Tag Archive | Blog Tour

Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb (Orenda Books)

One of the best characters I’ve encountered recently is undoubtedly Steph Broadribb’s Lori Anderson. I’ve loved the first two books in this series and I was really excited to read Deep Dirty Truth. Here’s the blurb:

A price on her head. A secret worth dying for. Just 48 hours to expose the truth…

Single-mother bounty hunter Lori Anderson has finally got her family back together, but her new-found happiness is shattered when she’s snatched by the Miami Mob – and they want her dead. Rather than a bullet, they offer her a job: find the Mob’s ‘numbers man’ – Carlton North – who’s in protective custody after being forced to turn federal witness against them. If Lori succeeds, they’ll wipe the slate clean and the price on her head – and those of her family – will be removed. If she fails, they die.

What I love about these novels is that Lori is constantly battling for her daughter’s safety and now the safety of her one-time mentor, father of her daughter, and lover, JT. As a mother myself, Lori’s gritty determination to do whatever it takes to protect her family resonates with me and it’s very easy to champion her from the outset.

I also like that she has street-smarts. She is clever and intuitive. She thinks logically despite the intense pressure that she is often under, which engages the reader to follow her train of thought to the story’s conclusion.

Given that JT is out of action, Broadribb cleverly leaves Lori having to rely on her wits and Federal Agent Alex Monroe, who she doesn’t really trust, but this also forces JT to take care of, and bond with, Dakota, their daughter. When Broadribb takes us to JT’s and Dakota’s story, the reader gets an insight to their lives and their relationships with Lori, and each other. This is a lovely aside to the main action.

Yet again, Steph Broadribb has written a great, engaging novel that I read over two days, only stopping for things like work and sleep! From early on in the novel, it becomes apparent that this series is destined to continue. The next story is beautifully set up at the end of this one, and I cannot wait to read it.

 

The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard

Happy New Year, everyone! I read some fantastic books in 2018, and I have high hopes for 2019, especially with the blog tours I have on my calendar for January. My first read, and first review of 2019 was  of The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard. Here’s the blurb:

Will Hurley, Dublin’s notorious Canal Killer, is in prison, ten years into a life sentence.
His ex-girlfriend, Alison, has built a new life abroad, putting her shattered past behind
her.
Then the copycat killings start. Will holds the key to unlocking these crimes, but he’ll
only talk to Alison. Can the killer be stopped before there’s another senseless
murder? And after all these years, can Alison face the past – and the man – she’s
worked so hard to forget?

To give you some idea of how much I enjoyed this novel, I read it in two sittings. It would have been one, but I needed to get off the bus! The main protagonist, Alison, intrigued from the beginning. She is obviously carrying the baggage of her past with her, despite the fact that she is trying hard to move on. Will is also a great character; the reader never quite knows how reliable his narrative is, and the tension with each meeting of these two characters is perfectly palpable, adding to the reader’s investment in the truth.

Predominantly set in Dublin, the surroundings play a big part, and though the author fully admits to a little poetic license in the location details, she sets the scene well. The canal becomes a foreboding added character, something to be feared, along with the idea of seclusion.

Alison and Detective Malone make a formidable duo, and while I get the impression this is a standalone novel, I’d like to see these two characters in a sequel, working together to solve a crime.

This was a fantastic read to start off 2019 with, and I can highly recommend this book to any crime fiction fans.

The Liar's Girl Cover

 

The Green Viper by Rob Sinclair (Bloodhound Books)

Reading a James Ryker novel is like being reunited with an old friend. Having read Rob Sinclair’s Enemy series, where James Ryker was Carl Logan prior to his reincarnation, I feel very invested in his story. So, I was very excited to be asked to be part of the blog tour for Ryker’s next journey in The Green Viper.

Here’s the blurb:

I need your help. Call me.

Ex-intelligence agent James Ryker receives a coded message through a secret drop point, a means of communication known only to him and one other person. The problem is, that other person is his ex-boss, Mackie… and he’s already dead.

But the cry for help is real, and it’s a request Ryker can’t refuse.

Travelling to New York alone and without official sanction, Ryker has a single goal in mind, yet even he couldn’t have bargained for the violent world he’s soon embroiled in. Caught in the middle of a spiraling chaos with the FBI on one side, and two warring underworld bosses on the other, Ryker must put all of his skills to the test in order to come out on top, and keep his word.

In a world full of lies and deceit, loyalty is everything, and it’s time for James Ryker to pay his dues.

 

As with all the books in the series, reminders of his former life as Carl Logan pepper the novel, reminding the reader that his past has shaped his future and he will always be inextricably linked with the Joint Intelligence Agency, which is a blessing and a curse in equal measure. James Ryker is a fiercely loyal and determined character who will stop at nothing to succeed in his goal.

Sinclair is undoubtedly on top form with his latest James Ryker outing. As with his other novels, he isn’t afraid to make character choices that shock the reader and he doesn’t hold back on the graphic images when he describes the violence that his characters inflict, further enhancing his narrative. Set in New York, Sinclair again uses the location he sets the action in to bring an added character to the novel to great effect.

The Green Viper is a fantastic read and I don’t expect anything less when I pick up a Rob Sinclair novel. It’s great to pick up a book, knowing beforehand that you are in for a treat, and that’s a given with the James Ryker series. I look forward to the next one!

Good Samaritans by Will Carver (Orenda Books)

It’s a rare occurrence that a novel can provide you with so many shocks from cover to cover that you feel like you’ve run a marathon by the time you get to the end. When I started reading Good Samaritans by Will Carver, I wasn’t expecting to have that kind of experience. How wrong I was!

Here’s the blurb:

One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach.

Seth Beauman can’t sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his phonebook, hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps upstairs. A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to Seth, thinking she is talking to The Samaritans. But a seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley, and soon their late-night talks are turning into day-time meet-ups. And then this dysfunctional love story turns into something altogether darker, when Seth brings Hadley home… And someone is watching… Dark, sexy, dangerous and wildly readable, Good Samaritans marks the scorching return of one of crime fiction’s most exceptional voices.

What struck me about this novel was that it has a relatively slow build up, yet it had the power to sucker-punch you multiple times throughout. Reading this on the bus to work, I got some very strange looks at certain points when an audible gasp of shock at the turn of events involuntarily escaped from me. What also struck me is how skilled an author Will Carver is to be able to lull the reader this way and that way, then throw everything you thought was happening into the air. Just when I thought I had it worked out, I really didn’t.

Carver’s writing style perfectly depicts the lives of his characters to create an ideal response from the reader. Often, short, staccato sentences build up the tension and portray the emotions of the characters in a direct and detached way. He has multiple narrators throughout; the characters tell their own story and there is a third person narrator to direct the reader through each character’s version of events. This further redirects the reader into a delicious trap of thinking one thing is happening, when in fact what is really happening is shockingly different.

Undoubtedly a dark novel, it intrigues the reader throughout and even when you reach the end, you are in a state of shock as even the ending doesn’t take the path you would expect. This novel is simply brilliant and if I could sum my final reaction up in one word, it would be “wow”! I’ve waxed lyrical about the brilliance of the team at Orenda Books for finding books that offer something extra special that you rarely find elsewhere, and with Good Samaritans, Orenda has done it again. Good Samaritans is definitely going on my top books of 2018 list and I will be recommending it to anyone who’ll listen, as it is a fictional masterpiece.

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Cold Winter Sun by Tony J. Forder (Bloodhound Books)

Cold Winter Sun by Tony J Forder was one of those novels that had me intrigued  from the minute I read the blurb. In these situations, it can one of two ways: you’ll be sorely disappointed because it hasn’t lived up to the hype, or thoroughly satisfied because it lived up to the promise offered by the blurb.

Here’s the blurb that got me so enthusiastic about reading this novel:

A missing man. A determined hunter. A deadly case.

When Mike Lynch is contacted by his ex-wife about the missing nephew of her new husband, he offers to help find the young man with the help of his friend Terry Cochran.

Arriving in LA to try and track down the young man, the pair are immediately torn away when the missing man’s car shows up, abandoned on the side of a deserted road in New Mexico.

When two fake police officers cross their path, Terry and Mike know there is more to the case than meets the eye, and soon they find themselves asking exactly who it is they are really looking for…

Short and sweet, but intriguing nonetheless.

Now, whilst this novel is referred to as a standalone, this is not the first novel that these characters have appeared in. Forder wrote Scream Blue Murder as a standalone but decided to write a sequel before the first book was published. It certainly works well as a standalone and where reference is made to these character’s past lives, Forder gives a concise summary so the reader has enough information to continue reading.

Mike Lynch is a brilliantly written character. Forder uses this character to portray what life is like as a civilian after being in the forces, for better or worse. Undoubtedly troubled by what he has experienced, but at the same time, highly skilled in combat with impressive instincts, Mike is incredibly likeable, as is his silent but deadly friend, Terry. As a team, they are formidable, and though they don’t always agree with each other, they make a great partnership.

The use of inhabitable landscape features heavily in this novel. Initially Mike is camping in snow-covered Scotland, then he is summoned to investigate in the barren New Mexico desert landscape, where, during his time there, it snows. His surroundings act as an additional barrier to overcome in order to find his ex-wife’s husband’s nephew.

Forder has written a really enjoyable novel. The blurb delivered its promise, and then some. I am definitely going to be reading Scream Blue Murder, as I am keen to learn the back story to these characters in more detail. I can highly recommend this novel and if Forder decides to bring these characters back, I’ll be adding it to my TBR list straight away.

cold winter sun cover

 

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech (Orenda Books)

Reading a Louise Beech novel is like eating a beautifully crafted cupcake: you know before you taste it that it is going to be amazing, you enjoy every delicious mouthful and you feel sad after eating the last bite because this wonderful morsel has given you such immense pleasure that you can’t bear the thought that it is finished. i was very excited about the release of The Lion Tamer Who Lost and it sounded very intriguing. Here’s the blurb:

Be careful what you wish for…
Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he
wishes it hadn’t…
Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve.
When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…
Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems
to be guided by fate. Or is it?
What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?

One thing that always strikes me about Beech’s novels is that they are never one genre or another. You can’t fit her novels into a category, which is testament to the brilliant imagination that she has to generate a novel that is completely individual and incomparable to any other. The Lion Tamer Who Lost is no different. The characters go on a journey that Beech crafts beautifully, taking the reader back and forth in time to explain Ben and Andrew’s stories.

There’s an incredible honesty about The Lion Tamer Who Lost that enables the reader to sympathise with every character, even when they are doing something that is not necessarily the right thing to do. Each character has their flaws but the way Beech portrays them gives the reader a rounded view of them so they can forgive the character’s bad decisions. Every character has a tale to tell that shapes their attitudes and behaviour, and they are not always as the reader would expect.

The structure that Beech uses in this novel is perfect for building up the stories of these characters without giving everything away. The novel starts mid-way through Ben and Andrew’s stories then you are taken back and forth between the past and present day to illuminate why Ben seems despondent and somewhat haunted in the initial chapters. The quotes from Andrew’s books at the beginning of each chapter also carry their own messages and it is a perfectly balanced novel to create an optimum amount of mystery and desire to find out the full picture.

Love is, without a doubt, the main theme of this novel and Beech depicts the intensity of familial love, passionate/sexual love and friendship love with incredible skill. In Beech’s dedication at the front of the novel, she quotes her friend who says “love is love, no matter who it’s between”, and this is ultimately the message that you get from this novel, and what a beautiful sentiment to be left with! This has always been my own belief too, so to read a novel which reinforces that has been an absolute pleasure.

Yet again, Louise Beech has created a perfect novel. I have yet to read anything by Beech that I have felt has been missing something, which is why I always look forward to reading her stories. I enjoyed this novel from start to finish and I laughed, and cried, which is always a good sign. This is an incredibly moving novel, as Beech’s novels always are, and it was immensely enjoyable to read, taking me no time at all, as I couldn’t put it down. Louise Beech is undoubtedly the jewel in the Orenda Books crown and I look forward to reviewing her next masterpiece.

thumbnail_Lion Tamer front cover final

 

The Backstreets of Purgatory by Helen Taylor

I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for The Backstreets of Purgatory by Helen Taylor.

The Backstreets of Purgatory is a novel that brings together a variety of characters in Partick whose stories, though separate, intertwine throughout. Finn Garvie, the main character, is a spoilt man-child who strives for perfection in his art. He aspires to be the Caravaggio, his inspiration, of his time, but is struggling to assimilate his ideas onto the canvas. His girlfriend, who loves him, doesn’t know what to do with him; his best friend just irritates him and he is beguiled by the beautiful Kassia, convinced that she is his muse. When Caravaggio himself shows up in Finn’s life, stuck in purgatory until he assists Finn in finding his art mojo, Finn’s life takes an unexpected and sinister route.

This is an unusually constructed novel that deals with mental health issues, societal expectations and the individual character’s perceptions of success or failure. Taylor tells each character’s story, their thoughts on how their life has got to where it is and where they think it is going, and mirrors this with the other character’s who are inextricably linked across the board.

Taylor gives us a well-written, highly descriptive novel that is reminiscent of classic novels, with multi-sensual descriptions, and detailed, multi-faceted characters that are fraught with worries and show a distinct lack of confidence in themselves, that encourages them to skew their view of their surroundings and of those people around them.

This book also provides the reader with a lesson in Caravaggio himself. I knew nothing about Caravaggio beforehand, and Taylor gives enough biographical information and that of his paintings to give the reader enough information to follow the story but it also gives the reader an education too.

I found this novel a little unusual in places but it is funny, emotional, violent at times, and often poignant, ticking a lot of boxes in my “good novel” checklist. I look forward to reading Taylor’s next novel.

Paul McGraw:Kid to Killer by Paul Elliott

I must start this review with a big apology. I was invited onto this blog tour, read the book, started the review then life got in the way and I missed my tour date of yesterday. Sincerest apologies for the delay. Hopefully my review will be worth the wait.

Kid to Killer by Paul Elliott starts as a coming of age novel. Paul is fifteen years old and has moved around a lot, but after starting a new school in a rough part of Edinburgh, whilst he makes new friends quite easily, he finds the area is overrun with “zombies”, drug-addled individuals who terrorise the locals and attack them to obtain funds for their drugs or because the drugs have made them out of control. After an encounter with a “zombie”, the course of Paul’s life changes forever.

The novel does what it says on the cover. Paul goes from being a kid to being a killer. Elliott does a good job of showing his progression from one to the other, as circumstances dictate the initial actions in the novel but eventually Paul’s chooses his path.

I found this novel very easy to read and I was hooked all the way through. The premise is good and Elliott handles it well. Paul is a well-constructed character, and the other characters in the novel support the narrative very well. It also makes the reader question their own viewpoint on whether Paul’s actions can ever be justifiable.

I really enjoyed this novel from start to finish and I’d like to read more from Paul Elliott in the future.

Absolution by Paul Hardisty

The Claymore Straker series by Paul Hardisty is without a doubt a very valuable jewel in the Orenda Books crown. Every novel is a journey, figuratively and literally as Straker travels far and wide to fight his cause. I was honoured to be asked back on to the blog tour for this latest instalment.

In Absolution, Straker almost shares the limelight with his old flame, Rania, as she gives an account of her story in journal form alongside the third person narration of Clay’s story. Having kept his head down since giving evidence about his military service in South Africa to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, his cover is blown and those who surround him are put in grave danger as he is hunted down. Parallel to this, Rania’s husband and young son have gone missing, and she is being framed for their murder. As both parties try to solve their problems using their skills honed from previous adventures, Clay and Rania try to help each other whilst fighting their feelings for each other for the greater good.

As with the other books in this series, Hardisty writes with great intelligence and weaves his narrative with scientific, political and religious analysis to educate the reader and provide truthful background to the settings in which he places Clay and Rania. Together with the stunning imagery to describe the most barren of landscapes, and his brilliant character structuring, a Hardisty novel does not disappoint.

The dual narrative with Rania’s diary and Clay’s perspective through a third person works really well. Both characters are flawed and are haunted by their past actions, yet both characters are driven by love to make difficult choices. Sometimes there is no good decision for the character’s to make and Hardisty’s bravery for putting these decisions into their hands is to be admired.

This novel moves fast and it did not take me long to read it, mainly because I could not put it down. Straker is such an intriguing character and no matter what he does, the reader wants him to have a happy ending, ideally with Rania given their attraction to each other. From the title of the book, and the direction the narrative takes, Hardisty could well leave this series as it is and it will be beautifully rounded off. However, there is undoubtedly potential for more and I would be sorry if this would be the last Straker novel.

Dying To Live by Michael Stanley (Orenda Books)

A few months ago, I read Deadly Harvest, the first Detective Kubu novel published by Orenda Books, and I loved it, a great crime novel set in Botswana. I was really excited to read another Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu crime story. 

In Dying To Live, Kubu is battling demons on a personal, as well as professional, level. Whilst a bushman, Heiseb, who appears older than you would assume is physically possible, is found murdered in the desert, Kubu’s adopted HIV positive daughter is fighting for her life, as her retrovirals start to fail. As in Deadly Harvest, muti, witch doctor potions, are heavily featured throughout the narrative. As Kubu and his colleague, Samantha Khama, try to find out who killed Heiseb, the disappearance of a prolific witch doctor seems too much of a coincidence.

As with Deadly Harvest, Dying to Live is a gripping crime novel, and while it is quite slow paced (mirroring the Botswanaian lifestyle), the plot is fascinating as it offers clues and red herrings throughout. The modern versus traditional lifestyle is juxtaposed beautifully and as even Kubu begins to wonder if muti could help his sick daughter. The writing duo, Michael Sears and Stanley Trollope, writing under the pseudonym Michael Stanley, have created a wonderful main protagonist in Kubu and a formidable sidekick in Khama, that the reader cannot help but want them to succeed. Restricted as they are by their location and the mindset of the traditionalist inhabitants, they always seem to get their answers one way or another.

A number of characters are introduced, both to inform and to confuse the reader into what these crimes are all about. The various characters are from a variety of backgrounds, traditional and modern, and the reader is left wondering just who the criminals are. 

Dying To Live is a fantastic novel, which is, of course, what we have come to expect from a book published by Orenda Books. Kubu is a really endearing character and there are times in this novel where I wanted to give him a big hug. These novels entice the reader with a beautifully written narrative and an engaging plot. I look forward to reading the next Michael Stanley collaboration.