#Tuesdaybookblog #Audio #bookreview The Widow by Fiona Barton #thriller

The Widow by Fiona Barton

Narrated by Clare Corbett

The Blurb

THE SUNDAY TIMES AND NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, AND RICHARD & JUDY BOOK CLUB PICK

‘If you liked GONE GIRL and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, you might want to pick up THE WIDOW by Fiona Barton. Engrossing. Suspenseful’ Stephen King

We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.

But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?

Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming.

Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.

But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.

Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

51HmaIwzH8L._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_

My Review

Even though terrible subject matter is touched upon in this book, it was a very enjoyable read / listen. The story switches between the present day and back into the past when the little girl Bella is abducted. It’s easy to follow the storyline, and this technique helped to drag you into the story.

It’s soon clear the widow is an unreliable narrator. It’s hard to like most of the characters involved, however Sparks seems like a dedicated and likable detective as he risks his career trying to find the missing toddler.

The story moves along at a compelling pace and you have to pay attention to the little details that might turn up later. You’ll wonder if there are any big revelations or twists as the story unravels, but you’ll have to read it for yourself to find out what’s really going on.

I would recommend to thriller lovers.

4 stars

Audio extra – I loved the end of the audio book where the author, Fiona Barton and the narrator, Clare Corbett chat about writing and audio books. Brilliant added extra.

#bookreview Magic-scars: Crown of Stones – bk 2 by @cl_schneider #fantasy #tuesdaybookblog

This is the second book in the Crown of Stones trilogy.  I have been looking forward to reading this ever since devouring book one last year. I wasn’t disappointed!

As with book one, the cover is fantastic.

magic scars

Here’s the blurb from Amazon…

Magic doesn’t wound the same as a sword.

The story of Ian Troy continues in Magic-Scars, the second installment in C. L. Schneider’s riveting epic fantasy trilogy, The Crown of Stones.

Captured by his old enemy, King Draken of Langor, Shinree magic user Ian Troy was sentenced to prison. Tortured and drugged, robbed of his will, his memories, and his magic, Ian was made to do unspeakable things. Rescued, as his body slowly rids itself of the drug, Ian realizes he has returned to an unfamiliar world gripped with fear. In the wake of his fall, those he cared for were left to their own grim fates. Draken has seized control of the realms and named himself High King. His brutal rein has sparked a desperate rebellion that Ian now finds himself a part of. His one task: recover and repair the Crown of Stones, in hopes it will tip the balance in the revolution that is brewing. In pursuit of the reason behind the artifact’s strange loss of magic, Ian is driven to release an explosion of retribution and power that leaves him irrevocably scarred.

Struggling to reconcile the man he has become with the man he once was, Ian strives to understand the growing number of magic-scars adorning his body. He searches for the truth behind his link to the Crown of Stones and uncovers shocking secrets buried for generations beneath the sand. To become the weapon the resistance needs, he must assume responsibility for his magical inheritance. But can he curb the destructive appetite that comes with it?

The price of Ian’s magic and his addiction have never been higher.

 

My super short review.

I love these books. They are filled with nonstop action, murder, blood, sex and plenty of swearing. It’s all a part of the wonderful world C.L Schneider has created.

I loved the start and how the reader is as much in the dark as the main character as to how he woke up onboard a ship. Ian has no memory of who he is or who he can trust, and his instincts tell him something is very wrong with his predicament.

In this book we learn more of the history of the Shinree and Eldrings, of the magic that Ian Troy is trying to control and the creation of the Crown of Stone. There is so much depth to the world building, but you’re never bogged down with details. It’s a compelling read right from the start.

5 stars all the way.

I recommend to fantasy lovers who aren’t afraid of a bit of graphic detail.

I’m so happy book 3 is already sitting on my kindle waiting for me.

See my review of Book 1 – Magic-price here, which was my favourite fantasy read of 2016.

#Tuesdaybookblog The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman #bookreview

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

18038911

Blurb

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac – as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly’s wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark – from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman.

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers b THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac – as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly’s wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark – from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman.

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond this world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed – within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.

His only defence is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

My Review

A guy from my book group recommended this. It’s the first Neil Gaiman I’ve read, so I had no idea what to expect.

I was instantly drawn into the story of a man revisiting his past and unlocking hidden/repressed memories. I love mysteries and this definitely has that element, I just had to keep reading to find out what happened all those years ago.

I did spend half the time wondering how reliable the 7-year-old narrator would turn out to be, and if I should take the story at face value or look for the deeper meaning behind the tale. Instead, my advice is to sit back and read this for what it is – a great fairy tale.

The writing is excellent. There’s a strangeness to the story and I was completely absorbed by it.

It’s a short novel, but I’d say it’s the perfect length.

I rate it 5 stars and recommend to those who enjoy modern fantasy and fairy tales.

#Bookreview The Sapphire Legend Part II E.L Tenebaum #fantasy

The Sapphire Legend Part II by E.L. Tenenbaum

Isn’t this a striking cover…

28388248

I loved The Sapphire Legend Part I when I reviewed it for Rosie’s Book Review Team (#RBRT) last year, and I bought Part II as soon as I finished reading it. Before I get to my review, here’s the Blurb from Goodreads.

Blurb

It’s been months since the destruction of Sapere’s village forced the survivors to flee into the Wild, where her secret was discovered and her Council struggles to keep the remains of her tribe alive. Surviving the attack, the flood, the Wild itself is proof that they have grown stronger as a people. Even in their new campsite they feel safe and comfortable… too comfortable.

Certain they must find the last of the Oro tribes and warn them about the impending Pliz danger before it’s too late, Sapere and Venatore take to scouring the Wild for the Great Blue Waters. Finding them, however, may not be the end of their trials, but only the beginning. For Sapere, this means facing antagonism toward her gift and her position on Council, an unprecedented break from tradition that their sister tribe won’t accept. For the rest of the tribe, this means adjusting to a new way of life with values and traditions very different from their current, and even former, one.

But something else is bothering Sapere, as she soon wonders if leaving the familiarity of the Wild leads to more harm than good. Should the survivors seek refuge with their sister tribe if they’ll arrive just in time for war? What if those who lived through the first attack don’t survive the second?

My Review

I really enjoyed continuing the story of Sapere and her friends. I find the gifts the characters have fascinating, and their tribal way of life continually draws me into the story. In the second book, relationship deepen and strengthen and Sapere’s skills develop as she meets more gifted individuals amongst their sister tribe, the Oro. However, while everyone seems happy to integrate, Sapere is certain all is not as it seems. Plus there is the ever present threat of the Pliz hanging over them.

My favourite characters remain Sapere, Rio and Venatore, but new characters join the ranks including Pardo and Felin. Felin is an Elder from book 1, but he really shines in book 2.

I only have two small issues; the reflections of what had happened in book one were a little overdone for me (although they did remind me of scenes I’d really enjoyed and forgotten), also the climatic event could have carried on longer.

There were moments of happiness and sadness, and at times I felt emotional reading this book (not the easiest thing to hide on a plane full of people!). I was so sad when I finished reading and realised it was only a duology. I really hope more instalments will follow, as I’d love to catch up with Sapere and her growing group of friends and see what the future holds for them.

My rating 4.5 stars – rounding up to 5 for Amazon and Goodreads.

Note to all – You should definitely read Part I before reading this book. Here’s my review of The Sapphire Legend Part I. Part I also featured on my favourite books of 2016.

#Bookreview IREX by Carl Rackman #RBRT #Historical #mystery

I am reviewing IREX by Carl Rackman for Rosie’s book review team. I received a copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Rosie's Book Review team 1

 

Blurb

In the harsh winter of December 1889, the sailing vessel Irex leaves Scotland bound for Rio de Janeiro. She carries three thousand tons of pig iron and just three passengers for what should be a routine voyage. But Captain Will Hutton discovers that one of his passengers hides a horrifying secret. As his conflicting feelings toward his passengers threaten both his authority and even his sanity, he realises he must fight to save his ship.

When the Irex is wrecked off the Isle of Wight six weeks later, it falls to the county coroner, Frederick Blake, to begin to unravel the events that overtook the doomed ship — but he soon finds that powerful forces within the British Establishment are working to thwart him. Locked in a race against time and the sinister agents sent to impede him, he gradually discovers that nothing aboard the Irex is what it first seemed…

Irex is an atmospheric mystery, set in a rich Victorian world, packed with intrigue, twists and colourful characters — the spellbinding first novel by Carl Rackman.

51gv4vgjy-L._AC_US218_[1]

My Review

What a book!

I liked the writing instantly and was intrigued by the whole premise of the story. It did start a little slow and there was a lot of description throughout the book, but it was fascinating being transported back in time to the Victorian era on the Isle of Wight and aboard the Irex as it attempted to sail to Rio.

There were twists I wasn’t expecting that dragged me deeper into the story and the book was written in a way that compelled you to read on. It switched in time to before the shipwreck with Captain Hutton on the Irex, and afterwards at the inquest to find out what happened to the ship and its occupants.

I love a mystery and this book sets the reader up with plenty of intrigue. It’s very cleverly written, with lots of atmospheric description and great characters. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but the two main contenders are Captain Hutton, and the coroner Mr Blake. All the characters are well drawn and believable and I am sad to have finished reading about them.

I highly recommend IREX to those who enjoy historical fiction with plenty of murder and mystery thrown in. And if, like me, you don’t normally read this kind of book, I think you will come to realise what you’ve been missing out on!

My rating 4.5 stars – happily rounding up to 5 stars for Amazon / Goodreads.

***

On a personal note – This will be my last review for Rosie’s Book Review Team. I’ve enjoyed the experience immensely and have discovered some wonderful new authors, as well as connecting with many friendly and helpful bloggers along the way. For the next few months I’m dedicating myself to my own writing, but I’ll still try to share reviews of exceptional books I come across.

Now I urge you to go out and buy a copy of IREX, it really is a great read!

#TuesdayBookBlog #Audio #bookreview Sisters and Lies – Bernice Barrington #thriller

An audio review of Sisters and Lies by Bernice Barrington.

Narrated by Caroline Lennon and Marcella Riordan.

51hNIatPbeL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_[1]

Blurb

One hot August night, Rachel Power gets the call everyone fears. It’s the police. Her younger sister Evie’s had a car crash, she’s in a coma. Can Rachel fly to London right away? With Evie injured and comatose, Rachel is left to pick up the pieces of her sister’s life. But it’s hard fitting them together, especially when she really doesn’t like what she sees. Why was Evie driving when she doesn’t even own a licence? Who is the man living in her flat and claiming Evie is his girlfriend? How come she has never heard of him? The more mysteries Rachel uncovers the more she starts asking herself how well she ever really knew her sister. And then she begins to wonder if the crash was really the accident everybody says it is. Back in hospital, Evie, trapped inside an unresponsive body, is desperately trying to wake up. Because she’s got an urgent message for Rachel – a warning which could just save both their lives . . .

My Review

The story starts with a seemingly simple situation – Rachel’s sister Evie is in a coma after a car crash.

It’s soon clear that Evie’s life is not as simple as Rachel’s believes and the mysteries soon begin to add up, some of them linked to their past. It’s a real page-turner, or avid listen in my case.

I really enjoyed the audio version of this book. The two narrators voices are so distinctive, I can still hear them in my head now. I really miss their accents and the story itself was one I could have listened to for much longer.

The plot built up steadily and I enjoyed switching between Rachel in the now of the story as she investigates her sister’s accident, and Evie in her coma and how she re-lives the events building up to the moment she remembers how she got into the car accident.

I highly recommend Sisters and Lies to thriller addicts like me.

4 stars

#TuesdayBookBlog H is for Hawk by Helen Mcdonald #bookreview

H is for Hawk by Helen Mcdonald is a very difficult book for me to review. I loved the parts with the Goshawk, Mable, and although the whole book was beautifully written, I just struggled to get into it. Before I continue, here’s the blurb from Amazon.

Blurb

THE NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER

**WINNER OF THE COSTA BOOK OF THE YEAR**

**WINNER OF THE SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION**

**WINNER OF THE PRIX DU MEILLEUR LIVRE ÉTRANGER**

As a child, Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer, learning the arcane terminology and reading all the classic books. Years later, when her father died and she was struck deeply by grief, she became obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk. She bought Mabel for £800 on a Scottish quayside and took her home to Cambridge, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this wildest of animals.

H is for Hawk is an unflinchingly honest account of Macdonald’s struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk’s taming and her own untaming. This is a book about memory, nature and nation, and how it might be possible to reconcile death with life and love.

My Review

51OaSTTvbyL._AC_US218_[1]

I really like the cover. It’s not too fancy, but it’s bold and the Hawk certainly draws the eye.

As I said above, this is a beautifully written book and I cannot fault the author for her skills at conveying place, and also her honesty about the grief she struggled to deal with after her father’s sudden death.

I love birds of prey (I’m even treating myself to a falconry day for my birthday this year), and these were the passages of the book that really stood out for me. I was enthralled and intrigued by the whole process of trying to tame a Goshawk.

However, it took me about 3 months to read the book because half of it was more of a study of T. H. White and his experiences of life and trying to train his own Goshawk – Gos. To me some of the book read more like an essay or biography. Again, it was well written, but not for me.

I’m sure H is for Hawk will appeal to those who enjoy a more literary read, whilst I’m happy sticking with my genre fiction.

I don’t feel it fair to give this book a star rating as my views on it are so conflicting. But if it had just been about the Goshawk, it would have easily been 4 star.

If you have read it, let me know what you thoughts.

#Tuesdaybookblog #bookreview Eléonore by @Faith_theRivens #urbanfantasy

Eléonore by Faith Rivens is an action packed 178 page novella. It’s an urban fantasy with demons and a kickass heroine. How cool does she look in this brilliant book cover…

419f6ia2mol-_sx311_bo1204203200_1

I finished this late last night and have to say I was so disappointed because I wanted more!!!!

Before I go on about the book anymore, here’s the…

Blurb.

Eléonore Dormant’s life is a precarious balancing act: librarian by day, demon hunter by night and single mother around the clock. Each day brings its challenges and she brings her A-game. It helps that coffee and a bottle of painkillers are always in supply. For six years, she’s protected the streets of Montreal from all manner of demons and the consequent evil that they would wreak on her city. But even a resumé like hers isn’t enough to prepare her for the unforeseen night when she becomes the hunted. A sorcerer, an enigmatic Elder, has placed a hefty bounty on her head and the demons are eager to claim the reward for her capture. They bear down on her, disrupting her mode de vie and endangering her son’s life all in one fell swoop. But Eléonore is ready to fight whatever Hell deigns to send her way to save him. The path she pursues will lead her to new places and old faces. One thing is certain, Eléonore’s about to get into a whole hellhole of trouble.

My Review

I haven’t read Urban fantasy before, and now I realise I’ve been missing out.

The story flies along as one night Eléonore finds herself hunted by the demons she is usually so adept at killing. With a bounty on her head and her son’s life in danger, the tension really mounts with each chapter.

I really like the relationship between Eléonore and her friend Rosalie, and the love she feels for her son is well portrayed. My personal favourite though is the mysterious Raphael.

The feeling of place in this book is also perfectly written – Montreal comes alive and I’m not surprised to learn this is the authors hometown.

My only complaint – When’s the next book?

And on a smaller note – the word ‘hellhole’ turned up a bit too much for my liking. But when fighting demons, what better word is there!

I recommend this book to those who like fantasy and demon hunting action. And if you haven’t tried Urban fantasy before, give this one a shot. I’m sure you won’t regret it.

I rate this 5 stars.

#RBRT #Bookreview Self Serve Murder D E Haggerty #CosyMystery

I’m reviewing Self Serve Murder by D E Haggerty as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Blurb

Book 3 in the Death by Cupcake series. Can be read as a standalone.

Kristie is kind with a capital K, so it’s quite the surprise when she wakes up next to a dead man with no recollection of the previous night. Even worse? She’s naked. Kristie may be a sweetheart out to save the world, but sticking her nose into an investigation of rapes across campus makes her the target of a murderer. Before she knows it, Kristie is smack dab in the middle of a murder investigation with her colleagues Callie and Anna. If that’s not enough to drive a sane person up the wall, a friend has decided he’s going to keep her safe whether she wants him to or not. And, oh yeah, he’s her man and that’s that.

Come join us at Callie’s Cakes, where murder investigations are on the menu. You are most welcome, but you may need to serve yourself as our barista Kristie is busy trying to save the world.

Warning: Although there are plenty of moments that will make you shake your head and laugh at the antics of the ladies of Callie’s Cakes, the subject matter – rape on college campuses – is very real and somewhat darker than your usual cozy mystery.

My Review

First of all I love the colour of the cover! I like the design as well.

51miw-bfmal

I had no idea what to expect with this book as I’ve never read a cosy mystery before (watched plenty of TV shows though). It was clear from the start that this was not a serious mystery book, and once this is established it’s easy to sit back and enjoy the escape from reality.

I hadn’t read the previous two books in the series, but wasn’t worried as it stated this could be read as a standalone. The crime itself was resolved in this book, but because the characters are so settled in their world and relationships well established, I found myself wishing I had read the previous books first.

The constant reference to coffee was clever and inventive, but at times when the situations were more serious I found it distracting.

I thought I’d guessed the culprit early on, but a few red herrings along the way had me second guessing myself.

My only hang-up with this novel was the way the men treated ‘their’ women. The men were very bossy and macho all the time. I also found the way Kristie’s love interest literally forced his way into her life while she did little to stop it, very unrealistic.

Apart from that it was a fun, easy read and should appeal to people who enjoy cosy mysteries like Agatha Raisin, Murder She Wrote and Rosemary and Thyme (opinion based on tv viewing).

Note – I reviewed an ebook copy supplied by the author in exchange for an honest review.

I rate this book 3.5 stars (for the purposes of Amazon and goodreads I prefer to round it up to 4 stars).

Check it out on Goodreads

#Audio #bookreview Behind Closed Doors – B A Paris #thriller

Audio book review of Behind Closed Doors by B A Paris

Narrated by Georgia Maguire

51gc309h-l-_sx317_bo1204203200_

Blurb

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.

You’d like to get to know Grace better.

But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.

Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.

Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie.

My Review

I don’t have much to say about this book except your HAVE to read it!

It was a totally addictive read / listen. I loved the story and the author achieved something that doesn’t normally happen when I read thrillers – I cared for the characters. I couldn’t help but feel for Grace in her impossible situation and hoped desperately that she would find a way out of the horror her life had become.

Switching between past and present, the story that unfolds is mesmerising and shows true evil at work. It would make a fantastic film.

The narration was perfect. And I can’t fault the plot. This book is a must for all thriller readers.

5 Big Fat Scary Stars