Category: British Literature

Audiobook Review | “Gone to Ground” (Book Six: the Kay Hunter Detective series) by Rachel Amphlett, narrated by Alison Campbell

Posted Friday, 7 September, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Audiobook By: I started to listen to audiobooks in [2016] as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how your reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring and knitting agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I have embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions. Through hosting for the Audiobookworm I’ve expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories whilst finding podcasters who are sharing their bookish lives through pods (ie. AudioShelf and Talking Audiobooks; see my sidebar). Meanwhile, I am also curating my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive for their digital audiobook catalogue whilst making purchase requests for audio CDs. It is a wonderful new journey and one I enjoy sharing – I am hoping to expand the percentage of how many audios I listen to per year starting in 2018.

I jumped at the chance to become a part of the sixth audiobook tour featuring the #KayHunter series by Rachel Amphlett so quickly, I had overlooked a critical piece of the blog tour: the copies for review on this tour were not going to be provided through Audible! Having an extra credit I hadn’t had the chance to use I purchased my own copy of “Gone to Ground” rather than being provided with a complimentary copy of the story. Thereby, I am choosing to participate on the audiobook tour, sharing my ruminations with my readers for my own edification but also, as a continuation of a reader’s love for a dramatic crime serial. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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What held me in the throes of “Call to Arms” and why I was itching for the next novel:

One of the things I enjoy most about Ms Amphlett’s style of detective novels is how she gives you a seemingly one dimensional plot point and expounds upon it to encompass more layers of intrigue than you would originally feel could be pinned to a situation which by all fronts, appeared to be routine or having nothing more serious than the surface details of what was noted or observed. This is what I love about the series, because even as your keeping your toes at there ready to hear something which will be need to be re-pulled forward further inside the installment – you don’t always know which details are most pertinent to remember and which ones might not be as keenly important in the end.

This installment turnt back to the situational bantering between Kay and her colleagues – where we get to be observing their work hours closely – the funny bit is how they like to work off each other – they each compliment the other quite well, but due to the long hours and the winding ways in which a case can unnerve the detectives, they have to re-group themselves somehow and humour is one of the best equalisers! When they weren’t rubbing my funny-bone, I enjoyed listening to how they worked out their theories – each of them making suggestions and following where the evidence and interviews were yielding them to head next in an attempt to resolve the case at long last!

Kay Hunter follows her instincts to pursue a case she knew in her heart was important to solve – however, she never would have suspected how close it would come to affecting her relationship with Sharpe nor of how the case itself would become insidious in regards to the callus nature of someone who could only be referred to as self-conceited past the point of reason! Adam definitely understands his wife to such a degree it’s heart-warming whereas Kay sometimes struggles with the confidence of embracing her truer nature as a cop. She seems to be seeking approval at different intervals to where her internal sense of self falters against the tides of where her job takes her in a neverending battle for personal sanity.

Amphlett keeps us grounded on the personal journey of Kay Hunter – through all facets of her life, from what she’s feeling, thinking and how she sorts through every choice she makes both personally and professionally. One kind thing for her is having a husband (Adam) who not only believes in his wife but allows her the leeway she needs to make hard choices at times where an easier route might have been his preference. He also encourages her to do things she at first might feel she wants to recoil from accepting – such as her recent temporary elevation in status. Adam has a calming sense of knowing just what to say to help Kay settle her thoughts – all of this is part of the foundation of the series I have loved watching built. As Amphlett doesn’t sacrifice Kay’s personal life for the profession – it’s a healthy way of seeing how detectives must decide how to live a well-balanced life, without allowing the job to supersede their own humanity. All of which is vocalised by the impressively brilliant narrator Alison Campbell who immerses us directly into the heart of Kay!

-quoted from my review of Call to Arms

At the time I had finished listening to Call to Arms – I almost felt I needed to take a proper break from listening to the next installment. Each story in the series becomes increasingly difficult to listen to due to the increasing Suspense Ms Amphlett knits into the background of the stories. Not to mention the crimes themselves are on the upper edge of what I can handle listening to as they are rather difficult to read on that note.

I hadn’t foreseen another blog tour this year, as I was so dearly thankful to be a part of the first five novels which went on blog tours – finding out Gone to Ground was available to listen to after Summer, felt rather fitting – as this would be the story-line which was fully removed from the anguish Kay had gone through at work and the grief she had shared with Adam. I was definitely keen on seeing where the story would continue to shift forward and how Kay would handle moving forward after such a strong sea of adversity which had sought to undo her sanity.

When I first read the premise, however, I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to be able to get into the story itself as it is a rather gruesome plotting. The only thing I was holding onto is the fact that Ms Campbell’s narration in combination with Ms Amphlett’s muse – might be the best partnership to where I could handle a story-line like this one as otherwise, had it been another series altogether I simply would have bypassed it.

I also knew, having heard the five books prior to this sixth one – Amphlett spends a lot of time developing her characters, of inserting her readers & listeners into the background of her world – giving us a proper threading of what is going on in the lives of her lead and supporting characters whilst their fully committed to solving the case at hand. It is due to this structure of how she pulls us back into the Kay Hunter series, I had a strong feeling I could get through this installment, as I knew the main focus points were not on the crimes but rather on the people who solve them.

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Audiobook Review | “Gone to Ground” (Book Six: the Kay Hunter Detective series) by Rachel Amphlett, narrated by Alison CampbellGone to Ground
Subtitle: A Detective Kay Hunter novel
by Rachel Amphlett
Source: Audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions
Narrator: Alison Campbell

While attending a crime scene on the outskirts of Maidstone, DI Kay Hunter makes a shocking discovery.

The victim has been brutally cut to pieces, his identity unknown.

When more body parts start turning up in the Kentish countryside, Kay realises the disturbing truth – a serial killer is at large and must be stopped at all costs.

With no motive for the murders and a killer who has gone undetected until now, Kay and her team of detectives must work fast to calm a terrified local population and a scornful media.

When a third victim is found, her investigation grows even more complicated.

As she begins to expose a dark underbelly to the county town, Kay and her team are pulled into a web of jealousy and intrigue that, if left unchecked, will soon claim another life.

Places to find the book:

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ASIN: B07F7FHYTT

Also by this author: Scared to Death, Will to Live, One to Watch, Hell to Pay, Call to Arms, Author Inteview: Rachel Amphlett (Gone to Ground)

Also in this series: Scared to Death, Will to Live, One to Watch, Hell to Pay, Call to Arms


Genres: Crime Fiction, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Police Procedural, Thriller


Published by Saxon Publishing

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 6 hours, 36 minutes (unabridged)

Published by: Saxon Publishing

Order of the Kay Hunter Detective series:
Scared to Death | Book One (see also Review)
Will to Live | Book Two (see also Review)
One to Watch | Book Three (see also Review)
Hell to Pay | Book Four (see also Review)
Call to Arms | Book Five (see also Review)
Gone to Ground | Book Six

About Rachel Amphlett

Rachel Amphlettt

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore's TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

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Posted Friday, 7 September, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 21st Century, Audiobook, Audiobookworm Promotions, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), British Literature, Crime Fiction, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Detective Fiction, England, Good vs. Evil, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Indie Author, Lady Detective Fiction, Mental Health, Modern Day, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Psychological Suspense, Realistic Fiction, Sociological Behavior, True Crime

Audiobook Review | “Call to Arms” (Book Five: the Kay Hunter Detective series) by Rachel Amphlett, narrated by Alison Campbell

Posted Sunday, 27 May, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Audiobook By: I started to listen to audiobooks in [2016] as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how your reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring and knitting agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I have embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions. Through hosting for the Audiobookworm I’ve expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories whilst finding podcasters who are sharing their bookish lives through pods (ie. AudioShelf and Talking Audiobooks; see my sidebar). Meanwhile, I am also curating my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive for their digital audiobook catalogue whilst making purchase requests for audio CDs. It is a wonderful new journey and one I enjoy sharing – I am hoping to expand the percentage of how many audios I listen to per year starting in 2018.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Call to Arms” via Audiobookworm Promotions who is working directly with the author Rachel Amphlett in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

What held me in the throes of “Hell to Pay” and why I was itching for the next novel:

One nod of appreciation I have for Ms Amphlett is how she builds the tension and the back-story of this series – she tempts you at first with little nuggets of interest which start to paint the fuller picture behind Kay Hunter but then, she focuses on her days at work; how she interacts with her team and how they in turn perceive her whilst never giving us too many details about the purpose behind the series until you reach the fourth installment – where all the loose threads start to pool together, forming a tapestry of insight all of their own.

I was pushed so far outside my zone of comfort for a ‘hard-boiled Thriller’, I nearly did not know what to do to make my way through this installment – except, I remembered how Ms Amphlett would only take me ‘this far’ into the gritty bits before a ‘full stop’ would occur and a re-direction would happen to where I would either be blessedly back round in the team bantering out the case from all points of perspective or we’d happily enter one of the segue sequences where a lighter part of either Kay or one of the other members of her team would give us the pause we needed to reclaim the breath we’d forgotten to release!

I fell hard for this series from day one – from Scared to Death, thereby realising I would be a goner long before the series would end. In this, I knew I might hit sequences of the stories where I’d feel emotionally taxed and gutted as Kay – feeling as if I’d lived her life as dearly omnipresent as Alison Campbell and feel blessed by the pen of Ms Amphlett for taking me on this journey with Kay Hunter – as this is a series which pushes you, challenges you and gives you a reason to find a door of empathetic compassion to feel attached to the characters, the author and the narrator in one beautiful circle.

I might need to take a short break from disappearing into Call to Arms, the fifth installment and I am aware the sixth installment is already being written. The hardest part to resolve of course is how cleverly written the darker bits are constructed – of how everything pulls together in a believable execution of where you don’t feel short-changed but rather full of shock as much as Kay. Amphlett has a true gift for this kind of story-telling and I am blessed to have been introduced to her style on this blog tour.

-quoted from my review of Hell to Pay

Emotionally I was shattered, dear hearts after finishing Hell to Pay – I had this seriously emotional reaction to the end of the audiobook – being I was listening to it at a public library notwithstanding, when I finally hit the stop button and took full stock of my bearings, I was a muddled mess of emotions – finding myself surrounded by other patrons, who either were listening to audiobooks themselves, music or playing games – as everyone either had their own set of earphones plugged in, readily engaged with their own computers or the library’s and quite a number of them had a book in hand as well! To feel the kind of immersive experience I had felt in that kind of public environment is a true credit to both the author and the narrator – as I quite literally was hugged so dearly close to #KayHunter, I did not even realise the time nor hour or anything going on at the library itself!

As I pulled away my thoughts to contemplate what I had heard and the realisations of those revelations soaking in to the full measure of what they implied, I knew I had to take a brief hiatus before retreating back inside Call to Arms. Of course, mother nature would love to enthrall me with a delayed Spring (ie. a horrid burst of pollen season after a delightfully extended Winter) where rainshowers and thunderstorms alternated themselves for more than a fortnight – proving that sometimes even when your ready to soak into a beloved audiobook series, patience is a virtue you’ve mastered in order to await what is next in line for your bookish heart!

I hadn’t sorted out the timeline of my re-entrance either – which is why I was dearly surprised and happily reunited with Kay Hunter on this fifth blog tour – technically ‘second’ as the first four novels were in a combo-tour but I always felt they were four separate tours, as they were equally focusing on each of the novels in turn rather than in a mix-match of the stories out of sequence wherein happily all the bloggers taking part focused on the series in order of sequence rather than referencing them out of turn. It is quite lovely how the Audiobookworm organises her audiobook tours, in other words – especially for those of us keen on serial fiction!

With the time decided for me, I only had to set my heart and mind to re-enter into Kay Hunter’s shoes – something I almost fought at first, as so much was still hanging in the wind for our dear heroine – the one thing I did hope for her though, is a proper turning of tides – she puts her heart and soul into her job, loves her husband with a fierce protective passion and deserves a bit of goodwill coming her way to where her adversities could surely take a hiatus of their own!

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Audiobook Review | “Call to Arms” (Book Five: the Kay Hunter Detective series) by Rachel Amphlett, narrated by Alison CampbellCall to Arms
Subtitle: A Detective Kay Hunter novel
by Rachel Amphlett
Source: Audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions
Narrator: Alison Campbell

Loyalty has a price.

Kay Hunter has survived a vicious attack at the hands of one of the country’s most evil serial killers.

Returning to work after an enforced absence to recover, she discovers she wasn’t the only victim of that investigation.

DI Devon Sharp remains suspended from duties, and the team is in turmoil.

Determined to prove herself once more and clear his name, Kay undertakes to solve a cold case that links Sharp to his accuser.

But, as she gets closer to the truth, she realises her enquiries could do more harm than good.

Torn between protecting her mentor and finding out the truth, the consequences of Kay’s enquiries will reach far beyond her new role…

Call to Arms is a gripping murder mystery, and the fifth in the Detective Kay Hunter series:

1. SCARED TO DEATH
2. WILL TO LIVE
3. ONE TO WATCH
4. HELL TO PAY
5. CALL TO ARMS

A page-turning murder mystery for fans of Peter Robinson, David Baldacci and Harlen Coben.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ASIN: B07B75S6TJ

Also by this author: Scared to Death, Will to Live, One to Watch, Hell to Pay, Author Inteview: Rachel Amphlett (Gone to Ground), Gone to Ground

Also in this series: Scared to Death, Will to Live, One to Watch, Hell to Pay, Gone to Ground


Genres: Crime Fiction, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Police Procedural, Thriller


Published by Saxon Publishing

on 5th March, 2018

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 6 hours, 28 minutes (unabridged)

Published by: Saxon Publishing

Order of the Kay Hunter Detective series:
Scared to Death | Book One (see also Review)
Will to Live | Book Two (see also Review)
One to Watch | Book Three (see also Review)
Hell to Pay | Book Four (see also Review)
Call to Arms | Book Five

About Rachel Amphlett

Rachel Amphlettt

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore's TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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Posted Sunday, 27 May, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 21st Century, Audiobook, Audiobookworm Promotions, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), British Literature, Crime Fiction, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Detective Fiction, England, Good vs. Evil, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Indie Author, Lady Detective Fiction, Mental Health, Modern Day, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Psychological Suspense, Realistic Fiction, Sociological Behavior, True Crime

Blog Book Tour | ” Ecstasy” by Mary Sharratt A Biological Historical Fiction account of the life of Alma Mahler and how her intense love affair with Gustav Mahler changed her life.

Posted Friday, 18 May, 2018 by jorielov , , 1 Comment

 

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! I received a complimentary copy of “Ecstasy” direct from the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Why I wanted to read this novel about Alma Mahler:

This particular author has a special connection to Jorie Loves A Story – especially in regards to milestones and memories! Whilst I was a 1st Year Book Blogger, I had the pleasure of joy reading Illuminations: {A novel of Hildegard von Bingen} as my debut review for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in November, 2013! The novel introduced me to an enriched version of reading biographies – an introduction that would carry me forward into the wonderful world of what I refer to as ‘Biographical Historical Fiction’; a mainstay of my reading queues! As routed through this category of interest!

From that foundation, I started to seek out traditional biographies and memoirs, under the new vein of interest called ‘Creative Non-Fiction’ where the stories are threaded through an emotional contextual core of narrative. For you see, if I hadn’t first read Illuminations all the lovelies I’ve been discovering since might not have alighted in my hands to read. Mary Sharratt truly opened my mind and eyes to how a story could be told whilst peering back into the historical past through a living history of a person who once lived. Her style of the craft is quite acutely realistic for the time periods she’s exploring; she has a conviction of setting with a lifeblood of drawing characters out of the wells of history to give us a resounding portrait of ‘who once lived’ can live once again in our own imaginations.

Whilst during my 3rd Year as a Book Blogger, I had the joy of discovering her prose within The Dark Lady’s Mask (see also Review) and now, as a newly minted 5th Year Book Blogger – I am embarking into my third reading of her collective works with Ecstasy! There is something quite special about the way in which Ms Sharratt approaches her subjects and characters – as I had this to say whilst encountering my last stay inside one of her stories:

I knew I would find the narrative an eloquent historical tome of insight on behalf of what I know of Sharratt’s writings; she fuses so much in such a short expanse of the story, you fully live within their pages. Her narrative has a way of not just transporting you back into the 16th Century but allowing you a bit of grace to flex your mind around what living in the 16th Century would be like from a sensory perception of insight. She taunts what you presume to be true with what is known about the century, giving you much more of a grounded respite than a flowery historical. This felt authentic to the era but also, to how the world would have been viewed during the different stages of Aemilia’s life.

I was caught up in the current of how fluid Ms Sharratt composed this novel and how she worked the story-line through the mind of a poetess. She truly championed the will of a poet and of a creative seeking to find their own way to express their creativity whilst proving that finding one’s way in life isn’t as easily to understand. Ms Sharratt will remain a favourite of mine to read, if only to see how her own mind fashions itself around thought, theory, inspiration and the fragility of where history and time become entwined as one. I will definitely savour the time I spend within The Dark Lady’s Mask the second time I read it, as it is not one you wish to put down in haste!

Only within the chapters of Illuminations did I find myself most akin to reading a different lifestyle than one I could personally relate too. As the elements of The Dark Lady’s Mask had such wonderful overtures of recognition from my favourite Bard, I felt there were portions of the narrative I had a pre-cursory understanding of – as I stepped inside Ecstasy, it was an easier transition by half, as any creative economist who picks up this novel will self-identity with Alma’s strong desire and need to fulfill not only her creative muses but to strike out on her own to develop her creative identity.

As such, this is one text where I found myself attempting to find the right words to articulate my reactions as I found the context of the story to be illuminatingly stimulating in it’s own right to parlay a multitude of thoughts about it’s inner theme, the heart of it’s message and the purpose we all seek as self-directed artists seeking our true selves and the rightful path we must walk in order to embrace the artistry within us which has not yet been revealled. These are the kinds of ruminative thoughts I am appreciative of being challenged to convey – as the writers who write these kinds of stories are digging into something dimensionally deeper than what might first be seen on the surface of their characters’ lives.

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Blog Book Tour | ” Ecstasy” by Mary Sharratt A Biological Historical Fiction account of the life of Alma Mahler and how her intense love affair with Gustav Mahler changed her life.Esctasy
by Mary Sharratt
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

In the glittering hotbed of turn-of-the-twentieth century Vienna, one woman’s life would define and defy an era.

Gustav Klimt gave Alma her first kiss. Gustav Mahler fell in love with her at first sight and proposed only a few weeks later. Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius abandoned all reason to pursue her. Poet and novelist Franz Werfel described her as “one of the very few magical women that exist.” But who was this woman who brought these most eminent of men to their knees? In Ecstasy, Mary Sharratt finally gives one of the most controversial and complex women of her time center stage.

Coming of age in the midst of a creative and cultural whirlwind, young, beautiful Alma Schindler yearns to make her mark as a composer. A brand new era of possibility for women is dawning and she is determined to make the most of it. But Alma loses her heart to the great composer Gustav Mahler, nearly twenty years her senior. He demands that she give up her music as a condition for their marriage. Torn by her love and in awe of his genius, how will she remain true to herself and her artistic passion?

Part cautionary tale, part triumph of the feminist spirit, Ecstasy reveals the true Alma Mahler: composer, daughter, sister, mother, wife, lover, and muse.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780544800892

Also by this author: Illuminations: {A novel of Hildegard von Bingen}, The Dark Lady's Mask

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Historical Fiction


Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

on 10th April, 2018

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 387

Published ByHoughton Mifflin Harcourt (@HMHCo)

Converse via: #EcstasyBlogTour, #AlmaMahler + #HistFic
Available Formats: Hardcover & Ebook

About Mary Sharratt

Mary Sharratt

MARY SHARRATT is an American writer who has lived in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, for the past seven years. The author of the critically acclaimed novels Summit Avenue, The Real Minerva, and The Vanishing Point, Sharratt is also the co-editor of the subversive fiction anthology Bitch Lit, a celebration of female antiheroes: strong women who break all the rules.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Friday, 18 May, 2018 by jorielov in 18th Century, 19th Century, Alma Mahler, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, British Literature, Classical Music | Composers, Composer, Creative Arts, Gustav Klimt, Gustav Mahler, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Romance, Inspired by Stories, Musical Fiction | Non-Fiction

Book Review | “Follow A Star” (Book No.2 of the Little Spitmarsh series) by Christine Stovell #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 21 April, 2018 by jorielov , , , 3 Comments

ChocLitSaturdays Banner Created by Jorie in Canva.

Why I feature #ChocLitSaturdays (book reviews & guest author features)
and created #ChocLitSaturday (the chat via @ChocLitSaturday):

I wanted to create a bit of a niche on Jorie Loves A Story to showcase romance fiction steeped in relationships, courtships, and the breadth of marriage enveloped by characters written honestly whose lives not only endear you to them but they nestle into your heart as their story is being read!

I am always seeking relationship-based romance which strikes a chord within my mind’s eye as well as my heart! I’m a romantic optimist, and I love curling into a romance where I can be swept inside the past, as history becomes lit alive in the fullness of the narrative and I can wander amongst the supporting cast observing the principal characters fall in love and sort out if they are a proper match for each other!

I love how an Indie Publisher like ChocLitUK is such a positive alternative for those of us who do not identify ourselves as girls and women who read ‘chick-lit’. I appreciate the stories which alight in my hands from ChocLit as much as I appreciate the inspirational romances I gravitate towards because there is a certain level of depth to both outlets in romance which encourage my spirits and gives me a beautiful story to absorb! Whilst sorting out how promote my book reviews on behalf of ChocLit, I coined the phrase “ChocLitSaturdays”, which is a nod to the fact my ChocLit reviews & features debut on ‘a Saturday’ but further to the point that on the ‘weekend’ we want to dip into a world wholly ideal and romantic during our hours off from the work week!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular reviewer for ChocLitUK, where I hand select which books in either their backlist and/or current releases I would like to read next for my #ChocLitSaturdays blog feature. As of June 2016, I became a member of the ChocLit Stars Team in tandem with being on the Cover Reveal Team which I joined in May 2016. I reference the Stars as this is a lovely new reader contribution team of sending feedback to the publisher ahead of new book releases. As always, even if I’m involved with a publisher in this sort of fashion, each review is never influenced by that participation and will always be my honest impression as I read the story. Whether the author is one I have previously read or never had the pleasure to read until the book greets my shelf.

I received a complimentary copy of “Follow A Star” from ChocLit in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Why I am enjoying my respite in Little Spitmarsh:

Not quite a village or hamlet, but in some ways it is both – if you consider how insular resorts can become when it feels like all of life is bubbling within it’s natural boundaries. I was quite delighted by the Prologue to cast a pointed eye on what Little Spitmarsh had been once in it’s heyday of popularity with visitors from away inasmuch as the cross-comparison of what it has become now; a sad remnant of it’s past. This is quite common I think, when urban and rural areas fall into decay from an absence of care – where it takes someone with vision to re-transitionalise the place into a new kind of beauty that will lure people back to a place they once knew. Although this isn’t merely a resort or a marina, it’s a small towne whose point of focus has fallen and whose re-development could change the way in which the townespeople will live in the future.

This felt like such an honest prospect of interest – right from the start – as who doesn’t like to see how developers with an eye for progress and a nod towards preserving certain bits of the past could lend a new lease of life on a place like Little Spitmarsh? Of course, that would be far too easy, of course! There was a small hinting of what would become fireworks (nearly certain!) lateron, as just because a land deal seems cut and dry on the offset doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t hidden ‘obstacles’ that might test the patience of someone whose vision might be a bit misguided.

The scenery alone makes you hunger to visit this little niche of a small community if only for the pause of breath to drink in the natural joys you would be viewing. Stepping outside of civilisation where nature still had the larger bounty and has been allowed to thrive without too much interference are the places to cherish the most. They are kept away and hidden from the masses for a reason – to preserve what is able to be conserved. The book cover places you visually in the right kind of place that is being described inside the chapters as it truly is a place that hugs the water whilst ebbing you into a sync of natural harmony.

I liked too, how Ms Stovell has her own rhythm of threading a Contemporary with it’s own narrative pace and tone of telling a story set in such an interesting place. The setting and the vibe of the community have their own lifeblood in this Contemporary granting the reader a strong visual of not only the natural setting of how a harbour or seaside area can dictate but how a community is as quirky as it’s residents! The fuller personalities of how she rounded out her cast of characters and augmented such a normalcy out of the quirks of their everyday lives is part of what granted so much enjoyment to read the story! It’s truly a novel that paints it’s own portrait by how it’s writer chose to deliver it’s contents – loved her choices but also, the way in which she delves past the surface and digs in for the heartier story-line that is just bubbling under the drama.

-quoted from my review of Turning the Tide

I’ve taken my time to return back to Little Spitmarsh – I had aimed to continue my readings of this series closer to when I entered ‘Turning the Tide’, however, my own tides took me away from the series until now. Even over the past six weeks, where my health hasn’t been the best – I’ve had to put my ChocLit readings on hold, until I was in a better position to focus on reading again. One of the key issues was a relapse in my chronic migraines – I was able to handle listening to audiobooks here and there, but overall, reading and attempting to type on a screen was proving to be more than what I could handle.

There were a few moments where Twitter acted as a reprieve from my heath issues but even that has taken a bit of a backseat since my migraines resumed. I had planned to anchour April with a Georgette Heyer chat and a Women’s Fiction topical chat – however, just to return back into a ChocLit novel felt wonderful! I’ve also decided for the foreseeable future, the last two weekends of the month work best for me hosting @SatBookChat.

It is also coincidentally on the heels of helping to select the cover for the Little Spitmarsh novella “Moonbeams in a Jar”. Which I happily tweeted about previously as soon as I saw the release make it’s way into the twitterverse! Always a happy day celebrating a forthcoming release within a series you love reading!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Notation on Cover Art: Little Spitmarsh is unique setting where the water, the tides and the small community round out the appeal of living there. I liked how this cover focused on sunset, as there is something quite special about the setting of the sun – of how even after hard days or the uncertainties of futures, seeing the sun set and rise is a lovely moment where you can draw a breath of serenity and simply appreciate the scenery for how the colours play against the natural landscape.

 Book Review | “Follow A Star” (Book No.2 of the Little Spitmarsh series) by Christine Stovell #ChocLitSaturdaysFollow A Star
by Christine Stovell
Source: Direct from Publisher

Sometimes your heart’s the only navigator you need

May Starling’s had enough of her demanding career and even more demanding ex. Responding to a ‘crew-wanted’ ad, she follows her dreams of escape only to find herself at sea with red-haired Bill Blythe.

Bill warns May that close-quartered living can create a boiling pot of emotions, but even May is surprised by the heat building up inside the vintage wooden boat. And when May and Bill tie up at Watling’s Boatyard in Little Spitmarsh, May’s determined to test her new-found feelings on dry land.

But May’s dream of escaping her former life is in danger of being swept away when several unwelcome blasts from the past follow her ashore, all seemingly hell-bent on reminding her it’s never that easy to clear the decks.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

Book Page on ChocLitUK

ISBN: 978-1781891360

Also by this author: Turning the Tide, Only True in Fairy Tales

Also in this series: Turning the Tide


Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance Fiction


Published by ChocLitUK

on 1st July, 2014

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 336

Published by: ChocLitUK (@ChocLituk)

Available Formats: Paperback, Audiobook, Large Print & E-Book

Order of Sequence of Little Spitmarsh series:

Turning the Tide by Christine StovellFollow a Star by Christine StovellMoonbeams in a Jar by Christine Stovell

Read my review of Turning the Tide

Read the Synopsis for Moonbeams in a Jar

Converse via: #Contemporary & #Romance + #ChocLit #LittleSpitmarsh

About Christine Stovell

Christine Stovell Photo Credit: Tim Jones

Winning a tin of chocolate in a national essay competition at primary school inspired Christine Stovell to become a writer! After graduating from University of East Anglia, she took various jobs in the public sector writing research papers and policy notes by day and filling up her spare drawers with embryonic novels by night.

Losing her dad to cancer made her realise that if she was ever going to get a novel published she had to put her writing first. Setting off, with her husband, from a sleepy seaside resort on the east coast in a vintage wooden boat to sail halfway round Britain provided the inspiration for her debut novel Turning the Tide and Follow a Star. Turning The Tide was a top 100 Bestseller with Amazon Kindle and spent months in the Top 10 Chart for Adult Contemporary Romance. Christine has also published numerous short stories and articles. Christine lives in Wales. Christine novels include: Turning The Tide, Move Over Darling and Follow a Star (July 2014).

Photo Credit: Tim Jones

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo. Read More

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Posted Saturday, 21 April, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Britian, British Literature, ChocLitSaturdays, ChocLitUK, Debut Author, Debut Novel, England, Equality In Literature, Green-Minded Publishers, Indie Author, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Modern British Author, Romance Fiction, Vulgarity in Literature

Audiobook Review | “Hell to Pay” (Book Four: the Kay Hunter Detective series) by Rachel Amphlett, narrated by Alison Campbell As this is the fourth and final Kay Hunter audio I have, there is an ache in my heart for having to leave on such a wrenching note as this but have a resolve of hope for what shall meet me in ‘Call to Arms’,…

Posted Thursday, 19 April, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Audiobook By: I started to listen to audiobooks in [2016] as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how your reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring and knitting agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I have embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions. Through hosting for the Audiobookworm I’ve expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories whilst finding podcasters who are sharing their bookish lives through pods (ie. AudioShelf and Talking Audiobooks; see my sidebar). Meanwhile, I am also curating my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive for their digital audiobook catalogue whilst making purchase requests for audio CDs. It is a wonderful new journey and one I enjoy sharing – I am hoping to expand the percentage of how many audios I listen to per year starting in 2018.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Hell to Pay” via Audiobookworm Promotions who is working directly with the author Rachel Amphlett in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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What held me in the throes of “One to Watch” and why I was itching for the next novel:

I enjoyed watching Barnes and Kay sleuth together – they have a working partnership which aides them well on the job. Their bantering keeps the grim bits of their jobs at bay but it’s quite telling how comfortable they are with each other by how they work together to not just interview people interlinked to their investigations but how they brainstorm what they learn could lead their team towards understanding what went wrong in regards to the person who died. They each yield to each others’ strengths and make their hours go by easier for the understanding they share together. Their scenes have become some of my favourites, which worries me in some regards – as true to the nature of these kinds of stories, once you start to favour certain characters – their either the ones who are placed in danger or the ones who can become the ones you never should have trusted to begin with – ergo, I cautioned myself not to let anyone go overlooked as Kay continues to sort out who is conspiring against her; even Barnes!

There is so much anger percolating round the edges of One to Watch – where the parents are voicing their concerns with the kind of angered responses you’d expect them to have due to the circumstances but what was a bit muddling for Kay and her team to sort out who was involved and why this particular party was clouded over by a darkness of murder.

Larch isn’t my favourite character by half – not just because of his insistence of making Kay’s life harder through her continued persecution but because of his mannerisms and personality. He isn’t a team player, he likes to micromanage his team and you never feel he has trust in anyone under him. It leads to an uneasy tension between the detectives but also, for Kay to find her way forward when she’s constantly feeling she’s under the knife of his suspicious mind.

We gain more leverage into understanding Kay and Adam’s close relationship in their marriage by seeing his kindness for fixing the grave of their child. As this is a death they hadn’t prepared for happening and it was one which was somberly difficult to transition past, especially with the hangover effect of what Kay is facing at the precinct. Even after they decide to donate the clothes, you can feel the weight of their loss still being present in everything they do. They are allowing themselves the time to negotiate their grief, but as life rarely allows us to ‘take time off’ from everything else – it is in the background and foreground of all their hours.

The interesting bit for me was watching how this story developed mostly out of the investigation bits – of having to follow alongside the detectives as they did the grunt work, tried out leads which might have made sense in the moment of discovery but perhaps did not quite align in the end with the narrative of the crime. It is here, we start to see how Amphlett is building her world around Kay Hunter but also, of how due to her personal research, how she is opening up the components of being a detective like Kay Hunter is regulated through the proper order of how to investigate and what goes into following through with an investigation hinged to trace and forensic evidence.

She also only reveals ‘so much’ in regards to the furthering compounding conspiracy behind who is trying to destroy Kay Hunter – you aren’t sure what their motives are except that nothing is off the table for what they are willing to do in order to seek out new ways in which to give her a headache of adversity.

As you pull into this part of the series, you have to remain patient as it’s an overlay of the whole series – meaning, each installment draws both Kay Hunter and the reader one step closer to understanding the back-story of what is happening, but it’s the who, why and how which is being left open until what I presume is the conclusion of the series. I was slightly hoping it wouldn’t conclude the series – but perhaps offer a new arc of suspense to follow in it’s wake, or a redirection of purpose for all the characters involved. Similar to what they did after Rizzoli and Isles resolved their individual narrative arcs within Rizzoli & Isles.

Either way – these audiobooks narrated by Alison Campbell, truly are a reflection of the author’s agility in creating a believable world in which Kay Hunter is walking a tightrope between her civic duty as a detective and the vows she is committed to upholding to Adam. Somehow, I have a feeling she is going to have to make a choice between the two – the job or her husband, before someone else makes a choice she isn’t willing to make on her own. In this, Amphlett holds your attention to see how everything will come back round to centre, including how the supporting cast will either shock us or keep the traction we’re all presuming to be the course they are set to walk.

-quoted from my review of One to Watch

By the end of ‘One to Watch’, I was quite certain I was going to be moving into the harder bits of the character arc surrounding Kay Hunter. Everything was leading into this sequence of pulling back the layers of the conspiracy against her – whilst anchouring us directly into her working relationships with her team. It was there, I realised – depending upon how ‘Hell to Pay’ played out – I was either going to find myself treading water or finding myself able to swim.

There are portions of this series which are dearly beloved – especially in regards to adaptation on behalf of the work by Alison Campbell. Combined with the taut and authentic writing styling by Ms Amphlett – this series hugs close to it’s roots in a police procedural drama where an investigative team becomes an endearing part of your life during the hours in which you are following alongside their investigations. Yet, there are moments where you feel if you are quite prepared to go through all of their cases – as the darker shades of humanity are aptly explored, revealled and tackled from multiple points of view.

The key difference from the first novels in the series and the latter two I’ve been listening to is the absence of switching perspectives in tandem between Kay and her current ‘unknown’ villain. The focus is honed more into her team and the ways in which the team finds their rhythm with working with each other on the cases which make them feel restless in their off hours. These are the kinds of cases that are hard to shift out of one’s conscience and the hardest to resolve, even if you’re able to close the case.

I was hoping the bits of what I loved about the series would swing back into the central thread of the upcoming stories – where though terrifying gutting her job is there is a hopefulness about it as well – of how she is choosing to serve the dead and honour the lives lost. I was hopeful on the back half of the series – perhaps, even after the main obstacle is overturned (in regards to who is forcing Kay to remain on high alert) Kay can either make peace with the job itself or find a new path to pursue adjacent to being a detective. Perhaps a new beginning for her and Adam but still able to give her life in dedication in helping others overcome the worst bits of their lives?

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Audiobook Review | “Hell to Pay” (Book Four: the Kay Hunter Detective series) by Rachel Amphlett, narrated by Alison Campbell As this is the fourth and final Kay Hunter audio I have, there is an ache in my heart for having to leave on such a wrenching note as this but have a resolve of hope for what shall meet me in ‘Call to Arms’,…Hell to Pay
by Rachel Amphlett
Source: Audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions
Narrator: Alison Campbell

When a road traffic accident on a dark autumn night uncovers a disturbing conspiracy, Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter's investigation exposes a ruthless serial killer exploiting vulnerable young women.

With her enemies unmasked and her career spiraling out of control, Kay's determination to seek vengeance for the victims brings her dangerously close to those who want to silence her.

Undeterred, she uncovers the real reason behind a plot to destroy her career and sets in motion a terrifying chain of events.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ASIN: B079HQNK1Y

Also by this author: Scared to Death, Will to Live, One to Watch, Call to Arms, Author Inteview: Rachel Amphlett (Gone to Ground), Gone to Ground

Also in this series: Scared to Death, Will to Live, One to Watch, Call to Arms, Gone to Ground


Genres: Crime Fiction, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Police Procedural, Thriller


Published by Saxon Publishing

on 1st January, 2018

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 7 hours, 14 minutes (unabridged)

Published by: Saxon Publishing

Order of the Kay Hunter Detective series:
Scared to Death | Book One (see also Review)
Will to Live | Book Two (see also Review)
One to Watch | Book Three (see also Review)
Hell to Pay | Book Four
Call to Arms | Book Five | Synopsis

About Rachel Amphlett

Rachel Amphlettt

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore's TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

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Posted Thursday, 19 April, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 21st Century, Audiobook, Audiobookworm Promotions, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), British Literature, Crime Fiction, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Detective Fiction, England, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Good vs. Evil, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Indie Author, Lady Detective Fiction, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Modern Day, Mother-Son Relationships, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Psychological Suspense, PTSD, Realistic Fiction, Sociological Behavior, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, True Crime