Book reviews, Gothic horror, Psychlogical thriller, Supernatural

(S)witchboard by Andrew Post – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

It’s only as haunted as you are.

After two raids turn up zero evidence, narcotics detective Dwayne Spare infiltrates a crumbling apartment building where a suspected manufacturer of krokodil is hiding—but finds something much worse. The chemist Gerald Metzger isn’t after money; he’s lulling his most ‘dedicated’ customers into catatonia, to make contact with an eldritch being.

When Dwayne’s cover is blown, he becomes Metzger’s new test subject, an involuntary pilgrim into a world where “it’s all just in your head” is far from a reassuring statement.
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MY REVIEW

Well, what can I say about Switchboard, this is a trippy nightmare that grabs you by the throat and won’t let go…….

Dwayne Spare is a cop, he has been chasing George Metzger for some time but somehow he knows when they are coming and all evidence of his Krokodil production has disappeared. So he decides to go undercover and moves into the same apartment block, he sets up his surveillance cameras and phone tap…..what could go wrong?

Well Metzger knows and uses Dwayne as another of his ‘dreamers’……

Can he hear him?

It starts off like a solid police procedural,  but oh dear god! It descends into a nightmarish tale of a twisted limbo….where the worlds of the living and the dead meet in ‘dreams’ to the extent no one knows who or what are real……..it’s not all in your head! The more damaged you are the worse it gets……

Metzger controls this, listening for voicemail from the thing in the basement……phones connecting to the dead……a switchboard to a ghostly world where time no longer exists and reality unravels….

Bizarre, brutal and horrific at times but utterly compelling…….I need a lie down now, but not on a stained carpet!!!!!!!

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Andrew Post was born in Erie, Pennsylvania (imagine Eraserhead but in color). While he was honing his craft as a writer (those early stories were awful) he worked in a gift shop in one of the scuzziest hotels in the Midwest, he cleaned rental cars (also gross), he was a butcher (despite being a vegetarian), and in 2013 his first novel, the cyberpunk thriller, Knuckleduster, was published. No one really seemed to care much but he kept at it and has since published a handful of other works to varying degrees of resulting public interest with a few seeing translations and one almost became a movie (that lit agent has since been fired).

Andrew lives in a sleepy river town in Minnesota where he may or may not be planning aquatic “accidents” to befall the many other authors who live in the area and he has been mistaken for Rob Zombie on no less than ten separate occasions.

Twitter @MegaDeluxo

 

Book reviews, Police procedural, Psychlogical thriller

The Soul Killer by Ross Greenwood – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

The Soul Killer

‘Repent in this life, rejoice in the next…’

A murder made to look like suicide. Another that appears to be an accident. DI Barton investigates the tragedies that have shattered a family’s lives, but without obvious leads the case goes nowhere. 

Then, when the remains of a body are found, everything points to one suspect.

Barton and his team move quickly, and once the killer is behind bars, they can all breathe a sigh of relief. But death still lurks in the shadows, and no one’s soul is safe. Not even those of the detectives…

How do you stop a killer that believes life is a rehearsal for eternity, and their future is worth more than your own…?

Ross Greenwood writes gritty, heart-pounding thrillers, with twists aplenty, and unforgettable endings. Perfect for fans of Mark Billingham and Stuart MacBride.

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MY REVIEW 

This starts with the disturbing childhood of a young boy and his ultra religious mother…he is used to pain!

DI Barton is still recovering from dealing with the Snow Killer, when he starts investigating sudden deaths in a family.

As the body count grows Barton is drawn into the dark mind of the Soul Killer….

I can’t say too much for fear of spoiling the plot, but this is a dark, psychological serial killer thriller. It’s disturbing, action filled, truly chilling and thoroughly engrossing. 

Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources and Boldwood Books for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and and an eARC of the book.

 

Purchase Links – https://amzn.to/32oszvj

 

Author Bio – 

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Ross Greenwood is the author of six crime thrillers. Before becoming a full-time writer he was most recently a prison officer and so worked everyday with murderers, rapists and thieves for four years. He lives in Peterborough. 

 

Social Media Links – 

Newsletter sign up: http://bit.ly/RossGreenwoodNewsletter

https://twitter.com/greenwoodross

https://www.facebook.com/RossGreenwoodAuthor

http://bookbub.com/authors/ross-greenwood

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Book reviews, Historical fiction

When We Fall by Carolyn Kirby – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Based on the Katyn massacre of 1940, When We Fall is a moving historical novel of three lives forever altered by one fatal choice.

April – May 2020 marks 80 years since the Katyn massacre and 10th April 2020 also marks the 10th anniversary of the airline crash that killed top Polish dignitaries on their way to Russia to commemorate the atrocity.

England, 1943. Lost in fog, Air Transport Auxiliary pilot Vee Katchatourian is forced to make an emergency landing where she meets enigmatic RAF airman Stefan Bergel, and then can’t get him out of her mind.

In occupied Poland, Ewa Hartman hosts German officers in her father’s guest house, while secretly gathering intelligence for the Polish resistance. Mourning her lover, Stefan, who was captured by the Soviets at the start of the war, Ewa is shocked to see him on the street one day.

Haunted by a terrible choice he made in captivity, Stefan asks Vee and Ewa to help him expose one of the darkest secrets of the war. But it is not clear where everyone’s loyalties lie until they are tested.

All of the victims of the Katyn massacre were men, except, remarkably, for one woman. And when I discovered that this woman, Janina Lewandowska, was a pilot, I knew that the Polish experience would become the heart of my novel… The story I tell is fiction, but it is one that I could not have begun to imagine without the remarkable life and death of Janina Lewandowska. CAROLYN KIRBY

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MY REVIEW 

When We Fall is set during WWII and is a fictional story which centres on the real Katyn massacre.

Vee is a pilot, flying planes between RAF airbases in the UK. Lost in the fog, she lands and meets Stefan, a Polish man in the RAF.

Ewa lives in Poland in a German occupied town. Her father runs a hotel for Germans only, he does this to protect his family. Ewa is a member of the Polish Resistance and passes information from SS officers to them. Her lover, Stefan was a POW and has been missing now for 3 years.

This marvellous tale tells of life during these troubled times, how Vee deals with racism and sexism as a female pilot of Armenian descent, and of Ewa, her bravery and commitment to fighting for what’s right. All linked by Stefan and the horrific massacre at Katyn. 

Beautifully written with great characters, full of an atmosphere so evocative of the time and place. A mix of love, bravery and the horrors of war. A truly stunning read.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and an eARC of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/3bwMtbY

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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CAROLYN KIRBY is the author of The Conviction of Cora Burns which was longlisted for the Historical Writers’ Association Debut Crown Award.

Before being a full-time writer, Carolyn worked in social housing and as a teacher.

She has two grown-up daughters and lives with her husband in Oxfordshire.

 

carolynkirby.com @novelcarolyn 

Book reviews, Family drama, LGBTQ, Mental Health, Supernatural, Thriller

Draca by Geoffrey Gudgion – Book Review

 

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A war-damaged veteran on a mission to self- destruct…

… a controlling father pushing him ever closer to the edge…

… and a yachtswoman who gives all she has to hold him back.

And between them all, there’s an old boat with dark secrets, and perhaps a mind of its own.
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MY REVIEW

Old Eddie was fascinated by Viking culture and when he dies of cancer, his grandson, Jack,  decides to restore Eddie’s beloved boat, Draca. 

Jack is suffering from PTSD after his experiences in Afghanistan that left him damaged physically and psychologically. He is at odds with his father, Harry and his marriage to Charlotte is struggling too. He meets George, at the boatyard and she sees more than people know and has serious worries about Jack and Draca.

Will Jack give Eddie the send off he wanted, or is he on a different path?

This is a story of grief, not only that for lost family but of friends and the past. It deals with the stresses suffered by those in the armed forces, all set against the atmospheric sea and sailing. Beautifully descriptive, full of tension but with an emotional heart. A stunning read. 

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and my thanks to Geoffrey Gudgion for an eARC of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/2Lm7207

Draca was released by Unbound on 14th May. Coronavirus logistics issues may result in Amazon being temporarily out of stock of paperback copies until early June. During this period Unbound will accept orders directly and will ship free of UK postage via https://unbound.com/books/draca/

PRAISE FOR DRACA

 

‘A terrific and compelling story which highlights mental and physical challenges that many who have served will recognise.’

General Sir Nick Parker Commander British Forces Afghanistan 2010

 

‘A cracking, believable yarn made even more authentic by the wonderfully descriptive sailing scenes – and by falling in love with the true heroine, the Bristol Channel pilot cutter Draca.’

Ewen Southby-Tailyour OBE, former Yachtsman of the Year

 

‘Tension release, tension release, fear, laughter, fear, lust, so you don’t notice the tightening of the noose … the story sucks you in and won’t let go.

Suzie Wilde, Author of Sea Paths and Obsidian

 

‘A really cracking read about a soldier who attacks his battlefield demons through his passion for sailing – and sadly still needs help’

Sir Peter Wall, President of Combat Stress

 

Author royalties from Draca are shared equally with the veterans’ charity Combat Stress.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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GEOFFREY GUDGION served for over 10 years in the armed forces, and made his first attempts at writing fiction during quiet moments on deployment. He later stepped off the corporate ladder, in the midst of a career in marketing and general management, specifically to release time to write. His first novel, Saxon’s Bane, reached #1 in Amazon Kindle’s ‘Ghost’ category, and he now writes full time. When not crafting words he is an enthusiastic amateur equestrian and a very bad pianist. 

Book reviews, Political thriller, Thriller

The Kompromat Kill by Michael Jenkins – Book Review

 

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

They were preparing for decades – now it’s time to take them down.

When a British Diplomat is kidnapped in the heart of London, followed by a brutal double-assassination in Chelsea, MI5 braces for the threat of deep sleeper cells coming alive.

Hiding overseas with a price on his head, Sean Richardson is tasked to lead a deniable operation to hunt down and recruit an international model and spy. Moving across Asia Minor and Europe, Sean embarks on a dangerous journey tracking an Iranian spy ring who hold the keys to a set of consequences the British Intelligence Services would rather not entertain.

As Sean investigates deeper, he uncovers dark secrets from his past and a complex web of espionage spun from the hand of a global master spy. As he inches closer to the truth, the rules of the game change – and the nerve-wracking fate of many lives sits in his hands…….……..

Tense, absorbing, and insightful, The Kompromat Kill is a gripping thriller leaving you breathless at the pace of intrigue, cleverly unravelled in a dramatic finale.

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MY REVIEW 

Sean is in trouble , he has a price on his head, a ruined career and a certain way of doing things…..his way!

His latest exploit is helping his former employer locate someone and find out just who they are working for…..

He finds out more secrets than expected and his safety is in danger again and again. 

The British Secret Service call on Sean for help on other cases….but are these linked?

Lots of action, espionage, Russians and danger. This is edge of your seat excitement from start to finish….if you like an action packed spy thriller, you’ll love this.

Thank you to Emma at Damppebbles Blog Tours for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour. 

 

Originally posted on 23 July.

 

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Book reviews, Contemporary fiction, Family drama, Womens fiction

Like A House On Fire by Caroline Hulse – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Things Stella and Jack have had blazing rows about:

– Misquoting Jurassic Park.

– Leaving a Coke can on the side of the bath.

– Fitting car seats for their hypothetical kids.

In other news, they’re getting divorced.

But first, Stella’s mum is throwing a murder mystery party and – with her dad losing his job, her mum’s recent diagnosis, and some very odd behaviour from her sister – now is not the time to tell everyone.

All Stella and George have to do is make it through the day without their break-up being discovered – though it will soon turn out that having secrets runs in the family…

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MY REVIEW 

Margaret has been diagnosed with cancer, so she arranges a Murder Mystery party for all family and friends to attend, before she’s expected to start treatment. 

Stella and George have separated, but haven’t told anyone in the family yet. Due to her mother’s health, Stella persuades George to attend with her and pretend nothing is wrong.

Helen, Nathan, Isobel and Charlie also go, but Helen, the dependable, organised and cheerful daughter, is late…..

This is a tale of family, of secrets and how the public face we project sometimes isn’t who we really are, hiding emotions and fears. It is a wonderfully written insight into life in all its messy glory. Caroline Hulse’s writing is so beautifully observant and totally spot on, full of humour, family bickering and farce at times, but with some sad moments too . This is a thoughtful, funny and compelling read. I loved every minute. 

Thank you to Alex at Orion Books for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour and for an eARC of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

 

Caroline Hulse spends most of her days writing, having fulfilled her dream of having a job she could do in pyjamas. She also works in Human Resources sometimes.

She is openly competitive and loves playing board and card games. She can often be found in casino poker rooms, and wishes other people would want to play Cluedo for money.

She lives with her husband in Manchester, UK, where the two are captive to the whims of a small, controlling dog 

Book reviews, Mystery, Thriller

Overboard by Ivy Ngeow – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Thailand. An epic storm. A shipwreck. A white man has been found alive.

But who is he? Suffering horrific injuries and burns, he is taken to a local hospital. He is mute. Everything is a blank. They tell him his name. That is all he knows. When his Chinese wife arrives, he has no choice but to return to London to her family. He starts getting better with care and more surgery until one day… he’s assaulted. And he knows why.

The blow brings back a dangerous memory. But he’s crippled, disfigured and penniless… and he’s living the life of the man they think he is. What will he risk to uncover the truth?

If you like a compelling, suspenseful thriller with witty dialogue and taut, dark storytelling, you’ll love Ivy Ngeow’s Overboard. Discover today what it means to go Overboard… jump off and start your adventure now.

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MY REVIEW 

Overboard starts with a shipwreck and there’s only one survivor. A man with amnesia.

Phoebe is told her husband is alive, but horrifically injured and disfigured.

Dominique is told her husband died in a boating accident.

Przemek is working for both women.

and then there is You…telling their side of the story.

I can’t say much more for fear of spoilers, but I can say this is a compelling thriller, told from four very different characters and their perspectives. It builds gradually as it all starts to link together towards the final reveal.

Overboard is a masterpiece of character building and plotting. It’s sharp, witty dialogue mixed with a tension filled tale makes this a stunning, almost poetic thriller. I love Ivy Ngeow’s writing and her use of language just sparkles. I loved it.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a special thank you to Ivy Ngeow for a copy of the book (and the sparkly cloud!). This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Overboard-compelling-modern- suspense-novel/dp/1913584003

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Ivy Ngeow was born and raised in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. A graduate of the Middlesex University Writing MA programme, Ivy won the 2005 Middlesex University Literary Prize out of almost 1500 entrants worldwide. 

She has written non-fiction for Marie Claire, The Star, The New Straits Times, South London Society of Architects’ Newsletter and Wimbledon magazine. Her fiction has appeared in Silverfish New Writing anthologies twice, The New Writer and on the BBC World Service. Most recently, her story was published by Fixi Novo in an anthology.

Ivy won first prize in the Commonwealth Essay Writing Competition 1994, first prize in the Barnes and Noble Career Essay Writing competition 1998 and was shortlisted for the David T K Wong Fellowship 1998 and the Ian St James Award 1999.

Ivy has been a highly-accomplished multi-instrumental musician since childhood and won fifth prize (out of 850 entrants) in the 2006 1-MIC (Music Industry Charts) UK Award for her original song – Celebrity, when she formed her own band, Satsuma (2005-07). Her songs are funky, modern and eclectic, with strong urban grooves and

lyrics. Satsuma has played headlining gigs at top London venues such as: The Marquee Club, The Troubadour Club, The Water Rats, The Betsey Trotwood, Plan B and Clockwork.

 

Website : http://www.writengeow.com/ Twitter: @ivyngeow
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Paperback: 388 pages

  • Publisher: Leopard Print Publishing (24 Jan. 2020) • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1913584003
  • ISBN-13: 978-1913584009

 

Book reviews, Murder mystery

Death Of A Mermaid by Lesley Thomson – Book Review


PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Freddy left her childhood home in Newhaven twenty-two years ago and swore never to return. But now her parents are dead, and she’s back in her hometown to help her brothers manage the family fishmonger. Nothing here has changed: the stink of fish coming up from the marshes; the shopping trolleys half-buried by muddy tides; the neighbours sniffing for a new piece of gossip.

It’s not what Freddy would have chosen, but at least while she’s here she’ll get to see her childhood best friends, Toni and Mags. At school, the three of them were inseparable. The teachers called them the Mermaids for their obsession with the sea, and with each other.

Then Mags goes missing, and Freddy must decide. Go back home to her new life, or stay in Newhaven and find her friend?

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MY REVIEW 

The Mermaids were a group of school friends in Newhaven. Now grown up, Mags and Toni are still in the town, Freddy had left after a family disagreement years before.

But, Freddy returns as her mother is dying, Toni is a cop and investigating a murder and Mags, has disappeared.  What happened in the women’s past that has them worried.

Set in a small fishing community, this is a murder mystery, but at its heart is a tale of friendship, secrets and guilt. It’s a slow burn of a thriller, but so atmospheric and twisty with some real surprises along the way. A thoroughly entertaining read.

Thank you to Vicky at Head Of Zeus for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and an eARC of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here : https://amzn.to/3fqTKgJ
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lesley Thomson was born in 1958 and grew up in London. She went to Holland Park Comprehensive and the Universities of Brighton and Sussex. Her novel A Kind of Vanishing won The People’s Book Prize in 2010. Lesley combines writing with teaching creative writing. She lives in Lewes with her partner.

 

 

 

Audiobook, Book reviews, Crime thriller, Family drama

What’s Left Of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott – Audiobook Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

In Japan, a covert industry has grown up around the “wakaresaseya” (literally “breaker-upper”), a person hired by one spouse to seduce the other in order to gain the advantage in divorce proceedings.

When Satō hires Kaitarō, a wakaresaseya agent, to have an affair with his wife, Rina, he assumes it will be an easy case. But Satō has never truly understood Rina or her desires and Kaitarō’s job is to do exactly that–until he does it too well. 

While Rina remains ignorant of the circumstances that brought them together, she and Kaitarō fall in a desperate, singular love, setting in motion a series of violent acts that will forever haunt her daughter’s life. As Rina’s daughter, Sumiko, fills in the gaps of her mother’s story and her own memory, Scott probes the thorny psychological and moral grounds of the actions we take in the name of love, asking where we draw the line between passion and possession.
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MY REVIEW 

Sumiko is telling the story of her mother’s life.

Sumiko’s father, Satō, used the services of an wakaresaseya, to seduce his wife, Rina, so he could then divorce her for adultery. But his plan goes awry with consequences that echo through all their lives and lead to a tragic crime.

Sumiko had been unaware of this history until a phone call brings these secrets to light. She decides to find the truth of what happened to her mother.

This is an incredible and beautifully written tale of love and betrayal, of loss and grief all set in the stunning backdrop of Japan and its unique culture.

I listened to this as an audiobook and found the narration by Hanako Footman to be mesmerising, she has such a soothing voice and the emotions come across so perfectly. A stunning, tragic love story beautifully told. Haunting and unforgettable.

Thank you to Kate at Orion Books for the opportunity to listen to this audiobook from Audible for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

Available from Audible.co.uk :  

Book reviews, Extract

The Beauty Chorus by Kate Lord Brown -* EXTRACT*

Welcome to the blog tour for the marvellous The Beauty Chorus by Kate Lord Brown. I’m excited to share an extract from the book, but first a little about the novel.

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PUBLISHERS BLURB

New Year’s Eve 1940: Evie Chase, the beautiful debutante daughter of an RAF commander, listens wistfully to the swing music drifting out from the ballroom. With bombs falling nightly in London, she is determined to make a difference to the war effort.  Evie joins the ATA – the civilian pilots who ferry fighter planes to bases across war-torn Britain. Two other women wait nervously to join up with her – Stella Grainger, a forlorn young mother from Singapore, and Megan Jones, an idealistic teenager who has never left her Welsh village before.  Billeted together in a tiny cottage, Stella, Megan and Evie learn to live and work together as they find romance, confront loss and forge friendships that last a lifetime.

 

Kate Lord Brown grew up in a wild and beautiful part of Devon. She read Philosophy at Durham and Art History at the Courtauld Institute and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, curating collections for palaces and embassies in Europe and the Middle East. Kate has travelled and lived around the world with her airline pilot husband and gained a MA in creative writing from the Manchester Writing School MMU. She was a finalist in the ITV People’s Author contest 2009, and her international bestseller The Perfume Garden was shortlisted for the UK Romantic Novel of the Year 2014. Kate currently lives in the Middle East with her family, and she was a regional winner in this year’s BBC International Radio Playwriting Competition.

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and now here’s the extract…

 

THE EXTRACT

 


Squires Gate, 11.39 a.m., Sunday 5th January, 1941

I have four and a half hours to live. I am leaning against the wing of the yellow-bellied Airspeed Oxford, smoking contentedly while the ground crew chaps run their final checks. The freezing rain hisses as it hits the glowing coal of my cigarette, drums softly on the tin roof of the hangar. Call me Johnnie, by the way. Everyone does.

There is no changing fate, but when I look back at my last moments on earth I want to rush through the molecules of my body and shake off my reverie: I want to yell ‘Wake up, you silly bugger, make the most of this! This is the last time you will feel the rain on your face, the ground beneath your feet.’ But I didn’t believe in premonitions and guardian angels so I doubt I would sense anything. Now I know better.

The flight to the RAF base at Kidlington in Oxfordshire should have been simple enough – ninety minutes at most. What I did with my last hours is a mystery. The journey is a government secret still. Maybe I’ll tell you why I died 100 miles off course, maybe I won’t. Why don’t you make up your own mind?

 

WINTER

 

Ten, nine, eight …’ Swing music and laughter from the party drifted out through the open door to Evie. As she walked down the long moonlit driveway to her father’s house, snowflakes caught on her eyelashes. Her footsteps on the frozen gravel fell into time with the big-band tune bubbling into the chill midnight air and she sang under her breath: ‘How High the Moon …’ The Bentleys and Rolls Royces parked along the drive had a light coating of snow on them already, and in spite of her white fur coat she shivered with cold, her feet frozen in her silver eveningshoes.

‘Miss Evelyn!’ The butler stepped forward to catch her mink coat as it slipped from her shoulders. As the staff door swung closed, Evie caught sight of the grey-uniformed chauffeurs smoking and chatting, one with the pink-cheeked housemaid on his knee sipping Guinness. ‘Your father has been asking for you,’ the butler said as she shook the snow from her glossy dark hair.

‘Has he, Ross?’ She smoothed her pale silver satin Schiaparelli gown, and raised her chin defiantly as a cheer went up.

‘1941!’ Leo ‘Lucky’ Chase cried out, one arm raising a glass of champagne, the other clutching Virginia, his latest wife.

‘I’m amazed he even noticed I’d gone.’ Evie nodded her thanks to Ross. She touched up her red lipstick in the hall mirror then twisted her shoulder to adjust the long rope of diamonds that fell from her throat to the deep curved back of the dress. She glanced down at the hem of her gown and noticed for the first time how wet it was from trudging through the snow. ‘In for a penny …’ she murmured.

Instead of going in to the party, Evie walked on across the marble hall. Heads turned as she passed, the silver dress rippling over her curves like mercury. She flung open the terrace windows and slipped off her shoes, swinging them nonchalantly in one hand. She dropped them at the edge of the steaming, heated pool. Leo liked it to be warm all year. A crowd gathered on the terrace as Evie executed a perfect dive, her body streaking underwater like a silver fish before surfacing at the other end. A cheer greeted her as she stepped elegantly up from the pool, squeezing the water from her hair.

‘Evie! You’re bonkers!’ A young officer in uniform planted a kiss on her cheek and draped a blanket around her shoulders. ‘Happy New Year!’

‘Hello, Peter.’ She slipped her arm through his.

‘Come on, let’s get you inside before you catch your death.’

He led her around the packed dance floor to the bar. People smiled indulgently as she passed – you could always count on Evie to make an entrance.

‘Where have you been all night?’

A drunken girl in a pale blue bias-cut gown giggled as Peter handed Evie a brandy.

‘I went to see Mary, Charles’s mother.’

Evie put the glass on the mantelpiece and warmed her toes by the fire. Somehow she managed to make even a blanket look like an elegant wrap.

‘How is she?’ The smile fell from Peter’s face as Evie pursed her lips and shrugged. ‘Jolly decent of you to go out tonight.’

‘I didn’t like to think of her alone. She looked so awfully sad on Boxing Day.’

‘Of all of us, I thought Charlie would make it through,’ Peter said quietly. ‘He was so full of life. I’ll never forget the two of you bombing down that black run in Chamonix. You were determined to beat him.’

Evie shook her head. ‘He was like a brother to me. You never can tell which one of us is going to get bumped off next.’

‘Evie!’ Leo cut through the crowd towards her. He barely cleared five feet, but he was a dynamo of a man and whenever he bore down on her Evie pictured a missile skimming through water. Without her heels their gazes locked, eye to eye. He eyed her wet, clinging dress with exasperation.

She held up a hand. ‘Before you start, I went to see Mary.’

Nonplussed, he thought quickly.‘She’s only in the next village. What took so long?’

‘I ran out of petrol.’

‘Not again! How many times have I told you?’

‘Daddy, I can’t get used to this rationing … I thought I had enough left.’

‘You can’t drive on fumes! Especially not at the speed you drive. Where’s the Aston?’

‘On the verge between here and White Waltham.’ He frowned. ‘I’ll send Cullen in the morning.’ ‘Sorry, Daddy.’ Evie bit her lip.

‘What am I going to do with you?’ As Leo embraced her, Evie saw the scowl on Virginia’s face and raised a triumphant eyebrow. ‘Happy New Year.’ She planted a quick kiss on his cheek before he bustled back into the party. Her father’s cocksure, springing step reminded her of a Jack Russell out on the razzle, up to no good.

‘I don’t know how you do it.’ Peter shook his head.

Evie watched her father in his element, surrounded by friends

and hangers-on, and that old familiar loneliness crept in. ‘Years of practice. So,’ she said briskly, ‘what have I missed?’

‘It’s been marvellous!’ the drunken girl trilled. ‘Lucky always throws the most wonderful parties. Tonight you’d never know there was a war on!’ A young soldier grabbed her hand and pulled her onto the dance floor as the big band struck up ‘In the Mood’.

7

Evie shook her head. ‘Silly girl.’

‘Come on old thing!’ Peter laughed. ‘You’re only twenty yourself! Have some fun.’

She shook her head. ‘No. I’m tired of …’ She waved her hand. ‘All this. Talking to Mary tonight, I felt I must do something. Even the Countess of Wharncliffe is running a bomb factory, and I heard the Duchess of Norfolk is breeding rabbits.’

‘What do you know about bombs and rabbits?’

‘Nothing, but I could learn.’ Evie frowned.

Peter tilted his head, gently took her in his arms. ‘Don’t be blue. Charlie …’ He sighed. ‘It’s just awful bad luck, but if we let every death get to us, we’ll never win this bloody war. We’ve got to be strong.’ His voice shook slightly. ‘Besides which, this is my last night of freedom, and I at least deserve to have some fun.’

‘I’m sorry, Peter.’ Evie shivered as she pulled the blanket around her. ‘I’d forgotten. When are you leaving?’

‘I have to be at Debden first thing.’

‘When I see all you chaps going off to fly, I wish—’

‘You’re a more natural pilot than I’ll ever be!’ Peter cut in. His gaze settled on a table of men in uniform on the other side of the dance floor. ‘Are you serious?’

‘About what?’

‘Doing something useful.’

‘Absolutely!’

‘Come on then.’ He took her arm and steered her through the crowd, stopping at the table. ‘Excuse me, sir.’ He leant down to talk to the distinguished-looking grey-haired officer smoking a pipe. ‘Squadron Leader Peter Taylor.’

The officer stood and shook his hand. ‘Pleased to meet you.’ He turned to Evie. ‘And this lovely young lady is Miss Chase, if I am not mistaken?’ He kissed her hand.

‘Evie, this is Captain Eric Bailey.’

‘But you can call me Badger, everyone does.’ He smiled as he smoothed the white streak in his hair. ‘At least behind my back.’

‘Miss Chase is a pilot, sir,’ Peter said. 

Bailey eyed her wet dress. ‘Really? I’d have had you down as a sailor.’

‘Most amusing, sir.’

‘How many hours have you got?’ Bailey sucked at his pipe. ‘Oh, not—’ Evie’s eyes opened wide.

‘She’s a very good pilot,’ Peter interrupted. Turning to Evie he said pointedly,

‘Captain Bailey helps run the Air Transport Auxiliary at White Waltham.’ ‘The ferry pilots?’ She held Peter’s gaze. He nodded. ‘What have you flown?’ Bailey folded his arms.

‘Tiger Moths mainly.’ She tried to sound confident. Tiger Moths only, she thought, and a couple of hundred hours at that. ‘Well, Miss Chase, we need good pilots. Why don’t you come over to White Waltham one morning and see what you think?’ ‘Really?’

‘It’s not what you’re used to. But we need all the chaps …’ he corrected himself, ‘and gals we can get our hands on. In fact, we have some new recruits arriving tomorrow. Why don’t you join them, come along for a test flight and see what you think? Ask for Commander Pauline Gower.’ He shook their hands and rejoined his table.

‘Why didn’t Daddy tell me he was going to be here?’ she said to Peter as they

stepped onto the dance floor. Peter laughed as he swung her around to the music. ‘Probably because he knew you’d jump at the chance of signing up. 

Book reviews, Crime thriller, Police procedural

The Sideman by Caro Ramsay – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Inside a beautiful Victorian family home in Glasgow’s West End, a mother and her young son are found brutally murdered. DI Costello is furious and knows exactly who did it, George Haggerty, the husband and father. The only problem is that Haggerty has a cast-iron alibi – the police themselves caught him speeding on the A9 at the time of the murders. But Costello can’t let it go. Determined to expose Haggerty as a ruthless killer, she’s gone solo.

DCI Colin Anderson has no time to ponder his partner of twenty years going rogue, as his own cases are piling up. But Costello’s absence becomes increasingly worrying. Has she completely disappeared following the tracks of a dangerous man?
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MY REVIEW

This starts with Costello’s letter of resignation. She is troubled by the murders of Abigail and her son, Malcolm. She knows, George Haggerty, Abigail’s husband and Malcolm’s father is responsible, but he’s got away with it.

Costello’s partner, Anderson is upset she didn’t tell him of her plans, after 20 working together he thought he knew her. He’s worried about her, but is busy with events in his personal life and at work with new cases.

But then Costello disappears……is this linked to the new cases or something else?

The Sideman is an absolutely compelling read, the plot is complex and twisty, but gradually builds to a thoroughly satisfying ending. As always there are great, well rounded characters with all their flaws and a nail biting tension from start to finish. A fantastic addition to the series.

Thank you to Amber at Midas PR for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and a free copy of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review. 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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CARO RAMSAY is the Glaswegian author of the critically acclaimed Anderson and Costello series, the first of which, Absolution, was shortlisted for the CWA’s New Blood Dagger for best debut of the year. The ninth book in the series, The Suffering of Strangers, was longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize 2018.

 

Book reviews, Family drama, Womens fiction

The Carer by Deborah Moggach – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

 

‘Moggach is at the height of her powers with this book, which moves from a beautifully observed comedy of middle-class life to an immensely moving celebration of two imperfect marriages’ The Sunday Times

 

‘A cracking, crackling social comedy, with some brilliant observations about ageing and a devilish plot twist’

The Times.

 

From the bestselling author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Tulip Fever, a deliciously funny, poignant and wry novel, full of surprising twists and turns:

James is getting on a bit and needs full-time help. So Phoebe and Robert, his middle-aged offspring, employ Mandy, who seems willing to take him off their hands. But as James regales his family with tales of Mandy’s virtues, their shopping trips and the shared pleasure of their journeys to garden centres, Phoebe and Robert sense something is amiss.

Then something extraordinary happens which throws everything into new relief, changing all the stories of their childhood – and the father – that they thought they knew so well.

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MY REVIEW 

The Carer is a tale of life, of siblings dealing with the stresses of caring for an elderly, infirm parent. Phoebe is single and childless with a hippy, off grid ‘boyfriend’, Torren. Richard is married to Farida, a TV news reader, he’s jobless and working on a novel in the shed.

Both feel the other sibling doesn’t understand the stresses of worrying about their dad, James, they feel the other doesn’t spend enough time or effort with him. But then along comes Mandy, a live in carer. She’s brash, her politics are at odds with theirs and she’s not ‘like’ them at all. But she’s perfect, James loves her company and they have a hoot.

Then Phoebe and Richard begin to suspect Mandy is not all she appears to be and they have suspicions she is after James’ money.

Oh my, I love this book, it’s poignant, full of humour and honesty. From the stress of looking after an elderly, infirm parent to the sibling bickering, the general messiness of life , childhood feelings of neglect and coming to terms with the fact that parents are just human after all.

It really touched a nerve with me as I cared for my mother for several years (she’s now in a care home due to dementia) and my brother and I have very similar arguments as Phoebe and Richard. It’s so true to life.

It also deals with grief and there are some surprises along the way. A truly emotional and engaging read. One that will stay with me.

Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and an eARC of The Carer. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

Purchase link : https://amzn.to/3de9aD3

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Deborah Moggach, OBE is an English novelist and an award-winning screenwriter. She has written nineteen novels, including The Ex-Wives, Tulip Fever, These Foolish Thing, Heartbreak Hotel and Something to Hide. She lives in London.

 

THE CARER

 

Paperback published 14th May 2020 by Tinder Press, £8.99

Also available in Hardback, eBook and Audiobook

 

Book reviews

The Girl Who Found The Sun by Matthew S. Cox – *SPOTLIGHT*

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I am pleased to be part of the tour for The Girl Who Found The Sun, this is a little spotlight on the book.

 

 

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

It started with the insects. 

The mass die-offs had been a warning unheeded. Before society realized the danger, the Earth had inexorably begun a transformation into a place where life could not survive. A small group found shelter in the Arc, an underground refuge safe from the toxins ravaging the surface. 

After centuries of darkness, humanity’s second chance is running out—and Raven Wilder knows it. 

Her job fixing the machinery in the Arc makes her aware of how close everything is to breaking down. When the systems fail, the last survivors of the human race will suffocate in the tunnels meant to protect them from the deadly air outside—starting with the most vulnerable. Unfortunately, in an example of history repeating itself, those in charge dismiss her concerns. 

When her six-year-old begins showing signs of oxygen deprivation, Raven refuses to go quietly into oblivion. 

She will break every rule to keep her daughter alive.
Thank you to Blackthorn Tours for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour and for the promotional material.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

 

Originally from South Amboy NJ, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds fDA6C6941-8670-4190-BC49-45BD020346EEor most of his reasoning life. Since 1996, he has developed the “Divergent Fates” world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, The Awakened Series, The Harmony Paradox, the Prophet of the Badlands series, and the Daughter of Mars series take place. His books span adult, young-adult, and middle-grade fiction in multiple genres, predominantly science fiction, cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic, and fantasy.

 

Social Media links

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Twitter: @Mscox_Fiction / https://twitter.com/mscox_fiction

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

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/mscox

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/matthewcox10420/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7712730.Matthew_S_Cox Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mscox.author/

 

Book reviews, Dystopian fiction, Science fiction

Goldilocks by Laura Lam – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A bold, thought provoking and high-concept feminist dystopian thriller

Ravaged by environmental disaster, greed and oppression, our planet is in crisis. The future of humanity hangs in the balance – and one woman can tip it over.

Despite increasing restrictions on the freedoms of women on Earth, Valerie Black is spearheading the first all-female mission to a planet in the Goldilocks Zone, where conditions are just right for human habitation.

It’s humanity’s last hope for survival, and Naomi, Valerie’s surrogate daughter and the ship’s botanist, has been waiting her whole life for an opportunity like this – to step out of Valerie’s shadow and really make a difference.

But when things start going wrong on the ship, Naomi starts to suspect that someone on board is concealing a terrible secret – and realises time for life on Earth may be running out faster than they feared…

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MY REVIEW 

Goldilocks is science fiction that feels a bit too close to home for comfort.

The human race has ruined Earth, the ice caps have melted, temperatures rising and some areas of this glorious planet are now uninhabitable. So there are plans to move to a new planet.

Women are now no longer welcome to work in the space industry, or anywhere for that matter, so a group of 5 women, all trained astronauts, medics and scientists decide to take matters in their own hands and steal a rocket. They head to th new planet, Cavendish, via Mars with great plans to set up a utopian world and save humankind.

But, someone has a secret, one that changes everything.

I loved this, from the atmosphere, the world building plans and life on the ship as they travel for many months. The twists and tension keep building in this tale of hope, of love and betrayal and of the dangers of fanaticism.  Scarily prescient at times and definitely a cautionary tale. Thought provoking and utterly gripping from start to finish.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

Purchase link : https://amzn.to/2YqNijz

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Laura Lam is the author of several science fiction books, including Radio 2 Book Club selection False Hearts. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in anthologies such as Nasty Women, Solaris Rising 3, Cranky Ladies of History, Scotland in Space, and more.

Originally from California, she now lives in Scotland with her husband, and teaches Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier University.

Twitter: @LR_Lam 

Book reviews, Crime thriller, humour, Murder mystery

Death Of A Painter by Matthew Ross – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

IN THE BUILDING GAME TIME IS MONEY AND MONEY IS EVERYTHING. UNFORTUNATELY FOR MARK POYNTER, HE’S RUN OUT OF MONEY AND HE’S FAST RUNNING OUT OF TIME.

When Mark Poynter discovers a murder on his worksite all of his financial problems suddenly seem a lot closer to home: was this a warning his debts are overdue?

Suspected of being the killer and worried at being the intended victim, the murder only makes Mark’s money problems worse, leading him to turn to the local villain, Hamlet, who has his own unique repayment plan in mind for Mark.

When two more deaths plunge him even further into debt, Mark finds himself faced with a choice – help the police and clear his name or help the villain and clear his debt.

Set in the Medway Towns on the grey margins of criminality, where no job’s too big, no dodge’s too small …

Death Of A Painter is the first in a new series of darkly comic crime fiction novels featuring the beleaguered builder Mark Poynter, aided and hindered in equal measure by his trusted crew of slackers, idlers and gossips, and the lengths they go to just to earn a living.

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MY REVIEW

Death Of A Painter is #1 in the new Mark Poynter series.

Mark owes money, but as Chapman has robbed him and disappeared, he is unable to pay. He’s listing all his possessions to try to raise the money but falls far short.

When his friend and colleague, Tommy,  is murdered, Mark wonders if this was a message to him or maybe it was meant to have been him instead.

As Tommy was killed with one of Mark’s hammers the police think him a suspect.

With his money troubles, a local villain who wants Mark’s ‘help’, his life gets difficult to say the least, but can Mark find the killer ?

This is such a fun read, full of humour and banter between the characters, it also deals with loss and a murder mystery. Poynter is a complex, troubled but likeable character who really just wants to do the right thing while dealing with everything life throws at him. I found this a thoroughly entertaining read and I’m already looking forward to book 2.

Thank you to Red Dog Press for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and a ARC of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.

The buy link to use for all formats is  mybook.to/DOAP  for amazon (it’s case sensitive) or buy direct from RedDog at http://www.reddogpress.co.uk/shop 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 

Matthew Ross was born and raised in the Medway Towns, England. He still lives in Kent with his Kiwi wife, his children and a very old cat.

He was immersed in the building industry from a very early age helping out on his father’s sites during school holidays before launching into his own career at 17. He’s worked on projects ranging from the smallest domestic repair to £billion+ infrastructure, and probably everything in between.

A lifelong comedy nerd, he ticked off a bucket-list ambition and tried his hand at stand-up comedy. Whilst being an experience probably best forgotten (for both him and audiences alike) it ignited a love for writing, leading to various commissions including for material broadcast on BBC Radio 4 comedy shows.

Matthew moved into the longer format of novel writing after graduating from the Faber Academy in London in 2017.

‘Death Of A Painter’ is his first novel and the first in a planned series of stories featuring Mark Poynter and his associates.

Matthew enjoys reading all manner of books – especially crime and mystery; 80s music; and travelling and can’t wait for the next trip to New Zealand to spend time with family and friends.    

 

Book reviews, Extract

The Thunder Girls by Melanie Blake – *Extract*

Please accept my apologies for the late posting…..

 

Welcome to the blog tour for The Thunder Girls by Melanie Blake.

 

First, here’s  a little about the book and the an extract to follow:

 

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PUBLISHERS BLURB
 

THE THUNDER GIRLS NOVEL

It’s the 1980’s. Chrissie, Roxanne, Carly and Anita are ordinary girls with extraordinary lives. They are better known as eighties pop sensation The Thunder Girls. This girl group is dominating the pop scene, their faces on every magazine cover, millions of fans worldwide, constantly at the top of the charts. Until one of them brings the band’s dream run to an abrupt end. Three of their careers are over – and so is their friendship. 

Fast forward thirty years. Their old record label lands a bombshell by asking them to reunite for a series of huge concerts. These would be the gigs of a lifetime with a pay check to match – some need it more than others – and old wounds leave deep scars. A lot has happened since The Thunder Girls were ruling the charts. Addiction, breakdowns, bankruptcy and divorce have led them far from the lives they once lived. If they are to move forward, the past needs to be laid to rest – but there is more to this reunion than meets the eye. Each Thunder Girl is hungry to revive their past success, but what they don’t know is that someone is watching their every move – and is determined to stop them succeeding – in the deadliest way possible.

These four girls have been to hell and back – and some of them are still there.

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Extract 

 

Prologue

 

November 1989

Carly Hughes stepped from the back of the limousine at the entrance to Shine Records. She was wearing a short kilt and leather jacket. Lacy tights with biker boots; big hair, kooky-looking shades and an oversized designer bag worth thousands.

Every inch the pop star.

Her driver, Dale, threw a protective arm around her as he steered her past thousands of screaming Thunder Girls fans, Carly stopping to scribble her name on the autograph books and tour programmes being thrust at her. Some of the fans were hysterical. A young girl clung to her, sobbing, burying her tear-streaked face in her idol’s new jacket.

Without taking his eyes off her, a handsome lad was snap- ping endless pictures on a battered Instamatic whilst staring at Carly intently. Dale let Carly know it was time to move. She detached herself from the crying girl and escaped into the building.

As they waited for the lift she inspected her jacket. ‘I think I’ve got snot on my sleeve. First time I’ve worn this, as well.’

Dale frowned and handed her a crisp white hanky. She dabbed at the damp leather.

‘I keep telling you not to be so touchy-feely,’ he said. ‘You don’t know where they’ve been.’

‘Harsh, Dale. They’re just kids—’

‘Bunking off school, most of them,’ he grumbled. ‘—hanging about in the cold for hours, hoping for a word.’ ‘You’re way too trusting. They could pull a knife, anything.’

Dale was ex-military. Special Forces. Decorated for bravery. Secretly hoping someone would step out of line one day so he could show what he was made of.

‘They’re our fans, they’d never hurt us.’ Carly gave him a dazzling smile. ‘Anyway, that’s why you’re here.’

He shook his head. ‘That weird one taking pictures . . . I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him – his eyes don’t look right.’

She giggled. ‘Don’t be mean. He’s the Mad Fan – goes everywhere we do, just likes to look at us and take his pics, bless him.’

‘Yeah, well that’s odd as well, the quiet ones are always the worst.’

On the fourth floor of Shine Records, Roxanne Lloyd was in the glass-fronted executive meeting room – the think-tank,

 

ABOUT MELANIE BLAKE

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As one of the UK’s most successful female entrepreneurs, over the years Melanie has had two careers at the top tier of the entertainment industry. Her first 10 years were as a music manager with a roster of award-winning artists who sold over 100 million records and the second decade as one of the UK’s leading acting agents representing some of the most famous faces on British television. The Thunder Girls is inspired by her time in the music business and her second novel which is out in 2021 will be inspired by her years in the world of soap opera and drama. Her own management company, which has covered both genres, has turned over more than 30 million.

With no formal education herself, Melanie is a true champion for working class women who are so often overlooked in our society. The Thunder Girls is a celebration of women from diverse demographics and all the lead characters in the novel are over 40 and working class. As well as having written the book, Melanie has penned The Thunder Girls the play which embarks on a nationwide tour in 2021. Melanie Blake might just be the world’s biggest Jackie Collins fan. She first read Rock Star aged 9, after smuggling the copy out of the library by telling the librarian it was for her mum!  Melanie was dazzled by Jackie Collin’s world where women clawed themselves from poverty into glamorous, moneyed lives. In Jackie Collins’ novels, women were bosses and winners who achieved everything they wanted and it was these novels that inspired Melanie to become her own boss and a lady entrepreneur.  In 2017 Melanie’s connection with Jackie Collins came full circle, when after Jackie’s sad death she bought five pieces of Jackie’s jewellery at auction – two rings and three necklaces inlayed with morganite, citrines and diamonds – which she wears every day.

 

Book reviews, Cyberpunk, Dystopian fiction, Mystery, Noir

Auxiliary: London 2039 by Jon Richter – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

The silicon revolution left Dremmler behind, but a good detective is never obsolete.

London is quiet in 2039—thanks to the machines. People stay indoors, communicating through high-tech glasses and gorging on simulated reality while 3D printers and scuttling robots cater to their every whim. Mammoth corporations wage war for dominance in a world where human augmentation blurs the line between flesh and steel.

And at the center of it all lurks The Imagination Machine: the hyper-advanced, omnipresent AI that drives our cars, flies our planes, cooks our food, and plans our lives. Servile, patient, tireless … TIM has everything humanity requires. Everything except a soul.

Through this silicon jungle prowls Carl Dremmler, police detective—one of the few professions better suited to meat than machine. His latest case: a grisly murder seemingly perpetrated by the victim’s boyfriend. Dremmler’s boss wants a quick end to the case, but the tech-wary detective can’t help but believe the accused’s bizarre story: that his robotic arm committed the heinous crime, not him. An advanced prosthetic, controlled by a chip in his skull. 

A chip controlled by TIM.

Dremmler smells blood: the seeds of a conspiracy that could burn London to ash unless he exposes the truth. His investigation pits him against desperate criminals, scheming businesswomen, deadly automatons—and the nightmares of his own past. And when Dremmler finds himself questioning even TIM’s inscrutable motives, he’s forced to stare into the blank soul of the machine. 

Auxiliary is gripping, unpredictable, and bleakly atmospheric—ideal for fans of cyberpunk classics like the Blade Runner movies, Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, and the Netflix original series Black Mirror

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MY REVIEW 

Auxiliary is set in London in the not so distant 2039.

Carl Dremmler is a jaded detective sent to the scene of a death …..seeming just a man plugged in to Alt-World and had forgotten to live in the real world.

This is a world connected to technology, from driverless cars, robot surgeons and arachnoid posties……all with a single operating system known as TIM….’Alexa on steroids’. Robots are everywhere in the workplace and even the bedroom….

Dremmler is then sent to a murder case….the suspect says he prosthetic arm killed his girlfriend….it was out of control. Dremmler’s boss, Maggie, wants this investigated quietly so as to prevent any panic.  But when his partner, T, is murdered things get dark.

This is cyberpunk Noir…..a tale of robots, cybernetics, tech and the loss of society. It’s also a murder mystery, a thriller with some truly horrific moments and so terrifying in its plausibility. I’ll never look at a wireless printer the same way again. A compelling, heart pounding read. Unputdownable!!

Thank you to Heather Fitt at Overview Media for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and a free ecopy of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

Book reviews, Non fiction

Sing Backwards And Weep by Mark Lanegan – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Kurt Cobain’s best friend and former Queens of the Stone Age member unveils the gritty underbelly of the Seattle music scene in the most honest and unflinching grunge memoir to date

When the rock maverick and grunge pioneer Mark Lanegan first arrived in Seattle in the mid-1980s, he was just another nihilistic waster seeking catharsis from rock ‘n’ roll. Yet little did he know that less than a decade later he would rise to fame as the apocalyptic frontman of one of the most trailblazing grunge bands of all time and soon fall from grace as a low-level crack dealer and a homeless heroin addict while watching some of his closest friends rocket to the forefront of popular music. Nearly three decades later, Lanegan is ready to revisit his gritty past in a gripping memoir Sing Backwards and Weep published in April 2020 by Orion’s new music imprint White Rabbit.

A sinister chronicle of the most tumultuous times of his life, from the formative years of his neoteric rock band Screaming Trees to his brutally honest accounts on the hardships of his life, Lanegan’s memoir is an unembellished tale of one of the most romanticised decades in rock history. From addiction to touring, petty crime, homelessness and the tragic deaths of his closest friends including Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and Alice in Chains frontman Layne Staley, Lanegan masterfully interweaves these stories into a coarse fabric of his life that is bursting with creativity yet dripping with drugs. With a voice that’s as “scratchy as a three-day beard yet as supple and pliable as moccasin leather” as once described by Pitchfork, Lanegan’s hoarse penmanship is much like his musicianship with its desolate yet highly nuanced and poetic narrative. From the back of the van to the front of the bar, from hotel room to emergency room, onstage, backstage and everywhere in between, Lanegan’s words flow eloquently from once city to another, from one year to another and one tragedy to another.

Between the chaotic years of touring and addiction, music remains the paradoxical anchor of hope glimmering on the bottom of the barrel, offering solace yet simultaneously pulling Lanegan further into the darkness. Sing Backwards and Weep tracks his artistic journey through a series of stories about his fellow musicians like Cobain whose impact on Lanegan’s music remains infinite. Their artistic camaraderie plays a central part in Lanegan’s life story, all the way from their first meeting to long phone calls on music and girls, jam sessions filled with brotherly love and eventually the bitter end with Lanegan being the last person Cobain spoke to before his death. Lanegan’s memoir offers a unique chance to be immersed in the sonic wonderland of influences behind his hauntingly raw signature sound by revisiting his first encounters with cult musicians and friends like Nick Drake and Nick Cave as well as dipping into his personal playlists of the time that included the likes of Leonard Cohen and Neil Young.

Sing Backwards and Weep tracks the volatile rise and fall of Screaming Trees in an unsparing manner while diving deep into Lanegan’s personal struggles. Unflinchingly raw and powerful to the bone, Sing Backwards and Weep is not your usual celebrity memoir with a pseudo-inspirational tag line, it goes beyond that by telling a story of a man watching his dreams catch fire yet finding a way to drag himself out of the wreckage as one of the most extraordinary musicians of our time.

Mark Lanegan on Sing Backwards and Weep: ”I am excited, honoured, and quite humbled that Lee has chosen my story to be the first White Rabbit release.”

White Rabbit founder Lee Brackstone: “Two days before I started at White Rabbit, this manuscript arrived, and I acquired it a few days later. It is a monumental book. I can’t compare it to any other memoir that has emerged from the music world. It’s a story of trauma, suffering, dysfunction, survival – and making great art out of all of that. It is staggeringly brave, honest and terrifying. I’ve no doubt it will become the classic account of the Seattle scene and its aftershocks into the 90s. It’s an heroic act to have committed these stories to the page and it shows Lanegan’s great courage and integrity that he has gone back and revisited these experiences. It’s a book full of horror and degradation, the pain of addiction and the depravity it encourages. I think it will be a helpful book for many people because it shows an artist laid bare, all the vulnerabilities and failings. It makes 90% of other music memoirs look like fakes and I learned from publishing Viv Albertine, that readers respond to the bare truth more than anything else.”

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MY REVIEW 

Sing Backwards And Weep is Mark Lanegan’s autobiography and it’s brutally honest and so fascinating.

It tells of his journey to success as a member of The Screaming Trees, in the 80’s and 90’s, and his fall into drug addiction. This is not a pity party, just a dark, honest and at times humourless tale of an extraordinary life.

I found this to be a fascinating, entertaining and compelling read, a look into the darker side of a life in the music industry.

Thank you to Bei at Midas PR for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour and for a free ecopy of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

ABOUT MARK LANEGAN

Mark Lanegan (b. 1964) is an American alternative rock musician and singer-songwriter who is widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of our time. He is the founding member of influential psychedelic grunge band Screaming Trees and was a full-time member of Queens of The Stone Age between 2000-2014 when he also penned the theme song for Anthony Bourdain’s award-winning TV show Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown with QOTSA front man Josh Homme. He has collaborated with a long list of industry heavy weights over the years, including Massive Attack, Moby, Warpaint, UNKLE, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and Eagles of Death Metal amongst others. Lanegan lives in Los Angeles.

 

 

 

 

ABOUT WHITE RABBIT

White Rabbit is a new imprint published by former Faber Social impresario Lee Brackstone launching in April 2020. In its inaugural year of 2020, White Rabbit will publish twelve titles by music industry legends like Carl Cox, Richard Russell, Mark Lanegan, Annie Nightingale, Chris Frantz and Jehnny Beth of Savages amongst others. Dedicated to publishing the most innovative books and voices in music and literature, Brackstone aims to build on the uniquely successful publishing he was responsible for at Faber Social with authors like The Beastie Boys, Viv Albertine and Jon Save. Brackstone’s titles for his Orion imprint indicate the range and personality of a list that will indicate the range and personality of a list that will encompass memoir, history, fiction, translation, illustrated books and high-spec limited editions.

 

ABOUT THE ORION PUBLISHING GROUP

 

Where every story matter.

 

Book reviews, Fantasy

The Girl And The Stars by Mark Lawrence – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

East of the Black Rock, out on the ice, lies a hole down which broken children are thrown.

On the vastness of the ice there is no room for individuals. No one survives alone.

To resist the cold, to endure the months of night when even the air itself begins to freeze, requires a special breed. Variation is dangerous, difference is fatal. And Yaz is different.

Torn from her family, from the boy she thought she would spend her life with, Yaz has to carve a new path for herself in a world whose existence she never suspected. A world full of danger.

Beneath the ice, Yaz will learn that Abeth is older and stranger than she had ever imagined.

She will learn that her weaknesses are another kind of strength. And she will learn to challenge the cruel arithmetic of survival that has always governed her people.

Only when it’s darkest can you see the stars.

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MY REVIEW 

Set in the same universe as The Book Of The Ancestor series (Red Sister being one of my favourite fantasy novels), this is the tale of Yaz.

Yaz is a broken child, at 16 she is headed for the gathering and is expecting to be thrown into the pit with the other broken children. But, when her brother, Zeen is thrown down and she is spared, she jumps after him……

Here she finds another world, with survivors of the drop, a society that has been there for years. But Zeen is nowhere to be found……..so she sets out to find her little brother..

This is a tale of ice and cold, of magic, of stars in the darkness. 

It has cannibals, black ice that taints others, of corruption and power, but it’s also about a young girl accepting her ability to tap into the river is not a weakness, but strength. Can she save Zeen?

I love this book. Yaz is a great character, full of doubts but also determination to do what’s right. I loved being back on Abeth, with mentions of the places from Red Sister, but also very different as this is life on the ice and below it. For me it had a sense of wonder and atmosphere that reminded me of when I read The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula Le Guin many years ago…..but this is very different, with fantastic world building, great characters and a wonderful plot…..and that end!!! Utterly brilliant.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/3bNEGaT 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Mark Lawrence was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, but moved to the UK at the age of one. He went back to the US after taking a PhD in mathematics at Imperial College to work on a variety of research projects including the ‘Star Wars’ missile defence programme. Returning to the UK, he has worked mainly on image processing and decision/reasoning theory. His first trilogy, The Broken Empire, has been universally acclaimed as a ground-breaking work of fantasy, and both The Liar’s Key and The Wheel of Osheim have won the Gemmell Legend award for best fantasy novel. Mark is married, with four children, and lives in Brist

Book reviews, Dystopian fiction

Q by Christina Dalcher – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state’s new elite schools. Her daughters are exactly like her: beautiful, ambitious, and perfect. A good thing, since the recent mandate that’s swept the country is all about perfection.

Now everyone must undergo routine tests for their quotient, Q, and any children who don’t measure up are placed into new government schools. Instead, teachers can focus on the gifted.

Elena tells herself it’s not about eugenics, not really, but when one of her daughters scores lower than expected and is taken away, she intentionally fails her own test to go with her.

But what Elena discovers is far more terrifying than she ever imagined…

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MY REVIEW 

What is your Q score?

Everyone is tested monthly, at school and work to find your score. It’s based on IQ, your timeliness (you lose points if you’re late for class or work), health and family wealth. 

Elena is a teacher, her husband Malcolm works in the Department of Education, so Elena’s score is improved by his status. They have two daughters, Anne and Freddie, both are doing well, even if Freddie needs a little help. But then Freddie’s score inexplicably drops…..with terrible consequences.

Q is a dystopian thriller, that’s truly terrifying as it feels so possible. In these current times we hear that if you are no longer young and healthy, you are expendable, so what if someone decided only those with a specific IQ, health and social standing score were worth life?  It’s then only a small step away from the eugenics of Q.

But, this is also the tale of maternal love, how far will Elena go to keep Freddie safe? 

I found Q to be a gripping, disturbing thriller and I read this in one sitting, I just had to know how it was going to end…..oh my ! 

It’s well written, with great characters and a very clever plot.  I loved Elena, even with her spiteful past, Lissa and Ruby Jo are brilliant and Malcolm is a truly despicable excuse of a man, which makes this a tense, terrifying and heartbreaking read. Utterly compelling.

Thank you to HQ, the author and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Q for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/2XNlKov