Firestorm Lucy Hounsom – Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: 14th December from Tor

Source: Netgalley

The land burns brighter in the dark.

Kyndra has finally mastered her cold Starborn powers, but at what cost? She’s drifting from those dearest to her – though they can only reunite Acre together. And assassins who dance through time pose an extraordinary new threat. They seek to change the past – to unmake the Sartyan Empire and rewrite the whole history of Acre. And in the Khronostians’ new narrative, Kyndra is never even born. 

Ex-slaver Char is determined to enlist the help of dragons for the fight to come. They were banished from the world by Khronostians. But, with the rogue Khronostian Ma’s skills, he and Kyndra aim to reach the dragons’ mountainous city. And perhaps here, they can gather enough power to send Kyndra far back in time – to prevent the death of an era. Yet despite her best efforts, events propel Kyndra towards a confrontation that has shaped and will shape the future of the world.

A brilliant end to what has been a brilliant series from Lucy Hounsom – complex, addictive, beautiful world building and hugely character driven.

Watching Kyndra change, adapt and fight her ability, often with the world on her shoulders has been a huge strength of this series for me – that and the other cast surrounding her each one full of depth, the relationship building is just as strong as the world building here and the author manages the many facets of her plot with aplomb.

Full of magic and you know, time travel which is never easy, so often over complicated, also DRAGONS. Look you can’t ask for more than dragons really – but you get much more as in Firestorm changing the timeline changes the perspective and without Kyndra surely the world will be lost?

I just banged through this super fast, devouring the words and living the adventure. Pure book reading bliss.

Highly Recommended – the whole trilogy.

Find out more here: http://lucyhounsom.com/

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Breaking Bones Robert Wite – Blog Tour Review

Publication Date: Available Now from Endeavour Press

Source: Review Copy

The streets of Preston are alive with music and banter.

But nothing can drown out the sound of breaking bones. 

Inseparable since childhood and feared by their community, Tony, Eddie and Frankie are beyond the reach of justice. 

The brutal gang, The Three Dogs, are a law unto themselves. 

Detective Jim Hacker has watched The Dogs grow from thuggish youths to psychotic criminals. He seems to be the only one who wants to see their empire fall. 

Meanwhile Jamie Strange, a young Royal Marine, finds himself embroiled in the lives of The Three Dogs when his girlfriend, Laurie Holland, cuts off their engagement… to be with the most dangerous of The Dogs: Frankie Verdi. 

Jamie vows to save Laurie, before Frankie damns them both. 

Every dog will have its day. 

Breaking Bones is a fast paced, highly authentic crime thriller, set in the Eighties with some cleverly drawn characters and an engaging story.

I’m not usually one for books about gangs and the such but I found myself immersed into this one fairly early on – although I have to say I was more into the military layers perhaps than the main one – this is a novel that encompasses many things and keeps you turning those pages.

It is violent, as is it’s subject matter but the author draws a vivid and immersive picture of life on the streets, the “Dogs” themselves are fascinating as a unit. Breaking Bones was well written to really draw you into a different world as a reader, that plus the 1980’s setting, one I remember well, made this an addictive and enjoyable read.

If you like the Martina Cole style of storytelling, dark, gritty and realistic then this one will be for you.

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The Perfect Victim Corrie Jackson. Blog Tour Guest Post.

Today I am VERY happy to welcome author (and friend) Corrie Jackson, talking about four female journalists who rock her world. Details on the book follow – but pick this one up if you can because it’s all the brilliant.

4 female journalists who rock my world

One of the things I value most about my journalist protagonist, Sophie Kent, is her courage. Not just the everyday courage it requires to survive the cutthroat world of 24/7 news. I mean the courage to fight the fight, to make herself heard, to go where others won’t in the pursuit of truth. Sure, Sophie’s a fictional character. But look around you. Every day, female reporters are risking everything to expose injustice. It takes guts. Think Martha Gelhorn, Kate Adie and Marie Colvin. These women are pioneers, revolutionaries, superheroes. And it’s thanks to them that I was inspired to create a kick-ass journalist of my own. Here are a few of the bold women whose written words have changed the world…

Veronica Guerin

For Guerin, death threats went with the territory. Her role as crime reporter for Ireland’s Sunday Independent saw her grapple with Dublin’s criminal underworld. But Guerin refused to back down, even when a gang member shot her in the leg. Her talent for building relationships with both the police and the drug gangs gave her unparalleled access. But she paid the ultimate price. In 1996, two motorcyclists shot the reporter at point blank range as she sat at traffic lights in her car. Guerin’s husband later said ‘she stood as freedom…she stood as light.’ And her death marked a turning point in Ireland’s battle against organized crime.

Nellie Bly

Fed up with writing for ‘women’s pages’ at her local Pittsburgh newspaper, Bly moved to New York in 1887 and landed a job at Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper, the New York World. After hearing reports of brutality at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell Island, Bly went undercover by faking insanity to get admitted. Ten torturous days later, Bly’s exposé blew the lid on the rat-infested hellhole, where women were systematically abused, and dangerous patients tied together with ropes. Her story forced the government to reform the system – and she pioneered a new kind of investigative journalism in the process. Trail. Blazer.

Alex Crawford

The Sky news correspondent, who was awarded an OBE in 2012, has reported from all over the world. But the Libyan Civil War made Crawford a household name, after her live-reporting from the Battle of Tivoli went viral. She’s also a mother of four and has spoken out about the endless sexism she’s encountered. In a 2011 interview Crawford gave via satellite link from Libya, she remarked that she’d spent the day working with a male colleague, “and there will be no-one who says ‘what do you think you’re doing, how awful, what are you doing to your children?”’ Quite.

Edna Buchanan

Dubbed the ‘one-woman newsroom’, Buchanan ruled Miami’s crime beat for two decades. She covered over three thousand murders and won a Pulitzer prize in 1986, blazing a trail right through the ruthless, Alpha-male crime industry (in towering heels most of the time). She has gone on to write several novels (check out her memoir, The Corpse Had A Familiar Face; I devoured it in one sitting) but journalism is her passion. In her words: ‘There is something noble and exciting about venturing out every day to seek the truth.’ Amen to that!

About the book:

Charlie and Emily Swift are the Instagram-perfect couple: gorgeous, successful and in love. But then Charlie is named as the prime suspect in a gruesome murder and Emily’s world falls apart.

Desperate for answers, she turns to Charlie’s troubled best friend, London Herald journalist, Sophie Kent. Sophie knows police have the wrong man – she trusts Charlie with her life.

Then Charlie flees.

Sophie puts her reputation on the line to clear his name. But as she’s drawn deeper into Charlie and Emily’s unravelling marriage, she realises that there is nothing perfect about the Swifts.

As she begins to question Charlie’s innocence, something happens that blows the investigation – and their friendship – apart.

Now Sophie isn’t just fighting for justice, she’s fighting for her life.

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Whiteout Ragnar Jonasson – Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Orenda Books

Source: Review Copy

Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kalfshamarvik.

Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the abandoned old house on the remote rocky outcrop? With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thor Arason discovers that the victim’s mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier.
As the dark history and its secrets of the village are unveiled, and the death toll begins to rise, the Siglufjordur detectives must race against the clock to find the killer, before another tragedy takes place.

Book 5 in the Dark Iceland series (UK publication not in exact order)  from Ragnar Jonasson and they just get better – tense, atmospheric, with beautifully descriptive setting and terrific sense of character.

In a small isolated village a girl has been found dead at the foot of the cliffs where her mother and her sister had earlier died – was this suicide or something more sinister?

What I love about this series is the old school feel brought to the writing – like if Agatha Christie were writing Icelandic Noir right now – that and the incredibly immersive settings as Ragnar Jonasson brings Iceland to beautiful, stark life – despite it being fictionally dangerous (always a body!) you want to visit and drink it all in. The prose is so good you almost can without even leaving your house…

The mystery elements are beautifully layered and Ari  as ever is utterly compelling – I’m going to miss that guy with his little quirks of personality, in this story about to become a father – I have to give a  shout out to the amazing Quentin Bates who has translated all of these perfectly –  the series has been entirely absorbing, a literary delight that is perfect for curling up with on those chilly winter nights.

I always read these in one sitting. So immersive, the plotting taut and darkly devilish, the characters engaging and full of depth and I can’t recommend these highly enough for fans of literary crime with a cleverly addictive tone.

Go get ’em!

 

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The Deaths of December Susi Holliday. Blog Tour Extract.

Today (better late than never!) I am VERY happy to offer an extract from Susi Holliday’s brilliantly fiendish and festive novel The Deaths of December. Please be careful with your advent calendars this year….

The Deaths of December…

Prologue – The Photographer.

There’s an art to taking the perfect photograph. It’s too easy now – all those camera phones, those built-in filters. People snapping pics of their artfully arranged lunch, taking selfies in changing rooms – all twisted and pouty, angled down so you can’t see the chins, overexposed so you can’t see the wrinkles. That’s not art. Art is real. Art is the lines around an old woman’s eyes that tell a story without words. Art is sitting on a freezing cold bench in the darkness, waiting patiently for the sun to rise.

Grabbing that photo when the clouds are sitting softly, in perfect formation. Art takes effort. I still use a 35mm camera. I know they say that DSLRs and the like are just as good, but they aren’t. Digital is all very well, for convenience and sharing and all that kind of thing, but what you gain in the convenience, you lose in the essence. You need to feel. No matter what the situation, what’s going on with your own life, where you’ve got to be. You need to give your subject your full attention. Nurture them as much as you can. Even if all you’re doing is waiting for them to stop something, or start something new. Waiting for them to relax. To forget the camera is there. Sometimes you don’t even know you’ve got the perfect image until it’s developed. When you pull that sheet of paper through the fluid, carefully letting the liquid coat the film. You have to be patient, waiting for the picture to appear.

Hanging it up to dry. Waiting. Always waiting. It was difficult, at first. But I wasn’t going to give up on it. It’s like a calling. I have a job to do. This one took a lot longer than I expected. I had to wait almost ten minutes, keeping the camera poised and ready, but aware of my surroundings, of the danger. Feeling my heart thumping in my chest, trying not to breathe. Hoping that it would happen soon, and when it did, the fear drifted away, just long enough to allow me to adjust the lens one final time. Zooming in, getting the close-up. Click and wind. Then back out, for the entire, perfect scene.

Click and wind. The centrepiece of this one is red. A dark floral stain against the shocking white of the carpet. The image in the viewfinder is framed by the pale furniture, the delicately painted walls. Just off centre, a figure lies. Half curled, where he has attempted the foetal position. Seeking comfort at the end. Next to him, creeping towards me as if trying to escape its useless host: blood. So much blood. I feel an ache of sadness, but I push it away. I can’t let it crush me. I can’t let it stop me from doing my job. There is a special kind of silence, at the end. ‘I’m sorry,’ I whisper, as I close the door behind me and step outside into the icy white dark. Cold air against my hot cheeks. Calming. It took me a long time to perfect my art. But you know what they say. Practice makes perfect.

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Can You Keep A Secret Karen Perry. Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Penguin (kindle) Paperback 30th November. 

Source: Review Copy

It’s time for a reunion

Lindsey hasn’t spoken to Rachael in twenty years, not since her brother’s 18th birthday party at their parents’ remote country house. A night that shattered so many friendships – and left Rachel’s father dead.

Now Thornbury Hall is up for sale, and the old gang are back there, together again. A weekend to say goodbye to the old place, to talk about the past. But twenty years of secrets aren’t given up lightly. Some won’t speak about what happened that night. While others want to ensure that no one does. Surviving the weekend is going to depend on whether you can keep a secret . . 

This is one of those types of stories that I love – school secrets shedding their skin in adult lives – the past/present colliding in dreadful and compelling ways – and with “Can You Keep A Secret?” the writing team that is Karen Perry have come up with a corker.

Genuinely absorbing the author takes us through the relationships between a group school friends, the impressive home of one of them forms its own character in the background – a tragedy at a party has repercussions years later as the friends gather once more to say goodbye to that home before it is sold. This is almost like a Shakespearean tragedy unfolding as events take on new meaning and the true nature of what went on both in reality and in mindset back then come to light. Through the voice of main protagonist Rachel, this is a twisty tale indeed and often actually surprising.

Using the past/present vibe to excellent effect, Can You Keep A Secret weaves a complex web of misconceptions and lies, a character driven narrative that unravels each event slowly but surely until you have an entire picture. Not always predictable, it is one of those page turning stories that keeps you immersed into the lives of these people and stays with you once you are done with it. All in all an excellent and often thought provoking read.

Recommended.

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Killing State Judith O’Reilly: Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now

Source: Review Copy

The bullet in his brain isn’t the problem. She is.

Michael North is a hero with a bullet in the brain to prove it. A bullet which has rewired his neural pathways and heightened his sense of intuition.

A bullet which is driving him mad.

Working for an extra-governmental agency called The Board, North knows one thing for sure.

He is very good at killing very bad guys.

But what happens when a hero is ordered to kill a good woman rather than a bad man? Because it turns out that rising political start, Honor Jones, MP, can’t stop asking the right questions about the wrong people.

He should follow orders.

Shouldn’t he?

Killing State is a fast paced, bang on target political thriller with an intriguing and double edged main protagonist with a reflective and foreshadowing feel about what the future could hold under an ever more controlling government.

I liked the moral sense of it throughout – the man who kills for a living yet draws lines in the sand, the fact that Michael North faces his own ever unknown death sentence adds a nuance to Killing State, he is an anti-hero who is really very compelling. The action is fast and furious and the political landscape drawn is a darkly terrifying one.

Multi layered characters are key to this story and the author shows their background and motivations really well, the more contemplative moments offset against the high octane ones make this a brilliantly immersive read. There are mystery elements that keep you intrigued, a terrific sense of place and purpose and overall I found this to be highly enjoyable and a right old page turner.

Hope to see more of Michael North very soon.

Recommended.

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Dead Lands Blog Tour: Contemporary or Historical Settings with Lloyd Otis

Today I am very happy to welcome Lloyd Otis to Liz Loves Books talking about Contemporary or Historical settings as part of the Dead Lands Blog tour. Information on the book follows.

 

Dead Lands: contemporary or historical settings? LLoyd Otis

Does your story work better in a contemporary setting? In crime fiction the protagonist may need access to the internet, a mobile phone, or the police investigating team may need to use GPS data or CCTV footage. Technology can help the villain commit the crime, and it can equally lead to their downfall. Alternatively, your story may work better if set in the past. The existence of technology may be incompatible with the time period. e.g. there were no computers in the 17th Century, no cars either. So it’s really about the environment that the author wants to build. They may want a more simplistic setting perhaps, where the tech doesn’t dictate the story. There could be many other reasons too.

If we think of the decade of the 70s we think of Concorde being introduced, a time when men showboated super-thick moustaches and sideburns, and women wore Joni Mitchell style Kaftans and Diane von Furstenberg’s wrap dresses. Or we might think of the unusual as in Ziggy Stardust. If we think of politics, then it’s the pivotal movements in the country like the three-day week and the emergence of petrol hoarders on the back on the nation’s energy crisis. We had what we’d now describe as bad hair moments, ones we thought were hip, and it was the time of platform shoes and shirt collars so wide they could be mistaken for wings. Poor race relations and discrimination separated the police from the communities, people took sides, robust attitudes were aired, sexism was rife. Disco music brought in a little fun and hippy culture from the 60s still flourished.

There was a lot going on and the 70s looked like the best place for detectives such as DI Breck and DS Kearns to roam. Kearns is a mother, estranged from her daughter, while Breck is trying to make up for not being there for his partner when she needed him most. Real problems that everyday people still experience, and will always probably experience. What makes their story compelling is that Breck and Kearns attempt to figure it all out slap bang in the middle of the UK punk movement amidst the time of the Clash, the Sex Pistols, and places like the Roxy Club.

There was a certain cool associated with the 70s and it built its own identity to the extent that if someone walked down the road in full 70s attire today, you’d be able to place the time period immediately.

With Dead Lands, having the ‘march’ in the background, was the foundation for the story’s social climate. Yes, I could have Breck and Kearns slotted into a contemporary setting but there’d be quite a few things that would have to change. Attitudes, Breck’s particular type of Florsheim leather loafers, and other more intricate things which would in effect, change parts of the characters.

This dive into the past gave Breck and Kearns plenty to play with. It enabled me to attach them to many different unique retro situations and have them meet a variety of interesting characters. Quite frankly, there was a lot going on in this time period, and it was just a case of choosing the right parts to focus on.

About The Book:

Dead Lands is a thrilling crime story set in the 1970s. When a woman’s body is found a special team is called in to investigate and prime suspect Alex Troy is arrested for the murder. Desperate to remain a free man, Troy protests his innocence, but refuses to use his alibi. Trying to protect the woman he loves becomes a dangerous game – questions are asked and suspicions deepen. When the prime suspect completes a daring escape from custody, DI Breck and DS Kearns begin the hunt. Breck wants out of the force while Kearns has her own agenda and seeks revenge. Breck has his suspicions and she wants to keep it from him, and a right-wing march provides an explosive backdrop to their hunt for Troy. Lloyd Otis brings a startling account of the past back to life over a burgeoning ’70s landscape, and delivers a thrilling piece of crime fiction that will excite any fan of the genre.

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Sleep No More P D James – Blog Tour Review

Publication Date: Available now from Faber

Source: review copy

As  six murderous tales unfold, the dark motive of revenge is revealed at the heart of each. Bullying schoolmasters receive their comeuppance, unhappy marriages and childhoods are avenged, a murder in the small hours of Christmas Day puts an end to the vicious new lord of the manor, and, from the safety of his nursing home, an octogenarian exerts exquisite retribution.

The punishments inflicted on the guilty are fittingly severe, but here they are meted out by the unseen forces of natural justice rather than the institutions of the law. Once again, P. D. James shows her expert control of the short-story form, conjuring motives and scenarios with complete conviction, and each with a satisfying twist in the tail

Oh I do love a good twisty tale me, of course P D James is the absolute queen of crime and all things dark and dastardly, so  I was MORE than keen to dig into these six short tales of the unexpected. I had a lovely (almost) week of one per evening with a cup of tea and possibly more than one chocolate biscuit..

Spicing things up with multi layered characters, cleverly imagined death scenario’s  and even more cleverly imagined  justice, each tale within this collection is immersive, beautifully written and often more than a little creepy. A natural storyteller, P D James messes with your perception of things and gives good book – my favourite of these was “The Girl who Loved Graveyards” with its gothic undertones and descriptive brilliance – but every story you find here is entirely excellent.

It’s always difficult to review short stories because it would be oh so easy to give things away – so I’m staying quiet and letting you discover these delights for yourselves. It is a dark delight to be sure but ever compelling and incredibly engaging.

Loved them all. For many different reasons.

Highly Recommended.

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Bloods Game Angus Donald – Blog Tour Extract.

It is the winter of 1670.

Holcroft Blood has entered the employ of the Duke of Buckingham, one of the most powerful men in the kingdom after the king. It is here that his education really begins. With a gift for numbers and decoding ciphers, Holcroft soon proves invaluable to the Duke, but when he’s pushed into a betrayal he risks everything for revenge.

His father, Colonel Thomas Blood, has fallen on hard times. A man used to fighting, he lives by his wits and survives by whatever means necessary. When he’s asked to commit treason by stealing the crown jewels, he puts himself and his family in a dangerous situation – one that may end at the gallows. 

As the machinations of powerful men plot to secure the country’s future, both father and son must learn what it is to survive in a more dangerous battlefield than war – the court of King Charles II. 

One missed step could prove fatal . . .

One of the raggedy boys, the smallest one, ran ahead of Holcroft, and crossed the road barring his path. The two behind him were closing in. Holcroft heard the litany of familiar taunts about his stupidity: ‘Tom-noddy . . . buffle-head . . . ninnyhammer . . . nump-son . . .’

He could see a pair of squat, red-faced women, standing outside their front doors, strong arms folded, looking on with amusement as the predatory boys closed in around Holcroft. He did not like this. These boys were going to spoil his errand. His mother had given him strict instructions: go to the Wheatsheaf, buy the rum and come straight home. And he had tried his best to do just that. But these three were going to ruin everything. He felt sick and dizzy. By the side of the street he saw a mounting block, a waist-high cube of stone, with three steps cut into one side. He walked over to it and carefully placed the pewter pot of rum on the top step.

Then he turned to face his tormentors.

The leader was clearly the biggest one – as tall as Holcroft, but thicker in the chest, and he moved with the rangy grace of a street cat. He had a shock of ginger hair, a wide grin and a black gap where his two front teeth should have been. The little blond one to Holcroft’s left, the one who’d run ahead to cut him off, was of no account. He was a follower, and younger than the others by some years. The redhead’s other companion, dark, bull-necked and vicious-looking, might be even more dangerous than the red.

Holcroft was no stranger to bullies. All his life people had objected to him in one way or another. And he had taken beatings with regularity until his older brother Tom, at his mother’s tearful pleading, had reluctantly taken him aside and taught him the rudiments of pugilism and Cornish wrestling. Tom had then taken pleasure in knocking him down again and again, day after day, while he lectured his brother in the finer points of the fighting arts.

Holcroft did not think there was any point in saying anything to these three, so he merely jumped forward and pumped a straight left into the redhead’s nose, smashing his head back. Then he dipped a shoulder and buried his right fist into his enemy’s now-open belly. He hit him a third time, again with his left, and with all his weight behind it, smack on the right cheekbone. The boy went down. Holcroft whirled, saw the dark boy nearly on him, fist raised. He blocked the punch and seized the boy by the lapels of his coat, pulled him in and crashed his forehead hard into the bridge of his opponent’s nose. He felt the crunch of cartilage, and the boy’s weight as he staggered, but Holcroft kept hold of him, shifting his position slightly as he brought his knee up smartly into the fellow’s groin. Holcroft released him and the boy slid bonelessly to the ground.

The tall redhead was gasping and spitting blood, back up on his feet but tottering. Holcroft took his time and clubbed him on the join of the jaw with his right fist, hard as he could, then followed in with a left uppercut to the chin that cracked his teeth together and hurled him on his back into the mud.

He looked at the third one: the blond child. Both Holcroft’s hands were hurting now, and he felt as if he were about to burst into tears, as he always did after a bout. He screamed, ‘Haaaaa!’ pushing his face right forward and scowling like a gargoyle, and the urchin gave a squeak and took to his heels. Holcroft looked at his two foes, now both curled in the mud, coughing, spewing, writhing feebly. He had nothing to say to them. He turned his back and went over to the stone mounting block to collect the pewter pot of rum. He looked, looked again and saw that the pot had disappeared.

The burly women spectators had vanished, too.

Holcroft’s heart sank into his shoes. No rum for Mother now. He felt cold and tearful. He would never hear the end of this.

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