Violet by SJI Holliday – Review

About The Book

Carrie’s best friend has an accident and can no longer make the round-the-world trip they’d planned together, so Carrie decides to go it alone.

Violet is also travelling alone, after splitting up with her boyfriend in Thailand. She is also desperate for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express, but there is nothing available.

When the two women meet in a Beijing Hotel, Carrie makes the impulsive decision to invite Violet to take her best friend’s place.

Thrown together in a strange country, and the cramped cabin of the train, the women soon form a bond. But as the journey continues, through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel – because one of these women is not who she claims to be…

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. I see many thrillers described as psychological and often I’m disappointed. I’m happy to say that I wasn’t with Violet, my new favourite novel by this author. It had it all. Violet was an unreliable, unsettling and at times creepy narrator, and Carrie her new friend and travel companion has just become her new obsession.

But Carrie also has issues, and not just the ones that involve heavy drinking and drug taking. Most of what you learn about her is through her emails home to family and the best friend who couldn’t be with her. It is these that also show what she really thinks about Violet and also what occurred back home.

Everything about this novel works. The setting in countries that are completely different to the UK. The descriptions of the customs, some of which were really eerie. And the increasingly bizarre behaviour of Violet that had me wondering what she would do next.

It is very clever with characters that scared me at times, but strangely ones I could also feel sympathy for. As the story progressed there was insight into why they behaved like they did, especially with Violet.

As I read this novel I also enjoyed seeing daily photographs on the author’s website of her trip that inspired the novel.

The Shape Of Night by Tess Gerritsen – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

We’ve all done things we’re ashamed of . . .

When Ava arrives at Brodie’s Watch, she thinks she has found the perfect place to hide from her past. Something terrible happened, something she is deeply ashamed of, and all she wants is to forget.

But the old house on the hill both welcomes and repels her and Ava quickly begins to suspect she is not alone. Either that or she is losing her mind.

The house is full of secrets, but is the creeping sense of danger coming from within its walls, or from somewhere else entirely?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have always enjoyed reading the Rizzoli and Isles series so was interested in reading this standalone novel. It is completely different, instead of a police based novel it is a ghost story combined with a disappearance of a young woman and takes place in a small-town in Maine.

When Ava arrives with her fantastic cat Hannibal at Brodie’s Watch she hopes that she can put the past behind her and finish her book. Almost immediately she senses a strange atmosphere and as she settles in she realises that she isn’t alone. And that her companion is a threat. What happens to her becomes increasingly unsettling, from the paranormal, the past and the present.

I always like a spooky novel and this doesn’t disappoint. There was just the right amount of tension and combined with not knowing whether the presence was a threat or protection, I was eagerly turning the pages to see what would happen next.

I did guess correctly at what was happening in the present day and what Ava was running away from but it didn’t stop me enjoying this novel. I liked her relationship with most of the characters, especially Hannibal and the recipes were an added bonus.

Travels With Sushi In The Land Of The Mind by Eduard Shyfrin – Blog Tour – Extract – International Giveaway.

Today, I have an extract for you but also I have three copies for an INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY. All you need to do is either share or like the post and I will select the winners by a random number generator on Friday 11th October.

About The Book

Aaron and Stella spend every summer at their grandparents’ house, playing on the beach in the day, and eating sushi at night. One evening, the children try some special sushi which transports them to an alternate universe The Land of the Mind, a place traditionally governed by maths and quantum physics, which is being taken over by evil and chaos.

With the many different areas in the Land of the Mind being ruled over by the Dark Lords of Intolerance, Fear, Pride, Indifference, Betrayal and Despair, the children are tasked with rescuing the Book of Understanding, which contains all the rules on how to live a good life.

Chosen because of their relationship to the Golden Ratio known as Phi (1.618), Aaron and Stella travel on a Phi-Flyer and are guided by a wise raven called Sophie (who is both a particle and a wave). The children must learn how to navigate the infinite dimensions of quantum physics to save the Land of the Mind from falling into the hands of chaos.

Extract

“In the world where you live there are four dimensions; length, height, width and time. In the Land of the Mind, however, there are also the infinite dimensions of good and evil. Until you do something bad you are in the dimension of good and the Wasabi warriors have no power over you. As soon as you do one evil deed, however, you immediately fall into the dimension of evil and they will then have full power over you. Servants of the Black Queen can appear and disappear at will. Connections exist in the mental space between the Mushi.” 

Both children shook there heads in unison, causing Salmon Mushi to let out a small sigh of frustration before pulling himself together to think of a better way to explain the concept of quantum law. 

“We are mentally connected to those we love,” he said, “as well as to our friends and acquaintances, and even some objects. These connections can vary in their power and their levels of activity, but an evil act will always culminate in an explosion and the destruction of positive mental connections.” 

“So how do we get to this mountain?” Aaron asked, trying to focus on practical details which he felt he could master. 

“You must pass through the zones of the Black Queen’s Leaders, and defeat them. Then you must climb Memory Mountain and open the doors to the cave where the Book is kept. You will travel in a phi-flyer which will be given to you by the Supreme Ruler. While inside it you will be completely protected. It will appear and disappear and move only according to the will of the Supreme Ruler. 

“Before you arrive in each of the of Black Queen’s Leaders’ countries, the phi-flyer will give you the weapons and the tools you will need to be victorious. The wise raven, Sophie, will always be at your side. She is the envoy of the three main leaders and will advise you in any difficult situations you encounter.” 

“A wise raven?” Aaron rolled his eyes towards his sister. 

“Sophie the raven is can be both a particle and a wave, whichever way she decides at the time. She can also appear and disappear at any point in mental space.” 

“How can something be a particle and a wave at the same time?” Aaron’s head was beginning to ache from the effort of concentration. 

“That is another characteristic of a quantum world. I’ll give you an example. If you take a plate with two slots, place a screen behind it and fire an electron in the direction of the slots, what do you think will happen?”  

“The electron will probably pass through one of the slots,” Stella answered for her brother. 

“That would seem logical,” Salmon Mushi agreed, “and then you might expect an imprint of the electron, like that of the tennis ball, will appear on the screen behind the slot. But in fact that is not what will happen. A series of dark and light stripes will form on the screen behind the slot.”  

“And what does that mean?” Aaron asked. 

“It means that the electron behaves like a wave and will pass through both slots at the same time.” 

“That’s impossible!” Both children said at once. 

“It may be unimaginable to you, but it is a fact. And that is not all. If measuring devices are placed near each slot the behaviour of the electron will change. In that case it will behave like a tennis ball and pass through one slot or the other.”  

“But why does that happen?” Aaron asked. 

Salmon Mushi was pleased to have finally caught their attention so thoroughly. “There are many possible explanations, but no one knows the precise reason.” 

“Why a raven?” Stella asked. 

“You remember the first phi-flyer that I told you about and the man who survived the flood with a variety of animals?” They nodded. “Well, when the waters receded he let out a raven, because ravens are highly intelligent. Its task was to return to tell the man what had happened to the world while they were in the phi-flyer. That raven was called Sophie.  

This Little Dark Place by A. S. Hatch – Guest Post – Blog Tour

About The Book

How well do you know your girlfriend?

How well do you know your lover? 

How well do you know yourself?

Daniel and Victoria are together. They’re trying for a baby. Ruby is in prison, convicted of assault on an abusive partner.

But when Daniel joins a pen pal program for prisoners, he and Ruby make contact. At first the messages are polite, neutral – but soon they find themselves revealing more and more about themselves. Their deepest fears, their darkest desires. 

And then, one day, Ruby comes to find Daniel. And now he must decide who to choose – and who to trust.

Guest Post

How my home town inspired my debut novel.
 

I come from a forgotten place. A left-behind place. A place of brief seasonal highs and much longer inter-seasonal depressions. I come from The Fylde. 

The Fylde is a cluster of coastal towns and communities in the north-west of England. Blackpool, with its rusting half-size Eiffel Tower, shockingly high heroin overdose and violent crime rates, and some of the poorest wards in the country, is its de-facto capital.

The fictional setting for This Little Dark Place, ‘Wilder-on-Sea’, is a Frankenstein’d and exaggerated (but not much) composite of the towns, woods and streets of my Fylde-hood. The people in Wilder are known as ‘Wild’uns’. They’re tough. The epithet is “…a grim badge of honour…a symbol of endurance” and I think a lot of people from the Fylde – and other similarly forsaken places – will relate to this. 

Don’t get me wrong, being a Fylde childwas fun. Rollercoasters, donkey rides, fried sugar-dipped doughnuts. What’s not to like? But as I approached my teenage years I started feeling isolated.

Looking at a map of the UK really drove it home. We were miles from anything, from the nearest big city (Manchester), from London, from Europe. Hemmed by the Irish Sea to the west and the M6 to the east, I felt like I was living on an island within an island, in quarantine.

Through the setting – particularly at ‘Lanes End’, the secluded cottage where much of the novel unfolds – I have tried to create a sense of isolation, of claustrophobia. It’s as much about atmosphere as it is the place itself, and I think when readers have spent a bit of time with my (paranoid?) narrator ‘Daniel’ they will start to feel this way.

In TLDP I explore what happens when normal people become extremely isolated, the impact this can have on their psyche. I inflict a series of truly awful events on my characters and observe the fallout. Sort of like the literary equivalent of holding a magnifying glass over a group of trapped little ants, watching them keel, combust. 

Many Rivers To Cross by Peter Robinson – Review – First Monday Crime.

About The Book

A skinny young boy is found dead – his body carelessly stuffed into wheelie bin.

Detective Superintendent Alan Banks and his team are called to investigate. Who is the boy, and where did he come from? Was he discarded as rubbish, or left as a warning to someone? He looks Middle Eastern, but no one on the East Side Estate has seen him before.

As the local press seize upon an illegal immigrant angle, and the national media the story of another stabbing, the police are called to investigate a less newsworthy death: a middle-aged heroin addict found dead of an overdose in another estate, scheduled for redevelopment.

Banks finds the threads of each case seem to be connected to the other, and to the dark side of organised crime in Eastvale. Does another thread link to his friend Zelda, who is facing her own dark side? 

The truth may be more complex – or much simpler – than it seems . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received via Pigeonhole. Many Rivers To Cross is the latest novel in the Inspector Banks series. I found it slightly different to the previous books. Banks seemed to feature less with more focus on Gerry and Annie. When he does appear though, you still see his love of music and fine wine. My thoughts about his character though are changing with each novel. Maybe because of the TV series but also because his increasing loneliness makes him more vulnerable and a little needy with the women he knows.

There is also more focus on modern day news than in previous books. Politics, particularly Brexit, human trafficking, drugs and racism. All of which is seen daily in the news. One of these topics in particular, is covered more than the others and its heartbreaking and unfortunately very real.

One of the more interesting parts of the novel was Zelda’s story. She was a character I really liked. What she went through before her arrival in the UK was horrific and I can see her appearing in a few novels in the future.

This series has the potential to be successful for years to come. I can see it changing, some characters appearing more as Banks gets closer to retirement age but there are still plenty of stories there.

Peter Robinson will be appearing at First Monday Crime on Monday 7th October .