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Book reviews ... Author interviews ... and anything else I think might be of interest to writers and readers.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Race To Death by Leigh Russell



Race To Death


I really enjoyed this second outing for DI Ian Peterson – part of the spin off series from Leigh Russell’s original Geraldine Steel books.

A man plummets to his death during the York Races. Suicide or murder?  Newly-promoted DI Ian Peterson is plunged into a complex and high-profile case, and as the body count increases, the pressure mounts for his team to solve the crimes quickly.

From this intriguing beginning set against the vivid backdrop of a racecourse on race day, the story unfolds at a great pace and grips until the end.

Like Geraldine Steel before him, Ian has moved since his last investigation so this book sees him getting used to a new set of colleagues and living in a new place. The relocation throws up challenges for Ian. In particular a new boss who expects results and doesn’t let up on the pressure when she doesn’t get them, and a wife who feels uprooted and discontent in her new environment.

In this case, DI Peterson is up against a criminal with a very complex and unusual MO indeed. Peterson and his colleagues have to solve a series of murders that seem to make no sense and have no link and, as the days tick by with no progress, pressure mounts.

As with all Leigh Russell’s books this one has a great mix of just the right amount of police procedure and a chance for the characters to shine. I was also pleased to see another guest appearance for Geraldine in Ian’s story.

In this book we get some deeper insights into Ian’s personal life, and towards the end things get very personal indeed as the investigation threatens to endanger everything he holds dear.

Overall, I found this a great read. Ian Peterson is a likeable main character and his new sergeant, Ted Birling, provides a great foil and York a great setting.

I recommend this book to crime and thriller lovers, and look forward to more in the series.

Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

The paperback is released in September, but the Kindle version is available now.

You can find out more here.

You can find my reviews of Leigh Russell’s other books here and here.


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness



The Book of Life

A guest review from Lady Techie

I received an early release e-Arc through NetGalley and I have to say with one exception this is the book I have been anticipating for a year. This is saying a lot since I have not been reading a lot of Urban Fantasy or Paranormal books in the last 6 months to a year. I had to take a break because I sort of burned myself out on them. But, I had the chance to read this one early and jumped at it, especially knowing it was the end of the series. My sister teased me saying “maybe they’ll add another book or another 3 books.” I was quite grumpy thinking this could happen. But, I have to say I am writing this without having even finished the books. I have had different thoughts as I read and wanted to start jotting them down so that I could get my review in just as the book is released.

As I read this my first impression is that Book of Life does not disappoint. There is wonderful character development as we meet new friends and see old ones. I almost went back and read Shadow of Night because some of the characters left my memory. I purchased both A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night in unabridged audiobook as well. I will be rounding out the series in audiobook and purchasing The Book of Life in unabridged audiobook when it is released. These will be great to listen to a 6 months to a year down the line. I am betting I will hear things I missed the first time through.

I have to say my biggest fear with this book before I have finished it is that someone I like in the series will be killed off. Both Diana and Matthew have survived a lot of losses in their lives so I’m hoping this doesn’t happen but, I know how these things go with series. The readers fall in love with a character like GallowGlass. How can you not love him? We want the best for him so much and worry for him. There are so many likeable characters in this book just as there are some truly bad villains. It is hard to decide who to dislike more, Benjamin, for being such an evil creature; Gerbert, for being Switzerland in front of everyone when he might just be evil and Peter Knox, for being so power hungry that he will do anything to get that power. The Congregation is not innocent either and it does not appear to only be because they want to stop humans from finding out about the otherworldly beings. Part of what they do seems to be steeped in prejudices and control as well.


I have to admit that Book of Life was a satisfying ending to a great trilogy. There were some individual stories I wished we could have had more information about but all in all things were drawn to a great conclusion. Diana and Matthew both have grown a lot and learned a lot about who they are and who they needed to be and their trials drew others to them and helped them grow as well. Sarah and Isabeau are two people that grew so much in this book. Isabeau just draws you to her more and more throughout the entire series. But, there was change and growth in the supernatural community as well which was all any of them could hope for along with the cute babies that we get to know a bit about since they are still small babies. But, maybe we’ll see them again one day. I wouldn’t be against that at all!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Thirst by Kerry Hudson


Thirst


With this, her second novel, Kerry Hudson has delivered a hard-hitting tale of love, power, abuse and the ultimate hope of redemption.

Thirst is the story of Alena, who thought she was heading to London from Siberia for a better life, and Dave, who has made mistakes – a lot of mistakes – but still deserves a second chance.

From their first meeting until the unbearably poignant encounter that closes the book, their relationship goes through every possible permutation from stranger to friend to lover, and very nearly back again, but will their union ultimately hold the hope for redemption?

The book tackles some very difficult themes head on: people trafficking, rape, violence, guilt and shame. But throughout the story, light is allowed to shine in the darkness. The light of love, of friendship and of determination for a better life, provides the elements that prevent such a difficult subject from being depressing.

There are some great scenes in this novel: Alena and Dave’s first meeting over a corned beef sandwich; the etiquette difficulties surrounding a train journey to Siberia and Dave’s less than salubrious arrival at the Hostel Sputnik. These moments are dealt with with great humour, and highlight the fact that although Alena and Dave have both done some bad things, they are good people, likeable people.

Another remarkable thing about this book is the way that the beauty of the language employed in the writing contrasts with the brutality of some of the events related. It is this contrast that demonstrates the skill of the author and lifts this novel out of the ordinary.

This book will move you. It will make you angry and it will make you cry. But above all it will make you think.

You have to read it!


Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more here.


Sunday, 6 July 2014

The Dance Of Love by Angela Young


The Dance Of Love


‘The Dance of Love’ is an exquisitely told tale of love, duty, honour and desire.

The story of Natalie Edwardes, who has to find her way in a world with expectations that she can’t always meet, is told with warmth and understanding. The historical setting, which takes us from a carefree Edwardian world through the drama of the sinking of the Titanic and the agony of the First World War, sparkles with rich and authentic detail.

It is her position in society, and the rules of the world in which she lives and loves, that put the first obstacles in Natalie’s way. Although her father is rich, which in some ways makes her a good match, he is a self made man and as such cannot hope to compete with his more aristocratic neighbours on a level playing field.

This leaves Natalie in a position that leads to lies, cover-ups and ultimately heartache.

The story is written with a great deal of compassion and emotion and I really felt for Natalie as her relationships with those she loves – her father, her husband, and her son – were tested to the absolute limit.

I loved this book. It was a totally absorbing story with great characters, a great geographical and historical setting, and a satisfying plot.

Highly recommended.


Thanks very much to the author for a review copy of this book.

The book will be released at the end of July.


Friday, 20 June 2014

The Qualities Of Wood by Mary Vensel White



The Qualities Of Wood



When Vivian Gardiner joins her husband Nowell to help him clear out his late grandmother’s house, she gets a lot more than she expected: a new sister-in-law; a mysterious neighbour; a gun in the attic; and the mystery surrounding a dead girl who has been found in the woods behind the house.

Set in the American Midwest, I found this novel very atmospheric and beautifully written. As you read, you feel as though you’re almost in the house with Vivian. With her you experience her husband’s mental and emotional absence from her as he tries to finish writing his latest mystery novel, the fellow feeling she develops with Dot, her new sister-in-law, and the tension created by the presence of Lonnie, Nowell’s unpredictable and sometimes incendiary brother.

Beyond the house Vivian also explores the wood, which almost seems to have a life of its own. What draws everyone there? Nowell, Lonnie, the mysterious, yet attractive, neighbour Mr Stokes, and ultimately Vivian herself.

The wider neighbourhood is also full of intrigue. I loved Katherine and Max, who take Vivian under their wing, and the town’s obsession with its founding father William Clement and his descendants who are all about to arrive for a festival.

It is the festival, the clearing of the house and the subsequent yard sale that ultimately bring the Gardiner family secrets out into the open. The ending demonstrates what happens when family secrets are left to fester, fed by jealousy and half truths.

This is a well written novel and I enjoyed learning about the characters as the author stripped away layers of their past. There is a richness to the descriptive writing that gives it a great sense of immediacy and reality.

Overall an interesting novel focusing on family, place and the unlocking of mysteries.


Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more here.