Tuesday 31 December 2019

The Christmas Hypothesis - Anna Blix

Fifteen years at the North Pole.

Niklas has dedicated his life to science, but is still waiting for the big breakthrough when he will finally get the recognition he deserves…

And on top of that he has an embarrassing problem. Every year before Christmas, he receives a huge amount of misdirected post — children’s wish lists to Santa Claus.

When Niklas loses his funding he tumbles into an identity crisis. If he isn’t the brilliant scientist he has fancied himself, then who is he?

He follows one of the letters to London. There he meets Scottish reindeer herder Clare, who hates everything about Christmas…

and his eccentric landlady Mrs Dollimore, who believes that those letters were not misdirected at all, and that Niklas is the real Santa Claus...

There’s only one way to find out! Together they come up with The Christmas Hypothesis.

The Christmas Hypothesis is the funny and heart-warming story of a lost man who sets out to find purpose in life. Perfect for fans of The Rosie Project, The Hundred Year Old Man and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

What did I think?

A man called Niklas living at the North Pole is naturally going to get A LOT of post in December, and so we meet our hero of The Christmas Hypothesis: not omnipresent Saint Nicholas but Finnish Niklas Heikkinen.  What starts off as meeting a very annoying anti-social man soon becomes a heartwarming festive tale and it certainly warmed the cockles of my heart.

Niklas is one of those people who seem to be busy doing nothing and he's got away with it for quite some time, until after 15 years of producing absolutely nothing from the North Pole science station his funding is withdrawn and he is forced to leave.  With no family at home in Finland he hops on a plane to London hoping to work out what to do next.  Unfortunately, Mary and Joseph had more luck finding a room in Bethlehem than Nicklas did of finding a hotel room in London in December.  Then fate intervenes, or maybe it was a sprinkling of Christmas magic that sees him knocking on the door of Mrs. Dollimore's B&B at the dead of night.  

Niklas arrives at Mrs. Dollimore's with a letter addressed to Santa in his pocket and Mrs. Dollimore is convinced that he wouldn't have received it unless he was the real Santa.  Niklas and Mrs. Dollimore come up with a scientific experiment to prove whether or not he is Santa.  As the test criteria get ticked off, even the acquisition of a reindeer, and Christmas approaches Niklas just needs to do one final thing: deliver a present to Sophie, the letter writer, but she didn't put her address on the letter.  Science and Christmas magic can sort that one out, surely?

I really loved seeing the development of Niklas' character.  I must admit he really annoyed me at first with his lethargic work ethic and lack of camaraderie but as the story progressed we do see another side to him.  He doesn't really have many people skills but he certainly brings some fun and friendship to Mrs. Dollimore's life and he practically doubles his social circle overnight after a literal run in with reindeer herder, Clare.

Whether you think it's fate or Christmas magic, The Christmas Hypothesis is a charming story; perfect to read on a magical Christmas Eve snuggled up by the fire.  Heartwarming and delightful, with a sprinkling of magic, The Christmas Hypothesis is the perfect festive read.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Monday 30 December 2019

Tales of Mystery Unexplained - Steph Young

Tales of Mystery Unexplained....What happened to Elisa Lam, found dead in a water tower atop a hotel roof? Who were the two men who came to see her & what was in the mystery box they gave her? Why did the location of her gravestone match the zip code of a Bookstore, miles away?  

Why was a man found in the same spot he disappeared, but 4 years later, with a hole in his head that no surgeons could explain? And what did this have to do with a séance, doppelgangers & the assassination of Abraham Lincoln?  Why did a man write the Fibonacci sequence as a clue & tell a stranger he was “Looking for the Beast,” before he disappeared in the barren plains of a desert?  Plus many more Tales of Mystery Unexplained.  

Steph Young has appeared on national radio shows & podcasts including the UK's The Unexplained, and Coast to Coast Am, talking about many of these mysteries.  

You can also hear some of these Unexplained Mysteries on her podcast on iTunes ‘Tales of Mystery Unexplained.’

What did I think?

With having so many books to read, it's rare that I read a newly received book, however, Tales of Mystery Unexplained sounded so unique that it didn't even have time to gather a single speck of dust on my TBR.  When you read so much fiction, there's nothing better than reading some real life mysteries and Steph Young has chosen some amazing true stories to recount that are indeed stranger than fiction.

As I've often said, I love reading books that have me pausing to google things and boy did I hit google when reading this book!  I think I would have read the book a lot faster if I hadn't kept stopping to google, but in doing so it made reading a completely three dimensional experience.  I not only experienced the fantastic descriptions provided by Steph Young, but I got to see some things with my own eyes thanks to CCTV shared on the internet.

I love how some of the stories had me revelling in the unexplained but simultaneously considering scientific explanations.  It really made me appreciate how complex the human brain is and just like a computer, how badly things can go wrong when it fails.  Although I felt that psychotic break could maybe explain part of what happened in some cases, it certainly doesn't apply to all of them.  

As per the title, what you won't find in this book is explanations for these mysteries.  They are very much open and unexplained cases and this wasn't as unsatisfying as I first expected.  I admit that part of me would have liked a nice explanation to finish off each story but the fact that they remain unexplained is definitely part of the charm of this book.  I did find myself asking questions and thinking outside of the box, almost as if I was part of the investigation team myself.

I was surprised to find that a good proportion of the stories were from the UK, in fact 7 out of 12, with the remainder being American mysteries.  There's also a good spread of time periods with the earliest story dating back to 1621 and the latest being the intriguing case of Elisa Lam in 2013.  I had never heard of this case but I bet that everyone who reads the book will end up googling the CCTV footage from a Los Angeles hotel elevator of the last known movements of Elisa Lam.  

The content is fascinating and well written, although I did find the text a little repetitive at times; this would work well in a podcast to stress important facts but wasn't really needed in print.  The cover of the book also disturbed me a little with the title appearing to be 'Tales of Unexplained Mystery' rather than 'Tales of Mystery Unexplained' as per the spine and title page.  They were just minor annoyances though, and didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book.  

Tales of Mystery Unexplained is a fascinating and brilliantly written collection of true stories that are most definitely stranger than fiction.  I thought it would be a 'dip in and out of' kind of book but I simply couldn't put it down.  I am completely hooked now and have looked up many of the cases on google already and have subscribed to Steph Young's podcast of the same name.  I'm sure I'll be regaling my family and friends with some of these stories that I've added to my brain's interesting and unusual facts collection.  It may be a quick read but it's one that I'll be thinking about and discussing for a very long time to come.  

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Tuesday 24 December 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Sacrificial Man - Ruth Dugdall

What I want to say is that suicide is my choice. No-one else is to blame. Man seeks beautiful woman for the journey of a lifetime: Will you help me to die? 

When Probation Officer Cate Austin is given her new assignment, she faces the highest-profile case of her career. Alice Mariani is charged with assisted suicide and Cate must recommend a sentence. 

Alice insists her story is one of misinterpreted love, forcing those around her to analyse their own lives. Who is to decide what is normal and when does loyalty turn to obsession? 

Investigating the loophole that lies between murder and euthanasia, Cate must now meet the woman who agreed to comply with her lover's final request. Shocking revelations expose bitter truths that can no longer be ignored.

What did I think?

Having been blown away by her debut, The Woman Before Me, it's about time I read another Ruth Dugdall book and what a brilliant one to choose.  The Sacrificial Man held me in its chilling grasp from the very start and refused to release the grip from its icy fingers until I had turned the final page.

I really have to applaud Ruth Dugdall for coming up with such an exceptional and thought-provoking plot.  When David decides to end his life, he posts an advert for a partner in crime; not for someone to actually do the deed but for someone to be there with him at the end.  Alice answers David's advert and the plans begin to form.  My head was like a whirligig with so many questions flying round my head.  Why does David want to die?  Why on earth has he chosen the stomach lurching method he has chosen? And what sort of person is Alice to be willing to take this journey with him?  So many questions which will all be answered as fast as I could possibly read.

It was great to catch up with Probation Officer Cate Austin again.  Cate has been called in to recommend a sentence when Alice is charged with helping David to die, despite him leaving a suicide note.  It's an odd one really as for all intents and purposes Alice was only present at David's death, she didn't help him make the decision or force him to go through with it.  On the surface, I wondered what exactly Alice had done wrong; but this is the whole debate regarding euthanasia which is illegal in the UK but we often hear about people fighting for their right to decide when and how they die.  Surely David was the one at fault but the police can't prosecute a dead man so Alice will have to do.

Of course there are always two sides to every story and Cate Austin tries to find out not only what exactly happened on the night that David died but the motivation behind both participants.  This makes for one hell of a story and I would have read the whole book in one sitting had I not started it at bedtime.

Chilling, gripping and stomach-lurchingly twisted, The Sacrificial Man is an outstanding thriller that I will be thinking about and debating for a long time to come.  If you're looking for something different to read over Christmas, you've just found it!

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Ruth worked as a Probation Officer for almost a decade, working in high security prisons with numerous high- risk criminals. Her writing is heavily influenced by her professional background, providing authenticity and credibility. She currently lives in San Francisco.

Follow Ruth:
Twitter @RuthDugdall
Instagram @Ruth_Dugdall

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Sunday 22 December 2019

Even Stranger (Strange Series Book 2) - Marilyn Messik

With the swinging sixties staggering, shamefaced and flustered, into the slightly staider seventies, life for Stella, isn’t going as smoothly as she’d like. As an ordinary person, who happens to have some extraordinary abilities, it's frustrating to find that something as simple as holding down a job, throws up unexpected hurdles.

She'd be a darn sight better off if she could ditch the conviction she knows best which, together with a  chronic inability to keep her mouth shut and her nose out of other people's business, has led her more than once off the straight and narrow into the dodgy and dangerous.  Plans for a safer future, include setting herself up in business, squashing her over-active conscience and steering clear of risky and unpleasant.

Unfortunately, the best laid plans can lead to the darkest places.

What did I think?

Having read and enjoyed Relatively Strange, the first book in Marilyn Messik's Strange series, I couldn't wait to get stuck into book 2, Even Stranger.  I didn't think it was possible but Even Stranger is Even Better than Relatively Strange.  Reading about Stella as her life progresses through the 1970's is like catching up with an old friend; perhaps there's something strange about these books after all, as I didn't realise how firmly Stella had planted herself into my head.

I love Marilyn Messik's dry humour, which actually starts off as a very wet dunking in a lake for Stella.  It's not laugh out loud funny but it's more of a laughing at the strange events and very quirky family members in Stella's life.  The 70's has turned into a very eventful decade for Stella; not only has she started a new business but her gift is attracting attention from some unsavoury characters.  Stella gets herself into some jaw-dropping scrapes in this instalment of the Strange series that kept my eyes firmly glued to the page.

Not only can Stella fly, but she has the ability to see inside people's heads, which some might see as a gift but to others it's a curse.  As Stella grows older, her ability also grows with her and she can place, and even alter, thoughts in someone's head.  I don't envy Stella at all as I really don't think I would like to be privy to people's thoughts; it's bad enough seeing their dubious actions without actually knowing what they were really thinking.  Although Stella's gift can come in useful at times and when others like her get together, their power is extraordinary.

The Strange series is proving to be quite a unique, thrilling and riveting set of books and I can see myself reading them all over again in the future...or was that thought surreptitiously planted in my head by Stella?  Marilyn Messik has really outdone herself with this outstanding sequel and I'm chomping at the bit to catch up with Stella in book 3.  

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Saturday 21 December 2019

BLOG TOUR: Why She Ran - Geraldine Hogan

Rachel. They must have made a mistake. A mother would know?’ She let her words pour into the emptiness of the kitchen. She began to shiver. ‘I can’t feel anything,’ she said softly and rocked back and forth, as if she was a huge child, seeking solace in the simple gesture.

When young, pretty nurse Rachel McDermott is found murdered in the harsh lights of the hospital kitchen where she works, her mother can’t accept the news, and the small Irish town of Corbally reels in disbelief. Rushing to the scene, Detective Iris Locke vows to find the sick killer, whatever it takes.

The last person to see Rachel alive was her close friend, sixteen-year-old Eleanor Marshall, a troubled teenager, estranged from her family. Eleanor was spotted fleeing the kitchen where Rachel’s body was found and becomes the main suspect. Iris has a search party combing the endless woods near the Comeragh mountains where they believe she is hiding. But Iris is consumed with worry for the vulnerable girl and can’t shake a prickly disquiet that Eleanor shouldn’t be a suspect.

Eleanor’s sister agrees but a day later, when she is found dead in the area Eleanor is hiding, things don’t look good for the runaway teen. Iris can’t see Eleanor, who still sleeps with her childhood teddy bear, as someone who would kill her little sister and her best friend, but all the evidence seems to point that way.

Sleep-deprived and desperate to find the truth, Iris takes a closer look into Rachel’s background and discovers that she was keeping strange, shadowy company the night before she died. Convinced that Eleanor is in terrible danger, Iris sets out to find her, in the icy-cold woods, alone. But what if somebody else makes their way through the darkness and reaches Iris and Eleanor first?

This gripping mystery thriller is perfect for fans of Carol Wyer, Robert Dugoni and LJ Ross.

What did I think?

I am already a huge fan of Geraldine Hogan, just check my author index and you can see that I have read everything that she has written to date as Faith Hogan, so I was super-excited when I found out that she was venturing into the crime fiction genre.  Unfortunately I ended up not reading her first crime novel, My Sister's Bones, due to other reading commitments and missing out on a spot on the blog tour but I was delighted to be invited to take part in the blog tour for book 2, Why She Ran.

Eleanor Marshall has been institutionalised by her rich parents; the rebellious teen has been hidden away and forgotten about whilst her younger sister remains in the impressive and imposing family home.  Neither of them are safe from the killer who is roaming Corbally.  Eleanor escapes from the hospital one night after her nurse, Rachel, is brutally murdered and Eleanor becomes the prime suspect.  Detective Iris Locke and her team are called in to investigate and the hunt for Eleanor kept me on the edge of my seat.

The fantastic Eleanor-hunt story aside, Geraldine Hogan has created a superb cast of characters in Locke and Slattery.  Although I do wish I had read My Sister's Bones first, I gained enough information to not only follow their story through but to want to find out more.  It's not just Locke who has family secrets to reveal as a huge nugget of intrigue has been planted in regards to Slattery's past and I can't wait to see this grow to fruition.

Having loved every page of Why She Ran, I can definitely say that you can read this if you haven't read My Sister's Bones.  What it will do, however, is make you want to rush off and read the first Iris Locke book as soon as you can.  To say my curiosity has been piqued is an understatement; I am desperate to find out more of Iris Locke's story, both past and future.

Two words keep springing to mind when I think of this book: shock and awe (to quote George W. Bush but in a more positive capacity).  The story shocked and surprised me and I am completely in awe of Geraldine Hogan's writing talent.  Why She Ran is a superb, fast-paced, edge of your seat crime thriller; it's a sweaty palms, heart-pounding race against time story that is virtually impossible to put down.  

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

My rating:

Buy it from:
Google Play
Apple Books

About the author:

Geraldine Hogan was born in Ireland. She gained an Honors Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree in Training and Management from University College, Galway. She is an Irish award-winning and bestselling author of four contemporary fiction novels under the pen name Faith Hogan.

HER SISTER'S BONES is her first crime novel, her second WHY SHE RAN is due out in December 2019.

She is currently working on her next novel. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and a very busy Labrador named Penny. She's a writer, reader, enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger - except of course when it is raining!

You can find out more about Geraldine here:

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Friday 20 December 2019

BLOG TOUR: I Dare You - Sam Carrington


Mapledon, 1989

Two little girls were out playing a game of dares. Only one returned home.

The ten-year-old told police what she saw: village loner Bill ‘Creepy’ Cawley dragged her friend into his truck and disappeared.

No body was found, but her testimony sent Cawley to prison for murder. An open and shut case, the right man behind bars.

The village could sleep safe once again.


Anna thought she had left Mapledon and her nightmares behind but a distraught phone call brings her back to face her past.

30 years ago, someone lied. 30 years ago, the man convicted wasn’t the only guilty party.

Now he’s out of prison and looking for revenge. The question is, who will he start with?

What did I think?

What a firecracker of a thriller Sam Carrington his written with her new novel, I Dare You; it's creepy, fast-paced and bursting to the brim with secrets.  The characters are so well developed that I detested some and felt complete empathy for others.  The whole story is so multi-layered it's like peeling an onion with a secret at its core that will bring tears to the eyes of one of the characters.

I got so angry with the characters when I was reading I Dare You because the children of Mapledon are obsessed with playing Knock, Knock, Ginger on the Cawley house.  The children's obsession with the creepy Cawley house reminded me of the spooky Radley Place in To Kill a Mockingbird.  What even makes a house creepy?  Why do children feel drawn to something that scares them so much?  In the case of I Dare You, the children have picked up on the bullying of Bill Cawley by their parents.  There's more than one bad apple in Mapledon and they don't want Bill Cawley in their poisonous village.  The women of the village get together like witches around a cauldron to hatch a plan to get rid of Bill Cawley once and for all.  The lengths they are prepared to go to oust him from their midst is quite shocking and it really ignited my fury at the complete injustice of it all.

The children's game goes badly wrong one day when one little girl doesn't return home and no body is found.  On the 30th anniversary of Jonie Hayes' disappearance, two women return to the village they once called home; Anna returns after a disturbing phone call from her mother that provides the creepy element of the story but journalist Lizzie's return is a little more mysterious as she hides her true identity whilst asking questions about the past, providing an abundance of intrigue and suspense.    I don't want to say anything more about the plot as to do so would spoil the peeling of the onion for other readers.  Suffice to say, Sam Carrington keeps the reader on their toes as each layer unravels to reveal even more deeply buried layers underneath.  

More gripping than a strip of velco, you won't be able to put down I Dare You until all its secrets are revealed.  It's a blistering, suspenseful thriller that got under my skin and made me so furious but I loved every page of it.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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Wednesday 18 December 2019

BLOG TOUR: Who's There? - Kerena Swan

Appearances can be deceptive…

Arnold Eastwood is thrilled when social services allocate him a flat all of his own. Independence hasn’t come easily to a young man with Downs Syndrome but now he has the chance to live free from his mum’s nagging, find a girlfriend, watch endless movies and make new friends.

Meanwhile a London drug gang is setting up a supply line in Arnold’s town. They’re looking for someone to deliver drugs for them and somewhere to set up a base of operations.

Soon Arnold and his flat are in the drug gang’s sights. Drawn into the dark underworld of crack cocaine and modern slavery, Arnold soon discovers that friends can in fact be deadly enemies.

The question is: can he break free?

What did I think?

Who's There? is a book that intrigued me immediately; it's quite a simple idea really, a drug dealer taking advantage of a disabled person, but Kerena Swan has created such multi-dimensional characters who carry the plot along at a rate of knots.

Arnold Eastwood is a brilliant character who I took straight to my heart.  Disability aside, I loved how he was addicted to Clint Eastwood films and saw the world as a much kinder place than it actually is.  It was lovely to look through his trusting eyes for just a second before reality struck and Arnold got trapped in drug dealer Poker's web.  I was so angry at the way Arnold was taken advantage of; I felt like I wanted to reach into the book to rescue Arnold and give Poker a good hiding while I was there (and I'm not a violent person!).

Although it's quite a dark story in relation to drug use and drug gangs, there are a lot of heartwarming and hopeful moments.  I can't forget shop owner Madge who took a chance on Arnold and gave him a job or Chip who tried to help Arnold escape Poker's clutches.  I also found it quite eye-opening regarding Social Services; Arnold was forgotten about when his case worker went on holiday, but rather than feel angry about this I could see how much strain Social Services are under.  It's easy to point the finger in that direction and they often get bad press but Kerena Swan humanises Social Services and reminds us that they're only human after all.

A thought-provoking and highly suspenseful thriller, Who's There? is one of those books that you could easily read in one sitting, if you have the time available.  I was completely invested in Arnold's story and couldn't read fast enough to find out how it would all play out.  Who's There? is a very scarily realistic thriller with a big heart.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Kerena Swan trained as a Social Worker and worked for Social Services for over 25 years. For the past 14 years she has owned and managed an ‘outstanding’ rated agency for children with disabilities. Following serious illnesses she decided to fulfil her long-held ambition of writing a book and getting it published. ‘Dying to See You’, published by Bloodhound Books, was her debut novel.

After many years of writing professionally in the course of her work, Kerena has discovered the exhilaration and deep joy of writing fiction and can be found at all hours in front of her computer. Her second novel ‘Scared to Breathe’ is now available and her third book, ‘Who’s There?’ will be released on December 13th 2019.

Kerena lives with her family in a small village in Bedfordshire, UK and her books are set in the surrounding areas.

Drawing on her extensive knowledge and experience of the problematic world of social work and social studies, Kerena adds a unique angle to the domestic noir and crime genre.

If you would like to hear more about new releases, read Kerena’s blogs and download a free short-story – the prequel to Dying to See You – then visit www.kerenaswan.co.uk and join her mailing list.

Facebook – Facebook.com/kerenaswan
Twitter- @kerenaswan
Instagram – kerenaswan

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Saturday 14 December 2019

BLOG TOUR: Shadow - James Swallow

From the Sunday Times bestselling author of NOMAD and EXILE, things are about to go viral for Marc Dane in his most dangerous adventure yet . . .

Marc Dane is Britain’s answer to Jason Bourne, and it is about to go viral in his most thrilling and dangerous adventure yet. . .

Marc and his partner - former US Delta Force sniper Lucy Keyes - are pitted against their most terrifying challenge yet, when a genius bio-researcher with the ability to create a deadly biological weapon is kidnapped by a ruthless terrorist. 

Their desperate search for the missing scientist takes them across the world, from the desolate wilderness of Iceland to the slums of the Near East and the dark underbelly of a fracturing Europe, where they will discover a shocking atrocity in the making. 

Backed by shadowy interests, a cadre of hardline ultra-right-wing extremists plan to unleash a lethal virus among the population of a major European city. 

Only Marc Dane can prevent this devastating attack from taking place - before a whole continent is plunged into terror...

What did I think?

I have wanted to read a James Swallow book for a while and as much as I don't like to jump into the middle of series, I decided to start with Shadow, which is book 4 of the Marc Dane series.  I can say with conviction that you can most definitely read Shadow as a standalone thriller but I'm even more eager to read the previous books now as there is such an amazing dynamic between the main characters, Marc and Lucy.

Marc Dane is a former MI6 data guy who has been thrust into the action, and there isn't half some action in Shadow as a worldwide hunt begins to stop a deadly bioweapon from releasing a killer virus.  I found the idea of a bioprinter that can create deadly viruses at the touch of a button very scary indeed and would like to think it's science fiction but a quick google tells me otherwise.  It's amazing to think that bioprinting could be used for transplants in the future but as with anything that is created to benefit people there is always the risk that someone will manipulate it for their own ends.  A theoretical Dr Evil could hold the whole world to ransom; thanks for the nightmares, James Swallow!

There is an awful lot going on in Shadow and I got myself a bit mixed up at times over who was who, but I couldn't stop reading as I needed to find out what was going to happen next.  I loved the character of Marc Dane, especially as he can quote the original Star Wars trilogy from memory, and I thought of him as a kind of geeky James Bond.  The geek in me also loved that Star Wars was mentioned on page 77 as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was released in 1977.  I love little details, or coincidences, like this.

Shadow is a full-throttle, high-octane, action-packed thriller; I am now chomping at the bit to read more Marc Dane and Lucy Keyes books.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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Thursday 12 December 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Red Book - Davide Cortellucci


Martin’s life as he knows it has turned upside-down, and he decides to embark on a trip to give sense to his existence. Via coincidences and fabricated non-coincidences, he finds a group of people that helps him enhance the power of his thoughts to modify the physical world around him.

In a journey within a journey, Martin discovers the powers of visualisation and its pull.  And he acknowledges why he’s flooded by negative feelings when he’s close to certain people.


Unless Martin finds the strength within himself to fight, he and everyone around him will cease to exist.

What did I think?

I have always said that I read anything except sci-fi but I was intrigued by the synopsis of The Red Book, which is officially in the science fiction genre.  I have to change that statement now as I rather enjoyed The Red Book and, it being the first in a trilogy, I'm looking forward to reading more.  The Red Book concludes very nicely though, as there's no cliffhanger ending which often leaves me unsatisfied until the next book comes along.

The main character is a young man from London called Martin Cloud who is given a red book by Professor Conti, one of his customers in the coffee shop where he works.  After a devastating event, Martin decides to go travelling and takes the red book with him.  When he begins his journey his eye catches a girl at the station and he glimpses her several times during his journey.  I love this twist of fate;  how two unrelated people take the same journey and run into each other several times.  On his travels he meets an American named Chuck and he finally catches up with Maria, the girl that fate has chosen for him.

Unbeknown to him, or perhaps more unacknowledged by him, Martin has a gift of visualisation and can turn his thoughts into reality.  He is drawn to a similar group of people led by Caesar, who reminded me of a cross between Yoda and Professor X, where he is taught to control his gift.  Martin has to undergo some rigorous training as a group of Sinisters are intent on destroying Caesar's group and a fight between good and evil must begin.

The Red Book is a very well written book, especially considering that English is not Davide Cortellucci's first language.  There are a few hints that this is so, coincidentally with 'a few' being one of them as Davide uses 'few' instead.  This isn't a criticism at all, more of a quirk, and for it to be the only one I noticed is remarkable.

I loved reading about how we are affected by our thoughts and how people can get inside our head and change our mood, although this was in a sci-fi setting you can easily relate this to things that happen in real life.  The Red Book is a really good introduction to the sci-fi genre for me, I think more so because I consider Star Wars and X-Men among my favourite films.  With the visualisation reminding me of Yoda and the gifted group fighting evil reminiscent of the X-Men, this book really was more my kind of thing than I expected.

Real life challenges mixed with super-human powers make The Red Book an action packed thrill a minute.  Real life makes it sad at times but where there is negative there is positive so it is also hopeful; ultimately, The Red Book is extremely thought-provoking.  Thanks to Davide Cortellucci's The Red Book, the sci-fi genre can consider my head officially turned.

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

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Davide Cortellucci is a writer and the author of The Red Book. He has spent the last few years working on an unnamed trilogy, friendly referred by him as Little Yellow Rubber Duck. The Red Book is the first book in the trilogy. He was born on the 25th of July 1978 in Belgium, to Italian immigrant parents. He grew up in Belgium, Italy, and in London, UK. Davide has done several jobs, from waiter to inventories, from sound engineering in shows to events manager, and many more. Davide is a college dropout with a couple of creative writing courses on his back. He has spent many years travelling around Europe, learning about cultures, and keeping an interest in the power of the mind. Davide loves writing stories that awaken the epic feeling within the reader. He now lives in South East London with his partner, he's curious about life, and he also makes a great pasta sauce.

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Wednesday 11 December 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Fathers, the Sons and the Anxious Ghost - Jamie Adams

It's a slight digression from crime fiction on this damppebbles Blog Tour today with my review of The Fathers, The Sons and the Anxious Ghost by Jamie Adams.  

Three guys in their thirties have something in common. Their children all go to the same school. One day a tragic event leads to them having to deal with a lurking aftermath which draws them into each other's lives and causes them to rethink their attitudes to just about everything. The children tell the second part of this story, ten years after the initial events. The dust seems to have settled until one of them uncovers information that throws everything back into chaos. The third part… well that will have to wait.

What did I think?

It was a nice change to read a novella with The Fathers, the Sons and the Anxious Ghost being only 90 pages long and taking around 1 hour to read.  Don't mistake it for a shallow light read though as Jamie Adams has packed a lot of story into these few pages, so it's very much a case of quality over quantity.  

It took me a little while to get used to the lack of contractions in the book, for example using 'I am' instead of 'I'm'.  I found it a bit odd, especially in speech, but I soon got used to it and attributed it to a little quirk of the book.  The book is written in 3 parts; I'm sure you'll be able to guess the parts from the title of the book.  They are all linked and come together very nicely at the end, leaving me with a little lump in my throat.

I felt there were some very strong messages in this book regarding mental health and bullying but I did have to give myself a virtual smack for jumping to conclusions.  I've always said that there are two sides to every story but for some reason I saw one side of the story in The Fathers, the Sons and the Anxious Ghost and pinned my colours to that mast.  Thank you Jamie Adams for reminding me that not everything is as it may first appear.

A little book with a big message, The Fathers, the Sons and the Anxious Ghost is a very thought-provoking book that I really enjoyed.

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

My rating:

Buy it from:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

About the author:

Jamie is a teacher who has studied a geography degree back in the nineties because of his love of nature and the outdoors. He found environmental education especially important and soon became a teacher for the primary-age group. Jamie enjoys reading and watching all kinds of theatre productions, from high dramas to lively musicals. His love of writing shines through in everything he does.

After writing a group of short stories linked to romance, which he published as ‘Short Dates’ independently, he decided to write a novella centred around topical issues such as mental health, parenting and relationships.

Social Media:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JamieAdStories Website: http://jamieadstories.com/

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