My 10 (ish) Best reads of 2017

Final blog post of 2017 and final post for a little while, 2017 was fun for me the group I help run reached 4,000 member, i’ve been privileged enough to beta read a few books one of which i’m a character in can’t wait for that one to come out, so I can share it with everyone. And after sharing my 10 most disappointing reads of 2017 here are my 10 (ish) best reads of 2017.

starting with

10) The Secret mother by Shalini Boland – this was a real page turner of a read, a wonderful work of domestic noir. with some twists that you dont see coming, I’m a big fan of Shalini’s work anyway but this novel for me was a must read, and one I would happily recommend to anyone who was a fan of maggie james or works like girl on a train.

10) also joint ten, I did say ish is the Chalk pit by Elly Griffiths – Elly’s writing is one of the things that got me back into reading crime novels and i’ve eagerly followed the adventures of ruth, nelson, cathbad and judy over the years, I’ve even been privileged enough to meet the lady a couple of times. This was a fab addition to the ruth galloway series and leaves you with a lot of questions that you hope will be answered in the next installment.

9) Norse Mythology by Neil Gaimain – I am a huge fan of both Neil Gaimain and Norse anything including the mythology. So when this book was announced it was like all my dreams come true and it did not disappoint, a great introduction to the mythology and a well written version of the creation stories, great for people interested in an entry level book to the norse myths or just people who like great storytelling.

8)The spy who chipped the china teacup by Angie Smith – one of the books I was privileged to beta read this year and a fantastic read, I am not a fan of spy novels or fast paced thrillers generally but Angie’s writing is so phenomenal it is like a masterclass in weaving plot threads together. I find Angie’s writing breath taking and this was a fabulous novel.

7) The girl from the other side – This is a beautifully written manga with a lovely mythos to it, the story of a little girl and the mysterious creature who looks after here it has beautiful art and an intriguing story that make for a fabulous read.

6) Guilty innocence by Maggie James – Maggie is another author that you just cannot go wrong with and a few of her novels were republished by the inimitable bloodhound books this year. This to me is one of the best books by maggie, following the story of a young man who”s girlfriend discovers that he has a dark secret what ensues is a spellbinding story that will really make you think.

 

5) The three body problem by Cixun Liu – In a massive change for me i’m including a sci-fi novel in my top 10 novels, i don’t often read sci-fi but i’ve discovered a great range of quite hard sci -fi including this novel that starts during the cultural revolution and is a fantastic read.

4) Your Name – another beautiful manga about a boy and a girl who although they live in different towns quite a distance apart swap bodies when they sleep  – they both bring something to each others lives and need to unpick why this happens to them all making for quite an intriguing read. Another story i’d really recommend.

3) Blakemort by Shani Struthers – I love Shani’s writing she is one of my favourite horror writers, producing a great range of classy ghost stories. This is a companion novella to her psychic surveys series which are fascinating and shows the back story of Corinna one of the main characters. I found this a genuinely disturbing story one you don’t want to read on your own or late at night.

2) Untainted blood by Liz Mistry – Another fantastic writer – this crime series really stands out to me as it shows the authors love of Bradford as she reflects the true shades of light and dark in the city, her characters are amazing and well developed and I am now thoroughly hooked on the exploits of Gus and his family and friends.

  1. Thank you for smoking by christopher buckley – Another new author discovery for me this year. A wonderful satire of the american lobbying system where the lobbyists for smoking firearms and alcohol meet for friendly lunches where they call themselves the death squad, funny and very irreverant this was a thoroughly enjoyable read that when i finished it resulted in me going to buy as many more books by the author as he had written which is a sure sign of a great read.
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my 10 most disappointing read of 2017

here we go with the best and worst of lists – after this I will be taking a short blog hiatus so expect to see less from me in 2018, although hopefully I will read and review more. So without further ado my 10 most disappointing reads of 2017

starting with

10) the mask of dimitrios – This was an airport buy for me and a classic crime novel that i thought would be really interesting as it is partly set in Istanbul a city I once called home, however I found it weakly written for me and not that engaging, it was at best a 2-3* read. With poorly developed character and a really strange twist.

9) Hyper space by Michio Kaku – A popular science novel that was a book club read for me and one that made a few interesting points but remained slightly disappointing with a few too many reaches for what if’s and what the author thought of as clever literary references that became a little tedious.

8) A cup of rage by Raduan Nassar – described as an erotic novel, this will do less for the average reader than 50 shades of grey. At times mysogynistic it is a tawdry novel at best although a very quick read.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=a+cup+of+rage

7)  Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt- A ya novel of someone finding love at a comic con, written by someone who has at best watched some footage of a con on TV. Its very by the numbers romance with nothing to really set it above the rest.

6) Mobile suit gundam wing – A poorly written manga that makes very little sense although book 2 in the series is better than the first – if you were a fan of the cartoons of these then this is a book you need to avoid at all costs, a lazy product.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mobile-Suit-Gundam-WING-Endless/dp/1945054344/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1513875947&sr=1-1&keywords=mobile+suit+gundam+wing

5) Kraken by China Mievelle – Another book club choice and another of my disappointing reads, a weak urban fantasy with poorly developed characters and a fetish for lovecraft at its core. for an author that is lauded as a star i found this a disappointing introduction to his work, I love urban fantasy and can think of a lot more engaging introductions to the Genre

4) `Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon – Another YA romance with a twist this time the girl lives in a bubble because she has a poor immune system and falls in love with her neighbour, again this felt lazily written and the twist at the end is slightly laughable although not what you would expect, this has been turned into a move but is not up to the standards of some of the classic YA out there

3) The Bronte Cabinet by Deborah Lutz – another book club pick on the disappointing list and the main problem I had with this is I think it smacked of lazy research she makes a rookie error about Burke and Hare in the opening chapters that any historian worth their salt wouldn’t make which makes me question the validity of the rest of the work which in a non-fiction novel can be a problem

2) Cross Stitch by Dianna Gabaldon – Outlander by another name and after seeing people rave about the books and the series i felt like I needed to read this book, and what a load of drivel it turned out to be wrapped up in one of the longest books I read this year. I would love to write a long review about it but it is complete tosh.

  1.  Spirits and cat ears – and now for the book that made me most angry in 2017, this is a manga that had a cute and interesting sounding plot but at it’s heart is a mean spirited story where someone bullies a much younger girl in a creepy sexual manner, this is offensive and disgusting and i would heartily recommend you do not buy a copy.
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The End of Lies blog tour

I am a huge fan of Andy Barretts writing, and think that he is a jolly nice chap in person too, so I leapt at the chance of being on the blog tour for the end of lies , his first stand alone book.

the story:

My name is Becky. I arrived home to find my husband, Chris, stabbed to death and a gang of men ransacking our house.
Turns out that Chris has something that belongs to them. And if I want to stay alive, I have to find it and return it. They have given me seven days. And a beating.
There is nowhere to hide and no time left to look. So I will stand my ground as the deadline approaches. All I have is a head full of lies and a very bad plan.
my thoughts:
Not the usual CSI packed affair from Andy  – but it still retains some of the same humour and fabulous writing that we have come to expect from him.
An enjoyable action packed story full of twists and turns that are completely fascinating and not what you expect at all. As always Andy is very good at fooling you into thinking one thing is happening and then surprising you with a twist.
It can be difficult when an author that you enjoy and know for a particular style of story or character moves away from that theme and tries something new. I feel that for Andy this was a success but I personally will remain a bigger fan of his previous series.
A really enjoyable novel from one of my favourite authors although I do hope Eddie makes a comeback soon as he is one of my all time favourite characters. A 5* read for me.
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The other mother – blog tour

today I am privileged to be on the blog tour for the other mother by Judith Baker, this is the first novel by Judith that I have read and i’m sure i will read more

the story:

Three troubled women. One deadly secret.
Lissy and her daughter, Rosie, live a quiet life in Yorkshire, however when events at Rosie’s school come to light, their peaceful existence is shattered.
Meanwhile, middle-aged women Erica and Beverley appear to have perfect lives but behind closed doors things are not as they seem.
All three women are tied together by a dark past that goes back to their school days. A child was murdered and one of the women is to blame.
But is the person responsible for the child’s death the same person who was blamed for it all those years ago?
As secrets from their past begin to surface it becomes clear that someone has revenge in their sights…

my thoughts:

This is intriguing domestic noir along the lines of Shalini Boland or Maggie James, 2 of my favourite authors. I found the plot of this intriguing although the chapters from the different womens points of view confused me a little at first I soon got engrossed in the plot.

This sheds new thoughts for me on the long term affects of crime and the novel itself had a great final twist to the plot. I was engaged with all the characters and genuinely felt involved with all of them. A fabulous 4  star read for me

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The man in the wall

This blog tour goes out on my brothers birthday – happy birthday Rob. I get to review an interesting translated fiction.

the story:

Alva is a sad and lonely child. With her father locked up in prison, she moves with her mother and two older sisters to an apartment building in town. She does not like her new home. Her room is small and her sisters continue to exclude Alva from their games.

Soon a bizarre murder takes place in the building. A husband discovers his wife dead in the hall of their apartment, two week after she disappeared from their home.

Where had the body been hidden for two weeks? And how could the perpetrator get in and out of the apartment?

As more disturbing things start to take place, Alva is drawn into a sick and twisted game by a killer who is hiding in plain sight. But Alva is just a child and has no idea just how deadly her new friend might be…

The Man in the Wall is a thrilling and stylish Scandinavian thriller.

my thoughts:  This is different to what i first expected, and refreshingly so. A multi layered fascinating crime story set in Sweden with interesting characters. I really enjoyed this novel and it left me thinking about many things including the nature of a psycopath and whether aberrant behaviour in childhood can be corrected before it becomes too serious.

the characters in this novel were really well developed and intriguing and I enjoyed the setting of sweden but scandanavia is one of my favourite places in the world – if you’re looking for something exciting with a slightly horror twist then this is the novel for you a true 5* read for me.

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An open letter to Amazon

We all know Amazon have quite strict review policies, where if you are friends with an author on facebook and you link your social media to your amazon account they won’t let you review that authors books.

Recently I went online to review some Christmas presents and I was blocked from reviewing them, I knew it wasn’t because I was friends with them on facebook, so I emailed amazon to ask why  I couldn’t post my reviews

Finally about 3 days after contacting them I received this reply –
We have determined that you have violated our Customer Review Creation Guidelines. As a result, we have suppressed all of your reviews, and you will no longer be able to post reviews on Amazon.co.uk.

We made this decision after carefully considering your reviewing account. This decision is final.

We cannot share any further information about our decision, and we may not reply to further emails about this issue.

I can’t respond to the email they sent me and as someone who is passionate about championing independent authors many of whom I found from running a facebook group, this makes me really sad and angry.

I understand that after the sock puppetry thing we need reviewing guidelines but to block someone who only ever reviews in good faith and will give an honest review if they are friends with an author or not seems ridiculous

What makes me most angry is I know what a review means to an author and I try to always post my reviews to help them out and now all of those have been reviewed and I cannot review anyone else books, which for someone who spends as much time reviewing – as I do this is huge

So the point I’m trying to get at in writing openly to amazon – is that although I don’t expect a change in my review status, I want them to understand how unfair they are being to the Independent authors many of whom need to connect with people on facebook to make them aware of their works. For a site that is meant to be about making it easier for people to write and share their books and reviews, they are definitely not doing that – maybe Amazons community guidelines should actually be written by their community – they could have a reviewer sign up form so they know why people might be connected to certain authors

The other thing that makes me especially angry about amazon – is this line – We cannot share any further information about our decision, and we may not reply to further emails about this issue.

Why wont they reply or give more details – they are not giving me a chance to defend myself – I have seen this kind of high handed behaviour from them before towards their sellers, but I find it ridiculously unfair, they have decided I have violated some mystery rules, so without warning me so I could change my behaviour they just remove all my priviledges and when I want to talk to them about it – they make it so I cant. Should amazon be allowed to employ these heavy handed tactics to people and get away with it or should we challenge them and expect a change. I think I may start using other bookstores and places to leave my reviews.

my promise to all the authors that I support and champion is that I will continue to do that through my blog, reviews on goodreads and other bookstores and my role as an admin at the UKCBC, I hope you dont feel let down by a lack of review but if i can find a way to share what I think of your books in anyway I can then I will and maybe in the end thats what matters most.

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The secret mother by Shalini Boland – Blog tour

I have the great honour to be on the blog tour for the Secret mother by Shalini Boland, I am a huge fan of Shalini’s work and this is no exception

the story:

‘Are you my mummy?’

Tessa Markham returns home to find a child in her kitchen. He thinks she’s his mother. But Tessa doesn’t have any children.

Not anymore.

She doesn’t know who the little boy is or how he got there.

After contacting the police, Tessa is suspected of taking the mystery child. Her whole life is turned upside down. And then her husband reveals a secret of his own…

Tessa isn’t sure what to believe or who to trust. Because someone is lying. To find out who, she must confront her painful past. But is the truth more dangerous than Tessa realises?

my thoughts:

This is a truly fascinating example of what I call domestic noir, it has dark moments filled with elements of light in Tessa’s developing relationship with some of the people in her life. This is a fascinating novel and as I was reading I found myself thinking I know where this is going and I don’t mind because its so joyful to read, however I was pleasantly surprised with the ending.

This handles very emotive subject matter with a genuine understanding, the characters are well developed and believable and you find yourself really caring about what happens to all of the people in this book not just Tessa and Harry. On a par with Maggie James for showing the human impact of events on families and individuals this novel is an unputdownable read. A solid 5+ stars from me.

UK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2xrkDu4

 

US 🇺🇸 http://amzn.to/2vXeg3W

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