Thursday, 20 August 2015

Review: Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

Sherlock Holmes is dead. 

Days after Holmes and his arch-enemy Moriarty fall to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls, Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase arrives in Europe from New York. The death of Moriarty has created a poisonous vacuum which has been swiftly filled by a fiendish new criminal mastermind who has risen to take his place.

Ably assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard, a devoted student of Holmes's methods of investigation and deduction, Frederick Chase must forge a path through the darkest corners of the capital to shine light on this shadowy figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, a man determined to engulf London in a tide of murder and menace.

I absolutely loved Horowitz's first Sherlock Holmes novel The House of Silk, and so was very excited when I finally got my hands on this. I was initially disappointed to discover how little Holmes appeared in the book - and what kind of Holmes novel is narrated by someone other than Watson!? But Frederick Chase soon drew me into his story, as he and Jones became a sort of detective duo themselves. The reader is taken on a journey into the grim underworld of Victorian London, a world that Horowitz brings to life every bit as well as the great Conan Doyle ever did. Then, just as you think you know what's going on, BAM! There comes the mother of all twists! I have to admit that I had sort of suspected it, but the way it was revealed certainly took me by surprise that's all I'm saying. As always Anthony Horowitz is a master of his craft, and he remains one of my favourite authors - you have no idea how excited I am for his upcoming James Bond novel Trigger Mortis. Moriarty is brilliantly written and a very clever concept, it was just hoping for more Holmes.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Review: The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah

Hercule Poirot's quiet supper in a London coffee house is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified, but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.

Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at the fashionable Bloxham Hotel have been murdered, a cufflink placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim…

I'm ashamed to admit that I have read very little Agatha Christie, although I am a big fan of the TV adaptations, especially Poirot. I've been eager to read this since I first heard about it last year - it's a very brave move taking on such an iconic character written by such a beloved author and I was interested to see what Sophie Hannah had achieved. The character of the great Belgian detective was written very well - I could actually hear David Suchet's voice in my head while I was reading. One thing that must be lost in translation from book to screen (for I'm told this is true for the Christie novels as well) is how frustrating a character he actually is. Refusing to let you in to his thoughts and theories until his theatrical 'big reveal' and constantly slighting the intellect of those around him - I certainly wouldn't want to work with him! Catchpool made for an interesting narrator - there was something a little Holmes and Watson like about his relationship with Poirot and his writing down of the story. Although how he knew so much detail about the events that he wasn't actually present for is beyond me, and he's awfully squeamish for a police officer! He's not the sharpest tool in the box either - I cottoned on to Poirot's hints and clues before him many a time. Although the list of suspects is relatively small by Christie standards I didn't predict the ending, and the plot is full of twists to keep you hooked - I couldn't put it down! Rest assured that I will be reading some of the original Poirot novels in the very near future, and I would be interested to read more from Sophie Hannah.

It's interesting to note that my mum, a lifelong Christie devotee, initially didn't like this book and gave up after the first few chapters. After I said that I had enjoyed it she gave it another go, and couldn't put it down! She said that the solution, while very clever, was a little confusing and drawn out but all in all she was impressed. It clearly doesn't come close to the originals for her, but as a detective story in its own right it is definitely worth reading, whether you are a Christie fan or not!

Friday, 14 August 2015

Review: Kit by Marina Fiorato

As regular readers of my blog may have noticed, every once in a while a book comes along that I can't stop raving about. Last year it was The Illusionists by Rosie Thomas. This year it's all about Kit.

Dublin 1702. Irish beauty Kit Kavanagh leads a comfortable life running a tavern with her beloved husband Richard. But everything changes one night when Richard is taken for a solider. Not content to sit at home and wait for news Kit disguises herself as a man, and, taking her late father's sword with her, enlists in the Duke of Marlborough's regiment and follows Richard to war-torn Italy. As Kit risks her life in battle she soon forms a bond with her regiment, the Scots Greys Dragoons, particularly with her handsome commander Captain Ross. When a duel lands her in prison she escapes by dressing once more as a woman, soon catching the eye of the scheming Duke of Ormonde who recruits her to masquerade as a French countess and spy upon the enemy. Torn between Captain Ross and her husband, with two false identities to her name, Kit's greatest danger is discovery...

My love affair with Kit began the second I first saw the cover, it's just stunning! Then I read the blurb - it sounded like some kind of Irish Mulan and I was immediately intrigued. It's been a while since I've had time to read a book that I can fully immerse myself in, and this fitted the bill nicely. I don't know what it is about the book that grabbed me so - the plot, the settings and the characters all just had me hooked. The attention to detail is perfect, and you can easily picture the changing landscapes and characters of Kit's journey without being overwhelmed with information.

Kit is everything I wish I could be. She is brave with an unquenchable thirst for adventure (not to mention that fact that I'm jealous of her hair!) She drew me completely into her story, and while I didn't want it to end I was also anxious about whether she would get a happy ending, so much so that it was a real struggle not to read ahead! The novel is split into two parts, 'The Sword' and 'The Fan', each detailing one of Kit's identities - the soldier and the lady respectively. Despite all of the acting that each role requires, the costumes, the accents and the mannerisms, we as the reader never lose sight of the real Kit, the girl beneath it all.

As for Ross.. I knew from the minute that we first meet him that I was going to love him. I loved the moments between him and Kit at the fireside, how he drew maps on the ground to help bring the reader up to speed as much as Kit. I loved how he loved his men, how he was their comrade as much as their Captain. I just loved him. Sigh.

Action and dialogue are balanced just right, and thankfully for me the battle scenes, while realistic, aren't too graphic- I'm incredibly squeamish and gore can put me right off a book. The plot is full of twists and is unpredictable to the last - I couldn't put it down!

The ending was just perfect, and I have to admit that the epilogue almost had me in tears - which is a big admission for someone who has never cried at a book, ever! It was also a wonderful surprise to find the historical note at the end telling me that Kit was a real person. Granted, a little artistic license was taken with her story, but there were more similarities than I would have expected, and to know that she, and Ross, actually existed just made the whole thing even more real to me. Fiorato also named the rest of the Dragoons after the men on her local war memorial which I just thought was such a lovely thing to do!

If you were to take everything that I love from historical romance and historical fiction and put it all in one book it would resemble something very much like this. Kit is the best book that I have read in a very long time, and is easily one of my all time favourite historical novels!

5/5 stars - and I'd give it more if I could!

*Thanks to bookbridgr for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a review!*

Monday, 10 August 2015

Review: The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice

*Thanks to Bookbridgr for my beautiful signed edition of this book!*

Penelope longs to be grown-up and to fall in love; but various rather inconvenient things keep getting in her way. Like her mother, a stunning but petulant beauty widowed at a tragically early age, her younger brother Inigo, currently incapable of concentrating on anything that isn't Elvis Presley, a vast but crumbling ancestral home, a severe shortage of cash, and her best friend Charlotte's sardonic cousin Harry...

Oh I just adored this book! There's no emotional rollercoaster, no shocking plot twists, simply an enchanting coming of age story that in every way deserves the title of 'modern vintage classic'. It is truly captivating, beautifully written, and I became so attached to the characters that I was loathed to leave them at the end. I'm told that there are echoes of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle here, which I have to admit I've never read, but if it's anything like this then I fully intend to! To call this novel 'nice' or 'charming' would be to patronise it, for although these are fitting adjectives it is so much more than that. Eva Rice draws the reader completely into the world of Penelope Wallace, her beautifully eccentric mother, her crumbling ancestral home of Milton Magna which is a character in itself, the heady romance of her teenage crush on Johnnie Ray, and her first experience of love. An all time favourite already!

Friday, 7 August 2015

Blog Tour / Giveaway: Just Like Rebecca by Tilly Tennant

Phoebe’s new role at work is keeping her busier than ever. Just as she’s finding her feet, however, new boss, Dixon, lands a bombshell: Hendry’s toy store is in dire financial straits and it’s up to him and Phoebe to save it. This isn’t exactly what she signed up for and she’s going to need all the help she can get. So it’s a pity that the only help she has comes in the form of Midnight, her purple-haired colleague who wouldn’t know an employee rule-book if it slapped her in the face…

At home, Jack’s brother, Archie, and their mum, Carol, seem determined to make Phoebe’s life hell, however hard she tries. And now Jack seems to have a new rival too: Adam Hendry, slick heir to the Hendry’s empire, who is making it very clear he’d like to involve Phoebe in a hostile takeover. Just how far will he go to get what he wants?

Buy Links: Amazon UK

I loved the first installment of this series, Little Acts of Love, and this follow up doesn't disappoint! The Mishaps in Millrise series follows Phoebe and Jack through the trials and tribulations of a relationship in the real world - pressure at work, family troubles, and in the case of Just Like Rebecca, meeting the parents. Splitting the story into novellas like this is a great idea, they're just long enough for you to read in one sitting - though they do leave you wanting more! To be honest I don't get the appeal with Jack yet - maybe I need to read Mishaps and Mistletoe (the novella where Phoebe and Jack first get together) to fall for him like Phoebe has. I'm certainly interested to see what's going to happen with the Adam Hendry situation! Midnight is still my favourite character, she's just delightfully wacky - and Maria is adorable. An easy read written in Tilly Tennant's signature warm and witty style - I'm looking forward to the next installment!

You can check out my review for the first part of the series, Little Acts of Love, here!

About the Author
Tilly Tennant was born in Dorset, the oldest of four children, but now lives in Staffordshire with a family of her own. After years of dismal and disastrous jobs, including paper plate stacking, shop girl, newspaper promotions and waitressing (she never could carry a bowl of soup without spilling a bit), she decided to indulge her passion for the written word by embarking on a degree in English and creative writing, graduating in 2009 with first class honours. She wrote her first novel in 2007 during her first summer break at university and has not stopped writing since. She also works as a freelance fiction editor, and considers herself very lucky that this enables her to read many wonderful books before the rest of the world gets them.

Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn was her debut novel; published in 2014 it was an Amazon bestseller in both the UK and Australia. It was followed by Mishaps and Mistletoe and The Man Who Can't Be Moved. Find out more about Tilly and how to join her mailing list for news and exclusives at  

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Monday, 3 August 2015

Blog Tour: To Tame the Wind by Regan Walker

04_To Tame the Wind_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

ReganWalker_ToTametheWind - 800pxTo Tame the Wind by Regan Walker

Publication Date: May 9, 2015
Series: Agents of the Crown (Prequel)
Genre: Historical Romance  

 Paris 1782…AN INNOCENT IS TAKEN All Claire Donet knew was the world inside the convent walls in Saint-Denis. She had no idea her beloved papa was a pirate. But when he seized Simon Powell's schooner, the English privateer decided to take the one thing his enemy held most dear... her. A BATTLE IS JOINED The waters between France and England roil with the clashes of Claire's father and her captor as the last year of the American Revolution rages on the sea, spies lurk in Paris and Claire’s passion for the English captain rises.

Buy links: AMAZON

“A sea adventure like no other, a riveting romance!” -NY Times bestselling author Shirlee Busbee “Another exciting historical romance from Regan Walker” –NY Times Bestselling Author Virginia Henley
“I was hooked from the first page! Political intrigue, a bit of mystery and a beautifully developed romance that swept me from Paris to London and to the waters of the English Channel! Very, very, very well done!” –The Reading Cafe

I really loved this book! Any novel to do with pirates and sea captains is always a must-read for me anyway, and this is up there as one of the best. It is clear that Claire was never destined to be a nun - she is far too independent - and the swashbuckling Captain Powell is, of course, devilishly handsome. There is real chemistry between the two characters and I was really willing them to get their happy ever after. Regan Walker is a brilliant author. She transports you completely to another time and place, with characters that you can't help but love.

Masked balls, handsome sea captains, and a plot that will keep you hooked. What's not to love!? To Tame the Wind is romantic historical escapism at its finest - a historical romance fan's dream of a novel! 5/5 stars.

(You can check out my review of another of Regan Walker's novels,  The Twelfth Night Wager, here!)

03_Regan WalkerAbout the Author
Bestselling author Regan Walker loved to write stories as a child, particularly those about adventure-loving girls, but by the time she got to college more serious pursuits took priority. One of her professors encouraged her to pursue the profession of law, which she did. Years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government gave her a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the “Crown” on its subjects. Hence her romance novels often involve a demanding sovereign who taps his subjects for “special assignments.” And in each of her novels, there is always real history and real historic figures. Regan lives in San Diego with her golden retriever, Link, whom she says inspires her every day to relax and smell the roses. For more information please visit Regan Walker’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.