Book Review: Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham @michaelrobotham @ScribnerBooks

Good Girl, Bad Girl
Michael Robotham
Scribner, July 2019
ISBN 978-1-9821-0360-6
Hard Cover

Cyrus Haven is a forensic psychologist and he has been asked to evaluate a young woman, Evie Cormac, who is demanding to be released from a children’s home.  Six years ago Evie was discovered hiding in a secret room where the body of a man, who had been brutally tortured and murdered, was found.  Cyrus is intrigued by Evie, who has never revealed her real name, how old she is or where she came from.

Cyrus is also called in to investigate the murder of a local girl, a champion figure-skater, Jodie Sheehan, who is found on a local footpath.  Jodie, a pretty and popular high-schooler, appeared to have a perfect life, but as Cyrus delves into the lives of the girl’s family and friends, he learns all is not as it seems. Jodie had a secret and one that Evie knows something about.

Cyrus himself has a tragic past and the fact that he’s chosen an occupation where he helps victims and people who’ve been put through emotional trauma makes him doubly interesting. The characters are three dimensional and easy to like. And as the inside cover of the book says ‘Cyrus is caught between two cases – one girl who needs saving and another who needs justice.’

Robotham lives in Australia but sets his novels in England.  He has won numerous awards for his previous series,  where his protagonist is Joseph O’Loughlin, a psychologist who works with Detective Inspector Vincent Ruiz in London.

Good Girl, Bad Girl is a fast read…I couldn’t put it down… and I was happy to learn that this book is the start of a brand new series.  Hooray is all I can say… Can’t wait for the next one!!!!

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, July 2019.

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Book Review: Blood by Maggie Gee @maggiegeewriter @FentumPress

Blood
Maggie Gee
Fentum Press, July 2019
ISBN 978-1-909572-12-6
Trade Paperback

Albert Ludd is a physically and verbally abusive dentist, who also cheats the National Health Service and forces his patients to have sex with him. He has six children, who all hate him in different ways. When the book opens, his youngest son Fred, has been killed in Afghanistan. His father bullied him into joining the Army, and when there was a memorial gathering for Fred, dad didn’t bother to show up.

Daughter Monica, a six foot tall, awkward, teacher, is irate at their father for skipping the get-together, and buys an axe before having a showdown with dad. She finds him, battered and bloodied, in his home. Believing that she killed him, she abandons her car and runs off through the neighborhood before the police track her down.

The book is told from the points of view of Monica, a wildly unreliable narrator, and Adoncia, one of the dentist’s patients and rape victims. The author poses the question: can the victims of bullying men fight back against them and their violence? Full of dark humor and contemporary British slang, this book may not be everyone’s cuppa.

Reviewed by Susan Belsky, August 2019.

Book Review: Cold Bones by David Mark @davidmarkwriter @MulhollandUK

Cold Bones
A DS McAvoy Novel #8
David Mark
Mulholland Books, January 2019
ISBN 978-1-473-64319-2
Hardcover

Cold Bones is the 8th and latest novel in Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy’s series written by David Mark and set in Hull, East Yorkshire, England. It begins when McAvoy, who is dropping his daughter off at school, is approached by another parent. Knowing he’s with the police, she tells him she’s worried about an elderly lady who lives near her, but who she hasn’t seen for a few days. McAvoy offers to check on the neighbour and discovers the elderly lady, Enid Chappell, frozen to death in her bathtub.

After determining the woman has in fact been murdered, McAvoy calls it in. While he waits for the forensic team, he wanders from room to room in search of something that might give him an idea why this woman was murdered. When he spots a crossword puzzle with only one question attempted, he’s surprised that the letters spell out M C A V. He’s sure he doesn’t know the victim but can’t help wondering if there is a connection.

McAvoy’s investigation grows more complex when two elderly men, both retired trawler fishermen, are found murdered in an empty warehouse owned by Stephen Ballantine a local man businessman whose father, a trawler fisherman, was lost at sea before Stephen was born. McAvoy’s instincts tell him that the murder of Enid Chappell and the brutal killing of the two fishermen are connected. But the Area Commander, David Slattery, doesn’t agree and orders McAvoy to concentrate on the old woman’s death.

McAvoy tries to do as he’s ordered, but as his detectives dig into Enid Chappell’s background he learns she had been a well respected social worker dealing mostly with the close knit community of Trawler fishermen and their families.

Meanwhile McAvoy’s boss Superintendent Trish Pharaoh is in Iceland looking into the loss of a fishing trawler, where the ship’s owner and two crew members perished, their bodies never having been recovered. She hasn’t told McAvoy where she is or what has brought her here, but it isn’t hard to see that their paths at some point will converge.

Aector McAvoy is one of my favourite characters. He’s a big man, around 6ft.5in; a handsome Scot with red hair and a heart of gold. He’s great at his job, but he manages to get himself into dire and often scary situations. That’s because he never gives up, and tries always to do the right thing, even when it gets him into deep trouble.

While some of the violence in this book and in the series might make some readers uncomfortable, the appeal of the characters and the strong plotting make the journey entirely worthwhile. You’ll have to read for yourself how this intriguing tale of revenge and murder reaches it’s dramatic ending.

Check it out!!! You won’t regret it.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, May 2019.

Book Review: Watching You by Lisa Jewell

Watching You
Lisa Jewell
Atria Books, January 2019
ISBN 978-1-5011-9007-0
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Melville Heights is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Bristol, England; home to doctors and lawyers and old-money academics. It’s not the sort of place where people are brutally murdered in their own kitchens. But it is the sort of place where everyone has a secret. And everyone is watching you.

As the headmaster credited with turning around the local school, Tom Fitzwilliam is beloved by one and all—including Joey Mullen, his new neighbor, who quickly develops an intense infatuation with this thoroughly charming yet unavailable man. Joey thinks her crush is a secret, but Tom’s teenaged son Freddie—a prodigy with aspirations of becoming a spy for MI5—excels in observing people and has witnessed Joey behaving strangely around his father.

One of Tom’s students, Jenna Tripp, also lives on the same street, and she’s not convinced her teacher is as squeaky clean as he seems. For one thing, he has taken a particular liking to her best friend and fellow classmate, and Jenna’s mother—whose mental health has admittedly been deteriorating in recent years—is convinced that Mr. Fitzwilliam is stalking her.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier, a schoolgirl writes in her diary, charting her doomed obsession with a handsome young English teacher named Mr. Fitzwilliam…

In Lisa Jewell’s latest brilliant “bone-chilling suspense” (People) no one is who they seem—and everyone is hiding something. Who has been murdered—and who would have wanted one of their neighbors dead? As “Jewell teases out her twisty plot at just the right pace” (Booklist, starred review), you will be kept guessing until the startling revelation on the very last page.

By now, Lisa Jewell has firmly established herself in the crime fiction field as one of the best suspense/thriller writers today, especially those involving domestic and/or women’s issues. With Watching You, she certainly did not disappoint this reader and, in fact, takes things to another level of creepiness.

Secrets abound in this community and different residents of the neighborhood have varying opinions about their neighbors and even their own families but it’s Tom Fitzwilliam who seems to be at the center of everything. Why is this man, rightfully admired for his headmaster abilities and accomplishments, such a magnet for attention? Which of these neighbors is dangerously obsessed with him?

Ms. Jewell begins her story with a dead body and then backtracks to give the reader glimpses of the previous few weeks and the odd—and chilling—behavior of these people who spy on each other with the precision of a trained professional.  A reader will wonder why do they do so and, just when you think you have a handle on things, the author tosses everything you thought you knew into the ozone.

Pacing is almost frenetic, the characters are diverse in their personalities and in their likeability (or not) and you can’t help wondering if some of your own neighbors might be behaving oddly, perhaps dangerously. The web of lies and rumors that seemed to keep growing had me guessing from beginning to end…well done, Ms. Jewell!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2019.

Book Review: This Story Is A Lie by Tom Pollock—and a Giveaway!

This Story Is A Lie
Tom Pollock
Soho Teen, August 2018
ISBN 978-1-61695-911-1
Hardcover

When a book begins with the protagonist having just dealt with a major panic attack by crushing a porcelain salt shaker with his teeth, you can expect what follows to be a bit strange. And what does ensue exceeds that description in spades. Peter Blankman, age seventeen, is a twin and a mad math genius. He’s also bullied unmercifully by three classmates at his English high school. His only protection is his older, by eight minutes, sister Bel who is no slouch in the brains department herself.

Peter has been dealing with irrational fears and panic attacks for as long as he can remember. His mother is a world famous scientist and his absent father a mystery. All Peter and Bel know is the tidbits their mother drops on occasion, but the overarching message has always been that Dad was utterly evil and the less they know, the better off they’ll be.

A few hours following his attack, he, Bel and Mom are off to the Natural History Museum where Mom’s to receive an award for her work. Peter does his best to hold it together, but as the moment approaches for things to start, he loses it and bolts, running recklessly down one corridor after another. When he runs out of gas, he tries to find his way back, only to stumble on a body leaking copious amounts of blood. It’s his mother and it’s all he can do to stay with her and try to stanch the bleeding.

In short order, Bel vanishes, Peter’s grabbed by Rita, who claims to be a friend of Mom and one of her co-workers. She rushes him out of the museum and into a strange car that follows the ambulance transporting Mom. Peter’s paranoia starts ramping up as the convoy heads away from the two closest hospitals. It spikes even more as he overhears snippets of code-like conversations and senses that something highly suspicious. Little does he know how right he is. He manages to escape, but with Bel missing, where can he go?

What follows is like going in and out of a series of Alice in Wonderland rabbit holes. Every time Peter thinks he has something figured out, reality, or what passes for it, pulls another rug out from him. He’s unsure who to trust, how much of what he’s learned about mathematics can be counted on, he’s unsure who’s real or telling the truth, and as pieces fall into place, he finds himself on ever more fragile ground. Many details are revealed in flashback chapters going back anywhere from five days to seven years prior to the current story line. By the end, Peter, Bel and the reader are all still trying to sort things out. That’s not to say the ending is bad or incomplete, just nicely twisted. If you like industrial strength creepy, this book is for you.

Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS, February 2019.

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To enter the drawing for a print copy
of This Story Is A Lie, just leave a
comment below.
The winning name will
be drawn on Friday
night, March 1st.

This drawing is open to the US and Canada.

Book Review: Bridge to Burn by Rachel Amphlett

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Author: Rachel Amphlett
Narrator: Alison Campbell
Length: 6 hours 39 minutes
Series: Detective Kay Hunter, Book 7
Publisher: Saxon Publishing
Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural
Released: Feb. 8, 2019

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When a mummified body is found in a renovated building,
the gruesome discovery leads Detective Kay Hunter
and her team into a complex murder investigation.

The subsequent police inquiry exposes corruption, lies and
organised crime within the tight-knit community – and Kay’s
determination to seek justice for the young murder victim could
ruin the reputations of men who will do anything
to protect their business interests.

But as Kay closes in on the killer, tragedy strikes closer to
home in an event that will send a shockwave through her
personal life and make her question everything she values.

Can Kay keep her private and professional life under control while
she tries to unravel one of the strangest murder cases of her career?

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Buy Links

Buy on RachelAmphlett.com

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Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreadsInstagram

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Early on in this series, I decided that the Detective Kay Hunter series had become one of my favorite police procedurals, enhanced even further by its British setting. This newest book is just as good with one exception having to do with the audio production as I’ll note later.

One of the attractions, for me, is the strong relationships among the characters, both professional and personal, and each new episode brings me closer to the people. That’s especially true with Kay, of course, but they all get their chance to stand out in one book or another. As for the plot, this one is a little different in that it leans more in the direction of white collar and organized crime and, while I don’t generally find those elements especially appealing, Kay and her team make them more intriguing and compelling than I would have expected, beginning with the mummified body falling out of a ceiling. How they follow various leads kept me riveted while I tried to figure things out myself.

Narrator Alison Campbell is one of my favorites but I did find the quality of this production less satisfying due to the recent switch to a new format meant for use on a cellphone. I really don’t care for this because I don’t want to listen to a book on my phone and the quality is just not as good as when I can download to my iPod and listen to it in my car. Perhaps it’s just me but I couldn’t play this through my car’s speakers and, as a result, it was a strain to hear it and Ms. Campbell’s voice frequently dropped too much.

That aside, I will most certainly continue with this series as long as Ms. Amphlett keeps writing them 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2019.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Rachel Amphlett. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Giveaway

3 Winners: Free copy of Bridge to Burn Audiobook from Authors Direct

Bridge To Burn Giveaway: Three Winners!
https://js.gleam.io/e.js

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Feb. 19th:

AudioSpy

Booktalk with Eileen

The Book Junkie Reads . . .

Feb. 20th:

Dab of Darkness Book Reviews

T’s Stuff

Jorie Loves A Story

Feb. 21st:

What Emma Read Next

The Bookworm Lodge

What Is That Book About

Hall Ways Blog

Feb. 22nd:

Bound 4 Escape

2 Girls and A Book

Nerdy Dirty and Flirty

Feb. 23rd:

Next Book Review

The Book Addict’s Reviews

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

Feb. 24th:

Jazzy Book Reviews

Buried Under Books

Feb. 25th:

Lomeraniel

Turning Another Page

Book Review: All About Mia by Lisa Williamson

All About Mia
Lisa Williamson
David Fickling Books, September 2017
ISBN 978-1-338-16397-1
Hardcover

Mia-in-the-middle is not doing well. Something like loneliness lingers, an itch that can’t be scratched. It doesn’t make sense to her that someone who adores alone time (but is never actually alone) could feel lonely. Anyway, the small window of time that gave her a bit of breathing space has slammed shut.

It felt decadent, using Grace’s room while her elder sibling spent her gap-year in Greece (no doubt doing something amazing). But now, out of the blue, Grace is coming home early. And she’s bringing her “spoddy” boyfriend. An aggravating situation exacerbated by the overwhelming excitement of their parents. Already annoying, on their love-crazed-wedding-planning-cloud, they are absolutely insufferable with enthusiastic joy.

Her younger sister, Audrey, will never be an ally. Aside from training for swim meets, she only has time for Beyoncé, her beloved guinea pig. Mia’s three best friends, generally good-to-go with whatever floats her boat, seem a bit strange and stand-offish. Not so supportive, terribly frustrating.

Initially, I didn’t like Mia. But then it hit me. I was seeing Mia through her eyes. Neither one of us had figured out that she wasn’t feeling very fond of herself. Or that she felt invisible. Slowly, I began to understand her outrageous behavior and blatant disregard for everyone close to her. Unable to articulate the aching emptiness; Mia could only act out.

I’m excited to share All About Mia with students here in the U. S. because I think that, like me, they will delight in the English dialect and phrasing and they will definitely appreciate the cultural differences. Which reminds me—in the U.S., the legal drinking age is 21. The Campbell-Richardson family resides in Rushton, a small English hamlet. Although Mia does over-indulge, and it is under-age drinking; it is in a world where wine (albeit watered-down) is welcome with evening meals and the legal drinking age is 18.

Mostly, I’ll be recommending this because I believe that everyone who meets Mia will feel a little less lonely.

Reviewed by jv poore, March 2018.