Monday, 20 June 2022

#BlogTour The Heron Kings' Flight by Eric Lewis

It's my turn on the BlogTour The Heron Kings' Flight by Eric Lewis.

About the Author

Eric Lewis' debut novel, The Heron Kings, is a grimdark adventure exploring rebellion and the dangers of obsessive revenge. Avoiding the monsters and magic common to high fantasy, the monsters here are all too human, and extraordinary groups of ordinary people can make their own kind of magic when they've finally had enough. The Heron Kings' Flight is the second book in the series.

Eric has also written several works of speculative short fiction published in various venues including Nature, Cossmass Infinities, Electric Spec, Bards & Sages Quarterly, as well as the anthology Crash Code, the short story collection Tricks of the Blade, and others detailed at ericlewis.ink. Follow @TheHeronKing on Twitter

About the book

The Heron Kings have been betrayed. A century after their formation from a gang of desperate peasant insurgents, the shadowy band of forest rangers suffers a rare defeat when a skirmish turns into a bloody ambush. Their shaky truce with the crown is tested as young members Linet and Aerrus work to track down their enemies. When reluctant peacetime soldier Eyvind reveals a conspiracy to welcome the charismatic invader Phynagoras, the trio must convince a weak king and pitifully few allies to stand against the storm.

Their only hope lies in the forgotten tactics of their own guerrilla past, and a terrifying new alchemical weapon the likes of which the world had never imagined. The only question is which side will be destroyed by it first...


Review

This is the second book in the Heron Kings' series, although this can absolutely be read as a standalone book, I would highly recommend reading the first one.

There is massive twist at the end of the book, so I shall tread carefully with as little info as possible, whilst simultaneously trying to do the book justice. It's a heck of a ride, an intricate plot with plenty of room to expand further with more books.

When Aerrus returns from his duties alone and without the rest of his faithful companions and fierce fighters he enlists the first person he encounters to return to get a bit of blood and revenge. Linet and Aerrus stumble upon something that points towards betrayal and a sense of impending doom. Their hidden community is at risk - the question is who is behind the insidious attack and why, the real question is why.

I think it's fair to say the author is willing to pull out the big guns to keep readers captivated and coming back. Just a wee bit ruthless, but effective. I look forward to seeing where this series goes next - it has to, you can't just leave a reader hanging after such a tumultuous read.

Buy The Heron Kings' Flight at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Flame Tree Press,  pub date 17 May 2022. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Flame Tree Press.

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

#BlogTour The Half-Life of Snails by Philippa Holloway

It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Half-Life of Snails by Philippa Holloway.

About the Author

Philippa Holloway is a writer and senior lecturer at Staffordshire University, living in England but with her heart still at home in Wales. Her short fiction is published on four continents. 

She has won prizes in literary awards including the Fish Publishing Prize, The Scythe Prize, and the Writers & Artists Working Class Writer’s Prize. She is co-editor of the collection 100 Words of Solitude: Global Voices in Lockdown 2020 (Rare Swan Press). Follow @thejackdawspen on Twitter

About the book

Two sisters, two nuclear power stations, one child caught in the middle… When Helen, a self-taught prepper and single mother, leaves her young son Jack with her sister for a few days so she can visit Chernobyl’s Exclusion Zone, they both know the situation will be tense. Helen opposes plans for a new power station on the coast of Anglesey that will take over the family’s farmland, and Jennifer works for the nuclear industry and welcomes the plans for the good of the economy. But blood is thicker than heavy water, and both want to reconnect somehow, with Jack perhaps the key to a new understanding of one another.

Yet while Helen is forced to face up to childhood traumas, and her worst fears regarding nuclear disaster, during a trip that sees her caught up in political violence and trapped in Chernobyl’s Exclusion Zone during the 2014 Euromaidan revolution, Jennifer too must discover that even the smallest decision can have catastrophic and long-lasting effects, both within the nuclear industry, and within the home.

And Jack isn’t like other five-year olds… as they will both discover with devastating consequences.

Review

Living on the perimeter of a nuclear power station has driven the mindset of young mother Helen. It has made her more aware of her surroundings and of the repercussions and dangers in regard to said station. One could say her need to be safe and prepared for all situations has become an obsession. The kind of obsession that makes a trip to a disaster scene seem normal - to her at least. Leaving her son in the capable hands of her family.

The bond between Helen and her son is strong, tight to the point of suffocation. A mother who sees danger in every corner and has taught her young boy accordingly. A bond that becomes strained and anxieties are heightened, when the worst case scenario happens whilst the two are separated for the first time.

I don't think this one will leave me, the type of read that exists in the back of your mind - a warning and a stark reminder. A reminder that mankind will never learn their lesson, that greed always supersedes common sense and the safety of those directly in the line of fire. 

Helen's approach to raising her son as a prepper, thereby also causing segregation, isolation and a very insulated view of his surroundings - it's contentious and neglectful. He is emotionally stunted and wary of anyone other than his mother, which makes him vulnerable. Or is Helen one step closer to the future than others, thereby creating a child able to survive under the direst of situations and circumstances.

This is the kind of book that resonates in the here and now, and equally has its place in history. It's also one, I am sure, that will divide readers at times. More importantly it will generate conversations - hopefully. It's a cracking and captivating read. 

Buy The Half-Life of Snails at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎ Parthian Books pub date 4 May 2022. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Parthian Books.

Monday, 13 June 2022

#BlogTour The Silk Pavilion by Sarah Walton

 It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Silk Pavilion by Sarah Walton.

About the Author

The pandemic has restricted Sarah Walton to the Sussex Downs of late, but she is restless for encounters around the world. A digital pioneer in California n the.com era, she remains a leading figure  in digital innovation and corporate storytelling. She has a PhD in Creative Writing and lectures on Hull University’s Online MA Creative Writing. 

Sarah also teaches her Soul Writing method, that combines meditation, free-writing and creative writing skills. This bis her third novel. Follow @sarahwalton on Twitter, Visit drsarahwalton.com

About the book

Lucy is on assignment. A wild, reclusive writer awaits her. She wants his life story. He wants her everything. A whirlwind romance takes them to the highs and lows of DeiĆ . But beneath them lie the bodies of a generation and as Lucy unearths the darkness, her own skeletons begin to rattle the closet.

A brilliant, steamy, summer read - on the Mallorcan coast, a young woman uncovers the history of a nation, of a rogue Spanish writer, and of herself.

Review

There is a huge contradiction between the emotional reaction and physical ones - the latter being lived out and the first narrated as an inner dialogue between the reader and the character. It has psychological connotations, almost as if the conscious and unconscious (subconscious) have their own stage appearances in the story. One after the other, trying to deliver their truth or what they assume to be their truth.

The gut reaction of repulsion (inner dialogue) and the physical desire, which then leads to sexual acts, even when the feeling of being repulsed by Miguel is almost overpowering. From the first page there are parallel paths of red flag gut instincts and self-warnings, and the romanticised drive that fuels the physical interactions.

Running alongside this path of self-flagellation in the form of degradation, risky choices and complete submission to familiar abusive traits, are historical issues in Lucy's past. Then to top it off a complex layer of the history of Franco's Spain, and the waves of pain and destruction it left in its wake.

It's a complex, and yet eerily engaging piece of literature. The author has an interesting way of creating a visceral bond between reader and story, and yet the reactions are often filled with the same kind of revulsion the main character experiences. The result is the kind of pull and hook that just doesn't let you go.

Buy The Silk Pavilion at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Barbican Press pub date 9 Jun. 2022. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at the Barbican Press.

Sunday, 12 June 2022

#Blogtour Aurora by David Koepp

It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Aurora David Koepp.

About the Author

David Koepp is one of the most successful screenwriters working today, known for his work with Steven Spielberg and Brian De Palma. His screenplays include the first two Jurassic Park films, Death Becomes Her, Carlito's Way, Mission: Impossible, Spider-Man, Panic Room, War of the Worlds, Angels and Demons and Inferno.

Koepp's debut thriller, Cold Storage, was greeted by a raft of acclaim from writers like Blake Crouch, Linwood Barclay, and Stephen King.

Shortlisted for the CWA Steel Dagger Award for Best Thriller of the Year, Cold Storage has now sold nearly 50,000 copies.

About the book

When the lights go out no one is safe… A planet without power. - When a solar storm hits the earth, the lights go out across the planet. But this time the blackout won’t be over soon – it could last for years. Aubrey and her stepson now face the biggest challenge of their lives.

 A society without rules. - Soon they hear rumours of riots, the struggle for food becomes real, and even within their small communities, the rule of law is collapsing. Aubrey’s estranged brother Thom, a self-made billionaire who abandoned her years ago, retreats to a gilded desert bunker where he can ride out the crisis in perfect luxury.

 A race to build a better world… But the complicated history between the siblings is far from over, and what feels like the end of the world is just the beginning of a personal reckoning long overdue…

Review

I want to start this review with a thank you to the author for the foreword - thanks, I really needed to know that. - Starts to prep, buys tinned goods, digs garden and plants produce, oh and let's not forget the generator. My father, who always tends to quote a possible zombie apocalypse for his semi-prepping, feels completely validated by this scenario - sans zombies of course.

A solar storm knocks out the power - the blackout rejigs life as everyone knows it, there are no rules of law. Survival of the fittest, the smartest and the most ruthless. Aubrey finds herself stuck with a moody hormonal teenager, who isn't even a blood relative, and an violent ex-hubby with a lack of boundaries. Her brother Thom, is someone wealthy enough to save himself and his loved ones. He wants to keep Aubrey safe, but she is fiercely independent, and he has to learn the hard way that not everything or everyone can be bought, especially when the established hierarchy and system falls apart and it is every person for themselves.

What I really enjoyed about this story is the wake-up call, the blast of reality, and the way it reads like a written account of a disaster, which could be read by future generations. Also the inability of government at any level to react to an impending crisis with scientific reasoning or common sense, and instead putting greed and profit above safety and potential loss of life. That in itself is indicative of how something like this premise could play out.

The story is almost laid out like a script waiting to be cast. You can envision the screen version, as you read the story. I wouldn't hesitate to grab another book by this author or recommend him for that matter.

Buy Aurora at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎HQ pub date 9 Jun. 2022. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Harper Collins.

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

#BlogTour #Audiobook No Place to Run by Mark Edwards

It's a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour for the Audiobook version of No Place to Run by Mark Edwards.

About the Author

Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers in which scary things happen to ordinary people. Mark has sold over 3.5 million books since his first solo novel, The Magpies, was published in 2013 and has topped the bestseller lists numerous times. His other novels include Follow You Home, Here To Stay and The House Guest. 

He has also published six books co-authored with Louise Voss. His last book, The Hollows, was published in July 2021. Mark lives in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, their three children and two cats. He Tweets at @mredwards

About the book

Two years ago, on a trip to Seattle to visit her brother Aidan, fifteen-year-old Scarlett vanished into thin air.

After years of false leads and dead ends, Aidan has almost given up hope. But then a woman sees a girl running for her life across a forest clearing in Northern California. She is convinced the girl is the missing Scarlett. But could it really be her?

Heading south, Aidan finds a fire-ravaged town covered in missing-teenager posters. The locals seem afraid, the police won’t answer any questions and it looks like another dead end―until a chance meeting with returned local Lana gives Aidan his first clue. But as they piece together what happened, Lana and Aidan make deadly enemies. Enemies willing to do anything to silence them. Only one thing matters now: finding Scarlett ― even if it kills him. 

Review

This review is based on the audiobook version - I personally often find listening and reading experiences of the same book or material to be completely different, despite the subject matter. Possibly because the narrator replaces a lot of the imaginary character constructs, and situational reactions and tensions, one automatically creates whilst reading. That's a pretty long-winded way of saying that I am also going to be reading the hardcopy or digital version of this story.

When Aidan decides to solve the mystery of his teenage sister, who disappeared into thin air a few years prior, he doesn't realise he will end up having to wade through a quagmire of deception, greed, and ruthless corruption. He finds a companion in Lana, who like himself is looking for a missing loved one - in a town covered in missing posters. Sounds creepy, right? Yeh, it goes to places you just won't expect it to.

Having read prior work by this author I think it's fair to say that although this also carries the trademark slow-building and burning when it comes to storytelling, it is also the most boundary pushing and extensive in terms of scope. There was definitely an aspect of opening new doors and seeing where that leads us, especially in regard to combining genres. It's more speculative, and tugs quite a few ripcords when it comes to controversial topics and indeed 21st century problems.

It's a captivating, has the potential to a more than one-of, mystery come thriller. A slight deviation from the usual books by this author, but I am absolutely here for it. I love it when an author goes beyond the realms they might be boxed into for a variety of reasons - the results are often a great reading or listening experience.

Buy No Place to Run by Mark Edwards at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publication: Thomas & Mercer, pub date 21st June 2022 | Paperback -£8.99. Buy at Amazon com.

Listening Length - 10 hours and 11 minutes, Author - Mark Edwards, Narrator - Will M. Watt. Whispersync for Voice - Ready, Audible.co.uk Release Date - 21 June 2022, Publisher - Brilliance Audio, Program Type - Audiobook, Version - Unabridged, Language - English.

Saturday, 4 June 2022

#BlogTour The Goldhanger Dog by Wanda Whiteley

It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Goldhanger Dog by Wanda Whiteley.

About the Author

Wanda Whiteley is co-author of the memoir, Streetkid, which spent three months in the top 10 of the Sunday Times non-fiction bestsellers list. The Goldhanger Dog is her debut novel.

In addition to her role as founder and Editor-in-Chief of Manuscript Doctor, she is an independent consultant for Writers and Artists, and previously worked as a Publishing Director at HarperCollins for over a decade. This year, she will be running her first life-writing workshop at the Atelier de Scriitori retreat in Transylvania. Follow @wanda_whiteley on Twitter

About the book

In 1553, Tudor England is on the precipice of change, with young King Edward in ill health and the religious fate of the country hanging in the balance. But far from power, in the wilds of the Essex Marches, fifteen-year-old Dela meets Turnspit, a scruffy and morose dog sentenced to a life of drudgery turning a kitchen spit.

After Dela frees Turnspit, the pair of misfits flee from persecution, seeking sanctuary with Princess Mary Tudor. Little do the two friends realise that the princess is facing the greatest trial of her life, and they soon find themselves in grave danger, with only friendship to protect them.  

The incredible story of a turnspit dog, a mainstay of Tudor kitchens which has since gone extinct, The Goldhanger Dog is a magical story which explores the power of friendship and family in the face of adversity and misfortune.

Review

When young Dela loses her mother she starts to comprehend there might be something more within her, something powerful that she as yet is unable to control or see the where and why for. It's an unusual power that helps her makes connections those around can't, and to right the wrongs of steadfast and barbaric rituals.

Being different means attracting the attention of people, and the presumption is of ill will, as opposed to lending a helping hand. Accusations of witchcraft send her running, along with a newly found friend, straight into the arms of the next heir to the very sought after throne of England.

This is a book that can be enjoyed by older and younger readers alike. The author always stays within certain boundaries, and yet equally doesn't hide from the more difficult aspects of the era, whether they be political or societal. It's under the historical fiction heading, however I think it deserves a sub-genre of its own - how about historical magical realism. History, magical powers, friendship and above all seeing the humanity in all living beings.

In that sense the book also contains an important message about the way we treat others and animals of course. The way we look the other way when others suffer, especially when they are considered second class living beings, such as a food source or pet. The turnspit dog was bred for the sole purpose of being a kitchen worker, an animal bound to a wheel and tortured for the appetite and sustenance of mankind.

Leaving the more serious ponderings aside, this is a lovely read. Also, I cannot tell I lie, I especially enjoyed the last chapter, an ending that was earnt for sure.

Buy The Goldhanger Dog at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Waterstones.

Monday, 30 May 2022

#Blogtour Beach House Summer by Sarah Morgan

 It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Beach House Summer by Sarah Morgan.

About the Author

Sarah Morgan is a USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of romance and women's fiction. She has sold over 21 million copies of her books and her trademark humour and warmth have gained her fans across the globe.

Sarah lives near London, England and when she isn't writing or reading, she likes to spend time outdoors hiking or riding her mountain bike.

Join Sarah's mailing list at sarahmorgan.com for all book news. Follow @SarahMorgan_ on Twitter

About the book

A marriage in the spotlight - Joanna Whitman’s high-profile marriage held more secrets than she cares to remember, so when her ex-husband dies, she doesn't know what to feel. But when she discovers that he’s left behind a pregnant young woman, Joanna is forced to act. She knows exactly how brutal the spotlight on them both will be…unless she can find a way for them to disappear.

A beach house hideaway - Ashley Blake is amazed when Joanna suggests they lie low at her beach house in her sleepy Californian hometown. Joanna should be hating her, not helping her. But alone and pregnant, Ashley needs all the support she can find.

A summer of new beginnings - Joanna's only goal for the summer is privacy. All Ashley wants is space to plan for her and her baby's future. But when an old flame reappears, and secrets spill out under the hot summer sun, this unlikely friendship is put to the test…

Review

Are you supposed to feel sad if your philandering ex-hubby has a fatal accident and just happens to be in the company of young, attractive woman when it happens. What is the emotional protocol, and what is the public expectation when he is a celebrity, and because of that you are too? The world is eager to know what Joanna knows about his death and the mysterious woman who was with him when he died.

It's an interesting topic to wade into, the question of fame and whether being a public figure gives the media and fans the right to demand access to each moment of their lives. Does being in the limelight mean you automatically sign away your right to privacy? Does wanting a story or a headline warrant hounding a celebrity, perhaps even to the point of distress or worse?

I think there is a common misconception about public persona and interaction being part of their job, as opposed to the world understanding that a star, celebrity and public figure also has a right to privacy. Possibly even more so, when the majority of their lives is out there to be gawked at and commented on.

The author captures the invasive nature of the press, the lack of trust in the people around them, and the fragility of the person in the midst of news hungry media and gossipmongers. It must be incredibly difficult to realise that close friends and family will happily sell your intimate moments, your photos and your secrets for money or moment of fame.

I thought it was a little dialogue heavy and repetitive in the middle, however it is still a good read. The core is, for me at least, understanding that there is always a way forward even when your heart breaks, your trust in people is destroyed and every door seems to be locked. They aren't. It's also about misunderstandings and the way relationships can be redefined as we grow older, and as we enter new periods of our lives. Morgan always delivers a premise that gives plenty of food for thought.

Buy Beach House Summer at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎HQ pub date 26 May 2022. Buy at Amazon com. At Harper Collins.