Monday, 11 December 2017

The Book Lovers' Miscellany - Claire Cock-Starkey

Ever wondered how ink is made? Or what is the bestselling book of all time? Or which are the oldest known books in the world? Highbrow to lowbrow, all aspects of the book are celebrated and explored in 'The Book Lovers' Miscellany'. From a list of unfinished novels, a short history of the comic, the story behind Mills and Boon and an entry on books printed with mistakes, to a guide to the colours of Penguin paperback jackets and a list of the most influential academic books of all time. 

Between these pages you will discover the history of paper, binding, printing and dust jackets; which books have faced bans; which are the longest established literary families; and which bestsellers were initially rejected. You can explore the output of the most prolific writers and marvel at the youth of the youngest published authors; learn which natural pigments were used to decorate a medieval bible; and what animal is needed for the making of vellum. 

The ideal gift for every bibliophile, 'The Book Lovers' Miscellany' is full of fun facts, potted histories and curious lists, perfect for dipping into and sharing.

What did I think?

If you're looking for the perfect gift for a book lover, then look no further than The Book Lovers' Miscellany.  What a treasure trove of information this is.  I want to read it again and again to see what I missed.  It's one of those books that you'll read something new each time you pick it up.

I just love the pocket size of this book, it makes it so transportable and I feel like I want to carry it with me everywhere so I can dip in and out of it and read excerpts to my friends and family.  There are so many interesting facts and so much to learn in this small but mighty book.  If you're a lover of lists, you will LOVE this...from the most translated authors to the most popular children books.  These facts are portrayed in such a way that you will remember them and be able to amaze your book loving friends, which I plan to do!

I can't recommend this book highly enough, I feel like it is my little bibliophilic bible and I never want to be parted from it.  Small but mighty, The Book Lovers' Miscellany will enchant any book lover.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Dark Skies (The DCI Ryan Mysteries Book 7) - LJ Ross

Beware what lies beneath…

One fateful, starry night, three friends embark on a secret camping trip but only two return home. Thirty years later, the body of a teenage boy rises from the depths of England’s biggest reservoir and threatens to expose a killer who has lain dormant…until now. 

Detective Chief Inspector Ryan returns from honeymoon to face danger from all sides. In the depths of Kielder Forest, a murderer has escaped justice before and will do anything to protect the secrets of the past. Meanwhile, back at Northumbria CID, an old foe has taken the helm as Superintendent and is determined to destroy Ryan at any cost. 

Who will prevail in Ryan’s most dangerous case yet?

Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunit set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape. 

What did I think?

There is NOTHING more exciting than a new DCI Ryan book being released.  LJ Ross has a 'Bypass the TBR pile' card up her sleeve as I, like many readers up and down the country, frantically finished the book I was reading to start this next instalment.  I ignored the clock that would have told me it was way past my bedtime, if I could have torn my eyes away from the page to check the time.  Instead I read on and greedily devoured every page as if I had suffered a reading famine.

The chilling prologue of Dark Skies takes us back to 1981 before Kielder Water, a large man-made lake existed, instead it was a small village surrounded by Kielder Forest.  One of the teenage villagers, Duncan Gray, went camping with friends unaware that he would never return home.  There was an investigation into his disappearance at the time but, when his mother receives a postcard apparently from Duncan, it is assumed that he is simply a runaway.  His mother holds on to that thought as the alternative is too awful to imagine.

In the present day with Ryan and Anna returning to normal life after their honeymoon, they both find themselves in Kielder where a body is discovered under the water.  When another murder is committed it is clear that the killer will do anything to protect themselves against a crime they got away with over 30 years ago.  They didn't bank on Ryan hunting them down though...

While Ryan has been on honeymoon, some things have changed in Northumbria CID with the arrival of DCS Jen Lucas.  Jen is bitterly holding a massive grudge after Ryan ended their relationship several years ago; she is one nasty piece of work and she's playing the long game, but who will end up as collateral damage?  When Jen starts manipulating certain people I was reminded of the rhyme: come into my parlour said the spider to the fly.  This is a story we haven't heard the end of and it means we're guaranteed more DCI Ryan books - hurrah!

LJ Ross continues her love affair with the beautiful North East in this latest instalment of the DCI Ryan series.  After each book, I find myself remarking that this latest book is my favourite...then another one comes along.  So I think that this is absolute proof that each book is getting better and better, although every single one of them is brilliant but how do you improve on perfection?  I don't know, but LJ Ross certainly seems to do it every single time!

I love the sprinkling of North East history in each book; some I knew, some I was shocked to find I didn't know and other things I had forgotten.  I was reading Dark Skies and was amazed that there used to be a village beneath Kielder Water...then a few minutes later I thought, hang on...I knew that.  LJ Ross is way better than a guide book and I don't think it will be long before visitors come to our region especially to see the places in the books.  It really is as stunning and picturesque as LJ Ross paints it, and I used to take it for granted until I saw the area through her eyes.

They don't come any better than this - it's a well deserved 5 stars from me.  I should have kept my review short as you could have been reading Dark Skies instead of reading about it.  So here's my alternative review in 4 words: JUST GO BUY IT!

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Thursday, 7 December 2017

BLOG TOUR: His Guilty Secret - Hélene Fermont

Secrets & Lies Are Dangerous 

When Jacques's body is discovered in a hotel room his wife, Patricia, suspects he has been hiding something from her. 

Why was he found naked and who is the woman that visited his grave on the day of the funeral? Significantly, who is the unnamed beneficiary Jacques left a large sum of money to in his will and what is the reason her best friend, also Jacques's sister, Coco, refuses to tell her what he confided to her? 

Struggling to find out the truth, Patricia visits Malmö where her twin sister Jasmine lives and is married to her ex boyfriend. But the sisters relationship is toxic and when a family member dies shortly after, an old secret is revealed that shines a light on an event that took place on their tenth birthday. 

As one revelation after another is revealed, Patricia is yet to discover her husband's biggest secret and what ultimately cost him his life. 

His Guilty Secret is an unafraid examination of the tangled bonds between siblings, the lengths we go to in protecting our wrongdoings, and the enduring psychological effects this has on the innocent...and the not so innocent. 

What did I think?

I discovered Hélene Fermont when I read and enjoyed her debut: Because of You, so I didn't hesitate to pick up His Guilty Secret.  Somehow I have missed her second novel, We Never Said Goodbye, but I aim to rectify that in due course.

Jacques has it all: a loving, trusting wife, a good job as a pilot, a sister who can keep his secrets and a mistress who doesn't want to break up his marriage.  No wonder this double life causes him so much stress that he has a heart attack whilst in a hotel with his mistress, Isabelle.  His wife, Patricia, knows that Jacques likes to 'unwind after his flight' by staying overnight in a hotel but Patricia has no idea that he's not alone.  Oooh I could have shaken her - what normal man doesn't want to rush home to his family?  A man who's a cheating, liar that's who!

So in the aftermath of Jacques death, it becomes clear to Patricia that Jacques wasn't as faithful as she thought.  He loved her, of that there is no doubt, but he also loved Isabelle and, although he claimed to love both women and couldn't leave either one of them, he annoyed me as he was selfishly having his cake and eating it.  Patricia starts to dig into Jacques' secret life and I felt so sorry for her when she realised that her sister-in-law and close friend, Coco, knew all along about Jacques' relationship with Isabelle.  This is where Patricia really showed what she is made of, as she could have easily folded under the weight of grief and deception.  She picks herself up and gets on with her life, determined to unearth every last secret that Jacques had buried.  His deception hurt her so much that nothing else can hurt her now.

There's something so crisp, clean and refreshing about Hélene Fermont's writing that it is very aptly referred to as having a scandi-feel.  We hear a lot about the Danish concepts of 'hygge' and 'lykke' and I feel that His Guilty Secret completely embraces the ethos of the Scandinavians.  There is no woman scorned, crying for days and feeling sorry for herself in this book, it's more a 'keep calm and carry on' and make the most of what you have left.  So very thought-provoking and eloquent, I think Hélene Fermont could almost have a genre all to herself.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Follow the tour:

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Urbane Advent Calendar: COVER REVEAL

Thanks for following over the last few days as I opened the doors on my Urbane Advent Calendar to reveal what so many crime fiction fans have been waiting for: the new Simon Michael book!  

If you have been following my blog for a while, you will know that I am a HUGE fan of Simon Michael's Charles Holborne series.  I am absolutely delighted to announce that the fourth book in the series, Corrupted, is due to be published by Urbane Publications in June 2018 and I have been given the honour of revealing the fabulous cover.  

I asked Matthew Smith of Urbane Publications to tell us a little bit about Corrupted:

Urbane Publications is delighted to announce the signing of Corrupted, bestselling crime author Simon Michael’s fourth novel in the popular Charles Holborne thriller series. 

Set in London during the swinging Sixties, Corrupted follows the further adventures of barrister Charles Holborne - East End boy made good. Following the events of The Lighterman, Charles is building his reputation as a brilliant murder trial lawyer and living the good life with partner Sally. But he can’t escape the influences – and dangers – of the past, and finds himself drawn once more into the orbit of the notorious Kray twins. It’s not long before Charles is courting scandal – and threats to his very life – when investigating a sex ring that involves not just the Krays and the Mafia, but goes to the very echelons of the country’s power. From East End boxing clubs to sleazy gay sex parties, Corrupted presents Charles with his most dangerous and challenging case yet, one that could destroy not just his career but everything he holds dear.

Well, I simply CAN'T WAIT for June to continue Charlie Holborne's story.  If you've not discovered this series yet, catch up now by clicking the below links for each book to read my reviews and buy your own copies.  You won't regret it - this is Britcrime at its very best!

AN HONEST MANmy review / buy from Amazon / buy from Urbane

THE LIGHTERMANmy review / buy from Amazon / buy from Urbane

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Urbane Advent Calendar - Door Number 5

Almost there!  Door number 5 reveals a bit more of the cover and I can't wait to open door number 6 tomorrow to share the full cover with you.  Don't miss it!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Urbane Advent Calendar - Door Number 4

Not long to go now!  Check out those winkle pickers behind door number 4.  I can't wait to get back to the 60's era with this next instalment of the Charlie Holborne series from Simon Michael.

Only 2 more doors to open - come back tomorrow to open door number 5.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Urbane Advent Calendar - Door Number 3

Opening another door reveals even more of the cover and we can see the author's name.  Time to get excited, readers!  It's a new Simon Michael book.

Only 3 more doors to open and we'll see the full glorious cover - come back tomorrow to open door number 4.