Tuesday, 18 June 2019

#BlogTour The Serpent's Mark by S. W. Perry


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Serpent's Mark by S.W. Perry. It's historical crime fiction with a riveting set of characters and a persuasive plot.

About the Author
S. W. Perry was a journalist and broadcaster before retraining as an airline pilot. He lives in Worcestershire with his wife.

Follow @swperry_history @CorvusBooks on Twitter #TheSerpentsMark, on Goodreads, on Amazon,
Buy The Serpent's Mark


About the book
A smart and gripping tale of conspiracy, murder and espionage in Elizabethan London, ideal for fans of CJ Sansom, Rory Clements and SG MacLean.

Treason sleeps for no man...
London, 1591. Nicholas Shelby, physician and reluctant spy, returns to his old haunts on London's lawless Bankside. But, when the queen's spymaster Robert Cecil asks him to investigate the dubious practices of a mysterious doctor from Switzerland, Nicholas is soon embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens not just the life of an innocent young patient, but the overthrow of Queen Elizabeth herself.

With fellow healer and mistress of the Jackdaw tavern, Bianca Merton, again at his side, Nicholas is drawn into a dangerous world of zealots, charlatans and fanatics. As their own lives become increasingly at risk, they find themselves confronting the greatest treason of all: the spectre of a bloody war between the faiths...
Review
This is the second book in the Jackdaw Mystery series and it absolutely can be read as a standalone novel. The author gives enough back-info on the previous book to get an understanding of the characters, but without taking over the plot in this one.

Nicholas Shelby finds himself in a rut and without any occupation, after struggling to cope with the death of his wife and child. Once again spymaster Robert Cecil decides to put Shelby to good use by sending him to find out whether the young grandson of his wife's relative is in danger.

Samuel has the falling sickness (epilepsy) and is being treated by a physician called Arcampora. Shelby knows better than anyone that there is no cure for the illness, so how exactly is Arcampora treating him and why is Samuel's new stepmother keeping him so isolated from the world?

Simultaneously Bianca is dealing with her cousin Bruno, who appears to be up to no good. He has the kind of secrets that end up with someone's head being mounted on a stake.The two of them, both Bianca and Nicholas, end up being drawn into the midst of the kind of plot they would rather not be involved in. It's a case of wanting to help others ends up with them being at the forefront of spy-games and dangerous controversial secrets.

Side-note: The whole trepanning practice might have made me wince here and there, and as if the story wasn't enough to conjure up horrific images of heads and holes, and holes in heads, well the Author's note absolutely sealed the deal where that is concerned.

I can say without a doubt that I would pick up a S.W. Perry and eagerly await a new Jackdaw Mystery featuring Nicholas Shelby, just a much as I would a book by Sansom, and I love a Shardlake. Perry absolutely deserves the same kind of recognition for his compelling Jackdaw series.

It's historical crime fiction with a riveting set of characters and persuasive plot. I look forward to seeing where Perry takes this series next.

Buy The Serpent's Mark ( The Jackdaw Mysteries #2) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Corvus; pub date 6th June 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of The Angel's Mark by S.W. Perry


#BlogTour The Lost Properties of Love by Sophie Ratcliffe


 Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Lost Properties of Love by Sophie Ratcliffe. It's a mixture of memoir, literary fiction and storytelling using time,space and movement as a premise.
About the Author
Sophie Ratcliffe is an academic, writer, and literary critic.
She teaches English at the University of Oxford, where she is an Associate Professor and Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall.

She is the author of On Sympathy (Oxford University Press), and edited the authorised edition of P. G. Wodehouse's letters.

In her academic work, she is interested in ideas of emotion and the history of how we feel.
She reviews regularly for the national press, and has served as a judge of a number of literary prizes, including the Baillie Gifford and Wellcome Book Prize.

Follow @soratcli on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon
Buy The Lost Properties of Love


About the book
What if you could tell the truth about who you are, without risking losing the one you love? This is a book about love affairs and why we choose to have them; a book for anyone who has ever loved and wondered what it is all about.

This is a book about the things we hide from other people. Love affairs, grief, domestic strife and the mess at the bottom of your handbag. Part memoir, part imagined history, in The Lost Properties of Love, Sophie Ratcliffe combines her own experience of childhood bereavement, a past lover, the reality about motherhood and marriage, with undiscovered stories about Tolstoy and trains, handbags and honeymoons to muse on the messiness of everyday life.

An extended train journey frames the action – and the author turns not to self-help manuals but to the fictions that have shaped our emotional and romantic landscape. Readers will find themselves propelled into Anna Karenina’s world of steam, commuting down the Northern Line, and checking out a New York El-train with Anthony Trollope’s forgotten muse, Kate Field.

As scenes in her own life collide with the stories of real and imaginary heroines, The Lost Properties of Love asks how we might find new ways of thinking about love and intimacy in the twenty-first century. Frank and painfully funny, this contemporary take on Brief Encounter – told to a backing track of classic 80s songs- is a compelling look at the workings of the human heart.

Review
There is an interesting correlation between the piece of literature by Tolstoy, Ratcliffe chooses to focus on, and her own life. There are even parallels to be drawn between the train journeys, which lean towards memoir, and the role they play in work by Tolstoy.

Back to the correlations between Anna Karenina and Ratcliffe. What they have in common is the experience of a love and lust relationship that takes precedence over everything and everyone. A relationship which becomes more romanticised and nostalgic as time passes. The author even draws a similarity of finality in the death of Anna and the regret she feels deep inside.

One of my favourite parts of the book is the red handbag, more specifically the contents of Anna's red handbag. The imagery painted by her bag being separated from her and simultaneously her life being severed at the same time is a strong one.

The bag becomes synonymous with both the secrets we keep hidden from others and the chaos or order in our lives. What does the content of your bag say about you? Is it chaotic or orderly, are you a Mary Poppins or a Marie Kondo? What would a complete stranger be able to read from it about you?

I think this may be a bit of a marmite read. It will appeal to some and a little less to others. I can imagine it may be perceived as pretentiously academic or too evolved in a literary sense. On the other side of the coin are the readers who appreciate new attempts to meld words, worlds, genres and styles.

It's a mixture of memoir, literary fiction and storytelling using time,space and movement as a premise.

Buy The Lost Properties of Love at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: William Collins; pub date 7 Feb. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Monday, 17 June 2019

#BlogTour Nexus by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings


Today it's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Nexus, the sequel to Zenith of The Androma Saga by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings. It's space opera come dystopian sci-fi with elements of fantasy
About the Authors
When Sasha Alsberg isn't writing, you can find her reading and filming videos for her Youtube Channel ABookUtopia. Follow @sashaalsberg on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Youtube,
Visit sashaalsberg.com


Lindsay Cummings is the author of The Murder Complex series and the Balance Keeper series. She lives in Texas. Follow @authorlindsayc on Twitter,  on Goodreads, on Youtube, on Amazon, Visit lindsaycummingsbooks.com

Visit theandromasaga.com Follow the story with #NEXUS and #AndromaSaga
Buy Nexus

About the book
From the #1 New York Times bestselling authors of Zenith comes the dazzling finale to the Androma Saga, where stunning betrayals and devastating secrets expose an embattled galaxy to the ultimate nightmare.

Her ship is gone, her crew is capture and notorious mercenary Andi Racella is suddenly a fugitive, ruthlessly hunted across the galaxy. the bloodthirsty queen Nor now rules most of the galaxy and she'll stop at nothing to destroy her most hated adversary.

Andi will risk anything, even her precious freedom to stop Nor. However as her crew fight to regain their freedom, Andi and her unlikely ally Dex discover a threat far greater than anything they've faced before.

Only by saving their mortal enemy can they make one last desperate strike to save the galaxy, unaware that a shattering, centuries-old secret may demand the most wrenching sacrifice of all.

In Zenith we meet an all-girl space crew, fighting for their survival in a galaxy run on lies and illusion where no-one can be trusted. With betrayals, sinister plans for revenge and the spectre of a war that could tear apart worlds, this space opera is full of action, fantastical intrigue, and not to forget a steamy star-crossed romance. nexus raises the stakes in this battle for survival, autonomy and freedom - will the battle demand the ultimate sacrifice?

Review
This is the sequel to Zenith, the second part of the Androma Saga. It reminded me a little bit of the later books in the Red Rising series, the more space, planet hopping, and fighting of houses ones. Obviously this is more YA orientated, with a lot more twee energy and dialogues.

I would suggest reading the first in the series to get a better feeling for the entire cast of characters and the premise. It's far too vast to just read one book, and come away with the entire story.

There is a focus on Andi in this book, especially on the darkness that appears to be consuming her from within. At certain points she feels she has to choose between the group and said darkness. It depends on which is more enticing and offers up a better solution in that moment.

It's space opera come dystopian sci-fi with elements of fantasy. A fast paced adventure that starts out with a superbly delicious villain in the main role. The reader then watches as the moral dilemmas and the relationships force the villainous nature to retreat and the character re-evaluates what is more important to all, as opposed to just her.

It's a way to introduce younger readers to the exciting genres of space opera, sci-fi and the complex world-building of the aforementioned. It's often so fast that there is no time for character depth or deeper dialogue. I wonder what the read would be like if it had less of a spacious minute feel and more defining moments instead.

Buy Nexus at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 13 May (ebook) and 13 June 2019 (paperback). Buy at Amazon com.


#BlogTour God's Children by Mabli Roberts


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour God's Children by Mabli Roberts. It's historical fiction, a memoir of sorts and a mystery to boot.
About the Author
Mabli Roberts lives in a wild, mountainous part of Wales. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and has worked as a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Wales, Newport. Most of her inspiration comes from her love of history and from long walks in the timeless landscape around her.

Mabli also writes as Paula Brackston, PJ Brackston and PJ Davy. Nutters was shortlisted for the Mind Book Award and The Witch’s Daughter was a New York Times bestseller.

Her work has been translated into five languages and is sold around the world. You can find out more about her books on her website www.paulabrackston.com, her Author’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/worldofpaulabrackston/ and YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/paulabrackstonbooks as well as the God's Children Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Gods-Children-1476228589147399/

Follow World of Paula Brackston on Facebook, God's Children on FacebookPaula Brackston Books on Youtube, on Goodreads, Visit paulabrackston.com
Buy God's Children


About the book
'Kate Marsden: nurse, intrepid adventurer, saviour of the lepers or devious manipulator, immoral and dishonest?'

As she lies on her deathbed visited by the ghosts of her past, who should we believe, Kate or those who accuse her of duplicity? Memory is a fickle thing: recollections may be frozen in time or distorted by the mirror of wishful thinking. Kate’s own story is one of incredible achievements, illicit love affairs and desperate longing; those of her accusers paint a very different portrait – of a woman determined on fame and fortune.

The reader navigates a narrative as fractured as the Siberian ice Kate crosses in search of a cure for leprosy, and as beautiful as Rose, her lost love, as the full picture emerges of a life lived when women were not expected to break the mould.

Review
Who was Kate Marsden? Was she a woman intent on providing care and a cure for those suffering from leprosy, with big plans to build hospitals? Or was she a clever manipulator and con woman?
The question that remains in the end is whether Kate Marsden was the woman she wanted everyone to believe she was or just an organiser of a well executed scam.

She uses her professional experiences and extensive travels to make more connections. Her fans include the British and Russian royal family, and a spate of wealthy women. Her benefactors want to see her succeed because she acts in God's name. A little bit like an evangelical tv star, but without the medium of television.

She holds town hall meetings to encourage people to spend money and invest in her very ambitious plans. Of course society wants to be seen helping those less fortunate, because it makes them look like better people.

Kate hints occasionally at some unspoken horror experienced at the hands of certain men whilst travelling the isolated areas looking for people stricken with leprosy. That thought sort of petered out during the tale though.

Her sexual preferences are hinted at, but never go further other than to suggest moments of titillation and flushed cheeks. Love is suggested, but desire remains in the imagination of the beholder.

In retrospect it's hard to be completely clear on the truth. Were her detractors extremely successful in plotting her downfall because they were presenting the sordid truth or because their need for revenge had become an obsession? I suppose it depends on which account you are more likely to believe.

It's historical fiction, a biography of sorts and a mystery to boot. Even towards the end, Kate is uncertain what is truth and what is fiction courtesy of the critics.

Buy God's Children at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads at any other retailer. Published by Honno Press in paperback and ebook format on 11th April 2019. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Blackwell's. Buy at Hive. At Google. At Foyles. Barnes & Noble. Buy at Honno Press.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

#BlogTour Every Dog Has His Day by Chloe Grace


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Every Dog has his Day by Chloe Grace. It's a cosy mystery with a four-legged, furry canine detective in the starring role.

Get your free copy of Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, the prequel to Every Dog has his Day.
About the Author
Chloe Grace is the cozy mystery pen name for romantic mystery author, Karen Botha. While she doesn’t understand animals quite as well as Bella in the Albertus Eagle Detective Beagle cozy mysteries, she does chat along to her rescue dog, Shadow, pretty much all day.
And she’s sure that he chats back.

Chloe lives with Shadow and her hubby in a small outpost of London city—funnily enough it’s a little like where Bella and Albie live. As a family they like to go on walks in the local woods and throw a tennis ball until their respective arms ache, which is usually before Shadow shows any hint of exhaustion.

While her first romance novels were inspired by true life events, the Albertus Eagle series are complete imagination – although her conversations with Shadow can’t be ignored.

Follow @karenbothanovel on Twitter, Follow Chloe Grace on Facebook, Follow Karen Botha on Instagram, on Goodreads, on BookBub, on Facebook
Buy Every Dog Has His Day


About the book
They say every dog has his day.
Well, today I've certainly had mine.
Hey, I'm Albertus Eagle and it turns out I'm an unwitting pet detective. I haven't always been such a successful legal beagle, but when I'm confronted with a case that is so personal I can't ignore it, I discover I have a passion for finding those who don't want to be found.

Cleo the cat. Well, she came along for the ride too.
So, sure I've had my day today, but not in the sense of being past my prime. To the contrary, the fun is just starting. And I am buzzing with a new purpose, mixed with a tiny amount of vindictive elation.

Why?
Because, I've not only found myself a new home after the untimely demise of my previous owner, but I've also made amends with the cat. It turns out she's not that bad, really.
On top of that though, and this is what really sends shivers racing all the way down my spine to my paws, is that we've fingered a killer.

How?
Because you human’s, you underestimate us animals. And while you go about your business ignoring our very existence, the cat and I are listening and taking notes.

This is the first full length novel in the Albertus Eagle detective beagle series of animal cozy mysteries, starring Albertus Eagle, and his two sidekicks, Cleo the cat and Bella Schuhmann, the smart human who actually understands him. In this wonderful full length book packed with humour and satire, we see the world of murder and intrigue set up through the eyes of a loyal dog turned amateur sleuth.

Review
Move over Columbo, here comes Albertus Eagle the famous canine detective. A beagle who is ready to save the day and take down criminals one murderer at a time. He is supported by his feline sidekick Cloe, and his human Bella.

Albie and Cloe have gone from riches to rags, because their owner was murdered. Luckily they are both adopted by Bella, who is just as determined to find the person who took their owner from them.

What's interesting is that Albertus, Albie for short, clicks with and understands Bella quite well and vice versa, and Bella can communicate with Cloe too. Not sure where she has acquired these skills, perhaps there is an app for it.

They are listening, taking notes (*wonders how are they taking notes*), and solving crimes for the humans, because clearly they are incapable of doing so by themselves. In fact they, the humans, are seemingly unaware that dogs and cats rule the world.

Albie's commentary is hilarious at times, especially when he is throwing shade at everyone including other breeds. 'We all know Ridgebacks are a flighty bunch' - burn.

This is the perfect story for readers who love animals and a cosy mystery. It's entertaining, sweet and highly amusing at times.

It's a cosy mystery with a four-legged, furry canine detective in the starring role. The kind of read that is just right if you need a bit of relaxation, a few giggles and come away from it with a smile on your face. The author definitely delivers when it comes to that.

It's not meant to be a complex thriller. It is exactly what it says on the box.

Buy Every Dog Has His Day on Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Dust Devils by Jonathan Janz


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Dust Devils by Jonathan Janz. It's a western and horror combined with paranormal fantasy.
About the Author
Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, which explains everything. Brian Keene named his debut novel The Sorrows "the best horror novel of 2012."The Library Journal deemed his follow-up, House of Skin," reminiscent of ShirleyJackson's The Haunting of Hill House
and Peter Straub's Ghost Story."

Since then Jonathan's work has been lauded by writers like Jack Ketchum, Edward Lee, Tim Waggoner, Bryan Smith,and Ronald Kelly. Novels like The Nightmare Girl, Wolf Land, Savage Species,and Dust Devils prompted Thunderstorm Books to sign Jonathan to an eleven-book deal and to give him his own imprint, Jonathan Janz's Shadow Side.

His novel Children of the Dark received a starred review in Booklistand was chosen by their board as one of the Top Ten Horror Books of the Year (August 2015-September 2016). Children of the Dark will soon be translated into German and has been championed by the Library Journal, the School
Library Journal,and Cemetery Dance. In early 2017, his novel Exorcist Falls was released to critical acclaim.

Jonathan's primary interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children,and though he realizes that every author's wife and children are wonderful and amazing, in this case the cliché happens to be true.

Follow @JonathanJanz and @flametreepress on Twitter, Follow Janz On Instagram, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit jonathanjanz.com
Buy Dust Devils


About the book
It is 1885 in the wilds of New Mexico and Cody Wilson and Willet Black are bent on revenge after their loved ones are slaughtered by a group of traveling actors, but neither of them suspects what they're really up against.

For the actors are vampires. Their thirst for human blood is insatiable. The two must battle the vampires—alone—or die trying.
Review
Janz has been making a name for himself in the horror genre. It's fair to say he tries to mix it up and redefine it by combining old favourites and modern ideas. This time it's a western meets paranormal fantasy extravaganza.

The relationship between Cody and Willet is one of the highlights of the book. The two of them bond over the fact the vampires have taken loved ones from them. Cody becomes almost paternal towards Willet, perhaps the boy represents the future he has lost.

Some of the scenes are quite graphic, especially the violent and sexual ones. Janz can be a bit of a shock jock at times. A bit of a 'let me lull you with the intricately woven relationships and my writing, then when you least expect it a wet kipper will whack you round the face' kind of storyteller. The violence or the more graphic details creates a sense of unease and keep the readers on their toes, which I think is intentional. Janz doesn't want his readers getting too comfortable.

It's not everyone's cup of tea, but I think readers who know Janz are aware of his style and hey the genre is known for being extreme and bending the boundaries. I think there has to be a nice balance, so it doesn't appear to be gratuitous. Sometimes less is more, especially when it comes to the sexual element.

It's a western and horror combined with paranormal fantasy. Cowboys vs Vampires, which is far more politically correct and results in some interesting scenarios. It's a blood-drenched read.

What I can say without a doubt is that Janz enjoys evoking a strong emotional response in readers, regardless of whether they are feeling sympathy, disgust or anger.

Buy Dust Devils at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; pub date 27 Jun. 2019. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Flame Tree.

Read my review of The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

#BlogTour The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw. It's literary fiction, combined with a extraordinary thread of logic, mathematical theory, astronomy, physics and theorem, which flows throughout the story.
About the Author
Charlie Laidlaw was born in Paisley and is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh. He has been a national newspaper journalist and worked in defence intelligence. He now runs his own marketing consultancy in East Lothian. He is married with two grown-up children.

Follow @claidlawauthor on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Facebook, Visit charlielaidlawauthor.com


About the book
There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth…

Emma Maria Rossini’s perfect life begins to splinter when her celebrity father becomes more distant, and her mother dies suspiciously during a lightning storm. This death has a massive effect on Emma, but after stumbling through university, she settles into work as a journalist in Edinburgh.

Her past, however, cannot be escaped. Her mental health becomes unstable. But while recovering in a mental institution, Emma begins to write a memoir to help come to terms with the unravelling of her life.

She finds ultimate solace in her once-derided grandfather’s Theorem on the universe – which offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost.

Review
It reminded me of the work of Benjamin Constable - the way reality is speckled and fragmented, and driven by the imagination, which results in singularly individual experiences and memories. No one memory is the same even when the event is experienced by multiple people simultaneously.

In this case it leaves the reader wondering what is fiction, what is fact or more importantly what is it that Emma wants to believe and perhaps wants others to believe. Towards the end of the book, as the truth of her situation becomes more apparent, the read flows into an introspective narrative. It completely flips the narrative of the first half of the book.

The reader then becomes aware that the story, up to that point, is told from the subjective point of a child. A child who perhaps wants to remember her life a certain way instead of remembering the reality of it. She romanticises the negative aspects or brushes them away as if they are annoyances. Daddy is never there because he is very busy, as opposed to he isn't there because they aren't a priority and he doesn't care. Mommy gets annoyed and flustered sometimes, as opposed to Mommy is sad, depressed and suffers from anxiety.

It's literary fiction, combined with a extraordinary thread of logic, mathematical theory, astronomy, physics and theorem, which flows throughout the story. I loved that aspect of the story, in fact the grandfather was my favourite character.

Laidlaw is the kind of writer you have to take time to enjoy. This isn't a quick fix or read. Every nuance of the story opens up a separate avenue to explore and examine, especially in the second half, because the reader has been given the rest of the information in the first half ergo the second is the missing variable, which allows us to solve the equation.

It explores the emotional fragility of Emma the woman, due to the trauma she endured as a child. Laidlaw examines depression, anxiety and suicide from the viewpoint of a spectator. Then as the spectator becomes the person who has to learn to cope with mental health issues. The result is a fascinating read.

Buy The Space Between Time at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Accent Press Ltd; pub date 20 Jun. 2019. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Accent Press.