

As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.

My Review of Hydra:

Having recently read and thoroughly enjoyed Six Stories I was looking forward to reading Hydra, book two of the six stories series. Firstly, I would definitely recommend that you read Six Stories first as I started to read Hydra without having read Six Stories and I didn’t get very far before I had to admit that I was very confused and wasn’t really sure what on earth was going on. Once I read the brilliant Six Stories I was able to return to Hydra and get into the story or Arla, a woman who murdered her parents and little sister.

This case is a bit different to Six Stories in that that one focused on a cold case, but this case had been solved and everyone knew that Arla had killed her family. But what nobody knew was why. So when Arla said that she would only speak to Scott King he was keen to see if he could find out what had happened on that fateful day and why.

If I’m honest I preferred the story in Six Stories, but Hydra was still a cracking read that kept me guessing and thinking right the way to the end.

Thank you to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for a copy of Hydra. All thoughts are my own.

Blurb:

Hydra final jacket image (1)One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north west of England, 26-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the ‘Macleod Massacre’. Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation.
King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out. As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden ‘games’, online trolls, and the mysterious Black-eyed Children, whose presence extends far beyond the delusions of a murderess…
Dark, chilling and gripping, Hydra is both a classic murder mystery and an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller, that shines light in places you may never, ever want to see again.

About The Author:

5303620Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller Six Stories was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia.

Six Stories and Hydra by Matt Wesolowski are out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

5*, blog tours, book review

#BlogTour Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb @OrendaBooks @CrimeThrillGirl #DeepBlueTrouble

Deep Blue blog poster 2018

My Review:

I jumped at the chance to take part in the blog tour for Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb. I hadn’t read the first book in the series, Deep Down Dead, but really wanted to having heard so much about it. So I figured that if I agreed to read and take part in this tour it would give me a good reason to read the first book. Unfortunately life gets in the way and I just didn’t have time to read Deep Down Dead before Deep Blue Trouble but thankfully I’m pretty sure that that didn’t matter.

The events of book one quickly become apparent and more is revealed as the book progresses, I’m sure that it is always better to read the books in order but if you haven’t read book one, don’t let it stop you reading Deep Blue Trouble.

I really enjoyed reading this book, it has a fast pace and plenty of twists and turns along with the who can you trust element too. I liked Lori, the main character who is a bounty hunter in Florida who finds herself in unfamiliar territory when she goes to California to hunt a dangerous man. It is a job that she doesn’t want to do but she is forced into it by an FBI agent who promises her that he will help out a friend who is in trouble with the law.

The case proves to be more difficult than Lori had hoped and it causes her to push herself in ways that she had never imagined but will she manage to catch the fugitive in time?

The only little gripe that I had was that we were constantly reminded of the reasons why Lori had agreed to take the case, we knew why she was doing it and how much riding on her succeeding and I didn’t need to be reminded so often. But apart from that I loved the book, I still really want to read the first book in the series and I look forward to the third book! It’s great to read about a feisty female character.

Blurb:

DEEP BUE TROUBLE AW.inddSingle-mother Florida bounty hunter Lori Anderson’s got an ocean of trouble on her hands. Her daughter Dakota is safe, but her cancer is threatening a comeback, and Lori needs JT—Dakota’s daddy and the man who taught Lori everything—alive and kicking. Problem is, he’s behind bars, and heading for death row. Desperate to save him, Lori does a deal, taking on off-the-books job from shady FBI agent Alex Monroe. Bring back on-the-run felon, Gibson “The Fish” Fletcher, and JT walks free. Following Fletcher from Florida to California, Lori teams up with local bounty hunter Dez McGregor and his team. But Dez works very differently to Lori, and the tension between them threatens to put the whole job in danger. With Monroe pressuring Lori for results, the clock ticking on JT’s life, and nothing about the Fletcher case adding up, Lori’s hitting walls at every turn. But this is one job she’s got to get right, or she’ll lose everything.

 

About The Author:

Steph Broadribb

Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her ‘alter ego’ Crime Thriller Girl she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at http://www.crimethrillergirl.com where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases. Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens. He debut thriller, Deep Down Dead, was shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards in two categories and hit number one on the UK and AU Kindle charts.

Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

5*, book review, debut author, psychological thriller

#BookReview The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks

 

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The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor

 

My Review:

Ok, so this review could be very, very short. Basically, all that I will say in it can be summed up in these few words ‘It is bloody brilliant and you should read it.’

If you’d like to know a little bit more about the book then keep reading, no spoilers obviously, but if not then you get the gist and that is all that you need to know.

I’d heard a lot about The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor and was desperate to read it, I just couldn’t wait until publication day so I totally abused my position as a book blogger and begged the publisher to let me read it earlier. Luckily for me, they were very obliging. I was so excited when it landed on my Kindle that I started to read it straight away and once I started I struggled to stop. It was just so so good I couldn’t put it down! Forget the washing/cleaning/cooking/shopping/kids/pets/work/tv/sleep/anything, it won’t get done until you finish reading this book. I’m a slow reader and I read it in two days, sleep didn’t matter, I just had to keep reading.

That this book is a debut is incredibly impressive, the writing is solid and the plot is twisted and well written, the characters are believable and realistic. It’s pretty much as close to a perfect book as you can get.

Blurb:

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for each other as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing will ever be the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out his other friends got the same messages, they think it could be a prank… until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Expertly alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Chalk Man is the very best kind of suspense novel, one where every character is wonderfully fleshed out and compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.

About The Author:

20374489_158877098004329_719442257321190286_nC. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter.

She left school at sixteen and has had a variety of jobs over the years, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, ad agency copywriter and voiceover.

In the early nineties, she fell into a job as a television presenter for a show on Channel 4 called Moviewatch. Although a terrible presenter, she got to interview acting legends such as Sigourney Weaver, Michael Douglas, Emma Thompson and Robin Williams. She also annoyed Tim Robbins by asking a question about Susan Sarandon’s breasts and was extremely flattered when Robert Downey Junior showed her his chest.

While writing the Chalk Man she ran a dog-walking business, walking over twenty dogs a week as well as looking after her little girl.

She’s been writing since she was a child but only knuckled down to it properly in her thirties. Her English teacher once told her that if she ‘did not become Prime Minister or a best-selling author’ he would be ‘very disappointed.’

The Chalk Man was inspired by a tub of chalks a friend bought for her daughter’s second birthday. One afternoon they drew chalk figures all over the driveway. Later that night she opened the back door to be confronted by weird stick men everywhere. In the dark, they looked incredibly sinister. She called to her partner: ‘These chalk men look really creepy in the dark . . .’

She is never knowingly over-dressed. She has never owned a handbag and the last time she wore heels (twelve years ago) she broke a tooth.

She loves The Killers, Foo Fighters and Frank Turner. Her favourite venue is Rock City.

Her favourite films are Ghostbusters and The Lost Boys. Her favourite authors are Stephen King, Michael Marshall and Harlan Coben.

She is SO glad she was a teenager in the eighties.

She firmly believes that there are no finer meals than takeaway pizza and champagne, or chips with curry sauce after a night out.

Everyone calls her Caz.

The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor is released on 11th January 2018 and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

5*, book review

Book Review: Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton @AuthorSJBolton @TransworldBooks

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Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton.

So, this is my final review of 2017. I can’t believe that the year is over already, I’ve got so caught up with everything that I haven’t even started my book of the year post. Bad me. I have definitely been neglecting my lovely blog over the last few weeks but I endeavour to do better.

The worst thing about this review is that I actually read it months ago, how I forgot to review it I don’t know because I really enjoyed this book. Bad me again.

My Review:

I really, really like Sharon Bolton. She is a great author whose writing is so solid and real that I often think that her characters are real life people. There are still some of her books that I am yet to read but I am determined to make my way through all of them. My favourite so far is, without a doubt, Little Black Lies and I very much doubt that any of her books will beat that!

Dead Woman Walking gripped me from the very start, the balloon ride that goes horribly wrong when they see a woman being killed below. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time! When the murderer chases the balloon which soon crashes out of the sky in a spectacular fashion leaving just one survivor the tension is cranked right up.

That tension barely let up through the book as the sole survivor fights for survival, not so easy when they have no idea who they can trust. I haven’t given anything away that isn’t in the blurb and I really don’t want to do that, so if you enjoy thrillers where the story twists and turns and you’re never quite sure who is who and who to trust then this book is one for you. I’m looking forward to reading the authors next book.

Blurb:

Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor.

She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime.

Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all . . .

About The Author:

1038226Sharon (formerly SJ) Bolton grew up in a cotton-mill town in Lancashire and had an eclectic early career which she is now rather embarrassed about. She gave it all up to become a mother and a writer.

Her first novel, Sacrifice, was voted Best New Read by Amazon.uk, whilst her second, Awakening, won the 2010 Mary Higgins Clark award. In 2014, Lost, (UK title, Like This, For Ever) was named RT Magazine’s Best Contemporary Thriller in the US, and in France, Now You See Me won the Plume de Bronze. That same year, Sharon was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library, for her entire body of work.

 

Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.