The Christmas Killer (DI James Walker series, book 1) By Alex Pine

The most chillingread of Christmas 2020.

As the snow begins to fall, the body count begins to climb…

DI James Walker is ready for a quiet family Christmas in the sleepy village of Kirkby Abbey.
 
But when he opens an early Christmas present left on his doorstep, he soon realises it is no gift. Inside is a gruesome surprise, and a promise – twelve days, twelve murders. Not long after, the first body is found, half frozen in the snow.
 
As the blizzards descend, panic spreads through the remote Cumbrian village – there’s a killer amongst them, and with eleven more victims to go, anyone could be next….
 
Can James stop the killer before they strike again?

The first in a new series, Alex Pine has written a dark, atmospheric crime novel, set in a snowed-in Cumbrian village, for fans of Val McDermid, Ross Greenwood and LJ Ross.

My review

The Christmas Killer is the first of a new series which I have enjoyed over the last few days.

Set in a small, usually quiet village, DI James Walker receives a parcel, hand delivered to his doorstep, with gruesome contents and an odd message which he assumes must be a prank. That is until a man’s body is found in the snow. He has been stabbed. This inevitably triggers a murder investigation and makes James wonder if there might be more to the message he received not so long ago. He sincerely hopes not.

Before long the village is far from the peaceful place to live it once was. It will be no ordinary Christmas for the residents of Kirkby Abbey.

This is an easy read murder mystery, not particularly fast paced but with plenty going on along the way and many interesting characters. It very much held my interest, and I changed my mind several times throughout the story who I thought the killer might be. This was an easy book to enjoy at this time of year, although I think it would be an enjoyable read at any time of the year. I have enjoyed Alex Pine’s writing style and look forward to book 2 in this series.

Kindle edition only 99p (at time of posting)

happy reading 🙂

Naughty Or Nice (Mills & Boon Dare) by Rachael Stewart @rach_b52 #BookReview

She’s setting the terms…

In business and pleasure!

Lucas Waring was my brother’s best friend—before he broke my heart and betrayed my family. Yet one glance from those dark, intense eyes, and that bolt of aching need returns. Now Lucas wants my business. But the nice Eva he knew is gone forever and naughty Eva wants her cake, and a taste of deliciously hot Lucas, too. Only my heart’s about to pull the biggest betrayal of all…

My review

Wow, if you need warming up this winter then you should definitely read this book!

At 28 years old Eva Beaumont is a successful businesswoman with her own company and seems to have it all. Until 31-year-old Lucas Waring, a highly successful businessman himself, strolls back into her life reminding her of what she has desired since she was 18 years old. He rejected her back then and she has never forgotten it. She hasn’t seen him since he was shunned from their family following a massive fall out years before. Ten years on, is he back to seek revenge…. Or is Lucas looking for something more than just a business relationship…. Does he even know himself….

I loved getting to know Eva and Lucas. The chemistry between them is blatantly obvious from the very beginning. I imagine Lucas is very easy on the eye 😉 It isn’t difficult to imagine why Eva finds him so alluring. She’s obviously a very beautiful lady too and her vulnerability, where Lucas is concerned, is endearing. She is naturally wary as he already broke her young heart once. There is also the feud between him and her family. What really did happen back then…. Is it enough to keep them apart?

Not for long!

A story of two people trying their best to fight their feelings for each other, to suit others, but failing spectacularly. There is such passion between these pages, which is sure to raise your temperature, but also true love and tenderness. Lucas knows his way around a woman’s body, but he is so sweet with Eva too. He adores her and they share a true connection with the potential for a lifetime of happiness.

I could barely read the last few pages for the tears in my eyes. A gorgeous read. I LOVED it!

If you love a steamy (hot is an understatement!) romance, then you will love this story too.

Many thanks to Rachael Stewart for my signed paperback which came as part of a fabulous giveaway prize!

happy reading! 🙂

The Man From U.N.D.E.A.D.’s Christmas Carol (An Agent Ward short story) by Darren Humphries #BookReview

” ‘Twas the night before Christmas and all over the house nothing was stirring … except Veronika making eggnog in the kitchen.”

So begins Agent Ward, The Man From U.N.D.E.A.D.’s strangest case yet.

Coming to the aid of an old … well someone he used to know anyway … Ward finds himself facing the demons of Christmas Past, Present and Future in a fight to save his life and those of the people he loves.

These are Christmas spirits of another kind.

The Man From U.N.D.E.A.D.’s Christmas Carol is a festive short story featuring many characters from the Man From U.N.D.E.A.D. novel series.

My review

I searched the word ‘Christmas’ on my kindle and found this gem of a short story which I apparently downloaded on 23rd December 2012! I’m not sure why I never got around to reading it that Christmas, but I am so glad I have this year. I loved it! It is hilarious!!

It’s basically Agent Ward in a bizarre version of A Christmas Carol.

 Just brilliant!

Darren Humphries is a new to me author, and I had no idea what to expect from this story. It is totally bonkers, completely unique and laugh out loud funny. I was highly entertained! Totally different to anything I usually read. A real breath of fresh air. I have downloaded book 1 from The Man From U.N.D.E.A.D series as I feel the need to get to know Agent Ward better.

happy reading 🙂

#Interview with #author Michael Ward @mikewardmedia

I have the pleasure of welcoming Mike Ward to Chat About Books today 🙂

Mike Ward (social media profile pic)

Dear Mike,

For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?

My name is Michael Ward. I’ve worked with words all my life, as a reporter, a journalism academic and a copywriter. ‘Rags of Time’ is my first venture into fiction – a historical murder mystery set in 17th century London on the eve of the English Civil War.

Where do you get your ideas from?

The people who lived in the 17th century – their hopes, fears, plans, prejudices, loves and losses.

Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?

One or two have elements of people I have known, which I think is inevitable as a writer.

How do you pick your characters’ names?

Quite carefully. Although it’s easy to avoid the Brooklyns and Britneys, there are a number of more run-of-the-mill first names that were not in common usage in the 17th century. I sometimes use the lists of passengers sailing to the New World in the 1600s – guaranteed to be authentic.

Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?

I start out with a central idea, what the book is about, and then devise a schematic to deliver the idea. That informs the story’s structure which finally develops into a (very) flexible chapter outline. Then it’s just a question of getting something on the page that I can work on, reshape, refine and, on occasion, throw away. 

Who are your top 5 favourite authors?

Hilary Mantel, Patrick O’Brian, CJ Sansom, Bernard Cornwell, Toby Clements.

If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Hilary Mantel. I would want to know the same as everyone else – how did she develop the brilliant immersive narrative that illuminates every page of her Cromwell trilogy?  

Were you a big reader as a child?

Not especially. I made good use of my local library but was just as happy playing football.

When did you start to write?

I started writing fiction about five years ago. Although I had been writing factual content for many years, it took me a long time to feel ready for fiction. I knew how difficult it would be, and I wasn’t disappointed!

Is there a book you wish you had written?

Wolf Hall

If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?  

In a Minute  (those who know me would get the joke)

If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?

Captain Jack Aubrey, the marvellous creation of Patrick O’Brian. I would get the Royal Navy’s permission for us to take coffee on the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth…and just watch his face.

Tell us a random fact about yourself

My first ever journalism interview was with Frank Zappa at the age of 16.

What are you working on right now?

The sequel to Rags of Time. It features more adventures for Tom Tallant and Elizabeth Seymour as London collapses into chaos and the outbreak of Civil War. Due out next March.

What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?

Sleep!

How can readers keep in touch with you?

They can follow me on Twitter @mikewardmedia or email me at mike@mikewardmedia.com.

I love hearing from readers and getting feedback on my books.

Is there anything else you would like us to know?

That Vivian Stanshall was a comic genius. I never miss an opportunity to share that knowledge.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Mike 🙂

‘A satisfying, brooding mystery set in Stuart England anticipating the coming Civil War.’ Paul Walker, author of State of Treason

London.

1639.

Thomas Tallant, a young and ambitious Spice Merchant, returns from India to find his city in turmoil.

A bitter struggle is brewing between King Charles I and Parliament, as England slides into civil war. The capital is simmering with dissent. The conflict is ready to boil over.

But Thomas soon has other troubles to contend with. A wealthy merchant, Sir Joseph Venell, is savagely killed; then his partner Sir Hugh Swofford plunges to his death, in the Tallant household.

Suspicion falls on Thomas, who is sucked into a mire of treachery and rumour within the City of London. As the merchant struggles to clear his name, he becomes captivated by the enigmatic Elizabeth Seymour, whose passion for astronomy and mathematics is matched only by her addiction to the gaming tables.

Pursued by the authorities, Thomas races to unmask the real killer who claims a third victim to implicate him further, toying with his future in a deadly cat and mouse game.

In a desperate race against time, Elizabeth applies her powers of logic and deduction to unearth the clues that will point to the killer, but her way is barred by a secret message from the grave.

Can she crack its code before Thomas, now a wounded and exhausted fugitive, succumbs to the chase?

And, if she succeeds, has Thomas the strength to face his tormentor and win his life and reputation back?

Rags of Time is the first book in an engaging and entertaining new historical crime series, set during the upheaval of the 17th Century. Recommended for fans of Andrew Taylor, CJ Sansom and SJ Parris.

Praise for Michael Ward:

‘I loved it; a wickedly dark murder mystery set in Stuart London.’ Jemahl Evans, author of The Last Roundhead

Michael Ward is a former journalist and academic. He now runs his own consultancy providing content services and training to a wide range of British companies and public sector organisations.

happy reading 🙂

Hard To Kill (Roach, Book 1) by James P. Sumner @jpsbothbarrels #PublicationDay #BookReview

Happy Publication Day, James P. Sumner!

From the international bestselling author of the award-winning Adrian Hell series comes a relentless new thriller…

They left him for dead. Now the only thing he knows is revenge.

He wakes from a coma with no memory of who he is or what happened to him. When his past catches up to him, his only option is to run. Leaving a trail of bodies behind him — some innocent, some not — he disappears.

Time passes. His memories return. His past refuses to stay buried.

Unwillingly thrust into the middle of high stakes industrial espionage, he learns more about the events that cost him his identity… and almost his life. And when the people he cares about are threatened, he can no longer stay hidden. All he wants is to be left in peace, and he’s prepared to go to war to get it. But the more involved he gets, the harder it becomes to ignore the bigger threat. Can he look past his own quest for vengeance to see the real enemy?

This breathtaking new action thriller from James P. Sumner introduces a new hero who is sure to inject new life into the genre. A gripping page-turner that keeps you hooked from cover to cover, perfect for fans of Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne and Lee Child’s Jack Reacher!


Immerse yourself in James P. Sumner’s ground-breaking Thrillerverse:

1.1 — “Crossfire” (GlobaTech, Book 2)
1.2 — “Blowback” (Adrian Hell, Book 8)
1.3 — “Hard To Kill” (Roach, Book 1)

My review

Hard To Kill (Roach, Book 1)

James P. Sumner

(review written on 20th December 2020)

WOW! Hard To Kill is an explosive start to a new series! I LOVED it!

I love getting to know a new character, especially at the start of a new series as I know there will be more books to come. I can’t wait for book 2 in this series.

When we first meet Roach, he is in a coma, in a private hospital facility. It’s fairly obvious that this is no ordinary hospital, so I was instantly intrigued as to why I was being introduced to this man no-one seemed to know anything about and why he was where he was. When he wakes, he doesn’t remember anything about himself either and a doctor’s telephone call well, and truly, kicks the story off with an almighty bang.

I was as eager as Roach to find out who is, and why there are people seemingly wanting him dead.

When his memories are triggered all starts to fall in to place in his mind and he soon finds himself defending his own life and that of a loved one.

Roach isn’t your typical likable character, especially at the start as we know nothing about him. He definitely grew on me though! However, I certainly wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of him. He knows how to sort the bad guys out, even though they often know how to hold their own too. The fight scenes are awesome throughout this book! Brutal, but brilliant! Roach reminds me of John Wick. He never comes out unscathed, which I think makes it massively more realistic. An easy fight isn’t very exciting either at the end of the day, is it?

I enjoyed the fact that Roach is a flawed character who might know his way around a gun and isn’t scared of taking a life when he needs to, but he still loves his family and is clearly not amused when someone threatens one of his own. This concern does cloud his judgement on occasion which I think is only natural. It’s a different ball game than just having himself to worry about.

I thought the scene with his mother was really sad.

There are twists and turns galore throughout this story and it is an easy book to lose yourself in. Full of suspense, and breathtaking action with an ending which left me wanting more.

I highly recommend to any thriller lovers among you. Or indeed if you have never read a thriller before, or don’t consider yourself a fan. This might just change your mind!

Thank you to James P. Sumner for my ARC.

Out Now!

Available from James P. Sumner’s bookstore, and other retailers….

happy reading 🙂

Christmas at Conwenna Cove by Darcie Boleyn @DarcieBoleyn #BookReview

Christmas at Conwenna Cove

By Darcie Boleyn

@DarcieBoleyn

(review written on 19th December 2020)

Christmas at Conwenna Cove is an absolutely, gorgeous read!

I imagine I would have enjoyed it at any time of the year, but it has been an especially lovely read on the run up to Christmas.

When we first meet Grace, she is visiting Conwenna Cove helping her parents move into their new dream cottage. The family is from Cardiff, but her parents had always dreamed of living by the Cornish coast. Her father especially. As a family they have suffered a devastating loss which they will never get over but moving is the fresh start her parents need. Grace on the other hand has every intention of returning to her flat in Cardiff to continue her successful writing career. That is until a certain handsome vet called Oli turns her head. Oli also has suffered great loss though and struggles with his emotions.

I loved how Grace and Oli’s relationship develops, despite getting off on the wrong foot initially.  I was completely swept up in their story. The chemistry between them is undeniable but they both have pain in their pasts, and others to consider before giving in to their feelings. These feelings soon can’t be ignored though and those around them have certainly noticed the change in them both.

Could this Christmas lead to a completely new life for Grace? One she never imagined living.

This book is so full of lovable characters. I could totally imagine myself living in Conwenna Cove surrounded by lovely, supportive neighbours. There is something so appealing about a small, close knit community.

We would love to live by the coast too!

Such a gorgeous setting for a Christmas romance.

I love Hope. She sounds adorable. I’ve never had a greyhound, but they just have the sweetest faces, and I can imagine they are loyal and loving companions. She might just be my favourite character 😊

There is nothing I didn’t love about this book. It’s beautifully written and perfect for this time of year.

It’s currently FREE on kindle, so why not download it now and enjoy for yourself!?

A BIG thank you to Darcie for gifting me a gorgeous, signed paperback copy.

happy reading 🙂

Star of the North by D. B. John #bookreview

Star of the North

D. B. John

(review written on 13th December 2020)

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started Star of the North, and if I’m honest I wasn’t sure if it was going to be my cup of tea. I’m not really sure why, but something kept putting me off starting it. I am glad I finally did though, and I soon found myself immersed in the story.

Based on true events this story starts with the disappearance of a young American woman from a beach on a Korean Island. She is presumed dead, but this young woman has a twin sister who is convinced she is still alive and refuses to give up hope of finding her. What she goes through, and what she learns, in her pursuit of finding her sister is nothing short of horrifying.

This book is quite difficult to read at times to be quite honest, but the spirit and determination of some of the characters is quite inspirational. It is a compelling read which I would recommend. The way some people have to live, if you can even call it living, in other parts of this world is shocking and heart-wrenching. I have learned a lot by reading this story and it’s one I doubt I will forget any time soon.

The author obviously did extensive research whilst writing this book and he really knows his stuff. This shows throughout this book.

He does provide an overview, at the end, of which parts of the story are actual fact and provides extra reading recommendations for those wishing to know more about some of the events explored throughout this book.

Many thanks to the author and publisher for my review copy via Netgalley.

‘Extraordinary…smart, sophisticated, suspenseful – and important. If you try one new thing this year, make it Star of the North’ LEE CHILD

North Korea and the USA are on the brink of war.

A young American woman disappears without trace from a South Korean island.

The CIA recruits her twin sister to uncover the truth.

Now, she must go undercover in the world’s most deadly state.

Only by infiltrating the dark heart of the terrifying regime will she be able to save her sister…and herself.

‘Tense and compelling.’ James Swallow, Sunday Times bestselling author of NOMAD