Book reviews, humour, Science fiction

Set My Heart To Five by Simon Stephenson – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A story of loneliness, love and loose connections, Set My Heart to Five is a hilarious, touching, dazzlingly perceptive debut novel, and a profound exploration of what it truly means to be human.

10/10 Jared does not have friends.

Because friends are a function of feelings.

Therefore friends are just one more human obligation that Jared never has to worry about.

But Jared is worrying. Which is worrying. He’s also started watching old films. And inexplicably crying in them. And even his Feelings Wheel (given to him by Dr Glundenstein, who definitely is not a friend) cannot guide him through the emotional minefield he now finds himself in.

Soon his feelings will send him fleeing across the country, pursued by a man who wants to destroy him and driven by an illogical desire to share pathogens with the woman who bamboozles him the most.

And Jared cannot!

Because feelings will ruin your life, especially if you aren’t supposed to have them…

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MY REVIEW 

Jared is a dentist, he’s also a bot. 

Set in a time where the jobs humans no longer want to do are now done by androids.

But, Jared is different, he is interested in humans and their emotions, so with help from a friend, Jared begins to experience feelings himself…..(a little reminiscent of iRobot).

Told by Jared this unique tale is part narration and part movie script….he loves movies. It shows how odd human emotions appear when viewed from the outside.

It’s full of dry humour with a wry look at the definition of being human…

Very funny, clever and certainly thought provoking.

Thank you to Amber at Midas PR for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and an eARC of Set My Heart To Five. This is my honest and unbiased review. 

Book reviews

Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

It is 1950, two unlikely women set off on a hare-brained adventure to the other side of the world to try and find a beetle, and in doing so discover friendship and how to be their best of themselves. This is quintessential Joyce: at once poignant and playful, with huge heart and the same resonance, truth and lightness of touch as her phenomenally successful debut, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

Britain, post Second World War. In a moment of madness Margery Benson abandons her sensible job and advertises for an assistant to accompany her on an expedition. She is going to travel to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist.

Enid Pretty, in pink hat and pompom sandals, is not the companion she had in mind. But together they will find themselves drawn into an ad- venture that exceeds all expectations. They must risk everything, break all the rules, but at the top of a red mountain they will discover who they truly are, and how to be the best of themselves.

This is a novel that is less about what can be found than the belief it might be found; it is an intoxicating adventure story but it is also about what it means to be a woman and a tender exploration of a friendship that defies all boundaries.

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MY REVIEW 

Miss Margery Benson is single and alone, she’s a domestic science teacher, but one day a classroom drawing of her is the last straw. Distraught she leaves, taking with her the deputy’s new boots.

She decides it’s time to fulfill her dream of travelling to New Caledonia to find the elusive Gold Flower Beetle.she advertises for an assistant.  Being let down by her chosen applicant she offers the position to Enid.

They spend weeks on about to Australia as the first leg of the journey….with sea sickness and other mishaps and drama the two women get to know each other….a little…

Oh my heart…l. truly love this book…from the slightly staid Margery to the brash Enid and their slowly building friendship. It’s a tale of following your dreams regardless of the cost and the beauty of true friendship. There’s a real sense of adventure in the search for a golden gem of a beetle. It has a sense of wonder and danger, it’s heartbreaking and yet wondrous too. I loved every single second. My favourite novel of the year. 

While I had an ecopy of this beautiful tale for the blog tour, I have also preordered a hardback copy too as this really is a book to keep and treasure.

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.

 

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2CpUrs7

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Perfect, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, The Music Shop and a collection of interlinked short stories, A Snow Garden & Other Stories. Her books have been translated into thirty -six languages and two are in development for film.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was shortlisted for the CommonwealthBook prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. 

Rachel was awarded the Specsaver National Book Awards New Writer Of The Year in December 2012 and shortlisted for the UK Author of the Year 2014.

She has also written over twenty original afternoon plays and adaptations of the classics for BBC Radio 4, including all the Bronte novels. She moved to writing after a long career as an actor, performing leading roles for the RSC, the National Theatre and Cheek by Jowl. She lives with her family in Gloucestershire. 

Book reviews, Memoir, Non fiction

Starchild: A Memoir of Adoption, Race and Family – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Michaela Foster Marsh and her brother Frankie grew up as “twins” in Glasgow, Scotland in the sixties. Born only weeks apart, Michaela was white and Frankie was black, and they were an unusual sight in their dual pram. Despite the love from his adopted family Frankie’s life was rarely easy, and it ended far too soon when a fire took him when he was only twenty-six. But for a devastated Michaela, Frankie’s effect on her life was only beginning. She embarks on a search to learn what she can about Frankie’s birth family, a journey that takes her to Uganda, to a culture and a family she never knew, through twists and turns and remarkable coincidences – and to a mission and to a connection with her African brethren she never could have imagined.

STARCHILD is a remarkably candid memoir that plays out on both a personal and global scale. It is the story of the intimacies of siblinghood and the complexities of multi-racial adoption. It is the story of the unique connection of extended family and the unique commitment to an adopted homeland. It is the story of long-held secrets revealed and long-maintained barriers broken. And it is ultimately the story of a sibling relationship that transcends borders, time, and life itself.

Starchild is an odyssey; a spiritual voyage of self-discovery. Michaela Foster Marsh, through sheer – obsessive even – dedication, illuminates and highlights a path, no matter how jaggedly rocky, that can help lead towards emotional fulfilment.

 

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MY REVIEW 

Michaela and her brother, Frankie, were very close, but a tragic fire took Frankie before his time. Grief stricken, Michaela decides to trace Frankie’s birth family.

This is a memoir full of love. It’s also an adventure as Michaela travels to Uganda, a country with its issues and problems but also so colourful and lively.

Starchild is beautifully written with real emotion and the love Michaela feels for her adopted brother is clear throughout. It has tragedy, but also hope and love and makes for a truly wonderful and memorable 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.

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Dystopian fiction

The Third Magpie by M.S. Clements – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Caring teacher and loving husband, Finn tolerates daily humiliation to be with Sophie, the woman he loves. Fragile & naturally compliant he must summon all his courage to survive the system. Despite the injustice, they dream of a normal life, where liberty and identity are not subverted by ever tightening restrictions.

When a powerful politician requests that Finn tutor his daughter, it seems like a change of fortune. Soon Finn’s new found optimism is crushed by manipulative abuse, and a flu-like epidemic that threatens his life. It is left to Sophie to pick up the pieces and save her husband. In New Albany, every opportunity comes at price.

How far must Sophie go to save the man she loves?

For fans of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, ‘VOX’, 1984, and other speculative fiction, ‘The Third Magpie’ takes the reader into a terrifyingly plausible world where a wristband restricts your job, your movement, and even who you can marry. It is a society where propaganda masks extremism that threatens your very existence.

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MY REVIEW 

The Third Magpie is a dystopian romance that’s terrifying in its plausibility.

Finn is a teacher and a loving husband, but in the eyes of the government he is a foreigner (He’s Irish) and as such his freedom is severely restricted. His wife,Sophie’s father is high up in the government so that helps, but human rights are almost non-existent for the ‘tagged’ and free speech is a thing of the past.

This is a tale of power, of oppression and love.

The horrifying part of this tale is that it feels like we are only a small step away from this possible future.

It is a character driven story of romance, but it’s a dystopian chiller at heart.  I found it moving and terrifying at the same time. A thoroughly engrossing 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.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Of Anglo-Spanish heritage, M.S. Clements grew up in Exeter, Devon. After gaining a degree in Economics and Spanish, Clements moved to London and trained for a PGCE at The Institute of Education. In the late 1990’s Clements worked as a Spanish teacher at all boys’ comprehensive in Surrey, leaving full time teaching in 2000. Clements continues to run a Spanish club for primary aged girls at a local school and tutors privately.

M.S. Clements has published short stories and poetry both online and in print, and is a founding member of @Virtwriting, an online writers’ group

 

Book reviews, Psychlogical thriller

Lost by Leona Deakin – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

HOW CAN YOU SOLVE A CRIME IF YOU CAN’T REMEMBER THE CLUES?

In the second compelling thriller from Leona Deakin, Dr Bloom returns to solve another mystery.

But how can she solve the crime when the victim can’t remember anything?

There is an explosion at a military ball. The casualties are rushed to hospital in eight ambulances, but only seven vehicles arrive. Captain Harry Peterson is missing.

His girlfriend calls upon her old friend Dr Augusta Bloom, who rushes to support the investigation. But no one can work out what connects the bomb and the disappearance. When Harry is eventually discovered three days later, they hope he holds the answers to their questions.

But he can’t remember a single thing.

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MY REVIEW 

#2 in the Dr Bloom series, but can also be read as a stand-alone.


Lost begins with Captain Harry Peterson attending a military ball with his partner, Karene. But he is called away urgently into the building and then a bomb explodes.

Karene rushes to find Harry, she finds him unconscious but breathing so he is taken away by ambulance.

He doesn’t arrive at a hospital for three days but he has no memory of any events for the past 4 years, including his relationship with Karene. 

She asks her friend, Dr Augusta Bloom, for help. Dr Bloom enlists the very reluctant help of her business partner, Marcus. He’s still wary about her motives after the events in the previous book, Gone.

They soon find much more than a terrorist attack, something that puts them all in danger.

Lost is full of tension, with a few shocks and surprises on the way. A fast paced, utterly compelling thriller, with great characters, that will have you hooked from the very start.

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.

 

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2ZGlGr1

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Leona draws inspiration for her writing from her own experiences having started her career as a psychologist with the West Yorkshire Police and her successful work in psychology since. Leona was part of a team responsible for designing methods of selection for recruiting and promoting officers from PC to Chief Superintendent. Her role was to create realistic policing scenarios – from personnel issues to large scale incidents (plane crash, terrorist bomb etc) – that could be used to test leadership skills. To do this she spent a great deal of time interviewing and observing officers at various ranks and reviewing cases. This gave Leona an insight into the police culture that helps her to write authentic character interactions in her novels. Leona is now an occupational psychologist and lives with her family in Leeds. 

Book reviews, Contemporary fiction, Womens fiction

Tennis Lessons by Susannah Dickey – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

You never say the right thing. You’re a disappointment to everyone. You’re a far cry from beautiful – and your thoughts are ugly too.

You seem bound to fail, bound to break.

But you know what it is to laugh with your best friend, to feel the first tentative tingles of attraction, to take exquisite pleasure in the affront of your unruly body.

You just need to find your place.

Acutely observed and achingly honest, this is the story of a girl becoming a woman and striving to find a place in a world that appears not to have one for her. From disastrous dates to dead pets, from crashed cars to ingrowing toenails, TENNIS LESSONS is an unflinching and compassionate portrait of a spirited misfit and her rocky route to something like happiness.
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MY REVIEW 

Tennis Lessons is a coming of age tale with a difference. Told by the main character from a young child through to adulthood and all the dramas she experiences.

To me, it felt like I was listening to her inner thoughts, her internal commentary of daily life from her periods, body hair and odour, Body image, an ingrowing toenail and to the one friend who gets her and her weird humour. 

It’s heartbreaking at times and heartwarming as she gradually accepts herself and finds her place in the world. It touches on difficult subjects such as bullying and sexual experiences, good and horrific, living with trauma and death.

I loved every minute of Tennis Lessons, it’s beautifully written, brutally honest and packed with so many relatable moments that made it an emotional read. A must 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.

 

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

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Susannah Dickey is from Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland. She is the author of two poetry pamphlets, I had some very slight concerns (2017) and genuine human values (2018). Her poetry has been published in Ambit, The White Review, Poetry Ireland Review and Magma, amongst others. In 2018 she was shortlisted for The White Review short story prize, and in 2017 she was the winner of the inaugural Verve Poetry Festival competition.

 

Crime thriller

Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

It’s a small story. A small town with small lives that you would never have heard about if none of this had happened.

Hinton Hollow. Population 5,120.

Little Henry Wallace was eight years old and one hundred miles from home before anyone talked to him. His mother placed him on a train with a label around his neck, asking for him to be kept safe for a week, kept away from Hinton Hollow.

Because something was coming.

Narrated by Evil itself, Hinton Hollow Death Trip recounts five days in the history of this small rural town, when darkness paid a visit and infected its residents. A visit that made them act in unnatural ways. Prodding at their insecurities. Nudging at their secrets and desires. Coaxing out the malevolence suppressed within them. Showing their true selves.

 

Making them cheat.

Making them steal.

Making them kill.

 

Detective Sergeant Pace had returned to his childhood home. To escape the things he had done in the city. To go back to something simple. But he was not alone. Evil had a plan.

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MY REVIEW 

Oh my god…where do I start?

Well, this is #3 in the Detective Sergeant Pace series. It can be read as a stand-alone (but you are missing out on a fantastic series.)

Pace is back, but after the events of his last case, he has run away to his home town of Hinton Hollow, a small town with a population of 5000 people. 

But something dark is lurking……

An ordinary man is responsible for shooting a young boy….

But he’d given his mother a choice.

As further murders take place, Pace is again investigating horrific deaths.

This is a tale told by evil itself, the insidious evil that exists as a result of people’s apathy, of casual cruelty, the lack of empathy and compassion which gives evil a foot in the door…just a little nudge of spite and malevolence blossoms.

The characters feel so real, the troubled detective, the abattoir slaughterer….(particularly horrific….) there’s also the exhausted new mum and the bitchy mums at the school gate…..we’ve all known them.

Hinton Hollow Death Trip is an incredible read, it’s anger inducing, frustrating, heartbreaking and thought provoking too. Another marvellously dark and unique read from Will Carver and I loved every black flamed second of it.

If you like your crime thrillers on the dark side then this is a definite must read.

(*a note….Liv Dunham…is that a Fringe reference? Or is that just the geek in me?)

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.

 

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

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts. 

Book reviews, Psychlogical thriller

The Girl From Widow Hills by Megan Miranda – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last House Guest—a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick—comes a riveting new novel of psychological suspense about a young woman plagued by night terrors after a childhood trauma who wakes one evening to find a corpse at her feet.

Everyone knows the story of “the girl from Widow Hills.”

Arden Maynor was just a child when she was swept away while sleepwalking during a terrifying rainstorm and went missing for days. Strangers and friends, neighbors and rescue workers, set up search parties and held vigils, praying for her safe return. Against all odds, she was found, alive, clinging to a storm drain. The girl from Widow Hills was a living miracle. Arden’s mother wrote a book. Fame followed. Fans and fan letters, creeps, and stalkers. And every year, the anniversary. It all became too much. As soon as she was old enough, Arden changed her name and disappeared from the public eye.

Now a young woman living hundreds of miles away, Arden goes by Olivia. She’s managed to stay off the radar for the last few years. But with the twentieth anniversary of her rescue approaching, the media will inevitably renew its interest in Arden. Where is she now? Soon Olivia feels like she’s being watched and begins sleepwalking again, like she did long ago, even waking outside her home. Until late one night she jolts awake in her yard. At her feet is the corpse of a man she knows—from her previous life, as Arden Maynor.

And now, the girl from Widow Hills is about to become the center of the story, once again, in this propulsive page-turner from suspense master Megan Miranda.

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MY REVIEW 

Olivia had a traumatic experience in her childhood that meant she was famous as the girl from Widow Hills, so she moved away, changed her name and made a new life.

She works in a hospital’s admin department and has friends in Bennett, Elyse and her neighbour, Rick who look out for her.

One day she receives a box of her deceased mother’s belongings and these start to bring back some memory of her childhood. She then wakes up outside, in the dark after tripping over a body. Rick finds her, calls the police and so the story takes off.

This is such a clever tale, so well paced as it slowly gathers speed towards a truly nerve shredding end. A stunning psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Brilliant.

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.

 

Purchase Link : https://amzn.to/3efmd7m

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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August 2019 Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine pick. She grew up in New Jersey, graduated from MIT, and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children. 

 

Follow @MeganLMiranda on Twitter and Instagram, or

@AuthorMeganMiranda on Facebook.

 

Book reviews, Cosy mystery, Murder mystery

The Last Lemming by Chris Chalmers – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

TV naturalist ‘Prof Leo’ Sanders makes it to his deathbed without a whiff of scandal — then confesses his career-defining wildlife discovery was a hoax.

A National Treasure shattering his own reputation on YouTube is enough to spark a media frenzy, and the curiosity of part-time journalism student Claire Webster who makes him the subject of her dissertation.

Her investigations lead to Prof Leo’s estranged family, and a high-flying advertising guru he also slandered in the video. Ultimately Claire uncovers the truth behind the discovery of the Potley Hill Lemming — the first new species of British mammal in a century.

It’s a mystery spanning four decades; a tale of greed, obsession and long-forgotten murder at a lonely beauty spot.’

A revered TV naturalist with a guilty secret, a cute critter, a brand of stout and a lovelorn personal trainer all collide with tragi- comic results in this witty whydunnit. The Last Lemming combines pathos, humour and mystery to irresistible effect.’ Suzi Feay, literary critic

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MY REVIEW 

Professor Leo Sanders, an amateur ‘monster’ hunter, found fame in the 80’s after discovering The Potley Lemming.

Now in the present day, as he is dying of cancer he announces to the world, via YouTube, the Potley Lemming was a hoax…….oh and he claims an advertising exec ‘has blood on his hands’.

Claire, a personal trainer in a gym and a journalism student decides to investigate Prof. Sanders claims to use her findings as a basis for her dissertation. So the investigation begins.

The Last Lemming is a cosy mystery with great, well rounded characters who really lead this story of obsession, greed and murder. It’s full of humour and has a fun, engaging plot. I found this to be a thoroughly entertaining 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.

 

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

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Chris Chalmers was born in Lancashire and lives in south-west London. He’s been the understudy on Mastermind, visited 40 countries and swum with marine iguanas. His first novel, ‘Five To One’, was winner of a debut novel competition and nominated for the Polari First Book Prize; his latest, ‘The Last Lemming’, is out now in paperback and ebook. He has written a diary for 42 years and never missed a night.

Click on a reading from ‘The Last Lemming’, or a Five-To-ONE-MINUTE-MOVIE for a 60-second intro to the main characters and themes of ‘Five To One’. Or search ‘chris chalmers novelist’ on YouTube, for clips of Chris reading from his other books, poems about Christmas Eve and butcher’s shops, and fox cubs dancing to ABBA. (Yep, it’s as high-brow as that.)

 

Blog, news and more about his books at http://www.chrischalmers.net/ Twitter @CCsw19 

Book reviews, Cover reveal

*COVER REVEAL* for Buried Treasure by Gilli Allan

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Welcome to the COVER REVEAL for Buried Treasure by Gili Allen….
.

 

But, first a little about the book……

 

Jane thinks he sees her as shallow and ill-educated. Theo thinks she sees him as a snob, stuffy and out of touch.

Within the ancient precincts of the university the first encounter between the conference planner and the academic is accidental and unpromising. Just as well there’s no reason for them ever to meet again. But behind the armour they’ve each constructed from old scars, they’ve more in common than divides them. Both have an archaeological puzzle they are driven to solve. As their stories intertwine, their quest to uncover the past unearths more than expected.

Treasure is not always what it seems.

 

And a little about the author……

 

Author Infomation:

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Gilli Allan began to write in childhood – a hobby pursued throughout her teenage. Writing was only abandoned when she left home, and real life supplanted the imaginary kind.  

After a few false starts she worked longest and most happily as an illustrator in advertising and only began writing again when she became a mother. 

 

Living in Gloucestershire with her husband Geoff, Gilli is still a keen artist. She draws and paints and has now moved into book illustration.

 

All of her recent books TORN, LIFE CLASS, FLY or FALL and BURIED TREASURE have gained ‘Chill with a Book’ awards.

 

Following in the family tradition, her son, historian Thomas Williams, is now also a writer.

 

FINALLY HERE IT IS……the gorgeous cover

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Book reviews

NEON by G.S. Locke – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB

A detective desperate for revenge. A hitwoman with one last job. A killer with both on his list.

Detective Matt Jackson has reached the end. His beloved wife, Polly, is the latest victim of ‘NEON’ – a serial killer who displays his victims in snaking neon lights – and he can’t go on without her. Unable to take his life, Jackson hires a hitwoman to finish the job. But on the night of his own murder, he makes a breakthrough in the case, and at the last minute his hitwoman, Iris, is offered an irresistible alternative: help Jackson find and kill NEON in return for the detective’s entire estate.

What follows is a game of cat and mouse between detective, hitwoman and serial killer. And when Jackson discovers it’s not a coincidence that all their paths have crossed, he begins to question who the real target has been all along…

Neon is not just a rip-roaring serial killer thriller, but one that is properly character-led and contemporary. Here’s a flavour of what early readers having been saying:

MY REVIEW

Set in Birmingham, there is a serial killer who leaves his victims in a neon tableau, so the killer is known as Neon.

DCI Matt Jackson is on compassionate leave as his beloved wife was one of Neon’s  victims. Grief stricken he has hired a hitman to kill him….but when he finds a new lead he changes his mind…..for now.

He makes a deal with the hired killer, Iris, and together they begin an off the books investigation, getting closer to Neon’s real identity…..putting themselves in real danger.

I found Neon to be a unique, hugely entertaining thriller…it’s dark, gritty and violent with a twisted serial killer too. A clever plot will keep you hooked from start to gasp inducing finish. Brilliant.

Thank you to Kate at Orion Books for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and an ARC of Neon. This is my honest and unbiased review.

Purchase link : https://amzn.to/2Cmd8w7

Book reviews, Psychlogical thriller

The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Decades of spiralling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable: a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms.’ Hospitals where no one ever gets well.

Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything.

Because Kate is not the only secret that her birth mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too. 

Sweeping from an all-too-real modern world to a pre-crisis South Africa, The Waiting Rooms is epic in scope, richly populated with unforgettable characters, and a tense, haunting vision of a future that is only a few mutations away

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MY REVIEW

The Waiting Rooms is about a pandemic that is antibiotic and treatment resistant, it has and is killing millions. Life revolves around avoiding any infection. It’s not just about the illness, but the lives of three women…….

Lily is close to 70 years old, the age when you become ineligible for any treatment, a small scratch or UTI quickly become deadly. You are then sent to a hospital, basically to die…..they are known as The Waiting Rooms.

Kate’s adoptive mother, Pen, has just died and with her blessing, Kate begins a search for her birth mother….riddled with doubt she wonders if this is the right thing to do……she’s also a nurse and helps with assisted dying.

Mary, a botanist, tells the story of her past in South Africa where research is being carried out on plants that could be used in the fight against antibiotic resistant infections. Here the descriptions of the country and its wildlife are just stunning. There’s also a troubled romance here too.

 

How are these women linked?

 

The Waiting Rooms is utterly terrifying in its sheer plausibility, a world where assisted dying is commonplace if you have signed the directive……the elderly are expendable.

All due to the crisis and antibiotic resistance due to their overuse……I had no idea that even Oranges are sprayed with antibiotics in the US! (Antibiotic resistance is real and accounts for many thousands of deaths a year now…..).

Beautifully written with great, believable characters and a clever, horrifyingly topical, plot that leaves you with goosebumps and a few tears. Brilliant and griping from start to finish. 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 an eARC of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

Purchase link : https://amzn.to/3ea332T

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Eve Smith’s debut novel The Waiting Rooms was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize First Novel Award. Eve writes speculative fiction, mainly about the things that scare her. She attributes her love of all things dark and dystopian to a childhood watching Tales of the Unexpected and black-and-white Edgar Allen Poe double bills. 

Eve’s flash fiction has been shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and highly commended for The Brighton Prize. In this world of questionable facts, stats and news, she believes storytelling is more important than ever to engage people in real life issues. 

Eve recently contributed a piece of flash fiction, Belting Up, to an anthology of crime shorts called Noir From the Bar. The collection of stories has been launched to raise money for the NHS.

Eve’s previous job as COO of an environmental charity took her to research projects across Asia, Africa and the Americas, and she has an ongoing passion for wild creatures, wild science and far-flung places. A Modern Languages graduate from Oxford, she returned to Oxfordshire fifteen years ago to set up home with her husband. 

When she’s not writing, she’s racing across fields after her dog, attempting to organise herself and her family or off exploring somewhere new.

 

Follow Eve: @evecsmith on Twitter & http://www.evesmithauthor.com

Instagram: evesmithauthor

Facebook: EveSmithAuthor

 

Book reviews

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Awfully opinionated for a girl’ is what they call Hillary as she grows up in her Chicago suburb. Smart, diligent, and a bit plain, that’s the general consensus. Then Hillary goes to college, and her star rises. At Yale Law School, she continues to be a leader— and catches the eye of driven, handsome and charismatic Bill. But when he asks her to marry him, Hillary gives him a firm ‘No’.

The rest, as they say, isn’t history. How might things have turned out for them, for America, for the world itself, if Hillary Rodham had really turned down Bill Clinton?

With her sharp but always compassionate eye, Sittenfeld explores the loneliness, moral ambivalence and iron determination that characterise the quest for high office, as well as the painful compromises demanded of female ambition in a world ruled by men. Uncannily astute and witty in the telling, RODHAM is a brilliant reimagining – an unmissable literary landmark and truly a novel of our times.

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MY REVIEW 

“You are awfully opinionated for a girl”

Rodham is a work of fiction, a what-if Hillary Rodham had not married Bill Clinton tale. An alternate reality.

It details their meeting and romance, but Hillary moves on. She had a life before Bill and this novel makes you wonder how different life would have been for her without Bill’s influence (damaging as it may have been at times).

There are plenty of humorous moments, such as Hillary’s cooking and I’ll never be able to look at Bill again without seeing the largest watermelon. It also tells of the drudgery of politics, the sheer determination it takes to carry on when all seem against you. 

A clever mix of facts, politics and fiction make this an engaging and entertaining 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.

 

Purchase link : https://amzn.to/2ZG8KQT

 

About the Author:
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In addition to Rodham, Curtis Sittenfeld is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller American Wife, in which she painted a picture of an ordinary American girl – a thinly-disguised Laura Bush – who found herself married to a President. It was longlisted for the Orange Prize, as was her debut novel Prep.

Her other books are Man of My Dreams, Sisterland (a Richard & Judy Book Club pick), Eligible, and the acclaimed short story collection You Think It, I’ll Say It.

Her books are translated into 30 languages.

She lives with her family in the American Mid-West. 

Book reviews, Contemporary fiction, Crime thriller

Three-Fifths by John Vercher – Book Review


PUBLISHERS BLURB
 

Pittsburgh, 1995. Twenty-two year old Bobby Saraceno is a biracial black man, passing for white. Bobby has hidden his identity from everyone, even his best friend and fellow comic-book geek, Aaron, who has just returned from prison a newly radicalized white supremacist.

During the night of their reunion, Bobby witnesses Aaron mercilessly assault a young black man with a brick. In the wake of this horrifying act of violence, Bobby must conceal his unwitting involvement in the crime from the police, as well as battle with his own personal demons. A harrowing story about racism and brutality that is more urgent now than ever.

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MY REVIEW 

Firstly, Three-Fifths is a must read, it’s a timely tale of race, identity and fear.

Bobby is a young man who works hard in a restaurant, bussing tables to help his alcoholic mother meet the rent payments on time. He is biracial with pale skin, so everyone treats him as a white man……he doesn’t put them right as he knows he would be treated very differently.

His best friend Aaron has just been released from prison, he’s now covered in tattoos, a swastika and cobwebs and is a member of the brotherhood, a white supremacist…..

When Aaron sees a couple of young black men, a confrontation takes place, ending with Aaron beating one of them in the face with a brick…..Bobby, in shock and terror, drives Aaron away from the scene.

When his mother, Isobel tells him the truth about his father Robert, Bobby is at odds with himself….he has decisions to make.

What follows is a mix of crime fiction and a heartbreaking tale of Bobby’s life and fears. It also tells of the inherent racism in society, from the police, the white supremacists and gang culture to the everyday casual racism people of colour experience every single day……

John Vercher has written an honest, thought provoking and absolutely heartbreaking story that’s a read in one sitting book…..I literally couldn’t put it down and was left in tears more than once. Eye opening and a must read. 

Thank you to Poppy at Pushkin Press for my copy of Three-Fifths. This is my honest and unbiased review.

Three-Fifths is available from Pushkin Press from October 2020…..PREORDER it now:    https://amzn.to/2ZHwRP6

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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John Vercher is a writer currently living in the Philadelphia area with his wife and two sons. He holds a Bachelors in English from the University of Pittsburgh and an MFA in Creative Writing from the Mountainview Master Of Fine Arts program.

His fiction has appeared on Akashic Books’ Monday’s are Murder and Fri-Sci-Fi and he is a contributing writer for Cognoscenti, the thoughts and opinion page of WBUR Boston. Two of his essays published there on race, identity and parenting were picked up by NPR, and he has appeared on WBUR’s Weekend Edition. His non-fiction has also appeared in Entropy Magazine.

 

Book reviews, Court room drama, Thriller

The Curious Case Of Faith & Grace by David B. Lyons – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Pretty… or pretty twisted?

ALMOST TWO YEARS AGO FAITH AND GRACE TIDDLE ARRIVED HOME FROM THEIR USUAL SATURDAY MORNING DANCE CLASS TO FIND BOTH OF THEIR PARENTS FACE DOWN IN POOLS OF BLOOD.

Five days later, the twins — only nine years old at the time — were arrested for the double homicide.

And now, twenty months on, the entire country awaits with bated breath as the jury are dismissed to deliberate their verdict on a case that has become a national phenomenon.

But if Lead Detective Denis Quayle — the man who knows the case better than anybody else — isn’t fully convinced of the twins’ guilt…

Can a twelve-person jury be?

GET READY TO EXPLORE…

 


THE CURIOUS CASE OF FAITH & GRACE

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MY REVIEW 

The Curious Case Of Faith & Grace is the trial of twins Faith and Grace Tiddle. The girls look the picture of innocence……but are they?

The twins have been accused of the murder of their parents….

It tells of the twins early life, a quite strict life with a lot of religion and prayer…..and poor Grebit the frog gives a little idea of something dark…..

It also tells of the murder trial and the jury……one of whom is being blackmailed, all adding to the gloriously creepy tale. Guilty? Or Not Guilty?……….

Thank you to Emma at Damppebbles Blog Tours 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.

 

About David B. Lyons:

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David B. Lyons is an international bestselling author — a writer of psychological thrillers.

He has reached No.1 in charts in Ireland, the UK, Canada and Australia.

David grew up in Dublin – the city his novels are set – but currently spends his time between Birmingham in the UK and the Irish capital. David is married to a Brummie, Kerry, and they have one daughter, Lola.

He has lectured in Creative Writing in colleges and universities in both Ireland and in the UK and coaches people how to write with free tutorials at TheOpenAuthor.com.

 

You can connect with David here:

 

Website: TheOpenAuthor.com

Twitter: @TheOpenAuthor

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorDavidBLyons

 

Social Media:

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheOpenAuthor

 

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

 

Website: http://theopenauthor.com/

 

Purchase Links:

 

Amazon UK:   https://amzn.to/30ZMCDh 

Amazon US:   https://amzn.to/2YRbhHj

 

Book reviews, Crime thriller

Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A witness with no victim. A crime with no crime scene…

When crusading journalist Lydia Wright is sent a video of an apparent murder on a London train, she thinks she’s found the story to revive her career. But she can’t find a victim, much less the killers, and the only witness has disappeared. Wary she’s fallen for fake news, she begins to doubt her instincts – until a sinister call suggests that she’s not the only one interested in the crime.

Michael Stringer deals in information – and doesn’t care which side of the law he finds himself on. But the murder on the train has left him exposed, and now he’ll stop at nothing to discover what Lydia knows.

When their paths collide, Lydia finds the story leads through a nightmare world, where money, power and politics intersect … and information is the only thing more dangerous than a bullet.

A nerve-shattering and brutally realistic thriller, Blood Red City bursts with energy and grit from the opening page, twisting and feinting to a superb, unexpected ending that will leave you breathless.

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MY REVIEW 

Set in London, Lydia is a journalist, bored with the showbiz gossip she’s currently working on, when a friend sends her a video clip showing a man being attacked and possibly murdered on a tube train…..she needs to know more.

As a result she meets Michael Springer, a ‘fixer’ with dubious methods of getting what is needed for his clients. Together they uncover far reaching financial wrongdoings involving some very nasty people. (I really can’t say much more for fear of spoiling the marvellously complex plot)……violent, tense and twisty.

Blood Red City is a fast paced gritty thriller with some great characters and a plot that really keeps you gripped from start to finish…..and that end…Brilliant.

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

 

Purchase links : http://orendabooks.co.uk/ebookstore/?/Blood+Red+City/&bid=9781913193256

 

https://amzn.to/38oTdsz 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Rod Reynolds was born in London and, after a successful career in advertising, working as a media buyer, he decided to get serious about writing. He recently completed City University’s two-year Crime Writing Masters course and THE DARK INSIDE is his first novel. He lives in London with his wife and daughter. 

Book reviews

HARROGATE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVALS REVEALS FIRST TASTE OF WORLD-CLASS LINE-UP FOR VIRTUAL ARTS WEEKENDER CELEBRATING THE BEST IN BOOKS, MUSIC, SCIENCE & MORE – ‘HIF WEEKENDER’: 23 – 26 JULY 2020

 

Wow…just look at this line-up…….

 

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HARROGATE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVALS REVEALS FIRST TASTE OF WORLD-CLASS LINE-UP FOR VIRTUAL ARTS WEEKENDER CELEBRATING THE BEST IN BOOKS, MUSIC, SCIENCE & MORE – ‘HIF WEEKENDER’: 23 – 26 JULY 2020

 

harrogateinternationalfestivals.com | #HIF2020 | #HIFAtHome

 

 

PREMIERE OF NEW BRASS COMMISSION ECLIPSE by DAVID LANCASTER featuring soloist MIKE LOVATT

INTERVIEWS with JOHN SUCHET | STELLA DUFFY | ANTHONY HOROWITZ | BEN PALMER

ADAM RUTHERFORD | LEWIS DARTNELL | CLAUDIA HAMMOND

PERFORMANCES from STEVEN ISSERLIS | TASMIN LITTLE | MAHAN ESFAHANI

NAVARRA STRING QUARTET | MISHA MULLOV-ABBADO GROUP

GEORGE HARLIONO | SILAS BASSA | ABIGAIL HAMMETT & IWAN OWEN | RACHAEL GREEN

SEAN PAYNE | NOAH STONEMAN | GRANNY’S ATTIC

GRAEME PARK DJ SET

 

THEAKSTON OLD PECULIER VIRTUAL CRIME WRITING FESTIVAL

LEE CHILD | JOSEPH FINDER | MARK BILLINGHAM | VAL MCDERMID interviewed by MARK LAWSON

VAL MCDERMID’S NEW BLOOD ft DEEPA ANAPPARA | JESSICA MOOR | TREVOR WOOD | ELIZABETH KAY

IAN RANKIN | N.J. COOPER | STEVE MOSBY | AA DHAND | EMMA KAVANAGH | AMANDA JENNINGS

STEVE CAVANAGH & LUCA VESTE present TWO CRIME WRITERS & A MICROPHONE

THEAKSTON OLD PECULIER CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR: WINNER CEREMONY

 

Harrogate, Thursday 2 July 2020: Harrogate International Festivals is thrilled to announce first names for its new, free virtual festival bringing world-class culture to everyone at home, the HIF Weekender.

 

From 23 to 26 July, the HIF Weekender will present a celebration of the arts, featuring performances and interviews with internationally acclaimed musicians, best-selling authors and innovative thinkers to coincide with what would have been the legendary long weekend of Harrogate’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.

 

The HIF Weekender begins with a bang, crowning the winner of the UK’s most prestigious crime fiction prize – Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Yearin a virtual ceremony recognising the best of the best. The celebrations continue with crime writing royalty Ian Rankin, who was set to be the 2020 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Chair, interviewed by N. J. Cooper about Rebus, writing and Rankin’s ‘lost’ festival year. Lee Child will reflect on his extraordinary career with fellow author Joseph Finder, and Mark Billingham on the 20th anniversary of his iconic detective Tom Thorne and debut novel Sleepy Head. Steve Mosby will be joined by AA Dhand, Emma Kavanagh andAmanda Jennings to explore what it means to be a crime writer in the age of pandemic and why the genre has dominated reading lockdown reading habits, and Steve Cavanagh and Luca Veste are set to present a virtual version of their popular podcast Two Crime Writers & A Microphone for the weekend.

 

Queen of crime Val McDermid will be joined by journalist and broadcaster Mark Lawson to unpack the heritage and impact of her infamous New Blood panel, discussing the vital role this showcase has played in shaping bookshelves and literary careers, how trends have changed over the past 17 years, as well as giving a peek behind the scenes into has she selects her chosen four… all before welcoming this year’s formidable debut talent to share the virtual stage: Deepa Anappara, Elizabeth Kay, Jessica Moor and Trevor Wood.

 

For centuries music has provided refuge in times of crisis and Harrogate International Festivals has taken the bold step of commissioning a new work to premiere during the HIF Weekender, in a statement demonstrating the Festival’s commitment to supporting the arts scene and the artistic community at this precarious time.

 

Highly respected, Yorkshire based composer David Lancaster was commissioned by the Festival following the cancellation of the Summer Season. Inspired by the pandemic, Lancaster’s piece for brass band Eclipse was scored in just five days and represents the darkness and danger facing the arts at this time, with an invitation to remain hopeful until the light returns. The Festival has brought together musicians from around the world – from young players starting out on their journey to professionals at very top of their careers – to come together digitally as a community on the hallowed Harrogate stage for a collaborative world premiere led by acclaimed virtuoso trumpeter Mike Lovatt.

 

Jazz maestro Mischa Mullov-Abbado – who has also been commissioned by the Festival for new work premiering this autumn – is welcomed as a Guest Curator for the festival weekend, as well as performing with the Mischa Mullov-Abbado Group. Reflecting the Festival’s dedication to championing new talent, Mullov-Abbado has handpicked some of the most exciting contemporary young musicians to join the line-up: rising stars and former finalists from the BBC Young Jazz Musician of The Year, Sean Payne and Noah Stoneman.

 

There will be a host of further classical performances from world renowned musicians including distinguished British cellist Steven Isserlis, the Navarra String Quartet, multi-award-winning concerto violinist Tasmin Little, Tehran born harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani – a three time nominee for Gramophone’s Artist of the Year – as well as a raft of emerging artists: pianist George Harliono, who was recently shortlisted for Classical BRIT Award, Argentinian composer and pianist Silas Bassa, violin and piano duo Abigail Hammett and Iwan Owen, and tenor saxophonist Rachael Green.

 

For folk fans BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award nominees Granny’s Attic are on hand to entertain, or if rave and house music is more your scene, Graeme Park – the DJ responsible legendary Hacienda in Manchester and at the heart of the cultural boom of Cool Britannia – will be joining the line up with a live DJ set and interview, so be sure to have your disco ball ready at home.

 

Alongside mesmerising music and first-class fiction, the HIF Weekender presents a series of cultural conversations with the best in the business including celebrated conductor Ben Palmer, Deutsche Philharmonie Merck in Darmstadt, and Founder and Artistic Director of Covent Garden Sinfonia; theatre maker and co-director of the Fun Palaces campaign, Stella Duffy, will be discussing the state of the arts in lockdown; newsreader and presenter John Suchet will reveal the man behind the music with his compelling biography of Beethoven; and one of the UKs most prolific and successful writers – Anthony Horowitz – will be sharing  anecdotes from his career, celebrating 10 years of Alex Rider and giving an early glimpse at his new novel Moonflower Murders.

 

As part of the Festival’s Berwins Salon North strand of TED-style talks designed to change your life for the better, the weekender welcomes geneticist, author, and broadcaster Adam Rutherford to advise on How to Argue with a Racist, BBC Radio 4’s All in the Mind Claudia Hammond will explain why we should be talking rest seriously, and astrobiology research scientist Lewis Dartnell will tell the virtual audience the ultimate origin story.

 

And not forgetting little ones, in addition to the host of activities and resources on the Festival’s HIF Player, the HIF Weekender will be introducing children to brass music with Back Chat Kids, sharing singalongs with Family Singing Sessions and History’s Maid Kate Vigurs will be revealing the horribly entertaining parts of history that children love!

 

Since 1966, Harrogate International Festivals has proved an artistic force to be reckoned with, presenting inspiring and ambitious cultural experiences in the most interesting spaces across Harrogate and the region, dedicated to its charitable purpose of ensuring as many people as possible have access to the arts. This commitment now takes the Festival to our digital doorstep, but for those unable to connect HIF has created a CD version of the weekender available to the public. The festival is also hosting a colourful window campaign to spread joy on the streets of Harrogate and brighten up the #ViewFromMyWindow, as well as live performances from the Band on a Bus helping residents stay upbeat and merry, and etchings of 10 Word Crime Stories as a nod to Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime  Writing Festival.

 

Sharon Canavar, CE of Harrogate International Festivals, said: “Out of crisis comes creativity, and Harrogate International Festivals is delighted to present a world-class line-up for our first virtual HIF Weekender. Bucking the trend, we have opened our digital doors and wallets to fund artists and commission new work, knowing the transformative value that the arts bring in supporting communities – both locally and for our international audience. Whilst there is no denying that this is a hugely challenging time for the arts and for artists, festivals play a vital part in the creative industries ecology and defining our cultural landscape, and so we are extremely proud to be presenting this rich selection to our audiences world-wide for free, ensuring the arts remain accessible to all at a time when we need it the most.”

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Book reviews, Extract

Warbringer by Aaron Hodges – *EXTRACT*

 

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Welcome to the Bookwormery and I’m pleased to be taking part in the blog blitz for Warbringer by Aaron Hodges…  and to bring you an extract……

 

Here’s a little about Warbringer and the extract will follow …

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

 

Warbringer

 

Centuries ago, the world fell.

From the ashes rose a terrible new species—the Tangata.

Now they wage war against the kingdoms of man.

And humanity is losing.

Recruited straight from his academy, twenty-year-old Lukys hopes the frontier will make a soldier out of him. But Tangata are massing in the south, and the allied armies are desperate. They will do anything to halt the enemy advance—including sending untrained men and women into battle. 

Determined to survive, Lukys seeks aid from the only man who seems to care: Romaine, the last warrior of an extinct kingdom.

Meanwhile, the Queen’s Archivist leads an expedition deep beneath the earth. She seeks to uncover the secrets of the Gods. Their magic has been lost to the ages, yet artifacts remain, objects of power that could turn the tide of the war. But salvation is not all that waits beneath the surface. Something else slumbers in the darkness. Something old. Something evil.

Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and the extract to share.

 

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08653PM1L/

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08653PM1L/

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

 

Aaron Hodges was born in 1989 in the small town of Whakatane, New Zealand. He studied for five years at the University of Auckland, completing a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Geography, and a Masters of Environmental Engineering. After working as an environmental consultant for two years, he grew tired of office work and decided to quit his job and explore the world. During his travels he picked up an old draft of a novel he once wrote in High School (titled The Sword of Light) and began to rewrite the story. Six months later he published his first novel, Stormwielder, and hasn’t looked back since.

http://www.aaronhodges.co.nz/

https://www.facebook.com/Aaron-Hodges-669480156486208/

 

EXTRACT

 

Lukys sat back on his haunches. Around him, the world was on fire. Winds blew from across the river, catching in the hay below the walls and sending flaming strands swirling through the air. Acrid smoke stung his nostrils as he inhaled, and his throat burned. Terror robbed him of strength.

 

He drew on what final dredges of courage remained to him. Clasping at his fallen spear, he forced himself up—and found himself staring into the stony eyes of the beast.

 

It stood just a yard away, close enough that it could have reached out and snapped his neck at any moment. It didn’t. Wrinkles creased its forehead as it watched him. The spear shook in Lukys’s hand as he realised this was his chance.

 

But even as he tightened his grip on the weapon, the Tangata tensed, its features closing over. A smile twisted its lips, revealing yellowed teeth.

 

Death, death, death.

 

Laughter sounded in Lukys’s ears and the beast raised a hand, gesturing him forward.

 

Screaming, Lukys leapt, spear held at the ready. He knew he could not win, that this was the end, but in that moment he didn’t care. All that mattered was the spear in his hands and the beast.

 

The tip of his spear flashed out, aimed clumsily for the creature’s stomach. The Tangata was quicker, its hand swiping down, catching his weapon by the haft and snapping it in two with a quick wrench.

 

Lukys staggered back, half of his now useless weapon still clutched to his chest. The tip of Lukys’s spear clasped in one hand, the Tangata advanced.

 

A cry escaped Lukys as his boots failed to find purchase in the mud. He crashed to the ground, broken spear tumbling from his fingers. Mouth wide in terror, he looked up, expecting to see death descending upon him.

 

A warrior stood between Lukys and the Tangata, twin-bladed axe extended towards the beast. The weapon rippled in the firelight as it swept out. The Tangata leapt away, twisting from the path of the blade, but even with its superhuman speed, it could not avoid the blow completely.

A shriek rent the air as the axe sliced the creature’s thigh. Blood pulsed from the wound as it staggered. Lukys was surprised to see it bled red. Despite their distinctly human appearance, surely the monsters could not be the same within?

 

Pain contorted the Tangata’s face as it faced the axeman. Then a change seemed to come over the creature, a wave of pure rage sweeping away its agony. Its eyes flashed and it rushed forward—now in total silence.

 

The axeman did not retreat from its fury. He charged with a shout, words lost in the chaos, massive shoulders sending the axe flashing for the Tangata. Somehow, the creature seemed sluggish by comparison. Perhaps the wound had slowed it. Regardless, it realised its mistake too late, and with a sickening thud, the axe slammed into its shoulder, slicing through bone and sinew to bury itself in the beast’s chest.

 

An awful gurgling came from the Tangata as it struggled to step forward, to reach the enemy that had slain it. But not even these creatures could survive such a blow, and with a sharp whistle of departing air, it slumped to its knees and fell alongside Lukys.

 

The warrior towered over the beast. His shoulders heaved as blue eyes scanned the ramparts, seeking out signs of fresh danger. Another Tangata lay nearby, its body peppered with arrows and impaled by several spears. In the distance, the sounds of battle were fading, an eerie stillness coming over the night.

 

The battle was won.

 

Looking up at the massive axeman, Lukys could hardly believe he was alive. If not for the ferocious warrior, he wouldn’t be. Only now did he notice the man did not wear the familiar red of Flumeer, nor the blue of Perfugia. Instead, his chainmail had been woven through with the deepest green, remnant of the forest.

 

Calafe.

 

He hadn’t realised there were any Calafe warriors left. They had passed the refugee camps outside Mildeth, but it was said that the last of their soldiers had refused to leave their land, and had died on the shores of the Illmoor. What did this man fight for now, with his kingdom overcome?

 

“Need some help?”

 

Lukys started as the man spoke, dragging him from his thoughts. Seeing the hand the warrior was extending, he took it. His slender fingers were ingulfed by the warrior’s giant mitts and he was yanked to his feet. Lukys stumbled before righting himself, his gaze catching on the body of the Tangata once more. The blood had stopped flowing from the awful wound the man’s axe had left.

 

It almost killed me.

Before he could stop himself, Lukys was bent in two and retching in the mud.

Gentle laughter came from beside him. “First battle?”

 

Gasping, Lukys managed a nod.

 

“You’ll get used to it,” the warrior grunted.

 

With that, he took a hold of his axe. Placing a boot on the Tangata’s chest, he yanked the weapon free with a sickening squelch, then turned and walked away along the ramparts.

Lukys watched him go, a reply on his lips, though he couldn’t bring himself to say it. The warrior was wrong. He would never get used to this. He would never get the chance.

 

He’d be dead long before then. 

Cosy mystery

Murder On The Downs by Julie Wassmer – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A controversial new property development is planned in Whitstable which will encroach upon the green open space of the downs, to the dismay of Whitstable residents who view this as the thin end of the wedge with regard to local wildlife conservation.

A campaign springs into life, spearheaded by a friend of Pearl’s family, Martha Laker. A committed environmentalist, Martha is no stranger to controversy herself. She has also managed to divide opinion across town, with the locals viewing her as their fearless champion while establishment figures seeing only an interfering agitator.

Tensions escalate between the developers and Whitstable residents, straining Pearl’s close relationship with London-born police officer, DCI Mike McGuire, who harbours concerns that the local campaign will spiral out of control. Pearl’s loyalties are torn, but the protest duly goes ahead – and newspaper headlines claim a moral victory for the residents in this David and Goliath battle.

But the victory is short lived when Pearl discovers a dead body on the downs…

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MY REVIEW 

#7 in The Whitstable Pearl Mystery series, but can also be read as a stand-alone.

Pearl Nolan owns a successful restaurant, The Whitstable Pearl and the Nolan’s Detective Agency.

Pearl takes part in a local protest against a property developer’s plans to build new housing on green land. While new housing is desperately needed the locals feel there are better options available.

But when Pearl finds a body on the downs, she begins her own investigation, all the while she is defending her home town of Whitstable. Her family and her relationship with DCI Mike McGuire.

Murder On The Downs is the perfect summer read, a cosy murder mystery with a clever plot and hunger inducing descriptions of delicious sounding foods. A thoroughly entertaining 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.

 

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

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Julie Wassmer was born in the East End of London, studied at Kingston University and had a variety of different jobs before she finally settled down to become a professional television drama writer.

She worked on several TV series, including ITV’s London’s Burning, C5’s Family Affairs and the popular BBC soap, EastEnders, which she wrote for almost 20 years.

In 2010, her autobiography More Than Just Coincidence was published by Harper Collins/True. The book entered the Sunday Times Best Selling Non Fiction Top Twenty and went on to become Mumsnet Book of the Year.

In 2015, Julie’s debut crime novel, The Whitstable Pearl Mystery, was published by award-winning publisher, Little, Brown Book Group. Six other books have since followed in the series with more on the way, and the television rights to the series have been optioned by the TV production company, Buccaneer, the makers of Marcella, starring Anna Friel.

Julie moved to Whitstable twenty years ago where she shares a home with her husband, Kas, and three cats, Charlie, Lily and Maisie. She also spends a great deal of time campaigning on environmental issues.

 

Murder on the Downs is the seventh book in the Whitstable Pearl Mystery series.

 

Book reviews, Spy thriller

Awakening Of Spies by Brian Landers – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

 

Thomas Dylan is an unlikely spy.

Rejected by MI6 he joins the Ministry of Defence where his first mission is a total failure. Unexpectedly he is then sent to Rio de Janeiro to recover a submarine interrogator stolen from the US Navy.

 

In Brazil he discovers that those supposedly on his side, MI6 and the CIA, have their own priorities and his life is not one of them.

 

A murderous game which began with the death of a British spy in Argentina is being played out in a city of sun, sea and secret police. When he comes face-to-face with the brutal realities of Brazil’s military dictatorship Dylan has to trust somebody. But who?

 

He knows for sure that the woman he wants to trust has been lying to him from the very beginning. But why?

 

This is a fast-paced thriller in the vein of John le Carré and Eric Ambler.
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MY REVIEW 

 

Awakening Of Spies is the tale of Thomas Dylan, an unassuming man who had believed he was bound for a job behind a desk, but instead ends up as a spy.

There is a marvellously complex plot, lots of action around the world, London, Holland, Brazil…. and plenty of tricks and twists to keep you hooked. There’s also a little romance too. A thoroughly gripping and engrossing spy thriller. I’ll be looking out for the next book in the series.

Thank you to Literally PR for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and a copy of Awakening Of Spies. This is my honest and unbiased review.