Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new series of adventure mystery stories that are one part travel, one part history and five parts adventure. This first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations.

After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty’s adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada and as the plot continues to unfold this spirited story will have armchair explorers and amateur detectives alike anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climactic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada’s Yukon, the harsh land made famous in the stories and poems of such writers as Jack London, Robert Service and Pierre Berton. It is a riveting tale that brings to glorious life the landscape and history of Alaska’s inside passage and Canada’s Yukon, as Kitty is caught up in an epic mystery set against the backdrop of the scenery of the Klondike Gold Rush.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves as Kitty prepares for her next adventure – flying around the world!

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the first part in a globe-trotting action and adventure series from author Iain Reading. The story follows teenage seaplane pilot Kitty Hawk on her summer adventure to document the humpback whales in the waters of Alaska. The intrepid young pilot takes her de Haviland Beaver from a small Canadian town and heads north where she spends her summer days flying over the coastal waters filming and photographing the movements of the sea mammals, and working with local fishing and sightseeing boats to mutual benefit. She learns a lot about the area through her time here, especially about the Klondike gold rush of the late 1800s.
KittyHawkNewCoverDuring the summer Kitty spots the whales on a number of flights, but also spots something amiss. A small boat puttering in and out of the area sitting far lower in the water than any other boat of its size should or would. This coupled with stories of a gold heist from a local resident fuel Kitty’s imagination and curiosity leading to her tracking down the boat.

What ensues is a failed recon attempt on the occupants of the boat in their makeshift campsite, clearly in possession of the gold, and her ultimate kidnap. This leads to a trek into the Alaskan wilderness through forests, up slopes and through the mountains to the border with Canada. The story runs the full range of emotions; fear, anger, hatred, frustration all feature in the young pilot, until she slowly begins to get to know her captors. Are they truly evil, or merely misunderstood?

Over the remainder of the book, Iain Reading takes us on the real adventure. A tale of deception, double crossing and family lies and histories entwining to up the ante and ratchet the excitement to a new level. In the early stages of the book I found myself mildly irritated by the character of Kitty thanks to her teenage exuberance that felt a little to sickly-sweet, but as the story progressed I found her sense of adventure infectious and found myself rooting for her throughout. Wider characters, including the kidnappers are well developed and believable. The other element that worked so well is the sense of adventure Reading creates, and the well-described locales make for fun reading. As book one in a series, this really sets up what is to come very well, if this is anything to go by, the rest of the series looks set to be brilliant!

My rating
goodread

Walking Wounded by Anna Franklin Osborne

Walking Wounded by Anna Franklin Osborne

Born at the end of the First World War, a young girl struggles to find her own identity in her big family and is pushed into a stormy marriage through a terrible misunderstanding from which her pride refuses to let her back down. As her own personal world begins to crumble, the foundation of the world around her is shaken as Germany once again declares war and her brothers and young husband sign up with the first wave of volunteers.

Walking Wounded tells the story of those left behind in a Blitz-ravaged London, and of the web of loyalty, guilt and duty that shapes the decisions of the women awaiting the return of their men-folk as the war draws to a close.

Spanning the period from the Armistice of the First World War to the exodus of the Ten Pound Poms to Australia in the 1950s, Walking Wounded is a family saga whose internal violence is mirrored by the world stage upon which it is set.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

Walking Wounded by Anna Franklin Osborne tells a story from the end of the First World War, through to and beyond the end of the Second World War. It is a tale of violence, grief, strife and struggle. But uncommonly, it is not a story of the men and boys who went overseas to fight. This is a story of those who are left behind at home. Those who are struggling to come to terms with the aftermath of the war, the outbreak of the second world war and the trauma it leaves behind.
32337397Walking Wounded does not just refer to the soldiers returning from war, but everyone touched, scarred by the war that almost brought the world to its knees. Tragedy strikes early in the book with the death of the elder sister and daughter in a family ahead of marrying her soldier groom. The youngest daughter suffers a turbulent life, coming into this world on the back of war. Trying to fit in with so many siblings around her, she falls into a hasty, dangerous marriage.

Dealing with the loss of her father, who never truly came back from the First World War, her mother to illness, she finds herself being brought up by her eldest sister. Finding herself in a relationship with a fiery, tempestuous young man, she enjoys the rush she feels being with him, until the fateful moment he turns on her, beats her. He manages to convince her she hurts herself in an accident and that he was trying to help, but this just seals her fate at his hands.

Her life goes through ups and downs, thanks to her abusive husband, the outbreak of World War 2 and a wartime pregnancy. She has to deal with evacuation to the market town of Hitchin, in Hertfordshire (my home town) to have her baby in relative safety. I had hoped for a bit more detail making the albeit short scene set in Hitchin to describe things in such a way it was beyond any doubt where the location was. That said, it was a minor scene, and that is my opinion as a born and bred Hitchin resident.

The story moves on to pick up the strife the family suffers through following the aftermath of the war, and significant upheaval. Our downtrodden young mother has to make some difficult decisions ultimately for her and her daughter’s benefit.
Walking Wounded is a novel approach to the strife and horrors of war. Not, as is so often the case, told from the side of the soldiers out in the theatre of war, but from the angle of those left at home wondering, worrying, uncertain. All in all, a wonderful read dealing with some dark and difficult subject matter.

My rating
goodread

To Retribution by F J Curlew

To Retribution by F J Curlew

There has been a surge to the far right across Europe, followed by political instability and financial insecurity. In Britain this has led to riots, racial tension, repatriations and clamp downs, culminating in a take over by the military and a coup.

The military is in control. Tight control. Media is censored, movement restricted. There are re-education camps for trouble makers, repatriation camps for non-nationals. Jake, Brian and Suze, three idealistic young journalists, are used to hiding as they try to keep their online news channel open. They publish the truth about the repatriations, the corruption and the deceit.

New Dawn, the feared security force, is closing in yet again. The trio run, yet again. This time, however, they are pursued with a relentlessness, a brutality which seems far too extreme for their ‘crimes.’

A trail of death is left in their wake as they try to escape New Dawn and find out what is really behind this hunt. They are drawn into a web of human trafficking, child abuse and murder. Only it’s closer than they think. Much closer.

Who would you trust?

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

To Retribution is a dark tale set in a dystopian version of the United Kingdom. With a sudden anti-immigration surge sweeping the country, foreigners are being rounded up, placed in internment camps or extradited back to their home nations. The government is plagued by corruption, and it uses its own special forces, New Dawn, to run roughshod over scared, nervous people, herding them to hate those who are different to themselves.
To-RetributionWith current events around the world at the moment, To Retribution struck me as a very relevant, timely novel while also being a dark, terrifying portent of things that may yet be to come. Throughout the story, we follow Jake and Suze as they try to expose corrupt politicians and celebrities and the awful acts they commit through a secretive website.

Constantly on the move, New Dawn seem to be getting closer to them, leading to them fleeing their latest bolt hole, and ultimately leaving London. Their situation becomes dire when someone in a position of power sets out to defame the young pair, and ultimately remove them from the situation, thus ridding themselves of a significant nuisance.

Attempts to silence the pair by killing those closest to them, and forcing their hand fail until a chance accident leads to Suze being captured and interred in a reeducation camp. But before long, she finds herself free, and working to uncover the shady dealings going on. To Retribution brings happiness and heartbreak in equal measure with a pacey, well developed narrative and plenty of twists and turns. Dark revelations, and vengeful acts lead to a fantastic ending that doesn’t fully answer all questions, but at the same time finishes the story nicely.

My score:
4

Bangkok Belle by Ron McMillan

Bangkok Belle by Ron McMillan

Bangkok private eye duo Mason & Dixie are hired to provide protection to Australian soap opera star Belle Cooper, who came under vicious attack from the moment she announced her participation in a Bangkok pageant.

British Army veteran Mason and his transgender business partner Dixie already have their hands full with the disappearance of their colleague. Aom went missing while keeping watch on a night club owner called Chocolate, who is suspected of murdering her British husband, Robert Collingwood.

Mason & Dixie have to keep Belle safe while juggling threats posed by the corrupt police colonel who swept the Collingwood investigation under the carpet, the ex-IRA hit man who is Chocolate’s new boyfriend, and an ageing New Jersey mobster working for the Macau mafia.

Showdowns at an exclusive inner city resort and an abandoned fruit farm on the outskirts of the Thai capital take this fast-moving thriller to an explosive conclusion.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

Bangkok Belle was something a little different for me. It ticked all of the boxes for a crime thriller; mystery, murder, suspense – all were found in good measure. An intriguing mystery wove itself throughout the story. But thanks to clever writing, it also brings transgender issues to the fore, without overplaying them.
bangkokbelleIn the early phases of the book there are two mysteries running simultaneously – the first, a ploy to terrorise Australian soap star Belle Cooper to keep her from joining the pageant in Thailand. The second mystery sees Dixie and Mason trying to workout what happened to Aom, a budding investigator looking into the disappearance of a British man who seems to have gone missing.

This pair of mysteries are fast paced and free flowing, but at times become a little complicated with the country-hopping. The book jumps to and fro, which seems necessary to allow for real time action, but with two involved mysteries with their own fast paced action does become a little difficult.

As Bangkok Belle progresses the two stories converge, their mysteries beginning to entwine and the bigger picture becoming slowly clearer. The action is intense, and sustained without becoming too exhausting, and the conclusion is interesting in the way it ties threads together. All in all, Bangkok Belle is a fun, action-packed story with interesting characters.

My score
3.5

It’s Killing Jerry by Sharn Hutton

It’s Killing Jerry by Sharn Hutton

Fantasist, push-over and all-round crap father: Jeremy Adler’s an inspiration. For scandal, treachery and blackmail.

Fleeced by his ex-wife, oppressed by a narcissist boss and ridden over rough-shod by a two month old infant, Jerry might have thought he’d been keeping the peace but, the tide of resentment is turning against him.

Fighting for his job, control of the bank statement and, ultimately, his life, Jerry’s got problems and they’re about to get a whole lot worse.

Breakdowns and break-ups, manipulation and thievery, green-eyed phoneys and unscrupulous deals. Pretending to be someone else just won’t cut it this time and featuring on the late evening news as: missing, presumed murdered, is only the beginning.

With adult themes, ‘It’s Killing Jerry’ is the head-hopping tale of Jerry’s desperately funny demise.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

Don’t forget to read to the end of my review for the winner of my It’s Killing Jerry giveaway! I came across Sharn Hutton when she was seeking bloggers to work with on a giveaway to promote her debut book, It’s Killing Jerry. Billed as a comedy-thriller I was intrigued to see how a fusion of these two very different genres would work out.
a1In It’s Killing Jerry, hapless, clueless fantasist Jerry Adler just does not get how lucky he truly is. Rather, he feels downtrodden by a needy 2-month old daughter, a manipulative ex-wife and a pushy, bullying boss. Useless at all things homely, his house is falling apart while his sleep-deprived wife is left to care for their still-unnamed baby while Jerry goes to the work, gym, pub or escapes in his fantasies.

When life becomes too much for him, he disappears into his own mind, assuming the persona of Remi, a jet setting MI5 agent with a life of fast cars, close calls, gambling and luxury, thinking this is what his life should be. What he cannot see growing around him is resentment.

A wife who feels neglected and left on her own. A best friend who develops an unhealthy obsession with said wife. A lonely ex-wife hell-bent on dominating as much of Jerry’s time while spending his money. A boss who he now must compete with for one job at work.

It seems like everyone is against Jerry, even if he cannot see it. So with so many people against him, when a news report declares him missing, presumed dead, it’s anybody’s guess who wielded the smoking gun. It’s not as if the motives and suspects are lacking in number.

Sharn Hutton hops from the story of Jerry and his hapless life, to that of other key players in the story including his best friend, wife, boss and even his alter-ego Remi. Twists and turns abound in a complex story of deception and treachery that is suitably slapstick enough to bring a light comedic element to proceedings.

No matter his failings, I find myself feeling sorry for Jerry, while also oddly understanding of the twisted tales of all the people around him as well. Hutton, in her debut novel, has crafted a well-paced book with twists, turns, treachery and comedy in good measure making for a hugely entertaining read. If this is her debut, I cannot wait to see what future books hold for us.

My score
4

It’s Killing Jerry giveaway

Thanks to everyone who took part in my It’s Killing Jerry giveaway! But, there can only be one winner. As I mentioned, the draw has been conducted entirely at random using the Rafflecopter platform. And I am pleased to announce that the winner is…CLAIRE KNIGHT! Congratulations!

In Plain Sight by M.A. Comley

In Plain Sight by M.A. Comley

No one is safe… not even the police.

DI Hero Nelson is used to violent crime but this one is personal. When he’s called to a crime scene he discovers the victims are two police officers one of whom is a good friend.

Determined to track down the killer, he’s dealt another blow as the body count continues to rise. To catch the killer before he strikes again, Hero calls upon the public for help. But when the criminal ups the ante by taking hostages, he soon regrets his actions.

Can Hero and the police catch the murderer before more innocent victims are hurt?

Hero must apprehend a killer who is hiding in plain sight before the time runs out.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

Today I have the pleasure of taking part in the blog tour for M.A. Comley’s fantastic thriller, In Plain Sight. This is the latest book in a bit of a run of thrillers for me at the moment. Not that this is a bad thing, but it does mean I am going to compare one book to the others the more of them from this genre I read. So how does this book stack up in the grand scheme?
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The answer is pretty well. Set in Greater Manchester, In Plain Sight portrays a dark, almost mysterious villain and the aptly-named good guy – DI Hero Nelson. M.A. Comley builds an entertaining battle between good versus evil; pitting the significant resources of a major police force against a seemingly unpredictable criminal willing to rob, torture and murder civilians and police officers alike.

With each new robbery-murder any notion of pinning down a motive becomes more difficult. The crimes become more brutal, more sinister and less logical. The killer evolves, from simple robbery-murder, to a robbery-murder with a kidnapping, then on to a full blown kidnapping. The erratic nature of the crimes causes concern for the police, who become increasingly concerned by the lack of evidence leading to a suspect.

I enjoyed the way the story is told from both sides. A run of chapters follows DI Nelson and the Greater Manchester police as they chase shadows, while the story of the killer is told in so far as his reactions to the police, his planning and actions during the crimes he commits.

The sense of frustration felt by the police is well-developed, as is the sense of excitement experienced by the killer. In Plain Sight moves with good pace from incident to incident, crime scene to crime scene right the way through to the climax of the story. My only slight complaint is a lack of backstory for the killer: though his motive is defined by the end, not enough was made of it in my opinion. Knowing this is one part of a series of books featuring DI Hero Nelson, I cannot wait to try the other books!

My score
4

Eye of the Storm by Frank Cavallo

Eye of the Storm by Frank Cavallo

On a research mission in one of the most remote regions of the world, former Navy SEAL Eric Slade and Dr. Anna Fayne are caught in a mysterious storm. Catapulted through a rift in space-time, they are marooned on a lost world.

Struggling to survive and desperate to find a way home, they must confront the dangers of this savage land—a dark wizard and his army of undead—a warrior queen and her horde of fierce Neanderthals that stands against him—and a legendary treasure with the power to open the gateway between worlds, or to destroy them all: the Eye of the Storm.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Eye of the Storm is a sci-fi fantasy novel that spans times and alternate universes. A scientific research team lead by an ex-Navy SEAL and current TV personality. As their expedition heads out, they encounter what appear to be pterosaurs – long extinct flying dinosaurs. In their helicopters the team gives chase, flying head on into a storm. This storm acts as a portal transporting them into an alternate time and universe, populated by neanderthal tribes.
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When I was first contacted about Eye of the Storm, I was really attracted to it, a book billed as a mix of science fiction and fantasy. These are two of my favourite genre of books so I went in with high hopes. And things looked really good for this book. The sudden arrival in a prehistoric version of the world set things off in the right direction. Factions of neanderthal people roam the plains, alongside ancient winged beasts and mammoths. As with all fantastic fantasy tales, there is a counterbalancing force of evil, too.

A dark wizard, laying in wait, seemingly hell-bent on taking power for himself makes for a pretty good nemesis. Cue some double crossing during times of upheaval such as the death of the king and the ascension of the new queen, and the story looks set. When a seemingly-dead member of the scientific research party turns up at the side of wizard during battle, the line between good and evil becomes blurred. Ultimately both sides need to come together in a common aim against a new evil.

But it also has its issues. The new evil didn’t seem to carry much weight for me. The dark wizard Tarquin had been developed and built throughout the course of the story, giving a mystical and almost fanatical aura to him. A further revelation about Tarquin, which I won’t reveal in its entirety, leads to the author referring to him as a techno-wizard. This dampened my view Tarquin somewhat, made all the more aggravating with the insistence of the author to refer to Tarquin in the same way constantly from the point of revelation onwards. It almost sought to diminish the power and menace this key character held, making it hard for me to stay fully engaged and invested in the story.

These draw backs don’t fully undo the story here, but they do leave a slight bad taste for me. Overall the concept is fantastic, and a setting in the time of the neanderthals is really interesting making for an entertaining read.

My score
3