Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview Blackpool Lass by Maggie Mason 5* @Authormary #Saga #Blackpool @LittleBrownUK @littlebookcafe Orphaned and alone, she’ll make her own way in the world. . .

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Blackpool Lass by Maggie Mason
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Orphaned and destitute, will Grace find her own way in the world?

When Grace’s Ma passes away and her Da’s ship sinks with all hands, Grace is utterly alone in the world. She’s sent to an orphanage in Blackpool, but the master has an eye for a pretty young lass. Grace won’t be his victim, so she runs, destitute, into the night.

In Blackpool, she finds a home with the kindly Sheila and Peggy – and meets a lovely airman. But it’s 1938, and war is on the horizon. Will Grace ever find the happiness and home she deserves?

My Review:

The novel opens in Blackpool 1932, we follow protagonist Grace as she tries to navigate a life of hardship and poverty. I will admit that this is possibly the darkest saga, I have EVER read! It really shines the light on the vulnerability of young women in the 1930s/1940s era. The blatant and systemic sexual abuse of young women and the choices they are forced to make.

Family life for Grace changes substantially throughout the years. Whilst various characters are never kind to Grace, she is shown some hope via her friendship with Sheila and Peggy.

Part one of the novel reveals the year 1932-1933. Grace is 13yrs old and already learning to avoid the unwanted advances of her father. Her mother is bedridden and unable to protect her daughter. When Grace’s pa’s ship is sunk off the coast of island; her mother simply loses the will to live. Which places Grace in the unfortunate circumstance of being an orphan.

Grace is taken in by her granny. However, although this offers Grace some structure and stability with schooling. Her granny is forgetful and has ‘episodes’ of forgetfulness. We as readers gather that Grace’s granny is within the stages of the onset of dementia. This being 1933, the level of understanding and support simply isn’t there for Grace or her granny and ultimately this leads Grace taking up residency at Halford House a children’s refugee founded by the Christian fellows of Manchester.

Only at Halford’s house, life is far from Christian. Grace strikes up an instant friendship with fellow orphan Jeanie. When Jeanie informs Grace of EXACTLY how the children’s home is run, she is understandable terrified. This children’s home is the stuff of most people’s WORST nightmares!
‘She couldn’t take in what these girls seemed to accept as normal’

With no hope of a future at the home and no voice to speak out against the conditions. Grace is left with only one option, that of escape. But escape will not come easy to Grace and in her attempt to flee, Jeanie refuses to leave. Which leave Grace carrying not only a dark secret but a feeling of extreme guilt for many years to come. . .

Grace eventually ends up with Sheila and her mother Peggy in Blackpool. The family know just how to hide Grace in case the authorities are searching for her.
‘Grace you’re in a circus family now. Such things as turning a girl into a boy are natural to us’ – Sheila

Part two of the novel covers the year 1938-1939, Grace is blossoming into a beautiful young woman that enjoys regular nights out at the Blackpool tower ballroom. But happiness never lasts long for Grace. I began to wonder how much hardship can one woman survive? It was far from over yet!

The saga is much darker than I assumed. That being said I feel it is possibly very accurate to the way in which children and women have suffered throughout history.
Maggie Mason/Mary wood can certainly spin a yarn and this novel as dark as it is, is my favourite of hers so far! 5*

MM
Maggie Mason – Mary wood
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My Review of, The Street Orphans by Mary Wood
My review of, Brighter Days Ahead by Mary Wood

Author Bio:

Maggie Mason is a pseudonym of author Mary Wood.

Mary writes historical sagas for Pan Macmillan covering the late nineteenth century to mid-twentieth including both wars. She has 9 books in print and another – THE FORGOTTEN DAUGHTER is released in December.

Under her pen name of Maggie Mason, Mary writes regional sagas set in Blackpool, again covering the time period as above. She has her first THE BLACKPOOL LASS published this week – 20th September.

Mary lives in Blackpool and enjoys researching the history of her home town, coming up with some surprising facts and excited to uncover material for future books.

Born the 13th child of 15 children, Mary experienced life at the raw end. Though she says of her childhood that though poor they were happy and were rich in love.

Mary writes full time now having ended her 9 – 5 working life in the Probation service. This experience gave the grittiness she brings to her writing as Mary says she feels compelled to tell it how it is.

***Don’t miss the other bloggers on the blog tour***
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong #CrimeFiction #Psychological #Thriller @LittleBrownUK ‘The Good Son is eerie, dark and creepy’

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The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong
My own copy
Synopsis:

YOU WAKE UP COVERED IN BLOOD
THERE’S A BODY DOWNSTAIRS
YOUR MOTHER’S BODY

YOU DIDN’T DO IT. DID YOU?
HOW COULD YOU, YOU’VE ALWAYS BEEN THE GOOD SON

When Yu-jin wakes up covered in blood, and finds the body of his mother downstairs, he decides to hide the evidence and pursue the killer himself.

Then young women start disappearing in his South Korean town. Who is he hunting? And why does the answer take him back to his brother and father who lost their lives many years ago.

The Good Son is inspired by a true story.

My Review:

The Good Son is a creepy and engaging read. It slowly draws you in to the plot and you HAVE to know more. The central character Yu-Jin is brilliantly written. I cannot wait to read the authors other novels when they are translated into English.

The novel opens with Yu-Jin aka the good son. He is 25yrs old, a model student and athlete. He is also off his meds. . .
He awakens one morning early due to a phone call. But upon awaking quickly notices he is covered in blood. He follows the trail of bloody footprints and find his mother with her throat cut.

He immediately calls the police but realises the situation and what will be interpreted from it. At times his memory is fragmented, and he is struggling to remember what has occurred. This is when we begin to learn more and more about Yu-Jin and what kind of man he really is.

‘After all, being true to life wasn’t the only way to tell a story’

Yu-Jin had recently gotten into law school. He is educated and intelligent but suffers from some form of mental health condition. He has had a troubled childhood and his father and brother’s whereabouts is unknown. He describes his mother as both protective and controlling, yet he maintains an emotional bond. Yu-Jin is a fascinating character, because he is an unreliable narrator of the story. Also because we the reader desperately seek the truth.
Who killed Yu-Jin’s mother? Can Yu-Jin identify the killer?

The Good Son is eerie, dark and creepy.
It’s perfect for fans of the horror/psychological genre. 4*

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Ruin by @DervlaMcTiernan 5* #CrimeFiction #NewRelease #Ireland @LittleBrownUK

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The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan
Synopsis:

THE SECRETS OF THE PAST WILL EXPOSE THE CRIMES OF THE PRESENT . . .

On his first week on the job, Garda Cormac Reilly responds to a call at a decrepit country house to find two silent, neglected children waiting for him – fifteen-year-old Maude and five-year-old Jack. Their mother lies dead upstairs.

Twenty years later, Cormac has left his high-flying career as a detective in Dublin and returned to Galway. As he struggles to navigate the politics of a new police station, Maude and Jack return to haunt him.

What ties a recent suicide to the woman’s death so long ago?
And who among his new colleagues can Cormac really trust?

My Review:

The dark heart of Ireland’s religious past is explored in this gritty crime fiction novel.
I was absolutely hooked, as I raced from cover to cover.

Newbie Garda Cormac Reilly is sent to an isolated location by fellow cop Marcus Tully. The location is so remote, he begins to wonder if this a hazing, due to his short-time on the police force. Eventually, he locates Dower House in the small village of Kilmore. What he finds behind the doors, will shake him to his core and haunt him for many years to come.

A young girl opens the door to reveal a scene of neglect and despair. The house has no power, is cold and riddled with mould. The children appear emaciated and mistreated, with the small boy Jack showing signs of a recent beating. There are items of alcohol and drug use, laying around the property. Cormac is horrified, and he is yet to discover the body. . .

‘How were you supposed to handle traumatised children’

In the upper floor of the property lays the children’s mother. Her life has expired, and the children have been left to fend for themselves. Cormac spots what he thinks are track marks on the mother’s arms.
How did nobody know, what was happening at Dower House?

Cormac takes the young children to the hospital. He feels out of his depth and lost for words. The sight of Maude 15yrs and Jack 5yrs, is one he will never forget.
When Maude goes missing at the hospital, never to be seen again. It adds another layer of mystery, to an already baffling case. But no one asks questions and the case soon becomes forgotten by all.

‘The best interests of the child came second’

20yrs later in Galway, Ireland. A young woman named Aisling is contemplating her future with her partner Jack. She has recently discovered she is pregnant and as a young doctor, it fills her with apprehension for what her future will hold. Her dreams of a career in medicine, seem almost over. Then the Garda arrive. . .

Cormac has suffered a career fall from grace. No longer the golden boy of Dublin’s special detective unit. He must seek pastures new, or for Cormac pastures of old.
The police officers are also looking into the rape and murder of a student. The case draws comparisons to the cold case of Maura Hughes, a young girl who was rumoured to be having an affair with a teacher.

Through Jack’s suicide, Aisling becomes acquainted with his long-lost sister. A sister she never knew existed. The two women become increasingly concerned about the Garda’s assumption, this is a suicide. Jack had everything to live for.
So, who would want Jack dead?

Maude has returned from Australia and we learn she is now a woman of some considerable means. She is driven, determined and has a ruthless quest for justice.
The two women united by grief, won’t rest until they know the truth.

The novel covers various themes well documented in the history. But it does so, with such a personal touch, that you feel distraught at the plight of the young children. As you read on, you want them to have known love, peace and kindness in their adult lives. But life isn’t always fair, and an abused child is never promised a second chance.
A great novel with haunting historical references 5*

DT
Dervla McTiernan
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Final Hour by @TheTomWood 5* #Victor #Assassin #Thriller @LittleBrownUK

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The Final Hour by Tom Wood – Victor the assassin #7
Synopsis:

From bestselling author Tom Wood comes a unique and gasp-inducing Victor thriller that turns all your expectations on their head . . .

Former CIA agent Antonio Alvarez has been tracking a vicious murderer for years, a nameless hitman responsible for numerous homicides.

Once, the Agency deflected him away from his search, but now promotion has given him a second chance to right the past.

Only problem is, the killer has vanished.

Thousands of miles away, the professional known as Victor has stopped working – recently he began to care; he made mistakes. But there’s another assassin, Raven, who needs his help – and she is hard to refuse . . .

My Review:

A ruthless hitman and a female assassin, this is one kick ass novel!

I was really looking forward to this novel and it was practically calling to me from the book shelves. Despite having a mountain of a TBR pile, I decided to give in to temptation. I am so glad I did. The novel is action-packed and grips you from the start. It had moments it reminded me of Kill Bill the movie and Hitman the game. Thanks to my big brother, I spent many hours watching him navigate the various missions on Hitman. The world of professional hired killers, is always going to be intriguing and this novel does not disappoint. Not on one single page!

The novel opens with a man in a rural church in County Cork, Ireland. It is a small village community but this evening a man walks in to make a confession. . .

‘Forgive me father, for I have sinned. It’s exactly one year since my last confession’

The unknown man confesses to multiple murders. It is at this point I started to wonder if the whiskey drinking priest, would make it out of this chapter alive!

In alternate chapters we are introduced to a woman, in hospital over-coming a recent neurotoxin poisoning. Brought in, dead on arrival she has had to claw her way back to life. She is weak and suffering physical pain due to effects of the poison. We come to know that this woman, isn’t just any woman. She is Constance Stone aka Raven a former government operative turned rogue agent. Raven receives some flowers marked with the phrase ‘We’ll always have Coney island’. She knows they have come from the man who offered her a lifeline. She also knows escape from the hospital is her only option. . .

The novel has characters with great character depth. From Raven’s determination to stay alive and keep fighting to the details of Victor being accomplished in MMA. The author has formed some brilliant detailed charters that stay with you.
As Raven deals with the Canadian police officers Heno and Willitz. We learn from her internal thought about the ‘consensus’ a group of rich powerful, morally bankrupt and utterly ruthless individuals. They form a shadow government. Meanwhile in Ireland a shaken priest stares into the dark eyes of Victor.

‘He saw no conscience in Victors eyes to appeal to; no humanity; no mercy; no pity’

The novel jumps forward to a year later. With Alvarez forced to quit an operation. He is angry, and his anger sets him on a path for vengeance.

Victor and Raven are both approached for potential jobs. But when you’re a hired killer who can you trust? It suddenly becomes clear that for life as professional, paranoia keeps you alive.

Raven is still struggling with her symptoms, even a year after the poisoning. When she is threatened, suddenly the hunter becomes the hunted. . .

‘You need to know that we’re never going to give up. You’re never going to be safe. We’re going to keep looking and we’re going to find you again’

Raven responds with threats and it becomes crystal clear, that this assassin fears no one. Faced with the threat of death, she is forced to form her own investigations. Raven has her own unique sassy style, which makes her a brilliant character to follow.

‘I’m a regular Sherlock Holmes in high heels’ – Raven

The plot is far too complex to go fully into and I am wary of leaving any spoilers in my reviews. But faced with secret intelligence services, scrupulous handlers and plotting at every turn. Victor and Raven are backed further and further into a corner. Whilst the writing gets more and more intense.

‘Victor had never fooled himself into believing the actions of governments were any more just than those of private individuals, even when he had wore a uniform. Killing was killing, however it was marketed. Defence, regime change, intervention were all terms used to make the unpalatable less so for general consumption’

Victor and Raven have a dramatic reunion but for more unusual reasons, than you could first assume. The writing style is perfection. I often like to add quotes in my reviews, with this novel I was literally spoilt for choice. I personally think the structure of the authors descriptions is possibly the best in the genre. It must be tough as an author to convey a world of hired killers and corrupt governments. Tom Wood makes it look all so easy, with cleverly weaved paragraph after paragraph.
I will leave you with one of my favourite.

‘In a life-threatening situation, whether terrorism or a rockslide, what kills most people is slowness to react. Regular lives are so safe, so eventless, that there is a lack of comprehension when faced with death. It’s not necessarily shock. It’s disbelief. It’s dismissal. Civilians say to themselves: I’ve got this wrong; this isn’t what I think it is…’

The ending sets the scene perfectly for the next novel in the series, Kill For Me. There is even an extract available at the back.
Buy this novel, you won’t regret it! 5*

TW
Tom Wood
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Coming soon. . . .
26th July 2018

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Kill For Me by Tom Wood
Synopsis:

For years, two sisters have vied for the turf of their dead crime boss father. Across the streets of Guatemala City, bodies have piled up; the US Drug Enforcement Agency, operating far from its own borders, is powerless to stop the fighting.

But now one sister has a weapon that could finally win the war – a cold, amoral hitman known, fittingly, as ‘Victor’.

Freed from previous employers the CIA and MI6, Victor is a killer for-hire whose sense of self-preservation trumps all else. Yet as betrayal and counter-betrayal unspool in the vicious family feud, Victor finds himself at the centre of a storm even he could be powerless to stop.

Anne Bonny #BookReview His First Lie by @markhillwriter 5* #CrimeFiction #DIRayDrake #Ebook 99p @LittleBrownUK

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His First Lie by Mark Hill
Synopsis:

Do you want a thriller that grips from the first line?

Do you want a thriller to leave you gasping for air?

Connor Laird frightens people: he’s intense, he’s fearless, and he seems to be willing to do anything to protect himself and those he loves. He arrives in the Longacre Children’s Home seemingly from nowhere, and instantly becomes hero and villain to every other child there.
Thirty years later, someone is killing all of those who grew up in the Longacre, one by one. Each of them has secrets, not least investigating cop DI Ray Drake.
One by one the mysteries of the past are revealed as Drake finds himself in a race against time before the killer gets to him.
Who is killing to hide their secret?

And can YOU guess the ending?

My review:

The theme of historical abuse of children within a care setting is an extremely tough topic to put across in a novel. I did have some reservations regarding how this would be given a sense of realism. However, the author did not rely upon graphic visual scenes of abuse. Nor did he portray the adult victims in an unrealistic way. What the author has done, is show how truly devasting the effects of abuse can be, to the young mind.

I recall another book, recently released which received negative comments for making the reader feel uncomfortable with its themes of historical racism. His First Lie, reminded me of that in one way. The theme of racism or historical sexual abuse of children is supposed to be uncomfortable. Because it was horrendously uncomfortable for those that endured it. I personally think the author has done a fantastic job of writing about such an emotive issue. Regardless of your personal feelings to real-life or high-profile cases, open the novel and listen to the journey of Connor Laird.
It is an incredibly powerful and heart-breaking journey.

‘The boy loved his parents more than anything on this Earth. And so he had to kill them’

The novel opens on the English Channel in 1986. It is an intense read, right from the opening pages. We are aware that there is a young boy consumed by self-loathing due to an event in his past. I love that the author hadn’t used violence to shock the reader. But the psychology of a broken mind, trying to grasp a hold of sanity. I knew this was going to be an intelligent novel, carefully crafted.

The novel then jumps to the present day. A bunch of coppers gather in a pub, to celebrate a recent commendation. The coppers are then briefly introduced. The central detectives are DI Ray Drake and his newly promoted DS Flick Crowley. The partnership between an experienced male police officer and a female eager to prove herself, works very well throughout the novel.
Flick and Ray are called to the scene of a brutal murder. A scene where three victims have been bound and stabbed. Flick is put in-charge of the case. Ray finds it difficult to let go of the case, especially when he recognises one of the victims. . .

The victims are identified as Kenny Overton, his wife Barbara and one of his twin sons Phillip. The situation becomes much more sinister when we learn the sons were lured to the house via a text message from Kenny. Did Kenny lure his son to his own death? Or did the killer intend to wipe out the whole family?

The novel has alternating chapters, rotating between the police case, the adult victims and the Longacre Children’s home of 1984. The scenes set in 1984 are harrowing, the powerless victims and their evil tormentor Gordon Tallis. But how did the abuse begin? Who knew about it? Did anyone cover it up? Longacre provides so many questions, as we the reader seek to understand the horror that occurred there.

Connor laird is found alone and wandering the streets of London. When he is collected and taken to Hackney Wick police station. From there he is taken to Longacre by Sally Raynor. We are aware that Sgt Harry Crowley is on the take, but for what, is not revealed. Are Sally and Sgt Crowley part of the cycle of abuse?

‘I’m nobody’s friend’ – Connor Laird

When Connor arrives at Longacre, it isn’t long before he asserts himself as the new ‘top-dog’. Leaving a young Elliot with a bloody nose and a bruised pride. But what does the duties of the ‘top-dog’ fully incorporate?
Has Connor just placed himself in serious danger?

In the present day, we meet a now-adult Elliot Juniper. Elliot is a low-level wheeler-dealer. He isn’t fully legit, but he is no criminal mastermind either. He is befriended and ripped off for £30K by a new friend ‘Gavin’. This drives him to the brink of a breakdown and then the calls begin. . .

‘She’ll know the kind of man you are’

The scenes from Longacre continue to add layer upon layer of tension. As you learn more and more, it is easy to understand how the events would have impacted the victim’s futures and their everyday relationships with others.
A victim’s past is never truly forgotten.

‘An evil from that home had been revived, he was certain of that. And if he didn’t take measures, it would be the end of him’

When the property of Kenny Overton is searched, the team become aware of a shoe box of news clippings and photographs. They directly link Longacre to a series of deaths.

Something happened at Longacre

Flick must trawl through Kenny’s notes regarding fellow residents of Longacre. She makes the shocking discovery that David, Karen, Regina, Ricky and Jason have all died in mysterious circumstances. With Elliot, Amelia, Deborah and Connor being the only survivors from the photos, but where are they now?

The background of Longacre is slowly exposed. The adults that ‘manage’ the home often abuse alcohol and suffer violent mood swings. Life at Longacre must have been hell on earth for the fragile young minds of the past. The children are frightened and have no real authority to stand up to the adults in-charge.
That is until Connor arrives. . .

‘Connor was a nutcase. It was the only explanation’

One of the news articles details a visit from high court judge Leonard Drake. A chairman of Hackney Children’s protection league. But why are Flick and Ray’s fathers tied to the history of Longacre? Will the sins of the father’s past, repeat on their children?

‘A refuge for many kids in the borough without a family’

The novel raises various thought-provoking topics and questions. The abuse of those whom wield all the power and control over their victims, must be unbelievably damaging. The psychology of child victims in the aftermath and into adulthood. The legal and justice system that allowed and effectively enabled these abusive ‘homes’ to flourish. The effect of institutionalising young children and the risks and social/psychological outcomes. There was an era of appalling abuse of society’s most vulnerable. I think this novel highlights the struggle the victims face and their desperation to eradicate their horrific pasts, wouldn’t you feel the same? I think this novel would be ideal for book groups and possibly for victim advocacy groups.

A powerful glimpse into the childhoods of children so overwhelmingly failed by a system intended for them to thrive. 5*

Mark_Hill-308
Mark Hill
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***His First Lie is currently on Ebook/Kindle offer for just 99p***