Thursday, 28 February 2019

#BlogTour The Pumilio Child by Judy McInerney


It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Pumilio Child by Judy McInerney today. It's a gem of a book. It's historical fiction, and yet literary fiction in equal measures.


About the Author
Judy McInerney has lived and worked in London for most of her professional life. Living in the Middle East, she managed to get lost in the desert, and to live through a military coup. After teaching in Abu Dhabi and starting her own business in Turkey, she returned to London and completed a creative writing course at Goldsmiths. Writing for food and travel guides has enabled her to justify travelling and eating out far too often

As a frequent traveller to China over the last thirty years she has seen the country undergo massive seismic changes, - from the times of Mao jackets and vast shoals of bicycles meandering along every hutong, to the present day, where Beijing is bigger than Belgium and has six million cars. She still travels in China each year to keep in close touch with family there. She also has a longstanding love affair with Italy, particularly the Renaissance cities of the north. Mantua is an undiscovered gem, both magical and macabre.

Buy The Pumilio Child


About the book
Ya Ling's cultured life of privilege in Beijing is cruelly cut short when she is abducted and shipped to the slave market in Venice. When Mantegna sees her chained to a post, his initial intention is to paint her exotic beauty, but he soon he desires her company for pleasures of a more private nature. Ya Ling has two ambitions, to ruin Mantegna, then to escape back to her family in China. However, Mantegna's latest commission, two huge frescos for the ruling Gonzaga family, make him invincible. Will Ya Ling survive? And can she succeed?

Review
Ya Ling is a young, bright and talented woman, who lives a life of luxury in Beijing. Shortly after her betrothal she is brutally kidnapped, and in matter of months goes from an important wealthy woman to a mere concubine. Bought by a painter, who insists he wants to paint her beauty, but never actually paints her. His attitude towards women and his servants is a complete contradiction to the exquisite art he creates.

What the author captures beautifully is the way the worlds of East and West collide. Not only culturally, but also in regards to religion and faith. Ya Ling manages to maintain her dignity and inner strength, despite all her trials and tribulations. Her reverence for her gift and talent for healing is what keeps her going throughout the pain, humiliation and despair.

The Renaissance tends to be romanticised, especially on the big and small screen. The squalor, desperation and viciousness is swept under the billowing skirts of the wealthy. The more sordid tastes, habits and criminal enterprises of the well-coined become a footnote in history or just disappear completely.

I would like to have seen some notes or references to back up certain claims in regards to the Pumilio children. It's presented as a forgotten historical fact in the blurb. As for the life and times of the revered Renaissance painter Mantegna, again without references I would presume artistic licence has been taken.

As a purely fictional premise I really enjoyed the story of Ya Ling, and indeed I was sorry to say goodbye to a woman of such strength and determination. A young girl thrown into a strange world of violence and abuse, but determined throughout to regain her freedom and return home to her beloved family.

It's historical fiction, albeit perhaps more fiction than historical fact, and yet literary fiction in equal measures. McInerney projects the soothing, healing nature of the main character in an unforgettable manner. It's a compelling read.

Buy The Pumilio Child at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound Digital; pub date 20 Sept. 2018. Buy at Unbound, at Amazon com

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

#BlogTour The Beauty of the Wolf by Wray Delaney


Today it is a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Beauty of the Wolf by Wray Delaney. Delaney aka Sally Gardner, has a talent for turning the wicked and macabre into captivating tales full of magical and mystical elements.

If you decide to buy a hardcopy or paperback version of this book, I highly recommend the hardcover both for bookworms, who love a handsome physical copy, and as a present. It is absolutely stunning!

About the Author
Wray Delaney is the pseudonym of the award winning novelist Sally Gardner. She has sold over 2 million books in the UK and her work has been translated in to more than 22 languages. She has won both the Costa Children’s Book Prize and the Carnegie Medal 2013 for Maggot Moon. She also won the 2005 Nestle Children’s Book Prize for her debut novel I, Coriander. She writes books for children aged seven and upwards.

The Beauty of the Wolf is her second adult novel. Her debut adult novel, An Almond for a Parrot is a fascinating combination of historical fiction with a cheeky touch of soft erotica.The Beauty of the Wolf is a timely, feminist retelling of Beauty and the Beast, reversing the gender roles of the original fairytale with subtle undercurrents of topical themes such as gender and sexuality and body positivity.

Follow @TheSallyGardner @fictionpubteam @HQStories, on Goodreads,
Visit sallygardner.net
Buy The Beauty of the Wolf


About the book
In the age of the Faerie Queene, Elizabeth I, a period of ruffles and lace, of wrought velvet and blanched satins, two newborn babes are cursed, one with unimaginable beauty and the other, in its mirror image, a beast. But how could beauty ever be a curse?

Not only will all be blind to Beau’s true self, for all will lust after him but none will have the power to see past such an enchanted face – but the curse shall cause his own father’s death.

Meanwhile the beast, Randa, is locked away in her father’s cellar – lonely and hidden away. She longs for love, but how could anyone ever see past her wings and beak and fierce talons?

Is it possible that these two cursed creatures, each the mirror image of the other, could be one another’s salvation when all hope is lost?


Review
Delaney is channelling her inner Brothers Grimm in this modern retelling of the old classic The Beauty and the Beast. The original, dark and twisted Grimm, not the politically correct revamped and toned down versions we read as children or to our own children at bedtime. Yes, I do know Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve wrote the Beauty and the Beast. I am talking about the gritty, brutal and noirish quality of original fairytales in general.

The author has written the story with an old school pen and tongue. It is a very 'Do you become a rose-tree, and I the rose upon it' kind of story.

I am actually going to go out on a limb here, perhaps even the pirates plank, and suggest that the reader leave behind any known version or connotations in relation to the story this is based on. Let me tell you why.

Personally I think the story would have worked just as well, possibly better without the in your face connection to the original premise. By all means mention the inspiration in the author's note for instance. This story is a tale unto itself and deserves to be stood alone on the podium without any ghosts of the past swirling around it. As it stands readers may be reading and comparing during the entire read.

I believe turning the roles upside down and inside out is important in a world where women and girls are defined by their beauty or lack of it in the majority of stories. Girls grow up being shown by advertising industries, television, movies and life in general, a version of themselves they are supposed to aspire to, regardless of whether they can or not. What remains are generations of women who suffer from insecurity, mental health issues and an overwhelming sense of never being good enough. In a way Randa is that insecure ugly duckling.

Wray Delaney, which is the pseudonym of the successful award winning novelist Sally Gardner, has a talent for turning the wicked and macabre into captivating tales full of magical  and mystical elements. She has the ability to pull the reader deep into her world. I hope this isn't her last venture into the adult world of books.

Buy The Beauty of the Wolf at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 21 Feb. 2019. Buy at Amazon com, at Waterstones,

Read my review of An Almond for a Parrot by Wray Delaney


#BlogTour The Girl Next Door by Phoebe Morgan


It's my turn on the BlogTour The Girl Next Door by Phoebe Morgan. It's a psychological thriller that takes no prisoners and leaves the survivors hoping they won't be targeted next.

About the Author
Phoebe Morgan is an author and senior commissioning editor. She studied English at Leeds University after growing up in the Suffolk countryside. She has previously worked as a journalist and now edits crime and women’s fiction for a publishing house during the day, and writes her own books in the evenings. The Doll House was her debut novel. It became a #1 iBooks bestseller and spent over 8 weeks in the Kindle top 100. Her second book, The Girl Next Door, was published on the 21st of February 2019 in paperback, ebook and audio, and a third will follow in 2020.

Follow @Phoebe_A_Morgan  @HQStories on Twitter, on Amazon, on Goodreads,
Visit phoebemorganauthor.com
Buy The Girl Next Door


About the book
One little lie just became deadly…

Perfect mother. Perfect wife. Jane Goodwin has spent years building her picture-perfect life in the quiet village of Ashdon. So when sixteen-year-old Clare Edwards is found murdered in Sorrow's Meadow, Jane knows she must first protect her family.

Every marriage has a few white lies and hers is no exception. Jane's worked hard to cover up her dark secret from all those years ago - and she'll do anything to keep it hidden...

Review
It starts off with a creepy Lovely Bones kind of vibe. The seemingly perfect neighbours with loving couples living behind their white picket fences. The last people anyone would suspect of having a less than happy life.

Of course we all know that in reality behind every door the most heinous of secrets can be hidden from the world. Just because everything appears to be fine on the exterior it doesn't mean the interior is idyllic.

When a teenage girl goes missing and is found murdered a few hours later everyone becomes a suspect, even her stepfather. The beautiful, vivacious young girl caught the eyes of many men, who perhaps shouldn't have been eyeing her up like cats sniffing a bit of catnip.

I have to tread carefully not to give any of the plot away, because the reader deserves to experience the nasty little twist themselves. I could however talk about it for yonks. Kudos to the author for the twist and the way she has incorporated a relevant and extremely important topic as part of the crime. An element of of our society, which is often ridiculed and buried among other statistics.

The insidious dark nature of abuse is often determined by preconceived notions and this idea about potential perpetrators and victims. These misconceptions lead to a large number of cases being dismissed or warning signs being brushed aside like a pesky fly.

It's a psychological thriller that takes no prisoners and leaves the survivors hoping they won't be targeted next. I really enjoyed the way Morgan wrapped it all up in the end. I absolutely agree that to understand the face of evil or a person with a certain psychopathology one should end the story the way they would end it.

Buy The Girl Next Door at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 21 Feb. 2019


Monday, 25 February 2019

#BlogTour The Secretary by Renee Knight


Today it really is a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Secretary by Renee Knight. It's a contemporary story with the vibe of a psychological thriller.


About the Author
Renée Knight worked as a documentary-maker for the BBC before turning to writing. She is a graduate of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course, and lives in London with her husband and two children. Her widely acclaimed debut novel, Disclaimer, was a Sunday Times No.1 bestseller. The Secretary is her second novel.

Buy The Secretary


About the book
Look around you. Who holds the most power in the room? Is it the one who speaks loudest, who looks the part, who has the most money, who commands the most respect?

Or perhaps it’s someone like Christine Butcher: a meek, overlooked figure, who silently bears witness as information is shared and secrets are whispered. Someone who quietly, perhaps even unwittingly, gathers together knowledge of the people she’s there to serve – the ones who don’t notice her, the ones who consider themselves to be important.

There’s a fine line between loyalty and betrayal. And when someone like Christine Butcher is pushed to her limit, she might just become the most dangerous person in the room . . .


Review
Even though the reader technically knows who the bad guy is, for me the lines are a little skewed. No matter what separates Christine and Mina, whether it is status, money or goals in life, they also have a lot of similarities. Neither of them recognises that fact in the other though.

Mina is used to being at the top of the food chain and expects everyone around her to act accordingly, especially those closest to her. She also expects Christine to put everything and everyone, including family members, way behind what Mina wants and needs. Of course this leads to Christine neglecting those closest to her.

Christine is meticulous when it comes to the finer details of her work. She is everything a PA is supposed to be; punctual, takes care of things before her employer thinks she needs it and loyal to a fault. She admires Mina, and in a way she perhaps wants to be her.

This story pits two very different women against each other, and yet they are also two peas in a pod. Willing to sacrifice everything to excel at their own personal goals, whilst pretending to the world to be something they are not and never will be. It's an ode to the insincerity in our society, the hunger for fame and the willingness of the public to lap it all up.

Simultaneously it also speaks to the fragile nature of trust and loyalty, and the impact on relationships with an imbalance of power. They become a breeding ground for unhealthy obsessions and accusations.

I particularly enjoyed the ending. It was satisfying, It wasn't what I expected, which is always a plus, but in general it just felt as if the author managed to bring the story full circle. It's a contemporary story with the vibe of a psychological thriller.

Buy The Secretary at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Doubleday; pub date 21 Feb. 2019, Buy at Amazon com
Follow @DoubledayUK @TransworldBooks


Saturday, 23 February 2019

The Lost Man by Jane Harper


Harper is undeniably a master of her art. She is a highly skilled storyteller, and her stories are only getting better. I found myself transfixed by the description of the surroundings, the characters and the tale in general. It's the kind of book that makes you skip sleep.

Kudos to Harper for the level of hands-on research it must have taken to be able to pull this story off with such an authentic feel to it. She captures the complete isolation of the surroundings and the strict rules each and every inhabitant of the land has to adhere to in order to survive.

That is the biggest question when the body of Cameron Bright is found in the outback of Queensland. Why didn't he stick to the rules that have been rammed into him since he was a child? The obvious solution, and perhaps the most painful for the family, is that his death was a choice.

The author shines a light on the adverse psychological affect of solitude, loneliness and the almost impossible task of keeping a property or business afloat in these remote areas. The high rates of suicide in rural Australia are on an upwards trend, and men seem especially reluctant to seek help.

With the suspicion of suicide surrounding the death of their brother both Nathan and Bub have to take a closer look at their own mental health. This is particularly the case where Nathan is concerned, because he has been treated like a persona non grata since an unfortunate incident over a decade ago. Imagine being in a remote area and not seeing another person for months on end and then being treated like a pariah when you enter the only place that offers a break from the isolation.

Harper plots with the slow intensity of a predator stalking their prey, and yet she does so in such a warm and inviting way that the reader becomes so engrossed that they can't see what's coming or what is looking right at them.

I really enjoyed where the author took this plot. It was unexpected, but also absolutely necessary. The motive is universal, the repercussions of what proceeds the motive last a lifetime. It's a beautiful slow-burner of a crime set within the outback, with strong characters and a fantastic plot.

Buy The Lost Man at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group; Hardcover pub date 7 Feb 2019, Kindle pub date 23 Oct 2018, Paperback release date 27 June 2019

Follow @janeharperautho @LittleBrownUK, Visit janeharper.com.au

Read my review of Force of Nature by Jane Harper


Friday, 22 February 2019

#BlogTour Inborn by Thomas Enger


At last it's my turn on the BlogTour Inborn by Thomas Enger. It's an engrossing layered crime that invites the reader in for a criminal illusionists game of sleight of hand. 


About the Author
Thomas Enger is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication, and marked the first in the bestselling Henning Juul series. Rights to the series have been sold to 28 countries to date. In 2013 Thomas published his first  book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the UPRISEN (the prize for best YA novel). His next YA thriller Killer Instinct, upon which Inborn is based, was published in Norway in 2017 and won the same prestigious prize. Most recently, Thomas has co-written a thriller with Jørn Lier Horst. He also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.

Follow @EngerThomas @OrendaBooks on Twitter, Visit thomasenger.net
Buy Inborn


About the book
What turns a boy into a killer?

When teenagers Mari Lindgren and Johannes Eklund are brutally murdered at their high school in the small Norwegian village of Fredheim, the finger is soon pointed at seventeen-year-old Even, Mari’s ex-boyfriend. As the investigation closes in, social media is ablaze with accusations, rumours and even threats, and Even finds himself in the dock - both online. and in reality.

As Even pores over his memories of the months leading up to the crime, it becomes clear that more than one villager was acting suspiciously … and secrets are simmering beneath the calm surface of this close-knit community. Events from the past play tag with the present, and Even is forced to question everything he thought he knew.

Was the death of his father in a car crash a decade earlier really accidental? Did his relationship with Mari stir up something that someone was prepared to kill to protect? There seems to be no one that Even can trust. And can we even trust him?

Review
I make a point of not reading reviews of a book I want to read or am interested in, because I don't want my experience tainted to be by the thoughts and reading experiences of others. This book has been all over my timeline on social media and I have been avoiding any discussions or comments, in order to be able to enjoy it. You know, just like I wouldn't want anyone dipping a finger in my glass of wine or nibbling a bit off my bar of chocolate.

Was it worth the one-eyed slanted interactions on social media to be able to do that? Absolutely. In my opinion this is the best I have read by Enger so far. The pace, the plot, the thought-process, the characters and the writing. It just all came together to make the perfect read.

When the body of a teenage girl is found brutally murdered in the local high school of a small Norwegian village, the suspicion falls on the ex-boyfriend, Even. He has a motive and perhaps even the opportunity. He was enraged by the fact Mari had broken their relationship off without an explanation. The question is whether he was angry enough to hurt her.

Enger focuses on the reactions of the community and the impact of social media on the way Even reacts and relates to the events. The author shows the reader how important the opinion of the online voices are to such a young person. Positive confirmation via likes and supporting comments, and a the opposite impact on his emotional well-being when the comments are negative. Much like many other young men and women his behaviour and reactions are governed by third parties on the internet, often by anonymous voices.

It's a complex web of intrigue and family secrets. Is evil inherent in those exposed to a certain degree of neglect, criminal acts and violence, especially when exposed from a very young age? Does one rotten fruit on the tree mean the rest of the apples are tainted in some way?

I really enjoyed the combo of genres, and the plot itself speaks to the increase in violence and inclination to commit heinous acts in fits of rage. Feelings of anger and rage propel otherwise seemingly innocent people towards the brink of destruction. The lack of impulse control seems to be the plague of the 21st century in regards to young people, perhaps even people in general.

It's a unstable structure of lies and misconceptions that moves subtly with the surreptitious nature of the usually controlled emotional beast, which lays dormant within us all. The key to awakening it is different for each one of us. It's an engrossing and layered crime that invites the reader in for a criminal illusionists game of sleight of hand.

Buy Inborn at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Orenda Books; pub date 21 Feb. 2019, Buy at Amazon com

Read my review of Killed by Thomas Enger
Read my review of Cursed by Thomas Enger


Thursday, 21 February 2019

#BlogTour One Last Prayer for the Rays by Wes Markin


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour One Last Prayer for the Rays by Wes Markin. It's crime fiction, but with a horror vibe.
About the Author
Wes Markin is a hyperactive English teacher, who loves writing crime fiction with a twist of the macabre.

​Having released One Last Prayer for the Rays he is now working on the second instalment of DCI Michael Yorke’s wild ride, The Repenting Serpent. He is also the author of Defined, a prequel to his DCI Yorke novels, which takes the reader back to his blood-soaked university days.​​

Born in 1978, Wes grew up in Manchester, UK. After graduating from Leeds University, he spent fifteen years as a teacher of English, and has taught in Thailand, Malaysia and China. Now as a teacher, writer, husband and father, he is currently living in Harrogate, UK.​

Follow @MarkinWes on Twitter, on Facebook, Visit wesmarkinbooks.weebly.com
Buy One Last Prayer for the Rays


About the book
DCI Michael Yorke faces his most harrowing case yet.

When 12-year-old Paul disappears from school, Yorke’s only clue is a pool of animal blood. Fearing the worst, he turns toward the most obvious suspect, recently released local murderer, Thomas Ray.
But as the snow in Salisbury worsens, Ray’s mutilated body is discovered, and Yorke is left with no choice but to journey into the sinister heart of a demented family that has plagued the community for generations. Can he save the boy? Or will the evil he discovers changes him forever?

Review
DCI Michael Yorke is called to the scene of what appears to be a brutal crime. A pool of blood in a school toilet and a missing 12-year-old boy suggest that something awful has happened. If someone in the school killed him then where the heck have they hidden the body?

The story takes on a whole different angle when it appears as if the scene of the crime isn't quite what it seems to be and to make matters worse there is a known mentally unstable murderer on the loose.
It's interesting how Markin gives the readers a horror crime scenario, but manages to write it in a way that doesn't present it as overly graphic. The reader gets a sort of birds eye view of the horrific crime scenes or crimes, the author adds in some suggestive descriptions and dialogue, and then leaves the rest up to our imaginations. (Shudder)

It's like a really screwed up episode of Criminal Minds when it comes to the really insane and murderous Ray family. There are just far too many of them for anyone to feel safe. Just take that into consideration the next time you meet someone with the surname Ray. You never know they might be a second cousin twice removed or crazy great uncle Rays illegitimate progeny. Just saying.

It's crime fiction, but with a horror vibe. The type of story that creeps you out and creates an unhealthy measure of distrust. I am hoping the Rays don't procreate any more going forward, there is something seriously wrong with the majority of them.

Buy One Last Prayer for the Rays at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Independently published; pub date 29 Jan. 2019, Buy at Amazon com


#BlogBlitz It Started With a Note by Victoria Cooke


It's a pleasure to take part in this 1 day Blog Blitz for It Started with a Note by Victoria Cooke. It's a contemporary romance and it is also a story about a woman finding herself by walking the path of her ancestors past.

Enter the Giveaway below to Win a Signed copy of It Started With A Note (UK Only)


About the Author
Victoria Cooke grew up in the city of Manchester before crossing the Pennines in pursuit of her career in education. She now lives in Huddersfield with her husband and two young daughters and when she’s not at home writing by the fire with a cup of coffee in her hand, she loves working out in the gym and travelling.

Victoria was first published at the tender age of eight by her classroom teacher who saw potential in a six-page story about an invisible man. Since then she’s always had a passion for reading and writing, undertaking several writers’ courses before completing her first romantic comedy novel, 'The Secret to Falling in Love,' in 2016. Cooke's third novel, Who Needs Men Anyway? became a digital bestseller in 2018.

Follow @VictoriaCooke10 @HQDigitalUK on Twitter,
Follow Victoria Cooke on Goodreads, on Facebook, on Instagram, Visit victoria-cooke.com
Buy It Started with a Note


About the book
One lost letter. A chance to change her life!
Superhero single mum Cath always puts other people first. But now that she’s seen her son safely off to university (phew!), life seems a little, well…empty.

So when Cath unexpectedly discovers some letters written by her great-grandfather during the First World War, she decides to take herself on an adventure to France to retrace his footsteps.

Cath expects to spend her holiday visiting famous battlefields and testing out her French phrase book. What she doesn’t anticipate is that her tour guide, the handsome Olivier, will be quite so charming! Soon Cath isn’t simply unearthing the stories of the past – she’s writing a brand new one of her own, which might end up taking her in a very unexpected direction…

Review
I think Cath is a perfect example of why the majority of women spend a lifetime neglecting their own desires and needs for those of their loved ones. Most of us have been hardwired to be caregivers and never to be takers. To give our last penny and the shirt off of our backs to those we love the most.

When women do take what they want or need they are often considered selfish and ruthless. Perhaps more women need to be brave enough to make so-called selfish choices and let themselves be happy. To let themselves experience something other than being the person who takes care of everything for everyone but themselves.

When Cath finally stands up to her mooching brother and her entitled son, they belittle and laugh at her decision to visit France. Specifically to see the places her great-grandfather saw and experienced as a soldier in the First World War. To follow his journey along the battlefields, which led to his untimely death.

For me, this was the most interesting and enjoyable part of the story. It's nostalgic and poignant in equal measures. I can imagine many of us want to and already have tried to connect to the past, and the brave men and women who gave their lives for their country. It's even more emotional when you have a personal connection to someone who was part of the horror, whether they returned home or not.

The relationship that blossoms between Cath and someone who shares her passion for the past is perhaps stronger because of the emotional turmoil surrounding the trip they take together. Either way the past and the romance of the present walk together hand in hand in this lovely little story. It's a contemporary romance and it is also a story about a woman finding herself by walking the path of her ancestors past.

Buy It Started with a Note at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ Digital; pub date 21 Feb. 2019, Buy at Amazon com, at Kobo

Enter the Giveaway below to Win a Signed copy of It Started With A Note (UK Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway *Terms and Conditions –UK 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 Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

#BlogTour Fade to Grey by John Lincoln


Today it's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Fade to Grey by John Lincoln. It's a legal and crime thriller with a mystery thrown in to boot, which is complicated by the personal issues that seem to follow Gethin around like a bad smell.


About the Author
John Lincoln is the transparent pseudonym of John Williams, the novelist, biographer and crime fiction reviewer for the Mail on Sunday. In his twenties John Williams wrote a book called Into The Badlands, about American crime fiction (‘John Williams' Into the Badlands opened up the world of American crime fiction for me and a generation’ – David Peace).

His true crime account of a notorious miscarriage of justice, Bloody Valentine, is a cult classic, described by Benjamin Zephaniah as his favourite book. Since then he’s written eight more books including the Cardiff Trilogy of novels and biographies of Michael X, Eartha Kitt and Dame Shirley Bassey.

Follow @JohnelWilliams @noexitpress on Twitter, Visit johnlwilliams.co.uk
Buy Fade to Grey


About the book
Gethin Grey is the man you call when there’s nowhere else to turn. His Last Resort Legals team
investigates miscarriages of justice. But Gethin is running out of options himself: his gambling is out of control, his marriage is falling apart and there’s no money left to pay the wages…

Izma M was sent down years ago for the brutal murder of a young woman. In jail he’s written a
bestseller and become a cult hero, and now the charismatic fading-film-star Amelia Laverne wants to
bankroll Gethin to prove Izma's innocence. For Gethin – low on luck and cash – the job is heaven sent.

But is Izma M really as blameless as his fans believe? This seemingly cold case is about to turn very hot indeed…

Review
The Last Resort Legals team has become the team to call when it comes to miscarriages of justice. They are a direct line from the prisoners to the possible door to freedom via a legal defence team. Of course nearly everyone behind bars protests their innocence even when the evidence points directly at them.

Gethin Grey is an odd mixture of a man who wants to be known for his noble endeavours, and yet simultaneously he is driven at heart by his gambling addiction and inner demons. Perhaps he thinks he can use his so-called saintly actions to rescue innocent people from the prison system to cleanse his guilty conscience.

Aside from the gratuitous one-time use of an offensive term referencing a certain sexuality it's an easygoing crime read. Lincoln keeps the violence to a minimum, despite the story being a fast-moving complex plot of red herrings and false identities. All of which becomes doubly complicated by the client who wants Gethin to prove Ismaz is doing the time, but didn't commit the crime.

I have to admit I wasn't feeling Gethin's wife and her justifications or her reactions, possibly because Gethin manages to come off as a sympathetic character. Not sure how, because he has a thirst for lady luck and the propensity to fall into the arms of accommodating women.

It's the type of crime thriller that keeps an authentic feel throughout because a lot of the scenarios border on realism. Gethin has to put his own problems aside to deal with the mystery of whether Izma is guilty or not. Lincoln shows how easily someone can be stereotyped and fall into the clutches of the legal and prison system, despite the lack of any substantial evidence.

It's a legal and crime thriller with a mystery thrown in to boot, which is complicated by the personal issues that seem to follow Gethin around like a bad smell. Oh, and just as a small side note - I was fascinated by the upside down house. I think it might have messed with my head a little.

Buy Fade to Grey at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: No Exit Press; pub date 21 Feb 2019, Buy at No Exit Press

Monday, 18 February 2019

#BlogTour The Horseman's Song by Ben Pastor


Today it's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Horseman's Song by Ben Pastor. It's crime, war, conflict and yet at the same time it's also a statement of human inadequacies during times of great upheaval.


About the Author
Ben Pastor, pseudonym Maria Verbena Volpi, was born in Italy and worked as a university professor in Vermont. She lived for thirty years in the United States, working as a university professor, before returning to Italy to write historical thrillers. She has published five novels in the Martin Bora series in English so far and a number of prize-winning novels including The Water Thief and The Fire Waker (published to high acclaim in the US by St. Martin's Press), and is considered one of the most talented writers in the field of historical fiction. In 2008 she won the prestigious Premio Zaragoza for best historical fiction. She writes in English.

Visit benpastor.com
Buy The Horseman's Song


About the book
Spain, July 1937. The tragic prelude to World War II is played out in the civil war between Spanish nationalists and republicans. Among Franco’s volunteers is Martin Bora, the twenty-something German officer and detective. Presently assigned to the Spanish Foreign Legion, Bora lives the tragedy around him as an epic, between idealism and youthful recklessness.

Doubts about his mission in Spain arise when Bora happens on the body of Federico García Lorca, a brilliant poet, progressive and homosexual. Who murdered him? Why? The official version does not convince Bora, who, intoxicated by the mystery, begins a perilous investigation. His inquiry paradoxically proceeds alongside that of Walton, his opposite number with the International Brigades. Soon the German and the New Englander join forces, and their cooperation will not only culminate in a thrilling chase after a murderer, but also in an existential face-to-face between two adversaries forever changed by their encounter.

Historical accounts tell us that Lorca was arrested and executed by Franco’s troops under circumstances that remain largely unknown. To this day his body has not been found.

Review
Can one be lyrical during times of war and have time to enjoy moments of poignant prose? The answer to that is yes and perhaps even more so considering who the victim is in this historical crime story. Pastor has gone back in time to use the disputed and controversial murder of the famous Spanish poet Federico García Lorca.

His body was never found and there are plenty of books and debates about the why or indeed the culprits. The only thing everyone agrees on is that he was assassinated. The reasons seem to wander between his political affiliations and  the fact he was homosexual. The truth will be somewhere in between, killed as part of mass execution protocols to extinguish supporters of the Marxist Popular Front and perhaps insulted before his death for his sexuality.

The author has taken that mystery and created a fascinating search for answers between two opposing sides in the midst of the Spanish civil war. Instead of focusing on strategy, front-lines and battle, this is about the men and women in the middle of brutal political machinations.

In, what I believe is, more of an ironic nod towards the search for the remains of Lorcas since his death, the plot revolves around finding the corpse. In fact there is less of a focus on the culprits than on the whole we need to find the body to give him a burial and honour him. To this day thousands have been spent on locating the remains of this honoured and revered poet.

Pastor has a very distinctive literary style, old school reflective and taking in all the sights and senses. In combination with the brash, brutal reality of wartime conflict it can be a little confusing. A bit like watching a black and white silent movie through a periscope with one eye, whilst the other eye is being battered with vivid, colourful and noisy images at the same time.

It's crime, war, conflict and yet at the same time it's also a statement of human inadequacies during times of great upheaval.

Buy The Horseman's Song at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press; pub date Paperback 14 Feb 2019, Kindle pub date 20 Feb 2019,
Buy at Bitter Lemon Press. Follow @bitterlemonpub on Twitter

Out of the Silence by Owen Mullen


I am delighted to welcome Owen Mullen to the blog today and his crime fiction novel Out of the Silence. Don't miss the brilliant Q&A with Owen!


About the Author
Owen Mullen is a McIlvanney Crime Book Of The Year long-listed novelist.

Owen graduated from Strathclyde University, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; he still loves to perform on occasion. His passion for travel has taken him on many adventures from the Amazon and Africa to the colourful continent of India and Nepal. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow, and their home in the Greek Islands where In Harm's Way and the Charlie Cameron and Delaney series' were created and written. His latest novel Out Of The Silence is an epic revenge thriller set in Pakistan.

Follow @OwenMullen6 @Bloodhoundbook on Twitter,
on Instagram, on Facebook, on YoutubeAmazon Author page, Goodreads Author page, Bookbub page,
Buy Out of the Silence


About the book
A compelling revenge thriller

Star investigative reporter Ralph Buchanan’s glory days are behind him. His newspaper has banished him to Pakistan, not knowing the greatest moment of his long career is waiting for him there. When Simone Jasnin asks him to help expose a grave injustice, he finds himself embroiled in a harrowing tale that began in a dusty settlement in rural Punjab, setting in motion a chain of events that will change the lives of everyone involved.

Seven years later in the city of Lahore, members of a prominent family are being brutally murdered, one by one. The only clue is a hand-carved wooden bangle left at the scene of each crime. As the list of suspects grows and the tension mounts, Ralph realises the answers might be closer to home than he ever thought possible.

Solving the mystery will put him back on top but at what cost?
Only when the smoke clears will the killing stop and honour be satisfied…


Q&A with Owen Mullen
Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a set of questions I call 'Breaking the Ice.'

The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms would like to know)
Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child

The last movie you watched, which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, wallet...you name it)? Calibre...great Scottish drama

Writers or books who have inspired you to put pen to paper?
Stephen King and James Lee Burke

Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet?
Jesus Christ...that would be an interesting conversation!

A famous declutterer a la Marie Kondo has decided to help you organise your home - you have to get rid of all but three of your books (the ones you have written yourself are exempt) which three would you pick and why?
Firstly I’ve got my own version of Marie at home! The Collected Stories of Sherlock Holmes – my all-time favourite detective, A Bend In The River by V.S. Naipal – it’s a slow burner but I love his use of language and Brideshead Revisited – an old boss switched me on to Evelyn Waugh

All of the above questions are actually a pretty elaborate pysch evaluation disguised as random questions. Have no fear here come the real ones. Let’s talk about Out of the Silence.

I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by your book. It blends the often stringent boundaries of crime and women's fiction.

I would love to know all about your inspiration for Out of the Silence?
Several years ago I watched a horrific documentary on the treatment of women in Pakistan; it stayed with me. Some years later, my wife Christine and I were travelling in the region for the third time and the idea started to form for an amazing crime thriller set in this wonderfully colourful environment. When we ventured into the Thar dessert we came across a young woman selling salt: when she looked up at me from behind her hijab Afra was born.

The use of the bangles as a plot device to connect the threads is both clever and emotional. Again, I am intrigued by the inspiration to use the bangles in this way.
The idea just arrived from wherever it is they live.

The contrasting effect of seeing how the lives of Jameel and Afra go in such different directions is an excellent example of the stark difference in opportunities and development when it comes to gender. Do you think giving a voice to the silent will help to end or at least level out the inequality a little?
I’m going to be honest here: I didn’t set out to change things. I simply wanted to write a thrilling crime fiction novel. That said however, if anything I ever write can help someone in any way I would be more than delighted.

As I mentioned above I enjoyed the fact that this fits firmly into both crime and women's fiction. Did you know your crime story would end up being a silent call to arms for the abused and oppressed or did it just evolve that way as the story progressed?
The story arrived almost complete for me, so I always knew that Dr Simone would take up the cause.

What’s next for Owen Mullen? Are you already working on something new?
Almost finished the follow up to In Harm’s Way, then there are several ideas fighting for my time!

Thanks for answering all of my questions, even the odd ones!
Thanks for inviting me here today...I really enjoyed it.
Owen


Review
Although the blurb suggests that the investigative reporter Ralph Buchanan is the main character and takes centre stage, the truth is he is a mere bit-player in the story of Afra and Jameel. Saying that, aside from the important connection and emotional significance of the family heirloom Jameel gives to his love, even he doesn't play as much of a pivotal role as Afra.

This story belongs to her, every disillusioned moment, every injury and each second of silence. In turn her story belongs to every woman and girl, who have been and still are treated as a sub-humans. Treated with contempt, abused and used for pleasure and/or pain.

Unfortunately there are still plenty of countries that still do nothing to combat the abuse, molestation, torture, rape and murder of girls and women. Not that our western society has a stellar record, but the country in which this is set, Pakistan, still lives in the dark ages in regards to women's rights and the abuse of women. Don't even get me started on India.

An intriguing and emotional element of the story is the way Mullen connects all the threads of the story with the bangles, and indeed they become an integral part of the plot. They become synonymous with the image of Afra, every time they are mentioned it conjures up images of the young girl before, when her world existed only of her family, the village and Jameel. The innocent girl experiencing the first blushes of young love, before life submerges her into a quagmire of systemic and cultural abuse.

It's a crime thriller combined with a poignant plot about the abuse and neglect of girls and women. This is so much more than a crime thriller, perhaps because the story of Afra takes precedence over the murders, despite the fact everything leads back to her. She is always there in the background, watching and waiting.

Buy Out of the Silence at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy Out of the Silence at Amazon com., at Waterstones, at Foyles, Book Depository,
Publisher: Bloodhound Books; pub date Paperback - 21 Jan. 2019, pub date ebook edition 28 Jan.2019

Sunday, 17 February 2019

#BlogTour Apple Island Wife by Fiona Stocker


It's my turn on the BlogTour Apple Island Wife by Fiona Stocker. It's a loving and warm-hearted memoir of a family willing to change their entire lives in an attempt to find their best life.

About the Author
Fiona Stocker is the author of travel memoir Apple Island Wife - Slow Living in Tasmania, published by Unbound in 2018.

Raised in England, Fiona Stocker now lives in Tasmania where she writes freelance for magazines, newspapers and online publications, and runs a niche farm, food and tourism business in partnership with her husband.

She occasionally works as a ghost writer and editor, and was a judge in the Tasmanian Short Story Competition in 2016. Her first book, A Place in the Stockyard, a history of Tasmanian Women in Agriculture featuring its members, was published in 2016.

Read more and subscribe for a quarterly newsletter at http://www.fionastocker.com/ or read Fiona Stocker's blog at http://www.appleislandwife.com/

Fiona Stocker lives in the Tamar Valley in northern Tasmania, with her husband, two children and around forty-five pigs. Apple Island Wife is her first travel memoir.

Follow @FionaCStocker @Unbound_Digital on Twitter,
Visit appleislandwife and fionastocker
Buy Apple Island Wife: Slow Living in Tasmania


About the book
What happens when you leave city life and move to five acres on a hunch, with a husband who s an aspiring alpaca-whisperer, and a feral cockerel for company? Can you eat the cockerel for dinner? Or has it got rigor mortis?

In search of a good life and a slower pace, Fiona Stocker upped-sticks and moved to Tasmania, a land of promise, wilderness, and family homes of uncertain build quality. It was the lifestyle change that many dream of and most are too sensible to attempt.

Wife, mother and now reluctant alpaca owner, Fiona jumped in at the deep end. Gradually Tasmania got under her skin as she learned to stack wood, round up the kids with a retired lady sheepdog, and stand on a scorpion without getting stung.

This charming tale captures the tussles and euphoria of living on the land in a place of untrammelled beauty, raising your family where you want to and seeing your husband in a whole new light. Not just a memoir but an every woman's story, and a paean to a new, slower age.

Review
The author has a knack for telling a yarn, no pun intended. There are some people, I think we will all know at least one person this applies to, who can make even the most mundane of tasks become an entertaining story. This is what Stocker does with the stories of her family and her anecdotes. In fact she is probably a written advertisement for upping roots and moving to New Zealand.

It's amusing, albeit probably unintentionally so. In a way the author downplays the difficulty of adjusting to such a different way of life, climate and culture, with her entertaining stories. What is lost in the midst of it all is the strength and endurance it must have cost them to deal with every situation and new challenge.

What does come through quite strongly is the support people in remote areas need from their neighbours and friends. The advice, the many years of experience and of course the oddities that come with being a person of the land.

I can't decide which part I enjoyed the most, but there were a fair few laughs along the read. The temperamental alpacas, the cockerel named Vlad or the snake pretending to be a long tailed rat. The neighbour with an affinity to sniff out dead trees, the child-herding dog and the subtle art of wood stacking. Just a small taste of the light-hearted tales within the book.

I enjoyed the way Stocker had no problems taking the mickey out of herself, her husband and their friends. It's done in a playful and respectful manner, but it doesn't make it any less funny. It's a loving and warm-hearted memoir of a family willing to change their entire lives in an attempt to find their best life.

Buy Apple Island Wife: Sow Living in Tasmania at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound Digital; pub date 4 Dec. 2018