Anne Bonny Top 5 #TravelWithBooks pick from the TBR pile @natashasolomons @thesailorsgirl @brazil_thriller @C_E_Lawrence @DominickGDonald @WindmillBooks @HarperCollinsUK @unbounders @amazonpublishing @HodderBooks

house of gold - Vienna
House Of Gold by Natasha Solomons ~ Location = Vienna
Available in HB/Ebook/PB
Synopsis ~

The start of a war. The end of a dynasty.

VIENNA, 1911. Greta Goldbaum has always dreamed of being free to choose her own life’s path, but the Goldbaum family, one of the wealthiest in the world, has different expectations. United across Europe, Goldbaum men are bankers, while Goldbaum women marry Goldbaum men to produce Goldbaum children.

So when Greta is sent to England to marry Albert, a distant cousin she has never met, the two form an instant dislike for one another. Defiant and lonely, Greta longs for a connection and a place to call her own. When Albert’s mother gives Greta a garden, things begin to change.

But just as she begins to taste an unexpected happiness, the Great War breaks out, threatening to tear everything away. For the first time in two hundred years, the family will find themselves on opposing sides. How will Greta choose between the family she’s created and the one she was forced to leave behind?

Black mamba boy - Africa
Black Mamba Boy by Nadifa Mohamed ~ Location = Africa 
Available in PB/Ebook
Synopsis ~

Named as one of the GRANTA BEST OF YOUNG BRITISH NOVELISTS 2013.

For fans of Half of a Yellow Sun, a stunning novel set in 1930s Somalia spanning a decade of war and upheaval, all seen through the eyes of a small boy alone in the world.

Aden,1935; a city vibrant, alive, and full of hidden dangers. And home to Jama, a ten year-old boy. But then his mother dies unexpectedly and he finds himself alone in the world.

Jama is forced home to his native Somalia, the land of his nomadic ancestors. War is on the horizon and the fascist Italian forces who control parts of east Africa are preparing for battle. Yet Jama cannot rest until he discovers whether his father, who has been absent from his life since he was a baby, is alive somewhere.

And so begins an epic journey which will take Jama north through Djibouti, war-torn Eritrea and Sudan, to Egypt. And from there, aboard a ship transporting Jewish refugees just released from German concentration camp, across the seas to Britain and freedom.

This story of one boy’s long walk to freedom is also the story of how the Second World War affected Africa and its people; a story of displacement and family.

the burning hill - Brazil
The Burning Hill by A.D Flint ~ Location = Brazil
Available in PB/Ebook
Synopsis ~

On the run from unjust court-martial back home, a young British soldier gets robbed and shot on Copacabana Beach. The bullet in Jake’s head should have been fatal, but miraculously, it saves him from a previously undetected condition that soon would have killed him.

Jake doesn’t believe in fate, nor does he feel he owes anything to anybody, but he does hate injustice. Vilson, the teenage favela kid who fired the bullet, is a victim of injustice, in a corner with a corrupt cop and a sadistic drug-lord after his blood.

With a turf war erupting in Vilson’s favela, fear stalks every narrow alleyway, and anyone dragged up to the notorious Burning Hill had better hope they’re dead before they get there. But it’s not just fear that shapes life in the favela, belief is also powerful, able to both save and destroy.

The Burning Hill is about the power of belief and one man’s desire for justice at any cost.

Edinburgh twilight - Scotland
Edinburgh Twilight by Carole Lawrence ~ Location = Scotland
Available in PB/Ebook/Audible & on Kindle Unlimited
Synopsis ~

As a new century approaches, Edinburgh is a city divided. The wealthy residents of New Town live in comfort, while Old Town’s cobblestone streets are clotted with criminals, prostitution, and poverty.

Detective Inspector Ian Hamilton is no stranger to Edinburgh’s darkest crimes. Scarred by the mysterious fire that killed his parents, he faces his toughest case yet when a young man is found strangled in Holyrood Park.

With little evidence aside from a strange playing card found on the body, Hamilton engages the help of his aunt, a gifted photographer, and George Pearson, a librarian with a shared interest in the criminal mind. But the body count is rising. As newspapers spin tales of the “Holyrood Strangler,” panic sets in across the city. And with each victim, the murderer is getting closer to Hamilton, the one man who dares to stop him.

breathe - London
Breathe by Dominick Donald ~ Location =London
Available in HB/Ebook/Audible/PB
Synopsis ~

A stunning debut crime novel for fans of Robert Harris, Philip Kerr and C.J. Sansom’s Dominion.

London, 1952. Dick Bourton is not like the other probationer policemen in Notting Hill. He’s older, having fought in Europe and then Korea. And he’s no Londoner, being from Cotswold farming stock. Then there’s Anna, the exotically beautiful White Russian fiancée he has brought back to these drab streets and empty bombsites. She may as well come from a different planet.

The new copper also has a mind of his own. After an older colleague is shot by a small-time gangster they are chasing in a pea-souper fog, something nags at Bourton’s memory. He begins to make connections which his superiors don’t want to see, linking a whole series of deaths and the fogs that stop the city in its tracks.

Desperate to prove himself and his theories, Bourton fails to notice the fear which his mysterious bride is doing her best to conceal – and overcome.

Soon both Anna and Bourton are taking dangerous paths into the worst fog London has ever known…

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview Seas Of Snow by @zinca Kerensa Jennings 5* Genius #PaperbackRelease #LiteraryFiction @unbounders Trust. Betrayal. Consequences.

Seas of Snow Paperback Cover Kerensa Jennings
Seas Of Snow by Kerensa Jennings
Synopsis:

1950s England. Five-year-old Gracie Scott lives with her Mam and next door to her best friend Billy. An only child, she has never known her Da. When her Uncle Joe moves in, his physical abuse of Gracie’s mother starts almost immediately. But when his attentions wander to Gracie, an even more sinister pattern of behaviour begins.

As Gracie grows older, she finds solace and liberation in books, poetry and her enduring friendship with Billy.
Together they escape into the poetic fairy-tale worlds of their imaginations.

But will fairy tales be enough to save Gracie from Uncle Joe’s psychopathic behaviour – and how far will it go?

Seas of Snow is a haunting, psychological domestic drama that probes the nature and the origins of evil.

My Review:

As I type this I am still very blown away by this novel. I was gripped by this intense plot and by gripped, I mean I have just read this novel straight through in 5 hours and 15 minutes! I couldn’t put it down! I felt a wide range of emotion, the strongest one being the urge to hold my daughter in my arms and promise her I will never, ever let her down. This novel really hit me in the feels, badly! It is one I doubt I will ever forget.
Here is my review…..

Seas Of Snow is essentially two stories interwoven into one powerful novel. On the one hand, the novel spans 1940s-1950s and details the childhoods of neighbourhood best friends Gracie and Billy. An incredibly moving friendship built upon childhood innocence. On the other hand, the novel shows the nightmare Gracie will come to know and live. When Uncle Joe darkens her door!

The early chapters are written from Gracie’s perspective and we meet an intelligent young girl, who loves to dream and dream big. Gracie is the literal depiction of innocence and with her charming outlook on life “you don’t know everything when you’re 5”. You slowly grow to love her character. Gracie has a deep love for fairy tales and all things magical. She is a sweet little girl who reminded me of my own daughter many times. Armed with her best friend Billy, Gracie feels she can take on the world………that is until late one night in 1946.

Uncle Joe is a narcissistic bully, who destroys the lives of everyone he comes into contact with. When Uncle Joe comes to stay he automatically takes on the role of ‘abusive father’. Suddenly Gracie is witnessing her mother sustain vicious beatings at his hands. Due to the era, there is no real support or help to call upon. With these issues considered ‘domestics’ and the police unlikely to help. What goes on behind closed doors must stay there! Life at May close, Tyneside rapidly becomes unbearable. We read on as Gracie’s mother slowly becomes a beaten down, powerless and submissive woman. It is at this point Uncle Joe turns his attentions towards Gracie, one day when she is in the bath.

Gracie and Billy are best friends and their summers are spent building dens and reading poetry. The novel is scattered with literature references and they add to the story and explain how words help Gracie and poetry is a secret key. Gracie idolises Billy and it is through this friendship and hero worship she maintains some level of normality in her existence. Billie loves to invent games such as dragons and princesses. They have a genuine, once in a lifetime bond and it is simply beautiful to read it play out. Billy comforts her with her fears of ravens and eventually her confessions about Uncle Joe.

There is a backdrop character of an elderly fragile lady who Billy visits. A woman whom life has been painful and unkind too. Billy visits and reads to her and seeks to offer her some comfort and it is in this moment you realise the true beauty of Billy’s character. Gracie continues in her life to seek to interpret the world around her. She is living with nightmare presence of Uncle Joe’s returning vile, poisonous, darkness. Therefore, she starts to blame herself and believe god must be punishing her. This is not helped when Gracie’s mother encourages her to keep the secrets, out of fear for what Joe may do next. Further on in the novel we see chapters from the perspective of Joe. That show what a truly terrifying horrible man he is. Also from the perspective of a now adult Billy, as he tries to piece his and Gracie’s past life together.
We soon learn that Gracie is one in a long line of Joe’s victims.

This novel is a story of life and the darkness of past betrayals. It symbolises the burdens people carry and the secrets in their closest. What makes it so harrowing, is that it could so easily all be true. The powerlessness of women in the era, the lack of legal assistance, the hushing up of abuses both sexual and physical all contributed massively to the victimising of Gracie.

It is such an emotional journey, that provides many thought-provoking moments. It is one I think would be very popular for book groups. For the members to debate/discuss the various characters and the narrative. This novel flowed at an easy 5* pace, but with that ending I completely broke down.
It was expertly crafted into the story and the writer deserves a ‘5* Genius’ rating!
Highly recommended!

My Q&A with Kerensa Jennings

Author Image Kerensa Jennings
Kerensa Jennings
Website
Twitter

***Don’t miss the other fabulous bloggers on the blog tour***
Book Blog Tour Poster Seas of Snow Kerensa Jennings
#BlogTour organised by @CarolineBookBit 

My favourite novels of 2017! Best 26 out of 230 books, read this year! by @annebonnybook

In no particular order, a list of my absolute favourite novels of 2017!
This only includes novels I read within 2017.

seas of snow
Seas Of Snow by Kerensa Jennings
Synopsis:
1950s England. Five-year-old Gracie Scott lives with her Mam and next door to her best friend Billy. An only child, she has never known her Da. When her Uncle Joe moves in, his physical abuse of Gracie’s mother starts almost immediately. But when his attentions wander to Gracie, an even more sinister pattern of behaviour begins.

As Gracie grows older, she finds solace and liberation in books, poetry and her enduring friendship with Billy. Together they escape into the poetic fairy-tale worlds of their imaginations.

But will fairy tales be enough to save Gracie from Uncle Joe’s psychopathic behaviour – and how far will it go?

Seas of Snow is a haunting, psychological domestic drama that probes the nature and the origins of evil.
#LiteraryFiction Beautifully written & an AMAZING debut novel! 
See review here
Q&A with Kerensa Jennings here

ararat
Ararat by Christopher Golden
Synopsis:
Meryam and Adam take risks for a living. But neither is prepared for what lies in the legendary heights of Mount Ararat, Turkey.

First to reach a massive cave revealed by an avalanche, they discover the hole in the mountain’s heart is really an ancient ship, buried in time. A relic that some fervently believe is Noah’s Ark.

Deep in its recesses stands a coffin inscribed with mysterious symbols that no one in their team of scholars, archaeologists and filmmakers can identify. Inside is a twisted, horned cadaver. Outside a storm threatens to break.

As terror begins to infiltrate their every thought, is it the raging blizzard that chases them down the mountain – or something far worse?
#Thriller set in the mountains! Couldn’t read it alone, in the dark!
See review here

Q&A with Christopher Golden Here

devils peak
Devil’s Peak by Deon Meyer
Synopsis:
Soldiers never find it easy returning from war. So it is with Thobela Mpayipheli, former freedom fighter, trying to settle back into the new South Africa. But at least he has his boy, an adored companion who is a link to a happier past. Then the boy is taken from Thobela, one of a staggering number of children murdered or abused in South Africa, and Thobela knows only despair…and a cold desire for revenge. Thus is born the vigilante killer known as ‘Artemis’. The police respond by putting on the case a man who can’t afford to fail. Benny Griessel is on the brink of losing everything — his job, his family, his self-respect — and this could be his last chance to drag his life back out of the gutter. And then Benny meets Christine, a young mother working as a prostitute in Cape Town. And something happens that is so frightening, the world can never be the same again, for Benny, for Christine, or for Thobela.
#SouthAfricanNoir at its finest!
See review here

why did you lie
Why Did You Lie? by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Synopsis:
A journalist on the track of an old case attempts suicide.
An ordinary couple return from a house swap in the states to find their home in disarray and their guests seemingly missing.
Four strangers struggle to find shelter on a windswept spike of rock in the middle of a raging sea.
They have one thing in common: they all lied.
And someone is determined to punish them…
WHY DID YOU LIE is a terrifying tale of long-delayed retribution from Iceland’s Queen of Suspense.
#ScandiNoir A deep layered crime fiction feast!
See review here

maria in the moon
Maria In The Moon by Louise Beech
Synopsis:

Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria.

With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges… and changes everything.

Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defenses we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…
My Favourite #BlogTour of the year! It was great to read the other reviews for this emotional novel. I loved the united team work of bloggers on this tour. As we all wanted to read how the novel impacted each and everyone of us!
*Credit to Anne Cater for such a fantastic, well run #BlogTour

See review here

A rising man
A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee
Synopsis:

**SELECTED AS ONE OF WATERSTONES’ BEST CRIME BOOKS OF 2017**
**WINNER OF THE CWA ENDEAVOUR HISTORICAL DAGGER 2017**

India, 1919. Desperate for a fresh start, Captain Sam Wyndham arrives to take up an important post in Calcutta’s police force.

He is soon called to the scene of a horrifying murder. The victim was a senior official, and a note in his mouth warns the British to leave India – or else.

With the stability of the Empire under threat, Wyndham and Sergeant ‘Surrender-not’ Banerjee must solve the case quickly. But there are some who will do anything to stop them…
#Calcutta #India Historical crime fiction! This novel is an amazing debut novel!
I read it before it won the Dagger and was very pleased when it won. I immediately ordered the next in the series…….
See review and Q&A here

a necessary evil
A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee
Synopsis:
India, 1920. Captain Wyndham and Sergeant Banerjee of the Calcutta Police Force investigate the dramatic assassination of a Maharajah’s son.

The fabulously wealthy kingdom of Sambalpore is home to tigers, elephants, diamond mines and the beautiful Palace of the Sun. But when the heir to the throne is assassinated in the presence of Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant ‘Surrender-Not’ Banerjee, they discover a kingdom riven with suppressed conflict. Prince Adhir was a moderniser whose attitudes – and romantic relationship – may have upset the more religious elements of his country, while his brother – now in line to the throne – appears to be a feckless playboy.

As Wyndham and Banerjee desperately try to unravel the mystery behind the assassination, they become entangled in a dangerous world where those in power live by their own rules and those who cross their paths pay with their lives. They must find a murderer, before the murderer finds them…
Perfect follow up to the award winning debut novel! Abir Mukherjee is getting better and better. I can not wait, to read the third novel in this phenomenal NOVEL!
See review and Q&A here

three
The Three by Sarah Lotz
Synopsis:

*****Coming soon to your screen as a major BBC adaptation by Golden Globe winner Peter Straughan*****

They’re here … The boy. The boy watch the boy watch the dead people oh Lordy there’s so many … They’re coming for me now. We’re all going soon. All of us. Pastor Len warn them that the boy he’s not to­­–
The last words of Pamela May Donald (1961 – 2012)

Black Thursday. The day that will never be forgotten. The day that four passenger planes crash, at almost exactly the same moment, at four different points around the globe.

There are only four survivors. Three are children, who emerge from the wreckage seemingly unhurt. But they are not unchanged. And the fourth is Pamela May Donald, who lives just long enough to record a voice message on her phone. A message that will change the world.

The message is a warning
Another novel that sits outside my usual comfort zone! But I completely and utterly LOVED every page!
see review here

my mothers shadow
My Mother’s Shadow by Nikola Scott
Synopsis:

Hartland House has always been a faithful keeper of secrets…

1958. Sent to beautiful Hartland to be sheltered from her mother’s illness, Liz spends the summer with the wealthy Shaw family. They treat Liz as one of their own, but their influence could be dangerous…

Now. Addie believes she knows everything about her mother Elizabeth and their difficult relationship until her recent death. When a stranger appears claiming to be Addie’s sister, she is stunned. Is everything she’s been told about her early life a lie?

How can you find the truth about the past if the one person who could tell you is gone? Addie must go back to that golden summer her mother never spoke of…and the one night that changed a young girl’s life for ever.
I cried buckets during reading this novel and it remains one of my favourite novels EVER! An outstanding debut novel!
See review and Q&A here

thirteen
Th1rtt3en by Steve Cavanagh
Synopsis:

THE SERIAL KILLER ISN’T ON TRIAL.
HE’S ON THE JURY…
‘To your knowledge, is there anything that would preclude you from serving on this jury?’

Murder wasn’t the hard part. It was just the start of the game.
Joshua Kane has been preparing for this moment his whole life. He’s done it before. But this is the big one.
This is the murder trial of the century. And Kane has killed to get the best seat in the house.
But there’s someone on his tail. Someone who suspects that the killer isn’t the man on trial.
Kane knows time is running out – he just needs to get to the conviction without being discovered.
*Review scheduled for 25th January 2018* Sneak peak, it is pure GENIUS!

bluebird bluebird
Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Locke
Synopsis:
Southern fables usually go the other way around. A white woman is killed or harmed in some way, real or imagined, and then, like the moon follows the sun, a black man ends up dead.

But when it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules – a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger working the backwoods towns of Highway 59, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about his home state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home.

So when allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he is drawn to a case in the small town of Lark, where two dead bodies washed up in the bayou. First a black lawyer from Chicago and then, three days later, a local white woman, and it’s stirred up a hornet’s nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes – and save himself in the process – before Lark’s long-simmering racial fault lines erupt.
#AmericanNoir The novel deals with some tough issues in society. In the past and current political climate. It is an OUTSTANDING read!
See review and Q&A here

a patient fury
A Patient Fury by Sarah ward
Synopsis:
When Detective Constable Connie Childs is dragged from her bed to the fire-wrecked property on Cross Farm Lane she knows as she steps from the car that this house contains death.

Three bodies discovered – a family obliterated – their deaths all seem to point to one conclusion: One mother, one murderer.

But D.C. Childs, determined as ever to discover the truth behind the tragedy, realises it is the fourth body – the one they cannot find – that holds the key to the mystery at Cross Farm Lane.

What Connie Childs fails to spot is that her determination to unmask the real murderer might cost her more than her health – this time she could lose the thing she cares about most: her career.
#DerbyshireNoir Brilliant crime fiction, with a cracking ending!
See review here
Q&A with Sarah ward here

IQ
IQ by Joe Ide
Synopsis:
WINNER of the ANTHONY AWARD for Best Debut, the SHAMUS AWARD for BEST FIRST P.I. NOVEL. the MACAVITY AWARD for Best First Novel; SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2017 EDGAR AWARD and STRAND CRITICS AWARD.

East Long Beach. The LAPD is barely keeping up with the high crime rate. Murders go unsolved, the elderly are being mugged, children go missing. But word has spread: if you’ve got a case the police can’t – or won’t – touch, Isaiah Quintabe will help you out.

They call him IQ. He’s a loner and a high school dropout, his unassuming nature disguising a relentless determination and a fierce intelligence. His clients pay him whatever they can afford, a new set of tyres or some homemade muffins. But now he needs a client who can pay. And the only way to that client is through a jive-talking, low-life drug dealer he thought he’d left behind. Then there’s the case itself. A drug-addled rap star surrounded by a crew of flunkies who believes his life is in danger; and a hit man who even other hit men say is a lunatic. If he solves this case, IQ can put right a mistake he made long ago. If not it won’t just be the hit man coming after him …
I think the WHOLE WORLD must know how much I LOVE this series!
IQ has won multiple awards and truly is deserving of all its praise and accolades!
Here is my review from 12th February 2017 here
Q&A with Joe Ide here

righteous
Righteous by Joe Ide
Synopsis:
In a way, the hate felt good. You were righteous, godlike, the dispenser of justice . .
Super-smart sleuth Isaiah Quintabe – IQ to his friends – has built a mostly respectable life for himself, helping out friends and neighbours when he can and taking the occasional case to make ends meet. But there is one mystery that still haunts him almost ten years later – did his brother really die in a hit-and-run or was there more to the story behind his death?

IQ has been approached by his brother’s former girlfriend Sarita, whose younger sister, an erratic DJ and gambling addict, has gone missing in Las Vegas – with a frightening loan shark, Chinese Triad gangsters, and her own deadbeat boyfriend hot on her tail. Accompanied once more by his fast-talking, don’t-call-me-a-sidekick partner Dodson, IQ heads off for the casinos and massage parlours of Las Vegas. His quest takes an unexpected turn when he meets a criminal mastermind who knows something about the murky circumstances that surrounded his brother’s death. But when Isaiah learns the truth, what will he do with it?
For me, this novel made IQ one of my ALL TIME favourite protagonists! A great follow-up to debut novel IQ and I look forward to the release of IQ 3!
See review here

the mountain between us
The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
Synopsis:
Now a film starring Idris Elba and Kate Winslet

What if your life depended on a stranger?

On a stormy winter night, two strangers wait for a flight at the Salt Lake City airport. Ashley Knox is an attractive, successful writer, who is flying East for her wedding. Dr Ben Payne has just wrapped up a medical conference and is also eager to return home. When the last outgoing flight is cancelled because of a storm, Ben charters a small plane that can fly around the weather front. And when the pilot says the single engine prop plane can fit one more passenger, Ben offers the seat to Ashley.

Then the unthinkable happens and the plane crashes into the High Uintas Wilderness. Ben, who has broken ribs, and Ashley, who suffers a terrible leg fracture, along with the pilot’s dog, are faced with a battle to survive. How will they make it out of the wilderness and if they do, will they ever be the same again?
Originally picked this novel, as it had Idris Elba on the cover (won’t even lie!).
The novel has exceptional emotional depth!
*Review scheduled for 4th January 2018*

The Last Time We Spoke
The Last Time We Spoke by Fiona Sussman
Synopsis:

Winner of the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel

‘A gripping story about grief and redemption’ Sunday Mirror

Carla and Kevin Reid are celebrating their wedding anniversary with their son Jack. The family together, some good food, a perfect night.

On a murderous collision course with this joyous yet fragile gathering, is Ben Toroa, an unexpected and unwanted visitor.

As Carla struggles to come to terms with the aftermath of the appalling events of the night, and Ben faces the consequences in prison, their stories will be for ever entwined.
*Review scheduled for 3rd January 2018*

The Unquiet Dead
The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan
Synopsis:
One man is dead.

But thousands were his victims.

Can a single murder avenge that of many?

Scarborough Bluffs, Toronto: the body of Christopher Drayton is found at the foot of the cliffs. Muslim Detective Esa Khattak, head of the Community Policing Unit, and his partner Rachel Getty are called in to investigate. As the secrets of Drayton’s role in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide of Bosnian Muslims surface, the harrowing significance of his death makes it difficult to remain objective. In a community haunted by the atrocities of war, anyone could be a suspect. And when the victim is a man with so many deaths to his name, could it be that justice has at long last been served?

In this important debut novel, Ausma Zehanat Khan has written a compelling and provocative mystery exploring the complexities of identity, loss, and redemption.

Winner of the Barry Award, Arthur Ellis Award, and Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Novel
An incredibly thought provoking novel. A brutally honest depiction of the Bosnian war, with a narrative that reflects deep into the past and the modern day.
See review and Q&A here

the year of the gun lottie armstrong
The Year Of The Gun by Chris Nickson
Synopsis:

1944: Twenty years after WPC Lottie Armstrong was dismissed from the Leeds police force, she’s back, now a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Police Corps.

Detective Chief Superintendent McMillan is now head of CID, trying to keep order with a depleted force as many of the male officers have enlisted. This hasn’t stopped the criminals, however, and as the Second World War rages around them, can they stop a blackout killer with a taste for murder?
HUGE fan of ALL this author’s various series! Especially Tom Harper and Lottie Armstrong! Chris Nickson writes female characters incredibly well and I look forward to his next release in March 2018!
See review and Q&A here

little boy lost
Little Boy Lost by J.D. Trafford
Synopsis:
An Amazon Charts bestseller.

A broken city, a missing young man, and a lawyer searching for truth when nobody else cares.

Attorney Justin Glass’s practice, housed in a shabby office on the north side of Saint Louis, isn’t doing so well that he can afford to work for free. But when eight-year-old Tanisha Walker offers him a jar full of change to find her missing brother, he doesn’t have the heart to turn her away.

Justin had hoped to find the boy alive and well. But all that was found of Devon Walker was his brutally murdered body—and the bodies of twelve other African American teenagers, all discarded like trash in a mass grave. Each had been reported missing. And none had been investigated.

As simmering racial tensions explode into violence, Justin finds himself caught in the tide. And as he gives voice to the discontent plaguing the city’s forgotten and ignored, he vows to search for the killer who preys upon them.
This novel takes you on a journey across the US, its legal systems and modern racial tensions. OUTSTANDING!
See review and Q&A here 

vaseem khan #1
The Unexpected Inheritance Of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan
Synopsis:
Mumbai, murder and a baby elephant combine in a charming, joyful mystery for fans of Alexander McCall Smith and Rachel Joyce.

On the day he retires, Inspector Ashwin Chopra discovers that he has inherited an elephant: an unlikely gift that could not be more inconvenient. For Chopra has one last case to solve…
But as his murder investigation leads him across Mumbai – from its richest mansions to its murky underworld – he quickly discovers that a baby elephant may be exactly what an honest man needs.
So begins the start of a quite unexpected partnership, and an utterly delightful new series.
#Mumbai #India Modern day crime fiction, with a baby elephant! LOVE this series!
Rich in culture, diversity and very well written!
See review and Q&A here

vaseem khan #2
The Perplexing Theft Of The Jewel In The Crown by Vaseem Khan
Synopsis:
The second book in the heartwarming and charming Baby Ganesh series.

For centuries the Koh-i-Noor diamond has set man against man and king against king.

Now part of the British Crown Jewels, the priceless gem is a prize that many have killed to possess.

So when the Crown Jewels go on display in Mumbai, security is everyone’s principal concern. And yet, on the very day Inspector Chopra visits the exhibition, the diamond is stolen from under his nose.

The heist was daring and seemingly impossible. The hunt is on for the culprits. But it soon becomes clear that only one man – and his elephant – can possibly crack this case…
Rather embarrassingly this is the only one of my favourite reads; that I do not have a review for, or a pending blog post.
So let me explain, I read this novel whilst in hospital in October 2017. I was admitted with severe DVT from the heart to the right knee. I was in complete AGONY! Then I noticed my husband had packed Vaseem Khan’s second novel into my hospital bag.
For a few hours in a noisy hospital ward. I was able to escape to Mumbai India and it was pure HEAVEN! I can not thank the author enough for that small piece of respite from the pain. It is without a doubt, a novel I will not forget!

dead lands
Dead Lands by Lloyd Otis
Synopsis:

The stunning debut from thriller writer Lloyd Otis.

When a woman’s body is found a special team is called in to investigate and prime suspect Alex Troy is arrested for the murder. Desperate to remain a free man, Troy protests his innocence, but refuses to use his alibi. Trying to protect the woman he loves becomes a dangerous game – questions are asked and suspicions deepen.

When the prime suspect completes a daring escape from custody, DI Breck and DS Kearns begin the hunt. Breck wants out of the force while Kearns has her own agenda and seeks revenge – and a right-wing march provides an explosive backdrop to their hunt for Troy.
A multifaceted complex novel, with themes of violence, past secrets, lies, police corruption, betrayals, racial tension and civil unrest. 5* Genius
See review here

streets of darkness
Streets Of Darkness by A.A. Dhand
 Synopsis:
The sky over Bradford is heavy with foreboding. It always is. But this morning it has reason to be – this morning a body has been found. And it’s not just any body.

Detective Harry Virdee should be at home with his wife. Impending fatherhood should be all he can think about but he’s been suspended from work just as the biggest case of the year lands on what would have been his desk. He can’t keep himself away.

Determined to restore his reputation, Harry is obliged to take to the shadows in search of notorious ex-convict and prime suspect, Lucas Dwight. But as the motivations of the murder threaten to tip an already unstable city into riotous anarchy, Harry finds his preconceptions turned on their head as he discovers what it’s like to be on the other side of the law…
This novel has themes of corruption, politics, racial tension, Bradford villains, grudges, BNP politics, dirty cops, revenge and redemption. All rolled into one hell of a read! It is most definitely one not to be missed.
See review and Q&A here

dear martin
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Synopsis:
Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League–but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.

Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up–way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.
A compelling read by a very talented writer, who has a bright future ahead of her!
See review here
Q&A with Nic Stone here

you don't know me
You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood
Synopsis:
In London a young man stands accused of murder. All the evidence points to him; the police see an open and shut case.

But at his trial, this man, who has tried to stay out of trouble all his life, tells an extraordinary story. It is about a young woman who tried to protect her brother and got into terrible trouble. It’s about a young man who, in order to save her, entered a dark, violent world he’d avoided for so long.

He now stands in the dock and wants to tell you the truth. He needs you to believe him. Will you?
I absolutely loved this novel. I found it to be raw, urban and edgy! Like nothing on the UK book market currently. It depicts life lessons and a different perspective. Essentially you can engage with a novel where people may not look like you or live like you, yet you fully embrace their character.
See review and Q&A here

lightening men
Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen
Synopsis:

Lightning Men follows the multi-award-nominated, highly acclaimed crime debut Darktown into a city on the brink of huge and violent change – and full of secrets.

Atlanta, 1950. In a divided city, crime comes home.

White officer Denny Rakestraw joins Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith from Atlanta’s Negro Officer precinct to face the Klan, gangs and family warfare in their rapidly changing city.

Black families – including Smith’s sister and brother-in-law – are moving into Rake’s formerly all-white neighbourhood, leading Rake’s brother-in-law, a proud Klansman, to launch a scheme to ‘save’ their streets. When those efforts leave a man dead, Rake is forced to choose between loyalty to family or the law.

Meanwhile, Boggs has outraged his preacher father by courting a domestic, whose dangerous ex-boyfriend is then released from prison. As Boggs, Smith, and their all-black precinct contend with violent drug dealers fighting for turf in new territory, their personal dramas draw them closer to the fires that threaten to consume Atlanta once again.
Boggs and Smith make for perfect reading and their bond is firmly cemented in this case. Fantastic historical crime fiction!
See review here

That’s it folks! Time to get started on a list for 2018!
As January is my blogs first anniversary. I will be running various #Giveaways in relation to the novel’s on this list throughout the month!
So keep your eyes peeled for chances to WIN copies!

Thank you for reading & happy new year!

 

 

#BlogTour Q&A with @LRAllison77 #Author of, Twice The Speed Of Dark @unbounders #NewRelease #Literary

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Twice The Speed Of Dark by Lulu Allison
Synopsis:

A mother and daughter circle each other, bound by love, separated by fatal violence.

Dismayed by the indifference she sees in the news to people who die in distant war and terror, Anna writes portraits of the victims, trying to understand the real impact of their deaths.

Meanwhile Anna’s daughter, killed by a violent boyfriend, tells her own story from the perplexing realms of death, reclaiming herself from the brutality.

Anna’s life is stifled by heartache; it is only through these acts of love for strangers that she allows herself an emotional connection to the world.

Can Anna free herself from the bondage of grief and find a connection to her daughter once more?

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) Until I started writing this book in 2013 I had been an artist for most of my life. I exhibited my own work and also was involved with many collaborative projects as an artist. I have always been a big reader and passionate lover of books, but it didn’t occur to me that I would ever write one myself. Partly because I have the attention span of a magpie – very easily distracted by something new and shiny. Most of my work as an artist was temporary, quick to achieve, transitory. I like things that I could flick in and out of, without being tied down to a long period of commitment….

It was an art project that tricked me into writing a whole book. I had been thinking about the way news reports things differently depending on where the victims come from. British victims of terror were given much more time and care than those in Iraq or Afghanistan. So I began a project with the aim of challenging this. To think of those distant victims as real people whose deaths mattered, I wrote portraits of them, imagining the people they had been.

And I was hooked. It is one of the central aspects of Twice the Speed of Dark. Anna, the main character, is brittle, lonely, bound by unresolved grief. Her daughter was killed by a violent boyfriend. Anna’s life was thrown into disarray. In the wild anger of the months after the death and after the court case that convicted the killer with manslaughter, she was horrified to see how little attention people gave to the death of her only child. In searching the news she sees all the other unnamed dead, victims of terror in distant lands passed over as a mere tally of casualties. She starts to write portraits.

The book is the story of Anna’s struggle with the grief that has trapped her for so long. It is also the story of Caitlin, her daughter, who, from the dark realms of death, tells of how she became trapped in a violent relationship. It is in the end too, a book about love.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) It took a year, mostly of rejections from agents and a major redrafting before I found and was accepted by Unbound. Some of the agents were incredibly generous about my writing, but even the ones who loved it didn’t feel they would be able to place it with a publisher. Luckily, having been involved with art all of my life, I am well versed in understanding that rejection, though it can be dampening and dreary, is part of the job. Literary fiction is not the genre that shifts units, and that’s ok. I am so thrilled, however, that innovative publishers like Unbound have come along to re-populate the territory that has been recently abandoned by traditional publishers, as some of us still love it!

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) It is difficult to answer this question without siting an author who rarely disappoints rather than the one whose individual books have blown me away, but an author who rarely disappoints is Ian McKewan – though I have a deal of catching up to do on his more recent books.
I absolutely love A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride and
Solar Bones by Mike McCormack. Both use language so utterly beautifully – but so that it is a tool of what they want to express, not just a showcase of their skill. The language has more than a formal beauty, it becomes a vehicle into interior worlds and profound, complex feelings. Two brilliant books.

Another non-fiction writer I love is Nick Tosches, who writes, loosely, about the American south. He wrote biographies of Sonny Liston (Night Train) and Gerry Lee Lewis (Hellfire) that I absolutely loved.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) My first favourite book was King Arthur and the Round Table by Alice M. Hadfield, given to me by my grandpa, along with some small plastic knights to play with! I loved it, but was so baffled and upset that Lancelot and Guinevere had to ruin things in a way that, as a child, I couldn’t really grasp..!

As a teenager I loved E.M. Forster, the gentle optimism and what seemed like a hope for the human spirit, weighed down by the foolish expectations of society. Humanely romantic, if a little heavily Empire era.

And here is a question: I read a Puffin book, I think it was in translation from Polish. It was certainly set in Poland, I think during World War Two. There were three or four boys, and they may have been helping someone hide from the occupying Germans. There was a mill where they would meet up. The cover had a painting that I remember as being Stanley Spencer-esque. I can’t remember what it was called, but would love to find it again – any clues anyone?

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) It is still a very new thing so I don’t have many experiences to go on. All of them have been fantastic and weirdly dreamy. Today, being official publication day, I will have the book launch; my daughter Lilian is a wonderful dance and spoken word artist and she has made a performance based on the words of Caitlin in Twice the Speed of Dark. I cannot wait to see that – I will report back!

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) One of the best resources an Unbound author has is the other Unbound authors. We gather on our Facebook page to whinge and wa-hay in equal measure. It is wonderful to have access to more experienced writers. And it is also great to have a place to moan, when you’ve already banged on until your partner is sick of hearing it, about how difficult x is or how unfathomable y is.

I don’t know how I would’ve coped without friends and family and my husband Pierre.

LA: Thank you for these questions Abby!

LA
Lulu Allison
Authors links:
My website: https://luluallison.net
Twitter: @lrallison77
Instagram: @lrallison77
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/writerLRAllison/

Author bio:

Lulu Allison studied at Central St Martin’s School of Art. She then travelled and lived abroad for a number of years, playing in bands in New Zealand, teaching scuba diving in Fiji, making spectacle hinges in a factory in Germany before settling in Brighton. She exhibited her art and worked as a community artist for Towner Gallery and Fabrica Gallery whilst raising two children.

In 2013 what began as an art project took her into writing and she unexpectedly discovered what she should have been doing all along. The art project became Twice the speed of Dark, which on completion, was taken up by Unbound and published in the autumn of 2017.

Twice the Speed of Dark is her first novel. She is currently writing a second called Wetlands.

*Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career.

AnneBonny

5* #Review Q&A #BlindSide by @Jennie_Ensor @unbounders @Unbound_Digital

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Blind Side by Jennie Ensor
Synopsis:

Can you ever truly know someone? And what if you suspect the unthinkable?

London, five months before 7/7. Georgie, a young woman wary of relationships after previous heartbreak, gives in and agrees to sleep with close friend Julian. She’s shocked when Julian reveals he’s loved her for a long time.

But Georgie can’t resist her attraction to Nikolai, a Russian former soldier she meets in a pub. While Julian struggles to deal with her rejection, Georgie realises how deeply war-time incidents in Chechnya have affected Nikolai. She begins to suspect that the Russian is hiding something terrible from her.

Then London is attacked…

My Review:

Every so often you stumble across a novel that is so much bigger than its synopsis and its depth astounds you. This is one of them and it is amazingly good!

The prologue opens with intense gun fight scene. However, this does not set the pace for this novel. The novel is based around the relationships of the characters involved, their intentions, emotions and internal struggles. The protagonist Georgie, whilst not being someone, I would not necessarily choose to be friends with, held a fair and honest narrative throughout. She was at times emotionally needy, lonely and immature. Yet at the same time incredibly open, honest and willing to see the good in people.

Georgie’s bestie Julian confesses his love for her, when she fails to reciprocate the feelings. We start to see the sinister and spiteful side to his nature. Georgie still holds out some hope that he will come to terms with the situation. This is one trait in Georgie that I absolutely adored, her ability to see the good in people.

Georgie literally stumbles into Russian Nikolai on a night in a London bar and she is quite taken with his mysterious personality. Although she has no intentions of seeing Nikolai again, it is not long until he is dominating her every thought. Nikolai has been living in London just five weeks. He has struggled to find work and relied upon menial jobs. Georgie is a complex character and in a city the size of London, where thousands of people live, she feels the bitter sting of loneliness and isolation. Will Nikolai offer her a brighter future?

“Everyone I love will leave me in the end”

Nikolai is such a multifaceted character, I really warmed to his struggles and personal demons. Having served in the Russian army via conscription for two years in 1998, He was part of the Russian/Chechen war. He is haunted by this and at times present as an extremely wounded and vulnerable man. Almost reminiscent of the soldiers returning from war that present with symptoms of PTSD but refuse to see the diagnosis themselves. Nikolai is a soul searching for redemption. He immediately draws the reader into his personal story and background.

There are chapters written from the perspective of a someone stalking Georgie. They make for harrowing and intense reading. Is this the jealous Julian or the intense Nikolai? They speak of catching her off guard and talk of her in a degrading way. I felt frightened for her safety, knowing she was completely unaware.

Nikolai begins to open up regarding his past and we see how the gentle nature of Georgie, heals some of his past wounds. They talk about their upbringings, Moscow, past loves and politics. They form a meeting of minds and it is beautiful to read. This is all going well until Georgie stumbles across a cryptic note in Nikolai’s flat detailing a protest and potential violent incident!
When the London 7/7 attacks within days of her discovery, she is forced to ask herself the question, who can you really trust?

The aftermath of the 7/7 attacks details the anti-Islam and immigration feelings that some bought into in the UK. The strain of this and the note’s discovery wreaks havoc on the relationship between Georgie and Nikolai. Nikolai’s attitude towards war and death is so black and white. He has the true mind-set of a soldier. Does being ashamed of your countries actions make you honest or a traitor?

This is an incredible novel of love, insecurities, redemption and humanity.
Highly recommended 5*

Q&A:

JE: Thanks Abby for inviting me on your blog – and apologies for the length of some answers. I’m not good at being brief!

Q) For the readers can you tell us about yourself and your novel Blind Side?

A) I’ve a background in journalism, copywriting, physics and disparate other things. I’m now focussed on writing novels, flash fiction and poetry.

Blind Side is my first published novel, which I crowdfunded with Unbound. It was their first ‘digital first’ title, published one year ago (23 July). A paperback came out this February.

Blind Side is a thriller crossed with a love story, set in London during 2005. It’s narrated by a young Englishwoman, Georgie. She meets a Russian, Nikolai, recently arrived in London who was conscripted to fight in Russia’s war with Chechnya. Despite her misgivings about his possible psychological damage and the secrets he keeps – and the jealousy of Julian, her close friend – Georgie starts to fall for Nikolai. The novel follows the three as their lives become entwined and impacted by wider events, in particular the July terror attacks.

Q) what was the inspiration behind the plot of the novel and the themes of terrorism?

A) I’ve long been interested in how ordinary people cope with near intolerable situations. I wanted to explore a young soldier’s response (guilt, etc) to the terrible things he his forced to do and witness during wartime. I made him Russian after seeing photos of the devastation of Grozny. (I’ve also long been a fan of Russian novels.) As well I was interested in trust and how some people’s backgrounds make it difficult for them to withstand the intimacy of a relationship, and I wondered what might happen if a young woman with trust issues was intensely attracted to Nikolai, a guy who’s volatile, secretive and a potential source of danger.

As to the inspiration for the terrorism aspects in my novel, I admit I’m fascinated by stories of people who commit serious crimes which remain undiscovered for a long time. I was living in London during the July tube and bus attacks, and like many others was deeply shocked by them. After reading about the ‘homegrown’ backgrounds of the 7/7 suicide bombers, who had been living as fairly ordinary, unsuspected members of their community, I wanted to make the attacks and their aftermath a key part of the novel. (I’d already decided to set in 2005 London, as I prefer to anchor novels in a specific time period). Doing this allowed me to expand my idea of Nikolai’s hidden dark side, and to link his past fighting separatist ‘terrorist’ forces in Chechnya with the present of terrorist attacks in London.

Q) Georgie and Nikolai have such different/unique outlooks on life. I am myself married to a veteran that has served in war, that we now know was illegal and unlawful. The emotions Nikolai goes through were raw, intelligent and honest. Was Nikolai based upon anyone from real life and how was he researched?

A) No, he’s not based on a real person. But looking back now 12 years after I began the novel, I see there are echoes of a real person I knew with respect to certain aspects of his character. Much of Nikolai just came to me fully formed though – his way of speaking and mannerisms, for example.

How he was researched – I have Russian friends, and I found other Russians and asked them about their lives. Also I interviewed men who’d fought in Chechnya who were being treated in London for trauma-related issues, and read a lot about Russia and life as a soldier during this period.

Q) The politics within the novel was kept to a minimum and the novel focused on the humanity of the people involved. Was this an intentional narrative?

A) Absolutely. While I did include some passionate arguing, e.g. on whether terrorism can ever be justified, the novel focusses on the journeys and interactions of my central characters. The politics is there in the background but it’s the emotional punch of my characters’ interactions that’s crucial, and the collision of their beliefs and backgrounds. I deliberately made the political views/world affairs knowledge of my narrator fairly weak – as per Bridget Jones re Chechnya 🙂 – so readers not much interested in politics could relate to her and become immersed in the story.

Q) There were pieces of writing, which I can’t include for fear of spoilers, such as Zara’s story. What did you learn in your research of the Russian/Chechen war that you wanted to include but could not?

A) For months I was absorbed in finding out about the two wars between Russia and Chechnya in the 90s and the impact they had on soldiers and civilians. Zara, a Chechen woman in Blind Side is made up but her story is based on real incidents. Many of them were harrowing to read about. Thankfully I also came across uplifting stories of people showing great courage and dedication, e.g. a Frenchwoman who disguised herself as a local and spent months reporting undercover from conflict areas, and a Chechen surgeon who routinely saved lives on both sides, despite inadequate resources and his hospital being bombed. (My book includes a list of the non-fiction titles I used for research.) However I knew I needed a strong focus or I’d be writing a documentary. This turned out to be Zara.

Q) Is the process for writing such an emotive novel, draining? Do you start to see situations through the eyes of your characters?

A) Yes, at times I felt low after writing certain chapters, especially those which involved extreme violence or inhumanity. I have perfectionist tendencies so I’ll rewrite something until I know it’s right, which doesn’t help! Yes, I got to know my characters very well and tried to react to things as they would, particularly Georgie and Nikolai, who as you say have very different outlooks.

Q) What has been your favourite part of being a published author?  

A) I’m still waiting to come across someone reading the book on a bus or train… hopefully one day! Out of what I’ve experienced so far though, it’s a real joy whenever I find a reader who completely gets what I was trying to say with my novel. That truly makes the hard graft worthwhile.

Q) If I had to sum up your novel using five words, they would be: emotional, intelligent, redemption, relationships and humanity. What five words would you use?

A) Secrets, jealousy, trauma, trust, forgiveness (and healing)

Q) What are your favourite reads of 2017 so far?

A) The Girls by Emma Cline, set in 1969 California. I’ve not finished the book but judging from what I read it may well be my favourite book this year. Out of books I’ve read by not published this year, I much enjoyed the eerie Dark Matter by Michelle Paver, also with a historical setting, and Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst, an interesting psychological novel centred around a psychiatrist and her patient.

Q) what is next for Jennie Ensor? Do you have another novel planned and can we, as readers look forward to another 5* read?

A) I am writing the last chapters of a novel involving a serial child abuser and his family, who are starting to suspect him – it has some very dark subject matter and has also been pretty tough to write at times. Clearly, I’m a sucker for a challenge!

*Huge thanks to author Jennie Ensor for being part of a Q&A on my blog and I wish you every success in your writing career.

JE
Jennie Ensor
Authors Links:
Blog & website: http://www.jennieensor.com
Author facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JennieEnsorAuthor
Twitter: @jennie_ensor 
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jennieensor/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15511227.Jennie_Ensor