Friday, 21 November 2014

Book Review: Eeny Meeny by M J Aldridge (DI Helen Grace Series)

My Rating: 4/5

Availability: Paperback, Kindle and Kobo

Synopsis: The girl emerged from the woods, barely alive. Her story was beyond belief. But it was true. Every dreadful word of it.

Days later, another desperate escapee is found - and a pattern is emerging. Pairs of victims are being abducted, imprisoned then faced with a terrible choice: kill or be killed.
Would you rather lose your life or lose your mind?

Detective Inspector Helen Grace has faced down her own demons on her rise to the top. As she leads the investigation to hunt down this unseen monster, she learns that it may be the survivors - living calling cards - who hold the key to the case.

And unless she succeeds, more innocents will die . . .

My Review: Another book, another series, I just love it. A couple of my followers kept mentioning M J Aldridge and I relented and brought another book to add to the ever increasing to read pile. I’m very glad that I did as I read this and loved it. DI Helen Grace is a great character with some serious issues. These are highlighted from the start and it made me more intrigued about her. In addition to Helen we meet her two colleagues Mark and Charlie. Mark has his own issued and Helen does everything she can to keep him on the straight and narrow. Meanwhile Charlie is just trying to find her feet and prove herself to her boss Helen. All three characters were really engaging and highly enjoyable to read about.

The storyline was extremely catchy with murder victims being taken in pairs and left to die alone, hungry and scared. Their only choice is kill or be killed. The body count is high and it seems that there is more to this plot line than first meets the eye. Helen Grace seems to be very much at the front and centre and slowly more and more layers of Helens life are revealed leading to many question in my own head, as well as wondering who on earth would want to do that to her.

The violence is pretty graphic and ramped up with the complications between the three colleagues I was hooked from the start. Although Helen was readable there were still a few unanswered questions about her even at the end of the book. Having said that, for a debut novel it was a cracking read and I have already gone on to start book 2. I think this is a series which will definitely get better and better and the author clearly likes to reveal titbits rather than fling all the character info in within the first book. A definite recommendation from me and I can’t wait to get started on book 2!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Book Review: The Case of the Black Pearl by Lin Anderson

My Rating: 4/5

Availability: Paperback, Kindle, Kobo and Nook

Synopsis: Introducing glamorous private investigator Patrick de Courvoisier in this stylish new mystery series.

Content to leave his controversial past behind him and enjoy a more relaxed, hedonistic lifestyle on a converted houseboat in the glamorous French resort of Cannes, enigmatic 
Englishman Patrick de Courvoisier is known as ‘Le Limier’ or ‘Fixer’. People come to him with their problems – and he fixes them.

However, when Camille Ager asks Patrick to find her sister, Angele Valette, star of the new movie The Black Pearl, Patrick’s laidback lifestyle is dealt a terminal blow. Last seen at the film’s lavish launch party on board the luxurious black yacht owned by Russian oligarch Vasily Chapayev, the funds behind the movie and owner of the famous black pearl, Angele seems to have vanished into thin air – and so has the pearl.

As Patrick questions all those involved with the movie, he discovers that this is a case where nothing is as it seems. 

Review: Patrick de Courvoisier is an Englishman living and working in Cannes in the South of France. His skillset is somewhat sketchy in the beginning but as the Cannes Film Festival gets under way; his services are very soon called upon. A young actress Angele Valette who is the lead in the new film has gone missing, along with the elusive Black Pearl. Patrick’s past is quite a mystery and as he undertakes the search it seems he has contacts all over the place. Patrick most definitely is a Bond type of character that much is certain. 

Although Patrick takes chances with the case they don’t always pay off and he frequently finds himself on the wrong end of the trouble. The storyline is much more in the mystery genre but it certainly held my interest and by the last quarter of the book I knew I wanted to read more about Patrick (and his dog Oscar!). Having said that, I still felt there was something missing and maybe this is the lack of knowledge the reader has about him as a character. 

I think this is a great start to a series and certainly full of intrigue and mystery. I will certainly be looking out for the second book but hope that we find out more about Patrick in the second instalment.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Author Interview: Dreda Say Mitchell

I am lucky! I work for a living but my hobby has somewhat blossomed in the last few years and it means I get to do things like this! Interview the lovely Dreda Say Mitchell. If you have never heard of her then I suggest you look her up immediately…IF NOT SOONER. She seems to be in a lot of places doing a lot of things. She is a Writer, a Broadcaster, a journalist AND an education adviser (when on earth does this woman sleep!). On the writing side she released Running Hot which was the start of a (sort of series), and since then released another 4 and trust me when I say they are ALL amazing! However, her last release Hit Girls was released in 2011 and now I am getting itchy feet. Luckily for her fans she has a new book out Vendetta!

Q1) So Dreda, the new book sounds amazing. Tell us a little bit more about it.
I’m thrilled you enjoyed Vendetta!! It’s a race against the clock thriller about Mac who wakes up in a blood splattered hotel room. Mac remembers entering the room…and then nothing…he can’t remember what happened next. He finds the dead and faceless body of his lover in the bathroom; and it’s his gun on the floor near her body. Mac’s in trouble with a capital T because he’s an undercover cop and his lover was a member of the gang he infiltrated. But he took a vow to look after her so he has less than 24 hours to find out who brutally murdered her. Mac is an undercover cop caught, (as they often are), in that no man’s land between the law and crime. I’ve been a little lucky in that it’s being published a couple of weeks after real-life undercover cop Bob Lambert hit the headlines again. As it’s the start of a new series, I’ve introduced a number of new characters, including feisty and ambitious policewoman DI Rio Wray, who will be appearing in greater or lesser roles in the future. 

Q2) How do you come up with the ideas for a book?
There are stories everywhere! It might be a newspaper article, a conversation overheard at a bus stop, an incident that happened to me or someone else in the distant past or a ‘what if’ moment. Then I try to take that idea, turn it inside out and take it somewhere that Involves drama, excitement and, of course, crime. 

Q3) You sound like a very busy lady, but which of all the jobs you do is your favourite?
Such a hard question because I like ALL of the things I do and feel really lucky to be able to do so many things I enjoy. But working with young people in schools or young offender’s institutions is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Doing something that can make a real difference to people’s lives will always make education and mentoring the most important thing for me.

Q4) As a writer yourself, do you read a lot in your free time (do you actually get any of that?), and if you do what sort of stuff do you read?
There’s no free time for me unless I make it and you have to make free time for yourself. You can’t write unless you read so it’s an important way to use my quiet time. Thrillers and crime are a big favourite obviously but I like to keep up with what’s going on elsewhere. It’s always great to be asked to review something because that gets you into things you might not read otherwise. I was sent Roddy Doyle’s ‘Two Pints’ to review and it’s one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. So many people are - quite rightly - talking about Gillian’s Flynn’s ‘Gone Girl’, but I was blown away by her debut novel ‘Sharp Objects’. Such a creepy, dynamic and beautifully written crime story. Plus I love watching crime dramas and am lucky to review many of them on Front Row on Radio 4. Did you see Breaking Bad? Wow, one of the best crime dramas you will ever see. 

Q5) If you weren’t a writer, Broadcaster or Journalist what do you think you would be doing for a living now?
Teaching definitely. Where would the next generation be without teachers! Education! Education! Education! I know the value of this having grown up on a housing estate in the east end of London. Education gives us freedom and creates many different pathways for our young people and life should be about choices. Hey, I had a real soap moment there, but can’t help it; I get so pash about the life chances of youngsters. 

Q6) It’s been a while since your last release, are you generally nervous when a new book comes out? Or are you like many others authors, having to be focused on the next project?
I don’t think you’d be human if you weren’t a bit nervous when a book comes out because you’re flying blind until the public and critics has their say. In our genre readers are rightly demanding and aren’t easily pleased. You just have to keep your fingers tightly crossed…

I know that you recently met up with the lovely Kimberley Chambers recently so I will ask you the same 3 questions I asked her (evil laugh coming on here)…

Q7) How many times have you Googled your own name!
It depends what happened last time I googled it. If the first site starts ‘Dreda’s the greatest thing since sliced bread’ then quite a lot. If it was ‘Dreda needs to go back to the classroom’ then probably not so much.

Q8) Have you got a secret Celebrity Crush?
Now that would be telling…

Q9) Any regrets?
I don’t do regrets. There’s enough negativity in life. Keep looking forward instead of back.

Q10) Tell us something we don’t know about you?
I was a shot put champion in my teens and represented my area of London at Crystal Palace.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Book Review: A Dark Redemption by Stav Sherez (Carrigan and Miller Series Book 1)

My Rating: 4/5

Availability: Paperback, Kindle, Kobo, Nook

Synopsis: A Dark Redemption introduces DI Jack Carrigan and DS Geneva Miller as they investigate the brutal rape and murder of a young Ugandan student. Plunged into an underworld of illegal immigrant communities, they discover that the murdered girl’s studies at a London college may have threatened to reveal things that some people will go to any lengths to keep secret … 

This case that will force DI Carrigan to face up to his past and DS Miller to confront what path she wants her future to follow. 

My Review: Having not read anything else by Sherez I was looking forward to starting the first in the Carrigan and Miller series. Also knowing that there has only been one follow up to date (Eleven Days published in 2103) I know I’m not too far behind. The pairing of the unlikely two lead characters works extremely well given their backgrounds and personal history. It took me quite a few chapters to really get under the skin of Jack Carrigan but I really liked this weirdly private and quirky bloke. Except as the story progresses you realise that quirkiness is just his defence mechanism to not allow people to delve too close. On the opposite side, Geneva Miller is clawing her way back after a demotion and is finding it hard trying to keep both sides of the fence happy. I warmed to Geneva more than Jack but by the end of the book I couldn’t imagine either of them working with anybody else.

Characters aside the story was quite something. Taking us through war ravaged countries and then being dragged to the present murder that has taken place in London of a young female Ugandan Student. Sherez clearly has the knowledge and maybe experience in managing to write about this subject with such conviction. There were parts that had my stomach turning; but in the back of my mind the brutal reminder that although this is a work of fiction, the history of some of these countries is shockingly real. There are plenty of twists in this complex book and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. This is most certainly a series which I will be continuing and would definitely put it on the recommended list.

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

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