Blog Tour Review: Echoes in Death by J.D. Robb

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Publishing 7th February 2017

Hardback | £18.99 | Also available on eBook

Blurb:  A dark and gripping new case for Lieutenant Eve Dallas – from number one bestseller J.D. Robb

New York at night. A young woman stumbles out on to a busy street – right in front of Lieutenant Eve Dallas and husband Roarke. Her name is Daphne Strazza, and she has been brutally assaulted. Confused and traumatised, she manages to tell them one thing. Her attacker wore a devil’s mask.

As Eve investigates this shocking case, she soon discovers a disturbing pattern. Someone is preying on wealthy couples, subjecting them to a cruel and terrifying ordeal. Worse still, the attacks are escalating in violence and depraved theatricality. Eve and her team are now in a race against time to find the man behind the mask – before he strikes again. But for Eve, this case in particular has unsettling echoes of her own troubled past . . .

 

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My Rating: 5/5

Review:  Anyone who is friends with me on Goodreads or regularly looks at the little Goodreads box on this blog will notice a lot of J.D. Robb books on it, especially since I discovered how good the audiobooks are therefore it won’t come as much of a surprise to learn that I loved this book. However, despite the fact that there would have to be something seriously wrong with this book for me to not at least enjoy it, this one has surpassed my expectations hence the rating.  I have given this book the rating that I have because I feel that, out of the ones I have read, this is the best book of the series so far.  There have been other excellent books but this one just has the edge on them.

For those who have read all or some of the series and know Eve’s background you’ll also know that it is mentioned in every book (at least every one I’ve read) and this one is no exception, having said that it is mentioned briefly and nowhere near as much as in the earlier books which I think helped the story a lot.  For those unfamiliar with this series, I’m not sure I’d start with this book but should you choose to there is enough background in the book that you will get a reasonable grasp of who is who and what their history is.  There is nothing wrong with starting the series with this book but as the blurb above says it is dark and gripping and perhaps a little too dark for those who are not used to these books.

As ever the writing is brilliant and I found myself double-checking I’d locked my doors the first night after I’d started the book, that’s how much I was drawn into it.  Eve and Roarke are their usual charming selves, Peabody is of course brilliant but the one character that was a scene stealer for me was Galahad.  That cat really needs a series of his own!  There was more focus, I felt on the story and the victims here than the usual characters, though many of them make an appearance at least briefly, however that didn’t dampen the story for me.  I felt the balance between regular characters and new ones particular to this story was just right and if these books get any better I may have to change my rating method to accommodate them.

If you already love the series then this review will probably make no difference to your decision to read the book. However, if you are new to this series then I  would say this is a series, admittedly based a little in the future, that features good solid characters and solid detective work.  There are some funny moments, intentional or otherwise and a lot of mentions of the traffic in New York (if anything it’s worse than it is now), bad drivers and irritating sale blimps that puzzle Eve and even make me stop and think briefly.  This is also a series that involves  solid police work, characters that work for the victim or victims and don’t let money or power get in the way of them solving a case.  There are a lot of details, it can be quite dark and is very descriptive of the crimes, what happened to the victims so that won’t be to everyone’s taste but murder is not pretty and I don’t think it should be sugar-coated even in fictional stories.  As I’ve said this is perhaps not the book I’d recommend starting the series with but I would also say that you don’t need to start the series at book 1 either,  at 44 books and counting it would take a long time to get to this one if you did it that way.  I know many people will read these books in order but I don’t and I feel they work just as well randomly chosen as they would read chronologically.

This is, in my opinion, an excellent story and addition to the series and I can’t wait for the next one.

 

Romance novelist Nora Roberts

Author bio: Nora Roberts is the number one New York Times bestseller of more than 200 novels. She published her first novel using the pseudonym J.D. Robb in 1995, with the In Death series, Robb has become one of the biggest thriller writers on earth, with each new novel reaching number one on bestseller charts over the world. With over 450 million copies of her books in print, she is indisputably one of the most celebrated and popular writers in the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blog Tour Review: Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie

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Blurb:   The charred body of an enigmatic policeman – currently the subject of an internal investigation – is found in the burnt-out shell of his car on the Southend sea front.

Meanwhile, a vulnerable young woman, fresh out of the care system, is trying to discover the truth behind the sudden death of her best friend.

As DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell from the Essex Police Major Investigation Team are brought in to solve the mystery of their colleague’s death, dark, dangerous secrets begin to surface. Can they solve both cases, before it’s too late?

 

My Rating: 3/5

Review:  I have to admit I struggled with this book.  The premise of the story is good but it didn’t flow as well as it could have for me.  For a debut novel it is definitely good and shows a lot of promise for more in the future but it didn’t grab me as much as I had thought it would.

The book starts with the gruesome murder of a policeman in his car , after that it skips back a few days and switches between DC Russell being interviewed in connection with a policeman under investigation and Donna, who wants questions about why her friend was killed and why no one cares about her.  The first part of the book is taken up with this and it’s only when it catches up to the present day and starts to deal with the body in the burnt out car that the story picks up.  I can understand wanting to build in some background, I’ve read plenty of books that have that in them, but in this I didn’t feel it added much to the story.

The characterisation was good but I didn’t get much sense of location, for a story set in Southend I felt it could have been set anywhere, there was nothing that stood out and distinguished the location that I remember.

The writing is good and, as I said it is a good debut novel and there is the promise there of further books in the series (it felt like the beginning of a series to me) becoming better and better and that is something I would be interested in seeing.  It’s been a while since I read a police procedural set in the UK, so many crime books these days are psychological thrillers, so it made for a refreshing change and I hope that this will be the first of many from this author.

If you want to check out the other posts up today, the list of blog names is at the bottom of this post, enjoy!

 

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Mark Hardie was born in 1960 in Bow, East London. He began writing fulltime after completely losing his eyesight in 2002. He has completed a creative writing course and an advanced creative writing course at the Open University, both with distinction.

Mark lives with his wife Debbie in Southend-on-Sea.

 

 

 

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Blog Tour Review: Rupture by Rangar Jonasson.

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Blurb:  1955. Two young couples move to the uninhabited, isolated fjord of Hedinsfjörður. Their stay ends abruptly when one of the women meets her death in mysterious circumstances. The case is never solved. Fifty years later an old photograph comes to light, and it becomes clear that the couples may not have been alone on the fjord after all…

In nearby Siglufjörður, young policeman Ari Thór tries to piece together what really happened that fateful night, in a town where no one wants to know, where secrets are a way of life. He’s assisted by Ísrún, a news reporter in Reykjavik who is investigating an increasingly chilling case of her own. Things take a sinsister turn when a child goes missing in broad daylight. With a stalker on the loose, and the town of Siglufjörður in quarantine, the past might just come back to haunt them.

Haunting, frightening and complex, Rupture is a dark and atmospheric thriller from one of Iceland’s foremost crime writers.

 

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My Rating: 5/5

Review: I don’t know how he does it but Rangar Jonasson has produced another story that gets under your skin. Within the first 5 pages of the book I was hooked, time disappeared as I read and I didn’t even notice, I’m sure this happened when I read Snowblind too. The atmosphere is haunting, I read a lot of this at night with not a sound to be heard outside and I was glad I was tucked up in bed and the doors were locked. I feel perfectly safe at home but reading a story which, among other things, involves the death of a woman in an extremely isolated place made me want to huddle under the duvet with a light on and remind myself that it’s only fiction and set in a different country from the one I live in.

The writing is beautiful. While there are other amazing books out there none of them are written as wonderfully as these ones are, atmosphere, tension, shock and joy are crafted out of nothing but words on a page. Whether it is because it was originally written in a different language and Icelandic books are written differently I don’t know, Ragnar Jonasson’s are the only Icelandic books I have read so I have no basis for comparison, but whatever the reason the writing is perfection. The books may not be as thick as some are but they don’t need to be, the author fits the entire story into fewer pages without losing anything at all.

I know I’m rambling but when I read these books and others that are equally as stunning I come to the end having lost all power of speech and coherent thought.  All I can do is sit there and be amazed and stunned at the journey that I have just been on, one of emotional turmoil, feelings of claustrophobia, fear, tension, shock, joy, awe at the writing, worry for the characters in the book and many other things.

Among many comments I have seen about these books they are referred to as classic crime and I would agree, they aren’t fast-paced joyrides but have their own subtle way of drawing you into the story within pages, keeping you hooked throughout the rest of the book and leaving you both stunned and desperate for more once they are finished.  I never bother with these lists of books you must read in your lifetime but if I were to write one myself Rupture would be at the top of the list because it is perfection and an unmissable read.

 

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 Author bio: Ragnar Jonasson (www.ragnarjonasson.com) is the Icelandic writer of the Dark Iceland crime series set in Northern Iceland. Snowblind (2015) is the first book in the Dark Iceland series. Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, and works as a lawyer in Reykjavik. He is also a teacher at Reykjavik University Law School and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Before embarking on a writing career, Ragnar translated fourteen of Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. Ragnar is the co-founder of the Reykjavik international crime writing festival Iceland Noir, and has appeard on panels at Crimefest in Bristol, Left Coast Crime in the USA, Bloody Scotland in Stirling and Iceland Noir in Iceland. Ragnar’s short story Death of a Sunflower was published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine January 2014 issue, the first story in the magazine by an Icelandic author. His second Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine story, A Letter to Santa, was published in the January 2015 issue. Ragnar’s short story Party of Two was published in the Crime Writers’ Association 2014 anthology Guilty Parties, edited by Martin Edwards. Ragnar lives in Reykjavik with his wife and daughters.

 

Blog Tour Review: Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb

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Blurb:  Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong. The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori’s former mentor–the man who taught her everything she knows … the man who also knows the secrets of her murky past.

Not only is JT fighting a child exploitation racket operating out of one of Florida’s biggest theme parks, but he’s also mixed up with the powerful Miami Mob. With two fearsome foes on their tails, just three days to get JT back to Florida, and her daughter to protect, Lori has her work cut out for her. When they’re ambushed at a gas station, the stakes go from high to stratospheric, and things become personal.
Breathtakingly fast-paced, both hard- boiled and heart-breaking, Deep Down Dead is a simply stunning debut from one of the most exciting new voices in crime fiction.

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My Rating: 4/5

Review: I don’t know why but I’ve always found bounty hunters interesting and love the Stephanie Plum series but I also like a bit more depth and grit to my reading at times and this book definitely has all of that.  Lori Anderson is a tough bounty hunter but she still has her flaws and that adds some realism to her character.  She takes a job which will pay her enough to cover her daughters medical bills for a while. However, the job is not as straight forward as she expects and things go very wrong, very quickly, within pages she is being chased by the mob, people working for a high profile and well connected person and also manages to end up without transport making for a very sticky situation indeed.  As if that wasn’t bad enough things then get much worse and Lori then has a tough decision to make, she needs to work out how to sort the situation out and still get paid for the job she came to do.  Luckily (perhaps) she has her former mentor JT to help her but his help is affected by his own agenda which doesn’t make things any easier.

As you can tell from my rating I enjoyed this book, it’s quite different from the other crime books that are coming out at the moment which is refreshing because, as good as the other ones are a lot of the same type of books can get a bit boring at times.  While I love a tough female character I wasn’t completely taken by Lori, she was good and well-written but I didn’t understand or agree with some of the decisions she made so that made it a little difficult to fully empathise with her.  The story is full of twist and turns, just when you think it might be ok or you can relax just a little something else happens that has you wondering ‘how they are going to get out of that?’  The story is fast-paced enough to keep you guessing but not so much that you lose track of what is going on, a vital point because there is a lot going on in this book.

I suspect this may appeal to quite a few people; there is obvious chemistry between Lori and JT that is present right from the beginning, there is enough suspense and twists to satisfy those who like that and there is a fair bit of violence in the form of both gun fights and physical ones to satisfy those who like a bit of that in their fiction.  For a debut novel this is definitely an impressive one and while I don’t yet love Lori, in the way I do other characters like Stephanie Plum, I’m hoping she’ll develop and grow on me some more in the next book which I’m rather looking forward to reading even though I have to wait another 12 months………..

 

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Author bio: Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA.
As her alter ego–Crime Thriller Girl–she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at http://www.crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases.
Steph is an alumni of the MA inCreative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and
she trained as a bounty hunter in California.  She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens.
Deep Down Dead is her debut novel. Watch out for Deep Blue Trouble in 2018.

 

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Review: Brake Failure by Alison Brodie

You’ll probably notice that this is my second post about this book this month.  This is because I was contacted by the author months ago and asked if I was interested in reviewing the book, which I said I was.  The review was planned for the publication date which was originally last year, but moved to yesterday but by the time I found out the date had moved I had already signed up for the blog tour.  Hearing that, I decided to do both and just give the book and the author a bit of extra promotion so read on to find out what I thought of the book and if you missed my blog tour guest post you can find it here.

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Blurb:  “Is it too late to tell him you love him when you’re looking down the barrel of his gun?”

Ruby Mortimer-Smyth is upper-class English, rigidly brought up to marry a man from the pages of Burke’s Peerage. She knows the etiquette for every occasion and her soufflés NEVER collapse.

She is in control of her life, tightly in control. Until …she ends up in Kansas.

Ruby believes that life is like a car; common-sense keeps it on the road, passion sends it into a ditch. What she doesn’t know is, she’s on a collision course with Sheriff Hank Gephart.

Sheriff Hank Gephart can judge a person. Miss Mortimer-Smyth might act like the Duchess of England, but just under the surface there’s something bubbling, ready to erupt. She’s reckless, and she’s heading for brake failure. And he’s not thinking about her car.

With the Millennium approaching, Ruby gets caught up in the Y2K hysteria. She joins a Survivalists group, who give her a gun and advise her to stockpile basic essentials. Accordingly, she bulk-buys Perrier, Gentleman’s Relish and macaroons.

Ruby, far from home, is making Unsuitable Friends and “finding herself” for the first time. She falls in with a gang of Hells Angels and falls foul of the law. At every turn, she comes up hard against Sheriff Hank Gephart, whose blue eyes seem to look deep into her soul. She desperately wants him, but knows she can never have him.

She’s angry at the emotions he arouses in her. Pushed to her limit, she bursts from her emotional straightjacket.

As the clock strikes midnight of the new Millennium, she’s on a freight train with three million dollars, a bottle of Wild Turkey and a smoking gun.

What happened to Miss Prim-and-Proper? And why did she shoot Mr Right?

 

My Rating: 4.5/5

Review:  I really enjoyed this book.  I will admit that when I was asked if I would consider reviewing it I wasn’t sure and I took a bit of time to think about it.  The book blurb appealed to me but I have read a few books with appealing blurb that were disappointing and didn’t live up to their promises.  This is definitely NOT one of those books.

This is a story of a period of Ruby’s life.  We follow her from her marriage to Edward when she also found out they would not be moving to Paris as originally thought, but to Kansas which proves to be quite a shock for Ruby.  The story starts with Ruby missing after a bank robbery on New Years Eve and then moves back to the time, a few weeks previously, when she got married.  It then proceeds to move between showing us the Sheriff’s department trying to find Ruby and showing us her life over those few weeks and how things changed for her after her move to Kansas. This could be confusing but because the author has clearly separated these two parts of the story it isn’t.  As we watch Ruby’s life as she adjusts to living in  Kansas we also watch her change from someone who is prim and proper and cooks for hours just to prepare one meal, into someone who is quite different (and a lot more fun!). While the old Ruby is not horrible or nasty or anything like that I do much prefer the newer version and it was fun watching her change and discover all these new things that she hadn’t known about or perhaps never considered before.

I’m not going to say more about Ruby because that would give away too much about how she changes but I will say that she is an enjoyable character to read, before, during and after her new self emerges.  The other characters, and there are quite a few, are well-written and leap off the page at you whether they have lots of energy or are just dull and boring, either way they are all clearly defined and despite there being quite a few of them it never gets confusing or muddled as to who is who.  This is something that can be tricky to achieve, some authors don’t, but here it is done very well indeed.

This story is fun. It’s a bit of a joyride watching the two parts of the story unfold and Ruby discover her new self.  She has so much fun doing it, even when she gets into trouble that you can’t help but enjoy it with her.  I really enjoyed reading this, it’s a light and easy read but very well written and quite different from the books I usually read.  I would highly recommend this if you want something different, the best thing I can think of to describe it is Thelma and Louise, that film had serious moments in it and didn’t shy from the consequences of their actions but was a great film and this is a great book.  Definitely one for anyone who wants to try something a little different.  I mainly read ‘chick-lit’ and crime fiction and I think this would appeal to readers of both genres.  I’m glad I took a chance on this book and will definitely be reading more by this author.

 

 

 

Blog Tour Review: Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent.

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Blurb:  The last people who expect to be meeting with a drug-addicted prostitute are a respected judge and his reclusive wife. And they certainly don’t plan to kill her and bury her in their exquisite suburban garden.

Yet Andrew and Lydia Fitzsimons find themselves in this unfortunate situation.

While Lydia does all she can to protect their innocent son Laurence and their social standing, her husband begins to falls apart.

But Laurence is not as naïve as Lydia thinks. And his obsession with the dead girl’s family may be the undoing of his own.

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My Rating: 5/5

Review:  I loved the blurb for this book straight off, it sounded so different from the other books I’d been reading at the time so I was quite intrigued and keen to read it.  I’ve seen comments, there’s one on the book cover itself, about this being ideal for fans of Gone Girl and I will say right now, I’ve no idea if it is or not. I’ve not read Gone Girl, it never appealed to me and this is also the first book I’ve read by this author so it really was a leap in the dark when I started reading it.

This book was amazing, I finished it one night at 2am and was still awake an hour later because of it!  It starts off quite shockingly with two perfectly respectable people involved in a murder, quite by accident but still involved.  After that the dead girl’s family start to realise something has happened to her and an investigation is launched and then it gets really interesting.  Lydia Fitzsimons is obsessed with her social status even though she rarely leaves the house, to her the right house, right clothes, friends, appearances are everything and she refuses to let that go despite the fact that there is now a dead body buried in her garden.  As the story progresses Lydia’s own story unfolds and we learn more about her past and see how manipulative and cold-hearted she can be.   There was a part in the book where things settled a little and everything was calmer for a while and then BOOM! it wasn’t and I was back on this rollercoaster of a read which had me equal parts horrified and gripped.  I made comments, noises of disbelief and even laughed out loud at one part because I was hoping for some sort of payback but the book just kept on going.

I’m not naive or anything, I know about manipulation and how some people can manipulate others until they feel 2 inches tall or are doing everything they’re told regardless of what it is but this book shows just how far it can go.  This is a masterclass and insight into the world of a  manipulative person. They are so good at what they do that they can deceive so many others and that comes across clearly here, few can see Lydia for what she really is and that includes the reader as what she is capable of becomes clear throughout the book, we get glimpses of it but even with that, somehow it still gets worse.

The descriptions in the book are good, they are more character focused than location but that makes sense given the story and doesn’t detract from it in any way.  I wouldn’t necessarily say I liked the characters, some were impossible to like but I did feel the most connected to Laurence and what he was going through throughout the story.  While I didn’t agree with everything he said and did I did understand his reasons for it all and that, for me, is important.  Even though I disagreed with  almost all of them I could even, up to a point, understand Lydia’s reasons for doing what she did.

I’ve been struggling to finish books recently, novellas have been manageable but full length books were tricky.  Unsurprisingly with this one I had no such trouble, I read it in two sittings and was so hooked during the first one that I nearly stayed up all night to finish it off.  I think this is an excellent read and one I would highly recommend though I would suggest not starting it at night unless you don’t mind still being awake when the sun rises the next morning.

 

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January……..

Well it’s January again, my hoped for white Christmas never happened, in fact I have yet to see any snow (bar that on the hills in the distance) this winter so far which is a bit disappointing.  As I mentioned in my end of year round up post I am only doing a few blog tours this month and one in February and have no plans to do any more until at least June.  This is because I have a placement between February and June as part of my university course and between that being full time plus the fact that I’m working weekends, I simply won’t commit to a blog tour because it would be unfair on the tour host, publisher and author if I did.  (Having said that I may bend this rule IF there is a book out by an author I already know and love.) So, this is how my next few weeks are looking at the moment:

6th – Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent.

10th – Brake Failure by Alison Brodie.

15th –  Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb.

17th – Rupture by Ragnar Jonasson.

24th – Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie.

30th – Echoes in Death by J.D. Robb.

6th Feb – Meet Me at Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt.

These are all reviews and on top of that I’m also going to be reviewing a couple of Christmas novellas that I read over the holiday but otherwise that’s me for January.  What I’m hoping to do in February onwards in work through the books I have received from publishers and authors, some of which I’ve had for longer than I’d like to admit, and those I have on Netgalley so maybe I can bring my tbr down a bit.  How much reading I’ll have time for I’m not sure but hopefully I can manage at least one or two.

So, with all lined up that I’d better get on with reading, although I do have an essay due soon so I should maybe do that first though those books are looking quite appealling, hmmmm…………..