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Book review: Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow

I was recently delighted to be asked to read and review the third book in Kate Griffin’s ‘The Kitty Peck Mysteries.

Why so excited? Well, having previously loved Book 1 (Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders) and Book 2 (Kitty Peck and The Child of Ill Fortune), I was awaiting part three of the series with plenty of anticipation.

I was not disappointed!

Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow (OUT TODAY) lives up to – and exceeds – the expectations of the first two instalments in the adventures of Kitty Peck, a young woman who has ‘Paradise’ forced upon her. In this case paradise is an inherited empire of music halls, organised crime, smuggling and protection rackets that used to be held together by her grandmother, the terrifying ‘Lady Ginger.’

Blurb-  Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow

Summer 1881: the streets of Limehouse are thick with opium… and menace. At eighteen Kitty Peck has inherited Paradise, a sprawling criminal empire on the banks of the Thames. Determined to do things differently to her fearsome grandmother, she now realises that the past casts a long and treacherous shadow. Haunted by a terrible secret and stalked by a criminal cabal intent on humiliation and destruction, Kitty must fight for the future of everyone she cares for…

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The biggest problem I have with writing this review is my desire not to ruin either this novel, or the two that come before it, for you.

Books one and two were amongst the best Victorian crime thrillers I’ve ever read.

Kitty Peck is unique amongst its peers. It weaves a world of darkness together with a fierce lightness which shines from the loyalty of her friends- but now even those long term alliances are under threat.

As I read, I could feel Kitty’s total frustration. She can’t do what she wants to do any more- she can’t even do what she knows is the right thing to do. Kitty’s every move is tied into knots by the looming twin spectres of Paradise and her domineering- even while absent- grandmother.

Attempting to escape the guilt that has become part of Kitty’s lie- a consequence of events at the end of book two- Kitty turns to opium- but even in her drug fuelled dreams she is hit by the remaindered of what she has been forced to do to survive- and what she must do- and the price that will be paid to do it.

Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow is tense, fast paced, enthralling, and every single word is worth reading. As with books one and two, not a single sentence is wasted. Every paragraph moves the plot along at such a pace, that you will not want to put the book down once you’ve started to read it.

With the support of Peggy, Lucca, and her grandmothers Chinese bodyguards, Kitty Peck must keep Paradise going. So many people depend on Kitty for their livelihoods- without her they’d be on the streets. After all, Paradise is only one step from hell.

I have no hesitation in awarding Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow 5 stars.

Blurb for Book One-

Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders– Limehouse, 1880

Dancing girls are going missing from ‘Paradise’ – the criminal manor with ruthless efficiency by the ferocious Lady Ginger. Seventeen-year-old music hall seamstress Kitty Peck finds herself reluctantly drawn into a web of blackmail, depravity and murder when The Lady devises a singular scheme to discover the truth. But as Kitty’s scandalous and terrifying act becomes the talk of London, she finds herself facing someone even more deadly and horrifying than The Lady.

Blurb for Book Two-

Kitty Peck and the Child of Ill Fortune– March 1880, Limehouse.

Kitty Peck, a spirited but vulnerable seventeen-year-old, is the reluctant heiress to Paradise, the criminal empire previously overseen by the formidable Lady Ginger. Far from the colour and camaraderie of the music hall where Kitty had been working, this newfound power brings with it isolation and uncertainty. Desperate to reconnect with Joey, her estranged brother, Kitty travels to Paris. Reunited at last, she is unable to refuse his request to take a child back to London. Within days of her return it’s clear that someone has followed them… and this someone is determined to kill the child… and anyone who stands in their way.

Kitty Peck and the Child of Ill-Fortune is a fast-paced historical mystery with breath-taking twists and turns that takes us from the decadent, bohemian world of late 19th-Century Paris to a deadly secret at the heart of the British empire.

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Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x


The importance of book reviews

I have recently been blessed with some lovely reviews for my latest novel, Abi’s Neighbour.

Reviews are the only way an author can tell if he or she is ‘hitting the spot’ or not. Obviously high book sales can tell you if your book is successful – but sale figures can do no more than reflect how good your marketing is. It is feedback from your readership that tells you if your stories are actually working.

If you wrote a thriller- did it thrill?

If you wrote a romance- did it melt the heart?

If you wrote a horror- did it give your reader nightmares?

Obviously this set of questions is simplistic, but the point is- authors need to know – and way to tell them is via reviews.

Good reviews improve our standing and our professional reputations. They improve our ratings on Amazon and equivalent book selling platforms. The more good reviews an author has, the better their sales will become.

I’m not saying that you should only give good reviews. If a book has disappointed, let you down and so on, then some constructive criticism can help an author- even though it might be difficult to swallow sometimes!

What you should not do is give a poor review because…

… of poor delivery packaging (nothing to do with the author)

…the book isn’t the one you meant to purchase- (you pressed the buy button)

…you didn’t like the cover after all, so you didn’t bother reading the book etc etc

My favourite 1 star review was for Another Cup of Coffee – it was complaining about all the sex in it.

This confused me. There is a suggestion that sex might happen on two occasions within that 97,000 word book. There is no actual sex.  I dread to think what might have happened if that reviewer had accidentally purchased one of my Kay Jaybee books!!!

If you enjoy a book – PLEASE review it.

It takes up to a year to write a book for you to read in a matter of days. Any positive feedback you can give helps us! A lot.

It’s tough in the world of publishing right now. We need to help each other to keep those books coming.

Whether you leave a review on the Amazons, WHSmith, Waterstones, or the brilliant Goodreads – every single one helps.

Every single one.

And with that…I have some reviews to write for some books I’ve recently enjoyed!

Thanks you,

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 


Guest Blog from Lucy V Hay – 3 HABITS OF EFFECTIVE BOOK REVIEWERS

Today I’m joined by my friend and Devon Writers business partner, Lucy V Hay – this is advice you can’t afford to ignore.

Over to you Lucy…

3 HABITS OF EFFECTIVE BOOK REVIEWERS

by @LucyVHayAuthor

1)They know what they like. I’m a big ‘grip lit’ fan – in other words, I’m most interested in female protagonists who are probably NOT police (or other related authoritative figures). I like mysteries, thrillers, unreliable narrators and characters who are not your ‘usual’, meaning I like diverse casts and I don’t feel have to necessarily ‘like’ characters to relate to their journeys. Plot-wise, I like strong concepts and prefer a fast pace with unexpected twists and turns. I favour psychological torment over actual graphic violence generally speaking. In terms of writing style, I like prose that’s lean, visual and sharp, almost literary.

That’s not to say I never read male protagonists, police procedurals or novels with torture and splatter in. I even read romance from time to time! But I favour ‘grip lit’ because ultimately I want to be entertained. Obvious, really!

effective book bloggers

BOOK REVIEWER TOP TIP: Know who you are, what you like and let people know – then you’re more likely to be approached by publishers, small presses and individual authors who have ARCs you would love to read.

2) They know their opinion is one of many. I don’t see the point in ‘hate reading’, so I always stop reading if I am not enjoying a book.  My time is limited as a busy working Mum of three, why would I waste it on something I am not enjoying? What’s more, I never review books I haven’t finished. But most importantly, I recognise that just because I don’t like a book, doesn’t mean someone else won’t LOVE it! As book reviewers, we have to realise our opinion is just one of many.

BOOK REVIEWER TOP TIP: If you’re not enjoying a book, why not pass the baton on to another reader? You could always say to the ARC giver, ‘this wasn’t for me, but I think X would love it’.

3) They have a strategy. I keep a record of the books I’m reading and have read via my Goodreads page, plus I share my top crimefiction picks based around a theme on my ‘Best of 3’ feature on my blog. I also try and post to my blog at least twice a week, plus five or six times in Facebook groups and Twitter chats about reading and writing. In other words, in any given week, my fellow readers should hear approximately ten times from me.

But it’s NOT all about me and what *I* like: I also invite fellow crime fiction fans to submit THEIR ‘Best of 3’ picks to my blog, plus I also invite authors and screenwriters to take part in an interview feature called Criminally Good. Once a month, I’ll do an author chat on my FB page, CRIME, INK too

BOOK REVIEWER TOP TIP: Decide in advance how you will build up your platform. And try and stick to the 80/20 rule – if you’re talking about yourself and your site 20% of the time, make sure you’re taking about others (and their books or picks!) 80% of the time!

Good luck out there!

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Lucy Hay

BIO: @LucyVHayAuthor is currently writing her first psychological thriller novel. She is also a script editor for movies and has written the nonfiction book, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays (Kamera Books). Join The Criminally Good Book Club to sign up for news, offers and giveaways.

Devon Writers

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Many thanks Lucy.

Jenny x


Review: Knights of the Apocalypse- Robin of Sherwood as you’ve never heard it before

For those of you who follow this blog, or who know me in what is laughingly called “real life,” you won’t be at all surprised to know that I loved the brand new Robin of Sherwood audio episode from the very start.

“But you were bound to love it!” I hear you cry – well no actually. Robin of Sherwood was a formative and important part of my life, and if this production had not done its predecessors justice, I would most certainly have said so.

RoS 2016 KOTA

The Knights of the Apocalypse stars the original cast of Robin of Sherwood, with Jason Connery as Robin, bar the late and much missed Robert Addie and Jon Abineri.

Addie was ably replaced as Guy of Gisborne by Freddie Fox, and the Lord of the Trees himself, Abineri, had his role taken on by his son. His voice is so spookily similar to Herne’s, that it was nigh on impossible to tell father and son apart.

The Knights of the Apocalypse was written after the end of the original series by the creator of Robin of Sherwood, Richard ‘Kip’ Carpenter, but it was never filmed. In tribute to Kip, who died in 2012, every penny in profit from the sales of #KOTA will go to his favourite charities

KOTA 1

As I donned my headphones- chocolate and drink to my side- ready to indulge in this two part episode of nostalgic heaven, I will confess to a slight increase in heartbeat as the first few sounds hit my ears.

Hoof beats…fast…through shadows…and there were voices…and then…the theme music! (The original series theme music, provided by Clannad, introduced both episodes) A smile passed over my face that felt just as broad as it did every time I settled down on a Saturday evening at 5.35pm, 30 years ago.

Judi Trott and Nickolas Grace

Judi Trott and Nickolas Grace

Listening with closed eyes throughout, I could hear and see every image. The visuals in my head were conjured by the sounds I heard as crisply as it would have been if I’d been watching on television. It was as if time had stopped and, to quote Alfred Noyes, “…the dead where coming back again, the years had rolled away- in Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day….”

Yet, time hasn’t stopped. 30 years really has passed since we last left Robin and his men without Marion, who’d entered a nunnery in a turmoil at the end of the final televised episode. We have been left on a cliffhanger all that time…until now.

RH- RoS 2

Once Clannad’s theme of ‘Robin…the Hooded Man….’ had faded away, the audio tale begins with Robin giving a role call- yes, all the outlaws are there- even Marion.

I am keen to give no spoilers, and so will hold back from a detailed- or even vague- account of the story. I will say that every cast member was outstanding- that Nasir (played by the ever excellent Mark Ryan), spoke more in these 2 audio episodes than he did in the entire 3 televised shows, and that the show was very much stolen by Nickolas Grace as the Sheriff and Ray Winstone as Will Scarlett- partly because their lines were so clever, and partly because they delivered them with such humour.

Colin Baker and Barnaby

Colin Baker and Barnaby

There was humour, menace, tension, and a wonderful star studded support cast. Michael Craig returned as Robin’s father, the Earl of Huntingdon, and Philp Jackson reprised his role as the Sheriff’s brother, Abbot Hugo. Colin Baker and Anthony Head were superb guest stars. Head really has cornered the market in evil, almost pantomime, villains! It’s the laugh- he just has the evil laugh off to a tee!!

Directed by Robert Young, the original TV director, produced by Barnaby Eaton-Jones,  and put together by the executive producers, Spiteful Puppet Entertainment, who are an award-winning audio production company (BBC Drama Awards, New York Radio Festival); The Knights of the Apocalypse was excellent from start to finish.

There really is only one question left to ask…

When will there be another one?

Oh- and can I help write it/be in it/do something….? OK, so that’s a lot of questions…

If you don’t have your copy yet you can buy one here- https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/robin-of-sherwood-the-knights-of-the-apocalypse#/ and find out my details here – https://www.facebook.com/KnightsOfTheApocalypse/

Happy reading- or in this case- listening, everybody.

Jenny x

 

 



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