Murder, mystery and dating mayhem by Dena Haggerty

Good morning readers, still on a reviewing frenzy currently. I’ve been reading like you would not believe and I think it may be during the reading drought that hit just a couple of weeks ago. I find that after they finally filter out of my system I need to get my tiny hands on any book possible and that’s what I seem to have done. Today’s review will be a tale of two halves which you will see whilst reading but that’s a good thing and I hope it will come across that way. In other news lots of new 101 things in 1001 days posts. I’ve written so many of them up but have not yet got round to posting them to mylittlebookblog so don’t worry I haven’t forgotten about my challenge, it’s just been a little neglected recently. Without further delay, onto said review.

My name is Izzy. I drink too much, am clumsier than a new born foal, and my brain-to-mouth filter often malfunctions. My daredevil husband killed himself in a parachuting accident five years ago and my best friend Jack has decided it’s time I jump back in the dating pool. He’s perfectly happy to throw me in if I don’t listen. Just when things in the dating world start to heat up, my grandma dies. Only her knitting group of Jessica Fletcher wannabes is sure it’s murder. I’m not convinced but I’m always up for a bit of excitement as long as it doesn’t lead to a night in jail. Well, more than one night anyway. Will I miss my chance at love because I’m chasing imaginary killers? Did someone really kill grandma or am I and my merry band of geriatric thieves imagining things?

So, a chapter in I thought, ah this not for me. The frequent use of BFF and the words yeah and the like really turn me off books but I thought I’ll wait till the end of the chapter. Finding it a quite short chapter I thought I’ll read the second, oh and maybe the third and before long I was half way through the book, so I rattled through and finished it in one sitting. Now, normally I would dislike a book like this because of the language but there was something really fun about it. It might have been the heroine, slightly older than in most books of this genre and her gang of pensioners who are constantly on her back adding their own kooky ways of solving the crime. It may have been utterly deplorable but delightful gay best friend who had me in tears, or maybe the hot and heavy detective Noel who has our leading lady in a spin. Whichever the case this book really put a smile on my face and overall I enjoyed this book.

As the blurb suggests it follows Izzy as she gets dragged into the mystery that is her dear Grandmothers death. See the pensioners have put the clues together and deduce that it wasn’t a heart-attack but instead a planned murder. Izzy is a little surprised to say the least but as the pieces fall into place, and her house is ransacked it’s getting dangerous. Step in the hot and heady Noel. I didn’t fall for him as like many of the romantic novella style books I read, namely because he’s old enough to be my father, but I liked the relationship that spun between the two. It didn’t happen at the drop of a hat and he adored her despite her ability to get into a number of unsightly moments. I thought Izzy was warm and sweet although clumsy and a little daft at times. She is easy to warm to and feels genuine. Jack is a witty and bright character who brought a little spunk to the proceedings. I thought the band of elderly ladies were delightfully told, especially Betty who brought warmth and spice to the writing.

I guess technically you could say that at times the writing lacks a little detail. The descriptions of the characters are a little weak appearance wise and the writing at times feels a little immature. Some of the slang could be tightened up and didn’t really appreciate the use of BFF. I think it’s just me but they don’t feel like they sit here. It is all neatly tidied up at the end and at times the plot is somewhat hard to believe but. And it’s a big but. I really enjoyed it despite all of these things. It’s odd to read a mystery that is so funny and manages to mix in romance well. It may not be the most intelligent read but I bloody enjoyed it and I think you will to.

Courage Resurrected by R.Scott Mackey

Reviews, reviews, reviews, reviews; I am slowly climbing through the pile and attempting to get the list a little more organised and feel a little more manageable. If you are waiting for a reply to your email, I promise you will hear back from me. I don’t want to take on anymore manuscripts until I’ve made it through all the first ones emailed to me and as the number is nearing thirty or so it could be a little while. However please be patient and I will make it through to you as soon as I possibly can. I’ve had quite a few misses in terms of books recently and it’s left me a little bit miserable. All the ones I think have the chance to be brilliant have just missed the mark on so many levels. It’s been a lot of romantic genre books and it makes me more and more cynical about the genre as a whole I’m sad to say. Today however, a crime mystery that left me a little blown-away and wanting more. Something that I am a little surprised to admit but all the same a brilliant book to get your hands on.

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Ray Courage’s wife Pam died thirteen years before in a car accident. Or did she? Ray’s world is turned upside down when he receives a series of e-mails from someone claiming to be his dead wife, accusing him of attempting to kill her and vowing revenge. Ray sets out to find the identity of the e-mailer only to discover the circumstances of his wife’s apparent death appear to be all but accidental. Soon Police Detective Carla Thurber comes to suspect Ray of killing his wife, and of a subsequent murder of Pam’s confidant. Meanwhile, a murderous predator who does not want the facts of Pam’s death to surface aims to stop Ray. In the greatest challenge of his life, Ray must outrun the police and elude those who are out to kill him as he seeks the truth about his wife’s death.

 So, quite a devastating book plot but it’s one I think you will really and honestly find intriguing. Ray Courage’s wife Pam has been dead for thirteen or so, killed in a strange mishap or accident if you like because no vehicle was ever found at the scene of the crime. After the tragic event Ray attempts to move on with his life and make a new life for himself and credit to him, he does. However, one day his life is turned a little upside down when he receives an email apparently from Pam stating that he attempted to kill her. Thinking it is only a sick joke his is quickly made aware through further communication that the police has been contacted. As a disbelieving policewoman begins to point the finger at our main character the body of his wife’s former co-worker is found in his apartment and it’s becoming a little more sinister. Taking the law into his own hands we follow Ray as he drives to clear his name and regain his innocence.

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 Right so a little bit of a technicality first. I am reading this book without any prior knowledge of the books coming before. If I am correct this is book number three and therefore if any comments I make that relate to the first two instalments apologies. This book is a little bit of a whirlwind and after a number of disappointing books earlier in the week it’s brilliant to finally get something into my hands that is truly provoking of those feelings that come when you get caught up in a mystery. The writing is strong and bold, Mackey really knows how to spin the reader and keep them guessing. With thrillers I’m always trying to stay one step ahead, it’s a competition for me as a reader but here I really struggled to piece everything together. The characters are strong and witty but with bite that makes them feel genuine. Ray has a sense of oldness meaning he feels a little weathered but safe. Sometimes when you read mystery books the characters are just as jumpy as you are but here Ray instils a feeling of calm that jars with the tense atmosphere and it really works.

 I liked the red herrings that are mixed within the plot and I thought the entire story had a keen eye for detail. The clues are just subtle enough to create drama and intrigue but help pull the reader in making the twists, turns and surprises all the more enjoyable. Commenting as a reader of this book only, I liked the way the book started on the first page, it really grabbed your attention. I don’t know whether the previous two do but some mystery books feel like the cogs are slowly, slowly turning and just easing you in but here, no chance. I liked the constant toying between whether Courage’s wife could somehow still be alive and I thought that the interaction between him and his daughter Rubia was wonderfully described. It also added a human touch to the story. The pace is quick and light which means that you are constantly trying to sift through for the clues that are there but you can’t quite get to.

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 As a reader of this genre I would recommend this straight away. It’s a brilliant book with enough characters, bad guys, twists and turns to keep you thoroughly entertained. Even if you’re not a big fan of the mystery/thriller genre, I know not all are I think this has enough included, with the parts between Rubia and Ray to fill the gaps that you may normally miss from a book of this genre. I’m a little upset I’ve come into this series now  however I’m utterly happy I had the chance to experience this book for myself.

A thank you from mylittlebookblog

So, it’s Sunday and the end of this celebration of mylittlebookbookblog. I’m going to keep it short because I’ve waffled enough this week.

I’ve learnt a lot blogging and I’ve learn a lot about myself in doing so and to be honest with you, I think that this blog has ultimately saved me from a number of cripplingly scary moments. My life right now is a little in limbo and it’s terrifying. I’m not sure what I want to do let alone where I want to be and in the last ten months I’ve seen the worst of myself and the panic that comes from graduating and feeling a little lost. But this blog has brought out the best of me. 

I have felt so wonderfully supported and this blog has been a life saver and I just wanted to really say thank you. From my mushy emotional and slightly whimsical heart. Because you are the best people that I could have ever wished for. All the authors, the bloggers, the tweeters, the likers the commenters and the emailers (these are not words) but all of you. Thank you. Thank you so much and here’s to another year of this pretty goddamn wonderful tiny space of the internet that I have found I’m able to call home.

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Streets of Broken Hearts by Sydney Bristow

Happy Thursday readers another interesting review for you today. A couple of weeks back I was finding it incredibly difficult to get through the bulk of a couple of the books I was reading at the time. It wasn’t a reading slump per se, I just couldn’t push myself to get into the books. However, recently my blogging inbox has been stacked with new books to get my teeth into which has really helped pull me out of that dry reading patch and today’s review is one of them. I’m also experimenting with some scheduled posting because of my job and having to fit blogging in and around so many different things so we’ll see how that goes. Without further delay, onto the review.

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September 1927, Chicago It took Al Capone three years to hunt down a brilliant but decrepit physicist who owed him a measly $7,000 for one reason: the physicist managed to reverse the aging process, rendering him unrecognizable. But Capone has no interest in this medical mystery. He just wants his money. To recover the debt, Capone orders the physicist’s daughter, Justine Bryce, the most successful cat burglar in town, to steal a luxurious necklace from a famous diplomat – while it’s still around her neck. Failure will ensure her father’s execution. As well as her own. Justine is determined to save her father at all costs. Even if it means trusting a man she is doomed to love forever, a charming but unattainable nightclub owner who trained her as a thief, Vance Flynn. Vance agrees to help, but he has his own reasons for securing the necklace. With only 24 hours to carry out the scheme, Justine needs to steal the necklace while dodging a shrewd but deranged detective who frames her for murder, not to mention double-cross the most vicious gangster in the country…all to avoid ending up on the wrong end of a gun.

So that’s quite an extensive blurb so I’m not going to say too much because I think there’s a lot to give a feel of the book as a whole already. The reason this book grabbed my attention was the historical fiction feature of the book and I did really find it intriguing. Tommy guns and speakeasies feature throughout helping to place the reader into a different time period. The author weaves a number of different plot lines including the lifting of the necklace, the difficult relationship between Justine and her father and the shifty and unreliable Greg Skinner who appears to be taking the law into his own hands. There are also a number of plot lines inter-weaved with the supporting characters that are managed wonderfully.

In terms of characteristation Justine is a brilliant character, spunky, determined, impulsive but also intelligent I loved reading about her adventures. In terms of her language some of it felt a little modern and didn’t quite fit with the period of the time however I found her as a main character intriguing to read about. Greg Skinner, although a character I loathed was a brilliant addition to the plot line. Corrupt, needy, obsessive; his character really added a sense of threat and dread to the novel which was really well built up. Additionally the supporting characters including Vance (I really had soft spot for him) and Vikki are given enough traits to help spin the storylines and make them feel real. I also thought the adding of the British detective was brilliant. Being a proud Brit it was nice to have it included.

A couple of criticisms; as I mentioned above although the style of writing is really solid I think there could have been more to make you feel as though you were transported to a different time. It’s the main reason I adore historical fiction and I felt although it was there, it could have been improved on. I also thought some of the plot lines fell through at the end especially within the exploration of Justine and her father’s relationship, it kind of didn’t go anywhere despite it being pivotal to the main plot line. If there is a second book in the writing I think this should be explored more thoroughly because it was a sticking point for me as a reader. I also thought that the ending was a little weak especially in terms of what happens to Vance. I don’t want to spoil it but it felt a little tied up in terms of Justine but also a little confused as to what had really happened. Once again if there’s a second book I can see this being something to explore more fully. Finally I felt that at times that the writing pace didn’t match the pace of the novel within; with the tension racking up the writing style didn’t quite make it punchy enough for me in some of the chapters especially at the beginning but I must admit it was getting there towards the end.

So, overall I really enjoyed this book as a concept and I’m glad to have been given the opportunity to read it. I think although the writing style was strong some discrepancies in language, style of the time and the writing pace (I hope I’ve explained that coherently) lost me a little. Room for a little improvement but overall still a great read. Great characters, great ideas and definitely worth a read; with a few tweaks this could be bang on.

Two Year Anniversary of mylittlebookblog!

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Afternoon readers, a little news from my little book blog. On the 29th of April 2015 I will be celebrating the two year official anniversary of mylittlebookblog.com. I can not believe how much this blog has given me in terms of confidence in my writing and reviewing, the sheer number of authors, readers, publishers and book bloggers I have met who have been such a joy to get to know and the number of books I’ve read and been introduced to. I will be celebrating the two years blogging between the dates of the 29th of April and the 3rd of May and would love as many of you to get involved as possible. Whether that’s a guest post, helping me with a give-away in terms of prizes or just sharing my blog posts on the day. If you would like to get in touch please comment or email me at mylittlebookblog2014@gmail.com

Thank you

x

A – Z of book blogging from mylittlebookblog!

Happy Sunday readers, I’ve had a wonderfully busy weekend and I’m snuggled up on the sofa watching The Big Painting Challenge and I thought I’d bring you something a little different. It’s an A-Z of all things book blogging.

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A is for assortment: I am a true believer in variety in blogging, especially book blogging. Different genres, publishers and authors amongst others help to bring mylittlebookblog to as many readers as possible.  This also includes different posts including quotes, images, guest posts, Q+A’s etc.

B is for bed: My favourite place to read is snuggled up in bed, with a hot chocolate, lots of blankets and pyjamas. I also favour the bath but the number of times my books get destroyed through my clumsy nature it’s better to stick to the latter

C is for classics: Recently I have got over my irrational dislike of classic literature and thrown myself straight in at the deep end reading as much as a I can get my hands on. So far it’s been rather eye opening

D is for Doyle: As a young reader, Arthur Conan Doyle was pivotal to the increase of my interest and love of reading. The adventures of Sherlock Holmes mean a lot to me sentimentally as a reader

E is for Email: My most useful tool in contact and communicating with authors, readers, bloggers and publishers. Setting up a separate email was a big step for me in my journey as a blogger and set this apart as being more than a hobby for the weekends

F is for Folded over Corners: I have a terrible habit of folding over the corners of pages when reading. I’m constantly losing bookmarks so often train or bus tickets are my go to. I try not too but it’s a habit I seem to have got into!

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G is for Guest Posts: Some people are terribly against guest posts, I’m all for it if done well and if it helps both blogs/authors/publishers reader base. Don’t just do for the sake of it I guess

H is for Hard Work: I know I’ve mentioned this before a couple of times but blogging is sometimes hard work. It doesn’t mean that it’s not worth it, not at all, but there is so much more that goes into blogging than just reading and reviewing.  

I is for Ink: When writing reviews I tend to tap them out on my old and tired red Dell ‘brick’ laptop. If I have time I like to plot out the review on paper and then type it up from there. It’s sometimes lovely to pen the words out first, to see how the review fits together

J is for Jigsaw: Book blogging is on the whole a little like a jigsaw. I am continually playing with the pieces finding different ways to put the different types of post together. Does this guest post work well next to this review, does this quote fit with the blog as a whole, will this review create some controversy? It’s a constant challenge!

L is for Lengthy journeys: The perfect time to get a chunk of reading completed. I love reading on the train down to Milton Keynes; it’s my time to de-stress from a busy week and get myself completely immersed in another world

M is for Messy: When I’m blogging I like to be fully submersed in what I’m doing. Books will be strewn around me, the notes on the book sitting in little piles, post-it notes stuck in the books, different pens in different colours pooling round me; for me it just helps the creative process.

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N is for New Authors: There is nothing better than discovering a new exciting author with bags of potential and then going out and purchasing everything they’ve written and devouring it.

O is for Organisation: Despite saying I like to be messy, I am going to be a little bit of a hypocrite. Book blogging in terms of planning needs to be organised; emails need to be answers, posts written to fit with deadlines of releases, or cover reveals.

P is for Proof reading: I am terrible for this, because I’m often half asleep or in a rush when I post my reviews so there are sometimes grammatical errors (my spelling is normally pretty good.) It’s so important to proof read posts to get the message across coherently

Q is for Quality: Consistent quality across the board in terms of posts is really important. Each review is unique and to let the ball drop is a constant fear for me as a blogger.

R is for Review Requests: One of the best things about blogging is receiving requests for book reviews. It’s a tiresome task sometimes going through them all and picking which to read first but the elation of coming home and seeing the books sat by the front door is such a pleasure

S is for Spreading the word: Whether it’s for readers or writers, book blogging is ultimately about recounting what you’ve read good or bad. It’s one to always remember when blogging because once you’ve said it, it’s very difficult to take it back

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T is for Tired Eyes: Even now at twenty one, and knowing my tiredness limit I still cannot resist the temptation of staying up all night to finish a good book

U is for Unbiased: This goes without saying; honesty must be followed to the T.

V is for vocabulary: Wonderful, vivid, chilling, distressing, worrying, content, ardent, notable, dire, splendid, unquestionable, thrilling, astounding, wretched, poignant, clement, blissful, sulky, gritty. Make sure you colour your book blogging with adjectives of every sound.

 W is for Well-wishers: I kept running out of letters and quite quickly had to start using the thesaurus. Blogging is all about community feel and although some claim that blogging can be lonely I am yet to feel that way. Since I started the support has been wonderful and the people I come into contact with have been lovely lovely people.

X is for Xanthippe: Now stick with me, this is a word. It actually means ill-tempered woman. Now obviously this isn’t pivotal but I think what is, is that you want to make everything as real and as brilliant as possible. If I can’t get the right feel to a review, or the post doesn’t sit well with the blog it only goes to show (male or female) that it really means something to you

Y is for Yearning: The constant and unending search for new incredibly books written by even more incredibly authors

Z is for Zero: The amount of time I wish that I wasn’t, reading, writing, blogging or making notes about books. Books just are everything to me

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So there you go, a little book-ish post about book blogging. If you have any comments, questions or queries as always pop them in the comments box!

Piano from a 4th storey window: Jenny Morton Potts

Good evening readers, hope you’re all well unlike me, a little sick bunny. It seems I have caught a tummy bug which left me rendered completely useless yesterday. After being rudely awakened by my housemate, I heaved myself out of bed to go and purchase whatever it was she was complaining about. Hauling a sick ridden body out of bed dressing it in patterned black, red and white leggings, an orange t-shirt and a pair of blue fabric pumps and a massive coat with a fur hood I must have looked comical. I cannot wait to move away from the drama of where I live. Before I get too off topic there are a number of reviews that were supposed to be posted days ago but I’ve been so sick I haven’t had any time to sort them and amongst packing for the move last week. I’m hoping to get them written up ASAP so if you’re waiting for a review it’s on its way I promise. So, without further delay onto today’s review.

Lawrence Fyre and Marin Strang aren’t like other people. He is the eccentric owner of failing Sargasso Books in the Brighton Lanes. She is an ex-Jehovah’s Witness and isolated Spanish teacher. If they live together in his illegal, beautiful, rope laddered lock-up; can their love overcome their losses?  Original, sexy, very funny and deeply moving. An author in complete control of a number of unforgettable characters and emotional highs and lows, Jenny Morton Potts leaves the reader breathless, and wanting more.

So as the blurb suggests Marin Strang is a Spanish teacher whose life hasn’t quite gone the way she wanted it to; having to live on a wage from numerous temporary teaching contracts and coming out of a rather painful breakup she’s in a bit of a sticking point; in limbo as to what she should do next. An ex-Jehovah’s witness but with ties to her father who remains a loyal member, Marin finds her days wandering The Lanes in Brighton a shopping spot and ends up in the a café named Number 8. Here she meets Lawrence Fyre, the owner of the (failing) store Sargasso Books. The two, after a number of chance meetings enter into an intense relationship but a number of hiccups including his sister and the intriguing Nina could force their relationship to fail. Will their relationship rise or flounder? You’ll have to get hold of a copy to find out!

So, there’s the book in a nutshell; now you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a rather stereotypical boy meets girl style plot-line but it’s more than that. Firstly I have to commend the author for getting the feel of Brighton down so very well. I could feel the blustery wind and see the cobbled lanes full of brightly painted houses, it’s incredibly evocative of the little seaside town. The writing style is wonderful although a little difficult to get into to start with. It reads almost like a stream of consciousness, which we don’t experience all too often as a reader and when mixed with dialogue and narrative it was a little different at the start. However as you get more stuck in the words rise and fall in a very smooth almost lyrical prose which I thoroughly enjoyed.

In terms of plot line it is the perfect mix of both tragedy and love story and the whirlwind mix throughout is both tender and comedic. The two main characters are wonderfully written both quirky in their own rights but written with a real feel of human warmth and understanding. They come alive with each other and the conviction of their relationship is maddeningly exciting and euphoric. The pace is fast and forward thinking, it ricochets off with such breath taking speed that I found myself reading chapter after chapter without noticing.

I think what makes this book is the style; it is a unique and unforgettable writing quality that is both quirky and gripping. It also allows for the highs and the lows of the novel to really come alive and punch the reader in the jaw which is exactly what I wanted from this novel. It is a love story but it also intertwines personal growth, the pressure to conform to society or religion and trust in the relationships we have. It really made me sit up and listen and made me think about my own place in the world that I find myself in.  Overall a stylish and quirky read that was a wonderful mix; thoroughly enjoyable.

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A lovely little book market in London

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“If you take a book with you on a journey,” Mo had said when he put the first one in her box, “an odd thing happens: The book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice cream you ate while you were reading it… yes, books are like flypaper—memories cling to the printed page better than anything else.”
Cornelia Funke, Inkheart