2016 Spotlight: Bitter Moon Alexandra Sokoloff

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Publication Date: Available Now from Thomas and Mercer

Source: Netgalley

FBI agent Matthew Roarke has been on leave, and in seclusion, since the capture of mass killer Cara Lindstrom—the victim turned avenger who preys on predators. Torn between devotion to the law and a powerful attraction to Cara and her lethal brand of justice, Roarke has retreated from both to search his soul. But Cara’s escape from custody and a police detective’s cryptic challenge soon draw him out of exile—into the California desert and deep into Cara’s past—to probe an unsolved murder that could be the key to her long and deadly career.

Following young Cara’s trail, Roarke uncovers a horrifying attack on a schoolgirl, the shocking suicide of another, and a human monster stalking Cara’s old high school. Separated by sixteen years, crossing paths in the present and past, Roarke and fourteen-year-old Cara must race to find and stop the sadistic sexual predator before more young women are brutalized.

I’m a HUGE fan of this series – where Alexandra Sokoloff takes the serial killer genre and turns it on its head – in Cara she has created one of the most compelling characters around in fiction anywhere. Both killer and victim Cara is unforgettable.

In previous novels we have seen her path, followed closely by the man who hunts her whilst she haunts him, Roarke in his way is just as compelling as Cara and as the mainstays of the novels their growing and changing relationship forms the heart and soul of the Huntress series.

In Bitter Moon we get a trip back to the past – Cara’s past – in a lot of ways Bitter Moon is an origins story and I loved it because it took the previous novels and gave them focus. The two timelines are both brilliantly constructed, Cara following a path in the past and Roarke repeating it in the present, the two interlinking and blimey at times it is edge of the seat stuff. Even though for Cara it is over, done, we know nothing can change, still you feel like somehow Roarke could make everything better…

I love the writing LOVE it – so absorbing, descriptively gorgeous, invoking emotional responses and creating a sense of time, place and person that in my opinion is second to none. The storyline may involve mayhem, murder and the darkest of themes but somehow it just feels less like a crime novel and more like a literary trip through the characters reality. After the end of Bitter Moon I simply cannot wait for more.

Highly Recommended.

Find out MORE

Follow Alex on TWITTER

To Purchase the Huntress/FBI series clickety click HERE

The first books in the series are reviewed HERE

Happy Reading!

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20 Questions For……Chris Whitaker

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So the lovely Chris got my book of the year with the incredible Tall Oaks so in order to celebrate I asked him 20 Questions. Yes we know how these things go some of you may want to look away now….

 

The trend for these questions has always been to start with a bookish one. So with that in mind, how much gin do you think we are going to drink over the next few months?

When I was 18 I drank too much gin, then too much Lucozade, then shat myself wildly the next morning. When I was 20 I drank so much Vodka RedBull I had to go to hospital. I am a man that does not know his limits. Drink with me at your peril.

Lovely! See this is why we are friends…

Ok ok a bookish one I love Tall Oaks. That may come as a surprise to some people as I never say it out loud or anything. But I’ve recently read The Summer Cloud (title tbc) – I am allowed to say that right? And much as I love Tall Oaks, Summer is where its at when it comes to BOOK TRAUMA. Yes yes I’m getting to a question – YOU COULD HAVE WARNED ME. Why didn’t you warn me. I spent days in a haze of Grace…

The Summer Cloud (title will be changed) is a book that very nearly got burned, as you well know. That thing about second books being tough, there’s a horrible truth to it. There were points when I wanted to phone my editor and tell him I couldn’t finish, and if I hadn’t spent the advance (damn those magic beans) then I might’ve given up. It’s really dark, much less humorous than Tall Oaks, which I struggled with. I thought about writing something very similar to Tall Oaks because it was well received, but it would’ve been a copy, kind of just for the sake of it, which felt a bit like a waste of everyone’s time. I wanted to move forward as a writer, I wanted to challenge myself to write a story that was difficult to tell. The Summer Cloud is set in a poor town in Alabama in the mid 90s, against a backdrop of the Satanic Panic. That levity in Tall Oaks just didn’t work in this book, and I’ve made peace with that. I’ll certainly go back to writing funny in the future.

As a writer you never know if you’ll get another book deal, so I treated The Summer Cloud as if it were my last. I put a lot into it. If I’m going out, I’m going out with a bang.

I like Pringles. Do you like Pringles?

I like tubular food. I have this brilliant idea for Burger Fries (how do you do that trademark symbol thing?). Picture this if you will, a regular chip, but when you bite into it there’s burger meat and ketchup inside. Wonderful.

I like Pringles, thank you. I feel this interview is going really well.

Yep very well so far….

When you need to bury a body who are you going to call? Don’t call me I can’t even find a pair of scissors in my house…

Emily Burns (Head of PR at Bonnier). She’d help motivate me to dig whilst finding a way to sell books from the burial site.

Favourite type of cheese. Everyone has to answer that one…

The Dairylea Triangle. Does that make me sound like a 5-year-old? If so, one of the fancy cheeses, perhaps Cannonbear.

If you lived in Tall Oaks who from Tall Oaks would you live with? Not Manny. We ALL want to live with Manny. You have to pick someone else.

Good question, Lizley. I would have to say Roger and Hen, as they are fabulously wealthy and have a massive house. And Roger is a complete idiot, so we would have that in common. I’d love to live in Tall Oaks.

We were at Lisa Hall’s book launch recently. How much do we love Lisa? Got to give her a shout out in this interview, we all 3 bonded over our Manny love…

Okay, so Between You and Me I would go so far as to say I’m in love with Lisa Hall.

Hall is one of my fave people ever (even though she won’t invite me to any of her sex parties and is always calling me a dirtbag). She’s also a purveyor of some of the finest wine this side of India. And she’s sold over seven trillion books. She’s so rich she arrived at her launch on a hovercraft. Sadiq Khan let her drive it through Piccadilly, that’s the kind of power she has.

I’m VERY impressed she still speaks to me! I feel all important and stuff….

Dinner menu of choice (or in other words what are you going to cook for me if you ever cook for me. Or perhaps I should say what will Victoria feed me)

Victoria is really into Findus at the moment. She feeds the kids microwave meals every night of the week, aside from Friday, when she orders take-away, bless her.

If I were cooking I would prepare a possum for you. I know how you enjoy possum meat. Tis a little gamey for my palette but I could just eat the whiskers.

Desert Island discs – 3 songs or pieces of music that speak to your soul…

Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead (best lyrics ever)

The Swan by Camille Saint Saëns (read book 2 for that one)

Hit ‘em up by 2Pac (‘cause sometimes my inner badass MOFO can’t be denied)

You recently took part in your first ever panel at the amazing Killer Women Festival. What was that like for you? Yeah sorry about the whole glaring at you from the front row thing…

It was such an amazing experience. I’m so grateful to Sarah Hilary, she’s a total pro and put me at ease throughout. I was a bit scared when they attached a microphone to me, and then pointed cameras at me, but I really, really enjoyed it. I thought the whole festival was awesome, easily the best I’ve been to.

And the green room! I got to meet so many famous authors! At one point I was introduced to Paula Hawkins! I kept mumbling ‘she’s the girl on the train’ until Katherine led me back to my corner and gave me a Capri-Sun.

I’m doing my books of the year on 1st December. I expect Tall Oaks will get a mention but you know I’m fickle so you never know what I might do (Or already have done by the time this runs) Name 2 books (ONLY 2) that you’ve read this year and you’d like to make everyone else read. You are not allowed to choose Bonnier or Twenty7 books we’ll come to that later…

Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman. Thanks for the recommendation, I LOVED this book.

Little Deaths by Emma Flint. I’m only halfway through at the moment but it’s a very special book.

And as for your book of the year, I’m aware of the competition so just being in consideration is blahblahblahblah. I want that trophy. There’s a trophy, right?

There’s a mars bar…

Back to that desert island – if you have to live there for a bit which 5 people would you like for company? I’m quite good at doing nothing if that helps…

Kris Akabusi. The guy that does the Scooby Doo voice. Mike Thomas. Mel or Sue. Lou Carpenter from Neighbours.

When you get drunk do you tend to get stupid? (I may or may not know the answer to this one already)

Never. I transform into a colourful raconteur, regaling the underlings with talk of my travels through the Andes.

Ok we’ll talk about Bonnier a bit now. We love Bonnier. They are doing great things in the book world managing to mix it up and publish all sorts. I love a good mix. Joel and Emily are fab and recently one of my favourite people in the world (that would be Katherine) joined the team. So I reckon you’ve got great back up. How important is that for you as an author? Yes ok that was a slightly deeper question. And don’t tell Rod that I love that Katherine moved to Bonnier. He’ll only growl again.

I can’t put into words how important it is. I love Bonnier and am incredibly proud to be a Bonnier author. They took a chance on a book that fell between genres and an author that had absolutely nothing worth boasting about on his CV.

It was at Killer Women that I discovered that Katherine is better than me at everything. From chess, to general knowledge, to solving murders, she took me to school. She’s a modern day Ruth Cromwell.

Joel is a genius, he, along with Claire, turned Tall Oaks into a book I’m so very proud of. And the first draft was more than a little shit, so it was far from easy. And Emily, she works so hard to make sure Tall Oaks reaches as many people as possible and she’s brilliant at her job. And she loved Manny. And there’s Bec, and Mark, and Nick and Kate and everyone there that have been so supportive of me and Tall Oaks.

And as for Rod, the guy oozes sexual magnetism. That’s all I have to say about Rod.

To be fair thats what most people say about Rod…and Katherine is way too clever for me.

Favourite Beatles song.

Let it be.

Favourite 80’s movie. (This will either make or break our friendship answer carefully)

No way I’m choosing one. Bueller, obvs. Planes, Trains and Automobiles. The Goonies. Uncle Buck. Back to the Future. The Karate Kid. Cocktail. I could go on and on and on.

THE BREAKFAST CLUB. Seriously. If he gets up we’ll all get up it’ll be ANARCHY.  But yes. All the rest too. #SaveFerris 

NOW you can pick some of your fellow authors books to recommend. Only 2 again though. (Don’t worry I’ll protect you from the rest who might sulk)

My fellow authors are my family and I’d choose all of them if you let me. I’ve read all the T7 books and they’re seriously good.

Lie in Wait by G.J. Minett. I’m picking GJ because not only is he incredibly talented, but also because he’s incredibly nice, and supportive, and I love him like a great, great grandfather.

Without Trace by Simon Booker. Simon has been a TV writer for over a hundred years and as soon you pick this one up you know you’re in a safe pair of hands. He’s got skills.

Did you call the Igloo guy? What about my penguin?

Yeah, I called Keith. He’ll do us a double-wide in exchange for a French kiss and some Werther’s Original. Penguins are two-for-one at the moment so we’ll get a selection. And Craig Fairbrass. He’ll act out if I don’t mention him.

You forgot David Young…

Which one author in the world would you love to read Tall Oaks and love Tall Oaks.

Stephen King.

How much do you hate me right now?

Hate? I could do this shit all day long, pet.

Well ok I’ll send another 20 over later then…

Cool Beans! Thanks gorgeous.

Follow Chris on Twitter HERE

To purchase Tall Oaks clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

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Top Ten of 2016 – Its been a mad good year in books…

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Its that time of year  again. This year it has been incredibly hard to pick a top ten but I make myself do it every year, for a start it is always SO much fun thinking back to those books that haunted me or drove me bonkers at the time (more bonkers?)  This years list honestly could easily have been a top 100 and from all the advance reading I’ve been doing for 2017  I can tell you next year is going to be even harder. Near New Year I shall be doing a post on all of those – the ones you might want to consider putting on pre-order or adding to your to read lists, I dare say you might find some of those in next years Top Ten. One in this years list is a book I read way back just after last years list went live. If a book stays with me boy it stays with me…

Here we go then. Alongside fellow reviewers who will all be posting their top reads over the course of December (I can’t wait to see their lists, you never know I might have missed something!) hopefully there will be something for everyone, although I’m sure my no 1 will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me maybe some of the others may be less expected. As a reviewer of all genres but a particular lover of the crime crowd who are my kind of people, this is a little full on crime light. But in this readers opinion that is because those genre lines are starting to blur in a beautiful beautiful way.

Writers are pushing boundaries. Keep doing that. Tell us the stories!

My personal Top Ten of  2016

 

Ten

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Pierce Brown’s completion of the Red Rising Trilogy has to appear – it speaks to the quality of reading in 2016 for me that he is not no 1 – Morning Star was intense, heart stopping, this author messes with your head and your heart to a degree I don’t think I’ve come across in any other set of novels. He KILLED me with the entirety of this trilogy, the prose is so so so beautiful and just when you think you know what he’s going to do BAM he hits you with something totally unexpected. I will never forget these books. I’m so glad he will be returning to that universe in his next novels and one of my highlights of 2016 was meeting him at  two separate events. The man is as magical as his novels.

Read my original review HERE and Purchase HERE

 

 

Nine

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This was the best fun I had with a book all year whilst at the same time being TOTALLY FREAKED OUT. I searched the house for intruders several nights in a row after finishing Jacks story not that they would have been the kind of intruders I could have dealt with. I woke up in a cold sweat several times too. But gosh did I laugh and laugh. So much that it actually hurt. Then I hid under a duvet and did not come out for a good few hours. That Jason Arnopp – seriously.  Read this if you dare (with the lights blazing and a handy weapon somewhere within reach JUST IN CASE)

Read my original review HERE and purchase HERE

 

 

Eight

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The Maker of Swans is magical. Totally utterly magical. It is delicious one of those books you drown in, still now months later it stays with me. My original review started with the words “I am madly in love with this book” and that holds true. Utterly enchanting and no matter your reading taste I would genuinely encourage everyone to give this a go.

Read my original review HERE and purchase HERE

 

 

Seven

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Sockpuppet. Geeky gorgeous with an authentic current edge that right now if you are reading it will make you think Matthew Blakstad is some kind of psychic. Back in April when I originally read it, it blew me away. I loved it. Different, engaging, a little bit nuts (I don’t like to say a bit like its author now I know him a little but well….) and totally totally brilliant writing. One of those books I was referring to when I spoke about blurring the genre lines back at the top of this list….

Read my original review HERE and purchase HERE

 

 

Six

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Oh The Constant Soldier. THIS BOOK KILLED ME. I didn’t read another thing for a week I was devastated. It is simply incredible, emotional, prose to die for that just puts you right THERE and I will never forget it as long as I live. I’d like to say I’ll read it again but I don’t think I can go through that again. William Ryan is a superstar. Any other year this would be no 1 with bells on. It may sit here on this list but in my top reads of all time over my (I’m not going to say how many) years of reading it is somewhere near the top of the tree. Don’t miss it.

Read my original review HERE and purchase HERE

 

 

Five

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In at 5 we have The Wolf Road from Beth Lewis – a simply amazing debut with a character voice that is unique and compelling, telling a tale that will haunt your dreams. Dark, dreamy and divine, Elka will steal your soul and Beth Lewis is a talent to watch in the future. I rather think she is going to be something special in the world of literature. You heard it here first (you probably didn’t because I’m sure many people have said it already but pretend you did to make me feel better) Don’t miss this. You won’t read anything else like it.

Read my original review HERE and purchase HERE

 

 

 

Four

 

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I gulped my way through Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent and the first line in this book is the reason it is at No 4, because talk about waking up the reader and going HEY LOOK OVER HERE this book is Lying in Wait for you. Then the lovely Ms Nugent weaves a shocking, dark and utterly addictive yet character driven tale of murder and, well, family dynamics. One character in this novel will make you want to stab people. The character particularly. Plus its twisty. Gorgeously twisty. My twisty tale of the year.

Read my original review HERE and purchase HERE

 

 

Three

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Last year’s no 1 author gets this year’s no 3 – the utterly lovely (I’ll take that mars bar now) Rod Reynolds follows up The Dark Inside with this, Black Night Falling – another adventure for Charlie Yates and again it speaks to the quality of this years reading that he’s not No 1 yet again. This book proves that The Dark Inside was absolutely not a fluke. If anything Black Night Falling is even more compelling, more beautifully written and that there Mr Reynolds will soon be the Noir king of the world. I loved this. I lived it. If Rod Reynolds publishes his shopping list I’m reading it.

Read my original review HERE and purchase HERE

 

 

 

 

Two.

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Girls on Fire. This whole book was on fire. And honestly picking between this and my no 1 for that no 1 spot was so hard that I outsourced the decision to my good friend and ex boss Anna Carter, an extraordinarily voracious reader who is just that with no filter – thanks SO much Anna and I’m going to be asking your opinion every year from now on! To be honest the two are fairly interchangeable for the sheer reading madness of them, and the author sitting at no 1 will not mind me saying that at all because he loved this one too. Incredible incredible writing, two main characters that are divisive, brilliantly drawn and on a path to tragedy, these Girls on Fire will capture your imagination and burn your very soul. If you haven’t yet read it then I can’t say strongly enough that you should.

Read my original review HERE and purchase HERE

 

 

So we come to my top read of 2016 which I’m sure will surprise absolutely nobody. 

One…

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OF COURSE it is Tall Oaks. Quirky, different, characters to die for, Chris Whitaker takes one small town in the process of moving on from a tragic event and shoves us into the rhythm of life there, showing us the dark and the light and all the in between that can make up a community. Featuring a teenage character who once read is never forgotten in the voice and full on hilarity of Manny, surrounded by equally brilliant and divisive folk and following a mother who has lost her child with all the deeply emotional trauma that brings Tall Oaks is a dream read. Stole a weekend of my life, stole my heart and I’m not sure there are words enough to express my love for it. Chris and I have become friends since I read it but at the time I had no idea that the author was as brilliant as his book –  I purchased Tall Oaks on a whim in e-book after being told by Emily of Bonnier fame that she thought I would love it. Well she was right, she usually is I find. I owe her my last rollo.

Tall Oaks is not a thriller. Tall Oaks is life.

I’ve got Chris guesting shortly answering my 20 Questions which we had a lot of fun with  – you’ll get a sneak preview of what is next for him if you read that and trust me you want to know.

Read my original review HERE and purchase HERE

SO THAT IS THAT. For another year. Considering the reading I’ve done for 2017 I think I may have to have a top 20 next year – certainly I could have had a top 20 this year some reads that came in after the cut off would certainly qualify along with  a lot of the ARCS I have been lucky enough to have seen. Perhaps my Top Ten is already read – certainly Mark Hill, Sarah Pinborough, Steph Broadribb, Fiona Cummins, Felicia Yap, Erin Kelly, Peter Swanson, Riley Sager, Emily Barr, Joseph Knox, Sarah J Naughton, Daniel Cole amongst others are already in the running. See? Next year it is going to be IMPOSSIBLE. I’ve read a few secret squirrel things as well – YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE and they are most definitely in the mix too.

I think I’m going to need a bigger shelf….

HAPPY READING!

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YA Ones to Watch in 2017. The One Memory of Flora Banks – Emily Barr

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Publication Date: 12th January 2017 from Penguin Childrens

Source: Netgalley

Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway—the land of the midnight sun—determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

I LOVED this book.

All because of Flora. Sometimes a character just speaks to you and Flora has an amazingly strong and indelible voice – the whole of this story is told from her point of view, although often necessarily repetitive each reboot she gives to herself has added nuance and emotion – Emily Barr moving the story forward with gentle yet incredibly addictive pace. This is one of those books I label beautiful – beautiful writing, beautiful characters and in the end a whole truck load of beautifully emotional shots through the heart.

Utterly compelling throughout as we follow Flora, learning about herself, those around her, then doing it all over again readjusting her senses, one of the strongest components of this particular story is within the relationships she forms with others.  Her best friend, her parents, those she meets along the way, all seen by the reader through the filter of Flora’s memory. Her notes to herself form her next decision process, she is alive on the page and absolutely captured my heart.

The scene setting is also gorgeous – from Penzance to Svalbard the author paints a picture, again filtered through this girl, Flora, who is seeing it all for the first time all the time – it made me want to follow the journey she takes, to the land of the midnight sun. One day perhaps I will.

There is a mystery element layered into the story, the feeling that there is more to Flora’s situation than meets the eye, that perhaps not everyone is being honest with her – the whole novel is a journey of discovery not only for Flora but for the other characters we learn about along the way and for the reader. It made me cry. Proper real cathartic tears.Flora’s life rules may be ones to live by.

For me a truly wonderful novel. If this is how Emily Barr is going to write YA then I’m going to read every single one. But there will never be another Flora..

Highly Recommended. Be brave and watch out for Polar Bears…

Find out MORE

 Follow Emily on Twitter

To Purchase The One Memory of Flora Banks clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

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2016 Spotlight: Deep Down Dead Steph Broadbribb.

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Publication Date: Available Now (e-book) January 2017 (Paperback) from Orenda

Source: Review Copy

Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong. The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori’s former mentor – the man who taught her everything she knows … the man who also knows the secrets of her murky past.

Not only is JT fighting a child exploitation racket operating out of one of Florida’s biggest theme parks, Winter Wonderland, a place where ‘bad things never happen’, but he’s also mixed up with the powerful Miami Mob. With two fearsome foes on their tails, just three days to get JT back to Florida, and her daughter to protect, Lori has her work cut out for her. When they’re ambushed at a gas station, the stakes go from high to stratospheric, and things become personal.

So the adorable Steph AKA Crime Thriller Girl and a very good friend of mine (I love her) wrote this book see. And whilst I love books I’m never THAT happy when good friends write them because I don’t lie about the books and occasionally I’ve had to gulp and go “Oh no its horrible how will I EVER TELL THEM”

Then I hide in a cupboard until everyone has forgotten I ever read it in the first place.

But then sometimes this happens. Not only is Deep Down Dead banging brilliant but it is probably one of the best thrillers I have read in years. Years and years. So no cupboard for me, instead I get to write up this review and tell y’all to go get yourself a copy smartish and sit down for a day (and you will read it in a day it doesnt allow for anything else) with Lori and JT.

Deep Down Dead is fast paced, intelligent, intense and character driven whilst being full of thrills and spills, edge of seat moments and the odd time where you pull all your hair out and read it with half a hand clapped over your eyes. If ever a book should be a movie Deep Down Dead is it, with its beautifully authentic locations, insanely well layered characters and a plot to die for. Just you know, remember to breathe.

The writing is superb, the language crackles the character voices being spot on perfect  – descriptively this is an utter joy, a truly immersive experience where the world around you fades and you are thrown into Lori’s world.  A stripper turned bounty hunter (only you Steph!) whose skeletons are about to come rattling out of the closet in the form of JT, a blast from her past, she will capture your heart and your attention in utterly memorable fashion.

That alone is enough to make this one of the good ones (which is putting it mildly) but then there are layers to Deep Down Dead that shine in the underneath of it all. A real sense of feeling for the characters and the places they occupy, more than one level to them all, some dark themes explored within the narrative and ultimately more than just all talk and action. This one has the brains to go with it. I’ve been loving my analogies lately so I’m going to say Deep Down Dead is like a beautiful blonde supermodel who you assume is shallow and lacks intelligence but then turns out to have a masters in astrophysics.

Loved it. Loved loved loved. Can you tell?

Read it. Live it. Love it.

Highly Recommended. With bells on. (I don’t have any actual bells but you get my point)

Find out MORE

Follow Steph on TWITTER

To Purchase Deep Down Dead clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

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Top Books of 2016 – Honourable Mentions.

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So its December later this week. Where did the time go? Anyway on Thursday 1st December, as has become my own little tradition, I’ll be posting my Top Ten reads of 2016. I think its unlikely that my no 1 will come as a surprise to many people but there are plenty of others in the mix and its been a GREAT reading year. So in that spirit today I’m doing some honourable mentions – 5 books each in 6 categories that any other year may well have made my top ten reads. There are many many more as well but I can’t mention everyone blimey we would be here all day. If I loved a book I’ve probably shouted about it quite a lot already anyway.

It is worth noting that these, plus my top ten are made up of books available now. All that lovely 2017 advance reading I’ve been doing will go into the mix for next year and I’ll be doing a post with the ones to really watch out for just before the New Year is upon us. So here is a shout out for a few books that were huge favourites of mine this year and if 2016 had not had so many fantastic books you might have seen any one of these in my post on Thursday.

Crime

Oh my gosh so MANY great Crime reads this year. I will definitely be missing loads. But here are my 5 picks for your consideration. Click on the covers to be taken to my reviews of each which include purchase links,

 

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YA

SO many great YA books this year but here are my top picks that did not quite make the top ten but probably should have done.

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Thriller.

A few good thrillers this year. Just a few eh? Anyway this, Crime and Psychological thriller could probably all be in one group but you know, what fun would that be? Here are my 5 thrillers that did not quite make the top spots. Again, any other year….

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Fantasy/SciFi

I’ve read SO many great books in this category this year I might actually explode. Here are some of my top picks for you..

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Psychological Thriller.

Difficult to pick 5 of these. So many great new releases this year and I’ve tried to read them all even though occasionally they annoy me. Here are 5 that were brilliant.

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Other…

Finally here are another 5 of my best reads of this year this time they could be said cross over a bit so we’ll call them beautiful others….

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There we go. Hopefully everyone can find something here to tempt them, certainly I could go on all day about the great books I’ve read in 2016 (and am still reading but now that is for next year) and pop back by on Thursday to see which books made my Top Ten.

Happy Reading!

Covering The Covers – Stasi Wolf David Young.

Ooh new cover alert – this time for David Young’s follow up to Stasi Child – a book I adored (and obviously reviewed in a timely and efficient manner) Can’t WAIT for this. And look. It looks good. GREAT in fact.

 

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About Stasi Wolf

East Germany, 1975. Karin Müller, sidelined from the murder squad in Berlin, jumps at the chance to be sent south to Halle-Neustadt, where a pair of infant twins have gone missing.

But Müller soon finds her problems have followed her. Halle-Neustadt is a new town – the pride of the communist state – and she and her team are forbidden by the Stasi from publicising the disappearances, lest they tarnish the town’s flawless image. 

Meanwhile, in the eerily nameless streets and tower blocks, a child snatcher lurks, and the clock is ticking to rescue the twins alive . .

PRE-ORDER HERE

Find out more here

Follow David on Twitter here.

You can purchase Stasi Child by clickety clicking right HERE

Happy Reading!

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Getting to Know You – with Ivar Leon Menger.

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Today I’m getting to know Ivar Leon Menger, writer of Monster 1983, an Audible original drama available now – more details to follow. Thanks so much to him for taking the time, these are always fun.

Tell us a little about your Monster 1983, what can listeners expect?

An exciting trip back to the year 1983. The little coastal town of Harmony Bay is shaken from its peaceful slumbers by a series of mysterious deaths. For Sheriff Cody, who has ended up in town following the death of his wife, duty calls immediately upon arrival due to a sequence of strange events: a prison truck plunges off a cliff, a Russian spy vanishes into thin air, and corpses keep being found with inexplicable stab wounds in their backs. Cody and his team assume that the murders have been committed by a serial killer who slaughters his victims in their sleep.

Where did you grow up and what was family life like?

I am an only child, and grew up in a small town on the urban fringe in Germany. My father ran a small but successful advertising agency, while my mother devoted herself to my upbringing. I spent most of my time riding my BMX bike, playing on my Atari, going to the swimming pool and playing the piano. But what I liked doing best was building a spooky ghost train for my friends in our attic. With zombie masks, spiders and wet flannels hanging from the ceiling. From my earliest childhood days, I have always loved scaring people. But there was no way I could have known, in those days, that I would end up making it my profession.

Academic or creative at school?

I really hated school. The only thing I was really good at was drawing. And storytelling. That didn’t get me very far at a sports-oriented grammar school. I needed lots of coaching to get me my school leaving certificate. Once I got there, this made university all the easier. I was studying Design, and could finally concentrate on the things that really interested me.

First job you *really* wanted to do?

I looked this up in my old diary. When I was ten, I did write that I wanted to be a detective (investigator) when I grew up. Well, I suppose that wish has actually been fulfilled, in a creative sort of way.

Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?

I remember my father used to tell me a goodnight story, and invented a new one every evening. I was allowed to choose the hero and the setting, and he picked it up from there and embellished the story with his own dangers and obstacles. I was impressed by that. So I started dreaming up my own scary stories for friends on sleepovers. I never wrote them down, but it very soon taught me what my friends found thrilling and when they tended to drop off.

Who are your real life heroes?

Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg were always my greatest role models. And then later on Steve Jobs and Stanley Kubrick, too.

Funniest or most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in?

I remember one scary situation when I was hitchhiking as a kid. A car stopped, and this mysterious looking guy picked me up. It wasn’t until we were driving through the woods that I realised that my bearded companion was wearing pink shorts and white net stockings. I immediately struck up a conversation, praised his car, and babbled on incessantly, as if in a trance. When we finally emerged from the woods, I said he could stop now, I had reached my destination. He pulled over and I tried to get out, but the door wouldn’t open. He apologised and pressed some button or other, and then I was able to leave. That was really frightening, because there was no such thing as central locking in those days.

DIY expert or phone a friend?

I actually always ask for advice. Either from friends, or colleagues, or Google. I also like to give advice of my own to other people. I’m always pleased, for instance, if I can help young colleagues with their queries. I really can’t understand why some colleagues are loath to help others, and think people have to gather their own experience.

Sun worshipper or night owl?

I’m definitely a night owl. But since I’ve had a family, I can no longer do my own thing as much as I’d like. J But I’m allowed to stay in bed for a bit longer than the others in the mornings, and they even wake me up with a coffee. That’s pure happiness.

A book that had you in tears.

I’ve never known a book to make me cry. But a lot of films have, such as “E.T.”, “Schindler’s List” or “Love Story”.

A book that made you laugh out loud.

Easy: “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams.

One piece of life advice you give everyone

Never stop believing in yourself. Even if it’s sometimes hard. With hindsight and the passing of time, we usually find that there is a reason for such crises, and that they represent key turning points in our life history. And always think big, think positive. And reach for the stars. That’s always been my motto: if you reach for the stars, at least you’ll get the moon.

Thank you! 

Thank you for the interview and your interesting questions!

About Monster 1983

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Callum Blue (Dead Like Me), Anastasia Griffith (Damages) and Marc Warren (Hustle) star in new audio-drama from Germany’s master of thriller.

Drawing influences from Poltergeist, Stand By Me and E.T. and other Spielberg classics, the story unfolds in the small coastal town of Harmony Bay, Oregon. Still reeling from a sudden and profound family tragedy, Sheriff Cody uproots his elder son Michael, and younger daughter Amy, from the chaos of Orlando to begin a new, more relaxed life in the Beaver State. Soon after their arrival however, this new-found tranquillity is disturbed by a succession of brutal but mysterious deaths. As the plot twists and turns its way through small-town secrecy, psychiatry wards and the supernatural, Cody comes under increasing pressure to solve each new case whilst keeping his family safe from harm.

Monster 1983 is a Wireless Theatre production for Audible Studios. Written by Ivar Leon Menger, translated by Guy Meredith and directed by Cherry Cookson with music scoring by Ynie Ray.

Monster 1983 Cast:

Callum Blue (Sheriff Cody), Anastasia Griffith (Deputy Taylor Dunford), Marc Warren (Deputy Landers), Rachel Atkins, Barbara Barnes, Andrea Browne, Nicholas Boulton, Philip Bulcock, Sophie Cartman, Amy Cash, Lobo Chan, Charlotte Christie, Trevor Cuthbertson, Stephen Critchlow, Sean Delaney, Jessica Dennis,Tom Gregory, Adam Hall, Will Howard, Gerran Howell, Nicky Henson, Madeleine Kasson, Lorelei King, Stuart Milligan, Harry Myers, Nathan Osgood, Chris Rogers, Martin T Sherman, Thomas Stroppell and Trevor White.

You can purchase Monster 1983 an audible download  HERE

Happy Listening!

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Ones to Watch in 2017 – The Caller. Chris Carter.

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Publication Date: 17th Feb 2017 from Simon and Schuster

Source: Advanced Reading Copy

After a tough week, Tanya Kaitlin is looking forward to a relaxing night in, but as she steps out of her shower, she hears her phone ring.  The video call request comes from her best friend, Karen Ward.  Tanya takes the call and the nightmare begins.

Karen is gagged and bound to a chair in her own living room.  If Tanya disconnects from the call, if she looks away from the camera, he will come after her next, the deep, raspy, demonic voice at the other end of the line promises her.

As Hunter and Garcia investigate the threats, they are thrown into a rollercoaster of evil, chasing a predator who scouts the streets and social media networks for victims, taunting them with secret messages and feeding on their fear. 

Out of all the crime series I read avidly I think perhaps the Robert Hunter novels from Chris Carter are somewhere near, if not the top of my favourites list. It is the combination of twisted plotting, riveting and heart stopping death scenes and a main protagonist to die for in the unequivocably intriguing Mr Hunter.

So with The Caller we go to a whole new level of gritty and intense storytelling – I was gripped, utterly gripped from the very first page, Chris Carter gives us an almost cinematic reading experience with his descriptive and realistic settings and events. I defy you not to gasp at the end of the first chapter, then continue to do so throughout whilst your heart goes hoppity skip. Love books like that. You can’t get out of them easily you are dragged along in their wake, a willing participant in a game of many levels.

It is clever writing because yes of course serial killer vibe – entirely fascinating, we are all drawn to the dark side – but there are many more layers of story to be had here including in the personal lives of our series mainstays – and a particular character tied to this case who I REALLY hope we hear from again. It felt like we might. I say no more – no spoilers here but if that IS the case I’m really really intrigued by what might happen.

Really this is an insanely good crime series. Extraordinarily well written, high quality and high drama all the way, please lets have many many more tales from the world of Robert Hunter. Damn fine reading! Erm and I’m kind of freaked out. Even better.

Highly Recommended.

Find out more HERE

Follow on FACEBOOK

To Purchase The Caller clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

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Latest Reads: Dark Fragments by Rob Sinclair.

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Publication Date: Available Now from Bloodhound Books.

Source: Review Copy

Outwardly, Ben Stephens appears to be a normal, hard-working family man. In reality, his life has been in turmoil since the murder of his wife, Alice, seven years ago. The killer was never caught.

Now re-married – to the woman he was having an affair with while still married to Alice – Ben’s life is once again spiralling out of control, and he’s become heavily indebted to an unscrupulous criminal who is baying for Ben’s blood.

When Ben’s estranged twin sister, a police detective, unexpectedly returns to his life, asking too many questions for comfort, it becomes clear that without action, Ben’s life will soon reach a crisis point from which there will be no return.

Really enjoyed Dark Fragments – another book that I read fast wanting to know the solution. Which actually was beautifully unexpected – I always like that.

I’m also fond of a good divisive character and Ben was definitely that. Told from his point of view at first you are sympathetic to his plight. But as things grow ever darker and his decision making becomes more erratic you’ll start to question his sanity. Mind you he has had rather a lot to deal with…

The short sharp chapters created a great pace and sense of anticipation within the read, the interim parts where Ben is talking to an unknown other about events adds a level of depth and it was a beautifully frantic and often hard hitting read that I was thoroughly into all the way.

A change from the Enemy series (which I also recommend) Rob Sinclair has given us a decently  twisted, cleverly addictive psychological thriller. Also very pleased that certain characters are set to make an appearance in future books it seems. This I like.

Recommended for fans of the genre. Tis a good ‘un.

 

Find out more HERE

Follow Rob on TWITTER

To Purchase Dark Fragments clickety click right HERE

Try The Enemy Series for a different level of thriller. 

Happy Reading!

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