Saturday, 16 June 2018

#BlogTour A Sacred Storm by Theodore Brun

I do love a bit of well-written historical fiction, so it is an absolute delight to take part in the BlogTour for A Sacred Storm by Theodore Brun. It's the second part in the fantastic The Wanderer Chronicles by Brun. If you haven't read the first part A Mighty Dawn yet, I highly recommend you do. This series is historical fiction par excellence.

About the Author
Theodore Brun studied Dark Age archaeology at Cambridge, where he graduated with a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology and an MPhil in History.  He also rowed in the Boat Race for the university.  Professionally, Theodore qualified and worked as an arbitration lawyer, in London, Moscow, Paris and finally Hong Kong.  In 2010, he quit his job in Hong Kong and cycled 10,000 miles across the whole of Asia and Europe (crossing 20 countries) to his home in Norfolk. Theodore is a third generation Viking immigrant - his Danish grandfather having settled in England in 1932. He is married and divides his time between London and Norfolk. A Sacred Storm is his second novel.
Follow @theodorebrun @CorvusBooks
Buy A Sacred Storm

About the book
8th Century Sweden: Erlan Aurvandil, a Viking outlander, has pledged his sword to Sviggar Ivarsson, King of the Sveärs, and sworn enemy of the Danish King Harald Wartooth. But Wartooth, hungry for power, is stirring violence in the borderlands. As the fires of this ancient feud are reignited Erlan is bound by honour and oath to stand with King Sviggar.

But, unbeknownst to the old King, his daughter, Princess Lilla, has fallen under Erlan’s spell. As the armies gather Erlan and Lilla must choose between their duty to Sviggar and their love for each other.
Blooded young, betrayed often, Erlan is no stranger to battle. And hidden in the shadows, there are always those determined to bring about the maelstrom of war…

This is the second book in The Wanderer Chronicles series, and although A Sacred Storm can be read as a standalone novel, I would recommend reading the first part A Mighty Dawn. You don't need it to catch up on the story, but you're missing out on one heck of a read.

This book takes place in 8th century Sweden and features Erlan Aurvandil as the somewhat unwitting accidental main character. He is favoured by King Sviggar for saving his daughter, however he is ridiculed and hated in equal measures for being an outsider and a cripple. What is more worrying is the fact he has caught the eye of the queen, a woman who will do anything to get what she wants. A woman with ancient skills and a taste for violence, blood and pain. Saldas is certainly a force to be reckoned with, as she moves her pieces strategically across the board of this game of war.

I liked the fact Erlan isn't your typical vision of brawn, beauty and perfection. He keeps his tragic past to himself, and is used to being the focus of negative attention. The only chinks in his armour are his almost fatherly affection for Kai and his bond with Lilla.

His confusion when it comes to lust, love and physical attraction is right on the money. More in keeping with a young man with a weakness for a pretty woman and pumped up with battle fuelled adrenaline, as opposed to a lovesick puppy.

Be prepared for murders, false accusations, the questioning of allegiances and for oaths to be broken in this fast-paced brutal story. Reading this makes you wonder how any people were left at all in the Scandinavian countries. Talk about bloodthirsty and vicious, but hey it does make for a fantastic story.

This an excellent piece of historical fiction. It is filled with betrayal, intrigue, passion and savage battle scenes. Brun plots with precision, and that meticulous plotting is strengthened by the riveting characters and on point dialogues. It's an outstanding read.

Buy A Sacred Storm at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Kindle pub date 7 June 2018 Hardcover pub date 7 June 2018
Buy A Mighty Dawn (The Wanderer Chronicles #1)

Friday, 15 June 2018

#BlogTour Her Mother's Secret by Rosanna Ley

Today it is a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Her Mother's Secret by Rosanna Ley.  It is a thoughtful story with vivid imagery and a smorgasbord of emotions. The characters are realistic and the situations evoke empathy.

About the Author
Rosanna Ley has had six novels published by Quercus Books. She has worked as a creative writing tutor for many years and has written articles and stories for a number of national magazines. Her writing holidays and retreats take place in stunning locations in Spain and Italy. When she is not travelling, Rosanna lives in West Dorset by the sea.
Follow @RosannaLey @QuercusBooks
Buy Her Mother's Secret

About the book
Escape to the heart of enchanting Brittany with the bestselling author of The Villa and The Little Theatre by the Sea. The perfect treat for fans of Santa Montefiore and Veronica Henry.

For many years Colette has avoided returning to her homeland - the magical island of Belle-Île-en-Mer in Southern Brittany - afraid to confront the painful memories she left behind. She is living on the Cornish coast when she hears about her mother Thea's failing health and realises that the time has come for her to go home. But can Colette ever forgive Thea for what she has done?

Despite Colette's wariness, romantic Belle-Île still fascinates her. She takes on the running of her mother's flower shop and makes friends with Élodie from the Old Lighthouse where Thea once worked as a nanny and with the enigmatic Étienne who shares Colette's mixed feelings about the island. As Thea opens up to her for the first time, Colette finds herself softening and being drawn back into the landscape of her past. But can Belle-Île also be a part of her future?
The ghosts of that past still linger. What happened all those years ago and how did it cause the rift between mother and daughter? It becomes clear that the beauty of Belle-Île hides a devastating family secret - one that Colette is determined to unravel at any cost.

Secrets, everyone has them, but how they impact your life or psyche really depends on the secret and how much you think revealing it will change your life. I think the same applies to this story. Over time the importance of keeping certain things hidden has grown into a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. Pride, emotions and fear of rejection makes it impossible to rectify mistakes of the past.

Colette is called back to the place she once called home, to the bedside of her dying mother. Saying goodbye makes her re-evaluate her own life and relationships. It also throws up some conflicts and unanswered questions from her mother's own past. Not everything is as black and white as Colette always presumed it to be.

One of the main themes of this book is being or feeling at home somewhere. Having roots and experiencing a sense of belonging or connection to a particular place. This is especially the case for people who have parents with different nationalities, people who move around a lot as children or spend their childhood in one country and the rest of their lives in another one.

It is a thoughtful story with vivid imagery and a smorgasbord of emotions. The characters are realistic and the situations evoke empathy. The descriptions of the surroundings elicit this feeling of serenity, awe-inspiring beauty and nostalgia. Not in a sense that the reader may have been there, but in a way that makes us recall our own experiences of taking in the same kind of moments in time.

Ley has created a warm and heartfelt read, despite all the secrets and accusations. It makes us aware that our parents have other identities besides that of a parent. They were lovers, friends, daughters and sons, before they became the hopefully nurturing parent. They often have a lifetime of hidden encounters and secrets tucked away inside them. I think it is safe to say we never know someone completely. We only know what they want us to see and hear.

The author plays with the emotional connections we have with each other and our loved ones, but she does so with sensitivity and compassion. I was impressed by the way she expressed the confusion one can have when it comes to feeling at home somewhere. It's like an inner siren song, sung only for that individual, and although others hear their own they can never completely comprehend what someone else hears and feels inside.

Buy Her Mother's Secret at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Paperback pub date 14 June 2018 Kindle pub date 8 March 2018

Thursday, 14 June 2018

#BlogTour The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James

Welcome to the BlogTour for The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James. It has a real feel of the old classics. Echoes of Rebecca and Jane Eyre can be heard in the hallways. Enjoy this Gothic Horror come Ghost story featuring a vengeful woman, who influences the lives of her enemy for years after her demise.

About the Author
Rebecca James was born in 1983. She worked in publishing for several years before leaving to write full-time, and is now the author of eight previous novels written under a pseudonym. Her favourite things are autumn walks, Argentinean red wine and curling up in the winter with a good old-fashioned ghost story. She lives in Bristol with her husband and two daughters.
Follow @HQStories

About the book
'You’ll be the woman of this house, next, miss. And you’ll like it.’

1947 - Governess Alice Miller loves Winterbourne the moment she sees it. Towering over the Cornish cliffs, its dark corners and tall turrets promise that, if Alice can hide from her ghosts anywhere, it’s here. And who better to play hide and seek with than twins Constance and Edmund? Angelic and motherless, they are perfect little companions.

2018 - Adopted at birth, Rachel’s roots are a mystery. So, when a letter brings news of the death of an unknown relative, Constance de Grey, Rachel travels to Cornwall, vowing to uncover her past.

With each new arrival, something in Winterbourne stirs. It’s hiding in the paintings. It’s sitting on the stairs. - It’s waiting in a mirror, behind a locked door.

The story has echoes of the classics, it has a distinct feel of Rebecca and Jane Eyre, which is especially evident in the writing and the first few chapters.

The story ventures into three periods in time beginning with the woman who goes on to influence the paths of quite a few women in Winterbourne, and not in a good way. Her presence is felt in the area and in the house. A nefarious essence lurking in every corner, every swirl of mist and each drop of water in the cold murky sea.

Rachel inherits the decrepit old mansion, and finds herself drawn into the mysteries of the past during her attempts to trace her real parentage. She also wants to know why her mother gave her up for adoption. The answers she finds are completely unexpected, and she is really surprised by how drawn she is to the house and the local people.

She finds evidence of a governess called Alice, who used to live there in the late 40s. She left under a cloud of mystery and scandal. It seems as though she was one in a series of women with a tragic connection to Winterbourne and the family de Grey.

It has a haunting gothic vibe and is infused with a creepy sense of foreboding. James pulls the readers, and some of the characters, along on kind of a red herring trail with the majority believing Laura is controlling the house. The truth is far more sinister.

The author creates an eery atmosphere which seeps through the characters, the house and the surrounding area, almost like a dark cloud of evil. Even when it seems as if the characters are finally getting the upper-hand or moving on, something or someone puts them back in their place. Once a Winterbourner always a Winterbourner.

James has created a ghostly read with a vengeful presence controlling the narrative, it is a dark and compelling read.

Buy The Woman in the Mirror at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Kindle pub date 14 June 2018  Paperback pub date 14 June 2018
Publisher: HQ - Harper Collins UK

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

#BlogTour Big Sister by Gunnar Staalesen

It's an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Big Sister, which is book 20 in the Varg Veum series by Gunnar Staalesen (translation Don Bartlett). It is Nordic Noir meets modern day crime, and it changes the perception of Scandinavian countries. Forget the image of the easygoing and law-abiding people, immerse yourself in the darker side of the Nordic people.

About the Author
Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over five million copies.

Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim, and a further series is being filmed now. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour) and the Petrona Award, and been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger, lives in Bergen with his wife.
Follow @OrendaBooks
Translation by Don Bartlett
Buy Big Sister

About the book
PI Varg Veum receives a surprise visit in his office from a woman who introduces herself as his half-sister, and she has a job for him. Her god-daughter, a nineteen-year-old trainee nurse from Haugesund, moved from her bedsit in Bergen two weeks ago. Since then no one has heard anything from her. She didn’t leave an address. She doesn’t answer her phone. And the police refuse to take her case seriously.

Veum’s investigation uncovers a series of carefully covered-up crimes and pent-up hatreds, and the trail leads to a gang of extreme bikers and to a shadowy group, whose dark actions are hidden by the
anonymity of the Internet. And then things get personal…

Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Big Sister reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the
world’s foremost thriller writers.

Varg seemed a little less cantankerous in this book and a lot more amicable. I suppose discovering that the mother you thought you knew isn't the woman everyone else remembers is a bit of a surprise, and finding out you have a half-sister to boot is a wee bit of a shock.

Norma turns up out of the blue to tell him they are related and to ask Varg whether he will look for her missing god-daughter Emma. He instinctively feels compelled to help, despite the fact his sister is vague and secretive about the facts concerning Emma and her disappearance.

Once again Varg finds himself embroiled in the dangerous world of criminal biker gangs. The only difference this time is the fact a crime committed many decades ago becomes the catalyst in this violent and brutal storyline, at the same time it is also a very emotional one.

Staalesen subtly highlights the often fragile relationships between family members and the instinctual call of blood. Can a stranger become more than that within a short period of time just because they share DNA or a blood relationship with you? The revelation of Norma and her secret existence makes Varg wonder about his own truth, which is further amplified when a cousin suggests his own past may not be as straightforward as he was led to believe.

All the revelations make him even more determined to find the young girl noone seems to be looking for. She has simply slid off the radar and now the only person trying to find her is Varg, and he wouldn't be the 'doesn't give a hoot' kind of guy readers have come to appreciate if he didn't accidentally stumble upon more nefarious crimes during the execution of his job.

Staalesen presents us with a softer and more reflective Varg this time. Don't get me wrong, he still portrays him as a person possessed when it comes to sniffing out the truth and getting justice for victims, but this time he is less grumpy and sarcastic about it all.

It is Nordic Noir meets modern day crime, and it changes the perception of Scandinavian countries a wee bit. Forget the image of the easygoing and law-abiding people, immerse yourself in the darker side of the Nordic people. It's emotional without being soppy, whilst taking the reader on an action packed ride. The author doesn't placate the reader with happy endings, instead he forces them to stare into the face of reality.

Buy Big Sister at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Paperback pub date 20 June 2018
Publisher Orenda books

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Her Dirty Little Secret by J.C. Harroway

Her Dirty Little Secret is the second book by J.C. Harroway for the shiny new Mills & Boon DARE imprint, by the way the new covers are stunning.

Harley is held back by her insecurities and fears. She thinks everyone sees her through the same lens as her father, who thinks she is lazy, stupid and not exactly a great representation of their talented family.

She struggles with her dyslexia on a daily basis, because her parent always makes her feel inferior and different.

When her childhood crush strolls back into her life she also believes he judges her for the same reasons. Every sentence and thought is permeated with the fear of failure, especially when it comes to doing business. Harley is eager to establish her own business reputation, so Jack is both an annoying and simultaneously very appealing distraction.

Harroway turns up the heat to scorching in this wee romantic delight of a story. The two main characters spend quite a lot of time doing the horizontal tango and quite a number of other suave bedroom moves. Be prepared for breathless and passionate moments with these very feisty characters.

This author combines serious topics with subtle eroticism and fiery romances. It's a very readable combination, and puts the zest in the Dare series.

Connect with J.C. Harroway on
Twitter @jcharroway
Instagram @jcharroway
Facebook JCHarroway
Goodreads J.C. Harroway

Buy Her Dirty Little Secret at Amazon Uk, Mills & Boon, IBook or Google

Read A Week to be Wild by J.C. Harroway

#BlogTour A Fatal Obsession by Faith Martin

Today it is my turn on the BlogTour A Fatal Obsession by Faith Martin. It has the charm of a popular television police procedural combined with the plotting of an old master of crime.

About the Author
Faith Martin is an English author who was born in Oxford. She lives in an Oxfordshire village. She is best known for her popular detective series, starring Detective Inspector (DI) Hillary Greene. She began her writing career as Maxine Barry. She also writes under the pen names, Joyce Cato and Jessie Daniels.

Follow @FaithMartin_Nov @HQDigitalUk @HQStories
Buy A Fatal Obsession

About the book
The start of a brand new series from the global bestselling author of the DI Hillary Greene series.
Oxford, 1960. There's a murderer on the loose and two unlikely heroes are poised to solve the case.

Meet Probationary WPC Trudy Loveday – smart, enthusiastic and always underestimated. In the hope of getting her out of the way, Trudy’s senior officer assigns her to help coroner Clement Ryder as he re-opens the case of a young woman's death. She can't believe her luck – she is actually going to be working on a real murder case.

Meanwhile, the rest of the police force are busy investigating a series of threats and murders in the local community, and Clement can't help but feel it's all linked. As Trudy and Clement form an unlikely partnership, are they going to be the ones to solve these crimes before the murderer strikes again?

If you took a young Jane Tennison and a grumpy Judge John Deed and threw them in a police procedural together, then you would get the equivalent of Ryder and Loveday. Trudy is one of the first WPC in the force, which means having to endure constant put-downs, sexism and just an overall attitude of not being wanted.

The majority of her male colleagues think women are too weak and stupid to be able to work as a police officer. More often than not she finds herself delegated to the role of tea and coffee lady, and never receives any recognition for the actual police work she does.

Trudy jumps at the chance to work with Clement Ryder, a coroner with a keen nose for liars and hidden crimes. When a man, with a reputation to lose, receives threats that turn into actual crimes it reawakens the interest Clement had in an old case. He uses Trudy to do his digging, and she ends up creating a rockslide.

Martin writes a pithy plot with characters readers will want to revisit. I particularly enjoyed the way Martin highlights the daily chauvinism and major obstacles Trudy has to overcome to be taken seriously, and to be seen as equal member of the police force.

In the 21st century it's hard for women who are lucky enough not to have the same obstacles, to be able to fathom how difficult it must have been over half a century ago for women entering male dominated careers. Not that there isn't still a level of inequality or sexism in our day and age, but it's nothing compared to then. Women like Trudy paved the path for others to walk upon.

The author keeps it simple, and yet simultaneously intriguing with a flair of a popular television police procedural. It's about good old footwork, questioning and overlooked evidence. Where Ryder and Loveday are concerned it's all about the niggle of doubt, the flicker of suspicion, and of course the ability to prove your theory. No matter how outlandish it may seem.

Buy A Fatal Obsession at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Kindle pub date 11 June 2018 Paperback pub date 4 July 2018
Publisher: HQ Digital, Harper Collins UK

Monday, 11 June 2018

#BlogTour Into the Summerland by Julian Cundy

Today it's my pleasure to kick off the BlogTour for Into the Summerland by Julian Cundy. It's a short and thoughtful piece of fiction. Into the Summerland is speculative, spiritual and perhaps even motivational at times.

About the Author
Living in Westcliff-on-Sea Essex, Julian Cundy is a British adventurer, dedicated day dreamer, wordsmith and observer of life and all its absurdities. He is a recognisable character in his home town thanks to his eye-catching outfits comprising fine hats, cravats, tails and spats.
Follow @CundyJulian and @Authoright on Twitter
Follow JulianCundy on Instagram
Connect with RealJulianCundy on Facebook or on YouTube
Buy Into the Summerland

About the book 
The eternal question - what happens when we die? Is there a consequence from how we lived? Is there a reckoning?

Henry Ashton's turbulent life is at an end. As he moves on from this world, he discovers how elusive the final peace can be.With a spirit companion by his side, Henry learns there can be no peace without reconciliation, no rest without acceptance. He must walk his own path to absolution.

"For some souls the transition from mortal life to eternal peace is an easy one, soon completed. For others, who have been troubled in their life or who cannot reconcile the events and their part in them, the journey is longer...and harder. But every soul will find its rest."
I wonder how many of us would choose to relive both the highlights and the lowest points in our lives, even after death and as a last task before passing on to the next level. Assuming there is one to pass on or over to in the first place, but I suppose that depends on each individuals faith, belief or complete lack of either.

In this novella length story the reader revisits the past with the newly departed Henry, who has to have closure with all the emotionally charged moments of his life in an attempt to find peace in himself , his actions and decisions. This session, which appears to be endless and without any time constraints, is a challenge he needs to succeed at in order to move on.

It is a lesson in reflection and speaks to the walls we build inside our minds and hearts to seal off the most painful memories. Everyone makes mistakes, and there are no do-overs in life. We aren't born with a manual on how to take the best path in each situation.

It is a thoughtful piece of fiction. I suppose if seen from a more psychoanalytical perspective one could also view Chuttlewizz as the conscience urging Henry to look back upon his life and make peace with his internal fears, anger and also the small pockets of joy and tranquillity. He doesn't believe he deserves the latter and regrets the former.

Although this can be perceived as a spiritual story, it is quite simply a natural progression towards the end of a life. The older we get the more we tend to dwell on the paths taken, the mistakes we made and any possible regrets we may have. It's interesting how we tend to focus on the negative rather than reminisce about the positive and happy times.

What I really liked was the inference or premise that after death our souls need to be whole again before they can be released. The notion that we need to fix the holes in our souls to be able to move on and rest in peace. Perhaps we shouldn't wait until our last breath to do so.

It is speculative, spiritual and perhaps even motivational at times.

Buy Into the Summerland at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Paperback edition Kindle edition
Publisher: Little Bang Publishing
Length 77 pages

Follow the Tour:
Monday 11th June Cheryl M-M’s Book Blog
Tuesday 12th June Wrong Side of Forty
Wednesday 13th June Spiritual Media Blog
Thursday 14th June Abooktasia
Friday 15th June Portable Magic
Monday 18th June Big Book Little Book
Tuesday 19th June Belleandthenovel
Wednesday 20th June A Daydreamer’s Thoughts
Thursday 21st June Portable Magic
Saturday 23rd June Cupcake Mumma