Tuesday, 12 September 2023

#Blogtour The Raging Storm by Ann Cleeves

 It's a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour The Raging Storm by Ann Cleeves.

About the Author

Ann Cleeves is the author of more than thirty-five critically acclaimed novels, and in 2017 was awarded the highest accolade in crime writing, the CWA Diamond Dagger. She is the creator of popular detectives Vera Stanhope, Jimmy Perez and Matthew Venn, who can be found on television in ITV’s Vera, BBC One’s Shetland and ITV's The Long Call respectively. The TV series and the books they are based on have become international sensations, capturing the minds of millions worldwide. 

Ann worked as a probation officer, bird observatory cook and auxiliary coastguard before she started writing. She is a member of ‘Murder Squad’, working with other British northern writers to promote crime fiction. Ann also spends her time advocating for reading to improve health and wellbeing and supporting access to books. In 2021 her Reading for Wellbeing project launched with local authorities across the North East, and in 2022 she was awarded an OBE for her services to reading and libraries. She lives in Northumberland where the Vera books are set. Follow @AnnCleeves on Twitter.

About the book

Detective Matthew Venn returns in The Raging Storm, the next captivating novel in the Two Rivers series from Ann Cleeves, the number one bestselling author and creator of Vera and Shetland.

When Jem Rosco – sailor, adventurer and local legend – blows into town in the middle of an autumn gale, the residents of Greystone, Devon, are delighted to have a celebrity in their midst. The residents think nothing of it when Rosco disappears again; that’s the sort of man he is.

Until the lifeboat is launched to a hoax call-out during a raging storm and his body is found in a dinghy, anchored off Scully Cove, a place with legends of its own.

This is an uncomfortable case for DI Matthew Venn. He came to the remote village as a child, its community populated by the Barum Brethren that he parted ways with, so when superstition and rumour mix and another body is found in the cove, Matthew soon finds his judgement clouded.

As the stormy winds howl and the village is cut off, Venn and his team start their investigation, little realizing their own lives might be in danger. . . 

Review

Jem Rosco has returned home - a place where he can find peace from the world and await a certain person. Nobody knows who is he waiting for, in fact it's become a bit of a mystery to the people in the community. The kind of mystery that keeps them invested, keeps them waiting and watching. Who is Jem waiting for and why? Only a few weeks later he is dead and he leaves more questions behind, especially about who might have wanted to kill him.

Matthew Venn and his team are called in to investigate, and it soon becomes clear that a community that appears quite innocent on the surface, does in fact have plenty to hide. Venn knows that personally, his own experiences have left suspicions and scars. His memories shed a completely different light on the matter.

There is a hint of Christie floating on the waves, the way the sense of evil lurks in the background and the plot itself plays out. I can't get too specific, because it would give the game away. Needless to say there is more to this story and each and every person than meets the eye.

I'd love to see this on the screen with a strong ensemble cast fighting to outshine the atmospheric surroundings, as trademark Cleeves leaves her stamp with another memorable and riveting read.

Buy The Raging Storm at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Pan Macmillan; pub date 31st August 2023, priced £20.00 H/B. Buy at Amazon com.

Monday, 11 September 2023

#Blogtour The Wolf Hunt by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen

 

It' s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour The Wolf Hunt by Ayelet Gundar- Goshen, translated by Sondra Silverstone.

About the Author

Ayelet Gundar-Goshen was born in Israel in 1982 and holds an MA in Clinical Psychology from Tel Aviv University. Her film scripts have won prizes at international festivals, including the Berlin Today Award and the New York City Short Film Festival Award. Her debut novel, One Night, Markovitch, won the Sapir Prize in 2013 for best debut and is being translated into five languages.

The Wolf Hunt by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen was translated by Sondra Silverston.

About the book

Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, the award-winning author of Waking Lions and Liar, returns with a powerfully compelling novel about a mother who begins to suspect her teenage son of committing a terrible crime

Lilach seems to have it all: a beautiful home in the heart of Silicon Valley, a community of other Israeli immigrants, a happy marriage and a close relationship with her teenage son, Adam. But when aa local synagogue is brutally attacked, her shy, reclusive son is compelled to join a self-defence class taught by a former Israeli Special Forces officer. Then a Black teenager dies at a house party, and rumours begin to circulate that Adam and his new friends might have been involved.

As scrutiny begins to invade Lilach's peaceful home, and her family's stability is threatened, will are her own fears be the greatest danger of all?

Review

Excellent read, and it's layered in such a way that no matter which corner you turn there will always be a problem, societal expectation or nuanced interaction waiting to be unpicked. 

Adam is an introvert who keeps to himself, something his parents are keen to mend, hence forcing him to attend a party for his fellow students. Little do they all know that a death at said party will be the beginning of an invasive search for answers about the death of a young man, and whether Adam has anything to do with it.

I admired the way the author went about creating the scenario between Adam and Jamal. Both young boys who carry the weight of generational trauma on their shoulders, which is so deeply entrenched it's difficult to see them in opposite roles in this case. I think that was done intentionally to draw attention to the fact that white washed world pits the minorities, the oppressed and the targeted against each other. In fact the underlying reminder between the two would be antisemitism and propaganda that grows like a toxic fungi between the two groups they come from.

Then there is the question of radicalisation and the realisation that it isn't just a problem in certain cultures or religions - it is a tactic and method of manipulation that is used to recruit the young, the vulnerable and the lost, regardless of race, culture and faith.

The question of the past worn as an identity that automatically weaves itself into an invisible shield against the hatred, the hunt and the centuries old scapegoating of certain cultures and people of specific faith. In the end it always appears to be an us and them situation, ergo a self-fulfilling prophecy with a very real journey.

It's a fantastic piece of literary fiction, which simultaneously manages to be a political, societal and personal exploration of identity, self and just how well we know those around us. I really enjoyed the read, perhaps more so because the author didn't feel the need to give us all the answers. Why? Because deep down we already know the answers, right?

Buy The Wolf Hunt at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Pushkin Press; pub date 31 Aug. 2023. Buy at Amazon com. Buy via Pushkin Press.

Thursday, 7 September 2023

#Blogtour Counting Lost Stars by Kim Van Alkemade

It's a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour Counting Lost Stars by Kim van Alkemade.

About the Author

Kim van Alkemade is the New York Times bestselling author of the historical novels Orphan #8 and Bachelor Girl. Born in Manhattan, she grew up in New Jersey and went to college in Wisconsin, where she earned a Ph.D. in English. For many years, she was a professor at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. Now a full-time writer, she resides in Saratoga Springs, New York, with her partner, their two rescue dogs, and three feisty backyard chickens.

About the book

New York Times bestselling author of Orphan #8, Kim van Alkemade returns with a gripping and poignant historical saga in which an unmarried college student who’s given up her baby for adoption helps a Dutch Holocaust survivor search for his lost mother. 

1960, New York City: College student Rita Klein is a pioneering woman in the new field of computer programming—until she unexpectedly becomes pregnant. At the Hudson Home for Unwed Mothers, social workers pressure her into surrendering her baby for adoption. Rita is struggling to get on with her life when she meets Jacob Nassy, a charming yet troubled man from the Netherlands who is traumatized by his childhood experience of being separated from his mother during the Holocaust. When Rita learns that Hitler’s Final Solution was organized using Hollerith punch-card computers, she sets out to find the answers that will help Jacob heal. 

1941, The Hague: Cornelia Vogel is working as a punch-card operator at the Ministry of Information when a census of Holland’s population is ordered by the Germans. After the Ministry acquires a Hollerith computer made in America, Cornelia is tasked with translating its instructions from English into Dutch. She seeks help from her fascinating Jewish neighbour, Leah Blom, an unconventional young woman whose mother was born in New York. When Cornelia learns the census is being used to persecute Holland’s Jews, she risks everything to help Leah escape.

After Rita uncovers a connection between Cornelia Vogel and Jacob’s mother, long-buried secrets come to light. Will shocking revelations tear them apart, or will learning the truth about the past enable Rita and Jacob to face the future together?

Review

The story switches between Rita and her numbness at the rejection she is experiencing and the loss, after being forced to give birth and then hand the baby over to strangers. In another timeline a few decades earlier we meet Cornelia, who is drawn into the machination of data collection and its deadly impact on the Jewish population. How do the two lives become connected when both women live in different times and countries, what do they have in common?

One question rears its head quite often, when discussing the Holocaust. People ask why is this particular atrocity worse than other genocides ect. Not that there should be any comparisons drawn when it comes to the murder of innocent people - the question is rather why the Holocaust stands out as a constant reminder of what humans are capable of doing to their fellow humans. My answer is always: the level of planning, the profit margin in a constant comparison to the end goal, the machinery of vast collaboration and the minutiae of the execution of said plans.

The author captures exactly that element of the Holocaust, which I find one of the most inhumane facts of its entirety. The documentation, the structure and evidence of their crimes that they didn't manage to destroy, is quite frankly horrifying. The Hollerith machines were used to collect and process data, specifically in WW2 to collect Census data, which was used to identify and find their victims. Then further used to trace, track in camps - evidenced in certain camps, assumed in others.

I enjoyed the way the author brought characters with the generational trauma of the Holocaust into the story and combined it with characters living with the trauma of forced birth, which is a topic that has once again become a reality for many women in the 21st century. The grandchildren of the millions of children taken from unmarried girls and women, before contraception and abortion were legal legislative options, are now returning to the dark ages of control over women.

It's an excellent read and also an informative one from an historical perspective. The story never loses sight of the tragedy, regardless of whether it is on a personal level or on a global level. The two levels inevitably become the tie that binds.

Buy Counting Lost Stars at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏:  WmMorrowPB; pub date 31 Aug. 2023. Buy at Amazon com.

Saturday, 2 September 2023

#Blogtour Her Convenient Vow To The Billionaire by Jane Holland

It's my turn on the Blogtour Her Convenient Vow To The Billionaire by Jane Holland

About the Author    (Author image credit: Anna Rybacka)

Jane Holland grew up in a house of writers. Her mother was bestselling Mills & Boon author Charlotte Lamb, her sister also penned romances, and her father was a journalist and biographer. Small wonder she became a writer herself! Starting off in poetry, historical fiction and thrillers, she's now proud to be following in her mother's footsteps writing romance for Harlequin. A mum of five, she loves tramping the Cornish coast, and often writes with a cat on her lap. Follow @janeholland1 on Twitter

About the book

From reunion to wearing his ring! - When Rafael offers to hand over the orphanage if Sabrina becomes his convenient bride, she scoffs! She’s still healing from the heartbreak of their last passionate encounter, and marrying him will test her every limit. But as long-buried secrets are unveiled Sabrina has no choice but to trust him...

Review

Sabrina and Rafael are meant to be or at least meant to connect in a way that will leave a lasting mark on the both of them. It also made Sabrina create a boundary she is unwilling to navigate again, but her emotions and her past have become a bargaining chip for Rafael. The question is whether it is in her best interest to open the door just a little bit for him...again?

If there is such a thing as a legacy romance author, then this author would fill the criteria and they do it with the right amount of passion and love for the genre and the readers. In fact there is an old Boons flavour to the characters and story. The over-exaggerated and heightened sense of emotions in combination with a storyline that can take elements from factual truth, but never quite forgets that at the core there is a reader to pull in and entertain, to devastate or make them happy for a while.

The push-pull-push chaotic dance of attraction, desire and the inner driver that screams for love and comfort combined with that very basic need for recognition - it creates a constant battle between the two main characters. The past and hidden trauma flows into the strong attraction that connected them in the first place and somewhere along the line it becomes difficult to see beyond the desire that pulses steadily and grows with intensity as the the story evolves.

Buy Her Convenient Vow to The Billionaire at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Mills & Boon Modern pub date 31 Aug. 2023. Buy at Amazon com.

Click the link to Enter the Giveaway below to Win a paperback copy of Her Convenient Vow To The Billionaire (US or UK only) 

rafflecopter.com

*Terms and Conditions –UK & US entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Friday, 1 September 2023

#Blogtour The Fighter of Auschwitz by Erik Brouwer

It's a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour The Fighter of Auschwitz by Erik Brouwer.

About the Author

Erik Brouwer is a Dutch sports journalist and the author of eight historical non-fiction titles on topics as diverse as Argentine football and the actress Jetta Goudal. Spartacus, his book about Jewish Olympic athletes at the start of the Second World War, won the Nico Scheepmaker award for sports books in 2009.

About the book

In 1943, the Dutch champion boxer, Leen Sanders, was sent to Auschwitz. His wife and children were put to death while he was sent 'to the left' with the others who were fit enough for labour. Recognised by an SS officer, he was earmarked for a 'privileged' post in the kitchens in exchange for weekly boxing matches for the entertainment of the Nazi guards. From there, he enacted his resistance to their limitless cruelty.

With great risk and danger to his own life, Leen stole, concealed and smuggled food and clothing from SS nursing units for years to alleviate the unbearable suffering of the prisoners in need. He also regularly supplied extra food to the Dutch women in Dr. Mengele's experiment, Block 10. To his fellow Jews in the camp, he acted as a rescuer, leader and role model, defending them even on their bitter death march to Dachau towards the end of the war.

A story of astonishing resilience and compassion, The Fighter of Auschwitz is a testament to the endurance of humanity in the face of extraordinary evil.


Review

This is the story of Leen Sanders - the husband, the father, the boxer, the survivor and the fighter. The story of pain, loss and then drawing incredible strength to endure hell and with small acts of bravery, kindness and selflessness to help himself and others survive.

One of the saddest moments is the end of Leen's story. The fighter fought till the end for what was rightfully his - in fact the post-war ongoing damage and crimes committed upon the victims and survivors is devastating on another level. It wasn't enough to try and extinguish, in the aftermath there was no real justice and the reception the survivors received was one of disdain. No guilt, no apologies, just more injustice.

That Leen won his battle went unnoticed by him in the end, but perhaps he found some release from his private madness and rightful rage living in his Alzheimer induced pre-war reality. One can only hope he was able to forget the horror and atrocities for some moments, whilst the world should remember him for his endurance, strength and determination to survive and above all help others to do so too.

The author writes in what I would call I more factual journalistic style, which might not appeal to readers who prefer a more entertaining style. I found that it created a more realistic experience of the story - it's easy to forget we are talking about real people who experienced events we can't even begin to comprehend - a direct parallel drawn between the writing voice, the facts and the experiences. The author has made sure Leen will be remembered, that his footprint in history will never fade.

Buy The Fighter of Auschwitz by Erik Brouwer at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Cassell; pub date August 17th 2023 | £8.99 | Paperback. Buy at Amazon com.

Thursday, 31 August 2023

#BloggerDay One Moment by Becky Hunter

Life or death. Love or loss. It can all happen in One Moment.

About the Author

Becky Hunter worked for many years in London in the publishing industry, before taking a career break in Mozambique, where she volunteered with horses and decided to give writing a go. She now works as a freelance book publicist. One Moment is her debut novel. Follow @Bookish_Becky on X (formerly known as the artist called Twitter).

About the book

One moment in time can change everything... The day Scarlett dies should have been one of the most important of her life. It doesn't feel fair that she'll never have the chance to fulfil her dreams - all because she stopped to help a stranger. And now, she's still... here - wherever here is - watching the ripple effect of her death on those she loved the most.

Evie cannot contemplate her life without Scarlett, and she certainly cannot forgive Nate, the man she blames for her best friend's death. But Nate keeps popping up when she least expects him to, catapulting Evie's life in directions she'd never let herself imagine possible.

If you could go back, knowing everything that happens after, everything that happens because of one choice you made, would you change the course of history or would you do it all again?

Review

I was pleasantly surprised by this book - it wasn't at all what I was expecting. A serious note on death, sisterhood and friendship. The realisation that our lives can change in the blink of an eye. One choice, one path taken - just one moment in time. In this case Evie makes a choice that leads to her death, and peculiarly she or her soul is left to see the aftermath of her tragic end.

See the reaction of people to her death, which is a bit of an eye-opener at times. In a way she is narrating her own death throughout the book. An unexpected event that opens up Evie, and her way of perceiving the world around her,  and gives her a new perspective. On the life she no longer gets to life, to finish with her goals achieved and all her dreams fulfilled. 

It's emotional and simultaneously beautiful - it captures the relationship between the two of them perfectly. Evie and Scarlett, best friends and roommates, but even best friends fight. Evie wonders whether she wants to be able to change the status quo if it changes things for the worse for her friend.    

It's a wonderful read about embracing what we are unable to control, and realising that sometimes some things are meant to be and should be left to evolve or not.  I look forward to reading more by this author in the future. She has a knack for spinning the kind of yarn readers really want to experience.

Buy One Moment at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : ‎Corvus pub date 31 August 2023. Buy at Amazon com.

Sunday, 27 August 2023

#Blogtour Murder in the Bookshop by Anita Davison

It's a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour Murder in the Bookshop by Anita Davison.

About the Author

Anita Davison is the author of the successful Flora Maguire historical mystery series. Previously published by Aria, she is writing a new cosy mystery series for Boldwood, the first title of which, Murder in the Bookshop, will be published in August 2023. Follow @anitasdavison on Twitter, @Anitadavison3740 on Instagram.

About the book

Someone’s been read their last rites…

1915, London: Working in the dusty bookshop that her Aunt Violet mysteriously inherited, Hannah Merrill is accustomed to finding twists in every tale. But discovering her beloved best friend Lily-Anne – with a paperknife through her heart – in the middle of the bookshop, is not a plotline she saw coming.

The case is anything but textbook. With the discovery of a coded German message, and Hannah’s instinct that Lily-Anne’s husband is keeping secrets, she determines to get to the bottom of it.

She can’t do it alone though. To crack this case, Hannah will need the enlist the help of her outrageous, opinionated, only-occasionally-objectionable Aunt Violet.

They think they’re making progress until one of their chief suspects is found dead. And Hannah realises that she is herself now in the murderer’s sights. Will the final chapter be the ending of a killer… or just a killer ending?

A totally addictive, WW1-set cozy mystery, perfect for fans of Verity Bright, T.E. Kinsey, and Agatha Christie.


Review

Running a bookshop in the middle of London, as the bombing of the city by the Germans begins in earnest, isn't a simple task. It's also slightly more difficult to run a business when someone decides to commit a murder in said bookshop. Everyone starts to look like a suspect even Hannah and her Aunt Violet.

It reminded me of Christie's Tommy and Tuppence, the Miss Scarlet series with the slightly rebellious Aunt Violet giving a bit of Miss Fisher vibes. Set in 1915 with Britain finally coming to the realisation that there is no end in sight when it comes to the war, in fact the real devastation is only just beginning.

There are plenty of personal tragedies and perhaps what is the most tragic is the way the remaining men, regardless of age, are treated with such disdain for not volunteering. This is before they have no choice and the thoughtless cruelty of their own friends, neighbours and fellow countrymen and women poisons their country. 

I enjoyed the way the author combines historical fact with the comfortable feel of characters inviting you in for a look into their lives and keeps the story on a never quite even keel by introducing death, betrayal and suspicion into the mix.

Buy Murder in the Bookshop at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: Boldwood Books; pub date 22 Aug. 2023. Buy at Amazon com. Buy here.

Wednesday, 23 August 2023

#Blogtour Deach Comes to Santa Fe by Amanda Allen

It's my turn on the Blogtour Death Comes to Santa Fe by Amanda Allen.

About the Author

Amanda wrote her first romance at the age of sixteen--a vast historical epic starring all her friends as the characters, written secretly during algebra class (and her parents wondered why math was not her strongest subject...)

She's never since used algebra, but her books have been nominated for many awards, including the RITA Award, the Romantic Times BOOKReviews Reviewers' Choice Award, the Booksellers Best, the National Readers Choice Award, and the Holt Medallion.  She lives in Santa Fe with two rescue dogs, a wonderful husband, and a very and far too many books and royal memorabilia collections. 

When not writing or reading, she loves taking dance classes, collecting cheesy travel souvenirs, and watching the Food Network--even though she doesn't cook. Follow @amandamccabeauthor on Tiktok, @amandamccabeauthor on Instagram, Visit ammandamccabe


About the book 

Former New York darling turned amateur sleuth Madeline Vaughn-Alwin is once again thrown into a colourful yet deadly web of secrets, lies and soirees to die for!

It's the week of Fiesta in Santa Fe and Maddie is looking forward to enjoying the celebrations. But as 'Old Man Gloom' Zozobra goes up in flames, so too do Maddie's hopes for a carefree life . . . Human remains are found in the dying embers of Zozobra, and then Maddie and her dashing beau Dr David Cole find a body washed up in the arroyo at the edge of town.

Soon identified as Ricardo Montoya, a wealthy businessman and head of one of the most affluent families in Santa Fe . . . the plot starts to thicken. While his beautiful wife Catalina and her complicated children seem less than heartbroken at his untimely demise, and with many disgruntled locals crawling out of the woodwork, Maddie is surrounded by suspects.

With the celebrations of Fiesta continuing around them, Maddie and her 'Detection Posse' get busy infiltrating the best parties and hobnobbing with old and new faces - but can they bring the murderer to justice before they strike again?


Review

This can be read as a standalone book, but I would recommend reading the previous books in the series. It gives a better sense of the character development, as Maddie grows with each encounter after a tragic loss defines who she is and how she wants to engage with life. Unfortunately for her, but all the more interesting for us, death and mystery seems to follow her around.

This mystery crime series is set in the 1920s in Santa Fe - an area that brings a vast amount of rich history, culture, traditions and folklore. It's seen through a certain lens, but I'd be mindful of the fact this is a cosy mystery series and much like other characters and duos in specific eras and settings, it depends on how the individual reader experiences the read.

The author has also captured the flair and essence of a hive of artists and their community, where creativity becomes a visible thing as the artists become a bounce off each other experience for each other. In the case of the effigy it is also a cathartic experience, but also one that sets the footprints of a crime and the solution in motion.

It's a cosy mystery with a sparky undercurrent - the vibe is one of a journey, following Maddie as she not only masters the world of crime also as she grows as a person, through the pain and trauma she also finds some happiness.

Buy Death Comes to Santa Fe at Amazon Uk or go Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Severn House - pub date 1 Aug. 2023. Buy at Amazon com.

Monday, 7 August 2023

#Blogtour The Misper by Kate London

It's my turn on the Blogtour The Misper by Kate London.

About the Author

Kate London graduated from Cambridge University and worked in theatre until 2006 when she joined the Metropolitan Police Service. She finished her career working as part of a Major Investigation Team on the Metropolitan Police Service's Homicide Command. She has since written four novels in The Tower series, which is now a major ITV drama, starring Gemma Whelan. She is on Twitter @K8London

About the book

There's more than one way to go missing... When Ryan Kennedy is imprisoned after killing a police officer, he knows what he has to do. Keep his mouth shut about who he was working for, keep his head down, and rely on his youth to keep his sentence short. When he gets out, he'll be looked after.

Following the death in the line of duty of a fellow detective, DI Sarah Collins has left the capital for a quieter life in the countryside. But when a missing teenager turns up on her patch, she finds herself drawn into a much bigger investigation - one that leads her right back to London, back to the Met, and back to Ryan Kennedy, the kid who killed a cop.

This powerful novel from a former Met detective explores the devastation that organized drug-running gangs can wreak on young lives. It asks who deserves to be saved - and whether saving them is even possible...


Review

At first the story is a little bit like being in a glass funhouse and the reader has difficulty finding the right path. It's a bit choppy, but intentionally so, and what's really interesting is the way the main plot travels full circle and brings us back to where we think everything started.

The story begins with Ryan who kills and is convinced to stay quiet about certain details - a bit of prison time is worth it in exchange for being safe, right? His story leads us in a convoluted way to the disappearance of another young person, but what could the two things have to do with each other?

I like the fact the author has chosen a criminal element and scheme that is targeting the most vulnerable and youngest in our society. Easy pickings when it comes to influencing children and teens, reeling them in with things they might want and then moving the friendly relationship into a coercive one.

When you take the vulnerability of the victims into consideration, it's harder to define the lines between perpetrator and victim when they themselves commit a crime. It's a sophisticated scheme that keeps the big fish safe while the little fish in the pond do the crime and punishment. A never-ending wheel of criminal productivity churns consistently with a constant supply of young people.

It's an intriguing dive into modern organised crime, county lines is a crime everyone should be aware of, and this read gives a great glimpse at how complex it really is.

Buy The Misper at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Corvus; pub date 3 Aug. 2023. Hardback · £14.99, e-book also available. Buy at Amazon com.

Friday, 4 August 2023

#Blogtour The Polite Act of Drowning by Charleen Hurtubise

It's an absolute pleasure to take part in the Blogtour The Polite Act of Drowning by Charleen Hurtubise.

About the Author

Charleen Hurtubise has lived in Dublin, Ireland for over 25 years, having moved from Michigan, USA. She is a teacher and artist as well as a writer, and her short fiction, essays and poetry have appeared in various publications. She holds an MFA Creative Writing from University College Dublin (UCD) where she has also facilitated creative writing modules. Follow @CharliSolo on Twitter, Visit charleenhurtubise.com

About the book

Michigan, 1985. The drowning of a teenage girl causes ripples in the small town of Kettle Lake, though for most the waters settle quickly. For sixteen-year-old Joanne Kennedy, however, the tragedy dredges up untold secrets and causes her mother to drift farther from reality and her family.

When troubled newcomer Lucinda arrives in town, she offers Joanne a chance of real friendship, and together the teenagers push against the boundaries of family, self-image, and their sexuality during the tension of a long, stifling summer. But the undercurrents of past harms continuously threaten to drag Joanne and those around her under...


Review

Joanne, a young woman on the cusp of adulthood and in the midst of discovery of self. Her coming-of-age journey isn't just identifying her sexuality, to whom she may or may not be attracted - it's also about redefining the nature of all her relationships. 

When sibling rivalry takes on a secondary role as the loyalty towards her parents is questioned, as generational family disputes and trauma threaten to sever loosely threaded ties. The way Joanne moves from child to more mature thinking and engagement becomes more evident as the story evolves, whether that is via the painful teenage moments of humiliation or those moments of clarity when the adults in her life are seen as more than the position they retain in the family dynamic.

Simple mistruths and facts are re-evaluated as buried secrets give better insight into the people she calls parents. Mother is suddenly seen as traumatised child, the guilt-laden sister, the scarred young woman and then the fragile adult who is barely holding on to life. Father is seen as the young man torn between warring families, and the man who is helpless when it comes to comprehending his wife and her struggles.

It's a siren's song of sisterhood in the form of a mother and daughter, sister and sister, girl and female friendship, and it even reflects the more damaging aspects of women's relationships with each other. Nothing is quite so sharp as the knife wielded by the person who should be able to understand you the most.

I absolutely loved it. It's an intricately woven web of emotional despair and yet it simultaneously echoes how small a drop of water we are in the ocean, and how often it's also just that tiny drop that weighs us down and pulls us under.

In the right hands with enough vision this has the potential to be award-winning screen material. It's a heart-wrenching coming-of-age story that takes place in the midst of family dysfunction and generational trauma. Hopefully this will be recognised for the gem it is.

Buy A Polite Act of Drowning at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published by Eriu, pub date 6th April 2023 - Hardback, eBook and Audio, £14.99. Buy at Amazon com

Tuesday, 1 August 2023

#BlogTour Dig Two Graves by Heather Peck

It's my turn on the BlogTour Dig Two Graves by Heather Peck.

About the author

Award-winning author Heather Peck has had a varied life. As featured in the ‘Norfolk’ magazine and the Eastern Daily Press, “Norfolk farm disaster expert turns to crime writing” she has been both farmer and agricultural policy adviser. 

She bred sheep and alpacas, reared calves, broke ploughs, represented the UK in international negotiations, specialised in emergency response from Chernobyl to bird flu, managed controls over pesticides and GM crops, saw legislation through Parliament and got paid to eat Kit Kats while on secondment to Rowntree. She has also chaired an NHS Trust, worked on animal welfare, sailed a boat on the Broads, volunteered in Citizens Advice and the Witness Service and vaccinated humans against Covid. 

Two golden threads have run through everything; her fascination with words and her Gran’s wise advice: ‘You can do anything if you try hard enough’. Follow @HeatherLydia1 on Twitter

About the book
Greg stumbles upon the gruesome murder of a police informant and realizes his colleague has gone missing, presumed kidnapped. 

As he seeks Sarah in a desperate race against time, he uncovers a sinister County Lines operation, entangled with money laundering and a labyrinthine network of organised crime. The pursuit is intensifying when the man at the centre of the web directs his malevolence towards Greg, targeting not only his home and his cat, but also his beloved partner, Chris.


Review

Time is of the essence when a fellow police officer is a caught up in a vicious murder and taken hostage, the problem is the culprit doesn't know who they are and sees them as an opportunity. The clock is ticking to get Sarah back before it's too late.

With a clever reference to the appalling behaviour of the Met police, the author also includes the kind of crossing of boundaries that put the police in the camp of the criminals. When misogyny rules and the systemic abuse and harassment of women is no different than that of the street criminal, deviant or abuser, then the police loses all authority and respect.

Instead of a police force people can trust, colleagues have to worry about the people they work with and deal with the same level of abuse and harassment at work and in their lives. Trust can't be created when men always treat women like potential prey. With that in mind there is a scene - a fleeting moment really - where Greg wanders on the border of this problem. His instinctive reaction to Sarah is torn between victim and victim blaming. It's an interesting point to make. Subtle and very poignant.

It's a fast-paced crime read that doesn't stop, even at the end.

Buy Dig Two Graves at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Ormesby Publishing; pub date 12 July 2023. Buy at Amazon com.

Thursday, 27 July 2023

#Blogtour Zero Days by Ruth Ware

It's a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour Zero Days by Ruth Ware.

About the Author

Ruth Ware is an international number one bestseller. Her thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game, The Death of Mrs Westaway, The Turn of the Key and One by One have appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including the Sunday Times and New York Times. Her books have been optioned for both film and TV, and she is published in more than 40 languages. Ruth lives near Brighton with her family. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @ruthwarewriter or at ruthware.com.

About the book

International bestseller Ruth Ware returns with this adrenaline-fueled thriller about a woman in a race against time to clear her name and find her husband’s killer.

Hired by companies to break into buildings and hack security systems, Jack and her husband Gabe are the best penetration specialists in the business. But after a routine assignment goes horribly wrong, Jack arrives home to find her husband dead. To add to her horror, the police are closing in on their only suspect – her.

On the run and out of options, Jack must decide who she can trust as she circles closer to the truth in this unputdownable and heart-pounding mystery from 'one of the best thriller writers around today' Ruth Ware. 


Review

Whilst the story starts with a Mission Impossible kind of vibe, it soon turns into a fight for survival after Jack finds her life ripped apart by a vicious murder. A murder the police is convinced she committed or rather they appear to be fitting all the facts around the scenario they find the most plausible.

The police become the enemy instead of the people invested in finding the truth and Jack struggles with the idea that her innocence isn't as clear to everyone else, as it is to her. Eventually she realises she has to pull up her socks and fight to prove she isn't a killer, and find out who killed the man she loved.

I'm intrigued by the way this author always comes at their stories from a different angle - a variation in the crime. Sometimes locked room mystery, psychological thriller, dark domestic thriller and tech thriller. Never boxed into a niche and always willing to explore the boundaries of the genre. 

This is a combination of domestic and tech thriller. It has the emotional drive of the first and the technological know-how of the latter. The story is a two-tier experience with the same goal in both instances - the destruction of an allegedly grieving widow. 

It's a fast-paced crime read, a multi-layered experience when it comes to crime, guilt and the question of accountability.

Buy Zero Days at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Simon and Schuster; pub date 6 July 2023 | Hardback | £16.99. Buy at Amazon com.

Wednesday, 26 July 2023

#Blogtour Eternals by Lisa Scottoline

It's my turn on the Blogtour Eternal by Lisa Scottoline.

About the Author

Lisa Scottoline is a #1 bestselling and Edgar Award-winning author of 33 novels. Lisa's books are book-club favorites, and she and her daughter Francesca Serritella have hosted an annual Big Book Club Party for over a thousand readers at her Pennsylvania farm, for the past twelve years. Lisa has been President of Mystery Writers of America and she reviews fiction and non-fiction for the New York Times, Washington Post, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. 

She also writes a weekly column with her daughter for The Philadelphia Inquirer entitled Chick Wit, a witty take on life from a woman's perspective, which have been collected in a bestselling series of humorous memoirs. Lisa graduated magna cum laude in three years from the University of Pennsylvania, with a B.A. degree in English, and cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she taught Justice & Fiction. She has over 30 million copies of her books in print and is published in over 35 countries. She lives with an array of disobedient pets, and wouldn't have it any other way. Follow @LisaScottoline on Twitter

About the book

What war destroys, only love can heal. - Elisabetta, Marco, and Sandro grow up as the best of friends despite their differences. Elisabetta is a feisty beauty who dreams of becoming a novelist; Marco the brash and athletic son in a family of professional cyclists; and Sandro a Jewish mathematics prodigy, kind-hearted and thoughtful, the son of a lawyer and a doctor. Their friendship blossoms to love, with both Sandro and Marco hoping to win Elisabetta's heart. But in the autumn of 1937, all of that begins to change as Mussolini asserts his power, aligning Italy's Fascists with Hitler's Nazis and altering the very laws that govern Rome. In time, everything that the three hold dear--their families, their homes, and their connection to one another--is tested in ways they never could have imagined.

As anti-Semitism takes legal root and World War II erupts, the threesome realizes that Mussolini was only the beginning. Against this backdrop, the intertwined fates of Elisabetta, Marco, Sandro, and their families will be decided, in a heartbreaking story of both the best and the worst that the world has to offer.

Unfolding over decades, Eternal is a tale of loyalty and loss, family and food, love and war--all set in one of the world's most beautiful cities at its darkest moment. This moving novel will be forever etched in the hearts and minds of readers.

Review

The author not only gives an excellent view of the slowly encroaching changes, as the future horror of the Nazi era is foreshadowed in small moments and reflected in different ways for the three main characters. Each one of them has their own burdens to carry, but some of them find their lives systematically eradicated for merely being the wrong kind of person.

What is really well described is the way the Jewish people especially, were in a state of disbelief to the point of not really wanting to believe the society, friends, neighbours and colleagues suddenly viewed them as enemies of the state. More than that, they were portrayed as evil incarnate and the root of things wrong. The good citizens who fought for their country, won accolades, were scientific pillars of their countries. Why would they suddenly fear the people who had previously sang their praises.

Why would men-in-arms, veterans be completely oblivious to the fact their brothers in combat now view them as the enemy. Mussolini's homegrown fascism is seen as a completely different entity to the fuelled hatred of the Nazi regime. You know what they say  - first they came for...and then...

As the division grows and the hatred spreads the lives and relationships of Marco, Sandro and Elisabetta are changed forever.

It's a coming-of-age story embedded in one of the most disruptive periods of history with richly drawn friendships, and the emotional minefields of young people laid bare. The norm becomes a new reality, a state of fear and constant betrayal is the new friend on their shoulders. This author knows how to tug on the heartstrings and keep readers captivated.               

Buy Eternal at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎No Exit Press; pub date 9 Mar. 2023. Buy at Amazon com.

Monday, 24 July 2023

#Blogtour Karakorum by Don McVey

 It's a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour Karakorum by Don McVey.

About the Author

Don McVey has worked for over 20 years in the Film and TV industry. After winning the H.G. Wells award for his short story 'Transference', he decided it was time to get round to writing a novel. His debut novel Karakorum was released in May 2023. Follow @donmcvey on Twitter

About the book

Sorcha makes a humble living playing the deadly game of Scratch, on the outer edge of Kara's limits. Something highly unusual for one so young. Scouted by a stranger from another faction, a chain of fatal events are set in motion when she discovers a strange anomaly hidden deep within the game arena. Pursued by nefarious powers, she must solve an ancient riddle, buried in the subconscious of man.

To find the truth, Sorcha must travel to the heart of Karakorum, an endless shanty town, separated by borders of assimilated minds known as labs. The Modor's words are the only laws the inhabitants know, a new religion based on the sacrosanct Sapiens gene. A dark period in the past, known only as The Wipe, threatens to repeat, something that would mean annihilation for every connected citizen. Unknown to her, it is Sorcha who may lead to their ultimate demise.

Review

Sorcha becomes the focus of a hunt when a game she plays comes to the attention of the powers that be or the powers that think they are and should be. The hunt is on for an anomaly, for something or someone who is an unusual blip in a very large construct. It's the beginning of an awakening and not just for Sorcha.

With this kind of complex speculative fiction that weaves a variety of genres into a newly shaped sub-genre it's great when the end result is a driven and riveting read. I really enjoyed it. There is always a certain moment in more complex dystopian, speculative and sci-fi stories when you realise someone has their ducks in a row or you've stumbled upon erratic ducks with no structure or point of destination. This author successfully manages to create their vision for the reading audience in a way that delivers societal structures, sci-fi, dystopian nightmares and how religious or spiritual concepts are used to control in every scenario.

It's difficult to give comparisons so readers have an idea what kind of read they are in for. It has the futuristic aspect of Matrix without the jazz hands, the dowdy shanty town like structure of a densely populated ant colony with the infrastructure of an interconnected hive.  

Will there be a second book - a further venture into the world of Karakorum? Some of us really need to know if this is a standalone novel. A great read.

Buy Karakorum at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Independent; pub date 29 April 2023. Buy at Amazon com.

Wednesday, 19 July 2023

#Blogtour Salt and Skin by Eliza Henry-Jones

It's my turn on the Blogtour Salt and Skin by Eliza Henry-Jones.

About the Author

Eliza Henry-Jones is a writer and academic based on a little flower farm in Victoria, Australia. Her previous novels have been listed for multiple literary awards including the ABIA, NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and QLD Literary Awards. Her work has also been published widely, appearing in places such as the Guardian, Country Style, The Big Issue and The Age. Eliza has qualifications in psychology as well as grief, loss and trauma counselling. Follow @elizahenryjones on Twitter

About the book

Grief-stricken and on the verge of a breakdown, photographer Luda Managan leaves Australia for a commission, bringing her two teenage children to a remote, weather-ravaged but beautiful Scottish island.

Luda, isolated from her two resentful teenagers, turns her attention to the records from the 17th century island witch hunts and the fragmented life stories of the executed women. Min, her daughter, restless and strong, tries to fill up the space in their family left by her father. She soon finds comfort in both the sea and an unlikely friendship. But the only thing that beautiful and gifted Darcy cares about is getting marks high enough for entry into university – one very, very far away from his mother. Until he meets the wild foundling, Theo, who slowly self-destructing in a community that is both protective and violent towards him.

But when a tragic accident unleashes ghosts and the echoes of long-ago violence and betrayal into their lives, the Managans must confront their unspoken histories in order to survive.


Review

I loved the way this started deep and just kept getting deeper. It's an intricately drawn picture of family structures, especially when they are redefined after a tragic loss, perhaps more so when the death in question is in a cloud of doubt.

Luda takes her children, Min and Darcy, about as far away as she can from the place they know as home. To put the tragedy of their father's death behind them, to give her children time to focus on something other than disruption, to push her career forward - yes, a bit of a contradiction. Luda is certainly that, and her choices can be controversial.

In fact the choices she makes when it comes to her career can be narcissistic, as can she, if truth be told. What kind of mother exploits her own child in the name of notoriety, then gaslights them into thinking they are selfish to not want to save the world.

Perhaps her lack of acknowledgement of her own emotions is what makes her susceptible to the aura, the past, the inexplicable that lurks. Are the voices of the past and guilt-laden history calling to her?

It's a fascinating read. The characters are depicted with an incredible depth and nuance, the writing enhances how powerful the story is conceptually. 

It felt as if the ending wasn't an accurate reflection of the entirety of the story. A little cut-off, blunt and without the sharp double-edged sword that's wielded throughout. Instead the mystic nature of the past, the ghosts and the gothic vibe take over, as it slowly envelopes the characters and the setting to make a last stand. 

Buy Salt and Skin at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: September Publishing; pub date 6th July 2023 | £12.99 | Paperback Original. Buy at Amazon com