Categories
Books

The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen

TVS.jpg

About the book:

Fourteen years ago, teenager Ellery Hathaway was victim number seventeen in the grisly murder spree of serial killer Francis Michael Coben. She was the only one who lived.
Now Coben is safely behind bars, and Ellery has a new identity in a sleepy town where bike theft makes the newspapers. But each July for the last three years, locals have been disappearing. Then Ellery receives strange messages hinting that the culprit knows exactly what happened to her all those years ago. When she tries to raise the alarm, no one will listen, and terrified she may be next, Ellery must turn to the one person who might believe her story…

The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen

My thoughts:

I read the majority of The Vanishing Season in one day because once I got pulled in to the story I had to keep going to see what was going to happen!

Ellie Hathaway is living under a new identity after surviving a killer when he was younger. Said killer is now behind bars, but Ellie has been getting strange messages, and now people are disappearing from the town she lives in. Nobody will believe her when she tries to tell them, so she takes matters into her own hands and calls in the FBI.

What follows is quite a tense read, packed with plenty of shady characters and a really interesting story. I was thoroughly engaged with this one and I was eager to see if my suspicions were correct or not. The Vanishing Season is definitely a fast-paced and clever crime thriller.

Recommended for sure!

Categories
Books

Seven Bridges: A DCI Ryan Mystery (The DCI Ryan Mysteries Book 8) by LJ Ross

LJR.jpg

About the book:
It’s been five months since a killer walked free and DCI Ryan is preparing to leave Newcastle to hunt him down – this time, for good.

But Ryan’s plans are scuppered when events take a dramatic turn and he is forced to stay and face his past one last time, or watch a friend suffer the consequences.

Amid the chaos, another killer is preparing to strike. When the Tyne Bridge explodes, Ryan’s team are faced with a frantic race to uncover a deadly foe who won’t stop until every bridge is burned, along with everybody on it…

Seven Bridges: A DCI Ryan Mystery (The DCI Ryan Mysteries Book 8) by LJ Ross

About the author:

LJ

LJ Ross is the author of the international #1 bestselling series of DCI Ryan mystery novels. Her debut, Holy Island, was released in January 2015 and reached number one in the Amazon Kindle UK best sellers chart.

Since then, she has released a further six full-length novels in the DCI Ryan Series, all of which have been top three bestsellers. Cragside, Dark Skies and Seven Bridges (due for release 25 May 2018) were all #1 in the UK on pre-orders alone.

The novels are available to purchase in e-book, paperback and audiobook formats on the Amazon store, as well as in selected independent bookshops. Holy Island is also available in German translation.

Louise was born in Northumberland, England. She studied undergraduate and postgraduate Law at King’s College, University of London and studied abroad in Paris and Florence. She spent much of her working life in London, where she was a regulatory lawyer for a number of years before taking the decision to change career and pursue her dream to write.

Now, she writes full time and lives with her husband and son in Northumberland. She enjoys reading all manner of books, travelling and spending time with family and friends.

If you would like to connect with LJ Ross, she would be very happy to hear from you:

https://www.facebook.com/LJRossAuthor

http://www.ljrossauthor.com
http://www.lovesuspense.com
lj_ross@outlook.com

My thoughts:

Having read and loved all the previous books in this series, I was thrilled to be able to read Seven Bridges. To be honest, I had been dying to read it as soon as I finished Dark Skies because LJ Ross left us all wanting to know what was going to happen.

In Seven Bridges, we are back with DCI Ryan, Anna and the team as they try to move on with their lives followiNg events in the previous books. Seven Bridges opens with a rather shocking storyline, which I’m not going to go into detail about because of spoilers, but I will say I was NOT expecting it and had to pick my jaw up off the floor.

As well as this, DCI Ryan and his team receive a message from someone threatening to blow up the Tyne Bridge. As they begin a race against time to try and solve the clues, the story moves at breakneck speed. This pacing means that the reader will find it almost impossible to stop reading!

I absolutely raced through Seven Bridges, reading the whole thing in one day. I genuinely couldn’t put it down. LJ Ross has an excellent knack for writing characters that you care about, becoming completely invested in their lives, and Seven Bridges is no different. I read with trepidation at times for fear of what I might read.

This series is so brilliantly-written. It has an engaging cast of characters and never feels stale. With each new book, LJ Ross injects even more life into the team, and the stories are always captivating. It is not a stretch to say this is one of my favourite series out there at the moment, and they get better with every installment.

Seven Bridges is a clever thriller, packed with a cast of characters that welcome you like old friends and an utterly gripping plot. I defy you not to love it! (And probably develop a crush on DCI Ryan, if you haven’t already!) 🙂

Highly recommended!

Previous reviews:

Holy Island by LJ Ross

Sycamore Gap by LJ Ross

Heavenfield by LJ Ross

Angel by LJ Ross

High Force by LJ Ross

Cragside by LJ Ross

Dark Skies by LJ Ross

Categories
Blog Tour Books

Hydra by Matt Wesolowski @ConcreteKraken @OrendaBooks

Hi everyone,

Today I’m thrilled to finally (I read this in early December! 🙂 ) be able to share my review for Hydra by Matt Wesolowski with you all as part of the blog tour!

About the author:

IMG_1026-2 copy

Matt Wesolowski is from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- and US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature Feature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio..

About the book:

HYDRA BF COVER.jpg

Before Scarfell Claw, there was Hydra… One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north-west of England, 26-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the ‘Macleod Massacre’. Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation. King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out. As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden ‘games’, online trolls, and the mysterious Black-eyed Children, whose presence extends far beyond the delusions of a murderess…

Click the link below to order your copy:

Hydra (Six Stories) by Matt Wesolowski

My thoughts:

I had been waiting patiently for Hydra for what seems like an eternity. It was probably only months, but it felt like forever. Having read Six Stories at the end of 2016 (See! That sounds like AGES ago considering its now 2018!!!), its safe to say I was eager to see where Matt Wesolowski was going to take us after the thrill-ride of Six Stories.

I knew Hydra was going to be dark, but I didn’t realise how unsettling and creepy it would actually be until I settled in to read it. Black-eyed children (not a spoiler, its in the blurb!) haunted me for days after I finished. Children are honestly one of the scariest tools to use in writing for me. And these ones were up there with the worst. I shuddered more times than I could count while reading.

Some background. Arla Macleod massacred her family in 2014. She is being held in a medium security mental health facility, and will speak to nobody except Scott King. As a consequence of this, King finds himself becoming entangled in a very complex and disturbing investigation. As well as Arla, five more people are interviewed for the podcast series, and each interview seems to put a different spin on what King thinks he knew about the massacre.

I don’t want to go into the plot to be honest. I honestly think Matt Wesolowski is one of the finest young writers out there at the moment though. Capturing the horror of the events in Arla’s past, combined with the exquisitely tense interviews, Hydra is just an absolutely brilliant book. It is compelling, genuinely chilling, tense and so utterly relevant to the world as we know it today. It addresses mental health issues, online trolling and the complexities and subtleties of the human condition so perfectly.

I loved it, really loved it. It completely freaked me out. There was so much to keep up with, and just when I thought I had it Matt threw in something else, and those creepy children. I am not able for the power of suggestion!!!

Matt Wesolowski is such a genuine talent and his creativity knows no bounds with Hydra. It is truly a captivating book. Scary at times, but so immensely readable. I can’t heap enough praise on his ability to create menacing narratives that push their way beneath your skin.

Highly, highly recommended.

Previous posts:

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

*Blog Tour* Q&A and Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

Follow the blog tour:

Hydra blog poster 2018 FINAL.jpg

Categories
Books Review

Brain Damage by J. A. St. Thomas @jas0603

Brain Damage.jpg

About the book:

I open my eyes and I’m close enough to kiss a dead girl.

Three years ago, sixteen year old Desmond Linc almost died in the car accident that killed his brother. Now he’s all but forgotten the damage, a dead space in his brain physicians swore would never awaken.

But it has.

Terrified he’s losing his mind, Des comes face to face with the tortured ghosts of his hometown. The black hole in his head is a doorway to the afterlife and the dead come telling secrets and lies and wielding accusations like scythes.

They tell the truth about one thing though, a killer has come to Northwood

Buy the book:

Brain Damage by J. A. St. Thomas

My thoughts:

I hadn’t heard of Brain Damage until fellow book raver Liz B over at Liz Loves Books reviewed it, and subsequently sang its praises. Naturally, my ears pricked up because Liz and I share quite similar tastes most of the time, so I was intrigued enough to hop over to Netgalley to request a copy to read.

I am SO GLAD, because Brain Damage is one of those hidden gem kinda books. You know the sort, it just slips out under the radar, but if you don’t read it you are missing out! Well that definitely applies to Brain Damage. A genre mash-up, and one that works brilliantly in and outside of the usual parameters expected.

We meet Des, a teen who survived an accident that killed his older brother, Donovan. He is living in the shadow of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and following a party and another knock to his head, he starts to see dead people. It sounds crazy, and he thinks he’s crazy. Not least because TBI can cause hallucinations as one of its after-effects.

This paves the way for the story to become almost like a ghost story, but other things are going on in the plot that also weave in the murder/ mystery element. And the author does this beautifully. I found the writing to be so engaging, and I became a little attached to Des to be honest. I couldn’t stop reading. I wanted to know why Des was seeing these horrific things, and what their purpose was in his life!

Brain Damage was a really compelling novel. There are a number of YA themes running through this one too. Friendships, cliques, sexuality, relationships, things we all go through in one for or another, and the author tackled them really well.

The visions/ hallucinations are frightening in their description. Creepy and vivid they made me shudder more than once. But its in these moments that we see the strength in Des’s character. The determination to find out whats going on, not just to him, but to those he is seeing. And to take care of those around him.

I raced through Brain Damage in a handful of sittings. I became invested in Des’s character, and I found myself staring at the end of the book wishing it wasn’t over. I want more. I would love to catch up with Des in the aftermath of the events in Brain Damage, even though the ending was nicely done, I think he has more to do!

Clever, emotional, creepy, yet tender at some points, I really enjoyed this one! Thanks to Liz for bringing it to my attention.

Highly recommended!

 

 

Categories
Books Review

Dreams of A Broken Man by Roger Bray~Ellen’s Review

RB.jpg

About the book:

On a cold, misty night in Eugene, Oregon Hazel Reed disappears from outside her ex-husband’s home. Hazel is stunningly beautiful, intelligent and unfaithful. So when she vanishes without a trace a jealous ex-husband is the natural suspect. Alex says she came to reconcile but, the DA thinks otherwise and Alex is convicted and imprisoned for Hazel’s murder. His sister, Alice, refuses to believe that he is a capable of such an act.
Three years pass and the last appeal fails. Alex is in jail and Alice is desperate and alone; until a chance meeting gives her hope.
As her new friend, Steve, helps her peel away the hidden truths and fragile lies holding the prosecution case together they realise that they are revealing a deeper and more sinister mystery.
Without them knowing, finding out what happened to Hazel has become a race against time.

Click the link below to get your copy:

Dreams of a Broken Man by Roger Bray

About the author (info from author’s website):

rb2.jpg

I have always loved writing; putting words onto a page and bringing characters to life. I can almost feel myself becoming immersed into their lives, living with their fears and triumphs. Thus, my writing process becomes an endless series of questions. What would she or he do, how would they react, is this in keeping with their character? Strange as it sounds, I don’t like leaving characters in cliffhanging situations without giving them an ending, whichever way it develops.

My life to date is what compels me to seek a just outcome, the good will overcome and the bad will be punished. More though, I tend to see my characters as everyday people in extraordinary circumstances, but in which we may all find our selves if the planets align wrongly or for whatever reason you might consider.

Of course, most novels are autobiographical in some way. You must draw on your own experiences of life and from events you have experienced to get the inspiration. My life has been an endless adventure. Serving in the Navy, fighting in wars, serving as a Police officer and the experiences each one of those have brought have all drawn me to this point, but it was a downside to my police service that was the catalyst for my writing.

Medically retired after being seriously injured while protecting a woman in a domestic violence situation I then experienced the other side of life. Depression and rejection. Giving truth to the oft said saying that when one door closes another opens I pulled myself up and enrolled in college gaining bachelor and master degrees, for my own development rather than any professional need. The process of learning, of getting words down onto the page again relit my passion for writing in a way that I hadn’t felt since high school.

So here we are, two books published and another on track.

Where it will take me I have no idea but I am going to enjoy getting there and if my writing can bring some small pleasure into people’s lives along the way, then I consider that I will have succeeded in life.

Personal fun facts:

I am married with three grown children and one grand daughter. I live with the love of my life, my wife of thirty years and her overly cute cat who, maybe unknowingly but I doubt it, saved my life by, for the one and only time, jumping on my lap and purring his head off when I was at my lowest and the depression almost got me.

I do enjoy hearing from my readers so please, drop me an email.

Ellen’s Review:

This book is quite different to anything I have read this year, the story concentrates on the friends and relatives of Alex who has been imprisoned for the murder of his ex wife Hazel and their quest to clear his name. Alice (Alex’s sister) is convinced of her brother’s innocence and after three years and a further appeal fails she enrols the help of a private investigator Steve to try and ascertain what actually happened that night. Hazel’s body was never found and there are a lot of inconsistencies in the investigation.

 

I liked the developing relationship between Alice and Steve and their persistence in clearing Alex’s name. An interesting story which really captured my imagination. It is difficult to say much more about this book without giving anything away, I’ll simply say that nothing is ever as it seems! Dreams of a Broken Man truly is a tale of hidden truths and fragile lies.

4/5

 

Categories
Books Review

2018 Watchlist: If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch 


About the book:

HOW DO YOU SOLVE YOUR OWN MURDER? Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen. But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger. As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go. 

My thoughts:

I know I said I’m taking a break, and I am. But I couldn’t wait to get my thoughts out on If I Die Before I Wake. 

IIDBIW is billed as a psychological mystery, and it is, but it is so much more too. 

When we meet Alex, he’s lying in a hospital bed, with all those around him believing he’s in a coma. Yet he can still hear, and feel, and think for himself. He just can’t move. He is trapped in his own body. 

We see everything from Alex’s perspective, and along with him, we learn that his climbing accident may have been something more sinister. As his visitors come and go, we all learn a little bit more about them all and how they fit into Alex’s life before the fall.

If I Die Before I Wake is a very clever novel. I loved the fact that the main character was male, as it’s not the usual thing in the psychological thriller genre lately. The narrative is brilliantly told, and with each new piece of information gleaned, the tension rises.

I found myself unable to put the book down. So much so that I read almost all of it in one day. Today, in fact. The characterisation is excellent. We learn a little about everyone. Family members, friends, their various experiences. All of this lends itself really well to how I felt about Alex. I was rooting for him from the very beginning. Willing him to move, to talk, to do anything.

I loved how the author built tension throughout the book. More than once I had to remind myself to relax. I was getting so caught up in the story that my body was rigid! It also makes the reader feel a range of emotions for all of those involved too. 

Compulsive, engaging and thoroughly gripping, If I Die Before I Wake is most certainly a book to watch out for in 2018. I can’t wait to see where this author goes next!

Highly recommended!

Categories
Books Review

Whiteout by Ragnar Jónasson ~ Translated by Quentin Bates


*Many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my review copy*

About the book:

Product Description

Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kálfshamarvík. Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the abandoned old house on the remote rocky outcrop? With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thór Arason discovers that the victim’s mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier. As the dark history and its secrets of the village are unveiled, and the death toll begins to rise, the Siglufjordur detectives must race against the clock to find the killer, before another tragedy takes place. Dark, chilling and complex, Whiteout is a haunting, atmospheric and stunningly plotted thriller from one of Iceland’s bestselling crime writers.

Published in ebook on September 15th by Orenda Books, you can get your copy by clicking the link below:

Whiteout (Dark Iceland) by Ragnar Jónasson

About the author:


Ragnar Jónasson is author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series. His debut Snowblind went to number one in the kindle charts shortly after publication, and Nightblind, Blackout and Rupture soon followed suit, hitting the number one spot in five countries, and the series being sold in 15 countries and for TV. Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he continues to work as a lawyer. He also teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV-news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Ragnar is a member of the UK Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) and set up its first overseas chapter in Reykjavik. He is also the co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Iceland Noir. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and young daughters.

About the translator:

IMG_0973

Quentin Bates escaped English suburbia as a teenager, jumping at the chance of a gap year working in Iceland. For a variety of reasons, the gap year stretched to become a gap decade, during which time he went native in the north of Iceland, acquiring a new language, a new profession as a seaman and a family before decamping en masse for England. He worked as a truck driver, teacher, netmaker and trawlerman at various times before falling into journalism largely by accident. He has been the technical editor of a nautical magazine for many years, all the while keeping a close eye on his second home in Iceland, before taking a sidestep into writing fiction. He is the author of a series of crime novels set in present-day Iceland (Frozen Out, Cold Steal, Chilled to the Bone, Winterlude, and Cold Comfort), which have been published in the UK, USA, Germany, Holland, Finland and Poland. He has translated a great deal of news and technical material into English from Icelandic, as well as one novel (Gudlaugur Arason’s Bowline).

My thoughts:

I have been waiting (im)patiently for Whiteout ever since I finished reading Rupture. I’m pretty sure everyone knows by now how much of a big fan I am of this series. So you can imagine my absolute glee in getting to read Whiteout before publication 😊

In Whiteout, we are back with Ari Thór and Tómas, both of whom are tasked with investigating the circumstances in which a young woman ends up at the bottom of the cliffs at Kálfshamarvík. Only a couple of days before Christmas, the men must work quickly and effectively to try to find out what has happened and how the woman ended up dead.

Whiteout is a really well-written mystery. With a large cast of characters, it really makes the reader work hard to try to figure things out alongside Ari Thór. I love Ragnar Jónasson’s writing style. There is something almost poetic in the way he describes the Icelandic location. The stunning visual imagery is second to none in terms of creating a clear location in the reader’s mind.

The author has assembled a really interesting cast of characters for this one. There are many of them, all with their own secrets that they are holding close to their chest. I found myself suspecting everyone at one time or another, such is the unreliable nature of the narrative Jónasson has created in Whiteout.

There is a haunting element to Whiteout as well. The cliffs, the lighthouse and the old abandoned house almost seem to become characters as well due to how well the author describes them. This creates a sense of foreboding as the reader gets drawn more into the story. It is quietly chilling and there seems to be a sinister element in the background when they are investigating in and around Kálfshamarvík.

I don’t want to say any more because the joy of reading these books is often found in unravelling the mystery alongside Ari Thór. Whiteout is another superb instalment in the Dark Iceland series. It has left me wanting more, and has also made some questions arise. So Ragnar, if you’re reading this, you and I need to have a bit of a chat 😂

I cannot recommend this series, and this book highly enough. Always atmospheric, often chilling and with plenty to keep the reader turning the pages, Whiteout is definitely a book to add to your TBR. The whole series is though, to be honest. If you haven’t read them, then you really should get on it!

I could keep rattling on about how much I enjoyed Whiteout. And the whole series in general. But I would be here all day, and still not do justice to my fave Icelander and his awesome books.

So yeah, Whiteout is all kinds of brilliant. Great characters, a gripping plot and a hauntingly atmospheric location. Another book added to my all time favourites list.

Highly recommended.

All the stars, always.

#AriThór

 

Previous reviews:

Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson

Nightblind by Ragnar Jónasson 

Blackout by Ragnar Jónasson 

Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson

Categories
Books Review

Cragside: A DCI Ryan Mystery (The DCI Ryan Mysteries Book 6)

img_6691

*Many thanks to LJ Ross for my review copy!*

About the book:

Are you afraid of the dark..?

After his climactic battle with notorious serial killer The Hacker, DCI Ryan is spending the summer with his fiancée within the grounds of Cragside, a spectacular Bavarian-style mansion surrounded by acres of woodland. When they are invited to attend the staff summer party – a Victorian murder mystery evening – it’s all a joke until the lights go out and an elderly man is found dead. It looks like an unfortunate accident but, as the dead man’s life begins to unfold, Ryan and his team of detectives realise that all is not as it appears.

When a second body is found, terror grips the close-knit community and Ryan must uncover the killer who walks among them, before they strike again…

Published TOMORROW, click the link below to pre-order your copy:

Cragside: A DCI Ryan Mystery (The DCI Ryan Mysteries Book 6)

About the author:

LJ.jpg

L.J. Ross is the author of the international #1 bestselling series of DCI Ryan mystery novels. Her debut, Holy Island, was released in January 2015 and went on to become a Kindle UK #1 bestseller. Its sequels, Sycamore Gap, Heavenfield, Angel and High Force have all been top five bestsellers. The novels are all available to purchase in e-book, paperback and audiobook formats on the Amazon store (the audiobook version of High Force will be released in early 2017). Holy Island is also available in German translation.

Louise was born in Northumberland, England. She studied undergraduate and postgraduate Law at King’s College, University of London and studied abroad in Paris and Florence. She spent much of her working life in London, where she was a regulatory lawyer for a number of years until taking the decision to change career and pursue her dream to write.

Now, she writes full time and lives with her husband and son in Bath. She enjoys reading all manner of books, travelling and spending time with family and friends.

 

My thoughts:

Cragside is the latest installment in the DCI Ryan series by LJ Ross, and to be honest, these books improve with every new book! LJ Ross is one of the authors whose books I eagerly await, and will ALWAYS buy because I am never let down. And its safe to say Cragside is another winner!

Still reeling from the investigation into The Hacker, when we meet Ryan in Cragside, he and Anna are holed up on a country estate as it was the easiest option until they can find somewhere to live. They are attending a staff party with a murder mystery themed evening in the main house, and that’s where events start to take on a life of their own.

During the course of the evening, and elderly staff member is found dead. What looks like, for all intents and purposes, a tragic accident is quickly upgraded when Ryan and his team begin to investigate a little deeper into the man’s life. When another body is found, things escalate quickly and it’s clear that there is something sinister happening at Cragside.

LJ Ross has a great writing style. In this one especially, there is a Golden Age crime feel to it. The murder mystery along with its setting make it seem almost Agatha Christie-esque in tone which makes it a very cosy read. Now in saying that, there is still an element of gore when discussing the murders, and the tension ramps up increasingly with every chapter.

What I love about these books is the characters. Yes, the plots are always excellent, and the intricacies of the mystery always bamboozle me, but the real heart of this series lies in the characters. I’m not one for fictional crushes, but to be honest, DCI Ryan sounds like he could be the poster boy for tortured heroes everywhere. There is something about how his character is built upon with each book that makes the reader feel more connected to him as the series progresses.

The camaraderie and banter between the investigation team is always so dynamic too. I especially love the relationships (and I am so NOT romantic at all!!!) between Ryan and Anna, and Frank and Denise. Considering all that they have been through recently (I’m not spoiling it by telling you, you’ll have to read the books to find out!) LJ Ross has captured their emotions so well. I’m not going to lie, there were a couple of occasions while reading that I may have had something in my eye… That is testament to the author’s ability to write characters so well though. To make the reader empathise/connect emotionally to characters is difficult, but LJ Ross does it with ease.

Cragside is a thrilling and engrossing read. Another stellar installment in the series. I flew through this one in less than 24 hours. I just couldn’t put it down. And my only complaint… that ending has me more than a little afraid for what’s coming in Dark Skies… but bring it on!!!

Highly, HIGHLY recommended!

Previous reviews for the DCI Ryan series:

Holy Island by LJ Ross

Sycamore Gap by LJ Ross

Heavenfield by LJ Ross

Angel (DCI Ryan 4) by LJ Ross

High Force (DCI Ryan 5) by L. J. Ross

Categories
2016 Books Review

Top 13 Books of 2016…

Hi everyone,

It’s that time of the year again. The time where I draw up this list over and over AND OVER again, trying to whittle down the great books I’ve read into one small one.

As I type this I’m surrounded by 5 or 6 different attempts, and I’ve decided that because 13 is my lucky number, I’m recommending 13 great books from those I have read this year. And for good measure, I’m putting in two books at the end from 2017 that you all need to watch out for!!!

The drawback about listing books, is that I know for a fact I have some absolute standout books from 2016 on my TBR shelves, but I haven’t gotten around to reading them, yet… And also it’s SO hard to choose and not everyone will be happy! But at the end of the day this is personal preference, books that have been great for me. 

This is almost a list of two halves. There is a certain publisher who consistently releases excellent books, so needless to say, they feature heavily. I’ve also got a couple of book series thrown in because I’m not doing two separate posts this year like I did in 2015! If you want to see them, the links are below:

My Top Ten Books & Series of 2015 Part 1!!!

My Top Ten Books & Series of 2015 Part 2!!!

Anyway, as usual, I digress!!!

Onto my TOP 13 BOOKS OF 2016 (in no particular order, with review links under the photos)…

img_0334

Dodgers by Bill Beverly 

I read this at the right time. It was everything I was looking for, and I absolutely loved it. I still think about East, months later.

 

image

The Constant Soldier by William Ryan

This book broke me. I sobbed as I finished it, I just couldn’t comprehend the beauty of this book. It was utterly breathtaking.

img_0716

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Nevernight took me weeks to read, I just didn’t “get it” immediately, so I left it and came back. I was hooked when I picked it up again. Amazing storytelling, magical prose and a kick-ass heroine, it is a superb starting point for a series.

img_0782

The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn

Menacing book this one! Slow deliberate prose that will make the hairs on your neck stand on end. Unputdownable, gripping and eloquent!

P1

Pendulum by Adam Hamdy

Best action thriller of the year for me I think! Pendulum was fast-paced, cinematic and super fun (not for the characters obvs, but I loved it!).

img_0565

The Deviants by C J Skuse

Another one that broke me. A YA book so full of heart with great characters. Bawled!!!!

RJ1

Blackout by Ragnar Jónasson 

This man can do no wrong in my eyes. In my top books last year, and here we are again. Highlight of my year was meeting Ragnar. #epicfangirl

Dead Is Better by Jo Perry

Dead is Best by Jo Perry

These books are all kinds of awesome. Charlie and Rose are dead and they are two of my favourite characters in fiction this year.

Where Roses Never Die cover Vis copy 2

Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen

Another beautiful Scandi crime novel makes the list. This one was special. Well worth reading!

The Defence by Steve Cavanagh

The Plea by Steve Cavanagh

Eddie Flynn is another of my favourite characters this year. Steve Cavanagh writes legal thrillers, and they are just perfection. I am eagerly awaiting the next installment!

Epiphany Jones A/W.indd

Epiphany Jones by Michael Grothaus

This book! This one. Unexpected, odd, and absolutely wonderful. Read it, you’ll thank me later!


There you have it, my Top 13 Books of 2016. Here are the two I think you all should keep an eye out for in 2017 and that will more than likely be on this list next year for me…

image

Ragdoll by Daniel Cole 

A PROPER serial killer thriller. Edge of your seat amazing, great characters and a twisted antagonist. What more could you want?

img_3276

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

LOVED this one! Haunting and threatening. It freaked me out more than once. Superb writing style, razor sharp. You’ll want to read it!


And so it ends. These books have been my favourites this year, by a mile. They have made me cry (which rarely happens with books!!!!), made me laugh, given me hope and filled me with excitement.

Have you read any of these? Would you? Do let me know in the comments…

Categories
Books

My Top 20 ATF Mystery/ Thriller books….

Hi everyone,

Last week I took part in a 4 day event on THE book club on Facebook and I had to list my Top 20 All Time Favourite Mystery and Thriller books. I figured I may as well post the list here, and add links to any I have reviewed on here!

I’ve got the link on the titles to those I have reviewed so you just have to click to be taken to the reviews and I have also written a sentence or two below them all!

In no particular order:

Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes 
When young, pretty Catherine Bailey meets Lee Brightman, she can’t believe her luck. Gorgeous, charismatic, and a bit mysterious, Lee seems almost too perfect to be true.
But what begins as flattering attention and spontaneous, passionate sex transforms into raging jealousy, and Catherine soon discovers that Lee’s dazzling blue eyes and blond good looks hide a dark, violent nature. Disturbed by his increasingly erratic, controlling behavior, she tries to break it off; turning to her friends for support, she’s stunned to find they don’t believe her. Increasingly isolated and driven into the darkest corner of her world, a desperate Catherine plans a meticulous escape.
Four years later, Lee is behind bars and Catherine—now Cathy—is trying to build a new life in a new city. Though her body has healed, the trauma of the past still haunts her. Then Stuart Richardson, her attractive new neighbor, moves in. Encouraging her to confront her fears, he sparks unexpected hope and the possibility of love and a normal life.
Until the day the phone rings . . .
~This is the perfect example of a psychological thriller. Gripping and scarily accurate you’ll find it hard to put it down. ~
2- I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.
Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating . . .
~A thoroughly engrossing thriller. Well thought out and with an excellent storyline, this was one of my top reads of 2015.~
Between You and Me by Lisa Hall
They say every marriage has its secrets.

But no one sees what happens behind closed doors.

And sometimes those doors should never be opened …
Sal and Charlie are married. They love each other. But they aren’t happy. Sal cannot leave, no matter what Charlie does – no matter how much it hurts.
~Uncomfortable, twisted and completely absorbing, I loved this one!~
Black Night Falling by Rod Reynolds
‘And now I stood here, on a desolate airfield in the Arkansas wilderness, a stone’s throw from Texarkana. Darkness drawing in on me. Cross country to see a man I never imagined seeing again. On the strength of one desperate telephone call…’
Having left Texarkana for the safety of the West Coast, reporter Charlie Yates finds himself drawn back to the South, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, as an old acquaintance asks for his help. This time it’s less of a story Charlie’s chasing, more of a desperate attempt to do the right thing before it’s too late.
Rod Reynolds’ exceptional second novel picks up just a few months on from The Dark Inside, and once again displays the feel for place, period and atmosphere which marked out his acclaimed debut.
~A sublime example of American crime noir. Black Night Falling was an exceptional and heartfelt mystery with all the elements of a great thriller novel. Highly recommended.~
Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris
Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.
Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?
And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?
The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?
~Another supreme example of domestic noir. This book has brilliant and hateful characters that keep you turning the pages until the very end. ~
Epiphany Jones by Michael Grothaus
Jerry has a traumatic past that leaves him subject to psychotic hallucinations and depressive episodes. When he stands accused of stealing a priceless Van Gogh painting, he goes underground, where he develops an unwilling relationship with a woman who believes that the voices she hears are from God. Involuntarily entangled in the illicit world of sex-trafficking among the Hollywood elite, and on a mission to find redemption for a haunting series of events from the past, Jerry is thrust into a genuinely shocking and outrageously funny quest to uncover the truth and atone for historical sins.
~A very out there choice, but one I stand by completely. I fell hard for this one. The characters, the black humour, the sadness and the superb writing won Epiphany Jones a place in my heart.~
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
A devious tale of psychological suspense involving sex, deception, and an accidental encounter that leads to murder. This is a modern re-imagining of Patricia Highsmith’s classic Strangers on a Train from the author of the acclaimed The Girl with a Clock for a Heart.
On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. But their game turns dark when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.”
From there, Ted and Lily’s twisted bond grows stronger as they plot Miranda’s demise, but soon these co-conspirators are embroiled in a game of cat-and-mouse–one they both cannot survive–with a shrewd and very determined detective on their tail.
~Absolutely loved this one. Couldn’t put it down once I started. It has everything I look for in a mystery/ thriller novel and for me, it really delivered.~

The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn
Two people in exile. Two secrets. As the past tightens its grip, there may be no escape… TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and her job to take voluntary exile in a remote house on an isolated fjord. But her new job as housekeeper and gardener is not all that it seems, and her silent, surly employer, 44-year-old Sigurd Bagge, is not the old man she expected. As they await the return of his wife from her travels, their silent, uneasy encounters develop into a chilling, obsessive relationship, and it becomes clear that atonement for past sins may not be enough… Haunting, consuming and powerful, The Bird Tribunal is a taut, exquisitely written psychological thriller that builds to a shocking, dramatic crescendo that will leave you breathless.
~This book is a superb character study. Completely unsettling and chilling in equal measure. I got lost in this book and I couldn’t put it down. A real sense of foreboding runs through it.~
All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
In the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut everything seems picture perfect.
Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.
As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town – or perhaps lives among them – drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.
~Brilliant unreliable narration with a very real and horrendous crime at its core. Superb writing with an excellent edge to it. Highly recommended. ~
Dodgers by Bill Beverly
Dodgers is a dark, unforgettable coming-of-age journey that recalls the very best of Richard Price, Denis Johnson, and J.D. Salinger. It is the story of a young LA gang member named East, who is sent by his uncle along with some other teenage boys—including East’s hothead younger brother—to kill a key witness hiding out in Wisconsin. The journey takes East out of a city he’s never left and into an America that is entirely alien to him, ultimately forcing him to grapple with his place in the world and decide what kind of man he wants to become.
~Dodgers is just wonderful. It is beautifully written, it is gritty, it is a lesson in the beauty of the American landscape at obscure times of the morning and night. But it’s so much more. A stand out read for me.~
Nightblind by Ragnar Jónasson 
Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village on the northernmost tip of Iceland, accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thór Arason: a local policeman, whose tumultuous past and uneasy relationships with the villagers continue to haunt him.
The peace of this close-knit community is shattered by the murder of a policeman – shot at point-blank range in the dead of night in a deserted house. With a killer on the loose and the dark arctic winter closing in, it falls to Ari Thór to piece together a puzzle that involves tangled local politics, a compromised new mayor, and a psychiatric ward in Reykjavik, where someone is being held against their will.
Then a mysterious young woman moves to the area, on the run from something she dare not reveal, and it becomes all too clear that tragic events from the past are weaving a sinister spell that may threaten them all. Dark, chilling and complex, Nightblind is an extraordinary thriller from an undeniable new talent.
~I LOVE the Dark Iceland series. Cold, mysterious and full of beautifully written prose, they are an absolute feast for the mind. I cannot recommend them highly enough.~
Try Not To Breathe by Holly Seddon
Amy Stevenson was the biggest news story of 1995. Only fifteen years old, Amy disappeared walking home from school one day and was found in a coma three days later. Her attacker was never identified and her angelic face was plastered across every paper and nightly news segment.

Fifteen years later, Amy lies in the hospital, surrounded by 90’s Britpop posters, forgotten by the world until reporter Alex Dale stumbles across her while researching a routine story on vegetative patients.

Remembering Amy’s story like it was yesterday, she feels compelled to solve the long-cold case.

The only problem is, Alex is just as lost as Amy—her alcoholism has cost her everything including her marriage and her professional reputation.

In the hopes that finding Amy’s attacker will be her own salvation as well, Alex embarks on a dangerous investigation, suspecting someone close to Amy.

Told in the present by an increasingly fragile Alex and in dream-like flashbacks by Amy as she floats in a fog of memories, dreams, and music from 1995, Try Not to Breathe unfolds layer by layer to a breathtaking conclusion.
~Books like Try Not To Breathe take you on a journey. They make you feel for the characters, and their circumstances. It is effortlessly written, blending Amy’s past,with Alex’s present and weaves the perfect take around the true events of Amy’s attack and subsequent hospitalisation. Really enjoyed this one.~
The Lobster Boy and The Fat Lady’s Daughter.

Mel Barry is a detective like no other and when her step-father, Charlie ‘Lobster Boy’ Koontz is arrested and framed for murder, Mel is his only hope.
Surrounded by freaks of the modern circus, Mel pursues a heartless killer through the darkest heart of the gothic South, only to discover the mysteries of her own shadowy past revealed in blood.

Set on the carnival lot of a South Georgia tobacco town, The Lobster Boy And The Fat Lady’s Daughter is a wild Lynch-ian ride through a world that few ‘normal’ people have ever experienced.
~Shining the spotlight on alternative mysteries here. Lobster Boy is a genre bending thriller and I couldn’t love it any more! Odd, quirky and downright brilliant!~
Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Stalesen
September 1977. Mette Misvær, a three-year-old girl, disappears without trace from the sandpit outside her home. Her tiny, close, middle-class community in the tranquil suburb of Nordas is devastated, but their enquiries and the police produce nothing. Curtains twitch, suspicions are raised, but Mette is never found. Almost 25 years later, as the expiry date for the statute of limitations draws near, Mette’s mother approaches PI Varg Veum, in a last, desperate attempt to find out what happened to her daughter. As Veum starts to dig, he uncovers an intricate web of secrets, lies and shocking events that have been methodically concealed. When another brutal incident takes place, a pattern begins to emerge … Chilling, shocking and full of extraordinary twists and turns, Where Roses Never Die reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost crime writers.
~This Scandinavian thriller is a real treat. Full of mystery and intrigue but with real heart. I may have welled up a little reading it. Haven’t forgotten it.~

The Long Count by J. M. Gulvin
In The Long Count, the first book of JM Gulvin’s masterful new crime series, we meet Ranger John Quarrie as he is called to the scene of an apparent suicide by a fellow war veteran. Although the local police want the case shut down, John Q is convinced that events aren’t quite so straightforward.
When his hunch is backed up by the man’s son, Isaac – just back from Vietnam, and convinced his father was murdered – they start to look into a series of other violent incidents in the area, including a recent fire at the local Trinity Asylum and the disappearance of Isaac’s twin brother, Ishmael. In a desperate race against time, John Q has to try and unravel the dark secrets at the heart of this family and get to the truth before the count is up…
~Loved this one. A proper American thriller. Great characters, and a superb plot line. John Q is one of my favourite characters of late!~
I’m Travelling Alone by Samuel Bjork

When a six-year-old girl is found dead, hanging from a tree, the only clue the Oslo Police have to work with is an airline tag around her neck. It reads ‘I’m travelling alone’.

Holger Munch, veteran police investigator, is immediately charged with re-assembling his homicide unit. But to complete the team, he must convince his erstwhile partner, Mia Krüger – a brilliant but troubled investigator – to return from the solitary island where she has retreated with plans to take her own life.
Reviewing the evidence, Mia identifies something no one else has noticed – a thin line carved into the dead girl’s fingernail: the number 1. Instinctively, she knows that this is only the beginning. To save other children from the same fate, she must find a way to cast aside her own demons and confront the most terrifying, cold-hearted serial killer of her career…
~I’m a huge fan of Scandinavian crime so it’s a given that this one is on my list. Loved the story line and the characters were brilliant. I couldn’t put it down. It was in my Top 10 in 2015.~
The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
Internationally acclaimed crime writer Jo Nesbø’s antihero police investigator, Harry Hole, is back: in a bone-chilling thriller that will take Hole to the brink of insanity.
Oslo in November. The first snow of the season has fallen. A boy named Jonas wakes in the night to find his mother gone. Out his window, in the cold moonlight, he sees the snowman that inexplicably appeared in the yard earlier in the day. Around its neck is his mother’s pink scarf.
Hole suspects a link between a menacing letter he’s received and the disappearance of Jonas’s mother—and of perhaps a dozen other women, all of whom went missing on the day of a first snowfall. As his investigation deepens, something else emerges: he is becoming a pawn in an increasingly terrifying game whose rules are devised—and constantly revised—by the killer.
~Yes. Another Scandinavian thriller. It’s JO NESBO though. My lists wouldn’t be complete without one of his books on there and The Snowman is my fave. It gave my chills reading it, creeping me out the entire time. Truly brilliant!~
No Time For Goodbye by Linwood Barclay
Fourteen-year-old Cynthia Bigge woke one morning to discover that her entire family, mother, father, brother had vanished. No note, no trace, no return. Ever. Now, twenty-five years later, she’ll learn the devastating truth
Sometimes better not to know. . .
Cynthia is happily married with a young daughter, a new family. But the story of her old family isn’t over. A strange car in the neighborhood, untraceable phone calls, ominous gifts, someone has returned to her hometown to finish what was started twenty-five years ago. And no one’s innocence is guaranteed, not even her own. By the time Cynthia discovers her killer’s shocking identity, it will again be too late . . . even for goodbye.
~A thriller of the highest order. Couldn’t put it down and had to buy the sequel so I could read it immediately afterwards! Gripping and a proper thrilling read, Barclay doesn’t disappoint!~
The Plea by Steve Cavanagh
Fraud. Blackmail. Murder. It’s all in a day’s work for Eddie Flynn.
For years, major New York law firm Harland & Sinton has operated a massive global fraud. The FBI are on to them, but they need witnesses to secure their case. When a major client of the firm, David Child, is arrested for murder, the FBI ask con-artist-turned-lawyer Eddie Flynn to secure Child as his client and force him to testify against the firm.
Eddie’s not a man to be forced into representing a guilty client, but the FBI have incriminating files on Eddie’s wife, Christine, and if Eddie won’t play ball, she’ll pay the price.
When Eddie meets David Child he knows Child is innocent, despite the overwhelming evidence against him. With the FBI putting pressure on him to secure the plea, Eddie must find a way to prove Child’s innocence while keeping his wife out of danger – not just from the FBI, but from the firm itself.
~LOVE LOVE LOVE this series. This is book two (The Defence is book 1) and to be fair I loved them equally. Eddie Flynn is a masterful main character and there is a constant sense of action in these books. Gripping legal thriller!~
Holy Island by L. J. Ross
Detective Chief Inspector Ryan retreats to Holy Island seeking sanctuary when he is forced to take sabbatical leave from his duties as a homicide detective. A few days before Christmas, his peace is shattered and he is thrust back into the murky world of murder when a young woman is found dead amongst the ancient ruins of the nearby Priory.

When former local girl Dr Anna Taylor arrives back on the island as a police consultant, old memories swim to the surface making her confront her difficult past. She and Ryan struggle to work together to hunt a killer who hides in plain sight, while pagan ritual and small-town politics muddy the waters of their investigation.
~Another stellar start to a series. Cant recommend them all highly enough. Absolutely wonderful characters, vile antagonists and a constant sense of fear of what will happen next. Holy Island is just the beginning…~

 

So there you have it. I’ll have to admit, this list was whittled down from the high 40’s because it was to hard to choose!

Bear in mind these are all books that fall under the mystery and thriller genres, as asked for as part of the event. I had to adhere to the guidelines of the event so there are no CRIME mystery thrillers in there as such. 

Also, these are my own personal choices. 

Have you read any? Would you read any? Do let me know in the comments…