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28 May 2018

Guestpost: Growing Up in the Lake District

Deep Fear by Rachel Lynch is the second DI Kelly Porter book set in the breathtaking Lake District. The setting is just as atmospheric as the story itself, and lends itself to a thrilling read, so I am pleased to have the author posting a bit about growing up in the Lake District.

Deep Fear by Rachel LynchAdd to Goodreads
DI Kelly Porter is back. 

But will this new case push her beyond her limits?

On a peaceful summer's morning in the Lake District, a woman's body is discovered outside a church. She's been murdered and a brutal, symbolic act performed on her corpse. 

DI Kelly Porter is in charge of the team investigating the crime, and is determined to bring the killer to justice. But as more deaths occur it is clear this is the work of a disturbed, dangerous and determined individual. Can Kelly put the puzzle pieces together before the danger comes closer to home? 

Growing Up in the Lake District

By Rachel Lynch

Fans of the Kelly Porter series know how important the setting is to these books. The Lake District is one of Britain’s last wildernesses and its dramatic scenery draws in close to sixteen million visitors every year. Having won UNESCO World Heritage status last summer, the Lake District now takes its place with Macchu Picchu and Iguazu Falls, and for good reason. Modelled by the last ice age and sculpted by grazing sheep, the fells and dales, dotted with deep lakes, create a landscape perfect for a thriller.

At first glance, the sleepy villages and welcoming tea shops give the impression of cosy, wholesome charm, but, lurking beneath the calm exterior lies the unexpected opportunity of hiding places fit for the most sinister dark deeds. The single lane roads, untouched corners, mysterious forests and cold watery depths lend themselves to a parallel world, where criminals can exist in relative peace and literally get away with murder. For Kelly and her team, it’s a backdrop waiting to be exploited and only local knowledge can unpick the threads that lead to the core of underworld activity.

I didn’t think any of these things when I was a child, being dragged up Great Gable, in my 1970s orange waterproofs. Eating soggy sandwiches and sipping cold tea on top of Scafell Pike, wondering what my friends were up to, seemed a word away from the cases Kelly Porter would one day face. But the lure of the fells kept me going back, season after season, even when I moved to London. Despite the whinging and whining to my poor parents; my not wanting to take another step, see another Tarn, climb another summit, browse another pretty gift shop, swim another sub-zero lake or pose for another photograph; now, I thank them.

As the now yearly trip north approaches, I show my children the routes we might take on Wainwright maps, full of wonder and enthusiasm, trying to muster up excitement and divert them from the fact that we’re not going to Mykanos or Ibiza like their friends. But once we get there, pack our hiking kit, pack the sandwiches and head off for our chosen summit, they can’t help but become carried away with the magic of a day’s hike, and what we might find. No screens, no phones, no choking traffic or angry, or busy twenty first century automatons clog our route, and they become real children again.

Without realising, or missing their electronics, for one or two weeks, they simply immerse themselves in the peace and tranquillity of the mountains and lakes, and now I’ve got them hooked. The paths, tarns and summits are just the same as they were thirty years ago, and we do exactly what we did then: buy ice cream, drink water from a fast flowing stream, map read, skim stones and tick off Wainwrights.

A few things have changed: there are new National Trust carparks to cope with the volume of tourists, there are more road signs indicating waterfalls and pools, and there are more hotels and tea shops where there were none. But if you know where to look, you can walk for hours without any of these things. That’s why Kelly had to be a local girl. She went off to London for a spell, to the bright lights of the Met, and made her name rising to the top of vast murder squads in the capital, but her heart is back at home in Cumbria, and that’s where she returns to in Dark Game. Deep Fear sees her face new cases, and it’s her local knowledge that makes all the difference.

The mountains and lakes are part of who Kelly Porter is: they shaped her, and it’s how she relaxes, it’s how she thinks, and it’s how she gets time to clear her head of the sheer horror of her job. We

often find Kelly going for a fell run to unwind, or a hike to chew over a case; as she falls back in love with where she grew up. She also remembers the time she spent with her father, out on the fells, listening and learning, and she questions why she left in the first place. She knows the terrain instinctively, and in Deep Fear, that no-nonsense intuition is what guides her through the investigation to the grisly conclusion.

Of course, the stories are just fiction, but the canvas of the Lake District affords a reality that has enabled me to create an odious underbelly, almost, but not quite, safe from detection. Without my parents press-ganging me into walking for miles on end, in my 1970s orange waterproofs, Kelly Porter would never have been given such loathsome cases to delve into, nor such a staggering countryside in which to investigate them.

26 May 2018

Cold Bath Street by AJ Hartley

Creepy and twisty, Cold Bath Street by AJ Hartley made my heart race while I read it. And I couldn't put it down. The atmosphere just builds and builds, and the masterful illustrations take it to the next level. It's a little bit exhilarating and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to any fan of horror.

Below I get to share AJ Hartley's own list of scariest places to read Cold Bath Street. And I know I wouldn't want to risk it!

Cold Bath Street by AJ HartleyAdd to Goodreads
Preston Oldcorn is in a desolate void between life and death. In order to save his soul he must brave his greatest fear - Cold Bath Street. A gothic thriller - think Hunger Games crossed with Artemis Fowl - that will keep you gripped to the end. Stunning black and white illustrations throughout.

5 Scariest Places to Read Cold Bath Street

These are all best after dark, always assuming you get in safely and legally, of course.

  1. The Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston, or - for that matter - any art gallery, preferably deserted and hung with dark oil paintings of people half lost in shadow. Do they stay in the same place when you look down to read? Are you sure?
  2. Clitheroe Castle. This was the closest medieval fortification that we used to go to as kids from Preston, and it always had that haunted feel of places where people lived and died long ago but has long since been abandoned. Any castle or ruined abbey will do as well so long as its dim and quiet.
  3. Pendle Hill, Lancashire, the haunt of England’s most famous witches, and whether you find their story mysterious or merely tragic, the place retains a wild and blasted power. It broods over the surrounding countryside like storm cloud.
  4. Part of Cold Bath Street hinges on the local cemetery, but all graveyards are inherently atmospheric, particularly if they have been there a long time. I like mine old and rugged, preferably with a gloomy church close by.
  5. The Miley Tunnel, Preston, or any other abandoned railway lines, especially where the trains passed under ground, and the dank air is now loaded with the memories of those who used to ride there.
Where is the scariest place you've ever read a scary book?

25 May 2018

Book Beginnings #62

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading Exile by SM Wilson.
The Extinction Trials: Exile by SM Wilson

Everything was white. And he hated that more than anything.
I have just finished a reread of the first book, The Extinction Trials, and I couldn't wait to get back to Earthasia and Piloria so I'm jumping straight in with book two.

I love the writing style, how it differs between the characters narrating. My first thoughts of this line were along the lines of "Is Lincoln in some sort of prison?".
She couldn't think of a suitable reply. And the look on his face was strange. As if he was remembering something from long ago.
Honestly, the revelations just keep on coming. I'm not gonna lie, Stormchaser is still my favourite character, I just love the way she works, and how much of a Hufflepuff she is with her loyalty and her love and her determination.

What are you reading this week?

22 May 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #124

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

Top Ten Tuesday
This week is Top Ten 
Best Character Names 
Best Characters This Year (so far)
I couldn't think of a single best character name. I have no idea how I'd even go about that. So I've decided instead to list the ten best characters I've read this year - so far.
  1. Lexi from Clean by Juno Dawson
  2. Stormchaser from The Extinction Trials by SM Wilson
  3. Leora from Ink by Alice Broadway
  4. Eelyn from Sky In the Deep by Adrienne Young
  5. Nona from Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
  6. Amari from Children of Blood and Bone by Tomy Adeyemi
  7. Mira from When the Beat Drops by Anna Hecker
  8. Sorrow from State of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury
  9. Camellia from The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
  10. Jay from The Girl In the Broken Mirror by Savita Kalhan

    Who is your favourite character this year?

    19 May 2018

    Royals by Rachel Hawkins

    I won a copy from Scholastic UK over on Twitter and I squealed when it arrived.

    This is a book that you have to give yourself over to. Let yourself sink into the story, suspend belief, and have a laugh.

    Royals is set in an alternate universe which addresses the question - what if the Stuart's still ruled Scotland and the prince married the American daughter of an aging rock star? And it hits so many cliches on the way too. Absolutely perfect for sunny days and rainy nights.

    Meet Daisy Winters. She’s an offbeat sixteen-year-old Floridian with mermaid-red hair; a part time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who’s nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond. 

    While the dashing young Miles has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal, the prince’s roguish younger brother kicks up scandal wherever he goes, and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride. The crown–and the intriguing Miles–might be trying to make Daisy into a lady... But Daisy may just rewrite the royal rulebook to suit herself. 

    Source: Giveaway

    5 Words: Family, responsibility, secrets, love, royalty.

    This book was just SO SWEET. I had a huge, ridiculous grin on my face the whole time I was reading it.

    Whenever I think back I just smile and giggle so I'm doing something a little different today.

    Five Reasons to Read Royals by Rachel Hawkins

    1. Sisters
      Oh, the love and resentment between sisters. I loved how their relationship was portrayed, and how they resented each other just as much as they love each other, because that's what sisters are like.
    2. Train-Wreck Prince
      And his royal wreckers. They were a hot mess and got up to some eye-brow raising and hilarious antics. Much as he is a bit of a dick at times, I loved him by the end.
    3. Loyal Friends
      I loved the friendship dynamics, and not just between the main characters. They're pretty much all loyal in their own ways, but I loved how they all had their own unique relationships.
    4. Queerness
      Without dropping a spoiler, this book has a surprisingly not-straight character, and one I loved getting glimpses of.
    5. Sheer Joy
      Honestly, this book is just an absolute joy to read, with pithy quotes and pop references and sass.
    He just showed up like a posh vampire I accidentally invited in, then couldn't make leave.

    17 May 2018

    When the Beat Drops by Anna Hecker

    I requested this on impulse on NetGalley based on the cover, because music is like catnip in books for me. If I'd read the synopsis I'd probably have hesitated. Which is such a shame as I raced through this book and I absolutely loved it. So I'm sharing my gushing review below and hoping you'll want to pick it up too!

    The link at the bottom leads to a sneak peak of a playlist for the book by the author herself.

    When The Beat Drops by Anna HeckerAdd to Goodreads
    Seventeen-year-old Mira has always danced to her own beat. A music prodigy in a family of athletes, she'd rather play trumpet than party - and with her audition to a prestigious jazz conservatory just around the corner (and her two best friends at music camp without her), she plans to spend the summer focused on jazz and nothing else.

    She only goes to the warehouse party in a last-ditch effort to bond with her older sister. Instead, she falls in love with dance music, DJing... and Derek, a gorgeous promoter who thinks he can make her a star. Suddenly trumpet practice and old friendships are taking a backseat to the packed dance floors, sun-soaked music festivals, outsized personalities, and endless beats of the EDM scene.

    But when a devastating tragedy plunges her golden summer into darkness, Mira discovers just how little she knows about her new boyfriend, her old friends, and even her own sister. Music is what brought them together... but will it also tear them apart?

    Source: NetGalley

    5 Words: Music, family, love, secrets, hope.

    Well boy, that was a ride. And one I wasn't expecting.

    I was expecting something light, and probably fluffy, with a musical backdrop.

    What I read was something far darker than I could have imagined, where the music came to life on the pages. And I could not stop reading. It's almost like there's a beat behind the story itself. Music is everywhere for Mira, it's part of her very character, and it was everywhere in this book. I could almost hear it.

    I was absolutely blown away by the story. The pace was steadily rising, with various small story-lines all weaving together into one hell of an ending. And the story was more complex than I had prepared myself for, with more strands and deeper meaning. And trigger warnings for substance abuse and grief most definitely apply. As heavy as the story is at times, any issues are handled sensitively (even if I wanted to cry at times) and I felt it was done in a very responsible and non-preachy way.

    This is not a light, fluffy, summer read. But it is excellent and you should absolutely read it.

    15 May 2018

    Top Ten Tuesday #123

    Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

    Top Ten Tuesday
    This week is Top Ten 
    Books I Disliked but Am Really Glad I Read
    I had to take a dive into my 1 and 2 star goodreads shelves for this. Turns out that eight is generally the limit of my patience with a series, and there's a certain type of book I just don't like very much.
    1. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
      It was OK and I don't get the hype, but I gave it a go and found a good narrator with the audiobook. Silver linings? I might try the TV series instead.
    2. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepherd
      Not so much the first book in the series, but definitely later books I very much disliked. I think I got to the eighth book before I gave up, but I'm glad I tried it.
    3. Marked by PC Cast and Kristin Cast
      This is another series where I gave up on the eighth book because the story became a little bit too absurd. But I did it, I tried, and it was fun to begin with.
    4. The Elite
      I ballsed up reading this series and started with the second book. Huge mistake. Because you're just dropped in, and there's no explanation of the previous book. Also the world building is pretty non-existent.
    5. Frostblood by Elly Blake
      I just generally didn't enjoy this one, but I'm glad I read it because it's one I can recommend to people who like a certain type of fantasy.
    6. Losing It by Cora Carmack
      I just... I didn't like it, love. I especially didn't like Garrick, love.
    7. Twilight by Stephenie Meyers
      A lot of people hate on this, but I did keep an open mind and give it a go. Unfortunately I wasn't a fan of the writing, and that's down to personal preference and no hate for those who like it.
    8. Throne of Glass by SJ Maas
      As problematic as this book and series are, they actually helped me address some of my own internalised misogyny, and for that I am grateful.
    9. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
      So, fun fact - I love the story of Pride and Prejudice, but I hate the book. I just can't stand it, can't put my finger on why. Put an adaptation in front of me and I'll be enthralled, put the book in front of me and I'll make confetti with the pages.
    10. Panic by Lauren Oliver
      I have a love/hate relationship with this book. As much as I couldn't understand the game AT ALL I loved the exploration of family and friendship.

      What book are you glad you tried?

      04 May 2018

      Guestpost & Excerpt: The Girl in the Broken Mirror by Savita Kalhan

      Today I have the pleasure of inviting Savita Kalhan to my blog to talk a little about a book and share a chapter from the beginning.

      I read The Girl In The Broken Mirror in a day. It is hard hitting, deals with sensitive topics in a wonderful way, and doesn't shy from darkness. It left me ugly-crying, and was heart-breaking and amazing all at once.


      Thank you so much for inviting me here today and for being part of the amazing fourteen stop blog tour! There’s been so much love for The Girl in the Broken Mirror since it was published by Troika Books a few days ago – I’m still doing my happy dance!

      This is a special extract, with a little extra detail, from The Girl in the Broken Mirror just before Jay has to move into No.42 with her super-strict relatives, a move she is dreading. It’s her last evening of freedom, the last time she’ll probably be allowed to go out with her best friends Chloe, and Matt – who has suddenly become something more than just her best friend... complicated doesn’t even begin to describe how Jay feels about her life right now.

      She stuffed the remaining books into a box, sealed it up and labelled it: Jay’s Books. 
      Matt was supposed to call round for her at four, but he was late, as usual, and they ended up running all the way to the bus stop. 
      “You – did that – on purpose,” she said as they ran. “So we don’t – have to sit with them – in the cinema!” 
      He grinned wolfishly at her. “I just hope Alex and Chloe haven’t already got us tickets!” But they had – so, the four of them sat together for the new James Bond film after all.
      Jay and Chloe were in the middle with Matt and Alex on either side of them. Alex kept making inane comments until someone in the row behind them told him to shut up. Grinning, he turned around and hissed shhhh loudly at him before turning back and putting his arm round Chloe. 
      “What an idiot,” Matt muttered under his breath. 
      Jay had a feeling he wasn’t talking about the guy who’d told Alex to shut up. 
      Afterwards, they wandered up to Nandos. The queue was four deep, but it was still early, and they quickly got a table. 
      “So, you two an item now, then?” Alex asked, after they’d ordered their chicken wings and sat down with their drinks. 
      “No,” Jay said , laughing it off. She took a sip of lemonade to hide her embarrassment. She could feel Matt’s eyes on her, and her cheeks reddening. “We’re just mates.” She didn’t dare look sideways to see Matt’s expression. 
      Alex wasn’t exactly the most tactful guy in the world, she thought, wondering if Chloe had put him up to it. When Chloe winked at her, Jay had her answer. 
      It got even more complicated when Matt gave her hand a squeeze under the table – then he kept hold of it, and Jay’s heart did a funny skip. Was this was what she had wanted all along but had been too afraid to admit? 
      She prised her hand out of his, but from the way he was looking at her, she knew he’d felt it too. That – tingle. Despite her head telling her she’d done the right thing, Jay wished she’d left her hand where it was. 
      When the food arrived, Matt went off to get the sauces – Extra Hot piri piri sauce for him, Hot for her and Lemon & Herb for Chloe and Alex. 
      “For someone who thinks they’re hard, you should be having the extra hot,” Matt said to Alex. Only Jay noticed the mischievous twinkle in his eye. “Dare you,” he said, holding out the bottle. 
      “Nah, the heat doesn’t bother me. I like the taste of the lemon and herb.” 
      “You sure the heat doesn’t bother you?” Matt asked. 
      Alex snatched the bottle from him and poured the sauce liberally over his wings and chips. As he dug into the food, sweat began to pour down his forehead, his face getting redder and redder with each mouthful. Matt and Jay exchanged a look, which they tried to conceal, but in the end they were all laughing openly – including Alex, who spent the rest of the meal refilling his Coke, but somehow managed to finish his plate. They cheered and hooted as the last mouthful went down. 
      Chloe made the mistake of kissing him and ended up with the Extra Hot chilli sauce on her lips. 
      “OMG!” she cried, her eyes watering. “Can’t believe you just ate all that!” 
      After they’d parted ways with Chloe and Alex, Matt walked her home, just as he always did. 
      “I don’t get what Chloe sees in him,” Matt began. “Yeah he’s captain of the first team. Big deal – she doesn’t even like football.” 
      “I know. Maybe he makes her laugh.” She’d asked Chloe once, and all Chloe had said was that he was safe, which Jay hadn’t really understood. “Matt...” 
      “Jay, I know what you’re going to say.” 
      “You do?” Jay didn’t even know herself yet how she was going to phrase it. 
      “Yes, I do. You’re going to say something like: we’re best mates and this – us thing that’s happening isn’t a good idea. Plus you’re moving into Fort Knox, so it’s doubly not a good idea. Am I right?” 
      Jay shrugged. “Yes, it was going to go something like that.” 
      “Well, you’re wrong.” 
      “Matt, just listen for a minute.” 
      He waited for her to continue, his expression suddenly more serious than Jay had ever seen it. “You know it’s more complicated than that,” she said quietly. “We’ll always be best mates, but you could go out with someone else – someone without all these problems and complications.” 
      “Remember the first day of school?” 
      “You walked into the classroom and the teacher kept mispronouncing your name until you told her to just call you Jay.” 
      Jay smiled. 
      “And you refused to speak to me for ages.” 
      “I didn’t speak to anyone for ages. At least I wasn’t rude to you.” 
      Matt cleared his throat noisily. “So you don’t remember telling me to shove it – more than once?” 
      “Yes, okay, I did, and I’m sorry, but you were...” 
      “I was – what?” 
      “Being pushy!” 
      “Being friendly to the new girl, you mean.” 
      “All the girls in the class fancied you. I had enough problems without having to deal with them about hogging all your attention too.” 
      “But that’s just what you’re like.” 
      “What? I hog all your attention?” 
      He gave her a look. “No. You’re always doing stuff because you don’t like upsetting other people. Also, you’re honest, but in a good way. Like when Chloe dyed her hair and it went wrong. You didn’t say it looked nice, like all her other friends did. You said it would look better in a different shade of blonde, but what looked best was her natural colour.” 
      Matt was more observant than she’d realised. 
      “But that time when you read out that essay in English, I just thought, wow. She’s different, and she’s not afraid to be herself.” 
      Jay looked at him suspiciously. “What essay?” 
      “You know, the one on Thomas Hardy’s heroines. Half the class didn’t have a clue what you were on about. But I got it.” 
      “Yeah, well, I didn’t really care what anyone thought of me.” 
      He took her hand and they started walking again. “You’re not like the others. You’re real. And you’re pretty cute.” 
      Slapping his arm, Jay burst out laughing. 
      “Ouch!” he said, rubbing it in mock pain. “Remind me never to give you compliments! If you don’t like using the word boyfriend, that’s okay. We’ll just be best mates. Who hold hands...” 
      They’d reached her front door. 
      “See you tomorrow, Matt.” 
      “Yeah. We said ten, didn’t we?” 
      “That’ll mean half past for you then!” 
      “I’m not always that late,” he objected. “Okay, maybe I am. But I won’t be tomorrow! See ya.” 
      She watched him walk away, imagining how it would feel to have his lips pressed against hers. She’d never kissed a boy. She ran up the stairs with an unfamiliar warmth inside her, marvelling at how wonderful it felt, just thinking about it.

      I hope your readers enjoyed the extract! They can find out more about me by heading to my website I’m happy to answer any questions about the extract, or about me or about The Girl in the Broken Mirror – your readers can leave me a question in the comments section or tweet me @savitakalhan.

      Thanks again for having me here - I’ve really enjoyed it, and I hope everyone loves the book!

      The Girl in the Broken Mirror by Savita KalhanAdd to Goodreads

      Jay's creative writing exercise is to write a fairy tale, to end with 'they lived happily ever after'. But the way her life is panning out she's not sure it will ever reach that stage.

      A powerful moving gripping story which explores themes of family, loyalty and culture clash but is ultimately about hope and understanding.

      Book Beginnings #61

      For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

      For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

      I am currently reading A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard.
      A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
      Millie Gerdavey cheated on her boyfriend again.
      I'm starting to tackle my YALC TBR and first up is A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard. This has been on my TBR since it was announced because I loved the author's debut Beautiful Broken Things.

      I feel like this is a great first line, the confession of a secret, some juicy gossip.
      What happened when you got to secondary school? 
      Everything went to shit.
      I am only just starting now, so I'm quite excited to see where it goes, especially with that accurate account of high school.

      What are you reading this week?

      01 May 2018

      Top Ten Tuesday #122

      Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

      Top Ten Tuesday
      This week is Top Ten 
      Books On My YALC Reading List
      This week was supposed to be Books I’d Slay a Lion to Get Early but much as I love that theme - and I'll definitely come back to it - I need to get my YALC reading sorted. There's less than 100 days to go eek! Also a few of these I would have slayed a lion to read, but the NetGalley gods have blessed me.
      1. A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
      2. A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood
      3. Almost Love by Louise O'Neill
      4. Eve of Man by Giovanna Fletcher and Tom Fletcher
      5. I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman
      6. Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
      7. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (reread)
      8. The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green
      9. The Taste of Blue Light by Lydia Ruffles
      10. White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock

      Are you going to YALC? What's on your reading list?