Sunday, 31 March 2019

#BlogTour Dark Blossom by Neel Mullick


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Dark Blossom by Neel Mullick. It's a psychological thriller, but hidden in the guise of a story about guilt, conscience and closure.


About the Author
With degrees in Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon, USA, and Business Administration from INSEAD, France, Neel is the Head of Product and Information Security at a Belgian family-office technology company.

He mentors women entrepreneurs through the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, is involved in raising a generation of digital and socially-aware leaders with the Steering for Greatness Foundation (Nigeria), supports improvement in the quality of life of domestic workers at Emprendedoras del Hogar (Peru), and is helping IIMPACT (India) break the cycle of illiteracy plaguing young girls from socially and economically impoverished communities.

He lives on three continents, spending his time between New York, Brussels, and New Delhi, has survived ten days (and nights!) at an airport, and a free fall five-hundred metres from the sky.
Concerned with the inverse correlation that seems to exist between society’s progress and the empathy with which it interacts with the universe around it, he firmly believes the solution to a rapidly fracturing world lies in peeling enough layers to discover the similarities, rather than judging on mere superficialities.

Buy Dark Blossom


About the book
Sam returns home from a business trip a day before his son's thirteenth birthday and is looking forward to being with his family, when his world is cruelly shattered in one fell swoop. Initially he thinks he can cope with the loss, but finally seeks the help of Cynthia, an experienced therapist, to regain his equipoise. What he does not know is that Cynthia herself is trying to cope with a debilitating divorce and the sinister shadow of her ex-husband over her daughter...

What happens when doctor and patient find themselves in the same sinking boat? Moreover, when they are rowing in opposite directions--one clinging to the past, and the other unable to get rid of it! In the midst of it all is Lily, Cynthia's daughter, who harbours a secret that has the power to explode the lives around her.

Taut with tension and intensity, Dark Blossom is a glimpse of what lies under the surface of apparently 'normal' people.

Review
What Mullick wants is to create food for thought for the reader and is genuinely interested in what each one of us takes away from the story, because it will always be an individual experience based on our own frame of references.

What speaks to me might not be what speaks to someone else. In general that is something people should remember when it comes to reviews.

Let's start with Cynthia, who is a therapist, although based on this book and her actions with her client Sam, she is one in name only. It's a fictional story, but I would be remiss if I didn't point out her lack of ethics, professionalism and duty of care towards her client. If you are burdened or are in danger of projecting your own emotions onto a client or have a bias against their situation or person, then ethics dictate that you recuse yourself and refer the client to another therapist.

Her inability to do that is what makes her the focus for me. It determines the entire story and her interactions with every other character. In fact, although the book starts with the incredible grief of Sam, Cynthia makes everything about her, her guilt and inability to connect with her teenage daughter.

Guilt plays a huge factor for Cynthia, Sam and Lily. Cynthia feels guilty for not being able to save her daughter from her abusive husband. Sam feels guilty for not being able to change the death of his loved ones and he is also driven by the unanswered questions about their deaths. Lily feels guilty about keeping secrets. Of course it's also what brings the three of them together in a bizarre and unhealthy way.

I think one of the obvious questions about Cynthia is why she thought a physical abuser would suddenly be in complete control of his emotions and not have found a different victim? Or did she subconsciously suspect and not want to admit the dark and hurtful truth? What is also clear is how everything is always brought back to how it relates to Cynthia. I found her quite a vain, selfish and inadequate character.

What is Dark Blossom? It's a psychological thriller, but hidden in the guise of a story about guilt, conscience and closure. A layer of suspense flows through it, which is almost indiscernible from the loud, messy emotional turmoil that is being bandied about. It's an interesting way to approach the genre. Not so much the what or who, but most definitely the when.

Buy Dark Blossom at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Rupa Publications; pub date 3 Jan. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

#BlogTour Checking the Traps by Joan Livingston


Today it's absolutely a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Checking the Traps by Joan Livingston. It's a character driven, quaint, funny and just in general highly entertaining crime read.
About the Author
Joan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Checking the Traps, published by Crooked Cat Books, is the third in the mystery series featuring Isabel Long, a longtime journalist who becomes an amateur P.I. The first two are Chasing the Case and Redneck’s Revenge.

An award-winning journalist, she started as a reporter covering the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. She was an editor, columnist, and the managing editor of The Taos News, which won numerous state and national awards during her tenure.

After eleven years in Northern New Mexico, she returned to rural Western Massachusetts, which is the setting of much of her adult fiction, including the Isabel Long mystery series.

Follow @JoanLivingston on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, on Goodreads,
Visit joanlivingston.net
Buy Checking the Traps


About the book
Isabel Long is a bit banged up from her last case with a broken collarbone and her arm in a sling. But that doesn’t stop her from pouring beer at the Rooster Bar or taking her third case with Gary Beaumont, a local drug dealer who once terrorized her. Gary is convinced his brother didn’t jump off a bridge known for suicides. Somebody pushed him.

Gary’s brother was a boozer who drove for a highway crew. But what interests Isabel and her ‘Watson’ — her 93-year-old mother who lives with her — is that the man wrote poetry.
The chief suspects are one of Gary’s business associates and a famous poet who plagiarized his brother’s poetry for an award-winning book. Yes, he was that good.

As a journalist, Isabel did regular meetups with her sources for stories. She called it checking the traps. She does the same as a private investigator, and this time, she’ll make sure she doesn’t get caught in one.

Review
I am probably guilty of ageism, but I was highly amused by this crime-fighting sleuth duo. I smirked quite a few times, whilst Ma stood look-out, trespassed or showed people what a lead foot on a gas pedal looks like. It was refreshing to have a main character, who isn't all nubile, nimble or a femme fatale. Nor a cross between or derivative of Lara Croft, Miss Marple or Catwoman.

Isabel, don't call me Izzie, Long is just a middle-aged grandmother who has a sidekick not far off from being an entire century-old. Her mother is a nonagenarian, who helps Isabel to solve crimes. As unlikely as this might sound, the two of them make for a very interesting combination.

The other thing that makes this series so appealing, is the small town feel the author has incorporated into the story. In the majority of books this feeling becomes something oppressive, a factor that facilitates crime or fuels the need to escape. In this case it is exactly the opposite. The closeness, the nosiness, the gossip and the way everyone is related to everyone else, actually drives the crime and the story.

In this third book in the series, Isabel is asked by the local drug dealer to find out whether his brother really did commit suicide or did someone help him fall from a great height? She is surprised to find a sensitive, creative soul, who was passionate about his poetry, when she delves into the life of the victim. A soul so easily pained he was perhaps unable to deal with rejection and failure?

I can't recommend this book enough. It's a character driven, quaint, funny and just in general highly entertaining crime read. Livingston doesn't rely on the usual tropes or stereotypes found in crime fiction. Her main character reflects the women society likes to forget about and shove aside after they have passed a certain age. Kudos to her for reminding us all that age is a number not a rule or restriction, and most of all for bringing the invisible women out of the shadows.

Buy Checking the Traps ( The Isabel Long Mystery Series #3) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Crooked Cat Books; pub date 22 Mar. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.


Friday, 29 March 2019

#BlogBlitz The Plastic Seed by Maisie Porter


I am taking part in the Blog Blitz for The Plastic Seed by Maisie Porter. It questions the validity and hypocrisy of the wellness philosophy. In a way it also questions the people behind the system.


About the Author
Maisie Porter works as a professional photographer in Australia, with wide experience covering weddings, though she has neither abducted nor been abducted by any competitors. No Reception is Maisie's first novel.

Follow Maisie on Twitter - @eyeointment @crookedcatbooks,
Buy The Plastic Seed


About the book
Two schemes uncoil—and, very quickly, begin to unravel—on the same day in the Australian town of West Glassport…

Jean Hima isn’t happy with the way her life has been going. First, her husband leaves her. Then, she loses her job as a midwife at the local hospital, over the easily-fixed misplacement of a baby or two…

Now, Jean is sure a snooty real estate agent is blocking her efforts to find a rental in a nice part of town. Given possession of a batch of incriminating photographs, who wouldn’t begin thinking about a little life-restorative blackmail?

Written in three acts and covering a quarter of a century, The Plastic Seed is an environmental thriller that explores the hypocrisy of some aspects of the philosophy of wellness. This novella is part satire of the human potential movement, and sincere testimony to the ability of humans to face facts when given no choice.


Review
The opening pages are brief, but also a spectacular draw in for a potential reader.

The focus is on three characters across the timeline of five, ten and twenty years. Jean is an alcoholic who takes no responsibility for her actions and doesn't seem to think her need to drink to get through each day is a problem. She has a collection of beer and alcoholic beverages that travel with her wherever she goes. Alcohol to get to sleep at night, a wee drink to get through the day and a drink here and there just for the heck of it. A midwife in charge of delivering babies and in charge of the health of mothers and babies, who has been known to give the wrong child to the wrong mother.What could possibly go wrong?

Of course none of that is her fault. It's everyone else's fault. Maybe it's Amy or Carlana's fault. The daughter on a road straight to jail or the neighbour who is a complete hypocrite. Professionally she suggests a certain lifestyle, actions and attitudes but in her real life Carlana applies nothing she actually recommends.

I'm going to go back to the fact that the opening act promises a gritty crime, and yet lyrical pose in equal measures. The plot veers off in an entirely different direction into an environmental thriller. It questions the validity and hypocrisy of the wellness philosophy. In a way it also questions the people behind the system.

It's a novella (123 pages). A short read that introduces readers to this author and her particular style of storytelling. I found the beginning atmospheric and memorable. I would buy a book based on those first few pages. I thought the rest was a wee bit disjointed and lacked direction. The middle and end are worlds apart from the promising lure at the start.

I think Porter could potentially have a wicked little crime or psychological thriller inside her waiting to be written.

Buy The Plastic Seed at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Ecopy pub by Publisher: Crooked Cat Books December 19, 2018. Crooked Cat Books. Hardcover pub independently Dec 2018. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Point of Poetry by Joe Nutt


Today it really is a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Point of Poetry by Joe Nutt. Nutt has created a work of beauty in his own right. Full of love and passion for poetry.


About the Author 
Joe Nutt is a former teacher with twenty years of English teaching experience. He has written books on Shakespeare, John Donne and most recently a guidebook to Paradise Lost for one of the world's foremost academic publishers. he is now one of the leading educationalists in the UK and writes a fortnightly column for the Times Educational Supplement.

Follow @joenutt_author @unbounders on Twitter,
Buy The Point of Poetry


About the book
What's the point of poetry? It's a question asked in classrooms all over the world, but it rarely receives a satisfactory answer. Which is why so many people, who read all kinds of books, never read poetry after school.

Exploring twenty-two works from poets as varied as William Blake, Seamus Heaney, Rita Dove and Hollie McNish, this book makes the case for what poetry has to offer us, what it can tell us about the things that matter in life. Each poem is discussed with humour and refreshing clarity, using a mixture of anecdote and literary criticism that has been honed love a lifetime of teaching.

Poetry can enrich lives, if we'll let it. The Point of Poetry is the perfect companion for anyone looking to discover how.

Review
This is the kind of book I would buy to help non-poetry lovers understand the attraction and potency of it. As a poetry lover myself I embrace anything, which could possibly encourage others to delve into it and find a little bit of beauty too.

There are some things in life that have an innate beauty, even when they are born from the pen, paintbrush or voice of a human being. Times when colours, words or sounds create a moment in time that calls to the soul and tugs at the passion inside of us. One can experience the same thing when the elements create a similar kind of beauty in nature or beauty that inspires the same visceral reaction.. Breathtaking scenery for instance.

Let's focus on the man- or woman-made moments of beauty. Psychologists have studied what makes people cry when they hear music for instance, and have recognised certain personality attributes in them. Those who cried because they feel sadness scored high on the neuroticism scale and those who scored high in the openness to experience scale cried because they felt a profound sense of awe.

Awe at the capacity of a person to create such beauty that it elicits an extreme emotional response. I have those moments with poetry, music (especially classical and operatic music), art and very beautifully written books.

The author is keen to have poetry stand aside from the other contenders and have its own pedestal. This book is all about 'lighting the touchpaper.' I could have happily quoted from this book over and over again by the way. Nutt is a passionate educationalist, the kind of teacher who seeks out those who are inspired by and comprehend the beauty of poetry, and simultaneously those who fear and reject it.

Luckily the author also has a way with words. A book about the point of poetry could be dry, boring and terribly academic. Could be, but it isn't. Nutt has created a work of beauty in his own right. Full of love and passion for poetry.

I love this book.

Buy The Point of Poetry at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound pub date 21 Mar. 2019. Buy Ecopy here. Buy at Amazon com.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

#BlogTour Psychotopia by R.N. Morris


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Psychotopia by R.N. Morris. It's futuristic and speculative fiction with an intriguing premise.

Don't forget to enter the Giveaway (below) – to Win 1 x Signed Hardback Copy of Pyschotopia (Open Internationally)



About the Author
R. N. Morris is the author of ten novels. The latest is Psychotopia, published 31 October, 2018.
A Gentle Axe, was published by Faber and Faber in 2007. Set in St Petersburg in the nineteenth century, it features Porfiry Petrovich, the investigating magistrate from Dostoevsky’s great novel, Crime and Punishment. The book was published in many countries, including Russia. He followed that up with A Vengeful Longing, which was shortlisted for the Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award (as the CWA Gold Dagger was briefly known). A Razor Wrapped in Silk came next, followed by The Cleansing Flames, which was nominated for the Ellis Peters Historical Novel Dagger.

The Silas Quinn series of novels, set in London in 1914, began with Summon Up The Blood, followed by The Mannequin House, The Dark Palace and The Red Hand of Fury. The next novel in the series, The White Feather Killer, will be published in April 2019.

Taking Comfort is a standalone contemporary novel, written as Roger Morris. He also wrote the libretto to the opera When The Flame Dies, composed by Ed Hughes.

Follow @rnmorris on Twitter, on Facebook,
Visit rogernmorris.co.uk
Buy Psychotopia


About the book
A game for the times we live – and die – in. Enter Psychotopia, a dark new dystopian novel from the author of the acclaimed Silas Quinn mysteries.

PSYCHOTOPIA, LEVEL ONE. Create your own boutique psychopath, then deceive, manipulate and be ruthless, spreading mayhem and destruction to reach the next levels.

It’s the computer game for our times. After all, the amount of crazy in the world is increasing. Senseless violence on the streets is becoming the norm. Can Dr Arbus’s ground-breaking device identify and neutralize psychopaths before it’s too late? In this increasingly dysfunctional world, surely Callum standing by Aimee after her devastating encounter with Charlie is proof that real love and goodness can still win in a world that’s increasingly rotten . . . Or can it?

Review
Right! R.N. Morris needs locking in a room with no access to the outside world and no internet - his ideas are far too dangerous.

A video game based on psychopathy, one that interacts and evolves based on the pathology of someone's lack of empathy, conscience and in general what is considered the normal emotional response based on societal norms. The idea is dangerous.

I wondered, as I am sure many readers will, what the underlying message is. To establish a world with psychopaths in the control seat? Perhaps the idea that they can be functioning and useful members of society or indeed that there are plenty of undiagnosed psychopaths at large. The game and the response to it is also a way to diagnose and recognise different types of a pathology that experts still don't quite understand.

Is there a rise in the number of psycho and sociopaths, and if so is it because our DNA is evolving with the environment in a way that suggests they would have a better survival rate. What a worrying thought, the natural survivor of the late 21st century could be humans with no empathy and capable of killing without compunction. Hmm.

Science is already capable of identifying specific genes that suggest a predisposition towards violence, perhaps eventually the same will apply to other or similar sub-categories or extensions of anti-social behaviour such as psychopathy. We already have tests in place to identify psychopathic tendencies.

What I found really fascinating is the labelling of P or NP, and whether the actual labelling would lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy or alternatively whether the true nature would persevere, despite the label.

I think the sex scene was perhaps superfluous, keeping the strength of the storyline in mind, and it slipped into the dangerous zone of gender tropes. I also thought the graphic reference to the two year in the beginning could deter some readers from enjoying or finishing the read, despite it only being a quick example of deviant behaviour. The truth is still considered a taboo in some subjects unfortunately, because the majority of people would rather not be confronted with the atrocity of sexual deviancy.

It's futuristic and speculative fiction with an intriguing premise. Perhaps video game development and the advancement into virtual reality as it melds into real life deserves to be a sub-genre in its own right. Psychotopia takes the reader to a world of open doors and what you take away from this book will be an individual experience depending on your own frame of references, including whether there is a clear conclusion or closure at the end. Hypothetical reality meets base human nature, depravity and a lack of conscience.

Buy Psychotopia at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Severn House Digital; pub date 1 Feb. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of The Red Hand of Fury by R.N. Morris

Giveaway – Win 1 x Signed Hardback Copy of Pyschotopia (Open Internationally)

a Rafflecopter giveaway *Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. 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, 27 March 2019

#BlogTour A Bloody Stiletto, Cold Lasagna, and a Bestseller by Cheryl Denise Bannerman


Today it's also my turn on the BlogTour A Bloody Stiletto, Cold Lasagna, and a Bestseller by Cheryl Denise Bannerman.

Don't forget to enter the Giveaways below. If you are a US resident you can enter the first rafflecopter to win a Paperback copy of the book. UK residents can enter the second rafflecopter to win a Kindle copy. (see bottom of post for the rafflecopters)

About the Author
Writing under pen name, Cheryl Denise Bannerman, Ms. Powell is an author of two self-published books, and an owner of a 22-year-old Training and Development company, specializing in eLearning, called Learn2Engage.

In her personal life and relationships, Ms. Powell has learned how to turn tragedies into triumphs through her strong will, faith, tenacity and most importantly, her quirky sense of humor. She now turns that keen knowledge of relationships and people, along with her various degrees and experience in Training and Development, into fun, engaging online courses for ‘Corporate America’, and, of course, in her works of fiction.

Within each of her works of fiction, a topic of social concern is addressed. From addictions to domestic violence, and suicide to molestation.

Her writings inspire people to live, laugh, love, learn and grow. She believes that when the world laughs at you, laugh harder. In Ms. Powell’s real and fictional world, she has learned how to create her own ‘happy ending’…one day at a time.

Follow @cbannerman01 on Twitter #AnnaRomanoMysteries, on Facebook, on Instagram, on Amazon, Visit bannermanbooks.com
Buy A Bloody Stiletto, Cold Lasagna, and a Bestseller


About the book
In this second installment of The Anna Romano Mystery Series, Anna gets herself into a mess that lands her in hot water with the prime suspect and her new Bo, Detective John Solace. Their new romance was going great, when all in the sudden, a simple trip to the grocery store turned into wrestling match between two scorned women.

Peeking her interest for a juicy story, Anna’s snooping to find out more about the seemingly ‘innocent’ love triangle, catapulted her into the middle of a murder investigation. The murder weapon of choice? A red stiletto…conspicuously pointing the police in the direction of a female assailant.
No one knows whether the adulterating husband killed his wife to avoid a costly divorce, or if his mistress killed her in a fit of jealous rage. While the detectives are convinced the husband is the ‘killer’, it seems Anna’s faith in his innocence may be in vain, as additional bodies, and mistresses, keep piling up.

Meanwhile, Anna’s publicist, Shirlene, tries to convince Anna to leave the detective work to the police, but, as usual, falls on deaf ears.In the end, not even a pan of lasagna and a neighborly smile could save Anna!

Find out in A Bloody Stiletto, Cold Lasagna, and a Bestseller if Detective Solace will be able to handle Anna’s crazy antics, or if he will make her vow to stay OUT of the realm of ‘Murder and Mayhem’ once and for all.

Review
This is the second book in the Anna Romano Mystery series.This can be read as a standalone novel and it's also a short read (170 pages).

Anna has a serious Miss Marple meets Nancy Drew affliction. She just can't help herself when it comes to any kind of mystery or anything that looks like a crime. Instead of leaving the sleuthing and police work to her new beau, detective John Solace, she spends her time inserting herself into plenty of situations she doesn't belong in.

I'm not sure if it's her need to be in the spotlight all the time or if the writer in her is keen to experience things she can then write about. It would definitely explain her impulsive acts and lack of self-awareness when it comes to her own safety. I think it is fair to say she drives John slightly up the wall with her behaviour.

I think the chapters end and restart quite abruptly. It sometimes gives the reader the sense of starting a new story each chapter or a new short story. Not sure if that was intentional or not. It just gives the book a slightly staccato feel.

It's a light-hearted cosy crime with a subtle layer of humour. The main character definitely finds herself quite charming and very amusing. Think Hallmark crime. Nothing too heavy, just a fun vibe with a spontaneous, curious main character.

Buy A Bloody Stiletto, Cold Lasagna, and a Bestseller at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published in paperback and ebook on 28th February 2019. Buy at Amazon com,

Enter the US rafflecopter to win a Paperback copy of A Bloody Stiletto, Cold Lasagna, and a Bestseller

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Enter the UK rafflecopter to win a Kindle copy of A Bloody Stiletto, Cold Lasagna, and a Bestseller

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Terms & Conditions: Both the US paperback giveaway and the Non-US Kindle ebook giveaway will run until midnight (GMT) on Sunday 31st March 2019. Three winners will be selected at random for each giveaway (US & Non-US).  The winners of the US giveaway will need to provide their name and postal address which will then be passed onto Cheryl Denise Bannerman for her to send the copies.  The winners of the Non-US giveaway will need to provide their Kindle email address (instructions on how to do this can be provided by damppebbles blog tours on request).  There is no cash alternative.  Names, addresses and email address will not be stored.  Good luck!*


#BlogTour The Island Affair by Helena Halme


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Island Affair by Helena Halme. It's a contemporary read, a tale of different types of love, but mainly it's one of grief and trying to find a way to heal.
About the Author
A prize-winning author, Helena Halme writes contemporary fiction with a hint of both Nordic Noir and romance. She’s a former BBC journalist, bookseller and magazine editor. Originally from Finland where she gained an MSc in Marketing, she also holds an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and writes in English.

Helena acts as Nordic Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors and helps other writers publish and market their books.

Helena has published seven fiction titles, including The English Heart, a best-selling Nordic romance, which won an Awesome Indies badge on publication. The bittersweet 1980s love story between a Finnish student and a British Navy officer is now a series, including a prequel novella, The Young Heart, the sequels The Faithful Heart, The Good Heart and Helena’s latest title, The True Heart, book four in The Nordic Heart Series. Helena has also published a non-fiction title, Write Your Story: Turn Your Life into Fiction in 10 Easy Steps. Helena is addicted to Nordic Noir and dances to Abba songs when nobody’s watching.

Follow @helenahalme on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, Visit helenahalme.com
Buy The Island Affair


About the book
Can one summer mend a broken heart?
After the tragic loss of their 17-year-old son, journalist Alicia and surgeon Liam struggle to keep their marriage afloat. During their usual holiday to Åland, the Nordic islands where Alicia grew up, the rift between the couple deepens.

Enter tall, blonde Patrick, with the most piercing blue eyes Alicia has ever seen. When Patrick confides in Alicia about the near loss of his daughter and the breakdown of his marriage, Alicia is surprised to feel an affinity with the Swedish reporter. He’s the only person who understands Alicia.
But secrets held by people close to Alicia give her life another surprising turn and she finds there is a reason to live – and love – again.
Review
This story hit a personal note for me, because our family has been through a really traumatic time in the last six months. We have had to learn to cope with the emotional upheaval caused by grief, especially because it manifests itself differently in each person. Anger, self-destructive behaviour, depression and denial are just a few coping mechanisms, there are plenty more.

I guess that is why the grief element of this storyline drew me in like a moth to a flame. Halme captures the way the death of their young son destroys the relationship and marriage of Alicia and Liam. Neither of them are willing to accept how the other is dealing with the tragedy. Alicia is just surviving on a day-to-day basis and Liam has found comfort in the arms of another woman.

They come to a crossroads and decide to go their separate ways, which is where the tale really begins. Alicia finds common ground and a flirty romantic connection with Patrick. The helpful and willing listener helps her to come to terms with the loss of her son.

The Nordic atmosphere and stoic attitude of the townspeople gives the story a quirky charm. There is an underlying tension of a thriller that flows through this hotbed of emotional turmoil, which isn't an easy feat considering the pain that hovers around the main characters.

It's a contemporary read, a tale of different types of love, but mainly it's one of grief and trying to find a way to heal. Both Alicia and Liam learn that when one door shuts and disappears other ones open up. Whether they choose to walk through the same door is an individual decision. Sometimes tragic events show the fissures in relationships in a brighter light. The tragedy will either tear them apart forever or make them base their relationship on something other than their living child. Perhaps to build upon the deep love they shared for him instead.

Buy The Island Affair at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Newhurst Press; pub date 21 Mar. 2019.

#BlogTour Brotherhood by David Beckler


It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Brotherhood by David Beckler. It's fast-paced urban crime fiction combined with military exploitation.


About the Author
David writes crime thrillers full of fast-paced action.
Born in Addis Ababa in 1960, he spent his first eight years living on an agricultural college in rural Ethiopia where his love of reading developed. After dropping out of university he became a firefighter and served 19 years before leaving to start his own business. He began writing in 2010 and uses his work experiences to add realism to his fiction.

The Mason and Sterling series centre on two ex-Royal Marines, Byron who now runs a security company and Adam who is a firefighter. A strong cast of supporting characters support his protagonists. Sapere Books are publishing Brotherhood, the first novel in the series, in late 2018.

David lives in Manchester, his adopted home since 1984. In his spare time he tries to keep fit—an increasingly difficult undertaking—listens to music, socialises and feeds his voracious book habit.

Follow @DavidBeckler1 @SapereBooks on Twitter,Visit davidbeckler.com
Buy Brotherhood


About the book
An ex-Marine is forced to confront his troubled past…

Manchester, England, 1998
When Byron Mason’s estranged nephew, Philip, rings him out of the blue in desperate need of help, he knows he must put his personal feelings aside to protect his family.

A teenage boy has been murdered, and Philip is one of the suspects.Worse than that, the dead boy was the nephew of Ritchie McLaughlin – a local thug who Byron has clashed with in the past – and Philip has now gone missing. Desperate to clear Philip’s name, Byron enlists the help of his old friend Adam Sterling to track down the real killers.

Is Philip in danger? Can Byron and Adam find him before the police do? Or has Byron’s violent past with McLaughlin come back to haunt him…?

This nail-biting new thriller series will have you on the edge of your seat! Perfect for fans of Lee Child, J. B. Turner, Mark Dawson and David Baldacci…

Review
The first chapter sets the tone for the rest of the book. It is non-stop conflict and action from the very beginning. Adam Sterling and Byron Mason work diligently to try and save a young man, who sees his friend being brutally slaughtered and becomes the next potential victim.

Although the focus is on Philip, the young nephew of Byron Mason, there is a second storyline in the book, which influences the first one. The story of Mugisa, the child soldier from Africa.

Nearly every chapter has a flashback to Mugisa's life before he became the criminal he is today. The boy who sees friends, loved ones and innocent people tortured and slaughtered. The child who is taken and trained to kill without compunction, to live as a killer and to disassociate himself from the violence he condones and perpetrates.

It's an interesting way to go about it, because the author wants readers to see and experience the child, and not just the brutal killer who wants to eliminate the witness to his heinous deeds. You get an extreme contrast between the helpless child and the ruthless killer. The reader feels compassion for the child and simultaneously disgust for the machete wielding man.

It's fast-paced urban crime fiction combined with military exploitation. In a way Beckler shows the parallels between Mugisa's life as a child soldier and how he has become the adult who recruits the young to become his urban foot soldiers. Doomed to repeat his own tragic history, but with himself in the position of power this time. The Brotherhood continues on different soil with new soldiers, but with the same ruthless mindset.

Buy Brotherhood at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Sapere Books: pub date 7 Feb. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.


Read an extract of Brotherhood
Prologue

A six-foot-high steel spike fence topped off with coils of razor wire guarded the scrapyard. A gap in the fence made room for a pair of gates fashioned from a frame of scaffolding poles bolted into rough rectangles. Random pieces of sheet steel welded together in a patchwork of rust filled the spaces between the poles. The gates stood open, a heavy chain and padlock hanging from the centre of one of them. Piles of crushed and rusting vehicles occupied the yard, its patched concrete surface covered in a thin layer of mud infused with old motor oil.
The Range Rover rolled forward through the gap. A chorus of barking and snarling broke out. Behind the fence, two large, unkempt Alsatians leapt to their feet. Separated from the rest of the yard by a wire barrier, they threw themselves against it, showing their canines in greeting.
Summoned by the barking, a grey-haired figure strode out of the opening at one end of the container. He advanced, wearing a scowl. The men in the car waited until he came closer, then, at a signal from their leader, all four threw their doors open and leapt out.
The grey-haired man hesitated for an instant before he recognised them and ran to the container, shouting a warning.
In response to his shout, two younger men emerged from the container. Each carried a scarred baseball bat with thick tape covering the business end. Although outnumbered, they didn’t appear cowed. One of the men from the car produced a sawn-off shotgun. The two parties faced each other across the filthy concrete.
The dogs became more frenzied until the larger of the two leapt the fence. The gunman swung the barrel of the shotgun towards the snarling animal.
The discharge ruptured the morning air and the dog, hit in mid-leap, yelped before bouncing off concrete and landing in a heap in the muck. Shot in the chest, it lay twitching in a spreading pool of blood. The boom of the shot echoed off the surrounding buildings.
The leader of the invaders cursed and checked the street, then led his men back to the car. He paused at the car and shouted, “This isn’t over.”
The car reversed and shot out of the yard before spinning its wheels and, tyres screeching, raced away.
 One of the younger men threw his baseball bat at the car; it fell short, clattering on the road. The other helped his father to his feet. The older man shook off the helping hand and went to his dog, cradling its head as its eyes filmed over. He glared at the receding car, muttering, “I’ll make you pay.”


Tuesday, 26 March 2019

#BlogTour Your Secret's Safe with Me by Rosie Travers


It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Your Secret's Safe with Me by Rosie Travers today. It's a crime, mystery, a romcom and most of all a story about family.

About the Author
Rosie Travers grew up in Southampton on the south coast of England and loved escaping into a good book at a very early age. After many years juggling motherhood and a variety of jobs in local government she moved to Southern California in 2009. With time on her hands she started a blog about the perils of ex-pat life which rekindled a teenage desire to become a writer.

Now permanently settled back in the UK, Rosie takes inspiration from the towns and landscape of her native south coast and enjoys writing heart-warming stories sprinkled with mystery, tragedy, comedy and romance. Rosie’s debut novel, The Theatre of Dreams, was published by Crooked Cats Books in August 2018. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association.



About the book
Career girl Becca Gates’ organised life is thrown into chaos when her mother, romantic novelist Pearl, announces her surprise engagement to Jack, a man she has only just met.

Worse news follows when Pearl tells Becca she intends to leave London, quit writing, and retire to her new fiancé’s idyllic waterside home on the south coast. Becca is determined to prevent Pearl from making a disastrous mistake, but when she at arrives at Rivermede, more shocks await when she stumbles upon a familiar yet unwelcome face from her past.

As Pearl embraces her new life amongst the local sailing fraternity, Becca receives a grim warning that all is not as calm as it seems at picturesque Rivermede, and if she wants to keep her family safe, she should keep them away.

But why should Becca trust the man who has betrayed her before, the man who broke her heart, the man who thinks he knows all her secrets?

Review
What Travers captures really well is the chaos of family and in equal measures the strange intangible type of loyalty that goes along with it. Regardless of all the annoying traits, thoughtless words and complex relationships, when push comes to shove, one expects family to be there to support. Of course the reality usually comes down to - you can't pick who you're related to but you can pick your family unit.

Pearl has decided to sell her home, retire from writing and marry a man she has only known for a few weeks. Her daughter Becca thinks she is selfish for changing their lives based on a whim.

Becca demonstrates the perfect example of family boundaries when she meets Pearl's new stepson-to-be. She is allowed to voice critical opinions about her mother, however a stranger needs to keep their mouth shut about her mother. The unspoken rule kicks in - anyone in the family unit can talk crap about family members, but you defend them if anyone dares to talk rubbish about them on the outside.

I enjoyed the way the author drew from all the chaos to create an entertaining read. It reminded me of a 90s romcom with a side order of crime, mystery and intrigue. The more serious aspects are offset by the snarky way Becca, Pearl and the rest of the characters interact with each other. Travers has her own individual style when it comes to telling a story, which couldn't be more apparent than in the last chapter. What a way to reveal a secret, it was just so off the cuff. Oh, by the way...

It's a contemporary read with a light-hearted feel. It's a crime, mystery, a romcom and most of all a story about family. I liked it. Travers has a knack for describing the dysfunctional and functional moments in a family.

Buy Your Secret's Safe with Me at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Crooked Cat Books; pub date 18 Feb. 2019.

Monday, 25 March 2019

#PublicationDayPush Sea of Lies by Rachel McLean


It's a pleasure to welcome Rachel McLean back to the blog for the Publication Day Push for the standalone sequel to Thicker than Water, Sea of Lies by Rachel McLean. It's a post-apocalyptic story about young love.


About the Author
My name's Rachel McLean and I write thrillers that make you think. What does that mean? In short, I want my stories to make your pulse race and your brain tick.

Do you often get through a thriller at breakneck pace but are left with little sense of what the book was really about? Do you sometimes read literary fiction but just wish something would damn well happen? My books aim to fill that gap.

If you'd like to know more about my books and receive extra bonus content, please join my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub. I'll send you a weekly email with news about my writing research and progress, stories and bonus content for each book. And I'll let you know when my books are on offer.



About the book
Sarah Evans has returned home after being abducted and held in a dilapidated farmhouse by a group of men. With her is Martin, who turned against the other men to help her escape. He says he’s not like them, and claims to be in love with her.

Can Sarah trust Martin? Does she share his feelings? Or should she listen to her father, himself deceitful and abusive, and turn her back on the relationship?

Sea of Lies is a chilling psychological thriller about secrets, trust, and a family falling apart. (A standalone sequel to Thicker than Water).
Review
This is the standalone sequel to Thicker than Water. You can read this without knowing the backstory, however I do recommend reading the previous book. It sets the scene and it's an interesting read.

This book takes place in the aftermath of an abduction, when a group of men kidnap a number of women and young girls from a small isolated community. The intent is clearly something out of a caveman come re-population manual. The experience is traumatic and quickly becomes violent.

During the kidnapping Sarah gets to know Martin, the young man who helped facilitate the kidnapping of Ruth. He realises he has made a huge mistake and wants to make amends. He feels an instant attraction towards Sarah and is willing to do anything to protect her.

Sarah has to deal with the trauma of the abduction and returning to the abusive arms of her father. A man who likes to control and abuse the women in his life. The question is; who is the bigger danger to Sarah, her new admirer with the dubious past or her father with the tendency to lash out in anger?

This series is set in a rural coastal area in Britain after the country is devastated by a natural catastrophe, which gives the story a more approachable vibe. It doesn't take place in an obscure made-up place, which makes it easier for readers to relate to the circumstances.

I felt this was more of a post-apocalyptic story about young love with a lot of abuse and a few murders, whereas the first had the gritty and desperate feel of a post-apocalyptic story. The author has plenty of ideas and creativity to draw from and I hope she doesn't lose that sense of daring and the willingness to go beyond the normal parameters of the genre. I know the darkness is in there somewhere and is screaming to get out. *grins* I do believe this is just the beginning for McLean.

Buy Sea of Lies at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Catawampus Press; Ecopy pub date 22 Mar. 2019. Paperback pub date 17 March 2019Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of Thicker than Water by Rachel McLean.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

#BlogTour Mama's Gone by Leopold Borstinski


Today it's my tun on the BlogTour Mama's Gone by Leopold Borstinski. An interesting story of loyalty, responsibility and culpability in this mob crime series.


About the Author
Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Follow @borstinski on Twitter, on Facebook, on Goodreads,
Visit leopoldborstinski.com
Buy Mama's Gone


About the book
When children grow up, the parents must die.

California gang leader Mary Lou has built a criminal empire while her adult children are desperate for their mother’s attention and love.

As her mental faculties wane, Alice and Frank Jr must acknowledge their mother is not the woman she once was and that they need to step up and take the helm, despite the stark differences between them.

But their sibling rivalry blinds both of them to their weaknesses which threatens the family when the Russian mob moves into the state. How can they fend off those attacks while fighting to decide who will lead the family now their dear Mama’s gone?

Review
Cue the theme tune from the Godfather playing in the background.

The story starts with an assassination and ends with the same assassination. In between the reader discovers what made Mama Lagotti such an important target and how she built up a criminal empire she ruled with an iron fist.

This is the fourth book in The Lagotti Family series if you want to read more about this family of rogues. Each one of them take to crime like ducks to water. In the first three books Mary Lou's rise to power is chronicled, as she establishes herself on the mob hierarchy. In this book her children are confronted with the slow deterioration of Mama Lagotti's mental facilities and how it impacts their criminal dealings.

Weakness is the one thing that can make everything crumble around them. They can't afford to be seen as vulnerable, inconsistent or weak in the eyes of the criminal elements they work hand in hand with. So her grown children have to protect her image by covering up any mistakes. It also forges the way for one of them to slide into the position of head of the family.

It's mob crime with an iron fisted ruler, who expects loyalty and ruthlessness from the rest of her family. Borstinski asks a reasonable question, what do you do when the person in charge starts to lose control, due to an illness for instance. An interesting question of loyalty, responsibility and culpability given the political chaos in the United States at this moment in time. I wonder if the author thought of the correlation between the general premise and said chaos when he wrote the book? Hmm.

Buy Mama's Gone (The Lagotti Family #4) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published in eBook format by Sobriety Press on 18th March 2019. Buy at Amazon com.


#BlogTour Remember Tomorrow by Amanda Saint


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Remember Tomorrow by Amanda Saint. It's post-apocalyptic fiction with a futuristic flair.
About the Author
Amanda Saint's debut novel, As If I Were A River, reached #3 in the WHSmith Travel charts; was selected as a NetGalley Top 10 Book of the Month; and chosen as a Top 20 Book of 2016 by the Book Magnet Blog.

Her short stories have been widely published in anthologies and literary magazines, twice appearing on the Fish Flash Fiction longlist and the Ink Tears Short Story shortlist. She runs her own creative writing business, Retreat West, through which she runs writing courses and competitions; and an independent publishing house, retreat West Books. Amanda also works as a freelance journalist writing about climate change and environmental sustainability.

Follow @saintlywriter @RetreatWest on Twitter, on Facebook,
Visit amandasaint.net
Buy Remember Tomorrow


About the book
England, 2073. The UK has been cut off from the rest of the world and ravaged by environmental disasters. Small pockets of survivors live in isolated communities with no electricity, communications or transportation, eating only what they can hunt and grow.

Evie is a herbalist, living in a future that’s more like the past, and she’s fighting for her life. The young people of this post-apocalyptic world have cobbled together a new religion, based on medieval superstitions, and they are convinced she’s a witch. Their leader? Evie’s own grandson.

Weaving between Evie’s current world and her activist past, her tumultuous relationships and the terrifying events that led to the demise of civilised life, Remember Tomorrow is a beautifully written, disturbing and deeply moving portrait of an all-too-possible dystopian world, with a chilling warning at its heart.

Review
It doesn't matter how far into the future we go, we can always rely on humans to never learn from history or their past. The human race excels at destroying themselves. For some reason they seem particularly talented at repeating the most heinous acts of the past centuries. The title of the book is therefore quite apt.

Instead of moving forward and evolving, a small community in the future has reverted back to the days when the mere whiff of suspicion could mean the difference between living in peace and being burnt at the stake for witchcraft. Healing becomes spells, witchery and the devil's work. This places Evie in the unfortunate position of being a target.

The fact that religion always seems to make an appearance in some way, shape or form is definitely part of the problem in this dystopian, post-apocalyptic and futuristic story. A once thriving community set in the year 2073 in England is facing increasingly harder struggles to survive. Food has become scarce, which makes people desperate.

Her own family uses religion to make Evie seem like a threat and the guise of her being a danger to the community is probably just hiding the fact it is a way to rid themselves of community members. Less people equals less mouths to share food with.

Humans tend to target the vulnerable, the different and the non-conformists to deflect from their own failings or hidden agendas. Evie and any other person refusing to become part the fanatical religious group have a big bullseye painted on their back.

It's post-apocalyptic fiction with a futuristic flair. Given the rise of certain radical groups and the attacks upon specific religious groups and ethnicities at the moment, despite prior tragedies and atrocities in the last century, this isn't a far-fetched premise at all.

Saint captivates the mass hysteria of religious zealots, which supersedes any common sense or prior knowledge that questions the beliefs of the fanatics. It's a recipe for violence and disaster.

Buy Remember Tomorrow at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Retreat West Books; Ecopy pub date 21 Mar. 2019. Paperback pub date 17 March 2019.

Read my review of Word for Freedom and Nothing is As it Was.