4.5*, blog tours, book review

#BlogTour #BookReview The Keeper by Johana Gustawsson. @JoGustawsson @OrendaBooks #FrenchNoir

FINAL Keeper blog poster 2018

I’m really excited to be part of the blog tour for Keeper by Johana Gustawsson. I read and loved Block 46 by the author and this is the second part of the series so I was looking forward to reading it. You can read my review of Block 46 here.

My Review:

I was really looking forward to reading Keeper by Johana Gustawsson having read and really enjoyed the first book in the series, Block 46. I adored that book on so many levels so I have to admit that I was concerned that Keeper could never live up to my high expectations

Thankfully my concern didn’t become reality, and although I didn’t find that Keeper grabbed me into the story as fast as Block 46 did, it is still a great read with plenty of twists and turns that I am sure you won’t see coming.

I really like profiler Emily Roy, she is no-nonsense and brilliant at her job, but believably brilliant. So often a profiler in a crime book comes up with amazing insight but it is based on absolutely nothing but, of course, it is completely accurate. None of that here thankfully, as Gustawsson skillfully reveals her thoughts and how she puts the pieces to the puzzle together.

There was a real ticking clock to Keeper with a character being kidnapped at the start of the book, we know that she’s in danger and that she needs to be found urgently. Will the police, assisted by Roy and Alexis Castells, find her in time? A warning for more sensitive readers, Gustawsson does not hold back when it comes to gruesome, I love it but some might struggle with the level of detail given in some cases

Once again Gustawwson weaves stories from the past into the story, sucking the reader into another world and wondering how on earth it connects to the present. I really like that the past also includes a true event, the holocaust last time and Jack The Ripper this time.

There is very little backstory in Keeper, if you have forgotten the characters from Block 46 there is little to remind you which at times I felt was frustrating, especially with Alexis who clearly made less of an impression on me. It is unusual for a book in a series not to give more reminders, and so I think that in this case the books should definitely be read in order.

Once I got into the story I really enjoyed reading Keeper, Gustawsson is a great author and I look forward to reading what she does next.

Thank you to Orenda Books for a copy of Keeper, I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

Blurb:

KEEPER COVER AW 2.inddWhitechapel, 1888: London is bowed under Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror.

London 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of some 10 years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings of a century before.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman’s body is found mutilated in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims. With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes already locked up, do the new killings mean he has a dangerous accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose?

Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells again find themselves drawn into an intriguing case, with personal links that turn their world upside down.

About The Author:

Johana PhotoBorn in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. She married a Swede and now lives in London. She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015. She is working on the next book in the Roy & Castells series.

Keeper by Johana Gustawsson is out now 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.

4*, 4.5*, blog tours, book review, Children's books, reviewed by kids

#BookTour Trolls by Ron Butlin @RonButlinMakar @BCKidsBooks @SKARPHEDON @BirlinnBooks @LoveBooksGroup

TROLLS BLOG TOUR POSTER FINAL VERSION1 (1)

Our Review:

Here Come the Trolls:

Dora aged seven: It is quite funny sometimes but it is a bit not kind which I didn’t really like as they weren’t very nice to the trolls. The pictures are a bit different to other kids books but I do like them, they aren’t that colourful though. The writing is also a bit different but I could read it ok although it was harder to read than normal books. 

I liked the book, there wasn’t a particularly strong storyline to it and there was no message in it as there often are with kids, it is just a book that is purely for fun. And it definitely is fun. The illustrations are great, they are quite simple and as Dora said not very colourful but the expressions on the trolls faces are often amusing and made my children giggle. I think that at seven the book is too young for my children, it would suit ages 2-6 quite well and I’m sure that the story would get lots of laughs from younger children who would enjoy the pictures and the lyrical story.

Day of the Trolls:

Jake aged seven:  It was really gross when the troll farted and when the troll had snot. It was really funny when the granny got thrown to the roof. The pictures were really funny because it looked like it was so weird and silly. I think that boys and girls aged three to five would really like this book.

Dora aged seven: It was quite gross but it was quite funny when the troll picked his nose. I do think that it was quite good and I did like the pictures a bit too. 

I enjoyed reading Day of the Trolls and felt that it was better than the first book as it had a better storyline and more happening in it. It is a funny book and the words and the pictures make it funnier, they go well together. I think that this book would be perfect for children aged 2-6 who I’m sure would find it hilarious to hear about these naughty and rude trolls!

Blurb:

trolls1

Through gaps in the roof we didn’t repair

through cracks in the walls we pretended weren’t there…

…the trolls have come creeping

while we were all sleeping.

Trolls on your chair, trolls in your bed –

is anything worse than a troll on your head?

What happens when your house is invaded by trolls – mischievous creatures who do nothing but cause havoc and mayhem? Find out in this zany and charming book which tells you how to get rid of them for good and make your house a troll-free zone!

trolls2

It’s the Day of the Trolls: Fart-Fart and all the trolls are back! Join them in the shopping mall where they go wild, causing havoc as they overrun the place. But when they follow sign saying All Trolls – This Way, things turn out very differently to what Flycatcher, Bumscratcher, SnotFace, Squeer and the rest of them expected …

About The Author:

Ron Butlin is an award-winning poet, playwright, novelist, short story writer and librettist whose works have been translated into many languages. He regularly gives creative writing workshops in schools, and was Edinburgh Makar from 2008 to 2014.

James Hutcheson is Creative Director at Birlinn. He has been designing books, book jackets and album covers for many years.

The books are out now and you can buy Here Come The Trolls here and Day of the Trolls here.

4.5*, blog tours, book review, mental health

#blogtour House Of Spines by Michael J Malone @MichaelJMalone1 @OrendaBooks #HouseOfSpines

House of Spines blog poster 2017

My Review:

House of Spines by Michael J Malone sucked me right in from the very beginning. Who hasn’t daydreamed that one day they found out that they had an inheritance from some very rich relative that they had never known about?? So when Ran, who was down on his luck and trying to make a living as an author was told that he now owned a very large home in the posh part of town, complete with swimming pool, housekeeper and a very large library, I couldn’t help but be drawn into the story.

Ran was very isolated before his inheritance, his wife left him after he suffered a breakdown and was diagnosed with bipolar, with both parents dead the only people that he had regular contact with were his agent and his neighbour. So a move was something that Ran was happy and able to do and short notice, so short that he didn’t take his medication with him. So when he started to see strange things in his new home and becomes convinced that there is a woman who lives in the lift of his new home we are never quite sure whether the woman is real or whether Ran is suffering another bipolar relapse after stopping his meds.

Malone writes Ran’s descent into madness very well, and it was hard not to get caught up in it at times. Suspicion and paranoia cause Ran to isolate himself further and soon isn’t sure who he can trust. When his cousins attempt to manipulate Ran into agreeing to sell the mansion that has become his home will Ran have the strength to stand up to them?

I really enjoyed reading House of Spines, it’s a cleverly written book that I’m still trying to work out!

Blurb:

House of Spines front

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who appears to have been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, he finds that Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror … the reflection of a woman … A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…

About The Author:

Michael Malone Photo

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In- Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage and The Bad Samaritan. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number one bestseller. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website http://www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

 

House Of Spines By Michael J Malone is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

4.5*, book review, psychological thriller

#review: The Honeymoon by @tinaseskis @MichaelJBooks

 

thehoneymoon
The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

 

My Review:

I had heard a lot about The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis, but not having read any of her previous books I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

This psychological thriller really does keep the reader guessing. Jemma is on her honeymoon on a beautiful and exclusive island in the Maldives, but it is clear from the start that all is not right with her new marriage, and when her new husband goes missing the reader is unsure whether Jemma’s version that gradually emerges as the book progresses it true, or if she is hiding something.

The book goes back to the start of Jemma’s relationship with Dan when Jemma was really not sure whether he was ‘the one’. As the relationship progresses and we learn more about the backstory I became less and less sure about what was true and what wasn’t. Jemma definitely didn’t seem like a reliable witness.

There are plenty of twists and turns in the book, and I’m happy to admit that I didn’t see the main ones coming. Jemma, as a character was not likeable and there was very little about her that I could like, but that didn’t stop me wanting to know what had happened to her husband and whether she was involved. Another couple on the island provide a bit of light relief, which was welcome.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Honeymoon, I wanted to keep reading and the twists were great and cleverly done. If you like a twisty, turny book then this is for you! It gets an easy 4.5* from me. I’m off to look at Seskis’s other books.

Blurb:

For as long as she can remember, Jemma has been planning the perfect honeymoon. A fortnight’s retreat to a five-star resort in the Maldives, complete with luxury villas, personal butlers and absolute privacy. It should be paradise, but it’s turned into a nightmare.

Because the man Jemma married a week ago has just disappeared from the island without a trace. And now her perfect new life is vanishing just as quickly before her eyes. After everything they’ve been through together, how can this be happening? Is there anyone on the island who Jemma can trust? And above all – where has her husband gone?

About the author:

Tina Seskis grew up in Hampshire, before going off to study in the beautiful city of Bath and then moving to London, where she has lived on and off ever since.

Tina’s first novel One Step Too Far was released in 2013, and has since been published in 17 languages in over 60 countries. Her latest novel, The Honeymoon, will finally be released on 1st June 2017.

Tina lives in North London with her husband and son.

The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis is out now and available from  Amazon UK and Amazon US.

4.5*, book review

Book review: The Breakdown by B.A. Paris.

 

the-breakdown
The Breakdown by B.A. Paris.

 

Ok, so I have to admit that in order to read this book as soon as I possibly could I became something of a stalker. Regular readers of If only I could read faster will know that I loved Behind Closed Doors, B.A. Paris’ debut book that was my book of the year 2016. So when I knew that her second book was available to reviewers I wanted it, badly. I don’t normally bother and if I want to read a book and can’t easily get it to review then I pre-order it and wait like everyone else, but I just couldn’t wait to read this book! Thankfully the author herself came to my rescue when she heard how much I loved her first book. So thank you B.A. Paris for helping me get a copy of your book!

My 4.5* review:

The Breakdown had a lot to live up to, I absolutely loved the author’s debut novel Behind Closed Doors, and was desperate to read this book. I was worried that I would be disappointed, as so often happens when you have really high expectations, but whenever I heard from anyone who had read it it was all positive so I was excited to read it.

Cass sees a car stopped on the side of a remote road during a huge storm, she pulls over but worried for her own safety she doesn’t get out of her car and as the driver of the other car doesn’t get out or signal to Cass she decides to drive home and call someone from there. On arriving home Cass gets distracted and never makes that phone call.

When the next morning news spreads of a murder on the very same road Cass is flooded with guilt when she learns that it was the driver of the car that she saw that had been killed. Cass decides to keep it a secret, scared that she will be judged by others for not helping the driver.

With the murder so close to Cass’ isolated home it is not surprising that she feels jumpy but as time goes on Cass is sure that she is being watched and becomes convinced that the killer saw her on that fateful night and is going to come after her.

At the same time Cass starts to find her memory going, her mother had early onset dementia and it appears that the same is happening to Cass. She does her best to hide it but her husband can’t help but get frustrated at her and gradually Cass comes to accept that she is heading the same route as her mother.

The combination of her memory loss and the guilt that she feels over not helping the murdered woman causes Cass to crumble and without the support of her husband and best friend she knows that things would be even worse.

But is everything as it seems?

This book is totally different to the author’s debut which is definitely a good thing, it is an enjoyable and easy to read book, that keeps you guessing and wanting to know what will happen. I felt that the ending was rushed which was a real shame but it gets a solid 4.5*’s from me. I loved how the story took you in and you were never quite sure about what was going on. Now I have to wait for the authors next book!

Blurb:

THE NEW CHILLING, PROPULSIVE NOVEL FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLING BEHIND CLOSED DOORS.

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

The Breakdown is out on 9th February 2017 and is available to pre-order now from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

4.5*, book review, young adult

Book Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr.

 

florabanks
The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr.

 

My 4.5* review:

I haven’t read an Emily Barr book for years, the first book of hers that I read was Backpack, a book that I loved back in 2001. After that, I read a few more books by the author but then she seemed to disappear under my radar and I actually thought that she had stopped writing. A look at the author’s page on Amazon tells me that she hadn’t disappeared at all.

I heard a bit about The One Memory of Flora Banks and when I realised who the author was I requested it to read on Netgalley and was happy to be approved. This was Emily Barr’s first book aimed at young adults, but as I enjoy reading that genre it didn’t put me off, and I hope that it won’t put you off either. When a friend told me how much she’d enjoyed this book I quickly bumped it up my tbr pile and I’m so pleased that I did.

Seventeen year old Flora is a wonderful character, she copes with short term memory loss by writing on her arms and hands, making sure that when she suddenly finds herself somewhere believing she is ten years old she can quickly see the information that she needs to know. As well as writing on her arms Flora has one tattoo, it says ‘be brave’ which becomes Flora’s moto and at times, her mantra.

Understandably, Flora’s mum is very protective of her but when Flora’s estranged brother is suddenly taken very ill in France her parents decide to leave Flora at home with her best friend while they go to be with him. Unknown to Flora’s parents, her best friend is no longer speaking to her after finding out that Flora had kissed her boyfriend at a party.

Suddenly alone in her house Flora appears to go slightly crazy. She remembers kissing the boy so clearly, yet she has no other memories at all after the age of ten. Believing that only true love would cause her to remember something she becomes obsessed with Drake and determined to find him, even though he is now at university in Norway. Flora proves to be remarkably resourceful and thanks to numerous post-it notes around her home she remembers to keep up the pretence to her parents that she is not alone and all is fine.

I loved the character of Flora, she is so strong and capable, it would be so easy to give up in her situation but instead she fights and she finds ways to get around her short term memory loss. The way that she is written is so believable and real, I have no idea how Barr managed to portray such a complex character so well.

Flora is clearly a special person, everyone she meets seems to be endeared to her and wants to help. This proves particularly useful when Flora manages to get herself to Norway, determined to find Drake. In a completely unknown and foreign world, Flora struggles, the constant daylight confusing her body as well as her mind and unlike home, where she has memories from before the age of ten, here she remembers nothing, relying on the writing on her arms to guide her. She meets some right characters along the way, they soon realise that there is something different about Flora, but they see her spirit and so endeavour to help her where they can.

I could go on and on about the book, the storyline and Flora but I don’t want to give too much away. The book is a joy to read, I just loved Flora’s fighting spirit and how with the help of other’s she is able to overcome her difficulties and fight against her mothers’ control. Flora really has to be one of my favourite ever characters in a book and I hope that I remember her for a long time. Be Brave might just become my new moto too.

I received a copy of The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr from Netgalley but I was under no obligation to review it.

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr is out now and available from Amazon UK. In America, you can pre-order the book from Amazon US or it is available now on audiobook.

Blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.