Tuesday, 15 June 2021

#BlogTour The Awful Truth about the Herbert Quarry Affair by Marco Ocram


 It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Awful Truth about the Herbert Quarry Affair by Marco Ocram.

About the Author

Little is known of Marco Ocram’s earliest years. He was adopted at age nine, having been found abandoned in a Detroit shopping mall—a note taped to his anorak said the boy was threatening the sanity of his parents. Re-abandoned in the same mall a year later, with a similar note from his foster parents, he was homed with his current Bronx mom—a woman with no sanity left to threaten.

Ocram first gained public attention through his bold theories about a new fundamental particle—the Tao Muon—which he popularized in a best-selling book—The Tao Muon. He was introduced to the controversial literary theorist, Herbert Quarry, who coached Ocram in a radical new approach to fiction, in which the author must write without thinking—a technique to which Ocram was naturally suited. His crime memoir, The Awful Truth about the Herbert Quarry Affair, became the fastest selling book of all time, and made him a household name. It was translated into every known language—and at least three unknown ones—and made into an Oscar-winning film, a Pulitzer-winning play, a Tony-winning musical, and a Golden Joystick-winning computer game.

Ocram excelled at countless sports until a middle-ear problem permanently impaired his balance. He has yet to win a Nobel Prize, but his agent, Barney, has been placing strategic back-handers—announcements from Stockholm are expected soon. Unmarried, in spite of his Bronx mom’s tireless efforts, he still lives near his foster parents in New York. 

Follow @denishaughnessy on Twitter, Visit theawfulauthor.com

About the book

With a jangle of keys, a door opened. Herbert clanked in, his arms locked to his sides, his ankles shackled, his face a Hannibal Lecter mask. He was overjoyed to see me.

“Marco, I’m jailed day and night with murderous thugs who can’t tell Schiller from Shakespeare. I’m desperate for intellectual stimulus—but you’ll do for now.” 

TV personality Marco Ocram is the world’s only self-penned character, writing his life in real time as you read it. Marco’s celebrity mentor, Herbert Quarry, grooms him to be the Jackson Pollock of literature, teaching him to splatter words on a page without thought or revision.

Quarry’s plan backfires when imbecilic Marco begins to type his first thought-free book: it’s a murder mystery—and Herbert’s caught red-handed near the butchered body of his lover.

Now Marco must write himself into a crusade to clear his friend’s name. Typing the first words that come into his head, Marco unleashes a phantasmagorical catalogue of twists in his pursuit of justice, writing the world’s fastest-selling book to reveal the awful truth about the Herbert Quarry affair

Review

Tongue-in-cheek comes to mind. A satirical view on the work, life and times of an author. His books are his life in real time and very much a work in progress. One could say it happens as he writes it or because he writes it. He is the author of his own literary escapades and destiny, and unfortunately for everyone else, also of theirs.

At the start of each chapter Marco Marco, oh sorry Ocram, discusses writing strategy with his mentor Herbert Quarry. The same Herbert who ends up in the middle of the strategy that will determine success. The man who yields the sword is the servant who becomes the master. In fact it wouldn't be too far off to say he uses his status and power to create this convoluted, and yet highly entertaining read.

Ocram is the eccentric uncle, the mad scientist of the literary world, however he is also the wordsmith who wields his words with a veracity and precision worthy of the finest of critics.

I wasn't entirely sure where to put this at first. An anagram of sorts describes events as they happen, sometimes despite being told not to use certain tools of the trade or tropes to drive the story, and instead derives pleasure from doing exactly what is expected of him by the industry. Make no mistake it is both a story and a deconstruction of the art of telling a story. 

It's an incredibly clever concept which will possibly not get the recognition it deserves, because it is also the kind of read you have to be willing to embrace in its entirety. I liked it. Now tell me who you are. I want more.

Buy The Awful Truth about the Herbert Quarry Affair at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Tiny Fox Press pub date 15 Jun. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Courage by James Hardy


It's my turn on the BlogTour Courage by James Hardy. 

About the Author

James began writing COURAGE 40 years ago. He resurrected and rewrote the draft following a serious illness. His daughter, knowing he had the passion to write, dropped a notepad on his lap as he lay in a hospital bed and said, 'Now you have the time, write!'

About the book
Joanne Sinclair wants Leroy Martin's help to find a serial killer dubbed the Dorking Devil. The problem is, he's a criminal who spent two years in prison and she's the detective who helped put him there.

The unlikely duo team up to find the man and bring him down and, surprisingly, they make a good pair. But it isn't long before Leroy's past catches up with him, putting them both in grave danger.

Review

Leroy doesn't have to go out of his way to help anyone. The world hasn't been particularly kind or easy to him, but the truth is despite what certain people believe, he is strong enough to act on his base impulses, which is to help others when needed.

That's how he ends up in the midst of a crime being committed and the best intentions end up with the finger being pointed at him, so much for being a saviour and trying to make a difference. His encounter with a beast prowling the area for victims leads him straight into the arms of Joanne Sinclair.

Joanne and Leroy are indeed an unlikely pair, one wonders how much of their attraction is driven by guilt and respectively the desire to be acknowledged properly. Either way something deeper connects them.

It's full of tropes - some slightly unsavoury, and teeters on the edge of romanticising quite a few, even if it's is merely in the name of plot and character. Without those the gritty urban vibe of the story would be more at the forefront.

Hardy delivers urban crime at the core of which is a man who desires something as simple as depth in a relationship, peace and love. When everything else is stripped away, including mistakes and difficult roads taken, that is what remains for the majority of people.

Buy Courage at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Dark Edge Press pub date 14 Jun. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

Monday, 14 June 2021

#BlogTour The Shadow Man by Mark Brownless

 It's my turn on the BlogTour the Shadow man by Mark Brownless.

About the Author

Mark Brownless lives and works in Carmarthen, West Wales. He has been putting ideas on paper for some years now but only when the idea for The Hand of an Angel came to him in the autumn of 2015 did he know he might be able to write a book. Mark likes to write about ordinary people being placed in extraordinary circumstances, is fascinated by unexplained phenomena, and enjoys merging thriller, science fiction and horror. Follow @markbrownless on Twitter, on Facebook, on Youtube

About the book

Idyllic memories? A perfect childhood? A secret buried for thirty years... None of us could remember why we drifted apart – we were always so close at school…

That was thirty years ago, and I hadn’t thought of my school friends in all that time – it was like they’d never existed. Then the dreams started. Dreams that I knew I’d had before. Horrific dreams of fear and fire and death.

Dreams of a ghostly urban legend who seemed to hang over my home village like an evil spirit – the Shadow Man. I’d begun to remember, and I knew we had to go back. What happened to us back then? Do we really want to know? Are we ready to face the Shadow Man again?

Review

Philippa knows in her gut that the dreams she is having are connected to something deeply disturbing, something evil. Somehow instinctively she also knows it is linked to some event when she was younger.

A mutual dream experience - perhaps if everyone is going through the same processing of emotions and memories at the same time. What could an event like that be triggered by and why would an old group of friends have the same kind of nightmares at the same time? What does their friend Janey know about it?

In fact Janey drums them all back together because she is determined to figure out what happened to them when they were younger. Have they all collectively been so traumatised that they have blocked out the truth?

It's a psychological thriller with a tinge of deep set fears and how we cope with trauma and said fears. The author hammers home how the human is the unreliable variable in any equation when it comes to memories. 

We only have space for a certain number of items in our short term memory and everything else is filed in long term, however not everyone has the same filing system. Retrieval can be partial or not at all, and even attached to other memories. On top of that our perception at the time of filing is framed through individual references and experiences, which explains why two people can experience the same event in a completely different way. The question is what exactly did they experience?

Buy The Shadow Man at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎SpellBound Books pub date 13 Jun. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour One Summer Sunrise by Shari Low

 It's my turn on the BlogTour One Summer Sunrise by Shari Low.

About the Author

Shari Low is the #1 bestselling author of over 20 novels, including One Day In Winter and With Or Without You and a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. She lives near Glasgow and her first title for Boldwood was My One Month Marriage in January 2020. Sign up to Shari's newsletter


About the book

As the sun rises on a hot summer’s day, four lives are about to be changed forever... Brand new from the bestselling author of What If?, What Now? and One Day In Summer. Today, Maisie McTeer decides to track down the ex who jilted her at the altar. Today, she’ll find out that revisiting the past can also rewrite her future. 

After losing her husband, Harriet Bassett can no longer bear her lonely life. Today, a familiar face in a crowd will spark a quest to discover if there’s something and someone worth living for. 

Scott and Kelly Bassett’s daughter is leaving home. Today, Scott plans to tell Kelly that he’s ending their marriage to pursue his rock and roll dreams. However, Kelly, has a bombshell of her own. How will Scott react to the news that a new arrival is on the way to fill their empty nest? Between sunrise and sunset, there’s love, heartbreak, laughter and tears, but who will find happiness at the end of the day?

Review

Maisie finds herself in a situation that forces her to face the past and ultimately to find closure when it comes to her past. Call it kismet, when she returns to the scene of her greatest heartache. She needs to face the bad to be able to open her eyes to the good.

Harriet is someone who has faded into the background since the death of her husband. Nobody realises how lonely she is and perhaps even she doesn't realise how much she would like a taste of life again. And Scott and Kelly are the perfect example of what happens when a couple lives next to each instead of with each other. Together they all make this the perfect conga line of mistakes -linked together through a common denominator.

The story taking place in the time constraints of one day is an interesting way to go about it, I think it would make a great screen experience given the right screenplay adaptation. The stories of the characters connect with ach other to create a honeycomb version of a plot.

Low likes to deliver stories with a lot of heart and the kind of tales that people can relate to. Families with secrets, characters who are just like you, me or your loved ones. 

Buy One Summer Sunrise at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏ : ‎ Boldwood Books pub date 3 Jun. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

Saturday, 12 June 2021

#BlogTour Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

 It's my turn on the BlogTour Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau.

About the Author

Jessica Anya Blau is the author of US bestselling novel The Summer of Naked Swim Parties and three other critically acclaimed novels, most recently The Trouble With Lexie. Her novels have been recommended and featured on CNN, NPR, The Today Show and in Vanity Fair, Cosmo, O Magazine, and many other US magazines and newspapers. 

Follow @JessicaAnyaBlau on Twitter, Visit jessicaanyablau.com

About the book

Set in 1975 suburban Baltimore, Blau’s breakout novel introduces Mary Jane, a sheltered teenage girl whose world opens up when she lands a summer job as the nanny for the daughter of a local doctor. A respectable job, Mary Jane’s mother says. In a respectable house. 

The Cone house may look respectable on the outside, but inside it’s a literal and figurative mess: clutter on every surface, Impeachment: Now More Than Ever bumper stickers on the doors, cereal and takeaway for dinner. And even more troublesome (were Mary Jane’s mother to know, which she does not): the doctor is a psychiatrist who has cleared his summer for one important job—helping a famous rock star dry out. A week after Mary Jane starts, the rock star and his movie star wife—Jimmy and Sheba— move in.

Over the course of the summer, Mary Jane introduces her new household to crisply ironed clothes and a family dinner schedule and has a front-row seat to a liberal world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll (not to mention group therapy). Caught between the lifestyle she’s always known and the future she’s only just realized is possible, Mary Jane will arrive at September with a new idea about what she wants out of life, and what kind of person she’s going to be.

A nostalgic trip into the 1970’s, Mary Jane is a timeless coming of age story about finding yourself, all wrapped up with lots of humour, a dash of teenage rebellion and plenty of rock and roll. 

Review

When confronted with a completely different lifestyle Mary Jane is in a position to both directly compare her parents and her employer's parenting skills. The result is two-fold, she realises she wants something akin to what she knows, but slightly different, and just how much she is a product of her upbringing.

Taking care of a young child, who at best seems a little lost and at worst neglected, helps her to mature emotionally. Seeing the world through the eyes of people who live life without rules and with a sense of abandonment creates doubt and worry. It awakens senses, emotions and desires. It awakens the Mary Jane her parents fear.

It reminded me of the nostalgia and atmospheric read of Emma Cline's Girls, and the empowering chaos of discovery and evolution of Daisy Jones. By setting it in the mid 70s the author also captures the growing differences in society. The recognition of a society seeped in racism and white supremacy, the complete explosion of freedom of the 60s becoming a more decisive movement, and a generation starting to break out of those molds.

It's important to note, especially when it comes to the young child, that certain parenting techniques or attitudes to child rearing would set off alarm bells for social workers in our era. Life didn't evolve around the child, the child slotted into the life the parents led. Leaving them unsupervised, alone and having them present during during moments when children shouldn't be observing and taking everything on board - the norm for the 70s. 

Mary-Jane and her parents represent the old and new generations, the three on one path heading towards a crossroads in life. It also shows the clear divide between what is deemed respectable and appropriate for a girl. That exploring fashion, feelings of desire, sexuality and coming-of-age in general does not equate to a girl or woman being slutty.

Blau writes with a keen understanding of the emotional turmoil and mind-set of a teenage girl. She does so without presenting the usual tropes of the Lolita or demonising the parents. It's a compelling read with a foot in one timeline and the rest of the body surging through to another. Excellent read.

Buy Mary Jane at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published by Custom House, an imprint of HarperCollins pub date 27th May - Hardback, £20* - also available in ebook and digital audio (with original song). Buy at Amazon com. At Waterstones.

#BlogTour The Cookbook of Common Prayer by Francesca Haig

It's my turn on the BlogTour The Cookbook of Common Prayer by Francesca Haig.

About the Author

Francesca Haig grew up in Tasmania and is an academic and writer, whose poetry and YA/crossover fantasy have been widely published. She lives in London with her husband and son. This is her first novel for adults. Follow @FrancescaHaig on Twitter, Visit francescahaig.com

About the book

A heart-rending tale of a family in turmoil after the death of a child is kept secret from one of his siblings.

When Gill and Gabe's eldest son drowns overseas, they decide they must hide the truth from their desperately unwell teenaged daughter. But as Gill begins to send letters from her dead son to his sister, the increasingly elaborate lie threatens to prove more dangerous than the truth.

Told through alternating perspectives, and moving between Tasmania and London, this is a novel about family, food, grief and hope.

For readers of Celeste Ng, Delia Owens, and Anne Tyler, this dramatic, poetic novel explores the many ways that a family can break down - and the unexpected ways that it can be put back together.

Review

I will be counting this as one of my top reads for 2021. It's an evocative story about a family dealing with the death of their loved one by concealing his death from one of his siblings in an attempt to save another of their children.

With this first venture out of the YA sub-genre, the author shows incredible depth and maturity in her storytelling and character development. The element of grief is viewed from the perspective of each character, all of whom react differently to the tragedy that threatens to make their world implode. 

There is no statistically proven adhering to stages of grief in order to cope, because the truth is grief doesn't read the same books or listen to the same experts we do. It has it's own agenda and can be very different for each person, especially when it comes the position in the family hierarchy or dynamics - and this very important nuance is exactly what Haig captures.

As if the above wasn't enough to capture the attention of the reader and hold it with an equal measure of sympathy and empathy, indeed there were moments that tugged at the heart and opened the doors for silent weeping. It's beautiful. I loved it. It's the kind of book I would (and will) buy for others and just say - read this.

Buy The Cookbook of Common Prayer at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published by Allen and Unwin - Hardback & eBook | 3 June 2021 | £14.99. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Waterstones.

Thursday, 10 June 2021

#BlogTour Embers by Josephine Greenland

 It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Embers by Josephine Greenland.

About the Author

Josephine Greenland is a Swedish–English writer from Eskilstuna, Sweden. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Birmingham and a BA in English from the University of Exeter. She is the winner of the 2019 Bumble Bee Flash Fiction Competition by Pulp Literature, the 2017 Fantastic Female Fables Competition by Fantastic Books Publishing, and also the runner-up in the 2018 Summer Solstice Competition by Wild Words. 

Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Dream Catcher, Literary Yard, Soft Cartel Mag, Plum Tree Tavern, Porridge Magazine, Litro and AHF Magazine. She has also been highly commended in competitions by TSS Publishing and Cinnamon Press. In 2017, she was awarded the Young Writer’s Bursary by Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival.

In August 2019, Josephine began a PGDE course at the University of Edinburgh to become a Secondary English teacher. When not writing or teaching, she enjoys playing the violin, running and hiking. Embers is her first novel and was written during her MA course. It is based on her own travels in northern Sweden two years ago with her brother. 

Follow @greenland_jm on Twitter, Visit linktr.ee/josephinegreenland

About the book

Two siblings, one crime. One long-buried secret.17-year-old Ellen never wanted a holiday. What is there to do in a mining town in the northernmost corner of the country, with no one but her brother Simon – a boy with Asperger’s and obsessed with detective stories – for company?

Nothing, until they stumble upon a horrifying crime scene that brings them into a generations-long conflict between the townspeople and the native Sami.

When the police dismiss Simon’s findings, he decides to track down the perpetrator himself. Ellen reluctantly helps, drawn in by a link between the crime and the siblings’ own past. What started off as a tedious holiday soon escalates into a dangerous journey through hatred, lies and self-discovery that makes Ellen question not only the relationship to her parents, but also her own identity

Review

Ellen is reluctant to take a holiday and even more reluctant to take her brother Simon with her. The trip becomes a journey into the past and a forest of lies. It also becomes a journey to solve a grotesque crime, a crime which is connected to their own heritage - they just don't know it yet. The attempts to cover up a crime and pervert the course of justice are a something Simon can't and won't accept.

I find it interesting how both the existence and treatment of the Sámi people remain something akin to a dirty secret. The Scandinavian societies are generally perceived as forward thinking and modern in certain areas, and also often held up as examples for the rest of Europe.

The truth is that they have their fair share of problems that are kept nice and quiet, including the history of the mistreatment of their indigenous people. Unfortunately the systemic racism, irrational hatred and attempt to ignore their historical importance is still prevalent. Instead of gaining insight into the past, heritage and the mystical link they have with their surroundings - Scandinavians (not all) choose to treat the Sámi people with contempt. 

I truly hope Greenland revisits this riveting sleuthing duo and writes another book featuring the siblings. The combination of the reluctant older sister, the younger brother with a lack of impulse control and their crime solving seen through the lens of a someone with Asperger's, really makes for a great read.

Buy Embers at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Unbound Digital pub date 18 Mar. 2021. Buy at Amazon com