The Nazi’s Son by Andrew Turpin @AndrewTurpin #historicalfiction #thriller #espionage #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Nazi’s Son by Andrew Turpin. I have got a little behind with this series which is a real shame as it is brilliant. This is the 5th book in the Joe Johnson series, a series that gets better and better.

A deadly legacy of the Cold War. A mysterious Nazi source. A desperate escape bid through northern Russia. And life-threatening secrets being leaked by a mole at the heart of Western intelligence.

In the fifth book of this thriller series, ex-CIA war crimes investigator Joe Johnson heads to Berlin to assist with the supposedly straightforward debriefing of a Russian defector. The defector knows the background to the terrorist bombing of the city’s famous La Belle nightclub in the 1980s as well as the identity of a Russian agent who is funneling American and British military secrets to Moscow.

But things go wrong. Johnson is pursued by his nemesis, the vengeful Russian oligarch Yuri Severinov. And subsequent events turn out to be vastly more complex and terrifying than he expected.

Why are ex-KGB and Stasi intelligence chiefs so anxious to prevent Johnson from getting to the heart of what really happened? And what are the Kremlin connections that suck him into a life-or-death chase in St. Petersburg?
Johnson and his ex-MI6 colleague Jayne Robinson find themselves battling against the odds to dig out truths that have been concealed for almost thirty years.

At the same time, the pair find themselves inexorably drawn toward resuming the brief love affair they once had in Islamabad.

The key to solving the conundrum around the Berlin bombing comes from an unlikely direction, and the identity of the Russian mole who is wreaking havoc in the West turns out to be equally surprising.

The story works its way to a climax in London and Leipzig as Johnson battles against overwhelming odds to outwit the forces arrayed against him.

The Nazi’s Son is a thriller with many unexpected twists that will keep the reader guessing right to the end.

MY REVIEW

On 5th April 1986, the German nightclub la belle was bombed. 3 died, two of which were American and a further 79 Americans were injured of the 200+ that were in the club and vicinity. At the time tensions between the US and Libya were tense, and it gave US President Reagan the opportunity to take things further. The club was one that American service people used regularly. An enquiry later found that there was no evidence of this being a Libyan attack.

The author uses his character Joe Johnson, an ex CIA War Investigator to look into this matter further. Having read all the previous books in this series I am aware of how Joe works and how he manages to discover information, often at considerable risk to himself. Teaming up once again with Jayne Robinson, ex-MI6, they find that there is far more at stake than they first realised.

Joe is brought in to look at the bombing, this is a ruse as such as the bombing is a historical crime and therefore fits his resume to a tee. The initial role of Joe is to discover why a Russian is defecting and has information about the bombing. This link, although a little tenuous is one that gives reason for him being there. But Joe’s attendance sets alarm bells off in other agencies, such as Stasi and KGB. What ensues is a fast and addictive game of cat and mouse that is dangerous and thrilling.

I do like a good spy, espionage and thriller read and this one ticks those boxes brilliantly. I have an interest in this series and it is one that delivers every time. There is action from the start and it continues pretty much throughout the story. Pitting agencies against each other and mixing in foreign politics and agendas make for a great edge-of-the-seat book.

While the investigation is the main focus, the author does bring the past and personal lives of Joe and Jayne into this story. It is something that I felt has been on the cards for a while and I am curious as to how the author will deal with this in future books.

The author uses past events and historical figures to help jog the memory, so mentioning Medvedev, Reagan, and Gorbachev is ideal for remembering who was around. As I read this it felt odd as it mentioned the annexation of Crimea and Putin’s role. This is now at a time when Putin’s war against Ukraine is still ongoing, so in an odd sense, it feels like the right time to have picked this book up. At the time of writing this review, it has been just over 9 months since it started.

I should mention that Jayne Robinson has her own series of books and I must get to these.

If you are a fan of spy thrillers then this is one that you should have a good look at. In fact, all of the books are excellent and are good action-packed stories. This is a fabulously aced story, and there is action and danger all the way. This is one for fans of spy thrillers, crime, espionage, action and historical thrillers. It is a book and series I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew is a former journalist who has always had a love of writing and a passion for reading good thrillers. Now he has finally put the two interests together.

His first book in the Joe Johnson thriller series, The Last Nazi, was published in August 2017, and the second, The Old Bridge, in January 2018. The third, Bandit Country, followed in February 2018. In January 2019 the fourth, Stalin’s Final Sting, was published along with a prequel to the series, entitled The Afghan. Book #5 in the series, The Nazi’s Son, appeared in November 2019, followed by book 6, The Black Sea, published in May 2020.

The themes behind these thrillers also pull together some of Andrew’s other interests, particularly history, world news, and travel. They explore the ways in which events and human behaviours deep into the past continue to impact on modern society, politics and business.

All of Andrew’s books draw strongly on these themes. They feature Joe Johnson, an ex-CIA officer and former U.S. Nazi hunter with the Office of Special Investigations, part of the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
Johnson has a passion for justice and a drive to investigate unsolved war crimes in different parts of the world.

Andrew studied history at Loughborough University and worked for many years as a business and financial journalist before becoming a corporate and financial communications adviser with several large energy companies.

He originally came from Grantham, Lincolnshire, and lives with his family in St. Albans in Hertfordshire, U.K.

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In the Shadows of Castles by G.K. Holloway @SilverWoodBooks #historicalfiction #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review of In the Shadows of Castles by G.K. Holloway. I had the pleasure of reading the first book in this series in 2017, the book was 1066: What Fates Impose and it was a fabulous story so I was absolutely delighted when Glyn got in touch to see if I wanted to read the next one.

1066: What Fates Impose

Here is the link to my review for 1066: What Fates Impose

In the Shadows of Castles

It’s the 1060s, and William of Normandy is establishing a new and brutal regime in England, but there are those who would defy him. As Norman soldiers spread like a plague across the land, resistance builds, but will it be enough to topple William and restore the rightful king to his throne? The English have the courage to fight, but the Normans, already victorious at Hastings, now build castles seeking to secure their tenuous foothold in these lands.

And what of the people caught up in these catastrophic events? Dispossessed but not defeated, their lives ripped apart, the English struggle for freedom from tyranny; amongst them, caught up in the turmoil, are a soldier, a thane and two sisters. As events unfold, their destinies become intertwined, bringing drastic changes that alter their lives forever.

Firmly embedded in the history of the Conquest, ‘In the Shadows of Castles’ is ultimately a story of love, hope and survival in a time of war. 

PURCHASE LINK – AMAZON UK

MY REVIEW

This book continues on from 1066: What Fates Impose. I read and adored that book so I was absolutely thrilled to the author had continued the story. With William on the throne, the Normans are brutally and savagely destroying all the English that they come across. Rebels and uprisings are quickly quashed by Williams’s army and the countryside is left like scorched earth. Any food is taken, livestock destroyed, houses burned and people murdered no matter their age.

Having a Frenchman wearing an English crown doesn’t sit well with many. There are obviously some who have lands, estates and money that want to retain their possessions and so they do show some support. William doesn’t only have to deal with the English, he also has to stop the grumbling from within his own ranks, as his people want to go back home to their families.

With the rebels of England, and with the support of the Welsh, Scots and Danes there is bloodshed around most of England. Nowhere is safe, churches do not provide a safe sanctuary anymore as they are destroyed as quickly as they come across. Villages, towns and cities are filled with bloodshed and William is gradually building castles and fortifications where he can to maintain his hold.

With the first book, I adored how the author brought his obvious knowledge of this period of English history to life. I am delighted to see that this still runs true with his latest book. Being able to read a fictionalised story really does bring the past to life, it makes it easier to absorb and remember. No list of dates and people who lived and died, but instead a proper action-packed read from start to finish.

Having a fictionalised account gives the reader a chance to get to know a character, but it does come down to the research and this is where the author really does know his subject. There will be obvious things that may be added or altered, but for me as a general reader, it means I can immerse myself directly into the story.

And what a story this one is!

With England at the start of a new era under the reign of William, the Battle of Hastings is still fresh in the memory. There was a successor named but he was obviously not crowned as William was instead. The country is in turmoil, it is under siege and communication is slow or misunderstood, sometimes deliberately. The author uses four main characters to give a more personal look at lifestyles and what could have happened. Two friends and two sisters are drawn together as they battle their way out of skirmishes, and are hunted, are followed and lied to. There are obviously more characters than this, but while there is a lot the author keeps the action flowing wonderfully as it goes from one group to another, crisis crossing the county.

The whole feel of the book has a wonderful pace to it. It is an action-adventure story, one also of life, death, loyalty and of the future. It is a brilliant read from start to finish and it is one I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

G. K. Holloway did several jobs after leaving school before taking A Levels at his local college and later a degree in History and Politics at Coventry University. Once he had graduated, he spent the next twenty years working in education in and around Bristol. After reading a biography about Harold Godwinson, he studied the late Anglo-Saxon era in detail and discovered a time of papal plots, court intrigues, family feuds, loyalties, betrayals, assassinations and a few battles. When he had enough material to weave together fact and fiction, he produced his award-winning novel, ‘1066: What Fates Impose’, the first in a series about the Norman Conquest. G. K. Holloway lives in Bristol with his wife and two children.

Find G.K. Holloway on his Amazon Author Page or Goodreads Author Page

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The Lion by Conn Iggulden #20booksofsummer #historicalfiction #netgalley #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Lion by Conn Iggulden. I have read quite a few books by this author and I do adore how he brings history to life, making it interesting and exciting in his telling. Brilliantly researched and addictive reading for those who love their hist/fic.

This is 14/20 of the #20booksofsummer reading challenge.

Ancient Greece, 5th century BC

The age of myths and legends has given way to the world of men. In the front rank stands Pericles, Lion of Athens.

Behind Pericles lies the greatest city of the ancient world. Before him, on land and at sea, stands the merciless Persian army. Both sides are spoiling for war.

Though still a young man, Pericles knows one thing: to fight a war you must first win the peace.

It’s time for a hero to rise.

For his enemies to tremble.

And for Athens, a city of wisdom and warriors, to shine with glory . . .

MY REVIEW

When I pick up a book by this author I know I am going to be in for a treat. The Lion is fabulous reading and takes the reader back to 5th Century BC, Ancient Greece. This era is one people are most like aware of given the films such as The 300, I mention this as it is in a similar timeline to the story and his son, Pleistarchus features at the beginning of the story. While Sparta played its part in past battles, it stands apart for a few years. Athens, with other city-states, created the Delian League at Delos, a central island in the Aegean Sea,

The main characters in this story are Cimon and Pericles. They are childhood friends and their fathers had fought in the battles at Marathon against the Persians. The Persians have gone quieter of late, but that does not mean there is no danger. The city-states of Greece come together to form the Delian League, they amass a fleet that patrols the Aegean to keep a look out for potential Persian threats.

Pericles is a young man and isn’t allowed a responsibility as he is deemed too young until he is 30 years old. But, his friendship with Cimon grants him access to meetings. The two form a formidable friendship and when needed they will support each other.

Pericles takes over his father’s estate after his death. This means he is bound to the land, but his heart still yearns for the sea. He has different responsibilities from Cimon, but when he is needed Pericles will join back with Cimon.

This story is a brilliant one from start to finish. The author manages to create such a wonderful and action-packed story from history. As I read this I had to remind myself I wasn’t watching a film as the imagery the author creates with his words is exceptional. He really does bring history to life in the pages.

The battles of the past are still fresh in the memories of the current, this helps to fuel the need for a fleet and to have people with experience around those in control. There are politics that come into play, but this is not a main part of the story. Ancient Greece without its politics just wouldn’t be right! The author brings the characters to life with decisions, friendships, battles and pretty much from the point of Pericles who will have a larger role in history.

This is more the story of Pericles, his decisions and his thoughts as he makes the transition from a young man into an adult and all the responsibilities that come with it. His family, his personal life and made it a more character-based story. There are plenty of other characters but focusing on just one gave a brilliant insight into one of history’s figures.

This author will probably already be known to you if you like your ancient history. It is a brilliant read and one that I would definitely recommend.

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Alias Emma by Ava Glass #NetGalley @penguinrandom #PublicationDay #crime #spythriller #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Alias Emma by Ava Glass. This is a fabulous spy-thriller story and I have discovered it is the first in a planned series. Today is Publication Day for this book.

Emma Makepeace is about to spend the longest night in her life.

She’s on her first operation with a shadowy organisation known only as ‘The Agency’, assigned to track down and save an innocent man wanted by the Russian government

All Emma has to do is bring him in to MI6 before sunrise, and before an assassination team gets to him first.

But the Russians have hacked the city’s CCTV cameras. There are spies all over London searching for the two of them. And her target, Michael Primalov, doesn’t want to be rescued.

As London sleeps, a battle is taking place on its streets as Emma fights to keep Michael alive.

But what sort of reception await them if and when they get to MI6?

KILLING EVE meets JAMES BOND in the first novel of the ALIAS EMMA series: a thrilling, cinematic page-turner starring the most likeable and resourceful of heroines. 

MY REVIEW

I do love a good spy thriller story and especially one that involves different government agencies. I think most of us have a mistrust of these agencies and so it always makes sense that they are involved in some plot, conspiracy or cover-up.

Emma Makepeace, a spy for the British government has not long been in this job. She is not a rookie, she already has experience as she served as an intelligence officer in the forces. She also has an interesting family background.

As the synopsis suggests, she has been tasked with finding and convincing an innocent man that his life is at risk. It is her job to get him to a safe place. What should be a basic job, suddenly becomes a flight through and under the streets of London. Trying to evade capture and being seen, is very difficult when London has cameras everywhere.

This is a fast-paced read, a quick intro to Emma and that’s it, straight into the action. The story does have a little back and forth as far as timelines and people go, not much but it does give some valuable additional information. There is not a huge cast of characters in this story, some don’t even have a name. This makes sense given the genre of the story.

As I mentioned conspiracy goes hand in hand with spies and governments, so this story ticked a lot of boxes for me. There are several things on the go and it was interesting to see how the author would play this one out. I really enjoyed the route she took and it felt right. This is a story that is full of mystery as well as crime set mainly in London.

This is a cracking read and I am hoping this is the start of a series. The author has left the opportunity to make this an option.

This is one for those who like a fast-paced, spy thriller that has that edge-of-the-seat frenetic energy to it, It is one I would definitely recommend.

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Codename Edelweiss by Justin Kerr-Smiley #JustinKerrSmiley @RandomTTours @UnicornPubGroup #action #histfic #thriller #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Codename Edelweiss by Justin Kerr-Smiley. This is a brilliant book and is one for those who like a cracking action, adventure and mystery thriller story.

My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my PB copy of the book via the Publisher – Unicorn Publishing Group

In 1976, Argentina is governed by a military junta bankrolled by former Nazis. It is the anniversary of a mysterious village fire in the jungle. The lone survivor, a Guaraní boy, is now a Jesuit priest. A Jewish journalist, Ariel Guzman, interviews him at his mission. The man claims Adolf Hitler escaped from Berlin with Eva Braun and made a secret camp near the Iguaçu Falls. The Führer ordered the village’s destruction, but the priest refuses to say why. He mentions the codename Edelweiss and will only reveal the person’s identity if he dies.
Argentina’s most powerful man is billionaire and Waffen-SS veteran Tiago Hecht. He is searching for Edelweiss so that he can establish a Fourth Reich. Hecht now has confirmation Hitler’s son is alive. But so does the Mossad and they have sent an agent to eliminate him. The only sanctuary for ‘Edelweiss’ is at the Vatican, but time is running out.
The hunt is on… 

MY REVIEW

When I first saw this book I knew it was one I wanted to read, there have been many conspiracies and theories following the death of Hitler. Did he really die? Did he get out of Germany? I do love a good conspiracy book and this one sounded right up my street.

The author has taken the concept that Hitler and Eva Braun did indeed survive and made a voyage to start a new life in South America. Many made this journey some for survival and some to escape any repercussions. Many stories have circulated over the years and there is something about a conspiracy that intrigues me.

The story is one that sounds plausible and one that I found extremely addictive. From a journalist taking a statement from a priest to discovering the whereabouts of a secret camp, the political, religious and moral aspects are covered. Set over several years from WWII to the 1970s the story fills in an action-packed adventure style read.

As the synopsis suggests. this book takes in various organisations, including Mossad, the Vatican and a newspaper. Politics are also woven into this as you would expect as well. The author has created a story that flows so well between the many characters and locations. It is one that is taken through scenarios that have implications for the world and for those immediately involved. While the story is about the search for Hitler’s son, the author also includes life in Argentina in the 70s, the political stage.

I found this book to be very well-paced and the tension was amazing not everything turned out as I thought it might. I did like the way the author finished this story, it answered questions raised and felt right in some ways.

This is one for those who enjoy a proper action and adventure style read with conspiracies, secrets, and mysteries that need to be revealed. A fabulous book to read and one that I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Justin Kerr-Smiley was born in 1965 and educated at Newcastle University.
As a journalist, he has reported from the Balkans, Northern Ireland, the West
Bank and South America. He has also written for the Guardian, The Times
and The Spectator. He is the author of two previous novels, including Under
The Sun. He lives in London

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Outcast by Chris Ryan @exSASChrisRyan @rararesources @ZaffreBooks #crime #action #militarythriller #mystery #NetGalley #bookreview

I am delighted to be one of the reviewers that are opening the Blog Tour today for Outcast by Chris Ryan. This is a brilliant action/ adventure crime and mystery novel and one I thoroughly enjoyed.

My huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of this book from Zaffre Books via NetGalley.

After single-handedly intervening in a deadly terrorist attack in Mali, SAS Warrant Officer Jamie ‘Geordie’ Carter is denounced as a lone wolf by jealous superiors.


Now a Regiment outcast, Carter is given a second chance with a deniable mission: locate SAS hero-gone-rogue, David Vann.


Vann had been sent into Afghanistan to train local rebels to fight the Taliban. But he’s since gone silent and expected attacks on key targets have not happened.


Tracking Vann through Afghanistan and Tajikistan, Carter not only discovers the rogue soldier’s involvement in a conspiracy that stretches far beyond the Middle East – but an imminent attack that will have deadly consequences the world over . . .

Purchase Links AMAZON UK USBrown’s Books

MY REVIEW

This is the first time I have read a book by this author, and it was a very addictive read. This is a book that is full of action from the first page right through to the last. I have seen there are several books by this author and after reading this latest one I really need to go and read more.

The story focuses on SAS Warrant Officer Jamie Carter, (Geordie) he has not got many friends in the ranks or in power. He is considered a bit of a liability after his last mission. His current mission is cut short at a very timely moment and he asked to go and discover the whereabouts of his old trainer Vann. He is out of contact, no one knows where or why but they do have the last location.

I really liked Geordie, while he is a maverick as such he also seems quite principled. In some respects, his principles are part of his training. His training is what keeps him alive and as Vann was the one that trained him they are very similar and this is something that Geordie can use to his advantage, as they do share a similar mindset and this will prove inevitable in trying to work out what has happened.

This is an action-packed story from start to finish. The author obviously knows his stuff and this is very apparent from the details he includes. I liked the balance of the details, enough to make a point but not over the top.

When Government organisations are involved then there is often some sort of double cross or political power play involved. This mission though is being run via two government agencies and both are adamant that he is covered, that things are good and that he has everything he needs. I do like it when agencies get involved!

Geordie is a great character, he has a dogged determination and also there is a certain amount to him that makes him trustworthy. Little things that he does along his journey make you realise that he is not all muscle and firepower.

The action is fast throughout the story, there are skirmishes, fights, and chases, but underneath all this, the author keeps the story about Geordie and his mission but with a more personal touch and I was able to learn more about this character. This is a relatively quick read at just a little over 300 pages and there are a lot of details.

This is one for those who like to read more of an action-adventure story as well as a crime thriller and mystery. It is one I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris Ryan was born in Newcastle.
In 1984 he joined 22 SAS. After completing the year-long Alpine Guides Course, he was the troop guide for B Squadron Mountain Troop. He completed three tours with the anti-terrorist team, serving as an assaulter, sniper and finally Sniper Team Commander.


Chris was part of the SAS eight-man team chosen for the famous Bravo Two Zero mission during the 1991 Gulf War. He was the only member of the unit to escape from Iraq, where three of his colleagues were killed and four captured, for which he was awarded the Military Medal. Chris wrote about his experiences in his book The One That Got Away, which became an immediate bestseller. Since then he has written over fifty books and presented a number of very successful TV programmes.


Social Media Links – Twitter

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The Plant Hunter by Thomas Mogford @ThomasMogford @welbeckpublish @maddie_dk #histfic #mystery #adventure #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Plant Hunter by Thomas Mogford. This is a fabulous adventure style story that is a mix of historical fiction and a journey of discovery. I adored it so much.

My Huge thanks to Maddie at Welbeck Publishing Group for my gorgeous advanced copy of this book – I love it 🙂

1867. King’s Road, Chelsea, is a sea of plant nurseries, catering to the Victorian obsession with rare and exotic flora. But each of the glossy emporiums is fuelled by the dangerous world of the plant hunters – daring adventurers sent into uncharted lands in search of untold wonders to grace England’s finest gardens.

Harry Compton is as far from a plant hunter as one could imagine – a salesman plucked from the obscurity of the nursery growing fields to become ‘the face that sold a thousand plants’.

But one small act of kindness sees him inherit a precious gift – a specimen of a fabled tree last heard of in The Travels of Marco Polo, and a map.

Seizing his chance for fame and fortune, Harry sets out to make his mark. But where there is wealth there is corruption, and soon Harry is fleeing England, rounding the Cape of Good Hope and sailing up the Yangtze alongside a young widow – both in pursuit of the plant that could transform both their lives forever.

MY REVIEW

I am a huge fan of plants and books. Every room in our house has at least one of each in them, so when I saw this book I knew it was one that I needed to read. (The photo above is a few plants in my bedroom 🙂 )

This is what the title suggests it is, about a Plant Hunter. However, the particular plant hunter in this novel is one Mr Compton, a salesman in a nursery in London. He has worked for Piggott for a while, although being a salesman is not what he wants. He would rather be behind the scenes propagating, tending, and general growing the plants that will then go on for sale.

A chance encounter with a drunk leaves him with an option or two. He is in possession of a map showing the location of a rare and exquisite tree. It is 1867, plant collectors and hunters of exotic flora is a very lucrative business, ideal for those who have backers.

So, begins the travels of Mr Compton. From salesman in London to plant hunter embarking around the world on an adventure of a lifetime.

This is just a fabulous book and one that lived up to my hopes. It is a mix of several genres, there is some mystery, adventure, suspense, romance, crime, murder, history and nature so I do think it would appeal to a vast array of readers.

The author has a great balance in this story so that the plants don’t take over the story and are mixed in with Compton’s own experiences and expectations. He meets some fascinating people on his travels and becomes more worldly-wise at the same time.

I really like the way the author wove everything together as the journey embarks Britain and the sailing to China. It all helps to toughen up Compton, and believe me it is needed for what he has to meet. Not everyone is dangerous, but there are some individuals that you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of.

This is a wonderful mix of historical content and also attitudes around China and opium in the mid to late 1800s. It allows the reader to see differing viewpoints as foreigners in the country are not always welcomed. What can be a well-meaning gesture can actually be seen as something else. I did like this as it showed various sides to social, political and economics at the time. Enough to give a general idea but not too much to distract.

This is a wonderful book and it is a fabulous read. I liked the style, the pace and the storyline. A must-read for fans of historical fiction with an exciting adventurous storyline. It is one I would absolutely recommend.

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The Book of Sand by Theo Clare #NetGalley @CENTURYBOOKSUK #fantasy #dystopian #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Book of Sand by Theo Clare. This is a good-sized fantasy book that has a dystopian and mystery/ thriller feel to it. It is due for Publication tomorrow and I wish to thank Century Books UK for my e-copy that I received via NetGalley.

The Book of Sand: the first novel in an epic series created by the late Mo Hayder, one
of the UK’s finest and most inventive storytellers.

SAND. A hostile world of burning sun.

Outlines of several once-busy cities shimmer on the horizon. Now empty of inhabitants, their buildings lie in ruins.

In the distance a group of people – a family – walk towards us.

Ahead lies shelter: a ‘shuck’ the family call home and which they know they must reach before the light fails, as to be out after dark is to invite danger and almost certain death.

To survive in this alien world of shifting sand, they must find an object hidden in or near water. But other families want it too. And they are willing to fight to the death to make it theirs.

It is beginning to rain in Fairfax County, Virginia when McKenzie Strathie wakes up. An ordinary teenage girl living an ordinary life – except that the previous night she found a sand-lizard in her bed, and now she’s beginning to question everything around her, especially who she really is …

Two very different worlds featuring a group of extraordinary characters driven to the very limit of their endurance in a place where only the strongest will survive.

MY REVIEW

This is a book that completely caught me by surprise, I was aware that there were two stories involved here but how they connected was a complete curve ball!

One timeline is a group, or as they refer to themselves, a family who are surviving in an inhospitable desert. Each member has a different background and they have random memories from their previous life.

The second is of a young girl, fascinated by wind and sand. She lives in the US and is looked at as a bit of an oddity, her family don’t understand her and her obsessions.

I really don’t know how to start this review so it may be a little disjointed and most likely very vague! The two storylines don’t seem to have any connectors in them, two completely different worlds and people. One is a world we would recognise, as it has a present-day “normal world” setting. The other is definitely not, think of something like Dune but with scarier creatures that emerge at night and that has a time limit to it.

The two stories are very good in their own right, and it took me a while to realise how unconnected they both are. It is not until a lot later in the book that there is that sudden OMG moment when the author literally drops the bombshell. And it was a massive one that suddenly changed the story.

Given the slower and slightly disjointed storyline at the start of the story, I found something about this that kept me reading. I have seen very different reviews of this and some feel that it does go on a bit long. Others and I am one, think it is perfect. I thought it was a way of the author making sure we really get to know the characters. I also found that it very subtly ramped up the mystery and intrigue and I didn’t realise that until the bombshell moment.

This is a book that I really enjoyed, it is a mix of dystopian, fantasy, contemporary and mystery. It is from the pen of Mo Hayder who sadly passed away this year (July 2021) at the age of 59. This book is the first time I had read anything by her and I will be going through the back catalogue.

The Book of Sand is a story that I do think will divide readers, it is one that I found was really intriguing and it was the two separate timelines and the different worlds that really drew me in. The end section does change things a lot and it becomes darker and more dangerous.

I really enjoyed this and I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for something engaging, mysterious, dystopian and a little bit different.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mo Hayder

THEO CLARE left school at fifteen. She worked as a barmaid, security guard, filmmaker, hostess in a
Tokyo club, educational administrator and teacher of English as a foreign language in Asia. She had an
MA in film from The American University in Washington, DC and an MA in creative writing from Bath
Spa University, UK. She wrote crime novels under the name Mo Hayder, and her fifth novel Ritual was
nominated for the Barry Award for Best Crime 2009 and was voted Best Book of 2008 by Publishers
Weekly. Gone, her seventh novel, won the Edgar Allan Poe Award, and her novel Wolf was nominated
for Best Novel in the 2015 Edgar Awards and is currently being adapted for the BBC. Theo Clare was
diagnosed with motor neurone disease in December 2020 and passed away in July 2021.

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She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker – Chan @panmacmillan @MantleBooks #NetGalley #historicalfantasy #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker – Chan. This is the first book in The Radiant Emperor series and ios set in China in1345. It is a reimagined story from history and I adored this a lot. My thanks to Pan Macmillan and Mantle Books for accepting my request to review this title via NetGalley.

She’ll change the world to survive her fate . . .

In Mongol-occupied imperial China, a peasant girl refuses her fate of an early death. Stealing her dead brother’s identity to survive, she rises from monk to soldier, then to rebel commander. Zhu’s pursuing the destiny her brother somehow failed to attain: greatness. But all the while, she feels Heaven is watching.

Can anyone fool Heaven indefinitely, escaping what’s written in the stars? Or can Zhu claim her own future, burn all the rules and rise as high as she can dream?

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan is a re-imagining of the rise to power of Zhu Yuanzhang. Zhu was the peasant rebel who expelled the Mongols, unified China under native rule, and became the founding Emperor of the Ming Dynasty. 

MY REVIEW

The synopsis for this book mentions how it is based on Zhu Yuanzhang, a peasant born in 1328 who led the rebels who brought the end of Mongolian rule in China. This story is a reimagining or alternative version of Zhu and the rise to power.

So how is this reimagining? A young peasant girl decides she wants to live, she doesn’t want to be nothing, she wants to be something. In fact, she wants greatness and for all to know her name. The only way this can happen is she takes on the identity of her dead brother Zhu.

Set in the 1300s this is a story that I absolutely loved. I really like the idea of a woman having the nerve to rise to power especially in a time when women have no power or status, are possession and should bear the next generation of sons. Having a character that has the temerity and the nerve to make her own way in this male-dominated world was great.

As this is a reimagining of a historical period, it means the book falls into a category of historical fantasy, and to a point yes it is fantasy but it is also fabulous reading for those who love historical fiction. AS soon as I started this book and read the first couple of sentences I knew I was going to enjoy reading it. Those opening lines were ideal for drawing me in.

As this is set in the 1300s there is a lot of turmoil in the Mongolian/ Chinese areas, under the Khanate, Mongolia wanted to extend its reach and the size of the kingdom. China was a country that has had a lot of turbulent times, Mongolian rule is just one of those times.

The author created a fabulous set of characters who all have their own desires, some more honest than others but very few I would call trustworthy. The middle ages are about power, land, resources, armies, feuds and dominance. Sides and allegiances can be swapped in a blink of an eye. Families are even worse.

I did like that the author decided to choose a female to be the main protagonist, especially when women hold such a low status in this era. I really enjoyed following the journey from peasant girl to a monk and then the story that followed.

I adored everything about this book, it was also incredibly difficult to put down once I had started it. As this is the first book in The Radiant Emporer, I will be looking forward to continuing the story of Zhu in the next book.

I liked this a huge amount and it is one I would definitely recommend.

Many thanks for reading my review, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Bella’s Big Caribbean Adventure by Annabelle & Anne John-Ligali @AnneJohnLigali @BooksNAuthorsUK #

Today I am absolutely delighted to share my review for Bella’s Big Caribbean Adventure by Annabelle & Anne John-Ligali.

It is a real pleasure to help promote Young Authors. This book is aimed at 7-11 year olds and is 123 pages long.

School is out for the summer and Bella is off to St Vincent and the Grenadines with her mum Isabel, Granny Sylta, Iris, and Tommy. This is not just any holiday, because Bella and Iris are going to be bridesmaids at Clara’s wedding, her mum’s best friend.


When Bella and the rest of the family arrive at Clara’s plush villa in Cane Garden, she and Iris have the opportunity to view their dresses before the big day. The dresses are locked up in a wardrobe that is so old not only does it take ten minutes to open, but you can barely turn the lock.


But after a minor distraction, they miss the chance to view their dresses. Bella and Iris must now wait another week before they can see them. Feeling incredibly impatient, Bella sneaks the wardrobe key to finally have a peek at the dresses. But when a ball sails over the garden wall, the unexpected happens and one silly mistake changes everything and her Big Caribbean Adventure turns into something she could never have imagined.


Bella’s Big Caribbean Adventure is a story about the importance of patience, teamwork and never giving up.

You can order your copy HERE.

My Review…

What a delightful story this was to read.As the title suggests this is the story of Bella’s big adventure. She has travelled with her mum and two friends to the island of St. Vincent for the wedding of her Mum’s best friend. Even though she is nervous about flying she is also looking forward to the trip.

Bella is desperate to see the dresses that are locked in a big old wardrobe. Patience is not one of her strong points and she cannot wait until the wardrobe is opened again so she sneaks the key so she can open it. It’s the only key to the wardrobe and Bella manages to lose it.

This is the story of how three friends search the island trying to find the whereabouts of the missing key. Partly a mystery and investigation story and also partly an adventure story. Rather than admitting what she had done, she tries to fix it. Things are not going to plan and her adventures take a dangerous turn.

This story is aimed at 7-11 years olds and I have to say I would have loved reading it at that age, I am rather older than the target audience and I found myself quickly caught up in the story. I did feel the tension and I was also kept wondering if Bella would be caught out, if she would have to tell the truth or if she would find the key. Of course, I am not going t tell you the outcome!

This is a wonderfully paced story, it has plenty of action moments and also some wonderful descriptive passages. I adored seeing the island and learning a little more about it through the eyes of an 11 year Bella.

A fabulous story and one I would definitely recommend to younger readers who love action, adventure stories as well as one that does have a serious moral point to make. 

About the Author…

Annabelle is ten years old and lives in London. She enjoys playing with her brother, vlogging about books she’s read, and places she’s visited on her Annabelle Presents YouTube platform.


She likes to bake cookies and especially Caribbean coconut fried bakes which are her favourites. Her favourite authors are Alesha Dixon, Serena Patel, Jaqueline Wilson, David Walliams, and Ben Miller. She also likes reading magazines; she is a subscriber of First News For Kids.


You may connect with Annabelle here – Instagram Website

Anne lives in London and is a mum of two. She studied graphic design at the University of Arts London. Before deciding to write fiction, she worked in the city of London as an I.T. administrator. Anne also writes women’s fiction and has written a three-part series. She is currently writing a 12-part short story series due for release in January 2022.
You may connect with Anne here – Instagram 

Here is a list of all the wonderful Bloggers, Family and Friends who are helping in this spotlight tour…

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx