Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Review : Don't Wake Up by Liz Lawler

Don't Wake Up

Published by Bonnie Zaffre
18 May 2017
Copy : Ebook from Readers First

The Blurb

Alex Taylor wakes up tied to an operating table.

The man who stands over her isn't a doctor.

The offer he makes her is utterly unspeakable.

But when Alex re-awakens, she's unharmed - and no one believes her horrifying story. Ostracised by her colleagues, her family and her partner, she begins to wonder if she really is losing her mind.

And then she meets the next victim.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

This novel has one of the most eerie opening chapters I think I have read.  It takes, what I would assume to be most peoples fear, and lays it bare on a page.  Alex Taylor, hospital doctor, wakes up and finds herself on an operating table - as if that is scary enough on it's own, she finds this isn't an accident, she is there for a reason, someone is very upset with her and wants to make her pay.

Of course, Alex - for reasons unknown to her - is set free from this horror and finds herself being discovered by a search party.  Lucky her.  What is not so lucky is no one believes her story about her abduction and as her world gradually unravels she even starts to question her own sanity.

This is certainly a punchy opener and it would be impossible for the novel to continue in such a explosive way, but it certainly continues at a pace and with the same eerie darkness.  Having said that it is not grotesque or gruesome, it more just plays on common fears and it makes you live out what would be a pretty nasty dream.

Alex quickly realises that although she was freed from her ordeal it is far from over and her abductor has not finished with their work.  What continues is a women, with no support on her theory of what happened, finding herself getting deeper and deeper in a situation she can not control.  A game of cat or mouse where she is most definitely being used as the play thing.

When the big reveal comes I was quite surprised, the author does well to cast reasonable doubt over most of the characters and I was constantly wondering if it was maybe him or her, or if indeed Alex did imagine it all.  If I was being brutally honest, maybe the truth when it came to light was a little on the far fetched side of the radar, but to be honest, I enjoyed the journey of getting to the truth that didn't bother me and I thought the author went to great lengths to try and give the reason for what happens. 

Coble uses common fears to really pump up the heartrate in this novel, which is clever.  I certainly found the use of locations really did put me on edge, the use of hospitals and their maze like nature really helped with the atmosphere of the novel, mirroring the maze of puzzles that work through Alex's mind and therefore the readers. 

If you enjoy a gritty thriller then you will enjoy Liz Lawler's Don't Wake Up and it receives a Very Pink Notebook rating of :






Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Tour and Review : Troll by D.B. Thorne

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of the Troll by D. B. Thorne
blog tour.  With thanks to Kate at Atlantic Books (Corvus) for involving me in the tour and for an advance copy of the book.

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Published by : Corvus Books
01 June 2017
Copy : Paperback provided by the publisher

The Blurb

Years ago, Fortune gave up on his daughter, Sophie, after a troubled adolescence.  Now she's gone missing, vanished without trace. And after weeks of investigation, the police have given up on her, too.

Driven by guilt, and a determination to atone for his failures as a father, he takes on the search himself. He soon finds that his daughter had been living in fear of a vicious online troll who seemed to know far too much about her. Could Sophie's disappearance be linked to this unknown predator? Fortune is about to discovers that monsters which live online don't always stay there...  

The Very Pink Notebook Review


If you want a psychological thriller of epic proportions then Troll by D. B. Thorne is a must read.

This novel starts unsettling and bit by bit gets darker and more twisted, but in a very real and also moving way.

Told in a two-fold narrative, the story is pinned together by Fortune, a 54 year old successful businessman, but failed father and husband and Sophie, Fortune's daughter who is missing, presumed dead.

It is difficult to try and review this book because I do not want to give anything away, so all I will say is the author has done an amazing job of deconstructing and reconstructing a very intricate and complicated plot in a way that will make it impossible to put down (Case in point - I read this in one day!)  It is so clever and well thought out, I would love to know, from a writers perspective, how the author went about planning and plotting for this one because I am not sure I would have known where to start.

I also said that although dark, this is a moving book.  And it really is.  It looks at the dynamics of dysfunctional families, the relationships between husband and wife, parents and children, in a deep way. 

The novel tackles several difficult themes - again I won't mention specifics because I do not want to hint or reveal anything, but just to say they are handled well, so you can feel the power of them but you are not left with a stomach turned.  Again, this is done through excellent writing by D. B. Thorne.

With it's clear and clever structure, flawless writing, strong characters and excellent use of locations this is definitely one of the best psychological thrillers I have read this year and I will certainly be making a point of picking up the other books by this author.

Troll by D. B. Thorne receives nothing less than a Very Pink Notebook rating of :


About the Author

D. B. Thorne has worked as a writer for the last 15 years, originally in advertising, then in television and radio comedy.  He has written material for many comedians, including Jimmy Carr, Alan Carr, David Mitchell and Bob Mortimer.  He was a major contributor to the BAFTA-winning Armstrong and Miller Show, and has worked on shows including Facejacker, Harry and Paul and Alan Carr : Chatty Man.  Troll is his fourth novel.

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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Tour and Review : Two Lost Boys by L. F. Robertson

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of the Two Lost Boys by L. F. Robertson
blog tour.  With thanks to Philippa at Titan Books for involving me in the tour and for an advance copy of the book.

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Published by : Titan Books
16 May 2017
Copy : Paperback provided by Publisher

The Blurb

She knows he's guilty, but guilty of what?

Janet Moodie has spent years as a death row appeals attorney. Overworked and recently widowed, she's had her fill of hopeless cases, and is determined that this will be her last. Her client is Marion 'Andy' Hardy, convicted along with his brother Emory of the rape and murder of two women. But Emory received a life sentence while Andy got the death penalty, labeled the ringleader despite his low IQ and Emory's dominant personality.

Convinced that Andy's previous lawyers missed mitigating evidence that would have kept him off death row, Janet investigates Andy's past. She discovers a sordid and damaged upbringing, a series of errors on the part of his previous counsel, and most worrying of all, the possibility that there is far more to the murders than was first thought. Andy may be guilty, but does he deserve to die?

The Very Pink Notebook Review

Two lost boys is a well written legal drama.  Being a big Grisham fan I was really happy to be asked to review this title and it did give me the nostalgia of reading a JG novel.  It is what it says, it is a legal drama, and we are taken through it via female protagonist Janet Moodie. 

Moodie is living a lonely life following the death of her husband and flying of the nest by only son Gavin.  She has retreated to a quieter world, away from the city and death row and stares that make her feeling guilty about her husbands suicide.  What the reader is left with is a very simple women who is just trying to recover from a massive trauma. 

I think it is her own life upsets which compels are to tackle the case of Marion 'Andy' Hardy.  She is convinced that although guilty for sure of some part in his crime the truth has not actually come out.  She is convinced his past is the key to his way out of a death penalty.  And that is what the book investigates.  The reader is merely on the journey with Moodie and fellow investigator Dave as they try and delve into the family history and events that could have made Andy the person he is today. 

This is not a story that is going to set your world alight with twists and turns.  But, if you enjoy reading about the structure and routine that goes into the legal world in something such as a death penalty appeal, then you will enjoy this book.  It's writing flows easily and clearly, it keeps a steady pace and you really do get a good feel for the characters.  It really is quite a sad and morose story.

On occasion I did find some of the chapters a little repetitive and wasn't quite sure how they had moved the plot forward, but on the whole I did thoroughly enjoy the tale told my L. F. Robertson in this book.  The ending I at first found a little flat, but as the day wore on I realised it was a very realistic ending and, actually, I quite liked that.

Two Lost Boys by L. F. Robertson receives a solid :


About the Author

L. F. Robertson is a practising defence attorney who for the last two decades has handled only death penalty appeals.  Linda is the co-author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Unsolved Mysteries, and a contributor to the forensic handbooks How to Try a Murder and Irrefutable Evidence.  She has had short stories published in the anthologies My Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes : the Hidden Years and Sherlock Holmes : The American Years. 

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Thursday, 18 May 2017

Tour & Giveaway - Reconciliation for the Dead by Paul E. Hardisty

Book Giveaway

To celebrate the upcoming publication of
Reconciliation for the Dead (Claymore Straker Series 3) by Paul E. Hardisty (Orenda Books) 
The Very Pink Notebook is hosting a giveaway!

To get your hands on a copy of this gritty thriller click on this link and retweet the pinned tweet - Simple!  A winner will be selected at random on publication day (30 May 2017) and notified via twitter.

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Published by : Orenda Books
30 May 2017
Copy for Competition : Provided by Publisher

The Blurb

Fresh from events in Yemen and Cyprus, vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker returns to South Africa, seeking absolution for the sins of his past. Over four days, he testifies to Desmond Tutu’s newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission, recounting the shattering events that led to his dishonourable discharge and exile, fifteen years earlier. It was 1980. The height of the Cold War. Clay is a young paratrooper in the South African Army, fighting in Angola against the Communist insurgency that threatens to topple the White Apartheid regime. On a patrol deep inside Angola, Clay, and his best friend, Eben Barstow, find themselves enmeshed in a tangled conspiracy that threatens everything they have been taught to believe about war, and the sacrifices that they, and their brothers in arms, are expected to make. Witness and unwitting accomplice to an act of shocking brutality, Clay changes allegiance and finds himself labelled a deserter and accused of high treason, setting him on a journey into the dark, twisted heart of institutionalised hatred, from which no one will emerge unscathed. Exploring true events from one of the most hateful chapters in South African history, Reconciliation for the Dead is a shocking, explosive and gripping thriller from one finest writers in contemporary crime fiction.


Praise for Paul E. Hardisty

‘A solid, meaty thriller – Hardisty is a fine writer and Straker is a great lead character’ Lee Child

‘A trenchant and engaging thriller that unravels this mysterious land in cool, precise sentences’ Stav Sherez, Catholic Herald

‘Just occasionally, a book comes along to restore your faith in a genre – and Paul Hardisty does this in spades’ Sharon Wheeler, Crime Review

This is a remarkably well-written, sophisticated novel in which the people and places, as well as frequent scenes of violent action, all come alive on the page...’ Literary Review

‘Hardisty doesn’t put a foot wrong in this forceful, evocative thriller … the author’s deep knowledge of the settings never slows down the non-stop action, with distant echoes of a more-moral minded Jack Reacher or Jason Bourne’ Maxim Jakubowski


About the Author

Canadian Paul E Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist.  He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa.  He was Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels.  In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a cafĂ© in Sana's.  Paul is a university professor, visiting professor at Imperial College, London, and Director of Australia's national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaption research programmes.  His debut thriller was shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger and Telegraph thriller of the year.  He lives in Western Australia.


Sunday, 14 May 2017

Review : The Vinyl Detective - The Run-Out Groove by Andrew Cartmel

31670986
Published by : Titan Books
9 May 2017
Copy : ARC copy received from publisher

The Blurb

His first adventure consisted of the search for a rare record; his second the search for a lost child. Specifically the child of Valerian, lead singer of a great rock band of the 1960s, who hanged herself in mysterious circumstances after the boy's abduction.

Along the way, the Vinyl Detective finds himself marked for death, at the wrong end of a shotgun, and unknowingly dosed with LSD as a prelude to being burned alive. And then there's the grave robbing...
 

The Very Pink Notebook Review

The second in a trilogy, The Vinyl Detective - The Run-Out Groove, is another well written, laugh out loud (well, I did) confident offering from Andrew Cartmel.

Thrust back into the world of the Vinyl Detective (name of the character is, as yet, not revealed - which must be quite tricky for the author to work around!) I did wonder how similar the storyline would be to the first, given essentially at the beginning the protagonist was after another rare record.  I need not have worried, it is vastly different and again, despite the humour running throughout it is actually a serious plot.

Packed with another set of punchy characters, I was glad to see the return of some others, namely Nevada, Tinkler, Stinky and Fanny and Turk (the cats) and to travel around the rocker scene of past era's in the search for the truth about wild child Valerian.  We are given a colourful history of the women in question via people who were close to the singer, and discover some uncomfortable truths about her family along the way.

Of course, when the truth is somewhat misty, it is usually so for a reason and the Vinyl Detective and Co quickly discover there is someone that wishes for it to remain that way.  Not quite sure if they are in 'Paranoia Heights' after their last dramatic escapade, the gang must try and determine who they can trust, if anyone.

Although it didn't have me quite as 'on the edge of my seat' as book number one, I did thoroughly enjoy book number two and would again highly recommend it.  I also learned what, exactly, a Run-Out Groove is.

As such The Vinyl Detective - The Run-Out Groove by Andrew Cartmel receives a Very Pink Notebook rating of :


About the Author

Andrew Cartmel is a novelist and screenwriter.  His work for television includes Midsomer Murders and Torchwood, and a legendary stint as Script Editor on Doctor Who.  He has also written plays for the London Fringe, toured as a stand-up comedian, and is currently co-writing with Ben Aaronovitch a series of comics based on the bestselling Rivers of London books.  He lives in London.

The Vinyl Detective Books

The Vinyl Detective The Run-Out Groove is out on 9th May 2017.
The Vinyl Detective Victory Disc is out May 2018.
    

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Review : The Vinyl Detective - Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel

26109016
Published by : Titan Books
10 May 2016
Copy : Paperback - Received from Publisher

The Blurb


He is a record collector — a connoisseur of vinyl, hunting out rare and elusive LPs. His business card describes him as the “Vinyl Detective” and some people take this more literally than others.

Like the beautiful, mysterious woman who wants to pay him a large sum of money to find a priceless lost recording — on behalf of an extremely wealthy (and rather sinister) shadowy client.

Given that he’s just about to run out of cat biscuits, this gets our hero’s full attention. So begins a painful and dangerous odyssey in search of the rarest jazz record of them all…


The Very Pink Notebook Review


Behind the slapstick style jacket of Written in Dead Wax lies an extremely complex plot which Andrew Cartmel delivers with both ease and humour.

I absolutely loved the way this book has been written, it is plain, straight-forward and down to earth.  Even though it has a lot of information about vintage record collecting, all it's quirks and anomalies, it is never once dull, boring or pretentious.  This is all down to the protagonist, the Vinyl Detective himself - an ordinary, run of the mill, cat loving chap - who happens to have an absolute and complete obsession with finding and collecting / selling (depending on how broke he is) - you guessed it - Vinyl.  And not just any vinyl, Jazz, which as it turns out can turn into a rather sinister business.  And it is the Vinyl Detectives plain ordinariness which makes him so endearing to the reader.

Scraping by on lucky finds of unusual vinyl's and selling them on the net is a far cry from where he finds himself when beautiful, intelligent and sharp-witted Nevada enters his life with the opportunity of a lifetime - unfortunately for him, he finds that because of the opportunity it could possibly be a short lifetime because the more involved he gets in finding the elusive vinyl he is commissioned to track down, the higher the body count becomes... but he is so honest and normal about everything the title of 'hero' is not out of place.

Add to the mix a couple of geeky and typical guy friends, you have a mix perfect for a good injection of humour to punctuate what actually becomes a fairly serious storyline including murder most foul, robberies and sabotage.

Now, when I started reading 'Side One' (clever huh!) I was enjoying it most certainly, but you quickly realise there is going to be far more to this book than merely the hunt and race to find the vinyl, then you reach 'Side Two' and a whole different pace begins.  'Side Two' I read in one sitting - I could not put it down and was pleased that the humour I was enjoying so much did not dissipate.

I liked how complete this book felt, it had a clear beginning, middle and end with all questions getting answers.  I thoroughly enjoyed all the dialogue between the characters and at one point or another I questioned them all, which again demonstrated confident and tight plotting and writing.

I am already looking forward to reading more in the first person eyes of The Vinyl Detective and discovering if Nevada sticks around, if Tinkler still has an obsession for grapes and if the cats manage to survive the 'road to rehab' (see opening chapter of book!)

The Vinyl Detective - Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel gets a must read Very Pink Notebook rating of :


About the Author

Andrew Cartmel is a novelist and screenwriter.  His work for television includes Midsomer Murders and Torchwood, and a legendary stint as Script Editor on Doctor Who.  He has also written plays for the London Fringe, toured as a stand-up comedian, and is currently co-writing with Ben Aaronovitch a series of comics based on the bestselling Rivers of London books.  He lives in London.

The Vinyl Detective Books

The Vinyl Detective Written in Dead Wax is available NOW.
The Vinyl Detective The Run-Out Groove is out on 9th May 2017.
The Vinyl Detective Victory Disc is out May 2018.