Apr 192016
 

The Obsession Naomi Carson is a survivor. As a child her family was torn apart by a shocking crime. It could have destroyed her, but Naomi has grown up strong, with a passion for photography that has taken her all round the world.

Now she has decided to put down roots…but as Naomi plans for the future, her past is catching up with her. Someone in town knows her terrifying secret – and won’t let her forget it…

This is another great book by Nora Roberts, I was hooked from page one, as 11 year old Naomi follows her father through the woods. The description in those early pages was gripping. The first third of the book focuses on Naomi during adolescence, dealing with the aftermath, while the rest focuses on her putting down roots and trying to come to terms with her past.

As with all books set in a small town there is a great cast of characters and the writing made every single one of them seem believable. This book focuses on the difficulties Naomi faced growing up and her inability to trust others, the actual murder element comes in much later than you would normally expect. I worked out who the killer was pretty much immediately but I think this book is as much about Naomi’s journey and her courage as it is about the suspense.

No Nora Roberts book would be complete without a gorgeous hero and Xander fits the bill no question! I liked the way he didn’t allow Naomi to push him away and called her out when he felt she was doing so. Strong, sexy and supportive. I must give a mention to the dog – Tag. I loved him and he was a hero in his own right.

My only criticism is that the ending felt a bit rushed, but it is still a great book and highly recommended. I have to confess I read it in one sitting – deep into the night.

Nora Roberts is one of my go to authors whatever genre she writes in and under whatever pseudonym. If you haven’t tried her yet you should give her a go!

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Nora Roberts
  • Format: Hardback
  • Publisher: Piatkus
  • Genre: Romantic Suspense
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Feb 292016
 

I was talking about my books the other day with a friend who asked what the point was of keeping a book I have already read. I said to re-read of course to which they asked me why?

Well this made me think a bit, why do I re-read books when I have so many other books still yet to read? For me the answer is twofold, firstly, when a new book in a series comes out it may have been a year since the last one so I will re-read the previous book. If it is a series I love I will read all the books before starting the new one – I am a very quick reader so this does not take as long as it sounds! The second reason is that sometimes I want to read something I know I will love, I might not be in the mood to read something new or be in an odd mood reading wise. For me then sometimes books are like comfort blankets, old friends into which I can escape.

Over the past few months I have re-read a number of series including the JD Robb In Death series, The Wallflowers by Lisa Kleypas, the entire Cynster series by Stephanie Laurens and Gaelen Foleys Knight Miscellany series. Clearly I have been primarily in a historical romance mood!

Ultimately you never know when you will want to re-read a book – with a kindle it is easy as they are always there but there is something wonderful about walking into a room and seeing shelves of books floor to ceiling. I can escape to anywhere I want to in the past, present, future and even to worlds that don’t exist – or do they!

Would love to know what other people do, do you keep books or once read do they go forever?

 

Jan 182016
 

Star Wars The Force Awakens: Before the Awakening: Meet the Heroes of Star Wars The Force Awakens I was really looking forward to the new Star Wars movie, although there was without a doubt some element of fear.  Would it live up to the hype, would it erase the bad taste left by parts of the prequels, would it really deliver everything the nerd in me wanted?  Why you might ask is this relevant to the book and a book review?  Well, like the origin Star Wars movie, the new one assumes you know a bunch of things you have no way of knowing.  It trusts the viewers to fill in the blanks.  For completely new viewers, this is really easy, there’s a resistance, and the New Order, and some other stuff.  However, for people who saw the original, it raises a few questions.  What happens after Return of the Jedi to give rise to these new groups, is a good example of one question you might find yourself asking.  There are others, but they may spoil the film or the book so I won’t mention them.

If you look on the ‘net you’ll find people asking a lot of these questions, and for some people it has reduced the enjoyment of the film.  There is a solution, and this book is it.

Before the Awakening is a triptych really, if books ever can be, with three sections, covering three major characters from the new film.  Each section is essentially a short story in its own right.  We have Fin, Rey and Poe (in that order).  It’s fair to say, without spoiling too much, that their paths do not cross in the book, but the action all takes place presumably in parallel, and all of it in close proximity to the start of the movie.  The prose is plain, workmanlike, unadorned.  The delivery feels like narration, you get the sense that someone is telling you what has happened, describing it to you, I’m not sure if that was intentional or not.  Normally novels try and embed you in the story, but this feels remote.  Not without some element of emotion, but just as if you’re truly watching it rather than being in it.

The three sections focus totally on their respective characters, they are in every scene.  There is a little bit of character development for each of the three, and just enough extra background to really bring their story in focus in the film.

This is a pretty short book, 216 pages in the paperback, with about half a dozen of those being artwork.  Given the limited scope, the style and the length, it felt very short as well.  Not necessarily a bad thing given the intent, but I did feel like I could have done with it being twice as long perhaps.

There were a small number of emotional moments, some laughs and some interesting reveals (although given how much you learn about the characters in the movie, not that many).  The most interesting bits outside of the characters are present during Poe’s section, where we learn more about the Resistance and the First Order and I found those very interesting.  The most emotional bits also come within the last character’s section (Poe), and his story definitely got the best deal.  There’s one moment where Poe is flying with other X-Wing pilots, and they all report in using the phrase, “Rapier Two, standing by.” (or Rapier One, etc.)

That moment dropped me right into the first film and sent shivers up my spine, but there were sadly too few of those moments throughout the whole book.

All in all, Before the Awakening is very easy to read, light on emotion or depth, but a good introduction to three of the main characters in the film.  It answers questions you might have if you’ve already seen the movie, and it sets some stuff up ready for you if you haven’t.  My enjoyment of the film has increased after having read the book, even without watching the film again.  Well worth it for Star Wars fans, but not a good introduction to the franchise for someone who’s never experienced it before.

May the Force be with you.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Greg Rucka
  • Illustrator: Phil Noto
  • Format: Paperback
  • Publisher: Egmont
  • Genre: Sci-fi
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Oct 302015
 

Christmas Ever After (Puffin Island trilogy, Book 3) Skylar Tempest has never understood Alec Hunter’s appeal. So what if he’s a world renowned historian? He’s also cynical, aloof and determined to think the worst of her. So when a twist of fate finds her spending the lead up to Christmas with Alec and his family, she’s not expecting the season to be merry or bright.

This is the third and final book in the Puffin Island trilogy and it does not disappoint. I absolutely loved it! Sky and Alec had made appearances in previous books and I was definitely looking forward to their story as the tension when they were together could be cut with a knife.

Sky always comes across as very resilient and confident but during this book we get to see below the surface she presents to the outside world. She is smart and sassy but not always as confident as she makes out. The author writes her emotions so well, I was dragged in laughing and crying with her.

What can I say about Alec? He is so hot, I’m amazed the snow didn’t melt around him. He is a guy so emotionally damaged by a previous relationship, he swore off women like Skylar (or who she projects anyway!) As he softens towards Skylar, he just becomes even more gorgeous. Much as I love my husband I wouldn’t say no if he came calling!

As we return to Puffin island we get to catch up with old friends which I always enjoy, having said that this can easily be read as a standalone book.

This is sexy, romantic and set at Christmas time, what could be better for a romantic like me? I was left with a warm glow and happy heart at the end.  Sarah Morgan always delivers the perfect romantic read and this is no exception. I am sad to say goodbye to Puffin Island but am excited to see what series comes next.

Win a signed copy of Some Kind of Wonderful!

I was lucky enough to meet the wonderful Sarah Morgan at an event in the Summer and she kindly signed a copy of “Some Kind of Wonderful” which is book 2 in the series but can be read standalone.

To be in with a chance of winning this fabulous book, leave the answer to the following question in the comments below.

What is the name of the island this series is about?

Due to postage costs, UK residents only please.

The giveaway will end midnight GMT on 15th November 2015.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Sarah Morgan
  • Series: Puffin Island (3)
  • Format: Kindle
  • Publisher: Mills & Boon
  • Genre: Romance
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

Aug 232015
 

Saskia Sarginson answers a few irreverent questions, just in time for the release of her latest book, The Other Me.

saskia_328-fin-224x300Saskia was born in Manchester in 1961, but grew up in Suffolk. She has a B.A hons in Fashion Design and Communication from St. Martin’s School of Art and read English Literature at Cambridge University. She was awarded a distinction in her Creative Writing M.A from Royal Holloway University. Saskia worked as Health and Beauty Editor on Company magazine and has written for various publications such as Cosmopolitan, You magazine, The Telegraph, Sainsbury’s Magazine, The Clothes Show, Zest, She and M & S Magazine. She has also been a script reader, copy writer and ghost writer. Her debut novel, The Twins, was published by Piatkus in September 2013. Her second novel, Without You, was published in July 2014, also by Piatkus. She lives in London with her four children, (including twin girls) her partner, Alex, a TV series producer/director – and two cats and two dogs. 

How did you celebrate when your first book was published?
When my debut novel was published I collapsed in relief, then stayed awake all night in a state of complete terror – would anyone read it? Would they hate it? What if they hated it? Which was worse – nobody reading it, or people hating it? (You get the picture.) When my partner managed to talk me down from the dizzying heights of my paranoia, we went out for a quiet meal at our favourite local restaurant and raised a glass of champagne to The Twins.

What are your preferred conditions for writing, i.e. silence, background noise, TV?
Shhhhhh. Silence! I can’t even cope with someone breathing in the same room. The only creatures allowed inside my writing space are my animals.

Whose opinion matters most to you?
There are four main people who always read a book first and whose opinions matter the most – my editor and my agent, my partner and my best friend, who also happens to be an editor, luckily for me.

Who would play you in the film adaptation of your life?
Someone blonde, a bit on the curvy side – maybe Kate Winslet?

Do you have a party trick?
Not really. Not unless I could dance a tango. I could push my youngest son forward, he’s always got a trick up his sleeve, or some impossible riddle to solve.

Do you have pets, and if so, describe them?
I love animals. I have two cats and three dogs. My cats are sisters, with the same birthday as me. They have different personalities; Lola is shy and nervous; Tilly is brave, friendly, funny and best mates with the dogs: Maisy, a tough little border terrier, and Sacha, a big soppy lurcher. My latest dog is a rescue from Spain. When we got Evie she was skin and bone and terrified of men. Somebody (a man presumably) had chopped her tail off, just for fun. Now she’s put on loads of weight, and has become a happy, confident girl. I’d get more rescue animals if I could. But I need to move to the country first!

Many thanks to Saskia Sarginson for taking the time to answer our questions, and if you want to know more about the author, visit her Website, Twitter, Goodreads or on Facebook!


Irreverent Questions is BookThing‘s fun, irregular feature where we ask a series of random questions that popped into our curious heads. If you are an author and would like to take part, please get in touch!

Aug 232015
 

The Other Me Eliza Bennett has the life she always dreamed of. She’s who she wants to be, and she’s with the man she wants to be with. But Eliza is living a lie. Her real name is Klaudia Myer. And Klaudia is on the run. She’s escaping her old life and a terrible secret buried at the heart of her family. This is the story of Eliza and Klaudia: one woman, two lives and a lie they cannot hide from.

This book blew me away. It was brilliant. Compelling, emotional and heartbreaking; bringing alive the feelings and thoughts of the individuals so well they jump off the page.

Once I had started it I just could not put it down, turning every page to see what was going to be revealed next. The story is told from 3 points of view – Klaudia, Eliza and Ernst, in 1986, 1996 and the 1930’s respectively. Ernst’s recollections in particular were thought provoking and heartbreaking and each narrative managed to evoke the era very well.

This book shows how quickly a lie can spiral out of control, how what we believe isn’t always the truth and the heartache of families torn apart by miscommunication.

The blurb indicates it is a thriller but I wouldn’t call it that at all, it is a powerful story about a young woman’s journey in dealing with the shadows of her past, accepting there are things she cannot change but do not define who she is now; there is also a love story entwined but is a very small part of the overall story.

Definitely not a book I would normally pick up to read but having been sent it by the publisher for an honest review I am so glad I did.

I would definitely recommend reading this, but put time aside to read as once you start you won’t want to stop!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Saskia Sarginson
  • Format: Paperback
  • Publisher: Piatkus
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jul 272015
 

Foxglove Summer (PC Peter Grant 5) I don’t read that much these days, because it’s difficult to find stuff that really grabs my attention.  There are, however, a few exceptions, and the DC Peter Grant books (The Rivers of London series to some) are in that group.  I’ve been looking forward to the paperback release of the 5th book (Foxglove Summer) since it was announced (on account of me being too cheap to buy the hardback), and have been reading it in my lunch break at work since it arrived.

Ben’s style is very easy going, and that makes reading the books very easy as well.  The tone is informal and inviting and I often think, regardless of the content, I could spend hours just reading his prose and enjoy it in the same way you might enjoy a warm bath.

As is common in the kind of urban fantasy I read, Foxglove Summer has a crime to solve, and in the background there’s a long running arc, some impending doom or event that is being foreshadowed.  Painted over those two features are the lives of the characters that inhabit the story.  Unusually, Ben pretty much pushes all of the key characters into the sidelines in this outing, with DC Peter Grant being sent off out of London.  Other than Beverly Brook, the other regulars (Nightingale, Molly, Leslie, et. al) are all pretty much handled at arms length.  Peter is on his own, and while that presents some challenges, it also left me feeling a little bit bereft.

Two girls have gone missing, and what starts out being a routine check on practitioners for Peter, turns into a full-on Falcon event (the Police terminology in the book for ‘weird shit’).

The pace was okay, although as with some of the previous books, I felt again that the ending was quite damp.  This may be because I had to stop only a chapter from the end and then pick it up again, but it all feels quite gentle.  Maybe this is intentional, police work doesn’t finish with the final chase, but rather with all the paperwork afterwards, but it still leaves me feeling deflated.  In combination with the lack of supporting characters, this means I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the fourth in the series which I feel was much stronger.

However, it’s not all bad.  The police procedural elements are as fascinating as ever, the new characters were great, the setting was interesting and the magical elements were worth the effort.  Foxglove Summer is another quite low key story in the magic department after Broken Homes’ must stronger magical element, but as usual it’s blended with the other elements perfectly.

The humour is great, most of it being delivered through DC Grant’s PoV, which is as engaging and witty as ever.  I really could spend hours just reading about DC Grant going about regular police work.

The plot has twists, and the long running story arc is interesting (but you need to have read the others to get it).

Foxglove Summer is an interesting, entertaining read, albeit diminished by the reduced cast.  What the book lacks in tension, it makes up for with humour, wit and intelligence.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Ben Aaronovitch
  • Series: Rivers of London (5)
  • Format: Paperback
  • Publisher: Gollancz
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jul 242015
 

As part of the release of Redemption Road, Lisa Ballantyne kindly answered a few of our irreverent questions!

10865828_809984035753883_8254848204158460780_oLisa Ballantyne was born in Armadale, West Lothian, Scotland and studied English Literature at University of St Andrews.

She lived and worked in China for many years and started writing seriously while she was there. Before being published, Lisa was short-listed for the Dundee International Book Prize.

Her debut novel, The Guilty One was translated into over 25 languages, long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and short-listed for an Edgar Allan Poe Award. The Guilty One was also the Autumn 2012 Richard and Judy Book-club Winner. Redemption Road is her new novel. She lives in Glasgow.

Picture and bio reproduced from Lisa’s website.

What would you be or want to be (or still are), if you weren’t an author?
A character actress or a social worker… but even if I had the talent and skill to be either of those, I would write as well! I will always write, however I earn my money.

Describe your working environment right now (desk, sofa, bathroom, etc.)
I write at my kitchen table, in a Glasgow tenement, looking out of my kitchen window. There are two huge sash windows before me, still fitted with period glass that slightly blurs my view of trees, the railway, a church spire, and hills in the distance – the scene wavers, as if it is under water.

How did you celebrate when your first book was published?
I had a big party with my friends.

What gets you in the mood or inspires you to write?
Nothing particularly gets me in the mood for writing; I daydream constantly and this is the main source of my work, but I find that I have a lot of good thoughts when I am on busses staring out of the window.

What is the best experience you’ve had with fans?
I am touched when people write me letters to say they’ve been moved by my work.

What do you value most?
The people I love and my creativity.

What is your favourite type of music?
That is such a hard question to answer. I love music and have eclectic taste, but I write listening exclusively to classical music.

Many thanks to Lisa Ballantyne for taking the time to answer our questions, and if you want to know more about the author, visit her Website, Twitter, Goodreads or on Facebook!


Irreverent Questions is BookThing‘s fun, irregular feature where we ask a series of random questions that popped into our curious heads. If you are an author and would like to take part, please get in touch!

Jul 232015
 

Redemption Road The crash is the unravelling of Margaret Holloway. Trapped inside a car about to explode, she is rescued by a scarred stranger who then disappears. Margaret remembers little, but she’s spent her life remembering little – her childhood is full of holes and forgotten memories. Now she has a burning desire to discover who she is and why her life has been shrouded in secrets. What really happened to her when she was a child? Could it have anything to do with the mysterious man who saved her life?

Flitting effortlessly between past and present, this is a suspenseful, gritty and emotionally charged journey of an estranged father and daughter, exploring the strength of family ties and our huge capacity for forgiveness.

Well this is not my usual kind of book, in fact there is no romance at all, so why did I pick it up? The blurb on the back cover intrigued me and the publisher sent me a copy for review, and boy am I glad they did. This is a really compelling book and once I got into it, I could not put it down.

It did take me a few chapters to get into it, as it is told from three different perspectives (and also 2 different eras). I often struggle to keep it all straight in my head to start with and have to keep going back to check dates etc! Having said that, after those first few, I was dragged in and read it at every opportunity. Once I got used to the characters and the way the book told the story, it flowed very well. I felt it was very well written and vividly descriptive.

Parts of the story I could easily see where it was going and there wasn’t any surprise when it happened, but I was still compelled to keep reading, to see everything tied up. This story shows how one mistake, one miscalculation of judgement can ruin everything and leave hopes and dreams in ashes.

The characters are believable and fallible and I especially felt drawn towards Big George, even when I felt I shouldn’t! I liked the way their layers were revealed bit by bit and this story shows you should never take things at face value.

It was emotional and a real page turner for me, not something I would usually pick up, but I can definitely recommend it.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Lisa Ballantyne
  • Format: Paperback
  • Publisher: Piatkus
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jul 212015
 

Tracer (Outer Earth) A huge space station orbits the Earth, holding the last of humanity. It’s broken, rusted, falling apart. We’ve wrecked our planet, and now we have to live with the consequences: a new home that’s dirty, overcrowded and inescapable.

What’s more, there’s a madman hiding on the station. He’s about to unleash chaos. And when he does, there’ll be nowhere left to run.

Riley Hale is a tracer – part of a group of people who make money delivering goods to different sectors of the space station. She never looks at what she is carrying until one day it all goes wrong, she inadvertently sees her cargo and nothing is the same again.

This book literally explodes into life from page one and while it’s not the sort of book I usually read, I was dragged in by both feet! With explosions and betrayals, you end up looking at everyone and thinking ‘are they a good guy or are they about to turn round and shoot you’?

Riley is fast and resilient and can definitely take a punch or two, although I’m not sure how she managed to stay standing at times.  She is a strong heroine but has hidden depths and when the time comes, she shows just how strong she really is.

Darnell is the main villain of the piece and he’s evil, nasty, completely nuts and so well written I could imagine him very clearly.

There is also a large cast of supporting characters, all of whom are interesting and multi layered.

The world building is good and you get a sense of the despair felt by people living on this crumbling space station – it makes you want to think about taking better care of this planet we are on!

I guess my only criticism would be that at times it felt like I was watching an action film at the cinema (and this would translate to a big budget blockbuster very easily). You could argue of course that feeling like I was watching a film shows the quality of the writing – that I can see it all so clearly, but for me at times I felt it was a bit over the top.

Overall, I did enjoy it and it is a good book, just not my usual genre (although there was a teensy bit of romance).

Generally though this is a non stop action thriller set in space, and if that is the sort of book you enjoy, you will love this. Very well written, descriptive and immersive.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Rob Boffard
  • Format: Kindle
  • Publisher: Orbit
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)