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Archive for May, 2018

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** My thanks to Emma at damppebbles blog tours & Fahrenheit Press for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Two cops, both on different sides of the law – both with the same gangland boss in their sights.

Sam Batford is an undercover officer with the Metropolitan Police who will stop at nothing to get his hands on fearsome crime-lord Vincenzo Guardino’s drug supply.

DCI Klara Winter runs a team on the National Crime Agency, she’s also chasing down Guardino, but unlike Sam Batford she’s determined to bring the gangster to justice and get his drugs off the streets.

Set in a time of austerity and police cuts where opportunities for corruption are rife, Rubicon is a tense, dark thriller that is definitely not for the faint hearted.

My Thoughts & Review:

Rubicon is a book that you pick up when you have a free day, it’s the sort of book that once you start, you will not want to put it down again.  It’s gripping, it’s dark and it’s utterly thrilling!

The narrative is seen from the perspective of two characters, DS Sam Batford and DCI Klara Winter, and for all intent and purposes they are on the same team but their end goals are vastly different.
Batford is an undercover agent with Metropolitan Police, and the impression he gives through his somewhat narcissistic narrative is that he’s a renegade, a damned good one though.  He’s a bit of a loose cannon, but he seems to get results, even if he doesn’t follow the rule book.
Winter on the other hand is the polar opposite, she follows the rules, she works as part of a team, and there’s no question as to whether she may be rogue or not.  Through a series of diary/journal like entries, the reader is privy to her frustrations and anger at how the current case is progressing and the politics between police departments.

It’s clear from the snappy writing that the author has experience of policing and his ability to say so much without overdoing it is superb.  The plot is pacy and taught, the characters are the sort that you almost want them to be caught out, you almost want to see Batford get caught out at times … even just to see him talk his way out of it.

It’s an action packed, thrilling read that grabs the reader from the outset and leaves you wondering who exactly the bad guy is.  It’s clever, the plotting is great and characterisation spot on!
Ian Patrick is an author I will be keeping an eye on from now on and Rubicon is highly recommended!

You can buy a copy of Rubicon via:

Amazon UK
Fahrenheit Press (Publisher)

 

About the Author:

Educated in Nottingham, Ian left school at sixteen. After three years in the Civil Service he moved to London for a career in the Metropolitan Police.

He spent twenty-seven years as a police officer, the majority as a detective within the Specialist Operations Command. A career in policing is a career in writing. Ian has been used to carrying a book and pen and making notes.

Now retired, the need to write didn’t leave and evolved into fiction.

Ian’s Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/IPatrick_Author

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ian-Patrick/e/B075VB1MP4/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

 

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I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Orenda Books blog tour for the latest novel by Paul Hardisty, which is sadly the last of the Claymore Straker series.  Whilst it’s the last of the series, word is it’s quite possibly one of the best too … be sure to check out some of the reviews on the blog tour if you don’t believe me!

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Description:

It is 1997, eight months since vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker fled South Africa after his explosive testimony to Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In Paris, Rania LaTour, journalist, comes home to find that her son and her husband, a celebrated human rights lawyer, have disappeared. On an isolated island off the coast of East Africa, the family that Clay has befriended is murdered as he watches.

So begins the fourth instalment in the Claymore Straker series, a breakneck journey through the darkest reaches of the human soul, as Clay and Rania fight to uncover the mystery behind the disappearances and murders, and find those responsible. Events lead them both inexorably to Egypt, where an act of the most shocking terrorist brutality will reveal not only why those they loved were sacrificed, but how they were both, indirectly, responsible.
Relentlessly pursued by those who want them dead, they must work together to uncover the truth, and to find a way to survive in a world gone crazy. At times brutal, often lyrical, but always gripping, Absolution is a thriller that will leave you breathless and questioning the very basis of how we live and why we love.

You can buy a copy of Absolution via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Orenda eBookstore

This blog tour is about my new novel, Absolution, the fourth (and at this stage I think, last) of the Claymore Straker series. I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. The female lead character has her own voice, delivered through her diary. I enjoyed writing it. A lot of the stuff in there is pretty personal. Stuff I experienced, places I went, true things that happened. I hope you enjoy it, if you get a chance to read it.

But being a writer, even one who works full time at another job, means writing.  So I am already working on a new book. It’s almost done now. I’m not quite sure yet what it is. It’s quite different to the Straker thrillers.  More literary. More introspective, perhaps. The subtitle is unofficially: Imagining My Own Death. I’m not sure yet what the main title will be. It takes the form of a series of stories that fit together to tell the story of two interlinked lives. Here is the opening story. It’s called First Snow:

 

Looking back, the old man was no longer sure if this realisation was new, had come upon him slowly over years, or if perhaps, somehow, he’d known it back then, as a child. This lack of certainty did not change the truth of it, he knew. The world was entirely different, now. In tone and texture, in scale and colour and voice, in the abundance of animals and birds, in the everyday behaviour of people, in the places that were covered in trees and bushes and meadows and were later transformed into houses and roads and shopping centres. Even the weather was different, back then.

It was the year before the men came and cut down all the big Elms on their street. Summer had been hot, had seemed to last forever. Autumn had come, the first frosts, and the boy’s father piled the gold and red leaves into mountains on the front lawn. The boy loved to jump into the leaves and roll inside the pile until he was completely covered, the sweet smell of the new-dead leaves strong inside him so that the old man could smell it now, so much closer to the end than the beginning.

The boy knew it was close. Days were shorter. Three mornings in a row now he’d awoken to see frost crusting the grass, icing the naked branches of the trees. Porridge for breakfast, mittens and hats to school, steam in your breath, Christmas coming. Hockey season close, perhaps a new pair of skates if he was lucky. Time thick and heavy and viscous, unwilling to be rushed, infinite. Completely trustworthy. And the boy, who had not yet learned of Relativity, had no conception of time’s variant properties, its fluidity, its ultimate dependency on the observer.

And every night the boy would lie in his bed and stare at the window and the glow from the streetlight through the curtains, and the slow progress of a car’s passing headlights thrown as a wedge of light angling left to right across the ceiling, and he’d hope that tomorrow would be the day.

Sometimes, lying in the darkness, unable to sleep, he’d think about his father’s gun. He’d found it in the closet in his bedroom, hidden inside a shoe box in the back amongst a pile of other boxes. It was a short thing, with a barrel that spun like the ones he’d seen cops carrying on TV, and spaces for six bullets. Smith & Wesson it said on the handle. He found the bullets, too. He wasn’t sure how to work it, how to open the barrel up so you could put the bullets in. He’d tried putting them in from the front but they didn’t fit. He knew he wasn’t supposed to play with it, that it was dangerous. He didn’t tell anyone about it, put it all back the way he found it. Except for three bullets. Those he kept. There was a whole box. No one would miss them. He’d put them into his treasure tin, hidden it away in his desk drawer.

In his head he knew how it would be. He’d wake and it would still be dark. The first thing he’d notice would be the quiet. As if someone had thrown a blanket over the city, muffling its groans, its cries and complaints. He’d jump down from his bed and run to the window, duck under the heavy curtains. His little brother would be there beside him. He’d help him up onto the ledge so he could see out. And there it would be. A new world. Everything transformed, softened somehow, all the hard edges rounded out, corniced and bevelled, houses and cars and trees, the street and the curbs and gutters made pure. And in the yellow cone of lamplight, thick heavy flakes streaming down and down.

The boy lay listening to his brother’s slow rhythmic breathing drifting up from the lower bunk. The occasional rattle of the radiator, the gurgle as the hot water flowed into the pipes. The wind in the trees outside the window. He was warm and safe and excited. Tomorrow might be the day.

 

FINAL Absolution blog poster 2018

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** My thanks to the wonderful Karen at Orenda Books for my copy of Fault Lines **

 

Description:

 

A little lie … a seismic secret … and the cracks are beginning to show…

In a reimagined contemporary Edinburgh, where a tectonic fault has opened up to produce a new volcano in the Firth of Forth, and where tremors are an everyday occurrence, volcanologist Surtsey makes a shocking discovery.
On a clandestine trip to new volcanic island The Inch, to meet Tom, her lover and her boss, she finds his lifeless body, and makes the fatal decision to keep their affair, and her discovery, a secret. Desperate to know how he died, but also terrified she’ll be exposed, Surtsey’s life quickly spirals into a nightmare when someone makes contact – someone who claims to know what she’s done…

 

My Thoughts & Review:

It’s no surprise that I have a soft spot for books set in Scotland, and there are certain locations that will always grab my attention, Edinburgh being one.  Doug Johnstone is a new author to me, I read a short story he wrote for Bloody Scotland – Painting the Forth Road Bridge and was blown away by the intensity of his writing.  I was aware of a very trusted fellow blogger raving about Fault Lines and was curious why she was so hooked by this book, so it seemed like a smart move to dive in and see what the excitement was about.

Set in an Edinburgh with a difference, the reader is plunged into a world of volcanology and death.  The shifting tectonic plates of the Earth have caused the formation/eruption of a volcano in the Firth of Forth, which brings regular seismic activity for the surrounding areas.  This backdrop is perfectly matched to the clever plot, the brooding malevolence of the volcano ties perfectly with a fast paced thrilling read that has you holding your breath in anticipation.

When an author can transport you to the location of their book and let you “see” the landscape through their words is one thing, but the way that Johnstone writes means that his readers can experience another sensation, they can feel what goes on in Fault Lines.  The way that the tremors are described feels so tangible, the threat that volcano poses feels so real and the feel of the water as Surtsey’s boat sails between The Inch and the mainland are just some examples of the wonderful writing that awaits readers in this book.  There’s a marvelouslly hypnotic quality to Johnstone’s writing, it’s utterly engrossing and you stop trying to guess ahead about “the who”, “the what” or “the why”, and just sit back and revel in the small details of the such an intricately plotted masterpiece.

The fragility of human psychology is deftly explored, emotions are laid bare and the rawness of grief and the associated disbelief at events makes this such a powerful read.  The characters are cleverly crafted, Surtsey is an extremely interesting character that you cannot quite fully fathom out.  Her thoughts and actions don’t always seem to make complete sense to the reader, her responses to the events around her are driven by feelings of grief, confusion and desperation.  It’s almost poetic to think of her as being as the personification of the volcano in a way, a dominant presence with glimpses of fragility and instability, but also with indeterminate power, leaving readers wondering what will happen next.

A highly recommended thriller that’s clever and imaginative, and will leave readers reeling!

You can buy a copy of Fault Lines via:

Amazon UK
Orenda Books eBookstore

FINAL Fault Lines blog poster 2018

 

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Today I am thrilled to share an extract with you from Sue Bentley’s We Other as part of the blog tour, and there’s a giveaway to win a signed copy of the book and a personal letter from Sue!

Description:We Other with quote V2

Family secrets, changelings, and fairies you never want to meet on a dark night.

Jess Morgan’s life has always been chaotic.

When a startling new reality cannot be denied, it’s clear that everything she believed about herself is a lie. She is linked to a world where humans – ‘hot-bloods’ – are disposable entertainment. Life on a run-down estate – her single mum’s alcoholism and violent boyfriend – become the least of Jess’s worries.

 

 

 

 

You can buy a copy of We Other via:

Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com

Context – Jess Morgan hates her life on the run-down housing estate. She and her single mum have moved more times that she can remember. Things have become worse lately, since her mum’s new boyfriend moved in. There’s not a lot going for Jess between bunking off college and wandering the streets. But she sometimes spends time with Mike, the homeless guy who lives in the nearby underpass.

 

 

Mike bustled about, digging beneath the cardboard. Pulling out a couple of flattened but reasonably clean cushions, he placed them on the floor.

 ‘Take a pew.’

 ‘Thanks.’ Jess sat down, cross-legged.

She leaned against a piece of cardboard, while Mike found a tiny single-ring stove from somewhere. He poured water from a ridged plastic bottle into a cleaned-out soup tin. Turning his back, he bent over the stove. Jess heard a faint crackle as the burner ignited and he set the water to boil. She watched as he produced two clean jam jars and then took a brown paper package from his pocket. Crumbling dried leaves, he added them to the hot water. The smell of herbs floated into the air.

‘From the allotments at the back of the garage,’ Mike explained. ‘Couple of blokes there let me help myself to fresh water and whatever’s in season. I give them a hand with weeding, clearing up, burning rubbish. Pretty much keeps me going.’

‘Bartering.’ Jess nodded. ‘We’re supposed to be living in a global village, but you wouldn’t know it around here.’

‘Mmm.’ Mike raised his eyebrows, in a ‘so what’ gesture.

She supposed the outside world wasn’t that important to him. He lived a life alongside society, without taking much of a part in it.

He tipped the straw-coloured liquid into the jars and then handed one to Jess. ‘Careful it’s hot.’

She noticed that the wrists exposed in the gap between his gloves and frayed coat sleeves were very pale and fine-boned. Beneath all the layers of clothes and the matted hair and beard, Mike was stick thin. She cupped the tea in her hands and sipped. Peppermint and lemon balm. It was very good, strong and aromatic.

‘So how long have you lived under here?’

‘I come and go. Maybe a year and a half, all told.’

 ‘Same as Mum and me.’

 ‘Is that right?’ Mike sipped his tea. ‘Do you like it here?’

Jess wrinkled her nose. ‘We’ve lived in worse places than Limefield Mansions.’

 ‘Sorry to hear that.’

She shrugged. ‘Yeah, well. You get what life hands out, don’t you?’

 Mike nodded, solemnly. ‘True enough.’ His expression softened as if he were looking inwards.

 ‘We’re not staying here. I’ve got plans,’ Jess said, surprisingly herself. She didn’t usually talk about her home-life.

‘Oh?’ His eyes widened. They were bright, like black beads – robin’s eyes – and surrounded by smooth unlined flesh.

Jess was struck by the fact that Mike was much younger than he appeared to the casual eye. But there was a maturity about him, as if he had lived for a long time or experienced a great deal. For some reason, she felt she could trust him.

 She breathed in the fragrant steam of her tea. ‘I’m waiting for Mum to get fed up with Leon sponging off us and chuck him out of the flat. She gets depressed and drinks too much. Leon’s no good for her. He drinks even more than she does. It was better when we were on our own. She didn’t drink all the time then. But she has a knack for picking guys who let her down. Some of them have been OK, but most didn’t want a kid hanging around. Leon’s the last of a bad lot. Sorry…’ She grinned. ‘I’m waffling on a bit.’

 ‘I don’t mind.’

They drank the tea in companionable silence. Mike didn’t comment or offer advice. He just waited for her to continue. Encouraged, Jess carried on unguardedly.

‘Maybe we’ll go somewhere in the country. I hate towns and busy roads. Carbon emissions and stuff, you know? I’m allergic to the pollution. The air burns my lungs and it’s hard to breathe. And the metal. You can’t get away from it. It makes a constant noise that makes my head ring. …’ She paused, self-consciously.

Mike was listening closely. ‘It’s the iron. City living is hard for our kind,’ he said, softly and with great intensity. ‘We’re not shaped for it. Change has come too fast for us and is coming ever faster.’

‘I’ll be leaving college in a few months, so it doesn’t matter if we take off. No one’s going to add me to a missing persons list. I’ll get a job. Find a way to help Mum quit drinking. I can take care of both of us…’ Jess hadn’t been fully listening, but then the strangeness of Mike’s last comment filtered through.

Our kind? She gave him a searching look. ‘What do you mean? We’re not shaped for city living?’

Mike’s expression changed. There was a long pause, while she waited for his reply. She thought he was about to tell her something important. Then his bright eyes flickered away briefly, before coming back to rest on her face, and the moment passed.

Giveaway

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For your chance to win a signed copy of We Other and a personal letter from Sue, simply follow this link to the Rafflecopter giveaway! This giveaway is open internationally.  Good luck!

Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

 

About the Author: We Other - Sue author pic 5

Sue Bentley discovered a love of books at an early age. She worked for Northamptonshire Libraries for many years, while teaching herself the craft of writing. She is the author of the worldwide bestselling Magic Kitten, Magic Puppy, Magic Ponies, Magic Bunny series for age 5-9 years. She also writes for children and adults under various pen names. A lover of English Folklore, her books often contain elements of the otherworld and the darkness within the everyday. Her books have been translated into around 20 languages. We Other is her first book for Young Adults.

Social Media Links – 
https://twitter.com/suebentleywords
 
https://facebook.com/suebentleyauthor
  
https://instagram.com/therealsuebentley

https://www.suebentley.co.uk
https://Goodreads.com/suebentleyauthor

 

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Hello and welcome along to another Celebrating Indie Publishing post!  I am delighted to be be able to shine a spotlight on some truly wonderful indie authors and publishers out there, and today is no exception.  I am joined by Steve Catto, the author of Snowflakes.

Snowflakes was published on 25 April 2017 and is available to purchase via Amazon UK and sounds very intriguing.  I promised that I wouldn’t add any more books to my mountainous “To Be Read” pile, but I think I might have to make an exception with this one, there’s something about this one that’s screaming “READ ME!”

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Two lost girls become involved in a love triangle with Sam, a hunter, after setting up house in an abandoned old cottage near a river.

Life appears perfect, until one of the girls discovers what Sam really does when he goes out hunting at night, and then the fabric of their dream world begins to unravel.

Can following their dreams take any of them home, and what does that mean anyway?

Who is the girl that never speaks, and what are the strange shapes that appear in the half-light? Is their existence being shadowed by a darker force and, if so, why does it seem determined to help them?

A journey involving secrets whispered on the riverbank under Arcadian skies, evenings around the fire and deep introspection about the meaning of life. Also mystery, suspense, swords, guns, assassinations… and a small monkey.

 


Author Feature:

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Photo: Kristie Louise Herd

 

Steve Catto is an old man, or at least that’s what it says on his birth certificate. He was born in Yorkshire, but his parents took him to Australia when he was six years old and he grew up there, sometimes racing cars across the desert.

He was never very good at school, but the one thing he did learn was how to learn, and he started writing programs for the computer at the local university, much to the disdain of his teachers who told him that he would ‘never make a living out of that rubbish’. In his late teens he returned to the UK, and his parents followed him – which wasn’t what he wanted because he was hoping to get away from them.

His first proper job was in the computer department of an infamous Oxford publishing company, and he subsequently went on to write software for electricity control systems, and simulators for the military. He started to fly gliders and wrote programs to analyse the data from aircraft flight recorders, where he also learned to fly, and crash, lots of other types of aircraft as well – which was the best part of the job.

At various times in his career he has also lived and worked in France, Switzerland, and Canada, and he now lives in Scotland. Since appearing in school plays as a child he has performed almost continuously on the amateur stage, and spent a few years scuba diving. These two things have nothing to do with each other.

In terms of his pedigree as an author he has written many technical manuals and filled in countless timesheets, so is well versed in the art of conjuring up works of fiction, however he has never written a novel before, especially not one that involves a blonde girl and a man with a bow and arrow, but he did once spend three weeks working in a factory that made handles for buckets.

 

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

Having an outlet for my ideas.  I’ve always wanted to write fiction as a form of expression.  Reading back a paragraph or a chapter, and seeing all the imagery rebuilding itself in my mind is a wonderful experience.  It’s a feeling of achievement, of satisfaction.  I’ve never felt that in anything else I’ve done in my life.

I also love organising things like the cover and the layout, and finally getting back something that smells like a book.

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

Marketing.  I’m really not good at selling myself and, for me anyway, that’s one of the killer things.  If I had a traditional publisher of course that would be different, but I don’t and I’ve never tried to find one.

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

Oh dear.  I’ve been asked this twice before and I think I’ve given different answers both times.  It would have to be one of the typical ‘classics’ like Moby Dick – the story of the great white whale.  That’s a hard book to read and stay focused on, but I had to read it just because of the first sentence:

Call me Ishmael.

That tells me everything I need to know about the flavour of the whole book, in three words.  It tells me who the main character is and that it’s going to be a narrative. I feel an instant connection to him, and I want to hear what he has to say next.  When it follows up with:

Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.

Isn’t that beautiful?  I’m hooked on that!

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

I have a full-time job, and a wife, and two little dogs, and a camper van that we’ve been restoring for five years.  I need to start making some podcasts and keep fleshing out my blog.  I need to do some more photography, and I’ve started narrating ‘Snowflakes’ as an audiobook, which I have to do in my office in the middle of the night because it’s the only place that’s silent enough.

I really ought to make an eighth day for the week – that would fix a lot of problems – but I don’t have the time.

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

Apart from that, not really.  I do like the quietness but it doesn’t have to be silent, as long as the noise isn’t louder than my thoughts.  I always write on the computer, in Word.  It’s the best tool for me.  Strangely enough, most of my creative thinking happens at night, usually when I’m asleep.  That’s when the ideas form and join together.  That’s when the scenes play themselves out and the story makes itself up.  When I write that’s really what I’m doing – crafting words to describe the story and the scenes that I already have in my mind.  I don’t write ‘draft’.  What  I write is pretty much good to go apart from catching the typos, which my proofreader does admirably.

Rituals?  I need a mug of tea.  Life is better with a mug of tea.   When it’s empty make another.

What’s on the horizon?  What can your fans look forward to next?

A sequel to ‘Snowflakes’.

There is one character from that book, a mysterious little girl who never spoke, who was always in the background.  We never knew much about her.   We didn’t find out who she was, where she came from, where she went, or what she wanted but she clearly had a bigger part to play in the story than anyone imagined.  Only the reader realises how important she is, the other characters don’t, and even the reader doesn’t know exactly what she did in the story.  They only have a suspicion that there’s a lot more to her than meets the eye.

The sequel is her back-story.  Although it’s designed to be read in isolation, it dovetails in with the plot of the first book in places so if the reader has also read the first book they will get to see some of the plots and scenes from her perspective.  If they haven’t, it doesn’t matter because the story still makes sense.

They say there are two sides to every story, and then there’s the truth.

To find out the other side of the story we have to go back ‘Into The Darkness’.

Whether we’ll find the truth there is another matter.

Finally, if you could impart one pearl of wisdom to your readers, what would it be?

To my readers!  Gosh, well they will realise that there are two basic types of book.  One where the plot and the characters are everything and the words are just there to tell the story and you don’t notice them, like the background music in a film. If you notice it then it’s bad!  The other type of books are ones where the words are as enjoyable as the plots and the characters, and the words are written to be noticed.

Enjoy the words.  Every one is there for a purpose.  Not one word exists in any of my books unless I think it needs to be there and adds something to the story.  I wrote every one of them… just for you.

 

Can you tell me a little about your latest book?  How would you describe it and why should we go read it?

If you want a story involving people and adventures, with unexpected twists and turns and strange but believable happenings, mixed with the odd spot of humour, I think you will like this book.  It’s been described as containing ‘elements of magical realism in a real-world setting … with a literary feel’, and a lot of reviewers like the prose and the world-building.  Some feel it starts too slowly, but someone else said that it ‘…simmers, and then it boils, and then it explodes’ which means they got it!  There’s no instant gratification, nobody has sex or gets killed on the first page.

It has a darker side to it if you look deeper, because ‘Snowflakes’ is written with a plot that exists on several levels.  It will make you think about life, if you want to.

In the simplest form, it’s a story about two girls who find themselves separated from their comfortable surroundings and thrown into a different world where they meet up with Sam, a hunter, and set up house together in an abandoned old cottage by a river.  At some point they’re joined by another little girl, who is somewhat of a mystery.  Life seems good until one of the girls discovers what Sam really does when he goes out hunting at night.  He lives other lives and has other adventures apart from the one he shares with them.  From that point on their relationships deteriorate, and their seemingly idyllic existence turns into a dystopic one where the only escape appears to be death.  For one of them, it is.

At another level, their physical world mirrors their emotional one, which calls into question the correlation between cause and effect.

They live in a forest clearing near a big bend in a river, with hills away across a plain to the back so, just as they are ‘trapped’ in an isolated existence where there is nowhere to go, they are also effectively trapped in their physical surroundings.  In their relationships there are good times and bad times, just as there are beautiful days where the sun sparkles off the ripples in the river, and nights talking by the fire-pit, and lazy evenings laid on the riverbank watching a million stars burn holes through a velvet sky.  But also rain and storms and billions of snowflakes, one for every soul in the world, and no two the same, or so we are led to believe.  The gently flowing river could be interpreted as a metaphor for life and its path which leads away in both directions could be viewed as a journey.

The story alludes to the possibility of escape, of understanding and perhaps even finding the physical and emotional places that the characters might call home, and whether Sam could take them to either, or both.  This is a futile exercise in hope as their physical world deteriorates in parallel with their emotional one.

In the end, living as a threesome proves intolerable so plots are laid and death is afoot, for someone.

But, at yet another level, perhaps everything is not as it seems.  Perhaps the world itself has something to say about all this.  Perhaps it has plans of its own.

And the mysterious little girl with the big eyes and the long black hair who never speaks and doesn’t seem to do much?

Maybe this was her idea all along…

 

Social Media Links:

Author website: https://stevecatto.blog/

Book site: https://snowflakes.blog/

Twitter:  @SteveCatto

Buy your copy of Snowflakes via Amazon UK

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My thanks to Steve for joining me today and sharing some wonderfully thoughtful ideas, I do agree, life is much better with tea!  The sound of the follow up to Snowflakes sounds really interesting and I love the idea of the intricate plot and the way it weaves together, I look forward to reading it!

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** My thanks to Lina at Black and White Publishing for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

The Gravity of Love is a moving and poignant read that explores topics such as love, family and loss through exceptionally vivid writing.

Noëlle Harrison paints a wonderfully rich picture with words that brings each of the settings to life from the pages.  The two main characters, Joy and Lewis meet in Arizona and there’s a connection there that neither of them fully understands but a friendship of sorts forms.  Both of these characters has a yearning for a life much different from the one they are living, Joy feeling the call of the ocean and bereft following the death of her father.  The unearthing of secrets shakes the foundations that her life has been built upon and drives her to contemplate the path her life has taken and who she really is. 

Lewis on the other hand, misses the life he once had in London.  Through a series of recollections of the 1960s and before, the reader begins to see that there is so much to this character, his childhood, his family, it all added up to shape the person he became.  His tale is one that gives the reader pause for thought, the actions taken and the decisions, whether right or wrong propelling him towards a path that ultimately leads him to the deserts of Arizona.

The way that the characters develop throughout the novel is endearing to watch, seeing Joy gradually becoming aware of the life she wants, and making the decisions to follow what’s in her heart instead of doing what’s expected of her.  Lewis faces up to the the decisions of his past, realising that he needs to atone and find answers.

Weaving together the different stories and separate timelines so expertly makes this such a special and intriguing read, there were points that I wanted to cry out in frustration for the characters, their lives feeling so real to me.  There were points of the plot that dawned on me and made me realise that I perhaps judged a character too harshly or perhaps not harshly enough!

A wonderful book with a tale that reaches out to the hearts of its readers.

You can buy a copy of The Gravity of Love via:

Amazon UK
Wordery

 

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** My thanks to Emma at damppebbles and Chris at Fahrenheit Press for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Dan Groves is a television reporter newly assigned to the crime beat and not at all happy about it.

Dan knows next nothing about police work or how to report on it, so when he persuades Detective Chief Inspector Adam Breen to allow him to shadow a high-profile murder inquiry it seems like the perfect solution. Sadly for Dan it soon becomes clear some members of the police force have no intention of playing nice with the new boy.

With his first case Dan is dropped in at the deep-end. A man is killed in a lay-by with a blast through the heart from a shotgun. The victim is notorious local businessman Edward Bray, a man with so many enemies there are almost too many suspects for the police to eliminate.

As tensions rise Dan comes close to being thrown off the case until the detectives realise that far from being a liability, Dan might actually be the key to tempting the murderer into a trap.

The TV Detective is the first book in a classic crime series from Simon Hall, who until recently was the BBC Crime Correspondent for the Devon and Cornwall area.

My Thoughts & Review:

I do love a crime thriller that veers away from the typical mould and The TV Detective does exactly that.  The lead investigative character in this book is a journalist who up until recently was happy covering stories about nature and the outdoors, but a new assignment to crime completely throws him into the deep end.

Some quick and ingenious thinking sees journalist Dan Groves liaising with Detective Chief Inspector Adam Breen and his team on the murder of much hated local business man Edward Bray, a baptism of fire for Dan as he grapples to learn the ropes of police work and limitations of evidence.

This is a case that twists with no shortage of suspects, but the evidence never seems to point the detectives in a true direction.  And as the investigation opens up, it soon becomes clear that the team have their work cut out for them.  Edward Bray was a much hated man, and it would appear that years of his despicable actions left many connected with him aggrieved and out for vengeance if the opportunity ever presented itself.
By using a journalist as the leading character, the investigation opens up for readers, allowing them to experience the case as it moves along, the typical police procedural path being ignored for a more exciting and interesting route in storytelling.

The depiction of Dan Groves is an interesting one, readers see hints towards a troubled past, something haunts him and lingers in the shadows of his mind and readers can only guess what taunts him on his dark days but it’s clear that he has found a way to live with his past.  The relationship, bond, companionship … whatever you want to call it, that develops between Groves and Breen is interesting, the characters work well together and despite initial issues between their professions.

The plotting is clever and slick, the readers are kept very much in the dark about the who and why, Simon Hall only revealing details when he’s ready to shock the audience after lulling them into a false sense of security.

An interesting and enjoyable read in what I hope is the first of a long series!

You can buy a copy of The TV Detective via:

Fahrenheit Press (Publisher)
Amazon UK

 

About the Author:

Simon Hall is an author and journalist.

He has been a broadcaster for twenty five years, mostly as a BBC Television and Radio News Correspondent, covering some of the biggest stories Britain has seen.

His books – the tvdetective series – are about a television reporter who covers crimes and gets so involved in the cases he helps the police to solve them. Seven have been published.

Simon has also contributed articles and short stories to a range of newspapers and magazines, written plays, and even a pantomime.

Alongside his novels and stories, Simon is a tutor in media skills and creative writing, teaching at popular Writers’ Summer Schools such as Swanwick and Winchester, on cruise ships and overseas.

Simon has also become sought after as a speaker, appearing at a variety of prestigious literary festivals. His talks combine an insight into his writing work, along with some extraordinary anecdotes from the life of a television reporter, including the now notorious story of What to do when you really need a dead otter.

Now 49 years old, he began a broadcasting career as a DJ on the radio and in nightclubs, then moved into radio and TV news. He worked in Europe, London, Ireland, and the south west of England, before settling in Cambridge.

Simon is married to Jess, Director of Libraries at the University of Cambridge, and has an adopted daughter, Niamh. She’s an army officer, which makes her father both very proud and very nervous.

Simon lectures on careers in the media at Cambridge University, and in schools and colleges. Amongst his proudest achievements, he includes the number of young people he has helped into jobs in broadcasting, and aspiring writers into publication.

As for his likes, Simon lists beer – he judges at real ale festivals – cycling the countryside, solving cryptic crosswords, composing curious Tweets (find him @thetvdetective ) and studying pop lyrics.

For more on Simon, see his website – www.thetvdetective.com

Social Media Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SimonHallNews
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Simon-Hall/e/B0034Q7NPC/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1523989492&sr=1-1
Website: www.thetvdetective.com

TV Detective

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Today on Celebrating Indie Publishing I am delighted to share my thoughts of a book that was published by No Exit Press  in celebration of ten years of crime fiction at CrimeFest, the international crime fiction festival.

 

Description:

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Twenty superb new crime stories have been commissioned specially to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Crimefest, described by The Guardian as ‘one of the fifty best festivals in the world’.

A star-studded international group of authors has come together in crime writing harmony to provide a killer cocktail for noir fans; salutary tales of gangster etiquette and pitfalls, clever takes on the locked-room genre, chilling wrong-footers from the deceptively peaceful suburbs, intriguing accounts of tables being turned on hapless private eyes, delicious slices of jet black nordic noir, culminating in a stunning example of bleak amorality from crime writing doyenne Maj Sjowall.
The contributors to Ten Year Stretch are: Bill Beverly, Simon Brett, Lee Child, Ann Cleeves, Jeffery Deaver, Martin Edwards, Kate Ellis, Peter Guttridge, Sophie Hannah, John Harvey, Mick Herron, Donna Moore, Caro Ramsay, Ian Rankin, James Sallis, Zoe Sharp, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Maj Sjowall, Michael Stanley and Andrew Taylor.

The foreword is by international bestselling thriller writer Peter James. The editors are Martin Edwards, responsible for many award-winning anthologies, and Adrian Muller, CrimeFest co-founder.

All Royalties are donated to the RNIB Talking Books Library.

My Thoughts & Review:

I utterly love books like this, anthologies introduce readers to new writers and give them a glimpse into the minds of some very talented authors who can cast a literary spell on their audience in a few pages. This one in particular features some of the top crime fiction writers such as John Harvey, Ann Cleeves, Michael Stanley, Caro Ramsey and Ian Rankin to name but a few.  I have to admit there are names on this list that I’ve heard of but not actually read anything by so it was a great delight to be caught up in their worlds and discover some thrilling reads that had me on the edge of my seat from the opening lines.

I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of Ten Year Stretch from the folks at No Exit Press and when it arrived I opted to flick through it at random, stopping entirely by chance at a story to read.  I was soon immersed in a world of intrigue and held utterly captive by the writing of Kate Ellis in Crime Scene.  This was such a thrilling and exciting story that had me guessing throughout.  I loved that so much detail and atmosphere was was tightly woven into such a few pages, the writing crisp and taut, the characterisation absolutely on point.

Strangers in a Pub by Martin Edwards was another story that grabbed my attention, brilliantly plotted and fascinating reading!  The thing I loved most about this story was the “what if” moment that it planted in my head … what if things had worked out differently in this story, how vastly different this story would have worked out, how things were down to chance.  There’s just something so brilliant about a piece of writing that can get your mind spiraling and thinking along with the story.
Fans of Ian Rankin’s John Rebus will be delighted to know that Inside the Box features the much loved detective in his usual ill-tempered and sarcastic mode.

There are so many fantastic stories in here, some of them I would absolutely love to see expanded into a full length novel.
The skill it takes to write a short story awes me, to grab a reader so tightly with a story that lasts a few pages is amazing and it’s fair to say that each of the writers here have done just this.

What a spectacular way to celebrate a decade of crime fiction at CrimeFest, and even if you can’t make it to the festival this weekend in Bristol, don’t let that stop you picking up a copy of this excellent anthology!

You can buy a copy of Ten Year Stretch via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository
No Exit Press (Publisher)

 

My thanks to Katherine at No Exit Press for my copy of Ten Year Stretch and for being part of Celebrating Indie Publishing!

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** My thanks to the lovely Alison for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour for publication of her book **

 

Description:

A missing girl.
Threatening notes.
Sinister strangers.
Olivia’s idyllic family life in a Swiss mountain village is falling apart. She thought she’d managed to escape the past, but it’s coming back to haunt her.
Has somebody discovered her secret – why she had to leave Scotland more than ten years ago?
What is her connection to Marie, a lonely schoolgirl in a Yorkshire seaside town, and Lucy, a student at a Scottish university?
A story of the shadows of the past, the uncertainties of the present and how you can never really know anybody.

My Thoughts & Review:

There are books that you start reading and hate to put down, and then there are the books that that you will read whilst cooking supper and risk burning everything because you are totally entranced by the story.

This is a tense and clever thriller that leeches a menacing chill, and that’s not just from the crisp vivid Swiss setting.
Olivia on the face of things seems to have it all, the perfect family, the perfect home, but the appearance of a sinister note on day starts a catastrophic spiral that leaves her feeling like she’s lost control of her life.  The note hints that someone knows about her past, knows the real reason she left Scotland a decade ago, and Olivia cannot bear to face that.  If this wasn’t enough, the safety of her Swiss mountain is challenged when a young girl goes missing, Sandra,  is the best friend of her young daughter which makes Olivia feel so much more connected to the disappearance.

The way that Alison Baillie writes about Olivia’s emotions makes them so tangible, as a mother I could appreciate how our main character wanted to protect her children, no matter their age, from the dangers of the world.  I could sympathise with the way that she was distressed at Sandra’s disappearance, and how it left her fraught with anxiety and drove her to be cautious about her children’s travels to and from school etc.  Olivia’s worries about the sinister notes and her past are wonderfully written, readers cannot quite “see” the full details yet, but nonetheless they know that something menacing lurks in the shadows.  And as we get to know Olivia more, we can understand her actions and begin to see how she has ended up in this position.

The tale of Olivia and her life in Switzerland is superbly told along side stories of two other females, Marie and Lucy.  Both Marie and Lucy have their troubles and hardships, and it’s hard not to feel some sympathy towards them when you discover the lives they lead.  Indeed, I found at one point that I was holding my breath in shock at the events as they unfolded in their stories.
Shrewdly, the way that their lives unfolded raised the question of whether it’s nature or nurture that impacts more on a person.

I have to raise my hat to Alison Baillie,  A Fractured Winter really caught me off guard, there were so many different characters that I wanted to suspect, something about them just screamed untrustworthy, shifty or sneaky but I had nothing concrete to back up my suspicions … Baillie ensuring that I could not preempt where she would lead me, before revealing the moment where I gasped in shock and wanted to applaud her.

It’s fair to say that Alison Baillie has firmly taken a place on my list of authors to watch out for, and I cannot wait to see what she writes next!!

You can buy a copy of A Fractured Winter via:

Amazon UK

 

About the Author:

Alison Baillie portrait[2418]

Alison was brought up in the Yorkshire Dales by Scottish parents. She studied English at the University of St Andrews, before teaching English in Edinburgh secondary schools and EFL in Finland and Switzerland, where she now lives. She spends her time reading, writing, travelling, playing with her grandchildren and attending crime writing festivals.

A Fractured Winter is available at getbook.at/AFracturedWinter

You can contact her through her website: https://alisonbaillie.com or follow her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/alisonbaillieauthor/ or Twitter @alisonbailliex

 

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** My thanks to Nikki at Melville House UK for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Twenty-something Holly has moved to Brighton to escape. But now she’s here, sitting on a bench, listening to the sea sway… How is she supposed to fill the void her boyfriend left when he died, leaving her behind?

She had thought she’d want to be on her own, but when she meets Frank, a retired magician who has experienced his own loss, the tide begins to shift. A moving and powerful debut, Let Me Be Like Water is a book about the humdrum and extraordinariness of everyday life; of lost and new connections; of loneliness and friendship.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Sometimes a step away from my usual crime reads is just what I need to refresh and reset.  And sometimes, the step away can be so rewarding as it opens my eyes to some of the greatest reads that I’ve ever stumbled upon.

Let Me Be Like Water is quite a special book, it’s profoundly beautiful.  There’s a rawness to the emotion that the author layers throughout her writing, Holly’s grief is incredibly moving and at times not the easiest to read.  Her heartache over the loss of her boyfriend is so visceral, the loss of his love, his friendship, their shared moments are all hauntingly real.    The struggles to get to a place of “ok” in her mind means that Holly has to rebuild herself, find a way to live without the physical presence of the man she loves but still keep the memories of him alive, and so she moves from London to Brighton.

The metaphor of water in the writing is powerful and mesmerising.  Water has the power to be many things;  it’s a vital resource to keep us alive and yet it can be so dangerous, it can be calming but it can also be turbulent and the way that it flows into Holly’s life is somewhat poetic.  Sitting beside the sea gives Holly a chance to reflect on things, it’s a place that she can go to lose herself in her thoughts and it’s here that life takes on a new meaning.  Meeting Frank and Harris gives Holly something she didn’t know she needed at that moment.  Frank is a retired magician, and a character that I felt so much appreciation for, we need more people like Frank in this world.  He’s almost like a collector of lost souls, the troubled, the hurt, the weary somehow find him, he in turn introducing these souls to others to form some wonderful bonds.  The friendships between the characters in Let Me Be Like Water are ones of great strength and understanding.  No one asks too much of another, each offers support in any way they can and share the love of books and food.  The characterisation is superb, the flawed and damaged cast are so human and realistic, it’s not hard to imagine these people in every walk of life.  Each has a pain or suffering that they’ve learnt to live with, and the way they accept and support each other makes for truly wonderful reading.

Such a moving exploration of loss, that honestly left me feeling so awed.  The way that friendship reaches into the hearts of the characters and redeems them, gives them a liferaft to cling onto and gives them hope makes this such a beautiful and emotive read and one that I cannot recommend highly enough.

You can buy a copy of Let Me Be Like Water via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Melville House (publisher)

About the Author:

 

SK Perry © Naomi Woddis copy

Author Image (c) Naomi Woddis

I’m Sarah, and I’m a fiction writer and poet from Croydon. My first novel, Let Me Be Like Water, was shortlisted for the Mslexia Novel Award and will be published by Melville House in May.

I run creative writing projects that develop emotional literacy, and explore mental health, memory, and healing from violence. I’m interested in multi-lingual literature and translation, and how different languages live and are used in cities. I was the Cityread Young Writer in Residence in Soho in 2014 and I qualified on the Spoken Word Education Programme the following year.

I’m involved in mentoring young poets’ collectives in Hackney, Glasgow, and Tegucigalpa, and I live in South London.

Social Media Links:

Website: https://sk-perry.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/_sarah_perry

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