Review: The Dark Net by Benjamin Percy

thumbnail_9781473652217I have been reading for as long as I can consciously remember and I am still guilty of one cardinal sin; judging a book by its cover.  Whilst I will read a book without the most aesthetically pleasing cover if the blurb really sells it to me, deep down I know that a cover is one of the biggest aspects of a book to immediately draw me in, regardless of the genre of the book.  It is after all, quite literally the first thing you see. When I’m in a book shop and faced with a plethora of new reading material, or if I am scrolling online and browsing a selection of books, my attention is almost always going to be grabbed first by a book I think has been well designed.

This was without a doubt the main reason why I first requested a proof copy of Benjamin Percy’s new novel, The Dark Net. I had never before heard of Benjamin Percy, despite him being the author of four novels. When I first stumbled across the cover of the book, it was the darkness of the cover, the creepy undertones of a strange skull type shape intermingled with the background, with really stood out to me. I like anything creepy, unsettling and thrilling (massive Stephen King fan as we all know), but there was just something about the subtleties and intricacies of this cover image, as opposed to a garish over the top skull, which massively appealed to me.

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Review: The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths

DSCF1445I was pretty excited this month when a new book arrived in the post from Quercus. With a dark and eerie cover suggestive of an underlying threat, I was immediately intrigued. Likewise, the author quote on the front from none other than Val McDermid, a master of crime/mystery, may also have helped, marking this as one of her ‘favourite series’. Admittedly I had never really heard a lot about Elly Griffiths or her Ruth Galloway Mystery series, but I was more than happy to delve into The Chalk Pit, the ninth novel in this series.

As always, The Chalk Pit follows the character of Ruth Galloway. When bones are discovered in the tunnels beneath the city, archaeologist Ruth is the first to investigate. Realising that the bones are likely to be less than five years old, and have also been boiled, there are fears that a terrible crime has been committed. Meanwhile, DCI Harry Nelson is attempting to trace the cause of the disappearance of a homeless woman, following rumours from the streets that she may have gone ‘underground’. Whilst the theories seem pretty unfounded, the pressure is massively increased when another person sleeping on the streets is found murdered, quickly followed by the disappearance of a second woman. With things quickly escalating, the possibility of the Underground must be faced, and the truth discovered before more victims can be claimed.

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Author Q and A: Catriona McPherson (Dandy Gilver and a Spot of Toil and Trouble)

9781473633445As some of you may already have seen, I recently read Dandy Gilver and a Spot of Toil and Trouble. This is the latest book in Catriona Mcpherson’s Dandy Gilver series and as you can tell from my review here, I really enjoyed it! When I was very kindly offered the chance to ask Catriona some questions, I immediately said yes, and I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to share these with you today:

1. Dandy Gilver and a Spot of Toil And Trouble is the latest novel in your detective series following the eponymous Dandy Gilver. What was it that originally inspired you to start writing the series?

I came at it as a fan girl. I adored the golden age writers – Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh, Michael Innes, Josephine Tey, Agatha (of course) and, most of all, Dorothy L Sayers. And so when I put my first novel in a drawer (where many first novels belong) I decided to cheer myself up by trying to write a golden-age-style story of my own. As a palate cleanser. Ha! Here we are at book twelve. My palate is cleansed.

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Review: Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed

DSCF1442When a book is compared to the likes of The Handmaid’s Tale, Our Endless Numbered Days, The Power and The Girls (yet to actually read this last!), you know it’s highly likely to be something you would want to read. This praise is made all the more impressive by the fact that this is the author’s (Jennie Melamed) debut novel! So, naturally, when I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the book before its publication date, I was thrilled.

Gather the Daughters tells the story of a ‘small isolated island’ where the community lives by their own rules. Daughters are born into a world in which they must take their place as wives and mothers, something which must happen as soon as they approach womanhood. Boys, on the other hand, are there to instruct, to grow into strong men who rule the women in their lives. Ever summer this island honours its ritual, one in which the children are turned out of their homes to run wild. They are free; free to run, to climb, to fight. Free to be children. Yet it is during one such summer, that a young girl is witness to something she should not have seen. Terrified by this, and by what it could actually mean about the island, the girls begin to give reign to their curiosity, lead down a path which they never thought existed.

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Review: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

DSCF1436Treasure Island is synonymous with the thrill of piracy, and for good reason. Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous novel, written in the nineteenth century, explores many of the tropes which are still so associated with terrifying pirates and the hunt for gold. His novel has built on the likes of the popular ‘Desert Island’ novels (think Robinson Cruseo), whilst also paving the way for many of the ideas we see in circulation for popular culture today. His is a lasting legacy, a true adventure novel which has stood the test of time. But, what it is really about?

Treasure Island tells the story of young Jim Hawkins, a boy whose family run a small Inn. When an old, yet frightening sailor comes to lodge with them, Jim is paid to look out for any signs of a one-legged man. Clearly disturbed by such a person making an appearance, Jim is curious, yet wary enough of the often drunk sailor not to push the point. However, his drunken stupors cannot hide the man from such people, and soon enough this lodger dies, terrified into a stroke. Finding what the sailor had been so desperate to conceal, and what the others had been so eager to find, Jim discovers a map; one which details the way to treasure hidden by the pirate Captain Flint. Sailing away with a crew on the quest for the treasure, Jim meets Long John Silver, unaware of this peg legged man’s true intentions. What follows is a fight not only to the treasure, but for the very right to survival.

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Review: Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

DSCF1434Why has it taken me this long to read Robin Hobb? Truthfully, I am not quite sure, although I suspect the pressure of committing such time to a new fantasy series somewhat daunted me. Fears aside, I took the plunge, and can assuredly say it was well worth the wait!

For the sake of clarity, I started with the first of the various series which make up the books set within the Realm of the Elderlings. This meant starting with Assassins Apprentice, the first installment in the Farseer Trilogy. This novel follows young Fitz, a bastard child fathered by the crown prince.  The kingdom of the Six Duchies is living through turbulent times and attacks when Fitz’s existence is realised, meaning that his father is shamed into abdication. As such, raised under a banner of shame, Fitz starts his life in the castle stables, despised and ridiculed by many who seek to undermine the royal blood in his veins.  Soon Fitz is trained to be of the utmost loyalty to his king in the form of an assassin, trained in the magic of the Farseer family. But many do not want to see this child, a bastard only in their eyes, live to be a threat to the political factions they favour. In a world where Fitz is already discredited, he is forced to fight for his survival.

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