audiobooks · book reviews · Bookish · Uncategorized

Far from the Tree by Rob Parker (Audiobook Review)

Hello everyone! It’s another day in the middle of a pandemic, so I’m bringing you a slice of escape with a review of Rob Parker‘s latest offering, Far From The Tree, an Audible exclusive, as part of a blog tour. I got to hear the book for free before it’s release. There are two more installments to follow this one, which I am thrilled to hear. You may recognise Rob Parker’s name as he has been featured here several times previously. You can check out the tag to find my posts on some of his other works, but for now, let’s get in to Far From The Tree!

About the Book

Brendan Foley has worked to balance the responsibilities of a demanding job and a troublesome family. He’s managed to keep these two worlds separate, until the discovery of a mass grave sends them into a headlong collision. When one of the dead turns out to be a familiar face, he’s taken off the case. 

Iona Madison keeps everything under control. She works hard as a detective sergeant and trains harder as a boxer. But when her superior, DI Foley, is removed from the case, her certainties are tested like never before. 

With stories of the Warrington 27 plastered over the news, they set out to solve the crime before anyone else. The local constabulary is small and under-funded – Brendan knows they can’t crack this case alone, and he’s not letting a rival force take over. Not with the secrets he fears are lurking. Their investigations lead them into the murky underworlds of Manchester and Liverpool, where one more murder means little to drug-dealing gangs, desperate to control their power bases. 

But as Madison steps into the ring for the fight of her life, the criminals come to them. It’s no coincidence that the corpses have been buried in Foley’s hometown. The question is, why? Foley might not like the answer…. 

Introducing a gripping new crime thriller, perfect for fans of Clare Mackintosh, Ian Rankin and Line of Duty.

Far From The Tree is the latest offering from Rob Parker, an audible exclusive, performed by Warren Brown. I’ve not listened to a lot of audiobooks, and this is the first time that I’m reviewing one on my blog. I’m delighted that my first is one by Rob. I had really high expectations for it, and it didn’t let me down.

The thing about audiobooks is that it isn’t just the story itself, but it’s the performance as a whole. If the voice actor is rubbish, it doesn’t let the book shine. I’m happy to say that Warren Brown did an excellent job, his voice really suited the content and it was really easy for me to get in to as his performance really lured me in to the story.

A small bit about the book. Far From The Tree is set in Warrington. It opens up with a group committing theft, right off the bat. I wondered where this was going… it becomes an important point later on. Roll on the next day and Brendan Foley is called to a case, what essentially is a mass grave has been discovered, by chance, in what would become a notorious case. That sure had me sit up a little straighter. What was all this about?

They started to work through the bodies and Foley was absolutely shocked to see a familiar face. Someone he cared about deeply and someone who didn’t fit the trend of the grave. With such a personal note, they wanted to pull Foley from the case, however, he made a strong case and they allowed him to stay on… for a while. Eventually they pulled him off the case but he continued to work on it with his colleague.

The book is punchy, quickly paced and tense throughout. I didn’t realise how long I’d been listening to it when my partner pulled my attention away. I’d tuned the world out and was wholly inside this dark, dramatic and gritty tale. As I’ve mentioned previously, I have aphantasia, I can’t really visualise things, though I’ve been doing things people suggest may help – anyway – there was plenty of description to get a good idea of the exact atmosphere that Rob was building, the grounds for this thrilling and intense, hard-boiled mystery with a fascinating cast of believable characters.

On numerous occasions, this book managed to surprise me. I don’t want to post spoilers, so I wont, but the ending of the book was.. *chef kiss* .. I loved it. The pace picked up along with the intensity. I found myself almost forgetting to breathe. I can’t wait for the next installment. What’s the equivalent of being unable to put a paperback down. I couldn’t stop listening? It doesn’t seem weighty enough. I was enthralled for the entire book, but the ending… Ooof. Damn. I loved this audiobook, and hopefully you will too. There’s a reason it very quickly shot up to best-seller status. I’d love to see it as a TV show!

book reviews · Bookish

Finding Milly by Nathan Burrows (Review)

Happy Weekend! Today I am on the BOTBS tour for Finding Milly by Nathan Burrows. It’s out now in both Paperback and Kindle Formats and is available as part of Kindle Unlimited. I received a copy for my participation in the tour.

About the Book

Jimmy Tucker is dying. There’s only one person he wants to tell. His daughter—Milly. But when he gets home from the hospital, she’s vanished without a trace.

The inoperable brain aneurysm deep within Jimmy’s head could burst at any time—a cough, a sneeze, or a blow to the head could kill him instantly. With the police not interested in Milly’s disappearance, Jimmy takes things into his own hands and begins to look for his only daughter. But it doesn’t take him long to realise that his daughter is not the woman he thinks she is.

As he gradually discovers Milly’s shocking private life, Jimmy enlists the help of Gareth Dawson, an ex-crook with a big heart. But Gareth can only help Jimmy up to a point.

As the pressure mounts, can Jimmy uncover the truth about Milly’s disappearance before it’s too late—for either of them?

Finding Milly hooks you right off that bat. Jimmy Tucker has an appointment at the hospital, only to learn that the cause of his recent headaches are an untreatable anyeurism and he doesn’t have long left. He wants to tell his daughter Milly, but she isn’t about when he gets home – not unusual, but she doesn’t turn up later either. His wife, Milly’s mother, passed away ten years prior. Milly is all he has left and his love for her is prevalent throughout the book. So where is Milly?

Jimmy uncovers some strange things about his daughter. He’s reported her missing to the police, but he’s not one to just sit and wait for them to do their thing. With the help of some other people, he gets to the bottom of things, racing against his remaining time on the ticking time bomb in his head.

This book is a kind of a slow burn but very steadily paced and you’ll have read half of it before you even realise. Well written, Finding Milly really draws you in with it’s well balanced plot and immersive locale. It has a constant level of tension and excellent character development and dynamic between them. Really fantastic read.

book reviews · Bookish · Uncategorized

The Penny Black by Rob Parker (Review)

Happy weekend! Today, it’s my pleasure to bring you a review of The Penny Black by Rob Parker. This is the third installment in his Ben Bracken thriller series and is available now on Kindle and as part of Kindle Unlimited. Rob very kindly sent me an ARC of his book. Thanks, Rob!

The Penny Black is the third installment in the Ben Bracken thriller series, and while you can read it alone, I feel it may feel a little lacking if you’ve not read the previous books as it makes reference to past events without spending a whole lot of time going back over them. (I was actually on the tour for his previous book – Morte Point and hosted a fab guest post if you fancy a peek after you’re done here!)

Bracken is on the run and has bunkered down in the small town of Horning, with an unsavoury job at a boatyard and living a fairly minimalist lifestyle, under a new identity, going by the name of James, keeping his head down and cracking after his escape from prison during the riot and after the events of the previous book. All in all, he seems pretty contented – that is, until his past catches up to him.

Ben is a good guy whose done bad things, in my view. His ego gets him in to quite a few pickles, he could fill an entire jar. What seems like just deterring some youth’s from breaking in to someones boat, turns in to being a part of a much bigger situation – one Bracken hadn’t accounted for. Big things are happening in that little town, and Bracken just can’t help himself.

The Penny Black is the name of Bracken’s new local. It’s also the title of this well written, fast paced thriller, that just keeps you guessing. I figured his past would come back, but I had no idea what was in store. I was unable to put it down as the action unfolded. Bracken isn’t a clear cut “good guy” or “hero” or whatever you call him, he’s a murky sort and to date, is one of my favourite characters in a thriller.

The book ends in action and pretty abruptly. There’s no frilly ending, just a resolution to the conflict/obstacle and it’s over. Some people might not like that sort of ending, but for me, it just feels like it’s an invitation to read the next installment (Til morning is nigh) coming later this year. I’m very much looking forward to it. I am a fan of series where one book runs in to the next and I find myself most invested in their protaganists. Rob has me as a fan for life.

About the Book

I’m dead, for all intents and purposes. Nobody knows I’m alive…

Ben Bracken is on the run for his life. Keeping a low profile from the agencies seeking to silence him, he finds refuge in the quiet town of Horning. Working in a boat yard and lodging with an older couple, Eric and Dot, Ben uses this time to plan. He needs to escape, and realising his only chance will reveal his whereabouts to some unsavoury characters, he plans every detail. Little does he know, even that won’t be enough…

Just before he walks away, murder strikes the quiet town. Ben cannot leave until he is sure that he has not brought any further trouble to the townsfolk. Will he be able to exact revenge? One thing is certain, there is a lot more going on in the town of Horning than meets the eye…

The Penny Black is action packed from beginning to end, keeping you guessing right the way through.

Bookish · Uncategorized

Setting – Val Penny (Guest Post)

Hey all, today, I am delighted to be on the tour for Hunters Force by Val Penny and I have a guest post for you! I’ve been on previous tours for the books prior to this if you want to check those posts out too and so I am chuffed to be hosting another guest post from the author. Thanks, Val!

Thank you for inviting me to your blog today. I am very excited because my third crime novel, ‘Hunter’s Force’ has been published by Crooked Cats Books and is easily available from Amazon.

The story is set in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. I think setting is very important to a novel and did consider creating an imaginary town for my story. However, I lived in Edinburgh for many years and know the city well. I definitely saw my main protagonist, Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson, as a city policeman. Also, Edinburgh is a beautiful city and it is lovely to ‘research’ by walking around my favourite places!

Edinburgh has everything a writer could need. It is a diverse city with all different kinds of buildings and people. It is small enough that characters can move around it quickly and large enough for it to be credible that anything I want to happen there, could happen.

Edinburgh is a fabulous city with a castle, a palace and a cathedral, wealthy homes, horrible slums, fine restaurants, fast food outlets and idiosyncratic pubs. It is home to an Olympic size pool, the National Rugby Team and two famous football teams. It is also home to The Edinburgh International Festivals, what more could I or my characters want?

When I chose Edinburgh as the setting for my first novel ‘Hunter’s Chase’, I thought about it carefully. it is a beautiful city of around half a million people. I wanted the place to be big enough to support the series of books the form The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries, and I have no doubt that it fits the bill.

Hunter Wilson is divorced. He lives in a flat in Leith, an area to the north of the City and drinks in his local pub, the Persevere Bar and plays darts there.

The delegated parliament of Scotland, is where Hunter’s nemesis, Sir Peter Myerscough served as Justice Secretary. The Scottish Parliament has wide powers over how the people of Scotland are governed and meets in the Scottish Parliament Building, in the Holyrood district of the city.

Sir Peter Myerscough, has a fine home to the south in the Morningside district of Edinburgh. From his large house he has fine views across the Pentland Hills. The Pentland hills are situated just outside of Edinburgh. The reservoirs are picturesque and each hill is slightly different. If you are fit enough, you can visit the top of all of the hills in one day.
Another main character, Detective Constable Tim Myerscough is Sir Peter Myerscough’s son. He jogs through the unique park at The hermitage of Braid and his favourite pub is the Golf Tavern, off the Bruntsfield Links where, it is claimed, the oldest golf course in the world is situated.

Edinburgh is such a diverse and cultural city home to the National Art Galleries, beautiful parks and all kinds of people. It is the perfect place to situate my new novel, ‘Hunter’s Revenge’ and all the cases DI Hunter Wilson has to solve.

About The Book

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature:

Can DI Hunter Wilson keep Edinburgh safe when he is the hunted?

DI Hunter Wilson is woken in the early hours of the morning by a call from his son, Cameron. Who has murdered the young student who shares Cameron’s flat? Why would anybody want to kill a young woman recently arrived in the city?

Now that the united police force, Police Scotland exists, Hunter must call in the new Major Incident Team (MIT) to lead the investigation. Hunter’s ability to investigate anything further is put in severe doubt when someone from his past decides to take revenge on him. He goes missing and his team have no idea where to look for him. Who would want to stop Hunter in his tracks? 

Hunter’s team must work closely with MIT, with or without him, to solve the murder in this taught crime thriller. 

About The Author

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ Hunter’s Revenge and Hunter’s Force are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The fourth book in the series, Hunter’s Blood, follows shortly.

book reviews · Bookish · Uncategorized

Perfect Liars by Rebecca Reid – Review

perfectliars2

Today, I’m on bringing you a review as part of the tour for Perfect Liars by Rebecca Reid, out now in Paperback, on Kindle and as an Audio Book.

They have it all. And they’ll do anything to keep it that way.

For fans of The Girlfriend and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies as well as TV hits Doctor Foster and The Replacement.

Sixteen years ago, at an elite boarding school secluded in the English countryside, best friends Nancy, Georgia and Lila did something unspeakable.

Their secret forged an unbreakable bond between them, a bond of silence. But now, in their thirties, one of them wants to talk.

One word and everything could be ruined: their lives, their careers, their relationships. It’s up to Georgia to call a crisis dinner. – she knows there’s nothing that can’t be resolved by three courses in her immaculate kitchen.

But the evening does not go as planned.

Three women walk in to the dinner, but only two will leave.

Murder isn’t so difficult the second time around…

Gripping and unputdownable, Perfect Liars tells the story of a group of friends bound by their dark pasts and their desperate need to keep their secrets hidden from the world around them. How far would you go to protect the life you’ve built?

Perfect Liars PB 1

If you liked the show Pretty Little Liars or Doctor Foster, you’ll like this book; unless you need to like the characters, then.. perhaps not… The story has three main characters who attended boarding school together. Out of the three, two of them are wealthy, one is on a scholarship but all three of them are well written, awful people. Teenagers are often pretty terrible people, but grow in to decent people. How about these three? As it turns out, no, they don’t. Instantly, I took a dislike to all of the main characters.

The story is relatively easy to guess and the blurb gives away a lot, but it also gives the impression that maybe one of the characters isn’t so bad after all, that maybe she’s likeable? Nope. Not in my view at least; however, I don’t need to like the characters to enjoy a book. There’s no “good-guy” in this story really – they’re all pretty awful people, even as adults.. The only character that doesn’t suck as a person is the only one who isn’t married to this heinous human beings. I loved to hate these characters. They were well written and very “human”. They were quite believable and I find with stories like these, it’s not always the case.

The book opens up with the end, and switches between present day and the girls’ time in boarding school and their individual perspective. The book focuses heavily on their guilt and how it effects them, even in their current lives. The book flows brilliantly, it’s well paced and well written, making up a little for its predictability. Despite knowing the way the story would go, I couldn’t put it down. The characters and the story itself I found all to be very believable which I found made it stand out compared to other books in the genre.

rebecca-reid-2 1
Rebecca is a freelance journalist. She is a columnist for the Telegraph Women’s section, works for Metro Online and has written for Marie Claire, the Guardian, the Saturday Telegraph, the Independent, Stylist, Glamour, the iPaper, the Guardian, Indy100, LOOK and the New Statesmen amongst others. Rebecca is a regular contributor to Sky News and ITV’s This Morning as well as appearing on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, LBC, BBC News 24 and the BBC World Service to discuss her work.

She graduated from Royal Holloway’s Creative Writing MA in 2015 and Perfect Liars is her debut novel.

Rebecca lives in North London with her husband.