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Archive for May, 2017

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Published: 4 April 2017

Description:

A woman’s body washes up on a remote beach on the Inishowen peninsula. Partially-clothed, with a strange tattoo on her thigh, she is identified as Marguerite Etienne, a French woman who has been living in the area.

Solicitor Benedicta ‘Ben’ O’Keeffe is consumed by guilt; Marguerite was her client, and for the second time in her life Ben has failed someone who needed her, with tragic consequences. So when local Sergeant Tom Molloy dismisses Marguerite’s death as the suicide of a disturbed and lonely woman, Ben cannot let it lie.

Ben uncovers Marguerite’s strange past as a member of a French doomsday cult, which she escaped twenty years previously but not without leaving her baby daughter behind. Disturbed by what appears to be chilling local indifference to Marguerite’s death, Ben pieces together the last few weeks of the French woman’s life in Inishowen. What she discovers causes her to question the fragile nature of her own position in the area, and she finds herself crossing boundaries both personal and professional to unearth local secrets long buried.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

When I heard there was a follow up to Andrea Carter’s “Death at Whitewater Church” I was instantly curious, having thoroughly enjoyed the first book of the Inishowen Mystery series I was keen to see if the second instalment would live up to the standard in place and I should never have doubted the author, once again she has penned an amazing novel that grabbed my attention from the first page.

Solicitor Ben O’Keeffe really should have looked into a career as a rally driver, indeed when we first encounter her in this book she is driving at breakneck pace along the coast roads of Inishowen to where a body has washed ashore.  Fearing the worst, Ben wants to find out if it is her client Marguerite Etienne and sadly Ben is able to identify the body as being Marguerite.  The Guards write it off as suicide, especially after hearing from Ben that Marguerite had been to see her to draw up a will, thinking that she was putting her affairs in order before taking her own life.  Ben is not so sure and demands answers.

Ben is a tenacious character, her determination to do the right thing for those she cares about can often lead her into dangerous situations and at times she seems to have a reckless regard for her own safety.  But her kindness and compassion towards others offsets this, always taking the time to speak to the locals in the village she works and lives in, visiting the bookshop to chat with Phyllis (and rehome a few bundles of orphan books – good lass!), and being an integral part of the local community.
The chemistry between Ben and Guard Tom Molloy is wonderfully scripted, as the reader only sees their interactions from Ben’s point of view it’s hard to tell is the gruff and stoic Molloy feels the same way, but you do get a feeling there is ‘something’ between them, but both have their secrets and won’t open up to each other.

The clever way that the plot is woven means there are links and clues that the reader will try to piece together to preempt where the tale is heading (unsuccessfully in my case),  but Andrea Carter masterfully draws it all together with a fantastic conclusion.

As I mentioned, this is the second instalment in the Inishowen Mystery series, and this book is perfectly readable as a standalone, there are hints to previous events and Ben’s past before she settled in Glendara but the author includes enough detail so that you don’t feel you’ve missed out on anything pertinent.  I would however recommend reading the series in order purely for enjoyment if nothing else.  This is a wonderfully atmospheric setting for a crime thriller, the windswept beaches, the jagged coastal settings and the small villages make for a brilliant backdrop and add to the tension that builds throughout the plot.

Now to wait patiently for the third instalment……….

You can buy a copy of “Treacherous Strand” via:

Amazon
The Book Depository
Wordery

My thanks to Helen at Little, Brown Book Group for the opportunity to read and review this book.

 

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Published: 25 May 2017

Description:

Ben Whittle’s father, a private investigator, has been taken captive by a cult whilst investigating the case of a missing girl. When Ben receives a desperate call from his father asking for help he is drawn into a dark underground world.

As Ben retraces the last known steps of the missing girl he discovers his only option left is to join the cult and rescue his father from the inside.

The leader of the cult, Edward Ebb, is a psychopathic egocentric who uses his position to control his small group of followers in The Sons and Daughters of Salvation. When he initiates Ben into the group it soon becomes apparent how sick and twisted Ebb is.

Ben must find his father and the missing girl, but the odds are stacked against him and time is running out.

Can Ben rescue his father and the girl and escape with his life?
And what is the gruesome secret concealed in the Revelation Room?

The Revelation Room is the first in a new series of psychological mystery thrillers.

My Thoughts & Review:

“The Revelation Room” is the first book in the Ben Whittle series penned by Mark Tilbury and has recently been relaunched by the brilliant Bloodhound Books.  For those already familiar with Tilbury’s work this series will not disappoint, this is a gripping and highly enjoyable psychological thriller.

Ben Whittle’s father Geoff is a private investigator, and has been kidnapped by a dangerous cult called the Sons and Daughters of Salvation.  His only hope of survival is shy and unassuming Ben.  With the help of his friend Maddie, Ben hatches a plan to rescue his father,  but in order for the plan to work he and Maddie will have to infiltrate the cult.
The cult in question is under the control of Edward Ebb, a seriously evil character.  He is a psychopath  that uses his position to brainwash his followers and control them to do his bidding, the rules of the cult are simple, conform to the ways of the Sons and Daughters of Salvation or cease to exist.

Characterisation in this is superb, Ben is a great character that many readers will have a liking towards, his lack of confidence is endearing and seeing him confronting his fears makes for great character development.  His crush on Maddie helps drive him on, she is the embodiment of the confidence and bravery he doesn’t have.  Edward Ebb, is quite possibly one of the best evil characters I’ve read for a while, so disturbing and he left me with a sense of dread whenever he appeared (in a good way!).
Coupled with the foreboding darkness is some wonderful humour, I don’t quite know how Tilbury does it, but he masterfully offsets the grim and evil air in this book with some impressive dark humour that just tops this book off perfectly.

The pacing of “The Revelation Room” is akin to a whirlpool.  Once it’s grabbed hold of you there is no letting go, it’s a gripping read that I devoured quickly, I was so keen to find out what would happen next that I could not put it down.
Now on to book two of the series “The Eyes of The Accused”……

You can buy a copy of “The Revelation Room” via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

My thanks to Mark Tilbury and Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for the opportunity to read this and take part in the blog tour.

Follow the blog tour – today over on Crime Book Junkie Noelle is hosting a chapter extract that I am sure will hook your interest!  Why not pop over and check it out!

Blog Tour(7)

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Bombshell Books are back!

After launching with the hilarious The Queen of Blogging, Bombshell Books are back with two new authors and three fabulous novels.

Therese Loreskar returns with her sequel to The Queen of Blogging – The Queen of New Beginnings

Therese Loreskar started her career in 2010 self-publishing her first novel, which quickly became a critically acclaimed best-seller.

In 2014 she was signed by a Swedish publishing house before being signed by Bombshell in the summer of 2016. Her novel, The Queen of Blogging, received overwhelming feedback and the book was referred to as a modern Bridget Jones.

Therese has since had four bestselling children’s books.

Her never-ending energy for writing and entertaining people is her biggest trait.

Therese lives in the countryside on the west coast of Sweden. She has a big and busy household with her husband, two children, deaf cat, five hamsters and a grandmother.

When she is not busy writing stories she enjoys nature, people, history, redecorating the house without permission and all other kinds of creativity.

The Queen of New Beginnings will be published on August 10th this year.

Guardian book prize shortlisted author, Suzie Tullett, signs with Bombshell Books

Suzie Tullett is an author of contemporary humorous fiction and romantic comedy. She has a Masters Degree in Television & Radio Scriptwriting and worked as a scriptwriter before becoming a full-time novelist. Her motto is to ‘live, laugh, love’ and when she’s not busy creating her own literary masterpieces, she usually has her head in someone else’s.

Suzie lives in a tiny hamlet in the middle of the French countryside, along with her husband and two Greek rescue dogs. You can find Suzie on Twitter: @SuzieTullett or you can visit her website: suzietullett.com

Her heart-warming romantic comedy, The Trouble with Words, will be published on July 29th this year.

Debut author, Callie Langridge, joins Bombshell Books

Caroline was born and brought up in Berkshire. After a brief teenage spell in the depths of Lancashire, she moved back to London.

Having left school at 16, she studied drama before embarking on a career in marketing. This saw her work in music marketing in the heady days of Britpop in the late ‘90s. She unleashed her creativity in the design of window displays and marketing campaigns for the leading music retailer. More recently she has followed her passion for social history and currently works in marketing for a national historical institution, promoting projects and running events.

On hitting her thirtieth birthday, she decided finally to take her A levels and gained A’s in English Literature and Language, and Film Studies – not bad when working full time – and this spurred her on to take the first of many creative writing course. A few years later and she has had a number of short stories published and plays performed at theatres and venues across London.

Caroline lives in London with her long-term partner and an ever-growing collection of antique curiosities.

Her beautifully written and heart-wrenching debut novel, A Time to Change, will be published on September 24th this year.

Bombshell Books is an imprint of Bloodhound Books. Bombshell publishes brilliant women’s fiction and is on the look out for new authors. We want stories that will make you laugh, cry and fall in love. For more information visit our website – www.bombshellbooks.com

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Hello and happy Friday!  And you all know what Friday brings, yes,  its time to share another post to celebrate Indie Publishing and this time it’s Elliott & Thompson in the spotlight!   Today I have a review of “Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags” by Tim Marshall.


Description:

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When you see your nation’s flag fluttering in the breeze, what do you feel?

For thousands of years flags have represented our hopes and dreams. We wave them. Burn them. March under their colours. And still, in the 21st century, we die for them. Flags fly at the UN, on the Arab street, from front porches in Texas. They represent the politics of high power as well as the politics of the mob.

From the renewed sense of nationalism in China, to troubled identities in Europe and the USA, to the terrifying rise of Islamic State, the world is a confusing place right now and we need to understand the symbols, old and new, that people are rallying round.

In nine chapters (covering the USA, UK, Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa, Latin America, international flags and flags of terror), Tim Marshall draws on more than twenty-five years of global reporting experience to reveal the histories, the power and the politics of the symbols that unite us – and divide us.

My Thoughts & Review:

“Worth Dying For” is an interesting book which presents the history and ideologies behind a variety of flags.

The chapter on the Union Jack was particular interesting, it is a flag that I am so accustomed to seeing but have never really given much consideration towards its complicated history and so found this to be an enlightening and informative.
The political overtones of the flags within Europe and the Balkans make for fascinating reading, giving pause for thought at some of the discoveries made.  Flags of Revolution is an intriguing chapter and one I will most definitely do some further reading on.   What I like about this book is the fact that it plants the seeds of thought in the brain of the reader, imploring them to read on and find out more or to check out the additional sources of information mentioned in the bibliography.

Whilst this is not an all inclusive reference book to all flags it is still informative and fascinating.  The writing is clear and concise, Marshall demonstrates his knowledge well and the interjection of humour and wit adds light relief and entertainment for the audience.
I do feel that this is perhaps a book that is best read in chunks as opposed to reading in one sitting.  I certainly found that I took more from this when dipping in and out of it.

You can buy a copy of “Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags” via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

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

About the Author:

Tim Marshall is a leading authority on foreign a­ffairs with more than twenty-five years of reporting experience. He was diplomatic editor at Sky News, and before that was working for the BBC and LBC/IRN radio. He has reported from forty countries and covered conflicts in Croatia, Bosnia,  Macedonia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Israel. He is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics; “Dirty Northern B*st*rds!” and Other Tales from the Terraces: The Story of Britain’s Football Chants; and Shadowplay: The Overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic (a bestseller in former Yugoslavia). He has written for­ The Times, Sunday Times, Guardian, Independent and Daily Telegraph, and his blog Foreign Matters was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize 2010. He is founder and editor of the current a­ffairs site TheWhatandtheWhy.com.

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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: 18 May 2017

 

Description:

LOCAL GIRL SWEPT OFF HER FEET
Mild-mannered publicist Holly Phillips is unlucky in love. She’s embarrassed beyond belief when the handsome stranger she meets in a bar turns out to be ‘Ultimate Man’ – a superpowered hero whose rescue attempt finds her hoisted over his shoulder and flashing her knickers in the newspaper the next day.
But when Holly’s fifteen minutes of fame make her a target for something villainous, she only has one place to turn – and finds the man behind the mask holds a lot more charm than his crime-fighting alter-ego.
Can Holly find love, or is superdating just as complicated as the regular kind?

My Thoughts & Review:

There’s just something so lovely about picking up a book by Jenny Colgan, you know from the moment you start reading that there will be laughter and fun as well as a few more serious moments.
“Spandex and the City” is wonderfully humorous from the opening chapter, poor Holly Phillips finding her chances of a love life aren’t helped by having her knickers splashed over the front pages and on social media.  Her night starts innocently enough, a much needed night out with her best friend Gertie when a band of masked robbers descend upon the bar and demand valuables, phones etc.  These raids aren’t the first that the town has endured and without fail the local superhero Ultimate Man is soon in the vicinity to save the day, unfortunately when he rescues the damsel in distress (or distressing damsel) he throws her over his shoulder to lead her to safety not realising her knickers are on show for all to see.  Holly is mortified when people recognise her face in the picture and attracts some unwanted attention because of this.

The raids continue across the town, and as luck would have it Holly usually ends up being in the same place, as does Ultimate Man.  The pair share a few conversation at their unplanned rendezvous, and from there a budding romance of sorts forms.

“Spandex and the City” is different from Colgan’s other novels, yes there is a love story in here, but there is also a lot more to this novel than some readers may expect.  The superhero and science fiction elements in this novel are well written and it has a feel of an updated superhero tale.  Characterisation is really good, Holly is a funny and charming character that oozes warmth and humour.  Her exchanges with her best friend Gertie as well as those with Ultimate Man are wonderfully crafted and very enjoyable.  Ultimate Man is a little bit of an enigma, very alluring and interesting but I have to agree with Holly’s remarks about his name, it doesn’t sound the greatest!  The evil mastermind was a fantastic character, one with many sides it would seem but how many of them were true?

A lovely light hearted read with plenty of laughter – just what I’ve come to know and love from Jenny Colgan!

My thanks to Hayley Camis for recommending this book and inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

You can buy a copy of “Spandex and the City” via:

Amazon
The Book Depository
Wordery

 

Follow the blog tour!

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Published: 18 May 2017

 

Description:

No one in Carniskey has ever truly understood what led Sean Delaney, a seasoned local fisherman, to risk his life in a high storm in the dead of night. Now, three years on from that tragic night, his wife Alison is still struggling with her unresolved grief and increasing financial worries.

After three difficult years, Alison has grown distant from her daughter and estranged from her friends and fellow villagers, particularly her best friend Kathleen who harbours a deeply guarded secret of her own. Isolated by its stunning yet often cruel surroundings, this is a community used to looking after its own but the arrival of an outsider – artist and lifelong nomad, William – offers Alison a new perspective on life and love that threatens to unearth the mysteries of the past.

A story of courage and enduring humanity, Finding Alison follows the community through their struggles in love, loss and betrayal, each coming to understand that only in truth can we find the peace and liberation essential for true happiness.

My Thoughts & Review:

“Finding Alison” is one of those books that instantly appeals to me as soon as I’ve read the description, it’s a lovely change of pace from dark and gritty crime thrillers but it’s still an emotional rollercoaster ride.

The reader is faced with one of the most heart wrenching openings, Alison Delaney is wakened by a knock on the door that will change her life forever, her husband Sean was seen taking his fishing boat out late at night on stormy seas and it has sunk.  Alison is dumbfounded with grief, she struggles to cope with the idea that Sean is gone, wandering the beach and harbour in hope.  As time passes and no sign of Sean or his boat appear washed up on the shore the search is called off and Alison is forced to accept he has gone.  Alison is not the only one in mourning, their young daughter Hannah essentially loses both of her parents that stormy night, Sean’s mother Maryanne stepping in to care for the youngster when Alison is unable to cope.

As years pass, Hannah steps into her teenage years and rebels, perhaps a telling sign of her years but she cannot understand why her mother has sunk to the levels she has, not taking care of her appearance or her health and developing an alarming reliance on a bottle of wine or two to get through an evening.  Alison struggles to connect with Hannah, finding that the gap between them has become too wide, she relies on the help of her best friend Kathleen and her sister Claire.  There are also financial struggles for the Delaney family, the insurance payout from Sean’s accident cannot be released until 7 years have passed so that he can be legally declared dead.
A burglary gone wrong in Maryanne’s home one evening leaves her suffering a massive knock to the head, and she is moved to a nursing home to be cared for and Alison feels duty bound to visit everyday.

Deep rooted in this tale is a connection with the sea, it almost becomes a character in its own right.  The descriptions of the seascape are utterly hypnotic and the poetry used to portray the movements of the waves make it easy for a reader to “see” the alluring appeal of the sea.  It’s whilst seeking solace beside the sea that Alison meets William and from there she steps into the light and embarks on a journey to find herself.
 

At the heart of it, this is a story of growth, finding yourself and reminding us of the lasting impact people leave on each other.  This is a powerful and evocative read, and at times it’s heart wrenchingly sad, there were moments I could feel tears threatening to spill out but equally there were moments I laughed out loud.  There were also revelations which I genuinely did not see coming and gasped in surprise before reading on eagerly to find out what happened next.
This is very much a book that lingered on in my mind after I’d read it, the writing is so wonderfully rich.  The descriptions of settings, characters, relationships all felt so real and authentic.
My absolute heartfelt thanks to Joanne – Portobello Book Blog and Lina at Black and White Publishing for bringing this book to my attention, I cannot thank you both enough!
You can buy a copy of “Finding Alison” via:
Don’t forget to follow the blog tour!
Finding Alison blog tour

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Published: 15 May 2017

Description:

Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina. Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s. Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again. Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald? Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true-crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light. Plumbing the darkness and the horrific evidence of the nature of evil, Block 46 is a multi-layered, sweeping and evocative thriller that heralds a stunning new voice in French Noir.

My Thoughts & Review:

Block 46 is quite possibly one of the most magnificent books I have read, it’s absolutely flawlessly plotted, rich in characters and has an astounding level of detail woven into it.  There are so many layers to this novel that it’s hard to begin to describe just how powerful this is.

The uppermost layer of the plot is a murder investigation, one which sparks tangents shooting off like electrical currents in several directions.
Linnea Blix is a much loved and talented jewellery designer so her failure to appear at the grand unveiling of her latest collection is worrying.  When her naked and mutilated corpse is discovered is Sweden, red flags are raised because of the resemblance to a case being investigated in London.  The best friend of Blix is writer Alexis Castells, who soon ends up working with profiler Emily Roy in a bid to discovering her killer.

From here the reader is drawn into a dark thriller that is rife with tension and utterly unnerving.
Johana Gustawsson then adds in another layer to “Block 46”  by incorporating a timeline from 1944 where a young man named Erich Hebner is incarcerated in Buchenwald Concentration Camp.  It is through glimpses of the horrendous and torturous conditions that the reader experiences some of the most harrowing storytelling.  The skill that Gustawsson exhibits in her writing is immense, she details the abhorrent conditions so that the audience is fully aware of the violence, lack of humanity and evil that emanated from the Camps and the ruling forces.

And if this wasn’t enough to make this book standout, then take a look at the characters involved.  A colourful collection of personalities make for some incredibly interesting reading, Alexis Castells and Emily Roy are superb characters, both strong in their own ways, and have qualities that are vital to the roles they play.  Alexis Castells is caring and warm, she is a calming influence on those around her but underneath it all she bears the scars of her past.  Emily Roy on the other hand is a wonderful contrast to this, her clinical approach to her work and interactions can be seen as blunt and cold but she almost needs to be that way in order to do the job that she does.
The glimpses into the mind of the killer that are sprinkled throughout the narrative give an insight into a truly twisted and chilling persona.  There is no doubting that this is a very dangerous individual who enjoys the thrill of the hunt when it comes to victims, and the sheer elation felt when a kill and torture sequence has been complete.

If shock value is what you are looking for then this is the book for you, there are some moments in this that you almost need reminders to keep breathing, the urge to hold your breath in anticipation is high.  The way that Johana Gustawsson plants the seeds of suspicion in the heads of her readers is cleverly done, many will read this book and all the while be trying to guess ahead as to who the killer is, what the motive is etc and good luck is all I can say.  This was a book that well and truly caught me off guard, there were aspects of the plot that I would never have guessed.

I want to offer my thanks to Maxim Jakubowski for the wonderful translation of this book from French into English, it takes incredible skill to translate any document from one language to another and here I feel that the skills of the translator deserve a round of applause as this book reads to well that you could be forgiven for thinking it had originally been penned in English.

My heartfelt thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for sharing this epic novel with me and for having me host this stop on the blog tour.

 

You can buy your copy of “Block 46” via:

Amazon
Orenda Books eBookstore
Wordery
The Book Depository

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

FINAL block 46 blog tour poster

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Published: 18 May 2017

Description:

A young man is found in a riverside park, his head bashed in with a rock. The only clue to his identity is an admission stamp for the local gay club.

DS Lucy Black is called in to investigate. As Lucy delves into the community, tensions begin to rise as the man’s death draws the attention of the local gay rights group to a hate-speech Pastor who, days earlier, had advocated the stoning of gay people and who refuses to retract his statement.

Things become more complicated with the emergence of a far right group targeting immigrants in a local working-class estate. As their attacks escalate, Lucy and her boss, Tom Fleming, must also deal with the building power struggle between an old paramilitary commander and his deputy that threatens to further enflame an already volatile situation.

Hatred and complicity abound in the days leading up to the Brexit vote in McGilloway’s new Lucy Black thriller. Compelling and current, Bad Blood is an expertly crafted and acutely observed page-turner.

My Thoughts & Review:

Bad Blood is the fourth book by Brian McGilloway to feature DS Lucy Black, and thankfully for me this can read well as a stand alone book, although after reading this I am very keen to go back and catch up on the previous three books.

There is a very current feel to this, the plot incorporating the Brexit referendum as well as issues of racism, immigration and homophobia.
DS Black and her superior officer, DI Tom Fleming are members of the Public Protection Unit which requires them to assist on numerous investigations including the murder of a gay teenager.   With the influx of crime on the Greenway estate, racist attacks and and building unrest it soon becomes clear that their investigations will be far from easy, the PPU having to sensitively navigate round certain figures within the communities to get the answers they need.  The way that Brian McGilloway manages to weave threads of different factions and their grievances is very interesting.  From those who would fight in favour of bakeries discriminating against homosexuality for religious reasons all the way through to people retaining anger at the injustices of the Troubles, the author manages to incorporate details that add to the plot but never overshadows the main storyline.

As a police procedural this is a good read, there are enough twists to the plot to keep a reader interested and keep them guessing as to what may happen.  There are some incredibly well created characters that will delight readers.  DS Lucy Black is a refreshing change from the usual detective, she does not appear to be damaged or have a horrendously sordid backstory and instead works well with others to do her job well.

My thanks to Hayley Camis and Corsair for the opportunity to read and review this book as well as for being part of the blog tour.

You can buy a copy of “Bad Blood” via:

Amazon
The Book Depository
Wordery

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour for reviews and extracts!

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Happy Saturday and welcome along to my stop on the blog tour for Darcie Boleyn’s “Summer at Corwenna Cove”, I am honoured to be able to share a guest post with you today written by Darcie about some of her romance book inspirations.


Summer at Conwenna Cove

Description:

About the Author:

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Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

To find out more about Darcie’s books check out the following links:

Blog: https://darcieboleyn.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/darcieboleyn

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/public/Darcie-Boleyn

Summer at Conwenna Cove blog tour 2

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Welcome along to my Friday post to celebrate Indie Publishing!  Today I am delighted to bring you another book from  Cranachan Publishing and share my review “Charlie’s Promise” by Annemarie Allan.  I was also lucky enough to grab a few minutes of Annemarie’s time so interrogated her thoroughly for the author feature!


Book Feature:

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Published: 19 March 2017

Would you break the rules or break your promise?

On the outskirts of Edinburgh, just before the outbreak of WW2, Charlie finds a starving German boy hiding in the woods near his home. Josef can’t speak English and is desperately afraid, especially of anyone in uniform. Charlie’s promise to help Josef find his Jewish relatives in the city is the start of a journey that will force them to face their fears, testing their new-found friendship to the limit.

 

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Cranachan Publishing are fast becoming my go to publisher when I want to read something a little different.  Several of the books they have published have been narrated through the eyes of a child and I find this richly rewarding.  There are so many things that when viewed through childhood innocence seem much more poignant and untethered by the politics of adult life and this is one of those books.

Set in the outskirts of Edinburgh in small coastal town called Morison’s Haven in 1938, we encounter young Charlie, who seems unphased by the looming war and will do whatever he can to avoid the school bully.  His luck is challenged one day when he is roped into helping his friend Jean find missing dog Laddie.  The pair of youngsters enter the woods they’d been told to stay away from, warned that collapsed mine entrances posed great danger, but Jean is determined to find Laddie and Charlie cannot let her go in alone.  When they do find Laddie they also discover a starved stranger, a young German boy.  Josef does not speak English, Charlie and Jean speak no German but the trio soon find a way to communicate to help Josef.  Realising that the only clue they have as to how Josef ended up in Scotland is a piece of paper with an Edinburgh address and a name on it, Charlie makes a promise to get his new friend to safety – he just needs to work out a plan first.

This book beautifully portrays a tale of the kindness of strangers as well as the innocence of childhood.  It reminds us to think about those who might need help without having to look for a route cause, and in this instance Charlie saw a young lad that was cold, alone and hungry.  He saw that Josef was scared and needed a friend, he needed comfort and he needed someone to help him find his way.
The characters in this, especially the three main ones are so realistic and you cannot help but take them into your heart.  Charlie needs to do the right thing, even if in a round about way he ends up telling a wee white lie or doing things he shouldn’t, he believes that if he has made a promise that he should honour it and that’s very commendable.  Jean is fearless, to a point.  She is a genuine friend to Charlie, who often is seen as an outcast because of disability.  Jean is the driving force in the duo, headstrong and determined.
Fear plays a big part in the lives of these characters, whether it is the fear of the belt at school, being sent to the headmaster, a warning from parents or in Josef’s case, a fear of strange grown ups and the way in which it is written makes it realistic.  You get a strong sense of the panic that is felt by the youngsters when faced with certain situations.

I found that this was a book I didn’t want to put down, the tale was so wonderfully crafted and expertly woven that I almost raced through it, relishing the small details as well as frantically trying to find out if the trio would make it to Edinburgh and just who Josef was trying to reach.

This book acts as a great reminder about humanity as well as a wonderful resource to teach youngsters about the harrowing events of Kristallnacht.  And although the target audience is 9-12 year old readers I would say this is a book that readers of any age can read and enjoy.

 

You can buy a copy of “Charlie’s Promise” via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository


Author Feature:

annemarie-thumbnail-300x300

Annemarie Allan was born in Edinburgh, lived in California and London, before returning to Scotland, where she decided it was time to take her writing seriously.
Her first published novel, ‘Hox’, won the 2007 Kelpies Prize and was shortlisted for both the Scottish Children’s Book of the Year and the Heart of Hawick book awards. Her third novel, ‘Ushig’, a fantasy based on Scottish myths and legends, was shortlisted for the 2011 Essex Children’s Book Award. Her latest novel, ‘Charlie’s Promise’ is set in Scotland on the eve of the Second World War, but the issues it deals with are still relevant today.
She writes for both adults and children and has authored several booklets on the history of East Lothian, where she now lives. She was a contributor to the historical review of East Lothian 1945–2000, edited by Sonia Baker, which was awarded first prize in the Alan Ball Local History Award 2010. More recently, her short story, ‘Entrapment’, won the flash fiction section of the 2015 Federation of Writers (Scotland) annual competition.
Her novels and short stories range from fantasy and science fiction to historical and contemporary fiction, taking their inspiration from the landscape and culture of Scotland, both past and present.

If you would like to know more about Annemarie and her writing, you can contact her at:
http://annemarieallan.com/
https://twitter.com/aldhammer

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

I love the sense that I’m making something that has never existed before, the challenge of bringing to life the characters who previously lived only inside my head. I also love the opportunity to meet readers and talk about my stories. If you write for children, it’s fairly easy to interact with readers through schools and libraries. I also write adult short stories and it’s much harder to connect with readers when writing that type of fiction.

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

I think that would be the sense of rejection when a story is turned down. Almost every fiction writer has a collection of novels, short stories, poems etc, that have been sent out into the world and returned unwanted. It’s hard to be thick-skinned enough to put that to one side and move on, but I tell myself that it’s not always the case that the writing fails to engage the reader. The story might not be polished enough, or might not fit with a publisher’s current priorities. I have found that submitting for prizes as well as for publication is a good way to find out if a story has merit. I took that route twice before I found a publisher. One of my novels was shortlisted for the Saga/HarperCollins children’s book award and another won the Kelpies Prize. It was enormously reassuring to discover that the judges rated the quality of my writing.

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

I don’t think I know how to answer this question! Every writer has their own style. Some are so strong you can recognise them from even a couple of paragraphs and I can’t imagine myself writing in someone else’s voice unless it was a parody. There are, of course, a huge number of writers I admire, both past and present. Contemporary ones include Frances Hardwicke, whose fantasies turn the idea of good and evil upside down, especially in ‘The Cuckoo Song’. Or Joanne Harris, who is so skilful at laying a false trail that you have trouble even identifying who is who until the last few pages of the story.

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

I am an avid reader. Apart from the demands of everyday life, I spend almost all my time with my nose in a book. I also like to walk and I am very grateful that I live in a part of the world where I am close to the sea and the countryside. Apart from anything else, walking is a great way to find time to think about writing! The process of creating a story goes on even when I’m not sitting down to write.

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

I don’t know if I would call them set rituals, but I like to work at the computer in the morning and go over what I’ve written in the evening or add to my day’s writing with pen and paper. I use a yellow pad for my notes and scribbles. I do have a specific pen that I use for book signings. My daughter bought it for me when I had my first book published and every time I use it, I am reminded of what a wonderful moment that was!

A huge thank you to Annemarie for taking part in the author feature and telling us a little about herself.   If you would like to know more about Annemarie and her writing, you can contact her via her website  http://annemarieallan.com/ or Twitter https://twitter.com/aldhammer

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