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

***

(@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.

***

It starts with flashes.

***

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

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AMAZON

****

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

***

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

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AMAZON

***

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 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?

***

Where to begin?

A GAME OF CHESS

***

(@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’.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, kevin ansbro, Novel, Top Books

The Fish That Climbed a Tree by @kevinansbro

Following his savage murder in a London vicarage, Reverend Ulysses Drummond embarks on an epic odyssey in the afterlife, wrestling with his conscience and misguidedly spurning the obvious advantages of a free ticket to Paradise.

His ten-year-old son, Henry, is left to muddle through life, encountering school bullies, big-hearted benefactors and cold-blooded killers on his passage to adulthood. Will Henry find love, success and happiness in his life – or will he suffer the cruel and agonising death that was foretold?

***

Due to his being dead for the past decade, Ulysses Drummond could only look on in horror as his son was doused in petrol.

PROLOGUE

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(2QT Limited, 7 December 2018, ebook, 242 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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AMAZON

***

This is a new author for me. I stumbled across his work by chance when I saw this title promoted by Amazon. I loved the title and decided I had to read the book. I barely even glanced at the blurb. I really loved The Fish That Climbed a Tree. I’m a book freak and read a lot and can honestly say I haven’t read anything quite like this before, unique, engaging from the first line and entertaining. The book is the perfect blend of comedy and darkness. It touches on some dark subject matter but there are some comic gold moments as well. I can’t recommend this enough.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, Helen McClory, library book, Novel

Bitterhall by @HelenMcClory

From the prize-winning author of The Goldblum Variations: a tale of desire, madness and the reality-constructing powers of books.

In a darkening season in a northern city, Daniel, Órla and Tom’s lives intersect through a peculiar flatshare and a stolen nineteenth-century diary written by a dashing gentleman who may not be entirely dead. An interwar-themed Hallowe’en party leads to a series of entanglements: a longed-for sexual encounter, a betrayal, and a reality-destroying moment of possession.

As the consequences unfurl, Bitterhall‘s narrative reveals the ways in which our subjectivity tampers with the notion of an objective reality, and delves into how we represent – and understand – our muddled, haunted selves.

***

I am on the swing in the garden, under the oak bough, late August night, a couple of beers tipped over beside me in the short mossy grass and my heart is a neat bundle of sticks in love with the dead and unreachable.

AUTUMN SOFT

***

(@PolygonBooks, 1 April 2021, ebook, 323 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @OverDriveLibs)

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GET A COPY

***

This is a new author for me. I thought Bitterhall was a great book. I thought the plot was original and loved the way the author took the story. The narrator is split between Daniel, Órla and Tom and the stories moves about in time as you learn their own version of events and the fragments eventually merge. The book is well-written and compelling. I was gripped from the first couple of pages.

Posted in 2021, Alexis Henderson, First Read, historical fiction, Horror Fiction, Novel, Top Books

The Year of the Witching by @alexhwrites

Born on the fringes of Bethel, Immanuelle does her best to obey the Church and follow Holy Protocol. For it was in Bethel that the first Prophet pursued and killed four powerful witches, and so cleansed the land.

And then a chance encounter lures her into the Darkwood that surrounds Bethel.

It is a forbidden place, haunted by the spirits of the witches who bestow an extraordinary gift on Immanuelle. The diary of her dead mother . . .

Fascinated by and fearful of the secrets the diary reveals, Immanuelle begins to understand why her mother once consorted with witches. And as the truth about the Prophets, the Church and their history is revealed, so Immanuelle understands what must be done. For the real threat to Bethel is its own darkness.

Bethel must change. And that change will begin with her . . .

***

SHE WAS BORN breech, in the deep of night.

THE BEAST

***

(@TransworldBooks, 23 July 2020, ebook, 355 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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GET A COPY

***

I seem to have accumulated quite a lot of books about witchcraft. The Year of Witching is the last of them. For the moment. I loved it and wish I’d read it ages ago. The book is part horror part historical fiction. There are some very dark moments as Immanuelle digs deeper into the past of her deceased parents and uncovers the dark heart of Bethel and the atrocities committed in the name of the Father. There’s nothing like a little religious fanaticism, child abuse and torture to keep me flicking through the pages. This book is well written and engrossing. I loved it.

Posted in 2021, ARC, Blog Tour, First Read, historical fiction, literary fiction, Matt Stanley, Novel

#IamtheSea by #MattStanley

1870. Apprentice lighthouseman James Meakes joins two others at the remote offshore rock of Ripsaw Reef – replacement for a keeper whose death there remains unexplained.

Meakes’ suspicions grow as he accustoms himself to his new vertical world. He finds clues, obscure messages and signs that a fourth occupant may be sharing the space, slipping unseen between staircases.

With winter approaching, the keepers become isolated utterly from shore. Sea and wind rage against the tower. Danger is part of the life. Death is not uncommon. And yet as the storm builds, the elements pale against a threat more wild and terrifying than any of them could have imagined.

***

The corpse has been tied to the balcony railing for five days, enshrouded in a bed-sheet cerement.

ONE

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(@Legend_Times_, 17 August 2021, 400 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 5 September)

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GET A COPY

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This is a new author for me. I have a fondness for books set in lighthouses. They hold a strange fascination for me. It’s been my dream since childhood to live in a lighthouse. I’ve read a few novels now and I Am the Sea sounded like something I’d really enjoy. I had a great time reading this book. I look forward to reading other books by the author. The book is narrated by Meakes and you really get inside his head as he tries to adjust to his new life and the strange experiences he has. The book gets pretty dark as some facts about Meakes are gradually revealed. I loved the setting of the book and the sense of atmosphere that runs across the pages. This is well written and engrossing.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, Novel, Steve Cavanagh, thriller

Fifty-Fifty by @SteveCavanagh_

TWO SISTERS ON TRIAL FOR MURDER. THEY ACCUSE EACH OTHER.

WHO DO YOU BELIEVE?


‘911 what’s your emergency?’


‘My dad’s dead. My sister Sofia killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’


‘My dad’s dead. My sister Alexandra killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’


One of them is a liar and a killer.
But which one?

***

For a trial lawyer, there are two words in the English language that terrify us more than any other.

EDDIE

***

(@orionbooks, 3 September 2020, ebook, 349 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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GET A COPY

***

This is a new author for me. I’ve wanted to read the book since it was featured on Between The Covers. It sounded like the kind of thriller I’d love. I really enjoyed this book and will definitely read more from the author. I loved the premise of the book and couldn’t wait to see where the story went with both sisters on trial for the same murder. Who would the jury find guilty? Would they pick the right sister? I loved the fact the chapters alternate between both lawyers with occasional chapters from the killer, known simply as SHE and written in such a way it could be either sister. I was engrossed.