WolfHound Century by Peter Higgins. An interesting Blend…

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Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy via netgalley.

Investigator Vissarion Lom has been summoned to the capital in order to catch a terrorist — and ordered to report directly to the head of the secret police.
A totalitarian state, worn down by an endless war, must be seen to crush home-grown insurgents with an iron fist. But Lom discovers Mirgorod to be more corrupted than he imagined: a murky world of secret police and revolutionaries, cabaret clubs and doomed artists.

So I always like to try a book that refuses to sit firmly in any one genre and WolfHound Century was just that very thing and very cleverly imagined.

The thing I loved most about this one was the descriptive prose that put you right in the moment – and the world the author has created here. It is almost fairytale like in its concept, but definitely Grimm and not Disney – and written so well you can see it as if it were real.

This is part political thriller, part dark fantasy and part mystery and the various strands of the story are woven together to great effect – if I had one small complaint it would be that sometimes the characters did seem very secondary to the environment they were living in – however as this is part of a series it is important that the mythology behind the story is ingrained and this was achieved well.

It is a bit of a slow burner – I rambled my way through the first few chapters, but once it kicked in, it was a definite page turner and I very much enjoyed it.

I look forward to the next instalment. Overall a terrific, well written tale with an interesting concept and fantastic imagery.

Happy Reading Folks!

Liz Currently Loves….The Key by Simon Toyne.

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Hunted. Hounded. Haunted.
She is the most important person in the world. She is The Key
Journalist Liv Adamsen has escaped from the highly secretive Citadel at the heart of the ancient city of Ruin and now lies in isolation, staring at hospital walls as blank as her memory. Despite her inability to recall her past, something strange is stirring within her. She feels possessed by a sen-sation she can’t name and plagued by whispers only she can hear: “KuShiKaam,” the key.

So following on from the heart stopping events of “Sanctus” the story continues with “The Key” and if anything this one enthralled me even more than the first. Which is REALLY saying something considering my usual aversion to this kind of tale…

I’m not going to say anything specific because its difficult to review properly without spoiling Sanctus for those readers who have not yet started this series – so generally speaking…

The plot development is second to none – SUCH an imaginative unique story and with “The Key” Mr Toyne expands and adds depth to his mythology and the background to the events occurring in the lives of his characters. The writing style draws you right into this world, you can see the places and the people described with perfect clarity and it is brilliant addictive reading. I finished it bleary eyed in the early hours then woke up later extremely cross with myself that I hadnt packed “The Tower” which I’m sure is going to be an amazing conclusion to this ingenious story..

Character development is also well done here – second books often suffer from the assumption that the reader knows the characters well and they can therefore take a secondary place to the plot but this pitfall is avoided here – they are also broadened and given extra heart. This is no “filler before the finale” this is a whole story in its own right and moves us along with perfect pacing.

All in all a most terrific read – sadly for me, only one more to go in this particular trilogy. Then I’ll have to start moaning at Mr Toyne to bring me something else from his particularly lively and intriguing imagination.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

Liz Currently Loves….The Wasteland Saga by Nick Cole.

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Thank you to Kate at Harper Collins for randomly sending me this terrific book.

Forty years after a devastating thermonuclear Armageddon, mankind has been reduced to salvaging the ruins of a broken world. In a style that’s part Hemingway and part Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, The Wasteland Saga chronicles the struggle of the Old Man, his granddaughter, and a mysterious boy as they try to survive the savage lands of this new American Dark Age.

This novel is made up of three interconnecting stories – The Old Man and the Waste Land, The Savage Boy and The Road is a River. Originally released separately, I was lucky enough to have all three in one go – Thank heavens!

As far as post apocalyptic fiction goes this is at the top of the game – Brilliantly involving, a realistic scenario and some tremendously well drawn characters make it a terrific read for fans of this genre and indeed anyone with a love for storytelling art. The author picks you up and puts you into a different world, paints you a picture and leads you through an amazing landscape where you will need all your senses.

I was bereft when I got to the end of Part one. I thought Part two could not possibly match it. Then I was bereft when I got to the end of Part Two and thought…well, you get the point.

This will have added depth if you  have read Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” which I also loved and also suffers inevitable comparison to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (a book incidentally that I hated with every fibre of my being, an opinion that often gets me into trouble!)  but the tone and the feel of it for me was more “The Stand” which anyone who knows me well will be aware is my favourite book of all time. Since that novel only Justin Cronin with “The Passage” has come close to evoking the same emotional response in me – and now Nick Cole with this tale. That is perhaps the highest compliment I can pay and probably the easiest way to say how good I thought it was.

There is excitement and adventure here – occasionally an adrenalin rush – but tempered with periods of quiet contemplation and insight. The world the characters inhabit is a harsh one, but there IS hope here. It is a wonderful read. Thats about all I can say.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Cherringham: A Murder for every month of the year…

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So I have not read episodic books since I avidly awaited each new instalment of “The Green Mile” by Stephen King many years ago now, but when I was offered the chance to have a look at a new series that is going to be released over the course of this year I jumped at the chance – they sounded perfect for Sunday afternoon reading. I read part one over the course of yesterday. To follow: Some information on the series followed by a review of the first instalment – Murder on the Thames.

Murder on Thames is the first in an innovative Crime series written in English but published by one of Germany’s leading publishers, Bastei Entertainment.

Published in English first, to be followed by German in March 2014, the crime series features 12 self-contained episodes written by co-authors Neil Richards (UK based) and Matthew Costello (US based).

In a revival of the Dickensian tradition, a new eBook episode will be published each month with the second episode, Mystery at the Manor, to be published in the UK on the 19th January 2014.

Cherringham is a quiet and peaceful town in the Cotswolds. Time moves slowly here, and nothing out of the ordinary ever happens, until one morning a woman’s body is discovered in the river. Sarah Edwards has just returned to Cherringham with her two children following the breakdown of her marriage. Sarah had been friends with Sammi Jackson – the woman in the river – before they both moved to London and she’s certain there is more to her death than meets the eye. But juggling the school run and her job as a web designer doesn’t leave much time to solve murder mysteries.

After the death of his wife, former NYPD homicide detective Jack Brennan has retired to Cherringham hoping for a quiet life. He soon realises “peace and quiet” isn’t really him and, despite his misgivings, he’s persuaded by Sarah to help her look into Sammi’s death. It quickly becomes clear that the case isn’t as simple as the police hope. From her violent ex-boyfriend to her alcoholic father, it seems everyone has something to hide. Sarah and Jack will need to use all their wits to get to the bottom of this case.

Thrilling, deadly and anything but ‘cosy’, Murder on Thames brings together the unlikely crime sleuth duo Sarah and Jack for the first in the ongoing Cherringham crime series.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Co-authors, Neil Richards (based in the UK) and Matthew Costello (based in the US), are known for their script work on major computer games. The Cherringham crime series is their first fictional transatlantic collaboration. Matthew has written and designed dozens of bestselling games including the critically acclaimed The 7th Guest, Doom 3, Rage and Pirates of the Caribbean. He is also the author of a number of successful novels, including Vacation (2011) and Beneath Still Waters (1989), which was made into a movie. Neil has worked as a producer and writer in TV and film, creating scripts for BBC, Disney, and Channel 4, and earning numerous Bafta nominations along the way. He’s also written script and story for over 20 video games including The Da Vinci Code, and consults around the world on digital storytelling.

Review: Murder on the Thames.

So, the first instalment in the Cheringham series finds us meeting Sarah and Jack – Jack a retired NYPD police officer who is now living in Cheringham and Sarah a single mother who has returned to her home village. When Sarah’s good friend is found drowned in the river, the police are quick to assume an accident – but Sarah is not so sure. With Jack’s help she sets out to track down the truth.

An unlikely pairing these two but a good one – I very much enjoyed their interaction and the mystery itself was well drawn and intriguing. As a set up for an ongoing novella series it was extremely well done – enough information about our main protagonists to ensure we want to follow on with them and an initial contact that makes us want to know more about their developing relationship.

Add to that a great little mystery written in old school style and you have much to look forward to. In the tradition of Midsomer and almost anywhere you might find Jessica Fletcher, I get the feeling that Cheringham and the surrounding area’s may not be a place you would want to live – but as a place to visit every now and then its going to be great.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

The Half Life of Hannah/Other Halves by Nick Alexander.

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I recently downloaded The Half Life of Hannah onto my wonderful Kindle and then was lucky enough to receive Other Halves as a review copy so I spent some of my recent holiday reading them back to back – if you have not yet read either of these novels I highly recommend that you do the same. For the purposes of review though, I shall split the difference. You may want to do the same reading this article as obviously the review for Other Halves may give certain things away….

The Half Life of Hannah

Hannah is thirty-eight and the happily married mother of eleven-year-old Luke, the diamond in her world. Her marriage is reassuringly stable, and after fifteen years she has managed to push the wild dreams of youth from her mind and concentrate on the everyday satisfactions of here and now. The first half of her life hasn’t been as exciting as she had hoped, but then, she reckons, whose has?

When she succeeds in convincing husband Cliff to rent a villa in the south of France for a summer vacation with her sister Jill, and gay friend Tristan, she’s expecting little more than a pleasant few weeks with her family.
But they each have their own baggage – their own secrets – ready to explode on this not-so-relaxing holiday in France.

Starting off as a gentle yet intriguing family story, we follow Hannah and co on holiday in France where tension lies just beneath the surface..

I wasnt expecting such a wonderful emotive tale but that is what I got. Cleverly using the past and present to build a picture in its entirety, I loved the fact that this was unpredictable. Character driven all the way with a terrific ending that both completes the story and leaves room for more (luckily for me the “more” was readily available) it is a slow burner that will hold your attention throughout.

It is a page turner and beautifully written. I found myself reading way into the night as I wanted to find out what would happen next – there are a few twists and turns along the way and you were not always sure where it was going.

A tale of family secrets this was compelling and emotional and is highly recommended for fans of family drama with heart.

DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT YET READ THE HALF LIFE OF HANNAH.

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Other Halves

Hannah and Cliff’s marriage is over. After a traumatic family holiday, Cliff’s lies have been exposed and Hannah has been reunited with her lost love, Cliff’s brother, James. But after fifteen years together, and forever bound by love for their eleven-year-old son, Luke, breaking free and starting again seems impossible.

Following on from The Half Life of Hannah this is the continuation of Hannah and Cliff’s story as they find new lives after their separation.

Once again a terrific character driven novel, we get to hear from both Hannah and Cliff. Emotionally compelling, for someone like me who is currently going through a separation herself, this book spoke volumes.

Having been very much on Hannah’s side during the first novel, I found myself sympathising with Cliff as we learn more about his inner turmoil.

If I had one complaint it would be that I wanted more from some of the characters I fell for in Book One, Tristan and Jill particularly, but you never know – whilst this gave closure there is also room for more. Here’s hoping.

All in all I loved both these novels and would Highly Recommend reading one after the other. As a whole it was wonderfully compelling with a high standard of writing.

Happy Reading Folks!

Liz Currently Loves….Tomorrow The Killing by Daniel Polansky

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Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy.

Once he was a hero of the Great War, and then a member of the dreaded Black House. Now he is the criminal linchpin of Low Town. His name is Warden. He thought he had left the war behind him, but a summons from up above brings the past sharply, uncomfortably, back into focus. General Montgomery’s daughter is missing somewhere in Low Town, searching for clues about her brother’s murder. The General wants her found, before the stinking streets can lay claim to her, too.

So, Book Two of the Low Town novels and I have to say having read this, these have now moved very close to the top of my favourite fantasy novels. Having thought about it a little there are two reasons for this – The world these characters inhabit is rich, wonderful, awful and amazing all at the same time and Warden himself is one of the best characters I’ve found in this type of fiction. He is beautifully imperfect, unpredictable and intriguing. Two books in and you feel you have only just scratched the surface…and yet still feel you know him well.

In this instalment he is chasing down the daughter of General Montgomery, who is off searching Low Town for her brothers murderer. Warden has history with both the General and his son Roland so against his better judgment he agrees to get involved – of course in this world nothing is straight forward and soon he finds himself in deep water once again..

The pure storytelling here is a joy to behold – giving depth to the characters we met in The Straight Razor Cure and bringing new ones into the mix, I’m definitely in love with the people, Wren in particular. There is dark humour and an ironic outlook on life alongside a rollicking adventure that will hold you in its thrall until it is done.

I really cannot recommend these books highly enough, especially for those who love the Fantasy genre and who love depth and intelligence in plotting and characterisation. Brilliant. Bring on Book 3.

Happy Reading Folks!

Liz Currently Loves….Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh

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Coming January 14th From Crown Publishing

Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy via Netgalley.

Spademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a bombed-out shell of its former self. Now he’s a hitman.

I wasnt sure quite what to expect when I started this one  – the premise sounded interesting and it turned out to be a terrific story. Spademan lives in the real world while many around him live in a dream – hooked up to machines they all live lives they have chosen while outside the city rots around them. After the death of his wife in the dirty bomb, Spademan found he had a particular talent for killing. All it takes these days is a phone call and a name…he doesnt care about the reasons, he just needs to know who and where. Until he meets Persephone….

I loved the world the author has created here. In the aftermath of the bombings, many survivors deserted the area, leaving behind the destruction, but for some reason many stayed. Some to live actual real lives, others to live a virtual life of their own construct. Spademan is an intriguing character – he has his own moral code, he will not harm children as that takes a “particular kind of psychopath” but he will happily kill anyone else without knowing why. When Persephone becomes his next target however, his mindset begins to shift. Its a fascinating insight into a very troubled mind.

The world is rich with atmosphere and delightfully drawn supporting characters who all invade Spademan’s space causing one problem or the other, even when they are trying to help. There is some wonderful ironic humour here to offset the darker aspects of the story and this author is adept at creating visual images in your head as you read – imaginatively speaking this is superb.

Story flow is perfect, some beautiful writing skill and clever plot development make this an absolutely wondrous reading experience. I am secretly hoping to have more tales of this city..

Happy Reading Folks!

Liz Currently Loves…The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley.

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Coming January from Macmillan – Tor Forge.

Thank you to the author and publisher for the advance copy via netgalley.

When the emperor of Annur is murdered, his children must fight to uncover the conspiracy—and the ancient enemy—that effected his death.

Now I don’t usually do fantasy novels/sci fi novels unless they are of the Urban or YA variety, but my good (online) friend Cory raved about this one SO much that I just could not resist taking a look. Well there are good decisions then there are GREAT decisions, this one turned out to be a great one because it was fantastic.

Right from the start I was TOTALLY absorbed in this world that Mr Staveley has created here – with its rich landscape and extraordinarily well drawn characters, all of them compelling and intriguing. The story is beautifully complicated yet well flowing and intelligent, an absolute page turner of the highest order.

The author deftly weaves several layers of plot, creating a world of intrigue and betrayal then pulls it all together as we head for a terrific conclusion.

I do like a clever book as anyone that follows my reviews knows – when you have a story that is  both sophisticated and challenging, yet immensely readable then you know you are onto a good thing. This is a good thing!

I could probably go on for hours. And hours. But a delightful experience awaits you should you choose to pick up this particular novel and therefore I shall not spoil a single moment. I knew nothing going in bar the fact that one of my friends enjoyed it so much that she went into Rabid Fangirl Mode. Which trust me, she doesnt do often. I’m currently considering switching to that mode myself….

Happy Reading Folks!

 

The Killer Inside by Will Carver – more short story art.

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A wonderful little “Bridging” tale between Will Carver’s earlier novels (Girl 4 and The Two) and his latest book in the January David series “Dead Set” I was slightly late to the party – in that I read this today, rather than before I read Dead Set. I’m actually pleased I did it that way around as it gave it quite a fun edge. As long as you are familiar with the authors work, it will be just as good either way to my mind.

So we have Eames plotting and scheming, interspersed with January doing his thing – I loved the little portions about the letters Eames received and his true feelings about them – and having prior knowledge of what was coming made it all the more entertaining for me.

If it has been a while since you read the previous two novels this is perfect to get you back in the Eames v January v Audrey frame of mind and dive straight back into the weird and wonderful world Mr Carver has created. If you have already read “Dead Set” and did not realise this story was available, then fear not – you will enjoy it in a completely different way!

Short but sweet, JUST as delicious as the chocolate pudding I consumed whilst I read it, it comes highly recommended from me, along with all of Will Carver’s other books. Especially if you like your crime with a twist and if you love a writer who writes outside the box.

Get your copy here: It won’t cost you a penny! http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Killer-Inside-Will-Carver-ebook/dp/B00FM12Q90/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_i

 

Happy Reading Folks!

Liz Currently Loves…..Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas.

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It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives.

But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer, she discovers harsh revelations about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

Awaiting the judge’s decree, it becomes clear to Anna that everyone around her thinks she is not only guilty, but also dangerous.

This book is an interesting one to be sure…having read some mixed reviews I was very intrigued to find out for myself what all the fuss was about.

As you know I do love a clever book and this one was – on the surface, a simple story of vapid teenagers with more money than sense, partying hard until tragedy strikes and throws them all into turmoil..but underneath the glossy surface is a multi layered tale of love, betrayal and murder with a psychological twist.

Told from Anna’s point of view, covering the events leading up to the death of her best friend Elise and the aftermath, the story unfolding is compelling and addictive – not least because of the characters themselves. Abigail Haas has given them all a psychological depth not often found in teen fiction and has woven a cautionary tale into the narrative about the intensity and hidden facets of the relationships we form and the obsessive nature of such things. Throw into the mix drugs, drink and secrets and its not surprising really that things go horribly wrong.

Inspiration has very obviously been taken from real life events, several of them, and this works very well because you kind of think you know the story – it lifts the reading experience into an almost “documentary” style feel, as if this is, in fact, a true tale. As Anna fights to prove her innocence in the face of almost impossible odds you will be clinging on by the fingernails with her – as she says ” Wouldn’t we all look guilty, if someone searched hard enough?

Well yes, we would. The most mundane actions can seem sinister when looked at from a place of suspicion, another thing that the author has managed to convey superbly.  Along with a one track mindset from the police and the media turning the crime into a movie for the masses its a wonder that any justice system ever works…what Abigail Haas has done is made me wonder how many guilty,  OR innocent for that matter, verdicts we hear about in the real world headlines are actually indicative of what actually happened.

So yes, this is a mystery story aimed at the YA audience, with some very adult themes at its heart and is superbly written and laid out. The solution is right there in front of you folks, whether you see it coming or not, the experience of getting there will be worth it.

Happy Reading Folks!