The Darkest Sin by D.V. Bishop @davidbishop #20booksofsummer #historicalfiction #crime #murder #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Darkest Sin by D.V. Bishop. This is the second book in the Cesare Aldo series and it is absolutely brilliant. My huge thanks must go to the wonderful Eva aka @noveldeelights who first introduced me to this series 🙂

This is book 19/20 in my #20booksofsummer reading challenge, and yes the final book has also been read!

The Darkest Sin is an atmospheric historical thriller by D. V. Bishop, set in Renaissance Florence and is the sequel to City of Vengeance.

Florence. Spring, 1537.

When Cesare Aldo investigates a report of intruders at a convent in the Renaissance city’s northern quarter, he enters a community divided by bitter rivalries and harbouring dark secrets.

His case becomes far more complicated when a naked man’s body is found deep inside the convent, stabbed more than two dozen times. Unthinkable as it seems, all the evidence suggests one of the nuns must be the killer.

Meanwhile, Constable Carlo Strocchi finds human remains pulled from the Arno that belong to an officer of the law missing since winter. The dead man had many enemies, but who would dare kill an official of the city’s most feared criminal court?

As Aldo and Strocchi close in on the truth, identifying the killers will prove more treacherous than either of them could ever have imagined . . . 

MY REVIEW

This is the 2nd book in the Cesare Aldo series and you really should read the first book City of Vengeance as part of this story has links to the previous. Also, the first book gives a brilliant introduction to Aldo as a person, as an investigator and also the people in the city of Florence in this time period.

Set in Florence in 1537, Aldo is asked to see about the reports of intruders but finds the body of a man in the convent of Mary Magdalen. It is inconceivable that a nun would be responsible, but how and why this has happened is something that Aldo may not even be asked to investigate in. Aldo works for the Otto, the administration of the criminal court at the time. The murder is on Church grounds and therefore not under the same jurisdiction.

Another Otto constable is looking into a missing man when he discovers a body. Constable Strocchi is a new recruit who was introduced in the first book, while he is still wet behind the ears, he does pick things up and is learning the art of dealing with the criminal and underworld elements. He is very principled, newly married and under pressure to get results.

This second book is fantastic, and while I loved the first one, this one is even better. I think this is due to the fact that I am already aware of the main characters, their roles, their personalities and traits. The does mention the cases and details of Strocchi and Aldo, but it is so much better to already know them before starting this one.

The two investigations are run separately, so the author does flit back and forth between the two. I love this as it means I am eager to return to each of the cases to see what has progressed. The cases are different in the way they are investigated, but the basics are the same. Trying to discover the leads, getting to the truth, recognise the lies and taking the time to think things over.

It was great to see Aldo and Strocchi working sep[erately as it meant I got more insight into each of the characters and also what they are thinking about. They obviously have different priorities in their lives and this is a great way of really getting under the skin of each character.

The cases are brilliantly worked out, morals and dilemmas I do love them. Putting a character in the firing line, yes I adore that as well. The author chose some interesting routes for his characters and this meant the story had a great pace, constantly evolving and throwing up different challenges.

This is a fabulous book and it definitely cements this series as one that I will definitely be keeping up with. This is one for those who like historical murder mysteries with a complex storyline that is also easy to follow when you are in the zone. I really didn’t want to put this one down and read it in two sittings.

Excellent storyline, and interesting characters, can’t wait for the next book and it is one I would absolutely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

D. V. Bishop writes the Cesare Aldo mysteries set in Renaissance Florence. The first in the series, CITY OF VENGEANCE, won the New Zealand Booklovers Award for best novel and was shortlisted for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize. Long listings include the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award, the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel, and the CWA’s Historical Dagger Award. The second Cesare Aldo mystery, THE DARKEST SIN, was published in March 2022.

Bishop was awarded a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship while writing CITY OF VENGEANCE. The novel won the Pitch Perfect competition at the 2018 Bloody Scotland international crime fiction festival and was a Sunday Times Crime Club Pick of the Week. Global bestselling author David Baldacci called the novel ‘a first-class historical thriller … a tour-de-force.’

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Windswept & Interesting: My Autobiography by Billy Connolly #Audible #audiobook #toplisten #audioreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Windswept & Interesting: My Autobiography by Billy Connolly. I grew up and was aware of this comedian and over the years I have then watched his travelogue shows.

When I saw this on Audible I knew straight away that this was the book I was going to spend my credit on this month. It was a brilliant choice and exceptional audio and one that will be on my Top Books of the Year list!

In his first full-length autobiography, comedy legend and national treasure Billy Connolly reveals the truth behind his windswept and interesting life.

Born in a tenement flat in Glasgow in 1942, orphaned by the age of 4, and a survivor of appalling abuse at the hands of his own family, Billy’s life is a remarkable story of success against all the odds.

Billy found his escape first as an apprentice welder in the shipyards of the River Clyde. Later he became a folk musician – a ‘rambling man’ – with a genuine talent for playing the banjo. But it was his ability to spin stories, tell jokes and hold an audience in the palm of his hand that truly set him apart.

As a young comedian, Billy broke all the rules. He was fearless and outspoken – willing to call out hypocrisy wherever he saw it. But his stand-up was full of warmth, humility and silliness too. His startling, hairy ‘glam-rock’ stage appearance – wearing leotards, scissor suits and banana boots – only added to his appeal.

It was an appearance on Michael Parkinson’s chat show in 1975 – and one outrageous story in particular – that catapulted Billy from cult hero to national star. TV shows, documentaries, international fame and award-winning Hollywood movies followed. Billy’s pitch-perfect stand-up comedy kept coming too – for over 50 years, in fact – until a double diagnosis of cancer and Parkinson’s Disease brought his remarkable live performances to an end. Since then he has continued making TV shows, creating extraordinary drawings… and writing.

Windswept and Interesting is Billy’s story in his own words. It is joyfully funny – stuffed full of hard-earned wisdom as well as countless digressions on fishing, farting and the joys of dancing naked. It is an unforgettable, life-affirming story of a true comedy legend.

‘I didn’t know I was Windswept and Interesting until somebody told me. It was a friend who was startlingly exotic himself. He’d just come back from Kashmir and was all billowy shirt and Indian beads. I had long hair and a beard and was swishing around in electric blue flairs.
He said: “Look at you – all windswept and interesting!”
I just said: “Exactly!”
After that, I simply had to maintain my reputation…’ 

MY REVIEW

Billy Connolly is a voice I have known of since childhood when Mum and Dad listened to his vinyl LPs, a voice I have known but at the time I didn’t really understand, probably just as well really.

Over the years Billy has been on TV chatshows, radio, Top of the Pops, in film and to be fair in most of the entertainment genres. I have read one of his previous books, it was years ago and it was one that I lent to someone who never returned it!

I decided to listen to the audiobook of this autobiography and I have to say, compared to when I heard his voice as a child, I can understand every word. I mentioned listening to this book to my mum, and the first thing she said was “could you understand him”, yes she still remembers trying to decipher the LPs, not easy especially when Billy starts laughing!

This is a man who has had an interesting life, he has travelled the world and met so many people. He is an observer of people and has taken risks and chances. Some worked some didn’t. But he is a unique man.

Listening to this book had me laughing to a point where I had to pause the book so I could compose myself and also hear what Billy was saying! He sees life slightly differently and this is what makes his improvised stand-up routines so unique.

If you want to listen to an autobiography that gets under the skin of what makes a person tick, then this one is fabulous. Billy doesn’t hide his past, he is open about his mistakes and how he has done things as well as what has affected him over the years.

This is entertaining and funny but it is also honest and a bit of an eye-opener at times. It isn’t all humour and anecdotes, as he discusses the abuse he suffered as a child. It is something that had taken many, many years for him to come to terms with and also to understand. I did also get the hardback of this and read some sections as well as listened. And yes, as I read it I could hear Billy’s voice.

Excellent listening, honest and very addictive. I would absolutely recommend it. 

Here are a couple of quotes from the book that I found on Goodreads –

“Blessed are those who yodel – for they shall never be troubled by offers of work.”
― Billy Connolly, Windswept & Interesting: My Autobiography

“I hope I’ve shown a few disbelievers that they should never discount those they think are different, disorganised or distractible.”
― Billy Connolly, Windswept & Interesting: My Autobiography

ABOUT BILLY CONNOLLY

Image is taken from Goodreads

William “Billy” Connolly, Jr., CBE is a Scottish comedian, musician, presenter and actor. He is sometimes known, especially in his native Scotland, by the nickname The Big Yin (The Big One). His first trade, in the early 1960s, was as a welder (specifically a boilermaker) in the Glasgow shipyards, but he gave it up towards the end of the decade to pursue a career as a folk singer in the Humblebums and subsequently as a soloist. In the early 1970s he made the transition from folk-singer with a comedic persona to fully-fledged comedian, a role in which he continues. He also became an actor, and has appeared in such films as Mrs. Brown (1997), for which he was nominated for a BAFTA; The Boondock Saints (1999); The Last Samurai (2003); Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004); and The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008).

It is as a stand-up comedian that Connolly is best known. His observational comedy is idiosyncratic and often off-the-cuff. He has outraged certain sectors of audiences, critics and the media with his free use of the word “fuck”. He has made jokes relating to masturbation, blasphemy, defecation, flatulence, haemorrhoids, sex, his father’s illness, his aunts’ cruelty and, in the latter stages of his career, old age (specifically his experiences of growing old). In 2007 and again in 2010, he was voted the greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups.

Connolly has been married to comedian and psychologist Pamela Stephenson since 1989. In the book Billy, and in a December 2008 online interview, Connolly states he was sexually abused by his father between the ages of 10 and 15. He believes this was a result of the Catholic Church not allowing his father to divorce after his mother left the family. Due to this, Connolly has a “deep distrust and dislike of the Catholic church and any other organization that brainwashes people”. In a 1999 interview with “The Sunday Herald” Connolly condemned the SNP as “racist” and the new Scottish parliament as a “joke”.

In November 1998, Connolly was the subject of a two-hour retrospective entitled Billy Connolly: Erect for 30 Years, which included tributes from Judi Dench, Sean Connery, Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, and Eddie Izzard. 

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No Escape by Robert Crouch @robertcrouchuk #crime #mystery #murder #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for No Escape by Robert Crouch. This is the 8th book in the Kent Fisher Mysteries series and I have loved each one. The series is brilliant as it follows Kent during his time as an Environmental Health Officer who also owns an animal sanctuary and is also a sleuth in his “spare time”. The series is best read in order as you do get a full image of Kent’s character and his life.

One reckless moment, so many lives

Gemma Dean goes missing one chilly October morning, leaving behind her phone. Texts hint at secrets far darker than Kent Fisher could ever imagine.

When a body is found in his burned-out car over a hundred miles away, murder brings the past crashing into the present with the first in a chain of painful discoveries.

Struggling to make sense of a past that threatens to devastate his future, Kent faces his most personal and challenging investigation so far.

But how will he deal with the fallout from one reckless moment that cost so many lives?

PURCHASE LINK – HERE

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE – HERE

MY REVIEW

Over the course of this series, Kent Fisher has dealt with murder and the mysteries that surround them. This latest book however brings murder and mystery to his doorstep. It leaves him questioning the past and the future especially when it is Gemma Dean that is missing.

Gemma is a character that has popped up before, Kent is smitten with her but not everyone is a fan of Gemma. Kent’s nearest and dearest offer their sympathies and are obviously worried about how Kent is dealing with the disappearance, others are not surprised. But when a body is found in his car there is obviously something more to this than a woman who has disappeared.

Turning to a personal side of this latest book, the author shares more of Kent’s past and also the enigma that is Gemma. Snippets and only a very small amount of information is known about Gemma. This leaves Kent stumbling around trying to discover more about her to see if he can find leads and also trying not to get in the way of the Investigating officers.

Having read every book in this series I liked how the author brings this more personal touch. Kent’s former job as an Environmental Health Officer gave him opportunities and access to databases. Now, he has nothing to go on as he no longer works for the EHO. Instead, he has to use his wits and a few trusted contacts to try to find any tiny details.

Seeing Kent in new circumstances was really interesting. He has become more vulnerable as he is more reliant on the information of others rather than discovering it himself. Frustration and the occasional outburst of anger are seen and again this is something that was interesting to read. I have the image of Kent as being more detached from his investigations, determined and focused, whereas now he is a little obsessive, abrupt and is taking far too many risks. This makes sense given the close nature of this mystery.

This story had a different vibe from the others, the characters are still around but the focus is well and truly on finding Gemma. The animal sanctuary is mentioned, but this does take a more understandable back seat, thank goodness he has a great group around him to keep him propped up and supported.

This was a very tense murder mystery for me, after all, it does involve one of my favourite fictional characters. The author has taken Kent on a dangerous road and there are repercussions for him and those around him. Things feel fragile as secrets and confessions are told and I am eager to see how the author deals with these as well as Kent’s next move into Private Investigator. A cracking read, one for crime, murder, and mystery readers and one I would absolutely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Do you love complex murder mysteries?

Do you enjoy a backstory and characters that develop as a series progresses?

Do you like a contemporary setting and humour?

Robert Crouch incorporates all three in his novels, drawing on his own experience in environmental health to create a sleuth for today’s world. Being neither a police officer nor a private investigator, he brings an original twist to the murder mystery genre.

To find out more please take a look at Robert’s website HERE

Or sign up for his newsletter HERE and receive a free copy of Fisher’s Fables.

Also on Twitter

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Darker Days to Come by Tony Forder @TonyJForder @lilmissmorfett #crime #thriller #policeprocedural #bookreview

I am delighted to be sharing my review for Darker Days to Come by Tony Forder. Tony is one of the authors who I will automatically read without reading a synopsis. His writing is fabulous and his Bliss series is superb.

My huge thanks to Tony and also Donna Morfett of Donna’s Interviews, Reviews and Giveaways for getting in touch for me to read and review his latest book and to join the Blog Tour. To be honest it was a no brainer to say that I would be on the tour. It is always going to be a “Yes”.

Darker Days to Come, by Tony J Forder, is the ninth full-length novel in his widely acclaimed UK crime series, based in Peterborough and featuring DI Jimmy Bliss. It will be published on 14 March 2022.

In this book, Tony veers back towards the more procedural elements of crime investigation, with the team working under enormous pressure – which only increases with every new piece of information they unearth.

DI Bliss and his team absorb two new cases which don’t initially present as major crimes.

But who is the man who stepped in front of an express train? Did he willingly commit suicide or was he coerced? And what, if any, connection is there to an abandoned vehicle whose owner cannot be traced?

As Bliss and his team dig deeper they soon realise there are three people now missing – a journalist, a mother, and her young daughter. But as the investigations continue, the team struggle with too many unanswered questions. What they do know is that lives are at risk, and the chances of finding all three still alive decrease with each passing hour… 

MY REVIEW

Having read and loved each book in this series, this one is dark. It delves into the most horrid of acts. This is the 9th book in the DI Bliss series and I would recommend reading these in order as the characters have changed so much since the first book. Also, they are each excellent books in their own right.

Let’s start with the basics of this latest book. There are two crimes, one an abandoned vehicle, the other a suicide. Neither warrant having Peterbortough’s Major Crime Unit investigating them, but both have thrown up extenuating circumstances that make the Detectives think otherwise. They have a limited time to make a case about the cases becoming part of their remit rather than being passed on to CID.

The team of Bliss, Chandler and the rest of the detectives are about to start two very complex cases. Neither one seems connected. Neither one is straightforward. Neither one is going to be an easy one to solve. And, no one on the team actually realises how the days ahead are going to become darker for them as they struggle and to discover the details of the cases.

This is such an aptly named title, in fact, all the books have very suitable titles and this one does hint at being a lot more serious than some. If you have been reading this series then you may have noticed that the crimes have been getting more severe, and to put it bluntly, more evil in nature. Credit to the author for continuing down this darker route and giving the details in an evidence-based way. By this I mean the basic facts and nothing more, and to be honest nothing more was needed.

This is also one of the more complex cases, and the author does complex in such a great way. The intriguing plots are teased and batted around and it gives a real sense of the investigators going through a more realistic procedural route. This is not a mystery, this is a thriller. The team do have a hierarchy and chain of command, but the main guys are the ones that don’t stand on ceremony, throw suggestions, discuss the merits for ideas and dismiss others. All work as a team as well as individually. This creates a great dynamic and gives a real sense of the team being close.

The answers are still piling up at the halfway point of the story, it isn’t until a little after that things start to slot into place. Now, this doesn’t mean that this is a slow start, in fact even though there doesn’t seem to be much progress there is a great pace to it. This obviously does speed up as more and more things finally start coming together. At no time did it feel rushed or that certain outcomes were expected.

I have, as I may have mentioned, really enjoyed this series. I thought the previous book was amazing, this one is just WOW!!! Hard-hitting, dangerous, time-sensitive, definitely dark and a superb read from start to finish. It is one I would absolutely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tony J Forder is the author of the bestselling DI Bliss crime thriller series. The first seven books, Bad to the Bone, The Scent of Guilt, If Fear Wins, The Reach of Shadows, The Death of Justice, Endless Silent Scream, and Slow Slicing, were joined in December 2020 by a prequel novella, Bliss Uncovered. The series continued with The Autumn Tree in May 2021.

Tony’s other early series – two action-adventure novels featuring Mike Lynch – comprises both Scream Blue Murder and Cold Winter Sun. These books were republished in April 2021, and will be joined in 2022 by The Dark Division.

In addition, Tony has written two standalone novels: a dark, psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, and a suspense thriller set in California, Fifteen Coffins.

The Huntsmen, released on 4 October 2022, was the first book in a new crime series, set in Wiltshire. It featured DS Royston Chase, DC Claire Laney, and PCSO Alison May.

Tony is in the process of moving to Sussex with his wife and is a full-time author. He is currently working on DI Bliss #10 and the second DS Chase novel.

Links
All of Tony’s links can be found on Linktree
Darker Days to Come: getbook

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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 Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield @kateheartfield @RandomTTours @fictionpubteam @HarperVoyagerUK #histfic #histfantasy #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review for The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield. This is an amazing read and is definitely one for fans of historical fiction and fantasy.

My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my gorgeous paperback of this book from the publisher Harper Voyager UK.

‘Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman,
it is a little more difficult, that’s all

1768 – Charlotte, daughter of the Habsburg Empress, arrives in Naples to marry a man she has
never met. Her sister Antoine is sent to France, and in the mirrored corridors of Versailles, they
rename her Marie Antoinette.


The sisters are alone, but they are not powerless. When they were only children, they discovered
a book of spells – spells that work, with dark and unpredictable consequences.


In a time of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, they use the book to take
control of their lives.


But every spell requires a sacrifice. And as love between the sisters turns to rivalry, they will send
Europe spiralling into revolution.

MY REVIEW

If you are looking for a historical fiction based on fact but with a fantasy reimagining to it then look no further than The Embroidered Book. This is based in Europe and concentrated on one generation of the Hapsburg family.

How does a little insignificant-looking book that has an unfinished embroidered cover lead to the rise and fall of some of the most famous monarchs of Europe? Well, this book is one that has something rather special in it and it opens up a fantastical world of magic. Where there is magic there is greed, there is the hunt for more power and not everyone has access to it, in fact, most people don’t even know that there is magic in Europe.

This story is set in the late 1700s when a young woman leaves her family and home in Austria to marry the king of France. She will have her name changed to help her fit in, she will have to change her style and her whole way of presenting herself. She will be known as Marie Antoinette. Her sister, Charlotte is her closest sibling and they have always been close. The Hapsburgs have been arranging marriages to bolster their own heritage, remain in power and always look to improve or stabilise countries through marriage. They are the power family of the time.

The author has picked such an interesting time in history, it is turbulent and there are revolutions and uprisings to come. Using this period makes the weaving of the fantasy element work so well. There is already a sense of distrust and of poverty. While the Kings and Queens of Europe are living lavish and opulent lifestyles, the common people are starving. So adding this twist into the story is just a great way of not only showing Europe at the time but of giving the reader an exciting alternative.

As this is a historical-based novel there is a lot of historical and political references to events. This has been done in a great way and is very much part of the story rather than a dry narrative. The author really brought the characters to life, rather than being figures from history she gave them thoughts, personalities and opinions. Even though this is an age of mistrust from regular people, it was also interesting to read the authors take on how the thoughts of the monarchs could have also been.

This is an absolutely fascinating read, the magical aspects are such a good inclusion and for me worked really well. The balance of it felt right within the contest so even if you are not a reader of fantasy I think you will get on well with this.

I adored this book and it ticked many, many boxes. It is riveting, exciting, mysterious, politically charged, has loads of research, a touch of magic, mistrust, infighting, double-crossing, treachery and treason, I could go on! It shows the wranglings and machinations of the powerful leading historical figures and thought it was done brilliantly. This is a book I would absolutely recommend. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Heartfield is the author of The Embroidered Book, a historical fantasy novel out in February 2022.

Her debut novel won Canada’s Aurora Award, and her novellas, stories and games have
been shortlisted for the Nebula, Locus, Crawford, Sunburst and Aurora awards. A former
journalist, Kate lives near Ottawa, Canada.

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Off Target by Eve Smith @Evecsmith @RandomTTours @OrendaBooks #dystopian #thriller #fiction #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Off Target by Eve Smith. This was a fabulous read and one that I adored. It does have a dystopian edge to it, but also it is something that has a scarily possible amount of believability to it.

My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of this book from the publisher Orenda Books.

What if your future was just one modification away?

In an all-too-possible near future, when genetic engineering has become the norm for humans, parents are prepared to take incalculable risks to ensure that their babies are perfect – altering genes that may cause illness, and more…


Susan has been trying for a baby for years, and when an impulsive one-night stand makes her dream come true, she’ll do anything to keep her daughter and ensure her husband doesn’t find out … including the unthinkable.

She believes her secret is safe. For now. But as governments embark on a perilous genetic arms race and children around the globe start experiencing a host of distressing symptoms – even taking their
own lives – something truly horrendous is unleashed. Because those children have only one thing in common, and people are starting to ask questions…


Critically acclaimed bestseller Eve Smith returns with a terrifying, cautionary glimpse of what the future may hold, with a startlingly thought-provoking blockbuster of a thriller
.

MY REVIEW

Off Target is a near-future dystopian thriller that had me hooked. This is a story that is so thought-provoking and in some ways, there are basics of this book that do actually happen. If you could have therapy to remove a gene to prevent your child from developing a serious, fatal or debilitating disease would you go through with it? This is a very basic premise of this book, the route the author took is one that had me hooked as she weaves some serious effects, opinions, outcomes and points of view in this book.

After trying for years to fall pregnant, it turns out a one-night stand was all it would take for Susan to finally conceive. She knows her husband Steve is not going to be supportive of this, well who would be! But changing the DNA so that all the tests come back as the baby is Steve’s is something that is an option in the world that the author has created.

This is a book that absolutely hit me from the first few pages. Changing something is good but changing something that is fundamentally a part of who you are is an entirely different matter. This futuristic world has many advancements, some of these are legal, but with all things legal there are also illegal processes.

For me, the author sets up this story so well, introducing you to the characters, their problems and how things are for those desperate to have a child. The author gives differing opinions, perspectives and viewpoints. She also deals with moral dilemmas as well as ethical ones. All this was incorporated into an absolutely riveting read.

Once the author has her hooks into me, she then turned up the pressure taking a darker and more serious line. It felt like a butterfly effect, where if you change one thing it will affect something else along the way somewhere.

This is a story that is a, WOW!, story, it isn’t that far fetched as you think as some things are already occurring and a quick look on the internet will soon give examples. I must admit I didn’t stray too far on the net because there are many conspiracy theories out there. But, it is an eye-opener all the same.

WHat the author has achieved with this book is to give an insight into a moral and ethical dilemma between her characters. Right or wrong is going to be something the reader will decide on as they read. It certainly makes for some interesting thoughts as I finished the book.

Brilliant story, addictive, insightful, balanced and just so damned good to read and I would absolutely recommend it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eve Smith writes speculative fiction – mainly about the things that scare her – which she attributes to a childhood watching Tales of the Unexpected and black-and-white Edgar Allen Poe double bills. Previously COO of an environmental charity, she has an ongoing passion for wild creatures, wild science and far-flung places. Twitter @evecsmith; Instagram: evesmithauthor; Facebook: EveSmithAuthor and http://www.evesmithauthor.com.

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The Gathering Storm – (The Sturmtaucher Trilogy #1) by Alan Jones @alanjonesbooks #TheGatheringStorm #histfic #mustread #bookreview

I am absolutely delighted to share my review today for an amazing book. The Gathering Storm – (The Sturmtaucher Trilogy #1) by Alan Jones is a book that has completely blown me away. If you have an interest in history and historical fiction in the lead up to WWII in Germany, then you really do want to look this book up. It is a book I cannot recommend highly enough.

Book 1 in the Sturmtaucher Trilogy: a powerful and compelling story of two families torn apart by evil.

‘Kiel, Northern Germany, 1933. A naval city, the base for the German Baltic fleet, and the centre for German sailing, the venue for the upcoming Olympic regatta in 1936.

The Kästners, a prominent Military family, are part of the fabric of the city, and its social, naval and yachting circles. The Nussbaums are the second generation of their family to be in service with the Kästners as domestic staff, but the two households have a closer bond than most.

As Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist Party claw their way to power in 1933, life has never looked better for families like the Kästners. There is only one problem.

The Nussbaums are Jews.

The Sturmtaucher Trilogy documents the devastating effect on both families of the Nazis’ hateful ideology and the insidious erosion of the rights of Germany’s Jews.

When Germany descends ever deeper into dictatorship, General Erich Kästner tries desperately to protect his employees, and to spirit them to safety.

As the country tears itself apart, the darkness which envelops a nation threatens not only to destroy two families, but to plunge an entire continent into war.’

You can buy a copy of this brilliant book HERE – at the time of writing up this post, the book is at a ridiculously low price!!

My Review…

Since finishing this book two days ago, I am only now ready to pick up another book. The Gathering Storm is an amazing read, it has left me desperate to continue the other two books in this trilogy.

I have read books from different perspectives of World War II, but I think this is the first time I have come across a book that explores various different perspectives and that has so much excellent research.

The story begins in the years prior to the start of the war. Hitler is only just coming back into the public eye. He is making some speeches that are catching peoples attention. At this point, he is focusing on Germany’s lost power and how the Treaty of Versailles has made life for those living in Germany harder than it should be. Obviously being based on history, we know where the story is heading.

The Kastner’s are a German family, they have a good social standing. Erich is a respected General and his wife moves in favourable social circles. Their three children have good educations and have promising futures. They employ a German family to help with the house, children and domestics. The Nussbaum’s have been with the Kastner’s for two generations, they are German Jews.

As Hitler’s National Social Party garner more support the story and the perspectives really come into their own. Not all German’s are with Hitler and his subtle indoctrinated messages, others eye the changes with a critical and sceptical eye. No one at this point really understands what will happen in the coming years.

This is such an amazing book to read, I have read it over several days as I wanted to be able to absorb it properly rather than just race through it. This has meant the books has nagged at me and got under my skin. There are obvious emotions that I felt with the book, the obvious disbelief that people will blindly follow and completely change because someone has the ability to talk them into it. The obvious horror as living conditions and lives change. The profiteering from the pain and suffering of others and also the dictatorial direction the country was going in.

I realise that I have not spoken too much about the story, but I sincerely believe that this is a book that the synopsis that does a great job of doing what it is supposed to do. It worked so well for me, the synopsis lured me in and the author took up the reins and led me into the lives of the two main families. A story that shows different perspectives, treatments, living conditions, and how one man could bring so much destruction, distrust and abhorrent behaviours out.

This is a stunning book that I cannot recommend highly enough. If you have an interest in history, WWII, The Holocaust, and persecution then you really need to pick this one up. It is a fabulous and important story that at 800 pages long was simply an amazing read. It absolutely blew me away!

About the Author…

Alan Jones is a Scottish author with three gritty crime stories to his name, the first two set in Glasgow, the third one based in London. He has now switched genres, and his WW2 trilogy will be published from August to December 2021. It is a Holocaust story set in Northern Germany.


He is married with four grown up children and four wonderful grandchildren.


He has recently retired as a mixed-practice vet in a small Scottish coastal town in Ayrshire and is one of the coxswains on the local RNLI lifeboat. He makes furniture in his spare time, and maintains and sails a 45-year-old yacht, cruising in the Irish Sea and on the beautiful west coast of Scotland. He loves reading, watching films and cooking. He still plays football despite being just the wrong side of sixty.


His crime novels are not for the faint-hearted, with some strong language, violence, and various degrees of sexual content. The first two books also contain a fair smattering of Glasgow slang.


He is one of the few self-published authors to be given a panel at the Bloody Scotland crime fiction festival in Stirling and has done two pop-up book launches at previous festivals.


He has spent the last five years researching and writing the Sturmtaucher Trilogy.


To find out more, please visit his WEBSITE TWITTER

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The Fall of Koli by M.R. Carey @michaelcarey191 @Tr4cyF3nt0n #compulsivereaders @orbitbooks #fantasy #dystopian #bookreview

I am absolutely delighted to share my review today for The Fall of Koli by M.R. Carey. I am also gutted that this is the final book in The Rampart Trilogy.

My huge thanks to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my book with the publisher Orbit Books.

The Fall of Koli is the third and final novel in the breathtakingly original Rampart trilogy – set in a strange and deadly world of our own making.

The world that is lost will come back to haunt us . . .

Koli has come a long way since being exiled from his small village of Mythen Rood. In his search for the fabled tech of the old times, he knew he’d be battling strange, terrible beasts and trees that move as fast as whips. But he has already encountered so much more than he bargained for.

Now that Koli and his companions have found the source of the signal they’ve been following – the mysterious “Sword of Albion” – there is hope that their perilous journey will finally be worth something.

Until they unearth terrifying truths about an ancient war . . . and realise that it may have never ended.

My Review…


The Fall of Koli is the final book in the trilogy and as much as I was eager to read it there is also a sadness knowing this is it.

Having previously read and loved the first two books I didn’t even think about reading the synopsis before I began. The title gives an indication that the story is coming to an end, but how that end is arrived at was something that I was strangely nervous about.

If you have read the previous books then you know that this is set in the future, it has several characters that join the main character Koli. Koli is an exile from his village and has to survive the wilderness. Not your average forest, this one has trees and plants that are as fierce and carnivorous as wild animals.

While Koli is making his journey, the village he has left behind has not been forgotten by the author. Spinner’s character is used skillfully to keep the reader up to date with what is happening in Mythen Rood.

The world the author has created is one that is full of awe, wonder and danger. Old technology is prized, even more so if it still works. One piece of tech is Monono. There are also weapons and medical equipment.

The final book sees the author filling in gaps, linking stories and also going back to finally give the reader the full picture. Explanations about some of the tech, what a strange signal is and also to give such a wonderful conclusion.

I am aware that this review may be vague, but if you have not read the previous books then there should be no spoilers.

M.R. Carey has created a world of characters having adventures that I adored. Each book has been an addictive read, from building blocks of the first book, through to more explanations and travels in the second until the final stunning conclusion of the final one.

An absolutely amazing trilogy from start to finish and it is one I would very absolutely recommend to those who like dystopian and fantasy genres.

About the Author…

M.R. Carey

Mike Carey is the acclaimed writer of Lucifer and Hellblazer (now filmed as Constantine). He has recently completed a comics adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, and is the current writer on Marvel’s X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four. He has also written the screenplay for a movie, Frost Flowers, which is soon to be produced by Hadaly Films and Bluestar Pictures.

Also writes as Mike Carey 

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Here are all three books in all of their gorgeous-ness

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Hydra by Matt Wesolowski #murdermystery #crimethriller #Hydra #SixStories #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Hydra by Matt Wesolowski. I have all of this authors Six Stories Series of books and I thought it was about time to catch up with them. I listened to the first book in the series and it worked brilliantly as an Audio, so how would I get on with reading Hydra, the second book?

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A family massacre
A deluded murderess
Five witnesses
Six stories
Which one is true?

One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north west of England, 21-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the Macleod Massacre.

Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation.

King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out.

As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden ‘games’, online trolls, and the mysterious black-eyed kids, whose presence seems to extend far beyond the delusions of a murderess…

Dark, chilling and gripping, Hydra is both a classic murder mystery and an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller, that shines light in places you may never, ever want to see again.

My Review…

I am stunned, in shock and have been left reeling after just finishing Hydra, the second book in the Six Stories series.

You know when you get towards the end of a story and suddenly there is that moment when the penny drops and things just suddenly fall into place? Well, this author didn’t just let a penny drop, he dropped the whole of the Royal Mint!!!! Talk about a brilliant ending or what?

Let me backtrack a moment… this is the second book in a series that is a podcast transcript format of a fictional true crime that is told via six voices of those who have some connection to the crime that was committed.

The crime is of the murder of a mum, stepdad and daughter. The perpetrator has been caught and is in a psychiatric facility, she is the elder daughter of the family.

The author weaves so a deliciously deep and addictive story about a young girl who has not had the best upbringing. As she enters her teens, she rebels. The story gradually goes into more detail about the rebellion and also attempts to identify the causes through the accounts of others. The podcast is run by Scott King, he interviews and hosts his podcast to allow people to make up their own minds rather than give people the answers.

I loved the format of these books, yes it is a podcast, but it is like you are reading a simplified transcript version. This makes it so much easier for reading and to allow the full story to flow. I listened to the first book and was intrigued as to how I would get on with it as an actual book, I have to say it works brilliantly.

The author sy=tarts with what appears to be a straightforward crime, I say straight-forward because the case has been to court and the murderer has been given a sentence. What the author now does is to start adding doubt, this comes through the witness accounts. While for the most part, they do come across as being good accounts, there is something that each one appears to hold back. This leads to doubt, mistrust and more questions than answers at some points.

The ending, however, well, wow! I am so glad I had my kindle on the table otherwise it would have gone into orbit! Sat there reading away, I was, then suddenly both arms were flung up in the air, imagine a one-woman Mexican wave… yeah that was me! I do believe a few unmentionable words may have been uttered!

This is a totally brilliant and addictive read and I cannot believe it has taken me this long to pick up this book. I do actually have all of the books in the series they just seem to have trickled down the reading pile. This is a book for those who love crime, mystery and thriller reads and that also have quite a strong psychological vibe to them. There is so much more to the story than I have divulged here and it is one I would absolutely recommend.

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