Countdown by Matt Phillips #BookReview (@MRPhill25) @ADRBooks @DownAndOutBooks #crimefiction #noir #california

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Welcome to California. Weed is legal. Grow it. Sell it. Smoke it. Eat it. But the money you make off it—there’s the rub. Bank it, and the Feds will ask questions. Keep it around, and you’ll get robbed. LaDon and Jessie—two hustlers who make selling primo weed a regular gig—hire a private security detail to move and hold their money. Ex-soldiers Glanson and Echo target the cash—they start a ripoff business.

It’s the wild, wild west. Except this time, everybody’s high.

With their guns and guts, Glanson and Echo don’t expect much trouble from a mean son-of-a-gun like LaDon Charles. But that’s exactly what they get. In this industry, no matter how much money there is for the taking—and no matter who gets it—there’s always somebody counting backwards…to zero.

Today I am delighted to be reviewing Countdown by Matt Phillips. My thanks to Henry Roi, the author and the publisher, All Due Respect, for my e-copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is my first book by Matt Phillips, although I do have a copy of Know Me From Smoke sat on my TBR which I was given as a birthday present, mainly because I love the cover!

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Now that I have read Countdown, I will be moving this up the pile, because I really enjoyed the story and the style of writing, despite the fact that it is very different from my ‘go to’ comfort books. Although I seem to be reading more and more outside my comfort zone these days, due to the opportunities book blogging has afforded me, so maybe I no longer have a comfort zone.

What I really mean is that this is not a book I would normally pluck off a shelf in a shop when I am browsing, which is a mindset I need to get out of because some of the most profound reading experiences I have had over the past couple of years have been via books that I would not have chosen for myself but that I have been offered via blogging. For me, one of the greatest joys of reading is living vicarious experiences and lives that I will never have myself outside the covers of a book, and this book is a perfect example. The story follows the trials and tribulations of running a not-quite-legal marijuana business in California, where trade in the drug has been legalised, but the banking of the money made from the trade has not.

You know from the off that the characters in this book are not people that are naturally going to be people you can sympathise with, or particularly relate to, when you are a middle-aged mother living in rural England who has always been fairly puritanical when it comes to drug use. The fact that I actually did find some of the characters, especially LaDon, sympathetic and a person you would like to succeed, even if their goals are fairly nefarious, was testament to the skill in the writing in this novel. Either that, or the fact that I started grading on a curve with the other, very repellent, characters! Either way, I became invested in the adventures of the main protagonists in this book in a way that I did not expect, given the subject matter and, in spite of the fact that I have never met a Californian drug dealer and these characters were like no one I have ever known IRL, I still felt the characters were believable, with clear and authentic drives and desires and character traits.

The story takes part over a short period of time, and in a tight location, which gave the story a very fast and natural pace which kept it bowling along and carried me with it. It felt like a fairly quick read because of this and there were no lulls or doldrums to interrupt the flow of the book. I felt like the author had done an amazing job of cutting all the flab from the book and leaving only a lean, efficient reading experience which I thoroughly enjoyed being carried along by. I just sat back and let the writing sweep me through with little effort on my part, but obviously a good deal by the author.

The setting of the book is what really set it apart from other things I have read in the genre. The gritty, mean streets of southern California are the net that holds this story together and were convincingly and brightly portrayed in the book. The author does not shy from writing about the unpleasant underside that exists in the city, rather he revels in it, describing it truthfully, but almost lovingly, so that the reader is fully immersed in its sights, sounds, scents and its constant tensions and dangers. For the author, it feels like these traits, which are things that would deter many of us from visiting such places, are what actually draw him and his characters to them, because they are alive and honest in their darkness. I certainly felt this myself during the reading, even if I would only dare revel in them from the safety of my sofa in rural Yorkshire. As I said, one of the many joys of reading.

This book was a very different read for me, but what that certainly catered to a lot of the things are look for in a satisfying book and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is not offended by violence, sex, strong language, graphic scenes or drugs. So Mary Whitehouse types probably should not pick it up, I’m sure anyone else will enjoy it.

Countdown is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Matt Phillips was born in Palm Springs, California and raised in the Coachella Valley and nearby Mojave High Desert. He lives in San Diego. He has worked as a busboy, pool attendant, waiter, bartender, halfway-decent restaurant manager, film festival administrator, newspaper reporter, and editor.

His books include Countdown, Know Me from Smoke, The Bad Kind of Lucky, Accidental Outlaws, Three Kinds of Fool, Redbone, and Bad Luck City. Short fiction has appeared in Mystery Tribune, Yellow Mama, Shotgun Honey, Flash Fiction Offensive, Tough Crime, Near to the Knuckle, Powder Burn Flash, Pulp Metal Magazine, Manslaughter Review, and Fried Chicken and Coffee.

Matt earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Connect with Matt:

Website: https://www.mattphillipswriter.com

Facebook: Matt Phillips

Twitter: @MRPhill25

Take It Back by Kia Abdullah #BookReview (@KiaAbdullah) @HarperCollinsUK @NetGalley #PublicationDay #TakeItBack #NetGalley

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The Victim: A sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, neglected by an alcoholic mother. Who accuses the boys of something unthinkable.

The Defendants: Four handsome teenage boys from hardworking immigrant families. All with corroborating stories.

Whose side would you take?

Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest young legal minds, shattered the expectations placed on her by her family and forged a glittering career at the Bar. All before hanging up her barrister’s wig to help the victims who needed her most. Victims like Jodie Wolfe.

Jodie’s own best friend doesn’t even believe her claims that their classmates carried out such a crime. But Zara does. And Zara is determined to fight for her.

Jodie and Zara become the centre of the most explosive criminal trial of the year, in which ugly divisions within British society are exposed. As everything around Zara begins to unravel she becomes even more determined to get Jodie the justice she’s looking for. But at what price?

Another publication day review to share with you, this time for Take It Back by Kia Abdullah. Happy publication day, Kia, and my thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This was a fascinating legal thriller that deals with a multitude of complex and contentious issues that are very relevant in current society and, at the same time, providing a page-turning ‘who did what’ story. There are so many layers to this book that it is one I will definitely go back to and read again with a fresh set of eyes to make sure I have rung every nuance from it, but I will do the best I can to write my review based on my first read of it.

The story involves an allegation of rape by a girl with facial deformities against a group of boys from an ethnic minority background and, from the off, it causes discomfort in the reader as our sympathies are pitted against one another as we try and work out which characters are the real victims in the story. This is the main theme of the book, how do you deal with individuals from two separate, disadvantaged groups pointing the finger at one another without allowing personal or societal prejudices affect your judgement? The narrative casts a sharp and unflattering light on the way our society currently operates and how we view and react to people very different to ourselves. The book made me ask some very uncomfortable questions about my own privilege and possible prejudices and preconceptions and, by the end, I was left with more questions than answers and a good many issues to probe further.

The main character in the book is Zara, a modern woman with a high-flying career who has taken the drastic step of leaving behind a lucrative career at the Bar to help victims of sexual violence. Zara comes from a Muslim family and has a good many demons of her own to address, a number of which she is forced to confront as her current case spirals out of control and spills over into her personal life. The use of Zara as the main focus of the book is a clever vehicle for forcing the reader to see the kinds of problems minorities have to face in our society and what conflicts they are presented with. Those of us who do not fall into these categories can find it almost impossible to imagine what challenges are presented daily to minorities and books like this one which don’t shy away from presenting these challenges to us in a digestible format can offer the opportunity to think about these things from a  different angle. The author does a really great job of portraying Zara as someone real and flawed and sympathetic so we can try, for a brief time, to slip into her shoes.

The protagonists on both sides of the criminal investigation are portrayed as complicated  characters with motivations, personalities, desires and faults that are revealed gradually throughout the novel. so that the readers perception of who might be telling the truth and who might be lying can change from page to page as we learn more about them, just as Zara’s does. I had no clear idea of the truth until the very last page and, as a result, the book held my attention easily from beginning to end. It wasn’t an easy read, though. These are some deeply troubling issues that are being addressed in the story and parts of it made me extremely uncomfortable in a way that had me asking questions of myself throughout. For a thriller of this type, this is an unusual and accomplished achievement and puts this book a cut above some of the run of the mill titles that have appeared in this genre. To dismiss it as just another of its type would be to do the book a grave disservice.

The settings and descriptions of the book present a grim background that perfectly suits the plot and the writing really brought everything to life – location, characters, mood and story. This is a skilfully written book that offers a big punch and a lot of food for thought, as well as a gripping read. It is a book that will stay with me for a while and I highly recommend it.

Take It Back is out today and you can get a copy here.

About the Author

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Kia Abdullah is an author and travel writer from London. She has contributed to The New York Times, The Guardian, BBC and Lonely Planet, and is the founding editor of outdoor travel blog Atlas & Boots, read by 250,000 people a month.

Connect with Kia:

Website: https://kiaabdullah.com

Facebook: Kia Abdullah

Twitter: @KiaAbdullah

Instagram: @kiaabdullah

The Brighton Mermaid by Dorothy Koomson #BookReview (@DorothyKoomson) @penguinrandom #TheBrightonMermaid

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Brighton Beach, 1993

Teenagers Nell and Jude find the body of a young woman and when no one comes to claim her, she becomes known as the Brighton Mermaid. Nell is still struggling to move on when, three weeks later, Jude disappears.

Twenty-five years on, Nell is forced to quit her job to find out who the Brighton Mermaid really was – and what happened to her best friend that summer.

But as Nell edges closer to the truth, dangerous things start to happen. Someone seems to be watching her every move, and soon she starts to wonder who in her life she can actually trust…

I’m writing this review from a very interesting place today, because I have just come away from a weekend spent at the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference in Lancaster where one of the highlights of the weekend for me was listening to Dorothy Koomson in conversation about her writing with RNA Chair, Alison May.

I have been in love with Dorothy Koomson’s writing since the very first book of hers that I picked up more than ten years ago. That book was Goodnight, Beautiful and it has remained very special to me because, not only was it a book I loved as a reader, but it is one of the books that has influenced me very deeply as a writer. The way I felt whilst reading this book is the way I want to make people feel when I write.

Dorothy’s writing has moved on a great deal since that book and she is one of the few authors writing who has managed to change genres very successfully. In fact, she has done this more than once, and it was fascinating to hear her talk about the resistance she had to these changes from others involved in her career and the absolute conviction in her own writing that has carried her through. It is this passion, this conviction, that comes through so clearly in her writing and carries we, the reader, along with her wherever she chooses to take us. I, for one, am always happy to follow and never regret the journey.

The Brighton Mermaid is no exception, it was an outstanding read for me. I finished it just before the conference, and was fascinated to hear some of the stories behind the writing of this book afterwards, which would never have been apparent from the finished product. Dorothy joked that she has invented a new genre, the emotional thriller, and this label definitely sums up the journey in this novel. It is quite unlike anything that anyone else is writing and I really felt that I were reading something new and interesting, that made me think and feel differently to anything else I had read when I had finished it.

The book follows the story of Nell, who has an experience in her teenage years that has a deep and lasting effect on her and all of the people who are close to her. A simple act on one night ripples through her family and friends and changes all of their lives forever. Nell is haunted by the experience and is still searching for answers when we catch up with her in her thirties in the present day. Her sister has also been impacted in a way that has left her with mental health issues and her parents lives were turned upside down. Her best friend disappeared and has left a question hanging over them all which has never been answered. Nell’s pursuit of the truth and a resolution to all their difficulties draws us in and holds us captive to the very last page.

This is not a traditional detective story or psychological thriller but a fascinating blend of the two, with a complex layer of emotional truth woven through it that asks more questions than it answers. Despite the fact that this is a very different book than the first Dorothy Koomson I fell in love with all those years ago, I was left with many of the same feelings by the end: riveted, moved, challenged and, ultimately, blown away by the skill of the author. This book could not have been written by anyone other than Dorothy Koomson and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

I’m looking forward to reading the next one, and I have a copy of this which I will cherish.

The Brighton Mermaid is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here. Dorothy’s latest book is Tell Me Your Secret and it is also out now in hardback.

About the Author

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Dorothy Koomson is the award-winning author of 14 novels and has been making up stories since she was 13 when she used to share her stories with her convent school friends. Her published titles include: The Friend, When I Was Invisible, That Girl From Nowhere, The Flavours of Love, The Woman He Loved Before, Goodnight, Beautiful and The Chocolate Run.

Dorothy’s first novel, The Cupid Effect, was published in 2003 (when she was quite a bit older than 13). Her third book, My Best Friend’s Girl, was selected for the Richard & Judy Summer Reads of 2006 and went on to sell over 500,000 copies. While her fourth novel, Marshmallows For Breakfast, has sold in excess of 250,000 copies. Dorothy’s books, The Ice Cream Girls and The Rose Petal Beach were both shortlisted for the popular fiction category of the British Book Awards in 2010 and 2013, respectively.

Dorothy’s novels have been translated into over 30 languages, and a TV adaptation loosely based on The Ice Cream Girls was shown on ITV1 in 2013. After briefly living in Australia, Dorothy now lives in Brighton.

Connect with Dorothy:

Website: https://www.dorothykoomson.co.uk

Facebook: Dorothy Koomson Writer

Twitter: @DorothyKoomson

Instagram: @dorothykoomson_author

The Case by Leopold Borstinski #BookReview #BlogTour (@borstinski) @damppebbles #damppebblestours #TheCase

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One Private Eye. One Case. One sackful of trouble.

When Jake agrees to take a package across America, he doesn’t know if he’ll live to tell the tale. If the CIA, the Feds and the British Secret Service don’t get him then the mob will.

How’s a cowardly private dick going to survive in these bloody times?

Delighted to be one of the blogs kicking off the tour today for The Case, a noir thriller by Leopold Borstinski. My thanks to Emma Welton at damp pebbles tours for inviting me on to the tours and to the author for my e-copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This was a really different read for me in more ways than one and, for that reason alone, I really enjoyed it. My favourite thing about taking part in blog tours is getting pushed out of my comfort zone and picking up books that I would not normally read. Expanding our reading horizons is a great thing, I learn things I would never have known before, become exposed to different styles of writing, different genres and different life experiences. All of this helps with my own writing, and also my own experience and empathy in life. A lot to gain from one little book, hey? This is the secret that avid and diverse readers know and want to share with the rest of the world!

Anyway, enough waxing lyrical about the advantages of reading widely and back to the book in hand. This is a an old school pulp fiction-style novel of a kind I would never normally pick up under my own volition. It’s protagonist is a low-level gumshoe with dubious morals, grifting his way through life doing PI work for suspicious spouses and local hoodlums, until he gets entangled with the Mob and becomes embroiled in events above his usual pay grade which offer him greater rewards and greater dangers than he usually experiences.

The way the book is structured is quite unusual, because it involves the biggest case of the MC’s career, recovering a missing case for a Mafia boss (The Case of the title, but also a play on words because it is his biggest case. Clever.) But, whilst we are following this investigation, the PI is also reminicising about previous cases that have shaped him and his business over the years, so the book jumps around between different time periods, different cities and different investigations. This is a really interesting and informative way of informing us about the character and providing a lot of interesting stories. In fact, I felt like this actually read like a collection of short stories, rather than a contiguous novel, which I quite liked but I guess may not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, the fact that it jumps around, and not always in a very obvious way, requires a higher level of concentration than may otherwise be needed for this type of book and it did get confusing a couple of times, particularly when I was reading late at night.

The story itself is gritty and does not pull any punches. This book is dark, containing a lot of violent scenes, graphic descriptions and gratuitous sex. Anyone who is not a fan of any of these things in books will not enjoy this because it runs unapologeticically throughout. I had no problem with it as I’m not squeamish and it felt very true to the story and the character and the style of novel being written, but it certainly will not be for everyone. The characters in this book are not pleasant people, they do very unpleasant things to one another and feel no remorse. This is even true of the main character, although he does seem to have a moral line which he will not cross and, because we get an insight into his motivations and inner thoughts, the reader does end up having some sympathy and affection for him, despite his many failings. I think it is a cleverly written book.

This was a really interesting and diverting read for me which stretched my mind and my reading experiences out of my normal safe zone. Has it converted me to a huge fan of dark pulp fiction? Probably not, it will still not be my genre of choice. However, if you do like this style of book, I think you will get a lot from this interesting new take on it and the writing is great. Have a look and see what you think.

The Case is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the blogs coming up on the tour, please check out the poster below:

The Case Blog Tour

About the Author

Leopold Borstinski

Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Connect with Leopold:

Website: http://www.leopoldborstinski.com

Facebook: Leo Borstinski

Twitter: @borstinski

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The Gingerbread Houses by Benedict J Jones #BookReview (@benedictjjones) @crimewavepress #thriller #crime #london #charliebars #TheGingerbreadHouses

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A dark secret lies at the heart of the British government; a secret so appalling that they will kill to protect it.

Charlie Bars is back in London and has taken on a missing persons case. Easy money –or so he thinks. The man he is looking for is inextricably linked to the evil perpetrated in the Gingerbread Houses and as Charlie’s search progresses, he finds himself drawn into the seedy underbelly of the capital; a world of abuse, exploitation and deviancy that threatens to destroy his soul.

Others are looking for the missing man too and hunter soon becomes hunted as Charlie finds himself the target of an insane torturer haunted by the ghosts of his military past.

As he descends into the darkest depths of human depravity, Charlie desperately tries to stay out of prison, on the right side of his morality and, most importantly, alive as he seeks to uncover the buried secrets of the Gingerbread Houses.

Something a bit grittier on the blog today with a review of The Gingerbread Houses, the latest Charlie Bars thriller from Benedict J JonesMy thanks go to Henry Roi at Crime Wave Press for inviting me to review the book and for my digital copy, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is the third Charlie Bars thriller, but the first I have read, and my first book by this author. Having had a nosey through his back catalogue, I can see a diverse array of titles and genres and quite a few that I would be interested in reading once I have my teetering TBR cut down to a more manageable level. The fact that I had not read the previous two books featuring the main character did not detract from my enjoyment or understanding of this novel at all, it works perfectly well as a standalone book, although I would very much like to go back and read the previous books to gain some more insight into Charlie’s back story and how his relationship with Ellie came about.

This is very much a dark noir novel with an extremely disturbing premise at the heart of the story, and one that will not be unfamiliar to those of us who have been paying attention to the news over the last decade. The fact that the story covered in this book is not too far distant from real life events made it even more upsetting as far as I was concerned and, if you are not a fan of your crime on the darker side, this book will not be for you. That being said, my tastes err on the safer side of twisted and there are lines that I am not comfortable with books crossing and this novel stayed on the acceptable side of those, so it is not damningly dark as far as I am concerned. Given the subject matter, I was glad that the author did not go into very graphic detail on some of the crimes committed, and some things were suggested rather than explicitly described. I think the author walked the line between dark and too dark perfectly and I was comfortable reading to the end, although not too comfortable, it was definitely disturbing.

The book revolves around private eye, Charlie Constantinou, a man who has had been on the wrong side of the law more than once, now earning a living as a gumshoe, but one with a conscience of sorts. It may not be honour as we would recognise it, but there are crimes that are even too low for him to condone and he finds himself mixed up in a scandal that goes right to the top of power in the country and is almost too much for him to handle. I found him to be a compelling and fascinating character, a tough guy with a softer side and a particular sense of right and wrong, that made him likeable despite his shady side. It is quite hard to write a convincing anti-hero, but the author here manages it magnificently and the reader finds themselves firmly of the side of a man with dubious  morals, mainly because he is dealing with people even more deplorable than he is.

And there are certainly plenty of those in the book, ranging from the perverted and corrupt to the mentally unstable. This is a book that mines a very seedy seam of the London underworld for its inspiration and reflects that dark crucible perfectly. There is a lot of graphic violence and unpleasantness in this book, it is not a happy crime caper like the book featured in my last review, but if you like your thrillers on the noir side, you will really enjoy this. The plot twists and turns with cross and double cross, red herrings, unexpected twists and shock events from chapter to chapter and will keep the reader hooked from page to page. I was glued to it and read it in just under 24 hours, definitely a book with plenty of plot propulsion.

Aside from the crime aspect, I really enjoyed the relationships between Charlie and Mazza, which felt very authentic and well-written, and between Charlie and Ellie, which showed a different side to him as a character. The best bit for me though was the reflection in the writing of the dark side of London. One that, as someone who only visits as a tourist, I don’t really get to see. It felt grimy and sordid and completely convincing. One of the main reasons I read is to immerse myself in places and experiences that I will never have in my day to day life, and this book really delivered on that score. I highly recommend it for lovers of dark noir crime fiction.

The Gingerbread Houses is out now in ebook format and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Benedict J Jones is an author of crime, horror and western fiction from south east London. His work has been published in various anthologies and magazines. Since 2008, he has published almost thirty short stories.

Connect with Benedict:

Website: https://benedictjjones.webs.com

Twitter: @benedictjjones

The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon #BookReview #BlogTour (@VandaSymon) @OrendaBooks @AnneCater #TheRingmaster #RandomThingsTours #NewZealandNoir

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Death is stalking the South Island of New Zealand…

Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…
Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…

Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the new book by Vanda Symon. The Ringmaster is the second book in the Sam Shepard detective series (you can read my review of the first book, Overkillhere.) and I was really excited to see what Sam was up to. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for my place on the tour and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Things have moved on for Sam Shephard since the events of Overkill. She has moved from the small town of Matuara to the bright lights of Dunedin and started her training as a detective. However, she is now at the bottom of the pecking order and not everyone is happy with her fast-tracking to CIB, particularly her boss, who seems to have it in for her and makes her life as difficult as possible.

The books kicks off to a flying start with the disturbing murder of a female student from the university at the same time as a protest at a circus which is visiting the town. As Sam gets involved in investigating the antics at the circus, she becomes convinced that it may have some connection to the murder and she is determined to work out how.

I absolutely loved the character of Sam in the first book and she has lost none of her drive or feistiness since moving to the city, despite her boss’s best efforts to keep her ‘in her place.’ She has a natural aptitude for police work and is determined to do her bit, whatever the personal cost, which makes her an admirable and entertaining protagonist for the story. We also get to see more complications in her personal life in this book through her relationship with her parents, and a potential new love interest, which serves to give the reader further human connection with Sam and draws us further into her story. I was hooked in from the start, firmly on Sam’s side and willing her to solve the case and prove her worth in her new role.

Even if I hadn’t read the first book, I would still have been tempted to pick this up, as I am a sucker for a book with a circus theme so the cover alone would have drawn me in and this book would work perfectly as standalone for anyone who hasn’t read the first one. The circus provides colour and excitement to the story, and some healthy moments of humour and pathos, which gives the book a really nice balance. Thus us one thing I find particularly attractive about Vanda’s writing, she manages to balance the light and shade beautifully to give the reader a real series of highs and lows throughout the story which makes for a very rewarding reading experience.

New Zealand plays a distinctive role in these books, and it was nice to discover a new side to the country with the author’s descriptions of the setting, scenery, flora and fauna of the area. I think the Kiwi flavour is a big part of what makes these books a standout for me, and such an enjoyable read. That, together with the easy flow of the writing, the great characterisation and a gripping plot, of course! I did feel that there was one tiny loose end that wasn’t quite tidied up satisfactorily to do with the motivation behind one of the sub-plot points (it’s hard to say more without including a spoiler) but it wasn’t a major let down for the book, more a niggle for my particularly anal brain. All in all, this was a very satisfying read and I look forward to reading the next one.

I have bought a paperback copy of this book, you should too.

The Ringmaster is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you visit the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour to get a range of views on the book:

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About the Author

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Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

Connect with Vanda:

Website: http://vandasymon.com/index.php

Facebook: Vanda Simon

Twitter: @vandasymon

Instagram: @vandasymon

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The Liars by Naomi Joy #BookReview #BlogTour (@naomijoyauthor) @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #NetGalley #TheLiars

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Two women. One deadly secret. A rivalry that could destroy them.

Ava Wells is perfect. She has the boyfriend, the career, the looks. One night changes everything and her life isn’t so seamless anymore.

Jade Fernleigh is ambitious. She’s worked hard to get where she is. And she’s not about to let Ava take the job she rightly deserves.

Both women share a secret that could destroy them, but who will crumble first?

I am delighted today to be taking part in the blog tour for The Liars by Naomi Joy. My thanks to Victoria Joss at Head of Zeus for inviting me to take part and for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Firstly, I owe an apology to Naomi and to Victoria as I have just realised that this review should have been posted yesterday. Sorry, I am on holiday with the family this week and have completely lost track of the day and the date, I have no other excuse.

On the plus side, if you are looking for a gripping book to accompany you on your own holiday this Easter, or to get you through the long holiday weekend, this might just be the book for you. It kept me glued to the pages at the beginning of the week, as far as the kids’ demands for trips to the beach and for ice cream would allow, desperate as I was to know how it would all pan out.

This is a book that reminds you not to fall into the trap of taking people at face value. Things are not always what they seem and appearances can be deceptive. There was one character in this book to whom I took an instant dislike, as no doubt the author intended, but by the end everything I believed about all the characters had been turned on its head and I was truly astounded by the conclusion, although it did require quite a suspension of disbelief to buy in to it. Not necessarily a negative in a book of this sort where you don’t expect absolute realism in the plot. In fact, I’d hate to meet some of these characters in real life!

Despite the fact that many of the characters in this book were not particularly likeable and some of them were downright despicable, the author did a good job of making them believable and giving them realistic motives for their actions. She managed to take me with them and make me invested in their stories, despite the fact they were largely unpleasant, which is quite a skill and the writing was very clever in this regard.

There were quite a few twists in the plot that I didn’t see coming and they were slotted in cleverly at intervals that took the story off in a different direction than the way I had thought it was going and kept me turning the pages. Despite the fact that the confines of the story are quite narrow and ordinary, the author managed to imbue it with a real sense of intrigue and tension and maintained the momentum to the end. I think this is an accomplished bit of writing for a debut and it has made me interested to see what she will do with her next book.

This book did have its faults, mainly that I felt events escalated rather quickly at the end to the point where I really did have to stretch my credulity to its limits to believe it but, I was willing to do this because I had enjoyed the story to this point. Beyond that, this was an engaging, twisty thriller with some interesting ideas and if you are looking for an undemanding but gripping read, pick this up.

The Liars is out now and you can get a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour for this book, please check out the blogs detailed on the posters below:

About the Author

Naomi Joy

Naomi Joy is a pen name of a young PR professional who was formerly an account director at prestigious Storm Communications. Writing from experience, she draws the reader in the darker side of the uptown and glamorous, presenting realism that is life or death, unreliable and thrilling to page-turn.

Connect with Naomi:

Twitter: @naomijoyauthor