Thursday, 23 February 2017

Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson

What Jónasson does really well is describe the surroundings of his story. He captures the scenery so vividly you can almost imagine yourself walking in his shoes and driving with him towards the scene of the crime.

I could feel the darkness reaching out to envelop me with its cruel cold hands in an attempt to suck me into the vast nothingness he describes in the book.

Not sure if it was a deliberate move by the author, but the last chapter reveals a lot more about Ari, his drive and his character. Let's just say the policeman and detective facet of his personality wins, even when it comes to making a more humane or perhaps even morally correct choice. The need to solve the mystery and bask in the imagined glory of his revelations is what drives Ari, doing it at the expense of others reveals an interesting side to him. I think this revelation is an eye-opener.

The author creates a Newton's cradle type of plot with each sub-plot (sphere) striking the stationary plot and thereby pushing another sub-plot upward. Now, the danger in that is when you can't bring it all back together for some kind of conclusion, regardless of whether it is a satisfying one or a cliffhanger ending.

Jónasson manages to do that, although I do think both plots were strong enough to survive being told individually. I think we will be hearing a lot more from this particular author.

Buy Rupture at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

I can imagine being fascinated by an ancestor connected to the Salem Witch Trials, especially if it's one of the alleged witches.

In this story everything revolves around the events during 1692-1693. The characters are obsessed to the point of murder.

Callie returns to the scene of the cause of her childhood trauma only to find that it is still fresh in the minds of everyone. The killer is still at large, despite the police having a suspect and plenty of theories about the why and how.

Said suspect has been suffering from mental health issues since the night of the murders. Rose is convinced all evil is caused by a banshee. A paranormal presence with a taste for blood. Are there dark powers trying to compete for control and attention or is it just the ravings of a mad woman?

To this day Salem profits from their turbulent and violent past. I can imagine it isn't as amusing or innocent to the locals though. A little bit like Whitby being filled to the brim with goths and ghouls every Halloween, because that is where Bram Stoker wrote Dracula. It's all fun and games until you have wannabe vampires draped over the headstones in your local cemetery.

It felt as if there was a lot going on, perhaps too much, and the red herring was brought up and beaten to death over and over again. It certainly doesn't lack zest though.

Buy The Fifth Petal at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Out of Bounds by Val McDermid

McDermid likes to slow-cook her stories. She stirs the pot and adds a variety of ingredients as the plot thickens and the story progresses. She takes her time to cultivate it, which is definitely her particular style.

Karen is still grieving for her lover and partner, and that grief is what leads her to the sub-plot aka an important political hot topic of our era, refugees. The author weaves it into the main plot with the greatest of ease.

Karen has got a whiff of a connection leading from a suspicious death to an old cold case. There is just something dodgy about two deaths in the same family but decades apart.

Simultaneously the chance DNA extraction has brought back a hit in the database in an old murder case. So on the one hand she has her hands full with her own case, but she can't resist meddling with cases outside of her unit. Not exactly the right thing to do if the head honchos want rid of you.

I guess in a way she is delving into as many ventures and mysteries as she can to stop from obsessing about Phil. A coping-mechanism if you will.

McDermid describes the police and judiciary systems of Scotland very well, although it does seem quite antiquated. Then again it might just be the unnecessary bureaucracy of said systems. Of course the flip-side of the coin is the fact there are rules and laws in place for a reason.

Hopefully this won't be the last we see of Karen and her trusty sidekick The Mint.

Buy Out of Bounds at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Friday, 17 February 2017

The Missing Matisse by Pierre Henri Matisse

The author comes from what one would call French royalty of the art world. He has literally hobnobbed with some of the most talented artists of the twentieth century.

Aside from the historical content and context, I thought the way Pierre suffers after the loss of his identity was the most intriguing aspect of the story. It's as if the name change sends him into a complete identity crisis.

As the story unfolds we hear about the unusual circumstances of his birth, and why he legally was never considered a Matisse. I think his parents, the Matisse family and some of the Leroy family did him a great injustice. Pierre was stuck in a legal loophole, and despite the fact it remained that way throughout his life because of his legal father, I do think both of his biological parents should have stood up for him. I do take the emotional and violent events of WW2 into consideration, however I do think they owed him a conversation and clarification within his real family.

His whole life is subconsciously steered by this identity crisis and he doesn't find any kind of inner peace until he turns around and tells the world who he really is.

I'm not sure it would have been the same for a boy from a lesser known family. The name Matisse is synonymous with creativity, passion, colour and the diverse world of art. I think Pierre wants people to acknowledge his own talent and also the long line of creative people he stems from. Most importantly he wants the same acknowledgement from the Matisse family, albeit subconsciously.

It is an interesting read, especially from an historical point of view.

Buy The Missing Matisse at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Turn by Kim Harrison

This is the very extensive prequel to The Hollows series by Harrison.

Saying that I would suggest reading it after the rest of the series, as opposed to before or as the start to the series. I believe the author recommends doing exactly the same thing on her website.

Why? Well I think the prequel assumes that the reader will know the characters and where the story will eventually lead. Personally I don't think it does The Hollow series the justice it deserves.

What the prequel does do is inadvertently shed a light on a can of worms called genetically modified crops. In this case it is woven into the deaths, extinction and survival of certain supernatural species and of course just normal old human beings.

It shows the positive side of being able to feed the world, and yet also the dangers of eating something that has had its basic code changed. Hopefully we won't find out a century down the line.

I am still shaking my head at the whole Trisk and Kal scenario, especially the ending. If, as a new reader, you don't know where the series ends up then it all might seem a wee bit exaggerated. If you do then you'll probably have an aha moment or two during the read.

What Harrison does excel at is the bursts of creativity and plotting that any urban fantasy author needs to keep their audience captivated.

Buy The Turn at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Perfect Remains by Helen Fields

When your parents come from two different countries and you have dual nationalities then you could eventually face the conundrum of having roots in two countries and yet being at home in neither. It's confusing to say the least. It makes you feel like a tree living in dodgy soil, something always feels just not quite right.

In a way I think this describes Callanach. Born in Scotland to a French mother and a Scottish father, he has recently returned to the land of his birth after living in France for many years. He might not have returned of his own volition, but he is determined to make his mark.

On a side note I think he needs to pat himself on the back for remaining calm, despite his new colleagues working against him instead of with him. I think I might have lost my rag, just a wee bit mind you.

Fields has created a killer who in turn has created the perfect crime or rather a nearly foolproof way of getting the police to stop looking for his victims. When the police are looking for a killer, as opposed to a missing person, the emphasis on the investigation is different and so is the direction they focus on.

The author manages to create an easy atmosphere when it comes to the main characters, whilst simultaneously allowing for a ruthless and violent killer. Some of the scenes are quite vicious and uncomfortable, but then murder isn't supposed to be comfortable. Fields balances the scales between the two very well.

Buy Perfect Remains at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

Well the author certainly has a devious mind that's for certain. Within the first few pages I already knew who the bad guy was and was certain I knew who the killer was too. About three quarters into the read I decided I was wrong and had a new suspect. Turns out I was wrong on both counts. It was neither of my suspects.

Paris does know how to lead readers on a merry goose chase.

Let me tell you what I liked the most about this story. It was the way the author manages to create a perfect situation of moral wrongdoing even when the act itself isn't actually legally wrong. A question of conscience one could say, which is something Paris seems to excel at.

I bet a lot of readers will wonder what they would do or would have done in the same situation. Would you have stopped and helped or even stopped the car at all? It's a dark, wet and secluded area. Common sense and precautionary warnings suggest driving on would be the most sensible thing to do, and yet there is that niggling doubt called base humanity and kindness. Of course cynical me thinks kindness is probably what gets a large percentage of people killed in the first place.

The author creates a convincing atmosphere of fear and paranoia, which is linked to a medical condition and mental health issues at the same time. Everything Cass is going through seems to be exacerbated by her choice to drive away. Of course, it's a B.A. Paris story so nothing is as it seems.

Buy The Breakdown at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris.

Friday, 10 February 2017

New York Actually by Sarah Morgan

Let me start off by saying that in my opinion Valentine, and especially his buddy Brutus, are the unexpected stars of this book. They are the cherry on top of another literary ice cream sundae by Sarah Morgan.

Molly makes her money by giving advice to others. An anonymous agony aunt with about as much experience at successful relationships and love as a badger at sunbathing.

This is actually a pet peeve of mine. People with zero practical experience giving advice based on theoretical knowledge.

Of course Molly seems to be blissfully unaware of this contradiction or rather the fact her inexperience may be causing others pain and conflict. It's easy to dole out advice and have an opinion on the lives of strangers, especially when they all remain anonymous. The problem is that the eager agony aunt only ever hears a one-sided conversation.

Daniel meets Molly under what we shall call contrived circumstances. He tries to attract the attention of a beautiful woman in the most extraordinary way. Hmm so the problem is that both of them have buckets full of secrets, which means interactions based on misconceptions and half-truths.

Once again Morgan manages to tug on the heartstrings with a strong and passionate story, and yet at the same time she makes sure the reader gets quite a few laughs.

Buy New York Actually at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

You can connect with Sarah online at her website: www.sarahmorgan.com on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahMorgan or on Twitter @SarahMorgan_

Read: Moonlight over Manhattan (From Manhattan with Love #6),  Holiday in the Hamptons (From Manhattan with Love #5), Miracle on 5th Avenue (From Manhattan with Love #3)Sunset in Central Park (From Manhattan with Love #2)Sleepless in Manhattan (From Manhattan with Love #1)Christmas Ever AfterFirst Time in ForeverMaybe This ChristmasSuddenly Last Summer or The Notting Hill Diaries, all by Sarah Morgan.

Follow @SarahMorgan_@HQStories and @HarperCollinsUK

Friday, 3 February 2017

Blog-Tour: Just for the Rush by Jane Lark

Let's kick off the Blog-Tour for this delectable piece of naughtiness Just for the Rush by Jane Lark. You are in for a passionate ride. 


About the Author
Jane likes to write intense relationships full of emotion. She is a chartered member of the United Kingdom’s Institute of Personnel and Development and holds the equivalent of a Masters Degree in People Management. She’s learnt a lot about how people think and feel and she uses this knowledge to create the personalities of her characters and expresses this through their feelings, thoughts and movements.
‘Basically I love history and I am a sucker for a love story. I love the feeling of falling in love; it’s wonderful being able to do it time and time again in fiction.’
Connect with Jane at janelark.co.ukFacebookGoodreads or follow @JaneLnabooks and @HarperImpulse


About the book
No one wants Mr Nice Guy…
A surprise marriage proposal from her perfectly nice Rugby playing boyfriend, Rick, has Ivy Cooper heading for the hills. She isn’t looking for a comfortable future, she wants something more, something that will make her heart race.


And her heart only beats harder when she’s with Jack her playboy boss. While Rick’s comfort is cosy, Jack’s protection makes her feel like she’s in a fortress…and his style of sex…well, it’s like nothing she’s every experienced before…
Buy Just for the Rush

Review
What do you think of when you hear the words just for the rush? Extreme sports, drugs or perhaps even a dare. In this case it is more about having the strength and determination to grab what you want in life. Even if it happens to be a hot-blooded hunk.

I can imagine that quite a few readers will find Jack a wee bit controversial. I know I did, One one hand he is the hot bad boy who could charm the skin off a snake, on the other hand he can be selfish, insensitive and has some really bad habits.

He seems to be nearly incapable of having any kind of intimate interaction, to have fun or relax without some kind of external stimulation. His stimuli of choice is usually weed. I found that slightly irresponsible, especially after he found out about Daisy. Then there is the whole sexual experimentation, which again makes it seem as if he can't feel at ease or happy unless he is making extreme choices.

So all of that makes for an interesting bad boy, which of course is what most people think girls look for. Is it a myth? Or is it just because there is a 'bad girl' in all of us or rather a girl looking for a rush just like Ivy.

I admire Ivy for having the guts to not accept what I would call normal and comfortable. For being bold enough to say no, despite all the opposition, and saying yes to the possibility of a rush. I think everyone should experience that type of breathless intensity at least once in their lives.

Lark knows how to get pulses racing and often infuriate, at the same time she manages to get readers hoping for the happy ending that will warm your cockles. Her characters are passionate, realistic and approachable. A jolly good read.

Buy Just for the Rush

Read I'm Keeping You by Jane Lark

Follow the Blog-Tour:

Thursday, 2 February 2017

All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

All is Not Forgotten is definitely the type of read you don't forget easily. The subject matter is controversial, relevant and important. It is woven into this story of a tense psychological cat and mouse game.

About the Author
Wendy Walker is a practicing divorce attorney in Fairfield County, Connecticut who began writing while at home raising her three sons. She published two novels with St. Martin’s Press and edited multiple compilations for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series before writing her debut psychological thriller, All is Not Forgotten.
How can people connect with Wendy Walker on social media?

She has an email which can be found via her website: wendywalkerbooks.com
Twitter handle is @Wendy_Walker
Facebook is: Facebook.com/WendyWalkerAuthor
Instagram.com/wendygwalker
Or on Goodreads
Buy All is Not Forgotten at Amazon UK
You can follow the tour with @HQStories or @Wendy_Walker just look for #NotForgotten

About the Book
You can erase the memory. But you cannot erase the crime. Jenny's wounds have healed. An experimental treatment has removed the memory of a horrific and degrading attack. She is moving on with her life. That was the plan. Except it's not working out. Something has gone. The light in the eyes. And something was left behind. A scar. On her lower back. Which she can't stop touching. And she's getting worse. Not to mention the fact that her father is obsessed with finding her attacker and her mother is in toxic denial. It may be that the only way to uncover what's wrong is to help Jenny recover her memory. But even if it can be done, pulling at the threads of her suppressed experience will unravel much more than the truth about her attack. And that could destroy as much as it heals.


Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a set of questions I call 'Breaking the Ice.'

The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms want to know)
I just read an ARC of a book called The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel. It is a family drama/thriller that captures the essence of family dysfunction and the ripple effects that last for generations. Fabulous!

The last movie you watched, which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, wallet...you name it)? The last movie I got to see without my three teenage sons was Brooklyn (yes – I went with a girlfriend!). It was gorgeous and moving and yet so simple. Great film making!

Are you more of a Game of Thrones or Outlander gal? (Combinations are possible)
I have to admit, as unpopular as this will make me with some of your readers, that while I appreciate the wonderful characters and epic settings of those shows, I tend to enjoy television that is more real world. House of Cards, Homeland, The Americans and for comedy I am totally addicted to Catastrophe!

Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet?
I am so tempted right now to answer in a way that will make me seem profoundly intellectual but the honest, suburban mom answer is George Clooney!

Something you treat yourself to, now and again? 
(Cream éclairs totally count) Dinner with a close friend. There is something about letting everything out with someone who knows you well, who holds your history, and whom you trust completely (over a glass of wine, of course) that is absolutely blissful.

All of the above questions are actually a pretty elaborate pysch evaluation disguised as random questions. There are some really interesting answers though. I am a fan of Homeland, House of Cards and Newsroom, so I totally get the interest in real world TV. 
Now let’s talk about All is Not Forgotten.

I particularly enjoyed the angle you chose to approach this topic from; usually the focus is on the victim, in All is Not Forgotten you make the reader sit on the balcony of the arena and watch with the rest of the characters, as the story unfolds…

How did you come to the decision to tell the story in this way? What was the intention behind taking this approach?
I had two objectives when I set out to write this book. The first was to provide a substantive exposition of the underlying issue – which is memory science and the treatment of trauma following a criminal assault. The second was to tell the story in a unique way that would capture a reader’s attention completely but also feel like an engaging conversation with a friend. I plotted each character’s story using coloured note cards and stacked them sequentially. But then I layered them into the chapters at times when they felt organic to the story. That way, the information did not get out of order, but it was delivered to the reader with the structure I designed.

Charlotte and Tom both react to the situation in vastly opposing ways, which causes a lot of friction throughout the book – did this predicament make up part of your initial idea, or was it something you came to later on?
Everything in this novel was carefully plotted. But, as I wrote, the characters did become more complex. I knew Charlotte and Tom would have that tension and I knew the basic psychological reasons behind it. What evolved as I wrote were the details of their back stories and how their childhoods fed their underlying personalities which are the basis of the conflict. The good Charlotte/bad Charlotte dynamic, for example, came about because of the way I was writing her story and how the narrator needed to explain things to her so he could help her understand. I loved that angle so much that I went back and gave it more substance throughout the earlier chapters.

You've obviously researched deeply into the use of drugs in the treatment of PTSD and trauma in regards to erasing memories. Did you find your own views on the use of this kind of treatment changing the further you delved into this? Did you make any unexpected or surprising discoveries along the way?
I was surprised at how advanced the science had become since I first read about it back in 2010. But the basic dilemma I saw for crime survivors remained the same. Anything that is intended to alter or erase a memory will conflict with the ability to seek justice and come to terms with the feelings of violation that are inherent in those experiences. My views on this did not change – I think the ability to mitigate PTSD is absolutely amazing and worthwhile. But it will pose difficult decisions for people whose traumas involve criminal assaults.

Even if a treatment such as this does have a positive effect in cases of PTSD, physically and psychologically it negates the possibility of conviction, which raises quite a significant ethical question. Are these sorts of divisive dilemmas at the heart of all of the stories you write?
I try very hard to structure my novels around issues that will resonate in readers on a personal level. In All Is Not Forgotten, I hope readers will think about this dilemma every time they read about memory science and even in their every day lives as they wonder what they would choose for themselves or for their children. Dilemmas in relationships and families and society as a whole make us stop and think and feel things, and for me that is what can make any story worth reading.

The big question of the hour comes down to whether it is better to forget or remember all the details of a traumatic event: if you were in Jenny’s shoes, which option do you think you would take?
This is always a tough question for me. I would absolutely choose to mitigate the emotional component with some of the treatments that are available now. Reconsolidating memories of trauma in therapy to reduce the emotional pain they hold seems to me to be life saving for many people. That said, I do not think I would choose to erase the factual memory if that became possible. And I would not do anything that would impede justice. For me, personally, that would be a priority.

Thank you for answering all the questions, even the odd ones!

Review
I have to hand it to Walker, she certainly doesn't pull any punches. Her story is vicious in a sense that this is the sad reality for many young women. Being treated like a piece of meat, being used and abused, being exploited and having to adapt their behaviour to not become a victim, has been the norm for many years.

Jenny is pushed into coping with the rape. In a way it seems as if her parents do her an even bigger injustice by pressing the delete button on her memories. Her mother wants to shove the experience under the carpet and her father is mainly concerned with vengeance. So having the memories erased causes instant conflict between Charlotte and Tom, because only one person is getting what they want. Begs the question, where does that leave the poor victim in this scenario?

Eventually it all leads to a complete burnout for Jenny. Not being able to come to terms with the assault leaves its mark on the young girl. Finally she gets the help and support she needs in the form of therapy. The therapist sees the case as a personal challenge and possible milestone in his career. He seems more interested in solving her case or rather helping her to remember for his own benefit.

Makes you wonder whether the therapist's ego actually takes a higher place in the scheme of things. His ability to discover, heal and be right seems to dominate the entire scenario.

In that regard he isn't really that different from her parents. Both Tom and Charlotte have agendas and goals, which are driven by their own frame of reference and past experiences. Overall it becomes clear just how little everything is about the actual victim. It's about Tom's need for revenge, Charlotte's need to look normal for society, the therapist's need to succeed, but hardly ever really truthfully about Jenny coming to terms with the rape.

The therapist also allows the feelings of his own past assault to steer and guide the conversation and therapy with all of them. This makes him anything but objective, and certainly a less than wise choice in the healing process. He feels elation and excitement every time Jenny remembers a piece of the puzzle.

It's an engrossing read because the topic is controversial and the twist is a shocker. I enjoyed the cat and mouse pace, despite figuring out said twist. Walker has added a subtle layer of complexity to her psychological thriller, which made it a memorable reading experience and a breath of fresh air.

Buy All is Not Forgotten at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.