blog tour, Book reviews, Ghost story

Echoes Of Home by M. L. Rayner – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

 After accepting a generous opportunity to start afresh, Leslie Wills, a young man from Stoke-on-Trent, eagerly begins his long-distance journey to the Scottish Highlands of Elphin, a settled village that sits huddled amongst the dominating mountains. Its people are welcoming, and the beauty of the land is great. But deep within its Highland paths, a location rests hidden from the public’s eye. A location which entices you to learn the truth of its troubled past. But once you bear witness to its sights and sounds, its presences will never allow you to forget.

Uncover the truth, Journeying back to a forgotten time. With a plot full of secrets and suspicion that will leave you longing for answers.

MY REVIEW 

I love a good ghost story and Echoes of Home really fit the bill.

Here, Leslie Wills mum has died and he feels a little lost, what’s is going to happen now?.

His brother offers him a home, Elphin Cottage in the highlands, so obviously he goes.

The cottage is in a remote area, in a stunningly beautiful landscape, alone except for one other cottage. But these cottages have a dark past and is Leslie about to be one a part of it?

Beautifully written and atmospheric, you can feel the chill breeze and the creaks of an old cottage….a classic ghost story that will make a perfect Halloween read.

Thank you to Zooloos Book Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an eARC of Echoes of Home.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Born and bred in the county of Staffordshire. Matt is a keen reader of classical, horror and fantasy literature and enjoys writing in the style of traditional ghost stories. During his working life, Matt joined the ambulance service in 2009, transporting critically ill patients all over the UK. After writing his first novel, Matt was welcomed into the family of Question Mark Press publishing and now dedicates his time on future releases. His hobbies include genealogy and hiking, and he enjoys spending time with his wife, Emma, his children, and his family.

Follow him at:

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/m.l.rayner/

Twitter https://twitter.com/M_L_Rayner

Amazon : https://www.amazon.co.uk/M.-L.-Rayner/e/B08LTXNSH4

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20902655.M_L_Rayner

blog tour, Book reviews, Family drama, Mental Health

Matilda Windsor is Coming Home by Anne Goodwin – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

In the dying days of the old asylums, three paths intersect.

Henry was only a boy when he waved goodbye to his glamorous grown-up sister; approaching sixty, his life is still on hold as he awaits her return.

As a high-society hostess renowned for her recitals, Matty’s burden weighs heavily upon her, but she bears it with fortitude and grace.

Janice, a young social worker, wants to set the world to rights, but she needs to tackle challenges closer to home.

A brother and sister separated by decades of deceit. Will truth prevail over bigotry, or will the buried secret keep family apart?

In this, her third novel, Anne Goodwin has drawn on the language and landscapes of her native Cumbria and on the culture of long-stay psychiatric hospitals where she began her clinical psychology career.

MY REVIEW 

Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home is mainly set in a psychiatric hospital for long stay patients. Matilda has been here for decades, sent here as a young woman but now a young idealist social worker has arrived and she’s working to get people back to ‘normal’ lives outside.

This is a beautifully written tale of a world many of us have no idea exists, of a community within the community. I fell in love with Matty and her friends, the odd and peculiar who really just want to get on with life.

It’s also horrifying how people could be hospitalised for so many years just because people are scared of those with mental health problems. Out of sight out of mind seems to be the answer for many.

It is clear, from her writing, the author has strong feelings on this issue and this makes for an emotional and thought provoking read. 

Thank you to Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an eARC of Matilda Windsor is Coming Home 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Anne Goodwin grew up in the non-touristy part of Cumbria, where this novel is set. When she went to university ninety miles away, no-one could understand her accent. After nine years of studying, her first post on qualifying as a clinical psychologist was in a long-stay psychiatric hospital in the process of closing.

Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, about a woman who has kept her past identity a secret for thirty years, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, about a man who keeps a woman captive in his cellar, was published in 2017. Her short story collection, Becoming Someone, on the theme of identity, was published in November 2018. Subscribers to her newsletter can download a free e-book of prize-winning short stories.

blog tour, Book reviews, War fiction

Sword of Bone by Anthony Rhodes – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

In May 2021, IWM will publish two more novels in their Wartime Classics Series which was launched in September 2019 to great acclaim, bringing the total number of novels in the series to ten. Each has been brought back into print to enable a new generation of readers to hear stories of those who experienced conflict first hand.

First published in 1942, Sword of Bone is a lightly fictionalised memoir based on Anthony Rhodes’ own experiences during the Second World War – firstly during the so-called ‘Phoney War’ from 1939 – 40, followed by the terror of the evacuation of Dunkirk. Shortly after war was declared, he was sent to France serving with the British Army where his days were filled with billeting, friendships and administration – the minutiae of Army life. Apart from a visit to the Maginot Line, the conflict seems a distant prospect. It is only in the Spring of 1940 that the true situation becomes clear – the Belgian, British armies and some French divisions are ‘now crowded into a small pocket in the North of France’. The men are ordered to retreat to the coast and the beaches of Dunkirk where they face a desperate and frightening wait for evacuation.

The ‘miracle’ of Dunkirk was a brilliantly improvised naval operation that extracted more than 338,000 men from the Dunkirk beaches and brought them safely back to England. Some 850 vessels, including channel steamers and fishing boats, took part in this, Operation ‘Dynamo’. The final pages of the novel outline Rhodes’ experiences of the chaos of the evacuation where the scenes are depicted in vivid and terrifying detail.

IWM Senior Curator, Alan Jeffreys, has written an introduction to each book that provides context and the wider historical background. He says, ‘researching the Wartime Classics has been one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve worked on in my years at IWM. It’s been very exciting rediscovering these fantastic novels and helping to bring them to the wider readership they so deserve’.

MY REVIEW 

Sword of Bone is the story of the uneasy calm before the storm of WW2 and Dunkirk. The soldiers in France are living the high life at first believing this war would be like WW1, a battle fought in the trenches.

However, things changed rapidly and they were trapped near the sea, with nowhere to go. The largest rescue mission is then put underway with just about anything that floated being sent to pick these despairing men up.

This is a slow burn of a read with all events building up to the historic rescue at Dunkirk. There is some dark humour and will appeal to anyone with a love of war fiction.

Thank you to Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an ARC of Sword of Bone.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Anthony Rhodes (1916 – 2004) served with the British Army in France during the so-called ‘Phoney War’ and was evacuated from Dunkirk in May 1940. In the latter part of the war he was sent to Canada as a camouflage officer and was invalided out of the Army in 1947 having served for 12 years. After the conflict he enjoyed a long academic and literary career and wrote on various subjects, including the 1956 Hungarian Revolution for the Daily Telegraph and well-regarded histories of the Vatican.

blog tour, Book reviews, Cosy mystery

The Hunting Season by Tom Benjamin – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

It’s truffle season and in the hills around Bologna the hunt is on for the legendary Boscuri White, the golden nugget of Italian gastronomy. But when an American truffle ‘supertaster’ goes missing, English detective Daniel Leicester discovers not all truffles are created equal. Did the missing supertaster bite off more than he could chew?

As he goes on the hunt for Ryan Lee, Daniel discovers the secrets behind ‘Food City’, from the immigrant kitchen staff to the full scale of a multi-million Euro business. After a key witness is found dead at the foot of one of Bologna’s famous towers, the stakes could not be higher. Daniel teams up with a glamorous TV reporter, but the deeper he goes into the disappearance of the supertaster the darker things become. Murder is once again on the menu, but this time Daniel himself stands accused. And the only way he can clear his name is by finding Ryan Lee…

Discover Bologna through the eyes of English detective Daniel Leicester as he walks the shadowy porticoes in search of the truth and, perhaps, even gets a little nearer to solving the mystery of Italy itself.

MY REVIEW 

The Hunting Season is a mystery tale set in Bologna. 

Private Investigator,Daniel Leicester, is trying to find a missing man, Ryan Lee

His parents reported him missing when he didn’t pick them up at the airport as they’d arranged,

This tale has a lot of beautifully written and descriptive detail about Italy, it’s customs and food and at times the missing man mystery seems forgotten. 

With lots of characters the story gradually unfolds and the mystery is solved. A slow burn, well written mystery tale that clearly shows the author’s love of Bologna. 

Thank you to Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an ARC of The Hunting Season.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Tom Benjamin grew up in London and began his working life as a reporter before becoming a spokesman for Scotland Yard. He went on to work in international aid and public health, developing Britain’s first national programme against alcohol abuse and heading up drugs awareness campaign FRANK. He now lives in Bologna, Italy.

Find Tom on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at tombenjaminsays or at tombenjamin.com

blog tour, Book reviews, War fiction

Pathfinders by Cecil Lewis – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUMS TO PUBLISH ANOTHER NOVEL IN THEIR WARTIME CLASSICS SERIES FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE FAMOUS MEMOIR SAGITTARIUS RISING

In May 2021, IWM will publish two more novels in their Wartime Classics series which was launched in September 2019 to great acclaim, bringing the total novels in the series to ten. Each has been brought back into print to enable a new generation of readers to hear stories of those who experienced conflict firsthand.

First published in 1944 and set over the course of one night in 1942, the story follows the fate of six crew members of a Wellington bomber ‘P for Pathfinder’ thrown together by chance from different corners of the world. They each reflect on the paths of their own lives, as they embark on a fateful mission deep into the heart of Nazi Germany. Cecil Lewis’ novel examines the life of every man in turn, rendering a moving account of each as not merely a nameless crew member, but as an individual with a life lived, ‘a life precious to some, or one… these men with dreams and hopes and plans of things to come.”

Cecil Lewis was a flying instructor for the RAF during the Second World War where he taught hundreds of pilots to fly, including his own son. It was while doing this training that he wrote Pathfinders. Pupils were graded by the time it took them to fly solo – the best became fighters and then bombers. The RAF’s Bomber Command was the only branch of the armed forces that could take direct action against Germany and in 1942 the strategic air offensive changed from precision to area bombing where whole cities were targeted in order to destroy factories as well as the morale of those who worked in them.

The ‘pathfinders’ of the story were needed because often the bombers could not find the towns and cities they were destined to attack at night, let alone the industrial centres within. The crew used coloured marker flares to guide the bombers to their targets and the crews selected (often from the USA, Canada and NZ as well as Britain) were the best night flying crews who were able to find the target unaided. As a pilot who took part in both World Wars, Cecil Lewis brings his unique experience to bear, shining a light on this vital and sometimes contested aspect of Britain’s Second World War focusing on the sacrifice made by the Allied airmen it depicts.

IWM Senior Curator, Alan Jeffreys, has written an introduction to each book that provides context and the wider historical background. He says, ‘researching the Wartime Classics has been one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve worked on in my years at IWM. It’s been very exciting rediscovering these fantastic novels and helping to bring them to the wider readership they so deserve’.

MY REVIEW 

Pathfinders is the tale of the crew of a Wellington bomber, they are preparing for a mission (little do they know it is their last).

This is not an action packed war story, but one about the men who fought in one. It tells of their backgrounds, their different nationalities and lives before the war.

It is also about camaraderie and trust. For me, it’s a reminder that these men are not just part of the huge number of casualties and deaths at war, everyone of them was a man with lives and families waiting for them to come home……and many never did.

A heart breaking and thought provoking read.

Thank you to Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and a copy of Pathfinders.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Cecil Lewis (1898 – 1997) was a British fighter ace in the First World War and his memoir Sagittarius Rising became a classic of the literature from that war, considered by many to be the definitive account of aerial combat. He was a flying instructor for the RAF during the Second World War

where he taught hundreds of pilots to fly, including his own son. After the war he was one of the founding executives of the BBC and enjoyed friendships with many of the creative figures of the day, including George Bernard Shaw, winning an Academy Award for co-writing the 1938 film adaptation of Shaw’s Pygmalion. He had a long and varied career but retained a passion for flying all his life. In 1969 he sailed a boat to Corfu where he spent the remainder of his life, dying two months short of his 99th birthday. He was the last surviving British fighter ace of the First World War.

blog tour, Book reviews, Mystery, Supernatural

The Crazy Season by Jim Ody – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Joel Baxter is infamous for solving weird and bizarre cases that others avoid. So, when he receives an email from a teenage boy Tim saying his town is cursed, he cannot turn it down.

“…I will more than likely be dead when you read this. There is nothing I can do about it. It’s the curse, and we’ve hit The Crazy Season.” Every 20 years, there are a handful of unexplained teenage deaths and it’s started again.

With the help of his straight-talking friend Melody, they set out to get to the bottom of the alleged curse. Everybody in Black Rock has secrets and nobody wants to speak.

The closer they get to truth the more Joel and Melody realise that their involvement is far from coincidental.

MY REVIEW 

The Crazy Season is a paranormal mystery that has you hooked from the very start.

Joel and Melody begin to investigate a series of teen suicides, while they are years apart it appears they may be linked. A small coastal town, full of secrets and a sense of the claustrophobia of living in a place where everyone knows everything about each resident adding a feeling of tension.

Joel is a great character, a little awkward and quiet and the bright, fierce Melody is the perfect fresh breeze of a character, just what Joel needs. A great partnership in the making.

The Crazy Season is a mystery tale with a paranormal edge and great characters and a thoroughly entertaining read.

Thank you to Zooloo’s Book Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an eARC of The Crazy Season.

Cover reveal, Guest post

*COVER REVEAL* of Mirror In Time and a guest post from the author – D. Ellis Overrtun

What a pleasure to be back on The Bookwormery, this time with a cover reveal for my fourth book, a standalone timetravel story, Mirror in Time. Credit to my wife, Natasha, for this and all my covers. My only contribution to her work is the name at the bottom and coming up with the title.

This is my second post. The first one we did was the themes that run through my third book, Prophecy: Eve of Darkness.

A tour of her site will tell you that scifi is way outside what Lesley normally reads. So, having this spot means a lot to us. Many thanks for your support!

* * * * *

Our story so far…

ARC “Prologue” posted on Witty and Sacrastic Bookclub     

ARC eChapter 1 – “Debriefing and Consultation” posted on FromBelgiumWithBookLove   

ARC eChapter 2 – “History” posted on On The Shelf Reviews   

ARC eChapter 3 – “Newbie” posted on Like Herding Cats Blog  

ARC eChapter 4 – “Static” posted on The Swordsmith  

Mirror in Time Themes posted on FanFiAddict  

As night falls, a lone atmospheric vehicle has come under attack on its final approach to a highaltituderesearch facility known as the “Jomo Langma Mountain Observatory”. Stars that should fill the sky have been obscured by a random patchwork of contrails that have come to be known as “ribbons in the sky”.

Ribbons in the Sky | Natasha Evelyn Overttun

However, Prefect Godvina, AV Sundog’s lone passenger, is now recovering in the Observatory’s medical facilities, a result of stress caused by the evasive maneuvers of the episode. Director Jo’el, head of the Observatory, has been keeping vigil at her bedside. His concern for her is personal. Was this the reason for her visit?

We learn the attack was the anticipated result of a plan to draw out dissident elements. Prefect Tarsus, architect of the plan, is pleased on two fronts. About the mission was to be expected. However, as toGodvina’s condition has come as somewhat of a surprise to Agent Thalia, Sundog’s pilot, and Agents Mica’el and Gabri’el, two of her escorts. It spoke to rumors of a prior relationship between the head of Security and the head of the Cosmological Data Collection and Compilation Center. These rumors are seemingly confirmed when an angry Godvina bursts into a secure room to confront Tarsus, and Thalia is later tasked with covert surveillance of the fiery Prefect to determine the exact nature of her visit to the Observatory.

Jo’el’s tenure as Director of the Observatory had been a direct result of the ribbons in the sky and their seeming adverse causal affect on seismic activity and climate of the planet. His research had led him to conclude the ribbons were an extinction event. He has found a solution, a portal to another universe. However, there was no way to access it. If only there was more time…

His plan: Go back in time before access to the portal becomes compromised.

He will not be going alone. His two lifelong friends, Chief Psychology Officer Auberon and Chief Physician Kyros, will accompany him on this oneway journey. However, temporal mechanics was not his main area of study. That is why he has asked Godvina to come to Jomo. He needed a sounding board, someone to check his logic and his calculations. There was no one better than the prefect of CD3C.

He had originally intended a purely academic discussion. 

However, Thalia’s scrutiny has thrown a spanner in the works. She had been unable to eavesdrop on their meeting, a result of one of Auberon’s very unique abilities. It would only be a matter of time until it would draw unwanted attention to Jo’el’s plan. Now, he had no choice but to flee Jomo with his two friends and a recently recruited CD3C Prefect. Their objective: Exit a facility under military jurisdiction, make their way through some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet and head to the very people who attacked AV Sundog.

Do they get off the mountain and travel back through time? Of course! Without it, there is no story, but how do they get there, what do they find, and do they make good on Jo’el’s plan?

Mirror in Time will take you on a journey beyond the galaxy then to the ancient world of Ziem as a band of intrepid time travelers struggle to save existence.

* * * * *

Now, about the cover…

My wife, Natasha (@neoverttun), does all my covers and visuals for my guest posts. I am so lucky to have her support. At this point, I would also like to clarify she sources all the artwork she uses from Pixabay and similar sites. She then combines and manipulates them in Photoscape, GIMP and word. Is the result original? I think so because it’s all about proportion and balance. Take sulfur, carbon and potassium nitrate. They are distinctive and unique in and of themselves. But mix them in the proper proportions, and you get gunpowder. So, to quote one of my favorite chef’s, “BAM!” Let’s take it to the next level.

The gif below highlights the main characteristic of a mirror —it reflects. As you can see, Natasha has done so much with this concept. The fadein from black reveals a canvas full of partial images like visual echoes on shards of glass. As the gif progresses, they disappear until only one remains. Like possibilities in the quantum world, all are available until one is chosen. It gives a hint of what will happen in the story.Time travel involves destinations. Which one should be chosen? Where will it lead?

Shades of gray dominate the cover. That palette combined with a hooded woman gives it a gloomy, gothic feel. It could imply our MCs are going back to a period in time like that. On the other hand, it might be a reference to time itself. The past is shrouded in mystery. Tomorrow is dark. Tomorrow unknown.

The woman stares back at us, a cryptic Mona Lisa smile on her lips. I have seen that look before. She knows something, something we don’t know. What could it be? One interpretation is the story itself. She knows what’s in the pages that follow, and the reader doesn’t. So, this is an invitation to journey past the cover and delve into the story. 

Her smile could also be a bright spot in an otherwise dreary color scheme. Again, it is a hint of what is to follow. Our MCs will be faced with impossible odds, but there is always hope.

On another level, it could be like looking in a mirror, and this is our own reflection. This asks the reader a question: What are you thinking?

The bottom half of the cover is also a reflection. Natasha blurred it slightly to make a distinction to the top half. For me, the fact it’s upside down makes it clear enough, but I think it’s a nice touch. We have two more. One is the inverted “r” in the title and the title itself. Natasha wanted to do something similar to my name, but I said, “Enough with the reflections already. I think they get the point.” We had a little “discussion” after that. To summarize, she “said”, “This is an artist’s prerogative.” I “said”, “Less is more.” She finally agreed. I include the episode here, not to gloat but as a record I am right on occasion.

The accent color is green. It appears in the globe of light and around the lettering. No interpretation is required to know the tendrils represent plasma. Because it’s there, it has to have something to do with the story. It does. Although, in the story, it’s a mist. Natasha could have feathered and blurred it to make it consistent, but she felt it would lose it’s immediate and unmistakable connection to power. (This is an artist’s prerogative.) It’s in front of the woman, implying you have to go through it to get to the end of the story, which you do.

* * * * *

Other books by D. Ellis Overttun

Terra Nova Book 1 – Universe:  Awakening  

Background to Universe: Awakening posted on Zooloo’s Book Diary

Terra Nova Book 2 – Genesis:  Vision of the New World

Themes in Genesis: Vision of the New World posted on The Book Hole

Terra Nova Book 3 – Prophecy: Eve of Darkness

Themes in Prophecy: Eve of Darkness posted on The Bookwormery

blog tour, Book reviews, Nordic noir, Thriller

The Assistant by Kjell Ola Dahl – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

The award-winning Godfather of Nordic Noir returns with a fascinating and richly authentic portrait of Oslo’s interwar years, featuring Nazis operating secretly on Norwegian soil and militant socialists readying workers for war…

Oslo, 1938. War is in the air and Europe is in turmoil. Hitler’s Germany has occupied Austria and is threatening Czechoslovakia; civil war rages in Spain and Mussolini reigns in Italy.

When a woman turns up at the office of police-turned-private investigator Ludvig Paaske, he and his assistant – his one-time nemesis and former drug-smuggler, Jack Rivers – begin a seemingly straightforward investigation into marital infidelity.

But all is not what it seems. Soon, Jack is accused of murder, sending them on a trail which leads back to the 1920s, to prohibition-era Norway, to the smugglers, sex workers and hoodlums of his criminal past … and an extraordinary secret.

A stunning, sophisticated, tension-packed thriller – the darkest of hardboiled Nordic Noir – from one of Norway’s most acclaimed crime writers.

MY REVIEW 

The Assistant is set in the 1920 and 1930’s in the time of prohibition in Norway. 

Jack Rivers is a smuggler and Ludvig Paaske is trying to catch him, it is illegal after all.

Even after their differences of opinions in the past, they eventually become colleagues as private investigators and with the threat of war looming, there is an errant husband case to solve. But then Jack is accused of murder!

The Assistant is a thriller, but it’s also a tale of friendship, love and betrayal all set in pre-war Norway. Beautifully written with a real sense of time and place, this is a sharp, tension packed thriller. Nordic Noir at its best.

Thank you to Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an eARC of The Assistant.

PURCHASE LINK: https://amzn.to/3aXnl0I

ABOUT KJELL OLA DAHL

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eighteen novels, the most prominent of which form a series of police procedurals- cum-psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix, and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015 (published in English by Orenda books in 2019). His work has been published in fourteen countries. He lives in Oslo. Follow him on Twitter @ko_dahl