Thursday, 12 December 2019

#BlogTour A Portrait of Death by Rhen Garland


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour A Portrait of Death by Rhen Garland.
About the Author
Rhen Garland lives in Somerset, England with her folk-singing, book-illustrating husband, approximately 4000 books, an equal number of ancient movies, and a large flock of stuffed sheep.
She enjoys the countryside, peace, and Prosecco and the works of Ngaio Marsh, Glady Mitchell, John Dickson Carr/Carter Dickson, Agatha Christie, and Terry Pratchett.

"I watch far too many old school murder mystery films, TV series, and 1980s action movies for it to be considered healthy."

"A Portrait of Death" is a murder mystery thriller with paranormal touches set in late Victorian England and is the first book in the Versipellis Mysteries Series.
Follow @RhenWitch on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, on Bookbub, on Goodreads,
Buy A Portrait of Death


About the book
In the quiet English village of Marmis Parva, a weekend house party is organised by a society hostess and all the top names are invited. But this is no ordinary party.

Two men are savagely murdered during the course of the first evening and a young man, presumed dead, returns home after two years imprisonment in South Africa bringing with him proof of treason.
Detective Chief Inspector Elliott Caine’s long-awaited holiday in the Lake District is cancelled as he is brought in to investigate the peculiar nature of the murders. More bodies are discovered and Elliott has to manoeuvre between high society, Government protocols, and the heinous nature of the crimes if he and his old friend Detective Sergeant Abernathy Thorne, are to catch the sadistic killer, and the traitor lurking amongst them.

When Caine’s past comes back to haunt him, will his judgement be too clouded to focus on solving the crime? Will the Boer spy’s identity be uncovered before they can flee? How are these murders connected to another in New York?

Review
Think Downton Abbey with the mystery vibe of a Christie and the murderous intent of a paranormal story with a hint of horror.

A weekend house party turns into a nightmare and the place of intrigue, death, threats, treachery and betrayal. Detective Chief Inspector Elliott Caine has to follow all the leads and disentangle the motives to find the real culprit. It's fair to say he discovers more than he expected to.

The upstairs, downstairs culture plays an important role in the storytelling, especially when it comes to the hierarchy in both of the structures and class elements. The intricate structures that determine the life they lead. How the vulnerable become victims of those who use their power status to oppress and abuse.

It's a Victorian crime mystery with elements of the paranormal and the mysterious brutality of a modern killer. Murder committed in the form of a shadow. A faceless unknown entity that comes and goes without leaving proof of existence.

At times it seemed as if less would be more, because it is fast-paced with lots of characters and different threads and the beginning takes the reader to different time sequences.

Garland brings multiple genres together in this crime mystery, which is set in the late 19th century, but often has the feel of a more vicious and modern crime read. The scenes with the murderer and the crimes give off this feel of something very dark and intense. It's quite interesting how the author sets the imagery of gruesome and bloody scenes without relying on gratuitous details and yet manages to instill this feeling of unseen and very much imagined horror.

Buy A Portrait of Death (Versipellis Mysteries) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy Amazon com.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

#BlogTour Too Many Heroes by Jan Turk Petrie


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Too Many Heroes by Jan Turk Petrie.
About the Author
Jan Turk Petrie lives in the Cotswolds, S.W. England. She is the author of the fast paced Nordic thriller series: the Eldísvík novels. All three of these novels are set in 2068 in a fictional city state just below the arctic circle.

'Until the Ice Cracks' - the first of the trilogy was published in July 2018. Volume Two - 'No God for a Warrior' was published in November 2018. The third and final volume - 'Within Each Other's Shadow' was published in April 2019

The ebook boxset - The Eldísvík Trilogy was published in August 2019. Jan's fourth novel - 'Too Many Heroes' - a gripping new post-war thriller set in the East End of London was published in August 2019. She is currently working on her fifth book - 'Towards the Vanishing Point.'

A former English teacher with an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Gloucestershire, Jan has also written numerous, prize-winning short stories.

Follow @TurkPetrie on Twitter, on Amazon, on Goodreads, Visit janturkpetrie.comBuy Too Many Heroes


About the book
Where can a wanted man hide in a country full of returned war heroes?
It’s 1952 and Frank Danby has been looking over his shoulder for the last ten years, forced to lead an itinerant life, getting work wherever he can while trying to keep one step ahead of the police.

Returning to London, he finds a job in an East End pub, where he becomes entangled with Grace, the young and beautiful wife of the landlord. Then the law comes knocking. Facing a justice system prejudiced against him, Frank must find a way to escape the gallows.

Too Many Heroes is a gripping period thriller, exploring love, belonging and betrayal in a country still recovering from WW2. A must for fans of the post-war novels of Philip Kerr, Kate Atkinson and Sara Sheridan.

Review
Frank wants to be able to make a living without attracting a lot of attention. He wants to stay under the radar - way under the radar. Living a normal life isn't possible when you're technically a criminal. What's worse, in the eyes of many people being a deserter is the ultimate betrayal to all of those who fought and lost their lives in the war. Hiding away instead of supporting his fellow soldiers - there is no excuse for that and it is simply cowardice.

There is no consideration for the fear someone like Frank might have felt or guilt he may have burdened himself with. The why doesn't matter to the country. So Frank lives like a nomad.

He doesn't expect to meet someone like Grace and feel an instant connection. Unfortunately she has a husband and isn't in a position to embrace the attraction she feels for the wanderer. The clandestine relationship ends in tragedy for the two of them.

It's historical crime fiction set after WW2. The author lets the story and the tension between the characters develop slowly and gives the reader glimpses, via flashbacks, of why Frank is in such a precarious position. They tell a tale of torment which he carries within him on a daily basis. A side of him he is reluctant to share with the world for fear of judgement and disdain.

I would have liked the author to explore the topic of desertion and perhaps even conscientious objectors a little more, aside from the information in the appendix. In another story perhaps? The trauma and permanent psychological scarring of people who are or were involved in war or combat is underestimated, and even in our day and age the support for veterans is severely lacking.

Buy Too Many Heroes at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Pintail Press; pub date 23 July 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

#BlogTour Storm of Ash by Michelle Kenney


Today it's a pleasure to kick off the BlogTour Storm of Ash by Michelle Kenney.

About the Author
Michelle is a firm believer in magic, and that ancient doorways to other worlds can still be found if we look hard enough. She is also a hopeless scribbleaholic and, when left to her own devices, likes nothing better than to dream up new fantasy worlds in the back of a dog-eared notebook. Doctors say they're unlikely to find a cure any time soon.

In between scribbling, Michelle love reading, running, attempting to play bluegrass and beach treasure-hunting with her two daughters (dreamers-in-training).

Michelle holds a LLB (hons) degree, an APD in Public Relations and is an Accredited Practitioner with the CIPR (with whom she's won awards for Magazine & PR work). But she's definitely happiest curled up against a rainy window, with her nose in a book.

Book of Fire is the first in a brand new YAFantasy Trilogy published by HarperCollins HQ. City of Dust, Book 2, was published October 2018 (digital) and December 2018 (paperback), and Storm of Ash, the final instalment is out on 11 December (Digital) and February 2020 (Paperback)

Follow @mkenneypr on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon, on Facebook, Visit michellekenney.co.uk, Buy Storm of Ash


About the book
The brand new novel from Michelle Kenney, author of the Book of Fire and City of Dust!
As Talia treks back through the treacherous North Mountains, she knows only three things: Pantheon has stolen nearly everyone she loves; Her blood is the only control over the Voynich's oldest secret; And Cassius won't stop hunting Arafel until every last outsider is destroyed. Will Talia finally face her legacy and defeat Cassius before it is too late?

Review
This is the third book in the Book of Fire series. It absolutely can be read as a standalone novel, however I would highly recommend reading Book of Fire and City of Dust to get a better overall view and to be able to enjoy the vision and complexity of the storytelling.

This book starts with the conundrum Talia faces when it comes to Lake. The draco-chimera has become a potential threat to everyone, as Talia always thought she possibly would. Can the power be tamed and controlled or is Lake destined to be an object of destruction?

It's difficult to talk about this third part without giving too much of the plot away, so I am going to keep the details to a minimum. Needless to say both Lake and Talia bring fire to the table in their own specific way. The bond between them since the day Talia discovered the chimera will be drawn and chipped at, but perhaps not quite in the way certain adversaries expect it to be. Belief, friendship and ultimately trust is what speaks from their connection to each other.

Kenney writes fantasy the way it should be written. She wants her readers to sink into the folds of the intricate world-building and become immersed in the worlds she weaves. Much like a spider, she spins a web that one cannot help but fall into.

I was impressed by how many different elements the author wove into the structure of the story. History, mythology, evolution and of course the power of magic, which is defined and controlled only by the boundaries of her imagination. It is however also without boundaries, exceptionally expressive and simultaneously filled with rivers of emotion that flow throughout the story as it evolves.

It's high fantasy with elements of evolution, history and magic. The powerful world-building is combined with strong descriptive writing and an excellent plot. It's a cracking read, especially if you enjoy your fantasy intense, complex and relentless.

Buy Storm of Ash (Book of Fire #3) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.  Publisher: HQ Digital, ebook pub date 11 Dec. 2019 - Paperback pub date 6 Feb. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Monday, 9 December 2019

#BlogTour Hanukkah at the Great Greenwich Ice Creamery by Sharon Ibbotson


It's the start of the BlogTour Hanukkah at the Great Greenwich Ice Creamery by Sharon Ibbotson.

About the Author
Sharon was born in Sydney, Australia but now lives in London with her husband, two small children and two black cats named for desserts. She started writing ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ fanfiction aged 15, which eventually transformed into the historical romance novels she writes today. She has two novels published by Choc Lit, and when not writing, can be found baking cakes badly or drinking wine well.

Follow @seibbotson on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, on Amazon, on Goodreads, Visit sharonibbotson.comBuy Hanukkah at the Great Greenwich Ice Creamery


About the book
Cohen Ford is a man who could do with a little bit of sweetening up. It’s no surprise that when he walks into The Great Greenwich Ice Creamery on a typically gloomy London day before Christmas, he insists on a black coffee rather than his childhood favourite – strawberry ice cream.

But then he meets River de Luca, the woman behind the flavours. After their first encounter, Cohen begins visiting the ice creamery every Tuesday, gradually learning more about the intriguing River. Could her influence encourage cynical Cohen to become the man who embraces Christmas, Hanukkah and even strawberry ice cream?Hanukkah days, Christmas nights and strawberry ice cream …

Review
Cohen is on an errand. The kind of annoying errand only a parent can send you on, so he certainly isn't expecting to walk into an Ice Creamery and make the kind of visceral connection that is very rare. An instant attraction - the knowledge that somehow you are meant to connect with a specific person that just happens to walk into your life.

The way Cohen talks about River to Rushi, and vice versa, in the first few chapters and in general - I found it uncomfortable. It's as if everyone in her vicinity infantilises River, because of her deafness. Talking about her over her head, making decisions about her and for her as if she were a child. It wasn't concern for her well-being, but rather an attempt to control in the name of concern.

Romanticising the behaviour felt wrong, and in a way I think the author calls attention to the attitude and behaviour of the hearing in regards to the deaf by doing this. The ignorance and arrogance that accompanies the treatment of the deaf when those who can hear find themselves in a position to have to move beyond their usual methods of communication.

The author also makes a point about how men are taught to curb and discount certain talents and things they enjoy merely because they could be seen as effeminate. Cohen is taught to feel shame and embarrassment for hobbies that bring him pleasure.

It's romance that crosses the boundaries of the senses and communication to allow love to blossom. Ibbotson combines the early blush of attraction with the physical feelings of desire, which culminate in two people acknowledging a deep connection between the two of them.

On a side note: I think sign language, obviously which kind depends on the country, should be a made a compulsory part of curriculum to create an even playing field for all individuals both hearing and non-hearing.

Buy Hannukkah at the Great Greenwich Ice Creamery at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Choc Lit; pub date 4 Dec. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

#BlogTour Dark Hollows by Steve Frech


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Dark Hollows by Steve Frech.

About the Author
Steve Frech lives in Los Angeles. In addition to writing, he produces and hosts the Random Awesomeness Podcast, an improv-comedy quiz show that has been performed at Upright Citizens Brigade, The Improv, iO West, and Nerdist.

Follow @stevefrech on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Facebook,
Buy Dark Hollows


About the book
Jacob Reese enjoys the quiet life, running a coffee shop and renting out his cottage in The Hollows, Vermont.

But the calm is shattered when a woman who looks eerily similar to his ex-girlfriend Laura turns up to stay in the cottage, and leaves a mysterious note in the guest book.

Now Jacob’s seeing Laura everywhere—a glimpse of her face across the street, her music box left outside his house, a gift he gave her years before hanging from the trees.

But it can’t be Laura. Because Laura’s dead.

Someone knows Jacob’s secret—what really happened the night Laura died—and they’re out for revenge…

Review
To an outside observer Jacob appears to have it all. A man who is liked by all with a successful business and with both feet firmly placed in the community - what could possibly be wrong with his life? As if that wasn't enough to cement the impression of a person in control of his life and happiness there is also his delightfully droll dog Murphy.

The truth is Jacob does have a secret - the kind of secret he can't afford to let surface. It would destroy the life he has built for himself. But it seems as if someone else knows about his secret and are intent on destroying his life bit by bit.

Laura is back, which is a bit of a conundrum because Jacob is pretty sure she is dead. Very sure actually, which begs the question - who is trying to convince him that she is very much alive and well?

It's interesting how Frech doesn't really take the most obvious path of Jacob being the guilty party and deserving of some kind of punishment. Instead the mystery and tension is built around the Jacob of now, as opposed to the Jacob of then.

It's a psychological thriller that plays with the question of guilt. Does the punishment fit the crime? Is the destruction of his life and those he cares for really the right way to punish him? It's a cat and mouse game and I'm not sure there is a clear victor at the end, which is probably the most satisfying way to end the story.

Buy Dark Hollows at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ Digital ebook pub date 6 Dec. 2019. Paperback release date 20 Feb. 2020. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at HQ.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

#BlogTour Black Summer by M.W. Craven


Today it's an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Black Summer by M.W. Craven. This is the second book in the Washington Poe series -it's a cracking read.

About the Author
A brand new voice in British crime fiction, M.W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle. He joined the army at sixteen, leaving ten years later to complete a social work degree. Seventeen years after taking up a probation officer role in Cumbria, at the rank of assistant chief officer, he became a full-time author. the first in the Washington Poe series, the Puppet Show, won the 2019 CWA Gold Dagger, has sold numerous foreign territories and has been optioned for TV by Studio Lambert.

M.W. Craven has been shortlisted for the Goldsboro Glass Bell Award, an Amazon Reader Award and a Cumbria Life Award. He is also the author of the Avison Fluke novels, Born in a Burial Ground (shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger) and Body Breaker. Black Summer is the second novel in the Washington Poe series.

Follow @MWCravenUK @LittleBrownUK on Twitter, on Facebookon Instagram, on Goodreads,
Visit mwcraven.comBuy Black Summer


About the book
After the Puppet Show, a new storm is coming...
Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath... He's currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.

So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.

Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?
And then Elizabeth goes missing again - and all paths of investigation lead back to Poe.

Review
The first chapter will remain with me for a long time. It takes an excellent author to write something that is simultaneously innocent and the most menacing thing I have read in a long time. I just can't get the birds out of my head - the description of the scene and the sound I think it must have made.

I'm sending curses to Craven, because I just can't lose the imagery.

Washington Poe is called in to confirm the details of a gruesome past case. A celebrity chef killed his own daughter, and despite there being no body, he was convicted of her murder. But Elizabeth is back and she is very much alive and kicking, which means Poe made the kind of mistake that ends careers. It also means a a psychopath will soon be walking the streets again.

Poe goes over every single step, especially the blood evidence, to find some kind of loophole that will explain how this was able to happen. He, and others, question his investigation and whether he neglected the truth in favour of a fast solution. Then Elizabeth goes missing once again and the shadow of suspicion falls on Poe.

It's a psychological thriller, a police procedural with the vibe of the macabre, which is drawn from a deep well of darkness. The Puppet Show was good, but this second book in the Washington Poe series is even better. Craven is cementing his mark in the world of crime writers.

I really enjoyed the read and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. Craven has this knack for creating memorable characters that readers connect with - Tilly for instance - and writing his crime with a hint of horror, a dollop of suspense and a spoonful of noir. It's a dark, riveting read - what can I say it's Cravenesque.

Buy Black Summer (Washington Poe #2) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Constable - Little Brown Books UK pub date Paperback 12 Dec. 2019 - £7.99. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven

Friday, 6 December 2019

#BlogTour A Song for Bill Robinson by C. E. Atkins


Today it's my turn on the Blog Blitz for A Song for Bill Robinson by C. E. Atkins.
About the Author
Chantelle Atkins was born and raised in Dorset, England and still resides there now with her husband, four children and multiple pets. She is addicted to reading, writing and music and writes for both the young adult and adult genres. Her fiction is described as gritty, edgy and compelling. Her debut Young Adult novel The Mess Of Me deals with eating disorders, self-harm, fractured families and first love.

Her second novel, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side follows the musical journey of a young boy attempting to escape his brutal home life and has now been developed into a 6 book series. She is also the author of This Is Nowhere and award-winning dystopian, The Tree Of Rebels, plus a collection of short stories related to her novels called Bird People and Other Stories. The award-winning Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature was released through Pict Publishing in October 2018. Her next YA novel A Song For Bill Robinson will be released in December 2019. Chantelle has had multiple articles about writing published by Author's Publish magazine.


About the book
Tensions are building on the notorious Holds End estate.
The local community centre is fighting for survival and the murder of 15-year-old Lewis Matthews remains unsolved…

Wannabe teenage singer, Bill Robinson, just got out of hospital after surviving a vicious attack. He thinks he knows who attacked him…and why. When a violent feud escalates between him and local thug Charlie McDonnal, Bill vows to find the killer and help save the community centre by taking part in the local singing contest.

How can music bring a shattered community together? And can Bill keep his own demons at bay long enough to win the singing contest and find out who killed Lewis Matthews? 

Review
There are lot of things going on in this young adult story, whether it be homophobia, knife violence, working through trauma after a vicious attack or living in an economically poor area. When you combine all of these aspects they become a recipe for disruption, division and disaster.

It starts with Bill being released from hospital after a particularly violent attack by persons unknown. Bill has his suspicions though. He believes a local thug called Charlie is behind the attack, which is confirmed as far as he is concerned when he watches a video of the attack. Perhaps he is also responsible for the death of a local lad, an as yet unsolved crime.

His suspicions lead to an ever growing conflict between the two of them, which culminates in a nasty tit for tat between the young men. Other people get dragged into the mind games and there are lasting consequences for both families.

The author describes quite well how the need to block out and dull the pain begins with a can of alcohol here and there. As the anxiety and need to forget grows the use of alcohol becomes more frequent, thereby demonstrating how the descent into alcoholism begins for so many people.

It's a YA urban crime story and it's also a story about coming-of-age. Atkins doesn't let her main character be dictated by labels and demonstrates what sexual fluidity looks like when it isn't defined by society for a young person. The story is very on point in regards to sexuality, knife violence and abuse issues in younger generations in our day and age.

Buy A Song for Bill Robinson (Holds End #1) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Pict Publishing; pub date December 6, 2019. Buy at Amazon com.