A Lover of Books

Blog Tour – ‘Murder on the Rocks’ by J.S. Strange ~ #damppebblesblogtours @damppebbles @PantherPubs @JackSamStrange

‘Murder on the Rocks’, the first book in the Jordan Jenner Mysteries series, was published in paperback and as an eBook on the 1st March 2019 by Panther Publishing.  This book has already had a successful blog tour this year.  To coincide with Pride Month it was only deserving that it had a second tour.

I would like to thank Emma Welton of Damppebbles Blog Tours for inviting me to participate in this blog tour.  Thanks also to the publisher for my review copy.

I will tell you in a minute what I thought about ‘Murder on the Rocks’.  First though here’s the book blurb.

 

Book Blurb

When PI Jordan Jenner returns to work following the death of his mother, his first case involves a murdered writer…

James Fairview has been killed. As a member of a prestigious writing group hosted by bestselling author Joseph Gordon in the heart of Cardiff, Jordan not only has to cope with solving the mystery, but also deal with press attention.

As Jordan investigates, he discovers his mother’s death may not have been so simple. And when another writer is murdered, Jordan realises the killer could strike again…

A murdered writer, a mysterious death, and a group with jealousy at its heart, this is Jenner’s toughest case yet.

A cosy murder mystery with a gay male detective, Murder on the Rocks is the first in the Jordan Jenner Mysteries series. If you’re a fan of classic whodunits you will love this!

A perfect read for those looking for Welsh crime fiction.

 

My Review

The first thing I want to mention is the cover of this book which I absolutely love. I have found myself studying it several times now. To me those houses look amazing. How I would love to walk down that street admiring them all. I also really like the title which is very apt indeed.

I enjoyed this book thoroughly. I liked the style of writing and how the reader is thrown straight into the scene of the crime. Always the sign of a good book. I loved the short chapters too. They are always handy when you only have time for a quick read, plus it’s a good excuse to read just one more chapter followed by another and another.

I liked Jordan Jenner from the very start. He was truly dedicated to his job and just couldn’t rest until he solved the case, especially when he found that his recently deceased mother was somehow connected. I mean what a coincidence that was! I do think it is important having gay characters in books and I like how the author has given his readers an insight into Jordan’s personal life as well. I really hope that Jordan can one day find true happiness. He is just so lovely.

I also really liked DCI Vanessa Carter who got Jordan on the case. She was naturally concerned about him after not long having come back to work from compassionate leave. In a way though it did him good as he had something else to focus on.

There were so many twists and turns throughout the story. It seemed several people had a motive for murdering the first victim, but it was Jordan’s clever sleuthing together with the help of the police that helped to solve the crime. I did have my suspicions of who the killer was, but didn’t quite have it all worked out.

‘Murder on the Rocks’ was an exciting read and I found myself hooked. This is a very promising start to a new series. I am so happy that there will be more of Jordan Jenner to come and cannot wait for the next book.

If you like cosy crime then I highly recommend ‘Murder on the Rocks’.

 

About J.S. Strange

J.S. Strange is an author from Wales, United Kingdom. He writes crime, mystery and horror. His first novels, published in 2016 and 2017, were set in an apocalyptic London. Murder on the Rocks, is the first in a cosy crime mystery series, featuring a leading gay male detective.

Murder on the Rocks was written by Strange for many reasons. One of those reasons was a lack of representation within the crime genre, particularly with detectives and sleuths. Strange created Jordan Jenner, a private investigator, who lives and works in Cardiff. Murder on the Rocks was written with the intention of shining light on Cardiff, and bringing Cardiff, and furthermore, Wales, into the crime genre.

Strange’s previous works, such as ‘Winter Smith: London Burning’, also explored LGBT themes, and featured socialite Winter Smith escaping a zombie apocalypse. ‘London’s Burning’ became an Amazon best-seller in LGBT fiction.

When Strange doesn’t write, he works in television. He also presents a radio show all about the paranormal. He has an enthusiasm for Britney Spears and cats.

Jack can be reached on Twitter: @JackSamStrange

 

Links

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JackSamStrange @JackSamStrange

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JackSamuelStrange/

Website: https://jacksamstrange.com/?fbclid=IwAR1DGDgRPWre63XkLzW8kkcnBy2BBZ2g9TFTNU71K8vnJUDDapY_6igh4nA

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jsstrange/

Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/2EX1cPS

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Murder-Rocks-Mystery-Jordan-Mysteries/dp/1527235521/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Murder-Rocks-Mystery-Jordan-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B07L2FRDB8/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=murder+on+the+rocks&qid=1557827818&s=gateway&sr=8-2

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/murder-on-the-rocks/j-s-strange/9781527235526

 

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Family’ by P. R. Black ~ @Aria_Fiction @PatBlack9

‘The Family’ by P. R. Black was published in paperback and as an eBook on the 2nd May 2019 by Aria Fiction.  I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour and have got a guest post from the author for you.  First though, here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

The best way to catch a killer? Offer yourself as bait.

Becky Morgan’s family were the victims of the ‘crimes of the decade’.

The lone survivor of a ritualistic killing, Becky’s been forever haunted by the memories of that night.

Twenty years later, with the killer never found, Becky is ready to hunt them down and exact revenge. But the path to find the murderer is a slippery slope and she finds herself opening up some old wounds that should have been left sealed.

Will Becky avenge her family or join them?

 

Guest Post

Rooting For The Bad Guy

By Pat Black

The villain in The Family is not only a vicious killer, but a cruel manipulator. I think these two qualities – if we can call them that – go hand-in-hand.

Although the person behind the mask isn’t based on any real-life murderers, it stands to reason that someone who takes pleasure in ending lives would also enjoy causing chaos in a more general sense.

That craven, furtive glee in pulling the strings from behind a curtain… It’s a bit like being an author.

So let’s take a look at some other famous manipulators in the history of fiction. Be warned – this is a treacherous journey. There may be blood…

1. Lecter

Hannibal Lecter is a gourmand first of all, and then a cannibal. But even if we leave aside all the murders, he is still a nasty piece of work.

Deprived of the opportunity to turn people into flans, the imprisoned Lecter is reduced to getting his jollies by pressing people’s buttons from behind his cell door. Remind you of any unpleasant people you’ve encountered on the internet? That’s right, all of them.

Lecter first appeared in Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon, where he plays the man who caught him for a complete fool after the FBI agent seeks some advice on how to catch another killer, known as the Tooth Fairy.

Its sequel, The Silence Of The Lambs, focuses on the search for another murderer known as Buffalo Bill. But it’s also about how Lecter manipulates events in order to engineer his escape from custody. He succeeds – but not before his eye is caught by Clarice Starling.

Lecter notes the FBI trainee’s qualities and relishes the contact between them. There’s a creepy hint that the killer’s admiration for Starling may be more than just cerebral. This subtle, memorably queasy idea was spoiled by Hannibal’s bonkers finale. That second sequel to Red Dragon was brilliant, but is perhaps best appreciated if you take it as the comedy Thomas Harris surely intended it to be.

Like Lecter and Starling, my heroine, Becky Morgan, has a dialogue with the villain in The Family. Except, my killer is all the more dangerous, being already on the loose when Becky makes contact for the first time since the day her family was slaughtered…

2. Danvers

I’d struggle to name anyone in all of literature so memorably wicked as Mrs Danvers. She never spills a drop of blood, but has an ocean of poison within her.

The housekeeper at Manderley in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is ostensibly a servant of the new Mrs de Winter – but she’s in charge, all right.

She has a weird, unknowable obsession with “my lady”: Rebecca de Winter, the previous mistress of the house, who died in murky circumstances. Rebecca’s narrator is an ingénue whose naivety is embarrassing to other ingénues. She simply can’t match up to her wild, bewitching predecessor. And Mrs Danvers won’t let her forget it.

The grim housekeeper’s manipulation of our heroine verges on diabolical. Her prodding and goading is beyond Iago, beyond anyone. This is most apparent when Danvers makes a phone call to Rebecca’s former chamber, preserved like the Tomb of Tutankhamun, asking for “Mrs de Winter”. This causes both narrator and reader to make the same cringe-worthy mistake when the current lady of the house is caught unawares.

Then there’s the choice of costume for the grand ball… you almost want to cover your eyes. As you sit there, reading a book.

Worst of all is Mrs Danvers’ gently mesmeric entreaty to Mrs de Winter to just step out of one of Manderley’s high windows as the fog rolls in off the sea… She makes it sound like the most reasonable idea in the world.

She is unforgettable. And I could not get enough of her. Any author who can imbue their villain with even a fraction of Mrs Danvers’ malice will have done very well indeed.

3. Monte Cristo

“But he’s the hero, isn’t he? The wronged avenger. The Count of Monte Cristo is no villain!”

Except… he is. In considering Alexandre Dumas’ work, we probably think of the Musketeers first. They are four very different characters, but all very noble. Their swords might be keen, but they have justice and virtue on their side. Thanks to some memorable movie adaptations, some might think of The Count of Monte Cristo in the same light – an adventure novel, with loads of swashbuckling and romance.

The book has some exciting scenes and intrigue, but it has a very dark heart. And there are none darker than that of the mysterious man in the title.

Its plot can be summed up by some philosophical questions: When pursuing revenge, is it the same as justice? In moral terms, does the price paid measure up to the satisfaction gained?

Sure, the young, guileless Edmond Dantes is a wronged man. His future is stolen from him after a conspiracy by men who rival him in matters of commerce, politics and the heart – their motivations being greed, expediency and jealousy.

And then there’s the tailor… he’s just a bit of an idiot. There’s an old saying about confusing malice with stupidity.

But the guy who swims out of a body bag from the Chateau d’If is very different to the 20-year-old who was first locked up there, many years before. And the man who appears in Paris later, rich as Croesus, may in fact be Edmond Dantes’ polar opposite.

The Count of Monte Cristo appears as a guardian angel at first, saving the lives of his enemies’ loved ones, and even stepping in to save them from ruin with his inexhaustible wealth. But this is only done in order to weasel his way into their trust, and even their affections. It’s all part of a long, clever game.

Monte Cristo has a plan, and he will not be swayed from it, no matter who gets trampled on or what he destroys in the process. That includes the heart of the one he truly loves.

The man’s grievance is understandable. But after a while we ask the same questions as his loyal manservant: “You’ve suffered – but now you have everything you could ever want out of life… Why are you still doing this? Is it honourable?”

The truth is: Monte Cristo has become the villain. Instead of dragging injustice into the light, he operates in the shadows, and engineers awful fates. He is devious and dishonest; he is malevolent; his plan ensnares the innocent as much as the guilty.

Is he evil? Many people think so when he makes his first appearance in high society. His saturnine good looks get the fans flapping double-time when he makes his bow at the opera. A somewhat diabolical appearance and the fact that he only ever appears after dark, and never seems to eat or drink, sees him compared to Byron – and by extension, to a vampire.

We are left in no doubt that our hero is a deeply flawed, morally ambiguous figure. And his wrongs cannot be righted by something as crude as a sword thrust. To paraphrase Bane in The Dark Knight Rises: the conspirators’ punishment must be more severe. The kind delivered with a smirk, not a snarl.

Becky Morgan is an avenging angel in The Family, and her quest to catch the person who committed that terrible crime is a long time in the planning. But in seeking revenge, what price is she prepared to pay?

 

About P. R. Black

Author and journalist PR Black lives in Yorkshire, although he was born and brought up in Glasgow. When he’s not driving his wife and two children to distraction with all the typing, he enjoys hillwalking, fresh air and the natural world, and can often be found asking the way to the nearest pub in the Lake District. His short stories have been published in several books including the Daily Telegraph’s Ghost Stories and the Northern Crime One anthology. His Glasgow detective, Inspector Lomond, is appearing in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. He took the runner-up spot in the 2014 Bloody Scotland crime-writing competition with “Ghostie Men”. His work has also been performed on stage in London by Liars’ League. He has also been shortlisted for the Red Cross International Prize, the William Hazlitt essay prize and the Bridport Prize.

 

Links

Follow P.R. Black:

Twitter: @PatBlack9

Buy links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2HGgIn4
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2MG8XfV
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2SgG7rA
iBooks: https://apple.co/2VR9Aa4

Follow Aria:

Website: www.ariafiction.com
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction

 

Don’t forget to catch up with all the previous posts.

 

Blog Tour – ‘White Gold’ by David Barker ~ #LoveBooksTours @urbanebooks @BlueGold201

I am delighted to be taking part in this tour today.  ‘White Gold’, the final book in the Gaia Trilogy, was published in paperback and as an eBook on the 9th May 2019 by Urbane Publications.  I would like to thank Kelly Lacey of Love Books Group for inviting me to participate in this tour.

David Barker has written a guest post for my blog.  First though, here’s what the book is about.

 

 

Book Blurb

VENGEANCE ALWAYS HAS A PRICE

Sim Atkins, Overseas Division agent, returns to Earth, having saved the Moon base from a deadly terrorist plot (see Rose Gold). All Sim can think about is finding the criminals responsible.

But his fury and lust for revenge are put on hold when a nuclear warhead is stolen by Terra Former leader Matthias Larsson. Can Sim and his colleagues track down the terrorist cell and disarm the device in time?

White Gold is the gripping finale in the compellingly original Gaia Trilogy, page-turning thrillers that provoke as well as excite.

 

Guest Post

God of fire

You probably know that volcanoes are not named after Spock’s home planet but after Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, right?

And most Europeans will remember the eruption of Eyjafjallajӧkull in April 2010, not only for the huge disruption it caused to flights across the continent but also because of its challenging pronunciation (EYE-a-fyat-la-jo-kutl). If you’re Icelandic, you might recall first and foremost the huge flooding caused by the melting ice sheet. What many won’t know is that this eruption was classified as a 4 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI). The index is very similar to the Richter Scale for Earthquakes: a one-point increase represents a tenfold rise in the power and violence of the event.

Readers will also probably know about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79, which resulted in the burial and destruction of several Roman cities, including Pompeii. That was a 5 on the VEI, as was the eruption of St Helens in 1980.

Moving up to a 6 on the index, in other words one hundred times more powerful than Eyjafjallajӧkull, and the most famous example is Krakatoa in 1883. It was the loudest sound ever recorded, heard 5000km away and the pressure wave rounded the world three and a half times. The explosion and subsequent tsunamis killed an estimated 36,000 people.

Not many people can name an example of an eruption recorded as a 7 on the index. The most recent example was Tambora, Indonesia in 1815. It killed 92,000 people and its ash cloud was so pervasive and enduring that Northern Europe and America suffered a year without summer in 1816.

The reason all of this is relevant to my latest release, White Gold? Because there’s another volcano that is not at all famous, but whose eruption a thousand years ago was as powerful as Tambora. And if it was ready to go again, well that would be interesting, wouldn’t it?

Which volcano am I talking about? How can Sim, Freda and the rest of the gang prevent such a huge catastrophe? You’ll just have to grab a copy of White Gold, available from May 9th at all good bookstores, to find out…

 

About David Barker

David was born in Cheshire but now lives in Berkshire. His working life has been spent in the City, first for the Bank of England and now as Chief Economist for an international fund. So his job entails trying to predict the future all the time. David attended the Faber Academy course and he still meets up with his inspirational fellow students.

 

Links

‘White Gold’ is available to purchase from Amazon UK – https://amzn.to/2WCPQai

Website – http://davidbarkerauthor.co.uk/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/bluegold201

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Abandoned Daughter’ by Mary Wood ~ @panmacmillan @Authormary

It is a real pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for ‘The Abandoned Daughter’, which was published yesterday the 16th May 2019 in paperback and as an eBook by Pan Books. This is the second book in The Girls Who Went to War trilogy. I would like to thank Mary Wood for inviting me to participate in this tour and the publisher for sending me my review copy.

I will tell you soon what I thought about this book. First though, here’s the blurb.

 

 

Book Blurb

Voluntary nurse Ella is haunted by the soldiers’ cries she hears on the battlefields of Dieppe. But that’s not the only thing that haunts her. When her dear friend Jim breaks her trust, Ella is left bruised and heartbroken. Over the years, her friendships have been pulled apart at the seams by the effects of war. Now, more than ever, she feels so alone.

At a military hospital in France, Ella befriends Connie and Paddy. Slowly she begins to heal, and finds comfort in the arms of a French officer called Paulo – could he be her salvation?

With the end of the war on the horizon, surely things have to get better? Ella grew up not knowing her real family but a clue leads her in their direction. What did happen to Ella’s parents, and why is she so desperate to find out?

 

My Review

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Abandoned Daughter’. I haven’t read the first book in the series yet unfortunately. This book can be read as a standalone, though personally I would say start at the beginning as there is so much you will find you want to know, as I have found out.

Mary Wood is such a talented author. She has penned another great story and she doesn’t hold back at all. ‘The Abandoned Daughter’ was everything I expected it to be and much more besides. I found it so hard to put down. It made for addictive and gritty reading and at times I was shocked.

Split into six parts, the author has done a great job of portraying what happened during the First World War and the aftermath. Those poor soldiers and their families. It’s devastating to think that so many were homeless and had no choice but to live on the streets and beg.

There were a mixture of characters, some really lovely and some downright unsavoury. My heart literally broke for Ella. She was such a lovely person, an angel. She really didn’t deserve all that what was thrown at her. Just as things seemed to be improving something else would happen. I enjoyed meeting Ella’s friends. I really liked Rowena. She came along at the right time I would say. She was a real lifesaver who was there for Ella and did all she could to help her in her time of need.

I am falling more and more in love with Mary Wood’s books and I feel like I could read them forever. I am really looking forward to the third book in this series and hopefully I will get to read ‘The Forgotten Daughter’ as well soon.

~~~~~

‘The Abandoned Daughter’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://amzn.to/2YCyfQX

 

About Mary Wood

Born the thirteenth child of fifteen to a middle-class mother and an East End barrow boy, Mary Wood’s family were poor, but rich in love. Over time, she developed a natural empathy with the less fortunate and is fascinated by social history. Mary raised four children and has numerous grandchildren, step-grandchildren and great-grandchildren. An avid reader, she first put pen to paper in 1989, and is now a full-time novelist.

 

Links

Website – https://www.authormarywood.com/

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/HistoricalNovels

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Authormary

Blog Tour – ‘The Catherine Howard Conspiracy’ by Alexandra Walsh ~ @SapereBooks @purplemermaid25

‘The Catherine Howard Conspiracy’ is the first book in The Marquess House Trilogy.  It was published as an eBook on the 28th March 2019 by Sapere Books and is also available in paperback.  I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour together with a number of other book bloggers and would like to thank Caoimhe O’Brien for inviting me to participate.

I have an extract from the book for all of you.  First though, here’s what its about.

 

 

Book Blurb

A timeshift thriller that will have you completely gripped! Perfect for fans of Dan Brown, Philippa Gregory, Kate Mosse and Tom Harper.

What secrets were covered up at the court of Henry VIII …?

 

Whitehall Palace, England, 1539

When Catherine Howard arrives at the court of King Henry VIII to be a maid of honour in the household of the new queen, Anne of Cleves, she has no idea of the fate that awaits her.

Catching the king’s fancy, she finds herself caught up in her uncle’s ambition to get a Howard heir to the throne.

Terrified by the ageing king after the fate that befell her cousin, Anne Boleyn, Catherine begins to fear for her life…

Pembrokeshire, Wales, 2018

Dr Perdita Rivers receives news of the death of her estranged grandmother, renowned Tudor historian Mary Fitzroy.

Mary inexplicably cut all contact with Perdita and her twin sister, Piper, but she has left them Marquess House, her vast estate in Pembrokeshire.

Perdita sets out to unravel their grandmother’s motives for abandoning them, and is drawn into the mystery of an ancient document in the archives of Marquess House, a collection of letters and diaries claiming the records of Catherine Howard’s execution were falsified…

What truths are hiding in Marquess House? What really happened to Catherine Howard?

And how was Perdita’s grandmother connected to it all?

 

THE CATHERINE HOWARD CONSPIRACY is the first book in the Marquess House trilogy, a dual timeline conspiracy thriller with an ingenious twist on a well-known period of Tudor history.

 

Extract

“She’s not in the least bit ugly,” whispered Catherine to Isabel as they watched the Lady Anne of Cleves disembark from her coach. She looked a little tired, but after weeks on the road, and the terrible delays caused by harsh weather, this was unsurprising. Unconsciously, Catherine’s fingers went to the beautiful silver locket hanging around her neck. Isabel and Edward had given it to her for Christmas. A delicate pattern was engraved on the front and it was set with a perfect diamond at its centre. It was the first piece of jewellery Catherine had ever owned and she was delighted with it.

“Of course, she isn’t,” replied Isabel. “The king can often be unkind.”

“Careful, Issy,” hissed a low voice. “Bess Seymour’s over there. She hears everything.”

Catherine and Isabel glanced around. Sure enough, Lady Elizabeth Seymour, younger sister of the former queen, Jane Seymour, and aunt to the heir to the throne, had moved within earshot of the Howard women. She nodded her greeting and turned her attention back to the events playing out before her.

“Lady Cromwell looks as though there’s a bad smell under her nose,” whispered Lady Rochford, the person who had first hissed the warning to Catherine and Isabel.

“Wouldn’t you look like that if you were married to the grandson of a brewer?” replied Isabel tartly. The two women laughed derisively.

“I thought you said she was Lady Seymour,” whispered Catherine, confused. It was one of the things she had noticed at court; people with titles seemed to have so many different variations on their names that she lost track of who was who, let alone who was married to whom or who was secretly meeting in the dark of the grounds at night.

“She married Gregory Cromwell not long ago,” whispered Isabel.

“And who’s he?” asked Catherine, wanting to join in the joke but finding it hard to believe the aunt to Prince Edward, the future king, had married such a lowly man.

Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, took Catherine’s hand and nodded towards the group of men greeting the queen.

“See the tall one, quite young, good looking?” Catherine nodded; it was the man who had winked at her in the corridor on her first day at court. “That’s Gregory Cromwell, son of Sir Thomas Cromwell.”

“The Lord Privy Seal?” gasped Catherine.

Jane Boleyn nodded.

“Yes, the son of the man who was instrumental in having my beloved husband George beheaded, and our dear cousin accused of so many barbarous things before she, too, had her head chopped off by her insane husband.” Jane’s voice was low and bitter.

“Careful, Jane,” warned Isabel. “The Seymours and the Cromwells are a formidable power.”

Catherine stared at Lady Cromwell in wide-eyed wonder. The politics of court seemed so complex and here was a living embodiment of one of the worst times in the king’s reign. It had been the moment the people around him had realised Henry was no longer the romantic, chivalric prince who had inherited the throne from his father, but that he was slowly becoming a terrifying tyrant.

“What do you think of her dress?” asked Margaret Douglas, changing the subject.

“It’s — er — unusual,” said Jane, trying to be polite.

“The fabric is gorgeous,” sighed Catherine, “I’m sure we can help her with English styles, she’s obviously not aware of our fashions.”

“You’re a sweet thing, Kitten,” said Margaret, smiling at Catherine, who blushed. She turned back to look at the queen, wondering what it would be like to wear a dress made from sumptuous cloth of gold. Would it be heavy? After all, the cloth was made from real metal strands woven with silk. She tried to imagine how it would feel, then mentally shook herself. She was delighted to be wearing velvet and satin. What right did she have to yearn after cloth of gold? Her new wardrobe, supplied by her uncle, Thomas Howard, duke of Norfolk, and her sister and her husband, still thrilled her. Never before had she had so much choice and never had her clothes been so exquisitely made.

“Yes, Kitty, you’re right,” agreed Carey. “The fabric is beautiful but the style is extremely unflattering. We must try to persuade her into something more elegant.”

“I suppose it must be what they wear in Cleves,” said Jane.

“Yes, but she’s in England now,” said Margaret. “And looking like that, she’s never going to win the king round, especially after their disastrous first meeting.”

“What happened?” asked Jane. “No one seems to know, or if they do, no one’s talking.”

“The duchess of Suffolk told me,” said Margaret. She dropped her voice to a whisper and the Howard girls stepped closer to listen while still half-watching the gleaming parade and displays of welcome for the Lady Anne.

“You know how obsessed the king is with the idea of chivalry and King Arthur?” she began, the others nodded. “Well, he was so in love with the Lady Anne’s portrait, he decided he’d surprise her disguised as a servant, convinced true love would intercede and she would recognise him, so their first meeting would be one of love, honour and mystery.”

“What happened?” gasped Catherine.

“He stormed in dressed as a servant, carrying a gift for the queen,” continued Margaret. “Then, before she’d really grasped what was going on, he grabbed her and kissed her. She was horrified. She pushed him away and began shouting at him in German, ordering he be removed. He was furious. He stalked out of the room and returned in full royal purple, festooned with jewels. She was devastated and threw herself on her knees, but the damage was done. That’s why he’s being so rude about her — no one had told her we’re all supposed to pretend he’s still the handsome young prince who inherited the throne nearly thirty-one years ago.”

“Margaret, be careful, that’s treason,” whispered Isabel, conscious of the fact Elizabeth Seymour had edged even closer.

Margaret glanced over and smiled winningly at Lady Cromwell.

“Nosy old hag,” she murmured under her breath to the others. Catherine stifled a giggle.

“But what about the queen?” asked Catherine, who felt desperately sorry for the poor young woman.

“She doesn’t speak English, so she didn’t really understand what was going on,” whispered Margaret. “Although, today I heard one of the rumours about their meeting confirmed.”

“What?” asked Carey.

“Apparently, the king’s doing everything he can to wriggle out of the marriage.”

“No!” Catherine exclaimed, appalled. She had hoped this suggestion had merely been spiteful court gossip.

“He summoned Thomas Cromwell this morning, told him he had to make this good; find a way out for the king. Lady Cromwell might well be looking smug at the moment, but if her father-in-law can’t find a loophole in the paperwork, Uncle Henry is going to be very, very cross indeed.”

Catherine watched Anne as Henry, dressed in matching finery, led her from the elaborate throne where she had presided over the ceremonies. Her long, dark hair was covered in a blonde wig but underneath it was a sweet, oval face with dark eyes and delicate, pink-tinged skin. She wasn’t ugly, thought Catherine. She was pretty in a similar way to Jane Seymour, but her colouring was different. Although she was smiling, Catherine thought the new queen looked wary and guarded. She may not speak the language, but she was an educated woman and Catherine was sure she must have picked up on the undercurrents. Perhaps she, like the king, was merely playing along and hoping that someone would rescue her before it was too late.

Isabel exchanged a glance with Katherine Willoughby, the duchess of Suffolk, who was standing to one side, ready to lead the procession, then prodded Jane and Catherine in front of her.

“Come along, girls. It’s time for us to join the queen and be officially introduced,” she said and began organising them. Margaret Douglas, the king’s niece, led the way with Katherine Willoughby, the duchess of Suffolk. Catherine Howard moved back to stand with Lady Carey, while Jane and Isabel followed Margaret.

“We are but lowly maids,” sighed Carey as they waited for the great ladies of the new queen’s household to go ahead of them.

Catherine nodded, but in the midst of all the political crosscurrents, she was happy to be a lowly maid, invisible, insignificant and unimportant.

~~~~~

Sounds good, doesn’t it?  ‘The Catherine Howard Conspiracy’ is available to purchase from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Catherine-Howard-Conspiracy-gripping-conspiracy-ebook/dp/B07ML4LN96/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1557772309&sr=1-1-fkmrnull-spons

 

About Alexandra Walsh

From tales spun for her teddies when she was a child (usually about mermaids) to film scripts, plays and novels, Alexandra Walsh has always been a storyteller. Words are her world. For over 25 years, she has been a journalist writing for a wide range of publications including national newspapers and glossy magazines. She spent some years working in the British film industry, as well as in television and radio: researching, advising, occasionally presenting and always writing.

Books dominate Alexandra’s life. She reads endlessly and tends to become a bit panicky if her next three books are not lined up and waiting. Characters, places, imagery all stay with her and even now she finds it difficult to pass an old wardrobe without checking it for a door to Narnia. As for her magical letter when she was 11, she can only assume her cat caught the owl!

Alexandra’s other passion is history, particularly the untold tales of women. Whether they were queens or paupers, their voices resonate with their stories, not only about their own lives but about ours, too. The women of the Tudor court have inspired her novels. Researching and writing The Marquess House Trilogy (Book One: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy) has brought together her love of history, mysteries and story telling.

 

Links

Website: http://www.alexandrawalsh.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/purplemermaid25

Blog Tour – ‘No More Lies’ by Robert Crouch ~ #BitsaboutBooksBlogTour @CarolineBookBit @robertcrouchuk

I am thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for ‘No More Lies’ along with Donna’s Book Blog.  This is the fourth book in the Kent Fisher series and it is out today in paperback and as an eBook.  I would like to thank Caroline at Bits about Books for inviting me to participate in this tour.  Thanks must go also to both Robert Crouch and Caroline for my review copy.

I will tell you soon what I thought about ‘No More Lies’  First though, the blurb.

 

Book Blurb

Kent Fisher gets more than he bargained for when Detective Inspector Ashley Goodman enlists his help with a ten year old murder. She’s on a mission and needs a big case to put her career back on track.

And they don’t come much bigger than Miles Birchill, Downland’s wealthiest and most divisive resident.

Not for the first time, Kent has doubts about the case, forcing him to make choices. But who do you trust when everyone has something to hide?

Caught in the middle, he has no alternative but to solve the murder, unaware that his every move is being watched.

The Kent Fisher novels offer a fresh and contemporary reworking of the classic whodunit and murder mysteries of authors like Agatha Christie.

 

My Review

I have enjoyed this series from the very start. It really does feel like I have waited ages, at least ten years, for ‘No More Lies’ to be published. I absolutely love Robert Crouch’s style of writing. He has mentioned previous murder cases Kent has solved and details about his personal life in this book so that it can be read as a standalone. Personally though I would say to read the series from the very start if you can, simply because it’s so good.

Kent Fisher really does tick all my boxes. He still has his animal sanctuary and would concentrate on it full-time if he could. That makes him a very caring and loving man, looking after animals. I love his sense of humour and I also think he makes a great sleuth. Nothing gets past him, oh no!

I found this case intriguing and was trying to fit all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together. A murder from ten years ago wasn’t going to be easy to solve. That didn’t stop Kent though. He was put under so much pressure by DI Ashley Goodman and time was ticking fast.

I wasn’t keen on DI Goodman at all. There was just something about her. I didn’t like how she treated Kent. It felt like she was using him for her own selfish reasons in order to further her career. Admittedly she did have good reason to suspect who she did though. I really liked Freya and was so happy for Kent.

I loved the cliffhanger at the end of the story and I am so very excited that there is a fifth book coming out. I hope I don’t have to wait another ten years though! Well, okay, I know it’s not quite that long. Somehow I don’t think I could ever tire of this series.

Robert Crouch has done it again.

~~~~~

‘No More Lies’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

http://getbook.at/NoMoreLies

 

About Robert Crouch

Inspired by Miss Marple, Inspector Morse and Columbo, Robert Crouch wanted to write entertaining crime fiction the whole family could enjoy.

At their heart is Kent Fisher, an environmental health officer with more baggage than an airport carousel. Passionate about the environment, justice and fair play, he’s soon embroiled in murder.

Drawing on his experiences as an environmental health officer, Robert has created a new kind of detective who brings a unique and fresh twist to the traditional murder mystery. With complex plots, topical issues and a liberal dash of irreverent humour, the Kent Fisher mysteries offer an alternative to the standard police procedural.

Robert now writes full time and lives on the South Coast of England with his wife and their West Highland White Terrier, Harvey, who appears in the novels as Kent’s sidekick, Columbo.

To discover more, visit http://robertcrouch.co.uk.

 

Social Media Links

Website – http://robertcrouch.co.uk/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/@robertcrouchuk
Facebook Author Page – https://www.facebook.com/robertcrouchauthor/
Amazon Author Page – author.to/RobertCrouch
GoodReads – www.goodreads.com/author/show/16222367.Robert_Crouch

Blog Tour – ‘Gone in the Night’ by Mary-Jane Riley ~ #damppebblesblogtours @damppebbles @mrsmjriley @KillerReads

‘Gone in the Night’ is the fourth book in the Alex Devlin series.  It was published as an eBook on the 3rd May 2019 by Killer Reads and will be out in paperback on the 11th July 2019.  I am absolutely thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour and would like to thank Emma Welton of Damppebbles Blog Tours for inviting me to participate and the publisher and author for my review copy.

I will tell you what I thought about ‘Gone in the Night’ in a minute.  First though, here’s the book blurb.

 

Book Blurb

Some secrets are deadly…

When the victim of a car crash begs journalist Alex Devlin for help before disappearing without trace, Alex finds herself caught up in a mystery that won’t let her go.

Determined to find the missing man, she is soon investigating a conspiracy that threatens some of the most vulnerable members of society.

But will Alex be prepared to put her own life on the line to help those who can’t help themselves?

 

My Review

This is the first book in the Alex Devlin series that I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It can definitely be read as a standalone without spoiling your pleasure as you do get some of the background story about Alex and her family. I loved the author’s style of writing. As I got further into the story I found myself totally hooked and I just couldn’t stop turning the pages. I thought the really short chapters in between the longer ones were a good idea too.

Alex Devlin is on her way home after a night out when she discovers a victim of a car crash who is badly injured. He begs her for her help and when he gives her a scrap of paper with a number written on it her curiosity is naturally piqued. The next day she gets in touch with Cora, who turns out to be the victim’s sister. Before Alex knows what is happening she finds herself getting involved in something rather sinister and feels that she has to help, no matter what the risks involved.

I found myself warming to Alex straight away. She was a strong and courageous woman who wasn’t about to give up on what she had discovered. Something bad was going on and she was going to do whatever she could to help Cora and the homeless, even if it meant putting herself in danger.

It was hard to know exactly who to trust although I did have a hunch who was crooked. Even so, I was just as shocked as Alex. It seemed you couldn’t turn to anyone. Some of the characters quite frankly gave me the heebie-jeebies, especially Boney. I really wouldn’t like to bang into him for real. I think I would have nightmares for life.

If you like crime fiction then I recommend reading ‘Gone in the Night’. I really hope to get the chance to read the first three books in the series at some point. Here’s to many more Alex Delvin books.

 

About Mary-Jane Riley

Mary-Jane wrote her first story on her newly acquired blue Petite typewriter. She was eight. It was about a gang of children who had adventures on mysterious islands, but she soon realised Enid Blyton had cornered that particular market. So she wrote about the Wild West instead. When she grew up she had to earn a living, and became a BBC radio talk show presenter and journalist. She has covered many life-affirming stories, but also some of the darkest events of the past two decades. Mary-Jane has three grown-up children and lives in Suffolk with her husband and two golden retrievers.

GONE IN THE NIGHT is the fourth book in the crime thriller series set in East Anglia and featuring investigative journalist, Alex Devlin.

 

Links

Social Media

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/maryjanerileyauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/mrsmjriley @mrsmjriley

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/maryjanerileyauthor/ @maryjanerileyauthor

 

Purchase Links

Amazon UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gone-Night-exciting-psychological-thriller-ebook/dp/B07KX8RXN2/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=gone+in+the+night&qid=1556096683&s=gateway&sr=8-3

Waterstones:  https://www.waterstones.com/book/gone-in-the-night/mary-jane-riley/9780008340261

Book Depository:  https://www.bookdepository.com/Gone-in-the-Night-Mary-Jane-Riley/9780008340261

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/gone-in-the-night-alex-devlin

Hive:  https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Mary-Jane-Riley/Gone-in-the-Night/23451944

Google Books:  https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Gone_in_the_Night_Alex_Devlin.html?id=VwN8DwAAQBAJ&redir_esc=y

 

Book Review – ‘The Last Night Out’ by Catherine O’Connell ~ @blackthornbks @OConnellauthor

Yesterday was a very special day indeed.  Black Thorn, a brand new imprint publishing exciting crime fiction officially launched.  I can tell you readers now you are in for some real treats.  So congratulations to Black Thorn and lets hope they have a long and fruitful number of years ahead of them.

I was given the opportunity to review one of their brand new titles, ‘The Last Night Out’ by Catherine O’Connell, which has been published in paperback and as an eBook.  It is also available in hardback and audiobook.

 

Book Blurb

Six friends. Three secrets. One murder.

Maggie is destined to marry the perfect man in two weeks. Desperate for a last wild night on the town before the big day, she gathers six friends for a night to remember.

Only things go wrong, horribly wrong.

Angie’s body is found in the park the following morning and the night to remember quickly becomes a nightmare they wish they could forget. Under police scrutiny, how far will Maggie and her friends go to keep their secrets – far enough to protect a killer?

‘Few pages are turned without revealing new, surprising twists . . . a clever, enjoyable read’ Times

‘O’Connell’s wry observations on the rich are hugely entertaining’ Chicago Sun Times

 

My Review

Wow! What a mind blowing story this was. I feel like I have just got out of a fast driving car. I absolutely loved this book and was totally hooked and when I wasn’t reading it I found myself longing to get back to it. I really liked the author’s style of writing and the way the story was clearly set out. The shorter chapters meant I could have a quick read when time was limited, although sticking to one chapter wasn’t always easy.

I found myself being taken on an exciting journey. There were so many twists and turns throughout the story. I had a few questions going through my mind and as I got further into the book more kept coming.

The story of what happened is told years later and narrated by the various characters as imagined by Maggie. There were some real shockers and it really was a case of how the other half live. But as we all know money doesn’t necessarily mean happiness. In fact, it can complicate life even more. I felt that Maggie was just getting herself into a bigger hole, one she would find it hard to get out of.

Out of all of Maggie’s friends I would say my favourite was Kelly. I was so very happy at how things worked out for her and would say she deserved it.

I loved the ending and the way the reader is left to make up their own mind about what really happened.

‘The Last Night Out’ looks at a number of issues including drugs and alcohol. It will literally get hold of you and not let you go until you have read the very last page. I recommend this book to all crime thriller lovers.

I look forward to much more from this author.

~~~~~

‘The Last Night Out’ can be purchased from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Night-Out-Catherine-OConnell-ebook/dp/B07K36G36J/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=the+last+night+out+by+catherine+o%27connell&qid=1556822892&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull

 

About Catherine O’Connell

Catherine O’Connell divides her time between Chicago and Aspen, and sits on the board of Aspen Words, a literary centre whose aim is to support writers and reach out to readers. She is also a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. Catherine has appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, the Cox network and numerous radio shows including WGN Radio’s Sunday Papers with Rick Kogan.

Foreign rights for The Last Night Out have already been sold in France, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Portugal and Spain.

 

Links

Author

Website – https://thelastnightoutbook.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/OConnellAuthor

Publisher

Website – http://blackthornbooks.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/blackthornbks

 

Blog Tour – ‘Death at the Plague Museum’ by Lesley Kelly ~ @sandstonepress @lkauthor

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for ‘Death at the Plague Museum’ by Lesley Kelly.  This book, the third in the A Health of Strangers Thriller series, was published in paperback and as an eBook on the 18th April 2019 by Sandstone Press.  I would like to thank Ceris Jones for inviting me participate in the blog tour and for my review copy.

I will tell you my thoughts on ‘Death at the Plague Museum’ in just a moment.  First though here’s what it is about.

 

Book Blurb

The pandemic is spreading.

On Friday, three civil servants leading Virus policy hold a secret meeting at the Museum of Plagues and Pandemics. By Monday, two are dead and one is missing.

It’s up to Mona and Bernard of the Health Enforcement Team to find the missing official before panic hits the streets.

 

My Review

I actually haven’t read the first two books in the A Health of Strangers Thriller series, so I didn’t know how I would get on with ‘Death at the Plague Museum’. It did sound interesting though and naturally being the bookworm that I am I really wanted to give it a go. I need not have worried as my enjoyment wasn’t spoilt at all and I soon found myself becoming heavily involved in the story. I really liked the author’s style of writing and the storyline itself. It is very different to anything I have ever read.

Taking place over five days, I found this story to be extremely gripping and fast-paced. The virus had already cost the lives of hundreds and thousands of people in Scotland and it continued to spread. Scary hey! On top of that two important civil servants were dead and one was missing. The Health Enforcement Team were given the task of finding the missing official as quickly as they could. With no time to waste they did everything they could, even at the risk of putting themselves in danger.

I really enjoyed getting to know the Health Enforcement Team, particularly Mona and Bernard. I liked how the author didn’t just focus on their professional lives but also their personal lives. It made for some very interesting reading. I wasn’t very keen on Maitland, but I think he could actually grow on me eventually. Time will tell though.

Social media plays such a big part in our lives these days and I liked the fact that the author included it in her story. Full marks to her for this.

I am absolutely delighted to have been given the opportunity of being introduced to this series. ‘Death at the Plague Museum’ was a very enjoyable read and I am looking forward to much more from this author. For fans of this series you will be delighted to know that there is a fourth book coming out.

~~~~~

‘Death at the Plague Museum’ is available to purchase from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Plague-Museum-Health-Strangers-ebook/dp/B07KXB21S7/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1556371743&sr=1-3-fkmrnull

 

About Lesley Kelly

Lesley Kelly has worked in the public and voluntary sectors for the past twenty years, dabbling in poetry and stand-up comedy along the way. She has won several writing competitions, including the Scotsman’s Short Story award in 2008. Her debut novel, A Fine House in Trinity, was long-listed for the William Mclvanney award in 2016. She can be followed on Twitter (@lkauthor) where she tweets about writing, Edinburgh and whatever else takes her fancy.

Blog Tour – ‘Blackpool’s Daughter’ by Maggie Mason ~ @LittleBrownUK @Authormary

‘Blackpool’s Daughter’ was published on the 18th April 2019 in paperback by Sphere and is also available as an eBook and in hardback.  I was thrilled to be invited by the author to take part in this blog tour and would like to thank the publisher for my review copy of this book.

You will find out in a minute what I thought of this book.  First though, here’s the blurb.

 

 

Book Blurb

The perfect read for fans of Mary Wood, Kitty Neale, Val Wood and Nadine Dorries
***PREVIOUSLY CALLED BLACKPOOL EVACUEE***

Clara is forced to flee her home as the Nazis invade the beautiful island of Guernsey

Separated from her mother, far away from anything familiar, she is at the mercy of a cruel shopkeeper. Clara is worked like a dog, but the warmth of her Blackpool friendships will go far to save her.

Julia just wants to find her beloved daughter – but the trials of war will keep them far apart.

They will meet again – but the war will change everything for mother and daughter

 

My Review

As you probably know by now I love family sagas and historical fiction. I was really looking forward to reading ‘Blackpool’s Daughter’ and I can tell you that it was well worth the wait. I truly loved this story and was totally hooked all the way through. Maggie Mason is such a wonderful writer and tells it how it would have been in the 1940s. It is obvious that a lot of research and care and attention has gone into writing this book.

Set during the Second World War, this is the story of Julia and her young daughter Clara. The Nazis could invade Guernsey at anytime and Julia has no other option but to put her daughter’s safety before her own, even though that means they will be separated from each other. Clara is about to embark on a journey and doesn’t know where she will end up. When she finds out that she is being sent to Blackpool her spirits lift a little.

Clara’s life is far from easy and she has to do a lot of growing up quickly. Along the way she makes some good friends and they keep her going, even with things as unbearable as they are.

There were lots of characters in this story, many with their own tragic tale to tell. But whatever happened they kept going one way or the other. Then there were the unsavoury characters, i.e. the gangsters. The brutality Clara and others like her faced was appalling and at times there didn’t seem to be much hope for them, so it was nice to see that they could have a bit of fun together sometimes. Both Clara and Julia went through a lot and their lives changed so much over the years.

‘Blackpool’s Daughter’ is absolutely outstanding and is definitely one of my favourite books of the year. With unforgettable characters this is a story that will stay in my heart for ages. I hope Maggie Mason writes lots more books.

If like me you love family sagas then I recommend that you buy yourself a copy. You won’t be disappointed and will be wanting more.

~~~~~

‘Blackpool’s Daughter’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blackpool-Evacuee-Maggie-Mason/dp/0751573191/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1555612146&sr=1-1-fkmrnull

 

About Maggie Mason

Maggie Mason is a pseudonym of author Mary Wood. Mary began her career by self-publishing on kindle where many of her sagas reached number one in genre. She was spotted by Pan Macmillan and to date has written many books for them under her own name, with more to come. Mary continues to be proud to write for Pan Macmillan, but is now equally proud and thrilled to take up a second career with Sphere under the name of Maggie Mason. A Blackpool Lass is her first in a planned series of standalone books and trilogies set in her home town of Blackpool.

Mary retired from working for the National Probation Service in 2009, when she took up full time writing, something she’d always dreamed of doing. She follows in the footsteps of her great-grandmother, Dora Langlois, who was an acclaimed author, playwright and actress in the late nineteenth – early twentieth century.

It was her work with the Probation Service that gives Mary’s writing its grittiness, her need to tell it how it is, which takes her readers on an emotional journey to the heart of issues.

 

Links

Website – https://www.authormarywood.com/

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/HistoricalNovels

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Authormary

 

Cover Reveal – ‘The Girl I Used to Know’ by Faith Hogan ~ @Aria_Fiction @GerHogan

I have something very special for all of you today.  Yes, that’s right!

The cover of Faith Hogan’s book, ‘The Girl I Used to Know’ has had a makeover and myself along with a number of fellow book bloggers are helping to reveal it.  I personally think that it’s gorgeous and hopefully you will agree.

Right are you all ready to see it?

Are you sure or do you want to wait for a bit longer?

It’s worth the wait.

Oh okay, I’ve kept you waiting for long enough.

Without further ado here is the cover…….

 

I love this cover.  I wish I could walk up those steps and go through that front door.  Here’s what ‘The Girl I Used to Know’ is about.

 

Book Blurb

Two women. Two very different lives. One unexpected friendship.

Amanda King and Tess Cuffe are strangers who share the same Georgian house, but their lives couldn’t be more different.

Amanda seems to have the perfect life. But the reality is a soulless home, an unfaithful husband and a very lonely heart.

While Tess has spent a lifetime hiding and shutting her heart to love.

But if they can open up to one another, these two women may just learn that sometimes letting go is the first step to moving forward and new friendships can come from the most unlikely situations.

Perfect for fans of Lucy Diamond, Marian Keyes, Rowan Coleman and Veronica Henry.

 

‘The Girl I Used to Know’ is available to buy from:-

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2I0gt5U
Kobo: https://bit.ly/2G3VDAs
Google Play: https://bit.ly/2HYtAEB
iBooks: https://apple.co/2CYr25c

 

About Faith Hogan

Faith lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and two very fussy cats. She has an Hons Degree in English Literature and Psychology, has worked as a fashion model and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.

 

Links

Faith Hogan

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GerHogan

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/faithhoganauthor/

 

Aria Fiction

Website: www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Aria_Fiction

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ariafiction/

Instagram: @ariafiction

Guest Post by Stuart James ~ @StuartJames73

It is a real pleasure to have Stuart James on my blog today.  His new book, ‘Turn The Other Way’ was self-published as an eBook and in paperback in February of this year and boy does it sound amazing or what.  I will most definitely be buying it, that’s for sure.

Stuart has written a guest post for my blog.

~~~~~

I have always loved scary stories, especially ones that shocked me, left me terrified, looking under my bed or in the wardrobe before going to sleep.

There was just a fantastic buzz whenever I watched or read something that took my breath away.

I remember going to my nan’s house in Ireland as a youngster with my mother and sister, on the West Coast, staying in a cottage, surrounded by miles of fields and my family sitting around the table in the kitchen at night telling ghost stories. Going out and exploring derelict farmhouses in the middle of nowhere. I remember clearly the field at the end of the road was supposed to be haunted by headless nuns.

My cousins often remind me of the great times we had, frightening each other and running for our lives whenever we’d see something that didn’t look right.

This is why I love nothing more than to tell a story.

 

I started writing two years ago, penning The House On Rectory Lane.

I got the idea from something that has often seemed scary to me. I know that a terrifying story has to be something that you’re frightened of doing, something that makes the hairs stand on the back of your neck, something that fills you with dread, yet also with excitement.

To me, the thought of going to a house in the middle of nowhere, upping and leaving a busy town and moving to the country is something that scares lots of people and me: the seclusion, the quiet, the darkness.

That’s what inspired me to write my first novel.

 

My second thriller is called Turn The Other Way.

I have multiple stories running, past and present.

A family who want answers from the surgeon responsible for their daughter’s death.

A young woman looking for her parents after they go missing from a party.

A couple driving home and hearing screams for help from the back of the van in front of them.

A serial killer on the loose in North London, dragging victims off the street.

 

I’m so grateful when people not only read my thrillers but also take the time to get in touch and leave a review. To me, that is the greatest feeling, hearing from people that have enjoyed my work. I know then that I’m doing something right.

I’m currently working on my new thriller, Apartment Six, which should be released later this year.

I’m 45, married and have two beautiful children. Currently, I’m a full-time plumber but would love nothing more than to make a living from my writing.

I hope I write stories and people continue to enjoy them for years to come.

That would be completely amazing and a dream come true.

 

Links

‘Turn The Other Way’ is available to buy from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Turn-Other-Way-Stuart-James-ebook/dp/B07MQNYNN1/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1555436293&sr=1-1

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Turn-Other-Way-Stuart-James/dp/1796303976/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=stuart+james&qid=1555437998&s=books&sr=1-1

‘The House on Rectory Lane’ is available to buy from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/House-Rectory-Lane-Stuart-James-ebook/dp/B078585TG1/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/House-Rectory-Lane-Stuart-James-ebook/dp/B078585TG1/ref=sr_1_2

 

Website – http://www.stuartjamesthrillers.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/stuartjamesauthor/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/StuartJames73

Blog Tour – ‘The House on Rosebank Lane’ by Millie Gray ~ #MillieGray @bwpublishing

I am delighted to be kicking off this blog tour.  ‘The House on Rosebank Lane’ is Millie Gray’s tenth novel and it is out today in paperback and as an eBook, published by Black and White Publishing.  I would like to thank the publisher for inviting me to participate in this tour and for my review copy.

You will find out in a minute what I thought about the ‘The House on Rosebank Lane’.  First though, here’s the book blurb.

 

Book Blurb

Leith, 1953. Kirsten Mowat, eighteen years old and with a joyful spring in her step, couldn’t be more in love with her sea-faring sweetheart Duncan Armstrong. But, seven years later after a hasty wedding, a twist of lies and wrenching loss Duncan and Kirsten’s relationship has faded to tatters. When those closest to her turn their backs, Kirsten alone, with a young family to care for must gather all her spirit and strength if they are to survive. From much-loved Millie Gray, The House on Rosebank Lane is an Edinburgh story of families entwined, of sorrow and hopefulness . . . and of a young mother’s love for her children and a transforming quest for happiness.

 

My Review

It has been a while since I have read a book published by Black and White Publishing and what a treat ‘The House on Rosebank Lane’ was. I actually can’t believe that until now I had never picked up any of Millie Gray’s books. I love family sagas and I really liked that this book was based in Leith, Edinburgh. That’s what appealed to me when I first heard about it. I loved the author’s style of writing and the way the story was presented and found it very easy to follow.

Edinburgh will always be a very special place to me. Whilst reading this story I found myself wishing that I had been there in 1953 onwards. I think it would have been wonderful. I recognised quite a few of the streets mentioned and in the past have actually stayed in a hotel in York Place with my husband.

This story had so much packed into it despite not being very long and I felt I got a lot out of it. The one thing I wished would happen did so that really pleased me.

I loved Kirsten from the very start and I felt so sad for the situation she found herself in. She was a tough cookie though who with the help of friends and good advice coped with what life threw at her. I thought Dixie was so adorable and it was tragic what happened when he was doing so well.

‘The House on Rosebank Lane’ will have you hooked. You literally won’t be able to put the book down. I am looking forward to reading so much more by this author.

~~~~~

‘The House on Rosebank Lane’ is available to purchase from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/House-Rosebank-Lane-Millie-Gray/dp/178530223X/

 

About Millie Gray

Millie Gray is a writer and professional storyteller. Her humorous plays attract audiences from all over Scotland and she is much in demand to do workshops and talks about her work. Millie Gray was born and raised in Leith and lives in Edinburgh.

 

Links

Black and White Publishing

Twitter – https://twitter.com/bwpublishing

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/blackandwhitepublishing/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/bwpublishing

 

Interview with Linda MacDonald ~ @LindaMac1

I am thrilled to welcome Linda MacDonald back to my blog.  I really do like the sound of her books and I hope to read them at some stage.

Linda has kindly answered some questions for me about her writing.

 

Firstly, please can you tell me about the types of books you write.

I write Women’s fiction with characters facing real-life relationship issues. Each novel covers different themes, often with a psychological slant.

 

Where did you get the ideas for your books from?

Many ideas come from personal experience or through discussion with friends. For example, the ‘stalking’ theme in The Alone Alternative came about because of a series of threatening nuisance calls I received over a period of months. It transpired they were from the partner of a supermarket delivery driver. She found my phone number on his mobile from a late night call (which happened when a promised late delivery hadn’t turned up) and assumed I was having an affair with him. You couldn’t make it up!

 

Can you relate to any of your characters?

Marianne in Meeting Lydia was bullied as a child when she was one of very few girls in a boys’ prep school. The same thing happened to me and it continued to affect me in later life. Marianne also, like me, found a classmate via Friends Reunited (the only boy in the class who was never horrible to her) and this prompted the exchange of many emails. However, the adult Marianne has a life different from mine and although I share some of her anxieties, she often deals with situations differently from how I would.

 

What do you hope readers get from your books?

Primarily, I hope readers come away feeling that they’ve read something worthwhile and perhaps armed with strategies that will help them navigate some of the difficulties of relationships.

 

When did you first start writing?

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write. But I began my first novel when I finished university and it took me seven years to complete. It was all long-hand drafting in those days – and then typing up on a portable typewriter. I completed a second ‘practice’ novel when I was in my thirties. However, the published ‘Lydia’ series only began in 2001, after the chance meeting on the internet gave me an idea of how to create a work of fiction inspired by my experiences of school bullying. It was a theme that had bubbled quietly in the background all of my adult life, but I didn’t have a plot until I met ‘Lydia’ again.

 

Have you got plans to write anymore books?

What began as a single book has now become a series of four – although each also stands independently. The teenagers in Meeting Lydia are now young adults and I’m currently writing snippets about the life of one of them – and considering whether to develop them into a novella. And there is also a secret from my second book – A Meeting of a Different Kind – that only 3 people know. If the truth is discovered, there will be potentially dire repercussions. This may form the basis of a full-length novel but is as yet in embryonic form.

 

All in all what has the publishing process been like?

A rollercoaster of highs and lows, hopes and dreams, toil, persistence, determination and some wonderful people who’ve helped me along the way, in particular those I’ve met via social media.

 

Who designed the wonderful covers?

Three out of four of my covers were designed by the amazing young artist Matthew Fall McKenzie.

 

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to write their first novel?

Be passionate about the subject matter and write because you want to write, not because you have expectations of sales and fortune. It is increasingly difficult to make money as a writer – so don’t give up the day job. Think ‘North Pole’: one step after another and you will eventually get there. Turn off the rubbish on TV and write a hundred words. Very often, once you do that, you will write a hundred more.

 

About Linda MacDonald

Linda MacDonald is the author of four independently published novels: Meeting Lydia and the stand-alone sequels, A Meeting of a Different Kind, The Alone Alternative and The Man in the Needlecord Jacket. They are all contemporary adult fiction, multi-themed, but with a focus on relationship issues.

After studying psychology at Goldsmiths’ London, Linda trained as a secondary science and biology teacher. She taught these subjects for several years before moving to a sixth-form college to teach psychology. In 2012, she gave up teaching to focus fully on writing.

Linda was born and brought up in Cockermouth, on the edge of the Lake District in Cumbria and now lives in Beckenham in south east London.

 

Links

Linda MacDonald’s books can be purchased from:-

Amazon UK – https://amzn.to/2I7We6j

Amazon US – https://amzn.to/2IjHNLD

Troubador – https://www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/contemporary/meeting-lydia-5079/

 

Twitter – https://twitter.com/LindaMac1

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/LindaMacDonaldAuthor/

Blog Tour – ‘After the Funeral’ by Gillian Poucher ~ @RedDoorBooks @GillianPoucher


I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off this blog tour.  ‘After the Funeral’ is being published in paperback and as an eBook on the 11th April 2019 by RedDoor Publishing.  I would like to thank the publisher for inviting me to participate and for my review copy.

You will find out in a minute what I thought about ‘After the Funeral’.  First though, the blurb.

 


Book Blurb

You don’t know me but I know you

When a stranger approaches Julia Butler at her mother’s funeral and hints at a disturbing family secret, her life is turned upside down.

Who is this woman and how does she know so much about Julia’s life?

Grief-stricken, Julia finds her well-ordered life unravelling and her relationships in turmoil. As the mystery around the stranger deepens, she must not only make peace with those around her, but with the ghosts from her past to find hope for the future.

After the Funeral is a gripping debut novel which explores the complex relationships between three generations of women with sensitivity and compassion.

 

My Review

Wow! Are you sure this is really a debut novel? I can’t believe it myself. I loved the cover of the book and thought it to be very haunting. This was such a dark and disturbing read and it had me gripped from the start. I liked the style of writing, the descriptions and the diary entries from the Second World War, which I thought were a good idea. They made for intriguing reading. I also really liked the storyline itself and where it was heading.

I met some very interesting characters along the way. Poor Julia. Not only had she just bid farewell to mother, she was also still getting over the break up of her relationship. So when a stranger turned up at her mother’s funeral and said she was related, Julia didn’t really know what to think. Linda seemed to have a lot of information about her which naturally caused unease.

I really didn’t know what to make of Linda and had my suspicions about her. It did seem strange that Julia’s mother hadn’t told her about Linda at all. There had to have been a good reason why she had omitted to mention her.

I worked out quite a few things even before they came to light, but that didn’t put me off at all. It was like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle. All the pieces eventually came together with some huge shockers along the way.

I really thought it was a shame that Julia’s mother didn’t live to tell the story herself. I guess that’s what the diaries were for though.

‘After the Funeral’ is a beautiful and tragic tale of love, loss and family. I look forward to more from this author.

~~~~~

‘After the Funeral’ can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/After-Funeral-Gillian-Poucher/dp/1910453765/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1554533362&sr=8-3-fkmrnull

 

About Gillian Poucher

Gillian Poucher was born in Bolton, England. Reading and writing were passions from an early age.

After studying History at undergraduate level, Gillian worked as a Solicitor before training as a church minister. She was ordained into the United Reformed Church in 2006 and completed her PhD in Biblical Studies in 2013.

Gillian lives in Lincolnshire with her husband and daughter and far too many books! After The Funeral is her first novel and fulfils that childhood ambition.

 

Links

Website – https://www.gillianpoucherauthor.co.uk/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/GillianPoucherAuthor/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/GillianPoucher

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/Gillian_Poucher

 

Guest Post by Jennifer Wineberg ~ @JenniferWinebe1

I would like to introduce you all to Jennifer Wineberg.  Her debut novel, ‘Ruskin’s Copper Shadow’ was published as an eBook in February of this year.

Jennifer has written a fascinating post all about her book which I hope you enjoy reading as much as I did.

~~~~~

Thank you Sonya for giving me this wonderful opportunity to share my first book with the readers on your blog.

If you are seeking answers to the quandaries of contemporary living, or worse still if you yearn to be dragged through a narrative that leaves you exhausted and fraught, this is not the book for you.  However, if you would prefer to tiptoe back to Victorian England, to discover betrayal and heartache lurking behind the silver and polishing, come with me.

Imagine the clock ticking in the Grand Dining Room of Wallington Hall a stately home in the wilds of Northumberland and the Mistress of the house is sitting in a chair staring at a painting.  A pretty girl sits demurely in the corner of the canvas and the sunlight dapples across her beautiful porcelain skin as her keen amber eyes stare out at her.  Pauline Trevelyan the Mistress of the Hall wishes she had never met her.  As the daughter of a shepherd on her estate she had chosen her to be a model for the artist, but it was when Pauline appointed her as a servant that the trouble began.

When this girl fell pregnant in 1865 Pauline was desperate to protect her close friend John Ruskin from scandal.  After all, he had just lost his father and a decade earlier had undergone the humiliation of being divorced by his wife for non-consummation of his marriage.  But he wasn’t alone.  Pauline knew all about non-consummation.  Her own arid marriage was brought into sharp relief by the lives of her Pre-Raphaelite artist friends and her Northumbrian poet Swinburne.  She was not about to let this relationship be undermined by the sudden arrival of my Great Grandmother especially as she suspected that Ruskin had developed a deep affection towards her mother Isabella.

Pauline Trevelyan knew she was a little bit in love with Ruskin and because of his reliance on her as an advisor throughout his divorce and his father’s death, she persuaded Ruskin to leave Isabella, leaving the path clear for Pauline to manipulate the birth records and destroy evidence of the relationship.

Pauline wasn’t the only person to be fascinated by the picture in her Grand Dining Hall.  Almost 150 years later I found myself gazing at it too.  I was struck by the similarity between the same girl that Pauline was fixated upon, and my late Aunt Mabel.  Convinced that this young lady was part of my family tree I spent time in Northumberland Museums, as well as accessing computer based genealogy platforms.

Seven years later, I had amassed enough information to allow me to make a close observation of the historical characters. This in turn, gave me the opportunity to provide a credible interpretation of events enhanced by the narrative characters I had created.

My main protagonists are Isabella Milburn – the girl in the picture – and John Ruskin the great writer and social reformer.  The tale is told through the eyes of a Northumbrian Canon who acts as a metaphor for Ruskin, with the same impetuous desire to right social wrongs.  He finds his own love in Rosalind who is just as feisty and headstrong as Isabella and who bears him a child in similar circumstances to Ruskin.  It is likely that Ruskin took the memories of my Great Great Grandmother with him to the grave, and as we celebrate the Bicentenary of Ruskin’s birth I would like to raise a glass with you, to the man and his lover, Isabella Milburn.

 

About the Author

Jennifer was born in Newcastle on Tyne and her ancestors are rooted in Northumberland.  She is a committed author who is currently writing her third book.  ‘Ruskin’s Copper Shadow,’ is her debut publication.

It was a long journey to the printed page through a career in teaching to managing an upmarket B&B, where the guests provided the inspiration for many of the characters.

Jennifer manages to combine writing with sailing around the Solent with her family in her old boat.  Her husband Stuart dances with apostrophes and full stops in an attempt to turn her books into readable formats.  She keeps fit by helping her daughter with her dog walking business and is secretary of the Village Hall Committee in Mottisfont, a little village north of Romsey.  She has a love hate relationship with the compiler of the Financial Times Crossword and supports Newcastle United Football Club.

 

Links

‘Ruskin’s Copper Shadow’ can be purchased from:-

http://Books2read.com/coppershadow

Twitter – https://twitter.com/JenniferWinebe1

 

Blog Tour – ‘The House at Greenacres’ by Darcie Boleyn ~ @canelo_co @DarcieBoleyn

‘The House at Greenacres’ by Darcie Boleyn was published as an eBook on the 25th March 2019 by Canelo.  I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for this book and would like to thank Ellie Pilcher of Canelo for inviting me to participate and for my review copy.

You will find out exactly what I thought about this book in a minute.  First though, here’s the blurb.

 

Book Blurb

All roads lead home…

When Holly Dryden fled Penhallow Sands nearly a year ago she was determined to put the past – and Rich Turner – behind her. But now an unexpected loss and financial trouble has led her back to the family vineyard and it’s time to tell Rich the truth – he’s a father.

Surrounded by the memories of what they once shared Holly’s anger fades in the glow of Rich’s undeniable love for their son and the way he selflessly steps in to help the vineyard out of trouble. As Holly watches Rich flourish in his new role as father to baby Luke, she realises that though they can’t change the past, the future is still theirs to write…

An uplifting, emotional romance set in Cornwall perfect for fans of Holly Martin and Phillipa Ashley

 

My Review

This book was full of gorgeousness; from the cover which reminded me of a lovely summer’s day to the story itself. I absolutely loved Darcie Boleyn’s style of writing and I really did not want to have to put my kindle down. This was such a relaxing and uplifting read and it ticked all the right boxes for me.

The author’s descriptions of Greenacres were simply divine. I wanted to be there exploring the house, the vineyard and the fields and drinking plenty of wine.

I thought that the characters were wonderful. There wasn’t one that I didn’t like. At times I almost felt as if I was with them. Some of the things Holly’s granny came out with were just hilarious. I thought she coped extremely well after losing her husband. Holly’s granny was such a lovely soul.

Whether Holly decided to stay at Greenacres or return to Exeter, she had to talk to Rich, her ex-boyfriend. He needed to know the truth, that he was a father. Where they would go from there though she really didn’t know. As the days and weeks went by Holly found herself enjoying life at Penhalllow Sands. She had lots of love and support from her family, plus Rich took to fatherhood really well. He absolutely doted on Luke which was nice to see.

Financial troubles at the vineyard helped Holly to make an important decision. She would inherit Greenacres one day and she didn’t want to see its demise. There surely had to be a way to make the vineyard viable.

I don’t want to tell you how the story ended, but suffice to say it was what I wished for and more.

‘The House at Greenacres’ has all the right ingredients. It really is the ideal book to read if you’ve had a bad day. Darcie Boleyn is a wonderful writer and I will definitely be reading more of her books.

~~~~~

‘The House at Greenacres’ is available to purchase from:-

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

 

About Darcie Boleyn

Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

 

Links

Twitter – https://twitter.com/DarcieBoleyn

 

Interview with Samantha Priestley ~ @sampriestley

I am thrilled to have Samantha Priestley on my blog today.  Her new book, ‘Rose Villa’ is out in paperback and as an eBook on the 29th March 2019, published by ASJ Publishing.

Samantha has kindly answered some questions for me.  I hope you enjoy reading this interview.

 

Firstly, can you tell me about your new novel.

It’s called Rose Villa and is about a house that was cursed on being built in 1843. I wanted to write a book where the house itself becomes a character along with the people who live in it. In Rose Villa the curse affects everyone who comes into contact with the house and ultimately drives them mad. I also wanted to write about how social media and technology allows us to present a version of ourselves we want others to believe, and that we never really know anyone fully.

How long did it take you to write it?

Gosh, ages! A first draft usually takes me around 3 months, but with this one I went back and re-wrote whole sections of it and shifted quite a lot from my original draft, so the re-writes probably took me closer to 3 years!

 

Can you relate to any of the characters in your book?

Yes, I can probably relate to most of them in one or another. The main female character, Kirsty, is a bit of a passenger in her own life until she’s forced into taking action, but I think a lot of us do go through life allowing things to happen until one day we are faced with something that makes us wake up.

 

You answer the door to find one of your characters standing on the doorstep. What would your first reaction be?

Depends which one it is! I’d probably be quite alarmed, and not only because a character I’d written was on my doorstep! Most of my characters are a bit…unstable, so I’d probably be worried about where this was going and what they might do!

 

What do you hope readers will get from your book?

I suppose I was trying to make a point about our connections to others and how we assume we know someone just because we’ve known them a long time or we spend a lot of time with them, or because we spend time with them online, when really we don’t. I’m endlessly fascinated by people and people lie about who they are all the time, even if it’s only in small ways. But mostly I want people to enjoy the story. If readers just enjoy reading the book, I’ve done my job!

 

Do you have any other writing projects on the go?

Yes, I’ve just finished writing my first non fiction book for Pen and Sword Books, The History of Gibbeting, and I also write plays. I have a play, The Devil is in the Timing, on at The Bread and Roses Theatre in London 2-6 April (come along!). I’m working on a couple of novels and I’m working with another theatre producer on my next play.

 

Will you be doing any book signings?

I am, yes! I’ll be signing at W H Smith in Sheffield on 30th March and at W H Smith Meadowhall (date to be confirmed). I’ll also be at the Derby Book festival Book fair on Saturday 8th June.

 

Did you always want to write?

When I was growing up I always thought I’d do art, though I did always write. I just didn’t think writing was something ordinary people did. It was only when I worked for Blackwells bookshop and met a few authors that I realised some of them are actually ordinary people! I think it was when I worked at the bookshop that I realised I wanted to be on the other side of the business. I wanted to be writing the books rather than selling them. I don’t think I’d thought of it as a job before then, or as a possibility.

 

How has social media helped you?

Social media is great for getting your name out there and for reaching people, but it can also be a massive time drain! I used to be much more active on social media than I am now. I try to keep up, but the busier I get with work then less time I have for checking social media. I think in your early days it is hugely helpful, but you have to be careful you don’t get too sucked in by it! I have met a lot of fantastic people and made some important contacts through social media, so it’s very useful for that. And of course, it can be a lot of fun.

 

What has the publishing process been like?

I’m published by various independent presses, so it does differ depending who is dealing with it, but on the whole I’ve found it to a very positive experience. The more experienced editors are more brutal, but once you’ve got over the initial shock of opening up the manuscript to see line after line of red notes, it’s actually quite satisfying. You certainly come out with a better book after a thorough edit. The most exciting bit is still holding the physical copy at the end of it all. I love seeing the cover designs and how the inside is laid out. The finished product always makes all the time and effort worth it.

 

What advice have you got for anyone wanting to write their first novel?

You need a lot of patience and you must be able to take criticism and rejection. The first novel I ever wrote was awful, but I took every piece of advice every agent and publisher ever gave me when they read it, and I learned from it. It’s a slow process at times, but writing is all about experience. The most important advice is to read a lot, write a lot and submit a lot. That’s the only way you’re really going to learn how to do this and make a success of it.

 

What do you like doing in your spare time?

I like going for walks, going to the cinema and eating out, shopping with my daughters, and simple things like cooking and watching endless crime documentaries! And I love a good stately home tour. ‘Spare time’ is a weird concept when you write for a living. There isn’t a lot of it and when there is you’re usually still working in your head. I do love seeing new places and discovering new things. My partner always jokes what a tourist I am wherever we go, but I still get excited about seeing places I’ve never been before.

 

Approximately how many books do you read a year?

Oh, nowhere near enough! I’m a really slow reader. Literally everybody I know reads more than me. I struggle to make one a month, it’s nearer one every two months, so I’d have to say a miserable six a year. I used to read a lot more than I do now and I’m always trying to make time for it.

 

Book Blurb

Rose Villa has held a curse in its bricks since 1843, and the Yorkshire village it stands in has held the secret of a murder since 1987. In 2007, Jonathan and Kirsty meet on Facebook twenty years after they last saw each other and Kirsty visits Jonathan in his home, Rose Villa, only to find the house has affected him and he’s no longer the person she once knew.

In 1843 in a Yorkshire village two gypsy women are evicted from their home by men planning to build new houses. The youngest gypsy, Matilda, curses the land, anything built on it, and those who live there.

In 2007 Jonathan is coming to terms with his girlfriend leaving him and Kirsty is facing the break-up of her marriage. Old school friends, and former boyfriend and girlfriend, the two meet again on Facebook and Jonathan invites Kirsty to his house, Rose Villa. Rose Villa was built on the cursed land and has caused its inhabitants over the years to go mad and become violent.

When Kirsty goes to Jonathan’s house he talks about his girlfriend in an increasingly resentful way. Kirsty begins to remember the last time she was in this village, 20 years ago, when she came to find her grandmother’s grave. That day she saw a girl crying over a letter down behind the church, and she met an older woman in the graveyard who seemed to know Kirsty.

Kirsty is finding Jonathan’s behaviour more and more erratic and he doesn’t seem like the same person she knew twenty years ago. She asks his neighbour, Mrs Daniels, what she knows about Kirsty’s family, and she receives a shock, and a warning.

Back in 1987 violence lay beneath the surface in Rose Villa and on the day Kirsty was in the village all those years ago, it finally found its way out.

Jonathan is getting more unstable and as Rose Villa takes over completely, dark secrets emerge from its walls and from Jonathan.

~~~~~

Rose Villa’ can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rose-Villa-Samantha-Priestley/dp/0648477126/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=samantha+priestley&qid=1553351306&s=gateway&sr=8-3

 

About Samantha Priestley

Samantha is a writer based in Sheffield, England. She won the H E Bates competition and The Tacchi-Morris Prize for short stories. Her chapbooks, Dreamers and Orange Balloon, are published by Folded Word. Her novels Reliability of Rope and A Bad Winter, are published by Armley Press and her latest novel, Rose Villa, is published by ASJ. She has also written two plays, Greenwood and The Devil is in the Timing, to be staged this year.

 

Links

Website – www.samanthapriestley.co.uk

Facebook:-

https://www.facebook.com/samantha.priestley.1

https://www.facebook.com/Samantha-Priestley-68196846263/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/sampriestley

Instagram – @sampriestleybooks

 

‘The Girl Across the Street’ by Vikki Patis ~ @bookouture @PatisVikki

‘The Girl Across the Street’ was published as an eBook on the 8th March 2019 by Bookouture and is also available in paperback and audiobook.  I received my review copy of this book via NetGalley and would like to thank the publisher for approving my request.

I cannot wait to tell you exactly what I thought about this book.  First though here’s the blurb.

 

Book Blurb

You’re hiding a secret that only she can see.

Her name is Beth. She came into my life when I needed her the most. We lead very different lives, but she’s the only person who understands me.

She was the only other witness to the terrible accident on the street between our homes. The only person who saw the cracks in my perfect life before I had the chance to cover them up.

It’s been so long since I’ve had a friend. Someone to talk to, to listen to, to laugh and dream with.

Beth would never do anything to hurt me.

She only wants what’s best for me, for my marriage.

Doesn’t she?

An unputdownable psychological suspense thriller that will grip you until the very last page. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and The Couple Next Door.

 

My Review

Having read the description of this book and really liking the sound of it, I was thrilled when my request to read it was approved. The prologue was just so intriguing and I soon found myself totally absorbed. I loved the author’s style of writing and the way the story was set out.

The chapters were narrated by two of the main characters, Isla and Beth, which I thought worked really well. Beth didn’t have a very easy life at all. She slogged away trying to make ends meet whilst her lazy boyfriend didn’t work or even help out around the home. I did feel for her and thought it was a shame that she was trapped in this situation. Isla on the other hand seemed to have it all, but first appearances can be deceptive as I was about to find out.

The accident seemed to bring Isla and Beth together and an unlikely friendship developed. They got on so well and it was nice to see them happy. Isla hadn’t had a friend in a long time and it was good that she was going out a bit more. All appeared to be well. Or was it? By this point my intuition was telling me that something wasn’t quite right and I really couldn’t wait to see how the story developed.

Beth seemed to genuinely care about Isla and wanted to help her, but things were never going to be that easy were they. Oh no, not with Jake around. He acted like he owned Isla and he wasn’t going to let her go anywhere.

‘The Girl Across the Street’ is a dark and gripping psychological thriller which will keep you reading. I personally didn’t want it to end.

I cannot wait to read more by this author and I will definitely be buying myself a copy of ‘The Diary’.

~~~~~

‘The Girl Across the Street’ is available to purchase from:-

Amazon UK – https://amzn.to/2Wn1JkK

Amazon US – https://amzn.to/2JDA3q3

About Vikki Patis

Vikki Patis is the author of psychological thrillers THE DIARY and THE GIRL ACROSS THE STREET, published by Bookouture. She is also the author of WELTANSCHAUUNG, a self-published short story collection, and her BSc dissertation, I INK, THEREFORE I AM, was published by Lambert Publishing in 2016.

When she isn’t writing or working as a Regulatory & Compliance Manager, she can usually be found drinking tea, baking cakes, or taking walks in the Hertfordshire countryside. She lives with her partner and two cats.

 

Links

Website – http://www.vikkipatis.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/vikkipatis

Twitter – https://twitter.com/PatisVikki

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15340101.Vikki_Patis

 

Guest Post by Angelena Boden ~ @matadorbooks

I am delighted to welcome the lovely Angelena Boden back to my blog.  Her latest book, ‘Edna’s Death Cafe’ was published last September as an eBook by Matador and it has been getting quite a few good reviews.

Angelena has written a post about the fear of dying for my blog.  There is also the chance to win copies of the book.  First though, lets take a look at what ‘Edna’s Death Cafe’ is about.

 

Book Blurb

As in life, death is not without its agenda. This is something seventy-nine year old Edna Reid finds out when her partner, Ted, suddenly dies.

To cope with her loss, she sets up a Death Cafe to break down the taboo around death and to encourage other members of the community to discuss it openly. Over tea and cake, the participants hide their fears behind a veil of dark humour.

Religious fanaticism clashes with Victorian spiritualism as Edna’s meetings trigger lively conversations on the fragility of life, anxiety over dying, cost of funerals, and making sure long-lost greedy relatives don’t benefit from inheritances.

Soon, a series of events begin to unfold which threaten to undermine Edna’s livelihood and the Death Cafe meetings. These events just happen to coincide with the arrival of a mysterious stranger into the village.

Who is she and why is she so hostile to Edna?

~~~~~

‘Edna’s Death Cafe’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://amzn.to/2Q046aN

 

Guest Post

THANATOPHOBIA – The Fear of Dying

Death isn’t something we like to talk about. If it pops up in conversation we suddenly find the floor covering very interesting. In researching for my new book, Edna’s Death Cafe I talked to many people about how they feel about death, particularly their own, and the response was the same – they didn’t want to think about it because it made them feel anxious. I can relate to that as I suffered for a long time with a similar affliction which verged on panic, usually in the early hours of the morning.

I would spring out of bed, grabbing my throat, unable to swallow or breathe. Breathing into a paper bag or my cupped hands helped to calm the nervous system enough to make a cup of tea and put things back into proportion.

Now in my sixties I’ve experienced many losses as you would expect.  When my father died a few years ago, I realised on a very conscious level that I would be next in line (according to the natural order of things). It’s a sobering thought.

I became obsessed with everything to do with the dying process, funerals, body disposal and the age old question of whether consciousness really continues. I read voraciously the stories of near death experiences, the works of doctors such as Pym Van Lommel and Raymond Moody. My mind was having great difficulty in accepting that death was the end – hence the anxiety. I no longer had control over my life at that point.

For two years it made living in the moment impossible.  Every waking thought was controlled by the ‘horror’ that one day I was going to be no more – such is the power of the ego. I thought I was going crazy but death anxiety is very, real and very common.

In trying to avoid my own premature death I took ridiculous precautions.  Germs were monsters and my hands became raw from scrubbing them clean. I feared leaving the house in case a bus happened to mount the pavement and squash me. Everything I did had to be risk assessed until I found myself sobbing in front of my doctor. Fortunately she was understanding and suggested something to calm me down as well as a grief counsellor who was trained in this field.

My condition was exacerbated by the fact I had post- traumatic stress syndrome which, despite therapy, was recurring especially when under stress. Death of a loved one is the number one stressor so my thought processes were understandable.

As well as these excellent therapies which help sort out the muddle between the rational and irrational I discovered my own path through the nightmare.

I trained as a funeral celebrant which put me in contact with the fundamentals of the dying process and of course with grieving relatives. I had to be the strong one and keep things together for the families. My work desensitised me to the fear of dying but strengthened my new belief that you can die well following a fulfilling life. Being at a burial site or in a crematorium for the final goodbye is a privilege but also provides a form of exposure therapy. It’s the fear of the unknown that gives the demons something to play with.

Writing about those things that make us anxious can be healing. My novel, inspired by the international death café movement provided succour and support. Through the main character Edna, an octogenarian who sets a good example of how to celebrate life we learn how we can talk about this last taboo. I think we need to name it properly: – death, dying and dead as opposed to the many euphemisms we use to lessen the impact of the reality.

We might not wear black or cover the clocks and mirrors as the Victorians did or have a religious belief – many funerals result in natural burials in woodlands – but we need to allow ourselves to mourn and not stiffen the upper lip or maintain a dry eye when someone kindly asks us how we are doing.

The only way to get through grief is through that painful, but necessary act of grieving, in our own time and at our own pace. We need to allow ourselves to feel the tidal wave of emotions knowing that we won’t drown. Grief doesn’t mean neglecting everything and everyone or shutting ourselves away in a darkened room. It means nurturing yourself with good food, fresh air, walks in nature and slowing down to appreciate that we’ve been lucky to be given this opportunity to experience life in all its glory.

The best things we can do for ourselves when faced with crippling anxiety over our eventual demise is to learn to relax. Yoga, gentle exercise, breathing exercises, meditation all help. When things get overwhelming, you can focus on counting backwards or reciting a bit of poetry – whatever will distract your mind from the mental pain.

So if you can relate to any of these feelings, don’t despair. You are normal and it will get easier.  ‘Sometimes a bit of humour can really help too. This is what Mark Twain had to say,   ‘I do not fear death: I had been dead for billions of years before I was born and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.’

 

Competition

Angelena is giving away 4 eBook copies of ‘Edna’s Death Cafe’.  2 lucky winners will receive their book via Amazon UK and 2 will receive an iBooks code.  To enter just leave a comment and let me know how you would prefer to receive your book.

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 31st March 2019.

Winners will be randomly chosen within 7 days of the closing date and their email addresses will be sent to Angelena Boden.

 

About Angelena Boden

Angelena Boden has spent thirty-five years as an international training consultant, specialising in behavioural management and conflict resolution. She trained in Transactional Analysis, the psychology of communication and behaviour, her preferred tool for counselling and coaching.

She originates from the Peak District which is where her new book is set. Angelena has spent a life time travelling and living in places as far apart as Vancouver, Dubai, Paris, Seville and Iran. Now semi-retired in Worcestershire, she writes every morning, walks the hills and paints landscapes, fitting family and reading in between.

Angelena is writing stories for her new grandson about a little dachshund called Digger who is a very special sort of detective!

She is the author of two traditionally published novels and many articles and blogs.

Her most recent novel, Edna’s Death Cafe is published as an e-book by Matador. A new Edna Investigates will be available for Christmas 2019.

Angelena is keen to meet readers, old and new, and is available for book talks, events, and always chatting over a cuppa (within 60 miles of Worcester).

 

Links

Website – http://angelenaboden.com/

 

Cover Reveal – ‘A Wanted Man’ and ‘Morte Point’ by Rob Parker ~ #LoveBooksGroupTours #BenBracken @LoveBooksGroup @robparkerauthor @EndeavourQuill

Have I got a treat for all of you today or what!  Rob Parker’s covers for his books, ‘A Wanted Man’, the first in the Ben Bracken series and ‘Morte Point’, the second book in the Ben Bracken series, both of which have been published in paperback and as eBooks by Endeavour Quill, have had a makeover and they look absolutely fabulous.

Together with a few other book bloggers I am helping to share them for Kelly Lacey of Love Books Group, the author and the publisher.

Right, are you ready to see them?

Was that a YES??

Are you sure???

Okay, I won’t keep you waiting any longer…….

 

Book Blurb

It’s down to fathers and fatherhood.

Ben Bracken, ex-soldier, has just got out of Strangeways.

Not by the front door.

With him, he has his ‘insurance policy’ – a bag of evidence that will guarantee his freedom, provided he can keep it safe – and he has money, carefully looked after by a friend, Jack Brooker.

Rejected by the army, disowned by his father, and any hopes of parenthood long since shattered, Ben has no anchors in his life.

No one to keep him steady.

No one to stop his cause…

The plan: to wreak justice on the man who had put him in prison in the first place.

Terry ‘The Turn-Up’ Masters, a nasty piece of work, whose crime organisation is based in London.

But before Ben can get started on his mission, another matter is brought to his attention: Jack’s father has been murdered and he will not rest until the killers are found.

Suddenly, Ben finds himself drawn in to helping Jack in his quest for revenge.

In the process, he descends into the fold of Manchester’s most notorious crime organisation – the Berg – the very people he wants to bring down…

This action-packed and fast-paced story will keep you turning the pages. Manchester is vividly portrayed as Ben races around the city seeking vengeance.

~~~~~

‘A Wanted Man’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B072333TYM?pf_rd_p=71cb17e9-f468-4d3f-94d5-a0de44c50a7e&pf_rd_r=1T3VSCZ1Q6NCZSHXQXSH

 

Book Blurb

Morte Point is a wonderful spot for a holiday. Only that’s not why Ben Bracken is here.

He’s here because in this sleepy part of England, events are now unfolding that could cause death and mayhem, and not just for the unfortunates in the plane that has just crashed into the sea off the North Devon coast.

Sent to locate the source of the problem, ex-soldier and patriot Ben finds himself both hunter and hunted. But who is after him, and why do they want to capture him so desperately?

It’s only when, on the edge of physical and mental exhaustion, he meets a young Kosovan microbiologist, that he begins to understand the scale of the plot he has been drawn into, and the weight of responsibility that the authorities have placed on his shoulders. So it’s probably just as well they don’t know about his slightly shady past.

But then, as Ben is rapidly finding out, those in authority aren’t always what they seem, either.

Morte Point is an original, non-stop action tale with twists and turns that will keep you enthralled from start to finish, and a memorable lead character who is far from the typical action hero. Fans of Lee Child and Andy McNab will be hooked!

~~~~~

‘Morte Point’ is available to purchase from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Morte-Point-explosive-thriller-Bracken-ebook/dp/B07F8ZNR2G/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

Coming Soon….

 

About Rob Parker

Robert Parker is a married father of three, who lives in a village near Manchester, UK. The author of the Ben Bracken books A Wanted Man and Morte Point, and the standalone post-Brexit country-noir Crook’s Hollow, he enjoys a rural life on an old pig farm (now minus pigs), writing horrible things between school runs.

He writes full time, as well as organising and attending various author events across the UK – while boxing regularly for charity. Passionate about inspiring a love of the written word in young people, he spends a lot of time in schools across the North West, encouraging literacy, story-telling, creative-writing and how good old fashioned hard work tends to help good things happen.

 

Links

Author

Twitter – https://twitter.com/robparkerauthor

Publisher

Twitter – https://twitter.com/EndeavourQuill

Book Launch – ‘Crossing the Line’ by Laura Wilkinson ~ @ScorpioScribble @AccentPress

Big congratulations to Laura Wilkinson whose book, ‘Crossing the Line’ (previously called ‘Public Battles, Private Wars’) is out today in paperback, published by Accent Press.  I just love that cover.

I read ‘Public Battles, Private Wars’ a few years ago and am posting my review again.  First though lets look at what ‘Crossing the Line’ is about.

 

Book Blurb

Miner’s wife Mandy Walker lives a quiet life. She’s hopeless at everything apart from looking after her boys and baking. Life is fine.

But she knows it could be better.

Her husband’s a drinker and best friend Ruth is busy with a teaching career. Mandy dreams of a different life – an impossible, unachievable life. Only Ruth’s husband Dan believes in her and, after serving during the Falklands war, he’s damaged.

But when the men come out on strike, Mandy joins a support group. She finds friends and strength in surprising places. And secrets and enemies where she least expected them.

Mandy must decide which side of the line to stand on and determine her fate.

 

My Review

‘Crossing the Line’ is set in Yorkshire, Fenley Down in the 1980’s, and tells the story of the miners’ strike.

Mandy is 23 years old, married to Rob who works in the mines, and has children.  Mandy feels as if she is stuck in a rut and wants to do more.  However, a life as a housewife and bringing up the children seems inevitable.  Mandy’s childhood friend, Ruth, who left Fenley years ago, returns with her Falkland’s war hero husband, Dan.  But something just doesn’t add up and Ruth isn’t the person she appears to be.

Conflict with the Coal Board turns to war and the men go out on strike.  The community and its whole way of life is badly threatened and Mandy finds herself joining the Fenley Action Group (FAG) which gives her a whole lot of confidence.  As the strike goes on relationships are tested and Mandy discovers just who her true friends are.

This book is just so different from Laura Wilkinson’s debut novel.  I really enjoyed it and I liked her writing style.  I could actually hear the Yorkshire accent.  Whilst this story was about the miners’ strike it also took a good look at the people affected by it and their families, bringing with it a couple of interesting plots.

Mandy was one of my favourite characters.  She was of strong character no matter what life threw at her and a woman to be admired.  The cakes she baked and the descriptions throughout the book are enough to make anyone’s mouth water.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

~~~~~

‘Crossing the Line’ is available to purchase from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crossing-Line-Laura-Wilkinson/dp/1786157381/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1552505894&sr=1-5&keywords=laura+wilkinson

 

About Laura Wilkinson

Laura Wilkinson is a feminist and lover of ginger hair. A resident of an unfashionable quarter of Brighton, she likes to write stories which entertain and provide food for thought. Her novels are Crossing the Line, The Family Line, Redemption Song and Skin Deep. Her work has been described variously as ‘compelling’, ‘poignant’, and ‘emotional’. Alongside writing, she works as an editor and mentor, and speaks at events nationwide. She has a passion for fashion and anything which glitters. In another life, she’d make a good magpie.

 

Links

Website – http://laura-wilkinson.co.uk/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ScorpioScribble

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/laurawilkinsonwriter

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7170702.Laura_Wilkinson

Book Review – ‘A Letter From Sarah’ by Dan Proops ~ @urbanebooks @Dan_Proops

‘A Letter From Sarah’ is being published in paperback and as an eBook on the 7th March 2019 by Urbane Publications.  I would like to thank the publisher for my review copy of this book.

You will find out in a minute what I thought about ‘A Letter From Sarah’.  First though, here is the blurb.

 

Book Blurb

Adam’s sister, Sarah, has been missing for seven years, but he hasn’t given up hope of finding her. He is a sculptor and lives with his bedridden father who is a bully and a curmudgeon.

One morning, as the anniversary of Sarah’s disappearance nears, Adam receives a letter from her and she is apparently alive and well, living in New York. Adam travels to Brooklyn to search for Sarah as he’s desperate to see her, but she seems determined to avoid him.

Sarah’s letters arrive weekly, but she continues to remain elusive. Adam is perplexed by Sarah’s requests for secrecy, as is his father and his girlfriend, Cassandra.

He is determined to find her, whatever the cost to his wellbeing, health and sanity….

 

My Review

I really liked the sound of this book and was looking forward to reading it. The author has written a beautiful and poignant story. I found it to be very thought provoking and different to other books I have read.

When Adam received a letter from Sarah out of the blue I really wanted to believe that it was from her. It seemed too good to be true though. After all he hadn’t heard from her at all in the past seven years. But then as the letters started arriving regularly I had no doubt that they were from her, especially with the things she was mentioning in them. Like Adam, I found myself eagerly awaiting the next letter from Sarah and I hoped that one day she would say she wanted to meet up with him.

There were some interesting characters in this story. I liked how the author portrayed them along with their flaws. I really wasn’t very keen on Adam’s friend at all and felt he took advantage of things. Yes, he had problems but the way he behaved wasn’t great.

As I was reading this book I had a number of questions going through my mind. Something just didn’t add up and I was right. I have to say I never expected the story to unfold as it did though and was quite shocked.

‘A Letter From Sarah’ deals with many issues including loss, family and mental health. It will not let go of you even when you put the book down and you will find yourself thinking about it often and wondering what is going to happen next. This is not a story that you will be likely to forget either.

I look forward to more from this author.

~~~~~

‘A Letter From Sarah’ can be pre-ordered from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Letter-Sarah-Dan-Proops/dp/1912666219/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1551723199&sr=8-1&keywords=a+letter+from+sarah

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Letter-Sarah-Dan-Proops/dp/1912666219/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=a+letter+from+sarah&qid=1551723262&s=gateway&sr=8-3

 

About Dan Proops


Dan Proops has been a full time writer for six years and has completed four novels and a memoir. Previous to this he was a professional artist, organising a one man show at the age of fourteen. He has had many exhibitions over a long career and his artwork was purchased by internationally acclaimed art dealer, Eric Franck. His artwork appeared frequently in the national press and his painting was featured in Image of the Week in the Times. One of his exhibitions was previewed in the Telegraph by columnist Colin Gleadell.

Dan is a Twitter influencer and has a following of 22,000; last year 1.2 million people read his tweets, and he currently attends the advanced writing class at Morley College, run by the renowned radio four dramatist Mike Walker. Dan Proops is also the grandson of legendary advice columnist, Marjorie Proops. He lives and works in London.

 

Links

Website – http://dan-proops.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Dan_Proops

Book Launch – Guest Post by Julie Shackman ~ @G13Julie @foreververlag

Big congratulations to Julie Shackman whose book, ‘A Room at the Manor’ is published today as an eBook in Germany.  Julie has written a guest post all about it, but first you’ll be wanting to see the cover in all its glory.

 

Gorgeous isn’t it!  Over to Julie now….

 

Guest Post

Forever Grateful to Forever

Being told by my agent that my first traditionally published novel, A Room at the Manor, had been bought by a prolific publisher in Germany, was a very special moment.

The romance imprint of Ullstein, Forever, have a genuine passion for the genre and so when they said they loved my story and declared that they wished to release it in both kindle and paperback, I was delighted.

I can’t quite believe that on 4 March, the kindle is out, with the paperback following on 2 May.

From the beginning, the lovely Forever team, headed up by my wonderful editor Caroline Funke, have enthused about A Room at the Manor, titled in Germany as Das Kleine Café Im Gutshaus.

When I took a browse through their website, I was struck by how beautiful and original their covers are, as well as the talented family of authors that are published by them.

They produced a gorgeous cover for my German edition; drew up a comprehensive marketing plan and messaged me frequently, expressing their excitement and enthusiasm for Lara and Vaughan’s story.

(I should admit at this point, that my knowledge of German is extremely limited and is something I think I should rectify!)

There is a real team effort to what they do and seeing “my baby” in their creative hands, is a wonderful experience.

Knowing that A Room at the Manor is being introduced to another audience in another country, is a very humbling experience and one which I am very excited about.

I hope that German readers enjoy reading about Lara and Vaughan every bit as much as I enjoyed writing about them.

Thank you to everybody at Forever for allowing me to bring my story to German readers!

Julie XX

~~~~~

Here is the purchase link for readers in Germany:-

https://www.amazon.de/Das-kleine-Café-im-Gutshaus-ebook/dp/B07J2NH287/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1549367682&sr=8-1

 

About Julie Shackman

Julie trained as a journalist and studied Communication & Media.

Her first two novels, Rock My World & and Hero or Zero were published digitally by Not So Noble Books. A Room at the Manor is her first traditionally published novel.

When not writing women’s commercial fiction, she also writes verses and captions for greetings card companies.

She is an avid reader and is currently trying to reduce her To Be Read pile.

Julie has a passion for handbags and pretty stationery and is married with two teenage sons.

 

Links

Twitter – https://twitter.com/G13Julie

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/julie.shackman

Blog – http://julieshackman.wordpress.com/

 

Blog Tour – ‘An Abiding Fire’ by M. J. Logue ~ @SapereBooks @Hollie_Babbitt

I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for ‘An Abiding Fire’ by M. J. Logue, the first Thomazine and Major Russell Thrillers book, published in paperback and as an eBook by Sapere Books.  I would like to thank Caoimhe O’Brien for inviting me to take part.

I have an extract for you to read, but first here’s what the book is about.

 

 

Book Blurb

How do you solve a murder when you are one of the suspects?

1664, London

Life should be good for Major Thankful Russell and his new bride, Thomazine. Russell, middle-aged and battle-scarred, isn’t everyone’s idea of the perfect husband for an eligible young woman but the moment Thomazine set eyes on her childhood hero, she knew they were destined for one another.

But Russell, a former Roundhead, now working for the King’s intelligence service, was never going to have a simple life in Restoration London.

Unable to shake suspicions of his Parliamentarian past, someone seems hell-bent on ruining his reputation — and his life.

Whispers about his sister’s violent murder follow him and accusations of treason abound.

When more deaths occur Russell finds himself under suspicion.

He is ready to escape from the capital, but Thomazine is determined to find the truth and clear the name of the man she loves.

But who is the real killer and why are they so keen to frame Russell? More importantly, will they succeed?

And has Thomazine’s quest put them all in mortal danger?

 

Extract

Prologue

Four Ashes, Buckinghamshire, England

November 1663

She looked up as he entered the room, her eyes narrowing to see him in the gloom of a few meagre tapers. A paltry display for such a family, and on such a bitter midwinter night. It gave him enough light to see her clearly, though, and he was astonished at the change in her: but then it had been ten years and they had not been kind years for Fly-Fornication Coventry.

She had always been for the King, during the late wars, and it must have gone hard with her to have had a brother who was not only a most notorious rebel and subversive, but who had narrowly escaped being executed for his political beliefs with a pack of fellow Dissenters and horse-thieves calling themselves the Levellers. And he had not had the grace to slide into obscurity after his grudging pardon, but instead had gone on to serve quite conspicuously in the Army of General Monck after the King was restored.

It must have been bitter as wormwood for her to know that he was still out there in the world, that those sins of which she had spoken, at such length, with such contempt, had gone unpunished and that he was still unrepentant.

Bitterness had withered her. Her hair was hidden by the same stiff starched cap, untouched by fashion or flattery, but her eyebrows were as dark and uncompromising as ever. She was not an unattractive woman for a widow in her late fifties. She was as tall and slender as her brother and her shoulders were straight. He found himself quite admiring her, actually. Not as a woman, but as a fierce thing of beauty, like a falcon or a well-made sword.

“Well,” she said. And that was all.

He bowed with as much ostentation as he could because he had been on the peripheries of court these four years and more and he had learned the weapons of vicious courtesy. “I am glad to see you well, Mistress Coventry. After so long absent.”

“As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly. Should I say I am as glad to see you? Well, I won’t.” She smiled, which was unexpected. “I do not lie, sir. I am not in the least glad to see you. Prinked out in your degenerate finery — ‘For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness.’ Do you seek to impress me, you nasty, womanish thing?”

“Good lord, no,” he said mildly, and she lowered her head and glowered at him.

“Less of your blasphemy. This is a godly house. What do you want?”

She had not invited him to sit or offered him hospitality and he was glad of that. She still made him nervous, for all he had not set eyes on her in ten years, though she had no power over him because for all her malice she was no more than a woman, and a thin, bloodless, bitter one at that.

“I wanted to assure myself of your continued good health,” he said and dropped his eyes to hide that particular lie.

“Did you. Well. I wonder why, since you never did before when you were drinking and whoring all over the county, keeping your low company?”

“They say hereabouts that you are grown … odd, mistress. That you grow overly zealous, even more than you were previous, and that none of your servants will stay longer than a few weeks with you, for your harshness. That you can be cruel and whimsical in your ways.” He took a deep breath and went on, “That you are often alone in this house at night, for such staff as can bear your intolerance will not stay under the same roof. Is that true?”

Her dark eyes, ringed about with tender blue shadows, lifted to his face. “True? What concern is it of yours?”

He was still on his feet. It was easy to go and stand over her and set his hands on her shoulders. Such slight, narrow shoulders, for all their straightness. Her bodice, close to, was shabby: a little shrunken at the seams, unevenly faded, as if it had been remade from another garment and covered by an old-fashioned linen collar that had a darn at the fold. A fine darn, but a darn, nonetheless. “There is not the money here to pay a servant’s hire, is there, mistress?” he said gently. “You have lost all, since the wars. Have you not?”

She almost rose from her seat, an unlovely blush mottling her cheeks and her neck. “How dare you, sir —”

And he put his hands about her slight throat and snapped her neck, as simply as that. Like snapping a coney’s when it was snared, and with as little emotion.

She was not expecting it and she did not struggle, after that initial convulsion; she only hung between his two hands with her dark eyes blank and staring at him and her mouth slightly ajar.

He was not as frightened as he thought he would be. She was dead and it had been easy. He did not feel anything, apart from a slight repulsion as a sliver of saliva drooled from her lolling mouth.

Such little bones. So frail. Not like her brother, not at all like her brother, in the end. For Thankful Russell was still alive and Fly was distinctly dead.

~~~~~

‘An Abiding Fire’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

http://getbook.at/AnAbidingFire

 

About M. J. Logue

M. J. Logue (as in cataLOGUE and epiLOGUE and not, ever, loge, which is apparently a kind of private box in a theatre) wrote her first short novel on a manual typewriter aged seven. It wasn’t very good, being about talking horses, but she made her parents sit through endless readings of it anyway.

Thirty-something years later she is still writing, although horses only come into it occasionally these days. Born and brought up in Lancashire, she moved to Cornwall at the turn of the century (and has always wanted to write that) and now lives in a granite cottage with her husband, and son, five cats, and various itinerant wildlife.

After periods of employment as a tarot reader, complaints call handler, executive PA, copywriter and civil servant, she decided to start writing historical fiction about the period of British history that fascinates her – the 17th century.

Her first series, covering the less than stellar career of a disreputable troop of Parliamentarian cavalry during the civil wars, was acclaimed by reviewers as “historical fiction written with elegance, wit and black humour” – but so many readers wanted to know whether fierce young lieutenant Thankful Russell ever did get his Happy Ever After, that the upcoming series of romantic thrillers for Sapere Books began.

Get in touch with MJ

She can be found on Twitter @Hollie_Babbitt, lurking on the web at asweetdisorder.com, and posting photos of cake, cats and extreme embroidery on Instagram as asweetdisorder.

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