Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Need You Dead – Peter James #blogtour

Crime Fiction
5*s

I am particularly delighted to be part of the blog tour for Need You Dead which is the thirteenth in the award-winning DS Roy Grace series by Peter James because this is a series I’ve followed from the very beginning, reading each book in order eager to find out what has happened to my favourite characters whilst knowing that there will be a cracking crime story to keep me entertained.

Today Peter James is sharing some of his research with us:

DS Roy Grace Blog Tour – Day 7
Research behind Dead Man’s Grip

While researching Dead Man’s Grip I was taken around the famous local landmark that is Shoreham Power station. Along with being claustrophobic I have always had an absolute terror of heights, so the research for a key scene in the book, involving a secret tunnel under Shoreham Harbour, where I would be making a 180 feet vertical descent down a ladder in a shaft, was horrifying! A major “oh shit” moment! Fortunately I had two very delightful and caring helpers from Rescue & Emergency Medical Services Ltd who gave me the confidence and help to do it.

Then at the launch of Dead Man’s Grip I was submerged in a van in Shoreham Harbour for a stunt enacting a key scene in the book. I was nervous as hell before this event and I had the whole police dive team prepped to rescue me in case it went wrong!

Peter James has kindly provided original pieces for each day of his blog tour so make sure you catch the rest of the stops!

 

Book Review
Lorna Belling has been found dead in a bath tub in a rented flat in Brighton. Already known to the police because she’s reported her husband for domestic abuse Roy Grace sees the investigation as a good one for Guy Batchelor to be Deputy Senior Investigating Officer for a couple of reasons: one to allow him to learn the ropes and secondly because Roy has to fly to Germany to pick up his son Bruno to bring him back for the funeral of his mother.

Lorna is a hairdresser who works from home, her phone is monitored by her husband and there has been more than one nasty incident with her husband Corin who works for an IT company, but the last attack was particularly nasty. The Domestic Violence caseworker is concerned for Lorna’s safety but so far Lorna has decided to stay put with Corin and the puppies she has bred. But the flat where Lorna was found dead wasn’t her home, so why is she in a cheap rental flat with dodgy electrics?

Of course the investigation isn’t quite as straightforward as first appearances indicated and the reader is in on the action seeing the red-herrings being liberally scattered across Brighton to ensure that the Police are following entirely the wrong scent. In a bold move by the author we even know why the only link missing is who it could be. It goes to show how in experienced hands a small amount of mystery is all that is needed with this book not lacking at all in tension as the team set out to find the killer – or perhaps Lorna committed suicide after all?

There are a number of strands to be pursued by the team and all of them have a good collection of well-drawn characters to keep us fully entertained as they do so!

It is almost refreshing these days to have modern crime fiction told in a straightforward time-line and here we have the chapters headed up by the days of the week starting from the beginning and working to the end – how clever is that? Because there is so much going on there are several chapters for each day, with each looking from a different point of view and in the case of Roy Grace, some are from a different country.

As with the entire series I get as much enjoyment in meeting up with the large and varied cast of characters, particularly with the established team of police, with the author reflecting their most immediate concerns using his extensive contacts with the real crime fighters in Brighton’s Police Force to ensure all the details are bang up to date. A small word of caution, Mr James, please don’t turn Roy Grace into a political figurehead for the Police however much your sources urge you to, less is more as they say!

As always this latest Roy Grace story had me thoroughly entertained. I can also spy some interesting threads which I’m sure we will follow for a few books yet in Roy’s personal life as Bruno settles into life as a big brother to baby Noah and so as always, no sooner did I put the book down, I was eager to have the next instalment from Brighton and Hove.

I am extremely grateful to Macmillan and Midas PR for providing me with a review copy of this book, and for allowing me to be part of this blog tour – the pinnacle of my blogging ambitions! My review of course is unbiased.

First Published UK: 18 May 2017
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
No of Pages:  432
Genre: Crime Fiction – Crime Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Roy Grace Series in order
Dead Simple
Looking Good Dead
Not Dead Enough
Dead Man’s Footsteps
Dead Tomorrow
Dead Like You
Dead Man’s Grip
Not Dead Yet
Dead Man’s Time
Want You Dead
You Are Dead
Love You Dead
Need You Dead

Need You Dead, the thirteenth in the award-winning DS Roy Grace series by Peter James, is out 18th May (Macmillan, £20.00)

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Books I have read

Want You Gone – Chris Brookmyre #Blogtour #bookreview

Crime Fiction
4*s

Computer hacking isn’t a subject I’d normally be drawn to as anything IT related is a turn-off as far as I’m concerned, but as I’d heard such good things about this author and having no hope of catching up on the previous seven books in the series, Want You Gone was where I started, and I was totally drawn into the world of internet chat rooms with anonymous men ‘there are no women on the internet’ conspiring to all sorts of three-letter acronyms.

Sam Morpeth is struggling, she’s at college but in charge of her disabled younger sister, Lily, as her mother is in prison. Sam is a loner, she doesn’t fit in at school, and she’s struggling to pay the bills. Sam decides she has no option but to take a part-time job in a sandwich shop, but then she attracts the wrong kind of attention. Added to all of that she’s sure that her mother is keeping secrets from her.

Jack Parlabane is kicking off the traces to whatever trouble he’d been in which something to do with the hacking scandal, and he’s found employment as a journalist on a new paper, Broadwave. He’s determined not to mess up again especially as he’s enjoying the opportunity to do more in-depth reporting and his links to a hacker give him an in on a recent security breach by the hackers at a major bank. With the police looking for the perpetrators and the bank severely embarrassed will Jack be able to uncover the truth?

If I’m reading contemporary crime fiction, I like the themes to be current and thought-provoking and Chris Brookmyre carries off this brief off with alacrity. Obviously the internet has been part of our lives for long enough for it to be hard to remember what life was like before it, but the telephone hacking scandal is recent enough for the repercussions still making their mark and I suspect most journalists work in a more circumspect way then they did before the Leveson inquiry. All of this is well-reflected in the storyline without the reader feeling hammered over the head, there simply isn’t time as the plot moves along at a fair old pace, with twists and turns, all aided and abetted by the shadowy nature of the characters. In another novel all the cloak and dagger might seem all too convenient whereas it fits perfectly with the themes that underpin this compelling read.

There is masses of action in Want You Gone and despite the technical aspects of this book, it never felt burdensome and everything was clearly explained in words that this technophobe could understand. I liked the interaction between Sam and Jack, there comes a point where despite neither trusting, nor liking, the other, they had to work together for a common aim. A tough piece of character conflict to pull off at the best of times, but in the midst of a fast and furious storyline where believability becomes crucial, on reflection I realised the importance of this outstanding piece of writing.

I started this review by stating that I’d become aware of this author through other bloggers and decided that I couldn’t possibly catch up on the series which is why I took the plunge at book eight. I now revise that opinion, I will be seeking out the previous books and whilst it is unrealistic to imagine that I will read them all before the publication of book nine, I need to know more about Jack’s life before it became entangled with Sam’s.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Little Brown Books who allowed me to read an ARC of Want You Gone. This unbiased review is my thanks to them and the talented author, Chris Brookmyre.

First Published UK: 20 April 2017
Publisher: Little Brown Books
No of Pages: 432
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Blog Tour

The Restless Dead by Simon Beckett – Blog Tour

Writing a Series

by Simon Beckett

When I sat down to start The Chemistry of Death, my first novel to feature British forensic anthropologist David Hunter, it wasn’t with the intention of writing a series. Back then my main concern was writing a good, scary thriller that people would enjoy, and that had a decent chance of attracting a publisher. I didn’t give much thought to anything beyond that.

It was only later, when I realised there was enthusiasm for more books about the same character, that I began to think seriously about a sequel. Sequels, in fact. Of course, that’s a fantastic position for a writer to find themselves in. At the same time, it’s a very different situation to writing a stand-alone novel, where the story and characters conclude on the final page.

‘You’ve already got the main character, all you have to do is write another story about him,’ a friend of mine commented when I was worrying over the follow-up. ‘How hard can it be?’ Fair point. But just because you’ve managed to bottle lightning once doesn’t mean it’s easy to do again. In fact, thinking that way is a good way of falling flat on your face.

One of the difficulties of any series is retaining those elements that made the first book a success, while still keeping the stories and characters fresh. And the longer the series goes on, the harder it is to prevent the laws of diminishing returns from creeping in. That killer plot twist you dreamed up in book two, for instance, might have had you punching the air at the time. But how do you top it in book three? Let alone books four or five?

The answer is that you probably can’t. At least not in the same way, and it would be a mistake to try. If each book in a series follows exactly the same formula, then you’ll quickly become bored by writing it. And if that happens it’s a safe bet your readers will feel the same way.

Every author has their own way of dealing with this. Mine was to take my lead from real-life forensic anthropologists; specialists in badly decomposed or damaged human remains, who are called out to crime scenes across the UK. It allows me to place David Hunter in a different location for each novel, with a mostly new set of characters to interact with. That gives the individual books their own distinct identity, and helps keeps the series from becoming stale. For me as well as – I hope – the reader.

Of course, it can also bring its own set of problems, not least a sense of having the re-invent the wheel from scratch each time. But no one ever said writing was easy. That much holds true whether it’s a series or a stand-alone you’re writing.

Amazon UK
Amazon US

I’d like to thank Simon Beckett for this fascinating piece about turning a single book into a series – you can read my review of The Restless Dead here

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Books I have read

The Housekeeper – Suellen Dainty #BlogTour

Psychological Suspense
4*s

I’ve recently re-discovered the thrill of the slower psychological suspense books where the thrills are gained from understanding a character rather than focussing on twists and turns. There is of course a place for both types of books, not least on my own bookshelf, but I think the former leaves a longer lasting impression than the latter where the enjoyment is often in the thrill of the ride. The Housekeeper was one of those books that crept up on me through Anne’s eyes.

Anne Morgan has just been dumped by her boyfriend, a charismatic chef, worse still he was her boss. After doing the requisite moping around, resisting her friend’s attempts to get her back in the kitchen, she has an epiphany. For weeks she has been following Emma Helmsley, a lifestyle blogger and her daily tips have motivated Anne almost as much as she has spent her adulthood referencing Isabella Beeton’s Book of Household Management and the solution seems simple, she will become Emma Helmsley’s housekeeper.

Now I don’t know about you but I feel somewhat queasy about someone poking around in my drawers and I’m no lifestyle blogger holding myself up as the perfect organiser, but Emma is in dire need of help. The rather disorganised household consists of herself, her husband Rob an academic who is in the midst of writing a book about a pioneer psychologist, and their teenage children, Lily and Jake.

Anne has her work cut out for her, there is plenty of clutter to sort out in the house and as we all know, no sooner is one mess sorted out than another appears but she’s enjoying the slower pace, no more fifteen hour days in a busy kitchen. It doesn’t take long for the façade the couple present as they network their way around London to be revealed for something else entirely.

The Housekeeper had me gripped because of the characters; I was fascinated by Anne’s choices and although they wouldn’t have been mine her background made them entirely plausible. As for the family… well all four were equally fascinating although Emma was more frequently in the picture than the others. A special shout-out has to go to the friend Julie who was that voice of reason often lacking in psychological fiction but will her voice be loud enough?

The whole book was written assuredly, the author really making her mark by painting a picture of the house itself, Anne’s flat and the more mundane bus rides home at night, bringing to life the minutia of a young woman’s life while keeping the pace absolutely steady thereby avoiding that deadly speeding up and slowing down jerkiness. The steady pace also allowed me to absorb the excerpts that headed up each chapter which changed from Mrs Beeton’s household tips, to Emma’s motivational statement to parts from Rob’s book about the pioneer psychologist who treated those with disorders outside the more traditional hospital environment.

I’m not going to give any more of the plot away but suffice to say there is an interesting look at a subject that isn’t often tackled and refreshingly it was done without the usual hullabaloo. The Housekeeper’s very strength the almost reserved way that the truth is revealed and interestingly it isn’t all focussed on one character alone.

This book made for a totally satisfying weekend read, with plenty to ponder and wonder about when I wasn’t salivating over the descriptions of the food, maybe a housekeeper would be nice after all!

I’d like to say an enormous thank you to Eve at Midas PR for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and Suellen Dainty for introducing me to the world of household management!

First Published UK: 28 February 2017
Publisher: Washington Square Press
No of Pages:  320
Genre: Psychological Suspense
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Blog Tour

Lie In Wait – G.J. Minett #BlogTour #Author Post

Lie In Wait

On 9 March 2017 Lie In Wait by G.J. Minett is being published as a paperback and looking inside the front cover I can see that I’m not the only reader to heap praise on this novel

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So I was thrilled to be asked to kick off the blog tour to celebrate the paperback publication especially as the author was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule, which includes submitting book three to the publishers, to write this exclusive post about writing characters!

Writing Characters

All authors have to choose a starting point that works for them and for me it’s the central character. That doesn’t mean to say that potential plots don’t occur to me from time to time – they do, and I tend to shut them away for future reference because until I have a character I want to work with, there is no story to tell. Once I do, I can then look for that character’s Achilles heel and choose a situation that is going to test her/him to the limit. But it’s character first.

In The Hidden Legacy, Ellen sprang out of an exercise we did for the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester. We were given a comprehensive checklist which we had to use to ask our character questions ranging from which newspaper she read to what her deepest fear would be. I took ages over fleshing her out and carried her around with me for months, even asking myself how she would react to news items on TV. Not far off schizophrenic maybe but very useful for getting to know your character.

In Lie In Wait Owen was a composite of a handful of children I’ve taught over the years who seem to have the words ‘natural victim’ stamped into their psyche. Very often they are different but they are made more so by the reaction of those around them who exclude them from everything.

Writing is not just about central characters though and I’ve come up with three tips which work for me when developing the cast of supporting actors who help to bring the novel to life. In no particular order they are:

• Avoid extremes if possible. Not many people are without flaws and no one I’ve met is entirely without redeeming features. Try to make sure you throw in a few little surprises which show a different side to your characters or there’s a danger they’ll be too wooden and stereotypical to be interesting. It’s always better to challenge the reader’s expectations.

• Get the dialogue right. We all speak slightly differently from each other with a variety of hesitations, digressions, favourite expressions that, you know, we seem to kind of throw in every other sentence . . . basically. Know what I mean? Listen to people around you, borrow extensively from them. In an ideal world, it should be possible for a reader to listen to a dozen or so examples of speech from one character in your novel and know exactly who it is without being told. And the listening part is important too – try taping an extended piece of dialogue you’ve created and playing it back to see what it sounds like. If it clunks, change it.

• Test your characters. You won’t want (or have time) to do this with all of them but with half a dozen or so who appear relatively frequently, try to come up with a situation which will put them under pressure and bring out a different side to them. Characters when pressurised behave in ways that surprise us and readers tend to like being caught on the hop. At any social gathering, I don’t suppose I’m very different from anyone else in seeking out the individuals who are interesting, entertaining and informative and readers are the same. If we can make a character that little bit more interesting, we’re winning the battle for the their attention.

I did say these work for me. It doesn’t mean they will for everyone but if there’s even one small suggestion there that helps, I’ll be delighted.

Many thanks to Cleo as usual for the opportunity.

Thank you Graham, and one of the things I’ve loved most about both books is how realistic the characters are, for me it is the mixture of redeeming, and not so redeeming qualities which tends to convince me but I can see that by employing all of those tips, there is nothing to doubt about how life-like a character is.

gj-minett-author-pic

G.J. Minett’s first book A Hidden Legacy was published by Twenty7 Books then a new imprint of Bonnier Publishing, specialising in debut fiction from every genre. They are incredibly passionate about supporting the best new authors and finding innovative ways of bringing their books to readers across the world.

Lie In Wait
has been published by Bonnier and has already amassed an impressive quantity of five star reviews on Amazon.

You can visit Graham’s author page on Facebook at G.J.Minett author or on Twitter @GJMinett

Lie in Wait

Synopsis

A man is dead. A woman is missing. And the police have already found their prime suspect…

Owen Hall drives into a petrol station to let his passenger use the facilities. She never comes back – and what’s more, it seems she never even made it inside.

When Owen raises a fuss, the police are called – and soon identify Owen himself as a possible culprit – not least because they already have him in the frame for another more sinister crime.

Owen’s always been a little different, and before long others in the community are baying for his blood. But this is a case where nothing is as it seems – least of all Owen Hall…

A dark, addictive thriller, ingeniously plotted with a twist that will make you gasp, LIE IN WAIT is perfect for readers of Angela Marsons or Rachel Abbott. Amazon

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Chalk Pit – Elly Griffiths – Blog Tour (#BookReview)

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction
5*s

I am a huge fan of this series which features the down to earth Dr Ruth Galloway and the surprisingly complex DCI Harry Nelson so I was thrilled to be asked to be part of the Blog Tour to celebrate the publication of The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths, the ninth book in the series which was published on 23 February 2017.

the-chalk-pit-blog-tour

To kick off the tour I give you my humble opinion of this great book!

Book Review

Another outing for Ruth Galloway and this time the action is firmly set in Norwich when bones are found in an underground tunnel under Guildhall, which is something of an inconvenience for Quentin Swain the architect who is looking to use the space to build a swanky restaurant. Ruth overcomes her dislike of enclosed spaces to take a trip below the city to take a look; she’s fairly sure that they are old bones so sends them off to be tested.

Meanwhile the police are investigating the disappearance of a homeless woman, Babs in Norwich who has disappeared without trace. Eddie who has made the police station his bedroom, has reported her missing and it is clear when the police starts talking to the other members of the community, that they are worried about her too, but many are cautious of the police. And then a housewife goes missing in very suspicious circumstances and the police are forced to consider whether there can be a link to Babs.

I have to say that this book treats the subject of homelessness with far more nuance than any other that I’ve read. Elly Griffiths has given each of the many men, and they usually are men, a realistic story of how they came to be on the street, and why they are unwilling to accept the help offered to them but she has resisted the urge to make them all out to be saints which means that her attempts to make them realistic characters is so much more effective.
One of the many aspects of this series which I love is the link between Ruth and DI Nelson through their daughter Kate and the peek behind their working lives into what can only fairly be described as muddled. These insights leak around the side of the main investigation, never overwhelming it but often cleverly linking or echoing the themes.

In this book Kate is offered the part in a play. Ruth isn’t too sure whether this is a good idea but a few words from her mother and outright disapproval from Nelson means that Kate winds up playing the child Alice in a quirky adaption of that famous story called Alice Underground. The adult Alice being played by Cassandra wife of DS Clough.

The other aspect I really enjoy is that upon opening up the latest in the series I feel like I’m meeting old friends with the characters, distinct and engaging as ever, we had plenty of news to catch up on while underground tunnels were being searched and pits opening up in the road are causing chaos in Norwich. Ruth Galloway also links back to past books with little asides so this really is one of those series which is best read in order although there is a helpful who’s who guide at the back of the book for those of you reckless readers who are happy to dive in straight at book nine!

The familiarity of the characters alongside the first person narrative really make me feel that I am part of the book. So I know what’s going on and I can often predict the individual character’s response, but the plotting is so devious that I am no match for the detectives, I am merely on the side lines waiting for them to crack the case in indomitable style.

Although to be honest there isn’t one of these books that I haven’t enjoyed, the plotting in this one seemed tauter and the links more robust than some of the previous books. When you combine the excellent mystery with some intriguing personal lives and a look at a community which rarely has an accurate spotlight trained on it whilst seamlessly providing the history of the underground tunnels in Norwich, The Chalk Pit was a sure fire winner.

ellygriffiths-c-sara-reeve-3
Elly Griffiths – Sara Reeve

Dr Ruth Galloway Books in Order

The Crossing Places
The Janus Stone
The House at Sea’s End
A Room Full of Bones
Dying Fall
The Outcast Dead
The Ghost Fields
The Woman in Blue

First Published UK: 23 February 2017
Publisher: Quercus
No of Pages:  384
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Blog Tour

The Day That Never Comes – Author Post – Caimh McDonnell

the-day-that-never-comes-blog-tour

 

I’m delighted to welcome Caimh McDonnell back to my blog to celebrate the publication of his second book in the Dublin Trilogy; The Day That Never Comes which was published on 23 January 2017.

For those of you who haven’t yet read the first, A Man With One of Those Faces, it is currently on offer on Amazon for just 99p or 99c, an absolute bargain for this very funny crime novel!

Without further ado I will hand over to Caimh and his author post.

 

Life Imitating Art

 

In the middle of December I went home to Dublin for a ‘working holiday’ when something very peculiar happened. It was a ‘working holiday’ because I was going over the final, final, final proofs of my latest book The Day That Never Comes that my editor had sent over. This meant sitting in my mother’s backroom while she nipped in every fifteen or so minutes to make sure I wasn’t being disturbed. She’d occasionally mix this with standing outside the door loudly telling my dad to eat his toast more quietly.

 

To give you some background, my book is a crime thriller set in Dublin. One of the things that happens in it is that a group of homeless people take over an office building in central Dublin that the Irish government have left unoccupied. I awoke one morning to an excited email from my friend Brendan in Ghana, who was one of the few people bar my editor who had read the book up until this point. The reason for his excitement was he had been reading the Irish Times online and a group of homeless people had just taken over an office building in central Dublin that the Irish government had left unoccupied.

 

The name of the real building in question is Apollo House and it has been big news in Ireland and has even gained some coverage internationally. Of all the many, many coincidences between Apollo House and the Ark, the real building stands about a four-minute walk across the River Liffey from where I imagined the fake one would be.

 

I currently live in Manchester, which is actually a lot alike Dublin in many ways; sadly one of those is that in the last decade there has been a shocking explosion in homelessness in both cities. It is normally hard in hindsight to recall exactly what inspired the ideas that end up in your book, but I’d be pretty certain that the shanty town that existed on Oxford Road in Manchester that I walked by most days, at least until the authorities ripped it down, was a large part of the inspiration for the fictional ‘Ark’ building that appears in my book.

 

Now, I should point out, the Ark is merely a small part of my novel and it is not a book about homelessness. Really, where its core inspiration comes from is the anger I think most people feel, in Ireland and elsewhere, where they suffered and continue to suffer the effects of an economic collapse that was caused by the reckless actions of a few people. Certainly in Ireland, with the enormous bank bailout that occurred, it feels like there is a well of anger that has never really been dealt with. The driving engine behind my novel is the idea of what would happen if someone decided to extract their revenge by killing the people they hold responsible for the collapse.

 

Still though, the similarities between my fictional Ark and the real Apollo House are frankly a bit freaky. It is very odd as an author to see something you had hypothesized played out in reality. I think I got both the Irish public’s reaction (almost total support) and the Irish government’s response (almost total embarrassment) pretty much bang on. The thing which most caught me by surprise was that I never in a million years thought someone in authority would make the case that these poor people should be evicted from the building and put back on the freezing mid-winter streets ‘for their own safety’. Even in fiction, that seemed like to bizarre and cruel an argument.

 

In reality, the occupants of Apollo House have now been evicted by order of the High Court, once temporary accommodation had been found for them elsewhere.  Their actions have also done an awful lot to raise awareness of an issue that for too long went ignored.

 

Let’s just say, in the fictional version of events in my book, things don’t end quite so peacefully. The Irish government should take note!

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The Day That Never Comes

 

the-day-that-never-came

Caimh McDonnell
Published 23 January 2017
McFori Ink
340 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9955075-2-4 Paperback
978-0-9955075-3-1 eBook (Kindle)

#DayNeverComes

 

Blurb

Remember those people that destroyed the economy and then cruised off on their yachts? Well guess what – someone is killing them.

Dublin is in the middle of a heat wave and tempers are running high. The Celtic Tiger is well and truly dead, activists have taken over the headquarters of a failed bank, the trial of three unscrupulous property developers teeters on the brink of collapse, and in the midst of all this, along comes a mysterious organisation hell-bent on exacting bloody vengeance in the name of the little guy.

Paul Mulchrone doesn’t care about any of this; he has problems of his own. His newly established detective agency is about to be DOA. One of his partners won’t talk to him for very good reasons and the other has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth for no reason at all. Can he hold it together long enough to figure out what Bunny McGarry’s colourful past has to do with his present absence?

When the law and justice no longer mean the same thing, on which side will you stand?

The Day That Never Comes is the second book in Caimh McDonnell’s Dublin trilogy, which melds fast-paced action with a distinctly Irish acerbic wit.

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If you haven’t read the A Man with One of Those Faces what are you waiting for? Don’t hang about, it is very funny and currently available for 99p/99c from 23 – 30 January 2017!

If you should need any persuasion to click the buy button, you can read my review here

Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

I will be reviewing The Day That Never Comes very soon, but if you can skip that and buy the book now, here are the links

Amazon UK
Amazon US

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Books I have read

Relativity – Antonia Hayes #BlogTour

relativity-blog-tour-19-january-2017
Ethan is an exceptionally gifted young boy, obsessed with physics and astronomy.
His single mother Claire is fiercely protective of her brilliant, vulnerable son. But she can’t shield him forever from learning the truth about what happened to him when he was a baby; why Mark had to leave them all those years ago.
Now age twelve, Ethan is increasingly curious about his past, especially his father’s absence in his life. When he intercepts a letter to Claire from Mark, he opens a lifetime of feelings that, like gravity, will pull the three together again.
Relativity is a tender and triumphant story about unbreakable bonds, irreversible acts, and testing the limits of love and forgiveness.

Antonia Hayes, who grew up in Sydney and spent her twenties in Paris, currently lives in London with her husband and son. Relativity is her first novel.

For further information please contact Clara Diaz on
020 3122 6565 | clara.diaz@littlebrown.co.uk

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My Review

This book starts with a heart-stopping opening of four-month old Ethan having stopped breathing this is a book that really defies pigeon-holing as a distinct type of book. There is the discovery ten years later of what happened on that day, but there is also a lot about physics, a boy living with a brain injury and the relationship between a mother and her son to name but a few of the topics covered in this immensely readable novel.
Twelve year old Ethan lives in Australia with his mother Claire and he can ‘see’ physics. He is the nerdy child in the class, his friends now scoring any gift that is academic and is finding it hard to find his place in the world. He is also a boy who knows practically nothing about his father, least of all the fact that Mark was convicted of harming him as a baby.

Antonia Hayes walks an incredibly delicate line when reaching back into the past to discover what happened to Ethan one day when he was in the care of his father and she does so without resorting to clichés which in turn makes this a book that has all the shades between black and white. For that alone she deserves the plaudits that she has received across the world for Relativity. Into that mix she uses a lot of physics metaphors to explain both physics and life. Don’t worry if you’re not sure what worm-holes (except for those made by worms) are though because the explanations never get so complex that this relatively simple soul could follow the theory.

At its heart though, once the physics and the searching for the truth are taken out of the equation, this is a story about relationships of which we are treated to many. There is the most important one to Ethan, that between him and his mother. The woman who has protected and cared for him for his whole life, and so once the revelation comes that she hasn’t been honest with him, he has to renegotiate his view. When admitted to hospital Ethan strikes up a relationship with a girl who suffers with severe epilepsy and discovers true friendship, not like that he shared with his boyhood friend Will but one where the two don’t have to share each other’s interests but can use them to discover truths in their own lives. There is also the relationship that Ethan wants with his father, and all the difficulties that brings with it especially as Mark himself has a fractured relationship with his dying father and his brother.

Ethan’s narrative was believable given his gift for physics and although I guess his age was chosen to make some of the decisions he made and the lack of supervision realistic, he did come across at times as someone younger, except of course when discussing his phenomenal knowledge of theoretical physics! Children’s voices are always hard to do well and

Relativity is a touching story which thankfully falls well-short of every becoming mawkish thanks in part to the physics which, while at times lends a whimsical feel, actually keeps the book taut in its execution by removing the need for endless navel-gazing. I really do prefer books to allow the actions and dialogue do the talking, thereby allowing the reader to reach their own conclusions and this is one such book.

First Published UK: 7 April 2016
Publisher: Corsair
No of Pages: 368
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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Antonia Hayes credit Angelo Sgambati

Posted in Blog Tour

A Motif of Seasons – Edward Glover (Blog Tour)

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I was honoured to be asked to be part of the blog tour for A Motif of Seasons by Edward Glover, part three of the Herzberg Trilogy.

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Blurb

Two powerful 19th-century English and Prussian families are still riven by the consequences of an ancestral marriage – one that bequeathed venomous division, rivalry and hatred. Three beautiful women – each ambitious and musically gifted – seek to break these inherited shackles of betrayal, revenge and cruelty in their pursuit of sexual freedom and love. But the past proves a formidable and vicious opponent. Set against the backdrop of Europe’s inexorable slide towards the First World War, the final resolution of this ancient and destructive quarrel hangs by a thread and with it the fate of an 18th-century music book full of secrets. The last volume in the thrilling Herzberg trilogy, A Motif of Seasons finally solves the intriguing mystery at the heart of the series – in a definitive and surprising way. Amazon

Edward Glover kindly agreed to select an extract from his book to share with you all to celebrate the publication of A Motif of Seasons on 18 November 2016.

Extract for A Motif of Seasons Blog Tour

Across St James’s Park, Charles Hardinge sipped a whisky, perusing the closing arguments in favour of the defendant in the morning. His beloved Victoria laid asleep, her sheets of music fallen from the bed and scattered on the floor. He gathered them up, stroked her still auburn hair loosely tied back with deep blue ribbon. He softly kissed her cheek. She smiled at his touch.
Along the corridor Alice looked into the mirror as she watched her hair – released from its pins – cascade in gentle waves on to her delicate shoulders. She saw Nicolas watching her from the bed in expectation. Her life as a small child in Whitechapel had hung by a thread. Now she was woven through divine fate into a rich family tapestry where the struggle for fame and prestige was passionate in a world of legendary rivalries amongst the acclaimed of the musical world. Her visit to the East End two days before had been an unforgettable reminder that she should constantly strive to retain her husband’s love and loyalty, never to take them for granted; and also a reminder that a close companion in her life would forever be the fear of her existence once again hanging by a single strand. She had resolved as they returned from the Palace hand in hand that she would now play the part of Scheherazade to the King her husband to be sure he never relinquished her.
She stood to face him, letting slip her crimson shawl held against her breasts to reveal her slender alabaster body just as a butterfly silently sheds its silken chrysalis to reveal the beauty of its unfolding wings. With a bewitching smile Nicolas had not seen before she beckoned him. Entwined in each other’s arms, they stood pressed together – skin against skin – barely breathing. Then they lay together warmed and illuminated by the flickering fire. He slipped easily into her, her arms pulling him in ever deeper. Alice had become the magical Princess enticing her King with the promise of more. Their love she resolved would be enduring.
Extract from A Motif of Seasons by Edward Glover out 18th November. Available to order here

The Man behind the Book

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Edward was born in London in 1943. After gaining a history degree followed by an MPhil at Birkbeck College, London University, he embarked on a career in the British diplomatic service, during which his overseas postings included Washington DC, Berlin, Brussels and the Caribbean. He subsequently advised on foreign ministry reform in post-invasion Iraq, Kosovo and Sierra Leone. More recently, for seven years he headed a one-million-acre rainforest-conservation project in South America, on behalf of the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Guyana Government.

With an interest in 16th- and 18th-century history, baroque music and 18th-century art, Edward was encouraged by the purchase of two paintings and a passport to try his hand at writing historical fiction. His first title The Music Book is a story of intrigue, betrayal, revenge, death and redemption, set in 18th-century Europe.

Edward and his wife, former Foreign & Commonwealth Office lawyer and leading international human rights adviser Dame Audrey Glover, now live in Norfolk, a place that gives him further inspiration for his writing. Edward sits on the board of trustees for Size of Wales and is a director of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office Association, an associate fellow of the University of Warwick’s Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies and a board member of The King’s Lynn Preservation Trust.

When he isn’t writing, Edward is an avid tennis player and – at the age of 71 – completed the 2014 London Marathon, raising almost £7,000 for Ambitious about Autism.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Books I have read

Blind Side – Jennie Ensor **Blog Tour**

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Psychological Thriller 4*s
Psychological Thriller
4*s

I’m going to start this review by stating that there was far more to this psychological thriller than I anticipated.

When Georgie agrees to have sex one drunken evening the last thing she could possibly have anticipated was the domino effect she’d set in motion. Rule number one which every woman who has left her teenage years behind knows, you don’t have sex with your friends. But Georgie did, she slept with her old university pal and confidante Julian.
Let’s just say that when Julian realises that Georgie doesn’t plan on repeating the exercise again, he doesn’t take it too well especially when he realises that Georgie has become close to a Russian man called Nikolai.
The scene is London in 2005 not long before the 7/7 terrorist bombing and the book accurately captures the mixture of emotions that swirled around at this time. Londoners defiantly showing that the terrorists wouldn’t stop them living their lives but a time where to be a foreigner meant that those around you became wary.

For Georgie and Nikolai the bombings coincide with their burgeoning relationship, but a relationship overshadowed by both the menace in the present of Julian’s hatred, and Georgie’s father’s disappointment at her choice of boyfriend and the past where Nikolai battles the nightmares of his time in the Russian army fighting the Chechens in the war. Georgie is also still recovering from a broken relationship and the disconnected relationship she’s had with her mother ever since she left the family home to live with her boyfriend in Spain. Georgie does have her wealthy and successful father’s support, although her job marketing dietary supplements is not quite as fulfilling as she would like her flat is a world away from the miserable room that Nikolai inhabits.

This is anything but a straightforward relationship, Nikolai tells her something of his past, why he moved from Russia to London but Georgie is sure that he is keeping something back from that time and she fears that this secret will tear them apart.

The author gives us a little of everything in this book. Sometimes that means that many of the elements are unresolved or worse simply the story becomes a mis-mash and is rendered dissatisfying; not Blind Side which proved to be a well-rounded and interesting tale putting some of the recent history of terrorism into a wider perspective. Curiously it complemented the non-fiction book I’m reading about the First World War with men fighting a cause they no longer believe in and see sights they would never forget for good measure.

With the story covering secrets and the inevitable lies that these give rise to, trust and it’s flip-side, betrayal as well as guilt, obsession and love, without skimming any of these subjects but rather, introducing the concepts and letting the reader really consider the messages that are being told through what was a gripping tale.
Whilst not the light-read that this genre usually pitches itself at, this complex tale was an immensely satisfying read.

About the author
Jennie is a Londoner descended from a long line of Irish folk. For much of her life she’s been a wandering soul, but these days she lives with her husband and their cuddle-loving, sofa-hogging terrier. As well as from reading and writing novels, she loves poetry. Her poems, published under another name, tend to inhabit the darker, sometimes surreal side of life.

While on an extended trip to Australia, Jennie studied journalism and worked as a freelance print journalist, covering topics from forced marriages to the fate of Aboriginal Australians living on land contaminated by the British nuclear tests.

When not chasing the dog, lazing in the garden with a book or dreaming about setting off on a long train journey with a Kindleful of books, Jennie can be found writing or doing Writing Related Stuff. WRS can include singing and playing the piano (vital for destress) and watching thrillers/spy dramas on TV (research). She’s working on getting her second novel ready for publication, a dark and unsettling psychological thriller.

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Author web & social media links:
blog http://www.jennieensor.com
author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JennieEnsorAuthor
Twitter: @jennie_ensor

Blind Side social media and buy links:
Twitter: #blindsidebook
Amazon UK