Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Extract: Little Bones - Sam Blake


To celebrate the publication of the third book in Sam Blake's Cat Connolly series, No Turning Back, I'm thrilled to share an extract from the first book, Little Bones.



Cathy’s mind whirred. The women who had vanished in Wicklow and Kildare had haunted her as she’d recovered from her injuries after the bomb. Unable to get back to boxing straight away, she’d needed to get her fitness back, as well as find space in her head to deal with it all, so she had started running. Perhaps she’d been running away from everything that had happened, she wasn’t sure, but the mountains had been the perfect place. Empty and silent, with only sheep for company, long tracks criss-crossed the hills, took her around the edges of silent lakes, and as she’d pounded the peaty ground she’d half expected to stumble over a body, to see the white of bone shining against the heather.
‘All the women who have disappeared seemed to be fairly confident, easy to talk to. Maybe the same happened with Sarah Jane.’ Cathy paused, her face creased in a frown. It didn’t feel right, but they had to explore every single option. ‘We really need to know who Sarah Jane has come into contact within the last few weeks.’
‘Thirsty’s got her phone log now, so we can go through it.’ Cathy couldn’t read O’Rourke’s expression as he spoke – he was keeping his face deliberately blank.
Jesus, what had happened to her? She could be lying half dead somewhere in a bog up in the mountains right now . . .
Cathy took a slow breath, trying to still her heart. Sarah Jane needed them to be methodical now, to be professional. She needed them to find the strands, the threads that would lead back to her. Panicking wouldn’t help anyone.
‘This isn’t a random thing, though – someone went to the trouble of taking her computer. They had her address.’ Cathy could hear the certainty in her voice. It was the one thing they were absolutely sure of, and in her gut she was certain they needed to work from there outwards.
Cathy’s mum leaned forward to check the milk jug, ‘Perhaps it was someone she met online, on one of those dating sites, someone who was worried the computer would link him to her?’
Cathy sighed, thinking back to her last college essay. ‘Maybe. Maybe someone was stalking her online, had befriended her.’ She paused. It was a real possibility. ‘The type of offender who does that is going to be very careful, a planner. And that type of person is not necessarily going to be acting out of character immediately after the event, or beforehand for that matter. They will be a habitual liar, could easily be a psychopath who finds it easy to kill.’ Cathy stopped abruptly as she realised what she’d said.
Theresa Connolly reached across the table for Cathy’s arm, squeezing it hard. Cathy’s blurry eyes fixed on her mother’s engagement ring, a cabochon ruby set in a nest of diamonds. Her dad had sold his first car to buy it. ‘It could be nothing like that. You know what Sarah Jane’s like. She’s very highly strung, and she’s always getting lost. Maybe she just needed some time out.’
Cathy threw her mum a glance. Really?
‘Is there anyone you can think of that Sarah Jane’s mentioned recently? Someone new on her radar? A JDLR, someone who gave her the creeps?’ O’Rourke had asked her the same question at least a hundred times over the previous days. Cathy shook her head, running her hand across her eyes.
Cathy’s mum cut in, ‘JDLR?’
O’Rourke clarified, ‘Just doesn’t look right. Copper’s rule of thumb.’




Thursday, 3 May 2018

The Wrong Man - Kate White


A moment of pleasure leads to a deadly game of cat and mouse in this slick and suspenseful thriller.
Kit Finn meets handsome sculptor Matt Healy on a business trip and the two share a night of passion. They arrange a second date, but when Kit arrives at Matt’s apartment she is greeted by a stranger claiming he is the real Matt and that his identity was stolen.
Realising she has been duped Kit decides to put the encounter behind her. Shortly after, the police ask her to identify a man killed in a hit and run, carrying only her business card, and she is shocked to find the dead man is the person she knows as the genuine Matt Healy.
Kit fears she has become unintentionally embroiled in a sinister web of deceit. With no real evidence to take to police, Kit resolves to unravel the mystery herself. But can she do so before more lives, including her own, are put in danger?
Having enjoyed the other books I've read by Kate White I was looking forward to reading The Wrong Man. The story of Kit Finn, an interior designer on a working break in Florida, who decides that it's about time she was more forward and has an exhilarating one night stand with a stranger. Thinking she'll never see the man again even though they both live in New York she is surprised to receive an invitation to dinner at his apartment. On arriving there Kit is greeted by a stranger who claims to have no knowledge of the man she knows as Matt Healy, but who is definitely not the Matt Healy standing in front of her.

Kit is launched into an adventure that she did not want or expect and is soon regretting her decision in Florida. Wanting nothing more than to have a normal life again, Kit is reduced to hiding out in the shadows, avoiding men who may or may not want to kill her and perplexed as to why she has become caught up in a game of cat and mouse. It soon transpired that the man she met is involved in something desperate stemming from a simple accident in not-Matt Healy's hotel room.

The Wrong Man is a story of identity swapping, big deals gone bad, and, at the end of the day, pure and simple greed. Kit gets herself involved in something because of deciding to live free for one night and soon tumbles down into both her personal and professional lives. Kate White has once again created a story full of twists and turns where you're never quite sure if the so-called good guy is really the villain of the piece or whether somebody that comes across as a very real threat to her life may actually be the one to save her life. Not knowing who to trust in this case leads to Kit making some very unwise decisions.

The Wrong Man is fast-paced and extremely readable with some great characters who aren't perfect, who make reckless choices that often put other people in danger with dangerous consequences, and is perfect for those who like their thriller/mystery novels with a dash of romance. I'm very much looking forward to Ms. White's next book as she is an author who can both entertain and keep you on the edge of your seat at the same time.

 
The Wrong Man - Kate White | Publisher - Canelo | Release date - October 9th, 2017
 

 


Sunday, 15 April 2018

Truly Wildly Deeply - Jenny McLachlan


Annie is starting college. She can’t wait. No more school, no more uniform, and no one telling her what to do. It’s the start of a new adventure and Annie’s not going to let anyone or anything get in the way of that. Freedom matters to Annie. She has cerebral palsy and she’s had to fight hard to get the world to see her for who she truly is.

Then she meets Fab. He’s six foot two, Polish and a passionate believer in…well, just about everything, but most of all Annie and good old fashioned romance. The moment Fab sees Annie, he’s wildly drawn to her and declares she must be his girl. Annie’s horrified. She doesn’t want to be anyone’s anything, especially if it means losing her independence.

But then Annie finds herself falling for Fab. As things go deeply wrong, Annie realises that love can make you do wild, crazy things, and so she sets out to win his heart with a romantic gesture of truly epic proportions!
 


I've read a few of Jenny's books now but Truly Wildly Deeply has taken top spot as it could quite easily be describing my best friend from high school. P had cerebral palsy too, and we spent our days in the school library but  unfortunately without the added bonus of our own Fab to brighten our days. The school librarian was male but sadly rather old and not at all good looking!

Annie is at college and, for the first time in her life, independent. She's looking forward to making friends and developing her social life although living with a disability does indeed leave you exhausted, with no energy left by the end of the week and having to decide what takes priority in your life. For a teenager this is twice as hard, I have trouble as a disabled adult, but Annie is soon going to parties and on 'friend' dates with Fab. Except Fab isn't aware these are friend dates and as far as he's concerned Annie is his girl. Which makes her run a mile...

Truly Wildly Deeply is a truly beautiful story of acceptance, friendship, first love, and  relishing teenage independence, even with one of the coolest mom characters I've come across in YA fiction today. I loved her mom's Great British Bake Off habit, maybe without the cheese and onion crisps though! I could go on forever about all the wonderful things in this book, Hilary for example who is a fabulous best friend as anybody who wears yellow glasses would be or the boys in the cafeteria who also have their own quirks, or Jackson, the boy in the train from Annie's old school whose relationship with his girlfriend scared Annie on a daily basis. I won't though. Instead, all I'll do is tell you to read the book yourself, and see what a beautiful thing Jenny has created - a main character whose disability does not define her, who knows that she can do anything she wants to.  Even fall in love...

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Tell No Lies - Lisa Hartley


Now they’re coming after Caelan’s team…

A tortured body is found in a basement. Drug dealing and people smuggling 

are on the rise. Then police start going missing.

There seems to be no connection between the crimes, but Detective Caelan Small senses something isn’t right.

Plunged into a new investigation, lives are on the line. And in the web of gangs, brothels and nerve-shattering undercover work, Caelan must get to the truth – or be killed trying.

And then there’s Nicky...


Tell No Lies is the second book in the Caelan Small series by author Lisa Hartley. The story kicks off immediately after the terrifying events of Ask No Questions and the discovery that one of their own was indeed involved in murder. It's hard to know how to talk about Tell No Lies without giving away spoilers for the first book. This is one of those rare instances where I think you really do need to read Ask No Questions first otherwise you'll be floundering slightly, with no clue as to some of the things that are mentioned.

Lisa Hartley has created a fascinating character in Caelan Small, famed for her chameleon-like ability to blend in and not be noticed. Working as an undercover police officer is perfect for Caelan but still reeling from shocking truths at the end of Ask No Questions she's doubting herself and her colleagues. The last thing she wants to do is work with someone who she doesn't trust but this new case involves a dead police officer, drug dealers, and brutal murders.

Gritty and blunt, Tell No Lies doesn't hold back on the punches and you're soon deep in the story, cringing every time Caelan thinks she's been made or has done something she probably shouldn't have. The tension created by the death of the young police officer leaps off the page and even though you know he's a police officer you find yourself wondering exactly what he was doing when he was killed. All of Ms. Hartley's characters are well written, for police officers you're never quite sure if you can trust them but I can only imagine this both because of the undercover nature of most of them and because of events in book one.

I was hooked from page one of Ask No Questions and read Tell No Lies immediately after finishing it, turning the pages until it was well beyond my bedtime! The ending was another clever twist with the culprit being the person you'd least suspect and Caelan yet again ending up in hospital, that's not a spoiler as I'm assuming there will be a third book given the events of the last chapter which I will definitely be reading.


Tell No Lies - Lisa Hartley
Publisher - Canelo
Release date - February 19th, 2018

About The Author

Lisa Hartley lives with her partner, son, two dogs and several cats. She graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Studies, then had a variety of jobs but kept writing in her spare time. She is currently working on the next DS Catherine Bishop novel, as well as the new Caelan Small series with Canelo.


Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Brightstorm - Vashti Hardy


Twins Arthur and Maudie receive word in Lontown that their famous explorer father died in a failed attempt to reach South Polaris. Not only that, but he has been accused of trying to steal fuel from his competitors before he died! The twins don't believe the news, and they answer an ad to help crew a new exploration attempt in the hope of learning the truth and salvaging their family's reputation. As the winged ship Aurora sets sail, the twins must keep their wits about them and prove themselves worthy of the rest of the crew. But will Arthur and Maudie find the answers they seek?

If you're looking for a fast-paced, steampunk-ish, middle-grade adventure story, then look no further. Brightstorm by debut author Vashti Hardy is all that and more. Featuring twins Arthur and Maudie, grieving for their father who has been accused of a crime he didn't commit and evicted from their family home,  who join Harriet Culpepper and her crew on the sky-ship Aurora, heading for South Polaris, from whence nobody has ever successfully returned to civilization before.

Desperate to clear their father's name Arthur and Maudie decide to join a new expedition heading to the last place he was seen alive, on an unknown sky-ship that has been ridiculed by the Geographical Society. Maudie is ecstatic, she has always loved all thing engineering and mechanical (including the iron arm she made for Arthur) but Arthur is quieter, more sensitive, a bookworm and just about the only male character who features prominently. The captain of the Aurora is Harriet Culpepper, aided and abetted by Felicity Wiggety and Welby, her butler. Harriet is like Maudie, highly inventive, and where other ships might fail to reach South Polaris, Harriet has devised a new type of engine, one which might mean they are the first crew to discover the unknown reaches of South Polaris.

Vashti Hardy has created a stunning new world, one which is easy to get lost in, and one in which I would love to join them on an expedition. There are whales and kings, sapient animals (Parthena, the Brightstorm's white hawk, and Queenie, Harriet's cat) which are no doubt a nod to Philip Pullman and his daemons. There are talking wolves (my favorites) and bandits, and villains trying to stop them reaching South Polaris by any way necessary. The writing is a sheer delight to read and for a debut novel was almost perfection, Brightstorm is going on to the 'keeper's' shelf and I can't wait for the eight-year-olds to read it. The books itself is gorgeous with a foldout flap featuring the map of the Great Wide and the cog & compass illustrations at the start of each chapter are a wonderful addition.

Brightstorm is a fresh, amazing debut about friendship and family, and I can't wait to read more, whether it's more adventures with Arthur, Maudie and the rest of the crew or something completely different. Huge thanks to Scholastic for sending me a copy of the book and inviting me to take part in the blog tour! If you want to read more reviews, guest posts and interviews with Vashti, then do check out all the blogs taking part.






Brightstorm - Vashti Hardy
ISBN - 9781407181707
Publisher - Scholastic
Release date - March 1st, 2018

About The Author


Vashti Hardy lives near Brighton and was a primary school teacher before moving into digital marketing. She is an alumni member and buddy at the Golden Egg Academy. Brightstorm is her debut novel published by Scholastic.





Thursday, 1 March 2018

March New Release Giveaway


Welcome to the March 2018 New Release Giveaway Hop, hosted by It Starts At Midnight! The hop now runs all month long so you can enter from now until midnight on March 31st. Up for grabs is any new release this month up to the value of $20 from the Book Depository as long as they deliver to your country - find the list of countries here

All you have to do is choose any new release published in March and fill out the rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out the linky for more chances to win, thanks for entering and good luck!

Friday, 9 February 2018

Force Of Nature - Jane Harper


Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged Giralang Ranges is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case - in just a matter of days she was to provide the documents that will bring down the company she works for.

Falk discovers that far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. But does it include murder?


When I read The Dry last year I fell in love with Jane Harper's writing, both her description and characters were almost perfect and made for one of my most compelling reads of the year. It went on to become the Waterstones Crime Book of the Month (twice) and in several publications, it won awards and Reese Witherspoon's production company has bought the movie rights. I didn't think it was possible to improve on The Dry but with Force Of Nature? Jane Harper has done just that. I've had a copy of the book since August last year and I've read it twice, and it's on my list of books for top ten of 2018 already.

The affable Aaron Falk makes a welcome return and, along with his colleague Carmen in the Financial Crimes unit, soon becomes embroiled in a missing persons case. The connection to his department? The missing woman was their informant into an investigation into company fraud and the people she went into the Giralang Ranges with happen to be the top bosses of BaileyTennants. It was supposed to be a team building weekend, learning to trust their co-workers, a team of 5 men and a team of 5 women. When the deadline passes and only the men have returned things take a turn for the worse. Eventually the women return, but Alice is not one of them. The question is, has she merely walked away or did someone go into the Bush with murderous intentions?

Jane Harper has created another amazing thriller, with an eclectic mix of characters and once again using the Australian bush as a character in its own right. She keeps you on your toes as to what exactly happened out there, a simple case of a woman wanting to disappear or someone who knows just what she's been doing and can't risk her staying alive once the weekend is over. How far would one of the other women go to keep a secret? Alice Russell is far from a likeable character, even Falk and Carmen don't particularly like her very much, but that's no excuse for violence.

The story flips between the current search for the missing woman and what actually happened during the days the women were in the wilderness. This builds both a picture of the women themselves and how they got on, along with a snapshot of the investigations and their home lives, building the momentum until we finally find out what really transpired while they were alone.

Force of Nature was a masterpiece of misdirection, I was suspicious of everyone from the gas station attendant to the chap running the retreat, the rangers at the local lodge where Falk was staying to Daniel and Jill, Alice's bosses. There was the added menace of a local serial killer who although he was dead, had a son who hadn't been seen for several years, and so of course anybody male came under suspicion too. The discovery of the truth of Alice's disappearance stunned me. Once again I'd gone for every option but the right one, distracted by the red herrings and ignoring the hints that led to the real story.

As I said with The Dry, if you like intelligent, well written, gripping thrillers then you should add both Force of Nature and The Dry to your reading lists. Although this is the second book in the Falk series you could read this as a standalone but really, to fully appreciate Jane Harper's wonderful, descriptive writing you need to read both. Huge thanks to Grace Vincent and LittleBrown for an advance copy of the book and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. I'm off to buy the gorgeous limited edition hardback now as Force of Nature is a keeper and I'm sure I'll be re-reading while I wait for Falk no. 3 (fingers crossed)!!!



 
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