#Review: The Berlin Affair by David Boyle #WWIIFitcion #HistoricalFiction

Today I am delighted to share a review for David Boyle’s WWII spy thriller, The Berlin AffairShort and sweet, this is the perfect novel to get lost in for an evening and will leave you dreaming of Hotel Adlon, double agents, shadows in the night.


berlinTitle: The Berlin Affair

AuthorDavid Boyle

Publisher: Endeavour Press

Publication Date: July 6, 2017

Genre: Fiction, Suspense, WWII Fiction, Spy Fiction, Historical Fiction

Themes: WWII, British SOE, WWII Intelligence, Romance, Espionage

Features: N/A


My Rating: 3.5/ 5


Synopsis

From Goodreads…

Summer, 1940.

American Xanthe Schneider finds herself catapulted into the world of British espionage, and is sent into the heart of Nazi Germany: Berlin.

Her task? To find out whether Ralph Lancing-Price – a former government minister she had known briefly in London – is a patriot or traitor.

And what of the code he talked about so abstrusely? Using her guise as an American correspondent, Xanthe sets out to find him. But not all is what it seems. Xanthe soon becomes drawn into a web of intrigue involving a project entitled “Enigma” – and she also unexpectedly falls in love.

As the weeks go by, and Germany begins to mobilise its armies, Xanthe has to question who she can trust – and how she can survive?

The Berlin Affair is a page-turning thriller, full of historical insight and dramatic reversals of fortune.

A must read for fans of Robert Harris, David Downing and Alan Furst.


My Review

Because I like to get the uglies out of the way, I’m going to jump out of the gate in saying that my only complaint with The Berlin Affair was that it was too short! There were so many amazing moments and key elements – like Xanthe’s exit from Germany – that could have been given a little more time, which would have taken this novel up to the next level. But in saying that, with the way my life has shaken out over the past few weeks, I really enjoyed picking up a book that I could complete in a single sitting and put down feeling like the story was complete.

And just because this novel is short, does not mean that it is any way lacking in realism and research. Jam packed with historical facts and figures,  it ticked all of my requisite boxes for authenticity and believability. I enjoyed the elements of the SOE, of the quest to break the Enigma code, and the inclusion of real persons throughout the narrative. Add in a touch of fashion, the realities of rationing, and the continually growing sense of oppression and fear and you’ve got a winning combination.

Xanthe’s affair was a little tough to understand in the beginning, but as time went on and the realities of war set in I had two realizations: 1) you can’t always help who you fall for and 2) with the pool of eligible men dwindling in the trenches, age gaps and odd matches were more the norm than otherwise. And once I wrapped my head around it, I could see it. A young, idealistic woman falls for a passionate and charismatic older man. I do believe that this is one of the foundational plots of romance, regardless of where the story is set! Sure, Ralph is a little off base, but his quirkiness and off-hand comments is a large part of what heightens the suspense and drives the plot along.

It was fun reading those sections where Xanthe was arranging her dead drops and meet ups, especially since I found my hands a little shaky in those moments. I can only imagine the fear the operatives of the SOE would have felt and the anxiety that they must have endured on a daily basis. I genuinely appreciated (and was equally revolted by) the realities that many women faced at the hands of soldiers and officers, with their unwanted advances and obvious reprisals if they didn’t cooperate.

Would I recommend this book? Sure thing! Although it does read closer to a novella than a full blown novel. It’s punchy, fast paced, and undeniably engaging. Given the subtitle I am hopeful that there will be a few more books in the Enigma Thriller series, and these subsequent instalments will a little longer and more fully flushed out.


Many thanks to David Boyle, Endeavour Press, and NetGalley for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

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#Review: No Safe Place by Patricia Gibney #CrimeFiction #Thriller

Today I am delighted to share with you my glowing review for Patricia Gibney’s latest instalment in the D. I. Lottie Parker series, No Safe Place. This thrilling investigative mystery balances generous proportions of palpitation inducing murder with equal parts personal drama to a stellar effect. Hug your pillows thrill seekers, this one had me jumping at outside noises and seriously considering sleeping with lights on.


gibneyTitle: No Safe Place

AuthorPatricia Gibney

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: March 22, 2018

Genre: 

Themes:

Features: N/A


My Rating: 4.5/ 5


Synopsis

From Goodreads…

There’s nothing more dangerous than a familiar face…

As funeral mourners stand in silence at Ragmullin cemetery, a deafening cry cuts through the air. Lying crumpled at the bottom of an open grave is the bloodied body of a young woman, and Detective Lottie Parker is called in to investigate.

Knowing the body can’t have been there long, Lottie wonders if it could be Elizabeth Bryne, a young woman who vanished without trace just days earlier. And with a new boss who seems to have it in for her, Lottie is under pressure to solve both cases quickly.

As two more women go missing from Ragmullin, Lottie and her team fear there is a serial killer on the loose. And the disappearances are strikingly similar to a cold case from ten years earlier. Could history be repeating itself?

As journalists begin to interfere with Lottie’s investigation, she fears the killer is about to strike again. Lottie is in a race against time to find the missing women, but the killer is closer than she thinks. Could Lottie be his next target?

If you love Angela Marsons, Robert Bryndza and Rachel Abbott, you’ll love the latest pulse-pounding thriller from Patricia Gibney. No Safe Place will keep you guessing until the very last page.


My Review

I was little nervous requesting No Safe Place on NetGalley as I hadn’t read the previous three books in the series, but kept hearing such great things about it I couldn’t help but cave in to peer pressure and add this sucker to my TBR. And let me tell you, as a Lottie Parker newbie I had no difficulty being thrown into the deep end of some dark and twisty crime, while simultaneously being guided gently through the hot mess that comprises the tatters of Lottie’s personal life. I can say with confidence for those considering getting in on this series, but are hesitant to go back and read the previous instalments (which I will be doing in the coming weeks), you can start right here and feel like you haven’t missed a beat.

I think the only, and I mean ONLY, reason why this ended up at a 4.5 instead of 5 in books is because I felt that there was too little variance in Lottie’s moods. She was angry, annoyed and spitting fire almost all of the time – and if this is how she presents across all of the novels I can see how she might get tired and fast. Don’t get me wrong, handling a stressful and complicated family life while working as a homicide detective is no bed of roses, but I was left wanting a touch more than doom, gloom, hellfire and pills. But, and hear me out here, I am willing to acknowledge my bias in not have read the previous books and the fact that they almost certainly inform on Lottie’s sustained levels of intensity and subsequent need for Valium.

At the same time though, that constant intensity and paranoia does wonders for establishing the mood and pacing of the book. It just kept gaining in speed and power until I found myself caught in a vortex where people’s homes were being torched, the past was being relived, and young women were inexplicably going missing. Now add in the fact that Lottie’s character is tempered by the variety of personalities found on her team – Boyd, Lynch, and Kirby – and the dynamic is absolutely golden.

It was comforting to have have Lottie’s family in the mix as well, as they were a needed balance for a mother who was starting to spin out of control. The maternal moments provided a touch of tonic in Lottie’s crazy little world, and it welcome and refreshing when the kids were unafraid to call Lottie out on her crap. I really enjoyed watching the plot lines develop around Katie and New York, as well as Sean and his growing closeness to Boyd. I can see that there is lots of material to explored along both avenues in the future, and I cannot wait to see where these stories go.

I also really loved Grace’s role in the story. Sure, she’s awkward and makes more than just the people she encounters on the train uncomfortable but she’s also sweet, innocent, and utterly endearing. I appreciated her persistence that Molly was missing, even when it was clear that no-one believed her, and loved how Grace and Guarda Gilly’s stories eventually came together and collided with Lotties case to make for one of the best climaxes I read in a while.

Dark and twisty in all the right places, this is one that will surely keep you guessing! Exquisitely written and paced to keep you on the edge of your seat, Gibney has left just enough loose ends to keep you itching for book number 5. I mean seriously?! What about McMahon, I NEED to know how that little revenge arc ends. And New York? Talk about a walloping cliff hanger right when you’re craving some closure.

Angst and impulse control issues aside, Lottie Parker is the kind of D. I. might love to hate, but you’ll almost certainly love to read. I can’t recommend this book highly enough and I only wish that I’d discovered this series at it’s inception. Crime lovers and thrill seekers, I suggest you get your copies ASAP as this beauty ranks up there as one of my favourite summer reads.


Many thanks to Patricia Gibney, Bookouture, and NetGalley for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

#BlogTour #Review: Splinter by Joshua Winning @SentinelTrilogy @JoshWinning #YALit #Fantasy

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Today I am delighted to take part in the blog tour for the final instalment of Josh Winning’s YA Sentinel Trilogy, Splinter. Truth be told I wasn’t sure where this series would go after the dramatic conclusion of Ruins, but I knew that the ending was going to be big, and that it simply couldn’t be anything other than epic. Not only were my expectations met, but they were categorically crushed in the best way possible. Full of twists and turns, stark realism and fantastical imagination, with a touch or heartbreak and undercurrents of hope, this baby will leave you craving more.


Synopsis

hHnO1d4g.png‘All who stand against us shall perish’

The critically acclaimed Sentinel Trilogy comes to a thrilling conclusion in this final instalment of the dark fantasy series.

The world is falling apart around Nicholas Hallow. Amid rumours that the Dark Prophets have returned, a deathly gloom pollutes England, unleashing a savage hoard of nightmare creatures. Fighting the tide of evil, Nicholas returns home to Cambridge, where an old ally helps him seek out the mysterious Skurkwife, who could help Nicholas stop Malika and the Prophets for good.

Meanwhile, Sam Wilkins unites the Sentinels against the forces of darkness, but with Jessica’s sanity slipping, and Isabel suspicious of her shadowy past, it’s a battle that could cost the Sentinels everything.

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Sentinel  and  Ruins,  the  first  two  books  in  The  Sentinel  Trilogy,  are  currently  just 99p  on  Kindle   https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/bookseries/B00YSRBVYU/

Splinter  is  out  now  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Splinter-Book-Three-Sentinel-Trilogy/dp/1911382853/


My Rating: 5/ 5


Review 

There’s nothing like the apocalypse to bring about an action packed story of survival in the face of harrowing odds. And even though Nicholas Hallow has been fighting the same world-ending enemy for three books now, Splinter manages to stay fresh and exciting in a way that will leave you wanting more. Every question and loose end from the previous two instalments are given closure, characters with gaps become painfully whole, and the mystery of Nicholas Hallow’s incredible birth is finally unveiled. Helped along by old friends like Sam and Isabel, and new allies such as Rae, Dawn and Merlyn, it is impossible not to root for Nicholas as he embarks on the final leg of this seemingly impossible quest.

The best part is that despite being told from multiple perspectives and covering a vast array of storylines, Winning succeeds in sticking to a shorter and less intimidating length. I have always loved that this trilogy is visually ‘do-able’ when seen on the shelf by all levels of YA readers, so it’s wonderful that the finale is in the same approachable size. The vocabulary too, remains accessible without being overly simple, marking this as a book that can be enjoyed by YA readers and adults alike. The writing is emotive and imaginative with just enough colour to paint a picture of events, but not so much description as to bore you to death. I loved the vocabularies associated with each character, their moods, and personalities – these really helped to give a sense who/ what/ and why a person was a certain way, but left enough to the imagination to be surprised by events along the way.

Perhaps my favourite story arc was that of Jessica and Isabel. Two guardians of the Trinity tied together by a horrible history, both faced with impossible choices and holding immeasurable power. I was touched by how much Isabel cared for Jessica despite it all, and even more so by the choices that Jessica had to make in the moments and centuries that followed. I definitely wasn’t expecting Jessica’s connection to the Malika storyline, but once it was out in the open everything just seemed to fall into place.   It really drove home the concept that sometimes choice is an illusion, and that sacrifices really do have to be made for the common good despite immeasurable personal loss.

I also adored the growing camaraderie and tensions between Nicholas, Rae, and Dawn. It was fun to be a fly on the wall to witness their group dynamics with the added bonus of being presented candid and private private moments that informed upon motives and demonstrated growth. More so than in Ruins, I began to get a sense for these characters as individuals beyond their circumstances, and I loved the sarcasm and wit that permeated their personalities. It was fun to watch Dawn come out of her shell, Rae let down her guard, and Nicholas to give a little of the control and self importance that comes with being the chosen one. Oh, and on that note, I was totally not expecting that ending! With our trio of happy heroes so closely mirroring the composition of the Trinity, I was definitely expecting some sort of happy transformation that saved the day – you won’t get any spoilers from me here, but I can assure you right now that this not going to turn out how you think!

The touches of romance were sweet throughout, and much needed given the gravity of situations being faced. And once again my radar was way off course when it came to Nicholas thinking that he might have a bit of spark for Dawn (wrong again!), but was pleasantly surprised with the character that captures his heart. I appreciated the LGBTQ aspects, especially since they were presented in such a normal, healthy, unassuming way. Too often diverse reads go out of their way to be special, but Splinter is outstanding thanks to it’s understated and honest representations of emotional attachments and first loves.

In this stunning conclusion to the Sentinel Trilogy Winning pulls together the disparate threads of carefully crafted tale and intrigue laid out in Sentinel and Ruins and presents the perfect ending to an action packed saga. Even though Nicholas, Rae and Dawn are fighting demons around every corner there’s still plenty of time for character development and emotional growth. You can’t help but finding a few plucky sentinels and satellite characters to latch on to as their background come to the forefront, but in true Sentinel style – don’t get too attached to your favourite characters! This is the apocalypse after all, and you never know what’s lurking around the corner.

Would I recommend this book? Hell, I’d happily position myself as an ardent advocate for the whole dang series! Splinter is timely, irreverent, and down right entertaining – as are Sentinel and Ruins. This is the kind of book that can be appreciated by causal readers, fantasy addicts, and lovers of YA alike. Buy it, borrow it, find some way to get your hands on it, because this is one summer read that was definitely worth the wait!


Author Information

tmD8l7QAJoshua Winning is an author and film journalist who writes for TOTAL FILM, SFX, GAY TIMES and RADIO TIMES. He has been on set with Kermit the Frog, devoured breakfast with zombies on The Walking Dead, and sat on the Iron Throne while visiting the Game Of Thrones set in Dublin. Jeff Goldblum once told him he looks a bit like Paul Bettany.

In 2018, Joshua’s YA thriller VICIOUS RUMER was published by Unbound. His dark fantasy series THE SENTINEL TRILOGY was published by Peridot Press, and he also co-wrote ’80s teen horror CAMP CARNAGE. In 2015, Joshua’s short story DEAD AIR appeared in SPEAK MY LANGUAGE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF GAY FICTION.


Many thanks to Josh Winning for leading me down the rabbit hole with this trilogy, and for providing copies of all three books in exchange for honest reviews.

#Review: Hiding by Jenny Morton Potts @jmortonpotts #Thriller

Today I’m delighted to present  review for Jenny Morton Pott’s fabulous novel, Hiding. Dark and twisty in all the right ways, this one will have you guessing the whole way through. Mystery lovers, this one should be right up your alley!


hidingTitle: Hiding

AuthorJenny Morton Potts

Publisher: Cahoots Publishing

Publication Date: February 1, 2018

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Mystery

Themes: Family, Revenge, Deceit, Crime

Features: N/A


My Rating: 4/ 5


Synopsis

From Goodreads…

A gripping psychological thriller with chilling twists, from a unique new voice.

Keller Baye and Rebecca Brown live on different sides of the Atlantic. Until she falls in love with him, Rebecca knows nothing of Keller. But he’s known about her for a very long time, and now he wants to destroy her.

This is the story of two families. One living under the threat of execution in North Carolina. The other caught up in a dark mystery in the Scottish Highlands. The families’ paths are destined to cross. But why? And can anything save them when that happens?


My Review

First of all, I have to give a huge shout out to Jenny Morton Potts for her endless patience when it came to my extended turn around for this review. Hiding, unfortunately, languished on my TBR for months as life got in the way (finally firming up an offer on property, listing our current home, the stress of showing, and then the sellers accepting a backup offer). But, when I finally got around to picking this one up, boy was I mad… It was ruddy amazing and I couldn’t put it down! While it wasn’t the psychological crime thriller that I was expecting, Hiding had me on the edge of my seat and the pages turning in rapid fire the entire way through.

Set in the not-too-distant future, the timing of this novel is just far enough away to allow for the willing suspension of disbelief, yet close enough at hand for the practices, people and protocols to remain realistic and believable. I must admit though, that when I first started reading Hiding I questioned whether or not the state of capital execution and international travel was really plausible. But then as the days and news progressed, and Trump was Trump and Brexit was Brexit, all of a sudden the possibility of these scenarios became incredibly realistic.

I loved the backstory of the robbery, and how the loyalty of that robbery crew extended across generations and throughout entire families. I couldn’t help but think that it was unfair to be punishing the sons for the crimes of the father, but in true Shakespearean style this is exactly the theme that pervaded every aspect of this novel. And so too did the elements of deception, retribution, and even a little self deprecation. I appreciated the dark humour, the use of popular themes and tropes, as well as their tactful manipulations.

And Becky’s family story too! I was not expecting everything to unravel the way that it did, but I love it when things come at you out of the blue. I could choke her brother for being so cruel, and gran for being so conceited and selfish. The only one I really connected with was Becky’s grandfather before he died. And with her imagination I was expecting her to become an actor or writer or something of that ilk – especially since some of her earlier tendencies had been so dark – so the choice of comic completely surprised me.

Keller Baye through me for a loop as well. I mean, vengeance can be a terrible thing especially when you allow it to consume and control every aspect of your life. Now apply those levels of vengeance to a budding serial killer, and you have the perfect recipe for a transcontinental game of cat and mouse. I found his character to be entirely polarizing and repulsive, and yet I couldn’t stop reading his parts. He was like a train wreck at top speed – you know it’s going to big and bad and messy and it didn’t disappoint.

I wish I could say more, because Hiding was so engaging and well written, but then I run the risk of spoilers. But seriously though, I would recommend this baby in a heart beat! Just be prepared to be a little uncomfortable and willing to look a things from every possible angle. Oh, and get your puzzling hats on and those eyes open for details!


Many thanks to Jenny Morton Potts for proving a copy in exchange for an honest review, and especially for her patience with my delays in reading and reviewing her wonderful book.