July Reads

Another month has passed, which means it’s time for another wrap-up! I must apologise in advance for my tardiness with this post – I had written half of it before 1st August, then it fell by the wayside, but it’s here now! Better late than never, right?

Once again, my reading hasn’t been great having only read six books – I’ve found it hard to have time to pick up books, having to prioritise other things (if you haven’t taken a look at this post, please do!).

Without further ado, last month I read…

Plum by Hollie McNish (Picador Poetry) – 5/5

Plum hollie mcnish

Plum is poet Hollie McNish’s newest collection and features both new and old poetry – her recent poems are interrupted by earlier writing from her formative years – voices that are raw, honest and also very, very funny. If you’re looking to get into poetry, this is a fantastic place to start – Hollie is warm, honest, funny, sarcastic and passionate. I could listen to her poetry over and over again (a personal fave of mine is Mathematics – I encourage you to go and have a watch on YouTube!)

The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla (Unbound) – 5/5

Good Immigrant

This is a collection of essays written by BAME authors, edited together by Nikesh Shukla. It explores what it means to be Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic in Britain today. The essays look at identity, culture, family and diversity; I found it enlightening, eye-opening, funny, heart-breaking and infuriating all in one. This is such an important read and one that everyone should pick up!

Them: Adventures with extremists by Jon Ronson (Picador) – 3/5

Them

It seems I was on a bit of a non-fiction roll this month! I’m a big fan of Jon Ronson’s books and my favourite of his is The Psychopath Test, however I wasn’t mad about Them: Adventures with Extremists. The book goes on a quest to explore extremism, from Islamic fundamentalists to Neo-Nazis. Originally written in 2001, this book is definitely still prevalent today; I found it fascinating in parts, but also a little boring in others.

Dying to Live by Michael Stanley (Orenda Books) – 4/5

Front Cover Dying to Live

Dying to Live is the sixth book in the Detective Kubu series – I loved the setting of the book, the African landscape added a different dimension, making it stand out from so many British crime books, which can sometimes feel a bit samey! If you’re looking for a fairly light crime novel, which is a bit different, then I’d definitely recommend giving the Kubu books a go. My full blog tour post is here.

Our Memory Like Dust by Gavin Chait (Doubleday Books) – 2/5

OurMemoryLikeDust

This one puzzled and perplexed me – my full review can be found here. Our Memory Like Dust wasn’t completely up my street, but I definitely think you’d enjoy it if you’re a fan of light sci-fi or dystopian fiction. Chait is a complex storyteller, using many themes, characters and contemporary issues to make a wider point about society – although I think some of these points went over my head…

The Marshking’s Daughter by Karen Dionne (Sphere) – 4/5

Marshking's Daughter

Last of all, I picked up The Marshking’s Daughter to help get me out of my slump! I was hooked from the get-go; it is thrilling, suspenseful and action packed. The story is centred around a woman who was born into captivity after her Mother was abducted – I was wary that this might read like Room by Emma Donoghue. I shouldn’t have been worried as it was completely different. Dionne creates wonderful, atmospheric scenery which chills you to the core. After finishing The Marshking’s Daughter I was excited to pick up another thriller.

What did you read in July? Do you have any recommendations? 

Book Extract: Perfect Prey by Helen Fields

#BookExtract #BlogTour @Helen_Fields @Sabah_K @AvonBooksUK

Hello! Welcome to my spot on the Perfect Prey Blog Tour. Thank you Sabah, and Avon Books, for inviting me to be part of this tour. Today I’ve got an extract from Helen Fields’ latest novel, Perfect Prey (the sequel to the gripping Perfect Remains). But, before we get into the good stuff, let me tell you a little bit about the book…

About Perfect Prey: 

PerfectPrey

The second in the terrifying DI Callanach crime series. Fans of M.J. Arlidge will be hooked from the very first page.

In the midst of a rock festival, a charity worker is sliced across the stomach. He dies minutes later. In a crowd of thousands, no one saw his attacker. The following week, the body of a primary school teacher is found in a dumpster in an Edinburgh alley, strangled with her own woollen scarf.

DI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach have no motive and no leads – until around the city, graffitied on buildings, words appear describing each victim.

It’s only when they realise the words are appearing before rather than after the murders, that they understand the killer is announcing his next victim…and the more innocent the better.

Author: Helen Fields
Published by: Avon Books
Paperback: 464 pages, published 27th July 2017

About Helen Fields: 

Helen Fields studied law at the University of East Anglia, then went on to the Inns of Court School of Law in London. After completing her pupillage, she joined chambers in Middle Temple where she practised criminal and family law for thirteen years. After her second child was born, Helen left the Bar.

Together with her husband David, she runs a film production company, acting as script writer and producer. Perfect Prey is her second novel following Perfect Remains. Both are set in Scotland, where Helen feels most at one with the world. Helen and her husband now live in Hampshire with their three children and two dogs.

Without further ado, I hope you enjoy this extract from Perfect Prey:

Detective Inspector Luc Callanach stood at the spot where the young man had taken his last breath. His identity had not yet been established. The police had pieced together remarkably little in the hour since the victim’s death. It was amazing, Callanach thought, how in a crowd of thousands they had found not a single useful witness.

The young man had simply ceased his rhythmic jumping, crumpling slowly, falling left and right, forwards and backwards, against his fellow festival-goers, finally collapsing, clutching his stomach. It had annoyed some of them, disrupted their viewing pleasure. He’d been assumed drunk at first, drug-addled second. Only when a barefooted teenage girl had slipped in the pool of blood did the alarm ring out, and amidst the decibels it had taken an age for the message to get through. Eventually the screams had drowned out the music when the poor boy had been rolled over, his spilled entrails slinking closely in his wake like some alien pet, sparkling with reflected sunshine in the gloss of so much brilliant blood.

The uniforms hadn’t been far away. It was a massive public event with every precaution taken, or so they’d thought. But making their way through the throng, police officers first, then paramedics, and clearing an area then managing the scene, had been a logistical disaster. Callanach looked skywards and sighed. The crime scene was more heavily trodden than nightclub toilets on New Year’s Eve. There was enough DNA floating around to populate a new planet. It was a forensic free-for-all. The body itself was already on its way to the mortuary, having been photographed in situ for all the good it would do. The corpse had been moved so many times by do-gooders, panicked bystanders, the police, medics, before finally being left to rest on a bed of trampled grass and kicked-up dirt. The chief pathologist, Ailsa Lambert, had been unusually quiet, issuing instructions only to treat the body with care and respect, and to move him swiftly to a place where there would be no more prying cameras or hysterical caterwauling. Callanach was there to secure the scene – a concept beyond irony – before following Ailsa to her offices.

In the brief look Callanach had got, the victim’s face had said it all. Eyes screwed tight as if willing himself to wake from a nightmare, mouth caught open between gasp and scream. Had he been shouting a name? Callanach wondered. Did he know his assailant? He’d been carrying no identifica­tion, merely some loose change in his shorts, not even so much as a watch on his wrist. Only a key on a piece of string around his neck. However swiftly death had come, the terror of knowing you were fading, of sensing that hope was a missed bus, while all around you leapt and sang, must have seemed the cruellest joke. And at the very end, hearing only screams, seeing panic and horror in the sea of eyes above. What must it have been like, Callanach wondered, to have died alone on the hard ground in such bright sunlight? The last thing the victim had known of the world could only have been unalle­viated dread.

Callanach studied the domed stage, rigged with sound and lighting gear, and prayed that one of the cameras mounted there might have caught a useful fragment. Someone rushing, leaving, moving differently to the rest of the crowd. The Meadows, an expanse of park and playing fields to the south of the city centre, were beautiful and peaceful on a normal day. Mothers brought their toddlers, dog walkers roamed and joggers timed

the circuit. Strains of ‘Summer is A-Coming In’ sounded in the back of Callanach’s mind from a screening of the original version of The Wicker Man that DI Ava Turner had dragged him to a few months ago. He’d found Edward Woodward’s acting mesmerising, and the images of men and women in animal masks preparing to make their human sacrifice had stayed with him long after the projector had been switched off. It wasn’t a million miles away from the circus in the centre of which this young man had perished.

‘Sir, the people standing behind the victim have been identified. They’re available to speak now,’ a constable said.

Be sure to swing by the blog in August, when I hope to publish a full review! You can check the other posts on the blog tour out here: 

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Blog Tour: Dying to Live by Michael Stanley (Orenda Books)

#BlogTour #BookReview #OrendaBooks @OrendaBooks @annecater

Hello everyone! Welcome to my stop on the Dying To Live Blog Tour – thanks Anne and Orenda Books for inviting me along for the ride.

About the book:

Front Cover Dying to Live

When the body of a Bushman is discovered near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the death is written off as an accident. But all is not as it seems. An autopsy reveals that, although he’s clearly very old, his internal organs are puzzlingly young. What’s more, an old bullet is lodged in one of his muscles… but where is the entry wound?

When the body is stolen from the morgue and a local witch doctor is reported missing, Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu gets involved. But did the witch doctor take the body to use as part of a ritual? Or was it the American anthropologist who’d befriended the old Bushman? As Kubu and his brilliant young colleague, Detective Samantha Khama, follow the twisting trail through a confusion of rhino-horn smugglers, foreign gangsters and drugs manufacturers, the wider and more dangerous the case seems to grow.

A fresh, new slice of ‘Sunshine Noir’, Dying to Live is a classic tale of greed, corruption and ruthless thuggery, set in one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, and featuring one of crime fiction’s most endearing and humane heroes.

Author: Michael Stanley
Published by: Orenda Books
Paperback: Published 30th July 2017 

My thoughts:

Dying to Live is the sixth book in the Detective Kubu series – slight disclaimer: I haven’t actually read any of the preceding books, but I don’t think that impacted my reading experience as this worked fantastically as a solid stand-alone crime novel. From the outset, the premise of the crime is intriguing and hooks you in, as Kubu and Samantha untangle the crime the book is filled with tension, twists and turns, all of which kept me engaged throughout.

Alongside the main plot there is a parallel storyline where we get to know more about Kubu’s family and his daughter’s fight with HIV – this made his character likeable, giving him depth and compassion.

I loved the setting of the book, the African landscape added a different dimension, making it stand out from so many British crime books, which can sometimes feel a bit samey! Tales of bushmen and witchdoctors bought the book to life with snippets of history and vivid colour. I also liked how the authors created conflicting character opinions through their beliefs of the witchdoctors – it created atmosphere, as well as a sense of uncertainly. If you’re looking for a fairly light crime novel, which is a bit different, then I’d definitely recommend giving the Kubu books a go.

About the authors:

Michael Stanley.jpg 

Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger. The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award, and book 5, A Death in the Family, was an international bestseller.

You can catch the other blog tour posts here:

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I received an advanced copy of Dying to Live from Orenda Books in exchange for a fair, honest and unbiased review. Thanks Karen, thanks Anne! 

Blog Tour: Two Lost Boys by L.F. Robertson

#TitanBooks #BookReview #BlogTour @TitanBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Two Lost Boys by L.F. Robertson. A big thank you to Philippa at Titan Books for organizing, and including me, on this blog tour.

About the book:

Lost Boys_final

 

Janet Moodie has spent years as a death row appeals attorney. Overworked and recently widowed, she’s had her fill of hopeless cases, and is determined that this will be her last. Her client is Marion ‘Andy’ Hardy, convicted along with his brother Emory of the rape and murder of two women. But Emory received a life sentence while Andy got the death penalty, labeled the ringleader despite his low IQ and Emory’s dominant personality.

Convinced that Andy’s previous lawyers missed mitigating evidence that would have kept him off death row, Janet investigates Andy’s past. She discovers a sordid and damaged upbringing, a series of errors on the part of his previous counsel, and most worrying of all, the possibility that there is far more to the murders than was first thought. Andy may be guilty, but does he deserve to die?

Paperback: 400 pages
Published by:
Titan Books, 16 May – you can order a copy here

My thoughts…

As with any crime book I will keep my review brief as I don’t want to give away any spoilers, ruining the twists and turns of the book for you!

Two Lost Boys is a legal thriller that grips hard as we follow Janet Moodie’s progress during the sentencing of Andy Hardy.

If you’re interested in learning more about the justice system and US prisons then this one is for you. Whilst the characters in Two Lost Boys are complex, the plot and narrative is a little simple, but that’s no bad thing as the story flows exceptionally well. For me, Robertson’s career and legal insights bring the story to life and are what make it.

Justice sits at the heart of the novel; with a man on death row, will a fair trial be had? Innocence, guilt, mercy and grief are also explored throughout, with Robertson’s writing making the legal technicalities easy to digest and understand.

Overall, Two Lost Boys is a compelling, brooding novel full of dark, intense pockets – to the point where it felt quite oppressive at times. I found it fascinating how Robertson drew on her professional experiences to write the book; this made it an authentic, detailed read, with real insight into the criminal justice system.

About the author:

L.F. Robertson is a practising defense attorney who for the last two decades has handled only death penalty appeals. Linda is the co-author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Unsolved Mysteries, and a contributor to the forensic handbooks How to Try a Murder and Irrefutable Evidence. She has had short stories published in the anthologies My Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: the Hidden Years and Sherlock Holmes: The American Years.

You can see the other posts from the blog tour here:

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I received an advanced copy of Two Lost Boys from the lovely Philippa at Titan Books for an honest and unbiased review – thank you, 

 

 

 

Blog Tour: The Search by Howard Linskey

#BlogTour #BookReview @PenguinUKBooks @HowardLinskey @JennyPlatt90

Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Search by Howard Linskey – I’ve got a review of the book for you today. Enjoy!

A bit about the book…

TheSearchCover

Someone knows where the bodies are buried…

Little Susan Verity went missing during the heatwave of 1976. An unprecedented amount of police resource went into finding her, but to no avail. Until now. 

Convicted serial killer Adrian Wicklow was always the prime suspect. In the past, he’s repeatedly lied to the police about where Susan’s body is buried – playing a sick game from behind bars. But this time, he says, he’ll tell the truth. Because Adrian Wicklow is dying.

Detective Ian Bradshaw works with investigative journalists Helen Norton and Tom Carney to find the body. However, this is Wicklow’s life’s work. Would a murderer on death’s door give up his last secret so easily…?

The Search is the third book in the series, with No Name Lane and Behind Dead Eyes preceding it. If you’ve not read any of Linskey’s previous books, don’t fear as The Search works wonderfully as a standalone novel.

Paperback: 4th May 2017
Published by: Penguin Books

My thoughts… 

Set in Durham and centred around the case of missing Susan Verity, The Search is told from multiple perspectives – which I’m a huge fan of – as Detective Ian Bradshaw teams up with investigative journalists Helen Norton and Tom Carney to solve the 20 year old, re-opened mystery.

Early on, Bradshaw is sent to the prison where the terminally ill, suspected murderer Adrian Wicklow is locked up. The mind games begin as Wicklow gives Bradshaw an audio recording of his ‘real story’, promising that it would lead him to the missing bodies. This game of cat and mouse made me squirm; it was intense and angry, played out so well by the two characters, making my heart beat and my blood boil.

Wicklow is an intriguingly devious character, with a complex and troubled disposition. I found it fascinating how Howard Linskey portrayed him, as well as the affect that his personality had on DS Bradshaw – the more that he is exposed to Wicklow’s evil side, the more the case starts encroaching on his personal life, with the onset of night terrors. I was also fascinated by Helen and Tom’s relationship and was hoping for a different outcome (I won’t say any more as I don’t want to spoil any of the plot!). The parallel storyline of the mystery woman meant there was always lots going on, keeping me thoroughly interested throughout the book.

Whilst the story is a slow burner, it is also full of great dialogue and accurate descriptions. The Search is full of plot twists and the clues slowly unfold into a surprising conclusion. This book has everything I love (and want!) from a crime thriller: gritty characters, multiple perspectives, a shifting time narrative and parallel plots.

The Search gets a big thumbs up from me!

4/5

Give this a go if you enjoyed: Ragdoll by Daniel Cole or Ashes to Ashes by Paul Finch

About Howard Linskey: Howard Linskey is the author of the David Blake series, the first of which, The Drop, was selected as one of the ‘Top Five Crime Thrillers of the Year’ by The Times, and he has been called “one of the most commanding crime fiction practitioners at work today” by the Financial Times. His latest, The Search is out next week. Perfect for fans of gritty BBC Drama’s Broadchurch and The Fall, The Search is completely gripping and works brilliantly as a standalone title.

The Search blog tour has one more stop tomorrow (11th May), but you can find the other stops here:

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I received an advanced copy of The Search from the publishers in exchange for a fair an unbiased review. 

Book Review: Love Me Not (DI Helen Grace #7) by M.J. Arlidge

#Penguin #BookReview @MJArlidge

This review contains a couple of small spoilers – beware!

As a long-time fangirl of DI Helen Grace I’ve been super excited for the next instalment in the series; it was almost time to get my next fix. Being an eager beaver I’d pre-ordered a copy of the seventh book as I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, however in the end the book Gods were looking down on me and I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy for review from the publicist (Thank you Angela, you made my day!).

MJArlidge

Set over a single 24-hour period, Love Me Not is a fast-paced thriller with short, punchy chapters that are punctuated by time as the action bounds in. Early in the morning DI Grace is confronted with a brutal death – an innocent woman has been killed on her way to work. Soon the team is called out to the next crime, which is when they realise they have more on their hands than originally thought. Once again a serial killer is on the loose. I won’t say too much else about the plot as I don’t want to give anything major away.

I read Love Me Not in two short sittings – from the first page I was on the edge of my seat and eager to know the conclusion. Like the others in the series it doesn’t disappoint, it’s a crime thriller full of adrenaline, action, gore and suspense. Arlidge’s writing is succinct and snappy; it never fails to hook me in.

Love Me Not didn’t contain as much of Helen Grace’s backstory and personal life as the other six, which makes it great as a stand-alone novel if you’re yet to read any others in the series. She shows a lot more humility and lightness, with little focus on her dark past. As usual, the characters were dark and brooding – I was convinced that Arlidge was going to kill off the pesky, determined journalist Emilia Garanita, but sadly not this time!

If you are new to M.J. Arlidge’s work I heartily recommend that you start at book number one: Eeny Meeny. You won’t be disappointed!

I can’t wait to see what is next for Helen Grace!

 4/5

Give it a go if you enjoyed:  The DS Heck series by Paul Finch or Jo Nesbo

Author: M. J. Arlidge
Published by: Michael Joseph (Penguin)
Hardback: 352 pages

Love Me Not will be published 18th May and can be pre-ordered through my book depository link, here.