Troll by D B Thorne

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Synopsis: Years ago, Fortune gave up on his daughter, Sophie, after a troubled adolescence. Now she’s gone missing, vanished without trace. And after weeks of investigation, the police have given up on her, too.
Driven by guilt, and a determination to atone for his failures as a father, he takes on the search himself. He soon finds that his daughter had been living in fear of a vicious online troll who seemed to know far too much about her. Could Sophie’s disappearance be linked to this unknown predator? Fortune is about to discovers that monsters which live online don’t always stay there

My review: A tense thriller that I managed to read in a day. Fortune is convinced that his missing daughter is not dead despite that being the belief by the police, her few friends and her own mother.

The story flips between Fortune and his daughter, confirming early on that Sophie is definitely alive and we’re not searching for a dead body. After finding Sophie’s laptop it appears she had been the victim of an online troll and somebody launching a very controlled attack on her life, setting her up as a stalker, receiving complaints from the council about excess noise and so on.

For Fortune as he starts his hunt his bank suddenly loses money – millions of dollars that looking at the numbers signal a race to find her before it’s too late.

I did enjoy it. There’s lots of twists and turns and the reveal of the Troll in question is interesting. I loved the ending. Not your Hollywood ending which makes for a refreshing change. There’s so much to this book about how the past can affect the future and people’s actions. Some as you can imagine is related to Fortune but there is some far crueller histories revealed.

It’s a good book, well worth checking out
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Death by Vanilla Latte (Bookstore Cafe Mystery #4) by Alex Erickson

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Synopsis: Ever since cafe owner Krissy Hancock settled into a relationship and mostly forgot about old flames, life has become surprisingly serene. Too bad her father, famed mystery writer James Hancock, had to pay an unexpected visit to Death by Coffee and brew up a batch of trouble…
While caught off-guard by her dad s presence, Krissy never dreamed he d become the biggest murder suspect in town. But that s exactly what happens when James s boorish agent a man he allegedly fired just hours earlier is found cold and lifeless, a still-warm vanilla latte resting by his hand…
With Pine Hills divided over her father s innocence and a fanatical fan keen on locking the author away for safe keeping, Krissy must end the madness and identify the real criminal even if that means meeting an ex or two along the way. But as her social life becomes increasingly chaotic, Krissy may be caught in a case that s far too hot to handle…”

My review: This is one of those charming, quirky stories where a shop owner of some description solves murders. This time, for a nice change of the ones I’ve read in this style, the sleuth openly admits she likes solving the murders and participating in the apprehension of a criminal instead of oh I don’t know how these things keep happening to me! Krissy Hancock likes being in the thick of it.

I read this in a day. I’m not a real fan of romancey/chick lit types of books. This style of writing is the closest I get and I find them perfect for the beach (except I’m in rainy England). Krissy is happily trying to not solve a murder this time whilst sort of, definitely trying to solve it while building on her relationship with hunky doctor Will, wondering if she should be with hunky cop Paul and running her own business. This is one busy woman!

The secondary characters don’t really have much to do with the book, even the love interests. I couldn’t really connect with any of them except Rita, the local writers club nosey parker. She just got on my nerves. Even the 2 hunks didn’t really do much. It’s pretty much all about Krissy. I would like more interaction with her work colleagues, friends and so on. Otherwise it gets a bit boring. In this her dad is along for the ride. Having not read the previous three I don’t know if she has a sidekick but maybe she should.

It’s fun, frothy and enjoyable. Thumbs up

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Demon Lights (Blackwater Lights Trilogy) by Michael M. Hughes

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Synopsis: The world is collapsing. Governments have fallen, and anarchy reigns. Yet a greater danger looms imprisoned in ancient objects from distant space: bodiless aliens with an all-consuming thirst for freedom . . . and human blood.
They have a strong ally in Lily, a powerful sorceress and leader of a globe-spanning cult. In an isolated compound deep in the frozen north, Lily cultivates a group of children whose paranormal abilities can be harnessed to unleash the alien apocalypse. Now she has acquired the final pieces to the puzzle: a gifted young boy named William and his mother, Ellen, whose safety is the bargaining chip Lily needs to compel the child’s obedience.
Once again, William and Ellen’s last hope is Ray Simon. Every time Ray and Lily have crossed paths, she has come out on top, and even now she is one step ahead. But this time Ray is not alone. Accompanied by Claire and Mantu—devotees of the enigmatic Brotherhood of Eleusis, who possess psychic abilities of their own—Ray sets off on a desperate mission of rescue and revenge. Only the fate of humanity itself hangs in the balance.

My review: This is the third book of the Blackwater trilogy. I recently read and reviewed the second in the series ‘Witch Lights’ and commented that the trilogy reads as a serial. There’s no recap it went straight into story and you have to just go along with it a try and figure out who anyone is. I was hoping the third book would change that but it doesn’t. It doesn’t change the enjoyment of the book but for anyone starting at the wrong end there’s no character arcs to have.

Having read the previous one this time I did enjoy it more. It rattles along at a real speed I had it read in just over a day. The characters are all separated now: young William in a school for gifted children run by the evil Lily (the less talented ones ‘go home’  you can read the book to find out where ‘home’ actually is. Yup really evil and deserves everything she gets). Ray is trying to embrace his talents and find his son and girlfriend Helen along with wisecracking Mantu. I mentioned this in another  review where there was a secondary character seemingly on the ASD spectrum that as a parent wiwth an ASD child I really like it when they appear and are portrayed in a positive manner. Well Vinod is one ass kicking mofo so thank you.

It’s fast, it’s furious, its ambiguous good guys against outright bad guys and the genuine good guys win. Sort of… even though it’s the final book and it seems to be the end of it I had the feeling there could be more. There probably isn’t but just a hunch I think the tale could go on so we’ll see.

The quibble I had was with Ellen. She really didn’t seem to play much of a part in this. I’m a bit surprised Ray and the others remembered her. I struggled to. I think she could have done more.

Overall I enjoyed it more than the second book. It’s an enjoyable read. Thumbs up

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The Unquiet Dead (Rachel Getty & Esa Khattak #1) by Ausma Zehanat Khan

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Synopsis: Despite their many differences, Detective Rachel Getty trusts her boss, Esa Khattak, implicitly. But she’s still uneasy at Khattak’s tight-lipped secrecy when he asks her to look into Christopher Drayton’s death. Drayton’s apparently accidental fall from a cliff doesn’t seem to warrant a police investigation, particularly not from Rachel and Khattak’s team, which handles minority-sensitive cases. But when she learns that Drayton may have been living under an assumed name, Rachel begins to understand why Khattak is tip-toeing around this case. It soon comes to light that Drayton may have been a war criminal with ties to the Srebrenica massacre of 1995.
If that’s true, any number of people might have had reason to help Drayton to his death, and a murder investigation could have far-reaching ripples throughout the community. But as Rachel and Khattak dig deeper into the life and death of Christopher Drayton, every question seems to lead only to more questions, with no easy answers. Had the spectres of Srebrenica returned to haunt Drayton at the end, or had he been keeping secrets of an entirely different nature? Or, after all, did a man just fall to his death from the Bluffs?

My review: This is an interesting and eye opening debut. Really thought provoking. At the time of the Bosnian crisis I wrapped up in my own misery and while I know there was an atrocity I remember it mostly as headline news rather than the full details. So as well as a gripping murder mystery I found the book to be so educational. Like WW2 these are war crimes that should never be forgotten and even in fiction it’s possible to work towards bringing knowledge. So for that thank you.

The storyline itself – a man falls to his death and as there are links to Canadian minorities (Muslim survivors of the above atrocities) Khattak is brought in to dig deeper into the dead mans life when they discover he may not be the mild mannered arts lover his neighbours believed. There are such an array of characters in here. Everyone is unique and there’s enough to want to see how they develop in future books especially with each other.. The back stories give us a break for the norm with Khattak as the link to minority groups in Canada and his terrible taste in women! And his partner Rachel Getty still living in an abusive parental household ad yet to really start to live. I found it easy to enjoy these characters despite the bleak storyline and I hope to read more.

For me personally two additional new experiences; a Muslim detective (although again despite the storyline the religion is there but doesn’t define him. And also Canada.

It started a bit slow but soon picked up pace and I managed to read it quite quickly. It’s gripping and one of the rare occasions where you really know the victim got what they deserve  and do we really care whodunit?? (now there’s another thing to think about!)

So gripping, complex and thought provoking. An excellent debut

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On Copper Street: A Victorian Police Procedural by Chris Nickson

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Synopsis: Leeds, England. March, 1895. The day after his release from prison, petty criminal Henry White is found stabbed to death at his terraced home on Copper Street. Pursuing enquiries in a neighbourhood where people are suspicious of strangers and hostile to the police, DI Tom Harper and his team find the investigation hard going. If anyone knows anything about Henry White’s murder – or the robbery that landed him in gaol in the first place – they are unable or unwilling to say.
At the same time, acid is thrown over a young boy in a local bakery in a seemingly unprovoked attack.
Praying for a breakthrough, Harper knows that he must uncover the motive in each case if he is to have any chance of catching the culprits. Of one thing he is certain: if he doesn’t find answers soon, more deaths will follow.

My review: There are a lot of deaths in this one! Some part of the plot and the reason for DI Tom Harper to be able to do his job – this time fir the murderer of a long time crook. And then some that are just part of life. Having read all in this series even the secondary characters are like old friends so it’s quite sad to see them go.

On a happier note we see Harper be promoted. I’ll be interested to see how these changes affect the next book. Sometimes a sweeping out of characters can breathe new life into a series although this is not a series that needs it.

As with all the books in the series it’s richly described. Even someone who hasn’t spent their life in the city & spent a lot of time on their Leeds family history (both like me) would find it so easy to immerse themselves into the Victorian city and know exactly where everything is and looked like. The same with the characters.

These books are a constant delight and I look forward to what’s next

*Thank you to Netgalley, Severn House Publishers and Chris Nickson for my ARC for which I have given an honest review*

The Excursionist by J.D. Sumner

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Synopsis: Newly single Jack Kavanagh longs to visit one hundred countries and the join the Travelers’ Century Club before his landmark birthday. There is just one problem: Jack’s enthusiasm for travel is matched only by his unsuitability to do so. Traveling alone for the first time following the death of his partner, Kay, he flies to the Coronation Islands, fumbling around in dreamily faraway places in order to tick off his last three countries. He soon discovers that the more of the world he sees, the less he understands.

My review: The blurb on Good reads says this is a darkly comic book. I’d like for someone to point out where those bits are because I couldn’t find them. I nearly gave this book up after the first few chapters. I found the writing to not be very good. But I persevered and once we got past the bitter chapter about his ex-wife and the amount of money he earns as a stockbroker it settled down a bit more into what I wanted – a travel story.

I think the biggest problem is Jack himself. I know he’s suffering because his fiancee died but blimey he’s miserable. It permeates throughout the whole book to the point I felt miserable reading it. I don;t want to get to the last few chapters before he discovers the meaning of life. I spent more time wishing he’d just go home if he hated traveling alone that much.

I did like the descriptions of the islands. That’s where I enjoy travel books. A chance to read about places I may never get to go to but also the descriptions of tourist places that you don’t get in the brochures and guides as well as the non-touristy places. I enjoyed reading about the characters on the islands and how they made a living hawking tat the tourists buy and the horrid restaurants. I refuse to eat in the chains I can get in England when I travel so I enjoy hearing about the local cuisine and eateries.

I think it’s the tone that put me off, he really does sound so miserable but not in a ‘my fiancee’s dead’ kinda way just someone that doesn’t seem that much fun to be around even when she was alive. The book just didn’t gel for me. Not one I’d like to read again sadly

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Spandex and the City by Jenny T. Colgan

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Synopsis: Mild-mannered PR girl Holly Phillips doesn’t think much of costumed vigilante ‘Ultimate Man’ – and after his superpowered antics leave her hoisted over his shoulder and flashing her knickers in the newspaper the next day, she’s embarrassed beyond belief.
But when Holly’s fifteen minutes of fame make her a target for something villainous, she only has one place to turn – and finds the man behind the mask holds a lot more charm than his crime-fighting alter-ego.
Can Holly find love, or is superdating just as complicated as the regular kind?

My review: This is what the story of Lois and Superman would be if narrated by Lois Lane. This is the bit where I say I don’t like or read chick-lit and then give it lots of stars. I found it fun,funny, quick to read and something where I didn’t have to think too hard after a few too many depressed detective stories.

Holly is your typical superhero gal that keeps getting kidnapped although she does have a bit more sass that most of them. The hero – Ultimate Man – keeps having to rescue her. I enjoyed the gentle loving mocking of the hero in spandex whilst at the same time trying to get inside the said lycra outfit. And purple spandex…urgh rightly deserved mocking.

A credit to the writing I actually fell a little bit in love with the bad guy. I mean who wouldn’t want to live on their own island and do nothing but read??? Frederick Cecil’s ideas about the dangers of the internet echoed a lot of my own thoughts. As a small business owner who relies on social media I do wonder how I would have attempted to build up a business without it even just 20 years ago while at the same time acknowledging how much it turns us into zombies that just don’t talk to each other anymore. (And I’m so guilty of spending hours doing nothing on twitter). I’m slightly in danger of being the bad guys acolyte!

The other potential love interest is co-worker Nelson, ex-farm boy. I’m so disappointed (in a good way not in a bad book way) that he didn’t turn out to be Superman! I can’t say anymore on that without spoilers but seriously (sod copywrite) he would’ve been a cool Superman.

And as a mum to an autistic son I was so happy to see a spectrum  character. Thank you for that.

My only real bug bear was the superhero himself. I just found him a bit bland. Maybe I bought in too much to Frederick Cecil to really like him but he didn’t seem very interesting. Maybe he needs more cool toys?

Anyway this is a great book. Put down the kindle, phone apps, buy a paper copy and then join a book club and go talk to some people about it 🙂

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Scared to Death (Jessie Flynn #2) by Kate Medina

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Synopsis: A baby is abandoned in the middle of the night at Royal Surrey County Hospital. D.I. Bobby ‘Marilyn’ Simmons suspects the father is planning to take his own life following the violent suicide of his eldest son a year earlier. The race is on to find him. Captain Ben Callan is investigating a suspicious death. Just sixteen years old, Stephen Foster has been stabbed in the neck with a screwdriver. Someone tried to save his life – but who? And why haven’t they come forward? When psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn is called in to consult on both cases, she sees connections between the deaths of Danny and Stephen. And when she starts counselling a third traumatized young man, Jessie fears he faces the same fate…

My review: It’s not that long ago I read the first book in that series and after a quiet start I ended up loving that so I had high hopes for this one. And it didn’t disappoint. The main character Jessie Flynn was for me the  weakest of all the people in the book but with lots more back story for her I finally started to understand her a bit more and she seemed less bland to me. We had more history of her brothers suicide, her fathers part in it releasing her (hopefully) from some of the guilt she felt and more around her OCD issues.

My favourite character though is still DO ‘Marilyn’ Bobby Simmons the Ronny Wood/ Marilyn Manson a like. So many detective are identikit and you could transport them into any detective series but this one is so richly described and unique you can’t help but love him. So now the challenge is on to do something with Captain Callan who’s in danger of stagnating and being nothing more  than wordy eye candy. Some more on his (recent) past would be interesting.

Avoiding commenting on the actual story a bit as it’s quite harrowing being about several seemingly random teenage boy suicides. As with any detective series nothing is ever truly random and the link and reveal when it happens is so heartbreaking. This is fiction but sadly we live in a world where these e things are real (no spoilers). Lots of difficult topics explored in this novel all with sensitivity. I was intrigued by who thebao the bad guy turned out to be and there should be some fall out from it in Book 3 which I’m looking forward to.

This series is rapidly becoming one of my favourites and I’m looking forward to the next book. I would highly recommend it.

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Wicked Prayers by S.D. Moore

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Synopsis: Wicked Prayers is a fast paced, action packed horror story in which an unusual band of heroes desperately fight all manner of hellish incarnations to thwart Evil and his infectious hideous creatures. The book reads like a graphic novel without pictures, but plays like an action packed horror movie in your mind. In the action filled spirit of Underworld, 28 Days Later, and From Dusk ’til Dawn – Wicked Prayers offers original creatures for a helluva scary fun thrill ride. May no more dark doors be opened tonight. Contains mystery, action, supernatural erotic scenes, violence, adult language, and a little faith.

My review: The synopsis says the book reads like a graphic novel and that’s very true for this story. It hurtles along at a cracking pace taking place in just a few days overall. It’s a horror story so there are some gruesome elements but overall I didn’t find it scary just occasionally gross.

There are far too many characters and with the pace of the book it doesn’t allow for much development of the key ones. I completely forgot who several of them were especially the reporter. She just wouldn’t stay in my head. I do wonder if this would read better if it actually WAS a graphic novel.

The best descriptive elements were saved for the final 10% of the book but shoot outs are not my favourite things to read so it didn’t quite work for me.

Overall it’s not a bad book but I really do think I’d prefer it as a graphic novel

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Strange Magic (Essex Witches #1) by Syd Moore

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Synopsis: Rosie Strange doesn’t believe in ghosts or witches or magic. No, not at all. It’s no surprise therefore when she inherits the ramshackle Essex Witch Museum, her first thought is to take the money and run.
Still, the museum exerts a curious pull over Rosie. There’s the eccentric academic who bustles in to demand she help in a hunt for old bones, those of the notorious Ursula Cadence, a witch long since put to death. And there’s curator Sam Stone, a man about whom Rosie can’t decide if he’s tiresomely annoying or extremely captivating. It all adds up to looking like her plans to sell the museum might need to be delayed, just for a while.
Finding herself and Sam embroiled in a most peculiar centuries-old mystery, Rosie is quickly expelled from her comfort zone, where to her horror, the secrets of the past come with their own real, and all too present, danger as a strange magic threatens to envelope them all.

My review: This is a fun book that takes us on a tour of the South East of England as Rosie Strange and Sam go on a hunt for the missing bones of a 16th century witch. Rosie has inherited the Essex Witch museum from her late grandfather and skeptical of all things spooky and witchy has plans to sell before agreeing to find the missing witch bones to potentially save a young boys life.

There’s not a great deal of mystery in it. It’s a beach read for those of us that don’t read chick-lit. It passes quite quietly as the two go off on what to me felt mostly like a road trip tale for the first half of the book kicking in then as the bad guys starting coming out of the woodwork and we get the intriguing MI6/ spy network joining in the chase.

I would have liked more on the bad guy (girl in this instance). She sounded actually really interesting and with a name like Elizabeth Bathory I was dying for them to bring in links about the namesake but sadly they didn’t. But I did like the fact that despite being the bad guy she has no lines and is practically non-existent in the book. I want more!

It’s fast paced, taking place over a few days. There’s a lot of energy in the book. I enjoyed the characters. They guys have hidden depths and I’m looking forward to Rosie accepting her latent talents and working with them in future books. There’s a lot of room for these characters to grow.

Overall a good book. Thumbs up 🙂