Book Review – Dead Souls by Angela Marsons…

Ms Marsons!!! I do declare you’ve done it to me again!!! What an incredible book!!!

The truth was dead and buried…until now.

When a collection of human bones is unearthed during a routine archaeological dig, a Black Country field suddenly becomes a complex crime scene for Detective Kim Stone.

As the bones are sorted, it becomes clear that the grave contains more than one victim. The bodies hint at unimaginable horror, bearing the markings of bullet holes and animal traps.

Forced to work alongside Detective Travis, with whom she shares a troubled past, Kim begins to uncover a dark secretive relationship between the families who own the land in which the bodies were found.

But while Kim is immersed in one of the most complicated investigations she’s ever led, her team are caught up in a spate of sickening hate crimes. Kim is close to revealing the truth behind the murders, yet soon finds one of her own is in jeopardy – and the clock is ticking. Can she solve the case and save them from grave danger – before it’s too late?

This book deals with the one thing that sickens me more than any other – hate crimes and racism. I am a member of an anti hate campaign group, so to see the subject handled in such an incredible way almost moved me to tears. I have to say thank you to Ms Marsons. This is a subject that not many people have the courage to bring into the public eye to remind society that these crimes still happen in today’s society and are no less heinous now than they were many years ago.

This story like all of the others that have been written, provide an incredible background story. As always you (as a reader) are picked up and whisked along at super fast speed and you do not get put down again until the final page.

This story does not delve into Kim’s past in the way that other stories have done. The involvement of Stacey’s character on a higher level was well plotted too. She has always been in the background. Good old dependable Stace, doing her job quietly and efficiently. To see her character fleshed out in such a way was thoroughly enjoyable! I only wish that Stace could have a girlfriend. Maybe the girl from the cafe?

As with any of the Kim Stone crime thrillers, reading and absorbing the story is like peeling back the layers of an onion. The further down you get.. I had a couple of nights where I fell asleep with Kindle in hand because I had read until about 3am. As with all the other five books, number six is one hell of a stellar read and I strongly advise you to give it a go.

You do not have to read these books in time order. If you have never read a Kim Stone novel however, I really do recommend that you do read them in order. However you read them, just enjoy them for the sheer works of genius that they are and enjoy the most wonderful, bad assed Detective Inspector around in modern crime fiction. Long live Kim Stone!!!

Yet another five star read from the amazing Angela Marsons!

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Book Review – Blood Lines by Angela Marsons…

How do you catch a killer who leaves no trace?

A victim killed with a single, precise stab to the heart appears at first glance to be a robbery gone wrong. A caring mother and social worker lost to a senseless act of violence. But for Detective Kim Stone, something doesn’t add up.

When a local drug addict is found murdered with an identical wound, Kim knows instinctively that she is dealing with the same killer. But with nothing to link the two victims except the cold, calculated nature of their death, this could be her most difficult case yet.

Desperate to catch the twisted individual, Kim’s focus on the case is threatened when she receives a chilling letter from Dr Alex Thorne, the sociopath who Kim put behind bars. And this time, Alex is determined to hit where it hurts most, bringing Kim face-to-face with the woman responsible for the death of Kim’s little brother – her own mother.

As the body count increases, Kim and her team unravel a web of dark secrets, bringing them closer to the killer. But one of their own could be in mortal danger. Only this time, Kim might not be strong enough to save them…

Ms. Marsons has managed to do it to me again. She provided me with a book that had me captivated from the first word right through to the last one. I was so caught up in this book that I had to see it through. I finished it at 1am (it’s now 6am) and had to close my eyes for a little while before I picked up my phone to write this review.

This book sees Kim face to face with the vile Dr Alex Thorne yet again. I was, I have to admit, a little sad to see her again at first. I felt she had made Kim suffer enough. However, after a few chapters I began to understand the author’s rationale for re-introducing the character. Bringing her back made for a fascinating and twisted plot that picks you up and twists and tosses you about like a leaf in the wind.

I can’t say too much more about the plot because I don’t want to give anything away. It is, yet again, absolutely impossible to guess who the killer is right up until the very end of the book.

I read several reviews of the book and one in particular stood out in my mind. It said that they found the book difficult to get through so they skipped ahead to the last few chapters to find out what happened. That doesn’t make the book difficult to read! The book slips through your mind and right into your brain like fine wine settles into your system as you drink it. That makes the writer of the review the sort of person who really should not be reading crime novels because they can’t control the impulse to skip ahead to the end of the book! One suspects they may have been the sort of child who sought out Christmas gifts and picked up the corner of the wrapper to peek at what rests beneath before frantically sticking it down again so as not to get caught! ;-p

Kim proves to us yet again just how strong and ballsy she is despite the hell she has been through. Her character development throughout this series of books shows what an incredible protagonist the writer has created.

I am super excited to dive into book six in the series but then realised that I only have one more book to read before I have to wait for the next release. Noooooo! What will I do without Kim to keep me company? I know. I’ll start from the beginning!

Thank you to the writer for yet another stellar instalment in the series. Oh, and please, never ever let Kim retire!

Absolutely brilliant! A five out of five star read!

Book Review – Past Mortems by Carla Valentine.

This book jumped out at me while I was committing the dangerous act of browsing Amazon for new books. I have had a fascination with pathology and it’s associated professions for a long time. Possibly well founded by my 15 years as a nurse.
So I took the leap and purchased this book and boy am I glad that I did!
A day in the life of Carla Valentine – curator, pathology technician and ‘death professional’ – is not your average day. She spent ten years training and working as an Anatomical Pathology Technologist : where the mortuary slab was her desk,and that day’s corpses her task list.
Past Mortems tells Carla’s story of those years, as well as investigating the body alongside our attitudes towards death – shedding light on what the living can learn from the dead and the toll the work can take on the living souls who carry it out. Fascinating and insightful, Past Mortems reveals the truth about what happens when the mortuary doors swing shut or the lid of the coffin closes.
It is really rather easy for me to review this book. I love, love, loved it!!! It was incredibly well written by a very well practised and highly intelligent woman. She reveals to us through her gift for writing as well as working with the dead, all the facts about having to work in the death industry. As an outsider, we do not see the intense pressure that these people have to work under. This book peels back layers, much like an APT gently moving the skin of the face and working to enter the skull to reveal the brain. By gradually doing this, Carla shows all of the facts behind the mystery surrounding the work that is done in mortuaries.
We learn from her, many of the fascinating aspects of her profession, from where she started out to where she is now. However, this book also shows just how brave Carla is as she shares with us some of the most painful moments of her life, revealing both her vulnerability and her strength.
I can’t praise this book enough, I really can’t. If you have even a passing interest in the death industry in any of its forms, I urge you to read this book!
A five out of five star read. Thank you Carla!

Book Review – Queer City: Gay London from the Romans to the present day by Peter Ackroyd…

In Queer City Peter Ackroyd looks at London in a whole new way – through the story of its gay population. In Roman Londinium the city was dotted with lupanaria (‘wolf dens’ or public pleasure houses), fornices (brothels) and thermiae (hot baths). Then came the Emperor Constantine, with his bishops, monks and missionaries. And so began an endless loop of permissiveness and censure.
Ackroydtakes us right into the hidden history of the city, from the notorious Normans to the frenzy of executions for sodomy in the early nineteenth century.
The Second World War turned the role of the upside down, but in the sixties, “Lillie Law” still frequented all the haunts, from the coffee bars of Soho to the notorious Biograph – or Bio-Grope- cinema in Victoria. he seventies brought Gay Liberation and disco music, but then the horror of AIDS arrived, and the of Queer fortune turned yet again
Today we live in an era of her increasing openness and era cane and Queer London has become part of the new norm. Ackroyd tells us the story of how it got there, celebrating its diversity, thrills and energy on the one hand, but reminding us of its. Sry real terrors, dangers and risks on the other.
Peter Ackroyd has written a brilliantly well informed book about gar London from Roman times to the present day. He helps us to see just how very prevelant gay sex was in Roman times and that it went from the very top right the way down to the very bottom of society. To realise that the prevelance of Queer activity within London was as prevelant as it was is a real eye opener. You just never realised how much Queer life is interspaced with the life within the city that is considered as straight. Although I have never understood the desire that people have to rabidly stick labels on themselves. I’m as guilty as the next person. I’ve done it too. I came out as Bisexual a while back. One wonders why we all seem to have this desire to label. Anyway, back to discussing this awesome book. The book starts off with discussing the origins of the words gay and Queer. I absolutely love language and the origin of words and how they develop.
Sodomy was a well used term in the eleventh century but was used as an umbrella term that covers many expressions. Ackroyd has a very well researched subject matter and an excellently worded history for Queer culture throughout the ages. By the end of chapter one, you will never look at a radish the same way ever again!
You realise during chapter two that practices that would be viewed as abhorrent by the vast majority of society today where then freely done and not condemned.
The book moves through the ages extremely easily and shows that homosexuality bore little to no prejudice in Roman times, but as the years go by, it becomes very easy to track the rising patter of prejudice throughout the centuries.
We can see the changes, both negative and positive, and how they have shaped society right up to the present day.
A highly informative and very well written book. A five out of five star read.

Book Review… See You In the Cosmos Carl Sagan- Jack Cheng…

An astonishingly moving middle-grade debut about a space-obsessed boy’s quest for family and home.
All eleven-year old Alex wants is to launch his iPod into space. With a series of audio recordings, he will show other lifeforms out in the cosmos what life on Earth, his Earth, is really like. But for a boy with a long-dead dad, a troubled mum, and a mostly-not-around brother, Alex struggles with the big questions.

Where do I come from? Who’s out there? And, above all, How can I be brave?

Determined to find the answers, Alex sets out on a remarkable road trip that will turn his whole world upside down . . .

For fans of Wonder and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Jack Cheng’s debut is full of joy, optimism, determination, and unbelievable heart. To read the first page is to fall in love with Alex and his view of our big, beautiful, complicated world. To read the last is to know he and his story will stay with you a long, long time.

I was given an ARC by NetGalley in exchange for a far and honest review.

From the first page, I started to fall in love with Alex a little bit. He reminded me very much of me at that age as I was space obsessed. He is an incredibly erudite 11 year old who has a rather different lifestyle to most 11 year old. From the start, you get the impression that his mother suffers with a mental illness and he is her carer.

As the story unfolds, you come across some incredible characters and they paint a rich series of colours that help to paint Alex’s life a different colour than he ever thought would be possible.

A four out of five star read.

I am profoundly grateful to NetGalley and Penguin Random House UK.

Book Review – Final Girls by Riley Sager…

Each girl survived an unthinkable horror. Now someone wants them dead…
They were called The Final Girls.
Three young women who survived unimaginable horror. Three victims of separate massacres grouped together by the press. Three strangers bound by similar traumas.
Lisa. Quincy. Samantha.
When something terrible happens to Lisa, put-together Quincy and volatile Sam finally meet. Each one influences the other. Each one has dark secrets. And after the bloodstained fingers of the past reach into the present, each one will never be the same.

I was given an ARC by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

This book begins in the past as one of the female protagonists, Quincy is fleeing for her life from the cottage her friends were killed in. The chapter is written very well and it conveys the character and her terror in a really concise way.

As she learns of the death of one of the other “final girls”, Quincy is devastated and realising that her past will once again take over her life. The other final girl, Sam, arrives out of nowhere shortly before they find out that Lisa’s death was not a suicide but was indeed a murder.

A journalist that Quincy hates tries to tell her that all is not as it seems with Sam and that she is lying to Quinn. Quinn doesn’t know who to trust and finds herself spiralling out of control. The memories that Quincy could not recall are starting to filter through the blackness of her mind.

This story is brilliantly written and the twists and turns keep you guessing right up to the end. I was so shocked when the culprit is revealed. I would never have guessed.

Great book. I give it five out of five stars.

I am profoundly grateful to NetGalley and Dutton for my copy.

Book Review – The Book of Mirrors by E.O Chirovici.

When big-shot literary agent Peter Katz receives an unfinished manuscript entitled The Book of Mirrors, he is intrigued.
The author, Richard Flynn is writing a memoir about his time at Princeton in the late 80s, documenting his relationship with the famous Professor Joseph Wieder.

One night in 1987, Wieder was brutally murdered in his home and the case was never solved.

Peter Katz is hell-bent on getting to the bottom of what happened that night twenty-five years ago and is convinced the full manuscript will reveal who committed the violent crime.

But other people’s recollections are dangerous weapons to play with, and this might be one memory that is best kept buried.

I was given an ARC by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I loved this book. Right from the start there are intricate plot twists and turns. There are several protagonists that give the story a different spin and you are kept guessing right to the end about just who is really responsible.

This is the first book that I have read by this author and I’d definitely read another.

A five out of five star read.

I am profoundly grateful to NetGalley and Random House for my copy of the book.

Book Review – Nineteen Eightyfour – George Orwell…

In 1984, London is a grim city where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind. Winston is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be.

I agreed to buddy read this book with a friend of mine. I have to hang my head in shame and confess to being one of the few people who have never read any of George Orwell’s books. For this reason, and also for the reason that I fight against totalitarian governments and oppression wherever I can. So I began the book with a large dose of enthusiasm.

Sadly, for the first four chapters struck me with crippling boredom. I was finding it very difficult to maintain any interest in the book. I have problems with books. My hands/wrists become very painful after only a short while of reading. So I downloaded the book onto my kobo instead, and wow! The difference has been marked. I’m now captivated by the story.
There is a disturbing aspect to the story when Winston has violent and murderous thoughts about Julia and also the desire to rape her, near to the start of the story. That misogynistic piece of the plot was disturbing and upsetting, but yes, I know that people do think that way and it is saddening.
When Winston and Julia come together, the story shows the lengths that two people in love will go to in order to circumvent their situation and be together.
What this book showed is the way that an oppressive political regime can use fear to control the people and there can be no way out. No hope. This book has painted a picture of lonely people existing in their own bubbles. In joyless lives, terrified to have an independent thought that would lead to the arrival of the thought police.
This dystopian world shows a political party exercising ultimate and total control of its citizens. I don’t want to say more on this vein, as I don’t want to spoil the story.
Orwell has created a grey, colourless world that holds you tightly in its grip and will not let go.
A three out of five star read.

Book Review – The Devil’s Prayer by Luke Gracias…

In search of answers, Siobhan travels to the isolated convent where her mother once lived. Here she discovers Denise’s final confession, a book that details a heinous betrayal that left her crippled and mute, and Denise’s subsequent deal with the Devil to take revenge. In the desperate bargain Denise made with the Prince of Darkness, she wagered Siobhan’s soul. 
As Siobhan discovers the fate of her soul, she learns that hidden within the pages of her mother’s confession is part of The Devil’s Prayer, an ancient text with the power to unleash apocalyptic horrors. 
And now her mother’s enemies know Siobhan has it. 
Can Siobhan escape an order of extremist monks determined to get the Prayer back? Can she save the world from its own destruction? 

I was given an ARC by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Enough with the loving on this book already. This book started off a little woodenly I’m afraid. It was slow moving, and nothing in the first two chapters grabbed me at all. That continued on through the whole story.
There was, for me, no flow in the text at all. The story was clunky and jerky and every time I thought that it was going to take off and go somewhere, it sputtered to a halt again.
The ending of the story was frustrating and left way more questions than it answered. I wanted to like this book, I really did, but it just didn’t happen. Sorry.
A two out of five star read.
I am profoundly grateful to NatGalley and Australian ebook publisher for my copy.