Saturday, 26 May 2018

#BlogTour A Secret Worth Killing For by Simon Berthon


Today it is my turn on the BlogTour for A Secret Worth Killing For by Simon Berthon. It's a story full of political intrigue and betrayal. (A Secret Worth Killing For was previously released under the title Woman of State)

About the Author
Simon Berthon has been described by The Daily Telegraph as a ‘formidable Second World War Historian’ for his reporting of events. He became the editor of BBC Northern Ireland’s current affairs programme Spotlight, moved to ITV’s investigative series World in Action  where he won a Gold Hugo at the Chicago Film Festival, and went on to make the major historical series The Shape of the World which won a Gold Medal at the New York Film and Television Festival.

He became a founding partner of 3BM Television, seeing over a stream of high quality historical and investigative documentaries, many of which are award-winning.

His books, Allies at War: Churchill v Roosevelt v De Gaulle (Thistle, 2011) and Warlords (Thistle, 2006) offer detailed accounts of the mind games played by leaders in the war as well as examining their relationships, deals and decision making, all of which has been expertly researched and recounted intelligently.

His latest book, A Secret Worth Killing For (HQ, 2018), follows protagonist Maire Anne McCarthy, a one-time honey-trap for the IRA.

Follow @HQStories
Buy A Secret Worth Killing For


About the book
Secrets
1991, Belfast.
Maire Anne McCartney is recruited for a one-off IRA mission as a honey trap. She is told there will be no violence. But she has been lied to. To save herself, eighteen-year-old Maire must flee across the border alone, and start a new life.

State
Present day, London.
Human rights lawyer Anne-Marie Gallagher is appointed Minister of State for Security and Immigration. At the same time, the police in Belfast receive an anonymous tip-off. The password is verified from the Troubles – and the co-ordinates lead DCI Jon Carne to a field. And a body.

Betrayal
The new Minister receives a message and realises that the new life she has crafted is at risk of being uncovered. And when Carne’s investigation brings Anne- Marie to his attention, she must decide where her allegiances lie…

Review
Anne-Marie is an ambitious politician with quite a few skeletons in her closet. Not exactly unusual for a politician. Her secrets are buried all the way back in Ireland in the midst of the Troubles. The story moves from past to the present and back again, as some of those secrets begin to surface and threaten to destroy the new life and identity she has built for herself.

Although Anne-Marie is portrayed as the unsuspecting and innocent victim of political machinations and spy games, I find that perspective hard to swallow. The whole set-up of the honey-trap suggests at the very least a subconscious awareness of what would happen, especially considering her family and their involvement in the IRA.

The most interesting aspect of the story is the question of guilt. Anne-Marie doesn't seem to feel as if she is complicit in any way. One could argue that her role in the honey-trap, which leads to the death of a man, is what hardens her and makes her less empathetic or does her family loyalty and politics play a bigger role in her life than she lets on?

To me Anne-Marie reads as a woman fully aware of her actions and the consequences of said actions. In a way her ambitions and her almost instinctive play for power after the successful election is indicative of her true nature and personality.

I also think it is a fairly common assumption that women are less likely to be ruthless leaders, killers and in positions of power, when it comes to crime or terrorism. A fatal mistake I might add. There is this stereotypical misconception that we are less likely to be cruel, brutal and able to make life and death decisions.

Regardless of the truth all of the above still applies to the situation, so I suppose in the end it is a question of whether everything is fair game when we are at war. If that is the case then why do we put war criminals on trial? Are some acts of murder deemed not to be a crime, depending on the circumstances, the conflict and the person who committed them? It's food for thought at the very least.

Berthon makes an interesting political point and one about human rights with this story, regardless of whether it is intentional or not. It also speaks to the nature of politicians, the omnipotence of secret military and police operations, and human nature in general. The author takes a snapshot of the events during that violent period in our history and manages to place the blame where it belongs, which is firmly on both sides.

It's a gripping venture into the world of politics, political skirmishes, clandestine operations and history. Ultimately it is also one about human nature, conscience and guilt, and betrayal. I think it is fair to say we all have some skeletons in our closet, some of us have just buried them deeper than other people.

Buy A Secret Worth Killing For at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.


Friday, 25 May 2018

#BlogTour Dead Girls by Graeme Cameron


Today it really is my absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Dead Girls by Graeme Cameron. Dead Girls is the sequel to the successful psychological thriller Normal. When I read Normal in 2015 I knew Cameron was one of the as yet small group of writers willing to extend and break the boundaries of the crime genre.


About the Author
Graeme Cameron is the bestselling author of Normal and its sequel, Dead Girls. He was born, raised and remains in Norfolk, where he juggles writing with a career in the motorsport industry. He is assisted in procrastinating by four children and such high-octane pursuits as photography, boardgaming, toy restoration, crochet, and bingeing on Netflix
Follow @GNCameron @HQStories
Visit graeme-cameron.com
Buy Dead Girls


About the book
I may not remember everything, but I know he won’t hurt anyone else. I won’t let him. 

It’s been two months since a serial killer brutally attacked police detective Alisha Green and left her for dead. Two months since she could effortlessly recall simple things, since her mind felt remotely sound. The nameless killer thinks he knows her, thinks she’s just another dead girl among many. Ali Green plans to show him he’s dead wrong about that.

Ali has two enemies now: the dangerous man she’s hunting and her own failing memory. As explosive new evidence comes to light and conflicting accounts from a witness and a surviving victim threaten both her investigation and her credibility, she begins to question what is and isn’t real. And now Ali has no choice but to remember the past…before it buries her.

A hypnotically gripping thriller that proves internationally bestselling author Graeme Cameron is one of the most unique voices in contemporary fiction today.
Review
This is the sequel to Normal (published 2015). It can be read as a standalone novel, because Cameron fills in enough of the blanks to be able to do that without it taking over this story or being repetitive. It starts off where the previous book ended, which was in the middle of an epic showdown between the discovery of an alleged serial killer, one of his victims and the police.

I absolutely recommend reading the first in this series, but not necessarily because it is the book that explains the events which continue to unfold in this book. I recommend reading it, because it is an exceptional and innovative read that stands out from the crowd. The whole reading experience of Normal takes place through the eyes, ears and narrative of the killer, the killer without a name or identity.

I was surprised the author decided to take this spectacular premise a step further, and yet also intrigued by the idea of how it could be accomplished. Needless to say I wasn't disappointed. Once again Cameron delivers a sublime plot and intricately planned scenarios, dialogues and characters. At some points it is so convincing I'm not even sure he is absolutely sure or aware of the truth, and he is the one writing the story.

Although Ali is still suffering from the physical limitations caused by the attack at the end of the first book, unfortunately both her long and short term memory are letting her down, she is absolutely certain her theory is correct. No matter what the evidence suggests, she believes Erica is and was a victim, and that somewhere out there That Man is controlling the narrative of the investigation.

It makes her look incompetent and as if she is unable to cope. She knows her gut instinct is the best compass in a situation where her injuries have left her adrift at sea. Is it all in her mind, is she seeing conspiracy theories where there are none? Is Ali just in denial about the fact that a young girl has been traumatised to the extent that she is emulating the man who kept her in a cage?

At the moment Cameron doesn't get the attention he deserves as a crime fiction writer. He has a natural instinct for creating suspense and tension. At times he makes you want look over your shoulder, just to make sure there isn't anyone lurking in the shadows. In fact I might just stop using my rear view mirror, just saying.

It is a complex, twisted and fast-paced story. It will keep you on your toes and perhaps make you doubt what you know to be true. One of the most important characters controls everything like a Master of puppets without ever being present at all. I just love the whole premise of this series, it's a stroke of genius.

Buy Dead Girls at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher Harper Collins UK, Pub. date 31 May 2018
Read my review of Normal by Graeme Cameron


Thursday, 24 May 2018

#BlogBlitz The TV Detective by Simon Hall


Today it is my pleasure to take part in the Blog Blitz for The TV Detective by Simon Hall. The author brings two unlikely characters together, who become a rather interesting crime-fighting duo.


About the Author
Simon Hall is an author and journalist. He has been a broadcaster for twenty five years, mostly as a BBC Television and Radio News Correspondent, covering some of the biggest stories Britain has seen.

His books - the tvdetective series - are about a television reporter who covers crimes and gets so involved in the cases he helps the police to solve them. Seven have been published. Simon has also contributed articles and short stories to a range of newspapers and magazines, written plays, and even a pantomime.

Alongside his novels and stories, Simon is a tutor in media skills and creative writing, teaching at popular Writers’ Summer Schools such as Swanwick and Winchester, on cruise ships and overseas.

Simon has also become sought after as a speaker, appearing at a variety of prestigious literary festivals. His talks combine an insight into his writing work, along with some extraordinary anecdotes from the life of a television reporter, including the now notorious story of What to do when you really need a dead otter.

Now 49 years old, he began a broadcasting career as a DJ on the radio and in nightclubs, then moved into radio and TV news. He worked in Europe, London, Ireland, and the south west of England, before settling in Cambridge.

Simon is married to Jess, Director of Libraries at the University of Cambridge, and has an adopted daughter, Niamh. She’s an army officer, which makes her father both very proud and very nervous.
Simon lectures on careers in the media at Cambridge University, and in schools and colleges. Amongst his proudest achievements, he includes the number of young people he has helped into jobs in broadcasting, and aspiring writers into publication.

As for his likes, Simon lists beer – he judges at real ale festivals – cycling the countryside, solving cryptic crosswords, composing curious Tweets (find him @thetvdetective ) and studying pop lyrics.



About the book
Dan Groves is a television reporter newly assigned to the crime beat and not at all happy about it.

Dan knows next nothing about police work or how to report on it so when he persuades Detective Chief Inspector Adam Breen to allow him to shadow a high-profile murder inquiry it seems like the perfect solution though it soon becomes clear some members of the police force have no intention of playing nice with the new boy.

With his first case Dan is dropped in at the deep-end. A man is killed in a lay-by with a blast through the heart from a shotgun. The victim is a notorious local businessman, Edward Bray, a man with so many enemies there are almost too many suspects for the police to eliminate.

As tensions rise between Dan and the police he comes close to being thrown off the case until the detectives realise that far from being a liability, Dan might actually be the key to tempting the murderer into a trap.

The TV Detective is the first book in a classic crime series from Simon Hall, who until recently was the BBC Crime Correspondent for the Devon and Cornwall area.


Review
Dan Groves is thrown into the thick of it, when he finds himself reassigned to the crime desk and in the midst of a murder investigation. I think Dan is quite surprised when he starts to enjoy the assignment that has been more or less forced upon him. Going from news on the environment to stories about crime is a big career change, although to be fair there is a lot of environmental crime nowadays. Dan has a natural instinct for the world of crime and criminals.

It's interesting how Dan seems to struggle at times between his journalistic instincts and trying to solve the crime. The choice between getting the story or catching the guilty person is one he struggles with. He also finds parallels between himself and the lead detective, and I believe he is surprised by the occasional weakness he sees in Breen.

Hall has linked two unusual characters, Breen and Groves would usually be on opposite sides of the fence in a police procedural. A journalist chasing a good story, and the police officer in charge of solving the crime and keeping the majority of the details out of the press.

It is a premise with a lot of potential. This crime-fighting duo is like pairing a Holmes with a Holmes, there is no Watson in this equation, both are equally skilled in solving cases. The author makes his characters humane by showing their vulnerabilities, despite showcasing their talents for solving crimes. There is also a frivolity about their interactions, which is seen throughout the story, and a feeling of a growing friendship.

I enjoyed the way the author bounces the solutions between the two characters, almost like a game of tag-you're-it. Dan has epiphanies, but he never quite figures out the whole picture - enter Adam. It's fun, filled with banter and it is a well-plotted crime.

Buy The TV Detective at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.


Tuesday, 22 May 2018

#BlogTour Ask Me to Dance by Sylvia Colley


Today it is my turn on the BlogTour for Ask Me To Dance by Sylvia Colley. It is a heartfelt tale of healing, forgiveness and understanding. When someone deals with personal grief and anger without airing it in any way they can become an emotional ticking time-bomb.


About the Author
Sylvia Colley was born in Romsey, Hampshire. She became a teacher and spent many years as Head of English at the Purcell School in North London.
She has published a book of poetry, It’s Not What I Wanted Though, and a novel, Lights on Dark Water. Her work has been read on BBC Radio 4. She lives in Pinner, Middlesex.


About the book
Rose Gregory has suffered a devastating blow, a double bereavement from which months later she is still reeling. Sanctuary and rest are prescribed by her doctor. But when she arrives at her refuge, a dank and decaying Monastery, she finds it is not the haven promised. Despite the veneer of calm contemplation, the Monastery turns out to be a hotbed of intrigue and disharmony. Rose witnesses bullying and cruelty and ultimately in defence of the vulnerable turns to violence herself. Sylvia Colley's extraordinary understanding of a woman's struggle to deal with grief, the denial, the anger, the loneliness, is described without sentimentality. A beautifully written and moving story.


Review
'I woke to a dead soul housed inside a live body'

Rose spends a lot of time trying to escape her grief and her emotions. She is distraught on the inside and yet on the outside she appears to be cold and in control. There is only so much a body can hide until it starts to react to such an incredible strain. It takes a while for the crumbling to start, and when it does she is guided towards a place where she can find some peace.

Her most poignant moment was admitting she was frightened that her faith wouldn't move mountains at all and that she was frightened of putting God to the test, which of course equates to her doubting her faith in general. The realisation that no matter how much you pray there usually isn't a miracle waiting around the next corner. Sometimes there is no explanation or reason.

It takes Rose a while to understand that she is not just dealing with anger, she is also dealing with guilt. What if she had been there? What if she hadn't been ill that day? Did she make the right choices after the accident, and most importantly how could she forget the dead in favour of the living.

In a way I think Rose believes her loss is a punishment and the confirmation of the lack of love and understanding she also encountered as a child. You are not good enough to be loved, hence being punished by such an immense loss. The anger about her past has always smouldered deep inside her, but the loss of her loved ones is the striking of the match, and the events in the retreat are fuel which ignites and unleashes the fierce storm of anger within her.

Ask Me To Dance is a story about grief, faith and pain. It is about questioning each moment in our lives that somehow forms our personality and the choices we make in our lives. When something or someone destroys the imagined foundations of our existence, some of us rebuild the structure, but some people give up completely.

Colley keeps it simple and relatable. This could happen to any person at any given time. She approaches the topic of faith without being preachy, bullying without crass incidents and healing without sudden heavenly revelations. It is an endearing tale written with a lot of compassion, and yet very down-to-earth.

Buy Ask Me To Dance at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher Muswell Press



Monday, 21 May 2018

#BlogTour Paul McGraw: Kid to Killer by Paul Elliott


Today it is my turn on the BlogTour for Kid to Killer by Paul Elliott. It is the story of a boy with a strong sense of justice, which evolves into vigilantism. One could argue that one man's justice is another man's murder.


About the Author
Paul Elliott, born in Edinburgh in 1974 is the creator and writer of the book Paul McGraw: Kid To Killer which is available now on the kindle store

Having grown up in some of the roughest areas of Edinburgh and leaving Wester Hailes Education Centre after year one with no qualifications, he joined the army as a junior officer at 15 years old but very quickly realised it wasn't for him.
Paul then moved onto being a nightclub bouncer, debt collector, personal security provider and car dealer before trying his hand at writing a novel.

Twitter @EdinburghAuthor
Facebook: Paul Elliott/Author

About the book
A fifteen year old boy sees it as his duty to rid Edinburgh of the scum that prey on the innocent people of the city. He finds that to punish the guilty he must first face fear,loss and betrayal.

He will soon discover things aren't always as they seem, and there are other people who have uses for a young killer as well as bigger forces at play.


Review
A fifteen year old kid, who believes he can solve the problems of the world or at least those of Edinburgh by taking out dangerous criminals one at a time. A belief born out of having to learn how to survive in a dog eat dog world, and a world full of bullies.

I am fairly certain that the idea of being a vigilante and dispersing of all the dangerous elements of society aka kill them, is one which passes through quite a few minds occasionally, then again that might just be me. The most obvious danger in that is who decides which criminal is on the hit-list, and how do you decide. I would think it would be an easy decision to kill rapists, serial killers, child molesters and mass killers, but who draws the line and where? Who decides which crime fits the ultimate definitive punishment?

The argument is similar to for and against the death penalty. What happens if you kill an innocent person, does an eye for an eye really equate to real justice? I won't weigh in with my personal opinion on vigilantism or the death penalty. Justice systems are flawed, which is how murderers end up on back on the street and killing again, and also how many innocent men and women spend decades behind bars.

In this scenario you also have to wonder who is being put on the hit-list by whom and why. Is there some ulterior motive behind specific names. More importantly what makes the self-appointed vigilante more able or knowledgeable to make those choices.

Elliott presents a premise quite a few readers will nod their heads at, but there will also be a lot of shaking of heads. In that sense it will create discussion and debate. It is the story of a boy with a strong sense of justice, which evolves into vigilantism. One could argue that one man's justice is another man's murder. It could do with a little polish and smoothing of the edges, but I expect that will come with a honing of skills. Kid to Killer is the first in the series, so it will be interesting to see where the author takes this vigilante.

Buy Paul McGraw: Kid to Killer at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Pub. date 2nd June 2018


Sunday, 20 May 2018

#BlogTour The Cliff House by Amanda Jennings


It's an absolute delight to be taking part in the BlogTour for The Cliff House by Amanda Jennings. When grief turns into obsession, two families are in danger of being torn apart and destroyed. The premise seems so innocent you just might not see the wave of emotional destruction coming.


About the Author
Amanda Jennings lives in Oxfordshire with her husband, three daughters, and a menagerie of animals. She studied History of Art at Cambridge and before writing her first book, was a researcher at the BBC.

With a deep fascination on the far-reaching effects of trauma, her books focus on the different ways people find to cope with loss, as well as the moral struggles her protagonists face. Her favourite place to be is up a mountain or beside the Cornish sea.

Follow @MandaJJennings  @HQStories
Visit amandajennings.co.uk
Buy The Cliff House


About the book
From the bestselling author of In Her Wake, Amanda Jennings, comes a haunting tale of obsession, loss and longing, set against the brooding North Cornish coastline.
Cornwall, summer of 1986.
The Davenports, with their fast cars and glamorous clothes, living the dream in a breathtaking house
overlooking the sea. If only… thinks sixteen-year-old Tamsyn, her binoculars trained on the perfect family in their perfect home. If only her life was as perfect as theirs. If only Edie Davenport would be her friend. If only she lived at The Cliff House…


Review
The Cliff House is so many things, it isn't just a psychological thriller, it is a coming-of-age meets a family coping with grief and the hard realities of living below the breadline story. When you put all those components together and add a layer or difference of socioeconomic status between two friends, that's when you can see the cracks start to appear in the seemingly innocent story of a young lonely girl.

A girl almost consumed with grief after the death of her father, despite the fact it has already been many years since his death. Tamsyn focuses her obsession on any place she visited with her father and even on any object he may have touched at one point. When anyone invades those memories she becomes irrational and antagonistic.

One of the places she obsesses about is a house her father told her would one day be theirs. The Cliff House and its inhabitants are the objects of her daily routine. She watches, she imagines and she becomes part of the family, if only in her head.

One day her routine is disrupted and her fantasy threatened when the daughter of the house discovers Tamsyn trespassing. The ensuing relationship or what she perceives to be a relationship is the beginning of a downward spiral for everyone in both families. Her reaction when someone encroaches upon her territory is indicative of a dark side of her personality.

Jennings plays around with the alleged innocence of youth, the divide between rich and poor, and the invisibility each girl suffers from in their own family settings. Every family has problems regardless of their economic status.

Jennings underplays the importance of the obsession, so it becomes a subtle undertone in the background. It buzzes around like a persistent reminder, but not enough to think it might be an actual threat. It's a sublime well-plotted story.

Buy The Cliff House by Amanda Jennings at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Buy Hardback  Paperback release 6th September 2018 Publisher Harper Collins UK


Saturday, 19 May 2018

#BlogTour The Old You by Louise Voss

I am delighted to take part in the BlogTour for The Old You by Louise Voss. It is a labyrinth of secrets, unforgivable betrayal and murderous intent. At times I think even the criminal isn't entirely sure who the real culprit is. Prepare to be surprised at the sheer audacity of the crimes.
About the Author
Over her eighteen-year writing career, Louise Voss has had eleven novels published – five solo and six co-written with Mark Edwards: a combination of psychological thrillers, police procedurals and
contemporary fiction – and sold over 350,000 books. Louise has an MA (Dist) in Creative Writing and also works as a literary consultant and mentor for writers at www.thewritingcoach.co.uk. She lives in South-West London and is a proud member of two female crimewriting collectives, The Slice Girls and Killer Women.
Follow @LouiseVoss1 @OrendaBooks
Visit vossandedwards.com


About the book
Nail-bitingly modern domestic noir. A tense, Hitchcockian psychological thriller Louise Voss returns with her darkest, most chilling, novel yet…

Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together. Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than lost keys and missing words. As some memories are forgotten, others, long buried, begin to surface … and Lynn’s perfect world begins to crumble. But is it Ed’s mind playing tricks, or hers…?


Review
I figured the core of the plot out in the first few chapters, not because it's predictable more so based on the premise of just how insidious the author could possibly be. Let's just say, Voss doesn't disappoint.

Let me also start out by saying how annoyingly naive I found Lynn, especially considering her prior training and career. She is also a hypocrite of the highest order, and I would go so far as to place a fair piece of blame squarely on her shoulders. Towards the end there seems to be no difference between Ed and Lynn.

When her husband is diagnosed with an illness, which is already chipping away at his memories and his personality, Lynn is both devastated and worried for her future. Watching your loved one fade away into a jumble of paranoia, fear, anger and confusion is incredibly frightening. Add the fact that your husband was never cleared of allegedly making his first wife disappear, and then you have a whole other layer of despair and danger.

I enjoyed the way Voss took one of the most frightening illnesses a person and family can be confronted with and turned it into a crime, indeed can I call it the weapon of choice. According to predicted statistics dementia is possibly one of the most worrying pending health epidemics. It is nothing less than a stroke of genius to use it as a crime premise, and certainly even more so when none of the characters are entirely sure what they are confronted with.

Louise Voss clearly has the mind of a master criminal and plots accordingly, so readers are in for quite a ride with The Old You. It is a labyrinth of secrets, unforgivable betrayal and murderous intent. At times I think even the criminal isn't entirely sure who the real culprit is. Prepare to be surprised at the sheer audacity of the crimes.

Buy The Old You at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Orenda Books Visit: orendabooks.co.uk
Paperback edition Kindle edition


Friday, 18 May 2018

#BlogTour Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald


Today it is my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald. Her books focus on relationships and the complexities of those relationships, as they change and evolve throughout time. The perception of each person is subjective and seen through their own frame of references, which is how MacDonald approaches each book.


About the Author
Linda MacDonald is the author of four novels: Meeting Lydia and the stand-alone sequels, A Meeting of a Different Kind, The Alone Alternative and The Man in the Needlecord Jacket. All Linda's books are contemporary adult fiction, multi-themed, but with a focus on relationship issues.

After studying psychology at Goldsmiths', Linda trained as a secondary science and biology teacher. She taught these subjects for several years before moving to a sixth-form college to teach psychology. The first two novels took ten years in writing and publishing, using snatched moments in the evenings, weekends and holidays. In 2012, she gave up teaching to focus fully on writing.

Linda was born and brought up in Cockermouth, Cumbria and now lives in Beckenham in Kent.

Follow @LindaMac1 @MatadorBooks #MeetingLydia

About the book
Meeting Lydia explores the very relevant topics of childhood bullying, midlife crises, the pros and cons of internet relationships, and how the psychological effects of these affect the main character and those around her. Readers will be gripped by the turbulent life of Marianne who navigates the onset of menopause, an empty nest, a suspected errant husband and a demanding new obsession that pulls her in deeper as the story unfolds. Those interested in the psychology of relationships will enjoy this novel, as well as those who delight in an enthralling story with relatable characters and the powerful question of what happens when the past catches up with the present. This second edition has reworked the early chapters of the first edition, making for a pacy and shorter version more in line with the audiobook.

Marianne comes home from work one day to find her husband talking to a glamorous woman in their kitchen. Old childhood insecurities resurface, stemming from a time back at school when she was bullied. Jealousy rears its head and her happy marriage begins to crumble. Desperate for a solution - and introduced by her daughter to social networking - she tries to track down her first schoolgirl crush, the enigmatic Edward Harvey. But Marianne is unprepared for the power of email relationships ...


Review
To be frank, I found Marianne completely unlikeable, especially in the first few chapters. There is incessant complaining and blaming of others. As the story unfolds her inner turmoil becomes a lot clearer, and the reasons why she seems at the very least like a petty jealous fishwife. Then some of the interactions with her husband make it easier to understand her.

He is insulting and crosses boundaries with other women he wouldn't allow his wife to cross. He makes her feel small, invalid and unloved. Simultaneously Marianne makes it hard to be liked. She finds it difficult to deal with natural hormonal changes. The sense of feeling bereft at no longer being able to conceive is replaced by confusion about uncontrollable physical symptoms she experiences. Instead of seeking help or talking with someone, she withdraws even further into the confines of her own fears and insecurities.

Meeting Lydia deals with historic bullying, the symptoms of early and peri-menopause, the way society treats women after they pass into the middle-age bracket, and ultimately the way our deepest desires and goals remain unfulfilled as life passes us by.

And this is the moment where, as a reader, especially as a woman, you have to take a step back and try to understand her thought processes. Why do women of a certain age become invisible to others? The loss of youth, the ageing process, and definitely when their roles as mothers have been fulfilled, they are no longer of any interest to potential love partners for instance. Unfortunately the younger generations of women are unable to see themselves fitting into the same category (ahh the innocence of youth), and more often than not they become the adversary instead of the supporter.

As for men, well they expect a woman to stay the same throughout the decades, despite letting themselves go. A hypocritical attitude, but quite common. There is also a lack of understanding for the changes women go through, although admittedly women don't understand them completely either.

Marianne seeks closure for events in the past and tries to come to terms with the new phases of her relationship and her age. She starts what could be perceived as an emotional online relationship, which helps her to work through all of the above. In a way it is a long one-sided therapy session, with the other person being completely unaware of the importance of the correspondence.

MacDonald always manages to hit on core emotional issues in her stories. They may be woven into the fabric of a fictional scenario, but it doesn't make them any less realistic for readers. The charm of her particular style of storytelling is the way she combines everyday emotions, problems and inner dialogues with relatable characters. Her main character represents the unhappy, confused, unloved and dissatisfied woman that lives in the majority of women, it just surfaces more often in some of us. In an way it is actually Marianne meeting Marianne or the woman she is, as she goes forward.

Buy Meeting Lydia at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Buy Paperback version
Read my review of The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald


Thursday, 17 May 2018

#BlogTour Freefall by Adam Hamdy


Today it is my turn on the BlogTour for Freefall (John Wallace #2) by Adam Hamdy, it is the second book in the Pendulum Trilogy Series. Hamdy pulls no punches in this action packed story.
About the Author
Adam Hamdy is the author of the Pendulum trilogy, published by Headline in November 2016. New York Times bestselling author, James Patterson, said: “I read Pendulum in one gloriously suspenseful weekend. Definitely one of the best thrillers of the year.”

As a screenwriter, Adam has worked with studios and production companies on both sides of the Atlantic, and is currently developing original TV dramas with networks in the UK and US.

In addition to his film and television work, Adam is building a reputation as an author. After garnering critical acclaim, Adam’s self-published second novel, Out of Reach, was republished by Endeavour Press in 2015.

Prior to embarking on his writing career, Adam was a strategy consultant and advised global businesses in the medical systems, robotics, technology and financial services sectors.

Adam has a degree in Law from Oxford University and a degree in Philosophy from the University of London. Adam is a seasoned skier, rock climber, CPSA marksman, and is a member of the International Thriller Writers Organisation, the Society of Authors, the Crime Writers Association, and the Writers Guild of Great Britain.

Follow @adamhamdy @headlinepg 
Visit adamhamdy.com
Buy Freefall


About the book
Eight months after confronting Pendulum, John Wallace is losing himself in a dangerous warzone in a misguided attempt at penance for what he has done. But an assassination attempt makes Wallace realise that he has once again been targeted for death. This time, Wallace is prepared and, tracking down his would-be assassin, he discovers a link to his nemesis, Pendulum.

The link is the missing piece of a puzzle that has tormented FBI Agent Christine Ash ever since they confronted Pendulum, but with no Bureau support she has been unable to progress her case. Wallace's proof breaks it, but also exposes them both to terrible danger.

Confronted by a powerful, hidden enemy, Ash and Wallace must overcome impossible odds if they are to avert a dangerous challenge to the networked world that threatens to destroy our way of life.


Review
Freefall takes the reader from character to character, as they are all sucked into the web of the Pendulum, the supposedly dead violent killer. Well, technically he is dead, however somehow he or a psycho copying his style is back on the scene.

Nearly a year after the traumatic and violent events of Pendulum, John Wallace has withdrawn into the mountain regions of an extremely violent warzone. He is trying to deal with his guilt and find a way to make up for the mistakes he made. It doesn't take him very long to figure out that there are things you can't make right. His burden worsens tenfold when the people who have taken him in are attacked and killed for one reason only, the fact he is living among them.

Christine Ash ends up in a dangerous situation, which triggers flashbacks and possibly PTSD from her abusive childhood. Instead of breaking her spirit they break something else, a certain dark hidden aspect of her past and personality that will definitely have consequences for the next part in the trilogy.

Hamdy plays around with paranoia, betrayal and the concept of loyalty. He combines a fast-paced action thriller with aspects of police procedurals. I liked the idea of experiencing the stress, fear and physical limitations of the main characters, after the traumatic events of Pendulum, and how they react to a reawakening of those fears.

At times the story felt disjointed and a wee bit like a goth version of Deadpool had gained his own following of psychotic killers, who were subsequently popping up in their special killing attire all over the place. Too many cooks in the kitchen vying for attention perhaps?

Saying that, it is also like a non-stop brutal roller-coaster ride with the occasional emotional outburst or breakdown, and a multitude of deaths, which is exactly the kind of story many readers will enjoy. There is no time for dilly-dallying or bouts of conscience in the Pendulum series. I wonder just how much darker it's going to get and who is going to end up on the other side of the team, because after this book you just never know.

Buy Freefall at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Paperback pub. 17th May 2018
Publisher: Headline Books Visit headline.co.uk
Buy Pendulum (John Wallace #1) Book 1 in the Pendulum Trilogy

Sunday, 13 May 2018

#BlogTour Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone


Today it is my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone. In this tale the earth beneath our feet plays a big part in the crime scenario. It is always in the background, whilst the story is happening, and perhaps it also influences the outcome of events, even if it is just via the visceral connection the main character has with her surroundings.


About the Author
Doug Johnstone is an author, journalist and musician based in Edinburgh. He’s had eight novels published, most recently Crash Land. His previous novel, The Jump, was a finalist for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish CrimeNovel of the Year. Doug is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow.

He’s worked as an RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University, taught creative writing at Strathclyde University and been Writer in Residence at Strathclyde University and William Purves Funeral Directors. He mentors and assesses manuscripts for The Literary Consultancy and regularly tutors at Moniack Mhor writing retreat. Doug has released seven albums in various bands, reviews books for the Big Issue, is player-manager for Scotland Writers Football Club and has a PhD in nuclear physics.

Follow @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks
Visit  dougjohnstone.com
Buy Fault Lines


About the book
In a reimagined contemporary Edinburgh, where a tectonic fault has opened up to produce a new
volcano in the Firth of Forth, and where tremors are an everyday occurrence, volcanologist Surtsey
makes a shocking discovery.

On a clandestine trip to new volcanic island The Inch, to meet Tom, her lover and her boss, she finds
his lifeless body, and makes the fatal decision to keep their affair, and her discovery, a secret.
Desperate to know how he died, but also terrified she’ll be exposed, Surtsey’s life quickly spirals into
a nightmare when someone makes contact – someone who claims to know what she’s done…


Review
Although this is a fictional scenario of an island in Scotland caused by a volcanic eruption, it is more a case of bringing the historical and geological context of Scotland and volcanoes back with a modern day scenario.

Surtsey finds herself drawn into the middle of a murder mystery when her lover is found dead on a remote island only certain people have access to. To be more specific it looks like she might have had something to do with it, and it doesn't help that her first instinct is to lie, hide the truth and get defensive. Not exactly the behaviour of an innocent woman.

Surtsey feels connected to the land, earth and country. At times she thinks the land she walks on is speaking to her, especially the tremors and the earthquakes. Perhaps in a way she even thinks it is warning her. Warning her about the web being drawn around her, a web of deceit and a web filled with corpses. Or is Surtsey playing a her own game of murder, betrayal and duplicity?

Johnstone writes a compelling crime with a fascinating connection between the main character and the living breathing being called earth. It's as if they are walking hand-in-hand and communicating with each other or is the earth merely showing us who the more powerful player is, in this game of survival.

The subtle underlying message is a warning, that if we continue to ignore the obvious repercussions of our greedy and ignorant behaviour, we may one day be consumed by the earth we are contaminating. In a way the author draws a parallel between the instinctual human behaviour patterns, especially in regards to violence and destruction, and the companies who put money before survival of humankind.

In this tale the earth beneath our feet plays a big part in the crime scenario. It is always in the background, whilst the story is happening, and perhaps it also influences the outcome of events, even if it is just via the visceral connection the main character has with her surroundings.

Fault Lines is an intriguing crime story, which is strengthened by the imagery and vivid descriptions. Johnstone makes you feel the earth move under your feet, convinces the reader that the tremors are reaching up and travelling through your body. You may never feel the same way about certain areas in Scotland again.

Buy Fault Lines at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher Orenda Books orendabooks.co.uk
Paperback release 22 May 2018  Kindle release 28 Feb 2018


Saturday, 12 May 2018

#BlogTour Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody


Today I am really pleased to take part in the BlogTour for Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody. It is an exceptional dystopian tale with elements of urban fantasy woven into the intricate world-building and fascinating plot. Definitely an author to watch out for!


About the Author
Amanda Foody has always considered imagination to be our best attempt at magic. After spending her childhood longing to attend Hogwarts, she now loves to write about immersive settings and characters grappling with insurmountable destinies. She holds a Masters in Accountancy from Villanova University, and a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature from the College of William and Mary. Currently, she works as a tax accountant in Philadelphia, PA, surrounded by her many siblings and many books.

Daughter of the Burning City was her first novel. Her second, Ace Of Shades was released in April 2018.

Follow @AmandaFoody @HQStories @HQYoungAdult
Visit amandafoody.com
Buy Ace of Shades


About the book
Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn't have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne's offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi's enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…


Review
Enne is thrown into the deep end of the big city dirty world of New Reynes when she sets out to search for her mother. Her search leads her to some surprising secrets about her own identity. All those years of being mediocre and sub-par at her inherited talents makes sense, because she isn't who she thinks she is or who her 'mother' told her she was.

Unfortunately her real identity not only makes her one of the most hated people in the city, it also makes her one of the most wanted. This would be enough trouble for any innocent in a cruel, harsh and ruthless environment, and should put her in a permanent state of fear, but something strange is happening to Enne. She feels herself rising to each challenge.

Instead of fear she feels a natural instinct to survive, instead of backing down she defends herself and attacks. Her natural born instinct and talents are slowly but surely taking over, which also means other people will start to realise the truth too.

This reminded me a wee bit of The Lies of Locke Lamora, in a big city gang sense, but with a focus on elemental magic and talents. The characters are strong, memorable and the plot is provocative and innovative. I really enjoyed it.

Foody combines a dystopian world with an element of urban fantasy, and she does it exceptionally well. I am also glad the author didn't feel the need to meld fantasy and dystopia with the en vogue teeny romance aspect we often see in the YA sub-genre. It is usually detrimental to an intricate fantasy with complex world-building. So kudos to Amanda Foody for steering clear of that particular overused storyline.

Amanda Foody is definitely an author to watch, an emerging talent on the YA scene and building quite a fan-base as we speak. I was intrigued by the reading of the blood in regards to genetically inherited talents, and the association of talents through both maternal and paternal name-giving. I am looking forward to King of Fools (Shadow Games #2). This series has a lot of potential.

Buy Ace of Shades at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.