Anne Bonny #BookReview Freefall by @jessbarryauthor @vintagebooks @HarvillSecker #NewRelease #Psychological #Thriller

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Freefall by Jessica Barry
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Surviving the plane crash is only the beginning for Allison.

The life that she’s built for herself – her perfect fiancé, their world of luxury – has disappeared in the blink of an eye. Now she must run, not only to escape the dark secrets in her past, but to outwit the man who is stalking her every move.

On the other side of the country, Allison’s mother is desperate for news of her daughter, who is missing, presumed dead. Maggie refuses to accept that she could have lost her only child and sets out to discover the truth.

Mother and daughter must fight – for survival and to find their way through a dark web of lies and back to one another, before it’s too late…

My Review:

Freefall had me hooked from the start and I absolutely loved the writing style. The novel centres around a plane crash and the fall out in the aftermath. Not my usual type of read but yet I fully enjoyed the story and constant twists.

‘There is no sign of another human’

Alison is on-board the aircraft and survives the crash, walking wounded. Her phone is broken and she knows, that if she is to continue to survive she must take supplies and leave the aircraft wreckage. A daunting task when she has no idea where she is and yet feels a presence of someone on her tail…

‘I know what’s coming for me’ – Alison

Maggie is alone at home, when she is informed from rookie cop Shannon Draper, of a plane crash involving her daughter. The crash has happened in the Colorado Rockies and Alison is assumed dead. Despite the two having been estranged at the time of the accident. Maggie vows to find answers.

‘The plan is stay alive’

Throughout the novel we learn of Maggie and Alison’s past and what led them to be estranged. We also learn of Alison’s whirlwind romance with new fiancé Ben Gardner. It would appear Alison had everything to live for…
‘Everyone has his price. You never know who’s been paid’ – Alison

This novel is much deeper and more complex than I originally thought. 5*

JB
Jessica Barry
Twitter

Anne Bonny #BookReview Macbeth by #JoNesbo #CrimeFiction #HogarthShakespere @vintagebooks ‘A great edition to the Hogarth Shakespeare series’

my copy
Macbeth by Jo Nesbo
Review Copy
Synopsis:

He’s the best cop they’ve got.

When a drug bust turns into a bloodbath it’s up to Inspector Macbeth and his team to clean up the mess.
He’s also an ex-drug addict with a troubled past.

He’s rewarded for his success. Power. Money. Respect. They’re all within reach.

But a man like him won’t get to the top.

Plagued by hallucinations and paranoia, Macbeth starts to unravel. He’s convinced he won’t get what is rightfully his.
Unless he kills for it.

My Review:

Macbeth is the Third Hogarth Shakespeare novel I have read. Having previously enjoyed New Boy by Tracy Chevalier and Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood. This is however, my FIRST novel by Jo Nesbo despite owning the 11 Harry Hole novels. It is a series I am reluctant to start because I know I will want to devour each title one after the other.
I will also be investing in the four other standalone novels by the author.

Macbeth is a gritty and harsh look into police corruption and organised crime. I felt the author had done an incredible job of adapting the original into a modern-day setting. With Macbeth the reluctant dirty cop and the city with its prostitute ‘witches’.

‘Everyone has a price’

The novel shows how the narcotics unit, SWAT team and gang unit work independently of one another but are eventually brought together after police corruption and malpractice is exposed. The new unit (OCU) organised crime unit with unite all three departments under the supervision of one senior office.
But who will be the officer in charge and wield the power over the city?
‘For Eternal loyalty is inhuman and betrayal is human’

Macbeth’s love a casino boss named ‘Lady’ plays the role of Lady Macbeth to the letter. She is cunning and desperate for the two to hold power over the entire city.
‘You have to kill Duncan’ – Lady

Betrayal and power go hand in hand in this character driven novel. I was intrigued by so many minor characters/themes. Such as, the one-eyed drug addict and the ‘Brew’ the new drug doing the rounds on Scotland’s streets.

A great edition to the Hogarth Shakespeare series.
One I am sure my GCSE teen would love to study much more than the original. 4*

JN
Jo Nesbo
Website

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood 5* Genius #VintageClassics #HandmaidsTale #PraiseBe #BlessedBeTheFruit #UnderHisEye @vintagebooks

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
My own copy
Synopsis:

‘I believe in the resistance as I believe there can be no light without shadow; or rather, no shadow unless there is also light.’

Offred is a Handmaid in The Republic of Gilead, a religious totalitarian state in what was formerly known as the United States. She is placed in the household of The Commander, Fred Waterford – her assigned name, Offred, means ‘of Fred’. She has only one function: to breed. If Offred refuses to enter into sexual servitude to repopulate a devastated world, she will be hanged. Yet even a repressive state cannot eradicate hope and desire. As she recalls her pre-revolution life in flashbacks, Offred must navigate through the terrifying landscape of torture and persecution in the present day, and between two men upon which her future hangs.

Masterfully conceived and executed, this haunting vision of the future places Margaret Atwood at the forefront of dystopian fiction.

My Review:

I am currently making my way through season two of the TV series. I am feeling more and more disturbed with every episode. One night in particular, I had a nightmare in which I was in the full red dress and bonnet!!!! Now if this isn’t scary enough, I was burying my books. As a woman, I was no longer allowed to read! Oh, the sheer horror!!!!!
After this unsettling night’s sleep I decided I simply HAD to read the novel and know the how/what/when/where.
What I found is an in-depth novel that I digested in five straight hours. I was horrified and scared, yet I couldn’t take my eyes away from the pages.
Margaret Atwood is one impressive author.

‘They’ve removed anything you could tie a rope to’

The entire narrative is from Offred’s perspective. For which she is Offred, not June. We meet fellow handmaid’s Alma, Janine, Dolores and Moira. All of which go on to take their commanders names, as June has Of-Fred. The handmaid’s lifestyle is bleak, terrifying and at times depressing for the reader. It shows a lifestyle that would strike fear into most women.

‘A return to traditional values’

Offred is at her third house, the home of former gospel singer Serena Joy. We are introduced to the ‘Martha’s’ in the kitchen Rita and Cora. Martha’s are infertile women of low status. We also meet the homes guardian Nick who also has a relatively low status. But who regularly crosses the line with Offred via way of winks and eye contact. Which leads her to ponder if he is ‘an eye’ a type of informant to the Republic of Gilead. At her time at the house Offred dreams of escape, but just what kind of escape is left open to interpretation. . . .

‘It’s those other escapes, the ones you can open in yourself, given a cutting edge’

Offred is partnered with Ofglen for her only luxury of a simple walk to the shops. The often take walks to ‘the wall’ where traitors of the regime hang for all to see. Eventually it is through these meetings that we learn of the plight of others. Such as, Ofwarren (Janine) who is now heavily pregnant. The indoctrinate of Aunt Lydia has had the largest impact on Janine’s psychology. She is well and truly a programmed Handmaid.
On their journey back the girls are accosted by Japanese tourists, hoping for a picture of the famous handmaid’s. Offred and Ofglen are shocked to see women dressed as they once did in their past lives. It reminds them how much their lives have changed.

Through the narrative we learn of ‘gender treachery’ aka being homosexual. That unwomen are sent to the colonies, which is a death sentence of hard labour. We also learn that only 1/4 babies are born an unbaby. That this is due to the high levels of pollution, that caused the situation of infertility in the first place.

‘It’s not the husbands you have to watch out for, said Aunt Lydia, it’s the wives’

Serena Joy (Pam) used to enjoy giving speeches on the ‘sanctity of home’. Now she finds herself a prisoner to a regime of her own making. Although she enjoys a much higher status than Offred. She is still a woman and therefore sanctioned as so.

Offred must endure monthly obligatory tests which include urine, hormones, cancer smear and blood tests. In Gilead there is no such thing as sterile men. There are only fruitful women and barren women. It is a regime designed around female control and male dominance. A regime for which I am sure, I couldn’t last the week.
But the will to survive is human trait.

‘Sanity is a valuable possession’

Offred reflects upon and longs for her daughter. We are unaware of Offred’s full background. But we know that her daughter was 5yrs old when taken and now must be approximately 8yrs old. Offred longs for news of her child and this will provide an emotional pull, for all mother’s who read this novel. To be stripped of your rights as a woman, human being and mother. Is a life truly unworth living.

There is a particular scene at the red centre (handmaid training facility) where Janine must take part in ‘testifying’ she must go into personal details of her past. Her gang rape and subsequent abortion. It is a harrowing scene. You come to understand how her fragile mind could be easily manipulated, with just the right amount of human despair and suffering administered.

‘Love is not the point’ – Aunt Lydia

The Gileadean regime is explored in a much different way than the TV series. At times it feels more personal and harrowing as the voice of Offred infects your inner most thoughts. Yet the visuals from the TV series really add the sense of realism. As we watch this insane regime brought to life.

I can easily see why this is a classic novel and I am glad that due to the TV series adaption more and more modern women and women of future generations will read/watch and listen. I was only 2yrs old when this novel was first published, and it’ll be one I will NEVER forget!
5* Genius

‘I wish I was ignorant,
so I didn’t know how ignorant I am’

MA
Margaret Atwood
Twitter
Website

#Review – A Rising Man, 5* Genius and Q&A with author, Abir Mukherjee. @radiomukhers #WaterstonesThrillerOfTheMonth

Super excited to feature this novel on my blog today and I can’t rate this book highly  enough! This novel has all the perfect ingredients of a brilliant 5* Genius read and it is no surprise to me, that Waterstones have chosen it as there thriller of the month for May!

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A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee

The synopsis:

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…

My review:

Britain, a Christian country where theft is not only illegal, it’s also considered a sin. So few modern brits, are aware of the thievery, of their ancestors. I urge you to read this novel. It’s not only a brilliant read but an education on the impact of colonialism. It just may shatter your illusions of the Empire!

This novel is historical crime fiction, set in 1919 India following a case with the Imperial Police Force. The protagonist Captain Sam Wyndham is a new arrival to Calcutta and a former Scotland Yard detective. Having known death and misery all his life and fresh from the battle scenes of the Great War he hopes to start a new life with his new posting. Partnered with Sgt ‘Surrender-not’ Banerjee, a native of India and arrogant/bigoted Inspector Digby they are summoned to their first case.

A dead body has been found in a ‘gullee’ alley/open sewer adjacent to a brothel. The throat has been cut and the eyes have been pecked from the head. The corpse is that of Alexander MacAuley and he has a note stuffed in his mouth that reads “no more warnings English, blood will run in the street. Quit India”. MacAuley works for the Government in Bengal, who’s central job is to act as a peacekeeper between the British and the natives. Is this a political killing? If so who and why?

There are several comparisons between Calcutta and London, this helps you understand the setting much better. There is a genuine feel for the people, weather, buildings, atmosphere and the culture. You really get a sense for the weather with descriptions such as monsoon rains and steaming jungle humidity. There is one very significant paragraph where Sam can hear the Muezzins call to prayer at 5.30am. I lived in Cyprus, right on the border to the Turkish North, despite being an atheist myself, there is an incredible beauty in waking to hear the unity of people in prayer.

The novel is a very honest portrayal of the impact of colonialism on the natives. Something we gloss over or whitewash in British history, too often. The novel talks of the divide in race and also how inferiority/superiority has driven a division between two races of people. We see how wealthy businessmen are able to manipulate the Bengalis, purely motivated by greed. Upon arrival at the Bengal Club Sam notices a sign stating “no dogs or Indians beyond this point”. How did 150,000 Brits rule over 300 million natives? When it is assumed this is an assassination of a senior British official by native ‘terrorists’ I am forced to ask myself who are the real terrorists?

We slowly become aware that there is corruption and cover-ups leading right up to the peak of those in the colonial hierarchy. In Calcutta anyone can be bought for the right amount of Rupees, Brit or native! But what happens when a man discovers his morals? Is that a death sentence itself? When there’s an attempt to rob a local Darjeeling mail train and a train guard is killed, Sam becomes convinced there is a connection. I love the way that Sam constantly questions himself and his surroundings throughout the plot. Will Sam solve the case? Will ‘Surrender-not’ earn Sam and Digby’s respect? Does British justice, mean justice, only for the British?

I absolutely loved this novel. I am a huge fan of historical crime fiction and there is nothing quite like this, I have ever read before. Unique with its era and setting, this is one series to follow! Abir MuKherjee has managed to cleverly put together one of the finest novels I have read this year so far! Out of 83 read so far this year A Rising Man is my 8Th edition to the 5* Genius list! Very highly recommended! – 5* Genius.

Q&A:

AM: Hi Abby. Thanks for reviewing A Rising Man, and for having me on your blog.

Q) For the readers, can you give a summary of your background and your series?

A) My parents emigrated to the UK in the sixties and, though born in London, I grew up in the West of Scotland, which other than the climate, is a fantastic part of the world. However due to work, I’ve been an exile in London for the last seventeen years.

The series is set in India during the late British Raj and features Sam Wyndham, an ex-Scotland Yard detective who, having survived the First World War, ends up working for the Imperial Police Force in Calcutta primarily because it’s slightly preferable to suicide. He’s assisted by an Indian sergeant, Surendranath Banerjee, but his British colleagues can’t pronounce his name and so re-christen him ‘Surrender-not’.

I’m hoping that the series will chart the ups and downs of British India from 1919 to Indian independence in 1947 as seen through the eyes of these two men, but at the same time I expect there’ll be a lot of dead bodies along the way.

Q) One thing I absolutely loved about your novel, was the historical elements. What was the inspiration behind the era and setting? Why Calcutta?

A) I find the period of British rule in India a particularly fascinating place and time, unique in many respects and one that’s been overlooked, especially in terms of crime fiction. I think that period in history has contributed so much to modern India and Britain, and it was a time that saw the best and the worst of both peoples.

I made a conscious decision to set the series in Calcutta, not just because it was the place my parents came from, but it’s a fascinating city, unique in many respects and in the period that the series is set, it was the premier city in Asia, as glamorous and exotic a location as anywhere in the world. But it was a city undergoing immense change and it was the centre of the freedom movement, a hotbed of agitation against British rule. The history of Calcutta is the history of the British in India. Their presence still cries out from its streets, its buildings and in its outlook.

It would have been harder for me to write authentically while setting it in another Indian city. While I know Bombay and Delhi quite well, I don’t speak the language. Also, I don’t think either city had the same hothouse atmosphere that Calcutta had during the period.

Q) The two main protagonists Cpt Sam Wyndham and Sgt ‘surrender-not’ Banerjee, are very different. What was the thought process behind their characterisation?

A) That’s a great question. I think we have a tendency to view the period of the British Raj either through rose tinted spectacles, or to sweep that aspect of our history under the carpet. Similarly, Indians tend to view it primarily through the prism of Gandhi’s independence movement. I wanted to look at the period from a different angle and I felt the best way to do that was through the eyes of two individuals, one British and one Indian, but both unwedded to any preconceived notions. Sam comes to India as a jaded cynic, unwilling to swallow any preconceived notions his superiors might have about the natives, and Surrender-not, though Indian, is British educated. Both men are, to a degree, fish out of water.

Q) The novel is very detailed in regards of its honest portrayal of colonialism and the British Empire. What was your research process?

A) My family is from Calcutta, so there was a lot of asking of questions of old family members and friends. I also made a few trips to the city and that helped to get a sense of the place. During one visit, I was lucky enough to be given access to the Calcutta Police Museum where a lot of the police documents from the period are on exhibit. That was fascinating, as the Kolkata Police today has a rather ambivalent view of its own history during that time. In terms of research though, most of that was done sitting at home and trawling the internet.

Q) I have read many novels on colonialism, rather ashamedly more regarding Africa than India. I found this novel to be very educational, in terms of that you really feel you’re within the era. Was that your intention?

A) To a large extent, yes. The Raj period isn’t really taught in British schools. In fact, I learned more about German history in the nineteen twenties and thirties than I did about British history in the period. My impetus to write this book came from a desire to tell the story of a time and place which I felt neither British nor Indian sources did justice to.

At the same time, I didn’t want to write a history book, but rather a thriller that would tell its own story, set against the backdrop of that historical period.

Q) My teenage daughter is obsessed by Indian culture, the clothes, food and sights to see etc. She has made it quite clear, she intends to travel to visit India as soon as she is old enough. Are there any parts of Indian culture that you love, but couldn’t fit into the novel?

A) Loads, though not all of it good! I find Indian mythology quite fascinating. The pantheon of stories of gods and demons and heroic figures which has been built up over thousands of years is especially interesting. I’d love to explore some of that side of India in future books.

Q) A Necessary Evil #2 in the series is due out 1st June this year, can you give us any snippets of information about the plot?

A) The new book is set in 1920 and Sam and Surrender-not find themselves investigating the assassination of the son of a maharajah. Their enquiries lead them to the fabulously wealthy state of Sambalpore and before they know it, they’re in the middle of a case which has sinister repercussions for the whole kingdom.

In their time, the Indian maharajahs were the wealthiest men in the world and were revered almost as gods by many of their subjects. A lot of them were descended from warrior kings, but during the Raj they had little real power. As a result, a lot of them became feckless and debauched, spending their money on palaces, harems full of concubines and fleets of Rolls Royces. It just seemed a really colourful period in history and I was keen to see what Sam and Surrender-not would make of it.

Q) What was your journey from the original idea to publication?

A) My journey was a wee bit different from most debut authors’ tales of dedication and persistence, and I suppose it started as a bit of a mid-life crisis. I’m an accountant by profession and have spent the past twenty years in finance. I was thirty-nine, hurtling towards forty and I thought, maybe there might be more to life than accounting.

Then I saw an interview with Lee Child on BBC Breakfast where he talked about how, at the age of forty, he started writing, and I thought, why not? I’d always wanted to write a book but had never had the confidence, and as far as mid-life crises went, writing a novel seemed safer than buying a motorbike and piercing my ear.

I started writing A Rising Man in September 2013 and a few weeks later, I came across details of the Harvill Secker Crime Writing Competition in the Telegraph, looking for new and unpublished crime writers. I tidied up the first few chapters, wrote the synopsis and sent off my entry.

A few months later, I got an e mail telling me I’d won and that Harvill Secker were going to publish my novel. Except I didn’t have a novel, only about thirty thousand rough words which didn’t always fit together. Fortunately, I had a wonderful editor and team at Harvill who, over the space of eighteen months, guided me and helped me to turn those words into a proper novel.

Q) Your novel has received huge recognition and praise, what has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) There have been so many great moments – holding the first copy of the book in my hands; seeing it in the shops; reading reviews in the papers; and meeting some of my heroes such as Val McDermid and Ian Rankin. To be honest though, the best moments have been the personal ones, such as seeing my late father’s name in the dedication and being invited to give a talk at my old school. I hadn’t been back there in over twenty years and it brought back so many memories. I also met up with some of my former teachers who are still there, and that was incredibly special.

Q) Will there be a #3 in the series, is this something currently being written?

A) There will indeed, and I’m currently writing it (though am way behind schedule). It hasn’t got a title yet, but it’s set in December 1921 and sees Sam and Surrender-not back in Calcutta, on the trail of a serial killer. The backdrop is Gandhi’s civil disobedience campaign of that year, when the Mahatma’s slogan was Freedom within the Year. That year is drawing to a close and tensions in the city are high. Into this charged environment, the British decide to send the Prince of Wales on a visit to India, arriving in Calcutta on Christmas Day.

*Huge thanks to Abir for being kind enough to take part in a Q&A on my blog and I wish you every success in your writing career 🙂
AM: It’s been my pleasure, Abby. Thanks once again for having me on!

AM
Photo credit: Nick Tucker

Authors Links:
Web: www.abirmukherjee.com
Twitter: @radiomukhers

For those of you who have already read and loved, A Rising Man. You will be delighted to know #2 in the series is due out, just next month!

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A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee is released on the 1st June and is available for pre-order now! 🙂

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…

New release, review: New Boy by Tracy Chevalier 4*

new boy cover

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

The synopsis:

Arriving at his fourth school in six years, diplomat’s son Osei Kokote knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day – so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players – teachers and pupils alike – will never be the same again.

The tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970s’ suburban Washington schoolyard, where kids fall in and out of love with each other before lunchtime, and practise a casual racism picked up from their parents and teachers. Watching over the shoulders of four 11-year-olds – Osei, Dee, Ian and his reluctant girlfriend Mimi – Tracy Chevalier’s powerful drama of friends torn apart by jealousy, bullying and betrayal will leave you reeling.

My review:

This novel is listed on Netgalley as general adult fiction; I think it could be easily incorporated into the YA genre also. It could actually prove very educational to young adults to the dangers of racism, bullying and prejudice. It would also highlight to the younger generation, how far we have come in terms of, the socially acceptable racism of the past etc.

This an interpretation of Othello, set in 1970’s suburban Washington DC. It centres around several students, as they ‘welcome’ new boy Osei Kokote. Osei aka O (Osie meaning Noble) is a young student whose father is an international diplomat. He is starting his 4th school in 6 years, due to moving around various locations. Despite being born in the 1980’s myself, I felt the novel had a very childhood feel to it. Young people, coming of age that was until the plot becomes more and more established.

Osei, Dee, Ian and Mimi are young students, trying to make sense of teir lives and the hierarchy of the education system. It is only Osei as the only black student at the school who is exposed to prejudice, casual racist comments and assumptions due to the colour of his skin. The assumptions really hit home to me. The assumption that he is poor as he is from Ghana; not only is Ghana the second wealthiest country in Africa, it is rich, in terms of culture. Also the age old typical stereotype that a young black man is essentially a criminal or violent in some way! With all this stacked against him, Osei has quite the first day to navigate!

Dee however is quite sweet on Osei and asks about Ghana out of genuine interest. She enjoys and embraces Osei regardless of his colour or heritage. However, a casual moment of affection is misinterpreted by a teacher whom assumes that Dee needs ‘saving’ from Osei. This scene really upset me; the assumption that a young black man is a terrible danger to a young white woman was reminiscent of the Emmett Till case. The racism that a young black male ‘must know his place’ is possibly one of thee, single most damaging attitudes and has impacted young black men to the present day!

One young man not happy with the alliance and blossoming romance between Dee and Osei is Ian. Ian is a scheming bully who sets in turn a motion of events with the intention to break up Dee and Osei. Fuelled by jealousy and set on a path, Ian manipulates all the students; building to a catastrophic ending!

Hugely recommend this novel to young adults and adults. I hope this novel is able to gain some support from education settings. It would be very beneficial to young minds and a great source of debate and discussion. 4*

New Boy is released today, 11th May 2017 🙂

*I received an Ebook arce via Netgalley, in return for an honest review.