Book Reviews · Monday Musings

Book Review – In Your Defence By Sarah Langford

Here is the good reads blurb…

SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

‘A thoughtful, elegant book. … often as thrilling as a detective novel. ‘ – Thomas Grant, QC The Times.
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Sarah Langford is a barrister. Her job is to stand in court representing the mad and the bad, the vulnerable, the heartbroken and the hopeful. She must become their voice: weave their story around the black and white of the law and tell it to the courtroom. These stories may not make headlines but they will change the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary ways. They are stories which, but for a twist of luck, might have been yours.

With remarkable candour, Sarah describes eleven cases which reveal what goes on in our criminal and family courts: these are tales of domestic fall out, everyday burglary, sexual indiscretion, and children caught up in the law. They are sometimes shocking and they are often heart-stopping. She examines how she feels as she defends the person standing in the dock. She also shows us how our attitudes and actions can shape not only the outcome of a case, but the legal system itself.

This is a strange book, it is fascinating and does provide an insight into the world of the defence system but in some ways, it is lacking. you do begin to understand that the barrister generally has very little direct contact with their clients until the day of court. They do not always know the full backstories or the details of their clients day to day existence, and I think this is part of my issue with the book.

I am a lover of true crime, I am used to being told every detail leading up to the crimes, to knowing what happened next what happens after the trial and sentencing, I am used to seeing the full story. In this book, you only see a glimpse into this world. While the stories are each different and explore numerous aspects of the defence system in the different types of court you find yourself wanting more. Yes, in one aspect that certainly demonstrates the quality of the writing and the well-selected range of cases but it also means at the end of the book you are left feeling slightly unfulfilled.

I would still recommend the book for those who are interested in the law process and getting a better understanding of how the defence system works, it would be a good book to read on the beach or on a commute as the stories are easy to put down and pick up again, but if you are expecting a true-crime style detail-packed book you will be disappointed.

I give this 3.5 stars out of 5 and as usual, will round up on Goodreads as they do not allow for half marks.

 

Book Reviews

Strip Back: Eric’s Story (Naked nights 0.5) By Ava Manello

As usual, let’s start with the Goodreads blurb…

Not all male strippers are the same.

Eric despised his manager’s seedy approach to stripping but he guessed it was better than no job at all. How wrong he was.

With no job, no restrictions and no girlfriend – thanks to finding her on her knees in front of someone else; Eric finally pursues his dream of setting up his own stripper troupe which would be all about the tease rather than the sleaze.

With nothing left to lose, Eric throws himself into creating the Naked Nights. It wasn’t always fun, and it definitely wasn’t easy but somehow he made it happen.

When you immerse yourself into the book world you meet some amazing authors, you also meet some fabulous people you love to bits but their books don’t do anything for you. Let me be perfectly honest, deciding to read a book by an Indie author I admire and respect is not something I do lightly but, having read one of her previous books, and enjoying it before I met her, I decided to give this one a go while it was free over the weekend.
The first thing I have to say is that I became aware very quickly that this was more of a prequel to her Naked Nights series and was a little concerned that the lack of prior knowledge of the characters would detract from my enjoyment but I needn’t have worried.
While the plot does develop at a fast pace, you still find yourself being engaged by the primary characters. You find yourself rooting for this seemingly doomed perfect romance while completely understanding the motivation behind both Eric and Christy’s reluctance to face the fact they are falling in love.
The secondary characters are well written and although we only see a brief glimpse into their lives there is just enough to leave you wanting more. Each character is well thought out, from the polar opposite dynamics of Tiny’s relationship to the dance past of Alex, and the rest of the newly formed troupe, you know that there will be plenty to engage within the following books if they are as well written as this.
I thoroughly enjoyed the fact this was a story with some red hot sex scenes thrown in, not some sex scenes with a rough plot holding it together. I found myself laughing at some of my own experiences in pubs and clubs during ‘Ladies Nights’ knowing exactly the types of sleazy strip routines to which the author was alluding.
If I had a criticism it would be that I wanted more, however, I accept that not having read book 1 I am not in a position to know what had already been revealed, well not yet anyway as I am pretty certain the next book will be making its way onto my new kindle.
I have no qualms about giving this a 5 out of 5-star review, I read it in one afternoon, once I started reading I didn’t want to put it down. If you would like to find out more about the author you can find here here
3d rendering of 5 gold stars
Book Reviews

Book Review – Beautiful Freaks by Katie M. John

The edition I purchased came in two books and the cover is different to the one pictured below…

we begin as always with the Goodreads Blurb…

**** A PARANORMAL GOTHIC DETECTIVE TALE ****

From the Amazon bestselling writer of ‘The Knight Trilogy’ comes the stand alone novel fans have been waiting for. ‘Beautiful Freaks’ is a decadent tapestry of all things fairytale, dark and murderous.

Between these pages you will find yourself transported back in time to the high Gothic. Victorian London.

The year is 1899 and both the century and the Queen are dying. As the London populace is gripped by a terrifying series of paranormal murders, eighteen year old Kaspian Blackthorne finds himself on a decadent journey of self discovery.

Victorian London is a place where appearance is everything, but sometimes
appearances can be deceiving. Behind the grand houses, carriages and silks, London is a dark labyrinth of sorrow and violence. Amongst the gambling dens, dancehalls, and brothels you’ll find No 7, known to its members as Eve’s; the most exclusive club in London, infamous for its ‘Palace of Beautiful Freaks’. Each exhibit has a history, each their own unique story.

First, I would like to discuss how this is written, there is, of course, an overriding arc, however, it is the detail given to each individual story within the narrative which really brings the Gothic feel to the fore. This book could have easily have been printed back in Victorian times as a Penny Dreadful or as a series as favoured by Dickens.

The individual tales based on various myths and legends are each well written and each given equal attention, over the top of all this you have the main detective story, though it could equally be described as a love story, the author weaves together love, lust, obsession, and death in a dark journey through alleyways and boudoirs alike.

I highly recommend this book, the chapters make it easy to pick up and put down without losing track of where you are but the reality is you won’t want to put it down.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

3d rendering of 5 gold stars
Book Reviews · Monday Musings

Book Review – Afterlife (Afterlife Saga #1) by Stephanie Hudson

I decided to give this book a try after the author handed out a leaflet with a sample chapter at a book signing event, it has been a while since I read a paranormal romance but the sample grabbed me…

We start as always with the Goodreads blurb.

Afterlife… just some gothic nightclub where gossip is fuelled by the presence of a rich and unearthly, handsome family or Afterlife…the strange place where time seems to stand still and guests feel the presence of something more powerful held within the confines of the VIP.

Keira is new to this small, cold town and is running from a past that seems to feast on her darkest memories. She finds living with her sister away from English soil to be just the ticket to the new life she is trying desperately to find. So when the offer of a job at the infamous Gothic nightclub Afterlife comes along she thinks that lady luck has finally found her. That is until its seductively dark and forbidding owner Dominic Draven sets eyes on her. All at once she is captivated and plunged into a world she never knew existed but the deeper her obsession with Draven becomes, the harder it is to decide…should she stay and continue to work within the shadows of the supernatural or should she run from a madness she thinks may consume her?

Warning: This book is amazingly addictive, with its dark mystery, haunting horror, seductive twists and one sexy dark lord that has the reader drooling every time the name Draven appears on the page!

I have to say this was really easy to read and I thoroughly enjoyed it, there were times where I got frustrated with the allusions to Keira’s dark past. As the story unravelled I understood why it was done the way it was but I do wish that it had either come earlier or her past been referred to slightly less however that is a personal preference.

The world building was good and I felt the author conveyed small town American in a way that was relatable to someone who has never been there. The characters were well rounded and likeable, occasionally I felt I would have like to know more about certain characters or plot point but because of the point of view this was not always possible however I look forward to reading more and hopefully seeing things from other viewpoints.

I dont want to give away too much but I did really like the twist on the ‘unearthly family

If I had found the series as a teenager I would have been in heaven, as an older reader I still got enjoyment from reading this book and though I wavered between 4.5 and 5 I am going to give it the full 5 out of 5 stars.

3d rendering of 5 gold stars
Book Reviews · Monday Musings

Book Review – Act 1 Cirque By Ashleigh Giannoccaro

I ordered this copy to collect at a book signing which sadly the author could not attend however she did send the books signed to the organisers I mention this only as I am not sure if the Amazon cover will be the same as the one I have which has Cirque written in lovely gold foil.

Let us begin as always with the GoodReads blurb…

A boy looked in a window, to see a naughty show
Through the pane of pain, the master clown did blow
The circus is a holy tent, the keeper of my rhyme
Where I forged my chains, creating this pantomime
Pretending to be normal, I wait until after dark
Then I paint the frown on, get a whore from the park
At the bottom of that bed was a darling in a chest
She watched with big eyes, horror hooking her from rest
She dances for the maniac, twirling on her strings
I will make her mine, sharing damaged things
I will be her riddle, she will help me grin
So why does she run away, she has to let me in
No one loves the clown, not even the midget
We’ve gone too far, she will know my secret
Love can break the hardest mask, I know this to be true
Nightmares have hearts too, I only needed you

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, generally anything involving clowns tends to make me think of ‘It’ but this is very different.

The exploration of not only the dark recesses of the mind but also their origins set this up to be an intriguing tale. On the one hand this is a twisted love story but it is also an examination of social norms, kinks that are hidden and those deemed acceptable. The double standards of masculinity and sexuality that allows the guys to visit the strip club but makes a sister working there unacceptable. This book challenge taboo areas, sibling rivialry and family relationships as well as the sexual desires the main character has and the way he attempts to integrate them into his nrmal life while keeping them seperate.

The book is very well written and flows well but also makes you stop and think without losing momentum in the plot. I am looking forward to reading the sequel to find out what other secrets lie hidden beneath the skin.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars.

3d rendering of 5 gold stars
1. Monday · Book Reviews

Book Review – My Journey: Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer. By Lavinia Urban

*Disclaimer I have met this author and do consider her a friend however as always the review will be 100% honest.

5

The Goodreads blurb reads…

2017 was one of the hardest times of my life. It was the year I was diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer.
In this book I lay everything bare and tell you what it is really like living with cancer.

I met Lavinia last year at Darker, by that point she was already fighting cancer. She was talking about it a little on social media however the things she relates in this book are in many cases far more personal yet show the amazing sense of humour and courage which has endeared her to so many people. When you get any serious illness there are so many little things that only other people who have suffered it can tell you, sometimes you are scared to ask in case it is just you or people will look at you differently. This is not a book about the drugs, given the conversations with doctors, or a deep philospophical discussion on the meaning of life. this is so much more. This is a no frills look at the realities of living with this terrible disease and the way this affects not only the person receiving the diagnosis but also those nearest and dearest to them.

It is a story of hope, love and laughter but there is a glimpse of the darkness threatening this remarkable family lurking in the background. I am biased not because I have met this author but because I admire her spirit and strength and believe she is truly inspirational. Almost every person I know has been touched by Cancer one way or another and thiere are parts of this book that will make you laugh, and cry. If you know someone just starting a fight against this disease buy them this book, let them know that they can fight it but also that they should never be afraid to ask anything. I can only give this book one score and that is 5 out of 5 gold stars.

You can learn more about Lavinia and her fiction here https://www.facebook.com/LaviniaUrbanAuthor/

Book Reviews

Book Review – Attic Of The Mind by Hemmie Martin

This is a book I picked up at #Darker2017 and was looking forward to reading…

As Always we start with the Goodreads blurb…

The time is right for Lilith Fields to seek revenge. Twenty-five years have passed since the sadistic abuser tortured the patients of the psychiatric ward, and now Lily has decided he must meet his final judgment. As her plan unfolds she discovers she is not the only one with a dark secret. Now, only time will tell if Lily’s demons will be vanquished, and just how many people are really involved.

The first thing I need to comment on is the size, and let me state this is not something that I consider as part of the review just personal preference, I print my books as 5 x 8 inches, this book is printed in 6 x 9 inches. I picked up a couple of books this size when I was at #Darker and I think it is partly to do with which formatting and printing services the author uses, while it does not make a great deal of difference and it will not stop me buying a book I really want to read I do find them quite cumbersome to hold. While they are closer in size to a hardback they do not have the rigidity and flap around in your hands, like I say this is personal preference but has also been interesting to me as a writer because I did at one point contemplate printing in this size so I would be interested if anyone has any feedback on that.

So onto the book itself, I loved the story. Every character you meet has their own secrets and flaws, it is hard to really judge any of them morally as this book challenges the reader to judge cause and effect, where the line between retribution and revenge lies. It is hard to feel real empathy with any of these characters, even the enigmatic Lilith is difficult to pity, this does not take away from the enjoyment of the book, it makes them more real, more lifelike.

I like to be careful not to give away spoilers however it becomes apparent very quickly who the main antagonist is, the former charge nurse Finlay Walker, if I had to pick up on one thing to criticise it would be his back story. Part way through we are given a brief insight to his childhood, I think I would like to have seen this avenue developed a little more, while it is not necessary to the plot in some ways the fact it was introduced does raise the question of if there is more to know, there is the potential for a prequel or a spin-off regarding the past and the influence other characters may have had on the overall outcome of this story.

As I have stated before it is hard sometimes judging a book by an author you have met, liked and you respect but in this case it is easy, the book was an excellent read that I have no problem recommending to anyone who is interested in dark, psychological dramas, there are twists and turns and just when you think you know where you are with everyone you can still find yourself falling down another rabbit-hole. I give this 5 out of 5 stars.