Review: The Redeemers by Ace Atkins

 

Title: The Redeemers {Quinn Colson #5}

Author: Ace Atkins

Published: GP Putnam July 2015

Status: Read from July 24th – 27th, 2015   – I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Review to come

He is only in his early thirties, but now Quinn Colson is jobless—voted out of office as sheriff of Tibbehah County, Mississippi, thanks to the machinations of county kingpin Johnny Stagg. He has offers, in bigger and better places, but before he goes, he’s got one more job to do—bring down Stagg’s criminal operations for good.
At least that’s the plan. But in the middle of the long, hot summer, a trio of criminals stage a bold, wall-smashing break-in at the home of a local lumber mill owner, making off with a million dollars in cash from his safe, which is curious, because the mill owner is wealthy—but not that wealthy. None of this has anything to do with Colson, but during the investigation, two men are killed, one of them the new sheriff. His friend, acting sheriff Lillie Virgil, and a dangerous former flame, Anna Lee Stevens, both ask him to step in, and reluctantly he does, only to discover that that safe contained more than just money—it held secrets.
Secrets that could either save Colson—or destroy him once and for all.”

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Blog Tour: A Time To Run by J.M. Peace

 

jm-peace-c-sheree-tomlinson-webI’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for debut novelist J.M. Peace today, introducing A Time To Run. 

An avid reader and writer from an early age, JM Peace wanted to be a writer. So she studied journalism figuring this would be a way of turning a passion into a job. Her career as a print journalist failed after a single year, and the experience completely sucked the joy out of writing for her. So she took a complete change of direction and became a police officer. Over the past 15 years, she has served throughout south-east Queensland in a variety of different capacities, including Intelligence and CIB. After her children were born, the dangers and stresses of the job made it unappealing. In the search for a new career path, she returned to her childhood dream. Carving a spare hour out of every day, she wrote the manuscript for A Time To Run whilst juggling her family commitments, police work and running a household. Jay currently lives on the Sunshine Coast with her partner, wrangling her two cheeky children, a badly behaved dog and an anti-social cockatiel.

Set in the Queensland bush, A Time to Run is a tense, gritty crime thriller featuring a cop-turned-victim and a chilling serial killer.

A GRUESOME GAME
A madman is kidnapping women to hunt them for sport.
A FRANTIC SEARCH
Detective Janine Postlewaite leads the investigation into the disappearance of Samantha Willis, determined not to let another innocent die on her watch.
A SHOCKING TWIST
The killer’s newest prey isn’t like the others. Sammi is a cop. And she refuses to be his victim.
A RUN FOR YOUR LIFE”

Please read on to learn more about J.M Peace and A Time to Run

*****

Why a Serial Killer?

My book involves a serial killer. I feel somehow inadequate by saying this. It seems like a bit of a cliché – that one murder is not enough these days, that you have to raise the body count. But it was the way the story unfolded and I’d like to explain why.

In my early twenties, I went backpacking around the world travelling solo a lot of the time. Yes, I used to hitchhike (shh, don’t tell my mum), and I put myself into some astoundingly stupid situations. If the wrong person had found me at the wrong time, things could have turned out very badly for me. It was before the days of email and global interconnectivity. I don’t know how long it would have been before I would have been reported as ‘missing’.

ivanmilat

Ivan Milat convicted of the Belangalo State Forest Murders

This was around about the same time that backpackers were being dispatched in Belanglo State Forest. When I got home nearly four years later, I read a bit about the Belanglo crimes. This is where the seed of the idea for this story began, with this question – what if it had been me? What if I had naively climbed into the wrong car and been taken out to some secluded forest by a psychopath? What would I have done? Could I have possibly survived it?

The story bounced around in my head for years. I used to dream up all sorts of possibilities. Could I have killed him? How? How could I have escaped? Who could find me? Could I trust them? These musings were still going on when became a police officer. This added a dimension to my ponderings. Would being a police officer give me an edge with my imaginary madman? What sort of advantage? What had I learnt as a cop which could help me?

After a few failed attempts at writing children’s stories, I realised I should be writing crime. And in a bit of a light bulb moment, I realised this story that I had been prodding at for years was the one I should write. It was just a matter of choosing which storyline was most engaging and believable. And so A Time To Run was born. The plot was pretty much in place before I even sat down at a keyboard. As I wrote the dual storylines of the abduction and the investigation, I’d switch between my backpacker experiences and my police officer experiences. But the question I’d ask myself was the same – “what would I do?”

I’ve written the sequel to this book and the plot for a third in the series exists. The body count is steadily dropping with each subsequent book. The serial killer idea has been done now and it’s not one I intend on revisiting. But this was how A Time To Run came into existence.

*****

Want to know more? Follow the tour!

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Review: Fast and Loose by Nicholas J Johnson

 

Title: Fast and Loose

Author: Nicholas J Johnson

Published: Simon & Schuster July 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from July 11 to 15, 2015 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the author/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Fast and Loose is an entertaining sequel to Nicholas J Johnson’s first novel, Chasing The Ace.

It begins around a year after Joel Fitch, a young, wannabe grifter, and Richard Mordecai, his world-weary con ‘artiste’ mentor, have parted ways. Joel has fled Melbourne and is sharing a flat with his father in Sydney when he is identified by a former mark, tabloid news producer Danny Hemming. Hemming, angling for a promotion, blackmails Joel into starring in a series of on camera exposé’s, showing the public how easily they can be conned by an accomplished swindler. But whom exactly is conning who?

“Victors. Villains. Victims. Once you figure out which one your target is, the rest falls into place.”

As the novel unfolds from the alternating perspectives of Joel and Danny, you can never be sure where the truth really lies in this fast paced story of secrets, betrayal, swindles and surprises.

Joel, who claims to have retired, seems to be floundering, as Hemming, chasing ratings, demands ever increasingly ‘flashy’ stings, progressing from conning university students in a mystery shopper scam, to swindling a bunch of drug dealers and exposing an insider trader scheme, in which Joel’s dad is involved.

There is action, humour, suspense and plenty of twists in the complex plot. The ‘cons’ are clever, and a little scary. The author draws on his own knowledge and experience as an expert on fraud and deception to show just how easily people can be fooled, and how often we deceive ourselves.

Though Fast and Loose can be read as a stand alone, I’d recommend reading Chasing the Ace first. A quick and entertaining novel, I enjoyed Fast and Loose…you believe me, don’t you?

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Review: Friday On My Mind by Nicci French

Title: Friday On My Mind {Frieda Klein #5}

Author: Nicci French

Published: Michael Joseph: Penguin July 2015

Read an Extract

Status: Read on July 11, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

I launched into Friday On My Mind, book five of the Freida Klein series by Nicci French, directly after finishing Thursday’s Children.

Fast paced and tense this is another page turning installment of the series. In Friday On My Mind, Frieda is accused of murder when the body of her ex lover, Sandy is found floating in the Thames, his throat slit. While the police focus their investigation on Frieda, she immediately suspects her obsessive stalker, Dean Reeve, is responsible and unable to convince the police of her innocence, goes on the run, determined to expose the killer and clear her name.

Frieda is of course expecting her search for evidence will lead her to prove Dean Reeve is alive and culpable, but as she delves into Sandy’s recent past, she begins to wonder if someone else could be responsible. In her methodical and fearless way Frieda insinuates into the lives of those closest to Sandy, doggedly hunting his killer all while trying to keep a low profile but as the mystery unfolds a shocking twist proves the murderer is closer than she thinks. Even though Frieda manages to stay one step ahead of the police, a reckoning with the killer has consequences for all of them, both deadly and unexpected.

“‘That’s part of Freida’s problem. She doesn’t want to get off. She wants the truth.'”

Though Frieda is determined to protect her loyal friends from the fall out of the case, they rally to support her, even when it puts them at risk of prosecution. Karlsson in particular faces trouble when he defends Freida against the vindictive police commissioner and his pet psychiatrist. Josef shrugs off threats of deportation, doing everything he can to aid Frieda’s fight, and even the emotionally fragile Sasha doesn’t hesitate to offer her refuge.

“‘I just follow where the evidence leads me, and in this case the evidence suggests that where Frieda Klein goes a trail of chaos follows. What her precise role in this happens to be has always been difficult to pin down. As you will probably discover, Frieda Klein also has some strange associates. How these things happen, I don’t pretend to know, but they happen, and they continue to happen'”

I’m looking forward to learning what happens next.

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Review: Thursday’s Children by Nicci French

 

Title: Thursday’s Children

Author: Nicci French

Published: Michael Joseph Penguin March 2014

Read an Extract

Status:  Read from July 09 to 11, 2015 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

The fourth book by Nicci French (the pseudonym for husband and wife team Nicci Gerard and Sean French) to feature Frieda Klein forces the enigmatic psychotherapist to confront the demons of her own past when an old classmate begs her to help her troubled daughter.

“Don’t think of telling anyone sweetheart. Nobody will believe you.”

When fifteen year old Becky reveals she was raped in her own bed, Frieda is stunned by the similarities to her own experience as a teenager, twenty three years before. Compelled to investigate the link, Frieda returns to her hometown of Braxton where she reconnects with her both her estranged mother, and her high school peer group in search of answers.

Thursday’s Children is another enjoyable psychological thriller offering plenty of drama and intrigue as Frieda tracks down a murderous rapist who has evaded detection for more than two decades.

The setting of Thursday’s Children is also an opportunity for the author to expose the roots of Frieda’s cold and reserved demeanour, often remarked upon by readers. When Frieda returns to Braxton she reluctantly visits her mother, and her interaction with the woman who raised her provides important insight into the psychotherapist’s personality.

“‘There are things I’ve run away from all my life. My father’s death. My rape. Things that happened after. But it seems as though I’ve run in a perfect circle and I’m back with it again. In the thick of it.'”

While Freida grapples with her past, her loyal friends, Josef, Reuben, and Karlsson among them, rally to support her, even though Frieda is as always determinated to go it alone. The only element of the storyline that had me puzzled was Frieda’s seemingly sudden rejection of Sandy, I could guess at the psychology of it but it was rather abrupt and I still can’t quite make sense of it.

Unsurprisingly, in the background of Thursday’s Children, lurks Dean Reeve, the murderous sociopath obsessed with Frieda. He is never far from Freida’s awareness and as the series is at the midway point, a final confrontation between the pair approaches.

I couldn’t recommend Thursday’s Child as a stand alone read but for fans of the Frieda Klein series, it is an unmissable installment. I’m excited to move straight on to book 5, Friday On My Mind.

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Review: The Homestead Girls by Fiona McArthur

9780143799825

 

 

Title: The Homestead Girls

Author: Fiona McArthur

Published: Penguin June 2015

Status: Read from June 24 to 27, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Fiona McArthur’s, The Homestead Girls, is a heartwarming story of friendship, courage and compassion set in the outback of NSW.

In The Homestead Girls, Soretta Byrnes is struggling to keep her grandparent’s farm solvent in the drought, especially after her grandfather is badly injured in an accident, so when it’s suggested that she accept some boarders as a way to earn extra income, she agrees, determined to save Blue Hills Station.
Soretta is quickly joined by Daphne Prince, a flight nurse with the Royal Flying Doctor Service, eager to help the battling farmer; Dr Billie Green, with her rebellious teenage daughter in tow, who has returned to her hometown of Mica Ridge to fulfill a childhood dream by taking up a position with the RFDS; and eighty year old widow Lorna Lamerton, looking for company.
Despite their differences, the unlikely housemates soon become close friends, finding strength, support and happiness in their relationships with one another as they face a myriad of challenges.

I liked all the women in The Homestead Girls and delighted in their growing friendship. They all benefit from their living arrangements in both practical and emotional ways.

With such a large primary cast I did find some elements of the story a little underdeveloped. I’m not sure, for example, that the subplot involving Billie and her ex husband added anything to the story overall, the confrontation between the pair was anti-climatic and quickly overshadowed by following events.
Though there is romance in The Homestead Girls, for both Billie and Daphne, it doesn’t overwhelm the story. With both Billie and Daphne having been deeply hurt in past relationships they are wary of involvement and their romances with their respective partners, Morgan and Rex, develop slowly, though Daphne’s has been a long time coming.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service is an invaluable resource in regional Australia and McArthur highlights their stellar work in The Homestead Girls. The RFDS provides numerous services to outback communities from running immunisation and antenatal clinics in remote areas, to dealing with emergencies such as snakebites, heart attacks and vehicular accidents. I really enjoyed learning more about what it’s like to work for the service and reading about the team’s varied medical experiences.

An uplifting story of friendship and romance, The Homestead Girls is a lovely read I’d be happy to recommend.

CLICK HERE to read more about the inspiration for the setting of The Homestead Girls in Fiona’s guest post published earlier today.

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Review: The Forsaken by Ace Atkins

 

Title: The Forsaken { Quinn Colson #4}

Author: Ace Atkins

Published: Corsair: Murdoch Books June 2015

Status: Read from June 21 to 22, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

This is the fourth installment of Ace Atkin’s crime fiction series featuring former Army Ranger Quinn Colson, now Sheriff of Tebbehah County in rural northeast Mississippi.

The Forsaken begins a few short months after the tornado that devastated the county as Quinn and his deputy, Lillie, are faced with possible charges for the dramatic confrontation in The Broken Places that left a corrupt sheriff and his deputy from another county dead, and over $200,000 in cash from a decades old armoured car robbery missing.

It’s no surprise that Johnny Stagg is behind the investigation into the shooting but his motive is. It seems Stagg’s past is about to catch up with him and, needing Colson on his side for this particular battle, he has concocted an elaborate scheme to ensure Quinn’s support.

Doing his best to ignore Stagg’s machinations, which isn’t doing his chances for re-election as Sheriff any good, Colson is drawn into investigating a decades old cold case involving the rape and murder of a young girl, and the subsequent lynching of the black man accused of committing the crime. Finding evidence that the man was innocent, Colson is determined to identify the men and bring the members of the lynching party to justice.

The narrative moves between the past and the present, and once again, Colson’s professional and personal life become tangled when he learns that both his uncle, the former town Sheriff, and his absentee father, were most likely involved in the crime.

As I have come to expect, the dialogue is genuine, the humour quick and there is enough action to keep things interesting. The rural setting is well drawn and the details authentic. The characters are terrifically well drawn, often deeply flawed but interesting and nuanced.

Though The Forsaken could conceivably be read as a stand alone, I wouldn’t recommend it as familiarity with the primary characters and their history adds depth to the story. I continue to enjoy this gritty series and I’m looking forward to reading The Redeemers.

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Review: The Unbroken Line by Alex Hammond

 

 

Title: The Unbroken Line {Will Harris #2}

Author: Alex Hammond

Published: Viking Penguin Au June 2015

Read an Excerpt on Book’d Out

Status: Read from June 21 to 24, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

The Unbroken Line is Alex Hammond’s second legal thriller featuring defence lawyer Will Harris, following on from his Ned Kelly Award nominated debut, Blood Witness.

Will is still dealing with both the personal and professional consequences of the events in Blood Witness, when he and girlfriend Eva are brutally attacked by two masked men. They have a message for Will from their anonymous employer – back off. Angry and confused, Will has no idea what the men are referring to, but now he is determined to find out, and unwittingly becomes the target of a deadly conspiracy, headed by Melbourne’s elite.

With a well crafted and complex plot, The Unbroken Line is a fast paced story of corruption, violence, conspiracy and vengeance. As Will searches for answers to the attack on he and Eva, he must also defend his new law firm partner, barrister Chris Miller, when he is arrested for negligent homicide, prevent a judge’s teenage son from being charged with manslaughter, and repay his debt to the Ivanics family, all whilst under investigation by the Legal Commissioner for ethics breaches related to his actions in Blood Witness. With some surprising twists, Hammond reveals the links between these seemingly unrelated threads developing an exciting multi-layered storyline.

Will is an appealing protagoinist, flawed but intelligent, with a strong sense of justice. Under siege professionally, Will is faring no better in his personal life. He is still struggling to recover from the debilitating physical effects of the vicious stabbing that left him near dead in Blood Witness, and Eva, traumatised and scarred by the masked men’s attack, flee’s to New York. Though The Unbroken Line could be read as a stand alone, I’d recommend readers begin with Blood Witness, which establishes his relationships with Eva, Chris and several of the other other characters that appear in both novels.

I enjoyed The Unbroken Line, it is a well crafted and gripping legal thriller. Perfect for fans of John Grisham and Michael Connelly.

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Review: After We Fall by Emma Kavanagh

9781492609193-PR

 

 

Title: After We Fall

Author: Emma Kavanagh

Published: Sourcebooks Landmark June 2015

Status: Read on June 15, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

From the sky above South Wales a plane falls, on a snowy river bank below, a woman’s body lies.

Unfolding from the perspectives of four characters, After We Fall by Emma Kavanagh (first published as Falling) is a multi-layered story of low key psychological suspense.

Flight attendant Cecelia, who that morning had resolved to leave her husband and son, is one of only a handful of survivors of the crash, wondering why she lived when so many didn’t.

Freya is the 24 year old daughter of the plane’s pilot, determined to protect her family from the horrifying suggestion that her father deliberately caused the crash.

Frustrated with his wife, police detective Tom throws himself into the investigation of the murder of PCSO Libby Hanover.

Jim, a retired police superintendent, is the dead woman’s devastated father.

As the protagonists each grapple with their private tragedies, the plot follows the investigation into the doomed plane alongside the investigation of Libby Hanover’s murder, slowly uncovering shocking connections between the two incidents.

Informed by her extensive career experience in psychology, Kavanagh creates four complex, though not always likeable, characters struggling with difficult pasts and complicated relationships, whom drive the narrative of this novel. All become entangled in the mystery that surrounds both the downed plane and the murdered woman, in both direct and indirect ways, as the author skillfully weaves the multiple threads together.

After We Fall is an impressive debut novel, an atmospheric and tense tale.

 

CLICK HERE for an exclusive excerpt and guest post from the author posted earlier today

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Weekend Cooking: The Best Homemade Kid’s Snacks on the Planet

wkendcooking

I’ve decided to make the Weekend Cooking meme, hosted by Beth Fish Reads a semi-regular post at Book’d Out.

****

Title: The Best Homemade Kids’ Snacks on the Planet: More than 200 Healthy Homemade Snacks You and Your Kids Will Love

Author: Laura Fuentes

Published: Fair Winds Press: Murdoch Books June 2015

Status: Read on June 13, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

The Best Homemade Snacks on the Planet contains more than 200 recipes designed to tempt toddlers, children and perhaps even teenagers to snack on wholesome homemade treats.

baked-items-best-snacksMy copy of The Best Homemade Snacks on the Planet is a large format softcover. The recipes are generally presented two to a page. Though there are full page colour photographs every few pages, not all recipe results are pictured. Both metric and imperial measurements are provided, as are yield amounts.

In the first chapter you will find time-saving tips, storage solutions, information about allergies, ingredient substitutions, and Laura Fuentes ‘Snacking Rules’.

The Recipes are sorted into seven chapters titled Fruit and Veggie Snacks, No-Bake Bites and Dips, Baked Bites, Reimagined Classics, Mini Meals, Super Smoothies and Drinks and lastly, Frozen Delights and Special Treats.

Simple to prepare and serve, using largely fresh and easy to source ingredients, recipes include Crunchy Berry Salad; Chocolate Avocado Pudding; Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bites; Cheese Crackers; Ninja Turtle Nuggets and Elvis Shakes.

I’ve bookmarked several snacks to try, and plan to my involve my children in making them, starting with this simple

Three-Ingredient Peanut Butter Pudding

1 banana, sliced
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup plain yoghurt

Combine the peanut butter and yoghurt in a blender til smooth. Add the banana slices and blend just until smooth. Refrigerate or serve immediately. Serves 4

The final pages of the cookbook includes a Feedback Chart, allowing you or your child/ren to rate and make notes for each recipe.mini-meals-best-snacks

The Best Homemade Snacks on the Planet offers a practical collection of snack recipes with plenty of appeal for a child’s fussy palette. While this would be the perfect gift for any busy mother, the recipes could also appeal to adults who enjoy healthy snacks and treats.

Visit the author’s website for additional recipes, instructional videos and more.

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