Malice by John Gwynne #Review

I am so delighted to be sharing my review today for Malice by John Gwynn.

If you are after starting an epic fantasy series then you definitley need to cast your eyes to this The Faithful & The Fallen series. Malice is the first book.

The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed in battle. An uneasy peace reigns, but now giants stir once more, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of gigantic worms. Those who can still read the signs see a prophecy realised: sorrow will darken the world, as angels and demons make it their battlefield. 

Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors and yearns to join them, determined that he will make his family proud. It is only when everything he knows is threatened that he discovers the true cost of becoming a man.

As the Kings look to their borders, and priests beg answers from the Gods, only a chosen few know that the fate of the world will be decided between two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. And with their coming will be a war to end all wars.

This is a great lump of a lump at 672 pages long and I have to say it was brilliant!

It is told in quick chapters that alternate between the main characters. There is quite a large cast that consists of various Kings, Queens, warriors, knights the list goes on and seems to include people from every walk of life. Rulers of the lands to the stable boy and all manner of others in between.

With this large cast, it would easy to think that it would be confusing to remember them all, this is definitely not the case. The author has created characters that are memorable for so many different reasons. Some are more intriguing than others, some are kind and others are mysterious.

With this being the first in what I think will be an absolute belter of a series, there is some brief history in the prologue to start the scene setting. This is then built upon in a wonderfully paced and totally gripping story. I did take my time with this book as I felt it required a little more concentration, but the further I got the more I could relax as I started to get the plots, characters and general feel of the story in my head.

I loved the setting of this story and map at the beginning was helpful. It made it easier for me to understand the placing of the various parts of the Banished Lands.

The story is EPIC! There are alliances that are not exactly set in stone. Loyalties can lie with whoever looks more likely to win, though not everyone is power mad and has questionable morals. It can be the most unlikely that show the most courage. These are the ones that just carry on the best they can, doing what is expected, trying to stay out of trouble!

With the threat of a prophesied God Was looming there are those who look for signs, they try to interpret them trying to get the upper hand. Others are hunting down and laying claim to ancient relics. It is an age-old battle for ultimate power. These struggles lead to skirmishes that then lead to bloodthirsty battles, they separate families and cost lives.

Oh my… I am waffling so much about this book and seem to be getting nowhere! I am trying to explain who bloody good this book is without giving details away…

Back to basics… John Gwynne has created a truly brilliant story. It is detailed and so absorbing, and even though it did require concentration, I loved everything about it. Quick chapters gave a quick pace. It has things that occur in everyday life for those who live in the Banished Lands and epic bloody skirmishes and battles. There are feuds, quests, vendettas and so, so much more.

If you like fantasy reads then you will love this one. I cannot wait to read the rest of the series as there are so many things that I want to know more about.

Would I recommend Malice? Well, absolutely I would!

Many thanks fo reading my post, a like or share would be brilliant 🙂 xx

Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow @MatthewCrow @annecater #Review

I am delighted to be sharing my review for Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow with you today. I was lucky to win a copy of this book on a Giveaway run by the fabulous Anne Cater on her blog at Random Things Through My Letterbox.

Let me tell you a story, about a man I knew, and a man I know…

Mr Baxter is ninety-four years old when he falls down his staircase and grudgily finds himself resident at Melrose Gardens Retirement Home.

Baxter is many things – raconteur, retired music teacher, rabble-rouser, bon viveur – but ‘good patient’ he is not. He had every intention of living his twilight years with wine, music and revelry; not tea, telly and Tramadol. Indeed, Melrose Gardens is his worst nightmare – until he meets Gregory.

At only nineteen years of age, Greg has suffered a loss so heavy that he is in danger of giving up on life before he even gets going.

Determined to save the boy, Baxter decides to enlist his help on a mission to pay tribute to his long-lost love, Thomas: the man with whom he found true happiness; the man he waved off to fight in a senseless war; the man who never returned. The best man he ever knew.

With Gregory in tow Baxter sets out on a spirited escape from Melrose, bound for the war graves of Northern France. As Baxter shares his memories, the boy starts to see that life need not be a matter of mere endurance; that the world is huge and beautiful; that kindness is strength; and that the only way to honour the dead, is to live.

Baxter’s Requiem is a glorious celebration of life, love and seizing every last second we have while we’re here.

What a stunning book Baxter’s Requiem is! Meeting the character that is Baxter was memorable. A grumpy old man on the outside but with a wonderful wit and a huge heart on the inside! Greg is again another wonderful character, he is quiet and withdrawn in an almost moody way. With over 70 years separating these two there are bound to be differences but, actually not that many!

Both Greg and Baxter have personal stories in them. They are kept close and they almost protect them from the outside world. They are precious memories that they have built up and I can understand this almost secretive shield they have around them.

When Baxter and Greg meet it is at the care home that Baxter has been sent to recover from a fall. Baxter sees Greg as something more than quiet and withdrawn, he sees sorrow and pain. Baxter believes that he can help Greg somehow and so the process of building up a friendship and a bond begins.

It is not only Greg that needs help, Baxter does from a care point, but Baxter has something else in mind. He wants desperatley to go to France, it is something that means so much to him. So without realsining it Greg needs Baxter to help him to be able to live his life and break free of what holds him back. Baxcter needs Greg to break out and fulfil a heartbreaking promise to the man he loved.

I read this book 3 weeks ago and it is only now that I am coming back to my paper notes and what I thought. I have a lump in throat as I type this up, it reminds me how beautiful and poignant this story was. It shows that life can be so fragile and fleeting and also so full of love.

I loved the emotions that the author brought out of me with Baxter’s Requiem, smilrking at some of the one liners from Baxter only for the realisation that life has an expiry date. Care homes are often referred to as “Gods waiting room” but in Baxter’s case he sees them as “practising being dead and paying for the privalige”. This cracked me up and then the reality of what he said…

Sadness and a sort of melancholy was what I expected before I began this book. But then I found that it was heartwarming, moving, funny and yes there is sadness and heartbreak. but, this book wasn’t about that. This was a story that showed me a life lived, a life loved, a life apart and a life to come.

If you after a gorgeous, stunning, beautiful read then you seriously need to read this book. It get a Highly Recommended from Me!

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

The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware #Review

I am delighted to share my review with you for The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware. I bought a hardback copy of this book and I always take off the cover so they don’t get damaged when I read them. I am so glad that this is something I do or I would have missed this simple yet stunning cover underneath!

When Harriet Westaway receives an unexpected letter telling her she’s inherited a substantial bequest from her Cornish grandmother, it seems like the answer to her prayers. 

There’s just one problem – Hal’s real grandparents died more than twenty years ago.

Hal desperately needs the cash and makes a choice that will change her life for ever. She knows that her skills as a seaside fortune teller could help her con her way to getting the money.

But once Hal embarks on her deception, there is no going back. She must keep going or risk losing everything, even her life…

The brand new psychological thriller from the Sunday Times and New York Timesbestselling author of The Woman in Cabin 10.

Oh Wow! What a fabulous read!

This is such an atmospheric, slightly creepy and sinister feeling read. Cornwall lends itself so well and adds to the atmospherics of the novel and provides a wonderful backdrop to the story. Add to that an old creepy house with a severe housekeeper in the form of Mrs Warren and tarot cards to add an extra level of chills.

The plot with Hal taking off from her tarot reading booth on Brighton Pier to accept an inheritance was so addictive. It had that rags to riches theme, well almost… Almost because Hal is not sure that she is indeed the right person. The tension builds as I found myself wondering if Hal would go through with her plans, or whether she back out. Is she the real deal or is she a mistaken identity? Well, these thoughts and others kept me turning the pages.

The author excelled in the way she portrayed Hal, I found myself caring about her and what would happen. Would she be in danger? How was she going to manage to pay her bills? Would she be able to keep her booth on the Pier? Yes I know these are everyday concerns, well apart from the danger one, but it is the everyday things that help a reader to understand a character.

Hal has some real heart-stopping moments and also discovers more about who she is and also about her mum and family. Not everything she had been told was the truth! She has dealt with a rough past a tough present and, now has to deal with being part of a scenario that could make the future one that she could never expect.

This is not an action packed read, in fact it is a slower pace as the tension simmers and grows. The author has created a story that gripped me from the first few pages, the tension built and I could not put this one down!

This is a fabulous and mysteriously compelling read. and one I would absolutely recommend.

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

The Queen of Wishful Thinking by Milly Johnson #Review

I am delighted to share my review for The Queen of Wishful Thinking by Milly Johnson. I have had this book on my shelf for a while now and I also have a small confession… I actually own around 7-8 Milly Johnson books and I have not actually read any of them until now! Now that I have read my first one, and have discovered that I have been missing out on some really fabulous reads… it will not be long before I read another.

When Lewis Harley has a health scare in his early forties, he takes it as a wake-up call. So he and his wife Charlotte leave behind life in the fast lane and Lewis opens the antique shop he has dreamed of. Bonnie Brookland was brought up in the antiques trade and now works for the man who bought out her father’s business, but she isn’t happy there. So when she walks into Lew’s shop, she knows this is the place for her.

As Bonnie and Lew start to work together, they soon realise that there is more to their relationship than either thought. But Bonnie is trapped in an unhappy marriage, and Lew and Charlotte have more problems than they care to admit. Each has secrets in their past which are about to be uncovered. Can they find the happiness they both deserve?

The Queen of Wishful Thinking is such a fabulous story. It is all about Bonnie Brookland and the people in her life, be them old friends or new ones, she is surrounded by such a myriad of wonderful characters… well mostly she is!

Bonnie works in an antique… no that’s not quite right… she worked in an antique shop that is now more of a junk shop. Sadly the death of Bonnie’s father saw a change in ownership and the shops demise soon followed. The new owner is odious and is the opposite of Bonnie’s standards and her sense of what is right and fair. Bonnie’s moral compass points her to a new job.

Lew is the owner of “Pot of Gold” and after meeting Bonnie and discovering her knowledge of the antique business he decides she is right for the job. Not only does she have a great knowledge she also has a list of contacts… no scrub that… she has the most flamboyant, amazing, eccentric and superb group of friends a girl could ever want to have in her life. The nicknames are an absolute readers dream, they just fit them all to a tee. Just you wait till you meet them!

Bonnie and Lew are just a great match for the Pot of Gold. I should mention that they are not an item, they are both married to other people. Over the course of the story I had found a sense of something untoward that turned into something a little dark. It caught me unawares to a point, it was unsettling and had me avidly turning pages. I did try on a couple of ocassions to put the book down so I could go to bed. I did that “I’ll just read one more chapter” thing, well that kept going on until I ran out of chapters just before 2am.

If like me you have not had the pleasure of picking up and reading a Milly Johnson book, then I seriously urge you to do so. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, well I suppose I expected romance, a touch of humour and what I got what an amazing story that completely drew me in and kept me engrossed from start to finish. The book is 478 mpages long and I read it in one go… yes in one go until 2am in the morning for goodness sake!

The story is one about people, families, taking a chance in life and I suppose taking a chance on life. There is such a mix of emotions that cover dearth and grief it is humourous and also a dark and nasty turn of events. This author has got a wicked sense of humour and it comes across in many different ways, the characters names, newpaper snippets. The newspaper items had me sniggering and snorting in such an ungainly manner!

This is a fabulous story that I would highly recommend 🙂

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

Spring at The Little Duck Pond Cafe by Rosie Green #Review

I am delighted to be sharing my review for a lovely little 127 page read today, Spring at The Little Duck Pond Cafe by Rosie Green. Just look at that cover…

Fleeing from a romance gone wrong, Ellie Farmer arrives in the pretty little village of Sunnybrook, hoping for a brand new start that most definitely does not include love! Following an unscheduled soak in the village duck pond, she meets Sylvia, who runs the nearby Duck Pond Café. Renting the little flat above the café seems like the answer to Ellie’s prayers. It’s only for six months, which will give her time to sort out her life, far away from cheating boyfriend Richard. 

But is running away from your past ever really the answer? 

Clashing with the mysterious and brooding Zack Chamberlain, an author with a bad case of writer’s block, is definitely not what Ellie needs right now. And then there’s Sylvia, who’s clinging so hard to her past, she’s in danger of losing the quaint but run-down Duck Pond Café altogether. 

Can Ellie find the answers she desperately needs in Sunnybrook? And will she be able to help save Sylvia’s little Duck Pond Café from closure? 

If you are after a quick read for a lovely warm afternoon in the garden, then look no further than Spring at The Little Duck Pond Cafe. I don’t know about you but, if I see a book with a cafe mentioned, the impression of a welcoming community and a mysterious stranger… then yep I am more than likely to give it a read! This book had all that and then, some fabulous characters, a good amount of humour and a great way to the start of a wonderful sounding series.

The Little Duck Pond Cafe would be a minimalists nightmare, for me it sounds brilliant. The owner is Sylvia and she has, well, let us say she has an obsession with antiques and nick-nacks, and they are displayed in the cafe. Sylvia takes pity on a very bedraggled Ellie Farmer when she had a slight mishap at the village pond. Ellie has not made the best first impression as she has already had a run in when she was caught trespassing!

Why Ellie paid a visit to the village of Sunnybrook and the reason for the trespassing soon becomes clear. It is a story that many can associate with and it adds such an emotional angle to the story. Talking of emotions, I do tend to be an emotional soppy sod when it comes to getting immersed in a story. This story had lumps in my throat on a few occasions and the story is only 127 pages! I should also mention that along with lumpy throat moments I also had a few grinning like a loon moments as well.

For such a short read, this book delivered fabulously. It made me feel welcomed into the cafe and the lives of the characters and it didn’t take me long to discover that I was caring about what happened to them. The setting sounds so idyllic and has left me looking forward to the next instalment of this series.

If you are after a quick feel good story then you should definitely pick up Spring at The Little Duck Pond Cafe 🙂

There are a couple of options for this series. You can either read the 5 individual stories, or you can buy the book “A Year at The Little Duck Pond Cafe” that has them all in one place.

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

Time Will Tell by Eva Jordan @EvaJordanWriter #review

I am delighted and excited to be sharing my review today for Time Will Tell by Eva Jordan. Though the digital version has been out a little while and that is when I bought my copy, yesterday marked the Paperback Publication Day. So Happy Publication Day to you Eva xx

So let’s have a look and see what this fabulous book is all about…

Writer, Lizzie Lemalf, and her loving but somewhat dysfunctional family are still grieving over the loss of a much-loved family member. Lizzie is doing her best to keep her family together but why does the recent death of a well-known celebrity have them all in a spin? The police suspect foul play; Lizzie and other family members suspect one another. 

Lizzie begins searching for answers only to find herself being dragged back to the past, to 1960’s London to be exact, and to the former life of her father, that up until now she has never been privy to. Every family has its secrets but how can the past hold the key to a present day celebrity death? They say the past comes back to haunt you. Surely the truth will out? Maybe, but only time will tell…

This is the story of family and the different generations and told mainly in the present over the festive period, and at times I was taken back to the era of the grandparents when they lived in london. There are elements of mystery and suspense that have made their way into this dynamic family. For Lizzie she finally starts to understand and learn what and who her family are.

In the present there is Lizzie, for me she is the link to the whole story. She is a daughter, a mother, a good friend, a partner and a tough lady. This toughness is something that I think is in her DNA, especially when you about her family roots…

I am really struggling with this review because at it’s very basic level this story is about a family, what the different generations have experienced depending on when they lived and worked. But there is so much more to this wonderful story than that. What makes it hard is that there are so many things I want to say but at the same time I don’t want to give any part of the story away and potentially ruin it for readers who have not yet read this book!

Every family member is involved, from the main characters right down to the children who have their tuppence worth to add. It is this attention to detail that adds to the fabulou-ness of the story and the writing.

There are several storylines that are told and what I found about them was the realism that they gave. At times they are shocking , at others there is sadness and other times there is pain and hurt. But throughout all of this there is a sense of togetherness and love, This is a family that is loyal to it’s core and this is extended to those that they take under their wings.

By the end of this story I felt a huge swell of emotion, and those last few chapters…well there is a saying by a wonderful character “life is an adventure” … and boy he wasn’t wrong!

This is a captivating read that has it’s fair share of shocks, but shows that the bond of loyalty, love and trust is unbreakable. It is a captivating , beautiful and wonderful read that I would Highly Recommend.

Image and Bio taken from the Authors Goodread Page.

Eva Jordan, born in Kent but living most of her life in a small Cambridgeshire town, describes herself as a lover of words, books, travel and chocolate. She is also partial to the odd glass or two of wine.

Her career has been varied including working within the library service and at a women’s refuge. She has had several short stories published and currently writes a monthly column for a local magazine. Eva also works on a voluntary basis for a charity based organisation teaching adults to read. However, storytelling through the art of writing is her passion and as a busy mum and step mum to four children, Eva says she is never short of inspiration! 

As well as writing, Eva loves music and film and of course she loves to read. She enjoys stories that force the reader to observe the daily interactions of people with one another set against the social complexities of everyday life, be that through crime, love or comedy.

It is the women in Eva’s life, including her mother, daughters and good friends that have inspired her to write her debut novel, 183 TIMES A YEAR, and her second novel, ALL THE COLOURS IN BETWEEN. Both a modern day exploration of domestic love, hate, strength and friendship, set amongst the thorny realities of today’s divided and extended families.

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

The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel #review

I am delighted to be sharing my review for Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel. This is the first book in the Frey & McGray Mystery series. If you like Gothic fiction then you really need to check out this series, this first book was brilliant!

Let’s have a look and see what it is all about…

1888: a violinist is brutally murdered in his Edinburgh home. Fearing a national panic over a copycat Jack the Ripper, Scotland Yard send Inspector Ian Frey. Frey reports to Detective “Nine-Nails” McGray, local legend and exact opposite of the foppish English Inspector. McGray’s tragic past has driven him to superstition, but even Frey must admit that this case seems beyond belief…

There was no way in or out of the locked music studio. And there are black magic symbols on the floor. The dead man’s maid swears there were three musicians playing before the murder. And the suspects all talk of a cursed violin once played by the Devil himself.


Inspector Frey has always been a man of reason—but the longer this investigation goes on, the more his grasp on reason seems to be slipping…

Every now and again I really like to read a good gothic novel. I came across this one on Amazon and decided to give it a go as it seemed to have an old investigative style of murder mystery to it and a touch of superstition. It caught my eye and I am so glad it did as it is a fabulously gothic thrillery read!

Enter Frey and Gray, they are just two wonderful and very different characters, very chalk and cheese. The setting is 1888, Edinburgh and Inspector Frey is sent from London to assist Detective “Nine Nails” McGray in the mysterious and bloody death of a violinist.

Frey is very much a no nonsense type of guy, strictly about the facts. A sharp dresser and follower of proper etiquette. Now then, Mcgray, you could not get much further in the opposite direction than him. He is the master of all knowledge when it comes to the occult and superstition. He definitely follows his own style when it comes to his fashion sense. On meeting for the first time, these two clash! The exasperation from the both of them shows, though more so from McGray, as it would not be fitting for Frey to give such a show of distaste, but believe me he does have his moments. The dynamics between the two are so good and kept me entertained at the various asides. The seriousness of their work does however allow them to find a sort of compromise, or should I say they start to form a somewhat professional respect as the story continues.

Over the course of the story I got to know more about the individual characters and their own stories. Frey and McGray have very intriguing backgrounds that gradually emerged. As this is the first in the series I thought there was a good foundation laid for building further n their characters and filling in more about them.

The timing of this book is at the time Jack the Ripper is at large, so why would a London send one of it’s investigators to Scotland when the death of Mary Kelly has just occured? Having the mention of such an infamous villain at the beginning of this story helps to add to the tone that is to be set as the story continues. A story of murder and malevolent intent.

Their case for the violinist is one that is also bloody and macabre. It gets them scratching their heads at this closed room murder. Who did it? Why was it done? And more importantly…how was it done? The intrigue through the questioning and deducing kept me on my toes as the two made their way through their investigations.

If you are looking for a wonderfully vivid and atmospheric gothic thriller then you really should cast your eye at this author. There are more books in this series and I am so looking forward to getting to see what Frey & McGray get involved in next and also hopefully learning more about what makes them tick.

This book gets a Highly Recommended from me!

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

Kin by Snorri Kristjansson #review

I am delighted to be sharing my review for Kin by Snorri Kristjansson. Kin is the first book in the Helga Finnsdottir Mystery series. It is a historical fiction and mystery read that is absolutely fabulous.

So let’s have a look at the synopsis and see what it is all about…

He can deny it all he likes, but everyone knows Viking warlord Unnthor Reginsson brought home a great chest of gold when he retired from the longboats and settled down with Hildigunnur in a remote valley. Now, in the summer of 970, adopted daughter Helga is awaiting the arrival of her unknown siblings: dark, dangerous Karl, lithe, clever Jorunn, gentle Aslak, henpecked by his shrewish wife, and the giant Bjorn, made bitter by Volund, his idiot son.

And they’re coming with darkness in their hearts.

The siblings gather, bad blood simmers and old feuds resurface as Unnthor’s heirs make their moves on the old man’s treasure – until one morning Helga is awakened by screams. Blood has been shed: kin has been slain.

No one confesses, but all the clues point to one person – who cannot possibly be the murderer, at least in Helga’s eyes. But if she’s going to save the innocent from the axe and prevent more bloodshed, she’s got to solve the mystery – fast . . . 

It is the summer of 970, the grown up children of Viking Warlord Unthor Reginsson and his wife Hildigunnur re due to visit. Karl, Aslak and Bjorn are the siblings and along with their respective spouses there is a tension surrounding the visit. Helga is the foster daughter of Unthor and Hildigunnur, she is curious to meet the her siblings. Unlike the rest of the family, Helga is a quiet girl, she is clever, mysterious and is the main protagonist.

Oh! I loved this book such a huge amount. The first half is setting the scene and is more historical fiction, this I adored so much and would have quite happily read more about this era in history. When I think Vikings it’s always the raids first and farmers second. This book falls into the second, Unthor is a farmer and family man, though he does have a more serious presence and strength to him when the need arises.

There are quite a few characters to get to know and in all honesty it didn’t take long. The characters who live on the farm were introduced first, then the siblings as they arrived. It was the ideal way to get to grips with everyone and start to form initial thoughts as to whether I would like them or not… Helga I really did like and also the enigmatic matriarch Hildigunnur who is such a strong and impressive character.

Though by far Helga was the star, she is one of those characters that see’s all and keeps it to herself. She tends to be overlooked and blends into the background, she is a people watcher and is able to pick up on the various tells people have in the behaviours, mannerism and during conversations. This stands her good stead as the story then progresses into the mystery section of the story.

The mystery section is the observations and deductions of Helga as she finds herself trying to work out the culprit. She uses her observations to gradually piece everything together. Given the time this novel is set in, the investigative process is very quiet and a nice change to read something that does not include technology. It is investigating at it’s very basic level, about reading people and situations, looking at every aspect of the scene and trying to think of the right questions to ask as much as discovering the answers.

I really enjoyed this book so much, the author provided a good amount of background to this very dynamic family. Yes a slower paced story to begin with but one that that speeded up as the urgency to find the killer increased. It was a book I found myself having to slow down the speed I read, I didn’t want to miss a single word and at times it was almost unbearable as I was so eager to turn the page and see what was going to happen next.

I liked the so much about this book, the characters, the setting, the history, the mystery and then there were the italicised sentences, call them Helga’s conscience if you like, they were her random thoughts as she was mulling over the information she was collecting. As well as really liking them they also infuriated me… in a good way… as they provided more questions than answers, they left odd thoughts from Helga hanging, a good addition by the author to add more intrigue.

In case you had not already guessed it… I Love This Book! It slotted so nicely into 2 genres that I love reading – Historical Fiction & Crime/Mystery. The slower pace fitted the histfic wonderfully well and especially the year of 970. As the pace increased, it it was more suited to the crime and mystery of the book. This is a series I am looking forward to reading more of.

It is one I would Highly Recommend.

Image and bio taken from the Author’s Amazon UK page.

Snorri Kristjansson was born in Reykjavik in 1974. He has since lived in Norway, where he found a passionate aversion to skiing, London and now Edinburgh with his wife, where he dabbles in classical acting and stand-up comedy while teaching English.

His fantasy series, The Valhalla Saga, and his crime series, Kin and Council, are published by Jo Fletcher Books. They both have Vikings in, so expect moderate cursing and beards.

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

The Puppet Show by M. W. Craven #review

I am delighted to be sharing my review today with you all for The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven.

You see those author quotes on the front cover … Yep they are all true!!!

So let’s have a look and see what this fabulous book is all about…

A serial killer is burning people alive in the Lake District’s prehistoric stone circles. He leaves no clues and the police are helpless.

When his name is found carved into the charred remains of the third victim, disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension and into an investigation he wants no part of.

Reluctantly partnered with the brilliant but socially awkward civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, the mismatched pair uncover a trail that only he is meant to see. The elusive killer has a plan and for some reason Poe is part of it.

As the body count rises, Poe discovers he has far more invested in the case than he could have possibly imagined. And in a shocking finale that will shatter everything he’s ever believed about himself, Poe will learn that there are things far worse than being burned alive… 

I had read so many great reviews about this book from fellow Book Bloggers that I had to get myself a copy.

My verdict… WOW!!!!!! I should have read it as soon as I had bought it!

If you have read the synopsis then you will realise that this is dark. It is also so brilliantly written right from the very first page to the very last page. You will get to meet to fabulous characters in Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw.

I love Poe and Bradshaw, they are so different and the dynamic between the two of them is an absolute pleasure to read. Their contrasting personalities soon becomes obvious as you get to know them. I loved how Poe tones himself down when he is around Bradshaw, and how she is picking up some of Poe’s confidence.

The plot is an absolute dream to read, it is deliciously dark, devious, sinister and deceptively twisted. It has procedural elements but is based around Crime Analysis and the National Crime Agency. I have to say this route gives a different investigative approach than the usual police procedural ones and it has been worked really well by the author.

I liked that Poe is unused to the terminology used by Bradshaw so needs it to be put in basic terms for him to understand, it made it easy for me to understand as well 🙂

Now the other thing I really enjoyed about this story was the extra character …Cumbria… the Cumbrian landscape played such a wonderful part in creating the atmospherics and added such a sense of drama to the story.

I am so looking forward to getting to know more about Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw and can’t wait to read more.

This is a dark, crime thriller story with a fabulous plot, characters and flow. It gets a Highly Recommended from me.

M.W. Craven
Image taken from the Author’s Goodreads Page.

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.


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The Reach Of Shadows by Tony J Forder @TonyJForder #review

I am absolutely delighted to be bringing you my review of the 4th DI Bliss book, The Reach Of Shadows by Tony J Forder. I am a big fan of this author, I eagerly await the next book and one that I would automatically buy without reading the synopsis.

I was delighted to be chosen as a winner for a signed copy of this latest book in the series. I had already got this one on pre-order but waited until I had the actual paperback in my hand before reading it.

So let’s see what this latest book is all about…

Discover a bestselling crime series that will have you gripped from the explosive start to the heart-pounding conclusion.

Recovering from injuries sustained in a road collision, DI Bliss is taken directly from hospital to a fresh crime scene and ordered to investigate the vicious stabbing and murder of Jade Coleman.

When Bliss realises the victim had reported being stalked, and that two of his own team had been drafted in to take her statement, he is given the unenviable task of interviewing both of his detectives.

Increasingly it appears that the stalker may be their killer. However, several other people soon become part of the team’s suspect list.

Bliss also finds himself being questioned about his own past and has to battle to defend himself whilst continuing to investigate the murder.

Soon more questions arise.

Why would anybody target Jade Coleman?

Why are the team unable to identify the victim’s close female friend?

And why did Jade recently leave her job without any explanation?

With his work cut out, and his team under pressure, can Bliss solve the case before more victims show up?

Or will the shadows of his own past reach out and drag him under before he can succeed?

As this is the 4th in the DI Bliss and DC Chandler series I would say you really should read the previous books, though it could be read as a stand-alone. This series has gradually developed in terms of the characters and their own individual storylines. This book not only deals with a current investigation for the Peterborough based team it also delves into Bliss’s past, in fact delves, doesn’t even come close to it…

Bliss and Chandler are a great pair of characters and the author really does like to put the middle-aged DI through the wringer. Bliss is battered and bruised after a collision with a car, I have to say the banter that he received from his colleagues made me chuckle… sorry Bliss, but it did. Chandler is younger and really does look to Bliss for advice and I love that she is not averse to dishing out her own where he is concerned, especially when his personal life and past is called into question.

There are several other officers in this cast, they are making their mark in their own way, and while they are not in the forefront they do have their parts to play. Little snippets are gradually coming out about them, and also the build-up of respect and more importantly trust is ever increasing. I really do like Bliss and his “old timer” ways.

The investigation into the murder victim previously being in touch with the police is something that adds to the case. The “what if we could have prevented it” and also the “who can we blame” is present. It also has the whole team stumped as they have very little to go on with this somewhat of a lone woman, with very few friends to give valuable information to help the investigation move forward.

While this is going on there is another investigation, one that has its roots in the past of Bliss. It is an area of his past that he really does not want to get into again and to be honest I don’t blame him for wanting it left alone. But it does beggar the question…Does someone have it in for him? The answer…well Read the book and discover for yourself!

As this series goes on I get to know more and more about its 2 main characters. They have their own story to tell, they have been mentioned in the past and I now know more. By the end of the story, I felt as if the characters had actually got a chance to move forward, this is such a vague thing to say but I don’t want to give anything away. There have both had part of themselves hidden in the shadows and now they are starting to see some light, I do wonder how long this will last though…

This is a police procedural, murder mystery book. It has a pace that really suits the story, it is not fast paced, blood and guts flying type, it is slower as the head-scratching and information gathering sort as pieces of the puzzle are put together. I like how it is woven around the personal side of the main characters and I feel that both sides complement each other and I liked both of the stories equally.

So would I recommend? Oh yes absolutely!

Would I advise anyone who has not read the series to get it now? Damn, right I would!

In fact, here there are links below to all of Tony’s books. Happy reading folks!

Also available in the bestselling DI Bliss Series:

Bad to the Bone

The Scent of Guilt

If Fear Wins

The Reach Of Shadows

Or buy the 1st three-book set – (correct at time of writing ) 99p

Other books

Degrees of Darkness

Scream Blue Murder

Cold Winter Sun

Tony J Forder is the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling crime thriller series featuring detectives Jimmy Bliss and Penny Chandler. The first three books, Bad to the Bone, The Scent of Guilt, If Fear Wins and The Reach of Shadows.

Tony’s dark, psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, featuring ex-detective Frank Rogers, was also published by Bloodhound Books. This is a stand-alone novel, and delves into the mind of a serial-killer.

Scream Blue Murder was published in November 2017, and received praise from many, including fellow authors Mason Cross, Matt Hilton and Anita Waller. The sequel, Cold Winter Sun, will be published on 1 November 2018.

Tony is now a full-time writer and lives with his wife in Peterborough, UK.

Visit Tony on – Twitter Website Facebook

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