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 · Uncategorized

Till Morning is Nigh by Rob Parker (Review)

Bracken is back on a whole new adventure! I’m so pleased to be on the blog tour for “Till Morning Is Nigh” by Rob Parker, the latest Ben Bracken Thriller. Following The Penny Black, Bracken is set to get himself into a whole heap of trouble… again. Read on for my thoughts! Till Morning is Nigh is available now in eBook and Paperback formats and is available on Kindle Unlimited.

It’s no secret that Bracken is one of my favourite protagonists to date. He’s not your typical “hero” and he’s plenty flawed. In Rob Parker’s latest offering, Bracken has a chance at a whole new life. More.. legally this time, though all still very questionable. He’s not hiding off-the-grid. He’s been given a chance. He’s got a family now and a new job consulting with the NCA.

He’s now part of a team, something different to what we’re used to from this lone wolf. However, will he play the part or will he go off and do what he wants? Does his new family effect his decisions? He has a newborn son with his partner, Carolyn, whom already has two children from her previous relationship. That’s a whole interesting story there, but it’s a spoiler for previous books, so if you’ve not read them, I’d recommend you do. 😉 It’s noticeably softened Bracken but you’ll have to find out for yourself what it means for his adventure.

A race against time with a topical, political theme, Till Morning Is Nigh is unsettling and tense throughout as Bracken goes above and beyond – as per usual, gets himself to a whole heap of trouble – as usual and puts himself firmly amongst the grey.

A little slower of a pace than his other books, this is an excellent thriller with well-built tension that had me genuinely unable to put it down – I wasn’t kidding when I say it’s unsettling and tense. While a work of fiction, the topical theme hits close to home with the current political tensions and the threats of extremism and only led to a more immersive read. I had to follow it through to the end for my own sanity. The ending didn’t fully sit with me, some of the action elements didn’t feel totally believable but I put it down to adrenaline and went with it, I’m totally fine with that, that’s literally my only criticism and it’s barely a criticism. I really enjoyed the book as a whole and I can’t get enough of Bracken. So I am pleased to say this is yet another excellent offering from Rob Parker.

About the Book

Dragged half dead from a river, Ben Bracken, fugitive ex-soldier, is in a bad way.

But, too valuable to discard and too dangerous to set free, an old friend offers him a choice: abandon his identity and become a desk-bound advisor to the National Crime Agency, or go back to the prison he broke out of – a place where he is extremely unpopular.

Bracken is forced to accept – and he’s becoming a different man.

But all this changes when, days before Christmas, an undercover narcotics officer is murdered in horrific circumstances, and only Bracken has the inside track on the key suspect. Throwing himself into the fray, Bracken finds himself in a very present-day ideological conflict, uncovering a plot which has huge implications for both Manchester’s political, socio-economic landscape, and the nation at large – coming to an explosive conclusion amidst the twinkling fairy lights and frost-tipped boughs of Christmas Eve…

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 · Life · Uncategorized

A day in the life of a Writer/Dad

As part of the Blog Tour for Morte Point, I’m pleased to be able to share a guest post with you from Robert Parker; the author himself. Yay! *everyone applauds*

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This is the lovely Rob; if context wasn’t enough of an indicator.

My Usual Day As A Writer-Dad

5.45 AM
Oh my god, really? You really want to wake up now? The little foot in my back, the snuffle and the grunt tells me that’s a yes. Our baby son, who is ten months old and has somehow found his way into our bed overnight, wants up and at ‘em. As is our routine (I do the earlies, Mrs Parker does the nights), I’m up and down the stairs – not before tripping over our two older daughters, who are 3 and 7, and have also dragged their duvets onto our bedroom floors. Words will have to be had later, but for now? COFFEE.

9 AM
We’ve taken it in shifts to get ready for the last couple of hours, while the youngsters play, bicker, eat, drink, mess etc. Now it’s time for mummy to take over, and for daddy to get to work. If it was term time, we’d be on the school run. I nip upstairs, and start the usual checks on social media (what do I need to tweet about today?) and emails (who haven’t I got back to?).
10 AM
As I’ve got another charity fight coming up, it’s time to train at the local boxing gym, which is fashioned in a big room halfway up an old cardboard box factory in Warrington. Ten rounds of getting my backside handed to me (I’ve got a bit of weight to shift before the fight, so the hard work is all ahead of me), and I’m on my way home.

11.30 AM
NEED MORE COFFEE. Time to eat, refuel, whichever. Check those email responses. All good, no worries. Lunch.

12.00 PM
Let’s get writing. I aim for 2000 words a day, so let’s turn off social media and go for that first 500 words.

12.30 PM
It’s going well – so well that I’m on approximately 650! Let’s keep going till it dries up.

12.31 PM
It dried up at 654. Let’s refresh, grab a coffee. Start again.

16.00 PM
That was tough. It’s been a slog this afternoon, so much so that a decent 400 words had to be axed completely and redone. But we are getting there. An hour to go.

16.30 PM
My eyes literally won’t stay open. I keep reading the same sentence over and over and ov….zzzzzzz.

16.47 PM
I’m awake – and there’s only 13 minutes to go?! DAMMIT! Head down, go and mercifully the flow is back. I’m going to get there.

17.00 PM
The kids are shouting ‘daddy!’ up the stairs, and I know it’s time to stop. I’m 350 words short or so, but those’ll have to wait. Now it’s playtime, Peppa Pig, something on Youtube called Diana’s Playtime about some kids who have every toy ever made. Fairy tales, sing songs, stories – and I LOVE it.

18.00 PM
Tea time. In term time, I’m informed who was the naughtiest at preschool/school that day, but tonight it’s what marvelous weirdos they saw while out shopping. Baby redecorates the kitchen with food.

18.30 PM
Daddy baths the little ones, while Mummy cleans up baby’s artistic efforts in the kitchen. I face the usual questions about the young lad’s anatomy (still a novelty apparently), before rustling them into towels and their bedrooms.

19.00 PM
Time for a story and bed. The girls like a story each (read together) and then comprehension questions in some bizarre bedtime test. Easy ones for the three year old, MENSA standard for the seven year old.

19.20 PM
After failed negotiations with the three year old, Daddy is under house arrest on her bedroom floor with his laptop. She bombards me with questions like ‘what are you working on?’ and ‘did you write the Bible?’.

21.00 PM
All sound asleep. I head down to the office to work, and keep slugging away until I get there. My agent Linda asked me to check in earlier, and she’s still in the office over in New York, so I give her a buzz on WhatsApp. We are both from the north of England, so we end up exchanging a few ‘ecky thumps’ and ‘ee by gums’ before hanging up. Tonight, the flow is good, so I’ll keep at it, armed with a pint of coffee (we don’t play games round our way).

23.45 PM
The words were flushing out of me tonight, so I had to make use of it because there’ll be days when it’s a lexical Sahara up there – happy to make it to 2,450 for the day. I head to bed.

23.47 PM
I forgot to sterilize the baby’s bottles. Back downstairs I go, but I forget to unset the alarm. As soon as I enter the kitchen, off it goes and up wakes the whole house. For crying out loud…


morte-pointMorte Point is a wonderful spot for a holiday. Only that’s not why Ben Bracken is here.

He’s here because in this sleepy part of England, events are now unfolding that could cause death and mayhem, and not just for the unfortunates in the plane that has just crashed into the sea off the North Devon coast.

Sent to locate the source of the problem, ex-soldier and patriot Ben finds himself both hunter and hunted. But who is after him, and why do they want to capture him so desperately?

Morte Point is the sequel to Rob Parker’s “A Wanted Man“. It’s fast paced and gripping and I hope you’ll give it a go and love it. You can check out the other stops on the tour if you’d like to find out more about the book! You can find Rob via Twitter – @robparkerauthor. Special thanks to Endeavour Media for inviting me to participate in the tour!

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