Deep in the heart of history’s most infamous concentration camp, a man lies dreaming. His name is Shomer, and before the war he was a pulp fiction author. Now, to escape the brutal reality of life in Auschwitz, Shomer spends his nights imagining another world – a world where a disgraced former dictator known only as Wolf ekes out a miserable existence as a low-rent PI in London’s grimiest streets.
An extraordinary story of revenge and redemption, A Man Lies Dreaming is an unforgettable testament to the power of imagination.
After 2013’s wonderful The Violent Century, which I loved, I couldn’t wait to read Lavie Tidhar’s 2014 release A Man Lies Dreaming. Luckily I was in London the week after it was released, so I got to pick up a copy soon after release. And I’m glad I sprung for the hardback version as it’s a beautiful book, physically speaking. The cover is deceptively simple yet very powerful and evocative and is not a dust cover, but has laminated boards, in other words it’s printed directly on the boards. The novel contained within the covers is perhaps not so much beautiful as it is compelling. A Man Lies Dreaming isn’t an easy book to read, at least not for me, but it was absolutely engrossing. Continue reading
By 31 January, 2015
Posted in fantasy, historical fiction, mystery, review
On the bustling docks of the Hudson River, Catherine Ring waits with her husband and children for the ship carrying her cousin, Elma Sands. Their Greenwich Street boardinghouse becomes a haven for Elma, who has at last escaped the stifling confines of her small hometown and the shameful circumstances of her birth. But in the summer of 1799, Manhattan remains a teeming cesspool of stagnant swamps and polluted rivers. The city is desperate for clean water as fires wreak devastation and the death toll from yellow fever surges.
Political tensions are rising, too. It’s an election year, and Alexander Hamilton is hungry for power. So is his rival, Aaron Burr, who has announced the formation of the Manhattan Water Company. But their private struggle becomes very public when the body of Elma Sands is found at the bottom of a city well built by Burr’s company.
Resolved to see justice done, Catherine becomes both witness and avenger. She soon finds, however, that the shocking truth behind this trial has nothing to do with guilt or innocence.
City of Liars and Thieves, Eve Karlin’s debut, is a historical novel based on the first recorded murder trial in New York. Just for this fact alone it would have been fascinating, but it is also a snap shot of the run up to one of the most hotly contended Presidential elections in US history, which makes it even more interesting. To be fair, I didn’t know much about either Hamilton or Burr, but I did know about the continual issue with water supply in Manhattan and I was interested to see how they tied into this. Continue reading
By 21 January, 2015
Posted in historical fiction, mystery, review
Seven-year-old Melody Quinn is the only witness of a horrific double murder but she can’t or won’t talk about what she saw. Child psychologist Alex Delaware is brought in to try and get through to her and to the truth of what happened that night. But it soon becomes clear that Melody isn’t just traumatised by the murders.
Alex is only too aware that LA is a city which spawns ugliness. But is he prepared for the seemingly bottomless pit of perversion and violence that he’s about to uncover?
The first time I read Jonathan Kellerman’s When the Bough Breaks I was probably around fifteen and the last time somewhere around twenty-five. In between I’d reread the series – up to the point it was published at time of reread – several times, but from then till now it has been about a decade. So all in all the timing of this reread seems to be serendipitous to say the least, as I’m now thirty-five. As it’s a reread I’ll be focusing on the experience of rereading the book in addition to the usual review elements such as plot and characters. Continue reading
By 9 January, 2015
Posted in crime, mystery, thriller
Everyone tells her she’s a survivor. No-one knows she’s dead inside.
She’s dead but she’s the only one who knows what really happened;
What your friends have said.
What the police missed.
Who attacked you.
So if you want the truth who else are you going to turn to?
Confession time: I’ve had a review copy of Colette McBeth’s Precious Thing sitting in my to read pile for over a year. And every time I picked it up and put it down because there were all of these SFF and historical fiction titles I wanted/needed to review first. However, when I visited Headline in October, they basically told me I had to read The Life I Left Behind, as it was just that good. And since I’d resolved to read more crime books this year – as I loved the ones I read last year so much, I thought McBeth’s second might be a good title to start 2015 with. It was, because The Life I Left Behind was an enthralling read, one I just couldn’t put down and which kept me awake long after I turned off the lights. Continue reading
By 2 January, 2015
Posted in crime, mystery, review, thriller
Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2015. YA books have become a steady part of my reading diet. Some of my favourite authors are writing for this age group and there are just so many great titles out there. Consequently, I’ve had to spread my YA picks over three posts. This is the second one. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Continue reading
Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2015. YA books have become a permanent part of my reading diet. Some of my favourite authors are writing for this age group and there are just so many great titles out there. Consequently, I’ve had to spread my YA picks over three posts. This is the first one. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Continue reading
By 22 December, 2014
Posted in article, contemporary, crime, fantasy, historical fiction, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction, thriller, YA
Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2015. Today it’s time to look at books for a younger set of readers: middle grade books. I’ve mixed the different genres together for this one, so there should be something for everyone. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Continue reading
As a top private eye turned security specialist, Jamie Sinclair has worked hard to put her broken marriage behind her. But when her lying, cheating ex-husband, army colonel Tim Thorp, calls with the news that his three-year-old daughter has been kidnapped, he begs Jamie to come find her. For the sake of the child, Jamie knows she can’t refuse. Now, despite the past, she’ll do everything in her power to bring little Brooke Thorp home alive.
Soon Jamie is back at Fort Leeds—the army base in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens where she grew up, the only child of a two-star general—chasing down leads and forging an uneasy alliance with the stern military police commander and the exacting FBI agent working Brooke’s case. But because Jamie’s father is now a U.S. senator, her recent run-in with a disturbed stalker is all over the news, and when she starts receiving gruesome threats echoing the stalker’s last words, she can’t shake the feeling that her investigation may be about more than a missing girl—and that someone very powerful is hiding something very significant . . . and very sinister.
The Kill List, Nichole Christoff’s debut thriller, is a gritty and entertaining mystery and I had a blast reading it. I loved its lead character Jamie Sinclair and her main co-stars Lieutenant Colonel Adam Barrett and FBI Agent Kevin Jaeger. The chemistry between Jamie and Barrett in particular was wonderful. Yet there was also one big thing that bugged me about the narrative and while it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story, I did find myself pondering it while thinking about it after I finished the book. Discussing it here might be considered a spoiler for an aspect of the book – I don’t think it impacts on the mystery, so much as on character development – but in any case, be aware the next paragraph might be slightly spoilery! Continue reading
By 17 December, 2014
Posted in crime, mystery, review, thriller
Sixteen-year-old Jules Maroni’s dream is to follow in her father’s footsteps as a high-wire walker. When her family is offered a prestigious role in the new Cirque American, it seems that Jules and the Amazing Maronis will finally get the spotlight they deserve. But the presence of the Flying Garcias may derail her plans. For decades, the two rival families have avoided each other as sworn enemies.
Jules ignores the drama and focuses on the wire, skyrocketing to fame as the girl in a red tutu who dances across the wire at death-defying heights. But when she discovers a peacock feather—an infamous object of bad luck—planted on her costume, Jules nearly loses her footing. She has no choice but to seek help from the unlikeliest of people: Remy Garcia, son of the Garcia clan matriarch, and the best trapeze artist in the Cirque.
As more mysterious talismans believed to possess unlucky magic appear, Jules and Remy unite to find the culprit. And if they don’t figure out what’s going on soon, Jules may be the first Maroni to do the unthinkable: fall.
One of the two inaugural authors for Strange Chemistry back in the day and one of my favourites from their list is Gwenda Bond. I’ve read and enjoyed both her previous novels, Blackwood and The Woken Gods, and thought her newest offering, Girl on a Wire sounded very intriguing. Thus, when the author approached me about reviewing it, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. And it has to be said, that with Girl on a Wire Bond remains on form. It was a delightful story with some very dark twists and genuine heartbreak. Continue reading
By 12 November, 2014
Posted in fantasy, mystery, review, YA
Ayesha Ryder bears the scars of strife in the Middle East. Now her past is catching up to her as she races to unravel a mystery that spans centuries—and threatens to change the course of history.
As Israeli and Palestinian leaders prepare to make a joint announcement at the Tower of London, an influential scholar is tortured and murdered in his well-appointed home in St. John’s Wood. Academic researcher Ayesha Ryder believes the killing is no coincidence. Sir Evelyn Montagu had unearthed shocking revelations about T. E. Lawrence—the famed Lawrence of Arabia. Could Montagu have been targeted because of his discoveries?
Ryder’s search for answers takes her back to her old life in the Middle East and into a lion’s den of killers and traitors. As she draws the attention of agents from both sides of the conflict, including detectives from Scotland Yard and MI5, Ryder stumbles deeper into Lawrence’s secrets, an astounding case of royal blackmail, even the search for the Bible’s lost Ark of the Covenant.
Every step of the way, the endgame grows more terrifying. But when an attack rocks London, the real players show their hand—and Ayesha Ryder is left holding the final piece of the puzzle.
Ryder by Nick Pengelley is a compelling read, but it is one that may not please everyone, both due to its format and due to its content. To start with the content, Ryder is very much a story in the vein of The Da Vinci Code and The Rule of Four; academic thrillers that work as a sort of treasure hunt following the clues to solve the mystery. It’s the aspect I enjoyed most about Brown’s Langdon books, so I enjoyed it here, but if that is not your thing, then this might not be the book for you. Continue reading
By 10 October, 2014
Posted in crime, mystery, review, thriller