#Review : Beloved Poison by E.S. Thomson. @es_thomson

Today I’m reviewing Beloved Poison which I bought for my book group read in January.

 

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Blurb:  

London, 1846.

Ramshackle and crumbling, St Saviour’s Infirmary awaits demolition. Within its stinking wards and cramped corridors the doctors bicker and fight. Ambition, jealousy and hatred seethe beneath the veneer of professional courtesy.

Always an outsider, and with a secret of her own to hide, apothecary Jem Flockhart observes everything, but says nothing.

And then six tiny coffins are uncovered, inside each a handful of dried flowers and a bundle of mouldering rags. When Jem comes across these strange relics hidden inside the infirmary’s old chapel, her quest to understand their meaning prises open a long-forgotten past – with fatal consequences . . .

 

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My Review:  Anyone who reads enough of my reviews will know I love historical crime fiction and this book is no exception. This was chosen for my book group at one of the meetings that I unfortunately couldn’t attend. However, when I discovered this was the read for January and that I could go to January’s meeting I was thrilled. I absolutely loved this book, it was rich with description and detail. Honestly you could feel the mud and mess under your feet while Jem and Will walked around London, never mind the smells that came from it. A great historical book, in my experience, is one which makes you feel as if you are right there with the main character(s) and are experiencing all of the sights, smells and sounds along with them. This book did that in bucketloads and I’m so thrilled to have discovered the start of a new series that I can dive in to. Book 4 in the series is out March 2019 so I have a few books to look forward to.

I really liked Jem and Will as main characters, the story is definitely Jem’s but Will is there almost from the beginning and they make a wonderful partnership so I see them both as main characters. They are wonderfully written and described. They come to life so well through their actions, reactions and emotions. I almost didn’t want the story to end and was thrilled when I found out there were more books.

This story is not for the faint-hearted, it does not shy away from the historical facts of surgery and teaching techniques of the time period. Much as I would love to explore the past the descriptions in this book made me glad I live in this time where we have anesthetic and doctors in clean white coats.  The story covers every level of society from the influential medical staff to the street children who struggle to survive and who no one really cares about.  The story behind the six little coffins is the backbone of the book and is just as hard hitting as the rest of it. I’m not doing spoilers but it is not something I want to imagine anyone capable of.

It’s clear the research that has gone into this story and although the book was initially written as a stand alone I’m really pleased the publishers wanted more. Like many book bloggers I have a teetering pile of books to read but this series is interspersed between them, as all my favourite series are. I can’t wait to catch up with Jem and Will again and be involved in another investigation with them. More books please!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#Review : Red Snow by Will Dean @willrdean @PtBlankBks

Finally catching up on reviews for the books I read earlier this year and kicking off with Red Snow, or as Will Dean calls it, Tuva2, the second book in the Tuva Moodyson series. Many thanks to Margot Weale and Point Blank books for sending me a copy of this book to review. Untitled design-2

Blurb:  

TWO BODIES

One suicide. One cold-blooded murder. Are they connected? And who’s really pulling the strings in the small Swedish town of Gavrik?

TWO COINS

Black Grimberg liquorice coins cover the murdered man’s eyes. The hashtag #Ferryman starts to trend as local people stock up on ammunition.

TWO WEEKS

Tuva Moodyson, deaf reporter at the local paper, has a fortnight to investigate the deaths before she starts her new job in the south. A blizzard moves in. Residents, already terrified, feel increasingly cut-off. Tuva must go deep inside the Grimberg factory to stop the killer before she leaves town for good. But who’s to say the Ferryman will let her go?

 

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My Review: Having already read and enjoyed Dark Pines, reviewed here, I was excited to get my hands on this book. So excited in fact that I hugged it when it arrived and then tweeted what I’d done. Over the top, maybe a tad! But still, I was excited and when I came to read it that excitement was justified. 

I really enjoyed this book, possibly more than the first because I was more familiar with the town and Tuva. The book starts off with a shocking and dramatic incident that raises a lot of questions and gets Tuva involved and talking to people she would rather avoid. Clearly I didn’t witness this incident because it’s fictional but I feel like I was there because it was so well written. I read this book at the beginning of January which was a month ago and I still flinch and hear the noise the incident made, 4 weeks later. That is powerful writing. 

As the story progresses we watch Tuva investigate what has happened and see how various people in the town react to her and her investigation. The weather is a daily factor in the book and while I read it during a cold period in the UK, I felt I was lucky my weather was nowhere near as bad as Tuva’s.  It was fascinating to see how people in the town reacted to what was going on and to Tuva as well as the story progressed. Will Dean is skilled at creating realistic and believable characters and atmospheric situations, there were times when I felt uncomfortable reading and I was safe and warm. 

The story moves along at its own pace, it’s not fast and nor should it be, it moves at the pace that life moves at and that is entirely appropriate for this story.  I followed the twists and turns in this book and let the story take me where it wanted to go spending half the time reading quite happily and the other half chewing my fingernails wondering what was going to happen next. 

If you’ve not discovered Will Dean’s books yet then you should definitely check them out I would read them in order though as I feel they work better that way.  I really enjoyed this book and I hope you will too. Now all I have to do is wait for Tuva3!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#BlogTour #Review : Material Remains by Richard Bray. @RWHBray @Unbounders #MaterialRemains #RandomThingsTours

Today I’m thrilled to be on the Material Remains blog tour. Many thanks to Anne Cater and Unbound for sending me a copy of the book to review.

Material Remains Blog Tour Poster

Blurb: On a hungover Friday morning, archeology student Mike McEwan’s life of tea, pints, late mornings and the occasional essay comes to an abrupt halt. Consumed with guilt, grief and confusion, Mike haunts the ruins of St Andrews, rebuilding them in his mind and obsessing about the loss of someone he barely knew, unsure of his place in her life, or her death.

The discovery of an ancient plague burial site drags Mike back into contact with those around him. But life has changed, both for himself and others, and the burial ground holds more than the bones of those long dead. As university life continues around him, Mike peels back the layers of earth and its dark history, trying desperately to connect the victims of the past to the tumult of his present.

Material Remains Cover

My Review: I loved this book. That may seem an odd this to say given it’s not the cheeriest of reads but I genuinely enjoyed it. Mike is the main focus and the story shows how he is impacted by a sudden tragedy and how he deals with the aftermath of this. Everyone will go through a loss in their lives but how do you deal with the loss of someone you barely knew. This is what Mike has to figure out.

He has to deal with this impact and work out how he moves on from something that has affected him badly but equally something that he feels he has no right to be so affected by. The writing is brilliant, it shows perfectly the turmoil that comes with the situation that Mike is in and how he deals with it. The portrayal of the student life is also spot on, the mixture of essays, pub visits and general student life is perfectly portrayed.

This book blew me away with the writing and the story itself. The characters leap off the page and come to life with the minimum of description. I got immersed in the story and just flew through the pages. This is definitely an author to watch out for in the future!

About the author:

Richard Bray Author Picture

Richard W. H. Bray is a writer and winemaker. His first book, Salt and Old Vines, won Best French Wine Book at the 2015 Gourmand Awards. He lives in London.

#Review : The Mansions of Murder by Paul Doherty. @severnhouse #BrotherAthelstan

Today I’m reviewing a book from the fabulous Brother Athelstan, one of my favourite series ever. Huge thanks to Severn House for letting me have a copy of it to review.

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Blurb: A murdered priest, a missing body, stolen treasure: Brother Athelstan tackles his most challenging investigation to date.

October, 1381. Brother Athelstan is summoned to the church of St Benet’s in Queenhithe to investigate the murder of a priest. Parson Reynaud has been found stabbed to death inside his own locked church. Other disturbing discoveries include an empty coffin and a ransacked money chest. Who would commit murder inside a holy church? Who would spirit away a corpse the night before the funeral – and who would be brave enough to steal treasure belonging to the most feared gangleader in London?

Meanwhile, the death of one of Athelstan’s parishioners reveals a shocking secret. Could there be a connection to the murdered priest of St Benet’s?

Athelstan’s investigations will lure him into the dark and dangerous world of the gangmaster known as The Flesher, whose influence has a frighteningly long reach …

My Review: One of my goals for this year was to read more of the Netgalley books I have currently on my kindle and this one has been there for a while. I was thrilled to get a copy of this because I discovered this fabulous series many years ago and loved the characters particularly Brother Athelstan and Sir John Cranston. The series stopped for a few years and then reappeared unexpectedly. So much so that I need to catch up on a few books I’ve missed.

It was a joy to immerse myself in this world again. Set in 14th Century London the author, as always, has done an amazing job of bringing the sights, smells and sounds of the city to life. Because I already know the series, location and main characters I felt like I was returning home after a long time away. Much has changed and moved on in the time that has passed in the series but some things have remained reassuringly familiar.

The mystery is the usual type that Athelstan has to solve, a locked room murder, and this one is particularly fiendish, not least because there is a personal connection for him and more personal danger than in previous books. These stories are always carefully crafted and this one is no different. There was no hint of who had done it until near the end when it became clear that some things were perhaps not as they seemed. The conclusion was appropriate for the story and the only regret I had on finishing the book was that I hadn’t read it sooner. However, I still have plenty of books to catch up on.

If you love historical crime fiction then this is a series you definitely shouldn’t miss.

#BlogTour #Review : The Hunter by Andrew Reid. @mygoditsraining @headlinepg #RandomThingsTours

Today I’m on the blog tour for The Hunter, a book that is a little different from my usual reads, but there’s nothing wrong with a bit of variety from time to time. Many thanks to Anne Cater and Headline for letting me have a copy of the book to review.

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Blurb:   A troubled genius who vanishes in a mysterious car crash.

A disillusioned cop sensing conspiracy in the corridors of power.

A ruthless team of mercenaries operating in the shadows.

A billion-dollar business that wants the world in its grip.

One link connects them all.

A champion fighter. Betrayed and searching for the truth.

Cameron King is The Hunter.

 

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My Review:  I like to add variety to my reading choices and when I heard about this book it sounded gripping and with similar themes, conspiracy and power, to other books I’ve read before but not similar in other ways which made it different enough to interest me.

The book starts off with a bang and the reader is thrown into something they, and the main character Cameron, didn’t see coming. As the story continues the pace starts off fast and speeds up, once things start moving in this book they don’t let up until the end. It’s a full-on rollercoaster ride of a read which I really enjoyed. I felt there could have been a bit more depth to some of the plot, but having said that it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story.  This is one of those books you pick up and lose yourself in, there is so much happening in the book that the outside world disappears for an while and then when it does come back you’re surprised at how quiet and calm it is in comparison to the book world you’ve just been immersed in.

I liked Cameron, once I got over the surprise that she was a she, given the name I was expecting her to be male. However, initial surprise over, I genuinely liked her, she stuck up for what she believed in and showed remorse when it was appropriate. It was nice to have those human aspects in there given she seemed almost invincible sometimes. I also liked Ray, good, solid and dependable even in situations that are out of his comfort zone. I feel like these two could make a good partnership.

All in all this is a really good debut novel, fast-paced and gripping, perfect if you want some action but only from the safety of your sofa!

 

 

About the author:

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Born in Scotland, Andrew Reid worked as a research scientist for almost a decade, on projects including DNA synthesis, forensics, and drug development. His short fiction has featured in several anthologies published by fox spirit books and his fantasy novel serial on Wattpad amassed nearly 175,000 reads. The Hunter is his debut novel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#BlogTour #Review : Summer on the Italian Lakes by Lucy Coleman. @rararesources @LucyColemanAuth

Today I’m taking part in this blog tour. Having read and enjoyed Snowflakes over Holly Cove I was excited when I heard about the tour for this book and had to be involved. Many thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for having me on the tour and letting me have a copy of the book to review.

The Writing Retreat on the Italian Lake

Blurb:   Bestselling Brianna Middleton has won the hearts of millions of readers with her sweeping – and steamy – love stories. But the girl behind the typewriter is struggling… Not only does she have writer’s block, but she’s a world-famous romance author with zero romance in her own life.

So the opportunity to spend the summer teaching at a writer’s retreat in an idyllic villa on the shores of Lake Garda – owned by superstar author Arran Jamieson – could this be just the thing to fire up Brie’s writing – and romantic – mojo?

Brie’s sun-drenched Italian summer could be the beginning of this writer’s very own happy-ever-after…

Escape the January blues with this sun-drenched, heart-warming story from the bestselling author of Snowflakes Over Holly Cove.

Purchase Links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Summer-Italian-Lakes-bestselling-feel-good-ebook/dp/B07HPD2KNV

US – https://www.amazon.com/Summer-Italian-Lakes-bestselling-feel-good-ebook/dp/B07HPD2KNV

 

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My Review:  I love Italy and many years ago was lucky enough to be able to visit Lake Garda (though I stayed further up the lake than where the book is set). As I’ve said already I’ve read Snowflakes Over Holly Cove and having read that, and given the setting of this book I was excited to read this too.  Much of the book is set on Lake Garda but we begin by meeting Brie who has been struggling recently with writing and life in general. I have to admit I didn’t warm to her immediately, I felt she over-analysed everything and came across as a bit superior sounding but once she got to Italy I began to see another side of her, and her character developed into one which was more like someone I would be happy to meet. I found Arran a bit straight-laced and overly descriptive to start with but that fitted his academic background perfectly and again, his character developed through the course of the book.

The biggest and best character in the book was by far, the country itself. The villa, lake and nearby town were scene stealers. I could absolutely visualise myself sitting outside in the shade enjoying the view, with a good book, or exploring Arran’s amazing library which reminded me so much of the one in Beauty and the Beast. The combination of the setting, the main characters and the drama cause and created by the other characters in the book is enough to make the story flow well and the chapters to whizz by. I did feel that sometimes 8 words were used instead of 3 but as I got further into the story I stopped noticing. I got caught up in the whirlwind that was Brie and Arran and was excited to see what happened next.

I like stories which have endings that leave you knowing where the characters have got to, have a good amount of resolution in them but also a hint at where their lives could be headed next so that you can imagine that after you turn that last page they are still there living out their lives behind the scenes. This book delivers exactly that, the ending fitted the story perfectly and left it in such a way that we can imagine where the main characters lives are headed but also leaves room for a second book if the author chooses to write another one.

If you’re looking for an escape from the winter weather, or can’t manage a summer escape then this is the ideal book to give you some sunshine and warmth and that nice, cosy feeling inside. Perfect with a big mug of hot chocolate or a chilled glass of something, depending on when and where you are when you’re reading it.

 

About the author:  

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From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’

Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and is excited to be writing for both Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus) and Harper Impulse (Harper Collins); she’s represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.

When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden.

Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards.

Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic.

Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

Social Media Links –

Website: http://linnbhalton.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LinnBHaltonAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LucyColemanAuth

 

Giveaway – Win a Chocolate dipping set (UK only)

Writing Retreat Prize

*Terms and Conditions – Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494194/?

 

Summer on the Italian Lakes Full Tour Banner

 

 

 

#Review : Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain @SpainJoanne @QuercusBooks #DirtyLittleSecrets

I am thrilled today to bring you my review of this fabulous book. Many thanks to Quercus Books for letting me have a copy of the book for review.

Blurb:

Six neighbours, six secrets, six reasons to want Olive Collins dead.

In the exclusive gated community of Withered Vale, people’s lives appear as perfect as their beautifully manicured lawns. Money, success, privilege – the residents have it all. Life is good.

There’s just one problem.

Olive Collins’ dead body has been rotting inside number four for the last three months. Her neighbours say they’re shocked at the discovery but nobody thought to check on her when she vanished from sight.

The police start to ask questions and the seemingly flawless facade begins to crack. Because, when it comes to Olive’s neighbours, it seems each of them has something to hide, something to lose and everything to gain from her death.

My Review: I discovered Jo Spain through her Tom Reynolds series which I love so when I heard about this new book I was intrigued and excited. This is a stand alone so you don’t have to have read any of the others other books first.

This story questions how much we really know about our neighbours. People move in next door to us and we may talk but what do we really know about them, what secrets are they hiding?

Olive Collins lives in Withered Vale before the other houses are built and the gated community created. The story is told from her thoughts and memories about people who have and still live there, what they are like and her efforts to build a community within the gates. At the beginning of the book she is found dead and as the investigation into her death progresses we learn about the other residents of the neighbouring homes.

This is a skillfully woven story which keeps you wondering all the way through until the resolution which I admit I didn’t see coming. We learn about the other residents through their reactions to the police investigation and their comments about each other but also through the eyes of the police, the outsiders who bring a fresh perspective to the area, almost like opening a window and letting air into a stuffy room. Throughout this all we get Olive’s voice, almost as if she is still there and providing her own commentary on the neighbours. It’s brilliantly done and perfectly plotted. I’ve admitted I didn’t see the resolution coming but when it did it fitted in perfectly and everything slotted into place like the final piece of a jigsaw.

If you’ve never read any of Jo Spain’s books before this would be an ideal one to start with, it’s a refreshingly original read in the psychological thriller genre.