Thursday, September 29, 2016

Her Darkest Nightmare - Brenda Novak

Publisher: Headline 25.08.16

Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. (Thank you Headline!)

Page Count: 376

Format/Genre: Paperback/Psychological Thriller

ISBN/Link To Book On Amazon: 978-1472240972 (Paperback £7.99)

Audience: Readers who like their books full of psychopaths, danger, terror and survival instinct.

Summed up in one word: Threatening

Author Bio: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Brenda Novak is the author of fifty books. A four-time Rita nominee, she has won many awards, including the National Reader's Choice, the Bestseller's Best, the Book Buyer's Best, the Daphne, and the Holt Medallion. She also runs Brenda Novak for the Cure, a charity to raise money for diabetes research (her youngest son has the disease). To date, she's raised $2.5 million. For more about Brenda, please visit www.brendanovak.com (Bio from Headline)

First Impression: This book made me genuinely terrified, I had a pit in my stomach for the entire duration of the book and it is a gripping addition to the psychological thriller genre. This book crosses many lines and tackles some of the hardest themes in fiction and Brenda Novak does a spectacular job. Tread carefully with this book as it takes quite the psychological toll.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Of Sand & Malice Made - Bradley Beaulieu

Of Sand & Malice Made - Bradley Beaulieu

Publisher/Source: Sent to me by Gollancz in exchange for an honest review. (Released 8/09/16)

Page Count: 228

Format/Genre: Hardback/Fantasy

ISBN/Link To Book On Amazon: 978-1473218451 (Hardback £12.99)

Audience: Those who enjoy exotic fantasy tales that include darker themes, swearing and violence.

Summed up in one word: Awesome

Author Bio: Bradley Beaulieu fell in love with fantasy from the moment he began reading and began writing his first fantasy novel in college. He has since published two novels, won the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Award and earned a Gemmell Morningstar Award nomination. (Bio provided by Gollancz)

 First Impression: I knew this book would be awesome from the moment I received it in the post (Thanks Gollancz!). Not only does it look great, the artwork is superb, but it also looks classy and inviting to read. It was so nice to read a smaller more refined fantasy piece that was not overly focused on world building. Not that I don't enjoy the more dense and detailed fantasy books, I just felt this was a breath of fresh air, with a plot driven style that was filled with quality characters and a simple, elegant and brutal writing style.

Summary of the Story:
Çeda is the youngest pit fighter in the history of Sharakhai.

Renowned in the arena, she's the fearsome, undefeated White Wolf. Though none one but

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Obelisk - Stephen Baxter

OBELISK - Stephen Baxter

Publisher: Gollancz - 18th August 2016

Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Page Count: 309

Format/Genre: Hardback (Science-Fiction)

ISBN/Link To Amazon: 978-1473212749

Audience: Those who love science fiction and alternative history/future plot ideas.

Summed up in one word: Vast

Author Bio: Stephen Baxter is the pre-eminent science fiction writer of his generation. Published around the world he has also won major awards in the U.K. Us, Germany and Japan. Born in 1957 he has degrees from Cambridge and Southampton. He lives in Northumberland with his wife. (Bio from Gollancz)

First Impression: Stephen Baxter is an ambitious and talented author. I was mesmerised by his work and blown away by the scale of his writing ability. OBELISK is a collection of short stories, several based on work he has already published (Ultima and Proxima) and the rest are a compilation of alternative yesterdays, todays and tomorrows, all centred around one core element, Science.

Summary/Intro: Contained within are stories set in the worlds of the best selling duology Ultima and Proxima, which expand on the characters and worlds of that series, including two brand new short stories.

Also included are a selection of alternate histories and possible futures, building on Baxter's work with Terry Pratchett on the Long Earth series.

This collection confirms Stephen Baxter's place as one of the greatest practitioners of the SF short story.
(Synopsis from OBELISK - Stephen Baxter)

Review

Story/Plot/Narration: There is A LOT of content to cover here (I have 5 pages of notes front and back...). 17 short stories in total, so first off, you definitely get your money's with this book. Stephen Baxter is seen as a science fiction icon and I completely agree

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Dream Protocol - Adara Flynn Quick

Book Details

Book Title: The Dream Protocol

Author: Adara Flynn Quick

Publisher
: Adara Quick 2016

Source: Sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review

Page Count: 137

Format/Genre: Paperback (Fantasy)

ISBN/Link To Book On Amazon: 978-0991215041

Audience: Readers who enjoy swift and suspenseful novels with fantasy twist.

Summed up in one word: Promising

Author Bio: Adara Quick has had many jobs, including being a psychotherapist and a college professor. AQ uses her background in psychotherapy to create impressive and mind bending stories. The Dream Protocol is her first novel and the first instalment of a trilogy. 

First Impression: I have had this book on my wishlist for a long time, ever since I read The Fell Hound Of Adversity by Parker T. Geissel and saw an excerpt from this in the back pages of the e-book. Out of the blue, Adara got in contact with me and offered to send me a copy in exchange for a review! It didn't take me long to finish this piece, it is a slim volume at just over 130 pages, though it is packed full of imaginative content and radiates potential for an awesome trilogy.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Associates Of Sherlock Holmes - Various Authors - Edited by George Mann

Book Details

Book Title: Associates Of Sherlock Holmes 

Author: Various Authors (Edited by George Mann)

Publisher
: Titan Books

Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Page Count: 369

Format: Paperback

Genre: Mystery/Crime



ISBN/Link To Book On Amazon: 978-1783299300

Audience: Those who love Sherlock Holmes and wish to see him from a different perspective.

Summed up in one word: Refreshing

Author Bio: There are many authors involved in the writing of this book (14 in total, as far as I know). George Mann has edited this book and produced the finished article so I will focus on his profile for this bio. George Mann is the author of the Newbury and Hobbes and The Ghost series of novels, as well as quite a few short stories, novellas and audio books. He has also written and edited several other of Titan's Sherlock Holmes series including Encounters of Sherlock Holmes, More Encounters of Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: Spirit Box.

First Impression: I was unaware of this series of books until Titan Books offered me a copy to review recently. It was an intriguing experience, reading about Sherlock Holmes from the perspective of his friends and adversaries. Though I don't know much about Sherlock Holmes (I know! We just never crossed paths when I was growing up :/) I was still able to enjoy this book to a great extent.  

Featuring events set within the famous Sherlock Holmes books that everyone knows and loves, shown from a completely different view point. And also some original stories

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Murderer's Daughter - Jonathan Kellerman

Book Details

Book Title: The Murderer's Daughter

Author: Jonathan Kellerman

Publisher
: Headline

Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Page Count: 442

Format: Paperback

Genre: Psychological Thriller

ISBN/Link To Book On Amazon:


Audience: Readers who enjoy a novel full of emotional twists and turns, alongside an intense and sometimes violent search for the truth.

Summed up in one word: Demanding

Rating:

Author Bio: Jonathan Kellerman has brought his expertise as a clinical psychologist to more than thirty bestselling crime novels. He is one of the world's most popular authors, creating plots and characters that are among the most unusual and convincing in crime fiction. 

First Impression: The Murderer's Daughter is both a forcible search for answers to a life altering event and a story of an intelligent girl born into the wrong family. Warning: this book includes content related to orphans and child abuse so be prepared for upsetting scenes in the first act of this book. That said, Grace's rise from the family she was given to the family that she deserved is an outstanding journey and my favourite part of this book. The other half of the story centred around an older Grace Blades trying to figure out the murder of a potential client is also intriguing, giving the reader a series of thrilling and explosive reveals and incidents.

Summary of the Story:
A brilliant and dedicated psychologist, Grace Blades has a gift for treating troubled souls and tormented psyches - because she bears her own invisible scars. Only five years old when she watched her parents die in a bloody murder-suicide, Grace took refuge in her fierce intellect and found comfort in the loving couple who adopted her. But her now-accomplished life has a secret side, ruled by an insatiable desire; by night she pursues the addictive thrills of sexual trysts with strangers. And when her two worlds unexpectedly converge, Grace's past returns with a vengeance, threatening to destroy everything she's fought for - including her life.

Shaken by the murder of her newest patient and fearful that an investigation will expose her double life, Grace sets out to probe the crime herself. But when she stumbles on the dead man's true identity, a horrifying chapter from her childhood is violently reawakened, forcing Grace to confront a decades-old act of evil crying out to be avenged. Suddenly stalked by dangerous men, Grace must turn to the talent for survival she's depended on all her life in order to face down the darkest personal demon she's ever battled: her own.

(*Synopsis given by Headline for The Murderer's Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman*)

Review

Plot: Opening with heart-breaking scenes of an unwanted baby born into a violent and uncaring family filled me with immediate dread and I was concerned with continuing... Fortunately the core of this book is centred around an older and super-sharp version of Dr Grace Blades, with frequent jumps back to little Grace and her unspeakable but eventually heart-warming childhood. The plot involving Dr Blades is cunning, exciting, emotionally unstable and sometimes violent. The other-side to this story that showcases Grace's family dysfunction, her trip through the foster care system and her eventual, much appreciated adoption into a family who love her. This story, to me, is the better part of the book and complements, explains and enhances everything going on in later events. 

Writing Style: Kellerman choose to write this story from two different times in Grace Blades life. He also choose to involve sexual, violent and questionable moral themes, though non of these elements are too overwhelming to the storytelling. What was overwhelming to me (part being a parent but mostly being a caring human being) was the child abuse/violence that occurs in the first act of this book. Although they are cringe worthy and tear inducing, they also set up the remainder of Grace's storyline so they are necessary in the evolution of this psychological thriller.  

Setting: The homes and destinations in this book are used to accentuate the quality of the circumstances that Grace finds herself in. From a trailer park (dysfunction, hunger), to a ranch (openness and hard work), to a mansion (freedom and intellect) and finally a beach (relaxation and solidarity). I think the places that Grace visits on her quests for answers are meant to highlight the vastness/reach that our pasts can cover. 

Characters: Grace Blades turned out quite well considering the atrocities she had to endure to get to adulthood in one piece. She is incredibly intelligent and also amazingly aware of other people, their problems and how they respond to behaviour. In her youth, she spends her time cultivating a persona to protect herself from any harm or rejection, playing the charming girl with good manners and an interest in what people have to say, when in reality she wants to be alone and reading. 

In her later years, after she has studied immensely to obtain a masterful grasp of psychology, she is dedicated to helping others whilst also feeding her own personal desires that have sprouted over her formative years. Other characters in this book act as either assistants or obstacles to Grace's path through life. People like Malcolm and Wayne who help her to survive and thrive. And people like her parents and other children who mean her harm. It was interesting to have a villain that is, for most of the book, an idea of the adult version of the child that Grace met all those years ago who was pure evil.

Themes: Other than Grace herself, the other core element to this book is the argument that - if you are related to a killer, can that affect your own morals/behaviour and increase the likeliness that you will harm others yourself. It is an interesting question and one that Grace considers throughout the book, eventually writing a research paper on it herself. There are a lot of harsh themes in this book and though Grace makes it out the other end in one piece, many other children are left to suffer in the foster care system everyday of their youth. This may be a fictional book but it is rooted in everyday reality and psychology.

Likes: Great Development of Characters. Strong Story Telling. Grace Blades. Intellectual Intensity. Interesting Take On A Villain.

Dislikes: Harsh Themes. Violence. Suffering. Foster Care.

Thoughts on the cover art: Simple and chilling 7/10


Overall: Do I think you should read this book? Yes. Though it may be upsetting at times and gives us insight into foster care reality, this is the rise of a great character, a story of success. And when that success is threatened, this book turns into a hunt for answers and a very enjoyable addition to your thriller collection.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Second Girl - David Swinson

Book Details

Book Title: The Second Girl

Author: David Swinson

Publisher
: Mulholland Books

Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Page Count: 354

Format: Paperback

Genre: Crime/Thriller

ISBN/Link To Book On Amazon: 9781473618169

Audience: Readers who enjoy fast paced, drug fuelled thrillers with a little bit of heart.
Rating:

Summed up in one word: Paradoxical 

Author Bio: David Swinson is a retired police detective who served 16 years with the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department. The Second Girl is Swinson's second novel, his first being A Detailed Man.

First Impression: If you are looking for a non-nonsense thriller that features an unpredictable, drug addicted, ex cop turned private investigator then this is the book for you. A fast paced plot, questionable moral choices, guns, drugs and a P.I with some heart is what you get in The Second Girl and I enjoyed my time within its pages. It doesn't break any new ground, I have read other books with addicted, trouble and heartfelt cops, but it is well written, entertaining, insightful and at times incredibly brutal and intense. 

Summary of the Story:
Frank Marr may be a decorated former cop and the best private investigator Washington DC has ever known, but the city doesn't know his dirty secret.

A high-functioning drug addict, Frank has devoted his considerable skills to hiding his

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Watcher Of Dead Time - Edward Cox

Book Details

Book Title: The Watcher Of Dead Time

Author: Edward Cox

Publisher
: Gollancz

Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Page Count: 358

Format: Paperback

Genre: Fantasy

ISBN/Link To Book On Amazon: 978143200364
Audience: Those who enjoy the darker side of fantasy, with plenty of plot twists and gore.

Rating: 

Summed up in one word: Labyrinthine 

Author Bio: Edward Cox is the author of the awesome RELIC GUILD trilogy. He has a masters degree in creative writing and has taught the same subject at the University of Bedfordshire. 

First Impression: I had not heard of the RELIC GUILD series until I received this book from Gollancz. I was incredibly impressed with The Watcher Of Dead Time, it is the perfect mix of brutal/outstanding magical imagery, gore and complicated plot lines. It was a kind of shame I read this one first, but it means I get to go back and check out The Relic Guild and The Cathedral Of Known Things when I eventually get a chance. If you love a trilogy that you can just throw yourself into and get lost in its lines then you need to check out these books!!

Summary of the Story:
Labrys Town, home to a million humans cut off from the rest of the universe, has been invaded. Those who protected it have been deposed.

The Relic Guild are scattered across the worlds of the Aelfir. Many of them are dead or

Friday, September 09, 2016

A Head Full Of Ghosts - Paul Tremblay

Book Details

Book Title: A Head Full Of Ghosts

Author: Paul Tremblay

Publisher
: Titan Books

Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Page Count: 355

Format: Paperback

Genre: Psychological Horror

ISBN/Link To Book On Amazon: 978-1785653674


Influences: Stephen King, The Exorcist, Found Footage Documentaries.

Audience: Those who enjoy twisted, sinister and scary horror stories :D

Rating: 9/10

Summed up in one word: Ominous 

Author Bio: Paul Tremblay is an American Horror/Fantasy and Science Fiction author/editor. PT has released 10 novels and over 20 short stories as well as multiple anthologies in his career. A movie studio has reportedly already bought the rights to A Head Full of Ghosts. He is a Bram Stoker Award-winning author and has served as the president of the board of directors of the Shirley Jackson Awards.

First Impression: Though I enjoy the horror genre, I do not really get many opportunities to read any due to a high demand for fantasy and science-fiction. I was chuffed when I received this from Titan Books, my first actual horror review. A Head Full Of Ghost is not a gruesome or bloody horror piece (there is blood in it though!), it is a potent mix of psychological and religious horror with some great influences to keep it creepy and shocking. I read this book in 2 sittings and by the end my jaw had hit the floor and I had a

Monday, September 05, 2016

Virtues Of War - Bennett R. Coles

Book Details

Book Title: Virtues Of War

Author: Bennett R. Coles

Publisher
: Titan Books

Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Page Count: 458

Format: Paperback

Genre: Military Science-Fiction

ISBN/Link To Book On Amazon: 978-1783294206


Audience: Those who love both military tactics/content and heavy science-fiction

Summed up in one word: Multiplex

Author Bio: Bennett R. Coles is a Canadian author who spent 15 years in the Royal Canadian Navy. After obtaining a wealth of experience in the Navy, he retired in 2005 and established the publishing company Promontory Press, which is dedicated to helping talented new authors get an audience.

First Impression: Virtues Of War is an intense, war ridden, political blast through deep space and beyond. Having crafted a massive setting for this story and created quite a few characters to populate it, BRC had his work cut out for him. Across almost 500 pages, BRC has managed to combine realistic military politics, language and behaviour with deep space physics and theories. I am going to be completely honest and say that this is a rather heavy read, but by the end I was ultimately impressed with the story and what the trilogy might have in store.


Summary of the Story:

Deep space gun smuggling between two hostile nations is unacceptable. Lieutenant Commander Thomas Kane, Lieutenant Katja Emmes and the other crew of the fast attack craft Rapier are on a mission to smoke out the leader of this gun smuggling operation and stop the terrorists getting their weapons. Upon arrival on their planet, Katja makes some