Tag: book reviews

Discussion Post – Book Star Ratings

So, you’ve read a book! Congratulations! But, where do you even begin when deciding what star rating to give it?

These are questions a lot of people probably ask themselves when they are looking to leave it a rating on the likes of Amazon, Goodreads etc. The honest answer is, there isn’t a right or wrong way to do it. Ratings (and reviews) by nature are subjective and our individual experiences of a book are completely different. So don’t worry! You can’t do it wrong.

Different people have different ways of tackling this problem. In today’s post, I’m going to be discussing some of the different ways in which you might approach rating a book. Maybe you don’t like the way you rate a book now, you’re curious as to what other methods there are or are just not sure how it’s best to go about it. Hopefully today’s post can inspire you!

 

Emotively

Everyone interprets media differently. Hundreds of people can consume the same thing and end up with polar opposite opinions. That’s the good thing about being human. We all have a unique perspective based on a number of factors – our upbringing, religious or political views or even just personal preference.

One of the ways in which a book can be rated is purely based on how it made you feel. That’s not to say an book that made you cry should be rated as one star though! That’s not what you’re aiming for here. But I mean by emotively is how strongly a book makes you feel. Do you absolutely love it? Or, were you a little bit uninspired? Can you explain exactly why? For this method you don’t particularly have to be able to justify why it made you feel that way (although if you are writing a full review it does help to explain to other readers).

 

Methodically

I’ve seen readers rate books before based on a combination of factors. They may look at things such as the plot, character development and a number of other fixed topics. They’ll rate the book on each of these topics and then give the book the overall average of those scores.

This is a very fair way to rate a book and if you aren’t 100% sure how is best, this can be a way to help you along. There are set criteria and the structure may help you think about certain aspects of a book more specifically. Reviewing emotively may suits some, however anyone looking for a little bit of guidance as to what may be more important may feel more confident with bit of structure.

It’s also a more fair method of rating a book if you want to attribute each ‘topic’ of consideration in your rating in equal measure. As to whether that is suitable is entirely up to you – it’s your opinion that counts after all!

 

Combination of the two

Personally, I’m a combination of both of these methods. Whilst I don’t specifically have a set list of factors I consider when rating a book, I will take into account several things when deciding my rating for the book. I will think about the plot; whether it’s appropriate for the genre and how well it is written to give a couple of examples. I think about the characters and how well the storyline/narrative allowed them to develop etc. But I’m not rigid on this. I don’t have a set list of things I’ll consider and I don’t rate the book individually against each topic and average it. I do still allow my overall subjective feelings towards the book to govern the rating.

One reason I don’t rate my books methodically it’s because I don’t value individual factors equally. A book may have fantastic character development and a really exciting plot, if I can’t get on with the writing style then that’s a deal-breaker for me. Since that is more important to me, rating a book based on that and attributing it equally against other factors doesn’t sit well with me. My experience of the book in that instance is brought down considerably more because it’s more important to me.

The most important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. How you decide to rate a book is entirely your decision. If you’re not sure which method is best, have a go at all of them! If any one of them is easier than the other than perhaps this is the way forward for you. You may have already decided how you do it – and that’s fine too!

The point of providing a rating is to express your personal opinion. Nobody can tell you that’s wrong. So long as you are being honest, that’s all there is to it!

How do you rate a book? Do you use any of these methods, or do you rate a book in another way? If you do I’ll be really interested to hear how you do it!

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Book Review: The Thief Taker – C. S. Quinn

In today’s book review post I’m sharing my thoughts on a book that I read around the time I moved house last year. That seems crazy to me because that was well over a year ago! It just goes to show how far behind I am on some of my reviews. Needless to say that after today’s post I can take one more off my list and I hope you enjoy hearing my thoughts on this book.

The Thief Taker appealed to me for its setting. It seemed apt given that we were in the height of our first wave of the pandemic locally at the time I read the book. Maybe that isn’t the best choice for anyone who is superstitious; I am not however and I went on to enjoy this book!

 

The Thief Taker – C. S. Quinn

Goodreads – The Thief Taker

The year is 1665. Black Death ravages London. A killer stalks the streets in a plague doctor’s hood and mask…

When a girl is gruesomely murdered, thief taker Charlie Tuesday reluctantly agrees to take on the case. But the horrific remains tell him this is no isolated death. The killer’s mad appetites are part of a master plan that could destroy London – and reveal the dark secrets of Charlie’s own past.

Now the thief taker must find this murderous mastermind before the plague obliterates the evidence street by street. This terrifying pursuit will take Charlie deep into the black underbelly of old London, where alchemy, witchcraft and blood-spells collide.

In a city drowned in darkness, death could be the most powerful magic of all.

 

My Thoughts…

As I said in my introduction, the main reason I wanted to read this book was to indulge in the setting. British history ironically wasn’t touched on all that much as part of my education. It was there a bit, but I spent most of my time studying the world wars, the Cold War and the economic Boom and Bust in the 1920’s and 30’s. With that in mind, I wanted to try something new. This particular book appealed because in addition it also had an element of mystery – a murder to be solved. It’s a genre that I read from time to time and more often than not enjoy, so I felt it was a safe bet to try something new but equally with a touch of familiarity.

I really enjoyed the mystery element. Can I say that I expected the book and the plot would turn out the way you did? Absolutely not! The story had a far wider scope and I imagined but honestly, I really enjoyed that.

The book is brilliant in its description of London at its worst. If you don’t have a strong stomach then maybe take this with a pinch of salt. The narrative encourages the imagination to run wild with vivid descriptions of just how atrocious conditions were at the time. Imagine bodies rotting in the streets. People hiding themselves away and turning on anyone they think to be sick. The city turns into a cesspit; it’s one thing to have a vague understanding of how things happened in reality, reading a book such as this brings it into perspective.

With society in a state of breakdown and sickness everywhere, the book is full of tension. Where is safe? Who is lurking behind close doors or in the next alleyway – a criminal… or something worse? Our main character finds himself looking over his shoulder constantly and with London being incredibly unsafe, the narrative is full of action to keep us as readers interested.

There is definitely far more that can be added to the series. The plot has been left pretty wide open after this book so it will be interesting to see where the next instalment takes us. For historical fiction, I enjoyed the change of setting and pace and for anyone looking to delve into British history, or at least a very dark side of history, this may just be for you!

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Blog Tour Review: The Dark Chorus – Ashley Meggitt

Hello guys and welcome to yet another blog tour post… the second in as many days! Today’s post is all about The Dark Chorus by Ashley Meggitt. As a huge psychological thriller fan, I was really looking forward to reading this last month. The book didn’t disappoint either –in fact, it’s pretty high up there on my best reads of the year!

As always, I take the opportunity here to say a huge thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and the author for organising the tour. It’s a pleasure to be concluding the tour on my blog today.

Would you like to find out more about The Dark Chorus? The details are below: –

 

The Dark Chorus – Ashley Meggitt

The Dark Chorus by Ashley Meggitt | Goodreads

Oblivio salvationem Angelis opperitur

Oblivion awaits the Angel’s salvation

The Boy can see lost souls.

He has never questioned the fact that he can see them. He thinks of them as the Dark Chorus. When he sets out to restore the soul of his dead mother it becomes clear that his ability comes from within him. It is a force that he cannot ignore – the last shard of the shattered soul of an angel.

To be restored to the kingdom of light, the shard must be cleansed of the evil that infects it – but this requires the corrupt souls of the living!

With the help from Makka, a psychotically violent young man full of hate, and Vee, an abused young woman full of pain, the Boy begins to kill.

Psychiatrist Dr Eve Rhodes is seconded to assist the police investigation into the Boy’s apparently random ritualistic killings. As the investigation gathers pace, a pattern emerges. When Eve pulls at the thread from an article in an old psychology journal, what might otherwise have seemed to her a terrible psychotic delusion now feels all too real…

Will the Boy succeed in restoring the angel’s soul to the light? Can Eve stop him, or will she be lost to realm of the Dark Chorus?

 

Purchase Link – http://mybook.to/thedarkchorus

 

My Thoughts…

Firstly, I can’t believe that The Dark Chorus is a debut novel. The story, narrative style and character development in The Dark Chorus are absolutely fantastic. I was under the impression from the book that the author was an experienced writer – the book is that well written!

I enjoyed the story being told from the perspective of a teenage boy. That might sound strange, but it was a refreshing change to have a main character with a bit of youth and naivety. The vast majority of books I read are written about and told from the perspective of adults. That’s perfectly okay, but I enjoyed seeing the Boy’s world from a younger perspective. There are only a couple of books now that I have read from juvenile main characters, and I have loved those too.

The Boy’s background is unique, and as a result of that and his abilities, he is perceived as being mentally ill. He can see and interact with The Dark Chorus, the souls of those that have been unable to pass on into the afterlife. After rescuing his mother’s soul from the cacophony of the asylum, he discovers his calling and sets out to fulfil his duty – to cleanse the soul of the angel inside of him.

The Dark Chorus lives up to its name. As the synopsis indicates, death and violence are significant in the narrative. There is also a particular scene that’s a near miss on sexual abuse, so that’s a word of warning to anyone in case you’re not comfortable with reading it. The main characters of the book, the Boy, Makka and Vee are all troubled individuals. They have each gone through their own trials before meeting, and together, the three of them are formidable. As a former psychology student, I enjoyed the back story of each character and how it shaped the characters we see in the narrative today.

Regardless of the dark subject matter and theme, The Dark Chorus was really easy to pick up and enjoy. If like me, you are a huge fan of psychological fiction then I strongly recommend you give this book a try. You won’t regret it!

 

 Author Bio

Ashley Meggitt lives near Cambridge, UK, with his wife Jane. He left school to join a psychedelic rock band when he realised that sex, drugs, and rock and roll was a thing. Subsequently he went back to education and became head of IT for a Cambridge University College. In recent years Ashley has retrained in psychology and is now an associate lecturer in sports psychology. He is studying for his PhD. He also holds an MA in Creative Writing. The Dark Chorus is his debut novel.

Social Media Links –

www.ashleymeggitt.com

www.facebook.com/ashleymeggittbooks

twitter.com/CallMeReg

www.instagram.com/ashleymeggitt39/

Book Birthday Blitz Review: The Rue Stone – Janet Stock

Hi everyone and welcome to today’s review of The Rue Stone as part of the organised book birthday blitz blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. The Rue Stone is an entertaining fantasy novella, so if that sounds like something you are interested in, please stick around to read on. Before diving into the detail, I’ like to say a huge thank you to Rachel and the author of the novella, Janet Stock, for the opportunity to take part in the tour!

In addition to my review, today’s post also provides the opportunity for UK readers to enter a giveaway and win a paperback copy of the novella! Those details can be found later in the post! For now, though, let’s talk about what I loved about the book!

 

The Rue Stone – Janet Stock

Goodreads – The Rue Stone

The rue is a mysterious and rare being who is rarely seen, and Janna is amazed when one arrives at the inn where she works, looking for a room. The next morning, her life has changed, and she is left wondering whether she will ever see him again, but only time and the rue stone know the answer to that question.

 

Purchase Links –  Amazon UK      Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

Whether you are a regular reader of fantasy novels or are looking to explore the genre, The Rue Stone is a perfect read regardless of audience. As a fairytale-like novella, it is really easy to pick up; there isn’t a huge commitment to a long, complex storyline to invest into. I personally read The Rue Stone in one sitting, so it’s also ideal for anyone who doesn’t have much time to set aside and read.

Even though the novella is only 80 pages, there is plenty of beautiful descriptions and folklore incorporated into the narrative. The rue are mysterious, magical beings of legend. Janna has heard the stories, but she learns the truth of them when a rue walks into the inn she works in and changes her life. There is a great deal of mystery about the rue and they have plenty of potential to be explored further.

There is an element of romance in the novella, but I liked that it didn’t overshadow the plot. Regular readers of mine will know that I’m not a big romance fan, but the budding relationship in The Rue Stone isn’t too heavy.

The amount of detail in the background of the story is well proportioned with current events. I would, however, like to see more from this world and the backstory to the rue explored further. Having read this particular story from the perspective of Janna I’m intrigued to know how different the story would be from Arval’s viewpoint. There is definitely potential in this story for further stories and I would definitely be interested in seeing Janet’s fantasy world explored in more depth.

 

Author Bio

Having written all of my life, I decided to self-publish my writing when I turned 50. I have published four books since then. Two are collections of short stories; Dark & Fluffy; Dark & Fluffy II and 500 Words, which is flash fiction. My latest book The Rue Stone is a fantasy novella.

My passion is medieval fiction, and I am working on my first novel The Little Servant – The Wait’s Son, set in the 12th century, in Lincoln, where I live.

All four books are available on Amazon.

Social Media Links –

www.janetstockwriter.wordpress.com

fb Janetstockwriter

@janetstock12

 

Giveaway to Win 5 paperback copies of The Rue Stone (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494390/

Blog Tour Review: Mindworm – David Pollard

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s review of Mindworm as part of the ongoing blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. Thank you to both Rachel and the author David Pollard for a copy of the book in exchange for today’s review.

 

Mindworm – David Pollard

Goodreads – Mindworm

The placid life of a college librarian is plunged into a desperate fight for survival when he witnesses the death of his only friend. Suddenly he is forced to confront disturbing changes in his nature and appetites and their consequences. Suspected of murder and pursued by an implacable police detective he runs – but is he running from the law or from himself?

 

Pre-Order Links: Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

The synopsis of this book caught my attention immediately. I naturally have some compulsion to draw towards other book-minded folks, as would be expected really. Not only that though, but there’s enough there to form an idea in your mind of what it’s about but also keep you guessing. In the end, Mindworm was unlike anything I expected… in a good way! It is a lot more sinister and had more of a fantasy/supernatural element than I anticipated. I love that kind of thing, so that worked well for me! If you like supernatural as well then Mindworm is the perfect novella to pick up.

At around 100 pages Mindworm is quite a short read. Even so, there is plenty of action driving the plot forward and compelling you find out what happens next. Each chapter is concise as well, so Mindworm is really easy to read as a result – I personally read it in a couple of sittings.

Given the length and plotline of the story, I think there are a good number of main and supporting characters. The story is told from the perspective of our main character the librarian, but there is a whole host of characters that flesh out the story. Equally, each character is distinctive and so there aren’t too many to make it difficult to remember who is who. How much each character is developed is really dependent on their significance in the story. Some were only quite superficial but they only had a small impact on the plot, so overall it’s proportional.

Mindworm is an enjoyable novella to pick up if you are looking for a quick, intense and sinister read. The book could definitely remain standalone, but I think there is potential to expand this into a series. It’ll be interesting to see whether this does in fact happen. I would definitely pick up any future books based on what I have read already!

 

Author Bio

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After more than forty years of paid employment David Pollard retired to glorious Hereford and immersed himself in the theatrical activities of the county. He is currently Chair of Hereford County Drama Festival.

David  sees himself as a teller of tales – he is a playwright, author of short stories and novels. He has a preference for dark and dystopian material. He is also an actor and theatrical director. Among the many authors admired by David is Robert Louis Stevenson – for his website David adopted the appellation Tuistala – Samoan for ‘Teller of Tales’ which the Samoan people called RLS.

Several of David’s plays have been published by Lazybee Scripts – one of which ‘Aspects of a Betrayal’ was shortlisted for the Kenneth Branagh prize at the Windsor Fringe Festival.

David has two works published on KDP/Amazon:

‘His Cat and Other Strange Tales’ – a collection of macabre short stories

‘The Alienation of Ludovic Weiss’ – a psychological thriller

A third book ‘Mindworm ‘ is scheduled for publication in September 2020

When not writing, directing or acting David runs a podcast platform for the streaming of radio plays and short story readings – Hand to Mouth Sound Theatre.

 

For relaxation David reads voraciously with a liking for history and thriller fiction. He also enjoys country walks of the strolling variety.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @dpollardauthor

Website: www.thetusitala.co.uk 

Book Review: The God Game – Danny Tobey

Hi everyone! I’m glad you can join me for today’s book review of The God Game by Danny Tobey. I was very kindly sent a copy of this book for review by Gollancz. The synopsis caught my eye immediately and I knew this was a book I was going to really enjoy – I wasn’t disappointed! Thanks to Gollancz for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for a review. As always, the opinions stated below are honest and my own.

 

The God Game – Danny Tobey

Goodreads – The God Game

For fans of Stranger Things and Ready Player OneThe God Game is a brilliantly plotted science-fiction thriller about a VR game in which the stakes are impossibly high: if you die in the game, you die in real life

Five best friends in a high school computer club get sucked into an underground hacker’s game run by a mysterious A.I. that thinks it is God. It’s all fun and games until people start to get hurt.

And the stakes keep getting higher. As the Game pits them against each other and turns their high school upside down, it offers the ultimate promise – win and learn the meaning of life; die in the game, and die for real.

 

Purchase Links:   Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

The God Game cleverly combines its sci-fi/fantasy genre with thriller to keep readers on the edge of our seats.

The most chilling part of the narrative is that, if such a game existed, I honestly think some kids today would buy into it. I graduated school a good few years ago now, but recently enough to remember what it was like. Peer pressure would definitely do its part in egging kids on to push the boundaries and do something they would regret later.

I enjoyed how well the sci-fi elements of the novel were written to be accessible to all. I didn’t find the language too technical or difficult to read. Anyone could pick this book up and understand what is going on.

I enjoyed the variety of characters in the novel. The dynamic of the group and the individuals within has a significant impact on the narrative and how each character responds to the circumstances they find themselves in. By the end of the book, I felt I knew them all well as if friends of my own. They aren’t the crowd I would choose, but the narrative is so immersive that you come to know them well by the end. The difficult and moral decisions they have to make give us an intimate knowledge of where their boundaries lie.

Sci-fi is one of those genres where I might not pick it up for a while, but then I’ll read a lot at once to make up for the fact. I read The God Game at the end of March this year and that was the fourth sci-fi book of the year. After reading it, I read another two books immediately after this. Despite this, the storyline of this particularly prominent and memorable. It’s a unique story and one that I think will be popular with a YA audience.

 

 

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Spotlight Feature Post: Justice Gone – Nicholas Lombardi Jr

Today’s blog post is a spotlight feature for a fantastic legal thriller novel that is very relevant to a lot of discussions ongoing at the moment. I actually read and reviewed this particular book back in April 2019 as part of a blog tour shortly after its publication. Since then, the book has gone on to win many awards, with its fifth and latest just recently.

To celebrate the occasion, I spoke to the author about his inspiration to write the book, how it relates to current events and what more we can expect from him. Before that though, here are the details for Justice Gone: –

 

Justice Gone – Nicholas Lombardi Jr

Goodreads – Justice Gone

WINNER OF FIVE AWARDS

  • 2020 INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD
  • NEW YORK CITY BIG BOOK AWARD 2019
  • 2019 AMERICAN FICTION AWARD
  • NATIONAL INDIE EXCELLENCY AWARD – Best Legal Thriller of 2019
  • SILVER MEDAL WINNER 2019 READERS’ FAVORITES AWARDS

Chosen by Wiki.ezvid.com among their list of 10 Gripping and Intelligent Legal Thrillers

 

The courtroom scenes are wonderfully written…the characters are well described and the author paints a picture of each in the mind of the reader…Strong plot, strong characters and a strong writing style that I really enjoyed. This one is a definite “thumbs-up.” Strongly recommend! I look forward to reading additional works by N. Lombardi, Jr.

Kim M Aalaie, Author’s Den

 

One of my favorite suspense novels of the year. It will make you question the legal system.

The Eclectic Review

The courtroom action is excellent, trimmed to the most gripping parts of the trial, with plenty of emotional impact…a fairly realistic portrayal of the way small-town US society works…a fast-moving story with plenty of dramatic moments, and a big twist in the final pages.

Crime Review 

 

An act of police brutality hurls a small town into a turmoil of rage and fear, igniting a relentless witch hunt and ending in the trial of the decade.

“When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.

A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase.

Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture.

Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?”

 

Purchase Links: –   

Amazon UK   Amazon US   Amazon India   Barnes & Noble   Book Depository   Waterstones   Kobo

 

 

Author Interview

What led you to writing this novel?

I can’t recall exactly how I came across this story: a homeless man beaten to death by police in a small town in California, but I do remember a series of YouTube videos that documented this event. There was a video recording taken from a closed circuit TV camera at the adjacent bus stop showing the beating, a silent witness to a brutal act.  What was more appalling to me than the impending assault, was the exchange of two of the police officers with the soon-to-be victim, a harrowing display of sadistic provocation. The fact that the officers were indicted and brought to trial at all was a precedent – up to that time no police officer had ever been prosecuted for excessive force in the history of Orange County, a tradition that likely imparted a sentiment of immunity on the part of the accused officers when they were partaking in their vicious act.

In addition, videos of street protests decrying such police violence illustrated the collective shock of a small town. The town was Fullerton, California; the man was Kelly Thomas. The year was 2011

This case was the seed from which my novel, Justice Gone, sprouted.

 

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How do you think it could contribute to the currently ongoing discussion?

The incident of excessive force in Justice Gone is not an isolated action, but occurs within the context of local politics and a flawed legal system, where outcomes are determined by the attitudes of people. I feel that a discussion of the violation of civil rights by law enforcement should include these elements, as they may be responsible for any sense of impunity the involved officers may have.

 

Are there any personal experiences that might have (inadvertently) made their way into the book?

Fortunately, I’ve never had an encounter with a police officer, nor was I ever trapped in the unfeeling machine of the legal system, but then again, I’ve lived most of my life outside of the United States.

 

In the current call for books by own voices, how do you feel as a white person narrating the viewpoint of an African-American person?

Well, I’ve never attempted to do that. I don’t think it would work. Justice Gone is written in a show, not tell, style of narrative. Essentially, these are the characters, this is what they do, this is what they say, and this is what happens in the story.

 

The book was published in February 2019. You must have worked on it for a while before then. Anytime during that process, did you expect the turmoil to reach the pitch it has now?

I expected the rage against abusive police actions to be sustained, and suspected that it might grow with time, but I wasn’t certain, because sometimes people forget until the next time it happens.

 

Stepping back from the book itself, what is your writing process?

Basically to relax and let my mind wander over the story – that’s the way my ideas come, usually with a glass of wine.

 

Is there anything else you want to convey to your readers?

To the few readers I have, I would like to say that we haven’t seen the last of Nat Bodine, the blind lawyer, nor the last of legal fiction that encompasses social issues. The matter of the death penalty, instances of racial discrimination, legal representation for the mentally disabled, and the sentencing of juveniles to life without parole are among a host of topics that can be explored through fiction. Although tragic, I intend to write about such inequities while infusing a note of hope in the stories.

 

About the Author

N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

 

Visit his Goodreads and Facebook pages!

Blog Tour Review: The Dead Tell Lies – J F Kirwan

Good morning everyone and welcome to today’s blog tour post for The Dead Tell Lies by J. F. Kirwan. It is books like this that make me very happy to be a book blogger and to have a place to tell people that they really must, absolutely and unequivocally read a certain book. I finished The Dead Tell Lies less than half an hour before writing this post and I can hand on heart say that this is one of the best psychological thrillers I have ever read!

Before I get stuck in with rambling about just how great it is, I want to say a massive thank you to the author and to Rachel @ Rachel’s Random Resources for the chance to read this book and take part in the blog tour. If you haven’t been following it or want to check out more details/opinions of the book, you can check out the other participants of the tour at the end of the post. Please go and check out their posts as well! There are also more posts coming up in the next few days, so don’t forget to keep an eye out for those too!

 

The Dead Tell Lies – J. F. Kirwan

Goodreads – The Dead Tell Lies

Greg Adams, a criminal psychologist at Scotland Yard, specialises in bringing serial killers to justice. He tracks down a spree serial killer nicknamed the Divine, who has already killed six teenage girls and is about to kill a seventh. Greg works out the location where he is hiding and joins a raid. The police capture the Divine and save the girl, but on the very same night, Greg’s wife is brutally murdered by another serial killer, known as the Dreamer.

A year later, unable to bring the killer to justice, Greg has quit his job and is ready to end it all, when he receives a phone call from a man who tells him the Dreamer is dead, and that he didn’t kill Greg’s wife, Kate.

Greg returns to Scotland Yard to work for Superintendent Chief Detective Donaldson in the hope he can re-examine the case with the help of two new detectives, Finch and Matthews.

As Greg delves into the case further, he becomes more convinced that the Dreamer wasn’t the man responsible for his wife’s murder.

But if it wasn’t the Dreamer, who was it?

In order to solve the mystery around his wife’s murder, Greg is going to have to delve even deeper into the mind of a terrifying psychopath. And this time he might not make it back in one piece…

 

Purchase Links –   Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

For me, the best indicator of a good psychological thriller is how obsessed you become about trying to work everything out. If it occupies your mind even when you have to put down the book to do the mundane things, you’re on to a good start. Find one that keeps you on the edge of your seat and guessing until all is revealed, and you are onto a winner! The Dead Tell Lies is both of these things. I have been thinking about it almost constantly for the past two days, the timeframe over which I have read the majority of the book.

The Dead Tell Lies is a psychological thriller in the literal sense; our main character Greg is a criminal psychologist, renowned for putting away six serial killers throughout his career. He has the scary ability to get into the mind of a serial killer to unravel their motives and use it to get them off the streets for good. When his wife turns up dead with the classic signature of The Dreamer’s killings, it seems that things have gotten personal.

Greg is a really likeable character. He’s wickedly smart but just as human and vulnerable as the rest of us. I think that is the part that appealed to me as a reader. He is the personality we get behind emotionally. When he summons his ‘cold fire’, his semi-detached emotional drive, to get under a serial killer’s skin and crack the case, he’s a completely different man. We stand firmly behind him as his motives are to save lives by catching the killer, but his demeanour and mental state when he is “in the zone” is unnerving!

The Dead Tell Lies is packed full of action and there is never a dull moment. It’s easy to pick up but impossible to put down once you are in the thick of the narrative and dying to know what happens next. The book is also very cleverly written. I found myself trying to find hidden clues and working out the subtext constantly, but alas, authors only leave behind clues for the things they want you as a reader to know! It makes it all the more exciting when it’s time for the big reveal.

With the way this book ended, it could equally remain a standalone or become part of a series. I seriously hope for the latter because I would love to don Greg’s shoes again and delve into another captivating thriller. I have already added another series written by this author to my TBR having loved this so much! I’ll just have to pick that up and cross my fingers in the meantime…

 

Author Bio

J. F. Kirwan is an insomniac who writes thrillers in the dead of night. He is also a psychologist, and has drawn upon this expertise, including being taught by a professor who examined serial killers for Scotland Yard, to pen the crime/mystery/thriller The Dead Tell Lies for Bloodhound Books. He wanted to shed light not only on the darkness of serial killers, but of those who track them down, who must inevitably step inside the serial killer’s worldview, and may not come out clean afterwards. He is also the author of the Nadia Laksheva thriller series for HarperCollins (66 Metres, 37 Hours and 88 North). His favourite authors include Lee Child, David Baldacci and Jo Nesbo. He is married, and has a daughter and a new grandson, and lives between Paris and London.

Social Media Links –

www.jfkirwan.com

@kirwanjf

https://www.facebook.com/kirwanjf/

Blog Tour Review: Grace & Serenity – Annalisa Crawford

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Grace & Serenity by Annalisa Crawford. I’m excited to be taking part and sharing my views on the book and the topics it covers. Usually, I’d be sharing my weekly update Sunday Summary post a little later today, but that will be going live first thing Monday morning instead.

Before we get into the details of the book and what I made of it, I always like to take the opportunity in this introduction to thank both Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and the author for the chance to take part in the tour!

Now, here are the details of the book –

 

Grace & Serenity – Annalisa Crawford

Goodreads – Grace & Serenity

Living on the streets is terrifying and exhausting. Grace’s only comforts are a steady stream of vodka, and a strange little boy who’s following her around.

At nineteen, Grace has already had a child and endured an abusive marriage. But she’s also had her baby abducted by her vengeful husband and been framed as a neglectful mother. Even her own parents doubted her version of the story. So she did the only thing that made sense to her—run away.

The streets are unforgiving. Winter is drawing in. And Grace isn’t prepared for the harsh realities of survival. At her very bleakest, a Good Samaritan swoops into her life and rescues her. With a roof over her head and food in her stomach, she longs to see her baby again.

But nothing ever comes for free.

 

Purchase Links – Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

It’s hard to imagine the struggles the young girlish version of Grace we see at the beginning of the book will go through.

One of the biggest flags for how well a character is written is how much I get emotionally involved with them. Within the first few pages, we see Grace’s planned-out life spiralling out of her grasp and into trouble. A lot of the struggles she goes through throughout the book aren’t her fault and as a reader, my heart went out to her. I wanted to help her get out of the difficult situation she found herself in, just as you would if you met this person in real life.

Another character, Neil, made my blood boil. I can think of plenty of names for this “man”, but for the sake of keeping this review PG, I won’t mention them. Even just the mention of him riled me up. From the very beginning, his controlling nature is apparent, but Grace doesn’t see his true colours until it’s too late.

Many tricky subjects are covered in the book. Domestic abuse is one of the most prominent ones, but I also suspect Grace experiences postnatal depression. It isn’t really made a point of in the book, but there are some symptoms hinted at in the narrative. It just goes to show how easily it can go undetected.

I found the structure of the book to be really easy to read. The short chapters make the text digestible and it’s easy to justify the ‘one more chapter’ before bed. It was never just one more in my case… trust me! The action moves at a compelling yet steady pace, which keeps the narrative moving along nicely.

As the book is written from the perspective of Grace we experience her life in detail. Interwoven with all the action are her intimate thoughts and feelings. It’s really easy to find yourself in her shoes and understand her position. The delicate balance of character development and action means that there is no compromise on either side; Grace & Serenity has an enjoyable, detailed storyline and strong character development.

I really enjoyed this dark contemporary novel and it has been a pleasure to share my thoughts with you for the blog tour! If you want to find out more, please check out the listings on Amazon and/or the posts of other bloggers who have also taken part in the tour.

 

Author Bio

Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, and dog.

Crawford writes dark contemporary, character-driven stories, with a hint of the paranormal.

Over the years, she has won several competitions, and had many short stories published in small press journals and online. Highlights include being placed 3rd in the Costa Short Story Award 2015 and being longlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and Bath Short Story Award in 2018.

 

Social Media Links –

Website: https://www.annalisacrawford.com/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/annalisacrawford.author

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnalisaCrawf

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annalisa_crawford/

 

Blog Tour Book Review: Magical Intelligence – M. K. Wiseman

I’m really excited to be taking part in the blog tour for Magical Intelligence by M K Wiseman. Today kickstarts the blog tour for Magical Intelligence, which will be running up until its publication next week! As a huge fan of fantasy, magic and the concept of wizard spies, I have been looking forward to reading this book and sharing my thoughts with you about it.

Before I start these posts I always like to take the time to thank both Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour and to the author for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!

Would you like to find out a little about Magical Intelligence before we jump into my thoughts of the book?

 

Magical Intelligence – M K Wiseman

Goodreads – Magical Intelligence

When you are a member of Britain’s first team of wizard spies, every mission might be your last. But as the dawning of the 20th century draws ever nearer, magic grows weak. Violectric Dampening, the clash of man-made electricity with the Gifts of magekind, threatens M.I.’s existence. And if that isn’t enough, they’ve now been discharged from their own government. Obsolete. Distrusted.

And now hunted by one of their own.

Myra Wetherby has always feared her so-called fits, strange visions of people and places that she cannot explain. It is the emotional manipulation, however, a strange empathic connection to those around her, which threatens her very sanity. A danger to her family, Myra runs away, falling straight into the hands of the newly ousted Magical Intelligence team. Who just so happen to need an ability like hers.

Which makes Myra one of them . . . whether she likes it or not.

 

Purchase Links –   Amazon UK     Amazon US

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-LocPwqQiU

 

My Thoughts…

The first thing that caught my attention about the book was the plotline. I love how it revolves around magic and how scientific discovery (electricity) has a negative impact on wizardry. Those of you that read my other reviews may remember that one of my favourite things about fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson is that his magic systems have a physical element or limitation to them. I love when magic interacts with the world we know and love. It lends a sense of realism to what is going on; it has rules and that way it can’t be used to make a plothole problem disappear randomly. For this reason, I really enjoyed the concept behind this story.

Myra is an Empath. She has the ability to experience other’s emotions as well as manipulate them. I really liked this power in our protagonist. I would say I am quite an empathetic person so even though she is a teenage girl, we have common ground and that makes her relatable. As I am sure all women can tell you, handling emotions as a teenage girl is no walk in the park. It’s a confusing, ever-changing mess – just like Myra’s emotions for a good portion of the book. But again, this all adds to her being an overall relatable character.

The age and circumstance are perfect for allowing Myra to mature and really show off her development as a person and with her powers. Having grown up being misunderstood, Myra finds a sense of belonging amongst a ‘family’ she never knew existed. I’m looking forward to seeing how she grows throughout the rest of the series, as well as find out more about her past. There are a few little hints, but a lot of mystery as to how she ended up on her own. Hopefully, all will be revealed!

The Violectric Dampening also serves to build and differentiate a number of characters within M.I. Some of the wizards within the group are more prone to it than others. As Myra quite literally lands herself in the action from one of her visions, she is chucked in the deep end. We are introduced to a number of different wizards and magical abilities that, up until now, have served them in serving the Crown. Now working in an unofficial capacity to protect their magic from one threatening it, they train Myra to control her abilities as well as teach her about their own to aid them in their difficult mission.

Magical Intelligence is a fun read for fans of fantasy, magic and action-packed adventure! I really enjoyed the unique storyline, the setting and how well this whole package comes together. Thanks again to the author for the opportunity to read and review the book!

 

Author Bio

M. K. Wiseman has degrees in animation/video and library science – both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, her office is a clutter of storyboards and half-catalogued collections of too, too many books. (But, really, is there such a thing as too many books?) When she’s not mucking about with stories, she’s off playing brač or lying in a hammock in the backyard of her Cedarburg home that she shares with her endlessly patient husband.

 

Social Media Links –

Website: http://mkwisemanauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FaublesFables/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/FaublesFables

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/faublesfables/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7073540.M_K_Wiseman