Tuesday, 13 November 2018

#BlogTour The Good, The Bad and the Rugby by Mark Farrer

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Good The Bad and The Rugby by Mark Farrer. It's dark humour meets dysfunctional family dynamics and a hidden crime.

Don't forget to enter the Giveaway below to win 2 bookmarks featuring the covers of all four of Mark Farrer’s books. (UK Only)

About the Author
Mark was born in Liverpool, studied Computer Science at Hull University, then had a successful career in IT management in London and the South-East for twenty years before moving to Edinburgh in 2001. He continued working in IT until 2015 when he decided to retire from the rat race and focus on becoming a writer. He now spends half his time writing and the other half worrying why he is not yet making money from writing.

The Good, The Bad & The Rugby is Mark’s third comic novel featuring a morally righteous loner called Cullen. He also has a perma-free novella on Amazon, called Dirty Barry, which tells how Cullen and Big Paul first met. He is currently at work on a second novella, called Bronchial Billy.

Mark has three children, one at University, one on a gap year in Ghana, and one still at High School. He lives with his partner Claire, a photographer, near West Linton, in the Scottish Borders.

He likes: his Mini Cooper, songwriting, playing piano, vanilla panna cotta, The Beatles, woodburning stoves, wittertainment, Bill Bailey, #sadmanonatrain, fruit gums, Carl Hiaasen, The Wire, spicy food, Van Gogh, Lindsey Buckingham, oaked chardonnay, House MD, long walks, cinema, reading in bed, florentines, Only Connect, board games, Otis Lee Crenshaw, Budweiser, GBBO, India, cheese, David Armand’s mimes, bookshops, Scandi Noir, Diet Coke, The Economist, Blackadder, good sausages, Dickens, Helena Bonham-Carter (secret crush), the Times crossword, the song mmmbop, and pies.
And lists.

He dislikes: ITV, pinot grigio, tattoos, ballet, ready meals, rap, religion, clutter, artificial raspberry flavouring, marmite, jazz, under-powered showers, people who don’t look after their stuff, opera, sprouts, and waste.
And mashed potato.
He really doesn’t like mashed potato.

Follow @mark_farrer
Amazon Author page
Visit markfarrer.com
Buy The Good, The Bad and the Rugby 

About the book
Getting to the truth. By trial… and eror error.

Cullen is on jury duty, and the sleepy Scottish town of Melrose is experiencing a rare crime wave: the famous Rugby Sevens trophy is stolen, a dead body is unearthed, there is a spate of petty arson, and someone drives a van into Gloria’s front room.
Why? And what is her husband doing every night up on Eildon hill?

In this hilarious crime romp, misguided loyalties, thwarted love, and unbelievable gullibility reach crisis point on the one day in the year when the world pays a visit to Melrose.

At the final whistle, Cullen will ensure that justice is done. Because sometimes twelve good men just isn’t enough.

It's dark humour, pub talk and locker room dialogue meets dysfunctional family dynamics, arson and a hidden crime. When I say dark, it leans more towards the crude side than sarcastic or ironic. The crudeness is often voiced in sexual explicitness. In particular when it comes to scenes involving Gloria, especially the whole Banana Girl thing.

The banana show is way more in your face, literally in your face at times, than the infamous ping pong ball extravaganza. People in the know will understand the reference.

The whole Derek, Gloria and Duffy triangle was tragic and a creepy level of misogynistic. Oh hey my swimming soldiers aren't working so I need you to have sex with my wife indefinitely until one of your swimmers passes the finish line. No asking Gloria if she agrees with this arrangement mind you. She is expected to spread her legs and take it like a good little woman, which is why she feels as if her present has become her past again. The two men pretend to care, but in the end it is all about male ego.

Farrer spins together multiple storylines, which he brings together towards the end of the book. He also lets his readers know what happens to each of the characters afterwards. A little bit like a recap at the end of a reality show that shows what happened next.

For me it felt disjointed at times, but ultimately I think that may be the Farrer style, in out and shake it all about kind of thing. Whilst it wasn't my cup of tea I am sure it will appeal to plenty of other readers.

Buy The Good, The Bad and the Rugby at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Published in eBook on 18th October 2018.
Buy The Good, the Bad and the Rugby at Amazon com

UK Only Giveaway:
For your chance to win 2 bookmarks featuring the covers of all four of Mark Farrer’s books, please click the following Rafflecopter link.  Please note this a UK only giveaway.  The 14 winners will be selected at random and your postal address will be passed onto Mark Farrer.  There is no cash alternative.  The giveaway ends of midnight (GMT) on 16th November 2018.  Any personal information stored by the Rafflecopter giveway will be deleted after the winners have been drawn. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Download Dirty Barry by Mark Farrer for FREE on Amazon Uk

Monday, 12 November 2018

#BlogTour No Time to Cry by James Oswald

Today it's an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour No Time to Cry by James Oswald. It's the first part in a brand new crime series featuring tougher than old boot nails DC Constance Fairchild.

About the Author
James Oswald is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling Inspector McLean series of detective mysteries. The first two of these, Natural Causes and The Book of Souls were both shortlisted for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award. No Time To Cry is the first book in James's new Constance Fairchild series.
James farms Highland cows and Romney sheep by day, writes disturbing fiction by night.

Follow @SirBenFro @Wildfirebks
Visit jamesoswald.co.uk
Buy No Time to Cry

About the book
Undercover cops are always dangerous, but DC Constance Fairchild never expected things to go this wrong.
Returning to their base of operations, an anonymous office in a shabby neighbourhood, she finds the bloodied body of her boss, and friend, DI Pete Copperthwaite. He's been executed - a single shot to the head.
In the aftermath, it seems someone in the Met is determined to make sure that blame for the wrecked operation falls squarely on Con's shoulders. She is cut loose and cast out, angry and alone with her grief... right until the moment someone also tries to put a bullet through her head.
There's no place to hide, and no time to cry.

Quickfire Questions with James Oswald (supplied by the publisher) 
Give us three adjectives to best describe your new novel?
Thrilling, breathless, short
What are the three most important character traits of your protagonist?
Dogged determination, ability to think on her feet, she doesn’t much care what others think of her
Where is the novel set?
London, Northamptonshire, Perthshire and Angus
Who is your biggest influence as a writer?
Without a doubt, Terry Pratchett
Have you ever killed anyone off from real life in one of your novels?
Frequently. One friend even asked if he could be the villain. He dies naked in his bath.
What was your favourite ‘terrible’ review?
The Hangman’s Song, book three in the Inspector McLean series, has a one star Amazon review that ends
“Incidentally, even the title is misleading - there's no singing in the book.”
What is your favourite writing snack?
Chocolate. It’s the perfect brain food.
Which of your characters would you most like to have dinner with?
Madame Rose. Or maybe Mrs McCutcheon’s Cat.

DC Constance Fairchild certainly doesn't have time to cry or take a breather. It is non-stop action from the get go, from the very moment she finds her mentor, superior, colleague and friend murdered. Instead of the police trying to widen the net and look for possible suspects they zoom in on Connie, so she finds herself suspended and without back-up in a very precarious situation.

Simultaneously an old school friend asks her to look for her missing teen sister, which leaves Connie in the strange position of wanting to find the girl, but being unable to use the usual resources to do so. She soon finds herself in the middle of deeply buried family secrets and running for her life at the same time.

I loved her bolshy attitude. She is the rich kid, who dislikes her family and yet gets treated like a posh kid with connections, despite working hard to get where she is in her career. She is also a woman, which means having to deal daily with misogyny, sexism and harassment. Not exactly a raving endorsement for the police force. Her frustration and anger are understandable, so kudos to her for not whacking them all around the head with a baseball bat.

My second favourite element of the story was Pete. The fact the 'two' of them engage in dialogue brings an aura of the paranormal to the story, despite Connie telling herself that he isn't really there. Her conscience speaks to her in the most informative way. Sort of like the Watson to her Sherlock or the alarm signal in her gut.

Let's not forget the cat, the hardened fuzzy criminal who becomes a steadfast feature in Connie's life, albeit inadvertently. In fact overall all the characters came together so perfectly it's almost as if they were meant to be together from the start.

What Oswald does brilliantly and with such panache, is to deliver the tragic and serious with an almost indiscernible layer of wit. It's always there just hovering in the background waiting to spring forward into the scenes. This is the start of fantastic new series and I can't wait to read more.

Buy No Time to Cry at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Wildfire (1 Nov. 2018)

Saturday, 10 November 2018

#BlogTour Fishing for Maui by Isa Pearl Ritchie

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Fishing in Maui by Isa Pearl Ritchie. It's a story about family and the way we can be sat next to each other, and yet a thousand miles away from each other at the same time.

About the Author
Isa Ritchie is a Wellington-based writer. She grew up as a Pākehā child in a bicultural family and Māori was her first written language. She has completed a PhD on food sovereignty in Aotearoa. She is passionate about food, wellbeing and social justice.
Follow @IsaPearlRitchie on Twitter, on Facebook on Instagram
Visit isaritchie.com
Buy Fishing for Maui

About the book
A novel about food, whānau, and mental illness.
Valerie reads George Eliot to get to sleep – just to take her mind off worries over her patients, her children, their father and the next family dinner. Elena is so obsessed with health, traditional food, her pregnancy and her blog she doesn’t notice that her partner, Malcolm the ethicist, is getting himself into a moral dilemma of his own making. Evie wants to save the world one chicken at a time. Meanwhile her boyfriend, Michael is on a quest to reconnect with his Māori heritage and discover his own identity. Rosa is eight years old and lost in her own fantasy world, but she’s the only one who can tell something’s not right. Crisis has the power to bring this family together, but will it be too late?

I'm not sure whether the point of this story was to present each character, to give them a voice and opinion on a multitude of topics, in an attempt to show the reader how different we can be, even in the confines of our own family structure or just to have the opportunity to voice an opinion.

An opinion on everything you can think of, from religion, faith, abortion, abnormal cervical cell treatment, health systems in foreign countries, culture, myths, identity, mental health, veganism, mass animal farming, bullying, morality, sexuality, racism, colorism or shadeism, vegetarianism and many more. It's a lot, it eclipses any intention of a story, especially about Michael and his mental health issues.

I would like to have seen more depth when it came to Michael, the why, the tailspin and the recovery. There are primary causes of psychotic symptoms, but psychosis can also be secondary to other disorders and diseases (Psychiatric disorders, neurological illnesses and mental health disorders), including B12 deficiency. Everyone is still circling their own orbit, which is indicative of how the family members deal with each other, and the reason they miss it when other family members need support.

Elena's blog plays a huge role in her life and the story. It is her way of having a voice in the world and maintaining independence, whereas her husband believes it is the way the little wife escapes the real world. Among her blog-posts and reader commentary are topics such as prenatal healthcare and testing which are deemed 'invasive testing on the off-chance I'd abort an 'imperfect' child' and is part of the anti-abortion thought process of one character for instance. The same one who sees anti-stretch mark oils (petrochemicals) as bad news, so it's advantageous that the character has included a recipe and instructions on how to make homemade lavender skin balm.

Is it a story or is it a way to tell readers your opinion in an attempt to engage in a narrative or change they way the perceive certain situations? If it's the latter then there is no need for a fictional family.

Evie's story is about having to deal with the diagnosis of abnormal cervical cells (CIN3) and natural regression after lifestyle changes, such as diet and eliminating smoking. I think it is fair to say that adapting a healthier lifestyle will be beneficial to anyone who chooses to do so, and in doing so a person can strengthen their immune system and reduce the risk of many diseases. There is a growing voice for the more holistic approach in this area, but here is the thing, regardless of a wake-up call and lifestyle changes not all CIN2 or CIN3 lesions will progress to cervical cancer, which means there may be some misconception about what causes the regression or if the results remain the same after a period of waiting.

I would bear that in mind before recommending that women of all ages think about waiting for treatment, refusing standard health practices, because one of them might just be one of the percentage that falls into the 'evolves into cancer cell' categories. Do your own research, get advice from an medical expert and get a second, third or fourth opinion before making a decision based alternative methods. Saying that, living a more healthy and yet balanced lifestyle is never a bad choice for your body in the long run.

Lastly there is the home-birthing and Elena, the cuckolded wife and avid blogger. Let me just say that I think every woman should give birth in the way that makes them feel most comfortable and is safe for both baby and mother. In the book the opinion gives off an air of borderline birth-shaming, which is probably due to personal experiences and own frame of reference. Not every woman can deal with birth with just a hot wet towel on their back. Some women experience little or no pain, others experience unimaginable pain. Each woman has a different pain threshold and has a different body with individual health issues. Also, while there might be a correlation between mode of delivery and subsequent post-partum depression there are also things like the mother's age, number of delivery, acceptance, sex, education, maternal depression and previous medical history of depression which have to be taken into consideration.

Every day, approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth - 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries. (WHO) Across the U.S., infant mortality rates for full-term babies were 50 percent to 200 percent higher than in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, the study found. Birth defects, or congenital malformations, accounted for 31 percent of U.S. infant deaths during the study. So-called perinatal complications, or medical problems babies developed shortly before or after birth, accounted for another 13 percent of fatalities. (Reuters)

Those are just a few statistics I would offer up as a reason to take all options into consideration, even giving birth at home if mother and baby are healthy. There are plenty of birthing houses that sway away from the sterile medical birth, and the majority of hospitals have birthing pools and special birthing rooms that try look and feel like a home environment.

I think Ritchie has a lot to say and so do her characters, in this case it's to the detriment of a storyline that never quite gets to unfold, because everyone is trying to tell the reader something. If you took all the characters out of Fishing for Maui and just let the person who wants to engage with the world have a dialogue with the reader throughout the book - you would have a completely different read. A non-fictional one, but a book readers would still want to engage with, regardless of whether it is to agree or disagree with the opinions and information Ritchie brings to the table.

If a book creates a reaction in a reader then the author has done their job. Mine may be different to others, but it is a reaction nonetheless. It's a story about family and the way we can be sat next to each other, and yet a thousand miles away from each other at the same time.

Buy Fishing for Maui at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Te Rā Aroha Press (4 July 2018)
Buy Fishing for Maui at Amazon com
Buy at Smashwords

Friday, 9 November 2018

#BlogBlitz The Cuckoo Wood by M. Sean Coleman

Today it's the Blog Blitz for The Cuckoo Wood by M. Sean Coleman. I can honestly say, after reading this book,  I wouldn't hesitate to buy one of his books. The Cuckoo Wood is a very well-written crime story with an element of paranormal and the unknown.

Don't forget to enter the Giveaway below to win a paperback copy of The Cuckoo Wood, a cool tote bag with book quote from the publisher, a branded bookmark and some chocolates (Open Internationally)

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

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

He is obsessed with crime, mystery and thriller stories, especially those with a fresh or surprising angle. He writes novels from his home in The Cotswolds, where he lives with his husband and their three red dogs.

About the book
Samantha Jaynes took her life in the cold lake. Now Rosie Trimble has done the same. Both claimed they had seen an angel. And they're not the only ones.
A spate of teenage suicides rattles the rural community of Kirkdale, in England's Lake District. Before they died, each of the girls talked about seeing an angel. Is this collective hallucination, or is something more sinister leading these young girls to their deaths?

That’s a question for Dr Alex Ripley, the so-called Miracle Detective. Brought in to help the police, she finds a community rooted in fear and suspicion, bound by their strange faith, unwilling to help, unable to forgive. Because the people of Kirkdale have buried their dark past once, and they’re not about to let Ripley dig it up again.

The Cuckoo Wood is the first Alex Ripley Mystery

Dr Alex Ripley explains away the unexplainable with scientific rationale, which includes miracles, miraculous healing and religious stigmata. She wants to save vulnerable, innocent and naive people from frauds. The kind of con-people who are able to convince masses of people of the existence of faith healing, miracles and angels.

Alex is determined to reveal the reality to people willing to hand over their last penny and the shirts off their back to someone with a fast-track to the world behind the invisible veil. It's easy to understand how people are lured into these schemes. Human beings are always looking for an explanation beyond what they have learnt and their own understanding, which is probably why it is easy to hoodwink people.

Saying that, we don't know everything, and despite there being a scientific explanation for the majority of the unexplained and so-called mysteries in life, there is always room for knowledge to be expanded and learning to take place.

Situations like young girls being obsessed with and seeing beautiful winged angels. Angels leading them to their dark, cold and wet deaths in a secluded lake in Cuckoo Wood. Aren't angels supposed to protect the innocent? Keep them safe from harm? This particular angel seems to be luring young girls to their deaths.

I can honestly say, after reading this book,  I wouldn't hesitate to buy one of his books. The Cuckoo Wood is a very well-written crime story with an element of paranormal and the unknown. The plot is paced exactly right and the main characters are memorable without eclipsing the rest of the characters or the plot.

Buy The Cuckoo Wood at Amazon Uk or go Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Red Dog (25 July 2018)
Buy The Cuckoo Wood at Amazon com
Buy at Red Dog Press

Enter the Giveaway below to win a paperback copy of The Cuckoo Wood, a cool tote bag with book quote from the publisher, a branded bookmark and some chocolates (Open INTERNATIONALLY)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Come back on the 24th of November 2018 for my turn on the BlogTour A Hollow Sky (Alex Ripley Mystery #2) by M. Sean Coleman.

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

Thursday, 8 November 2018

#BlogTour Death Comes in Through the Kitchen by Teresa Dovalpage

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Death Comes in Through the Kitchen by Teresa Dovalpage. It's an interesting combination of political intrigue mixed with crime, romance and topped off with an exotic flair.

About the Author
Teresa Dovalpage is a Cuban transplant now firmly rooted in New Mexico. She was born in Havana and now lives in Hobbs, where she is a Spanish and ESL professor at New Mexico Junior College. She has published nine novels and three collections of short stories. Her English-language novels are A Girl like Che Guevara (Soho Press, 2004), Habanera, a Portrait of a Cuban Family (Floricanto Press, 2010), and Death Comes in Through the Kitchen (Soho Crime, 2018), a culinary mystery with authentic Cuban recipes.

Her novellas Las Muertas de la West Mesa (The West Mesa Murders, based on a real event), Sisters in Tea/ Hermanas en Té and Death by Smartphone/ Muerte por Smartphone were published in serialized format by Taos News.

In her native Spanish she has authored the novels Muerte de un murciano en La Habana (Death of a Murcian in Havana, Anagrama, 2006, a runner-up for the Herralde Award in Spain), El difunto Fidel (The late Fidel, Renacimiento, 2011, that won the Rincon de la Victoria Award in Spain in 2009), Posesas de La Habana (Haunted ladies of Havana, PurePlay Press, 2004), La Regenta en La Habana (Edebe Group, Spain, 2012),  Orfeo en el Caribe (Atmósfera Literaria, Spain, 2013), and El retorno de la expatriada (The Expat’s Return, Egales, Spain, 2014).

Follow @Dovalpage
On Facebook/dovalpage
Visit teredovalpage.com (Blog in English) and/or teresadovalpage.com (Blog in Spanish)
Buy Death Comes in Through the Kitchen

About the book
Set in Havana during the Black Spring of 2003, a charming but poison-laced culinary mystery reveals the darker side of the modern Revolution, complete with authentic Cuban recipes Havana, Cuba, 2003: Matt, a San Diego journalist, arrives in Havana to marry his girlfriend, Yarmila, a 24-year-old Cuban woman whom he first met through her food blog. But Yarmi isn’t there to meet him at the airport, and when he hitches a ride to her apartment, he finds her lying dead in the bathtub.

With Yarmi’s murder, lovelorn Matt is immediately embroiled in a Cuban adventure he didn’t bargain for. The police and secret service have him down as their main suspect, and in an effort to clear his name, he must embark on his own investigation into what really happened. The more Matt learns about his erstwhile fiancée, though, the more he realizes he had no idea who she was at all - but did anyone?

Matt is on his way to Cuba to marry his sweetheart. He isn't sure what to think when she doesn't turn up to meet him. Everything passes through his mind except the fact she could be dead. He finds himself in a strange country in the unenviable position of being the main suspect in her demise, despite a clear lack of evidence.

The way Dovalpage incorporates Yarmila's food blog into the story is quite interesting. Not a new concept, but in this case it is more about giving the reader a flavour of the culture. How the food has such an emotional meaning, the nostalgia of each recipe and at the same time giving an insight into the Cuban culture.

In a way it lets Yarmila, despite her death, participate as an almost living character in the story. It takes some of the pressure off of Matt and also gives the reader a better image of her life without Matt. The main character sort of bumbles through his strange surroundings with the best intentions and with the naiveté of a man in love with a mysterious young woman who supposedly loves and lives life to the max.

It's quirky, colourful and vibrant, and yet it is also written in a way that shows both sides of a double-sided coin called Cuba. The underlying feeling of fear and the daily subliminal threat the majority feel about the political situation comes through with the strong characters who love life and yet fear for their lives at the same time.

It's an interesting combination of political intrigue mixed with crime, romance and topped off with an exotic flair.

Buy Death Comes in Through the Kitchen at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Soho Press
Buy Death Comes in Through the Kitchen at Amazon com
Buy Death Comes in Through the Kitchen at Soho Press

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

#BlogTour Night Shift by Robin Triggs

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Night Shift by Robin Triggs. It's a well-written and superbly plotted crime thriller based in the Antarctic

About the Author
Writer of speculative fiction and extremely poor cricketer. #Proofreader and #SfEP member. Debut novel NIGHT SHIFT out Nov 2018. He/Him/The Monstrosity

Follow @RobinTriggs @FlameTreePress on Twitter

About the book
Antarctica. A mining base at the edge of the world.

Anders Nordvelt, last-minute replacement as head of security, has no time to integrate himself into the crew before an act of sabotage threatens the project. He must untangle a complex web of relationships from his position as prime suspect.

Then a body is found in the ice. Systems fail as the long night falls. Now Anders must do more than find a murderer: he must find a way to survive. Will anyone endure the night shift, or will ice and frozen corpses be all that remains?

You are in the middle of nowhere surrounded by ice, there are only thirteen suspects, well twelve because you're one of the thirteen and you know you didn't do it. Cut off from civilisation as you know it and with your impending death a more likely scenario than being rescued, how do you figure out who is taking the Night Shift out - one by one?

I have to hand it to Triggs this is an excellent crime story. It combines the helplessness of being in a dangerous living situation, geographically and logistically speaking, with the mistrust and paranoia of people living in isolation the majority of the time.

At times I felt sorry and frustrated for Anders, because the new guy is automatically the most convenient suspect. He arrives and people start dying and things start blowing up. Some people would say that is a coincidence and others just think that is enough proof to point the finger at him.

He tries really hard to catch the culprit, but whoever it is always seems to be ten steps ahead of him during the entire story. This person can hack computer systems, set bombs and come and go without leaving any evidence at all.

The pinhead cameras made me realise what was going on. Perhaps not the exact execution of the how or why, but it did reveal the culprit. It has an underlying aura of suspense, as the events unfold and the suspicion is cast in every direction. It's speculative fiction with a whodunnit vibe and an aura of creepy suspense.

This a well-written and superbly plotted crime thriller based in the Antarctica. This is the first in a planned trilogy, so hopefully we won't have to wait too long to read more by Triggs.

Buy Night Shift at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Flame Tree Press; US paperback edition (1 Nov. 2018)

Flame Tree Press is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launching in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.

Bitter by Francesca Jakobi

I think many readers may dislike Gilda and be extremely concerned about her behaviour. Her stalking, the drinking, the impulsive choices, the way she neglects her son and her obsessive need to control her son's life.

I felt sorry for her, regardless of all the crazy and the selfish actions. I even shed a tear or two for her towards the end. In a way Bitter is everything but, it just depends on your perspective on the situation.

This is life with all its ups and downs, disappointment and joy, betrayal and love. Gilda could be any one of us in any era. Living with the guilt of separation and divorce. Trying to function within the confines of a patchwork family. Sitting on secrets to ensure the truth doesn't destroy the fragile relationships between child and parent.

It's interesting and also tragic to note that not one person asks Gilda how she is feeling. How she felt being targeted as a Jew in Germany, about the guilt she carries because she got out and others couldn't. The fact she is treated as if she doesn't love her son, when in reality she just finds it difficult to show her real emotions, is a tragedy.

I loved this little gem of a book. It just really spoke to me, perhaps because it portrays so perfectly what it is like to be misconceived and eternally being on the short end of the stick. History is written by the victors or the ones in positions of power, which includes divorced couples who share children. Parental alienation and blaming one parent, as opposed to getting on for the good of the child or children.

It's a really intriguing read and not what I was expecting. In fact I was surprised at how much I was drawn to and felt sympathy for Gilda. I highly recommend it.

Buy Bitter at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Pub.date 4 Oct. 2018
Follow @fjajakobi  @wnbooks on Twitter
Visit francescajakobi.co.uk

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

#BlogTour The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal by Horatio Clare

It's my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Light in the Dark by Horatio Clare. It's a memoir, a personal journey from despair to holding out a reluctant hand for help.

About the Author
Horatio Clare is a critically acclaimed author and journalist. His first book, Running for the Hills: A Family Story, won the Somerset Maugham Award. His second book, Truant is ‘a stunningly-written memoir’, according to the Irish Times. A Single Swallow: Following an Epic Journey from South Africa to South Wales, was shortlisted for the Dolman Travel Book of the Year; Down to the Sea in Ships: Of Ageless Oceans and Modern Men won the Stanford-Dolman Travel Book of the Year 2015. Horatio’s first book for children, Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot, won the Branford Boase Award 2016 for best debut children's book. He lives in West Yorkshire.

Follow @HoratioClare @eandtbooks on Twitter
Buy The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal

About the book
A moving winter diary that reveals the healing power of the natural world.

As November stubs out the glow of autumn and the days tighten into shorter hours, winter’s occupation begins. Preparing for winter has its own rhythms, as old as our exchanges with the land. Of all the seasons, it draws us together. But winter can be tough.

It is a time of introspection, of looking inwards. Seasonal sadness; winter blues; depression – such feelings are widespread in the darker months. But by looking outwards, by being in and observing nature, we can appreciate its rhythms. Mountains make sense in any weather. The voices of a wood always speak consolation. A brush of frost; subtle colours; days as bright as a magpie’s cackle. We can learn to see and celebrate winter in all its shadows and lights.

In this moving and lyrical evocation of a British winter and the feelings it inspires, Horatio Clare raises a torch against the darkness, illuminating the blackest corners of the season, and delving into memory and myth to explore the powerful hold that winter has on us. By learning to see, we can find the magic, the light that burns bright at the heart of winter: spring will come again.
This is a very personal insight into the authors struggle with depression. The beginning of the book reads like a nostalgic trip into his past, and those memories interrupt the present as he gives a perspective on his life and his childhood.

At first everything appears to be idyllic, as he speaks about the remote farm he grew up on and his family. Then just like the remote steep Welsh hills his words, thoughts and life start a descent, then an ascent and so on. The downwards and upwards scale of emotional turmoil inside his mind is connected viscerally to the seasonal changes, especially the months of winter.

The colder it gets the more oppressive it feels, which is countered simultaneously with the stark contrast of the beauty of winter. The contrast is important, especially if one replaces the beauty of his surroundings with the assumption that everyone else sees the world that way, whilst he experiences something completely different. This is an excellent example of how people with mental health issues experience the world in comparison to others.

I think one of the most poignant moments in the book is when Clare acknowledges he needs help and in doing so makes it clear why so many people, but in this case men in particular, don't reach out and are unwilling to take medication. There is still so much stigma attached to mental health issues in our society - it helps when stories like this shed a light on the issues.

It's a memoir, a personal journey from despair to holding out a reluctant hand for help. Leaving aside the beauty of the prose and the honesty with which it is written, I think it is commendable that the author has opened a door into his heart, mind and soul for us.

If just one person takes away something from this journal of struggle and darkness, and they will, then he can take a moment of positivity and strength from knowing he has built a bridge others can use to find a way through their own darkness.

It's a brave, beautiful and a very honest account of a personal struggle.

Buy The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Elliot & Thompson, Pub. date 1 November 2018

Monday, 5 November 2018

#BlogTour Sleeper: The Red Storm by J.D. Fennell

Today it is my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Sleeper: The Red Storm by JD Fennell. The sequel to the successful dystopian action thriller Sleeper.
The Red Storm manages to crank up the action even higher, which I didn't think was possible after Sleeper, but Fennell brings even more to the table this time.

About the Author
J.D. was born in Belfast at the start if the Troubles, and began writing stories at a young age to help
understand the madness unfolding around him.
A lover of reading, he devoured a diverse range of books - his early influences include Fleming, Tolkien, Shakespeare and the Brontës. He left Belfast at the age of nineteen and worked as a chef, bartender, waiter and later began a career in writing for the software industry.
These days he divides his time between Brighton and London, where he lives with his partner and their two dogs.
J.D.’s debut, Sleeper, was published by The Dome Press in April 2017.

Follow @jd_fennell or @DomePress on Twitter or on facebook.com/JDFennellAuthor/
Visit sleeperbook.com

About the book
Will starling has been drafted into the SOE, joining forces with the French Resistance, but his  memory is fractured and only occasional flashbacks reveal fragments of his past. When his mission is compromised, Will suspects that he’s been betrayed. Back in London he hears that VIPER are developing a deadly weapon. As he and MI5 agent Anna Wilder set out to destroy it, their every move is anticipated by their enemies.
While Will fights to prevent genocide, his sister, Rose, has become the key to VIPER’s future plans and is drugged to dull her kinetic powers. But Rose faces danger from an unexpected enemy and her time is running out.

Q&A with JD Fennell

After the resounding success of Sleeper you are back with sequel, Sleeper – The Red Storm..

What was or is the inspiration for Sleeper?
I wanted to write the kind of books I love to read. The Sleeper series are fast-paced spy thrillers with mysticism, the supernatural and sophisticated period technology on the fringes of reality. I wanted to be in that world, so I created one.

I would put this series in a multitude of genres, which is probably what makes it a read both younger and older readers find intriguing. It has elements of historical, war dystopian, sci-fi, spy thriller and industrial revolution steampunk meets futuristic weaponry genres. It is suitable for younger, young adult and older adults. An any age read, so to speak.

Was is it your intention to meld all of these different elements together or was it more of a this is where the plot is leading me kind of thing?
Yes, it was. I wanted the characters to age as the story progresses. I did not want to remain in the same small timeframe. The first in the series, Sleeper, is a YA, which can be read by younger and older readers. In the sequel, The Red Storm, the characters are adults and well-established spies. Red Storm has an older voice and darker themes and as such has been marketed as an adult thriller.

Leading on from that was it also your intention to write a series that a person of any age can pick up and read, and parents would be happy to buy their book-hungry children?
Yes I suppose it was. The third in the series will take place some years after the close of Red Storm. It will also be a darker book. That said I do intend to return to Rose’s story and write a short ebook about her. All that said, I would caution parents about choosing Red Storm for their children because of the dark themes and adult content, which will increase in the third book. They may want to read it first before passing it on. I know some parents have done this already.

As a parent of both book hungry and reluctant readers I know I have found it difficult at times to find a way to encourage my youngest son to read. He needed to build his reading, writing and comprehension skills, and yet the majority of books didn’t stir his interest. I had to search for the more unusual books to get him to read. I think Sleeper and The Red Storm fit into the bracket of letting younger readers experience the action packed creativity of a writer who doesn’t just want to tell them how the ugly duckling became a beautiful swan.

Do you think the book industry invests enough in books for younger readers that cross boundaries of imagination, creativity and outlandish theories?
I don’t think I could comment on that because I don’t know enough about the children’s book market. However, I do know that middle-grade is a huge business and YA - in the UK - not so much. In the US, however, YA is massive.

I don’t want to give any of the many surprises, deaths and plot twists away, so I am going to try to keep the questions about the book as neutral as possible.

What made you pick this particular period in history?
I loved the idea of a spy story set during the war without the war being the main focus. Also, I love the clothes, the cars and the lack of internet, social media and celebrity culture. What’s not to love about that?

Will seems to accept and forget the deaths of his comrades and friends very quickly. Is this part of his training or because of the trauma he has been through?
Will spends his time on the run dodging bullets and fighting psychopaths and cold-blooded killers. His training has taught him resolve and his trauma has hardened it.

The concept for the actual Red Storm is akin to the biological weapons the world is threatened by in our era. Did you take inspiration for this from reality?
Very much so. The threat of these type of weapons exist today and was close to my mind when I wrote it. I suppose this gives the books a modern twist.

What is the difference between the Will of Sleeper #1 and the Will of Sleeper #2: The Red Storm?
The Will in book 1 is an amnesiac whose memory loss makes him question who he is. He believes himself to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old, however, deep inside him is a burning rage that he cannot explain. When he is in a life-threatening situation his first thought is to run. As the story progresses he learns more about his past and by the end of the book his rage has a focus.

The Will in Red Storm is the ‘Liberator’ and ‘Executioner’. (Readers of Sleeper will understand what this means). So, when it comes to VIPER he kills without remorse.

What’s next for Will and his band of merry people? (I have read the shocking ending of The Red Storm – there is no way you can just leave it there…).¸
I’d say expect the unexpected. That’s all I’m saying.

Thank you for answering all of my questions.
Thank you for hosting me.

The Red Storm is the sequel to the successful dystopian action thriller Sleeper. There is definitely a notable change in Will in this book. He appears to be more ruthless and less inclined to dither in the pool of emotions. People fall to the side, die and disappear, and yet Will glosses over each event, because his eye is on his goals.

There is a new dangerous threat in this book. At first Will thinks his enemies are talking in some kind of strange code when they reference a storm coming, until he encounters the Red Storm in person, then he realises just how big the threat is.

Meanwhile as Will is set on his own course and targets, the reader finds out what is happening to his sister. The story of Rose is disturbing, especially when it comes to the procedures she has to go through. She is so important to the enemy camp that they are willing to go to any length to get what they want, regardless of her young age.

I am not going to go into any more details, so you can discover this highly explosive and fast-paced read for yourselves. It is a read I would recommend to readers who are looking for an author who is able to combine a multitude of genres and create a new exciting read.

The action is cranked up even higher in this book, which I didn't think was possible after Sleeper, but Fennell brings even more to the table this time. He also ends the book on one heck of a cliff hanger, which means we will probably...hopefully be reading more about Will in the future.

It's a complex dystopian action thriller with the vibe of a war and spy novel. It 's non-stop action from start to finish - it's one hell of a ride.

Buy Sleeper: The Red Storm at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: The Dome Press, pub. date 25 Oct. 2018
Read my review of Sleeper book #1 Buy Sleeper

Sunday, 4 November 2018

#BlogTour The Word for Freedom: Short Stories Celebrating Women's Suffrage

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour - The Word for Freedom: Short stories celebrating women's suffrage and raising money for Hestia and UK Says No More.

About the Authors
Authors that have donated stories:

Isabel Costello is a London-based author and host of the Literary Sofa blog. Her debut novel Paris Mon Amour was published in 2016 and her short fiction has appeared in various magazines and anthologies. She teaches Resilient Thinking for Writers with psychologist and author Voula Tsoflias. @isabelcostello www.literarysofa.com

Christine Powell lives in County Durham and is a member of Vane Women, a writers’ co-operative dedicated to the promotion of the work of women writers in the north east of England ( www.vanewomen.co.uk ). Her stories have appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines.

Victoria Richards is a journalist and writer. In 2017/ 18 she was highly commended in the Bridport Prize, came third in The London Magazine short story competition and second in the TSS international flash fiction competition. She was also shortlisted in the Bath Novel Award and the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, and long listed in the National Poetry Competition. Find her at @nakedvix and www.victoriarichards.co.uk

Carolyn Sanderson has worked in a number of fields, including teaching, training, counselling and working for the Church of England. She has written articles, reviews and a number of hymns. Times and Seasons, her contribution to the Hometown Tales series was recently published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

Sallie Anderson is a writer living in Gloucestershire. She now works as a bookseller, but has had many jobs, including election polling clerk, which provided the inspiration for this story. Her short stories have been published in magazines and short-listed in a number of competitions. @JustSalGal

Abigail Rowe lives and writes in Cork, Ireland. Currently completing her first novel, she delights in honing her craft writing short fiction, flash and the odd poem. Abigail’s passions include bees, decent coffee, history, her granddaughters and looking for beauty everywhere and anywhere she goes. @RoweWrites and ismidlifeliminal.wordpress.com 

Rosaleen Lynch is an Irish community worker and writer in the East End of London. She pursues stories whether conversational, literary or performed, keen to explore them as part of the learning cycle of everyday life. @quotes_52 and www.52quotes.blogspot.com

Sophie Duffy is the author of The Generation Game, This Holey Life, and Bright Stars. She has won the Yeovil Literary Prize, the Luke Bitmead Bursary, was runner-up for the Harry Bowling Prize and longlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker. She also writes as Lizzie Lovell and is part of the team of CreativeWritingMatters who administer the Exeter Novel Prize. She lives in Devon.

Kate Vine is a graduate of the MA Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Her short fiction has been published by Dear Damsels and she is a recent winner of the City Writes competition. She is currently working on her first novel. @Kate_ElizabethV and deardamsels.com/ 2018/ 02/ 16/ he-loves-that-story

David Cook’s stories have been published in the National Flash Fiction Anthology, Stories For Homes 2 and a number of online journals. He lives in Bridgend, Wales, with his wife and daughter. You can find more of his work at www.davewritesfiction.wordpress.com and @davidcook100.

Helen Irene Young is the author of The May Queen (Crooked Cat Books) and a digital editor for a book publisher. She attended the Faber Academy six-month novel writing course. She splits her time between London and Colombia, when she can get there. Her next novel, set in 1940s Bogotá, is about a broken architect trying to build something new. @helenireneyoung and www.helenireneyoung.com

Katherine Blessan is the author of Lydia’s Song: The Story of a Child Lost and a Woman Found (Instant Apostle, 2014), a hope-filled story about sex-trafficking in Cambodia. As well as writing her second novel, Katherine is a screenwriter and short story writer. She lives in Sheffield with her Indian husband and two children where she works as an English tutor and examiner. www.katherineblessan.com and @kathblessan

Anna Orridge has a Masters in Creative Writing with Distinction from the University of East Anglia. Her short stories have appeared in Mslexia, Paper Cuts and the Retreat West anthology Nothing Is As It Was. She is currently writing a Middle Grade Fantasy novel in collaboration with Kickback Media.

Julie Bull lives in South London and Sussex, where she also studied English Literature many moons ago. She is a recovering civil servant and now writes full time. Her first novel lives under the bed. Her short fiction has previously appeared in MIRonline. @juliebu72 instagram: juliebu72 Facebook: Julie Bull.

Karen Hamilton caught the travel bug after a childhood spent abroad and worked as cabin crew for many years. The Perfect Girlfriend is her first novel. It is a psychological thriller about a sociopathic flight attendant, Juliette, who will stop at nothing to win back her pilot ex-boyfriend. @KJHAuthor

Angela Readman’s stories have won The Costa Short Story Award, The Mslexia Story Competition and been on Radio 4. Her debut collection Don’t Try This at Home (And Other Stories) won The Rubery Book Award and was shortlisted in The Edge Hill Prize. She also writes poetry and is published by Nine Arches.

Anna Mazzola is an award-winning writer of historical crime fiction. She has published two novels (The Unseeing and The Story Keeper) and several short stories. She is also a human rights solicitor. She lives in South London with two children, two cats and one husband. @Anna_Mazz and www.Annamazzola.com

Anne Hamilton is a writer, tutor and editor of fiction, and the editor of online magazine, Lothian Life. Her stories are published in several journals and anthologies, and she has read at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Her travelogue A Blonde Bengali Wife, inspired the charity, Bhola’s Children, and she is now working on her second novel. Anne lives in Edinburgh, with her young son. www.writerightediting.co.uk and @AnneHamilton7

Dane Divine is an emerging writer from Plymouth, UK, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing. She now lives in Wellington, New Zealand where she works at an art college. Dane creates short stories and flash fiction. She is also working on a novel. instagram.com/ dane_divine 

Cath Bore is based in Liverpool. Her fiction and essays are published in Mslexia Magazine, Know Your Place: Essays on the Working Class (Dead Ink), National Flash Fiction Day Anthologies, I Hope You Like Feminist Rants, Fictive Dreams, Spontaneity and more. She also writes about music, books and pop culture. @cathbore and cathbore.wordpress.com

Taria Karillion - As the daughter of an antiquarian book dealer, Taria grew up surrounded by far more books than is healthy for one person. A literature degree, a journalism course and some gratuitous vocabulary overuse later, her stories have appeared in a Hagrid-sized handful of anthologies, and have won enough literary prizes to half-fill his other hand. Despite this, she has no need as yet for larger millinery.

Emily Kerr is proud to be a feminist. Her day job is as a journalist for ITV News and she spends her spare time writing fiction. Her novel Who Does He Think He Is? was shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award 2017. She is currently working on her second book. Twitter: @EmilyKerrWrites and www.emilykerrwrites.com

Angela Clarke is the award-winning, Sunday Times bestselling author of the Social Media Murders, including Follow Me, Watch Me, and Trust Me. Her new novel is a gripping psychological thriller that highlights the plight of pregnant women in UK prisons: On My Life is out March 2019. www.AngelaClarke.co.uk

Rachel Rivett - Author of three picture books, Little Grey and the Great Mystery, Are You Sad, Little Bear? and I Imagine, Rachel Rivett has an MA in Writing for Children. She is happy to have short stories in anthologies with Mother’s Milk and Retreat West. www.writewild.weebly.com

Amanda Saint founded and runs @RetreatWest, providing creative writing competitions and courses, and in 2017 launched Retreat West Books indie press. Her debut novel, As If I Were A River, was a NetGalley Top 10 Book of the Month and a Book Magnet Blog Top 20 Book of 2016. Her new novel, Remember Tomorrow, is coming in 2019. Her short stories have been widely published and been long and shortlisted for, and won, various prizes. @saintlywriter

Rose McGinty is the author of Electric Souk. She lives in Kent and is a creative writing tutor and editor at Retreat West. Previously she worked for the NHS. Rose has won a number of writing competitions and had short stories selected for anthologies. She also enjoys running creative writing workshops in support of social causes. @rosemcginty

About the book
A collection of 24 short stories celebrating a hundred years of women’ suffrage, from both established and emerging authors, all of whom have been inspired by the suffragettes and whose stories, whether set in 1918, the current day or the future, focus on the same freedoms that those women fought for so courageously.

A clerk of works at the Palace of Westminster encounters Emily Davison in a broom cupboard; a mermaid dares to tread on land to please the man she loves; a school girl friendship makes the suffragette protests relevant to the modern day; a mother leaves her child for a tree; an online troll has to face his target; and a woman caught in modern day slavery discovers a chance for freedom in a newspaper cutting.

These stories and many more come together in a collection that doesn’t shy away from the reality of a woman’s world, which has injustices and inequalities alongside opportunities and hard-won freedoms, but always finds strength, bravery and hope.

Through this anthology Retreat West Books is proud to support Hestia and the UK Says No More campaign against domestic abuse and sexual violence.

The stories are inspired by the suffragettes and also by stories of women and oppression. The tip of the iceberg was fighting for the right to have a voice and vote, but the fight for all the other freedoms is still a raging battle.

Each one of the stories comes at the topic of oppression, domestic abuse, rape, sexual abuse, neglect, slavery and inequality from a completely different angle. The importance of that might not be relevant until you read each story and perhaps recognise a factor or a character you can personally relate to in a few or just in one story.

That in itself is an important statement, because the authors don't purport to be the same as you or I or to have lived the same lives, but they do want each of us to connect with what we have in common. On some level or another each one of us will have experienced something in life that has tried to or still tries to define us as being the weaker gender, the prey, the never quite equal player in business, sport, politics or the world in general. Somewhere out there, there is always someone thinking or acting upon the concept of 'but you're just a girl' - and that is certainly one of our common denominators in life.

Women, and I have said this before, are often their own worst enemy and greatest opposition, because they have been raised to believe the misconceptions and the rule created by the patriarchal systems and society we live in - that woman is less than man. Everything about women is based upon that archaic thought. When society created a layered hierarchy they created it with women as the plus one at the table.

The only way we can alter the thought-process, the system and the way we are treated and perceived is to link together and support each other. Stand up, speak out and be counted. Don't let men, and women wearing rose-tinted glasses, steal your voice and allow them to take us back into the Dark Ages. Let me tell you that you will be sneered at, ridiculed, abused and denied your rights, but one day change will come. Women like Sarah Parker Remond, Elizabeth Stanton. Alice Paul, Emmeline Pankhurst, Sushama Sen and PL Roy fought for their voice and ours, and we have to fight to keep it.

The book contains the following: The Word For Freedom, Counting For England, Below The Line, Women Don’t Kill Animals by, One Woman - One Vote, Cover Their Bright Faces, My Mother Left Me For A Tree, Myopia, The Colour Of Sunflowers, Enid Is Going On A Journey, To The Sea, Sayyida Nanda, Relevant, Those Who Trespass Against Us, Past Present Future, Tiny Valentines, The Silent Woman, Not Our Kind Of Girl, Treading On Needles, The Second Brain, The Servitude Of The Sudaarp, Out Of Office, Gristle and Brick.

It's full of distinctive and powerful voices. In some of them you can feel the anger, the disillusionment, the concern that it may never change, but you can also feel and read the fight. Never lose the will to fight for what is rightfully yours. The right to be safe, to be heard and be equal unto others.

Buy The Word for Freedom at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Published by Retreat West on 1 November 2018

Retreat West Books is an independent press publishing paperback books and ebooks.
Founder, Amanda Saint, is a novelist and short story writer. She’s also a features journalist writing about environmental sustainability and climate change. So all Retreat West Books publications take advantage of digital technology advances and are print-on-demand, in order to make best use of the world’s finite resources.
Retreat West Books is an arm of Amanda’s creative writing business, Retreat West, through which she runs fiction writing retreats, courses and competitions and provides editorial services.
Initially started to publish the anthologies of winning stories in the Retreat West competitions, Retreat West Books is now open for submissions for short story collections, novels and memoirs. Submission info can be found here.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

#Blogtour The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond

It's my turn on the BlogTour The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond. It's a fascinating literary thriller. Keep your eye on this author!
About the Author
Gary Raymond is a novelist, critic, editor and broadcaster. He is the presenter of BBC Radio Wales', The Review Show, and is one of the founding editors of Wales Arts Review. He is the author of two novels, The Golden Orphans (Parthian, 2018) and For Those Who Come After (Parthian, 2015). He is a widely published critic and cultural commentator.

Follow @GaryRaymond_ @ParthianBooks on Twitter
Amazon Author page
Buy The Golden Orphans

About the book
Within the dark heart of an abandoned city, on an island once torn by betrayal and war, lies a terrible secret…

Francis Benthem is a successful artist; he's created a new life on an island in the sun. He works all night, painting the dreams of his mysterious Russian benefactor, Illy Prostakov. He writes letters to old friends and students back in cold, far away London. But now Francis Benthem is found dead. The funeral is planned and his old friend from art school arrives to finish what Benthem had started. The painting of dreams on a faraway island. But you can also paint nightmares and Illy has secrets of his own that are not ready for the light. Of promises made and broken, betrayal and murder...

The narrator is a young artist, who has been invited to the funeral of his old mentor Francis. What begins as a goodbye to an old friend quickly becomes like something out of a bizarre parallel universe, where Rapunzel is replaced by a less than willing tower dweller.

Raymond writes with the skill of an old master. He creates this unusual atmosphere which has nothing to do with the surroundings per se and everything to do with the characters. He incorporates the complex and volatile history of Cyprus with the simmering unease of the present day situation.

The characters are strong and memorable, and yet simultaneously remain elusive and shallow. As a reader you think the author is about to reveal more about them, and bang a door closes in your face. I was intrigued by the relationship between Illy, his painters and the paintings he craves. It made me wonder whether his request is physically possible or if it is something akin to chasing the Holy Grail.

Although this is a literary thriller I think this also had the potential to simply be a literary piece of fiction. The whole spiel between Illy, Francis, the narrator, and the painting would have made for a spectacular and fascinating read. It didn't need the added layer of a thriller.

There is something about Raymond's writing that will definitely have me looking out for more. He weaves and it flows with such a natural ease, it's as if an old friend has invited you in for a comfortable chinwag and decides to confront you with an unexpected proposition.

It's a mixture of literary hobnobbery and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels Russian gangster vibe. What's not to like?

Buy The Golden Orphans at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Buy The Golden Orphans at Amazon com at Waterstones Book Depository Barnes & Noble Kobo
Published by Parthian Books on 30th June 2018