Friday, 21 January 2022

#BlogTour Other Parents by Sarah Stovell


 It's a pleasure to take part in the BlgTour Other Parents by Sarah Stovell.

About the Author

Sarah Stovell was born in Kent in 1977 and now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children. She has an MA and a PhD in creative writing and is a lecturer in creative writing at Lincoln University. She is the author of four previous novels, Mothernight, The Night Flower, Exquisite and The Home. Exquisite was chosen by The Times as one of the top 40 crime novels of the past 50 years. Follow @sarahlovescrime on Twitter

About the book

They all have opinions. They all have secrets. - In a small town like West Burntridge, it should be impossible to keep a secret. But the problem with having your nose in everyone’s business is that you can miss what’s staring you in the face.

Rachel Saunders knows gossip is the price you pay for a rural lifestyle and outstanding schools. The latest town scandal is her divorce – and the fact that her new girlfriend has moved into the family home.

Laura Spence lives in a poky bedsit on the wrong side of town. She and her son Jake don’t really belong, and his violent tantrums are threatening to expose the very thing she’s trying to hide.

When the local school introduces a new LGBTQ+-friendly curriculum, Rachel and Laura find themselves on opposite sides of a fearsome debate. But the problem with having your nose in everyone else’s business is that you often miss what’s happening in your own home.

Review

This tells the story of the interconnecting lives of women with children at the same school. Nothing in common except that fact, which is actually the case for the majority of parents and carers. You have no idea what each person is pretending to be or is dealing with in real life.

What playground parents are unfortunately quite good at is gossip, rumours, reputation destroying conversations, but most importantly at changing the path of how their children experience school and their peers.

One of the scenes that had me muttering along in agreement was the hypocritical attitude of give and take of the sanctimonious parent brigade. Wanting to control every aspect of their children's lives in the name of allegedly higher moral ground than the lesser people who walk among us, such as parents in same-sex relationships. Judging and pointing with one hand and holding out the other palm for silver at the same time.

And the way the PTA feels as if it has the power to change, decide and choose the curriculum and rules in school. They become a very loud, social media vocal, mob of angry judgemental people who become the tool that can be used for good and bad. Their last thought, if they think of them at all, are the children who are in the middle of these conflicts.

I thought the plot lost of bit of the initial drive and focus about three quarters way through, then too many cooks are in the kitchen in regard to the various threads or sub-plots. It takes the wind out of the sails for the storyline I felt was the most powerful and will hopefully leave the largest impact, then again stories like this will resonate differently with reader.

Stovell always brings an intriguing and captivating read to the table - hitting the nail on the head when it comes to relevant topics and very human interactions. 

Buy Other Parents at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com. At Harper Collins.

#BlogTour Emergency Drill by Chris Blackwater

It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Emergency Drill by Chris Blackwater. 'Shortlisted for the 2020 Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger award.'

About the Author

Chris Blackwater is a chartered engineer from Leeds. He began writing to entertain himself while working away on offshore oil platforms, power stations and shipyards. His career has taken him all over the world to many unusual locations and introduced him to some remarkable characters. His short stories have appeared in a variety of publications and anthologies.

In recent years Chris has gradually drifted down to the south coast of England where he now spends his spare time kayaking and sailing on the Solent.

About the book
Newly qualified offshore medic, Danny Verity, arrives on the Cuillin Alpha oil platform shortly before a storm damages the satellite system, severing the crew's only mode of communication to the mainland.

It isn't long before he is forced to carry out emergency surgery on an injured crewmate, whose accident he suspects was a result of sabotage, when another member of the crew disappears and yet another is attacked.

Then his casualty dies, and a sinister voice claiming to be that of the Pied Piper makes a threatening announcement on the PA system before Danny finds it damaged.

While the North Atlantic sea rages around them, Danny must find and stop the saboteur before anyone else gets hurt. But with no way of calling for help and unable to risk escaping on the lifeboats, it seems the crew are trapped aboard the platform with a killer.

Review

If you have any intention on visiting or working on an offshore oil platform, then you might want to reconsider after reading this. It's not exactly an advert for a safe workplace environment. Now, the fact it is actually a rather deadly and dangerous one makes this an invigorating read, but that's another matter entirely.

I not sure Danny thought being an offshore medic would be so brutal or become complicated quite so fast as it does. Barely on board and the casualties start piling up, and it's more than just an bad day on the platform - there appears to be someone with an axe to grind on the isolated platform, and they have only just gotten started.

The action packed plot and accurate description of the surroundings reminded me of a book written by the late Wilbur Smith. Hungry as the Sea has the same vivid and visceral connection to the sea. Blackwater draws from the isolation, the danger, the hunger of the waves, the weakness of man in comparison to nature. Then he draws a parallel between the power, the destructive power of technology, the platform itself and the people on the platform. Sea - man - platform. Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

It's a great read full of action, although as I mentioned before, it might not be the best recruitment for working on offshore oil platforms.

Buy Emergency Drill at Amazon Uk. Buy at Amazon com.

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

#BlogTour The Comfort of Monsters by Willa C. Richards

It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Comfort of Monsters by Willa C. Richards.

'Set in Milwaukee against the real-life crimes of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, the searing tale of a missing girl and a family devastated by her disappearance.'

About the Author

Willa C. Richards is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where she was a Truman Capote Fellow. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review and she is the recipient of a PEN/Robert J. Dau Prize for Emerging Writers. The Comfort of Monsters is her debut novel.

Willa was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1990. Both her parents are archaeologists and professors at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has three sisters and a brother. The Comfort of Monsters was inspired by a case her mother worked on as an historic archaeologist. In 2014 she was contacted by a family who, based on a tip-off they received from a psychic, believed their missing daughter was buried in an old cemetery on the Milwaukee County grounds. Willa’s mother helped organise the excavation over that summer, and Willa volunteered as a field tech along with a handful of others. No remains were ever found.

About the book

Summer 1991 was the summer the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel dubbed ‘the deadliest in the history of Milwaukee’ as the victims of Jeffrey Dahmer’s killing spree were revealed and dominated the headlines. The disappearance of teen Dee McBride is overlooked by an over-worked and broken justice system.

2019 nearly thirty years later, Dee's sister, Peg, is still haunted by Dee’s disappearance. Desperate to find answers, the family hire a famous psychic and Peg is plunged back into the past. But exploring the depths of her own memories raises terrifying questions. How much trust can we place in our own recollections?

Review

Thirty years after the disappearance of her sister Dee, Peggy is still invested and obsessed with finding out the truth, and more importantly with finding Dee. The problem is she can't get anyone to listen and no body means no crime.

Set around the real events in Milwaukee and a certain prolific serial killer, who found it easy to prey with such audacity perhaps because his victims were viewed in such a negative way. It's often hard to believe this is fiction, because the facts are woven into the fabric of this tale in such subtle way.

This is clearly an author to watch, an incredibly talented writer. Being able to create a captivating story without a bog standard ending, despite the fact plenty of readers will probably demand a solution - it's not only indicative of said talent, it also sails as close to reality as you can possibly get.

Richards captures the true picture of the devastation a disappearance leaves in its wake, especially when the presumption is a non-voluntary disappearance linked to a possible crime. The people, loved ones, who are left behind become living fatalities of the same crime. It's one thing knowing and dealing with the aftermath. It's quite another to never know and to spend the rest of your life trying to find out what happened, to be able to lay their bones to rest.

It never goes away and it crushes those left behind - the thought of what they went through and that the victim still belongs to the perpetrator because they are the only person who knows what happened. It's all about power and the power of suggestion, and how the imagination is often a bigger weapon against ourselves than the actual truth.

This is definitely going on my favourite reads of the year list. I can't wait to recommend it to people.

Buy The Comfort of Monsters at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Point Blank.

#BlogTour Bitter Flowers by Gunnar Staalesen

 

It's my turn on the BlogTour Bitter Flowers by Gunnar Staalesen, translated by Don Bartlett. 'A vintage classic from the award-winning, multi-million bestselling Norwegian author Gunnar Staalesen, available in English for the very first time.'

About the Author

One of the fathers of Nordic Noir, Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway, in 1947. He made his debut at the age of twenty-two with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over twenty titles, which have been published in twenty-four countries and sold over four million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Espen Seim. 

Staalesen has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour); Where Roses Never Die won the 2017 Petrona Award for Nordic Crime Fiction, and Big Sister was shortlisted in 2019. He lives with his wife in Bergen.

About the book

Fresh from rehab, PI Varg Veum faces his most complex investigation yet, when a man is found drowned, a young woman disappears, and the case of a missing child is revived. The classic Nordic Noir series continues…

PI Varg Veum has returned to duty following a stint in rehab, but his new composure and resolution are soon threatened when three complex crimes land on his desk.

A man is found dead in an elite swimming pool. A young woman has gone missing. Most chillingly, Veum is asked to investigate the ‘Camilla Case’: an eight-year-old cold case involving the disappearance of a little girl, who was never found.

As the threads of these three apparently unrelated cases come together, against the backdrop of a series of shocking environmental crimes, Veum faces the most challenging, traumatic investigation of his career.

Review

This book finds Varg just out of rehab and ready to get down to the nitty-gritty of the toxicity of the world of crime and criminals he appears to be surrounded by. The cold case of a missing child, the drowning of a young man and the disappearance of a young woman.

Varg's freshly found stability is shaken, not stirred, by a complex combination of cases. On the surface they are seemingly unrelated until Varg starts drawing the threads together an making connections, where other people see none he starts unraveling a cleverly constructed cloak of silence.

I'm pretty sure I said this about the last Varg Veum book, but this is the best yet. It really hit the nail on the head for me. This psychological thriller is paced meticulously and superbly executed. A random set of circumstances equals an insidious deadly plot.

The author delivers a scathing commentary on the inequality of life, especially when it comes weighing up the worth of a human being and actual monetary profit. That parallel is drawn across multiple thread, whilst connecting a strong set of characters.

Simultaneously it has the Nordic Crime flair Staalesen is known for, and of course the acerbic personality of his character Varg is a delight as always. As always a riveting read.

Buy Bitter Flowers at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com. At Orenda Books.

Friday, 14 January 2022

#BlogTour A Wartime Secret by Helen Yendall

 
Happy Publication Day to A Wartime Secret by Helen Yendall and it's also a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour.

About the Author

Helen Yendall: 'I’m a writer and creative writing tutor, based in the Cotswolds . I was Warwick Poet Laureate from 2006-7. I’ve had dozens of short stories published in a variety of magazines, including Best, Take A Break, The People’s Friend and Woman’s Weekly. I won The People’s Friend serial writing competition in 2015. I am a member of the RNA and I now write female-focussed WW2 novels.' Follow @HelenYendall on Twitter

About the book

‘Look after Violet!’ her mother called, as she was bundled into the back of the car. Then she was gone.

When Maggie’s new job takes her from bombed-out London to grand Snowden Hall in the Cotswolds she’s apprehensive but determined to do her bit for the war effort. She’s also keeping a secret, one she knows would turn opinion against her. Her mother is German: Maggie is related to the enemy.

Then her evacuee sister sends her a worrying letter, missing the code they agreed Violet would use to confirm everything was well, and Maggie’s heart sinks. Violet is miles away; how can she get to her in the middle of a war? Worse, her mother, arrested for her nationality, is now missing, and Maggie has no idea where she is.

As a secret project at Snowden Hall risks revealing Maggie’s German side, she becomes even more determined to protect her family. Can she find a way to get to her sister? And will she ever find out where her mother has been taken?

Review

Still coming to terms with life without her mother, Maggie is finding it increasingly difficult to deal with her father. He thinks only of himself and not about how his actions and decisions may impact his family. It makes living and surviving in war-torn London so much more difficult than it already is.

When an opportunity presents itself, one her father disapproves of, but gives her the opportunity to find herself and discover friendship, love and conviction - her path becomes one she determines herself from this point forward. Maggie learns valuable lessons about judging a book by its cover, that the grass isn't always greener on the other side, and that small acts of kindness leave large ripples in time.

There's nothing like a war to divide people and make them suspicious of anyone who has even a hint of the enemy about them. Maggie has to hide one side of her parentage, being half-German isn't something you just throw out there into the conversation, when they are perceived as the essence of evil and the reason so many men have lost their lives, both in the Great War and during the ongoing one.

Yendall captures the essence of the time and her characters within said period of time. It's historical fiction with a wink of humour, whilst laying bare the trauma of the war and the indestructible will to survive that was a paramount ingredient of the people in that situation.

It's the kind of read that pulls at the heartstrings, and yet sees the light and joy in the small interactions and gestures. A riveting and enjoyable read.

Buy A Wartime Secret at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : ‎HQ Digital pub date 14 Jan. 2022. Buy at Amazon com. At Harper Collins.

Thursday, 13 January 2022

#BlogTour Wahala by Nikki May


It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Wahala by Nikki May.

'Nikki’s debut novel WAHALA will be published around the world and is due to be turned into a major TV serial for the BBC by Bafta-nominated writer Theresa Ikoko.'

About the Author

Born in Bristol and raised in Lagos, Nikki May is Nigerian-British. At twenty, she dropped out of medical school, moved to London, and began a career in advertising, going on to run a successful agency. Nikki lives in Dorset with her husband and two standard Schnauzers. Follow @NikkiOMay on Twitter, Visit nikki-may.com

Nikki says: “This is a novel about the power of friendship and the stories we inherit. The inspiration for Wahala came from a long (and loud) lunch with very good friends in a Nigerian restaurant. I wanted to read a book that had people like me in it. The first scene was drafted on the train journey home. The characters became flesh and wouldn’t let me go.” 

About the book

Ronke, Simi, Boo are three mixed-race friends living in London. They have the gift of two cultures, Nigerian and English, though they don't all choose to see it like that.

Everyday racism has never held them back, but now in their thirties, they look to the future - Ronke wants a husband (he must be Nigerian); Simi supposedly wants a child (well, her husband does); Boo is frustrated and unfulfilled, caught in a whirl of school runs and lustful dreams. When Isobel, a lethally glamorous friend from their past arrives in town, she is determined to fix their futures for them.

As cracks in their friendship begin to appear, it is soon obvious Isobel is not sorting but wrecking. When she is driven to a terrible act, the women are forced to reckon with a crime in their past that may have just repeated itself.

A darkly comic and bitingly subversive take on love, race and family, Wahala will have you laughing, crying and gasping in horror. Boldly political about class, colorism and cooking, here is a truly inclusive tale that will speak to anyone who has ever cherished friendship, in all its forms.

Review

Ronke, Simi, Boo are long-time friends, and it would seem that they are have an unbreakable bond of friendship, which is cemented through their dual identities in regards to culture and the fact they are all mixed-race. Their experiences of racism have been consistent - systemic, and yet also defined by their surroundings and their individual experiences.

When a unexpected fourth person inserts herself into their group the boundaries of their friendship and loyalties begin to move and crumble. A pretty face and a flashy personality can't hide a venomous snake with vicious intentions for long.

I enjoyed the way this read evolved from the complexity of friendships, the nuances of racism and cultural expectations, into a dark domestic story. Quite unexpected, but it does the job when it comes to keeping readers on their toes. May shows the often extreme balancing act those generations have to deal with when it comes to having to pander to two cultural identities. The family has expectations and society often quite a different set of the same.

I'll be looking forward to more interesting reads by this author.

Buy Wahala at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : Doubleday Uk, pub date 6th January 2022 | Hardback | £14.99. Buy at Amazon com.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

#BlogTour The Postmistress of Paris by Meg Waite Clayton

 It's my turn on the BlogTour The Postmistress of Paris by Meg Waite Clayton.

About the Author

Meg Waite Clayton is a New York Times bestselling author of six novels, most recently Beautiful Exiles. Her previous novels include the Langum Prize--honored The Race for Paris; The Language of Light, a finalist for the Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction (now the PEN/Bellwether); and The Wednesday Sisters, one of Entertainment Weekly’s 25 Essential Best Friend Novels of all time. 

She has also written for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes, and public radio, often on the subject of the particular challenges women face. Follow @MegWClayton on Twitter, Visit megwaiteclayton.com

About the book

The New York Times bestselling author of The Last Train to London revisits the dark early days of the German occupation in France in this haunting novel—a love story and a tale of high-stakes danger and incomparable courage—about a young American heiress who helps artists hunted by the Nazis escape from war-torn Europe.

Wealthy, beautiful Naneé was born with a spirit of adventure that transcends her Midwestern roots. For her, learning to fly is freedom. When German tanks roll across the border and into Paris, this woman with an adorable dog and a generous heart joins the resistance. Known as the Postmistress because she delivers information to those in hiding, Naneé uses her charms and skill to house the hunted and deliver them to safety.

Inspired by the real life Chicago heiress Mary Jayne Gold, who worked with American journalist Varian Fry to smuggle artists and intellectuals out of France, Meg Waite Clayton has fashioned a sweeping tale of romance and danger, set in a world aflame with personal and political passion. The Postmistress of Paris is the haunting story of an indomitable woman whose strength, bravery, and love is a beacon of hope in a time of terror.

Review

Naneé is woman who loves being one with the air and nature, and yet simultaneously also enjoys the way others embrace and then express the way they perceive life. As the evil ideology of the Nazi regime slowly encroaches upon her life and the lives of those around her, she makes a choice. She becomes part of the solution and part of the resistance.

A story born from an inspirational story leading into and during World War 2. The author takes that inspiration and creates an emotional, caring story around it. It's not just about love, it's about endurance and being willing to go that extra mile under extreme circumstances for the people you love or in this case people who are stuck in the eye of a deadly storm. The courage of individuals sometimes leaves the smallest footprint, but makes the most lasting and important impression.

It's historical fiction with plenty of amusing and endearing moments, whilst giving the historical importance of this period in time due diligence. It also opens the door into less often discussed events during this period, especially in regards to the attitude and position towards the creative arts and their creators. 

Buy The Postmistress of Paris at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎ Harper pub date 30 Nov. 2021. Buy at Amazon com. At Harper Collins.