Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Book Review: Dead Man Walking by Paul Finch (Mark Heckenburg Series)

My Rating: 4/5

Availability: Paperback & Kindle (20.11.14), Kobo (20.11.14), Nook (20.11.14)

Synopsis: Beware the stranger in the night…

Consigned to a remote valley in the Lake District, DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg is getting used to a quieter life – a far cry from the bloodbath of his former division, the Serial Crimes Unit. But wherever Heck goes, trouble is never far behind.

Unknown to Heck, ‘The Stranger’ has returned. Last seen on Dartmoor ten years earlier, this prolific serial killer has found a new home. As a dense, frozen mist descends on the Lakes, The Stranger returns to his old ways, starting with two young women lost high on the hills. Only one girl is ever found – barely alive – but able to confirm Heck’s worst fears.
As The Stranger lays siege to the remote community, Heck helplessly watches as the killer plays his cruel game, letting off his trademark call before viciously picking off his victims.
And with no way to get word out of the valley, Heck has no choice but to play ball…
Lock your doors and bar your windows. Because when the mist descends, you never know who’s watching you…

**Please note, if you plan to read the Heck Books in order, then don’t read this review as it will inevitably contain spoilers**

My Review: I was feeling rather lucky as I got started on the new Heck more than 2 months before publication, however after a few chapters I put it down. What was going on? Heck had relocated to the arse end of nowhere and frankly I was bored. I felt like I had so much description with regards to the area of Cragwood Vale and the local villagers I wondered if the book was even written by Finch! However, it appears Mr Finch had his reasons for this, and as usual they were absolutely correct...more on that later!

Heck seems to be on some sort of mission to extract himself from his friends and colleagues so has taken himself to a very remote village in the Lake District. You almost get the feeling that Heck doesn’t quite know what to do with himself. He has now distanced himself from his old boss Gemma Piper and other colleagues and instead has a new partner Mary-Ellen O’Rourke. There is also the landlady of the local village pub Hazel as well as some other locals who start to make an appearance.

The prologue was an insight into an old case where a killer known as The Stranger appears and it involved Gemma Piper back when she was starting out her career. Before long we realise that there is a killer on the loose who seems remarkably like The Stranger and it gives Heck enough leverage place a to call to Gemma. I was thankful; she re-appeared as I felt like Heck needed her back in his life as he seemed so off kilter.

As usual with a Finch novel, as soon as Gemma re-appears the story starts to ratchet up in tension. With two young girls out hiking and lost, anything could have happened. As soon as Heck, Gemma and Mary-Ellen start to investigate it seems like all hell breaks loose. The second half of the book is where all the action happens and if you heart can take it the last quarter is positively heart stopping.

Depending on the type of reader you are, if you are like me and absorb everything your mind creates your own idea of a place based on the author’s description. This is where it all started to make sense. Paul Finch had spent some time detailing the area and the sheer beauty of it. However throw in some bad weather and you have the perfect setting (in my head) for a fantastic horror movie. Because of this, the last section of the book had me bloody petrified as we see Heck do his usual ‘playing with death’.

I was really unsure at the start of this book, however after the halfway point I didn’t want to put it down and had to keep reading. It was also a book that had my nerves shot to hell! I thoroughly enjoyed it, but sincerely hope we see Heck move away from this area as I don’t think it suits him. This latest book had a different feel to it compared to the others, but certainly didn’t make it any less enjoyable. As always I am left waiting with baited breath to see what is next for Heck and cannot wait!



Recognising publishing success at an international level

Has your publishing company excelled this year?
Do you know of an individual or company who ought to be celebrated on an international stage?

NEWS FOR RELEASE, LONDON/FRANKFURT, 8 October 2014: The London Book Fair (LBF), in association with The UK Publishers Association (The PA), is delighted to announce that submissions are now open for the LBF International Excellence Awards 2015.

Entries for the awards need to be registered online via the LBF website by 9 January 2015.

After a hugely successful launch in 2014, with winners from as far afield as Malaysia (Fixi), Denmark (Anneli Hoier), Australia (Penguin) and the US (Skybound), the LBF International Excellence Awards are back for the second year.

Jacks Thomas, Director of The London Book Fair said:
‘We were really delighted with the warm reception that the first awards received this year – what could be nicer than showcasing successes from all round the publishing world. Just reading the shortlist certainly gives us all a snapshot of the innovation, expertise and passion that makes up our industry from Malawi to Malaysia, Beirut to Belarus and all points in between!  The awards span all industry categories, underpinning our commitment to creators whether they instil a love of books from childhood, develop educational reading schemes or simply offer a lifetime of reading for pleasure that is the bedrock of this great industry – an industry that well deserves recognition and awards!’

Richard Mollet, Chief Executive of The Publishers Association, said:
“We are delighted to see the International Excellence Awards instilled as an annual fixture of London Book Fair after their successful inauguration last year.  The publishing industry has an incredible global footprint and these awards provide the ideal opportunity to showcase great initiatives from our colleagues around the world.”

The Awards are the UK’s recognition of international publishing industry excellence and have been designed to celebrate achievement across the whole business of publishing. 10 categories are open to international companies outside the UK only. However UK organisations are eligible for 4 awards (indicated by (*) below):

v  The London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award (*)
v  The Publishers Association Copyright Protection Award
v  The International Academic and Professional Publisher Award
v  The International Education Initiatives Award
v  The International Educational Learning Resources Award
v  The Bookseller International Adult Trade Publisher Award
v  The International Trade Children’s and Young Adult Publisher Award 
v  International Literary Translation Initiative Award
v  The Award for best use of IP across Multiple Media Platforms
v  The Publishers Weekly  International Book Industry Technology Supplier Award
v  The Publishing for Digital Minds Innovation Award (*)
v  The International Literary Agent Award (*)
v  The Market Focus Achievement Award (*)
v  Mexico Market Focus Award for Outstanding Contribution

Nominations and submissions are sought for each category for international companies, organisations and individuals. Entries will be reviewed by panels ofUK judges with relevant expertise in each category.

The shortlist will be announced in February 2015. The LBF International Excellence Awards 2015 winners will be announced at an invitation-only ceremony on Tuesday 14 April 2015, 18.30 in The Conference Centre, London Olympia, London.

To learn more about the Awards and hear from last year’s winner Gita Wolf from Tara Books, Jacks Thomas, The London Book Fair, and Emma House, PA, come to Forum Dialog in Hall 5.0, stand number A122, 1:15pm Thursday 9 October.

Entry forms need to be submitted via by 8 January 2015. Organisations and individuals from the UK are eligible to enter the Awards marked (*). 
Full details on the entry criteria for each award category are below and on the LBF website -

"It's a special thrill to get an award at The London Book Fair because London is the place I cemented my love for books. I'd never been to a city with so many bookshops before that. I look forward to making LBF an annual pilgrimage!"
Amir Muhammad, Buku Fixi, winner of The Bookseller International Adult Trade Publisher Award 2014.

“It's delightful to see the Best Translated Book Award recognised for its contributions to the spread of international literature. I am grateful to the LBF for drawing attention to the prize, whose chief purpose remains to advocate for superlative writing in languages other than English--and the translators who so ingeniously welcome them into it.”
Daniel Medin, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, The American University of Paris on BTBA winning The International Literary Translation Initiative Award 2014.

Tuesday 14 -Thursday 16 April 2015

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Book Review: Bad Blood by Casey Kelleher

My Rating: 5/5

Availability: Paperback, Kindle, Audio (All released 16.12.14)

Synopsis: In the underbelly of Soho’s organised crime ring, everyone knows that retired boxer Harry Woods is not one to mess with. And that goes double for his family.
Harry has it all: the big house, the flashy cars, and an abundance of wealth. As much as money talks in his world, Harry knows deep down the only thing that really counts is family. Haunted by the sudden death of his wife, he’ll do anything to protect his children, but truth is a heavy burden and hidden secrets can unravel even the strongest of bonds...
Without loyalty, family are bound together only by blood. Bad blood.

My Review: Well, well Ms Kelleher, it seems somebody is well and truly stepping up to the plate so to speak:-) Casey Kelleher started off by self-publishing her first three books which if you haven’t read I would highly recommend. I was chuffed when I heard she had signed a book deal with Amazon’s Thomas and Mercer Imprint. I was even more chuffed when the lady herself let me get my hands on an early edition. I have to be honest though, I was nervous. What if her new publishers had suggested changes in writing style or something and I didn’t like it? As a lot of authors know, getting an early edition doesn’t sway my opinion. If I don’t like it, I don’t like it and will say so. However, Casey has stuck two fingers up at me by writing a blinding book that I couldn’t put down. Clearly now she is a published author she feels she has to up her game, and up her game she did.

I have to admit when I started the book I wasn’t that engaged and it took 3 or 4 chapters to get into it. However, once past that point it just got better and better. Harry Woods is a bit of a face along with his right hand man Raymond. Harry’s children are his life and as adults now they all feature heavily in this book. Sadly, this review is very hard to write as if I put too much content in, it will spoil the storyline. Part of the attraction of this book was that there were characters I wasn’t sure about. Why were they in the book, and what part did they play. Thankfully all is revealed as the story progresses. Each time I thought I’d heard it all, another secret is revealed. One particular character Casey managed to write about got right under my skin and that was Christopher. Without revealing too much, she managed to create a one man monster and the writing conveyed that pretty well. I also liked that in addition to the main storyline, there was a less obvious thread that’s revealed even more toward the end. 

I’ve read all of Casey’s books and always thought they were brilliant, albeit one has never grabbed me enough to give it full marks. This one certainly did that and it seems Casey is firmly embedding herself in the list of ‘must read’ female British Crime Authors. Many of her readers follow her on Facebook, and Twitter and in a weird way we are all rooting for the likes of Casey to get herself on the platform of recognised authors. It’s great to see British female authors finally get the book deals they deserve, and (without sounding ridiculous) I feel very proud of you Ms Kelleher! CAN’T WAIT for the next book! Your fans will be very pleased

P.S Thomas and Mercer, you would be VERY silly to let this lady go! 

Monday, 20 October 2014

Book Review: Vendetta by Dreda Say Mitchell

My Rating: 4/5

Availability: Paperback, Kindle, (06.11.14)

Synopsis: Two murders. Two different crime scenes. One killer?

Mac wakes in a smashed-up hotel room with no recollection of what has happened. With his lover's corpse in the bathroom and the evidence suggesting that he killed her, Mac is on a mission to uncover the truth and find the real killer.

But he's in a race against time with less than a day to unravel the mystery. Still reeling from a personal tragedy Mac isn't afraid of pain. Hot on his heels is tenacious Detective Inspector Rio Wray. Double-crossed and in the line of fire, Mac has to swim through a sea of lies to get to the truth.

But only Mac knows he's been living a double life. Can he be sure he doesn't have the blood of a dead woman on his hands?

My Review: For those that have read Dreda’s previous book such as Gangster Girl, don’t expect more of the same. It seems that Dreda has taken a bit of a turn away from that type of story and has instead immersed herself in a somewhat twisted but gripping type of book. The synopsis kind of speaks for itself in the first line alone. Mac wakes in a hotel room covered in blood and his girlfriend dead in the bath. I liked Mac, although from the very beginning wasn’t too sure what to make of his situation. There are more twists that a French plait and I spent my whole time from start to finish suspecting every person featured in the book.

The pace is ratcheted up to maximum level and from the first page right to the very last one I had that breathless feeling where things are just happening way too quickly…and somebody was always close behind! D.I Rio Wray makes her appearance as a very ballsy character and I would actually love to see her in future books as she made such an impact. Mac although enjoyable to read, took me longer to actually like (but when you read it you will see why).

This style of writing is a cross between a really fast paced Kernick and a real ‘who-dunnit’. There was something refreshing reading something from an author who has slightly changed tack. In addition to Mac being well and truly up the creek and without a paddle, the story is layered back slowly and his history becomes more apparent. Now normally this would help the reader come to a conclusion about things. Oh no, not in this book…it just added more suspicion to every character. My husband actually commented that he had never know me read a book where I had boldly stated “I know who it is” so many times!!!!

At first I was unsure how I felt about the change in direction for Dreda Say-Mitchel, but having read Vendetta I can honestly say I think she has once again done an amazing job. Now if I’m being brutally honest (when am I anything but?), some of her fans may not be quite so keen on this change. Maybe people will think she should have carried on her books from previously? Each to their own is what I say, but I am an avid crime reader (right across the board) and sometimes a change is as good as a rest. I only had minor criticisms (and they really were minor) such as one or two occasions I remember thinking “no way could that have happened” but that aside I really enjoyed this latest outing and cannot wait to see what she has in store for us next!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

New Release: Dreda Say Mitchell new release due 6th November 2014

Publication date: 6th November 2014 
Hodder Paperback Original, £6.99 
Also available as an eBook 

‘Breathless from the first word and thrilling to the last’ LEE CHILD
‘Wonderful, vivid writing and a truly original voice’ PETER JAMES
The blistering new novel from award-winning crime writer Dreda Say Mitchell, 
and the first in a new series of thrillers set in the murky world of undercover police officers 

Two murders. Two different crime scenes. One killer? Mac wakes in a smashed up hotel room with no recollection of what has happened. With his lover’s corpse in the bathroom and the evidence suggesting that he killed her, Mac is on a mission to uncover the truth and find the real killer. 

But he’s in a race against time with less than a day to unravel the mystery. Still reeling from a personal tragedy Mac isn’t afraid of pain. Hot on his heels is tenacious Detective Inspector Rio Wray. Double-crossed and in the line of fire, Mac has to swim through a 
sea of lies to get to the truth. 

But only Mac knows he’s been living a double life. Can he be sure he doesn’t have the blood of a dead woman on his hands? 

Vendetta is the exhilarating new novel from award-winning crime novelist Dreda Say Mitchell, and marks a new direction in her writing as she tackles a race-against-time thriller. Yet the acclaimed trademarks of Dreda’s writing remain – pacey plotting, gritty urban settings and utterly engrossing characters. 

Dreda Say Mitchell on Vendetta 
The world of the undercover cop, the informer or the double agent is very similar to that of the cheating spouse. A web of deceit is spun, boundaries are blurred and there’s so much lying and faking going on that in the end, the role-player may not even know what the truth is themselves anymore. This may have terrible consequences for those who have to play this role in real life as recent news stories have shown. But for the thriller writer, it’s the ideal scenario to place a hero in. Whose side are they really on? Where do they draw the line? How far are they willing to go and what’s left of their own character and integrity when they’re finished? But for John ‘Mac’ MacDonagh, the ill-starred hero of my new novel Vendetta, these issues are among the least of his problems… 

Praise for Dreda Say Mitchell’s previous novels: 
 ‘A sharply observed, incisive and moving story’ Guardian
 ‘Brilliant – a gripping rollercoaster for the reader’ Independent
‘The narrative throbs with energy and has a refreshing directness’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Awesome tale from a talented writer’ Sun 

Book Review: Race to Death by Leigh Russell (Ian Peterson Series)

My Rating: 4/5

Availability: Paperback, Kindle, Kobo and Nook

Synopsis: When a man plummets to his death from a balcony at York races, his wife and brother become suspects in a murder enquiry. Meanwhile Richard is being stalked by a killer issuing death threats. Richard is reluctant to go to the police, for fear his own dark secret will be exposed. Newly promoted Detective Inspector Ian Peterson is investigating the death at the races when a woman's body is discovered. Shortly after that, Richard is killed. With three murders and no suspect, the investigation seems to be going backwards. Ian is determined to discover who is responsible. Afraid the detective is on his track, the killer abducts Ian's wife. Ian must solve the case to find her, before she becomes the next victim of a serial killer.

My Review: I was unsure about the rating of this and felt it was only fair to give it a 4 (although I considered a 3 as there were things I disliked immensely). The Geraldine Steel series that Russell writes took its time to really come into its own and now as the 7th book approaches (next year I guess) it’s a brilliant series.  I feel like it’s the same with this new Ian Peterson series. It’s a slow burner but have a feeling once we are 3 or 4 books in it will come into its own. It always difficult to split a series but Leigh Russell has managed to do that and Ian Peterson (who used to work for Geraldine Steel) now has his own series. This second book in the series starts off re-introducing the readers to Ian and his wife Bev. They have relocated to York due to Peterson getting promoted to D.I. 

I’m going to start with the negatives, and yes I know I gave it 4 out of 5 but there were still things I didn’t like. First off, what is with Ian’s wife? I have never liked her, but for some reason she became even more irritating in this book. There is absolutely nothing to like about the woman and she grated on me from start to finish. Secondly, the book was a little bit slow in places and took some time to get going. I also feel like Ian is almost a novice at policing, which is odd because when he was working for Geraldine he was an amazing copper. Maybe this is him showing his lack of confidence, who knows.

Aside from those niggles the story kept me entertained as soon as it picked up its pace. The murders are plentiful starting with a guy at the races, and then it all seems to go downhill from there. I was a bit bewildered at the relationship with the widow of the first murder victim and the brother. There seemed so much potential and then it seemed to just disappear. We also see a man named Richard on the receiving end of some nasty threats from a stalker.  

I certainly didn’t see the ending coming and was surprised at the turn of events. The second half of the book was much better and it seemed Leigh Russell got into her stride very quickly after that. Overall an enjoyable book but I’m looking forward to the next one much more.

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