BLOG TOUR: ‘Come Back for Me’ by Heidi Perks

With thanks to Rachel Kennedy for organising the tour; the publishers at Arrow Publishing/Penguin Random House and to Heidi Perks for the fabulous thriller read.

A shocking discovery. An island wrapped in secrets. You can bury the body, but the truth will always surface…

BOOK BLURB

A tiny island community is stunned by the discovery of a long-buried body. For Stella Harvey, the news is doubly shocking, as the body is found in the garden of her childhood home. The home her family fled without explanation twenty-five years ago.

Now, questioning her past and desperate to unearth the truth, Stella returns to the Dorset island. But she quickly finds that the community she left isn’t as welcoming as she remembers – and that people in it will go to any length to protect their secrets. But one thing rings true…

You can’t bury the truth forever.

THE AUTHOR

Heidi Perks

Heidi Perks’ debut novel ‘Now You See Her’ twice reached the Sunday Times bestseller list, first in hardback in July 2018 at no.9 and again at no.6 in paperback in March 2019 where it was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick for Spring 2019. ‘Now You See Her’ has sold over 120,000 copies across formats to date and has received a staggering 200 five star reviews on Amazon from readers. It has also been optioned for TV from the production company behind BBC One’s ‘The Miniaturist’ and Channel 4’s ‘National Treasure’.

Heidi Perks worked as a marketing director for a financial company before leaving to become a full-time mum and writer. She is a graduate of the inaugural Curtis Brown Creative Online Novel Writing Course (the only creative writing school run by a literary agency). Follow Heidi on Twitter @HeidiPerksBooks and join in the conversation with #COMEBACKFORME

MY REVIEW OF ‘COME BACK FOR ME’

My first book by Heidi Perks and I was hooked from the start. I love a good mystery and the gripping opening scene had so many questions popping into my head. Our MC is Stella, who grew up on the island of Evergreen, a tiny island and intricate community, but dramatically left during a ferocious and fearsome storm when she was eleven years old with her parents, elder brother and sister. What an opening hook!

Stella grew up to be a relationship/family councillor, but she always remembers the mysterious and dramatic departure from her home and has grown up with so many unanswered questions about why they had to leave. Shortly after the book begins, a news station reports a body has been found on Evergreen – it turns out it’s in the garden of Stella’s old family home. Stella begins a quest to find out the truth of what happened; she has to know why her family had to leave so suddenly and dramatically. The narrative switches back and forth from past to present as we try to work out what happened, and whose body has been discovered. I enjoyed the slow reveal of events on the island and what led to the ensuing tragedy and why. A great puzzle of a read!


I was hooked and loved joining Stella on her journey – there’s a great and varied selection of characters to meet and a suspenseful underscore pinning the narrative as Stella returns to the Island, albeit far from welcome. There’s an array of island folk, some more likeable than others. I loved the watchful menace of some and the controlled dialogues of others; all these aspects building the suspense and added to our challenges of finding the truth. There’s also some emotional character pulls that I enjoyed which added some lovely depth to the overall character arc for Stella.

The setting is fabulous – you can’t beat an isolated island location, particularly dramatic and atmospheric when the weather changes and the storm comes in. This is certainly a crucible of a place that has been slowly simmering for a long while. Superb thriller devices take you on a puzzle of a journey with Stella, as gradually the past unfolds and we watch its effect on the present.

I’m not that sure about the ending working completely for me; this is minor and I’ll say no more and let readers’ decide for themselves but it didn’t have quite enough developed character motivations in place for me – but all reading is subjective, so it’s just my personal opinion. I had a few chats in the past with authors about the challenge of writing the ending of their novels; such a difficult task to please everyone! This makes the book fabulous for a book group. Don’t let that stop you picking up this book; it’s a really minor personal opinion. Reading this book is 100% worth it and you’ll have a great time!

Definitely a strongly recommended read despite my slightly mixed feelings about the ending. An atmospheric, truth-seeking thriller read set within an isolated community of watchful eyes.

I’m off to read ‘Now You See Her’ and Heidi Perks is definitely on my must-read author list. Happy Days!

Check out all these other fabulous Book Bloggers on the tour #TEAMHEIDI
LINK BELOW TO AMAZON AND A FREE EXTRACT

Other books by Heidi Perks

Charlotte is looking after her best friend’s daughter the day she disappears. She thought the little girl was playing with her own children. She swears she only took her eyes off them for a second.
Now, Charlotte must do the unthinkable: tell her best friend Harriet that her only child is missing. The child she was meant to be watching.
Devastated, Harriet can no longer bear to see Charlotte. No one could expect her to trust her friend again.
Only now she needs to. Because two weeks later Harriet and Charlotte are both being questioned separately by the police. And secrets are about to surface.
Someone is hiding the truth.
So what really happened to Alice?

June Reading Wrap Up

Seriously how did June disappear so quickly? Saying that, it could have been because I spent a lot of it stuck between the pages of my books.

I definitely need to get out and about in July… possibly.

Overall, 19 books read this month and as always here’s my speedy thoughts on this month’s bunch…

The ‘Air Awakens’ series – really enjoyed the first three books, and then it dragged for me. Overall though, a creative, fun fantasy YA series. 4 YA stars.

‘One Last Greek Summer’ – I read this with the Pigeonhole community and it was a light, summery group read. 3.5/4 stars.

‘Stoker’s Wilde’ – a review read via Netgalley and surprisingly fun. Mixing literary characters of Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker into a Gothic mystery. 4 stars

‘The Peculiar Charm of Miss Jane Austen’ – a Netgalley review read, and it didn’t overly work for me, some fun elements and ideas. I believe this is going to be a time-travelling series. 3 stars.

‘The Art of Dying’ – I enjoyed this murder mystery sequel novel set in 1850s Edinburgh, full review previously on the blog. 4.5 stars.

‘Death and the Harlot’ – loved this fun crime read set in 1759 London whose MC is a prostitute named Lizzie Hardwick (full review on this book and the art of a good-story on my blog feed) 5 stars for pure entertainment and historical detail.

‘The Corpse Played Dead’ – the second Lizzie Hardwick novel and another really fun read! Bring on some more! Rounding up to 5 stars for pure enjoyment grading.

‘The Misfit Tribe and the Secret of Mystery Island’ – read this for a blog tour and sadly it didn’t work as it was too similar to ‘The Goonies’. A sad 2 stars.

‘The Sorcery of Thorns’ – enjoyable, creative and magical YA read. Just tipping into 4 stars on my YA scale.

‘Truthwitch’ – another magical action fantasy read, and the first in a series; fun! 4 YA stars.

‘Blood Orange’ – I’m still thinking about what went wrong for me with this one. I think my expectation was high, from other reviews but it didn’t all come together for me. Weird ending and lots of unlikeable characters with little to balance them. 3 stars.

‘We Hunt the Flame’ – really enjoyed this, loved the evocative language and the central characters, great YA magical fantasy read. 4 YA stars.

‘The Missing Years – full review on blog as part of a June Blog tour celebrating the publication of this thriller, mystery. Really enjoyed it. Lacked pace of some novels, but I enjoyed taking my time reading it. 4.5 stars.

‘The French Girl’ – again not a pacey read from Lexie Elliott but entertaining, nicely plotted and created. Tipped into 4 stars.

‘Wicked Saints’ – despite it waning for me in the middle, I enjoyed this debut YA novel – bloody, gothic dark fairy-tale with themes of deception, desire, greed, lies, religion and the exploration of monstrosity. Some great character complexity and subversion, which redeemed it for me. Just tipping into 4 YA stars.

‘Black Water’ by Cormac O’Keeffe

To exit gangland…there’s a price to be paid

THE BLURB

I killed the boy…

Jig loves football and his dog, hates school, misses his granda and knows to lie low when his ma’s blitzed on the vodka and tablets.

He’s just an ordinary boy on the mean streets alongside Dublin’s Grand Canal. Streets that are ruled by Ghost and his crew. And now Ghost- inked, vicious, unprincipled- has a job for Jig.

A job that no one can afford to go wrong- not the gangs, the police, the locals, and least of all not Jig.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cormac O’Keeffe is the Irish Examiner’s award-winning security correspondent; his work has given him unique access to contacts in the police and the community. He lives near Dublin’s Grand Canal, and his professional and personal lives imbue ‘Black Water’ with the authenticity, intensity and originality of personal experience. Cormac blogs about his writing, is a respected book reviewer and appears frequently on national radio and television.

REVIEW

This is a novel set in the reality of Dublin’s crime culture, it’s harsh, gritty and ultimately a despondent read; the harshness and reality continues to its closure. This is not a rosy read in any sense of the word, and it’s violent and dark at its core. Drugs, gangs and their culture of violence is at the heart of the story and the writer manages to make it convincingly real, because despite this being fiction, it’s clearly based on the real world and events.
The story centres around a young boy named Jig, who dreams of football fame. His story develops into gang initiation, desires, manipulation and lies. It’s a dark tale; although there’s light in the brave desire to fight gang culture with the character of local police officer Tara Crowe.
It’s not an easy read, from the gang culture, uncontrolled teenagers, drugs, manipulation, abuse, neglect, religious weakness and a young boy caught up in a hopeless situation.
This is certainly not a light read, it’s hard going at times. I had to take a few deep breaths; but it’s an important read and one that opens awareness of the darker side of Dublin life. Phew, not optimistic and defies the answer to an embedded problem.
Well researched and written. I won’t say enjoyable but it’s engaging and eye-opening piece of fiction.

Published by Black & White Publishing – @bwpublishing

GENRE: Crime Fiction

‘The Art of Dying’ by Ambrose Parry

‘The Art of Dying’ is the second book by Ambrose Parry (the pseudonym for a writing duo) that follows Will Raven, now a fully fledged doctor and his rather intense, dramatic and volatile day to day life! It’s never dull and, as in the first book, Will is battling with the darkness that keeps invading his life.

I enjoyed the first book ‘The Way of All Flesh’ so was really looking forward to reading this one, and there’re no disappointments. This is another detailed historical novel, set in 1850s Edinburgh, that draws in real advances and thoughts in medical procedures of the day and the use of chloroform on patients.

Since the events at the end of the first book, Will has been travelling, advancing his medical knowledge and training. Dramatic events lead to his return to Edinburgh and he’s back working with Dr Simpson, a character based on the real life Dr James Young Simpson; professor of Midwifery at Edinburgh University.

Will also yearns to see Sarah again, a woman he regrets leaving and he’s not at all content with his reasons for leaving her. However, their reunion is not the one he expected and there are more ups and downs to come.

At the heart of this book is a serial killer, and their voice becomes part of the narrative as well. I was really engrossed in the psychology of this aspect. I loved that the villain of the story is also based on an actual 19th century mass-murderer.

I loved the merging parts of the story-telling and the build up to a dramatic climax.

I devoured this book in one sitting; I couldn’t turn the pages quickly enough! Loved the setting, the characters, the historical detail, the plotting of the crimes and the excitement of the ending.

Better than the first book! Can’t wait for the next! Will be definitely buying myself a hardback copy on publication day.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for this advanced review copy.

‘The Raven Cycle’ by Maggie Stiefvater.

I recently binge read all the books in ‘The Raven Cycle’ by Maggie Stiefvater. For those who are not familiar; it’s a YA series published by Scholastic and has been around for a while, the first book ‘The Raven Boys’ was published back in 2012, and I had a copy of this on my YA bookcase for ages, but with the usual demanding and never-ending TBR list – it’d been neglected.

My daughter has taken a great interest in reading recently and we’re looking for books we can both read and talk about together; the YA section seemed a great way to meet and talk stories! So, I started ‘The Raven Boys’ and enjoyed it; I tend to keep going if it’s a series book – and there’s definitely a need to do this with Stiefvater’s series, as the story and mystery is plotted across all four books. So, the opening line: ‘Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would kill her true love.’ is finally resolved at the end of the fourth book, ‘The Raven King’.

I hadn’t really paid any attention to what this book was about, so it was a nice surprise to find out it had a supernatural theme. ‘The Raven Boys’ begins with Blue Sargent sitting on St Mark’s Eve, as she usually does each year with her clairvoyant mother, as the soon-to-be-dead walk past. This year is different in more than one way, and one of those ways is that Blue sees a boy who she is able to speak to. This is the first time Blue has been able to see the physical manifestation of a spirit; she is usually more of an amplifier. This leads us to Gansey, who’s a rich boy from the local private school, Aglionby. Boys at this school are called the Raven Boys, and Blue usually keeps clear of them, as they’re known as trouble. However, this odd meeting with Gansey’s spirit is a puzzle to her and she soon becomes drawn to both Gansey and the other Raven Boys in his group.

These books work as a quest, Blue, Gansey and three more Aglionby boys: Adam, a scholarship student; Ronan, pugnacious and emotional; and Noah, the quiet watcher, all become caught up in Gansey’s quest to follow the ley lines and find Glendower, the lost Welsh King. Blue’s problem is that she’s always been warned that she will kill her true love; she’s partly ignored this, but the more time spent in the company of the Raven Boys, the more worried she becomes.

I think this is overall a great YA series: rounded characters; mysterious supernatural escalating events; brotherhood, first loves, family, heartaches, and the odd villain or two to keep building the tension. A well-written supernatural, magical fantasy drama.

Recommended YA series.

BLOG TOUR ‘The Missing Years’ by Lexie Elliott

With thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part on this blog tour and to the publishers, Corvus, for kindly sending me a copy of the book. Finally, and most importantly to the author, Lexie Elliott for writing it.

An eerie, old Scottish manor in the middle of nowhere that’s now hers

BOOK BLURB

Ailsa Calder has inherited half of a house. The other half belongs to a man who disappeared without a trace twenty-seven years ago. Her father.

Leaving London behind to settle the inheritance from her mother’s estate, Ailsa returns to her childhood home, nestled amongst the craggy peaks of the Scottish Highlands, joined by the half-sister who’s almost a stranger to her.

Ailsa can’t escape the claustrophobic feeling that the house itself is watching her—as if her past hungers to consume her. She also can’t ignore how the neighbourhood animals refuse to set one foot within the gates of the garden.

When the first night-time intruder shows up, Ailsa fears that the manor’s careless rugged beauty could cost her everything…

THE AUTHOR

Lexie Elliott grew up in Scotland, at the foot of the Highlands. She graduated from Oxford University, where she obtained a doctorate in theoretical physics. She now works in fund management in London, where she lives with her husband and two sons. She is also a keen sportswoman. Her first novel, ‘The French Girl’, was published in 2018. Find out more: http://www.lexieelliott.com

MY REVIEW

Ever since falling in love with the character of Du Maurier’s iconic Manderley many years ago now, I’ve always enjoyed an atmospheric mystery hook that uses the personification of an imposing gothic building. We get a similar impression at the start of ‘The Missing Years’, where the arrival at this eerie, foreboding house sends chills out from the pages. There’s also the added bonus of one of my favourite locations, the sublime Scotland with its wild landscape (although I’d have loved more descriptions of the landscape, but a minor quibble) and then there’s the added use of pathetic fallacy to develop the atmosphere of menace further…so, I was off to a happy start.

‘The Manse’ is the house so creepily described, and it’s a ‘waiting’ Scottish manor in the middle of nowhere; our MC, Ailsa Calder, has inherited half of the building. Half, yep…the other half belongs to her father and the problem there, is that he went missing twenty-seven years ago. The second problem is she is unable to sell it.

Instantly, Ailsa has the impression that the house is watching her and it’s not a welcoming vibe! We’re soon into lost childhood memories and nerve jumping cracks as a branch suddenly snaps of an oak tree with hidden rot at its core; we soon question what is rotting at the heart of this house. The discordant scene is set and we’re ready to find out what this is all about; it did remind me of the start of some creepy supernatural horror film, particularly with its gothic undertones.

After an unwelcome night-time visitor, more mysterious events continue; Ailsa becomes increasingly unsettled in the house. The local community is also watching her, and some are more welcoming than others. Events take an even more sinister turn when human remains are discovered in the house and Ailsa begins to question her own senses. The events of the past start to catch up with speed and who to trust becomes the unsettling and overriding fear; who means her harm and who can she trust?

‘The Missing Years’ for me, is, at its heart, a book about the past and its effects on future lives. There’s also the intriguing mystery of what happened to Ailsa’s father many years ago, and the entrance of a ‘Christie’ collection of supporting characters gathered in the local village pub, where the thriller begins in earnest. I liked the eclectic mix of personalities and Elliott is successful in slowly isolating Ailsa from each one at different points as the story builds. Now pace, I think this is where there may be division; this book has a steady pace all the way through – for me, I was happy with this. I read it on a Sunday afternoon and into the evening and enjoyed the rolling pace up until the climax – which again is not overly pacey, but I don’t think it needed to be. For me, this helped it stay in the realms of the believable, by not going into the ‘too far-fetched’ category that I’ve seen on several occasions, which often only serves to alienate the reader. When you have a supernatural element to your story, I think you need to keep your action and characters more grounded, and this is what Elliott does well.

Overall, it’s a strong yes from me; this book will be staying on my bookshelf. A solidly well-written, entertaining supernatural mystery thriller. Creepy, tense and memorable.

REMEMBER BUY FROM YOUR LOCAL INDEPENDENT BOOK SHOP IF YOU CAN 🙂

OTHER BOOKS BY LEXIE ELLIOTT

the french girl pb.jpg

They were six university students from Oxford–friends and sometimes more than friends–spending an idyllic week together in a French farmhouse. It was supposed to be the perfect summer getaway . . . until they met Severine, the girl next door.

For Kate Channing, Severine was an unwelcome presence, her inscrutable beauty undermining the close-knit group’s loyalties amid the already simmering tensions. And after a huge altercation on the last night of the holiday, Kate knew nothing would ever be the same. There are some things you can’t forgive. And there are some people you can’t forget . . . like Severine, who was never seen again.

Now, a decade later, the case is reopened when Severine’s body is found in the well behind the farmhouse. Questioned along with her friends, Kate stands to lose everything she’s worked so hard to achieve as suspicion mounts around her. Desperate to resolve her own shifting memories and fearful she will be forever bound to the woman whose presence still haunts her, Kate finds herself buried under layers of deception with no one to set her free . . .

Check out all the other fabulous blogs on the tour!

‘Death and the Harlot’ and ‘The Corpse Played Dead’ by Georgina Clarke and the enjoyment of a good story.

I love stories, always have. I remember though for a time after university I couldn’t read for pleasure; we had, what felt like to me, been brainwashed into forcing a perspective onto everything we read, a Marxist interpretation, a feminist, a post-structuralist, a deconstructionist, a psychoanalytical… and it was so tiring! Of course, there’s a place for interpretation and analysis but my brain struggled to switch off when I sat down to read. A few years after leaving Uni, I began to read to just enjoy being told a story again, as a way of leaving ‘reality’ for a while; it was once again my haven, my escape, and I found the love again for stories and the uncomplicated art of just… well just storytelling. It’s also relevant to add at this point the criticism from some people when I read young adult fiction (I am in my forties) – and I basically say to that “so what?”, if it’s a good story, I’m in!

So back to my point and the title of this blog: ‘Death and the Harlot’ and ‘The Corpse Played Dead’ and the enjoyment of a good story.

What Georgina Clarke is good at is being a storyteller and at the heart of that is creating an engaging character and giving them a believable world to live in. Clarke’s creation is Lizzie Hardwicke and she’s a prostitute. Yep… had me intrigued. Then, I was really lucky and won a copy of the book on Twitter in a publisher giveaway on Maundy Thursday. Thank you so much Canelo, I did a happy dance that day!

I love Lizzie Hardwicke and I love Clarke’s 18th century London. I loved sitting down and escaping for a few hours into these stories. Lots of love! I’ve always enjoyed historical novels set in 18th & 19th century England, but this one differs as it centres on a prostitute who is really good at solving crimes. The series also starts off with a cracking narrative hook:

‘There are a few sights more ridiculous than a fat old man naked from the waist down.’

A good writer takes me into the story with ease, and I emerge a few hours later having ‘travelled’ without really realising I am sitting in a chair, or lying on my bed. Both of Clarke’s books had this effect.

‘Death and the Harlot’ is the first in the series. Lizzie Hardwicke is our undeniably controversial heroine and I thinks she’s fabulous. A woman who has endured and continues to endure awful times but has the strength to make the most of what she needs to become and to take control of it the best she can. I love this depth to the character and the more you get to know Lizzie the more likeable and rounded she becomes, she’s definitely a feminist hero despite her profession and perhaps also because of it.

So, the story is told through Lizzie’s eyes, she’s engaging, warm, hilarious, intelligent and mentally incredibly strong. It’s not long into the book when one of her ‘customers’ is found murdered and she was the last person to have been with him. This brings her to the attention of Constable William Davenport who becomes an important figure in the series. Will Davenport is a great mix with Lizzie and soon they are both trying to puzzle who the killer is; this draws them together throughout the book and eventually into a working relationship, and finally a personal understanding. These two are great!

Clarke’s London of 1759 is well researched and executed; there’s no holding back of the unsavoury aspects of life and its hardships during this period. From life inside Ma Farley’s upmarket brothel, the seedy back streets and taverns to the churchyards and Mr Fielding’s Bow Street, the writing is immersive and imaginative. In case you are unaware, Sir John Fielding was a real person who founded the ‘Bow Street Runners’ who began England’s police force. Obviously, there’s dramatic licence but it’s great to see a wealth of historical research as the backbone to the storytelling, and it certainly pays off.

The second book in the series I sadly had to read on my kindle after being granted a review copy from Netgalley. I say ‘sadly’ only because I’ve been finding that I’m not enjoying kindle reading, and this has been reflecting negatively on the books I read. I also love taking pictures of books (don’t judge me, I could be a train spotter – lol). I find my eyes cross a lot when reading on a kindle (you can laugh at the image) anyone else find that? I see double for ages after? Not great if I have to drive. Also, nothing beats holding an actual book in your hands and seeing it on your bookshelf. I am a book sniffer too! Anyway, enough confessions and digression, back to the point of this blog post…

‘The Corpse Played Dead’ called to me as it’s predominantly played out in the theatre. It was great to read this straight after ‘Death and the Harlot’, I didn’t need to recap and was very happy to join Lizzie and Will straight away on another case. This book is centred on a gruesome murder in London’s Drury Lane theatre run by Mr Garrick. I trained and worked in Repertory theatre for many years so loved the depiction of backstage life as Lizzie finds herself undercover helping Fielding and Davenport once more. There’s a terrific gathering of characters under suspicion, and the presentation of life backstage during this period is well depicted. As with the first book, I found it fairly easy to guess the culprit, but it by no means stops the enjoyment of reading these books. These are character driven books and the second book allows us more information about Lizzie and her situation and I love the development of her ‘relationship’ with Davenport ~ really looking forward to seeing where else it leads as the series progresses. I do hope there are many more Lizzie Hardwicke adventures to come! I’ll certainly be ready and waiting to read them.

Entertaining, witty historical crime reads for people seeking well-plotted stories with creatively put together characters, some emotional moments, dangerous criminals and an investigating prostitute at the helm! All in all, good storytelling! Loved them and finally huge thanks to Georgina Clarke for creating these stories. Keep writing!

MAY READING WRAP UP

A busy month for helping my daughter with her GCSE examinations, so I read less than I usually would… unless you count the biology, history and poetry clusters etc, etc, etc we’ve been buried in. All exams finish on June 14th and thank goodness for that. My daughter has always struggled with school and it’ll be a relief to give her a fresh start. It’s also great news that she’s developed an interest in reading more – she’s already practically devoured ‘The Infernal Devices’ trilogy and, as I have, developed a literary crush on Will Herondale – lol. She’s looking to read more Shadowhunter books, and looks set to pick up ‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’ next. She’s always been more of a non-fiction reader, but since reading, and loving, ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ she’s fallen back in love with the fictional world. Happy Days! We’ve also decided to start up a book club together 🙂

So, my May reads – I’ve been listening to a lot of audio books this month as a back-drop at work and for the mundane household chores, I’ve listened to: Naomi Novik’s ‘Uprooted’, Jane Casey’s ‘Cruel Acts’, Tricia Levenseller’s ‘Daughter of the Pirate King’ and ‘Daughter of the Siren Queen’ and ‘Warrior of the Wild’ and Mindee Arnett’s ‘Onyx and Ivory’. As with all audio-books, I’ve already read the novels, I don’t have the listening skills for new reads on audio and much prefer to just listen to previous books I’ve enjoyed or need to re-cap as the sequels are due soon. A lot of YA reads this month, as they’re basically just fun, easy to listen to reads. And I love a good story.

So a quick overview of the books for May…

‘The Anarchists’ Club’ by Alex Reeve – this is the second book featuring Leo Stanhope and I read it with the Pigeonhole community. I enjoyed this, great setting, engaging characters and good plotting. 4 stars.

‘Night by Night’ by Jack Jordan – my first Jack Jordan book and to be honest I found it too far-fetched for my liking, and one scene in particular was way over the top, even using my suspension of disbelief! Just 3 stars…just.

‘Just One Damned Thing After Another’ by Jodi Taylor – this was recommended to me by a fellow book-lover on Instagram and I had a great time reading it. Fantasy, humour, super cast of eclectic characters and an intense…phew (pass the fan) romance. It’s a series and I’ll be reading the second book soon. 4 stars.

‘The Never Game’ by Jeffery Deaver – I read this with the Pigeonhole Community and really enjoyed it. There’s a full review already on my blog. 4 stars.

‘The Manhattan Project’ by Paul McNeive – this was sent to me by the publishers to review and I liked it, a little slow in pace but sped up just in time to keep my interest. 4 stars.

‘Finale’ by Stephanie Garber – the long awaited YA book in the Caraval trilogy. These are fun fantasy reads, rich in creative language and characters. Great end to the series. 4.3 YA stars.

‘To Best the Boys’ by Mary Webster – this was sent in a mystery Fairyloot box and was a good fantasy YA read, very short; it only took me about two hours to read it, so could definitely be developed more to make it a stronger book. 3.8 YA stars.

‘The Raven Boys’ by Maggie Stiefvater – YA fantasy book, and the start of ‘The Raven Cycle’ series. Enjoyable and engaging – there’s going to be a post on the series this month. 4 YA stars.

‘The Dream Thieves’ by Maggie Stiefvater – YA read and the second in the ‘Raven Cycle’ – enjoyed! Post on series to follow. 4 YA stars.

‘Blue Lily, Lily Blue’ by Maggie Stiefvater – the third YA book in the ‘Raven Cycle’ series and a great development. Post on series to follow. 4 YA stars.

‘Stone Cold Heart’ by Caz Frear

I started reading this and then realised it was book two in the D.C. Cat Kinsella series. So, I stopped and downloaded the first book on my Kindle; I quickly read it and I am glad I did. There are important threads and character developments that were enriched greatly by knowing the first book.
So, ‘Stone Cold Heart’ is not a pacey crime book as such, but I was quite happy plodding along with Cat’s day to day world. There’s some really good plotting and the troubles with Cat’s family is nicely interjected as she works her investigations. I also like Cat’s professional team; the family guy ‘Luigi’ and her boss DCI Kate Steele are both great characters.
This crime centres around the murder of a young woman, Naomi Lockhart who has recently come over from Australia to work. Her employer is interviewed, and this draws the investigation into the family and friends and it spirals from there. We join Cat and the team as they try to decipher the truths and the lies – this certainly becomes a complex problem and there’s a lot of conflicting reports and a ‘he said’, ‘she said’ battle to work out the truth.
An enjoyable crime novel, with some clever twists and an added dimension of a police officer with worrisome links to criminals; her fear of discovery creates a suspenseful underscore to the overall murder investigation.

I enjoyed this book and will certainly look out for book 3. An engaging, intricately plotted believable crime book.

Many thanks for the review copy Zaffre Books and Netgalley.

Published June 27th 2019.

‘The Manhattan Project’ by Paul McNeive

‘New York City is under attack’

“New York is under attack. Millions may die. But the enemy’s weapons are invisible, undetectable and creating terror at lightning speed.

An NYPD cop, John Wyse, finds himself pitted against a Hiroshima survivor turned criminal mastermind determined to avenge the deaths of his family, and all who died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It’s a race against time to break the links in a terrible plot intent on causing medical meltdown.

‘The Manhattan Project’ is a fast-paced bio-terrorism thriller spanning Japan, the Middle East and America.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul McNeive lost his legs in a fire aged 20 and this life-changing experience and what happened to him on his road to recovery inform his debut novel, ‘The Manhattan Project’. In a highly successful career, Paul was the managing director of Savills, Ireland, and is now a motivational speaker, a writer for the Irish Independent and was the world’s first double amputee helicopter pilot. Paul is an ambassador for the Douglas Bader Foundation and on the board of Ireland’s National Rehabilitation Hospital. In 2019, he was enlisted by the Chief Medical Officer for England to help raise awareness of the worldwide antibiotic resistance crisis.

Published by Black and White, May 2019, and to whom I thank for sending me a copy of this book to read and review.

BOOK REVIEW

This book certainly creates a chill, particularly when you think of the potential for a real threat; the very modern and palpable theme of bio-terrorism lurking underneath this fictionalise account of a biological attack on the people of New York, is scary.

The narrative splits several times, from past to current and from different perspectives – both as we piece together the building threat, and from where the desire for revenge was born; the awful destruction of Hiroshima and the person who never forgot and would never stop seeking vengeance for their own devastating loss. In New York, a deflated NYPD cop, John Wyse becomes caught up in the plot to destroy and devastate, little does he know the trauma it will bring to his life as he gradually pulls pieces of the puzzle together.

The story was a little of a slow build, for me, and I did put it down for a while about half-way through; I’m glad I carried on as suddenly the narrative pace hurtles along and there are many nail-biting moments as we sprint towards the climax. It’s a fascinating and scary story of human resistance to antibiotics and this fear is exploited to the maximum as the book’s plot develops into a race to solve the medical dilemma and attempt to defeat it. There are some harrowing descriptions of the victims of this awful attack and the devastation it brings to families. Truly terrifying.

Overall a great book, with an array of characters, many serving the plot development (rather like an episode of Casualty, when you’re watching people in their daily lives knowing that soon they’re going to be injured or under threat). All the threads come together, built around the likeable John Wyse character and balanced with the terrorists’ narratives interjecting throughout. Some moments of action and a surprise twist along the way make for some good reading.

A well-written, intelligently constructed thriller read; it stays within the boundaries of realism, which does make it ultimately all the more terrifying.

Recommended Read from me.

Genre: Adult thriller with themes of bioterrorism