Thursday, January 16, 2020

Review: Dead Ringer by Kat Ross


DEAD RINGER by Kat Ross


A poisonous secret.
A terrifying curse.
And a client she’d just as soon see dead in a ditch….

Summer 1889. Harrison Fearing Pell hoped for adventure when she signed on with the Society for Psychical Research as an occult investigator. Slogging through New York’s sewers in pursuit of a “mud man” wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. But the reeking monster terrorizing the dance halls of the Tenderloin leads her to an even more peculiar mystery — and the last man on earth Harry wishes to become entangled with.

James Moran is a prodigy in music, mathematics . . . and crime. Harry’s older sister, the famed detective Myrtle Fearing Pell, has vowed to put him behind bars. But Harry owes Moran a personal debt, so when he demands her aid she can hardly refuse. It turns out that the brilliant black sheep of New York Society is part of a secret club at Columbia College whose members have started dying in bizarre ways that may not be accidents.

Thus begins one of the strangest cases of Harry’s career, a tale of murder, cold-blooded revenge and fairytale bogeymen to make the Brothers Grimm shudder. As the bodies pile up, each preceded by sightings of the victim’s doppelgänger, Harry and her stalwart friend John Weston must race against time to save a man who arguably deserves his macabre fate.



 
 
 
 
Oh boy! This book! THIS BOOK!

PEAKY BLINDERS MEETS FINAL DESTINATION! Nope, I can't elaborate on that--spoiler, spoiler! What I can tall you is that this might well be my favorite in the series (at least so far).

I was charmed by the enigmatic Mr. Moran since it was first introduced in The Daemoniac (you can read my review here and I couldn't wait to see him again and in Dead Ringer, finally---FINALLY WE GET MORE OF A GLIMPSE OF THE CHARMING CRIME LORD.

Of course I was also glad to see Harry & John again, those two have such a wonderful working chemistry--more than once Harry wouldn't have found the solution without John's help and/or insights.

I loved every bit of interaction between James & Harry, they were real fun. I was grinning like a madwoman, especially when he playfully flirts with her and she's having none of it... all the opposite (He also seems to have a knack for finding her in the direst outfits LOL).
The last time I had such fun reading and exchange was with Serpent & Dove but before that...I can't even remember what year it was.

Between golems at large, murders, odd turns of luck, murky pasts and the likes ---I really can't decide what I liked more, probably how they all fit together--it reminded me of the best crime novels/tv series out there.

Dead Ringer is such a masterpiece! The last chapter was so entertaining and sweet … I'm still starry eyed! (no Myrtle, I still don't like you). I look forward to the next time I see Harry & John again---and of course JAMES MORAN (He deserves a spin-off on its own, if you ask me...)

Rating: 


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Spotlight: Hamartia by Raquel Rich


Hamartia by Raquel Rich


 
Genre: Time travel thriller
Audience: Adults
Length: 338 pages
 
Blurb: 
Grace’s nine-year-old son, Jordan, is dying. First, the Metagenesis disease will tear his soul from his body, and then it will kill him. Desperate for a cure, Grace agrees to take part in an illegal clinical trial cloning souls. Supported by her best friend Kay, the two embark on the ultimate “Vegas Vacation” to the past in search of the right soul to clone, racing against time to save Jordan’s life. But someone is trying to stop them and when they discover why, Grace must make a choice: let her son die or kill her husband. If she kills her husband she triggers widespread Metagenesis, sealing the fate of the human race with a new plague. Humanity is counting on Grace choosing to let her son die.



“Rich spins an ambitious and imaginative concept into a plot that’s full of fantastically complicated twists. . . . Throughout, the narrative raises and resolves questions at a brisk pace, making for a compelling page-turner.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Hamartia is a huge success on all levels, including the unpredictable plot, the strong characters, and skillful handling of the themes of life and death and an imminent plague.” – Readers Favorite (five star review)
   

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Review: The Clockmaker's Daughter



Review: 

THE CLOCKMAKER'S DAUGHTER by KATE MORTON



From the bestselling author of The House at Riverton and The Secret Keeper, Kate Morton brings us her dazzling sixth novel, The Clockmaker's Daughter.

My real name, no one remembers.
The truth about that summer, no one else knows.


In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe's life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist's sketchbook containing a drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker's Daughter is a story of murder, mystery and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker's daughter.





Many many thanks to the publisher (and NetGalley) for a free electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review.


I was super excited to get my hands on an arc.
"(...) the story of a love affair and a mysterious murder that cast their shadow across generations, set in England from the 1860's until the present day" I was hooked from the very premise and I'm quite happy to let you know that the Clockmaker's Daughter didn't disappoint. Yes, I had a couple or more issue with it but I did enjoy it, more than that... I still fell in love with it.

My main issue with the book  was Eloise and her-er-dull romance with Alistair. (though, dull is still an understatement). She and the romance (if you can call the thigh they share "romance") were a real bother to read. I wanted to slap her out of it most of the time from page one it was painflully clear that she didn't love him, too bad she needs 3/4 of the book to understand it. I really couldn't stand her attitude <spoiler> (what woman in her right mind lets her future mother-in-law organize her wedding from start to finish without basically getting a word it. WTF?!<)<spoiler>
Another main issue was the time lines, at times it was really confusing (and I'm used to Doctor Who and jumping timelines after all—just sayin’).
Anyway, to me real treat were the parts dedicated to Lily, Edward and their past. More than that I loved every bit of it . I really can't explain but at the end I felt like crying (and I rarely do). I felt sad on their behalf not that I was expecting an happy ending but still... The end tore my heart apart and left me with a bitter aftertaste, so much I did care.

I will be buying a paperback copy of the Clockmaker's dautgher  so I can enjoy this wonderful and tear-stained read time and time again.




Monday, August 6, 2018

Pirates: Truth And Tales - Guest post: Why Pirates? by Helen Hollick







Why Pirates?
by Helen Hollick

Helen has written a series of nautical Voyages based around her fictional pirate, Captain Jesamiah Acorne and his ship, Sea Witch, but her latest UK release in paperback is a non-fiction book – Pirates: Truth and Tales published by Amberley Press, which explores our fascination with the real pirates and those who are favourites in fiction. Today,  Helen drops anchor for another interesting addition to her on-line two-week Voyage around the Blogs with a pirate or two for company… but Helen… why pirates?


Why do many of us – readers, writers or just plain enthusiasts – have such a fascination with pirates? Let’s face it, the real men (and women) of the early 1700s so-called ’Golden Age of Piracy’ were not nice people. Leaving aside that they must have stank to high-heaven, were full of fleas and lice and probably had unpleasant sexually transmitted diseases, most of them would as soon cut your throat as look at you. Those of us who enjoy reading pirate-based novels, watching swashbuckling movies or dressing up in pirate costume to attend a party or one of the pirate festivals that happen in the UK and US, tend to  turn a blind eye (complete with pirate-patch) to the gruesome reality.

I blame Johnny Depp, or more accurately, Jack Sparrow. Apologies. Captain Jack Sparrow. Between them they resurrected the interest in pirates that had first been set in motion during the great days of Hollywood when actors such as Errol Flynn cut a dash with his cutlass across the Silver Screen. The Disney Pirates of the Caribbean franchise let the genie (pirate?) out of the bottle again, and no one has re-stoppered it since. (I only include the first movie, The Curse of the Black Pearl, the others varied from not very good to downright terrible.)

We do not want reality, we get enough of that in our everyday lives. We want our heroes rugged and ‘fresh from the fight’, as the song lyric goes. We enjoy these adventures because they are not real. It is the danger the hero must face, the within-an-inch-of-his-life death-defying scenes. The ability to keep on fighting / running / bedroom antics even though shot / wounded / kicked in a vulnerable place where real men would be curled up on the floor clutching their nether regions howling in agony. You know these heroes are going to get out of trouble; the thrill, the excitement, is not knowing how they do so. It is the journey that intrigues, not the destination. Pirates doing piratical things is exciting. We want them to succeed against all odds, although they have to go to hell and back first. Our heroes have to be tough, maybe a bit mean, but they must also be loyal and dependable.

As for the inclusion of fantasy, the suspense of belief is a part of the entertaining escapism. What I found frustrating after I had watched POC#1 for the nth time, was not being able to find an adult novel to match the fun. There were plenty of ‘straight’ nautical adventures – O’Brian, Forrester and such. Several very good young adult adventures included fantasy, but YA tends to be subtle (or entirely lacking) on the ‘adult’ content. I wanted a hero to die for, a handsome rogue of a pirate. I wanted a believable element of fantasy for his girlfriend and I wanted the ship itself to be as much of a character as the crew, but I couldn’t find the novel I wanted to read. So I wrote my own. Sea Witch

Trouble follows Jesamiah Acorne like a ship’s wake. He is a pirate, a scoundrel and a charmer of a rogue. Tiola Oldstagh is a healer, a midwife and a white witch. Will she capture his heart - or will the call of the sea drown their love? Will he get his girl, or will the hangman get him first?

I originally intended Sea Witch to be a one-off single novel but I am currently writing the sixth in the series, Gallows Wake – seventh if you include a short ‘prequel’ novella, When The Mermaid Sings. You see, my hero, Jesamiah, strode into my life several years ago and stole my heart. He still hasn’t returned it, nor is he likely to, but then, he is a pirate and that’s what pirates do isn’t it? Steal things!

© Helen Hollick
Pirates: Truth And Tales published in paperback in the UK July 2018 and November 2018 in the US – but available for pre-order.

Buy the Books: Her

Sign up for Helen’s Newsletter and be entered for an annual prize draw.
One name ‘picked from the hat’ in December will win a £10/$10 Amazon gift voucher.
Subscribe here

LINKS:
Twitter: @HelenHollick

Follow Helen’s Tour:
These links will take you to the Home Page of each blog host – Helen says thank you for their interest and enthusiasm! For exact URL links to each article go to Helen’s website:  www.helenhollick.net  which will be updated every day of the tour.

30th July: Cryssa Bazos  https://cryssabazos.com/ Dropping Anchor to Talk About Pirates
31st July: Anna Belfrage  https://annabelfrage.wordpress.com/ Ships That Pass…
1st August: Carolyn Hughes https://carolynhughesauthor.com/blog/ Pirates of the Middle Ages
2nd August: Alison Morton   https://alison-morton.com/blog/ From Pirate to Emperor
3rd August: Annie Whitehead https://rwranniewhitehead.blogspot.com/ The Vikings: Raiders or Pirates?
4th August: Tony Riches http://tonyriches.blogspot.co.uk/ An Interview With Helen Hollick (and maybe a couple of pirates thrown in for good measure?)
5th August: Lucienne Boyce http://francesca-scriblerus.blogspot.com/ Anne and Mary. Pirates.
6th August: Laura Pilli http://fieldofbookishdreams.blogspot.co.uk/ Why Pirates?
7th August: Mary Tod https://awriterofhistory.com/ That Essential Element… For A Pirate.
8th August: Pauline Barclay http://paulinembarclay.blogspot.com/ Writing Non-Fiction. How Hard Can It Be?   
9th August: Nicola Smith http://shortbookandscribes.uk/ Pirates: The Tales Mixed With The Truth
10th August: Christoph Fischer https://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/ In The Shadow Of The Gallows
11th August: Debdatta http://www.ddsreviews.in/ What Is It About Pirates?
12th August: Discovering Diamonds https://discoveringdiamonds.blogspot.co.uk/ It’s Been An Interesting Voyage…
13th August: Sarah Greenwood https://www.amberley-books.com/blog Pirates: The Truth and the Tales
14th August: Antoine Vanner https://dawlishchronicles.com/dawlish-blog/ The Man Who Knew About Pirates


ABOUT HELEN:

Helen moved from London in 2013 and now lives with her family in North Devon, in an eighteenth century farmhouse. First published in 1994, her passion now is her pirate character, Captain Jesamiah Acorne of the nautical adventure series, The Sea Witch Voyages. Helen became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (UK title A Hollow Crown) the story of Saxon Queen, Emma of Normandy. Her novel Harold the King (US title I Am The Chosen King) explores the events that led to the 1066 Battle of Hastings. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy, set in the fifth century, is widely praised as a more down-to-earth historical version of the Arthurian legend. She has written three non-fiction books, Pirates: Truth and Tales, Smugglers in Fact and Fiction (to be published 2019) and as a supporter of indie writers, co-wrote Discovering the Diamond with her editor, Jo Field, a short advice guide for new writers. She runs the Discovering Diamonds review blog for historical fiction assisted by a team of enthusiastic reviewers.  

Helen is published in various languages. 




Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Cover reveal: The Connelly Boys


The Connelly Boys
Lily Velez
(Celtic Witches, #1)
Publication date: September 13th 2018
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
The Connelly boys are practically royalty at St. Andrew’s Prep. Popular, wealthy, and devastatingly beautiful, the four brothers have long cast a spell over their classmates and over the sleepy seaport town of Rosalyn Bay, Ireland.
There’s only one problem: they’re also cursed.
…Or so the rumors say.
Seventeen-year-old newcomer Scarlet Monroe has never been one for rumors, but when she inadvertently banishes a demon while trying to help eldest brother Jack Connelly, the most breathtaking of the boys and the one to whom she feels inexplicably drawn, she quickly discovers there may be more to the local superstitions and folklore than she originally thought.
Before long, she’s pulled into a dark and mysterious world filled with ancient magic, powerful spells, kidnapped souls, and deadly enemies. But none of it compares to discovering the truth of who she really is…or what she’ll have to become to defeat a rising evil older than humankind itself before she loses everyone she loves—that is, of course, if she can survive the world of the Connellys long enough.
Don’t miss this first installment in the new dark fantasy series by Lily Velez, which features Irish folklore, Celtic mythology, mystery and light romance, and an engrossing world of witches and magic that will keep you reading long into the night!


Author Bio:
Lily Velez has been writing stories since she was six years old. Not much has changed since then. She still prefers the written word and her overactive imagination over the ‘real world’ (though to be fair, her stories no longer feature talking dinosaurs). A graduate of Rollins College and a Florida native, when she's not reading or writing, she spends most of her days wrangling up her pit bulls Noah and Luna, planning exciting travel adventures, and nursing her addiction to cheese. All this when she isn’t participating in the extreme sport known as napping. You can learn more about Lily and her books at www.lilyvelezbooks.com.

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Friday, July 27, 2018

Book blitz: Veiled Waters


Veiled Waters
H.G. Lynch
(Unfortunate Blood, #5)
Publication date: July 24th 2018
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
They’ve faced ghosts, fought witches, and escaped the clutches of a lunatic cult…but this may be their most difficult enemy yet.
The new girl. One girl with the power to take Reid’s eye away from Ember, the power to break friendships, the power to destroy relationships.
And to top it off? Something is drowning students in the local lake.
Previous books in the series:
EXCERPT:
“REID!”
A sudden, familiar voice yelling his name from some great distance jerked him awake and he gasped. All he saw at first was endless, impenetrable blackness, but only for a second before his eyes adjusted and he was staring at the ceiling past Ricky’s concerned face. The younger boy’s eyes glowed blue-green in the darkness.
Slowly, Reid realized his heart was pounding on his ribs, he was gasping, and his hand was clenched tightly around Ricky’s wrist, so tightly he could feel it as a tiny bone snapped under his fingers. Ricky hissed in pain, but didn’t try to pull away, his mouth tight but his eyes gentle. With a shudder, Reid pulled his hand back to himself, and stared at Ricky with ghosts behind his eyes.
“Sorry,” he muttered apologetically, his voice hoarse. Had he been screaming in his sleep again? Most likely. No wonder Ricky had woken him. This was getting beyond ridiculous.
Ricky just nodded, rubbing his wrist as it healed swiftly and neatly. He was examining Reid carefully, kneeling on the floor by his bed. There was deep, serious worry in his face that Reid could read effortlessly in the dark. Not wanting to see it, Reid turned and glared at the useless dream-catcher on his wall. It hung there innocuously, the glass beads shining and the feathers still and pale against the dark wall.
“I guess I was right the first time; Feathers and beads do jack all to help nightmares,” he said shakily.
With a sigh, Ricky retreated back to his own bed and sat there, gazing evenly at Reid, who shifted uncomfortably. He noticed then that he was drenched in sweat and it was sending chills down his spine. His light hair clung to his forehead and ears, and his hands trembled on the mattress. He clutched the bed sheets to hide the shaking.
“They’re getting worse, aren’t they?” Ricky asked plainly, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees.
Not meeting his gaze, Reid nodded, running a hand through his messy, damp hair.
“There has to be something that would help. We could get you drugs, or Ember could make a potion I’m sure. We must have a recipe in one of the grimoires.Ember would have the power—”
“No,” Reid protested bluntly. The thought of Ricky going to Ember and asking her to make a sleeping potion or elixir to banish nightmares…her surprise and confusion, her hurt when Ricky explained what it was for…No.
Ricky started, frowning. “But why? It’s not like it’d put her out to do it. I’m sure she’d do anything to help you.” he insisted.
Reid just turned away, looked out the window as he got to his feet. He put his back to Ricky as he yanked his damp t-shirt over his head and tossed it onto his bed.
“Unless…” Ricky said slowly, and Reid could practically hear the gears turning in the boy’s head. “Unless she doesn’t know about this yet…”


Author Bio:
H.G. Lynch is a Paranormal Romance author from Scotland. She is an avid reader, and cat-lover. She spends most of her days writing, while wrestling her cat off her laptop. She loves horse-riding, Star Trek, and snow.
Her books are dark paranormal romances.

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Book Blitz: The Dociles


The Dociles
Valerie Puri
Publication date: July 12th 2018
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Walls are meant to keep the monsters out…
Deep in the forest there is a wall where no wall should be. Behind it live the people of the Commune, the last remnant of human kind.
Jennie Caraway has lived behind the wall her entire life, certain that it protects her and her brother from the lemerons, ravenous undead monsters whose only desire is to kill – and feed.
Jennie’s peaceful existence is shattered when she uncovers a secret organization whose purpose threatens to destroy not only Jennie, but her entire world. The Order has a deadly mission, and they will stop at nothing to see it completed.
Jennie and those closest to her must expose the evil truth before they are killed – or worse.
EXCERPT:
Ethan
The ranger had feared he might risk encountering a lemeron that night; anyone who came too close to one rarely lived to tell the tale. The torrential rains and the intense darkness had made it nearly impossible for him to see. As he ventured through the blackness, finding his way with his outstretched hands, he couldn’t shake the feeling something bad was about to happen.
That’s when the lightning began, giving him intermittent visibility. He saw the skeletal figure stagger forward becoming visible through the heavy rain. The blotchy-grey flesh of the lemeron sagged from its bones and hung like ill-fitting clothing. It released a guttural moan causing the ranger to go rigid.
When he saw the lemeron approaching him, the ranger turned and hurried in a new direction, one perpendicular to his previous course. After putting some distance between himself and the monster, the ranger took care to disguise himself in the underbrush growing beneath a tall tree. He gazed in the direction he had just come from to see if the lemeron followed him. The loud pounding of his heart in his ears made him aware of its rapid pace. He tried to slow his heart rate if only to hear better, but it was to no avail.
He was startled by a crack behind him, the sound of a stick breaking underfoot. His fear turned to terror as he felt a boney hand seize his left arm. As the ranger spun around, the firm grip tightened, and sharp fingernails pierced his skin. The blood drained from his face at the sight. He was staring into the grey, sagging face of a lemeron.
He struggled and tried to pull away from the monster, but the action only made it clench tighter, its fingernails digging deeper and deeper into his arm. The cloudy, yellow eyes of the lemeron were wide and hungry. Its green lips parted, exposing blackened teeth. It lunged at him with its fully bared teeth.
The ranger was certain he would die in that moment. He frantically grabbed for the dagger hanging from his belt, his trembling fingers wrapped around the cold handle. He drew the blade from its sheath and instinctively swung it upward. His attack cut diagonally through the lemeron’s chest, sending it stumbling backward, but it was not enough for the monster to release him. Brown, congealed blood oozed from the rotting flesh. The ranger raised his dagger high above his head, and with all his strength, brought the blade down. His aim was good, and the small blade sliced through the monster’s wrist, severing the hand, thus releasing the ranger from its grasp. A crackling groan escaped from its throat, not from pain – lemerons feel no pain – but from anger.
The ranger ran mindlessly through the darkness, stumbling over the tangle of slippery roots covering the forest floor. He had to put as much distance between himself and the lemeron as possible. He smashed into a tree, not noticing it was in his path. Searing pain exploded through his left shoulder, and a rush of warm liquid ran down his arm. It must be my blood, he thought. His arm felt like it was on fire, but he could not stop to tend to it. He could hear the beast crashing through the underbrush behind him.
His head pounded, his heart raced, adrenalin surged through his veins, and his muscles begged him to stop running. Suddenly he slammed into something massive. The force of the impact knocked him on his back and the air rushed from his lungs. Dazed, he lay on the soaked ground while the freezing raindrops battered his face. He remained horizontal and motionless until he was able to recover his breath and regain control of his limbs.
The ranger stood up and reached his hand out in front of him to feel what had stopped him. The oppressive night was growing ever darker as the storm raged; he could barely see his hand in front of his face. He touched something smooth and hard – it felt like stone. Lightning ripped across the sky in a spider web of brilliant streaks. In the prolonged flash, the ranger saw a stone wall extending as far as he could see in either direction.
He was trapped. His only options were to go backward or to go forward. Behind him was the lemeron, and in front of him was a wall four times the height of a man. Frantically, he felt the surface with his hands and discovered crevices large enough to use as footholds where the large stones met. Quickly making his decision, he climbed the wall not knowing what he would find on the other side.


Author Bio:
Valerie Puri has always had a lifelong interest in all forms of artistic expression. She has tried her hand at many things, yet she always found her way back to reading and writing. With inspiration everywhere, she finally put pen to paper (or rather, fingers to keyboard) with the intent of publishing her stories.
Writing has always come naturally to Valerie, and for a time she even worked as a technical writer. She continues to hone her skills by having at least one writing project in the works at any given time. Her true passion lies in the freedom that comes with writing the stories that pour from her imagination and real life inspiration.
Valerie believes that the experiences we have in life are just stories waiting to be written.

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