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Archive for September, 2016

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Author: Camilla Grebe

Published: 8 September 2016
Reviewed: 30 September 2016

4.5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Bonnier Zaffre in return for an honest review

 

Description:

NO ORDINARY PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER – THIS WILL KEEP YOU UP ALL NIGHT

For fans of Jo Nesbo and The Bridge, The Ice Beneath Her is a gripping and deeply disturbing story about love, betrayal and obsession that is impossible to put down. Fast-paced and peopled with compelling characters, it surprises at every turn as it hurtles towards an unforgettable ending with a twist you really won’t see coming . . .

A young woman is found beheaded in an infamous business tycoon’s marble-lined hallway.

The businessman, scandal-ridden CEO of the retail chain Clothes & More, is missing without a trace.

But who is the dead woman? And who is the brutal killer who wielded the machete?

Rewind two months earlier to meet Emma Bohman, a sales assistant for Clothes & More, whose life is turned upside down by a chance encounter with Jesper Orre. Insisting that their love affair is kept secret, he shakes Emma’s world a second time when he suddenly leaves her with no explanation.

As frightening things begin to happen to Emma, she suspects Jesper is responsible. But why does he want to hurt her? And how far would he go to silence his secret lover?

My Thoughts & Review:

As a fan of Scandi Noir I was instantly intrigued by this book, the description sounded like just the sort of book to get stuck into on a quiet night.

This gripping psychological thriller immediately grabs the reader’s attention,  the decapitated body of a young woman is discovered,  and more curiously it was discovered in the home of an infamous business tycoon.

With narration from the perspective of three characters makes this story very interesting, and helps to make this a fast paced read, but also gives a real insight into the characters.  The subsequent development of each character makes this a fascinating read and found I was thoroughly enjoying their individual tales.
Hanne, formerly a criminal profiler, diagnosed with early onset dementia and in a controlling and loveless marriage, is a fantastic character and one I was cheering on whilst I read.
Peter, the detective with commitment issues (unless it’s work he has to commit to), is good at his job, but his personal life….not so organised.  Together Peter and Hanne work well, its clear there is a shared history and it makes reading the story much more enjoyable.
Emma’s story was probably the most interesting one, a young woman that meets and falls in love with the CEO of the company she works for but their love affair has to be kept secret because of who he is.

There is some very clever plotting in this book, it’s very dark and disturbing, Grebe weaves together twists and turns that have the reader guessing at what might happen next.  I feel that I should praise the translation of this book.  All too often when a book is translated into English, something can be “lost” but I am so pleased that is not the case with this one.  It has the hallmarks of a Scandi thriller, cold, dark and direct which really work well here, making this one of the best books I’ve read this year.

You can buy a copy of The Ice Beneath Her here.

Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of this in return for an honest review.

 

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 Author: Hazel Gaynor

Published: 8 September 2016
Reviewed: 26 September 2016

4 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by HarperCollins in return for an honest review

 

Description:

Presenting a dazzling new historical novel … The Girl From The Savoy is as sparkling as champagne and as thrilling as the era itself.

‘Sometimes life gives you cotton stockings. Sometimes it gives you a Chanel gown …’

Dolly Lane is a dreamer; a downtrodden maid who longs to dance on the London stage, but her life has been fractured by the Great War. Memories of the soldier she loved, of secret shame and profound loss, by turns pull her back and spur her on to make a better life.

When she finds employment as a chambermaid at London’s grandest hotel, The Savoy, Dolly takes a step closer to the glittering lives of the Bright Young Things who thrive on champagne, jazz and rebellion. Right now, she must exist on the fringes of power, wealth and glamor—she must remain invisible and unimportant.

But her fortunes take an unexpected turn when she responds to a struggling songwriter’s advertisement for a ‘muse’ and finds herself thrust into London’s exhilarating theatre scene and into the lives of celebrated actress, Loretta May, and her brother, Perry. Loretta and Perry may have the life Dolly aspires to, but they too are searching for something.

Now, at the precipice of the life she has and the one she longs for, the girl from The Savoy must make difficult choices: between two men; between two classes, between everything she knows and everything she dreams of. A brighter future is tantalizingly close—but can a girl like Dolly ever truly leave her past behind?

My Thoughts & Review:

Having been enticed with the beautiful cover of this book and the wonderful insights of the blog tour earlier in the month, I finally got time to sit down and read The Girl From The Savoy.

Charting the story of Dolly, a chambermaid at the Savoy in 1920s London, the reader is transported to the era by Hazel Gaynor’s eloquent prose.
Dolly has great dreams to be a star on stage, appearing in musicals like her idol Loretta May, so when she meets Loretta’s bother Perry and becomes friends with him and Loretta she is beside herself with excitement at the possibilities this poses.

Dolly is a wonderfully rich character, rich in spirit, and a delight to read about.  Despite her past and the secrets she keeps hidden, the reader cannot help but admire this character.  As her secrets are unearthed, they convey so much more about Dolly’s life before the Savoy.    Perry and Loretta are equally great characters, each has their secrets and this helps to bring them to life as believable and likeable characters.

The writing itself is great, Hazel Gaynor carefully captures the very essence of the period, the reader is swept away with the vivid details that Gaynor has taken time to include, you can almost picture the scenes as if it were a play or on the big screen.  It’s clear from the details included that much time has been spent researching the music and the celebrities of the time.  I was lucky enough to share a wonderful piece written by Hazel Gaynor about the music of the period that played a part in her research as part of the blog tour for The Girl From The Savoy.

You can buy a copy of The Girl From The Savoy here.

About The Author:

Hazel Gaynor, copyright Deasy Photographic

Hazel Gaynor’s 2014 debut THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME was a NYT and USA Today bestseller and winner of the 2015 RNA Historical Romantic Novel of the Year award. Her second novel A MEMORY OF VIOLETS was selected by WHSmith Travel as a ‘Fresh Talent’ title and was also a NYT and USA Today bestseller.

Hazel is one of nine contributing authors to WWI anthology FALL OF POPPIES – Stories of Love and the Great War. Her third novel, THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY is available now.

Hazel writes a popular guest blog ‘Carry on Writing’ for national Irish writing website writing.ie and also contributes special guest features for the site, interviewing authors such as Philippa Gregory, Kate Mosse, Sebastian Faulks, Cheryl Strayed and Rachel Joyce among others.

Hazel was the recipient of the 2012 Cecil Day Lewis award for Emerging Writers and was selected by Library Journal as one of ten big breakout authors for 2015. Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.

To keep up-to-date with Hazel’s latest news, visit her website www.hazelgaynor.com or her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hazelgaynorbooks

 

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Author: Holly Martin

Published: 22 September 2016
Reviewed: 29 September 2016

5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Bookouture in return for an honest review

 

Description:

This year spend a wonderful Christmas on Juniper Island, where love can melt even the iciest of hearts…

Piper Chesterfield lives a glamorous life travelling the world and reviewing the finest hotels. She calls nowhere home, she works alone and that’s how she likes it. For long ago Piper decided that to protect her heart she should lock it away.

So when Piper’s next assignment brings her to the newly opened Stardust Lake Hotel for the festive season, the last person she expects to face is Gabe Whitaker, the man who broke her heart so completely she could never love again.

But Piper isn’t the only one who has been frozen in time by heartbreak. Gabe hasn’t forgotten the golden-eyed girl who disappeared from his world without a trace.

Now fate has reunited them on Juniper island, can the magic of Christmas heal old wounds? And can this enchanting town be the one place Piper can finally call home?

Curl up with this gorgeously romantic tale and let the glistening snow and the roaring fires of Stardust Lake Hotel get you in the festive spirit this Christmas.

My Thoughts & Review:

Reading any of Holly Martin’s books is like curling up on the sofa with your best friend and catching up, so when I discovered Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky I knew I would need to immediately download a copy.

For fans of the White Cliff Bay series this is a departure from the much loved setting and characters we have come to  know and love, but in turn this does give us some shiny new characters to get to know and a wonderful new setting to dream about.

Piper Chesterfield is once again on Juniper Island, which is part of the Shetland Islands.  She’s there to review the newly opened Stardust Lake Hotel, a winter resort with log cabins, a glass palace and glass igloos.  Unfortunately for Piper, the resort is owned and run by Gabe Whitaker, her childhood best friend and at one point, the love of her life.  For Piper this will be an incredibly hard assignment, Gabe broke her heart when she was 17 but she has to be professional and do what she came to do.
Gabe is just as stunned to see Piper as she is to see him, but he has other concerns to prioritise, his four year old daughter Wren.

The attention to detail in this book is beyond belief, Holly Martin usually pulls out all the stops in her books to make the reader feel utterly immersed in the settings but this book truly goes one step beyond.  The Christmas market that Piper visits needs to become reality.  It sounds completely wonderful, the snow globe shop has to be one of my favourites.  The little details about each of the shops and villagers brings the market alive, transporting the reader to a perfect little Christmas Wonderland.
In all honesty, all of the settings in this book sound magical, Holly Martin knows how to conjure locations that will capture the hearts of her audience.  The hotel is vividly described, the magnificent ice palace, the ice carvings (provided by a character in a previous book), it is all so well written that it sounds real!

The story combines humour (the Shetland ponies immediately spring to mind) and romance effectively.  This is a heart warming read and perfect to start you in the Christmas spirit.  Holly’s writing style has the reader curled up in a cosy embrace with a story that flows well and is a joy to read.

I just need to read  Christmas Under a Starlit Sky next!

You can buy a copy of Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky here.

 

About The Author:

Holly lives in sunny Bedfordshire in a house with round windows. She studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by a even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of her colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years’ service was the moment when she knew she had to escape. She quit her job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, she emerged wide eyed and terrified that she now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. She taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave her a lot of time to plan out her stories and she now writes full time, doing what she loves.

Holly has been writing for 6 years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014.

Follow her on Twitter @hollymartin00

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I’m very excited to welcome you to my stop on Paul Finch’s #Strangers blog tour.  It was published by Avon Books (part of the HarperCollins family) on 22nd September and is available in both electronic and paperback formats from Amazon.

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Description:

Unknown, alone, and fearing for your life.

As PC Lucy Clayburn is about to find out, going undercover is the most dangerous work there is. 

But, on the trail of a prolific female serial killer, there’s no other option – and these murders are as brutal as they come. 

Lucy must step into the line of fire – a stranger in a criminal underworld that butchers anyone who crosses the line. 

And, unknown to Lucy, she’s already treading it…

Always gripping. Always gruesome. Paul Finch will leave fans of Rachel Abbott and MJ Arlidge gasping for more.

My Thoughts & Review:

Shockingly, Strangers is the first book by Paul Finch that I have read, something I will be looking to remedy in the very near future – I’ve looked up the Detective Heckenburg series and will be downloading them at the weekend!

The reader is introduced to Lucy Clayburn, who has served 10 years as a uniform police officer and is keen to get into CID.  However the path to promotion is not as direct as she would have hoped after a mistake she made earlier in her career left her with a huge black mark against her name.  Seeing Operation Clearway as a way to prove her worth to her superiors, Lucy signs up despite the dangers involved.  She is determined to help catch the serial killer before she strikes again.

Refreshingly, the lead character in this crime fiction novel is a young and determined female officer.  It’s nice to deviate from the tried and tested formula of a middle aged male detective, who has issues with alcohol abuse and/or smokes like a chimney, and Lucy’s character works well in this novel.  Her maverick approach makes for a thrilling read, whilst leading her into some of the most dangerous settings.  She is a very determined police officer, but sometimes her enthusiasm can be interpreted as feckless or irresponsible, there are instances where she takes action before being in full possession of the facts.  That said, having a character that acts in this way makes the story more intense for the reader, avidly reading on to see how perilous the situation will become, utterly hooked to find out what will happen next but more importantly, if her cover will be blown.

The clever plotting of the storyline means this is a fast paced and thrilling read.  It’s the sort of book you will find keeps you reading well past bedtime – don’t make the mistake I did, thinking it would be possible to read a few chapters before bed……yes, I ended up reading into the wee hours of the next day!
The violent scenes in the narrative are well written, providing powerful detail about the criminal underworld and it’s hierarchy.  The characters involved in this were all incredibly fascinating (especially the villains), the misdirections in the plot make this a brilliant read – there is so much to keep the reader guessing and all the while Finch sneakily keeps the serial killer well hidden.

I really hope we see more of Lucy Clayburn, we need to know if she ever gets back into CID…..

You can buy a copy of Strangers here.

About The Author:

Paul Finch studied History at Goldsmiths, London, before becoming a cop in the north west of England. He then let his passion for writing allow him to follow a career in journalism. Now a full time writer, he first cut his literary teeth penning episodes of the British TV crime drama, THE BILL, and has written extensively in the field of children’s animation. However, he is probably best known for his work in thrillers and horrors.

His crime debut novel, STALKERS, was a no 1 ebook best seller in 2013 and introduced DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg. This was followed last July 2013 by the sequel, SACRIFICE, and May 2014 by the third in the series, THE KILLING CLUB. The fourth, DEAD MAN WALKING, will follow in November 2014, with the fifth, HUNTED, in February 2015. The Heck series is also to be published in Germany, Poland, Turkey, Hungary, and Japan.

In addition to his Heck novels, Paul has had twelve books and nearly 300 stories and novellas published on both sides of the Atlantic. His first collection, AFTER SHOCKS (Ash-Tree Press), won the British Fantasy Award in 2002, while he won the award again in 2007 for his novella, KID. Later in 2007, he won the International Horror Guild Award for his mid-length story, THE OLD NORTH ROAD. His short novel, CAPE WRATH (Telos), was short-listed for the Bram Stoker Award in 2002, and several other collections of his stories and novellas have been published since, all of them well received by fans and readers. His horror novel, STRONGHOLD, was published by Abaddon Books in 2010, and the same year Pendragon Press published his highly rated festive terror tale, SPARROWHAWK. Paul has also written three DR WHO audio dramas for Big Finish – LEVIATHAN, SENTINELS OF THE NEW DAWN and HEXAGORA, and THRESHOLD, the pilot episode for the DR WHO spin-off series, COUNTER MEASURES. Paul’s DR WHO novel, HUNTER’S MOON was published by BBC Books in 2011.

Paul is no stranger to film either, having written scripts for several horror movies. Two of these, SPIRIT TRAP and THE DEVIL’S ROCK, were released in 2005 and 2011 respectively, while his short story THE BELFRIES, is currently being adapted in Hollywood, and his movie script WAR WOLF is under development by Amber Entertainment.

Wearing an editor’s hat, Paul is also responsible for the TERROR TALES series from Gray Friar Press, a collection of ghost and horror anthologies exploring the folklore, history and geography of the various regions of Britain.

Paul Finch lives in Lancashire, UK, with his wife Cathy and his children, Eleanor and Harry.

For Paul’s blog go to www.paulfinch-author.blogspot.co.uk
For twitter follow Paul – @paulfinchauthor

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for some interesting posts by Paul as well as more about #Strangers

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blog-tour-buttonI am delighted to be joined by Bex aka @NinjaBookSwap to speak about her latest internet based venture, the Ninja Book Box and the importance of ‘community’ as part of the project blog tour.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Ninja Book Box project, or would like to speak to Bex please head over to Twitter or alternatively, there is a blog page for the Book Box where relevant information will be updated in due course.

Without further waffle from me, I’ll hand over to the bookish mastermind behind this all……

Community

Hello I’m Bex, I usually blog at An Armchair by the Sea and run several internet-enabled projects which aim to connect people, most noticeably the Ninja Book Swap. This post is part of the blog tour for my newest project, Ninja Book Box. It’s a quarterly box of bookish goodness featuring an independently published book from any genre plus gifts and extras to help you immerse yourself in the world of the book. It was massively inspired and facilitated by the online communities that I belong to.

Community is an interesting word. Its technical definition is “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common” and in our daily lives most of us probably belong to several communities. Personally I’m part of my neighbourhood and local area community, the community of allotmenteers on our allotment site, my church community, the community of preschool parents, users of my local library and my workplace community as well as others I’ve missed, I’m sure. Online I’m part of the book blogging community and also several communities surrounding the various projects I’m involved in, most noticeably for the book swap that I run.

There’s a lot of media attention focused on how people don’t talk to their neighbours anymore and how communities in the traditional sense don’t really exist, and while I think it’s probably true for a lot of us that we don’t chat over the garden fence with our neighbours (although I definitely know people who still do!) I don’t think it’s necessarily true or helpful to say that communities no longer exist, when you only have to look around you to see that they very much do, but maybe in different ways than we’re used to.

When I decided to launch Ninja Book Box it was primarily to help promote and share the love for another community that often doesn’t get the attention it deserves (although it does also have a lot of very vocal supporters!); the independent publishing community here in the UK. I read an interesting article while writing this where the owner of Libreria, the new London bookshop argued that creative people need to break out of their own communities and interact with each other in order to generate new ideas, and I fully support the concept.

The point I’m trying to make is how important it is to have people around you. Without people to encourage, support and facilitate us it would be very difficult for most of us to do anything. We function as part of the world and we can make the world a better place by supporting things we love. The links between us can reach a very long way, and the internet is such an incredible tool for this. It makes it so easy to connect with people doing almost anything, anywhere in the world. I’ve had so much support for this project from the community I belong to online that’s come out of book blogging, and organising various projects including swaps and bookshop crawls, and they’ve brought it to the attention of people I’d not encountered before who are now also part of that community of support. When I talk about support I don’t just mean money, but also support with promotion of the project and support of me personally with encouragement and large amounts of virtual tea and hugs when things get rough. Community is key.

Any time I embark on one of my crazy ideas I’m struck by how important it is for us to connect with each other. Through the difficulties of anxiety and other issues the internet provides a space for us to do that. For a long time after I moved across the country I used my internet community as a substitute for being active in my local communities, but now I’m learning that the combination of both is important. Also that you can bring internet communities into real life because when you know you have something in common it’s so much easier to talk! Over the last couple of years I’ve met so many online friends in real life and it’s been amazing, you just have to take the plunge!*

Being part of such a brilliant community is such a privilege and getting to support other people in their crazy, brave, excellent endeavours is just as great as having them support yours! If you’d like to know more about Ninja Bok Box please head over to the website. You can also order the November ‘Slightly Surreal’ box by backing the Kickstarter, or take your chances with the giveaway below!

*Of course, always be safe. Don’t meet anyone in a secluded place, always tell someone where you’re going etc. Generally though if someone were trying to pretend to be someone other than they were I doubt they’d keep a blog for years and post about their personal lives.

And being the lovely person that Bex is, she’s offering you the chance to win a Ninja Book Box via a Rafflecopter giveaway – it’s open internationally!
If you’ve already backed the Kickstarter you can still enter and redeem the prize as an extra box (it might make the perfect Christmas present for the book lover in your life!) or alternatively you can opt to have your February box for free – can’t say fairer than that eh?

Thanks for that Bex, very interesting points you make there about how it’s important to have the support both online and offline and how they bring encouragement.  As a member of the online book blogging community and having participated in previous projects you’ve run I can honestly say I’m honoured to count you as a friend, peer and much respected advisor.

Don’t forget to check out the other blogs on the tour, each one is a fantastic and enjoyable stop!

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The Last Dance

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Description:

American born Prima Ballerina Georgina Fairly made a mistake that could destroy her. Saving her career means selling her soul to the Russian government. Now a spy who uses her body to lure men and secure their secrets, Georgina is tasked with seducing Roman Zakharov, the most dangerous Oligarch in Russia.

Roman Zakharov a man with a past as ugly as his disfigured face. An assassination attempt left him horribly burned, but the scars go deeper than the frightening exterior. Jaded and cruel, Roman lets Georgina into his world but only to punish her and teach the pretty dancer that no one crosses Roman Zakharov. He will show her what it means to be used. And he will teach her to beg.

You can buy a copy of  The Last Dance here.

About the author:

American born Kierney Scott, lives in Edinburgh, Scotland with her kilt wearing husband and their daughter. When she is not writing, she is reading or drinking tea or spending far too much time on social media. She is fluent in Spanish, and by that she means she knows all the words to La Bamba. She loves hearing from readers. You can contact her on Facebook or Twitter.

Website: http://kierneyscott.com/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/Kierney_S

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Author: Helen Pollard

Published: 26 August 2016
Reviewed: 25 September 2016

4.5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Bookouture in return for an honest review

 

Description:

Blue skies, new love, and a glass of Bordeaux . . . what could possibly go wrong?

When Emmy Jamieson leaves her life behind and moves to La Cour des Roses, a gorgeous guesthouse amidst vineyards in France, everything is resting on her success as the new guesthouse manager.

Looming in the calendar is the biggest booking ever, when the entire eccentric, demanding Thomson family will descend for a golden wedding anniversary. With airbeds on the floor and caravans in the garden, La Cour des Roses will be bursting at the seams.

Emmy knows she’s up to the challenge, especially with the support of the gorgeous Alain, the half-French, half-English, caramel-eyed accountant. But she hadn’t counted on a naked, sleepwalking travel blogger, or the return of owner Rupert’s venomous ex-wife Gloria.

Gloria has a few things to say about Emmy’s new role, Rupert’s finances, and the unsuspecting Alain, which send everybody reeling. Just when Emmy can see a future for herself of endless sunshine, true love and laughter, are her dreams about to be ripped at the seams?

My Thoughts & Review:

Having read and enjoyed The Little French Guesthouse I was delighted to read this sequel and to catch up Rupert and Emmy.  One of the nicest things about this book is that it picks up right where the first book left off, meaning the reader can instantly continue with a wonderful story and equally wonderful characters.  This can be read as a standalone book, there is enough information to give the back stories however, with writing as lovely this you really shouldn’t deprive yourself of book 1.

Without recapping book 1 or retelling the story of this book, I will say that nothing goes as plain sailing for Emmy as it should.  Catastrophes to be averted, outlandish behaviour to mitigate and the return of Emmy’s nemesis are just some of the challenges to be faced.  The story is funny, endearing, entertaining and gives the reader that ‘feel good factor’.

Once again, Helen Pollard has created a story that pulls the reader in, wraps them up in the beautiful French countryside and makes them feel like they’re at home.  The descriptions of the settings feel so familiar, almost as if they were physical memories from a holiday at La Cour des Roses rather than just remembering from the previous book.
As previously, the characters are fantastically created, each one has their own charm and appeal (or lack thereof in certain cases!).

All too often with a sequel the story stalls, the book is never as good as the first and you feel like you’ve wasted your time reading it, but this sequel swiftly avoids those pitfalls, this is a wonderful book.

You can buy a copy of Return to the Little French Guesthouse here.

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