crime fiction · REVIEW TIME

Tell Nobody by Patricia Gibney

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I discovered this book, quite by chance, when another Bookouture author favourite of mine, Shalini Boland, mentioned it on her Facebook. I ended up downloading it and I’m so glad for that recommendation, because I loved this book from start to finish.

The boy’s body was so white it was almost transparent. But that’s not what caused the nausea to rise up her throat. He was so young. His body was unmarked, surrounded by a halo of plucked wildflowers.

One hot summer evening, eleven-year-old Mikey Driscoll is on the way home from playing with friends. Two days later, his body is discovered on a bed of wildflowers by some local teenagers.

The case is assigned to Detective Lottie Parker and this time it’s personal. The victim was a close friend of her son, Sean, from the run-down Munbally estate on the other side of town. Sean tells his mother Mikey was behaving normally before he died, but Lottie can’t help but feel that her son is keeping something from her…

Then days later, another boy is found dead, surrounded by wild flowers next to beautiful Ladystown Lake.

On the hunt for a twisted individual with a terrifying calling card, Lottie must uncover the web of secrets within Mikey’s circle of friends. Someone is hiding something but who are they protecting and can Lottie find out before it’s too late? Lottie is desperate to catch the killer before he strikes again because this time her own child could be in terrible danger…

I discovered soon after starting that I was reading book 5 of a series, but fear not! You can dive straight into any Lottie Parker book and not be instantly confused that you’ve missed something vital. There’s a few hints at backstory which are clearly in the previous books, but you miss out on nothing by starting later on in the series as I did.

The story quickly grips the reader as the prologue starts with a girl/woman (we’re not sure which at this point) who is staggering through the streets, in pain, possibly injured, and who ends up shunning the opportunity to seek help near the local football clubhouse and instead, stumbles down the tunnel next to the canal. I mean, nothing good can EVER come from walking alone near the canal, right??

The next, we are watching the aftermath of a children’s football match where one of the goal-scorers leaves the post-match party to walk home, only to accept a lift from someone he clearly knows, but who we, the reader, know must have sinister intentions after the journey takes a different route to the one the boy was expecting. Again, accepting a surprise lift always ends in disaster… the tension levels were through the roof already!

What follows is a complex but well-crafted plot of missing children, a missing baby, a confession of murder, and way too many locals who have connections to all the sinister goings-ons. In all honesty, at times, I had no idea how Detective Lottie Parker didn’t wring the necks of all those who obstructed her in her investigation. I wanted to reach into the screen and slap people within an inch of their lives as the wall of silence in the community and families went up. Everyone seemed to have a secret. Everyone was suspicious as Hell! On top of that, Lottie had to deal with her own son’s connection to the case, her new (but hopefully temporary) life living back with her opinionated mother and the fallout she still continues to deal with following the death of her husband.

I loved Lottie. I mean, I do love a damn good female detective anyway and am always intrigued by an author’s ability to make their female protagonist tough and ballsy in a world where she needs to be tough and ballsy, without making her instantly unlikeable to readers. There’s always a fine art to getting srong female characters right (trust me, I know) and it can always go one of either two ways – the Marmite effect, I like to call it – but Patricia Gibney completely nails it with her main character.

The story was compelling and complex, as I have said, although not in a way that confuses the reader because I was able to follow the plot and the numerous characters all the way through. At first, as the story was laid out, I was trying to work out how everyone could be connected, if at all, and it was fun guessing who were the villians of the piece. I always love a story that keeps you guessing and turns even the most innocent of characters into possible suspects, and Tell Nobody certainly ticked all my wannabe detetctive boxes!

This is a total rollercoaster of a read, that went through so many twists and turns that I couldn’t stop swiping at the screen. I can totally see this as a TV crime drama, it was so gritty and so real, that each character came alive on the page as if I was watching a TV show. As the pace began to pick up, I found myself addicted to every word, desperate to find out the secrets in Ragmullin.

This was a brilliant book that I would thoroughly recommend. Now I just need to go back and read the first four! Patricia Gibney definitely just gained a new fan!

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PSYCH THRILLERS · REVIEW TIME

The Perfect Family by Shalini Boland

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‘Mummy, she’s gone…’

Gemma Ballantine is getting ready for work one morning when her eldest child comes running down the stairs, saying the words every mother dreads.

The front door is open. And her six-year-old daughter has disappeared. Frantic with fear, Gemma starts a nail-biting search for her little girl.

After what feels like forever, her mother-in-law Diane finds Katie wandering lost a few streets away. Relieved to have her youngest child back in her arms, breathing in the sweet scent of her hair, Gemma thinks the nightmare is over.

But then her perfect family starts to fall apart.

And she realises it’s only just beginning…

I always start reading Shalini’s books with a certain amount of apprehension, not because I think I won’t like it, because I know that within just a page or two, she’ll throw us into some horrible nightmare that’ll have me turning every page in anticipation.

The Perfect Family was no exception. I stayed up late to read as much as I could, then made myself late getting ready for work just so I could read another chapter and then I sat in the car outside the office just so I could finish it before I started work.

As always, I spent my whole time trying to work out which character was the villain of the story and was suspicious of practically everyone. Shalini has a knack of keeping the reader glued to every page, with situations that could be so real and I really do think it’s that which keeps you hooked – that sense of believable horror that these things could happen to you.

This was another fabulous page turner and I can’t wait to see what’s next from this author. My only complaint is that I read it too quickly and didn’t want it to end!

A definite five out of five stars from me.

paranormal romance · urban fantasy

Review Time! Blood Bound – Lindsay J Pryor

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Sequels are tough to write, there’s no doubt about that. Writing a sequel to a successful, well-received, debut novel is even tougher, but when you are seven books into a series? Even some of the most famous writers of the past forty years (I’m naming no names!) can struggle with that kind of pressure, so for Lindsay J Pryor to still maintain the adrenalin-filled, fast-paced buzz of her four-year old debut Blood Shadows is seriously no mean feat.

There’s always something rather wonderful about discovering a new author when they debut, diving headlong into the pages of a book that seems so fresh and exciting and knowing that you have found a new fictional world and characters that will go down on your all-time favourites list, and it’s been an absolute pleasure over the past four years to stick with Lindsay’s Blackthorn series and feel the thrill of an imminent new release. But, to be fair, I could have said that about a lot of authors over the years, because debut novels and new literary voices are always exciting – the difference with Blackthorn, is that Lindsay’s writing just seems to get better and better with each new book in the series. With each book, the tone gets a little darker, Lindsay gets a little braver with just how far she’s going to push her readers and there’s nothing I appreciate more than a writer who is willing to not just push the boundaries, but to hurdle right over them, not to be controversial, mind you – because it has to be right for the story – but to take a story in a more challenging and unpredictable direction.

Blood Bound starts where we left off in Blood Instinct, with the war mounting between the third species and the effortlessly twisted Sirius Throme, who seems to know just how to outwit his enemies at every turn. Forced to try and find a way out of Blackthorn via the tunnel system and now faced with another potential threat much closer to home, Eden, ex-Curfew Enforcement Officer and angel envoi Jessie embark on a mission that threatens to tear them apart forever.

I’ll admit that of all the Blackthorn pairings, Eden and Jessie were never really my favourite, having had my heart claimed already by Jask and Phia (swoon Jask!), but I have to say that Lindsay really turned my head with these two in Blood Bound. At times, the imagery that exploded out of the pages was hard to ‘watch’, particularly with the short, choppy chapters that Lindsay uses so well that you can’t help but feel like you’re watching a movie, seeing the action switch back and forth at speed between the characters, but I realised partway through that I was wincing and shifting uncomfortably in my chair much more than I would usually, because I’d grown to really love Eden and Jessie as characters. I saw depth here that maybe hadn’t captivated me the first time round in Blood Deep. I felt connected to them in a way that hadn’t been obvious to me before and it wasn’t long before I wished I could reach in and save them both, even if it was strangely and morbidly fascinating to witness all the trauma and horrors that both were forced to experience.

In all honesty, I had thought to myself prior to reading Blood Bound, that to have Eden and Jessie as the focus in the penultimate book was possibly going to be hard work for me, but as usual, in her own inimitable style, Lindsay has once again pulled me in and reminded me just why Blackthorn is still my favourite PNR series of all time.

The hot scenes were hotter than ever. The action scenes were gripping and edge-of-your-seat rollercoaster rides. And just when you think Lindsay can’t surprise you with any more plot twists, you get hit between the eyes by some new, jaw-dropping revelation that has you reeling because you just never saw it coming. Seven books into the series and I am still, completely and utterly addicted to Blackthorn. That, my friends, is testament to great writing and that is why you should all pick up this series today and fall in love just as I and many other Blackthorn fans have.

Blood Bound is a heart-racing, soul-pounding instalment and thoroughly deserving of five shiny, sparkling stars!

paranormal romance · urban fantasy

Review Time! Blood Roses by Lindsay J. Pryor

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Afternoon bloggers, writers, friends and weirdo’s,

You may recall, a couple of months ago I blogged about the release of Lindsay J. Pryor’s new book, Blood Roses, second novel of the fabulous Blackthorn series. I also promised a review but in true Cinnamon style, I left everyone hanging as usual but in my defence I had a good reason or a half-baked excuse, whichever way you like to look at it. Work was crazy stressful and I also knew I had to put what little time I had into finishing Blood Wars, book three in my Dark Sanctuary series.

But as you know, Blood Wars has reached it’s grand finale very recently and so I can now get back to back-flipping, cartwheeling and body popping around the room in honour of an amazing writer and her wonderful book.

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Lindsay and her Blackthorn series. In a world where everyone wants their vampires to sparkle and be, well, just howdy-doody piano playing perfection, the Blackthorn series grabs hold of contemporary vampire portrayal by the balls, rips out its throat and hangs it from the highest building. So let that be a lesson to you all, okay?

There’s no doubt the Blackthorn vampires are sexy, but they’re eternally dark, often cruel and more dangerous than a pit full of angry vipers. You think you’d survive a night in the polluted, sweat-drenched, vampire infested Blackthorn? Leila, Lindsay’s new feisty flame-haired heroine, knows the dangers of Blackthorn only too well and also knows that the likelihood of getting out of there alive is no mean feat, but with her beloved sister Alisha apparently in the clutches of some vamps, Leila has no choice but to venture into the one place she knows she shouldn’t go.

Leila is no ordinary Summerton gal, in fact shes’s not even an ordinary witch, she’s a serryn and that makes her potentially as dangerous to vampires as they are to her, so it’s no wonder that Caleb Dehain isn’t about to let her leave town anytime soon.

Discovered and captured by one very dangerous, dark and most-certainly brooding vampire, Leila soon finds herself embroiled in the midst of Prophecy and in a fight to prove to Caleb that she isn’t the killer he believes her to be. A growing and unwanted attraction to her captor soon means Leila is fighting for so much more than her very precious soul; she’s fighting to keep hold of her heart too and it’s not a battle that she seems likely to win.

One thing that struck me about Blood Roses is that whilst most of the book is set in the confines of Caleb’s lair, rather than restrict the action, this works wonders in building up the hot and heavy sexual tension between our two main protagonists as there really is nowhere for Leila to run to. As the reader, you can almost feel the panic and desperation growing within Leila every minute she is forced to remain in Caleb’s company, not to mention the burning attraction they are both feeling. I could literally feel the hairs on my neck prickling throughout as the fear, panic and tension emanates from each page, until the point where I was almost climbing the walls with them.

Secondly, and what I’m starting to see is one of Lindsay’s great skills as a writer, is that there is nothing predictable about Blood Roses, unlike some contemporary vampire novels where you can guess the plot way before you’ve reached the end. You’re never quite sure who to trust, who to believe in, whether good will out, or whether the characters will force the plot down some dark path. It’s always suspenseful, always exciting and always keeps you guessing right up until the very end and to me, that’s what’s so very special about the Blackthorn series.

There’s always that concern with the second book that it might not match up to the success of the first, but there’s no worries about that with Blood Roses. Lindsay introduces us to new characters, throws us into a new adventure, and gets the reader enthralled in a new story that keeps us just as hooked as Blood Shadows did.

Feisty heroines, dark and sexy anti-heroes and a world we just can’t help getting lost in, Blood Roses has it all. Five out of five!!!

paranormal romance · urban fantasy

Blood Shadows by Lindsay J Pryor

I have to say that despite writing vamp fiction myself, I have found myself recently getting a little tired of the genre.
Yeah. I actually just said that.
I know. I know. But before you throw my traitorous backside to the baying hounds, lets just say that when you want your vamps a little darker, a little more menacing and a little grittier, it’s pretty hard to see them through a sea of Edwards.
Okay, I have no issue with Edward, but if you want to know the vamps in Twilight who I really wanted to see more of, it was Garrett and Alistair. Now there’s two vamps who deserve a spin-off all of their very own. Mysterious, dark, menacing and enough sex appeal to fuel the fire. These guys interested me far more than Edward ever did. If I’m being honest, basically I just want my main vamp to be a bit of a mean bastard.
Step forward Kane Malloy of Blood Shadows by Brit paranormal romance writer, Lindsay J Pryor.
Kane Malloy, master vampire of the murky world of Blackthorn, has enough brooding menace to make you shiver and sizzle at the same time. With a vicious reputation and a status as the Vampire Control Unit’s Most Wanted, there’s no doubt he’s the vampire I have been waiting for.
Blood Shadows has a vibe reminiscent of J.R Ward’s Black Dagger series, both sexy, unrelenting and blood-thirsty, but the significant difference between the Black Dagger vampires and Lindsay’s Kane, is that he stole my heart right from the beginning. Whilst I enjoyed all the Black Dagger vamps, none of them burrowed deep under my skin as Kane did.
It certainly wasn’t lost on me that, as the reader, Kane slips stealthily into your veins, in the same way he slowly works his indisputable charms on ass-kicking VCU agent, Caitlin Parish. All the way through the book, you know you’re falling in love, yet you can’t help but think there’s something not quite right about feeling that way. It’s an uneasy love. A love that makes you squirm uncomfortably. And the reason for that is Lindsay’s canny ability to make the book unpredictable until the very end. Just when you think you’ve sussed out the plot, Lindsay has a way of turning everything on its head and throwing you this Kane-sized curve ball that keeps you on the edge of your seat, practically begging for more.
And of course, we can’t forget Caitlin. Strong, sassy and smart with a perfect balance of tough versus vulnerable, Caitlin is the kind of female lead that stands her ground against the most captivating of male characters. When you have a novel that is destined to always have a higher volume of female readers than male, it’s always hard to create a female character who shines just as bright as her male counterpart. You might like her, but you’re never really rooting for her in the same way you’re punching the air for him. But, because you’re never really sure what Kane is all about, you want Caitlin to win. Life has dealt her a crappy enough hand to make you sympathise with her and yet, at the same time, she is just the right amount of heroine to make you wish you were a little bit more like her.
In bringing the fantastical world of Blackthorn to life, Lindsay has created a heady mix of intense page-to-page action, blistering heat and blood-curdling chills that literally grabs you by the jugular and keeps you guessing until the very last word. It’s gritty, gripping, captivating and unrelenting and will leave you begging for the next white-knuckle ride into Blackthorn’s dark and disturbing streets.
Five stars! Finally, a vampire novel I can get my teeth into!

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