This morning I’m really pleased to share a 4 star review of Visions of Zarua. Rebecca is a YA Mystery author and she says she’s really liked how I merged the genres of fantasy and mystery.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted here and I’m really pleased to break back into blogging with a guest post from Rebecca Howie during her pre release blog tour. Her second novel, A Woman Scorned is book 2 in The Sam Beckett Mysteries and will be released on 10th December. It’s already available for pre-order, I’ve included a link further below in the post.
When I agreed to join Rebecca’s blog tour, the first thing that sprung to mind was why did she choose to write YA mystery. I love detectives and mystery thrillers, but it isn’t something I’m familiar with in the YA genre. I was fascinated by Rebecca’s response, so here is her guest post on the subject…
Why I chose YA
After a very long year of writer’s block, false-starts and dead-ends, I finally managed to finish my second novel in October, and with the last words written, I’ve been taking a well-earned break. But that didn’t last long, because when Suzanne generously offered to be a stop on my blog tour and I got started planning my guest post, it got me thinking about my decision to write The Game Begins, and the reasons I made it a YA mystery instead of just a regular mystery with a regular ex-alcoholic grump of a detective.
And the truth is, there wasn’t really a conscious decision to start writing a YA mystery novel. I’d been out of school for almost six months, and I was writing because I suddenly found myself with loads of free time on my hands and didn’t have anything else to do, and I was almost halfway through a first draft before I decided I wanted to keep going with it and see where it ended up.
It wasn’t a surprise that The Game Begins ended up as a YA Mystery, because I loved YA novels before I knew they were called YA novels and I have too many mysteries on my bookshelves to even attempt to count them, but I can remember why I started that first draft, the reason I logged out of my Archive of our Own account and opened a new Word document, and that was a question I started asking myself a few months after I’d left school and was spending most of my time writing fanfiction.
Writing was a coping mechanism for me I didn’t know I needed until I’d finished the first draft of The Game Begins and looked back over it and realised that if someone gave me a decade’s worth of therapy vouchers, they’d be well received, and with the emotional upheaval of ending what was basically a thirteen-year prison sentence (or, as some people know it, school), I was writing a lot.
But after a few months of this, I started to find myself getting annoyed, because I’d realised that regardless of who was writing their own version of their favourite detective, they never wrote about the ‘tragic backstory’ until the action was winding down and the main characters needed something to talk about.
And that was where I got the idea for The Game Begins: I couldn’t understand why detective stories always started in the middle, and never started from the beginning.
Was there some kind of rule which said that every fictional detective or PI needed to be middle-aged? And divorced with a daughter who used to worship the ground they walked on but now hated their guts?
Why couldn’t they be detectives in their teenage years? Why did we have to read about the traumatic childhood events when they were in their forties, instead of when those traumatic events were actually taking place?
It seemed like a simple question at the time, but after writing two books in an attempt to answer it, I think I understand why everyone prefers to use flashbacks or the occasional therapy session. Although that being said, I am only two books in, and Sam has plenty of stories left to tell.
Thanks very much Rebecca, I really enjoyed reading about the inspiration behind the Sam Beckett Mysteries series.
Book 2 – A Woman Scorned is available now for preorder.
Returning home days after leaving town wasn’t a decision Sam Beckett made lightly, and the newspaper articles detailing her shooting aren’t making her choice any easier to accept.
When a therapist is found dead in her office, Sam decides to work with CID and Detective Marshall on the case, hoping that the dead woman’s troubles will be enough to help her forget her own. but with Dr Weiss’ perfect image slowly crumbling as the investigation progresses, Sam finds that she isn’t the only person hiding behind a lie, and that uncovering someone else’s could have been what led Dr Weiss to her death.
I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of A Woman Scorned and look forward to sharing my review in the new year.
I wish Rebecca every success with her new novel and look forward to reading more of Sam’s adventures in the future. And I hope you will be inspired by this young author and pre-order her book now.
Today I’m reviewing a mystery book with a difference, it’s a YA featuring a budding young P.I. Sam Beckett.
It’s been four years since the car crash took away her father and Sam Beckett’s nightmares are back with a vengeance.
When her friend suggests she take a PI course to distract herself, Sam agrees, but she soon realises it won’t be as simple as she expected when her first case leads to a woman being killed, her husband accused of her murder, and a series of threatening text messages sent to her phone which lead Sam to believe that her father’s crash might not be the accident everyone thought it was.
I’ve always loved mysteries, even going back to my childhood when I couldn’t get enough of Scooby Doo. I’ve read countless novels and watched all the shows with their alcoholic, divorced or generally messed up detectives and P.I’s. For a long time I’ve been wanting something different. The Game Begins delivers an altogether different protagonist.
Sam is young (17 and still in school), and haunted by the accident that killed her dad. She suffered memory loss after the accident but she believes there is more to it than anyone else will admit. So she takes a P.I course, deciding to find out the answers for herself.
Her first case is something so mundane that you wonder if its worth her time. Then things start to spiral out of control.
Detective Marshall turns up on the scene and I really want Sam to trust him, but she soon feels she doesn’t know who she can trust.
Shocking events lead up to even more shocking revelations and towards the end you are rooting for Sam to get to the truth and get her life back together.
I really like Sam and Marshall, and I will certainly be reading the next book, A Woman Scorned, which is due to be released in December 2017.
My rating – I have been wavering between a 4 and 4.5 stars as I really feel this is a promising start to a new P.I. series.
There were a few typos and a couple of points in the story that I thought could have been more developed, but otherwise it was an entertaining read from a young, up and coming author.
FYI – Next month Rebecca Howie joins me for a guest post during book 2’s release.
You can check out her website for details.
I’m really pleased to take a break from my own blog tour to introduce Jaye Marie and her book The Broken Life. Both Jaye and Anita have been very supportive taking part in both my blog tours, so it’s a real pleasure to return the favour by being their host on the blog tour today.
I have a very exciting excerpt to share, but first here’s a little about the book.
Book Description of The Broken Life
DI David Snow has a serial killer to catch, a killer as mysterious as the crimes he commits.
Snow is due to retire, but not before he discovers why someone killed his sergeant and is now coming after him.
The killer seems to have a personal vendetta against Snow, but he is determined that no one else should die because of him. His efforts are hampered by the arrival of a new sergeant, ‘ruthless’ Ruth Winton, for she is not what she seems. Alarm bells start to ring when Snow realises she is after more than just his job.
Excerpt from The Broken Life
David Snow knew he was in trouble. No one had come when he used the trigger word, and Ruth Winton had shot him twice. She must be using specialised bolts for they had both penetrated the protective vest he was wearing as if they were made of paper. Luckily, there didn’t seem to be much bleeding, but it hurt like hell.
The other pain in his chest, the one that had chosen this particular day to reappear seemed to be ebbing, leaving him breathless and weaker than he needed to be. He realised he was on his own. Something had gone wrong; the back up he was relying on wouldn’t appear to save the day. He wondered what if anything he could do about it.
Hardly in a position to contemplate doing anything, he thought, smiling on the inside.
He opened his eyes a little, just enough to see where Ruth Winton was and found her standing a few feet away from him. The crossbow was lying on the floor, and she was staring at him, but she didn’t look angry. If anything, she looked sad. So when she started to walk towards him, he wasn’t worried. She knelt down beside him and held his hand. With the other hand, she touched his face. ‘Are you all right, daddy?’ she said, her voice small and childlike.
Realising something else was going on, he said nothing, not wanting to stir the hornet’s nest. It was imperative that Ruth stay where she was now, but even as he thought it, he could sense her mood begin to change. The grip on his hand became tighter, and he could feel the tension vibrating her body. She stood up and walked away from him, picking up the crossbow as she made her way up the stairs.
Snow struggled to sit up, needing to check his phone. It was switched on, but there was no indication it was working. He stabbed at the buttons, unable to believe the trouble a small malfunctioning machine could cause. How long would his back up team wait? Round about now would be good, people, he thought.
Not convinced that help would arrive anytime soon, he wondered what he could do. He wasn’t even sure if he could do anything, skewered front and back as he was. But if he wanted to survive this, he would have to try. He soon discovered that any movement, no matter how slight, caused the pain radiating from both wounds to intensify. This didn’t make him want to stop or give in, just made him more determined than ever to leave this house on his own two feet.
He edged his way up the wall until he was standing upright. Now what? Could he walk? He looked around for something to use as a weapon and took a step towards the kitchen. A quick look in the drawers revealed they were empty. He had to think of something and quick. She would be coming back down to finish him off at any minute. A thought occurred to him. Could he pull out the bolt in his chest somehow? Was it even possible?
He touched the end of the bolt, only to discover it was smooth and slippery, no obvious means of removal. There were small ridges, but not enough to help him. A pair of bright yellow rubber gloves lay on the draining board. Not something that belonged in his kitchen, but a welcome sight. He grabbed one and wrapped it around the bolt, gritted his teeth and pulled. The pain level sharply increased, but he kept on pulling. It didn’t seem to be working. It was beginning to look as though he would die in his own kitchen after all.
Noise from upstairs made him try harder, and this time he thought he felt movement. His head was screaming with the pain, but this only served to increase his determination. Somewhere behind all the pain, he knew it could be a waste of time anyway; he wasn’t likely to get close enough to use it, not with the crossbow in her hand.
He heard footsteps on the landing. She was coming!
With one last effort, the bolt left his chest with a small squelch, and he looked at it in his hand. No more than eight inches long, so small and yet so deadly. He thought of all the people she had killed, of Jim Harris, his best friend and his anger finally flared. He was experiencing all kinds of pain now, and the wound in his chest was bleeding. He didn’t understand how he was still standing. Maybe that would work, he thought. Would she still fire if he were lying down, maybe dying?
The Broken Life is only 99p during the blog tour, so don’t miss out on picking up your copy today.
About the Author
My name is Jaye Marie, the ‘oily rag’ of the partnership http://jenanita01.com/ and usually, I prefer to stay in the background. Since we decided to publish our books ourselves, most of my other interests have had to take a back seat, and as I am not half as clever as I want to be, they may well have to leave the country for a while. Well, some of them can but not all. I am an avid Bonsai fan and have a collection that demands my attention in the growing season, or they will die. (It is a bit like having children) I love books and have read my way through stacks of them, so when my sister needed someone to edit and type up her manuscripts, I was happy to help. Somewhere along the way, I discovered my vocation and my love-hate relationship with the world of computers. But I did learn how to edit and proofread, taking over the job of getting Anita’s books ready for publication. I even had some wonderful compliments from one of the best literary agents in London for my editing of Anita’s first book, Bad Moon, and for the last twenty years since my retirement, that‘s what my life has been like.
Then everyone started talking about ‘Indie’ or self-publishing. I already knew how hard it was to be published in the traditional way, so became very excited at the prospect of being able to do it ourselves. I started our own website and found that I enjoyed talking to people from all over the world and posting our thoughts online. Then I concentrated on publishing Anita’s books. It wasn’t quite as easy as they made it sound, but with my usual stubbornness, I kept at it, learning more and more as I went along.
Somewhere along the way, I started thinking about a story that had been nibbling away in the corner of my mind for months, and before too long, it demanded to be written and then there were two writers in the family!
Universal Amazon Link for The Broken Life: myBook.to/BrokenLife
Amazon Author Page: Author.to/JayeLink
I am reviewing IREX by Carl Rackman for Rosie’s book review team. I received a copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.
In the harsh winter of December 1889, the sailing vessel Irex leaves Scotland bound for Rio de Janeiro. She carries three thousand tons of pig iron and just three passengers for what should be a routine voyage. But Captain Will Hutton discovers that one of his passengers hides a horrifying secret. As his conflicting feelings toward his passengers threaten both his authority and even his sanity, he realises he must fight to save his ship.
When the Irex is wrecked off the Isle of Wight six weeks later, it falls to the county coroner, Frederick Blake, to begin to unravel the events that overtook the doomed ship — but he soon finds that powerful forces within the British Establishment are working to thwart him. Locked in a race against time and the sinister agents sent to impede him, he gradually discovers that nothing aboard the Irex is what it first seemed…
Irex is an atmospheric mystery, set in a rich Victorian world, packed with intrigue, twists and colourful characters — the spellbinding first novel by Carl Rackman.
What a book!
I liked the writing instantly and was intrigued by the whole premise of the story. It did start a little slow and there was a lot of description throughout the book, but it was fascinating being transported back in time to the Victorian era on the Isle of Wight and aboard the Irex as it attempted to sail to Rio.
There were twists I wasn’t expecting that dragged me deeper into the story and the book was written in a way that compelled you to read on. It switched in time to before the shipwreck with Captain Hutton on the Irex, and afterwards at the inquest to find out what happened to the ship and its occupants.
I love a mystery and this book sets the reader up with plenty of intrigue. It’s very cleverly written, with lots of atmospheric description and great characters. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but the two main contenders are Captain Hutton, and the coroner Mr Blake. All the characters are well drawn and believable and I am sad to have finished reading about them.
I highly recommend IREX to those who enjoy historical fiction with plenty of murder and mystery thrown in. And if, like me, you don’t normally read this kind of book, I think you will come to realise what you’ve been missing out on!
My rating 4.5 stars – happily rounding up to 5 stars for Amazon / Goodreads.
On a personal note – This will be my last review for Rosie’s Book Review Team. I’ve enjoyed the experience immensely and have discovered some wonderful new authors, as well as connecting with many friendly and helpful bloggers along the way. For the next few months I’m dedicating myself to my own writing, but I’ll still try to share reviews of exceptional books I come across.
Now I urge you to go out and buy a copy of IREX, it really is a great read!
I jumped at the chance of watching The Girl on the Train on my way to New York last week. Not only did I enjoy the audiobook of it last year (see my review here) but I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get excited about my arrival in NYC.
Initially I was surprised to hear they were changing the location from London to New York, but in the end I don’t think the setting played much part in the film – it could have been set anywhere. This turned out to be a disappointment during my flight to NYC, but the film was entertaining enough to take my mind off all the turbulence we experienced.
As far as I can remember, the script stuck mostly to the book. The scenes jumped around quite a lot, as they do in the book, but for some reason it’s easier to follow in the book. Even for someone who knows the story, I did find myself getting confused a couple of times. I think this maybe because some of the story threads were not fully shown in the film, which is understandable in an adaptation.
I think Emily Blunt is a talented actress and she played a drunken Rachel Watson very well. All the acting in the film was good, although I don’t recall the detective in the book being as annoying as the one in the film.
The worse thing for me were the sex scenes. Although not explicit, it was terribly embarrassing to watch whilst sitting next to a complete stranger on the plane. Mind you, he was watching the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which also has plenty of sex scenes to blush over.
As far as entertainment goes, I enjoyed this film a lot and I recommend to those who love a mystery thriller.
I rate it 3.5 stars – the audio book got 4 stars.
Have you read the book, or listened to the audiobook? What do you think is best, book or film?
If anyone is interested, here’s my pictures of a snowy Central Park last week. I also hope to post some more pictures of my weekend in NYC tomorrow.
I’m reviewing Self Serve Murder by D E Haggerty as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team.
Book 3 in the Death by Cupcake series. Can be read as a standalone.
Kristie is kind with a capital K, so it’s quite the surprise when she wakes up next to a dead man with no recollection of the previous night. Even worse? She’s naked. Kristie may be a sweetheart out to save the world, but sticking her nose into an investigation of rapes across campus makes her the target of a murderer. Before she knows it, Kristie is smack dab in the middle of a murder investigation with her colleagues Callie and Anna. If that’s not enough to drive a sane person up the wall, a friend has decided he’s going to keep her safe whether she wants him to or not. And, oh yeah, he’s her man and that’s that.
Come join us at Callie’s Cakes, where murder investigations are on the menu. You are most welcome, but you may need to serve yourself as our barista Kristie is busy trying to save the world.
Warning: Although there are plenty of moments that will make you shake your head and laugh at the antics of the ladies of Callie’s Cakes, the subject matter – rape on college campuses – is very real and somewhat darker than your usual cozy mystery.
First of all I love the colour of the cover! I like the design as well.
I had no idea what to expect with this book as I’ve never read a cosy mystery before (watched plenty of TV shows though). It was clear from the start that this was not a serious mystery book, and once this is established it’s easy to sit back and enjoy the escape from reality.
I hadn’t read the previous two books in the series, but wasn’t worried as it stated this could be read as a standalone. The crime itself was resolved in this book, but because the characters are so settled in their world and relationships well established, I found myself wishing I had read the previous books first.
The constant reference to coffee was clever and inventive, but at times when the situations were more serious I found it distracting.
I thought I’d guessed the culprit early on, but a few red herrings along the way had me second guessing myself.
My only hang-up with this novel was the way the men treated ‘their’ women. The men were very bossy and macho all the time. I also found the way Kristie’s love interest literally forced his way into her life while she did little to stop it, very unrealistic.
Apart from that it was a fun, easy read and should appeal to people who enjoy cosy mysteries like Agatha Raisin, Murder She Wrote and Rosemary and Thyme (opinion based on tv viewing).
Note – I reviewed an ebook copy supplied by the author in exchange for an honest review.
I rate this book 3.5 stars (for the purposes of Amazon and goodreads I prefer to round it up to 4 stars).
Check it out on Goodreads
Catherine Ryan Howard
Did she leave, or was she taken?
The day Adam Dunne’s girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads ‘I’m sorry – S’ sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her.
Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate – and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before. To get the answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground…
From the very first line, I was drawn in. It was a breath-taking start, literally. I felt myself struggling to breathe as I read it.
The book had the unconventional style of having no chapter numbers. Each section/ chapter was from a particular viewpoint character’s perspective and either from their past or present. There was never any confusion of where I was in the story, and this style made for a page-turning thriller.
It’s hard to find faults with this book. Some of the scenes were quite an uncomfortable read, I sort of knew where they were going but was dreading the outcome. That is in no way a criticism, but a compliment to the writer’s skill.
I read this book in a matter of days, unable to think of anything else. There were shocks and twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting. I loved how the breath-taking beginning formed part of the climactic scenes towards the end. This book has everything I want from a thriller, and more.
It is a definite candidate for that book hangover feeling. I haven’t managed to pick up another fiction book since finishing it.
I recommend to thriller lovers and those who love a mystery to unravel.
A very worthy 5 stars.
I’ve been wanting to read Distress Signals ever since Catherine agreed to do a guest post on my blog during the book’s release. Check out her post here on why she chose traditional publishing over self-publishing.
Distress Signals has been shortlisted for Crime Novel of the Year in the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards! Vote for your favourite reads of 2016 here.
It’s currently only 98p on Amazon UK. Well worth reading.
The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza
Crime Thriller – Book One of Detective Erica Foster.
396 (page-turning) pages
I ordered this during its pre-order period. The combination of great cover art, cool title, discount price and great reviews made me think, let’s take a chance.
It was a very fast paced and exciting read, the kind of book you just can’t put down. I enjoyed the story and meeting Erica Foster who is a troubled, but engaging lead character. I liked how her backstory was slowly revealed throughout the story, it really helped the reader understand why she was such a mess and sunk herself so heavily into her work. Getting justice became her sole priority, even at the risk of her own safety. I was rooting for her to succeed the whole way through.
The serial killer element to the story also kept me reading, and there were plenty of red herrings to leave me guessing at the killer’s identity.
The Girl in the Ice is current #1 in the UK kindle mystery chart and has 484 reviews (346 of them are 5 star). I rate it 4 out of 5 stars – there were just a couple of tiny details that made me wonder on its believability, otherwise it would have been a 5. I still highly recommend this gripping read and can’t wait for the next instalment.