Tag Archives: Book club

Hidden in Her Heart by Thomas Dellenbusch – Review

Title – Hidden in Her Heart
Author – Thomas Dellenbusch
Genre – Romance
Length – 118 Pages
Publication – 3rd June 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Translated Version from the popular German book series
of Movie-Length-Stories
A young, attractive single mother moves into a small Lower Bavarian village in the Summer of 1963. She is not looking for a job, nor is she looking to make friends. When the villagers discover that several men are visiting her regularly, they are horrified. They assume that this stranger is a prostitute, and look for ways to chase her away. The only one to take her side and stand by her is a young journalist living in the village. He suspects she is hiding here. But from whom or what? And is his support genuine, or was he sent to discover her secret?

Review

Romance?? Yes you read that correctly.. I’m reviewing a romance novella. Yes it’s not my genre but the more I read the more I actually quite enjoy it. I think the author just needs to get the balance of romance and plot right for me to enjoy the tale which Thomas Dellenbusch certainly has.

This isn’t the first book I’ve reviewed by Dellenbusch but the others were thrillers, this couldn’t be any more different. This was one of the main reasons I wanted to read this book.. I needed to see how well Thomas could turn his hand to a completely different genre, and let me tell you he didn’t let me down.

This is a very sweet tale about a woman with a past she’s running away from and a journalist with his own issues in life whose worlds collide.

It’s a tale about looking beneath the surface and not to judge a book by it’s cover.

I enjoyed the characters and how the relationship developed. It’s only 118 pages so it’s fast following but not rushed in my opinion and is perfect to read in one sitting if you have a spare couple of hours.

As much as I enjoyed the story I really thing this book is more about the author, it shows he’s able to write multiple genres and can even make someone like me enjoy a romantic story.

If you’re after a short read or something to cleanse the palate after some heavier reads then get this one, I hope you’ll enjoy it just as much as I did.

Credit to the author, I was intrigued by his characters immediately and that reason alone had me hooked.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

The Detriment by David Videcette – Review

Title – The Detriment
Author – David Videcette
Genre – Crime Thriller
Length – 358 Pages
Publication – 29th June 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

“The truth costs nothing, but a lie can cost you everything…”

June 2007: a barbaric nail bomb is planted outside a London nightclub, a spy is found dead in his garden, and a blazing Jeep is driven into Glasgow airport. Three events bound by an earth-shattering connection that should have remained buried forever.

From the author of ‘The Theseus Paradox’, the smash-hit 7/7 thriller based on true events, comes the sequel about a real-life mystery that threatens to destroy a nation. Detective Inspector Jake Flannagan must uncover how a series of astonishing events are inextricably linked, before the past closes in on him.

We all have secrets we say we’ll never tell…

What people are saying about author, David Videcette:

“Videcette has the hallmarks of being a dangerous storyteller.” – Crimesquad.com

“Combines police experience with an audacious stroke of imagination.” – Crime Fiction Lover

David Videcette is a former Scotland Yard investigator who has worked on a wealth of infamous cases, including the 7/7 London bombings. With twenty years’ policing experience, he is an expert on terrorism and organised crime. ‘

I can’t tell you the truth, but I can tell you another story…’

Review

After reading David Videcette’s debut The Theseus Paradox I knew instantly I had to buy this book. The author set the standard very high last time but definitely managed to give the reader another compelling story but also managed to develop the lead character Jake which is hard in such a fast paced thriller.

Ok so if you’ve read the previous book you’ll know about Jake. He’s a good guy and good at his job but at times he jumps before he thinks, always with the right intentions though. This is a theme explored during The Detriment where Jake gets deeper and deeper into trouble with his superiors when it seems he just can’t follow protocol… Like he’s addicted to action and can’t step back from it.

As a reader you get to see the real motivations behind Jake’s actions. He’s not trying to hurt anyone..he’s just trying to do everything in his power to help.

In this tale we learn a lot more about Jake and that for me was the best thing about this book as it makes him human and you really feel for him. He’s a tortured soul and deep down has some issues he needs to work through.

Besides the personal side of things there’s a big case to be handled based on real events. After a car bomb is found Jake’s skills are put to the test to get to the bottom of the attempted attack..is it really terror related? What are the motives?

While seeking the truth Jake uncovers some sketchy dealings within our own government which in turn just leads to more and more questions.

It’s a fast paced and engrossing tale that really leaves you contemplating the story, it won’t leave you easily.

Another thing I have to say I love about the book is the little discussion points the author suggests at the end of the tale and appendix where the facts are stated, this helps get the tale deeply ingrained with you leaving me without a shadow of a doubt I’ll buy the next book the author releases.

Jake will have a hard time coming back after the events in this books so I’m excited to see what happens next.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

Somewhere in San Diego by Dennis Macaraeg – Review

Title – Somewhere in San Diego
Author – Dennis Macaraeg
Genre – Thriller
Length – 226 Pages
Publication – April 2016
My Rating – 4/5 Stars

Synopsis

A thriller about best friends, scientific data, hired guns and a harrowing race with a past lover to stay alive. Marine biologist Danny Maglaya must meet with his best friend and fellow scientist Blake Mason to upload the data demanded as ransom by the kidnappers of Blake’s fiancée. The task might have been simple, but every time the two scientists try to rendezvous, two contract assassins show up. With Danny and Blake’s phones hacked and each move they make monitored, the only way to survive is to outwit the men wanting to eliminate them. With an ingenious but risky solution, Danny teams up with his ex-lover to piece together secrets that only she, Danny and Blake know. A series of perilous events follows as Danny and his old flame, Valerie, race through San Diego County, solving clues about Blake’s whereabouts and about their possible future together. Will their love for each other be the catalyst for success or will the bitter pain of their breakup be a recipe for disaster?

Review

Before I get down to what I thought of the book have you read my review for Somewhere in the Shallow Sea? If not take a look.

Now while I think it works better if you read Somewhere in the Shallow Sea first it’s not 100% necessary.  Personally I would just so you can see the progression of not only the tale but also the author.

The plot follows the same sort of pattern as the previous book. Danny is a biologist who created a compound that can attract fish. While Danny and his friend Blake have been collecting data on their research Blake’s fiancée has been kidnapped.

The kidnappers want this information uploaded for all to see otherwise Blake’s fiancée dies.

So of course Danny wants to help. The only issue is he’s being hunted down by two assassins who seem to want him dead and the data destroyed.

What we get is a fast paced tale with twists and turns all the way as Danny tries to but the pieces together.

Again we have some romance for Danny, as much as I don’t like romance in my books this worked well and built up nicely so wasn’t forced on me as a reader.

What I really liked is the tale is fun and exciting and a super easy read.

Yes it’s a bit outrageous that this is the second kidnapping to involve Danny and that these assassins seem a little useless at times but that’s what give it a fun edge.

Overall for me this was an improvement on the last tale. The development worked better especially between Danny and Valarie.

If you’re looking for a fun action thriller rather than the dark gritty thriller then this is the book for you.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

My thanks go to the author for the chance to read/review their work.

Otho’s Regret by L. J. Trafford – Review

Title – Otho’s Regret
Author – L. J. Trafford
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 469 Pages
Publication – 24th July 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Having spectacularly grabbed the Imperial throne by way of a very bloody coup, new emperor Otho is horrified to discover that there is an emperor already in place. His name is Aulus Vitellius and he is relaxing himself in Germania whilst his two generals, the twisted Valens and the handsome but dim Caecina, march two colossal armies to Rome to claim his prize.

With negotiations between the two emperors becoming ever more entertainingly abusive, imperial secretary Epaphroditus has his work cut out trying to save Otho’s throne for him. Hopelessly outnumbered, all looks doomed until a series of unexpected victories give hope to the beleaguered secretary. With the eastern legions declared for Otho and en route to help, all they have to do is stop Valens’ and Caecina’s armies meeting.

Meanwhile, in Rome, a former palace slave, Antonia Caenis, has returned from Judaea with plans of her own…

Review

Otho’s regret is the third book in The Four Emperors series.

You can read my reviews of book one and two by clicking the links below to open a new window.

Palatine- Book 1

Galba’s Men – Book 2

So after the events of the last book Otho is now emperor. Now while he doesn’t seem to be the most natural at the role he does ooze charisma, he’s fair and likeable which people notice.. the issue is he’s not going to get much of a chance to prove himself.

Persuaded by his generals Vitellius decides he should be Emperor and they set out to take the throne by force if needs be.

Vitellius and his generals have very different reasons for their actions and the author did a great job of breathing life into each of them and developing them as much as she did. The two generals Valens and Caecina have to be my favourite additions to the series so far.

With armies on the march espionage is inevitable with both sides planting spies..the fun twist is there’s more than just two players in this tale…someone is lurking..someone has their own motivations to delay Valens and Caecina but you are kept waiting and wodering as the author builds this suspense keeping you hooked until the end.

One person who has made this series stand out for me is Philo. He’s trying to move on with his life after everything has happened to him.. he’s a little out of the loop with events in the palace but soon gets sucked back in.. he even ends up playing his part in the war that is coming. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ll ever love a character as much as Philo.

Epaphroditus surprised me this time around. I never really fell in love with him until now.. this tale shows a different edge to the character which I really enjoyed.

Trafford effortlessly manages to make the tale light-hearted and fun (especially when Sporus is around) but at the same time develops the uncertainty and fears that are brewing.. Building the suspense so much your heart pounds until everything starts to tumble-down around Otho.

I’ve had high expectations with The Four Emperors series which continues to deliver time and time again. It ticks all the right boxes for historical fiction. It’s descriptive but never too heavy, fun when needed but still deals with the serious side of events.

What Trafford has done superbly is make history fun and exciting with the perfect mix of fact and fiction. It’s books like this that keep my love of reading burning strongly, always stoking the furnace..pushing me further, raising that bar which each installment.

I can’t say I’m an expert.. I just know what I like.. and this book is a shining example of what a 5* star historical fiction book should be in my opinion.

My thanks go to Karnac Books for the uncorrected proof copy for review..This will have pride of place on my book shelf.

You can read more reviews on Goodreads and pre-order your copy of the book today on Amazon or purhcase direct from the publishers Karnac

A Violent Aftermath – Guest Post by author Gordon Doherty – (@GordonDoherty)

In late 378 AD, the Eastern Roman Empire was in pieces. Emperor Valens lay dead on the plains of Adrianople, surrounded by the corpses of his best generals and legions. Victorious, the Goths of Fritigern roamed all over the land of Thracia (modern day European Turkey and Bulgaria) like conquerors, and with no emperor or army to curtail or contest them, it must have felt like the end of the world to the Roman people – holed up in the few high-walled cities capable of resisting the Goths.

The stages of the Gothic War (left-right): revolt, pillage and then victory. And that’s where Legionary: Empire of Shades begins – in a fallen land.

Thanks to Osprey Publishing for this excellent artwork.

 

Theodosius I was the man chosen to tackle this sorry state of affairs. A Spaniard who had proven himself in recent military engagements in Pannonia, he was offered the Eastern throne by his Western counterpart, Emperor Gratian. Gratian’s thinking and the conversations held between the two men must have been quite a thing to eavesdrop upon – for Gratian had only a few years previously ordered the brutal beheading of Theodosius’ father, viewed as a rival. Regardless, Theodosius accepted the offer. Did he fear Gratian? Did he perhaps see the ‘gift’ of the Eastern Empire as a way to prove his loyalty to his father’s killer and guarantee his own safety? Or might Theodosius even have had a hand in his father’s death? We will never know (although I do indulge in a bit of speculation in ‘Empire of Shades’).

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Theodosius I

 

After accepting the Eastern purple, Theodosius made his headquarters at Thessalonica. The city, capital of the Diocese of Macedonia, was well-positioned: on the eastern coast of modern-day Greece, far south enough from troubled Thracia so as to distance himself from immediate threat, but close enough to plot a reconquest. There he set about reviving the shattered Eastern Army. Firstly, he erected a great turf wall around the city – partly to bolster its defences but also to enclose an area that could serve as a military campus within which he could rejuvenate the ruined Eastern Army. And that was Theodosius’ next step – to summon to Thessalonica the remaining fragments of the legions shattered at the Battle of Adrianople, who were by now hiding in the hills and woods on the periphery of Thracia.

 

 

Left: The Roman city of Thessalonica and its famous Galerius Rotunda. Right: The lay of the land following the Adrianople disaster.

 

But as these army ‘fragments’ congregated at Thessalonica, it would have quickly become apparent to Theodosius just how few had survived the disaster, and it seems he acted upon this stark truth quickly. Starting in 379 AD, he issued a series of decrees to allow the depleted ranks to be filled and for obliterated legions to be reformed. Retired veterans were obliged to return to duty, as were their sons – attempts at bribery to escape service would now be dealt with severely. Indeed, noblemen were required to supply their slaves to the army, and refusal would result in said noblemen being burnt at the stake! Even peasants, beggars and deserters were swept up in an effort to plug the manpower shortage.

Starting at the same time as this mass-recruitment, and continuing over the next few years, Theodosius raised five new generals, or ‘Magistri Militum’ to command these raw troops. With fresh recruits and new leaders, Theodosius now needed a victory to cement their loyalty and his place on the throne. One of his first retaliatory strikes against the Goths occupying Thracia was carried out by a small Roman expeditionary force: under cover of darkness, they outmanoeuvred and fell upon a drunken, sleeping warband (thought to have been four or five-thousand-strong), descending upon them from a hillside to claim a decisive victory.

News of the triumph was very much welcomed in Thessalonica, but Emperor Theodosius knew it was merely a warband that had been defeated, barely denting the horde. And still, the legions were too few and too thin to consider action against Fritigern’s main force. Thus, in search of yet more manpower, Theodosius was forced to turn his eye towards the north, into the wilds of ‘Barbaricum’ (everything north of the River Danube).

Theodosius was forced to look to the most unexpected of places for fresh recruits… the lands of Barbaricum! (left: the Carpathian Mountains, right: the woods and hills nearby)

 

Bringing more Goths into the empire – as allies to fight against their marauding kinsmen – was a risky strategy but a wholly necessary one. Indeed, it had been policy in past (albeit far-more stable) years. It is here that the heroes of the XI Claudia Legion come to the fore in ‘Empire of Shades’. Tasked with trekking into Barbaricum and escorting dubious allies back into the war-torn empire, they then face the prospect of once again standing up against Fritigern’s horde. Weaker, fewer, and with recent defeats branded on each legionary’s mind, the soldiers of the empire must learn to believe once more, to stand together, and to rekindle the dying light of the East….

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Available at all good online stores, now!

Gordon’s website: www.gordondoherty.co.uk

Free this week! First Contract: A JJ Stoner short story (The Stoner Series Book 1)

Hey all,

Just a quick post.  I’m sure you’ll remember but I’ve read and reviewed all of the JJ Stoner short stories and thought they were brilliant.

A little heads up Frank Westworth the author has kindly put up the first book in the series for free this week so you’ve still got time to grab it.

Go on..it’s FREE.. you know it makes sense!

Click here to head to Amazon!

Under the Approaching Dark by Anna Belfrage – Review

Title – Under the Approaching Dark (The King’s Greatest Enemy #3)
Author – Anna Belfrage
Genre – Historical Fiction/Historical Romance
Length – 432 Pages
Publication – 10th April 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Adam de Guirande has cause to believe the turbulent times are behind him: Hugh Despenser is dead and Edward II has been forced to abdicate in favour of his young son. It is time to look forward, to a bright new world in which the young king, guided by his council, heals his kingdom and restores its greatness. But the turmoil is far from over… After years of strife, England in the early months of 1327 is a country in need of stability, and many turn with hope towards the new young king, Edward III. But Edward is too young to rule, so instead it is his mother, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer, who do the actual governing, much to the dislike of barons such as Henry of Lancaster. In the north, the Scots take advantage of the weakened state of the realm and raid with impunity. Closer to court, it is Mortimer’s increasing powers that cause concerns – both among his enemies, but also for men like Adam, who loves Mortimer dearly, but loves the young king just as much. When it is announced that Edward II has died in September of 1327, what has so far been a grumble grows into voluble protests against Mortimer. Yet again, the spectre of rebellion haunts the land, and things are further complicated by the reappearance of one of Adam’s personal enemies. Soon enough, he and his beloved wife Kit are fighting for their survival – even more so when Adam is given a task that puts them both in the gravest of dangers. Under the Approaching Dark is the third in Anna Belfrage’s series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord, his king, and his wife.

Review

So we are back with Adam and Kit. I must admit I’ve missed these two. This is the third book in The King’s Greatest Enemy series, If you’ve not read the previous books you can read my reviews here –

In the Shadow of the Storm – Book 1

Days of sun and Glory – Book 2

Immediately I was struck by the cover of this book much more so than the previous two, the image and the colours used are definitely to my taste and suit the tale which is a mix of historical fiction and romance.

Hugh Despenser is dead..Finally Adam can relax! Nope.. not a chance.

King Edward II has been forced from the throne and his son Edward now rules as King Edward III. This king is young but he likes to keep those he likes close to him.. Adam included.. He’s sworn to the king and will serve him until the day he dies or is released from service.

There’s a lot of growing tension in this book. First and foremost some of the most powerful lords and businessmen don’t like the fact Mortimer and the Queen mother are acting as the king’s advisers, more so when it’s clear they are lovers even though both are still married! Add to this a brewing conflict with Scotland and a difference of opinion on how it should be handled means rebellion is on the cards.

One issue keeps bubbling to the surface..what to do with the old king? Well this is where Adam and Kit come in, I don’t want to spoil the tale at all but I really enjoyed their involvement in this part of the tale.

As the young king grows it’s clear to Adam that one day this king will not appreciate the input of the Queen mother and Mortimer but they have tasted power and it doesn’t look like they will give up control easily. He even starts to take his frustrations out on Adam during training but as the tale progresses I do feel the king learns Adam’s worth.

An old foe reappears in Kit’s life..and it spells trouble. Again I won’t spoil it but this foe drives a wedge between Adam and Kit by hitting them with a very sensitive issue indeed.

Of course Kit and Adam can get through anything..They may not make it out unscathed but as long as they have each other they will be fight and stay together. They each have their cross to bear during this tale and it can only make them stronger and more determined to be with each other and no other.

For me the book is certainly a 5* story, I won’t lie though..the romance was a little much for my personal tastes but the reason the story still warrants a 5* is because I can understand why it’s there.. the books wouldn’t be the same without it..I feel the book needs this romance and it certainly does build on the truly loving relationship and connection Adam and Kit have which brings that something extra to the tale.

For me this is the best installment in the series so far and it gives Adam more chance to shine. As much as I love Kit it’s Adam who leaves the lasting impressions on me during this books,  I loved the writing and there’s so much going on to really get you hooked in. Well worth reading.

For more information or to purchase check out Amazon or Goodreads.