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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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TheRevelationRoom1

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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