Friday, 31 August 2018

#BlogTour Leo's War by Patricia Murphy


Today it's my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Leo's War by Patricia Murphy. It's historical fiction written for both younger and older readers, combining historical facts with a fictional family and scenario to inspire reading and to educate.
Don't miss the Giveaway at the bottom of the post! (Open to UK only)


About the Author
Patricia Murphy is the bestselling author of The Easter Rising 1916 – Molly’s Diary and Dan’s Diary – the War of Independence 1920-22 published by Poolbeg.

She has also written the prize-winning “The Chingles” trilogy of children’s Celtic fantasy novels.   Patricia is also an award winning Producer/Director of documentaries including Children of Helen House, the BBC series on a children’s hospice and Born to Be Different Channel 4’s flagship series following children born with disabilities. Many of her groundbreaking programmes are about children’s rights and topics such as growing up in care, crime and the criminal justice system. She has also made a number of history programmes including Worst Jobs in History with Tony Robinson for Channel 4 and has produced and directed films for the Open University.

Patricia grew up in Dublin and is a graduate in English and History from Trinity College Dublin and of Journalism at Dublin City University. She now lives in Oxford with her husband and young daughter.

Follow @_PatriciaMurphy @PoolbegBooks on Twitter
Buy Leo's War


About the book
It’s 1943 and young Leo tries to protect his disabled sister Ruby as the Nazis invade Italy.  After his mother is arrested, he turns to Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty to save them.  But he is no ordinary priest.  Known as ‘The Pimpernel of the Vatican’, the Monsignor is the legendary organizer of the Rome Escape Line.  Soon Leo is helping out with this secret network dedicated to saving the lives of escaped prisoners of war, partisans and Jews.  But as the sinister Nazi leader Kappler closes in on the network, can Leo and his sister stay out of his evil clutches?

Review
Murphy takes moments in history and creates a reading experience that simultaneously teaches and entertains. She combines real historical facts and people with a fictional storyline, but her fiction is kept as close to the real events as possible.

Leo is stuck in a precarious position in Italy, during a dangerous time for the child of someone in the Allied Forces. A boy of Jewish heritage, the brother of a disabled sister, and the son of a woman dealing in secrets. There were probably many Leo's or young boys with vulnerable sisters and missing parents, during World War 2. In that sense Leo plays a pivotal role and yet at the same time his story is synonymous with many others.

There are sets of scholastic books with a similar setting, however they tend to be short, factual and less of an engrossing read. I think the author wants readers, especially younger readers, to experience the emotional repercussions and the traumatic events on a more personal level. Instead of just being bombarded with facts, and being overwhelmed by the atrocities, the reader engages with Leo and is interested in his survival. In that sense the author achieves her goal, because it is hands on history.

One of the other elements of Leo's War is using bonafide historical figures and events, victims and heroes to solidify the story, and also to make people aware of the forgotten heroes in history. The people brave enough to resist oppression, to save the innocent and willing to die to free their country from fascist regimes. The forgotten voices and names in history.

One of those names and people is Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, a man known for his Catholic resistance to Nazism, and for saving over 6500 Jews and Allied soldiers. He used his connections, his fellow priests and the walls of the inner sanctum of the Vatican to save as many people as he could. He was known as 'The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican' and his cat and mouse games with the SS have become the subject of movies and books.

If, as an author, you can entice not only willing but also reluctant readers to read and to learn about history at the same time, then you have most definitely done your job. Would I buy this book to introduce a younger reader to the atrocities of the Nazi regime in Italy, the answer is yes. Murphy shows the turmoil, violence and danger without graphic details, and mass murder in a way that the reader acknowledges the horror, but isn't afraid to keep reading.

Leo's War is our history and the history of your descendants. Knowledge is power. It prepares future generations and makes them aware of the mistakes we shouldn't repeat. It's also a birdsong of resistance and rebellion.

Buy Leo's War at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Buy at Bookdepository Poolbeg Easons.com
Publisher: Poolbeg Books


Enter the Giveaway below to win a £30 Amazon Gift Voucher (Open to UK Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Terms and Conditions – Open to UK entries only.  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 dispatch or delivery of the prize.*

Thursday, 30 August 2018

The Burgas Affair by Ellis Shuman


Today it is my pleasure to feature The Burgas Affair by Ellis Shuman, which includes a fantastic Q&A with the author, info about the book and Ellis Shuman, and of course my review. Enjoy!
About the Author
Ellis Shuman was born in Sioux City, Iowa, and immigrated to Israel as a teenager. He completed high school in Jerusalem and served for three years in the Israeli army. Along with his wife, Jodie, he was a founding member of Kibbutz Yahel. After working for several years in the hotel industry, he today writes and edits online marketing content. In the years 2009 - 2010, his job was relocated to Sofia, Bulgaria.

Ellis’s writing has appeared in The Times of Israel, The Huffington Post, The Jerusalem Post, Israel Insider, and on a wide range of Internet websites. He is the author of a collection of short stories, The Virtual Kibbutz (2003) and two novels, Valley of Thracians (January 2013) and The Burgas Affair (October 2017).
Ellis lives with his wife, children, and grandchildren on Moshav Neve Ilan, outside Jerusalem. He writes about Bulgaria, Israel, books, travel, and the craft of writing on his blog:

Visit Ellis Shuman Writes ellisshuman.blogspot.com
Follow @ellisshuman on Twitter, ellisshumanauthor on Facebook or on Goodreads Ellis Shuman
Buy The Burgas Affair


About the book
She’s an Israeli data analyst. He’s a headstrong Bulgarian detective. Together they must track down those responsible for a horrific bombing.

In the wake of a deadly terrorist attack at Burgas Airport in Bulgaria, Israeli and Bulgarian intelligence agencies launch a joint investigation. Detective Boyko Stanchev on the police task force teams up with Ayala Navon, a young Israeli intelligence analyst on her first overseas assignment.
The two must establish whether the terrorists were assisted by a Bulgarian crime organization in laying the groundwork for the attack. It should be a routine investigation, but shadows of the past keep interfering.

Boyko’s interactions with a crime boss pursuing a vendetta against him threaten to throw him off track. Ayala’s pursuit of the terrorists and their accomplices brings up painful memories of a family tragedy.

Boyko and Ayala form a shaky alliance, one that evolves into growing cooperation and affection as they desperately race against time to uncover who was behind the Burgas bombing.
The Burgas Affair is a fictional account of the aftermath of a very real terrorist attack. On July 18, 2012, a deadly explosive rocked a tourist bus at Burgas Airport, killing five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver. The terrorists responsible for this murderous attack have never been brought to justice.


Q&A with Ellis Shuman
Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a few questions I call 'Breaking the Ice.' (readers love to get to know all about their favourite and new authors)

The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms would like to know)
The last book I read and thoroughly enjoyed was His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet, a historical thriller set in the Scottish Highlands of the 1800s. This is not the kind of book I usually read! I enjoy reading Israeli and Bulgarian fiction, when translated into English. And to pass the time on my train commute to work, I read suspense thrillers that are easy to put down, and even easier to forget.

Books or authors who have inspired you to put pen to paper?
When I particularly enjoy reading a book by an author, I will eagerly look for all the other books they have written. As a youth I read all the novels of Kurt Vonnegut. I have also read the books of John Irving and I have a bookshelf filled with all the works of Haruki Murakami.

Now let's talk about The Burgas Affair!

What was your inspiration for The Burgas Affair?
I was born in the United States but I have lived in Israel since I was a teenager. My entire adult life has been in Israel – serving in the Israeli army; being a founding member of a kibbutz; raising a family; and working in the hotel industry and in online marketing. Except for two years, when my job was relocated to Sofia, Bulgaria.

During the time I lived in Sofia, I fell in love with Bulgaria, with its culture, nature, history, and people. I realized that most Westerners have no knowledge of Bulgaria whatsoever. This is a shame, I thought, because there is so much to see and do in Bulgaria. Most of my writing these days, both fiction and non-fiction, is based on my experiences there. I hope that it will introduce people to the country and encourage them to visit.

The explosive and emotional beginning of the book is based on a real terrorist attack. Did you pick this one in particular because of the link between Israel and Bulgaria, and the parallels to your own life? (Perhaps not the attack, but the countries)
Having grown up in Israel where, unfortunately, suicide bombings and terrorist attacks are an ever-present security danger, I assumed Bulgaria to be a completely safe place to live. That is why the terrorist attack at Burgas Airport was so upsetting to me. I read every media report about the bombing and the investigation in its aftermath. I envisioned a joint Bulgarian-Israeli investigation and the end result was my novel, The Burgas Affair.

The blurb makes a point of reminding readers that no perpetrator has ever been punished for the attack in Burgas, unfortunately this happens far too often. Was it important to you to remind people of what appears to be a lack of interest in bringing certain criminals to justice depending on who is targeted?
The fact that no one was ever held accountable for the terrorist attack gave me quite a bit of creative leeway. I was able to imagine the things that would be investigated and I came up with a fictional motive for the attack. But, as in real life, my novel concludes with an ambiguous ending. In real life, not all crimes are solved. There are not always happy endings. This was what I wanted to express in my writing.

One of the things I enjoyed most about The Burgas Affair is the vivid imagery you create when it comes to the surroundings featured in the book. It is almost as if the reader is there in Bulgaria with the characters. Do you think readers connect better to a story when they have great visual prompts?
For me, the location of the story was almost as important as the plot. I envisioned the location (Bulgaria) as a character that had a role to play. Ayala had never previously been to Bulgaria and we see the country for the first time through her inquisitive eyes. If readers come away with a deeper understanding of Bulgaria, I will have achieved my goal.

The relationship between Boyko and Ayala is a driving force in The Burgas Affair. Why do they connect in such a strong way?
Both of the main characters in the novel are flawed individuals, troubled by traumas in their past. Boyko is a headstrong, haughty detective who prefers to work independently while Ayala, an inexperienced data analyst on her first assignment outside Israel, sees solving the case as a way to resolve her own personal matters. Their joint investigation changes them and their outlook on life. Hopefully for the better.

This is the most important question for readers. Is this a standalone novel or will we be seeing more of Ayala or Boyko again?
The ending of the novel leaves it open to a sequel. It is quite possible that Ayala and/or Boyko will return in my writing in the future!

Thank you for answering all my questions, even the odder ones!


Review
The book starts off with a brutal terrorist attack, which is based on a real terrorist attack that took place in July of 2012 at Burgas Airport. A bomb was placed and detonated on a bus, and the blast subsequently killed five Israelis and the Bulgarian bus driver. No one was ever held accountable for the attack or the deaths, which is unfortunately a tragic reality when it comes to terrorist attacks and also crimes in general. This means the loved ones who are left behind never get any closure let alone any kind of justice.

One of Shuman's strengths and indeed I would consider it a talent, is the way he describes the surroundings. The way he can evoke vivid imagery in the mind's eye of the reader. The reader sees and experiences Bulgaria through his words and emotional connection. It made me want to wander the streets and take in the history and architecture. Not every author can evoke that kind of response.

In a way I think Shuman has actually described the way the authorities may have gone about their investigation. The difficulty of cooperating with foreign agencies, whilst being burdened by the rules and bureaucracy of the country the attack happened in, and simultaneously trying to find justice for the victims.

Regardless of all of those obstacles Boyko and Ayala are drawn to each other, perhaps because of the differences between them. At times it felt as if the budding romance was distracting from the criminal investigation, however it did open up avenues for further collaborations between the two of them.

Shuman reels the reader in with a stunning and equally shocking first chapter. It is deceptively happy until the innocence is shattered within moments. Although I think there needs to be a better balance between the descriptive scenes and the dialogues, in a sense that the latter is sometimes a little disjointed, I think this unusual duo could make another appearance. Hopefully we will be reading more by Shuman in the future.

Buy The Burgas Affair at Amazon Uk, at Amazon com or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Follow @ellisshuman
Buy Valley of Thracians at Amazon Uk (debut novel) or at Amazon com
Buy The Virtual Kibbutz at Amazon Uk (short stories) or at Amazon com

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

The story starts with the main character digging in the middle of the woods, and the first thought is that she is the villain in this scenario. The author brings us back to the first scene at the end of the book for an exciting finale.

I found myself wincing at the naiveté Erin displayed throughout the story. Not exactly cut out to be an unscrupulous criminal and certainly not smart enough to understand that the buck stops with the one actually committing all the crimes. Her actions seem to be a contradiction to the intelligent woman interacting with hardcore prison inmates.

The relationship between Eddie and Erin plays a pivotal part in the story and I think it could have been explored a little more, perhaps at a later point in time in another story. Erin being beholden to Eddie puts everything into a completely new light.

The most important question of this story is whether or not the situation with the package would entice the majority of us to become spur of the moment criminals. What would you do? And is it a crime if everyone involved is dead?

Steadman captivates the reader with her opening chapter, and although there are some less convincing moments during the execution in the middle, she brings it all back together for an unexpected ending. I was pleasantly surprised by the read and expect a lot more from this author in the future.

Buy Something in the Water at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Uk
Follow @CatSteadman @simonschusterUK

Monday, 27 August 2018

Vox by Christina Dalcher

Vox is to the 21st century what 1984 was to the 20th century.

Let me start by saying that Vox should be compulsory reading material for everyone. Give it to them at school and let them learn the meaning of oppression, control and what happens when the bible-thumping patriarchal system not only takes society back to the dark ages, what happens when it takes it a lot further than that.

This book made me angry, so furious I had to put it down and come back to it multiple times. My inner rage was begging to punch some of the characters in the face. To hurt and annihilate them completely.

Let me also say that without a doubt if this ever became a reality I would fight tooth and nail to oppose this kind of regime, for myself, my daughters and every other woman in the world.

With that said please take note of the regimes already dictating this type of oppression towards the female gender in the 21st century. The oppression and persecution of same-sex couples and homosexuality. Don't ignore the laws being put into place or abolished in supposed democratic Western countries, that undermine women, gender equality and power over our own bodies. Be aware of so-called conservative political parties trying to control your life in the name of an imaginary power, and in the name of a book written by man for men.

I can't imagine a world where I am forbidden to speak more than 100 words a day. I mean sheesh I find it a challenge to cope with the minimal Twitter characters, let alone not speaking more than a 100 words a day. Or living in a world without being able to write, communicate or read whatever or whenever you want to. It's a complete horror scenario. Unfortunately it is also already a reality in many countries for women.

In the name of yourself, your daughters and granddaughters, insist on your place and your rights in this society and in the future.

Dalcher speaks from the bottomless pit of concern and fear the majority of us carry around with us. For some it will be forgotten in a goldfish moment, for others it will be buried in denial, but for the majority I hope this will be a warning and a call to arms.

The premise is a work of brilliance and also a shadow of foreboding, cast upon us by those who presume to know what is best for everyone often based on their own sense of self-importance and religious beliefs.

Buy Vox at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: HQStories, Harper Collins Uk, HQ
Pub. date: 21 August 2018 (Kindle) 23 August 2018 (Hardcover) 7 March 2019 (Paperback release)
Follow @CVDalcher @HQStories on Twitter
Visit christinadalcher.com


#BlogTour Blood Ribbon by Roger Bray


Today it's an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Blood Ribbon by Roger Bray. This time the author invites his readers along on a long murderous journey. Everyone has a secret to hide, right?


About the Author
I have always loved writing; putting words onto a page and bringing characters to life. I can almost feel myself becoming immersed into their lives, living with their fears and triumphs. Thus, my writing process becomes an endless series of questions. What would she or he do, how would they react, is this in keeping with their character? Strange as it sounds, I don’t like leaving characters in cliffhanging situations without giving them an ending, whichever way it develops.
My life to date is what compels me to seek a just outcome, the good will overcome and the bad will be punished. More though, I tend to see my characters as everyday people in extraordinary circumstances, but in which we may all find our selves if the planets align wrongly or for whatever reason you might consider.

Of course, most novels are autobiographical in some way. You must draw on your own experiences of life and from events you have experienced to get the inspiration. My life has been an endless adventure. Serving in the Navy, fighting in wars, serving as a Police officer and the experiences each one of those have brought have all drawn me to this point, but it was a downside to my police service that was the catalyst for my writing.

Medically retired after being seriously injured while protecting a woman in a domestic violence situation I then experienced the other side of life. Depression and rejection. Giving truth to the oft said saying that when one door closes another opens I pulled myself up and enrolled in college gaining bachelor and master degrees, for my own development rather than any professional need. The process of learning, of getting words down onto the page again relit my passion for writing in a way that I hadn’t felt since high school.

So here we are, three books published and another on track.

Where it will take me I have no idea but I am going to enjoy getting there and if my writing can bring some small pleasure into people’s lives along the way, then I consider that I will have succeeded in life.

Follow @rogerbray22 on Twitter
Connect with Roger Bray Books on Facebook
Visit rogerbraybooks.com
Buy Blood Ribbon


About the book
When Brooke Adams is found battered, bleeding, and barely conscious, the police are at a loss as to who her attacker is or why she was targeted. Then, PI Rod Morgan turns up convinced that Brooke’s attack is the latest in a string of unsolved disappearances dating back thirty-five years. The police, however, aren’t convinced, leaving Brooke and Rod to investigate the cases themselves. As secrets from the past start unravelling it becomes a maze, deeper, darker, and far more sinister than either of them could have imagined. Will they find Brooke’s attacker before he strikes again, or will that one secret stay buried forever?

Review
Brooke hasn't exactly had an easy life so far, and it seems as if the universe has decided she isn't entitled to her piece of happiness and peace. After finally establishing a home, a group of friends and embarking on a path toward a career, she becomes the victim of a brutal attack. Sheer luck is the only reason she isn't seven feet under, as her attacker intended.

She doesn't start out with the intention of finding the person who tried to kill her, and rather inadvertently is led to the horrific discovery that she is perhaps just one of many more innocent victims, but is convinced to take a closer look by a retired detective. A man who is driven by the need to find someone he believes to be a serial killer.

The investigation is nothing more than closure or a bit of trivia until things start to get personal for Brooke. Her past and the present collide, and put her in the middle of a cold case and a brand new murder.

Bray distracts his readers by pulling them in multiple directions at the same time. If his story teaches us anything at all, then it is to trust no one. No matter how friendly, helpful or polite they may seem. Sometimes the real monsters are hiding behind the most innocent of masks.

It's also a reminder of how many young men, women and children go missing and are never found again. A lot of them falling prey to the murderous deviants haunting our streets. The ones who will forever remain the missing.

Blood Ribbon is a fast-paced crime with elements of a psychological thriller. The main character is unfortunately an example of a perfect victim. The person no one looks for when they disappear, which means nobody knows they are gone. The perfect scenario for a killer, but a nightmare for the intended target.

The killer lurks in plain sight in this read, which is also often the case in real life. They don't have scary faces or come with daunting warning signs as they approach, which is why they and the killer in this story manage to kill over and over again.

It has echoes of Wambaugh, as Bray takes inspiration from certain real life scenarios and mixes them with his fictional killer who has a penchant for hair ribbons. It's a read that will keep you guessing or suspect every single person until the end.

Buy Blood Ribbon at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Paperback edition
Publisher: Undertow, Pub. date 10 Aug. 2018
Read my review of Psychosis by Roger Bray
Read my review of The Picture by Roger Bray


Sunday, 26 August 2018

#BlogTour Signs in the Rearview Mirror: Leaving A Toxic Relationship Behind by Kelly Smith


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Signs in the Rearview Mirror by Kelly Smith. It's an autobiographical account of her struggle to recognise and extract herself from an abusive relationship.


About the Author
Boston born and raised, Kelly now makes her home in Austin with her three sons and one amazing Giant Schnauzer Bullseye. Kelly has written for Huffington Post, blogs at Thoughts Becoming Words, and hosts a podcast, Lets Get Wicked Deep.

Follow @kellys_author @sunnydaypub on Twitter
Connect with Kelly Marie Smith, Author on Facebook
Visit thoughtsbecomingwords.com
Buy Signs in the Rearview Mirror


About the book
What kind of person ends up in a toxic relationship? And why does she stay? This searingly honest novel answers both those questions head-on. Coming out of a failing marriage, Kelly turns to Gabe out of fear of being alone. Her gradual slide into danger is at once terrifying and inevitable, and the steps she takes to get out of it will both inspire and offer hope.

Review
This is the story of Kelly Smith. It's an autobiographical account of her experiences in an abusive relationship, but it is also in a way an attempt to apologise for her own failings in her relationships.

It is incredibly hard to admit to your own mistakes or wrong paths taken in your life. Smith does so to a certain extent, but there is either an attempt to shield or a refusal to dive too deeply. I can understand both of those reasons. It's hard enough to share your mistakes with the world without opening up your soul,so complete strangers can have a good look around.

Shame, blame and guilt walk hand in hand with fear, anger and a sense of powerlessness when you end up in an abusive relationship, especially when you involve children in such a dangerous situation. You can't take back the impressions, the experiences or indeed the impactof experiencing or being around abuse has on a young mind. It's important to note, and the author does at the very beginning of this book, that this is the story from her perspective. Her children will have a completely different view on her choices and why she chose Gabe over her safety and their safety over and over again.

Abusive relationships are hard for outsiders to understand. There are a lot of misconceptions about why the abused stays and also the level of support there is depending on where you live.

I think it is very important to note that the author acknowledges, albeit in a less focused way, her own abusive behaviour towards her first husband. The way she treats the people she loves/loved is through her own frame of references. Her own references were determined by the volatile and loveless relationship with her own mother, and her father the alcoholic.

On a side note it's interesting that Smith holds fonder memories of the abusive drunk, and is more antagonistic towards the mother who lived with the abusive drunk. Has she inadvertently reproduced a scenario where she gives her children reason to dislike her choices, her narcissistic tendencies and indeed is herself the volatile verbally abusive person she saw in her own mother.

The author talks a lot about the how and why of ending up in a relationship with Gabe has been steered by her own sense of insecurity and lack of self-worth. For me this is closure. The end of this chapter in her life, and in a way the written word may make it more real and definitive for her. Kudos to the author for finally extracting herself from an abusive and damaging relationship, and for trying to comprehend the damage it caused. The most important thing is acknowledging and then being strong enough to cut the ties that bind.

I think it is commendable to try and break the cycle. To try and change the habits of a lifetime and to try and move forward. None of it is a guarantee that your loved ones will forgive or forget, but perhaps everyone can find a way forward.

The author needed to see the cycle to be able to break out of it and I hope she continues to search and grow from her epiphanies. It's an honest read, albeit a hard one at times.

Buy Signs in the Rearview Mirror at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Buy Signs in the Rearview Mirror at Amazon com
Paperback version Kindle version
Publisher: Sunny Day Publishing, Pub. date: April 2018


Friday, 24 August 2018

#BlogTour Somewhere Between the Silences by Lydia T. Kelly


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Somewhere Between the Silences by Lydia Kelly, Helen Rogers-Williams (Illustrator). It's a fast-paced psychological thriller with an unusual ending, which promises further encounters with Katy.


About the Author
Born and raised in Buckinghamshire, favourite book since I was 11 is Pride and Prejudice. Loved to write even as a child.Moved to Tenerife in 2014, came back to England in 2015 and gave birth to my beautiful son in February 2016.
Diagnosed with depression and anxiety in 2017, writing allows an enormous release, almost like slowly combing knots from your hair. Writing gives me a chance to express experiences that perhaps are too challenging to discuss outside of fiction.
Studying for a degree in English Literature, The Arts Past and Present, Spanish and Law, and work in a secondary school, mainly supporting children with special educational needs. Will get out of bed even if it’s 3am just to make n+ot+es of potential plots or character profiles.
Can never write one book at a time, currently in the middle of 4 (all due out by end of 2018):
A Poisoned Apple
The Wolf in Mine
A Single Mum’s Guide to Life (Dating, Depression and Down Right Disasters)
Ella’s not-so Fairytale

Follow @LydiaKelly3 on Twitter
Buy Somewhere Between the Silences


About the book
Somewhere Between the Silences is a short, sharp psychological thriller, revealing the sinister truth of what lengths one man will go to, to keep his secrets silenced. Katy Young was a radiant and out-going young woman in the prime of her life, longing for a new adventure with the man she loved. That was until Katy was involved in a hair-raising accident which caused seemingly irreversible damage to her memory; it now falls upon her adoring husband to revive those absent aspects of her past. To look at, Ryan Young is a stereotypical man in his thirties, works hard and clearly dotes upon his wife and their only son, Aaron. But, beneath the surface lurks a monster, capable of unimaginable destruction. Katy is well aware she does not exist in a regular marriage but how much of her past life has her husband repressed to keep control of his wife? Recommended for 18+ due to mature themes and sexual content.

Review
Imagine having a seemingly perfect life, with a husband and child, and yet somewhere in the back of your mind there is a niggle of doubt. A slither of suspicion weaving its way slowly through her entire body and mind. A lot of her suspicion is perhaps easily explained by the severe brain trauma and memory loss she suffered after a severe road traffic accident.

Her husband is increasingly violent during their sexual encounters, and rape is his idea of fun rough sex, which is obviously 'consensual' in his mind because they are married. Slowly buried memories start resurfacing, which calls everything she thinks is true into question, including the fact she is allegedly married to Ryan. Her questions and doubts put herself and others in danger. Rocking the boat is a bad idea when you are cast adrift in a sea of memory loss.

I adore the cover, (Illustrator - Helen Rogers-Williams), it is hauntingly beautiful and yet it doesn't seem to accurately reflect the content. Unless the roots and the branches of the tree are supposed to represent the memories buried deep inside Katy and the ones she cannot grasp or retrieve at all any more.

At times it is a little disjointed and as fuzzy as the memories Katy is trying to grab and hold on to. Where are all the people from her life before the accident, and the poor baby is almost an afterthought somewhere in the background. Less haste more details.

The ending leaves enough room for further ventures into this twisted game of control and obsession. Nothing is as it seems, and nobody is without blame in this situation. Will Katy ever get the peace and justice she deserves?

It's a fast-paced psychological thriller with an unusual ending, which promises further encounters with Katy.

Buy Somewhere Between the Silences at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.


Wednesday, 22 August 2018

#BlogTour The Glass Diplomat by S.R. Wilsher


Today It's my turn on the BlogTour for The Glass Diplomat by S.R. Wilsher. It's a story of political machinations, revenge, history and also one about love. You can also enter a Giveaway by commenting on this post to win 1 x Paperback copy of The Glass Diplomat  - (the Giveaway is open Internationally).


About the Author
'It didn’t occur to me to write until I was twenty-two, prompted by reading a disappointing book by an author I’d previously liked. I wrote thirty pages of a story I abandoned because it didn’t work on any level. I moved on to a thriller about lost treasure in Central America; which I finished, but never showed to anyone. Two more went the way of the first, and I forgave the author.

After that I became more interested in people-centric stories. I also decided I needed to get some help with my writing, and studied for a degree with the OU. I chose Psychology partly because it was an easier sell to my family than Creative Writing. But mainly because it suited the changing tastes of my writing. When I look back, so many of my choices have been about my writing.

I’ve been writing all my adult life, but nine years ago I had a kidney transplant which interrupted my career, to everyone’s relief. It did mean my output increased, and I developed a work plan that sees me with two projects on the go at any one time. Although that has taken a hit in recent months as I’m currently renovating a house and getting to know my very new granddaughter.

I write for no other reason than I enjoy it deeply. I like the challenge of making a story work. I get a thrill from tinkering with the structure, of creating characters that I care about, and of manipulating a plot that unravels unpredictably, yet logically. I like to write myself into a corner and then see how I can escape. To me, writing is a puzzle I like to spend my time trying to solve.' - S.R. Wilsher

Follow @SrWilsher


About the book
In 1973 Chile, as General Augusto Pinochet seizes power, thirteen-year-old English schoolboy Charlie Norton watches his father walk into the night and never return. Taken in by diplomat, Tomas Abrego, his life becomes intricately linked to the family.

Despite his love for the Abrego sisters, he’s unable to prevent Maria falling under the spell of a left-wing revolutionary, or Sophia from marrying the right-wing Minister of Justice.

His connection to the family is complicated by the growing impression that Tomas Abrego was somehow involved in his father’s disappearance.

As the conflict of a family divided by politics comes to a head on the night of the 1989 student riots, Charlie has to act to save the sisters from an enemy they cannot see.

Review
There is this side to Charlie, which I think is inherent in the majority of  journalists who live in or come from countries under a democratic rule, an almost childlike naiveté that their homeland rules and laws build an invisible shield around them and will keep them safe. Nothing could be further from the truth, and also one of the reasons many of them are murdered doing their jobs.

Journalists or just people in general, who live in countries governed by oppressive regimes and police states, know they have targets on their back when they speak out against said regimes. The voice of freedom, of rebellion and of justice comes with a heavy price.

Although Charlie is understandably driven by the unofficial death of his father, and the blatant theft of any property or wealth he had at the time of his disappearance, I think his sense for self-preservation is clouded by this pseudo familial attachment he has to the Abrego family. The truth is that when it comes down to the nitty-gritty everyone will look to save themselves and their loved own ones first.

In one of the chapters Charlie interviews a known rebel against the cause. Encarro's father is also a victim of the Chilean regime, which is probably the reason both men can lay their differences aside for a moment. Charlie asks him why the regime doesn't silence all of their opposition and critical voices, to which Encarro replies that the government needs to give the appearance that they allow some voices to criticise as long as they don't go too far. It gives the rest of the world the impression that they are indeed open to critical views, that the horror stories are merely propaganda, which in turn means the international world is satisfied and looks in the other direction.

The Chilean government has only recognised and admitted to their hand in the deaths and torture of over 40000 deaths, during the regime of the dictator Pinochet, including '88 children younger than 12 years old' from 1973 onwards. The real numbers are a lot higher and that doesn't account for the unaccounted disappeared victims or the the exiled. The military government of Chile committed systematic human rights violations, including, torture, rape and psychological damage, during the 17 year reign of Pinochet.

During his attempt to discover the truth and right some wrongs Charlie inadvertently sets a series of events in motion, which culminate in the most horrifying of consequences, but apparently one the head of the Abrego family is willing to accept.

This is stunning read, and one that may make you feel angry and powerless. As we look on as the same atrocities happen on our doorstep, which the Western world has often done and will probably always do. More concerned with our own profits and machinations to intercede on the behalf of the vulnerable. People are quick to forget mass-murder and genocide committed under our noses as I am writing this or only a few decades ago. Instead we point towards horrors a lot further back, perhaps in an attempt to negate the truth that power reigns supreme and always supersedes the right of the single human being.

It's a story of trauma, justice and also of love. It is also a story of culpability. Are your hands less dirty than the person doing the killing, if you are the one ordering it or more importantly enabling the murder? Or looking the other way whilst someone else is committing the atrocities?

I will leave you with this sentence from the book, which when considering the implications is truly an indication of the horror the people left behind experience on a loop for the rest of their lives.
'Disappeared is a much worse evil than death'

Buy The Glass Diplomat at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Buy The Glass Diplomat at Amazon Com

Enter the Giveaway by commenting on this post to win 1 x Paperback copy of The Glass Diplomat  - (the Giveaway is open Internationally).


You can also enter the Giveaway on the following blogs on this BlogTour:

lauramorningstar.com (22nd of August 2018) and bookreviewsbyjasmine.blogspot.com (23rd of August 2018)

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

#BlogTour The Benevolent Dictator by Tom Trott


It's my turn on the BlogTour for The Benevolent Dictator by Tom Trott. It's a clever little tongue-in-cheek political thriller with a very poignant message.

About the Author
Tom Trott was born in Brighton. He first started writing at Junior School, where he and a group of friends devised and performed comedy plays for school assemblies, much to the amusement of their fellow pupils. Since leaving school and growing up to be a big boy, he has written a short comedy play that was performed at the Theatre Royal Brighton in May 2014 as part of the Brighton Festival; he has written Daye's Work, a television pilot for the local Brighton channel, and he has won the Empire Award (thriller category) in the 2015 New York Screenplay Contest. He is the proverbial Brighton rock, and currently lives in the city with his wife.

Follow @tjtrott on Twitter
Connect with tomtrottbooks on Facebook
Visit tomtrott.com
Buy The Benevolent Dictator


About the book
Ben longs to be prime minister one day. But with no political connections, he is about to crash out of a Masters degree with no future ahead. So when by chance he becomes fast friends with a young Arab prince, and is offered a job in his government, he jumps at the chance to get on the political ladder.

Amal dreads the throne. And with Ben’s help he wants to reform his country, steering it onto a path towards democracy. But with the king’s health failing, revolutionaries in the streets, and terrorism threatening everyone, the country is ready to tear itself apart.

Alone in a hostile land, Ben must help Amal weigh what is best against what is right, making decisions that will risk his country, his family, and his life.

Review
Ben is a boy, filled with the naiveté of a well-educated young man, who believes he can change centuries of oppression merely by being present. No different from any other idealist or any other young person, who has yet to comprehend that the world does not revolve around his or her persona, desires and expectations in life.

Ben inadvertently ends up in the middle of a contentious political skirmish merely because his uni friend asks him to become his political advisor, and a friend in the midst of a nest of vipers.

There is an interesting TV series, which mirrors the true life events of a certain dictator and his son. A son who was raised and schooled amongst the most elite of the British regime. When said son returns with his democratic upbringing and thought processes he plans to change his country and the autocratic rule they have lived under for many decades. What happens instead is that the man raised with western values slowly but surely morphs into his own cultural values and into the dictator his father was before him.

Bearing in mind how different and complex the Western democracy is from non-democratic countries, it is almost colonial thinking that presumes to change these existing systems merely based on the audacity and presumptuous attitude of democracies deciding they need to change every country to reflect their values.

Not that I don't wish human, civil, basic rights and equal opportunities and safety for all genders in every country, it is just unrealistic and very Victorian to push it on unwilling populations, especially when there is a basic lack of understanding of different cultures.

Although Amal may have the best intentions he lacks the experience to comprehend the intricate political scheming going on around him and behind him. Lacking the objectivity and refusing to believe his situation as the heir is anything other than set in stone and tenable, he ignores the machinations going on around him.

Trott gives an accurate representation of why the democratic countries who think they can save countries under dictatorships or communist regimes either fail or end up making the situation worse. There is a lack of basic understanding of non-Western cultures. In this sense Ben represents the countries, who end up chasing their tail or being helicoptered out of war skirmishes, and leaving the stirred pot to their own devices and demise.

The title Benevolent Dictator is of course a paradox. A dictator is by virtue of the fact he or she decides everything for all of their people regardless of whether they like it or not, never benevolent. It's a clever little tongue-in-cheek political thriller with a very poignant message.

Buy The Benevolent Dictator at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.


Monday, 20 August 2018

#SpotlightTour Someone I used to Know by Patty Blount


Today it is my turn on the Spotlight Tour for this great book Someone I Used to Know by Patty Blount. It's an important story, the type we need to tell over and over again until everyone understands what rape culture is.

If you live in the US or Canada don't forget to enter the Giveaway for 2 Copies of Someone I Used to Know below - Runs August 7th -31st ( remember - US & Canada only)

About the Author
Powered by way too much chocolate, award-winning author Patty Blount loves to write and has written everything from technical manuals to poetry. A 2015 CLMP Firecracker Award winner as well as Rita finalist, Patty writes issue-driven novels for teens and is currently working on a romantic thriller. Her editor claims she writes her best work when she’s mad, so if you happen to upset Patty and don’t have any chocolate on hand to throw at her, prepare to be a subject of an upcoming novel. Patty lives on Long Island with her family in a house that sadly doesn’t have anywhere near enough bookshelves…or chocolate.

Follow @PattyBlount  @SourcebooksFire on Twitter
Connect with PattyBlountNovels on Facebook
Visit pattyblount.com
Buy Someone I used to Know


About the book
From the award-winning author of Some Boys comes an unflinching examination of rape culture that delves into a family torn apart by sexual assault.

It’s been two years since the night that changed Ashley’s life. Two years since she was raped by her brother’s teammate. And a year since she sat in a court and watched as he was given a slap on the wrist sentence. But the years have done nothing to stop the pain.

It’s been two years of hell for Derek. His family is totally messed up and he and his sister are barely speaking. He knows he handled it all wrong. Now at college, he has to come to terms with what happened, and the rape culture that he was inadvertently a part of that destroyed his sister’s life.

When it all comes to head at Thanksgiving, Derek and Ashley have to decide if their relationship is able to be saved. And if their family can ever be whole again.

Review
When you leave aside all the heightened hormone induced drama courtesy of the YA genre, you will find a deeply poignant, emotional and painful read. It'a a wake-up call for everyone, not just the male gender.

The majority of rapists are men, but let's not forget there are female perpetrators too. Following on from that particular train of thought let's also acknowledge male and child victims too. Statistics give us a harrowing view of how many women are raped, bearing in mind that there is a suggestion that over 90% of rapes go unreported because victims feel they won't be believed, fear the repercussions and often may not even comprehend it was rape.

There are less statistics on male on male rape, women-on-male and women-on-women rape, often because of the stigma attached to it and the firm belief no one will believe them, or even ridicule them. None of those facts minimise the reality that in their lifetime every girl or woman will experience some kind of sexual harassment, assault or molestation.

The story is timely because the Me Too and Time's Up movement is trying to break the wall of silence and dismissal. It is asking the sisterhood to stand up and support one another.

Blount takes an introspective look at the family dynamics of the victim's family, after the rape of a teenage girl. How the men in her family react and speak to, about and on the subject of her assault. In particular how one of her brothers has to come to terms with being part of the rape culture and a rape apologist, even going so far as to help her rapist get a lesser charge.

Kudos to the author for not letting the story be dominated by the rapist, by his presence, his experience or his thoughts on his actions. This is purely and simply about Ashley - the victim and the survivor.

The reader follows Ashley, as she is dealing with the physical and psychological scars of her rape. This includes the atrocious behaviour of her peers, her teachers and the people in town. We as a society must ask ourselves why we always blame the victim of a rape and seek to protect the rapist, especially when that rapist is a just a normal popular guy. Why do whole towns protect frat boys, football players and good ol' boys, and blame and hound the victim, because hey gang-raping girls for fun is completely normal right?

While I am on the subject the law also needs to stop allowing lawyers and judges to present the sexual past of a victim, so they can imply any history of sexual activity equates to them being a whore and a liar. The rapists aren't subjected to the same scrutiny in the courtroom, why are the victims?

It is painful read at times, full of fear and anger. The author doesn't want the reader to feel sympathy, but rather an empathy towards Ashley and women like her. More importantly this is a call to arms for boys and men. It's a shout-out to make them acknowledge and comprehend rape culture, and to intervene and speak up when someone is crossing the line. Even the verbal line, the one that suggests and encourages the next move.

It's an important story, the type we need to tell over and over again until everyone understands what rape culture is. Parents need to raise their sons to respect and to understand consent. We need to teach all our children both boys and girls. It should be part of the school curriculum.

Buy Someone I used to Know at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Buy at Amazon com Barnes & Noble BooksaMillion !ndigo IndieBound
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Enter the Giveaway below to win 2 Copies of Someone I Used to Know - Runs August 7th -31st (US & Canada only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke


In a small town in Eastern Texas the body of white woman and black lawyer from Chicago are found. The presumption is that Michael killed the poor white girl, and hey he must be guilty because he is black and in the same tiny town, hence him also ending up dead.

Darren Matthews, a black Texas Ranger, is asked to take a look into the situation, despite being on suspension, and ends up in a nest full of racists with no regard for his authority. Darren puts his life on the line to discover the truth, in a town living in the past ruled by men with secrets and men who believe being black equates to being sub-human.

Considering the rise of racial tensions in America in the last few years this story is quite poignant. When I say rise I think the correct term would be a resurfacing and less denial of the racial problems in the States. Issues, which have always existed, but the inhabitants and the media like to downplay and minimise. Now black people are standing up and roaring their outrage loud enough for the world to hear.

Reading the reality of the racial tension and segregation suggests that nothing has changed since the days of Jim Crow laws, and how can they when racist institutions like the KKK are accepted under the guise of freedom of speech and democracy. A complete paradox when white supremacists call for discrimination, oppression and lack of freedom for any person who isn't white.

It is hate speech, hate crimes and a perfect example of autocratic rule. Racists do not really understand democracy, you can't advocate for the opposite of that political system, and yet want to profit from the freedoms that come with democracy at the same time.

Locke incorporates important civil rights issues in this well-written story about racism and hatred. She is definitely an author to keep an eye out for.

Buy Bluebird, Bluebird at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Serpent's Tail
Follow @atticalocke @serpentstail
Visit atticalocke.com

Friday, 17 August 2018

The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts

I think the reason this book is getting a lot of hype and is so popular is the fact the author doesn't sugar-coat the reality of dating and hook-ups.

In the real world there are no unicorns, candy-floss moments or the handsome prince riding up on his white stallion as the bluebirds twitter around the singing princess.

The reality is coarse, brutal, embarrassing and full of moments best buried in the deep recesses of our minds. Sometimes finding the perfect man or the perfect man for that moment in time means snogging, or in Polly's case other extracurricular activities, a few frogs along the way.

Polly looks for her plus one in all the wrong places when the truth is he might be closer than she thinks, but she is too busy hobknobbing with the upper class to notice.

The Plus One is both funny and sad at the same time. The author captures the desires and hopes of Polly perfectly. She isn't a model or an heiress, she is just a normal working girl looking for someone who loves her for who she is, and not who he would like her to be.

It's witty, modern and often tongue-in-cheek in certain scenarios, but it is also heartfelt and full of warmth.

Buy The Plus One at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: HQStories, Harper Collins UK
Pub. date: 9 August 2018
Follow: @sophiamcoutts @HQStories


#BlogTour Do No Harm by L.V. Hay


It's my turn on the BlogTour for Do No Harm by L.V. Hay. This author is known for her out of the box sneaky plots, which means no matter how innocent the character may appear to be - they might just be a secret psychopath executing a nefarious plan.
About the Author
Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin (2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters' Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow-up Drama Screenplays. Her critically acclaimed debut thriller The Other Twin was published in 2017. She lives in Devon with her husband, three children, six cats and five African Land Snails.
Follow @LucyVHayAuthor  and @Orendabooks on Twitter
Visit lucyvhayauthor.com
Buy Do No Harm
About the book
If I can’t have you … nobody can.
After leaving her marriage to jealous, possessive oncologist Maxwell, Lily and her six-year-old son have a second chance at happiness with headteacher Sebastian. Kind but vulnerable, Sebastian is the polar opposite of Maxwell, and the perfect match for Lily. After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and that’s when things start to go wrong…
Maxwell returns to the scene, determined to win back his family, and events soon spiral out of control. Lily and Sebastian find themselves not only fighting for their relationship, but also their lives…
Chilling, dark and terrifying, Do No Harm is a taut psychological thriller and a study of obsession, with a killer twist that you will never see coming.

Review
I know that Hay has a devious mind, so I can't help but instinctively look at everyone as if they are a suspect, and I mean everyone. This author is known for her out of the box sneaky plots, which means no matter how innocent the character may appear to be - they might just be a secret psychopath executing a nefarious plan. No one is free from suspicion, not even Denny. Yeh, I know he is only six years old.

Hay has created a monster - the sceptical reader.

Lily has found love with Sebastian, a man who loves her and her young son. The only thorn in her side is her manipulative ex-husband Maxwell. No matter where she looks he is always there lurking in the shadows, then again so is her new mother-in-law. Perhaps Lily is just scarred and a little tainted from her time with her controlling ex.

The plot surrounding the ex-husband is timely, because the UK has finally introduced new laws that make controlling and coercive behaviour illegal. At times Lily's behaviour may seem exaggerated and overly sensitive, but if you have ever experienced a controlling partner then you will know where she is coming from. Control is the most important aspect of this type of abusive relationship, and having children with an abusive partner means a lifelong game of manipulative control, even if both of you have new partners.

When Denny starts to exhibit signs of emotional distress, and a series of volatile incidents suggest that Maxwell is trying to create a wedge between the new couple and his son. That's when things start to get dangerous.

Hay does not disappoint with the devious twist at the end. As expected it is completely messed up and a wee bit wicked. I enjoy the fact she doesn't feel the need to present the perfect or happy ending. The truth comes way out of left field and the worst part is that a part of it remains hidden in the shadows, jut waiting for a new chance to pounce. Hay enjoys misleading her readers and leading them up the garden path, the result is always a captivating read.

Buy Do No Harm at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Orenda Books


Read my review of The Other Twin by L.V. Hay
Publisher: Orenda Books (orendabooks.co.uk)