Is there a better feeling than getting hold of a free book?

No, I thought not.

When I invested in my new Kindle I immediately searched the Kindle store for new free books. It’s not that I don’t like paying for books (I really do.) Free books on the Amazon tend to be the first step into a new series of books, and I wanted to find my new series. The one you buy all 56754 books from and read in under a week. Just me? I thought Breaker by Rob Aspinall was right up my street. Here’s what I thought.

Blurb

Can the villain become the hero?

Meet the tough new antihero with a very particular set of skills. Charlie Cobb – aka ‘Breaker’ – is a mafia enforcer on the gritty, crime-ridden streets of Manchester, England.

He’s the guy the mob send in to scare the worst of the worst. The legendary underworld ‘fixer’ who keeps the peace between rival gangs. But after his idealistic daughter, Cassie, makes him swear to give up his life of crime, Breaker finds himself torn between two futures. Be the merciless assassin who pulls the trigger on young murder witness, Danny Platt? Or act as protector, taking on vicious crime boss, Ivan Rudenko?

Breaker (Charlie Cobb: New Crime & Action Thriller Series)

My Review

The book follows the life of Charlie Breaker who is frequently getting into scraps and scraped. Named after preference of breaking people limbs (nice,) he has a new job. But it’s not going to be easy. With Rudenko breathing down his neck and his daughter giving him a stern look, he needs to get out of this without a bullet in his chest.

This book was described as ‘frantic fun’ on Goodreads and I have to agree. Charlie is a dirty character who can’t help but like. His rough language and inability to leave anything alone he’s a gem. The book is a non-stop action thriller full of mean characters and gripping gripes. It has a smidge of humour and sarcasm and the use of Manchester as the location allows for a lot of slang. I for one loved this.

In terms of narrative the story is (fairly) plausible. You will need to accept that Charlie is comic-like in terms of character. Whether kicked, shot, smashed into he’ll get up and carry on ten minutes later. But, it’s all part of the fun. The characters are written with depth. Frogger (one of the bad guys) is very well written. Although a secondary character Aspinall gives all of his characters guts. They have quirks that help to give depth to the storyline.

Only gripe would be it’s quite short. I would have like a little more. Maybe Cassie involved more than giving her Dad a stern eye. Although I’m sure this will come with books later in the series.

Final Thoughts

Overall this is a really well written book. It’s got bite, drive and danger. Mix in with the brilliantly written main and secondary characters and you’ve got a winner.

Breaker (Charlie Cobb: New Crime & Action Thriller Series)

Breaker (Charlie Cobb: New Crime & Action Thriller Series)

GoodreadsAmazon 

I’m addicted to free crime thrillers.

I got picky with my reading and decided to download another free crime fiction book onto my Kindle. IT FELT like the right thing to do. The problem with being a reader is that you’re always looking for the next thing to dig your teeth into. I struggle after reading one genre to skip to another. There’s something comforting about sticking your finger into another plum pie (so to speak.) That sounded rude. I’ll move on- THIS is the last free crime thriller I download*.

Violence in the Blood by Mark Newman

Blurb

Crime Lord Malkie Thompson’s spent 25 years killing, maiming and blackmailing his way to the top. He’s got everything he ever wanted, except his health. The knives are out. His rivals sense blood. Their time is now. But Thompson’s not going down without a fight.

Violence in the Blood documents Thompson’s rise to power from the backstreets of Glasgow to the industrial heartland of the Midlands.

Join the rampage as Malkie and his crew blaze a trail of mayhem and destruction north and south of the border.

My Review

Why did I download this? I like the idea of a tale about a criminal gang. Question is, did I enjoy it?

Yes, yes I did. Writing about criminal gangs can become bogged down. There are often a lot of things to fit and bob in. Detail is important to immerse the reader in the tale. This worked well. The pace is frantic and hectic. It moves with pace, and all the writing is spritely if stomach churning. The rival mobsters feel real and threatening. They are violent, use any method possible (baseball bat anyone?) and are brought vividly to life.

Malkie is told in brilliant technicolor. He’s a menace, a monster and a brilliant character creation. I felt both sorry for him at times and appalled. The ability of the author to play with the reader’s emotions despite the questionable behavior of the main character shows a lot of skill.

But, there are problems. The writing is very good at describing police procedures and the like and the torture scenes are very graphic. There’s a lot of blood, guts and gore. A lot of death too. But, because the book is so short, you don’t really care for the characters because we barely know them. Other than Malkie everyone is a whitewash of a character. A couple of minor details poke through but other than that, very little character distinction.

There are plots and subplots which I enjoyed but this book felt like a spoiler to the big event. This happens a lot with free books. They tend to have a killer starting read that gets the reader involved which then spans into a series of 15 books. This one just didn’t have quite enough to encourage me to continue with the series.

Final Thoughts

Gritty gang warfare is a great way to describe this book, but I wanted double the content. Probably double the gore too.

* For now.

Violence in the Blood by Mark Newman

Violence in the Blood by Mark Newman

 

 

 

I think this will be the last of the free kindle books I review for a while.

Every couple of months I choose around five and review them all, to find the next series I’ll read. Some are super fab, some lack something. Whether that be depth, character strength or writing style with this one, something about it just didn’t strike enough of a chord with me, but, for now let’s dive into Dan and Eva’s story.

Luck and Judgment Book Review

Blurb

Gail Everett must have justice from the corporation which destroyed her father’s life. No courtroom has ever found against them. But beyond the courtroom there are many kinds of justice…

Gail gives private investigators Eva Roberts and Dan Bradley a secret file supplied by her father. The PIs start to unpick the mystery – but some seriously bad people know about the file and they want it gone. As a violent gangster closes in Eva and Dan discover just how deadly this case has become…

Friends are divided. Young women are murdered on the streets. Private detectives Roberts and Bradley are snared in the dark heart of a thirty-year-old nightmare.

My Review

You get the gist from the blurb. Dan and Eva our intrepid private eyes, who along with their apprentice Mark get themselves into a sticky spot. Investigating the dirty dealings within a personal case the trial involves a number of threads. Yes, there are red-herrings, dangerous moments and car chases. It’s your stereotypical private detective trail. They get into more trouble and because they don’t waver to any red tape it makes for an exciting read.

The plot is straightforward, characters are likeable and I like the contrast between Dan and Eva. Eva is forward thinking and sensible. Dan is definitely more likely to go rogue. Their compatibility as partners in the company and in their own relationship added another dimension to the narrative. The writing is strong and punchy. The interweaving story lines are constructed well and the writing moves with speed. There is enough interest throughout and untrustworthy characters to make this an exciting read.

Final Thoughts

The reason I struggled was the use of Neuro-linguistic programming or NLP. NLP is an approach to communication and psychotherapy that I not recognized anymore due to lack of scientific proof and is quite outdated. Yes, numerous practitioners still believe certain language can be used to achieve goals and influence behavior. But resting a lot of the case, or majority on this I was underwhelmed. It just wasn’t sharp enough for me and left a lot of grey areas. I didn’t feel consumed with the story line mainly because I didn’t believe in it. With a crime/thriller book you need to believe in the case otherwise, why.

Buy this if you’re looking for a quick thriller read, but it’s not quite interesting and in-depth enough to really want to shout this book from the rooftops.

GoodreadsAmazon 

Luck and Judgment Book Review

Luck and Judgment Book Review

 

You might have seen that I’ve been singing praises about the Pigeonhole app. If you didn’t see my post here’s a quick link. I received an email after reviewing The Book of Crows that if I linked to where I had reviewed the book I could win a copy of Sam Meekings The Other Shore. So that’s what I did. Clever Lizzo. I received the lovliest postcard in the post and a copy of the book. Here’s what I thought. (Oh, and this is another 5 minute review – to mix it up.)

The Other Shore by Sam Meekings

Blurb

The Other Shore is a collection that explores the many different voices the dead use to speak with the living. We travel through modern China and beyond, to the underworlds, in poems that present a fresh take on grief, our concept of the afterlife, and acceptance of loss.

My Review

The introductory note mentions that The Other Shore is a book of poems about the voices the dead use to speak with us. It comes after Sam’s exploration of The Silk Road after a family bereavement. The translations of poems come from the Tang Dynasty era of poetry that Sam drew on due to it ‘brevity and playfulness.’ Through the translations that Meekings creates he hopes to adapt traditional forms into new ideas. Nice.

Please forgive me my poetry reviews are not up to scratch but I’m going to try. I loved the mix of poems that have been collated. I liked how each of the poems revolved around the idea of one journey ending and another beginning. For example this line from Karaoke as Kublai Khan

“The deadline comes just as I’m belting out Xanadu. 

Tommorrow, according to the plan, I will be someone new.'”

It created a very succinct collection of poems that strung together seamlessly.

Favourites included Mooring (translation of Du Mu.) Which I’ve included as a sneak peak.

“Mist like a calf’s tongue, tentative and slick,

dabs at shadows by the riverside inn

where drunks, without a care for this defeated kingdom,

sing of yellow lillies, narcissus, peony and hibiscus.’ 

It’s been a while since I’ve really wanted to dig into the creation of a poem but this collection really stretched my knowledge. I spent a good couple of hours going through and pencilling through my book everything I didn’t understand. For a novice poetry reader this is a great place to start.

I liked how the mix of poems really stretched my knowledge of poetry. A few are reallllly short a couple are very long and extensive. The contrast between them kept me interested throughout. I did have to Google bits and pieces throughout but by the end I really felt like I understood the collection. (Always a nice feeling.)

Final Thoughts

Favourites from the selection of poems included ‘things I have been told about the emerald sea.’ The writing throughout each of the poems (especially this one) is incredibly evocative and the poem Roommates definitely hit a lot of chords. For all the right reasons.

This was a brilliant poetry book to add to my collection. (Thank you to Sam and Pigeonhole!) I really enjoyed working through these poems and feel like it’s stretched my knowledge of different poems. The only thing I wish was there were more people talking about these poems so I could chat with others about the meanings I deduced. Great book of poems. Laved it.

The Other Shore by Sam Meekings

The Other Shore by Sam Meekings

I love a crime thriller.

There’s something deeply comforting in them. Is than an odd thing to say? I don’t know whether it’s the genre, or the typical characters that are written into crime thrillers, but they just do something for me. This one caught my eye because of the cover. Yes, I was that fickle. Turns out this book (For Reasons Unknown) was bloody brilliant.

For Reasons Unknown

Blurb

Two murders. Twenty years. Now the killer is back for more…

DCI Matilda Darke has returned to work after a nine month absence. A shadow of her former self, she is tasked with re-opening a cold case: the terrifyingly brutal murders of Miranda and Stefan Harkness. The only witness was their eleven-year-old son, Jonathan, who was too deeply traumatized to speak a word. Then a dead body is discovered, and the investigation leads back to Matilda’s case. Suddenly the past and present converge, and it seems a killer may have come back for more…  

My Review

So to catch you up quickly the book follows the first in a new British police procedural set in Sheffield. DCI Matilda Darke is returning to work after nine months absence. In a fragile mental state she is tasked with cleaning up a cold case from 20 years previous.  But when another body appears it soon becomes clear that they are linked.

First thing first, Matilda. She’s the type of character I can’t help but love. A broken woman, eaten away by grief after the death of husband and an unsolved case with a missing child she couldn’t solve. We follow her story as she returns to work and quickly crumbles. Temporarily demoted and ostracised by her former team Darke struggles to keep her head above water. But she has a spark and determination to rise to her feet and regain her position. I adored her. Really.

The storyline is strong and brilliantly written. Multiple story-lines constantly cross paths but the author keeps them clean and un-jumbled. The case was a really well thought out mystery, filled with exciting and challenging characters. Johnathon is especially well-explored giving us a range of vantage points to watch the investigation play out. I also enjoyed the power struggle between Ben and Matilda. (The DCI that takes over from Matilda and is investigating the second body.) The power play between the two that threatens to upset the case is an exciting addition that is woven skillfully. Secondary characters namely the additional police force all have their own quirks and I look forward to meeting them in later books in the series.

Final Thoughts

I had an inkling who the killer was but it wasn’t confirmed until the bitter end. At that point I had nail bitingly fled through the chapters. This book is truly unputtdownable and had I had time I would have devoured it in under 24 hrs. It’s that good.

This is a belting story, that grabs you and doesn’t put you back down. Each chapter creates a new question, a new thread to follow. Saying that the author doesn’t complicate both characters/story threads and just creates a bladdy good read. Put it on your to-read. It’s already on my must re-read list.

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For Reasons Unknown

For Reasons Unknown