Sunday, 29 October 2017

Jojo Moyes Paris for One and other Stories

This is a book of short stories, two of them more novella length. It contains the following eleven tales: Paris for One, Between the Tweets, Love in the Afternoon, A Bird in the Hand, Crocodile Shoes, Holdups, Honeymoon in Paris, Last Year's Coat, Thirteen Days with John C, Margot and The Christmas List.

They are stories about women and empowerment. They are also tales of love, desire and the imperfections of relationships.

Paris for One is all about Nell, a straight-laced shy young woman, who is stood up by her unreliable boyfriend. She ends up on a romantic trip to Paris by herself. Alone in a foreign country, dealing with an unknown language and the disappointment of not being important enough to her boyfriend for him to spend time with her in the city of romance.

It's all about Nell discovering her inner mojo and comprehending that she is supposed to live life for herself and not in accordance with the expectations of others. Sometimes you have to take a risk and step outside of the box you yourself and others have put you in.

Moyes hits the right notes, and has the gift of gab and the gift of storytelling. Although emotions are laid bare and presented to the reader, which evokes a sense of empathy, there is also a strong layer of realism in the dialogue and scenarios. This stark contrast is what makes the stories relatable and memorable.

Buy Paris for One and other Stories at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @jojomoyes @MichaelJBooks

Visit jojomoyes.com

Ashes Reborn by Keri Arthur

The connection between Emberly and Jackson is one of the more intriguing elements of the story. Neither of them have any real idea how their fusion is going to evolve or whether there will be more negative or positive repercussions for either one of them.

Their strange partnership, and the odd new powers one of them seems to possess, have to take a back-seat so they can focus on a threat to the supernatural and human community. Rinaldo is willing to kill anyone and destroy anything to get his hands on any research relating to a plague-like virus. A virus that can drive the contaminated person to madness.

Arthur delivers a fast-paced fiery urban fantasy with strong characters and a story that ends with a hook so the readers will come back for the next book.

Arthur's Riley Jenson urban fantasy series is outstanding, and doesn't get as much attention as it should. She has a flair for innovative ideas and strong female leads. Her Souls of Fire series offers readers both of these elements.

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

Read Winter Halo by Keri Arthur

Follow @kezarthur @BerkleyPub @penguinrandom

Visit keriarthur.com

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Don't Let Go by Harlan Coben

Are there some secrets that should be left buried and forgotten? This is the real question when it comes to this story.

Nap is obsessed with finding out the truth about the death of his twin brother Leo. His death was so unexpected and sudden that over a decade later Nap still hasn't come to terms with it, especially because his own girlfriend disappeared into thin air on the same night.

Now she has suddenly made a reappearance he also takes note of the strange things happening to other old high-school friends. Is there something more nefarious going on other than random acts of violence and disturbances, which just happen to be connected to said old friends.

How well do we really know any person, even when you have a tight connection like twins. Everyone has secrets or personality traits they keep hidden from certain people.Thinking that his brother was nothing less than perfect is clouding his view of the facts.

Coben combines a fast-paced thriller with strong emotional undertones to create a read which may make you ponder the advantages of raking up the past.

Sometimes it's better to let sleeping dogs lie. At least that way one can maintain some semblance of a facade for others, and more importantly for our or their own peace of mind. Like I said it is an interesting combo of conspiracy and moral of the story tale.

Buy Don't Let Go at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @HarlanCoben

Visit harlancoben.com

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Fatal Masquerade by Vivian Conroy

The cosy mystery is often delegated to the inconsequential, fluffy and comfortable read shelf. It simply isn't given its dues. It is actually a really popular sub-genre of the crime and mystery genre.

Not everyone wants to read brutal psychological stories that mess with your head and make your little grey cells ask for a break, although admittedly I love those a lot.

Some readers want the eloquence and eccentricities of Christie-like characters combined with the quirky scenarios of Beaton, witty reads that leave you with a smile.

Conroy delivers the kind of characters you remember and enjoy. An ode to Tuppence and Tommy, but perhaps a little less suave and with a lot more cheek.

In this fourth book in the Lady Alkmene Mystery series, the reader is spoilt with choices of possible culprits, which means the amateur detectives have to work a lot harder to discover who did the deed.

Lady Alkmene accompanies her friend to a masquerade ball, which becomes a wee bit more serious when a dead body turns up and the hostess and her family become the main suspects.


If you're looking for a bit of mystery, a dead body now and again, and a set of colourful characters then you should give Conroy a try.

Buy Fatal Masquerade by Vivian Conroy at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Rubies in the Roses by Vivian Conroy

Follow @VivWrites

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell

Kudos to Cornwell for giving the works of Shakespeare their dues, especially A Midsummer Night's Dream. He dissects the piece, as if it were the hottest new reality-soap in town.

Leaving the historical references and importance of Shakespeare's work aside for a moment, what remains are emotional roller-coasters for the masses. Shakespeare gives us drama, laughter, tears,violence and death. His plays were live television.

Cornwell is an excellent storyteller. The reader becomes so transfixed by the unfolding drama, and drawn in by the strong characters, that you almost forget everything is taking place in the Elizabethan era.

The story is about William and Richard Shakespeare, and their sibling rivalry. At the same time it is also about the existing rivalries between the various playhouses. An original play or new script is worth its weight in gold. People will pay good money to watch a new play being performed. It's quite interesting to note how many new scripts playwrights had to come up with in such a short period of time to entertain not only the masses, but also the upper echelon of society, including the queen.

Richard struggles with the fact his brother seems to see him either as a hindrance or a complete failure. He wants acknowledgement of his talent and perhaps even an apology for being handed to the wolves by his brother. At the moment he is always automatically picked to play the role of the pretty woman, because he is known for his striking looks. The kind of appealing physical appearance that tends to be noticed by the wrong people.

I really enjoyed it. I was expecting a story filled with heavy historical references. Instead it is a witty light-hearted entertaining read, which still manages to portray the hardships, the danger, the paranoia and the fear in that particular era, and the way of life in London.

Cornwell combines his talent for historical fiction with his concise knowledge of Shakespeare, which of course makes this a double-treat for bookworms with a penchant for both history and the works of the bard.

Buy Fools and Mortals at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @BernardCornwell @HarperCollinsUk

Visit bernardcornwell.net

The Ghosts of Galway by Ken Bruen

Bruen has a very specific style when it comes to his Jack Taylor books. They are in your face coarse, gritty and hardcore realistic or rather the character of Jack Taylor is.

Jack always seems to walk on the thin line between abiding by the law and breaking it, well he tends to lean more towards the latter, especially when it comes to protecting those in his bubble.

Not that they are always grateful, but then again perhaps they take lessons in etiquette and being polite from Jack.

His nemesis, strangely enough, is a bizarre combination of seductive temptress, a complete and utter fruitcake, and a ruthless player in this game of ghosts. Jack never seems to be able to decide which category to place her in.

As I mentioned above, Bruen has a distinctive writing style, which is staccato like and abrupt. Despite that he still manages to fill the story with important national and international topics, ranging from pseudo celebrities, fraudulent medical systems to Brexit and terrorism.

It is done in a subtle and witty way, and there are also often imperceptible nods in a certain direction, and off the cuff remarks. It's almost like experiencing the thought and speech processes of the main character in real-time. It has a noirish quality to it, coarse and brutal, which is what gives it a strong sense of realism.

Buy The Ghosts of Galway at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @MysteriousPress  @groveatlantic

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Blog-Tour: Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir

Today it is my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir. Snare is a fresh, gritty walk through life and crime as we know it in the 21st century.
About the Author 
Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Schweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykavik with her partner.
Follow @lilja1972  Visit liljawriter.com
Buy Snare

About the book
After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling tp provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies.

Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath the Icelandic financial crash.

Set in a Reykjavik still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.
Review
It's kind of ironic that Sonja makes such an excellent drug smuggler. Her planning is meticulous and she seems to be able to out-think the border control by ten steps every time. If left to her own devices she could probably run the whole set-up herself.

There is no doubt that Snare is a well executed crime story, however it is so much more. Sigurdardóttir has created a layered literary cake with a variety of topics, which will appeal to a multitude of readers. The divorce and the custody battle, the complexity of the snare itself and the topic of homosexuality.

Like many women Sonja finds herself in a position of vulnerability after her husband catches her in flagrante with her lover and demands a divorce. He, and society, believes she is at fault and is an unfit mother because her lover is a female. It begs the question whether she allows herself to be treated like a sub-human because she believes the same thing or just because of her guilty conscience.

Either way she finds herself in financial difficulty, which then makes her a target and she ends up trying to make enough money to get her young son back where he belongs. She is willing to go to any length to get custody, a part of the story many readers will identify with. You never know what you're capable of until you're pushed to your limits.

One of the really captivating elements of Snare is the relationship between Alga and Sonja, especially Alga and the rejection of her own emotions and sexuality. She is curious about the inner sanctum and secrets, and yet rejects it all with an equal level of passion. Her entire existence is a balancing act of what she believes she should want and what she really needs.

I really enjoyed the realism. This could happen to anyone, and the snare is explained really well. Being caught between a rock and a hard place. You either do it, commit a crime to achieve your hearts desire or you remain a law-abiding citizen and lose what you love the most. A lose-lose situation, so the reader can't help but feel empathy for the criminal.

The other aspect, which I believe Sigurdardóttir has purposely written in a way that creates a dialogue, is how same gender sexual attraction is still a point of contention for some of those still discovering their sexuality and people who view it as something to feel guilty about.

Snare certainly has a noirish quality to it, however I think it is a strong and vivid Kodak moment of our modern times. It often makes for uncomfortable reading because it is easy to relate to the desperation of the main character, because when it comes down to it, Sonja could be any one of us.

Buy Snare at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Follow @Orendaboooks

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Rubies in the Roses by Vivian Conroy

This is a cosy mystery with a quintessential English flair to it with eccentric characters and a cheeky four-legged companion.

Guinevere, and her sidekick Dolly the dachshund, are busy cataloging the contents of a library in a Cornish castle when the story of a hidden treasure surfaces. Hidden somewhere in or around the castle. It's the type of mystery that tends to attract a lot of treasure hunters.

In particular a very persistent treasure hunter, who is determined to prove how clever he is and cementing his reputation by finding a wedding goblet encased with jewels. His working theory is that the artefact is somewhere in the castle, and he is willing to do anything to find it.

The Cornish Castle Mysteries are pleasant and fun reads. Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon snuggled up in a corner for a spot of relaxation.

Conroy hits the spot for readers who like their crime served with less violence and with more emphasis on the comfortable read, as opposed to the shocking and often quite brutal crime reads.

Buy Rubies in the Roses at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Fatal Masquerade by Vivian Conroy

Follow @VivWrites

Monday, 9 October 2017

Moonlight over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

In this sixth part of the 'From Manhattan with Love' series we are introduced to the love interest of Harriet. If you've been following the series you will know that she is one half of the Bark Rangers, a dog-walking service run by twin sisters Harriet and Fliss.

Fliss has decided to rekindle her romance with her ex-hubby, and she has also decided to move to The Hamptons. This means Harriet has to get used to doing things by herself. She decides to set herself challenges, to do things she wouldn't normally have the courage to do.

During one of these challenges, which ends up not going to plan, she meets a handsome doctor. A few days later the two of them reconnect when he has difficulty taking care of a rather anxious dog.

Leaving aside the obvious love story this is also a tale about trust and feeling safe. Harriet has a lifetime of insecurities she has to deal with on a daily basis. The question is whether Ethan will make them worse or make her feel secure enough to overcome them.

We might need other people now and again, but every one of us needs to find our own inner strength to achieve our goals and find a wee bit of happiness in life.

In 2018 Sarah Morgan will be going in a slightly new direction, and taking all her readers with her, when she wanders into the more complex sub-genre of Women's Fiction. I am looking forward to this step forwards for Morgan, because it is long overdue in my opinion. It's time she got her teeth into something with a little more substance, to dig deeper and to shower readers with raw emotions, even the kind that don't always leave you feeling happy and content.

Buy Moonlight over Manhattan 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: Holiday in the Hamptons (From Manhattan with Love #5)New York Actually (From Manhattan with Love #4)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, 6 October 2017

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

This is how you do crime Scandinavian style.

Harry Hole is a sober alcoholic, well sort of, sometimes. His inner demons are always there lurking just below the surface, waiting to drag him back down below the murky depths of his disease.

He finds himself drawn into the cat and mouse game of a vicious serial killer called The Snowman, who leaves behind an icy calling card after every kill.

His superiors seem reluctant to accept the existence of a serial killer, which is detrimental to his investigation, and leads to quite a few mistakes. Harry is also saddled with a new colleague and she brings a whole load of baggage with her. Sometimes her actions and statements set his alarm bells ringing. Is she just not up to the job or is something else going on?

I had the Snowman pegged from the beginning. There was just something in the attitude, the demeanour, and in general in the air. A particularly clever talent of the author, to be able to point all the arrows in every direction but at the culprit, and yet at the same time being able to leave a subliminal trail leading straight to the killer.

Nesbo is a master storyteller with an instinct for crime. It will be interesting to see how the story translates onto the big screen, and whether or not they can accurately portray this particular setting and main character without losing the gritty charm.

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

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Blog-Tour: The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen


Today is my stop on the Blog-Tour for The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen. It is a well-written entertaining crime, which technically has both taken place and not happened yet. It's infused with dark humour and almost slapstick like murderous scenarios. Oh, and let me just give a shout-out to David Hackston for the excellent translation.


About the Author
Finnish Antti Tuomainen (b. 1971) was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011 Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. The Finnish press labelled The Healer – the story of a writer desperately searching for his missing wife in a post-apocalyptic Helsinki – ‘unputdownable’.

Two years later in 2013 they crowned Tuomainen ‘The King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. The Mine, published in 2016, was an international bestseller. All of his books have been optioned for TV/film. With his piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen is one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and The Man Who Died sees him at hisliterary best.
Follow @antti_tuomainen on Twitter on Facebook: facebook.com/antti.tuomainen
Visit anttituomainen.com
Buy The Man Who Died
About the book
A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. What is more, the cause is discovered to be prolonged exposure to toxins; in other words, someone has slowly but surely been poisoning him. Determined to find out who wants him dead, Jaakko embarks on a suspenseful rollercoaster journey full of unusual characters, bizarre situations and unexpected twists.
With a nod to Fargo and the best elements of the Scandinavian noir tradition, The Man Who Died is a page-turning thriller brimming with the blackest comedy surrounding life and death, and love and betrayal, marking a stunning new departure for the King of Helsinki Noir.
Review
I know this is a departure for Tuomainen from his previous noir crime, but it won't come as a surprise to anyone that this tongue-in-cheek backwards crime story lives up to the reputation that precedes him. This story is written like an Agatha Christie with a vicious streak.

Jaakko is confused by his terminal diagnosis at first. He doesn't really grasp the fact that he is living on borrowed time, and he certainly doesn't comprehend that this is something persons unknown have done to him. From one moment to the next he has become the living dead, although I have to say he makes zombies a lot more appealing.

I think anyone would do the same in his position. Find the murderer before the murder actually takes place. He discovers that his seemingly perfect life is actually a sham. Enemies galore are crawling out of the woodwork.  His career, his marriage and his friendships are all part of a great conspiracy or is it just the illness slowly destroying his grey cells?

On a side note I really enjoyed the way he kept going around thinking and saying 'I have been murdered, you murdered me.' Hilarity is hidden in the seriousness of the situation. Jaakko is the kind of character you can't help but love. He is just a normal man in the middle of unusual circumstances trying to regain his balance and take control of what is left of his life.

The plotting is meticulous, the humour is subtle and yet at the same time sharp, and the main character is quite simply sublime as the victim to be. Tuomainen is definitely an author I will be returning to.

Kudos to the author for creating the kind of read you recommend to others, and the excellent translation by David Hackston.

Buy The Man Who Died at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Follow @Orendabooks on Twitter


Monday, 2 October 2017

Blog-Tour: Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech

Today I am thrilled to welcome an author from my local area, and to be taking part in the Blog-Tour for Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech. It is a remarkable read you don't want to miss.
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 sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both books have been number one on Kindle, Audible and Kobo in USA/UK/AU. She regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. 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 and being published in a variety of UK magazines.
Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. She is also part of the Mums’ Army on Lizzie and Carl’s BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show.
Follow @LouiseWriter @Orendabooks #MariaintheMoon
Visit louisebeech.co.uk
Buy Maria in the Moon

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…

Review
Maria in the Moon has echoes of Eleanor Oliphant, especially when it comes to the anti-heroine type of main character. Another common denominator is the fact I enjoyed both stories, because the authors travel far off the well beaten path of literary clichés.

Catherine-Maria has this strange need to help others, she does this by volunteering at crisis helplines, which brings her into contact with people at their most vulnerable moments and often their last moments. Regardless of her own issues, and there are plenty of those, she always manages to wrangle herself into a position where she is confronted with the worst case scenarios in society. Her new pet project is a helpline set up to help the victims of the 2007 floods of Hull and East Yorkshire.

Part and parcel of the volunteering is being known under an alias. This is to keep both the volunteers and the callers safe. In Catherine's case the pseudonym is also an important part of her identity crisis. How can she be Catherine-Maria when she doesn't really know where Catherine-Maria went.

She knows Catherine, the promiscuous danger loving girl with a prickly attitude and a sharp-edged tongue. She knows all the personalities and names she pretends to be. She is a walking, talking example of coping mechanisms. The question is what is she trying to cope with, because at this point she doesn't have a clue. The only thing she knows is she can't remember entire years from her past, and someone is haunting her both at night and during the day.

She meets Christopher there, yet another man she connects with via her volunteer work. At this point one could start to question whether her romantic relationships are just an involuntary reaction to the emotional distress caused by the phone conversations she has to navigate and digest.

Another major part of her story, and the person who steers the majority of her reactions, is her mother. Their relationship is complex and most certainly the cause of many of her problems. Their problems go beyond the normal mother and daughter conflicts.

Maria in the Moon is a cold realistic 'look in through the window' approach to a highly sensitive subject. Beech pulls it off like a million dollar art heist. Although Catherine isn't the most sympathetic of characters, which is completely on par with a real situation of this kind, she does build a tenuous rapport with her audience, the readers. Kudos to Beech for being able to convey the confusion, pain, anger and desperation of the emotional turmoil and most importantly the complexity of the situation.

A commendable and memorable read.

Buy Maria in the Moon at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.