SJ2B House of Books

Monday, May 25, 2015

TLC BLOG TOUR (Review & Giveaway) Disintegration by Richard Thomas

Richard Thomas’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS

Tuesday, May 26th: SJ2B House of Books
Wednesday, May 27th: The Scary Reviews
Wednesday, May 27th: Crime Fiction Lover
Thursday, May 28th: It’s a Mad Mad World
Friday, May 29th: Mallory Heart Reviews
Monday, June 1st: A Reader’s Oasis
Wednesday, June 3rd: Bell, Book & Candle
Thursday, June 4th: The Qwillery
Monday, June 8th: Priscilla and her Books
Thursday, June 11th: FictionZeal
Monday, June 15th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, June 17th: My Bookish Ways
Friday, June 26th: From the TBR Pile

Disintegration by Richard Thomas
Series: The Windy City Dark Mystery
Amazon UK £1.98   & $2.88
Format: Digital
Publisher: Alibi (26 May 2015)
Source: Publisher/TLC Book Tours/NetGalley

Rating: 4.5

TLC Blog Tour : Review & Giveaway

I am thrilled that Lisa from TLC Book Tours approached me to ask if I would like to read Disintegration and take part in the book tour.  After seeing a recommendation from Brian Evenson whose novels I have read and enjoyed, I was eager to get reading.

There are no mirrors in my apartment. I have forgotten my own face. My wife is a distant memory, and I can’t remember what she smells like, the melody of my son’s laugh, the butterfly kisses of my daughter’s soft lips on my cheek. They are shadows that haunt my every movement, and I drown them out, blur them every chance I get.’

This was a real compulsive car crash read. My initial thoughts on finishing Disintegration, were WOW, just WOW.

The narrative was confusing and disorientating mirroring the mindset of the narrator who is also the protagonist. As the story evolves you follow him maybe reluctantly at first, but then compulsively, along his road to self annihilation, retribution or redemption.  He doesn't know where the road will lead and you don't know which he deserves.

Our protagonist is a fractured shell of his former self. A devastating incident has resulted in the loss of everything he cares about. Between episodes of brutality and drug induced oblivion he listens to snippets of a recorded message left by his wife just before the said incident.  Far too painful for him to listen to in its entirety he craves the void again by means of a drug and alcohol induced coma. Life is a continuous slide between blurred reality and nothingness.

He gives not a damn about himself nor anyone unlucky enough to be drawn to his attention. He is an emotionally dead receptacle, void of any emotion or empathy. He only becomes animated by the aggressive encounters he has with those he believes needs to be taught a lesson. I am not a violent person but the writing draws you utterly into the seedy, dirty world the narrator resides in and I couldn't help myself from siding with him on many occasions.

Although dark and vengeful there are episodes of light and tenderness in the form of 'Luscious the cat' who visits him.  Our narrator cares and feeds her during her short stays, but she is ever watchful and wary and leaves at the slightest shift in his mood. Other chinks of light also come in the fleeting sporadic visits from Holly, his girlfriend. The most beautiful and sensual moments in Disintegration are between these two, but you can't help get that niggling doubt in the back of your mind that things aren't as they appear.

The story is as fragmented and confusing as the narrators psyche.  Eventually he comes to question what has happened 
to him, and who his secret benefactor is.  Is he being manipulated for sinister and ulterior motives? As he starts to make sense of the puzzle he is left wondering if he will be able to escape his current situation and return to being the man he once was after all he has done?

This was my first read from Richard Thomas and it definitely won't be my last. I look forward to reading 'The Breaker' the second book in the "Windy City Dark Mystery" series when it becomes available.

Pure Noir .... Gritty, unnecessary gratuitous violence...brilliant...loved it!

Disclaimer: A complimentary digital copy of Disintegration was provided by Alibi from the Random House Publishing Group and TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest unbiased review.

Here's your chance to win a $25 eGift Card to the eBook Retailer of your choice + an eBook copy of DISINTEGRATION by Richard Thomas by entering the TLC Book Tour Giveaway:

Sunday, May 10, 2015


Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Publisher: Canongate Books (5 March 2015)
Pages: 272 Hardcover
ISBN: 9781782115083
Source: Purchased

Rating: 5

Book Synopsis:

Aged 24, Matt Haig's world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.

A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.

'I wrote this book because the oldest clichés remain the truest. Time heals. The bottom of the valley never provides the clearest view. The tunnel does have light at the end of it, even if we haven't been able to see it . . . Words, just sometimes, really can set you free.'

My Thoughts:
It is important to mention that you do not need to have suffered a mental illness to benefit from reading 'Reasons To Stay Alive' by Matt Haig.

Enchanting, affirming, poignant and touching, but never self indulgent or 'depressing', 'Reasons To Stay Alive' is a memoir about the depressive episodes that plague Matt Haig's life. He describes the initial onset of the illness and the debilitating and frightening effect it had on him. He goes on to tell us how he eventually came to terms with the illness and his coping strategies for surviving episodes.

Mental illness, and in particular depression and anxiety, is extremely difficult to put into words, especially for the sufferer, however Matt Haig has eloquently articulated these emotions for us to understand.

As a bookseller, I've been asked on occasion which books I've read that have had a profound effect on me, or changed my life in some way.  Well this is definitely one of them.  I'd certainly recommend purchasing the hardback edition as its a lovely book that you'll definitely want to keep for future reference or inspiration.

This book should be made available on the NHS as I believe it could be of help to sufferers and to those supporting them. A great little self help book !

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

RUBY by Cynthia Bond

Ruby by Cynthia Bond
Published by: Two Roads - 7th May 2015
Pages: 368
Format: Digital
Source: Publisher via - bloggingforbooks

Waterstones Synopsis:
THE NEWEST OPRAH'S BOOK CLUB 2.0 SELECTION A NEW YORK TIMES TOP TEN BESTSELLER The epic, unforgettable story of a man determined to protect the woman he loves from the town desperate to destroy her, this beautiful and devastating debut heralds the arrival of a major new voice in fiction.

Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby Bell, "the kind of pretty it hurt to look at," has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city-the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village-all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town's dark past.

Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

Full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage. This wondrous page-turner rushes through the red dust and gossip of Main Street, to the pit fire where men swill bootleg outside Bloom's Juke, to Celia Jennings's kitchen, where a cake is being made, yolk by yolk, that Ephram will use to try to begin again with Ruby.

Utterly transfixing, with unforgettable characters, riveting suspense, and breathtaking, luminous prose, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man's dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of love

My Thoughts.

'Ruby' has all the elements a Southern Gothic tale should have: It has dark, disturbing racial themes with a supernatural, fantastical edginess; It focuses on damaged, complex and flawed characters; There are a multitude of disturbing acts of violence, cruelty and rape committed by members of the town's community; And an all too willing blindness and indifference from the rest of the townsfolk towards the suffering victim. So why was I not enamoured as the majority of readers were with 'Ruby'?
'Ruby' is the debut offering of Cynthia Bond is set in an all-black hamlet called Liberty Township, in East Texas.  It is the first of a planned trilogyI'm not sure at this juncture whether I'll read any more or not. I didn't feel connected enough to the characters, well maybe with the exception of Ephram Jennings an innocent sweet, bumbling character of a man who is besotted with the stunningly beautiful Ruby Bell.  However I couldn't bare to read anymore about Ruby's 'haints', or the spirits that burrowed inside her until she gave birth (or death, whatever it was) to them. It all just seemed so fantastically over the top, and took an age to move along with the story line.

I'm still wondering why I didn't enjoy it more. I didn't hate it I just felt indifferent. I found the dialect difficult to understand and felt that perhaps the author was trying too hard to impress and write a prize winning novel that she lost her true direction and concentrated too much on being overly descriptive.  I just know that I didn't connect with any of the characters nor care enough to want to continue reading about them.

Maybe it's just 'wrong timing' so maybe I'll try again sometime, so please do not let me dissuade you from reading 'Ruby' as I'm certainly in the minority with my views and it has received a staggering amount of rave reviews. Even 'Oprah' is championing this one. It just wasn't for me.  Book groups would definitely have some interesting discussions and debates over this one.

Disclosure: I received a complementary digital copy from 'Blogging For Books' for an honest, unbiased review.  I initially decided to stop reading at 40% but continued after a day's break. Unfortunately I didn't feel any better about it and DNF'd at 60%.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bryant & May: The Bleeding Heart by Christopher Fowler

Bryant & May : The Bleeding Heart
Christopher Fowler
Series: Bryant & May #11

Published by: Bantam (12 March 2015)
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: DEAD GOOD BOOKS CLUB - April (Goodreads & Publisher)

Rating: 4/5

It’s a fresh start for the Met's oddest investigation team, the Peculiar Crimes Unit. 
Their first case involves two teenagers who see a dead man rising from his grave in a London park. And if that's not alarming enough, one of them is killed in a hit and run accident. Stranger still, in the moments between when he was last seen alive and found dead on the pavement, someone has changed his shirt...
Much to his frustration, Arthur Bryant is not allowed to investigate. Instead, he has been tasked with finding out how someone could have stolen the ravens from the Tower of London. All seven birds have vanished from one of the most secure fortresses in the city. And, as the legend has it, when the ravens leave, the nation falls…
Soon it seems death is all around and Bryant and May must confront a group of latter-day bodysnatchers, explore an eerie funeral parlour and unearth the gruesome legend of Bleeding Heart Yard. More graves are desecrated, further deaths occur, and the symbol of the Bleeding Heart seems to turn up everywhere - it’s even discovered hidden in the PCU’s offices. And when Bryant is blindfolded and taken to the headquarters of a secret society, he realises that this case is more complex than even he had imagined, and that everyone is hiding something. The Grim Reaper walks abroad and seems to be stalking him, playing on his fears of premature burial.
Rich in strange characters and steeped in London’s true history, this is Bryant & May’s most peculiar and disturbing case of all.

My Thoughts:
This is my second outing with the eccentric duo Bryant & May.

The Bleeding Heart begins, as it did with The Burning Man, the cast of characters listed on the 'staff roster', and is accompanied by another memo from the disgruntled PCU Chief, Raymond Land.

The Peculiar Crimes Unit has been moved from being part of the Metropolitan Police to the City of London Police.
Orion Banks, The City's Public Liaison Officer has been assigned, on what the team believe to be an advisory role, to the PCU, but it soon transpires that she has power to grant or withhold permission to investigate any particular line of enquiry as she sees fit.
The units first case involves two teenagers who apparently see a dead man rising from his grave in a London park, soon after this one of them is killed in a hit and run incident.  However much to Bryant's annoyance instead he has been assigned to another case, that of the stolen ravens from the Tower of London
Being of the old school of policing Bryant and May find it difficult taking orders from this young addition to the PCU who also happens to be a woman. In light of this they choose to investigate in their own unique way and ignore Banks' presence. 
As always this involves talking to a host of strange and bizarre people, including a benevolent warlock, a herbalist, a witch, and a modern day Burke and Hare group of body snatchers.
The Bleeding Heart is another story with a clever plot, lots of twists, and turns and misleads, and out of the two books I've read, I enjoyed this one the most.
Probably as with most of the series there is a predictable tying up of loose ends, but come on, this is 'cosy crime' at its best.  Brilliant in its character development, fun and with hugely likeable characters and humorous story lines. 
The Bleeding Heart was a fun read and suitable for anyone to enjoy without bad language or grizzly descriptions of any nature.
Another highly entertaining humorous crime thriller accompanied by Bryant's interesting historical facts and anecdotes about London.  I definitely recommend it to established readers and newcomers to the world of Bryant & May.  I'm definitely looking forward to reading more from this motley crime unit.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


The Third Testament by Craig Russell
(Previously published in the UK as Biblical by Christopher Galt/Craig Russell)

Published: 23/04/2015 (Quercus)
ISBN: 9781780874838
Pages: 448 Paperback

Review: 5 out of 5

Previously published as 'Biblical' by Christopher Galt in hardback in 2014, I am delighted to see this brilliant thriller back with a great looking cover and a new, more suitable title. I felt at the time that 'Biblical' didn't give a true indication of its genre and felt it would not appeal to its rightful audience. With this issue resolved I'm confident that, The Third Testament by Craig Russell will receive the full recognition and praise it deserves.

My Thoughts:
The opening scene had me hooked immediately with the depiction of a French teenager finding herself in amongst a crowd of people witnessing the execution of Joan d'Arc.  She manages to take a picture of the horrific scene on her phone.

Around the world people are experiencing hallucinations, having feelings of déjà vu, and accidents and mass suicides are occurring on an alarming scale.

It is a time where science is destroying religion as it answers the mysteries and miracles of old.

Macbeth, a psychiatrist involved in a neuroscience project, finds himself hurled into a race against time to uncover the mystery of the phenomena. Is it caused by a virus, or are these visions sent from God as believed by religious leaders and fanatics worldwide? Is the world readying itself for 'The Rapture'?

Craig Russell's 'The Third Testament' (previously released as 'Biblical')  is a fantastic piece of fiction blending elements of scientific fact and human genetic anomalies. Russell's characters come to life with his empathetic writing style, and the numerous memorable characters are totally plausible and mesmerising. I felt as though I were watching a film, they were so well drawn out. I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen to each of them as their fate unfolded. Mary Vermont's heart felt tale of her frustration and anguish of suffering from Alzheimer's and the happiness albeit brief of the visions she has was particularly poignant.  It was easy to imagine what it must be like to have this awful disease looking through Mary's eyes. Each and every one of Russell's characters has an equally compelling tale to tell and I loved finding out about them all.

The Third Testament kept me guessing all the way to its mind blowing climax.  It is an intelligent, imaginative, addictive, apocalyptic thriller that kept me reading well into the early hours.

* Definitely my favourite thriller this year.

Christopher Galt is the pseudonym for the award-winning thriller writer, Craig Russell, author of the acclaimed Fabel and Lennox series. He lives in Perthshire, Scotland.

My review posted for Biblical last year Click here

Friday, April 24, 2015


Disintegration: A Windy City Dark Mystery by Richard Thomas

Published by : Random House Publishing Group - Alibi (May 26, 2015)
ISBN: 978 1101882527
Source: TLC Book Tours/Publisher

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Review To Follow: The TLC BOOK TOUR kicks off with my review on 26th May, 2015.

In a brilliantly stylish breakthrough thriller for fans of Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho and Will Christopher Baer’s Kiss Me, Judas, here is the compelling tale of a man who has lost it all—and is now navigating a crooked, harrowing path to redemption.
Once a suburban husband and father, now the man has lost all sense of time. He retains only a few keepsakes of his former life: a handmade dining room table, an armoire and dresser from the bedroom, and a tape of the last message his wife ever left on their answering machine. These are memories of a man who no longer exists. Booze and an affair with a beautiful woman provide little relief, with the only meaning left in his life comes from his assignments. An envelope slipped under the door of his apartment with the name and address of an unpunished evildoer. The unspoken directive to kill. And every time he does, he marks the occasion with a memento: a tattoo. He has a lot of tattoos.
But into this unchanging existence seep unsettling questions. How much of what he feels and sees can he trust? How much is a lie designed to control him? He will risk his own life—and the lives of everyone around him—to find out.
“Sweet hot hell, Richard Thomas writes like a man possessed, a man on fire, a guy with a gun to his head. And you’ll read Disintegration like there’s a gun to yours, too. A twisted masterpiece.”—Chuck Wendig, author of Blackbirds and Double Dead
Disintegration is gritty neo-noir; a psycho-sexual descent into an unhinged psyche and an underworld Chicago that could very well stand in for one of the rings of Dante’s Hell. Richard Thomas’ depraved-doomed-philosopher hitman is your guide. I suggest you do as he says and follow him, if you know what’s good for you.”—Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Little Sleep

About Richard Thomas

Richard Thomas is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in more than a hundred publications. Nominated for five Pushcart Prizes, he is the author of the novel Transubstantiate and two short-story collections, Herniated Roots and Staring into the Abyss. Thomas lives with his family in the Chicago area.

Richard Thomas’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS

Tuesday, May 26th: SJ2B House of Books
Wednesday, May 27th: The Scary Reviews
Wednesday, May 27th: Crime Fiction Lover
Thursday, May 28th: It’s a Mad Mad World
Friday, May 29th: Mallory Heart Reviews
Monday, June 1st: A Reader’s Oasis
Wednesday, June 3rd: Bell, Book & Candle
Thursday, June 4th: The Qwillery
Monday, June 8th: Priscilla and her Books
Thursday, June 11th: FictionZeal
Monday, June 15th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, June 17th: My Bookish Ways
Friday, June 26th: From the TBR Pile
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