Blog Tour, Review

Review: Hellcorp by Jonathan Whitelaw

I am pleased to be taking part in this blog tour courtesy of #LoveBooksGroupTours and thank them and Jonathan for the chance to read this book.

Synopsis

Hellcorp sparkles like a blood­black diamond. Satan’s got his work cut out in this darkly comic crime tale. A cracking read! ­ Mark Leggatt 

Life is hard for The Devil and he desperately wants to take a holiday. Growing weary from playing the cosmic bad guy, he resolves to set up a company that will do his job for him so the sins of the world will tick over while he takes a vacation. God tells him he can have his vacation just as soon as he solves an ancient crime.

But nothing is ever easy and before long he is up to his pitchfork in solving murders, desperate to crack the case so he can finally take the holiday he so badly needs… This is a perfectly ­pitched darkly comic crime novel that is ideal for fans of Christopher Fowler and Ben Aaranovitch.

Book Info:

Publication Day: 5th July 2018
Publisher: Urbane Publications
ISBN: 978-1911583721
Pages: 320
Category: Fiction
Genre: Thriller | Supernatural | Humour

Amazon UKAmazon USFoylesWaterstones

About the Author:

Jonathan Whitelaw is an author, journalist and broadcaster. After working on the frontline of Scottish politics, he moved into journalism. Subjects he has covered have varied from breaking news, the arts, culture and sport to fashion, music and even radioactive waste – with everything in between. He’s also a regular reviewer and talking head on shows for the BBC and STV. ‘HellCorp’ is his second novel following his debut, ‘Morbid Relations’.

WebsiteTwitterFacebook

My Review:

WOW! I am so glad I agreed to take part in this blog tour as I really liked this book!  Never (in my recollection) has a book made me literally laugh out loud by the end of the page, but this one did!  I mean, the Pop farting, drinking and smoking when he’s alone is enough to make most people smile at the very least!

My main issue with this book is that I can’t tell you a huge amount because I really don’t want to ruin things for you but suffice to say that its a cracking story – imaginative but believable … and even the Devil is a likeable character!

I love the interactions between the Devil and God – you can  sometimes forgets that they were brothers before the Devil was sent to Hell and I think that Whitelaw captures this well.

The other characters in the book are written well; the Devil’s secretary is really sassy and doesn’t take any rubbish and I love the fact that Gideon is a Doctor – the mix of science and religion is an ongoing challenge which is again captured well in this book.

I agonised over the rating I want to give this book – I truly save my 5 stars for the books that I ADORE and will read again and again and again .. (think Harry Potter, The Martian and Ready Player One) and whilst this was really very very good, I don’t think it can join the group for me but it is very close so I am going to break my own rules about quarter points and give this a 4.75! I have marked it as 5 stars on GoodReads and Amazon though!

Seriously – Pick up a copy and get ready for the laughs!

SaveSave

Advertisements
Blog Tour, Review

Blog Tour: ‘The Children’s Game’ by Max Karpov

 photo Childrens Game_zps0t19wdlj.jpg

Thriller/Espionage/Spy
Date Published: April 2018
Publisher: Arcade/Skyhorse Publishing
 
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png
A frighteningly plausible, fast-paced thriller about a Russian cyberattack on America, involving fake news and anonymous hackers.
The CIA has learned that the Kremlin is about to launch a sophisticated propaganda operation aimed at discrediting and disrupting the United States and ultimately restoring Russia to great nation status. Intercepted intelligence suggests that the operation will hinge on a single, breaking news event in Eastern Europe, supported by a sustained campaign of disinformation and cyberattacks. Code-named the “Children’s Game”–a chess stratagem that leads to checkmate in four moves–it was probably conceived by a Russian billionaire and former FSB officer named Andrei Turov. For years Turov has been developing the infrastructure for a new kind of warfare that exploits weaknesses in western democracies and manipulates public opinion. His organization offers the Kremlin plausible deniability.
But the United States has its own secret weapon: Christopher Niles, a former CIA intelligence officer, who understands Turov’s ambitions and capabilities. It falls to him and his small team–composed of his journalist half-brother Jon, a special forces operative he would trust with his life, and Anna Carpenter, a resourceful US senator with deep roots in the intelligence community–to unravel Turov’s plot and restore truth to a world spiraling into chaos.
Purchase Links
Advance Praise
“Max Karpov has produced a cleverly conceived thriller that … captures perfectly the mentality of Vladimir Putin’s Russia … And, on top of it, the book is near impossible to put down. A must read.” – Michael Morell, Former Acting Director and Deputy Director, CIA
About The Author

 photo JamesLilliefors_zps7r1vhyjg.jpg

Max Karpov is a journalist and novelist who has written for The Washington Post and elsewhere. Max Karpov is the nom de plume of James Lilliefors, whose past fiction writing includes two critically acclaimed geopolitical thrillers, The Leviathan Effect and Viral, as well as the Bowers and Hunter mystery series.

Contact Links 
My Review

I have to start this review by stating my LOVE for this book. OK, it’s is EXACTLY my kind of thing (give me an American political spy thriller any day of the week) but even so, I was hooked from the moment I started reading!

It has twists and turns and you think you are on the inside and know whats going on .. and then you don’t. It has several different relationship dynamics (lovers/siblings/political/friendships/family/old war connections) and that’s great! The author doesn’t shy away from using acronyms and terminology which I loved and the other part of it is the fact that this could be true!  I mean, it’s not because … well I can’t tell you or I will spoil something but it’s kinda scary to read this and know that a lot of what is said in the book is based on fact.

The characters are well written and even when you are following ‘the baddies’ you feel part of their lives and plans, and in a somewhat sympathetic way. I loved the relationships between all of the characters and finding out more about them as we go, but right from the start you feel like you know them and are invested in their adventure.

I am so grateful for being given the chance to read this book and want to say thank you to RABT, the Publisher and Author for the free copy – I shall most definitely be telling anyone who cares to listen about this book and have even bought 2 of his other books to read now off the back of this!

I give this 4.5 stars!

RABT Book Tours & PR

** DON’T FORGET THAT I AM NOW BASED OVER HERE AT ‘What Emma Read Next‘ **

Blog Tour, Review

Blog Tour: Flames of Florence by Donna Russo Morin

Historical Thriller
Date Published: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Diversion
Books
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png
In her final standalone novel featuring Da Vinci’s Disciples,
Donna Russo Morin delivers a thrilling story of the secret female artists of Florence, under the tutelage of Leonardo Da Vinci, and their heroic, potentially deadly efforts to save great works of art from the infamous Bonfire of the Vanities.
Lorenzo de Medici is dead, and his son Piero has brought war
and famine upon the city of Florence. Yet, the glory that is Renaissance artistry grows more magnificent, as does the work of the women known as Da
Vinci’s Disciples. Now they face their most dangerous challenge, one shrouded in the cloak of a monk.
From the ashes of war, Friar Girolamo Savonarola rises. Some call him a savior and a prophet, a man willing to overthrow tyrannical rulers and corrupt clergy, the Borgia Pope among them. Fra Girolamo is determined to remold Florence from an avaricious, secular culture to a paragon of Christian
virtues.
Many call Savonarola a delusional heretic, incapable of anything but self-serving fanaticism. When he sets out to destroy all secular art forms, Da Vinci’s Disciples call him an enemy … but not all of them.
My Review
This is another book that, to begin with, I didn’t realise was part of a series but again, needn’t have worried as you can certainly read this book as a standalone. I feel like there is not a huge amount that I can say on this one without giving away too much and it’s certainly a book that you don’t want to ruin with spoilers! I have to admit that I did work out roughly what would happen but it doesn’t ruin the book AT ALL as Donna’s writing keeps you turning the pages regardless.
The characters are loveable and rateable in the right measures and places; I would call myself a quiet feminist and have to admit that I was really proud of the women in this story.  I have realised that I love these kinds of books more than I thought and whilst I am most definitely going to read the other books in the ‘standalone series’, I will also seek out others set in the same time period / places to learn even more. I don’t know much of the true history but it feels real (if that makes sense) and I feel like I am learning a lot.
I would definitely recommend this book – I would suggest starting at the beginning of the series but that’s only because of my OCD when it comes to reading series’ and nothing to do with anything else!
About the Author
Donna Russo Morin’s passion for the written word began when
she was a child, took on a feminist edge as she grew through the sixties, and
blossomed into a distinctive style of action-filled historical fiction at a
defining moment in her life. As a second-generation American of full Italian
descent, Donna combined her historical research with her genealogical studies,
finding that her birth name (Russo) and her family roots are traceable to ninth
century Florence…the very city in which the Da Vinci’s Disciples trilogy is
set.
A 25-year professional editor/story consultant, her work spans more than 40 manuscripts.  She holds a BA in Communications and an A.A. in English Literature.  Donna teaches writing courses at her state’s
most prestigious adult learning center, online for Writer’s Digest University, and has presented at national and academic conferences for over ten years.  In addition to her writing, Donna has worked as a model and an actor with appearances in Showtime’s Brotherhood and Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. Currently under contract to a consortium of international producers, Donna has added screenwriting to her professional acumen.
Contact Links
Twitter: @DonnaRussoMorin
Instagram @donnarm.telleroftales
Buy Links

RABT Book Tours & PR

** DON’T FORGET THAT I AM NOW BASED OVER HERE AT ‘What Emma Read Next‘ **

SaveSave

Review

Review: The Cult on Fog Island by Mariette Lindstein

Rating: 4

Date Started: 9th May 2018

Date Finished: 13th May 2018

Where I got it from: NetGalley (via Publishers HQ)

Cost: £0.00 in return for an honest review

Published: NG lists as 17 May 2018 but Amazon lists as 24 Jan 2019.

Blurb: The most deadly trap is the one you don’t see…

Sofia has just finished university and ended a troubled relationship when she attends a lecture about a New Age movement, Via Terra. Its leader is Franz Oswald, young, good-looking, urbane and mesmerizing.

When Franz invites Sofia to visit Fog Island, the organization’s headquarters, Sofia is dazzled by the beautiful mansion overlooking the sea, the well-tended gardens, the peaceful atmosphere and the purposefulness of the people who live there. And she can’t ignore the attraction she feels for Oswald, and clearly he is fascinated by her also. So she decides to stay.

But when summer gives way to winter, and the dense fog from which the island derives its name sets in for months, it becomes clear that Franz rules the island with an iron fist. No phones or computers are allowed. All contact with the mainland is severed. Sofia begins to realize how very alone she is. And it becomes clear that no one leaves Fog Island…

About the Author: Mariette Lindstein was born and raised in Halmstad on the west coast of Sweden. At the age of 20, she joined the Church of Scientology and worked for the next 25 years at all levels of the organisation, including at its International HQ outside Los Angeles.

Mariette left the church in 2004 and is now married to Dan Soon, an author and artist. They live in the forest outside Halmstad with their three dogs. The Cult on Fog Island is her debut novel and was first published in Sweden where it won the Best Crime Debut at the Specsavers CrimeTime Awards.

Mariette now dedicates her life to writing and lecturing to warn others about the dangers of cults and cult mentality.

My Review: I want to point out here that this is the first book in a trilogy and is also translated from the original Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles.  I am not sure when the 2nd and 3rd books are going to be translated and published in English.

The book started a little slow – there were times when I felt that the translation faltered and slightly bought me out of the zone but not to the point that it made me think of putting it down .. because I was gripped from the start. Put the word ‘cult’ int he title of a book, film or TV Show and I’m in!  Not sure why it fascinated me so much but it does and this didn’t disappoint me!

I think one of the things I liked about it so much is that you can see it happening – looking at it from the outside it’s easy to see where things are going wrong and where Oswald is exerting his influence over Sofia and you almost want to shout at the pages “Can’t you see what’s happening here?!” or “Have a mind of your own for goodness sakes” but then that is the whole issue with cults and cult mentality.

There were a couple of occasions where information seemed ‘tagged’ on as if the writer realised, in editing, that she hadn’t introduced a theme, idea or person but again it didn’t really detract from the story or feeling and the final one (that I noticed) I even found myself thinking “we must need to know he was here for a future plot line” .. and we did!

I toyed with my star rating and I erred on the side of lower only because there were some things that poked at me … but in total honesty, I am not sure if it was plot holes / inaccuracies or very clever writing making me totally ensconced in the story.

Either way, I really enjoyed it and I will absolutely most definitely pick up the next in the series – having read the synopsis for it I am very much hoping that it is on it’s way soon!

Book 2: The Cult that Resurrected (Swedish Title)

Book 3: Children of the Cult (Swedish Title)

**I was sent this book by the publisher in return for an honest review and some of the links are affiliate**

2017, Book, Hardback, Review

Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers

 

Rating: 4

Date Started: 15th November 2017

Date Finished: 16th November 2017

Amazon Link (I am NOT an affilliate)

Where I got it from: Library

Cost: £0.00

Blurb: When Mae is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. Run out of a sprawling California campus, the Circle links users’ personal emails, social media, and finances with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of transparency. Mae can’t believe her great fortune to work for them – even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public.

My Review: WOW. I’m not totally sure where to start with this one which I guess is why it has taken me a while to write this review!  I read the book for my Book Club.- it was our first book and recommended by one of our members who warned us it would make us think.  She wasn’t wrong!

It scared me, made me cringe and outraged me .. but all in a ‘good’ way, as in not because the book itself was badly written, quite the opposite in fact. Dave has a way of making you feel like you are sitting on Mae’s shoulder and going through everything with her.  She is a mostly likeable character, until things get really hairy towards the end maybe, but in all honestly, I think it affected me so much as I know that I would have been like her and done what she did throughout most of the book.

I spent a lot of time reading with my jaw on the floor, saying “bloody hell” in my head and reading excerpts out to my family, but the reality is that we are not all that far from what goes on in this book at all.  There are times when this level of scrutiny might be useful but in general it fills me with dread.  I have a horrid general FOMO anyway so I hope I am gone before this level of interactivity comes along!

I decided to watch the Netflix Film adaptation afterwards and was quite shocked at the changes they made – I totally understand that you can’t ever get everything in and that some artistic license has to be taken, but there were a couple of key story points that were reversed, specifically the ending,  It will be interesting to see if the roamed sequel comes along as I am not sure how they would make a film of it work!

Overall I did like the book and as I read it really quickly (it’s that kind of ‘can’t stop reading’ book) I would quite like to go back and re-read it (or perhaps listen to the audiobook) again and see if my opinions change or I notice new things, especially after the discussions at book club.

Audiobook, Book, Review

Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

Rating: 3.5

Date Started: 19 Oct 2017

Date Finished: 28 Oct 2017

Amazon Link (I am NOT an affilliate)

Where I got it from: Audiobooks.com

Cost: FREE (30 Day Free Trial)

Blurb: For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

My Review: I wanted to read this as I had heard so many good things about it and it was likened to “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline which is a favourite of mine. It was like it, but it wasn’t as good in my opinion, albeit it is aimed at a slightly younger reader I think.

The storyline was good – I like that we spent a good amount of time with the MC before the action started (not normally something I like but this time it felt right). The twist was unexpected and not something that I had guessed and then the minor twist at the end when the ‘baddie’ was unmasked was also good, although I had guessed it once the twist was revealed.

The characters were likeable, but not loveable. We really only got to know the 2 MC’s in any depth and it would have been nice to know the others a little more, especially the MC’s team mates in the Warcross Games.

I listened to the Audiobook so wanted to mention that the narrator, Nancy Wu, is good. She reads with a decent pace (although there were a few parts when she could have sped up a bit) and her voice fits the characters well.

(Also posted on GoodReads)

Audiobook, Book, Review

Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

 

Rating: 5

Date Started: 23 Oct 2017

Date Finished: 24 Oct 2017

Amazon Link (I am NOT an affilliate)

Where I got it from: Audible

Cost: 1 Credit (£5.83)

Blurb: Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

My Review: I listened to the Audiobook of this in less than 24hrs so that should tell you how much I LOVED this book! The writing is descriptive and hilarious, the characters easy to fall in love with and the story is great too!

I was gripped right from the off – the whole idea of the grand tour is one that fascinated me and the ‘will they, won’t they’ aspect throughout the book is also well handled.

I love the LGBTQ side to the book and I was rooting for the MC right from the start, and I loved that the main female, Felicity, was made to be such a badass in a time when that was frowned upon.

A special word about the narrator, Christian Coulson too as he is really very very good!!

I will be recommending this book to anyone that will listen and highly recommend they listen to the Audiobook version too!

(Also posted on GoodReads)