Anne Bonny #BookReview Out Of The Ashes by Vicky Newham 5* #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #DiverseReads @HQstories #MayaRahman #Series

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Out Of The Ashes by Vicky Newham ~ DI Maya Rahman #2
Review Copy

Synopsis ~

A tragic accident – or a ruthless killer?
When a flash mob on Brick Lane is interrupted by a sudden explosion, DI Maya Rahman dashes to the scene. A fire is raging through one of the city’s most infamous streets, the site of Maya’s childhood home. And the discovery of two charred bodies in the burnt-out building transforms an arson attack into a murder case.

With witnesses too caught up in the crowd to have seen anything useful, Maya is facing a complex investigation without a single lead. And, when reports of a second, even more horrifying crime land on Maya’s desk, it’s obvious there’s more at stake than she could ever have imagined. She must find the answers – before all of East London goes up in flames.

My Review ~

Out Of The Ashes is the second title in the DI Maya Rahman series. With this novel taking place in the diverse area of London known as Brick Lane. I was really looking forward to digging further into Maya’s personality and past as a character and I was not disappointed at all.

The novel opens with Rosa Feldman a Jewish business owner on Brick Lane. She is swept up with a local flash mob appears, narrowly just missing an explosion on the Lane. DI Maya Rahman and DS Dan Maguire are called to the scene. With two dead victims their investigation, just became potentially a double murder case…
Is this an accident? tragic arson? a terrorist attack? or a hate crime?

Through the story we are introduced to a wealth of interesting and diverse characters. This is clearly a theme that the author is passionate about and it reflects brilliantly on the page. A modern new crime series, with a modern protagonist and for a new era of young modern readers. I think Newham’s creation of Maya, is the perfect character to bring the younger readers to the genre.

Back to the story ~ Although Maya and Dan appear to have only a minor few leads. They lead to much more intriguing mysteries. Such as: a flash mob protest with a anti-gentrification mission. We learn of the various diverse communities. The racism they’ve faced historically and in the current climate.
There is much more depth to Brick Lane, than first assumed.

‘Working class areas of London are becoming the domain of the privileged’ 

The victims lives adds more confusion and complexity into the case. A man found dead, in the arms of a lover, but not his pregnant partner…
We are given some insight into Maya’s past with some interesting breadcrumb clues of her backstory. Why did Maya’s father go missing? And Why is Rosa Feldman convinced that he did not simply disappear?

I raced through the title in just one afternoon. It has various themes that really resonate with the reader. Family loyalty and people just trying to get by, with the support of their local communities. 5*

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Vicky Newham
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Sins As Scarlet by @NicObregon 5* #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #AmericanNoir ‘The novel is timely, accurate and raises awareness of the dangers the trans community face’

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Sins As Scarlet by Nicolas Obregon
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Former homicide detective Kosuke Iwata is on the run from his past . . .

Five years ago, he lost his family. Now he may have found his redemption.

Living in LA and working as a private detective, he spends his days spying on unfaithful spouses and his nights with an unavailable woman.

Still he cannot forget the family he lost in Tokyo.

But that all changes when a figure from his old life appears at his door demanding his help.

Meredith Nichol, a transgender woman and his wife’s sister, has been found strangled on the lonely train tracks behind Skid Row.

Soon he discovers that the devil is at play in the City of Angels and Meredith’s death wasn’t the hate crime the police believe it to be. Iwata knows that risking his life and future is the only way to silence the demons of his past.

Reluctantly throwing himself back in to the dangerous existence he only just escaped, Iwata discovers a seedy world of corruption, exploitation and murder – and a river of sin flowing through LA’s underbelly, Mexico’s dusty borderlands and deep within his own past.

My Review:

I am a huge fan of diverse novels and you don’t really get many more diverse than Sins As Scarlet. It features a variety of characters from all walks of life and differing cultures. The victim in the novel is a transgender woman and Inspector Kosuke Iwata is determined to solve the case.

The novel opens on the Mexican – USA border. A pregnant woman is fleeing, and she has sustained violent injuries. The truck is gaining on her as she recites a Spanish prayer. . .

‘Most sacred heart of Jesus, I accept from your hands whatever death may please you to send me into this night’

The United States border patrol are the figures that have given chase. With another unidentified male, making his escape. They murder the pregnant female and it is at this instance I knew, things were not as they seem at the border.
This novel was going to be very dark indeed.

Kosuke Iwata is a second-generation Japanese American citizen. He currently lives in Torrance in California. Iwata’s past is fully explored within the novel. He has known considerable emotional pain. Both in his childhood and adult life. He works as a private investigator, when he is asked to take a case by Kate Floccari (state prosecutor) with regards to her husband potentially cheating on her. Iwata relinquished his own police career in Japan and has never attempted to join the police forces in the USA.

‘He figured tomorrow would just be another day, another case’

90K people go missing in LA each year!
As the novel takes you around Los Angeles, the author does an impressive job of describing the various communities.
From the poverty of Skid Row to the wealthy untouchables.

Iwata is alone in his office when he is accosted by his mother in law, Charlotte Nichol. Iwata’s wife died previously, and Charlotte asks for his help to find the killer of her only surviving child. What makes the case so unique is that Charlotte’s son Julian had transitioned gender and was living as Meredith. Meredith was murdered two weeks ago, and the police have shown little to no interest.

‘I won’t ever forgive you for what you did to Cleo. But maybe you can still do some good in this world’

It is widely known that transgender women are at an extremely high risk of being the victim of violent crime. Although this is widely known and an issue globally. Little is done in the way of preventative measures and ensuring the safety of transgender women. In fact, 45% of hate crime victims are transgender women and sadly the statistics reflect and upward trend in the crime. The novel is timely, accurate and raises awareness of the dangers the trans community face.

Iwata attempts to gather information from LAPD cop detective Joseph Avery Silke. But has little success. The cops are simply not interested.

‘Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and 50 cents for your soul’ – Marilyn Monroe

Iwata has a contact in LAPD records and information, Earnell McCrae, who owes him a favour. He soon finds he has access to the police file and it does not look good. Meredith was living at Skid Row, she was a known prostitute and drug user. She was strangled on some train tracks and found by a homeless man. She had, what appears to be injuries of a sexual nature, but were they part of the murder? Or a sexual encounter? Did a punter discover her male genitalia and Meredith paid with her life?

Something happened to Meredith and Iwata finds his new case, also a quest for redemption. He begins his investigation by speaking to customers and staff at the various Latino exotic dancing bars. He learns of Meredith’s lover ‘Talky’ and friend Genevieve. He has little to go on and decides to research similar cases.

‘I know whoever killed Meredith is still out there. And I don’t think he’s finished’

Iwata uncovers a spate of local murders of transgender women. With five women dead and only one solved case. All except one, strangled. Is someone murdering transwomen? Do they make the perfect victim to a sexual predator?

‘There was a man with a garrotte and a taste for transgender women’

Iwata can’t get Meredith’s plight out of his head. The people he encounters at Skid row, stay with him long after he has left. The homeless, destitute, disabled, mentally ill and undocumented. They are the marginalised, vulnerable and undesired in society.

‘Meredith had moved a thousand miles to be herself. He wondered is she died for it too’

When Iwata attempts to contact the trans community he is met with a wall of silence. He hears of a trick rumoured to kill trans women, but rumour soon becomes urban legend. What he does uncover is a community of people, often rejected by their families and loved ones, forced to live on the fringes of society.

The novel is deeply layered and very intelligent. The author has done an outstanding job of describing the locations mentioned in the novel. The characters come alive on the page. You get a real sense of the struggles the trans community face and risk of violence in their daily lives. It appears to me that vulnerability and exploitation go hand in hand.

‘The devil is on every street corner in this place’

The novel has a brilliant ending and I can not wait for the next in the series. 5*

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Nicolas Obregon
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost by @RuthEstevez2 #Diversity in #YA fiction #NewRelease YA #Literarture Jiddy Vardy @ZunTold #UKYA #JiddyVardy

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Jiddy Vardy by Ruth Estevez
Full review to follow
Synopsis:

Jiddy is a survivor. Rescued at birth, she grows up in Robin Hood’s Bay, a village harbouring a dangerous secret. Just as romance blossoms and Jiddy finally feels like she belongs, figures from the past threaten to tear her world apart… A thrilling tale of one girl’s search for identity and love, set against a backdrop of smuggling and viole.

Guest post:

Diversity in YA Fiction

I believe there are many young people who aren’t reading because they don’t see it as an option. This could be for many reasons, access to books, difficulties reading, economic, it’s not a tradition in a family or environment to read, there are no role models who love reading, or you just can’t find anything you want to read.
Often, you just want to find a book that you relate to but can’t find it. A character with the same name as you can be enough to pick up that particular book. It could be set where you’re from. I picked up The Ballroom by Anna Hope because it was set in an old Victorian Mental Institution, as they were called, near where I used to live. My friend’s mum went in to do the inmates’ hair as they were called then. My friend Andy, used to drive us in his mini into the courtyard and out under the bridge to scare us. From what, I’m not sure, but it was dark at night and it was a thrill. So, to find a story set High Royds, made me want to read it. I picked up Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel, Ruth in a second hand bookshop, because well, I’d not seen another book called Ruth and that name’s special to me!
I’d like to think everyone out there could find a book with a name the same as theirs or a friend’s name. Or that it’s set in a place they know. Or it’s about how they are feeling and experiencing the world.
We love to say, ‘Yes! I feel exactly like that!’ It’s important in YA fiction for readers to be able to see characters and scenarios that you are going through so that you can see choices, solutions and how others cope with similar dilemmas.
And for books to be authentic, we need authors from diverse backgrounds, whether that be culturally, economically, socially, gender and sexual orientation, size, shape, skin colour, health-wise, in all ways. Personal experience makes a story ring true.
So…diverse writers need finding and encouraging. And how do we do that? Readers shouting what we want?! Writers writing about what’s important to them? And people in the publishing industry listening to that call.
With The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time all best-sellers, to name a few, and Meredith Rosso’s If I was your Girl, the first book written by a trans-gender author, the diverse stories featuring diverse characters are opening out. There are still many unheard voices out there of course.
I used my own experiences to write my YA novel, Jiddy Vardy, which is about a girl who is a foreigner in a tight knit community. I know my mum felt like this when we moved from the city of Bradford to a small rural village, when I was two. I felt like this when I was the only girl who went from my primary to secondary school. I could translate the feelings I felt to how Jiddy fought to belong.
One of the reasons, one of my main characters in my next book, The Monster Belt, is a redhead is because I am a redhead. Or, I should say, was – because my hair has changed colour, grown darker and duller over time. No actually, I change that back to ‘am.’ I am a redhead because I hold in me as an adult, all that being a redhead as a child and teenager has made me. And I’m not writing about a redhead that I so often see in fiction, plucky and fiery and not much said about her skin. Dee is a redhead who burns in the sun and I’m going to talk about it. And she is a brilliant character though I say so myself! There. Got that off my chest! Everyone needs representing and I have plenty of insider information on redheads. We want writers with plenty of insider information about their specialist subject! Because readers need to see themselves authentically in print.
There is also another reason why we need diversity in YA fiction… ‘no-one is an island.’ (Something my mum used to keep telling my sister and me.)
This can be translated as, we want and need to learn about other ways of being, other places and experiences, so that we can feel connected to everyone else. Reading outside our own experience and comfort zone helps us expand as human beings. We all want to grow and see other worlds, so that we can understand each other, don’t we?
Whichever way you look at it, it’s a win-win situation to have diversity in YA fiction. YA audiences are hungry to read about themselves and about different worlds and lives as well. And we need writers of all diversities to provide readers with that. So, publishers, nourish these writers. Please think long term and help these writers to grow and share their unique voices for all the unique readers out there.
And for those of you who don’t see anything for you right now, take up the challenge, pick up your pen, or start tapping on that keyboard and get writing yourself. There are organisations like We Need Diverse Books and Diversity in YA who work to give opportunities to those interested in publishing from minority backgrounds. Manchester’s new publishing company, ZunTold is engaging with young people through interactive story-telling on their website. Everywhere, there are initiatives. Find them. Let’s really make sure there is something for everyone and so readers can find a book they want to read.

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Ruth Estevez
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Strange Disappearance Of A Bollywood Star by @VaseemKhanUK 5* Genius @MulhollandUK #InspectorChopra #Ganesh #Mumbai #India

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The Strange Disappearance Of A Bollywood Star by Vaseem Khan
Synopsis:

The enchanting new Baby Ganesh Agency novel sees Inspector Chopra and his elephant sidekick investigating the dark side of Bollywood.

Mumbai thrives on extravagant spectacles and larger-than-life characters.

But even in the city of dreams, there is no guarantee of a happy ending.

Rising star and incorrigible playboy Vikram Verma has disappeared, leaving his latest film in jeopardy. Hired by Verma’s formidable mother to find him, Inspector Chopra and his sidekick, baby elephant Ganesha, embark on a journey deep into the world’s most flamboyant movie industry.

As they uncover feuding stars, failed investments and death threats, it seems that many people have a motive for wanting Verma out of the picture.

And yet, as Chopra has long suspected, in Bollywood the truth is often stranger than fiction…

My Review:

This novel is the third in the Chopra and baby Ganesha series. It is set in modern-day Mumbai and it is easily one of my favourite series. I read the second novel whilst in hospital with severe DVT. I was bedbound and in agony, yet when I opened the book I was able to completely escape. This series transports you to India and with the clever plot, keeps you engaged in the plot and the characters.
So here goes for my review. . .

Inspector Ashwin Chopra is back! His wife Poppy’s heart is filled with love and happiness due to addition to their family Irfan. Poppy really develops as a character within this novel. It is brilliant to see her becoming a more central character in the series. I am a huge fan of Poppy, she just comes across, so incredibly well to readers.
Poppy has convinced Chopra to take her to see a local Bollywood show. The show will feature a comedian Jonny Pinto and notorious Bollywood playboy Vikram ‘Vicky’ Verma. There is a magical disappearing and re-appearing act, which leaves Chopra with a bee in his bonnet!

‘He had met many privileged individuals in his life – so often their lives were shadowed by unhappiness’

Shortly after the show, Chopra is intrigued to learn that Vicky has been confined to his house by a mysterious illness. Then Chopra finds himself summoned to Vicky’s mother’s exclusive residence in the Malabar Hill area. He learns from Bijli (Vicky’s mother) that Vicky has gone missing with no trace of his whereabouts. The set of his latest Bollywood movie is on standby until he returns.

‘This was India, after all, where the impossible became merely improbable’

Bijli Verma is quite the Bollywood sensation herself. She was a huge star and gained a cult following, until raising a family with her husband Jignesh Verma became her sole priority. Bijli is regarded as outspoken and brave. Often courting controversy in her wake and not afraid to stand up to the right-wing organisations in India’s political circuit. Bijli is not a woman that can be controlled, dominated or told. But now she finds herself in a difficult position. With her son missing and a movie backed by the Indian Global Bank. Bijli can not turn to the police force and needs complete discretion. Chopra finds himself in-charge of his most glamourous case to date!

Chopra begins his investigation by meeting with the various professionals in the Bollywood movie scene. He discovers that Vicky is not well liked. He may have the looks, style, wealth and playboy image but that doesn’t always generate the right kind of attention. Described as ‘mentally unstable’ and a loner, Chopra is coming to see a different side to Vicky altogether.

‘That boy collects enemies like the rest of us make friends’

Chopra is informed of a series of threatening notes sent to Vicky. With one sent on the first day of each month and signed from ‘the people’s judge’. Is this a simple ransom demand? If so where is the demand?

Chopra also learns from assistant director Farukh Mehboob in film city, that he was forced to hire Vicky at his mother’s demand via producer P.K Das. The only person that Chopra can establish as a friend of Vicky’s is fellow Bollywood starlet Poonam Panipat.

‘Bollywood is a nest of vipers, and what vipers feed on is the milk of scandal’ Poonam Panipat

When Poonam explains to Chopra the inner workings of the Bollywood elite, he comes to see that it is far from its glamorous image held in the public eye. Chopra is further shocked, when Poonam recounts exactly how she got her break in the movie industry.
It’s not just Hollywood, that holds its shady and seedy secrets.

‘Revenge has its consequences, not just on those it was extracted upon’

As Chopra continues his Bollywood case. Across Mumbai his right-hand man, Abbas Rangwalla has a unique case of his own. Rangwalla has been asked by close friend Gerry Fernandes to investigate the eunchs of Mumbai. It is a case that will challenge everything he previously believed in.

At Chopra and Poppy’s residence, Irfan comes to the rescue of a homeless woman. Who in return, saves Poppy’s sanity! Chopra’s business and home life continues to thrive, thanks to Poppy.

Bijli receives a ransom demand for 20 million rupees, with threats to return Vicky in pieces if she fails to comply. The case of the missing Bollywood star, is heating up and a mother would do anything to protect her son, wouldn’t she?

‘The best way to get your head shot of was to stick it above the parapet’

As Chopra tries to assist Bijli with the ransom demand, he finds more unanswered questions and will come up against an old nemesis. Chopra’s will find his opinions on justice and power are fundamentally challenged.

‘A lifetime of policing had taught him that the word of a criminal was worth nothing’

The plot takes you on a journey through the Bollywood industry. Where stars will sell their soul to the devil for fame and status. The novel also has some strong emotional themes. The theme of parenting and raising offspring is a central theme. For a series that never boasts of having the ‘perfect couple’, Poppy and Chopra certainly are one!

The novel builds to a dramatic ending, layered with thought-provoking moments and a deep sense of unconditional love.
For me, this proves that Chopra is one of the finest diverse series.
5* Genius

‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others’ Gandhi

Vaseem Khan
Vaseem Khan
Author’s links:
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The Unexpected Inheritance Of Inspector Chopra #1 Review and Q&A
The Perplexing Theft Of The Jewel In The Crown #2 Listed in Favourites of 2017
The Strange Disappearance Of A Bollywood Star #3

Coming Soon. . . . . . 

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Murder At The Grand Raj Palace
Synopsis:

In the enchanting new Baby Ganesh Agency novel, Inspector Chopra and his elephant sidekick investigate a murder at Mumbai’s grandest hotel.

For a century the iconic Grand Raj Palace Hotel has welcomed the world’s elite. From film stars to foreign dignitaries, anyone who is anyone stays at the Grand Raj.
The last thing the venerable old hotel needs is a murder…

When American billionaire Hollis Burbank is found dead – the day after buying India’s most expensive painting – the authorities are keen to label it a suicide. But the man in charge of the investigation is not so sure. Chopra is called in – and discovers a hotel full of people with a reason to want Burbank dead.

Accompanied by his sidekick, baby elephant Ganesha, Chopra navigates his way through the palatial building, a journey that leads him steadily to a killer, and into the heart of darkness . . .

Due for release 3rd May 2018 #CantWait 

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Review Scorched Earth by @davidmarkwriter 5* #CrimeFiction #NewRelease @MulhollandUK #DSMcAvoy The ultimate betrayal requires the ultimate revenge. . .

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Scorched Earth by David Mark
DS McAvoy #7

Synopsis:

The police think Crystal Heathers isn’t missing.

The trainee detective assigned to the case isn’t so sure.

McAvoy thinks someone was being held at the derelict building where they just found a body pinned to the wall…and that all the signs point to it being a little girl.

But why would anyone not report a kidnapping?

And how far would someone go to get revenge?

The case will test McAvoy to breaking point – as the crimes of the present lead him to a final violent confrontation with an enemy from his own past.

My review:

Scorching Earth centres around a complex police investigation with ties in the past. Starting the reader at the Calais refugee camp and ending on the streets of Hull. It is cleverly written and has brilliant diverse characters. I have read other books in the DS McAvoy series and I have huge respect for the author and his ability to bring alive a broad-range of characters. The Hull the author brings alive is a real reflection of society, something sometimes lacking in modern crime novels.

The novel opens in the Calais migrant camp and the inhumane conditions make for shocking reading. The jungle home to thousands of desperate souls, is far from an easy life. It is at this camp that we first meet Manu, Golgol and Aishitia. Whilst one of the men is fearless and cruel, another has a heart full of betrayal and an appetite for revenge.

‘There are men here who prey upon the weak’

Meanwhile in Hull, young Primrose Musgrave is with her pony instructor Crystal when she is kidnapped. The kidnappers leave behind a sinister warning…..

‘Tell him I have come to repay his betrayal’

‘Tell him he is going to pay’

Across Hull city centre, Detective Sargent Aector McAvoy is with his wife Roisin and two young children. He is visiting the Autumn Days care home and ex-copper resident Perry Royle. Perry is alone in the world and via a twist of events, has come to rely upon McAvoy’s visits. However, when the visit takes place, Perry is full of details of suspicious behaviour at a local abandoned building.
Unable to investigate on his own, he urges McAvoy to pursue his leads.
It isn’t long until McAvoy smells the distinct stench of human remains…….

At the scene the body of Mahesh Kahrivardan is discovered. The body is secured in the wall, with the brutal use of nail guns. Which reminds the surrounding coppers of the local criminal gang the ‘headhunters’. The criminal gang is known to be merciless and professional, the nail gun their signature. But how has Mahesh gotten himself mixed up with a criminal gang? Why did they see fit to have him murdered?

Further investigation reveals that Mahesh had a possible captive at the abandoned building. With an equestrian knot in the ropes and a missing persons case on Crystal, it isn’t long until McAvoy connects the dots….

Manu and Aishitia’s past is explored and in their childhood, they have known extreme suffering, brutality and death. Former child soldiers, they have their own form of brotherhood and unique style of correcting betrayal.

‘The only memories that matter are the ones in your heart’ – Aishitia

The case has various spin-off investigations, with McAvoy even investigating horse neglect at one point. Nothing gets past McAvoy and his coppers nose.

There is a broad list of police officers that take part in the multiple cases. I think this gives the novel a realistic feel. The main themes of the novel cover so many areas of policing, such as organised crime, dirty cops, immigration, people trafficking and the drugs squad. The novel creates room for debate on themes of vigilante justice, violence & power, crime & wealth and international crime.

‘Greed is just hunger under a different name’

DS McAvoy has so many strong feelings towards the abuse of individuals and power of fear. He questions his own instincts. Is he motivated by stories in her own past?
What happens when you treat people as commodities?
How do people value human life as worthless in comparison to money?

‘When a man has tired of killing, he has tired of life’

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and loved the unique insights into the various themes. The author has clearly researched well, and it shows.
This is a brilliant edition to the DS McAvoy series! 5*

DM
Authors Links:
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