Debt to Pay by Reed Farrel Coleman – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

All is quiet in Paradise, except for a spate of innocuous vandalism.
Good thing, too, because Jesse Stone is preoccupied with the women in his life, both past and present. As his ex-wife, Jenn, is about to marry a Dallas real-estate tycoon, Jesse isn’t too sure his relationship with former FBI agent Diana Evans is built to last. But those concerns get put on the back burner when a major Boston crime boss is brutally murdered. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Jesse suspects it’s the work of Mr. Peepers, a psychotic assassin who has caused trouble for Jesse in the past.
Peepers has long promised revenge against the Mob, Jesse, and Suit for their roles in foiling one of his hits – and against Jenn as well. And though Jesse and Jenn have long parted ways, Jesse still feels responsible for her safety. Jesse and Diana head to Dallas for the wedding and, along with the tycoon’s security team, try to stop Peepers before the bill comes due. With Peepers toying with the authorities as to when and where he’ll strike, Jesse is up against the wall. Still, there’s a debt to pay and blood to be spilled to satisfy it. But whose blood, and just how much?

My Review

When I first picked up this novel I hadn’t realized that it was the 15th in a series or that the author had taken over the series after Robert Parker had passed away. I was a little worried about not being able to follow the plotline but I didn’t need to be, this book works perfectly well as a standalone.
Jesse and his colleagues are faced with a head on collision with a face from the past who is determined to get revenge. Mr. Peepers has no compassion, no morals and will destroy anybody who crosses him. Jesse discovers that his ex wife is in danger and feels the need to attend her wedding. Neither him or his current partner want to go but feel they have no other option.
The people they have to spend time with in Dallas are all wealthy, all-powerful and not very likeable. Jesse is out of his depth and starts to drink again. Alcoholism has been an issue for him in the past but with the problems that Mr. Peepers is creating it makes life bearable. And it helps him cope with Jenn. Mr. Peepers is an evil and cruel man. One of the strongest parts of the novel was when he abducted a total stranger and made her suffer just so he could punish her. In some ways I think his character was the strongest one in the book. He was definitely one who was a mystery and  he was the one who I would like to find out more about. The way he controlled everybody, even though he wasn’t always seen was chilling.
It’s not an easy book to review without giving away plot. There is a lot of action and danger. Not all of the focus is on Jesse, there are many others in the novel who are at risk and I found the ending unexpected.
I have read novels previously where an author has taken over an existing series. There will always be those who have concerns but I find it’s a way of introducing a series of books to a new audience. I enjoyed this book a lot and will read the earlier book in the series.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

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The Girl Who Came Back by Kerry Wilkinson – Blog Blitz.

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About the Book

Thirteen years ago Olivia Adams went missing. Now she’s back… or is she?

When six-year-old Olivia Adams disappeared from her back garden, the small community of Stoneridge was thrown into turmoil. How could a child vanish in the middle of a cosy English village?

Thirteen years on and Olivia is back. Her mother is convinced it’s her but not everyone is sure. If this is the missing girl, then where has she been – and what happened to her on that sunny afternoon?

If she’s an imposter, then who would be bold enough to try to fool a child’s own mother – and why?

Then there are those who would rather Olivia stayed missing. The past is the past and some secrets must remain buried.

My Review

Whilst I have read the Jessica Daniels series and enjoyed them this is the first standalone novel that I have read by Kerry Wilkinson. And it is good, I will go as far as saying it is excellent. It is one that had me biting my nails with anticipation over what would be revealed.
When Olivia returns home to the village she was abducted from thirteen years earlier she gets a mixed response. Obviously, her parents are delighted along with family friends but there are also those who question her intent and her story. Some of the tales she tells about the life she had are a little extravagant and I was unsure at times whether to believe her, or if she wasn’t Olivia why was she insisting she was?
This was a book I raced through. Its mainly set in the modern day but there are sporadic chapters from Olivia’s childhood. These reveal what happened to her, how she was let down and how she fought back. They show a growing independence as well as a growing need to be loved. At times, they are sinister and upsetting. Some of the characters are intimidating, and  not just with Olivia. There are many people in the village who were controlled and threatened by a couple of people.
One of the things that Olivia did left me a little sickened and made me question her character but when all was revealed, I understood more why she did it. Even though it was something I struggle to accept.
A great read and a reminder that I need to read the books that I haven’t read by this author. With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

TGWCB - Blog Tour

The Blood of Kings by Angela King – extract.

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About the Book

1559. A girl arrives in London to search for her brother.
Aalia, an awkward, arrogant teenager plans to bring William to his senses, until she discovers that both their lives are based on a lie.
Aalia must unravels a web of secrets but has the weight of her past to contend with.
Courageous and undisciplined, Aalia gradually comes to terms with the truth that William, her brother, has royal blood.
Deciding to undermine the men who want to use him as a pawn, Aalia must negotiate a world where secrecy arms the powerful. But unwilling to ask for anyone’s help she is forced into making a fateful decision.
Who can she trust when everyone around her is plotting? Is the truth really something worth dying for?
This epic story of secrets and betrayal paints a vivid picture of Elizabethan England and asks questions that span beyond the test of time.

Extract.

LONDON, JUNE 1559

Aalia came in June, when the tides were low, and the city reeked of vermin. Brought on a caravel commissioned by the Company of St. Thomas, she meant to betray a promise.

The caravel called Cornucopia flounced up the Thames like a harlot, bloused with bright-painted sails and long, shimmering pennants. As the river-pilot boarded at Greenwich, a band of minstrels started hammering out tunes from her deck, none vaguely virtuous, and while the gaudy little ship wove her way towards the Pool, barely a wherryman working the Thames wasn’t tempted to raise his oars and let the grafted labours of everyday skip to a different beat. For the devil owns all the best tunes.

Rumour ran ahead of the tide. Before Cornucopia could reach her final mooring, merchants gathered at the Foreign Wharf, eager to discover what St. Thomas had brought to trade. A boat from the East was bound to carry barrels of spices or pepper, or bolts of fine silk brocades for the spendthrift ladies at court. Nothing bad ever came out of India.

After Cornucopia nestled against the quay, the ribald music played on. Turning heads, distracting souls, drawing easy legend. Two figures swathed in clotted cloaks watched from the caravel’s deck, bare heads bent together under the timid English sun.

‘You’ve stirred up a festival, Aalia.’ Tall, fine-featured, the gentleman nodded his raven head and smiled. ‘Is your voice wrung dry with singing?’

Hugging her thin bones, the girl looked away.

‘I can bleat ‘til dawn, if necessary, Georgiou, but I wonder at this audience? We’ve barely stirred their stolid English souls. I fear we’re hosting a wake.’

‘Did you ever see such a city?’ He pointed above the wooden shore, to the spires and towers, the clustered roofs and pied buildings.

‘I like Venice better. The air’s too sombre here.’ Her gilded head didn’t turn.

‘They say the English smell of fear, but Piatro says that’s because their clothes are sweated and stale.’ Georgiou laughed, pinching his nose.

‘Well, it can’t possibly come from dancing… who can resist such a jig? But, see… they’re so boned and padded, they can barely bend, never mind hop, skip, and jump.’

‘That’s actually the second encore.’ Georgiou ignored her pouting. ‘Though it will hardly please the London Master of St. Thomas. Padruig warned we must creep into England like mice.’

‘He confuses us with rats, another good reason we shouldn’t bide by his rules.’ She tightened her boyish hands into fists. ‘Why hide? We need to be noticed, or else we shall fail.’

Georgiou leaned across the rail, unwilling to soothe her spite. When they left India, he’d dragged her on-board, spitting like a cobra. Despite everything the fool had done, Aalia kept faith with her brother. William, the golden boy. He’d been Georgiou’s idol, too, except the measure of his betrayal cut him to the heart.

A pennant grazed his face, and he turned from gazing at the city, nodding instead at the shuttered hatch which let below deck. ‘Piatro’s anxious to know how you persuaded our good Captain to raise every flag and banner in Cornucopia’s store?’

‘Bribery. It oils the wheels of avarice.’

‘That old river-pilot warned we’d have to pay a fine for raising pennants we’ve no right to. He thinks we’re probably pirates.’

‘Horrible little man… officious true, spiteful yes, but lacking the artillery for a proper battle. I wonder if William has come.’

Georgiou ran his memory across the faces lining the wharf. ‘Your brother made clear he didn’t wish to be followed. He’ll hardly come to greet you.’

‘Verily… isn’t that a lovely English word… I’ll catch him by and by.’

Cornucopia’s Captain bellowed out orders, as ropes crashed and pulleys creaked, and the last torn sail crashed stiffly onto deck, carpeting the busy troubadours. In a sudden warp of silence, bare- footed sailors crisscrossed the decks, nodding deferentially as they passed between the grey-cloaked servants of St. Thomas.

In Cornucopia’s comfortable belly, two fellow travellers ignored the banded celebrations announcing a new port of call. Piatro Kopernik, silk-tongued merchant of Danzig, was so imbibed with India, he assumed Mughal style, and Andreas Steynbergh, owl-eyed doctor and alchemist, who rarely ventured anywhere without the promise of a new discovery. They’d remained in their quarters because Piatro was sick, too sick to move from his bunk, and Andreas served as a willing nurse, Aalia’s moods being better viewed at a distance. A gifted child but difficult. Sometimes, when she sang, her voice held a majesty that could charm a lion from its lair. God willing, this time it would.

Draped across the bunk lay a dull woollen cloak. Andreas pulled at its folds until he found the simple, black cross which defined the ancient Company of St. Thomas. In their name, his good friend, Otar Miran, had commissioned their Portuguese captain and twenty experienced hands, promising a generous dividend should they happen to drop anchor in London before mid-summer’s dawn. They’d succeeded with one day in hand, the mission being urgent and St. Thomas’s pockets deep. But when they’d left India at the tail-end of November, they had no way of knowing Mary, Queen of England, was already dead, never having given birth to an heir. Nor did they know her half-sister, Elizabeth, was already crowned in her place. While a season of feting drained every tavern of its living, Cornucopia raced frantically towards England, because St. Thomas’s most dangerous secret was about to be revealed, and the name of that secret was William.

BLOG TOUR (6)

House of Spines by Michael Malone – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

A terrifying psychological thriller cum Gothic mystery, as a young man with mental health issues inherits an isolate mansion, where all is not as it seems…
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 it seems has been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, it seems 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…

My Review

House of Spines is completely different to A Suitable Lie, the author’s previous novel and demonstrates that Michael Malone has more than one string to his bow. It is a dark thriller with a gothic slant that is at times creepy and  has an unreliable narrator. I like these types of novels a lot, and I imagine that they are difficult to write – this book does not disappoint.
Ran is very surprised when he discovers that he has inherited a mansion complete with huge library on the outskirts of Glasgow. He had never known any of his mother’s family, and never knew about their wealth. One of the few conditions he has to abide by is that the library stays intact. Initially he is overwhelmed and very happy but he soon starts to suffer. There is something unhealthy about the house, his mental state is under strain and it doesn’t take long for him to feel under pressure.
Firstly. I loved the title. The Spines are not human spines, they are the spines of the novels in the library. I could just picture the size of the library and how it must have looked. There couldn’t have been a more fitting title. With regards to the novel itself, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a more unreliable narrator than Ran. Knowing his past problems, the loss of his parents, the medication he stopped taking that controlled his bipolar condition made me question everything. I couldn’t work out which was reality and which was hallucinatory.
There are likeable and unlikeable characters, some of the more likeable characters do things that aren’t very nice, but you could see why they did them. There were a few moments where I had goosebumps. I would have liked more but I felt that the novel was more than just a gothic thriller, it was also a study of mental health and coercion. It had an unsettling ending that left me very uneasy. I sometimes wish the reader could know what happens after the last page has been turned. House of Spines is one of the better novels of this type that I have read this year.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received for review.

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Maria In The Moon by Louise Beech – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

Long ago my beloved Nanny Eve chose my name. Then one day she stopped calling me it. I try now to remember why, but I just can’t.’ Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria. With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges … and changes everything. Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…

My Review

Catherine, whose house was badly damaged in the Hull floods volunteers on a helpline for those who are in a similar situation. She finds that concentrating on being there for others helps her deal with her own life and she can relax knowing that she is helping somebody else. Not everybody who rings in has flood related issues but she listens to them regardless. Some of the phone calls are comical but most are serious and often upset her.
I thought Catherine was incredible. She was made homeless from the floods and sleeps on a friend’s sofa, she is determined, brutally honest and at times has a sharp tongue. Especially with her mother and spoilt, pampered step sister. She has a fractured relationship with her mother and takes pleasure in using bad language just to annoy her. There were many amusing moments where she was admonished. But she has no memory of being nine years old and its starting to trouble her more. As she struggles to cope with current events, she is also determined to remember what happened when she was nine.
There were a few times when I felt choked reading. It’s not a depressing book but it is very emotional and when I got towards the end I was in tears more than once. The descriptions of the flood damage could only come from somebody who went through it. When you see it on the news you don’t feel it, smell it and see the destruction that it leaves behind. And I could sense the frustration at being ignored by the Government and the media, but being humbled by the kindness of those nearby. When she remembers what happened when she was nine and how she dealt with it broke me. I can’t write about that part of the novel in my review without spoilers so you will have to read it to find out more.
Louise Beech is an incredible author who has touched my heart with each of her novels. I feel when reading her words that you can see her soul. Her words are powerful, emotional and there is a passion about things that are important to her and people who are close to her. She is an author who I will never tire of reading. Maria in The Moon is probably my favourite book so far.

To read about Louise’s publication day click here

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