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Ok, so I think it’s fair to say that we’ve accepted that Christmas is looming on the horizon, and that in a few weeks it will be acceptable to eat the contents of a selection box for breakfast (yep, I still hang on to that rule from childhood!), but for those out there who are perhaps less organised this can be a time of sheer panic.  What to buy for that impossible person, will they like the gift you’ve randomly chosen for them off the petrol station forecourt – who doesn’t want a bunch of half dead chrysanthemums and some charcoal briquettes?

So I have decided to throw together some ideas for Christmas gifts that I think might be nice, some things that might be “just the thing” for that awkward tricky person in your life….

 

Ninja Book Box

Logo with tag

This is run by a wonderful bookish ninja and their team, truly lovely people who champion small businesses but also share bookish love from independent publishers.  I would highly recommend their boxes which are always filled with wonderful gifts that compliment the theme of the box and have always been great value for money.  If you want to check them out, there are some wonderful reviews of the boxes by some awesome bloggers (Nat over at The Owl on The Bookshelf has just reviewed her November box), Janel over at Keeper of Pages has a review of the November box too and for those who might be interested in a mini box, be sure to read Jo’s review over at Jo’s Book Blog).

Ninja Book Box is a project born out of the love of discovering new things and a passion for supporting things we think are important. There are a growing number of book subscription services around but none which do what we do! We offer a quarterly book box featuring an independently published book chosen from across all genres and paired with gifts made by small businesses. We aim for each box to help subscribers to discover new things and include gifts which are useful as well as being beautiful (we’re always looking to include stuff we’ve never seen in another box! Highlights so far include a grow your own Dragon Fruit kit, Shakespeare playing cards with Shakespearean card games & a gorgeous constellations tea towel amongst many others). We pride ourselves on our attention to detail and the slight quirkiness we include in every box. The books we choose are books we can’t get out of our heads and we want to provide subscribers with an immersive, exciting reading experience. Each box is designed to feel a little like Christmas, with the book and gifts individually wrapped and lots of little extras scattered throughout the box.

If you’re more of a books only kind of person we also run Ninja Book Club, a monthly online book club dedicated to reading independently published books. Books are voted for each month by the readers. We offer a subscription for this too, so you can get a beautifully wrapped mystery parcel through your letterbox each month, but everyone is welcome to join in whether they’re a subscriber or not!

We think it’s really important to celebrate the community we’re part of and support causes that are close to our hearts. For that reason we donate £1 per box sold to our charitable partner, Give a Book, a charity which works with various different literacy projects throughout the country. We also just ran a raffle with prizes donated by indie publishers and small businesses and raised over £450 for them!

If you’re looking for gifts to help break out of reading comfort zones, discover new things and read some really brilliant books, or if supporting small businesses is something that’s important to you, or if you just love quirky mystery gifts, thoughtfully put together with hours of attention given to them and little handmade flourishes here and there then Ninja Book Box is probably the box for you! We also offer free gift wrapping and gift cards with everything in our shop (which also includes indie books, stationery and bookish jewellery), and until Christmas we’re offering a free book with every annual Ninja Book Box subscription and 13 months for the price of 12 for Ninja Book Club.

If you’re more of a books only kind of person we also run Ninja Book Club, a monthly online book club dedicated to reading independently published books. Books are voted for each month by the readers. We offer a subscription for this too, so you can get a beautifully wrapped mystery parcel through your letterbox each month, but everyone is welcome to join in whether they’re a subscriber or not!

If you’re looking for gifts to help break out of reading comfort zones, discover new things and read some really brilliant books, or if supporting small businesses is something that’s important to you, or if you just love quirky mystery gifts, thoughtfully put together with hours of attention given to them and little handmade flourishes here and there then Ninja Book Box is probably the box for you! We also offer free gift wrapping and gift cards with everything in our shop (which also includes indie books, stationery and bookish jewellery), and until Christmas we’re offering a free book with every annual Ninja Book Box subscription and 13 months for the price of 12 for Ninja Book Club.

dav

To find them on twitter follow this link: @NinjaBookBox

 

 

 

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Blackmail Sex Lies - Cover for advertising

** My thanks to Rachel and to Kathryn for my copy of this and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Blackmail, Sex and Lies is a story of deception, scandal, and fractured traditional Victorian social values. It is the tale of a naïve, young woman caught up in a whirlwind romance with a much older man. However, both have personality flaws that result in poor choices, and ultimately lead to a tragic end.

For 160 years, people have believed Madeleine Smith to have been guilty of murder. But was she? Could she have been innocent after all?

This Victorian murder mystery, based on a true story, takes place in Glasgow, Scotland, 1857. It explores the disastrous romance between the vivacious socialite, Madeleine Hamilton Smith, and her working class lover, Pierre Emile L’Angelier.

After a two-year torrid, and forbidden relationship with L’Angelier, that takes place against her parents’ wishes, the situation changes dramatically when William Minnoch enters the scene. This new man in Madeleine’s life is handsome, rich, and of her social class. He is also a man of whom her family approve.

Sadly, insane jealous rages, and threats of blackmail, are suddenly silenced by an untimely death.

My Thoughts & Review:

I’ve always had a soft spot for historical fiction, but usually I’m quite specific of the era that I read, however something about the sound of this book intrigued me and I wanted to know more.

Kathryn McMaster weaves together the scandalous story detailing the love affair and murder trial of socialite Madeleine Hamilton Smith and her working class lover Pierre Emile L’Angelier.  Madeleine and Pierre’s relationship was met with disapproval, a high class and well-to-do young lady should not have been mixing with a working class man, and their affair would not be acknowledged or accepted by society.  Upon realising this, Madeleine is keen to call the whole thing off but Pierre has other ideas and pursues for her two years. 

During this time Madeleine meets the more socially acceptable William Minnoch who is more suitable however this serves to make Pierre jealous.  

Pierre’s regular use of arsenic is well known, and the reader also finds out that Madeleine has purchased arsenic on many occasions, so when Pierre’s body is discovered she is suspected of poisoning him to clear the way for marrying Minnoch and must fight to try clearing her name.

Through the use of letters, readers are privy to a wonderful insight into the characters.  The letters show the affair between Madeleine and Pierre as it develops, but they also show how Madeleine requested Pierre to return the letters so they could not be used as proof of their relationship.  A really great way to give readers an glimpse into the minds of complex characters and it really increases the intrigue surrounding the events within.

An enjoyable read and one that I found had me thinking long after I’d finished the book.  I just can’t decide whether Madeleine was guilty or not….

 

You can buy a copy of Blackmail, Sex and Lies via:

Amazon UK
Amazon US

And as a special treat, this book is available for 99p/c for the duration of the blog tour, so if you want to read it I’d recommend heading over to Amazon now and snapping up a copy before the tour ends on 14th December!!

 

About the Author:

Blackmail Sex Lies - kathry-macmaster-author

Kathryn McMaster is a writer, entrepreneur, wife, mother, and champion of good indie authors. She co-owns the book promotion company One Stop Fiction (www.onestopfiction.com), where readers can sign up to receive news of free and discounted 4 and 5 star reviewed books. She is also a bestselling author of historical murder mysteries set in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Her debut novel, “Who Killed Little Johnny Gill?” was well received. All her novels are based on true stories, and she melds fact with fiction, writing in the creative nonfiction style. She lives on her 30 acre farm in the beautiful Casentino Valley, Italy for 6 months of the year, and during the other half of the year, on the small island of Gozo, Malta.

Social Media Links –

www.kathrynmcmaster.com

https://twitter.com/TrueCrimeNovels

https://www.facebook.com/kathrynmcmaster.author/

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** My thanks to Anne Cater and the folks at Transworld Books for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

When a paragraph in an evening newspaper reveals a decades-old tragedy, most readers barely give it a glance. But for three strangers it’s impossible to ignore.

For one woman, it’s a reminder of the worst thing that ever happened to her.

For another, it reveals the dangerous possibility that her darkest secret is about to be discovered.

And for the third, a journalist, it’s the first clue in a hunt to uncover the truth.

The Child’s story will be told.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

The Child is the second novel by Fiona Barton, and features her character Kate Waters.  Barton takes her readers on a chilling journey through complex themes of mental health issues and abuse with dignity and sensitivity whilst ensuring that her wonderful writing wows readers.

Told through four perspectives, this is a story of four women and how they are affected by  the discovery of a newborn baby’s body .  The secrets that are unearthed and the impact they have on family dynamics make for some intense reading that will have readers struggling to put this book down.
As I mentioned above, there are some themes woven into the plot that could make for difficult reading, but I do believe that the author has done a good job in ensuring that they add to the story without becoming sensationalised.
The cleverness of the writing means that readers are kept guessing with the twists and red herrings dotted around.

Perhaps it’s because she was my namesake, but I really loved journalist Kate.  Her drive to investigate and find out the truth was impressive and certainly could show a few fictional detectives a thing or two!  Her integrity makes her such a wonderful character, despite wanting to chase down a story she is always careful to never reveal her informants information.  All of the characters in this book felt realistic and well thought out, their backstories were intriguing and I found that the more I read the more invested in them I became.

The build up in the pace of this book is perfect, slowly building up and drawing you in.  Hinting at mystery and suspense before the conclusion that will leave readers surprised and full of emotion!  I loved the short chapters that were perfectly baited, it kept me hooked and needing to read “just one more chapter” before bedtime.

A cleverly complex thriller that will test the strength of your heart!

You can buy a copy of The Child via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

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Hello and welcome to the first stop on my blog today (yes, I have two treats to share with you today, well it’s almost Christmas and I decided that it was only fair to share some fun with you guys!  I’m not sharing the advent chocolates, so instead you can have two bookish treats today instead!).

Today I have the honour of sharing an extract from GJ Minett’s latest novel.  For those not aware, I am a huge fan of Graham’s writing, his first novel The Hidden Legacy was published in 2015, and was one of my favourite reads that year!  This was followed by Lie in Wait in 2016 (another brilliant book!), so I was delighted to hear that he had been hard at work plotting away for Anything For Her and was honoured to be asked to be part of the blog tour to help promote this book!

Anything For Her

Extract:

She’s just about filled her hand basket and needs to get back to him so that she can empty it into the trolley and check to see what else they need. It must be getting on for ten minutes since she left them together. That’s going to have to be enough. So she walks back towards where she last saw them and as she does so she sees Aimi in one of the checkout queues. She’s taking items from her trolley and placing them on the conveyor belt. At first Mia thinks maybe she can slip past unnoticed but as Aimi reaches in for the final item she looks up and smiles. Mouths the word hello. Waves.

Mia can’t quite bring herself to blank her entirely, so she offers a grudging nod and walks off to find her brother.

Not while I’m around, she thinks to herself.

*

They were back in the kitchen, unloading all the shopping, before Mia got around to it.

‘Was that Aimi I saw you with earlier?’ she asked, reaching up to put the biscuits in the overhead cupboard, her voice light and airy, her back turned to him so that he couldn’t see the disingenuous expression on her face.

‘Yes.’

He smiled to himself. Most people would have said something right away but not Mia. He knew she’d seen Aimi – she couldn’t have been more than thirty feet away when she turned around abruptly and walked off. But she didn’t say anything when she came back to find him or while they finished their shopping. She swapped banalities with the woman at the checkout and joked with the taxi driver who helped to load all the bags into the boot, and during the journey home she talked about anything but Aimi.

But he wasn’t fooled for one minute. Assaults from Mia, he’d learnt over the years, were never full-frontal. She preferred to ease her way into difficult conversations. She’d pick her moment and sidle into it the way someone with no sense of rhythm takes to the dance floor. He could read her like a book but that of course worked both ways, which meant there was no point in trying to lie to her. Far better just to keep the answers as short and vague as possible and hope the uncomfortable bits slipped through the cracks.

‘I don’t see much of her nowadays,’ Mia said. ‘How is she?’

Nowadays. Pick out the sub-text . . . ‘now that she’s married.’

‘She’s OK.’

‘She looks well.’

‘Yes.’

‘Pass me the dishwasher tablets, will you? I think they’re . . .’

‘Got them.’

There was a long pause. He waited, knowing there was no point in trying to anticipate where the conversation would go next, which angle she would choose – but no way was it over just yet. They’d all but finished packing the shopping away before she picked it up again.

Now, doesn’t’ that make you want to read on!?  I know I can’t wait to find out where this book goes and will be reading my copy asap!

You can buy a copy of Anything For Her via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

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Breaking Bones

 

** My thanks to Hannah at Endeavour Press for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

The streets of Preston are alive with music and banter. But nothing can drown out the sound of breaking bones
Inseparable since childhood and feared by their community, Tony, Eddie and Frankie are beyond the reach of justice. The brutal gang, The Three Dogs, are a law unto themselves.
Detective Jim Hacker has watched The Dogs grow from thuggish youths to psychotic criminals. He seems to be the only one who wants to see their empire fall.
Meanwhile Jamie Strange, a young Royal Marine, finds himself embroiled in the lives of The Three Dogs when his girlfriend, Laurie Holland, cuts off their engagement… to be with the most dangerous of The Dogs: Frankie Verdi.
Jamie vows to save Laurie, before Frankie damns them both.
Every dog will have its day…
This gritty, addictive crime story fizzes with the energy of the eighties. 
Breaking Bones will appeal to fans of Martina Cole, Roberta Kray and Stephen Leather.

My Thoughts & Review:

The 1980s setting of this book intrigued me enough to pick this one up, having been a child of the 80s I’m always interested to see how the decade translates onto the pages of a book, and I was pleasantly surprised with Breaking Bones.  The setting felt authentic (as far as my acquired knowledge would permit), the fashions and music of the time definitely felt authentic that’s for sure!

In Breaking Bones, the reader watches the rise of three lads to the dizzy heights of criminal kingship through the eyes of Detective Jim Hacker, the three lads in question, “The Three Dogs”; Frankie, Eddie and Tony were childhood friends.  All three have an unhealthy fascination with violence and are quick to leap to violence in any situation.  Detective Hacker is a fantastic narrator, his obsession with the trio feels so real and dangerous that readers cannot help but become somewhat involved with it too.  Like any detective, his gut instinct tells him that Frankie, Eddie and Tony are responsible for more crimes than the police can prove, but to get the proof that’s needed he will have to sit and wait for them to mess up.

Jamie Strange finds that the tentacles of The Three Dogs have a way of creeping into his life when his fiancée Lauren leaves him for Frankie.  Instead of disliking Lauren for her actions, I ended up feeling sympathy towards her.  She’s a well written character that readers will become invested in.

The plot is dark and gritty, is has elements of brutality which add to the story line, and over all it’s a well paced novel.  The gangland element combined with the crime thriller makes this an enjoyable read and one that I think would appeal to fans of crime novels.

You can buy a copy of Breaking Bones via:

Amazon UK

 

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Breaking_Bones FINAL

Hello and welcome to my stop on the 12 Days of Clink Street Christmas!  I am delighted to share a review of Dating Daisy by Daisy_Mae224 with you today.


Description:

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What do you do when you’re a newly divorced 52 year old mother, keen for a second chance of romance? Why internet dating of course!
Daisy Mae_224 embarks on the internet dating process with trepidation. Having not been on the dating scene for nearly 30 years, and with fairly rudimentary computer skills, she finds herself embroiled in a series of haphazard and hilarious situations. Daisy keeps a diary of her internet dating life and reveals detail by detail, the ups and downs of her midlife dating extravaganza. Soon after starting out, Daisy realises her true mission. With no past experience and no-one/nothing to guide her, she needs to produce – Internet Dating lessons.

Read on to find out about PLONKERS, muppets and MAWDs, and a whole host of amusing anecdotes, tips and ideas. Working by day as a Sexual Health doctor, the story as it unfolds contains accounts of Daisy’s clinical experiences with patients in the Sexual Health clinic.
She also reflects on her past life with Voldemort (the dreadful ex-husband). With advice and encouragement from Imogen, her 17 year old daughter, her surrogate parents known as the Amigos, with a big house and swanky swimming pool, her friend Pinkie and from Jeannie, her nonagenarian friend from the Nursing Home, Daisy resiliently persists in her quest to find a long term partner.

This is a heartfelt story that will ring bells with anyone who has ended a long term relationship and now wants to find somebody new. It is humorously written, full of emails, poems, limericks, and even a recipe! Daisy can’t resist her pages of advice on topics like “Kissing” and “Anti-Snoring.” It is a unique and highly amusing book, which will make you laugh out loud! So read on and se;e. Will Dating Daisy find her “prairie vole?” Or will the whole process end in disaster?

My Thoughts & Review:

Dating Daisy was just the funny sort of read I needed to shake up my reading list recently.  The book is told in somewhat of a diary fashion and follows Daisy who is a sexual health doctor.  In this she shares some of the stories about her patients, as well as giving a look into her forays into the world of internet dating.

The book itself is broken into short and snappy chapters with Daisy regaling readers with tales from her work which are embarrassing, daft and strange at times.   I did initially wonder how these would fit in with the story but somehow they do work well along side the story and once I was used to the style of writing I found it easy to go with the flow.

I think that this may appeal to readers who are looking for a quick read and something a little different.  It’s the sort of book you might recommend to a friend to give them a wee giggle or perhaps if they’re considering internet dating.
Whilst I found it an easy and entertaining read, I can’t say that it stuck in my head too much after I finished it, perhaps I was looking for a more weighty read, but that doens’t take away from the fact that I laughed out loud several times whilst reading this and did appreciate the dry humour of the author.

You can buy copy of Dating Daisy via:

Amazon UK

 

 

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Hello and welcome along to another post to celebrate indie publishing, which today sees The Quiet Knitter joining in the blog tour for Andrew Barrett’s The End of Lies published by Bloodhound Books.


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**  My thanks to Sarah at Bloodhound Books for my copy of this and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

My name is Becky. I arrived home to find my husband, Chris, stabbed to death and a gang of men ransacking our house.
Turns out that Chris has something that belongs to them. And if I want to stay alive, I have to find it and return it. They have given me seven days. And a beating.
There is nowhere to hide and no time left to look. So I will stand my ground as the deadline approaches. All I have is a head full of lies and a very bad plan.
This is my story.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Wow!  From the moment I started reading this book I didn’t want to put it down!  It’s dark and gripping and full of so much intrigue that readers cannot help but become hooked from the first chapter.

Told from the perspective of Becky, who has just discovered the body of her husband Chris,  stabbed to death on the living room floor.  She takes on a persona that I have to admit had be swaying between wondering if she had a death wish, or was merely panic taking over.  She has to “it” over to the gang that have murdered her husband, she agrees, not knowing what “it” is or where to find “it”.
From the narrative it is clear that these are not people to mess with, so goodness knows why Becky decides to take them on and try to get the better of them.  See what I mean about wondering what was going through her head?
She’s quite a strong character, and finding your partner’s murdered body would be enough to make the strongest people crumple into a heap but not Becky, the situation demands she gets her act together to save her neck.

By giving Becky a week to hand over whatever it is the gang are looking for, the author ensures that the pace of this book remains brisk and the plot thrilling.  This is an “edge of your seat” sort of read, the sort that I was glad to be reading on my kindle so I didn’t have to waste time fumbling with pages to find out what was coming.

The writing is clever, its punchy and it makes for a thrilling read.  The plot is gritty and exciting, the characters are so well crafted that they feel real, the fear and intimidation, the panic, the guilt, it’s all so wonderfully written that you find yourself drawn into the book .
Andrew Barrett is an author you will want to add to your list of favoured authors based on this book alone.

You can buy a copy of End of Lies via Amazon UK

 

About the Author:

Andrew Barrett has enjoyed variety in his professional life, from engine-builder to farmer, from Oilfield Service Technician in Kuwait, to his current role of Senior CSI in Yorkshire.

He’s been a CSI since 1996, and has worked on all scene types from terrorism to murder, suicide to rape, drugs manufacture to bomb scenes. One way or another, Andrew’s life revolves around crime.

In 1997 he finished his first crime thriller, A Long Time Dead, and it’s still a readers’ favourite today, some 120,000 copies later, topping the Amazon charts several times. Two more books featuring SOCO Roger Conniston completed the trilogy.

Today, Andrew is still producing high-quality, authentic crime thrillers with a forensic flavour that attract attention from readers worldwide. He’s also attracted attention from the Yorkshire media, having been featured in the Yorkshire Post, and twice interviewed on BBC Radio Leeds.

He’s best known for his lead character, CSI Eddie Collins, and the acerbic way in which he roots out criminals and administers justice. Eddie’s series is four books and two short stories in length, and there’s still more to come.

Andrew is a proud Yorkshireman and sets all of his novels there, using his home city of Leeds as another major, and complementary, character in each of the stories.

You can find out more about him and his writing at Andrew-barrett.co.uk

Social Media Links:

Contact: andrew@andrewbarrett.co.uk

Website: http://www.andrewbarrett.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndrewBarrettUK

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AndrewBarrett.author

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andrewbarrettauthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andrewbarrettauthor

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BLOG TOUR (2)

 

Creating Perfection

Delicately balancing the voice of the author with the needs of the reader

THE CHLOE DOUGLAS BLOG

A LIFESTYLE BLOG WITH PLENTY OF BOOK REVIEWS

Books and Wine Gums

Reviews of all-sorts (*but not liquorice-based confections)

The Pioneer Woman

Plowing through Life in the Country...One Calf Nut at a Time

LIVE AND DEADLY

(Mostly) Fiction reviews with a crime slant

Clues and Reviews

A Blog For Book Lovers by A Book Lover!

Secret Library Blog

Books, Books, Books

the orang-utan librarian

welcome to the virtual library

TheCraftyLass

TheCraftyLass Goes Postal : sharing my love of all things bookish, crafty, geeky, cooking & snail mail

Cheryl M-M's Book Blog

What can I say? I just love books. Indie/self/trad published...I don't give two monkeys. My reviews are always my subjective and honest opinion. Nothing more and nothing less.

IFINDOUBTREAD

Don't Get Left On The Shelf

mybookishblogspot

Just books, more books and some other stuff too

booksaremycwtches

Reading takes me to other worlds. Other times and other places.

Sarah's Vignettes

Ramblings about books and life

bookboodle

Books & Bakes