Posted in 2021, ARC, Contemporary Fiction, Crime Fiction, NetGalley, Novel, Richard Osman, thriller

#TheManWhoDiedTwice by @richardosman

It’s the following Thursday.

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life.

As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?

But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?

***

‘I was talking to a woman in Ruskin Court and she said she’s on a diet’ says Joyce, finishing her glass of wine.

PART 1, 1

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(@VikingBooksUK, 16 September 2021, ebook, 432 pages, #ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed)

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GET A COPY

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I really enjoyed the first book, The Thursday Murder Club and took part in the blog tour when it was launched last year. I couldn’t wait to read the club’s next adventure. I wasn’t disappointed. This was everything I expected and I look forward to the next adventure. The Man Who Died Twice like the previous book is a blend of cosy mystery and thriller with a group of elderly amateur sleuths finding themselves in the middle of a real crime involving spies, stolen diamonds and grisly murders. I love the characters, especially Joyce. Due to their age they are assumed to be feeble and doddery and I love it when they kick ass and show they are more intelligent than the criminals and police combined. This is a delight.

Posted in 2021, eric j guignard, Non-Fiction, Ramsey Campbell, Review Copy

Exploring Dark Short Fiction #6: A Primer to Ramsey Campbell

Hailed by The Oxford Companion to English Literature as “Britain’s most respected living horror writer,” Ramsey Campbell has authored an astounding body of work for over half a century that embodies the weird, the supernatural, and the subtle, much of which is widely considered classics of dark fiction today. He has been given more awards than any other writer in the field, including being made an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University for outstanding services to literature.

Dark Moon Books and editor Eric J. Guignard bring you this introduction to his work, the sixth in a series of primers exploring modern masters of literary dark short fiction. Herein is a chance to discover-or learn more of-the remarkable voice of Ramsey Campbell, as beautifully illustrated by artist Michelle Prebich.

Included within these pages are:

  • Six short stories, one written exclusively for this book
  • Author interview
  • Biography and bibliography
  • Academic commentary by Michael Arnzen, PhD (former humanities chair and professor of the year, Seton Hill University)
  • and more!

Enter this doorway to the vast and fantastic: Get to know Ramsey Campbell.

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WHEN I THINK BACK on reading Ramsey Campbell, there’s an impression that he has always been there, part of the horror genre backdrop.

INTRODUCTION

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(@DarkMoonBooks, 7 September 2021, ebook, 196 pages, copy from @ericjguignard and voluntarily reviewed)

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AMAZON

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I’ve enjoyed other entries in the Exploring Dark Short Fiction series so decided to give this homage to Ramsey Campbell a read, despite not being a huge fan of the author. I sparsely read Ramsey Campbell’s work many years ago, as a teenager, his earlier, more Lovecraft inspired work and didn’t really like it. However, that was years ago. I’m a different person and my tastes have changed. I’ve even taken part in a couple of blog tours for his recent books. I enjoyed the six stories included here, none of which were familiar to me. They are all different and show his range as a writer. I loved the darkness running through them. I found the essays and interesting as well but the stories are what I enjoyed the most.

Posted in 2021, Chris Beckett, Contemporary Fiction, library book, Novel, Science Fiction, Top Books

The Holy Machine by @chriszbeckett

George Simling has grown up in the city-state of Illyria, an enclave of logic and reason founded as a refuge from the Reaction, a wave of religious fundamentalism that swept away the nations of the twenty-first century. Yet to George, Illyria’s militant rationalism is as stifling as the faith-based superstition that dominates the world outside its walls.

For George has fallen in love with Lucy. A prostitute. A robot. She might be a machine, but the semblance of life is perfect. To the city authorities, robot sentience is a malfunction, curable by erasing and resetting silicon minds. But George knows that Lucy is something more.

His only alternative is to flee Illyria, taking Lucy deep into the religious Outlands where she must pass as human because robots are seen as mockeries of God, burned at the stake, dismembered, crucified. Their odyssey leads them through betrayal, war and madness, ending only at the monastery of the Holy Machine…

***

Perhaps I should start this story with my escape across the border in the company of a beautiful woman?

1

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(@CorvusBooks, 1 July 2010, ebook, 289 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @OverDriveLibs)

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AMAZON

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I came across the author’s work recently because I liked the covers of his books and have become quite a fan. Like other books I’ve read by the author, The Holy Machine is not what you expect from science fiction. It’s a brilliantly written, dazzling and original book. I loved everything about it. I loved the way the book explores the development of AI. I look forward to reading more of this author’s work.

Posted in 2021, Anne Holt, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, Novel, Prime Reading, thriller

Blind Goddess by Anne Holt

A drug dealer is battered to death in the outskirts of Oslo. A young Dutch student, covered in blood, walks aimlessly through the streets of central Oslo. He is taken into custody, but refuses to speak.

Five days later a shady criminal lawyer called Hans Olsen is murdered. The two deaths don’t seem related, but Detective Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen is unconvinced. Soon, she uncovers a link between the bodies: Olsen defended the drug dealer.

But there are powerful forces working against Hanne; a conspiracy that reaches far beyond a crooked lawyer and a small-time dealer. The investigation will take her into the offices of the most powerful men in Norway – and even put her own life at risk…

***

The man was dead.

PROLOGUE

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(@CorvusBooks, 1 July 2012, ebook, 354 pages, borrowed from @AmazonKindle, #PrimeReading, translated by Tom Geddes)

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AMAZON

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The author has been on my radar for a while but this is the first chance I’ve had to read her work. I love thrillers. I tend to really enjoy Nordic noir so I was looking forward to Blind Goddess. I wasn’t disappointed. This offers everything I enjoy from thrillers; great characters, lots of action, twists and turns and great plotting. I thought this was a great book.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, literary fiction, Novel, Suchen Christine Lim, Top Books

The River’s Song by Suchen Christine Lim

Ping, an American citizen, returns to Singapore after many years and sees a country transformed by prosperity. Gone are the boatmen and hawkers who once lived along the crowded riverside and in their place rise the gleaming towers of the financial district.

Her childhood growing up among the river people had been very different, and leaving her first love Weng, a musician, for America, had been devastating.

Now that she is back in Singapore, can she face her former lover and reveal the secret that has separated them for many years?

***

The man had come to play the bamboo flute.

1

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(@AuroraMetro, 1 April 2014, ebook, 290 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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AMAZON

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I stumbled across this book by chance when it was offered as a freebie on Amazon a while ago. I loved the cover and the blurb piqued my interest. I really enjoyed fiction by Japanese, Singapore authors and the like so I was looking forward to The River’s Song. I was pulled into Ping’s story from the first couple of paragraphs and didn’t want to stop reading. I loved the way the story develops starting with Ping’s memories of her childhood and coming to the present when she finds herself back where she grew up in a city much changed. I really loved the characters and the setting and how effortlessly it all comes to life. I couldn’t recommend this enough.

Posted in 2021, First Read, historical fiction, Novel, Simon Turney

Caligula by @SJATurney

Everyone knows his name. Everyone thinks they know his story.

Rome 37AD. The emperor is dying. No-one knows how long he has left. The power struggle has begun.

When the ailing Tiberius thrusts Caligula’s family into the imperial succession in a bid to restore order, he will change the fate of the empire and create one of history’s most infamous tyrants, Caligula.

But was he really a monster?

Forget everything you think you know. Let Livilla, Caligula’s youngest sister and confidante, tell you what really happened. How her quiet, caring brother became the most powerful man on earth. And how, with lies, murder and betrayal, Rome was changed for ever.

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It starts with flashes.

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(@orionbooks, 8 March 2018, ebook, 442 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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AMAZON

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I stumbled across this book by chance as it was promoted on Amazon for 99p a while ago. I don’t know a whole lot about Roman history so the premise and plot intrigued me. This is a very acceptable book. I was engrossed from the first few lines. I’ve read other fiction set in Rome and have tried to read non-fiction but found these titles were dense, hard-going and unreadable. Caligula was a breath of fresh air. Unlike other books, not ever page involves a violent battle and you really get to know the characters, people and city. I thought this was a terrific book.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, Horror Fiction, Kevin Lucia, Short Fiction

Things You Need by @KevinBLucia

The things we want are so very rarely the things we need.

Clifton Heights, a modest Adirondack town, offers many unique attractions. Arcane Delights sells both paperbacks and hard-to-find limited editions. The Skylark Diner serves the best home-cooked meals around, with friendly service and a smile. Every August, Mr. Jingo’s County Fair visits, to the delight of children and adults. In essence, Clifton Heights is the quintessential small American town. Everyone knows everyone else, and everyone is treated like family. It is quiet, simple, and peaceful.

But shadows linger here. Flitting in dark corners, from the corner of the eye. If you walk down Main Street after dark, the slight scrape of shoes on asphalt whispers you’re not alone, but when you look over your shoulder, no one is there. The moon shines high and bright in the night sky, but instead of throwing light, it only seems to make the shadows lengthen.

Children disappear. Teens run away. Hunters get lost in the woods with frightening regularity. Husbands go mad, and wives vanish in the dead of night. And still, when the sun rises in the morning, you are greeted by townspeople with warm waves and friendly smiles, and the shivers pass as everything seems fresh and new…

Until night falls once more.

Handy’s Pawn and Thrift sits several blocks down from Arcane Delights. Like any thrift store, its wares range from the mundane to the bizarre. By daylight, it seems just another slice of small town Americana. But in its window hangs a sign which reads: We Have Things You Need. And when a lonely traveling salesman comes looking for something he desperately wants, after normal visiting hours, after night has fallen, he will face a harsh truth among the shelves of Handy’s Pawn and Thrift: the things we want are rarely the things we need.

***

How’d I end up here?

1

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(@crystallakepub, 28 September 2018, ebook, 306 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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AMAZON

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This is a new author for me. I have a few of his titles that were on offer for free a while ago and I look forward to reading more of his work. This is more like a collection of short stories linked by a man who finds himself in the town by chance in the thrift store where he stumbles across some of the darkness at the heart of the town. I really enjoyed the stories but wanted to know more about the narrator. The thrift store reminded me a lot of the store in Stephen King’s Needful Things.

Posted in 2021, ARC, Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, Grainne Murphy, literary fiction, Novel

#TheGhostlights by @GraMurphy

Can we ever truly escape our past?

The Ghostlights is the poignant story of a family of Irish women who are each looking for the real meaning of home. This is a novel about family, obligation, identity and small-town life, written with deftness and sensitivity by the author of Where the Edge Is.

When a stranger checks into a family B&B – in a small village in rural Ireland – no one takes too much notice… at least until his body is found in the lake four days later.

The identity of the unknown guest raises questions for polar opposite twin sisters Liv and Marianne and their mother Ethel, all of whom feel trapped by the choices they made earlier in life. They each find themselves forced to confront their past, their present and what they really want from their future.

The new novel from Gráinne Murphy, whose short fiction has been longlisted for 2021 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award.

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It was too early for breakfast.

GOOD FRIDAY

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(@Legend_Times_, 1 September 2021, 233 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 12 September)

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GET A COPY

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I’ve enjoyed other books from the author and was looking forward to The Ghostlights. I expected the book to focus on the dead guest in the B&B but this is not the main focal point of the story. The death instead serves as the catalyst for Liv, Marianne and Ethel to reassess their lives and choices. I really enjoyed the way the stories gradually come together and the way the author brings the small village where they live and the foibles of such places to life. I got a real sense of place from this book and fell in love with the vivid characters. This is a sad, beautiful book.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, Elena Ferrante, library book, literary fiction, Novel

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

Giovanna’s pretty face has changed: it’s turning into the face of an ugly, spiteful adolescent. But is she seeing things as they really are? Into which mirror must she look to find herself and save herself? She is searching for a new face in two kindred cities that fear and detest one another: the Naples of the heights, which assumes a mask of refinement, and the Naples of the depths, which professes to be a place of excess and vulgarity. She moves between these two cities, disoriented by the fact that, whether high or low, the city seems to offer no answer and no escape.

***

Two years before leaving home my father said to my mother that I was very ugly.

1

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(@EuropaEdUK, 1 September 2020, ebook, 329 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @BorrowBox)

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AMAZON

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Ferrante has been on my radar for ages since I read and loved My Brilliant Friend but her books are always on loan at the library. The Lying Life of Adults was featured on the TV show Between The Covers and sounded good so I was delighted it was available. I don’t know if the same translator works on all the book but I loved the language, characters and use of imagery. I loved the way the book explores Giovanna’s coming of age and the relationship between her and her parents who seem to be self-obsessed. I didn’t want to stop reading the book. I really need to read her other books.

Posted in Adrian Tchaikovsky, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, Novel, Prime Reading, Science Fiction

Cage of Souls by @aptshadow

Humanity clings to life on a dying Earth in an epic, far-future science fiction novel from an award-winning author.

The sun is bloated, diseased, dying perhaps. Beneath its baneful light, Shadrapar, last of all cities, harbours fewer than 100,000 human souls. Built on the ruins of countless civilisations, Shadrapar is a museum, a midden, an asylum, a prison on a world that is ever more alien to humanity.

Bearing witness to the desperate struggle for existence between life old and new is Stefan Advani: rebel, outlaw, prisoner, survivor. This is his testament, an account of the journey that took him into the blazing desolation of the western deserts; that transported him east down the river and imprisoned him in the verdant hell of the jungle’s darkest heart; that led him deep into the labyrinths and caverns of the underworld. He will meet with monsters, madman, and mutants.

The question is which one of them will inherit this Earth?

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Where to begin?

A GAME OF CHESS

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(@HoZ_Books, 4 April 2019, ebook, 559 pages, borrowed from @AmazonKindle, #PrimeReading)

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AMAZON

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I’ve heard of the author but never got round to reading his work before. Cage of Souls sounded like a terrific read so I decided to give it a shot. I had a great time reading it. I don’t often read science fiction but have started to read more in recent years, expanding my tastes. I was impressed by the world-building in the book and the way the author brings Shadrapar to life, making it so real. The book is narrated by Stefan and I enjoyed being inside his head as he goes through life altering events. This is a very definition of ‘epic’.