SJ2B House of Books

Monday, September 28, 2015

WATERSTONES & OXFAM : Buy Books for SYRIA Appeal

Waterstones has come together with Oxfam, authors and UK publishers, to raise money for Oxfam’s Syria Crisis Appeal.

From Thursday 1st October, all Waterstones shops will sell a fantastic selection of books by bestselling authors in our 'Buy Books for Syria' campaign. All of the books have been donated by their publishers and we will donate 100% of the full retail price to Oxfam’s Syria crisis appeal.

A wide range of authors are supporting the campaign, including:
Philip Pullman, Hilary Mantel, David Walliams, Neil Gaiman, David Nicholls, Marian Keyes, Victoria Hislop, Ali Smith, Robert Harris, Lee Child, Salman Rushdie, Caitlin Moran, Julia Donaldson and Jacqueline Wilson.

“This is the biggest refugee crisis in history - 60m people, world-wide, are displaced, half of them children - threatening both the stability of the Middle East and Europe, and our own sense of compassion, and the value we put on human life. Whilst the governments of this world still fail to come up with a solution to this problem, I am proud to do as millions of others have, and say ‘We see you, we hear you, we will not let you suffer this alone. We promise - help is coming’." – Caitlin Moran

"I'm delighted to be a part of the British book world's effort." - Salman Rushdie
“I support this initiative with heart, mind and soul” - Ali Smith

“Buy a book, help save a life” – Ian Rankin

“The cause is so obviously good that anything we can do is worth doing.” -Philip Pullman

The list of titles will be announced on October 1st  and when you buy from our 'Buy Books for Syria' selection, every penny will go towards helping refugees.
Our target is to raise one million pounds and all funds raised will be ring-fenced by Oxfam for aid for Syrian refugees and displaced people in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey as well as European points of entry in Macedonia, and Greece.

All of our shops are participating, simply ask a bookseller or look for the books with the 'Buy Books for Syria' sticker. You can also follow the campaign online using the hashtag #BuyBooksForSyria.

Source Waterstones Blog:

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Coercion by Tim Tigner
Genre: Spy, Espionage, Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: e-ARC
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (July, 2015)
Source: Publisher/TLC Book Tours/Netgalley


Coercion Synopsis:
The phone rings and the offer is made, leaving you only seconds to decide. Betray your country, or watch your family drop dead before your eyes.

After the Iron Curtain’s collapse, Russia appears to be finished as a superpower. But KGB general Vasily Karpov is secretly working to restore Russia’s status by forcing Americans into traitorous acts of espionage and sabotage, with the aid of a new secret weapon. Meanwhile, his biggest target is within Russia, where Karpov is plotting to capture the Kremlin for himself.

Former US soldier and spy Alex Ferris becomes the first to fathom Karpov’s grand plans. Racing from San Francisco to Siberia, Alex must elude ambushes, assassins, and death from exposure as he wages a one-man war against a growing global threat and the resurgence of the Soviets.

“Tim Tigner is a masterful storyteller with a nose for intrigue and a careful eye for historical detail. Set in the aftermath of the collapse of the Iron Curtain, his latest book, “Coercion,” is a compelling tale of espionage and betrayal, one that will leave its readers wanting more.”  — James A. Baker, III, 61st U.S. Secretary of State

My Thoughts:
A team of scientists working in Russia have been wiped out in order to keep secret knowledge of the latest weapon they were working on.  The weapon? The Peitho Pill, aptly named after the Greek goddess of persuasion.  In the right hands (or wrong in this instance) this weapon will cause the ultimate shift in power from the US to the USSR.  Once the pea sized pill is injected into its victim, the target will not be harmed as long as he does the controllers bidding.  Should he fail in any way, either he or his loved ones will pay the price.

Frank Ferris a brilliant scientist apparently commits suicide. Alex Ferris, our main protagonist, does not believe that his twin brother would kill himself and decides to find out what really happened.

Victor Tito, a 'sleeping agent', and citizen of the USA, has been awoken and summoned back home to the USSR to receive new orders from Vasily Karpov a KGB General.

The action is about to ramp up and escalate...just hold on tight and enjoy the ride.

With a multitude of characters to keep track of,  a useful “Cast of Characters” list is included at the beginning of the book. After an initial period of confusion mainly over the Russian names, I quickly recognised who was who and only referred to the list as and when new characters appeared.

Tigner spent some considerable time as an intelligence agent in Russia, at the end of the cold war, and it is obvious that he has drawn upon his extensive field of expertise and experience to bring some authenticity into play in this novel.  Even so, there is still a large element of belief suspension required as Coercion is pure entertainment with our action-hero on a 'mission impossible', and one who always manages to save the day. Coincidences features highly in the plot, and our invincible hero is always in the right place at just the right time.

Coercion is a high octane political thriller about power, control, loyalty and trust. It is an exceptional, and intelligently written espionage thriller with well developed characters, including some pretty formidable ones at that.

I would have no hesitation in recommending Coercion to fans of Lee Child, Robert Ludlum, and Vince Flynn or to fans of Mission Impossible and The Jason Bourne films.

Certainly, it has everything you'd want from an action packed, fast paced spy-espionage read and I seriously hope that this is the start of a great series as I think it would certainly give Jack Reacher a run for his money.

Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of Coercion by Tim Tigner was provided by the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest unbiased review.

About Tim Tigner
Tim began his career in Soviet Counterintelligence with the US Army Special forces, the Green Berets. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, Tim switched from espionage to arbitrage. Armed with a Wharton MA rather than a Colt M16, he moved to Moscow in the midst of Perestroika. There he lead prominent multinational medical companies, worked with cosmonauts on the MIR Space Station (from Earth, alas), chaired the Association of International Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, and helped write Russia’s first law on healthcare.
Moving to Brussels during the formation of the EU, Tim ran Europe, Middle East, and Africa for a Johnson & Johnson company and traveled like a character in a Robert Ludlum book. He eventually landed in Silicon Valley, where like minds with wild ideas come to congregate around the creation of (nightmares and) dreams. Now he launches new medical technologies as a startup CEO, and devises devious devices for fictional characters who aim to change the world.
Tim grew up in the Midwest and Europe, earning a BA from Hanover College and then a MBA in Finance and a MA in International Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. He now lives with his wife Elena and their two daughters in Northern California.
Please visit for a free eBook. You’re also welcome to reach Tim directly at

Tim Tigner’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Friday, August 28th: 5 Minutes for Books
Monday, August 31st: BookBub Blog – author guest post – “Eleven Thrillers We’d Kill to See on the Silver Screen”
Wednesday, September 2nd: It’s a Mad Mad World
Thursday, September 3rd: Mallory Heart Reviews
Wednesday, September 9th: BooksChatter – author Q&A
Wednesday, September 9th: BooksChatter – excerpt
Thursday, September 10th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Friday, September 11th: Mockingbird Hill Cottage
Monday, September 14th: Tales of a Book Addict
Tuesday, September 15th: Fictionophile
Tuesday, September 15th: Building Bookshelves
Thursday, September 17th: Life is Story
Friday, September 18th: The World As I See It
Thursday, September 24th: SJ2B House of Books Blog
Thursday, September 24th: Lazy Day Books
Friday, September 25th: BooksChatter
Monday, September 28th: A Book Geek

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Boy From Aleppo Who Painted The War by Sumia Sukkar

The Boy From Aleppo Who Painted the War by Sumia Sukkar
Genre: Fiction (Faction), Contemporary, War Fiction, Refugees
Format: Hardback
PublisherEyewear Publishing (H/B Nov, 2013) (P/B Oct, 2014)
Source NewBooks Magazine


Adam is a 14-year-old boy with Asperger Syndrome who attempts to understand the Syrian conflict and its effect on his life by painting his feelings. Yasmine, his beautiful older sister, devotes herself to him, but has to cope with her own traumas when she is taken by soldiers. Their three brothers also struggle – on whether or not to take sides and the consequences of their eventual choices.

The Boy From Aleppo Who Painted the War is the powerful and deeply moving debut novel from 21-year- old Sumia Sukkar. It chronicles the intimate sufferings of a family in the midst of civil war with uncommon compassion, wit and imaginative force. Told mainly from a challenged young man’s perspective, it achieves the timeless dignity of a true report from an unpredictable and frightening place. It will take its place among the list of necessary books to read about how we preserve love and beauty during brutal times.

The story is sure to become a beloved classic, as it follows in the footsteps of other novels touching on the lives of young people during war. “Writing my timely novel was a way for me to express my grief towards the tragedies of what’s happening in my country,” says Sumia. “Readers will find it interesting to experience the traumatising events of war through the eyes of an innocent young autistic boy who has lived his whole life completely dependant on his family and then having to be separated from them. It contains a blend of political events, emotional drive and Arabian tradition."

My Thoughts:
I originally read The Boy From Aleppo Who Painted the War by Sumia Sukkar back in 2012, and it had quite an impact on me.  I don't know why I didn't write up my thoughts beforehand. Maybe I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to do it the justice it deserves. I will however now attempt to do just that and tell you what an amazing read The Boy From Aleppo Who Painted the War is.  With the Syrian conflict still at the forefront of news broadcasts, further compounded by the unfolding tragedy of the exodus of refugees from a country destroyed by war The Boy From Aleppo Who Painted the War is an excellent narrative.  It is a compelling but harrowing book telling an all too painfully realistic story seen through the eyes of a child.

Adam the books narrator is 14 years old, has Asperger Syndrome, and is totally dependent on his family.  He lives with his loving sister, Yasmine and his brothers Khalid, Tariq and Isa in Aleppo. Although he doesn't fully comprehend what is happening to his country he does have a sense of the bubbling tensions and fear, caused by the advancing Syrian conflict from the actions and altering behaviours, of those close to him.

Yasmine has always been totally devoted to Adam but after a particularly traumatic experience her character alters to such a degree that she no longer has the patience for him.  Adam cannot understand why this is or why sometimes she is grey or green and no longer ruby.

The only way he can cope, and make some sense of his changing environment is to paint what he sees and how he feels. He relates and feels through colour and paints the war as he watches the utter chaos and destruction of his home.

“I have the urge to paint and I can already see the painting in my head. Two young boys lying in the water with their bodies spread open, free, but their faces disfigured, burnt. It would be a black-and-white painting with the faces a spectrum of colours. It’s going to be horrible and beautiful all at the same time.”

The Boy From Aleppo is beautifully written with prose that flows naturally and effortlessly. It's hard to believe that this is Sumia Sukkar's debut novel but it is undeniably written with compassionate imaginative insight.  These fictional characters are 'real'; Adam and his family are the refugees we currently see on our TV and tablet screens. It is painfully raw and powerfully emotive reading about the violence, trauma and devastation the war has on them.

Sumia Sukkar does not pull any punches and has spectacularly captured the plight of the Syrian refugees. This is not a feel good read. As depressing and gut wrenching as it is to see the horror and devastation of war through the eyes of a child, it is an invaluable fictional reportage of current events. Even if we are ourselves powerless to help, the least we can do is try to understand and not belittle the plight of a war ravaged people and to remember that they are just like us. This book does that in a non political narrative of an innocent child.

I wholeheartedly recommend, even implore, that you read this book. A great debut offering from a talented writer, The Boy From Aleppo Who Painted the War is simply outstanding.

Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of The Boy From Aleppo Who Painted the War was provided by NewBooks Magazine in exchange for an honest unbiased review.

About Sumia Sukkar:
Sumia Sukkar is of Syrian and Algerian origin, but grew up in London. She has a BA (Hons) in Creative Writing from Kingston University. This is her debut novel. Follow Sumia on Twitter: @SumiaSukkar.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

... and the winner is ...

The Ghosts of Altona by Craig Russell ...

I'm absolutely thrilled for Craig Russell on his winning the Bloody Scotland Crime Novel of the Year.

... Russell said: “It goes without saying that I am absolutely delighted that The Ghosts of Altona has won the Bloody Scotland Crime Novel of the Year.
“I was very happy simply to have been shortlisted for the second time – which I took as a sign that I must be doing something right.
“The fact that the Bloody Scotland award is founded on the recommendations of readers themselves makes it a very special, very significant accolade – and to win out of a shortlist like this year’s, which included some of the finest crime writers in Scotland, is a huge, huge honour.
“I think it’s significant that a novel so clearly not set in Scotland can win the Bloody Scotland award.
“One of the greatest things for me in my career has been the success my novels have had abroad – the third Fabel film will be screened on ARD1, Germany’s equivalent of BBC1, exactly one week after the award – and you could argue that The Ghosts of Altona is as un-Scottish as you can get, but I actually believe that there is no more Scottish a trait than to look out into the world, to have an interest in others like us, and unlike us.’
Journalist Magnus Linklater issued this statement on behalf of the panel of judges:
“Despite an exceptionally strong shortlist, the judges’ decision was unanimous this year – we were all very impressed with The Ghosts of Altona...
Source: Daily Record - Read the full article here: Daily Record Article

It's a fabulous read so get your copy now ! Waterstones

You can read my original review here: Review of The Ghosts of Altona

The Ghosts of Altona is currently available in hardback and published in paperback on, 24 Sep 2015 (Quercus)

Disclaimer: I am a huge fan of Craig Russell (aka Christopher Galt) and his Lennox, and Fabel series, and stand alone title, The Third Testament (aka Biblical)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival (11-13 September)

Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival has announced the shortlist for the annual Bloody Scotland Crime Book of the Year Award.
The nominees are:
Lin Anderson- Paths of the Dead
Matt Bendoris- DM For Murder
Chris Brookmyre- Dead Girl Walking
Ann Cleeves- Thin Air
Craig Russell- The Ghosts of Altona
Louise Welsh- Death Is A Welcome Guest

The award recognises excellence in Scottish crime writing. The winner of the award will be announced at a gala dinner on September 12 as part of the Stirling-based Bloody Scotland crime writing festival.
This year’s judges of the award, which includes a prize of £1000 and nationwide promotion in Waterstones, are journalist Magnus Linklater, broadcaster Sally Magnusson and Caron Macpherson of Waterstones Argyle Street, Glasgow.
Previous winners are Peter May with Entry Island in 2014 and Malcolm Mackay with How A Gunman Says Goodbye in 2013.
Dom Hastings, Director of Bloody Scotland said ‘The Bloody Scotland Crime Book of the Year is increasingly prestigious, and this year’s shortlist, replete with a number of very successful authors, is testament to the strength, variety and diversity of crime writing in Scotland. Reading these books, you can travel from a misty midsummer night in Shetland to a high-security prison in the middle of an outbreak; experience the mysteries of a Druidic stone circle and the cut-throat anonymities of cyberspace, go on tour with a famous rock band or track down a long-lost killer. It’s a bit of a spooky list this year, with several of the novels flirting with the supernatural; also, interestingly, four of the titles are anchored by long-standing protagonists, proving that innovation and excellence still flourish in on-going series fiction. All in all, it’s a phenomenally strong showing, demonstrating that crime fiction in Scotland is still in rude, bloody health.’

For further information visit:

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

TLC BOOK TOURS REVIEW: The Fury by Shane Gericke

The Fury by Shane Gericke
Series: N/A
Genre: Crime, Thriller & Suspense
ISBN: 9781630150037
Pages: 379
Format: e-ARC
PublisherTantor Media Inc (Sept 4, 2015)
Source: Publisher/TLC BOOK TOURS

The Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico washes a cache of doomsday weapons onto a Mexican beach: bombs filled with VX nerve gas mixed with anthrax, invented by the Nazis during World War II and perfected by the United States to use in the Cold War. The bombs soon fall into the wrong hands and create an unstoppable opponent. Only one Chicago Police detective has a chance of preventing those bombs from being used on American soil.
Reeling from the recent murder of her husband as well as allegations of police misconduct, Detective Superstition “Sue” Davis is thrown into an undercover assignment. She must infiltrate the Mexican narcotics cartel responsible for the death of her husband in order to get close to the cartel’s sociopathic enforcer, Jiminez “Jimmy” Garcia.
But when the entire Garcia family is killed in Mexico by a U.S. Special Forces raid gone wrong, Garcia will stop at nothing to get vengeance, including triggering newly acquired bombs on American soil. Superstition’s assignment quickly becomes more dangerous than planned as the threat of a terrorist attack looms closer.
“A fireball of awesome!” —Joshua Corin, award-winning author of Cost of Life
“Tension and turmoil add up to high-stakes suspense as the characters are skillfully played across a global chessboard. Written like a born bard of old, you won’t be disappointed. But be warned, treachery comes from all directions, even those that cannot be seen.”—Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Patriot Threat

My Thoughts:
Information as to the key points of the storyline are in the synopsis so I won't add any more as I do not want to giveaway any more of the plot line.
Plot wise though there is a lot going on, a heck of a lot from the opening scenes of an offshore platform disaster in the Gulf of Mexico to the trials and tribulations of the sociopathic drugs cartel leader Jimmy Garcia and his family, chiefly his sister; we flash back to WWII and Nazi Germany to witness the development, and then the experimentation of nerve gas agents on human guinea pigs by the Japanese. Then we are brought bang up to date again with Superstition's involvement as an undercover agent.
I didn't have a problem keeping up with the multitude of threads in the story, but I did wonder how Gericke would plausibly mesh them together. There was never a dull moment and Gericke does an fantastic job of keeping the action and tension flowing in perfect symbiosis and tying up those lose threads.
Particularly engrossing are the chapters concerning Suspicion 'Sue', initially of her devastation at losing her husband in a gun battle with drug traffickers and her resilience and sheer gutsy determination to bring the killer to justice. Oh, and in the process saving millions of American lives from an agonising death.
The Fury is gritty, exciting and at times extremely violent. It's a fast, snappy paced thriller, one which I think would make a tremendously entertaining TV series.
I'd definitely recommend The Fury to fans of Lee Child and anyone wanting a cracking good read.
Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of The Fury was provided by TLC BOOK TOURS & Tantor Media Inc in exchange for an honest unbiased review.
About Shane Gericke:
Bestselling novelist Shane Gericke is the author of Torn Apart, which was short-listed for the prestigious Thriller Award and named a Book of the Year by Suspense magazine.
Shane spent twenty-five years as a newspaper editor, most prominently at the Chicago Sun-Times, before jumping into fiction. He lives in the Chicago suburb of Naperville. Visit him at

Shane Gericke’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Friday, August 21st: BookBub – author guest post, “13
Hair-raising Books on the Global War on Terrorism”
Monday, August 24th: Books that Hook
Wednesday, August 26th: Vic’s Media Room
Thursday, August 27th: Life is Story
Monday, August 31st: Dwell in Possibility
Tuesday, September 1st: Mallory Heart Reviews
Tuesday, September 8th: SJ2B House of Books
Wednesday, September 9th: It’s a Mad Mad World
Thursday, September 10th: The World As I See It
Friday, September 11th: From the TBR Pile
Monday, September 14th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, September 16th: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Thursday, September 17th: Lilac Reviews

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Hunt by Tim J. Lebbon

The Hunt by Tim J. Lebbon
Series: N/A
Genre: Mystery & Thriller
Pages: 400
Format: e-ARC
ISBN: 9780008122904
PublisherHarper Collins UK Avon (June 18, 2015)
Source: Publisher/Netgalley

Rose is the one that got away. She was the prey in a human trophy hunt organised by an elite secret organisation for super-rich clients seeking a unique thrill. She paid a terrible price. Every moment since she has been planning her revenge ...And now her day has come. Chris returns from his morning run to find his wife and children missing and a stranger in his kitchen. He's told to run. If he's caught and killed, his family go free. If he escapes, they die. Rose is the only one who can help him, but Rose only has her sights on one conclusion. For her, Chris is bait. But The Trail have not forgotten the woman who tried to outwit them. The Trail want Rose. The hunters want Chris's corpse. Rose wants revenge, and Christ just wants his family back. The hunt is on ...

'A great thriller ...breathless all the way.' LEE CHILD 

My Thoughts:
I took Tim J. Lebbon's The Hunt on a canal boat family holiday for a bit of a read at bedtime after a hard days work on the river banks.

I had good intentions of thoroughly pulling my weight along with the rest of the family; hubby, daughter (age 14), son (16) & Buffer the dog (age 2). However I failed at the outset, I was glued to the book from the first page. I could not be prised away from it. Poor old hubby was left to skipper the boat the whole time as I was engrossed in The Hunt.  It was that good, truly I do not exaggerate. I ignored the desperate pleas of 'everyone quick, I need help' shouts as we neared locks and any other hazardous encounter.  Did they not understand that Chris and Rose were all I cared about ?

Due to circumstances beyond my control, my family needing sustenance and vital fluids, I had to do the right thing and provide for them.  So I pulled out the ration packs and advised them to boil the bags in water before consuming to ensure they were ready to continue their marathon steering of the boat and leave me to resume my endurance of The Hunt.

Finally after being held captive for two days, The Hunt came to its explosive finale and I was free to rejoin my family and enjoy our holiday.

Told from the viewpoints of Chris, Gemma his daughter and Rose, The Hunt was a pure 'edge of your seat', 'roller coaster ride'. I loved that it was set predominanly in the rugged wilds of Snowdonia in Wales, and had a totally believable female 'kick ass' protagonist.
This doesn't mean that it was without its flaws, chiefly the lack of real depth of character development of Chris' family, but this was such a minor issue and was outweighed by the more fuller bodied characterisations of Chris and Rose, and Rose's relationship with Holt, that I forgave them.
The character depiction of Rose is outstanding. Rose is the force to be reckoned with and will take no prisoners whilst implementing her murderous plan of action to wreak vengeance on The Trail. She is strong, she has to be.  She has prepared herself mentally and physically for a long time and will let nothing get in her way to achieve her goal. Totally unpredictable, she is surviving on pure hatred and driven in her sole purpose of avenging the slaughter of her family.
We really get to know Rose through flashbacks and feel her agonising despair at the discovery of her family's fate after she managed to escape being hunted. It is Chris who questions the necessity for such extreme violence making him the weaker of the two in their race to ... what, survive ? ... and what will be the consequences ... to lose his family ?
Rose is someone you'd feel desperately for but because she has lost everything meaningful to her she has absolutely nothing to lose making her unpredictable and highly dangerous.  As much as I was on her side and wanted her to kill the members of The Trail I did have some concerns whether she could be trusted to help Chris outrun the hunters and escape The Trail. Also what if she did kill The Trail members who had come to be her driving force for living. What would be left for her to live for ?
At times I felt there were similarities to Richard Bachman's The Running Man, and Suzanne Collins' The Hunger GamesThe Hunt was far superior to the former and definitely The Hunger Games for Gown ups!
Never a dull moment, I was exhausted just reading it.
The Hunt is Tim J. Lebbon's first thriller, please don't let it be the last !
Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of The Hunt by Tim J. Lebbon  was provided by Harper Collins UK Avon via Netgalley in exchange for an honest unbiased review.