Friday, 3 December 2021

The Replacement - Melanie Golding


When a small child is found wandering alone, the local shopkeepers call the authorities immediately. Twenty minutes later, the girl’s mother turns up, panicked and distraught. It doesn't take long to clear things up, and mother and daughter are soon reunited and sent on their way.

Miles away, the body of a man is discovered, floating in a bathtub, but the most surprising discovery of all is that he isn't dead. Despite his injuries, he is very much alive.

Two seemingly unrelated events. But as DS Harper begins to investigate, disturbing truths start to come to light that connect the man to the mother and child, and suddenly it’s not clear where the danger truly lies. Harper must find out, and quickly. Because someone, or something, is closing in and she needs to uncover the truth before it’s too late…

Weaving together the trademark folklore inspiration that readers loved in Little Darlings, with the procedural narrative force of a brilliant mystery, this is the excellent and unnerving new novel from Melanie Golding.


What did I think?

I absolutely loved Melanie Golding's debut, Little Darlings, so I was thrilled to bits to be chosen to take part in the Tandem Collective readalong for her new book, The Replacement.  With a mix of folklore, thriller and police procedural, this is a fast-paced read that will shock and surprise the reader and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The start of the novel is fantastic and it hooked me immediately as you know that something is not quite right and there's something darker hidden beneath the surface.  As if I wasn't hooked enough, a man is found barely clinging on to life and it's clear that it has something to do with the reunited mother and daughter.  The police investigation becomes even more intriguing when the lead investigator tries to hide her conflict of interest.  What a tangled web we must unravel...

I couldn't read fast enough to discover how events played out and Melanie Golding very cleverly misdirects the reader on several occasions so you think you have it all worked out but you really don't.  Some things didn't surprise me, as I'd read Little Darlings, but it didn't prevent me from enjoying the story.  The writing is beautiful, creating layer upon layer of intrigue that must be peeled away gradually to reveal every secret hidden within the pages.

A wonderfully dark and haunting story, The Replacement is intriguing, compelling and hugely enjoyable.  If you're looking for a crime thriller with a difference, then look no further. 

I received a gifted ARC to read and review for the readalong and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Wednesday, 1 December 2021

The Midnight Child - J.A. Baker

 
A long-ago trauma and a family mystery may shed light on her troubled sleep—or pull her into the darkness once and for all . . .

As a child, Grace Cooper suffered from bouts of sleepwalking. Now, after the unexpected death of her husband, she’s moved back to Woodburn cottage, her childhood home—and the sleepwalking returns. It’s all stirring up dark memories—memories that involve the disappearance of her brother Simon, who vanished one night when he was a child, and the death of her father, who fell from an upstairs window.

With her mother in a care home with dementia and her sister living in a nearby village, Grace tries to settle in—but with the passage of time, the sleepwalking only becomes more regular and the blurred memories of the past only become more disturbing. Spurred on by these hazy dreamlike recollections, Grace becomes determined to find out what happened to Simon that fateful night. But digging up the past isn’t always a good idea, because you never know what skeletons you might unearth . . .


What did I think?

I love J.A. Baker's writing; all her novels are outstanding but The Midnight Child is so magnificent that it completely blew me away.  It's a dark and disturbing storyline as sleepwalking and repressed memories are explored and you have to wonder how much you can really rely on your own memory.

The depth of character is stunning, with Grace Cooper being not only the main character but one of the few characters in the book.  Concentrating on one character in this way really allows the reader to get inside her head and follow her every move.  Grace was a sleepwalker as a child and her sleepwalking returns when she moves back into the family home, the home from which Grace's brother Simon mysteriously disappeared.  You can almost feel the secrets buried deep in the walls, just bursting to get out!  I certainly couldn't read fast enough to discover everything about Simon's disappearance.

I also have to mention Grace's mother who is suffering from dementia.  Although heartbreaking to read about this devastating condition, J. A. Baker writes so sensitively and honestly that I really must applaud her skill.  I can't even begin to imagine the effect that dementia has on the sufferer and their loved ones but I got a glimpse of it in this stunning book.

Ominous and tense, The Midnight Child is like a simmering pot, constantly threatening to boil over the minute you take your eyes off it.  I couldn't tear my eyes away from the page as I raced towards the absolutely breathtaking conclusion.  I can always rely on J.A. Baker to shock and surprise me and The Midnight Child did just that.  An outstanding and highly recommended novel.

I received a digital ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Friday, 26 November 2021

BLOG TOUR: Dead Mercy (Maggie Jamieson thriller, Book 5) - Noelle Holten

 
‘Hugely confident … harrowing, visceral … recommended’ Ian Rankin on Dead Inside

A brutal murder…
When a burned body is found with its teeth missing, DC Maggie Jamieson discovers that the victim may be the husband of one of her probation colleagues.

A dark history…
As the body count rises, the team becomes increasingly baffled by how the victims could possibly be connected until a clue leads them to a historical case that was never prosecuted.

A terrible secret…
In order to catch the killer, Maggie must piece together what happened all those years ago before it’s too late.


What did I think?

This book is fantastic!  I've loved every single book in the DC Maggie Jamieson series but Noelle Holten has really excelled herself with Dead Mercy and I think it's her best one yet.  Although Dead Mercy is book 5 in the series, you can totally read it as a standalone and any new readers of the series at this point are sure to become huge Maggie Jamieson fans.

Noelle Holten never shies away from tough subjects but they are always dealt with sensitively and realistically.  Without giving away too much of the amazing plot, Dead Mercy centres around a serial killer who is meting out justice to people who were not prosecuted in a historical abuse case.  I did sympathise with the killer as nobody should get away with any form of abuse and of course I had no idea who the killer was so it was fun to gather the clues along with Maggie and her team.

The writing is outstanding, creating levels of suspense and intrigue that kept my eyes firmly glued to the page.  The pacing is fast, the plotting is perfect and the whole book could be the subject of a crime writing masterclass.  

Dead Mercy is a dark, gripping and tense edge of your seat thriller.  It's an exceptional novel that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.

I received a digital ARC to read and review for the blog tour; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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About the author:

Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog. Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

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Monday, 22 November 2021

The Final Shot: A 1960s London gangland thriller (Charles Holborne Legal Thrillers Book 7) - Simon Michael

 
Charles Holborne returns with another high-stakes case! Perfect for fans of John Grisham, Robert Bailey, Michael Connelly and Robert Dugoni.

They think it’s all over…

London, 1966

As England eagerly anticipates the World Cup Final, barrister Charles Holborne is briefed in another high-profile case.

Once a sadistic gangster, Reverend Stanley Sharpe found God while incarcerated and has run his own parish for a number of years since being released. But when he is convicted of murdering Frank Marshall, right-hand man to the Kray twins, he is sent back to prison for life.

Convinced that he is innocent, Reverend Sharpe’s wife begs Charles to apply to the Court of Appeal to reopen the case.

With his own question marks over whether Frank Marshall is really dead, Charles agrees to take the brief on.

But with the media now casting doubt over Sharpe’s redemption, Charles knows he is bound for failure unless he can find further evidence.

And to do so he must once again cross the most dangerous men in London…

THE FINAL SHOT is the seventh crime novel in an exciting historical series, the Charles Holborne Legal Thrillers — gritty, hard-boiled mysteries set in 1960s London.


What did I think?

The Final Shot is book 7 in the Charles Holborne legal thrillers series and it's written in such a way that you could definitely read it as a standalone, but I really do urge you to read the books in order as it's one of my favourite series and every single instalment is brilliant.

Set during the summer of 1966, when England is in the grip of World Cup fever and The Krays rule the shady London underworld, Charles Holborne is asked to advise on an appeal.  Stanley Sharpe gave up his life of crime to dedicate his life to the church and he is in prison for a crime he claims he did not commit.  The police have a confession from him, so why did he confess if he didn't do it?  

Charles Holborne never sees things in black and white, not when he knows the many shades of grey that lie within.  With The Krays having their fingers in many pies, nothing is ever as clear as it seems and if anyone will find out the truth, Charles will.  As well as the legal thriller side to the plot, Charles' personal life also plays a big part in the story.  Charles is no stranger to discrimination so he agrees to be shadowed by a young woman doing her pupillage.  Maria Hudson has set tongues wagging in chambers; she's female, American and black - what a shock to the system this must be in 1960's London!

Reconnected with his girlfriend Sally, Charles is in a much happier place now so it was lovely to see how his life has changed (for the better).  That's why it's worth reading the books in order as the reader becomes acquainted with Charles over the course of the series and you really do care about what happens to him.

Gripping, atmospheric and incredibly nostalgic, The Final Shot is a winner!  With the spirit of 1966 woven into the prose, I was gripped by World Cup Fever as well as the razor-sharp plot.  It's another unputdownable legal thriller from storyteller extraordinaire, Simon Michael.

I received an ARC from the author to read and review; all opinions are my own.

My rating:

Publishing on 19/01/22, pre-order now from Amazon UK

Friday, 19 November 2021

Everyday Kindness: A collection of uplifting tales to brighten your day - Various Authors

 
Everyday Kindness is a charity anthology of short, fictional stories of kindness, edited by LJ Ross. These uplifting tales of hope and of small, everyday kindnesses are intended to support wider, positive mental health goals and foster wellbeing through the act of reading tales of goodwill inspired by others. Featuring authors across the spectrum of literature, some international bestsellers and award-winning writers amongst them, this is a unique collection of words.

All proceeds from the book will be donated to Shelter, a charity that helps millions of people a year struggling with bad housing or homelessness.

Authors include: LJ Ross, Adam Hamdy, Alex Smith, Alexander Gordon Smith, Alison Stockham, Anne O’Leary, Barbara Copperthwaite, J.D. Kirk, C.L. Taylor, Caroline Mitchell, Chris McDonald, C.K. McDonnell, Claire Sheehy, Clare Flynn, Darren O’Sullivan, David Leadbeater, Debbie Young, Deborah Carr, Emma Robinson, Graham Brack, Hannah Lynn, Heather Martin, Holly Martin, Ian Sainsbury, Imogen Clark, James Gilbert, Jane Corry, Jean Gill, J.J. Marsh, Judith O’Reilly, Kelly Clayton, Kim Nash, Leah Mercer, Liz Fenwick, Louise Beech, Louise Jensen, Louise Mumford, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Marcia Woolf, Mark Stay, Marcie Steele, Natasha Bache, Nick Jackson, Nick Quantrill, Nicky Black, Patricia Gibney, Rachel Sargeant, Rob Parker, Rob Scragg, S.E. Lynes, Shelley Day, Casey Kelleher, Sophie Hannah, Victoria Connelly, Victoria Cooke, Will Dean.


What did I think?

What a wonderful book!  There is so much warmth and compassion crammed into this superb anthology that it actually moved me to tears.  By buying a copy you'll not only get an awesome book but you'll also be helping the charity Shelter, which helps people who are homeless or are struggling with bad housing.  So although I always include buy links at the end of my review, I think it's worth adding one HERE too.

There's a very high probability that you will find at least one of your favourite authors in this collection, but you're sure to pick up one or two more along the way; I've added a lot of authors to my watch list after reading this fabulous book.  The quality of the writing is exceptional across the board and there's not one story that disappoints.  It's actually really impressive to see a lot of authors writing outside of their usual genre to create such wonderfully uplifting and compassionate stories.

Everyday Kindness is sure to leave a smile on the face of every single reader.  It's a veritable hug in a book and I certainly feel richer for having read it.  5 huge sparkly stars and a big shout out to LJ Ross for leading this magnificent project and making it happen.

I received an ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Monday, 15 November 2021

Flight of the Shearwater (The Sturmtaucher Trilogy Book 2) - Alan Jones

 
Flight of the Shearwater: Book 2 in the Sturmtaucher Trilogy, a powerful and compelling story of two families torn apart by evil.

With Poland divided between Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Union of Soviet Republics, the increasingly confident Third Reich flexes its military muscles northwards into Denmark and Norway, while the rest of Europe watches anxiously over its shoulders.

General Erich Kästner, in his key role in the Abwehr, is fast becoming aware of the mass expulsion of Jews and other minority groups from Germany and from northern Poland, to the new ghettos of the Generalgouverment area of southern Poland, and has an inkling of what the National Socialists' have in mind for Europe's Jews.

As Holland and Belgium fall, and the British are routed at Dunkirk, barely escaping across the channel, the seemingly impregnable France collapses under the Wehrmacht Blitzkrieg, sealing the fate of millions of Jews, now trapped under Hitler's rule.

The Nussbaums, thwarted in their attempts to escape to Denmark, desperately seek other routes out of Germany but, one by one, they are closed off, and they realise they have left it all too late...


What did I think?

Oh my goodness, words failed me when I turned the final page of this wonderful book; no review I write will do it justice as it is SIMPLY STUNNING!  Alan Jones may very well have written the finest historical trilogy of all time and it's not to be missed, so I'm just going to add the buy link for the series right here: BUY IT HERE!!  If you're still with me, I'll tell you what I thought.

Listed as 800 pages in length, it takes about 18 hours to read this second instalment in The Sturmtaucher Trilogy but it's well worth the time investment.  Although you could jump into the series at book 2, I would recommend reading the series in order to understand the background of the characters.  Wartime Germany and the persecution of the Jews is a difficult subject to read about and on more than one occasion I had tears in my eyes.  The characters are brought to life so vividly that I walked every step with them and I was completely invested in their wellbeing.

The Nussbaum family has tried to stay together throughout the war, despite the increasing threat to Jews in Germany.  When it becomes clear that they aren't all going to get out of Germany as a family, Yosef and Miriam make a heartbreaking decision to try to save their children, Ruth and Manny.  With the help of General Erich Kästner, the Nussbaum's employer and friend, the children must embark on a perilous journey to reach safety.

Heartbreaking, harrowing and completely compelling, Flight of the Shearwater is an exceptional piece of historical fiction.  Five stars is simply not enough and I can't wait for the final book in the trilogy to continue reading this outstanding story.

I received a digital ARC from the author to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Friday, 12 November 2021

BLOG TOUR: The Red Monarch (The Brontë Mysteries Book 3) - Bella Ellis


The Brontë sisters' first poetry collection has just been published, potentially marking an end to their careers as amateur detectors, when Anne receives a letter from her former pupil Lydia Robinson.

Lydia has eloped with a young actor, Harry Roxby, and following her disinheritance, the couple been living in poverty in London. Harry has become embroiled with a criminal gang and is in terrible danger after allegedly losing something very valuable that he was meant to deliver to their leader. The desperate and heavily pregnant Lydia has a week to return what her husband supposedly stole, or he will be killed. She knows there are few people who she can turn to in this time of need, but the sisters agree to help Lydia, beginning a race against time to save Harry's life.

In doing so, our intrepid sisters come face to face with a terrifying adversary whom even the toughest of the slum-dwellers are afraid of . . . The Red Monarch.
 

What did I think?

I am completely addicted to The Brontë Mysteries series so I have been so looking forward to book 3, The Red Monarch, and it does not disappoint.  Bella Ellis has created such a wonderful portrayal of the Brontë sisters that it feels as if their very essence is woven into the pages.  It's just brilliant and I loved every single page.

With their brother Branwell suffering from a broken heart and the three sisters awaiting the first review of their poetry collection, a distraction is most welcome.  So when Anne receives a plea for help from a former pupil in London, the sisters put on their detector hats once more.  London is indeed a very different place to Yorkshire but the Brontës are fearless and always look out for each other, so I had no doubt that whatever was awaiting them in London would be no match for them.

Filled with danger and so very atmospheric, The Red Monarch isn't just a step back in time it's like stepping in the Brontë sisters' shoes. Bella Ellis' writing is sublime; it's so authentic that I often forgot I wasn't reading one of the Brontë sisters' classic works.  It's such a wonderful book in a wonderful series and I really can't recommend it highly enough.

I received an ARC from the publisher to read and review for the blog tour; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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