Friday, 20 December 2013

Merry Christmas

Taking a small break over Christmas, but come back in the New Year when we will be having our first giveaway (oh yes!) and even more reviews and features will be popping up.

I'll be spending the holiday period eating and spending time with my family while eating and reading while eating and cuddling corgis while eating. Or trying to eat. The corgis are pretty greedy. What will you be getting up to? And what are your holiday reads?

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Showcase Sunday #6

Showcase Sunday, hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.

This time there's no picture because there's far too many books to take pictures of! I'll just give you all a run down. And some slight teasers regarding giveaways next year. YAY for giveaways.

I got a copy of Mari Hannah's Monument to Murder (DCI Kate Daniels #4) for my mum at Waterstones when the author was there signing books, so I picked up a signed copy of The Murder Wall to give away in the New Year, so keep your eyes peeled. I also got And Then There Were none by Agatha Christie (Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea says it's a good place to start with Agatha Christie) and Blood Harvest by SJ Bolton. And then there's the abundance of totally-unrelated-to-this-blog books including even more signed swag that I won in the Authors for the Philippines auction and will also be giving away and a few festive buys including a new binding of Ballet Shoes which is so unbelievably pretty.

I have lots of festive offerings from Net Galley too. Only now my 76.6% feedback rating is down to 58%. Whoospie! But I'm looking forward to The Sacrificial Man by Ruth Dugdall

On the audiobook front I grabbed myself Soulless by Gail Carriger. It's one of my favourite series ever and I don't care how many times I've already read it, I'm seriously enjoying the audiobook.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Now You See Me by SJ Bolton

I don't think I've ever read a book quite like this. It is amazing. As a fan of crime, mystery and thriller books, I'm always on the lookout for new series to get invested in. And wow, am I invested. This series has me in its grasp and isn't letting go.

From the first chapter (and wow, what a start!) I couldn't out this down. I was walking around with it held up in front of me, reading as much as I could during breaks, abandoning meals in favour of reading. I really could not put this down.

I loved the chemistry between the characters - it felt so real. And those simmering feelings that Lacey and Joesbury try to bury - wowsers.

This book is so so clever. And as the first in a series it is truly excellent. When I reached the end I immediately bought the second. And while I was waiting in the line at the till I downloaded the novella that takes place between the two. The ending was just... I can't think of words. But it was shocking and I gaped like a fish and needed to read the next one straight away.

Having read so much, I am always delighted to find something that grips me so much, that entertains me and characters that stand out from that crowded fictional platform. And boy, does Lacey Flint stand out.

Thank you so much to Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea for her amazing reviews of this book, I would never have found it and became addicted otherwise.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Showcase Sunday #5

Showcase Sunday, hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.

So, still no fixed camera, but at the same time I didn't get so much for myself... Mostly Christmas presents which I can't post here in case certain people see them! The good news is that I'm probably keeping the local bookshops in business with my "can't walk past without popping in and buying something" habit.

But look what came through the door this week! Oh yes, it's Lacey Flint book 3! Super excited to start this, but trying to get my currently reading down a few books and to catch up on reviews.

From Net Galley I had another few YA and this little gem is now sitting on my Kindle. Long Way Home comes out in January next year and is the first in a new series. So fingers crossed it's good. The cover's certainly great.

I got a little more than usual this week on Audible because there's been a sale on and I'm a sucker for sales. And with some audiobooks costing over four times as much as the paperback I really can't resist when they're reduced right down!


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Top Ten Bookish Things I Am Thankful For

Top 10 Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's is Top Ten Things I Am Thankful For. And as a bookworm I changed it to bookish rather than just everything.

1. Libraries
Where would any self-respecting bookworm be without a library? I've spent whole days in libraries, from the moment they open to the moment they close. And there's so much to do! From author events to exhibitions, specialist talks to book-groups. And it's all free!

2. Charity Shops
I spent a long time as a very poor bookworm and charity shops were my favourite book-buying haunt. Not only was I getting a new book to read, it was at a bargain price and I was doing good at the same time. After I finished I'd return them so they could be sold again. Always left me feeling warm and fuzzy!

3. Goodreads
I don't know what it is about that place, but I love it. Mostly. I love that there are so many people just like me who just won't shut up about all things books.

4. Local Publishers
I LOVE everything local. And what could possibly be better than local books: set in the local area, written by a local author, edited by a local, typeset by a local, designed by a local, printed by a local printers,... How could a book be any better than that?

5. Author Events
Even though I'm quite a shy person, author events bring me out of my silent shell a little and I mingle with fellow readers and maybe even get brave enough to ask a question. I never sit in the front though. If there's anything school conditioned into me it was sit at the front and you get picked on. And hello, signed books!

6. My Kindle
Now I have an e-reader I don't have to carry so many books with me - I have my usual paperback and then my kindle for backup. Before that I'd have 2 or 3 books about my person at all times and boy could it be heavy. I'm looking at you, trade hardbacks.

7. Review Copies
If there's one thing I like more than reading, it's talking about what I've recently read. And everyone likes to brag. So when a lovely review copy arrives through the door and I read it and love it I can't shut up about it - partly because it was awesome and partly because of my first-to-read bragging rights.

8. Net Galley
This ties in with Review Copies. I've discovered some AMAZING new authors on Net Galley, although at times I let myself get a little overwhelmed by the amount I request. And then there's the auto-approvals and read-now section...

9. Bookish Memes
I absolutely LOVE connecting with other readers and I love a lot of the memes than help everyone connect. I'm super nosy so Showcase Sunday and Top Ten Tuesday keep my nosiness topped up and help me discover new reviewers and friends and invariably even more books to read!

10. A Really Good Book
You know the books, the ones you can re-read over and over and never get bored, the ones you tell everyone about and pass round your friends. The ones that keep you thinking days, weeks, months and even years after you first read them. A truly excellent book is the greatest treasure.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Showcase Sunday #4

Showcase Sunday, hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.

Camera malfunction this week, so no photos of my haul. But it's just as well, I have a lot! This week I discovered Sharon Bolton and so bought the first book. Then the short. Then book two. Look out for book three as soon as I can get my hands on it! Oh, and any other of her books I find.

Then my next two Kate Ellis books fell through the door. I really can't get enough of this series, it's seriously addictive. The books are quite short and I find myself racing through them.

Someone mentioned Haunted Ground by Erin Hart to me at some point and so I got that too. Because why not, it looks pretty good. It was difficult to find though and I ended up getting it on Amazon as no bookshops had it.

Lots of YA stuff from NetGalley this week, but that's for another blog. Although Anne Cassidy, if you have any ARCs of Finding Jennifer Jones feel free to send one this way. Seriously, I can't wait to get my hands on it. And the review would look lovely on here.

Nothing on the audio book front either as I didn't finish my last one. I kept leaving my headphones at home so ended up with plain old earplugs and a few headaches instead of a softly playing audiobook at work.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Top Ten Books I'd Recommend to Those New to Crime

Top 10 Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's is Top Ten Books I'd Recommend To X Person. I never started off my reading life as a crime, mystery and thriller lover - I was all about young adult and fantasy and historical romance. If I were starting out my reading journey again then these are the books I'd come to first.
These are the books that introduced me to the genre, the books that I love the most, the books that kept me up all night. A lot of them were on the North East Teenage Book Award short-list on the years I was a student-judge and those awards were probably what most broadened my reading.

1. Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy
This book was one of my first forays into the world of crime and it was a rather different view, a unique perspective. I read it in high school when it was shortlisted for the North East Teenage Book Awards. It's a book that's stayed with me since I first read it - almost ten years ago now! - and which really made me think.

2. Knots & Crosses by Ian Rankin
My mum was always a fan of Ian Rankin and so it was only natural that one day I'd pick up one of her Rebus books. And I loved it. Perhaps it was because Rebus reminded me a little of my dad, but I've always enjoyed reading the Inspector Rebus novels. I love how gritty they are and there's a reason they're bestsellers.
3. Fleshmarket by Nicola Morgan
Oh look, another North East Teenage Book Awards finalist! This was a pretty dark read, but what I remember most is the terrible joke the author made at the awards ceremony about her skirt being made of human skin. It was a little cringe-y. But the book itself is gripping and taught me a little about the body-snatchers.
4. The Merchant's House by Kate Ellis
So, I only discovered Kate Ellis' Wesley Peterson series this year,  but I wish I'd found it sooner! It's a great series with a chilling and clever mix of crime and archaeology which I am very much addicted to. There is a wide cast of characters and despite the length of the books they all get covered and you grow to like and dislike them.

5. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
This whole series is a crazy mix of magic and crime and the pages are filled with the hilarious antics of the characters and Peter Grant learning how to use magic and the consequences that usage has. These books are fun, but you have to go into them with an open mind.

6. Martyn Pig by Kevin Brooks
Martyn Pig was my second Kevin Brooks book and it's a good 'un. This is very much a young adult book but can definitely be read by adults - and should be. I love the intricacies of the relationships with the characters and how bleak everything seems.

7. The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
The Other Typist is a great way to slide into crime from general literature and women's fiction. It's engaging and lavish and filled with sneaky twists. This book really gets to you. I read it when it first came out and cannot get it out of my head.

8. Natural Causes by James Oswald
If you start with something like this then you'll be jumping in to the deep end. But why not? Natural Causes is a fantastic, dark, gritty crime with a slight hint of fantasy which is so wonderfully written that it's up to you, the reader, to decide whether you believe.

9. Run for Home by Sheila Quigley
I absolutely love this series and I love Lorraine Hunt, the main character. This would be a whole series to read rather than just the first book - you'd get so much more from it. Sheila Quigley explores a lot of issues brilliantly and the plots are well thought out.

10. Stalking Sapphire by Mia Thompson
Stalking Sapphire is a very different sort of book, both as a New Adult and as a crime thriller. It's strong, fast paced and original. Sapphire is a very refreshing character who grows as the novel progresses.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Chasing the Dead by Tim Weaver

This d├ębut David Raker thriller by Tim Weaver is excellent. It's actually amazing. British thriller writing at it's best.

It's real and gritty and you really get to know the main character really well. You get to feel him grow and change as the story progresses and the slow reveal of his history adds to the suspense of the book.

I usually don't like violence in books, but the toe-curling, fist-clenching brutal events in this books worked for me. Sure, I felt sick and almost like crying, but I read on. It always toed the line between being too-much and just-enough.

David Raker is a pretty complex character. He has his ups and downs, his history which is slowly revealed throughout the book.

The sense of mystery and suspense in the book borders on epic. It builds and twists and turns all the way up to the stunning finale.

Once I got to the end I wanted to read more. Cue me buying the rest of the series and so far it certainly doesn't disappoint. And the covers are creepy and chilling and beautiful all at once.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Showcase Sunday #3

Showcase Sunday, hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.

At first, this week's haul was pretty small. The next Mari Hannah book, a gorgeous non-fiction about King Oswald (Tolkien's inspiration for Aragon in LotR) and a new book journal to scribble my review notes in.

Local books ahoy!
But I've been spending the weekend in Alnwick and ended up in Barter Books. This shop is amazing and if you ever get the chance then GO GO GO. The Little Book of Poison,s Potions and Aphrodisiacs was from the shop at Alnwick Gardens (freaking gorgeous place, I get annual memberships every year) and I thought it'd be a great companion to the Poison Diaries series.

I love old books. And new books. All books really.

The Net Galley pick this week was Run to Me, which I've been hearing all sorts of wonderful about. I hope it lives up to the glowing reviews I've read so far! And it's got a pretty neat cover, promising all sorts of thrilling reading and twists.

Looks to be pretty thrilling

I decided on TF Muir's Eye for an Eye for my work-time listen this week. I've never read any TF Muir but I've heard great things and it was on offer. So I'm starting at the beginning of the series and crossing my fingers that it's good.

Good ol' crime!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

The Armada Boy by Kate Ellis

A great second book to the Wesley Peterson series.

I didn't enjoy this one quite so much as the first, but it was still really really good. I think it's because I didn't feel as much interest for the historical side of it this time round - the Spanish Armada wasn't taught to me at school (we jumped from Henry VIII to Queen Victoria) and there was never the same threat up here.

That the WW2 events in this book were based on real events was shocking and more than a little heartbreaking. Live ammo for an exercise? That more men could be lost in a single training exercise than in the whole of the D-Day happenings is just crazy.

I didn't feel that the American veterans were characterised as well as they could have been. But the rest of the characters were spot on.

I'd kind of guessed at the ending, the historical aspects of the book mirroring them made it pretty easy to work out. But I still enjoyed the story right to the end.

The best part of these books is the weaving of historical and contemporary crimes. Kate Ellis does this wonderfully and has a beautiful writing style that I just can't get enough of.

And yes, I've ordered the next one.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Merchant's House by Kate Ellis

It's rare for me to finish a book in just one sitting nowadays when I'm so busy but I managed it with this one. And now I'm desperate to get my hands on the next in the series!

This story is a wonderful and very unique blend of modern crime, thriller, mystery and historical conspiracy. And it works so so well.

I couldn't stop turning the pages, reading on. Something about this book just hooked me. Kate Ellis' writing style is very addictive and I couldn't get enough.

I loved that there was a historical aspect to it. This detective was more than just crime-orientated, he has outside interests and it was a refreshing depth of character to read. And I loved the way his archaeological background related to the story itself and eventually led to its resolve. It made the whole story refreshing and quite addictive.

The characters are strong and I love Rachel's feminist grumbles. It adds an extra layer to her and makes her one of my favourite characters. Why should she get the tea just because she's female?

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Top Ten Covers I Wish I Could Redesign

Top 10 Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's is Top Ten Covers I Wish I Could Redesign. Sometimes I look at a book cover and I just think "What? Are you serious?" Here are my Top Ten (in no particular order) for Crime, Mystery and Thrillers which could really do with a new cover...

  1. Promise You Won't Tell by John Locke
  2. In Too Deep by Bea Davenport
  3. Looking For JJ by Anne Cassidy
  4. A Taste For Blood by David Stuart Davies
  5. Witch Hunt by Tabitha Morrow
  6. The Operator by Valerie Laws
  7. Someone To Watch Over Me by Madeline Reiss
  8. The Murder Wall by Mari Hannah
  9. The Queen Of Everything by Deb Caletti
  10. The Complaints by Ian Rankin

Monday, 11 November 2013

The Hangman's Song by James Oswald

The Hangman's Song picks up right where The Book Of Souls left off. The first chapter grabs you and holds you tight, dropping you right in to the story and introducing you to the chilling madness of this latest book.

I felt so sad reading much of this. You learn even more about Tony McLean and each thing I learn about him makes me want to learn more. This book is slightly bitter in its tone, and Tony is bitter too - and it should be that way. After everything that's already happened and what happens in this, McLean has every right to be bitter.

I loved the snarky bitterness in the narrative, the digs at the general public, at the police force, at anyone who got in McLean's way and at the coffee. I loved Mrs McCutcheon's cat, whose actions seemed so closely to mirror McLean's throughout the book, even if he didn't realise.

Although it seemed at first that this book was more toned down, it wasn't - the story was just more complex, a little deeper and more subtle. And much, much darker than anything we've read of McLean before, despite the humour and the sarcasm which bring a very much needed breath of lightness.

I didn't see that ending coming, although I suppose I should have. I just couldn't believe it would actually happen. I thought the ending was quite poignant, despite the desperation obvious in the pages.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Showcase Sunday #2

Showcase Sunday, hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.

This week is my own swag from Waterstones and Tipping Point, sent to me by indie author Walter Danley. Kate Ellis is my current crime-addiction and I just can't get enough of her Wesley Peterson series.

Not much, but I can't wait to get stuck in!

When I finished James Oswald's Book of Souls earlier this week, the first thing I did was tweet Penguin begging for the next. So imagine my surprise when I logged on to Net Galley and it was sitting there waiting for me to download. YES! Needless to say, I finished it mere hours after downloading it. Check back for my review.

*insert fan-girling here*
This week I've picked up Locked In by Kerry Wilkinson from Audible to listen to at work. I have to wear hearing protection anyway, so my sound excluding headphones with a quietly playing audio book work just as well and kill two birds with one stone.

Time to Tune Out the Machinery

Friday, 8 November 2013

The Book Of Souls by James Oswald

James Oswald has avoided the second-book-curse with The Book Of Souls. It is every bit as gripping, thrilling, and down-right excellent as the first Inspector McLean. With this book, James Oswald has further established himself as one to watch in the crime fiction genre.

The first chapter isn't as horrifying as the first chapter in Natural Causes, and thank goodness. But it is still every bit as powerful, dragging you into the story.

You learn more than ever about Detective Constable Tony McLean in this novel. You realise just how much he's been through. I guess it didn't strike me as much in the first as I felt so much more when reading this one.

This book starts with a twist. And then they keep coming, keep sending the story in another direction until you get to that thrilling, heart-stopping ending.

I read the entirety of the end of this book with my mouth open in shock. I couldn't stop reading, couldn't put it down, until I knew what had happened, how it would end. Riveting, addictive, shocking... I could never have predicted that.

Again, the author brings in a take-it-or-leave-it fantasy element. I love that it's left up to the reader to decide whether they believe it or not, just as it's left up to the characters. I also love how it brings internal conflict to Tony McLean, as he himself has to decide whether he believes in such powers.

With that ending, I am itching to get my hands on the next book.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Silencing Sapphire by Mia Thompson

This book is slightly different from the first, but I'm not altogether sure how. It's excellent though, and I enjoyed every moment of my reading experience.

As part of a series, it works great. There is a summary of the previous book but it isn't glaringly obvious and obtrusive. It's subtle and fits really well into the story as it's narrated. As such, this would also work well as a standalone. But I'd suggest reading the first book too, because it is all kinds of wonderful and it will give you a better experience overall.

How much of my copy have I highlighted for awesomeness? About 90%. The only reason the whole thing isn't highlighted is it would have made my eyes go all funny. I've picked out quote after quote for so many reasons, from being hilarious to being awesome writing.

Sapphire is one of my favourite characters I've read this year. She gets herself into such situations... And she is so strong. Physically and mentally, she kicks butt and kicks it well. She juggles these two completely different lives and she still manages to keep it all together. I'm addicted to reading about her antics, to watching as she develops.

Silencing Sapphire is more brutal and shocking than Stalking Sapphire and still has that refreshing lack of graphic sex which makes it really stand out as excellent within the New Adult genre. This book doesn't need the allure of sex, it's perfect all on its own with fantastic writing and excellent pace. The pacing is just as subtle and gripping as in the first book, with the same jaw-dropping WHAT?! ending that leaves you desperately wanting to read more.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Top Ten Sequels I Can't Wait To Get My Hands On

Top 10 Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's is Top Ten Sequels I Can't Wait To Get My Hands On, and what a tough choice this was. So, here are my Top Ten for Crime, Mystery and Thrillers. Some are yet to be released, some I just haven't got round to buying, some are difficult to find... But I can't wait to read them all.

  1. The Hangman's Song (Inspector McLean Book 3) by James Oswald 
  2. As Yet Untitled (David Raker Book 5) by Tim Weaver 
  3. Monument to Murder (DCI Kate Daniels Book 4) by Mari Hannah 
  4. As Yet Untitled (Stalking Sapphire Book 3) by Mia Thompson 
  5. Blind Alley (Inspector Jack Brady Book 3) by Danielle Ramsay 
  6. Wrapped in White (PI John Craine Book 3) by Kevin Books 
  7. Saints of the Shadow Bible (Inspector Rebus Book 19) by Ian Rankin 
  8. A Painted Doom (Wesley Perterson Book 6) by Kate Ellis 
  9. As Yet Untitled (Bruce and Bennett Book 3) by Valerie Laws 
  10. The Road to Hell (Lorraine Hunt Book 5) by Sheila Quigley 

Monday, 4 November 2013

Stalking Sapphire by Mia Thompson

Stalking Sapphire is full of mystery and suspense and WOW at those twists. I thought I had everything figured out and then my mind was blown by the who-dunnit twist.

The writing is strong, the plot unravels at a delicious pace, gripping yet slow and subtle. It really is fantastic.

Sapphire is a great character - you know and understand her motives right from the start. She's confused and tense and there are reasons for that. Aston grew on me, as I wasn't sure about him at first, I didn't know whether I liked him. I think he perhaps grew the most as a character so I ended up liking him by the end and enjoying reading his parts.

This is New Adult as it should be written - yeah, there's a little teensy tiny bit of sex, but it's not overkill. It's not even graphically described (THANK YOU!). This story is Sapphire and her transition from young adult to adult. She has to sort out her own life, get her priorities right, and catch that killer! And Mia Thompson writes it wonderfully.

I cannot wait for the next one. Especially with that extra twist at the end. Can I have it now, please?

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Showcase Sunday #1

Showcase Sunday, hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea

This week is mostly my own purchases and therefore Crime. But there is a lovely little horror I was sent by Quercus and can't wait to get stuck into. I've been on a horror binge of late and I'm really enjoying what I'm reading.

This week's physical haul

Now, when it comes to Net Galley... Well, I'm auto-approved by too many publishers for my own good. But I did get an invitation for Silencing Sapphire, the second in the Stalking Sapphire series by Mia Thompson.
This week I got three audiobooks. I just couldn't help it. Hunger by Melvin Burgess, a horror by one of my favourite authors so how could I resist? I picked up The Quietness by Alison Rattle, a creepy historical thriller. I also bought Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes but I've already had to return it. I did listen to the sample and all, but the narrator was not for me.

Ear Phones In

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Natural Causes by James Oswald

You can't talk about this book in any way without first mentioning the opening chapter. My toes curled, my hands were in fists, and my throat hurt. I had to suppress the urge to throw up. The first chapter of this book is powerful - the imagery is horrifying and stops just short of being too much. It is terrifying that it could even be conceivable, grotesque that it could possibly happen. But it works. This chapter serves its purpose and serves it well. If you ever forget it then you're lucky - and you will not forget it before you finish the book.

All I wanted to know for much of this book was who that poor young woman was, the girl who suffered such a fate and who did it. That you are reminded of this first, terrible act throughout the book only makes the reader more keen to finish this riveting read and solve the mystery with McLean.

The tone is not all horrifying gore. The characters bring a well needed injection of humour and mystery and a sense of realness. The reader is slowly fed information about McLean, his past does not overshadow the story at all.

This is a well rounded crime novel, with just enough of everything to make it perfect. James Oswald surely knew that to write about a Detective Inspector in Edinburgh would invite comparisons to Ian Rankin's Rebus and seemingly makes a nod to this near the very end, with a Police Constable reading one of Rankin's books.

I wasn't sure about the slight fantasy element at first, but it worked well with the story and resolved itself by the end. It's written in such a way that it's up to the reader to decide whether they want to include the fantastical or not. I've never read such a real crime story so well-woven with a hint of fantasy, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Friday, 1 November 2013

To New Beginnings

So, new blog time. Why? Because I've realised I'm something of a crime junkie. I'm addicted to the thrill, the mystery and the bitchiness. But Tea Party Princess is kind of my home for Young Adult, New Adult and Chick-Lit, which is only a small portion of my reading.

You'll find reviews of Crime, Mystery and Thriller books on here. Oh, and any Horrors that I happen to pick up, as they tend to fit quite snugly into those categories too. Maybe even some fantasy, although I don't read as much of that as I did when I was younger. I read a lot of work by local authors so expect some particular attention paid to any local writers.

Reviews will most likely be posted sporadically through the week, with no set timetable, because that's not how reading works for me. Some weeks I'll read one book that whole week, and others I can read several a day.

This Northern Reader is going to be full of features and giveaways. The whole giveaway thing is pretty new to me, but I really want to share