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Archive for April, 2017

Hello and happy Friday!  And seeing as it’s Friday, that means its time to share another post to celebrate Indie Publishing, this time it’s Elliott & Thompson in the spotlight!   Today I am honoured to share the fantastic “Sweet, Wild Note: What We Hear When the Birds Sing” by Richard Smyth.


Description:

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Birdsong is woven into our culture, our emotions, our landscape; it is the soundtrack to our world. We have tried to capture this fleeting, ephemeral beauty, and the feelings it inspires, for millennia.

In this fascinating account, Richard Smyth asks what it is about birdsong that we so love. Exploring the myriad ways in which it has influenced literature, music, science and our very ideas of what it means to be British, Smyth’s nuanced investigation shows that what we hear says as much about us, our dreams and desires, as it does about the birds and their songs.

At a time when our birdsong is growing quieter, with fewer voices, more thinly spread, A Sweet, Wild Note is a celebration of the complex relationships between birds, people and the land; it is also a passionate call to arms lest our trees and hedgerows fall silent.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

The very first thing that grabbed me about this book, and indeed with any of Elliott and Thompson’s publications is the exquisite cover design.  This is a beautifully eye catching cover that really sparks the imagination of the reader and gives an insight into the wonders that are housed inside.

Living in a rural setting I am often surprised by the different bird sounds that I hear, many I’ve come recognise over the years but I am not a birdwatcher or birder, I can no more tell you a chaffinch from a blackbird.  However, I find the sound of bird song soothing and will admit that I have sometimes wondered just what they are communicating to other birds in the vicinity, whether they are merely singing because the sun in shining etc.

Richard Smyth takes the reader on an investigation through both literary and musical culture, quoting numerous sources to try and explain the answers to a multitude of questions surrounding bird song.  Discussing the works of some of the great poets and their descriptions of bird song, as well as looking at how musicians try to imitate the sounds using instruments and how the sound is being included in music.   This coupled with the lovely introduction primed with humour and warmth where Symth explains the reasons for writing this book.

Through his book, Smyth reminds the reader that birdsong should be appreciated for what it is and is keen to point out the experience of it “the way a bright bird song on a lonely street can lift our mood, or leaven our loneliness, or bring a little bit of countryside into the brick canyons and concrete precincts of the N5.”  And he is right, sometimes hearing the tweeting/cheeping/warble of a bird can lift your mood,

The writing is fantastic, each chapter gives great insight as well as provides entertainment and where relevant sources quoted to allow readers to go off and explore further.  There is also a helpful “further reading” section at the back of the book where Smyth gives a brief explanation of the resources linked to the separate chapters of the book.

For me, “Celebrating Indie Publishing” is about discovering new things; new books, new authors, new information and I can happily say that this book has done that.  Whilst I may not be about to head out birdwatching or learn the difference between a pigeon and a sparrow, I appreciate the sounds of birds more after reading this book.  I certainly look out for the familiar chirps, cheeps and songs whilst I am out and am more aware that they are there.

You can buy a copy of A Sweet, Wild Note: What We Hear When the Birds Sing via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

My thanks to Elliott & Thompson, especially Alison Menzies for sending me a copy of this wonderful book.

About the Author:

Richard Smyth writes about nature, history, books, philosophy, art, sport and anything else that occurs to him. His latest book, ‘A Sweet Wild Note: What We Hear When The Birds Sing’, is an acclaimed cultural history of birdsong.

Richard’s first book, ‘Bum Fodder: An Illustrated History Of Toilet Paper’, was featured on BBC Radio 4 and on national radio in Ireland and Australia; his books on English history have been decribed as “Horrible Histories for grown-ups”.

His first novel, ‘Wild Ink’, was published in 2014, and his prize-winning short stories have appeared in magazines including Structo, The Lonely Crowd, The Fiction Desk, The Stockholm Review, Riptide, Litro, The Stinging Fly, Vintage Script and Firewords Quarterly.

When he is not writing books, he works as a journalist, compiles crosswords, draws cartoons, wastes time on Twitter, and sets questions for the iconic BBC quiz show ‘Mastermind’ (he was a finalist on the show in 2009).

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If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page

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Published: 23 March 2017

Copy provided by Urbane Publications & Netgalley

 

Description:

Ireland’s gone bust, and with it Aisling Finn’s life.

She flees austerity for adventure in the desert.  But the Arabia she finds is not that of her dreams.  Everyone is chasing a fast buck, a fast woman and another G&T.  Expats and locals alike prickle with paranoia.
Debonair fixer, Brian Rothmann, charms Aisling with champagne brunches and nights at Bedouin camps.  But is Brian a hero or a desperate expat prepared to go to any lengths to get what he wants?  Is this Aisling?  Or is he using her as bait?
Her only hope is Hisham, a local activist.  But where do his loyalties lie?  Aisling faces severe peril when the sleazy expat and blood-lusting desert worlds collide, as the Arab Spring erupts. 

She has to ask, whom can she trust?  Can she trust her instincts?  Humanity blisters in this haunting, lyrical thriller about trust and treachery.

My Thoughts & Review:

For once a book has left me speechless, I finished reading “Electric Souk” over a week ago and have struggled to put into words just how brilliant this book is.  Even then I don’t think that brilliant is a word that does this book justice.
I first heard about this book when I featured the lovely Rose McGinty over on my “Celebrating Indie Publishing” post at the beginning of March and was so intrigued by the sound of her book I knew I needed to read it as soon as I could.

The reader is plunged into a tale of an adventure almost instantly when they encounter Aisling heading to the Gulf to start a new job and a new life.  But things aren’t as easy as she hopes, life doesn’t run as smoothly in the desert and danger lurks in the shadows.

The reader is submersed in such authentic and realistic surroundings, the details that Rose McGinty pours into her writing are absolutely amazing.  I felt that I could smell the fragrances, feel the intensity of heat, taste the sand that surrounded Aisling.  I also found the cultural details fascinating to read, the customs and traditions that are observed there were new to me and so I felt that I could take some knowledge from this book.  McGinty writes with such a flair that it is evident that she has spent a lot of time in the Middle East and understands the culture and lifestyle.

I particularly enjoyed the thriller element to this tale, the clever way that the tension was wound tighter and tighter meant that my attention was held fast.  Aisling is in a difficult position, there are people who would manipulate her at any opportunity for minimal gain, even if it were to make another person look bad.  She is also in a dangerous position as she can’t really be sure who is safe to trust.  The friendships she forms are interesting, Angie the lively Liverpudlian is one character that made me laugh and smile.  Moazah on the other hand, oh how I felt so much frustration towards this character.  The levels of manipulation and greed that this character would stoop to in order to further her own agenda were shocking.
Brian Rothmann was a character I struggled to work out initially, he seemed almost “too good to be true”, appearing to be almost too saccharine.

Trust and the lack thereof is the overarching theme in this book, and as the tension rises so too does the creeping paranoia.

For a debut novel I am considerably impressed, Rose McGinty writes with an ease that hints towards years spent writing.  Not only does she bring settings alive, but she creates characters who develop fantastically throughout the novel, creates an atmosphere that is serene yet dangerous and manages to give her readers something that shocks, entertains and delights.

A book I would absolutely recommend to others, and I can already see myself reading it again before the year is out!  It’s definitely one that will be on my list of “Top Indie Books for 2017!”

You can buy a copy of “Electric Souk” directly from the publisher here or via Amazon | Wordery

About the Author:

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Rose McGinty was born with itchy feet, which she has yet to decide is a blessing or a curse.  Certainly, surviving Hurricane Sandy, an earthquake, a spider bite, jumping 192 metres off the Sky Tower in Auckland, and nearly being arrested for inadvertently smuggling a rocket in Vietnam, make her wonder about locking up her passport.  But then, it was her adventures in the Middle East that gave her the itchy fingers to write.

Rose lives in Kent, where as well as enjoying writing short stories, flash fiction and poetry, she also paints.  She works in community health services and has worked overseas in Ireland, Canada, Sweden and the Middle East.  She completed the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course, under the guidance of Richard Skinner, in 2015.  Electric Souk is her debut novel and Rose says of her story, ‘The parts of the story that are true, I probably wish were not; while the parts that are not, I probably wish were true.’

If you’d like to know more about Rose and her books you can check out her  website or follow her on Twitter @rosemcginty

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Published: 12 April 2017

 

Description:

He’s your perfect date. You’re his next victim.

When the tortured body of a young woman is found in a dumpster, her eyes swollen shut and her clothes soaked with blood, Detective Erika Foster is one of the first at the crime scene. The trouble is, this time, it’s not her case.

While she fights to secure her place on the investigation team, Erika can’t help but get involved and quickly finds a link to the unsolved murder of a woman four months earlier. Dumped in a similar location, both women have identical wounds – a fatal incision to their femoral artery.

Stalking his victims online, the killer is preying on young pretty women using a fake identity. How will Erika catch a murderer who doesn’t seem to exist?

Then another girl is abducted while waiting for a date. Erika and her team must get to her before she becomes another dead victim, and, come face to face with a terrifyingly sadistic individual.

Gripping, tense and impossible to put down, Last Breath will have you on the edge of your seat, racing to the final dramatic page.

My Thoughts & Review:

There are a few authors out there that when a new book is announced I will pre order unquestioningly and Robert Bryndza is one of them.  His Erika Foster series has gone from strength to strength since the publication of “The Girl In The Ice” in February 2016 and now with the arrival of the fourth instalment fans are in for a well timed treat.

“Last Breath” highlights the dangers of social media to readers from the perspective of a killer, how one killer in particular stalks his victims, befriends them and lures them in before savagely beating and murdering them.  Erika arrives at a crime scene almost as if by chance, unfortunately for her she’s no longer on the Murder Investigation Team and has no authority to be there.  But knowing our plucky protagonist as well as we do, readers can be assured she will not let this stop her finding the killer and putting a stop to his spree.  Erika makes connections that others missed, and earns the attention of superiors to explain her thoughts and before long she’s closing in on the killer.

It’s ironic that this book is titled “Last Breath”, reading this book the reader is often not aware they are holding their breath, frantically turning pages as the plot weaves around red herrings, cleverly manipulating their mind  as they try to guess ahead.  It’s the sort of book that you want to devour in one sitting, it’s too good to put down.  The characters crackle with energy and the chemistry between them is fantastic to read.  Erika Foster is a special character, and for fans that have followed the series and watched her develop are rewarded with some wonderful scenes in this book.  Equally, the detectives that Foster works with are superb, the dynamic in the team is laugh out loud funny at times, the camaraderie that exists between them feels authentic.
I was so glad to see that Dr Isaac Strong makes an appearance in this book, he’s one of my absolute favourite characters and the relationship between Strong and Foster is so well crafted.

And the killer, well that’s a character that’s so repugnant and makes your skin crawl.  The lengths that he will go to to secure his victim make for compelling reading, relying on vanity or weaknesses for them to fall for his tricks.  As much as I  disliked this character, I  liked how strongly the writing made me feel towards him, a sign of a skilled writer.

A breathtaking addition to the series that I would thoroughly recommend!

You can buy a copy of “Last Breath” via Amazon here

Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book to read and review.

 

About the Author:

Robert Bryndza is the author of the international #1 bestseller The Girl in the Ice. The Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller is the first book in the Detective Erika Foster series.

The Night Stalker, and Dark Water are the second and third books in the series, and you can now pre-order the fourth, Last Breath which will be published on April 12th 2017.

Robert’s books have sold over 1.7 million copies and have been translated into 26 languages.

In addition to writing crime fiction, Robert has published a bestselling series of romantic comedy novels. He is British and lives in Slovakia.

You can find out more about the author at www.robertbryndza.com and on Twitter @RobertBryndza

Sign up to Robert Bryndza‘s New Release Mailing List here: http://eepurl.com/UITxz

 

 

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Published: 4 April 2017

 

Description:

Carl Logan dedicated nearly twenty years of his life to the Joint Intelligence Agency. Now living in a secret location, under the new identify of James Ryker, he wants nothing more than to be left alone, the chance to start a new life away from chaos, violence, destruction and deceit.

It’s not long, however, before Ryker’s short-lived idyll is destroyed when he is tracked down by Peter Winter, his ex-boss at the JIA. Winter brings with him news of the murder of a woman in Spain, Kim Walker, whose fingerprints match those of one of Ryker’s former adversaries who’s been missing presumed dead for years – an infamous female assassin known as the Red Cobra.

A cyberattack at the JIA led to the Red Cobra’s profile being compromised, and Winter believes JIA agents may now be at risk too, Ryker included. But Ryker knew the elusive Red Cobra better than anyone, and when he sees the grisly pictures of Kim Walker’s corpse, he has news for Winter – she isn’t the assassin at all …

So just who is the mystery dead woman? And where is the real Red Cobra?

The Red Cobra is a fast-paced thriller filled with twists and turns and intrigue that will appeal to readers of big-hitting thrillers by the likes of Lee Child and David Baldacci, and with echoes in its plotting and breadth of the globe-trotting spy thriller I Am Pilgrim.

My Thoughts & Review:

“Red Cobra” is the first book by Rob Sinclair that I have read, but I can happily say that it won’t be the last!  This is actually the first in the follow on from the Enemy series that features Carl Logan.  ‘Carl Logan’ is assumed dead, and James Ryker has risen from the ashes like the proverbial phoenix.  Ryker believing he can cut ties to his old life begins again, but is soon tracked down by his former boss and is once again embroiled in the world of secret agents.  His mission, to kill The Red Cobra.

I absolutely love spy and action thrillers, and this book deserves it’s place next to my Lee Child collection.  This was a brilliantly fast paced read, and one I raced through.
The plotting was excellent, the characters were brought to life by the fantastic writing.  Having not read any of the previous books to feature James Ryker (Carl Logan), I was pleasantly surprised how quickly I trusted this character and liked him.  The Red Cobra, well there’s a character that has depth and a backstory.  Her name was enough to cause our protagonist concern when he initially heard it, and rightly so.  She is strong and confident, the sort of female character that audiences are screaming out for.

Skilled writing allows readers to form clear images in their minds of both settings and characters and at times I felt that this played out more like a film in my head as opposed to reading a book – perhaps this book would lend itself well to being on the big screen?

Whilst there is quite a bit of violence in this, I felt that it was well written and remained integral to the storyline without becoming gratuitous.

A brilliant start to a thrilling new series that I will be following eagerly!

You can buy a copy of “The Red Cobra” via Amazon here

My thanks to Bloodhound Books and Rob Sinclair for the opportunity to read this book.

About the Author:

Rob is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling Enemy series of espionage thrillers featuring embattled agent Carl Logan. Together the explosive series (comprising Dance with the Enemy, Rise of the Enemy and Hunt for the Enemy) has now sold more than 150,000 copies worldwide. His work has been praised for its relentless pace, multiple twists and breathtaking action.

Although Rob has more Logan books in the pipeline, his upcoming release with Bloodhound Books marks a slight change in direction, moving away from pure action thrills to psychological suspense (albeit still with a healthy dose of action!). 

Rob began writing in 2009 following a promise to his wife, an avid reader, that he could pen a ‘can’t put down’ thriller. He worked for nearly 13 years for a global accounting firm after graduating from The University of Nottingham in 2002, specialising in forensic fraud investigations at both national and international levels. Rob now writes full time.

Rob’s website is www.robsinclairauthor.com and he can be followed on twitter at @RSinclairAuthor

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Published: 11 April 2017

Copy provided by Bloodhound Books

Description:

DCI Bennett faces the most harrowing case of his career. A psychopath, who escaped capture, is hell bent on revenge and executes a series of events that will not only impact on Bennett physically, but will have emotional and professional consequences.         

A body is found with its fingers amputated, then an investigative journalist, embroiled in the pornography and drugs scene, is murdered.

Bennett’s team is faced with some baffling evidence. Hatpins and bicycle spokes become pivotal to the inquiry but the police struggle to connect the evidence.

It is only when a Detective Sergeant from the team is kidnapped that Bennett realises that he is the true target.

My Thoughts & Review:

I have to admit that this is actually the first book by Malcolm Hollingdrake that I’ve read, there are several on my kindle eagerly waiting to be read but I’ve not managed to get to them yet, so starting this book I had no idea what I was letting myself in for.  But sometimes that’s a good thing, going into a book with no preconceived notions about the writer, their characters etc.

“Game Point” is actually book four in the series to feature DCI Bennett, but I found that I could follow this without having read the previous books.  I enjoyed the way the plot pulled me in and kept me reading on, this was one of those books that when you read it the rest of the world fades to background noise.  This was a fast paced read, so incredibly gripping, and very well written.  The characters were interesting and felt well developed, each of Bennett’s team actively participating in the investigation when one of their own was kidnapped.
I seem to have developed a soft spot for Bennett, there’s something loveable about him that makes him endearing to readers.

The case that the team work on is fantastic, an escaped psychopath who is fixated on revenge sets in motion a chain of events that has far reaching consequences for Bennett, both professionally and personally.
It’s quite hard to not give spoilers for this book, there are so many parts I want to point out so that I can rave about them and say how well they were written etc. but that’s not fair for other readers.

I think based on this book I’ll be going back to the previous three and catching up with DCI Bennett, the style of writing appealed to me, the plotting was superb and the characters were brilliant!

You can buy a copy of “Game Point” via Amazon here.

My thanks to Bloodhound Books for the opportunity to read this book and participate in the blog tour.

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Published: 6 April 2017

Copy provided by Bonnier Zaffre & Netgalley

Description:

My Thoughts & Review:

Having loved “Little Bones” I was absolutely frantic to find out when book two would be published and thankfully the good folks at Bonnier Zaffre were on hand with that information as well as a review copy of “In Deep Water”.

The return of my favourite member of an Garda Síochána and her superior comes in the form of a very personal case.  Following on from the explosive events of “Little Bones” Cathy Connolly is fighting fit, she’s back at work and has returned to her beloved training in the gym, but the no show of her training partner and best friend is cause for concern that soon spirals into a full blown police investigation that will have far reaching consequences for many. 

With this case being of such a personal nature, this allows Sam Blake the opportunity to give readers a wonderfully in-depth look at Cathy.  The exploration of this character builds upon the knowledge from the first book, and so the development means that readers see a new side to this character.  This coupled with the way in which her PTSD is detailed really show a vulnerable side of her, and gives insight into the importance of relationships for her.  The stability that O‘Rourke brings to their relationship is key to her survival, almost like her guardian angel…albeit one that’s pleasing on the eye.  This book did nothing to dampen my crush on this fictional character…..
The importance of her relationship with Sarah Jane is also vital, the cornerstone of their friendship is another stabilising factor in her life and the motivation that Cathy needs to track Sarah Jane down.

A complex and rich plot masterfully weaves together from several separate strands throughout this novel, culminating in quite possibly one of the best thrillers I’ve read this year.  The suspenseful narrative drives the reader to keep reading (even if it means they end up burning the supper), and with so many clever deceptions in plain sight it’s hard not to feel a “facepalm” moment when certain revelations are uncovered, I certainly found that I was so wrapped up enjoying the thrilling tale that I didn’t guess what was coming.

Whilst this book can be read as a stand alone, there is ample detail given to keep readers informed about what has happened previously as well as give readers a good grasp of characters and their relationships, I think this is a series that should be read and enjoyed from the start where possible.  Sam Blake has given fans of the series a treat with this latest instalment, has definitively answered certain points that may have seemed unanswered at the end of book one, and has opened up some fantastic options for where Cathy Connolly could go next.

You can buy a copy of “In Deep Water” via Amazon here or via Wordery here

 

About the Author:

Sam Blake is a pseudonym for Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, the founder of The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and the hugely popular national writing resources website Writing.ie. She is Ireland’s leading literary scout who has assisted many award winning and bestselling authors to publication. Vanessa has been writing fiction since her husband set sail across the Atlantic for eight weeks and she had an idea for a book.

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I am delighted to welcome you along to my stop on the blog tour for “Accidental Damage” by Alice May and share with you a fab insight into the author and where the inspiration came from for her book.

Description:

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If you think the normal school run on a Monday is entertaining you should try doing it from a tent in your back garden surrounded by the jumbled up contents of your entire home. It is vastly more diverting. Our heroine has survived the sudden collapse of her home – or has she? Certain events two and a half years ago led her to deliberately destroy an important piece of herself, hiding away all remaining evidence that it ever existed. What happens when she decides to go looking for it? Does she really deserve to be whole again? Inspired by a true story, this is an account of one woman’s secret guilt and her journey in search of forgiveness!

 

For the chance to win an ebook copy of “Accidental Damage” follow this link!

You can buy a copy of “Accidental Damage” via Amazon here

 


Inspiration:

‘Accidental Damage – Tales from the house that sat down!’ by Alice May

‘Accidental Damage’ was inspired by a real life event. My husband, four children and I spent a year living in our garden after part of our house fell down. In spite of the horrible circumstances it was a time of massive positivity and growth for the whole family. Once we had accepted that we couldn’t stay in our house and couldn’t really go anywhere else we just had to knuckle down and get on with life.

So many funny and ridiculous things happened to us on our journey to rebuild our home it made a fabulous idea on which to base my first fictional novel.

 

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Author Spotlight:

I was born in Sheffield, one of four siblings, and brought up in South Wales. At the age of six I saw my grandmother’s paintings on display and was inspired to learn to paint and my parents bought me a ‘how-to-draw’ book every birthday and Christmas from that moment onwards.

After scraping together a random selection of GCSEs and A-levels at school I went to university to study Environmental Science. Once there I also attended art classes in the evening. Mainly because I couldn’t believe there would actually be ‘life’ models there and I wanted to check if it was true! It was!! After university, I did a bit of travelling before settling down on the Dorset/Hampshire border to juggle work, family and painting.

I have always been an avid reader and dreamed of writing a novel one day, but I never actually thought I would really achieve this! It is really fun that I can use my own artwork on the covers for my books too. It makes me feel that the creative process is entirely mine.

At the moment, I am reviewing the first draft of my second novel, the sequel to ‘Accidental Damage – Tales from the house that sat down’, and I have written and illustrated a children’s book which is currently at the design layout stage. Added to that, my third fictional novel is mapped out on paper ready to start writing once the second has been published.

It’s been an incredible journey and I can’t help but look back and wonder how I got here.


A huge thank you to Alice for joining me today and sharing a little more about here and where the idea came from for her novel.

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for reviews, guest posts, extracts and much more exciting posts!  There will also be other opportunities to win an ebook of “Accidental  Damage” so keep your eyes peeled!

Accidental Damage Tour Banner

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Hello and happy Friday!  Welcome along to another post to “Celebrate Indie Publishing” and this week I’m excited to share a review of “The Scarlet Coven” by David Stuart Davis and shine the spotlight firmly into the eyes of James Silvester to see if I can make him squirm with my questions!


Book Feature:

Published: 20 April 2017

Description:

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New York 1936. Leading New York detective Simon Finch has received an unexpected inheritance and left the force to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. But a true detective is never far from finding trouble…or trouble finding him… A stranger approaches Finch in the Algonquin Hotel, asking him to help find his sister who has disappeared. When he later visits the man’s hotel room he discovers that he has been murdered – stabbed with a dagger decorated with strange markings. As Finch investigates further he discovers recently acquitted crime boss Fats Molloy is mixed up with the man’s murder and the missing sister. The trail leads him to an occult bookshop …has the missing woman been kidnapped by a group of Satanists, The Scarlet Coven? Joining forces with a black private eye, Patrick Murphy, who is also investigating the cult, they endure a series of wild adventures and close calls with demonic forces as they seek the truth about the mysterious leader of the Coven…and the nefarious plans for death and mayhem…

My Thoughts & Review:

From the moment I started reading this book I knew I was onto something good, the opening chapter piqued my interest and I needed to keep reading.  Simon Finch was a character that I wanted to know more about, what was going to happen in the court case he was part of, who was the strange man that approached him in the Algonquin Hotel,  and who murders the man just hours after speaking to Finch?

As a fan of crime thrillers this book was a perfect read for me, the fantasy element did give me a little pause but part of this feature is about me stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something different.  Thank goodness I did, not only does the plot sound intriguing, it also works really well.  There is layer upon layer of mystery within the plot, on one hand there is the investigation that Finch becomes entangled with but there is also the riddle of who the master of the secret satanic coven is and how far the reach of the coven extends, and the two become mixed together in a whirlwind of mayhem.

The pace of the book moves along briskly, pithy and witty dialogue between characters keeps the narrative interesting whilst giving glimpses into the personalities in play.  Both Simon Finch and his wife Laura are characters that I loved.  They work well together and they way they play off one another makes for some funny reading but there is a genuine concern between the pair that is touching to read.
The prevailing menace that emanates from the pages where Ambrose De Lacy is concerned is well written, the reader is aware that this is a character to distrust, someone who holds dark secrets as well as power.

Whilst a step away from my usual gritty crime thrillers, this was an enjoyable read nonetheless and one I would recommend to fans of thrillers with a fantasy edge.

You can buy a copy of “The Scarlet Coven” directly from directly from Urbane Publications here, or alternatively via  Amazon UK | Book Depository

 


Author Feature:

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Years after marvelling at the stories of the 1968 Spring and the Velvet Revolution, James found himself sat in a Prague Blues Bar falling in love with the city in person. A graduate of Politics and Modern History, and a long standing blues DJ for Modradiouk.net, James’s affection for the atmospheric, dark and seedy Cold War thrillers of old was reawakened by his growing affection for this cobbled land of gothic secrets and his writing bone began to itch. James’s career has covered a myriad of roles across the public and private sectors including high level technical recruitment and business development, to his current role within HR Consultancy; and it was a bad day at the office which persuaded him to finally act upon his long held dream of writing. The result was his 2015 debut novel Escape to Perdition, which reflected his love both of central Europe and the espionage genre and was met with wide spread acclaim. James has also written for The Prague Times and his work has been featured by Doctor Who Worldwide and travel site An Englishman in Slovakia. He is currently developing a number of projects across a variety of media. A diehard Whovian, Man City fan, Rum drinker and Christian, James is an unrepentent member of the 48%.

The Prague Ultimatum is his second book and will be published by Urbane in April 2017.

 

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

Good question, and there are many contenders! I’m tempted to say the moment you first open the parcel from your publisher, containing your book, and lift out that first copy; the smell of it, the feel of it, and the knowledge that the words inside it are yours… that takes some beating. But ultimately, for me at least, it’s each time a review, good or bad, is posted online, or you see your book move up the charts. That’s the moment that it hits home that people, maybe a few, maybe a lot, are reading your words and care enough one way or the other to give an opinion on them. That’s the most satisfying bit.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author? 

The time constraints. I still have a day job and I have young kids to look after, as well as an elderly parent whom I’m the primary carer for, so finding the time to write consistently can be difficult. I have to admit that when I’m working on a project I can be a bit of a grumpy sod and it’s inevitably the people around me who suffer my moods. I very much dislike that about myself.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

Oooh… To be honest, my thoughts on this change quite frequently. When I look at the world today I’d say 1984 because you can see the seeds of so much in that book being sown all around us, and it becomes more important on a daily basis. From the point of view of ‘my genre’, of espionage thrillers, then I’d love to have written The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.  That remains a masterpiece which completely redefined the genre. No-one has come close to capturing the mood of that book, in my opinion.

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

Marketing the last one! In all seriousness, part of the deal when you work in collaboration with an indie publisher is that you’ll match the effort the publisher puts in when trying to get your work ‘out there’ and noticed. Matthew Smith, the Urbane Founder is an absolute superstar and the effort he puts into his authors is immense; it’s only right that I do my best to match it. So, when I’m not actively writing or planning new projects, I’m all over social media trying to sell what I’ve done, trying to give fellow authors help wherever possible and just trying to grow my network. Success is a long game and you need to be patient.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

It’s not a deliberate routine from any kind of superstitious perspective, but I pretty much inevitably end up doing most of my writing at night. It’s only when I’ve done the tea, got the kids to bed etc. that I can finally sit down and work on something, unless I take the day off work to write, in which case I go to my local library to do it.  I have to work either in silence or if I’m in public with earphones to avoid distraction (only instrumental music, no lyrics). If I’m under more pressure time wise due to my other commitments, I try and abide by a self-imposed rule of 1000 words per day.

A huge thank you to James for taking part and for sharing some more about himself, and I definitely agree with him on “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold” – nothing has come close to that yet!
If you would like to know more about James and his books check out his website or follow him on twitter @JamesSilvester1

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If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page.

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It’s an honour to welcome you along to The Quiet Knitter for my stop on the blog tour for Isabelle Grey’s “The Special Girls” and I am so excited to be able to share an extract from Chapter One of this brilliant book!

 

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Description:

A seemingly perfect man is accused of horrendous crimes. It should be an open and shut case – but is there more to it than meets the eye?

An intelligent, timely thriller from award-winning screenwriter Isabelle Grey – a must-read for fans of Lynda La Plante’s Prime Suspect and Sarah Hilary

A young psychiatric registrar is found dead in the woods outside a summer camp for young eating disorder patients, run by the charismatic, world-renowned Professor Ned Chesham. DI Grace Fisher investigates, but it is not long before she is pulled from the case – to head up a Metropolitan Police review into a cold case involving Chesham himself.

Nearly twenty years ago, one of Chesham’s patients made allegations that he sexually assaulted her. The investigation at the time found no conclusive proof, but Grace soon discovers another victim, and a witness whose account never reached the police. Does this mean the original investigation was bungled? Scotland Yard would certainly like her to conclude otherwise.

As Grace uncovers the lies that led to the young doctor’s murder, she discovers the full extent of the damage done to Chesham’s ‘special girls’ – and the danger they are still in.

You can buy a copy of “The Special Girls” via Amazon here or via Wordery here.


Book Extract:

Chapter One:

Detective Inspector Grace Fisher heard an owl hoot as she got out of the car. It was somewhere off away in the thick darkness of the woods on the opposite side of the road. The faintest whisper of a breeze in the night air rustled the treetops and brushed her cheek as she inhaled the dry, earthy smell of last winter’s leaf litter.
‘What genius thought it would be a good idea to stop there?’ she asked, shaking her head at the two marked police cars pulled up on the verge beside a five-bar gate. ‘Right where the perpetrator might have left a vehicle if they had one.’
‘Idiots,’ agreed Detective Sergeant Blake Langley.
Although she had invited Blake’s comment, it annoyed her, and she reminded herself to leave her own negative thoughts unspoken. Chiding herself for her lapse and trying to undo it, she nodded towards the uniformed constable who stood beside the gate ready to escort them to the body. ‘It’s probably not his fault,’ she said. ‘No fun hanging about here for an hour in the dark waiting for us to show up.’
‘He must have done something to draw the short straw.’ Grace sighed. Not for the first time since Blake had joined the Major Investigation Team in Colchester three months ago, she missed her familiar wingman, DS Lance Cooper. Still, this was neither the time nor the place for regrets; she would just have to keep in mind that the new sergeant had a good reputation as a thief-taker and was easy enough to get along with as long as she ignored his default- mode scornful attitude.
Taking a forensic suit from the boot of their car, she went ahead to identify herself to the young constable and thank him for what she hoped hadn’t been too long a wait. ‘So where exactly are we?’ she asked him.
‘On the northern perimeter of the grounds of Wryford Hall,’ he said. ‘The village, that’s Long Wryford, is off to the west.’
‘And this road, where does it go?’
‘Nowhere really. It winds around a few farms and a small hamlet about three miles away before joining back up with the main Long Wryford to East Fordholt road. Most people just take that.’
‘So you mean we’re slap bang in the middle of nowhere,’ said Blake, joining them.
‘Pretty much,’ the constable agreed.
‘At least house‑to‑house won’t use up too much manpower then,’ said Blake cheerfully.
‘There are some people staying at the hall,’ said the constable.
‘Or camping in the grounds, anyway.’
‘OK,’ said Grace. ‘Lead on.’


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour!

The Special Blog Tour Poster

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Published: 4 April 2017

 

Description:

It’s 1956 and Bernie Gunther is on the run. Ordered by Erich Mielke, deputy head of the East German Stasi, to murder Bernie’s former lover by thallium poisoning, he finds his conscience is stronger than his desire not to be murdered in turn. Now he must stay one step ahead of Mielke’s retribution.

The man Mielke has sent to hunt him is an ex-Kripo colleague, and as Bernie pushes towards Germany he recalls their last case together. In 1939, Bernie was summoned by Reinhard Heydrich to the Berghof: Hitler’s mountain home in Obersalzberg. A low-level German bureaucrat had been murdered, and the Reichstag deputy Martin Bormann, in charge of overseeing renovations to the Berghof, wants the case solved quickly. If the Fuhrer were ever to find out that his own house had been the scene of a recent murder – the consequences wouldn’t bear thinking about.

And so begins perhaps the strangest of Bernie Gunther’s adventures, for although several countries and seventeen years separate the murder at the Berghof from his current predicament, Bernie will find there is some unfinished business awaiting him in Germany. 

My Thoughts & Review:

“Prussian Blue” is the twelfth book in the series penned by Philip Kerr to feature ex Kripo detective Bernie Gunther and once again the events during WWII are coming back to haunt the anti hero.  For fans of the series this is a wonderful continuation of the chronicles of Bernie Gunther, picking up a storyline from 1939 when he was under instruction of Heydrich to investigate a murder of the Berghof (Hitler’s home in Obersalzberg) but also to find some information on Martin Bormann etc that could be used in the future by Heydrich.  But there is the another timeline running parallel to this with action in 1956 when Bernie Gunther is cornered by Erich Mielke, Deputy Head of the Stasi and ordered to carry out an assassination.

Taking evasive action to free himself of his guards, Bernie makes a dash for freedom, not knowing whether he will make it or not.  But in doing so, this triggers memories from 1939 when he was sent to Obersalzberg to investigate the death of a low level engineer at Hitler’s  mountain home.  The man sent to accompany Bernie on his assassination mission is the same man that assisted him with the investigation in the 30s.  What then follows is a clever narrative that twists between the two timelines perfectly.

By 1958 Bernie Gunther has lived a charmed existence, knowing when to cut and run from situations, relying on his wit and courage to get him where he needs to be.  Thankfully, there seems to be more of the character that fans have come to know and love.  His smart mouth getting him into trouble like it did in the days of pre war Germany, the argumentative maverick is back and I’m so pleased!  I did worry that after reading book 11 (“The Other Side of Silence”) that this character was becoming tired, resigned and lacking but Philip Kerr has brought that spark back for me with his latest offering.

The parallels that can be drawn from the Nazis and the Stasis are so very clear in the writing, the far reach of both organisations is astounding to read about even in a fictional setting.  As always Philip Kerr includes little details that add an authenticity to his work and writes tense scenes so wonderfully that the reader cannot help but feel drawn in.

I particularly like that Kerr gives information on the fates of the characters mentioned in his book, thus allowing the reader a closure of sorts, knowing what actually happened to the likes of Martin Bormann etc.

I have to add that if you are new to the series then you will be able to read this book without having read the previous ones, there is enough detail given to past characters and events to keep a reader in the loop without repeating plots etc.  A superb series and I keenly await book thirteen!

My thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book to read and review.

You can buy a copy of “Prussian Blue” via Amazon here or via Wordery here

 

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