Saturday, 29 September 2018

#BlogTour False Witness by Michelle Davies


Today it is my pleasure to finish off the fabulous BlogTour for False Witness by Michelle Davies. It is the type of psychological thriller that makes you take sides and ponder the question of guilt and punishment.


About the Author
Michelle Davies was born in Middlesex in 1972, raised in Buckinghamshire and now lives in north London.

Her debut crime novel, Gone Astray, was published in Hardback in March 2016 and features Family Liaison Officer DC Maggie Neville as its central police character. The paperback version is due for publication on 20th October 2016. Gone Astray was part of a two-book deal with Pan Macmillan and the follow-up, Wrong Place, also featuring DC Neville, is due for release on 27th February 2017.

When she's not turning her hand to crime, Michelle writes as a freelance journalist for women's magazines including Marie Claire, Essentials, YOU and Stylist. Her last staff job before going freelance was as Editor-at-Large at Grazia and she was previously Features Editor at heat. She began her career straight from school at 18, working as a trainee reporter on her home-town newspaper, the Bucks Free Press.

Follow @M_Davieswrites @panmacmillan on Twitter

About the book
7.15am: Two children are seen on top of a wall in a school. 
Shortly later one of them lies fatally injured at the bottom. 
Did the boy fall or was he pushed?

As a family liaison offer, DC Maggie Neville has seen parents crumble under the weight of their child’s death. Imogen Tyler is no different. Her son’s fall was witnessed by the school caretaker, a pupil is under suspicion, and Imogen is paralysed by grief and questions.
For Maggie, finding the truth is paramount if she is to help the mother. But as she investigates, further doubts emerge and the truth suddenly seems far from certain. Could the witness be mistaken about what happened, and if he is, then who is responsible? And how far will they go to cover up the boy’s death?
False Witness by Michelle Davies is the gripping third novel in the critically acclaimed Maggie Neville series, following Gone Astray and Wrong Place.

Review 
In the UK there is a notorious and very tragic case, which involves children killing children. Although this is less graphic and painful to read it does bring up the same topics of age, guilt and punishment. There is a legal age when a child becomes culpable and punishable by law, despite that the public views crimes by children differently.

Our brains aren't fully developed till about mid 20's, does that mean a child isn't aware of right and wrong? When are they able to distinguish between crime and just rough play? In this story two children go up on a wall and only one comes down. Was the boy pushed or did he slip? Is it just an accident or was Poppy fully capable of making the decision to harm Benji? Was it just an emotional reflex or are we talking calculated?

Can you really isolate a child from family, peers and society and expect them to turn out anything other than damaged property. Or are there crimes that are so indefensible that there is no other choice but to do that. Not every child who commits a criminal act has a psychopathy.

One of the other interesting aspects of this story is the way the author portrays the influence social media and the media has on these kind of cases. Families and children are vilified without facts or evidence. They are tried, quartered and hung via comments before even stepping into a court room, which means there is no such thing as an objective view on the situation.

Davies presents both sides of this difficult scenario to create an emotional and gripping read. In the end the waters are so muddied that there is no clear answer. Why? It's a child that's why, which means the brain says one thing, whilst the heart and body can say or do a completely different thing.

It's a read which will make people discuss, and I can imagine even argue at times. Perhaps because there is no clear cut answer to these types of incidents or crimes, and each case is individual. Either way it is a gripping read.

Buy False Witness at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Pan MacMillan


#BlogBlitz A Laughing Matter of Pain by Cynthia Hilston


It's Publication Day for A Laughing Matter of Pain by Cynthia Hilston. It's a tale of struggle and determination to come back from devastating mistake and addiction.


About the Author
Cynthia Hilston is a thirty-something-year-old stay at home mom of three young kids, happily married. Writing has always been like another child to her. After twenty years of waltzing in the world of fan fiction, she finally stepped away to do her debut dance with original works of fiction. Hannah's Rainbow: Every Color Beautiful is her first original novel. She's currently working on more books. Visit her website for more information.

In her spare time - what spare time? - she devours books, watches Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, pets her orange kitty, looks at the stars, and dreams of what other stories she wishes to tell.

Follow @cynthiahilston on Twitter


About the book
Harry Rechthart always knew how to laugh, but laughter can hide a lot of pain that’s drowned by the bottle and good times. He grew up the joker in the early 1900s in Cleveland, Ohio, but as he enters adulthood, conflict splits him. His once close relationship with his brother, Erik, breaks as they come into their own and Erik goes off to college. No longer under Erik’s shadow, Harry feels he might finally shine and make others see him as someone to be proud of. Harry finds an unlikely comrade who understands how he feels–his younger sister, Hannah. Once free of high school, Harry and Hannah double date sister and brother, Kat and Will Jones, attending wild, extravagant parties during the years of Prohibition. Harry thinks he’s won at life–he’s found love in Kat, in a good time, and in the bottle. But all the light goes out fast when Harry’s alcoholism leads to disastrous consequences for him and Kat.

Harry thinks the joke’s on him now that he’s sunk lower than ever. He’s in jail. He’s pushed away his family. He’s a broken man, but in the darkest depths of a prison cell, there is hope. Can Harry rebuild his life and learn that true laughter comes from knowing true joy, or will he bury himself once and for all in this laughing matter of pain?

Review
This is a story about how alcoholism can destroy lives. Not just the the life of the alcoholic, but also that of their loved ones and the people around them. It is also the story of the hard walk of sobriety.

What Harry likes to do throughout the story is lay the blame at different doors. His older brother is too perfect and successful, and Harry can't live up to it. His eldest sister is too busy being an adult, his younger sister is too busy being a child. The only sibling he connects and has a bond with is Hannah, and in the end he rejects her too for caring and loving him. His parents expect him to be responsible, keep his life together and grow up. I mean, come on that's just too much pressure for one man, right.

Now that may seem like a harsh comment, but the truth is that even the smallest source of pressure, stress or anxiety can be a trigger for a person with addiction problems.

It's really interesting to note how his addiction sneaks up on him, in fact he isn't even aware that he has a problem until he ends up behind bars. His sister Hannah knows, but she enables and helps him to hide it from the rest of the family. In the end his realisation comes after a lot of soul-searching in prison, and yet he still lacks a certain acknowledgement of culpability.

During his time in prison he meets an inmate who offers him a lifeline when he gets out, so it isn't his own family he turns to after years of imprisonment - it's a stranger.

The author shows the reality of his addiction, which isn't always triggered by dramatic events by the way. An alcoholic always wants to drink, it is always the inner voice whispering into your ear, regardless of where you are or what you are doing. The question is whether you can learn to control the urge or not, an internal and eternal urge. I think that is something many people struggle to understand though, that addiction never leaves you and there is always the possibility of falling off the wagon. Kudos to those who manage sobriety, especially when they are confronted with their addiction of choice on a regular basis.

It's a tale of struggle and determination to come back from a devastating mistake and addiction. It is a story of what family is to some of us, and that it sometimes isn't defined just by blood. Hilston wants her readers to see that with support there is a possibility of redemption and a new life.

Buy A Laughing Matter of Pain at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Buy A Laughing Matter of Pain at Amazon com

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

Picoult doesn't shy away from difficult topics or from premises which have the sole purpose of making readers think, talk to and engage with each other. Combined with her excellent writing skills, this is why she is such a popular author.

There is an active shooter in an reproductive health clinic. He isn't interested in the hostages and their personal stories, he just wants an eye for an eye, or perhaps a few eyes for an eye. The hostage negotiator finds out during the negotiations that the shooter has already killed, is willing to kill more people, and that his daughter and sister are two of the hostages.

Every type of situation and woman from both sides of the argument are represented. Not every woman in a sexual health clinic is there for an abortion, which is only a small part of reproduction and women's health. The staff of these clinics and the patients have to run the gauntlet of well-meaning, at least in their opinion, often aggressive and sometimes hypocritical protesters to enter these clinics to be treated. When I say hypocritical I mean the stance of pro-life women who need and get an abortion, then return to protesting against another woman's right to choose.

The greatest paradox is pro-lifers insulting, assaulting, bombing clinics and killing people in reproductive clinics. People who believe that the life of an embryo or foetus supersedes the rights of the woman carrying them. People who believe in the sanctity of life condone killing in the name of their cause.

This book is about one of the most controversial topics and is especially relevant at this moment in time, as abortion laws are being redefined and challenged. It's like two speeding trains moving towards each other on a collision course, as pro-lifers try to take abortion laws back into the middle-ages and pro-choicers are trying to get women the rights they deserve. As I write this the Republicans are trying skew the decision making of the Supreme Court by giving a lifetime appointment to a judge who will most likely tip the scales in favour of overturning Roe vs Wade. (In the back of the book Picoult references some of the narrow-minded abortion laws Mike Pence has been trying to box through in the last few years)

I have to absolutely give the author her dues for presenting both sides of the argument in a calm non-judgemental manner. There is no sway on her part towards either side, and she presents the positive and negative of both pro-life and pro-choice. Right down to the physical medical details and the often convoluted reasoning that comes with this emotional topic.

It is statistically proven that when the laws on abortion become more stringent they do not reduce the number of abortions, instead the amount of women and young girls risking their lives with illegal and dangerous procedures rises. Contraception isn't 100% fail-safe, albeit often because of human error, and celibacy is a nonsensical demand.

Although they demand to control the reproductive decisions of all women, echoing elements of The Handmaid's Tale, the pro-lifers aren't standing in line to adopt unwanted babies and children. They aren't taking foster children into their homes, because this is just about the patriarchal system controlling women and religious beliefs controlling the choices women can make. Why would you insist that a woman give birth to the product of rape? Why would you demand a child burdened with the product of incest give birth? Why would you force any woman to relinquish control of her body?

How about we make vasectomies mandatory for men as soon as they have fathered a certain number of children? Or thinking like a pro-lifer, let's demand each male be subject to a set of laws which determines and controls their reproductive health. What's good for the goose is good for the gander, right?

I will be recommending this book not only because it is a good read, but because it presents the whole picture including the facts and scenarios both sides think are important and those they refuse to acknowledge. It's one of those books I could go on and on about, which is always a sign of a great read. All I can say is once again Picoult touches on the most emotive topics and engages her readers with undeniable expertise.

Buy A Spark of Light at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, Pub. date. 30 October 2018
Follow @jodipicoult @HodderBooks
Visit jodipicoult.com

Sunday, 23 September 2018

#BlogTour Costa Del Churros by Isabella May


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Costa del Churros by Isabella May. It's an eye-opening view of ex-pats and a tongue-in-cheek parody of a variety of women, who connect and help each other in the strangest of ways. Don't forget to enter the Giveaway to win a signed copy of The Cocktail Bar (Open Internationally)

About the Author
Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing. As a co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls – www.theglasshousegirls.com – she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One). She has recently become a Book Fairy, and is having lots of fun with her imaginative ‘drops’! Costa del Churros is her third novel with Crooked Cat Books, following on from the hit sensations, Oh! What a Pavlova and The Cocktail Bar.

Follow @IsabellamayBks @crookedcatbooks on Twitter
IsabellaMayAuthor on Facebook isabella_may_author on Instagram
Visit isabellamayauthor.com
Buy Costa del Churros


About the book
The rain in Spain doesn't mainly fall on the plain…
Brits abroad Belinda, Julia, Laura and Georgina need more than the sweetness of churros with chocolate dipping sauce to save them from their unsavoury states of affairs.
Cue Carmen Maria Abril de la Fuente Ferrera, the town's flamboyant flamenco teacher! But can she really be the answer to their prayers?
One thing's for sure: the Costa del Sol will never be the same again.

Review
Leaving aside the often blinkered view and colonial attitude of ex-pats for a moment, there is also a strange phenomenon which occurs when they come in contact with each other. Regardless of background, education, socio-economic status or type of character they are, as ex-pats they have one thing in common and that is the thing they grasp onto for dear life.

The sense and feeling of having something in common, the element that binds them and makes them different from the locals. Not that a lot of them don't bond with the natives or try to integrate into their new country of choice, although I am not sure it can be called integration when they create small home countries away from home.

It is this essence of a geographical link, which first brings the women together. Then as the unusual friendships blossom it is the similarity of their problems and sorrows as women which brings them closer. It also allows each one of them to move on instead of treading water on the same spot, as they have been doing for many years.

The reason they suddenly find themselves in a position to take back their lives to enjoy hidden desires and discover a world beyond the framework laid out for them by others, is quite simply Carmen. The flamenco dancer, who might possibly be a mixture of an exotic genie and a vague predictor of truths and fortunes.

May reminds us that, despite our differences women all share similarities on a basic level, and perhaps we should remember that sometimes. Instead of judgement there should be support, and it is never too late for new beginnings.

It's an eye-opening view of ex-pats and a tongue-in-cheek parody of a variety of women, who connect and help each other in the strangest of ways. It's empowering in the quirkiest of ways. In fact let's all take up Flamenco dancing.

Buy Costa del Churros at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books

Enter the Giveaway below – to Win a signed copy of The Cocktail Bar (Open Internationally) 

Giveaway Prize:


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

Friday, 21 September 2018

#BlogBlitz The Tainted Vintage by Clare Blanchard


Today It is my pleasure to take part in the Blog Blitz for The Tainted Vintage by Clare Blanchard. It's the last day of this fantastic Blitz! It's an interesting blend of crime and mystery combined within the historical context of the Nazi regime.


About the Author
Originally from the North Yorkshire coast in England, Clare Blanchard spent half her lifetime in the Czech Republic, where her books are mainly set. Inspired by Nordic noir, where the settings are often like another character in the plot, she writes crime mysteries and other fiction, usually with a historical twist. She loves beautiful landscapes and architecture, cross-country skiing, the wine of South Moravia, and of course Czech beer. When she’s not being literary she knits funky socks.

Follow @CBcrime @fahrenheitpress in Twitter
Connect via the Amazon Author page or ClareBlanchardBooks on Facebook
Visit clareblanchard.com
Buy The Tainted Vintage


About the book
In the small Czech town of Vinice the mayor has been found dead in his wine cellar.

Detectives Jana Dvorska and Ivan Dambersky are called to the scene and soon realise that despite appearances, Mayor Slansky’s death was most definitely not from natural causes.

Almost immediately, the close-knit community closes ranks to try and brush the unexplained death under the carpet with the minimum of fuss.

Dvorska & Dambersky are drawn deeper and deeper into secrets that many hoped would remain buried forever and they’re forced into pursuing an investigation where their own lives are put in danger.

The Tainted Vintage is the first book in a wonderful new series set in and around The Czech Republic, an area rich in history, literature and culture that still remains largely unexplored by contemporary crime fiction fans.

Review
The plot brings a dark period of history into play, yet another one without any reparation for the victims of the Nazi regime. It also has a side plate of audacity to add to the atrocities. Only very few were lucky enough to survive and return. They returned assuming they would be able to return to their homes, their belongings and the towns or villages they grew up in.

Imagine a second onslaught after surviving the indescribable. Imagine someone stealing everything you own on top of helping to annihilate your family, and still trying to make a life for yourself in a place surrounded by people who want you gone.

Dvorska and Dambersky are thrown into the deep end of an investigation that the upper echelon want to keep quiet and definitely don't want anyone to peg as a murder. The deeper the two of them dig the more worrying details they uncover. The kind of secrets that are buried for a reason.

In the middle of the book Blanchard does something unexpected, which left me a little bit confused. I checked the title of the series, read the passage again and just had to trust the author knew what she was doing. The kind of plot-twist you just don't see coming.

This is just the beginning of some really disturbing revelations and a premise which will flow into the next book in the series. Dvorska is smack bang in the middle of it and will definitely need the support of Dambersky to deal with the past.

It's an interesting blend of crime and mystery combined within the historical context of the Nazi regime. It proves that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree and a rotten core can be nurtured into something even more evil.

Buy The Tainted Vintage (Dvorska & Dambersky #1) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Buy The Tainted Vintage on Amazon com On Kobo Barnes & Noble
Publisher: Fahrenheit Press, Pub.date July 2018


Wednesday, 19 September 2018

#BlogTour Death Dolls by Simon Farrant


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour of Death Dolls by Simon Farrant. Be prepared to be a wee bit worried about your local butcher and any leather products you buy. It's horror with a tendency towards the gory.


About the Author
I am an emerging author, a submission to a short story anthology kicked it all off. Black Cat is my first short story, and the hero isn’t maybe who you would assume.

Originally from Doncaster, South Yorkshire and now Corby in Northants. I’m in my forties, married with three children. We share our home with a Bengal cat and a Pink Tongued Skink.

I’ve been lucky enough to have had an interesting (well to me!) life. I have been a truck driver, university graduate and motorbike salesman amongst other things.

My two novellas, Newdon Killers series, The Crucifix and Famously Ordinary are out now!
The third book, Death Dolls is coming soon estimated launch date 22 August.
Later this year a new series in a different genre Mystery / contemporary fantasy will be published.

Sign up here to receive my newsletter
Follow @asfarrant on Twitter or SimonFarrantOfficial on Facebook
Buy Death Dolls


About the book
Benjamin McGuinness fulfils his dream of establishing successful businesses and gives jobs with a new home to some of life’s misfits, deep in the English countryside on a farm. Everything seems perfect and his workers are as close as family.

A fire strikes close to home, a disaster that changes his perception of life and one of his loyal workers takes the chance to propose a life-changing venture.

This new business drags Lisa, his sister, into the deadly web of deception.

When exiled Russian twins join the family a symbolic tattoo is created that drives Benjamin’s money into a new league. Benjamin knows that his future is defined by ‘the family’.

Will greed cause everything to crumble before his eyes, or will there be brutal consequences to their actions?

Review
This is creepy horror with gruesome details, which reminds me don't eat anything while reading it. I had to put my chocolate down, and that doesn't happen often. Be prepared to be a wee bit worried about your local butcher and any leather products you buy from this point forward.

Benjamin McGuinness hires someone to help run his tattoo parlour, who in turn introduces him to some people with plenty of unusual ways to expand his business and make him a profit. Greed makes him throw out any semblance of common sense, as he is drawn into a quagmire of crime and murder.

My major concern is that Farrant has left me with a conundrum. The characters are pretty convincing, so convincing when it comes to the marketability and possible profit margin that I am unsure if it is just a random premise. I want to know whether the human leather thing is legal, but refuse to google it, because then it will be in my browser history. Fast forward to my arrest for researching the legality of human leather. Now I know why curiosity killed the cat.

Given a wee bit more polish I think this author will create his mark. The creativity and ideas are tenfold, they are disturbing and lean towards the more murderous side of the genre. The writing and dialogue just need honing. Pun totally intended.

horror with a tendency towards the gory. I am a little worried about where this series may go next, however I am sure the author will come up with something equally disconcerting as this premise. It's not for the faint-hearted or those readers who have difficulty discerning fiction from reality. Simon Farrant - giving readers trust issues on a daily basis. Just kidding.

Buy Death Dolls (Newdon Killers #3) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Buy The Crucifix (Newdon Killers #1)
Buy Famously Ordinary (Newdon Killers #2)
Publisher: Farrant Fiction, Pub. date 22 Aug. 2018


Tuesday, 18 September 2018

#BlogTour Silencing Anna by Sadie Mitchell


It's my turn on the BlogTour for Silencing Anna by Sadie Mitchell. It's a psychological thriller with a focus on domestic abuse. It's a tense emotional read and a warning in a world full of duplicitous charmers and abusers who go unpunished.


About the Author
This is Sadie’s first novel. She has three children and and a rabbit. She works in healthcare. When she’s not writing or working most of her life seems to involve picking up toys and finding things she’d forgotten she has.

Follow @sadiedmitchell @3ppublishing1 on Twitter
Connect with @SadieMitchellAuthor on Instagram on Facebook
Visit sadiemitchellauthor.wordpress.com
Buy Silencing Anna


About the book
Voices surround Anna as she lies on her hospital bed, but she cannot answer them. Her voice has been taken, along with her mobility and her sight. She can hear the nurses chattering and her family that come to visit. Her mum cries a lot and her dad struggles to deal with what he sees. Life used to be good for Anna, but life can change in a heartbeat, as she knows so well.
And then there are the people we think we know. When the smile hides the anger. When the beauty hides the beast.
Only Anna knows the truth, but Anna cannot speak.

Review
Stories about domestic abuse are always emotional and can be hard to read. The hope is that even the fictional ones will encourage victims to recognise the abuse, to speak out and to get help.

Anna is trapped in her own body with no physical ability to communicate with anyone. Her devastating injuries have left her in limbo. She can hear and have inner dialogue with herself, but she is unable to tell anyone what really happened. Her boyfriend James has been identified as a violent abuser who deserves to be sat in jail for assault.

James is quite typical for an abuser, it's always the victim who is at fault and he goes as far as to malign her name to shift the blame. This type of abuser often has one face for the victim and another for everyone else. The charmer becomes the violent controlling aggressor, whilst convincing outsiders that he is a friendly loving guy.

He has previous relationships with supposedly violent women, which means his friends and family tend to support and believe him. It also means they are more likely to believe any scenario he presents to them.The contradiction is the way he manipulates, controls and isolates Anna.

One of the interesting questions which arises in this premise is whether omitting the truth is the way to get justice. Does the violence and abuse justify this silent form of vigilantism? It may only be a passing thought or hidden under the guise of karma, but does it make the victim as guilty as the perpetrator?

Sometimes you have to fight dirty when your opponent will go to any length to bring you down. Forget two wrongs don't make a right, when the abusers tend to hold all the legal cards and the reality is there is no protection from a person who has the law on their side the majority of the time.
Mitchell brings an interesting twist to the table. The kind of moral twist that makes the reader want to protect the victim, but at the same time rid the world of the abuser. Is saving the life of many worth the life of one?

It's a tense emotional read, especially in regards to the Anna being entombed in her own body. A warning in a world full of duplicitous charmers and abusers who go unpunished.

Buy Silencing Anna at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Buy at 3ppublishing
Publisher: 3P Publishing, Pub. date July 2018


Monday, 17 September 2018

#BlogTour Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek and Dave Philpott


Today it's my turn on the absolutely colossal Blogtour for Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek and Dave Philpott. A collection of hilarious letters to iconic pop and rock stars with fantastic in-on-the-joke replies from the artists themselves: Eurythmics, Heaven 17, Deep Purple, Devo, Dr. Hook and many, many more…Don't miss the fantastic Q&A and my review!


About The Philpotts
Derek and Dave Philpott are the noms de plume of two ordinary members of the public, working with help from a worldwide social networking community.

Follow @DerekPhilpott @unbounders on Twitter
Facebook/ThePhilpotts
Buy Dear Mr Pop Star


About the book
For more than a decade, Derek Philpott and his son, Dave, have been writing deliberately deranged letters to pop stars from the 1960s to the 90s to take issue with the lyrics of some of their best-known songs. They miss the point as often as they hit it.

But then, to their great surprise, the pop stars started writing back...

Dear Mr Pop Star contains 100 of Derek and Dave's greatest hits, including correspondence with Katrina and the Waves, Tears for Fears, Squeeze, The Housemartins, Suzi Quatro, Devo, Deep Purple, Nik Kershaw, T’Pau, Human League, Eurythmics, Wang Chung, EMF, Mott the Hoople, Heaven 17, Jesus Jones, Johnny Hates Jazz, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, Chesney Hawkes and many, many more.


Q&A with The Philpotts
Tell us a little bit about Derek and Dave Philpott (keeping your 007 noms de plume alive and kicking here!) The most obvious question is where did the inspiration for this book come from?
It's basically my dad's total ignorance of pop music. He would say the most remarkable things about songs that came on the radio and that I played at home. His lack of knowledge allowed a surreal take on lyrics that an impassioned music fan would bypass. For example, where you or I would listen to Lady Gaga singing ‘’How’d I turn my shirt inside out?’’ and equate it to a wild night at a club, he’d go ‘’Well, obviously you’ve pulled the sleeves the wrong way haven’t you!!’’, and then he’d be off on a rambling monologue about going to the launderette or something

When you started writing the letters was there any real expectation of one of the recipients sending a reply? Not because it’s an eccentric thing to do, but perhaps because it is more likely that your letter is just one of hundreds.
None whatsoever. We just built this website and facebook pages and stuck the letters there unanswered, hanging in cyberspace, and we thought that was funny enough. We did tentatively try to get responses via official channels and management but soon gave up. The answers were procured through the ‘back door of the industry’, via facebook fans who were cousins of the bass players or roadies or next-door but one neighbours of someone that knew their hairdresser. It was totally organic and took a decade. We chose pseudonyms because they are not really us, they are deranged and overblown versions.

There are quite a few letters I thought stood out, both written by The Philpotts and by the artists/stars. Have you got any favourites?
Seriously it changes with every dip, but this week I have to say that our duel with Christopher Butler from The Waitresses is a work of unmitigated genius.

Are there any replies you were genuinely surprised to receive? (Pop Stars are really busy sailing on yachts, riding their Arabian stallions and driving their expensive cars, right?)
We didn’t think we had a hope of Alannah Myles or Devo coming back. We can only guess that their Porches and dapple greys must have been at the garage and vets respectively.

Where do Derek and Dave Philpott go from here? Is there another project in the works? 
Volume 3? Er.. see you in 2028 then...although, we are notorious now and it’s getting easier to get replies as the artists all tell each other and vouch for us..we’ll see how this book goes ..

Thanks for answering all of the questions! A pleasure!

Review
When I first heard about this book I thought it was a really amusing idea. I can imagine the status of celebrity comes with the additive of being the recipient of masses of fan mail or in the 21st century receiving messages on social media. There will probably be the occasional death threat (Mr Blobby can be very divisive) and eccentric messages may even equal the semi-normal ones.

Imagine being the recipient of a Philpott speciality, actually you might be surprised or unused to the ancient medium called letter writing. Using real paper, pens and envelopes to communicate with fellow humans. A Philpott communication promises to be witty, a wee bit convoluted and filled with snark. Recipients can take it with the pinch of salt with which is was intended or call their solicitors immediately.

Luckily for the Philpotts the response has been overwhelmingly positive and a lot of the replies are hilariously funny. Talented music artists and music icons have been gracious enough to participate in the joke, and the result is rather extraordinary. Musicians and bands including Katrina and the Waves, Tears for Fears, Squeeze, The Housemartins, Suzi Quatro, Devo, Deep Purple, Nik Kershaw, T’Pau, Human League, Eurythmics, Wang Chung and EMF, to mention just a few of them.

I wonder if these artists talk to each other about the Philpott letters? What I do know is that a lot of the responses are clever political missiles, amusing anecdotes and it's definitely worth the read.

Buy Dear Mr Pop Star to Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Buy at Unbound
Publisher: Unbound, Pub. date 20 Sept. 2018

Sunday, 16 September 2018

#BlogTour The Kithseeker by M. K. Wiseman


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Kithseeker by M..K. Wiseman. It's a tale of betrayal, love, loyalty and ultimately also one of difficult moral decisions. A YA fantasy suitable for older and younger readers.

About the Author
M. K. Wiseman has degrees in animation/video and library science – both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, her office is a clutter of storyboards and half-catalogued collections of too, too many books. (But, really, is there such a thing as too many books?) When she’s not mucking about with stories, she’s off playing bra─Ź or lying in a hammock in the backyard of her Cedarburg home that she shares with her endlessly patient husband.

Follow @FaublesFables @XchylerPublish on Twitter
on Facebook on Instagram on Goodreads
Visit mkwisemanauthor.com
Buy The Kithseeker


About the book
France, 1680
Liara's defense of the Wizard Nagarath has rendered Anisthe incantate--bereft of magick--but even this cannot guarantee her safety. Because the death of her father-in-magick would seal the girl's fate, necessity demands she and her wizard maintain a watchful eye on the war mage, while protecting her from his dark designs.

Anisthe has embarked on a journey across Europe, aided by his half-fey manservant with an agenda all his own. They search for a legendary mirror that contains the world's most powerful magick. Although the stuff of fairytales, the possibility of its existence compels Nagarath and Liara to seek the artifact themselves. Both know that should Anisthe lay claim to that power, Liara would be at his mercy and not even Nagarath could save her.

Thus, the pair find themselves at Versailles, surrounded by agents who ferret out magick users and destroy them. Uncertain who is friend and who is foe, with their rival on their heels, they must discover the mirror before Anisthe releases its evil, or worse, it lays claim to Liara's magick and brings doom upon them all.


Review
This is the second book in the Bookminder series. Although this can be read as a standalone novel I think a little bit of info about the first book, The Bookminder, would have helped, especially given the genre, plot and the character names. Intricate fantasy plots can be harder to follow if you don't keep on your toes.

I think there needs to be more world-building, and there was too much time spent on certain elements of the plot. This was especially the case in the first chapters, yes Anisthe has been rendered incantate by Liara, it doesn't need to be discussed by Liara, Nagarath, Anisthe, Tom, Dick and Harry ad infinitum. There needs to be better balance between the plot and whatever is going on between the three main characters. Their personal drama is overshadowing an interesting premise. In fact the whole being in Paris, or the places they visited in general, nearly went straight over my head because the world-building was weaker than the rest.

Whilst Liara, Nagarath and Anisthe are all trying to outsmart and outplan each other I think they should be paying more attention to the half-fey, who can still use magick and seems to have a hidden agenda. Anisthe is so arrogant he doesn't even give a second thought to the loyalty of his servant. Clearly they should be working together for their common goal as magick users, and although it seems that way at times, some people just can't be trusted.

It's a YA fantasy with potential, it's also one I would happily give to a younger advanced reader. I look forward to finding out exactly what the Mirror of Khariton has in store for our trio of troubled magick users and where their personal paths will lead them. It's a tale of betrayal, love, loyalty and ultimately also one of difficult moral decisions. Is revenge always the path you should follow after you have experienced great personal loss. What about redemption?

I am sure these are all questions Wiseman will endeavour to answer in the next book in the series.

Buy The Kithseeker at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Buy The Kithseeker (The Bookminder #2) at Amazon com
Buy The Bookminder (The Bookminder #1)
Publisher: Xchyler Publishing, Pub. date 21 August 2018


Saturday, 15 September 2018

#BlogTour Josie James and the Teardrops of Summer by Lily Mae Walters


Today BlogTour Josie James and the Teardrops of Summer by Lily Mae Walters. It's a mixture of fantasy, adventure and mystery with a colourful cast of characters and plenty of potential. Don't forget to enter the Giveaway below to win a Signed copy of Josie James and the Teardrops of Summer (UK Only).


About the Author
Lily Mae Walters chose her pen name in honour of her beloved grandparents who also stare in the Josie James series. She is married with two teenage children, and two huskies that are the inspiration behind Murphy and Asher in the books.

Lily Mae lives in Nuneaton, England and finds herself using local  places and even her old school in her stories. Family and friends mean the world to Lily Mae and many will find themselves popping up throughout the series.

Lily Mae also writes for adults under the name of Florence Keeling.
Buy Josie James and the Teardrops of Summer


About the book
Josie James is an ordinary 13 year old until something extraordinary happens during her summer holidays.Whilst staying at her Great Grandmother's cottage in the country she finds herself swept into the cursed world of Suncroft where it is perpetual winter. Her new friends believe she could be the Chosen One who it is foretold will lift the curse, but there are more pressing matters.

The Teardrops of Summer - magical crystals that render the owner immortal - have been stolen. Along with her telepathic husky-dog Protector Asher and her new friends, Josie must race to find the Teardrops and prevent catastrophe for their world.


Review
This is the first in a series of books following Josie, as she discovers her real heritage and experiences adventures starting at the age of thirteen. It's a book for readers aged nine and upwards I would say, and younger if they are advanced readers.

Josie is quickly approaching her thirteenth birthday, which is unbeknownst to her a very important one. One which will open doors into a part of her future she could never have imagined. The shy often insecure young girl becomes the main character in a legacy of light and darkness, as she is thrust into a mystery filled with many surprises. One of the more pleasant surprises being a rather talkative furry ball of valour.

It's a mixture of fantasy, adventure and mystery with a colourful cast of characters and plenty of potential. The author can take this anywhere, especially because Josie can wander between two very different worlds.

I felt at times that there were a few leaps or gaps, which could have been ironed out to give it a less disjointed feel. Younger readers are much more used to being confronted with complex plots these days, but simple and easy means a bigger audience. There is also the whole oppressive Handmaid's Talesque nature of the hidden world. Although Josie does make the occasional comment about how sexist the rules are, and how oppressive the world of Suncroft is for girls and women, I hope it is something the author comes back to in future books. Josie fights for equality, whilst hunting down nefarious magical fiends perhaps.

Walters caters to the readers who like to lose themselves in worlds within worlds and the promise of secret gardens hidden behind invisible doors. It is written for younger readers, but will probably appeal to older readers too. I look forward to seeing what Josie gets up to next as she navigates  the worlds she straddles, and in time I hope she will learn to love herself and her beautiful hair.

Buy Josie James and the Teardrops of Summer at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Crimson Cloak Publishing

Enter the Giveaway below to win a Signed copy of Josie James and the Teardrops of Summer (UK Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway *Terms and Conditions – 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 despatch or delivery of the prize.*

Thursday, 13 September 2018

#BlogTour Dark Paradise by Gene Desrochers


Today it's my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Dark Paradise by Gene Desrochers. It has the exotic nuances of a Caribbean story mixed with a noirish feel, and yet it is also full of snark and the laid back feel of a humid, sun-stroked island. It is definitely worth a read.

Don't forget to take part in TWO fantastic Giveaways today! (The second Giveaway is at the bottom of the post).

Giveaway 1 - Win a $25 Amazon e-gift Card (Open US only)
Post your photo with your e-book or hard copy of Dark Paradise on social media and share on Gene’s Facebook Instagram or Twitter page and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a $25 Amazon Gift Card to be awarded on Monday, September 24th.
About the Author
Gene Desrochers hails from a dot in the Caribbean Sea called St. Thomas. He grew up with minimal supervision and free-roaming animals in a guesthouse that also served as a hospital during wartime. He has spent his life steadily migrating west, and now finds himself in Los Angeles with a beautiful wife, cats, and kids. After a lifetime of writing and telling short stories, he ventured into the deep end, publishing his first novel, Dark Paradise in 2018. If you ask, he will regale you with his Caribbean accent and tennis prowess.

Follow @problemsolverge on Twitter
Connect with @ggdesrochers on Instagram on Facebook and Medium
Visit genedesrochers.com
Buy Dark Paradise


About the book
Boise Montague’s life in Los Angeles has fallen apart. After his wife dies, he returns to the tiny island where he grew up. Unfortunately, coming home doesn’t bring him the peace he’s looking for.

Things have changed drastically since his last visit. The island has moved on and so have the people he once knew. When Boise tries to find the one friend he thinks he can count on to be there for him, he’s confronted with another death. A murder. A murder that the police did not think important enough to investigate thoroughly.

Boise wants answers. He enlists a local reporter named Dana, who has theories of her own, to help him dig deeper.

With not much left to lose, a bone to pick with the justice system, and a relentless partner, Boise sets out to do what the police would not: solve the murder of Jeffrey Black.

The island of St. Thomas is a gleaming tropical paradise. Welcome to the Caribbean, where murder is as common as sunshine

Review
The personal experience of St. Thomas, the surroundings and the people is what gives this story the extra spice and flair. It's quirky and funny, despite the seriousness of the situations. Boise Montague is larger than life and the kind of character you don't forget.

Boise returns home looking for some peace after a personal tragedy. His wife died in a tragic accident, but he is convinced it was murder. The police get fed up of his conspiracy theories and he decides to feed his frustrations elsewhere. He does what many of us do when we are lost or are coming to the end of our lives, he goes looking for connections from the past. The house he used to live in, the streets he played in and the friends he grew up with.

Of course he finds, as many of us do, that life continues to move on even if we aren't there to watch it do so. Boise is surprised to find his childhood friend dead, a drug dealer killed in the middle of a business exchange. I think his fragile state of mind is what sets him on the path of detective come saviour. He can't prove his wife was killed, so he decides to find the person who killed his friend instead.

Boise is like an ill advised hound dog, who has found a scent and jut can't get it out of his nose. He has this deep need to do what he feel is right and to instil a sense of justice on the world. The trouble is that everyone else has no interest in his quest, and he ends up stirring up a few hornet nests.

Thus starts a series of connections with colourful and hilariously eccentric characters, who aid and push him towards a tragic and violent solution. A combination of characters I hope to see again, because Boise Montague has made his mark on the genre of Caribbean noir, as has the author of course.

I do think the end was a bit like coming out of the eye of a hurricane and straight into a short, turbulent and destructive storm. Then again the whole story was a whirlwind from the start. I would like to see his sidekicks developed more, and of course will he ever find out what happened to his wife?

It has the exotic nuances of a Caribbean story mixed with a noirish feel, and yet it is also full of snark and the laid back feel of a humid, sun-stroked island. It is definitely worth a read.

Buy Dark Paradise at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Buy  Dark Paradise at Amazon com Barnes & Noble The Secret Stash
Publisher: Acorn Publishing


Giveaway 2 – Win 2 x Paperbacks and 2 x E-copies of Dark Paradise (Open Internationally)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. The two paperbacks are only open to USA entries.  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.*

#BlogTour Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton


It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton. It's an incredibly intricate debut novel, which has elements of spirituality, science and follow. the difficult path of migration. It's the first part of the intended Children of Sarah series, a tale of evolutionary fiction.


About the Author
Who do you think you are? A daunting question for the debut author… but also one to inspire a genre-fluid novel based on the writer’s fascination for what makes humanity tick. Born in Hong Kong to expats from Liverpool (and something of a nomad ever since) Stephanie is now based in London, but manages her sanity by escaping to any kind of coast

Before returning to her first love of creative writing, Stephanie spent much of her youth pursuing alternative forms of storytelling, from stage to screen and media to marketing. For the past fifteen years Stephanie has run her own communications and copywriting company specialised in design, architecture and building. In the meantime an enduring love affair with words and the world of fiction has led her down many a wormhole on the written page, even if the day job confined such adventures to the weekends.

Drawn to what connects rather than separates, Stephanie is intrigued by the spaces between absolutes and opposites, between science and spirituality, nature and culture. This lifelong curiosity has been channelled most recently into her debut novel, Bone Lines. When not bothering Siri with note-taking for her next books and short stories, Stephanie can be found pottering about with poetry, or working out what worries/amuses her most in an opinion piece or an unwise social media post. Although, if she had more sense or opportunity she would be beachcombing, sailing, meditating or making a well-disguised cameo in the screen version of one of her stories. (Wishful thinking sometimes has its rewards?)

Follow @BrethertonWords @Unbound_Digital @unbounders on Twitter #BoneLines


About the book
A young woman walks alone through a barren landscape in a time before history, a time of cataclysmic natural change. She is cold, hungry and with child but not without hope or resources. A skilful hunter, she draws on her intuitive understanding of how to stay alive… and knows that she must survive.

In present-day London, geneticist Dr Eloise Kluft wrestles with an ancient conundrum as she unravels the secrets of a momentous archaeological find. She is working at the forefront of contemporary science but is caught in the lonely time-lock of her own emotional past.
Bone Lines is the story of two women, separated by millennia yet bound by the web of life.  A tale of love and survival – of courage and the quest for wisdom – it explores the nature of our species and asks what lies at the heart of being human.

Although partly set during a crucial era of human history 74,000 years ago, Bones Lines is very much a book for our times. Dealing with themes from genetics, climate change and migration to the yearning for meaning and the clash between faith and reason, it also paints an intimate portrait of who we are as a species. The book tackles some of the big questions but requires no special knowledge of any of the subjects to enjoy.

Alternating between ancient and modern timelines, the story unfolds through the experiences of two unique characters:  One is a shaman, the sole surviving adult of her tribe who is braving a hazardous journey of migration, the other a dedicated scientist living a comfortable if troubled existence in London, who is on her own mission of discovery.

The two are connected not only by a set of archaic remains but by a sense of destiny – and their desire to shape it. Both are pioneers, women of passion, grit and determination, although their day to day lives could not be more different. One lives moment by moment, drawing on every scrap of courage and ingenuity to keep herself and her infant daughter alive, while the other is absorbed by work, imagination and regret. Each is isolated and facing her own mortal dangers and heart-rending decisions, but each is inspired by the power of the life force and driven by love.

Bone Lines stands alone as a novel but also marks the beginning of the intended ‘Children of Sarah’ series.

Review

This is planned as the first in a series called The Children of Sarah, and it absolutely can be read as a standalone book. It fits into quite a few categories when it comes to genre. It is historical fiction, and yet it is also evolutionary, philosophical and features genetics, migration and climate change.

On a side note, I would just like to say that although I enjoyed the way the author goes from past to present with the living Sarah in the past and the bones of Sarah with Eloise in the present, I think the story of Sarah in the past is compelling and strong enough to succeed alone without the storyline of Eloise.

I felt myself drawn more towards Sarah, perhaps because of her determination and strength, despite the fact the two women share those traits, Sarah's battle was the element of the story that drew me in completely.

We follow the journey of a young woman many thousands of years ago, a woman who possesses gifts of an intuitive nature, passed down from her ancestors. She separates from her tribe and sets out on her own path of migration, because her instincts are telling her that survival lies elsewhere. Her journey, which may be recognisable to some, as she encounters different terrains, wildlife and natural resources, takes place over a few years.

It's a fascinating read from the perspective of migration, especially when you take into consideration which tribes we are linked to and everywhere they have melded into the story of our evolutionary path. I also enjoyed reading about a possible predisposition of specific genetics, which are or were perhaps a more accurate determinant of survival, as opposed to survival of the fittest.

The focus is on evolution, migration and genetics, but the author does due diligence by including the religious theory of creationism, albeit to disprove and show how improbable it is. It is a physical, genetic and scientifically proven impossibility. Having faith and believing in a higher divinity to comfort yourself is one thing, disregarding factual evidence to support your comfort blanket is quite another. My thoughts, and not those of the writer by the way.

The author invites her readers to discover the journey of our ancestors. To reach far into the past and live through their struggles, determination and watch them influence our future. To take Sarah's hand as she searches for sustenance, protects herself from the environment and the danger she is surrounded by, and to help her as she searches for the place she believes will make her feel safe.

Bretherton has clearly researched the topics in the story meticulously and presents them in layman's terms. Combining facts with fiction to create an intriguing read, which is simultaneously also an educational experience. It's a story that leaves you with food for thought, and those are my favourite kind of books.

I am genuinely looking forward to reading the next part in this series. It has a lot of potential, and has a Jean Auel feel to it, which is combined with the forensic obsession of a Kathy Reichs novel, but without a crime element to the story. It is a tale of survival, pain and the search for a place to establish roots. The story of our footprints in the sand, our scent in the wind and our genetic material morphing and mutating as it moves throughout the years.

Buy Bones Lines at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Unbound Digital, Pub date 6 Sept. 2018