A continually bullied runt of a youngster, Chas Larkin discovers his chutzpah and decides to take on the London gangs.
In the sleazy and violent East End of 1966 London, he is unwittingly assisted by Scotland Yard and MI5, who use the boy to delay an IRA campaign in the city. Together with the mysterious DCI Casey, an enigma amongst the bomb-damaged slums, they stir the pot of fermenting disquiet.
But can Chas achieve his midsummer night’s dream of total revenge?
Black Rose is a story of matriarchal might, of superstition, of a lucky charm tainted with malevolent juju, and of a young man’s smoldering anger and thirst for retribution.
I received a free e-copy of Black Rose in exchange for an honest review, which I give freely without bias. Many thanks to the author for the copy.
This is my introduction to the writing talents of Pete Adams and I was not disappointed. Initial impression, this is different and in a good way. The build up to the story, with a preface, foreward and then the initial chapter sparked a great deal of interest. I loved the idea of the grotty crumpet, being a good luck charm for the gang members, best explained by this quote from the book: ‘Someone’s ‘arf inched the lucky crumpet and replaced it with a replica…’ she paused to think on ‘… and this one’s got bad juju.’
It’s a tale of the senseless enmity between two equally villainous gangs: the Saints and the Larkins who own two pubs in the east End of London. I loved the word play used to describe the pubs. The pub owned by the Saints is called the Dog and Duck Pub (Dad’s.) The Larkins own the Bottle and Glass pub, “Arries.” The various character names, are entertaining too: Roisin O’Neill, ‘most called her Rosie, or Ginger Nut,’ …
There are speculations, whispers and uncertainties about an up-and-coming rival group: the O’ Neils and Roisin, a young girl who comes to the aid of poor long-suffering Chas.
There’s a rich diversity in the characters, all of which are so blooming great, particularly the female characters and gangster molls which Pete Adams did a wonderful job in portraying. Equally, Chas, the unfortunate lad with the club foot, who is bullied, ridiculed and treated appallingly by everyone including his mum, has an enviable creative character arc to keep you enthralled.
I loved the engaging banter between and amongst various characters notably: Detective Inspector Padraig, (Paddy,) Casey. Detective sergeant Flora Wade, Wendy Richards the child psychiatrist, Wade’s girlfriend Wendy, Nadia and the gangland molls.
At its heart this is a witty tale, full of observations about the deep recesses of human nature. It packs some surprises including: gangland killings, pub bombings, the threat of the IRA, heads exploding and extraordinary revelations as the tale unfolds. And that’s not forgetting the fate of the crumpet (which had me in fits of laughter!)
Since Maylee was abducted from her high school the very month of graduation, her Aunt Autumn has never lost hope in finding her.
It’s been three years. Autumn has finally reached inside herself and found the courage to track down an old lead, and travels across the country to find more clues about Maylee’s disappearance.
But will she be able to pry Maylee’s case back open, and what will she uncover in the process of searching for Maylee?
It’s a cold, dark world we live in, and Autumn is about to find out just how cruel it can be. But strength and determination are on her side, and she will do whatever it takes to deliver justice.
This is an impressive debut novel. It’s strengths lie in great characterisation, fantastic detailing and descriptions which enhance the reader’s experience.
Search For Maylee has much to commend it: sadness, anger, grief, fear, anxiety, the list goes on and on.
I won’t lie to you, it’s pretty grim and gut wrenchingly sad in places, and parts of it made me want to cry with the sheer terror and torment suffered by the young women, as you would expect in such abductions.
Autumn sets out to find her niece and uncovers a group of predatory and evil men. She puts herself in dangerous situations and doesn’t give up. She is one strong-willed, determined lady and I loved her for that. I particularly loved the part where she went undercover. That alone sent chills down my spine.
No spoilers, but kudos to the author for adding a touch of lightness with the developing love story between Autumn and Chance to soften the edge off some of the trauma.
The ending was bitter sweet. Personally, I don’t think it would have been right to end the narrative any other way. I can’t say anymore for fear of spoiling the story for you.
A fantastic tale, well done Didi Oviatt. I am sure I will be reading more from this author. I listened to Search For Maylee on audio and loved the Author’s About The Author page which was wonderfully recounted, so personal, giving the listener an added bonus – Didi Oviatt explains her love of writing and how she is an “unexpected novelist.”
I related to that sentiment a lot.
Rating: 5 stars. Highly recommended for readers of crime, suspense, and thriller fiction.
Welcome to Catherine Fearns, my next guest on my new feature – Isolation For Writers. How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.
How is Catherine coping with this enforced isolation?
Here is her answer:
Hi everyone, I’m Catherine Fearns and I’m a writer. I have published three Amazon best-selling crime thrillers with Crooked Cat Books/Darkstroke, and I also write as a music journalist.
Thank you very much to Marjorie Mallon for hosting me on the blog today to write about my personal experience of writing during coronavirus lockdown…
For many people, coping with isolation has been the hardest challenge of these times. But some of us have had to adapt to the loss of isolation. With four school-age children and a husband who worked long hours and travelled extensively, I was used to spending long days, and long evenings, alone in my own world. And I loved it. Now I have a house full of noisy people, twenty-four hours a day, all needing a lot of attention. Not to mention home-schooling. And it’s wonderful too, so much so that I feel guilty about all the terrible things happening in the outside world when we are safe in our family bubble. But finding time to write is a challenge.
Before corona hit, I was finishing the edits on my fourth novel, and at the exciting stage where I had just come up with the concept for my fifth book and ready to get started. Then I was suddenly thrust into this new and very confined world. It’s difficult to get into the right headspace for novel-writing when you can only snatch a few minutes to yourself here and there – you really need long stretches alone to think. But even for writers without children, concentrating is a challenge at the moment.
Are you finding it hard to focus on reading a book? To tear yourself away from the news, from social media?
Low-level yet constant anxiety has become a way of life for everyone. When you’re living with such uncertainty, worrying about vulnerable family members, friends losing their jobs, wondering when this will be over and what the world will be like afterwards…
I found an experimental strategy to keep myself writing. I decided to start writing my new novel as a serial, and to let readers experience the process in real-time. I post two new chapters every week on my website, bite-size so readers have time to read them, and I have time to write them! Readers can even interact if they wish, by adding comments and suggestions. This concept actually works perfectly for the dystopian theme of the book, and I have been using a variety of media to tell the story, including audio files, images, video and letters.
I do feel a little reckless, posting my unedited work for readers to see, but it has also been liberating and confidence-building. Most importantly, putting that pressure on myself means that I have to get the words down every day. I try and wake up an hour before the kids, and if I still need more time, I suggest that we all have a reading and writing hour after lunch.
I’m aware that none of this makes financial sense. I may be shooting myself in the foot by making a whole book available for free when I could have waited and published traditionally. But I don’t think I would have had the discipline or concentration to write during this period otherwise. And I wanted to offer something, however small, to readers who might just need an extra little activity in their day.
Nobody should feel they have to achieve things during this time of corona. It’s ok to just be – to stay safe, spend time with family, read and relax. But my personal coping strategy has been to create a little something every day. And I have to admit that one of the things I’m looking forward to most when this is over is to spend a day alone!
The next blockbuster thriller for those who loved The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl…. a novel with “an astonishing intensity that drags you in and never – ever – lets you go.” (Daily Mail, UK)
On a rainy afternoon, a mother’s life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street …
I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.
At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them.
This psychological thriller surprised me, again and again but I am ashamed to say it has been sitting on my shelf for some time. And guess what – it belongs to my mum! She loves well written murder mysteries and thrillers (the more gruesome the better) but can’t watch anything remotely scary on TV. This cracks me up! So mum, you’d be proud of me, I loved this, even though some passages made me draw a shocked breath in, thankful that I wasn’t the main protagonist in the story.
Here are the blurb sentences on the back of the book and my commentary!
In a split-second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare.(No kidding!)
Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows, to start afresh. (But how can she?)
Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life for ever. (And isn’t that an understatement.)
Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. (Curiouser and curiouser!)
But her past is about to catch up with her and the consequences will be devastating…. (Never a truer word said!)
Read I let You Go if you enjoy tense, fast-paced (particularly in the second half of the novel,) thrillers with a twist that surprises and shocks. There is plenty to get your teeth into: emotion, grief, trust, blind love, overcoming fear, a mother’s love, guilt, domestic violence …
Overall 5 stars. The first half of the novel is perhaps a little slow (a four star,) but well worth hanging in there to reach those middle to end chapters that sky rockets this novel up to five stars.
DISCLAIMER: “As of 13th September 2017 we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.” My opinions are my own and any reviews on this site have not been swayed or altered in any way by monetary compensation, or by the offer of a free book in exchange for a review.
Have you read I Let You Go? I’d love to hear your views if you have.
I’ve been so busy recently with editing my manuscript, gathering promotional ideas, etc, that I have neglected my much-loved book reviewing. So, to remedy this a little I’m doing a few mini reviews:
Starting off with….
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
In his twisty, gritty, profoundly moving debut—called “mandatory reading” by the New York Times—Adam Silvera brings to life a charged, dangerous near-future summer in the Bronx.
In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.
When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.
My review: 4.5 stars. This debut novel surprised me. I started off not being too sure about it and then loved it! Sometimes I’m like that, I can be a bit slow on the uptake! I need a little convincing and then kapow – it hits me full force. Great idea, fantastic characters, particularly the main protagonist Aaron Soto, thought provoking questions about his emerging sexuality, and interesting setting – the Bronx. Have added to my favourites list. Read? Yes, yes, yes.. !!!
A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart
In the tradition of Nick Hornby and David Nicholls comes a warm and tender novel in which a father and his autistic son connect over the game of Minecraft.
Alex loves his family, and yet he struggles to connect with his eight-year-old autistic son, Sam. The strain has pushed his marriage to the breaking point. So Alex moves in with his merrily irresponsible best friend on the world’s most uncomfortable blow-up bed.
As Alex navigates single life, long-buried family secrets, and part-time fatherhood, his son begins playing Minecraft. Sam’s imagination blossoms and the game opens up a whole new world for father and son to share. Together, they discover that sometimes life must fall apart before you can build a better one.
Inspired by the author’s own relationship with his autistic son, A Boy Made of Blocks is a tear-jerking, funny, and, most, of all true-to-life novel about the power of difference and one very special little boy.
Annika enjoyed this novel but didn’t love it, and I enjoyed it too but it didn’t quite make my favourite list either. Author Keith Stuart used his own experiences with his son to write A Boy Made Of Books, and reveals the complexities of coping with day to day activities with a child on the autistic spectrum. Even going to the park can become a major worry particularly if you meet a dog who might set off your child’s anxieties. In my experience, I found it to be well written throughout but the latter part of the novel was more emotionally engaging. Read? Yes, particularly if you are interested in novels about autism, and family/son relationships.
Simon Vs. The Homosapiens Agenda
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
My review: 4 stars. This deserves all the hype. It is an entertaining, sweet read, a must read YA novel… grab a copy! Read? Yes, most definitely Read!!!
Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty
Yvonne Carmichael sits in the witness box. The charge is murder. Before all of this, she was happily married, a successful scientist, a mother of two. Now she’s a suspect, squirming under fluorescent lights and the penetrating gaze of the alleged accomplice who’s sitting across from her, watching: a man who’s also her lover. As Yvonne faces hostile questioning, she must piece together the story of her affair with this unnamed figure who has charmed and haunted her. This is a tale of sexual intrigue, ruthless urges, and danger, which has blindsided her from a seemingly innocuous angle. Here in the courtroom, everything hinges on one night in a dark alley called Apple Tree Yard.
My review: 4.5 stars. Really enjoyed this a lot. I grabbed it off my mum’s bookshelf in Edinburgh… I’m always pinching books… beware! A fascinating tale of how the most unlikely of women could end up having such a wild and crazy affair, (I kid you not!) leading to such dire consequences. Highly recommended. Read? Yes, Read!!!
Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens
Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are spending the Christmas hols in snowy Cambridge. Hazel has high hopes of its beautiful spires, cosy libraries and inviting tea-rooms – but there is danger lurking in the dark stairwells of ancient Maudlin College.
Two days before Christmas, there is a terrible accident. At least, it appears to be an accident – until the Detective Society look a little closer, and realise a murder has taken place. Faced with several irritating grown-ups and fierce competition from a rival agency, they must use all their cunning and courage to find the killer (in time for Christmas Day, of course).
The fabulously festive fifth mystery from the bestselling, award-winning author of Murder Most Unladylike.
My review: 4 stars. A very fun murder mystery set at Christmas in the colleges of Cambridge. Particularly enjoyed reading this as I live in Cambridge and it was nice to recognise some of the familiar settings. Read: Yes, particularly if you like an easy, entertaining, enjoyable read.
Following on from this I am currently reading Lucy Brazier’s Porter Girl so more about soon…
And after that I have various beauties on my TBR pile including The Words In My Hand by Guinevere Glasfurd, (Costa book awards shortlisted author,) who I met in person at a recent inspiring event held by Cambridge Writers.
A collection of pulse-pounding tales featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan—including the untold story of her first case!
The #1 New York Times bestselling author behind the hit Fox series Bones, Kathy Reichs is renowned for chilling suspense and fascinating forensic detail. The Bone Collection presents her trademark artistry in this collection of thrilling short fiction.
In First Bones, a prequel to Reichs’s first novel, Déjà Dead, she at last reveals the tale of how Tempe became a forensic anthropologist. In this never-before-published story, Tempe recalls the case that lured her from a promising career in academia into the grim but addictive world of criminal investigation. (It all began with a visit from a pair of detectives—and a John Doe recovered from an arson scene in a trailer.) The collection is rounded out with three more stories that take Tempe from the low country of the Florida Everglades, where she makes a grisly discovery in the stomach of an eighteen-foot Burmese python, to the heights of Mount Everest, where a frozen corpse is unearthed. No matter where she goes, Tempe’s cases make for the most gripping reading.
I won a copy of The Sunday Times No. 1 Bestseller Kathy Reich’s The Bone Collection via Linda Hill who blogs at: Linda’s Book Bag
So a big thank you for my winning copy! Of course, my opinions are my own and are not influenced in anyway by me receiving a free copy.
This isn’t my usual kind of read and at first, I was a little bit skeptical whether or not it would appeal to me. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The excellence of Kathy Reich’s writing and her detailed and knowledgeable observations about forensic anthropology kept me entertained throughout all four of these novellas, based on her successful Temperance Brennan series. This is a special treat for Kathy Reich enthusiasts as all four pieces: Bones In her Pocket, Swamp Bones, Bones on Ice, and First Bones are presented in a single collection in this novel. Bones both animal, and human do figure a lot in this novel, it’s to be expected! So be prepared for some gruesome moments. If I were, to sum up this novel I’d say: punchy, gripping, wincing, chilling, compelling, detailed, gut turning sleuthing mysteries to be solved, sliced with unexpected twists and turns, and served with a fulsome dollop of humour.
Highly recommended. My rating 4.5 stars.
Have you read Kathy Reich? Do comment and let me know.
A bit of a departure from my usual inspiring images on a Friday but as Christmas is fast approaching thought I’d mention some Christmas books, and other book bloggers here on WordPress and Tumblr. I’m kicking off my Christmas reads suggestion with this beauty, oops, sorry for being so dark, but this one kind of stood out for me. Well it sounds a bit different. Dying for Christmas. A psychological thriller/crime drama which I found via Scatterbooker on WordPress here’s her review link:
Also I really like the sound of Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares. This made a change from the usual titles that are heavily laden with the words, Mistletoe, Christmas, Snow, yes, you get the picture. It sounds light-hearted and fun, a YA contemporary romance.
If you’re hoping for snow then look no further. Came across Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle while I was on Tumblr. Thanks for the recommendation: Books and sugar Quills on Tumblr.
Now if you fancy a bit of Christmas romance I’d definitely recommend that you rush over to Sonya Heaney’s blog because she has a whole host of Christmas novels, including those by #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr. I knew a stocking would creep in somewhere! Here’s the link to one of her reviews:
Do comment below if I haven’t mentioned a Christmas book you would really like to recommend. Oh, and just in case I haven’t found that Christmas novel for you to read, or gift for you to give, here are some other places to look: