Tuesday intro: Perfect Prey by Helen Fields

Once again I’m linking up again with Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea who hosts a post every Tuesday for people to share the first chapter / paragraph of the book they are reading, or thinking of reading soon. Diane is currently on a summer break but I have decided to carry on regardless because these are some of my favourite posts. I see others are doing the same – if you are, please leave a link to your post in the comments so that I don’t miss checking out your reads.

tuesdayI’m also joining in with Teaser Tuesday, hosted by The Purple Booker, where you share two teasers from your current read. I read a lot of these posts over the course of an average Tuesday so thought it would be fun to join in here too.

So, after a very long intro, this is what I’m reading this week…Read More »

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Sister Sister by Sue Fortin

33654421Alice: Beautiful, kind, manipulative, liar.

Clare: Intelligent, loyal, paranoid, jealous.

Clare thinks Alice is a manipulative liar who is trying to steal her life.

Alice thinks Claire is jealous of her long-lost return and place in their family.

One of them is telling the truth. The other is a maniac. Two sisters. One truth.

Alice and Clare were separated when they were young children, Alice going with her father to America and Clare staying in the UK with her mom.  It’s a family split neither Clare nor her mother have ever really recovered from and Clare has tried more than once to find her sister to no avail.  Then, one day, a letter arrives; Clare and Alice’s father has died and Alice is finally free to come home.

Initially excited, the fact that suddenly a grown woman who might be related by blood but is basically a stranger is visiting their home, makes Clare start to feel worried.  Then Alice arrives and she starts to feel even worse.  She doesn’t feel a connection with her long-lost sister.  In fact, it’s the opposite – questioning everything Alice does and says to the point where it starts to drive a wedge between her, her mother, her husband and her daughters (who all think Alice is great).

As a reader, it was hard to know where the truth lies at first…but easy to imagine Clare is feeling put out by the attention her sister is getting.  Told through her voice, which you can imagine getting increasingly “high pitched” as she tries to get people to see her point of view, I have to say it didn’t take long to figure out what is going on – though there were some twists at the end which I hadn’t seen coming in quite the way they did.

However, despite things not necessarily being a surprise, I enjoyed this book and found myself turning the pages pretty quickly.  I thought it was well written and there were more than enough twists to keep me interested.  Clare was a likeable central character, which always helps, so I was rooting for her all the way through.  I just wish her family hadn’t been quite so clueless.

There were times when I wanted to leap through the pages and shake one or more of them because things seemed pretty obvious to me but I think the fact that I was that involved is a good thing.  And the fact that I was able to forgive these things and a couple of leaps in logic shows that, at it’s core, this was a good book, one I like a lot and would definitely recommend.

Emma x

liked-it-a-lot

Source: Library
Publisher: HarperImpulse
Publication Date: 6th January, 2017
Format: ebook
Pages: 364
Genre: mystery / crime
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog tour and review: Buried on the Fens by Joy Ellis

Blog Tour Banner

I am not much of a one for doing blog tours – the added stress of getting a post up on a particular day has never appealed to me – and, in fact, this is my first.  But, it’s for an author who has become one of my firm favourites in the past year, ever since reading book four in her Nikki Galena series (Killer on the Fens),  so I decided to ignore my unwritten rule and take part.  I am pleased to report it was the right decision as this was a great book, possibly the best one yet.

Here’s what it’s about…

Buried on the FensA SKELETON IS UNEARTHED FROM A SHALLOW GRAVE IN THE CHURCHYARD. BUT THIS WAS NOT AN OFFICIAL BURIAL. THE VICTIM WAS MURDERED DECADES AGO.

At the same time, Detective Nikki Galena and her team are investigating the brutal slaying of local businesswoman Madeline Prospero. She was a member of an exclusive and secretive drinking club called The Briar Patch. But they’ve got no suspects and no one is telling them the truth.

Meanwhile, the buried skeleton leads them on a trail to the village of Quintin Eaudyke. This is a troubled place. In the late seventies and eighties a reign of terror and abuse was unleashed on the close-knit population.

When more women from the The Briar Patch come under threat, Nikki faces a race against time to stop the killing. Full of twists and turns, this is a crime thriller that will keep you turning the pages until the heart-stopping ending.

THE DETECTIVE
 DI Nikki Galena: A police detective with nothing left to lose, she’s seen a girl die in her arms and her own family destroyed. She’s tough on criminals but fiercely loyal to her team.

HER PARTNER
DS Joseph Easter is the squeaky-clean new member of the team. But his nickname “Holy Joe” belies his former life as a soldier. He has a daughter and an ex-wife who wants his attention.

THE SETTING
The Lincolnshire Fens: great open skies brood over marshes, farmland, and nature reserves. It is not easy terrain for the Fenland Constabulary to police, due to the distances between some of the remote Fen villages, the dangerous and often misty lanes, and the poor telephone coverage. There are still villages where the oldest residents have never set foot outside their own farmland and a visit to the nearest town is a major event. But it has a strange airy beauty to it, and above it all are the biggest skies you’ve ever seen.

DISCOVER YOUR NEXT FAVOURITE MYSTERY SERIES NOW

Perfect for fans of Rachel Abbott, Robert Bryndza, Mel Sherratt, Angela Marsons, Colin Dexter, or Ruth Rendell.

As always, the book opens with Nikki getting thrown into the deep end, with two cases (one for a thirty year old murder) on at the same time and hardly any clues to get her going.  Thankfully, her team are as tenacious as she is and attack both cases with no other option but to solve them.  Before they do though, they find themselves “down the rabbit hole” with red herrings galore and enough twists and turns to make their – and my – head spin.

One of the things I loved was that as the novel progresses these seemingly unrelated stories come together and everything starts to make sense.  None of it feels forced though, which can easily happen when weaving threads together and I was a left with a “well that was obvious feeling at the end”, even though none of it had been (if that makes sense?).

Another thing I loved was the characters.  I have sung my praises of Nikki in other reviews – she is kind, caring, but also not afraid to be tough to get the job done – even if that means upsetting friends and her wider team.  She has a back story which slowly came out over the last few books I read and there wasn’t much of that here, meaning this story can easily be read as a standalone. 

What this also means is as her back story has became less front and centre, her team have had the chance to shine.  As the story is told in the third person you get to hear all their voices and thoughts, helping make them real  In the last novel (Captive on the Fens) it was Cat that really came through as her own person – and remains one here – but now we really get to known WPC Yvonne Collins, who has been on the force a long time and seems to know everyone in the area and a lot of their secrets.

Secrets are big in Buried on the Fens – their are lots of them and people seem willing to die in order to keep them.  Nothing is quite as it seems – my favourite type of book.  This all adds to the tension, which ratchets up page by page, chapter by chapter to what is a pretty good climax of a pretty good book and one I loved.  A recommended read!

Enjoy!

Emma x

About the author

Joy Ellis photo 2Joy Ellis grew up in Kent but moved to London when she won an apprenticeship with the prestigious Mayfair flower shop, Constance Spry Ltd.  Many years later, having run her own florist shop in Weybridge, Ellis took part in a writer’s workshop in Greece and was encouraged by her tutor, Sue Townsend to begin writing seriously. She now lives in the Lincolnshire Fens with her partner Jacqueline and their Springer spaniels, Woody and Alfie.

Other books in the series

Book 1: CRIME ON THE FENS
Book 2: SHADOW OVER THE FENS
Book 3: HUNTED ON THE FENS
Book 4: KILLER ON THE FENS
Book 5: STALKER ON THE FENS
Book 6: CAPTIVE ON THE FENS
Book 7: BURIED ON THE FENS

Final facts

Source: Publisher
Publisher: Joffe
Publication Date: 11th July, 2017
Format: ebook
Pages: 284
Genre: mystery / crime
Find on: Amazon UK (it’s 99p right now!) / Amazon US / Goodreads

I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.

Stacking shelves: 8th July, 2017

STSsmallOnce again, I’m joining in with Tynga at Tynga’s Reviews and Marlene of Reading Reality for Stacking Shelves, where you share the real and virtual books you have added to your shelves in the last week.

First up is a book I wanted to read for a while The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths, though I am a little nervous about joining the series when it’s already in flow.

51gqwo4uACL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Boiled human bones have been found in Norwich’s web of underground tunnels. When Dr Ruth Galloway discovers they were recently buried, DCI Nelson has a murder inquiry on his hands. The boiling might have been just a medieval curiosity – now it suggests a much more sinister purpose.

Meanwhile, DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a local rough sleeper. The only trace of her is the rumour that she’s gone ‘underground’. This might be a figure of speech, but with the discovery of the bones and the rumours both Ruth and the police have heard that the network of old chalk-mining tunnels under Norwich is home to a vast community of rough sleepers, the clues point in only one direction. Local academic Martin Kellerman knows all about the tunnels and their history – but can his assertions of cannibalism and ritual killing possibly be true?

As the weather gets hotter, tensions rise. A local woman goes missing and the police are under attack. Ruth and Nelson must unravel the dark secrets of The Underground and discover just what gruesome secrets lurk at its heart – before it claims another victim.

Release date (paperback): 13th July, 2017 – already available as ebook

Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

Read More »

Stacking Shelves: 1st July, 2017

STSsmallOnce again, I’m joining in with Tynga at Tynga’s Reviews and Marlene of Reading Reality for Stacking Shelves, where you share the real and virtual books you have added to your shelves in the last week.

This week should also be called the “week where I went a bit netgalley crazy”, which I haven’t done since I first discovered it.  Then, I got carried away and ended up feeling overwhelmed with review books.  Since, I have had a “review one, request one” approach.  Until last week, when I got a bit click happy….and had half approved (with the other half pending – what have I done!).  Here’s what I got…Read More »

Tuesday intro: The Binding Song by Elodie Harper

Once again I’m linking up again with Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea who hosts a post every Tuesday for people to share the first chapter / paragraph of the book they are reading, or thinking of reading soon. Diane is currently on a summer break but I have decided to carry on regardless because these are some of my favourite posts. I see others are doing the same – if you are, please leave a link to your post in the comments so that I don’t miss checking out your reads.

tuesday I also thought I would join in with Teaser Tuesday, hosted by The Purple Booker, where you share two teasers from your current read. I read a lot of these posts over the course of an average Tuesday so thought it would be fun to join in here too.

So, after a very long intro, this is what I’m reading this week…

34452770

Dr Janet Palmer is the new lead psychologist at HMP Halvergate in a remote, bleak area of Norfolk. At first, she was excited by the promotion. Then she starts to see how many secrets are hiding behind the high walls.

A string of inmates have committed suicide, leaving no reasons why, and her predecessor has disappeared – along with his notes. The staff are hostile, the threat of violence is ever-present, and there are rumours of an eyeless woman stalking the corridors, punishing the inmates for their sins.

Janet is determined to find out what is really going on. But the longer she stays and the deeper she digs, the more uncertain she feels.

Halvergate is haunted by something. But it may be a terror worse than ghosts…

I have to admit that the cover is what has gotten me on this.  It is so creepy.  I hope the story itself lives up to my very shallow expectations.  Here’s how it starts…

The break in the trees told him nothing.  Ryan had no idea how far he had travelled or in what direction.  He longed to sink down into the mud, rest just for a moment, but instead he scuttled across the open patch of long grass, bent double like a crab.  He tried not to think about the lorry he’d left behind, the warm seat, the friendly driver. Perhaps if he’d styed, he could have hitched  lift out of Norfolk. But it had made him nervous when his companion turned up the radio. At every ad break he started to sweat, wondering when his description was going to blare out over the news.

And here are a few teasers…

“The return to Cherry Tree Drive was almost a relief.  Janet headed straight to the shower, standing under the water at its hottest temperature, washing away as much of Harrogate as she could.  After her scare last week, she had been feeling uncharacteristically on edge, not just around me but also with her colleagues. “

and

“From the street below came a woman’s steady wailing. Steven crossed to the window again. Fiery shadows played over the group’s movements, the orange street lights illuminating their faces.”

What do you think – would you keep reading?

Emma x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Sister by Michelle Adams

51W0o7zGjYLTwo Sisters:

You don’t get to choose your family.

She thought she’d never go back home.

But there’s something in her sister’s voice she just can’t refuse.

And hasn’t it always been that way?

What her sister asks, she does . . .

When Irini gets a call from her sister Elle in the early hours of the morning to tell her their mother is dead, Irini isn’t sure what to do or how to respond.  It’s not like she knows her mother…she hasn’t seen or spent time with her since she was three year old and she’s now in her mid-30s.

She hasn’t spent much time with her sister either.  When they were little, they were separated.  Irini went to live with an aunt.  Elle stayed with their parents.  Why was never clear and, now, for Irini, it seems it might be getting too late to ask.  Spurred on by her boyfriend, she decides to attend the funeral, visiting her childhood home in Scotland at the same time to try and uncover the truth.

So far, so good in the interesting plot stakes.  This was a book I liked the sound of for just that and which hooked me in pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, it didn’t hold my attention as the story continued.  In part, it was the characters.  I really didn’t like Irini or Elle.  I found Irini confusing.  She said one thing, did another.  I get that this was supposed to be because she was under Elle’s thrall but I couldn’t see what that was myself.

Irini talks about how charming her sister is but I never saw it.  I saw a woman with issues, who was demanding and controlling and who gets her way because people are scared of her.  I also saw a damaged woman that nobody had ever seemingly taken the time to help.  This is a hard one for me because a bit part of the plot twists here were based on Elle being mentally ill.

I know I read a lot of novels where there is a character that could be described as a psychopath or a sociopath but when a characters behaviour is down to what is basically stated is a mental health condition I start to feel uncomfortable.  I work in the mental health field and this just has stigma written all over it.  I have to say, I don’t think this is Michelle Adam’s intention I think it was just poorly thought out from that perspective.

Perhaps if it had been handled in a different way I would have felt more comfortable reading as the book went on but I just didn’t.  I also didn’t quite get some of the plot twists.  Was Elle evil with a master plot or a disturbed young woman?  And was their a plot at all against Irini?  At times it felt there was, at others not, and in the end I was left confused and slightly disappointed in the outcome.

For me, the book needed to go all out and didn’t.  That said, this is a debut so maybe I shouldn’t be as harsh.  It wasn’t all bad, with a good first third before I started to flag and at times I could see a flash of what could be something great.  I don’t know enough about editing to say whether that was at play here but in my head this could have been tightened up and potentially shone.

All in all, then, I liked it, just not a lot – though from the reviews on goodreads I am in the minority here so don’t let me put you off (you can read the first chapter free on Amazon here if you wanted to see what you think).

Emma x

liked-it-a-little

Source: Publisher
Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: 20th April, 2017
Format: ebook
Pages: 384
Genre: mystery / crime
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dinosaur Feather by Sissel-Jo Gazan

10240235How could one man inspire such hatred?

Professor Lars Helland is found at his desk with his tongue lying in his lap. A violent fit has caused him to bite through it in his death throes. A sad but simple end. Until the autopsy results come through.

The true cause of his death – the slow, systematic and terrible destruction of a man – leaves the police at a loss. And when a second member of Helland’s department disappears, their attention turns to a postgraduate student named Anna. She’s a single mother, angry with the world, desperate to finish her degree. Would she really jeopardise everything by killing her supervisor?

As the police investigate the most brutal and calculated case they’ve ever known, Anna must fight her own demons, prove her innocence and avoid becoming the killer’s next victim.

So The Dinosaur Feather is the oldest book I own and haven’t read.  I bought it in October 2012 and it has languished on my Kindle ever since. Inspired by reading the book that was previously the oldest unread book I owned (The Dead Room by Chris Mooney) and how I wish I hadn’t waited as long, I set myself a personal challenge this year of reading the books at the bottom of the reading pile.  This one was next on my list and, unfortunately, the results weren’t as good as I might have hoped.

The Dinosaur Feather sounds like it should be right up my street but I just couldn’t get into it.  There is a slow start, where Anna (the main character) is caught up in a dream before it moves onto pages and pages of explanation of who she is and why she was having the dream – she is due to finish her doctorate on whether birds are descendent from dinosaurs.   The pace never picks up.  I didn’t check the page count but it has to be 100 or so pages before we get to the murder Anna has to solve to prove her innocence.

Which brings me to my next problem with the book – the blurb saying Anna must “prove her innocence and avoid becoming the killer’s next victim”.  Neither of these things are true, unless I missed a bit of the book (it’s possible it was on a page I skimmed in order to keep going).  The detective (Soren) in charge of the investigation doesn’t think she did it and Anna’s life is never under threat.  I felt slightly cheated as a result, and even less inclined to try to like the book.

The third thing that caused me issues was Anna herself…she is really unlikeable, even her friends as good as say it.  It’s passed off as a fiery personality but it wasn’t.  She was selfish to the core, leaving her daughter at the drop of a hat and treating her friends and family like they were there to serve.  I have to say I kind of hoped she was guilty so they would arrest her – serving her right for being a pain.

Add to this a series of sub-plots around Anna’s childhood and Soren’s past and it was all very confusing and very long.  The book is over 500 pages and I felt every one.  I hate being scathing about books because I know the authors have put a lot of work into them, but here I am really struggling to find something positive to say.

The writing was o.k., though it was too wordy for me (I don’t know how much of that was down to the translation?), and I think in there was a good story if the “extras” could have been cut out – the sub-plots but also the pages and pages of the science behind bird feathers.  It didn’t add to the book and it made me want to skip ahead, never a good sign.

So, all in all, I am sorry to say, this wasn’t a book for me and not one I can recommend.

Sorry!

Emma x

not-for-me

Source: Purchased
Publisher: Quercus Books
Publication Date: 2008
Format: ebook
Pages: 536
Genre: mystery / crime
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

Mercy Killing by Lisa Cutts

31129137The death of a local sex offender places the police officers at East Rise incident room under immense pressure – they must treat this case like any other murder, but they know what Albie Woodville did and can feel little sympathy. Except, as the investigation progresses, it becomes clear this isn’t just a one-off killing – someone is out for revenge …

So, despite the fact I promised myself I would stop picking up books that show a woman walking away from me (there are soooo many of them!), I did it with Mercy Killing by Lisa Cutts when I came across it at my local library.  I really can’t help myself!

Mercy Killing is a police procedural that feels real – no doubt because Lisa Cutts is a detective constable when she isn’t writing pretty good pieces of crime fiction (and has been for 20 years).   It also feels different, at least for me when I compare it to the books I’ve been reading lately.  First, the lead detective wasn’t a woman but rather a grumpy old man (Harry), one who had been a police officer for a long time and who is feeling world weary.

Second, investigating this crime seemed like a real team effort.  Harry wasn’t a man out to prove himself or with demons to fight (though he is fighting with his wife a fair deal – no police officers life can be perfect it seems).  He didn’t rush into situations without thinking, putting himself in danger as a consequence.  And he wasn’t a one man band.  He had his team do the work they were being paid to do and he did what he was being paid to do – lead them.

At first, this idea of a team all working together threw me a little but I pretty soon feel into the flow of moving between characters and started to enjoy getting to know them.  They were all interesting and all pretty strong, which they needed to be given not so much the crime they were investigating but the victim, a paedophile. Albie Woodville is a nasty piece of work and it’s probably not a surprise some officers wondered if they shouldn’t be shaking the hand of the man – or woman – who had killed him.

I’m not sure enjoyed is the right word here but for want of a better one, I enjoyed seeing how each officer responded to the victim and his crimes, how it affected them on a professional and personal level.  I also enjoyed getting to see the inner workings of the force and the way the investigation played out.  It did make for a slower pace than some other police procedurals I’ve read but I can’t say I minded it.  I didn’t get bored and my mind didn’t wander so there are no complaints here.

I have read this is the start of a new series for Lisa Cutts – who I haven’t read before – and I have to say I think she’s set a great scene.  An area (East Rise) that seems just dark enough to have some interesting criminals living in it and a cast of characters that feel like they all have more to live.  I’ll be looking out for the second book (due August I think) and would definitely recommend this book. Liked it a lot.

Enjoy!

Emma x

liked-it-a-lotSource: Library
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Date: 1st September, 2016
Format: ebook
Genre: crime, mystery
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

What Goes Around by Julie Corbin

29286951What Goes Around is the story of two women – Ellen and Leila. Ellen is the ex-wife and Leila is the new woman, living in Ellen’s house, sleeping with Ellen’s husband. Each woman has her own secrets to keep. Leila’s brother is back in her life and is determined to rake up their past while Ellen is out for revenge. She wants her home back and she wants Leila to pay for breaking up her marriage. Her plan will make her do things she never thought herself capable of – but it will also put her in danger. Because Ellen has no idea what sort of a woman Leila is and when she finally finds out, it could already be too late…

One of the women will end up dead. But which one?

I have never read any Julie Corbin before but have heard great things about her books and I have to say they were no exaggeration.  She is a great writer, creating in What Goes Around a tense story with interesting characters and plenty of twists and turns.

It starts pretty simply.  Ellen’s husband has left her and, as a result, she is a mess.  Living in rented accommodation and suffering from OCD, she spends most of her time afraid.  The rest she seems to spend thinking about the b***h Leila, the woman who stole her husband.  And the woman who is living in the house she pretty much built from the ground up and raised her wo children in.  The woman who is destroying that house, making changes and making it her own.

Then when Ellen is looking for a therapist to help her with her anxiety, Leila is recommended to her and she can’t resist.  She wants revenge and figures getting her foot in the door is the first step. The rest she’ll play by ear…but, bottom line, she wants Leila to pay.

Leila, meanwhile has problems of her own.  She has a dark past, a son who is addicted to drugs and, if she’s completely honest, life with Tom (the husband/lover) isn’t quite what she thought.  In theory, it should be.  After fighting for everything in her life, she finally has everything she wants – a nice house, a rich, handsome husband, and a chance to work for herself.  But being with Tom means being someone she isn’t.  And this is harder to do when her estranged brother reappears demanding she revisits their childhood traumas.

For the reader, who slowly gets to know both characters and see just what is going through their minds in alternating chapters, it’s fascinating (or at least I thought so).  Both women are so much more complex than they first appear, especially Leila, and I found my sympathies shifing back and forth as the book progressed.  In the end, I’m not sure there is a “bad guy” (or woman) here.  It’s just two women who don’t understand each other and are too wrapped up in their own lives to maybe care that much anyway about what the other is feeling.

Then you throw the brother in the mix and things really heat up.  The tension rises when it becomes clear that he is dangerous.  What isn’t clear is just how much so and what he will do to get his way and reconnect with Leila.  Hints are dropped and as I reader I had to pick them up and put htem together.  I managed to (yay me!) but it wasn’t easy.  It was, though, a lot of fun.

My only niggle with this book is the epilogue.  I have said it before I know but I am just not sure they are needed nine times out of ten.  That was definitely the case here.  I was completely satisfied with the ending and left with a few “what ifs” I could mull over in my own time.  Then these were answered and I felt, if anything, a bit cheated and – because of that – it moved this book from a loved to a liked a lot, though still a recommended read.

Enjoy!

Emma

liked-it-a-lot

Source: Publisher
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: 6th April, 2017 (paperback)
Pages: 323
Format: paperback
Genre: crime, mystery
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.