Covid-19, Traditions and of course books…..

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I’ve had for as far back as I can remember, a reading related habit. Every time I was in an airport, I had to buy a book. In my early years it was whenever I went with my Mum to say goodbye to my Uncle, who lives in Canada, and had been over for a visit. When I began travelling myself I kept up the tradition. Every time I went on holiday I would buy a book. When I went to Florida I bought a Jack Higgins novel which my Dad said he we like to borrow once I had finished reading it. I passed it over to him at the end of the flight. Another time I bought the latest Lee Child, and again ended up leaving it behind at the hotel for someone else to read, as I had finished it. The time that sticks in my mind the most though, resonates more than ever at the moment.

I was going on holiday with my family, and true to form I bought myself a book to read on the plane and while I was away. The book I bought was Airframe by Michael Crichton, an author I had long enjoyed, and was about a mid air incident on a flight. My Mom, couldn’t understand why I would want to buy such a book when I was hours away from getting on a plane. I never thought about it at the time, it was just a book I fancied reading by an author that I liked.

I’ve recently revisited this line of thought however, with my current choice of reading. The first book, was Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama, a story around a massive plane crash and the impact it had on those who had to regularly climb a mountain to the crash site, and of those who had the report the news every day. It was a book I picked at random because again I like the author.

Then, I decided I needed to re-read Day Four by Sarah Lotz. On Day four of a luxury cruise, the ship becomes stranded in the middle of nowhere, with everything on board from the lights to the toilets systematically shutting down. After all the stories of stranded cruise ships due to Covid-19 it felt, well…

That was when I remembered how much I love the dark writing of Sarah Lotz, so next up was her book The White Road, where an adrenaline junkie has a close call whilst caving, and when his video of the tragedy goes viral, ends up trying to beat the ratings by climbing Mt Everest, where, well let’s face it, it all goes a bit pear shaped. It’s quite the unnerving tale, and as fascinating it is to read it has also peaked my interest in the real life adventures and mysteries that surround the mountain and those risking it all to get to the top, which has given me something else to investigate during the lockdown.

Finally, staying with the mountain climbing theme, I re-read Michelle Paver’s Thin Air. Another ghostly tale of how things can go badly wrong when climbing. This one I have on audio book rather than physical, and I can only say one thing. Don’t listen to it on your own, late at night. You will not be able to sleep afterward.

Now I’m off to read Sarah Lotz The Three, about four simultaneous plane crashes and their four survivors, because, you know, I’m sensing a bit of a theme here…

Book 50

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Trying to get my head around the blogging thing again, as I have been off my game for too long, despite still reading a large number of books. That said I’ve just finished book 50 for 2020….

The Last Act by Brad Parks #ExclusiveExtract

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Former Broadway star Tommy Jump isn’t getting the roles he once did. As his final run as Sancho Ponza draws to a close, Tommy is getting ready to give up the stage, find a steady paycheck, and settle down with his fiancée.

Cue Special Agent Danny Ruiz. An old school friend of Tommy’s, now with the FBI, Ruiz makes Tommy an offer that sounds too good to refuse. All Tommy has to do is spend six months in prison, acting as failed bank robber ’Pete Goodrich’.

Inside, he must find and befriend Mitchell Dupree, who has hidden a secret cache of documents incriminating enough to take down New Colima, one of Mexico’s largest drug cartels. If Tommy can get Dupree and reveal where the documents are hidden, the FBI will give him $300,000, more than enough to jumpstart a new life. But does he have what it takes to pull off this one final role?

 

For at least the tenth time in the last twenty minutes, Amanda Porter looked at the clock that hung on the wall of the kitchen—which was also the living room, her studio, and the only room in this shabby, stifling, non- air- conditioned second- floor apartment that wasn’t a bedroom or a bathroom.

Five fifty- two. Were this an ordinary matinee, Tommy would have been back by now. He was obviously still saying his good- byes. The ceiling fan took another spin through the same hot air it had been futilely recycling all afternoon. She sighed, appraising the painting
she had been halfheartedly jabbing at, knowing she was too distracted to give it the kind of attention it demanded.

Was this one headed for the trash? She tossed way more than she kept. For months now she had been sending photos of her completed work to Hudson van Buren, the proprietor of the Van Buren Gallery and one of the most influential voices in the business. He didn’t need
to see the bottom ninety- eight percent of her work. Only the top two, thank you very much.

When people met Amanda Porter, they immediately underestimated her, because she had this cute southern twang; because she was five foot two, blue- eyed, and adorable, with her wavy strawberry- blond hair, her button nose, her freckles; because she was twenty-seven but could get carded buying a lottery ticket.

Those looks belied the fierceness with which she attacked her work. No one looked at her and thought scrappy, but that’s how she thought of herself. She was the scrappy girl who had made it from this little nowhere town in Mississippi to a scholarship at Cooper Union and now to the brink of artistic stardom by outworking everyone and refusing to compromise. She poured her drive for perfection into her art. It was excellence or nothing.

#blogblitz Out of the Silence by Owen Mullen

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Star investigative reporter Ralph Buchanan’s glory days are behind him. His newspaper has banished him to Pakistan, not knowing the greatest moment of his long career is waiting for him there.

When Simone Jasnin asks him to help expose a grave injustice, he finds himself embroiled in a harrowing tale that began in a dusty settlement in rural Punjab, setting in motion a chain of events that will change the lives of everyone involved.

Seven years later in the city of Lahore, members of a prominent family are being brutally murdered one by one. The only clue is a hand-carved wooden bangle left at the scene of each crime.

As the list of suspects grows and the tension mounts, Ralph realises the answers might be closer to home than he ever thought possible.

Solving the mystery will put him back on top but at what cost?

Only when the smoke clears will the killing stop and honour be satisfied…

When you are found asleep on the sofa after being up all night reading you know it’s a goodie.

A stark story, written excellently. Highlighting how women are treated, even in our modern age.

#ChristmasCrackers The Adulterer’s Wife by Leigh Russell #bloodhoundbooks

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Julie is devastated to learn that her husband, Paul, is having an affair. It seems her life can’t get any worse – until she comes home to find his dead body in their bed.

When the police establish he was murdered, Julie is the obvious suspect.

To protect her son from the terrible situation, Julie sends the teenage boy to his grandparents in Edinburgh while she fights to prove her innocence.

With all the evidence pointing to her, the only way she can escape conviction is by discovering the true identity of her husband’s killer.

But who really did murder Paul?

The truth is never straightforward…

The Adulterer’s Wife, is Leigh Russell’s first foray into psychological thrillers amid an extremely successful career of writing police procedurals.  This is just one of the reasons why I was excited to read this book, I’ve read many authors over long periods of time and I find it thrilling when any choose to move away from their ‘norm’ and embrace a new challenge.

This book is such a thing and it was fabulous, I slipped into the story easily, comfortable in the knowledge of Leigh’s style and pace, but eager to discover this whole new ‘side’ to one of my favourite authors, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Julie’s flawed character might make you question yourself, would you make the decisions she made? Would you have behaved differently? You may think her actions questionable, but how would you react in a similar situation?  When a book makes me not only wonder the motivations of the character, but to also ask myself these sorts of questions as I’m reading, I consider that to be a winner.

It’s a definite one sitting read, and perfect for one of those lazy days by the pool, or sunbathing in the garden.  You won’t put it down until you are done.

My only lingering thought is that no matter how focused I was on the matters of the day, would I not truly realise my husband was dead?

 

 

 

#blogtour – Too Far by Jason Starr

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One night. One date. What have you got to lose?

Jack Harper isn’t a bad man, but he’s stuck in a loveless marriage with a mediocre job just trying to keep sober. The only good thing in his life is his son. When an old college friend introduces him to a new extramarital dating website, he tentatively reaches out to find a distraction from his misery. But when he goes to meet up with his steamy online date, he quickly realises it was a dire choice.

Soon, Jack finds himself desperately trying to prove his innocence for crimes he did not commit, and the life he once had – unhappy as it was – is nothing but a dream. Now, he’s living his worst nightmare. . .

 

Why? Why? Why? Just Why?

OMG It’s been a long time since I’ve been so frustrated with a character that I’ve wanted to slam the book down,  and then immediately pick it back up again just to find out what they were going to do next. Between Jack Harper and Detective Barasco I don’t know which one I want to shout at more….

In this fabulous one sitting read (albeit for the slamming downs and picking ups) all I kept asking myself was Why?, not just the usual why is this happening? but also Why is he behaving like this? and reacting this way?  I couldn’t get my head round it…

To me that’s the sign of a great book,  I couldn’t figure anything out, no matter how much I tried, which is what every crime fiction reader I know wants.  Not to figure out the plot but to be surprised, intrigued and pulled along by the story.  Too Far does precisely that.

You’ll love it, and if you’ve read any of Starr’s previous books you’ll find a sneaky nod or two in them in this one.

JASON STARR

Jason Starr is the international bestselling author of many crime novels and thrillers and his books have been published in over a dozen languages. Many of his books are in development for film and TV. Starr’s bestselling crime novels include Cold Caller, Nothing Personal, Fake ID, Hard Feelings, Tough Luck and Twisted City, followed by Lights Out, The Follower, Panic Attack, Savage Lane and his latest novel, Too Far. He is one of only a handful of authors who have won the Anthony Award for mystery fiction multiple times. He was born in Brooklyn and lives in Manhattan.

#blogtour – The Doll Collector by Joanna Stephen-Ward

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A couple and their young son burn to death in a house fire.

A girl dies from a nut allergy.

A woman falls under a train during the rush hour.

An accountant falls down the steps to his basement.

Their deaths appear to be accidents but Gloria knows they were murdered because she murdered them. And every time Gloria kills she buys a doll.

But how many dolls will she need to keep her satisfied?

When Gloria takes a room as a lodger her behaviour starts to spin out of control. Gloria wants love and happiness and friendship and she will do anything she can to get what she wants…

Wow, Gloria is quite possibly one of the most repugnant characters I’ve read for quite some time and it was fabulous.  I tore through The Doll Collector in just a couple of sittings as I really found that I wanted to discover all about the murders and of course the accident.

As we learn about Gloria’s horrible past, both inflicted on her and by her, we also uncover the history of Maurice, the unfortunate man who has offered Gloria a home.  There are plenty of vile characters in his life too.  Men who want nothing but money and power at don’t care for anyone who stops them doing it.

I will admit that for a short while around the middle I was unsure where the story would go next but as I eagerly read on I was brilliantly surprised and thrilled, and I thought the ending was suitably fabulous.

I highly recommend The Doll Collector as well worth every penny of your hard earned pounds…