A Book A Day, Sunday Wrap Up #2

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F is For

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Flesh House by Stuart MacBride.  Flesh House is the fourth book in the Logan McRae series and is the pivotal point where a good character becomes a great character.  It’s dark, gruesome and you’ll never look at bacon the same way again.

G is For

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The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly.  Mickey Haller Book 5. The latest installment of just one of Michael Connelly’s fabulous series.  If you love legal thrillers with a great twist, get into these.

H is For

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Hostage by Kristina Ohlsson, I haven’t read this one yet but with its plot of a plane in flight being taken by force and being held for ransom it’s one I’m keen to read.

I is For

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In The Dark by Mark Billingham.  In The Dark was the first standalone novel that Billngham wrote after taking a break in his Tom Thorne series of novels.  Since then however, main character Helen Weeks has appeared more often, crossing over and enhancing the Thorne books.

J is For

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Joyland by Stephen King.  I’ve only ever read one Stephen King novel, which was Mr Mercedes.  I’m now moving on to try a few more recently adding this one to my TBR pile.

K is For

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Kind of Cruel by Sophie Hannah.  Always dark, detailed, and extremely well plotted, Sophie Hannah’s books are a guaranteed riveting read.

L is For

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Long Way Home by Eva Dolan.  Way too many good friends have told me this is brilliant.  One day soon, I hope, I’ll get to find out…

Just a bit of fun….

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When I’m not reading, reviewing, attending festivals or generally indulging myself in all things to do with the crime genre, one of my favourite ways to relax is photography.  I’ve often completed the odd monthly challenge on instagram set by Chantelle Ellem, otherwise known as FatMumSlim.

I haven’t done one for a while but the October challenge prompts were recently posted and I found that it was perfectly set up to enable me to combine that challenge with this blog.

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Here’s the challenge board….  My plan is to find one book each day that fits the prompt, some I will have read, some I’m looking forward to, but all books in my possession that I hope some of you will enjoy.

You can follow my day to day progress on either my instagram account or my Blipfoto account  and so you don’t get bombarded with posts on here I’ll do weekly wrap ups.

Wish me luck.

Another bookish haul

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I got this delightful bunch of freebies courtesy of Cactus TV’s ITV3 show The Crime Thriller Club. These are the titles that are up for the Specsavers Crime Thriller Book Club Award 2014

For those that haven’t seen the show before look up Episode 2 of the 2014 season which aired on the 23rd September for a chance to see myself and my Crimesquad.com partner Chris in action in the end of show quiz.

And if you missed that show, don’t worry.  There’s another chance to catch Chris and I in action being shown on Monday 20th October, ITV3 9PM BST

Where you’ll find me this weekend

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title_bob Taking Place from the 15th – 18th May at the Marriott Royal Hotel, Bristol, UK.

With a whopping 50+ events (be prepared to make some tough decisions over what you attend) scheduled over the four days, it’s an action packed four days with plenty of time for author interaction.

It’s where I will be from Friday morning, until Sunday lunchtime. If you are heading there come look me up, if I’m not in a panel you’ll most probably find me in the bar. I’ll be the one in the hat. Come say hello.

Meet the detective who fuelled my obsession (a.k.a who did it for you?)

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From the age of nine I lived across the road from a public library.  As I grew up, it was where I spent most of my free hours devouring everything and anything I could.  Indeed by the age of thirteen I had pretty much depleted the entire children’s section.  Thankfully, the local council had a rule that once I reached that age I could access the adult section of the library (and indeed any others in their control), provided a written parental consent had been submitted in person by the parent.  My Mom understood my voracious appetite for books and as such was more than happy to do so.

That was when I discovered for the first time the age old delights of Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and many more.  I didn’t find them by chance, and neither did I find them by reputation.  I found them by a love of crime fiction.  A love I first felt blossom from a series of, now sadly out of print, books.  Books which I have seen go for four figures on certain auction sites that will remain nameless.

The man who truly fuelled my love of the genre was Nils-Olof Franzen, with his series of Agaton Sax books, whose English editions were illustrated by the fabulous Quentin Blake.  Of the  11 books in the Agaton Sax series, Franzen had 10 translated into English between 1965 & 1971, including amongst them, Agaton Sax and the League of Silent Exploders and Agaton Sax and the London Computer Plot.  The series was also featured several times on the BBC series Jackanory, and Agaton Sax and the Max Brothers became a four part animated series in 1972.

I mention this now, because today I got this, and although it’s been almost 30+ years since last read one of these stories, I have loved every minute of reading it.  It was as delightful piece of escapism today as it was way back then.  It’s still a great introduction to the crime genre and I’m sure the reason I have as much love for cosy crime fiction, as I do for the hard core thrillers, and well executed police procedurals, because it has a flair for it all.

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Agaton Sax and the Scotland Yard Mystery

In which AGATON SAX, Editor-in-Chief of the Bykoping Post and detective extraordinary, directs his amazing intelligence (and his editorial telescope) to the problem of who has stolen Scotland Yard’s Secret Code Register of Current Criminals … the infamous crew of the bad ship Esmeralda lose their soup … and the mysterious “Boss” gets a nasty shock to his system.

 

Now, own up, who did it for you?

Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well – Nancy Atherton

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The sleepy Cotswold village of Finch is filled with curiosity when young Australian Jack MacBride arrives to wrap up his late uncle’s affairs, but when Lori Shepherd volunteers to help Jack clear out his uncle’s overgrown garden, they discover something even more surprising.

After making a wish in the newly uncovered well, Lori is later baffled to find it seems to have come true, and as word of this granted wish spreads though the village, locals begin to turn out in droves in order to make their own wishes.

The village soon descends into chaos however, as one man’s wish can be another’s worst nightmare, and it’s up to Lori, together with some otherworldly help from Aunt Dimity, to find out what is really going on.

One of the great things about bookbridgr from Headline is that it is a brilliant way of discovering new authors. You could have knocked me down with a feather when I discovered Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well was actually the 19th book in its series, as it was one I had never heard of before and I love cosy crime mysteries and suspense novels.

I personally felt that Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well falls somewhere between two of my favourite writers MC Beaton and Paul Magrs, so if you enjoy either of them you will love these. It was a thrilling read with an intriguing supernatural side that will keep you turning pages until you suddenly realise that several hours have passed, and you’ve been unable to put the book down.

It has charming, well thought through characters, and an enchanting setting. As someone who lives on the outskirts of the Cotswolds and likes to visit villages much like the fictional Finch it’s well drawn. I also found that I had no need to have read any of the previous 18 novels in order to enjoy this one. To me, Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well was a delightful tale that left me feeling light-hearted and with a pleasant smile on my face as I closed the book. By the time I have sourced the rest of these novels, as I now surely must, my book shelves will be groaning!

The Chase – Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg

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The Fox and the Hare are back and the chase is on!

The newest target for the FBI’s secret odd couple is Carter Grove, the ruthless leader of a private security company who has stolen a rare Chinese artifact from the Smithsonian, an artefact whose theft was covered up and one the Chinese now want back.

In order to avoid an international incident should the truth come to light, Nick and Kate must operate under the radar in order to steal the piece back. As the chase for the artifact moves rapidly around the globe from Washington DC, to Shanghai and even to the Highlands of Scotland the heat is on to prove no one can outsmart Fox and O’Hare.

The Chase is another glorious riot of a romp from Evanovich and Goldberg, that left me wondering exactly what it is I like most about these books.

I’m not sure if it is the spirit and fun of the “will they? won’t they?” (of course they will) relationship, the audacity of the cons they pull, the pure escapism of the plots, or the breakneck pace of the novel which caused me to delightedly tear through the book in a matter of hours. One thing I do know is that these books deliver pages and pages of fun.

With a cast of wacky, yet bizarrely believable characters, its cheeky style, range of humour, and fabulous sense of adventure I think that this is going to be another winning series for both Evanovich and Goldberg. Certainly from my point of view, as I for one am already looking forward to more impressive cons, thrilling takedowns and the next adventure from this deceptive duo.

The Heist – Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg

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Since it’s impossible to review a new book by Janet Evanovich without mentioning Stephanie Plum, I won’t bother to try, I will simply say that Kate O’Hare is about as un-Plum like as you can get, but she is a character that is just as much, if not more, fun and addictive.

The Hare and the Fox.

Kate O’Hare is a FBI agent who has made it her career to chase down notorious con artist Nicholas Fox.  She is smart, sassy, supremely capable, oh and also an ex Navy SEAL. (Cue some artistic license from the authors here, who note at the beginning of the book that there is no such thing as a female Navy SEAL, although there should be.)

Nicholas Fox is highly intelligent, handsome and charm personified.  All traits which have enabled him to become so succesful at his ‘cons’ and to evade capture for years, until now that is.

Now she’s got her man, but he doesn’t want to be caught and instead makes a deal with the FBI to work alongside O’Hare to capture a corrupt investment banker, as long as they don’t kill each other first.

The Book

One thing I did find was that given Lee Goldberg’s history in writing TV shows, I found myself often comparing the relationship between Fox and O’ Hare with various TV partnerships, of which the one that sprang to mind most often was the tempestuous relationship between Cybil Shephard and Bruce Willis in the 1980’s show Moonlighting

The Heist is an absolutely delightful book to pick up and read, with its fantastic verbal sparring, mad cap moments and emotionally charged relationship. Following the adventurous duo through exotic lands and pirate waters The Heist proves it is what all Evanovich books are….  The perfect piece of escapism from the everyday grind.

It is also a book you certainly won’t want to put down so when you sit down to read, make sure you are curled up in your favourite chair and plan to be there for a while.

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A Bonus Taster

Want more of an introduction to O’Hare and Fox? Long standing Evanovich fan who wants to see how this new pairing compares to Stephanie Plum? Never read an Evanovich or Goldberg book before? Just want more?

Then as a bonus addition to the series, grab your Kindle or Kindle App and download Pros and Cons, a short story prequel to The Heist.

It’s Dark & Stormy Down in Brighton

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Coming hot on the heels of CrimeFest and making sure you’ll be in the mood for Crime Story, it’s shaping up to be an A-May-zing May, with a second new Crime festival being announced in the last week, making for three weekends packed with all your crime fiction favourites.

Being launched as part of the larger Brighton Festival which runs from the 3rd to the 25th May, the Dark & Stormy Festival runs over three days from the 23rd to the 25th, and aims to bring you the best of all things crime related.

Dark & Stormy is a brand new UK crime festival, serving up a wicked selection of book, film, music & theatre events. We launch in May 2014, in partnership with Brighton Festival, Brighton Fringe, and Dukes at Komedia, to celebrate and promote this massively popular genre, bringing its fans, creators and stars together for one criminally good and unforgettable weekend.

Our aim is to appeal, not only to the legions of readers who keep crime writers at the top of the international bestseller lists, but also to the huge audiences who flock to watch The Killing and Breaking Bad on TV, Kick Ass and James Bond at the cinema, Max Payne and Grand Theft Auto on their PlayStations, and The Perfect Murder and Emil and the Detectives in the West End.

Sounds like another fantastic opportunity to celebrate crime fiction. So, grab your diaries and blot out this and the following weekends because there’s an unbelievable amount of criminal activity to be shared in.

CrimeFest – May 15th – 18th

Dark and Stormy – May 23rd  – 25th

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Crime Story – May 31st – June 1st.