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

blog tour, Book reviews, Crime thriller

The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Number One bestselling author Kathy Reichs returns with her twentieth edge-of-your seat thriller featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A storm has hit South Carolina, dredging up crimes of the past.

En route to Isle of Palms, a barrier island off the South Carolina coast, forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan receives a call from the Charleston coroner. During the storm, a medical waste container has washed up on the beach. Inside are two decomposed bodies wrapped in plastic sheeting and bound with electrical wire. Chillingly, Tempe recognises many details as identical to those of an unsolved case she handled in Quebec fifteen years earlier. With a growing sense of foreboding, she flies to Montreal to gather evidence and convince her boss Pierre LaManch to reopen the cold case. She also seeks the advice—and comfort—of her longtime beau Andrew Ryan.

Meanwhile, a storm of a different type gathers force in South Carolina. The citizens of Charleston are struck by capnocytophaga, a bacterium that, at its worst, can eat human flesh. Thousands panic and test themselves for a rare genetic mutation that may have rendered them vulnerable.

Shockingly, Tempe eventually deduces not only that the victims in both grisly murder cases are related, but that the murders and the disease outbreak also have a common cause . . .

MY REVIEW 

The Bone Code is #20 in the Temperance Brennan series, it can also be read as a stand-alone.

This starts with a hurricane, as it begins Tempe meets an old woman who asks her to find out what happened to her aunt who went missing many, many years ago. The only clue is a death mask which is the exact image of this old lady, her sister and even her grandmother,

After the storm, Tempe visits her friend Anne, but then receives a call from the local coroner, a shipping container has washed up on the beach, with two bodies inside. Tempe’s heart drops as it reminds her of a similar case from years ago…

And so the story begins…

This is Tempe at her very best, a cold case, new bodies and a missing aunt, along with her relationship with Ryan and her cat Birdie, all the while dealing with the dead and their secrets. Plenty of medical details told in Tempe’s unique, matter of fact way, this is a marvellous read, lots of tension, a clever and twisty plot. So utterly compelling from start to finish. I loved every minute.

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 Bone Code.

Purchase link…https://amzn.to/3t4E609

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Kathy Reichs’s first novel Déjà Dead was a number one bestseller and won the 1997 Ellis Award for Best First Novel. The Bone Code is Kathy’s twentieth entry in her series featuring forensic anthropologist Temper- ance Brennan. Kathy was also a producer of the hit Fox TV series, Bones, which is based on her work and her novels.

Dr. Reichs is one of very few forensic anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. She served on the Board of Directors and as Vice President of both the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, and as a member of the National Police Services Advisory Council in Canada.

blog tour, Book reviews, Psychlogical thriller

Mirrorland by C L Johnstone – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

With the startling twists of Gone Girl and the haunting emotional power of Room, Mirrorland is a thrilling work of psychological suspense about twin sisters, the man they both love, and the dark childhood they can’t leave behind.

Cat lives in Los Angeles, far away from 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where she and her estranged twin sister, El, grew up. As girls, they invented Mirrorland, a dark, imaginary place under the pantry stairs full of pirates, witches, and clowns. These days Cat rarely thinks about their childhood home, or the fact that El now lives there with her husband Ross.

But when El mysteriously disappears after going out on her sailboat, Cat is forced to return to 36 Westeryk Road, which has scarcely changed in twenty years. The grand old house is still full of shadowy corners, and at every turn Cat finds herself stumbling on long-held secrets and terrifying ghosts from the past. Because someone—El?—has left Cat clues in almost every room: a treasure hunt that leads right back to Mirrorland, where she knows the truth lies crouched and waiting…

A twisty, dark, and brilliantly crafted thriller about love and betrayal, redemption and revenge, Mirrorland is a propulsive, page-turning debut about the power of imagination and the price of freedom.

MY REVIEW 

Mirrorland is a unique thriller with a twist.

Cat and her twin sister, El had an imaginary world when they were growing up, Mirrorland. Here there was fear, clowns, witches and more….

As they got older they become estranged, Cat lives in the US but El still lives in Edinburgh in their childhood home with her husband. But then El disappears.

Cat returns to Edinburgh and the hunt for El begins. The police are involved but Cat begins to get strange messages……a treasure hunt, but will she like what she finds?

This dark, imaginative thriller is told from two timelines, the past, with the children’s make believe world and the present. It’s dark and full it a subtle tension that keeps you wondering just what is going on…….but then it all comes together in the incredible final chapters. Well written with great characters, even if they weren’t particularly likeable and thoroughly engrossing. 

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

Extract

*Excerpt* of From Ashes To Song by Hilary Hauck

Welcome to The Bookwormery.

Today I’m sharing an excerpt from Hilary Hauck’s new book, From Ashes To Song.

First though is a little about the book.

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Italy, 1911. Pietro’s life on the family vineyard is idyllic. He has at last captured the melody of the grape harvest on his clarinet and can’t wait to share his composition with his grandfather, but before he can play, news arrives of a deadly disease sweeping the countryside. They have no choice but to burn the vineyard to stop its spread. The loss is too much for Pietro’s grandfather, and by morning Pietro has lost two of the most precious things in his life-his grandfather and the vineyard. All he has left is his music, but a disastrous performance at his grandfather’s funeral suggests that music, too, is now beyond his reach.

And now the excerpt…..

From Ashes to Song

Assunta had reconciled her heart to the fact that Nandy had married another woman in America. Mary, her name was. She’d even borne his child—may they both rest in peace. She would not remain bitter about it. He’d been far from home, alone, and he’d already paid the worst price by losing them both

What she was having a harder time accepting was how he’d let Beatrice dig her seductive claws into him when he had returned to Italy.

“I would have come straight to you,” he’d said. “But I was too embarrassed. I didn’t know how to tell you about Mary.”

They could put this all behind them soon. By the end of the day, she and Nandy would be married as they’d intended eight years earlier, and they would travel a world away from the clutches of Beatrice.

Assunta’s wedding dress was an elegant yellow, not bright like a sunflower, more like a rose that grew on a balcony overlooking the piazza in Verona.

Mamma had surprised her with the fabric the same day Nandy had shown up to propose. “Pretty, isn’t it?” she’d asked. “I came across it at the market one time when your father was still alive. It’s been tucked hidden away all this time.”

Mamma had spent the ensuing weeks industriously planning and incessantly cleaning, appearing wholly confident that Assunta’s life had always meant to take this direction, despite Papà’s decree. Mamma even had the style of Assunta’s dress decided, and being so sure of her plan, she had very nearly forgotten to take Assunta to the dressmakers with her.

“You always look out for me,” Assunta had told her. “I don’t know what I’ll do without you.”

“You’ll do just fine, that’s how you’ll do” Mamma had taken the fabric from the dressmaker’s hands and adjusted the folds. “Wider pleats, this wide, all the way down the front to the hem.”

Assunta would be eternally grateful to her mother, but for all the love in the world—and she’d never break her mother’s heart by telling her this—it was high time she started to make decisions for herself.

She planned to start small. She might decide to have morning coffee before making the beds and sweeping the floor. It’d be up to her whether they had pasta or rice or minestra on what day of the week. And to think, no more mornings spent kneading the dough to make gnocchi for her brother, Vito, to sell in his shop. Perhaps she’d make them to sell elsewhere, and if she did, it would not be when and how her brother decided. She’d make sure her gnocchi looked as good as they tasted, and she wouldn’t use the plain tubs her brother used. She’d choose wooden or copper bowls, oval like the gnocchi themselves, and worthy in their own right of being on show.

She’d sell her homemade tagliatelle, and once a week, she’d make pasta al forno and serve it hot mid-morning, none of which Vito had agreed to do. Then again, she barely made a lira on the work she did for him, so it was probably just as well.

Yes, this marriage and the journey ahead of them was the launch of a new and everlasting chapter, one where she would run the home, care for her husband, for their children. The final piece of the puzzle that was this life.

“Here, they’re real silk,” Mamma held up a garland of white flowers. “To pin to your veil. They can’t blemish. That’s my wish for you, a marriage with no blemish.”

Mamma’s intention might have been to ward off troubles. Still, the only blemish—the enormous blemish that everyone had so far avoided talking about these past weeks would be the wife and the girlfriend Nandy had had since he’d first proposed to Assunta.

“I couldn’t be happier.” Even to Assunta, her words sounded forced. “With the flowers, I mean, not—” Not what? His women? She wouldn’t say that out loud.

“Crying shame, your father, not being here.” Mamma had either taken Assunta’s hesitation as a moment of sorrow or was deliberately redirecting the subject.

Assunta resisted the urge to set her straight and point out that if Papà had been here, she wouldn’t be marrying Nandy at all, but there was little point opening that old wound today.

Despite her intention, Assunta spent the entire walk to church thinking about how, if Papà had let them marry eight years ago, Nandy would never have ended up with another wife and girlfriend in the first place. And following on from that thought, she reminded herself that she had forgiven him, and therefore those two women had no business being on her mind today. And yet they were.

Vito was waiting for them outside the church door, looking dashing though a little uncomfortable in a silk topper.

“Papà would have been proud to walk you down the aisle,” Mamma said.

“He wouldn’t be walking me to Nandy, though, would he?” Assunta said without thinking. There, she’d blown it. “Sorry,” she murmured.

If Mamma reacted to the paltry apology, Assunta didn’t see because her brother pulled her in for a swift kiss on both cheeks.

“You look beautiful.” Vito let go of Assunta just in time for her to glimpse Mamma pressing her handkerchief to her nose with uncharacteristic drama and disappear into the church.

“She’s taking this hard,” Vito said, tilting his chin after Mamma.

Assunta lifted her veil, careful not to dislodge the silk flowers.

“Is Nandy here?” Assunta asked.

“I can’t see around corners, but as he’s the groom, I would presume so.

Another thing I can’t see around the corner is your future. It bothers me.”

“I can tell you the future—we’re getting married, and we’re going to live happily ever after.” Vito had chosen a fine time to cast his doubts. Well, if everyone intended to focus on what would hinder rather than nurture this marriage, she might as well not hold back. “Did Beatrice show up? Is she in there?”

“She wouldn’t dare, and you shouldn’t think of her. Not today, not ever again. As for your future, I have no doubt you’ll make a perfect home and a happy husband. It’s where you’re going that worries us all.”

America had always been the worry. Papà hadn’t doubted Nandy’s character so much as his destination. “We’re not the first to go. Besides, Nandy can provide well for us in America.”

“I’m sure he can. Thing’s will work out for you, I know it.”

Far from helping, her brother’s sudden change in tone and certainty unsettled her. Now she felt uncertain again. She should send Vito inside the church, have him explain that she needed a bit more time to think about this marriage, not pulling out necessarily, just needing a bit of time alone. But knowing her brother, he would do it his way. He’d call out their other siblings, Mamma too, and make everyone else wait in the pews while they decided her fate as a family.

No, she’d got herself into this. Nandy couldn’t be blamed for straying; he’d been a free man. Now Assunta needed to focus on how this was her time, and Nandy had always been the right man for her.

The organist switched to play the Wedding March. Assunta did not move. “Our home will be joyous with the sound of children,” she told Vito.

“We are supposed to walk, not talk when the music starts,” Vito said. Assunta felt the tug of his arm on hers but held still. This was meant to be.

It was time to take her place at Nandy’s side, the conclusion of a long path to a fulfilled adulthood.

“You want to leave?” Vito asked.

“I’m okay,” she said, wishing she meant it.

She didn’t look up to see if Nandy was there, nor to either side and into the faces of the congregation.

At the top of the aisle, she kept her eyes firmly on the stone floor. If Mamma was crying, Assunta would cry, too. If Mamma were stoic, Assunta would cry anyway because Mamma would be putting a brave face on the fact that this marriage meant a ticket to a life a world away.

She saw Nandy’s feet first. They were big. She should have checked them.

She was grateful for the veil that hid her smile at the memory of just a few months ago after Nandy had turned back up, but before he drummed up the courage to speak to her, Assunta had asked Mamma to find her another man to marry. One who hadn’t returned from his world travels, a widower to boot, and proceeded to walk out with another—Beatrice of all people—with not so much as a courtesy call to Assunta. She’d specified that the new version of husband Mamma was to find should not have smelly feet, nor a brood of ready-made children like the man her aunt had married.

Assunta kept her eyes down as Vito kissed her cheek. She clung tighter to his arm, but he pulled her fingers away from his sleeve. There was a moment of shuffling and silence, then Assunta let her brother go.

She knelt next to Nandy, and without greeting or welcome, the priest began his ritual. Someone in the congregation coughed, Assunta stiffened. Was this someone clearing their throat to speak, to call out that she couldn’t, after all, have him? Nobody spoke. The priest carried on.

Someone sneezed. A sneeze didn’t mean the start of an objection, but still, it made Assunta want to turn and look. She wouldn’t put it past Beatrice to show up. Or for someone else to say it was all a big mistake, that he was still married, that his other wife had not died after all. Assunta clasped her hands tight through the liturgies and rites, her white gloves bunching around the fingers. Then the priest asked if anyone knew any reason why the two people standing before him should not be joined in holy matrimony—Assunta was surely going to choke—but the priest was talking again. Did that mean nobody had spoken? He was talking about man and wife—they were truly married.

She turned to look at Nandy for the first time today. Kneeling, they were equal height, the extra few inches he had on her must be in the length of his legs. His profile was important, his brown-black mustache freshly oiled, chin jutting forward slightly, clearly focused on the solemnity of the service. If she thought hard enough, perhaps she could make him turn and look at her, but he kept his gaze firmly on the altar. He was taking this so seriously, reverent in the face of their future—a comforting sign.

They stood up and were permitted to kiss. At last, Nandy turned, his eyes like something that would melt solid bronze. He took her in his arms, turned her, and bent her backward so she’d have toppled to the ground if he hadn’t held her so tightly, and he kissed her like there was nobody watching.

Excerpted from From Ashes to Song by Hilary Hauck. Copyright © 2021 by Hilary Hauck.

blog tour, Book reviews, Psychlogical thriller

Vanished by James Delargy – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

From the groundbreaking author of 55 comes an extraordinary new thriller…

The Kane family, Lorcan, Naiyana and their young son, are desperate to move their young family far away from the hustle and bustle of modern city life in Perth.

The abandoned town of Kallayee, an abandoned mining town in the Great Victoria Desert, seems like the perfect getaway: no one has lived there for decades. It will be peaceful. Quiet. Secure.

But life in Kallayee isn’t quite as straightforward as they hope. Lights flicker at night. There are noises in the earth, mysterious shadows and tracks in the dust as if their presence is breathing new life back into the long-dead town.

Lorcan and Naiyana refuse to leave. No one can talk sense into them. And now, no one can talk to them at all.

They’ve simply vanished.

MY REVIEW 

Vanished is set in the Australian outback and it’s here the Kane family now live after leaving Perth, making a new, safe life in this inhospitable part of the world. But, why did they leave?

They now live in a remote area, but so does a group of men who also have secrets and there is an uneasy, tense agreement to live and let live between them. But things get dark with strange noises, and some creepy moments too. 

The story is told gradually, with little asides showing how past events have led to this point. All the while there is a police investigation trying to find this missing family….

Well, what can I say?  This is well written and full of tension with an oppressive atmosphere that’s almost claustrophobic. A slow burn of a psychological thriller that is utterly compelling from start to finish. 

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

James Delargy was born and raised in Ireland and lived in South Africa, Australia and Scotland, before ending up in semi- rural England where he now lives. He incorporates this diverse knowledge of towns, cities, landscape and culture picked up on his travels into his writing. His first novel, 55, was published in 2019 and has been sold to 21 territories to date. Vanished is his second novel. Find him on Twitter: @jdelargyauthor/

blog tour, Book reviews, Crime thriller

The Black Fox by Gordon Bickerstaff – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Incredible conspiracy. Intricate espionage. Spy story.

Zoe Tampsin is resourceful, smart and Special Forces-trained, but she has been given an impossible mission.

She has to protect scientist, Gavin Shawlens, from assassination by the CIA, and discover the secret trapped in Gavin’s mind that the CIA want destroyed.

As the pressure to find Shawlens escalates – the CIA send Zoe’s former mentor to track her down and her fate seems sealed when he surrounds Zoe and Gavin with a ring of steel. With each hour that passes, the ring is tightened, and the window for discovering Gavin’s secret will shut.

Zoe is faced with a decision that goes against all of her survival instincts. If she is wrong – they both die. If she is right – she will discover the secret and become the next target for assassination.

Run for your life…

MY REVIEW 

THE BLACK FOX is #3 in the Lambeth Group series by Gordon Bickerstaff and it is a belter.

Here, Zoe (Black Fox) has been tasked with taking Dr Gavin Shawlens into hiding to keep him safe from the CIA. What does Dr Shawlens know that is worth causing an international incident over?

What can I say? This is an action packed, tense thriller that has you utterly gripped from start to suspense filled end. Full of sharp twists and complex characters that makes this a true page turner. (It would make a perfect movie). A truly memorable thriller. I love this series and it’s perfect for anyone who loves a clever thriller.

Thank you to Damppebbles Blog Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an eARC of The Black Fox.

About Gordon Bickerstaff:

I was born and brought up in Glasgow, Scotland. I studied biochemistry, and I’ve worked in several Scottish universities where I did research on enzymes, and taught biochemistry. After thirty years of teaching and research I retired my academic pen, and took of a mightier fiction pen.

I live in central Scotland with my wife and we enjoy reading, writing, and walking in the hills.

The Lambeth Group books follow the secret government investigations of agent Zoe Tampsin. A strong female protagonist with courage, determination, and guile. She is assisted by specialist consultant, Gavin Shawlens.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GFBickerstaff

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100012357701552

Website: http://bit.ly/1g4gEoa

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/gordon-bickerstaff

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5776209.Gordon_Bickerstaff

blog tour, Book reviews, Crime thriller

Facets Of Death by Michael Stanley – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A dark and sophisticated thriller set in the heart of Botswana, introducing Michael Stanley’s beloved Detective Kubu.

Recruited straight from university to Botswana’s CID, David ‘Kubu’ Bengu has raised his colleagues’ suspicions with his meteoric rise within the department, and he has a lot to prove.

When the richest diamond mine in the world is robbed of 100,000 carats worth of gems, and the thieves are found, executed, Kubu leaps at the chance to prove himself. First he must find the diamonds – and it seems that a witch doctor and his son have a part to play.

Does this young detective have the skill and integrity to engineer an international trap? Or could it cost him everything?

MY REVIEW 

This is a prequel to the series featuring Detective David ‘Kubu’ Bengu , it is an introduction to his beginnings in the police force Criminal Investigation Department in Botswana.

Assistant Superintendent Makabu assigns Kubu to a complex case on his first day. A plane disaster which is at first believed to be an accident….but there’s more to it than that…diamonds are at the heart of it. When the diamond deliveries are moved to armoured trucks there’s a robbery.

But the robbers start turning up dead and some believe a witchdoctor has cursed them.

Kubu really is thrown in at the deep end with his first big case and it highlights what a patient and thorough detective he is.

This is a crime thriller at its very best, so well written with beautiful descriptions of Botswana and the surrounding area, a fascinating and immensely likeable main character and a dark, dark and twisty plot. Incredible writing that has me totally engrossed from start to finish. Simply brilliant .

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

Purchase link : https://amzn.to/3sc9fOR

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. Stanley was an educational psychologist, specialising in the application of computers to teaching and

learning, and is a pilot. Michael specialised in image processing and remote sensing and taught at the University of the Witwatersrand.

On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective David ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger. 

The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award for Best Paperback Original mystery and was shortlisted for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was shortlisted for an International Thriller Writers award. 

They have also written a thriller, Dead of Night, following the investigative journalist, Crystal Nguyen, who gets caught up in the war against rhino poaching and rhino-horn smuggling.

blog tour, Book reviews, Crime thriller

Missing Pieces by Tim Weaver – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Rebekah Murphy knows too much. . .

She knows she’s alone on an abandoned island with a killer on her trail. 

She knows that to get home to her children, she must survive long enough to understand why this is happening. 

She knows someone tried to kill her for a secret.

What she doesn’t know is what that secret is . . .

Detective Frank Travis doesn’t know enough . . .

He doesn’t know where to find Louise Mason. He doesn’t know how and why she vanished into thin air three months ago. He doesn’t know the identity of the man last seen talking to her. Not yet.

But what he does know it that he’s a week away from retirement — and if he doesn’t find out where Louise went, no one will. 

What neither Rebekah nor Detective Travis realise is that each holds a missing piece from the same puzzle — and it will cost them everything they love to finally solve it . . .

MY REVIEW 

Rebekah Murphy is stranded on Crow Island, she’s in a n area ravaged by a hurricane with few facilities left.

Why is she stranded? Who is it that wants her dead?

All will become clear……eventually

The story is told from various perspectives and timelines, from Rebekah past and present which gradually reveals how she has ended up on Crow Island, and from Detective Travis and his search for a missing artist. 

Are these cases linked?

This is a thriller, absolutely packed with tension and the descriptions of the island and its weather feels almost claustrophobic adding a nail biting edge to the story. With lots of twists, a feeling of impending danger throughout this is gripping from start to finish. I need a lay down now.! Brilliant storytelling from Mr Weaver.

Thank you to Chrissie at Michal Joseph for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour and for an ARC of Missing Pieces.

Home

NOT book related but something genius I have to share lol…..

Hi, something a bit different today (not book related)….

A neighbour of mine has invented this genius product, it’s a magnetic draught excluding letterbox…stay with me people lol..it’s genius and looks great.

Here is the official blurb….

Magnetic letterbox draught excluder

High quality, easy to fit and proven to work!

Reduces cost of bills, by preventing heat loss through letterboxes

Unlike other draught excluders, Magflap’s magnetic closing doesn’t let the heat out or the cold in.

Internal or external fit, the dimensions are internal aperture 70mm x 290mm, and external measurements (outer edges) 100mmx 341mm

Pure genius 

it comes in a range of colours too, black, silver and a gold/brass colour. Simple to fit, even for a novice diy-er. Just a couple of holes needed.

This is the manufacturers website for more details 

http://www.Magflap.co.Uk

And it’s available on Amazon too….

https://amzn.to/2PEwDaf

blog tour, Book reviews, Domestic noir

Look What You Made Me Do by Nikki Smith – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Two people can keep a secret . . . if one of them is dead.

Sisters Jo and Caroline are used to hiding things from each other. They’ve never been close – taking it in turns to feel on the outside of their family unit, playing an endless game of favourites.

Jo envies Caroline’s life – things have always come so easy to her. Then a family inheritance falls entirely to Jo, and suddenly now Caroline wants what Jo has. Needs it, even.

But just how far will she go to get it?

MY REVIEW 

Look What You Made Me Do is the tale of two sisters , Jo and Caroline. They weren’t particularly close and when their father dies the secrets they have long kept hidden start to be revealed.

Beautifully written this family drama has a simmering tension as every member of this fractured family tries to keep their secrets. A tale of keeping up appearances in a toxic environment with a dark mystery just waiting to be revealed. A compelling read from start to finish. Brilliant.

Thank you to Alex at Orion Books for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour and for an ARC of Look What You Made Me Do.

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2R7iDGB 

Currently only .99p for Kindle.

Book reviews, Family drama

The Best Things by Mel Giedroyc – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Warm, funny, life-affirming and true, The Best Things is the joyous debut novel from much-loved comedian, writer, actor and presenter Mel Giedroyc. 

It’s the story of a family who lose everything, only to find themselves, and each other, along the way.

Sally and Frank Parker have it all.

Then one day, because of Frank, they don’t.

As the bailiffs move in and the money runs out, Sally realises that she and her children don’t have a clue about how to survive.

Or do they?

The Parkers are about to discover that the best things in life aren’t things at all.

MY REVIEW 

Sally Parker is married to Frank, hedge fund manager and their three children, Stephen a bit of a glutton, Cleo a tv addict and Mike a budding entrepreneur. They are wealthy and have staff to look after their day to day lives and a housekeeper, Paloma.

But then disaster strikes, a market crash wipes out their money completely and life changes drastically, but they gradually find there is more to life than money.

This is a well written, warm hug of a read. Full of great characters and a gentle humour, pure escapism, something much needed in these days of doom and gloom. 

Purchase Link:  https://amzn.to/3sPDdt0

blog tour, Book reviews, Family drama, Thriller

The Source by Sarah Sultoon – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

1996. Essex. Thirteen-year-old schoolgirl Carly lives in a disenfranchised town dominated by a military base, struggling to care for her baby sister while her mum sleeps off another binge. When her squaddie brother brings food and treats, and offers an exclusive invitation to army parties, things start to look a little less bleak…

2006. London. Junior TV newsroom journalist Marie has spent six months exposing a gang of sex traffickers, but everything is derailed when New Scotland Yard announces the re-opening of Operation Andromeda, the notorious investigation into allegations of sex abuse at an army base a decade earlier.

As the lives of these two characters intertwine around a single, defining event, a series of utterly chilling experiences is revealed, sparking a nail-biting race to find the truth… and justice.

A tense, startling and unforgettable thriller, The Source is a story about survival, about hopes and dreams, about power, abuse and resilience.

MY REVIEW 

The Source is told from two distinct perspectives, one from Carly who lives on an army base, she has an alcoholic mother and cares for her baby sister. She gets excited when invited to a ‘special’ party, but her excitement is short-lived.

The other is from a journalist who is investigating allegations of sex abuse at an army base many years ago and the police have reopened their Operation Andromed. As she investigates she has to deal with her own past.

This is not an easy read as it deals with child sexual abuse and trafficking, it’s not done in any sensational way, but shows the horrors of this vile trade in a sympathetic way……while this doesn’t make it any easier to read at times the story has you hooked from the very start.

It has a clever, engrossing plot and well developed character that you can’t help wanting to protect. A heartbreaking, eye opening and utterly compelling 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 The Source.

Purchase link : https://amzn.to/3ws16cq

ABOUT SARAH SULTOON

Sarah Sultoon is a journalist and writer whose work as an international news executive at CNN has taken her all over the world, from the seats of power in both Westminster and Washington to the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan. She has extensive experience in conflict zones, winning three Peabody awards for her work on the war in Syria, an Emmy for her contribution to the coverage of Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, and a number of Royal Television Society gongs. As passionate about fiction as nonfiction, she recently completed a Masters

of Studies in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge, adding to an undergraduate language degree in French and Spanish, and Masters of Philosophy in History, Film and Television. When not reading or writing she can usually be found somewhere outside, either running, swimming or throwing a ball for her three children and dog while she imagines what might happen if

blog tour, Book reviews, Scottish Noir

The April Dead by Alan Parks – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

NO ONE WILL FORGET . . .

In a grimy flat in Glasgow, a homemade bomb explodes, leaving few remains to identify its maker.

Detective Harry McCoy knows in his gut that there’ll be more to follow. The hunt for a missing sailor from the local US naval base leads him to the secretive group behind the bomb, and their disturbing, dominating leader.

On top of that, McCoy thinks he’s doing an old friend a favour when he passes on a warning, but instead he’s pulled into a vicious gang feud. And in the meantime, there’s word another bigger explosion is coming Glasgow’s way – so if the city is to survive, it’ll take everything McCoy’s got.

MY REVIEW 

The April Dead is #4 in the Harry McCoy series, it can also be read as a stand-alone.

Set in the ‘70s Glasgow, DI Harry McCoy has picked up his old friend Stevie, after his stint in jail. But Stevie has hardened in jail and is searching for a traitor amongst his crew.

All the while Harry is investigating a bombing, the only casualty appears to be the bomb maker. But who would set a bomb in this area of the city?

Then a second bomb explodes in the city’s cathedral.

Harry’s friend, Wattie is investigating a murder, that Stevie may have been involved in and Harry is also helping to try and find an AWOL US naval officer. So much is going on as Harry gets closer to the truth of the April dead.

This is a dark, grim and action packed thriller with a sharp, twisty plot. The characters are so well developed you can picture them easily, and the descriptions of Glasgow in the 70’s are frankly, terrifying. A marvellously gritty tale that’s compelling from start to finish. Scottish Noir at its darkest, Simply brilliant. 

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 April Dead.

Purchase link : https://amzn.to/3cqbZTX

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Alan Parks has worked in the music industry for over twenty years. His debut novel Bloody January was shortlisted for the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. He lives and works in Glasgow.

Book reviews, Crime thriller

Scare Me To Death by CJ Carver – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A homemade bomb exploded mid-air, killing 214 people on board. Thirteen people survived. 

Sixteen years later one of the survivors is found brutally bludgeoned to death. It looks like a crime of passion but DC Lucy Davies knows something is wrong. They were trying to find the bombers. 

Lucy’s search for the killer brings her into conflict with her long lost father – who has his own secrets. Dangerous secrets which Lucy must expose so she can confront a vicious murderer with only one thing on their mind. 

To keep on killing to stop the truth from getting revealed.

MY REVIEW 

Scare Me to Death is a London based, crime thriller in the series featuring retired MI5 agent Dan Forrester and DC Lucy Davies, it can also be read as a stand-alone.

Sixteen years previously a bomb caused an  explosion on a plane out of Marrakech killing nearly every passenger, apart from 13 survivors. Dan had helped save them.

In the present day, Lucy is asked to help an old school friend who has been arrested for murder. Dan is also involved and as they begin to work together, they find a link between the murder and the bombing of the plane all those years ago. All the while Lucy is trying to trace her father, who had left when she was young. 

This is a fast paced, exciting thriller it has great characters, lots of secrets and a clever twisty plot with a gasp inducing ending. Well written and compelling from start to finish.

Thank you to C.J Carver and Bloodhound books for an eARC of Scare Me To Death.

Book reviews, Non fiction

Birdsong in a Time of Silence by Steven Lovatt – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A lyrical celebration of birdsong, and the rekindling of a deep passion for nature.

“At this time of year, blackbirds never simply fly: instead, like reluctantly retired officers, they’re always ‘on manoeuvres’, and it’s easy to see from their constant agitation that for them every flower bed is a bunker, every shed a redoubt and every hedge-bottom a potential place of ambush”

As the world went silent in lockdown, something else happened; for the first time, many of us started becoming more aware of the spring sounds of the birds around us. Birdsong in a Time of Silence is a lyrical, uplifting reflection on these sounds and what they mean to us.

From a portrait of the blackbird – most prominent and articulate of the early spring singers – to explorations of how birds sing, the science behind their choice of song and nest-sites, and the varied meanings that people have brought to and taken from birdsong, this book ultimately shows that natural history and human history cannot be separated. It is the story of a collective reawakening brought on by the strangest of springs.

MY REVIEW 

Birdsong in a Time Of Silence is a beautifully written, almost poetic, book about birds and their songs, something many of us have noticed so much more this past year. With lockdowns and shielding, for some of us the only link to nature available is the birds in our gardens.

This book clearly shows Steven Lovatt’s love of birds, I loved reading about his childhood memories evoked by the simple sound of a bird singing, from the alarm calls of a blackbird to the knife grinding of the magpie. 

It also tells of their feats of endurance during migration, the effects of climate change and the destruction of many bird habitats. All mixed with interesting facts for n just how a bird sings, their physiology and habits.

The author has a beautiful way with language and his way of using metaphors to explain what he means, makes this an interesting and totally engaging read. An absolute joy to read.

blog tour, Book reviews, Crime thriller, Police procedural

Nighthawking by Russ Thomas – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

After the gut-punch ending of Firewatching, DS Adam Tyler returns to another shocking cold case…

A body has been discovered in Sheffield’s beautiful Botanical Gardens. A young woman, dead from a stab wound, buried in a quiet corner. Police quickly determine that the body has been there for months, and would have gone undiscovered for years – but someone has dug it up.

Who is the victim? Who killed her and buried the body, resting two ancient Roman coins over her eyes? And who dug her up?

DS Adam Tyler will find himself drawn into the secretive world of nighthawkers: treasure-hunters who operate under cover of darkness, seeking the lost and valuable, and willing to kill to keep what they find…

MY REVIEW 

Nighthawking is the follow up to Firewatching, a Sheffield based crime series featuring the DS Adam Tyler and DC Mina Rabbini working in the Cold Case Review Unit. 

Adam’s dad, Richard, has died and this was put down as suicide, but Adam believes it to be murder. He is investigating this alone and Mina is covering for his absences against her better judgment.

One night, a metal detectorist is ‘nighthawking’ in Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens, and makes a find he wasn’t expecting, a buried body.

With murder enquiries and Adam doing his own thing, Mina is swamped and things get complicated.

Slowly, all begins to come together.

This is a dark, twisty thriller full of tension and suspense. It has a mix of the characters personal lives, with Adam making a mess of his relationship with Paul, and Mina who is keeping work under control, she really is a force to be reckoned with, and the police investigations.  With its clever plot, marvellous characters and a truly nail biting end, this is utterly compelling . I’m already looking forward to book 3.

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

Purchase Link : https://amzn.to/3s9JCPf

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Russ Thomas was born in Essex, raised in Berkshire and now lives in Sheffield. After a few ‘proper’ jobs (among them: pot-washer, optician’s receptionist, supermarket warehouse operative, call-centre telephonist, and storage salesman) he discovered the joys of bookselling, where he could talk to people about books all day. His highly-acclaimed debut novel, Firewatching, is the first in the DS Adam Tyler series and published in February 2020. Nighthawking, the second book in the series, will publish in February 2021.