Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview Our Little Secrets by @PRitchieAuthor 4* #CrimeFiction #GraceMacallan #Series #Scotland @bwpublishing #OurLittleSecrets

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Our Little Secrets by Peter Ritchie ~ Grace Macallan #5
Review Copy

Synopsis ~

At a dark place in Edinburgh’s heart, secrets refuse to lie dormant.

At Police Scotland HQ, Grace Macallan has pitched up in Counter Corruption. But the demons of her past are never far behind.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh’s gangland is in turmoil. As a new breed of upstarts challenges the old criminal order, their battle for territory causes serious havoc.

Into the war steps DI Janet Hadden. Ambitious, hardbitten and addicted to risk-taking, she knows how to throw opponents off balance. But when she’s thwarted, Hadden seeks help from a notorious underworld fixer, a man who keeps secrets but always extracts a price.

Beset by violence and double-crossing, Grace is soon embroiled in a savage game of cat and mouse with colleagues and criminals alike. With all sides driven by dark desires, theirs is an endgame that will take Grace down unless she holds her nerve.

My Review ~

The title opens with the usual introduction to the various characters and their backstories. The characterisation in Peter Ritchie’s novels is always intense. Think along the lines of Martina Cole or Stuart MacBride.
This time we are introduced to Davy ‘Tonto’ McGill, as he is being chased by an angry ‘Pete the Pole’ with an axe, an average day for Police Scotland. We are also introduced to Detective Inspector Janet Hadden, whom I took an instant dislike to. For she is no Grace Macallan. The novel follows the story of Detective Hadden as she pursues Scotland’s finest criminal using a variety of strategies, some of them not being legit…

‘Dominic Grainger was her real target’ 

Dominic Grainger is the type of baddie, that leaps from the pages. He is struggling to navigate the criminal underworld, whilst staying top of the pecking order with his two brothers Paul and Sean, and keeping father-in-law gangster Arthur Hamilton at arms length. It isn’t long until Dominic finds himself on Hadden’s radar…

‘Time and time again she was surprised by the frailty of men, and she was equipped to exploit those failings wherever she needed to’

The novel then explores the past of Dominic’s wife Jude Hamilton. The tensions that lead to a deadly rivalry between Dominic and Arthur. This is a title packed to the brim with gang wars, confidential informants, dirty cops and gritty violence!

‘A rat was a rat, even when you put a little sheriff’s badge on it and told it you cared’ 

Gangland adultery with deadly consequences! 4*

PR
Peter Ritchie
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My Review of Cause Of Death ~ Grace Macallan #1
My Review of Evidence Of Death ~ Grace Macallan #2
My Review of Shores Of Death ~ Grace Macallan #3
My Review of Where No Shadows Fall ~ Grace Macallan #4

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview The River by Peter Heller 4* #NewRelease #LiteraryFiction #Mystery @wnbooks #Survival #Canada

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The River by Peter Heller
Review Copy

Synopsis ~

Two friends
Wynn and Jack have been best friends since their first day of college, brought together by their shared love of books and the great outdoors.

The adventure of a lifetime
When they decide to take time off university and canoe down the Maskwa River in northern Canada, they anticipate the ultimate wilderness experience.
No phones.
No fellow travellers.
No way of going back.

A hellish ride
But as a raging wildfire starts to make its way towards them, their expedition becomes a desperate race for survival. And when a man suddenly appears, claiming his wife has vanished, the fight against nature’s destructive power becomes entangled with a much deadlier game of cat and mouse.

My Review ~

‘The only tracks in the mud of the portages were wolf and moose, otter, bear’

The prologue warns us of a local forest fire. The opening within this title is at times difficult, with the intensity of the story and the descriptive writing. But once Wynn and Jack’s Backstory is revealed it does become a much easier read. Their childhood and family relationships are explored and we come to understand what drives them to want to be alone in the wilderness.

‘There should be two paddles, a man and a woman’
On their trek down river they come across a man (Pierre) alone. He talks of a missing wife named Maia, but she is nowhere to be seen. Wynn and Jack are torn as what to do, they are not only battling natures elements but the elements of great danger with a forest fire quickly spreading. They decide to venture back to the couples camp and assess the situation from there. On the journey back, 10 days of provisions are lost and things don’t look any brighter when they arrive at the couple’s camp, to find Maia, a victim of a violent attack.

Who did this to Maia? Was this a bear attack? A domestic violence incident?
Who can Wynn and Jack trust? 

‘It’s a death sentence’ 

The remote location really adds to the sense of despair and isolation from assistance. There are various scenarios for Pierre and Maia’s plight, scenarios both Wynn and Jack attempt to understand. The hunger, exposure or the elements and exhaustion seeps from the pages. I really felt as though I was on the river, in a kayak, with the characters.
I raced through the pages in less than 3hrs, a perfect Saturday afternoon read! 4*

PH
Peter Heller
GoodReads

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Anne Bonny #BookReview Those Who Are Loved by @VicHislop Victoria Hislop 4* #NewRelease #Historical #ww2Fiction #ww2 #Athens #Greece #GreekHistory @headlinepg

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Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop
Review Copy

Synopsis ~

The gripping new novel by Sunday Times Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars.

Athens 1941. After decades of political uncertainty, Greece is polarised between Right- and Left-wing views when the Germans invade.
Fifteen-year-old Themis comes from a family divided by these political differences. The Nazi occupation deepens the fault-lines between those she loves just as it reduces Greece to destitution. She watches friends die in the ensuing famine and is moved to commit acts of resistance.

In the civil war that follows the end of the occupation, Themis joins the Communist army, where she experiences the extremes of love and hatred and the paradoxes presented by a war in which Greek fights Greek.

Eventually imprisoned on the infamous islands of exile, Makronisos and then Trikeri, Themis encounters another prisoner whose life will entwine with her own in ways neither can foresee.
And finds she must weigh her principles against her desire to escape and live.

As she looks back on her life, Themis realises how tightly the personal and political can become entangled. While some wounds heal, others deepen.

This powerful new novel from Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop sheds light on the complexity and trauma of Greece’s past and weaves it into the epic tale of an ordinary woman compelled to live an extraordinary life.

My Review ~

Those Who Are Loved is an incredibly deep and emotive novel. It is quite lengthy at 496 pages and you do become immersed in the story of Themis Stavridus. We follow her from a young girl full of hope and optimism, to a young woman forced to make and stand by difficult choices. Eventually we return to Themis as an elderly lady reflecting to on her life and the repercussions of the war on their lives as a family.
Whilst I do see this as a ‘holiday read’ I would urge readers to prepare themselves for deep research, ww2 history and the fight between the far-left & far-right in 1940s Greece.

The novel opens in Athens 2016 as the family of four generations, gather for the birthday of Themis Stavridis. As Themis reflects on the current political climate in Greece. Of Homelessness/poverty, the rise of fascism and the anti-immigrant rhetoric. She is consumed with her own past, that she has never previously spoken of…
‘Her life story was not an heirloom, but it was all she had’

‘Once they were seated, Themis began to talk’

We are then rapidly transported to 1930’s Athens and the home of Themis’s childhood. Here we are introduced to her mother Eleftheria and her three siblings Thanasis, Panos and Margarita. Their father Pavlos is a merchant shipping worker and spends large periods away from the family home. They live in a simple and yet modest home on Antigoris Street. But for Themis and her siblings, this will also prove to be a time of great change as they end up being raised by their grandmother Kyria Koralis.
Kyria does her best to raise the children, but she is fighting a tough battle due to the economic depression hitting Greece. The children however, grow up surrounded by maternal love from her.

The novel jumps ahead 10yrs to Oct 1940. Greece is now vulnerable to the German and Italian army’s and potential invasion. The political and wartime climate is explained within the novel. It is done through the characters experiences, and therefore I did not feel like I was sat in a history lesson. Despite taking on a through amount of historical information. When it comes to far-left and far-right sympathies, the siblings are very divided. With Thanasis and Margarita able to accept the far-rights values. Whilst brother Panos sympathises with the far-left of the Soviets.
Themis is unsure to which side she feels a political alliance. That is until she meets school friend and refugee Fotini. Who has been raised in a different way of life, with a different set of politics.

‘Hitler doesn’t respect this country anymore than Mussolini does’

9th April 1941 – Greece becomes an occupied territory of the German Reich. The Nazi top brass blame the British Whilst Thanasis and Margarita are willing to accept this. It is not them who will truly pay the price for Nazi ideology. For Fotini’s mother loses her job, the family begin to starve and before long Fotini is wasting away.

‘Germany was a friend of Greece, not a foe’

Themis’s coming of age in occupied Greece, see her deal with a wide-range of emotional problems. Panos joins the resistance and before long it is Greek vs Greek, occupier vs communist. There are protests and violence. A  resulting massacre at the village of Kalavryta, showing the full horror of the Nazi regime.

The novel continues to tell the story of Themis’s family through the Nazi occupation, to the arrival of the British and eventually to the new government, bringing new hope.
It was easy to put yourself in the teenage siblings situations and walk in their shoes. Destruction of their home town, uncertainty and political divisions between the citizens.
When Themis vows to join the communists. her membership opens her eyes to the full extent of life in the far-left.

‘This is the harmony I want to restore to our country’

we continue on our journey with Themis, through her imprisonment at the most brutal island prison. We also see 1954, 1967, 1976, 1985 and ultimately back to the present day of 2016. With the long drawn out story told, Themis’s family is now fully aware of her past. When I finished the title, I suddenly felt bereft without the attachment to the novel and Themis’s story. I felt as though I had been with the family through their ups and downs. Their hardships and rare moments they had known  peace. It is funny sometimes how you can finish a near 500 page book and still want more.

This my first title read by the author and will definitely not be my last! 4*

VH
Victoria Hislop
Website
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Her Kind by @NiamhBoyce #Ireland #Historical #WitchCraft @PenguinIEBooks

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Her Kind by Niamh Boyce
Review Copy

Synopsis ~

1324, Kilkennie

A woman seeks refuge for herself and her daughter in the household of a childhood friend.

The friend, Alice Kytler, gives her former companion a new name, Petronelle, a job as a servant, and warns her to hide their old connection.

Before long Petronelle comes to understand that in the city pride, greed and envy are as dangerous as the wolves that prowl the savage countryside. And she realizes that Alice’s household is no place of safety.

Once again, Petronelle decides to flee. But this time she confronts forces greater than she could ever have imagined and she finds herself fighting for more than her freedom …

Tense, moving and atmospheric, Her Kind is a vivid re-imagining of the events leading up to the Kilkenny Witch Trial.

My Review ~

‘Where was the maid of Dame Alice Kytler?’

The novel opens in 1324 Kilkenny, Ireland. There are a wealth of various characters from Bishop Ledrede to Dame Alice and the humble servants such as Petronelle De Midia. We become aware that Alice and Petronelle have a shared past which is shrouded in secrecy. A past they must never speak of…

‘If only it was as easy to stop dreaming as it was to stop speaking’ – Basilia

Basilia is Petronelle’s daughter whom must portray herself as a mute. Which becomes more and more difficult when accusations begin to unsettle all the women. The era is one of female oppression and silence. The women may know more than they can let on. But as women they are forbidden from speaking out…

‘Anyone who speaks against their Bishop is either a lunatic or a heretic’

I found the whole combination of medieval history, Irish history and suspicion very dark and mysterious. The accusations of witchcraft and religious conflict of the era add to the authenticity. History proves, women rarely escaped punishment for their perceived ‘infractions’ against the church and society’s idea of common decency.

While the dialogue may not be 100% historically accurate. The title is one of fiction, it is written to be a fictional re-telling of an historical event. Unfortunately we will never be able to understand the full emotions of the women accused in the various witch trials in Ireland and the UK.
I really enjoyed Basilia’s characterisation and the ending left me open mouthed! 4*

NB
Niamh Boyce
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James 4* #Fantasy #BlackLeopardRedWolf

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Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James
My Own Copy ~ Hardback

Synopsis ~

‘The child is dead. There is nothing left to know.’

Tracker is a hunter, known throughout the thirteen kingdoms as one who has a nose – and he always works alone. But he breaks his own rule when, hired to find a lost child, he finds himself part of a group of hunters all searching for the same boy. Each of these companions is stranger and more dangerous than the last, from a giant to a witch to a shape-shifting Leopard, and each has secrets of their own.

As the mismatched gang follow the boy’s scent from perfumed citadels to infested rivers to the enchanted darklands and beyond, set upon at every turn by creatures intent on destroying them, Tracker starts to wonder: who really is this mysterious boy? Why do so many people want to stop him being found? And, most important of all, who is telling the truth and who is lying?

Marlon James weaves a tapestry of breathtaking adventure through a world at once ancient and startlingly modern. And, against this exhilarating backdrop of magic and violence, he explores the fundamentals of truth, the limits of power, the excesses of ambition, and our need to understand them all.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf is the first novel in Marlon James’s Dark Star Trilogy.

My Review ~

‘Not everything the eye sees should be spoken by the mouth’

In this highly anticipated fantasy novel, we follow the story of Tracker. His past is vague and as the reader, you become unsure who to trust. Is Tracker a trustworthy narrator of his own story?
There is a long and in-depth introduction to who Tracker is. His search for a young boy presumed to have been stolen by a witch, his body parts for sale.
But this title is so much bigger than just Tracker, prepare yourself for a shape-shifting leopard, a mysterious smoke girl and a giraffe boy…

“I need you to help me find a fly” he said
“Then consult the spider”

At times I will confess to feeling slightly ‘lost’ in the whole story. But after watching various interviews with the author, this is how we are supposed to be feeling and he reminds the reader it’s only #1 in a trilogy.
The title definitely picks up more after pg97.
Be aware, there are stories within stories and you have to pay attention!
I usually read at a pretty impressive speed of 100 pages an hour. However, with Marlon James’s titles I am much slower. It takes me (as an experienced reader of 300+ titles per year) a lot longer to digest. I’m unsure if this is due to the genre (I am a newb at fantasy), the dialogue and dialect or the intensity of the novel itself. Perhaps a combination of all of these points.

“You speak of witches?”

As said above this is #1 in the trilogy and we will be treated to three narrators and three variations of the same story. This is in keeping with African mythology and I have huge respect for the author in maintaining these levels of detail and accuracy within this trilogy. I found myself reading huge chunks of the story and then wanting to saviour it all, leaving gaps between reading and even reading entire novels in between.

Marlon James is a confident and skilled writer. 4* 

“The boy we seek. He is alive. And I know where he is”

mj
Marlon James
Website
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