Friday, 3 December 2021

#BlogTour Blue Running by Lori Ann Stephens

 For fans of Station Eleven and The Handmaid’s Tale, Blue Running is a gripping coming-of-age thriller set in post-secessionist Texas. Published on the 2nd of December 2021 by Moonflower Books.

About the Author

Lori Ann Stephens is an award-winning author whose American published novels include Novalee and the Spider Secret, Some Act of Vision, and Song of the Orange Moons. Her short stories have appeared in Glimmer Train Stories, and other literary presses. She is also the winner of The Chicago Tribune’s “Nelson Algren Awards.” A lifelong Texan, she’s seen the best and worst of her home state and has come to the conclusion that Texans are truly fabulous at heart. She teaches creative writing and critical reasoning at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. 

Follow @lorifromtexas on Twitter, Visit loriannstephens.com

About the book

In the new Republic of Texas, open-carry gun ownership is mandatory, fundamentalist religion is the norm, violent motorcycle gangs terrorise the towns, the police are corrupted, and vigilantes guard the Wall that keeps people out and in. It is in this setting that Bluebonnet Andrews has grown up in the small town of Blessing with her alcoholic deputy father, her mother having fled the country just before Texas’ borders were closed to the rest of the world.

When a firearm accident kills Blue’s best friend, the Texas Rangers accuse her of murder. The penalty for murder is death, regardless of your age. Terrified, Blue goes on the run. In this journey away from the only home she has ever known, Blue joins up with a Latin American teenager named Jet, who is also on the run. Blue's vague plans of crossing the border and finding her mother are galvanized by Jet’s situation: the 16-year-old is pregnant. She needs to cross the Wall into America, where abortion is still legal. But is freedom of choice worth dying for?

Blue Running addresses issues of feminism, nationalism, women’s rights, racial injustice, immigration, and gun ownership, framed through the intimate tale of two young women from different backgrounds reacting to the system. Underlying these surface issues are their own personal struggles: histories of abandonment, abuse, sexual assault, racism, and individual agency.

Lori Stephens is a massive new talent in the literary fiction thriller scene. Her writing is sparse, fearless, and real. Blue Running pulls no punches. A fast-paced, page-turning, chilling book which looks unflinchingly at what the future could hold, Blue Running is unforgettable and important. This is her first book to be published in the UK.

Review

Blue is a neglected, abandoned and lonely teenager, who finds her life thrown upside down when she finds herself in the middle of a tragic accident. Trouble is nobody believes her and as she is making her way to the person she thinks will embrace her with open arms, she comes across a young girl who intends to flee to America to an abortion. Blue starts to understand her own privilege and how different life is for both of them. Their journey becomes an awakening and eye-opening experience.

A dystopian that sails close to the wind when it comes to realistic possible futuristic scenarios will always be memorable and relatable. This plot describes a future certain political groupings and fanatics would be quite comfortable with. A wall built between those who misinterpret freedom and democracy, and those who understand better what democracy truly means.

Stephens has brought together the most contentious issues of 21st century America, and the political climate of the past six years or so, to create a fascinating coming-of-age story. Blue represents the youth of today, but perhaps more importantly Jet and Blue represent both sides of the story.

In a frank and often alarming look into the future, the plot deals with racism, neglect, abuse, and the victims of political power plays. Where the powers that be take choice and freedom away from women and young girls, all in the name of religion - on words written by man for men. Whilst simultaneously the same powers that be think nothing of making each child a potential killer by arming them and enforcing martial law on everyone, including children who break the law. The break in logic is clear to some and yet to others this seems like a great structure for society. 

It's a gripping and fascinating read.

Buy Blue Running at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Moonflower Books, pub date 2nd December 2021|£16.99| Hardback. Buy at Amazon com.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

#BlogTour The Quiet People by Paul Cleave

 It's my turn on the BlogTour The Quiet People by Paul Cleave.

About the Author

Paul is an award-winning author who divides his time between his home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, where most of his novels are set, and Europe. He has won the New Zealand Ngaio Marsh Award three times, the Saint-Maur book festival’s crime novel of the year award in France, and has been shortlisted for the Edgar and the Barry in the US and the Ned Kelly in Australia. 

His books have been translated into over twenty languages. He’s thrown his frisbee in over forty countries, plays tennis badly, golf even worse, and has two cats – which is often two too many.

Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulCleave, and his website: paulcleave.com.

About the book

Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful New Zealand crime writers, happily married and topping bestseller lists worldwide. They have been on the promotional circuit for years, joking that no one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living.

So when their challenging seven-year-old son Zach disappears, the police and the public naturally wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time… Are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime?

Multi-award winning bestseller Paul Cleave returns with an electrifying and chilling thriller about family, public outrage and what a person might be capable of under pressure, that will keep you guessing until the final page…

Review

The plot is tragically cynical in a way. The parents and their need for success becomes an Achilles heel in the disappearance of their young son. Who better to plan the abduction and possible murder of a victim than two people who seem to be experts at plotting crimes?

The suspicion that falls quite quickly on the parents mirrors a similar well known crime. The public are more invested in pointing the finger and shaming them than in the truth. The victim becomes almost secondary to the media frenzy and investigation that ensues.

It's a dark psychological thriller. The author doesn't mind crossing the boundaries and making readers feel uncomfortable, surprised and perhaps in part playing up to the kind of fears that lurk below the surface. It's one thing to throw something outrageous into the general atmosphere, but in reality we don't rally want certain things to come to fruition.

It's a tense read with plenty of relatable moments, especially when it comes to parenting and the fears we have for our vulnerable children, but the most frightening thing is when some of those fears come true.

Buy The Quiet People at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Orenda Books; pub date 25 November 2021 |  Paperback Original | £8.99. Buy at Amazon com. At Orenda Books.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

#BlogTour The Moon Almanac by Judith Hurrell

It's a pleasure to take part of the BlogTour The Moon Almanac: A Month-by-Month Guide to the Lunar Year by Judith Hurrell.

'A beautifully designed guide to the lunar calendar, including poetry, prose and trivia relating to each phase of the moon.'

About the Author

Judith Hurrell is a freelance writer who lives in Buckinghamshire. When she's not writing, you'll find her in nature, going on about the sky, the sea, the earth and the trees to her family and dogs. She was inspired to write this book after joining a women's circle, which meets every month to mark and celebrate the 12 phases of the lunar cycle. Follow @judehurrell on Twitter

About the book

When can you spot the Hunter’s Moon, a Smiling Moon or a Pink Moon? How can the phases of the moon help your garden grow? What influence does the full moon have on hamsters, coral and skylarks?

Navigate the rhythms of the night sky with this evocative collection of poetry, prose and precious wisdom. Illuminating the moon’s influence on the natural world and its depiction in folklore and the arts, The Moon Almanac will open your eyes to the wonders of our brightest celestial neighbour.

Review

When I first picked this up I was already thinking about who I can buy one for, this is the perfect gift for moon worshippers, and anyone curious about the moon in general. It's a beautiful small hardback with lovely illustrations. Chapters on the moon in female archetypes, sky wolves and demons, moon gardens, the moon and nature or phases of the moon.

How the moon is connected to biological rhythms - to your sleep patterns and your circadian rhythm. The way the moon is linked intrinsically to folklore, mythology, history and is part of our language.

It's a fascinating homage to the moon, to the myths attached, to the science and physics, and of course the importance it plays in our lives. The moon in religion and folklore. It has been the object of attention for centuries, and I'm guessing nothing will change that any time soon.

It's a lovely book I wouldn't hesitate to buy for others or recommend.

Buy The Moon Almanac at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published by Summersdale in Hardback on 23 August 2021, priced £9.99. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Summersdale.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

#BlogTour No Way To Die by Tony Kent

 It's my turn on the BlogTour No Way To Die by Tony Kent.

About the Author

Tony Kent is a practising criminal barrister who draws on his legal experience to bring a striking authenticity to his thrillers: Killer Intent, Marked for Death, Power Play and now No Way To Die. Ranked as a ‘leader in his field’ Tony has prosecuted and defended in the most serious trials during his twenty years at the Criminal Bar - specialising in murder, terrorism, corruption, kidnap and organised crime. His case history is filled with nationally reported trials and his practice has brought him into close professional contact with GCHQ, the Security Service and the Ministry of Defence. He has also defended in matters with an international element, involving agencies such as the FBI.

Tony also appears as a criminal justice expert on a number of TV shows, including Meet, Marry, Murder (coming soon to Netflix), My Lover, My Killer and Kill Thy Neighbour (both Channel 5).

Prior to his legal career Tony represented England as a heavyweight boxer and won a host of national amateur titles. He lives just outside of London with his wife, young son and dog. Follow @TonyKent_Writes on Twitter, Visit tonykent.net

About the book

When traces of a radioactive material are found with a body in Key West, multiple federal agencies suddenly descend on the scene. This is not just an isolated murder - a domestic terrorist group is ready to bring the US government to its knees.

The threat hits close to home for Agent Joe Dempsey when he discovers a personal connection to the group. With his new team member, former Secret Service agent Eden Grace, Dempsey joins the race to track down the bomb before it’s too late. But when their mission falls apart, he is forced to turn to the most unlikely of allies: an old enemy he thought he had buried in his past.

Now, with time running out, they must find a way to work together to stop a madman from unleashing horrifying destruction across the country.

Review

The unexpected and brutal death of a security guard is the starting point for a chase across country to catch a militant group with a deadly mission. Joe Dempsey finds himself pulled between saving many and finding someone who may or may not be at the middle of an insidious plot.

Kent spins a web a little bit like someone attached pins to a board and drawing string from one pin to the other. Connecting places, people and events - all driven by a common denominator. I kind of liked the way the author takes the reader into one corner and completely submerges everyone in the here and now, only to whip them straight out of that moment and into a another in the blink of an eye.

It gives this thriller an element of mystery, whilst also giving it on point political vibe. The drive of fanatics and the very real danger of domestic terrorism. Not a new concept, but a very divisive one at the moment. Does the goal justify the means depending on the message? Has a new kind of division created the kind of wedge it's hard to remove?

I think that's certainly a strongpoint when it comes to Kent's books. You get the action, the humanity, the brotherhood, but also the realism.

Buy No Way To Die at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Elliott Thompson  / pub date 18 November 2021 / HB - £16.99. Buy at Waterstones.

Monday, 22 November 2021

#BlogTour Before My Actual Heart Breaks by Tish Delaney

 It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Before My Actual Heart Breaks by Tish Delaney.

'An incredible debut exploring loneliness, grief and the long-lasting repercussions of trauma set against the backdrop of the Northern Irish Troubles.'

About the Author

Tish Delaney was born and brought up in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles. Like a lot of people of her generation, she left the sectarian violence behind by moving to England. After graduating from Manchester University, she moved to London and worked on various magazines and broadsheets as a reporter, reviewer and sub-editor. She left the Financial Times in 2014 to live in the Channel Islands to pursue her career as a writer. Follow @TishDelaney2 on Twitter

About the book

'If I could go back to being Sixteen again, I'd do things differently.' When she was young Mary Rattigan wanted to fly. She was going to take off like an angel from heaven and leave the muck and madness of troubled Northern Ireland behind. Nothing but the Land of Happy Ever After would do for her. But as a Catholic girl with a B.I.T.C.H. for a Mammy and a silent Daddy, things did not go as she and Lizzie Magee had planned. 

Now, five children, twenty-five years, an end to the bombs and bullets, enough whiskey to sink a ship and endless wakes and sandwich teas later, Mary's alone. She's learned plenty of hard lessons and missed a hundred steps towards the life she'd always hoped for. Will she finally find the courage to ask for the love she deserves? Or is it too late?

Review

After reading this I stepped away and thought about the core of the story, which is surrounded by many other equally important issues, but what the core was for me. I say for me because it may be different, depending on each reader and their frame of reference. It's not easy given the fact that the author has created a poignant picture of family dynamics, political atmosphere, religious hierarchy and dominance, economic and social structure in Ireland from the 70s into the 21st century.

For me the way Mary, her personality, psyche and choices were formed and driven by and through the abuse she suffered. The fraught mother-daughter relationship, which at some point brings her to a crossroads and acknowledgement that a layer of umbilical loyalty cord results in a reversal of roles.

The way her expectation of self, her lack of self-confidence, and the constant feeling of having lost out or missed something along the way - it has defined her life and the way she loves or doesn't.

It's a story of incredible depth, and I think many readers will be able to relate to Mary or some element of the story in one way or another. Delaney is a fascinating storyteller.

Buy Before My Actual Heart Breaks at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Penguin - Windmill Books, pub date 28th October 2021 - Paperback, £8.99. Buy at Amazon com.

Monday, 15 November 2021

#BlogTour Psychopaths Anonymous by Will Carver

It's an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Psychopaths Anonymous by Will Carver. It's a dark read and a cracking one.

About the Author

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his  sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Will’s latest title published by Orenda Books,

The Beresford was published in July. His previous title Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize, while Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts. Follow @will_carver on Twitter

About the book

When AA meetings make her want to drink more, alcoholic murderess Maeve sets up a group for psychopaths. Maeve has everything. A high-powered job, a beautiful home, a string of uncomplicated one-night encounters. She’s also an addict: a functioning alcoholic with a dependence on sex and an insatiable appetite for killing men.

When she can’t find a support group to share her obsession, she creates her own. And Psychopaths Anonymous is born. Friends of Maeve.

Now in a serious relationship, Maeve wants to keep the group a secret. But not everyone in the group adheres to the rules, and when a reckless member raises suspicions with the police, Maeve’s drinking spirals out of control. She needs to stop killing. She needs to close the group. But Maeve can’t seem to quit the things that are bad for her, including her new man…

Review

What's not to enjoy about the refreshing honesty with which Maeve goes about her daily life. The automatic and expected boxes are ticked to keep up appearances, but what happens when the small moments of truth and pleasure threaten to interfere with the way she runs her life. Can she sustain any kind of long-term relationship or friendship without being swallowed up by the darkness she likes to cater to.

I think I enjoyed this book for all the wrong reasons. At the top of that list is the fact the author peels back the layers of the shallow exteriors and presents a very real reality. In fact I wonder what would or will happen if psychopathic or sociopathic traits become an acceptable part of society? 

Next on the list, and I have mentioned this in a review of a book written by a recovering alcoholic who swallowed the scheme whole and shouted it out to the world, is the way Carver takes AA to task. It doesn't work, and the statistics are very interesting. It divides the addicted into categories, some of which are set-up to fail like some self-fulfilling prophecy. Not because of the addiction per se, but because of the way it is infused with a cult like dependency on a reverence to religion and God. 

Clearly only the door reading you must accept God and faith into your heart or fail automatically, means everyone who steps through another door is on a fast path to failure. It also means blame and guilt for loss of sobriety has an automatic perpetrator, as opposed to having personal accountability or looking at the cause and not the symptom.

And the third point is the logistical aspect of certain victimology, which should probably raise alarm bells about the writer, if I were so inclined, but I'm not. (My next FoM meeting is coming Wednesday at six pm - just saying.) 

If Friends of Maeve groups start to pop up everywhere we all know whose door to knock on, right? Talk about giving people ideas and some direction in their lives. Trust Carver to create the kind of book that people will probably either feel uncomfortable about or not admit to liking it for being a bit more than a crime read. I loved it. It's deliciously dark. It lacks any kind of societal norm or boundary. Most importantly it speaks softly to the dark side - they might not acknowledge it, but they are listening. It's a superb read.

Buy Psychopaths Anonymous at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏:  Orenda Books pub date 25 Nov. 2021. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Orendabooks.

Friday, 12 November 2021

#BlogTour The Replacement by Melanie Golding


 It's a pleasure to review this unexpected little gem and take part in the BlogTour The Replacement by Melanie Golding.

'Weaving together the trademark folklore inspiration that readers loved in Little Darlings, with the procedural narrative force of a brilliant mystery, this is the excellent and unnerving new novel from Melanie Golding.'

About the Author

Melanie Golding has a master’s in creative writing from Bath Spa University. She has taught writing in prisons and institutions for young offenders, as well as music in a school for boys with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Her novel Little Darlings has been optioned for film. A full-time, registered childminder, Golding splits her time between her childminding duties and her writing. 

Follow @mk_golding on Twitter and @melaniegoldingauthor on Instagram

About the book

When a small child is found wandering alone, the local shopkeepers call the authorities immediately. Twenty minutes later, the girl’s mother turns up, panicked and distraught. It doesn't take long to clear things up, and mother and daughter are soon reunited and sent on their way.

Miles away, the body of a man is discovered, floating in a bathtub, but the most surprising discovery of all is that he isn't dead. Despite his injuries, he is very much alive.

Two seemingly unrelated events. But as DS Harper begins to investigate, disturbing truths start to come to light that connect the man to the mother and child, and suddenly it’s not clear where the danger truly lies. Harper must find out, and quickly. Because someone, or something, is closing in and she needs to uncover the truth before it’s too late…

Review

This wasn't at all what I was expecting. It hooked me, reeled me in, and I loved it.

What kind of mother just leaves her toddler? A desperate one or one that changes her mind and comes back ten minutes later, by which time the police and social are involved. It takes some convincing, but eventually mother and daughter are reunited and allowed to leave.

Elsewhere DS Harper is investigating another crime, which at first glance is completely unrelated, until a connection is made between mother, child and man. A simple mystery and possible crime, becomes a taut psychological read with added element, which absolutely makes the story.

I think this is definitely becoming a trademark style of Golding, the way crime and human nature is merged with folklore and myths to create the kind of read that never quite lets you go. Merging the emotional fragility, the underlying violence, the unconditional love and the instinct for survival with the shimmer of belief we carry in our core - the result is a great story.

This is an author to watch, there is natural knack for creating tension, weaving threads and compelling storytelling.

Buy The Replacement at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎HQ pub date 11 Nov. 2021. Buy at Amazon com. At Harper Collins.