Review of ‘Faberge’ by Jo Fenton

Becky, Joanna and Will at the White Knight Detective Agency take on the case of a Faberge Egg theft. Nothing is as it seems, and the trio soon discover that the thieves will stop at nothing to get away with their prize. Worth millions, the egg has brought out the worst in those involved, and solving the case is vital lest anyone else gets hurt. Can they find the people behind it before it is too late? 

I must admit that not having read any previous books in this series it took me a beat to familiarise myself with the characters and their relationships and backgrounds. But once I did, I raced through this book. It was fantastic and quickly became tense and exciting. So much so that I couldn’t put it down. 

I found the characters so realistic. They were normal people with normal everyday problems. Maybe that is what made them such good detectives.  Their own problems had an impact on the case too. I loved the naturalistic dialogue, which made me believe in these characters. 

The pace really hots up as the story progresses, and I couldn’t look away. I had to keep reading. I could see this story on the prime time  Sunday night slot on TV. It would work so well as a TV drama. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Leap’ by O.C. Heaton

‘Leap’ by O C Heaton is a sci-fi thriller, taking in the glacial wastelands of Iceland. Uma has high hopes for her LEAP device. She believes it is the answer to global warming, and tries to persuade billionaire tech giant Ethan Rae to help her launch it. But dangerous playboy Samuel Reynolds III wants it for his own nefarious plans, and the pair find themselves in grave danger. Can they save themselves, and ultimately the whole world? LEAP is too important to fall into the hands of someone like Reynolds, but it will take all they’ve got to defeat him.

I found the idea of the LEAP device enthralling. If such tech existed it would solve so many of the world’s problems. I could see why Uma was so determined to make it work for the good. From the moment she tells Ethan about it, the story is thrilling and full-on excitement. O C Heaton writes in short, impactful chapters, and this makes it all the more powerful. 

Just when you think you know where it’s going, there’s a surprise and a twist. 

It’s a thought provoking story, with so many questions. Questions many of us ask ourselves every day.  It kept my interest throughout. I found it to be well written and compelling. And I’m keen to read the next in the series. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Stolen Ambition’ by Robyn Nyx

‘Stolen Dreams’ by Robyn Nyx is set in the world of Mexican drug cartels, where escaping the clutches of the drug lords is a dream to which few can aspire. Luca Romera has been betrayed and finds herself trapped on a drug farm, with little prospect of a free life. Marissa Vargas, the beautiful and kind daughter of the cartel boss, has her own reasons for wanting out. But freedom seems just as elusive for her. As the pair become entwined in a fight for survival, they must rely on each other, and hope that they can flee before anyone finds out. Will their growing feelings for each other be enough to keep their dreams alive? And will they ever break free from the desperation and fear of life under Marissa’s evil father?

We can always rely on Robyn Nyx to ramp up the tension, and this story was no exception. The suspense was immense and I couldn’t put it down. She pitched the fear of living under the drug lords perfectly. It was brutal and scary, and individuals meant nothing to those making money from their labour. I could feel the sense of hopelessness in those forced to toil in the fields.

The relationship between Marissa and Luca was intense, emotional, and so passionate. It‘s the best written love story between any of her characters. I’ve read all of her books so far and this tops them all. It felt so real and immersive from the start. Being forced to share a plan for escape pulled the women together, but the attraction was already there, and grew stronger as they fought to survive the carnage.

I also appreciated the various ‘Easter Eggs’ scattered throughout the story. If you’re a fan of lesfic, you’ll pick up on those quickly. A brilliant story I can see myself going back to again and again. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘The Mysterious Case of The Alperton Angels’ by Janice Hallett

‘The Mysterious Case Of The Alperton Angels’ by Janice Hallett is the third book I have read by this author, and I continue to be in awe of her talent. Her style is bold and modern, and communication is at the core of her storytelling. She uses WhatsApp messages and emails to open up the story, and it is extremely effective. 

Almost two decades after the Alperton Angels cult imploded, with the suicide of many of its members, Amanda Bailey is commissioned to write a book on the subject. But she’s not the only one. Her old rival Oliver Menzies hopes to uses his connections to beat her to it. But as they look into what really happened, it becomes apparent that collaboration is the only way to find out the truth. 

The cult, and its charismatic leader, convinced two teenagers that a newborn baby was the anti-Christ and must die to save the world from evil. The girl came to her senses in time and saved the child. But where is she? And what happened to the baby? Amanda is determined to find out, but the darkness she finds is so much stranger and takes her in directions she could not have imagined. 

The way the story is written made me compelled to keep reading. It was addictive. More and more clues are slowly revealed and it’s thrilling, dark and twisty.  The first ‘WOW’ moment knocked me off my chair, followed by another and then another . Ingenious storytelling at its very best.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘How To Write A Winning Fiction Book Outline – Crime Workbook’ by Hackney And Jones

If you are interested in writing crime fiction – and doing it well – then this is the workbook for you. I’ve wanted to write a crime novel for a long time, but couldn’t see how to bring all of the elements together. I would start with an idea, but failed to get to the finishing line. This workbook has changed that for me.

Hackney and Jones have used their considerable experience as novelists to compile a workbook that will take you from that seed of an idea, to a novel that is ready to be published. They even show you how to find editors and cover designers and how to write that all important blurb.

I learned how to structure each chapter, how to flesh out characters, and how to plot a compelling story that readers will want to devour. They also showed me what works in the crime genre and what definitely does not. They show what the best-selling crime books contain and how to tailor your own story to the market.

I found it compelling and the best writing workbook I’ve tried.

Review of ‘A Song Of Winter’ by Andrew James Greig

‘A Song Of Winter’ by Andrew James Greig is the chilling and evocative story of an event that changes the world forever.  In Edinburgh a warmer than usual winter gives rise to a sudden and significant fall of snow. Disappearing students, disturbing climate research and a government intent on keeping it all secret combine to start a chain of events that Professor Finlay Hamilton cannot stop.  His own research into dark matter seems to be playing a part, and he needs to act before it is too late. He must save his wife Jess and young children from what is to come. That means trusting someone from Jess’s past, and realising that there is more to Jess than he first thought. As the snow continues unabated, Jess needs to use everything she knows to get her family to safety. 

‘A Song Of Winter’ was compulsive reading – maybe due to the fact that I didn’t think it was out-with the realms of possibility that such a scenario might happen. It was beautifully written and kept my attention . I couldn’t put it down. It would make an amazing film or TV series.

It is far and away the best book I’ve read this year. It’s an astonishing story of survival and hope against the most terrible of odds. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Aurora’ by David Koepp

‘Aurora’ by David Koepp is sure to make quite an impact this year. Set in the present day, it is the story of a family and their struggles to survive the aftermath of a solar storm – a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection). The event causes electrical power to go out across the world, and no-one knows how long it will last. Aubrey and her stepson have to find a way to work together to get through a complete change in their lives and those of their neighbours. They soon discover just how much we rely on electricity for every aspect of our lives. Going back to a pre-electrical era is scary. Aubrey’s billionaire brother foresaw such an event and has plans in place to ride out the storm. But life doesn’t always work out the way you plan. How will society cope with being thrown back into what seems like the Stone Age? 

I must admit to loving disaster movies, so this book was right up my street. In fact the book is going to be made into a movie. I was not surprised to hear this, as it is perfect for such an adaptation. David Koepp is a well-known screenwriter, and it shows in the structure of the novel. It is wonderfully descriptive, with short, punchy scenes that captured my imagination. 

The story is told from various characters’ point of view and lets us see how all levels of society deal with such a cataclysmic event.  It’s about finding strength in adversity. Some thrive, and some become an even worse version of themselves. It’s about learning and taking responsibility. 

I loved it.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Let Love Be Enough’ by Robyn Nyx

With ‘Let Love Be Enough’ Robyn Nyx has taken her characters into some of the most depraved corners of society and brought them out the other side. Madison Ford is an award winning journalist whose work ensures she has enemies all over the world. Her articles require her to take risks and come into contact with the worst elements of society. Elodie Fontaine is Hollywood’s darling and at the top of her career. But it is her humanitarian work that interests Madison. When she gets a chance to interview the star, she finds an attraction she was not expecting. An investigation into organ trafficking brings them together and with the danger comes a closeness that neither can deny. 

The story is well written, engaging and powerful. The subject matter deals with disturbing issues and extremely distasteful people. Nyx shows how damaged some people are by the start they get in life. Some escape, others do not.  There is appalling violence, and those who spiral further into the darkest depths show no mercy.

The light comes from the growing relationship between Madison and Elodie. They are passionate, intense and reach extreme heights of sexual compatibility. Finding your person will do that. I really enjoyed their story.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘In Place of Fear’ by Catriona McPherson

‘In Place of Fear’ by Catriona McPherson is set in Edinburgh in 1948, at the birth of the NHS. Helen begins a new job as Medical Almoner, which is a welfare role within the practice. Whatever the doctors can’t help with medically, will normally fall under her remit. Her family don’t seem happy that she’s even working, never mind with two male doctors. They are of the opinion that a married woman should be having babies and staying at home. There is also the inverted snobbery attitude that she is trying to rise above her station in life, and girls like her from the poor tenements should be working in factories, not a doctor’s office. When Helen stumbles across a dead body, she finds her herself investigating the murkier side of life. It seems people will stop at nothing to prevent scandal, and by poking her nose in, Helen is in grave danger. 

I have read Catriona McPherson’s Dandy Silver series set in the 1920s and enjoyed them immensely. This is very different, in that the heroine is a working class woman, dealing with the harsh realities of life just after the Second World War. The historical aspects of the new NHS fascinated me. Its inception made life bearable for so many people and continues to this day, despite the efforts of some politicians.

The descriptions of Edinburgh in the 1940s felt so real and so desperate. The poverty was appalling still. The use of local language and dialect gave it a gritty reality, and I hope that those reading out-with Scotland will appreciate its richness.

The mystery is well told, as Helen delves into the seedy underbelly of Edinburgh, and finds out some secrets that others will kill to keep hidden. It was tense and compelling. There was also love and loyalty and a desire to make things better. I loved it.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Legacy In The Blood’ by Catherine Maiorisi

‘Legacy In The Blood’ is an intelligent, complex and thought-provoking crime novel, with believable and well written characters. NYPD Detectives Chiara Corelli and P.J. Parker are partners assigned to the suspicious death of a man in a park. When they begin to investigate further, the victim’s complicated life opens up a whole new avenue of questions. Ned Rich was an investigative reporter with a lifestyle way above that of a journalist. Where was he getting this extra money? The answer may explain why he was killed. As family secrets are unearthed, and a link to the white supremacist movement, the detectives find the danger brought to their own doors. 

This is the first book in this particular series that I have read and I had no trouble jumping right in and grasping the backstory. The relationship between the two detectives has certain nuances that are well explained by the author. I liked their rapport and I liked them. The descriptions of New York were excellent and it is clear that Catherine Maiorisi knows her way around. It made the story all the more authentic. I also loved the diversity of the characters in terms of race, age and sexuality. The story has good, tight plotting and flowed well. I felt completely invested. I can’t believe it has taken me so long to read this author’s work, but I feel compelled to go back and find more. A top-notch crime novel.

I was given this ARC to review.