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Blog Tour & Review: Force of Nature

February 10, 2018 in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Crime, Mystery

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour & Review: Force of NatureForce of Nature by Jane Harper
Series: Aaron Falk #2
Published by Little Brown UK on 1st February 2018
Genres: Crime, Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged Giralang Ranges is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case - in just a matter of days she was to provide the documents that will bring down the company she works for.

Falk discovers that far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. But does it include murder?

I’m delighted to be one of a collection of bloggers on today’s stop on the #ForceofNature blog tour!

I’ve been very excited to read Jane Harper’s new novel, the second in her Aaron Falk series. After loving her debut, The Dry, last year and seeing it do so well, I couldn’t wait to read Force of Nature.

I was not disappointed. Harper has an incredible ability to put you right there in the story – it’s something that stood out to me in The Dry and is definitely the case in her latest Aaron Falk instalment.

We rejoin Falk a few months after the happenings of The Dry, back in Melbourne working on a case with a new partner, Carmen. Together they are collecting evidence of money laundering against the firm Bailey Tennants.

Their contact in the company, Alice Russell, has been working secretly to provide them with evidence. However, with the handover of the final key documents looming, Alice has gone missing on a Bailey Tennants corporate retreat.

The setting for most of this novel is the Giralang Ranges. This is where the team building retreat takes place – where two groups all male and all female set out to trek the bush, spending three nights in the great outdoors. However, when the female team arrive at the meeting point late and are missing their teammate Alice, a massive search and investigation begins.

Falk and Carmen find themselves in the ranges, aiding the local police and trying to find Alice. The area has a chilling history of its own, which adds to the fears of the team.

Harper transported me to the wet, winter, Bushlands of the Giralang Ranges. Her writing is so atmospheric, I’ve rarely felt so engaged with the setting of a novel. I swear, I was lying in my bed with the electric blanket on, but I felt the dampness of the bush, the soggy waterproofs and wet sleeping bag.

As for the story itself, I couldn’t stop reading! Harper switched between chapters with Falk as he tries to find Alice, and chapters with the female team and the story of their retreat. I found this to work really well, as we slowly uncover the truth.

Once again, I like Falk. He’s easy to relate to, flawed and all the more likeable for it. I did enjoy his partnership with Carmen, I thought it worked well and I hope we’ll see them work together again.  To my knowledge, there’s no mention of a third book yet but surely we’ll be treated to more of Aaron Falk in the near future.

This novel is so immersive, well written and hard to put down. I’ve no doubt that Force of Nature is going to prove every bit as successful as The Dry.

 

FYI – I’ve just noticed that Waterstones have signed copies available! Find them here (not an affiliate link).

five-stars

Review: Spare and Found Parts

February 5, 2018 in Book Reviews, Dystopian, YA Fantasy

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Spare and Found PartsSpare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin
Published by Titan on 6th February 2018
Genres: YA Fantasy, Dystopian
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Nell Crane has always been an outsider. In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs everyone now uses. But Nell is the only one whose mechanical piece is on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. As her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society’s good . . . but how can Nell live up to her father’s revolutionary idea when she has none of her own?

Then she finds a mannequin hand while salvaging on the beach—the first boy’s hand she’s ever held—and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city—and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.

I received a sampler of Spare and Found Parts a few months ago and must admit I was very intrigued, so I was delighted when Titan Books sent across a finished copy.

Spare and Found Parts is the story of Nell, a teenager living with her father in a post-apocalyptic version of Dublin. A century before, the ‘Turn’ happened, a great sickness that claimed many lives with computers being the source (somehow, I was never entirely clear how). The result is a world where many of the population are missing limbs, eyes – or in the case of Nell herself, a heart.

There are three rules in this post-Turn world

  1. The sick in the Pale, the healed in the Pasture.
  2. Contribute, at all cost.
  3. All code is blasphemy.

It’s a world where even to utter the word “computer” is rebellion.

Nell is approaching the age where she must make her contribution to society. It seems everyone around her has their ideas and talents honed. Her own father is one of the most revered men in the city having created artificial limbs. Her late mother’s contribution is forever in sight, a giant stonework woman. So needless to say, Nell feels the pressure to live up to her parents. In fact, she’d love to surpass them.

Nell is different from those around her. Her heart is clockwork – created and installed by her father. Her life is accompanied by a constant audible ticking, seemingly counting down the days to her contribution.

When Nell finds a mannequin hand washed up on the shore – one of the many relics from before the Turn – she starts to dream of a man more like her. So, she decides to build him.

The start of this book is fairly slow-paced. It’s quite a while before Nell decides to build her creation. However, we do glean a picture of Nell and her introverted personality – so at odds with her best friend Ruby. We’re also introduced to Oliver Kelly who wants nothing more than for Nell to love him.

Ordinarily, I might have found this beginning a bit too slow but actually I was just enjoying Griffin’s writing so much I didn’t mind!

I’m not going to lie; this is a bit of an odd book and consequently, it won’t be for everyone. However, it’s a book that had me intrigued from the very first page.

Nell is certainly an interesting character. I didn’t ever feel completely comfortable with her – but I guess that’s the point eh? Plus I did love Kodak, her stoat. I really liked her friendship with Ruby and her interactions with Oliver made me chuckle.

My favourite character by far though was Nell’s creation, Io. I enjoyed the chapters written from his perspective – the sole android in a world of computer-fearing humans.

I’m still left kind of baffled as to what actually happened at the Turn. I assume that this is on purpose and isn’t just me! I like answers though and I feel I’m lacking them. Also, the Pasture is very vague to me.

For all that the start was slow-paced, I did feel that the end was somewhat fast, abrupt even. I’d have liked more.

All in all, I enjoyed this novel, different as it was. Griffin writes beautifully and I can’t wait to see what she brings us next.

four-stars

Review: WaR: Wizards and Robots

February 1, 2018 in Book Reviews, Sci-Fi, YA Fantasy

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: WaR: Wizards and RobotsWaR: Wizards and Robots by Will.i.am, Brian David Johnson
Published by Penguin on 25th January 2018
Genres: Sci-Fi, YA Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
three-stars

When a young man breaks into her home claiming her life is in danger, Ada Luring's world changes forever. Geller is a wizard, on the run from his father's hidden clan who want to kill Ada and her mother. Sara Luring is the scientist who will create the first robot, the wizards' age-old foes.

But a robot has travelled back in time to find Ada, and will lay everything on the line to protect her, as she may just be the key to preventing the earth's destruction in the future.

Ada, Geller and the robots must learn to work together to change the past and secure the future. But they don't have much time before a mysterious enemy launches its attack on Earth...

Well, for the first third of WaR: Wizards and Robots I thought my brain might explode – wizards, robots, high school kids, three times in space – I was somewhat overwhelmed! But once I started to get my head around things I actually quite enjoyed the story – it certainly is action packed!

I made a real attempt to write a synopsis for this book, but quite honestly it hurt my head, so I can only imagine what it would’ve been like for you to read! So, here’s a basic rundown. We have a teenage girl, Ada and her Mum who is a doctor of AI in the 21st century. We have a castle under siege in the 16th century. We have wizards, including a boy called Geller. We have a robot, Kaku, and the world under siege from aliens in the 31st century. There’s magic, technology, time travel, distrust, friendship and the desire to save the world.

This is a fast-paced read which crams a lot into its 320 pages. Because of this, I don’t feel we ever make real connections with the characters – I certainly didn’t. For me, this book is kind of all over the place. We jump between times, characters and scenarios very quickly. It feels like watching a film at 30x speed. That said, I was never bored- there wasn’t time for that! It’s packed full of action and is actually a quick read. But I can’t help feeling it could’ve been more. The underlying story is good – a bit of a fantasy/sci-fi/YA mashup. However, I’m left feeling that there are many threads unexplored, a lack of depth and hence of character building. It could’ve been far more cohesive, but instead looking back it feels kind of a jumble – with the main story tacking its way through the pieces.

All that said, despite feeling overwhelmed – and kind of shocked – for the first third, I did find this book entertaining. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read WaR.

three-stars

Blog Tour and Extract: FEAR

January 26, 2018 in Blog Tours, Psychological Thriller

As the final stop on the #GrippedByFear blog tour, I’m delighted to bring you the conclusion of FEAR’s second chapter.

If you’ve missed the other days, be sure to check out the blogs in the graphic below. Visit us in order and you’ll get to read the first two chapters of FEAR for free!

 

What happened next is best related in the words of the indictment: At about 8.40 am, the accused, Hermann Tiefenthaler (my father, that is), left the flat of his son, Randolph Tiefenthaler, with the Walther PPK, then in his lawful possession, and descended to the basement, where he induced the tenant, Dieter Tiberius, to open the door to his flat, either by knocking or ringing the bell, and then killed Tiberius with a close-range shot to the head. Tiberius died instantly.

I rang the police. My father had asked me to, but it was in any case clear that this was the line we would take: no crazy getaway, no cover-up. We stood by the act. We still do—I can say that without reservation.

The policeman who picked up the phone, Sergeant Leidinger, greeted me almost affably. He knew me well, and he knew the house—he’d been here a lot over the past few months and sometimes found our case cause for amusement, but he immediately grew serious when he heard that I had a

death to report. I used those exact words, quite deliberately: ‘I have a death to report.’

‘Your wife?’ Sergeant Leidinger asked, and I could hear his alarm, which gave me, I must admit, a certain satisfaction, after all the doubts the authorities had about the gravity of our situation.

‘No,’ I said, ‘not my wife, thank goodness—it’s Dieter Tiberius.’

For a few seconds there was silence, and I’d love to know

what Leidinger was thinking then.

  ‘We’ll be right with you,’ he said.

My father packed his bag and put on his checked jacket. Then he sat down at the kitchen table again, the Walther PPK in front of him. I made him another espresso. We had sometimes sat there like that in the past, before he set off for home—usually with my mother, because he never came without her—and funnily enough, I now said some of the things I always said: ‘Have you got everything? Sure you haven’t forgotten anything?’

  My father went to have a last look in the bathroom and found his shaving foam.

   ‘You can’t check too often,’ I said.

  ‘Who knows when I’d have got any,’ he said.

  It had just occurred to me that you might not be allowed a wet shave in prison because of the razor blades—I knew nothing about life in prison—when the doorbell rang. Sergeant Leidinger and his colleague Rippschaft, who was also well known to me, were the first to arrive. Later, others came: policemen in uniform, plain-clothes detectives, a doctor, forensic investigators, pathologists.

  My father told Sergeant Leidinger that he had shot he basement tenant. He said nothing else and was quiet throughout the proceedings. They didn’t put handcuffs on him, perhaps because of his age, and for that I was thankful. We hugged when he left, properly this time. It was a long, loving embrace, the first of our life. We clung to one another and he said something that may sound strange to outsiders. ‘I’m so proud of you,’ he said—a statement that can only be understood as a kind of closing summary, a father’s attempt to take stock of his relationship with his son before disappearing into prison. He had never said it before—or, indeed, anything like it. Maybe he wanted to make clear to me that, up until the appearance of Dieter Tiberius, he had considered my life a success, an absolute success, and that Dieter Tiberius was a mere episode in that life and no more—an episode which, thanks to a well-placed shot, was now over. He wanted to make clear to me that, in spite of the long silence between us, he was aware of that success—and he wanted to encourage me to continue along the path I had taken. I think that’s why he said what he did.

**GIVEAWAY**

Fancy getting your hands on a SIGNED copy of the book, as well as a hamper of German sweets and chocolate?

Well, Orion is running a competition over on Twitter. To enter just tweet about a time you’ve been #GrippedByFear (be sure to use the hashtag). A winner will be chosen on Monday 29th January 2018.

FEAR is out in the UK now. If you’d like to check out my review of the book, click here.

Review: FEAR

January 24, 2018 in Book Reviews, Psychological Thriller, Translated Literature

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: FEARFEAR by Dirk Kurbjuweit
Published by Orion on 25th January 2018
Genres: Psychological, thriller
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
three-stars

YOU'D DIE FOR YOUR FAMILY.

BUT WOULD YOU KILL FOR THEM?

***

Family is everything.

So what if yours was being terrorised by a neighbour – a man who doesn’t listen to reason, whose actions become more erratic and sinister with each passing day? And those you thought would help – the police, your lawyer – can’t help you.

You become afraid to leave your family at home alone. But there’s nothing more you can do to protect them.

Is there?

FEAR is the story of Randolph Tiefenhaler, a married father of two who works as an architect in Berlin. He and his family live in an upper ground floor flat in the city. It’s upon purchasing this flat that the family find themselves under the scrutiny of their downstairs neighbour, Dieter Tiberius, a man who lives alone and rarely leaves his home. Dieter Tiberius’ notes to the family start off fairly innocuous, but it isn’t long before he is accusing Randolph and his wife of abusing their children. When Randolph seeks help from the police on this slanderous matter he is turned away – they can do nothing to help him. With everything in his life hanging on the words of his downstairs neighbour, Randolph is desperate to find a solution to his Dieter Tiberius problem.

The story is told by Randolph as he looks back on the events of his aforesaid problem. But as readers we spend a lot of time looking at Randolph’s own personal life, his upbringing and marriage in order to understand the man whose family are being stalked.

Originally written in German, the FEAR is the first of Dirk Kurbjuweit’s work to be translated into English. It’s a very interesting concept for a novel, not least because the author is drawing upon his own personal experiences. I think knowing this adds additional weight to the story and, as readers, we begin to wonder what we would do in Randolph’s position?

This was somewhat of a strange book for me in that I found it easy to read and thought-provoking but I really didn’t like Randolph! I grew weary of his selfishness, talk of his father’s guns and his constant reference to class. I don’t know if this is perhaps something in the translation that just didn’t sit with me, but I really disliked the man. Yet I was intrigued, I wanted to know how this Dieter Tiberius had forced a family to such lengths. I would actually have loved to have read some chapters from Tiberius’ perspective!

While I can’t say I was blown away by this book, I certainly found the concept interesting. I suspect that in not caring about the protagonist I probably missed out on much this book has to offer.

three-stars