So Pretty by Ronnie Turner @Ronnie_Turner #SoPretty @RandomTTours @OrendaBooks #thriller #psychological #mystery #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for So Pretty by Ronnie Turner. I read this book before Christmas and adored its eerie atmosphere. This book also became one of my Top Reads of 2022! Also, I really have to mention the cover of this book 😱 it is insanely appropriate!

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

The arrival of a young man in a small town sparks, hoping to leave his past behind him, but everything changes when he takes a job in a peculiar old shop, and meets a lonely single mother… A hypnotic gothic thriller and a mesmerising study of identity and obsession.

When Teddy Colne arrives in the small town of Rye, he believes he will be able to settle down and leave his past behind him. Little does he know that fear blisters through the streets like a fever. The locals tell him to stay away from an establishment known only as Berry & Vincent, that those who rub too closely to its proprietor risk a bad end.

Despite their warnings, Teddy is desperate to understand why Rye has come to fear this one man and to see what really hides behind the doors of his shop.

Ada moved to Rye with her young son to escape a damaged childhood and years of never fitting in, but she’s lonely and ostracised by the community. Ada is ripe for affection and friendship, and everyone knows it.

As old secrets bleed out into this town, so too will a mystery about a family who vanished fifty years earlier, and a community living on a knife edge.

Teddy looks for answers, thinking he is safe, but some truths are better left undisturbed, and his past will find him here, just as it has always found him before. And before long, it will find Ada too.

MY REVIEW

Oh My Goodness!!! What an amazing book this was. The author started with one thing then it gradually morphed into something so much darker than I ever expected, all in a very, very good way I must add.

This story is about two people and the chapters alternate between the two of them. Ada is a single mother and lives in Rye, never quite fitting into this small and clique-ridden village. She is always polite but always on the edge of things.

Teddy arrives and gets a job in an old curiosity/ knick-knack/ random things and objects shop. The owner is a bizarre man, to say the least, he doesn’t speak, he hasn’t interviewed Teddy and seems to lurk in the shadows.

It is natural that these two lonely people should meet and become friends. But there are warnings for Teddy about the shop and of things that may have happened in the past. Ada is aware that something has happened, she doesn’t know the full story though.

This is a remarkable book to read, it is a story that feels frantic at times with the emotions of the characters tumbling across the pages. Then there are quieter, more considered and slower breathing spaces where the author describes this sinister shop and the curios within its doors and behind the windows.

The shop is one of those weird and wonderful places full of things you would expect to see in one of those old museums that is hidden on a back street somewhere. In fact, this place sort of reminded me of a curious and wonderfully bizarre museum I visited on holiday in Ilfracombe in Devon. A place where there are drawers of insects, jars of animal parts and yes even shrunken heads! For me, this book brought memories of some of the objects I had seen, but then the author so brilliantly added a dark and atmospheric air to her story. This at times felt incredibly creepy, sinister and macabre.

The way emotions of the characters and also the way she has made the shop a character in its own right are fabulous. There is a wonderful, almost lyrical way to her writing at times and this almost lulls the reader into a false sense of security.

The storyline itself,m well that is something that I didn’t expect, well I say that, but I did have a feeling where things may go but definitely not to the extent they did.

This is a brilliant book and it is one that I adored from the first pages to the very last. A tense, mysterious thriller that had me hooked. An amazing book and one that I would absolutely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ronnie Turner grew up in Cornwall, the youngest in a large family. At an early age,
she discovered a love of literature and dreamed of being a published author.
Ronnie now lives in the South West with her family and three dogs. In her spare
time, she reviews books on her blog and enjoys long walks on the coast. Ronnie is
a Waterstones Senior Bookseller and a barista, and her youth belies her
exceptional, highly unusual talent.

Check out the other stops on the Blog Tour…

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They Lie Here by NS Ford @nsfordwriter #mystery #thriller#suspense #fiction #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for They Lie Here by NS Ford. This Author is also a fabulous Book Blogger who I follow and I am always intrigued and interested by her book selections and reviews. It was an easy thing for me to agree to read her 2nd book when she kindly got in touch. When I read it, I had not even seen a synopsis. It is as I wrote my review that I realised how clever this title was!

This book is due for Publication tomorrow, so I would like to take the opportunity to wish you a wonderful Publication Day 🙂 xx

TWO MYSTERIES. ONE CITY. MANY LIES.

Kat Green has made a career out of tracking down reclusive former celebrities. When she moves to the quaint English city of Waelminster, she’s on the trail of enigmatic pop star Roskoe Darke, of the band Scorpio Hearts. He hasn’t been heard of since 1985, but she’s confident she’ll find him. However, as the clues become more bizarre and sinister, Kat has to confront the darkness of her own past. Who can she trust when everyone is hiding the truth?

MY REVIEW

After reading this author’s first book I was definitely looking forward to this second one. They Lie Here is such an addictive read and I did read this without looking at the synopsis, I only read that as I think about writing this review.

The synopsis is short and snappy and now I look at it I realise how it gives very little away. It does however have enough to suggest a mystery and secrets from the past.

The story is about Kat, and she has a very isolated life, she constantly moves as she goes from story to story. She researches each of her stories and her latest one is the whereabouts of Roskoe Darke, a member of an 80s band. He mysteriously disappeared and has not been seen, there have been several suggestions as to what happened and some of these do sound plausible. Kat, however, decides to dig deeper.

I adored how this started as a very interesting mystery about a disappearance, but after several chapters, this morphs into something more than I originally expected. Kat is a character who I really liked, a loner who fixates on one project at a time. But what is it about her past that will have relevance to the current timeline of her story? Well, I could tell you but then I would spoil the story so you are going to have to read it for yourself. I didn’t see this twist coming in the story, so it was a huge revelation.

As for what happened to the missing Roskoe, well again I never saw that one either. This was a little different to what I expected but it worked really well. The author injected a clever little side step and it was one that turned this into a much darker and more sinister story.

There are a few characters in this book, enough for the story but not any bystanders. Each of the characters has a purpose and I was never aware of just how or what the purpose was.

The story flits between the 1980s and present-day and this means you keep up to date with the present story while being given details and things from the past to give a larger overall picture. How the two timelines come together was something that I never saw, a lot of the plots and twists, I never saw until the author was ready to let me in on her secrets.

Secrets are quite a large part of this story and as they emerge I started to realise how cleverly the author has played out her storyline. Not all is as it seems with any part of the story, especially with the characters and this adds to the sense of suspicion.

This was a brilliant thriller that has a great mystery and suspense element to it, a great storyline and a wonderful set of interesting and different characters. I adored this book a huge amount, a one-sitting read for me and it is one I would absolutely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

N S Ford is a book fanatic, blogger and cat lover who lives in the UK with her family. She has a First Class degree in English. When not reading or blogging, she juggles her writing time with parenting, working in heritage and playing the piano. She is the author of two cross-genre psychological thrillers, ‘We Watch You’ and ‘They Lie Here’.

Find her on Twitter or her Website

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

The Botanist by M.W. Craven #crime, #thriller #psychological #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Botanist by M.W. Craven. This is the 5th book in the Washington Poe series and as with all the other books, I adored this one.

Any regulars to my Blog may be aware that I am prone to read books in a series out of order. It is sometimes because it’s a book that I have seen on NetGalley and requested or it has caught my eye as part of a Blog Tour.

The Washington Poe series I have followed from the start and each book has been read in order. Yep, I am very proud of myself 🙂

‘I swear I’m one bad mood away from calling it black magic and going home . . .’

Detective Sergeant Washington Poe can count on one hand the number of friends he has. And he’d still have his thumb left. There’s the insanely brilliant, guilelessly innocent civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw of course. He’s known his beleaguered boss, Detective Inspector Stephanie Flynn for years as he has his nearest neighbour, full-time shepherd/part-time dog sitter, Victoria.

And then there’s Estelle Doyle. It’s true the caustic pathologist has never walked down the sunny side of the street but this time has she gone too far? Shot twice in the head, her father’s murder appears to be an open and shut case. Estelle has firearms discharge residue on her hands, and, in a house surrounded by fresh snow, hers are the only footprints going in. Since her arrest, she’s only said three words: ‘Tell Washington Poe.’

Meanwhile, a poisoner the press has dubbed the Botanist is sending high-profile celebrities poems and pressed flowers. The killer seems to be able to walk through walls and, despite the advance notice he gives his victims, and regardless of the security measures the police take, he seems to be able to kill with impunity.

For a man who hates locked room mysteries, this is going to be the longest week of Washington Poe’s life . . . 

MY REVIEW

This is yet another fantastic book in the Washington Poe series, to be honest though, I wouldn’t expect anything less. These books can be read as standalones, but to get a real sense of the working relationship between Poe, Tilly, Doyle and Flynn you really need to have started this from the beginning. And, also because they are great books.

This starts from an odd place and is very far from Cumbria. The author gives a quick prologue before returning back to what is the start of the case. In fact, there are not one but two cases in this story. One involves the arrest of Estelle Doyle, the teams go to a pathologist as she has just been arrested for murdering her father. Then there is the case, well it is more than one case, of people being poisoned.

With Poe trying to be in two places at one time, something is going to have to give. Wanting to be there for his friend and colleague Doyle is great but also too personal and it doesn’t look good when he is seen visiting Doyle in prison when someone who he is supposed to be protecting dies. Realising he has to prioritise his focus he again looks at the poisoning cases.

The dynamics between Poe and Tilly have become legendary in this series, if you have read them from the beginning then you will know what I mean. But there are also the dynamics of Flynn and Doyle that are also part of this great crime-busting outfit. Flynn is responsible for keeping things within the law and getting requests signed off, Tilly is the tech genius, Doyle is the Pathologist and Poe is usually the one they are all keeping an eye on to make sure he does wander too far off course. Together they all bring something special. Over the course of the books, this team have become a family and they will fight for each other.

Having two cases, one looking like a locked-room mystery and the other one that is leaving them playing catch up with the killer always ahead of them. Even with their combined expertise, this would be tough, but without having input from Doyle, things are even tougher.

The poisoner is clever, plans well, thinks out the scenarios and is not compulsive. It seems he has thought of everything. He is being talked about and tweeted about and people are noticing him.

The author really has done an amazing job with this story. Again it is complex and compulsive reading. There are mentions of tech, biology and other specialist stuff but it isn’t too over the top. Thank goodness things have to be basic for Poe to understand or else there would be a few confused readers as well!

With time being a crucial part of this story, the pacing is fast and the author conveys this through his characters so well. He shows their frustrations and occasionally odd outburst. Even in the midst of this tense and highly charged investigation, there are some amazing one-liners, these are perfect for defusing stress and tension, and are usually courtesy of Tilly.

If you have not read any of the books in this series then you really are missing out on some wonderful top-rate crime thrillers. The series just gets better and better with so many twists and unexpected events. I never read the synopsis for a Washington Poe book I just buy it.

Ideal for those who love twisted, complex and totally addictive thrillers and one I would absolutely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

M. W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, running away to join the army at the tender age of sixteen. He spent the next ten years travelling the world having fun, leaving in 1995 to complete a degree in social work with specialisms in criminology and substance misuse. Thirty-one years after leaving Cumbria, he returned to take up a probation officer position in Whitehaven, eventually working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later he took the plunge, accepted redundancy and became a full-time author. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals . . .

M. W. Craven is married and lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne. When he isn’t out with his springer spaniel, or talking nonsense in the pub, he can usually be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.

You can find out more on his Goodreads Author Page.

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

The Empire by Michael Ball @mrmichaelball @rararesources @ZaffreBooks #historicalfiction #romance #NetGalley #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Empire by Michael Ball… yes that Michael Ball! This is a fabulous debut novel that I adored and I was so lucky to have got a spot on the Blog Tour for this book.

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

Welcome to The Empire Theatre

1922. When Jack Treadwell arrives at The Empire, in the middle of a rehearsal, he is instantly mesmerised. But amid the glitz and glamour, he soon learns that the true magic of the theatre lies in its cast of characters – both on stage and behind the scenes.

There’s stunning starlet Stella Stanmore and Hollywood heartthrob Lancelot Drake; and Ruby Rowntree, who keeps the music playing, while Lady Lillian Lassiter, theatre owner and former showgirl, is determined to take on a bigger role. And then there’s cool, competent Grace Hawkins, without whom the show would never go on . . . could she be the leading lady Jack is looking for?

When long-held rivalries threaten The Empire’s future, tensions rise along with the curtain. There is treachery at the heart of the company and a shocking secret waiting in the wings. Can Jack discover the truth before it’s too late, and the theatre he loves goes dark?

Musical theatre legend Michael Ball brings his trademark warmth, wit and glamour to this, his debut novel.

Enjoy the show!

Purchase Links – AMAZON UK US

MY REVIEW

I really didn’t know what to expect when I first saw this book, and I only glanced at the synopsis to know it was one I wanted to read. The author has trod the boards of theatres around the world and so it makes sense that his first book would be set in a theatre.

The Empire is a theatre that has pretty much been left to its own devices. It is owned by the Lassiters, but neither really seems to take a huge amount of interest. The day-to-day running is done by Grace, a young woman with a passion for theatre. Not officially in charge, but knows that she needs to organise things to keep it running. The behind-the-scenes crew go about doing what they need to. When Jack is told to go and see Mrs Lassiter for a job it is Grace who he sees. Mrs Lassiter is in the US still in the morning over the death of her husband. As there seems to be no one really paying attention to the Empire, it seems that another businessman sees an opportunity to take advantage.

The author brings his passion for theatre, musicals and variety to every page of this wonderful novel. There are stories within stories and some real mysteries that are wonderfully woven into this tale of family disagreement, rivalry and blackmail. Underneath all of this though is the dogged determination of those who do not want to go down without a fight. It is their stubbornness and belief that gives magic to this story. They add glamour and glitz if you like.

While this is a story about grief and getting on with your life it is also about accepting mistakes from your past. There are a few juicy little secrets that the author has snuck into this story and it is one that had me hooked from the very first pages.

As well as the story of The Empire, this is also a story about certain characters as well. It is the everyday lives and working relationships of those who work in the theatre. They are a family and they have close bonds and therefore loyalties. This is something that I adored, as the author took me through the mazes behind the scenes, to the offices, the foyers, the dressing rooms and the stage.

The story has a bit of everything in it, so it is a romance, a mystery, it has loss and regret and hope for the future. Set between the wars in the 1920s this has the glamour and glitz of the music hall and variety shows. This is where the author really did work his magic so well. There were several times when I got goosebumps reading this book. Whether it be the cast getting a scene right, someone singing and dancing at an unexpected moment or when the cue for the show is called. The emotions and feelings that this book oozed were spo0t on for me.

This is a fabulous story and one that I really adored. It has the razzmatazz and the glamour, it also has the shady and the undesirable, but all the way through this story the feeling of “the show must go on” is one that resonated with me. No matter what the pitfalls there is always something to work toward, whether it is in the belief of others around you or accepting that you are capable of being successful, there is always a glimmer of the possible.

This a fabulous debut novel from someone who knows the industry, the history, the backstage and centre stage of theatres. A time when Jazz was making its way across the Atlantic and the roaring 20s was making itself heard. It is an addictive story and one I would absolutely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Ball OBE is a singer, actor, presenter and now author. He’s been a star of musical theatre for over three decades, winning the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical twice, he’s also won two BRIT awards and been nominated for a Grammy. Michael regularly sells out both his solo tours and his Ball & Boe shows with Alfie Boe and has multiple platinum albums. The Empire is his first novel.


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Everybody Pays by H. Max Hiller @HMaxHiller1 #crime #policeprocedural #mystery #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Everybody Pays by H. Max Hiller. I adore this author’s Cadillac Holland series and this latest one is the 6th and is my latest favourite. This is a series that I do think is better to read in order as you do get the background on the various regular characters.

Detective Cadillac Holland finds himself performing a dangerous dance, staying a step behind a mobster’s missing diaries and a step ahead of the criminal factions who want them.

Marion ‘Sunset’ Puglisi’s diaries go missing on the eve of the mobster’s release from prison and place Detective Holland in the middle of a brewing gang war between the remnants of New Orleans’ Italian mobsters and outside criminal factions, which includes the nearby Dixie Mafia and an ambitious Russian gangster.
Everyone is prepared to pay whatever it costs to possess the diaries, and even Detective Holland finds the price higher than he expects.

MY REVIEW

This is the 6th book in the Detective Cadillac Holland series and I have read and loved each one. This series just goes from strength to strength and this time around the author has really upped the stakes for Cadillac, Tulip, Katie and Tony.

This is a series that I would definitely recommend reading in order as it sets out the relationships between the four I have mentioned above.

When Sunset is released on parole there is something fishy about it. The rumour is that Sunset has diaries that go back several decades. These diaries could end the careers of politicians, police, and lawyers and also end their lives as well as the lives of some local mob guys as well. This book is set deeply in the world of mobsters, gangsters, criminals and pretty much the worst of the worst. Not happy just having one mobster, the author brings in several along with their lawyers and various agencies such as local police, and the FBI. Now with this mix you know there is going to be at least one or two that are going to let the chance of gaining more power, respect and money got to their heads. It seems to me that pretty much everyone has something that they need to keep secret and so the race is on to find the diaries and discover how they can be used.

Oh my goodness the author really has upped the stakes on this story. There are so many different threads with this book, I did lose myself a couple of times, but found myself back on track as I kept reading. The twists in the story just keep coming and I think the author has done an amazing job of keeping them separate until they are needed to join up[, and when they do… well it comes with a Wow!

Having Cadillac and Tony with their pasts, and then bringing them back into play again was a good move. It adds a little more detail and jogs the memory as to who Tony was and what he is capable of. Luckily having two supportive women with Tulip and Katie, the men do have the expert advice to work their way through any legal problems, they also try to keep the men on the right track. Not always successfully.

This is such a tense story and one that really kept me hooked. It does go into the pasts of some characters and others are brought to the front. As I read this I knew I was never going to see how it was going to end. As there are a few players in this book, they need their own endings. Once again the author brought them successfully and convincingly to where they needed to be.

I do think this series gets better. I do love the inclusion of food, this is one of the author’s passions and it is great to see one of his interests getting a mention.

This is a complex story and case for Cadillac, and it really stretches him on a professional and personal level. It also involves his family as well as his friends and for some, it may actually be a step too far for them. The title is very apt for this book as Everybody does pay in one form or another.

Cracking story and if you like crime thrillers then this is a series you really do need on your radar. Set in New Orleans and full of references to food, districts and streets that tantalise the tastebuds as well as building a vivid image of the area. The author’s knowledge of the area really does shine through, he has his characters running back alleys and shortcuts in their quest for the truth. This is a brilliant series and this latest book is amazing. It is one I would absolutely recommend. Expect to see this on my Top Reads of the Year list!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Image and info are taken from Authors Amazon Page.

H. Max Hiller’s restaurant hospitality career began with a cooking job on Bourbon Street at the age of seventeen. His resume now includes many of New Orleans’ iconic dining and music destinations. Max uses a lifetime of characters and anecdotes to add depth to his Detective Cooter Holland series. He now divides his time writing between his home overlooking the Mississippi River and working as a chef aboard a boat travelling America’s inland waterways.

Social Media Links – Twitter Facebook Amazon Author Page

Indies United Publishing House Author Page

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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

Check out the other stops on the Blog Tour

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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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