#Review: Dragon Road by Joseph Brassey. @JosephBrassey @Angryrobotbooks

As anyone who regularly reads my blog will know I tend to mostly read and review crime fiction, however, I’ve been wanting to get back into science fiction and fantasy as well because I am basically a geek at heart. So, when this book appeared on Netgalley I was immediately interested. It’s a mixture of sci-fi, fantasy and crime so sounded ideal for me to dip a toe back into sci-fi/fantasy with and that’s exactly what I did, so read on and find out what I thought.

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Blurb:  A murderous plot aboard a city-sized flying ship must be averted before a crazed cult sends a million people to their deaths. When portal-mage Harkon Bright and his apprentice are asked to help select a new captain for the immense skyship Iseult, they quickly find themselves embroiled in its Machiavellian officer’s court. Aboard the Elysium, the warlord Azrael, saved by his former enemies, struggles to adapt to his unexpected gift of life while suffering dark dreams of an ancient terror. As the skies darken and storm-clouds gather on the Dragon Road, the crew of the Elysium come face to face with deadly intrigues, plots from beyond death, and a terrible darkness that lurks in the heart of a thousand-year storm.

Dragon Road is out now and can be bought from Amazon UK here and from other retailers.

 

 

My Review:  I’m not quite sure how to start this review. This is a book that I believe would appeal to a lot of people, as it crosses genres, being both crime fiction and sci-fi/fantasy. It took me a little while to get into the story but I think that is partly because I hadn’t read book 1 in this series (not necessary but will give you some background knowledge of the characters) and because it’s different from what I usually read so I had to get used to the idea of giant ships that are basically flying cities, and a few other new concepts. Once I’d done that though this book was a joy to read. The characters are really well written that even though you’ve known the crew of the Elysium for a matter of a number of pages you are concerned for their safety and loving the connections and conversations between them all. It feels like an actual family on board the ship, despite the fact that some members have clearly been together longer than others.

The character of Azrael is an excellent example of the skill of the writer. Having not read book 1 I don’t know exactly what he has done but due to the bits of background dotted through the story I did get an idea of his past and it’s not pretty to say the least. However, despite that I had great empathy for him and wanted him to find peace from his past and the nightmares and find a new life for himself. Despite the horrors he has clearly committed the author has managed to give him a humanity that even the nice characters in other books don’t always have. Although I had probably the most empathy for Azrael I did care about the other main characters and a few of those on the skyship Iseult as well.

This story is a mixture of action scenes and investigation. Some people on the Iseult don’t agree with Harkon Bright and his apprentice being involved in helping select a new captain after the previous one dies suddenly. The investigative scenes are very well written but even better, if possible, are the action scenes. There are some explosive (in more ways than one!) action scenes and they grab you and draw you in so fast you can barely catch a breath. Despite the amount that is going on the scenes are so clearly written that you keep up with everything, feel everything the characters feel and need as much of a rest as they do once the scene is finished.

There is so much in this book that I could keep writing, but that would make for an incredibly long review and I don’t want to do that. What I will say is that if you already love sci-fi and /or fantasy then this is definitely a book worth reading, the amount of depth in it is just astonishing. If you’re not into sci-fi/fantasy but fancy trying some then you could do worse than to start with this. It might take a bit of time to get into it but believe me it is worth every minute!  I’ve already got Skyfarer (book 1) on my to-read list and can’t wait to add book 3 as well. I cannot wait to get back to the Elysium and find out where they go next!

 

 

 

About the author:

Joseph Brassey

JOSEPH BRASSEY has lived on both sides of the continental US, and has worked as a craft-store employee, paper-boy, factory worker, hospital kitchen gopher, martial arts instructor, singer, and stay-at-home Dad (the last is his favorite job, by far). Joseph was enlisted as a robotic word-machine in 47North’s Mongoliad series, and still trains in – and teaches – Liechtenauer’s Kunst des Fechtens in his native Tacoma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blog Tour Review: The House by Simon Lelic

I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour. From the moment I received a key in an envelope and a code for a website I’ve been intrigued by this book and couldn’t wait to read it. Now I’ve read it and I was not disappointed. Read on to see my review.

Blurb:  Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it. So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.Because someone has just been murdered outside their back door. And now the police are watching them.

Rating: 4.5/5 

Review:  I was hooked from the first page of this book. I read it in two sittings which for me, at the moment, is pretty much unheard of.  I found it atmospheric and unsettling and was slightly regretting starting at night when I live somewhere really quiet and it was dark outside. 

I really enjoyed the way the story was written. Using only two perspectives really showed how the characters were affected by what was going on and how they were both dealing with current events and their own individual problems. 

I found this story engrossing and gripping throughout and would recommend this to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers or crime fiction. 

COVER REVEAL: Watching You by J.A. Schneider

I am thrilled to be able to be involved in the cover reveal for the latest Kerri Blasco book from J.A. Schneider.  I’ll also be taking part in the blog tour so look out for my review on the 25th April, coincidentally also the release date for this amazing sounding book.  Due to other review commitments I haven’t read it yet but I am very much looking forward to doing so.  So, read on for some blurb, check out the cover below (talk about atmospheric!) and if you want to pre-order it you can do so here.

 

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Blurb: A serial killer texts his victims first. A detective vows revenge. He comes after her.

In the chill of an October night, Detective Kerri Blasco is called to a bizarre murder scene. Leda Winfield, a young volunteer for the homeless, has been shot. Her cell phone displays the frightening text, WATCHING YOU, and into her back, hideously pushed with a hat pin, is a note with the same awful message. Leda’s socialite family and friends insist that no one would have wanted to harm her, but Kerri isn’t convinced.

Until another random young woman is killed in the same way. Kerri and her team profile a monstrous killer who enjoys terrifying his victims before stalking and killing them. But how does he get their phone numbers?

Kerri soon finds that the killer is after her, too, and that the key to finding him may just be in the homeless shelter. When the body count rises, she vows to stop the madman – even if it means battling her own personal trauma, risking her job, her love relationship with her boss Alex Brand, and her life.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek Magazine, a wife, mom, and reading addict. She loves thrillers…which may seem odd, since she was once a major in French Literature – wonderful but sometimes heavy stuff. Now, for years, she has become increasingly fascinated with medicine, forensic science, and police procedure. She lives with her family in Connecticut, USA.

 

 

 

Guest post by Sheryl Browne. Author of After She’s Gone and Sins of the Father.

Today I have something a little different.  It’s still a guest post but it’s a guest post by the author of the two books below, books 1 and 2 of the DI Matthew Adams series.  Sheryl has written other books which can be found here but these two are quite a contrast to her other books and that is what she talks about in her post, which can be found below. Happy reading!

 

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Are you ready to take a journey into the mind of a madman?

After She’s Gone.

Sins of the Father.

All-consuming thrillers that will eat you and spit you back out.

After She’s Gone

He’s killed your child and kidnapped your wife. What would YOU do?

There’s evil and then there’s Patrick Sullivan. A drug dealer, pimp and murderer, there are no depths to which Patrick would not sink, and Detective Inspector Matthew Adams has found this out in the most devastating way imaginable.

When Patrick’s brother is shot dead in a drug bust gone wrong, the bitter battle between the two men intensifies, and Matthew finds it increasingly difficult to hold the moral high ground. All he wants is to make the pimping scum suffer the way he did … the way Lily did.

But being at war with such a depraved individual means that it’s not just Matthew who’s in danger. Patrick has taken a lot from Matthew, but he hasn’t taken everything – and now he wants everything.

Sins of the Father

What if you’d been accused of one of the worst crimes imaginable?

Detective Inspector Matthew Adams is slowly picking up the pieces from a case that nearly cost him the lives of his entire family and his own sanity too. On the surface, he seems to be moving on, but he drinks to forget – and when he closes his eyes, the nightmares still come.

But the past is the past – or is it? Because the evil Patrick Sullivan might be out of the picture, but there’s somebody who is just as intent on making Matthew’s life hell, and they’re doing it in the cruelest way possible.

When Matthew finds himself accused of a horrific and violent crime, will his family stand by him? And will he even be around to help when his new enemy goes after them as well?

 

Guest post: ‘WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO SWITCH TO THE DARK SIDE?’

To be honest, I’m not sure I have switched. Even in my contemporary romance, I tend to write about people and the gamut of emotion that comes with them, gravitating towards family and family dynamics and just how strong a family unit can be. I find my romance is becoming more and more edgy anyway and there is usually a bad guy or girl in all of my books. As long as the hero grows and the villain gets his comeuppance, then I get the buzz. I think I now lean towards psychological thriller because I see people as not all good or all bad. More opposite sides of the same spectrum with some crossover in between. Many of my romance novels feature a policeman and, as my leading characters grew, I found myself exploring police procedure and, inevitably, the traits of the protagonist. I suppose it was a natural progression to write thriller.

Of course, I had to do a little research before diving in. I’m lucky enough to have had the advice of a Chief Constable and more recently a Senior Police Detective and that has helped me tremendously. I realised I needed at least the basics of forensics too, so undertook a forensics course, which I passed I’m relieved to say. The internet is a massive boon to writers now, of course, you really can Google just about anything. You can access some fascinating case studies and headline news stories  – I dread to think what my browsing history looks like. I think the most important writing tool though is to read. Other authors can show you how to weave a story and they can be a massive stimulus for your own writing. I’ve read a fair few of Stephen King’s novels (who hasn’t?). Who could ever forget Misery? Unsuspecting, injured author held captive by a psychopathic and very angry fan? What a simple and truly fabulous premise. Martina Cole’s books were a huge influence on me, too, and the inspiration behind my desire to delve into the darker psyche of some of my characters. A book that stays with me is The Ladykiller. It’s with morbid fascination you glimpse into the mindset of a sexually depraved killer.

A writer’s mind thrives on exploration. Every scenario, every face, every place tells a story. A glimpsed situation, an argument between a couple, for instance, a verbal ‘slanging match’ in the street, and you have your stimulus for a story, upon which your overzealous writer’s mind will weave fictional facts. You simply can’t help yourself. So there it is. I have a need to explore the human psyche – and apparently I also have a scary insight into the mind of a psychopath. Thank you, Rachel at Rachel’s Random Reads. I think.

 

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Sheryl Browne brings you edgy, sexy contemporary fiction and psychological thrillers.

A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Romantic Novelists’ Association and awarded a Red Ribbon by The Wishing Shelf Book Awards, Sheryl has several books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing.

Recommended to the publisher by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer, Sheryl’s contemporary fiction comes to you from multi-award winning Choc Lit.

Author Links

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Amazon US | Pinterest

Choc Lit

 

 

 

Cursed Blog Tour: Guest Post by Thomas Enger

If you’ve read some of my previous posts you’ll know I’m currently too busy to review many books but I’m still taking part in a few blog tours and this is one that I’m particularly excited about.  I have the book itself from the lovely Karen at Orenda books so will read and review it in time, but for today I have a very interesting guest post from Thomas Enger on how he writes his novels.  Enjoy and don’t forget to check out the other dates in the tour!

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Blurb:   When Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, her husband discovers that his wife’s life is tangled in mystery. Hedda never left Oslo, the retreat has no record of her and, what’s more, she appears to be connected to the death of an old man, gunned down on the first day of the hunting season in the depths of the Swedish forests. Henning Juul becomes involved in the case when his ex-wife joins in the search for the missing woman, and the estranged pair find themselves enmeshed both in the murky secrets of one of Norway’s wealthiest families, and in the painful truths surrounding the death of their own son. When their lives are threatened, Juul is prepared to risk everything to uncover a sinister maze of secrets that ultimately leads to the dark heart of European history. Chilling, gritty and unputdownable, Cursed marks the return of one of Norway’s finest crime writers.

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Guest post:  How I write my novels

One of the most common questions I get when I travel around talking about my books, is how I go about writing a whole novel. Especially kids or young adults are curious about this, and I was, too, when I was younger.

I guess there are a lot of ways to write a novel. Some just start to write a scene, and then they take it from there. I guess, in theory, that’s one way to do it. When I was younger, that’s what I did, too. It’s not my method of choice anymore, and I’ll explain to you why.

I find that not knowing where you’re going, with anything, is a fun way to write, but it creates a lot more problems than it solves. It’s tricky enough to write a novel when you have outlined the story beforehand, because a lot of stuff happens to the story and the characters as you dive deeper into them, stuff that’s impossible to plan. So when you haven’t planned anything, you stand the chance of just writing a whole bunch of pages that will be of no use to you, at least in that particular story (you may be able to use it for something else later, though), as you would have to omit or change a lot. If you’re able to just start writing something, and when you’re done, you’re done, then chances are you are either lying, or simply a phenomenal genius. Most people aren’t, though. I know that I’m not.

So my process is usually something like this: I get an idea for … something, in a story. It may be the start of a story, it may be something in the middle of it, or it could be the ending. It could be a character, a prop, something that would catapult me into thinking about how I could put that idea into good use. It usually starts with the question “what if?”. What if you are talking to your friend on the phone and then that friend gets killed as you are talking to him? What if there existed a magical pen out there somewhere that you could write with, and those things you wrote, would end up happening? That least question actually led me to write a novel called The Evil Legacy, a dark fantasy young adult thriller so far only published in Norway and Denmark.

But I write that what if-question down, or that idea for a character, or that specific scene, and then I start to tinker around with it a little bit. I try to imagine what kind of characters would fit the story, and then I start to work on their backgrounds. I write whole CV’s for almost each and every one of my characters, which means that I know them quite well before I start the actual writing process. This can be quite tedious, but I find it very useful.

I also outline my story quite a bit, but not down to every last detail. I like to keep a few things open, as I know from experience that things very often take a turn for the unexpected as the writing takes me deeper into the story. Sometimes other ideas appear as I go along, and those ideas make me rethink the character’s role in the story, or what should happen next. It’s a dynamic process, but knowing a little bit about where you’re going before you start, is always helpful. To me, at least, because then I know what kind of effect those changes will have on the story as a whole.

So what I usually do, is that I quite quickly write my way through a very rough first draft. This is not in any way readable, couldn’t possibly be looked upon as “literature”, and I wouldn’t show it to anyone, but it helps me to get to know my characters and my story. Then I go back and start to change things. To me it’s always after that first draft is finished that I normally know what kind of story I’m going to tell. It’s not like I get it right the first time around.

Each of my six novels are the product of a very long process of writing and re-writing, sending drafts to my editors, talking about the characters and their motivations, bringing that input back to the drawing board, and then go back to the beginning. Again and again and again, until it’s good. And by that I mean not good as in good enough. I mean really good.

I wish it was some easier and more efficient way to do this, but so far I haven’t found it. But I’m continuously searching for a better method, for a better strategy, and whenever I meet and talk to other authors, that’s what I’m the most curious about. How they go about writing their stuff.

Two things are for certain, though: It’s not easy to write a novel, and there are more ways than one to do it. You just have to find a way that works for you.

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Author bio:  Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist. He made his debut with the
crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of 5 books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly,
skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news. Rights to the series have been sold to 26 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller
called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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