Hands Up By Stephen Clark

I received Hands Up by Stephen Clark to review last month. After the Christmas Mayhem and lots of hospital appointments for the girls I finally got a chance to finish reading it last week. I haven’t read Stephen Clark’s previous book, Citizen Kill but was interested to see what Hands Up was all about.

Hands Up By Stephen Clark

Hands Up

Officer Ryan Quinn, a rookie raised in a family of cops, is on the fast track to detective until he shoots an unarmed black male. Now, his career, reputation and freedom on the line, he embarks on a quest for redemption that forces him to confront his fears and biases and choose between conscience or silence.

Jade Wakefield is an emotionally damaged college student living in one of Philadelphia’s worst neighbourhoods. She knows the chances of getting an indictment against the cop who killed her brother are slim. When she learns there’s more to the story than the official police account, Jade is determined, even desperate, to find out what really happened. She plans to get revenge by any means necessary.

Kelly Randolph, who returns to Philadelphia broke and broken after abandoning his family ten years earlier, seeks forgiveness while mourning the death of his son. But after he’s thrust into the spotlight as the face of the protest movement, his disavowed criminal past resurfaces and threatens to derail the family’s pursuit of justice.

Ryan, Jade and Jelly – three people from different worlds – are on a collision course after the shooting, as their lives interconnect and spiral into chaos.

Stephen Clark

Stephen Clark is a former award-winning journalist who has worked for the Los Angeles Times and FoxNews.com. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed political thriller Citizen Kill. He grew up in the suburbs of Philidelphia and now lives in North Jersey with his wife and son.

My Thoughts

You jump right into the chaos from the start with Hands Up, beginning with Ryan Quinn facing the fact he has just murdered a young black male on duty. The story line is full of twists and turns making you wonder what on earth is going to happen next. Jade is clearly very damaged from her childhood and seeks revenge in the strangest ways.

All of the characters emotions and thoughts are clearly portrayed and you get to know each of the characters quite well. Jade stands out as very damaged, confused and acts in ways you wouldn’t expect. Kelly quite clearly can’t escape his past even whilst working to help people stay away from the gangster life style. Nothing seems straight forward in Hands Up and you will be left wondering what’s coming next.

Have you read Hands Up of Citizen Kill

Forever Blue By Kelly-Marie Pollock

I received Forever Blue by Kelly-Marie Pollock to read and review. Forever Blue is a small collection of intimate poetry, inspired by personal experiences with Grief, Loss, Depression and Self Harm.

Forever Blue by Kelly-Marie Pollock

*Trigger warning – contains adult content not suitable for all audiences.

Forever Blue

I haven’t read poetry for years but Forever Blue has sparked my interest again! This collection of long and short heart-felt poems delve into the darkness of the mind in a beautiful way that most will be able to relate to. Kelly writes in such an open and honest way letting her feelings pour into her poetry giving them power. Beautiful collection of poems that I would definitely recommend reading.

Kelly-Marie Pollock

Kelly is a 33-year-old, married mum of 4 plus 3 adult step-children. She has an intense love of the Victorian era, Vampires and is waiting for a Zombie uprising. Kelly’s passion is writing. She is also a mental health advocate and BiPolar warrior. When she isn’t reading or writing, she enjoys long nature walks with her husband and their children. Kelly can not get through the day without her morning cup of tea. She uses excessive amounts of sarcasm and profanity in most sentences and she’s not even sorry.

Kelly has also published Cherry Nova, a gothic romance and occult horror novel. Cherry Nova is the first book in The Chronicles of Nova Morgan which I have also reviewed here.

Into The Dark By Karen Rose

I received Into The Dark by Karen Rose to review as part of the Random Things Blog Tours. The Sunday Times bestselling author Karen Rose is back with the gripping fifth instalment of the Cincinnati Series.

Into The Dark By Karen Rose https://amzn.to/33mI73R

Into The Dark

When Michael Rowland saves his younger brother Joshua from the clutches of his stepfather, he runs for his life with his brother in his arms. From his hiding place he sees the man who has made their lives a misery taken away in the trunk of a stranger’s car, never to be seen again.

Doctor Dani Novak has been keeping soccer coach Diesel Kennedy at arm’s length to protect him from her dark secrets. When they are brought together by the two young brothers who desperately need their help, it seems they might finally be able to leave their damaged pasts behind them.

But as the only witness to the man who kidnapped and murdered his sterpfather, Micheal is in danger. As Diesel and Dani do all that they can to protect him, their own investigation into the murder uncovers a much darker web of secrets than they could have imagined.

As more bodies start to appear it’s clear that his killer wants vengeance. And will wipe out anything that gets in his way…

Karen Rose

Karen Rose Author Picture

Karen Rose was introduce to suspense and horror at the tender age of eight when she accidentally read Poe’s The Pit and The Pendulum and was afraid to go to sleep for years. She now enjoys writing books that make other people afraid to go to sleep.

Karen lives in Florida with her family, their cat Bella, and two dogs, Loki and Freya. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, and her new hobby – knitting.

My Thoughts

Having read some of Karen Rose’s – The Chicago Series, I was really looking forward to Into The Dark. It definitely didn’t disappoint! Right from the start you find yourself hooked as Michael runs for his life with Joshua in his arms.

I found myself walking around tidying up with the book still in my hand thinking I’ll just read to the end of this chapter. Into The Dark is full of suspense and so many twists and turns. As each dark and dirty secret unfolds it makes you wonder what they will discover next. Dani and Diesel’s complicated relationship with Dani’s own dark secrets keep you just as hooked right until the end.

Having utterly enjoyed Into The Dark, I think I’ll be reading some of the other series I have missed!

Have you read anything by Karen Rose? Does this sound like a book for you?

The Three Hares – The Jade Dragonball Book Review

We received The Three Hares – The Jade Dragonball by Scott Lauder & David Ross. This children’s quest fantasy is packed full of action and adventure!

The Three Hares -The Jade Dragonball by Scott Lauder and David Scott Ross

The Three Hares – The Jade Dragonball

Sara Livingstone’s school trip to the Beijing Palace Museum takes a terrifying turn when an encounter with the ancient Qingming Scroll thrusts her a thousand years into China’s past. With secrets in the shadows and danger around every corner, Sara must take her place in a cosmic battle and find the courage to face an unworldly ancient magic.

Scott Lauder

Scott Lauder Author Picture

Scott Lauder was born in Ayrshire, Scotland. Having taught in Greece, Japan, and England, he now lives with his wife and four cats in the UAE where he teaches English. In his free time, he enjoys hiking and drinking good coffee. His other books include The Right Thing, A Single Shot, and The Boy-King Tutankhamun.

David Scott Ross

David Scott Ross has traveled and taught throughout Asia since he first moved there in 1987. He currently teaches in upstate NY, where he lives with his wife and two sons. When David is not writing or teaching, he dreams about becoming a chef, a rock star, maybe an actor, but probably not all at once. At present, he is wrapping up two projects: Pastimes, encounters with a Stone Age people, and Dim, a detective novel.

Eva’s Thoughts

I really enjoyed the book because it reminded me that we have forgotten how to make and build things without using machines to help us. When Sara Livingstone visited the museum she saw a vision of a strange person talking about the QingMing Scroll which I loved. When Sara visited ancient China she used her wits and Granny Tang’s stories to survive which was amazing! I think everyone will enjoy The Three Hares – The Jade Dragonball just as much as I have, it’s packed full of adventure and magic a bit like Harry Potter.

The Purple-Bellied Parrot By William Fagus

I received The Purple-Bellied Parrot By William Fagus to review as part of the Random Things Blog Tours. This children’s action and adventure book follows The Purple-Bellied Parrot on his quest to live his would-be life.

The Purple-Bellied Parrot by William Fagus

The Purple-Bellied Parrot

Discover…

The power of the ‘HhhuuuUUUUTTT!’

Ever feel you are living the wrong life?

Ever feel another life, your should-be life, is out there waiting for oi, if only you had the courage to…

Have you answered yes to any of those questions?

Then follow the Purple-Bellied Parrot on a rip-roaring globe-spanning adventure packed with unforgettable characters. His quest to live his should-be life.

It Begins: In the sterile apartment of a city executive with unruly nasal hair where the Purple-Bellied parrot cannot even do the very thing he was born to do.

It Ends: On the shores of a distant land after an epic journey which tests his courage, his ingenuity and the bonds of friendship – to the limit.

The Purple-Bellied Parrot Blurb

William Fagus

William Fagus Author Picture

The publicity-shy William Fagus live in a remote location in an upturned fishing smack with a parrot and sundry antique musical instruments and carpentry tools.

The redoubtable Mrs Lush, his cleaning lady and confidant, is his most frequent visitor.

Our Thoughts

Eva and I both read The Purple-Bellied Parrot and really enjoyed it. The Purple-Bellied Parrot finds himself remembering a time before being stuck in a cage looking up at nostril hair. He decides he needs to live his would be life and has quite an adventure doing so. You can’t help but laugh and cry while reading this book. Humour and sadness are weaved cleverly into this beautiful story as the Purple-Bellied Parrot learns about the world around him.

Overall we both think children from around 7 to 8 years and adults will love this book. It’s perfect for reading aloud to all the family. With characters such as the Spuggies, Sergeant Troggers and Millie, the Purple-Bellied Parrots adventure will have you hooked!

The Birthday House By Jill Treseder

I received The Birthday House by Jill Treseder as part of the Random Things Blog Tours. This murder mystery is a fantastic read, set in 1955, based on a disturbing real-life crime.

The Birthday House By Jill Treseder

The Birthday House

A Friendship. A Murder. A life that will never be the same.

The year is 1955, the location picturesque Devon. In a house by the River Dart, schoolgirl Josephine Kennedy posts invitations to her twelfth birthday party a party that never takes place. Horrific violence is committed that night in the family home, leaving all of its occupants dead.

Based on a disturbing real-life crime, this compelling story explores Josephine’s fate through the prism of friends and family – the victims and survivors who unwittingly influenced the events that led up to the tragedy.

Josephine’s best friend, Susan, is haunted by the secrets of the birthday house. Can she ever find a way of making peace with her past?

Jill Treseder

Jill Treseder - Author of The Birthday House

Taken from www.jilltresederwriter.com:


I started writing in a red shiny exercise book when I was seven years old. But in that time and place it was an ‘invalid’ activity, was overlooked, but never went away. It was many years before I felt able to call myself ‘writer’.
But there came a day when the phrase ‘I am a writer’ no longer sounded pretentious, but legitimate, and even necessary. Was it because I had a writing room instead of the corner of a landing? Or because I spent more time writing? Or because I’d got better at it? Or because I get miserable and bad-tempered if I don’t write? Probably a combination of all of the above.


Writing is my third career. The first was as a social worker with children and families, a job I loved, but left because I could no longer cope with the system.


This led to a freelance career as an independent management consultant, helping people to handle emotions in the work context. I worked in the IT industry, in companies large and small, as well as public organisations. Later I became involved in research projects concerned with the multi-disciplinary approach to social problems such as child abuse. So, in a sense, I had come full-circle.


All these experiences feed into the process of writing fiction, while my non-fiction book ‘The Wise Woman Within’ resulted indirectly from the consultancy work and my subsequent PhD thesis,‘Bridging Incommensurable Paradigms’, which is available from the School of Management at the University of Bath.


I live in Devon and visit Cornwall frequently and these land and seascapes are powerful influences which demand a presence in my writing.
Writers’ groups and workshops are a further invaluable source of inspiration and support and I attend various groups locally and sign up for creative courses in stunning locations whenever I can. I try doing writing practice at home but there is no substitute for the focus and discipline achieved among others in a group.


I have written some short stories and recently signed up for a short story writing course to explore this genre in more depth.
I live with my husband in South Devon and enjoy being involved in a lively local community.

My Thoughts

I couldn’t wait to read Jill Treseder’s The Birthday House, I love crime novels and being based on a real-life crime made this even more enticing. Beginning with Mrs Harrison, the house keeper discovering the bodies to Josephine’s best friend Susan as she hears the news and later on in life discovers there is more to the story.

I really enjoyed reading from everyone’s perspective, it gives you a clearer picture of how these crimes affect everyone from housekeepers, best friends. It also gives you am understanding of the murders thought process and a good look at the emotions and grief felt by everyone both in the lead up to the murders and after.

I read The Birthday House in one sitting as it was such a compelling and convincing read. Whilst this is only a fiction based on a real-life crime, you get the feeling Jill is very close to the mark. I would definitely recommend this novella to crime fans.

The Lagotti Family Series By Leopold Borstinski

I received The Lagotti Family Series by Leopald Bostinski to review thanks to Damp Pebbles Blog Tours. This noir crime/crime thriller includes 4 books; The Heist, The Getaway, Powder and Mama’s Gone.

The Lagotti Family Series Books 1-4 Complete Collection Including The Heist, The Getaway, Powder and Mama's Gone.

The Lagotti Family Series

Two generations and four decades in the lives of Frank, Mary Lou and the rest of the gang.

The Heist. Book 1 in The Lagotti Family Series by Leopold Borstinski

The Heist

After Leaving Baltimore Penitentiary, Frank’s get rich quick scheme to rob a bank requires his girlfriend, Mary Lou to sleep with an inside guy and for his gang to stay together long enough to take down the vault. Meanwhile Mary Lou falls for the inside man and can’t decide whether to go with him or Frank. If she chooses the wrong fella she’ll be penniless and wind up dead. How would you choose between a fool and a dreamer?

The Getaway. Book 2 of The Lagotti Family Series by Leopold Bostinski

The Getaway

After ex-con Frank and his girlfriend Mary Lou rob a Baltimore Bank, they must flee across the country before the Feds find them and the mob ices them for stealing from an organised crime boss. As they dash to California, trust becomes the most important currency as Frank and Mary Lou grapple to decide whether love is enough to keep them together. And by the time they reach their goal, they must fight to the death to survive hired guns and trained police shooters. If they don’t kill everyone in their way then they will die themselves. Would you risk everything for a sack of greenbacks?

Powder. Book 3 in The Lagotti Family Series by Leopold Borstinski

Powder

When Mary Lou takes the proceeds from a bank robbery to start her heroin dealing business, old enemies circle overhead and threaten the lives of her twins. How will she keep them safe in such a dangerous place and what is she prepared to do to secure her new venture?

Mama's Gone. Book 4 in The Lagotti Family Series by Leopold Bostinski

Mama’s Gone

When Mary Lou makes some bad decisions, her twins and her husband must decide whether she’s losing her mind. If they an get that cleared up then all they have to worry about is their feud with the Russian mob. And then someone goes and ices the old lady. Who would have the cajones to murder the head of the Lagotti family?

Leopold Borstinski

Leopold Borstinski

Leopold Bosrstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a philosphy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

My Thoughts

I was looking forward to the Lagotti Family Series, I love reading books like this. I felt there was a little too much sexual content that took over the main story line but outside of that this 4 book series is a great read. In the Heist, Mary Lou has to make some tough decisions regarding which man she truly wants to be with, or who has the most money. All four books are action-packed with car chases and violence which I really enjoyed. The characters are strong with a sense of humour and crudeness that will have you chuckling to yourself at times. Overall the series is great but a little too much sex for my liking. I quite enjoy romantic thrillers but this felt a little over the top.

Justice Gone By N. Lombardi Jr. Blog Tour

I received Justice Gone By N. Lombardi Jr. to review thanks to Damp Pebbles Book Tours.

Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr.

Justice Gone is a legal thriller and the winner of three awards including:

  • 2019 American Fiction Award
  • National Indie Excellency Award – Best Legal Thriller of 2019
  • Silver Medal Winner 2019 Reader’s Favourites Awards

The book was also chosen by Wiki.ezvid.com among their list of 10 Gripping and Intelligent Legal Thrillers.

***Trigger Warning – This book touches on subjects that may be triggering for some. ***

Justice Gone

When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.

A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counsellor, is caught up in the chase.

Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets of to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture.

Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?

N. Lombardi Jr.

N. Lombardi Jr.

N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nichola, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visitibg Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on the The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotion culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net.

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone as inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police. Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

My Thoughts

Justice Gone is everything you want in a legal thriller. It is filled with so much courtroom detail it is honestly astounding! Starting off with a gruesome beating of an innocent war veteran by cops. Lombardi pulls you into a complex story line full of twists and turns.

Lombardi explores the plight of war veterans from homelessness, police brutality, political cover ups and PTSD through Justice Gone. These are very real and serious issues making this novel extremely believable. My favourite character was the rather flamboyant and wise lawyer. Nathaniel Bodine uses his blindness in such a clever way without overdoing it to make his plans work. But can he help Donald escape the lethal injection?

Damp Pebbles Blog Tours

Hire Idiots by Professor I.M. Nemo – Blog Tour

I received Hire Idiots by Professor I.M. Nemo to review as part of the Damp Pebbles blog tour. Hire Idiots is a murder mystery published by Fox Spirit Books.

Hire Idiots Book Cover

Hire Idiots

Academia can be murder…

Prominent professor stabbed to death on the Kingsley College campus.

Untimely death strikes the comfortable college community. Unfortunately, the esteemed academic’s demise may get lost in the confusion of vice presidents, marketers, focus groups, assessors and protesters as the new administration tries to ‘modernise’ the campus. There’s no time for mystery!

Professor Clarence Van Dyke finds himself bewildered by the changes to the institution but determined to get to the bottom of things. He wants his friend rest in peace—or perhaps he just wants to spend more time with the attractive Detective Riordan. But isn’t he the prime suspect?

My Thoughts

Hire Idiots is a great read if you love a murder mystery mixed in with a bit of politics. With a lot of changes, a murder and the campus theatre being occupied by someone with a private security firm standing guard, and a budding romance, this book has a little bit of everything.

Usually a murder mysteries main focus would of course be on the murder however Professor I.M Nemo really shakes this up. With a good chunk of the book focused on the university politics it’s a fantastic but different style of murder mystery.

I really enjoyed Professor Professor Clarence Van-Dyke’s sense of humour, it is quite dark and rather satirical throughout the book.

If you love a murder mystery with a difference, then this is definitely the book for you!

Little Explorers: Goodnight Ocean – Children’s Book Review

Izzy received Little Explorers: Goodnight Ocean to review from Little Tiger. Written by Becky Davies and illustrated by Carmen Saldaña. This board book with layered die-cuts are perfect for ages 1 to 6 years. Your little one will enjoy watching sea creatures take a rest as they drift off to sleep themselves.

Little Explorers: Goodnight Oean

Little Explorers: Goodnight Ocean

Dive into the depths of the ocean and say goodnight to the sea creatures take their rest as they swim over carpets of coral to the deepest depths of the ocean.

Goodnight Ocean

The intricate peep-through scenes and facts on every page will engage children as they discover different habitats under the sea. The gentle rhyming text will slowly lull your little one to sleep making this beautiful book perfect for bedtime.

Becky Davies blends the lyrical and the factual to make learning fun. With additional facts on every page and a twinkling, foiled final spread, little explorers will love this book. Beautifully illustrated by the popular Carmen Saldaña, illustrator of the award shortlisted The only way is Badger, little ones will immersed into the depths of the ocean.

Final spread of Goodnight Ocean

Carmen Saldaña

Carmen lives in Gijon, a rainy city in the north of spain. After studying Arts, she worked as a graphic designer in advertising agencies before becoming a freelance illustrator focusing on children’s books, the field she enjoys the most. Carmen Loves furry animals, birds, bugs and everything related to nature, her main source of inspiration.

Becky Davies

Becky is a children’s book editor and sometimes author from the South West of England. Her favourite things are animals, books about magic, and anything sparkly. In a parallel universe she lives in Hawaii, where she works in a dog sanctuary and surfs until the sun sets beyond the horizon.

Do you know a little one who would love exploring the Ocean at night too?