#BlogTour -The RingMaster by Vanda Symon

#BlogTour #BookReview The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon

Series: Sam Shephard 2

My Rating:🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩

Pages: 320

Publisher: OrendaBooks

Available: 25th April 2019

Genre: Crime / Fiction

ISBN: 978-1-912374-65-6

EPUB: 978-1-912374-66-3

Price: £8.99

HUGE thanks to Anne Cater of #Randomthingstours for my spot on this blogtour as well as Karen from OrendaBooks and the Author Vanda Symon for my copy of this brilliant book! I absolutely LOVED it, easily in my top 5 this year!

Blurb:

Death is stalking the South Island of New Zealand… Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…

Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…

Rich with atmosphere, humour and a dark, shocking plot, The Ringmaster marks the return of passionate, headstrong police officer, Sam Shephard, in the next instalment of Vanda Symon’s bestselling series.

My Thoughts:

When I picked this book up I had no idea that it was the second to a series, and by halfway I had figured it out and gone hunting to buy the first, for a few reasons!

First, I hate to read things out of order, I find it really stressful to realise that I have. Secondly, I was LOVING the story so much! In fact, I loved it enough that I had to finish the book before starting book one, and I then reread this one. Yup. Loved it enough to read it again a couple of days after finishing it haha. Thirdly… The Characters do mention situations from the previous book, not in detail, and not enough to spoil much of anything for the first book, but just enough to have me intrigued and needing to know what everyone was talking about.

But this is for the Ringmaster, so I suppose I should explain some particular whys for THAT story alone.

I adore Sam Shephard. I love the fact that she isn’t already a shining detective, in fact, she is trying to BE. A detective and is damned good at it, and yet there are hurdles. Superiors who do not want her to have the credit or see her rise, and this made the story that bit more gripping. I loved seeing the interactions and hurdles she went over in trying to learn and progress. I also loved the fact that this shows a very different outlook on how things can be in life, it shows the way some have to struggle to be noticed not because they lack talent, but because others don’t want that talent to be seen brighter than their own. A sad truth, but done very well. For myself, this honest look at human nature made the story feel that much more realistic.

The fact that this then fed into the scenarios created by the storyline and murders along the way was very very cleverly done. The situations and conversations that happened because of jealousy etc made me laugh, either because of the way Sam replied, or just situations generally. Sam faces a lot of attitude about a woman being a good murder detective or general dislike of her as a person, but her reactions there are what make the story. She is SO funny! I giggled my way through the book, much to the confusion of my boyfriend… I ended up explaining why a murder story had me in hysterics a few times.

The who did it element, the crime story? Wow. Cleverly interlinked with everything in the book! I loved the fact that a few traditional preconceptions and prejudices were seen in this, the stereotypical attitudes of “blame the travellers” and “blame the circus” for the crimes happening locally. The Characters ways of dealing with these, with the social tensions and juggling to do their respective jobs whilst navigating potential arguments and avoid giving offence made it all very plausible. I think the Author has done a wonderful job of giving a very real view of life in the forces! We see the less glamorous and less publicised steps to soling a crime, as well as the tensions and disagreements that go alongside the role.

Overall, an brilliantly written book that is fun, gripping and keeps you guessing! Absolutely a story I will return to AGAIN in the near future!

About The Author:

Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

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#BlogTour from AvonBooksUK – Sleep by C. L. Taylor

#Bookreview #BlogTour Sleep by C. L. Taylor

My Rating: 🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩

Pages: 368

Publisher: Avon Books

Available: 4 April 2019

Genre: Fiction / Crime / Thriller

Blurb:

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna.

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

Someone’s going to sleep and never wake up…

The million-copy bestseller is back in her darkest, twistiest book to date. Read it if you dare!

My Thoughts:

This was so much fun to get stuck into! I hadn’t read any of the Authors work previously, but had heard so much about them that I couldn’t resist reading this. I am so incredibly glad that I did, because it was gorgeously entertaining!

From the opening scenes I was hooked. This isn’t a story that gradually draws you into the Characters emotions, instead you are thrown in with a CRASH, thrown into the story in a way that is masterfully and full of emotions. Despite the fast start, it was easy to get to know everyone, in fact I found that it made engaging with the main character that bit easier.

I’ll be honest here, I was worried that I had such high expectations that I would end up feeling disappointed, but actually I loved every page. Cally has such an easy flowing writing style that it didn’t matter what sort of mood I was in, I found I could sink into the story happily every day. Very easy to read, Characters that are different as are the situations we are given.

I didn’t have a clue who had “done it” until the revelation, and that surprised me immensely! I loved the fact that each time I thought I had it sussed, something would happen to completely throw me off, make me question what I thought and wind up thinking it was somebody else.

Being very sleepless frequently (due to toddler), I could empathise with the MC who is struggling to sleep. She is trying to figure out what is going on whilst battling insomnia, and faces accusations herself because of her lack of sleep. But be warned. This story has a habit of creating insomnia 😂 I was awake until VERRRRY late reading. That is, until my toddler woke and told me to turn the light off 🤣

If you’re after something to sink into, that’s easy to read but rich with emotion and imagery, surprising twists and turns from start to end. Then you really NEED to read this ASAP! I will certainly be reading more of the authors work, and since reading this have grabbed a few in anticipation of more fast paced brilliance!

About The Author:

C.L. Taylor is a Sunday Times bestselling author. Her psychological thrillers have sold over a million copies in the UK alone, been translated into over twenty languages, and optioned for television. C.L. Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and son.

The Revenge Trail by A A Abbott

#BookReview #Blogtour The Revenge Trail by A A Abbott

My Rating: 🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩

Series: The Trail

Pages: 183

Publisher: Perfect City Press

Available: 30th September 2018

Genre: Crime Fiction / Thriller / Fiction

Buy Link

https://amzn.to/2Hy04Gb

Blurb:

VODKA TO DIE FOR…

Kat’s craft vodka brand makes it big, but a crazed murderer’s on her trail.

Glamorous blonde Kat White makes the best vodka in the world. At last, her craft vodka from Birmingham is going places, while the mother who abandoned her faces financial ruin.

So does vodka salesman Marty Bridges. Kat doesn’t trust him, but she has to save his business or hers will go under too.

That’s not her biggest problem. Crazed murderer Shaun Halloran wants to kill her, even if it means breaking out of jail to take his revenge.

Kat dreams of love, riches and success in her life – but shouldn’t she just focus on staying alive?

With twists, tension, secrets and suspense – “The Revenge Trail” is a gripping crime thriller that will draw you into Kat’s exciting world.

My Thoughts:

This is the final book in the series and I have had so much fun getting to know each of the Characters!

There is such a variety if personalities mixed into these short punchy stories, each individual having their own distinct character to become, to get to know and wander through the tales with.

This final instalment brings all those familiar faces back together in a way that’s fun and exciting, and in true Abbott fashion, keeps you guessing about the situations created from one page to another. You can never be certain what way this Author will take the story, how situations will turn out in the end or how people will react.

Despite that, you would think that having several characters resurface would be confusing. But for myself they were so very different to one another that it was a simple thing to recall who was who and what their connection was to the story that was unfolding within the pages.

Kat is such a brilliant Character, full of compassion and attitude, determination and grit, she is so wonderfully entertaining! Easily a Favourite character for me!

I loved seeing all my favourite Characters again, though perhaps not always because I like the individuals as people, rather in some cases I was thoroughly entertained by my dislike of them and their attitudes.

This is the perfect series if you enjoy a fast paced thriller that will keep you guessing, with memorable character and short snappy storylines that weave together perfectly. I will have to reread soon, I already miss Kat!

About The Author:

English thriller writer AA Abbott’s real name is Helen Blenkinsop, but like JK Rowling, she wanted to . She loves city life, having lived and worked in London, Birmingham and Bristol. Her crime thrillers, set in Birmingham and London, sizzle with suspense, twists and the evils of office politics.

 

Helen’s books are available in a dyslexia-friendly large print as well as standard paperback and Kindle editions.

 

Her Trail Series follows the fortunes of glamorous blonde Kat White, a party girl who finds her purpose making vodka, shrewd businessman Marty Bridges, and manipulative East End crime lord Shaun Halloran

The Beautiful Side of the Moon by Leye Adenle

#BookReview #BlogTour The beautiful side of the moon by Leye Adenle

My Rating: 🤩🤩🤩🤩

Pages: 221

Publisher: Hoatzin

Available: 21st February 2019

Genre: Science Fiction / Fantasy / Speculative Fiction

With thanks to Anne Cater of RandomThingsTours, the Author Leye and publishing company Hoatzin for my copy of this book! Certainly a new perspective that gets you thinking, I loved every page!

Blurb:

Marking an exciting new departure by award-winning Nigerian author Leye Adenle (Easy Motion Tourist, When Trouble Sleeps), The Beautiful Side of the Moon raises an entirely unexpected and intriguing question – what would happen if God went on holiday?

In order to get a better understanding of what it’s like to be human, and to taste humanity’s joys and sorrows, God decides to have a hol- iday as a human being. During the course of his time off, though, he completely forgets that he’s God, which leads to some utterly unpre- dictable outcomes…

A delightful, playful, thoughtful adventure in speculative fiction by one of Nigeria’s most exciting new writers.

My Thoughts:

This was so much fun to read! It had so many things going for it, and was certainly that bit different. I adore Fantasy books, especially those with a bit of a difference.

I really enjoyed this authors writing style, which had that little bit of a hint of new. There’s just that extra something to the way the story is told that makes you fall in love, with the tone of the story, the flow and everything between.

The characters were certainly unique, and at times hilarious. There were so many moments the story made me take a step away and have a bit of a think, a little surprise to the story that made me smile. Nothing in this book went the way that I thought it would, and that Is always a good thing!

I don’t want to say too much more because I feel like this is the type of book that is even better the less you know about it! Sometimes it’s possible to tell a little bit without ruining the story, and that is true here, but for myself it just feels the sort of book that has so many hidden gems, you really are best going in without any more knowledge than the blurb gives, and I promise it will be SO worth it!

Fast pace and sure to keep you intrigued, this was a fun and highly entertaining read that I am sure I will return to in the future!

About The Author:

Leye is the winner of the first ever Prix Marianne in 2016, and is a Nigerian writer living and working in London. His short story, ‘The Assassination’, in the anthology Sunshine Noir, was a finalist for the 2017 CWA Short Story Dagger award. Leye comes from a family of writers, the most famous of whom (to date) was his grandfather, Oba Adeleye Adenle I, a former king of Oshogbo in South West Nigeria.

Dignity by Alys Conran

#BookReview #Blogtour Dignity by Alys Conran

My Rating: 🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩

Pages: 384

Publisher: Weidenfeld and Nicholson

Available: 4th April 2019

Genre: Fiction / India

with thanks to Tracy Fenton for my spot on this BlogTour, the Author Alys, and Publisher Weidenfeld and Nicholson for my copy of this gorgeous book! Full of wonderfully emotive scenes and gorgeous descriptions, it is certainly one to grab ASAP!

Blurb:

Magda is a former scientist with a bad temper and a sharp tongue, living alone in a huge house by the sea. She gets through carers at a rate of knots. Until Susheela arrives.

The two women strike up an unlikely friendship: Magda’s no-nonsense approach to life turns out to be an unexpected source of strength for Susheela; and Susheela’s Bengali heritage brings back memories of Magda’s childhood in colonial India and of her mother Evelyn’s struggle to fit in within the suffocating structure of the Raj’s ruling class.

Evelyn, Magda and Susheela. Three women searching for a place to belong, somewhere to call home. Three lives connected by a legacy of resentment, blood, guilt and hope.

My Thoughts:

There are always books out there that claim to be different to everything else, to be that little bit unique, that little bit individual. I am constantly surprised to find that this is true, and find myself wondering how Authors can consistently come up with something gripping and beautiful. Conran has certainly created another.

The story follows three women, their lives and interactions weaving together wonderfully to give richly described scenarios that pull a range of emotions from the reader.

They each have their very individual and distinct personalities and their own histories to come to terms with. Each person in this story is dealing with something in life, but it is how they come together and build something from this that is truly wonderful.

Three very different people in very different lives that just mesh, and then things start to get complicated. They live in a place where it isn’t always easy to befriend whomever you want, to hold to that friendship and support one another, and yet they hold to it anyway.

I adored the ways in which the Author has woven in issues of social class and acceptance throughout, and yet has also shown how important strength of character can be. Both in reality, and in story telling. The characters in this story go through a lot, and yet they remain true to her they are, and that is no small thing.

Magda and Susheela are two very different women, who have many troubles following them, and yet somehow they manage to come together to handle that, and two strong women become two incredible women. They are very different, and I love that although their friendship is strong in many ways, their difference make this less than picture perfect. But despite this, both Characters are endearing, and they work things out. Add in the story of Evelyn, and this is a book full of emotion and soul.

Full of gorgeously written scenes, I think this is one of my favourite books for a look at how two very different people can build a strong bond, and that differences can make you stronger. Seeing them work together and come to terms with their lives in their own ways was wonderful, and this is certainly a powerful and compelling story. Magda and Susheelas pasts are troubled, and reading about them is heart-wrenching at times, yet beautifully honest as to how life can be for some.

From the gorgeous cover to the wonderful writing contained within, this is a book that will keep you enthralled long after the final words.

About The Author:

ALYS CONRAN’s first novel PIGEON won the Wales Book of the Year Award 2017, the Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award, The Wales Arts Review People’s Choice Award, was shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize and longlisted for the Author’s Choice First Novel Award. Her short fiction has been placed in the Bristol Short Story Prize and the Manchester Fiction Prize. She also publishes poetry, short stories, creative non-fiction, creative essays and literary translations.

Originally from north Wales, she spent several years in Edinburgh and Barcelona before returning to the area to live and write. She speaks Welsh and English as first languages, and also speaks Spanish and Catalan. She has worked as a youth worker, teacher, and in community arts and is now Lecturer in Creative Writing at Bangor. Her late father, also a writer, was born in Kharagpur, Bengal.

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

#BlogTour #BookReview The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe (Translation by Lilit Zekulin Thwaites)

My Rating: 🤩🤩🤩🤩

Pages: 432

Publisher: Ebury Press

Available: 4th April 2019

Genre: History / Auschwitz / Holocaust

With thanks to Tracy Fenton for my spot on this BlogTour, and of course the Author Antonio, Translator Lilit and Publishing Company Ebury Press for my copy of this brilliant book!

Blurb:

For readers of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Choice: this is the story of the smallest library in the world – and the most dangerous.

‘It wasn’t an extensive library. In fact, it consisted of eight books and some of them were in poor condition. But they were books. In this incredibly dark place, they were a reminder of less sombre times, when words rang out more loudly than machine guns…’

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the ‘living books’ – prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be ‘borrowed’ to educate the children in the camp.

But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children’s block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor…

My Thoughts:

When I picked this up I wasn’t certain what to expect. I had heard a lot about previous books written by other Authors on similar subjects, and they often felt quite flat to me. As an area I have long had an interest in, and having been to Auschwitz to learn more and try to understand, I tend to have high expectations of anybody attempting to recreate the situations of the time.

I would say that I enjoyed this book, but I am not certain thats an appropriate word considering the topic, but what I will say is that the tale intrigued me. I wanted to learn about Dita, to understand what went on and why. I found myself more curious as the story went, although perhaps not always comfortable as to the topic. But for myself, if I felt comfortable throughout such a book I would feel disappointed.

The book is slow initially, but this is a heavy topic to write about, and I felt that the Author gave ample time to put the reader in the peoples shoes, so to speak. It gave time to truly understand, to immerse yourself in their lives an times, to make you understand that but better how life may have felt. We can never fully appreciate it. But the Author has certainly done a good job of getting us close to an approximation.

I would advise you not to go into this expecting it to be a “Disneyfied” tale of events. It isn’t prettied up, it isn’t flowery and fun to read. The emotions are raw, brutally so at times, they’re all encompassing and I had times I had to put the book down and walk away, but I personally think that is precisely the reaction readers should have to this topic.

If you have an interest at all in the Holocaust and want to read something that is a bit different in perspective whilst giving you a glimpse into the harsh realities, then you should certainly read this.

About The Author:

Antonio Iturbe lives in Spain, where he is both a novelist and a journalist. In researching The Librarian of Auschwitz, he interviewed Dita Kraus, the real-life librarian of Auschwitz.

Lilit Zekulin Thwaites is an award-winning literary translator. After thirty years as an academic at La Trobe University in Australia, she retired from teaching and now focuses primarily on her ongoing translation and research projects.

Dita Kraus was born in Prague. In 1942, when Dita was thirteen years old , she and her parents were deported to Ghetto Theresienstadt and later to Auschwitz,. Neither of Dita’s parents survived. After the war Dita married the author Otto B. Kraus. They emigrated to Israel in 1949, where they both worked as teachers They had three children. Since Otto’s death in 2000 , Dita lives alone in Netanya. She has four grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Despite the horrors of the concentration camps, Dita has kept her positive approach to life.

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

#BlogTour #BookReview Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

My Rating: 🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩

Pages: 300

Publisher: Orenda

Available: 18 April 2019

Genre: Crime / Thriller/ Fiction

With thanks to the Publisher Karen at Orenda Books, the Author Louise and also to Anne Cater at #RandomThingsTours for my spot on this BlogTour! I enjoyed this book so much I couldn’t resist sharing my Review!!

Blurb:

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after twelve years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father … What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof. Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything… With echoes of the chilling Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…

My Thoughts:

When I picked this book up one morning, I wasn’t intending to read as much as I did, thinking that I would read a few chapters bit by bit through the day. The next thing I knew, I was at the very surprising conclusion and closing the book, realising how long I had left my Daughter to nap.

It was meant to be a power-nap. I now have a wide awake 3yo, and I don’t even mind, because I loved every single page of this book!

Having read and adored The Lion Tamer Who Lost, I wasn’t certain what to expect with the Genre change, Romantic storyline to Crime is a BIG change that rarely goes well. That being said, with how powerful the previous book was I knew it would be good, and good it was. Jaw droppingly, gut wrenchingly, and addictively good.

I love how this Author managed to make you feel about every Character in her story, there are no Characters you don’t care about, yourself invested in them all, glued to the actions and reactions that flow through the story. The plot has you hooked, reeling you in time and again. Oh, you wanted a day to iron…? Nah, you need to read this. Who needs smartly pressed clothes anyway 😂

The writing style seems relaxed and calm, and it is, kind of. In a style that’s easy to read, Louise weaves a tale that you can read quickly whilst sitting calmly, a nice cup of tea, sandwiches… but your heart is doing the Samba and your mind is reeling from the story’s changes of direction.

I really hope that Louise writes more Crime/Thriller style books, and SOON! This was brilliantly done, and the alternating perspectives gave a very different take on the story being told, giving more insights into the people we meet along the way.

The opening and following story is so unique, very cleverly handled, and scarily believable! Once again, Louise has managed to create a story that leaves a powerful and lasting impression, I finished the book several hours ago and can’t stop thinking about my favourite scenes! This is definitely one I will be recommending, and reading again very soon!

About The Author:

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.