#BlogTour #Review: The Bad Place by M. K. Hill @markhillwriter @HoZ_Books #CrimeFiction

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Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Bad Place by M. K. Hill. This gripping psychological thriller come police procedural is just the right amount of dark and twisty and a whole lot of action-packed. It balances character with plot, fear with action, and while you get completely wrapped up in the investigation there is enough left to the imagination that you can jitter yourself right out of your skin. If you’re looking for a thrilling read that is perfect for lead up to halloween (or any time you like a little twisted in your life) then read it, you won’t be disappointed!


Book coverTitle: The Bad Place

Author: M. K. Hill

Publisher: Head of Zeus

Publication Date: September 5, 2019

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime, Police Procedural

Themes: Murder, Serial Killers, Kidnapping, Trauma, Family Dynamics

Features: N/A


My Rating: 4.5/ 5


Synopsis

The newspapers called it The Bad Place. A remote farm out on the Thames estuary, where six children were held captive for two weeks. Five of them got out alive.

That was twenty years ago. Now adults, they meet upannually to hold a candlelit vigil for their friend who died. The only rule is that no-one can talk about what happened the night they escaped. But at this year’s event, one of them witnesses a kidnapping. A young girl, Sammi, is bundled into a van in front of their eyes. Is history repeating itself?

Is one of them responsible? Or is someone sending them a twisted message?

DI Sasha Dawson, of Essex Police, is certain that the key to finding Sammi lies in finding out the truth about The Bad Place. But she also knows that with every second she spends trying to unlock the past, the clock ticks down for the missing girl…

Buy links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2GYIgBh

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2H24dzE

iBooks: https://apple.co/2Z0BaTh

Google Play: https://bit.ly/2yUXJhq


My Review

There is something particularly joyful that comes with diving into the first book in a promising new series. And The Bad Place is off to a particularly cracking start! We have a long closed case with a trailing public memory and appears to be repeating itself, a tenacious DI with some tumultuous family issues, and a broad cast of supporting characters that drag you into the deep and refuse to let you go.

Told is both dual timeline and dual perspective between DI Sasha Dawson and survivor Karin McCarthy, you’re constantly drawn between fact and speculation, past and present, character and action. The pacing of this book is break-neck and so incredibly spot on, there is never a dull moment even when exploring Sasha’s family. The investigative team too has a fun dynamic with individual and unique characters. It’s clear that there are so many ways in which this narrative can grow and I can’t wait to see what comes next. The kidnappings too keep those pages turning. The case is full of unexpected twists, intriguing histories, and is complicated by the grip of trauma and the fallacy of memory.

As each new kidnapping takes place it becomes clear that everyone is holding on to secrets, and that those secrets have incredible costs. Whether it’s the five survivors of the original kidnapping, their families, or the original investigating officers there’s so much more to this case than originally meets the eye – which constantly leaves you guessing and you all know how much I love that! I loved how the Sammi arc played out as her presence in the story added yet another layer to the drama, and really heightened the mass dysfunction that surrounded the survivors.

I absolutely adored how Karin’s story was told in dual timeline, with flashbacks to her time at the Bad Place interspersed throughout the present day. Her raw experience in the cellar, the psychological manipulations of both her captor and the other kids in the cellar, and the aftermath of her role in the kids survival created a story that could have stood on it’s own. I ended up completely enraptured by her story for all of it’s good, bad, and ugly. She’s hard to love and hard to hate, but you simply can’t tear your eyes away from her story.

Sasha on the other hand is easy to get behind! She has an infectious passion that draws you in from the get go. Everything from her team management to her hatred of shoes and the love she holds for her family reads as relatable and genuine. And as much as Karin carried the crime story, Sasha’s family carried the weight of the personal narrative.  I had nothing but sympathy as she tried to navigate the issues with her husband and the needs of her two teenaged children. And even more sympathy when her mother decided to move in after ending 50 years of marriage – cue the drama! Sure, we spend a lot of time with Sasha’s family, more than on her investigation of the case, but this wasn’t a bad thing. As the first book in the series I took this as some serious ground work and think that there are great things coming down the line.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but if you’re willing to juggle multiple narratives, then I am happy to assure you that they all come together in the end. Hill will keep you entranced from first page to last. the darkest moments are offset by tenderness and humour, and complicated subject matter is balanced by an accessible vocabulary and an approachable writing style.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! It’s thrilling, fast paced, and emotionally dynamic. It’s perfect for a little scare in the lead up to halloween, and even better for those that like to indulge in thrillers year round. I’m excited to see where DI Sasha Dawson and the team head next, as I’m sure it will be nothing short of fabulous.


About The Author

Hill, M.KIt’s nice to see you here, thanks for coming.

I’ve been a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer. I worked for about five minutes in PR. But I write the Drake and Crowley thriller series now, which is just as well, because I love writing. It’s my dream job.

If you enjoyed His First Lie or It Was Her, do get in touch. There are plenty of ways to do it!

Follow Mark:

Facebook: @MarkHillAuthor

Twitter: @markhillwriter

Instagram:@markhillwriter

Follow Aria

Website: http://www.headofzeus.com

Twitter: @HoZ_Books

Facebook: @headofzeus

Instagram: @headofzeus


Many thanks to Victoria Joss at Head of Zeus for inviting me to join in on this tour, and for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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#Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo #YAFiction #YAFantasy @alliechristo

Today I am thrilled to be sharing a 5* review for one of my favourite reads of the summer – To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo. This exceptional retelling of the Little Mermaid came to me as a recommendation after I put out a call for titles on Twitter and all I have to say is damn! All you amazing YA authors, bloggers, and readers really know your stuff!


kingdomTitle: To Kill A Kingdom

Author: Alexandra Christo

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Publication Date: March 6, 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy, YA Fiction

Themes: Family, Revenge, Betrayal, Mermaids

Features: N/A


My Rating: 5/ 5


Synopsis

From Goodreads…

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?


My Review

Oh. My. Giddy. Goodness.

This book is beyond amazing. Like, the kind of good where I finished reading it, took a breath, and went right back to the beginning to start reading it again just to make sure that I didn’t miss anything on my first go around.

I’m huge fan of fairy tale retellings, but Christo took it to a whole new level. To Kill a Kingdom is a creative blend between the fairytale as we know it with our mermaid (siren) being banished to the surface, loosing her voice, and finding true love in her quest to get it back and some of the more traditional siren lore such as the eating of hearts, immunity to the siren song, and dissolving into foam upon death. It pulls in elements of lore from a variety of different times, cultures, and even modern retellings to created a well-rounded representation of these sea-dwelling beauties.

And I loved too how the sea witch was transformed from an elusive entity into Lira mother’s. The element of an evil, power hungry parent really raised the anti and made me feel like I was reading disney on steroids. The added drama of the familial dynamics added a layer of excitement and intrigue that sucked me right in. Of course, we still have our prince, but he’s a rather unwilling one at that. Preferring to spend his time on the open ocean hunting down siren’s and living the pirate life Prince Elian is the perfect foil for Lira. And you know what they say about opposites, they attract, and in this case there are some serious fireworks.

But, oh my god, Lira. Can you say seriously bad-ass? Even with her voice and powers stripped she is a force to be reckoned with. Her grit, determination, and ruthless mind is an absolute pleasure to read. I found myself laughing uncontrollably at her pigheadedness, rooting for her disastrous escape attempts, and determination to learn how to use a sword. She is the kind of vicious and lovely that I would never want to end up on the wrong side of – but seriously, Elian never stood a chance of guarding his heart against her! More than anything though, I loved watching Lira transform from a monster of the deep into a thinking, feeling, (sometimes overly) emotional person who never for got her heritage, came up with some insane plans, and fights for her people with a devotion that can’t be outmatched.

Finally, the quest element was out of this world! Having Lira and Elian’s objectives slowly intertwine into a combined adventure was wonderful to behold. Lira on a quest to kill a prince, Prince Elian on a quest to kill, well, Lira and both of them trying to find an eye from a long dead goddess. This is a recipe for some seriously delicious drama. I can’t say more without spoiling, but it’s amazing. Don’t take my word for it, go read it.

The writing in this book is absolutely everything. It’s engaging right from the opening lines and it pulls you and spits you out like a Siren dragging you beneath the sea. Christo will steal your heart my friends, with all her talk of mermaids, pirates, witty banter, complete characters, and an exceptionally well built world. To Kill a Kingdom is funny, fantastic, and enthralling in all the best ways.

Read it.

Because I’m off to treat myself to round three.


I purchased this book as a direct result of blogger recommendations – all opinions are my own. #bookboggersstillbuybooks

 

#BlogTour #Review: The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young @Adriennebooks #YAFantasy

Today I’m delighted to be sharing my review for The Girl the Sea gave Back by Adrienne Young. This bad boy is the epic sequel to Sky in the Deep and brings back the dynamic universe of clans, warriors, fjords and magic created in the first instalment. Told from the viewpoints of the now-grown Halvard and the mysterious truth tongue Tova, this fast paced adventure will take you on wild ride.


SeaTitle: The Girl the Sea Gave Back

Author: Adrienne Young

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction

Themes: War, Revenge, Coming of Age, Romance

Features: N/A


My Rating: 4/ 5


Synopsis

From Goodreads… 

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.


My Review

Okay, let’s get some housekeeping out of the way right off the bat. While The Girl the Sea Gave Back is a sequel, it is not a retelling of Eelyn and Fiske’s epic love story. And guess what? That’s a good thing! How boring would it be to read the same story over and over again, just with different characters… ugh, yuck. Sure, we know that Halvard and Tova are going to have some chemistry but when you set that inevitability aside there’s actually a who lot of awesome and action to be had.

I really enjoyed how this book was a sequel, in so much as it was set in the same universe with some overlapping characters, but that it’s entirely independent and can easily be read as a standalone novel. Set ten years after the Aska and Riki ended a bitter blood feud in order to defeat the Herja, we’re brought back to the mountain and the fjord as a new battle rages. Only this time the story centres around the sweet and curious Halvard as he makes his way as a leader and a man, and also Tova, a bewitching Truthtongue with no memories of her past and the weight of a people on her shoulders. Together they navigate the treacherous future carved out as the Svell attack the Nadhir and seek to maintain the peace established by Eelyn and Fiske.

Now, I’m not normally a fan of passive/ submissive female characters, but I ended up really enjoying Tova. Yes, she is basically a captive of the Svell, manipulated but their Tala into doing his bidding and used as a tool of war but she offers continual acts of resistance in small ways in which she is capable. She sneaks into meetings from which she is forbidden, tells the truth even when it will anger her captors, and is unbelievably brave in the moments when courage is needed the most. She lies to her chieftain, plucks up the courage to attempt an escape, and when battle looms she takes up her bow. She might battle with her braids and struggle with dresses, but dang that woman is fierce!

Harvard too plays on some pretty strong emotions. He is a child of peace thrown into war, a fisherman’s son pushed into leadership at a young age, and through it all a young man trying to find his way in the world. Although he is a fierce warrior he is also sweet, and soft, and thoughtful in the kind of way that sucks you right in. The fear and apprehension of his pending responsibilities is only natural and entirely relatable. His coming of age showcases his varied experiences from those of his clansmen and demonstrates that there is strength in sensitivity.

I loved that Halvard continued his friendship with Asmund and Bard even after they left to become aider and the rest o the community turned their backs on him. It was touching that Halvard was frightened of being so much power as a leader and that he remained more concerned about doing right by his people than any sort of personal gain. And was absolutely gutted by how he always considered the implication his actions would have on family – if only everyone were so thoughtful! I found him to be a relatable and enjoyable character to read – equal parts awkward and burgeoning man, but what I loved most was how he read as a sweet young man. That’s right, he actually felt like a teen. Okay, okay, a highly trained and particularly deadly teen, but he felt his age and it was glorious!

Perhaps my only complaint is that I wanted more.

I wanted to know more of what happened between the battle with the Herja and the attack from the Svell. I wanted to know how the Aska and Riki navigated the joining of their clans and the quashing of their blood feud. I wanted more than passing glimpses of Eelyn, Fiske, Iri, Runa, Espen and Aghi. And I definitely wanted to know more about the Kyrr! A little extra attention to world building would have gone a long way but I’m greedy and this just wasn’t that kind of story. All I can say is take that desire fore more as a complement as this story sucked me right in, and as much as I enjoy jumping into a 400 page behemoth I completely understand that value of something that appears approachable on the shelf while simultaneously covering all it’s bases as a complete and compelling story.

Young’s writing is dynamic and approachable to a wide variety of audiences. As an adult reader I certainly enjoyed my time with this book, but it’s simple style and quick paced plot is sure to appeal to a younger audience as well. The romance in it is sweeter and more innocent than that of Sky in the Deep, but then again, so are all of the characters. Regardless, get ready to get your heart ripped out, say goodbye to some old favourites, and fall in love all over again. I absolutely adored this book, and hope that there are more to come.


Many thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Return from Hiatus!

Hello lovely readers, I’m back!

Flying in the face of all of my doubts, both the car and the relationship survived the road trip. Word to the wise: If someone says lets drive a classic car 5000 KM, it’ll be fun! And then proceeds to pack a suitcase full of spare parts and tools THIS IS A TRAP.

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Okay, okay.

A fun trap full of adventure and panicked moments spent petting the dashboard of the car whispering ‘it’ll be fine, it’ll be fine” with rising levels of desperation, but a trap none the less. You see, at the outset of said trip I was promised the opportunity to antique my way across Canada and finally get a chance to see all of the things you don’t get a chance to see when making the trip solely as a means of transportation and not some grand adventure. What did I actually get to see? Every Napa and hardware store between Sussex, New Brunswick and Okotoks, Alberta. On the bright side, I now have the formulaic layouts of Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Wal-Mart and Bumper – to – Bumper memorized for future maximum efficiency.

Let me list to you the ‘hiccups’ we experienced along the way:

  • Supplier included the wrong caps for the fuel injection system, had to wait until after the bank holiday to purchase new ones – 3 day delay
  • Discovery of an improper join on the fuel line – 1 day delay (but well worth avoiding assured disaster on this particular safety nightmare)
  • Header gasket leak – 1 day delay
  • Blown breaks… at 2 am, in the dark, on a VERY steep hill (thank goodness for being able to gear down)! – 3 hour delay with some lovely reading by a lake
  • The sad death of a power steering pump – 1 day delay
  • The absolute annihilation of a muffler whilst passing a semi, followed by a 5 hour drive at maximum decibels because this is northern Ontario at 5:30 PM and everyone has rolled up the sidewalks. No delay, but for the next two days all we could say was WHAT? because, you know, the ears were still ringing
  • Only to be followed by the discovery that said muffler was WELDED into position by the previous owner (who wants to use those nice little gaskets for easy replacement anyways?) – 6 hour delay
  • And finally, one over-heated engine thanks to a radiator packed full of those fat, juicy Manitoba bugs at 8:00 PM on the Sunday before I was meant to return to work
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Yes, that is The Ember in the Ashes sitting on the dash…

By day two of this adventure it was pretty clear that things were going all kinds of sideways, so we tossed the original plan of secondary highways, quaint antique shops, and taking nerdy pictures next to the World’s Biggest Nickel and the Birth Place of Winnie the Pooh were tossed out the window (or maybe they were sucked out, the didn’t seal properly which lead to more than a few humours moments of scrambling to get the beach towels in position whilst staying in motion down the highway because more water would leak in if we were stationary).

It wasn’t all disaster though, I managed to convince the fell that we HAD to make a few stops along the way. Granted, I think he was caught really off guard by the fact that I hadn’t yet had a meltdown despite being a week behind schedule without any sightseeing, so he was happy to oblige. We hit up Fundy National Park, the Tobermory ferry crossing on the Chi-Cheeman, Kekabaka Falls, the Worlds Longest Covered Bridge, and few random waterfalls that I saw last minute as roadside attractions along the way.

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Needless to say, there was hardly enough coffee to keep me peppy and functional through this adventure. By the time we got home I needed some time to get over our vacation, hence the extended hiatus, and now I’m finally ready to get back it. Because through all of this I was able to read a lot! Since my useless shaky hands are no use at vehicular repair I got to kick back and dive into my #RedHotYASummer. It was fantastic. I took 11 books with me, and ended up reading 19 thanks to a back country gas station with a book swap outside the ladies room (I don’t think I was every so happy to be broken down).

Not knowing how things were going to shape out with the trip, followed closely by the start of a new academic year at my uni, I have only signed up for a moderate number of blog tours. Thankfully, this will leave lots of room to share the joy from my road trip reading.

And the best part? We’re already talking about taking the Mustang down the California coast next summer.

Carry on my friends, carry on.

 

Summer Half-Hiatus

Alright book nerds,

It’s that time of year where the mister and I run off on some sort of summer adventure, and this year we’re taking on the mammoth task of driving a 1969 Ford Mustang from New Brunswick to Alberta. We’ve spent the last few days in the shop (okay, reality check, He has spent the last few days in the shop whilst I’ve sat in the sun reading) and after a few test drives and some minor tweaks we’re finally ready to hit the road.IMG_2897.JPG

I promise to have oodles of reviews once we’re safely home, including a huge number from those fabulous YA Fantasy recommendations that ya’ll handed out last month. So far I’ve powered my way through The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo, Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth, Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young, The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig, Traitor’s Game by Jennifer A. Nielsen, and am currently reading An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. There’s probably a few more in there… but I’m seriously typing this up sat beside the hoist in a neighbour’s garage as the original brake lines are replaced.

I promise to do my best to do my best to like, share, and comment as per normal but I can’t make any promises as to service as we make the drive. But, and this is a big but, I’m not going completely dead on the social media end of things. While I’m not a big bookstagrammer, travel pics are another story. So if you’re up for a few shameless shots of what could be an adventure that sees up hooking up to a tow truck in the middle of nowhere (and our previous adventures) feel free to give us a follow over at @mapleleafroadtrip

Adios Amigos! This will be my view until we meet again.

-J