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Archive for September, 2017

It was a great honour to be able to read an advanced copy of this book, Helen Cadbury creates a fascinating and gripping tale that has readers hooked from the very opening pages, she shrewdly leads them down a path littered with clever subtleties and flags of danger whilst enticing their imagination to run riot.  When a book offers so much you just know you’re going greedily devour it!

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Description:

It is the middle of a long night shift in Doncaster for PC Sean Denton and his partner PC Gavin Wentworth when they are approached by a dishevelled-looking woman desperate that they follow her. She leads them to the old Chasebridge High School where they find the dead body of a Syrian refugee. With a sexual assault court case and a missing girl also vying for his attention, Denton and the murder investigation are drawn towards the neighbouring greyhound stadium where all is not as it seems. With the worlds of immigration, drugs and sexual abuse pressing in on all sides, Denton is walking ever closer to serious danger.

My Thoughts & Review:

Part of my enjoyment of this book centred around the main character, PC Sean Denton.  A fresh faced constable who along with his partner PC Gav Wentworth gets pulled into a case that involves so many aspects it might leave their heads spinning.
Denton dreams of becoming a detective, it’s the one thing that he really wants but fears that his dyslexia will hold him back, and it’s something he keeps secret from those around him.  This extra layer to Sean Denton just makes him a little more “real” for readers and makes him stand out at someone who is determined to work hard for his goals.

When I went into this book I was aware that it was the third in the series (yes, breaking my own rules once again!), and I can happily say that this reads well as a stand alone book.  Helen Cadbury ensured that she wrote just enough explanation for events and backstories to be sure that new readers would pick up on Sean Denton’s previous tales but not enough to bog down those already familiar with the series.  And if I’m honest, the wonderful style of writing has me keen to go back and read the previous two books just so find out the details of what went on before this book.

The plot moves quickly and keeps readers engaged, and as the tensions mount and the strands of the plot weave together to form an inescapably brilliant conclusion it becomes harder and harder to drag your eyes away from this book.  It’s one of those books that calls to you and stays inside your head making you wonder about it.   The clever plotting will have readers muttering aloud or commenting in excitement once Helen Cadbury lets them in on the mysteries within the book, but some of the explanations remain just out of reach until Cadbury is ready to share them and boy, it’s worth it!

All of the characters in this are quite interesting, and despite some being less than favourable and their actions being questionable, you still feel somewhat invested in them and their situations.  The exploration of some of these characters was fascinating to read, especially Sarah.  I found that the more I learned about her, the more intrigued I became.  And I think it’s fair to say that Sean Denton has secured a place in my heart with this book, he comes across as very likeable and the sort of character that you could probably cast from your circle of friends.

It’s with great sadness that I have to say that there will be no book four in this series as sadly Helen Cadbury passed away in June 2017.

 

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Hello and welcome to the second post this Friday to “Celebrate Indie Publishing”, I promised you not one but two books, so here is the second book to feature today.  This time we have Death Parts Us by Alex Walters, it was published on 28 September 2017 by Bloodhound Books.


Book Feature:

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Description:

A chilling new crime thriller from a best-selling author.

Twenty years ago, Jackie Galloway was a senior cop with a bad reputation. Then he ended up on the wrong side of the wrong people, and his career was ruined. Sacked and with no pension, he ends up eking out his last days on Scotland’s Black Isle, his mind lost to dementia, supported only by his long-suffering wife, Bridie. 

Then Galloway is found dead. The police assume the death to be accidental, until Bridie Galloway reveals that her husband has been receiving threatening letters containing only the phrase: ‘NOT FORGOTTEN. NOT FORGIVEN.’

DI Alec McKay is struggling to come to terms with life without his estranged wife Chrissie, and is living in isolation on the Black Isle. As a junior officer, McKay had been allocated to Galloway’s team and has bad memories of the man and his methods. Now he finds himself investigating Galloway’s death.

But when suspicion falls on him and more police officers are murdered, the pressure is on for McKay to solve the case.

Why would the killer seek revenge twenty years after Galloway left the force?

As McKay fights to link the events of past and present, he realizes that time is rapidly running out…

 

My Thoughts & Review:

I’ve done it again, I’ve broken my rule about reading books in a series out of order, there, I’ve admitted it and we can move on.

In all fairness this book can be read as a stand alone book but if you want to read the series I would highly recommend it.  After finishing Death Parts Us, I headed straight over to Amazon to buy the first book in the series Candles and Roses so that I could find out what really happened before this book and can happily report that these can be read out of order and it’s actually quite nice to have read them out of order.

When I started reading this I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but I am a huge fan of Scottish crime thrillers so was keen to try this book.  Certainly the book description grabbed my attention, but I was also intrigued by the setting.  The Black Isle and Inverness are places I’ve visited quite a lot, we recently holidayed up in Fortrose on the Black Isle so I was interested to see if the author could bring the place alive through the book.  He certainly did, so many of the places mentioned brought memories of being on the Black Isle, and I could envision the winding roads and side streets so clearly.

DI Alec McKay is a character that I thoroughly enjoyed  reading about, his cantankerous ways reminded me of a few male members of my family, and I loved his sense of humour.  The sarcastic moments that played out in his head during conversations were hilarious at times and really made me like him that little bit more.  There’s something about the way he is described that brings such a clear image to mind, I found that after I’d finished reading this I was mentally casting actors to play in him a TV series.

The sheer brilliance of the plot caught me off guard, just about when I was beginning to feel smug about working out part of the “whodunit” I was left open mouthed and stunned that I’d got it so wrong, fair play to you Alex Walters, you laid a fantastic trail of red herrings to lead me astray!  The idea of police officers being killed off makes for an interesting twist, you don’t see that played out too often in crime thrillers.  The way that the plot links up and plays out is wonderful, small details you might not think are key suddenly become wee light bulb moments and you find that you’re racing through the book to find out how it all links up in the end.

A fantastic thriller that I would have no hesitation to recommend and will be keenly keeping an eye out for more books featuring Alec McKay!

You can buy a copy of Death Parts Us via:

Amazon

 

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Hello and welcome to another Friday post to “Celebrate Indie Publishing” and this time you lucky souls I have TWO books to feature!  They will be in separate posts because each book deserves to be in the spotlight on it’s own.
The book being featured here is the magnificent Maria in the Moon by the wonderful and disgustingly talented Louise Beech, it is published on 30 September 2017 by Orenda Books.


Book Feature:

Description:

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Long ago my beloved Nanny Eve chose my name. Then one day she stopped calling me it. I try now to remember why, but I just can’t.’
Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria.
With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges … and changes everything.
Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Louise Beech has the rare ability in her writing to render a reader utterly speechless and overcome with emotion.  In each of her books I have found there have been (numerous) moments where I can no longer see the page in front of me for the tears threatening to spill from my eyes and yet I can’t bear to part with the book for even a second to grab a tissue or blink furiously to rid myself of the pesky waterworks.  Each of her books is special, but Maria in the Moon somehow manages to be that little bit extra special.

In this book we meet Catherine, who until the age of nine was known by her family as Catherine-Maria.  She has no idea why they stopped calling her by her full Christian name, or indeed no memory of her ninth year.
Following devastating flooding in 2007, Catherine loses her home and feels drawn to volunteering at Flood Crisis, outside the call centre she finds that her memories begin to return.
Catherine’s story is one that deserves your full attention and appreciation, there are aspects that make for uncomfortable reading, there are moments when you will find that emotions threaten to get the better of you, but it is a rewarding read.
I don’t want to say too much about the plot and potentially ruin the book for others so I will leave my thoughts on the plot here.

As a character, Catherine is so perfectly created.  Her enduring fight to survive really makes her stand out and endears her to readers.  She has battled so long and hard over the years, and has grown a shell of sorts to protect her.  A surly attitude coupled with dark humour are her defence mechanisms, but underneath it all there is a soft, sensitive and caring person so deserving of a good life.  Such a complex character that became so uncomplicated the more I read, and by the end of the book I felt as though Catherine had become my friend, she’s certainly taken a place in my heart.

As I mentioned above, there are some aspects of Maria in the Moon that are of a difficult nature, ones that could cause some discomfort for readers, but I do believe that Louise Beech has written these with great care to ensure sensitivity and empathy.

For me, some of the most awe inspiring writing came from the depiction of the flooding in Hull in 2007.  Beech managed to vividly capture the desolation, the panic, the distress caused by it all.  I could feel the emotions of those affected by the floods, the emotions were just so powerful.

This has got to be one of the most powerful books I’ve had the privilege to read this year, it’s such a poignant and moving read that Beech has managed to sneak dark humour into to make it a beautiful book that NEEDS to be in the hands of every reader.

You can buy a copy of Maria in the Moon via:

Orenda eBookstore
Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

Maria in the Moon - Blog Tour Poster

 

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** My thanks to Rachel Griffiths for the opportunity to read a copy of this book **

 

Description:

Motherhood has been one of the great blessings of Dawn Dix-Beaumont’s life but with her children’s growing independence, it’s finally time for Dawn to return to teaching. However, Mother Nature has other ideas…

Rick Beaumont loves his family but he’s busier than ever. With his high-flying career, two children and a third on the way, there’s a lot to juggle.

Battling expectations, disappointments and a few surprises along the way, Dawn and Rick find their commitment to each other tested to the limit. The next steps they take will be the most important of their lives.

So when the pressure mounts and an important decision has to be made, will Dawn and Rick’s marriage become stronger than ever, or will it be time to move in different directions?

This is the second of four short stories in The Cosy Cottage Café series.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

This is my second foray into The Cosy Cottage Café series, and so far I’m loving it.  There’s something so comforting and homely about the setting of these books that just calls out to me, and I think will call out to many readers.  I do think that if Rachel were to give up reading and build The Cosy Cottage there would be people flocking to it from miles around the country (note, please do not give up writing Rachel, you cannot do that to me or any of your other fans….we NEED your books).

Anyway……it’s now Autumn in the village of Heatherlea and the focus has shifted from Allie, to feature Dawn and Rick and their expanding brood.
Dawn and Rick are preparing for their third child, but some unexpected niggles are plaguing Dawn making her question just how solid the foundations of her marriage are.  Rick seems to be hiding a secret from her and her hormones are making her mind run at a hundred miles an hour with panic and worry.

There’s something about the way that the characters are written in each of Rachel Griffith’s books that just makes them seem so real.  Throughout reading this I was so aware that I was thinking of Dawn as a real person, almost as a friend who needed a shoulder to cry on or someone to try bolstering her confidence now and again.  My heart certainly went out to her in the midst of her panic and worries, especially when she was suffering with morning sickness and trying to maintain a front of normality.
I loved that Allie was there in the background at the café, on hand to offer peppermint cordial and ginger cookies to help her friend, that’s the sort of friend we all need!  And it was nice to see that the relationship between Allie and Chris from book one has continued to blossom.

A special mention has to go to Wallace and Lula the guinea pigs, absolutely loved these guys and was chuckling aloud at certain parts of the books where these guys were involved!

The perfect book to read with a cuppa and a cheeky chocolate biscuit, but at least the book is calorie free!  Cannot recommend this series enough, so warm, so lovely and just what you need on a cold afternoon.
Looking forward to the next installment of the series now, Winter at The Cosy Cottage Café.

 

You can buy a copy of Autumn at the Cosy Cottage Café via Amazon

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** My thanks to Sarah at Bombshell Books for the opportunity to read a copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog blitz **

Description:

I would rather love passionately for an hour than benignly for a lifetime.”

In a house full of history and secrets, the past will not stay where it belongs…

Lou has always loved Hill House, the derelict manor on the abandoned land near her home. As a child, the tragic history of its owners, the Mandevilles, inspired her dream to become a history teacher. But in her late twenties, and working in a shop to pay off student debts, life is passing her by.

That changes when a family disaster sends Lou’s life into a downward spiral and she seeks comfort in the ruined corridors of Hill House. The house transforms around her and Lou is transported back to Christmas 1913. Convinced she has been in an accident and is in a coma, Lou immerses herself in her Edwardian dream. With the Mandevilles oblivious to her true identity, Lou becomes their houseguest and befriends the eldest son, Captain Thomas Mandeville, a man she knows is destined to die in the First World War.

Lou feels more at home in the past than the present and when she realises the experience is real she sets out to do everything in her power to save her new friends.

Lou passes between 1913 and 2013, unearthing plots of murder and blackmail, which she must stop no matter the cost.

On her quest to save the Mandevilles by saving Thomas, Lou will face the hardest decision of her life. She will learn that love cannot be separated by a century.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Callie Longridge has crafted a very special story here, and something about this book still lingers on after I’ve finished reading it – always a good sign for me.

I am a fan of historical fiction so this book instantly appealed to me, I wasn’t put off by the time lapse concept at all and was intrigued to see how the author would work this into the plot, and indeed to see if she would pull it off.  I needn’t have worried, Langridge did a wonderful job and and her writing is exceptional.  The attention to detail in the descriptions throughout transported me to the settings, I felt that I was seeing the house myself and not just through the eyes of Lou.

I won’t say too much about the plot, I always fear giving away something that will spoil the book for others or will give some sort of hint about what’s to come in the story.  But I will say that I loved the idea that Lou sought solace and escape in Hill House, a place she had loved since her childhood and the place that stemmed her love of history at a young age.  From there her adventure really begins, slipping back into 1913 and becoming wrapped up with the lives of the occupants of the house at the time, the Mandeville family.  Lou is a wonderful character that I think many readers will take into their hearts, she is a caring and interesting character and watching events play out makes you want to reach out to her, embrace her and wish for the best to occur.

The pace of this novel was just right, the story flowed well and the way that the time slips were written worked perfectly.

For me, this story is just as much about love and family as it is about secrets and mystery – a perfect combination!

You can buy a copy of A Time to Change via:

Amazon

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

 

Description:

Can you really tell the difference between madness and sanity?
Mark Randall goes to great lengths to get himself admitted to an acute psychiatric ward and, despite being mute, convinces professionals that he is psychotic. But who is he and why is he so keen to spend time in a psychiatric hospital?
When Mark is admitted, silent and naked, the staff are suspicious about his motives.
Dealing with this, as well as the patients on the ward, Mark’s troubles really begin once he is Sectioned under the Mental Health Act. When decisions about his future are handed to Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Giles Sharman, Mark’s life is about to go from bad to worse.
Drugged, abused and in danger, Mark looks for a way out of this nightmare. But he’s about to learn, proving that you are sane might not be easy as it seems…

My Thoughts & Review:

When you read a description like the one for A Justifiable Madness you can’t help but be intrigued.  What on earth is going on in this book?  Why would you want to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital voluntarily with no need to be there?!  The minute I saw this I just knew I had to get reading immediately!

Mark Randall is a very strange character, who from the outset seems to be a little (ok big bit) odd, his actions and public nudity get him arrested and committed to a psychiatric ward in hospital, but all the while readers are aware of something else, something under the surface that’s so cleverly just out of reach that they can’t quite reach it.  Whilst the narration from Mark clearly makes him appear fully compos mentis and self aware, he is doing his damnedest to ensure that the staff on the ward believe he is mentally ill and in need of treatment.
Astutely, the author includes narration from other perspectives in this book to increase the tension and intrigue.  The two nurses on duty when Mark is admitted to the unit are wonderfully bright and interesting characters, and it is from the viewpoint of one of these nurses that we “see” Mark.  Monica gives a great insight into the care and treatment of the patients in the unit and there were a few moments that I found were quite eye opening to read about.

Without saying too much about the plot, I will say there is a creeping unease throughout the storyline, and as a reader you are aware that danger lurks ahead.  You can almost feel something isn’t right and that things could well go wrong for Mark but at the same time you can’t put the book down.  You want to know what happens and the way that this is written is superb at hooking you in and holding your attention.

A fantastically gripping read that I struggled to put down!

You can buy a copy of A Justifiable Madness via:

Amazon

 

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Hello and welcome along to The Quiet Knitter!  It’s Friday, and that can only mean one thing (well for here anyway!), it’s time for another post to “Celebrate Indie Publishing”.
This week I am delighted to bring you a book from No Exit Press and I thoroughly recommend checking them out both as they have some cracking books to offer!  Today’s book in the spotlight is “Deadly Alibi” by Leigh Russell and she’s kindly taken some time out to face a grilling for the author feature.


Book Feature:

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A hand gripped her upper arm so suddenly it made her yelp. Biting her lower lip, she spun round, lashing out in terror. As she yanked her arm out of his grasp, her elbow hit the side of his chest. Struggling to cling on to her, he lost his footing. She staggered back and reached out, leaning one hand on the cold wall of the tunnel. Before she had recovered her balance he fell, arms flailing, eyes glaring wildly as he disappeared over the edge of the platform onto the rails below. . .

Two murder victims and a suspect whose alibi appears open to doubt… Geraldine Steel is plunged into a double murder investigation which threatens not only her career, but her life. And then her previously unknown twin Helena turns up, with problems which are about to make Geraldine’s life turn toxic in more ways than one.

For fans of Rachel Abbott, Angela Marsons and Robert Bryndza

Look out for more DI Geraldine Steel investigations in Cut Short, Road Closed, Dead End, Death Bed, Stop Dead, Fatal Act, Killer Plan, Murder Ring and Deadly Alibi

 

My Thoughts & Review:

I think it’s only fair to admit that I broke my own rule with a series….I started this series on book 9!  But I will be going back and binge reading the previous 8 as soon as I can as I loved Geraldine Steel and want to know more about how she got to this point in her life and career.  So rest assured, if like me you are impatient to read this book, it can be read as a stand alone.  Leigh Russell has included ample detail to give readers a good grounding of DI Steel as well as the events surrounding her to make this an enjoyable read for new audiences but adds in details that will delight fans of the series.

To rehash the plot in this review would do this book an injustice, suffice to say that I don’t think I could without giving mammoth spoilers!  There is so much going on in this book that it’s like being on a rollercoaster.  One moment you’re gently putting the pieces together to try and work out who’s behind the heinous acts and the next you’re on the edge of your seat, frantically speed reading to find out what’s going to happen next!  It’s the sort of book you need to give all your attention to, and I was fortunate that I managed to read this in one day so I could feel the tension woven through the plot, become immersed in desperation and frustration being felt by the characters as they were led into a whirlpool of doubt caused by the suspicions around them.

A superb crime thriller with so many exciting and intriguing plot points, the case that DI Steel works on fast becomes addictive reading, and as readers try to piece together the clues it’s impossible not to start jumping to conclusions.  I will admit to being fooled by the red herrings that were cleverly placed in the plot, I thought like the police initially and could have kicked myself once I realised…..fantastic writing!!.

I would absolutely recommend Leigh Russell’s DI Steel series based on this one book alone, it’s fair to say she’s secured a new fan!  Now off to No Exit’s website to buy all the other books!

You can buy a copy of Deadly Alibi via:

No Exit Press (publisher’s website)
Amazon UK


Author Feature:

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After many years teaching English in secondary school, internationally bestselling author Leigh Russell now writes crime fiction full time. Published in English and in translation in Europe, her Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson titles have appeared on many bestseller lists, including #1 on kindle. Leigh’s work has been nominated for several major awards, including the CWA New Blood Dagger and CWA Dagger in the Library, and her Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson series are in development for television with Avalon Television Ltd.
Journey to Death is the first title in her Lucy Hall series published by Thomas and Mercer.

 

 

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

What I like most about being an author is not having to get up early to go to work. I love writing. Nothing will stop me when I’m feeling creative – or if I have a publisher’s deadline looming – but now I can start my working day in bed if I feel like it. For me, that is pure luxury, especially on a cold winter’s morning.

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

This is a hard question to answer as I genuinely love everything about the writing process, from typing the first words of a new book, to completing final edits. It can be hard. Sometimes a plot doesn’t work out in a realistic way, a character refuses to behave as I had intended, or my editor points out a gaffe, and I invariably have to spend time sorting out my muddled timelines. But on the whole I love every aspect of writing and consider myself extremely fortunate to have fallen into a career I enjoy so much.

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

That is an impossible question to answer, as it’s equivalent to asking which is my favourite book. There are so many to choose from that I can’t pick just one.

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

Is there ever a time for a writer when he or she is not plotting a book? Eugene Ionesco said “A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of writing or thinking about writing.” That tends to be my experience. Other than that, I love spending time with my family.

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

When I started writing I had essential rituals, certain pencils, and particular locations, but with fifteen books to my name, I have become far more relaxed about external props. All I need is my ipad, my keyboard, and my ideas, and I can write anywhere. I have a desk at home where I do most of my writing, but I’m equally happy writing on a train, a plane, a beach, in a coffee shop, in bed, in my garden – because I carry my writing space with me in my head. And when I’m writing, I’m not really in any of those external locations, I’m thinking and feeling as a character in a fictitious world. I’m Geraldine Steel, puzzling over enigmatic clues, or a killer working out how to dispose of a body without being caught….

 

A huge thank you to Leigh for taking part and for sharing some more about herself, it’s always nice to get to know the person behind a book.
If you would like to know more about Leigh and her books, check out the following links:

On Twitter:  @LeighRussell @LeighRussell
Website: http://www.leighrussell.co.uk/


 

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