Review: Bye Bye Baby

Bye Bye Baby
Bye Bye Baby by Lauren Crowe
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

DCI Jack Hawksworth is too smooth by half…

1. Dresses well;
2. Loves musicals;
3. absolutely charming to ladies (apparently not in a ‘player’ sort of way)

then… after a hard day at work, he was lying down on the sofa trying to gear up to cook dinner. Nothing meaty, no… but grilled mushrooms burger thing with rockets. Err… I just feel something’s off (ie. not realistic)

The mystery was also revealed way too early in the piece; within the first 1/4 of the book… I still had 350+ pages to read and really had to wonder if it’s worth it or if I could be bothered. I finished it so I could claim the book read for a challenge but otherwise, I’m not sure if I would’ve at all.

umm-ing and aah-ing about book 2… **shrugs**

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Review: Woman of the Dead

woman of the deadWoman of the Dead by Bernhard Aichner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Uncorrected proof courtesy of publisher via The Reading Room

I didn’t think I’m really into antiheroes much but very early this year, I was completely taken by surprise by how much I love Candice Fox’s Eden Archer (Archer & Bennett). I rated these 2 books 5 stars (I don’t give very many 5-stars ratings) so I had pretty high expectation for Woman of the Dead. This is a very different book though quite good on its own merit.

The story opens with a very chilling prologue –which I adored (call me crazy, if you like) but the main story takes place 8 years after this prologue. And things could not have been more different; the readers are greeted with a happy domestic scene. This, of course, did not last for more than a few minutes. The pain & grief that followed felt very real and so were utterly raw. The rest of the book alternated between feeling numbed and deepest anguish.

Brunhilde Blum doesn’t kick ass. She is not an experienced sleuth. She is not a trained assassin. She is an undertaker. She lashed out from fear and for revenge. Her actions were not fully thought out / planned; in fact, some of them were near disastrous that it’s almost hilarious. With a high dose of good luck and some help from her assistant, she forged ahead to make sure the world is a safer place for her daughters.

Whilst I sympathise with Blum, she doesn’t particularly trigger any strong emotion from me and I don’t find myself cheering for her. There were, however, quite a number of factors I like in Woman of the Dead: the raw description of grief, the twists, and the prologue & epilogue. This appears to be the first book in a trilogy so I would be very interested in the next instalment to see how she develops.

Thanks Hachette Australia via The Reading Room for copy of book in exchange of honest review

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Review: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

minnow blyThe Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Uncorrected proof courtesy of publisher

I always say that I’m not a fan of contemporary YA but this book was just… amazing! When I first read the blurb, I really thought it wasn’t for me. It just sounds too heartbreaking but after the very high recommendation by the Harper Collins YA team, I had to read this. The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly blew my mind to smithereens… I’m still trying to pick up the pieces.

The combination of ‘cult’ and ‘hands’, in the blurb, reminded me so much of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale so when I first started to read, it didn’t quite feel like ‘contemporary YA’. The weird and crazy cult is nearly on the same wavelength as Atwood’s world but The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is definitely set in the current period of time and on known location on earth. There is no denying of the ‘contemporary YA’ genre but my (malfunctioned) brain disagreed somewhat. This only help me love the book more!

Firstly, I love the tightness of the language. I found the sentences to be succinct. They were short and sweet and to the point. It was a no-nonsense approach with no superfluous descriptions. Considering that Minnow is a very confused girl, this technique really helps to structure the story in a way that makes sense to the reader. In addition, as the story is told from Minnow’s perspective, it also gives the readers a sense that Minnow, deep down, really is a sensible sort of girl.

Minnow Bly rocks my world. She is one of the strongest female character ever. There are lots of kick-ass heroines out there, the ones who can ‘literally’ kick-ass BUT to come out on top in mind games… that takes the cake! This is a girl whose brain actually ticks on its own steam. She was taken on a merry-go-round but her own sparks refused to be put out. It began with little things and as she went forward, with the right people guiding her, her mind is her own. I loved also how she doesn’t let “love” supersede herself.

Still wondering whether to read this book? DON’T! You need this in your life. This is one book I’d not hesitate to recommend to people regardless of age / maturity / genre preference. I’d give a warning of some swear words but otherwise, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a book worthwhile getting your teeth into.

Thanks HarperCollins Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

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Review: Northern Heat

northern heatNorthern Heat by Helene Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: paperback copy courtesy of publisher

Northern Heat was a fun and comfortable read. I purposely chose this book to accompany me on my first back at work so I have something to look forward to in the cold and dark morning train rides. It was a good pick as it was easy to read and drew me right into its world (which was fantastic, considering that we’re in the middle of winter whilst the book is set in the middle of a scorching summer).

The story opens on a hot and sticky morning in which Conor found himself an unwitting witness to a crime. As he isn’t a local and with his secret past, he easily became a suspect. Was he just at the wrong place at the wrong time or has his past found him at last?

Along with Dr Kristy Dark (Conor’s love interest), there are quite a few interesting characters and each with their own cross to bear. Kristy has recently settled in town; widowed and with a teen daughter, Abby, struggling to find their own feet. Freya looks polished at all times but yet lives in fear of her life and her children’s. These issues unravelled just as the weather broke and tension ran high.

I didn’t have a clear expectation of this book so I was surprised at being surprised with the romantic content. It was written a little more like what you’d expect in a romance novel with tensions running high between the two main characters and the way they described each other; I guess I really wasn’t expecting there to be that much romance. I do read (and love) my share of romance novels so I found this just as exciting as the mystery / suspense part of the story. If you’re not a fan of romance, this may not be the book for you though if you’re crazy about romance, you may be disappointed.

Thanks to Penguin Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

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Blog Tour: In Midnight’s Silence ~a review

In Midnight's Silence

midnights silence

In Midnight’s Silence (Los Nefilim: Part One) by T. Frohock

The fate of mankind has nothing to do with mankind…

Born of an angel and a daimon, Diago Alvarez is a singular being in a country torn by a looming civil war and the spiritual struggle between the forces of angels and daimons. With allegiance to no one but his partner Miquel, he is content to simply live in Barcelona, caring only for the man he loves and the music he makes. Yet, neither side is satisfied to let him lead this domesticated life and, knowing they can’t get to him directly, they do the one thing he’s always feared.

They go after Miquel.

Now, in order to save his lover’s life, he is forced by an angel to perform a gruesome task: feed a child to the daimon Moloch in exchange for a coin that will limit the extent of the world’s next war. The mission is fraught with danger, the time he has to accomplish it is limited…and the child he is to sacrifice is the son Diago never knew existed.

A lyrical tale in a world of music and magic, T. Frohock’s In Midnight’s Silence shows the lengths a man will go to save the people he loves, and the sides he’ll choose when the sidelines are no longer an option.

My Blurb (4.5 of 5 stars)

Angels is far from being a favourite of mine in fiction BUT I might just change my mind now. In Midnight’s Silence is a dark fast-paced novella incorporating angels, daimons, music, sacrifice and love set in beautiful Spain. I keep having images of men in white flowing shirts (they don’t actually wear “flowing shirts” in the book but… what I see in my head is my prerogative!) playing guitars and gorgeous ladies doing the flamenco.

I love these characters with all their faults & strengths. Their world within world with its layered complexity of ancient heritage and hierarchy where nothing seems to be what they appear to be. The plot was tight in structure and very intriguing. In Midnight’s Silence just grabbed you on the spot and will not let go. It was a terrific single-sitting spine-tingling read and I can’t wait for the next instalment.

The Author

frohockT. Frohock has turned her love of dark fantasy and horror into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. She is the author of Miserere: An Autumn Tale, a dark fantasy, and has written several short stories. T has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying.

author’s website  |  twitter  |  google plus

Blog Tour: A Time to Run ~Guest Post

JM Peace (c) Sheree Tomlinson WEB

It is my pleasure to welcome J.M. Peace as a guest today.

Confession

I have a confession to make. Not a police-type of confession – no need to call out Ethical Standards Command yet. This is a writer-type confession. Nearly every article I have ever read about how to be an effective and successful writer offers the same tip. To be a great writer, you need to read. Read often, read widely, read in the genre you are writing.

*Sigh*

I don’t read much, and when I do read, it is seldom in my genre. There. I said it. And it is too late. My book has been published. That in itself makes it successful. I am a real author. Despite flying directly in the face of accepted advice.

I do feel bad about not reading. I enjoy a good story. I currently have a tall but stable pile of ‘books to read’ on my bedside table but I just never seem to get to them. My ‘Goodreads’ account is a trainwreck.

When I was in university, I remember drawing up a list of all the books I thought I should read and reserving them through the library. I read Bliss and The Handmaid’s Tale along with Metamorphosis and Crime and Punishment. Then when I spent some years backpacking (before the days of e-books), I’d swap books with anyone who had a spare. I swapped my way through a lot of ‘holiday reads’, but I was also introduced to novels such as Midnight’s Children and One Hundred Years of Solitude. Unfortunately, these days most of the reading I do these days is about fairies or talking animals with children on my lap.

In my own defence, I have very limited spare time these days. When I do have an hour up my sleeve, I can choose to read or choose to write. TV rarely comes into the equation. I’ve set my priorities and if nothing else, I’m consistent.

There’s an unfortunate side-effect to all of this non-reading. I am hesitant when meeting other writers. They ask me things like “what are you reading?”, “who are you favourite crime writers?” I have answers formulated but they sound inadequate to me. People speak about an author’s work and assume I will know who it is. Do I say that I don’t know and look stupid? Or bluff it and hope I get away with it? Either way leaves me nervous.

I’ve tried to see the positive side of not reading, particularly not reading crime. For instance, no one can accuse me of stealing their ideas because I have invariably not read their books. But then every time I read another respected author advocating the importance of reading, the guilt wells up again.

jmpeace tbr pileSo I have exposed myself now. Please don’t condemn me. I’m proof there’s not just one way to be a writer, or a reader for that matter.

Sometimes I fantasise about sitting on the beach with the sun warming my back, a recent release in my hand, five spare hours before the school run, and no other responsibilities. I conjure up that delicious sensation of sinking into a book, befriending the characters and letting the story sweep the hours away.

*Sigh*

One day…

Being a mum with 2 little ones and a part time job; I understand where Jay’s coming from and yet, I do read a lot -primarily during my commute to and from work.  No matter how much City Rail sucks (any Sydneysiders here?), I love it because it’s my reading time.

Find out more about Jay, her book, A Time to Run, and the blog tour: here (includes my 4 stars-review)

Blog Tour: A Time to Run ~a Review

A Time to Run

A Time to Run by J.M. Peace
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: paperback copy courtesy of publisher

A thrilling debut by J.M. Peace, A Time to Run tells of what happens when a police officer turns victim.  As a serving police officer, Peace would have many experiences in policing and the challenge was to put all this in a book that engages the reader.  And… it was so furiously engaging, I finished it in a day (a long time ago, I could’ve said, ‘in one sitting’, but with a job & 2 little ones… “a day” basically means “1 sitting”).

Samantha (Sammi) Willis is a dedicated police officer.  You would expect that as such, she would be very aware of just how easily one becomes a victim.  You would have thought her to be extra vigilant.  This was the first part I struggled with in this novel.  However, considering the circumstances (the drinks, the late hour, the weariness, the possible threat of something worse), I guess, sometimes, you’d let slip and ‘trust’ a stranger.  Unfortunately, this time, it doesn’t turn out so good for Sammi.

An extract relating to the above paragraph can be found on J.M. Peaces’s blog, here

 A Time to Run spans over one weekend.  I compare it to 24 (tv series) but 72 instead.  There’s a ‘snapshot’ of the day/time (bold headers) before each unfolding event.  Each was short and sweet with alternating perspectives between Sammi, the bad guy, and the ones looking for them.  This structure sets the pace and tone of the story -it was fast, tight, and exhilarating.  There were a couple of instances that I thought she was fact-dropping about policing but that’s basically 2 sentences in 228 pages -they were kind of woven into the story but still stood out to me so that could’ve been done differently.

I found A Time to Run to be very realistic.  I like that the ending isn’t all rosy, that such a horrific event will affect a person’s functions terribly and that the law isn’t perfect.  I think the author has been very successful in being very convincing through multiple perspectives despite their varied backgrounds and very different intents.  Overall, a terrific debut that will leave you wanting  more.  Thankfully, Peace is working on a sequel…or two!

Thanks to Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

JM Peace (c) Sheree Tomlinson WEBAbout Author

An avid reader and writer from an early age, JM Peace wanted to be a writer. So she studied journalism figuring this would be a way of turning a passion into a job. Her career as a print journalist failed after a single year, and the experience completely sucked the joy out of writing for her. So she took a complete change of direction and became a police officer. Over the past 15 years, she has served throughout south-east Queensland in a variety of different capacities, including Intelligence and CIB.

After her children were born, the dangers and stresses of the job made it unappealing. In the search for a new career path, she returned to her childhood dream. Carving a spare hour out of every day, she wrote the manuscript for A Time To Run whilst juggling her family commitments, police work and running a household. A Time To Run was elevated out of the slush pile after it was accepted on to the 2013 QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development Program. It was subsequently accepted by Pan Macmillan Australia.

Jay currently lives on the Sunshine Coast with her partner, wrangling her two cheeky children, a badly behaved dog and an anti-social cockatiel. Although she travelled extensively when she was younger, these days she is just happy if she makes it as far as the beach on the weekend. Her current goals are trying to teach her children to surf and finishing the sequel to A Time To Run.

Jay is astounded and delighted in equal parts by words of encouragement from strangers. You can connect with her at on Facebook at JM Peace Author, Twitter at @jmpeaceauthor and Goodreads at JM Peace.

Blog Tour Schedule