Monday, 24 December 2018

When All is Said by Anne Griffin


In its own solitary way this book is a thing of beauty and I hope it gets a nod next year when it's time for handing out awards and being listed on distinguished and best books lists. It's a story of sorrow, vengeance, loneliness, abuse and loss.

The story is narrated by the main character, Maurice Hannigan, as he tells the tale of his life and how he became the man he is and the people who helped him become that man. Now as an old man he looks back upon mistakes, the events that formed his character and some of his regrets. Five people, five toasts and his entire life in one evening.

The natural inclination of man or woman is to look back upon their lives as they grow older, especially if they are nearing the end of their time. The author really captures this nostalgic mood and how conflicted Hannigan feels about certain situations and people in his life.

One of the more poignant moments is when Hannigan has no choice but to put himself in the shoes of the man he has hated his whole life. Not that it makes that man less of a muppet, but it does give Hannigan a different perspective on certain behaviour and events he had to endure. Sometimes we only see one side of the story, which is often coloured by our own frame of reference and emotional involvement.

Griffin has a natural flair for writing and telling a story. With the most basic of recipes, one man and his drink of choice, just his voice and his memories - the author gives us a deep well of emotions, caustic commentary and breathtaking honesty. The reader lifts their drink and toasts alongside Hannigan, as he contemplates and reminisces the many decades of calculated moves. It's a subtle and spectacular read.

Buy When All is Said at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Sceptre (pub. date 24 Jan. 2019), imprint of Hodder & Stoughton.

Follow @AnneGriffin_  @SceptreBooks
Visit annegriffinwriter.com


Sunday, 23 December 2018

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan


The fact Morgan has stepped into more serious women's fiction is evident in this novel. It isn't just a feel good story for Christmas, it's emotional, deep and meaningful. The author explores the relationships between siblings, as children and as adults, and the family structure. In this case there is also the question of what constitutes being a mother or father.

You don't need to give birth to a child to be a parent to one. Biology is only the basis for our genetic markers, the major input when it comes to nurture, as opposed to nature, is what parenting or caregivers give us as we grow from infancy to adulthood. Stewart and Suzanne shape the girls for the majority of their lives, despite having spent their early years with their birth parents.

The death of their parents has left them all traumatised and Suzanne is suffering from what is probably PTSD. Posy, Hannah and Beth all deal with the past in their own ways. Beth is overprotective, Hannah keeps herself emotionally distant from everyone, and Posy believes she has to make other people happy first before herself.

This story is about these women, these sisters finding themselves, understanding the influence their past has had on them and learning to move forward. It's about the fragile and tenacious relationships between siblings. Love, jealousy, misconceptions and not understanding the adult the child has grown into.

It's funny, emotional and heart-warming. It's quite simply Morgan at her best, which guarantees an excellent read.

Buy The Christmas Sisters at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Follow @SarahMorgan_ @HQStories @HarperCollinsUK on Twitter, on Facebook www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahMorgan
Visit sarahmorgan.com

Read my reviews of and all about: How to Keep a SecretHoliday in the Hamptons (From Manhattan with Love #5)New York Actually (From Manhattan with Love #4)Miracle on 5th Avenue (From Manhattan with Love #3)Sunset in Central Park (From Manhattan with Love #2)Sleepless in Manhattan (From Manhattan with Love #1)Christmas Ever AfterFirst Time in ForeverMaybe This ChristmasSuddenly Last Summer or The Notting Hill Diaries by Sarah Morgan.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

The Woman in the Dark by Vanessa Savage


Savage portrays the isolation of mental health in the middle of a family structure, and the blame game which often ensues. The 'it's your fault because, how could you do this or that' ect ect blame game. It's easy to point a finger in the direction of the most vulnerable person in the room instead of taking a closer look at our own faults and mistakes. It's also easier than trying comprehend why someone would try to hurt themselves.

In a more understanding environment Sarah would be given support to deal with her grief after the death of her mother. Instead she has to deal with constant jibes, insults and a lack of respect from her children and her husband Patrick.

Moving to a new town and into Patrick's old family home should alleviate some of the pressure of Sarah's issues, according to her husband. If it wasn't for the fact that the house is renowned for being the scene of a horrific crime, so it's rumoured to be filled with ghosts and evil spirits, it would be perfect. Not exactly the right setting for a new start.

The reality is, Sarah has just taken a step into a dangerous situation, however she isn't sure whether it is paranoia, her illness or something more sinister afoot. Her friends and family think she is slowly losing the plot, as the walls start to close in on her and her secrets.

There is no denying that the author knows how to keep the tension as taught as a bowstring, and also keep the reader looking under every stone and behind every corner. I particularly enjoyed the way she shows how outsiders are often unable to pinpoint and recognise abusive behaviour, even when it is happening right in front of them. It doesn't always have to be a punch in the face or a hidden bruise. Sometimes it is something subtle which may make you feel slightly uncomfortable.

It's a riveting whirlwind of darkness and suspicion with plenty of twists and turns to keep readers on their toes. You might not know who to trust, but you will definitely know who to dislike.

Buy/Pre-order The Woman in the Dark at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Sphere (pub. date 10 Jan. 2019) Sphere is an imprint of Little, Brown book group.
Follow @VvSavage

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

The Binding by Bridget Collins


This is the kind of story that captures the imagination and gives it a life of its own. I absolutely adored the idea of the bookbinders and their special powers. In fact when you think about the idea aren't authors the same kind of bookbinders? Putting pen to paper to transcribe stories and memories, so hungry readers can satisfy their cravings.

I was mesmerised by the idea of being able to take someone's memories and keep them locked in a book, thereby extracting them forever from the giver. Also by the idea that books are something evil, forbidden, perhaps even salacious. Imagine if someone had the ability to take away your most awful memory, but of course it also means they would be able to take the most beloved of memories also.

Emmett feels shocked and betrayed when his parents pack him off to work with the old woman everyone calls a witch. His inability to help out on his parents farm has become an obstacle between himself, his parents and his sister. Being unable to pull his weight makes him just another unhelpful mouth to feed, but surely getting rid of him is a little heartless and extreme.

Seredith is an eccentric employer. She believes in the old ways, and that the moral compass of a binder should come before making any profit. She also believes Emmett needs the right supervision and patience to learn how to understand and control his potential. Unfortunately it might mean he has to confront his demons and the secrets swirling in his head.

I'll admit I was surprised when the story veered off into one of a forbidden love. More so because I really wanted Collins to explore the magic of the bookbinding a little more. It's such a wonderfully unique idea I hope the author brings us another novel with a focus on this aspect of the story or a sequel to this one. Saying that, it is also a book which has the ability to remain a staunch solitary read.

The combination of fantasy, historical, speculative fiction and the unique story of love creates a remarkable read. It's enchanting, heart-wrenching and magical. Collins has outdone herself and I applaud her creativity.

Buy/Pre-order The Binding at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Kindle pub. date 7 Jan 2018, Hardcover pub.date 10 Jan 2018. Publisher: The Borough Press (@BoroughPress) imprint of HarperCollins

Follow @Br1dgetCollins on Twitter, Visit thebindingbook.com


Sunday, 16 December 2018

#BlogTour The Rumour by Lesley Kara


Today it is my turn on the BlogTour The Rumour by Lesley Kara. Kara gives the reader a run for their money with this exceptionally well-plotted read.


About the Author
Lesley Kara is an alumna of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course. She completed an English
degree and PGCE at Greenwich University, having previously worked as a nurse and a secretary,
and then became a lecturer and manager in Further Education. Lesley has relocated to a small town
on the North Essex coast, where she is currently working on her second novel.

Follow @LesleyKara @TransworldBooks on Twitter, on Instagram on Facebook
Visit lesleykara.com
Buy The Rumour


About the book
One casual remark. One whispered confidence.
That’s all it takes to set the wheels in motion and change the course of a life.
Imagine innocently passing on a rumour you’ve heard, a snippet of information, a story someone told you one morning … You don’t realise that this particular rumour isn’t just idle gossip – it is something far more dangerous. And once it’s out there, there’s no getting it back. You’re about to regret the day you ever said a word...

This is what happens to Joanna, single mother, part time estate agent when she hears a rumour that a
notorious child killer is living in a safe house in her home town. Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death 47 years ago. No photos of her exist since her release from prison as a young woman. Joanna passes this rumour on without realising the repercussions.

The Rumour shows how easily secrets and lies and whispers can poison a small community. Tongues wag in the street, at the school gates, in book clubs, at children’s birthday parties – and whilst some people realise it needs to be stopped, others are fanning the flames... everyone you meet sparks suspicion. This is not a ‘whodunnit’, more of a which of your neighbours is it?

Review
Joanna inadvertently becomes one of the first of a long domino wall when she repeats a rumour in an attempt to fit in with her peers and neighbours. She has no idea what ramifications her loose mouth will have, especially when it comes to her own safety and that of her child.

In a small village or town everyone knows everyone else's business and rumours can take on a life of their own. When Joanne overhears someone mentioning the fact that the notorious Sally McGowan, a ten-year-old who killed a child nearly 50 years ago, may be living in their town, she doesn't think twice about using the juicy gossip to ingratiate herself with her new acquaintances.

Looking at a horrific crime from the outside is easy, especially when it comes to making snap judgements and having an opinion. The media tends to gaslight and sensationalize in an attempt to get more readers. A few months ago I moved from the outside looking in to being in the midst of one of these situations, and now I see things a lot differently.

One of the points Kara is trying to make is that although in a small minority of cases a child who kills is also a psychopath, sociopath or too damaged by abuse or trauma to be helped, the majority can be rehabilitated.

What happens when the killers try to live a normal life after being released, when they are hunted by the media and overzealous vigilantes. Don't they have the right to try and live their lives after fulfilling their debt to society via the prison system? Does it depend on the crime, the intent during the crime or the age of the victim?

The other side of the coin is the way the victim's family feels about the crime. It isn't unusual to want revenge and be filled with a longing for vengeance. The fact that their child can never grow up, have children or build a life is seen in direct comparison to the perpetrator who will one day walk the streets again, and able to do all the aforementioned. Even a life sentence doesn't mean life. When a child kills they are kept in secure environments for under-aged criminals, and then usually released at the age of 21.

I really enjoyed this book, perhaps more so because it shines a light on so many underlying issues surrounding children who kill, the way the media influences our society and the danger of Chinese whispers. By putting all of these together with a captivating plot and intriguing characters the author creates the right recipe for a perfect story. Everyone is nearly always the right fit when it comes to being the suspect, and Kara gives the reader a run for their money with this exceptionally well-plotted read.

Buy The Rumour on Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Buy The Rumour at Amazon Com

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

#BlogTour All Wrapped Up in You by Sun Chara


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour All Wrapped Up in You by Sun Chara. She puts a modern twist on an age-old recipe for racing hearts and romantic interludes.

Enter the Giveaway below to – Win a $20 Amazon Gift card and an e-copy of All Wrapped Up In You (Open Internationally) 


All about the Author
Sun Chara, an Amazon top 100 bestseller, writes sexy, hip ‘n fun contemporary romance, and romantic comedies w/a divine twist for HarperImpulse. She makes her home in southern California, and has appeared on stage/film to rave reviews in How the Other Half Loves, General Hospital, and McGee and Me. She has a Masters Degree in Education and membership in SAG/AFTRA and Romance Writers of America. Sipping Frappuccinos topped with whipped cream/sprinkles, and dancing on the beach make everyday a celebration!

Follow @sunchara3 and @HarperImpulse on Twitter
Or connect with suncharaauthorpage on Facebook
Buy All Wrapped Up in You


About the book
Their marriage hangs in the balance, but on this wind battered Christmas Eve, a miracle is born…
When Ellie hooked up with world renowned neurosurgeon, Peter Medeci, aka 'Prince Charming’, she thought her dreams had come true. But the demands of being the model wife to his career triggers a mutiny within her and she decides to ditch the 'royal' life until he sees her as more than his bedroom playmate.

Review
This is a novella length romantic story. A tidbit of spicy love just in time for the holidays.
Ellie has decided to spend time finding herself after losing any sight of her old persona in the midst of her marriage to Peter. She can no longer see beyond the wealthy lifestyle, the charade of said lifestyle comes with so much pressure, and the two of them seem to be two ships passing each other in the night.

Where is the love they once shared? Not the breathtaking erotic moments of thrill or the lust that fills her from top to bottom when she sees Peter. No, where is the compassion and friendship they once shared. Ellie is willing to live like a matchstick girl until she gets the answers she needs.

What I will say is that it is always worth picking up a full-length novel by Chara. This short interlude does not give her creativity, storytelling and ability to create the kind of bodice-ripping characters a lot of readers enjoy, any justice at all. It is too short to be able to give Ellie, Peter or their relationship the depth they deserve.

Chara, and her writing, always remind me of the popular romance novels of the 80s and early 90s. Her style, the plots and her characters all have this vibe the readers used to hunger for, which is why the books were so popular at the time. She puts a modern twist on an age-old recipe for racing hearts and romantic interludes.

Buy All Wrapped Up In You at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
All Wrapped Up in You at Amazon com
Read  my review of Greek Millionaire, Unruly Wife by Sun Chara


Enter the Giveaway below to – Win a $20 Amazon Gift card and an e-copy of All Wrapped Up In You (Open Internationally) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway *Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.*

Monday, 10 December 2018

#BlogTour Kosmos by Adrian Laing


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Kosmos by Adrian Laing. Laing mixes folklore, magic and the modern legal system to create a quirky courtroom story with an underlying moral core.

About the Author
Adrian Laing was born in Harlow, Essex in 1958 and was educated at Hillhead High School, Glasgow and Exeter University where he studied law, graduating in 1978. Adrian was called to the bar (Inner Temple) in 1979, aged 21. Following a sabbatical in Paris studying with Michel Foucault at the College de France, Adrian undertook a pupillage in chambers and was made a Tenant (2 Pump Court, Inner Temple) practicing at the criminal bar defending and prosecuting in jury trials for seven years.

Leaving the criminal bar in 1987 to pursue more commercial interests, Adrian worked as the Assistant Head of Licensing at the ITC during the Channel 3 franchise process and then as a full-time consultant to the Chief Executive of Thames Television (Richard Dunn), following which Adrian was appointed the Senior Broadcasting Lawyer for the Leeds-based firm of solicitors, Hammond Suddards working in the city of London.

In 1994 Adrian was selected to become the first in-house lawyer at the Murdoch-owned publishing house, HarperCollins, where he held the position of Director of Legal Affairs and Company Secretary till 2001 working with some of the leading authors and agents of the day.

Adrian qualified as a solicitor in 2003 and set up his own legal practice (Laing & Co) for over 10 years acting for a wide range of prestigious business clients and authors. Adrian presented or chaired a leading seminar for The London Book Fair 2003 to 2012.

Adrian Laing is the co-author with his wife (Deborah Fosbrook) of three leading law titles published by Bloomsbury Professional, the author of R.D. Laing: A Life a widely acclaimed biography of his late father, the Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing, and a novel, Rehab Blues.

Adrian has appeared on radio and television many times most notably the BBC documentary ‘Just Another Sinner’ and Saturday Live with James Runchie.

Adrian now lives in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

Buy Kosmos


About the book
Rookie barrister George Winsome, young and arrogant, defends an old boy who thinks he’s Merlin on a manslaughter charge. The riotous trial turns Merlin into a celebrity; money, greed and ambition take hold of George and his partner Heather until the secret of Merlin’s past is revealed as the spirit of Saint Yves intervenes to ensure George and Heather follow their true paths.

‘Kosmos’ is a modern-day jury trial, a feel-good love story and a spiritual journey involving Saint Yves, Nemesis and Merlin.


Review
George Winsome is assigned to represent an old homeless man accused of assault, a man who believes himself to be a great man of power and magic. Merlin thinks the meeting between himself and George is preordained, a way for him to keep the universe on track. Clearly everyone else thinks Merlin is a sandwich short of a picnic and George too big for his boots, which makes them the perfect peculiar couple.

Just based on this scenario it is quite easy to see how the innocent can fall prey to the criminal and/or legal system, and to get lost within misconceptions and misinformation. Aside from that Laing also shines a light on the archaic British legal system, and although everyone is amused by its eccentricities I wonder if they aren't detrimental to the people having to go through said system.

For me the most intriguing aspect of this concept was whether or not we (people) need to believe in the improbable to sustain some semblance of hope in a world filled with uncertainty, fear and violence. To believe in a fictional or mythical character to achieve some sort of comfort in difficult times.

It also steers readers in the direction of accepting an element of peace in a role in life you might not have imagined yourself in, and yet might accidentally fall into. The few that understand that small acts of kindness will exact change, even if only for a few people, which is often more important than a ruthless high-ranking job with plenty of material gains.

Laing mixes folklore, magic and the modern legal system to create a quirky courtroom story with an underlying moral core.

Buy Kosmos at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Buy Kosmos at Amazon com
Publisher: Flame Tree Press, Follow @flametreepress
Sign up to the new Flame Tree Press Newsletter

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

#BlogTour The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour for The Sorows by Jonathan Janz. Janz has a penchant for the unpredictable and the macabre. A perfect combination for a connoisseur and writer of horror.
About the Author
Jonathan Janz is the author of more than a dozen novels and numerous short stories.
His work has been championed by authors like Joe R. Lansdale, Jack Ketchum, and Brian Keene; he has also been lauded by Publishers Weekly, the Library Journal, and the School Library Journal.

His novel Children of the Dark was chosen by Booklist as a Top Ten Horror Book of the Year. Jonathan’s main interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children. You can sign up for his newsletter Shadow World, and you can follow him on:

Follow @JonathanJanz @flametreepress on Twitter,
On Instagram
Visit jonathanjanz.com
Buy The Sorrows


About the book
The Sorrows, an island off the coast of northern California, and its castle have been uninhabited since a series of gruesome murders in 1925. But its owner needs money, so he allows film composers Ben and Eddie and a couple of their female friends to stay a month in Castle Blackwood. Eddie is certain a haunted castle is just the setting Ben needs to find inspiration for a horror film.

But what they find is more horrific than any movie. Something is waiting for them in the castle. A malevolent being has been trapped for nearly a century. And he’s ready to feed.


Review
You get a fair idea of what to expect within the first chapter or so. Okay that's a lie, Janz loves to spring the unexpected on his readers and his poor characters.

I like the idea of the odd codependent relationship between Ben and Eddie. The whole deal with the devil to achieve ultimate success and wealth. The way Eddie is willing to go to such extreme measures to get Ben motivated or rather to get his creative juices flowing, well it borders on negligence. What he perceives to be amusing others would consider to be reckless and dangerous. Not exactly what I would call a great friend.

I'm not sure the group really understands the stress and pain Chris is going through. Life as he knows it is in tatters, and having to deal with a vindictive ex-wife who is alienating their young son from him, is destroying him physically and mentally. It makes Chris a liability and someone who is willing to take a big risk, Not exactly unusual for a gambler, which is how and why he ends up letting the risk craving group enter Castle Blackwood.

If you have read anything by Janz then you will probably be aware that he has a talent for the darkest depths of hell and horror. The Sorrows represents the beginning of his journey, and also shows how much he has honed his craft since then.

Low level male chauvinism and misogyny is alive and well in the men, and the women are objectified. Well, except for evil ex-wife perhaps. The sexual escapades seem more like gratuitous fillers and the horror is on the other end of the extreme.

Saying all that, the talent doesn't go unnoticed and is clearly evident in this first novel. What I really liked, especially at the beginning of the book, was the way Ben and Eddie reacted to each other and the events. It was almost as if Janz wrote each part without either character knowing what the other was going to do, and that surprise comes through bold as brass.

Janz has a penchant for the unpredictable and the macabre. A perfect combination for a connoisseur and writer of horror.

Buy The Sorrows by Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Flame Tree Press, (New edition - 30 Nov. 2018)

Monday, 3 December 2018

#BlogTour Bait, Grist and Security by Mike Hodges


Today it's more than a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Bait, Grist and Security by Mike Hodges, the cult director of Get Carter and Flash Gordon. The stories have a gangster, old-school boys club vibe combined with shock-jock tactics. They shine a light on the corrupt cesspit of the world of influence and money


About the Author
Mike Hodges was born in Bristol, UK. As a television producer in the 1960s, he was invited to join the investigative programme World in Action. This took him to the US, covering the 1964 presidential election, and that same year to the war in Vietnam. He produced and sometimes directed the arts programmes Tempo and New Tempo . He is perhaps best-known for his work in cinema and television, including: Get Carter, Suspect, Rumour, The Manipulators, Pulp, The Terminal Man, Flash Gordon, A Prayer for the Dying, Morons from Outer Space, Florida Straits, Black Rainbow, Croupier, and I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead. He lives in London. This is his first book.
Follow @unbounders (publisher) on Twitter
Buy Bait, Grist and Security


About the book
Three darkly comic noir novellas from the cult director of Get Carter
In ‘Bait’, a slippery PR man, Mark Miles, is unaware he’s being manipulated and dangled as bait
by an investigative reporter until he’s swallowed by a sadistic mind-expanding cult from
America.
In ‘Grist’, the bestselling writer, Maxwell Grist, ruthlessly uses real people as fodder for his
crime novels before finding himself living up to his name and becoming grist for his own
murder.
In ‘Security’, an American movie star, unhappy with the film he’s working on, refuses to leave
his hotel for the studios, while in the corridor outside his luxury suite mayhem and murder take
over.
Review
Bait, Grist and Security are three novellas written by cult director Mike Hodges. It is fair to say that all three stories are an attempt to reveal the worst traits of humans and the failings of society. I think the noir is so dark and dirty that it might be considered crud, either that or sent straight from the depraved bowels of hell.

As a director, Mike Hodges has given us film classics, such as Get Carter and Flash Gordon. I am not sure his writing translates as well as his spectacular talent at envisioning what a film should look like to viewers. Then again perhaps it is just a matter of perspective.

The stories have a gangster, old-school boys club vibe combined with shock-jock tactics. They shine a light on the corrupt cesspit of the world of influence and money. Everything is pretty and polished on the surface, but beneath the shallow exterior lurks something uncomfortable and dark.

The stories are also crude, sexually explicit and often teetering on the border of politically incorrect and absolutely socially unacceptable. The scene with the woman in the field is like something out of the Linda Lovelace (also known as Deep Throat) autobiography, except in her case the bestiality was done unto her by a canine. Then there is the occasional lean towards paedophilia.

It's most certainly going to be a bit of a marmite read, as in not everyone's cup of tea. Hodges plays with the dregs of humanity in a sardonic way, then mixes this tone within the constructs of the individual stories, and then lets them take their course.

Buy Bait, Grist and Security at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Unbound (29 Nov. 2018)

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Into This Wild Abyss by F.J. Newman


This story is a coming-of-age, a realisation of the brutality of war, and the brusque reality of desperation and death. It is a wild excursion into turmoil and destruction, let alone a wild abyss.

To celebrate the publication of Into This Wild Abyss by F.J. Newman you can enter a Giveaway to win a copy of this fabulous fantasy novel. Just comment below this post between the 2nd - 10th of December 2018 to take part. (USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand entries ONLY)
About the Author
F J Newman is a New Zealand bookseller and author. He developed a love of reading from a young age and tried his hand at his first book while in high school. Hopefully that will never see the light of day.

Follow @f_j_newman on Twitter
Follow F.J. Newman on GoodreadsAmazon Author page
Visit vermilionempire.com
Buy Into This Wild Abyss


About the book
Into This Wild Abyss is the first book in the Vermilion Archives.
The Vermilion Empire is in turmoil, rocked by murder, betrayal and revolt. Amid the chaos, three individuals face the brutal reality of a society collapsing around them.

Ashara is stranded in the city and desperate to return to the grassy plains of her homeland. Surrounded by strangers, she must learn the hard way who she can trust. As things go from bad to worse, she is forced to flee with nothing but her wits and courage to protect her.

Natan is a disappointment to his merchant father. He sees the civil war as an opportunity to prove himself but does not count on the bitter cost. What starts as the pursuit of adulthood ends in a quest for revenge.

Po is a novice monk in the Ba’re order. Idealistic but at times naive, he is drawn into a web of intrigue that sees him hunted by the notorious Ministry of Virtue. The information he safeguards could determine the future of the empire itself.

Loyalties are tested and human endurance finds its limits amidst the gritty and unrelenting backdrop of a world teetering on the edge of oblivion.

Review
This is the first book in the Vermilion Archives series, a high or epic fantasy suitable for YA and older readers. The story features three main characters, and their storylines weave in and out of each other's stories, as their lives connect and intersect during the tale.

Ashara, Natan and Po share an instinct for survival and self-preservation, and they also have a strong sense of loyalty. This story is a coming-of-age, a realisation of the brutality of war, and the brusque reality of desperation and death. It is a wild excursion into turmoil and destruction, let alone a wild abyss.

Ashara finds it difficult to trust and bond with people after she is brutally ripped from her family and her familiar existence. Being forced into servitude makes her question what she was always taught to be the truth, which is the beginning of her own personal rebellion.

Natan is used to being part of a privileged existence, so when his life is turned upside down he has to find the strength to retaliate against the kind of injustice he has previously watched and is now part of.

Po is quite an interesting character, because the violence, war and the strict rules of his existence as a monk present a conundrum for him. He is asked to ignore his instincts and behave with an almost negligent attitude towards his fellow human beings.

As their kingdoms explode into a vicious, volatile and 'take no prisoners' kind of war, each one of them has to make a choice about their allegiances and how to survive in this new treacherous world. It really does show how the paths they considered to be divine, a natural progression or the normal order of the universe, can change in the blink of an eye or a single decision.

Epic fantasy is an incredibly difficult genre, perhaps because it combines a multitude of sub-genres and usually has multiple storylines taking place simultaneously. Some authors have a flair for it and others do not. Newman does.

In fact for a debut novel this is incredibly well-written, developed and the world-building has plenty of potential. I would like to see him create a more emotional link between the characters and the reader, a little more depth so those readers will come back for more. Either way, he has my recommendation and I will certainly be coming back to read more by Newman. It's

Buy Into This Wild Abyss at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Buy Into This Wild Abyss at Amazon com
Publisher: Atlantis Publishing (NZ)
Atlantispublishing Facebook page

Friday, 30 November 2018

#BlogTour Mavis and Dot by Angela Petch


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour for Mavis and Dot by Angela Petch. Petch shows the reader what true companionship, friendship and support is.


About the Author
A prize-winning author, Angela Petch lives half the year in West Sussex and the summer months in a remote valley in the Tuscan Apennines. She recently signed a two-book deal with Bookouture for her Tuscan novels and “Mavis and Dot” is a temporary departure from her usual genre. She has travelled all her life: born in Germany, she spent six years as a child living in Rome, worked in Amsterdam after finishing her degree in Italian, moved to Italy for her job, then to Tanzania for three years. Her head is full of stories and she always carries a pen and note-book to capture more ideas.

In May 2017, Angela Petch won PRIMA’S monthly short story competition and recently had a dozen stories published by The People’s Friend magazine.

“Mavis and Dot” was written in memory of a dear friend who lost her battle with ovarian cancer. All profits from sales of the book will go towards research into a cure for cancer.

Follow @Angela_Petch on Twitter, On Facebook


About the book
A warm slice of life, funny, feel-good, yet poignant. Introducing two eccentric ladies who form an unlikely friendship.Meet Mavis and Dot - two colourful, retired ladies who live in Worthington-on-Sea, where there are charity shops galore. Apart from bargain hunting, they manage to tangle themselves in escapades involving illegal immigrants, night clubs, nude modelling, errant toupees and more. And then there’s Mal, the lovable dog who nobody else wants. A gently humorous, often side-splitting, heart-warming snapshot of two memorable characters with past secrets and passions.

Escape for a couple of hours into this snapshot of a faded, British seaside town. You'll laugh and cry but probably laugh more."This book is quirky and individual, and has great pathos...[it] will resonate with a lot of readers." Gill Kaye - Editor of Ingenu(e). Written with a light touch in memory of a dear friend who passed away from ovarian cancer, Angela Petch’s seaside tale is a departure from her successful Tuscan novels.

Review
The friendship and relationship between Mavis and Dot reminds me of the friendship my mother has with a woman she met when she moved to a small seaside town. The two of them spend nearly their entire time together sniping and complaining about each other, all whilst going on regular shopping trips and excursions. When apart they complain to others about the annoying habits each of them has, and that is more or less what Mavis and Dot are like.

The differences between them seem insurmountable and yet the way each of them resigns themselves to those idiosyncrasies is what stands out in this story.

For me the core of this story is the odd couple relationship and the friendship they both grow into over time. The story pivots and shoots into a lot of different directions, which I felt was detrimental to the main plot at times, however saying that the eccentricity and the erratic nature of the storyline is also what makes this story.

Friendship happens between the strangest of couples and groups, and between the most unlikely of persons. The question is whether we are still able to do so in times when our society has become so standoffish, inhumane and uncaring towards the plight and pain of our fellow human beings. We have to accept that we are the same beneath our external differences or internal beliefs.

Petch shows the reader what true companionship, friendship and support is, and it has no problem ignoring smelly coats and a bad dress sense. It can be filled with disagreements and still be a strong supportive bond worth nurturing. At the same time, looking beyond the sad aspect of loneliness, the isolation of the elderly and the way we deal with immigrants, there is also a thread of humour throughout the story. It keeps Mavis and Dot light and entertaining.

Buy Mavis and Dot at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy Mavis and Dot at Amazon com
Tuscan Novels
Tuscan Roots: A tangle of love and war in the Italian Apennines (Tuscan Roots - to be reissued by Bookouture in 2019)
Now and Then in Tuscany:Italian Journeys


Thursday, 29 November 2018

Attend by West Camel

I really enjoyed this gem of a read and I hope you do too.

Don't miss the fantastic BlogTour starting on Saturday the 1st of December and running for the entire month. Read the schedule at the bottom of this post to follow my fellow bloggers, as they take this debut book by West Camel, published by Orenda Books, for a ride through the Bloggerverse.

About the Author
Born and bred in south London – and not the Somerset village with which he shares a name – West Camel worked as an editor in higher education and business before turning his attention to the arts and publishing.  He has worked as a book and arts journalist, and was editor at Dalkey Archive Press, where he edited the Best European Fiction 2015 anthology, before moving to new press Orenda Books just after its launch.

He currently combines his work as editor at Orenda with writing and editing a wide range of material for various arts organisations, including ghost-writing a New-Adult novel and editing The Riveter magazine for the European Literature Network. He has also written several short scripts, which have been produced in London’s fringe theatres, and was longlisted for the Old Vic’s 12 playwrights project. Attend is his first novel.

Follow @west_camel @OrendaBooks on Twitter
Visit westcamel.net
Buy Attend


About the book
When Sam falls in love with Deptford thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah. Seamstress, sailor, storyteller and self-proclaimed centenarian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, a history of hidden Deptford and ultimately the solution to their crises.

With echoes of Armistead Maupin and a hint of magic realism, Attend is a beautifully written, darkly funny, mesmerisingly emotive and deliciously told debut novel, rich in finely wrought characters that you will never forget.


Review
I think the first assumption one makes about this story is that Deborah is some kind of forlorn spirit or a ghost who is destined to wander the streets of Deptford for eternity. The truth is so much more complex. It's also what gives this story an essence of eccentric charm. You never really know for certain whether she is real, is she a figment of imagination or is she really walking among the living waiting for the right circumstances?

The only trouble with magical realism is the fact it is hard to distinguish between what is real and which elements belong in the magical category. So, with that said I am off to go look for Deborah in the tunnels or in her abode by the river.

One of the most poignant moments in the book is when Deborah asks if Anne and Sam can really see her. If you set aside the story for moment, it speaks to the lack of compassion and empathy in our society. The lonely walk through our world like invisible people. We look away from and turn our backs on things that make us uncomfortable, including the homeless, the abused and invisible in our society.

Not everyone sees Deborah, which in itself says a lot about the world she lives in, and a lot about the people who can or do see her. Does she connect with Anne and Sam because they need her in exactly that moment in time? Are their inner struggles and demons like a flare in the darkness for Deborah? Or do the paths of this threesome meld because fate has dictated this path for them?

I can't tell a lie, this story drew me in further with each word. I was mesmerised by the story of the young girl in the tunnel and her magical discovery. From the claustrophobic feel of the tunnels, the mysterious piece of cloth - to the Hansel and Gretel safety thread

Attend is a nod in the direction of magical realism with a noirish quality and yet simultaneously filled with the brusque reality of our modern world. The collusion between these different worlds culminates in an extraordinary piece of fiction.

Buy Attend (Kindle) at Amazon Uk
Buy/Pre-order Attend (Paperback - pub date 13 December 2018)
Publisher: Orenda Books

Starting on the 1st of December - the Blogtour for Attend by West Camel:


#BlogTour Too Far by Jason Starr


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Too Far by Jason Starr. Starr writes crime with the improbable in mind, so expect the unexpected.

About the Author
Jason Starr is the international bestselling author of many crime novels and thrillers and his books have been published in over a dozen languages. Many of his books are in development for film and TV. Starr's bestselling crime novels include Cold Caller, Nothing Personal, Fake ID, Hard Feelings, Tough Luck and Twisted City, followed by Lights Out, The Follower, Panic Attack, Savage Lane and his latest novel, Too Far. He is one of only a handful of authors who have won the Anthony Award for mystery fiction multiple times. He was born in Brooklyn and lives in Manhattan.

Follow @JasonStarrBooks @noexitpress on Twitter
Visit jasonstarr.com
Buy Too Far


About the book
One night. One date. What have you got to lose?

Jack Harper isn’t a bad man, but he’s stuck in a loveless marriage with a mediocre job just trying to keep sober. The only good thing in his life is his son. When an old college friend introduces him to a new extramarital dating website, he tentatively reaches out to find a distraction from his misery. But when he goes to meet up with his steamy online date, he quickly realises it was a dire choice.
Soon, Jack finds himself desperately trying to prove his innocence for crimes he did not commit, and the life he once had – unhappy as it was – is nothing but a dream. Now, he’s living his worst nightmare. . .

Gripping and packed with shocking twists and turns, this intense psychological thriller plays with a basic anxiety we all harbour: What if one reckless decision could ruin your life forever?
Review
Jack, oh Jack, what can I say about Jack? He likes to blame everything and everyone else for his failures and mistakes. At least he is consistent throughout the story when it comes to this. He never accepts any responsibility for his actions. His wife makes him unhappy, which means it's okay to look elsewhere. His friend is more successful at life, so it's fine for Jack to want more from his own life.

Clearly his friend is there holding each finger to the keyboard as Jack sets up a profile on an extramarital aka cheating hook-up site. An invisible force makes him send flirtatious and salacious messages to women other than his wife, women who are also married or in relationships. When he goes as far as arranging to meet up for a dangerous liaison he finds himself in a bit of a pickle.

Jack, who wants a bit of fun on the side, becomes Jack the murder suspect and Jack the alleged killer. Within hours he has a very displeased wife, a detective gagging to pin a death on him and his life starts unravelling before him.

Starr presents a main character with a penchant for self-pity and a knack for finding himself in difficult situations. Not exactly the perfect leading man, but certainly a good pick for this rather unpredictable crime thriller. It's a read with infuriating scenes and characters, and they inadvertently also act as red herrings in a crime story with an apparently simple solution.

The author finishes the book off with an intriguing about-turn in a direction, which leaves the story open for a possible sequel. Starr writes crime with the improbable in mind, so expect the unexpected.

Buy Too Far at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: No Exit Press

Saturday, 24 November 2018

#BlogTour A Hollow Sky by M. Sean Coleman


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour for A Hollow Sky by M. Sean Coleman, the second book in the Alex Ripley series. Coleman gives the reader an intriguing mixture of mystery, crime and whodunnit, then surrounds it with a layer of mysticism and skepticism in equal measures.

Enter the Giveaway below to win paperback copies of The Cuckoo Wood and A Hollow Sky, a cool tote bag with book quote from the publisher, a branded bookmark and some chocolates. (Open Internationally)


About the Author
Born in the UK and raised in South Africa, M. Sean Coleman developed a love for reading and writing novels in his early teens, thanks to two incredibly passionate English teachers who infected him with their love of words and stories. Over the intervening years, he has written film and television drama, cross-platform series, an interactive children’s storybook and a graphic novel series.

He finally found his niche as a thriller writer when he was asked to write a novel as part of the cross-platform project, Netwars. His first book, The Code, was published six months later, with the sequel, Down Time, hot on its heels. There was no going back.

He is obsessed with crime, mystery and thriller stories, especially those with a fresh or surprising angle. He writes novels from his home in The Cotswolds, where he lives with his husband and their three red dogs.
Follow @mseancoleman  @RedDogTweets on Twitter, on Facebook
Buy A Hollow Sky


About the book
Jane Hewitt had been miraculously healed—cured of a terminal cancer that had been eating away at her body for months. After one meeting with an incredible young woman, Jane rose from her wheelchair and walked out, believing that her lifetime of devoted faith had been rewarded. The next day, Jane died in her husband's arms, devastated that her God had deserted her. Her husband, Ian, blames her hastened death on the faith healer she visited. But that faith healer is a teenage girl called Megan, who has been in a coma for five years, and has no say over how her gift is used.

When Ian is arrested after being accused of breaking in to Megan's house and trying to tamper with her life support, he turns to the only person he knows can help clear his name, and stop this family deceiving any other victims—Dr Alex Ripley, the so called Miracle Detective.

Fascinated by Megan's case, and needing a distraction, Ripley finds herself on Holy Island, off the coast of North Wales, caught up in an investigation that will prove more sinister and dangerous than she could have imagined. Ian is not the first person to complain about Megan and her supporters, but he seems to be the only one left alive. For now.
A Hollow Sky is the second Alex Ripley Mystery

Review
This is the second book in the Alex Ripley Mystery series. Both The Cuckoo Wood and A Hollow Sky can be read as standalone novels. One of the small scenes in the first book features a character who later becomes a main character in the second.

Dr Alex Ripley dedicates her life to exposing the charlatans who try and trick the vulnerable and the gullible. The fakes with a supposed direct line of contact to the dead and the ability to mediate between the living and their dearly departed loved ones.

Jane Hewitt visits a miracle healer, a young girl in a coma called Megan, and is dead the next day. Her husband blames the scam operation that made his wife believe she had experienced a miraculous healing, which was then ripped away again in a few minutes, for her death. In her last moments she was convinced her God had forsaken her. Now Ian wants to make sure everyone knows that coma girl is as fake as a tan on an Essex girl.

Obviously Alex comes up against quite a lot of opposition. There are plenty of religious people, who believe in miracles and the power of faith. Crying statues, sudden healing and the power of mass belief. Logic, science and plain old common sense are the last things people want to believe in when they think they are experiencing a sign from God.

Coleman gives the reader an intriguing mixture of mystery, crime and whodunnit, then surrounds it with a layer of mysticism and skepticism in equal measures. It makes for a compelling read.

Buy A Hollow Sky (Alex Ripley Mystery Book #2) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Buy A Hollow Sky at Amazon com
Buy A Hollow Sky at Red Dog Press
Read my review of The Cuckoo Wood (Alex Ripley Mystery Book #1) by M.Sean Coleman


Enter the Giveaway below to win paperback copies of The Cuckoo Wood and A Hollow Sky, a cool tote bag with book quote from the publisher, a branded bookmark and some chocolates. (Open Internationally)



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