Paris for One and other Stories by Jojo Moyes

parisThis is a book of short stories, two of them more novella length. It contains the following eleven tales: Paris for One, Between the Tweets, Love in the Afternoon, A Bird in the Hand, Crocodile Shoes, Holdups, Honeymoon in Paris, Last Year’s Coat, Thirteen Days with John C, Margot and The Christmas List.

They are stories about women and empowerment. They are also tales of love, desire and the imperfections of relationships.

Paris for One is all about Nell, a straight-laced shy young woman, who is stood up by her unreliable boyfriend. She ends up on a romantic trip to Paris by herself. Alone in a foreign country, dealing with an unknown language and the disappointment of not being important enough to her boyfriend for him to spend time with her in the city of romance.

It’s all about Nell discovering her inner mojo and comprehending that she is supposed to live life for herself and not in accordance with the expectations of others. Sometimes you have to take a risk and step outside of the box you yourself and others have put you in.

Moyes hits the right notes, and has the gift of gab and the gift of storytelling. Although emotions are laid bare and presented to the reader, which evokes a sense of empathy, there is also a strong layer of realism in the dialogue and scenarios. This stark contrast is what makes the stories relatable and memorable.

Buy Paris for One and other Stories at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

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Ashes Reborn by Keri Arthur

ashes rebornThe connection between Emberly and Jackson is one of the more intriguing elements of the story. Neither of them have any real idea how their fusion is going to evolve or whether there will be more negative or positive repercussions for either one of them.

Their strange partnership, and the odd new powers one of them seems to possess, have to take a back-seat so they can focus on a threat to the supernatural and human community. Rinaldo is willing to kill anyone and destroy anything to get his hands on any research relating to a plague-like virus. A virus that can drive the contaminated person to madness.

Arthur delivers a fast-paced fiery urban fantasy with strong characters and a story that ends with a hook so the readers will come back for the next book.

Arthur’s Riley Jenson urban fantasy series is outstanding, and doesn’t get as much attention as it should. She has a flair for innovative ideas and strong female leads. Her Souls of Fire series offers readers both of these elements.

Buy Ashes Reborn at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Winter Halo by Keri Arthur

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Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben

dont let goAre there some secrets that should be left buried and forgotten? This is the real question when it comes to this story.

Nap is obsessed with finding out the truth about the death of his twin brother Leo. His death was so unexpected and sudden that over a decade later Nap still hasn’t come to terms with it, especially because his own girlfriend disappeared into thin air on the same night.

Now she has suddenly made a reappearance he also takes note of the strange things happening to other old high-school friends. Is there something more nefarious going on other than random acts of violence and disturbances, which just happen to be connected to said old friends.

How well do we really know any person, even when you have a tight connection like twins. Everyone has secrets or personality traits they keep hidden from certain people. Thinking that his brother was nothing less than perfect is clouding his view of the facts.

Coben combines a fast-paced thriller with strong emotional undertones to create a read which may make you ponder the advantages of raking up the past.

Sometimes it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie. At least that way one can maintain some semblance of a facade for others, and more importantly for our or their own peace of mind. Like I said it is an interesting combo of conspiracy and moral of the story tale.

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Fatal Masquerade by Vivian Conroy

Fatal MasqueradeThe cosy mystery is often delegated to the inconsequential, fluffy and comfortable read shelf. It simply isn’t given its dues. It is actually a really popular sub-genre of the crime and mystery genre.

Not everyone wants to read brutal psychological stories that mess with your head and make your little grey cells ask for a break, although admittedly I love those a lot.

Some readers want the eloquence and eccentricities of Christie-like characters combined with the quirky scenarios of Beaton, witty reads that leave you with a smile.

Conroy delivers the kind of characters you remember and enjoy. An ode to Tuppence and Tommy, but perhaps a little less suave and with a lot more cheek.

In this fourth book in the Lady Alkmene Mystery series, the reader is spoilt with choices of possible culprits, which means the amateur detectives have to work a lot harder to discover who did the deed.

Lady Alkmene accompanies her friend to a masquerade ball, which becomes a wee bit more serious when a dead body turns up and the hostess and her family become the main suspects.

If you’re looking for a bit of mystery, a dead body now and again, and a set of colourful characters then you should give Conroy a try.

Buy Fatal Masquerade by Vivian Conroy at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Rubies in the Roses by Vivian Conroy

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Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell

Fools-and-Mortals-200x307Kudos to Cornwell for giving the works of Shakespeare their dues, especially A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He dissects the piece, as if it were the hottest new reality-soap in town. Leaving the historical references and importance of Shakespeare’s work aside for a moment, what remains are emotional roller-coasters for the masses. Shakespeare gives us drama, laughter, tears,violence and death. His plays were live television.

Cornwell is an excellent storyteller. The reader becomes so transfixed by the unfolding drama, and drawn in by the strong characters, that you almost forget everything is taking place in the Elizabethan era.

The story is about William and Richard Shakespeare, and their sibling rivalry. At the same time it is also about the existing rivalries between the various playhouses. An original play or new script is worth its weight in gold. People will pay good money to watch a new play being performed. It’s quite interesting to note how many new scripts playwrights had to come up with in such a short period of time to entertain not only the masses, but also the upper echelon of society, including the queen.

Richard struggles with the fact his brother seems to see him either as a hindrance or a complete failure. He wants acknowledgement of his talent and perhaps even an apology for being handed to the wolves by his brother. At the moment he is  always automatically picked to play the role of the pretty woman, because he is known for his striking looks. The kind of appealing physical appearance that tends to be noticed by the wrong people.

I really enjoyed it. I was expecting a story filled with heavy historical references. Instead it is a witty light-hearted entertaining read, which still manages to portray the hardships, the danger, the paranoia and the fear in that particular era, and the way of life in London.

Cornwell combines his talent for historical fiction with his concise knowledge of Shakespeare, which of course makes this a double-treat for bookworms with a penchant for both history and the works of the bard.

Buy Fools and Mortals at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

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The Ghosts of Galway by Ken Bruen

the ghosts of GalwayBruen has a very specific style when it comes to his Jack Taylor books. They are in your face coarse, gritty and hardcore realistic or rather the character of Jack Taylor is.

Jack always seems to walk on the thin line between abiding by the law and breaking it, well he tends to lean more towards the latter, especially when it comes to protecting those in his bubble. Not that they are always grateful, but then again perhaps they take lessons in etiquette and being polite from Jack.

His nemesis, strangely enough, is a bizarre combination of seductive temptress, a complete and utter fruitcake, and a ruthless player in this game of ghosts. Jack never seems to be able to decide which category to place her in.

As I mentioned above, Bruen has a distinctive writing style, which is staccato like and abrupt. Despite that he still manages to fill the story with important national and international topics, ranging from pseudo celebrities, fraudulent medical systems to Brexit and terrorism.

It is done in a subtle and witty way, and there are also often imperceptible nods in a certain direction, and off the cuff remarks. It’s almost like experiencing the thought and speech processes of the main character in real-time. It has a noirish quality to it, coarse and brutal, which is what gives it a strong sense of realism.

Buy The Ghosts of Galway at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

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Blog-Tour: Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir

Today it is my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir. Snare is a fresh, gritty walk through life and crime as we know it in the 21st century.

About the Author 

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Schweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykavik with her partner.

Follow @lilja1972  Visit liljawriter.com

Buy Snare

About the book

After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling tp provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies.

Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath the Icelandic financial crash.

Set in a Reykjavik still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

Review

It’s kind of ironic that Sonja makes such an excellent drug smuggler. Her planning is meticulous and she seems to be able to out-think the border control by ten steps every time. If left to her own devices she could probably run the whole set-up herself.

There is no doubt that Snare is a well executed crime story, however it is so much more. Sigurdardóttir has created a layered literary cake with a variety of topics, which will appeal to a multitude of readers. The divorce and the custody battle, the complexity of the snare itself and the topic of homosexuality.

Like many women Sonja finds herself in a position of vulnerability after her husband catches her in flagrante with her lover and demands a divorce. He, and society, believes she is at fault and is an unfit mother because her lover is a female. It begs the question whether she allows herself to be treated like a sub-human because she believes the same thing or just because of her guilty conscience.

Either way she finds herself in financial difficulty, which then makes her a target and she ends up trying to make enough money to get her young son back where he belongs. She is willing to go to any length to get custody, a part of the story many readers will identify with. You never know what you’re capable of until you’re pushed to your limits.

One of the really captivating elements of Snare is the relationship between Alga and Sonja, especially Alga and the rejection of her own emotions and sexuality. She is curious about the inner sanctum and secrets, and yet rejects it all with an equal level of passion. Her entire existence is a balancing act of what she believes she should want and what she really needs.

I really enjoyed the realism. This could happen to anyone, and the snare is explained really well. Being caught between a rock and a hard place. You either do it, commit a crime to achieve your hearts desire or you remain a law-abiding citizen and lose what you love the most. A lose-lose situation, so the reader can’t help but feel empathy for the criminal.

The other aspect, which I believe Sigurdardóttir has purposely written in a way that creates a dialogue, is how same gender sexual attraction is still a point of contention for some of those still discovering their sexuality and people who view it as something to feel guilty about.

Snare certainly has a noirish quality to it, however I think it is a strong and vivid Kodak moment of our modern times. It often makes for uncomfortable reading because it is easy to relate to the desperation of the main character, because when it comes down to it, Sonja could be any one of us.

Buy Snare at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

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